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Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince 20



I thought you was that Muggle, whispered Morfin. You look mighty like that Muggle.

What Muggle? said Riddle sharply.

That Muggle what my sister took a fancy to, that Muggle what lives in the big house over the way, said Morfin, and he spat unexpectedly upon the floor between them. You look right like him. Riddle. But hes older now, in e? Hes oldern you, now I think on it

Morfin looked slightly dazed and swayed a little, still clutching the edge of the table for support. He come back, see, he added stupidly.

Voldemort was gazing at Morfin as though appraising his possibilities. Now he moved a little closer and said, Riddle came back?

Ar, he left her, and serve her right, marrying filth! said Morfin, spitting on the floor again. Robbed us, mind, before she ran off. , Wheres the locket, eh, wheres Slytherins locket?

Voldemort did not answer. Morfin was working himself into a rage again; he brandished his knife and shouted, Dishonored us, , she did, that little slut! And whore you, coming here and asking questions about all that? Its over, innit Its over

He looked away, staggering slightly, and Voldemort moved forward. As he did so, an unnatural darkness fell, extinguishing Voldemorts lamp and Morfins candle, extinguishing everything Dumbledores fingers closed tightly around Harrys arm and they were soaring back into the present again. The soft golden light in Dumbledores office seemed to dazzle Harrys eyes after that impenetrable darkness.

Is that all? said Harry at once. Why did it go dark, what happened?

Because Morfin could not remember anything from that point onward, said Dumbledore, gesturing Harry back into his seat. When he awoke next morning, he was lying on the floor, quite alone. Marvolos ring had gone.

Meanwhile, in the village of Little Hangleton, a maid was running along the High Street, screaming that there were three bodies lying in the drawing room of the big house: Tom Riddle Senior and his mother and father.

The Muggle authorities were perplexed. As far as I am aware, they do not know to this day how the Riddles died, for the Avadu Kedavra curse does not usually leave any sign of damage The exception sits before me, Dumbledore added, with a nod to Harrys scar. The Ministry, on the other hand, knew at once that this was a wizards murder. They also knew that a convicted Muggle-hater lived across the valley from the Riddle house, a Muggle-hater who had already been imprisoned once for attacking one of the murdered people.

So the Ministry called upon Morfin. They did not need to question him, to use Veritaserum or Legilimency. He admitted to the murder on the spot, giving details only the murderer could know. He was proud, he said, to have killed the Muggles, had been awaiting his chance all these years. He handed over his wand, which was proved at once to have been used to kill the Riddles. And he permitted himself to be led off to Azkaban without a fight.



All that disturbed him was the fact that his fathers ring had disappeared. Hell kill me for losing it, he told his captors over and over again. Hell kill me for losing his ring. And that, apparently, was all he ever said again. He lived out the remainder of his life in Azkaban, lamenting the loss of Marvolos last heirloom, and is buried beside the prison, alongside the other poor souls who have expired within its walls.

So Voldemort stole Morfins wand and used it? said Harry, sitting up straight.

Thats right, said Dumbledore. We have no memories to show us this, but I think we can be fairly sure what happened. Voldemort Stupefied his uncle, took his wand, and proceeded across the valley to the big house over the way. There he murdered the Muggle man who had abandoned his witch mother, and, for good measure, his Muggle grandparents, thus obliterating the last of the unworthy Riddle line and revenging himself upon the father who never wanted him. Then he returned to the Gaunt hovel, performed the complex bit of magic that would implant a false memory in his uncles mind, laid Morfins wand beside its unconscious owner, pocketed the ancient ring he wore, and departed.

And Morfin never realized he hadnt done it?

Never, said Dumbledore. He gave, as I say, a full and boastful confession.

But he had this real memory in him all the time! Yes, but it took a great deal of skilled Legilimency to coax it out of him, said Dumbledore, and why should anybody delve further into Morfins mind when he had already confessed to the crime? However, I was able to secure a visit to Morfin in the last weeks of his life, by which time I was attempting to discover as much as I could about Voldemorts past. I extracted this memory with difficulty. When I saw what it contained, I attempted to use it to secure Morfins release from Azkaban. Before the Ministry reached their decision, however, Morfin had died.

But how come the Ministry didnt realize that Voldemort had done all that to Morfin? Harry asked angrily He was underage at the time, wasnt he? I thought they could detect underage magic! You are quite right they can detect magic, but not the perpetrator: You will remember that you were blamed by the Ministry for the Hover Charm that was, in fact, cast by

Dobby, growled Harry; this injustice still rankled. So if youre underage and you do magic inside an adult witch or wizards house, the Ministry wont know?

They will certainly be unable to tell who performed the magic, said Dumbledore, smiling slightly at the look of great indignation on Harrys face. They rely on witch and wizard parents to enforce their offsprings obedience while within their walls.

Well, thats rubbish, snapped Harry. Look what happened here, look what happened to Morfin!

I agree, said Dumbledore. Whatever Morfin was, he did not deserve to die as he did, blamed for murders he had not committed. But it is getting late, and I want you to see this other memory before we part

Dumbledore took from an inside pocket another crystal phial and Harry fell silent at once, remembering that Dumbledore had said it was the most important one he had collected. Harry noticed that the contents proved difficult to empty into the Pensieve, as though they had congealed slightly; did memories go bad?

This will not take long, said Dumbledore, when he had finally emptied the phial. We shall be back before you know it. Once more into the Pensieve, then

And Harry fell again through the silver surface, landing this time right in front of a man he recognized at once.

It was a much younger Horace Slughorn. Harry was so used to him bald that he found the sight of Slughorn with thick, shiny, straw-colored hair quite disconcerting; it looked as though he had had his head thatched, though there was already a shiny Galleon-sized bald patch on his crown. His mustache, less massive than it was these days, was gingery-blond. He was not quite as rotund as the Slughorn Harry knew, though the golden buttons on his richly embroidered waistcoat were taking a fair amount of strain. His little feet resting upon a velvet pouffe, he was sitting well back in a comfortable winged armchair, one hand grasping a small glass of wine, the other searching through a box of crystalized pineapple.

Harry looked around as Dumbledore appeared beside him and saw that they were standing in Slughorns office. Haifa dozen boys were sitting around Slughorn, all on harder or lower seats than his, and all in their mid-teens. Harry recognized Voldemort at once. His was the most handsome face and he looked the most relaxed of all the boys. His right hand lay negligently upon the arm of his chair; with a jolt, Harry saw that he was wearing Marvolos gold-and-black ring; he had already killed his father.

Sir, is it true that Professor Merrythought is retiring? he asked.

Tom, Tom, if I knew I couldnt tell you, said Slughorn, wagging a reproving, sugar-covered finger at Riddle, though ruining the effect slightly by winking. I must say, Id like to know where you get your information, boy, more knowledgeable than half the staff, you are.

Riddle smiled; the other boys laughed and cast him admiring looks.

What with your uncanny ability to know things you shouldnt, and your careful flattery of the people who matter thank you fm the pineapple, by the way, youre quite right, it is my favorite

As several of the boys tittered, something very odd happened. The whole room was suddenly filled with a thick white fog, so that Harry could see nothing but the face of Dumbledore, who was standing beside him. Then Slughorns voice rang out through the mist, unnaturally loudly, Youll go wrong, boy, mark my words.

The fog cleared as suddenly as it had appeared and yet nobody made any allusion to it, nor did anybody look as though anything unusual had just happened. Bewildered, Harry looked around as a small golden clock standing upon Slughorns desk chimed eleven oclock.

Good gracious, is it that time already? said Slughorn. Youd better get going, boys, or well all be in trouble. Lestrange, I want your essay by tomorrow or its detention. Same goes for you, Avery.

Slughorn pulled himself out of his armchair and carried his empty glass over to his desk as the boys filed out. Voldemort, however, stayed behind. Harry could tell he had dawdled deliberately, wanting to be last in the room with Slughorn.

Look sharp, Tom, said Slughorn, turning around and finding him still present. You dont want to be caught out of bed out of hours, and you a prefect

Sir, I wanted to ask you something.

Ask away, then, mboy, ask away

Sir, I wondered what you know about about Horcruxes?

And it happened all over again: The dense fog filled the room so that Harry could not see Slughorn or Voldemort at all; only Dumbledore, smiling serenely beside him. Then Slughorns voice boomed out again, just as it had done before.

I dont know anything about Horcruxes and I wouldnt tell you if I did! Now get out of here at once and dont let me catch you mentioning them again!

Well, thats that, said Dumbledore placidly beside Harry.

Time to go.

And Harrys feet left the floor to fall, seconds later, back onto the rug in front of Dumbledores desk.

Thats all there is? said Harry blankly.

Dumbledore had said that this was the most important memory of all, but he could not see what was so significant about it. Admittedly the fog, and the fact that nobody seemed to have noticed it, was odd, but other than that nothing seemed to have happened except that Voldemort had asked a question and failed to get an answer.

As you might have noticed, said Dumbledore, reseating himself behind his desk, that memory has been tampered with.

Tampered with? repeated Harry, sitting back down too.

Certainly, said Dumbledore. Professor Slughorn has meddled with his own recollections.

But why would he do that?

Because, I think, he is ashamed of what he remembers, said Dumbledore. He has tried to rework the memory to show himself in a better light, obliterating those parts which he does not wish me to see. It is, as you will have noticed, very crudely done, and that is all to the good, for it shows that the true memory is still there beneath the alterations.

And so, for the first time, I am giving you homework, Harry. It will be your job to persuade Professor Slughorn to divulge the real memory, which will undoubtedly be our most crucial piece of information of all.

Harry stared at him.

But surely, sir, he said, keeping his voice as respectful as possible, you dont need me you could use Legilimency or Veritaserum

Professor Slughorn is an extremely able wizard who will be expecting both, said Dumbledore. He is much more accomplished at Occlumency than poor Morfin Gaunt, and I would be astonished if he has not carried an antidote to Veritaserum with him ever since I coerced him into giving me this travesty of a recollection.

No, I think it would be foolish to attempt to wrest the truth from Professor Slughorn by force, and might do much more harm than good; I do not wish him to leave Hogwarts. However, he has his weaknesses like the rest of us, and I believe that you are the one person who might be able to penetrate his defenses. It is most important that we secure the true memory, Harry How important, we will only know when we have seen the real thing. So, good luck and good night.

A little taken aback by the abrupt dismissal, Harry got to his feet quickly. Good night, sir.

As he closed the study door behind him, he distinctly heard Phineas Nigellus say, I cant see why the boy should be able to do it better than you, Dumbledore.

I wouldnt expect you to, Phineas, replied Dumbledore, and Fawkes gave another low, musical cry.

 

 

CHAPTER 18: Birthday Surprises

 

 

The next day Harry confided in both Ron and Hermione the task that Dumbledore had set him, though separately, for Hermione still refused to remain in Rons presence longer than it took to give him a contemptuous look.

Ron thought that Harry was unlikely to have any trouble with Slughorn at all.

He loves you, he said over breakfast, waving an airy forkful of fried egg. Wont refuse you anything, will he? Not his little Potions Prince. Just hang back after class this afternoon and ask him.

Hermione, however, took a gloomier view.

He must be determined to hide what really happened if Dumbledore couldnt get it out of him, she said in a low voice, as they stood in the deserted, snowy courtyard at break. Horcruxes Horcruxes Ive never even heard of them

You havent?

Harry was disappointed; he had hoped that Hermione might have been able to give him a clue as to what Horcruxes were.

They must be really advanced Dark magic, or why would Voldemort have wanted to know about them? I think its going to be difficult to get the information, Harry, youll have to be very careful about how you approach Slughorn, think out a strategy

Ron reckons I should just hang back after Potions this afternoon

Oh, well, if Won-Won thinks that, youd better do it, she said, flaring up at once. After all, when has Won-Wons judgement ever been faulty?

Hermione, cant you

No! she said angrily, and stormed away, leaving Harry alone and ankle-deep in snow.

Potions lessons were uncomfortable enough these days, seeing as Harry, Ron and Hermione had to share a desk. Today, Hermione moved her cauldron around the table so that she was close to Ernie, and ignored both Harry and Ron.

Whatve you done? Ron muttered to Harry, looking at Hermiones haughty profile.

But before Harry could answer, Slughorn was calling for silence from the front of the room.

Settle down, settle down, please! Quickly, now, lots of work to get through this afternoon! Golpalotts Third Law who can tell me -? But Miss Granger can, of course!

Hermione recited at top speed: Golpalotts-Third-Law states-that-the-antidote-for-a-blended-poison-will-be-equal-to more-than-the-sum-of-the-antidotes-for-each-of-the-separale components.

Precisely! beamed Slughorn. Ten points for Gryffindor! Now, if we accept Golpalotts Third Law as true

Harry was going to have to take Slughorns word for it that Golpalotts Third Law was true, because he had not understood any of it. Nobody apart from Hermione seemed to be following what Slughorn said next, either.

which means, of course, that assuming we have achieved correct identification of the potions ingredients by Scarpins Revelaspell, our primary aim is not the relatively simple one of selecting antidotes to those ingredients in a of themselves, but to find that added component which will, by an almost alchemical process, transform these disparate elements -

Ron was sitting beside Harry with his mouth half-open, doodling absently on his new copy of Advanced Potion-Making. Ron kept forgetting that he could no longer rely on Hermione to help him out of trouble when he failed to grasp what was going on.

and so, finished Slughorn, I want each of you to come and take one of these phials from my desk. You are to create an antidote for the poison within it before the end of the lesson. Good luck, and dont forget your protective gloves!

Hermione had left her stool and was halfway towards Siughorns desk before the rest of the class had realised it was time to move, and by the time Harry, Ron and Ernie returned to the table, she had already tipped the contents of her phial into her cauldron and was kindling a fire underneath it.

its a shame that the Prince wont be able to help you much with this, Harry, she said brightly as she straightened up. You have to understand the principles involved this time. No short cuts or cheats!

Annoyed, Harry uncorked the poison he had taken from Siughorns desk, which was a garish shade of pink, tipped it into his cauldron and lit a fire underneath it. He did not have the faintest idea what he was supposed to do next. He glanced at Ron, who was now standing there looking rather gormless, having copied everything Harry had done.

You sure the Prince hasnt got any tips? Ron muttered to Harry.

Harry pulled out his trusty copy of Advanced Potion-Making and turned to the chapter on Antidotes. There was Golpalotts Third Law, stated word for word as Hermione had recited it, but not a single illuminating note in the Princes hand to explain what it meant. Apparently the Prince, like Hermione, had had no difficulty understanding it.

Nothing, said Harry gloomily.

Hermione was now waving her wand enthusiastically over her cauldron. Unfortunately, they could not copy the spell she was doing because she was now so good at non-verbal incantations that she did not need to say the words aloud. Ernie Macmillan, however, was muttering, Specialis revelio! over his cauldron, which sounded impressive, so Harry and Ron hastened to imitate him.

It took Harry only five minutes to realise that his reputation as the best potion-maker in the class was crashing around his ears. Slughorn had peered hopefully into his cauldron on his first circuit of the dungeon, preparing to exclaim in delight as he usually did, and instead had withdrawn his head hastily, coughing, as the smell of bad eggs overwhelmed him. Hermiones expression could not have been any smugger; she had loathed being out-performed in every Potions class. She was now decanting the mysteriously separated ingredients of her poison into ten different crystal phials. More to avoid watching this irritating sight than anything else, Harry bent over the Half-Blood Princes book and turned a few pages with unnecessary force.

And there it was, scrawled right across a long list of antidotes.

Just shove a bezoar down their throats.

Harry stared at these words for a moment. Hadnt he once, long ago, heard of bezoars? Hadnt Snape mentioned them in their first ever Potions lesson? A stone taken from the stomach of a goat, which will protect from most poisons.

It was not an answer to the Golpalott problem, and had Snape still been their teacher, Harry would not have dared do it, but this was a moment for desperate measures. He hastened towards the store cupboard and rummaged within it, pushing aside unicorn horns and tangles of dried herbs until he found, at the very back, a small card box on which had been scribbled the word Bezoars.

He opened the box just as Slughorn called, Two minutes left, everyone! Inside were half a dozen shrivelled brown objects, looking more like dried-up kidneys than real stones. Harry seized one, put the box back in the cupboard and hurried back to his cauldron.

Times UP! called Slughorn genially. Well, lets see how youve done! Blaise what have you got for me?

Slowly, Slughorn moved around the room, examining the various antidotes. Nobody had finished the task, although Hermione was trying to cram a few more ingredients into her bottle before Slughorn reached her. Ron had given up completely, and was merely trying to avoid breathing in the putrid fumes issuing from his cauldron. Harry stood there waiting, the bezoar clutched in a slightly sweaty hand.

Slughorn reached their table last. He sniffed Ernies potion and passed on to Rons with a grimace. He did not linger over Rons cauldron, but backed away swiftly, retching slightly.

And you, Harry, he said. What have you got to show me?

Harry held out his hand, the bezoar sitting on his palm.

Slughorn looked down at it for a full ten seconds. Harry wondered, for a moment, whether he was going to shout at him. Then he threw back his head and roared with laughter.

Youve got a nerve, boy! he boomed, taking the bezoar and holding it up so that the class could see it. Oh, youre like your mother well, I cant fault you a bezoar would certainly act as an antidote to all these potions!

Hermione, who was sweaty-faced and had soot on her nose, looked livid. Her half-finished antidote, comprising fifty-two ingredients including a chunk of her own hair, bubbled sluggishly behind Slughorn, who had eyes for nobody but Harry.

And you thought of a bezoar all by yourself, did you, Harry? she asked through gritted teeth.

Thats the individual spirit a real potion-maker needs! said Slughorn happily, before Harry could reply. Just like his mother, she had the same intuitive grasp of potion-making, its undoubtedly from Lily he gets it yes, Harry, yes, if youve got a bezoar to hand, of course that would do the trick although as they dont work on everything, and are pretty rare, its still worth knowing how to mix antidotes

The only person in the room looking angrier than Hermione was Malfoy, who, Harry was pleased to see, had spilled something that looked like cat sick over himself. Before either of them could express their fury that Harry had come top of the class by not doing any work, however, the bell rang.

Time to pack up! said Slughorn. And an extra ten points to Gryffindor for sheer cheek!

Still chuckling, he waddled back to his desk at the front of the dungeon.

Harry dawdled behind, taking an inordinate amount of time to do up his bag. Neither Ron nor Hermione wished him luck as they left; both looked rather annoyed. At last Harry and Slughorn were the only two left in the room.

Come on, now, Harry, youll be late for your next lesson, said Slughorn affably, snapping the gold clasps shut on his dragonskin briefcase.

Sir, said Harry, reminding himself irresistibly of Voldemort, I wanted to ask you something.

Ask away, then, my dear boy, ask away

Sir, I wondered what you know about about Horcruxes?

Slughorn froze. His round face seemed to sink in upon itself. He licked his lips and said hoarsely, What did you say? I asked whether you know anything about Horcruxes, sir. You see -

Dumbledore put you up to this, whispered Slughorn.

His voice had changed completely. It was not genial any more, but shocked, terrified. He fumbled in his breast pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, mopping his sweating brow.

Dumbledores shown you that that memory, said Slughorn. Well? Hasnt he?

Yes, said Harry, deciding on the spot that it was best not to lie.

Yes, of course, said Slughorn quietly, still dabbing at his white face. Of course well, if youve seen that memory, Harry, youll know that I dont know anything anything -he repeated the word forcefully about Horcruxes.

He seized his dragonskin briefcase, stuffed his handkerchief back into his pocket and marched to the dungeon door.

Sir, said Harry desperately, I just thought there might be a bit more to the memory -

Did you? said Slughorn. Then you were wrong, werent you? WRONG!

He bellowed the last word and, before Harry could say another word, slammed the dungeon door behind him.

Neither Ron nor Hermione was at all sympathetic when Harry told them of this disastrous interview Hermione was still seething at the way Harry had triumphed without doing the work properly. Ron was resentful that Harry hadnt slipped him a bezoar, too.

It wouldve just looked stupid if wed both done it! said Harry irritably. Look, I had to try and soften him up so I could ask him about Voldemort, didnt I? Oh, will you gel a grip! he added in exasperation, as Ron winced at the sound of the name.

Infuriated by his failure and by Ron and Hermiones attitudes, Harry brooded for the next few days over what to do next about Slughorn. He decided that, for the time being, he would let Slughorn think that he had forgotten all about Horcruxes; it was surely best to lull him into a false sense of security before returning to the attack.

When Harry did noi question Slughorn again, the Potions master reverted to his usual affectionate treatment of him, and appeared to have put the matter from his mind. Harry awaited an invitation to one of his little evening parties, determined to accept this time, even if he had to reschedule Quidditch prac tice. Unfortunately, however, no such invitation arrived. Harry checked with Hermione and Ginny: neither of them had received an invitation and nor, as far as they knew, had anybody else. Harry could not help wondering whether this meant that Slughorn was not quite as forgetful as he appeared, simply determined to give Harry no additional opportunities to question him.

Meanwhile, the Hogwarts library had failed Hermione for the first lime in living memory. She was so shocked, she even forgot that she was annoyed at Harry for his trick with the bezoar, I havent found one single explanation of what Horcruxes do! she told him. Not a single one! Ive been right through the restricted section and even in the most horrible books, where they tell you how to brew the most gruesome potions -nothing! All I could find was this, in the introduciion to Magick Mostc Evilc listen of the Horcrux, wickedest of magical inventions, we shall not speak nor give direction I mean, why mention it, then? she said impatiently, slamming the old book shut; it let out a ghostly wail. Oh, shut up, she snapped, stuffing it back into her bag. I asked whether you know anything about Horcruxes, sir. You see Dumbledore put you up to this, whispered Slughorn, His voice had changed completely. It was not genial any more, but shocked, terrified. He fumbled in his breast pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, mopping his sweating brow.

Dumbledores shown you that that memory, said Slughorn. Well? Hasnt he?

Yes, said Harry, deciding on the spot that it was best not to lie.

Yes, of course, said Slughorn quietly, still dabbing at his white face. Of course well, if youve seen that memory, Harry, youll know that I dont know anything anything -he repeated the word forcefully about Horcruxes.

He seized his dragonskin briefcase, stuffed his handkerchief back into his pocket and marched to the dungeon door.

Sir, said Harry desperately, I just thought there might be a Did you? said Slughorn. Then you were wrong, werent you? WRONG!

He bellowed the last word and, before Harry could say another word, slammed the dungeon door behind him.

Neither Ron nor Hermione was at all sympathetic when Harry told them of this disastrous interview. Hermione was still seething at the way Harry had triumphed without doing the work properly. Ron was resentful that Harry hadnt slipped him a bezoar, too.

It wouldve just looked stupid if wed both done it! said Harry irritably. Look, I had to try and soften him up so I could ask him about Voldemort, didnt I? Oh, will you get a grip! he added in exasperation, as Ron winced at the sound of Infuriated by his failure and by Ron and Hermiones attitudes, Harry brooded for the next few days over what to do next about Slughorn. He decided that, for the time being, he would let Slughorn think that he had forgotten all about Horcruxes; it was surely best to lull him into a false sense of security before returning to the attack.

When Harry did not question Slughorn again, the Potions master reverted to his usual affectionate treatment of him, and appeared to have put the matter from his mind. Harry awaited an invitation to one of his little evening parties, determined to accept this time, even if he had to reschedule Quidditch practice. Unfortunately, however, no such invitation arrived. Harry checked with Hermione and Ginny: neither of them had received an invitation and nor, as far as they knew, had anybody else. Harry could not help wondering whether this meant that Slughorn was not quite as forgetful as he appeared, simply determined to give Harry no additional opportunities to question him.

Meanwhile, the Hogwarts library had failed Hermione for the first time in living memory. She was so shocked, she even forgot that she was annoyed at Harry for his trick with the bezoar.





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