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"That's right," said Mrs. Cole, helping herself to more gin. "I remember it clear as anything, because I'd just started here myself. New Year's Eve and bitter cold, snowing, you know. Nasty night. And this girl, not much older than I was myself at the time, came staggering up the front steps. Well, she wasn't the first. We took her in, and she had the baby within the hour. And she was dead in another hour."
Ron and Hermione exchanged looks that plainly said There's no point arguing with him.
"Something's happened to her!" sobbed Leanne. "I don't know what —"
Harry had Herbology first thing the following morning. He had been unable to tell Ron and Hermione about his lesson with Dumbledore over breakfast for fear of being over-heard, but he filled them in as they walked across the vegetable patch toward the greenhouses. The weekend’s brutal wind had died out at last; the weird mist had returned and it took them a little longer than usual to find the correct greenhouse.
"Oh, well, that's better than a whack on the nose with a rusty poker," said Mrs. Cole with a slight hiccup. She got to her feet, and Harry was impressed to see that she was quite steady, even though two-thirds of the gin was now gone. "I suppose you'd like to see him?"
"Now, as it happens, she did," said Mrs. Cole, who seemed to be rather enjoying herself now, with the gin in her hand and an eager audience for her story. "I remember she said to me, 'I hope he looks like his papa,' and I won't lie, she was right to hope it, because she was no beauty ?and then she told me he was to be named Tom, for his father, and Marvolo, for her father ?yes, I know, funny name, isn't it? We wondered whether she came from a circus ?and she said the boy's surname was to be Riddle. And she died soon after that without another word.
"Still very unwell, although she was relatively lucky. She appears to have brushed the necklace with the smallest possible amount of skin; there was a tiny hole in her glove. Had she put it on, had she even held it in her ungloved hand, she would have died, perhaps instantly. Luckily Professor Snape was able to do enough to prevent a rapid spread of the curse ?quot;
"Now, I must give you warning that Felix Felicis is a banned substance in organized competitions . . . sporting events, for instance, examinations, or elections. So the winner is to use it on an ordinary day only . . . and watch how that ordinary day becomes extraordinary!"
"It could've been meant for loads of people," said Harry. "Dumbledore — the Death Eaters would love to get rid of him, he must be one of their top targets. Or Slughorn — Dumbledore reckons Voldemort really wanted him and they can't be pleased that he's sided with Dumbledore. Or —"
"I can't believe you've wriggled out of another one," said Hermione, shaking her head. "They're not that bad, you know. . . They're even quite fun sometimes. . . ." But then she caught sight of Ron's expression. "Oh, look — they've got deluxe sugar quills — those would last hours!"
Haltingly, and with many pauses while she attempted to control her crying, Leanne told Professor McGonagall how Katie had gone to the bathroom in the Three Broomsticks and returned holding the unmarked package, how Katie had seemed a little odd, and
"My name is Albus Dumbledore. I sent you a letter requesting an appointment and you very kindly invited me here today."
wall behind her. She was standing beside a steaming pot on a grimy black stove, and was fiddling around with the shelf of squalid-looking pots and pans above it. Her hair was lank and dull and she had a plain, pale, rather heavy face. Her eyes, like her brother's, stared in opposite directions. She looked a little cleaner than the two men, but Harry thought he had never seen a more defeated-looking person.
"So, Harry," said Dumbledore, in a businesslike voice. "You have been wondering, I am sure, what I have planned for you dur-ing these — for want of a better word — lessons?"
"What are they, Hagrid?" asked Harry, trying to sound interested rather than revolted, but putting down his rock cake all the same.
"Oh, it was quite fun, really," said Hermione, now putting on protective goggles. "I mean, he drones on about famous exploits a bit, and he absolutely fawns on McLaggen because he's so well connected, but he gave us some really nice food and he introduced us to Gwenog Jones."
Harry suddenly wished the pod had flown a little farther, so that he need not have been sitting here with the pair of them. Unno-ticed by either, he seized the bowl that contained the pod and be-gan to try and open it by the noisiest and most energetic means he could think of; unfortunately, he could still hear every word of their conversation.？