Extract from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

by J.K. Rowling

But Knockturn Alley, the side street devoted to the Dark Arts, looked completely deserted. They peered into windows as they passed, but none of the shops seemed to have any customers at all. Harry supposed it was a bit of a giveaway in these dangerous and suspicious times to buy Dark artefacts – or at least, to be seen buying them.

Hermione gave his arm a hard pinch.

‘Ouch!’

‘Shh! Look! He’s in there!’ she breathed in Harry’s ear.

They had drawn level with the only shop in Knockturn Alley that Harry had ever visited: Borgin and Burkes, which sold a wide variety of sinister objects. There in the midst of the cases full of skulls and old bottles stood Draco Malfoy with his back to them, just visible beyond the very same large black cabinet in which Harry had once hidden to avoid Malfoy and his father. Judging by the movements of Malfoy’s hands he was talking animatedly. The proprietor of the shop, Mr Borgin, an oily-haired, stooping man, stood facing Malfoy. He was wearing a curious expression of mingled resentment and fear.

‘If only we could hear what they’re saying!’ said Hermione.

‘We can!’ said Ron excitedly. ‘Hang on - damn -’

He dropped a couple more of the boxes he was still clutching as he fumbled with the largest.

‘Extendable Ears, look!’

‘Fantastic!’ said Hermione, as Ron unravelled the long, flesh-coloured strings and began to feed them towards the bottom of the door. ‘Oh, I hope the door isn’t imperturbable -’

‘No!’ said Ron gleefully. ‘Listen!’

They put their heads together and listened intently to the ends of the strings, through which Malfoy’s voice could be heard loud and clear, as though a radio had been turned on.

‘... you know how to fix it?’

‘Possibly,’ said Borgin, in a tone that suggested he was unwilling to commit himself. ‘I’ll need to see it, though. Why don’t you bring it into the shop?’

‘I can’t,’ said Malfoy. ‘It’s got to stay put. I just need you to tell me how to do it.’

Harry saw Borgin lick his lips nervously.

‘Well, without seeing it, I must say it will be a very difficult job, perhaps impossible. I couldn’t guarantee anything.’

‘No?’ said Malfoy and Harry knew, just by his tone, that Malfoy was sneering. ‘Perhaps this will make you more confident.’

He moved towards Borgin and was blocked from view by the cabinet. Harry, Ron and Hermione shuffled sideways to try and keep him in sight, but all they could see was Borgin, looking very frightened.

‘Tell anyone,’ said Malfoy, ‘and there will be retribution. You know Fenrir Greyback? He’s a family friend, he’ll be dropping in from time to time to make sure you’re giving the problem your full attention.’

‘There will be no need for -’

‘I’ll decide that,’ said Malfoy. ‘Well, I’d better be off. And don’t forget to keep that one safe, I’ll need it.’

‘Perhaps you’d like to take it now?’

‘No, of course I wouldn’t, you stupid little man, how would I look carrying that down the street? Just don’t sell it.’

‘Of course not ... sir.’

Borgin made a bow as deep as the one Harry had once seen him give Lucius Malfoy.

‘Not a word to anyone, Borgin, and that includes my mother, understand?’

‘Naturally, naturally,’ murmured Borgin, bowing again.

Next moment, the bell over the door tinkled loudly as Malfoy stalked out of the shop looking very pleased with himself. He passed so close to Harry, Ron and Hermione that they felt the Cloak flutter around their knees again. Inside the shop, Borgin remained frozen; his unctuous smile had vanished; he looked worried.

‘What was that about?’ whispered Ron, reeling in the Extendable Ears.

‘Dunno,’ said Harry, thinking hard. ‘He wants something mended ... and he wants to reserve something in there ... could you see what he pointed at when he said “that one”?’

‘No, he was behind that cabinet -’

‘You two stay here,’ whispered Hermione.

‘What are you -?’

But Hermione had already ducked out from under the Cloak. She checked her hair in the reflection in the glass, then marched into the shop, setting the bell tinkling again. Ron hastily fed the Extendable Ears back under the door and passed one of the strings to Harry.

‘Hello, horrible morning, isn’t it?’ Hermione said brightly to Borgin, who did not answer, but cast her a suspicious look.

Humming cheerily, Hermione strolled through the jumble of objects on display.

‘Is this necklace for sale?’ she asked, pausing beside a glass fronted case.

‘If you’ve got one and a half thousand Galleons,’ said Borgin coldly.

‘Oh no, I haven’t got quite that much,’ said Hermione, walking on. ‘And what about this lovely, um, skull?’

‘Sixteen Galleons.’

‘So it’s for sale, then? It isn’t being kept for anyone?’ Borgin squinted at her.

Harry had the nasty feeling he knew exactly what Hermione was up to. Apparently Hermione felt she had been rumbled, too, because she suddenly threw caution to the winds.

‘The thing is, that boy who was in here just now, Draco Malfoy, well, he’s a friend of mine, and I want to get him a birthday present, but if he’s already reserved anything I obviously don’t want to get him the same thing, so ... um ...’

It was a pretty lame story in Harry’s opinion, and apparently Borgin thought so too.

‘Out,’ he said sharply. ‘Get out!’


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By J.K. Rowling