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not forgotten the fear in Malfoy's voice on that Tower top, nor

'Oh, weaker resistance, slower reflexes, Amycus,' said Dumbledore. 'Old age, in short ... one day, perhaps, it will happen to you ... if you are lucky ...'

'I still don't get why he didn't turn you in for using that book,' said Ron. 'He must've known where you were getting it ali from.'

Malfoy was showing less resolution than ever. He looked terrified as he stared into Dumbledore's face, which was even paler, and rather lower than usual, as he had slid so far down the rampart wall.

Harry didn't recognize the third owl, a handsome tawny one, but he knew at once where it had come from, because in addition to a third package, it was carrying a letter bearing the Hogwarts crest. When Harry relieved this owl of its burden, it ruffled its feathers importantly, stretched its wings, and took off through the window into the night.


Hagrid, who had been weeping silently into his large, spotted handkerchief throughout this conversation, now raised puffy red eyes and croaked, "I dunno, Professor . . . that's fer the Heads of House an the headmistress ter decide ..."

The conductor stopped abruptly. He had just caught sight of "Harry, who was still sitting on the ground. Harry snatched up his wand again and scrambled to his feet. Close up, he saw that Stan Shunpike was only a few years older than he was, eighteen or nineteen at most, with large, protruding ears and quite a few pimples.

"St. Brutus's," said Uncle Vernon promptly. "It's a first-rate institution for hopeless cases."

'It is nearly time,' she said. 'Please follow your Heads of House out into the grounds. Gryffindors, after me.'

'I'm not coming back even if it does reopen,' said Harry.


'Well, I certainly did have a drink ... and I came back ... after a fashion,' mumbled Dumbledore. 'So you decided to spring a trap for me?'

Harry sat down on his bed and grabbed Errol's package, ripped off the brown paper, and discovered a present wrapped in gold, and his first ever birthday card. Fingers trembling slightly, he opened the envelope. Two pieces of paper fell out -- a letter and a newspaper clipping.

Third years are permitted to visit the village of Hogsmeade on certain weekends. Please give the enclosed permission form to your parent or guardian to sign.

"Can I leave, Professor?" said Harry at once.

"Ron - Dumbledores dead," said Ginny.




"Anyway," Ginny went on, "he must have been checking whether the coast was clear to let the Death Eaters out, because the moment he saw us he threw something into the air and it all went pitch-black -"


Harry rose early to pack the next day; the Hogwarts Express would be leaving an hour after the funeral. Down-stairs he found the mood in the Great Hall subdued. Every-body was wearing their dress robes and no one seemed very hungry. Professor McGonagall had left the thronelike chair in the middle of the staff table empty. Hagrid's chair was des-erted too: Harry thought thai perhaps he had not been able to face breakfast; but Snape's place had been unceremoniously filled by Rufus Scrimgeour. Harry avoided his yellowish eyes as they scanned the Hall; Harry had the uncomfortable feeling that Scrimgeour was looking for him. Among Scrimgeour's entourage Harry spotted the red hair and horn-rimmed glasses of Percy Weasley. Ron gave no sign that he was aware of Percy, apart from stabbing pieces of kipper with unwonted venom.


She stared at him for a moment, then swayed alarmingly; Madam Pomfrey, who seemed to have pulled herself together, ran forward, conjuring a chair from thin air, which she pushed under McGonagall.,


But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly.;