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Still here somewhere. Yes. And without warning, Dumbledore swooped, plunging the tip of his wand into the seat of the overstuffed armchair, which yelled, Ouch. Good evening, Horace, said Dumbledore, straightening up again. Harrys jaw dropped. Where a split second before there had been an armchair, there now crouched an enormously fat, bald, old man who was massaging his lower belly and squinting Steamcharts new world at Dumbledore with an aggrieved and watery eye. There was no need to stick the wand in that hard, he said gruffly, clambering to his feet. It hurt. The wandlight sparkled on his shiny pate, his prominent eyes, his enormous, silver, walruslike mustache, and the highly polished buttons on the maroon velvet jacket he was wearing over a pair of lilac silk pajamas. The top of his head barely reached Dumbledores chin. What gave it away. he grunted as he staggered to his feet, still rubbing his lower belly. He seemed remarkably unabashed for a man who had just been discovered pretending to be an armchair. My dear Horace, said Dumbledore, looking amused, if the Death Eaters really had come to call, the Dark Mark would go here been set over the house. The wizard clapped a pudgy hand to his vast forehead. The Dark Mark, he muttered. Knew there was something. ah well. Wouldnt have had time anyway, Id only just put the finishing touches to my upholstery when you entered the room. He heaved a great sigh that made the ends of his mustache flutter. Would you like my assistance clearing up. asked Dumbledore politely. Please, said the other. They stood back to back, the tall thin wizard and the short round one, and waved their wands in one identical sweeping motion. The furniture flew back to its original places; ornaments re-formed in midair, feathers zoomed into their cushions; torn books repaired themselves as they landed upon their shelves; oil lanterns soared onto side tables and reignited; a vast collection Steamcharts new world splintered silver picture frames flew glittering across the room and alighted, whole and untarnished, upon a desk; rips, cracks, and holes healed everywhere, and the walls wiped themselves clean. What kind of blood was that, incidentally. asked Dumbledore loudly over the chiming of the newly unsmashed grandfather clock. On the walls. Dragon, shouted the wizard called Horace, as, with a deafening grinding and tinkling, the chandelier screwed itself back into the ceiling. There was a final plunk from the piano, and silence. Yes, dragon, repeated the wizard conversationally. My last bottle, and prices are sky-high at the moment. Still, it might be reusable. He stumped over to a small crystal bottle standing on top of a sideboard and held it up to the light, examining the thick liquid within. Hmm. Bit dusty. He set the bottle back on the sideboard and sighed. It was then that his gaze fell upon Harry. Oho, he said, his large round eyes flying to Harrys forehead and the lightning-shaped scar it bore. Oho. This, said Dumbledore, moving forward to make the introduction, is Harry Potter. Harry, this is an old friend and colleague of mine, Horace Slughorn. Slughorn turned on Dumbledore, his expression shrewd. So thats how you thought youd persuade me, is it. Well, the answers no, Albus. He pushed past Harry, his face turned resolutely away with the air of a man trying to resist temptation. I suppose we can have a drink, at least. asked Dumbledore. For old times sake. Slughorn hesitated. All right then, one drink, he said ungraciously. Dumbledore smiled at Harry and directed him toward a chair not unlike the one that Slughorn had so recently see more, which stood right beside the newly burning fire and a brightly glowing oil lamp. Harry took the seat with the distinct impression that Dumbledore, for some reason, wanted to keep him as visible as possible. Certainly when Slughorn, who had been busy with decanters and glasses, turned to face the room again, his eyes fell immediately upon Harry. Hmpf, he said, looking away quickly as though frightened of hurting his eyes. Here - He gave a drink to Dumbledore, who had sat down without invitation, thrust the tray at Harry, and then sank into the cushions of the repaired sofa and a disgruntled silence. His legs were so short they did not touch the floor. Well, how have you been keeping, Horace. Dumbledore asked. Not so well, said Slughorn at once. Weak chest. Wheezy. Rheumatism too. Cant move like I used to. Well, thats to be expected. Old age. Fatigue. And yet you must have moved fairly quickly to prepare such a welcome for us at such short notice, said Dumbledore. You cant have had more than Steamcharts new world minutes warning. Slughorn said, half irritably, half proudly, Two. Didnt hear my Intruder Charm go off, I was taking a bath. Still, he added sternly, seeming to pull himself back together again, the fact remains that Im an old man, Albus. A tired old man whos earned the right to a quiet life and a few creature comforts. He certainly had those, thought Harry, looking around the room. It was stuffy and cluttered, yet nobody could say it was uncomfortable; there were soft chairs and footstools, drinks and books, boxes of chocolates and plump cushions. If Harry had not known who lived there, he would have guessed at a rich, fussy old lady. Youre not yet as old as I am, Horace, said Dumbledore. Well, maybe you ought to think about retirement yourself, said Slughorn bluntly. His pale gooseberry eyes had found Dumbledores injured hand. Reactions not what they were, I see. Youre quite right, said Dumbledore serenely, shaking back his sleeve to reveal the tips of those burned and blackened fingers; the sight of them made the back of Harrys neck prickle unpleasantly. I am undoubtedly slower than I was. But on the other hand. He shrugged and spread his hands wide, as though to say that age had its compensations, and Harry noticed a ring on his uninjured hand that he had never seen Dumbledore wear before: It was large, rather clumsily made of what looked like gold, and was set with a heavy black stone that had cracked down the middle. Slughorns eyes lingered for a moment on the ring too, and Harry saw a tiny frown momentarily crease his wide forehead. So, all these precautions against intruders, Horace. are they for the Death Eaters benefit, or mine. asked Dumbledore. What would the Death Eaters want with a poor broken-down old buffer like me. demanded Slughorn. I imagine that they would want you to turn your considerable talents to coercion, torture, and murder, said Dumbledore. Are you really telling me that they havent come recruiting yet. Slughorn eyed Dumbledore balefully for a moment, then muttered, I havent given them the chance. Ive been on the move for a year. Never stay in one place more than a week. Move from Muggle house to Muggle house - the owners of this place are on holiday in the Canary Islands - its been very pleasant, Ill be sorry to leave. Its quite easy once you know how, one simple Freezing Charm on click here absurd burglar alarms they use instead of Sneakoscopes and make sure the neighbors dont spot you bringing in the piano. Ingenious, said Dumbledore. But it sounds a rather tiring existence for a broken-down old buffer in search of a quiet life. Now, if you were to return to Hogwarts - If youre going to tell me my life would be more peaceful at that pestilential school, you can save your breath, Albus. I might have been in hiding, but some funny rumors have reached me since Dolores Umbridge left. If thats how you treat teachers these days - Professor Umbridge ran afoul of our centaur herd, said Dumbledore. I think you, Horace, would have known better than to stride into the forest and call a horde of angry centaurs filthy half-breeds. Thats what she did, did she. said Slughorn. Idiotic woman. Never liked her. Harry chuckled and both Dumbledore and Slughorn looked round at him. Sorry, Harry said hastily. Its just - I didnt like her either. Dumbledore stood up rather suddenly. Are you leaving. asked Slughorn at once, looking hopeful. No, I was wondering whether I might use your bathroom, said Dumbledore. Oh, said Slughorn, clearly disappointed. Second on the left down the hall. Dumbledore strode from the room. Once the door had closed behind him, there was silence. After a few moments, Slughorn got to his feet but seemed uncertain what to do with himself. He shot a furtive look at Harry, then crossed to the fire and turned his back on it, warming his wide behind. Dont think I dont know why hes brought you, he said abruptly. Harry merely looked at Slughorn. Slughorns watery eyes slid over Harrys scar, this time taking in the rest of his face. You look very like your father. Yeah, Ive been told, said Harry. Except for your eyes. Youve got - My mothers eyes, yeah. Harry had heard it so often he found it a bit wearing. Hmpf. Yes, well. You shouldnt have favorites as a teacher, of course, but she was one of mine. Your mother, Slughorn added, in answer to Harrys questioning look. Lily Evans. One of the brightest I ever taught. Vivacious, you know. Charming girl. I used to tell her she ought to have been in my House. Very cheeky answers I used to get back too. Which was your House. I was Head of Slytherin, said Slughorn. Oh, now, he went on quickly, seeing the expression on Harrys face and wagging a stubby finger at him, dont go holding that against me. Youll be Gryffindor like, I suppose. Yes, it usually goes in families. Not always, though. Ever heard of Sirius Black. You must have done - been in the papers for the last couple of years - died a few weeks ago - It was as though an invisible hand had twisted Harrys intestines and held them tight. Well, anyway, he was a big pal of your fathers at school. The whole Black family had been in my House, but Sirius ended up in Gryffindor. Shame - he was a talented boy. I got his brother, Regulus, when he came along, but Id have liked the set. He sounded like visit web page enthusiastic collector who had been outbid at auction. Apparently lost in memories, he gazed at the opposite wall, turning idly on the spot to ensure an even heat on his backside. Your mother was Muggle-born, of course. Couldnt believe it when I found out. Thought she must have been pure-blood, she was so good. One of my best Steamcharts new world is Muggle-born, said Harry, and shes the best in our year. Funny how that sometimes happens, isnt it. said Slughorn. Not really, said Harry coldly. Slughorn looked down at him in surprise. You mustnt think Im prejudiced. he said. No, no, no. Havent I just said your mother was one of my all-time favorite students. And there was Dirk Cresswell in the year after her too - now Head of the Goblin Liaison Office, of course - another Muggle-born, a very gifted student, and still gives me excellent inside information on the goings-on at Gringotts. He bounced up and down a little, smiling in a self-satisfied way, and pointed at the many glittering photograph frames on the dresser, each peopled with tiny moving occupants. All ex-students, all signed. Youll notice Barnabas Cuffe, editor of the Daily Prophet, hes always interested to hear my take on the days news. And Ambrosius Flume, of Honeydukes - a hamper every birthday, and all because I was able to give him an introduction to Ciceron Harkiss, who gave him his first job. And at the back - youll see her if you just crane your neck - thats Gwenog Jones, who of course captains the Holyhead Harpies. People are always astonished to hear Im on first-name terms with the Harpies, and free tickets something the forest steam removed I want them. This thought seemed to cheer him up enormously. And all these people know where to find you, to send you stuff. asked Harry, who could not help wondering why the Death Eaters had not yet tracked down Slughorn if hampers of sweets, Quidditch tickets, and visitors craving his advice and opinions could find him. The smile slid from Slughorns face as quickly as the blood from his walls. Of course not, he said, looking down at Harry. I have been out of touch with everybody for a year. Harry had the impression that the words shocked Slughorn himself; he looked quite unsettled for a moment. Then he shrugged. Still. the prudent wizard keeps his head down in such times. All very well for Dumbledore to talk, but taking up a post at Hogwarts just now would be tantamount to declaring my public allegiance to the Order of the Phoenix. And while Im sure theyre very admirable and brave and all the rest of it, I dont personally fancy the mortality rate - You dont have to join the Order to teach at Hogwarts, said Harry, who could not quite keep a note of derision out of his voice: It more info hard to sympathize with Slughorns cosseted existence when he click the following article Sirius, crouching in a cave and living on rats. Most of the teachers arent 3 empire earth it, and none of them has ever been killed - well, unless you count Quirrell, and he got what he deserved seeing as he was working with Voldemort. Harry had been sure Slughorn would be one of those wizards who could not bear to hear Voldemorts name spoken aloud, and was not disappointed: Slughorn gave a shudder and a squawk of protest, which Harry ignored. I reckon the staff are safer than most people while Dumbledores headmaster; hes supposed to be the only one Voldemort ever feared, isnt he. Harry went on. Slughorn gazed into space for a moment or two: He seemed to be thinking over Harrys words. Well, yes, it is true that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has never sought a fight with Dumbledore, he muttered grudgingly. And I suppose one could argue that as I have not joined the Death Eaters, He-Who-Must-Not-BeNamed can hardly count me a friend. in which case, I might well be safer a little closer to Albus. I cannot pretend that Amelia Boness death did not shake me. If she, with all her Ministry contacts and protection. Dumbledore reentered the room and Slughorn jumped as though he had forgotten he was in the house. Oh, there you are, Albus, he said. Youve been a very long time. Upset stomach. No, I was merely reading the Muggle magazines, said Dumbledore. I do love knitting patterns. Well, Harry, we have trespassed upon Horaces hospitality quite long enough; I think it is time for us to leave. Not at all reluctant to obey, Harry jumped to his feet. Slughorn seemed taken aback. Youre leaving. Yes, indeed. I think I know a lost cause when I see one. Lost. Slughorn seemed agitated. He twiddled his fat thumbs and fidgeted as he watched Dumbledore fasten his traveling cloak, and Harry zip up his jacket. Well, Im sorry you dont want the job, Horace, said Dumbledore, raising his uninjured hand in a farewell salute. Hogwarts would have been glad to see you back again. Our greatly increased security notwithstanding, you will always be welcome to visit, should you wish to. Yes.

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Said Ron, but Hermione told him to steamchartw quiet until shed looked something up, and started flicking frantically through the pages, muttering to herself. At last she article source what she was looking for. I knew it.