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that Dumbledore's bright blue eyes looked rather watery, ami stared hastily at his own knees. When Dumbledore spoke, however, his voice was quite steady.
"Mphf?" said Mr. Weasley, whose head had been nodding over the satsuma he was peeling. "Oh yes ... marvelous tune . . ."
"I don't know," said Hermione, biting her lip. "Maybe his father?"
"It's nothing to do with me!" said Harry indignantly. "The Half-Blood Prince is someone who used to go to Hogwarts, I've got his old Potions book. He wrote spells all over it, spells he invented. One of them was Levicorpus —"
-=-Harry looked at her shrewdly. "Hermione, if you can ask 0111 McLaggen —"
Harry walked across the yard toward the Weasleys' overgrown, snow-covered garden, Scrimgeour limping slightly at his side. He had, Harry knew, been Head of the Auror office; he looked tough and battle-scarred, very different from portly Fudge in his bowler hat.
"Oh, and here comes Slytherin's first attempt on goal, it's Urquhart streaking down the pitch and —"
tudes, 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.
"You can try," said Harry indifferently. "But you seem cleverer than Fudge, so I'd have thought you'd have learned from his mis-takes. He tried interfering at Hogwarts. You might have noticed he's not Minister anymore, but Dumbledore’s still headmaster. I'd leave Dumbledore alone, if I were you."
'Good morning,' said the Ministry wizard, when all the stu-dents had arrived and the Heads of House had called for quiet. 'My name is Wilkie Twycross and I shall be your Ministry-Apparition Instructor for the next twelve weeks. 1 hope to be able to prepare you for your Apparition test in this time -'
"Ask away, then, m'boy, ask away...."
"Er," said Harry, "were you?"
He accepted a glass of eggnog from Mr. Weasley with a word of thanks, looking slightly more cheerful, Harry, meanwhile, felt a rush of excitement: This last mention of his father had reminded him that there was something he had been looking forward to ask-ing Lupin.
Abandoning pretense, Harry said, "And it wasn't Sirius? Or you?"
"I dunno," said Harry. "They were at Slughorn's party together, but I don't think it went that well."
Hermione's schedule was so full that Harry could only talk to her properly in the evenings, when Ron was, in any case, so tightly wrapped around Lavender that he did not notice what Harry was doing. Hermione refused to sit in the common room while Ron was there, So Harry generally joined her in the library, which meant that their conversations were held in whispers.
"All right," she said cheerfully, and he thought he heard her, as he hurried off into the crowd, resume the subject of the Rotfang Conspiracy with Professor Trelawney, who seemed sincerely in terested. It was easy, once out of the party, to pull his Invisibility Cloak out of his pocket and throw it over himself, for the corridor was quite deserted. What was more difficult was finding Snape and Malfoy. Harry ran down the corridor, the noise of his feet masked by the music and loud talk still issuing from Slughorn's office behind him. Perhaps Snape had taken Malfoy to his office in the dungeons ... or perhaps he was escorting him back to the Slyt herin common room. . . . Harry pressed his ear against door after door as he dashed down the corridor until, with a great jolt of excitement, he crouched down to the keyhole of the last classroom in the corridor and heard voices.;