Friday, December 3, 2010

Chapter 34 The Forest Again

Chapter 34 The Forest Again

Finally, the truth. Lying with his face pressed into the dusty carpet of the office where he had once thought he was learning the secrets of victory, Harry understood at last that he was not supposed to survive. His job was to walk calmly into Death’s welcoming arms. Along the way, he was to dispose of Voldemort’s remaining links to life, so that when at last he flung himself across Voldemort’s path, and did not raise a wand to defend himself, the end would be clean, and the job that ought to have been done in Godric’s Hollow would be finished. Neither would live, neither could survive.

He felt his heart pounding fiercely in his chest. How strange that in his dread of death, it pumped all the harder, valiantly keeping him alive. But it would have to stop, and soon. Its beats were numbered. How many would there be time for, as he rose and walked through the castle for the last time, out into the grounds and into the forest?

Terror washed over him as he lay on the floor, with that funeral drum pounding inside him. Would it hurt to die? All those times he had thought that it was about to happen and escaped, he had never really thought of the thing itself: His will to live had always been so much stronger than his fear of death. Yet it did not occur to him now to try to escape, to outrun Voldemort. It was over, he knew it, and all that was left was the thing itself: dying.

If he could only have died on that summer’s night when he had left number four, Privet Drive, for the last time, when the noble phoenix feather wand had saved him! If he could only have died like Hedwig, so quickly he would not have known it had happened! Or if he could have launched himself in front of a wand to save someone he loved… He envied even his parents’ deaths now. This cold-blooded walk to his own destruction would require a different kind of bravery. He felt his fingers trembling slightly and made an effort to control them, although no one could see him; the portraits on the walls were all empty.

Slowly, very slowly, he sat up, and as he did so he felt more alive and more aware of his own living body than ever before. Why had he never appreciated what a miracle he was, brain and nerve and bounding heart? It would all be gone… or at least, he would be gone from it. His breath came slow and deep, and his mouth and throat were completely dry, but so were his eyes.

“No, I don’t think so

“No, I don’t think so,” said Dumbledore’s portrait. “He will know what to do with it. And Severus, be very careful, they may not take kindly to your appearance after George Weasley’s mishap – ”

Snape turned at the door.

“Don’t worry, Dumbledore,” he said coolly. “I have a plan…”

And Snape left the room. Harry rose up out of the Pensieve, and moments later he lay on the carpeted floor in exactly the same rooms Snape might just have closed the door.

“Always,” said Snape.

“Always,” said Snape.

And the scene shifted. Now, Harry saw Snape talking to the portrait of Dumbledore behind his desk.

“You will have to give Voldemort the correct date of Harry’s departure from his aunt and uncle’s,“ said Dumbledore. ”Not to do so will raise suspicion, when Voldemort believes you so well informed. However, you must plant the idea of decoys; that, I think, ought to ensure Harry’s safety. Try Confunding Mundungus Fletcher. And Severus, if you are forced to take part in the chase, be sure to act your part convincingly…I am counting upon you to remain in Lord Voldemort’s good books as long as possible, or Hogwarts will be left to the mercy of the Carrows…“

Now Snape was head to head with Mundungus in an unfamiliar tavern, Mundungus’s face looking curiously blank, Snape frowning in concentration.

“You will suggest to the Order of the Phoenix,“ Snape murmured, ”that they use decoys. Polyjuice Potion. Identical Potters. It’s the only thing that might work. You will forget that I have suggested this. You will present it as your own idea. You understand?“

“I understand,” murmured Mundungus, his eyes unfocused…

Now Harry was flying alongside Snape on a broomstick through a clear dark night: He was accompanied by other hodded Death Eaters, and ahead were Lupin and a Harry who was really George… A Death Eater moved ahead of Snape and raised his wand, pointing it directly at Lupin’s back.

“Sectumsempra!“ shouted Snape.

But the spell, intended for the Death Eater’s wand hand, missed and hit George instead –

And next, Snape was kneeling in Sirius’s old bedroom. Tears were dripping from the end of his hooked nose as he read the old letter from Lily. The second page carried only a few words: could ever have been friends with Gellert Grindelwald. I think her mind’s going, personally!

Lots of love, Lily

Snape took the page bearing Lily’s signature, and her love, and tucked it inside his robes. Then he ripped in two the photograph he was also holding, so that he kept the part from which Lily laughed, throwing the portion showing James and Harry back onto the floor, under the chest of drawers…

And now Snape stood again in the headmaster’s study as Phineas Nigellus came hurrying into his portrait.

“Headmaster! They are camping in the Forest of Dean! The Mudblood – ”

“Do not use that word!”

“ – the Granger girl, then, mentioned the place as she opened her bag and I heard her!”

“Good. Very good!” cried the portrait of Dumbledore behind the headmaster’s chair. “Now, Severus, the sword! Do not forget that it must be taken under conditions of need and valor – and he must not know that you give it! If Voldemort should read Harry’s mind and see you acting for him – ”

“I know,” said Snape curtly. He approached the portrait of Dumbledore and pulled at its side. It swung forward, revealing a hidden cavity behind it from which he took the sword of Gryffindor.

“And you still aren’t going to tell me why it’s so important to give Potter the sword?” said Snape as he swung a traveling cloak over his robes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

“It means the name died out,”

“It means the name died out,” said Hermione, “centuries ago, in the case of the Peverells. They could still have descendents, though, they’d just be called something different.”

And then it came to Harry in one shining piece, the memory that had stirred at the sound of the name “Peverell”: a filthy old man brandishing an ugly ring in the face of a Ministry official, and he cried aloud, “Marvolo Gaunt!”

“Sorry” said Ron and Hermione together.

“Marvolo Gaunt! You-Know-Who’s grandfather! In the Pensieve! With Dumbledore! Marvolo Gaunt said he was descended from the Peverells!”

Ron and Hermione looked bewildered.

“The ring, the ring that became the Horcrux, Marvolo Gaunt said it had the Peverell coat of arms on it! I saw him waving it in the bloke from the Ministry’s face, he nearly shoved it up his nose!”

“The Peverell coat of arms?” said Hermione sharply. “Could you see what it looked like?”

“Not really,” said Harry, trying to remember. “There was nothing fancy on there, as far as I could see; maybe a few scratches. I only ever saw it really close up after it had been cracked open.”

Harry saw Hermione’s comprehension in the sudden widening of her eyes. Ron was looking from one to the other, astonished.

“Blimey…You reckon it was this sign again? The sign of the Hallows?”

“Why not?” said Harry excitedly, “Marvolo Gaunt was an ignorant old git who lived like a pig, all he cared about was his ancestry. If that ring had been passed down through the centuries, he might not have known what it really was. There were no books in that house, and trust me, he wasn’t the type to read fairy tales to his kids. He’d have loved to think the scratches on the stone were a coat of arms, because as far as he was concerned, having pure blood made you practically royal.”

“Yes…and that’s all very interesting,” said Hermione cautiously, “but Harry, if you’re thinking what I think you’re think –”

“Well, why not? Why not?” said Harry, abandoning caution. “It was a stone, wasn’t it?” He looked at Ron for support. “What if it was the Resurrection Stone?”

Ron’s mouth fell open.

“Blimey – but would it still work if Dumbledore broke –?”

“Work? Work? Ron, it never worked! There’s no such thing as a Resurrection Stone!”

Hermione leapt to her feet, looking exasperated and angry. “Harry you’re trying to fit everything into the Hallows story –”

“Fit everything in?” he repeated. “Hermione, it fits of its own accord! I know the sign of the Deathly Hallows was on that stone! Gaunt said he was descended from the Peverells!”

“A minute ago you told us you never saw the mark on the stone properly!”

“Where’d you reckon the ring is now?” Ron asked Harry. “What did Dumbledore do with it after he broke it open?”

But Harry’s imagination was racing ahead, far beyond Ron and Hermione’s…

Three objects, or Hallows, which, if united, will make the possessor master of Death…Master…Conqueror…Vanquisher…The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death…

And he saw himself, possessor of the Hallows, facing Voldemort, whose Horcruxes were no match…Neither can live while the other survives…Was this the answer? Hallows versus Horcruxes? Was there a way after all, to ensure that he was the one who triumphed? If he were the master of the Deathly Hallows, would he be safe?


But he scarcely heard Hermione: He had pulled out his Invisibility Cloak and was running it through his fingers, the cloth supple as water, light as air. He had never seen anything to equal it in his nearly seven years in the Wizarding world. The Cloak was exactly what Xenophilius had described: A cloak that really and truly renders the wearer completely invisible, and endures eternally, giving constant and impenetrable concealment, no matter what spells are cast at it…

And then, with a gasp, he remembered –

“Dumbledore had my Cloak the night my parents died!”

His voice shook and he could feel the color in his face, but he did not care.

“My mum told Sirius that Dumbledore borrowed the Cloak! This is why! He wanted to examine it, because he thought it was the third Hallow! Ignotus Peverell is buried in Godric’s Hollow…” Harry was walking blindly around the tent, feeling as though great new vistas of truth were opening all around him. “He’s my ancestor. I’m descended from the third brother! It all makes sense!”

“He felt armed in certainty, in his belief in the Hallows, as if the mere idea of possessing them was giving him protection, and he felt joyous as he turned back to the other two.”

“Harry,” said Hermione again, but he was busy undoing the pouch around his neck, his fingers shaking hard.

“Read it,” he told her, pushing his mother’s letter into her hand. “Read it! Dumbledore had the Cloak, Hermione! Why else would he want it? He didn’t need a Cloak, he could perform a Disillusionment Charm so powerful that he made himself completely invisible without one!”

Something fell to the floor and rolled, glittering, under a chair: He had dislodged the Snitch when he pulled out the letter. He stooped to pick it up, and then the newly tapped spring of fabulous discoveries threw him another gift, and shock and wonder erupted inside him so that he shouted out.

“IT’S IN HERE! He left me the ring – it’s in the Snitch!”

“You – you reckon?”

He could not understand why Ron looked taken aback. It was so obvious, so clear to Harry. Everything fit, everything…His Cloak was the third Hallow, and when he discovered how to open the Snitch he would have the second, and then all he needed to do was find the first Hallow, the Elder Wand, and then –

But it was as though a curtain fell on a lit stage: All his excitement, all his hope and happiness were extinguished at a stroke, and he stood alone in the darkness, and the glorious spell was broken.

“That’s what he’s after.”

The change in his voice made Ron and Hermione look even more scared.

“You-Know-Who’s after the Elder Wand.”

He turned his back on their strained, incredulous faces. He knew it was the truth. It all made sense, Voldemort was not seeking a new wand; he was seeking an old wand, a very old wand indeed. Harry walked to the entrance of the tent, forgetting about Ron and Hermione as he looked out into the night, thinking…

Voldemort had been raised in a Muggle orphanage. Nobody could have told him The Tales of Beedle the Bard when he was a child, any more than Harry had heard them. Hardly any wizards believed in the Deathly Hallows. Was it likely that Voldemort knew about them?

Harry gazed into the darkness…If Voldemort had known about the Deathly Hallows, surely he would have sought them, done anything to possess them: three objects that made the possessor master of Death? If he had known about the Deathly Hallows, he might not have needed Horcruxes in the first place. Didn’t the simple fact that he had taken a Hallow, and turned it into a Horcrux, demonstrate that he did not know this last great Wizarding secret?

Which meant that Voldemort sought the Elder Wand without realizing its full power, without understanding that it was one of three…for the wand was the Hallow that could not be hidden, whose existence was best known…The bloody trail of the Elder Wand is splattered across the pages of Wizarding history…

Harry watched the cloudy sky, curves of smoke-gray and silver sliding over the face of the white moon. He felt lightheaded with amazement at his discoveries.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The lift doors opened. They had reached

The lift doors opened. They had reached the Atrium. Mr. Weasley gave Harry a scathing look and swept from the lift. Harry stood there, shaken. He wished he was impersonating somebody other than Runcorn…. The lift doors clanged shut.

Harry pulled out the Invisibility Cloak and put it back on. He would try to extricate Hermione on his own while Ron was dealing with the raining office. When the doors opened, he stepped out into a torch-lit stone passageway quite different from the wood-paneled and carpeted corridors above. As the left rattled away again, Harry shivered slightly, looking toward the distant black door that marked the entrance to the Department of Mysteries.

He set off, his destination not the black door, but the doorway he remembered on the left hand side, which opened onto the flight of stairs down to the court chambers.

His mind grappled with possibilities as he crept down them: He still had a couple of Decoy Detonators, but perhaps it would be better to simply knock on the courtroom door, enter as Runcorn, and ask for a quick word with Mafalda? Of course, he did not know whether Runcorn was sufficiently important to get away with this, and even if he managed it, Hermione’s non-reappearance might trigger a search before they were clear of the Ministry….

Lost in thought, he did not immediately register the unnatural chill that was creeping over him, as if he were descending into fog. It was becoming colder and colder with every step he took; a cold that reached right down his throat and tore at his lungs. And then he felt that stealing sense of despair, or hopelessness, filling him, expanding inside him….

Dementors, he thought.

And as he reached the foot of the stairs and turned to his right he saw a dreadful scene. The dark passage outside the courtrooms was packed with tall, black-hooded figures, their faces completely hidden, their ragged breathing the only sound in the place. The petrified Muggle-borns brought in for questioning sat huddled and shivering on hard wooden benches. Most of them were hiding their faces in their hands, perhaps in an instinctive attempt to shield themselves from the dementors’ greedy mouths. Some were accompanied by families, others sat alone. The dementors were gliding up and down in front of them, and the cold, and the hopelessness, and the despair of the place laid themselves upon Harry like a curse….

Fight it, he told himself, but he knew that he could not conjure a Patronus here without revealing himself instantly. So he moved forward as silently as he could, and with every step he took numbness seemed to steal over his brain, but he forced himself to think of Hermione and of Ron, who needed him.

Moving through the towering black figures was terrifying: The eyeless faces hidden beneath their hoods turned as he passed, and he felt sure that they sensed him, sensed, perhaps, a human presence that still had some hope, some resilience….

And then, abruptly and shockingly amid the frozen silence, one of the dungeon doors on the left of the corridor was flung open and screams echoed out of it.

“No, no, I’m half-blood, I’m half-blood, I tell you! My father was a wizard, he was, look him up, Arkie Alderton, he’s a well known broomstick designer, look him up, I tell you – get your hands off me, get your hands off – ”

“This is your final warning,” said Umbridge’s soft voice, magically magnified so that it sounded clearly over the man’s desperate screams. “If you struggle, you will be subjected to the Dementor’s Kiss.”

The man’s screams subsided, but dry sobs echoed through the corridor.

“Take him away,” said Umbridge.

Two dementors appeared in the doorway of the courtroom, their rotting, scabbed hands clutching the upper arms of a wizard who appeared to be fainting. They glided away down the corridor with him, and the darkness they trailed behind them swallowed him from sight.

“Next – Mary Cattermole,” called Umbridge.

A small woman stood up; she was trembling from head to foot. Her dark hair was smoothed back into a bun and she wore long plain robes. Her face was completely bloodless. As she passed the dementors, Harry saw her shudder.

He did it instinctively, without any sort of plan, because he hated the sight of her walking alone into the dungeon: As the door began to swing closed, he slipped into the courtroom behind her.

It was not the same room in which he had once been interrogated for improper use of magic. This one was much smaller, though the ceiling was quite as high it gave the claustrophobic sense of being stuck at the bottom of a deep well.

There were more dementors in here, casting their freezing aura over the place; they stood like faceless sentinels in the corners farthest from the high, raised platform. Here, behind a balustrade, sat Umbridge, with Yaxley on one side of her, and Hermione, quite as white-faced as Mrs. Cattermole, on the other. At the foot of the platform, a bight-silver, long-haired cat prowled up and down, up and down, and Harry realized that it was there to protect the prosecutors from the despair that emanated from the dementors: That was for the accused to feel, not the accusers.

“Sit down,” said Umbridge in her soft, silky voice.

Mrs. Cattermole stumbled to the single seat in the middle of the floor beneath the raised platform. The moment she had sat down, chains clinked out of the arms of the chair and bound her there.

“You are Mary Elizabeth Cattermole?” asked Umbridge.

Mrs. Cattermole gave a single, shaky nod.

“Married to Reginald Cattermole of the Magical Maintenance Department?”

Mrs. Cattermole burst into tears.

“I don’t know where he is, he was supposed to meet me here!”

Umbridge ignored her.

“Mother to Maisie, Ellie and Alfred Cattermole?”

Mrs. Cattermole sobbed harder than ever.

“They’re frightened, they think that I might not come home – ”

“Spare us,” spat Yaxley. “The brats of Mudbloods do not stir our sympathies.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chapter 5 Fallen Warrior

Chapter 5 Fallen Warrior


Harry struggled to raise himself out of the debris of metal and leather that surrounded him; his hands sank into inches of muddy water as he tried to stand. He could not understand where Voldemort had gone and expected him to swoop out of the darkness at any moment. Something hot and wet was trickling down his chin and from his forehead. He crawled out of the pond and stumbled toward the great dark mass on the ground that was Hagrid.

“Hagrid? Hagrid, talk to me – “

But the dark mass did not stir.

“Who’s there? Is it Potter? Are you Harry Potter?”

Harry did not recognize the man’s voice. Then a woman shouted. “They’ve crashed. Ted! Crashed in the garden!”

Harry’s head was swimming.

“Hagrid,” he repeated stupidly, and his knees buckled.

The next thing he knew, he was lying on his back on what felt like cushions, with a burning sensation in his ribs and right arm. His missing tooth had been regrown. The scar on his forehead was still throbbing.


He opened his eyes and saw that he was lying on a sofa in an unfamiliar, lamplit sitting room. His rucksack lay on the floor a short distance away, wet and muddy. A fair-haired, big-bellied man was watching Harry anxiously.

“Hagrid’s fine, son,” said the man, “the wife’s seeing to him now. How are you feeling? Anything else broken? I’ve fixed your ribs, your tooth, and your arm. I’m Ted, by the way, Ted Tonks – Dora’s father.”

Harry sat up too quickly. Lights popped in front of his eyes and he felt sick and giddy.

“Voldemort – ”

“Easy, now,” said Ted Tonks, placing a hand on Harry’s shoulder and pushing him back against the cushions. “That was a nasty crash you just had. What happened, anyway? Something go wrong with the bike? Arthur Weasley overstretch himself again, him and his Muggle contraptions?”

“No,” said Harry, as his scar pulsed like an open wound. “Death Eaters, loads of them – we were chased – ”

“Death Eaters?” said Ted sharply. “What d’you mean, Death Eaters? I thought they didn’t know you were being moved tonight, I thought – ”

“They knew,” said Harry.

Ted Tonks looked up at the ceiling as though he could see through it to the sky above.

“Well, we know our protective charms hold, then, don’t we? They shouldn’t be able to get within a hundred yards of the place in any direction.”

Now Harry understood why Voldemort had vanished; it had been at the point when the motorbike crossed the barrier of the Order’s charms. He only hoped they would continue to work: He imagined Voldemort, a hundred yards above them as they spoke, looking for a way to penetrate what Harry visualized as a great transparent bubble.

He swung his legs off the sofa; he needed to see Hagrid with his own eyes before he would believe that he was alive. He had barely stood up, however, when a door opened and Hagrid squeezed through it, his face covered in mud and blood, limping a little but miraculously alive.


Knocking over two delicate tables and an aspidistra, he covered the floor between them in two strides and pulled Harry into a hug that nearly cracked his newly repaired ribs. “Blimey, Harry, how did yeh get out o’ that? I thought we were both goners.”

“Yeah, me too. I can’t believe – ”

Harry broke off. He had just noticed the woman who had entered the room behind Hagrid.

“You!” he shouted, and he thrust his hand into his pocket, but it was empty.

“Your wand’s here, son,” said Ted, tapping it on Harry’s arm. “It fell right beside you, I picked it up…And that’s my wife you’re shouting at.”

“Oh, I’m – I’m sorry.”

As she moved forward into the room, Mrs. Tonks’s resemblance to her sister Bellatrix became much less pronounced: Her hair was a light soft brown and her eyes were wider and kinder. Nevertheless, she looked a little haughty after Harry’s exclamation.

“What happened to our daughter?” she asked. “Hagrid said you were ambushed; where is Nymphadora?”

“I don’t know,” said Harry. “We don’t know what happened to anyone else.”

She and Ted exchanged looks. A mixture of fear and guilt gripped Harry at the sight of their expressions, if any of the others had died, it was his fault, all his fault. He had consented to the plan, given them his hair…

“The Portkey,” he said, remembering all of a sudden. “We’ve got to get back to the Burrow and find out – then we’ll be able to send you word, or – or Tonks will, once she’s – ”

“Dora’ll be ok, ‘Dromeda,” said Ted. “She knows her stuff, she’s been in plenty of tight spots with the Aurors. The Portkey’s through here,” he added to Harry.

“It’s supposed to leave in three minutes, if you want to take it.”
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Monday, November 29, 2010



The noise was coming from a corridor nearby; Harry sprinted towards it, his wand at the ready, hurtled round another corner and saw Professor Trelawney sprawled upon

the floor, her head covered in one of her many shawls, several sherry bottles lying beside her, one broken.


Harry hurried forwards and helped Professor Trelawney to her feet. Some of her glittering beads had become entangled with her glasses. She hiccoughed loudly, patted her

hair and pulled herself up on Harry's helping arm.

“What happened, Professor?”

“You may well ask!” she said shrilly. “I was strolling along, brooding upon certain Dark portents I happen to have glimpsed ...”

But Harry was not paying much attention. He had just noticed where they were standing: there on the right was the tapestry of dancing trolls and, on the left, that

smoothly impenetrable stretch of stone wall that concealed—

“Professor, were you trying to get into the Room of Requirement?”

“... omens I have been vouchsafed—what?”

She looked suddenly shifty.

“The Room of Requirement,” repeated Harry. “Were you trying to get in there?”

“I—well—I didn't know students knew about—”

“Not all of them do,” said Harry. “But what happened? You screamed ... it sounded as though you were hurt...”

“I—well,” said Professor Trelawney, drawing her shawls around her defensively and staring down at him with her vastly magnified eyes. “I wished to—ah—deposit

certain – um—personal items in the Room ...” And she muttered something about “nasty accusations".

“Right,” said Harry, glancing down at the sherry bottles. “But you couldn't get in and hide them?”

He found this very odd; the Room had opened for him, after all, when he had wanted to hide the Half-Blood Prince's book.

“Oh, I got in all right,” said Professor Trelawney, glaring at the wall. “But there was somebody already in there.”

“Somebody in—? Who?” demanded Harry. “Who was in there?”

“The truth is that you don't think

“The truth is that you don't think a girl would have been clever enough,” said Hermione angrily.

“How can I have hung round with you for five years and not think girls are clever?” said Harry, stung by this. “It's the way he writes. I just know the Prince was a

bloke, I can tell. This girl hasn't got anything to do with it. Where did you get this, anyway?”

“The library,” said Hermione, predictably. “There's a whole collection of old Prophets up there. Well, I'm going to find out more about Eileen Prince if I can.”

“Enjoy yourself,” said Harry irritably.

“I will,” said Hermione. “And the first place I'll look,” she shot at him, as she reached the portrait hole, “is records of old Potions awards!”

Harry scowled after her for a moment, then continued his contemplation of the darkening sky.

“She's just never got over you outperforming her in Potions,” said Ron, returning to his copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi.

“You don't think I'm mad, wanting that book back, do you?”

“Course not,” said Ron robustly. “He was a genius, the Prince. Anyway ... without his bezoar tip ...” he drew his finger significantly across his own throat, “I

wouldn't be here to discuss it, would I? I mean, I'm not saying that spell you used on Malfoy was great—”

“Nor am I,” said Harry quickly.

“But he healed all right, didn't he? Back on his feet in no time.”

“Yeah,” said Harry; this was perfectly true, although his conscience squirmed slightly all the same. “Thanks to Snape ...”

“You still got detention with Snape this Saturday?” Ron continued.

“Yeah, and the Saturday after that, and the Saturday after that,” sighed Harry. “And he's hinting now that if I don't get all the boxes done by the end of term,

we'll carry on next year.”

He was finding these detentions particularly irksome because they cut into the already limited time he could have been spending with Ginny. Indeed, he had frequently

wondered lately whether Snape did not know this, for he was keeping Harry later and later every time, while making pointed asides about Harry having to miss the good

weather and the varied opportunities it offered.

Harry was shaken from these bitter reflections by the appearance at his side of Jimmy Peakes, who was holding out a scroll of parchment.

“Thanks, Jimmy ... hey, it's from Dumbledore!” said Harry excitedly, unrolling the parchment and scanning it. “He wants me to go to his office as quick as I can!”

They stared at each other.

“Blimey,” whispered Ron. “You don't reckon ... he hasn't found ...?”

“Better go and see, hadn't I?” said Harry, jumping to his feet.

He hurried out of the common room and along the seventh floor as fast as he could, passing nobody but Peeves, who swooped past in the opposite direction, throwing bits

of chalk at Harry in a routine sort of way and cackling loudly as he dodged Harry's defensive jinx. Once Peeves had vanished, there was silence in the corridors; with

only fifteen minutes left until curfew, most people had already returned to their common rooms.

And then Harry heard a scream and a crash. He stopped in his tracks, listening.

“What about?” said Harry suspiciously

“What about?” said Harry suspiciously. Only the previous day, Hermione had told him off for distracting Ginny when she ought to be working hard for her examinations.

“The so-called Half-Blood Prince.”

“Oh, not again,” he groaned. “Will you please drop it?”

He had not dared to return to the Room of Requirement to retrieve his book, and his performance in Potions was suffering accordingly (though Slughorn, who approved of

Ginny, had jocularly attributed this to Harry being lovesick). But Harry was sure that Snape had not yet given up hope of laying hands on the Prince's book, and was

determined to leave it where it was while Snape remained on the lookout.

“I'm not dropping it,” said Hermione firmly, “until you've heard me out. Now, I've been trying to find out a bit about who might make a hobby of inventing Dark


“He didn't make a hobby of it—”

“He, he—who says it's a he?”

“We've been through this,” said Harry crossly. “Prince, Hermione, Prince!”

“Right!” said Hermione, red patches blazing in her cheeks as she pulled a very old piece of newsprint out of her pocket and slammed it down on the table in front of

Harry. “Look at that! Look at the picture!”

Harry picked up the crumbling piece of paper and stared at the moving photograph, yellowed with age; Ron leaned over for a look, too. The picture showed a skinny girl

of around fifteen. She was not pretty; she looked simultaneously cross and sullen, with heavy brows and a long, pallid face. Underneath the photograph was the caption:

Eileen Prince, Captain of the Hogwarts Gobstones Team.

“So?” said Harry, scanning the short news item to which the picture belonged; it was a rather dull story about inter-school competitions.

“Her name was Eileen Prince. Prince, Harry.”

They looked at each other and Harry realised what Hermione was trying to say. He burst out laughing.

“No way.”


“You think she was the Half-Blood...? Oh, come on.”

“Well, why not? Harry, there aren't any real princes in the wizarding world! It's either a nickname, a made-up title somebody's given themselves, or it could be their

actual name, couldn't it? No, listen! If, say, her father was a wizard whose surname was ‘Prince', and her mother was a Muggle, then that would make her a ‘half-blood


“Yeah, very ingenious, Hermione ...”

“But it would! Maybe she was proud of being half a Prince!”

“Listen, Hermione, I can tell it's not a girl. I can just tell.”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

“Excuse me?” said Harry.

“Excuse me?” said Harry.

“You heard me. I saw you. You just tipped something into Ron's drink. You've got the bottle in your hand right now!”

“I dont know what you're talking about,” said Harry, stowing the little bottle hastily in his pocket.

“Ron, I warn you, don't drink it!” Hermione said again, alarmed, but Ron picked up the glass, drained it in one gulp, and said, “Stop bossing me around, Hermione.”

She looked scandalized. Bending low so that only Harry could hear her, she hissed, “You should be expelled for that. I'd never have believed it of you, Harry!”

“Look who's talking,” he whispered back. “Confunded anyone lately?”

She stormed up the table away from them. Harry watched her go without regret. Hermione had never really understood what a serious business Quidditch was. He then looked

around at Ron, who was smacking his lips.

“Nearly time,” said Harry blithely.

The frosty grass crunched underfoot as they strode down to the stadium.

“Pretty lucky the weathers this good, eh?” Harry asked Ron.

“Yeah,” said Ron, who was pale and sick-looking.

Ginny and Demelza were already wearing their Quidditch robes and waiting in the changing room.

“Conditions look ideal,” said Ginny, ignoring Ron. “And guess what? That Slytherin Chaser Vaisey — he took a Bludger in the head yesterday during their practice,

and he's too sore to play! And even better than that—Malfoy's gone off sick too!”

“What?” said Harry, wheeling around to stare at her. “He's ill? What's wrong with him?”

“No idea, but it's great for us,” said Ginny brightly. “They're playing Harper instead; he's in my year and he's an idiot.”

Harry smiled back vaguely, but as he pulled on his scarlet robes his mind was far from Quidditch. Malfoy had once before claimed he could not play due to injury, but on

that occasion he had made sure the whole match was rescheduled for a time that suited the Slytherins better. Why was he now happy to let a substitute go on? Was he

really ill, or was he faking?

“Fishy, isn't it?” he said in an undertone to Ron. “Malfoy not playing?”

“Lucky, I call it,” said Ron, looking slightly more animated. “And Vaisey off too, he's their best goal scorer, I didn't fancy—hey!” he said suddenly, freezing

halfway through pulling on his Keepers gloves and staring at Harry.


“I... you...” Ron had dropped his voice, he looked both scared and excited. “My drink ... my pumpkin juice ... you didn't...?”

Harry raised his eyebrows, but said nothing except, “We'll be starting in about five minutes, you'd better get your boots on.”

“I know you haven't got any

“I know you haven't got any time to find another Keeper, so I'll play tomorrow, but if we lose, and we will, I'm taking myself off the team.”

Nothing Harry said made any difference. He tried boosting Ron's confidence all through dinner, but Ron was too busy being grumpy and surly with Hermione to notice.

Harry persisted in the common room that evening, but his assertion that the whole team would be devastated if Ron left was somewhat undermined by the fact that the rest

of the team was sitting in a huddle in a distant corner, clearly muttering about Ron and casting him nasty looks. Finally Harry tried getting angry again in the hope of

provoking Ron into a defiant, and hopefully goal-saving, attitude, but this strategy did not appear to work any better than encouragement; Ron went to bed as dejected

and hopeless as ever.

Harry lay awake for a very long time in the darkness. He did not want to lose the upcoming match; not only was it his first as Captain, but he was determined to beat

Draco Malfoy at Quidditch even if he could not yet prove his suspicions about him. Yet if Ron played as he had done in the last few practices, their chances of winning

were very slim...

If only there was something he could do to make Ron pull himself together... make him play at the top of his form... something that would ensure that Ron had a really

good day...

And the answer came to Harry in one, sudden, glorious stroke of inspiration.

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.

The Gryffindor table, a solid mass of red and gold, cheered as Harry and Ron approached. Harry grinned and waved; Ron grimaced weakly and shook his head.

“Cheer up, Ron!” called Lavender. “I know you'll be brilliant!”

Ron ignored her.

“Tea?” Harry asked him. “Coffee? Pumpkin juice?”

“Anything,” said Ron glumly, taking a moody bite of toast.

A few minutes later Hermione, who had become so tired of Ron's recent unpleasant behavior that she had not come down to breakfast with them, paused on her way up the


“How are you both feeling?” she asked tentatively, her eyes on the back of Ron's head.

“Fine,” said Harry, who was concentrating on handing Ron a glass of pumpkin juice. “There you go, Ron. Drink up.”

Ron had just raised the glass to his lips when Hermione spoke sharply.

“Don't drink that, Ron!”

Both Harry and Ron looked up at her.

“Why not?” said Ron.

Hermione was now staring at Harry as though she could not believe her eyes.

“You just put something in that drink.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bellatrix said nothing

Bellatrix said nothing, but looked, for the first time, a little discomfited. Snape did not press the point. He picked up his drink again, sipped it, and continued, “You ask where I was when the Dark Lord fell. I was where he had ordered me to be, at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, because he wished me to spy upon Albus Dumbledore. You know, I presume, that it was on the Dark Lord's orders that I took up the post?”

She nodded almost imperceptibly and then opened her mouth, but Snape forestalled her.

“You ask why I did not attempt to find him when he vanished. For the same reason that Avery, Yaxley, the Carrows, Greyback, Lucius,” he inclined his head slightly to Narcissa, “and many others did not attempt to find him. I believed him finished. I am not proud of it, I was wrong, but there it is... if he had not forgiven we who lost faith at that time, he would have very few followers left.”

“He'd have me!” said Bellatrix passionately. “I, who spent many years in Azkaban for him!”

“Yes, indeed, most admirable,” said Snape in a bored voice. “Of course, you weren't a lot of use to him in prison, but the gesture was undoubtedly fine—”

“Gesture!” she shrieked; in her fury she looked slightly mad. “While I endured the dementors, you remained at Hogwarts, comfortably playing Dumbledore's pet!”

“Not quite,” said Snape calmly. “He wouldn't give me the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, you know. Seemed to think it might, ah, bring about a relapse... tempt me into my old ways.”

“This was your sacrifice for the Dark Lord, not to teach your favorite subject?” she jeered. “Why did you stay there all that time, Snape? Still spying on Dumbledore for a master you believed dead?”

“Hardly,” said Snape, “although the Dark Lord is pleased that I never deserted my post: I had sixteen years of information on Dumbledore to give him when he returned, a rather more useful welcome-back present than endless reminiscences of how unpleasant Azkaban is...”

“But you stayed —”

“Yes, Bellatrix, I stayed,” said Snape, betraying a hint of impatience for the first time. “I had a comfortable job that I preferred to a stint in Azkaban. They were rounding up the Death Eaters, you know. Dumbledore's protection kept me out of jail; it was most convenient and I used it. I repeat: The Dark Lord does not complain that I stayed, so I do not see why you do.

“I think you next wanted to know,” he pressed on, a little more loudly, for Bellatrix showed every sign of interrupting, “why I stood between the Dark Lord and the Sorcerer's Stone. That is easily answered. He did not know whether he could trust me. He thought, like you, that I had turned from faithful Death Eater to Dumbledore's stooge. He was in a pitiable condition, very weak, sharing the body of a mediocre wizard. He did not dare reveal himself to a former ally if that ally might turn him over to Dumbledore or the Ministry. I deeply regret that he did not trust me. He would have returned to power three years sooner. As it was, I saw only greedy and unworthy Quirrell attempting to steal the stone and, I admit, I did all I could to thwart him.”

Bellatrix's mouth twisted as though she had taken an unpleasant dose of medicine.

“But you didn't return when he came back, you didn't fly back to him at once when you felt the Dark Mark burn —”

“Correct. I returned two hours later. I returned on Dumbledore's orders.”

“On Dumbledore's—?” she began, in tones of outrage.

“Think!” said Snape, impatient again. “Think! By waiting two hours, just two hours, I ensured that I could remain at Hogwarts as a spy! By allowing Dumbledore to think that I was only returning to the Dark Lord's side because I was ordered to, I have been able to pass information on Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix ever since! Consider, Bellatrix: the Dark Mark had been growing stronger for months. I knew he must be about to return, all the Death Eaters knew! I had plenty of time to think about what I wanted to do, to plan my next move, to escape like Karkaroff, didn't I?

“The Dark Lord's initial displeasure at my lateness vanished entirely, I assure you, when I explained that I remained faithful, although Dumbledore thought I was his man. Yes, the Dark Lord thought that I had left him forever, but he was wrong.”

“But what use have you been?” sneered Bellatrix. “What useful information have we had from you?”

“My information has been conveyed directly to the Dark Lord,” said Snape. “If he chooses not to share it with you —”

“He shares everything with me!” said Bellatrix, firing up at once. “He calls me his most loyal, his most faithful —”

“Does he?” said Snape, his voice delicately inflected to suggest his disbelief. “Does he still, after the fiasco at the Ministry?”

“That was not my fault!” said Bellatrix, flushing. “The Dark Lord has, in the past, entrusted me with his most precious—if Lucius hadn't —”

“Don't you dare—don't you dare blame my husband!” said Narcissa, in a low and deadly voice, looking up at her sister.

“There is no point apportioning blame,” said Snape smoothly. “What is done, is done.”

“But not by you!” said Bellatrix furiously. “No, you were once again absent while the rest of us ran dangers, were you not, Snape?”

“My orders were to remain behind,” said Snape. “Perhaps you disagree with the Dark Lord, perhaps you think that Dumbledore would not have noticed if I had joined forces with the Death Eaters to fight the Order of the Phoenix? And—forgive me—you speak of dangers... you were facing six teenagers, were you not?”

“They were joined, as you very well know, by half of the Order before long!” snarled Bellatrix. “And, while we are on the subject of the Order, you still claim you cannot reveal the whereabouts of their headquarters, don't you?”

“I am not the Secret-Keeper; I cannot speak the name of the place. You understand how the enchantment works, I think? The Dark Lord is satisfied with the information I have passed him on the Order. It led, as perhaps you have guessed, to the recent capture and murder of Emmeline Vance, and it certainly helped dispose of Sirius Black, though I give you full credit for finishing him off.”

He inclined his head and toasted her. Her expression did nor soften.

“You are avoiding my last question, Snape. Harry Potter. You could have killed him at any point in the past five years. You have not done it. Why?”

“Have you discussed this matter with the Dark Lord?” asked Snape.

“He... lately, we... I am asking you, Snape!”

“If I had murdered Harry Potter, the Dark Lord could not have used his blood to regenerate, making him invincible —”

“You claim you foresaw his use of the boy!” she jeered.

“I do not claim it; I had no idea of his plans; I have already confessed that I thought the Dark Lord dead. I am merely trying to explain why the Dark Lord is not sorry that Potter survived, at least until a year ago...”

“But why did you keep him alive?”
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Monday, November 22, 2010

"Come, don't let your imagination run away with you

"Come, don't let your imagination run away with you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch piteously. "Why was it none would give it, then?"
"Why, because he has an understanding with the merchants; he's bought them off. I've had to do with all of them; I know them. They're not merchants, you know: they're speculators. He wouldn't look at a bargain that gave him ten, fifteen per cent profit, but holds back to buy a rouble's worth for twenty kopecks."
"Well, enough of it! You're out of temper."
"Not the least," said Levin gloomily, as they drove up to the house.
At the steps there stood a trap tightly covered with iron and leather, with a sleek horse tightly harnessed with broad collar-straps. In the trap sat the chubby, tightly belted clerk who served Ryabinin as coachman. Ryabinin himself was already in the house, and met the friends in the hall. Ryabinin was a tall, thinnish, middle-aged man, with mustache and a projecting clean-shaven chin, and prominent muddy-looking eyes. He was dressed in a long-skirted blue coat, with buttons below the waist at the back, and wore high boots wrinkled over the ankles and straight over the calf, with big galoshes drawn over them. He rubbed his face with his handkerchief, and wrapping round him his coat, which sat extremely well as it was, he greeted them with a smile, holding out his hand to Stepan Arkadyevitch, as though he wanted to catch something.
"So here you are," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, giving him his hand. "That's capital."
"I did not venture to disregard your excellency's commands, though the road was extremely bad. I positively walked the whole way, but I am here at my time. Konstantin Dmitrievitch, my respects"; he turned to Levin, trying to seize his hand too. But Levin, scowling, made as though he did not notice his hand, and took out the snipe. "Your honors have been diverting yourselves with the chase? What kind of bird may it be, pray?" added Ryabinin, looking contemptuously at the snipe: "a great delicacy, I suppose." And he shook his head disapprovingly, as though he had grave doubts whether this game were worth the candle.
"Would you like to go into my study?" Levin said in French to Stepan Arkadyevitch, scowling morosely. "Go into my study; you can talk there."
"Quite so, where you please," said Ryabinin with contemptuous dignity, as though wishing to make it felt that others might be in difficulties as to how to behave, but that he could never be in any difficulty about anything.
On entering the study Ryabinin looked about, as his habit was, as though seeking the holy picture, but when he had found it, he did not cross himself. He scanned the bookcases and bookshelves, and with the same dubious air with which he had regarded the snipe, he smiled contemptuously and hook his head disapprovingly, as though by no means willing to allow that this game were worth the candle.
"Well, have you brought the money?" asked Oblonsky. "Sit down."
"Oh, don't trouble about the money. I've come to see you to talk it over."
"What is there to talk over? But do sit down."
"I don't mind if I do," said Ryabinin, sitting down and leaning his elbows on the back of his chair in a position of the intensest discomfort to himself. "You must knock it down a bit, prince. It would be too bad. The money is ready conclusively to the last farthing. As to paying the money down, there'll be no hitch there."
Levin, who had meanwhile been putting his gun away in the cupboard, was just going out of the door, but catching the merchant's words, he stopped.

Chapter 50

Chapter 50
On the way home Levin asked all details of Kitty's illness and the Shtcherbatskys' plans, and though he would have been ashamed to admit it, he was pleased at what he heard. He was pleased that there was still hope, and still more pleased that she should be suffering who had made him suffer so much. But when Stepan Arkadyevitch began to speak of the causes of Kitty's illness, and mentioned Vronsky's name, Levin cut him short.
"I have no right whatever to know family matters, and, to tell the truth, no interest in them either."
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled hardly perceptibly, catching the instantaneous change he knew so well in Levin's face, which had become as gloomy as it had been bright a minute before.
"Have you quite settled about the forest with Ryabinin?" asked Levin.
"Yes, it's settled. The price is magnificent; thirty-eight thousand. Eight straight away, and the rest in six years. I've been bothering about it for ever so long. No one would give more."
"Then you've as good as given away your forest for nothing," said Levin gloomily.
"How do you mean for nothing?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch with a good-humored smile, knowing that nothing would be right in Levin's eyes now.
"Because the forest is worth at least a hundred and fifty roubles the acre," answered Levin.
"Oh, these farmers!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch playfully. "Your tone of contempt for us poor townsfolk!... But when it comes to business, we do it better than anyone. I assure you I have reckoned it all out," he said, "and the forest is fetching a very good price--so much so that I'm afraid of this fellow's crying off, in fact. You know it's not 'timber,'" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, hoping by this distinction to convince Levin completely of the unfairness of his doubts. "And it won't run to more than twenty-five yards of fagots per acre, and he's giving me at the rate of seventy roubles the acre."
Levin smiled contemptuously. "I know," he thought, "that fashion not only in him, but in all city people, who, after being twice in ten years in the country, pick up two or three phrases and use them in season and out of season, firmly persuaded that they know all about it. 'Timber, run to so many yards the acre.' He says those words without understanding them himself."
"I wouldn't attempt to teach you what you write about in your office," said he, "and if need arose, I should come to you to ask about it. But you're so positive you know all the lore of the forest. It's difficult. Have you counted the trees?"
"How count the trees?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing, still trying to draw his friend out of his ill-temper. "Count the sands of the sea, number the stars. Some higher power might do it."
"Oh, well, the higher power of Ryabinin can. Not a single merchant ever buys a forest without counting the trees, unless they get it given them for nothing, as you're doing now. I know your forest. I go there every year shooting, and your forest's worth a hundred and fifty roubles and acre paid down, while he's giving you sixty by installments. So that in fact you're making him a present of thirty thousand."

"Oh, don't you know it

"Oh, don't you know it? That's the hare. But enough talking! Listen, it's flying!" almost shrieked Levin, cocking his gun.

They heard a shrill whistle in the distance, and in the exact time, so well known to the sportsman, two seconds later-- another, a third, and after the third whistle the hoarse, guttural cry could be heard.

Levin looked about him to right and to left, and there, just facing him against the dusky blue sky above the confused mass of tender shoots of the aspens, he saw the flying bird. It was flying straight towards him; the guttural cry, like the even tearing of some strong stuff, sounded close to his ear; the long beak and neck of the bird could be seen, and at the very instant when Levin was taking aim, behind the bush where Oblonsky stood, there was a flash of red lightning: the bird dropped like an arrow, and darted upwards again. Again came the red flash and the sound of a blow, and fluttering its wings as though trying to keep up in the air, the bird halted, stopped still and instant, and fell with a heavy splash on the slushy ground.

"Can I have missed it?" shouted Stepan Arkadyevitch, who could not see for the smoke.

"Here it is!" said Levin, pointing to Laska, who with one ear raised, wagging the end of her shaggy tail, came slowly back as though she would prolong the pleasure, and as it were smiling, brought the dead bird to her master. "Well, I'm glad you were successful," said Levin, who, at the same time, had a sense of envy that he had not succeeded in shooting the snipe.

"It was a bad shot from the right barrel," responded Stepan Arkadyevitch, loading his gun. "'s flying!"

The shrill whistles rapidly following one another were heard again. Two snipe, playing and chasing one another, and only whistling, not crying, flew straight at the very heads of the sportsmen. There was the report of four shots, and like swallows the snipe turned swift somersaults in the air and vanished from sight.

The stand-shooting was capital. Stepan Arkadyevitch shot two more birds and Levin two, of which one was not found. It began to get dark. Venus, bright and silvery, shone with her soft light low down in the west behind the birch trees, and high up in the east twinkled the red lights of Arcturus. Over his head Levin made out the stars of the Great Bear and lost them again. The snipe had ceased flying; but Levin resolved to stay a little longer, till Venus, which he saw below a branch if birch, should be above it, and the stars of the Great Bear should be perfectly plain. Venus had risen above the branch, and the ear of the Great Bear with its shaft was now all plainly visible against the dark blue sky, yet still he waited.

"Isn't it time to go home?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch.

It was quite still now in the copse, and not a bird was stirring.

"Let's stay a little while," answered Levin.

"As you like."

They were standing now about fifteen paces from one another.

"Stiva!" said Levin unexpectedly; "how is it you don't tell me whether your sister-in-law's married yet, or when she's going to be?"

Levin felt so resolute and serene that no answer, he fancied, could affect him. But he had never dreamed of what Stepan Arkadyevitch replied.

"She's never thought of being married, and isn't thinking of it; but she's very ill, and the doctors have sent her abroad. They're positively afraid she may not live."

"What!" cried Levin. "Very ill? What is wrong with her? How has she...?"

While they were saying this, Laska, with ears pricked up, was looking upwards at the sky, and reproachfully at them.

"They have chosen a time to talk," she was thinking. "It's on the wing.... Here it is, yes, it is. They'll miss it," thought Laska.

But at that very instant both suddenly heard a shrill whistle which, as it were, smote on their ears, and both suddenly seized their guns and two flashes gleamed, and two gangs sounded at the very same instant. The snipe flying high above instantly folded its wings and fell into a thicket, bending down the delicate shoots.

"Splendid! Together!" cried Levin, and he ran with Laska into the thicket to look for the snipe.

"Oh, yes, what was it that was unpleasant?" he wondered. "Yes, Kitty's ill.... Well, it can't be helped; I'm very sorry," he thought.

"She's found it! Isn't she a clever thing?" he said, taking the warm bird from Laska's mouth and packing it into the almost full game bag. "I've got it, Stiva!" he shouted.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chapter 7

Chapter 7

On arriving in Moscow by a morning train, Levin had put up at the house of his elder half-brother, Koznishev. After changing his clothes he went down to his brother's study, intending to talk to him at once about the object of his visit, and to ask his advice; but his brother was not alone. With him there was a well-known professor of philosophy, who had come from Harkov expressly to clear up a difference that had arisen between them on a very important philosophical question. The professor was carrying on a hot crusade against materialists. Sergey Koznishev had been following this crusade with interest, and after reading the professor's last article, he had written him a letter stating his objections. He accused the professor of making too great concessions to the materialists. And the professor had promptly appeared to argue the matter out. The point in discussion was the question then in vogue: Is there a line to be drawn between psychological and physiological phenomena in man? and if so, where?

Sergey Ivanovitch met his brother with the smile of chilly friendliness he always had for everyone, and introducing him to the professor, went on with the conversation.

A little man in spectacles, with a narrow forehead, tore himself from the discussion for an instant to greet Levin, and then went on talking without paying any further attention to him. Levin sat down to wait till the professor should go, but he soon began to get interested in the subject under discussion.

Levin had come across the magazine articles about which they were disputing, and had read them, interested in them as a development of the first principles of science, familiar to him as a natural science student at the university. But he had never connected these scientific deductions as to the origin of man as an animal, as to reflex action, biology, and sociology, with those questions as to the meaning of life and death to himself, which had of late been more and more often in his mind.

As he listened to his brother's argument with the professor, he noticed that they connected these scientific questions with those spiritual problems, that at times they almost touched on the latter; but every time they were close upon what seemed to him the chief point, they promptly beat a hasty retreat, and plunged again into a sea of subtle distinctions, reservations, quotations, allusions, and appeals to authorities, and it was with difficulty that he understood what they were talking about.

"I cannot admit it," said Sergey Ivanovitch, with his habitual clearness, precision of expression, and elegance of phrase. "I cannot in any case agree with Keiss that my whole conception of the external world has been derived from perceptions. The most fundamental idea, the idea of existence, has not been received by me through sensation; indeed, there is no special sense-organ for the transmission of such an idea."

The mysterious, enchanting Kitty herself could not love such

The mysterious, enchanting Kitty herself could not love such an ugly person as he conceived himself to be, and, above all, such an ordinary, in no way striking person. Moreover, his attitude to Kitty in the past--the attitude of a grown-up person to a child, arising from his friendship with her brother--seemed to him yet another obstacle to love. An ugly, good-natured man, as he considered himself, might, he supposed, be liked as a friend; but to be loved with such a love as that with which he loved Kitty, one would need to be a handsome and, still more, a distinguished man.

He had heard that women often did care for ugly and ordinary men, but he did not believe it, for he judged by himself, and he could not himself have loved any but beautiful, mysterious, and exceptional women.

But after spending two months alone in the country, he was convinced that this was not one of those passions of which he had had experience in his early youth; that this feeling gave him not an instant's rest; that he could not live without deciding the question, would she or would she not be his wife, and that his despair had arisen only from his own imaginings, that he had no sort of proof that he would be rejected. And he had now come to Moscow with a firm determination to make an offer, and get married if he were accepted. Or...he could not conceive what would become of him if he were rejected.

In his student days he had all but been in love with the eldest

In his student days he had all but been in love with the eldest, Dolly, but she was soon married to Oblonsky. Then he began being in love with the second. He felt, as it were, that he had to be in love with one of the sisters, only he could not quite make out which. But Natalia, too, had hardly made her appearance in the world when she married the diplomat Lvov. Kitty was still a child when Levin left the university. Young Shtcherbatsky went into the navy, was drowned in the Baltic, and Levin's relations with the Shtcherbatskys, in spite of his friendship with Oblonsky, became less intimate. But when early in the winter of this year Levin came to Moscow, after a year in the country, and saw the Shtcherbatskys, he realized which of the three sisters he was indeed destined to love.

One would have thought that nothing could be simpler than for him, a man of good family, rather rich than poor, and thirty-two years old, to make the young Princess Shtcherbatskaya an offer of marriage; in all likelihood he would at once have been looked upon as a good match. But Levin was in love, and so it seemed to him that Kitty was so perfect in every respect that she was a creature far above everything earthly; and that he was a creature so low and so earthly that it could not even be conceived that other people and she herself could regard him as worthy of her.

After spending two months in Moscow in a state of enchantment, seeing Kitty almost every day in society, into which he went so as to meet her, he abruptly decided that it could not be, and went back to the country.

Levin's conviction that it could not be was founded on the idea that in the eyes of her family he was a disadvantageous and worthless match for the charming Kitty, and that Kitty herself could not love him. In her family's eyes he had no ordinary, definite career and position in society, while his contemporaries by this time, when he was thirty-two, were already, one a colonel, and ano diplomat ther a professor, another director of a bank and railways, or president of a board like Oblonsky. But he (he knew very well how he must appear to others) was a country gentleman, occupied in breeding cattle, shooting game, and building barns; in other words, a fellow of no ability, who had not turned out well, and who was doing just what, according to the ideas of the world, is done by people fit for nothing else.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

‘Anyway, Grawpy,’ shouted Hagrid

‘Anyway, Grawpy,’ shouted Hagrid, looking up apprehensively in case of further falling eggs, ‘I've brought some friends ter meet yeh. Remember, I told yeh I might? Remember, when I said I might have ter go on a little trip an’ leave them ter look after yeh fer a bit? Remember that, Grawpy?’

But Grawp merely gave another low roar; it was hard to say whether he was listening to Hagrid or whether he even recognised the sounds Hagrid was making as speech. He had now seized the top of the pine tree and was pulling it towards him, evidently for the simple pleasure of seeing how far it would spring back when he let go.

‘Now, Grawpy, don’ do that!’ shouted Hagrid. ‘Tha's how you ended up pullin’ up the others— ’

And sure enough, Harry could see the earth around the tree's roots beginning to crack.

‘I got company for yeh!’ Hagrid shouted. ‘Company, see! Look down, yeh big buffoon, I brought yeh some friends!’

‘Oh, Hagrid, don't,’ moaned Hermione, but Hagrid had already raised the bough again and gave Grawp's knee a sharp poke.

The giant let go of the top of the tree, which swayed alarmingly and deluged Hagrid with a rain of pine needles, and looked down.

‘This,’ said Hagrid, hastening over to where Harry and Herrmone stood, ‘is Harry, Grawp! Harry Potter! He migh’ be comin’ ter visit yeh if I have ter go away, understand?’

The giant had only just realised that Harry and Hermione were there. They watched, in great trepidation, as he lowered his huge boulder of a head so that he could peer blearily at them.

‘An’ this is Hermione, see? Her—’ Hagrid hesitated. Turning to Hermione, he said, ‘Would yeh mind if he called yeh Hermy, Hermione? On'y it's a difficult name fer him ter remember.’

‘No, not at all,’ squeaked Hermione.

‘This is Hermy, Grawp! An’ she's gonna be comin’ an’ all! Is'n’ tha’ nice? Eh? Two friends fer yeh ter—GRAWPY, NO!’

Grawp's hand had shot out of nowhere towards Hermione; Harry seized her and pulled her backwards behind the tree, so that Grawp's fist scraped the trunk but closed on thin air.

‘BAD BOY, GRAWPY!’ they heard Hagrid yelling, as Hermione clung to Harry behind the tree, shaking and whimpering. ‘VERY BAD BOY! YEH DON’ GRAB—OUCH!’

Harry poked his head out from around the trunk and saw Hagrid lying on his back, his hand over his nose. Grawp, apparently losing interest, had straightened up and was again engaged in pulling back the pine as far as it would go.

‘Righ',’ said Hagrid thickly, getting up with one hand pinching his bleeding nose and the other grasping his crossbow, ‘well ... there yeh are ... yeh've met him an’ —an’ now he'll know yeh when yeh come back. Yeah ... well ...’

He looked up at Grawp, who was now pulling back the pine with an expression of detached pleasure on his boulderish face; the roots were creaking as he ripped them away from the ground.

‘Well, I reckon tha's enough fer one day,’ said Hagrid. ‘We'll—'er—we'll go back now, shall we?’

Harry and Hermione nodded. Hagrid shouldered his crossbow again and, still pinching his nose, led the way back into the trees.

Nobody spoke for a while, not even when they heard the distant crash that meant Grawp had pulled over the pine tree at last. Hermione's face was pale and set. Harry could not think of a single thing to say. What on earth was going to happen when somebody found out that Hagrid had hidden Grawp in the Forbidden Forest? And he had promised that he, Ron and Hermione would continue Hagrid's totally pointless attempts to civilise the giant. How could Hagrid, even with his immense capacity to delude himself that fanged monsters were loveably harmless, fool himself that Grawp would ever be fit to mix with humans?

‘Hold it,’ said Hagrid abruptly, just as Harry and Hermione were struggling through a patch of thick knotgrass behind him. He pulled an arrow out of the quiver over his shoulder and fitted it into the crossbow. Harry and Hermione raised their wands; now that they had stopped walking, they, too, could hear movement close by.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The reception area looked pleasantly festive:

The reception area looked pleasantly festive: the crystal orbs that illuminated St. Mungo's had been coloured red and gold to become gigantic, glowing Christmas baubles; holly hung around every doorway; and shining white

Christmas trees covered in magical snow and icicles glittered in every corner, each one topped with a gleaming gold star. It was less crowded than the last time they had been there, although halfway across the room Harry

found himself shunted aside by a witch with a satsuma jammed up her left nostril.

‘Family argument, eh?’ smirked the blonde witch behind the desk. ‘You're the third I've seen today ... Spell Damage, fourth floor.’

They found Mr Weasley propped up in bed with the remains of his turkey dinner on a tray on his lap and a rather sheepish expression on his face.

‘Everything all right, Arthur?’ asked Mrs. Weasley, after they had all greeted Mr. Weasley and handed over their presents.

‘Fine, fine,’ said Mr. Weasley, a little too heartily. ‘You—er—haven't seen Healer Smethwyck, have you?’

‘No,’ said Mrs Weasley suspiciously, ‘why?’

‘Nothing, nothing,’ said Mr. Weasley airily, starting to unwrap his pile of gifts. ‘Well, everyone had a good day? What did you all get for Christmas? Oh, Harry— this is absolutely wonderful!’ For he had just opened Harry's gift

of fuse-wire and screwdrivers.

Mrs. Weasley did not seem entirely satisfied with Mr. Weasley's answer. As her husband leaned over to shake Harry's hand, she peered at the bandaging under his nightshirt.

‘Arthur,’ she said, with a snap in her voice like a mousetrap, ‘you've had your bandages changed. Why have you had your bandages changed a day early, Arthur? They told me they wouldn't need doing until tomorrow.’

‘What?’ said Mr Weasley, looking rather frightened and pulling the bed covers higher up his chest. ‘No, no—it's nothing—it's—I—’

He seemed to deflate under Mrs. Weasley's piercing gaze.

‘Well—now don't get upset, Molly, but Augustus Pye had an idea ... he's the Trainee Healer, you know, lovely young chap and very interested in ... um ... complementary medicine ... I mean, some of these old Muggle

remedies ... well, they're called stitches, Molly, and they work very well on—on Muggle wounds—’

Mrs. Weasley let out an ominous noise somewhere between a shriek and a snarl. Lupin strolled away from the bed and over to the werewolf, who had no visitors and was looking rather wistfully at the crowd around Mr.

Weasley; Bill muttered something about getting himself a cup of tea and Fred and George leapt up to accompany him, grinning.

‘Do you mean to tell me,’ said Mrs. Weasley, her voice growing louder with every word and apparently unaware that her fellow visitors were scurrying for cover, ‘that you have been messing about with Muggle remedies?’

‘Not messing about, Molly, dear,’ said Mr. Weasley imploringly, ‘it was just—just something Pye and I thought we'd try—only, most unfortunately—well, with these particular kinds of wounds—it doesn't seem to work as well as

we'd hoped—’


‘Well ... well, I don't know whether you know what—what stitches are?’

‘It sounds as though you've been trying to sew your skin back together,’ said Mrs. Weasley with a snort of mirthless laughter, ‘but even you, Arthur, wouldn't be that stupid —’

‘I fancy a cup of tea, too,’ said Harry, jumping to his feet.

Hermione, Ron and Ginny almost sprinted to the door with him. As it swung closed behind them, they heard Mrs. Weasley shriek, ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THAT'S THE GENERAL IDEA?’

‘Typical Dad,’ said Ginny, shaking her head as they set off up the corridor. ‘Stitches ... I ask you ...’

‘Well, you know, they do work well on non-magical wounds,’ said Hermione fairly. ‘I suppose something in that snake's venom dissolves them or something. I wonder where the tearoom is?’

‘Fifth floor,’ said Harry, remembering the sign over the welcomewitch's desk.

They walked along the corridor, through a set of double doors and found a rickety staircase lined with more portraits of brutal-looking Healers. As they climbed it, the various Healers called out to them, diagnosing odd

complaints and suggesting horrible remedies. Ron was seriously affronted when a medieval wizard called out that he clearly had a bad case of spattergroit.

‘And what's that supposed to be?’ he asked angrily, as the Healer pursued him through six more portraits, shoving the occupants out of the way.

’ ‘Tis a most grievous affliction of the skin, young master, that will leave you pockmarked and more gruesome even than you are now—’

‘Watch who you're calling gruesome!’ said Ron, his ears turning red.

‘—the only remedy is to take the liver of a toad, bind it tight about your throat, stand naked at the full moon in a barrel of eels’ eyes—’

‘I have not got spattergroit!’

‘But the unsightly blemishes upon your visage, young master—’

‘They're freckles!’ said Ron furiously. ‘Now get back in your own picture and leave me alone!’

He rounded on the others, who were all keeping determinedly straight faces.

‘What floor's this?’

‘I think it's the fifth,’ said Hermione.

‘Nah, it's the fourth,’ said Harry, ‘one more—’

But as he stepped on to the landing he came to an abrupt halt, staring at the small window set into the double doors that marked the start of a corridor signposted SPELL DAMAGE. A man was peering out at them all with his

nose pressed against the glass. He had wavy blond hair, bright blue eyes and a broad vacant smile that revealed dazzlingly white teeth.

‘Blimey!’ said Ron, also staring at the man.

‘Oh, my goodness,’ said Hermione suddenly, sounding breathless. ‘Professor Lockhart.’
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chapter 16 In The Hog's Head

Chapter 16 In The Hog's Head

Hermione made no mention of Harry giving Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons for two whole weeks after her original suggestion. Harry's detentions with Umbridge were finally over (he doubted whether the words now etched into the back of his hand would ever fade entirely); Ron had had four more Quidditch practices and not been shouted at during the last two; and all three of them had managed to Vanish their mice in Transfiguration (Hermione had actually progressed to Vanishing kittens), before the subject was broached again, on a wild, blustery evening at the end of September, when the three of them were sitting in the library, looking up potion ingredients for Snape.

‘I was wondering,’ Hermione said suddenly, ‘whether you'd thought any more about Defence Against the Dark Arts, Harry.’

‘Course I have,’ said Harry grumpily, ‘can't forget it, can we, with that hag teaching us—’

‘I meant the idea Ron and I had—’ Ron cast her an alarmed, threatening kind of look. She frowned at him, ‘—Oh, all right, the idea I had, then—about you teaching us.’

Harry did not answer at once. He pretended to be perusing a page of Asiatic Anti-Venoms, because he did not want to say what was in his mind.

He had given the matter a great deal of thought over the past fortnight. Sometimes it seemed an insane idea, just as it had on the night Hermione had proposed it, but at others, he had found himself thinking about the spells that had served him best in his various encounters with Dark creatures and Death Eaters—found himself, in fact, subconsciously planning lessons ...

‘Well,’ he said slowly, when he could no longer pretend to find Asiatic Anti-Venoms interesting, ‘yeah, I—I've thought about it a bit.’

‘And?’ said Hermione eagerly.

‘I dunno,’ said Harry, playing for time. He looked up at Ron.

‘I thought it was a good idea from the start,’ said Ron, who seemed keener to join in this conversation now that he was sure Harry was not going to start shouting again.

Harry shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

‘You did listen to what I said about a load of it being luck, didn't you?’

‘Yes, Harry,’ said Hermione gently, ‘but all the same, there's no point pretending that you're not good at Defence Against the Dark Arts, because you are. You were the only person last year who could throw off the Imperius Curse completely, you can produce a Patronus, you can do all sorts of stuff that full-grown wizards can't, Viktor always said—’

Ron looked round at her so fast he appeared to crick his neck. Rubbing it, he said, ‘Yeah? What did Vicky say?’

‘Ho ho,’ said Hermione in a bored voice. ‘He said Harry knew how to do stuff even he didn't, and he was in the final year at Durmstrang.’

Ron was looking at Hermione suspiciously.

‘You're not still in contact with him, are you?’

‘So what if I am?’ said Hermione coolly, though her face was a little pink. ‘I can have a pen-pal if I—’

‘He didn't only want to be your pen-pal,’ said Ron accusingly.

Hermione shook her head exasperatedly and, ignoring Ron, who was continuing to watch her, said to Harry, ‘Well, what do you think? Will you teach us?’

‘Just you and Ron, yeah?’

‘Well,’ said Hermione, looking a mite anxious again. ‘Well ... now, don't fly off the handle again, Harry, please ... but I really think you ought to teach anyone who wants to learn. I mean, we're talking about defending ourselves against V-Voldemort. Oh, don't be pathetic, Ron. It doesn't seem fair if we don't offer the chance to other people.’

Harry considered this for a moment, then said, ‘Yeah, but I doubt anyone except you two would want to be taught by me. I'm a nutter, remember?’

‘Well, I think you might be surprised how many people would be interested in hearing what you've got to say,’ said Hermione seriously. ‘Look,’ she leaned towards him— Ron, who was still watching her with a frown on his face, leaned forwards to listen too—'you know the first weekend in October's a Hogsmeade weekend? How would it be if we tell anyone who's interested to meet us in the village and we can talk it over?’

‘Why do we have to do it outside school?’ said Ron.

‘Because,’ said Hermione, returning to the diagram of the Chinese Chomping Cabbage she was copying, ‘I don't think Umbridge would be very happy if she found out what we were up to.’

Monday, November 15, 2010

‘Hello, Kreacher,’ said Fred very loudly, closing the door with a snap.

‘Hello, Kreacher,’ said Fred very loudly, closing the door with a snap.

The house-elf froze in his tracks, stopped muttering, and gave a very pronounced and very unconvincing start of surprise.

‘Kreacher did not see Young Master,’ he said, turning around and bowing to Fred. Still lacing the carpet, he added, perfectly audibly, ‘Nasty little brat of a blood traitor it is.’

‘Sorry?’ said George. ‘Didn't catch that last bit.’

‘Kreacher said nothing,’ said the elf, with a second bow to George, adding in a clear undertone, ‘and there's its twin, unnataral little beasts they are.’

Harry didn't know whether to laugh or not. The elf straightened up, eyeing them all malevolently, and apparently convinced that they could not hear him as he continued to mutter.

‘...and there's the Mudblood, standing there bold as brass, oh if my mistress knew, oh, how she'd cry, and there's a new boy, Kreacher doesn't know his name. What is he doing here? Kreacher doesn't know...’

‘This is Harry, Kreacher,’ said Hermione tentatively. ‘Harry Potter.’

Kreacher's pale eyes widened and he muttered faster and more furiously than ever.

‘The Mudblood is talking to Kreacher as though she is my friend, if Kreacher's mistress saw him in such company, oh, what would she say—’

‘Don't call her a Mudblood!’ said Ron and Ginny together, very angrily.

‘It doesn't matter,’ Hermione whispered, ‘he's not in his right mind, he doesn't know what he's—’

‘Don't kid yourself, Hermione, he knows exactly what he's saying,’ said Fred, eyeing Kreacher with great dislike.

Kreacher was still muttering, his eyes on Harry.

‘Is it true? Is it Harry Potter? Kreacher can see the scar, it must be true, that's the boy who stopped the Dark Lord, Kreacher wonders how he did it—’

‘Don't we all, Kreacher,’ said Fred.

‘What do you want, anyway?’ George asked.

Kreacher's huge eyes darted towards George.

‘Kreacher is cleaning,’ he said evasively.

‘A likely story,’ said a voice behind Harry.

Sirius had come back; he was glowering at the elf from the doorway. The noise in the hall had abated; perhaps Mrs. Weasley and Mundungus had moved their argument down into the kitchen.

At the sight of Sirius, Kreacher flung himself into a ridiculously low bow that flattened his snoutlike nose on the floor.

‘Stand up straight,’ said Sirius impatiently. ‘Now, what are you up to?’

Mrs. Weasley pointed at the dusty

Mrs. Weasley pointed at the dusty glass-fronted cabinets standing on either side of the mantelpiece. They were crammed with an odd assortment of objects: a selection of rusty daggers, claws, a coiled snakeskin, a number of tarnished silver boxes inscribed with languages Harry could not understand and, least pleasant of all, an ornate crystal bottle with a large opal set into the stopper, full of what Harry was quite sure was blood.

The clanging doorbell rang again. Everyone looked at Mrs. Weasley.

‘Stay here,’ she said firmly, snatching up the bag of rats as Mrs. Blacks screeches started up again from down below. ‘I'll bring up some sandwiches.’

She left the room, closing the door carefully behind her. At once, everyone dashed over to the window to look down on the doorstep. They could see the top of an unkempt gingery head and a stack of precariously balanced cauldrons.

‘Mundungus!’ said Hermione. ‘What's he brought all those cauldrons for?’

‘Probably looking for a safe place to keep them,’ said Harry. ‘Isn't that what he was doing the night he was supposed to be tailing me? Picking up dodgy cauldrons?’

‘Yeah, you're right!’ said Fred, as the front door opened; Mundungus heaved his cauldrons through it and disappeared from view. ‘Blimey, Mum won't like that....’

He and George crossed to the door and stood beside it, listening closely. Mrs. Black's screaming had stopped.

‘Mundungus is talking to Sirius and Kingsley,’ Fred muttered, frowning with concentration. ‘Can't hear properly ... d'you reckon we can risk the Extendable Ears?’

‘Might be worth it,’ said George. ‘I could sneak upstairs and get a pair—’

But at that precise moment there was an explosion of sound from downstairs that rendered Extendable Ears quite unnecessary. All of them could hear exactly what Mrs. Weasley was shouting at the top of her voice.


‘I love hearing Mum shouting at someone else,’ said Fred, with a satisfied smile on his face as he opened the door an inch or so to allow Mrs. Weasley's voice to permeate the room better, ‘it makes such a nice change.’


‘The idiots are letting her get into her stride,’ said George, shaking his head. ‘You've got to head her off early otherwise she builds up a head of steam and goes on for hours. And she's been dying to have a go at Mundungus ever since he sneaked off when he was supposed to be following you, Harry—and there goes Sirius's mum again.’

Mrs. Weasley's voice was lost amid fresh shrieks and screams from the portraits in the hall.

George made to shut the door to drown the noise, but before he could do so, a house-elf edged into the room.

Except for the filthy rag tied like a loincloth around its middle, it was completely naked. It looked very old. Its skin seemed to be several times too big for it and, though it was bald like all house-elves, there was a quantity of white hair growing out of its large, batlike ears. Its eyes were a bloodshot and watery grey and its fleshy nose was large and rather snoutlike.

The elf took absolutely no notice of Harry and the rest. Acting as though it could not see them, it shuffled hunchbacked, slowly and doggedly, towards the far end of the room, all the while muttering under its breath in a hoarse, deep voice like a bullfrog's, ‘...smells like a drain and a criminal to boot, but she's no better, nasty old blood traitor with her brats messing up my mistress's house, oh, my poor mistress, if she knew, if she knew the scum they've let into her house, what would she say to old Kreacher, oh, the shame of it, Mudbloods and werewolves and traitors and thieves, poor old Kreacher, what can he do....’

‘Range of sweets to make you ill,’

‘Range of sweets to make you ill,’ George whispered, keeping a wary eye on Mrs. Weasley's back. ‘Not seriously ill, mind, just ill enough to get you out of a class when you feel like it. Fred and I have been developing them this summer. They're double-ended, colour-coded chews. If you eat the orange half of the Puking Pastilles, you throw up. Moment you've been rushed out of the lesson for the hospital wing, you swallow the purple half—’

‘"—which restores you to full fitness, enabling you to pursue the leisure activity of your own choice during an hour that would otherwise have been devoted to unprofitable boredom.” That's what we're putting in the adverts, anyway,’ whispered Fred, who had edged over out of Mrs. Weasley's line of vision and was now sweeping a few stray doxys from the floor and adding them to his pocket. ‘But they still need a bit of work. At the moment our testers are having a bit of trouble stopping themselves puking long enough to swallow the purple end.’


‘Us,’ said Fred. ‘We take it in turns. George did the Fainting Fancies—we both tried the Nosebleed Nougat—’

‘Mum thought we'd been duelling,’ said George.

‘Joke shop still on, then?’ Harry muttered, pretending to be adjusting the nozzle on his spray.

‘Well, we haven't had a chance to get premises yet,’ said Fred, dropping his voice even lower as Mrs. Weasley mopped her brow with her scarf before returning to the attack, ‘so we're running it as a mail-order service at the moment. We put advertisements in the Daily Prophet last week.’

‘All thanks to you, mate,’ said George. ‘But don't worry ... Mum hasn't got a clue. She won't read the Daily Prophet any more, ‘cause of it telling lies about you and Dumbledore.’

Harry grinned. He had forced the Weasley twins to take the thousand-Galleon prize money he had won in the Triwizard Tournament to help them realise their ambition to open a joke shop, but he was still glad to know that his part in furthering their plans was unknown to Mrs. Weasley. She did not think running a joke shop was a suitable career for two of her sons.

The de-doxying of the curtains took most of the morning. It was past midday when Mrs. Weasley finally removed her protective scarf, sank into a sagging armchair, and sprang up again with a cry of disgust, having sat on the bag of dead rats. The curtains were no longer buzzing; they hung limp and damp from the intensive spraying; unconscious doxys lay crammed in the bucket at the foot of them beside a bowl of their black eggs, at which Crookshanks was now sniffing and Fred and George were shooting covetous looks.

‘I think we'll tackle those after lunch.’

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ron and Hermione scanned the staff table too

, though there was no real need; Hagrid's size made him instantly obvious in any lineup.

‘He can't have left,’ said Ron, sounding slightly anxious.

‘Of course he hasn't,’ said Harry firmly.

‘You don't think he's ... hurt, or anything, do you?’ said Hermione uneasily.

‘No,’ said Harry at once.

‘But where is he, then?’

There was a pause, then Harry said very quietly, so that Neville, Parvati and Lavender could not hear, ‘Maybe he's not back yet. You know—from his mission—the thing he was doing over the summer for Dumbledore.’

‘Yeah ... yeah, that'll be it,’ said Ron, sounding reassured, but Hermione bit her lip, looking up and down the staff table as though hoping for some conclusive explanation of Hagrid's absence.

‘Who's that?’ she said sharply, pointing towards the middle of the staff table.

Harry's eyes followed hers. They lit first upon Professor Dumbledore, sitting in his high-backed golden chair at the centre of the long staff table, wearing deep-purple robes scattered with silvery stars and a matching hat.

Dumbledore's head was inclined towards the woman sitting next to him, who was talking into his ear. She looked, Harry thought, like somebody's maiden aunt: squat, with short, curly, mouse-brown hair in which she had placed

a horrible pink Alice band that matched the fluffy pink cardigan she wore over her robes. Then she turned her face slightly to take a sip from her goblet and he saw, with a shock of recognition, a pallid, toadlike face and a pair

of prominent, pouchy eyes.

‘It's that Umbridge woman!’

‘Who?’ said Hermione.

‘She was at my hearing, she works for Fudge!’

‘Nice cardigan,’ said Ron, smirking.

‘She works for Fudge!’ Hermione repeated, frowning. ‘What on earth's she doing here, then?’

‘Dunno ...’

Hermione scanned the staff table, her eyes narrowed.

‘No,’ she muttered, ‘no, surely not ...’

Harry did not understand what she was talking about but did not ask; his attention had been caught by Professor Grubbly-Plank who had just appeared behind the staff table; she worked her way along to the very end and

took the seat that ought to have been Hagrid's. That meant the first-years must have crossed the lake and reached the castle, and sure enough, a few seconds later, the doors from the Entrance Hall opened. A long line of

scared-looking first-years entered, led by Professor McGonagall, who was carrying a stool on which sat an ancient wizards hat, heavily patched and darned with a wide rip near the frayed brim.

The buzz of talk in the Great Hall faded away. The first-years lined up in front of the staff table facing the rest of the students, and Professor McGonagall placed the stool carefully in front of them, then stood back.

The first-years’ faces glowed palely in the candlelight. A small boy right in the middle of the row looked as though he was trembling. Harry recalled, fleetingly, how terrified he had felt when he had stood there, waiting for the

unknown test that would determine to which house he belonged.

The whole school waited with bated breath. Then the rip near the hat's brim opened wide like a mouth and the Sorting Hat burst into song:

In times of old when I was new

And Hogwarts barely started

The founders of our noble school

Thought never to be parted:

United by a common goal,

They had the selfsame yearning,

To make the world's best magic school

And pass along their learning.

‘Together we will build and teach!’

The four good friends decided

And never did they dream that they

Might some day be divided,

For were there such friends anywhere

As Slytherin and Gryffindor?

Unless it was the second pair

Of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw?

So how could it have gone so wrong?

How could such friendships fail?

Why, I was there and so can tell

The whole sad, sorry tale.

Said Slytherin, ‘We'll teach just those

Whose ancestry is purest.’

Said Ravenclaw, ‘We'll teach those whose

Intelligence is surest. ’

Said Gryffindor, ‘We'll teach all those

With brave deeds to their name, ’

Said Hufflepuff, ‘I'll teach the lot,

And treat them just the same. ’

These differences caused little strife

When first they came to light,
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dont want to spend money: enjoy free news

Author:Dale Styne Source:none Hits:119 UpdateTime:2008-7-10 22:42:52

Enjoy wikinews now, if you dont want to spend any money on watching any world or sports news. The wikinews is a free news website and offers latest news without any subscription. (Thank god, I dont have to worry about newspaper hawker bill). You just need to create a free user account with the wiki and enjoy your news on several topics like:

Economy watch
Science and technology
World wide news

See how much free news you can enjoy with your free news subscriptions and website offers. Ah, the wiki news offers a wonderful RSS tool too. Just sign up and dont waste time. Enjoy your free news and see the difference.

The best thing regarding the free news wiki is that it offers news in several other major world languages. So, if want to switch to free news in German or Chinese, click the relevant button. Isnt that a wonderful news watching opportunity? Watch free news online too. At least you will get better world knowledge.

See what other advantages free news offer. Different websites nowadays offer free news watching services. The one time user registration is needed and the rest is done by them. You may need to refresh your news membership. The old archives could also be tracked and found be you. Check websites like or The readers can add their posts and comments on some economic and regional issues. Not only this, the readers can add their own stories too. What a wonderful chance to share your knowledge? Dont you think that you should take the benefit from this golden opportunity now? If you lack publishing or printing funds, you can simply post your story on these free news websites. Such websites also have web forums, where different web users sign in and share their posts or comments. Join this online free news community now. You can manage to get mobile alerts on your cell as a premium service. Get the latest world news updates with free news engines. The real time news offers some basic and premium news charges. So whats new? Some websites also provide free news on elections and other political campaigns in the country. You can watch the news in your home or mother language too. You can always save the news paper expenses and make a little bit efficient home budget now.

Why not take the benefit of online advertising in free news? Local newspapers charge ad price according to the font and space occupied in the paper, the online costs would be lowered than these. For example, if you are a doctor, and recently returned from a foreign medical institute, you want to gain patients. Post the online and manual ads in different local and online news papers. You can start your practice and start getting more patients to your clinic too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Use Of Bonsai Wire

Author:佚名 Source:none Hits:123 UpdateTime:2008-10-19 1:09:32

Bonsai trees are very delicate. In order to give them the desired shape, various tools are used to make this work and the most common is the bonsai wire.

Most gardening stores offer these in either copper or aluminum. This are either silver or brown, which will blend in with the tree. These also come in various lengths usually between 1.5 to 6 millimeters so the type chosen will

depend on the size of the branches.

The hobbyist can probably get a discount by buying it in bulk since this will also be used again later on.

There are those who find this cruel since the hobbyist is playing God in directing the shape of the tree. This technique however has been practiced for hundreds of years and the wire is only used temporarily. The person

should think of the wires like braces that will help fix the teeth that will be removed later on.

Will the branches be damaged in the process? In the short term, yes but it is a good thing that bonsai trees are able to heal so the only remnants might be a few scratches from the wire.

Bonsai wiring is a delicate process. The hobbyist should apply a little pressure and only wrap this around the stronger branches or trunk. Another important thing to remember is that this should never be done when it is too

close to the trunk or the branch.

This could break the branch and there is no way to fix it. The same thing applies when it is wrapped around the leaves.

Double wrapping is a good idea to make sure the branches stay in place. It is best to always do this in a 45 degree angle and are close to each other since nothing will happen if they are far apart. This will also make it easy

for the hobbyist to take it out later on using a pair of pliers.

Tying the wire to the pot isn't always effective in achieving the desired results. The hobbyist will do a better job after buying clamps from the gardening store.

How long will it take before the wires are removed? This depends on the bonsai tree. If it adjusts to the desired shape in a few weeks, then the person can take it away. The longest is about a year.
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