Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Everything seemed fuzzy, slow. Harry and Hermione jumped to their feet and drew their wands. Many people were only just realizing that something strange had happened; heads were still turning toward the silver cat as it vanished. Silence spread outward in cold ripples from the place where the Patronus had landed. Then somebody screamed.
Harry and Hermione threw themselves into the panicking crowd. Guests were sprinting in all directions; many were Disapparating; the protective enchantments around the Burrow had broken.
“Ron!” Hermione cried. “Ron, where are you?”
As they pushed their way across the dance floor, Harry saw cloaked and masked figures appearing in the crowd; then he saw Lupin and Tonks, their wands raised, and heard both of them shout, “Protego!”, a cry that was echoed on all sides –
“Ron! Ron!” Hermione called, half sobbing as she and Harry were buffered by terrified guests: Harry seized her hand to make sure they weren’t separated as a streak of light whizzed over their heads, whether a protective charm or something more sinister he did not know –
And then Ron was there. He caught hold of Hermione’s free arm, and Harry felt her turn on the spot; sight and sound were extinguished as darkness pressed in upon him; all he could feel was Hermione’s hand as he was squeezed through space and time, away from the Burrow, away from the descending Death Eaters, away, perhaps, from
“Where are we?” said Ron’s voice.
Harry opened his eyes. For a moment he thought they had not left the wedding after all; They still seemed to be surrounded by people.
“Tottenham Court Road,” panted Hermione. “Walk, just walk, we need to find somewhere for you to change.”
Harry did as she asked. They half walked, half ran up the wide dark street thronged with late-night revelers and lined with closed shops, stars twinkling above them. A double-decker bus rumbled by and a group of merry pub-goers ogled them as they passed; Harry and Ron were still wearing dress robes.
“Hermione, we haven’t got anything to change into,” Ron told her, as a young woman burst into raucous giggles at the sight of him.
“Why didn’t I make sure I had the Invisibility Cloak with me?” said Harry, inwardly cursing his own stupidity. “All last year I kept it on me and – ”
“It’s okay, I’ve got the Cloak, I’ve got clothes for both of you,” said Hermione, “Just try and act naturally until – this will do.”
She led them down a side street, then into the shelter of a shadowy alleyway.
“When you say you’ve got the Cloak, and clothes…” said Harry, frowning at Hermione, who was carrying nothing except her small beaded handbag, in which she was now rummaging.
“How the ruddy hell –?”
“Undetectable Extension Charm,” said Hermione. “Tricky, but I think I’ve done it okay; anyway, I managed to fit everything we need in here.” She gave the fragile-looking bag a little shake and it echoed like a cargo hold as a number of heavy objects rolled around inside it. “Oh, damn, that’ll be the books,” she said, peering into it, “and I had them all stacked by subject…. Oh well…. Harry, you’d better take the Invisibility Cloak. Ron, hurry up and change….”
“When did you do all this?” Harry asked as Ron stripped off his robes.
“I told you at the Burrow, I’ve had the essentials packed for days, you know, in case we needed to make a quick getaway. I packed your rucksack this morning, Harry, after you changed, and put it in here…. I just had a feeling….”
“You’re amazing, you are,” said Ron, handing her his bundled-up robes.
“Thank you,” said Hermione, managing a small smile as she pushed the robes into the bag. “Please, Harry, get that Cloak on!”
Harry threw his Invisibility Cloak around his shoulders and pulled it up over his head, vanishing from sight. He was only just beginning to appreciate what had happened.
“The others – everybody at the wedding – ”
“We can’t worry about that now,” whispered Hermione. “It’s you they’re after, Harry, and we’ll just put everyone in even more danger by going back.”
“She’s right,” said Ron, who seemed to know that Harry was about to argue, even if he could not see his face. “Most of the Order was there, they’ll look after everyone.”
Harry nodded, then remembered that they could not see him, and said, “Yeah.” But he thought of Ginny, and fear bubbled like acid in his stomach.
“Come on, I think we ought to keep moving,” said Hermione.
They moved back up the side street and onto the main road again, where a group of men on the opposite side was singing and weaving across the pavement.
“Just as a matter of interest, why Tottenham Court Road?” Ron asked Hermione.
“I’ve no idea, it just popped into my head, but I’m sure we’re safer out in the Muggle world, it’s not where they’ll expect us to be.”
“True,” said Ron, looking around, “but don’t you feel a bit – exposed?”
“Where else is there?” asked Hermione, cringing as the men on the other side of the road started wolf-whistling at her. “We can hardly book rooms at the Leaky Cauldron, can we? And Grimmauld Place is out if Snape can get in there…. I suppose we could try my parents’ home, though I think there’s a chance they might check there…. Oh, I wish they’d shut up!”
“All right, darling?” the drunkest of the men on the other pavement was yelling. “Fancy a drink? Ditch ginger and come and have a pint!”
“Let’s sit down somewhere,” Hermione said hastily as Ron opened his mouth to shout back across the road. “Look, this will do, in here!”
It was a small and shabby all-night café. A light layer of grease lay on all the Formica-topped tables, but it was at least empty. Harry slipped into a booth first and Ron sat next to him opposite Hermione, who had her back to the entrance and did not like it: She glanced over her shoulder so frequently she appeared to have a twitch.
Harry did not like being stationary; walking had given the illusion that they had a goal. Beneath the Cloak he could feel the last vestiges of Polyjuice leaving him, his hands returning to their usual length and shape. He pulled his glasses out of his pocket and put them on again.
After a minute or two, Ron said, “You know, we’re not far from the Leaky Cauldron here, it’s only in Charing Cross – ”
“Ron, we can’t!” said Hermione at once.
“Not to stay there, but to find out what’s going on!”
“We know what’s going on! Voldemort’s taken over the Ministry, what else do we need to know?”
“Okay, okay, it was just an idea!”
They relapsed into a prickly silence. The gum-chewing waitress shuffled over and Hermione ordered two cappuccinos: As Harry was invisible, it would have looked odd to order him one. A pair of burly workmen entered the café and squeezed into the next booth. Hermione dropped her voice to a whisper.
“I say we find a quiet place to Disapparate and head for the countryside. Once we’re there, we could send a message to the Order.”
“Can you do that talking Patronus thing, then?” asked Ron.
“I’ve been practicing and I think so,” said Hermione.
“Well, as long as it doesn’t get them into trouble, though they might’ve been arrested already. God, that’s revolting,” Ron added after one sip of the foamy, grayish coffee. The waitress had heard; she shot Ron a nasty look as she shuffled off to take the new customers’ orders. The larger of the two workmen, who was blond and quite huge, now that Harry came to look at him, waved her away. She stared, affronted.
“Yes, I took out all my Building Society savings before I came to the Burrow. I’ll bet all the change is at the bottom,” sighed Hermione, reaching for her beaded bag.
The two workmen made identical movements, and Harry mirrored them without conscious thought: All three of them drew their wands. Ron, a few seconds late in realizing what was going on, lunged across the table, pushing Hermione sideways onto her bench. The force of the Death Eaters’ spells shattered the tiled wall where Ron’s head had just been, as Harry, still invisible, yelled, “Stupefy!”
The great blond Death Eater was hit in the face by a jet of red light: He slumped sideways, unconscious. His companion, unable to see who had cast the spell, fired another at Ron: Shining black ropes flew from his wand-tip and bound Ron head to foot – the waitress screamed and ran for the door – Harry sent another Stunning Spell it the Death Eater with the twisted face who had tied up Ron, but the spell missed, rebounded on the window, and hit the waitress, who collapsed in front of the door.
“Expulso!” bellowed the Death Eater, and the table behind which Harry was standing blew up: The force of the explosion slammed him into the wall and he felt his wand leave his hand as the Cloak slipped off him.
“Petrificus Totalus!” screamed Hermione from out of sight, and the Death Eater fell forward like a statue to land with a crunching thud on the mess of broken china, table, and coffee. Hermione crawled out from underneath the bench, shaking bits of glass ashtray out of her hair and trembling all over.
“D-diffindo,” she said, pointing her wand at Ron, who roared in pain as she slashed open the knee of his jeans, leaving a deep cut. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Ron, my hand’s shaking! Diffindo!”
The severed ropes fell away. Ron got to his feet, shaking his arms to regain feeling in them. Harry picked up his wand and climbed over all the debris to where the large blond Death Eater was sprawled across the bench.
“I should’ve recognized him, he was there the night Dumbledore died,” he said. He turned over the darker Death Eater with his foot; the man’s eyes moved rapidly between Harry, Ron and Hermione.
“That’s Dolohov,” said Ron. “I recognize him from the old wanted posters. I think the big one’s Thorfinn Rowle.”
“Never mind what they’re called!” said Hermione a little hysterically. “How did they find us? What are we going to do?”
Somehow her panic seemed to clear Harry’s head.
“Lock the door,” he told her, “and Ron, turn out the lights.”
He looked down at the paralyzed Dolohov, thinking fast as the lock clicked and Ron used the Deluminator to plunge the café into darkness. Harry could hear the men who had jeered at Hermione earlier, yelling at another girl in the distance.
“What are we going to do with them?” Ron whispered to Harry through the dark; then, even more quietly, “Kill them? They’d kill us. They had a good go just now.”
Hermione shuddered and took a step backward. Harry shook his head.
“We just need to wipe their memories,” said Harry. “It’s better like that, it’ll throw them off the scent. If we killed them it’d be obvious we were here.”
“You’re the boss,” said Ron, sounding profoundly relieved. “But I’ve never down a Memory Charm.”
“Nor have I,” said Hermione, “but I know the theory.”
She took a deep, calming breath, then pointed her wand at Dolohov’s forehead and said, “Obliviate.”
At once, Dolohov’s eyes became unfocused and dreamy.
“Brilliant!” said Harry, clapping her on the back. “Take care of the other one and the waitress while Ron and I clear up.”
“Clear up?” said Ron, looking around at the partly destroyed café. “Why?”
“Don’t you think they might wonder what’s happened if they wake up and find themselves in a place that looks like it’s just been bombed?”
“Oh right, yeah…”
Ron struggled for a moment before managing to extract his wand from his pocket.
“It’s no wonder I can’t get it out, Hermione, you packed my old jeans, they’re tight.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” hissed Hermione, and as she dragged the waitress out of sight of the windows, Harry heard her mutter a suggestion as to where Ron could stick his wand instead.
Once the café was restored to its previous condition, they heaved the Death Eaters back into their booth and propped them up facing each other. “But how did they find us?” Hermione asked, looking from one inert man to the other. “How did they know where we were?”
She turned to Harry.
“You – you don’t think you’ve still got your Trace on you, do you, Harry?”
“He can’t have,” said Ron. “The Trace breaks at seventeen, that’s Wizarding law, you can’t put it on an adult.”
“As far as you know,” said Hermione. “What if the Death Eaters have found a way to put it on a seventeen-year-old?”
“But Harry hasn’t been near a Death Eater in the last twenty-four hours. Who’s supposed to have put a Trace back on him?”
Hermione did not reply. Harry felt contaminated, tainted: Was that really how the Death Eaters had found them?
“If I can’t use magic, and you can’t use magic near me, without us giving away our position – ” he began.
“We’re not splitting up!” said Hermione firmly.
“We need a safe place to hide,” said Ron. “Give us time to think things through.”
The other two gaped.
“Don’t be silly, Harry, Snape can get in there!”
“Ron’s dad said they’ve put up jinxes against him – and even if they haven’t worked,” he pressed on as Hermione began to argue “so what? I swear, I’d like nothing better than to meet Snape!”
“But – ”
“Hermione, where else is there? It’s the best chance we’ve got. Snape’s only one Death Eater. If I’ve still got the Trace on me, we’ll have whole crowds of them on us wherever else we go.”
She could not argue, though she looked as if she would have liked to. While she unlocked the café door, Ron clicked the Deluminator to release the café’s light. Then, on Harry’s count of three, they reversed the spells upon their three victims, and before the waitress or either of the Death Eaters could do more than stir sleepily, Harry, Ron and Hermione had turned on the spot and vanished into the compressing darkness once more.
Seconds later Harry’s lungs expanded gratefully and he opened his eyes: They were now standing in the middle of a familiar small and shabby square. Tall, dilapidated houses looked down on them from every side. Number twelve was visible to them, for they had been told of its existence by Dumbledore, its Secret-Keeper, and they rushed toward it, checking every few yards that they were not being followed or observed. They raced up the stone steps, and Harry tapped the front door once with his wand.
They heard a series of metallic clicks and the clatter of a chain, then the door swung open with a creak and they hurried over the threshold.
As Harry closed the door behind them, the old-fashioned gas lamps sprang into life, casting flickering light along the length of the hallway. It looked just as Harry remembered it: eerie, cobwebbed, the outlines of the house-elf heads on the wall throwing odd shadows up the staircase. Long dark curtains concealed the portrait of Sirius’s mother. The only thing that was out of place was the troll’s leg umbrella stand, which was lying on its side as if Tonks had just knocked it over again.
“I think somebody’s been in here,” Hermione whispered, pointing toward it.
“That could’ve happened as the Order left,” Ron murmured back.
“So where are these jinxes they put up against Snape?” Harry asked.
“Maybe they’re only activated if he shows up?” suggested Ron.
Yet they remained close together on the doormat, backs against the door, scared to move farther into the house.
“Well, we can’t stay here forever,” said Harry, and he took a step forward.
Mad-Eye Moody’s voice whispered out of the darkness, making all three of them jump back in fright. “We’re not Snape!” croaked Harry, before something whooshed over him like cold air and his tongue curled backward on itself, making it impossible to speak. Before he had time to feel inside his mouth, however, his tongue had unraveled again.
The other two seemed to have experienced the same unpleasant sensation. Ron was making retching noises; Hermione stammered, “That m-must have b-been the T-Tongue-Tying Curse Mad-Eye set up for Snape!”
Gingerly Harry took another step forward. Something shifted in the shadows at the end of the hall, and before any of them could say another word, a figure had risen up out of the carpet, tall, dust-colored, and terrible; Hermione screamed and so did Mrs. Black, her curtains flying open; the gray figure was gliding toward them, faster and faster, its waist-length hair and beard streaming behind it, its face sunken, fleshless, with empty eye sockets: Horribly familiar, dreadfully altered, it raised a wasted arm, pointing at Harry.
“No!” Harry shouted, and though he had raised his wand no spell occurred to him. “No! It wasn’t us! We didn’t kill you – ”
On the word kill, the figure exploded in a great cloud of dust: Coughing, his eyes watering, Harry looked around to see Hermione crouched on the floor by the door with her arms over her head, and Ron, who was shaking from head to foot, patting her clumsily on the shoulder and saying, “It’s all r-right…. It’s g-gone….”
Dust swirled around Harry like mist, catching the blue gaslight, as Mrs. Black continued to scream.
“Mudbloods, filth, stains of dishonor, taint of shame on the house of my fathers – ”
“SHUT UP!” Harry bellowed, directing his wand at her, and with a bang and a burst of red sparks, the curtains swung shut again, silencing her.
“That… that was…” Hermione whimpered, as Ron helped her to her feet.
“Yeah,” said Harry, “but it wasn’t really him, was it? Just something to scare Snape.”
Had it worked, Harry wondered, or had Snape already blasted the horror-figure aside as casually as he had killed the real Dumbledore? Nerves still tingling, he led the other two up the hall, half-expecting some new terror to reveal itself, but nothing moved except for a mouse skittering along the skirting board.
“Before we go any farther, I think we’d better check,” whispered Hermione, and she raised her wand and said, “Homenum revelio.”
“Well, you’ve just had a big shock,” said Ron kindly. “What was that supposed to do?”
“It did what I meant it to do!” said Hermione rather crossly. “That was a spell to reveal human presence, and there’s nobody here except us!”
“Don’t take it personally, she’s rude to everyone,” said Ron.
“Talking about Muriel?” inquired George, reemerging from the marquee with Fred. “Yeah, she’s just told me my ears are lopsided. Old bat. I wish old Uncle Bilius was still with us, though; he was a right laugh at weddings.”
“Wasn’t he the one who saw a Grim and died twenty-four hours later?” asked Hermione.
“Well, yeah, he went a bit odd toward the end,” conceded George.
“But before he went loopy he was the life and soul of the party,” said Fred. “He used to down an entire bottle of firewhisky, then run onto the dance floor, hoist up his robes, and start pulling bunches of flowers out of his – ”
“Yes, he sounds a real charmer,” said Hermione, while Harry roared with laughter.
“Never married, for some reason,” said Ron.
“You amaze me,” said Hermione.
They were all laughing so much that none of them noticed the latecomer, a dark-haired young man with a large, curved nose and thick black eyebrows, until he held out his invitation to Ron and said, with his eyes on Hermione, “You look vunderful.”
“Viktor!” she shrieked, and dropped her small beaded bag, which made a loud thump quite disproportionate to its size. As she scrambled, blushing, to pick it up, she said “I didn’t know you were – goodness – it’s lovely to see – how are you?”
Ron’s ears had turned bright red again. After glancing at Krum’s invitation as if he did not believe a word of it, he said, much too loudly, “how come you’re here?”
“Fleur invited me,” said Krum, eyebrows raised.
Harry, who had no grudge against Krum, shook hands; then feeling that it would be prudent to remove Krum from Ron’s vicinity, offered to show him his seat.
“Your friend is not pleased to see me,” said Krum, as they entered the now packed marquee. “Or is he a relative?” he added with a glance at Harry’s red curly hair.
“Cousin.” Harry muttered, but Krum was not really listening. His appearance was causing a stir, particularly amongst the veela cousins: He was, after all, a famous Quidditch player. While people were still craning their necks to get a good look at him, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George came hurrying down the aisle.
“Time to sit down,” Fred told Harry, “or we’re going to get run over by the bride.”
Harry, Ron and Hermione took their seats in the second row behind Fred and George. Hermione looked rather pink and Ron’s ears were still scarlet. After a few moments he muttered to Harry, “Did you see he’s grown a stupid little beard?”
Harry gave a noncommittal grunt.
A sense of jittery anticipation had filled the warm tent, the general murmuring broken by occasional spurts of excited laughter. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley strolled up the aisle, smiling and waving at relatives; Mrs. Weasley was wearing a brand-new set of amethyst colored robes with a matching hat.
A moment later Bill and Charlie stood up at the front of the marquee, both wearing dress robes, with larger white roses in their buttonholes; Fred wolf-whistled and there was an outbreak of giggling from the veela cousins. Then the crowd fell silent as music swelled from what seemed to be the golden balloons.
“Ooooh!” said Hermione, swiveling around in her seat to look at the entrance.
A great collective sigh issued from the assembled witches and wizards as Monsieur Delacour and Fleur came walking up the aisle, Fleur gliding, Monsieur Delacour bouncing and beaming. Fleur was wearing a very simple white dress and seemed to be emitting a strong, silvery glow. While her radiance usually dimmed everyone else by comparison, today it beautified everybody it fell upon. Ginny and Gabrielle, both wearing golden dresses, looked even prettier than usual and once Fleur had reached for him, Bill did not look as though he had ever met Fenrit Greyback.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a slightly singsong voice, and with a slight shock, Harry saw the same small, tufty-hired wizard who had presided at Dumbledore’s funeral, now standing in front of Bill and Fleur. “We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two faithful souls…”
“Yes, my tiara set off the whole thing nicely,” said Auntie Muriel in a rather carrying whisper. “But I must say, Ginevra’s dress is far too low cut.”
Ginny glanced around, grinning, winked at Harry, then quickly faced the front again. Harry’s mind wandered a long way from the marquee, back to the afternoons spent alone with Ginny in lonely parts of the school grounds. They seemed so long ago; they had always seemed too good to be true, as though he had been stealing shining hours from a normal person’s life, a person without a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead….
“Do you, William Arthur, take Fleur Isabelle…?”
In the front row, Mrs. Weasley and Madame Delacour were both sobbing quietly into scraps of lace. Trumpetlike sounds from the back of the marquee told everyone that Hagrid had taken out one of his own tablecloth-sized handkerchiefs. Hermione turned around and beamed at Harry; her eyes too were full of tears.
“…then I declare you bonded for life.”
The tufty-haired wizard waved his hand high over the heads of Bill and Fleur and a shower of silver stars fell upon them, spiraling around their now entwined figures.
As Fred and George led a round of applause, the golden balloons overhead burst. Birds of paradise and tiny golden bells flew and floated out of them, adding their songs and chimes to the din.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” called the tufty-haired wizard. “If you would please stand up!”
They all did so, Auntie Muriel grumbling audibly; he waved his wand again. The scars on which they had been sitting rose gracefully into the air as the canvas walls of the marquee vanished, so that they stood beneath a canopy supported by golden poles, with a glorious view of the sunlit orchard and surrounding countryside. Next, a pool of molten gold spread from the center of the tent to form a gleaming dance floor; the hovering chairs grouped themselves around small, white-clothed tables, which all floated gracefully back to earth round it, and the golden-jacketed hand trooped toward a podium.
“Smooth,” said Ron approvingly as the waiters popped up on all sides, some hearing silver trays of pumpkin juice, butterbeer, and firewhisky, others tottering piles of tarts and sandwiches.
“We should go and congratulate them!” said Hermione, standing on tiptoe to see the place where Bill and Fleur had vanished amid a crowd of well-wishers.
“We’ll have time later,” shrugged Ron, snatching three butterbeers from a passing tray and handing one to Harry. “Hermione, cop hold, let’s grab a table…. Not there! Nowhere near Muriel – ”
Ron led the way across the empty dance floor, glancing left and right as he went; Harry felt sure that he was keeping an eye out for Krum. By the time they had reached the other side of the marquee, most of the tables were occupied: The emptiest was the one where Luna sat alone.
“All right if we join you?” asked Ron.
“Oh yes,” she said happily. “Daddy’s just gone to give Bill and Fleur our present.”
“What is it, a lifetime’s supply of Gurdyroots?” asked Ron.
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Monday, November 29, 2010
“My dear boy ... even Dumbledore cannot return from the—”
“I am not saying he can. You wouldn't understand. But I've got nothing to tell you.”
Scrimgeour hesitated, then said, in what was evidently supposed to be a tone of delicacy, “The Ministry can offer you all sorts of protection, you know, Harry. I would
be delighted to place a couple of my Aurors at your service—”
“Voldemort wants to kill me himself and Aurors won't stop him. So thanks for the offer, but no thanks.”
“So,” said Scrimgeour, his voice cold now, “the request I made of you at Christmas—”
“What request? Oh yeah ... the one where I tell the world what a great job you're doing in exchange for —”
“—for raising everyone's morale!” snapped Scrimgeour.
Harry considered him for a moment.
“Released Stan Shunpike yet?”
Scrimgeour turned a nasty purple colour highly reminiscent of Uncle Vernon.
“I see you are—”
“Dumbledore's man through and through,” said Harry. “That's right.”
Scrimgeour glared at him for another moment, then turned and limped away without another word. Harry could see Percy and the rest of the Ministry delegation waiting for
him, casting nervous glances at the sobbing Hagrid and Grawp, who were still in their seats. Ron and Hermione were hurrying towards Harry, passing Scrimgeour going in
the opposite direction; Harry turned and walked slowly on, waiting for them to catch up, which they finally did in the shade of a beech tree under which they had sat in
“What did Scrimgeour want?” Hermione whispered.
She looked away from him, over the lake.
“I never really gave up on you,” she said. “Not really. I always hoped ... Hermione told me to get on with life, maybe go out with some other people, relax a bit
around you, because I never used to be able to talk if you were in the room, remember? And she thought you might take a bit more notice if I was a bit more—myself”
“Smart girl, that Hermione,” said Harry, trying to smile. “I just wish I'd asked you sooner. We could've had ages ... months ... years maybe ...”
“But you've been too busy saving the wizarding world,” said Ginny, half-laughing. “Well ... I can't say I'm surprised. I knew this would happen in the end. I knew
you wouldn't be happy unless you were hunting Voldemort. Maybe that's why I like you so much.”
Harry could not bear to hear these things, nor did he think his resolution would hold if he remained sitting beside her. Ron, he saw, was now holding Hermione and
stroking her hair while she sobbed into his shoulder, tears dripping from the end of his own long nose. With a miserable gesture, Harry got up, turned his back on Ginny
and on Dumbledore's tomb and walked away around the lake. Moving felt much more bearable than sitting still: just as setting out as soon as possible to track down the
Horcruxes and kill Voldemort would feel better than waiting to do it ...
He turned. Rufus Scrimgeour was limping rapidly towards him around the bank, leaning on his walking stick.
“I've been hoping to have a word ... do you mind if I walk a little way with you?”
“No,” said Harry indifferently, and set off again.
“Harry, this was a dreadful tragedy,” said Scrimgeour quietly, “I cannot tell you how appalled I was to hear of it. Dumbledore was a very great wizard. We had our
disagreements, as you know, but no one knows better than I—”
“What do you want?” asked Harry flatly.
Scrimgeour looked annoyed but, as before, hastily modified his expression to one of sorrowful understanding.
“You are, of course, devastated,” he said. “I know that you were very close to Dumbledore. I think you may have been his favourite ever pupil. The bond between the
two of you—”
“What do you want?” Harry repeated, coming to a halt.
Scrimgeour stopped too, leaned on his stick and stared at Harry, his expression shrewd now.
“The word is that you were with him when he left the school the night that he died.”
“Whose word?” said Harry.
“Somebody Stupefied a Death Eater on top of the Tower after Dumbledore died. There were also two broomsticks up there. The Ministry can add two and two, Harry.”
“Glad to hear it,” said Harry. “Well, where I went with Dumbledore and what we did is my business. He didn't want people to know.”
“Such loyalty is admirable, of course,” said Scrimgeour, who seemed to be restraining his irritation with difficulty,” but Dumbledore is gone, Harry. He's gone.”
comforting whisper in the dark that he was safe really, that it was all in his imagination; the last and greatest of his protectors had died and he was more alone than
he had ever been before.
The little man in black had stopped speaking at last and resumed his seat. Harry waited for somebody else to get to their feet; he expected speeches, probably from the
Minister, but nobody moved.
Then several people screamed. Bright, white flames had erupted around Dumbledore's body and the table upon which it lay: higher and higher they rose, obscuring the
body. White smoke spiralled into the air and made strange shapes: Harry thought, for one heart-stopping moment, that he saw a phoenix fly joyfully into the blue, but
next second the fire had vanished. In its place was a white marble tomb, encasing Dumbledore's body and the table on which he had rested.
There were a few more cries of shock as a shower of arrows soared through the air, but they fell far short of the crowd. It was, Harry knew, the centaurs’ tribute: he
saw them turn tail and disappear back into the cool trees. Likewise the merpeople sank slowly back into the green water and were lost from view.
Harry looked at Ginny, Ron and Hermione: Ron's face was screwed up as though the sunlight was blinding him. Hermione's face was glazed with tears, but Ginny was no
longer crying. She met Harry's gaze with the same hard, blazing look that he had seen when she had hugged him after winning the Quidditch Cup in his absence, and he
knew that at that moment they understood each other perfectly, and that when he told her what he was going to do now, she would not say ‘Be careful', or ‘Don't do
it', but accept his decision, because she would not have expected anything less of him. And so he steeled himself to say what he had known he must say ever since
Dumbledore had died.
“Ginny, listen ...” he said very quietly, as the buzz of conversation grew louder around them and people began to get to their feet. “I can't be involved with you
any more. We've got to stop seeing each other. We can't be together.”
She said, with an oddly twisted smile, “It's for some stupid, noble reason, isn't it?”
“It's been like ... like something out of someone else's life, these last few weeks with you,” said Harry. “But I can't ... we can't ... I've got things to do alone
She did not cry, she simply looked at him.
“Voldemort uses people his enemies are close to. He's already used you as bait once, and that was just because you're my best friend's sister. Think how much danger
you'll be in if we keep this up. He'll know, he'll find out. He'll try and get to me through you.”
“What if I don't care?” said Ginny fiercely.
And he saw them in the clear green sunlit water, inches below the surface, reminding him horribly of the Inferi; a chorus of merpeople singing in a strange language he
did not understand, their pallid faces rippling, their purplish hair flowing all around them. The music made the hair on Harry's neck stand up and yet it was not
unpleasant. It spoke very clearly of loss and of despair. As he looked down into the wild faces of the singers he had the feeling that they, at least, were sorry for
Dumbledore's passing. Then Ginny nudged him again and he looked round.
Hagrid was walking slowly up the aisle between the chairs. He was crying quite silently, his face gleaming with tears, and in his arms, wrapped in purple velvet
spangled with golden stars, was what Harry knew to be Dumbledore's body. A sharp pain rose in Harry's throat at this sight: for a moment, the strange music and the
knowledge that Dumbledore's body was so close seemed to take all warmth from the day. Ron looked white and shocked. Tears were falling thick and fast into both Ginny
and Hermione's laps.
They could not see clearly what was happening at the front. Hagrid seemed to have placed the body carefully upon the table. Now he retreated down the aisle, blowing his
nose with loud trumpeting noises that drew scandalised looks from some, including, Harry saw, Dolores Umbridge ... but Harry knew that Dumbledore would not have cared.
He tried to make a friendly gesture to Hagrid as he passed, but Hagrid's eyes were so swollen it was a wonder he could see where he was going. Harry glanced at the back
row to which Hagrid was heading and realised what was guiding him, for there, dressed in a jacket and trousers each the size of a small marquee, was the giant Grawp,
his great ugly boulder-like head bowed, docile, almost human. Hagrid sat down next to his half-brother and Grawp patted Hagrid hard on the head, so that his chair legs
sank into the ground. Harry had a wonderful momentary urge to laugh. But then the music stopped and he turned to face the front again.
A little tufty-haired man in plain black robes had got to his feet and stood now in front of Dumbledore's body. Harry could not hear what he was saying. Odd words
floated back to them over the hundreds of beads. “Nobility of spirit” ... “intellectual contribution” ... “greatness of heart” ... it did not mean very much. It
had little to do with Dumbledore as Harry had known him. He suddenly remembered Dumbledore's idea of a few words: “nitwit", “oddment", “blubber” and “tweak", and
again, had to suppress a grin ... what was the matter with him?
There was a soft splashing noise to his left and he saw that the merpeople had broken the surface to listen, too. He remembered Dumbledore crouching at the water's edge
two years ago, very close to where Harry now sat, and conversing in Mermish with the Merchieftainess. Harry wondered where Dumbledore had learned Mermish. There was so
much he had never asked him, so much he should have said ...
And then, without warning, it swept over him, the dreadful truth, more completely and undeniably than it had until now. Dumbledore was dead, gone ... he clutched the
cold locket in his hand so tightly that it hurt, but he could not prevent hot tears spilling from his eyes: he looked away from Ginny and the others and stared out over
the lake, towards the Forest, as the little man in black droned on ... there was movement among the trees. The centaurs had come to pay their respects, too. They did
not move into the open but Harry saw them standing quite still, half-hidden in shadow, watching the wizards, their bows hanging at their sides. And Harry remembered his
first nightmarish trip into the Forest, the first time he had ever encountered the thing that was then Voldemort, and how he had faced him, and how he and Dumbledore
had discussed fighting a losing battle not long thereafter. It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be
kept at bay, though never quite eradicated ...
And Harry saw very clearly as be sat there under the hot sun how people who cared about him had stood in front of him one by one, his mother, his father, his godfather,
and finally Dumbledore, all determined to protect him; but now that was over. He could not let anybody else stand between him and Voldemort; he must abandon for ever
Thursday, November 25, 2010
“I think ... Harry, I think I love her,” said Ron in a strangled voice.
“Okay,” said Harry, walking up to Ron to get a better look at the glazed eyes and the pallid complexion, “okay ... say that again with a straight face.”
“I love her,” repeated Ron breathlessly. “Have you seen her hair, it's all black and shiny and silky ... and her eyes? Her big dark eyes? And her—”
“This is really funny and everything,” said Harry impatiently, “but joke's over, all right? Drop it.”
He turned to leave; he had got two steps towards the door when a crashing blow hit him on the right ear. Staggering, he looked round. Ron's fist was drawn right back,
his face was contorted with rage; he was about to strike again.
Harry reacted instinctively; his wand was out of his pocket and the incantation sprang to mind without conscious thought: Levicorpus!
Ron yelled as his heel was wrenched upwards once more; he dangled helplessly, upside-down, his robes hanging off him.
“What was that for?” Harry bellowed.
“You insulted her, Harry! You said it was a joke!” shouted Ron, who was slowly turning purple in the face as all the blood rushed to his head.
“This is insane!” said Harry. “What's got into—?”
And then he saw the box lying open on Ron's bed and the truth hit him with the force of a stampeding troll.
“Where did you get those Chocolate Cauldrons?”
“They were a birthday present!” shouted Ron, revolving slowly in midair as he struggled to get free. “I offered you one, didn't I?”
“You just picked them up off the floor, didn't you?”
“They'd fallen off my bed, all right? Let me go!”
“They didn't fall off your bed, you prat, don't you understand? They were mine, I chucked them out of my trunk when I was looking for the map. They're the Chocolate
Cauldrons Romilda gave me before Christmas and they're all spiked with love potion!”
But only one word of this seemed to have registered with Ron.
“Romilda?” he repeated. “Did you say Romilda? Harry—do you know her? Can you introduce me?”
Harry stared at the dangling Ron, whose face now looked tremendously hopeful, and fought a strong desire to laugh. A part of him—the part closest to his throbbing
right ear—was quite keen on the idea of letting Ron down and watching him run amok until the effects of the potion wore off ... but on the other hand, they were
supposed to be friends, Ron had not been himself when he had attacked, and Harry thought that he would deserve another punching if he permitted Ron to declare undying
love for Romilda Vane.
“Yeah, I'll introduce you,” said Harry, thinking fast. “I'm going to let you down now, okay?”
He sent Ron crashing back to the floor (his ear did hurt quite a lot), but Ron simply bounded to his feet again, grinning.
“Cheers,” said Ron drowsily, and as he ripped off the paper Harry got out of bed, opened his own trunk and began rummaging in it for the Marauder's Map, which he hid
after every use. He turfed out half the contents of his trunk before he found it hiding beneath the rolled-up socks in which he was still keeping his bottle of lucky
potion, Felix Felicis.
“Right,” he murmured, taking it back to bed with him, tapping it quietly and murmuring, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” so that Neville, who was passing
the foot of his bed at the time, would not hear.
“Nice one, Harry!” said Ron enthusiastically, waving the new pair of Quidditch Keeper's gloves Harry had given him.
“No problem,” said Harry absent-mindedly, as he searched the Slytherin dormitory closely for Malfoy. “Hey ... I don't think he's in his bed ...”
Ron did not answer; he was too busy unwrapping presents, every now and then letting out an exclamation of pleasure.
“Seriously good haul this year!” he announced, holding up a heavy gold watch with odd symbols around the edge and tiny moving stars instead of hands. “See what Mum
and Dad got me? Blimey, I think I'll come of age next year too ...”
“Cool,” muttered Harry, sparing the watch a glance before peering more closely at the map. Where was Malfoy? He did not seem to be at the Slytherin table in the Great
Hall, eating breakfast ... he was nowhere near Snape, who was sitting in his study ... he wasn't in any of the bathrooms or in the hospital wing ...
“Want one?” said Ron thickly, holding out a box of Chocolate Cauldrons.
“No thanks,” said Harry, looking up. “Malfoy's gone again!”
“Can't have done,” said Ron, stuffing a second Cauldron into his mouth as he slid out of bed to get dressed. “Come on. If you don't hurry up you'll have to Apparate
on an empty-stomach ... might make it easier, I suppose ...”
Ron looked thoughtfully at the box of Chocolate Cauldrons, then shrugged and helped himself to a third.
Harry tapped the map with his wand, muttered, “Mischief managed,” though it hadn't been, and got dressed, thinking hard. There had to be an explanation for Malfoy's
periodic disappearances, but he simply could not think what it could be. The best way of finding out would be to tail him, but even with the Invisibility Cloak this was
an impractical idea; he had lessons, Quidditch practice, homework and Apparition; he could not follow Malfoy around school all day wilhout his absence being remarked
“Ready?” he said to Ron.
He was halfway to the dormitory door when he realised that Ron had not moved, but was leaning on his bedpost, staring out of the rain-washed window with a strangely
unfocused look on his face.
“I'm not hungry.”
Harry stared at him.
“I thought you just said—?”
“—Well, all right, I'll come down with you,” sighed Ron, “but I don't want to eat.”
Harry scrutinised him suspiciously.
“You've just eaten half a box of Chocolate Cauldrons, haven't you?”
“It's not that,” Ron sighed again. “You ... you wouldn't understand.”
“Fair enough,” said Harry, albeit puzzled, as he turned to open the door.
“Harry!” said Ron suddenly.
“Harry, I can't stand it!”
“You can't stand what?” asked Harry, now starling to feel definitely alarmed. Ron was rather pale and looked as though he was about to be sick.
“I can't stop thinking about her!” said Ron hoarsely.
Harry gaped at him. He had not expected this and was not sure he wanted to hear it. Friends they might be, but if Ron started calling Lavender ‘Lav-Lav', he would have
to pui his foot down.
“Why does that stop you having breakfast?” Harry asked, trying to inject a note of common sense into the proceedings.
“I don't think she knows I exist,” said Ron with a desperate gesture.
“She definitely knows you exist,” said Harry, bewildered. “She keeps snogging you, doesn't she?”
“Who are you talking about?”
“Who are you talking about?” said Harry, with an increasing sense that all reason had dropped out of the conversation.
“Romilda Vane,” said Ron softly, and his whole face seemed to illuminate as he said it, as though hit by a ray of purest sunlight.
with the old Invisibility Cloak and off to find out what he's—”
He broke off as Neville entered the dormitory, bringing with him a strong smell of singed material, and began rummaging in his trunk for a fresh pair of pants.
Despite his determination to 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. Admittedly, 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 different ways when they were usually inseparable,
these things happened as people got older—Ron and Hermione, Harry reflected sadly, were living proof.
February moved towards March with no change in the weather except that it became windy as well as wet. To general indignation, a sign went up on all common-room
noticeboards that the next trip into Hogsmeade had been cancelled. Ron was furious.
“It was on my birthday!” he said, “I was looking forward to that!”
“Not a big surprise, though, is it?” said Harry. “Not after what happened to Katie.”
She had still not returned from St. Mungo's. What was more, further disappearances had been reported in the Daily Prophet, including several relatives of students at
“But now all I've got to look forward to is stupid Apparition!” said Ron grumpily. “Big birthday treat ...”
Three lessons on, Apparition was proving as difficult as ever, though a few more people had managed to Splinch themselves. Frustration was running high and there was a
certain amount of ill-feeling towards Wilkie Twycross and his three Ds, which had inspired a number of nicknames for him, the politest of which were Dog-breath and
“Happy birthday, Ron,” said Harry, when they were woken on the first of March by Seamus and Dean leaving noisily for breakfast. “Have a present.”
the three Ds,’ he said, “and try again ... one—two—three—”
But an hour later, Susan's Splinching was still the most interesting thing that had happened. Twycross did not seem discouraged. Fastening his cloak at his neck, he
merely said, “Until next Saturday, everybody, and do not forget: Destination. Determination. Deliberation.”
With that, he waved his wand, Vanishing the hoops, and walked out of the Hall accompanied by Professor McGonagall. Talk broke out at once as people began moving towards
the Entrance Hall.
“How did you do?” asked Ron, hurrying towards Harry. “I think I felt something the last time I tried—a kind of tingling in my feet.”
“I expect your trainers are too small, Won-Won,” said a voice behind them, and Hermione stalked past, smirking.
“I didn't feel anything,” said Harry, ignoring this interruption. “But I don't care about that now—”
“What d'you mean, you don't care ... don't you want to learn to Apparate?” said Ron incredulously.
“I'm not fussed, really. I prefer flying,” said Harry, glancing over his shoulder to see where Malfoy was, and speeding up as they came into the Entrance Hall.
“Look, hurry up, will you, there's something I want to do ...”
Perplexed, Ron followed Harry back to Gryffindor Tower at a run. They were temporarily detained by Peeves, who had jammed a door on the fourth floor shut and was
refusing to let anyone pass until they set fire to their own pants, but Harry and Ron simply turned back and took one of their trusted short cuts. Within five minutes,
they were climbing through the portrait hole.
“Are you going to tell me what we're doing, then?” asked Ron, panting slightly.
“Up here,” said Harry, and he crossed the common room and led the way through the door to the boys’ staircase.
Their dormitory was, as Harry had hoped, empty. He flung open his trunk and began to rummage in it, while Ron watched impatiently.
“Malfoy's using Crabbe and Goyle as lookouts. He was arguing with Crabbe just now. I want to know ... aha.”
He had found it, a folded square of apparently blank parchment, which he now smoothed out and tapped with the tip of his wand.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good ... or Malfoy is, anyway.”
At once, the Marauder's Map appeared on the parchment's surface. Here was a detailed plan of every one of the castle's floors and, moving around it, the tiny, labelled
black dots that signified each of the castle's occupants.
“Help me find Malfoy,” said Harry urgently.
He laid the map upon his bed and he and Ron leaned over it, searching.
“There!” said Ron, after a minute or so. “He's in the Slytherin common room, look ... with Parkinson and Zabini and Crabbe and Goyle ...”
Harry looked down at the map, disappointed, but rallied almost at once.
“The important things to remember when Apparating are the three Ds!” said Twycross. “Destination, Determination, Deliberation!
“Step one: fix your mind firmly upon the desired destination,” said Twycross. “In this case, the interior of your hoop. Kindly concentrate upon that destination now.
Everybody looked around furtively, to check that everyone else was staring into their hoop, then hastily did as they were told. Harry gazed at the circular patch of
dusty floor enclosed by his hoop and tried hard to think of nothing else. This proved impossible, as he couldn't stop puzzling over what Malfoy was doing that needed
“Step two,” said Twycross, “focus your determination to occupy the visualised space! Let your yearning to enter it flood from your mind to every particle of your
Harry glanced around surreptitiously. A little way to his left, Ernie Macmillan was contemplating his hoop so hard that his face had turned pink; it looked as though he
was straining to lay a Quaffle-sized egg. Harry bit back a laugh and hastily returned his gaze to his own hoop.
“Step three,” called Twycross, “and only when I give the command ... turn on the spot, feeling your way into nothingness, moving with deliberation. On my command,
now ... one—”
Harry glanced around again; lots of people were looking positively alarmed at being asked to Apparate so quickly.
Harry tried to fix his thoughts on his hoop again; he had already forgotten what the three Ds stood for.
Harry spun on the spot, lost his balance and nearly fell over. He was not the only one. The whole Hall was suddenly full of staggering people; Neville was flat on his
back; Ernie Macmillan, on the other hand, had done a kind of pirouetting leap into his hoop and looked momentarily thrilled, until he caught sight of Dean Thomas
roaring with laughter at him.
“Never mind, never mind,” said Twycross dryly, who did not seem to have expected anything better. “Adjust your hoops, please, and back to your original positions ...
The second attempt was no better than the first. The third was just as bad. Not until the fourth did anything exciting happen. There was a horrible screech of pain and
everybody looked around, terrified, to see Susan Bones of Hufflepuff wobbling in her hoop with her left leg still standing five feet away where she had started.
The Heads of House converged on her; there was a great bang and a puff of purple smoke, which cleared to reveal Susan sobbing, reunited with her leg but looking
“Splinching, or the separation of random body parts,” said Wilkie Twycross dispassionately, “occurs when the mind is insufficiently determined. You must concentrate
continually upon your destination, and move, without haste, but with deliberation ... thus.”
“As you may know, it is usually impossible to Apparate or Disapparate within Hogwarts. The Headmaster has lifted this enchantment, purely within the Great Hall, for
one hour, so as to enable you to practise. May I emphasise that you will not be able to Apparate outside the walls of this Hall, and that you would be unwise to try.
“I would like each of you to place yourselves now so that you have a clear five feet of space in front of you.”
There was a great scrambling and jostling as people separated, banged into each other, and ordered others out of their space. The Heads of House moved among the
students, marshalling them into position and breaking up arguments.
“Harry, where are you going?” demanded Hermione.
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.
“I don't know how much longer, all right?” Malfoy shot at him, oblivious to Harry standing right behind him. “It's taking longer than I thought it would.”
Crabbe opened his mouth, but Malfoy appeared to second-guess what he was going to say.
“Look, it's none of your business what I'm doing, Crabbe, you and Goyle just do as you're told and keep a lookout!”
“! tell my friends what I'm up to, if I want them to keep a lookout for me,” Harry said, just loud enough for Malfoy to hear him.
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.
“Thank you,” said Twycross. “Now then...”
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
belly casting the table into shadow, “is a former colleague of mine who has agreed to resume his old post of Potions master.”
The word echoed all over the Hall as people wondered whether they had heard right.
“Potions?” said Ron and Hermione together, turning to stare Harry. “But you said —”
“Professor Snape, meanwhile,” said Dumbledore, raising voice so that it carried over all the muttering, “will be taking the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts
“No!” said Harry, so loudly that many heads turned in his direction. He did not care; he was staring up at the staff table, incensed. How could Snape be given the
Defense Against the Dark Arts job after all this time? Hadn't it been widely known for years that Dumbledore did not trust him to do it?
“But Harry, you said that Slughorn was going to be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts!” said Hermione.
“I thought he was!” said Harry, racking his brains to remember when Dumbledore had told him this, but now that he came to think of it, he was unable to recall
Dumbledore ever telling him what Slughorn would be teaching.
Snape, who was sitting on Dumbledore's right, did not stand up his mention of his name; he merely raised a hand in lazy acknowledgment of the applause from the
Slytherin table, yet Harry was sure he could detect a look of triumph on the features he loathed so much.
“Well, there's one good thing,” he said savagely. “Snape'll be gone by the end of the year.”
“What do you mean?” asked Ron.
“That job's jinxed. No ones lasted more than a year... Quirrell actually died doing it... Personally, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for another death... ”
“Harry!” said Hermione, shocked and reproachful.
“He might just go back to teaching Potions at the end of the year,” said Ron reasonably. “That Slughorn bloke might not want to stay long-term. Moody didn't.”
Dumbledore cleared his throat. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were not the only ones who had been talking; the whole Hall had erupted in a buzz of conversation at the news
that Snape had finally achieved his heart's desire. Seemingly oblivious to the sensational nature of the news he had just imparted, Dumbledore said nothing more about
staff appointments, but waited a few seconds to ensure that the silence was absolute before continuing.
“Now, as everybody in this Hall knows, Lord Voldemort and his followers are once more at large and gaining in strength.”
The silence seemed to tauten and strain as Dumbledore spoke. Harry glanced at Malfoy. Malfoy was not looking at Dumbledore, but making his fork hover in midair with his
wand, as though he found the Headmaster's words unworthy of his attention.
“I cannot emphasize strongly enough how dangerous the present situation is, and how much care each of us at Hogwarts must take to ensure that we remain safe. The
castle's magical fortifications have been strengthened over the summer, we are protected in new and more powerful ways, but we must still guard scrupulously against
carelessness on the part of any student or member of staff. I urge you, therefore, to abide by any security restrictions that you teachers might impose upon you,
however irksome you might find them—in particular, the rule that you are not to be out of bed after hours. I implore you, should you notice anything strange or
suspicious within or outside the castle, to report it to a member of staff immediately. I trust you to conduct yourselves, always, with the utmost regard for your own
and others’ safety.”
Dumbledore's blue eyes swept over the students before he smiled once more.
“But now, your beds await, as warm and comfortable as you could possibly wish, and I know that your top priority is to be well-rested for your lessons tomorrow. Let us
therefore say good night. Pip pip!”
With the usual deafening scraping noise, the benches moved back and the hundreds of students began to file out of the Great Hall toward their dormitories. Harry, who
was in no hurry at all to leave with the gawping crowd, nor to get near enough to Malfoy to allow him to retell the story of the nose-stamping, lagged behind,
pretending to retie the lace on his trainer, allowing most of Gryffindors to draw ahead of him. Hermione had darted ahead to fulfill her prefect's duty of shepherding
the first years, but Ron remained with Harry.
“What really happened to your nose?” he asked, once they were at the very back of the throng pressing out of the Hall, and out of earshot of anyone else.
Harry told him. It was a mark of the strength of their friendship that Ron did not laugh.
“I saw Malfoy miming something to do with a nose,” he said darkly.
“Yeah, well, never mind that,” said Harry bitterly. “Listen to what he was saying before he found out I was there... ”
Harry had expected Ron to be stunned by Malfoy's boasts. With what Harry considered pure pigheadedness, however, Ron was unimpressed.
“How d'you know Voldemort doesn't need someone at Hogwarts? It wouldn't be the first —”
“I wish yeh'd stop sayin’ tha name, Harry,” said a reproachful voice behind them. Harry looked over his shoulder to see Hagtid shaking his head.
“Dumbledore uses that name,” said Harry stubbornly.
“Yeah, well, tha's Dumbledore, innit?” said Hagrid mysteriously. “So how come yeh were late, Harry? I was worried.”
“Got held up on the train,” said Harry. “Why were you late?”
“I was with Grawp,” said Hagrid happily. “Los’ track o’ the time. He's got a new home up in the mountains now, Dumbledore fixed it—nice big cave. He's much
happier than he was in the forest. We were havin’ a good chat.”
“Really?” said Harry, taking care not to catch Ron's eye; the last time he had met Hagrid's half-brother, a vicious giant with a talent for ripping up trees by the
roots, his vocabulary had comprised five words, two of which he was unable to pronounce properly.
“Oh yeah, he's really come on,” said Hagrid proudly. “Yeh'll be amazed. I'm thinkin’ o’ trainin’ him up as me assistant.”
Ron snorted loudly, but managed to pass it off as a violent sneeze. They were now standing beside the oak front doors.
“Anyway, I'll see yeh tomorrow, firs’ lesson's straight after lunch. Come early an’ yeh can say hello ter Buck — I mean, Witherwings!”
Raising an arm in cheery farewell, he headed out of the doors into the darkness.
Harry and Ron looked at each other. Harry could tell that Ron was experiencing the same sinking feeling as himself.
“You're not taking Care of Magical Creatures, are you?”
Ron shook his head. “And you're not either, are you?”
Harry shook his head too.
“And Hermione,” said Ron, “she's not, is she?”
Harry shook his head again. Exactly what Hagrid would say when he realized his three favorite students had given up his subject, he did not like to think.
Harry and Ron met Hermione in the common room before breakfast next morning. Hoping for some support in his theory, Harry lost no time in telling Hermione what he had
overheard Malfoy saying on the Hogwarts Express.
“But he was obviously showing off for Parkinson, wasn't he?” interjected Ron quickly, before Hermione could say anything.
“Well,” she said uncertainly, “I don't know. It would be like Malfoy to make himself seem more important than he is ... but that's a big lie to tell... ”
“Exactly,” said Harry, but he could nor press the point, because so many people were trying to listen in to his conversation, not to mention staring at him and
whispering behind their hands.
“It's rude to point,” Ron snapped at a particularly minuscule first-year boy as they joined the queue to climb out of the portrait hole. The boy, who had been
muttering something about Harry behind his hand to his friend, promptly turned scarlet and toppled out of the hole in alarm. Ron sniggered. “I love being a sixth year.
And we're going to be getting free time this year. Whole periods when we can just sit up here and relax.”
“We're going to need that time for studying, Ron!” said Hermione, as they set off down the corridor.
“Yeah, but not today,” said Ron. “Today's going to be a real loss, I reckon.”
“Hold it!” said Hermione, throwing out an arm and halting a passing fourth year, who was attempting to push past her with a lime-green disk clutched tightly in his
hand. “Fanged Frisbees banned, hand it over,” she told him sternly. The scowling boy handed over the snarling Frisbee, ducked under her arm, and took off after his
friends. Ron waited for him to vanish, then tugged the Frisbee from Hermione's grip.
“Excellent, I've always wanted one of these.”
Hermione's remonstration was drowned by a loud giggle; Lavender Brown had apparently found Ron's remark highly amusing. She continued to laugh as she passed them,
glancing back at Ron over her shoulder. Ron looked rather pleased with himself.
The ceiling of the Great Hall was serenely blue and streaked with frail, wispy clouds, just like the squares of sky visible through the high mullioned windows. While
they tucked into porridge and eggs and bacon, Harry and Ron told Hermione about their embarassing conversation with Hagrid the previous evening.
“But he can't really think we'd continue Care of Magical Creatures!” she said, looking distressed. “I mean, when has any of us expressed... you know... any
“That's it, though, innit?” said Ron, swallowing an entire fried egg whole. “We were the ones who made the most effort in classes because we like Hagrid. But he
thinks we liked the stupid subject. D'ya reckon anyone's going to go on to N.E.W.T.?”
Neither Harry nor Hermione answered; there was no need. They knew perfectly well that nobody in their year would want to continue Care of Magical Creatures. They
avoided Hagrid's eye and returned his cheery wave only half-heartedly when he left the staff table ten minutes later.
After they had eaten, they remained in their places, awaiting Professor McGonagall's descent from the staff table. The distribution of class schedules was more
Hermione was immediately cleared to continue with Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Herbology, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, and Potions, and shot
off to a first period Ancient Runes class without further ado. Neville took a little longer to sort out; his round face was anxious as Professor McGonagall looked down
his application and then consulted his O.W.L. results.
“Herbology, fine,” she said. “Professor Sprout will be delighted to see you back with an ‘Outstanding’ O.W.L. And you qualify for Defense Against the Dark Arts
with ‘Exceeds Expectations.’ But the problem is Transfiguration. I'm sorry, Longbottom, but an ‘Acceptable’ really isn't good enough to continue to N.E.W.T. level.
Just don't think you'd be able to cope with the coursework.”
Neville hung his head. Professor McGonagall peered at him through her square spectacles.
“Why do you want to continue with Transfiguration, anyway? I've never had the impression that you particularly enjoyed it.”
Neville looked miserable and muttered something about “my grandmother wants.”
“Hmph,” snorted Professot McGonagall. “It's high time your grandmother learned to be proud of the grandson she's got, rather than the one she thinks she ought to
have—particularly after what happened at the Ministry.”
Neville turned very pink and blinked confusedly; Professor McGonagall had never paid him a compliment before.
“I'm sorry, Longbottom, but I cannot let you into my N.E.W.T. class. I see that you have an ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in Charm however—why not try for a N.E.W.T. in
“My grandmother thinks Charms is a soft option,” mumbled Neville.
“Take Charms,” said Professor McGonagall, “and I shall drop Augusta a line reminding her that just because she failed her Charms O.W.L., the subject is not
necessarily worthless.” Smiling slightly at the look of delighted incredulity on Neville's face, Professor McGonagall tapped a blank schedule with the tip of her wand
and handed it, now carrying details of his new classes, to Neville.
Professor McGonagall turned next to Parvati Patil, whose first question was whether Firenze, the handsome centaur, was still teaching Divination.
“He and Professor Trelawney are dividing classes between them this year,” said Professor McGonagall, a hint of disapproval in her voice; it was common knowledge that
she despised the subject of Divination. “The sixth year is being taken by Professor Trelawney.”
Parvati set off for Divination five minutes later looking slightly crestfallen.
“So, Potter, Potter...” said Professor McGonagall, consulting her notes as she turned to Harry. “Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Transfiguration
... all fine. I must say, I was pleased with your Transfiguration mark, Potter, very pleased. Now, why haven't you applied to continue with Potions? I thought it was
your ambition to become an Auror?”
“It was, but you told me I had to get an ‘Outstanding’ in my O.W.L., Professor.”
“And so you did when Professor Snape was teaching the subject. Professor Slughorn, however, is perfectly happy to accept N.E.W.T. students with ‘Exceeds Expectations
’ at O.W.L. Do you wish to proceed with Potions?”
“Yes,” said Harry, “but I didn't buy the books or any ingredients or anything—”
“I'm sure Professor Slughorn will be able to lend you some,” said Professor McGonagall. “Very well, Potter, here is your schedule. Oh, by the way—twenty hopefuls
have already put down their names for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. I shall pass the list to you in due course and you can fix up trials at your leisure.”
A few minutes later, Ron was cleared to do the same subjects as Harry, and the two of them left the table together.
“Look,” said Ron delightedly, gazing ar his schedule, “we've got a free period now and a free period after break... and after lunch... excellent.”
They returned to the common room, which was empty apart from a half dozen seventh years, including Katie Bell, the only remaining member of the original Gryffindor
“The thing is, that—er—boy who was in here just now, Draco Malfoy, well, he's a friend of mine, and I want to get him a birthday present, but if he's already reserved anything, I obviously don't want to get him the same thing,
It was a pretty lame story in Harry's opinion, and apparently Borgin thought so too.
“Out,” he said sharply. “Get out!”
Hermione did not wait to be asked twice, but hurried to the door with Borgin at her heels. As the bell tinkled again, Borgin slammed the door behind her and put up the closed sign.
“Ah well,” said Ron, throwing the cloak back over Hermione. “Worth a try, but you were a bit obvious—”
“Well, next time you can show me how it's done, Master of Mystery!” she snapped.
Ron and Hermione bickered all the way back to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, where they were forced to stop so that they could dodge undetected around a very anxious-looking Mrs. Weasley and Hagrid, who had clearly
noticed their absence. Once in the shop, Harry whipped off the Invisibility Cloak, hid it in his bag, and joined in with the other two when they insisted, in answer to Mrs. Weasleys accusations, that they had been in the back
room all along, and that she could not have looked properly.
Harry spent a lot of the last week of the holidays pondering the meaning of Malfoy's behavior in Knockturn Alley. What disturbed him most was the satisfied look on
Malfoy's face as he had left the shop. Nothing that made Malfoy look that happy could be good news. To his slight annoyance, however, neither Ron nor Hermione seemed
quite as curious about Malfoy's activities as he was; or at least, they seemed to get bored of discussing it after a few days.
“Yes, I've already agreed it was fishy, Harry,” said Hermione a little impatiently. She was sitting on the windowsill in Fred and George's room with her feet up on
one of the cardboard boxes and had only grudgingly looked up from her new copy of Advanced Rune Translation. “But haven't we agreed there could be a lot of
“Maybe he's broken his Hand of Glory,” said Ron vaguely, as he attempted to straighten his broomstick's bent tail twigs. “Remember that shriveled-up arm Malfoy had?
“But what about when he said, ‘Don't forget to keep that one safe'?” asked Harry for the umpteenth time. “That sounded to me like Borgin's got another one of the
broken objects, and Malfoy wants both.”
“You reckon?” said Ron, now trying to scrape some dirt off his broom handle.
“Yeah, I do,” said Harry. When neither Ron nor Hermione answered, he said, “Malfoy's father's in Azkaban. Don't you think Malfoy'd like revenge?”
Ron looked up, blinking.
“Malfoy, revenge? What can he do about it?”
“That's my point, I don't know!” said Harry, frustrated. “But he's up to something and I think we should take it seriously. His father's a Death Eater and—”
Harry broke off, his eyes fixed on the window behind Hermione, his mouth open. A startling thought had just occurred to him.
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Monday, November 22, 2010
As they left the pavilion, Alexey Alexandrovitch, as always, talked to those he met, and Anna had, as always, to talk and answer; but she was utterly beside herself, and moved hanging on her husband's arm as though in a dream.
"Is he killed or not? Is it true? Will he come or not? Shall I see him today?" she was thinking.
She took her seat in her husband's carriage in silence, and in silence drove out of the crowd of carriages. I spite of all he had seen, Alexey Alexandrovitch still did not allow himself to consider his wife's real condition. He merely saw the outward symptoms. He saw that she was behaving unbecomingly, and considered it his duty to tell her so. But it was very difficult for him not to say more, to tell her nothing but that. He opened his mouth to tell her she had behaved unbecomingly, but he could not help saying something utterly different.
"What an inclination we all have, though, for these cruel spectacles," he said. "I observe..."
"Eh? I don't understand," said Anna contemptuously.
He was offended, and at once began to say what he had meant to say.
"I am obliged to tell you," he began.
"So now we are to have it out," she thought, and she felt frightened.
"I am obliged to tell you that your behavior has been unbecoming today," he said to her in French.
"In what way has my behavior been unbecoming?" she said aloud, turning her head swiftly and looking him straight in the face, not with the bright expression that seemed covering something, but with a look of determination, under which she concealed with difficulty the dismay she was feeling.
"Mind," he said, pointing to the open window opposite the coachman.
He got up and pulled up the window.
"What did you consider unbecoming?" she repeated.
"The despair you were unable to conceal at the accident to one of the riders."
He waited for her to answer, but she was silent, looking straight before her.
"I have already begged you so to conduct yourself in society that even malicious tongues can find nothing to say against you. There was a time when I spoke of your inward attitude, but I am not speaking of that now. Now I speak only of your external attitude. You have behaved improperly, and I would wish it not to occur again."
She did not hear half of what he was saying; she felt panic-stricken before him, and was thinking whether it was true that Vronsky was not killed. Was it of him they were speaking when they said the rider was unhurt, but the horse had broken its back? She merely smiled with a pretense of irony when he finished, and made no reply, because she had not heard what he said. Alexey Alexandrovitch had begun to speak boldly, but as he realized plainly what he was speaking of, the dismay she was feeling infected him too. He saw the smile, and a strange misapprehension came over him.
"She is smiling at my suspicions. Yes, she will tell me directly what she told me before; that there is no foundation for my suspicions, that it's absurd."
At that moment, when the revelation of everything was hanging over him, there was nothing he expected so much as that she would answer mockingly as before that his suspicions were absurd and utterly groundless. So terrible to him was that he knew that now he was ready to believe anything. But the expression of her face, scared and gloomy, did not now promise even deception.
"Possibly I was mistaken," said he. "If so, I beg your pardon."
"No, you were not mistaken," she said deliberately, looking desperately into his cold face. "You were not mistaken. I was, and I could not help being in despair. I hear you, but I am thinking of him. I love him, I am his mistress; I can't bear you; I'm afraid of you, and I hate you.... You can do what you like to me."
And dropping back into the corner of the carriage, she broke into sobs, hiding her face in her hands. Alexey Alexandrovitch did not stir, and kept looking straight before him. But his whole face suddenly bore the solemn rigidity of the dead, and his expression did not change during the whole time of the drive home. On reaching the house he turned his head to her, still with the same expression.
"Very well! But I expect a strict observance of the external forms of propriety till such time"--his voice shook--"as I may take measures to secure my honor and communicate them to you."
He got out first and helped her to get out. Before the servants he pressed her hand, took his seat in the carriage, and drove back to Petersburg. Immediately afterwards a footman came from Princess Betsy and brought Anna a note.
"I sent to Alexey to find out how he is, and he writes me he is quite well and unhurt, but in despair."
"So he will be here," she thought. "What a good thing I told him all!"
She glanced at her watch. She had still three hours to wait, and the memories of their last meeting set her blood in flame.
"My God, how light it is! It's dreadful, but I do love to see his face, and I do love this fantastic light.... My husband! Oh! yes.... Well, thank God! everything's over with him."
Everyone was loudly expressing disapprobation, everyone was repeating a phrase some one had uttered--"The lions and gladiators will be the next thing," and everyone was feeling horrified; so that when Vronsky fell to the ground, and Anna moaned aloud, there was nothing very out of the way in it. But afterwards a change came over Anna's face which really was beyond decorum. She utterly lost her head. She began fluttering like a caged bird, at one moment would have got up and moved away, at the next turned to Betsy.
"Let us go, let us go!" she said.
But Betsy did not hear her. She was bending down, talking to a general who had come up to her.
Alexey Alexandrovitch went up to Anna and courteously offered her his arm.
"Let us go, if you like," he said in French, but Anna was listening to the general and did not notice her husband.
"He's broken his leg too, so they say," the general was saying. "This is beyond everything."
Without answering her husband, Anna lifted her opera glass and gazed towards the place where Vronsky had fallen; but it was so far off, and there was such a crowd of people about it, that she could make out nothing. She laid down the opera glass, and would have moved away, but at that moment an officer galloped up and made some announcement to the Tsar. Anna craned forward, listening.
"Stiva! Stiva!" she cried to her brother.
But her brother did not hear her. Again she would have moved away.
"Once more I offer you my arm if you want to be going," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, reaching towards her hand.
She drew back from him with aversion, and without looking in his face answered:
"No, no, let me be, I'll stay."
She saw now that from the place of Vronsky's accident an officer was running across the course towards the pavilion. Betsy waved her handkerchief to him. The officer brought the news that the rider was not killed, but the horse had broken its back.
On hearing this Anna sat down hurriedly, and hid her face in her fan. Alexey Alexandrovitch saw that she was weeping, and could not control her tears, nor even the sobs that were shaking her bosom. Alexey Alexandrovitch stood so as to screen her, giving her time to recover herself.
"For the third time I offer you my arm," he said to her after a little time, turning to her. Anna gazed at him and did not know what to say. Princess Betsy came to her rescue.
"No, Alexey Alexandrovitch; I brought Anna and I promised to take her home," put in Betsy.
"Excuse me, princess," he said, smiling courteously but looking her very firmly in the face, "but I see that Anna's not very well, and I wish her to come home with me."
Anna looked about her in a frightened way, got up submissively, and laid her hand on her husband's arm.
"I'll send to him and find out, and let you know," Betsy whispered to her.
Alexey Alexandrovitch paused while there was talking about him, but he began again directly.
"I admit that manly sports do not..." he was continuing.
But at that moment the racers started, and all conversation ceased. Alexey Alexandrovitch too was silent, and everyone stood up and turned towards the stream. Alexey Alexandrovitch took no interest in the race, and so he did not watch the racers, but fell listlessly to scanning the spectators with his weary eyes. His eyes rested upon Anna.
Her face was white and set. She was obviously seeing nothing and no one but one man. Her hand had convulsively clutched her fan, and she held her breath. He looked at her and hastily turned away, scrutinizing other faces.
"But here's this lady too, and others very much moved as well; it's very natural," Alexey Alexandrovitch told himself. He tried not to look at her, but unconsciously his eyes were drawn to her. He examined that face again, trying not to read what was so plainly written on it, and against his own will, with horror read on it what he did not want to know.
The first fall--Kuzovlev's, at the stream--agitated everyone, but Alexey Alexandrovitch saw distinctly on Anna's pale, triumphant face that the man she was watching had not fallen. When, after Mahotin and Vronsky had cleared the worst barrier, the next officer had been thrown straight on his head at it and fatally injured, and a shudder of horror passed over the whole public, Alexey Alexandrovitch saw that Anna did not even notice it, and had some difficulty in realizing what they were talking of about her. But more and more often, and with greater persistence, he watched her. Anna, wholly engrossed as she was with the race, became aware of her husband's cold eyes fixed upon her from one side.
She glanced round for an instant, looked inquiringly at him, and with a slight frown turned away again.
"Ah, I don't care!" she seemed to say to him, and she did not once glance at him again.
The race was an unlucky one, and of the seventeen officers who rode in it more than half were thrown and hurt. Towards the end of the race everyone was in a state of agitation, which was intensified by the fact that the Tsar was displeased.
"I'm a wicked woman, a lost woman," she thought; "but I don't like lying, I can't endure falsehood, while as for HIM (her husband) it's the breath of his life--falsehood. He knows all about it, he sees it all; what does he care if he can talk so calmly? If he were to kill me, if he were to kill Vronsky, I might respect him. No, all he wants is falsehood and propriety," Anna said to herself, not considering exactly what it was she wanted of her husband, and how she would have liked to see him behave. She did not understand either that Alexey Alexandrovitch's peculiar loquacity that day, so exasperating to her, was merely the expression of his inward distress and uneasiness. As a child that has been hurt skips about, putting all his muscles into movement to drown the pain, in the same way Alexey Alexandrovitch needed mental exercise to drown the thoughts of his wife that in her presence and in Vronsky's, and with the continual iteration of his name, would force themselves on his attention. And it was as natural for him to talk well and cleverly, as it is natural for a child to skip about. He was saying:
"Danger in the races of officers, of cavalry men, is an essential element in the race. If England can point to the most brilliant feats of cavalry in military history, it is simply owing to the fact that she has historically developed this force both in beasts and in men. Sport has, in my opinion, a great value, and as is always the case, we see nothing but what is most superficial."
"It's not superficial," said Princess Tverskaya. "One of the officers, they say, has broken two ribs."
Alexey Alexandrovitch smiled his smile, which uncovered his teeth, but revealed nothing more.
"We'll admit, princess, that that's not superficial," he said, "but internal. But that's not the point," and he turned again to the general with whom he was talking seriously; "we mustn't forget that those who are taking part in the race are military men, who have chosen that career, and one must allow that every calling has its disagreeable side. It forms an integral part of the duties of an officer. Low sports, such as prizefighting or Spanish bull-fights, are a sign of barbarity. But specialized trials of skill are a sign of development."
"No, I shan't come another time; it's too upsetting," said Princess Betsy. "Isn't it, Anna?"
"It is upsetting, but one can't tear oneself away," said another lady. "If I'd been a Roman woman I should never have missed a single circus."
Anna said nothing, and keeping her opera glass up, gazed always at the same spot.
At that moment a tall general walked through the pavilion. Breaking off what he was saying, Alexey Alexandrovitch got up hurriedly, though with dignity, and bowed low to the general.
"You're not racing?" the officer asked, chaffing him.
"My race is a harder one," Alexey Alexandrovitch responded deferentially.
And though the answer meant nothing, the general looked as though he had heard a witty remark from a witty man, and fully relished la pointe de la sauce.
"There are two aspects," Alexey Alexandrovitch resumed: "those who take part and those who look on; and love for such spectacles is an unmistakable proof of a low degree of development in the spectator, I admit, but..."
"Princess, bets!" sounded Stepan Arkadyevitch's voice from below. addressing Betsy. "Who's your favorite?"
"Anna and I are for Kuzovlev," replied Betsy.
"I'm for Vronsky. A pair of gloves?"
"But it is a pretty sight, isn't it?"
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The cowhouse for the more valuable cows was just behind the house. Walking across the yard, passing a snowdrift by the lilac tree, he went into the cowhouse. There was the warm, steamy smell of dung when the frozen door was opened, and the cows, astonished at the unfamiliar light of the lantern, stirred on the fresh straw. He caught a glimpse of the broad, smooth, black and piebald back of Hollandka. Berkoot, the bull, was lying down with his ring in his lip, and seemed about to get up, but thought better of it, and only gave two snorts as they passed by him. Pava, a perfect beauty, huge as a hippopotamus, with her back turned to them, prevented their seeing the calf, as she sniffed her all over.
Levin went into the pen, looked Pava over, and lifted the red and spotted calf onto her long, tottering legs. Pava, uneasy, began lowing, but when Levin put the calf close to her she was soothed, and, sighing heavily, began licking her with her rough tongue. The calf, fumbling, poked her nose under her mother's udder, and stiffened her tail out straight.
"Here, bring the light, Fyodor, this way," said Levin, examining the calf. "Like the mother! though the color takes after the father; but that's nothing. Very good. Long and broad in the haunch. Vassily Fedorovitch, isn't she splendid?" he said to the bailiff, quite forgiving him for the buckwheat under the influence of his delight in the calf.
"How could she fail to be? Oh, Semyon the contractor came the day after you left. You must settle with him, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," said the bailiff. "I did inform you about the machine."
This question was enough to take Levin back to all the details of his work on the estate, which was on a large scale, and complicated. He went straight from the cowhouse to the counting house, and after a little conversation with the bailiff and Semyon the contractor, he went back to the house and straight upstairs to the drawing room.
This the tings said to him, but another voice in his heart was telling him that he must not fall under the sway of the past, and that one can do anything with oneself. And hearing that voice, he went into the corner where stood his two heavy dumbbells, and began brandishing them like a gymnast, trying to restore his confident temper. There was a creak of steps at the door. He hastily put down the dumbbells.
The bailiff came in, and said everything, thank God, was doing well; but informed him that the buckwheat in the new drying machine had been a little scorched. This piece of news irritated Levin. The new drying machine had been constructed and partly invented by Levin. The bailiff had always been against the drying machine, and now it was with suppressed triumph that he announced that the buckwheat had been scorched. Levin was firmly convinced that if the buckwheat had been scorched, it was only because the precautions had not been taken, for which he had hundreds of times given orders. He was annoyed, and reprimanded the bailiff. But there had been an important and joyful event: Pava, his best cow, an expensive beast, bought at a show, had calved.
In the morning Konstantin Levin left Moscow, and towards evening he reached home. On the journey in the train he talked to his neighbors about politics and the new railways, and, just as in Moscow, he was overcome by a sense of confusion of ideas, dissatisfaction with himself, shame of something or other. But when he got out at his own station, when he saw his one-eyed coachman, Ignat, with the collar of his coat turned up; when, in the dim light reflected by the station fires, he saw his own sledge, his own horses with their tails tied up, in their harness trimmed with rings and tassels; when the coachman Ignat, as he put in his luggage, told him the village news, that the contractor had arrived, and that Pava had calved,--he felt that little by little the confusion was clearing up, and the shame and self-dissatisfaction were passing away. He felt this at the mere sight of Ignat and the horses; but when he had put on the sheepskin brought for him, had sat down wrapped in the sledge, and had driven off pondering on the work that lay before him in the village, and staring at the side-horse, that had been his saddle-horse, past his prime now, but a spirited beast from the Don, he began to see what had happened to him in quite a different light. He felt himself, and did not want to be any one else. All he wanted now was to be better than before. In the first place he resolved that from that day he would give up hoping for any extraordinary happiness, such as marriage must have given him, and consequently he would not so disdain what he really had. Secondly, he would never again let himself give way to low passion, the memory of which had so tortured him when he had been making up his mind to make an offer. Then remembering his brother Nikolay, he resolved to himself that he would never allow himself to forget him, that he would follow him up, and not lose sight of him, so as to be ready to help when things should go ill with him. And that would be soon, he felt. Then, too, his brother's talk of communism, which he had treated so lightly at the time, now made him think. He considered a revolution in economic conditions nonsense. But he always felt the injustice of his own abundance in comparison with the poverty of the peasants, and now he determined that so as to feel quite in the right, though he had worked hard and lived by no means luxuriously before, he would now work still harder, and would allow himself even less luxury. And all this seemed to him so easy a conquest over himself that he spent the whole drive in the pleasantest daydreams. With a resolute feeling of hope in a new, better life, he reached home before nine o'clock at night.
The snow of the little quadrangle before the house was lit up by a light in the bedroom windows of his old nurse, Agafea Mihalovna, who performed the duties of housekeeper in his house. She was not yet asleep. Kouzma, waked up by her, came sidling sleepily out onto the steps. A setter bitch, Laska, ran out too, almost upsetting Kouzma, and whining, turned round about Levin's knees, jumping up and longing, but not daring, to put her forepaws on his chest.
"You're soon back again, sir," said Agafea Mihalovna.