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'You've got a nerve, boy!' he boomed, taking the bezoar and holding it up so that the class could see it. 'Oh, you're like your mother ... well, 1 can't fault you ... a bezoar would certainly act as an antidote to all these potions!'
"I managed to talk them out o f it for the time being," said Parvati. "That Katie thing really freaked them out, but as there hasn't been anything since... Oh, hi, Hermione!"
With half an hour of the game gone, Gryffindor were leading sixty points to zero, Ron having made some truly spectacular saves, some by the very tips of his gloves, and Ginny having scored four of Gryffindor's six goals. This effectively stopped Zacharias won-dering loudly whether the two Weasleys were only there because Harry liked them, and he started on Peakes and Coote instead.
Chapter 16: A very frosty Christmas
Hermione was now staring at Harry as though she could not be-lieve her eyes.
Hermione slid off the desk. The little flock of golden birds con-tinued to twitter in circles around her head so that she looked like a strange, feathery model of the solar system.
"And so, for the first time, I am giving you homework, Harry. It will be your job to persuade Professor Slughorn to divulge the real memory, which will undoubtedly be our most crucial piece of information of all."
Malfoy spun round on the spot, his hand flying to his wand, but at thai precise moment the four Heads of House shouted, 'Quiet!' and silence fell again. Malfoy turned slowly to face the front.
"Well... we don't really talk much," said Ron. "It's mainly . . ."
"Oh - yes - didn't you know?" said Harmione, with a most un-Hermione-ish giggle.
'Oh, well, if Won-Won thinks that, you'd better do it,' she said, flaring up at once. 'After all, when has Won-Won's judgement ever been faulty?'
Neither Ron nor Hermione was at all sympathetic when Harry told them of this disastrous interview Hermione was still seething at the way Harry had triumphed without doing the work properly. Ron was resentful that Harry hadn't slipped him a bezoar, too.
"You die," said Ron simply. "Fred and George tried to get me to make one when I was about five. I nearly did too, I was holding hands with Fred and everything when Dad found us. He went mental," said Ron, with a reminiscent gleam in his eyes. "Only time I've ever seen Dad as angry as Mum, Fred reckons his left but-tock has never been the same since."
Harry stared at it. "D'you reckon this is safe to open?" he asked. "Can't be anything dangerous, all our mail's still being searched at the Ministry," replied Ron, though he was eyeing the parcel suspiciously.
He seized his dragonskin briefcase, stuffed his handkerchief back into his pocket and marched to the dungeon door.
It took Harry only five minutes to realise that his reputa-tion as the best potion-maker in the class was crashing around his ears. Slughorn had peered hopefully into his cauldron on his first circuit of the dungeon, preparing to exclaim in delight as he usually did, and instead had with-drawn his head hastily, coughing, as the smell of bad eggs overwhelmed him. Hermione's expression could not have been any smugger; she had loathed being out-performed in every Potions class. She was now decanting the mysteriously separated ingredients of her poison into ten different crystal phials. More to avoid watching this irritating sight than any-thing else, Harry bent over the Half-Blood Prince's book and turned a few pages with unnecessary force.
"Oh, well, nothing at all onerous, I assure you," said Scrim-geour. "If you were to be seen popping in and out of the Ministry from time to time, for instance, that would give the right impres-sion. And of course, while you were there, you would have ample : opportunity to speak to Gawain Robards, my successor as Head of the Auror office. Dolores Umbridge has told me that you cherish an ambition to become an Auror. Well, that could be arranged very easily. ..."
But Harry did not answer; he was moving quickly through the crowd, past the place where Professor Flitwick was making squeaky attempts to position a few Ravenclaws, all of whom wanted to be near the front, past Professor Sprout, who was chivvying the Hufflepuffs into line, until, by dodging around Ernie Macmillan, he managed to position himself right at the back of the crowd, directly behind Malfoy, who was taking advantage of the general upheaval to continue his argument with Crabbe, standing five feet away and looking mutinous.。