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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.

'... 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 don't forget your protective gloves!'

"Dobby," growled Harry; this injustice still rankled. "So if you're underage and you do magic inside an adult witch or wizard's house, the Ministry won't know?"

Harry spun around to see Hermione pointing her wand at Ron, her expression wild: The little flock of birds was speeding like a hail of fat golden bullets toward Ron, who yelped and covered his face with his hands, but the birds attacked, pecking and clawing at every bit of flesh they could reach.

"Serves you right for coming with him," he told her severely. "I thought he'd annoy Ron most," said Hermione dispassion-ately. "I debated for a while about Zacharias Smith, but I thought, on the whole —"


"No, no, not History of Magic — Malfoy threatened Borgin with Kim!" said Hermione. "Back in Knockturn Alley, don't you remember? He told Borgin that Greyback was an old family friend and that he'd be checking up on Borgin's progress!"

"Er," said Harry into the sudden silence; he had not expected his plan to backfire like this, "shall. . . shall we go up to the party, then?"

"He accused me of being 'Dumbledore's man through and through.'"

"That's right, Smith, he is," muttered Harry, grinning to him-self, as he dived amongst the Chasers with his eyes searching all around for some hint of the elusive Snitch.

Harry stared at these words for a moment. Hadn't he once, long ago, heard of bezoars? Hadn't Snape mentioned them in their first ever Potions lesson? 'A stone taken from the stomach of a goat, which will protect from most poisons.'


They were all supposed to be listening to a Christmas broadcast by Mrs. Weasleys favorite singer, Celestina Warbeck, whose voice was warbling out of the large wooden wireless set. Fleur, who seemed to find Celestina very dull, was talking so loudly in the corner that a scowling Mrs. Weasley kept pointing her wand at the volume con-trol, so that Celestina grew louder and louder. Under cover of a par-ticularly jazzy number called "A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love," Fred and George started a game of Exploding Snap with Ginny. Ron kept shooting Bill and Fleur covert looks, as though hoping to pick up tips. Meanwhile, Remus Lupin, who was thinner and more ragged-looking than ever, was sitting beside the fire, staring into its depths as though he could not hear Celestinas voice.

"How very rude of him."

"Very," said Mr. Weasley. "I wouldn't mind if we were getting anywhere, but of the three arrests we've made in the last couple of months, I doubt that one of them is a genuine Death Eater — only don't repeat that, Harry," he added quickly, looking much more awake all of a sudden.

Ron looked slightly more cheerful as he delved deeper into his stocking.

"I'll tell you in a minute," said Harry. "Look, Hermione, can't you —"


"So — Apparition," said Ron, his tone making it perfectly plain that Harry was not to mention what had just happened. "Should be a laugh, eh?"


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


"Yes, I'm meeting Cormac at eight, and we're -"


"Yes, he's a vampire," said Luna matter-of-factly. "Father wrote a very long article about it when Scrimgeour first took over from Cornelius Fudge, but he was forced not to publish by somebody from the Ministry. Obviously, they didn't want the truth to get out!",


"You are determined to hate him, Harry," said Lupin with a faint smile. "And I understand; with James as your father, with Sir-ius as your godfather, you have inherited an old prejudice. By all means tell Dumbledore what you have told Arthur and me, but do not expect him to share your view of the matter; do not even expect him to be surprised by what you tell him. It might have been on Dumbledore's orders that Severus questioned Draco." ;;