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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.
Breakfast was the usual excitable affair next morning; the Slytherins hissed and booed loudly as every member of the Gryffindor team entered the Great Hall. Harry glanced at the ceiling and saw a clear, pale blue sky: a good omen.
"Rigidly controlled by Riddle, they were never detected in open wrongdoing, although their seven years at Hogwarts were marked by a number of nasty incidents to which they were never satisfactorily linked, the most serious of which was, of course, the opening of the Chamber of Secrets, which resulted in the death of a girl. As you know, Hagrid was wrongly accused of that crime.
"Cheer up, Ron!" called Lavender. "I know you'll be brilliant!" : Ron ignored her.
"Not necessarily," said Lupin. "Jinxes go in and out of fashion like everything else."
"No thanks," said Harry quickly. "I don't like it much."
Harry frowned, trying to remember. "I'm not sure ... Snape definitely said 'your master,' and who else would that be?"
She raised her quill and dotted an 'i' so ferociously that she punctured a hole in her parchment. Harry said nothing. He thought his voice might soon vanish from the lack of use. He bent a little lower over Advanced Potion-Making and continued to make notes on Everlasting Elixirs, occasionally pausing to decipher the p rince's useful additions to Libatius B orage's text.
Infuriated by his failure and by Ron and Hermione's atti-
Harry and Ron joined the crowd that was jostling around the notice and taking it in turns to write their names at the bottom. Ron was just taking out his quill to sign after Hermione when Lavender crept up behind him, slipped her hands over his eyes, and trilled, "Guess who, Won-Won?" Harry turned to see Hermione stalking off; he caught up with her, having no wish to stay behind with Ron and Lavender, but to his surprise, Ron caught up with them only a little way beyond the portrait hole, his ears bright red and his expression disgruntled. Without a word, Hermione sped up to walk with Neville.
"What do you mean?" '
'Sir,' said Harry desperately, '1 just thought there might be a
Scrimgeour did not speak for a moment but his expression hard-ened instantly. "I would not expect you to understand," he said, and he was not as successful at keeping anger out of his voice as Harry had been. "These are dangerous times, and certain measures need to be taken. You are sixteen years old —"
The only person in the room looking angrier than Hermione was Malfoy, who, Harry was pleased to see, had spilled some-thing 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.
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 Ron's presence longer than it took to give him a contemptuous look.
"Whoa!" whispered Seamus, and he, Dean, and Neville put their heads a little closer to hear what Apparition felt like. For the rest of the day, Harry was besieged with requests from the other sixth years to describe the sensation of Apparition. All of them seemed awed, rather than put off, when he told them how uncomfortable it was, and he was still answering detailed questions at ten to eight that evening, when he was forced to lie and say that he needed to return a book to the library, so as to escape in time for his lesson with Dumbledore.。