Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince 24

No way! said Harry angrily.

I see we are of one mind, said Dumbledore. Certainly, then are many similarities between this death and that of the Riddles. In both cases, somebody else took the blame, someone who had a clear memory of having caused the death Hokey confessed?

She remembered putting something in her mistresss cocoa that turned out not to be sugar, but a lethal and little-known poison, said Dumbledore. It was concluded that she had not meant to do it, but being old and confused

Voldemort modified her memory, just like he did with Morfin! Yes, that is my conclusion too, said Dumbledore. And, just as with Morfin, the Ministry was predisposed to suspect Hokey

because she was a house-elf, said Harry. He had rarely felt more in sympathy with the society Hermione had set up, S.P.E.W. Precisely, said Dumbledore. She was old, she admitted to having tampered with the drink, and nobody at the Ministry bothered to inquire further. As in the case of Morfin, by the time I traced her and managed to extract this memory, her life was almost over but her memory, of course, proves nothing except that Voldemort knew of the existence of the cup and the locket.

By the time Hokey was convicted, Hepzibahs family had realized that two of her greatest treasures were missing. It took them a while to be sure of this, for she had many hiding places, having always guarded her collection most jealously. But before they were sure beyond doubt that the cup and the locket were both gone, the assistant who had worked at Borgin and Burkes, the young man who had visited Hepzibah so regularly and charmed her so well, had resigned his post and vanished. His superiors had no idea where he had gone; they were as surprised as anyone at his disappearance. And that was the last that was seen or heard of Tom Riddle for a very long time.

Now, said Dumbledore, if you dont mind, Harry, I want to pause once more to draw your attention to certain points of our story. Voldemort had committed another murder; whether it was his first since he killed the Riddles, I do not know, but I think it was. This time, as you will have seen, he killed not for revenge, but for gain. He wanted the two fabulous trophies that poor, besotted, old woman showed him. Just as he had once robbed the other children at his orphanage, just as he had stolen his Uncle Morfins ring, so he ran off now with Hepzibahs cup and locket.

But, said Harry, frowning, it seems mad Risking everything, throwing away his job, just for those

Mad to you, perhaps, but not to Voldemort, said Dumbledore. I hope you will understand in due course exactly what those objects meant to him, Harry, but you must admit that it is not difficult to imagine that he saw the locket, at least, as rightfully his. The locket maybe, said Harry, but why take the cup as well?

It had belonged to another of Hogwartss founders, said Dumbledore. I think he still felt a great pull toward the school and that he could not resist an object so steeped in Hogwarts history. There were other reasons, I think I hope to be able to demonstrate them to you in due course.

And now for the very last recollection I have to show you, at least until you manage to retrieve Professor Slughorns memory for us. Ten years separates Hokeys memory and this one, ten years during which we can only guess at what Lord Voldemort was doing Harry got to his feet once more as Dumbledore emptied the last memory into the Pensieve.

Whose memory is it? he asked. Mine, said Dumbledore.

And Harry dived after Dumbledore through the shifting silver mass, landing in the very office he had just left. There was Fawkes slumbering happily on his perch, and there behind the desk was Dumbledore, who looked very similar to the Dumbledore standing beside Harry, though both hands were whole and undamaged and his face was, perhaps, a little less lined. The one difference between the present-day office and this one was that it was snowing in the past; bluish flecks were drifting past the window in the dark and building up on the outside ledge.

The younger Dumbledore seemed to be waiting for something, and sure enough, moments after their arrival, there was a knock on the door and he said, Enter.

Harry let out a hastily stifled gasp. Voldemort had entered the room. His features were not those Harry had seen emerge from the great stone cauldron almost two years ago: They were not as snake-like, the eyes were not yet scarlet, the face not yet masklike, and yet he was no longer handsome Tom Riddle. It was as though his features had been burned and blurred; they were waxy and oddly distorted, and the whites of the eyes now had a permanently bloody look, though the pupils were not yet the slits that Harry knew they would become. He was wearing a long black cloak, and his face was as pale as the snow glistening on his shoulders.

The Dumbledore behind the desk showed no sign of surprise. Evidently this visit had been made by appointment.

Good evening, Tom, said Dumbledore easily. Wont you sit down?

Thank you, said Voldemort, and he took the seat to which Dumbledore had gestured the very seat, by the looks of it, that Harry had just vacated in the present. I heard that you had become headmaster, he said, and his voice was slightly higher and colder than it had been. A worthy choice.

I am glad you approve, said Dumbledore, smiling. May I offer you a drink?

That would be welcome, said Voldemort. I have come a long way.

Dumbledore stood and swept over to the cabinet where he now kept the Pensieve, but which then was full of bottles. Having handed Voldemort a goblet of wine and poured one for himself, he returned to the seat behind his desk. . So, Tom to what do I owe the pleasure?

Voldemort did not answer at once, but merely sipped his wine.

They do not call me Tom anymore, he said. These days, I am known as

I know what you are known as, said Dumbledore, smiling, pleasantly. But to me, Im afraid, you will always be Tom Riddle. It is one of the irritating things about old teachers. I am afraid that they never quite forget their charges youthful beginnings.

He raised his glass as though toasting Voldemort, whose face remained expressionless. Nevertheless, Harry felt the atmosphere in the room change subtly: Dumbledores refusal to use Voldemorts chosen name was a refusal to allow Voldemort to dictate the terms of the meeting, and Harry could tell that Voldemort took it as such.

I am surprised you have remained here so long, said Voldemort after a short pause. I always wondered why a wizard such as yourself never wished to leave school.

Well, said Dumbledore, still smiling, to a wizard such as myself, there can be nothing more important than passing on ancient skills, helping hone young minds. If I remember correctly, you once saw the attraction of teaching too.

I see it still, said Voldemort. I merely wondered why you who are so often asked for advice by the Ministry, and who have twice, I think, been offered the post of Minister

Three times at the last count, actually, said Dumbledore. But the Ministry never attracted me as a career. Again, something we have in common, I think.

Voldemort inclined his head, unsmiling, and took another sip of wine. Dumbledore did not break the silence that stretched between them now, but waited, with a look of pleasant expectancy, for Voldemort to talk first.

I have returned, he said, after a little while, later, perhaps, than Professor Dippet expected but I have returned, nevertheless, to request again what he once told me I was too young to have. I have come to you to ask that you permit me to return to this castle, to teach. I think you must know that I have seen and done much since I left this place. I could show and tell your students things they can gain from no other wizard.

Dumbledore considered Voldemort over the top of his own goblet for a while before speaking.

Yes, I certainly do know that you have seen and done much since leaving us, he said quietly. Rumors of your doings have reached your old school, Tom. I should be sorry to believe half of them.

Voldemorts expression remained impassive as he said, Greatness inspires envy, envy engenders spite, spite spawns lies. You must know this, Dumbledore.

You call it greatness, what you have been doing, do you? asked Dumbledore delicately.

Certainly, said Voldemort, and his eyes seemed to burn red. I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed

Of some kinds of magic, Dumbledore corrected him quietly. Of some. Of others, you remain forgive me woefully ignorant.

For the first time, Voldemort smiled. It was a taut leer, an evil thing, more threatening than a look of rage.

The old argument, he said softly. But nothing I have seen in the world has supported your famous pronouncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic, Dumbledore.

Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places, suggested Dumbledore.

Well, then, what better place to start my fresh researches than here, at Hogwarts? said Voldemort. Will you let me return? Will you let me share my knowledge with your students? I place myself and my talents at your disposal. I am yours to command.

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. And what will become of those whom you command? What will happen to those who call themselves or so rumor has it the Death Eaters?

Harry could tell that Voldemort had not expected Dumbledore to know this name; he saw Voldemorts eyes flash red again and the slitlike nostrils flare.

My friends, he said, after a moments pause, will carry on without me, I am sure.

I am glad to hear that you consider them friends, said Dumbledore. I was under the impression that they are more in the order of servants.

You are mistaken, said Voldemort.

Then if I were to go to the Hogs Head tonight, I would not find a group of them Nott, Rosier, Muldber, Dolohov awaiting your return? Devoted friends indeed, to travel this far with you on a snowy night, merely to wish you luck as you attempted to secure a teaching post.

There could be no doubt that Dumbledores detailed knowledge of those with whom he was traveling was even less welcome to Voldemort; however, he rallied almost at once.

You are omniscient as ever, Dumbledore.

Oh no, merely friendly with the local barmen, said Dumbledore lightly. Now, Tom

Dumbledore set down his empty glass and drew himself up in his seat, the tips of his fingers together in a very characteristic gesture.

Let us speak openly. Why have you come here tonight, surrounded by henchmen, to request a job we both know you do not want?

Voldemort looked coldly surprised. A job I do not want? On the contrary, Dumbledore, I want it very much.

Oh, you want to come back to Hogwarts, but you do not want to teach any more than you wanted to when you were eighteen. What is it youre after, Tom? Why not try an open request for once?

Voldemort sneered. If you do not want to give me a job

Of course I dont, said Dumbledore. And I dont think for a moment you expected me to. Nevertheless, you came here, you asked, you must have had a purpose.

Voldemort stood up. He looked less like Tom Riddle than ever, his features thick with rage. This is your final word?

It is, said Dumbledore, also standing.

Then we have nothing more to say to each other.

No, nothing, said Dumbledore, and a great sadness filled his face. The time is long gone when I could frighten you with a burning wardrobe and force you to make repayment for your crimes. But I wish I could, Tom I wish I could

For a second, Harry was on the verge of shouting a pointless warning: He was sure that Voldemorts hand had twitched toward his pocket and his wand; but then the moment had passed, Voldemort had turned away, the door was closing, and he was gone.

Harry felt Dumbledores hand close over his arm again and moments later, they were standing together on almost the same spot, but there was no snow building on the window ledge, and Dumbledores hand was blackened and dead-looking once more.

Why? said Harry at once, looking up into Dumbledores face. Why did he come back? Did you ever find out?

I have ideas, said Dumbledore, but no more than that.

What ideas, sir?

I shall tell you, Harry, when you have retrieved that memory from Professor Slughorn, said Dumbledore.

When you have that last piece of the jigsaw, everything will, I hope, be clear to both of us.

Harry was still burning with curiosity and even though Dumbledore had walked to the door and was holding it open for him, he did not move at once.

Was he after the Defense Against the Dark Arts job again, sir? He didnt say

Oh, he definitely wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, said Dumbledore. The aftermath of our little meeting proved that. You see, we have never been able to keep a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for longer than a year since I refused the post to Lord Voldemort.



CHAPTER 21: The Unknowable Room



Harry wracked his brains over the next week as to how he was to persuade Slughorn to hand over the true memory, but nothing in the nature of a brain wave occurred and he was reduced to doing what he did increasingly these days when at a loss: poring over his Potions book, hoping that the Prince would have scribbled something useful in a margin, as he had done so many times before.

You wont find anything in there, said Hermione firmly, late on Sunday evening.

Dont start, Hermione, said Harry. If it hadnt been for the Prince, Ron wouldnt be sitting here now.

He would if youd just listened to Snape in our first year, said Hermione dismissively.

Harry ignored her. He had just found an incantation Sectum-sempra! scrawled in a margin above the intriguing words For enemies, and was itching to try it out, but thought it best not to in front of Hermione. Instead, he surreptitiously folded down the corner of the page. They were sitting beside the fire in the common room; the only other people awake were fellow sixth years. There had been a certain amount of excitement earlier when they had come back from dinner to find a new sign on the notice board that announced the date for their Apparition Test. Those who would be seventeen on or before the first test date, the twenty-first of April, had the option of signing up for additional practice sessions, which would take place (heavily supervised) in Hogsmeade.

Ron had panicked on reading this notice; he had still not managed to Apparate and feared he would not be ready for the test. Hermione, who had now achieved Apparition twice, was a little more confident, but Harry, who would not be seventeen for another four months, could not take the test whether ready or not.

At least you can Apparate, though! said Ron tensely. Youll have no trouble come July!

Ive only done it once, Harry reminded him; he had finally managed to disappear and rematerialize inside his hoop during their previous lesson.

Having wasted a lot of time worrying aloud about Apparition, Ron was now struggling to finish a viciously difficult essay for Snape that Harry and Hermione had already completed. Harry fully expected to receive low marks on his, because he had disagreed with Snape on the best way to tackle dementors, but he did not care: Slughorns memory was the most important thing to him now.

Im telling you, the stupid Prince isnt going to be able to help you with this, Harry! said Hermione, more loudly. Theres only one way to force someone to do what you want, and thats the Imperius Curse, which is illegal

Yeah, I know that, thanks, said Harry, not looking up from the book. Thats why Im looking for something different. Dumbledorf says Veritaserum wont do it, but there might be something else, a potion or a spell

Youre going about it the wrong way, said Hermione. Only you can get the memory, Dumbledore says. That must mean you can persuade Slughorn where other people cant. Its not a question of slipping him a potion, anyone could do that

How do you spell belligerent? said Ron, shaking his quill very hard while staring at his parchment. It cant be B U M

No, it isnt, said Hermione, pulling Rons essay toward her. And augury doesnt begin O R G either. What kind of quill are you using?

Its one of Fred and Georges Spell-Check ones, but I think the charm must be wearing off.

Yes, it must, said Hermione, pointing at the title of his essay, because we were asked how wed deal with dementors, not Dug-bogs, and I dont remember you changing your name to Roonil Wazlib either.

Ah no! said Ron, staring horror-struck at the parchment. Dont say Ill have to write the whole thing out again!

Its okay, we can fix it, said Hermione, pulling the essay toward her and taking out her wand.

I love you, Hermione, said Ron, sinking back in his chair, rubbing his eyes wearily. Hermione turned faintly pink, but merely said, Dont let Lavender hear you saying that.

I wont, said Ron into his hands. Or maybe I will, then shell ditch me.

Why dont you ditch her if you want to finish it? asked Harry.

You havent ever chucked anyone, have you? said Ron. You and Cho just

Sort of fell apart, yeah, said Harry.

Wish that would happen with me and Lavender, said Ron gloomily, watching Hermione silently tapping each of his misspelled words with the end of her wand, so that they corrected themselves on the page. But the more I hint I want to finish it, the tighter she holds on. Its like going out with the giant squid.

There, said Hermione, some twenty minutes later, handing back Rons essay.

Thanks a million, said Ron. Can I borrow your quill for the conclusion? Harry, who had found nothing useful in the Half-Blood Princes notes so far, looked around; the three of them were now the only ones left in the common room, Seamus having just gone up to bed cursing Snape and his essay. The only sounds were the crackling of the fire and Ron scratching out one last paragraph on dementors using Hermiones quill. Harry had just closed the Half-Blood Princes book, yawning, when


Hermione let out a little shriek; Ron spilled ink all over his freshly completed essay, and Harry said, Kreacher!

The house-elf bowed low and addressed his own gnarled toes. Master said he wanted regular reports on what the Malfoy boy is doing, so Kreacher has come to give-


Dobby appeared alongside Kreacher, his tea-cozy hat askew. Dobby has been helping too, Harry Potter! he squeaked, casting Kreacher a resentful look. And Kreacher ought to tell Dobby when he is coming to see Harry Potter so they can make their reports together!

What is this? asked Hermione, still looking shocked by these sudden appearances. Whats going on, Harry? Harry hesitated before answering, because he had not told Hermione about setting Kreacher and Dobby to tail Malfoy; house-elves were always such a touchy subject with her.

Well theyve been following Malfoy for me, he said.

Night and day, croaked Kreacher.

Dobby has not slept for a week, Harry Potter! said Dobby proudly, swaying where he stood. Hermione looked indignant.

You havent slept, Dobby? But surely, Harry, you didnt tell him not to

No, of course I didnt, said Harry quickly. Dobby, you can sleep, all right? But has either of you found out anything? he hastened to ask, before Hermione could intervene again.

Master Malfoy moves with a nobility that befits his pure blood, croaked Kreacher at once. His features recall the fine bones of my mistress and his manners are those of

Draco Malfoy is a bad boy! squeaked Dobby angrily. A bad boy who who He shuddered from the tassel of his tea cozy to the toes of his socks and then ran at the fire, as though about to dive into it. Harry, to whom this was not entirely unexpected, caught him around the middle and held him fast. For a few seconds Dobby struggled, then went limp.

Thank you, Harry Potter, he panted. Dobby still finds it difficult to speak ill of his old masters. Harry released him; Dobby straightened his tea cozy and said defiantly to Kreacher, But Kreacher should know that Draco Malfoy is not a good master to a house-elf!

Yeah, we dont need to hear about you being in love with Malfoy, Harry told Kreacher. Lets fast forward to where hes actually been going.

Kreacher bowed again, looking furious, and then said, Master Malfoy eats in the Great Hall, he sleeps in a dormitory in the dungeons, he attends his classes in a variety of

Dobby, you tell me, said Harry, cutting across Kreacher. Has he been going anywhere he shouldnt have?

Harry Potter, sir, squeaked Dobby, his great orblike eyes shining in the firelight, the Malfoy boy is breaking no rules that Dobby can discover, but he is still keen to avoid detection. He has been making regular visits to the seventh floor with a variety of other students, who keep watch for him while he enters

The Room of Requirement! said Harry, smacking himself hard on the forehead with Advanced Potion-Making. Hermione and Ron stared at him. Thats where hes been sneaking off to! Thats where hes doing whatever hes doing! And I bet thats why hes been disappearing off the map come to think of it, Ive never seen the Room of Requirement on there!

Maybe the Marauders never knew the room was there, said Ron.

I think itll be part of the magic of the room, said Hermione. If you need it to be unplottable, it will be.

Dobby, have you managed to get in to have a look at what Malfoys doing? said Harry eagerly.

No, Harry Potter, that is impossible, said Dobby.

No, its not, said Harry at once. Malfoy got into our headquarters there last year, so Ill be able to get in and spy on him, no problem.

But I dont think you will, Harry, said Hermione slowly. Malfoy already knew exactly how we were using the room, didnt he, because that stupid Marietta had blabbed. He needed the room to become the headquarters of the D.A., so it did. But you dont know what the room becomes when Malfoy goes in there, so you dont know what to ask it to transform into.

Therell be a way around that, said Harry dismissively. Youve done brilliantly, Dobby.

Kreachers done well too, said Hermione kindly; but far from looking grateful, Kreacher averted his huge, bloodshot eyes and croaked at the ceiling, The Mudblood is speaking to Kreacher, Kreacher will pretend he cannot hear

Get out of it, Harry snapped at him, and Kreacher made one last deep bow and Disapparated. Youd better go and get some sleep too, Dobby.

Thank you, Harry Potter, sir! squeaked Dobby happily, and he too vanished.

How good is this? said Harry enthusiastically, turning to Ron and Hermione the moment the room was elf-free again. We know where Malfoys going! Weve got him cornered now!

Yeah, its great, said Ron glumly, who was attempting to mop up the sodden mass of ink chat had recently been an almost completed essay. Hermione pulled it toward her and began siphoning the ink off with her wand.

But whats all this about him going up there with a variety of students? said Hermione. How many people are in on it? You wouldnt think hed trust lots of them to know what hes doing-

Yeah, that is weird, said Harry, frowning. I heard him telling Crabbe it wasnt Crabbes business what he was doing so whats he telling all these all these Harrys voice tailed away; he was staring at the fire. God, Ive been stupid, he said quietly. Its obvious, isnt it? There was a great vat of it down in the dungeon He couldve nicked some any time during that lesson

Nicked what? said Ron.

Polyjuice Potion. He stole some of the Polyjuice Potion Slug-horn showed us in our first Potions lesson There arent a whole variety of students standing guard for Malfoy its just Crabbe and Goyle as usual. Yeah, it all fits! said Harry, jumping up and starting to pace in front of the fire. Theyre stupid enough to do what theyre told even if he wont tell them what hes up to, but he doesnt want them to be seen lurking around outside the Room of Requirement, so hes got them taking Polyjuice to make them look like other people Those two girls I saw him with when he missed Quidditch ha! Crabbe and Goyle!

Do you mean to say, said Hermione in a hushed voice, that that little girl whose scales I repaired ?

Yeah, of course! said Harry loudly, staring at her. Of course! Malfoy mustve been inside the room at the time, so she what am I talking about? he dropped the scales to tell Malfoy not to corne out, because there was someone there! And there was that girl who dropped the toadspawn too! Weve been walking past him all the time and not realizing it!

Hes got Crabbe and Goyle transforming into girls? guffawed Ron. Blimey no wonder they dont look too happy these days. Im surprised they dont tell him to stuff it.

Well, they wouldnt, would they, if hes shown them his Dark Mark? said Harry.

Hmmm the Dark Mark we dont know exists, said Hermione skeptically, rolling up Rons dried essay before it could come to any more harm and handing it to him.

Well see said Harry confidently.

Yes, we will, Hermione said, getting to her feet and stretching. But, Harry, before you get all excited, I still dont think youll be able to get into the Room of Requirement without knowing whats there first. And I dont think you should forget she heaved her bag onto her shoulder and gave him a very serious look that what youre supposed to be concentrating on is getting that memory from Slughorn. Good night.

Harry watched her go, feeling slightly disgruntled. Once the door to the girls dormitories had closed behind her he rounded on Ron. What dyou think?

Wish I could Disapparate like a house-elf, said Ron, staring at the spot where Dobby had vanished. Id have that Apparition Test in the bag.

Harry did not sleep well that night. He lay awake for what felt like hours, wondering how Malfoy was using the Room of Requirement and what he, Harry, would see when he went in there the following day, for whatever Hermione said, Harry was sure that if Malfoy had-= been able to see the headquarters of the D.A., he would be able to see Malfoys, what could it be? A meeting place? A hideout? A ston room? A workshop? Harrys mind worked feverishly and his dreams, when he finally fell asleep, were broken and disturbed by images of Malfoy, who turned into Slughorn, who turned into Snape

Harry was in a state of great anticipation over breakfast the following morning; he had a free period before Defense Against the Dark Arts and was determined to spend it trying to get into the Room of Requirement. Hermione was rather ostentatiously showing no interest in his whispered plans for forcing entry into the room, which irritated Harry, because he thought she might be a lot of help if she wanted to.

Look, he said quietly, leaning forward and putting a hand on the Daily Prophet, which she had just removed from a post owl, to stop her from opening it and vanishing behind it. I havent forgotten about Slughorn, but I havent got a clue how to get that memory off him, and until I get a brain wave why shouldnt I find out what Malfoys doing?

Ive already told you, you need to persuade Slughorn, said Hermione. Its not a question of tricking him or bewitching him, or Dumbledore could have done it in a second. Instead of messing around outside the Room of Requirement she jerked the Prophet out from under Harrys hand and unfolded it to look at the front page you should go and find Slughorn and start appealing to his better nature.

Anyone we know ? asked Ron, as Hermione scanned the headlines.

Yes! said Hermione, causing both Harry and Ron to gag on their breakfast. But its all right, hes not dead its Mundungus, hes been arrested and sent to Azkaban! Something to do with impersonating an Inferius during an attempted burglary, and someone called Octavius Pepper has vanished. Oh, and how horrible, a nine-year-old boy has been arrested for trying to kill his grandparents, they think he was under the Imperius Curse.

They finished their breakfast in silence. Hermione set off immediately for Ancient Runes; Ron for the common room, where he still had to finish his conclusion on Snapes dementor essay, and Harry for the corridor on the seventh floor and the stretch of wall opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy teaching trolls to do ballet.

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