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When she had left the room, Professor McGonagall turned back to Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

"Your mother had a choice too," said Dumbledore gently. "Yes, Merope Riddle chose death in spite of a son who needed her, but do not judge her too harshly, Harry. She was greatly weakened by long suffering and she never had your mother's courage. And now, if you will stand ..."

"Because its probably not Ministry of Magic approved," said Hermione. "And also," she added, as Harry and Ron rolled their eyes, "because I'm starting to think this Prince character was a bit dodgy."

"Did it just happen all of a sudden, or — ?"

"Then you can hardly complain that you get no warning of vis-itors," said Ogden tartly. "I am here following a serious breach of Wizarding law, which occurred here in the early hours of this morning —"


Together they ran back along the lane. It took them no time to find the little group of people around Katie, who was still writhing and screaming on the ground; Ron, Hermione, and Leanne were all trying to quiet her.

"It's got nothing to do with that!" said Hermione, her cheeks reddening. "I just think it's very irresponsible to start performing spells when you don't even know what they're for, and stop talking about 'the Prince' as if it's his title, I bet it's just a stupid nickname, and it doesn't seem as though he was a very nice person to me!"

"I can fix that," said Harry, landing beside the two girls, pointing his wand at Demelzas mouth, and saying "Episkey." "And Ginny, don't call Ron a prat, you're not the Captain of this team —"

"Oh," said the bewildered-looking girl, taking in Dumbledore's eccentric appearance. "Um. . . just a mo' . . . MRS. COLE!" she bellowed over her shoulder.

"I don' think there is, Hermione," choked Hagrid, attempting to stem the flood of his tears. "See, the rest o' the tribe ... Aragog's family . . . they're gettin' a bit funny now he's ill... bit restive ..."


"I think that will do, Harry," said Dumbledore. He took Harry by the elbow and tugged. Next moment, they were both soaring weightlessly through darkness, until they landed squarely on their feet, back in Dumbledore's now twilit office.

She nodded impatiently, not taking her eyes off her potion, which was still deep purple, though according to the book ought to be turning a light shade of lilac by now.

"Yes, thank you, Phineas," said Dumbledore quellingly. "Professor Snape knows much more about the Dark Arts than Madam Pomfrey, Harry. Anyway, the St. Mungo's staff are sending me hourly reports, and I am hopeful that Katie will make a full recovery in time."

"Well, that's why we were arguing. She came back from the bathroom in the Three Broomsticks holding it, said it was a sur-prise for somebody at Hogwarts and she had to deliver it. She looked all funny when she said it. ... Oh no, oh no, I bet she'd been Imperiused and I didn't realize!"

Harry looked at his watch and hurriedly put the old copy of Advanced Potion-Making back into his bag.


There was a pause while Harry continued to pound the resilient pod with a trowel.


"We met on the train, in old Sluggy's compartment," he said confidently, stepping out of the crowd to shake Harry's hand. "Cormac McLaggen, Keeper."


"Mr. Gaunt," said Ogden doggedly, "I am afraid that neither your ancestors nor mine have anything to do with the matter in hand. I am here because of Morfin, Morfin and the Muggle he ac-costed late last night. Our information" — he glanced down at his scroll of parchment — "is that Morfin performed a jinx or hex on the said Muggle, causing him to erupt in highly painful hives."


The girl laughed. The jingling, clopping noises were growing louder and louder. Morfin made to get out of his armchair. , "Keep your seat," said his father warningly, in Parseltongue.,


"He's speaking Parseltongue?";