There was a long silence in the Great Hall. Harry and Ron stared at the Daily Prophet title page. The photos seemed to be unusually still, as if they were a muggle version that slipped into the press by some accident.
Death on Christmas Eve
Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle passed away in the late night hours on the Christmas Eve. The two young wizards attending the sixth year in Hogwarts died of an overdose of a sleeping potion and a digestion stimulant which they took in the evening. So it would seem, however, the circumstances and the corresponding time of death raises suspicion. The two unfortunate boys ingested the deadly dose in their favorite candy, a chocolate potato, which is highly unusual for medicine consummation. Their parents are both horrified and enraged, claiming their sons were murdered. A question of a suicide was rejected by both, the Crabbe and the Goyle family ….
"I never thought you can die of those things," Ron said, pale in face so that his freckles were even more prominent than usually.
Harry grimly nodded and glanced to the Slytherin table. The two places where Crabbe and Goyle usually sat were somehow even more empty that could be possible. He saw them side by side for more than five years in a row. Never separate … and they also died together, as if even death could not do them part.
"It was Christmas, they had dinner and I am sure they were both stuffed. The stimulants surely came handy," Harry said thoughtfully. Some distant memory from the potions was poking him in his mind. Now, when professor Slughorn taught the subject, Harry found potions much more interesting.
"I am going to the library," he announced and got up. Ron gave him a surprised look and shrugged. Harry left him in the Great Hall and slowly climbed the stairs. These Christmas days were awful, maybe even more awful than any Christmas with the Dursleys. Memories of Sirius and the last, and also first precious moments he spent with thin in this time of the year caused him almost physical pain. With Dumbledore gone on one of his secret trips to hunt the horcruxes, he felt helpless and clueless and the power of Voldemort rose, he could feel that.
The librarian gave him a warning look. Harry quickly disappeared among the books. The last time he carelessly left his potion book on the table, he was barely able to hide it from the eagl sight of that woman. Were she able to see the tattered cover and the pages …
He found the textbook from their fourth year without much trouble and quickly browsed through it to the section with elementary medications.
"Here we go," he muttered as he read the text, "indeed. Those two potions are not to be mixed … but their accidental usage causes only sickness … the dose they had to swallow had to be immense."
He read further and tapped his finger on the next page when he turned it. The liquid state could be turned into a powder. But the students were never allowed to do that in class, even though it was extremely easy. Harry recalled Hermione's voice.
"Powdered potions are much more powerful. They should never be used by amateurs, small amount above the limit can cause big trouble ..."
Harry grimaced. He was able to imitate even her lecturing tone, obviously. He really missed his fried with bushy long hair. But he hoped she was enjoying the holiday with her parents. Family was important. Very important.
He sighed and put the book back to the shelf. He really did not feel like doing any homework, so he turned to the door and headed to the Gryffindor common room.
It was crowded there and he smelled smoke. Some first years obviously played with the crackers from Fred and George again.
Harry met Dobby on the stairs to his room.
"Hi, Dobby," Harry forced a smile.
"Harry Potter, master!" Dobby's face brightened, "Dobby must go, Dobby has a new tea for Winky, Harry Potter, master!"
"That is great, Dobby," Harry smiled. It was very strange that Neville and Dobby were often seen together during the last few months. Always in their room, so it did not seem strange for the other classmates. Neville experimented with herbal mixtures for Winky, who was still addicted to butter beer.
Harry opened the door and found his friend collecting the cups from the window sill.
"Hello, Harry," Neville greeted him."
"Hi, Neville. Did you hear about Crabbe and Goyle?"
The round face of the other boy darkened and he nodded slowly.
"It is … kind of hard to decide how I should feel," he confessed, "you know who they were … and the fact that someone murdered them is very disturbing. Who and how?"
"Maybe some inside job?" Harry proposed, "some rivalry among deatheaters?"
"Might be the case … But I have also positive news!" his face brightened, "Winky is getting better. The red sea algae really works. Although the taste is really awful. I have to hide it with lemon grass. That is why Dobby was here. To test whether the tea is good for a house elf. I mixed in a higher dose this time."
"That is great," Harry smiled, "listen, Neville, could I have a cup of that perplexer's mint in the evening?"
Neville glanced at the herb in the pot on the window. Some branches were missing again. Neville had obviously troubles with falling asleep.
"Well, I could make one more cup I suppose," the boy nodded.
"And don't forget to keep it from Dobby," Harry joked to melt the mood in the room a bit. The magical herb could help wizards to sleep but it could cause confusion similar to hypnosis and loss of memory when ingested by small magical creatures. Hermione did not forget to mention it every time she saw Neville, since he began his experiments with Winky, although Harry really doubted Neville would mix the mint into the tea accidentally. He was very focused when it came to plants.
"Oh don't worry, I am certainly keeping it away from the place where I mix the tea for Winky," Neville assured him.
"Although," he laughed in a strange way, "imagine what would happen if poor Dobby swapped some underwear in the confusion. Some Hufflepuff would receive a Gryffindor set or something. A great chaos could be caused with his access anywhere in the castle," he laughed again.
"And with the memory loss and confusion … but don't worry. I am really cautious, I would never hurt Dobby."
Harry nodded. He praised Neville's effort to help small Winky.