Short stories from hogwa.., p.3
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       Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, p.3

         Part #2 of Pottermore Presents series by J. K. Rowling
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  Prisoners were mostly insane and a graveyard had been established to accommodate those that died of despair.

  Back in London, Diggory established a committee to explore alternatives to Azkaban, or at least to remove the Dementors as guards. Experts explained to him that the only reason the Dementors were (mostly) confined to the island was that they were being provided with a constant supply of souls on which to feed. If deprived of prisoners, they were likely to abandon the prison and head for the mainland.

  This advice notwithstanding, Diggory had been so horrified by what he had seen inside Azkaban that he pressed the committee to find alternatives. Before they could reach any decision, however, Diggory caught dragon pox and died. From that time until the advent of Kingsley Shacklebolt, no Minister ever seriously considered closing Azkaban. They turned a blind eye to the inhumane conditions inside the fortress, permitted it to be magically enlarged and expanded and rarely visited, due to the awful effects of entering a building populated by thousands of Dementors. Most justified their attitude by pointing to the prison’s perfect record at keeping prisoners locked up.

  Nearly three centuries passed before that record was broken. A young man was successfully smuggled out of the prison when his visiting mother exchanged places with him, something that the blind and loveless Dementors could not detect and would have never expected. This escape was followed by another, still more ingenious and impressive, when Sirius Black managed to evade the Dementors single-handed.

  The weakness of the prison was demonstrated amply over the next few years, when two mass breakouts occurred, both involving Death Eaters. By this time the Dementors had given their allegiance to Lord Voldemort, who could guarantee them scope and freedom hitherto untasted. Albus Dumbledore was one who had long disapproved of the use of Dementors as guards, not only because of the inhumane treatment of the prisoners in their power, but because he foresaw the possible shift in loyalties of such Dark creatures.

  Under Kingsley Shacklebolt, Azkaban was purged of Dementors. While it remains in use as a prison, the guards are now Aurors, who are regularly rotated from the mainland. There has been no breakout since this new system was introduced.

  J.K. Rowling’s thoughts

  The name ‘Azkaban’ derives from a mixture of the prison ‘Alcatraz’, which is its closest Muggle equivalent, being set on an island, and ‘Abaddon’, which is a Hebrew word meaning ‘place of destruction’ or ‘depths of hell’.





  28th April


  Cedar and dragon heartstring, ten and a quarter inches, fairly flexible




  Accomplished Occlumens, expert Potioneer, advanced self-transfiguration


  Wizard father, witch mother (family one of the so-called ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’)


  Never married, no children (although the Slughorn family continues through a collateral line)


  The Slug Club, corresponding with famous ex-students, fine wines and confectionery



  Horace Eugene Flaccus Slughorn was born into an ancient wizarding family, the only son of doting and wealthy parents. Although a fundamentally good-tempered boy, he was educated to believe in the value of the old boys’ network (his father was a high-ranking Ministry official in the Department of International Magical Co-operation), and encouraged to make friends ‘of the right sort’ once he arrived at Hogwarts. The Slughorn family is one of the so-called ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’, (a select list of the only families designated ‘pure-blooded’ by an anonymous author in the 1930s) and while Slughorn’s parents were never militant in their pure-blood beliefs, they encouraged a quiet belief in the family’s innate superiority.

  Horace was sorted instantly into Slytherin upon arrival at Hogwarts. He proved himself an outstanding student, and while he did not follow his parents’ implied instructions to the letter (numbering among his friends several talented Muggle-borns), he practised his own brand of elitism. Horace was drawn to those whose talents or backgrounds made them in any way distinctive, revelling in reflected glory, and dazzled by celebrity of any description. Even as a boy he was an embarrassingly loud name-dropper, and would often refer to the Minister for Magic by his Christian name, happy to imply that the family were on closer terms with him than was really the case.

  Early Teaching Career

  In spite of his considerable abilities, his admiration of those who enjoyed the limelight and his parents’ ambitions for him at the Ministry, Horace Slughorn was never drawn to the cut and thrust of politics. He enjoyed his creature comforts and revelled in the vicarious delights of having high-achieving friends, without much wanting to emulate any of them. Perhaps he knew in his heart of hearts that he was not the stuff of which great Ministers are made, aware that he preferred a less taxing and more comfortable existence. When offered the job of Potions master at Hogwarts he was delighted to accept, having a great flair for teaching and a deep fondness for the old school.

  Subsequently promoted to Head of Slytherin house, Slughorn remained a good-tempered and easy-going man. He had weaknesses – vanity, snobbery and a certain lack of judgement when it came to the good-looking and talented – and yet he was devoid of cruelty or malice. The worst of which he could be accused during his teaching career is that he made far too great a distinction between those students whom he found amusing and promising, and those in whom he saw no flicker of future greatness. The institution of the ‘Slug Club’ – an out-of-hours dining and social club for his selected favourites – did nothing to assuage the feelings of those who were never invited.

  Slughorn undoubtedly had a good eye for latent talent; over a fifty-year period numerous members of the Slug Club, hand-picked by him, subsequently had dazzling careers in the wizarding world, in fields as diverse as Quidditch, politics, business and journalism.

  Relationship with Voldemort

  Unfortunately for Slughorn, one of his very favourite students, a handsome and exceptionally talented boy called Tom Marvolo Riddle, had ambitions that were far removed from the likes of the Ministry or proprietorship of the Daily Prophet. Manipulative and charming when he chose, Riddle knew exactly how to flatter and cajole his doting Potions master and Head of House into parting with forbidden information: how to create Horcruxes. Most ill-advisedly, Slughorn gave his protégé the knowledge he had been lacking.

  Although it is not shown in the novels, we may deduce, from what Professor Dumbledore tells Harry Potter about his own suspicions about Tom Riddle during the latter’s school days, that Dumbledore would have warned his colleague Slughorn against allowing himself to be used by the boy. Slughorn, secure in his own judgement (which had been vindicated so many times), brushed off such warnings as paranoia on Dumbledore’s part, believing the Transfiguration teacher to have taken an unaccountable dislike to Tom from the moment he had fetched the boy from the orphanage in which he had been brought up.

  Slughorn remained in thrall to Riddle right up until the latter’s departure from the school, when Slughorn was disappointed to discover that his prize pupil had not only turned down every wonderful job offer made to him, but vanished, showing no desire to keep in touch with the master with whom he had seemed to feel such an affinity. Slowly, over the ensuing months, Slughorn had to admit to himself that the affection Tom Riddle had seemed to feel for him might, after all, have been a pretence. Slughorn’s guilty feelings about having shared a piece of dangerous magical knowledge with the boy intensified, but he suppressed them more determinedly than ever, confiding in no one.

  When, a few years after Riddle’s departure from the school, a Dark wizard of immense power called Lord Voldemort became active in the wizarding world, Slughorn did not immediately recognise him as his old pupil
. He had never been privy to the private name that Riddle was already using to his cronies at Hogwarts, and Voldemort had undergone several physical transformations since last they met. When Slughorn realised that this frightening wizard was, indeed, Tom Riddle, he was horrified, and on the night that Voldemort returned to Hogwarts, seeking a teaching post, Slughorn hid in his office, frightened that the visitor would come and claim acquaintance. Voldemort did not trouble to greet his former Potions master on that occasion, but Slughorn’s relief was short-lived.

  When the wizarding world fell into war, and rumours swirled that Voldemort had, somehow, made himself immortal, Slughorn was sure that it was he who had made Voldemort invincible, by teaching him about Horcruxes (this guilt was misplaced, as Riddle already knew how to make a Horcrux, and had feigned innocence in order to find out what might happen if a wizard made more than one). Slughorn became ill with guilt and fright. Albus Dumbledore, now Headmaster, treated his colleague with particular kindness at this time, which had the paradoxical effect of increasing Slughorn’s guilt, reinforcing his determination never to tell a living soul what a dreadful mistake he had made.

  Lord Voldemort made no attempt to seize Hogwarts on his first ascent to power. Slughorn believed, correctly, that he was safest remaining in his post rather than risking the outside world while Voldemort was at large. When Voldemort met his match upon attacking the infant Harry Potter, Slughorn was even more jubilant than most of the wizarding population. If Voldemort had been killed, Slughorn reasoned, then he could not have made a Horcrux, which meant that he, Slughorn, was innocent after all. It was Slughorn’s extremity of relief, and the disjointed phrases he let fall in the first rush of emotion after hearing of Voldemort’s defeat, that first alerted Dumbledore to the possibility that Slughorn had shared Dark secrets with Tom Riddle. Dumbledore’s gentle attempts to question Slughorn, however, caused him to clam up. A few days later, Slughorn (who had now completed a half century of service to the school) tendered his resignation.


  Horace intended to enjoy a delightful retirement, free from the cares of teaching and the burden of guilt and fear that had been with him for years. He returned to the comfortable home of his parents (now dead), where he had enjoyed school holidays, now taking up permanent residence.

  For nearly a decade, Slughorn enjoyed his well-stocked cellar and library, paying occasional visits to old members of the Slug Club, and hosting reunion feasts at his home. He missed teaching, however, and occasionally felt a sad chill at the thought that the famous faces of tomorrow were now passing through Hogwarts without the slightest knowledge of who he was.

  About a decade into Slughorn’s retirement, word reached him through his extensive contacts that Lord Voldemort was still alive, although in some disembodied form. This, of all the news in the world, was what Slughorn most feared, for it suggested that his deepest dread had been well founded; that Voldemort lived on, in some fragmented spectral form, because his younger self had successfully created one or more Horcruxes.

  Slughorn’s retirement now became a fraught affair. Sleepless and frightened, he asked himself whether he had been wise to leave Hogwarts, where Voldemort had previously feared to invade, and where Dumbledore would surely be well informed about what was going on.


  Shortly after the conclusion of the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts (which Slughorn had been following with rapt attention in the press), the wizarding world erupted with fresh rumours. Harry Potter had survived the competition under dubious circumstances, returning to the Hogwarts grounds clutching the body of a fellow competitor, whom he claimed had been killed by a reborn Voldemort.

  While Harry’s story was widely dismissed by both the Ministry of Magic and the wizarding press, Horace Slughorn believed it. Confirmation came three nights after the death of Cedric Diggory, when the Death Eater Corban Yaxley arrived at Slughorn’s house under cover of night, clearly intending to recruit him, or take him by force to Voldemort.

  Slughorn reacted with a speed that would have astounded those who had watched him grow slower and fatter through the years of his retirement. Transfiguring himself into an armchair, he successfully evaded Yaxley’s detection. Once the Death Eater had left, Slughorn packed a few necessities into a bag, locked up his house behind him, and went on the run.

  For over a year, Slughorn moved from house to house, often squatting in Muggle dwellings when the owners were away, because he did not dare stay with friends who might subsequently betray – whether willingly or under duress – his whereabouts. It was a miserable existence, made still more wretched by the fact that he did not know precisely what Voldemort wanted from him. He thought it most likely that his old student simply wanted to recruit him to his army, which was still small compared to what it had been at the height of his previous power; in his darkest moments, however, Slughorn wondered whether Voldemort did want to kill him, to prevent him ever betraying the source of the latter’s continuing invulnerability.

  Later Teaching Career

  Though Slughorn’s charms and hexes kept him a few steps ahead of the Death Eaters, they were insufficient to keep him concealed from Albus Dumbledore, who finally ran him to ground in the village of Budleigh Babberton, where Slughorn had commandeered a Muggle dwelling. The Headmaster was not fooled by the disguise that had hoodwinked Yaxley, and asked Slughorn to return to Hogwarts as a teacher. As an added inducement, Dumbledore had brought along Harry Potter, whom Slughorn now met for the first time: the most famous student Hogwarts had ever seen, he was also the son of one of Slughorn’s all-time favourite students, Lily Evans.

  Although initially resistant, Slughorn could not resist the combined allure of a safe place of residence and of Harry himself, who had a glamour that exceeded even Tom Riddle’s. Slughorn suspected that Dumbledore might have a further motive, but was confident that he could resist Dumbledore’s attempts to wheedle out of him any assistance he might have given Lord Voldemort. He armed himself against this eventuality by preparing a fake ‘memory’ of the night that Riddle had approached him with a request to be taught about Horcruxes.

  Slughorn resumed his post as Potions master at Hogwarts with gusto, once again instituting the Slug Club and attempting to collect all the most talented or well-connected students of the day. As Dumbledore had expected and intended, Slughorn was captivated by Harry Potter, whom he believed (erroneously) to be supremely talented in his own subject. Harry finally succeeded in prising from Slughorn the true memory of his Horcrux conversation with Riddle, after using Slughorn’s own potion against him: Felix Felicis, which made Harry irresistibly lucky.

  Hogwarts under Death Eater Rule

  Once the school had been taken over by Lord Voldemort, with Severus Snape as Headmaster and the Death Eater Carrows taking key roles in subjugating staff and pupils, Slughorn learned that Voldemort had nothing worse in store for him than to remain in post and teach pure- and half-bloods. This he did, keeping his profile as low as he dared, though never enforcing the violent discipline advocated by the Carrows, and attempting to look after the students in his care as best he could.

  The Battle of Hogwarts

  Slughorn’s behaviour during the most dangerous night of his life reveals the worth of the man. Initially he appeared to have escaped the fight, having led the Slytherins out of the castle to safety. Once in Hogsmeade, however, he helped to rouse and mobilise the villagers, returning with Charlie Weasley at the head of reinforcements at a crucial point in the battle. What is more, he was one of the last three (with Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt) to duel Voldemort before the latter’s final confrontation with Harry. Slughorn sought redemption in these selfless acts of courage, risking his life against his erstwhile pupil.

  Slughorn’s genuine remorse for the damage he had done in telling Riddle what he wanted to know is conclusive proof that he is not, and never was, Death Eater material. A little weak, a little lazy and certainly snobbish, Slughorn is nevertheless kind
-hearted, with a fully functional conscience. In his final test, Slughorn revealed himself to be implacably opposed to the Dark Arts. When his bravery at the Battle of Hogwarts was publicised, his actions (along with those of Regulus Black, which
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