Chapter 9 The Half-blood Prince
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