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There it was, hanging in the sky above the school: the blaz- ing green skull with a serpent tongue, the mark Death Eaters left behind whenever they had entered a building ... wherever they had murdered ...
'I'm fine,' said Harry shortly, racing past them. He dashed up the stairs and into his dormitory, where he flung open his trunk and pulled out the Marauder's Map and a pair of balled-up socks. Then he sped back down the stairs and into the common room, skidding to a halt where Ron and Hermione sat, looking stunned.
"Magic always leaves traces," said Dumbledore, as the boat hit the bank with a gentle bump, "sometimes very distinctive traces. I taught Tom Riddle. I know his style."
He must have got a lot of good quality venom from Aragog, Harry thought, for Slughorn wore a satisfied smirk as he stepped up to the rim of the pit and said, in a slow, impressive voice, "Farewell, Aragog, king of arachnids, whose long and faithful friendship those who knew you won't forget! Though your body will decay, your spirit lingers on in the quiet, web-spun places of your forest home. May your many-eyed descendants ever flourish and your human friends find solace for the loss they have sustained."
'And you didn't see that coming?' said Harry, unable to help himself.
Thanks,' said Harry, grinning. 'And what did you tell her Ron's got?'
". . . terrible," Hagrid grunted, and his great shaggy head rolled sideways onto his arms and he fell asleep, snoring deeply.
"There is a spell, do not ask me, I don't know!" said Slughoin shaking his head like an old elephant bothered by mosquitoes. " Do I look as though I have tried it — do I look like a killer?"
"Don't," crooned Moaning Myrtle's voice from one of the cubicles. "Don't. . . tell me what's wrong ... I can help you. . . ."
Chapter 23: Horcruxes
Dumbledore had already crossed the crenellated ramparts and was dismounting; Harry landed next to him seconds later and looked around.
It was very well done, thought Harry, the hesitancy, the casual tone, the careful flattery, none of it overdone. He, Harry, had had too much experience of trying to wheedle information out of re-luctant people not to recognize a master at work. He could tell that Riddle wanted the information very, very much; perhaps had been working toward this moment for weeks.
Harry stared into the whitened face he knew so well, at the crooked nose and half-moon spectacles, and did not know what to do.
'And it sounded happy?'
They reached the bank with a little bump and Harry leapt out, then turned quickly to help Dumbledore. The moment that Dum-bledore reached the bank he let his wand hand fall; the ring of fire vanished, but the Inferi did not emerge again from the water. The little boat sank into the water once more; clanking and tinkling, its chain slithered back into the lake too. Dumbledore gave a great sigh and leaned against the cavern wall.