Patches of bright blue sky were beginning to appear over the castle turrets, but these signs of approaching summer did not lift Harry's mood. He had been thwarted, both in his attempts to find out what Malfoy was doing, and in his efforts to start a conversation with Slughorn that might lead, somehow, to Slughorn handing over the memory he had apparently suppressed for decades..cartier love bracelet replica.
â€œFor the last time, just forget about Malfoy,â€ Hermione told Harry firmly..cartier love bracelet replica.
They were sitting with Ron in a sunny corner of the courtyard after lunch. Hermione and Ron were both clutching a Ministry of Magic leaflet: Common Apparition Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, for they were taking their tests that very afternoon, but by and large the leaflets had not proved soothing to the nerves. Ron gave a start and tried to hide behind Hermione as a girl came around the corner..hermes bracelet replica.
â€œIt isn't Lavender,â€ said Hermione wearily..cartier love bracelet replica.
â€œOh, good,â€ said Ron, relaxing..Christian Louboutin Replica.
â€œHarry Potter?â€ said the girl. â€œI was asked to give you this.â€.bvlgari rings replica.
â€œThanks...â€.bvlgari rings replica.
Harry's heart sank as he took the small scroll of parchment. Once the girl was out of earshot he said, â€œDumbledore said we wouldn't be having any more lessons until I got the memory!â€.bvlgari bracelet replica.
â€œMaybe he wants to check on how you're doing?â€ suggested Hermione, as Harry unrolled the parchment; but rather than finding Dumbledore's long, narrow, slanted writing he saw an untidy sprawl, very difficult to read due to the presence of large blotches on the parchment where the ink had run..hermes bracelet replica.
Dear Harry, Ron and Hermione,.hermes bracelet replica.
Aragog died last night. Harry and Ron, you met him and you know how special he was. Hermione, I know you'd have liked him. It would mean a lot to me if you'd nip down for the burial later this evening. I'm planning on doing it round dusk, that was his favorite time of day. I know you're not supposed to be out that late, but you can use the cloak. Wouldn't ask, but I can't face it alone..cartier love bracelet replica.
Hagrid.Christian Louboutin Replica.
â€œLook at this,â€ said Harry, handing the note to Hermione..Christian Louboutin Replica.
â€œOh, for heaven's sake,â€ she said, scanning it quickly and passing it to Ron, who read it through looking increasingly incredulous..Giuseppe Zanotti outlet.
â€œHe's mentalâ€ he said furiously. â€œThat thing told its mates to eat Harry and me! Told them to help themselves! And now Hagrid expects us to go down there and cry over its horrible hairy body!â€.Giuseppe Zanotti Replica.
â€œIt's not just that,â€ said Hermione. â€œHe's asking us to leave the castle at night and he knows security's a million times tighter and how much trouble we'd be in if we were caught.â€
â€œWe've been down to see him by night before,â€ said Harry.
â€œYes, but for something like this?â€ said Hermione. â€œWe've risked a lot to help Hagrid out, but after allâ€”Aragog's dead. If it were a question of saving him â€”â€
â€œâ€” I'd want to go even less,â€ said Ron firmly. â€œYou didn't meet him, Hermione. Believe me, being dead will have improved him a lot.â€
Harry took the note back and stared down at all the inky blotches all over it. Tears had clearly fallen thick and fast upon the parchment...
â€œHarry, you can't be thinking of going,â€ said Hermione. â€œIt's such a pointless thing to get detention for.â€
â€œYeah, I know,â€ he said. â€œI s'pose Hagrid'll have to bury Aragog without us.â€
â€œYes, he will,â€ said Hermione, looking relieved. â€œLook, Potions will be almost empty this afternoon, with us all off doing our tests... try and soften Slughorn up a bit then!â€
â€œFifty-seventh time lucky, you think?â€ said Harry bitterly.
â€œLucky,â€ said Ron suddenly. â€œHarry, that's itâ€”get lucky!â€
â€œWhat d'you mean?â€
â€œUse your lucky potion!â€
â€œRon, that'sâ€”that's it!â€ said Hermione, sounding stunned. â€œOf course! Why didn't I think of it?â€
Harry stared at them both. â€œFelix Felicis?â€ he said. â€œI dunno... I was sort of saving it...â€
â€œWhat for?â€ demanded Ron incredulously.
â€œWhat on earth is more important than this memory, Harry?â€ asked Hermione.
Harry did not answer. The thought of that little golden bottle had hovered on the edges of his imagination for some time; vague and unformulated plans that involved Ginny splitting up with Dean, and Ron somehow being happy to see her with a new boyfriend, had been fermenting in the depths of his brain, unacknowledged except during dreams or the twilight time between sleeping and waking...
â€œHarry? Are you still with us?â€ asked Hermione.
â€œWhaâ€”?... Yeah, of course,â€ he said, pulling himself together. â€œWell... okay. If I can't get Slughorn to talk this afternoon, I'll take some Felix and have another go this evening.â€
â€œThat's decided, then,â€ said Hermione briskly, getting to her feet and performing a graceful pirouette. â€œDestination... determination... deliberation...â€ she murmured.
â€œOh, stop that,â€ Ron begged her, â€œI feel sick enough as it isâ€”quick, hide me!â€
â€œIt isn't Lavender!â€ said Hermione impatiently, as another couple of girls appeared in the courtyard and Ron dived behind her.
â€œCool,â€ said Ron, peering over Hermione's shoulder to check. â€œBlimey, they don't look happy, do they?â€
â€œThey're the Montgomery sisters and of course they don't look happy, didn't you hear what happened to their little brother?â€ said Hermione.
â€œI'm losing track of what's happening to everyone's relatives, to be honest,â€ said Ron.
â€œWell, their brother was attacked by a werewolf. The rumor is that their mother refused to help the Death Eaters. Anyway, the boy was only five and he died in St. Mungo's, they couldn't save him.â€
â€œHe died?â€ repeated Harry, shocked. â€œBut surely werewolves don't kill, they just turn you into one of them?â€
â€œThey sometimes kill,â€ said Ron, who looked unusually grave now. â€œI've heard of it happening when the werewolf gets carried away.â€
â€œWhat was the werewolf's name?â€ said Harry quickly.
â€œWell, the rumor is that it was that Fenrir Greyback,â€ said Hermione.
â€œI knew itâ€”the maniac who likes attacking kids, the one Lupin told me about!â€ said Harry angrily.
Hermione looked at him bleakly.
â€œHarry, you've got to get that memory,â€ she said. â€œIt's all about stopping Voldemort, isn't it? These dreadful things that are happening are all down to him...â€
The bell rang overhead in the castle and both Hermione and Ron jumped to their feet, looking terrified.
â€œYou'll do fine,â€ Harry told them both, as they headed toward the entrance hall to meet the rest of the people taking their Apparition Test. â€œGood luck.â€
â€œAnd you too!â€ said Hermione with a significant look, as Harry headed off to the dungeons.
There were only three of them in Potions that afternoon: Harry, Ernie, and Draco Malfoy.
â€œAll too young to Apparate just yet?â€ said Slughorh genially, â€œNot turned seventeen yet?â€
They shook their heads.
â€œAh well,â€ said Slughorn cheerily, â€œas we're so few, we'll do something fun. I want you all to brew me up something amusing!â€
â€œThat sounds good, sir,â€ said Ernie sycophantically, rubbing his hands together. Malfoy, on the other hand, did not crack a smile.
â€œWhat do you mean, â€˜something amusing'?â€ he said irritably.
â€œOh, surprise me,â€ said Slughorn airily.
Malfoy opened his copy of Advanced Potion-Making with a sulky expression. It could not have been plainer that he thought this lesson was a waste of time. Undoubtedly, Harry thought, watching him over the top of his own book, Malfoy was begrudging the time he could otherwise be spending in the Room of Requirement.
Was it his imagination, or did Malfoy, like Tonks, look thinner? Certainly he looked paler; his skin still had that grayish tinge, probably because he so rarely saw daylight these days. But there was no air of smugness, excitement, or superiority; none of the swagger that he had had on the Hogwarts Express, when he had boasted openly of the mission he had been given by Voldemort... there could be only one conclusion, in Harry's opinion: the mission, whatever it was, was going badly.
Cheered by this thought, Harry skimmed through his copy of Advanced Potion-Making and found a heavily corrected Half-Blood Prince's version of An Elixir to Induce Euphoria, which seemed not only to meet Slughorn's instructions, but which might (Harry's heart leapt as the thought struck him) put Slughorn into such a good mood that he would be prepared to hand over that memory if Harry could persuade him to taste some...
â€œWell, now, this looks absolutely wonderful,â€ said Slughorn an hour and a half later, clapping his hands together as he stared down into the sunshine yellow contents of Harry's cauldron. â€œEuphoria, I take it? And what's that I smell? Mmmm... you've added just a sprig of peppermint, haven't you? Unorthodox, but what a stroke of inspiration, Harry, of course, that would tend to counterbalance the occasional side effects of excessive singing and nose-tweaking... I really don't know where you get these brain waves, my boy... unless â€”â€
Harry pushed the Half-Blood Prince's book deeper into his bag with his foot.
â€œâ€” it's just your mother's genes coming out in you!â€
â€œOh... yeah, maybe,â€ said Harry, relieved.
Ernie was looking rather grumpy; determined to outshine Harry for once, he had most rashly invented his own potion, which had curdled and formed a kind of purple dumpling at the bottom of his cauldron. Malfoy was already packing up, sour-faced; Slughorn had pronounced his Hiccuping Solution merely â€œpassable.â€
The bell rang and both Ernie and Malfoy left at once. â€œSir,â€ Harry began, but Slughorn immediately glanced over his shoulder; when he saw that the room was empty but for himself and Harry, he hurried away as fast as he could.
â€œProfessorâ€”Professor, don't you want to taste my poâ€”?â€ called Harry desperately.
But Slughorn had gone. Disappointed, Harry emptied the cauldron, packed up his things, left the dungeon, and walked slowly back upstairs to the common room.
Ron and Hermione returned in the late afternoon.
â€œHarry!â€ cried Hermione as she climbed through the portrait hole. â€œHarry, I passed!â€
â€œWell done!â€ he said. â€œAnd Ron?â€
â€œHeâ€”he just failed,â€ whispered Hermione, as Ron came slouching into the room looking most morose. â€œIt was really unlucky, a tiny thing, the examiner just spotted that he'd left half an eyebrow behind... how did it go with Slughorn?â€
â€œNo joy,â€ said Harry, as Ron joined them. â€œBad luck, mate, but you'll pass next timeâ€”we can take it together.â€
â€œYeah, I s'pose,â€ said Ron grumpily. â€œBut half an eyebrow! Like that matters!â€
â€œI know,â€ said Hermione soothingly, â€œit does seem really harsh...â€
They spent most of their dinner roundly abusing the Apparition examiner, and Ron looked fractionally more cheerful by the time they set off back to the common room, now discussing the continuing problem of Slughorn and the memory.
â€œSo, Harryâ€”you going to use the Felix Felicis or what?â€ Ron demanded.
â€œYeah, I s'pose I'd better,â€ said Harry. â€œI don't reckon I'll need all of it, not twenty-four hoursâ€™ worth, it can't take all night... I'll just take a mouthful. Two or three hours should do it.â€
â€œIt's a great feeling when you take it,â€ said Ron reminiscently. â€œLike you can't do anything wrong.â€
â€œWhat are you talking about?â€ said Hermione, laughing. â€œYou've never taken any!â€
â€œYeah, but I thought I had, didn't I?â€ said Ron, as though explaining the obvious. â€œSame difference really ...â€
As they had only just seen Slughorn enter the Great Hall and knew that he liked to take time over meals, they lingered for a while in the common room, the plan being that Harry should go to Slughorn s office once the teacher had had time to get back there. When the sun had sunk to the level of the treetops in the Forbidden Forest, they decided the moment had come, and after checking carefully that Neville, Dean, and Seamus were all in the common room, sneaked up to the boysâ€™ dormitory.
Harry took out the rolled-up socks at the bottom of his trunk and extracted the tiny, gleaming bottle.
â€œWell, here goes,â€ said Harry, and he raised the little bottle and look a carefully measured gulp.
â€œWhat does it feel like?â€ whispered Hermione.
Harry did not answer for a moment. Then, slowly but surely, an exhilarating sense of infinite opportunity stole through him; he felt as though he could have done anything, anything at all... and getting the memory from Slughorn seemed suddenly not only possible, but positively easy...
He got to his feet, smiling, brimming with confidence.
â€œExcellent,â€ he said. â€œReally excellent. Right... I'm going down to Hagrid's.â€
â€œWhat?â€ said Ron and Hermione together, looking aghast.
â€œNo, Harryâ€”you've got to go and see Slughorn, remember?â€ said Hermione.
â€œNo,â€ said Harry confidently. â€œI'm going to Hagrid's, I've got a good feeling about going to Hagrid's.â€
â€œYou've got a good feeling about burying a giant spider?â€ asked Ron, looking stunned.
â€œYeah,â€ said Harry, pulling his Invisibility Cloak out of his bag. â€œI feel like it's the place to be tonight, you know what I mean?â€
â€œNo,â€ said Ron and Hermione together, both looking positively alarmed now.
â€œThis is Felix Felicis, I suppose?â€ said Hermione anxiously, holding up the bottle to the light. â€œYou haven't got another little bottle full ofâ€” I don't know â€”â€
â€œEssence of Insanity?â€ suggested Ron, as Harry swung his cloak over his shoulders.
Harry laughed, and Ron and Hermione looked even more alarmed.
â€œTrust me,â€ he said. â€œI know what I'm doing ... or at least...â€ he strolled confidently to the door, â€œFelix does.â€
He pulled the Invisibility Cloak over his head and set off down the stairs, Ron and Hermione hurrying along behind him. At the foot of the stairs, Harry slid through the open door.
â€œWhat were you doing up there with her!â€ shrieked Lavender Brown, staring right through Harry at Ron and Hermione emerging together from the boysâ€™ dormitories. Harry heard Ron spluttering behind him as he darted across the room away from them.
Getting through the portrait hole was simple; as he approached it, Ginny and Dean came through it, and Harry was able to slip between them. As he did so, he brushed accidentally against Ginny.
â€œDon't push me, please, Dean,â€ she said, sounding annoyed. â€œYou're always doing that, I can get through perfectly well on my own...â€
The portrait swung closed behind Harry, but not before he had heard Dean make an angry retort... his feeling of elation increasing, Harry strode off through the castle. He did not have to creep along, for he met nobody on his way, but this did not surprise him in the slightest. This evening, he was the luckiest person at Hogwarts.
Why he knew that going to Hagrid's was the right thing to do, he had no idea. It was as though the potion was illuminating a few steps of the path at a time. He could not see the final destination, he could not see where Slughorn came in, but he knew that he was going the right way to get that memory. When he reached the entrance hall he saw that Filch had forgotten to lock the front door. Beaming, Harry threw it open and breathed in the smell of clean air and grass for a moment before walking down the steps into the dusk.
It was when he reached the bottom step that it occurred to him how very pleasant it would be to pass the vegetable patch on his walk to Hagrid's. It was not strictly on the way, but it seemed clear to Harry that this was a whim on which he should act, so he directed his feet immediately toward the vegetable patch, where he was pleased, but not altogether surprised, to find Professor Slughorn in conversation with Professor Sprout. Harry lurked behind a low stone wall, feeling at peace with the world and listening to their conversation.
â€œ... I do thank you for taking the time, Pomona,â€ Slughorn was saying courteously. â€œMost authorities agree that they are at their most efficacious if picked at twilight.â€
â€œOh, I quite agree,â€ said Professor Sprout warmly. â€œThat enough for you?â€
â€œPlenty, plenty,â€ said Slughorn, who, Harry saw, was carrying an armful of leafy plants. â€œThis should allow for a few leaves for each of my third-years, and some to spare if anybody over-stews them... well, good evening to you, and many thanks again!â€
Professor Sprout headed off into the gathering darkness in the direction of her greenhouses, and Slughorn directed his steps to the spot where Harry stood, invisible.
Seized with an immediate desire to reveal himself, Harry pulled off the cloak with a flourish.
â€œGood evening, Professor.â€
â€œMerlin's beard, Harry, you made me jump,â€ said Slughorn, stopping dead in his tracks and looking wary. â€œHow did you get out of the castle?â€
â€œI think Filch must've forgotten to lock the doors,â€ said Harry cheerfully, and was delighted to see Slughorn scowl.
â€œI'll be reporting that man, he's more concerned about litter than proper security if you ask me... but why are you out then, Harry?â€
â€œWell, sir, it's Hagrid,â€ said Harry, who knew that the right thing to do just now was to tell the truth. â€œHe's pretty upset... but you won't tell anyone, Professor? I don't want trouble for him...â€
Slughorn's curiosity was evidently aroused.
â€œWell, I can't promise that,â€ he said gruffly. â€œBut I know that Dumbledore trusts Hagrid to the hilt, so I'm sure he can't be up to anything very dreadful...â€
â€œWell, it's this giant spider, he's had it for years... it lived in the forest... it could talk and everythingâ€”â€
â€œI heard rumors there were Acromantula in the forest,â€ said Slughorn softly, looking over at the mass of black trees. â€œIt's true, then?â€
â€œYes,â€ said Harry. â€œBut this one, Aragog, the first one Hagrid ever got, it died last night. He's devastated. He wants company while he buries it and I said I'd go.â€
â€œTouching, touching,â€ said Slughorn absentmindedly, his large droopy eyes fixed upon the distant lights of Hagrid's cabin. â€œBut Acromantula venom is very valuable... if the beast only just died it might not yet have dried out... of course, I wouldn't want to do anything insensitive if Hagrid is upset... but if there was any way to procure some ... I mean, it's almost impossible to get venom from an Acromantula while it's alive...â€
Slughorn seemed to be talking more to himself than Harry now.
â€œ... seems an awful waste not to collect it... might get a hundred Galleons a pint... to be frank, my salary is not large...â€
And now Harry saw clearly what was to be done.
â€œWell,â€ he said, with a most convincing hesitancy, â€œwell, if you wanted to come, Professor, Hagrid would probably be really pleased... give Aragog a better send-off, you know ...â€
â€œYes, of course,â€ said Slughorn, his eyes now gleaming with enthusiasm. â€œI tell you what, Harry, I'll meet you down there with a bottle or two... we'll drink the poor beast'sâ€”well â€” not healthâ€”but we'll send it off in style, anyway, once it's buried. And I'll change my tie, this one is a little exuberant for the occasion...â€
He bustled back into the castle, and Harry sped off to Hagrid's, delighted with himself.
â€œYeh came,â€ croaked Hagrid, when he opened the door and saw Harry emerging from the Invisibility Cloak in front of him.
â€œYeahâ€”Ron and Hermione couldn't, though,â€ said Harry. â€œThey're really sorry.â€
â€œDon'â€”donâ€™ matter... He'd've bin touched yeh're here, though, Harry...â€
Hagrid gave a great sob. He had made himself a black armband out of what looked like a rag dipped in boot polish, and his eyes were puffy, red, and swollen. Harry patted him consolingly on the elbow, which was the highest point of Hagrid he could easily reach.
â€œWhere are we burying him?â€ he asked. â€œThe forest?â€
â€œBlimey, no,â€ said Hagrid, wiping his streaming eyes on the bottom of his shirt. â€œThe other spiders wonâ€™ let me anywhere near their webs now Aragog's gone. Turns out it was only on his orders they didnâ€™ eat me! Can yeh believe that, Harry?â€
The honest answer was â€œyes"; Harry recalled with painful ease the scene when he and Ron had come face-to-face with the aeromantulas. They had been quite clear that Aragog was the only thing that stopped them from eating Hagrid.
â€œNever bin an area oâ€™ the forest I couldnâ€™ go before!â€ said Hagrid, shaking his head. â€œIt wasnâ€™ easy, gettinâ€™ Aragog's body out oâ€™ there, I can tell yehâ€”they usually eat their dead, see... but I wanted ter give â€˜im a nice burial... a proper send-off...â€
He broke into sobs again and Harry resumed the patting of his elbow, saying as he did so (for the potion seemed to indicate that it was the right thing to do), â€œProfessor Slughorn met me coming down here, Hagrid.â€
â€œNot in trouble, are yeh?â€ said Hagrid, looking up, alarmed. â€œYeh shouldnâ€™ be outta the castle in the evenin', I know it, it's my fault â€”â€
â€œNo, no, when he heard what I was doing he said he'd like to come and pay his last respects to Aragog too,â€ said Harry. â€œHe's gone to change into something more suitable, I think... and he said he'd bring some bottles so we can drink to Aragog's memory...â€
â€œDid he?â€ said Hagrid, looking both astonished and touched. â€œTha'sâ€”tha's righâ€™ nice of him, that is, anâ€™ not turninâ€™ yeh in either. I've never really had a lot ter do with Horace Slughorn before... cominâ€™ ter see old Aragog off, though, eh? Well... he'd've liked that, Aragog would...â€
Harry thought privately that what Aragog would have liked most about Slughorn was the ample amount of edible flesh he provided, but he merely moved to the rear window of Hagrid's hut, where he saw the rather horrible sight of the enormous dead spider lying on its back outside, its legs curled and tangled.
â€œAre we going to bury him here, Hagrid, in your garden?â€
â€œJusâ€™ beyond the pumpkin patch, I thought,â€ said Hagrid in a choked voice. â€œI've already dug the â€” yeh knowâ€”grave. Jusâ€™ thought we'd say a few nice things over himâ€”happy memories, yeh know â€”â€
His voice quivered and broke. There was a knock on the door, and he turned to answer it, blowing his nose on his great spotted handkerchief as he did so. Slughorn hurried over the threshold, several bottles in his arms, and wearing a somber black cravat.
â€œHagrid,â€ he said, in a deep, grave voice. â€œSo very sorry to hear of your loss.â€
â€œTha's very nice of yeh,â€ said Hagrid. â€œThanks a lot. Anâ€™ thanks fer not givin Harry detention neither...â€
â€œWouldn't have dreamed of it,â€ said Slughorn. â€œSad night, sad night... where is the poor creature?â€
â€œOut here,â€ said Hagrid in a shaking voice. â€œShall weâ€”shall we do it, then?â€
The three of them stepped out into the back garden. The moon was glistening palely through the trees now, and its rays mingled with the light spilling from Hagrid's window to illuminate Aragog's body lying on the edge of a massive pit beside a ten-foot-high mound of freshly dug earth.
â€œMagnificent,â€ said Slughorn, approaching the spider's head, where eight milky eyes stared blankly at the sky and two huge, curved pincers shone, motionless, in the moonlight. Harry thought he heard the tinkle of bottles as Slughorn bent over the pincers, apparently examining the enormous hairy head.
â€œIt's not ev'ryone appreciates how beau'iful they are,â€ said Hagrid to Slughorn's back, tears leaking from the corners of his crinkled eyes. â€œI didnâ€™ know yeh were interested in creatures like Aragog, Horace.â€
â€œInterested? My dear Hagrid, I revere them,â€ said Slughorn, stepping back from the body. Harry saw the glint of a bottle disappear beneath his cloak, though Hagrid, mopping his eyes once more, noticed nothing. â€œNow... shall we proceed to the burial?â€
Hagrid nodded and moved forward. He heaved the gigantic spider into his arms and, with an enormous grunt, rolled it into the dark pit. It hit the bottom with a rather horrible, crunchy thud. Hagrid started to cry again.
â€œOf course, it's difficult for you, who knew him best,â€ said Slughorn, who like Harry could reach no higher than Hagrid's elbow, but patted it all the same. â€œWhy don't I say a few words?â€
He must have got a lot of good quality venom from Aragog, Harry thought, for Slughorn wore a satisfied smirk as he stepped up to the rim of the pit and said, in a slow, impressive voice, â€œFarewell, Aragog, king of arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you won't forget! Though your body will decay, your spirit lingers on in the quiet, web-spun places of your forest home. May your many-eyed descendants ever flourish and your human friends find solace for the loss they have sustained.â€
â€œTha wa... tha wa... beau'iful!â€ howled Hagrid, and he collapsed onto the compost heap, crying harder than ever.
â€œThere, there,â€ said Slughorn, waving his wand so that the huge pile of earth rose up and then fell, with a muffled sort of crash, onto the dead spider, forming a smooth mound. â€œLets get inside and have a drink. Get on his other side, Harry... that's it... up you come, Hagrid... well done...â€
They deposited Hagrid in a chair at the table. Fang, who had been skulking in his basket during the burial, now came padding softly across to them and put his heavy head into Harry's lap as usual. Slughorn uncorked one of the bottles of wine he had brought.
â€œI have had it all tested for poison,â€ he assured Harry, pouring most of the first bottle into one of Hagrid's bucket-sized mugs and handing it to Hagrid. â€œHad a house-elf taste every bottle after what happened to your poor friend Rupert.â€
Harry saw, in his mind's eye, the expression on Hermione's face if she ever heard about this abuse of house-elves, and decided never to mention it to her.
â€œOne for Harry...â€ said Slughorn, dividing a second bottle between two mugs, â€œ... and one for me. Well,â€” he raised his mug high, â€œto Aragog.â€
â€œAragog,â€ said Harry and Hagrid together.
Both Slughorn and Hagrid drank deeply. Harry, however, with the way ahead illuminated for him by Felix Felicis, knew that he must not drink, so he merely pretended to take a gulp and then set the mug back on the table before him.
â€œI had him from an egg, yeh know,â€ said Hagrid morosely. â€œ'Tiny little thing he was when he hatched. â€˜Bout the size of a Pekingeseâ€
â€œSweet,â€ said Slughorn.
â€œUsed ter keep him in a cupboard up at the school until... well...â€
Hagrid's face darkened and Harry knew why: Tom Riddle had contrived to have Hagrid thrown out of school, blamed for opening the Chamber of Secrets. Slughorn, however, did not seem to be listening; he was looking up at the ceiling, from which a number of brass pots hung, and also a long, silky skein of bright white hair.
â€œThat's not unicorn hair, Hagrid?â€
â€œOh, yeah,â€ said Hagrid indifferently. â€œGets pulled out of their tails, they catch it on branches anâ€™ stuff in the forest, yeh know ...â€
â€œBut my dear chap, do you know how much that's worth?â€
â€œI use it fer bindinâ€™ on bandages anâ€™ stuff if a creature gets in jured,â€ said Hagrid, shrugging. â€œIt's dead useful... very strong.â€
Slughorn took another deep draught from his mug, his eyes moving carefully around the cabin now, looking, Harry knew, for more treasures that he might be able to convert into a plentiful supply of oak-matured mead, crystalized pineapple, and velvet smoking jackets. He refilled Hagrid's mug and his own, and questioned him about the creatures that lived in the forest these days and how Hagrid was able to look after them all. Hagrid, becoming expansive under the influence of the drink and Slughorn's flattering interest, stopped mopping his eyes and entered happily into a long explanation of Bowtruckle husbandry.
The Felix Felicis gave Harry a little nudge at this point, and he noticed that the supply of drink that Slughorn had brought was running out fast. Harry had not yet managed to bring off the Refilling Charm without saying the incantation aloud, but the idea that he might not be able to do it tonight was laughable: indeed, Harry grinned to himself as, unnoticed by either Hagrid or Slughorn (now swapping tales of the illegal trade in dragon eggs) he pointed his wand under the table at the emptying bottles and they immediately began to refill.
After an hour or so, Hagrid and Slughorn began making extravagant toasts: to Hogwarts, to Dumbledore, to elf-made wine, and toâ€”
â€œHarry Potter!â€ bellowed Hagrid, slopping some of his fourteenth bucket of wine down his chin as he drained it.
â€œYes, indeed,â€ cried Slughorn a little thickly, â€œParry Otter, the Chosen Boy Whoâ€”well â€” something of that sort,â€ he mumbled, and drained his mug too.
Not long after this, Hagrid became tearful again and pressed the whole unicorn tail upon Slughorn, who pocketed it with cries of, â€œTo friendship! To generosity! To ten Galleons a hair!â€
And for a while after that, Hagrid and Slughorn were sitting side by side, arms around each other, singing a slow sad song about a dying wizard called Odo.
â€œAaargh, the good die young,â€ muttered Hagrid, slumping low onto the table, a little cross-eyed, while Slughorn continued to warble the refrain. â€œMe dad was no age ter go ... nor were yer mumâ€™ anâ€™ dad, Harry...â€
Great fat tears oozed out of the corners of Hagrid's crinkled eyes again; he grasped Harry's arm and shook it
â€œBesâ€™ wiz and witchard oâ€™ their age I never knew... terrible thing... terrible thing...â€
Slughorn sang plaintively.
â€œAnd Odo the hero, they bore him back home
To the place that he'd known as a lad,
They laid him to rest with his hat inside out.
And his wand snapped in two, which was sad.â€
â€œ... terrible,â€ Hagrid grunted, and his great shaggy head rolled sideways onto his arms and he fell asleep, snoring deeply.
â€œSorry,â€ said Slughorn with a hiccup. â€œCan't carry a tune to save my life.â€
â€œHagrid wasn't talking about your singing,â€ said Harry quietly. â€œHe was talking about my mum and dad dying.â€
â€œOh,â€ said Slughorn, repressing a large belch. â€œOh dear. Yes, that wasâ€”was terrible indeed. Terrible... terrible...â€
He looked quite at a loss for what to say, and resorted to refilling their mugs.
â€œI don'tâ€”don't suppose you remember it, Harry?â€ he asked awkwardly.
â€œNoâ€”well, I was only one when they died,â€ said Harry, his eyes on the flame of the candle flickering in Hagrid's heavy snores. â€œBut I've found out pretty much what happened since. My dad died first. Did you know that?â€
â€œIâ€”I didn't,â€ said Slughorn in a hushed voice.
â€œYeah... Voldemort murdered him and then stepped over his body toward my mum,â€ said Harry.
Slughorn gave a great shudder, but he did not seem able to tear his horrified gaze away from Harry's face.
â€œHe told her to get out of the way,â€ said Harry remorselessly. â€œHe told me she needn't have died. He only wanted me. She could have run.â€
â€œOh dear,â€ breathed Slughorn. â€œShe could have... she needn't... that's awful...â€
â€œIt is, isn't it?â€ said Harry, in a voice barely more than a whisper. â€œBut she didn't move. Dad was already dead, but she didn't want me to go too. She tried to plead with Voldemort... but he just laughed....â€
â€œThat's enough!â€ said Slughorn suddenly, raising a shaking hand. â€œReally, my dear boy, enough... I'm an old man... I don't need to hear... I don't want to hear...â€
â€œI forgot,â€ lied Harry, Felix Felicis leading him on. â€œYou liked her, didn't you?â€
â€œLiked her?â€ said Slughorn, his eyes brimming with tears once more. â€œI don't imagine anyone who met her wouldn't have liked her... very brave... very funny... it was the most horrible thing...â€
â€œBut you won't help her son,â€ said Harry. â€œShe gave me her life, but you won't give me a memory.â€
Hagrid's rumbling snores filled the cabin. Harry looked steadily into Slughorn's tear-filled eyes. The Potions master seemed unable to look away.
â€œDon't say that,â€ he whispered. â€œIt isn't a question... if it were to help you, of course... but no purpose can be serve...â€
â€œIt can,â€ said Harry clearly. â€œDumbledore needs information. I need information.â€
He knew he was safe: Felix was telling him that Slughorn would remember nothing of this in the morning. Looking Slughorn straight in the eye, Harry leaned forward a little.
â€œI am the Chosen One. I have to kill him. I need that memory.â€
Slughorn turned paler than ever; his shiny forehead gleamed with sweat.
â€œYou are the Chosen One?â€
â€œOf course I am,â€ said Harry calmly.
â€œBut the... my dear boy... you're asking a great deal... you're asking me, in fact, to aid you in your attempt to destroyâ€”â€
â€œYou don't want to get rid of the wizard who killed Lily Evans?â€
â€œHarry, Harry, of course I do, but â€”â€
â€œYou're scared he'll find out you helped me?â€
Slughorn said nothing; he looked terrified.
â€œBe brave like my mother, Professor...â€
Slughorn raised a pudgy hand and pressed his shaking fingers to his mouth; he looked for a moment like an enormously overgrown baby.
â€œI am not proud...â€ he whispered through his fingers. â€œI am ashamed of whatâ€”of what that memory shows... I think I may have done great damage that day...â€
â€œYou'd cancel out anything you did by giving me the memory,â€ said Harry. â€œIt would be a very brave and noble thing to do.â€
Hagrid twitched in his sleep and snored on. Slughorn and Harry stared at each other over the guttering candle. There was a long, long silence, but Felix Felicis told Harry not to break it, to wait.
Then, very slowly, Slughorn put his hand in his pocket and pulled out his wand. He put his other hand inside his cloak and took out a small, empty bottle. Still looking into Harry's eyes, Slughorn touched the tip of his wand to his temple and withdrew it, so that a long, silver thread of memory came away too, clinging to the wand tip. Longer and longer the memory stretched until it broke and swung, silvery bright, from the wand. Slughorn lowered it into the bottle where it coiled, then spread, swirling like gas. He corked the bottle with a trembling hand and then passed it across the table to Harry.
â€œThank you very much, Professor.â€
â€œYou're a good boy,â€ said Professor Slughorn, tears trickling down his fat cheeks into his walrus mustache. â€œAnd you've got her eyes... just don't think too badly of me once you've seen it...â€
And he too put his head on his arms, gave a deep sigh, and fell asleep.
The Half Blood Prince
. . . .