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Lupin burst out laughing. "Sometimes you remind me a lot of James. He called it my 'furry little problem in company. Many people were under the impression that I owned a badly behaved

Hermione had left her stool and was halfway towards Siughorn's desk before the rest of the class had realised it was time to move, and by the time Harry, Ron and Ernie returned to the table, she had already tipped the contents of her phial into her cauldron and was kindling a fire underneath it.

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

A streak of orange light flew under Harrys left arm and missed Ginny by inches; Harry pushed Ron up against the wall.

"You speak it?"


"What's chat?" asked Harry. '

Lupin shrugged. "The news would have leaked out anyway. We both know he wanted my job, but he could have wreaked much worse damage on me by tampering with the potion. He kept me healthy. I must be grateful."

"No, I didn't," said Harry, turning back to face them both.

Lupin paused and then said, "It was Greyback who bit me." "What?" said Harry, astonished. "When — when you were a kid, you mean?"

"Look , " sighed Hermione, "Secrecy Sensors detect jinxes, curses, and concealment charms, don't they? They're used to find d ark magic and d ark obje c ts. They'd have picked up a powerful curse , like the one in the necklace, withi n seconds. But something that's just been put in the wrong bottle wouldn ' t register -- anyway Love potions aren't d ark or dangerous ---"


"Mr. Weasley, you know what I told you at the station when we were setting off for school?"

He was not fooled; for all Scrimgeour's talk that they had just been in the area, that Percy wanted to look up his family, this must be the real reason that they had come, so that Scrimgeour could speak to Harry alone.

He seized his dragonskin briefcase, stuffed his handkerchief back into his pocket and marched to the dungeon door.

Whether it had been built that way, or because he had used magical trickery to make it so, Slughorn's office was much larger than the usual teacher's study. The ceiling and walls had been draped with emerald, crimson , and gold hangings, so that it looked as though they were all inside a vast tent. The room was crowded and stuffy and bathed in the red light cast by an ornate golden lamp dangling from the center of the ceiling in which real fairies were fluttering, each a brilliant speck of light. Loud singing accompanied by what sounded like mandolins issued from a distant corner; a haze of pipe smoke hung over several elderly warlocks deep in conversation, and a number of house-elves were negotiating their way squeakily through the forest of knees, obscured by the heavy silver platters of food they were bearing, so that they looked like little roving tables.



"Looking for Ron?" she asked, smirking. "He's over there, the filthy hypocrite."


Harry stared at him.


"No," sighed Dumbledore. "He is not very happy with me either. We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on."


Ron gave a great grunting snore.,


"All right," she said cheerfully, and he thought he heard her, as he hurried off into the crowd, resume the subject of the Rotfang Conspiracy with Professor Trelawney, who seemed sincerely in terested. It was easy, once out of the party, to pull his Invisibility Cloak out of his pocket and throw it over himself, for the corridor was quite deserted. What was more difficult was finding Snape and Malfoy. Harry ran down the corridor, the noise of his feet masked by the music and loud talk still issuing from Slughorn's office behind him. Perhaps Snape had taken Malfoy to his office in the dungeons ... or perhaps he was escorting him back to the Slyt herin common room. . . . Harry pressed his ear against door after door as he dashed down the corridor until, with a great jolt of excitement, he crouched down to the keyhole of the last classroom in the corridor and heard voices.;