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"It's nothing, nothing," said Slughorn, waving away Malfoy's t hanks. "I did know your grandfather, after all...."
"Let us say that I did not take it for granted that he was trustworthy," said Dumbledore. "I had, as I have already indicated, resolved to keep a close eye upon him, and so I did. I cannot pretend that I gleaned a great deal from my observations at first. He was very guarded with me; he felt, I am sure, that in the thrill of discovering his true identity he had told me a little too much. He was careful never to reveal as much again, but he could not take back what he had let slip in his excitement, nor what Mrs. Cole had confided in me. However, he had the sense never to try and charm me as he charmed so many of my colleagues.
"AHA!" screamed a voice from overhead and both of them jumped; unnoticed by either of them, they had just passed underneath Peeves, who was hanging upside down from a chandelier and grinning maliciously at them.
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.
"It looks like he's eating her face, doesn't it?" said Ginny dispas-sionately. "But I suppose he's got to refine his technique somehow. Good game, Harry."
"Ar, he left her, and serve her right, marrying filth!" said Morfin, spitting on the floor again. "Robbed us, mind, before she ran off. , Where's the locket, eh, where's Slytherin's locket?"
"But," said Harry, "just say — just say Dumbledores wrong about Snape —"
He seized his dragonskin briefcase, stuffed his handkerchief back into his pocket and marched to the dungeon door.
"But if I keep running in and out of the Ministry," said Harry, still endeavoring to keep his voice friendly, "won't that seem as though I approve of what the Ministry's up to?"
'Time's ... UP!' called Slughorn genially. 'Well, let's see how you've done! Blaise ... what have you got for me?'
'Nothing,' said Harry gloomily.
Late in the afternoon, a few days after New Year, Harry, Ron, and Ginny lined up beside the kitchen fire to return to Hogwarts. The Ministry had arranged this one-off connection to the Floo Network to return students quickly and safely to the school. Only Mrs. Weasley was there to say good-bye, as Mr. Weasley, Fred, George, Bill, and Fleur were all at work. Mrs. Weasley dissolved into tears at the moment of parting. Admittedly, it took very little to set her off lately; she had been crying on and off ever since Percy had stormed from the house on Christmas Day with his glasses splattered with mashed parsnip (for which Fred, George, and Ginny all claimed credit).
And Harry fell again through the silver surface, landing this time right in front of a man he recognized at once.
gling from the chain in large gold letters were the words:
"Why didn't you confiscate them then?" demanded Harry, it seemed extraordinary that Hermione's m ania for upholding the rules could have abandoned her at this crucial juncture.
It took Harry only five minutes to realise that his reputa-tion 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 with-drawn his head hastily, coughing, as the smell of bad eggs overwhelmed him. Hermione's 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 any-thing else, Harry bent over the Half-Blood Prince's book and turned a few pages with unnecessary force.;