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Ron yelled as his heel was wrenched upwards once more; he dangled helplessly, upside-down, his robes hanging off him.

Ron had dropped his glass; he half-rose from his chair and then crumpled, his extremities jerking uncontrollably. Foam was dribbling from his mouth and his eyes were bulging from their sockets.

But Ron, who did not appear to be listening to the toast, had already thrown the mead into his mouth and swallowed it.

But Harry did not get a lot of time to consider the problem, what with Quidditch practice, homework, and the fact that he was now being dogged wherever he went by Cormac McLaggen and Lavender Brown.

"I've been waiting for you to come back," said McLaggen, disregarding Harry’s drawn wand. "Must’ve fallen asleep. Look, I saw them taking Weasley up to the hospital wing earlier. Didn't look like he'll be fit for next week's match."


'Harry,' he mumbled. 'This is very early for a call ... I generally sleep late on a Saturday ..."

Dumbledore stood and swept over to the cabinet where he now kept the Pensieve, but which then was full of bottles. Having handed Voldemort a goblet of wine and poured one for himself, he returned to the seat behind his desk. . "So, Tom ... to what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I did it — well, kind of!" Ron told Harry enthusiastically when he caught sight of him. "I was supposed to be Apparating to out-side Madam Puddifoots Tea Shop and I overshot it a bit, ended up near Scrivenshafts, but at least I moved!"

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 Aragogs body lying on the edge of a massive pit beside a ten-foot- high mound of freshly dug earth.

'Back to normal, then?' said Harry, grinning. Slughorn chuckled. Thanks a lot, Professor.'


"So, Harry — you going to use the Felix Felicis or what?" Ron demanded.

'Professor, I'm really sorry to disturb you,' said Harry as quietly as possible, while Ron stood on tiptoe, attempting to see past Slughorn into his room, 'but my friend Ron's swallowed a love potion by mistake. You couldn't make him an antidote, could you? I'd take him to Madam Pomfrey, but we're not supposed to have anything from Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and, you know ... awkward questions ...'

"Wish that would happen with me and Lavender," said Ron gloomily, watching Hermione silently tapping each of his mis-spelled words with the end of her wand, so that they corrected themselves on the page. "But the more I hint I want to finish it, the tighter she holds on. It's like going out with the giant squid."

"I'm sorry," he muttered awkwardly. "I mean... I miss him, as well."

She thrust what appeared to be a green onion, a large spotted toadstool, and a considerable amount of what looked like cat litter into Ron's hands, finally pulling out a rather grubby scroll of parchment that she handed to Harry.


Harry pushed the Half-Blood Prince's book deeper into his bag with his foot.


"No, nothing," said Dumbledore, and a great sadness filled his face. "The time is long gone when I could frighten you with a burning wardrobe and force you to make repayment for your crimes. But I wish I could, Tom. ... I wish I could. . . ."


'How did you do?' asked Ron, hurrying towards Harry. '1 think 1 felt something the last time I tried - a kind of tingling in my feet.'


"Of course I don't," said Dumbledore. "And I don't think for a moment you expected me to. Nevertheless, you came here, you asked, you must have had a purpose.",


Despite his determination 10 catch Malfoy out, Harry had no luck at all over the next couple of weeks. Although he consulted the map as often as he could, sometimes making unnecessary visits to the bathroom between lessons to search it, he did not once see Malfoy anywhere suspicious. Admit-tedly, he spotted Crabbe and Goyle moving around the castle on their own more often than usual, sometimes remaining stationary in deserted corridors, but at these times Malfoy was not only nowhere near them, but impossible to locate on the map at all. This was most mysterious. Harry toyed with the possibility that Malfoy was actually leaving the school grounds, but could not see how he could be doing it, given the very high leve! of security now operating within the castle. He could only suppose ihat he was missing Malfoy amongst the hundreds of tiny black dots upon the map. As for the fact that Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle appeared to be going their dif-ferent ways when they were usually inseparable, these things happened as people got older - Ron and Hermione, Harry reflected sadly, were living proof.;