A motherly-looking Healer wearing a tinsel wreath in her hair came bustling up the corridor, smiling warmly at Harry and the others.

Oh, Gilderoy, youve got visitors! How lovely, and on Christmas Day, too! Do you know, he never gets visitors, poor lamb, and I cant think why, hes such a sweetie, arent you?

Were doing autographs! Gilderoy told the Healer with another glittering smile. They want loads of them, wont take no for an answer! I just hope weve got enough photographs!

Listen to him, said the Healer, taking Lockharts arm and beaming fondly at him as though he were a precocious two-year-old. He was rather well known a few years ago; we very much hope that this liking for giving autographs is a sign that his memory might be starting to come back. Will you step this way? Hes in a closed ward, you know, he must have slipped out while I was bringing in the Christmas presents, the doors usually kept locked not that hes dangerous! But, she lowered her voice to a whisper, hes a bit of a danger to himself, bless him doesnt know who he is, you see, wanders off and cant remember how to get back it is nice of you to have come to see him.

Er, said Ron, gesturing uselessly at the floor above, actually, we were juster

But the Healer was smiling expectantly at them, and Rons feeble mutter of going to have a cup of tea trailed away into nothingness. They looked at each other helplessly, then followed Lockhart and his Healer along the corridor.

Lets not stay long, Ron said quietly.

The Healer pointed her wand at the door of the Janus Thickey Ward and muttered, Alohomora. The door swung open and she led the way inside, keeping a firm grasp on Gilderoys arm until she had settled him into an armchair beside his bed.

This is our long-term residents ward, she informed Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny in a low voice. For permanent spell damage, you know. Of course, with intensive remedial potions and charms and a bit of luck, we can produce some improvement. Gilderoy does seem to be getting back some sense of himself; and weve seen a real improvement in Mr. Bode, he seems to be regaining the power of speech very well, though he isnt speaking any language we recognise yet. Well, I must finish giving out the Christmas presents, Ill leave you all to chat.

Harry looked around. The ward bore unmistakeable signs of being a permanent home to its residents. They had many more personal effects around their beds than in Mr. Weasleys ward; the wall around Gilderoys headboard, for instance, was papered with pictures of himself, all beaming toothily and waving at the new arrivals. He had autographed many of them to himself in disjointed, childish writing. The moment he had been deposited in his chair by the Healer, Gilderoy pulled a fresh stack of photographs towards him, seized a quill and started signing them all feverishly.

You can put them in envelopes, he said to Ginny, throwing the signed pictures into her lap one by one as he finished them. I am not forgotten, you know, no, I still receive a very great deal of fan mail Gladys Gudgeon writes weekly I just wish I knew why He paused, looking faintly puzzled, then beamed again and returned to his signing with renewed vigour. I suspect it is simply my good looks

A sallow-skinned, mournful-looking wizard lay in the bed opposite staring at the ceiling; he was mumbling to himself and seemed quite unaware of anything around him. Two beds along was a woman whose entire head was covered in fur; Harry remembered something similar happening to Hermione during their second year, although fortunately the damage, in her case, had not been permanent. At the far end of the ward flowery curtains had been drawn around two beds to give the occupants and their visitors some privacy.

Here you are, Agnes, said the Healer brightly to the furry-faced woman, handing her a small pile of Christmas presents. See, not forgotten, are you? And your sons sent an owl to say hes visiting tonight, so thats nice, isnt it?


  1. A chill that had nothing to do with the iced champagne was stealing through Harrys chest.
  2. A dark figure came bustling toward them, and Harry saw a glint of silver to the light of their wands. They had found Gryffindors sword.
  3. A lamp flickered on. It was Hermione Granger, wearing a pink bathrobe and a frown.
  4. A mixture of gratitude and shame welled up in Harry. Had Lupin forgiven him, then, for the terrible things he had said when they had last met?
  5. A paralyzing terror filled Harry so that he couldnt move or speak. His Patronus flickered and died.
  6. A seam had split on Hermiones bag. Harry wasnt surprised; he could see that it was crammed with at least a dozen large and heavy books.
  7. A vivid image of the shrieking, spitting portrait of Siriuss mother that hung in the hall of number twelve, Grimmauld Place flashed into Harrys mind. I bet there has, he said.
  8. A whistling in Harrys ear told him the Bludger had just missed him again; he turned right over and sped in the opposite direction.
  9. A young witch with short blonde hair poked her head around the curtain; Harry saw that she too was wearing magenta staff robes.
  10. After a few minutes progress up the dark tunnel, a distant sound of slowly shifting rock reached Harrys ears.
  11. After a good nights sleep, Harry felt nearly back to normal.

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He rounded on the others, who were all keeping determinedly straight faces. | Agnes gave several loud barks.

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