J_K_Rowling_-_HP_5_-_Harry_Potter_and_the_Orde

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Harry Potter
AND THE ORDER OF THE
PHOENIX

also by j. k. rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer ’s Stone
Year One at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Year Two at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Year Three at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Year Four at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Year Five at Hogwarts

Harry Potter and the Half -Blood Prince
Year Six at Hogwarts
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Year Seven at Hogwarts

H arry P otter
and the Order of the
Phoenix














BY
J. K. Rowling
ILLUSTRATIONS BY M ary
G randPr й

ARTHUR A. LEVINE BOOKS
AN IMPRINT OF SCHOLASTIC Press.

T o Neil, Jessica, and David,
who make my world
magical.






Text copyright © 2003 by J. K. Rowling Illustrations by Mary Grandprй copyright © 2003 by Warner Bros. harry potter,
characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros.
Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J. K. Rowling. All rights re served. Published
by Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic Inc., Publishers since 1920.
scholastic, scholastic press, and the lantern logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,
without written permission of the publisher. For information regardin g permission, write
to Scholastic Inc., Attention: Permissions Department, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.
Library of Congress Cataloging -in-Publication Data Available

Library of Congress Control Number: 2003102525 ISBN 0 -439 -35806 -X 10 9 8 03 04 05 06 07
Printed in the U.S.A. 37
Second edition, August 2003

C
ontents
ONE
Dudley Demented · 1
TWO
A Peck of Owls · 20
THREE
The Advance Guard · 42
FOUR
Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place · 59
FIVE
The Order of the Phoenix · 79
SIX
The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black · 98
SEVEN

The Ministry of Magic · 121
EIGHT
The Hearing · 137



 vii ‘

NINE
The Woes of Mrs. Weasley · 152
TEN
Luna Lovegood · 179
ELEVEN
The Sorting Hat ’s New Song · 200
TWELVE
Professor Umbridge · 221
THIRTEEN
Detention with Dolores · 250
FOURTEEN
Percy and Padfoot · 279
FIFTEEN
The Hogwarts High Inquisitor · 306
SIXTEEN
In the Hog ’s Head · 330
SEVENTEEN
Educational Decree Number Twenty -Four · 350




 viii ‘

EIGHTEEN
Dumbledore ’s Army · 374
NINETEEN
The Lion and the Serpent · 397
TWENTY
Hagrid ’s Tale · 420
TWENTY -ONE
The Eye of the Snake · 441
TWENTY -TWO
St. Mungo ’s Hospital for Magical
Maladies and Injuries · 466
TWENTY -Three
Christmas on the Closed Ward · 492
TWENTY -FOUR
Occlumency · 516
TWENTY -FIVE
The Beetle at Bay · 543
TWENTY -SIX
Seen and Unforeseen · 570




 ix ‘

TWENTY -SEVEN
The Centaur and the Sneak · 599
TWENTY -EIGHT
Snape ’s Worst Memory · 624
TWENTY -NINE
Career Advice · 651
THIRTY
Grawp · 676
THIRTY -ONE
O.W.L.s · 703
THIRTY -TWO
Out of the Fire · 729
THIRTY -THREE
Fight and Flight · 751
THIRTY -FOUR
The Department of Mysteries · 764
THIRTY -FIVE
Beyond the Veil · 781




 x ‘

THIRTY -SIX
The Only One He Ever Feared · 807
THIRTY -SEVEN
The Lost Prophecy · 820
THIRTY -EIGHT
The Second War Begins · 845























 xi ‘

Harry Potter
And the Order OF Phoenix

C H A P T E R O N E









DUDLEY
DEMENTED





he hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a
drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet
T

Drive. Cars that were usually gleaming stood dusty in their drives and
lawns that were once emerald green lay parched and yellowing; the use
of hosepipes had been banned due to drought. Deprived of their usual
car -washing and lawn -mowing pursuits, the inha bitants of Privet Drive
had retreated into the shade of their cool houses, windows thrown wide
in the hope of tempting in a nonexistent breeze. The only person left
outdoors was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flower
bed outside number fo ur.

He was a skinny, black -haired, bespectacled boy who had the pinched,
slightly unhealthy look of someone who has grown a lot in a short space
of time. His jeans were torn and dirty, his T -shirt baggy and faded, and
the soles of his trainers were peeli ng away from the up - pers. Harry
Potter ’s appearance did not endear him to the neighbors, who were the
sort of people who thought scruffiness ought to be pun - ishable by law,
but as he had hidden himself behind a large hydrangea bush this evening
he was qu ite invisible to passersby. In fact, the only
 1 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

way he would be spotted was if his Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia stuck
their heads out of the living room window and looked straight down into
the flower bed below.
On the whole, Harry thought he was to be congratulated on his idea of
hiding here. He was not, perhaps, very comfortable lying on the hot,
hard earth, but on the other hand, nobody was glaring at him, grinding
their teeth s o loudly that he could not hear the news, or shooting nasty
questions at him, as had happened every time he had tried sitting down
in the living room and watching television with his aunt and uncle.
Almost as though this thought had fluttered through th e open win - dow,
Vernon Dursley, Harry ’s uncle, suddenly spoke. “Glad to see the boy ’s
stopped trying to butt in. Where is he anyway? ”
“I don ’t know, ” said Aunt Petunia unconcernedly. “Not in the house. ”
Uncle Vernon grunted.
“ Watching the news . . . ” he said scathingly. “I’d like to know what
he ’s really up to. As if a normal boy cares what ’s on the news — Dud - ley
hasn ’t got a clue what ’s going on, doubt he knows who the Prime
Minister is! Anyway, it ’s not as if there ’d be anything about his lot on
our news — ”
“Vernon, shh !” said Aunt Petunia. “The window ’s open! ”
“Oh — yes — sorry, dear . . . ”
The Dursleys fell silent. Harry listened to a jingle about Fruit ’N Bran
breakfast cereal whil e he watched Mrs. Figg, a batty, cat -loving old lady
from nearby Wisteria Walk, amble slowly past. She was frowning and
muttering to herself. Harry was very pleased that he was concealed
behind the bush; Mrs. Figg had recently taken to asking him around for
tea whenever she met him in the street. She had rounded the corner and
vanished from view before Uncle Vernon ’s voice floated out of the
window again.
 2 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

“Dudders out for tea? ”
“At the Polkisses ’,” said Aunt Petunia fondly. “He ’s got so many lit - tle
friends, he ’s so popular . . . ”
Harry repressed a snort with difficulty. The Dursleys really were as -
tonishingly stupid about their son, Dudley; they had swallowed all his
dim -witted lies about having tea with a different member of his gang
every night of the summer holidays. Harry knew perfectly well that
Dudley had not been to tea anywhere; he and his gang spent every
evening vandalizing the play park, smoking on street co rners, and
throwing stones at passing cars and children. Harry had seen them at it
during his evening walks around Little Whinging; he had spent most of
the holidays wandering the streets, scavenging newspapers from bins
along the way.
The opening notes of the music that heralded the seven o ’clock news
reached Harry ’s ears and his stomach turned over. Perhaps tonight —
after a month of waiting — would be the night — “Record numbers of
stranded holidaymakers fill airports as the Spanish baggage -handlers ’
strike reaches its second week — ” “Give ’em a lifelong siesta, I would, ”
snarled Uncle Vernon over the end of the newsreader ’s sentence, but no
matter: Outside in the flower bed, Harry ’s stomach seemed to unclench.
If anything had happened, it would surel y have been the first item on the
news; death and de - struction were more important than stranded
holidaymakers. . . .
He let out a long, slow breath and stared up at the brilliant blue sky.
Every day this summer had been the same: the tension, the expe cta - tion,
the temporary relief, and then mounting tension again . . . and
always, growing more insistent all the time, the question of why noth -
ing had happened yet. . . .
He kept listening, just in case there was some small clue, not rec - ognized
for what it really was by the Muggles — an unexplained disappearance,
perhaps, or some strange accident . . . but the
 3 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

baggage -handlers ’ strike was followed by news on the drought in the
Southeast ( “I hope he ’s listening next door! ” bellowed Uncle Vernon,
“with his sprinklers on at three in the morning! ”); then a helicopter that
had almost crashed in a field in Surrey, then a famous actress ’s di - vorce
from her famous husband ( “as if we ’re interested in their sordid affairs, ”
sniffed Aunt Petunia, who had followed the case obsessively in every
magazine she could lay her bony hands on).
Harry closed his eyes against the now blazing evening sky as the
newsreader said, “And finally, Bungy the budgie has found a novel way
of keeping cool this summer. Bungy, who lives at the Five Feath - ers in
Barnsley, has learned to water -ski! Mary Dorkins went to find out
more. . . . ”
Harry opened his eyes again. If they had reached water -skiing
budgerigar s, there was nothing else worth hearing. He rolled cau - tiously
onto his front and raised himself onto his knees and elbows, preparing
to crawl out from under the window.
He had moved about two inches when several things happened in very
quick succession.
A loud, echoing crack broke the sleepy silence like a gunshot; a cat
streaked out from under a parked car and flew out of sight; a shriek, a
bellowed oath, and the sound of breaking china came from the Durs -
leys ’ living room, and as though Harry had been waiting for this signal,
he jumped to his feet, at the same time pulling from the waist - band of
his jeans a thin wooden wand as if he were unsheathing a sword. But
before he could draw himself up to full height, the top of his head
collided with the Dursleys ’ open window, and the resultant crash made
Aunt Petunia scream even louder.
Harry felt as if his head had been split in two; eyes streaming, he swayed,
trying to focus on the street and spot the source of t he noise, but he had
barely staggered upright again when two large purple hands reached
through the open window and closed tightly around his throat.
 4 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

“ Put — it — away !”
Uncle Vernon snarled into Harry ’s ear. “ Now !
Before — anyone — sees !”
“Get — off — me! ” Harry gasped; for a few seconds they strug - gled,
Harry pulling at his uncle ’s sausage -like fingers with his left hand, his
right maintaining a firm grip on h is raised wand. Then, as the pain in the
top of Harry ’s head gave a particularly nasty throb, Un - cle Vernon
yelped and released Harry as though he had received an electric shock —
some invisible force seemed to have surged through his nephew, making
him i mpossible to hold.
Panting, Harry fell forward over the hydrangea bush, straightened up,
and stared around. There was no sign of what had caused the loud
cracking noise, but there were several faces peering through various
nearby windows. Harry stuffed hi s wand hastily back into his jeans and
tried to look innocent.
“Lovely evening! ” shouted Uncle Vernon, waving at Mrs. Number
Seven, who was glaring from behind her net curtains. “Did you hear that
car backfire just now? Gave Petunia and me quite a turn! ”
He continued to grin in a horrible, manic way until all the curious
neighbors had disappeared from their various windows, then the grin
became a grimace of rage as he beckoned Harry back toward him. Harry
moved a few steps closer, taking care to stop ju st short of the point at
which Uncle Vernon ’s outstretched hands could resume their strangling.
“What the devil do you mean by it, boy? ” asked Uncle Vernon in a
croaky voice that trembled with fury.
“What do I mean by what? ” said Harry coldly. He kept looking left and
right up the street, still hoping to see the person who had made the
cracking noise.
“Making a racket like a starting pistol right outside our — ” “I
didn ’t make that noise, ” said Harry firmly.
Aunt Petunia ’s t hin, horsey face now appeared beside Uncle Ver - non ’s
wide, purple one. She looked livid.
 5 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

“Why were you lurking under our window? ”
“Yes — yes, good point, Petunia! What were you doing under our
window, boy ?”
“Listening to the news, ” said Harry in a resigned voice.
His aunt and uncle exchanged looks of outrage.
“Listening to the news! Again ?”
“Well, it changes every day, you see, ” said Harry. “Don ’t you be
clever with me, boy! I want to know what you ’re re -
ally up to — and don ’t give me any more of this listening to the news
tosh! You know perfectly well that your lot . . . ”
“Careful, Vernon! ” breathed Aunt Petunia, and Uncle Vernon low -
ered his voice so that Harry could barely hear him, “. . . that your lot
don ’t get on our news! ”
“That ’s all you know, ” said Harry.
The Dursleys goggled at him for a few seconds, then Aunt Petunia said,
“You ’re a nasty little liar. What are all those — ” she too lowered
her voice so that Harry had to lip -read the next word, “— owls —
doing if they ’re not bringing you news? ”
“Aha! ” said Uncle Vernon in a triumphant whisper. “Get out of that one,
boy! As if we didn ’t know you get all your news from t hose pesti - lential
birds! ”
Harry hesitated for a moment. It cost him something to tell the truth this
time, even though his aunt and uncle could not possibly know how bad
Harry felt at admitting it.
“The owls . . . aren ’t bringing me news, ” said Harry tonelessly. “I
don ’t believe it, ” said Aunt Petunia at once.
“No more do I, ” said Uncle Vernon forcefully.
“We know you ’re up to something funny, ” said Aunt Petunia.
“We ’re not stupid, you know, ” said Uncle Vernon.
“Well, that ’s news to me, ” said Harry, his temper rising, and before
the Dursleys could call him back, he had wheeled about, crossed the
 6 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

front lawn, stepped over the low garden wall, and was striding off up the
street.
He was in trouble now and he knew it. He would have to face his aunt
and uncle later and pay the price for his rudeness, but he did not care
very much just at the moment; he had much more pressing mat - ters on
his mind.
Harry was sure that the cracking noise had been made by someone
Apparating or Disapparating. It was exactly the sound Dobby the
house -elf made when he vanished into thin air. Was it possible that
Dobby was here in Privet Drive? Could Dobby be following him right at
this very moment? As this thought occurred he wheeled around and
stared back down Privet Drive, but it appeared to be completely de -
serted again and Harry was sure that Dobby did not know how to
become invisible. . . .
He walked on, hardly awar e of the route he was taking, for he had
pounded these streets so often lately that his feet carried him to his fa -
vorite haunts automatically. Every few steps he glanced back over his
shoulder. Someone magical had been near him as he lay among Aunt
Petun ias dying begonias, he was sure of it. Why hadn ’t they spoken to
him, why hadn ’t they made contact, why were they hiding now?
And then, as his feeling of frustration peaked, his certainty leaked away.
Perhaps it hadn ’t been a magical sound after all. Perhaps he was so
desperate for the tiniest sign of contact from the world to which he
belonged that he was simply overreacting to perfectly ordinary noises.
Could he be sure it hadn ’t been the sound of something brea king in -
side a neighbor ’s house?
Harry felt a dull, sinking sensation in his stomach and, before he knew it,
the feeling of hopelessness that had plagued him all summer rolled over
him once again. . . .
Tomorrow morning he would be awoken by the alarm at five
 7 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

o’clock so that he could pay the owl that delivered the Daily
Prophet — but was there any point in continuing to take it? Harry
merely glanced at the front page before throwing it aside these days;
when the idiots who ran the paper finally realized that Voldemort was
back it would be headline news, and that was the only kind Harry cared
about.
If he was lucky, there would also b e owls carrying letters from his best
friends, Ron and Hermione, though any expectation he had had that
their letters would bring him news had long since been dashed.
“ We can ’t say
much about you -know -what, obviously . . . . ” “ We ’ve been
told not to say anything important in case our letters go astray. . . . ”
“ We ’re quite busy
but I can ’t give you details here . . . . ” “ There ’s a fair
amount going on, we ’ll tell you everything when we see you . . . . ”
But when were they going to see him? Nobody seemed too both -
ered with a precise date. Hermione had scribbled, “I expect we ’ll be see -
ing you quite soon ” inside his birthday card, but how soon was soon? As
far as Harry could tell from the vague hints in their letters, Hermione
and Ron were in the same place, presumably at Ron ’s parents ’ house. He
could hardly bear to think of the pair of them having fun at the Burrow
when he was stuck in Privet Drive. In fact, he was so angry at them that
he had thrown both their birthday presen ts of Honeydukes chocolates
away unopened, though he had regretted this after eating the wilting
salad Aunt Petunia had provided for dinner that night. And what were
Ron and Hermione busy with? Why wasn ’t he, Harry, busy? Hadn ’t he
proved himself capable o f handling much more than they? Had they all
forgotten what he had done? Hadn ’t it
been he who had entered that graveyard and watched Cedric being
murdered and been tied to that tombstone and nearly killed . . . ?
Don ’t think about that, Harry told himself sternly for the hundredth
time that summer. It was bad enough that he kept revisiting the grave -
yard in his nightmares, without dwelling on it in his waking moments
too.

 8 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

He turned a corner into Magnolia Crescent; halfway along he passed the
narrow alleyway down the side of a garage where he had first clapped
eyes on his godfather. Sirius, at least, seemed to under - stand how Harry
was feeling; admittedly his letters were j ust as empty of proper news as
Ron and Hermione ’s, but at least they contained words of caution and
consolation instead of tantalizing hints:
“ I know this must be
frustrating for you . . . . ” “ Keep your nose clean
and everything will be okay . . . . ” “ Be careful and don ’t do anything
rash . . . . ”
Well, thought Harry, as he crossed Magnolia Crescent, turned into
Magnolia Road, and headed toward the darkening play park, he had (by
and large) done as Sirius advised; he had at least resisted the temp - tation
to tie his trunk to his broomstick and set off for the Burrow by himself.
In fact Harry thought his behavior had been very good considering how
frustrated and angry he felt at being stuck in Privet Drive this long,
reduced to hiding in flower beds in the hope of hear - ing something that
might point to what Lord Voldemort was doing. Nevertheless, it was
quite galling to be told not to be rash by a man who had served twelve
years in the wizard prison, Azkaban, escaped, attempted to commit the
murder h e had been convicted for in the first place, then gone on the run
with a stolen hippogriff. . . .
Harry vaulted over the locked park gate and set off across the parched
grass. The park was as empty as the surrounding streets. When he
reached the swings he sank onto the only one that Dudley and his
friends had not yet managed to break, coiled one arm around the chain,
and stared moodily at the ground. He would not be able to hide in the
Dursleys ’ flower bed again. Tomorrow he would have to think of some
fresh way of listening to the news. In the meantime, he had nothing to
look forward to but another restless, disturbed night, because even when
he escaped nightmares about Cedric he had unset - tling dreams about
long dark corridors, all finishing in dead en ds and locked doors, which
he supposed had something to do with the

 9 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

trapped feeling he had when he was awake. Often the old scar on his
forehead prickled uncomfortably, but he did not fool himself that Ron
or Hermione or Sirius would find that very interesting any - more. . . . In
the past his scar hurting had warned that Voldemort was getting
stronger again, but now that Voldemort was back they would probably
remind him that its regular irritation was on ly to be ex - pected. . . .
Nothing to worry about . . . old news . . .
The injustice of it all welled up inside him so that he wanted to yell with
fury. If it hadn ’t been for him, nobody would even have known
Voldemort was back! And his reward was to be s tuck in Little Whing -
ing for four solid weeks, completely cut off from the magical world,
reduced to squatting among dying begonias so that he could hear about
water -skiing budgerigars! How could Dumbledore have forgot - ten him
so easily? Why had Ron and Hermione got together without inviting him
along too? How much longer was he supposed to endure Sirius telling
him to sit tight and be a good boy; or resist the tempta -
tion to write to the stupid Daily Prophet and point out that Volde -
mort had return ed? These furious thoughts whirled around in Harry ’s
head, and his insides writhed with anger as a sultry, velvety night fell
around him, the air full of the smell of warm, dry grass and the only
sound that of the low grumble of traffic on the road beyond the park
railings.
He did not know how long he had sat on the swing before the sound of
voices interrupted his musings and he looked up. The street - lamps from
the surrounding roads were casting a misty glow strong enough to
silhouette a group of people m aking their way across the park. One of
them was singing a loud, crude song. The others were laughing. A soft
ticking noise came from several expensive racing bikes that they were
wheeling along.
Harry knew who those people were. The figure in front was unmis -
takably his cousin, Dudley Dursley, wending his way home, accom -
panied by his faithful gang.
 10 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

Dudley was as vast as ever, but a year ’s hard dieting and the discov - ery
of a new talent had wrought quite a change in his physique. As Uncle
Vernon delightedly told anyone who would listen, Dudley had recently
become the Junior Heavyweight Inter -School Boxing Cham - pion of the
Southeast. “The noble sport, ” as Uncle Vernon called it, had made
Dudley even more formidable than he had seemed to Harry in the
primary school days when he had served as Dudley ’s first punching bag.
Harry was not remotely afraid of his cousin anymore but he still didn ’t
think that Dudley learning t o punch harder and more accurately was
cause for celebration. Neighborhood children all around were terrified
of him — even more terrified than they were of “that Potter boy, ” who,
they had been warned, was a hardened hooli - gan who attended St.
Brutus ’s Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys.
Harry watched the dark figures crossing the grass and wondered
whom they had been beating up tonight. Look round, Harry found
himself thinking as he watched them. Come on . . . look round . . . I ’m
sitting here all alone. . . . Come and have ago. . . .
If Dudley ’s friends saw him sitting here, they would be sure to make a
beeline for him, and what would Dudley do then? He wouldn ’t want to
lose face in front of the gang, but he ’d be terrified of pro voking
Harry. . . . It would be really fun to watch Dudley ’s dilemma; to taunt
him, watch him, with him powerless to respond
. . . and if any of the others tried hitting Harry, Harry was ready — he
had his wand . . . let them try . . . He ’d love to vent some of his frus -
tration on the boys who had once made his life hell —
But they did not turn around, they did not see him, they were al - most at
the railings. Harry mastered the impulse to call after them.
. . . Seeking a fight was not a smart move. . . . He must not use magic. . . .
He would be risking expulsion again. . . .
Dudley ’s gang ’s voices died; they were out of sight, heading along
Magnolia Road.
 11 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

There you go, Sirius, Harry thought dully. Nothing rash. Kept my
nose clean. Exactly the opposite of what you ’d have done . . .
He got to his feet and stretched. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon
seemed to feel that whenever Dudley turned up was the right time to be
home, and anytime after that wa s much too late. Uncle Vernon had
threatened to lock Harry in the shed if he came home after Dudley again,
so, stifling a yawn, still scowling, Harry set off toward the park gate.
Magnolia Road, like Privet Drive, was full of large, square houses with
perfectly manicured lawns, all owned by large, square owners who drove
very clean cars similar to Uncle Vernon ’s. Harry preferred Little
Whinging by night, when the curtained windows made patches of
jewel -bright colors in the darkness and he ran no da nger of hearing
disapproving mutters about his “delinquent ” appearance when he
passed the householders. He walked quickly, so that halfway along
Magnolia Road Dudley ’s gang came into view again; they were saying
their farewells at the entrance to Magnolia Crescent. Harry stepped into
the shadow of a large lilac tree and waited.
“. . . squealed like a pig, didn ’t he? ” Malcolm was saying, to guffaws from
the others.
“Nice right hook, Big D, ” said Piers.
“Same time tomorrow? ” said Dudley.
“Round at my place , my parents are out, ” said Gordon.
“See you then, ” said Dudley.
“Bye Dud! ”
“See ya, Big D! ”
Harry waited for the rest of the gang to move on before setting off again.
When their voices had faded once more he headed around the corner
into Magnolia Cre scent and by walking very quickly he soon came within
hailing distance of Dudley, who was strolling along at his ease, humming
tunelessly.
“Hey, Big D! ”
 12 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

Dudley turned.
“Oh, ” he grunted. “It’s you. ”
“How long have you been ‘Big D ’ then? ” said Harry.
“Shut it, ” snarled Dudley, turning away again.
“Cool name, ” said Harry, grinning and falling into step beside his cousin.
“But you ’ll always be Ickle Diddykins to me. ”
“I said, SHUT IT! ” said Dudley, whose ham -like hands had curled into
fists.
“Don ’t the boys know that ’s what your mum calls you? ”
“Shut your face. ”
“You don ’t tell her to shut her face. What about ‘popkin ’ and
‘Dinky Diddydums, ’ can I use them then? ”
Dud ley said nothing. The effort of keeping himself from hitting Harry
seemed to be demanding all his self -control.
“So who ’ve you been beating up tonight? ” Harry asked, his grin fading.
“Another ten -year -old? I know you did Mark Evans two nights ago — ”
“He was asking for it, ” snarled Dudley.
“Oh yeah? ”
“He cheeked me. ”
“Yeah? Did he say you look like a pig that ’s been taught to walk on its
hind legs? ’Cause that ’s not cheek, Dud, that ’s true . . . ”
A muscle was twitching in Dudley ’s jaw. It gave Har ry enormous
satisfaction to know how furious he was making Dudley; he felt as
though he was siphoning off his own frustration into his cousin, the only
outlet he had.
They turned right down the narrow alleyway where Harry had first seen
Sirius and which f ormed a shortcut between Magnolia Crescent and
Wisteria Walk. It was empty and much darker than the streets it linked
because there were no streetlamps. Their footsteps were muffled
between garage walls on one side and a high fence on the other.
 13 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

“Think you ’re a big man carrying that thing, don ’t you? ” Dudley said
after a few seconds.
“What thing? ”
“That — that thing you ’re hiding. ”
Harry grinned again.
“Not as stupid as you look, are you, Dud? But I s ’pose if you were, you
wouldn ’t be able to walk and talk at the same time. . . . ” Harry pulled out
his wand. He saw Dudley look sideways at it. “You ’re not allowed, ”
Dudley said at once. “I know you ’re not. Y ou ’d get expelled from that
freak school you go to. ”
“How d ’you know they haven ’t changed the rules, Big D? ” “They
haven ’t,” said Dudley, though he didn ’t sound completely convinced.
Harry laughed softly.
“You haven ’t got the guts to take me on witho ut that thing, have you? ”
Dudley snarled.
“Whereas you just need four mates behind you before you can beat up a
ten -year -old. You know that boxing title you keep banging on about?
How old was your opponent? Seven? Eight? ”
“He was sixteen for your information, ” snarled Dudley, “and he was out
cold for twenty minutes after I ’d finished with him and he was twice as
heavy as you. You just wait till I tell Dad you had that thing out — ”
“Running to Daddy now, are you? Is his ickl e boxing champ fright -
ened of nasty Harry ’s wand? ”
“Not this brave at night, are you? ” sneered Dudley.
“This is night, Diddykins. That ’s what we call it when it goes all
dark like this. ”
“I mean when you ’re in bed! ” Dudley snarled.
He had stopped walking. Harry stopped too, staring at his cousin. From
the little he could see of Dudley ’s large face, he was wearing a strangely
triumphant look.
“What d ’you mean, I ’m not brave in bed? ” said Harry, completely
 14 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

nonplussed. “What — am I supposed to be frightened of pillows or
something? ”
“I heard you last night, ” said Dudley breathlessly. “Talking in your
sleep. Moaning .”
“What d ’you mean? ” Harry said again, but there was a cold, plung - ing
sensation in his stomach. He had revisited the graveyard last night in his
dreams.
Dudley gave a harsh bark of laughter then adopted a high -pitched,
whimpering voice. “‘Don ’t kill Cedric! Don ’t kill Cedr ic! ’ Who ’s Cedric
— your boyfriend? ”
“I — you ’re lying — ” said Harry automatically. But his mouth had gone
dry. He knew Dudley wasn ’t lying — how else would he know about
Cedric?
“‘Dad! Help me, Dad! He ’s going to kill me, Dad! Boo -hoo! ’” “Shut
up, ” said Harry quietly. “Shut up, Dudley, I ’m warning you! ” “‘Come
and help me, Dad! Mum, come and help me! He ’s killed
Cedric! Dad, help me! He ’s going to — ’ Don ’t you point that thing at
me !”
Dudley backed into the alley wall. Harry was pointing the wand di - rectly
at Dudley ’s heart. Harry could feel fourteen years ’ hatred of Dudley
pounding in his veins — what wouldn ’t he give to strike now, to jinx
Dudley so thoroughly he ’d have to crawl home like an insect, struck
dumb, sprouting feelers —
“Don ’t ever talk about that again, ” Harry snarled. “D ’you under - stand
me? ”
“Point that thing somewhere else! ”
“I said, do you understand me ?”
 Point it somewhere else !”
“DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? ”
“GET THAT THING AWAY FROM — ”
Dudley gave an odd, shuddering gasp, as though he had been doused in
icy water.
 15 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

Something had happened to the night. The star -strewn indigo sky was
suddenly pitch -black and lightless — the stars, the moon, the misty
streetlamps at either end of the alley had vanished. The distant grumble
of cars and the whisper of trees had gone. The balmy evening was
suddenly piercingly, bitingly cold. They were surrounded by total,
impenetrable, silen t darkness, as though some giant hand had dropped a
thick, icy mantle over the entire alleyway, blinding them. For a split
second Harry thought he had done magic without meaning to, despite
the fact that he ’d been resisting as hard as he could — then his r eason
caught up with his senses — he didn ’t have the power to turn off the
stars. He turned his head this way and that, trying to see something, but
the darkness pressed on his eyes like a weightless veil.
Dudley ’s terrified voice broke in Harry ’s ear.
“W -what are you d -doing? St -stop it! ”
“I’m not doing anything! Shut up and don ’t move! ” “I
c-can ’t see! I ’ve g -gone blind! I — ”
“I said shut up! ”
Harry stood stock -still, turning his sightless eyes left and right. The cold
was so intense that he was shivering all over; goose bumps had erupted
up his arms, and the hairs on the back of his neck were stand - ing up —
he opened his eyes to their fullest extent, staring blankly around,
unseeing . . .
It was impossible. . . . They couldn ’t be here. . . . Not in Little
Whinging . . . He strained his ears. . . . He would hear them before he saw
them. . . .
“I’ll t -tell Dad! ” Dudley whimpered. “W -where are you? What are you
d-do — ?”
“Will you shut up? ” Harry hissed, “I’m try ing to lis — ” But he fell silent.
He had heard just the thing he had been dreading.
There was something in the alleyway apart from themselves, some -
 16 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

thing that was drawing long, hoarse, rattling breaths. Harry felt a hor -
rible jolt of dread as he stood trembling in the freezing air.
“C-cut it out! Stop doing it! I ’ll h -hit you, I swear I will! ”
“Dudley, shut — ”
WHAM !
A fist made contact with the side of Harry ’s head, lifting Harry off his
feet. Small white lights popped in front of Harry ’s eyes; for the sec - ond
time in an hour he felt as though his head had been cleaved in two; next
moment he had landed hard on the gr ound, and his wand had flown out
of his hand.
“You moron, Dudley! ” Harry yelled, his eyes watering with pain, as he
scrambled to his hands and knees, now feeling around frantically in the
blackness. He heard Dudley blundering away, hitting the alley fen ce,
stumbling.
“DUDLEY, COME BACK! YOU ’RE RUNNING RIGHT AT IT! ”
There was a horrible squealing yell, and Dudley ’s footsteps stopped. At
the same moment, Harry felt a creeping chill behind him that could
mean only one thing. There was more than one. “DUD LEY, KEEP
YOUR MOUTH SHUT! WHATEVER YOU DO, KEEP YOUR
MOUTH SHUT! Wand! ” Harry muttered franti - cally, his hands flying
over the ground like spiders. “Where ’s — wand
— come on — Lumos !”
He said the spell automatically, desperate for light to help him in his
search — and to his disbelieving relief, light flared inches from his right
hand — the wand tip had ignited. Harry snatched it up, scram - bled to
his feet, and turned around.
His stomach turned over.
A towering, hooded figure was gliding smoothly toward him, hovering
over the ground, no feet or face visible beneath its robes, sucking on the
night as it came.
Stumbling backward, Harry raised his wand.
 17 ‘

CHAPTER ONE

“ Expecto Patronum !”
A silvery wisp of vapor shot from the tip of the wand and the de - mentor
slowed, but the spell hadn ’t worked properly; tripping over his feet,
Harry retreated farther as the dementor bore down upon him,
panic fogging his brain — concentrate —
A pair of gray, slimy, scabbed hands slid from inside the dementor ’s
robes, reaching for him. A rushing noise filled Harry ’s ears.
“ Expecto Patronum !”
His voice sounded dim and distant. . . . Another wisp of silver smoke,
feebler tha n the last, drifted from the wand — he couldn ’t do it anymore,
he couldn ’t work the spell —
There was laughter inside his own head, shrill, high -pitched laugh -
ter. . . . He could smell the dementor ’s putrid, death -cold breath, fill -
ing his own lungs , drowning him — Think . . . something happy . . . .
But there was no happiness in him. . . . The dementor ’s icy fingers were
closing on his throat — the high -pitched laughter was growing
louder and louder, and a voice spoke inside his head — “ Bow to death,
Harry . . . . It might even be painless . . . . I would not know . . . . I have
never died. . . . ”
He was never going to see Ron and Hermione again — And their faces
burst clearly into his mind as he fought for breath —
“ EXPECTO PATRONUM !”
An enormous silver stag erupted from the tip of Harry ’s wand; its antlers
caught the dementor in the place where the heart should have been; it
was thrown backward, weightless as darkness, and as the stag charged,
the dementor swooped away, batlike a nd defeated.
“THIS WAY! ” Harry shouted at the stag. Wheeling around, he sprinted
down the alleyway, holding the lit wand aloft. “DUDLEY? DUDLEY! ”
He had run barely a dozen steps when he reached them: Dudley was
curled on the ground, his arms clamped ov er his face; a second de -
 18 ‘

DUDLEY DEMENTED

mentor was crouching low over him, gripping his wrists in its slimy
hands, prizing them slowly, almost lovingly apart, lowering its hooded
head toward Dudley ’s face as though about to kiss him. . . .
“GET IT! ” Harry bellowed, and with a rushing, roaring sound, the silver
stag he had conjured came galloping back past him. The de - mentor ’s
eyeless face was barely an inch from Dudley ’s when the silver antlers
cau ght it; the thing was thrown up into the air and, like its fellow, it
soared away and was absorbed into the darkness. The stag cantered to
the end of the alleyway and dissolved into silver mist. Moon, stars, and
streetlamps burst back into life. A warm bre eze swept the alleyway.
Trees rustled in neighboring gardens and the mun - dane rumble of cars
in Magnolia Crescent filled the air again. Harry stood quite still, all his
senses vibrating, taking in the abrupt return to normality. After a
moment he became a ware that his T -shirt was stick - ing to him; he was
drenched in sweat.
He could not believe what had just happened. Dementors here, in
Little Whinging . . .
Dudley lay curled up on the ground, whimpering and shaking. Harry
bent down to see whether he was in a fit state to stand up, but then heard
loud, running footsteps behind him; instinctively raising his wand again,
he spun on his heel to face the newcomer.
Mrs. Figg, their batty old neighbor, came panting into sight. Her grizzled
gray hair was escaping from its hairnet, a clanking string shopping bag
was swinging from her wrist, and her feet were halfway out of her tartan
carpet slippers. Harry made to stow his wand hur - riedly out of sight, but

“Don ’t put it away, idio t boy! ” she shrieked. “What if there are
more of them around? Oh, I ’m going to kill Mundungus Fletcher! ”




 19 ‘

C H A P T E R T W O









A PECK OF
OWLS





hat? ” said Harry blankly.
W

“He left! ” said Mrs. Figg, wringing her hands. “Left to see
someone about a batch of cauldrons that fell off the back of a broom! I

told him I ’d flay him alive if he went, and now look! Dementors! It ’s just
lucky I put Mr. Tibbies on the case! But we haven ’t got time to stand
around! Hurry, now, we ’ve got to get you back! Oh, the trouble
this is going to cause! I will kill him! ”
“But — ”
The revelation that his batty old cat -obsessed neighbor knew what
dementors were was almost as big a shock to Harry as meeting two of
them down the alleyway. “You ’re — you ’re a witch ?”
“I’m a Squib, as Mundungus knows full well, so how on earth was I
supposed to help you fight off dementors? He left you completely
without cover when I warned him — ”
“This bloke Mundungus has been following me? Hang on — it
was him ! He Disapparated from the front of my house! ”
“Yes, yes, yes , but luckily I ’d stationed Mr. Tibbies under a car just
in case, and Mr. Tibbies came and warned me, but by the time I got
 20 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

to your house you ’d gone — and now — oh, what ’s Dumbledore go -
ing to say? You! ” she shrieked at Dudley, still supine on the alley floor.
“Get your fat bottom off the ground, quick! ”
“You know Dumbledore? ” said Harry, staring at her. “Of course I
know Dumbledore, who doesn ’t know Dumbledore?
But come on — I’ll be no help if they c ome back, I ’ve never so much
as Transfigured a teabag — ”
She stooped down, seized one of Dudley ’s massive arms in her wiz -
ened hands, and tugged.
“Get up, you useless lump, get up !”
But Dudley either could not or would not move. He was still on the
ground, trembling and ashen -faced, his mouth shut very tight. “I’ll do
it.” Harry took hold of Dudley ’s arm and heaved: With an enormous
effort he managed to hoist Dudley to his feet. Dudle y seemed to be on
the point of fainting: His small eyes were rolling in their sockets and
sweat was beading his face; the moment Harry let go of him he swayed
dangerously.
“Hurry up! ” said Mrs. Figg hysterically.
Harry pulled one of Dudley ’s massive ar ms around his own shoul - ders
and dragged him toward the road, sagging slightly under his weight. Mrs.
Figg tottered along in front of them, peering anxiously around the
corner.
“Keep your wand out, ” she told Harry, as they entered Wisteria Walk.
“Never m ind the Statute of Secrecy now, there ’s going to be hell to pay
anyway, we might as well be hanged for a dragon as an egg. Talk about
the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery . . . This was
exactly what Dumbledore was afraid of — what ’s that at the end of the
street? Oh, it ’s just Mr. Prentice. . . . Don ’t put your wand away, boy,
don ’t I keep telling you I ’m no use? ”
It was not easy to hold a wand steady and carry Dudley along at the same
time. Harry gave his cousin an impatient dig in the ri bs, but Dudley
seemed to have lost all desire for independent movement. He
 21 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

was slumped on Harry ’s shoulder, his large feet dragging along the
ground.
“Why didn ’t you tell me you ’re a Squib? ” Harry asked Mrs. Figg, panting
with the effort to keep walking. “All those times I came round your
house — why didn ’t you say anything? ”
“Dumbledore ’s orders. I was to keep an eye on you but not say any -
thing, you were too young. I ’m sorry I gave you su ch a miserable time,
but the Dursleys would never have let you come if they ’d thought you
enjoyed it. It wasn ’t easy, you know. . . . But oh my word, ” she said
tragically, wringing her hands once more, “when Dumbledore hears
about this — how could Mundungu s have left, he was supposed to be
on duty until midnight — where is he ? How am I going to tell Dum -
bledore what ’s happened, I can ’t Apparate — ”
“I’ve got an owl, you can borrow her, ” Harry groaned, wondering
whether his spine was going to snap under Dudley ’s weight. “Harry, you
don ’t understand! Dumbledore will need to act as quickly as possible, the
Ministry have their own ways of detecting un - derage magic, they ’ll know
already, you mark my words — ”
“But I was getting rid of dementors, I had to use magic — they ’re going
to be more worried what dementors were doing floating around Wisteria
Walk, surely? ”
“Oh my dear, I wish it were so but I ’m afraid — MUNDUNGUS
FLETCHER, I AM GOING TO KILL YOU! ”
There w as a loud crack and a strong smell of mingled drink and
stale tobacco filled the air as a squat, unshaven man in a tattered over -
coat materialized right in front of them. He had short bandy legs, long
straggly ginger hair, and bloodshot baggy eyes that gave him the dole - ful
look of a basset hound; he was also clutching a silvery bundle that Harry
recognized at once as an Invisibility Cloak.
“’S’ up, Figgy? ” he said, staring from Mrs. Figg to Harry and Dud - ley.
“What ’appened to staying undercover? ”
 22 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

“I’ll give you undercover! ” cried Mrs. Figg. “ Dementors, you useless,
skiving sneak thief! ”
“Dementors? ” repeated Mundungus, aghast. “Dementors here? ” “Yes,
here, you worthless pile of bat droppings, here! ” shrieked Mrs. Figg.
“Dementors attacking the boy on your watch! ” “Blimey, ” said
Mundungus weakly, looking from Mrs. Figg to Harry and back again.
“Blimey, I . . . ”
“And you off buying stolen cauldrons ! Didn ’t I tell you not to go?
Didn ’t I ?”
“I — well, I — ” Mundungus looked deeply uncomfortable. “It . . . it was
a very good business opportunity, see . . . ”
Mrs. Figg raised the arm from which her string bag dangled and
whacked Mundungus around the face and neck with it; judging by the
clanking noise it made it was full of cat food.
“Ouch — gerroff — gerroff, you mad old bat! Someone ’s gotta tell
Dumbledore! ”
“Yes — they — have! ” yelled Mrs. Figg, still swinging the bag of cat
food at every bit of Mundungus she could reach. “And — it — had —
better — be — you — and — you — can — tell — him — why — you
— weren ’t — there — to — help! ”
“Keep your ’airnet on! ” said Mundungus, his arms over his head,
cowering. “I’m going, I ’m going! ”
And with another loud crack, he vanished.
“I hope Dumbledore murders him! ” said Mrs. Figg furiously. “Now
come on, Harry, what are you waiting for? ”
Harry decided not to waste his remaining breath on pointing out that he
could barely walk under Dudley ’s bulk. He gave the semicon - scious
Dudley a heave and staggered onward.
“I’ll take you to the door, ” said Mrs. Figg, as they turned into Privet
Drive. “Just in case there are more of them around. . . . Oh my word,
what a catastrophe . . . and you had to fight them off yourself . . . and
 23 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

Dumbledore said we were to keep you from doing magic at all costs.
. . . Well, it ’s no good crying over spilled potion, I suppose . . . but the
cat ’s among the pixies now . . . ”
“So, ” Harry panted, “Dumbledore ’s . . . been having . . . me followed? ”
“Of course he has, ” said Mrs. Figg impatiently. “Did you expect him to
let you wander around on your own after what happened in June? Good
Lord, boy, th ey told me you were intelligent. . . . Right
. . . get inside and stay there, ” she said as they reached number four. “I
expect someone will be in touch with you soon enough. ”
“What are you going to do? ” asked Harry quickly.
“I’m going straight home, ” said Mrs. Figg, staring around the dark street
and shuddering. “I’ll need to wait for more instructions. Just stay in the
house. Good night. ”
“Hang on, don ’t go yet! I want to know — ”
But Mrs. Figg had already set off at a trot, carpet slippers floppi ng, string
bag clanking.
“Wait! ” Harry shouted after her; he had a million questions to ask
anyone who was in contact with Dumbledore; but within seconds Mrs.
Figg was swallowed by the darkness. Scowling, Harry readjusted Dudley
on his shoulder and made his slow, painful way up number four ’s garden
path.
The hall light was on. Harry stuck his wand back inside the waist - band
of his jeans, rang the bell, and watched Aunt Petunia ’s outline grow
larger and larger, oddly distorted by the rippling glass in the front door.
“Diddy! About time too, I was getting quite — quite — Diddy,
what ’s the matter ?”
Harry looked sideways at Dudley and ducked out from under his arm
just in time. Dudley swayed for a moment on the spot, his face pale
green, then he opened his mouth at last and vomited all over the
doormat.
 24 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

“DIDDY! Diddy, what ’s the matter with you? Vernon? VERNON! ”
Harry ’s uncle came galumphing out of the living room, walrus mus -
tache blowing hither and thither as it always did when he was agitated.
He hurried forward to help Aunt Petunia negotiate a weak -kneed
Dudley over the threshold while avoiding stepping in the pool of sick.
“He ’s ill, Vernon! ”
“What is it, son? What ’s happened? Did Mrs. Polkiss give you something
foreign for tea? ”
“Why are you all covered in dirt, darling? Have you been lying on the
ground? ”
“Hang on — you haven ’t been mugged, have you, son? ”
Aunt Petunia screamed.
“Phone the police, Vernon! Phone the police! Diddy, darling, speak to
Mummy! What did they do to you? ”
In all the kerfuffle, nobody seemed to have noticed Harry, which suited
him perfectly. He managed to slip inside just before Uncle Ver - non
slammed the door and while the Dursleys made their noisy progress
down the hall toward the kitchen, Harry moved carefully and quietly
toward the stairs.
“Who did it, son? Give us names. We ’ll get them, don ’t worry. ” “Shh!
He ’s trying to say something, Vernon! What is it, Diddy? Tell Mummy! ”
Harry ’s foot was on the bottommost stair when Dudley found his voice.
“ Him. ”
Harry froze, foot on the stair, face screwed up, braced for the explosion.
“BOY! COM E HERE! ”
With a feeling of mingled dread and anger, Harry removed his foot
slowly from the stair and turned to follow the Dursleys.
The scrupulously clean kitchen had an oddly unreal glitter after the
darkness outside. Aunt Petunia was ushering Dudley in to a chair; he
 25 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

was still very green and clammy looking. Uncle Vernon was standing in
front of the draining board, glaring at Harry through tiny, nar - rowed
eyes.
“What have you done to my son? ” he said in a menacing growl.
“Nothing, ” said Harry, knowing perfectly well that Uncle Vernon
wouldn ’t believe him.
“What did he do to you, Diddy? ” Aunt Petunia said in a quavering voice,
now sponging sick from the front of Dudley ’s leather jacket.
“Was it — was it you -know -what, darling? Did he use — his thing ?”
Slowly, tremulously, Dudley nodded.
“I didn ’t!” Harry said sharply, as Aunt Petunia let out a wail and Uncle
Vernon raised his fists. “I didn ’t do anything to him, it wasn ’t me, it was
— ”
But at that precise moment a screech owl swooped in through the
kitchen window. Narrowly missing the top of Uncle Vernon ’s head, it
soared across the kitchen, dropped the large parchment envelope it was
carrying in its beak at Harry ’s feet, and turne d gracefully, the tips of its
wings just brushing the top of the fridge, then zoomed outside again and
off across the garden.
“OWLS! ” bellowed Uncle Vernon, the well -worn vein in his tem - ple
pulsing angrily as he slammed the kitchen window shut. “OWLS
AGAIN! I WILL NOT HAVE ANY MORE OWLS IN MY
HOUSE! ”
But Harry was already ripping open the envelope and pulling out the
letter inside, his heart pounding somewhere in the region of his Adam ’s
apple.

Dear Mr. Potter,
We have received intelligence that you performed the Pa -
tronus Charm at twenty -three minutes past nine this evening in
a Muggle -inhabited area and in the presence of a Muggle. The
severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reason -
 26 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

able Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your ex -
pulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Ministry representatives will be calling at your place of resi -
dence shortly to destroy your wand.
As you have already received an official warning for a previous
offense under section 13 of the International Con - federation
of Wizards ’ Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that
your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing at the
Ministry of Magic at 9 a.m. on August 12th.
Hoping you are well,
Yours sincerely,



improper use of magic office
Ministry of Magic

Harry read the letter through twice. He was only vaguely aware of Uncle
Vernon and Aunt Petunia talking in the vicinity. Inside his head, all was
icy and numb. One fact had penetrated his conscious - ness like a
paralyzing dart. He was expelled from Hogwarts. It was all over. He was
never going back.
He looked up at th e Dursleys. Uncle Vernon was purple -faced, shouting,
his fists still raised; Aunt Petunia had her arms around Dud - ley, who
was retching again.
Harry ’s temporarily stupefied brain seemed to reawaken. Ministry
representatives will be calling at your plac e of residence shortly to destroy
your wand. There was only one thing for it. He would have to run —
now. Where he was going to go, Harry didn ’t know, but he was certain
of one thing: At Hogwarts or outside it, he needed his wand. In an
almost dreamlike state, he pulled his wand out and turned to leave the
kitchen.
 27 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

“Where d ’you think you ’re going? ” yelled Uncle Vernon. When Harry
didn ’t reply, he pounded across the kitchen to block the door - way into
the hall. “I haven ’t finished with you, boy! ”
“Get out of the way, ” said Harry quietly.
“You ’re going to stay here and explain how my son — ” “If you don ’t get
out of the way I ’m going to jinx you, ” said Harry, raising the wand.
“You can ’t pull that one on me! ” snarled Uncle Vernon. “I know you ’re
not allowed to use it outside that madhouse you call a school! ” “The
madhouse has chucked me out, ” said Harry. “So I can do whatever I like.
You ’ve got three seconds. One — two — ”
A reso unding CRACK filled the kitchen; Aunt Petunia screamed,
Uncle Vernon yelled and ducked, but for the third time that night Harry
was staring for the source of a disturbance he had not made. He spotted
it at once: A dazed and ruffled -looking barn owl was sitting outside on
the kitchen sill, having just collided with the closed window.
Ignoring Uncle Vernon ’s anguished yell of “OWLS! ” Harry crossed the
room at a run and wrenched the window open again. The owl stuck out
its leg, to which a small roll of p archment was tied, shook its feathers,
and took off the moment Harry had pulled off the letter. Hands shaking,
Harry unfurled the second message, which was writ - ten very hastily and
blotchily in black ink.

Harry —
Dumbledore ’s just arrived at the Ministry, and he ’s trying to sort it all out.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR AUNT AND UNCLE ’S HOUSE.
DO NOT DO ANY MORE MAGIC.
DO NOT SURRENDER YOUR WAND.



 28 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

Dumbledore was trying to sort it all out. . . . What did that mean? How
much power did Dumbledore have to override the Ministry of Magic?
Was there a chance that he might be allowed back to Hog - warts, then?
A small shoot of hope burgeoned in Harry ’s chest , almost immediately
strangled by panic — how was he supposed to refuse to surrender his
wand without doing magic? He ’d have to duel with the Ministry
representatives, and if he did that, he ’d be lucky to escape Azkaban, let
alone expulsion.
His mind wa s racing. . . . He could run for it and risk being cap - tured by
the Ministry, or stay put and wait for them to find him here. He was
much more tempted by the former course, but he knew that Mr. Weasley
had his best interests at heart . . . and, after all, Dumble - dore had sorted
out much worse than this before. . . .
“Right, ” Harry said, “I’ve changed my mind, I ’m staying. ” He flung
himself down at the kitchen table and faced Dudley and Aunt Petunia.
The Dursleys appeared taken aback at his abrupt chang e of mind. Aunt
Petunia glanced despairingly at Uncle Vernon. The vein in Uncle
Vernon ’s purple temple was throbbing worse than ever.
“Who are all these ruddy owls from? ” he growled. “The first one was
from the Ministry of Magic, expelling me, ” said Harry calmly; he was
straining his ears to catch noises outside in case the Ministry
representatives were approaching, and it was easier and quieter to
answer Uncle Vernon ’s questions than to have him start rag - ing and
bellowing. “The second one was from my friend Ron ’s dad, he works at
the Ministry. ”
“ Ministry of Magic ?” bellowed Uncle Vernon. “People like you in
government ? Oh this explains everything, everything, no wonder the
country ’s going to the dogs. . . . ”
When Harry did not respond, Uncl e Vernon glared at him, then spat,
“And why have you been expelled? ”
 29 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

“Because I did magic. ”
“AHA! ” roared Uncle Vernon, slamming his fist down on the top of the
fridge, which sprang open; several of Dudley ’s low -fat snacks top -
pled out and burst on the floor. “So you admit it! What did you do to
Dudley ?”
“Nothing, ” said Harry, slightly less calmly. “That wasn ’t me — ”
“Was ,” muttered Dudley unexpectedly, and Uncle Vernon and
Aunt Petunia instantly made flapping gestures at Harry to quiet him
while they both bent low over Dudley.
“Go on, son, ” said Uncle Vernon, “what did he do? ”
“Tell us, darling, ” whispered Aunt Petunia.
“Pointed his wand at me, ” Dudley mumbled.
“Yeah, I did, but I didn ’t use — ” Harry began angrily, but . . . “SHUT
UP! ” roared Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia in unison. “Go on, son, ”
repeated Uncle Vernon, mustache blowing about furiously.
“All dark, ” Dudle y said hoarsely, shuddering. “Everything dark.
And then I h -heard . . . things. Inside m -my head . . . ”
Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia exchanged looks of utter horror. If
their least favorite thing in the world was magic, closely followed by
neighbors who cheated more than they did on the hosepipe ban, people
who heard voices were definitely in the bottom ten. They ob - viously
thought Dudley was losing his mind.
“What sort of things did you hear, popkin? ” breathed Aunt Petu - nia,
very white -faced and with tears in her eyes.
But Dudley seemed incapable of saying. He shuddered again and shook
his large blond head, and despite the sense of numb dread that had
settled on Harry since the arrival of the first owl, he felt a certain
curiosity. De mentors caused a person to relive the worst moments of
their life. . . . What would spoiled, pampered, bullying Dudley have been
forced to hear?
“How come you fell over, son? ” said Uncle Vernon in an unnatu -
 30 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

rally quiet voice, the kind of voice he would adopt at the bedside of a
very ill person.
“T-tripped, ” said Dudley shakily. “And then — ” He gestured at his
massive chest. Harry understood: Dudley was re - membering the
clammy cold that filled the lungs as hope and happi - ness were sucked
out of you.
“Horrible, ” croaked Dudley. “Cold. Really cold. ” “Okay, ” said Uncle
Vernon in a voice of forced calm, while Aunt Petunia laid an anxious
hand on Dudley ’s fo rehead to feel his temper - ature. “What happened
then, Dudders? ”
“Felt . . . felt . . . felt . . . as if. . . as if . . . ”
“As if you ’d never be happy again, ” Harry supplied tonelessly.
“Yes, ” Dudley whispered, still trembling.
“So, ” said Uncle Vernon, voice restored to full and considerable volume
as he straightened up. “So you put some crackpot spell on my son so
he ’d hear voices and believe he was — was doomed to misery, or
something, did you? ”
“How many times do I have to tell you? ” said Harry, temper and
voice rising together. “It wasn ’t me ! It was a couple of dementors! ”
“A couple of — what ’s this codswallop? ”
“De — men — tors, ” said Harry slowly and clearly. “Two of them. ”
“And what the ruddy hell are dementors? ”
“Th ey guard the wizard prison, Azkaban, ” said Aunt Petunia. Two
seconds ’ ringing silence followed these words and then Aunt Petunia
clapped her hand over her mouth as though she had let slip a disgusting
swear word. Uncle Vernon was goggling at her. Harry ’s
brain reeled. Mrs. Figg was one thing — but Aunt Petunia ?
“How d ’you know that? ” he asked her, astonished.
Aunt Petunia looked quite appalled with herself. She glanced at Uncle
Vernon in fearful apology, then lowered her hand slightly to re - veal h er
horsey teeth.
 31 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

“I heard — that awful boy — telling her about them — years ago, ”
she said jerkily.
“If you mean my mum and dad, why don ’t you use their names? ” said
Harry loudly, but Aunt Petunia ignored him. She seemed horri - bly
flustered.
Harry was stunned. Except for one outburst years ago, in the course of
which Aunt Petunia had screamed that Harry ’s mother had been a freak,
he had never heard her mention h er sister. He was as - tounded that she
had remembered this scrap of information about the magical world for
so long, when she usually put all her energies into pretending it didn ’t
exist.
Uncle Vernon opened his mouth, closed it again, opened it once more ,
shut it, then, apparently struggling to remember how to talk, opened it
for a third time and croaked, “So — so — they — er — they — er —
they actually exist, do they — er — dementy -whatsits? ” Aunt Petunia
nodded.
Uncle Vernon looked from Aunt Petunia to Dudley to Harry as if
hoping somebody was going to shout “April Fool! ” When nobody did,
he opened his mouth yet again, but was spared the struggle to find more
words by the arrival of the third owl of the evening, which zoomed
through the still -open windo w like a feathery cannonball and landed
with a clatter on the kitchen table, causing all three of the Dursleys to
jump with fright. Harry tore a second official -looking en - velope from
the owl ’s beak and ripped it open as the owl swooped back out into the
night.
“Enough — effing — owls . . . ” muttered Uncle Vernon distract -
edly, stomping over to the window and slamming it shut again.
Dear Mr. Potter,
Further to our letter of approximately twenty -two minutes ago,
the Ministry of Magic has revised its decision to destroy your
wand forthwith. You may retain your wand until your

 32 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

disciplinary hearing on 12th August, at which time an official
decision will be taken.
Following discussions with the Headmaster of Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Ministry has agreed
that the question of your expulsion will also be decided at that
time. You should therefore consider yourself suspended from
school pending further inquiries.
With best wishes,
Yours sincerely,




improper use of magic office
Ministry of Magic

Harry read this letter through three times in quick succession. The
miserable knot in his chest loosened slightly at the thought that he was
not definitely expelled, though his fears were by no means ban - ished.
Everything seemed to hang on this hearing on the twelfth of August.
“Well? ” said Uncle Vernon, recalling Harry to his surroundings. “What
now? Have they sentenced you to anything? Do your lot have the death
penalty? ” he added as a hopeful afterthought.
“I’ve got to go to a hearing, ” said Harry.
“And they ’ll sentence you there? ”
“I suppose so. ”
“I won ’t give up hope, then, ” said Uncle Vernon nastily. “Well, if that ’s
all, ” said Harry, getting to his feet. He was desperate to be alone, to think,
perhaps to send a letter to Ron, Hermione, or Sirius.
“NO, IT RUDDY WELL IS NOT AL L! ” bellowed Uncle Vernon.
“SIT BACK DOWN! ”
 33 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

“What now ?” said Harry impatiently.
“DUDLEY! ” roared Uncle Vernon. “I want to know exactly what
happened to my son! ”
“FINE! ” yelled Harry, and in his temper, red and gold sparks shot out of
the end of his wand, still clutched in his hand. All three Durs - leys
flinched, looking terrified.
“Dudley and I were in the alleyway between Magnolia Crescent and
Wisteria Walk, ” said Ha rry, speaking fast, fighting to control his temper.
“Dudley thought he ’d be smart with me, I pulled out my wand but didn ’t
use it. Then two dementors turned up — ”
“But what ARE dementoids? ” asked Uncle Vernon furiously. “What do
they DO? ”
“I told you — they suck all the happiness out of you, ” said Harry, “and if
they get the chance, they kiss you — ”
“Kiss you? ” said Uncle Vernon, his eyes popping slightly. “Kiss
you? ”
“It’s what they call it when they suck the soul out of your mouth. ”
Aunt Petunia uttered a soft scream.
“His soul ? They didn ’t take — he ’s still got his — ”
She seized Dudley by the shoulders and shook him, as though test - ing
to see whether she could hear his soul rattling around inside him. “Of
course they didn ’t ge t his soul, you ’d know if they had, ” said Harry,
exasperated.
“Fought ’em off, did you, son? ” said Uncle Vernon loudly, with the
appearance of a man struggling to bring the conversation back onto a
plane he understood. “Gave ’em the old one -two, did you? ”
“You can ’t give a dementor the old one -two, ” said Harry through
clenched teeth.
“Why ’s he all right, then? ” blustered Uncle Vernon. “Why isn ’t he all
empty, then? ”
“Because I used the Patronus — ”
WHOOSH . With a clattering, a whirring of wings, and a soft fall of
dust, a fourth owl came shooting out of the kitchen fireplace.

 34 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

“FOR GOD ’S SAKE! ” roared Uncle Vernon, pulling great clumps of
hair out of his mustache, something he hadn ’t been driven to in a long
time. “I WILL NOT HAVE OWLS HERE, I WILL NOT
TOLERATE THIS, I TELL YOU! ”
But Harry was already pulling a roll of parchment from the owl ’s leg. He
was so convinced that this letter had to be from Dumbledore, explaining
everything — the dementors, Mrs. Figg, what the Min - istry was up to,
how he, Dumbledore, intended to sort everything out — that for the
first time in his life he was disappointed to see Sir - ius ’s handwriting.
Ignori ng Uncle Vernon ’s ongoing rant about owls and narrowing his
eyes against a second cloud of dust as the most re - cent owl took off
back up the chimney, Harry read Sirius ’s message.
Arthur’s just told us what’s
happened.
Don’t leave the house again,
whatev er you do.

Harry found this such an inadequate response to everything that had
happened tonight that he turned the piece of parchment over, looking
for the rest of the letter, but there was nothing there.
And now his temper was rising again. Wasn ’t anybody going to say
“well done ” for fighting off two dementors single -handedly? Both Mr.
Weasley and Sirius were acting as though he ’d misbehaved and they were
saving their tellings -off until they could ascertain how much damage had
been done.
“— a peck, I mean, pack of owls shooting in and out of my house and I
won ’t have it, boy, I won ’t — ”
“I can ’t stop the owls coming, ” Harry snapped, crushing Sirius ’s let - ter
in his fist.
“I want the truth about what happened tonight! ” barked Uncle Vernon.
“If it was demenders who hurt Dudley, how come you ’ve been expelled?

You did you -know -what, you ’ve admitted it! ”
Harry took a deep, steadying breath. His head was beginning to
 35 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

ache aga in. He wanted more than anything to get out of the kitchen,
away from the Dursleys.
“I did the Patronus Charm to get rid of the dementors, ” he said, forcing
himself to remain calm. “It’s the only thing that works against them. ”
“But what were dementoid s doing in Little Whinging? ” said Uncle
Vernon in tones of outrage.
“Couldn ’t tell you, ” said Harry wearily. “No idea. ” His head was
pounding in the glare of the strip lighting now. His anger was ebbing
away. He felt drained, exhausted. The Dursleys were all staring at him.
“It’s you, ” said Uncle Vernon forcefully. “It’s got something to do with
you, boy, I know it. Why else would they turn up here? Why else would
they be down that alley way? You ’ve got to be the only — the only — ”
Evidently he couldn ’t bring himself to say the word “wizard. ”
“The only you -know -what for miles. ”
“I don ’t know why they were here. . . . ”
But at these words of Uncle Vernon ’s, Harry ’s exhausted brain
ground back into action. Why had the dementors come to Little
Whinging? How could it be coincidence that they had arrived in the
alleyway where Harry was? Had they been sent? Had the Ministry of
Magic lost control of the dementors, had they deserted Azkaban and
joined Voldemort, as Dumbledore had predicted they would?
“These demembers guard some weirdos ’ prison? ” said Uncle Ver - non,
lumbering in the wake of Harry ’s train of thought.
“Yes, ” said Harry.
If only his head would stop hurting, if only he could just leave the
kitchen and get to his dark bedroom and think. . . .
“Oho! They were coming to arrest you! ” said Uncle Vernon, with the
triumphant air of a man reaching an unassailable conclusion. “That ’s it,
isn ’t it, boy? You ’re on the run from the law! ”
 36 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

“Of course I ’m not, ” said Harry, shaking his head as though to scare off
a fly, his mind racing now.
“Then why — ?”
“He must have sent them, ” said Harry quietly, more to himself than to
Uncle Vernon.
“What ’s that? Who must have sent them? ”
“Lord Voldemort, ” said Harry.
He registered dimly how strange it was that the Dursleys, who flinched,
winced, and squawked if they heard words like “wizard, ” “magic, ” or
“wand, ” could hear the name of the most evil wizard of all time without
the slightest tremor.
“Lord — hang on, ” said Uncle Vernon, his face screwed up, a look of
dawning compreh ension in his piggy eyes. “I’ve heard that name
. . . that was the one who . . . ”
“Murdered my parents, yes, ” Harry said.
“But he ’s gone, ” said Uncle Vernon impatiently, without the slight - est
sign that the murder of Harry ’s parents might be a painfu l topic to
anybody. “That giant bloke said so. He ’s gone. ”
“He ’s back, ” said Harry heavily.
It felt very strange to be standing here in Aunt Petunia ’s surgically clean
kitchen, beside the top -of -the -range fridge and the wide -screen
television, and talking calmly of Lord Voldemort to Uncle Vernon. The
arrival of the dementors in Little Whinging seemed to have caused a
breach in the great, invisible wall that divided the relentlessly
non -magical world of Privet Drive and the world beyo nd. Harry ’s two
lives had somehow become fused and everything had been turned up -
side down: The Dursleys were asking for details about the magical world
and Mrs. Figg knew Albus Dumbledore; dementors were soar - ing
around Little Whinging and he might neve r go back to Hogwarts.
Harry ’s head throbbed more painfully.
“Back? ” whispered Aunt Petunia.
 37 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

She was looking at Harry as she had never looked at him before. And all
of a sudden, for the very first time in his life, Harry fully ap - preciated
that Aunt Petunia was his mother ’s sister. He could not have said why
this hit him so very powerfully at this moment. All he knew was that he
was not the only person in the room who had an inkling of what Lord
Voldemort being back might mean. Aunt Petunia had never in her life
looked at him like that before. Her large, pale eyes (so unlike her sister ’s)
were not narrowed in dislike or anger: They were wide and fearful. The
furious pretense that Aunt Petunia had main - tained all Harry ’s life —
that there was no magic and no world other than the world she inhabited
with Uncle Vernon — seemed to have fallen away.
“Yes, ” Harry said, talking directly to Aunt Petunia now. “He came back
a month ago. I saw him. ”
Her hands found Dudley ’s massive leather -clad shoulders and clutched
them.
“Hang on, ” said Uncle Vernon, looking from his wife to Harry and back
again, apparently dazed and confused by the unprecedented un -
derstanding that seemed to have sprung up between them. “Hang on.
This Lord Voldything ’s back, you say. ”
“Yes. ”
“The one who murdered your parents. ”
“Yes. ”
“And now he ’s sending dismembers after you? ”
“Looks like it, ” said Harry.
“I see, ” said Uncle Vernon, lo oking from his white -faced wife to Harry
and hitching up his trousers. He seemed to be swelling, his great purple
face stretching before Harry ’s eyes. “Well, that settles it, ”
he said, his shirt front straining as he inflated himself, “ you can get out
of this house, boy !”
“What? ” said Harry.
“You heard me — OUT! ” Uncle Vernon bellowed, and even Aunt
 38 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

Petunia and Dudley jumped. “OUT! OUT! I should ’ve done it years ago!
Owls treating the place like a rest home, puddings exploding, half the
lounge destroyed, Dudley ’s tail, Marge bobbing around on the ceiling,
and that flying Ford Anglia — OUT! OUT! You ’ve had it! You ’re
history! You ’re not staying here if some loony ’s after you, you ’re not
endangering my wife and son, you ’re not bringing trouble down on us, if
you ’re going the same way as your useless parents, I ’ve had it! OUT! ”
Harry stood rooted to the spot. The letters from the Ministry,
Mr. Weasley, and Sirius were crushed in his left hand. Don ’t leave the
house again, whatever you do. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR AUNT AND
UNCLE ’S HOUSE .
“You heard me! ” said Uncle Vernon, bending forward now, so that his
massive purple face came closer to Harry ’s, so that Harry actually felt
flecks of spit hit his face. “Get going! You were all keen to leave half an
hour ago! I ’m right behind you! Get out and never darken our doorstep
again! Why we ever kept you in the first place I don ’t know. Marge was
right, i t should have been the orphanage, we were too damn soft for our
own good, thought we could squash it out of you, thought we could turn
you normal, but you ’ve been rotten from the beginning, and I ’ve had
enough — OWLS! ”
The fifth owl zoomed down the chimne y so fast it actually hit the floor
before zooming into the air again with a loud screech. Harry raised his
hand to seize the letter, which was in a scarlet envelope, but it soared
straight over his head, flying directly at Aunt Petunia, who let out a
scre am and ducked, her arms over her face. The owl dropped the red
envelope on her head, turned, and flew straight up the chimney again.
Harry darted forward to pick up the letter, but Aunt Petunia beat him to
it.
“You can open it if you like, ” said Harry, “but I ’ll hear what it says
anyway. That ’s a Howler. ”
 39 ‘

CHAPTER TWO

“Let go of it, Petunia! ” roared Uncle Vernon. “Don ’t touch it, it could be
dangerous! ”
“It’s addressed to me, ” said Aunt Petunia in a shaking voice. “It’s
addressed to me , Vernon, look! Mrs. Petunia Dursley, The Kitchen,
Number Four, Privet Drive — ”
She caught her breath, horrified. The red envelope had begun to smoke.
“Open it! ” Harry urged her. “Get it over with! It ’ll happen anyway — ”
“No — ”
Aunt Petunia ’s hand was trembling. She looked wildly around the
kitchen as though looking for an escape route, but too late — the en -
velope burst into flames. Aunt Petunia screamed and dropped it.
An awful voice filled the kitchen, echoing in the confined space, is -
suing from the burning letter on the table.

“ REMEMBER MY LAST, PETUNIA .”

Aunt Petunia looked as though she might faint. She sank into the chair
beside Dudley, her face in her h ands. The remains of the enve - lope
smoldered into ash in the silence.
“What is this? ” Uncle Vernon said hoarsely. “What — I don ’t —
Petunia? ”
Aunt Petunia said nothing. Dudley was staring stupidly at his mother, his
mouth hanging open. The silence spiraled horribly. Harry was watching
his aunt, utterly bewildered, his head throbbing fit to burst.
“Petunia, dear? ” said Uncle Vernon timidly. “P-Petunia? ” She raised
her head. She was still trembling. She s wallowed. “The boy — the
boy will have to stay, Vernon, ” she said weakly. “W -what? ”
 40 ‘

A PECK OF OWLS

“He stays, ” she said. She was not looking at Harry. She got to her feet
again.
“He . . . but Petunia . . . ”
“If we throw him out, the neighbors will talk, ” she said. She was re -
gaining her usual brisk, snappish manner rapidly, though she was still
very pale. “They ’ll ask awkward questions, they ’ll want to know where
he ’s gone. We ’ll have to keep him. ”
Uncle Ver non was deflating like an old tire.
“But Petunia, dear — ”
Aunt Petunia ignored him. She turned to Harry. “You ’re to stay in your
room, ” she said. “You ’re not to leave the house. Now get to bed. ”
Harry didn ’t move.
“Who was that Howler from? ”
“Don ’t ask questions, ” Aunt Petunia snapped.
“Are you in touch with wizards? ”
“I told you to get to bed! ”
“What did it mean? Remember the last what? ”
“Go to bed! ”
“How come — ?”
“YOU HEARD YOUR AUNT, NOW GET TO BED! ”












 41 ‘

C H A P T E R T H R E
E










THE ADVANCED
GUARD




’ ve just been attacked by dementors and I might be expelled from
I
Hogwarts. I want to know what ’s going on and when I ’m going to get
out of here.
Harry copied these words onto three separate pieces of parchment the
moment he reached the desk in his dark bedroom. He addressed the first
to Sirius, the second to Ro n, and the third to Hermione. His owl,
Hedwig, was off hunting; her cage stood empty on the desk. Harry paced
the bedroom waiting for her to come back, his head pounding, his brain
too busy for sleep even though his eyes stung and itched with tiredness.

Hi s back ached from carrying Dudley home, and the two lumps on his
head where the window and Dudley had hit him were throbbing
painfully.
Up and down he paced, consumed with anger and frustration, grinding
his teeth and clenching his fists, casting angry lo oks out at the empty,
star -strewn sky every time he passed the window. Demen - tors sent to
get him, Mrs. Figg and Mundungus Fletcher tailing him in secret, then
suspension from Hogwarts and a hearing at the Min -
istry of Magic — and still no one was te lling him what was going on.
 42 ‘

THE ADVANCED
GUARD


And what, what, had that Howler been about? Whose voice had
echoed so horribly, so menacingly, through the kitchen?
Why was he still trapped here without information? Why was
everyone treating him like some naughty kid? Don ’t do any more
magic, stay in the house. . . .
He kicked his school trunk as he passed it, but far from relieving his
anger he felt worse, as he now had a sharp pain in his toe to deal with in
addition to the pain in the rest of his body.
Just as he limped past the window, Hedwig soared through it with a soft
rustle of wings like a small ghost.
“About time! ” Harry s narled, as she landed lightly on top of her cage.
“You can put that down, I ’ve got work for you! ”
Hedwig ’s large round amber eyes gazed reproachfully at him over the
dead frog clamped in her beak.
“Come here, ” said Harry, picking up the three small rolls of parch - ment
and a leather thong and tying the scrolls to her scaly leg. “Take these
straight to Sirius, Ron, and Hermione and don ’t come back here without
good long replies. Keep pecking them till they ’ve written decent -length
answers if you ’ve got to. Understand? ”
Hedwig gave a muffled hooting noise, beak still full of frog.
“Get going, then, ” said Harry.
She took off immediately. The moment she ’d gone, Harry threw himself
down onto his bed without undressing and stared at the dark ceiling. In
addition to every other miserable feeling, he now felt guilty that he ’d
been irritable with Hedwig; she was the only friend he had at number
four, Privet Drive. But he ’d make it up to her when she came back with
Sirius ’s, Ron ’s, and Hermione ’s answers.
They were bound to write back quickly; they couldn ’t possibly ig - nore a
dementor attack. He ’d probably wake up tomorrow to three fat letters
full of sympathy and plans for his immediate removal to the Burrow.
And with that comforting idea, sle ep rolled over him, stifling all further

thought.
 43 ‘

CHAPTER THREE


 ‘‘
But Hedwig didn ’t return next morning. Harry spent the day in his
bedroom, leaving it only to go to the bathroom. Three times that day
Aunt Petunia shoved food into his room through the cat flap Uncle
Vernon had installed three summers ago. Every time Harry heard her
approaching he tried to question her about the Howler, but he might as
well have interrogated the doorknob for all the answ ers he got.
Otherwise the Dursleys kept well clear of his bedroom. Harry couldn ’t
see the point of forcing his company on them; another row would
achieve nothing except perhaps making him so angry he ’d perform more
illegal magic.
So it went on for three w hole days. Harry was filled alternately with
restless energy that made him unable to settle to anything, during which
he paced his bedroom again, furious at the whole lot of them for leaving
him to stew in this mess, and with a lethargy so complete that he could
lie on his bed for an hour at a time, staring dazedly into space, aching
with dread at the thought of the Ministry hearing.
What if they ruled against him? What if he was expelled and his
wand was snapped in half? What would he do, where would he go? He
could not return to living full -time with the Dursleys, not now that he
knew the other world, the one to which he really belonged.
. . . Was it possible that he might be able to move into Sirius ’s house, as
Sirius had suggested a year ago, bef ore he had been forced to flee from
the Ministry himself? Would he be allowed to live there alone, given that
he was still underage? Or would the matter of where he went next be
decided for him; had his breach of the International Statute of Secrecy
been s evere enough to land him in a cell in Azka - ban? Whenever this
thought occurred, Harry invariably slid off his bed and began pacing
again.
On the fourth night after Hedwig ’s departure Harry was lying in one of
his apathetic phases, staring at the ceiling, his exhausted mind
 44 ‘

THE ADVANCED
GUARD


quite blank, when his uncle entered his bedroom. Harry looked slowly
around at him. Uncle Vernon was wearing his best suit and an
expression of enormous smugness.
“We ’re going out, ” he said.
“Sorry? ”
“We — that is to say, your aunt, Dudley, and I — are going out. ”
“Fine, ” said Harry dully, looking back at the ceiling.
“You are not to leave your bedroom while we are away. ”
“Okay. ”
“You are not to touch the television, the stereo, or any of our
possessions. ”
“Right. ”
“You are not to steal food from the fridge. ”
“Okay. ”
“I am going to lock your door. ”
“You do that. ”
Uncle Vernon glared at Harry, clearly suspicious of this lack of ar -
gument, then stomped out of the room and closed the door behind him.
Harry heard the key turn in the lock and Uncle Vernon ’s foot - steps
walking heavily down the stairs. A few minutes lat er he heard the
slamming of car doors, the rumble of an engine, and the unmistakable
sound of the car sweeping out of the drive.
Harry had no particular feeling about the Dursleys leaving. It made no
difference to him whether they were in the house or not . He could not
even summon the energy to get up and turn on his bedroom light. The
room grew steadily darker around him as he lay listening to the night
sounds through the window he kept open all the time, waiting for the
blessed moment when Hedwig returne d.
The empty house creaked around him. The pipes gurgled. Harry lay
there in a kind of stupor, thinking of nothing, suspended in misery.
And then, quite distinctly, he heard a crash in the kitchen below.
 45 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

He sat bolt upright, listening intently. The Dursleys couldn ’t be back, it
was much too soon, and in any case he hadn ’t heard their car. There was
silence for a few seconds, and then he heard voices.
Burglars, he thought, sliding off the bed onto his feet — but a split
second later it occurred to him that burglars would keep their voices
down, and whoever was moving around in the kitchen was certainly not
troubling to do so.
He snatched up his wand from his bedside table and stood facing his
bedroom door, listening with all his might. Next moment he jumped as
the lock gave a loud click and his door swung open.
Harry stood motionless, staring through the open door at the dark
upstairs landing, straining hi s ears for further sounds, but none came. He
hesitated for a moment and then moved swiftly and silently out of his
room to the head of the stairs.
His heart shot upward into his throat. There were people standing in the
shadowy hall below, silhouetted against the streetlight glowing through
the glass door; eight or nine of them, all, as far as he could see, looking
up at him.
“Lower your wand, boy, before you take someone ’s eye out, ” said a low,
growling voice.
Harry ’s heart was thumping uncontrollably. He knew that voice, but he
did not lower his wand.
“Professor Moody? ” he said uncertainly.
“I don ’t know so much about ‘Professor, ’” growled the voice, “never
got round to much teaching, did I? Get down here, w e want to see you
properly. ”
Harry lowered his wand slightly but did not relax his grip on it, nor did he
move. He had very good reason to be suspicious. He had re - cently spent
nine months in what he had thought was Mad -Eye Moody ’s company
only to find o ut that it wasn ’t Moody at all, but an impostor; an impostor,
moreover, who had tried to kill Harry before
 46 ‘

THE ADVANCED
GUARD


being unmasked. But before he could make a decision about what to do
next, a second, slightly hoarse voice floated upstairs.
“It’s all right, Harry. We ’ve come to take you away. ” Harry ’s heart leapt.
He knew that voice too, though he hadn ’t heard it for more than a year.
“P-Professor Lupin? ” he said disbelievingly. “Is that you? ” “Why are
we all standing in the dark? ” said a third voice, this one
completely unfamiliar, a woman ’s. “ Lumos. ”
A wand tip flared, illuminating the hall with magical light. Harry blinked.
The people below were crowded around the foot of the stairs, gazing
intently up at him, some craning their heads for a better look. Remus
Lupin stood nearest to him. Though still quite young, Lupin looked tired
and rather ill; he had more gray hair than when Harry had said good -bye
to him, and his robes were more patched and shabbier than ever.
Nevertheless, he was smiling broadly at Harry, who tried to smile back
through his shock.
“Oooh, he looks just like I thought he would, ” said the witch who was
holding her lit wand aloft. She looked the youngest there; she had a pale
heart -shaped face, dark twinkling eyes, and short spiky hair that was a
violent shade of violet. “Wotcher, Harry! ”
“Yeah, I see what you mean, Remus, ” said a bald black wizard s tanding
farthest back; he had a deep, slow voice and wore a single gold hoop in
his ear. “He looks exactly like James. ”
“Except the eyes, ” said a wheezy -voiced, silver -haired wizard at the back.
“Lily ’s eyes. ”
Mad -Eye Moody, who had long grizzled gra y hair and a large chunk
missing from his nose, was squinting suspiciously at Harry through his
mismatched eyes. One of the eyes was small, dark, and beady, the other
large, round, and electric blue — the magical eye that could see through
walls, doors, an d the back of Moody ’s own head. “Are you quite sure it ’s
him, Lupin? ” he growled. “It’d be a nice

 47 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

lookout if we bring back some Death Eater impersonating him. We
ought to ask him something only the real Potter would know. Unless
anyone brought any Veritaserum? ”
“Harry, what form does your Patronus take? ” said Lupin.
“A stag, ” said Harry nervously.
“That ’s him, Mad -Eye, ” said Lupin.
Harry descended the stairs, very conscious of everybody still staring at
him, stowing his wand into the back pocket of his jeans as he came.
“Don ’t put your wand there, boy! ” roared Moody. “What if it ig - nited?
Better wizards than you have lost buttocks, you know! ” “Who d ’you
know who ’s lost a buttock? ” the violet -haired woman asked Mad -Eye
interestedly.
“Never you mind, you just keep your wand out of your back pocket! ”
growled Mad -Eye. “Elementary wand safety, nobody bothers about it
anymore. . . . ” He stumped off toward the kitchen. “And I saw that, ” he
added irritably, as the woman rolled her eyes at the ceiling. Lupin held
out his hand and shook Harry ’s.
“How are you? ” he asked, looking at Harry closely.
“F-fine . . . ”
Harry could hardly believe this was real. Four weeks with nothing, not
the tiniest hint of a plan to remove him from Privet Drive, and suddenly
a whole bunch of wizards was standing matter -of -factly in the house as
though this were a long -standing arrangem ent. He glanced at the people
surrounding Lupin; they were still gazing avidly at him. He felt very
conscious of the fact that he had not combed his hair for four days.
“I’m — you ’re really lucky the Dursleys are out . . . ” he mumbled.
“Lucky, ha! ” said t he violet -haired woman. “It was me that lured them
out of the way. Sent a letter by Muggle post telling them they ’d been
short -listed for the All -England Best -Kept Suburban Lawn Competition.
They ’re heading off to the prize -giving right now. . . . Or they think they
are. ”
 48 ‘

THE ADVANCED
GUARD


Harry had a fleeting vision of Uncle Vernon ’s face when he realized
there was no All -England Best -Kept Suburban Lawn Competition. “We
are leaving, aren ’t we? ” he asked. “Soon? ”
“Almost at once, ” said Lupin, “we ’re just waiting for the all -clear. ”
“Where are we going? The Burrow? ” Harry asked hopefully.
“Not the Burrow, no, ” said Lupin, motioning Harry toward the kitchen;
the little knot of wizards followed, all still eyeing Harr y curi - ously. “Too
risky. We ’ve set up headquarters somewhere undetectable. It ’s taken a
while. . . . ”
Mad -Eye Moody was now sitting at the kitchen table swigging from a
hip flask, his magical eye spinning in all directions, taking in the
Dursleys ’ many labor -saving appliances.
“This is Alastor Moody, Harry, ” Lupin continued, pointing toward
Moody.
“Yeah, I know, ” said Harry uncomfortably; it felt odd to be intro - duced
to somebody he ’d thought he ’d known for a year.
“And this is Nymphadora — ”
“ Don ’t call me Nymphadora, Remus, ” said the young witch with a
shudder. “It’s Tonks. ”
“— Nymphadora Tonks, who prefers to be known by her surname
only, ” finished Lupin.
“So would you if your fool of a mother had called you ‘Nympha - dora, ’”
muttered Tonks.
“And this is Kingsley Shacklebolt ” — he indicated the tall black wizard,
who bowed — “Elphias Doge ” — the wheezy -voiced wizard nodded —
“Dedalus Diggle — ”
“We ’ve met before, ” squeaked the excitable Diggle, dropping his top
hat.
“— Emm eline Vance ” — a stately looking witch in an emerald - green
shawl inclined her head — “Sturgis Podmore ” — a square -jawed wizard
with thick, straw -colored hair winked — “and Hestia Jones. ” A
pink -cheeked, black -haired witch waved from next to the toaster.

 49 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

Harry inclined his head awkwardly at each of them as they were in -
troduced. He wished they would look at something other than him; it
was as though he had suddenly been ushered onstage. He also won -
dered why so many of them were there.
“A surprising number of people volunteered to come and get you, ” said
Lupin, as though he had read Harry ’s mind; the corners of his mouth
twitched slightly.
“Yeah, well, the more the better, ” said Moody darkly. “W e’re your guard,
Potter. ”
“We ’re just waiting for the signal to tell us it ’s safe to set off, ” said Lupin,
glancing out of the kitchen window. “We ’ve got about fifteen minutes. ”
“Very clean, aren ’t they, these Muggles? ” said the witch called
Tonks, who was looking around the kitchen with great interest. “My
dad ’s Muggle -born and he ’s a right old slob. I suppose it varies, just like
with wizards? ”
“Er — yeah, ” said Harry. “Look ” — he turned back to Lupin — “what ’s
going on, I haven ’t heard any thing from anyone, what ’s Vol — ?”
Several of the witches and wizards made odd hissing noises;
Dedalus Diggle dropped his hat again, and Moody growled, “ Shut up !”
“What? ” said Harry.
“We ’re not discussing anything here, it ’s too risky, ” said Moody, turning
his normal eye on Harry; his magical eye remained pointing
up at the ceiling. “ Damn it, ” he added angrily, putting a hand up to
the magical eye, “it keeps sticking — ever since that scum wore it — ”
And with a nasty squelching sound much like a plunger being pulled
from a sink, he popped out his eye.
“Mad -Eye, you do know that ’s disgusting, don ’t you? ” said Tonks
conversationally.
“Get me a glass of water, would you, Harry? ” asked Moody. Harry
crossed to the dishwasher, took out a clean glass, and filled it
 50 ‘

THE ADVANCED
GUARD


with water at the sink, still watched eagerly by the band of wizards. Their
relentless staring was starting to annoy him.
“Cheers, ” said Moody, when Harry handed him the glass. He dropped
the magical eyeball into the water and prodded it up and down; the eye
whizzed around, staring at them all in turn. “I want
three -hundred -and -sixty degrees visibility on the return journey. ”
“How ’re we getting — wherever we ’re going? ” Harry asked. “Brooms, ”
said Lupin. “Only way. You ’re too young to Apparate, they ’ll be
watching the Floo Network, and it ’s more than our life ’s worth to set up
an unauthorized Portkey. ”
“Remus says you ’re a g ood flier, ” said Kingsley Shacklebolt in his deep
voice.
“He ’s excellent, ” said Lupin, who was checking his watch. “Any - way,
you ’d better go and get packed, Harry, we want to be ready to go when
the signal comes. ”
“I’ll come and help you, ” said Tonks brightly.
She followed Harry back into the hall and up the stairs, looking around
with much curiosity and interest.
“Funny place, ” she said, “it’s a bit too clean, d ’you know what I
mean? Bit unnatural. Oh, this is better, ” she added, as they entered
Harry ’s bedroom and he turned on the light.
His room was certainly much messier than the rest of the house.
Confined to it for four days in a very bad mood, Harry had not both -
ered tidying up after himself. Most of the books he owned were strewn
over the floor where he ’d tried to distract himself with each in turn and
thrown it aside. Hedwig ’s cage needed cleaning out and was starting to
smell, and his trunk lay open, revealing a jumbled mixture of Muggle
clothes and wizard ’s robes that had spilled onto the floor around it.
Harry started picking up books and throwing them hastily into his trunk.
Tonks paused at his open wardrobe to look critically at her re - flection in
the mirror on the inside of the door.

 51 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

“You know, I don ’t think purple ’s really my color, ” she said pen - sively,
tugging at a lock of spiky hair. “D ’you think it makes me look a bit
peaky? ”
“Er — ” said Harry, looking up at her over the top of Quidditch
Teams of Britain and Ireland .
“Yeah, it does, ” said Tonks decisively. She screwed up her eyes in a
strained expression as though she were struggling to remember some -
thing. A second later, her hair had turned bubble -gum pink.
“How did yo u do that? ” said Harry, gaping at her as she opened her eyes
again.
“I’m a Metamorphmagus, ” she said, looking back at her reflection and
turning her head so that she could see her hair from all directions. “It
means I can change my appearance at will, ” she added, spotting Harry ’s
puzzled expression in the mirror behind her. “I was born one. I got top
marks in Concealment and Disguise during Auror training without any
study at all, it was great. ”
“You ’re an Auror? ” said Harry, impressed. Being a Dark wi zard catcher
was the only career he ’d ever considered after Hogwarts. “Yeah, ” said
Tonks, looking proud. “Kingsley is as well; he ’s a bit higher up than I am,
though. I only qualified a year ago. Nearly failed on Stealth and Tracking,
I’m dead clumsy, did you hear me break that plate when we arrived
downstairs? ”
“Can you learn how to be a Metamorphmagus? ” Harry asked her,
straightening up, completely forgetting about packing.
Tonks chuckled.
“Bet you wouldn ’t mind hiding that scar sometimes, eh? ” Her e yes
found the lightning -shaped scar on Harry ’s forehead. “No, I wouldn ’t
mind, ” Harry mumbled, turning away. He did not like people staring at
his scar.
“Well, you ’ll have to learn the hard way, I ’m afraid, ” said Tonks.
“Metamorphmagi are really rare, they ’re born, not made. Most wiz - ards
need to use a wand or potions to change their appearance. . . .
 52 ‘

THE ADVANCED
GUARD


But we ’ve got to get going, Harry, we ’re supposed to be packing, ” she
added guiltily, looking around at all the mess on the floor.
“Oh — yeah, ” said Harry, grabbing up a few more books.
“Don ’t be stupid, it ’ll be much quicker if I — pack !” cried Tonks,
waving her wand in a long, sweeping movement over the floor. Books,
clothes, telescope, and scales all soared into the air and flew pell -mell
into the trunk.
“It’s not very neat, ” said Tonks, walking over to the trunk and look - ing
down at the jumble insi de. “My mum ’s got this knack of getting stuff to
fit itself in neatly — she even gets the socks to fold them - selves — but
I’ve never mastered how she does it — it’s a kind of flick — ”
She flicked her wand hopefully; one of Harry ’s socks gave a feeble sor t
of wiggle and flopped back on top of the mess within.
“Ah, well, ” said Tonks, slamming the trunk ’s lid shut, “at least it ’s all
in. That could do with a bit of cleaning, too — Scourgify — ” She
pointed her wand at Hedwig ’s cage; a few feathers and droppings van -
ished. “Well, that ’s a bit better — I’ve never quite got the hang of
these sort of householdy spells. Right — got everything? Cauldron?
Broom? Wow! A Firebolt ?”
Her eyes widened as they fell on the broomstick in Harry ’s right hand. It
was his pride and joy, a gift from Sirius, an international stan - dard
broomstick.
“And I ’m still riding a Comet Two Sixty, ” said Tonks enviously. “Ah
well . . . wand still in your jeans? Both buttocks still on? Okay, let ’s go.
Locomotor Tru nk. ”
Harry ’s trunk rose a few inches into the air. Holding her wand like a
conductor ’s baton, Tonks made it hover across the room and out of the
door ahead of them, Hedwig ’s cage in her left hand. Harry followed her
down the stairs carrying his broomstic k.
Back in the kitchen, Moody had replaced his eye, which was spinning so
fast after its cleaning it made Harry feel sick. Kingsley

 53 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

Shacklebolt and Sturgis Podmore were examining the microwave and
Hestia Jones was laughing at a potato peeler she had come across while
rummaging in the drawers. Lupin was sealing a letter addressed to the
Dursleys.
“Excellent, ” said Lupin, looking up as Tonks and Harry entered. “We ’ve
got about a minute, I think. We should probably get out into the garden
so we ’re ready. Harry, I ’ve left a letter telling your aunt and uncle not to
worry — ”
“They won ’t,” said Harry.
“That you ’re safe — ”
“That ’ll just depress them. ”
“— and you ’ll see them next summer. ”
“Do I have to? ”
Lupin smiled but made no answer.
“Come here, boy, ” said Moody gruffly, beckoning Harry toward him
with his wand. “I need to Disillusion you. ”
“You need to what? ” said Harry nervously.
“Disillusionment Charm, ” said Moody, raising his wand. “Lupin says
you ’ve got an Invisibility Cloak, but it won ’t stay on while we ’re flying;
this ’ll disguise you better. Here you go — ”
He rapped Harry hard on the top of the head and Harry felt a cu - rious
sensation as though Moody had just smashed an e gg there; cold trickles
seemed to be running down his body from the point the wand had
struck.
“Nice one, Mad -Eye, ” said Tonks appreciatively, staring at Harry ’s
midriff.
Harry looked down at his body, or rather, what had been his body, for it
didn ’t loo k anything like his anymore. It was not invisible; it had simply
taken on the exact color and texture of the kitchen unit behind him. He
seemed to have become a human chameleon.
“Come on, ” said Moody, unlocking the back door with his wand.
They all stepped outside onto Uncle Vernon ’s beautifully kept lawn.
 54 ‘

THE ADVANCED
GUARD


“Clear night, ” grunted Moody, his magical eye scanning the heav - ens.
“Could ’ve done with a bit more cloud cover. Right, you, ” he barked at
Harry, “we ’re going to be flying in close formation. Tonks ’ll be right in
front of you, keep close on her tail. Lupin ’ll be covering you from below.
I’m going to be behind you. The rest ’ll be circling us. We don ’t break
ranks for anything, got me? If one of us is killed — ” “Is that likely? ”
Harry asked apprehensively, but Moody ignored him.
“— the others keep flying, don ’t stop, don ’t break ranks. If they take out
all of us and you survive, Harry, the rear guard are standing by to take
over; keep flying east and they ’ll join you. ”
“Stop being so cheerful, Mad -Eye, he ’ll think we ’re not taking this
seriously, ” said Tonks, as she strapped Harry ’s trunk and Hedwig ’s cage
into a harness hanging from her broom.
“I’m just telling the boy the plan, ” growled Moody. “Our job ’s to deliver
him safely to headquarters and if we die in the attempt — ” “No one ’s
going to die, ” said Kingsley Shacklebolt in his deep, calming voice.
“Mount your brooms, that ’s the first signal! ” said Lupin sharply,
pointing into the sky.
Far, far above them, a shower of bright red sparks had flared among the
stars. Harry recognized them at once as wand sparks. He swung his right
leg over his Firebolt, gripped its handle tightly, and felt it vibra ting very
slightly, as though it was as keen as he was to be up in the air once more.
“Second signal, let ’s go! ” said Lupin loudly, as more sparks, green this
time, exploded high above them.
Harry kicked off hard from the ground. The cool night air r ushed
through his hair as the neat square gardens of Privet Drive fell away,
shrinking rapidly into a patchwork of dark greens and blacks, and every
thought of the Ministry hearing was swept from his mind as though the
rush of air had blown it out of his h ead. He felt as though
 55 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

his heart was going to explode with pleasure; he was flying again, fly - ing
away from Privet Drive as he ’d been fantasizing about all summer, he
was going home. . . . For a few glorious moments, all his problems
seemed to recede into nothing, insignificant in the vast, starry sky. “Hard
left, hard left, there ’s a Muggle looking up! ” shouted Moody from
behind him. Tonks swerved and Harry followed her, watching his trunk
swinging wildly beneath her broom. “We need more height.
. . . Give it another quarter of a mile! ”
Harry ’s eyes watered in the chill as they soared upward; he could see
nothing below now but tiny pinpricks of light that were car headlights
and streetlamps. Two of those tiny lights might belong to Uncle Ver -
non ’s car. . . . The Dursleys would be heading back to their empty house
right now, full of rage about the nonexistent lawn competition
. . . and Harry laughed aloud at the thought, though his voice was
drowned by the flapping of the others ’ robes, the creaking of the har -
ness holding his trunk and the cage, the whoosh of the wind in their
ears as they sped through the air. He had not felt this alive in a month, or
this happy. . . .
“Bearing south! ” shouted Mad -Eye. “Town ahead! ” They soared right,
so that they did not pass directly over the glit - tering spiderweb of lights
below.
“Bear south east and keep climbing, there ’s some low cloud ahead we can
lose ourselves in! ” called Moody.
“We ’re not going through clouds! ” shouted Tonks angrily. “We ’ll get
soaked, Mad -Eye! ”
Harry was relieved to hear her say this; his hands were growing numb on
the Firebolt ’s handle. He wished he had thought to put on a coat; he was
starting to shiver.
They altered their course every now and then according to Mad - Eye ’s
instructions. Harry ’s eyes were screwed up against the rush of icy wind
that was star ting to make his ears ache. He could remember be - ing this
cold on a broom only once before, during the Quidditch
 56 ‘

THE ADVANCED
GUARD


match against Hufflepuff in his third year, which had taken place in a
storm. The guard around him was circling continuously like giant birds
of prey. Harry lost track of time. He wondered how long they had been
flying; it felt like an hour at least.
“Turning southwest! ” yelled Moody. “We want to avoid the motorway! ”
Harry was now so chilled that he thought longingly for a moment of the
snug, dry interiors of the cars streaming along below, then, even more
longingly, of traveling by Floo powder; it might be uncomfort - able to
spin around in fireplaces but it was at lea st warm in the flames.
. . . Kingsley Shacklebolt swooped around him, bald pate and earring
gleaming slightly in the moonlight. . . . Now Emmeline Vance was on his
right, her wand out, her head turning left and right . . . then she too
swooped over him, to be replaced by Sturgis Podmore. . . .
“We ought to double back for a bit, just to make sure we ’re not be - ing
followed! ” Moody shouted.
“ARE YOU MAD, MAD -EYE? ” Tonks screamed from the front.
“We ’re all frozen to our brooms! If we keep going off course we ’re not
going to get there until next week! We ’re nearly there now! ”
“Time to start the descent! ” came Lupin ’s voice. “Follow Tonks,
Harry! ”
Harry followed Tonks into a dive. They were heading for the largest
collection of lights he had yet seen, a huge, sprawling, crisscrossing mass,
glittering in lines and grids, interspersed with patches of deep - est black.
Lower and lower they flew, until Harry could see individual headlights
and streetlamps, chimneys, and television aerials. He wanted to reach the
ground very much, though he felt sure that some - one would have to
unfreeze him from his broom.
“Here we go! ” called Tonks, and a few seconds later she had landed.
Harry touched down right behind her and dismounted on a patch of
unkempt grass in the middle of a small square. Tonks was already
unbuckling Harry ’s trunk. Shivering, Harry looked around. The grimy

 57 ‘

CHAPTER THREE

fronts of the surrounding houses were not welcoming; some of them
had broken windows, glimmering dully in the light from the street -
lamps, paint was peeling from many of the doors, and heaps of rubbish
lay outside several sets of front steps.
“Where are we? ” Harry asked, but Lupin said quietly, “In a minute. ”
Moody was rummaging in his cloak, his gnarled hands clumsy with cold.
“Got it, ” he muttered, raising what looked like a silver cigarette lighter
into the air and clicking it.
The nearest streetlamp went out with a pop. He clicked the un - lighter
again; the next lamp went out. He kept clicking until every lamp in the
square was extinguished and the only light in the square came from
curtained windows and the sickle moon overhead. “Borrowed it from
Dumbledore, ” growled Moody, pocketing the Put -Outer. “That ’ll take
care of any Muggles looking out of the win - dow, see? Now, come on,
quick. ”
He took Harry by the arm and led him from the patch of grass, across
the road, and onto the pavement. Lupin and Tonks followed, carrying
Harry ’s trunk bet ween them, the rest of the guard, all with their wands
out, flanking them.
The muffled pounding of a stereo was coming from an upper win - dow
in the nearest house. A pungent smell of rotting rubbish came from the
pile of bulging bin -bags just inside the b roken gate.
“Here, ” Moody muttered, thrusting a piece of parchment toward
Harry ’s Disillusioned hand and holding his lit wand close to it, so as to
illuminate the writing. “Read quickly and memorize. ”
Harry looked down at the piece of paper. The narrow handwriting was
vaguely familiar. It said:
The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number
twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.
 58 ‘

C H A P T E R F O U R









NUMBER
TWELVE,
GRIMMAULD PLACE



hat ’s the Order of the — ?” Harry began.
W

“Not here, boy! ” snarled Moody. “Wait till we ’re inside! ”
He pulled the piece of parchment out of Harry ’s hand and set fire to it
with his wand tip. As the message curled into flames and floated to the
ground, Harry looked around at the houses again. They were standing
outside number eleven; he looked to the left and saw num - ber ten; to

the right, however, was number thirteen.
“But where ’s — ?”
“Think about what you ’ve just memorized, ” said Lupin quietly. Harry
thought, and no sooner had he reached the part about num - ber twelve,
Grimmauld Place, than a battered door emerged out of nowhere
between numbers eleven and thirteen, followed swiftly by dirty walls and
grimy windows. It was as though an extra house had inflated, pushing
those on either side out of its way. Harry gaped at it. The stereo in
number eleven thudded on. Apparently the Muggles in - side hadn ’t even
felt anyth ing.
“Come on, hurry, ” growled Moody, prodding Harry in the back.
 59 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

Harry walked up the worn stone steps, staring at the newly materi - alized
door. Its black paint was shabby and scratched. The silver door knocker
was in the form of a twisted serpent. There was no keyhole or letterbox.
Lupin pulled out his wand and tapped the door once. Harry heard many
loud, metallic clicks and what sounded like the clatter of a chain. The
door creaked open.
“Get in quick, Harry, ” Lupin whispered. “But don ’t go far inside and
don ’t touch anything. ”
Harry stepped over the threshold into the almost total darkness of the
hall. He could smell damp, dust , and a sweetish, rotting smell; the place
had the feeling of a derelict building. He looked over his shoul - der and
saw the others filing in behind him, Lupin and Tonks carrying his trunk
and Hedwig ’s cage. Moody was standing on the top step and releasing
the balls of light the Put -Outer had stolen from the street - lamps; they
flew back to their bulbs and the square beyond glowed momentarily with
orange light before Moody limped inside and closed the front door, so
that the darkness in the hall became comp lete. “Here — ”
He rapped Harry hard over the head with his wand; Harry felt as though
something hot was trickling down his back this time and knew that the
Disillusionment Charm must have lifted.
“Now stay still, everyone, while I give us a bit of ligh t in here, ” Moody
whispered.
The others ’ hushed voices were giving Harry an odd feeling of fore -
boding; it was as though they had just entered the house of a dying
person. He heard a soft hissing noise and then old -fashioned gas lamps
sputtered into lif e all along the walls, casting a flickering insub - stantial
light over the peeling wallpaper and threadbare carpet of a long, gloomy
hallway, where a cobwebby chandelier glimmered over - head and
age -blackened portraits hung crooked on the walls. Harry
 60 ‘

NUMBER
TWELVE,
GRIMMAULD PLACE
heard something scuttling behind the baseboard. Both the chandelier
and the candelabra on a rickety table nearby were shaped like serpents.
There were hurried footsteps and Ron ’s mother, Mrs. Weasley, emerged
from a door at the far end of the hall. She was beaming in welcome as
she hurried toward them, though Harry noticed that she was rather
thinner and paler than she had been last time he had seen her.
“Oh, Harry, it ’s lovely to see you! ” she whispered, pulling him into a
rib -cracking hug before holding him at arm ’s length and examining him
critically. “You ’re looking peaky; you need feeding up, but you ’ll have to
wait a bit for dinner, I ’m afraid. . . . ”
She turned to the gang of wizards b ehind him and whispered ur - gently,
“He ’s just arrived, the meeting ’s started. . . . ”
The wizards behind Harry all made noises of interest and excite - ment
and began filing past Harry toward the door through which Mrs.
Weasley had just come; Harry made to follow Lupin, but Mrs. Weasley
held him back.
“No, Harry, the meeting ’s only for members of the Order. Ron and
Hermione are upstairs, you can wait with them until the meeting ’s over
and then we ’ll have dinner. And keep your voice down in the hall, ” she
added in an urgent whisper.
“Why? ”
“I don ’t want to wake anything up. ”
“What d ’you — ?”
“I’ll explain later, I ’ve got to hurry, I ’m supposed to be at the meet - ing
— I’ll just show you where you ’re sleeping. ”
Pressing her finger to her lips, she led him on tiptoes past a pair of long,
moth -eaten curtains, behind which Harry supposed there must be
another door, and after skirting a large umbrella stand that looked as
though it had been made from a severed troll ’s leg, they started up the
dark s taircase, passing a row of shrunken heads mounted on
 61 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

plaques on the wall. A closer look showed Harry that the heads be -
longed to house -elves. All of them had the same rather snoutlike nose.
Harry ’s bewilderment deepened with every step he took. What on earth
were they doing in a house that looked as though it belonged to the
Darkest of wizards?
“Mrs. Weasley, why — ?”
“Ron and Hermione will explain everything, dear, I ’ve really got to
dash, ” Mr s. Weasley whispered distractedly. “There ” — they had
reached the second landing — “you ’re the door on the right. I ’ll call you
when it ’s over. ”
And she hurried off downstairs again.
Harry crossed the dingy landing, turned the bedroom doorknob, which
was shaped like a serpent ’s head, and opened the door.
He caught a brief glimpse of a gloomy high -ceilinged, twin -bedded room,
then there was a loud twittering noise, followed by an even louder shriek,
and his vision was completely obscured by a large quan - tity of very
bushy hair — Hermione had thrown herself onto him in a hug that
nearly knocked him flat, while Ron ’s tiny owl, Pigwidgeon, zoomed
excitedly round and round their heads.
“HARRY! Ron, he ’s here, Harry ’s here! We didn ’t hear you arrive!
Oh, how are you? Are you all right? Have you been furious with us? I
bet you have, I know our letters were useless — but we couldn ’t tell you
anything, Dumbledore made us swear we would n’t, oh, we ’ve got so
much to tell you, and you ’ve got to tell us — the dementors! When we
heard — and that Ministry hearing — it’s just outrageous, I ’ve looked it
all up, they can ’t expel you, they just can ’t, there ’s provision in the
Decree for the Restr iction of Underage Sorcery for the use of magic in
life -threatening situations — ”
“Let him breathe, Hermione, ” said Ron, grinning, closing the door
behind Harry. He seemed to have grown several more inches during
their month apart, making him taller and m ore gangly looking than ever,
though the long nose, bright red hair, and freckles were the same.
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Hermione, still beaming, let go of Harry, but before she could say
another word there was a soft whooshing sound and something white
soared from the top of a dark wardrobe and landed gently on Harry ’s
shoulder.
“Hedwig! ”
The snowy owl clicked her beak and nibbled his ear affectionately as
Harry stroked her feathers.
“She ’s been in a right state, ” said Ron. “Pecked us half to death when
she brought your last letters, look at this — ”
He showed Harry the index finger of his right hand, which sported a
half -healed but clearly deep cut.
“Oh yeah, ” Harry said. “Sorry abou t that, but I wanted answers, you
know. . . . ”
“We wanted to give them to you, mate, ” said Ron. “Hermione was going
spare, she kept saying you ’d do something stupid if you were stuck all on
your own without news, but Dumbledore made us — ” “— swear not to
tell me, ” said Harry. “Yeah, Hermione ’s already said. ”
The warm glow that had flared inside him at the sight of his two best
friends was extinguished as something icy flooded the pit of his stomach.
All of a sudden — after yearning to see th em for a solid month — he felt
he would rather Ron and Hermione left him alone. There was a strained
silence in which Harry stroked Hedwig auto - matically, not looking at
either of the others.
“He seemed to think it was best, ” said Hermione rather breath - lessly.
“Dumbledore, I mean. ”
“Right, ” said Harry. He noticed that her hands too bore the marks of
Hedwig ’s beak and found that he was not at all sorry.
“I think he thought you were safest with the Muggles — ” Ron began.
“Yeah? ” said Harry, raising his eyebrows. “Have either of you been
attacked by dementors this summer? ”
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CHAPTER FOUR

“Well, no — but that ’s why he ’s had people from the Order of the
Phoenix tailing you all the time — ”
Harry felt a great jolt in his guts as though he had just missed a step
going downstairs. So everyone had known he was being followed ex -
cept him.
“Didn ’t work that well, though, did it? ” said Harry, doing his utmost to
keep his voice even. “Had to look after myself after all, didn ’t I? ”
“He was so angry, ” said Hermione in an almost awestruck voice.
“Dumbledore. We saw him. When he found out Mundungus had left
before his shift had ended. He was scary. ”
“Well, I ’m glad he left, ” Harry said coldly. “If he hadn ’t, I wouldn ’t have
done magic and Dumbledore would probably have left me at Privet
Drive all summer. ”
“Aren ’t you . . . aren ’t you worried about the Ministry of Magic hearing? ”
said Hermione quietly.
“No, ” Harry lied defiantly. He walked away from them, looking around,
with Hedwig nestled contentedly on his shoulder, but this room was not
likely to raise his spirits. It was dank and dark. A blank stretch of canvas
in an ornate picture frame was all that rel ieved the bareness of the
peeling walls and as Harry passed it he thought he heard someone
lurking out of sight snigger.
“So why ’s Dumbledore been so keen to keep me in the dark? ” Harry
asked, still trying hard to keep his voice casual. “Did you — er — bo ther
to ask him at all? ”
He glanced up just in time to see them exchanging a look that told him
he was behaving just as they had feared he would. It did nothing to
improve his temper.
“We told Dumbledore we wanted to tell you what was going on, ” said
Ron. “We did, mate. But he ’s really busy now, we ’ve only seen him twice
since we came here and he didn ’t have much time, he just
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made us swear not to tell you important stuff when we wrote, he said the
owls might be intercepted — ”
“He could still ’ve kept me informed if he ’d wanted to, ” Harry said
shortly. “You ’re not telling me he doesn ’t know ways to send messages
without owls. ”
Hermione glanced at Ron and then said, “I thought that too. But
he didn ’t want you to know anything. ”
“Maybe he thinks I can ’t be trusted, ” said Harry, watching their ex -
pressions.
“Don ’t be thick, ” said Ron, looking highly disconcerted.
“Or that I can ’t take care of myself — ”
“Of course he doesn ’t think that! ” said Hermione anxiously. “So how
come I have to stay at the Dursleys ’ while you two get to join in
everything that ’s going on here? ” said Harry, the words tum - bling over
one another in a rush, his voice growing louder with every word. “How
come you two are allowed to know everything that ’s go - ing on — ?”
“We ’re not! ” Ron interrupted. “Mum won ’t let us near the meet - ings,
she says we ’re too young — ”
But before he knew it, Harry was shouting.
“SO YOU HAVEN ’T BEEN IN THE MEETINGS, BIG DEAL!
YOU ’VE STILL BEEN HERE, HAVEN ’T YOU? YOU ’VE STILL
BEEN TOGETHER! ME, I ’VE BEEN STUCK AT THE DURS -
LEYS ’ FOR A MONTH! AND I ’VE HANDLED MORE THAN
YOU TWO ’VE EVER MANAGED AND DUMBLEDORE
KNOWS IT — WHO SAVED THE SORCERER ’S STONE? WHO
GOT RID OF RIDDLE? WHO SAVED BOTH YOUR SKINS
FROM THE DEMENTORS? ”
Every bitter and resentful thought that Harry had had in the past month
was pouring out of him; his frustration at the lack of news, the hurt that
they had all been together without him, his fury at being
 65 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

followed and not told about it: All the feelings he was half -ashamed of
finally burst their boundaries. Hedwig took fright at the noise and soared
off on top of the wardrobe again; Pigwidgeon twittered in alarm and
zoomed even faster around their heads.
“WHO HAD TO GET PAST DRAGONS AND SPHINXES AND
EVERY OTHER FOUL THING LA ST YEAR? WHO SAW HIM
COME BACK? WHO HAD TO ESCAPE FROM HIM? ME! ” Ron
was standing there with his mouth half -open, clearly stunned and at a
loss for anything to say, while Hermione looked on the verge of tears.
“BUT WHY SHOULD I KNOW WHAT ’S GOING ON? WHY
SHOULD ANYONE BOTHER TO TELL ME WHAT ’S BEEN
HAPPENING? ”
“Harry, we wanted to tell you, we really did — ” Hermione began.
“CAN ’T’VE WANTED TO THAT MUCH, CAN YOU, OR
YOU ’D HAVE SENT ME AN OWL, BUT DUMBLEDORE
MADE YOU SWEAR — ”
“Well, he did — ”
“FOUR WEEKS I ’VE BEEN STUCK IN PRIVET DRIVE,
NICKING PAPERS OUT OF BINS TO TRY AND FIND OUT
WHAT ’S BEEN GOING ON — ”
“We wanted to — ”
“I SUPPOSE YOU ’VE BEEN HAVING A REAL LAUGH,
HAVEN ’T YOU, ALL HOLED UP HERE TOGETHER — ” “No,
honest — ”
“Harry, we ’re r eally sorry! ” said Hermione desperately, her eyes now
sparkling with tears. “You ’re absolutely right, Harry — I’d be furious if it
was me! ”
Harry glared at her, still breathing deeply, then turned away from them
again, pacing up and down. Hedwig hooted glumly from the top of the
wardrobe. There was a long pause, broken only by the mournful creak of
the floorboards below Harry ’s feet.
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“What is this place anyway? ” he shot at Ron and Hermione.
“Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, ” said Ron at once. “Is
anyone going to bother telling me what the Order of the Phoenix — ?”
“It’s a secret society, ” said Hermione quickly. “Dumbledore ’s in ch arge,
he founded it. It ’s the people who fought against You -Know - Who last
time. ”
“Who ’s in it? ” said Harry, coming to a halt with his hands in his pockets.
“Quite a few people — ”
“— we ’ve met about twenty of them, ” said Ron, “but we think there are
more. . . . ”
Harry glared at them.
“ Well ?” he demanded, looking from one to the other.
“Er, ” said Ron. “Well what? ”
“ Voldemort !” said Harry furiously, and both Ron and Hermione
winced. “What ’s happening? What ’s he up to? Where is he? Wha t are we
doing to stop him? ”
“We ’ve told you, the Order don ’t let us in on their meetings, ” said
Hermione nervously. “So we don ’t know the details — but we ’ve got a
general idea — ” she added hastily, seeing the look on Harry ’s face. “Fred
and George have invented Extendable Ears, see, ” said Ron. “They ’re
really useful. ”
“Extendable — ?”
“Ears, yeah. Only we ’ve had to stop using them lately because Mum
found out and went berserk. Fred and George had to hide them all to
stop Mum binn ing them. But we got a good bit of use out of them
before Mum realized what was going on. We know some of the Order
are following known Death Eaters, keeping tabs on them, you know — ”
“— some of them are working on recruiting more people to the Order
— ” said Hermione.
 67 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

“— and some of them are standing guard over something, ” said Ron.
“They ’re always talking about guard duty. ”
“Couldn ’t have been me, could it? ” said Harry sarcastically. “Oh yeah, ”
said Ron, with a look of dawning comprehension. Harry snorted. He
walked around the room again, looking any - where but at Ron and
Hermione. “So what have you two been doing, if you ’re not allowed in
meetings? ” he demanded. “You said you ’d been busy. ”
“We have, ” said Hermione quickly. “We ’ve been decontaminating this
house, it ’s been empty for ages and stuff ’s been breeding in here. We ’ve
managed to clean out the kitchen, most of the bedrooms, and I think
we ’re doing the drawing room tomo — AARGH! ”
With two loud cracks, Fred and George, Ron ’s elder twin brothers, had
materialized out of thin air in the middle of the room. Pigwidg - eon
twittered more wildly than ever and zoomed off to join Hedwig on top
of the wardrobe.
“Stop doing that! ” Hermione said weakly to the twins, who were as
vividly red -haired as Ron, though stockier and slightly shorter. “Hello,
Harry, ” said George, beaming at him. “We thought we heard your dulcet
tones. ”
“You don ’t want to bottle up your anger like that, Ha rry, let it all out, ”
said Fred, also beaming. “There might be a couple of people fifty miles
away who didn ’t hear you. ”
“You two passed your Apparation tests, then? ” asked Harry grumpily.
“With distinction, ” said Fred, who was holding what looked li ke a piece
of very long, flesh -colored string.
“It would have taken you about thirty seconds longer to walk down the
stairs, ” said Ron.
“Time is Galleons, little brother, ” said Fred. “Anyway, Harry, you ’re
interfering with reception. Extendable Ears, ” he added in response to
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Harry ’s raised eyebrows, holding up the string, which Harry now saw
was trailing out onto the landing. “We ’re trying to hear what ’s going on
downstairs. ”
“You want to be careful, ” said Ron, staring at the ear. “If Mum sees one
of them again . . . ”
“It’s worth the risk, that ’s a major meeting they ’re having, ” said Fred.
The door opened and a long mane of red hair appeared. “Oh hello,
Harry! ” said Ron ’s youn ger sister, Ginny, brightly. “I thought I heard
your voice. ”
Turning to Fred and George she said, “It’s no go with the Extend - able
Ears, she ’s gone and put an Imperturbable Charm on the kitchen door. ”
“How d ’you know? ” said George, looking crestfallen. “Tonks told me
how to find out, ” said Ginny. “You just chuck stuff at the door and if it
can ’t make contact the door ’s been Imperturbed. I ’ve been flicking
Dungbombs at it from the top of the stairs and they just soar awa y from
it, so there ’s no way the Extendable Ears will be able to get under the
gap. ”
Fred heaved a deep sigh. “Shame. I really fancied finding out what old
Snape ’s been up to. ”
“Snape? ” said Harry quickly. “Is he here? ”
“Yeah, ” said George, carefull y closing the door and sitting down on one
of the beds; Fred and Ginny followed. “Giving a report. Top secret. ”
“Git, ” said Fred idly.
“He ’s on our side now, ” said Hermione reprovingly. Ron snorted.
“Doesn ’t stop him being a git. The way he looks at us when he sees
us. . . . ”
“Bill doesn ’t like him either, ” said Ginny, as though that settled the
matter.
 69 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

Harry was not sure his anger had abated yet; but his thirst for
information was now overcom ing his urge to keep shouting. He sank
onto the bed opposite the others.
“Is Bill here? ” he asked. “I thought he was working in Egypt. ” “He
applied for a desk job so he could come home and work for the Order, ”
said Fred. “He says he misses the tombs, but, ” he smirked, “there are
compensations. . . . ”
“What d ’you mean? ”
“Remember old Fleur Delacour? ” said George. “She ’s got a job at
Gringotts to eemprove ’er Eeenglish — ”
“— and Bill ’s been giving her a lot of private lessons, ” sniggered Fred.
“Charlie ’s in the Order too, ” said George, “but he ’s still in Romania,
Dumbledore wants as many foreign wizards brought in as possible, so
Charlie ’s trying to make contacts on his days off. ”
“Couldn ’t Percy do that? ” Harry asked. The last he had heard, t he third
Weasley brother was working in the Department of Interna - tional
Magical Cooperation at the Ministry of Magic.
At these words all the Weasleys and Hermione exchanged darkly
significant looks.
“Whatever you do, don ’t mention Percy in front of Mum and Dad, ” Ron
told Harry in a tense voice.
“Why not? ”
“Because every time Percy ’s name ’s mentioned, Dad breaks what - ever
he ’s holding and Mum starts crying, ” Fred said.
“It’s been awful, ” said Ginny sadly.
“I think we ’re well shut of him, ” said George with an uncharacter -
istically ugly look on his face.
“What ’s happened? ” Harry said.
“Percy and Dad had a row, ” said Fred. “I’ve never seen Dad row with
anyone like that. It ’s normally Mum who shouts. . . . ”
“It was the first week back after term ended, ” said Ron. “We were
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NUMBER
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about to come and join the Order. Percy came home and told us he ’d
been promoted. ”
“You ’re kidding? ” said Harry.
Though he knew perfectly well that Percy was highly ambitious, Harry ’s
impression was that Percy had not made a great success of his first job at
the Ministry of Magic. Percy had committed the fairly large oversight of
failing to notice that his boss was b eing controlled by Lord Voldemort
(not that the Ministry had believed that — they all thought that Mr.
Crouch had gone mad).
“Yeah, we were all surprised, ” said George, “because Percy got into a
load of trouble about Crouch, there was an inquiry and every thing. They
said Percy ought to have realized Crouch was off his rocker and
informed a superior. But you know Percy, Crouch left him in charge, he
wasn ’t going to complain. . . . ”
“So how come they promoted him? ”
“That ’s exactly what we wondered, ” said Ron, who seemed very keen to
keep normal conversation going now that Harry had stopped yelling.
“He came home really pleased with himself — even more pleased than
usual if you can imagine that — and told Dad he ’d been offered a
position in Fudge ’s own off ice. A really good one for some - one only a
year out of Hogwarts — Junior Assistant to the Minister. He expected
Dad to be all impressed, I think. ”
“Only Dad wasn ’t,” said Fred grimly.
“Why not? ” said Harry.
“Well, apparently Fudge has been storming round the Ministry checking
that nobody ’s having any contact with Dumbledore, ” said George.
“Dumbledore ’s name ’s mud with the Ministry these days, see, ” said Fred.
“They all think he ’s just making trouble saying You -Know - Who ’s
back. ”
“Dad says Fudge has made it clear that anyone who ’s in league with
Dumbledore can clear out their desks, ” said George.
 71 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

“Trouble is, Fudge suspects Dad, he knows he ’s friendly with Dum -
bledore, and he ’s always thought Dad ’s a bit of a weirdo because of his
Muggle obsession — ”
“But what ’s this got to do with Percy? ” asked Harry, confused. “I’m
coming to that. Dad reckons Fudge only wants Percy in his office
because h e wants to use him to spy on the family — and Dumbledore. ”
Harry let out a low whistle.
“Bet Percy loved that. ”
Ron laughed in a hollow sort of way.
“He went completely berserk. He said — well, he said loads of ter - rible
stuff. He said he ’s been having to struggle against Dad ’s lousy reputation
ever since he joined the Ministry and that Dad ’s got no ambition and
that ’s why we ’ve always been — you know — not had a lot of money, I
mean — ”
“ What ?” said Harry in disbelief, as Ginny made a noise like an an -
gry cat.
“I know, ” said Ron in a low voice. “And it got worse. He said Dad was
an idiot to run around with Dumbledore, that Dumbledore was heading
for big trouble and Dad was going to go down with him, and that he —
Percy — knew where his loyalty lay and it was with the Ministry. And if
Mum and Dad were going to become traitors to the Ministry he was
going to make sure everyone knew he didn ’t belong to our family
anymore. And he packed his bags the same night and left. He ’s living
here in London now. ”
Harry swore under his breath. He had always liked Percy least of Ron ’s
brothers, but he had never imagined he would say such things to Mr.
We asley.
“Mum ’s been in a right state, ” said Ron. “You know — crying and stuff.
She came up to London to try and talk to Percy but he slammed the door
in her face. I dunno what he does if he meets Dad at work — ignores
him, I s ’pose. ”
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“But Percy must know Voldemort ’s back, ” said Harry slowly. “He ’s
not stupid, he must know your mum and dad wouldn ’t risk every - thing
without proof — ”
“Yeah, well, your name got dragged into th e row, ” said Ron, shoot - ing
Harry a furtive look. “Percy said the only evidence was your word and . . .
I dunno . . . he didn ’t think it was good enough. ”
“Percy takes the Daily Prophet seriously, ” said Hermione tartly, and
the others all nodded.
“What are you talking about? ” Harry asked, looking around at them all.
They were all regarding him warily.
“Haven ’t — haven ’t you been getting the Daily Prophet ?” Hermi -
one asked nervously.
“Yeah, I have! ” said Harry.
“Have you — er — been readin g it thoroughly? ” Hermione asked still
more anxiously.
“Not cover to cover, ” said Harry defensively. “If they were going to
report anything about Voldemort it would be headline news, wouldn ’t
it!”
The others flinched at the sound of the name. Hermione hurried on,
“Well, you ’d need to read it cover to cover to pick it up, but they — um
— they mention you a couple of times a week. ”
“But I ’d have seen — ”
“Not if you ’ve only been reading the front page, you wouldn ’t,” said
Hermione, shaking her head. “I’m not talking about big articles. They
just slip you in, like you ’re a standing joke. ”
“What d ’you — ?”
“It’s quite nasty, actually, ” said Hermione in a voice of forced calm.
“They ’re just building on Rita ’s stuff. ”
“But she ’s not writing for them an ymore, is she? ” “Oh no, she ’s kept her
promise — not that she ’s got any choice, ” Hermione added with
satisfaction. “But she laid the foundation for what they ’re trying to do
now. ”

 73 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

“Which is what ?” said Harry impatiently.
“Okay, you know she wrote that you were collapsing all over the place
and saying your scar was hurting and all that? ”
“Yeah, ” said Harry, who was not likely to forget Rita Skeeter ’s sto - ries
about him in a hurry.
“Well, they ’re writing about you as though you ’re this deluded,
attention -seeking person who thinks he ’s a great tragic hero or some -
thing, ” said Hermione, very fast, as though it would be less unpleasant
for Harry to hear these facts quickly. “They keep slipping in sni de
comments about you. If some far -fetched story appears they say some -
thing like ‘a tale worthy of Harry Potter ’ and if anyone has a funny
accident or anything it ’s ‘let ’s hope he hasn ’t got a scar on his forehead
or we ’ll be asked to worship him next — ’”
“I don ’t want anyone to worship — ” Harry began hotly. “I know you
don ’t,” said Hermione quickly, looking frightened.
“I know, Harry. But you see what they ’re doing? They want to turn
you into someone nobody will believe. Fudge is behind it, I ’ll bet
anything. They want wizards on the street to think you ’re just some
stupid boy who ’s a bit of a joke, who tells ridiculous tall stories because
he loves being famous and wants to keep it going. ”
“I didn ’t ask — I didn ’t want — Voldemort killed my parents !”
Harry spluttered. “I got famous because he murdered my family but
couldn ’t kill me! Who wants to be famous for that? Don ’t they think I ’d
rather it ’d never — ”
“We know, Harry, ” said Ginny earnestly.
“And of course, they didn ’t report a wo rd about the dementors at -
tacking you, ” said Hermione. “Someone ’s told them to keep that quiet.
That should ’ve been a really big story, out -of -control demen - tors. They
haven ’t even reported that you broke the International Statute of Secrecy
— we though t they would, it would tie in so well with this image of you
as some stupid show -off — we think they ’re
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NUMBER
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biding their time until you ’re expelled, then they ’re really going to go
to town — I mean, if you ’re expelled, obviously, ” she went on hastily,
“you really shouldn ’t be, not if they abide by their own laws, there ’s no
case against you. ”
They were back on the hearing and Harry did not want to think about it.
He cast around for an other change of subject, but was saved the
necessity of finding one by the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs.
“Uh -oh. ”
Fred gave the Extendable Ear a hearty tug; there was another loud crack
and he and George vanished. Seconds later, Mrs. Weasley ap - peared in
the bedroom doorway.
“The meeting ’s over, you can come down and have dinner now,
everyone ’s dying to see you, Harry. And who ’s left all those Dung -
bombs outside the kitchen door? ”
“Crookshanks, ” said Ginny unblushingly. “He loves playing with them. ”
“Oh, ” said Mrs. Weasley, “I thought it might have been Kreacher, he
keeps doing odd things like that. Now don ’t forget to keep your voices
down in the hall. Ginny, your hands are filthy, what have you been doing?
Go and wash them before dinner, please. . . . ”
Ginny grimaced at the others and followed her mother out of the room,
leaving Harry alone with Ron and Hermione again. Both of them were
watching him apprehensively, as th ough they feared that he would start
shouting again now that everyone else had gone. The sight of them
looking so nervous made him feel slightly ashamed.
“Look . . . ” he muttered, but Ron shook his head, and Hermione said
quietly, “We knew you ’d be angry, Harry, we really don ’t blame
you, but you ’ve got to understand, we did try and persuade Dumble -
dore — ”
“Yeah, I know, ” said Harry grudgingly.
 75 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

He cast around for a topic to change the subject from Dumble - dore —
the very thought of him made Harry ’s insides burn with anger again.
“Who ’s Kreacher? ” he asked.
“The house -elf who lives here, ” said Ron. “Nutter. Never met one like
him. ”
Hermione frowned at Ron.
“He ’s not a nutter, Ron — ”
“His life ’s ambition is to have his head cut off and stuck up on a plaque
just like his mother, ” said Ron irritably. “Is that normal, Hermione? ”
“Well — well, if he is a bit strange, it ’s not his fault — ”
Ron rolled his eyes at Harry.
“Hermione still hasn ’t given up on spew — ”
“It’s not ‘spew ’!” said Hermione heatedly. “It’s the Society for the
Promotion of Elfish Welfare, and it ’s not just me, Dumbledore says we
should be kind to Kreacher too — ”
“Yeah, yeah, ” said Ron. “C’mon, I ’m starving. ”
He led the way out of the door and onto the landing, but before they
could descend the stairs — “Hold it! ” Ron breathed, flinging out an arm
to stop Harry and Hermione wal king any farther. “They ’re still in the hall,
we might be able to hear something — ”
The three of them looked cautiously over the banisters. The gloomy
hallway below was packed with witches and wizards, including all of
Harry ’s guard. They were whispering excitedly together. In the very
center of the group Harry saw the dark, greasy -haired head and promi -
nent nose of his least favorite teacher at Hogwarts, Professor Snape.
Harry leaned farther over the banisters. He was very interested in what
Snape was do ing for the Order of the Phoenix. . . .
A thin piece of flesh -colored string descended in front of Harry ’s eyes.
Looking up he saw Fred and George on the landing above, cau - tiously
lowering the Extendable Ear toward the dark knot of people
 76 ‘

NUMBER
TWELVE,
GRIMMAULD PLACE
below. A moment later, however, they began to move toward the front
door and out of sight.
“Dammit, ” Harry heard Fred whisper, as he hoisted the Extendable Ear
back up again.
They heard the front door open and then close. “Snape never eats here, ”
Ron told Harry quietly. “Thank God. C ’mon. ”
“And don ’t forget to keep your voice down in the hall, Harry, ”
Hermione whispered.
As they passed the row of house -elf heads on the wall they saw Lupin,
Mrs. Weasley, and Tonks at the front door, magically sealing its many
locks and bolts behind those who had just left.
“We ’re eating down in the kitchen, ” Mrs. Weasley whispered, meeting
them at the bottom of the stairs. “Harry, dear, if you ’ll just tiptoe across
the hall, it ’s through this door here — ”
CRASH.
“ Tonks !” cried Mrs. Weasley exasperatedly, turning to look behind
her.
“I’m sorry! ” wailed Tonks, who was lying flat on the floor. “It’s that
stupid umbrella stand, that ’s the second t ime I ’ve tripped over — ” But
the rest of her words were drowned by a horrible, earsplitting,
bloodcurdling screech.
The moth -eaten velvet curtains Harry had passed earlier had flown apart,
but there was no door behind them. For a split second, Harry thoug ht he
was looking through a window, a window behind which an old woman
in a black cap was screaming and screaming as though she was being
tortured — then he realized it was simply a life -size por - trait, but the
most realistic, and the most unpleasant, he had ever seen in his life.
The old woman was drooling, her eyes were rolling, the yellowing skin of
her face stretched taut as she screamed, and all along the hall behind
them, the other portraits awoke and began to yell too, so that
 77 ‘

CHAPTER FOUR

Harry actually screwed up his eyes at the noise and clapped his hands
over his ears.
Lupin and Mrs. Weasley darted forward and tried to tug the cur - tains
shut over the old woman, but they would not close a nd she screeched
louder than ever, brandishing clawed hands as though try - ing to tear at
their faces.
“ Filth! Scum! By -products of dirt and vileness! Half -breeds, mutants, freaks,
begone from this place! How dare you befoul the house of my
fathers — ”
Tonks apologized over and over again, at the same time dragging the
huge, heavy troll ’s leg back off the floor. Mrs. Weasley abandoned the
attempt to close the curtains and hurried up and down the hall, Stunning
all the other portraits with her wand. T hen a man with long black hair
came charging out of a door facing Harry.
“Shut up, you horrible old hag, shut UP! ” he roared, seizing the curtain
Mrs. Weasley had abandoned.
The old woman ’s face blanched.
“ Yoooou !” she howled, her eyes popping at th e sight of the man.
“ Blood traitor, abomination, shame of my flesh !”
“I said — shut — UP! ” roared the man, and with a stupendous ef - fort
he and Lupin managed to force the curtains closed again.
The old woman ’s screeches died and an echoing silence fell. Panting
slightly and sweeping his long dark hair out of his eyes, Harry ’s
godfather, Sirius, turned to face him.
“Hello, Harry, ” he said grimly, “I see you ’ve met my mother. ”







 78 ‘

C H A P T E R F I V E









THE
ORDER OF
THE PHOENIX



our — ?”
Y
“My dear old mum, yeah, ” said Sirius. “We ’ve been trying
to get her down for a month but we think she put a Permanent Stick - ing
Charm on the back of the canvas. Let ’s get downstairs, quick, before
they all wake up again. ”
“But what ’s a portrait of your mother doing here? ” Harry asked,
bewildered, as they went through the door from the hall and led the way
down a flight of narrow stone steps, the others just behind them.
“Hasn ’t anyone told you? This was my parents ’ house, ” said Sirius. “But
I’m the last Black left, so it ’s mine now. I offered it to Dumbledore f or
headquarters — about the only useful thing I ’ve been able to do. ” Harry,
who had expected a better welcome, noted how hard and bitter Sirius ’s
voice sounded. He followed his godfather to the bottom of the stairs

and through a door leading into the basem ent kitchen.
It was scarcely less gloomy than the hall above, a cavernous room with
rough stone walls. Most of the light was coming from a large fire at the
far end of the room. A haze of pipe smoke hung in the air like battle
fumes, through which loome d the menacing shapes of heavy
 79 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

iron pots and pans hanging from the dark ceiling. Many chairs had been
crammed into the room for the meeting and a long wooden table stood
in the middle of the room, litt ered with rolls of parchment, gob - lets,
empty wine bottles, and a heap of what appeared to be rags. Mr. Weasley
and his eldest son, Bill, were talking quietly with their heads together at
the end of the table.
Mrs. Weasley cleared her throat. Her husband, a thin, balding, red -
haired man, who wore horn -rimmed glasses, looked around and jumped
to his feet.
“Harry! ” Mr. Weasley said, hurrying forward to greet him and shaking
his hand vigorously. “Good to see you! ”
Over his shoulder Harry saw Bill, who still wore his long hair in a
ponytail, hastily rolling up the lengths of parchment left on the table.
“Journey all right, Harry? ” Bill called, trying to gather up twelve scrolls at
once. “Mad -Eye didn ’t make you co me via Greenland, then? ”
“He tried, ” said Tonks, striding over to help Bill and immediately
sending a candle toppling onto the last piece of parchment. “Oh
no — sorry — ”
“Here, dear, ” said Mrs. Weasley, sounding exasperated, and she re -
paired the p archment with a wave of her wand: In the flash of light
caused by Mrs. Weasley ’s charm, Harry caught a glimpse of what looked
like the plan of a building.
Mrs. Weasley had seen him looking. She snatched the plan off the table
and stuffed it into Bill ’s heavily laden arms.
“This sort of thing ought to be cleared away promptly at the end of
meetings, ” she snapped before sweeping off toward an ancient dresser
from which she started unloading dinner plates.
Bill took out his wand, muttered “ Evanesco !” and the scrolls
vanished.
“Sit down, Harry, ” said Sirius. “You ’ve met Mundungus, haven ’t you? ”
 80 ‘

THE ORDER
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PHOENIX
The thing Harry had taken to be a pile of rags gave a prolonged, grunting
snore and then jerked awake.
“Some ’n say m ’ name? ” Mundungus mumbled sleepily. “I ’gree with
Sirius. . . . ”
He raised a very grubby hand in the air as though voting, his droopy,
bloodshot eyes unfocused. Ginny giggled.
“The meeting ’s over , Dung, ” said Sirius, as they all sat down around him
at the table. “Harry ’s arrived. ”
“Eh? ” said Mundungus, peering balefully at Harry through his matted
ginger hair. “Blimey, so ’e ’as. Yeah . . . you all right, ’arry? ” “Yeah, ” said
Harry.
Mundungus fumbled nervously in his pockets, still staring at Harry, and
pulled out a grimy black pipe. He stuck it in his mouth, ignited the end of
it with his wand, and took a deep pull on it. Great billowing clouds of
greenish smoke obscured him in seconds.
“Owe you a ’pology, ” grunted a voice from the middle of the smelly
cloud.
“For the last time, Mundungus, ” called Mrs. Weasley, “will you
please not smoke that thing in the kitchen, especially not when we ’re
about to eat! ”
“Ah, ” said Mundungus. “Ri ght. Sorry, Molly. ”
The cloud of smoke vanished as Mundungus stowed his pipe back in his
pocket, but an acrid smell of burning socks lingered.
“And if you want dinner before midnight I ’ll need a hand, ” Mrs. Weasley
said to the room at large. “No, you can stay where you are, Harry dear,
you ’ve had a long journey — ”
“What can I do, Molly? ” said Tonks enthusiastically, bounding for -
ward.
Mrs. Weasley hesitated, looking apprehensive.
“Er — no, it ’s all right, Tonks, you have a rest too, you ’ve done enough
today — ”
“No, no, I want to help! ” said Tonks brightly, knocking over a chair

 81 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

as she hurried toward the dresser from which Ginny was collecting
cutlery.
Soon a series of heavy knives were chopping meat and vegetables of
their own accord, supervised by Mr. Weasley, while Mrs. Weasley stirred
a cauldron dangling over the fire and the others took out plates, more
goblets, and food from the pantry. Harry was l eft at the table with Sirius
and Mundungus, who was still blinking mournfully at him.
“Seen old Figgy since? ” he asked.
“No, ” said Harry, “I haven ’t seen anyone. ”
“See, I wouldn ’t ’ave left, ” said Mundungus, leaning forward, a pleading
note in his v oice, “but I ’ad a business opportunity — ” Harry felt
something brush against his knees and started, but it was only
Crookshanks, Hermione ’s bandy -legged ginger cat, who wound himself
once around Harry ’s legs, purring, then jumped onto Sirius ’s lap and
cur led up. Sirius scratched him absentmindedly behind the ears as he
turned, still grim -faced, to Harry.
“Had a good summer so far? ”
“No, it ’s been lousy, ” said Harry.
For the first time, something like a grin flitted across Sirius ’s face.
“Don ’t know what you ’re complaining about, myself. ”
“ What ?” said Harry incredulously.
“Personally, I ’d have welcomed a dementor attack. A deadly strug - gle
for my soul would have broken the monotony nicely. You think you ’ve
had it bad, at least you ’ve been able to get out and about, stretch your
legs, get into a few fights. . . . I ’ve been stuck inside for a month. ”
“How come? ” asked Harry, frowning.
“Because the Ministry of Magic ’s still after me, and Voldemort will know
all about me being an Animagus b y now, Wormtail will have told him,
so my big disguise is useless. There ’s not much I can do for the Order of
the Phoenix . . . or so Dumbledore feels. ”
 82 ‘

THE ORDER
OF THE
PHOENIX
There was something about the slightly flattened tone of voice in which
Sirius uttered Dumbledore ’s name that told Harry that Sirius was not
very happy with the headmaster either. Harry felt a sudden upsurge of
affection for his godfather.
“At least you ’ve known what ’s been going on, ” he said bracingly. “Oh
yeah, ” said Sirius sarcastically. “Listening to Snape ’s reports, having to
take all his snide hints that he ’s out there risking his life while I ’m sat on
my backside here having a nice comfortable tim e . . . asking me how the
cleaning ’s going — ”
“What cleaning? ” asked Harry.
“Trying to make this place fit for human habitation, ” said Sirius, waving
a hand around the dismal kitchen. “No one ’s lived here for ten years, not
since my dear mother died, u nless you count her old house -elf, and he ’s
gone round the twist, hasn ’t cleaned anything in ages — ”
“Sirius? ” said Mundungus, who did not appear to have paid any
attention to this conversation, but had been minutely examining an
empty goblet. “This sol id silver, mate? ”
“Yes, ” said Sirius, surveying it with distaste. “Finest fifteenth - century
goblin -wrought silver, embossed with the Black family crest. ” “That ’d
come off, though, ” muttered Mundungus, polishing it with his cuff.
“Fred — George — NO, JUST CARRY THEM! ” Mrs. Weasley
shrieked.
Harry, Sirius, and Mundungus looked around and, a split second later,
dived away from the table. Fred and George had bewitched a large
cauldron of stew, an iron flagon of butterbeer, and a heavy wooden
breadbo ard, complete with knife, to hurtle through the air toward them.
The stew skidded the length of the table and came to a halt just before
the end, leaving a long black burn on the wooden sur - face, the flagon of
butterbeer fell with a crash, spilling its co ntents everywhere, and the
bread knife slipped off the board and landed,
 83 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

point down and quivering ominously, exactly where Sirius ’s right hand
had been seconds before.
“FOR HEAVEN ’S SAKE! ” screamed Mrs. Weasley. “THERE WAS
NO NEED — I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS — JUST BE - CAUSE
YOU ’RE ALLOWED TO USE MAGIC NOW YOU DON ’T HAVE
TO WHIP YOUR WANDS OUT FOR EVERY TINY LITTLE
THING! ”
“We were just trying to save a bit of time! ” said Fred, hurrying for - ward
and wrenching the bread knife out of the table. “Sorry Sirius, mate —
didn ’t mean to — ”
Harry and Sirius were both laughing. Mundungus, who had top - pled
backward off his chair, was swearing as he got to his feet. Crook - shanks
had given an angry hiss and shot off under the dresser, from whence his
large yellow eyes glowed in the darkness.
“Boys, ” Mr. Weasley said, lifting the stew back into the middle of the
table, “your mother ’s right, you ’re supposed to show a sense of re -
sponsibility now you ’ve come of age — ”
“— none of your brothers caused this sort of trouble! ” Mrs. Weasley
raged at the twins, slamming a fresh flagon of butterbeer onto the table
and spilling almost as much again. “Bill didn ’t feel the need to Apparate
every few feet! Char lie didn ’t Charm everything he met! Percy — ”
She stopped dead, catching her breath with a frightened look at her
husband, whose expression was suddenly wooden.
“Let ’s eat, ” said Bill quickly.
“It looks wonderful, Molly, ” said Lupin, ladling stew onto a plate for her
and handing it across the table.
For a few minutes there was silence but for the chink of plates and
cutlery and the scraping of chairs as everyone settled down to their food.
Then Mrs. Weasley turned to Si rius and said, “I’ve been mean - ing to tell
you, there ’s something trapped in that writing desk in the drawing room,
it keeps rattling and shaking. Of course, it could just
 84 ‘

THE ORDER
OF THE
PHOENIX
be a boggart, but I t hought we ought to ask Alastor to have a look at it
before we let it out. ”
“Whatever you like, ” said Sirius indifferently.
“The curtains in there are full of doxies too, ” Mrs. Weasley went on. “I
thought we might try and tackle them tomorrow. ”
“I look forward to it, ” said Sirius. Harry heard the sarcasm in his voice,
but he was not sure that anyone else did.
Opposite Harry, Tonks was entertaining Hermione and Ginny by
transforming her nose between mouthfuls. Screwing up her eyes each
time with t he same pained expression she had worn back in Harry ’s
bedroom, her nose swelled to a beaklike protuberance like Snape ’s,
shrank to something resembling a button mushroom, and then sprouted
a great deal of hair from each nostril. Apparently this was a regu lar
mealtime entertainment, because after a while Hermione and Ginny
started requesting their favorite noses.
“Do that one like a pig snout, Tonks . . . ”
Tonks obliged, and Harry, looking up, had the fleeting impression that a
female Dudley was grinnin g at him from across the table. Mr. Weasley,
Bill, and Lupin were having an intense discussion about goblins.
“They ’re not giving anything away yet, ” said Bill. “I still can ’t work out
whether they believe he ’s back or not. ’Course, they might prefer not to
take sides at all. Keep out of it. ”
“I’m sure they ’d never go over to You -Know -Who, ” said Mr. Weasley,
shaking his head. “They ’ve suffered losses too. Remember that goblin
family he murdered last time, somewhere near Nottingham? ”
“I think it depen ds what they ’re offered, ” said Lupin. “And I ’m not
talking about gold; if they ’re offered freedoms we ’ve been denying them
for centuries they ’re going to be tempted. Have you still not had any luck
with Ragnok, Bill? ”
“He ’s feeling pretty anti -wizard at the moment, ” said Bill. “He
 85 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

hasn ’t stopped raging about the Bagman business, he reckons the
Ministry did a cover -up, those goblins never got their gold from him,
you kno w — ”
A gale of laughter from the middle of the table drowned the rest of Bill ’s
words. Fred, George, Ron, and Mundungus were rolling around in their
seats.
“. . . and then, ” choked Mundungus, tears running down his face, “and
then, if you ’ll believe it, ’e says to me, ’e says, ‘’ere, Dung, where didja get
all them toads from? ’Cos some son of a Bludger ’s gone and nicked all
mine! ’ And I says, ‘Nicked all your toads, Will, what next? So you ’ll be
wanting some more, then? ’ And if you ’ll belie ve me, lads, the gormless
gargoyle buys all ’is own toads back orf me for twice what ’e paid in the
first place — ”
“I don ’t think we need to hear any more of your business dealings, thank
you very much, Mundungus, ” said Mrs. Weasley sharply, as Ron
slum ped forward onto the table, howling with laughter.
“Beg pardon, Molly, ” said Mundungus at once, wiping his eyes and
winking at Harry. “But, you know, Will nicked ’em orf Warty Harris in
the first place so I wasn ’t really doing nothing wrong — ”
“I don ’t know where you learned about right and wrong, Mundun - gus,
but you seem to have missed a few crucial lessons, ” said Mrs. Weasley
coldly.
Fred and George buried their faces in their goblets of butterbeer;
George was hiccuping. For some reason, Mrs. Weasle y threw a very
nasty look at Sirius before getting to her feet and going to fetch a large
rhubarb crumble for pudding. Harry looked round at his godfather.
“Molly doesn ’t approve of Mundungus, ” said Sirius in an undertone.
“How come he ’s in the Order? ” Ha rry said very quietly. “He ’s useful, ”
Sirius muttered. “Knows all the crooks — well, he would, seeing as he ’s
one himself. But he ’s also very loyal to Dumble -
 86 ‘

THE ORDER
OF THE
PHOENIX
dore, who helped him out of a tight spot once. It pays to have some - one
like Dung around, he hears things we don ’t. But Molly thinks inviting
him to stay for dinner is going too far. She hasn ’t forgiven him for
slipping off duty when he was supposed to be tailing you. ”
Three hel pings of rhubarb crumble and custard later and the waist - band
on Harry ’s jeans was feeling uncomfortably tight (which was saying
something, as the jeans had once been Dudley ’s). He lay down his spoon
in a lull in the general conversation. Mr. Weasley was lean - ing back in his
chair, looking replete and relaxed, Tonks was yawning widely, her nose
now back to normal, and Ginny, who had lured Crookshanks out from
under the dresser, was sitting cross -legged on the floor, rolling
butterbeer corks for him to cha se.
“Nearly time for bed, I think, ” said Mrs. Weasley on a yawn. “Not just
yet, Molly, ” said Sirius, pushing away his empty plate and turning to
look at Harry. “You know, I ’m surprised at you. I thought the first thing
you ’d do when you got here would be to start asking questions about
Voldemort. ”
The atmosphere in the room changed with the rapidity Harry as -
sociated with the arrival of dementors. Where seconds before it had
been sleepily relaxed, it was now alert, even tense. A frisson had gone
around the table at the mention of Voldemort ’s name. Lupin, who had
been about to take a sip of wine, lowered his goblet slowly, look - ing
wary.
“I did! ” said Harry indignantly. “I asked Ron and Hermione but they
said we ’re not allowed in the Order, so — ”
“And they ’re quite right, ” said Mrs. Weasley. “You ’re too young. ” She
was sitting bolt upright in her chair, her fists clenched upon its arms,
every trace of drowsiness gone.
“Since when did someone have to be in the Order of the Phoenix to ask
questions? ” asked Sirius. “Harry ’s been trapped in that Muggle house for
a month. He ’s got the right to know what ’s been happen — ”

 87 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

“Hang on! ” interrupted George loudly.
“How come Harry gets his questions answered? ” said Fred angrily.
“ We ’ve been trying to get stuff out of you for a month and you
haven ’t told us a single stinking thing! ” said George.
“‘You ’re too young, you ’re not in the Order, ’” said Fred, in a high -
pitched voice that sounded uncannily like his mother ’s. “Harry ’s not
even of age! ”
“It’s not my fault you haven ’t been told what the Order ’s doing, ” said
Sirius calmly. “That ’s your parents ’ decision. Harry, on the other hand
— ”
“It’s not down to you to decide what ’s good for Harry! ” said Mrs.
Weasley sharply. Her normally kindly face looked dangerous. “You
haven ’t forgotten what Dumbledore said, I suppose? ”
“Which bit? ” Sirius asked politely, but with an air as though ready - ing
himself for a fight.
“The bit about not telling Harry more than he needs to know, ” said
Mrs. Weasley, placing a heavy emphasis on the last three words. Ron,
Hermione, Fred, and George ’s heads turned from Sirius to Mrs. Weasley
as though following a tennis rally. Ginny was kneeling amid a pile of
abandoned butterbeer corks, watching the conversation with her mouth
slightly open. Lupin ’s eyes were fixed on Sirius.
“I don ’t intend to tell him more than he needs to know , Molly, ” said
Sirius. “But as he was the one who saw Voldemort come back ” (again,
there was a collective shudder around the table at the name), “he has
more right than most to — ”
“He ’s not a member of the Order of the Phoenix! ” said Mrs. Weasley.
“He ’s only fifteen and — ”
“— and he ’s dealt with as much as most in the Order, ” said Sirius, “and
more than some — ”
“No one ’s denying what he ’s done! ” said Mrs. Weasley, her voice ris -
ing, her fists trembling on the arms of her chair. “But he ’s still — ” “He ’s
not a child! ” said S irius impatiently.
 88 ‘

THE ORDER
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PHOENIX
“He ’s not an adult either! ” said Mrs. Weasley, the color rising in her
cheeks. “He ’s not James, Sirius! ”
“I’m perfectly clear who he is, thanks, Molly, ” said Sirius coldly. “I’m not
sure you are! ” said Mrs. Weasley. “Sometimes, the way you talk about
him, it ’s as though you think you ’ve got your best friend back! ”
“What ’s wrong with that? ” said Harry.
“What ’s wrong, Harry, is that you are not your f ather, however
much you might look like him! ” said Mrs. Weasley, her eyes still bor - ing
into Sirius. “You are still at school and adults responsible for you should
not forget it! ”
“Meaning I ’m an irresponsible godfather? ” demanded Sirius, his voice
rising.
“Meaning you ’ve been known to act rashly, Sirius, which is why
Dumbledore keeps reminding you to stay at home and — ”
“We ’ll leave my instructions from Dumbledore out of this, if you
please! ” said Sirius loudly.
“Arthur! ” said Mrs. Weasley, rounding on her husband. “Arthur, back
me up! ”
Mr. Weasley did not speak at once. He took off his glasses and cleaned
them slowly on his robes, not looking at his wife. Only when he had
replaced them carefully on his nose did he say, “Dumbledore knows the
position has changed, Molly. He accepts that Harry will have to be filled
in to a certain extent now that he is staying at head - quarters — ”
“Yes, but there ’s a difference between that and inviting him to ask
whatever he likes! ”
“Personally, ” said Lupin quietly, looking away from Sirius at last, as Mrs.
Weasley turned quickly to him, hopeful that finally she was about to get
an ally, “I think it better that Harry gets the facts — not all the facts,
Molly, but the general picture — from us, rather than a garbled version
from . . . others. ”
 89 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

His expression was mild, but Harry felt sure that Lupin, at least, knew
that some Extendable Ears had survived Mrs. Weasley ’s purge. “Well, ”
said Mrs. Weasley, breathing deeply and looking around the table for
support that did not come, “well . . . I can see I ’m going to be overruled.
I’ll just say this: Dumbledore must have had his rea - sons for not
wanting Harry to know too much, and speakin g as some - one who has
got Harry ’s best interests at heart — ”
“He ’s not your son, ” said Sirius quietly.
“He ’s as good as, ” said Mrs. Weasley fiercely. “Who else has he got? ”
“He ’s got me! ”
“Yes, ” said Mrs. Weasley, her lip curling. “The thing is, it ’s been rather
difficult for you to look after him while you ’ve been locked up in
Azkaban, hasn ’t it? ”
Sirius started to rise from his chair.
“Molly, you ’re not the only person at this table who cares about
Harry, ” said Lupin sharply. “Sirius, sit down. ”
Mrs. Weasley ’s lower lip was trembling. Sirius sank slowly back into his
chair, his face white.
“I think Harry ought to be allowed a say in this, ” Lupin continued. “He ’s
old enough to decide for himself. ”
“I want to know what ’s been going on, ” Ha rry said at once. He did not
look at Mrs. Weasley. He had been touched by what she had said about
his being as good as a son, but he was also impatient at
her mollycoddling. . . . Sirius was right, he was not a child.
“Very well, ” said Mrs. Weasley, her voice cracking. “Ginny — Ron —
Hermione — Fred — George — I want you out of this kitchen, now. ”
There was instant uproar.
“We ’re of age! ” Fred and George bellowed together.
“If Harry ’s allowed, why can ’t I? ” shouted Ron.
“Mum, I want to! ” wailed Ginny.
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THE ORDER
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PHOENIX
“NO! ” shouted Mrs. Weasley, standing up, her eyes overbright. “I
absolutely forbid — ”
“Molly, you can ’t stop Fred and George, ” said Mr. Weasley wearily.
“They are of age — ”
“They ’re still at school — ”
“But they ’re legally adults now, ” said Mr. Weasley in the same tired
voice.
Mrs. Weasley was now scarlet in the face.
“I — oh, all right then, Fred and George can stay, but Ron — ” “Harry ’ll
tell me and Hermione everythin g you say anyway! ” said Ron hotly.
“Won ’t — won ’t you? ” he added uncertainly, meeting Harry ’s eyes.
For a split second, Harry considered telling Ron that he wouldn ’t tell
him a single word, that he could try a taste of being kept in the dark and
see how h e liked it. But the nasty impulse vanished as they looked at each
other.
“’Course I will, ” Harry said. Ron and Hermione beamed. “Fine! ”
shouted Mrs. Weasley. “Fine! Ginny — BED! ” Ginny did not go quietly.
They could hear her raging and storming at her mother all the way up the
stairs, and when she reached the hall Mrs. Black ’s earsplitting shrieks
were added to the din. Lupin hurried off to the portrait to restore calm.
It was only after he had returned, closing the kitchen door behind him
and ta king his seat at the table again, that Sirius spoke.
“Okay, Harry . . . what do you want to know? ”
Harry took a deep breath and asked the question that had been ob -
sessing him for a month.
“Where ’s Voldemort? What ’s he doing? I ’ve been trying to wa tch the
Muggle news, ” he said, ignoring the renewed shudders and winces at the
name, “and there hasn ’t been anything that looks like him yet, no funny
deaths or anything — ”
 91 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

“That ’s because there haven ’t been any suspicious deaths yet, ” said
Sirius, “not as far as we know, anyway. . . . And we know quite a lot. ”
“More than he thinks we do anyway, ” said Lupin.
“How come he ’s stopped killing people? ” Harry asked. He knew that
Voldemort had murdered more t han once in the last year alone.
“Because he doesn ’t want to draw attention to himself at the mo - ment, ”
said Sirius. “It would be dangerous for him. His comeback didn ’t come
off quite the way he wanted it to, you see. He messed it up. ”
“Or rather, you me ssed it up for him, ” said Lupin with a satisfied smile.
“How? ” Harry asked perplexedly.
“You weren ’t supposed to survive! ” said Sirius. “Nobody apart from his
Death Eaters was supposed to know he ’d come back. But you sur - vived
to bear witness. ”
“And the very last person he wanted alerted to his return the mo - ment
he got back was Dumbledore, ” said Lupin. “And you made sure
Dumbledore knew at once. ”
“How has that helped? ” Harry asked.
“Are you kidding? ” said Bill incredulously. “Dumbledore was the only
one You -Know -Who was ever scared of! ”
“Thanks to you, Dumbledore was able to recall the Order of the
Phoenix about an hour after Voldemort returned, ” said Sirius.
“So what ’s the Order been doing? ” said Harry, looking around at them
all.
“Work ing as hard as we can to make sure Voldemort can ’t carry out his
plans, ” said Sirius.
“How d ’you know what his plans are? ” Harry asked quickly.
“Dumbledore ’s got a shrewd idea, ” said Lupin, “and Dumbledore ’s
shrewd ideas normally turn out to be accurate .”
“So what does Dumbledore reckon he ’s planning? ” “Well, firstly, he
wants to build up his army again, ” said Sirius. “In
 92 ‘

THE ORDER
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PHOENIX
the old days he had huge numbers at his command; witches and wiz -
ards he ’d bullied or bewitched into following him, his faithful Death
Eaters, a great variety of Dark creatures. You heard him planning to
recruit the giants; well, they ’ll be just one group he ’s after. He ’s cer -
tainly not going to try and take on the Mi nistry of Magic with only a
dozen Death Eaters. ”
“So you ’re trying to stop him getting more followers? ”
“We ’re doing our best, ” said Lupin.
“How? ”
“Well, the main thing is to try and convince as many people as pos - sible
that You -Know -Who really has returned, to put them on their guard, ”
said Bill. “It’s proving tricky, though. ”
“Why? ”
“Because of the Ministry ’s attitude, ” said Tonks. “You saw Cor - nelius
Fudge after You -Know -Who came back, Harry. Well, he hasn ’t shifted
his position at all. He ’s absolutely refusing to believe it ’s happened. ”
“But why? ” said Harry desperately. “Why ’s he being so stupid? If
Dumbledore — ”
“Ah, well, you ’ve put your finger on the problem, ” said Mr. Weasley
with a wry smile. “ Dumbledore. ”
“Fudge is fright ened of him, you see, ” said Tonks sadly. “Frightened of
Dumbledore? ” said Harry incredulously. “Frightened of what he ’s up
to, ” said Mr. Weasley. “You see, Fudge thinks Dumbledore ’s plotting to
overthrow him. He thinks Dumble - dore wants to be Minister of
Magic. ”
“But Dumbledore doesn ’t want — ”
“Of course he doesn ’t,” said Mr. Weasley. “He ’s never wanted the
Minister ’s job, even though a lot of people wanted him to take it when
Millicent Bagnold retired. Fudge came to power instead, but he ’s never
quite forgotten how much popular support Dumbledore had, even
though Dumbledore never applied for the job. ”
 93 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

“Deep down, Fudge knows Dumbledore ’s much cleverer than he is, a
much more powerful wizard, and in the early days of his Ministry he was
forever asking Dumbledore for help and advice, ” said Lupin. “But it
seems that he ’s become fond of power now, and much more confi - dent.
He loves being Minister of Magic, and he ’s ma naged to convince himself
that he ’s the clever one and Dumbledore ’s simply stirring up trouble for
the sake of it. ”
“How can he think that? ” said Harry angrily. “How can he think
Dumbledore would just make it all up — that I’d make it all up? ”
“Because accepting that Voldemort ’s back would mean trouble like the
Ministry hasn ’t had to cope with for nearly fourteen years, ” said Sirius
bitterly. “Fudge just can ’t bring himself to face it. It ’s so much more
comfortable to convince himself Dumbledore ’s lying to destabi - lize
him. ”
“You see the problem, ” said Lupin. “While the Ministry insists there is
nothing to fear from Voldemort, it ’s hard to convince people he ’s back,
especially as they really don ’t want to believe it in the first
place. What ’s more, the Ministry ’s leaning heavily on the Daily
Prophet not to report any of what they ’re calling Dumbledore ’s rumor -
mongering, so most of the Wizarding community are completely un -
aware anything ’s happened, and that makes them easy targets for th e
Death Eaters if they ’re using the Imperius Curse. ”
“But you ’re telling people, aren ’t you? ” said Harry, looking around at Mr.
Weasley, Sirius, Bill, Mundungus, Lupin, and Tonks. “You ’re letting
people know he ’s back? ”
They all smiled humorlessly.
“Well, as everyone thinks I ’m a mad mass murderer and the Min - istry ’s
put a ten -thousand -Galleon price on my head, I can hardly stroll up the
street and start handing out leaflets, can I? ” said Sirius restlessly. “And
I’m not a very popular dinner guest wi th most of the commu - nity, ” said
Lupin. “It’s an occupational hazard of being a werewolf. ”
 94 ‘

THE ORDER
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“Tonks and Arthur would lose their jobs at the Ministry if they started
shooting their mouths off, ” said Sirius, “and it ’s very important for us to
have spies inside the Ministry, because you can bet Volde - mort will have
them. ”
“We ’ve managed to convince a couple of people, though, ” said Mr.
Weasley. “Tonks here, for one — she ’s too young to have be en in the
Order of the Phoenix last time, and having Aurors on our side is a huge
advantage — Kingsley Shacklebolt ’s been a real asset too. He ’s in charge
of the hunt for Sirius, so he ’s been feeding the Ministry infor - mation
that Sirius is in Tibet. ”
“But if none of you ’s putting the news out that Voldemort ’s back — ”
Harry began.
“Who said none of us was putting the news out? ” said Sirius. “Why
d’you think Dumbledore ’s in such trouble? ”
“What d ’you mean? ” Harry asked.
“They ’re trying to discredit him, ” said Lupin. “Didn ’t you see the
Daily Prophet last week? They reported that he ’d been voted out of the
Chairmanship of the International Confederation of Wizards because
he ’s getting old and losing his grip, but it ’s not t rue, he was voted out by
Ministry wizards after he made a speech announcing Voldemort ’s return.
They ’ve demoted him from Chief Warlock on the Wizen - gamot —
that ’s the Wizard High Court — and they ’re talking about taking away
his Order of Merlin, First Cla ss, too. ”
“But Dumbledore says he doesn ’t care what they do as long as they don ’t
take him off the Chocolate Frog cards, ” said Bill, grinning. “It’s no
laughing matter, ” said Mr. Weasley shortly. “If he carries on defying the
Ministry like this, he coul d end up in Azkaban and the last thing we want
is Dumbledore locked up. While You -Know -Who knows Dumbledore ’s
out there and wise to what he ’s up to, he ’s going to go cautiously for a
while. If Dumbledore ’s out of the way — well, You -Know -Who will
have a cl ear field. ”

 95 ‘

CHAPTER FIVE

“But if Voldemort ’s trying to recruit more Death Eaters, it ’s bound to
get out that he ’s come back, isn ’t it? ” asked Harry desperately.
“Voldemort doesn ’t march up to people ’s houses and bang on their
front doors, Harry, ” said Sirius. “He tricks, jinxes, and blackmails them.
He ’s well -practiced at operating in secrecy. In any case, gather - ing
followers is only one thing he ’s interested in, he ’s got other plans too,
plans he c an put into operation very quietly indeed, and he ’s con -
centrating on them at the moment. ”
“What ’s he after apart from followers? ” Harry asked swiftly. He thought
he saw Sirius and Lupin exchange the most fleeting of looks before
Sirius said, “Stuff he can only get by stealth. ”
When Harry continued to look puzzled, Sirius said, “Like a weapon.
Something he didn ’t have last time. ”
“When he was powerful before? ”
“Yes. ”
“Like what kind of weapon? ” said Harry. “Something worse than
the Avada Kedavra — ?”
“That ’s enough. ”
Mrs. Weasley spoke from the shadows beside the door. Harry had not
noticed her return from taking Ginny upstairs. Her arms were crossed
and she looked furious.
“I want you in bed, now. All of you, ” she added, loo king around at Fred,
George, Ron, and Hermione.
“You can ’t boss us — ” Fred began.
“Watch me, ” snarled Mrs. Weasley. She was trembling slightly as she
looked at Sirius. “You ’ve given Harry plenty of information. Any more
and you might just as well induc t him into the Order straightaway. ”
“Why not? ” said Harry quickly. “I’ll join, I want to join, I want to fight
— ”
“No. ”
It was not Mrs. Weasley who spoke this time, but Lupin.
 96 ‘

THE ORDER
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“The Order is comprised only of overage wizards, ” he said. “Wiz - ards
who have left school, ” he added, as Fred and George opened their
mouths. “There are dangers involved of which you can have no idea, any
of you . . . I think Molly ’s right, Sirius. We ’ve s aid enough. ” Sirius
half -shrugged but did not argue. Mrs. Weasley beckoned im - periously to
her sons and Hermione. One by one they stood up and Harry,
recognizing defeat, followed suit.

 97 ‘

C H A P T E R S I X









THE NOBLE AND
MOST ANCIENT HOUSE
OF BLACK


rs. Weasley followed them upstairs looking grim.
M
“I want you all to go straight to bed, no talking, ” she
said as they reached the first landing. “We ’ve got a busy day tomorrow. I
expect Ginny ’s asleep, ” she added to Hermione, “so try not to wake her
up. ”
“Asleep, yeah, right, ” said Fred in an undertone, after Hermione bade
them good night and they were climbing to the next floor. “If Ginny ’s
not lying awake waiting for Hermione to tell her everything they said
downstairs, then I ’m a flobberworm. . . . ”
“All right, Ro n, Harry, ” said Mrs. Weasley on the second landing,
pointing them into their bedroom. “Off to bed with you. ” “’Night, ”
Harry and Ron said to the twins.
“Sleep tight, ” said Fred, winking.

Mrs. Weasley closed the door behind Harry with a sharp snap. The
bedroom looked, if anything, even danker and gloomier than it had on
first sight. The blank picture on the wall was now breathing very slowly
and deeply, as though its invisible occupant was asleep. Harry put on his
pajamas, took off his glasses, and climb ed into his chilly
 98 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
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OF BLACK
bed while Ron threw Owl Treats up on top of the wardrobe to pacify
Hedwig and Pigwidgeon, who were clattering around and rustling their
wings restlessly.
“We can ’t let them out to hunt every night, ” Ron explained as he pulled
on his maroon pajamas. “Dumbledore doesn ’t want too many owls
swooping around the square, thinks it ’ll look suspicious. Oh yeah . . . I
forgot. . . . ”
He crossed to the door and bolte d it.
“What ’re you doing that for? ”
“Kreacher, ” said Ron as he turned off the light. “First night I was here
he came wandering in at three in the morning. Trust me, you don ’t want
to wake up and find him prowling around your room. Anyway . . . ” He
got into his bed, settled down under the covers, then turned to look at
Harry in the darkness. Harry could see his outline
by the moonlight filtering in through the grimy window. “ What d ’you
reckon ?”
Harry didn ’t need to ask what Ron meant.
“Well, they didn ’t tell us much we couldn ’t have guessed, did they? ” he
said, thinking of all that had been said downstairs. “I mean, all they ’ve
really said is that the Order ’s trying to stop people joining Vol — ”
There was a sharp intake of breath from Ron.
“— demort, ” said Harry firmly. “When are you going to start using
his name? Sirius and Lupin do. ”
Ron ignored this last comment. “Yeah, you ’re right, ” he said. “We
already knew nearly everything they told us, from using the Extend - able
Ears. The only new bit was — ”
Crack.
“OUCH! ”
“Keep your voice down, Ron, or Mum ’ll be back up here. ”
“You two just Apparated on my knees! ”
“Yeah, well, it ’s harder in the dark — ”
 99 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

Harry saw the blurred outlines of Fred and George leaping down from
Ron ’s bed. There was a groan of bedsprings and Harry ’s mattress
descended a few inches as George sat down near his feet.
“So, got there yet? ” said George eagerly.
“The weapon Sirius me ntioned? ” said Harry.
“Let slip, more like, ” said Fred with relish, now sitting next to Ron.
“We didn ’t hear about that on the old Extendables, did we? ”
“What d ’you reckon it is? ” said Harry.
“Could be anything, ” said Fred.
“But there can ’t be anything worse than the Avada Kedavra curse,
can there? ” said Ron. “What ’s worse than death? ”
“Maybe it ’s something that can kill loads of people at once, ” sug - gested
George.
“Maybe it ’s some particularly painful way of killing people, ” said Ron
fearfully.
“He ’s got the Cruciatus Curse for causing pain, ” said Harry. “He doesn ’t
need anything more efficient than that. ”
There was a pause and Harry knew that the others, like him, were
wondering what horrors this weapon could perpetrate.
“So who d ’you thinks got it now? ” asked George.
“I hope it ’s our side, ” said Ron, sounding slightly nervous.
“If it is, Dumbledore ’s probably keeping it, ” said Fred.
“Where? ” said Ron quickly. “Hogwarts? ”
“Bet it is! ” said George. “That ’s where he hid the Sorcerer ’s Stone! ” “A
weapon ’s going to be a lot bigger than the Stone, though! ” said Ron.
“Not necessarily, ” said Fred.
“Yeah, size is no guarantee of power, ” said George. “Look at Ginny. ”
“What d ’you mean? ” said Harry.
“You ’ve never been on the receiving end of one of her Bat -Bogey Hexes,
have you? ”
 100 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
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OF BLACK
“Shhh! ” said Fred, half -rising from the bed. “Listen! ” They fell silent.
Footsteps were coming up the stairs again. “Mum, ” said George, and
without further ado there was a loud crack and Harry felt the weight
vanish from the end of his bed. A few seconds later and they heard the
floorboard creak outside their door; Mrs. Weasley was plainly listening
to see whether they were talking or not.
Hedwig and Pigwidgeon hooted dolefully. The floorboard creaked again
and they heard her heading upstairs to check on Fred and George.
“She doesn ’t trust us at all, you know, ” said Ron regretfully. Harry was
sure he would not be able to fall asleep; the evening had been so packed
with things to think about that he fully expected to lie awake for hours
mulling it all over. He wanted to continue talking to Ron, but Mrs.
Weasley was now creaking back downstairs again, and once she had
gone he distinctly heard others making their way up - stairs. . . . In fact,
many -legged creatures were cantering softly up and down outside the
bedroom door, and Hagrid, the Care of Magical
Creatures teacher, was saying, “ Beauties, aren ’ they, eh, Harry? We ’ll be
studyin ’ weapons this term. . . . ” And Harry saw that the creatures had
cannons for heads and were wheeling to face him. . . . He ducked. . . .
The next thing he knew, he was curled in a warm ball under his
bedclothes, and George ’s loud voice was filling the room.
“Mum says get up, your breakfast is in the kitchen and then she needs
you in the drawing room, there are loads more doxies than she thought
and she ’s found a nest of dead puffskeins under the sofa. ”
Half an hour later, Harry and Ron, who had dressed and break - fasted
quickly, entered the drawing room, a long, high -ceilinged room on the
first floor with olive -green walls covered in dirty tapestries. The carpet
exhaled little clouds of dust every time s omeone put their foot on it and
the long, moss -green velvet curtains were buzzing as though swarming
with invisible bees. It was around these that Mrs. Weasley,
 101 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

Hermione, Ginny, Fred, and George were grouped, all looking rather
peculiar, as they had tied cloths over their noses and mouths. Each of
them was also holding a large bottle of black liquid with a nozzle at the
end.
“Cover your faces and take a spray, ” Mrs. Weasley said to Harry and Ron
the moment she saw them, pointing to two more bottles of black liquid
standing on a spindle -legged table. “It’s Doxycide. I ’ve
never seen an infestation this bad — what that house -elf ’s been doing
for the last ten years — ”
Hermione ’s face was half concealed by a tea towel but Harry dis - tinctly
saw her throw a reproachful look at Mrs. Weasley at these words.
“Kreacher ’s really old, he probably couldn ’t manage — ” “You ’d be
surprised what Kreacher can manage when he wants to, Hermione, ” said
Sirius, who had just entered the room carrying a bloodstained bag of
what appeared to be dead rats. “I’ve just been feed - ing Buckbeak, ” he
added, in reply to Harry ’s inquiring look. “I keep him upstairs in my
mother ’s bedroom. Anyway . . . this writing desk . . . ” He dropped the
bag of rats onto an armchair, then bent over to ex - amine the locked
cabinet which, Harry now noticed for the first time, was shaking slightly.
“Well, Mol ly, I ’m pretty sure this is a boggart, ” said Sirius, peering
through the keyhole, “but perhaps we ought to let Mad -Eye have a
shifty at it before we let it out — knowing my mother it could be
something much worse. ”
“Right you are, Sirius, ” said Mrs. Wea sley.
They were both speaking in carefully light, polite voices that told Harry
quite plainly that neither had forgotten their disagreement of the night
before.
A loud, clanging bell sounded from downstairs, followed at once by the
cacophony of screams and wails that had been triggered the previ - ous
night by Tonks knocking over the umbrella stand.
 102 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
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OF BLACK
“I keep telling them not to ring the doorbell! ” said Sirius exasperat - edly,
hurrying back out of the room. They heard him thundering down the
stairs as Mrs. Black ’s screeches echoed up through the house
once more: “Stains of dishonor, filthy half -breeds, blood traitors, children
of filth . . . ”
“Close the door, please, Harry, ” said Mrs. Weasley. Harry took as much
time as he dared to close the drawing room door; he wanted to listen to
what was going on downstairs. Sirius had obviously managed to shut the
curtains over his mother ’s portrait be - cause she had stopped scre aming.
He heard Sirius walking down the hall, then the clattering of the chain on
the front door, and then a deep voice he recognized as Kingsley
Shacklebolt ’s saying, “Hestia ’s just relieved me, so she ’s got Moody ’s
cloak now, thought I ’d leave a re - port for Dumbledore. . . . ”
Feeling Mrs. Weasley ’s eyes on the back of his head, Harry regret - fully
closed the drawing room door and rejoined the doxy party. Mrs. Weasley
was bending over to check the page on doxies in
Gilderoy Lockhart ’s Guide to Househo ld Pests, which was lying open on
the sofa.
“Right, you lot, you need to be careful, because doxies bite and their
teeth are poisonous. I ’ve got a bottle of antidote here, but I ’d rather
nobody needed it. ”
She straightened up, positioned herself squarely in front of the cur -
tains, and beckoned them all forward.
“When I say the word, start spraying immediately, ” she said. “They ’ll
come flying out at us, I expect, but it says on the sprays one good squirt
wi ll paralyze them. When they ’re immobilized, just throw them in this
bucket. ”
She stepped carefully out of their line of fire and raised her own
spray. “All right — squirt !”
Harry had been spraying only a few seconds when a fully grown doxy
came soar ing out of a fold in the material, shiny beetlelike wings
 103 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

whirring, tiny needle -sharp teeth bared, its fairylike body covered with
thick black hair and its four tiny fists clenched with fury. Harry caught it
full in the face with a blast of Doxycide; it froze in midair
and fell, with a surprisingly loud thunk , onto the worn carpet below.
Harry picked it up and threw it in the bucket.
“Fred, what are you doing? ” said Mrs. Weasley sharply. “Spray that at
once and throw it away! ”
Harry looked around. Fred was holding a struggling doxy between his
forefinger and thumb.
“Right -o,” Fred said brightly, spraying the doxy quickly in the face so
that it fainted, but the moment Mrs. Weasley ’s back was turned he
pocketed it with a wink.
“We want to experiment with doxy venom for our Skiving Snack -
boxes, ” George told Harry under his breath.
Deftly spraying two doxies at once as they soared straight for his nose,
Harry moved closer to George and muttered out of the corner of his
mouth, “What are Skiving Snackboxes? ”
“Range of sweets to make you ill, ” George whispered, keeping a wary
eye on Mrs. Weasley ’s back. “Not seriously ill, mind, just ill enough to
get you out of a class when you feel like it. Fred and I have been
developing them this summer. They ’re double -ended, color - coded
chews. If you eat the orange half of the Puking Pastilles, you throw up.
Moment you ’ve been rushed out of the lesson for the hos - pital wing,
you swallow the pur ple half — ”
“‘— which restores you to full fitness, enabling you to pursue the leisure
activity of your own choice during an hour that would other - wise have
been devoted to unprofitable boredom. ’ That ’s what we ’re putting in the
adverts, anyway, ” whisper ed Fred, who had edged over out of Mrs.
Weasley ’s line of vision and was now sweeping a few stray doxies from
the floor and adding them to his pocket. “But they still need a bit of
work. At the moment our testers are having a bit of trou - ble stopping
puki ng long enough to swallow the purple end. ”
 104 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
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OF BLACK
“Testers? ”
“Us, ” said Fred. “We take it in turns. George did the Fainting Fan - cies
— we both tried the Nosebleed Nougat — ”
“Mum thought we ’d been dueling, ” said George. “Joke shop still on,
then? ” Harry muttered, pretending to be ad - justing the nozzle on his
spray.
“Well, we haven ’t had a chance to get premises yet, ” said Fred, dropping
his voice even lower as Mrs. Weasley mopped her brow with her scarf
before returning to the attack, “so we ’re running it as a mail -
order service at the moment. We put advertisements in the Daily
Prophet last week. ”
“All thanks to you, mate, ” said George. “But don ’t worry . . . Mum
hasn ’t got a clue. She won ’t read the Daily Prophet anymore, ’cause of
it telling lies about you and Dumbledore. ”
Harry grinned. He had forced the Weasley twins to take the thou -
sand -Galleon prize money he had won in the Triwizard Tournament to
help them realize their ambition to open a joke shop, but he was still glad
to know that his part in furthering their plans was unknown to Mrs.
Weasley, who did not think that running a joke shop was a suitable
career for two of her sons.
The de -doxying of th e curtains took most of the morning. It was past
midday when Mrs. Weasley finally removed her protective scarf, sank
into a sagging armchair, and sprang up again with a cry of dis - gust,
having sat on the bag of dead rats. The curtains were no longer buzzi ng;
they hung limp and damp from the intensive spraying; un - conscious
doxies lay crammed in the bucket at the foot of them beside a bowl of
their black eggs, at which Crookshanks was now sniffing and Fred and
George were shooting covetous looks.
“I think we ’ll tackle those after lunch. ”
Mrs. Weasley pointed at the dusty glass -fronted cabinets standing on
either side of the mantelpiece. They were crammed with an odd
assortment of objects: a selection of rusty daggers, claws, a coiled

 105 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

snakeskin, a number of tarnished silver boxes inscribed with languages
Harry could not understand and, least pleasant of all, an ornate crys - tal
bottle with a large opal set into the stopper, full of what Harr y was quite
sure was blood.
The clanging doorbell rang again. Everyone looked at Mrs. Weasley.
“Stay here, ” she said firmly, snatching up the bag of rats as Mrs. Blacks
screeches started up again from down below. “I’ll bring up some
sandwiches. ”
She left the room, closing the door carefully behind her. At once,
everyone dashed over to the window to look down onto the doorstep.
They could see the top of an unkempt gingery head and a stack of pre -
cariously balanced cauldrons.
“Mundungus! ” said Hermione. “What ’s he brought all those caul - drons
for? ”
“Probably looking for a safe place to keep them, ” said Harry. “Isn ’t that
what he was doing the night he was supposed to be tailing me? Picking
up dodgy cauldrons? ”
“Yeah, you ’re right! ” sa id Fred, as the front door opened; Mundun - gus
heaved his cauldrons through it and disappeared from view. “Blimey,
Mum won ’t like that. . . . ”
He and George crossed to the door and stood beside it, listening intently.
Mrs. Black ’s screaming had stopped a gain.
“Mundungus is talking to Sirius and Kingsley, ” Fred muttered, frowning
with concentration. “Can ’t hear properly . . . d ’you reckon we can risk
the Extendable Ears? ”
“Might be worth it, ” said George. “I could sneak upstairs and get a pair
— ”
Bu t at that precise moment there was an explosion of sound from
downstairs that rendered Extendable Ears quite unnecessary. All of
them could hear exactly what Mrs. Weasley was shouting at the top of
her voice.
 106 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
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OF BLACK
“WE ARE NOT RUNNING A HIDEOUT FOR STOLEN
GOODS! ”
“I love hearing Mum shouting at someone else, ” said Fred, with a
satisfied smile on his face as he opened the door an inch or so to allow
Mrs. Weasley ’s voi ce to permeate the room better. “It makes such a nice
change. ”
“— COMPLETELY IRRESPONSIBLE, AS IF WE HAVEN ’T GOT
ENOUGH TO WORRY ABOUT WITHOUT YOU DRAG - GING
STOLEN CAULDRONS INTO THE HOUSE — ”
“The idiots are letting her get into her stride, ” said Geor ge, shaking his
head. “You ’ve got to head her off early, otherwise she builds up a head
of steam and goes on for hours. And she ’s been dying to have a go at
Mundungus ever since he sneaked off when he was supposed to be
following you, Harry — and there goe s Sirius ’s mum again — ” Mrs.
Weasley ’s voice was lost amid fresh shrieks and screams from the
portraits in the hall. George made to shut the door to drown the noise,
but before he could do so, a house -elf edged into the room. Except for
the filthy rag tied like a loincloth around its middle, it was completely
naked. It looked very old. Its skin seemed to be several times too big for
it and though it was bald like all house -elves, there was a quantity of
white hair growing out of its large, batlike ears. Its eyes were a bloodshot
and watery gray, and its fleshy nose was large and rather snoutlike.
The elf took absolutely no notice of Harry and the rest. Acting as though
it could not see them, it shuffled hunchbacked, slowly and doggedly,
toward the far end of the room, muttering under its breath all the while
in a hoarse, deep voice like a bullfrog ’s, “. . . Smells like a drain and a
criminal to boot, but she ’s no better, nasty old blood traitor with her
brats messing up my Mistress ’s house, oh my poor Mist ress, if she knew,
if she knew the scum they ’ve let in her house, what would she say to old
Kreacher, oh the shame of it, Mudbloods
 107 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

and werewolves and traitors and thieves, poor old Kreacher, what can he
do. . . . ”
“Hello, Kreacher, ” said Fred very loudly, closing the door with a snap.
The house -elf froze in his tracks, stopped muttering, and then gave a
very pronounced and very unconvincing start of surprise. “Kreacher did
not see Young Master, ” he said, turning around and bowing to Fred. Still
facing the carpet, he added, perfectly audibly, “Nasty little brat of a
blood traitor it is. ”
“Sorry? ” said George. “Didn ’t catch that last bit. ” “Kreacher said
nothing, ” said the elf, with a second bow to George, adding in a clear
undertone, “and there ’s its twin, unnatural little beasts they are. ”
Harry didn ’t know whether to laugh or not. The elf straightened up,
eyeing them all very malevolently, and apparently conv inced that they
could not hear him as he continued to mutter.
“. . . and there ’s the Mudblood, standing there bold as brass, oh if my
Mistress knew, oh how she ’d cry, and there ’s a new boy, Kreacher
doesn ’t know his name, what is he doing here, Kreacher d oesn ’t
know . . . ”
“This is Harry, Kreacher, ” said Hermione tentatively. “Harry Potter. ”
Kreacher ’s pale eyes widened and he muttered faster and more furi -
ously than ever.
“The Mudblood is talking to Kreacher as though she is my friend, if
Kreacher ’s Mistress saw him in such company, oh what would she say
— ”
“Don ’t call her a Mudblood! ” said Ron and Ginny together, very angrily.
“It doesn ’t matter, ” Hermione whispered, “he ’s not in his right mind, he
doesn ’t know what he ’s — ”
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THE NOBLE AND
MOST ANCIENT HOUSE
OF BLACK
“Don ’t kid yourself, Hermione, he knows exactly what he ’s saying, ”
said Fred, eyeing Kreacher with great dislike.
Kreacher was still muttering, his eyes on Harry. “Is it true? Is it Harry
Potter? Kreacher can see the scar, it must be true, that ’s that boy who
stopped the Dark Lord, Kreacher wonders how he did it — ”
“Don ’t we all, Kreacher? ” said Fred.
“What do you want anyway? ” George asked.
Kreacher ’s huge eyes darted onto George.
“Kreacher is cleaning, ” he said evasively.
“A likely story, ” said a voice behind Harry.
Sirius had come back; he was glowering at the elf from the door - way.
The noise in the hall had abated; perhaps Mrs. Weasley and Mu ndungus
had moved their argument down into the kitchen. At the sight of Sirius,
Kreacher flung himself into a ridiculously low bow that flattened his
snoutlike nose on the floor.
“Stand up straight, ” said Sirius impatiently. “Now, what are you up to? ”
“Kreacher is cleaning, ” the elf repeated. “Kreacher lives to serve the
noble house of Black — ”
“— and it ’s getting blacker every day, it ’s filthy, ” said Sirius. “Master
always liked his little joke, ” said Kreacher, bowing again, and continuing
in an underto ne, “Master was a nasty ungrateful swine who broke his
mother ’s heart — ”
“My mother didn ’t have a heart, Kreacher, ” Sirius snapped. “She kept
herself alive out of pure spite. ”
Kreacher bowed again and said, “Whatever Master says, ” then muttered
furiously , “Master is not fit to wipe slime from his mother ’s boots, oh my
poor Mistress, what would she say if she saw Kreacher serving him, how
she hated him, what a disappointment he was — ” “I asked you what you
were up to, ” said Sirius coldly. “Every time
 109 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

you show up pretending to be cleaning, you sneak something off to your
room so we can ’t throw it out. ”
“Kreacher would never move anything from its proper place in Master ’s
house, ” said the elf, then m uttered very fast, “Mistress would never
forgive Kreacher if the tapestry was thrown out, seven centuries it ’s been
in the family, Kreacher must save it, Kreacher will not let Master and the
blood traitors and the brats destroy it — ”
“I thought it might b e that, ” said Sirius, casting a disdainful look at the
opposite wall. “She ’ll have put another Permanent Sticking Charm on
the back of it, I don ’t doubt, but if I can get rid of it I certainly will. Now
go away, Kreacher. ”
It seemed that Kreacher did not dare disobey a direct order; never -
theless, the look he gave Sirius as he shuffled out past him was redolent
of deepest loathing and he muttered all the way out of the room.
“— comes back from Azkaban ordering Kreacher aro und, oh my poor
Mistress, what would she say if she saw the house now, scum liv - ing in it,
her treasures thrown out, she swore he was no son of hers and he ’s back,
they say he ’s a murderer too — ”
“Keep muttering and I will be a murderer! ” said Sirius irr itably, and he
slammed the door shut on the elf.
“Sirius, he ’s not right in the head, ” said Hermione pleadingly, “I don ’t
think he realizes we can hear him. ”
“He ’s been alone too long, ” said Sirius, “taking mad orders from my
mother ’s portrait and talkin g to himself, but he was always a foul little
— ”
“If you just set him free, ” said Hermione hopefully, “maybe — ” “We
can ’t set him free, he knows too much about the Order, ” said Sirius
curtly. “And anyway, the shock would kill him. You suggest to him tha t
he leaves this house, see how he takes it. ”
Sirius walked across the room, where the tapestry Kreacher had been
trying to protect hung the length of the wall. Harry and the oth - ers
followed.
 110 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
MOST ANCIENT HOUSE
OF BLACK
The tapestry looked immensely old; it was faded and looked as though
doxies had gnawed it in places; nevertheless, the golden thread with
which it was embroidered still glinted brightly enough to show them a
sprawling family tree dating back (as far as Harry could tell) to the
Middle Ages. Large words at the very top of the tapestry read:

The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black
“Toujours Pur ”

“You ’re not on here! ” said Harry, after scanning the bottom of the tree.
“I used to be there, ” said Sirius, pointing at a small, round, charred hole
in the tapestry, rather like a cigarette burn. “My sweet old mother blasted
me off after I ran away from home — Kreacher ’s qu ite fond of
muttering the story under his breath. ”
“You ran away from home? ”
“When I was about sixteen, ” said Sirius. “I’d had enough. ”
“Where did you go? ” asked Harry, staring at him.
“Your dad ’s place, ” said Sirius. “Your grandparents were really good
about it; they sort of adopted me as a second son. Yeah, I camped out at
your dad ’s during the school holidays, and then when I was seven - teen I
got a place of my own, my Uncle Alphard had left me a decent bit of
gold — he ’s been wiped off here too, that ’s probably why — anyway,
after that I looked after myself. I was always welcome at Mr. and Mrs.
Potter ’s for Sunday lunch, though. ”
“But . . . why did you . . . ? ”
“Leave? ” Sirius smiled bitterly and ran a hand through his long, un -
kempt hair. “Because I hated the whole lot of them: my parents, with
their pure -blood mania, convinced that to be a Black made you prac -
tically royal . . . my idiot brother, soft enough to believe them . . . that ’s
him. ”
Sirius jabbed a finger at the very bottom of t he tree, at the name
 111 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

regulus black. A date of death (some fifteen years previously) fol - lowed
the date of birth.
“He was younger than me, ” said Sirius, “and a much better son, as I was
constantly reminded. ”
“But he died, ” said Harry.
“Yeah, ” said Sirius. “Stupid idiot . . . he joined the Death Eaters. ”
“You ’re kidding! ”
“Come on, Harry, haven ’t you seen enough of this house to tell what
kind of wizards my family were? ” said Si rius testily.
“Were — were your parents Death Eaters as well? ”
“No, no, but believe me, they thought Voldemort had the right idea,
they were all for the purification of the Wizarding race, getting rid of
Muggle -borns and having purebloods in charge. Th ey weren ’t alone
either, there were quite a few people, before Voldemort showed his true
colors, who thought he had the right idea about things. . . . They got cold
feet when they saw what he was prepared to do to get power, though.
But I bet my parents th ought Regulus was a right lit - tle hero for joining
up at first. ”
“Was he killed by an Auror? ” Harry asked tentatively. “Oh no, ” said
Sirius. “No, he was murdered by Voldemort. Or on Voldemort ’s orders,
more likely, I doubt Regulus was ever important enou gh to be killed by
Voldemort in person. From what I found out after he died, he got in so
far, then panicked about what he was being asked to do and tried to back
out. Well, you don ’t just hand in your resignation to Voldemort. It ’s a
lifetime of service o r death. ” “Lunch, ” said Mrs. Weasley ’s voice.
She was holding her wand high in front of her, balancing a huge tray
loaded with sandwiches and cake on its tip. She was very red in the face
and still looked angry. The others moved over to her, eager for some
food, but Harry remained with Sirius, who had bent closer to the
tapestry.
 112 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
MOST ANCIENT HOUSE
OF BLACK
“I haven ’t looked at this for years. There ’s Phineas Nigellus . . . my
great -great -grandfather , see? Least popular headmaster Hogwarts ever
had . . . and Araminta Meliflua . . . cousin of my mother ’s . . . tried to
force through a Ministry Bill to make Muggle -hunting legal . . . and dear
Aunt Elladora . . . she started the family tradition of behea ding
house -elves when they got too old to carry tea trays . . . of course,
anytime the family produced someone halfway decent they were dis -
owned. I see Tonks isn ’t on here. Maybe that ’s why Kreacher won ’t take
orders from her — he ’s supposed to do whatev er anyone in the family
asks him. . . . ”
“You and Tonks are related? ” Harry asked, surprised. “Oh yeah, her
mother, Andromeda, was my favorite cousin, ” said Sirius, examining the
tapestry carefully. “No, Andromeda ’s not on here either, look — ”
He point ed to another small round burn mark between two names,
Bellatrix and Narcissa.
“Andromeda ’s sisters are still here because they made lovely, re -
spectable pure -blood marriages, but Andromeda married a Muggle -
born, Ted Tonks, so — ”
Sirius mimed blasting the tapestry with a wand and laughed sourly. Harry,
however, did not laugh; he was too busy staring at the names to the right
of Andromeda ’s burn mark. A double line of gold embroidery linked
Narcissa Black with Lucius Malfoy, and a s ingle vertical gold line from
their names led to the name Draco.
“You ’re related to the Malfoys! ”
“The pure -blood families are all interrelated, ” said Sirius. “If you ’re only
going to let your sons and daughters marry purebloods your choice is
very lim ited, there are hardly any of us left. Molly and I are cousins by
marriage and Arthur ’s something like my second cousin once removed.
But there ’s no point looking for them on here — if ever a family was a
bunch of blood traitors it ’s the Weasleys. ”
 113 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

But Harry was now looking at the name to the left of Andromeda ’s burn:
Bellatrix Black, which was connected by a double line to Rodol - phus
Lestrange.
“Lestrange . . . ” Harry said aloud. The name had stirred something in his
memory; he knew it from somewhere, but for a moment he couldn ’t
think where, though it gave him an odd, creeping sensation in the pit of
his stomach.
“They ’re in Azkaban, ” said Sirius shortly.
Ha rry looked at him curiously.
“Bellatrix and her husband Rodolphus came in with Barty Crouch,
Junior, ” said Sirius in the same brusque voice. “Rodolphus ’s brother,
Rabastan, was with them too. ”
And Harry remembered: He had seen Bellatrix Lestrange inside
Dumbledore ’s Pensieve, the strange device in which thoughts and
memories could be stored: a tall dark woman with heavy -lidded eyes,
who had stood at her trial and proclaimed her continuing allegiance to
Lord Voldemort, her pride that she had tried to find him after his
downfall and her conviction that she would one day be rewarded for her
loyalty.
“You never said she was your — ”
“Does it matter if she ’s my cousin? ” snapped Sirius. “As far as I ’m
concerned, they ’re not my family. She ’s certainly not my family. I
haven ’t seen her since I was your age, unless you count a glimpse of her
coming in to Azkaban. D ’you think I ’m proud of having relatives like
her? ”
“Sorry, ” said Harry quickly, “I didn ’t mean — I was just surprised, that ’s
all — ”
“It doesn ’t matter, don ’t apologize, ” Sirius mumbled at once. He turned
away from the tapestry, his hands deep in his pockets. “I don ’t like being
back here, ” he said, staring across the drawing room. “I never thought
I’d be stuck in this house ag ain. ”
Harry understood completely. He knew how he would feel if
 114 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
MOST ANCIENT HOUSE
OF BLACK
forced, when he was grown up and thought he was free of the place
forever, to return and live at number four, Privet Drive.
“It’s ideal for headquarters, of course, ” Sirius said. “My father put every
security measure known to Wizard -kind on it when he lived here. It ’s
Unplottable, so Muggles could never come and call — as if they ’d have
wanted to — and now Dumbledore ’s added his protec - tion, you ’d be
hard put to find a safer house anywhere. Dumbledore ’s Secret -Keeper
for the Order, you know — nobody can find headquar - ters unless he
tells them personally where it is — that note Moody showed you last
night, that was from Dumbledore. . . . ” Sirius gave a short, barklike laugh.
“If my parents could see the use it was being put to now . . . well, my
mother ’s portrait should give you some idea. . . . ” He scowled for a
momen t, then sighed.
“I wouldn ’t mind if I could just get out occasionally and do some - thing
useful. I ’ve asked Dumbledore whether I can escort you to your hearing
— as Snuffles, obviously — so I can give you a bit of moral support,
what d ’you think? ”
Harry felt as though his stomach had sunk through the dusty carpet. He
had not thought about the hearing once since dinner the previous
evening; in the excitement of being back with the people he liked best, of
hearing everything that was going on, it had completely flown his mind.
At Sirius ’s words, however, the crushing sense of dread returned to him.
He stared at Hermione and the Weasleys, all tucking into their
sandwiches, and thought how he would feel if they went back to
Hogwarts without him.
“Don ’t worry, ” Sirius said. Harry looked up and realized that Sirius had
been watching him. “I’m sure they ’re going to clear you, there ’s
definitely something in the International Statute of Secrecy about be - ing
allowed to use magic to save your own life. ”
“But if they do expel me, ” said Harry, quietly, “can I come back here and
live with you? ”
Sirius smiled sadly.

 115 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

“We ’ll see. ”
“I’d feel a lot better about the hearing if I knew I didn ’t have to go back
to the Dursleys, ” Harry pressed him.
“They must be bad if you prefer this place, ” said Sirius gloomily. “Hurry
up, you two, or there won ’t be any food left, ” Mrs. Weasley called.
Sirius heaved another great sigh, cast a dark look at the tapestry, and he
and Harry went to join the others.
Harry tried his best not to think about the hearing while they emp - tied
the glass cabinets that afternoon. Fortunately for him, it was a job that
required a lot of concentration, as many of the objects in there seemed
very reluctant to leave their dusty shelves. Sirius sustained a bad bite
from a silver snuffbox; within seconds, his bitten hand had developed an
unpleasant crusty covering like a tough brown glove. “It’s okay, ” he said,
examining the hand with int erest before tap - ping it lightly with his wand
and restoring its skin to normal, “must be Wartcap powder in there. ”
He threw the box aside into the sack where they were depositing the
debris from the cabinets; Harry saw George wrap his own hand carefully
in a cloth moments later and sneak the box into his already doxy -filled
pocket.
They found an unpleasant -looking silver instrument, something like a
many -legged pair of tweezers, which scuttled up Harry ’s arm like a
spider when he picked it up , and attempted to puncture his skin; Sirius
seized it and smashed it with a heavy book entitled
Nature ’s Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy. There was a musical box
that emitted a faintly sinister, tinkling tune when wound, and they all
found themselves becoming curiously weak and sleepy until Ginny had
the sense to slam the lid shut; also a heavy locket that none of them
could open, a number of ancient seals and, in a dusty box, an Order of
Merlin, First Class, that had been awarded to Sirius ’s grand - father for
“Services to the Ministry. ”
 116 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
MOST ANCIENT HOUSE
OF BLACK
“It means he gave them a load of gold, ” said Sirius contemptuously,
throwing the medal into the rubbish sack.
Several times, Kreacher sidled into the room and attempted to smuggle
things away under his loincloth, muttering horrible curses every time
they caught him at it. When Sirius wrested a large golden ring bearing the
Black crest from his grip Kreacher actual ly burst into furious tears and
left the room sobbing under his breath and calling Sirius names Harry
had never heard before.
“It was my father ’s,” said Sirius, throwing the ring into the sack.
“Kreacher wasn ’t quite as devoted to him as to my mother , but I still
caught him snogging a pair of my father ’s old trousers last week. ”

Mrs. Weasley kept them all working very hard over the next few days.
The drawing room took three days to decontaminate; finally the only
undesirable things left in it were the tapestry of the Black family tree,
which resisted all their attempts to remove it from the wall, and the
rattling writing desk; Moody had not dropped by headquarters yet, so
they could not be sure what was inside it.
They moved from the drawing room to a dining room on the ground
floor where they found spiders large as saucers lurking in the dresser
(Ron left the room hurriedly to make a cup of tea and did not return for
an hour and a half). The china, which bore the Black crest and motto,
was all thrown unceremoniously into a sack by Sirius, and the same fate
met a set of old photographs in tarnished silver frames, all of whose
occupants squealed shrilly as the glass covering them smashed.
Snape might refer to their work as “cleaning, ” but in Harry ’s opin - ion
they were really waging war on the house, which was putting up a very
good fight, aided and abetted by Kreacher. The house -elf kept appearing
wherever they were congregated, his muttering becoming more and
more offensive as he attempted to remove anything he could from the
rubbish sacks. Sirius went as far as to threaten him
 117 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

with clothes, but Kreacher fixed him with a watery stare and said,
“Master mus t do as Master wishes, ” before turning away and mutter - ing
very loudly, “but Master will not turn Kreacher away, no, because
Kreacher knows what they are up to, oh yes, he is plotting against the
Dark Lord, yes, with these Mudbloods and traitors and scum. . . . ” At
which Sirius, ignoring Hermione ’s protests, seized Kreacher by the back
of his loincloth and threw him bodily from the room. The doorbell rang
several times a day, which was the cue for Sirius ’s mother to start
shrieking again, and for Harry and the others to at - tempt to eavesdrop
on the visitor, though they gleaned very little from the brief glimpses and
snatches of conversation they were able to sneak before Mrs. Weasley
recalled them to their tasks. Snape flitted in and out of the house sever al
times more, though to Harry ’s relief they never came face -to -face; he
also caught sight of his Transfiguration teacher, Professor McGonagall,
looking very odd in a Muggle dress and coat, though she also seemed too
busy to linger.
Sometimes, however, th e visitors stayed to help; Tonks joined them for
a memorable afternoon in which they found a murderous old ghoul
lurking in an upstairs toilet, and Lupin, who was staying in the house
with Sirius but who left it for long periods to do mysterious work for t he
Order, helped them repair a grandfather clock that had developed the
unpleasant habit of shooting heavy bolts at passersby. Mundungus
redeemed himself slightly in Mrs. Weasley ’s eyes by res - cuing Ron from
an ancient set of purple robes that had tried t o stran - gle him when he
removed them from their wardrobe.
Despite the fact that he was still sleeping badly, still having dreams about
corridors and locked doors that made his scar prickle, Harry was
managing to have fun for the first time all summer. As long as he was
busy he was happy; when the action abated, however, whenever he
dropped his guard, or lay exhausted in bed watching blurred shad - ows
move across the ceiling, the thought of the looming Ministry
 118 ‘

THE NOBLE AND
MOST ANCIENT HOUSE
OF BLACK
hearing returned to him. Fear jabbed at his insides like needles as he
wondered what was going to happen to him if he was expelled. The idea
was so terrible that he did not dare voice it aloud, not even to Ro n and
Hermione, who, though he often saw them whispering to - gether and
casting anxious looks in his direction, followed his lead in not
mentioning it. Sometimes he could not prevent his imagination showing
him a faceless Ministry official who was snapping his wand in two and
ordering him back to the Dursleys ’ . . . but he would not go. He was
determined on that. He would come back here to Grim - mauld Place
and live with Sirius.
He felt as though a brick had dropped into his stomach when Mrs.
Weasley turned to him during dinner on Wednesday evening and said
quietly, “I’ve ironed your best clothes for tomorrow morning, Harry,
and I want you to wash your hair tonight too. A good first impression
can work wonders. ”
Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, and Ginny all stopped talking and looked
over at him. Harry nodded and tried to keep eating his chops, but his
mouth had become so dry he could not chew.
“How am I getting there? ” he asked Mrs. Weasley, trying to sound
unconcerned.
“Arthur ’s taking you t o work with him, ” said Mrs. Weasley gently. Mr.
Weasley smiled encouragingly at Harry across the table.
“You can wait in my office until it ’s time for the hearing, ” he said. Harry
looked over at Sirius, but before he could ask the question, Mrs. Weasley
had answered it.
“Professor Dumbledore doesn ’t think it ’s a good idea for Sirius to go
with you, and I must say I — ”
“— think he ’s quite right, ” said Sirius through clenched teeth.
Mrs. Weasley pursed her lips.
“When did Dumbledore tell you that? ” Harry said, staring at Sirius.
 119 ‘

CHAPTER SIX

“He came last night, when you were in bed, ” said Mr. Weasley. Sirius
stabbed moodily at a potato with his fork. Harry dropped his own eyes
to his plate. The thought that Dumbledore had been in the house on the
eve of his hearing and not asked to see him made him feel, if that were
possible, even worse.






























 120 ‘

C H A P T E R S E V E N









THE
MINISTRY
OF MAGIC


arry awoke at half -past five the next morning as abruptly and
H
completely as if somebody had yelled in his ear. For a few
moments he lay immobile as the prospect of the hearing filled every tiny
particle of his brain, then, unable to bear it, he leapt out of bed and put
on his glasses . Mrs. Weasley had laid out his freshly laundered jeans and
T-shirt at the foot of his bed. Harry scrambled into them. The blank
picture on the wall sniggered again.
Ron was lying sprawled on his back with his mouth wide open, fast
asleep. He did not st ir as Harry crossed the room, stepped out onto the
landing, and closed the door softly behind him. Trying not to think of
the next time he would see Ron, when they might no longer be fellow
students at Hogwarts, Harry walked quietly down the stairs, past t he
heads of Kreacher ’s ancestors, and into the kitchen.

He had expected it to be empty, but it was not. When he reached the
door he heard the soft rumble of voices on the other side and when he
pushed it open he saw Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Sirius, Lupin, an d Tonks
sitting there almost as though they were waiting for him.
 121 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

All were fully dressed except Mrs. Weasley, who was wearing a quilted,
purple dressing gown. She leapt to her feet the moment he entered.
“Breakfast, ” she said as she pulled out her wand and hurried over to the
fire.
“M -m -morning, Harry, ” yawned Tonks. Her hair was blonde and curly
this morning. “Sleep all right? ”
“Yeah, ” said Harry.
“I’ve b -b-been up all night, ” she said, with another shuddering yawn.
“Come and sit down. . . . ”
She drew out a chair, knocking over the one beside it in the process.
“What do you want, Harry? ” Mrs. Weasley called. “Porridge? Muffins?
Kippers? Bacon and eggs? Toast? ”
“Just — just toast, thanks, ” said Harry.
Lupin glanced at Harry, then said to Tonks, “What were you saying
about Scrimgeour? ”
“Oh . . . yeah . . . well, we need to be a bit more careful, he ’s been asking
Kingsley and me funny questions. . . . ”
Harry felt vaguely grateful that he was not required to join in the
conversation. His insides were squirming. Mrs. Weasley placed a cou -
ple of pieces of toast and marmalade in front of him; he tried to eat, but
it was like c hewing carpet. Mrs. Weasley sat down on his other side and
started fussing with his T -shirt, tucking in the label and smoothing out
creases across the shoulders. He wished she wouldn ’t. “. . . and I ’ll have
to tell Dumbledore I can ’t do night duty tomor - row, I ’m just t -t-too
tired, ” Tonks finished, yawning hugely again. “I’ll cover for you, ” said
Mr. Weasley. “I’m okay, I ’ve got a report to finish anyway. . . . ”
Mr. Weasley was not wearing wizard ’s robes but a pair of pin - striped
trousers and an old bomber jacket. He turned from Tonks to Harry.
“How are you feeling? ”
 122 ‘

THE MINISTRY OF
MAGIC


Harry shrugged.
“It’ll all be over soon, ” Mr. Weasley said bracingly. “In a few hours ’ tim e
you ’ll be cleared. ”
Harry said nothing.
“The hearing ’s on my floor, in Amelia Bones ’s office. She ’s Head of the
Department of Magical Law Enforcement and she ’s the one who ’ll be
questioning you. ”
“Amelia Bones is okay, Harry, ” said Tonks earnestly. “She ’s fair, she ’ll
hear you out. ”
Harry nodded, still unable to think of anything to say. “Don ’t lose your
temper, ” said Sirius abruptly. “Be polite and stick to the facts. ”
Harry nodded again.
“The law ’s on your side, ” said Lupin quietly. “Even unde rage wiz - ards
are allowed to use magic in life -threatening situations. ” Something very
cold trickled down the back of Harry ’s neck; for a moment he thought
someone was putting a Disillusionment Charm on him again, then he
realized that Mrs. Weasley was at tacking his hair with a wet comb. She
pressed hard on the top of his head. “Doesn ’t it ever lie flat? ” she said
desperately.
Harry shook his head.
Mr. Weasley checked his watch and looked up at Harry. “I think we ’ll go
now, ” he said. “We ’re a bit early , but I think you ’ll be better off there
than hanging around here. ”
“Okay, ” said Harry automatically, dropping his toast and getting to his
feet.
“You ’ll be all right, Harry, ” said Tonks, patting him on the arm.
“Good luck, ” said Lupin. “I’m sure it will be fine. ”
“And if it ’s not, ” said Sirius grimly, “I’ll see to Amelia Bones for
you. . . . ”
Harry smiled weakly. Mrs. Weasley hugged him.
 123 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

“We ’ve all got our fingers crossed, ” she said.
“Right, ” said Harry. “Well . . . see you later then. ” He followed Mr.
Weasley upstairs and along the hall. He could hear Sirius ’s mother
grunting in her sleep behind her curtains. Mr. Weasley unbolted the door
and they stepped out into the cold, gray dawn. “You do n’t normally walk
to work, do you? ” Harry asked him, as they set off briskly around the
square.
“No, I usually Apparate, ” said Mr. Weasley, “but obviously you can ’t,
and I think it ’s best we arrive in a thoroughly non -magical fashion . . .
makes a better impression, given what you ’re being disciplined for. . . . ”
Mr. Weasley kept his hand inside his jacket as they walked. Harry knew it
was clenched around his wand. The run -down streets were almost
deserted, but when they arrived at the miserable little Und er- ground
station they found it already full of early morning commuters. As ever
when he found himself in close proximity to Muggles going about their
daily business, Mr. Weasley was hard put to contain his enthusiasm.
“Simply fabulous, ” he whispered, indicating the automatic ticket
machines. “Wonderfully ingenious. ”
“They ’re out of order, ” said Harry, pointing at the sign. “Yes, but even
so . . . ” said Mr. Weasley, beaming fondly at them. They bought their
tickets instead from a sleepy -looking guard (Harry handled the
transaction, as Mr. Weasley was not very good with Muggle money) and
five minutes later they were boarding an Underground train that rattled
them off toward the center of London. Mr. Weasley kept anxiously
checking and rechecking the Un der - ground map above the windows.
“Four stops, Harry . . . three stops left now . . . two stops to go,
Harry . . . ”
They got off at a station in the very heart of London, swept from the train
in a tide of besuited men and women carrying briefcases. Up
 124 ‘

THE MINISTRY OF
MAGIC


the escalator they went, through the ticket barrier (Mr. Weasley
delighted with the way the stile swallowed his ticket), and emerged onto
a broad street lined with imposing -looking buildings, already full of
traffic.
“Where are we? ” said Mr. Weasley blankly, and for one heart - stopping
moment Harry thought they had gotten off at the wrong sta - tion despite
Mr. Weasley ’s continual ref erences to the map; but a second later he said,
“Ah yes . . . this way, Harry, ” and led him down a side road.
“Sorry, ” he said, “but I never come by train and it all looks rather
different from a Muggle perspective. As a matter of fact I ’ve never even
use d the visitor ’s entrance before. ”
The farther they walked, the smaller and less imposing the build - ings
became, until finally they reached a street that contained several rather
shabby -looking offices, a pub, and an overflowing dumpster. Harry had
expect ed a rather more impressive location for the Ministry of Magic.
“Here we are, ” said Mr. Weasley brightly, pointing at an old red
telephone box, which was missing several panes of glass and stood be -
fore a heavily graffittied wall. “After you, Harry. ”
He opened the telephone box door.
Harry stepped inside, wondering what on earth this was about. Mr.
Weasley folded himself in beside Harry and closed the door. It was a
tight fit; Harry was jammed against the telephone apparatus, which was
hanging crook edly from the wall as though a vandal had tried to rip it off.
Mr. Weasley reached past Harry for the receiver.
“Mr. Weasley, I think this might be out of order too, ” Harry said. “No,
no, I ’m sure it ’s fine, ” said Mr. Weasley, holding the receiver above h is
head and peering at the dial. “Let ’s see . . . six . . . ” he dialed the number,
“two . . . four . . . and another four . . . and another two . . . ”
 125 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

As the dial whirred smoothly back into place, a cool female voice
sounded inside the telephone box, not from the receiver in Mr.
Weasley ’s hand, but as loudly and plainly as though an invisible woman
were standing right beside them.
“Welcome to the Min istry of Magic. Please state your name and
business. ”
“Er . . . ” said Mr. Weasley, clearly uncertain whether he should talk into
the receiver or not; he compromised by holding the mouthpiece to his
ear, “Arthur Weasley, Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office , here to escort
Harry Potter, who has been asked to attend a disciplinary hearing. . . . ”
“Thank you, ” said the cool female voice. “Visitor, please take the badge
and attach it to the front of your robes. ”
There was a click and a rattle, and Harry saw something slide out of the
metal chute where returned coins usually appeared. He picked
it up: It was a square silver badge with Harry Potter, Disciplinary Hear -
ing on it. He pinned it to the front of his T -shirt as the female voice
spoke again.
“Visitor to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and
present your wand for registration at the security desk, which is lo - cated
at the far end of the Atrium. ”
The floor of the telephone box shuddered. They were sinking slowly
into the ground. Harry watched apprehensively as the pave - ment rose
up past the glass windows of the telephone box until dark - ness closed
over their heads. Then he could see nothing at all; he could only hear a
dull grinding noise as the telephone box made its wa y down through the
earth. After about a minute, though it felt much longer to Harry, a chink
of golden light illuminated his feet and, widening, rose up his body, until
it hit him in the face and he had to blink to stop his eyes from watering.
“The Minist ry of Magic wishes you a pleasant day, ” said the woman ’s
voice.
 126 ‘

THE MINISTRY OF
MAGIC


The door of the telephone box sprang open and Mr. Weasley stepped
out of it, followed by Harry, whose mouth had fallen open. They were
standing at one end of a very long and splendid hall with a highly
polished, dark wood floor. The peacock -blue ceiling was inlaid with
gleaming golden symbols that were continually moving and chang - ing
like some enormous heavenly notice board. T he walls on each side were
paneled in shiny dark wood and had many gilded fireplaces set into them.
Every few seconds a witch or wizard would emerge from one of
the left -hand fireplaces with a soft whoosh ; on the right -hand side,
short
queues of wiza rds were forming before each fireplace, waiting to depart.
Halfway down the hall was a fountain. A group of golden statues, larger
than life -size, stood in the middle of a circular pool. Tallest of them all
was a noble -looking wizard with his wand pointing straight up in the air.
Grouped around him were a beautiful witch, a centaur, a goblin, and a
house -elf. The last three were all looking adoringly up at the witch and
wizard. Glittering jets of water were flying from the ends of the two
wands, the point o f the centaur ’s arrow, the tip of the goblin ’s hat, and
each of the house -elf ’s ears, so that the tinkling hiss of falling water was
added to the pops and cracks of Apparators and the clatter of footsteps
as hundreds of witches and wizards, most of whom we re wearing glum,
early -morning looks, strode toward a set of golden gates at the far end of
the hall.
“This way, ” said Mr. Weasley.
They joined the throng, wending their way between the Ministry
workers, some of whom were carrying tottering piles of pa rchment,
others battered briefcases, still others reading the Daily Prophet as they
walked. As they passed the fountain Harry saw silver Sickles and bronze
Knuts glinting up at him from the bottom of the pool. A small, smudged
sign beside it read:
All proceeds from the Fountain of Magical Brethren

will be given to St. Mungo ’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and
Injuries
 127 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

If I ’m not expelled from Hogwarts, I ’ll put in ten Galleons, Harry
found himself thinking desperately.
“Over here, Harry, ” said Mr. Weasley, and they stepped out of the
stream of Ministry employees heading for the golden gates, toward a
desk on the left, over which hung a sign saying security. A badly shaven
wizard in peacock -blue robes looked up as they approached
and put down his Daily Prophet.
“I’m escorting a visitor, ” said Mr. Weasley, gesturing toward Harry.
“Step over here, ” said the wizard in a bored voice.
Harry walked closer to him and the wizard held u p a long golden rod,
thin and flexible as a car aerial, and passed it up and down Harry ’s front
and back.
“Wand, ” grunted the security wizard at Harry, putting down the golden
instrument and holding out his hand.
Harry produced his wand. The wiz ard dropped it onto a strange brass
instrument, which looked something like a set of scales with only one
dish. It began to vibrate. A narrow strip of parchment came speeding out
of a slit in the base. The wizard tore this off and read the writing upon it.
“Eleven inches, phoenix -feather core, been in use four years. That
correct? ”
“Yes, ” said Harry nervously.
“I keep this, ” said the wizard, impaling the slip of parchment on a small
brass spike. “You get this back, ” he added, thrusting the wand at Ha rry.
“Thank you. ”
“Hang on. . . . ” said the wizard slowly.
His eyes had darted from the silver visitor ’s badge on Harry ’s chest to his
forehead.
“Thank you, Eric, ” said Mr. Weasley firmly, and grasping Harry by the
shoulde r, he steered him away from the desk and back into the stream of
wizards and witches walking through the golden gates.
 128 ‘

THE MINISTRY OF
MAGIC


Jostled slightly by the crowd, Harry followed Mr. Weasley through the
gates into the smaller hall beyond, where at least twenty lifts stood
behind wrought golden grilles. Harry and Mr. Weasley joined the crowd
around one of them. A big, bearded wizard holding a large cardboard
box stood nearby. The box was emitting rasping no ises. “All right,
Arthur? ” said the wizard, nodding at Mr. Weasley. “What ’ve you got
there, Bob? ” asked Mr. Weasley, looking at the box.
“We ’re not sure, ” said the wizard seriously. “We thought it was a
bog -standard chicken until it started breathing fi re. Looks like a seri - ous
breach of the Ban on Experimental Breeding to me. ”
With a great jangling and clattering a lift descended in front of them; the
golden grille slid back and Harry and Mr. Weasley moved in - side it with
the rest of the crowd. Harry found himself jammed against the back wall
of the lift. Several witches and wizards were looking at him curiously; he
stared at his feet to avoid catching anyone ’s eye, flat - tening his fringe as
he did so. The gr illes slid shut with a crash and the lift ascended slowly,
chains rattling all the while, while the same cool female voice Harry had
heard in the telephone box rang out again. “Level seven, Department of
Magical Games and Sports, incorpo - rating the Britis h and Irish
Quidditch League Headquarters, Official Gobstones Club, and
Ludicrous Patents Office. ”
The lift doors opened; Harry glimpsed an untidy -looking corridor, with
various posters of Quidditch teams tacked lopsidedly on the walls; one
of the wizard s in the lift, who was carrying an armful of broomsticks,
extricated himself with difficulty and disappeared down the corridor.
The doors closed, the lift juddered upward again, and the woman ’s voice
said, “Level six, Department of Magical Transport, in - corporating the
Floo Network Authority, Broom Regulatory Control, Portkey Office,
and Apparation Test Center. ”
Once again the lift doors opened and four or five witches and wizards
got out; at the same time, several paper airplanes swooped

 129 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

into the lift. Harry stared up at them as they flapped idly around above
his head; they were a pale violet color and he could see ministry of magic
stamped along the edges of their wings.
“Just Interdepartmental memos, ” Mr. Weasley muttered to him. “We
used to use owls, but the mess was unbelievable . . . droppings all over
the desks . . . ”
As they clattered upward again, the memos flapped around the swaying
lamp in the lift ’s ceiling.
“Level five, Department of International Magical Cooperation, in -
corporating the International Magical Trading Standards Body, the
International Magical Office of Law, and the International Confeder -
ation of Wizards, British Seats. ”
When the doors open ed, two of the memos zoomed out with a few
more witches and wizards, but several more memos zoomed in, so that
the light from the lamp in the ceiling flickered and flashed as they darted
around it.
“Level four, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical
Creatures, incorporating Beast, Being, and Spirit Divisions, Goblin
Liaison Office, and Pest Advisory Bureau. ”
“’S’cuse, ” said the wizard carrying the fire -breathing chicken and he left
the lift pursued by a little flock of memos. The doors cla nged shut yet
again.
“Level three, Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes,
including the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, Obliviator Head -
quarters, and Muggle -Worthy Excuse Committee. ”
Everybody left the lift on this floor except Mr. Weasley, Harry, and a
witch who was reading an extremely long piece of parchment that was
trailing on the ground. The remaining memos continued to soar around
the lamp as the lift juddered upward again, and then the doors opened
and the voice said, “Level two, Department of Magical Law
Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror
Headquarters, and Wizengamot Administration Services. ”
 130 ‘

THE MINISTRY OF
MAGIC


“This is us, Harry, ” said Mr. Weasley, and they followed the witch out of
the lift into a corridor lined with doors. “My office is on the other side of
the floor. ”
“Mr. Weasley, ” said Harry, as they passed a window through which
sunlight was strea ming, “aren ’t we underground? ”
“Yes, we are, ” said Mr. Weasley, “those are enchanted windows; Magical
Maintenance decide what weather we ’re getting every day. We had two
months of hurricanes last time they were angling for a pay raise. . . . Just
round he re, Harry. ”
They turned a corner, walked through a pair of heavy oak doors, and
emerged in a cluttered, open area divided into cubicles, which were
buzzing with talk and laughter. Memos were zooming in and out of
cubicles like miniature rockets. A lopsided sign on the nearest cu - bicle
read auror headquarters.
Harry looked surreptitiously through the doorways as they passed. The
Aurors had covered their cubicle walls with everything from pic - tures of
wanted wi zards and photographs of their families, to posters
of their favorite Quidditch teams and articles from the Daily Prophet.
A scarlet -robed man with a ponytail longer than Bill ’s was sitting with his
boots up on his desk, dictating a report to his qui ll. A little farther along,
a witch with a patch over her eye was talking over the top of her cubicle
wall to Kingsley Shacklebolt.
“Morning, Weasley, ” said Kingsley carelessly, as they drew nearer. “I’ve
been wanting a word with you, have you got a secon d? ” “Yes, if it really
is a second, ” said Mr. Weasley, “I’m in rather a hurry. ”
They were talking to each other as though they hardly knew each other,
and when Harry opened his mouth to say hello to Kingsley, Mr. Weasley
stood on his foot. They followed K ingsley along the row and into the
very last cubicle.
Harry received a slight shock; Sirius ’s face was blinking down at him
from every direction. Newspaper cuttings and old photographs

 131 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

— even the one of Sirius being best man at the Potters ’ wedding —
papered the walls. The only Sirius -free space was a map of the world in
which little red pins were glowing like jewels.
“Here, ” said Kingsley brusquely to Mr. Weasley, shoving a sheaf of
par chment into his hand, “I need as much information as possible on
flying Muggle vehicles sighted in the last twelve months. We ’ve re -
ceived information that Black might still be using his old motorcycle. ”
Kingsley tipped Harry an enormous wink and added, i n a whisper, “Give
him the magazine, he might find it interesting. ” Then he said in normal
tones, “And don ’t take too long, Weasley, the delay on that firelegs
report held our investigation up for a month. ”
“If you had read my report you would know that t he term is ‘firearms, ’”
said Mr. Weasley coolly. “And I ’m afraid you ’ll have to wait for
information on motorcycles, we ’re extremely busy at the mo - ment. ” He
dropped his voice and said, “If you can get away before seven, Molly ’s
making meatballs. ”
He be ckoned to Harry and led him out of Kingsley ’s cubicle, through a
second set of oak doors, into another passage, turned left, marched
along another corridor, turned right into a dimly lit and dis - tinctly
shabby corridor, and finally reached a dead end, whe re a door on the left
stood ajar, revealing a broom cupboard, and a door on the right bore a
tarnished brass plaque reading misuse of muggle artifacts.
Mr. Weasley ’s dingy office seemed to be slightly smaller than the broom
cupb oard. Two desks had been crammed inside it and there was barely
room to move around them because of all the overflowing filing
cabinets lining the walls, on top of which were tottering piles of files.
The little wall space available bore witness to Mr. Wea sley ’s obsessions;
there were several posters of cars, including one of a dismantled engine,
two illustrations of postboxes he seemed to have cut out of Muggle
children ’s books, and a diagram showing how to wire a plug.
Sitting on top of Mr. Weasley ’s o verflowing in -tray was an old
 132 ‘

THE MINISTRY OF
MAGIC


toaster that was hiccuping in a disconsolate way and a pair of empty
leather gloves that were twiddling their thumbs. A photograph of the
Weasley family stood beside the in -tray. Harry noticed that Percy ap -
peared to have walked out of it.
“We haven ’t got a window, ” said Mr. Weasley apologetically, taking off
his bomber jacket and placing it on the back of his chair. “We ’ve asked,
but th ey don ’t seem to think we need one. Have a seat, Harry, doesn ’t
look as if Perkins is in yet. ”
Harry squeezed himself into the chair behind Perkins ’s desk while Mr.
Weasley rifled through the sheaf of parchment Kingsley Shackle - bolt
had given him.
“Ah ,” he said, grinning, as he extracted a copy of a magazine enti -
tled The Quibbler from its midst, “yes . . . ” He flicked through it.
“Yes, he ’s right, I ’m sure Sirius will find that very amusing — oh dear,
what ’s this now? ”
A memo had just zoomed in through the open door and fluttered to rest
on top of the hiccuping toaster. Mr. Weasley unfolded it and read aloud,
“‘Third regurgitating public toilet reported in Bethnal Green, kindly
investigate immediately. ’ This is getting r idiculous. . . . ” “A regurgitating
toilet? ”
“Anti -Muggle pranksters, ” said Mr. Weasley, frowning. “We had two
last week, one in Wimbledon, one in Elephant and Castle. Mug - gles are
pulling the flush and instead of everything disappearing — well, you can
imagine. The poor things keep calling in those — those
pumbles, I think they ’re called — you know, the ones who mend pipes
and things — ”
“Plumbers? ”
“— exactly, yes, but of course they ’re flummoxed. I only hope we can
catch whoever ’s doing it. ”
“Will it be Aurors who catch them? ”
“Oh no, this is too trivial for Aurors, it ’ll be the ordinary Magical Law
Enforcement Patrol — ah, Harry, this is Perkins. ”

 133 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

A stooped, timid -looking old wizard with fluffy white hair had just
entered the room, panting.
“Oh Arthur! ” he said desperately, without looking at Harry. “Thank
goodness, I didn ’t know what to do for the best, whether to wait here for
you or not, I ’ve just sent an owl to your home but you ’ve obviously
missed it — an urgent message came ten minutes ago — ” “I know about
the regurgitating toilet, ” said Mr. Weasley.
“No, no, it ’s not the toilet, it ’s the Potter boy ’s hearing — they ’ve
changed the time and venue — it starts at eight o ’clock now and it ’s
down in old Courtroom Ten — ”
“Down in old — but they told me — Merlin ’s beard — ” Mr. Weasley
looked at his watch, let out a yelp, and leapt from his chair.
“Quick, Harry, we should have been there five minutes ago! ” Perkins
flattened himself against the filing cabinets as Mr. Weasley left the office
at a run, Harry on his heels.
“Why have they changed the time? ” Harry said breathlessly as they
hurtled past th e Auror cubicles; people poked out their heads and stared
as they streaked past. Harry felt as though he had left all his in - sides
back at Perkins ’s desk.
“I’ve no idea, but thank goodness we got here so early, if you ’d missed it
it would have been catas trophic! ”
Mr. Weasley skidded to a halt beside the lifts and jabbed impa - tiently at
the down button.
“Come ON! ”
The lift clattered into view and they hurried inside. Every time it stopped
Mr. Weasley cursed furiously and pummelled the number nine but ton.
“Those courtrooms haven ’t been used in years, ” said Mr. Weasley
angrily. “I can ’t think why they ’re doing it down there — unless — but
no . . . ”
 134 ‘

THE MINISTRY OF
MAGIC


A plump witch carrying a smoking goblet entered the lift at that moment,
and Mr. Weasley did not elaborate.
“The Atrium, ” said the cool female voice and the golden grilles slid open,
showing Harry a distant glimpse of the golden statues in the fountain.
The plump witch got out and a sallow -skinned wizard with a very
mournful face got in.
“Morning, Arthur, ” he said in a sepulchral voice as the lift began to
descend. “Don ’t often see you down here. . . . ”
“Urgent business, Bode, ” said Mr. Weasley, wh o was bouncing on the
balls of his feet and throwing anxious looks over at Harry. “Ah, yes, ”
said Bode, surveying Harry unblinkingly. “Of course. ” Harry barely had
emotion to spare for Bode, but his unfaltering gaze did not make him
feel any more comfortab le.
“Department of Mysteries, ” said the cool female voice, and left it at that.
“Quick, Harry, ” said Mr. Weasley as the lift doors rattled open, and they
sped up a corridor that was quite different from those above. The walls
were bare; there were no windows and no doors apart from a plain black
one set at the very end of the corridor. Harry expected them to go
through it, but instead Mr. Weasley seized him by the arm and dragged
him to the left, where there was an openin g leading to a flight of steps.
“Down here, down here, ” panted Mr. Weasley, taking two steps at
a time. “The lift doesn ’t even come down this far . . . why they ’re do -
ing it there . . . ”
They reached the bottom of the steps and ran along yet anoth er corridor,
which bore a great resemblance to that which led to Snape ’s dungeon at
Hogwarts, with rough stone walls and torches in brackets. The doors
they passed here were heavy wooden ones with iron bolts and keyholes.
“Courtroom . . . ten . . . I thin k . . . we ’re nearly . . . yes. ”
 135 ‘

CHAPTER SEVEN

Mr. Weasley stumbled to a halt outside a grimy dark door with an
immense iron lock and slumped against the wall, clutching at a stitch in
his chest.
“Go on, ” he panted, pointing his thumb at the door. “Get in there. ”
“Aren ’t — aren ’t you coming with — ?”
“No, no, I ’m not allowed. Good luck! ”
Harry ’s heart was beating a violent tattoo against his Adam ’s apple. He
swallowed hard, turned the heavy iron door handle, and stepped inside
the courtroom.
























 136 ‘

C H A P T E R E I G H T









THE HEARING



arry gasped; he could not help himself. The large dungeon he
H
had entered was horribly familiar. He had not only seen it
before, he had been here before: This was the place he had visited in -
side Dumbledore ’s Pensieve, the place where he had watched the
Lestranges sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban.
The walls were made of dark stone, dimly lit by torches. Empty benches
rose on either side of him, but ahead, in the highest benches of all, were
many shadowy figures. They had been talking in low voices, but as the
heavy door swung closed behind Harry an ominous silence fell.
A cold male voice rang across the courtroom.
“You ’re late. ”
“Sorry, ” said Harry nervously. “I-I didn ’t know the time had changed. ”
“That is not the Wizengamot ’s fault, ” said the voice. “An owl was sent
to you this morning. Take your seat. ”

Harry dropped his gaze to the chair in the center of the room, the arms
of which were covered in chains. He had seen those chains spring
 137 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

to life and bind whoever sat between them. His footsteps echoed loudly
as he walked across the stone floor. When he sat gingerly on the edge of
the chair the chains clinked rather threateningly but did not bind him.
Feeling rather sick he looked up at the people seated at the bench above.
There were about fifty of the m, all, as far as he could see, wearing
plum -colored robes with an elaborately worked silver W on the left -
hand side of the chest and all staring down their noses at him, some with
very austere expressions, others looks of frank curiosity.
In the very mi ddle of the front row sat Cornelius Fudge, the Min - ister of
Magic. Fudge was a portly man who often sported a lime -green bowler
hat, though today he had dispensed with it; he had dispensed too with
the indulgent smile he had once worn when he spoke to Har ry. A broad,
square -jawed witch with very short gray hair sat on Fudge ’s left; she
wore a monocle and looked forbidding. On Fudge ’s right was another
witch, but she was sitting so far back on the bench that her face was in
shadow.
“Very well, ” said Fudg e. “The accused being present — finally — let us
begin. Are you ready? ” he called down the row.
“Yes, sir, ” said an eager voice Harry knew. Ron ’s brother Percy was
sitting at the very end of the front bench. Harry looked at Percy, ex -
pecting some sign of recognition from him, but none came. Percy ’s eyes,
behind his horn -rimmed glasses, were fixed on his parchment, a quill
poised in his hand.
“Disciplinary hearing of the twelfth of August, ” said Fudge in a ringing
voice, and Percy began taking notes at once, “into offenses committed
under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Un - derage Sorcery
and the International Statute of Secrecy by Harry James Potter, resident
at number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
“Interrogators: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister of Magic; Amelia
Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law En -
 138 ‘

THE HEARING

forcement; Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the
Minister. Court Scri be, Percy Ignatius Weasley — ”
“— Witness for the defense, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumble -
dore, ” said a quiet voice from behind Harry, who turned his head so fast
he cricked his neck.
Dumbledore was striding serenely across the room wearing long
midnight -blue robes and a perfectly calm expression. His long silver
beard and hair gleamed in the torchlight as he drew level with Harry and
looked up at Fudge through the half -moon spectacles that rested
halfway down his very crooked nose.
The members of the Wizengamot were muttering. All eyes were now on
Dumbledore. Some looked annoyed, others slightly fright - ened; two
elderly witches in the back row, however, raised their hands and waved
in welcome.
A powerful emotion had risen in Harry ’s chest at the sight of Dum -
bledore, a fortified, hopeful feeling rather like that which phoenix song
gave him. He wanted to catch Dumbledore ’s eye, but Dumble - dore was
not looking his way; he was continuing to look up at the obviously
flustered Fudge.
“Ah, ” sai d Fudge, who looked thoroughly disconcerted. “Dumble - dore.
Yes. You — er — got our — er — message that the time and — er —
place of the hearing had been changed, then? ”
“I must have missed it, ” said Dumbledore cheerfully. “However, due to
a lucky mistake I arrived at the Ministry three hours early, so no harm
done. ”
“Yes — well — I suppose we ’ll need another chair — I — Weasley,
could you — ?”
“Not to worry, not to worry, ” said Dumbledore pleasantly; he took out
his wand, gave it a little flick, and a squashy chintz armchair ap - peared
out of nowhere next to Harry. Dumbledore sat down, put the tips of his
long fingers together, and looked at Fudge over them with an expression
of polite interest. The Wizengamot was still muttering

 139 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

and fidgeting restlessly; only when Fudge spoke again did they settle
down.
“Yes, ” said Fudge again, shuffling his notes. “Well, then. So. The
charges. Yes. ”
He extricated a piece of parchment from the pile before him, took a
deep breath, and read, “The charges against the accused are as fol - lows:
That he did knowingly, deliberately, and in full awareness of the illegality
of his actions, having received a pre vious written warning from the
Ministry of Magic on a similar charge, produce a Patronus Charm in a
Muggle -inhabited area, in the presence of a Muggle, on August the
second at twenty -three minutes past nine, which consti - tutes an offense
under paragraph C of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of
Underage Sorcery, 1875, and also under section thir - teen of the
International Confederation of Wizards ’ Statute of Secrecy. “You are
Harry James Potter, of number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging,
Surrey ?” Fudge said, glaring at Harry over the top of his parchment.
“Yes, ” Harry said.
“You received an official warning from the Ministry for using ille - gal
magic three years ago, did you not? ”
“Yes, but — ”
“And yet you conjured a Patronus on the night of the second of
August? ” said Fudge.
“Yes, ” said Harry, “but — ”
“Knowing that you are not permitted to use magic outside school while
you are under the age of seventeen? ”
“Yes, but — ”
“Knowing that you were in an area full of Muggles? ”
“Yes, but — ”
“Fully aware that you were in close proximity to a Muggle at the time?
“ Yes, ” said Harry angrily, “but I only used it because we were — ”
 140 ‘

THE HEARING

The witch with the monocle on Fudge ’s left cut across him in a booming
voice.
“You produced a fully fledged Patronus? ”
“Yes, ” said Harry, “because — ”
“A corporeal Patronus? ”
“A — what? ” said Harry.
“Your Patronus had a clearly defined form? I me an to say, it was more
than vapor or smoke? ”
“Yes, ” said Harry, feeling both impatient and slightly desperate, “it’s a
stag, it ’s always a stag. ”
“Always? ” boomed Madam Bones. “You have produced a Patronus
before now? ”
“ Yes, ” said Harry, “I’ve been doing it for over a year — ”
“And you are fifteen years old? ”
“Yes, and — ”
“You learned this at school? ”
“Yes, Professor Lupin taught me in my third year, because of the — ”
“Impressive, ” said Madam Bones, staring down at him, “a true Patronu s
at that age . . . very impressive indeed. ”
Some of the wizards and witches around her were muttering again; a few
nodded, but others were frowning and shaking their heads. “It’s not a
question of how impressive the magic was, ” said Fudge in a testy vo ice.
“In fact, the more impressive the worse it is, I would have thought, given
that the boy did it in plain view of a Muggle! ” Those who had been
frowning now murmured in agreement, but
it was the sight of Percy ’s sanctimonious little nod that goaded H arry
into speech.
“I did it because of the dementors! ” he said loudly, before anyone could
interrupt him again.
He had expected more muttering, but the silence that fell seemed to be
somehow denser than before.
“Dementors? ” said Madam Bones after a moment, raising her thick
 141 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

eyebrows so that her monocle looked in danger of falling out. “What do
you mean, boy? ”
“I mean there were two dementors down that alleyway and they went for
me and my cousin! ”
“Ah, ” said Fudge again, smirking unpleasantly as he looked around at
the Wizengamot, as though inviting them to share the joke. “Yes. Yes, I
thought we ’d be hearing something like this. ”
“Dementors in Little Whinging? ” Madam Bones said in tones of great
surprise. “I don ’t understand — ”
“Don ’t you, Amelia? ” said Fudge, still smirking. “Let me explain. He ’s
been thinking it through and decided dementors would make a v ery nice
little cover story, very nice indeed. Muggles can ’t see demen - tors, can
they, boy? Highly convenient, highly convenient . . . so it ’s just your
word and no witnesses. . . . ”
“I’m not lying! ” said Harry loudly, over another outbreak of mut - terin g
from the court. “There were two of them, coming from oppo - site ends
of the alley, everything went dark and cold and my cousin felt them and
ran for it — ”
“Enough, enough! ” said Fudge with a very supercilious look on his face.
“I’m sorry to interrupt wh at I ’m sure would have been a very
well -rehearsed story — ”
Dumbledore cleared his throat. The Wizengamot fell silent again. “We
do, in fact, have a witness to the presence of dementors in that
alleyway, ” he said, “other than Dudley Dursley, I mean. ”
Fudge ’s plump face seemed to slacken, as though somebody had let air
out of it. He stared down at Dumbledore for a moment or two, then,
with the appearance of a man pulling himself back together, said, “We
haven ’t got time to listen to more taradiddles, I ’m afraid, Dumbledore. I
want this dealt with quickly — ”
“I may be wrong, ” said Dumbledore pleasantly, “but I am sure that under
the Wizengamot Charter of Rights, the accused has the right to
 142 ‘

THE HEARING

present witnesses for his or her case? Isn ’t that the policy of the De -
partment of Magical Law Enforcement, Madam Bones? ” he contin - ued,
addressing the witch in the monocle.
“True, ” said Madam Bones. “Perfectly true. ”
“Oh, very well, very well, ” snap ped Fudge. “Where is this person? ” “I
brought her with me, ” said Dumbledore. “She ’s just outside the door.
Should I — ?”
“No — Weasley, you go, ” Fudge barked at Percy, who got up at once,
hurried down the stone steps from the judge ’s balcony, and has - ten ed
past Dumbledore and Harry without glancing at them.
A moment later, Percy returned, followed by Mrs. Figg. She looked
scared and more batty than ever. Harry wished she had thought to
change out of her carpet slippers.
Dumbledore stood up and gave Mrs. Figg his chair, conjuring a second
one for himself.
“Full name? ” said Fudge loudly, when Mrs. Figg had perched her - self
nervously on the very edge of her seat.
“Arabella Doreen Figg, ” said Mrs. Figg in her quavery voice. “And who
exactly are you? ” said Fudge, in a bored and lofty voice. “I’m a resident
of Little Whinging, close to where Harry Potter lives, ” said Mrs. Figg.
“We have no record of any witch or wizard living in Little Whing - ing
other than Harry Potter, ” sai d Madam Bones at once. “That situ - ation
has always been closely monitored, given . . . given past events. ” “I’m a
Squib, ” said Mrs. Figg. “So you wouldn ’t have me registered, would
you? ”
“A Squib, eh? ” said Fudge, eyeing her suspiciously. “We ’ll be check - ing
that. You ’ll leave details of your parentage with my assistant, Weasley.
Incidentally, can Squibs see dementors? ” he added, looking left and right
along the bench where he sat.
“Yes, we can! ” said Mrs. Figg indignantly.
 143 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

Fudge looked back down at her, his eyebrows raised. “Very well, ” he
said coolly. “What is your story? ”
“I had gone out to buy cat food from the corner shop at the end of
Wisteria Walk, shortly after nine on the evening of the second of
August, ” gabbled Mrs. Figg at once, as though she had learned what she
was saying by heart, “when I heard a disturbance down the alley - way
between Magnolia Crescent and Wisteria Walk. On ap proaching the
mouth of the alleyway I saw dementors running — ”
“Running? ” said Madam Bones sharply. “Dementors don ’t run, they
glide. ”
“That ’s what I meant to say, ” said Mrs. Figg quickly, patches of pink
appearing in her withered cheeks. “Gliding al ong the alley to - ward what
looked like two boys. ”
“What did they look like? ” said Madam Bones, narrowing her eyes so
that the monocle ’s edges disappeared into her flesh.
“Well, one was very large and the other one rather skinny — ” “No, no, ”
said Mad am Bones impatiently, “the dementors . . . de - scribe them. ”
“Oh, ” said Mrs. Figg, the pink flush creeping up her neck now. “They
were big. Big and wearing cloaks. ”
Harry felt a horrible sinking in the pit of his stomach. Whatever Mrs.
Figg said to the contrary, it sounded to him as though the most she had
ever seen was a picture of a dementor, and a picture could never convey
the truth of what these beings were like: the eerie way they moved,
hovering inches over the ground, or the rotting smell of them, or that
terrible, rattling noise they made as they sucked on the surrounding air . . .
A dumpy wizard with a large black mustache in the second row leaned
close to his neighbor, a frizzy -haired witch, and whispered something in
her ear. She smirked and nodded.
“Big and wearing cloaks, ” repeated Madam Bones coolly, while Fudge
snorted derisively. “I see. Anything else? ”
 144 ‘

THE HEARING

“Yes, ” said Mrs. Figg. “I felt them. Everything went cold, and this was a
very warm summer ’s night, mark you. And I felt . . . as though all
happiness had gone from the world . . . and I remembered . . . dreadful
things. . . . ”
Her voice shook and died.
Mada m Bones ’ eyes widened slightly. Harry could see red marks under
her eyebrow where the monocle had dug into it.
“What did the dementors do? ” she asked, and Harry felt a rush of hope.
“They went for the boys, ” said Mrs. Figg, her voice stronger and more
co nfident now, the pink flush ebbing away from her face. “One of them
had fallen. The other was backing away, trying to repel the dementor.
That was Harry. He tried twice and produced silver vapor. On the third
attempt, he produced a Patronus, which charged down the first
dementor and then, with his encouragement, chased away the second
from his cousin. And that . . . that was what happened, ” Mrs. Figg
finished, somewhat lamely.
Madam Bones looked down at Mrs. Figg in silence; Fudge was not
looking at her at all, but fidgeting with his papers. Finally he raised his
eyes and said, rather aggressively “That ’s what you saw, is it? ”
“That was what happened, ” Mrs. Figg repeated.
“Very well, ” said Fudge. “You may go. ”
Mrs. Figg cast a frightened look from Fudge to Dumbledore, then got
up and shuffled off toward the door again. Harry heard it thud shut
behind her.
“Not a very convincing witness, ” said Fudge loftily. “Oh, I don ’t know, ”
said Madam Bones in her booming voice. “She certainly described the
effects of a dementor attack very accurately. And I can ’t imagine why she
would say they were there if they weren ’t — ”
“But dementors wandering into a Muggle suburb and just
happening
 145 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

to come across a wizard? ” snorted Fudge. “The odds on that must be
very, very long, even Bagman wouldn ’t have bet — ”
“Oh, I don ’t think any of us believe the dementors were there by
coincidence, ” said Dumbledore lightly.
The witch sitting to the right of Fudge with her face in shadow moved
slightly, but everyone else was quite still and silent.
“And what is that supposed to mean? ” asked Fudge icily. “It means that
I think they were ordered t here, ” said Dumbledore. “I think we might
have a record of it if someone had ordered a pair of dementors to go
strolling through Little Whinging! ” barked Fudge. “Not if the dementors
are taking orders from someone other than the Ministry of Magic these
day s,” said Dumbledore calmly. “I have already given you my views on
this matter, Cornelius. ”
“Yes, you have, ” said Fudge forcefully, “and I have no reason to be -
lieve that your views are anything other than bilge, Dumbledore. The
dementors remain in plac e in Azkaban and are doing everything we ask
them to. ”
“Then, ” said Dumbledore, quietly but clearly, “we must ask our - selves
why somebody within the Ministry ordered a pair of dementors into that
alleyway on the second of August. ”
In the complete silence that greeted these words, the witch to the right
of Fudge leaned forward so that Harry saw her for the first time. He
thought she looked just like a large, pale toad. She was rather squat with
a broad, flabby face, as little neck as Uncle Vernon, and a very wide,
slack mouth. Her eyes were large, round, and slightly bulging. Even the
little black velvet bow perched on top of her short curly hair put him in
mind of a large fly she was about to catch on a long sticky tongue.
“The Chai r recognizes Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecre - tary
to the Minister, ” said Fudge.
The witch spoke in a fluttery, girlish, high -pitched voice that took Harry
aback; he had been expecting a croak.
 146 ‘

THE HEARING

“I’m sure I must have misunderstood you, Professor Dumbledore, ” she
said with a simper that left her big, round eyes as cold as ever. “So silly of
me. But it sounded for a teensy moment as though you were sug - gesting
that the Ministry of Magic had ordered an attack on this boy! ” She gave
a silvery laugh that made the hairs on the back of Harry ’s neck stand up.
A few other members of the Wizengamot laughed with her. It could not
have been plainer that not one o f them was really amused.
“If it is true that the dementors are taking orders only from the Min -
istry of Magic, and it is also true that two dementors attacked Harry and
his cousin a week ago, then it follows logically that somebody at the
Ministry mig ht have ordered the attacks, ” said Dumbledore po - litely.
“Of course, these particular dementors may have been outside Ministry
control — ”
“There are no dementors outside Ministry control! ” snapped Fudge,
who had turned brick red.
Dumbledore inclined his head in a little bow.
“Then undoubtedly the Ministry will be making a full inquiry into why
two dementors were so very far from Azkaban and why they at - tacked
without authorization. ”
“It is not for you to decide what the Ministry of Magic does or doe s not
do, Dumbledore! ” snapped Fudge, now a shade of magenta of which
Uncle Vernon would have been proud.
“Of course it isn ’t,” said Dumbledore mildly. “I was merely ex - pressing
my confidence that this matter will not go uninvestigated. ” He glanced
at Madam Bones, who readjusted her monocle and stared back at him,
frowning slightly.
“I would remind everybody that the behavior of these dementors, if
indeed they are not figments of this boy ’s imagination, is not the subject
of this hearing! ” said Fudge. “We are here to examine Harry Potter ’s
offenses under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage
Sorcery! ”
 147 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

“Of course we are, ” said Dumbledore, “but the presence of demen - tors
in that alleyway is highly relevant. Clause seven of the Decree states that
magic may be used before Muggles in exceptional circum - stances, and
as those exceptional circumstances include situations that threaten the
life of the wizard or witch himself, o r witches, wizards, or Muggles
present at the time of the — ”
“We are familiar with clause seven, thank you very much! ” snarled
Fudge.
“Of course you are, ” said Dumbledore courteously. “Then we are in
agreement that Harry ’s use of the Patronus Charm in these circum -
stances falls precisely into the category of exceptional circumstances it
describes? ”
“If there were dementors, which I doubt — ”
“You have heard from an eyewitness, ” Dumbledore interrupted. “If you
still dou bt her truthfulness, call her back, question her again. I am sure
she would not object. ”
“I — that — not — ” blustered Fudge, fiddling with the papers be - fore
him. “It’s — I want this over with today, Dumbledore! ”
“But naturally, you would not care how m any times you heard from a
witness, if the alternative was a serious miscarriage of justice, ” said
Dumbledore.
“Serious miscarriage, my hat! ” said Fudge at the top of his voice. “Have
you ever bothered to tot up the number of cock -and -bull sto - ries thi s
boy has come out with, Dumbledore, while trying to cover up his
flagrant misuse of magic out of school? I suppose you ’ve forgotten the
Hover Charm he used three years ago — ”
“That wasn ’t me, it was a house -elf! ” said Harry. “YOU SEE? ” roared
Fudge, gest uring flamboyantly in Harry ’s di - rection. “A house -elf! In a
Muggle house! I ask you — ”
“The house -elf in question is currently in the employ of Hogwarts
School, ” said Dumbledore. “I can summon him here in an instant to
give evidence if you wish. ”
 148 ‘

THE HEARING

“I — not — I haven ’t got time to listen to house -elves! Anyway, that ’s
not the only — he blew up his aunt, for God ’s sake! ” Fudge shouted,
banging his fist on the judge ’s bench and upsetting a bottle of ink.
“And you very kindly did not press charges on that occasion, ac - cepting,
I presume, that even the best wizards cannot always control their
emotions, ” said Dumbledore calmly, as Fudge attempted to scrub the
ink off his notes.
“And I haven ’t even started on what he gets up to at school — ” “— but
as the Ministry has no authority to punish Hogwarts students for
misdemeanors at school, Harry ’s behavior there is not rel - evant to this
inquiry, ” said Dumbledore, politely as ever, but now with a s uggestion of
coolness behind his words.
“Oho! ” said Fudge. “Not our business what he does at school, eh? You
think so? ”
“The Ministry does not have the power to expel Hogwarts stu - dents,
Cornelius, as I reminded you on the night of the second of August, ” said
Dumbledore. “Nor does it have the right to confiscate wands until
charges have been successfully proven, again, as I re - minded you on the
night of the second of August. In your admirable haste to ensure that the
law is upheld, you appear, in advertently I am sure, to have overlooked a
few laws yourself. ”
“Laws can be changed, ” said Fudge savagely.
“Of course they can, ” said Dumbledore, inclining his head. “And you
certainly seem to be making many changes, Cornelius. Why, in the few
short w eeks since I was asked to leave the Wizengamot, it has already
become the practice to hold a full criminal trial to deal with a simple
matter of underage magic! ”
A few of the wizards above them shifted uncomfortably in their seats.
Fudge turned a slightly deeper shade of puce. The toadlike witch on his
right, however, merely gazed at Dumbledore, her face quite
expressionless.
 149 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHT

“As far as I am aware, however, ” Dumbledore continued, “there is no
law yet in place that says this court ’s job is to punish Harry for every bit
of magic he has ever performed. He has been charged with a specific
offense and he has presented his defense. All he and I can do now is to
await your verdict. ”
Dumbledore put his fingertips together again and said no more. Fudge
glared at him, evidently incensed. Harry glanced sideways at
Dumbledore, seeking reassurance; he was not at all sure that Dumble -
dore was right in telling the Wizengamot, in effect, that it was about time
they made a decision. Again, however, Dumbledore seemed oblivious to
Harry ’s attempt to catch his eye. He continued to look up at the benches
where the entire Wizengamot had fallen into urgent, whispered
conversations.
Harry looked at his feet. His heart, which seemed to have swollen to an
unnatural size, was thumping loudly under his ribs. He had ex - pected
the hearing to last longer than this. He was not at all sure that he had
made a good impression. He had not really said very much. He ought to
have explained more fully about the dementors, about how he had fallen
over, about how both he and Dudley had nearly been kissed. . . .
Twice he looked up at Fudge and opened his mouth to speak, but his
swollen heart was now constricting his air passages and both times he
merely took a deep breath and looked back at his shoes.
Then the whispering stopped. Harry wanted to look up at the judges, but
found that it was really much, much easier to keep exam - ining his laces.
“Those in favor of clearing the accused of all charges? ” said Madam
Bones ’s booming voice.
Harry ’s head jerked upward. There were hands in the air, many of
them . . . more than half! Breathing very fast, he tried to count, but
before he could finish Madam Bones had said, “And those in favor of
conviction? ”
 150 ‘

THE HEARING

Fudge raised his hand; so did half a dozen others, including the witch on
his right and the heavily mustached wizard and the frizzy - haired witch
in the second row.
Fudge glanced around at them all, looking as though there was
something large stuck in his throat, then lowered his own hand. He took
two deep breaths and then said, in a voice distorted by sup - pressed rage,
“Very well, v ery well . . . cleared of all charges. ” “Excellent, ” said
Dumbledore briskly, springing to his feet, pulling out his wand, and
causing the two chintz armchairs to vanish. “Well, I must be getting
along. Good day to you all. ”
And without looking once at Harry, he swept from the dungeon.























 151 ‘

C H A P T E R N I N E









THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY



umbledore ’s abrupt departure took Harry completely by sur -
D
prise. He remained sitting where he was in the chained chair,
struggling with his feelings of shock and relief. The Wizengamot were all
getting to their feet, talking, and gathering up their papers and packing
them away. Harry stood up. Nobody seemed to be paying him the
slightest bit of attention except the toadlike witch on Fudge ’s right, who
was now gazing down at him instead of at Dumbledore. Ig - noring her,
he tried to catch Fudge ’s eye, or Madam Bones ’s, wanting to ask whether
he was free to go, but Fudge seemed quite determined not to notice
Harry, and Madam Bones was busy with her briefcase, so he took a few
tentative steps toward the exit and when nobody called him back, broke
into a very fast walk.
He took the last few steps at a run, wrenched open the door, and al -

most collided with Mr. Weasley, who was standing right outside, looking
pale and apprehensive.
“Dumbledore didn ’t say — ”
“Cleared, ” Harry said, pulling the door closed behind him, “of all
charges! ”
 152 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
Beaming, Mr. Weasley seized Harry by the shoulders. “Harry, that ’s
wonderful! Well, of course, they couldn ’t hav e found you guilty, not on
the evidence, but even so, I can ’t pretend I wasn ’t — ” But Mr. Weasley
broke off, because the courtroom door had just opened again. The
Wizengamot were filing out.
“Merlin ’s beard, ” said Mr. Weasley wonderingly, pulling Harry as ide to
let them all pass, “you were tried by the full court? ”
“I think so, ” said Harry quietly.
One or two of the passing wizards nodded to Harry as they passed and a
few, including Madam Bones, said, “Morning, Arthur, ” to Mr. Weasley,
but most averted their eyes. Cornelius Fudge and the toad - like witch
were almost the last to leave the dungeon. Fudge acted as though Mr.
Weasley and Harry were part of the wall, but again, the witch looked
almost appraisingly at Harry as she pas sed. Last of all to pass was Percy.
Like Fudge, he completely ignored his father and Harry; he marched
past clutching a large roll of parchment and a handful of spare quills, his
back rigid and his nose in the air. The lines around Mr. Weasley ’s mouth
tigh tened slightly, but other than this he gave no sign that he had noticed
his third son.
“I’m going to take you straight back so you can tell the others the good
news, ” he said, beckoning Harry forward as Percy ’s heels disap - peared
up the stairs to the n inth level. I ’ll drop you off on the way to that toilet
in Bethnal Green. Come on. . . . ”
“So what will you have to do about the toilet? ” Harry asked, grin - ning.
Everything suddenly seemed five times funnier than usual. It
was starting to sink in: H e was cleared, he was going back to Hogwarts.
“Oh, it ’s a simple enough anti -jinx, ” said Mr. Weasley as they mounted
the stairs, “but it ’s not so much having to repair the damage, it ’s more
the attitude behind the vandalism, Harry. Muggle -baiting might strike
some wizards as funny, but it ’s an expression of some - thing much
deeper and nastier, and I for one — ”
Mr. Weasley broke off in mid -sentence. They had just reached the

 153 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

ninth -level corridor, and Cornelius Fudge was standing a few feet away
from them, talking quietly to a tall man with sleek blond hair and a
pointed, pale face.
The second man turned at the sound of their footsteps. He too broke off
in mid -conversation, hi s cold gray eyes narrowed and fixed upon Harry ’s
face.
“Well, well, well . . . Patronus Potter, ” said Lucius Malfoy coolly. Harry
felt winded, as though he had just walked into something heavy. He had
last seen those cool gray eyes through slits in a Death Eater ’s hood, and
last heard that man ’s voice jeering in a dark grave - yard while Lord
Voldemort tortured him. He could not believe that Lucius Malfoy dared
look him in the face; he coul d not believe that he was here, in the
Ministry of Magic, or that Cornelius Fudge was talk - ing to him, when
Harry had told Fudge mere weeks ago that Malfoy was a Death Eater.
“The Minister was just telling me about your lucky escape, Potter, ”
drawled M r. Malfoy. “Quite astonishing, the way you continue to
wriggle out of very tight holes. . . . Snakelike, in fact . . . ”
Mr. Weasley gripped Harry ’s shoulder in warning. “Yeah, ” said
Harry, “yeah, I ’m good at escaping. . . . ” Lucius Malfoy raised his
eyes to Mr. Weasley ’s face. “And Arthur Weasley too! What are
you doing here, Arthur? ” “I work here, ” said Mr. Weasley
shortly.
“Not here, surely? ” said Mr. Malfoy, raising his eyebrows and glanc -
ing toward the door over Mr. Weasley ’s shoulder. “I tho ught you were
up on the second floor. . . . Don ’t you do something that involves
sneaking Muggle artifacts home and bewitching them? ”
“No, ” said Mr. Weasley curtly, his fingers now biting into Harry ’s
shoulder.
“What are you doing here anyway? ” Harry asked Lucius Malfoy.
“I don ’t think private matters between myself and the Minister are any
concern of yours, Potter, ” said Malfoy, smoothing the front of his
 154 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
robes; Harry distinctly he ard the gentle clinking of what sounded like a
full pocket of gold. “Really, just because you are Dumbledore ’s fa - vorite
boy, you must not expect the same indulgence from the rest of us. . . .
Shall we go up to your office, then, Minister? ”
“Certainly, ” said Fudge, turning his back on Harry and Mr. Weasley.
“This way, Lucius. ”
They strode off together, talking in low voices. Mr. Weasley did not let
go of Harry ’s shoulder until they had disappeared into the lift. “Why
wasn ’t he waiting outside Fudge ’s office if they ’ve got busi - ness to do
together? ” Harry burst out furiously. “What was he doing down here? ”
“Trying to sneak down to the courtroom, if you ask me, ” said Mr.
Weasley, looking extremely agitated as he glanced over his shoulder as
though mak ing sure they could not be overheard. “Trying to find out
whether you ’d been expelled or not. I ’ll leave a note for Dumbledore
when I drop you off, he ought to know Malfoy ’s been talking to Fudge
again. ”
“What private business have they got together any way? ” “Gold, I
expect, ” said Mr. Weasley angrily. “Malfoy ’s been giving generously to
all sorts of things for years. . . . Gets him in with the right people . . . then
he can ask favors . . . delay laws he doesn ’t want passed . . . Oh, he ’s very
well conne cted, Lucius Malfoy. . . . ”
The lift arrived; it was empty except for a flock of memos that flapped
around Mr. Weasley ’s head as he pressed the button for the Atrium and
the doors clanged shut; he waved them away irritably. “Mr. Weasley, ”
said Harry slowl y, “if Fudge is meeting Death Eaters like Malfoy, if he ’s
seeing them alone, how do we know they haven ’t put the Imperius Curse
on him? ”
“Don ’t think it hadn ’t occurred to us, Harry, ” muttered Mr. Weasley.
“But Dumbledore thinks Fudge is acting of his own accord at the
moment — which, as Dumbledore says, is not a lot of comfort.
. . . Best not talk about it anymore just now, Harry. . . . ”

 155 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

The doors slid open and they stepped out into the now almost -
deserted Atrium. Eric the security man was hidden behind his Daily
Prophet again. They had walked straight past the golden fountain be -
fore Harry remembered.
“Wait. . . . ” he told Mr. Weasley, and pulling his money bag from his
pocket, he turn ed back to the fountain.
He looked up into the handsome wizard ’s face, but up close, Harry
thought he looked rather weak and foolish. The witch was wearing a
vapid smile like a beauty contestant, and from what Harry knew of
goblins and centaurs, they we re most unlikely to be caught staring this
soppily at humans of any description. Only the house -elf ’s attitude of
creeping servility looked convincing. With a grin at the thought of what
Hermione would say if she could see the statue of the elf, Harry turn ed
his money bag upside down and emptied not just ten Galleons, but the
whole contents into the pool at the statues ’ feet.

“I knew it! ” yelled Ron, punching the air. “You always get away with
stuff! ”
“They were bound to clear you, ” said Hermione, who had looked
positively faint with anxiety when Harry had entered the kitchen and was
now holding a shaking hand over her eyes. “There was no case against
you, none at all. . . . ”
“Everyone seems quite relieved, though, considering they all knew I ’d
get off, ” said Harry, smiling.
Mrs. Weasley was wiping her face on her apron, and Fred, George,
and Ginny were doing a kind of war dance to a chant that went “ He
got off, he got off, he got off — ”
“That ’s enough, settle down! ” shouted Mr. Weasl ey, though he too was
smiling. “Listen, Sirius, Lucius Malfoy was at the Ministry — ” “What? ”
said Sirius sharply.
“ He got off, he got off, he got off — ”
“Be quiet, you three! Yes, we saw him talking to Fudge on level
 156 ‘

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OF MRS.
WEASLEY
nine, then they went up to Fudge ’s office together. Dumbledore ought
to know. ”
“Absolutely, ” said Sirius. “We ’ll tell him, don ’t worry. ” “Well, I ’d better
get going, there ’s a vomiting toilet in Bethnal Gree n waiting for me.
Molly, I ’ll be late, I ’m covering for Tonks, but Kingsley might be
dropping in for dinner — ”
“ He got off, he got off, he got off — ”
“That ’s enough — Fred — George — Ginny! ” said Mrs. Weasley, as Mr.
Weasley left the kitchen. “Harry dear, come and sit down, have some
lunch, you hardly ate breakfast. . . . ”
Ron and Hermione sat themselves down opposite him looking happier
than they had done since he had first arrived at number twelve,
Grimmauld Place, and Harry ’s feeling of g iddy relief, which had been
somewhat dented by his encounter with Lucius Malfoy, swelled again.
The gloomy house seemed warmer and more welcom - ing all of a
sudden; even Kreacher looked less ugly as he poked his snoutlike nose
into the kitchen to investiga te the source of all the noise.
“’Course, once Dumbledore turned up on your side, there was no way
they were going to convict you, ” said Ron happily, now dishing great
mounds of mashed potatoes onto everyone ’s plates.
“Yeah, he swung it for me, ” said H arry. He felt that it would sound
highly ungrateful, not to mention childish, to say, “I wish he ’d talked
to me, though. Or even looked at me. ”
And as he thought this, the scar on his forehead burned so badly that he
clapped his hand to it.
“What ’s up? ” said Hermione, looking alarmed.
“Scar, ” Harry mumbled. “But it ’s nothing. . . . It happens all the time
now. . . . ”
None of the others had noticed a thing; all of them were now help - ing
themselves to food while gloating over Harry ’s narrow es cape; Fred,
George, and Ginny were still singing. Hermione looked rather

 157 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

anxious, but before she could say anything, Ron said happily, “I bet
Dumbledore turns up this evening t o celebrate with us, you know. ” “I
don ’t think he ’ll be able to, Ron, ” said Mrs. Weasley, setting a huge plate
of roast chicken down in front of Harry. “He ’s really very busy at the
moment. ”
“ HE GOT OFF, HE GOT OFF, HE GOT OFF — ”
“SHUT UP! ” roared Mrs. Weasley.

Over the next few days Harry could not help noticing that there was one
person within number twelve, Grimmauld Place, who did not seem
wholly overjoyed that he would be returning to Hogwarts. Sir - ius had
put up a very good show of happiness on first hearing the news,
wringing Harry ’s hand and beaming just like the rest of them; soon,
however, he was moodier and surlier than before, talking less to
everybody, even Harry, and spending increasing amounts of time shut
up in his mother ’s room wit h Buckbeak.
“Don ’t you go feeling guilty! ” said Hermione sternly, after Harry had
confided some of his feelings to her and Ron while they scrubbed out a
moldy cupboard on the third floor a few days later. “You belong at
Hogwarts and Sirius knows it. Perso nally, I think he ’s being selfish. ”
“That ’s a bit harsh, Hermione, ” said Ron, frowning as he at - tempted to
prize off a bit of mold that had attached itself firmly to his finger, “you
wouldn ’t want to be stuck inside this house without company. ”
“He ’ll have company! ” said Hermione. “It’s headquarters to the Order
of the Phoenix, isn ’t it? He just got his hopes up that Harry would be
coming to live here with him. ”
“I don ’t think that ’s true, ” said Harry, wringing out his cloth. “He
wouldn ’t give me a straight answer when I asked him if I could. ” “He
just didn ’t want to get his own hopes up even more, ” said Hermione
wisely. “And he probably felt a bit guilty himself, because I
 158 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
think a part of him was really hoping you ’d be expelled. Then you ’d both
be outcasts together. ”
“Come off it! ” said Harry and Ron together, but Hermione merely
shrugged.
“Suit yourselves. But I sometimes think Ron ’s mum ’s right, and Sir - ius
gets confused about whether you ’re you or your father, Harry. ” “So you
think he ’s touched in the head? ” said Harry heatedly. “No, I just think
he ’s been very lonely for a long time, ” said Hermione simply.
At this point Mrs. Weasley entered the bedroo m behind them. “Still not
finished? ” she said, poking her head into the cupboard. “I thought you
might be here to tell us to have a break! ” said Ron bitterly. “D ’you know
how much mold we ’ve got rid of since we ar - rived here? ”
“You were so keen to help t he Order, ” said Mrs. Weasley, “you can do
your bit by making headquarters fit to live in. ”
“I feel like a house -elf, ” grumbled Ron.
“Well, now that you understand what dreadful lives they lead, per - haps
you ’ll be a bit more active in S.P.E.W.! ” said H ermione hopefully, as Mrs.
Weasley left them to it again. “You know, maybe it wouldn ’t be a bad
idea to show people exactly how horrible it is to clean all the time — we
could do a sponsored scrub of Gryffindor common room, all proceeds
to S.P.E.W., it wou ld raise awareness as well as funds — ”
“I’ll sponsor you to shut up about spew, ” Ron muttered irritably,
but only so Harry could hear him.
Harry found himself daydreaming about Hogwarts more and more as
the end of the holidays approached; he could not wait to see Hagrid
again, to play Quidditch, even to stroll across the vegetable patches to
the Herbology greenhouses. It would be a treat just to leave this dusty,
musty house, where half of the cupboard s were still bolted shut and
Kreacher wheezed insults out of the shadows as you passed, though
Harry was careful not to say any of this within earshot of Sirius.
 159 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

The fact was that living at the headqua rters of the anti -Voldemort
movement was not nearly as interesting or exciting as Harry would have
expected before he ’d experienced it. Though members of the Or - der of
the Phoenix came and went regularly, sometimes staying for meals,
sometimes only for a few minutes ’ whispered conversation, Mrs.
Weasley made sure that Harry and the others were kept well out of
earshot (whether Extendable or normal) and nobody, not even Sir - ius,
seemed to feel that Harry needed to know anything more than he had
heard on t he night of his arrival.
On the very last day of the holidays Harry was sweeping up Hed - wig ’s
owl droppings from the top of the wardrobe when Ron entered their
bedroom carrying a couple of envelopes.
“Booklists have arrived, ” he said, throwing one of the envelopes up to
Harry, who was standing on a chair. “About time, I thought they ’d
forgotten, they usually come much earlier than this. . . . ”
Harry swept the last of the droppings into a rubbish bag and threw the
bag over R on ’s head into the wastepaper basket in the corner, which
swallowed it and belched loudly. He then opened his letter: It contained
two pieces of parchment, one the usual reminder that term started on
the first of September, the other telling him which book s he would need
for the coming year.
“Only two new ones, ” he said, reading the list. “The Standard Book
of Spells, Grade 5, by Miranda Goshawk and Defensive Magical Theory,
by Wilbert Slinkhard. ”
Crack.
Fred and George Apparated right beside Harry. He was so used to them
doing this by now that he didn ’t even fall off his chair.
“We were just wondering who assigned the Slinkhard book, ” said Fred
conversationally.
“Because it means Dumbledore ’s found a new Defense Against the
Dark Arts teacher, ” said George.
 160 ‘

THE WOES
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WEASLEY
“And about time too, ” said Fred.
“What d ’you mean? ” Harry asked, jumping down beside them. “Well,
we overheard Mum and Dad talking on the Extendable Ears a few weeks
back, ” Fred told Harry, “and from what they were saying, Dumbledore
was having real trouble finding anyone to do the job this year. ”
“Not surprising, is it, when you look at what ’s happened to the last
four? ” said George.
“One sacked, one dead, one ’s memory removed, and one locked in a
trunk for nine months, ” said Harry, counting them off on his fin - gers.
“Yeah, I see what you mean. ”
“What ’s up with you, Ron? ” asked Fred.
Ron did not answer. Harry looked around. Ron was standing very still
with his mouth slightly open, gaping at his letter from Hogwarts.
“What ’s the matter? ” said Fred impatiently, moving around Ron to look
over his shoulder at the parchment.
Fred ’s mouth fell open too.
“Prefect? ” he s aid, staring incredulously at the letter. “ Prefect ?”
George leapt forward, seized the envelope in Ron ’s other hand, and
turned it upside down. Harry saw something scarlet and gold fall into
George ’s palm.
“No way, ” said George in a hushed voice.
“There ’s been a mistake, ” said Fred, snatching the letter out of Ron ’s
grasp and holding it up to the light as though checking for a wa - termark.
“No one in their right mind would make Ron a prefect. . . . ” The twins ’
heads turned in unison and both of them stared at Harry.
“We thought you were a cert! ” said Fred in a tone that suggested Harry
had tricked them in some way.
“We thought Dumbledore was bound to pick you! ” said George
indignantly.
 161 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

“Winning the Triwizard and everything! ” said Fred. “I suppose all the
mad stuff must ’ve counted against him, ” said George to Fred.
“Yeah, ” said Fred slowly. “Yeah, you ’ve caused too much trouble, mate.
Well, at least one of you ’s got their priorities right .”
He strode over to Harry and clapped him on the back while giving Ron a
scathing look.
“ Prefect . . . ickle Ronnie the prefect . . . ”
“Oh, Mum ’s going to be revolting, ” groaned George, thrusting the
prefect badge back at Ron as though it might contaminate him. Ron,
who still had not said a word, took the badge, stared at it for a moment,
and then held it out to Harry as though asking mutely for confirmation
that it was genuine. Harry took it. A large P was super - imposed on the
Gryffindor lion. He had seen a badge just like this on Percy ’s chest on
his very first day at Hogwarts.
The door banged open. Hermione came tearing into the room, her
cheeks flushed and her hair flying. There was an envelope in her hand.
“Did you — did you get — ?”
She spotted the badge in Harry ’s hand and let out a shriek. “I knew it! ”
she said excitedly, brandishing her letter. “Me too, Harry, me too! ”
“No, ” said Harry quickly, pushing the badge back into Ron ’s hand. “It’s
Ron, not me. ”
“It — what? ”
“Ron ’s prefect, not me, ” Harry said.
“ Ron ?” said Hermione, her jaw dropping. “But . . . are you sure? I
mean — ”
She turned red as Ron looked around at her with a defiant expres - sion
on his face.
“It’s my name on the letter, ” he said.
“I . . . ” said Hermione, looking thoroughly bewildered. “I . . . well
. . . wow! Well done, Ron! That ’s really — ”
 162 ‘

THE WOES
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WEASLEY
“Unexpected, ” said George, nodding.
“No, ” said Hermione, blushing harder than ever, “no, it ’s not . . . Ron ’s
done loads of . . . he ’s really . . . ”
The door behind her opened a little wider and Mrs. Weasley backed into
the room carrying a pile of freshly laundered robes. “Ginny said the
booklis ts had come at last, ” she said, glancing around at all the envelopes
as she made her way over to the bed and started sorting the robes into
two piles. “If you give them to me I ’ll take them over to Diagon Alley
this afternoon and get your books while you ’re packing. Ron, I ’ll have to
get you more pajamas, these are at least six inches too short, I can ’t
believe how fast you ’re growing . . . what color would you like? ”
“Get him red and gold to match his badge, ” said George, smirking.
“Match his what? ” said Mrs. Weasley absently, rolling up a pair of
maroon socks and placing them on Ron ’s pile.
“His badge, ” said Fred, with the air of getting the worst over
quickly. “His lovely shiny new prefect ’s badge. ”
Fred ’s words took a moment to penetrate Mrs. Weasley ’s preoccu -
pation about pajamas.
“His . . . but . . . Ron, you ’re not. . . ? ”
Ron held up his badge.
Mrs. Weasley let out a shriek just like Hermione ’s. “I don ’t believe it! I
don ’t believe it! Oh, Ron , how wonderful! A prefect! That ’s everyone in
the family! ”
“What are Fred and I, next -door neighbors? ” said George indig - nantly,
as his mother pushed him aside and flung her arms around her youngest
son.
“Wait until your father hears! Ron, I ’m so proud of you, what won -
derful news, you could end up Head Boy just like Bill and Percy, it ’s the
first step! Oh, what a thing to happen in the middle of all this
worry, I ’m just thrilled, oh Ronnie — ”
Fred and George were both making loud retch ing noises behind
 163 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

her back but Mrs. Weasley did not notice; arms tight around Ron ’s neck,
she was kissing him all over his face, which had turned a brighter scarlet
than his badge.
“Mum . . . don ’t . . . Mum, get a grip. . . . ” he muttered, trying to push her
away.
She let go of him and said breathlessly, “Well, what will it be? We gave
Percy an owl, but you ’ve already got one, of course. ” “W -what do you
mean? ” said Ron, looking as though he did n ot dare believe his ears.
“You ’ve got to have a reward for this! ” said Mrs. Weasley fondly. “How
about a nice new set of dress robes? ”
“We ’ve already bought him some, ” said Fred sourly, who looked as
though he sincerely regretted this generosity.
“Or a new cauldron, Charlie ’s old one ’s rusting through, or a new rat,
you always liked Scabbers — ”
“Mum, ” said Ron hopefully, “can I have a new broom? ” Mrs. Weasley ’s
face fell slightly; broomsticks were expensive. “Not a really good one! ”
Ron hastened to add. “Just — just a new one for a change . . . ”
Mrs. Weasley hesitated, then smiled.
“Of course you can. . . . Well, I ’d better get going if I ’ve got a broom
to buy too. I ’ll see you all later. . . . Little Ronnie, a prefect! And don ’t
forget to pack your trunks. . . . A prefect . . . Oh, I ’m all of a dither! ” She
gave Ron yet another kiss on the cheek, sniffed loudly, and bus - tled
from the room.
Fred and George exchanged looks.
“You don ’t mind if we don ’t kiss you, do you, Ron? ” sa id Fred in a
falsely anxious voice.
“We could curtsy, if you like, ” said George.
“Oh, shut up, ” said Ron, scowling at them.
“Or what? ” said Fred, an evil grin spreading across his face. “Going to
put us in detention? ”
 164 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
“I’d love to see him try, ” sniggered George.
“He could if you don ’t watch out! ” said Hermione angrily, at which Fred
and George burst out laughing and Ron muttered, “Drop it, Hermione. ”
“We ’re going to have to watch our ste p, George, ” said Fred, pre -
tending to tremble, “with these two on our case. . . . ”
“Yeah, it looks like our law -breaking days are finally over, ” said George,
shaking his head.
And with another loud crack, the twins Disapparated.
“Those two! ” said Hermione furiously, staring up at the ceiling, through
which they could now hear Fred and George roaring with laughter in the
room upstairs. “Don ’t pay any attention to them, Ron, they ’re only
jealous! ”
“I don ’t think they are, ” said Ron doubtfull y, also looking up at the
ceiling. “They ’ve always said only prats become prefects. . . . Still, ” he
added on a happier note, “they ’ve never had new brooms! I wish I could
go with Mum and choose. . . . She ’ll never be able to afford a Nimbus,
but there ’s t he new Cleansweep out, that ’d be great. . . . Yeah, I think I ’ll
go and tell her I like the Cleansweep, just so she knows. . . . ”
He dashed from the room, leaving Harry and Hermione alone. For some
reason, Harry found that he did not want to look at Hermi one. He
turned to his bed, picked up the pile of clean robes Mrs. Weasley had laid
upon it, and crossed the room to his trunk. “Harry? ” said Hermione
tentatively.
“Well done, ” said Harry, so heartily it did not sound like his voice at all,
and still not looking at her. “Brilliant. Prefect. Great. ” “Thanks, ” said
Hermione. “Erm — Harry — could I borrow Hedwig so I can tell Mum
and Dad? They ’ll be really pleased — I mean, prefect is something they
can understand — ”
“Yeah, no problem, ” said Harry, still in the horrible hearty voice that did
not belong to him. “Take her! ”
 165 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

He leaned over his trunk, laid the robes on the bottom of it, and pre -
tended to be rummaging for something while Hermione crossed to the
wardrobe and called Hedwig down. A few moments passed; Harry heard
the door close but remained bent double, listening; the only sounds he
could hear were the blank picture on the wall snig gering again and the
wastepaper basket in the corner coughing up the owl droppings. He
straightened up and looked behind him. Hermione and Hed - wig had
gone. Harry returned slowly to his bed and sank onto it, gaz - ing
unseeingly at the foot of the wardrobe .
He had forgotten completely about prefects being chosen in the fifth
year. He had been too anxious about the possibility of being ex - pelled to
spare a thought for the fact that badges must be winging
their way toward certain people. But if he had remembered . . . if he
had thought about it . . . what would he have expected?
Not this, said a small and truthful voice inside his head.
Harry screwed up his face and buried it in his hands. He could not lie to
himself; if he had known the prefect badge was on its way, he would
have expected it to come to him, not Ron. Did this make him as arrogant
as Draco Malfoy? Did he think himself superior to every -
one else? Did he really believe he was better th an Ron?
No, said the small voice defiantly.
Was that true? Harry wondered, anxiously probing his own feelings.
I’m better at Quidditch, said the voice. But I ’m not better at anything
else.
That was definitely true, Harry thought; he was no better than Ron in
lessons. But what about outside lessons? What about those adven - tures
he, Ron, and Hermione had had together since they had started at
Hogwarts, often risking much worse than expulsion?
Well, Ron and Hermione were with me most of the time, said the voice
in Harry ’s head.
Not all the time, though, Harry argued with himself.
They didn ’t fight
 166 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
Quirrell with me. They didn ’t take on Riddle and the basilisk. They didn ’t get rid of
all those dementors the night Sirius escaped. They weren ’t in that
graveyard with me, the night Voldemort returned. . . .
And the same feeling of ill usage that ha d overwhelmed him on
the night he had arrived rose again. I’ve definitely done more , Harry
thought indignantly. I’ve done more than either of them !
But maybe , said the small voice fairly, maybe Dumbledore doesn ’t
choose prefects because they ’ve got themselves into a load of dangerous situ - ations. . . .
Maybe he chooses them for other reasons. . . . Ron must have
something you don ’t. . . .
Harry opened his eyes and stared through his fingers at the ward - robe ’s
clawed feet, remembering wha t Fred had said.
“No one in their right mind would make Ron a prefect. . . . ” Harry gave
a small snort of laughter. A second later he felt sickened with himself.
Ron had not asked Dumbledore to give him the prefect badge. This was
not Ron ’s fault. Was he, Harry, Ron ’s best friend in the world, going to
sulk because he didn ’t have a badge, laugh with the twins behind Ron ’s
back, ruin this for Ron when, for the first time, he had beaten Harry at
something?
At this point Harry heard Ron ’s footsteps on the stairs again. He stood
up, straightened his glasses, and hitched a grin onto his face as Ron
bounded back through the door.
“Just caught her! ” he said happily. “She says she ’ll get the Clean - sweep
if she can. ”
“Cool, ” Harry said, and he was relieved to hear that his voice had
stopped sounding hearty. “Listen — Ron — well done, mate. ” The
smile faded off Ron ’s face.
“I never thought it would be me! ” he said, shaking his head, “I thought it
would be you! ”
“Nah, I ’ve caused too much trouble, ” Harry said, echoing Fred.
 167 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

“Yeah, ” said Ron, “yeah, I suppose. . . . Well, we ’d better get our trunks
packed, hadn ’t we? ”
It was odd how widely their possessions seemed to have scattered
themselves since they had arrived. It took them most of the afternoon to
retrieve their books and belongings from all over the house and stow
them back inside their school trunks. Harry notic ed that Ron kept
moving his prefect ’s badge around, first placing it on his bedside table,
then putting it into his jeans pocket, then taking it out and lay - ing it on
his folded robes, as though to see the effect of the red on the black. Only
when Fred an d George dropped in and offered to attach it to his
forehead with a Permanent Sticking Charm did he wrap it tenderly in his
maroon socks and lock it in his trunk.
Mrs. Weasley returned from Diagon Alley around six o ’clock, laden with
books and carrying a long package wrapped in thick brown pa - per that
Ron took from her with a moan of longing.
“Never mind unwrapping it now, people are arriving for dinner, I want
you all downstairs, ” she said, but the moment she was out of sight Ron
ripped off the paper in a frenzy and examined every inch of his new
broom, an ecstatic expression on his face.
Down in the basement Mrs. Weasley had hung a scarlet banner over the
heavily laden dinner table, which read congratulations ron and hermione
— new prefects. She lo oked in a better mood than Harry had seen her all
holiday.
“I thought we ’d have a little party, not a sit -down dinner, ” she told Harry,
Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, and Ginny as they entered the room.
“Your father and Bill are on their way, Ron, I ’ve sent them both
owls and they ’re thrilled, ” she added, beaming.
Fred rolled his eyes.
Sirius, Lupin, Tonks, and Kingsley Shacklebolt were already there and
Mad -Eye Moody stumped in shortly after Harry had got himself a
butterbeer.
“Oh, Alastor, I am glad you ’re here, ” said Mrs. Weasley brightly, as
 168 ‘

THE WOES
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WEASLEY
Mad -Eye shrugged off his traveling cloak. “We ’ve been wanting to ask
you for ages — could you have a look in the writing desk in the draw - ing
room and tell us what ’s inside it? We haven ’t wanted to open it just in
case it ’s something really nasty. ”
“No problem, Molly . . . ”
Moody ’s electric -blue eye swiveled upward and stared fixedl y through
the ceiling of the kitchen.
“Drawing room . . . ” he growled, as the pupil contracted. “Desk in the
corner? Yeah, I see it. . . . Yeah, it ’s a boggart. . . . Want me to go up and
get rid of it, Molly? ”
“No, no, I ’ll do it myself later, ” beamed Mrs. Weasley. “You have your
drink. We ’re having a little bit of a celebration, actually. . . . ” She gestured
at the scarlet banner. “Fourth prefect in the family! ” she said fondly,
ruffling Ron ’s hair.
“Prefect, eh? ” growled Moody, his normal eye on Ron and his mag - ical
eye swiveling around to gaze into the side of his head. Harry had the very
uncomfortable feeling it was looking at him and moved away toward
Sirius and Lupin.
“Well, congratulations, ” said Moody, still glaring at Ron with his normal
eye , “authority figures always attract trouble, but I suppose Dumbledore
thinks you can withstand most major jinxes or he wouldn ’t have
appointed you. . . . ”
Ron looked rather startled at this view of the matter but was saved the
trouble of responding by the arrival of his father and eldest brother. Mrs.
Weasley was in such a good mood she did not even complain that they
had brought Mundungus with them too; he was wearing a long overcoat
that seemed oddly lumpy in unlikely pla ces and declined the offer to
remove it and put it with Moody ’s traveling cloak.
“Well, I think a toast is in order, ” said Mr. Weasley, when everyone had
a drink. He raised his goblet. “To Ron and Hermione, the new
Gryffindor prefects! ”
 169 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

Ron and Hermione beamed as everyone drank to them and then
applauded.
“I was never a prefect myself, ” said Tonks brightly from behind Harry as
everybody moved toward the table to help themselves to food. Her hair
was tomato -red and waist length today; she looked like Ginny ’s older
sister. “My Head of House said I lacked certain neces - sary qualities. ”
“Like what? ” said Ginny, who was choosing a baked potato.
“Like the ability to behave myself, ” said Tonks.
Ginny laughed; Hermione looked as though she did not know whether
to smile or not and compromised by taking an extra large gulp of
butterbeer and choking on it.
“What about you, Sirius? ” Ginny asked, thumping Hermione on the
back.
Sirius, who wa s right beside Harry, let out his usual barklike laugh. “No
one would have made me a prefect, I spent too much time in detention
with James. Lupin was the good boy, he got the badge. ” “I think
Dumbledore might have hoped that I would be able to ex - ercise some
control over my best friends, ” said Lupin. “I need scarcely say that I
failed dismally. ”
Harry ’s mood suddenly lifted. His father had not been a prefect ei - ther.
All at once the party seemed much more enjoyable; he loaded up his
plate, feeling unusu ally fond of everyone in the room.
Ron was rhapsodizing about his new broom to anybody who would
listen.
“. . . naught to seventy in ten seconds, not bad, is it? When you think the
Comet Two Ninety ’s only naught to sixty and that ’s with a
decent tailwind according to Which Broomstick ?”
Hermione was talking very earnestly to Lupin about her view of elf
rights.
“I mean, it ’s the same kind of nonsense as werewolf segregation,
 170 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
isn ’t it? It all stems from this horrible thing wizards have of thinking
they ’re superior to other creatures. . . . ”
Mrs. Weasley and Bill were having their usual argument about Bill ’s hair.
“. . . getting really out of hand, and you ’re so good -looking, it would look
much better shorter, wouldn ’t it, Harry? ”
“Oh — I dunno — ” said Harry, slightly alarmed at being asked his
opinion; he slid away from them in the direction of Fred and George,
who were huddled in a corner with Mundungus .
Mundungus stopped talking when he saw Harry, but Fred winked and
beckoned Harry closer.
“It’s okay, ” he told Mundungus, “we can trust Harry, he ’s our fi - nancial
backer. ”
“Look what Dung ’s gotten us, ” said George, holding out his hand to
Harry. It w as full of what looked like shriveled black pods. A faint
rattling noise was coming from them, even though they were com -
pletely stationary.
“Venomous Tentacula seeds, ” said George. “We need them for the
Skiving Snackboxes but they ’re a Class C Non -Tradeable Substance so
we ’ve been having a bit of trouble getting hold of them. ”
“Ten Galleons the lot, then, Dung? ” said Fred.
“Wiv all the trouble I went to to get ’em? ” said Mundungus, his saggy,
bloodshot eyes stretching even wider. “I’m sorry, lads, but I ’m not
taking a Knut under twenty. ”
“Dung likes his little joke, ” Fred said to Harry.
“Yeah, his best one so far has been six Sickles for a bag of knarl quills, ”
said George.
“Be ca reful, ” Harry warned them quietly.
“What? ” said Fred. “Mum ’s busy cooing over Prefect Ron, we ’re okay. ”
“But Moody could have his eye on you, ” Harry pointed out.
 171 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

Mundungus looked nervously over his shoulder. “Good point, that, ” he
grunted. “All right, lads, ten it is, if you ’ll take ’em quick. ”
“Cheers, Harry! ” said Fred delightedly, when Mundungus had emptied
his pockets into the twins ’ outstretched hands and scu ttled off toward
the food. “We ’d better get these upstairs. . . . ”
Harry watched them go, feeling slightly uneasy. It had just oc - curred to
him that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley would want to know how Fred and
George were financing their joke shop business whe n, as was inevitable,
they finally found out about it. Giving the twins his Tri - wizard winnings
had seemed a simple thing to do at the time, but what if it led to another
family row and a Percy -like estrangement? Would Mrs. Weasley still feel
that Harry w as as good as her son if she found out he had made it
possible for Fred and George to start a ca - reer she thought quite
unsuitable?
Standing where the twins had left him with nothing but a guilty weight in
the pit of his stomach for company, Harry caught the sound of his own
name. Kingsley Shacklebolt ’s deep voice was audible even over the
surrounding chatter.
“. . . why Dumbledore didn ’t make Potter a prefect? ” said Kingsley.
“He ’ll have had hi s reasons, ” replied Lupin.
“But it would ’ve shown confidence in him. It ’s what I ’d’ve done, ”
persisted Kingsley, “’specially with the Daily Prophet having a go at
him every few days. . . . ”
Harry did not look around; he did not want Lupin or King sley to know
he had heard. He followed Mundungus back toward the table, though
not remotely hungry. His pleasure in the party had evaporated as quickly
as it had come; he wished he were upstairs in bed. Mad -Eye Moody was
sniffing at a chicken leg with what remained of his nose; evidently he
could not detect any trace of poison, because he then tore a strip off it
with his teeth.
 172 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
“. . . the handle ’s made of Spanish oak with anti -jinx varnish and in-built
vibration control — ” Ron was saying to Tonks.
Mrs. Weasley yawned widely.
“Well, I think I ’ll sort out that boggart before I turn in. . . . Arthur, I
don ’t want this lot up too late, all right? ’Night, Harry, dear. ” She left the
kitchen. Harry set down his plate and wondered whether he could follow
her without attracting attention.
“You all right, Potter? ” grunted Moody.
“Yeah, fine, ” lied Harry.
Moody took a swig from his hip flask, his electric blue eye staring
sideways at Harry.
“Come here, I ’ve got something that might interest you, ” he said. From
an inner pocket of his robes Moody pulled a very tattered old Wizarding
photograph.
“Original Order of the Phoenix, ” growled Moody. “Found it last night
when I was looking for my spare Invisibility Cloak, seeing as Podmore
hasn ’t had the manners to return my best one. . . . Thought people might
like to see it. ”
Harry took the photograph. A small crowd of people, some waving at
him, others lifting th eir glasses, looked back up at him.
“There ’s me, ” said Moody unnecessarily, pointing at himself. The
Moody in the picture was unmistakable, though his hair was slightly less
gray and his nose was intact. “And there ’s Dumbledore beside me,
Dedalus Diggle o n the other side . . . That ’s Marlene McKinnon, she was
killed two weeks after this was taken, they got her whole family. That ’s
Frank and Alice Longbottom — ”
Harry ’s stomach, already uncomfortable, clenched as he looked at Alice
Longbottom; he knew her r ound, friendly face very well, even though he
had never met her, because she was the image of her son, Neville.
“Poor devils, ” growled Moody. “Better dead than what happened
 173 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

to them . . . and that ’s Emmeline Vance, you ’ve met her, and that there ’s
Lupin, obviously . . . Benjy Fenwick, he copped it too, we only ever
found bits of him . . . shift aside there, ” he added, poking the pic - ture,
and the little photographic people edged sideways, so that t hose who
were partially obscured could move to the front.
“That ’s Edgar Bones . . . brother of Amelia Bones, they got him and his
family too, he was a great wizard . . . Sturgis Podmore, blimey, he looks
young . . . Caradoc Dearborn, vanished six months a fter this, we never
found his body . . . Hagrid, of course, looks exactly the same as ever . . .
Elphias Doge, you ’ve met him, I ’d forgotten he used to wear that stupid
hat . . . Gideon Prewett, it took five Death Eaters to kill him and his
brother Fabian, they fought like heroes . . . budge along, budge
along . . . ”
The little people in the photograph jostled among themselves, and those
hidden right at the back appeared at the forefront of the picture. “That ’s
Dumbledore ’s brother, Aberforth, only time I ever met him, strange
bloke . . . That ’s Dorcas Meadowes, Voldemort killed her per - sonally . . .
Sirius, when he still had short hair . . . and . . . there you go, thought that
would interest you! ”
Harry ’s heart turned over. His mother and father wer e beaming up at
him, sitting on either side of a small, watery -eyed man Harry rec -
ognized at once as Wormtail: He was the one who had betrayed their
whereabouts to Voldemort and so helped bring about their deaths.
“Eh? ” said Moody.
Harry looked up into M oody ’s heavily scarred and pitted face. Evi -
dently Moody was under the impression he had just given Harry a bit of
a treat.
“Yeah, ” said Harry, attempting to grin again. “Er . . . listen, I ’ve just
remembered, I haven ’t packed my . . . ”
He was spared the trouble of inventing an object he had not packed;
Sirius had just said, “What ’s that you ’ve got there, Mad -Eye? ” and
Moody had turned toward him. Harry crossed the kitchen,
 174 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
slipped through the door and up the stairs before anyone could call him
back.
He did not know why he had received such a shock; he had seen his
parents ’ pictures before, after all, and he had met Wormtail . . . but to
have them sprung on him like that, wh en he was least expecting it . . . No
one would like that, he thought angrily. . . .
And then, to see them surrounded by all those other happy faces
. . . Benjy Fenwick, who had been found in bits, and Gideon Prewett,
who had died like a hero, and the Longbottoms, who had been tor - tured
into madness . . . all waving happily out of the photograph forevermore,
not knowing that they were doomed. . . . Well, Moody might find that
interesting . . . he, Harry, found it dist urbing. . . . Harry tiptoed up the
stairs in the hall past the stuffed elf heads, glad to be on his own again,
but as he approached the first landing he heard noises. Someone was
sobbing in the drawing room.
“Hello? ” Harry said.
There was no answer but the sobbing continued. He climbed the
remaining stairs two at a time, walked across the landing, and opened the
drawing -room door.
Someone was cowering against the dark wall, her wand in her hand, her
whole body shaking with sobs. Sprawled on the dusty old carpet in a
patch of moonlight, clearly dead, was Ron.
All the air seemed to vanish from Harry ’s lungs; he felt as though he
were falling through the floor; his brain turned icy cold — Ron dead, no,
it couldn ’t be —
But wait a moment, it couldn ’t be — Ron was downstairs —
“Mrs. Weasley? ” Harry croaked.
“ R-r-riddikulus !’’ Mrs. Weasley sobbed, pointing her shaking wand
at Ron ’s body.
Crack.
Ron ’s body turned into Bill ’s, spread -eagled on his back, his eyes wide
open and empty. Mrs. Weasley sobbed harder than ever.

 175 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

“ R-riddikulus !” she sobbed again.
Crack.
Mr. Weasley ’s body replaced Bill ’s, his glasses askew, a trickle of blood
running down his face.
“No! ” Mrs. Weasley moaned. “No . . . riddikulus ! Riddikulus !
RIDDIKULUS !”
Crack. Dead twins. Crack. Dead Percy. Crack. Dead Harry . . .
“Mrs. Weasley, just get out of here! ” shouted Harry, staring down at his
own dead body on the floor. “Let someone else — ”
“What ’s going on? ”
Lupin had come running into the room, closely followed by Sirius, with
Moody stumping along behind them. Lupin looked from Mrs. Weasley
to the dead Harry on the floor and seemed to understand in an instant.
Pullin g out his own wand he said, very firmly and clearly,
“ Riddikulus !”
Harry ’s body vanished. A silvery orb hung in the air over the spot where
it had lain. Lupin waved his wand once more and the orb van - ished in a
puff of smoke.
“Oh — oh — oh! ” gulped Mrs. Weasley, and she broke into a storm of
crying, her face in her hands.
“Molly, ” said Lupin bleakly, walking over to her, “Molly, don ’t . . . ” Next
second she was sobbing her heart out on Lupin ’s shoulder. “Molly, it
was just a boggart, ” he sai d soothingly, patting her on the head. “Just a
stupid boggart . . . ”
“I see them d -d-dead all the time! ” Mrs. Weasley moaned into his
shoulder. “All the t -t-time! I d -d-dream about it . . . ”
Sirius was staring at the patch of carpet where the boggart, pr e- tending
to be Harry ’s body, had lain. Moody was looking at Harry, who avoided
his gaze. He had a funny feeling Moody ’s magical eye had followed him
all the way out of the kitchen.
“D -d-don ’t tell Arthur, ” Mrs. Weasley was gulping now, mopping
 176 ‘

THE WOES
OF MRS.
WEASLEY
her eyes frantically with her cuffs. “I d -d-don ’t want him to know. . . .
Being silly . . . ”
Lupin handed her a handkerchief and she blew her nose. “Harry, I ’m so
sorry, what must you think of me? ” she said shakily. “Not even able to
get rid of a boggart . . . ”
“Don ’t be stupid, ” said Harry, trying to smile.
“I’m just s -s-so worried, ” she said, tears spilling out of her eyes again.
“Half the f -f-family ’s in the Order, it ’ll b -b-be a miracle if w e all come
through this. . . . and P -P-Percy ’s not talking to us. . . . What if something
d-d-dreadful happens and we had never m -m -made up? And what ’s
going to happen if Arthur and I get killed, who ’s g -g-going to look after
Ron and Ginny? ”
“Molly, that ’s enough, ” said Lupin firmly. “This isn ’t like last time. The
Order is better prepared, we ’ve got a head start, we know what
Voldemort ’s up to — ”
Mrs. Weasley gave a little squeak of fright at the sound of the name. “Oh,
Molly, come on, it ’s about time you got used to hearing it — look, I can ’t
promise no one ’s going to get hurt, nobody can promise that, but we ’re
much better off than we were last time, you weren ’t in the Order then,
you don ’t understand, last time we were outnumbered twenty to one by
the Death Eaters and they were picking us off one by one. . . . ”
Harry thought of the photograph again, of his parents ’ beaming faces.
He knew Moody was still watching him.
“Don ’t worry about Percy, ” said Sirius abruptly. “He ’ll come round. It ’s
a matter of time before Voldemort moves into the open; once he does,
the whole Ministry ’s going to be begging us to forgive them. And I ’m
not sure I ’ll be accepting their apology, ” he added bitterly. “And as for
who ’s going to look after Ron and Ginny i f you and Arthur died, ” said
Lupin, smiling slightly, “what do you think we ’d do, let them starve? ”
 177 ‘

CHAPTER NINE

Mrs. Weasley smiled tremulously.
“Being silly, ” she muttered again, mopping her eyes. But Harry, closing
his bedroom door behind him some ten minutes later, could not think
Mrs. Weasley silly. He could still see his parents beaming up at him from
the tattered old photograph, unaware that their lives, like so many of
those around them, were drawing to a close. The image of the boggart
posing as the corpse of each member of Mrs. Weasley ’s family in turn
kept flashing before his eyes.
Without warning, the scar on his forehead seared with pain again and his
stomach churned horribly.
“Cut i t out, ” he said firmly, rubbing the scar as the pain receded again.
“First sign of madness, talking to your own head, ” said a sly voice from
the empty picture on the wall.
Harry ignored it. He felt older than he had ever felt in his life, and it
seemed e xtraordinary to him that barely an hour ago he had been
worried about a joke shop and who had gotten a prefect ’s badge.
















 178 ‘

C H A P T E R T E N









LUNA
LOVEGOOD



arry had a troubled night ’s sleep. His parents wove in and out
H
of his dreams, never speaking; Mrs. Weasley sobbed over
Kreacher ’s dead body watched by Ron and Hermione, who were wear -
ing crowns, and yet again Harry found himself walking down a corri - dor
ending in a locked door. He awoke abruptly with his scar prickling to
find Ron already dressed and talking to him.
“. . . bett er hurry up, Mum ’s going ballistic, she says we ’re going to miss
the train. . . . ”
There was a lot of commotion in the house. From what he heard as he
dressed at top speed, Harry gathered that Fred and George had be -
witched their trunks to fly downstairs to save the bother of carrying

them, with the result that they had hurtled straight into Ginny and
knocked her down two flights of stairs into the hall; Mrs. Black and Mrs.
Weasley were both screaming at the top of t heir voices.
“— COULD HAVE DONE HER A SERIOUS INJURY, YOU
IDIOTS — ”
“— FILTHY HALF -BREEDS, BESMIRCHING THE HOUSE OF
MY FATHERS — ”
 179 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

Hermione came hurrying into the room looking flustered just as Harry
was putting on his trainers; Hedwig was swaying on her shoul - der, and
she was carrying a squirming Crookshanks in her arms. “Mum and Dad
just sent Hedwig back ” — the owl fluttered oblig - ingly over and
perched on top of her cage — “are you ready yet ?” “Nearly — Ginny all
right? ” Harry asked, shoving on his glasses. “Mrs. Weasley ’s patched her
up, ” said Hermione. “But now Mad - Eye ’s complaining that we can ’t
leave unless Sturgis Podmore ’s here, otherwise the guard will be one
short. ”
“Guard? ” said Harry. “We have to go to King ’s Cross with a guard? ”
“ You have to go to King ’s Cross with a guard, ” Hermione corrected
him.
“Why? ” said Harry irritably. “I thought Voldemort was supposed to be
lying low, or are you telling me he ’s going to jump out from behind a
dustbin to try and do me in? ”
“I don ’t know, it ’s just what Mad -Eye says, ” said Hermione distractedly,
looking at her watch. “But if we don ’t leave soon we ’re definitely going
to miss the train. . . . ”
“WILL YOU LOT GET DOWN HERE NOW, PLEASE! ” Mrs.
Weasley bellowed and Hermione jumped as though scalded and hurried
out of the room. Harry seized Hedwig, stuffed her unceremo - niously
into her cage, and set off downstairs after Hermione, dragging his trunk.
Mrs. Black ’s portrait was how ling with rage but nobody was both - ering
to close the curtains over her; all the noise in the hall was bound to rouse
her again anyway.
“Harry, you ’re to come with me and Tonks, ” shouted Mrs. Weasley
over the repeated screeches of
“MUDBLOODS ! SCUM ! CREATURES
OF DIRT !” “Leave your trunk and your owl, Alastor ’s going to deal with
the luggage. . . . Oh, for heaven ’s sake, Sirius, Dumbledore said no! ”
A bearlike black dog had appeared at Harry ’s side as Harry clam -
 180 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

bered over the various trunks cluttering the hall to get to Mrs. Weasley.
“Oh honestly . . . ” said Mrs. Weasley despairingly, “well, on your own
head be it! ”
She wrenched open the front door and stepped out into the weak
September sunlight. Harry and the dog followed her. The door slammed
behind them and Mrs. Black ’s screeches were cut off instantly.
“Where ’s Tonks? ” Harry said, looking around as they went down the
stone steps of number twelve, which vanished the moment they reached
the pavement.
“She ’s waiting for us just up here, ” said Mrs. Weasley stiffly, avert - ing
her eyes from the lolloping black dog beside Harry.
An old woman greeted them on the corner. She had tightly curled gray
hair and wore a purple hat shaped like a porkpie.
“Wotcher, Harry, ” she said, winking. “Better hurry up, hadn ’t we,
Molly? ” she added, checking her watch.
“I know, I know, ” moaned Mrs. Weasley, lengthening her stride, “but
Mad -Eye wanted to wait for Sturgis. . . . If only Arthur could have got
us cars from the Ministry again . . . but Fudge wouldn ’t let
him borrow so much as an empty ink bottle these days. . . . How
Muggles can stand traveling without magic . . . ”
But the great black dog gave a joyful bark and gamboled around them,
snapping at pigeons, and chasing its own tail. Harry couldn ’t help
laughing. Sirius had been trapped inside for a very long time. Mrs.
Weasley pursed her lips in an almost Aunt Petunia -ish way.
It took them twenty minutes to reach King ’s Cross by foot and nothing
more eventful happened during that time than Sirius scaring a couple of
cats for Harry ’s entertainment. Once inside the station they lingered
casually beside the barrier between platforms nine and ten until the coast
was clear, then each of them leaned against it in
 181 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

turn and fell easily through onto platform nine and three quarters, where
the Hogwarts Express stood belching sooty steam over a plat - form
packed with departing students and their families. Harry inhaled the
familiar smell and felt his spirits soar. . . . He was really going back. . . .
“I hope the others make it in time ,” said Mrs. Weasley anxiously, staring
behind her at the wrought -iron arch spanning the platform, through
which new arrivals would come.
“Nice dog, Harry! ” called a tall boy with dreadlocks. “Thanks, Lee, ” said
Harry, grinning, as Sirius wagged his tai l frantically.
“Oh good, ” said Mrs. Weasley, sounding relieved, “here ’s Alastor with
the luggage, look . . . ”
A porter ’s cap pulled low over his mismatched eyes, Moody came
limping through the archway pushing a cart full of their trunks. “All
okay, ” he muttered to Mrs. Weasley and Tonks. “Don ’t think we were
followed. . . . ”
Seconds later, Mr. Weasley emerged onto the platform with Ron and
Hermione. They had almost unloaded Moody ’s luggage cart when Fred,
George, and Ginny turned up with Lupin.
“No trouble? ” growled Moody.
“Nothing, ” said Lupin.
“I’ll still be reporting Sturgis to Dumbledore, ” said Moody. “That ’s the
second time he ’s not turned up in a week. Getting as unreliable as
Mundungus. ”
“Well, look after yourselves, ” said Lupin, sh aking hands all round. He
reached Harry last and gave him a clap on the shoulder. “You too, Harry.
Be careful. ”
“Yeah, keep your head down and your eyes peeled, ” said Moody,
shaking Harry ’s hand too. “And don ’t forget, all of you — careful what
you put in writing. If in doubt, don ’t put it in a letter at all. ”
 182 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

“It’s been great meeting all of you, ” said Tonks, hugging Hermione and
Ginny. “We ’ll see you soon, I expect. ”
A warning whistle sounded; the students still on the platform started
hurrying onto the train.
“Quick, quick, ” said Mrs. Weasley distractedly, hugging them at ran -
dom and catching Harry twice. “Write. . . . Be good. . . . If you ’ve for -
gotten anything we ’ll send it on. . . . Onto the train, now, hurry. . . . ” For
one brief moment, the great black dog reared onto its hind legs and
placed its front paws on Harry ’s shoulders, but Mrs. Weasley shoved
Harry away toward the train door hissing, “For heaven ’s sake act more
like a dog, Sirius! ”
“See you! ” Harry called out of the open window as the train began to
move, while Ron, Hermione, and Ginny waved beside him. The figures
of Tonks, Lupin, Moody, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley shrank rapidly but
the black dog was bounding alongside the window, wag - ging its tail;
blurred people on the platform were laughing to see it chasing the train,
and then they turned the corner, and Sirius was gone.
“He shouldn ’t have come with us, ” said Hermion e in a worried voice.
“Oh lighten up, ” said Ron, “he hasn ’t seen daylight for months, poor
bloke. ”
“Well, ” said Fred, clapping his hands together, “can ’t stand around
chatting all day, we ’ve got business to discuss with Lee. See you later, ”
and he and Ge orge disappeared down the corridor to the right.
The train was gathering still more speed, so that the houses outside the
window flashed past and they swayed where they stood.
“Shall we go and find a compartment, then? ” Harry asked Ron and
Hermione.
Ron and Hermione exchanged looks.
“Er, ” said Ron.
 183 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

“We ’re — well — Ron and I are supposed to go into the prefect
carriage, ” Hermione said awkwardly.
Ron wasn ’t looking at Harry; he seemed to have become intensely
interested in the fingernails on his left hand.
“Oh, ” said Harry. “Right. Fine. ”
“I don ’t think we ’ll have to stay there all journey, ” said Hermione quickly.
“Our letters said we just get instructions from the Head Boy and Girl
and then patrol the corridors from time to time. ”
“Fine, ” said Harry again. “Well, I -I might see you later, then. ” “Yeah,
definitely, ” said Ron, casting a shifty, anxious look at Harry. “It’s a pain
having to go down there, I ’d rather — but we have to — I mean, I ’m not
enjoying it, I ’m not Percy, ” he finished defiantly.
“I know you ’re not, ” said Harry and he grinned. But as Hermione and
Ron dragged their trunks, Crookshanks, and a caged Pigwidgeon off
toward the engine end of the train, Harry felt an odd sense of loss. He
had never traveled on the Hogwarts Express without Ron.
“Come on, ” Ginny told him, “if we get a move on we ’ll be abl e to save
them places. ”
“Right, ” said Harry, picking up Hedwig ’s cage in one hand and the
handle of his trunk in the other. They struggled off down the corridor,
peering through the glass -paneled doors into the compartments they
passed, which were already full. Harry could not help noticing that a lot
of people stared back at him with great interest and that several of them
nudged their neighbors and pointed him out. After he had met this
behavior in five consecutive carriages he remembered that the
Dai ly Prophet had been telling its readers all summer what a lying
show -off he was. He wondered bleakly whether the people now star -
ing and whispering believed the stories.
In the very last carriage they met Neville Longbottom, Harry ’s fel - low
fifth -year Gryffindor, his round face shining with the effort of pulling
his trunk along and maintaining a one -handed grip on his struggling toad,
Trevor.
 184 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

“Hi, Harry, ” he panted. “Hi, Ginny. . . . Everywhere ’s full. . . . I can ’t find
a seat. . . . ”
“What are you talking about? ” said Ginny, who had squeezed past
Neville to peer into the compartment behind him. “There ’s room in this
one, there ’s only Loony Lovegood in here — ”
Neville mumbled something about not wanting to disturb anyone.
“Don ’t be silly, ” said Ginny, laughing, “she ’s all right. ”
She slid the door open and pulled her trunk inside it. Harry and Neville
followed.
“Hi, Luna, ” said Ginny. “Is it okay if we take th ese seats? ” The girl
beside the window looked up. She had straggly, waist - length,
dirty -blond hair, very pale eyebrows, and protuberant eyes that gave her
a permanently surprised look. Harry knew at once why Neville had
chosen to pass this compartment by. The girl gave off an aura of distinct
dottiness. Perhaps it was the fact that she had stuck her wand behind her
left ear for safekeeping, or that she had chosen to wear a necklace of
butterbeer caps, or that she was reading a magazine upside down. Her
eye s ranged over Neville and came to rest on Harry. She nodded.
“Thanks, ” said Ginny, smiling at her.
Harry and Neville stowed the three trunks and Hedwig ’s cage in the
luggage rack and sat down. The girl called Luna watched them
over her upside -down mag azine, which was called The Quibbler. She
did not seem to need to blink as much as normal humans. She stared and
stared at Harry, who had taken the seat opposite her and now wished he
had not.
“Had a good summer, Luna? ” Ginny asked.
“Yes, ” said Luna dreamily, without taking her eyes off Harry. “Yes,
it was quite enjoyable, you know. You ’re Harry Potter, ” she added.
“I know I am, ” said Harry.
Neville chuckled. Luna turned her pale eyes upon him instead.
“And I don ’t know who you are. ”
 185 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

“I’m nobody, ” said Neville hurriedly.
“No you ’re not, ” said Ginny sharply. “Neville Longbottom — Luna
Lovegood. Luna ’s in my year, but in Ravenclaw. ”
“ Wit beyond measure is man ’s greatest treasure, ” said Luna in a
singsong voice.
She raised her upside -down magazine high enough to hide her face and
fell silent. Harry and Neville looked at each other with their eye - brows
raised. Ginny suppressed a giggle.
The train rattled onward, speeding them out into open country. It was an
odd, unsettled sort of day; one moment the carriage was full of sunlight
and the next they were passing beneath ominously gray clouds.
“Guess what I got for my birthday? ” said Nevill e. “Another
Remembrall? ” said Harry, remembering the marblelike device Neville ’s
grandmother had sent him in an effort to improve his abysmal memory.
“No, ” said Neville, “I could do with one, though, I lost the old one ages
ago. . . . No, look at this. . . .”
He dug the hand that was not keeping a firm grip on Trevor into his
schoolbag and after a little bit of rummaging pulled out what ap - peared
to be a small gray cactus in a pot, except that it was covered with what
looked like boils rather than spines .
“ Mimbulus mimbletonia, ” he said proudly.
Harry stared at the thing. It was pulsating slightly, giving it the rather
sinister look of some diseased internal organ.
“It’s really, really rare, ” said Neville, beaming. “I don ’t know if there ’s
one in t he greenhouse at Hogwarts, even. I can ’t wait to show it to
Professor Sprout. My great -uncle Algie got it for me in Assyria. I ’m
going to see if I can breed from it. ”
Harry knew that Neville ’s favorite subject was Herbology, but for the
life of him he could not see what he would want with this stunted little
plant.
 186 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

“Does it — er — do anything? ” he asked.
“Loads of stuff! ” said Neville proudly. “It’s got an amazing defen - sive
mechanism — hold Trevor for me. . . . ”
He dumped the toad into Harry ’s lap and took a quill from his schoolbag.
Luna Lovegood ’s popping eyes appeared over the top of her
upside -down magazine again, watching what Neville was doing.
Neville held the Mimbulus mimbletonia up to his eyes, his tongue be -
tween his teeth, chose his spot, and gave the plant a sharp prod with the
tip of his quill.
Liquid squirted from every boil on the plant, thick, stinking, dark - green
jets of it; they hit the ceiling, the windows, and spattered Luna
Lovegood ’s magazine. Ginny, who had flung her arms up in front of her
face just in time, merely looked as though she was wearing a slimy green
hat, but Harry, whose hands had been busy preventing the es - cap e of
Trevor, received a face full. It smelled like rancid manure. Neville, whose
face and torso were also drenched, shook his head to get the worst out
of his eyes.
“S-sorry, ” he gasped. “I haven ’t tried that before. . . . Didn ’t realize it
would be qui te so . . . Don ’t worry, though, Stinksap ’s not poiso - nous, ”
he added nervously, as Harry spat a mouthful onto the floor. At that
precise moment the door of their compartment slid open. “Oh . . . hello,
Harry, ” said a nervous voice. “Um . . . bad time? ” Harry wiped the lenses
of his glasses with his Trevor -free hand. A very pretty girl with long,
shiny black hair was standing in the doorway smiling at him: Cho Chang,
the Seeker on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team.
“Oh . . . hi, ” said Harry blankly.
“Um . . .” said Cho. “Well . . . just thought I ’d say hello . . . ’bye then. ”
She closed the door again, rather pink in the face, and departed. Harry
slumped back in his seat and groaned. He would have liked Cho to
discover him sitting with a group of very cool people laughing
 187 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

their heads off at a joke he had just told; he would not have chosen to be
sitting with Neville and Loony Lovegood, clutching a toad and dripping
in Stinksap.
“Nev er mind, ” said Ginny bracingly. “Look, we can get rid of all
this easily. ” She pulled out her wand. “ Scourgify !”
The Stinksap vanished.
“Sorry, ” said Neville again, in a small voice.
Ron and Hermione did not turn up for nearly an hour, by which time the
food trolley had already gone by. Harry, Ginny, and Neville had finished
their Pumpkin Pasties and were busy swapping Choco - late Frog cards
when the compartment door slid open and they walked in, accompanied
by Crookshanks and a shrilly hooting P ig- widgeon in his cage.
“I’m starving, ” said Ron, stowing Pigwidgeon next to Hedwig, grabbing
a Chocolate Frog from Harry and throwing himself into the seat next to
him. He ripped open the wrapper, bit off the Frog ’s head, and leaned
back with his eyes closed as though he had had a very ex - hausting
morning.
“Well, there are two fifth -year prefects from each House, ” said
Hermione, looking thoroughly disgruntled as she took her seat. “Boy
and girl from each. ”
“And guess who ’s a Slytherin prefect? ” said Ron, still with his eyes
closed.
“Malfoy, ” replied Harry at once, his worst fear confirmed. “’Course, ”
said Ron bitterly, stuffing the rest of the Frog into his mouth and taking
another.
“And that complete cow Pansy Parkinson, ” said Hermione vicious -
ly. “How she got to be a prefect when she ’s thicker than a concussed
troll . . . ”
“Who ’s Hufflepuff? ” Harry asked.
“Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott, ” said Ron thickly.
 188 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

“And Anthony Goldstein and Padma Patil for Ravenclaw, ” said
Hermione.
“You went to the Yule Ball with Padma Patil, ” said a vague voice.
Everyone turned to look at Luna Lovegood, who was gazing un -
blinkingly at Ron over the top of The Quibbler. He swallowed his
mouthful of Frog.
“Yeah, I know I did, ” he said, looking mildly surprised. “She didn ’t enjoy
it very much, ” Luna informed him. “She doesn ’t think you treated her
very well, because you wouldn ’t dance with her. I don ’t think I ’d have
minded, ” she added thoughtfully, “I don ’t like dancing very much. ”
She retreated behind The Quibbler again. Ron stared at the cover
with his mouth hanging open for a few seconds, then looked around at
Ginny for some kind of explanation, but Ginn y had stuffed her knuckles
in her mouth to stop herself giggling. Ron shook his head, bemused,
then checked his watch.
“We ’re supposed to patrol the corridors every so often, ” he told Harry
and Neville, “and we can give out punishments if people are
misbe having. I can ’t wait to get Crabbe and Goyle for something. . . . ”
“You ’re not supposed to abuse your position, Ron! ” said Hermione
sharply.
“Yeah, right, because Malfoy won ’t abuse it at all, ” said Ron sarcastically.
“So you ’re going to descend to h is level? ”
“No, I ’m just going to make sure I get his mates before he gets mine. ”
“For heaven ’s sake, Ron — ”
“I’ll make Goyle do lines, it ’ll kill him, he hates writing, ” said Ron
happily. He lowered his voice to Goyle ’s low grunt and, screwing up his
face in a look of pained concentration, mimed writing in midair. “I . . .
must . . . not . . . look . . . like . . . a . . . baboon ’s . . . backside . . . . ”
 189 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

Everyone laughed, but nobody laughed harder than Luna Love - good.
She let out a scream of mirth that caused Hedwig to wake up and flap
her wings indignantly and Crookshanks to leap up into the luggage rack,
hissing. She laughed so hard that her magazine sl ipped out of her grasp,
slid down her legs, and onto the floor.
“That was funny !”
Her prominent eyes swam with tears as she gasped for breath, staring at
Ron. Utterly nonplussed, he looked around at the others, who were now
laughing at the expression on Ron ’s face and at the ludicrously
prolonged laughter of Luna Lovegood, who was rocking backward and
forward, clutching her sides.
“Are you taking the mickey? ” said Ron, frowning at her. “Baboon ’s . . .
backside! ” she chok ed, holding her ribs. Everyone else was watching
Luna laughing, but Harry, glancing at the magazine on the floor, noticed
something that made him dive for it. Upside down it had been hard to
tell what the picture on the front was, but Harry now realized it was a
fairly bad cartoon of Cornelius Fudge; Harry only recognized him
because of the lime -green bowler hat. One of Fudge ’s hands was
clenched around a bag of gold; the other hand was throttling a goblin.
The cartoon was captioned: How Far Will Fudge Go t o Gain Gringotts?
Beneath this were listed the titles of other articles inside the magazine.

CORRUPTION IN THE QUIDDITCH LEAGUE:
How the Tornados Are Taking Control SECRETS OF
THE ANCIENT RUNES REVEALED SIRIUS BLACK:
Villain or Victim?

“Can I have a look at this? ” Harry asked Luna eagerly. She
nodded, still gazing at Ron, breathless with laughter.
 190 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

Harry opened the magazine and scanned the index; until this mo - me nt
he had completely forgotten the magazine Kingsley had handed
Mr. Weasley to give to Sirius, but it must have been this edition of The
Quibbler. He found the page and turned excitedly to the article.
This too was illustrated by a rather bad cartoon; in fact, Harry would not
have known it was supposed to be Sirius if it hadn ’t been captioned.
Sirius was standing on a pile of human bones with his wand out. The
headline on the article read:

SIRIUS - Black As He ’s Painted?
Notorious Mass Murderer OR Innocent Singing Sensation?

Harry had to read this sentence several times before he was con - vinced
that he had not misunderstood it. Since when had Sirius been a singing
sensation?
For fourteen year s Sirius Black has been believed
guilty of the mass murder of twelve innocent Mug - gles
and one wizard. Black ’s audacious escape from Azkaban
two years ago has led to the widest man - hunt ever
conducted by the Ministry of Magic. None of us has ever
questio ned that he deserves to be re - captured and
handed back to the dementors.
BUT DOES HE?
Startling new evidence has recently come to light that
Sirius Black may not have committed the crimes for which
he was sent to Azkaban. In fact, says Doris Purkiss, of 18
Acanthia Way, Little Norton, Black may not even have
been present at the killings.
“What people don ’t realize is that Sirius Black is a
false name, ” says Mrs. Purkiss. “The man people
 191 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

believe to be Sirius Black is actually Stubby Board -
man, lead singer of the popular singing group The
Hobgoblins, who retired from public life after being
struck in the ear by a turnip at a concert in Little Nor -
ton Church Hall nearly fifteen years ago. I
recognized him the moment I saw his picture in the
paper. Now, Stubby couldn ’t possibly have
committed those crimes, because on the day in
question he happened to be enjoying a romantic
candlelit dinner with me. I have written to the Minister
of Magic an d am expect - ing him to give Stubby,
alias Sirius, a full pardon any day now. ”

Harry finished reading and stared at the page in disbelief. Perhaps it was
a joke, he thought, perhaps the magazine often printed spoof items. He
flicked back a few pages and found the piece on Fudge.
Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, denied that
he had any plans to take over the running of the Wiz -
arding Bank, Gringotts, when he was elected
Minister of Magic five years ago. Fudge has always
insisted that he wants nothing more than to
“cooperate peacefully ” with the guardians of our
gold.
BUT DOES HE?
Sources close to the Minister have recently dis -
closed that Fudge ’s dearest ambition is to seize
control of the goblin gold suppl ies and that he will not
hesitate to use force if need be.
“It wouldn ’t be the first time, either, ” said a Ministry
insider. “Cornelius ‘Goblin -Crusher ’ Fudge, that ’s
what his friends call him, if you could hear him

 192 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

when he thinks no one ’s listening, oh, he ’s always
talking about the goblins he ’s had done in; he ’s had them
drowned, he ’s had them dropped off buildings, he ’s had
them poisoned, he ’s had them cooked in pies. . . . ”

Harry did not r ead any further. Fudge might have many faults but Harry
found it extremely hard to imagine him ordering goblins to be cooked in
pies. He flicked through the rest of the magazine. Pausing every few
pages he read an accusation that the Tutshill Tornados were winning the
Quidditch League by a combination of blackmail, illegal
broom -tampering, and torture; an interview with a wizard who claimed
to have flown to the moon on a Cleansweep Six and brought back a bag
of moon frogs to prove it; and an article on anci ent runes,
which at least explained why Luna had been reading The Quibbler up -
side down. According to the magazine, if you turned the runes on their
heads they revealed a spell to make your enemy ’s ears turn into
kumquats. In fact, compared to the rest of the articles in The Quibbler,
the suggestion that Sirius might really be the lead singer of The Hob -
goblins was quite sensible.
“Anything good in there? ” asked Ron as Harry closed the magazine.
“Of course not ,” said Hermione scathingly, before Harry could an -
swer, “The Quibbler ’s rubbish, everyone knows that. ”
“Excuse me, ” said Luna; her voice had suddenly lost its dreamy quality.
“My father ’s the editor. ”
“I — oh, ” said Hermione, looking embarrassed. “Well . . . it ’s got some
interesting . . . I mean, it ’s quite . . . ”
“I’ll have it back, thank you, ” said Luna coldly, and leaning forward she
snatched it out of Harry ’s hands. Rifling through it to page fifty - seve n,
she turned it resolutely upside down again and disappeared behind it, just
as the compartment door opened for the third time.
 193 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

Harry looked around; he had expected this, but that did not make the
sight of Draco Malfoy smirking at him from between his cronies Crabbe
and Goyle any more enjoyable.
“What? ” he said aggressively, before Malfoy could open his mouth.
“Manners, Potter, or I ’ll have to give you a detention, ” drawled Malfoy,
whose sleek blo nd hair and pointed chin were just like his father ’s. “You
see, I, unlike you, have been made a prefect, which means that I, unlike
you, have the power to hand out punishments. ” “Yeah, ” said Harry,
“but you, unlike me, are a git, so get out and leave us al one. ”
Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville laughed. Malfoy ’s lip curled. “Tell
me, how does it feel being second -best to Weasley, Potter? ” he asked.
“Shut up, Malfoy, ” said Hermione sharply.
“I seem to have touched a nerve, ” said Malfoy, smirking. “Wel l, just
watch yourself, Potter, because I ’ll be dogging your footsteps in case
you step out of line. ”
“Get out! ” said Hermione, standing up.
Sniggering, Malfoy gave Harry a last malicious look and departed,
Crabbe and Goyle lumbering in his wake. Hermione slammed the
compartment door behind them and turned to look at Harry, who knew
at once that she, like him, had registered what Malfoy had said and been
just as unnerved by it.
“Chuck us another Frog, ” sai d Ron, who had clearly noticed nothing.
Harry could not talk freely in front of Neville and Luna. He ex - changed
another nervous look with Hermione and then stared out of the
window.
He had thought Sirius coming with him to the station was a bit of a l augh,
but suddenly it seemed reckless, if not downright dangerous.
. . . Hermione had been right. . . . Sirius should not have come. What if
Mr. Malfoy had noticed the black dog and told Draco, what if he
 194 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

had deduced that the Weasleys, Lupin, Tonks, and Moody knew where
Sirius was hiding? Or had Malfoy ’s use of the word “dogging ” been a
coincidence?
The weather remained undecided as they traveled farther and far - ther
north. Rain spattered the window s in a halfhearted way, then the sun put
in a feeble appearance before clouds drifted over it once more. When
darkness fell and lamps came on inside the carriages, Luna
rolled up The Quibbler, put it carefully away in her bag, and took to
staring at everyone in the compartment instead.
Harry was sitting with his forehead pressed against the train win - dow,
trying to get a first distant glimpse of Hogwarts, but it was a moonless
night and the rain -streaked window was grimy.
“We ’d better change, ” said Hermione at last. She and Ron pinned their
prefect badges carefully to their chests. Harry saw Ron checking how it
looked in the black window.
At last the train began to slow down and they heard the usual racket up
and down it as everybody scrambl ed to get their luggage and pets
assembled, ready for departure. Ron and Hermione were supposed to
supervise all this; they disappeared from the carriage again, leaving Harry
and the others to look after Crookshanks and Pigwidgeon.
“I’ll carry that owl, i f you like, ” said Luna to Harry, reaching out for
Pigwidgeon as Neville stowed Trevor carefully in an inside pocket. “Oh
— er — thanks, ” said Harry, handing her the cage and hoist -
ing Hedwig ’s more securely into his arms.
They shuffled out of the compa rtment feeling the first sting of the night
air on their faces as they joined the crowd in the corridor. Slowly they
moved toward the doors. Harry could smell the pine trees that lined the
path down to the lake. He stepped down onto the platform and looked
around, listening for the familiar call of “Firs ’ years over here . . . firs ’
years . . . ”
But it did not come. Instead a quite different voice, a brisk female
 195 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

one, was calling, “First years line up over here, please! All first years to
me! ”
A lantern came swinging toward Harry and by its light he saw the
prominent chin and severe haircut of Professor Grubbly -Plank, the
witch who had taken over Hagrid ’s Care of Magical Creatures lessons
for a while the previous year.
“Where ’s Hagrid? ” he said out loud.
“I don ’t know, ” said Ginny, “but we ’d better get out of the way, we ’re
blocking the door. ”
“Oh yeah . . . ”
Harry and Ginny became separated as they moved off along the
platform and out through the station. Jostled by the crowd, Harry
squinted through the darkness for a glimpse of Hagrid; he had to be here,
Harry had been relying on it — seeing Hagrid again had been one of the
things to which he had been looking forward m ost. But there was no
sign of him at all.
He can ’t have left, Harry told himself as he shuffled slowly through
a narrow doorway onto the road outside with the rest of the crowd.
He ’s just got a cold or something. . . .
He looked around for Ron or Hermione, wanting to know what they
thought about the reappearance of Professor Grubbly -Plank, but
neither of them was anywhere near him, so he allowed himself to be
shunted forward onto the dark rain -washed road outside Hogsmeade
station.
Here stood t he hundred or so horseless stagecoaches that always took
the students above first year up to the castle. Harry glanced quickly at
them, turned away to keep a lookout for Ron and Hermione, then did a
double take.
The coaches were no longer horseless. Ther e were creatures stand - ing
between the carriage shafts; if he had had to give them a name, he
supposed he would have called them horses, though there was some -
thing reptilian about them, too. They were completely fleshless, their
 196 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

black coats clinging to their skeletons, of which every bone was visi - ble.
Their heads were dragonish, and their pupil -less eyes white and staring.
Wings sprouted from each wither — vast, black leathery wing s that
looked as though they ought to belong to giant bats. Standing still and
quiet in the gloom, the creatures looked eerie and sinister. Harry could
not understand why the coaches were being pulled by these horrible
horses when they were quite capable o f moving along by themselves.
“Where ’s Pig? ” said Ron ’s voice, right behind Harry. “That Luna girl
was carrying him, ” said Harry, turning quickly, ea - ger to consult Ron
about Hagrid. “Where d ’you reckon — ”
“— Hagrid is? I dunno, ” said Ron, sounding worried. “He ’d better be
okay. . . . ”
A short distance away, Draco Malfoy, followed by a small gang of
cronies including Crabbe, Goyle, and Pansy Parkinson, was pushing
some timid -looking second years out of the way so that they coul d get a
coach to themselves. Seconds later Hermione emerged panting from the
crowd.
“Malfoy was being absolutely foul to a first year back there, I swear I ’m
going to report him, he ’s only had his badge three minutes and he ’s using
it to bully people wors e than ever. . . . Where ’s Crookshanks? ” “Ginny ’s
got him, ” said Harry. “There she is. . . . ”
Ginny had just emerged from the crowd, clutching a squirming
Crookshanks.
“Thanks, ” said Hermione, relieving Ginny of the cat. “Come on, let ’s get
a carriage to gether before they all fill up. . . . ”
“I haven ’t got Pig yet! ” Ron said, but Hermione was already head - ing
off toward the nearest unoccupied coach. Harry remained behind with
Ron.
“What are those things, d ’you reckon? ” he asked Ron, nodding at
the horrible horses as the other students surged past them.
“What things? ”
 197 ‘

CHAPTER TEN

“Those horse — ”
Luna appeared holding Pigwidgeon ’s cage in her arms; the tiny owl was
twittering excitedly as usual.
“Here you are, ” she said. “He ’s a sweet little owl, isn ’t he? ” “Er . . .
yeah . . . He ’s all right, ” said Ron gruffly. “Well, come on then, let ’s get
in. . . . what were you saying, Harry? ”
“I was saying, what are those horse things? ” Harry said, as he, Ron, and
Luna made for the carriage in which Hermione and Ginny were already
sitting.
“What horse things? ”
“The horse things pulling the carriages! ” said Harry impatiently; they
were, after all, about three feet from the nearest one; it was watching
th em with empty white eyes. Ron, however, gave Harry a perplexed
look.
“What are you talking about? ”
“I’m talking about — look! ”
Harry grabbed Ron ’s arm and wheeled him about so that he was
face -to -face with the winged horse. Ron stared straight at it f or a sec -
ond, then looked back at Harry.
“What am I supposed to be looking at? ”
“At the — there, between the shafts! Harnessed to the coach! It ’s right
there in front — ”
But as Ron continued to look bemused, a strange thought occurred to
Harry.
“Can ’t . . . can ’t you see them? ”
“See what ?”
“Can ’t you see what ’s pulling the carriages? ”
Ron looked seriously alarmed now.
“Are you feeling all right, Harry? ”
“I . . . yeah . . . ”
Harry felt utterly bewildered. The horse was there in front of h im,
gleaming solidly in the dim light issuing from the station windows
 198 ‘

LUNA LOVEGOOD

behind them, vapor rising from its nostrils in the chilly night air. Yet
unless Ron was faking — and it was a very feeble joke if he was — Ron
could not see it at all.
“Shall we get in, then? ” said Ron uncertainly, looking at Harry as though
worried about him.
“Yeah, ” said Harry. “Yeah, go on . . . ”
“It’s all right, ” said a dreamy voice from beside Harry as Ron van - ished
into the coach ’s dark interior. “You ’re not going mad or anything. I can
see them too. ”
“Can you? ” said Harry desperately, turning to Luna. He could see the
bat -winged horses reflected in her wide, silvery eyes.
“Oh yes, ” said Luna, “I’ve been able to see them ever since my first day
here. They ’ve always pulled the carriages. Don ’t worry. You ’re just as
sane as I am. ”
Smiling faintly, she climbed into the musty interior of the carriage after
Ron. N ot altogether reassured, Harry followed her.


















 199 ‘

C H A P T E R E L E V E
N










THE SORTING
HAT ’ S NEW SONG



arry did not want to tell the others that he and Luna were
H
having the same hallucination, if that was what it was, so he
said nothing about the horses as he sat down inside the carriage and
slammed the door behind him. Nevertheless, he could not help watching
the silhouettes of the horses moving beyond the window. “Did everyone
see that Grubbly -Plank woman? ” asked Ginny. “What ’s she doing back
here? Hagrid can ’t have left, can he? ”
“I’ll be qu ite glad if he has, ” said Luna. “He isn ’t a very good teacher, is
he? ”
“Yes, he is! ” said Harry, Ron, and Ginny angrily. Harry glared at
Hermione; she cleared her throat and quickly said, “Erm . . . yes . . . he ’s
very good. ”
“Well, we think he ’s a bit of a joke in Ravenclaw, ” said Luna, unfazed.

“You ’ve got a rubbish sense of humor then, ” Ron snapped, as the
wheels below them creaked into motion.
Luna did not seem perturbed by Ron ’s rudeness; on the contrary,
 200 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
she simply watched him for a while as though he were a mildly inter -
esting television program.
Rattling and swaying, the carriages moved in convoy up the road. When
they passed between the tall stone pillars topped with winged boars on
either side of the gates to the school grounds, Harry leaned forward to
try and see whether there were any lights on in Hagrid ’s cabin by the
Forbidden Forest, but the grounds were in complete darkness.
Hogwarts Castle, however, loomed ever closer: a towering mass of
turrets, jet -black against the dark sky, here and there a window blazing
fiery bright above them.
The carriages jingled to a halt near the stone steps leading up to the oak
front doors and Harry got out of the carriage first. He turned again to
look for lit windows down by the forest, but there was defi - nitely no
sign of life within Hagrid ’s cabin. Unwillingly, because he had half hoped
they would have vanished, he t urned his eyes instead upon the strange,
skeletal creatures standing quietly in the chill night air, their blank white
eyes gleaming.
Harry had once before had the experience of seeing something that Ron
could not, but that had been a reflection in a mi rror, something much
more insubstantial than a hundred very solid -looking beasts strong
enough to pull a fleet of carriages. If Luna was to be believed, the beasts
had always been there but invisible; why, then, could Harry suddenly see
them, and why could Ron not?
“Are you coming or what? ” said Ron beside him. “Oh . . . yeah, ” said
Harry quickly, and they joined the crowd hur - rying up the stone steps
into the castle.
The entrance hall was ablaze with torches and echoing with foot - steps
as the student s crossed the flagged stone floor for the double doors to
the right, leading to the Great Hall and the start -of -term feast.
The four long House tables in the Great Hall were filling up under
 201 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

the starless black ceiling, which was just like the sky they could glimpse
through the high windows. Candles floated in midair all along the tables,
illuminating the silvery ghosts who were dotted about the Hall and the
faces of the students talking eager ly to one an - other, exchanging
summer news, shouting greetings at friends from other Houses, eyeing
one another ’s new haircuts and robes. Again Harry noticed people
putting their heads together to whisper as he passed; he gritted his teeth
and tried to ac t as though he neither no - ticed nor cared.
Luna drifted away from them at the Ravenclaw table. The moment they
reached Gryffindor ’s, Ginny was hailed by some fellow fourth years and
left to sit with them; Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville found seats
tog ether about halfway down the table between Nearly Headless Nick,
the Gryffindor House ghost, and Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown, the
last two of whom gave Harry airy, overly friendly greetings that made
him quite sure they had stopped talking about him a split second before.
He had more important things to worry about, however: He was looking
over the students ’ heads to the staff table that ran along the top wall of
the Hall.
“He ’s not there. ”
Ron and Hermione scanned the staff table too, though there was no real
need; Hagrid ’s size made him instantly obvious in any lineup. “He can ’t
have left, ” said Ron, sounding slightly anxious.
“Of course he hasn ’t,” said Harry firmly.
“You don ’t think h e’s . . . hurt, or anything, do you? ” said Hermione
uneasily.
“No, ” said Harry at once.
“But where is he, then? ”
There was a pause, then Harry said very quietly, so that Neville, Parvati,
and Lavender could not hear, “Maybe he ’s not back yet. You know —
from his mission — the thing he was doing over the sum - mer for
Dumbledore. ”
 202 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
“Yeah . . . yeah, that ’ll be it, ” said Ron, sounding reassured, but
Hermione bit her lip, looking up and down the staff table as though
hoping for some conclusive explanation of Hagrid ’s absence.
“Who ’s that ?” she said sharply, pointing toward the middle of the
staff table.
Harry ’s eyes followed hers. They lit first upon Professor Dumble - dore,
sitting in his high -backed golden chair at the center of the long staff table,
wearing deep -purple robes scattered with silvery stars and a matching
hat. Dumbledore ’s head was inclined toward the woman sitting next to
him, who was talking into his ear. She looked, Harry thought, like
somebody ’s maiden aunt: squat, with short, curly, mouse -brown hair in
which she had placed a horrible pink Alice band that matched the fluffy
pink cardigan she wore over her robes. Then she turned her face slightly
to take a sip from her goblet and he saw, with a shock of recognition, a
pallid, toadlike face and a pair of promi - nent, pouchy eyes.
“It’s that Umbridge woman! ”
“Who? ” said Hermione.
“She was at my hearing, she works for Fudge! ”
“Nice cardigan, ” said Ron, smirking.
“She works for Fudge? ” Hermione repeated, frowning. “What on
earth ’s she doing here, then? ”
“Dunno . . . ”
Hermione scanned the staff table, her eyes narrowed.
“No, ” she muttered, “no, surely not . . . ”
Harry di d not understand what she was talking about but did not ask; his
attention had just been caught by Professor Grubbly -Plank who had just
appeared behind the staff table; she worked her way along to the very
end and took the seat that ought to have been Ha - grid ’s. That meant
that the first years must have crossed the lake and reached the castle, and
sure enough, a few seconds later, the doors from the entrance hall
opened. A long line of scared -looking first years
 203 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

entered, led by Professor McGonagall, who was carrying a stool on
which sat an ancient wizard ’s hat, heavily patched and darned with a
wide rip near the frayed brim.
The buzz of talk in the Great Hall faded away. The first years lin ed up in
front of the staff table facing the rest of the students, and Pro - fessor
McGonagall placed the stool carefully in front of them, then stood back.
The first years ’ faces glowed palely in the candlelight. A small boy right
in the middle of the row looked as though he was trembling. Harry
recalled, fleetingly, how terrified he had felt when he had stood there,
waiting for the unknown test that would determine to which House he
belonged.
The whole school waited with bated breath. Then the rip near t he hat ’s
brim opened wide like a mouth and the Sorting Hat burst into song:

In times of old when I was new
And Hogwarts barely started
The founders of our noble school
Thought never to be parted:
United by a common goal,
They had the selfsame yearning,
To make the world ’s best magic school And
pass along their learning.
“Together we will build and teach! ”
The four good friends decided
And never did they dream that they
Might someday be divided,
For were there such friends anywhere
As Slytherin and Gryffndor?
Unless it was the second pair
Of Huffepuff and Ravenclaw?
 204 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
So how could it have gone so wrong?
How could such friendships fail?
Why, I was there and so can tell
The whole sad, sorry tale.
Said Slytherin, “We ’ll teach just those
Whose ancestry is purest. ”
Said Ravenclaw, “We ’ll teach those whose
Intelligence is surest. ”
Said Gryffindor, “We ’ll teach all those
With brave deeds to their name, ”
Said Hufflepujf, “I’ll teach the lot,
And treat them just the same. ”
These differences caused little strife
When first they came to light,
For each of the four founders had
A House in which they might
Take only those they wanted, so,
For instance, Slytherin
Took only pure -blood wizards
Of great cunning, just like him,
And only those of sharpest mind
Were taught by Ravenclaw
While the bravest and the boldest
Went to daring Gryffindor.
Good Hufflepujf she took the rest,
And taught them all she knew,
Thus the Houses and their founders
Retained friendships firm and true.
So Hogwarts worked in harmony
For several happy years,
But then discord crept among us
Feeding on our faults and fears.
 205 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

The Houses that, like pillars four,
Had once held up our school,
Now turned upon each other and,
Divided, sought to rule.
And for a while it seemed the school
Must meet an early end,
What with dueling and with fighting
And the clash of friend on friend
And at last there came a morning
When old Slytherin departed
And though the fighting then died out He left
us quite downhearted.
And never since the founders four
Were whittled down to three Have
the Houses been united
As they once were meant to be.
And now the Sorting Hat is here
And you all know the score:
I sort you into Houses
Because that is what I ’m for, But
this year I ’ll go further,
Listen closely to my song:
Though condemned I am to split you
Still I worry that it ’s wrong,
Though I must fulfill my duty
And must quarter every year
Still I wonder whether sorting May
not bring the end I fear.
Oh, know the perils, read the signs,
The warning history shows,
For our Hogwarts is in danger
From external, deadly foes
 206 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
And we must unite inside her
Or we ’ll crumble from within.
I have told you, I have warned you. . . .
Let the Sorting now begin.

The hat became motionless once more; applause broke out, though it
was punctured, for the first time in Harry ’s memory, with mutter - ing
and whispers. All across the Great Hall students were exchanging
remarks with their neighbors and Harry, clapping along with every - one
else, knew exactly what they were talking about .
“Branched out a bit this year, hasn ’t it? ” said Ron, his eyebrows raised.
“Too right it has, ” said Harry.
The Sorting Hat usually confined itself to describing the different
qualities looked for by each of the four Hogwarts Houses and its own
role in sorting them; Harry could not remember it ever trying to give the
school advice before.
“I wonder if it ’s ever given warnings before? ” said Hermione, sounding
slightly anxious.
“Yes, indeed, ” said Nearly Headless Nick knowledgeably, leaning acros s
Neville toward her (Neville winced, it was very uncomfortable to have a
ghost lean through you). “The hat feels itself honor -bound to give the
school due warning whenever it feels — ”
But Professor McGonagall, who was waiting to read out the list of firs t
years ’ names, was giving the whispering students the sort of look that
scorches. Nearly Headless Nick placed a see -through finger to his lips
and sat primly upright again as the muttering came to an abrupt end.
With a last frowning look that swept the fo ur House tables, Pro - fessor
McGonagall lowered her eyes to her long piece of parchment and called
out,
“Abercrombie, Euan. ”
The terrified -looking boy Harry had noticed earlier stumbled
 207 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

forward and put the hat on his head; it was only prevented from falling
right down to his shoulders by his very prominent ears. The hat
considered for a moment, then the rip near the brim opened again
and shouted, “ GRYFFINDOR !”
Harry clapped loudly w ith the rest of Gryffindor House as Euan
Abercrombie staggered to their table and sat down, looking as though he
would like very much to sink through the floor and never be looked at
again.
Slowly the long line of first years thinned; in the pauses between the
names and the Sorting Hat ’s decisions, Harry could hear Ron ’s stomach
rumbling loudly. Finally, “Zeller, Rose ” was sorted into Huf - flepuff,
and Professor McGonagall picked up the hat a nd stool and marched
them away as Professor Dumbledore rose to his feet.
Harry was somehow soothed to see Dumbledore standing before them
all, whatever his recent bitter feelings toward his headmaster. Between
the absence of Hagrid and the presence of t hose dragonish horses, he
had felt that his return to Hogwarts, so long anticipated, was full of
unexpected surprises like jarring notes in a familiar song. But this, at least,
was how it was supposed to be: their headmaster ris - ing to greet them all
befo re the start -of -term feast.
“To our newcomers, ” said Dumbledore in a ringing voice, his arms
stretched wide and a beaming smile on his lips, “welcome! To our old
hands — welcome back! There is a time for speech making, but this is
not it. Tuck in! ”
There was an appreciative laugh and an outbreak of applause as Dum -
bledore sat down neatly and threw his long beard over his shoulder so as
to keep it out of the way of his plate — for food had appeared out of
nowhere, so that the five long tables were groanin g under joints and pies
and dishes of vegetables, bread, sauces, and flagons of pumpkin juice.
“Excellent, ” said Ron, with a kind of groan of longing, and he seized the
nearest plate of chops and began piling them onto his plate, watched
wistfully by Nearl y Headless Nick.
 208 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
“What were you saying before the Sorting? ” Hermione asked the ghost.
“About the hat giving warnings? ”
“Oh yes, ” said Nick, who seemed glad of a reason to turn away from
Ron, who was now eating roast potatoes with almost indecent
enthusiasm. “Yes, I have heard the hat give several warnings before,
always at times when it detects periods of great danger for the school.
And always, of course, its advice is the same: Sta nd together, be strong
from within. ”
“Ow kunnit nofe skusin danger ifzat? ” said Ron. His mouth was so full
Harry thought it was quite an achievement for him to make any noise at
all.
“I beg your pardon? ” said Nearly Headless Nick politely, while
Hermio ne looked revolted. Ron gave an enormous swallow and said,
“How can it know if the school ’s in danger if it ’s a hat? ”
“I have no idea, ” said Nearly Headless Nick. “Of course, it lives in
Dumbledore ’s office, so I daresay it picks things up there. ”
“And i t wants all the Houses to be friends? ” said Harry, looking over at
the Slytherin table, where Draco Malfoy was holding court. “Fat
chance. ”
“Well, now, you shouldn ’t take that attitude, ” said Nick reprovingly.
“Peaceful cooperation, that ’s the key. We g hosts, though we belong to
separate Houses, maintain links of friendship. In spite of the compet -
itiveness between Gryffindor and Slytherin, I would never dream of
seeking an argument with the Bloody Baron. ”
“Only because you ’re terrified of him, ” said R on.
Nearly Headless Nick looked highly affronted.
“Terrified? I hope I, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy -Porpington, have never
been guilty of cowardice in my life! The noble blood that runs in my
veins — ”
“What blood? ” asked Ron. “Surely you haven ’t still got — ?” “It’s a
figure of speech! ” said Nearly Headless Nick, now so annoyed his head
was trembling ominously on his partially severed neck. “I
 209 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

assume I am still allowed to enjoy the use of whichever wor ds I like,
even if the pleasures of eating and drinking are denied me! But I am quite
used to students poking fun at my death, I assure you! ”
“Nick, he wasn ’t really laughing at you! ” said Hermione, throwing a
furious look at Ron.
Unfortunately, Ron ’s mouth was packed to exploding point again and all
he could manage was “node iddum eentup sechew, ” which Nick did not
seem to think constituted an adequate apology. Rising into the air, he
straightened his feathered hat and swept away from them to the oth er
end of the table, coming to rest between the Creevey brothers, Colin and
Dennis.
“Well done, Ron, ” snapped Hermione.
“What? ” said Ron indignantly, having managed, finally, to swallow his
food. “I’m not allowed to ask a simple question? ”
“Oh forget it ,” said Hermione irritably, and the pair of them spent the
rest of the meal in huffy silence.
Harry was too used to their bickering to bother trying to reconcile them;
he felt it was a better use of his time to eat his way steadily through his
steak -and -kidney pie, then a large plateful of his favorite treacle tart.
When all the students had finished eating and the noise level in the hall
was starting to creep upward again, Dumbledore got to his feet once
more. Talking ceased immediately as all turned to face the head - master.
Harry was feeling pleasantly drowsy now. His four -poster bed was
waiting somewhere above, wonderfully warm and soft. . . .
“Well, now that we are all digesting another magnificent feast, I beg a
few moments of your attention for t he usual start -of -term notices, ” said
Dumbledore. “First years ought to know that the forest in the grounds is
out of bounds to students — and a few of our older students ought to
know by now too. ” (Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchanged smirks.)
 210 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
“Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me, for what he tells me is the four
hundred and sixty -second time, to remind you all that magic is not
permitted in corridors between classes, nor are a number o f other things,
all of which can be checked on the extensive list now fastened to Mr.
Filch ’s office door.
“We have had two changes in staffing this year. We are very pleased to
welcome back Professor Grubbly -Plank, who will be taking Care of
Magical Crea tures lessons; we are also delighted to introduce Profes - sor
Umbridge, our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. ” There was
a round of polite but fairly unenthusiastic applause dur - ing which Harry,
Ron, and Hermione exchanged slightly panicked looks ; Dumbledore
had not said for how long Grubbly -Plank would be teaching.
Dumbledore continued, “Tryouts for the House Quidditch teams will
take place on the — ”
He broke off, looking inquiringly at Professor Umbridge. As she was not
much taller standin g than sitting, there was a moment when nobody
understood why Dumbledore had stopped talking, but then
Professor Umbridge said, “ Hem, hem, ” and it became clear that she
had got to her feet and was intending to make a speech.
Dumbledore only looked taken aback for a moment, then he sat back
down smartly and looked alertly at Professor Umbridge as though he
desired nothing better than to listen to her talk. Other members of staff
were not as adept at hiding their surprise. Profe ssor Sprout ’s eyebrows
had disappeared into her flyaway hair, and Profes - sor McGonagall ’s
mouth was as thin as Harry had ever seen it. No new teacher had ever
interrupted Dumbledore before. Many of the students were smirking;
this woman obviously did not know how things were done at Hogwarts.
“Thank you, Headmaster, ” Professor Umbridge simpered, “for those
kind words of welcome. ”
 211 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Her voice was high -pitched, breathy, and little -girlish and again, Harry
felt a powerful rush of dislike that he could not explain to him - self; all
he knew was that he loathed everything about her, from her stupid voice
to her fluffy pink cardigan. She gave another little throat -
clearing cough ( “Hem, hem ”) and contin ued: “Well, it is lovely to be
back at Hogwarts, I must say! ” She smiled, revealing very pointed teeth.
“And to see such happy little faces looking back at me! ”
Harry glanced around. None of the faces he could see looked happy; on
the contrary, they all looked rather taken aback at being addressed as
though they were five years old.
“I am very much looking forward to getting to know you all, and I ’m
sure we ’ll be very good friends! ”
Students exchanged looks at this; some of them were barely con -
ceali ng grins.
“I’ll be her friend as long as I don ’t have to borrow that cardigan, ”
Parvati whispered to Lavender, and both of them lapsed into silent
giggles.
Professor Umbridge cleared her throat again ( “ Hem, hem ”), but
when she continued, some of the breathiness had vanished from her
voice. She sounded much more businesslike and now her words had a
dull learned -by -heart sound to them.
“The Ministry of Magic has always considered the education of young
witches and wiza rds to be of vital importance. The rare gifts with which
you were born may come to nothing if not nurtured and honed by
careful instruction. The ancient skills unique to the Wiz - arding
community must be passed down through the generations lest we lose
the m forever. The treasure trove of magical knowledge amassed by our
ancestors must be guarded, replenished, and polished by those who have
been called to the noble profession of teaching. ” Professor Umbridge
paused here and made a little bow to her fellow s taff members, none of
whom bowed back. Professor McGona - gall ’s dark eyebrows had
contracted so that she looked positively
 212 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
hawklike, and Harry distinctly saw her exchange a significant glance
with Professor Sprout as Umbridge gave another little “ Hem,
hem ” and
went on with her speech.
“Every headmaster and headmistress of Hogwarts has brought
something new to the weighty task of governing this historic school, and
that is as it should be, for without progress there will be stagnation and
decay. There again, progress for progress ’s sake must be discour - aged,
for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering. A balance,
then, between old and new, bet ween permanence and change, between
tradition and innovation . . . ”
Harry found his attentiveness ebbing, as though his brain was slip - ping
in and out of tune. The quiet that always filled the Hall when
Dumbledore was speaking was breaking up as students put their heads
together, whispering and giggling. Over at the Ravenclaw table, Cho
Chang was chatting animatedly with her friends. A few seats along
from Cho, Luna Lovegood had got out The Quibbler again. Mean -
while at the Hufflepuff table, Ernie Macmillan was one of the few still
staring at Professor Umbridge, but he was glassy -eyed and Harry was
sure he was only pretending to listen in an attempt to live up to the new
prefect ’s badge gleaming on h is chest.
Professor Umbridge did not seem to notice the restlessness of her
audience. Harry had the impression that a full -scale riot could have
broken out under her nose and she would have plowed on with her
speech. The teachers, however, were still list ening very attentively, and
Hermione seemed to be drinking in every word Umbridge spoke,
though judging by her expression, they were not at all to her taste.
“. . . because some changes will be for the better, while others will come,
in the fulln ess of time, to be recognized as errors of judgment.
Meanwhile, some old habits will be retained, and rightly so, whereas
others, outmoded and outworn, must be abandoned. Let us move
forward, then, into a new era of openness, effectiveness, and account -
ab ility, intent on preserving what ought to be preserved, perfecting

 213 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

what needs to be perfected, and pruning wherever we find practices that
ought to be prohibited. ”
She sat down. Dumbledore clapped . The staff followed his lead, though
Harry noticed that several of them brought their hands to - gether only
once or twice before stopping. A few students joined in, but most had
been taken unawares by the end of the speech, not hav - ing listened to
more t han a few words of it, and before they could start applauding
properly, Dumbledore had stood up again.
“Thank you very much, Professor Umbridge, that was most illumi -
nating, ” he said, bowing to her. “Now — as I was saying, Quidditch
tryouts will be held . . . ”
“Yes, it certainly was illuminating, ” said Hermione in a low voice.
“You ’re not telling me you enjoyed it? ” Ron said quietly, turning a glazed
face upon Hermione. “That was about the dullest speech I ’ve ever heard,
and I grew u p with Percy. ”
“I said illuminating, not enjoyable, ” said Hermione. “It explained a lot. ”
“Did it? ” said Harry in surprise. “Sounded like a load of waffle to me. ”
“There was some important stuff hidden in the waffle, ” said Her - mione
grimly.
“Was th ere? ” said Ron blankly.
“How about ‘progress for progress ’s sake must be discouraged ’? How
about ‘pruning wherever we find practices that ought to be prohibited ’?”
“Well, what does that mean? ” said Ron impatiently.
“I’ll tell you what it means, ” said H ermione ominously. “It means the
Ministry ’s interfering at Hogwarts. ”
There was a great clattering and banging all around them; Dumb - ledore
had obviously just dismissed the school, because everyone was standing
up ready to leave the Hall. Hermione jumped up, looking flustered.
“Ron, we ’re supposed to show the first years where to go! ”
 214 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
“Oh yeah, ” said Ron, who had obviously forgotten. “Hey — hey you lot!
Midgets! ”
“ Ron !”
“Well, they are, they ’re titchy. . . . ”
“I know, but you can ’t call them midgets. . . . First years! ” Hermione
called commandingly along the table. “This way, please! ”
A group of new students walked shyly up the gap between the
Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables, all of them trying hard not to lead the
group. They did indeed seem very small; Harry was sure he had not
appeared that young when he had arrived here. He grinned at them. A
blond boy next to Euan Abercrombie looked petrified, nudged Euan,
and whispered something in his ear. Euan Abercrombie looked equally
frightened and stole a horrified look at Harry, who felt the grin slide off
his face like Stinksap.
“See you later, ” he said to Ron and Hermione and he made his way out
of the Great Hall alone, doing everything he could to ignore more
whispering, staring, and pointing as he passed. He kept his eyes fixed
ahead as he wove his way through the crowd in the entrance hall, then he
hurried up the marble staircase, took a couple of concealed short - cuts,
and had soon left most of the crowds behind.
He had been stupid not to expect this, he thought angrily, as he walked
through much emptier upstairs corridors. Of course everyone was
staring at him: He had emerged from the Triwizard maze two months
ago clutching the dead body of a fellow student and claiming to have
seen Lord Voldemort return to power. There had not been time last
term to explain himself before everyone w ent home, even if he had felt
up to giving the whole school a detailed account of the ter - rible events
in that graveyard.
He had reached the end of the corridor to the Gryffindor common
room and had come to a halt in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady
before he realized that he did not know the new password.
 215 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

“Er . . . ” he said glumly, staring up at the Fat Lady, who smoothed the
folds of her pink satin dress and looked sternly back at him. “No
password, no entrance, ” she said loftily.
“Harry, I know it! ” someone panted from behind him, and he turned to
see Neville jogging toward him. “Guess what it is? I ’m actu - ally going to
be able to remember it for once — ” He waved the
stunted little cactus he had shown them on the train. “ Mimbulus
mimbletonia !”
“Correct, ” said the Fat Lady, and her portrait swung open toward them
like a door, revealing a circular hole in the wall behind, through which
Harry and Neville now climbed.
The Gryffindor common room looked as welcoming as ever, a cozy
circular tower room full of dilapidated squashy armchairs and rickety old
tables. A fire was crackling merrily in the grate and a few people were
warming their hands before going up to their do rmitories; on the other
side of the room Fred and George Weasley were pinning some - thing up
on the notice board. Harry waved good night to them and headed
straight for the door to the boys ’ dormitories; he was not in much of a
mood for talking at the mome nt. Neville followed him. Dean Thomas
and Seamus Finnigan had reached the dormitory first and were in the
process of covering the walls beside their beds with posters and
photographs. They had been talking as Harry pushed open the door but
stopped abruptly the moment they saw him. Harry wondered whether
they had been talking about him, then whether he was being paranoid.
“Hi, ” he said, moving across to his own trunk and opening it. “Hey,
Harry, ” said Dean, who was putting on a pair of pajamas in the West
Ham colors. “Good holiday? ”
“Not bad, ” muttered Harry, as a true account of his holiday would have
taken most of the night to relate and he could not face it. “You? ” “Yeah,
it was okay, ” chuckled Dean. “Better than Seamus ’s anyway, he was just
telling me .”
 216 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
“Why, what happened, Seamus? ” Neville asked as he placed his
Mimbulus mimbletonia tenderly on his bedside cabinet.
Seamus did not answer immediately; he was making rather a meal of
ensuring that his poster of the Kenmare Kestrels Quidditch team was
quite straight. Then he said, with his back still turned to Harry, “Me
mam didn ’t want me to come back. ”
“What? ” said Harry, pausing in the act of pulling off his robes.
“She didn ’t want me to come back to Hogwarts. ”
Seamus turned away from his poster and pulled his own pajamas out of
his trunk, still not looking at Harry.
“But — why? ” said Harry, astonished. He knew that Seamus ’s mother
was a witch and could not understand, the refore, why she should have
come over so Dursley -ish.
Seamus did not answer until he had finished buttoning his pajamas.
“Well, ” he said in a measured voice, “I suppose . . . because of you. ”
“What d ’you mean? ” said Harry quickly. His heart was beating rather
fast. He felt vaguely as though something was closing in on him. “Well, ”
said Seamus again, still avoiding Harry ’s eyes, “she . . . er
. . . well, it ’s not just you, it ’s Dumbledore too . . . ”
“She believes the Daily Prophet ?” said Harry. “She t hinks I ’m a liar
and Dumbledore ’s an old fool? ”
Seamus looked up at him. “Yeah, something like that. ” Harry said
nothing. He threw his wand down onto his bedside table, pulled off his
robes, stuffed them angrily into his trunk, and pulled on his pajamas. He
was sick of it; sick of being the person who was stared at and talked
about all the time. If any of them knew, if any of them had the faintest
idea what it felt like to be the one all these things had happened to . . .
Mrs. Finnig an had no idea, the stupid woman, he thought savagely.
He got into bed and made to pull the hangings closed around him,
but before he could do so, Seamus said, “Look . . . what did happen
that night when . . . you know, when . . . with Cedric Diggory and all? ”
 217 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Seamus sounded nervous and eager at the same time. Dean, who had
been bending over his trunk, trying to retrieve a slipper, we nt oddly still
and Harry knew he was listening hard.
“What are you asking me for? ” Harry retorted. “Just read the Daily
Prophet like your mother, why don ’t you? That ’ll tell you all you need
to know. ”
“Don ’t you have a go at my mother, ” snapped Seamus. “I’ll
have a go at anyone who calls me a liar, ” said Harry. “Don ’t
talk to me like that! ”
“I’ll talk to you how I want, ” said Harry, his temper rising so fast he
snatched his wand back from his bedside table. “If you ’ve got a prob -
lem sh aring a dormitory with me, go and ask McGonagall if you can be
moved, stop your mummy worrying — ”
“Leave my mother out of this, Potter! ”
“What ’s going on? ”
Ron had appeared in the doorway. His wide eyes traveled from Harry,
who was kneeling on his bed with his wand pointing at Sea - mus, to
Seamus, who was standing there with his fists raised.
“He ’s having a go at my mother! ” Seamus yelled.
“What? ” said Ron. “Harry wouldn ’t do that — we met your mother, we
liked her . . . . ”
“That ’s before she started believing every word the stinking Daily
Prophet writes about me! ” said Harry at the top of his voice.
“Oh, ” said Ron, comprehension dawning across his freckled face.
“Oh . . . right. ”
“You know what? ” said Se amus heatedly, casting Harry a venomous
look. “He ’s right, I don ’t want to share a dormitory with him any - more,
he ’s a madman. ”
“That ’s out of order, Seamus, ” said Ron, whose ears were starting to
glow red, always a danger sign.
“Out of order, am I? ” shouted Seamus, who in contrast with Ron
 218 ‘

THE SORTING
HAT ’S NEW SONG
was turning paler. “You believe all the rubbish he ’s come out with about
You -Know -Who, do you, you reckon he ’s telling the truth? ” “Yeah, I
do! ” sai d Ron angrily.
“Then you ’re mad too, ” said Seamus in disgust.
“Yeah? Well unfortunately for you, pal, I ’m also a prefect! ” said Ron,
jabbing himself in the chest with a finger. “So unless you want detention,
watch your mouth! ”
Seamus looked for a few seconds as though detention would be a
reasonable price to pay to say what was going through his mind; but with
a noise of contempt he turned on his heel, vaulted into bed, and pulled
the hangings shut with such violence that they w ere ripped from the bed
and fell in a dusty pile to the floor. Ron glared at Sea - mus, then looked
at Dean and Neville.
“Anyone else ’s parents got a problem with Harry? ” he said aggressively.
“My parents are Muggles, mate, ” said Dean, shrugging. “They don ’t
know nothing about no deaths at Hogwarts, because I ’m not stupid
enough to tell them. ”
“You don ’t know my mother, she ’ll weasel anything out of anyone! ”
Seamus snapped at him. “Anyway, your parents don ’t get the Daily
Prophet, they don ’t k now our headmaster ’s been sacked from the Wiz -
engamot and the International Confederation of Wizards because he ’s
losing his marbles — ”
“My gran says that ’s rubbish, ” piped up Neville. “She says it ’s the
Daily Prophet that ’s going downhill, not Dumbledore. She ’s canceled
our subscription. We believe Harry, ” he said simply. He climbed into
bed and pulled the covers up to his chin, looking owlishly over them at
Seamus. “My gran ’s always said You -Know -Who would come back one
day. She says if Dumbledore says he ’s back, he ’s back. ”
Harry felt a rush of gratitude toward Neville. Nobody else said anything.
Seamus got out his wand, repaired the bed hangings, and
 219 ‘

CHAPTER ELEVEN

vanished behind them. Dean got into bed, rolled over, and fell silent.
Neville, who appeared to have nothing more to say either, was gazing
fondly at his moonlit cactus.
Harry lay back on his pillows while Ron bustled around the next bed,
putting his thin gs away. He felt shaken by the argument with Seamus,
whom he had always liked very much. How many more peo - ple were
going to suggest that he was lying or unhinged?
Had Dumbledore suffered like this all summer, as first the Wizen - gamot,
then the Internat ional Confederation of Wizards had thrown him from
their ranks? Was it anger at Harry, perhaps, that had stopped
Dumbledore getting in touch with him for months? The two of them
were in this together, after all; Dumbledore had believed Harry,
announced his version of events to the whole school and then to the
wider Wizarding community. Anyone who thought Harry was a liar had
to think that Dumbledore was too or else that Dumbledore had been
hoodwinked. . . .
They ’ll know we ’re right in the end, thought Har ry miserably, as Ron
got into bed and extinguished the last candle in the dormitory. But he
wondered how many attacks like Seamus ’s he would have to endure
before that time came.













 220 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E L V
E










PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE




eamus dressed at top speed next morning and left the dormitory
S

before Harry had even put on his socks.

“Does he think he ’ll turn into a nutter if he stays in a room with me too
long? ” asked Harry loudly, as the hem of Seamus ’s robes whipped out of
sight.
“Don ’t worry about it, Harry, ” Dean muttered, hoisting his school - bag
onto his shoulder. “He ’s just . . .” But apparently he was unable to say
exactly what Seamus was, and after a slightly awkward pause fol - lowed
him out of the room.
Neville and Ron both gave Harry it ’s-his -problem -not -yours looks, but
Harry was not much consoled. How much more of this was he going to
have to take?
“What ’s the matter? ” asked Hermione five minutes later, catching up
with Harry and Ron halfway across the common room as they all
headed toward breakfast. “You look absolutely — oh for heaven ’s
sake. ”
She was staring at the common room notice board, where a large new
sign had been put up.
 221 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE
G ALLONS OF G ALLEONS !
Pocket money failing to keep pace with your outgoings?
Like to earn a little extra gold?
Contact Fred and George Weasley,
Gryffindor common room,
for simple, part -time, virtually painless jobs
( WE REGRET THAT ALL WORK IS UNDERTAKEN AT APPLICANT ’S OWN RISK )
“They are the limit, ” said Hermione grimly, taking down the sign, which
Fred and George had pinned up over a poster giving the date of the first
Hogsmeade weekend in October. “We ’ll have to talk to them, Ron. ”
Ron looked positively alarmed.
“Why? ”
“Because we ’re prefects! ” said Hermione, as they climbed out through
the portrait hole. “It’s up to us to stop this kind of thing! ” Ron said
nothing; Harry could tell from his glum expression that the prospect of
stopping Fred and George doing exactly what they liked was not one
that he found inviting.
“Anyway, what ’s up, Harry? ” Hermione continued, as they walked down
a flight of stairs lined with portraits of old witches and wizards, all of
whom ignored them, being engrossed in their own conversation. “You
look really angry abo ut something. ”
“Seamus reckons Harry ’s lying about You -Know -Who, ” said Ron
succinctly, when Harry did not respond.
Hermione, whom Harry had expected to react angrily on his behalf,
sighed.
“Yes, Lavender thinks so too, ” she said gloomily. “Been having a nice
little chat with her about whether or not I ’m a lying, attention -seeking
prat, have you? ” Harry said loudly.
“No, ” said Hermione calmly, “I told her to keep her big fat mouth
 222 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


shut about you, actually. And it would be quite nice if you stopped
jumping down Ron ’s and my throats, Harry, because if you haven ’t
noticed, we ’re on your side. ”
There was a short pause.
“Sorry, ” said Harry in a low voice.
“That ’s quite all right, ” said Hermione with dignity. Then she shook her
head. “Don ’t you remember what Dumbledore said at the end -of -term
feast last year? ”
Harry and Ron both looked at her blankly, and Hermione sighed again.
“About You -Know -Who. He said, ‘ His gift for spreading discord and
enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong
bond of friendship and trust — ’”
“How do you remember stuff like that? ” asked Ron, looking at her in
admiration.
“I listen, Ron, ” said Hermion e with a touch of asperity. “So do I, but I
still couldn ’t tell you exactly what — ” “The point, ” Hermione pressed
on loudly, “is that this sort of thing is exactly what Dumbledore was
talking about. You -Know -Who ’s only been back two months, and we ’ve
start ed fighting among our - selves. And the Sorting Hat ’s warning was
the same — stand together, be united — ”
“And Harry said it last night, ” retorted Ron, “if that means we ’re
supposed to get matey with the Slytherins, fat chance. ”
“Well, I think it ’s a pity we ’re not trying for a bit of inter -House unity, ”
said Hermione crossly.
They had reached the foot of the marble staircase. A line of fourth - year
Ravenclaws was crossing the entrance hall; they caught sight of Harry
and hurried to form a tighter group, as though frightened he might
attack stragglers.
“Yeah, we really ought to be trying to make friends with people like
that, ” said Harry sarcastically.
 223 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

They followed the Ravenclaws into the Great Hall, looking in -
stinctively at the staff table as they entered. Professor Grubbly -Plank
was chatting to Professor Sinistra, the Astronomy teacher, and Hagrid
was once again conspicuous only by his absence. The enchanted ceil - ing
above them echoed Harry ’s mood; it was a miserable rain -cloud gray.
“Dumbledore didn ’t even mention how long that Grubbly -Plank
woman ’s staying, ” he said, as they made their way across to the
Gryffindor table.
“Maybe . . . ” said Her mione thoughtfully.
“What? ” said both Harry and Ron together.
“Well . . . maybe he didn ’t want to draw attention to Hagrid not being
here. ”
“What d ’you mean, draw attention to it? ” said Ron, half laughing. “How
could we not notice? ”
Before Hermione could answer, a tall black girl with long, braided hair
had marched up to Harry.
“Hi, Angelina. ”
“Hi, ” she said briskly, “good summer? ” And without waiting for an
answer, “Listen, I ’ve been made Gryffindor Quidditch Captain. ” “Nice
one, ” said Harry, grinning at her; he suspected Angelina ’s pep talks
might not be as long -winded as Oliver Wood ’s had been, which could
only be an improvement.
“Yeah, well, we need a new Keeper now Oliver ’s left. Tryouts are on
Friday at five o ’clock and I want the whole team there, all right? Then we
can see how the new person ’ll fit in. ”
“Okay, ” said Harry, and she smiled at him and departed. “I’d forgotten
Wood had left, ” said Hermione vaguely, sitting down beside Ron and
pulling a plate of toast toward her. “I suppose that will make quite a
difference to the team? ”
“I s ’pose, ” said Harry, taking the bench opposite. “He was a good
Keeper. . . . ”
 224 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


“Still, it won ’t hurt to have some new blood, will it? ” said Ron.
With a whoosh and a clatter, hundreds of owls came soaring in
through the upper windows. They descended all over the Hall, bring - ing
letters and packages to their owners and showering the breakfasters with
droplets of water; it was clearly raining hard outside. Hedwig was
nowhere to be seen, but Harry was hardly surprised; his only corre -
spondent was Sirius, and he doubted Sirius would have anything new to
tell him after only twenty -four hours apart. Hermione, however, had to
move her orange juice aside quickly to make way for a large
damp barn owl bearing a sodden Daily Prophet in its beak.
“What are you still getting that f or? ” said Harry irritably, thinking of
Seamus, as Hermione placed a Knut in the leather pouch on the owl ’s leg
and it took off again. “I’m not bothering . . . load of rubbish. ”
“It’s best to know what the enemy are saying, ” said Hermione darkly,
and she unfurled the newspaper and disappeared behind it, not emerging
until Harry and Ron had finished eating.
“Nothing, ” she said simply, rolling up the newspaper and laying it down
by her plate. “Nothing about you or Dumbledore or anything. ”
Professor McGona gall was now moving along the table handing out
schedules.
“Look at today! ” groaned Ron. “History of Magic, double Potions,
Divination, and double Defense Against the Dark Arts . . . Binns, Snape,
Trelawney, and that Umbridge woman all in one day! I wish Fred and
George ’d hurry up and get those Skiving Snackboxes sorted. . . . ” “Do
mine ears deceive me? ” said Fred, arriving with George and squeezing
onto the bench beside Harry. “Hogwarts pre fects surely don ’t wish to
skive off lessons? ”
“Look what we ’ve got today, ” said Ron grumpily, shoving his schedule
under Fred ’s nose. “That ’s the worst Monday I ’ve ever seen. ” “Fair
point, little bro, ” said Fred, scanning the column. “You can have a bit of
Nosebleed Nougat cheap if you like. ”

 225 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

“Why ’s it cheap? ” said Ron suspiciously.
“Because you ’ll keep bleeding till you shrivel up, we haven ’t got an
antidote yet, ” said George, helping h imself to a kipper.
“Cheers, ” said Ron moodily, pocketing his schedule, “but I think I ’ll
take the lessons. ”
“And speaking of your Skiving Snackboxes, ” said Hermione, eyeing
Fred and George beadily, “you can ’t advertise for testers on the
Gryffindor notice board. ”
“Says who? ” said George, looking astonished.
“Says me, ” said Hermione. “And Ron. ”
“Leave me out of it, ” said Ron hastily.
Hermione glared at him. Fred and George sniggered. “You ’ll be singing
a different tune soon enough, Hermione, ” said Fred, thickly buttering a
crumpet. “You ’re starting your fifth year, you ’ll be begging us for a
Snackbox before long. ”
“And why would starting fifth year mean I want a Skiving Snack - box? ”
asked Hermione.
“Fifth year ’s O.W.L. year, ” said George.
“So? ”
“So you ’ve got your exams coming up, haven ’t you? They ’ll be keep - ing
your noses so hard to that grindstone they ’ll be rubbed raw, ” said Fred
with satisfaction.
“Half our year had minor breakdowns coming up to O.W.L.s, ” said
Georg e happily. “Tears and tantrums . . . Patricia Stimpson kept com -
ing over faint. . . . ”
“Kenneth Towler came out in boils, d ’you remember? ” said Fred
reminiscently.
“That ’s ’cause you put Bulbadox Powder in his pajamas, ” said George.
“Oh yeah, ” said Fred, grinning. “I’d forgotten. . . . Hard to keep track
sometimes, isn ’t it? ”
“Anyway, it ’s a nightmare of a year, the fifth, ” said George. “If you
 226 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


care about exam results anyway. Fred and I managed to keep our spir -
its up somehow. ”
“Yeah . . . you got, what was it, three O.W.L.s each? ” said Ron. “Yep, ”
said Fred unconcernedly. “But we feel our futures lie outside the world
of academic achievement .”
“We seriously debated whether we were going to bother coming back
for our seventh year, ” said George brightly, “now that we ’ve got — ”
He broke off at a warning look from Harry, who knew George had been
about to mention the Triwizard winnings he had given them. “— now
that we ’ve got our O.W.L.s, ” George said hastily. “I mean, do we really
need N.E.W.T.s? But we didn ’t think Mum could take us leaving school
early, not on top of Percy turning out to be the world ’s biggest prat. ”
“We ’re not going to waste our last year here, though, ” said Fred, looking
affectionately around at the Great Hall. “We ’re going to use it to do a bit
of market research, find out exactly what the average Hog - warts student
requires from his joke shop, carefull y evaluate the results of our research,
and then produce the products to fit the demand. ” “But where are you
going to get the gold to start a joke shop? ” asked Hermione skeptically.
“You ’re going to need all the ingredients and materials — and premises
too , I suppose. . . . ”
Harry did not look at the twins. His face felt hot; he deliberately dropped
his fork and dived down to retrieve it. He heard Fred say overhead, “Ask
us no questions and we ’ll tell you no lies, Hermione. C ’mon, George, if
we get there e arly we might be able to sell a few Ex - tendable Ears before
Herbology. ”
Harry emerged from under the table to see Fred and George walk - ing
away, each carrying a stack of toast.
“What did that mean? ” said Hermione, looking from Harry to Ron.
“‘Ask u s no questions . . . ’ Does that mean they ’ve already got some gold
to start a joke shop? ”

 227 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

“You know, I ’ve been wondering about that, ” said Ron, his brow
furrowed. “They bought me a new set of dress robes this summer, and I
couldn ’t understand where they got the Galleons. . . . ”
Harry decided it was time to steer the conversation out of these
dangerous waters.
“D ’you reckon it ’s true this year ’s going to be really t ough? Because of
the exams? ”
“Oh yeah, ” said Ron. “Bound to be, isn ’t it? O.W.L.s are really
important, affect the jobs you can apply for and everything. We get
career advice too, later this year, Bill told me. So you can choose what
N.E.W.T.s you want to do next year. ”
“D ’you know what you want to do after Hogwarts? ” Harry asked the
other two, as they left the Great Hall shortly afterward and set off
toward their History of Magic classroom.
“Not really, ” said Ron slowly. “Except . . . well . . . ” He
loo ked slightly sheepish.
“What? ” Harry urged him.
“Well, it ’d be cool to be an Auror, ” said Ron in an offhand voice.
“Yeah, it would, ” said Harry fervently.
“But they ’re, like, the elite, ” said Ron. “You ’ve got to be really good.
What about you, Hermione? ”
“I don ’t know, ” said Hermione. “I think I ’d really like to do some - thing
worthwhile. ”
“An Auror ’s worthwhile! ” said Harry.
“Yes, it is, but it ’s not the only worthwhile thing, ” said Hermione
thoughtfully. “I mean, if I could take S.P.E.W. further . . . ”
Harry and Ron carefully avoided looking at each other. History of Magic
was by common consent the most boring subject ever devised by
Wizard -kind. Professor Binns, their ghost teacher, had a wheezy,
droning voice that was almost guaranteed to cause severe drowsiness
within ten minutes, five in warm weather. He never varied the form of
their lessons, but lectured them without pausing while
 228 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


they took notes, or rather, gazed sleepily into space. Harry and Ron had
so far managed to scrape passes in this subject only by copying
Hermione ’s notes before exams; she alone seemed able to resist the so -
porific power of Binns ’s voice.
Today they suffered through three quarters of an hour ’s droning on the
subject of giant wars. Harry heard just enough within the first ten
minutes to appreciate dimly that in another teacher ’s hands this subject
might have been mildly interesting, but then his brain disengaged, and he
spent the remaining thirty -five minutes playing hangman on a corner of
his parchment with Ron, while Hermione shot them filthy looks out of
the corner of her eye.
“How would it be, ” she asked them coldly as they left the classroom for
break (Binns drifting away through the blackboard), “if I refused to lend
you my notes this year? ”
“We ’d fail our O.W.L.s, ” said Ron. “If you want that on your con -
science, Hermione . . . ”
“Well, you ’d deserve it, ” she snapped. “You don ’t even try to listen to
him, do you? ”
“We do try, ” said Ron. “We just haven ’t got your brains or your memory
or your concentration — you ’re just cleverer than we are — is it nice to
rub it in? ”
“Oh, don ’t give me t hat rubbish, ” said Hermione, but she looked slightly
mollified as she led the way out into the damp courtyard. A fine misty
drizzle was falling, so that the people standing in hud - dles around the
yard looked blurred at the edges. Harry, Ron, and Hermione chose a
secluded corner under a heavily dripping balcony, turning up the collars
of their robes against the chilly September air and talking about what
Snape was likely to set them in the first lesson of the year. They had got
as far as agreeing that it wa s likely to be something extremely difficult,
just to catch them off guard after a two -month holiday, when someone
walked around the corner toward them.

 229 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

“Hello, Harry! ”
It was Cho Chang and what was more, she was on her own again. This
was most unusual: Cho was almost always surrounded by a gang of
giggling girls; Harry remembered the agony of trying to get her by herself
to ask her to the Yule Ball.
“Hi, ” said Harry, fe eling his face grow hot. At least you ’re not covered
in Stinksap this time, he told himself. Cho seemed to be thinking along
the same lines.
“You got that stuff off, then? ”
“Yeah, ” said Harry, trying to grin as though the memory of their last
meeting was funny as opposed to mortifying. “So did you . . . er
. . . have a good summer? ”
The moment he had said this he wished he hadn ’t: Cedric had been
Cho ’s boyfriend and the memory of his death must have affected her
holiday almost as badly as it had affected Harry ’s. . . . Something seemed
to tauten in her face, but she said, “Oh, it was all right, you know. . . . ”
“Is that a Tornados badge? ” Ron demanded suddenly, pointing at the
front of Cho ’s robes, to which a sky -blue badge emblazoned wi th a
double gold T was pinned. “You don ’t support them, do you? ” “Yeah, I
do, ” said Cho.
“Have you always supported them, or just since they started win - ning
the league? ” said Ron, in what Harry considered an unnecessarily
accusatory tone of voice.
“I’ve supported them since I was six, ” said Cho coolly. “Anyway . . . see
you, Harry. ”
She walked away. Hermione waited until Cho was halfway across the
courtyard before rounding on Ron.
“You are so tactless! ”
“What? I only asked her if — ”
“Couldn ’t you tell she wanted to talk to Harry on her own? ”
 230 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


“So? She could ’ve done, I wasn ’t stopping — ”
“What on earth were you attacking her about her Quidditch team for? ”
“Attacking? I wasn ’t attacking her, I was only — ”
“Who cares if she supports the Tornados? ”
“Oh, come on, half the people you see wearing those badges only
bought them last season — ”
“But what does it matter ?”
“It means they ’re not real fans, they ’re just jumping on the bandwagon
— ”
“That ’s the bell, ” said Harry listlessly, because Ron and Hermione were
bickering too loudly to hear it. They did not stop arguing all the way
down to Snape ’s dungeon, which gave Harry plenty of time to re - flect
that between Neville and Ron he would be lucky ever to have two
minutes ’ conversation with Cho that he could look back on without
wanting to leave the country.
And yet, he thought, as they joined the queue lining up outside Snape ’s
classroom door, she had chosen to come and talk to him, hadn ’t she? She
had been Cedric ’s girlfriend; she could easily have hated Harry for
coming out of the Triwizard maze alive when Cedric had died, yet she
was talking to him in a perfectly friendly way, not as though s he thought
him mad, or a liar, or in some horrible way responsible for Cedric ’s
death. . . . Yes, she had definitely chosen to come and talk to him, and
that made the second time in two days . . . and at this thought, Harry ’s
spirits rose. Even the ominous sound of Snape ’s dun - geon door creaking
open did not puncture the small, hopeful bubble that seemed to have
swelled in his chest. He filed into the classroom be - hind Ron and
Hermione and followed them to their usual table at the back, ignoring the
huffy , irritable noises now issuing from both of them. “Settle down, ” said
Snape coldly, shutting the door behind him. There was no real need for
the call to order; the moment the class

 231 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

had heard the door close, quiet had fallen and all fidgeting stopped.
Snape ’s mere presence was usually enough to ensure a class ’s silence.
“Before we begin today ’s lesson, ” said Snape, sweeping over to his desk
and staring around at them all, “I think it appropriate to remind you that
next June you will be sitting an important examination, dur - ing which
you will prove how much you have learned about the composition and
use of magical potions. Moronic though some of this class undoubtedly
are, I expect you to scrape an ‘Acceptable ’ in your O.W.L., or suffer
my . . . displeasure. ”
His gaze lingered this time upon Neville, who gulped. “After this year, of
course, many of you will cease studying with me, ” Snape went on. “I
take only the very best into my N.E.W.T. Potions class, which means
that some of us will certainly be saying good -bye. ”
His eyes rested on Harry and his lip curled. Harry glared back, feel - ing a
grim pleasure at the idea that he would be able to give u p Potions after
fifth year.
“But we have another year to go before that happy moment of farewell, ”
said Snape softly, “so whether you are intending to attempt N.E.W.T. or
not, I advise all of you to concentrate your efforts upon maintaining the
high -pas s level I have come to expect from my O.W.L. students.
“Today we will be mixing a potion that often comes up at Ordinary
Wizarding Level: the Draught of Peace, a potion to calm anxiety and
soothe agitation. Be warned: If you are too heavy -handed with the
ingredients you will put the drinker into a heavy and sometimes irre -
versible sleep, so you will need to pay close attention to what you are
doing. ” On Harry ’s left, Hermione sat up a little straighter, her expres -
sion one of the utmost attentiveness. “The ingredients and method ”
— Snape flicked his wand — “are on the blackboard ” — (they ap -
peared there) — “you will find everything you need ” — he flicked his
 232 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


wand again — “in the store cupboard ” — (the door of the said cup -
board sprang open) — “you have an hour and a half. . . . Start. ”
Just as Harry, Ron, and Hermione had predicted, Snape could hardly
have set them a more difficult, fiddly potion. The ingredients had to be
added to the cauldron in precisely the right order and quan - tities; the
mixture had to be stirred exactly the right number of times, firstly in
clockwise, then in counterclockwise directions; the heat of the flames on
which it was simmering had to be lowered to exactly the right level for a
specific number of minutes before the final ingredient was added.
“A light silver vapor should now be rising from your potion, ” called
Snape, with ten minutes left to go.
Harry, who was sweating profusely, looked desperately around the
dungeon. His own cauldron was issuing copious amounts of dark gray
steam; Ron ’s was spitting green sparks. Seamus was feverishly prod -
ding the flames at the base of his cauldron with the tip of his wand, as
they had gone out. The surface of Hermione ’s potion, however, was a
shimmering mist of silver vapor, and as Snape swept by he looked down
his hooked nose at it without comment, which meant that he could find
nothing to criticize. At Harry ’s cauldron, however, Snape stopped,
looking down at Harry with a horrible smirk on his face. “Potter, what is
this supposed to be? ”
The Slytherins at the front of the class all looked up eagerly; they loved
hearing Snape taunt Harry.
“The Draught of Peac e,” said Harry tensely.
“Tell me, Potter, ” said Snape softly, “can you read? ”
Draco Malfoy laughed.
“Yes, I can, ” said Harry, his fingers clenched tightly around his wand.
“Read the third line of the instructions for me, Potter. ” Harry
squinted at the blackboard; it was not easy to make out the
 233 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

instructions through the haze of multicolored steam now filling the
dungeon.
“‘Add powdered moonstone, stir three times counterclockwise, al - low
to simmer for seven minutes, then add two drops of syrup of
hellebore. ’”
His heart sank. He had not added syrup of hellebore, but had pro -
ceeded straight to the fourth line of the instructions after allowing his
potion to simmer for seven minutes.
“Did you do everything on the third line, Potter? ”
“No, ” said Harry very quietly.
“I beg your pardon? ”
“No, ” said Harry, more loudly. “I forgot the hellebore. . . . ” “I know
you did, Potter, which means that this mess is utterly
worthless. Evanesco. ”
The contents of Harry ’s potion vanished; he was left standing fool - ishly
beside an empty cauldron.
“Those of you who have managed to read the instructions, fill one
flagon with a sample of your potion, label it clearly with your name, and
bring it up to my desk for testing, ” said Snape. “Homework: twelve
inches of parchment on the properties of moonstone and its uses in
potion -making, to be handed in on Thursday. ”
While everyone around him filled their flagons, Harry cleared away his
things, seething. His potion had been no worse than Ron ’s, which was
now giving off a foul odor of bad eggs, or Neville ’s, which had achieved
the consistency of just -mixed cement and which Neville was now having
to gouge out of his cauldron, yet it was he, Harry, who would be
receiving zero marks for the day ’s work. He stuffed his wand back into
his bag and slumped down onto his seat, watching everyone else march
up to Snape ’s desk with filled and corked flagons. When at long last the
bell rang, Harry w as first out of the dungeon and had al - ready started his
lunch by the time Ron and Hermione joined him in
 234 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


the Great Hall. The ceiling had turned an even murkier gray during the
morning. Rain wa s lashing the high windows.
“That was really unfair, ” said Hermione consolingly, sitting down next
to Harry and helping herself to shepherd ’s pie. “Your potion wasn ’t
nearly as bad as Goyle ’s, when he put it in his flagon the whole thing
shattered and set his robes on fire. ”
“Yeah, well, ” said Harry, glowering at his plate, “since when has Snape
ever been fair to me? ”
Neither of the others answered; all three of them knew that Snape and
Harry ’s mutual enmity had been absolute from the moment Harry had
set foot in Hogwarts.
“I did think he might be a bit better this year, ” said Hermione in a
disappointed voice. “I mean . . . you know . . . ” She looked carefully
around; there were half a dozen empty seats on either side of them and
nobody was passing the table. “. . . Now he ’s in the Order and
everything. ”
“Poisonous toadstools don ’t change their spots, ” said Ron sagely.
“Anyway, I ’ve always thought Dumbledore was cracked trusting Snape,
where ’s the evidence he ever really stopp ed working for You -
Know -Who? ”
“I think Dumbledore ’s probably got plenty of evidence, even if he
doesn ’t share it with you, Ron, ” snapped Hermione.
“Oh, shut up, the pair of you, ” said Harry heavily, as Ron opened his
mouth to argue back. Hermione and Ro n both froze, looking an - gry and
offended. “Can ’t you give it a rest? ” he said. “You ’re always having a go
at each other, it ’s driving me mad. ” And abandoning his shepherd ’s pie,
he swung his schoolbag back over his shoulder and left them sitting
there.
He walked up the marble staircase two steps at a time, past the many
students hurrying toward lunch. The anger that had just flared so
unexpectedly still blazed inside him, and the vision of Ron and

 235 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

Hermione ’s shocked faces afforded him a sense of deep satisfaction.
Serve them right, he thought. Why can ’t they give it a rest ? . . . Bickering
all the time . . . It’s enough to drive anyone up the wall . . . .
He passed the large picture of Sir Cadogan the knight on a landing; Sir
Cadogan drew his sword and brandished it fiercely at Harry, who
ignored him.
“Come back, you scurvy dog, stand fast and fight! ” yelled Sir Cado - gan
in a muffled voice from behind h is visor, but Harry merely walked on,
and when Sir Cadogan attempted to follow him by running into a
neighboring picture, he was rebuffed by its inhabitant, a large and
angry -looking wolfhound.
Harry spent the rest of the lunch hour sitting alone undernea th the
trapdoor at the top of North Tower, and consequently he was the first to
ascend the silver ladder that led to Sibyll Trelawney ’s classroom when
the bell rang.
Divination was Harry ’s least favorite class after Potions, which was due
mainly to Professor Trelawney ’s habit of predicting his premature death
every few lessons. A thin woman, heavily draped in shawls and glittering
with strings of beads, she always reminded Harry of some kind of insect,
with her glasses hugely magnifying her eyes. She was busy putting copies
of battered, leather -bound books on each of the spindly little tables with
which her room was littered when Harry en - tered the room, but so dim
was the light cast by the lamps covered by scarves and the low -burning,
sickly -scented fire that she appeared not to notice him as he took a seat
in the shadows. The rest of the class ar - rived over the next five minutes.
Ron emerged from the trapdoor, looked around carefully, spotted Harry
and made directly for him, or as dir ectly as he could while having to
wend his way between tables, chairs, and overstuffed poufs.
“Hermione and me have stopped arguing, ” he said, sitting down beside
Harry.
“Good, ” grunted Harry.
 236 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


“But Hermione says she thinks it would be nice if you stopped tak - ing
out your temper on us, ” said Ron.
“I’m not — ”
“I’m just passing on the message, ” said Ron, talking over him. “But I
reckon she ’s right. It ’s not our fault how Seamus and Snape t reat you. ”
“I never said it — ”
“Good day, ” said Professor Trelawney in her usual misty, dreamy voice,
and Harry broke off, feeling both annoyed and slightly ashamed of
himself again. “And welcome back to Divination. I have, of course, been
following your fortunes most carefully over the holi - days, and am
delighted to see that you have all returned to Hogwarts safely — as, of
course, I knew you would.
“You will find on the tables before you copies of The Dream Oracle,
by Inigo Imago. Dream interpretation is a most important means of di -
vining the future and one that may very probably be tested in your
O.W.L. Not, of course, that I believe examination passes or failures are
of the remotest importance when it comes to the s acred art of div -
ination. If you have the Seeing Eye, certificates and grades matter very
little. However, the headmaster likes you to sit the examination, so . . . ”
Her voice trailed away delicately, leaving them all in no doubt that
Professor Trelawney considered her subject above such sordid matters
as examinations.
“Turn, please, to the introduction and read what Imago has to say on the
matter of dream interpretation. Then divide into pairs. Use
The Dream Oracle to interpret each other ’s most re cent dreams. Carry
on.
The one good thing to be said for this lesson was that it was not a double
period. By the time they had all finished reading the introduc - tion of the
book, they had barely ten minutes left for dream interpre - tation. At the
tabl e next to Harry and Ron, Dean had paired up with Neville, who
immediately embarked on a long -winded explanation of

 237 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

a nightmare involving a pair of giant scissors wearing his grand -
mother ’s best hat; Harry and Ron merely looked at each other glumly. “I
never remember my dreams, ” said Ron. “You say one. ”
“You must remember one of them, ” said Harry impatiently. He was not
going to share his dreams with anyone. He knew per - fectly well what h is
regular nightmare about a graveyard meant, he did
not need Ron or Professor Trelawney or the stupid Dream Oracle to
tell him that. . . .
“Well, I had one that I was playing Quidditch the other night, ” said Ron,
screwing up his face in an effort to remember. “What d ’you reckon that
means? ”
“Probably that you ’re going to be eaten by a giant marshmallow or
something, ” said Harry, turning the pages of The Dream Oracle with -
out interest.
It was very dull work looking up bits of dreams in the Oracle and
Harry was not cheered up when Professor Trelawney set them the task
of keeping a dream diary for a month as homework. When the bell went,
he and Ron led the way back down the ladder, Ron grumbling loudly.
“D ’you realize how much homework we ’ve got already? Binns set us a
foot -and -a-half -long essay on giant wars, Snape wants a foot on the use
of moonstones, and now we ’ve got a month ’s dream diary from
Trelawney! Fred and George weren ’t wrong about O.W.L. year, were
they? That Umbridge woman had better not give us any. . . . ”
When they entered the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom they
found Professor Umbridge already seated at the teacher ’s desk, wearing
the fluffy pink cardigan of the night before and the black vel - vet bow on
top of her head. Harry was again reminded forcibly of a large fly perched
unwisely on top of an even larger toad.
The class was quiet as it entered the room; Professor Umbridge was, as
yet, an unknown q uantity and nobody knew yet how strict a
disciplinarian she was likely to be.
 238 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


“Well, good afternoon! ” she said when finally the whole class had sat
down.
A few people mumbled “Good afternoon, ” in reply.
“Tut, tut, ” said Professor Umbridge. “ That won ’t do, now, will it? I
should like you, please, to reply ‘Good afternoon, Professor Um -
bridge. ’ One more time, please. Good afternoon, class! ”
“Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge, ” they cha nted back at her.
“There, now, ” said Professor Umbridge sweetly. “That wasn ’t too
difficult, was it? Wands away and quills out, please. ”
Many of the class exchanged gloomy looks; the order “wands away ” had
never yet been followed by a lesson they had foun d interesting. Harry
shoved his wand back inside his bag and pulled out quill, ink, and
parchment. Professor Umbridge opened her handbag, extracted her
own wand, which was an unusually short one, and tapped the
blackboard sharply with it; words appeared on the board at once:

Defense Against the Dark Arts
A Return to Basic Principles.

“Well now, your teaching in this subject has been rather disrupted and
fragmented, hasn ’t it? ” stated Professor Umbridge, turning to face the
class with her hands clasped neatly in front of her. “The constant
changing of teachers, many of whom do not seem to have followed any
Ministry -approved curriculum, has unfortunately resulted in your being
far below the standard we would expect to see in your O.W.L. year.
“You will be pleased to know, however, that these problems are now to
be rectified. We will be following a carefully structured, theory - centered,
Ministry -approved course of defensive magic this year. Copy down the
following, plea se. ”
She rapped the blackboard again; the first message vanished and was
replaced by:

 239 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

Course aims:
1. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.
2. Learning to recognize situations in which defensive magic
can legally be used.
3. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for
practical use.

For a couple of minutes the room was full of the sound of scratch - ing
quills on parchment. When everyone had copied down Professor
Umbridge ’s three course aims she said, “Has everybody got a copy of
Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard? ”
There was a dull murmur of assent throughout the class. “I think we ’ll
try that again, ” said Professor Umbridge. “When I ask you a question, I
should like you to reply ‘Yes, Professor Um - bridge, ’ or ‘No, Professor
Umbridge. ’ So, has everyone got a copy of
Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard? ”
“Yes, Professor Umbridge, ” rang t hrough the room. “Good, ” said
Professor Umbridge. “I should like you to turn to page five and read
chapter one, ‘Basics for Beginners. ’ There will be no need to talk. ”
Professor Umbridge left the blackboard and settled herself in the chair
behind the teac her ’s desk, observing them all with those pouchy
toad ’s eyes. Harry turned to page five of his copy of Defensive Magical
Theory and started to read.
It was desperately dull, quite as bad as listening to Professor Binns. He
felt his concentration sli ding away from him; he had soon read the same
line half a dozen times without taking in more than the first few words.
Several silent minutes passed. Next to him, Ron was absent - mindedly
turning his quill over and over in his fingers, staring at the same spot on
the page. Harry looked right and received a surprise to shake him out of
his torpor. Hermione had not even opened her copy
 240 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


of Defensive Magical Theory. She was staring fixedly at Professor Um -
bridge with her hand in the air.
Harry could not remember Hermione ever neglecting to read when
instructed to, or indeed resisting the temptation to open any book that
came under her nose. He looked at her questioningly, but she merely
shook her head slightly to indicate that she was not about to answer
questions, and continued to stare at Professor Umbridge, who was
looking just as resolutely in another direction.
After several more minutes had passed, however, Harry was not the only
one watching Hermione. The chapter they had been instructed to read
was so tedious that more and more people were choosing to watch
Hermione ’s mute attempt to catch Professor Umbridge ’s eye than to
struggle on with “Basics for Beginners. ”
When more than half the class were staring at Hermione rather than at
their books, Professor Umbridge seemed to decide that she could ignore
the situation no longer.
“Did you want to ask something about the chapter, dear? ” she asked
Hermione, as though she had only just noticed her.
“Not about the chapter, no, ” said Hermione.
“Well, we ’re reading just now, ” said Professor Umbridge, showing her
small, po inted teeth. “If you have other queries we can deal with them at
the end of class. ”
“I’ve got a query about your course aims, ” said Hermione.
Professor Umbridge raised her eyebrows.
“And your name is — ?”
“Hermione Granger, ” said Hermione.
“Well, Miss Granger, I think the course aims are perfectly clear if you
read them through carefully, ” said Professor Umbridge in a voice of
determined sweetness.
“Well, I don ’t,” said Hermione bluntly. “There ’s nothing written
up there about using def ensive spells. ”

 241 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

There was a short silence in which many members of the class turned
their heads to frown at the three course aims still written on the
blackboard.
“ Using defensive spells? ” Professor Umbridge repeated with a little
laugh. “Why, I can ’t imagine any situation arising in my classroom
that would require you to use a defensive spell, Miss Granger. You
surely aren ’t expecting to be attacked during class? ”
“We ’re not goin g to use magic? ” Ron ejaculated loudly. “Students raise
their hands when they wish to speak in my class, Mr. — ?”
“Weasley, ” said Ron, thrusting his hand into the air. Professor Umbridge,
smiling still more widely, turned her back on him. Harry and Herm ione
immediately raised their hands too. Pro - fessor Umbridge ’s pouchy eyes
lingered on Harry for a moment before she addressed Hermione.
“Yes, Miss Granger? You wanted to ask something else? ” “Yes, ” said
Hermione. “Surely the whole point of Defense Against the Dark Arts is
to practice defensive spells? ”
“Are you a Ministry -trained educational expert, Miss Granger? ” asked
Professor Umbridge in her falsely sweet voice.
“No, but — ”
“Well then, I ’m afraid you are no t qualified to decide what the ‘whole
point ’ of any class is. Wizards much older and cleverer than you have
devised our new program of study. You will be learning about defensive
spells in a secure, risk -free way — ”
“What use is that? ” said Harry loudly . “If we ’re going to be attacked it
won ’t be in a — ”
“ Hand, Mr. Potter! ” sang Professor Umbridge.
Harry thrust his fist in the air. Professor Umbridge promptly turned
away from him again, but now several other people had their hands up
too.
“And your name is? ” Professor Umbridge said to Dean.
 242 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


“Dean Thomas. ”
“Well, Mr. Thomas? ”
“Well, it ’s like Harry said, isn ’t it? ” said Dean. “If we ’re going to be
attacked, it won ’t be risk -free — ”
“I repeat, ” said Professor Umbridge, smiling in a very irritating fashion
at Dean, “do you expect to be attacked during my classes? ” “No, but — ”
Professor Umbridge talked over him.
“I do not wish to criticize the way things have be en run in this school, ”
she said, an unconvincing smile stretching her wide mouth, “but you
have been exposed to some very irresponsible wizards in this class, very
irresponsible indeed — not to mention, ” she gave a nasty little laugh,
“extremely dangerous half -breeds. ”
“If you mean Professor Lupin, ” piped up Dean Thomas angrily, “he was
the best we ever — ”
“ Hand, Mr. Thomas! As I was saying — you have been introduced
to spells that have been complex, inappropriate to your age group, and
potentially lethal. You have been frightened into believing that you are
likely to meet Dark attacks every other day — ”
“No we haven ’t,” Hermione said, “we just — ”
“ Your hand is not up, Miss Granger !”
Hermione put up her hand; Professor Umbridge tur ned away from her.
“It is my understanding that my predecessor not only performed il -
legal curses in front of you, he actually performed them on you — ”
“Well, he turned out to be a maniac, didn ’t he? ” said Dean Thomas hotly.
“Mind you, we still learned loads — ”
“ Your hand is not up, Mr. Thomas !” trilled Professor Umbridge.
“Now, it is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be
more than sufficient to get you through your examination, which, after
all, is what school is all about. And your name is? ” she added, staring at
Parvati, whose hand had just shot up.
 243 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

“Parvati Patil, and isn ’t there a practical bit in our Defense Against the
Dark Arts O.W.L.? Aren ’t we supposed to show that we can actu - ally do
the countercurses and things? ”
“As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is no reason
why you should not be able to perform the spells under care - fully
controlled examination conditions, ” said Professor Umbridge
dismissively.
“Without ever practicing them before? ” said Parvati incredulously. “Are
you telling us that the first time we ’ll get to do the spells will be during
our exam? ”
“I repeat, as long as you ha ve studied the theory hard enough — ” “And
what good ’s theory going to be in the real world? ” said Harry loudly, his
fist in the air again.
Professor Umbridge looked up.
“This is school, Mr. Potter, not the real world, ” she said softly. “So we ’re
not su pposed to be prepared for what ’s waiting out there? ”
“There is nothing waiting out there, Mr. Potter. ” “Oh yeah? ” said Harry.
His temper, which seemed to have been bubbling just beneath the
surface all day, was reaching boiling point. “Who do you imagin e wants
to attack children like yourselves? ” inquired Professor Umbridge in a
horribly honeyed voice.
“Hmm, let ’s think . . . ” said Harry in a mock thoughtful voice,
“maybe Lord Voldemort ?”
Ron gasped; Lavender Brown uttered a little scream; Neville slipped
sideways off his stool. Professor Umbridge, however, did not flinch. She
was staring at Harry with a grimly satisfied expression on her face.
“Ten points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter. ”
The classroom was silent and still. Everyone was staring at either
Umbridge or Harry.
“Now, let me make a few things quite plain. ”
 244 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


Professor Umbridge stood up and leaned toward them, her stubby -
fingered hands splayed on her desk.
“You have been told that a certain Dark wizard has returned from the
dead — ”
“He wasn ’t dead, ” said Harry angrily, “but yeah, he ’s returned! ”
“Mr. -Pot ter -you -have -already -lost -your -House -ten -points -do -not -
make -matters -worse -for -yourself, ” said Professor Umbridge in one
breath without looking at him. “As I was saying, you have been in -
formed that a certain Dark wizard is at large once again. This is a lie. ”
“It is NOT a lie! ” said Harry. “I saw him, I fought him! ”
“Detention, Mr. Potter! ” said Professor Umbridge triumphantly.
“Tomorrow evening. Five o ’clock. My office. I repeat, this is a lie. The
Ministry of Magic guarantees that you a re not in danger from any Dark
wizard. If you are still worried, by all means come and see me outside
class hours. If someone is alarming you with fibs about reborn Dark
wizards, I would like to hear about it. I am here to help. I am your friend.
And now, you will kindly continue your reading. Page five, ‘Basics for
Beginners. ’”
Professor Umbridge sat down behind her desk again. Harry, how - ever,
stood up. Everyone was staring at him; Seamus looked half - scared,
half -fascinated.
“Harry, no! ” Hermione wh ispered in a warning voice, tugging at his
sleeve, but Harry jerked his arm out of her reach.
“So, according to you, Cedric Diggory dropped dead of his own accord,
did he? ” Harry asked, his voice shaking.
There was a collective intake of breath from the class, for none of them,
apart from Ron and Hermione, had ever heard Harry talk about what
had happened on the night that Cedric had died. They stared avidly from
Harry to Professor Umbridge, who had raised her eyes and was staring at
him without a trace of a fake smile on her face. “Cedric Diggory ’s death
was a tragic accident, ” she said coldly.

“It was murder, ” said Harry. He could feel himself shaking. He had
 245 ‘

CHAPTER T WELVE

hardly talked to anyone about this, least of all thirty eagerly listening
classmates. “Voldemort killed him, and you know it. ”
Professor Umbridge ’s face was quite blank. For a moment he thought
she was going to scream at him. Then she said, in her softest, most
sweetly girlish voice, “Come here, Mr. Potter, dear. ”
He kicked his chair aside, strode around Ron and Hermione and up to
the teacher ’s desk. He could feel the rest of the class h olding its breath.
He felt so angry he did not care what happened next. Professor
Umbridge pulled a small roll of pink parchment out of her handbag,
stretched it out on the desk, dipped her quill into a bot - tle of ink, and
started scribbling, hunched over so that Harry could not see what she
was writing. Nobody spoke. After a minute or so she rolled up the
parchment and tapped it with her wand; it sealed itself seamlessly so that
he could not open it.
“Take this to Professor McGonagall, dear, ” said Profes sor Um - bridge,
holding out the note to him.
He took it from her without saying a word and left the room, not even
looking back at Ron and Hermione, and slamming the class - room door
shut behind him. He walked very fast along the corridor, the note to
McG onagall clutched tight in his hand, and turning a cor - ner walked
slap into Peeves the Poltergeist, a wide -faced little man floating on his
back in midair, juggling several inkwells.
“Why, it ’s Potty Wee Potter! ” cackled Peeves, allowing two of the
inkwel ls to fall to the ground where they smashed and spattered the walls
with ink; Harry jumped backward out of the way with a snarl. “Get out
of it, Peeves. ”
“Oooh, Crackpot ’s feeling cranky, ” said Peeves, pursuing Harry along
the corridor, leering as he zoom ed along above him. “What is it this time,
my fine Potty friend? Hearing voices? Seeing visions? Speak -
ing in ” — Peeves blew a gigantic raspberry — “ tongues ?”
“I said, leave me ALONE! ” Harry shouted, running down the
 246 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


nearest flight of stairs, but Peeves merely slid down the banister on his
back beside him.

“ Oh, most think he ’s barking, the Potty wee lad, But some
are more kindly and think he ’s just sad,
But Peevesy knows better and says that he ’s mad — ”

“SHUT UP! ”
A door to his left flew open and Professor McGonagall emerged from
her office looking grim and slightly harassed.
“What on earth are you shouting about, Potter? ” she snapped, as
Peeves cackled gleefully and zoomed out of sight. “Why aren ’t you in
class? ”
“I’ve been sent to see you, ” said Harry stiffly.
“Sent? What do you mean, sent? ”
He held out the note from Professor Umbridge. Professor McGo - nagall
took it from him, frow ning, slit it open with a tap of her wand, stretched
it out, and began to read. Her eyes zoomed from side to side behind their
square spectacles as she read what Umbridge had written, and with each
line they became narrower.
“Come in here, Potter. ”
He followed her inside her study. The door closed automatically behind
him.
“Well? ” said Professor McGonagall, rounding on him. “Is this true? ”
“Is what true? ” Harry asked, rather more aggressively than he had
intended. “Professor? ” he added in an attempt to sound more polite. “Is
it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge? ”
“Yes, ” said Harry.
“You called her a liar? ”
“Yes. ”

 247 ‘

CHAPTER TWELVE

“You told her He -Who -Must -Not -Be -Named is back? ”
“Yes. ”
Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry.
Then she said, “Have a biscuit, Potter. ”
“Have — what? ”
“Have a biscuit, ” she repeated impatiently, indicating a tartan tin of
cookies lying on top of one of the piles of papers on her d esk. “And sit
down. ”
There had been a previous occasion when Harry, expecting to be caned
by Professor McGonagall, had instead been appointed by her to the
Gryffindor Quidditch team. He sank into a chair opposite her and
helped himself to a Ginger Newt, feeling just as confused and wrong -
footed as he had done on that occasion.
Professor McGonagall set down Professor Umbridge ’s note and looked
very seriously at Harry.
“Potter, you need to be careful. ”
Harry swallowed his mouthful of Ginger Newt and stared at her. Her
tone of voice was not at all what he was used to; it was not brisk, crisp,
and stern; it was low and anxious and somehow much more hu - man
than usual.
“Misbehavior in Dolores Umbridge ’s cl ass could cost you much more
than House points and a detention. ”
“What do you — ?”
“Potter, use your common sense, ” snapped Professor McGonagall, with
an abrupt return to her usual manner. “You know where she comes
from, you must know to whom she is re porting. ”
The bell rang for the end of the lesson. Overhead and all around came
the elephantine sounds of hundreds of students on the move. “It says
here she ’s given you detention every evening this week, starting
tomorrow, ” Professor McGonagall said, loo king down at Um - bridge ’s
note again.
 248 ‘

PROFESSOR
UMBRIDGE


“Every evening this week! ” Harry repeated, horrified. “But, Profes - sor,
couldn ’t you — ?”
“No, I couldn ’t,” said Professor McGonagall flatly.
“But — ”
“She is your teacher and has every right to give you detention. You will
go to her room at five o ’clock tomorrow for the first one. Just re -
member: Tread carefully around Dolores Umbridge. ”
“But I was telling the truth! ” said Harry, outraged. “Voldemort ’s back,
you know he is, Professor Dumbledore knows he is — ” “For heaven ’s
sake, Potter! ” said Professor McGonagall, straighten - ing her glasses
angrily (she had winced horribly when he had used Voldemort ’s name).
“Do you really think this is about truth or lies? It ’s about keeping your
head down and your temper under control! ”
She stood up, nostrils wide and mouth very thin, and he stood too.
“Have another biscuit, ” she said irritably, thrusting the tin at him.
“No, thanks, ” said Harry coldly.
“Don ’t be ridiculous, ” she snapped.
He took one.
“Thanks, ” he said grudgingly.
“Didn ’t you listen to Dolores Umbridge ’s speech at the start -of - term
feast, Potter? ”
“Yeah, ” said Harry. “Yeah . . . she said . . . progress will be prohib - ited
or . . . well, it meant that . . . that the Ministry of Magic is trying to
interfere at Hogwarts. ”
Professor McGonagall eyed him for a moment, then sniffed, walked
around her desk, and held open the door for him.
“Well, I ’m glad you listen to Hermione Granger at any rate, ” she said,
pointing him out of her office.

 249 ‘

C H A P T E R T H I R T E
E N










DETENTION
WITH DOLORES



inn er in the Great Hall that night was not a pleasant experi -
D
ence for Harry. The news about his shouting match with
Umbridge seemed to have traveled exceptionally fast even by Hog -
warts standards. He heard whispers all around him as he sat eating
between Ron and Hermione. The funny thing was that none of the
whisperers seemed to mind him overhearing what they were saying
about him — on the contrary, it was as though they were hopin g he
would get angry and start shouting again, so that they could hear his
story firsthand.
“He says he saw Cedric Diggory murdered. . . . ” “He
reckons he dueled with You -Know -Who. . . . ”
“Come off it. . . . ”
“Who does he think he ’s kidding? ”

“Pur - lease . . . ”
“What I don ’t get, ” said Harry in a shaking voice, laying down his knife
and fork (his hands were trembling too much to hold them steady), “is
why they all believed the story two months ago when Dumbledore told
them. . . . ”
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“The thing is, Harry, I ’m not sure they did, ” said Hermione grimly. “Oh,
let ’s get out of here. ”
She slammed down her own knife and fork; Ron looked sadly at his
half -finished apple pie but followed su it. People stared at them all the
way out of the Hall.
“What d ’you mean, you ’re not sure they believed Dumbledore? ” Harry
asked Hermione when they reached the first -floor landing. “Look, you
don ’t understand what it was like after it happened, ” said Hermi one
quietly. “You arrived back in the middle of the lawn clutching Cedric ’s
dead body. . . . None of us saw what happened in the maze. . . . We just
had Dumbledore ’s word for it that You -Know - Who had come back
and killed Cedric and fought you. ”
“Which is the truth! ” said Harry loudly.
“I know it is, Harry, so will you please stop biting my head off? ”
said Hermione wearily. “It’s just that before the truth could sink in,
everyone went home for the summer, where they spent two months
reading about how you ’re a nutcase and Dumbledore ’s going senile! ”
Rain pounded on the windowpanes as they strode along the empty
corridors back to Gryffindor Tower. Harry felt as though his first day
had lasted a week, but he still had a mountain of homew ork to do be -
fore bed. A dull pounding pain was developing over his right eye. He
glanced out of a rain -washed window at the dark grounds as they turned
into the Fat Lady ’s corridor. There was still no light in Hagrid ’s cabin.
“ Mimbulus mimbletonia, ” said Hermione, before the Fat Lady
could ask. The portrait swung open to reveal the hole behind and the
three of them scrambled back through it.
The common room was almost empty; nearly everyone was still down at
dinner. Crookshanks uncoiled himself from an armchair and trotted to
meet them, purring loudly, and when Harry, Ron, and Hermione took
their three favorite chairs at the fireside he leapt lightly into Hermione ’s
lap and curled up there like a furry ginger cushion. Harry gazed into the
flames, fee ling drained and exhausted.
 251 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“ How can Dumbledore have let this happen? ” Hermione cried sud -
denly, making Harry and Ron jump; Crookshanks leapt off her, look - ing
affronted. She pounded the arms of her chair in fury, so that bits of
stuffing leaked out of the holes. “How can he let that terrible woman
teach us? And in our O.W.L. year too! ”
“Well, we ’ve never had great Defense Against the Dark Arts teach - ers,
have we? ” said Harry. “You know what it ’s like, Hagrid told us, nobody
wants the job, they say it ’s jinxed. ”
“Yes, but to employ someone who ’s actually refusing to let us do
magic! What ’s Dumbledore playing at? ”
“And she ’s trying to get people to spy for her, ” said Ron darkly. “Re -
member when she said she wanted us to come and tell her if we hear
anyone saying You -Know -Who ’s back? ”
“Of course she ’s here to spy on us all, that ’s obvious, why else would
Fudge have wanted her to come? ” snapped Hermione.
“Don ’t start arguing again, ” said Harry wearily, as Ron opened his
mouth to retaliate. “Can ’t we just . . . Let ’s just do that homework, get it
out of the way. . . . ”
They collected their schoolbags from a corner and re turned to the chairs
by the fire. People were coming back from dinner now. Harry kept his
face averted from the portrait hole, but could still sense the stares he was
attracting.
“Shall we do Snape ’s stuff first? ” said Ron, dipping his quill into
his i nk. “‘ The properties . . . of moonstone . . . and its uses . . . in potion -
making . . . ’” he muttered, writing the words across the top of his
parchment as he spoke them. “There. ” He underlined the title, then
looked up expectantly at Hermione.
“So what are the properties of moonstone and its uses in potion -
making? ”
But Hermione was not listening; she was squinting over into the far
corner of the room, where Fred, George, and Lee Jordan were now sit -
ting at the center of a knot of innocen t-looking first years, all of whom
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were chewing something that seemed to have come out of a large pa -
per bag that Fred was holding.
“No, I ’m sorry, they ’ve gone too far, ” she said, standing up and looking
positively furious. “Come on, Ron. ”
“I — what? ” said Ron, plainly playing for time. “No — come on,
Hermione — we can ’t tell them off for giving out sweets. . . . ” “You
know perfectly well that those are bits of Nosebleed Nougat or — or
Puking Pastilles or — ”
“Fainting Fancies? ” Harry suggested quietly.
One by one, as though hit over the heads with invisible mallets, the first
years were slumping unconscious in th eir seats; some slid right onto the
floor, others merely hung over the arms of their chairs, their tongues
lolling out. Most of the people watching were laughing; Her - mione,
however, squared her shoulders and marched directly over to where
Fred and George now stood with clipboards, closely observing the
unconscious first years. Ron rose halfway out of his chair, hovered
uncertainly for a moment or two, then muttered to Harry, “She ’s got it
under control, ” before sinking as low in his chair as his lanky fra me
permitted.
“That ’s enough! ” Hermione said forcefully to Fred and George, both of
whom looked up in mild surprise.
“Yeah, you ’re right, ” said George, nodding, “this dosage looks strong
enough, doesn ’t it? ”
“I told you this morning, you can ’t test your rubbish on students! ”
“We ’re paying them! ” said Fred indignantly.
“I don ’t care, it could be dangerous! ”
“Rubbish, ” said Fred.
“Calm down, Hermione, they ’re fine! ” said Lee reassuringly as he walked
from first year to first year, inserti ng purple sweets into their open
mouths.
“Yeah, look, they ’re coming round now, ” said George. A few of the
first years were indeed stirring. Several looked so

 253 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

shocked to find themselves lying on the floor, or dangling off their
chairs, that Harry was sure Fred and George had not warned them what
the sweets were going to do.
“Feel all right? ” said George kindly to a small dark -haired girl lying at his
feet.
“I-I think so, ” she said shakily.
“Excellent, ” said Fred happily, but the next second Hermione had
snatched both his clipboard and the paper bag of Fainting Fancies from
his hands.
“It is NOT excellent! ”
“’Course it is, they ’re alive, aren ’t they? ” sai d Fred angrily. “You can ’t do
this, what if you made one of them really ill? ” “We ’re not going to make
them ill, we ’ve already tested them all on ourselves, this is just to see if
everyone reacts the same — ”
“If you don ’t stop doing it, I ’m going to — ”
“Put us in detention? ” said Fred in an I ’d-like -to -see -you -try -it voice.
“Make us write lines? ” said George, smirking.
Onlookers all over the room were laughing. Hermione drew herself up
to her full height; her eyes were narrowed and her bushy hair see med to
crackle with electricity.
“No, ” she said, her voice quivering with anger, “but I will write to your
mother. ”
“You wouldn ’t,” said George, horrified, taking a step back from her.
“Oh, yes, I would, ” said Hermione grimly. “I can ’t stop you eating th e
stupid things yourselves, but you ’re not giving them to first years. ” Fred
and George looked thunderstruck. It was clear that as far as they were
concerned, Hermione ’s threat was way below the belt. With a last
threatening look at them, she thrust Fred ’s clipboard and the bag of
Fancies back into his arms and stalked back to her chair by the fire. Ron
was now so low in his seat that his nose was roughly level with his knees.
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“Thank you for your support, Ron, ” Hermione said acidly. “You
handled it fine by yourself, ” Ron mumbled. Hermione stared down at
her blank piece of parchment for a few seconds, then said edgily, “Oh,
it’s no good, I can ’t concentrate now. I ’m going to bed. ”
She wrenched her bag open; Harry thought she was about to put her
books away, but instead she pulled out two misshapen woolly ob - jects,
placed them carefully on a table by the fireplace, covered them with a
few screwed -up bits of parchment and a broken quill, and stood back to
admire the effect.
“What in the name of Merlin are you doing? ” said Ron, watching her as
though fearful for her sanity.
“They ’re hats for house -elves, ” she said briskly, now stuffing her books
back into her bag. “I did them ove r the summer. I ’m a really slow knitter
without magic, but now I ’m back at school I should be able to make lots
more. ”
“You ’re leaving out hats for the house -elves? ” said Ron slowly. “And
you ’re covering them up with rubbish first? ”
“Yes, ” said Hermione defiantly, swinging her bag onto her back. “That ’s
not on, ” said Ron angrily. “You ’re trying to trick them into picking up
the hats. You ’re setting them free when they might not want to be free. ”
“Of course they want to be free! ” said Hermione at once, th ough her
face was turning pink. “Don ’t you dare touch those hats, Ron! ” She left.
Ron waited until she had disappeared through the door to the girls ’
dormitories, then cleared the rubbish off the woolly hats. “They should
at least see what they ’re picking up, ” he said firmly. “Anyway . . . ” He
rolled up the parchment on which he had written the title of Snape ’s
essay. “There ’s no point trying to finish this now, I can ’t do it without
Hermione, I haven ’t got a clue what you ’re sup - posed to do with
moonstone s, have you? ”
 255 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Harry shook his head, noticing as he did so that the ache in his right
temple was getting worse. He thought of the long essay on giant wars
and the pain stabbed at him sharply. Knowing perfectly well that he
would regret not finishing his homework tonight when the morn - ing
came, he piled his books back into his bag.
“I’m going to bed too. ”
He passed Seamus on the way to the door lead ing to the dormi - tories,
but did not look at him. Harry had a fleeting impression that Seamus had
opened his mouth to speak, but sped up, and reached the soothing peace
of the stone spiral staircase without having to endure any more
provocation.

The following day dawned just as leaden and rainy as the previous one.
Hagrid was still absent from the staff table at breakfast.
“But on the plus side, no Snape today, ” said Ron bracingly. Hermione
yawned widely and poured herself some coffee. She looked mildly
pleased about something, and when Ron asked her what she had to be so
happy about, she simply said, “The hats have gone. Seems the
house -elves do want freedom after all. ”
“I wouldn ’t bet on it, ” Ron told her cuttingly. “They might not count as
clothes. They didn ’t look anything like hats to me, more like woolly
bladders. ”
Hermione did not speak to him all morning.
Double Charms was succeeded by double Transfiguration. Profes - sor
Flitwick and Professor McGonagall both spent the first fifteen minutes
of their lessons lecturing the class on the importance of O.W.L.s.
“What you must remember, ” said little Professor Flitwick squeak - ily,
perched as ever on a pile of books so that he could see over the top of
his desk, “is that these examinations may influence your futures for
many years to come! If you have not already given serious thought to
your careers, now is the time to do so. And in the meantime, I ’m
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afrai d, we shall be working harder than ever to ensure that you all do
yourselves justice! ”
They then spent more than an hour reviewing Summoning Charms,
which according to Professor Flitwick were bound to come up in their
O.W.L., and he rounded off the less on by setting them their largest
amount of Charms homework ever.
It was the same, if not worse, in Transfiguration. “You cannot pass an
O.W.L., ” said Professor McGonagall grimly, “without serious
application, practice, and study. I see no reason why eve rybody in this
class should not achieve an O.W.L. in Transfiguration as long as they put
in the work. ” Neville made a sad little disbeliev - ing noise. “Yes, you too,
Longbottom, ” said Professor McGonagall. “There ’s nothing wrong
with your work except lack of confidence. So
. . . today we are starting Vanishing Spells. These are easier than Con -
juring Spells, which you would not usually attempt until N.E.W.T. level,
but they are still among the most difficult magic you will be tested on in
your O.W.L. ”
She was quite right; Harry found the Vanishing Spells horribly dif - ficult.
By the end of a double period, neither he nor Ron had managed to
vanish the snails on which they were practicing, though Ron said
hopefully that he thought his looked a bit paler. Hermione, on the other
hand, successfully vanished her snail on the third attempt, earn - ing her a
ten -point bonus for Gryffindor from Professor McGonagall. She was
the only person not given homework; everybody else was told to
practice the spell overnigh t, ready for a fresh attempt on their snails the
following afternoon.
Now panicking slightly about the amount of homework they had to do,
Harry and Ron spent their lunch hour in the library looking up the uses
of moonstones in potion -making. Still angry a bout Ron ’s slur on her
woolly hats, Hermione did not join them. By the time they reached Care
of Magical Creatures in the afternoon, Harry ’s head was aching again.
 257 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

The day had become cool and breezy, and, as they walked down the
sloping lawn toward Hagrid ’s cabin on the edge of the Forbidden Forest,
they felt the occasional drop of rain on their faces. Professor
Grubbly -Plank stood waiting for the class some ten yard s from Ha -
grid ’s front door, a long trestle table in front of her laden with many
twigs. As Harry and Ron reached her, a loud shout of laughter sounded
behind them; turning, they saw Draco Malfoy striding to - ward them,
surrounded by his usual gang of Sly therin cronies. He had clearly just
said something highly amusing, because Crabbe, Goyle, Pansy
Parkinson, and the rest continued to snigger heartily as they gathered
around the trestle table. Judging by the fact that all of them kept looking
over at Harry , he was able to guess the subject of the joke without too
much difficulty.
“Everyone here? ” barked Professor Grubbly -Plank, once all the
Slytherins and Gryffindors had arrived. “Let ’s crack on then — who can
tell me what these things are called? ”
She indicated the heap of twigs in front of her. Hermione ’s hand shot
into the air. Behind her back, Malfoy did a buck -toothed imita - tion of
her jumping up and down in eagerness to answer a question. Pansy
Parkinson gave a shriek of laughter that turned almos t at once into a
scream, as the twigs on the table leapt into the air and revealed
themselves to be what looked like tiny pixieish creatures made of wood,
each with knobbly brown arms and legs, two twiglike fingers at the end
of each hand, and a funny, fla t, barklike face in which a pair of
beetle -brown eyes glittered.
“Oooooh! ” said Parvati and Lavender, thoroughly irritating Harry:
Anyone would have thought that Hagrid never showed them impres -
sive creatures; admittedly the flobberworms had been a bit dull, but the
salamanders and hippogriffs had been interesting enough, and the
Blast -Ended Skrewts perhaps too much so.
“Kindly keep your voices down, girls! ” said Professor Grubbly - Plank
sharply, scattering a handful of what looked like brown rice
 2 58 ‘

DETENTION
WITH DOLORES
among the stick -creatures, who immediately fell upon the food. “So —
anyone know the names of these creatures? Miss Granger? ”
“Bowtruckles, ” said Hermione. “They ’re tree -guardians, usually live in
wand -trees. ”
“Five points for Gryffindor, ” said Professor Grubbly -Plank. “Yes, these
are bowtruckles and, as Miss Granger rightly says, they generally live in
trees whose wood is of wand quality. Anybody know what they eat? ”
“Wood lice, ” said He rmione promptly, which explained why what Harry
had taken for grains of brown rice were moving. “But fairy eggs if they
can get them. ”
“Good girl, take another five points. So whenever you need leaves or
wood from a tree in which a bowtruckle lodges, it is wise to have a gift of
wood lice ready to distract or placate it. They may not look dangerous,
but if angered they will gouge out human eyes with their fingers, which,
as you can see, are very sharp and not at all desirable near the eyeballs. So
if you ’d like to gather closer, take a few wood lice and a bowtruckle — I
have enough here for one between three — you can study them more
closely. I want a sketch from each of you with all body parts labeled by
the end of the lesson. ”
The class surged forward around the trestle table. Harry deliberately
circled around the back so that he ended up right next to Professor
Grubbly -Plank.
“Where ’s Hagrid? ” he asked her, while everyone else was choosing
bowtruckles.
“Never you mind, ” said Professor Grubbly -Plank repressively, which
had been her attitude last time Hagrid had failed to turn up for a class
too. Smirking all over his pointed face, Draco Malfoy leaned across
Harry and seized the largest bowtruckle.
“Maybe, ” said Malfoy in an undertone, so that only Harry could hear
him, “the stupid great oaf ’s got himself badly injured. ” “Maybe you will
if you don ’t shut up, ” said Harry out of the side of his mouth.
 259 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“Maybe he ’s bee n messing with stuff that ’s too big for him, if you
get my drift. ”
Malfoy walked away, smirking over his shoulder at Harry, who sud -
denly felt sick. Did Malfoy know something? His father was a Death
Eater, after all; what if he had information about Hagrid ’s fate that had
not yet reached the Order ’s ears? He hurried back around the table to
Ron and Hermione, who were squatting on the grass some distance
away and attempting to persuade a bowtruckle to remain still long
enough to draw it. Harry pulled out parchment and quill, crouched
down beside the others, and related in a whisper what Mal - foy had just
said.
“Dumbledore would know if something had happened to Hagrid, ” said
Hermione at once. “It’s jus t playing into Malfoy ’s hands to look worried,
it tells him we don ’t know exactly what ’s going on. We ’ve got to ignore
him, Harry. Here, hold the bowtruckle for a moment, just so I can draw
its face. . . . ”
“Yes, ” came Malfoy ’s clear drawl from the group nearest them, “Father
was talking to the Minister just a couple of days ago, you know, and it
sounds as though the Ministry ’s really determined to crack down on
substandard teaching in this place. So even if that over -
grown moron does show up again, he ’ll probably be sent packing
straight away. ”
“OUCH! ”
Harry had gripped the bowtruckle so hard that it had almost snapped; it
had just taken a great retaliatory swipe at his hand with its sharp fingers,
leaving two long deep cuts there. Harry dropped it; Crabbe and Goyle,
who had already been guffawing at the idea of Ha - grid being sacked,
laughed still harder as the bowtruckle set off at full tilt toward the forest,
a little, moving stickm an soon swallowed up by the tree roots. When the
bell echoed distantly over the grounds Harry rolled up his bloodstained
bowtruckle picture and marched off to
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Herbology with his hand wrapped in a handkerchief of Hermione ’s and
Malfoy ’s derisive laughter still ringing in his ears.
“If he calls Hagrid a moron one more time . . . ” snarled Harry. “Harry,
don ’t go picking a row with Malfoy, don ’t forget, he ’s a pre - fect now,
he could make life difficult for you. . . . ”
“Wow, I wonder what it ’d be like to have a difficult life? ” said Harry
sarcastically. Ron laughed, but Hermione frowned. Together they
traipsed across the vegetable patch. The sky still appeared una ble to
make up its mind whether it wanted to rain or not.
“I just wish Hagrid would hurry up and get back, that ’s all, ” said
Harry in a low voice, as they reached the greenhouses. “And don ’t say
that Grubbly -Plank woman ’s a better teacher! ” he added threateningly.
“I wasn ’t going to, ” said Hermione calmly.
“Because she ’ll never be as good as Hagrid, ” said Harry firmly, fully
aware that he had just experienced an exemplary Care of Magical
Creatures lesson and was thoroughly annoyed about i t.
The door of the nearest greenhouse opened and some fourth years
spilled out of it, including Ginny.
“Hi, ” she said brightly as she passed. A few seconds later, Luna
Lovegood emerged, trailing behind the rest of the class, a smudge of
earth on her nose and her hair tied in a knot on the top of her head.
When she saw Harry, her prominent eyes seemed to bulge excitedly and
she made a beeline straight for him. Many of his classmates turned
curiously to watch. Luna took a great breath and then said, without so
much as a preliminary hello: “I believe He -Who -Must - Not -Be -Named
is back, and I believe you fought him and escaped from him. ”
“Er — right, ” said Harry awkwardly. Luna was wearing what looked like
a pair of orange radishes for earrings, a fact that Parvati and Lavender
seemed to have noticed, as they were both giggling and pointing at her
earlobes.
 261 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“You can laugh! ” Luna said, her voice rising, apparently under the
impression that Parvati and Lavender were laughing at what she had said
rather than what she was wearing. “But people used to believe there
were no such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple -
Horned Snorkack! ”
“Well, they were right, weren ’t t hey? ” said Hermione impatiently.
“There weren ’t any such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the
Crumple -Horned Snorkack. ”
Luna gave her a withering look and flounced away, radishes swing - ing
madly. Parvati and Lavender were not the only ones hooting with
laughter now.
“D ’you mind not offending the only people who believe me? ” Harry
asked Hermione as they made their way into class.
“Oh, for heaven ’s sake, Harry, you can do better than her, ” said
Hermione. “Ginny ’s told me all about her, apparently she ’ll only be -
lieve in things as long as there ’s no proof at all. Well, I wouldn ’t expect
anything else from someone whose father runs The Quibbler. ”
Harry thought of the sinister win ged horses he had seen on the night he
had arrived and how Luna had said she could see them too. His spirits
sank slightly. Had she been lying? But before he could de - vote much
more thought to the matter, Ernie Macmillan had stepped up to him.
“I want you to know, Potter, ” he said in a loud, carrying voice, “that it ’s
not only weirdos who support you. I personally believe you one hundred
percent. My family have always stood firm behind Dumble - dore, and so
do I. ”
“Er — thanks very much, Ernie, ” said Harry, taken aback but pleased.
Ernie might be pompous on occasions like these, but Harry was in a
mood to deeply appreciate a vote of confidence from some - body who
was not wearing radishes in their ears. Ernie ’s words had certainly wiped
the smile f rom Lavender Brown ’s face and, as he
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turned to talk to Ron and Hermione, Harry caught Seamus ’s expres -
sion, which looked both confused and defiant.
To nobody ’s surprise, Professor Sprout started their lesson by lec - turing
them about the importance of O.W.L.s. Harry wished all the teachers
would stop doing this; he was starting to get an anxious, twisted feeling
in his stomach every time he remembered how much homework he had
to do, a feeling that worsened dramatically when Professor Sprout gave
them yet another essay at the end of class. Tired and smelling strongly of
dragon dung, Professor Sprout ’s preferred brand of fertilizer, the
Gryffindors trooped back up to the castle an hour and a half later, none
of them talking very much; it had been an - other long day.
As Harry was starving, and he had his first detention with Um - bridge at
five o ’clock, he headed straight for dinner without dropping off his bag
in Gryffindor Tower so that he could bolt something down before
facing whatever she had in store for him. He had barely reached the
entrance of the Great Hall, however, when a loud and angry voice said,
“Oy, Potter! ”
“What now? ” he muttered we arily, turning to face Angelina John - son,
who looked as though she was in a towering temper.
“I’ll tell you what now, ” she said, marching straight up to him and
poking him hard in the chest with her finger. “How come you ’ve landed
yourself in detention f or five o ’clock on Friday? ”
“What? ” said Harry. “Why . . . oh yeah, Keeper tryouts! ”
“ Now he remembers! ” snarled Angelina. “Didn ’t I tell you I wanted
to do a tryout with the whole team, and find someone who fitted in
with everyone ? Didn ’t I te ll you I ’d booked the Quidditch pitch spe -
cially? And now you ’ve decided you ’re not going to be there! ”
“I didn ’t decide not to be there! ” said Harry, stung by the injustice of
these words. “I got detention from that Umbridge woman, just be - cause
I told her the truth about You -Know -Who — ”
 263 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“Well, you can just go straight to her and ask her to let you off on
Friday, ” said Angelina fiercely, “and I don ’t care how you do it, tell her
You -Know -Who ’s a figment of your imagination if you like, just make
sure you ’re there !”
She stormed away.
“You know what? ” Harry said to Ron and Hermione as they en - tered
the Great Hall. “I think we ’d better check with Puddlemere United
whether Oli ver Wood ’s been killed during a training session, because she
seems to be channeling his spirit. ”
“What d ’you reckon are the odds of Umbridge letting you off on
Friday? ” said Ron skeptically, as they sat down at the Gryffindor table.
“Less than zero, ” sai d Harry glumly, tipping lamb chops onto his plate
and starting to eat. “Better try, though, hadn ’t I? I ’ll offer to do two more
detentions or something, I dunno. . . . ” He swallowed a mouthful of
potato and added, “I hope she doesn ’t keep me too long this evening.
You realize we ’ve got to write three essays, practice Van - ishing Spells
for McGonagall, work out a countercharm for Flitwick, finish the
bowtruckle drawing, and start that stupid dream diary for Trelawney? ”
Ron moaned and for some reason glanc ed up at the ceiling.
“ And it looks like it ’s going to rain. ”
“What ’s that got to do with our homework? ” said Hermione, her
eyebrows raised.
“Nothing, ” said Ron at once, his ears reddening. At five to five Harry
bade the other two good -bye and set off for Umbridge ’s office on the
third floor. When he knocked on the door she said, “Come in, ” in a
sugary voice. He entered cautiously, looking around.
He had known this office under three of its previous occupants. In the
days when Gilderoy Lockhart had lived here it had been plastered in
beaming portraits of its owner. When Lupin had occupied it, it was likely
you would meet some fascinating Dark creature in a cage or
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tank if you came to call. In the impostor Moody ’s days it had been
packed with various instruments and artifacts for the detection of
wrongdoing and concealment.
Now, however, it looked totally unrecognizable. The surfaces had all
been draped in lacy covers and cloths. There were several vases full of
dried flowers, each residing on its own doily, and on one of the walls was
a collection of ornamental plates, each decorated with a large technicolor
kitten wearing a different bow around its neck. These were so foul that
Harry stared at them, transfixed, until Profes - sor Umbridge spoke
again.
“Good evening, Mr. Potter. ”
Harry started and looked around. He had no t noticed her at first because
she was wearing a luridly flowered set of robes that blended only too
well with the tablecloth on the desk behind her.
“Evening, ” Harry said stiffly.
“Well, sit down, ” she said, pointing toward a small table draped in lac e
beside which she had drawn up a straight -backed chair. A piece of blank
parchment lay on the table, apparently waiting for him.
“Er, ” said Harry, without moving. “Professor Umbridge? Er — before
we start, I -I wanted to ask you a . . . a favor. ”
Her bul ging eyes narrowed.
“Oh yes? ”
“Well I ’m . . . I ’m on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. And I was
supposed to be at the tryouts for the new Keeper at five o ’clock on Fri -
day and I was — was wondering whether I could skip detention that
night and do it — do it another night . . . instead . . . ”
He knew long before he reached the end of his sentence that it was no
good.
“Oh no, ” said Umbridge, smiling so widely that she looked as though
she had just swallowed a particularly juicy fly. “Oh no, no, no. Thi s is
your punishment for spreading evil, nasty, attention -seeking stories, Mr.
Potter, and punishments certainly cannot be adjusted to
 265 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

suit the guilty one ’s convenience. No, you will come here at five o ’clock
tomorrow, and the next day, and on Friday too, and you will do your
detentions as planned. I think it rather a good thing that you are missing
something you really want to do. It ought to reinforce the lesson I am
trying to teach you. ”
Harry felt the blood surge to his head and heard a thumping noise in his
ears. So he told evil, nasty, attention -seeking stories, did he? She was
watching him with her head slightly to one side, still smil - ing widely, a s
though she knew exactly what he was thinking and was waiting to see
whether he would start shouting again. With a massive effort Harry
looked away from her, dropped his schoolbag beside the straight -backed
chair, and sat down.
“There, ” said Umbridge swe etly, “we ’re getting better at controlling our
temper already, aren ’t we? Now, you are going to be doing some lines for
me, Mr. Potter. No, not with your quill, ” she added, as Harry bent down
to open his bag. “You ’re going to be using a rather special one of mine.
Here you are. ”
She handed him a long, thin black quill with an unusually sharp point.
“I want you to write ‘I must not tell lies, ’” she told him softly.
“How many times? ” Harry asked, with a creditable imitation of
politeness.
“Oh, as lon g as it takes for the message to sink in, ” said Umbridge
sweetly. “Off you go. ”
She moved over to her desk, sat down, and bent over a stack of
parchment that looked like essays for marking. Harry raised the sharp
black quill and then realized what was missing.
“You haven ’t given me any ink, ” he said.
“Oh, you won ’t need ink, ” said Professor Umbridge with the mer - est
suggestion of a laugh in her voice.
Harry placed the point of the quill on the paper and wrote : I must
not tell lies.
 266 ‘

DETENTION
WITH DOLORES
He let out a gasp of pain. The words had appeared on the parch - ment in
what appeared to be shining red ink. At the same time, the words had
appeared on the bac k of Harry ’s right hand, cut into his skin as though
traced there by a scalpel — yet even as he stared at the shining cut, the
skin healed over again, leaving the place where it had been slightly redder
than before but quite smooth.
Harry looked around at Umbridge. She was watching him, her wide,
toadlike mouth stretched in a smile.
“Yes? ”
“Nothing, ” said Harry quietly.
He looked back at the parchment, placed the quill upon it once
more, wrote I must not tell lies, and felt the searing pain on the back of
his hand for a second time; once again the words had been cut into his
skin, once again they healed over seconds later.
And on it went. Again and again Harry wrote the words on the
parchment in what he soon came to realize was not ink, but his own
blood. And again and again the words were cut into the back of his hand,
healed, and then reappeared the next time he set quill to parchment.
Darkness fell outside Umbridge ’s window. Harry did not ask when he
would be allowed to stop. He did not even check his watch. He knew she
was watching him for signs of weakness and he was not go - ing to show
any, not even if he had to sit here all night, cutting open his own hand
with this quill. . . .
“Come here, ” she said, aft er what seemed hours. He stood up. His hand
was stinging painfully. When he looked down at it he saw that the cut
had healed, but that the skin there was red raw.
“Hand, ” she said.
He extended it. She took it in her own. Harry repressed a shudder as she
touched him with her thick, stubby fingers on which she wore a number
of ugly old rings.
 267 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“Tut, tut, I don ’t seem to have made much of an impression yet, ” she
said, smiling. “Well, we ’ll just have to try again tomorrow evening, won ’t
we? You may go. ”
Harry left her office without a word. The school was quite deserted; it
was surely past midnight. He walked slowly up the corridor then, when
he had turned the corner and was sure that she would not hear him,
broke into a run.

He had not had time to practice Vanishing Spells, had not written a
single dream in his dream diary, and had not finished the drawing of the
bowtruckle, nor had he written his essays. He skipped breakfast next
morning to scribble down a couple of made -up dreams for Div - ination,
their first lesson, and was surprised to find a disheveled Ron keeping
him company.
“How come you didn ’t do it last night? ” Harry asked, as Ron stared
wildly around the common room for inspiration. Ron, who had been
fast asleep when Harry got back to the dormitory, muttered some - thing
about “doing other stuff, ” bent low over his parchment, and scrawled a
few words.
“That ’ll have to do, ” he said, slamming the diary shut, “I’ve sa id I
dreamed I was buying a new pair of shoes, she can ’t make anything weird
out of that, can she? ”
They hurried off to North Tower together.
“How was detention with Umbridge, anyway? What did she make you
do? ”
Harry hesitated for a fraction of a se cond, then said, “Lines. ”
“That ’s not too bad, then, eh? ” said Ron.
“Nope, ” said Harry.
“Hey — I forgot — did she let you off for Friday? ”
“No, ” said Harry.
Ron groaned sympathetically.
It was another bad day for Harry; he was one of the worst in Trans -
 268 ‘

DETENTION
WITH DOLORES
figuration, not having practiced Vanishing Spells at all. He had to give up
his lunch hour to complete the picture of the bowtruckle, and
meanwhile, Professors McGonagall, Grubbly -Plank, and Sinistra gave
them yet more homework, which he had no prospect of finishing that
evening because of his second detention with Umbridge. To cap it all,
Angelina Johnson tracked him down at dinner again and, on learning
that he would not be able to attend Friday ’s Keeper tryouts, told him she
was not at all impressed by his attitude and that she expected play - ers
who wished to remain on the t eam to put training before their other
commitments.
“I’m in detention! ” Harry yelled after her as she stalked away. “D ’you
think I ’d rather be stuck in a room with that old toad or play - ing
Quidditch? ”
“At least it ’s only lines, ” said Hermione consolingly, as Harry sank back
onto his bench and looked down at his steak -and -kidney pie, which he
no longer fancied very much. “It’s not as if it ’s a dreadful punishment,
really. . . . ”
Harry opened his mouth, closed it again, and nodd ed. He was not really
sure why he was not telling Ron and Hermione exactly what was
happening in Umbridge ’s room: He only knew that he did not want to
see their looks of horror; that would make the whole thing seem worse
and therefore more difficult to fac e. He also felt dimly that this was
between himself and Umbridge, a private battle of wills, and he was not
going to give her the satisfaction of hearing that he had com - plained
about it.
“I can ’t believe how much homework we ’ve got, ” said Ron miserabl y.
“Well, why didn ’t you do any last night? ” Hermione asked him. “Where
were you anyway? ”
“I was . . . I fancied a walk, ” said Ron shiftily.
Harry had the distinct impression that he was not alone in con - cealing
things at the moment.
 269 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN


 ‘ ‘
The second detention was just as bad as the previous one. The skin on
the back of Harry ’s hand became irritated more quickly now, red and
inflamed; Harry thought it unlikely to keep healing a s effectively for long.
Soon the cut would remain etched in his hand and Umbridge would,
perhaps, be satisfied. He let no moan of pain escape him, how - ever, and
from the moment of entering the room to the moment of his dismissal,
again past midnight, he s aid nothing but “Good evening ” and “Good
night. ”
His homework situation, however, was now desperate, and when he
returned to the Gryffindor common room he did not, though ex -
hausted, go to bed, but opened his books and began Snape ’s moon -
stone essay. It was half -past two by the time he had finished it. He knew
he had done a poor job, but there was no help for it; unless he had
something to give in he would be in detention with Snape next. He then
dashed off answers to the questions Profes sor McGonagall had set them,
cobbled together something on the proper handling of bowtruckles for
Professor Grubbly -Plank, and staggered up to bed, where he fell fully
clothed on top of the bed covers and fell asleep immediately.
Thursday passed in a haze of tiredness. Ron seemed very sleepy too,
though Harry could not see why he should be. Harry ’s third detention
passed in the same way as the previous two, except that after two
hours the words “ I must not tell lies ” did not fade from the back of
Ha rry ’s hand, but remained scratched there, oozing droplets of blood.
The pause in the pointed quill ’s scratching made Professor Umbridge
look up.
“Ah, ” she said softly, moving around her desk to examine his hand
herself. “Good. That ought to serve as a r eminder to you, oughtn ’t it?
You may leave for tonight. ”
 270 ‘

DETENTION
WITH DOLORES
“Do I still have to come back tomorrow? ” said Harry, picking up his
schoolbag with his left hand rather than his smarting right. “Oh yes, ”
said Professor Umbridge, smiling widely as before. “Yes, I think we can
etch the message a little deeper with another evening ’s work. ”
He had never before considered the possibility that there might be
another teacher in the world he hated more than Snap e, but as he walked
back toward Gryffindor Tower he had to admit he had found
a contender. She ’s evil, he thought, as he climbed a staircase to the sev -
enth floor, she ’s an evil, twisted, mad, old —
“Ron? ”
He had reached the top of the stairs, t urned right, and almost walked
into Ron, who was lurking behind a statue of Lachlan the Lanky,
clutching his broomstick. He gave a great leap of surprise when he saw
Harry and attempted to hide his new Cleansweep Eleven behind his
back.
“What are you doing? ”
“Er — nothing. What are you doing? ”
Harry frowned at him.
“Come on, you can tell me! What are you hiding here for? ” “I’m — I’m
hiding from Fred and George, if you must know, ” said Ron. “They just
went past with a bunch of firs t years, I bet they ’re testing stuff on them
again, I mean, they can ’t do it in the common room now, can they, not
with Hermione there. ”
He was talking in a very fast, feverish way.
“But what have you got your broom for, you haven ’t been flying, have
you? ” Harry asked.
“I — well — well, okay, I ’ll tell you, but don ’t laugh, all right? ” Ron said
defensively, turning redder with every second. “I-I thought I ’d try out
for Gryffindor Keeper now I ’ve got a decent broom. There. Go on.
Laugh. ”
 271 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“I’m not laughing, ” said Harry. Ron blinked. “It’s a brilliant idea! It’d be
really cool if you got on the team! I ’ve never seen you play Keeper, are
you good? ”
“I’m not bad, ” said Ron, who looked immensely relieved at Harry ’s
reaction. “Charlie, Fred, and George always made me Keep for them
when they were training during the holidays. ”
“So you ’ve been practicing tonight? ”
“Every evening since Tuesday . . . just on my own, though, I ’ve been
trying to bewitch Quaffles to fly at me, but it hasn ’t been easy and I don ’t
know how much use it ’ll be. ” Ron looked nervous and anxious. “Fred
and George are going to laugh themselves stupid when I turn up for the
tryouts. They haven ’t s topped taking the mickey out of me since I got
made a prefect. ”
“I wish I was going to be there, ” said Harry bitterly, as they set off
together toward the common room.
“Yeah, so do — Harry, what ’s that on the back of your hand? ” Harry,
who had just scratched his nose with his free right hand, tried to hide it,
but had as much success as Ron with his Cleansweep. “It’s just a cut —
it’s nothing — it’s — ”
But Ron had grabbed Harry ’s forearm and pulled the back of Harry ’s
hand up l evel with his eyes. There was a pause, during which he stared at
the words carved into the skin, then he released Harry, looking sick.
“I thought you said she was giving you lines? ”
Harry hesitated, but after all, Ron had been honest with him, so he to ld
Ron the truth about the hours he had been spending in Um - bridge ’s
office.
“The old hag! ” Ron said in a revolted whisper as they came to a halt in
front of the Fat Lady, who was dozing peacefully with her head against
her frame. “She ’s sick! Go to Mc Gonagall, say something! ” “No, ” said
Harry at once. “I’m not giving her the satisfaction of knowing she ’s got
to me. ”
 272 ‘

DETENTION
WITH DOLORES
“ Got to you ? You can ’t let her get away with this! ”
“I don ’t know how much power McGonagall ’s got over her, ” said
Harry.
“Dumbledore, then, tell Dumbledore! ”
“No, ” said Harry flatly.
“Why not? ”
“He ’s got enough on his mind, ” said Harry, but that was not the true
reason. He was not going to go to Dumbledore for help when
Dumbledore had not spoken to him once since last June.
“Well, I reckon you should — ” Ron began, but he was interrupted by
the Fat Lady, who had been watching them sleepily and now burst out,
“Are you going to give me the password or will I have to stay awake all
night waiting for you to finish your conversation? ”

Friday dawned sullen and sodden as the rest of the week. Though Harry
glanced toward the staff table automatically when he ente red the Great
Hall, it was without real hope of seeing Hagrid and he turned his mind
immediately to his more pressing problems, such as the mountainous
pile of homework he had to do and the prospect of yet another
detention with Umbridge.
Two things susta ined Harry that day. One was the thought that it was
almost the weekend; the other was that, dreadful though his final
detention with Umbridge was sure to be, he had a distant view of the
Quidditch pitch from her window and might, with luck, be able to see
something of Ron ’s tryout. These were rather feeble rays of light, it was
true, but Harry was grateful for anything that might lighten his present
darkness; he had never had a worse first week of term at Hogwarts.
At five o ’clock that evening he knocked on Professor Umbridge ’s office
door for what he sincerely hoped would be the final time, was told to
enter and did so. The blank parchment lay ready for him on the
lace -covered table, the pointed black quill beside it.
 273 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“You know what to do, Mr. Potter, ” said Umbridge, smiling sweetly
over at him.
Harry picked up the quill and glanced through the window. If he just
shifted his chair an inch or so to the right . . . On the pretext of shifting
himself closer to the table he managed it. He now had a dis - tant view of
the Gryffindor Quidditch team soaring up and down the pitch, while
half a dozen black figures stood at the foot of the three high goalposts,
apparently awaiting their turn t o Keep. It was impos - sible to tell which
one was Ron at this distance.
I must not tell lies, Harry wrote. The cut in the back of his right
hand opened and began to bleed afresh.
I must not tell lies. The cut dug deeper, stinging and smarting.
I must not tell lies. Blood trickled down his wrist.
He chanced another glance out of the window. Whoever was de -
fending the goalposts now was doing a very poor job indeed. Katie Bell
scored twice in the few seconds Harry dared watch. Hoping very much
that the Keeper wasn ’t Ron, he dropped his eyes back to the parchment
dotted with blood.
I must not tell lies.
I must not tell lies.
He looked up whenever he thought he could risk it, when he could hear
the scratching of Umbridge ’s quill or the op ening of a desk drawer. The
third person to try out was pretty good, the fourth was terrible, the fifth
dodged a Bludger exceptionally well but then fum - bled an easy save.
The sky was darkening so that Harry doubted he would be able to watch
the sixth and seventh people at all.
I must not tell lies.
I must not tell lies.
The parchment was now shining with drops of blood from the back of
his hand, which was searing with pain. When he next looked up, night
had fallen and the Quidditch pitch was no longer visible.
 274 ‘

DETENTION
WITH DOLORES
“Let ’s see if you ’ve gotten the message yet, shall we? ” said Um - bridge ’s
soft voice half an hour later.
She moved toward him, str etching out her short be -ringed fingers for his
arm. And then, as she took hold of him to examine the words now cut
into his skin, pain seared, not across the back of his hand, but across the
scar on his forehead. At the same time, he had a most pe - culiar
sensation somewhere around his midriff.
He wrenched his arm out of her grip and leapt to his feet, staring at her.
She looked back at him, a smile stretching her wide, slack mouth. “Yes, it
hurts, doesn ’t it? ” she said softly.
He did not answer. His heart was thumping very hard and fast. Was she
talking about his hand or did she know what he had just felt in his
forehead?
“Well, I think I ’ve made my point, Mr. Potter. You may go. ” He caught
up his schoolbag and left the room as quickly as he could.
Stay calm, he told himself as he sprinted up the stairs. Stay calm, it
doesn ’t necessarily mean what you think it means. . . .
“ Mimbulus mimbletonia !” he gasped at the Fat Lady, who swung
forward once more.
A roar of sound greeted him. Ron came running toward him, beaming all
over his face and slopping butterbeer down his front from the goblet he
was clutching.
“Harry, I did it, I ’m in, I ’m Keeper! ”
“What? Oh — brilliant! ” said Harry, trying to smile natu rally, while his
heart continued to race and his hand throbbed and bled. “Have a
butterbeer. ” Ron pressed a bottle onto him. “I can ’t believe it — where ’s
Hermione gone? ”
“She ’s there, ” said Fred, who was also swigging butterbeer, and pointed
to an armcha ir by the fire. Hermione was dozing in it, her drink tipping
precariously in her hand.
 275 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“Well, she said she was pleased when I told her, ” said Ron, looking
slightly put out.
“Let her sleep, ” said George hastily. It was a few moments before Harry
noticed that several of the first years gathered around them bore
unmistakable signs of recent nosebleeds.
“Come here, Ron, and see if Oliver ’s old robes fit you, ” called Katie Bell.
“We can take off his name and put yours on instead. . . . ”
As Ron moved away, Angelina came striding up to Harry. “Sorry I was a
bit short with you earlier, Potter, ” she said abruptly. “It’s stressful, this
managing lark, you know, I ’m starting to think I was a bit hard on Wood
sometimes. ” She was watching Ron over the rim of her goblet with a
slight frown on her face.
“Look, I know he ’s your best mate, but he ’s not fabulous, ” she said
bluntly. “I think with a bit of training he ’ll be all right, though. He comes
from a family of good Quidditch players. I ’m banking on him turning
out to have a bit more talent than he showed today, to be honest. Vicky
Frobisher and Geoffrey Hooper both flew better this evening, but
Hooper ’s a real whiner, he ’s always moaning a bout something or other,
and Vicky ’s involved in all sorts of societies, she admitted herself that if
training clashed with her Charm Club she ’d put Charms first. Anyway,
we ’re having a practice session at two o ’clock tomorrow, so just make
sure you ’re the re this time. And do me a favor and help Ron as much as
you can, okay? ”
He nodded and Angelina strolled back to Alicia Spinnet. Harry moved
over to sit next to Hermione, who awoke with a jerk as he put down his
bag.
“Oh, Harry, it ’s you. . . . Good abo ut Ron, isn ’t it? ” she said blearily. “I’m
just so — so — so tired, ” she yawned. “I was up until one o ’clock
making more hats. They ’re disappearing like mad! ”
And sure enough, now that he looked, Harry saw that there were woolly
hats concealed all aroun d the room where unwary elves might
accidentally pick them up.
 276 ‘

DETENTION
WITH DOLORES
“Great, ” said Harry distractedly; if he did not tell somebody soon, he
would burst. “Listen, Hermione, I was just up in Umbridge ’s office and
she touched my arm . . . ”
Hermione listened closely. When Harry had finished she said slowly,
“You ’re worried that You -Know -Who ’s controlling her like he
controlled Quirrell? ”
“Well, ” said Harry, dropping his voice, “it’s a possibility, is n’t it? ” “I
suppose so, ” said Hermione, though she sounded unconvinced.
“But I don ’t think he can be possessing her the way he possessed Quir -
rell, I mean, he ’s properly alive again now, isn ’t he, he ’s got his own body,
he wouldn ’t need to share someo ne else ’s. He could have her un - der the
Imperius Curse, I suppose. . . . ”
Harry watched Fred, George, and Lee Jordan juggling empty but -
terbeer bottles for a moment. Then Hermione said, “But last year your
scar hurt when nobody was touching you, and did n’t Dumble - dore say
it had to do with what You -Know -Who was feeling at the time? I mean,
maybe this hasn ’t got anything to do with Umbridge at all, maybe it ’s just
coincidence it happened while you were with her? ” “She ’s evil, ” said
Harry flatly. “Twisted .”
“She ’s horrible, yes, but . . . Harry, I think you ought to tell Dum -
bledore your scar hurt. ”
It was the second time in two days he had been advised to go to
Dumbledore and his answer to Hermione was just the same as his an -
swer to Ron.
“I’m not bothering him with this. Like you just said, it ’s not a big deal.
It’s been hurting on and off all summer — it was just a bit worse tonight,
that ’s all — ”
“Harry, I ’m sure Dumbledore would want to be bothered by
this — ”
“Yeah, ” said Harry, b efore he could stop himself, “that ’s the only bit of
me Dumbledore cares about, isn ’t it, my scar? ”
“Don ’t say that, it ’s not true! ”
 277 ‘

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

“I think I ’ll write and tell Sirius about it, see what he thinks — ” “Harry,
you can ’t put something like that in a letter! ” said Hermione, looking
alarmed. “Don ’t you remember, Moody told us to be careful what we
put in writing! We just can ’t guarantee owls aren ’t be ing intercepted
anymore! ”
“All right, all right, I won ’t tell him, then! ” said Harry irritably. He got to
his feet. “I’m going to bed. Tell Ron for me, will you? ”
“Oh no, ” said Hermione, looking relieved, “if you ’re going that means I
can go without bein g rude too, I ’m absolutely exhausted and I want to
make some more hats tomorrow. Listen, you can help me if you like, it ’s
quite fun, I ’m getting better, I can do patterns and bob - bles and all sorts
of things now. ”
Harry looked into her face, which was s hining with glee, and tried to
look as though he was vaguely tempted by this offer.
“Er . . . no, I don ’t think I will, thanks, ” he said. “Er — not tomor - row.
I’ve got loads of homework to do. . . . ”
And he traipsed off to the boys ’ stairs, leaving her looking slightly
disappointed behind him.















 278 ‘

C H A P T E R F O U R T E
E N










PERCY AND
PADFOOT




arry was the first to awake in his dormitory next morning.
H
He lay for a moment watching dust swirl in the chink of
sunlight falling through the gap in his four -poster ’s hangings and sa -
vored the thought that it was Saturday. The first week of term seemed to
have dragged on forever, like one gigantic History of Magic lesson.
Judging by the sleepy silence and the freshly minted look of that beam of
sunlight, it was just after daybreak. He pulled open the cur - tains around
his bed, got up, and started to dress. The only sound apart from the
distant twittering of birds was the slow, deep breathing of his fellow

Gryffindors. He opened his schoolbag carefully, pulled out parchment
and quill, and head ed out of the dormitory for the common room.
Making straight for his favorite squashy old armchair beside the now
extinct fire, Harry settled himself down comfortably and un - rolled his
parchment while looking around the room. The detritus of crumpled -up
bits of parchment, old Gobstones, empty ingredient jars, and candy
wrappers that usually covered the common room at the end of each day
was gone, as were all Hermione ’s elf hats. Wondering
 279 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

vaguely how many elves had now been set free whether they wanted to
be or not, Harry uncorked his ink bottle, dipped his quill into it, and then
held it suspended an inch above the smooth yellowish sur - face of his
parchment, thinking hard. . . . But after a minute or so he found himself
staring into the empty grate, at a complete loss for what to say.
He could now appreciate how hard it had been for Ron and Hermione
to write him letters over the summer. How was he sup - posed to tell
Sirius everyt hing that had happened over the past week and pose all the
questions he was burning to ask without giving po - tential letter -thieves
a lot of information he did not want them to have?
He sat quite motionless for a while, gazing into the fireplace, then, finally
coming to a decision, he dipped his quill into the ink bottle once more
and set it resolutely upon the parchment.

Dear Snuffles,
Hope you ’re okay, the first week back here ’s been terrible, I ’m
really glad it ’s the weekend.
We ’ve got a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Pro - fessor
Umbridge. She ’s nearly as nice as your mum. I ’m writing because that thing
I wrote to you about last summer happened
again last night when I was doing a detention with Umbridge.
We ’re all missing our biggest friend, we hope he ’ll be back soon.
Please write back quickly.
Best,




Harry reread this letter several times, trying to see it from the point of
view of an outsider. He could not see how they would know what he was
talking about — or who he was talking to — just from reading
 280 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

this letter. He did hope Sirius would pick up the hint about Hagrid and
tell them when he might be back: Harry did not want to ask di - rectly in
case it drew too much attention to what Hagrid might be up to while he
was not at Hogwarts.
Considering it was a very short letter it had taken a long time to write;
sunlight had crept halfway across the room while he had been working
on it, and he could now hear distant sounds of movement from the
dormitories above. Sealing the parchment carefully he climbed through
the portrait hole and headed off for the Owlery.
“I would not go that way if I were you, ” said Nearly Headless Nick,
drifting disconcertingly through a wall just ahead of him as he walked
down the passage. “Peeves is planning an amusing joke on the next
person to pass the bust of Paracelsus halfway down the corridor. ” “Does
it involve Paracelsus falling on top of the p erson ’s head? ” asked Harry.
“Funnily enough, it does, ” said Nearly Headless Nick in a bored
voice. “Subtlety has never been Peeves ’s strong point. I ’m off to try and
find the Bloody Baron. . . . He might be able to put a stop to it.
. . . See you, Har ry. . . . ”
“Yeah, ’bye, ” said Harry and instead of turning right, he turned left,
taking a longer but safer route up to the Owlery. His spirits rose as he
walked past window after window showing brilliantly blue sky; he had
training later, he would be ba ck on the Quidditch pitch at last —
Something brushed his ankles. He looked down and saw the care - taker ’s
skeletal gray cat, Mrs. Norris, slinking past him. She turned lamplike
yellow eyes upon him for a moment before disappearing be - hind a
statue of Wil fred the Wistful.
“I’m not doing anything wrong, ” Harry called after her. She had the
unmistakable air of a cat that was off to report to her boss, yet Harry
could not see why; he was perfectly entitled to walk up to the Owlery on
a Saturday morning.
The sun was high in the sky now and when Harry entered the
 281 ‘

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Owlery the glassless windows dazzled his eyes; thick silvery beams of
sunlight crisscrossed the circular room in which hund reds of owls nes -
tled on rafters, a little restless in the early morning light, some clearly just
returned from hunting. The straw -covered floor crunched a little as he
stepped across tiny animal bones, craning his neck for a sight of Hedwig.
“There you are, ” he said, spotting her somewhere near the very top of
the vaulted ceiling. “Get down here, I ’ve got a letter for you. ” With a low
hoot she stretched her great white wings and soared down onto his
shoulder.
“Right, I know this says ‘Snuffl es ’ on the outside, ” he told her, giv - ing
her the letter to clasp in her beak and, without knowing exactly why,
whispering, “but it ’s for Sirius, okay? ”
She blinked her amber eyes once and he took that to mean that she
understood.
“Safe flight, then ,” said Harry and he carried her to one of the win - dows;
with a moment ’s pressure on his arm Hedwig took off into the
blindingly bright sky. He watched her until she became a tiny black speck
and vanished, then switched his gaze to Hagrid ’s hut, clearly v is- ible
from this window, and just as clearly uninhabited, the chimney
smokeless, the curtains drawn.
The treetops of the Forbidden Forest swayed in a light breeze. Harry
watched them, savoring the fresh air on his face, thinking about
Quidditch later . . . and then he saw it. A great, reptilian winged horse,
just like the ones pulling the Hogwarts carriages, with leathery black
wings spread wide like a pterodactyl ’s, rose up out of the trees like a
grotesque, giant bird. It soared in a great circle and then plunged once
more into the trees. The whole thing had happened so quickly Harry
could hardly believe what he had seen, except that his heart was
hammering madly.
The Owlery door opened behind him. He leapt in shock, and turn - ing
quickly, saw Cho Ch ang holding a letter and a parcel in her hands.
 282 ‘

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“Hi, ” said Harry automatically.
“Oh . . . hi, ” she said breathlessly. “I didn ’t think anyone would be up
here this early. . . . I only remembered five minutes ago, it ’s my mum ’s
birthday. ”
She held up the parcel.
“Right, ” said Harry. His brain seemed to have jammed. He wanted to say
something funny and interesting, but the memory of that terri - ble
win ged horse was fresh in his mind.
“Nice day, ” he said, gesturing to the windows. His insides seemed to
shrivel with embarrassment. The weather. He was talking about the
weather. . . .
“Yeah, ” said Cho, looking around for a suitable owl. “Good Quid -
ditch conditions. I haven ’t been out all week, have you? ”
“No, ” said Harry.
Cho had selected one of the school barn owls. She coaxed it down onto
her arm where it held out an obliging leg so that she could attach the
parcel.
“Hey, has Gryffindor go t a new Keeper yet? ” she asked. “Yeah, ” said
Harry. “It’s my friend Ron Weasley, d ’you know him? ” “The
Tornado -hater? ” said Cho rather coolly. “Is he any good? ” “Yeah, ” said
Harry, “I think so. I didn ’t see his tryout, though, I was in detention. ”
Cho loo ked up, the parcel only half -attached to the owl ’s legs. “That
Umbridge woman ’s foul, ” she said in a low voice. “Putting you in
detention just because you told the truth about how — how
— how he died. Everyone heard about it, it was all over the school. You
were really brave standing up to her like that. ”
Harry ’s insides reinflated so rapidly he felt as though he might ac - tually
float a few inches off the dropping -strewn floor. Who cared about a
stupid flying horse, Cho thought he had been really br ave. . . . For a
moment he considered accidentally -on -purpose showing her his cut
hand as he helped her tie her parcel onto her owl. . . . But the very
 283 ‘

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instant that this thrilling thought occurred, the Owlery door opened
again.
Filch, the caretaker, came wheezing into the room. There were pur - ple
patches on his sunken, veined cheeks, his jowls were aquiver and his thin
gray hair disheveled; he had obviously run here. Mrs. Norris came
trotting at his heels, gazing up at the owls overhead and mewing hungrily.
There was a restless shifting of wings from above, and a large brown owl
snapped his beak in a menacing fashion.
“Aha! ” said Filch, taking a flat -footed step toward Harry, his pouchy
cheeks trembling with anger. “I’ve had a tip -off that you are intending to
place a massive order for Dungbombs! ”
Harry folded his arms and stared at the caretaker.
“Who told you I was ordering Dungbombs? ”
Cho was looking from Harry to Filch, als o frowning; the barn owl on her
arm, tired of standing on one leg, gave an admonitory hoot but she
ignored it.
“I have my sources, ” said Filch in a self -satisfied hiss. “Now hand over
whatever it is you ’re sending. ”
Feeling immensely thankful that he had not dawdled in posting off the
letter, Harry said, “I can ’t, it ’s gone. ”
“ Gone ?” said Filch, his face contorting with rage.
“Gone, ” said Harry calmly.
Filch opened his mouth furiously, mouthed for a few seconds, then
raked Harry ’s robes with his eyes. “How do I know you haven ’t got it in
your pocket? ”
“Because — ”
“I saw him send it, ” said Cho angrily.
Filch rounded on her.
“You saw him — ?”
“That ’s right, I saw him, ” she said fiercely.
There was a moment ’s pause in whi ch Filch glared at Cho and Cho
 284 ‘

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glared right back, then the caretaker turned and shuffled back toward the
door. He stopped with his hand on the handle and looked back at Harry.
“If I get so much as a whiff of a Dungbomb . . . ” He stumped off down
the stairs. Mrs. Norris cast a last longing look at the owls and followed
him.
Harry and Cho looked at each other.
“Thanks, ” Harry said.
“No problem, ” said Cho, finally fixing the parcel to the barn owl ’s
other leg, her face slightly pink. “You weren ’t ordering Dungbombs,
were you? ”
“No, ” said Harry.
“I wonder why he thought you were, then? ” she said, as she carried the
owl to the window.
Harry shrugged; he was quite as mystified by that as she was, though,
oddly, it was not bothering him very much at the moment. They left the
Owlery together. At the entrance of a corridor that led toward the west
wing of the castle, Cho said, “I’m going th is way. Well, I ’ll . . . I ’ll see you
around, Harry. ”
“Yeah . . . see you. ”
She smiled at him and departed. He walked on, feeling quietly elated. He
had managed to have an entire conversation with her and
not embarrassed himself once. . . . You were really brave standing up to
her like that. . . . She had called him brave. . . . She did not hate him
for being alive. . . .
Of course, she had preferred Cedric, he knew that. . . . Though if he ’d
only asked her to the ball before Cedric had, things might have turned
out differently. . . . She had seemed sincerely sorry that she had to refuse
when Harry had asked her. . . .
“Morning, ” Harry said brightly to Ron and Hermione, joining them at
th e Gryffindor table in the Great Hall.
 285 ‘

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“What are you looking so pleased about? ” said Ron, eyeing Harry in
surprise.
“Erm . . . Quidditch later, ” said Harry happily, pulling a large plat - ter of
bacon and eggs toward him.
“Oh . . . yeah . . . ” said Ron. He put down the bit of toast he was eating
and took a large swig of pumpkin juice. Then he said, “Listen
. . . you don ’t fancy going out a bit earlier with me, do you? Just to — er
— give me some practice before training? So I can, you know, get my
eye in a bit . . . ”
“Yeah, okay, ” said Harry.
“Look, I don ’t think you should, ” said Hermione seriously, “you ’re both
really behind on homework as it — ”
But she broke off; the morning post was arriving and, as usual, the
Daily Prophet was soaring toward her in the beak of a screech owl,
which landed perilously close to the sugar bowl and held out a leg;
Hermione pushed a Knut into its leather pouch, took the newspaper,
and scanned the front page critically as the owl took off again. “Anything
interesting? ” said Ron; Harry smiled — he knew Ron was keen to get her
off the subject of homework.
“No, ” she s ighed, “just some guff about the bass player in the Weird
Sisters getting married. . . . ”
She opened the paper and disappeared behind it. Harry devoted himself
to another helping of eggs and bacon; Ron was staring up at the high
windows, looking slightl y preoccupied.
“Wait a moment, ” said Hermione suddenly. “Oh no . . . Sirius! ” “What ’s
happened? ” said Harry, and he snatched at the paper so violently that it
ripped down the middle so that he and Hermione were holding half
each.
“‘The Ministry of Magic has received a tip -off from a reliable source
that Sirius Black, notorious mass murderer . . . blah blah blah . . . is cur -
rently hiding in London !’” Hermione read from her half in an anguished
whisper.
 286 ‘

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“Lucius Malfoy, I ’ll bet anything, ” said Harry in a low, furious
voice. “He did recognize Sirius on the platform. . . . ”
“What? ” said Ron, looking alarmed. “You didn ’t say — ”
“Shh! ” said the other two.
“. . . ‘ Ministry warns Wizarding community that Black is very danger -
ous . . . killed thirteen people . . . broke out of Azkaban . . . ’ the usual
rubbish, ” Hermione concluded, laying down her half of the paper and
looking fearfully at Harry and Ron. “Well, he just won ’t be able to leave
the house again, that ’s all, ” she whispered. “Dumbledore did warn him
not to. ”
Harry looked down glumly at the bit of the Prophet he had torn off.
Most of the page was devoted to an advertisement for Madame Malkin ’s
Robes for All Occasions, which was apparently having a sale. “Hey! ” he
said, flattening it down so Hermione and Ron could both see it. “Look at
this! ”
“I’ve got all the robes I want, ” said Ron.
“No, ” said Harry, “look . . . this little piece here . . . ” Ron and Hermione
bent closer to read it; the item was barely an inch long and placed right at
the bottom of a column. It was head - lined:
TRESPASS AT MINISTRY
Sturgis Podmore, 38, of number two, Laburnum
Gardens, Clapham, has appeared in front of the
Wizengamot charged with trespass and attempted
robbery at the Ministry of Magic on 31st August.
Podmore was arrested by Ministry of Magic watch -
wizard Eric Munch, who found him attempting to
force his way through a to p-security door at one
o’clock in the morning. Podmore, who refused to
speak in his own defense, was convicted on both
charges and sentenced to six months in Azkaban.
 287 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“Sturgis Podmore? ” said Ron slowly, “but he ’s that bloke who looks like
his head ’s been thatched, isn ’t he? He ’s one of the Ord — ”
“Ron, shh !” said Hermione, casting a terrified look around them.
“Six months in Azkaban! ” whispered Harry, shocked. “Just for try - ing
to get through a door! ”
“Don ’t be silly, it wasn ’t just for trying to get through a door — what on
earth was he doing at the Ministry of Magic at one o ’clock in the
morning? ” breathed Hermione.
“D ’you reckon he was doing something for the Order? ” Ron mu ttered.
“Wait a moment. . . . ” said Harry slowly. “Sturgis was supposed to come
and see us off, remember? ”
The other two looked at him.
“Yeah, he was supposed to be part of our guard going to King ’s Cross,
remember? And Moody was all annoyed because he didn ’t turn up, so
that doesn ’t seem like he was supposed to be on a job for them, does it? ”
“Well, maybe they didn ’t expect him to get caught, ” said Hermione.
“It could be a frame -up! ” Ron exclai med excitedly. “No — listen! ” he
went on, dropping his voice dramatically at the threatening look on
Hermione ’s face. “The Ministry suspects he ’s one of Dumbledore ’s
lot so — I dunno — they lured him to the Ministry, and he wasn ’t
trying to get throu gh a door at all! Maybe they ’ve just made some - thing
up to get him! ”
There was a pause while Harry and Hermione considered this. Harry
thought it seemed far -fetched; Hermione, on the other hand, looked
rather impressed and said, “Do you know, I wouldn ’t be at all surprised
if that were true. ”
She folded up her half of the newspaper thoughtfully. When Harry laid
down his knife and fork she seemed to come out of a reverie.
 288 ‘

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“Right, well, I think we should tackle that essay for Sprout on Self -
Fertilizing Shrubs first, and if we ’re lucky we ’ll be able to start McGo -
nagall ’s Inanimatus Conjurus before lunch. . . . ”
Harry felt a small twinge of guilt at the thought of the pile of homework
awaiting him upstairs, but the sky was a clear, exhilarating blue, and he
had not been on his Firebolt for a week. . . .
“I mean, we can do it tonight, ” said Ron, as he and Harry walked down
the sloping la wns toward the Quidditch pitch, their broom - sticks over
their shoulders, Hermione ’s dire warnings that they would fail all their
O.W.L.s still ringing in their ears. “And we ’ve got tomor - row. She gets
too worked up about work, that ’s her trouble. . . . ” There was a pause
and he added, in a slightly more anxious tone, “D ’you think she meant it
when she said we weren ’t copying from her? ” “Yeah, I do, ” said Harry.
“Still, this is important too, we ’ve got to practice if we want to stay on
the Quidditch team. . . . ”
“Yeah, that ’s right, ” said Ron in a heartened tone. “And we have
got
plenty of time to do it all. . . . ”
Harry glanced over to his right as they approached the Quidditch pitch,
to where the trees of the Forbidden Forest were swaying darkly.
Nothing flew out of them; the sky was empty but for a few distant owls
fluttering around the Owlery Tower. He had enough to worry about; the
flying horse wasn ’t doing him any harm: He pushed it out of his mind.
They collected balls from the cupboard in the changing room and set to
work, Ron guarding the three tall goalposts, Harry playing Chaser and
trying to get the Quaffle past Ron. Harry thought Ron was pretty good;
he blocked three -quarters of the goals Harry at - tempted to put past him
and played b etter the longer they practiced. After a couple of hours they
returned to the school, where they ate lunch, during which Hermione
made it quite clear that she thought they were irresponsible, then
returned to the Quidditch pitch for the
 289 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

real training session. All their teammates but Angelina were already in
the changing room when they entered.
“All right, Ron? ” said George, winking at him.
“Yeah, ” said Ron, who had become quieter and quieter all the way down
to the pitch.
“Ready to show us all up, Ickle Prefect? ” said Fred, emerging
tousle -haired from the neck of his Quidditch robes, a slightly mali - cious
grin on his face.
“Shut up, ” said Ron, stony -faced, pulling on his own team robes for the
first time. They fitted him well considering they had been Oliver Wood ’s,
who was rather broader in the shoulder.
“Okay everyone, ” said Angelina, entering from the Captain ’s office,
already cha nged. “Let ’s get to it; Alicia and Fred, if you can just bring the
ball crate out for us. Oh, and there are a couple of people out there
watching but I want you to just ignore them, all right? ”
Something in her would -be casual voice made Harry think he might
know who the uninvited spectators were, and sure enough, when they
left the changing room for the bright sunlight of the pitch it was to a
storm of catcalls and jeers from the Slytherin Quidditch team and
assorted hangers -on, who were grouped halfway up the empty stands
and whose voices echoed loudly around the stadium. “What ’s that
Weasley ’s riding? ” Malfoy called in his sneering drawl. “Why would
anyone put a Flying Charm on a moldy old log like that? ”
Crabbe, Goyle, and Pansy Parkinson guffawed an d shrieked with
laughter. Ron mounted his broom and kicked off from the ground and
Harry followed him, watching his ears turn red from behind. “Ignore
them, ” he said, accelerating to catch up with Ron. “We ’ll see who ’s
laughing after we play them. . . . ”
“Exactly the attitude I want, Harry, ” said Angelina approvingly, soaring
around them with the Quaffle under her arm and slowing to hover on
the spot in front of her airborne team. “Okay everyone, we ’re
 290 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

going to start with some passes just to warm up, the whole team please
— ”
“Hey, Johnson, what ’s with that hairstyle anyway? ” shrieked Pansy
Parkinson from below. “Why would anyone want to look like they ’ve
got worms coming out of their head? ”
Angelina swept her long braided hair out of her face and said calmly,
“Spread out, then, and let ’s see what we can do. . . . ” Harry reversed away
from the others to the far side of the pitch. Ron fell back toward the
opposite goal. Angel ina raised the Quaffle with one hand and threw it
hard to Fred, who passed to George, who passed to Harry, who passed
to Ron, who dropped it.
The Slytherins, led by Malfoy, roared and screamed with laughter. Ron,
who had pelted toward the ground to catch the Quaffle before it landed,
pulled out of the dive untidily, so that he slipped sideways on his broom,
and returned to playing height, blushing. Harry saw Fred and George
exchange looks, but uncharacteristically neither of them said anything,
for which h e was grateful.
“Pass it on, Ron, ” called Angelina, as though nothing had happened.
Ron threw the Quaffle to Alicia, who passed back to Harry, who passed
to George. . . .
“Hey, Potter, how ’s your scar feeling? ” called Malfoy. “Sure you don ’t
need a lie -down? It must be, what, a whole week since you were in the
hospital wing, that ’s a record for you, isn ’t it? ”
Fred passed to Angelina; she reverse passed to Harry, who had not been
expecting it, but caught it in the very tips of his fingers and passed it
quickly to Ron, who lunged for it and missed by inches. “Come on now,
Ron, ” said Angelina crossly, as Ron dived for the ground again, chasing
the Quaffle. “Pay attention. ”
It would have been hard to say whether Ron ’s face or the Quaffle was a
deeper scarlet when he returned again to playing height. Malfoy and the
rest of the Slytherin team were howling with laughter.
On his third attempt, Ron caught the Quaffle; perhaps out of relief
 291 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

he passed it on so enthusiastically that it soared straight through Katie ’s
outstretched hands and hit her hard in the face.
“Sorry! ” Ron groaned, zooming forward to see whether he had done any
damage.
“Get back in position, she ’s fine! ” barked Angelina. “But as you ’re
passing to a teammate, do try not to knock her off her broom, won ’t
you? We ’ve got Bludgers for that! ”
Katie ’s nose was bleeding. Down below the Slytherins were stamp - ing
their feet and jeering. Fred and George converged on Katie. “Here, take
this, ” Fred told her, handing her something small and purple from out of
his pocket. “It’ll clear it up in no time. ”
“All right, ” called Angelina, “Fred, George, go and get your bats and a
Bludger; Ron, get up to the goalposts, Harry, release the Snitch when I
say so. We ’re going to aim for Ron ’s goal, obviously. ”
Harry zoomed off after the twins to fetch the Snitch.
“Ron ’s making a right pig ’s ear of things, isn ’t he? ” muttered Ge orge, as
the three of them landed at the crate containing the balls and opened it
to extract one of the Bludgers and the Snitch.
“He ’s just nervous, ” said Harry. “He was fine when I was practicing with
him this morning. ”
“Yeah, well, I hope he hasn ’t pea ked too soon, ” said Fred gloomily.
They returned to the air. When Angelina blew her whistle, Harry
released the Snitch and Fred and George let fly the Bludger; from that
moment on, Harry was barely aware of what the others were doing. It
was his job to rec apture the tiny fluttering golden ball that was worth a
hundred and fifty points to the Seeker ’s team and doing so required
enormous speed and skill. He accelerated, rolling and swerving in and
out of the Chasers, the warm autumn air whipping his face and the
distant yells of the Slytherins so much meaningless roaring in his ears.
. . . But too soon, the whistle brought him to a halt again.
“Stop — stop – STOP! ” screamed Angelina. “Ron — you ’re not
covering your middle post! ”
 292 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

Harry looked around at Ron, who was hovering in front of the left -
hand hoop, leaving the other two completely unprotected.
“Oh . . . sorry . . . ”
“You keep shifting around while you ’re watching the Chasers! ” said
Angelina. “Either stay in center position until you have to move to de -
fend a hoop, or else circle the hoops, but don ’t drift vaguely off to one
side, that ’s how you let in the last three goals! ”
“Sorry . . . ” Ron repeated, his red face shining like a beacon against the
bright blue sky.
“And Katie, can ’t you do something about that nosebleed? ” “It’s just
getting worse! ” said Katie thickly, attempting to stem the flow with her
sleeve.
Harry glanced around at Fred, who was l ooking anxious and check - ing
his pockets. He saw Fred pull out something purple, examine it for a
second, and then look around at Katie, evidently horrorstruck. “Well,
let ’s try again, ” said Angelina. She was ignoring the Slyth -
erins, who had now set up a chant of “ Gryffindor are losers, Gryffindor
are losers, ” but there was a certain rigidity about her seat on the broom
nevertheless.
This time they had been flying for barely three minutes when Angelina ’s
whistle sounded. Harry, who had just sighted the Snitch circling the
opposite goalpost, pulled up feeling distinctly aggrieved. “What now? ”
he said impatiently to Alicia, who was nearest.
“Katie, ” she said shortly.
Harry turned and saw Angelina, Fred , and George all flying as fast as
they could toward Katie. Harry and Alicia sped toward her too. It was
plain that Angelina had stopped training just in time; Katie was now
chalk -white and covered in blood.
“She needs the hospital wing, ” said Angelina.
“We ’ll take her, ” said Fred. “She — er — might have swallowed a Blood
Blisterpod by mistake — ”
“Well, there ’s no point continuing with no Beaters and a Chaser
 293 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

gone, ” said Angelina glumly, as Fred and George zoomed off toward the
castle supporting Katie between them. “Come on, let ’s go and get
changed. ”
The Slytherins continued to chant as they trailed back into the changing
rooms.
“How was practice? ” asked Hermione rather coolly half an hour later, as
Harry and Ron climbed through the portrait hole into the Gryffindor
common room.
“It was — ” Harry began.
“Completely lousy, ” said Ron in a hollow voice, sinking into a chair
beside Hermione. She looked up at Ron and her frostiness seemed to
melt.
“Well, it was only your first one, ” she said consolingly, “it’s bound to
take time to — ”
“Who said it was me who made it lousy? ” snapped Ron. “No
one, ” said Hermione, looking taken aback, “I thought — ” “You
thought I was bound to be rubbish? ”
“No, of course I didn ’t! Look, you said it was lousy so I just — ” “I’m
going to get started on some homework, ” said Ron angrily and stomped
off to the staircase to the boys ’ dormitories and v anished from sight.
Hermione turned to Harry.
“ Was he lousy? ”
“No, ” said Harry loyally.
Hermione raised her eyebrows.
“Well, I suppose he could ’ve played better, ” Harry muttered, “but it was
only the first training session, like you said. . . . ”
Neither Harry nor Ron seemed to make much headway with their
homework that night. Harry knew Ron was too preoccupied with how
badly he had performed at Quidditch practice and he himself
was having difficulty in getting the chant of “ Gryffindor are lose rs ” out
of his head.
They spent the whole of Sunday in the common room, buried in
 294 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

their books while the room around them filled up, then emptied: It was
another clear, fine day and most of their fellow Gryffindors spent the
day out in the grounds, enjoying what might well be some of the last
sunshine that year. By the evening Harry felt as though somebody had
been beating his brain against the inside o f his skull.
“You know, we probably should try and get more homework done
during the week, ” Harry muttered to Ron, as they finally laid aside
Professor McGonagall ’s long essay on the Inanimatus Conjurus spell
and turned miserably to Professor Sinistra ’s e qually long and difficult
essay about Jupiter ’s moons.
“Yeah, ” said Ron, rubbing slightly bloodshot eyes and throwing his fifth
spoiled bit of parchment into the fire beside them. “Listen . . . shall we
just ask Hermione if we can have a look at what sh e’s done? ” Harry
glanced over at her; she was sitting with Crookshanks on her lap and
chatting merrily to Ginny as a pair of knitting needles flashed in midair in
front of her, now knitting a pair of shapeless elf socks. “No, ” he said
heavily, “you know sh e won ’t let us. ”
And so they worked on while the sky outside the windows became
steadily darker; slowly, the crowd in the common room began to thin
again. At half -past eleven, Hermione wandered over to them, yawning.
“Nearly done? ”
“No, ” said Ron shortly.
“Jupiter ’s biggest moon is Ganymede, not Callisto, ” she said, pointing
over Ron ’s shoulder at a line in his Astronomy essay, “and it ’s Io that ’s
got the volcanos. ”
“Thanks, ” snarled Ron, scratching out the offending sentences.
“Sorry , I only — ”
“Yeah, well, if you ’ve just come over here to criticize — ”
“Ron — ”
“I haven ’t got time to listen to a sermon, all right, Hermione, I ’m up to
my neck in it here — ”
 295 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“No — look! ”
Hermione was pointing to the nearest window. Harry and Ron both
looked over. A handsome screech owl was standing on the win - dowsill,
gazing into the room at Ron.
“Isn ’t that Hermes? ” said Hermione, sounding amazed. “Blimey, it is! ”
said Ron quietly, th rowing down his quill and get - ting to his feet.
“What ’s Percy writing to me for? ”
He crossed to the window and opened it; Hermes flew inside, landed
upon Ron ’s essay, and held out a leg to which a letter was at - tached. Ron
took it off and the owl depart ed at once, leaving inky footprints across
Ron ’s drawing of the moon Io.
“That ’s definitely Percy ’s handwriting, ” said Ron, sinking back into
his chair and staring at the words on the outside of the scroll: To
Ronald Weasley, Gryffindor House, Hogwarts. He looked up at the other
two. “What d ’you reckon? ”
“Open it! ” said Hermione eagerly. Harry nodded. Ron unrolled the
scroll and began to read. The farther down the parchment his eyes
traveled, the more prono unced became his scowl. When he had finished
reading, he looked disgusted. He thrust the let - ter at Harry and
Hermione, who leaned toward each other to read it together:

Dear Ron,
I have only just heard (from no less a person than the Minister of Magic
himself, who has it from your new teacher, Professor
Umbridge) that you have become a Hogwarts prefect.
I was most pleasantly surprised when I heard this news and must firstly offer
my congratulations. I must admit that I have al - ways been a fraid that you
would take what we might call the “Fred and George ” route, rather than
following in my footsteps, so you can imagine my feelings on hearing you have
stopped flouting
authority and have decided to shoulder some real responsibility.
 296 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

But I want to give you more than congratulations, Ron, I want to give you
some advice, which is why I am sending this at night rather than by the usual
morning post. Hopefully you will be able to read this away from prying eyes
and avoid awkward
questions.
From something the Minister let slip when telling me you are now a prefect,
I gather that you are still seeing a lot of Harry Pot - ter. I must tell you, Ron,
that nothing could pu t you in danger of losing your badge more than continued
fraternization with that
boy. Yes, I am sure you are surprised to hear this — no doubt you
will say that Potter has always been Dumbledore ’s favorite — but
I feel bound to tell you that Dumbledore may not be in charge at Hogwarts
much longer and the people who count have a very dif -
ferent — and probably more accurate — view of Potters behav -
ior. I shall say no more here, but if you look at the Daily Prophet
tomorrow you will get a good idea of the way the wind is blow -
ing — and see if you can spot yours truly!
Seriously, Ron, you do not want to be tarred with the same brush as Potter,
it could be very damaging to your future prospects, and I am talking here
about life after school too. As you must be aware, given that our father
escorted him to court, Pot - ter had a disciplinary hearing this summer in front
of the whole Wizengamot and he did not come out of it looking too good. He
got off on a mere technicality if you ask me and many of the peo -
ple I ’ve spoken to remain convinced of his guilt.
It may be that you are afraid to sever ties with Potter — I
know that he can be unbalanced and, for all I know, violent —
but if you have any worries about this, or have spotted anything else in Potter ’s
behavior that is troubling you, I urge you to speak to Dolores Umbridge, a
really delightful woman, who I know
will be only too happy to advise you.
This leads me to my other bit of advice. As I have hinted
 297 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

above, Dumbledore ’s regime at Hogwarts may soon be over. Your loyalty,
Ron, should be not to him, but to the school and the Min - istry. I am very
sorry to hear that so far Professor Umbridge is en - countering very little
cooperation from staff as she strives to make those necessary changes within
Hogwarts that the Ministry so ar - dently desires (although she should find
this easier from next
week — again, see the Prophet tomorrow!). I shall say only this
— a student who shows himself willing to help Professor Um - bridge now
may be very well placed for Head Boyship in a couple
of years!
I am sorry that I was unable to see more of you over the sum - mer. It pains
me to criticize our parents, but I am afraid I can no longer live under their roof
while they remain mixed up with the dangerous crowd around Dumbledore (if
you are writing to Moth er at any point, you might tell her that a certain
Sturgis Podmore, who is a great friend of Dumbledore ’s, has recently been sent
to Azkaban for trespass at the Ministry. Perhaps that will open their eyes to
the kind of petty criminals with whom they are c urrently rubbing shoulders).
I count myself very lucky to have es -
caped the stigma of association with such people — the Minister
really could not be more gracious to me — and I do hope, Ron,
that you will not allow family ties to blind you to the misguided nature of our
parents ’ beliefs and actions either. I sincerely hope that, in time, they will
realize how mistaken they were and I shall, of course, be ready to accept a full
apology when that day
comes.
Please think over what I have said most carefully, particularly the bit about
Harry Potter, and congratulations again on becom -
ing prefect.
Your brother,


 298 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

Harry looked up at Ron.
“Well, ” he said, trying to sound as though he found the whole thing a
joke, “if you want to — er — what is it? ” (He checked Percy ’s letter.)
“Oh yeah — ‘sever ties ’ with me, I swear I won ’t get violent. ” “Give it
back, ” said Ron, holding out his hand. “He i s — ” Ron said jerkily,
tearing Percy ’s letter in half, “the world ’s” — he tore it into
quarters — “biggest ” — he tore it into eighths — “ git. ” He threw the
pieces into the fire.
“Come on, we ’ve got to get this finished some time before dawn, ” he
sa id briskly to Harry, pulling Professor Sinistra ’s essay back toward him.
Hermione was looking at Ron with an odd expression on her face.
“Oh, give them here, ” she said abruptly.
“What? ” said Ron.
“Give them to me, I ’ll look t hrough them and correct them, ” she said.
“Are you serious? Ah, Hermione, you ’re a lifesaver, ” said Ron, “what
can I — ?”
“What you can say is, ‘We promise we ’ll never leave our homework this
late again, ’” she said, holding out both hands for their essay s, but she
looked slightly amused all the same.
“Thanks a million, Hermione, ” said Harry weakly, passing over his essay
and sinking back into his armchair, rubbing his eyes.
It was now past midnight and the common room was deserted but for
the three of them and Crookshanks. The only sound was that of
Hermione ’s quill scratching out sentences here and there on their essays
and the ruffle of pages as she checked various facts in the refer - ence
books strewn across the table. Harry was exhausted. He also felt an odd,
sick, empty feeling in his stomach that had nothing to do with tiredness
and everything to do with the letter now curling blackly in the heart of
the fire.
He knew that half the people inside Hogwarts thought him
 299 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

strange, even mad; he knew that the Daily Prophet had been making
snide allusions to him for months, but there was something about see -
ing it written down like that in Percy ’s writing, about knowing th at Percy
was advising Ron to drop him and even to tell tales on him to Umbridge,
that made his situation real to him as nothing else had. He had known
Percy for four years, had stayed in his house during the summers, shared
a tent with him during the Quidd itch World Cup, had even been
awarded full marks by him in the second task of the Triwizard
Tournament last year, yet now, Percy thought him unbal - anced and
possibly violent.
And with a surge of sympathy for his godfather, Harry thought that
Sirius was probably the only person he knew who could really under -
stand how he felt at the moment, because Sirius was in the same situ -
ation; nearly everyone in the Wizarding world thought Sirius a dangerous
murderer and a great Voldemort supporter and he had had to live with
that knowledge for fourteen years. . . .
Harry blinked. He had just seen something in the fire that could not have
been there. It had flashed into sight and vanished immedi - ately. No . . .
it could not have been. . . . He had imag ined it because he had been
thinking about Sirius. . . .
“Okay, write that down, ” Hermione said to Ron, pushing his essay and a
sheet covered in her own writing back to Ron, “and then copy out this
conclusion that I ’ve written for you. ”
“Hermione, you are honestly the most wonderful person I ’ve ever met, ”
said Ron weakly, “and if I ’m ever rude to you again — ”
“— I’ll know you ’re back to normal, ” said Hermione. “Harry, yours is
okay except for this bit at the end, I think you must have mis -
heard P rofessor Sinistra, Europa ’s covered in ice, not mice — Harry? ”
Harry had slid off his chair onto his knees and was now crouching on the
singed and threadbare hearthrug, gazing into the flames. “Er — Harry? ”
said Ron uncertainly. “Why are you down there? ” “Because I ’ve just
seen Sirius ’s head in the fire, ” said Harry.
 300 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

He spoke quite calmly; after all, he had seen Sirius ’s head in this very fire
the previous year and talked to it too. Nevertheless, he could not be sure
that he had really seen it this time. . . . It had vanished so quickly. . . .
“Sirius ’s head? ” Hermione repeated. “You mean like when he wanted to
talk to you during th e Triwizard Tournament? But he
wouldn ’t do that now, it would be too — Sirius !”
She gasped, gazing at the fire; Ron dropped his quill. There in the middle
of the dancing flames sat Sirius ’s head, long dark hair falling around his
grinning face.
“I was starting to think you ’d go to bed before everyone else had
disappeared, ” he said. “I’ve been checking every hour. ”
“You ’ve been popping into the fire every hour? ” Harry said, half
laughing.
“Just for a few seconds to check if the coast was clear ye t.” “But what if
you ’d been seen? ” said Hermione anxiously. “Well, I think a girl — first
year by the look of her — might ’ve got a glimpse of me earlier, but don ’t
worry, ” Sirius said hastily, as Hermione clapped a hand to her mouth. “I
was gone the moment she looked back at me and I ’ll bet she just thought
I was an oddly shaped log or something. ”
“But Sirius, this is taking an awful risk — ” Hermione began. “You
sound like Molly, ” said Sirius. “This was the only way I could come up
with of answering Harr y’s letter without resorting to a code — and
codes are breakable. ”
At the mention of Harry ’s letter, Hermione and Ron had both turned to
stare at him.
“You didn ’t say you ’d written to Sirius! ” said Hermione accusingly. “I
forgot, ” said Harry, which w as perfectly true; his meeting with Cho in
the Owlery had driven everything before it out of his mind. “Don ’t look
at me like that, Hermione, there was no way anyone would have got
secret information out of it, was there, Sirius? ”
 301 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“No, it was very good, ” said Sirius, smiling. “Anyway, we ’d better be
quick, just in case we ’re disturbed — your scar. ”
“What about — ?” Ron began, but Hermione said quickly, “We ’ll tell
you afterward, go on, Sirius. ”
“Well, I know it can ’t be fun when it hurts, but we don ’t think it ’s
anything to really worry about. It kept aching all last year, didn ’t it? ”
“Yeah, and Dumbledore said it happened whenever Voldemort was
feeling a powerful emotion, ” sai d Harry, ignoring, as usual, Ron and
Hermione ’s winces. “So maybe he was just, I dunno, really angry or
something the night I had that detention. ”
“Well, now he ’s back it ’s bound to hurt more often, ” said Sirius. “So you
don ’t think it had anything to do with Umbridge touching me when I
was in detention with her? ” Harry asked.
“I doubt it, ” said Sirius. “I know her by reputation and I ’m sure she ’s
no Death Eater — ”
“She ’s foul enough to be one, ” said Harry darkly and Ron and Hermione
nodded vigorously in agreement.
“Yes, but the world isn ’t split into good people and Death Eaters, ” said
Sirius with a wry smile. “I know she ’s a nasty piece of work, though —
you should hear Remus talk about her. ”
“Does Lupin know her? ” asked Harry quickly, remembering Um -
bridge ’s comments about dangerous half -breeds during her first lesson.
“No, ” said Sirius, “but she drafted a bit of anti -werewolf legislation two
years ago that makes it almost impossible fo r him to get a job. ” Harry
remembered how much shabbier Lupin looked these days and his dislike
of Umbridge deepened even further.
“What ’s she got against werewolves? ” said Hermione angrily. “Scared of
them, I expect, ” said Sirius, smiling at her indign ation. “Apparently she
loathes part -humans; she campaigned to have mer - people rounded up
and tagged last year too. Imagine wasting your
 302 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

time and energy persecuting merpeople when there are little toerags like
Kreacher on the loose — ”
Ron laughed but Hermione looked upset.
“Sirius! ” she said reproachfully. “Honestly, if you made a bit of an ef -
fort with Kreacher I ’m sure he ’d respond, after all, you are the only
member of his family he ’s got left, and Professor Dumbledore said — ”
“So what are Umbridge ’s lessons like? ” Sirius interrupted. “Is she
training you all to kill half -breeds? ”
“No, ” said Harry, ignoring Hermione ’s affronted look at being cut off in
her defense of Kreacher. “She ’s not letting us use magic at all! ” “All we
do is read the stupid textbook, ” said Ron.
“Ah, well, that figures, ” said Sirius. “Our information from inside the
Ministry is that Fudge doesn ’t want you trained in combat. ”
“ Trained in combat ?” repeated Harry incredulously.
“What does he
think we ’re doing here, forming some sort of wizard army? ” “That ’s
exactly what he thinks you ’re doing, ” said Sirius, “or rather, that ’s exactly
what he ’s afraid Dumbledore ’s doing — forming his own private army,
with which he will be able to take on the Ministry of Magic. ”
There was a pause at this, then Ron said, “That ’s the stupidest thing I ’ve
ever heard, including all the stuff that Luna Lovegood co mes out with. ”
“So we ’re being prevented from learning Defense Against the Dark Arts
because Fudge is scared we ’ll use spells against the Ministry? ” said
Hermione, looking furious.
“Yep, ” said Sirius. “Fudge thinks Dumbledore will stop at nothing to
seize power. He ’s getting more paranoid about Dumbledore by the day.
It’s a matter of time before he has Dumbledore arrested on some
trumped -up charge. ”
This reminded Harry of Percy ’s letter.
“D ’you know if there ’s going to be anything about Dumbled ore in
 303 ‘

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

the Daily Prophet tomorrow? Only Ron ’s brother Percy reckons there
will be — ”
“I don ’t know, ” said Sirius, “I haven ’t seen anyone from the Order all
weekend, they ’re all busy. It ’s just been Kreacher and me here. . . . ”
There was a definite note of bitterness in Sirius ’s voice.
“So you haven ’t had any news about Hagrid, either? ” “Ah . . . ” said Sirius,
“well, he was supposed to be back by now, no one ’s sure what ’s
happened to him. ” Then, seeing their stricken faces, he added quickly,
“But Dumbledore ’s not worried, so don ’t you three get yourselves in a
state; I ’m sure Hagrid ’s fine. ”
“But if he was supposed to be back by now . . . ” said Hermione in a small,
worried voice.
“Mada me Maxime was with him, we ’ve been in touch with her and she
says they got separated on the journey home — but there ’s noth - ing to
suggest he ’s hurt or — well, nothing to suggest he ’s not perfectly okay. ”
Unconvinced, Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchanged w orried looks.
“Listen, don ’t go asking too many questions about Hagrid, ” said Sirius
hastily, “it’ll just draw even more attention to the fact that he ’s not back,
and I know Dumbledore doesn ’t want that. Hagrid ’s tough, he ’ll be
okay. ” And when they did not appear cheered by this, Sirius added,
“When ’s your next Hogsmeade weekend anyway? I was think - ing, we
got away with the dog disguise at the station, didn ’t we? I thought I
could — ”
“NO! ” said Harry and Hermione together, very lou dly.
“Sirius, didn ’t you see the Daily Prophet ?” said Hermione anxiously.
“Oh that, ” said Sirius, grinning, “they ’re always guessing where I am,
they haven ’t really got a clue — ”
“Yeah, but we think this time they have, ” said Harry. “Something
Mal foy said on the train made us think he knew it was you, and his fa -
ther was on the platform, Sirius — you know, Lucius Malfoy — so
 304 ‘

PERCY AND PADFOOT

don ’t come up here, whatever you do, if Malfoy recognizes you again
— ”
“All right, all right, I ’ve got the point, ” said Sirius. He looked most
displeased. “Just an idea, thought you might like to get together — ” “I
would, I just don ’t want you chucked back in Azkaban! ” said Harry.
There was a pause in which Sir ius looked out of the fire at Harry, a
crease between his sunken eyes.
“You ’re less like your father than I thought, ” he said finally, a defi - nite
coolness in his voice. “The risk would ’ve been what made it fun for
James. ”
“Look — ”
“Well, I ’d better get going, I can hear Kreacher coming down the stairs, ”
said Sirius, but Harry was sure he was lying. “I’ll write to tell you a time I
can make it back into the fire, then, shall I? If you can stand to risk it? ”
There was a tiny pop, and the pla ce where Sirius ’s head had been
was flickering flame once more.















 305 ‘

C H A P T E R F I F T E E
N










THE
HOGWARTS
HIGH INQUISITOR


hey had expected to have to comb Hermione ’s Daily Prophet
T
carefully next morning to find the article Percy had mentioned in his
letter. However, the departing delivery owl had barely cleared the top of
the milk jug when Hermione let out a huge gasp a nd flat - tened the
newspaper to reveal a large photograph of Dolores Um - bridge, smiling
widely and blinking slowly at them from beneath the headline:
MINISTRY SEEKS EDUCATIONAL REFORM
DOLORES UMBRIDGE APPOINTED FIRST -EVER “HIGH INQUISITOR ”

“‘High In quisitor ’?” said Harry darkly, his half -eaten bit of toast
slipping from his fingers. “What does that mean? ”
Hermione read aloud:
“ In a surprise move last night the Ministry of Magic passed new legis - lation giving
itself an unprecedented level of control at Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry.
“‘The Minister has been growing uneasy about goings -on at Hogwarts
 306 ‘

THE
HOGWARTS
HIGH INQUISITOR
for some time ,’ said Junior Assistant to the Minister, Percy Weasley. ‘He is
now responding to concerns voiced by anxious parents, who feel the school
may be moving in a direction they do not approve. ’
“ This is not the first time in recent weeks F udge has used new laws to effect
improvements at the Wizarding school. As recently as August 30th Educational
Decree Twenty -two was passed, to ensure that, in the event of the current headmaster
being unable to provide a candidate for a teaching
post, th e Ministry should select an appropriate person.
“‘That ’s how Dolores Umbridge came to be appointed to the teaching
staff at Hogwarts ,’ said Weasley last night. ‘ Dumbledore couldn ’t find any -
one, so the Minister put in Umbridge and of course, she ’s been an imme -
diate success — ’”
“She ’s been a WHAT? ” said Harry loudly.
“Wait, there ’s more, ” said Hermione grimly.
“‘— an immediate success, totally revolutionizing the teaching of
Defense Against the Dark Arts and providing the Minister with on -the -
ground feedback about what ’s really happening at Hogwarts. ’
“ It is this last function that the Ministry has now formalized with the passing of
Educational Decree Twenty -three, which creates the new posi -
tion of ‘ Hogwarts High Inquisitor. ’
“‘This is an exciting new phase in the Minister ’s plan to get to grips
with what some are calling the “ falling standards ” at
Hogwarts ,’ said
Weasley. ‘The Inquisitor will have powers to inspect her fellow educators
and make sure that they are coming up to scratch. Professor Umbridge has been offered
this position in addition to her own teaching post, and we are
delighted to say that she has accepted. ’
“ The Ministry ’s new moves have received enthusiastic support from
parents of students at Hogwarts.
“‘I feel much easier in my mind now that I know that Dumbledore is
being subjected to fair and objective e valuation, ’ said Mr. Lucius Malfoy,
41. speaking from his Wiltshire mansion last night. ‘Many of us with our
children ’s best interests at heart have been concerned about some of
 307 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Dumbledore ’s eccentric decisions in the last few years and will be glad to
know that the Ministry is keeping an eye on the situation. ’
“ Among those ‘eccentric decisions ’ are undoubtedly the controversial staff
appointments previously described in this newspape r, which have in - cluded the hiring
of werewolf Remus Lupin, half giant Rubeus Hagrid,
and delusional ex -Auror ‘ Mad -Eye ’ Moody.
“ Rumors abound, of course, that Albus Dumbledore, once Supreme Mugwump of
the International Confederation of Wizards and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot,
is no longer up to the task of managing the
prestigious school of Hogwarts.
“‘I think the appointment of the Inquisitor is a first step toward ensur -
ing that Hogwarts has a headmaster in whom we can all repose confidence ,’
said a Ministry insider last night.
“ Wizengamot elders Griselda Marchbanks and Tiberius Ogden have
resigned in protest at the introduction of the post of Inquisitor to Hogwa rts.
“‘ Hogwarts is a school, not an outpost of Cornelius Fudge ’s office ,’ said
Madam Marchbanks. ‘ This is a further disgusting attempt to discredit Al -
bus Dumbledore .’ (For a full account of Madam Marchbanks ’ alleged
links to subversive goblin groups, turn to page 17 ).”
Hermione finished reading and looked across the table at the other two.
“So now we know how we ended up with Umbridge! Fudge passed this
‘Educational Decree ’ and forced her on us! And now he ’s given her the
power to inspect other teachers! ” Hermione was breathing fast
and her eyes were very bright. “I can ’t believe this. It ’s outrageous. . . . ”
“I know it is, ” said Harry. He looked down at his right hand, clenched
upon the tabletop, and saw the f aint white outline of the words
Umbridge had forced him to cut into his skin.
But a grin was unfurling on Ron ’s face.
“What? ” said Harry and Hermione together, staring at him. “Oh, I can ’t
wait to see McGonagall inspected, ” said Ron happily. “Umbridge won ’t
know what ’s hit her. ”
 308 ‘

THE
HOGWARTS
HIGH INQUISITOR
“Well, come on, ” said Hermione, jumping up, “we ’d better get go - ing, if
she ’s inspecting Binns ’s class we don ’t want to be late. . . . ” But Professor
Umbridge was not inspecting their History of Magic lesson, which was
just as dull as the previous Monday, nor was she in Snape ’s dungeon
when they arrived for double Potions, where Harry ’s moonstone essay
was handed back to him with a large, spiky black D scrawled in an upper
corner.
“I have awarded you the grades you would have received if you pre -
sented this work in your O.W.L, ” said Snape with a smirk, as he swept
among them, passing back their homework. “This should give you a
realistic idea of what to expect in your examination. ”
Snape reached the front of the class and turned to face them. “The
general standard of this homework was abysmal. Most of you would
have failed had this been your examination. I expect to see a great deal
more effort for this week ’s essay on the various varieties of venom
antidotes, or I shall have to start handing out detentions to those dunces
who get D ’s.”
He smirked as Malfoy sniggered and said in a carrying whisper,
“Some people got D’s? Ha! ”
Harry realized that Hermione was looking sideways to see what grade he
had received; he slid his moonstone essay back into his bag as quickly as
possible, feeling that he would rather keep that information private.
Determined not to give Snape an excuse to fail him this lesson, Harry
read and reread every line of the instructions on the blackboard at least
three times before acting on them. His Strengthening Solution was not
precisely the clear turquoise shade of Hermione ’s but it was at least blue
rather than pink, like Neville ’s, and he delivered a flask of it to Snape ’s
desk at the end of the lesson with a feeling of mingled defi - ance and
relief.
“Well, that wasn ’t as bad as last week, was it? ” said Hermione, as they
climbed the steps out o f the dungeon and made their way across
 309 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

the entrance hall toward lunch. “And the homework didn ’t go too badly
either, did it? ”
When neither Ron nor Harry answered, she pressed on, “I mean, all
right, I didn ’t expect the top grade, not if he ’s marking to O.W.L.
standard, but a pass is quite encouraging at this stage, wouldn ’t you say? ”
Harry made a noncommittal noise in his throat. “Of course, a lot can
happen between now and the exam, we ’ve got plenty of time to improve,
but the grades we ’re getting now are a sort of baseline, aren ’t they?
Something we can build on . . . ”
They sat down together at the Gryffindor table.
“Obviously, I ’d have been thrilled if I ’d gotten an O — ”
“Hermione, ” said Ron sharply, “if you want to know what grades we got,
ask. ”
“I don ’t — I didn ’t mean — well, if you want to tell me — ” “I got a P, ”
said Ron, ladling soup into his bowl. “Happy? ” “Well, that ’s nothing to
be ashamed of, ” said Fred, who had just ar - rived at the table with
George and Lee Jordan and was sitting down on Harry ’s right. “Nothing
wrong with a good healthy P. ”
“But, ” said Hermione, “doesn ’t P stand for . . . ” “‘Poor, ’ yeah, ” said Lee
Jordan. “Still, better than D, isn ’t it? ‘Dre adful ’?”
Harry felt his face grow warm and faked a small coughing fit over his roll.
When he emerged from this he was sorry to find that Hermione was still
in full flow about O.W.L. grades.
“So top grade ’s O for ‘Outstanding, ’” she was saying, “and the n there ’s
A — ”
“No, E, ” George corrected her, “E for ‘Exceeds Expectations. ’ And I ’ve
always thought Fred and I should ’ve got E in everything, because we
exceeded expectations just by turning up for the exams. ”
They all laughed except Hermione, who plowed on, “So after E, it ’s A
for ‘Acceptable, ’ and that ’s the last pass grade, isn ’t it? ”
 310 ‘

THE
HOGWARTS
HIGH INQUISITOR
“Yep, ” said Fred, dunking an entire roll in his soup, transf erring it to his
mouth, and swallowing it whole.
“Then you get P for ‘Poor ’” — Ron raised both his arms in mock
celebration — “and D for ‘Dreadful. ’”
“And then T, ” George reminded him.
“T? ” asked Hermione, looking appalled. “Even lower than a D? What
on earth does that stand for? ”
“‘Troll, ’” said George promptly.
Harry laughed again, though he was not sure whether or not George was
joking. He imagined trying to conceal from Hermione that he had
received T ’s in all his O.W.L.s and immediately r esolved to work harder
from now on.
“You lot had an inspected lesson yet? ” Fred asked them.
“No, ” said Hermione at once, “have you? ”
“Just now, before lunch, ” said George. “Charms. ” “What
was it like? ” Harry and Hermione asked together. Fred
shrugged.
“Not that bad. Umbridge just lurked in the corner making notes on a
clipboard. You know what Flitwick ’s like, he treated her like a guest,
didn ’t seem to bother him at all. She didn ’t say much. Asked Alicia a
couple of questions about what the classes are normally like, Alicia told
her they were really good, that was it. ”
“I can ’t see old Flitwick getting marked down, ” said George, “he usually
gets everyone through their exams all right. ”
“Who ’ve you got this afternoon? ” Fred asked Harry.
“Trelawney — ”
“A T if ever I saw one — ”
“— and Umbridge herself. ”
“Well, be a good boy and keep your temper with Umbridge today, ” said
George. “Angelina ’ll do her nut if you miss any more Quidditch
practices. ”
But Harry did not have to wait for Defense Against th e Dark Arts

 311 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

to meet Professor Umbridge. He was pulling out his dream diary in a
seat at the very back of the shadowy Divination room when Ron el -
bowed him in the ribs and, looking round, he saw Professor Umbridge
emerging through the trapdoor in the floor. The class, which had been
talking cheerily, fell silent at once. The abrupt fall in the noise level made
Professor Trelawney, who had been waft ing about handing out
Dream Oracles, look round.
“Good afternoon, Professor Trelawney, ” said Professor Umbridge with
her wide smile. “You received my note, I trust? Giving the time and date
of your inspection? ”
Professor Trelawney nodded curtly and, looking very disgruntled,
turned her back on Professor Umbridge and continued to give out
books. Still smiling, Professor Umbridge grasped the back of the near -
est armchair and pulled it to the front of the class so that it was a few
inches behind Professor Trelawney ’s seat. She then sat down, took her
clipboard from her flowery bag, and looked up expectantly, waiting for
the class to begin.
Professor Trelawney pulled her shawls tight about her with slightly
trembl ing hands and surveyed the class through her hugely magnify - ing
lenses. “We shall be continuing our study of prophetic dreams to - day, ”
she said in a brave attempt at her usual mystic tones, though her voice
shook slightly. “Divide into pairs, please, and interpret each
other ’s latest nighttime visions with the aid of the Oracle. ”
She made as though to sweep back to her seat, saw Professor Um -
bridge sitting right beside it, and immediately veered left toward Par - vati
and Lavender, who were already deep in discussion about Parvati ’s most
recent dream.
Harry opened his copy of The Dream Oracle, watching Umbridge
covertly. She was making notes on her clipboard now. After a few min -
utes she got to her feet and began to pace the room in Trelawney ’s wake,
listening to her conversations with students and posing ques - tions here
and there. Harry bent his head hurriedly over his book.
 312 ‘

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“Th ink of a dream, quick, ” he told Ron, “in case the old toad comes our
way. ”
“I did it last time, ” Ron protested, “it’s your turn, you tell me one. ” “Oh,
I dunno . . . ” said Harry desperately, who could not remem - ber
dreaming anything at all over the las t few days. “Let ’s say I dreamed I
was . . . drowning Snape in my cauldron. Yeah, that ’ll do. . . . ”
Ron chortled as he opened his Dream Oracle.
“Okay, we ’ve got to add your age to the date you had the dream, the
number of letters in the subject . . . would that be ‘drowning ’ or ‘caul -
dron ’ or ‘Snape ’?”
“It doesn ’t matter, pick any of them, ” said Harry, chancing a glance
behind him. Professor Umbridge was now standing at Professor Tre -
lawney ’s shoulder making notes while the Divination teacher qu es -
tioned Neville about his dream diary.
“What night did you dream this again? ” Ron said, immersed in
calculations.
“I dunno, last night, whenever you like, ” Harry told him, trying to listen
to what Umbridge was saying to Professor Trelawney. They were only a
table away from him and Ron now. Professor Umbridge was making
another note on her clipboard and Professor Trelawney was looking
extremely put out.
“Now, ” said Umbridge, looking up at Trelawney, “you ’ve been in this
post how long, exactly? ”
Professor Trelawney scowled at her, arms crossed and shoulders
hunched as though wishing to protect herself as much as possible from
the indignity of the inspection. After a slight pause in which she seemed
to decide that the question was not so offensive that she could
reasonably ignore it, she said in a deeply resentful tone, “Nearly six - teen
years. ”
“Quite a period, ” said Professor Umbridge, making a note on her
clipboard. “So it was Professor Dumbledore who appointed you? ”
“That ’s right, ” said Profe ssor Trelawney shortly.

 313 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Professor Umbridge made another note.
“And you are a great -great -granddaughter of the celebrated Seer
Cassandra Trelawney? ”
“Yes, ” said Professor Trelawn ey, holding her head a little higher.
Another note on the clipboard.
“But I think — correct me if I am mistaken — that you are the first in
your family since Cassandra to be possessed of second sight? ” “These
things often skip — er — three generations, ” said Professor Trelawney.
Professor Umbridge ’s toadlike smile widened.
“Of course, ” she said sweetly, making yet another note. “Well, if you
could just predict something for me, then? ”
She looked up inquiringly, still smiling. Professor Trelawney had
stiffened as though unable to believe her ears.
“I don ’t understand you, ” said Professor Trelawney, clutching con -
vulsively at the shawl around her scrawny neck.
“I’d like you to make a prediction for me, ” said Professor Umbridge very
clearly.
Harry and Ron were not the only people watching and listening sneakily
from behind their books now; most of the class were staring transfixed
at Professor Trelawney as she drew herself up to her full height, her
beads and bangles clinking.
“The Inner Eye does not See upon command! ” she said in scandal - ized
tones.
“I see, ” said Professor Umbridge softly, making yet another note on her
clipboard.
“I — but — but . . . wait !” said Professor Trelawney suddenly, in
an attempt at her usual ethereal voice , though the mystical effect was
ruined somewhat by the way it was shaking with anger. “I . . . I think
I do see something . . . something that concerns you. . . . Why, I sense
something . . . something dark . . . some grave peril . . . ”
 314 ‘

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HIGH INQUISITOR
Professor Trelawney pointed a shaking finger at Professor Um - bridge
who continued to smile blandly at her, eyebrows raised.
“I am afraid . . . I am afraid that you are in grave danger! ” Professo r
Trelawney finished dramatically.
There was a pause. Professor Umbridge ’s eyebrows were still raised.
“Right, ” she said softly, scribbling on her clipboard once more. “Well, if
that ’s really the best you can do . . . ”
She turned away, leaving Professor Trelawney standing rooted to the
spot, her chest heaving. Harry caught Ron ’s eye and knew that Ron was
thinking exactly the same as he was: They both knew that Professor
Trelawney was an old fraud, but on the other hand, they loathed
Umbridge so much that they felt very much on Tre - lawney ’s side —
until she swooped down on them a few seconds later, that was.
“Well? ” she said, snapping her long fingers under Harry ’s nose, un -
characteristically brisk. “Let me see the start you ’ve made on your dream
diary, please. ”
And by the time she had interpreted Harry ’s dreams at the top of her
voice (all of which, even the ones that involved eating porridge,
apparently foretold a gruesome and early death), he was feeling much
less sympathetic toward her. All the while, Professor Umbridge stood a
few feet away, making notes on that clipboard, and when the bell rang
she descended the silver ladder first so that she was waiting for them all
when they reached their De fense Against the Dark Arts les - son ten
minutes later.
She was humming and smiling to herself when they entered the room.
Harry and Ron told Hermione, who had been in Arithmancy, exactly
what had happened in Divination while they all took out their
co pies of Defensive Magical Theory, but before Hermione could ask
any questions Professor Umbridge had called them all to order and si -
lence fell.

 315 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

“Wands away, ” she instructed them all smilingly, and those people who
had been hopeful enough to take them out sadly returned them to their
bags. “As we finished chapter one last lesson, I would like you all to turn
to page nineteen today and commence chapter two, ‘Com mon De -
fensive Theories and Their Derivation. ’ There will be no need to talk. ”
Still smiling her wide, self -satisfied smile, she sat down at her desk. The
class gave an audible sigh as it turned, as one, to page nineteen. Harry
wondered dully whether ther e were enough chapters in the book to keep
them reading through all this year ’s lessons and was on the point of
checking the contents when he noticed that Hermione had her hand in
the air again.
Professor Umbridge had noticed too, and what was more, she seemed
to have worked out a strategy for just such an eventuality. In - stead of
trying to pretend she had not noticed Hermione, she got to her feet and
walked around the front row of desks until they were face -to -face, then
she bent down and whispered, so that the rest of the class could not hear,
“What is it this time, Miss Granger? ”
“I’ve already read chapter two, ” said Hermione.
“Well then, proceed to chapter three. ”
“I’ve read that too. I ’ve read the whole book. ”
Professor Umbridge blinked but recovered her poise almost instantly.
“Well, then, you should be able to tell me what Slinkhard says about
counterjinxes in chapter fifteen. ”
“He says that counterjinxes are improperly named, ” said Hermione
promptly. “He sa ys ‘counterjinx ’ is just a name people give their jinxes
when they want to make them sound more acceptable. ”
Professor Umbridge raised her eyebrows, and Harry knew she was
impressed against her will.
“But I disagree, ” Hermione continued.
Professor U mbridge ’s eyebrows rose a little higher and her gaze be -
came distinctly colder.
 316 ‘

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HIGH INQUISITOR
“You disagree? ”
“Yes, I do, ” said Hermione, who, unlike Umbridge, was not whis - pering,
but speaking in a clear, carrying voice that had by now attracted the rest
of the class ’s attention. “Mr. Slinkhard doesn ’t like jinxes, does he? But I
think they can be very useful when they ’re used defensively. ” “Oh, you
do, do you? ” said Profes sor Umbridge, forgetting to whisper and
straightening up. “Well, I ’m afraid it is Mr. Slinkhard ’s opinion, and not
yours, that matters within this classroom, Miss Granger. ”
“But — ” Hermione began.
“That is enough, ” said Professor Umbridge. She walked b ack to the
front of the class and stood before them, all the jauntiness she had
shown at the beginning of the lesson gone. “Miss Granger, I am going to
take five points from Gryffindor House. ”
There was an outbreak of muttering at this.
“What for? ” said Harry angrily.
“Don ’t you get involved! ” Hermione whispered urgently to him. “For
disrupting my class with pointless interruptions, ” said Profes - sor
Umbridge smoothly. “I am here to teach you using a Ministry - approved
method that does not include inviting students to give their opinions on
matters about which they understand very little. Your pre - vious
teachers in this subject may have allowed you more license, but as none
of them — with the possible exception of Professor Quirrell, who did at
lea st appear to have restricted himself to age -appropriate subjects —
would have passed a Ministry inspection — ”
“Yeah, Quirrell was a great teacher, ” said Harry loudly, “there was just
that minor drawback of him having Lord Voldemort sticking out of the
back of his head. ”
This pronouncement was followed by one of the loudest silences Harry
had ever heard. Then —
“I think another week ’s detentions would do you some good, Mr.
Potter, ” said Umbridge sleekly.
 317 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN


 ‘ ‘
The cut on the back of Harry ’s hand had barely healed and by the
following morning, it was bleeding again. He did not complain dur - ing
the evening ’s detention; he was determined not to give Umbridge
the satisfaction; over and over again he wrote I must not tell lies and not
a sound escaped his lips, though the cut deepened with every letter. The
very worst part of this second week ’s worth of detentions was, just as
George had predicted, Angelina ’s r eaction. She cornered him just as he
arrived at the Gryffindor table for breakfast on Tuesday and shouted so
loudly that Professor McGonagall came sweeping down upon the pair of
them from the staff table.
“Miss Johnson, how dare you make such a racket in the Great Hall!
Five points from Gryffindor! ”
“But Professor — he ’s gone and landed himself in detention
again — ”
“What ’s this, Potter? ” said Professor McGonagall sharply, rounding on
Harry. “Detention? From whom? ”
“From Professor Umbridge, ” muttered Harry, not meeting Profes - sor
McGonagall ’s beady, square -framed eyes.
“Are you telling me, ” she said, lowering her voice so that the group of
curious Ravenclaws behind them could not hear, “that after the warning
I gave you last Monday you lo st your temper in Professor Umbridge ’s
class again? ”
“Yes, ” Harry muttered, speaking to the floor.
“Potter, you must get a grip on yourself! You are heading for seri - ous
trouble! Another five points from Gryffindor! ”
“But — what? Professor, no! ” Harry said, furious at this injustice.
“I’m already being punished by her, why do you have to take points as
well? ”
“Because detentions do not appear to have any effect on you what -
 318 ‘

THE
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HIGH INQUISITOR
soever! ” said Professor McGonagall tartly. “No, not another word of
complaint, Potter! And as for you, Miss Johnson, you will confine your
shouting matches to the Quidditch pitch in future or risk losing the team
Captaincy! ”
She strode back toward the staff table. Angelina gave Harry a look of
deepest disgust and stalked away, upon which Harry flung himself onto
the bench beside Ron, fuming.
“She ’s taken points off Gryffindor because I ’m having my hand
sliced open every night! How is that fair, how ?”
“I know, mate, ” said Ron sympathetically, tipping bacon onto Harry ’s
plate, “she ’s bang out of order. ”
Hermione, however, merely rustled the pages of her Daily Prophet
and said nothing.
“You think McGonagall was right, do you? ” said Harry angrily to the
picture of Cornelius Fudge obscuring Hermione ’s face.
“I wish she hadn ’t taken points from you, but I think she ’s right to warn
you not to lose your temper with Umbridge, ” said Hermione ’s voice,
while Fudge gesticulated forcef ully from the front page, clearly giving
some kind of speech.
Harry did not speak to Hermione all through Charms, but when they
entered Transfiguration he forgot his anger; Professor Umbridge and
her clipboard were sitting in a corner and the sight of h er drove the
memory of breakfast right out of his head.
“Excellent, ” whispered Ron, as they sat down in their usual seats. “Let ’s
see Umbridge get what she deserves. ”
Professor McGonagall marched into the room without giving the
slightest indication that she knew Professor Umbridge was there. “That
will do, ” she said and silence fell immediately. “Mr. Finni - gan, kindly
come here and hand back the homework — Miss Brown, please take
this box of mice — don ’t be silly, girl, they won ’t hurt you — and han d
one to each student — ”

 319 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

“ Hem, hem, ” said Professor Umbridge, employing the same silly
little cough she had used to interrupt Dumbledore on the first night of
term. Professor McGonagall ignored her. Seamus handed back Harry ’s
essay; Harry took it without looking at him and saw, to his relief, that he
had managed an A.
“Right then, everyone, listen closely — Dean Thomas, if you do that to
the mouse again I sh all put you in detention — most of you have now
successfully vanished your snails and even those who were left with a
certain amount of shell have the gist of the spell. Today we shall be — ”
“ Hem, hem, ” said Professor Umbridge.
“ Yes ?” said Professor McGonagall, turning round, her eyebrows so
close together they seemed to form one long, severe line.
“I was just wondering, Professor, whether you received my note telling
you of the date and time of your inspec — ”
“Obviously I recei ved it, or I would have asked you what you are doing
in my classroom, ” said Professor McGonagall, turning her back firmly
on Professor Umbridge. Many of the students exchanged looks of glee.
“As I was saying, today we shall be practicing the altogether mor e
difficult vanishment of mice. Now, the Vanishing Spell — ”
“ Hem, hem. ”
“I wonder, ” said Professor McGonagall in cold fury, turning on
Professor Umbridge, “how you expect to gain an idea of my usual
teaching methods if you continue to interrupt me? You see, I do not
generally permit people to talk when I am talking. ”
Professor Umbridge looked as though she had just been slapped in the
face. She did not speak, but straightened the parchment on her c lipboard
and began scribbling furiously. Looking supremely uncon - cerned,
Professor McGonagall addressed the class once more.
“As I was saying, the Vanishing Spell becomes more difficult with the
complexity of the animal to be vanished. The snail, as an inverte - brate,
does not present much of a challenge; the mouse, as a mammal,
 320 ‘

THE
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HIGH INQUISITOR
offers a much greater one. This is not, therefore, magic you can accom -
plish with your mind on your dinner. So — you know the incantation, let
me see what you can do. . . . ”
“How she can lecture me about not losing my temper with Umbridge! ”
Harry said to Ron under his voice, but he was grinning; his anger with
Professor McGonagall had quite evaporated.
Professor Umbridge did not follow Professor McGonagall around the
class as she had followed Professor Trelawney; perhaps she thought that
Professor McGonagall would not permit it. She did, however, take many
more notes while she sat in her corner, and when Professor McGonagall
finally told them all to pack away, rose with a grim ex - pression on her
face.
“Well, it ’s a start, ” said Ron, holding up a long, wriggling mouse tail and
dropping it back into the box Lavender was passing around. As they
filed out o f the classroom, Harry saw Professor Umbridge approach the
teacher ’s desk; he nudged Ron, who nudged Hermione in turn, and the
three of them deliberately fell back to eavesdrop. “How long have you
been teaching at Hogwarts? ” Professor Um - bridge asked.
“Thirty -nine years this December, ” said Professor McGonagall
brusquely, snapping her bag shut.
Professor Umbridge made a note.
“Very well, ” she said, “you will receive the results of your inspection in
ten days ’ time. ”
“I can hardly wait, ” said Profes sor McGonagall in a coldly indiffer - ent
voice, and she strode off toward the door. “Hurry up, you three, ” she
added, sweeping Harry, Ron, and Hermione before her. Harry could not
help giving her a faint smile and could have sworn he re - ceived one in
retu rn.
He had thought that the next time he would see Umbridge would be in
his detention that evening, but he was wrong. When they walked down
the lawns toward the forest for Care of Magical Creatures, they

 321 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

found her and her clipboard waiting for them beside Professor
Grubbly -Plank.
“You do not usually take this class, is that correct? ” Harry heard her ask
as they arrived at the trestle table where the group of captive
bowtruckles w ere scrabbling around for wood lice like so many living
twigs.
“Quite correct, ” said Professor Grubbly -Plank, hands behind her back
and bouncing on the balls of her feet. “I am a substitute teacher standing
in for Professor Hagrid. ”
Harry exchanged uneasy looks with Ron and Hermione. Malfoy was
whispering with Crabbe and Goyle; he would surely love this op -
portunity to tell tales on Hagrid to a member of the Ministry. “Hmm, ”
said Professor Umbridge, dropping her voice, though Harry c ould still
hear her quite clearly, “I wonder — the headmaster seems strangely
reluctant to give me any information on the matter —
can you tell me what is causing Professor Hagrid ’s very extended leave
of absence? ”
Harry saw Malfoy look up eagerly .
“’Fraid I can ’t,” said Professor Grubbly -Plank breezily. “Don ’t know
anything more about it than you do. Got an owl from Dumble - dore,
would I like a couple of weeks teaching work, accepted — that ’s as much
as I know. Well . . . shall I get started the n? ”
“Yes, please do, ” said Professor Umbridge, scribbling upon her
clipboard.
Umbridge took a different tack in this class and wandered among the
students, questioning them on magical creatures. Most people were able
to answer well and Harry ’s spirits lifted somewhat; at least the class was
not letting Hagrid down.
“Overall, ” said Professor Umbridge, returning to Professor Grubbly -
Plank ’s side after a lengthy interrogation of Dean Thomas, “how do you,
as a temporary member of staff — an obje ctive outsider, I suppose
 322 ‘

THE
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HIGH INQUISITOR
you might say — how do you find Hogwarts? Do you feel you receive
enough support from the school management? ”
“Oh, yes, Dumbledore ’s excellent, ” said Professor Grubbly -Plank
heartily. “No, I ’m very happy with the way things are run, very happy
indeed. ”
Looking politely incredulous, Umbridge made a tiny note on her
clipboard and went on, “And what are you planning to cover with this
class this year — assuming, of course, that Professor Hagrid does not
return? ”
“Oh, I ’ll take them through the creatures that most often come up in
O.W.L., ” said Professor Grubbly -Plank. “Not much left to do —
they ’ve studied unicorns and nifflers, I thought we ’d cover po rlocks and
kneazles, make sure they can recognize crups and knarls, you know. . . . ”
“Well, you seem to know what you ’re doing, at any rate, ” said Pro -
fessor Umbridge, making a very obvious tick on her clipboard. Harry
did not like the emphasis she put on “ you ” and liked it even less when
she put her next question to Goyle: “Now, I hear there have been in -
juries in this class? ”
Goyle gave a stupid grin. Malfoy hastened to answer the question.
“That was me, ” he said. “I was slashed by a hippogri ff. ”
“A hippogriff? ” said Professor Umbridge, now scribbling frantically.
“Only because he was too stupid to listen to what Hagrid told him to
do, ” said Harry angrily.
Both Ron and Hermione groaned. Professor Umbridge turned her head
slowly in Harry ’s direction.
“Another night ’s detention, I think, ” she said softly. “Well, thank you
very much, Professor Grubbly -Plank, I think that ’s all I need here. You
will be receiving the results of your inspection within ten days. ”
“Jolly good, ” said Profess or Grubbly -Plank, and Professor Um - bridge
set off back across the lawn to the castle.
 323 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN


 ‘ ‘
It was nearly midnight when Harry left Umbridge ’s office that night, his
hand now bleeding so severely that it was staining the scarf he had
wrapped around it. He expected the common room to be empty when
he returned, but Ron and Hermione had sat up waiting for him. He was
pleased to see them, especially as Hermione was dis posed to be
sympathetic rather than critical.
“Here, ” she said anxiously, pushing a small bowl of yellow liquid toward
him, “soak your hand in that, it ’s a solution of strained and pickled
murtlap tentacles, it should help. ”
Harry placed his bleeding, aching hand into the bowl and experi - enced a
wonderful feeling of relief. Crookshanks curled around his legs, purring
loudly, and then leapt into his lap and settled down. “Thanks, ” he said
gratefully, scratching behind Crookshanks ’s ears with his left ha nd.
“I still reckon you should complain about this, ” said Ron in a low voice.
“No, ” said Harry flatly.
“McGonagall would go nuts if she knew — ”
“Yeah, she probably would, ” said Harry. “And how long d ’you reckon
it’d take Umbridge to pass another Decree saying anyone who
complains about the High Inquisitor gets sacked immediately? ”
Ron opened his mouth to retort but nothing came out and after a
moment he closed it again in a defeated sort of way.
“She ’s an awful wo man, ” said Hermione in a small voice. “ Awful.
You know, I was just saying to Ron when you came in . . . we ’ve got to
do something about her. ”
“I suggested poison, ” said Ron grimly.
“No . . . I mean, something about what a dreadful teacher she is, and
how we ’re not going to learn any defense from her at all, ” said
Hermione.
 324 ‘

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HIGH INQUISITOR
“Well, what can we do about that? ” said Ron, yawning. “’S too late, isn ’t
it? She got the job, she ’s here to sta y, Fudge ’ll make sure of that. ” “Well, ”
said Hermione tentatively. “You know, I was thinking to - day. . . . ” She
shot a slightly nervous look at Harry and then plunged on, “I was
thinking that — maybe the time ’s come when we should just — just do
it oursel ves. ”
“Do what ourselves? ” said Harry suspiciously, still floating his hand in
the essence of murtlap tentacles.
“Well — learn Defense Against the Dark Arts ourselves, ” said Her -
mione.
“Come off it, ” groaned Ron. “You want us to do extra work? D ’you
realize Harry and I are behind on homework again and it ’s only the
second week? ”
“But this is much more important than homework! ” said Hermione.
Harry and Ron goggled at her.
“I didn ’t think there was anything in the universe more important than
homework, ” said Ron.
“Don ’t be silly, of course there is! ” said Hermione, and Harry saw, with
an ominous feeling, that her face was suddenly alight with the kind of
fervor that S.P.E.W. usually inspired in her. “It’s about prepar - ing
ourselves, like Ha rry said in Umbridge ’s first lesson, for what ’s waiting
out there. It ’s about making sure we really can defend our - selves. If we
don ’t learn anything for a whole year — ”
“We can ’t do much by ourselves, ” said Ron in a defeated voice. “I mean,
all right, we can go and look jinxes up in the library and try and practice
them, I suppose — ”
“No, I agree, we ’ve gone past the stage where we can just learn things
out of books, ” said Hermione. “We need a teacher, a proper one, who
can show us how to use the spel ls and correct us if we ’re go - ing wrong. ”
“If you ’re talking about Lupin . . . ” Harry began. “No, no, I ’m not
talking about Lupin, ” said Hermione. “He ’s too

 325 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

busy with the Order and anyway, the most we could see him is during
Hogsmeade weekends and that ’s not nearly often enough. ”
“Who, then? ” said Harry, frowning at her.
Hermione heaved a very deep sigh.
“Isn ’t it obvious? ” she said. “I’m talking about you , Harry. ”
There was a moment ’s silence. A light night breeze rattled the win -
dowpanes behind Ron and the fire guttered.
“About me what? ” said Harry.
“I’m talking about you teaching us Defense Against the Dark Arts. ”
Harry stared at her. Then he turned to Ron, ready to exchange the
exasperated looks they sometimes shared when Hermione elaborated on
far -fetched schemes like S.P.E.W. To Harry ’s consternation, how - ever,
Ron did not look exasperated. He was frowning sligh tly, appar - ently
thinking. Then he said, “That ’s an idea. ”
“What ’s an idea? ” said Harry.
“You, ” said Ron. “Teaching us to do it. ”
“But . . . ”
Harry was grinning now, sure the pair of them were pulling his leg.
“But I ’m not a teacher, I can ’t — ”
“Harry, you ’re the best in the year at Defense Against the Dark Arts, ”
said Hermione.
“Me? ” said Harry, now grinning more broadly than ever. “No I ’m not,
you ’ve beaten me in every test — ”
“Actually, I haven ’t,” said Hermione coolly. “You beat me in our third
year — the only year we both sat the test and had a teacher who actually
knew the subject. But I ’m not talking about test results,
Harry. Look what you ’ve done !”
“How d ’you mean? ”
“You know what, I ’m not sure I want someone this stupid tea ching me, ”
Ron said to Hermione, smirking slightly. He turned to Harry. “Let ’s
think, ” he said, pulling a face like Goyle concentrating. “Uh . . . first year
— you saved the Stone from You -Know -Who. ”
 326 ‘

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HOGWARTS
HIGH INQUISITOR
“But that was luck, ” said Harry, “that wasn ’t skill — ” “Second year, ”
Ron interrupted, “you killed the basilisk and de - stroyed Riddle. ”
“Yeah, but if Fawkes hadn ’t turned up I — ”
“Third year, ” said Ron, louder still, “you fought off about a hun - dred
dementors at once — ”
“You know that was a fluke, if the Time -Turner hadn ’t — ” “Last year, ”
Ron said, almost shouting now, “you fought off You - Know -Who again
— ”
“Listen to me! ” said Harry, almost angrily, because Ron and Hermione
were both smirking now. “Just listen to me, all right? It sounds great
when you say it like that, but all that stuff was luck — I didn ’t know what
I was doing half the time, I didn ’t plan any of it, I just did whatever I
could think of, and I near ly always had help — ” Ron and Hermione
were still smirking and Harry felt his temper rise; he wasn ’t even sure
why he was feeling so angry.
“Don ’t sit there grinning like you know better than I do, I was there,
wasn ’t I? ” he said heatedly. “I know what we nt on, all right? And I didn ’t
get through any of that because I was brilliant at Defense Against the
Dark Arts, I got through it all because — because help came at the right
time, or because I guessed right — but I just blun - dered through it all, I
didn ’t have a clue what I was doing — STOP LAUGHING! ”
The bowl of murtlap essence fell to the floor and smashed. He be - came
aware that he was on his feet, though he couldn ’t remember standing up.
Crookshanks streaked away under a sofa; Ron and Hermione ’s sm iles
had vanished.
“ You don ’t know what it ’s like ! You — neither of you — you ’ve never
had to face him, have you? You think it ’s just memorizing a bunch of
spells and throwing them at him, like you ’re in class or something? The
whole time you know ther e’s nothing between you and dying ex - cept
your own — your own brain or guts or whatever — like you can
 327 ‘

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

think straight when you know you ’re about a second from being mur -
dered, or tortured, or watching your friends die — they ’ve never taught
us that in their classes, what it ’s like to deal with things like that — and
you two sit there acting like I ’m a clever little boy to be standing here,
alive, like Diggory was stupid , like he messed up — you just don ’t get it,
that could just as easily have been me, it would have been if Voldemort
hadn ’t needed me — ”
“We weren ’t saying anything like that, mate, ” said Ron, looking aghast.
“We weren ’t having a go at Diggory, we didn ’t — you ’ve got the wrong
end of the — ”
He looked helplessly at Hermione, whose face was stricken. “Harry, ”
she said timidly, “don ’t you see? This . . . this is exactly why we need
you. . . . We need to know what it ’s r -really like . . . fac - ing him . . . facing
V-Voldemort. ”
It was the first time she had ever said Voldemort ’s name, and it was this,
more than anything else, that calmed Harry. Still breathing hard, he sank
back into his chair, becoming aware as he did so that his hand was
throbbing horribl y again. He wished he had not smashed the bowl of
murtlap essence.
“Well . . . think about it, ” said Hermione quietly. “Please? ” Harry could
not think of anything to say. He was feeling ashamed of his outburst
already. He nodded, hardly awa re of what he was agreeing to.
Hermione stood up.
“Well, I ’m off to bed, ” she said in a voice that was clearly as natural as
she could make it. “Erm . . . ’night. ”
Ron had gotten to his feet too.
“Coming? ” he said awkwardly to Harry.
“Yeah, ” said Harry. “In . . . in a minute. I ’ll just clear this up. ” He
indicated the smashed bowl on the floor. Ron nodded and left.
“ Reparo, ” Harry muttered, pointing his wand at the broken pieces
 328 ‘

THE
HOGWARTS
HIGH INQUISITOR
of china. They flew back together, good as new, but there was no re -
turning the murtlap essence to the bowl.
He was suddenly so tired that he was tempted to sink back into his
armchair and sleep there, but instead he got to his feet and followed Ron
up stairs. His restless night was punctuated once more by dreams of long
corridors and locked doors, and he awoke next day with his scar
prickling again.

 329 ‘

C H A P T E R S I X T E E
N










IN THE HOG ’ S
HEAD




ermione made no mention of Harry giving Defense Against
H
the Dark Arts lessons for two whole weeks after her original suggestion.
Harry ’s detentions with Umbridge were finally over (he doubted
whether the words now etched on the back of his hand would ever fade
entirely); Ron had had four more Quidditch practices and not been
shouted at during the last two; and all three of them had manage d to
vanish their mice in Transfiguration (Hermione had actu - ally progressed
to vanishing kittens), before the subject was broached again, on a wild,

blustery evening at the end of September, when the three of them were
sitting in the library, looking up potion ingredients for Snape.
“I was wondering, ” Hermione said suddenly, “whether you ’d thought
any more about Defense Against the Dark Arts, Harry. ” “’Course I
have, ” said Harry grumpily. “Can ’t forget it, can we, with that hag
teaching us — ”
“I mea nt the idea Ron and I had ” — Ron cast her an alarmed,
threatening kind of look; she frowned at him — “oh, all right, the
idea I had, then — about you teaching us. ”
 330 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

Harry did not answer at once. He pretended to be perusing a page
of Asiatic Anti -Venoms, because he did not want to say what was in his
mind.
The fact was that he had given the matter a great deal of thought over
the past fortnight. Sometimes it seeme d an insane idea, just as it had on
the night Hermione had proposed it, but at others, he had found himself
thinking about the spells that had served him best in his various
encounters with Dark creatures and Death Eaters — found himself, in
fact, subconsc iously planning lessons. . . .
“Well, ” he said slowly, when he could not pretend to find Asiatic
anti -venoms interesting much longer, “yeah, I — I’ve thought about it a
bit. ”
“And? ” said Hermione eagerly.
“I dunno, ” said Harry, playing for time. He looked up at Ron. “I thought
it was a good idea from the start, ” said Ron, who seemed keener to join
in this conversation now that he was sure that Harry was not going to
start shouting again.
Harry shifted uncomfortabl y in his chair.
“You did listen to what I said about a load of it being luck, didn ’t you? ”
“Yes, Harry, ” said Hermione gently, “but all the same, there ’s no point
pretending that you ’re not good at Defense Against the Dark Arts,
because you are. You were the only person last year who could throw off
the Imperius Curse completely, you can produce a Patronus, you can do
all sorts of stuff that full -grown wizards can ’t, Viktor al - ways said — ”
Ron looked around at her so fast he appeared to crick his neck; rub -
bing it, he said, “Yeah? What did Vicky say? ”
“Ho ho, ” said Hermione in a bored voice. “He said Harry knew how to
do stuff even he didn ’t, and he was in the final year at Durmstrang. ”
Ron was looking at Hermione suspiciously.
 331 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“You ’re not still in contact with him, are you? ”
“So what if I am? ” said Hermione coolly, though her face was a lit - tle
pink. “I can have a pen pal if I — ”
“He didn ’t only want to be your pen pal, ” said Ron accusingly.
Hermione shook her head exasperatedly and, ignoring Ron, who was
continuing to watch her, said to Harry, “Well, what do you think? Will
you teach us? ”
“Just you and Ron, yeah? ”
“Well, ” said Hermione, now looking a mite anxious again. “Well
. . . now, don ’t fly off the handle again, Harry, please. . . . But I really
think you ought to teach anyone who wants to learn. I mean, we ’re
talking about defending ourselves against V -Voldemort — oh, don ’t be
pathetic, Ron — it doesn ’t seem fair if we don ’t offer the chance to other
people. ”
Harry considered this for a moment, then said, “Yeah, but I doubt
anyone except you two would want to be taught by me. I ’m a nutter,
remember? ”
“Well, I thi nk you might be surprised how many people would be
interested in hearing what you ’ve got to say, ” said Hermione seriously.
“Look, ” she leaned toward him; Ron, who was still watching her with a
frown on his face, leaned forward to listen too, “you know the first
weekend in October ’s a Hogsmeade weekend? How would it be if we
tell anyone who ’s interested to meet us in the village and we can talk it
over? ”
“Why do we have to do it outside school? ” said Ron. “Because, ” said
Hermione, returning to the diagram o f the Chinese Chomping Cabbage
she was copying, “I don ’t think Umbridge would be very happy if she
found out what we were up to. ”

Harry had been looking forward to the weekend trip into Hogs - meade,
but there was one thing worrying him. Sirius had maintained a stony
silence since he had appeared in the fire at the beginning of
 332 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

September; Harry knew they had made him angry by saying that they did
not want him to come — but he still worried from time to time that
Sirius might throw caution to the winds and turn up anyway. What were
they going to do if the great black dog came bounding up the street
toward them in Hogsmeade, perhaps und er the nose of Draco Malfoy?
“Well, you can ’t blame him for wanting to get out and about, ” said Ron,
when Harry discussed his fears with him and Hermione. “I mean, he ’s
been on the run for over two years, hasn ’t he, and I know that can ’t have
been a lau gh, but at least he was free, wasn ’t he? And now he ’s just shut
up all the time with that lunatic elf. ”
Hermione scowled at Ron, but otherwise ignored the slight on
Kreacher.
“The trouble is, ” she said to Harry, “until V -Voldemort — oh for
heaven ’s sake, Ron — comes out into the open, Sirius is going to have
to stay hidden, isn ’t he? I mean, the stupid Ministry isn ’t going to re - alize
Sirius is innocent until they accept that Dumbledore ’s been telling the
truth about him all along. And once the f ools start catch - ing real Death
Eaters again it ’ll be obvious Sirius isn ’t one . . . I mean, he hasn ’t got the
Mark, for one thing. ”
“I don ’t reckon he ’d be stupid enough to turn up, ” said Ron brac - ingly.
“Dumbledore ’d go mad if he did and Sirius listen s to Dumble - dore
even if he doesn ’t like what he hears. ”
When Harry continued to look worried, Hermione said, “Listen, Ron
and I have been sounding out people who we thought might want to
learn some proper Defense Against the Dark Arts, and there are a
couple who seem interested. We ’ve told them to meet us in
Hogsmeade. ”
“Right, ” said Harry vaguely, his mind still on Sirius. “Don ’t worry,
Harry, ” Hermione said quietly. “You ’ve got enough on your plate
without Sirius too. ”
She was quit e right, of course; he was barely keeping up with his
 333 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

homework, though he was doing much better now that he was no longer
spending every evening in detention with Umbridge. Ron was even
further behi nd with his work than Harry, because while they both had
Quidditch practices twice a week, Ron also had prefect du - ties.
However, Hermione, who was taking more subjects than either of them,
had not only finished all her homework but was also finding time to knit
more elf clothes. Harry had to admit that she was getting better; it was
now almost always possible to distinguish between the hats and the
socks.
The morning of the Hogsmeade visit dawned bright but windy. Af - ter
breakfast they queued up in fron t of Filch, who matched their names to
the long list of students who had permission from their par - ents or
guardian to visit the village. With a slight pang, Harry re - membered that
if it hadn ’t been for Sirius, he would not have been going at all.
When Harry reached Filch, the caretaker gave a great sniff as though
trying to detect a whiff of something from Harry. Then he gave a curt
nod that set his jowls aquiver again and Harry walked on, out onto the
stone steps and the cold, sunlit day.
“Er — why was Filch sniffing you? ” asked Ron, as he, Harry, and
Hermione set off at a brisk pace down the wide drive to the gates. “I
suppose he was checking for the smell of Dungbombs, ” said Harry with
a small laugh. “I forgot to tell you . . . ”
And he rec ounted the story of sending his letter to Sirius and Filch
bursting in seconds later, demanding to see the letter. To his slight sur -
prise, Hermione found this story highly interesting, much more, in - deed,
than he did himself.
“He said he was tipped o ff you were ordering Dungbombs? But who
had tipped him off? ”
“I dunno, ” said Harry, shrugging. “Maybe Malfoy, he ’d think it was a
laugh. ”
They walked between the tall stone pillars topped with winged
 334 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

boars and turned left onto the road into the village, the wind whip - ping
their hair into their eyes.
“Malfoy? ” said Hermione, very skeptically. “Well . . . yes . . . maybe . . . ”
And she remained deep in thought all the w ay into the outskirts of
Hogsmeade.
“Where are we going anyway? ” Harry asked. “The Three Broom -
sticks? ”
“Oh — no, ” said Hermione, coming out of her reverie, “no, it ’s al - ways
packed and really noisy. I ’ve told the others to meet us in the Hog ’s
He ad, that other pub, you know the one, it ’s not on the main
road. I think it ’s a bit . . . you know . . . dodgy . . . but students don ’t
normally go in there, so I don ’t think we ’ll be overheard. ”
They walked down the main street past Zonko ’s Joke Sho p, where they
were unsurprised to see Fred, George, and Lee Jordan, past the post
office, from which owls issued at regular intervals, and turned up a side
street at the top of which stood a small inn. A battered wooden sign
hung from a rusty bracket over the door, with a picture upon it of a wild
boar ’s severed head leaking blood onto the white cloth around it. The
sign creaked in the wind as they approached. All three of them hesitated
outside the door.
“Well, come on, ” said Hermione slightly nervously . Harry led the way
inside.
It was not at all like the Three Broomsticks, whose large bar gave an
impression of gleaming warmth and cleanliness. The Hog ’s Head bar
comprised one small, dingy, and very dirty room that smelled strongly of
something that m ight have been goats. The bay windows were so
encrusted with grime that very little daylight could permeate the room,
which was lit instead with the stubs of candles sitting on rough wooden
tables. The floor seemed at first glance to be earthy, though as H arry
stepped onto it he realized that there was stone beneath what seemed to
be the accumulated filth of centuries.
 335 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Harry remembered Hagrid mentioning this pub in his first year:
“ Yeh get a lot o ’ funny folk in the Hog ’s Head, ” he had said, explaining
how he had won a dragons egg from a hooded stranger there. At the
time Harry had wondered why Hagrid had not found it odd that the
stranger kept his face hidden throughout th eir encounter; now he saw
that keeping your face hidden was something of a fashion in the Hog ’s
Head. There was a man at the bar whose whole head was wrapped in
dirty gray bandages, though he was still managing to gulp endless glasses
of some smoking, fier y substance through a slit over his mouth. Two
figures shrouded in hoods sat at a table in one of the windows; Harry
might have thought them dementors if they had not been talk - ing in
strong Yorkshire accents; in a shadowy corner beside the fireplace sat a
witch with a thick, black veil that fell to her toes. They could just see the
tip of her nose because it caused the veil to protrude slightly. “I don ’t
know about this, Hermione, ” Harry muttered, as they crossed to the bar.
He was looking particularly at the heavily veiled witch. “Has it occurred
to you Umbridge might be under that? ” Hermione cast an appraising eye
at the veiled figure.
“Umbridge is shorter than that woman, ” she said quietly. “And
anyway, even if Umbridge does come in here there ’s n othing she can
do to stop us, Harry, because I ’ve double - and triple -checked the school
rules. We ’re not out -of -bounds; I specifically asked Professor Flitwick
whether students were allowed to come in the Hog ’s Head, and he said
yes, but he advised me str ongly to bring our own glasses. And I ’ve
looked up everything I can think of about study groups and homework
groups and they ’re definitely allowed. I just don ’t think it ’s
a good idea if we parade what we ’re doing. ”
“No, ” said Harry dryly, “especiall y as it ’s not exactly a homework group
you ’re planning, is it? ”
The barman sidled toward them out of a back room. He was a
grumpy -looking old man with a great deal of long gray hair and beard.
He was tall and thin and looked vaguely familiar to Harry.
 336 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

“What? ” he grunted.
“Three butterbeers, please, ” said Hermione.
The man reached beneath the counter and pulled up three very dusty,
very dirty bottles, which he slammed on the bar.
“Six Sickles, ” he said.
“I’ll get them, ” said Harry quickly, passing over the silver. The bar -
man ’s eyes traveled over Harry, resting for a fraction of a second on his
scar. Then he turned away and deposited Harry ’s money in an ancient
wooden till whose d rawer slid open automatically to receive it. Harry,
Ron, and Hermione retreated to the farthest table from the bar and sat
down, looking around, while the man in the dirty gray bandages rapped
the counter with his knuckles and received another smoking drin k from
the barman.
“You know what? ” Ron murmured, looking over at the bar with
enthusiasm. “We could order anything we liked in here, I bet that bloke
would sell us anything, he wouldn ’t care. I ’ve always wanted to try
firewhisky — ”
“You — are — a — prefect, ” snarled Hermione.
“Oh, ” said Ron, the smile fading from his face. “Yeah . . . ” “So who did
you say is supposed to be meeting us? ” Harry asked, wrenching open the
rusty top of his butterbeer and taking a swig. “Just a couple of people, ”
Hermione repeated, checking her watch and then looking anxiously
toward the door. “I told them to be here about now and I ’m sure they all
know where it is — oh look, this might be them now — ”
The door of the pub had opened. A thick band of dusty sunlight split the
room in two for a moment and then vanished, blocked by the incoming
rush of a crowd of people.
First came Neville with Dean and Lavender, who were closely fol - lowed
by Parvati and Padma Patil with (Harry ’s stomach did a back flip) Cho
and one of her usually giggling girlfriends, then (on her own and looking
so dreamy that she might have walked in by accident)
 337 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Luna Lovegood; then Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnet, and Angelina John - son,
Colin and Dennis Creevey, Ernie Macmillan, Justin Finch - Fletchley,
Hannah Abbott, and a Hufflepuff girl with a long plait down her back
whose name Harry did not know; three Ravenclaw boys he was pretty
sure were called Anthony Goldstein, Michael Co r- ner, and Terry Boot;
Ginny, followed by a tall skinny blond boy with an upturned nose whom
Harry recognized vaguely as being a member of the Hufflepuff
Quidditch team, and bringing up the rear, Fred and George Weasley
with their friend Lee Jordan, all t hree of whom were carrying large paper
bags crammed with Zonko ’s merchandise.
“A couple of people? ” said Harry hoarsely to Hermione. “A couple
of people ?”
“Yes, well, the idea seemed quite popular, ” said Hermione happily. “Ron,
do you want to pull up some more chairs? ”
The barman had frozen in the act of wiping out a glass with a rag so
filthy it looked as though it had never been washed. Possibly he had
never seen his pub so full.
“Hi, ” said Fred, reaching the bar first and counting his companions
quickly. “Could we have . . . twenty -five butterbeers, please? ”
The barman glared at him for a moment, then, throwing down his rag
irritably as though he had been interrupted in something very important,
he started passing u p dusty butterbeers from under the bar.
“Cheers, ” said Fred, handing them out. “Cough up, everyone, I haven ’t
got enough gold for all of these. . . . ”
Harry watched numbly as the large chattering group took their beers
from Fred and rummaged in their robes to find coins. He could not
imagine what all these people had turned up for until the horrible
thought occurred to him that they might be expecting some kind of
speech, at which he rounded on Hermione.
“What hav e you been telling people? ” he said in a low voice. “What are
they expecting? ”
 338 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

“I’ve told you, they just want to hear what you ’ve got to say, ” said
Hermione soothingly; but Harry continued to look at her so furiously
that she added quickly, “You don ’t have to do anything yet, I ’ll speak to
them first. ”
“Hi, Harry, ” said Neville, beaming and taking a seat opposite Harry.
Harry tried to smile back , but did not speak; his mouth was excep -
tionally dry. Cho had just smiled at him and sat down on Ron ’s right. Her
friend, who had curly reddish -blonde hair, did not smile, but gave Harry
a thoroughly mistrustful look that told Harry plainly that, given h er way,
she would not be here at all.
In twos and threes the new arrivals settled around Harry, Ron, and
Hermione, some looking rather excited, others curious, Luna Love -
good gazing dreamily into space. When everybody had pulled up a chair,
the chatter died out. Every eye was upon Harry.
“Er, ” said Hermione, her voice slightly higher than usual out of nerves.
“Well — er — hi. ”
The group focused its attention on her instead, though eyes con - tinued
to dart back regularly to Harry.
“Well . . . erm . . . well, you know why you ’re here. Erm . . . well, Harry
here had the idea — I mean ” — Harry had thrown her a sharp look —
“I had the idea — that it might be good if people who wanted to study
Defense Against the Dark Arts — and I me an, really study it, you know,
not the rubbish that Umbridge is doing with us ” — (Hermione ’s voice
became suddenly much stronger and more confident) — “because
nobody could call that Defense Against the Dark Arts ” — “Hear, hear, ”
said Anthony Goldstein, an d Hermione looked heartened — “well, I
thought it would be good if we, well, took matters into our own hands. ”
She paused, looked sideways at Harry, and went on, “And by that I mean
learning how to defend ourselves properly, not just theory but the real
spells — ”
 339 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“You want to pass your Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. too
though, I bet? ” said Michael Corner.
“Of course I do, ” said Hermione at once. “But I want more than that, I
want to be properly trained in Defense because . . . because . . . ” She took
a great breath and finished, “Because Lord Voldemort ’s back. ”
The reaction was immediate and predictable. Cho ’s friend shrieked and
slopped butterbeer down herself, Terry Boot gave a kind of invol - untary
twitch, Padma Patil shuddered, and Neville gave an odd yelp that he
managed to turn into a cough. All of them, however, looked fixedly,
even eagerly, at Harry.
“Well . . . that ’s the plan anyway, ” said Hermione. “If you want to join us,
we need to decide how we ’re going to — ”
“Where ’s the proof You -Know -Who ’s back? ” said the blond Huffle -
puff player in a rather aggressive voice.
“Well, Dumbledore believes it — ” Hermione began.
“You mean, Dumbledore believes him, ” said the blond boy, nod -
ding at Harry.
“Who are you ?” said Ron rather rudely.
“Zacharias Smith, ” said the boy, “and I think we ’ve got the right to
know exactly what makes him say You -Know -Who ’s back. ”
“Look, ” said Hermione, intervening swiftly, “that ’s really not what this
meeting was supposed to be about — ”
“It’s okay, Hermione, ” said Harry.
It had just dawned upon him why there were so many people there. He
felt that Hermione should have seen this coming. Some of these people
— maybe even most of them — had turned up in the hope of hearing
Harry ’s story firsthand.
“What makes me say You -Know -Who ’s back? ” he asked, looking
Zacharias straight in the face. “I saw him. But Dumbledore told the
whole school what happened last year, and if you didn ’t believe him,
 340 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

you don ’t believe me, and I ’m not wasting an afternoon trying to con -
vince anyone. ”
The whole group seemed to have held its breath while Harry spoke.
Harry had the impression that even the barman was listening in. He was
wiping the same glass with the filthy rag; it was becoming steadily dirtier.
Zacharias said dismissively, “All Dumbl edore told us last year was that
Cedric Diggory got killed by You -Know -Who and that you brought
Diggory ’s body back to Hogwarts. He didn ’t give us details, he didn ’t tell
us exactly how Diggory got murdered, I think we ’d all like to know — ”
“If you ’ve com e to hear exactly what it looks like when Voldemort
murders someone I can ’t help you, ” Harry said. His temper, always so
close to the surface these days, was rising again. He did not take his eyes
from Zacharias Smith ’s aggressive face, determined not to l ook at Cho.
“I don ’t want to talk about Cedric Diggory, all right? So if that ’s what
you ’re here for, you might as well clear out. ”
He cast an angry look in Hermione ’s direction. This was, he felt, all her
fault; she had decided to display him like some sort of freak and of
course they had all turned up to see just how wild his story was. . . . But
none of them left their seats, not even Zacharias Smith, though he
continued to gaze intently at Harry.
“So, ” said Hermione, her voice very high -pitched again. “So . . . like I
was saying . . . if you want to learn some defense, then we need to work
out how we ’re going to do it, how often we ’re going to meet, and where
we ’re going to — ”
“Is it true, ” interrupted the girl with the long plait down her back,
looking at Harry, “that you can produce a Patronus? ”
There was a murmur of interest around the group at this.
“Yeah, ” said Harry slightly defensively.
“A corporeal Patronus? ”
 341 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

The phrase stirred something in Harry ’s memory. “Er — you
don ’t know Madam Bones, do you? ” he asked. The girl
smiled.
“She ’s my auntie, ” she said. “I’m Susan Bones. She told me about your
hearing. So — is it really true? You make a stag Patronus? ” “Yes, ” said
Harry.
“Blimey, Harry! ” said Lee, looking deeply impressed. “I never knew
that! ”
“Mum told Ron not to spread it around, ” said Fred, grinning at Harry.
“She said you got enough attention as it was. ”
“She ’s not wrong, ” mumbled Harry and a couple of people laughed. The
veiled witch sitting alone shifted very slightly in her seat. “And did you
kill a basilisk with that sword in Dumbledore ’s of - fice? ” demanded
Terry Boot. “That ’s what one of th e portraits on the wall told me when I
was in there last year. . . . ”
“Er — yeah, I did, yeah, ” said Harry.
Justin Finch -Fletchley whistled, the Creevey brothers exchanged
awestruck looks, and Lavender Brown said “wow ” softly. Harry was
feeling slightly hot around the collar now; he was determinedly look - ing
anywhere but at Cho.
“And in our first year, ” said Neville to the group at large, “he saved that
Sorcerous Stone — ”
“Sorcerer ’s,” hissed Hermione.
“Yes, that, from You -Know -Who, ” finished Neville. Hannah Abbott ’s
eyes were as round as Galleons. “And that ’s not to mention, ” said Cho
(Harry ’s eyes snapped onto her, she was looking at him, smiling; his
stomach did another somer - sault), “all the tasks he had to get through in
the Tr iwizard Tournament last year — getting past dragons and
merpeople and acromantulas and things. . . . ”
There was a murmur of impressed agreement around the table.
 342 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

Harry ’s insides were squirming. He was trying to arrange his face so that
he did not look too pleased with himself. The fact that Cho had just
praised him made it much, much harder for him to say the thing he had
sworn to himself he would tell them.
“Look, ” he said and everyone fell silent at once, “I . . . I don ’t want to
sound like I ’m trying to be modest or anything, but . . . I had a lot of help
with all that stuff. . . . ”
“Not with the dragon, you didn ’t,” said Michael Corner at once. “That
was a serious ly cool bit of flying. . . . ”
“Yeah, well — ” said Harry, feeling it would be churlish to disagree.
“And nobody helped you get rid of those dementors this summer, ” said
Susan Bones.
“No, ” said Harry, “no, okay, I know I did bits of it without help, but th e
point I ’m trying to make is — ”
“Are you trying to weasel out of showing us any of this stuff? ” said
Zacharias Smith.
“Here ’s an idea, ” said Ron loudly, before Harry could speak, “why don ’t
you shut your mouth? ”
Perhaps the word “weasel ” had affected Ron particularly strongly; in any
case, he was now looking at Zacharias as though he would like nothing
better than to thump him. Zacharias flushed.
“Well, we ’ve all turned up to learn from him, and now he ’s telling us he
can ’t really do a ny of it, ” he said.
“That ’s not what he said, ” snarled Fred Weasley. “Would you like us to
clean out your ears for you? ” inquired George, pulling a long and
lethal -looking metal instrument from in - side one of the Zonko ’s bags.
“Or any part of your b ody, really, we ’re not fussy where we stick this, ”
said Fred.
“Yes, well, ” said Hermione hastily, “moving on . . . the point is, are we
agreed we want to take lessons from Harry? ”
 343 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

There was a murmur of general agreement. Zacharias folded his arms
and said nothing, though perhaps this was because he was too busy
keeping an eye on the instrument in George ’s hand.
“Right, ” said Hermione, looking relieved that something had at last bee n
settled. “Well, then, the next question is how often we do it. I really don ’t
think there ’s any point in meeting less than once a week — ”
“Hang on, ” said Angelina, “we need to make sure this doesn ’t clash with
our Quidditch practice. ”
“No, ” said Cho, “nor with ours. ”
“Nor ours, ” added Zacharias Smith.
“I’m sure we can find a night that suits everyone, ” said Hermione,
slightly impatiently, “but you know, this is rather important, we ’re
talking about learning to defend ourselves against V -Voldemort ’s Death
Eaters — ”
“Well said! ” barked Ernie Macmillan, whom Harry had been ex - pecting
to speak long before this. “Personally I think this is really im - portant,
possibly more important than anything else we ’ll do this year, even with
our O.W.L.s coming up! ”
He looked around impressively, as though waiting for people to cry,
“Surely not! ” When nobody spoke, he went on, “I, personally, am at a
loss to see why the Ministry has foisted such a useless teacher upon us at
this critical period. Obviously the y are in denial about the return of
You -Know -Who, but to give us a teacher who is trying to actively pre -
vent us from using defensive spells — ”
“We think the reason Umbridge doesn ’t want us trained in Defense
Against the Dark Arts, ” said Hermione, “is that she ’s got some . . . some
mad idea that Dumbledore could use the students in the school as a kind
of private army. She thinks he ’d mobilize us against the Ministry. ”
Nearly everybody looked stunned at this news; everybody except
 344 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

Luna Lovegood, who piped up, “Well, that makes sense. After all,
Cornelius Fudge has got his own private army. ”
“What? ” said Harry, completely thrown by this unexpected piece of
information.
“Yes, he ’s got an army of heliopaths, ” said Luna solemnly.
“No, he hasn ’t,” snapped Hermione.
“Yes, he has, ” said Luna.
“What are heliopaths? ” asked Neville, looking blank. “They ’re spirits of
fire, ” said Luna, her protuberant eyes widening so that she looked
madder than ever. “Great tall flaming creatures that gallop across the
ground burning everything in front of — ”
“They don ’t exist, Neville, ” said Hermione tartly.
“Oh yes they do! ” said Luna angrily.
“I’m sorry, but where ’s the pro of of that? ” snapped Hermione.
“There are plenty of eyewitness accounts, just because you ’re so
narrow -minded you need to have everything shoved under your nose
before you — ”
“ Hem, hem, ” said Ginny in such a good imitation of Professor Um -
bridge that several people looked around in alarm and then laughed.
“Weren ’t we trying to decide how often we ’re going to meet and get
Defense lessons? ”
“Yes, ” said Hermione at once, “yes, we were, you ’re right. . . . ”
“Well, once a week sounds cool, ” said Lee Jordan.
“As long as — ” began Angelina.
“Yes, yes, we know about the Quidditch, ” said Hermione in a tense
voice. “Well, the other thing to decide is where we ’re going to meet. . . . ”
This was rather more difficult; the whole group fell silent .
“Library? ” suggested Katie Bell after a few moments.
“I can ’t see Madam Pince being too chuffed with us doing jinxes in the
library, ” said Harry.
 345 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“Maybe an unused classroom? ” said Dean.
“Yeah, ” said Ron, “McGonagall might let us have hers, she did when
Harry was practicing for the Triwizard. . . . ”
But Harry was pretty certain that McGonagall would not be so ac -
commodating this time. For all that Hermione had said about study and
homework gro ups being allowed, he had the distinct feeling this one
might be considered a lot more rebellious.
“Right, well, we ’ll try to find somewhere, ” said Hermione. “We ’ll send a
message round to everybody when we ’ve got a time and a place for the
first meeting. ”
She rummaged in her bag and produced parchment and a quill, then
hesitated, rather as though she was steeling herself to say something.
“I-I think everybody should write their name down, just so we know
who was here. But I also think, ” she took a d eep breath, “that we all
ought to agree not to shout about what we ’re doing. So if you sign,
you ’re agreeing not to tell Umbridge — or anybody else — what we ’re
up to. ”
Fred reached out for the parchment and cheerfully put down his
signature, but Harry no ticed at once that several people looked less than
happy at the prospect of putting their names on the list.
“Er . . . ” said Zacharias slowly, not taking the parchment that George
was trying to pass him. “Well . . . I ’m sure Ernie will tell me when the
meeting is. ”
But Ernie was looking rather hesitant about signing too. Hermione
raised her eyebrows at him.
“I — well, we are prefects, ” Ernie burst out. “And if this list was
found . . . well, I mean to say . . . you said yourself, if Umbridge finds
out . . . ”
“You just said this group was the most important thing you ’d do this
year, ” Harry reminded him.
“I — yes, ” said Ernie, “yes, I do believe that, it ’s just . . . ”
 346 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

“Ernie, do you really think I ’d leave that list lying around? ” said
Hermione testily.
“No. No, of course not, ” said Ernie, looking slightly less anxious. “I —
yes, of course I ’ll sign. ”
Nobody raised objections after Ernie, though Harry saw Cho ’s frie nd
give her a rather reproachful look before adding her name. When the last
person — Zacharias — had signed, Hermione took the parchment back
and slipped it carefully into her bag. There was an odd feeling in the
group now. It was as though they had just s igned some kind of contract.
“Well, time ’s ticking on, ” said Fred briskly, getting to his feet. “George,
Lee, and I have got items of a sensitive nature to purchase, we ’ll be
seeing you all later. ”
In twos and threes the rest of the group took their leave too. Cho made
rather a business of fastening the catch on her bag before leav - ing, her
long dark curtain of hair swinging forward to hide her face, but her
friend stood beside her, arms folded, clicking her tongue, so that Cho
had little choice but to leave with her. As her friend ushered her through
the door, Cho looked back and waved at Harry.
“Well, I think that went quite well, ” said Hermione happily, as she,
Harry, and Ron walked out of the Hog ’s Head into the bright sunlight a
few moments la ter, Harry and Ron still clutching their bottles of
butterbeer.
“That Zacharias bloke ’s a wart, ” said Ron, who was glowering after the
figure of Smith just discernible in the distance.
“I don ’t like him much either, ” admitted Hermione, “but he over - heard
me talking to Ernie and Hannah at the Hufflepuff table and he seemed
really interested in coming, so what could I say? But the more people the
better really — I mean, Michael Corner and his friends wouldn ’t have
come if he hadn ’t been going out with Ginny — ” Ron, who had been
draining the last few drops from his butterbeer bottle, gagged and
sprayed butterbeer down his front.
 347 ‘

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“He ’s WHAT? ” said Ron, outraged, his ears now resembling curls of
raw beef. “She ’s going out with — my sister ’s going — what d ’you mean,
Michael Corner? ”
“Well, that ’s why he and his friends came, I think — well, they ’re
obviously interested in learning defense, but if Ginny hadn ’t told
Michael what was going on — ”
“When did this — when did she — ?”
“They met at the Yule Ball and they got together at the end of last year, ”
said Hermione composedly. They had turned into the High Street and
she paused outside Scrivenshaft ’s Quill Shop, where there was a
handsome displa y of pheasant -feather quills in the window. “Hmm . . . I
could do with a new quill. ”
She turned into the shop. Harry and Ron followed her. “Which
one was Michael Corner? ” Ron demanded furiously. “The dark
one, ” said Hermione.
“I didn ’t like him, ” said Ron at once.
“Big surprise, ” said Hermione under her breath. “But, ” said Ron,
following Hermione along a row of quills in cop - per pots, “I thought
Ginny fancied Harry! ”
Hermione looked at him rather pityingly and shook her head.
“Ginny used to fancy Harry, but she gave up on him months ago.
Not that she doesn ’t like you, of course, ” she added kindly to Harry
while she examined a long black -and -gold quill.
Harry, whose head was still full of Cho ’s parting wave, did not find this
subject quite as interesting as Ron, who was positively quivering with
indignation, but it did bring something home to him that until now he
had not really registered.
“So that ’s why she talks now? ” he asked Hermione. “She never used to
talk in fro nt of me. ”
“Exactly, ” said Hermione. “Yes, I think I ’ll have this one. . . . ” She went
up to the counter and handed over fifteen Sickles and two Knuts, Ron
still breathing down her neck.
 348 ‘

IN THE HOG ’S HEAD

“Ron, ” she said severely as she turned and trod on his feet, “this is
exactly why Ginny hasn ’t told you she ’s seeing Michael, she knew you ’d
take it badly. So don ’t harp on about it, for heaven ’s sake. ” “What d ’you
mean, who ’s taking anything badly? I ’m not going to
harp on about anything . . . ”
Ron continued to chunter under his breath all the way down the street.
Hermione rolled her eyes at Harry and then said in an under - tone, while
Ron was muttering imprecations about Michael Corner, “And talking
about Michael and Ginny . . . what about Cho and you? ”
“What d ’you mean? ” said Harry quickly.
It was as though boiling water was rising rapidly inside him; a burning
sensation that was causing his face to smart in the cold — had he been
that obvious?
“Well, ” said Hermione, smiling slightly, “she just couldn ’t keep her
eyes off you, could she? ”
Harry had never before appreciated just how beautiful the village of
Hogsmeade was.















 349 ‘

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arry felt happier for the rest of the weekend than he had done
H
all term. He and Ron spent much of Sunday catching up with all their
homework again, and although this could hardly be called fun, the last
burst of autumn sunshine persisted, so rather than sitting hunched over
tables in the common room, they took their w ork outside and lounged in
the shade of a large beech tree on the edge of the lake. Hermione, who of
course was up to date with all her work, brought more wool outside with
her and bewitched her knitting nee - dles so that they flashed and clicked
in midair beside her, producing more hats and scarves.
The knowledge that they were doing something to resist Umbridge and

the Ministry, and that he was a key part of the rebellion, gave Harry a
feeling of immense satisfaction. He kept reliving Saturday ’s meeting in
his mind: all those people, coming to him to learn Defense Against the
Dark Arts . . . and the looks on their faces as they had heard some of the
things he had done . . . and Cho praising his per - formance in the
Triwizard Tournament. . . . The knowledge that all
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those people did not think him a lying weirdo, but someone to be ad -
mired, buoyed him up so much that he was still cheerful on Monday
morning, despite the immine nt prospect of all his least favorite classes.
He and Ron headed downstairs from their dormitory together, dis -
cussing Angelina ’s idea that they were to work on a new move called the
Sloth Grip Roll during that night ’s Quidditch practice, and not until th ey
were halfway across the sunlit common room did they no - tice the
addition to the room that had already attracted the attention of a small
group of people.
A large sign had been affixed to the Gryffindor notice board, so large
that it covered everything else on there — the lists of second - hand
spellbooks for sale, the regular reminders of school rules from Argus
Filch, the Quidditch team training schedule, the offers to barter certain
Chocolate Frog cards for others, the Weasleys ’ new advertise - ment fo r
testers, the dates of the Hogsmeade weekends, and the lost - and -found
notices. The new sign was printed in large black letters and there was a
highly official -looking seal at the bottom beside a neat and curly
signature.

— by order of —
The High Inquisitor of Hogwarts
All Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and
Clubs are henceforth disbanded.
An Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club is
hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more
students. Permission to re -form may be sought from the
High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge).
No Student Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club
may exist without the knowledge and approval of the
High Inquisitor.

 351 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an
Organization, Society, Team, Group, or Club that has not
been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.
The above is in accordance with
Educational Decree Number Tw enty -four.
Signed:


high inquisitor


Harry and Ron read the notice over the heads of some anxious - looking
second years.
“Does this mean they ’re going to shut down the Gobstones Club? ” one
of them asked his friend.
“I reckon you ’ll be okay with Gobstones, ” Ron said darkly, making the
second year jump. “I don ’t think we ’re going to be as lucky, though, do
you? ” he asked Harry as the second years hurried away. Harry was
reading the notice through again. The happiness that had filled him since
Saturday was gone. His insides were pulsing with rage.
“This isn ’t a coincidence, ” he said, his hands forming fists. “She knows. ”
“She can ’t,” said Ron at once.
“There were people listening in that pub. And let ’s face it, we don ’t
know how many of the people who turned up we can trust. . . . Any of
them could have run off and told Umbridge. . . . ”
And he had thought they believed him, thought they even admired
him . . .
“Zacharias Smith! ” said Ron at once, punching a fist into his hand . “Or
— I thought that Michael Corner had a really shifty look too — ”
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“I wonder if Hermione ’s seen this yet? ” Harry said, looking around at
the door to the girls ’ dormitories.
“Let ’s go and tell her, ” said Ron. He bounded forward, pulled open the
door, and set off up the spiral staircase.
He was on the sixth stair when it happened. There was a loud, wail - ing,
klaxonlike sound and the steps melted together to make a long, smoo th
stone slide. There was a brief moment when Ron tried to keep running,
arms working madly like windmills, then he toppled over backward and
shot down the newly created slide, coming to rest on his back at Harry ’s
feet.
“Er — I don ’t think we ’re allowe d in the girls ’ dormitories, ” said Harry,
pulling Ron to his feet and trying not to laugh.
Two fourth -year girls came zooming gleefully down the stone slide.
“Oooh, who tried to get upstairs? ” they giggled happily, leaping to their
feet and ogling Harry a nd Ron.
“Me, ” said Ron, who was still rather disheveled. “I didn ’t realize that
would happen. It ’s not fair! ” he added to Harry, as the girls headed off
for the portrait hole, still giggling madly. “Hermione ’s al - lowed in our
dormitory, how come we ’re not allowed — ?”
“Well, it ’s an old -fashioned rule, ” said Hermione, who had just slid
neatly onto a rug in front of them and was now getting to her feet,
“but it says in Hogwarts, A History that the founders thought boys
were less trustworthy t han girls. Anyway, why were you trying to get in
there? ”
“To see you — look at this! ” said Ron, dragging her over to the no - tice
board.
Hermione ’s eyes slid rapidly down the notice. Her expression be - came
stony.
“Someone must have blabbed to her! ” Ron said angrily. “They can ’t
have done, ” said Hermione in a low voice. “You ’re so naive, ” said Ron,
“you think just because you ’re all hon - orable and trustworthy — ”

 353 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


“No, they can ’t have done because I put a jinx on that piece of
parchment we all signed, ” said Hermione grimly. “Believe me, if any -
one ’s run off and told Umbridge, we ’ll know exactly who they are and
they will really regret it. ”
“What ’ll happen to them? ” said Ron e agerly.
“Well, put it this way, ” said Hermione, “it’ll make Eloise Midgen ’s acne
look like a couple of cute freckles. Come on, let ’s get down to breakfast
and see what the others think. . . . I wonder whether this has been put up
in all the Houses? ”
It was immediately apparent on entering the Great Hall that Um -
bridge ’s sign had not only appeared in Gryffindor Tower. There was a
peculiar intensity about the chatter and an extra measure of move - ment
in the Hall as people scurried up and down their ta bles confer - ring on
what they had read. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had barely taken their
seats when Neville, Dean, Fred, George, and Ginny de - scended upon
them.
“Did you see it? ”
“D ’you reckon she knows? ”
“What are we going to do? ”
They were all looking at Harry. He glanced around to make sure there
were no teachers near them.
“We ’re going to do it anyway, of course, ” he said quietly. “Knew you ’d
say that, ” said George, beaming and thumping Harry on the arm.
“The prefects as well ?” said Fred, looking quizzically at Ron and
Hermione.
“Of course, ” said Hermione coolly.
“Here comes Ernie and Hannah Abbott, ” said Ron, looking over
his shoulder. “And those Ravenclaw blokes and Smith . . . and no one
looks very spotty. ”
Hermione looked alarmed.
“Never mind spots, the idiots can ’t come over here now, it ’ll look

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really suspicious — sit down! ” she mouthed to Ernie and Hannah,
gesturing frantically to them to rejoin the Hufflepuff table. “Later!
We ’ll — talk — to — you — later !”
“I’ll tell Michael, ” said Ginny impatiently, swinging herself off her bench.
“The fool, honestly . . . ”
She hurried off toward the Ravenclaw tabl e; Harry watched her go. Cho
was sitting not far away, talking to the curly -haired friend she had
brought along to the Hog ’s Head. Would Umbridge ’s notice scare her
off meeting them again?
But the full repercussions of the sign were not felt until they we re leaving
the Great Hall for History of Magic.
“Harry! Ron !”
It was Angelina and she was hurrying toward them looking per - fectly
desperate.
“It’s okay, ” said Harry quietly, when she was near enough to hear him.
“We ’re still going to — ”
“You realize she ’s including Quidditch in this? ” Angelina said over him.
“We have to go and ask permission to re -form the Gryffindor team! ”
 What ?” said Harry.
“No way, ” said Ron, appalled.
“You read the sign, it mentions teams too! So listen, Harry . . . I am
saying this for the last time. . . . Please, please don ’t lose your temper
with Umbridge again or she might not let us play anymore! ”
“Okay, okay, ” said Harry, for Angelina looked as though she was on the
verge of tears. “Don ’t worry, I ’ll behave myself. . . . ”
“Bet Umbridge is in History of Magic, ” said Ron grimly, as they set off
for Binns ’s lesson. “She hasn ’t inspected Binns yet. . . . Bet you anything
she ’s there. . . . ”
But he was wrong; the only teacher present when they entere d was
Professor Binns, floating an inch or so above his chair as usual and
preparing to continue his monotonous drone on giant wars. Harry
 355 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


did not even attempt to follow what he was saying today; he doodled idly
on his parchment ignoring Hermione ’s frequent glares and nudges, until
a particularly painful poke in the ribs made him look up angrily.
“ What ?”
She pointed at the window. Harry looked around. Hedwig was perched
on the narrow window ledge, gazing through the thick glass at him, a
letter tied to her leg. Harry could not understand it; they had just had
breakfast, why on earth hadn ’t she delivered the letter then, as usual?
Many of his classmates were pointing out Hedwig to each other too.
“Oh, I ’ve always loved that owl, she ’s so beautiful, ” Harry heard
Lavender sigh to Parvati.
He glanced around at Professor Binns who continued to read his notes,
serenely unaware that the class ’s attention was even less focused upon
him than usual. Harry slipped quietly off his chair, crouched down, and
hurried along the row to the window, where he slid the catch and opened
it very slowly.
He had expected Hedwig to hold out her leg so that he c ould re - move
the letter and then fly off to the Owlery, but the moment the window
was open wide enough she hopped inside, hooting dolefully. He closed
the window with an anxious glance at Professor Binns, crouched low
again, and sped back to his seat with Hedwig on his shoulder. He
regained his seat, transferred Hedwig to his lap, and made to remove the
letter tied to her leg.
It was only then that he realized that Hedwig ’s feathers were oddly
ruffled; some were bent the wrong way, and she was holding one of her
wings at an odd angle.
“She ’s hurt! ” Harry whispered, bending his head low over her.
Hermione and Ron leaned in closer; Hermione even put down her quill.
“Look — there ’s something wrong with her wing — ”
Hedwig was quivering; when Harry made to touch the wing she
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gave a little jump, all her feathers on end as though she was inflating
herself, and gazed at him reproachfully.
“Professor Binns, ” said Harry loudly, and everyone in the class turned to
look at him. “I’m not feeling well. ”
Professor Binns raised his eyes from his notes, looking amazed, as
always, to find the room in front of him full of people.
“Not feeling well? ” he repeated hazily.
“Not at all well, ” said Harry firmly, getting to his feet while con - cealing
Hedwig behind his back. “So I think I ’ll need to go to the hos - pital
wing. ”
“Yes, ” said Professor Binns, clearly very much wrong -footed. “Yes
. . . yes, hospital wing . . . well, off you go, then, Perkins . . . ” Once
outside the room Harry returned Hedwig to his shoulder and hurried off
up the corridor, pausing to think only whe n he was out of sight of
Binns ’s door. His first choice of somebody to cure Hedwig would have
been Hagrid, of course, but as he had no idea where Hagrid was, his only
remaining option was to find Professor Grubbly - Plank and hope she
would help.
He peered out of a window at the blustery, overcast grounds. There was
no sign of her anywhere near Hagrid ’s cabin; if she was not teach - ing,
she was probably in the staffroom. He set off downstairs, Hedwig
hooting feebly as she swayed on his shoulder.
Two stone gargoyles flanked the staffroom door. As Harry ap -
proached, one of them croaked, “You should be in class, sunny Jim. ”
“This is urgent, ” said Harry curtly.
“Ooooh, urgent, is it? ” said the other gargoyle in a high -pitched
voice. “Well, that ’s put us in our place, hasn ’t it? ”
Harry knocked; he heard footsteps and then the door opened and he
found himself face -to -face with Professor McGonagall.
“You haven ’t been given another detention! ” she said at once, her square
spectacles flashing alarmingly.
“No, Professor! ” said Harry hastily.

 357 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


“Well then, why are you out of class? ”
“It’s urgent, apparently, ” said the second gargoyle snidely.
“I’m looking for Professor Grubbly -Plank, ” Harry explained. “It’s my
owl, she ’s injured. ”
“Injured owl, did you say? ”
Professor Grubbly -Plank appeared at Professor McGonagall ’s
shoulder, smoking a pipe and holding a copy of the Daily Prophet.
“Yes, ” said Harry, lifting Hedwig carefully off his shoulder, “she turned
up after the other post owls and her wing ’s all funny, look — ” Professor
Grubbly -Plank stuck her pipe firmly between her teeth and took Hedwig
from Harry while Professor McGonagall watched . “Hmm, ” said
Professor Grubbly -Plank, her pipe waggling slightly
as she talked. “Looks like something ’s attacked her. Can ’t think what
would have done it, though. . . . Thestrals will sometimes go for birds, of
course, but Hagrid ’s got the Hogwarts thest rals well trained not to touch
owls . . . ”
Harry neither knew nor cared what thestrals were, he just wanted to
know that Hedwig was going to be all right. Professor McGonagall,
however, looked sharply at Harry and said, “Do you know how far this
owl ’s tra veled, Potter? ”
“Er, ” said Harry. “From London, I think. ”
He met her eyes briefly and knew that she understood “London ” to
mean “number twelve, Grimmauld Place ” by the way her eyebrows had
joined in the middle.
Professor Grubbly -Plank pulled a monocle out of the inside of her robes
and screwed it into her eye to examine Hedwig ’s wing closely. “I should
be able to sort this out if you leave her with me, Potter, ” she said. “She
shouldn ’t be flying long distances fo r a few days, in any case. ” “Er —
right — thanks, ” said Harry, just as the bell rang for break. “No
problem, ” said Professor Grubbly -Plank gruffly, turning back into the
staffroom.

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“Just a moment, Wilhelmina! ” said Professor McGonagall. “Pot - ter ’s
letter! ”
“Oh yeah! ” said Harry, who had momentarily forgotten the scroll tied to
Hedwig ’s leg. Professor Grubbly -Plank handed it over and then
disappeared into the staffroom carrying He dwig, who was staring at
Harry as though unable to believe he would give her away like this.
Feeling slightly guilty, he turned to go, but Professor McGonagall called
him back.
“Potter! ”
“Yes, Professor? ”
She glanced up and down the corridor; there were students coming from
both directions.
“Bear in mind, ” she said quickly and quietly, her eyes on the scroll in his
hand, “that channels of communication in and out of Hogwarts may be
being watched, won ’t you ?”
“I — ” said Harry, but the flood of students rolling along the corri - dor
was almost upon him. Professor McGonagall gave him a curt nod and
retreated into the staffroom, leaving Harry to be swept out into the
courtyard with the crowd. Here he spotted Ron and Hermione al - ready
standing in a sheltered corner, their cloak collars turned up against the
wind. Harry slit open the scroll as he hurried toward them and found
five words in Sirius ’s handwriting:
Today, same time, same place.

“Is Hedwig okay? ” asked Hermione anxiously, the moment he was
within earshot.
“Where did you take her? ” asked Ron.
“To Grubbly -Plank, ” said Harry. “And I met McGonagall. . . .
Listen. . . . ”
And he told them what Professor McGonagall had said. To his

 359 ‘

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surprise, neither of the others looked shocked; on the contrary, they
exchanged significant looks.
“What? ” said Harry, looking from Ron to Hermione and back again.
“Well, I was just saying to Ron . . . what if someone had tried to in -
tercept Hedwig? I mean, she ’s never been hurt on a flight before, has
she? ”
“Who ’s the letter from anyway? ” asked Ron, taking the note from Harry.
“Snuffles, ” said Harry quietly.
“‘Same time, same place ’? Does he mean the fire in the common room? ”
“Obviously, ” said Hermione, also reading the note. She looked un - easy.
“I just hope nobody else has read this. . . . ”
“But it was still sealed and everything, ” said Harry, trying to con - vince
himself as much as her. “And nobody would understand what it meant if
they didn ’t know where we ’d spoken to him before, would they? ”
“I don ’t know, ” said Hermione anxiously, hitching her bag back over her
shoulder as the bell rang again. “It wouldn ’t be exactly diffi - cult to reseal
the scroll by magic. . . . And if anyone ’s watching the Floo Network . . .
but I don ’t really see how we can warn him not to
come without that being intercepted too! ”
They trudged down the stone steps to the dungeo ns for Potions, all
three of them lost in thought, but as they reached the bottom of the
stairs they were recalled to themselves by the voice of Draco Malfoy,
who was standing just outside Snape ’s classroom door, waving around
an official -looking piece of parchment and talking much louder than was
necessary so that they could hear every word.
“Yeah, Umbridge gave the Slytherin Quidditch team permission to
continue playing straightaway, I went to ask her first thing this morn - ing.
Well, it was pretty muc h automatic, I mean, she knows my father
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really well, he ’s always popping in and out of the Ministry. . . . It ’ll be
interesting to see whether Gryffindor are allowed to keep playing, wont
it? ”
“Don ’t rise, ” Hermione whispered imploringly to Harry and Ron, who
were both watching Malfoy, faces set and fists clenched. “It’s what he
wants. . . . ”
“I mean, ” said Malfoy, raising his voice a little more, his gray eyes
glittering malevolently in Harry and Ron ’s direction, “if it ’s a question of
influence with the Ministry, I don ’t think they ’ve got much chance.
. . . From what my father says, they ’ve been looki ng for an excuse to
sack Arthur Weasley for years. . . . And as for Potter . . . My father says
it’s a matter of time before the Ministry has him carted off to St.
Mungo ’s. . . . apparently they ’ve got a special ward for people whose
brains have been addle d by magic. . . . ”
Malfoy made a grotesque face, his mouth sagging open and his eyes
rolling. Crabbe and Goyle gave their usual grunts of laughter, Pansy
Parkinson shrieked with glee.
Something collided hard with Harry ’s shoulder, knocking him sideways.
A split second later he realized that Neville had just charged past him,
heading straight for Malfoy.
“Neville, no !”
Harry leapt forward and seized the back of Neville ’s robes; Neville
struggled frantically, his fists flailing, trying despe rately to get at Mal - foy
who looked, for a moment, extremely shocked.
“Help me! ” Harry flung at Ron, managing to get an arm around Neville ’s
neck and dragging him backward, away from the Slytherins. Crabbe and
Goyle were now flexing their arms, closing i n front of Malfoy, ready for
the fight. Ron hurried forward and seized Neville ’s arms; together, he
and Harry succeeded in dragging Neville back into the Gryffindor line.
Neville ’s face was scarlet; the pressure Harry was exerting on his throat
rendered hi m quite incomprehensible, but odd words spluttered from
his mouth.

 361 ‘

CHAPTER
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“Not. . . funny . . . don ’t . . . Mungo ’s . . . show . . . him . . . ” The dungeon
door opened. Snape appeared there. His black eyes swept up the
Gryffindor line to the point where Harry and Ron were wrestling with
Neville.
“Fighting, Potter, Weasley, Longbottom? ” Snape said in his cold,
sneering voice. “Ten points from Gr yffindor. Release Longbottom,
Potter, or it will be detention. Inside, all of you. ”
Harry let go of Neville, who stood panting and glaring at him. “I had to
stop you, ” Harry gasped, picking up his bag. “Crabbe and Goyle
would ’ve torn you apart. ”
Nevill e said nothing, he merely snatched up his own bag and stalked off
into the dungeon.
“What in the name of Merlin, ” said Ron slowly, as they followed
Neville, “was that about? ”
Harry did not answer. He knew exactly why the subject of people who
were in St. Mungo ’s because of magical damage to their brains was
highly distressing to Neville, but he had sworn to Dumbledore that he
would not tell anyone Neville ’s secret. Even Neville did not know that
Harry knew.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione took their usual seats at the back of the
class and pulled out parchment, quills, and their copies of One Thou -
sand Magical Herbs and Fungi. The class around them was whispering
about what Neville had just done, but when Snape closed the dun - geon
door w ith an echoing bang everybody fell silent immediately. “You will
notice, ” said Snape in his low, sneering voice, “that we have a guest with
us today. ”
He gestured toward the dim corner of the dungeon, and Harry saw
Professor Umbridge sitting there, clipbo ard on her knee. He glanced
sideways at Ron and Hermione, his eyebrows raised. Snape and Um -
bridge, the two teachers he hated most . . . it was hard to decide which he
wanted to triumph over the other.

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“We are continuing with our Strengthening Solutions today, you will
find your mixtures as you left them last lesson, if correctly made they
should have matured well over the weekend — instructions ” — he
waved his wand again — “on the board. Carry on. ”
Professor Umbridge spent the first half hour of the lesson making notes
in her corner. Harry was very interested in hearing her question Snape,
so interested, that he was becoming careless with his pot ion again.
“Salamander blood, Harry! ” Hermione moaned, grabbing his wrist to
prevent him adding the wrong ingredient for the third time. “Not
pomegranate juice! ”
“Right, ” said Harry vaguely, putting down the bottle and continu - ing to
watch the corner. Umbridge had just gotten to her feet. “Ha, ” he said
softly, as she strode between two lines of desks toward Snape, who was
bending over Dean Thomas ’s cauldron.
“Well, the class seems fairly advanced for their level, ” she said briskly to
Snape ’s back. “Though I would question whether it is ad - visable to
teach them a potion like the Strengthening Solution. I think the Ministry
would prefer it if that was removed from the syllabus. ” Snape
straightened up slowly and turned to look at her.
“Now . . . how long have you been teaching at Hogwarts? ” she asked,
her quill poised over her clipboard.
“Fourteen years, ” Snape replied. His expression was unfathomable. His
eyes on Snape, Harry added a few drops to his potion; it hissed
menacingly and tu rned from turquoise to orange.
“You applied first for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, I
believe? ” Professor Umbridge asked Snape.
“Yes, ” said Snape quietly.
“But you were unsuccessful? ”
Snape ’s lip curled.
“Obviously. ”
 363 ‘

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Professor Umbridge scribbled on her clipboard. “And you have applied
regularly for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post since you first
joined the school, I believe? ”
“Yes, ” said Snape quietly, barely moving his lips. He looked very angry.
“Do you have any idea why Dumbledore has consistently refused to
appoint you? ” asked Umbridge.
“I suggest you ask him, ” said Snape jerkily.
“Oh I shall, ” said Professor Umbridge with a sweet smile. “I suppose
this is relevant? ” Snape asked, his black eyes narrowed. “Oh yes, ” said
Professor Umbridge. “Yes, the Ministry wants a thorough
understanding of teachers ’ — er — backgrounds. . . . ” She turned away,
walked over to Pansy Parkinson and began ques - tioning her about the
lessons. Snape looked around at Harry and their eyes met for a second.
Harry hastily dropped his gaze to his potion, which was now congealing
foully and giving off a strong smell of burned rubber.
“No marks again, then, Potter, ” sa id Snape maliciously, emptying
Harry ’s cauldron with a wave of his wand. “You will write me an essay
on the correct composition of this potion, indicating how and why you
went wrong, to be handed in next lesson, do you understand? ” “Yes, ”
said Harry furiou sly. Snape had already given them home - work, and he
had Quidditch practice this evening; this would mean another couple of
sleepless nights. It did not seem possible that he had awoken that
morning feeling very happy. All he felt now was a fervent desire for this
day to end as soon as possible.
“Maybe I ’ll skive off Divination, ” he said glumly as they stood again in
the courtyard after lunch, the wind whipping at the hems of robes and
brims of hats. “I’ll pretend to be ill and do Snape ’s essay in - stead, then I
won ’t have to stay up half the night. . . . ”
“You can ’t skive off Divination, ” said Hermione severely.
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“Hark who ’s talking, you walked out of Divination, you hate
Trelawney! ” said Ron indignantly.
“I don ’t hate her, ” said Hermione loftily. “I just think she ’s an ab -
solutely appalling teacher and a real old fraud. . . . But Harry ’s already
missed History of Magic and I don ’t think he ought to miss anything else
today! ”
There was too much truth in this to ignore, so half an hour later Harry
took his seat in the hot, over -perfumed atmosphere of the Div - ination
classroom feeling angry at everybody. Professor Trelawney was
handing out copies of The Dream Oracle yet agai n; he would surely be
much better employed doing Snape ’s punishment essay than sitting here
trying to find meaning in a lot of made -up dreams.
It seemed, however, that he was not the only person in Divination
who was in a temper. Professor Trelawney slammed a copy of the Or -
acle down on the table between Harry and Ron and swept away, her
lips pursed; she threw the next copy of the Oracle at Seamus and
Dean, narrowly avoiding Seamus ’s head, and thrust t he final one into
Neville ’s chest with such force that he slipped off his pouf.
“Well, carry on! ” said Professor Trelawney loudly, her voice high
pitched and somewhat hysterical. “You know what to do! Or am I such
a substandard teacher that you have never learned how to open a book? ”
The class stared perplexedly at her and then at each other. Harry,
however, thought he knew what was the matter. As Professor Trelawney
flounced back to the high -backed teacher ’s chair, her mag - nified eyes
full of angry tears , he leaned his head closer to Ron ’s and muttered, “I
think she ’s got the results of her inspection back. ” “Professor? ” said
Parvati Patil in a hushed voice (she and Lavender had always rather
admired Professor Trelawney). “Professor, is there anything — er —
wrong? ”
“Wrong! ” cried Professor Trelawney in a voice throbbing with emo - tion.
“Certainly not! I have been insulted, certainly. . . . Insinuations

 365 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


have been made against me. . . . Unfounded accusations levelled . . . but
no, there is nothing wrong, certainly not. . . . ”
She took a great shuddering breath and looked away from Parvati, angry
tears spilling from under her glasses.
“I say nothing, ” she choked, “of sixteen years ’ devoted service. . . . It has
passed, apparently, unnoticed. . . . But I shall not be insulted, no, I shall
not! ”
“But Professor, who ’s insulting you? ” asked Parvati timidly. “The
establishment! ” said Professor Trelawney in a deep, dramatic, wavering
voice. “Yes, those with eyes too clouded by the Mundane to See as I See,
to Know as I Know . . . Of course, we Seers have always been feared,
always persecuted. . . . It is — alas — our fate. . . . ”
She gulped, dabbed at her wet cheeks with the end of her shawl, and
then pulled a small, embroidered handkerchief from her sleeve, into
which she blew her nose very hard with a sound like Peeves blow - ing a
raspberry. Ron sniggered. Lavender shot him a dis gusted look.
“Professor, ” said Parvati, “do you mean . . . is it something Profes - sor
Umbridge . . . ? ”
“Do not speak to me about that woman! ” cried Professor Trelawney,
leaping to her feet, her beads rattling and her spectacles flashing.
“Kindly continu e with your work! ”
And she spent the rest of the lesson striding among them, tears still
leaking from behind her glasses, muttering what sounded like threats
under her breath.
“. . . may well choose to leave . . . the indignity of it . . . on proba - tion . . .
we shall see . . . how she dares . . . ”
“You and Umbridge have got something in common, ” Harry told
Hermione quietly when they met again in Defense Against the Dark Arts.
“She obviously reckons Trelawney ’s an old fraud too. . . . Looks like
she ’s put her on probation. ”
Umbridge entered the room as he spoke, wearing her black velvet bow

and an expression of great smugness.
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“Good afternoon, class. ”
“Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge, ” they chanted drearily.
“Wands away, please . . . ”
But there was no answering flurry of movement this time; nobody had
bothered to take out their wands.
“Please turn to page thirty -four of Defensive
Magical Theory an d read
the third chapter, entitled ‘The Case for Non -Offensive Responses to
Magical Attack. ’ There will be — ”
“— no need to talk, ” Harry, Ron, and Hermione said together un - der
their breaths.

“No Quidditch practice, ” said Angelina in hollow tones when Harry,
Ron, and Hermione entered the common room that night after dinner.
“But I kept my temper! ” said Harry, horrified. “I didn ’t say any - thing
to her, Angelina, I swear, I — ”
“I know, I know, ” said Angelina miserab ly. “She just said she needed a
bit of time to consider. ”
“Consider what? ” said Ron angrily. “She ’s given the Slytherins per -
mission, why not us? ”
But Harry could imagine how much Umbridge was enjoying hold - ing
the threat of no Gryffindor Quidditch tea m over their heads and could
easily understand why she would not want to relinquish that weapon
over them too soon.
“Well, ” said Hermione, “look on the bright side — at least now you ’ll
have time to do Snape ’s essay! ”
“That ’s a bright side, is it? ” snapped Harry, while Ron stared in -
credulously at Hermione. “No Quidditch practice and extra Potions? ”
Harry slumped down into a chair, dragged his Potions essay reluc - tantly
from his bag, and set to work.
It was very hard to concentrate; even though h e knew that Sirius was not
due in the fire until much later he could not help glancing

 367 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


into the flames every few minutes just in case. There was also an in -
credible amount of noise in the room: Fred and George appeared fi -
nally to have perfected one type of Skiving Snackbox, which they were
taking turns to demonstrate to a cheering and whooping crowd. First,
Fred would take a bite out of the orange end of a chew, at which he
would vomit spectacularly into a bucket they had placed in front of them.
Then he would force down the purple end of the chew, at which the
vomiting would immediately cease. Lee Jordan, who was assisting the
demonstration, was lazily van ishing the vomit at regular intervals with
the same Vanishing Spell Snape kept using on Harry ’s potions.
What with the regular sounds of retching, cheering, and Fred and
George taking advance orders from the crowd, Harry was finding it
exceptionally diffi cult to focus on the correct method for Strengthen -
ing Solutions. Hermione was not helping matters; the cheers and sound
of vomit hitting the bottom of Fred and George ’s bucket were
punctuated by loud and disapproving sniffs that Harry found, if any -
thi ng, more distracting.
“Just go and stop them, then! ” he said irritably, after crossing out the
wrong weight of powdered griffin claw for the fourth time.
“I can ’t, they ’re not technically doing anything wrong, ” said Her -
mione through gritted teeth. “They ’re quite within their rights to eat the
foul things themselves, and I can ’t find a rule that says the other idiots
aren ’t entitled to buy them, not unless they ’re proven to be dan - gerous
in some way, and it doesn ’t look as though they are. . . . ”
She, Harry, and Ron watched George projectile -vomit into the bucket,
gulp down the rest of the chew, and straighten up, beaming with his
arms wide to protracted applause.
“You know, I don ’t get why Fred and George only got three O.W.L.s
each, ” said Harry, watching as Fred, George, and Lee collected gold
from the eager crowd. “They really know their stuff. . . . ”

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“Oh, they only know flashy stuff that ’s no real use to anyone, ” said
Hermione disparagingly.
“No real use? ” said Ron in a strained voice. “Hermione, they ’ve got
about twenty -six Galleons already. . . . ”
It was a long while before the crowd around the Weasleys dispersed, and
then Fred, Lee, and George sat up counting t heir takings even longer, so
that it was well past midnight when Harry, Ron, and Hermione finally
had the common room to themselves again. At long last, Fred closed the
doorway to the boys ’ dormitories behind him, rattling his box of
Galleons ostentatiousl y so that Hermione scowled. Harry, who was
making very little progress with his Potions essay, de - cided to give it up
for the night. As he put his books away, Ron, who was dozing lightly in
an armchair, gave a muffled grunt, awoke, looked blearily into th e fire
and said, “Sirius! ”
Harry whipped around; Sirius ’s untidy dark head was sitting in the fire
again.
“Hi, ” he said, grinning.
“Hi, ” chorused Harry, Ron, and Hermione, all three kneeling down
upon the hearthrug. Crookshanks purred loudly and ap - proached the
fire, trying, despite the heat, to put his face close to Sirius ’s.
“How ’re things? ” said Sirius.
“Not that good, ” said Harry, as Hermione pulled Crookshanks back to
stop him singeing his whiskers. “The Ministry ’s forced through another
decree, which means we ’re not allowed to have Quid - ditch teams — ”
“— or secret Defense Against the Dark Arts groups? ” said Sirius.
There was a short pause.
“How did you know about that? ” Harry demanded. “You want to
choose your meeting places more carefu lly, ” said Sir - ius, grinning still
more broadly. “The Hog ’s Head, I ask you . . . ”
 369 ‘

CHAPTER
SEVENTEEN


“Well, it was better than the Three Broomsticks! ” said Hermione
defensively. “That ’s always packed with people — ”
“— which means you ’d have been harder to overhear, ” said Sirius.
“You ’ve got a lot to learn, Hermione. ”
“Who overheard us? ” Harry demanded.
“Mundungus, of course, ” said Sirius, and when they all looked puzzled
he laughed. “He was the witch under t he veil. ”
“That was Mundungus? ” Harry said, stunned. “What was he doing in the
Hog ’s Head? ”
“What do you think he was doing? ” said Sirius impatiently. “Keep - ing
an eye on you, of course. ”
“I’m still being followed? ” asked Harry angrily.
“Yeah, you are, ” said Sirius, “and just as well, isn ’t it, if the first thing
you ’re going to do on your weekend off is organize an illegal de - fense
group. ”
But he looked neither angry nor worried; on the contrary, he was looking
at Harry with distinct pride.
“Why was Dung hiding from us? ” asked Ron, sounding disap - pointed.
“We ’d’ve liked to ’ve seen him. ”
“He was banned from the Hog ’s Head twenty years ago, ” said Sirius,
“and that barman ’s got a long memory. We lost Moody ’s spare Invisi -
bility Cl oak when Sturgis was arrested, so Dung ’s been dressing as a
witch a lot lately. . . . Anyway . . . First of all, Ron — I’ve sworn to pass
on a message from your mother. ”
“Oh yeah? ” said Ron, sounding apprehensive.
“She says on no account whatsoever are you to take part in an ille - gal
secret Defense Against the Dark Arts group. She says you ’ll be ex - pelled
for sure and your future will be ruined. She says there will be plenty of
time to learn how to defend yourself later and that you are too young to
be worrying about that right now. She also ” — Sirius ’s eyes turned to the
other two — “advises Harry and Hermione not to proceed with the

group, though she accepts that she has no authority
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EDUCATIONAL
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over either of them and simply begs them to remember that she has their
best interests at heart. She would have written all this to you, but if the
owl had been intercepted you ’d all have b een in real trouble, and she
can ’t say it for herself because she ’s on duty tonight. ”
“On duty doing what? ” said Ron quickly.
“Never you mind, just stuff for the Order, ” said Sirius. “So it ’s fallen to
me to be the messenger and make sure you tell her I passed it all on,
because I don ’t think she trusts me to. ”
There was another pause in which Crookshanks, mewing, at - tempted to
paw Sirius ’s head, and Ron fiddled with a hole in the hearthrug.
“So you want me to say I ’m not going to take part in the defense group? ”
he muttered finally.
“Me? Certainly not! ” said Sirius, looking surprised. “I think it ’s an
excellent idea! ”
“You do? ” said Harry, his heart lifting.
“Of course I do !” said Sirius. “D ’you think your father and I would ’ve
lain down and taken orders from an old hag like Umbridge? ” “But —
last term all you did was tell me to be careful and not take risks — ”
“Last year all the evidence was that someone inside Hogwarts wa s trying
to kill you, Harry! ” said Sirius impatiently. “This year we know that
there ’s someone outside Hogwarts who ’d like to kill us all, so I think
learning to defend yourselves properly is a very good idea! ” “And if we
do get expelled? ” Hermione asked, a quizzical look on her face.
“Hermione, this whole thing was your idea! ” said Harry, staring at her.
“I know it was. . . . I just wondered what Sirius thought, ” she said,
shrugging.
“Well, better expelled and able to defend yourselves than sitting safely in
school without a clue, ” said Sirius.
 371 ‘

CHAPTER
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“Hear, hear, ” said Harry and Ron enthusiastically. “So, ” said Sirius,
“how are you organizing this group? Where are you meeting? ”
“Well, that ’s a bi t of a problem now, ” said Harry. “Dunno where we ’re
going to be able to go. . . . ”
“How about the Shrieking Shack? ” suggested Sirius. “Hey, that ’s an
idea! ” said Ron excitedly, but Hermione made a skeptical noise and all
three of them looked at her, Siriu s’s head turn - ing in the flames.
“Well, Sirius, it ’s just that there were only four of you meeting in the
Shrieking Shack when you were at school, ” said Hermione, “and all of
you could transform into animals and I suppose you could all have
squeezed under a single Invisibility Cloak if you ’d wanted to. But there
are twenty -eight of us and none of us is an Animagus, so we wouldn ’t
need so much an Invisibility Cloak as an Invisibility Marquee — ” “Fair
point, ” said Sirius, looking slightly crest fallen. “Well, I ’m sure you ’ll
come up with somewhere. . . . There used to be a pretty roomy secret
passageway behind that big mirror on the fourth floor, you might have
enough space to practice jinxes in there — ”
“Fred and George told me it ’s blocked, ” said Harry, shaking his head.
“Caved in or something. ”
“Oh . . . ” said Sirius, frowning. “Well, I ’ll have a think and get back to
— ”
He broke off. His face was suddenly tense, alarmed. He turned sideways,
apparently looking into the solid brick wall of the fireplace. “Sirius? ” said
Harry anxiously.
But he had vanished. Harry gaped at the flames for a moment, then
turned to look at Ron and Hermione.
“Why did he — ?”
Hermione gave a horrified gasp and leapt to her feet, still staring at the
fire.
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A hand had appeared amongst the flames, groping as though to catch
hold of something; a stubby, short -fingered hand covered in ugly
old -fashioned rings. . . .
The three of them ran for it; at the door of the boys ’ dormitory Harry
looked back. Umbridge ’s hand was still making snatching movements
amongst the flames, as though she knew exactly where Sirius ’s hair had
been moments before and was determined to seize it.

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mbridge has been reading your mail, Harry. There ’s no other
U
explanation. ”
“You think Umbridge attacked Hedwig? ” he said, outraged. “I’m almost
certain of it, ” said Hermione grimly. “Watch your frog, it ’s escaping. ”
Harry pointed his wand at the bullfrog that had been hopping
hopefully toward the other side of the table — “ Accio !”— and it
zoomed gloomily back into his hand.
Charms was always one of the best lessons in which to enjoy a pri - vate
chat: There was generally so much movement and activity that the

danger of being overheard was very slight. Today, with the room full of
croaking bullfrogs and cawing ravens, and with a heavy down - pour of
rain clattering and pounding aga inst the classroom windows, Harry, Ron,
and Hermione ’s whispered discussion about how Um - bridge had nearly
caught Sirius went quite unnoticed.
“I’ve been suspecting this ever since Filch accused you of ordering
Dungbombs, because it seemed such a stupi d lie, ” Hermione whis -
pered. “I mean, once your letter had been read, it would have been
 374 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


quite clear you weren ’t ordering them, so you wouldn ’t have been in
trouble at all — it’s a bit of a feeble joke, isn ’t it? But then I thought,
what if somebody just wanted an excuse to read your mail? Well then, it
would be a perfect way for Umbridge to manage it — tip off Filch, let
him do the dirty work and confiscate the letter, then eith er find a way of
stealing it from him or else demand to see it — I don ’t think Filch would
object, when ’s he ever stuck up for a student ’s rights? Harry, you ’re
squashing your frog. ”
Harry looked down; he was indeed squeezing his bullfrog so tightly its
eyes were popping; he replaced it hastily upon the desk.
“It was a very, very close call last night, ” said Hermione. “I just
wonder if Umbridge knows how close it was. Silencio !”
The bullfrog on which she was practicing her Silencing Charm was
struck dumb mid -croak and glared at her reproachfully.
“If she ’d caught Snuffles . . . ”
Harry finished the sentence for her.
“He ’d probably be back in Azkaban this morning. ” He waved his wand
without really concentrating; his bullfrog swelled like a g reen balloon
and emitted a high -pitched whistle.
“ Silencio !” said Hermione hastily, pointing her wand at Harry ’s
frog, which deflated silently before them. “Well, he mustn ’t do it again,
that ’s all. I just don ’t know how we ’re going to let him know. We can ’t
send him an owl. ”
“I don ’t reckon he ’ll risk it again, ” said Ron. “He ’s not stupid, he
knows she nearly got him. Silencio !”
The large and ugly raven in front of him let out a derisive caw.
“ Silencio ! SILENCIO !”
The raven cawed more loudly.
“It’s the way you ’re moving your wand, ” said Hermione, watching
Ron critically. “You don ’t want to wave it, it ’s more a sharp jab. ”
“Ravens are harder than frogs, ” said Ron testily.
“Fine, let ’s swap, ” said Hermione, seizing Ron ’s raven and replacing

 375 ‘

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it with her own fat bullfrog. “ Silencio !” The raven continued to open
and close its sharp beak, but no sound came out.
“Very good, Miss Granger! ” said Professor Flitwick ’s squeaky little voice
and Harry, Ron, and Hermione all jumped. “Now, let me see you try, Mr.
Weasley! ”
“Wha — ? Oh — oh, right, ” said Ron, very flustered. “Er —
Silencio !”
He jabbed at the bullfrog s o hard that he poked it in the eye; the frog
gave a deafening croak and leapt off the desk.
It came as no surprise to any of them that Harry and Ron were given
additional practice of the Silencing Charm for homework. They were
allowed to remain inside o ver break due to the down - pour outside. They
found seats in a noisy and overcrowded classroom on the first floor in
which Peeves was floating dreamily up near the chandelier, occasionally
blowing an ink pellet at the top of somebody ’s head. They had barel y sat
down when Angelina came struggling to - ward them through the groups
of gossiping students.
“I’ve got permission! ” she said. “To re -form the Quidditch team! ”
“ Excellent !” said Ron and Harry together.
“Yeah, ” said Angelina, beaming. “I went to McGonagall and I
think
she might have appealed to Dumbledore — anyway, Umbridge had to
give in. Ha! So I want you down at the pitch at seven o ’clock tonight, all
right, because we ’ve got to make up time, you realize we ’re only three
weeks away from our first match? ”
She squeezed away from them, narrowly dodged an ink pellet from
Peeves, which hit a nearby first year instead, and vanished from sight.
Ron ’s smile slipped slightly as he looked out of the window, which was
now opaque with hammering rain.
“Hope this clears up . . . What ’s up with you, Hermione? ” She too was
gazing at the window, but not as though she really saw it. Her eyes were
unfocused and there was a frown on her face. “Just thinking . . . ” she said,
still frowning at the rain -washed window.

 376 ‘

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ARMY


“About Siri . . . Snuffles? ” said Harry.
“No . . . not exactly . . . ” said Hermione slowly. “More . . . won - dering . . .
I suppose we ’re doing the right thing . . . I think . . . aren ’t we?
Harry and Ron looked at each other.
“Well, that clears that up, ” said Ron. “It would ’ve been really an - noying
if you hadn ’t explained yourself properly. ”
Hermione looked at him as though she had only just realized he was
there.
“I was just wondering, ” she said, her voice stronger now, “whether we ’re
doing the right thing, starting this Defense Against the Dark Arts
group. ”
“What! ” said Harry and Ron together.
“Hermione, it was your idea in the first place! ” said Ron indignantly.
“I know, ” said Hermione, twisting her fingers together. “But after
talking to Snuffles . . . ”
“But he ’s all for it! ” said Harry.
“Yes, ” said Hermione, staring at the window again. “Yes, that ’s what
made me think maybe it wasn ’t a good idea after all. . . . ” Peeves floated
over them on his stomach, peashooter at the ready; automatically all
three of them lifted their bags to cover their heads until he had passed.
“Let ’s get this straight, ” said Harry angrily, as they put their bags back on
the floor, “Sirius agrees with us, so you don ’t think we should do it
anymore? ”
Hermione looked tense and rather miserable. Now staring at her own
hands she said, “Do you honestly trust his jud gment? ”
“Yes, I do! ” said Harry at once. “He ’s always given us great advice! ” An
ink pellet whizzed past them, striking Katie Bell squarely in the ear.
Hermione watched Katie leap to her feet and start throw - ing things at
Peeves; it was a few moments bef ore Hermione spoke
 377 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

again and it sounded as though she was choosing her words very
carefully.
“You don ’t think he has become . . . sort of . . . reckless . . . since he ’s
been cooped up in Grimmauld Place? You don ’t think he ’s . . . kind of . . .
living through us? ”
“What d ’you mean, ‘living through us ’?” Harry retorted. “I mean . . . well,
I think he ’d love to be forming secret defense societies right under the
nose of someone from the Ministry. . . . I think he ’s really frustrated at
how little he can do where he is . . . so I think he ’s keen to kind of . . . egg
us on. ”
Ron looked utterly perplexed.
“Sirius is right, ” he said, “you do sound just like my mother. ”
Hermione bit her lip and did not answer. The bell rang just as Peeves
swooped down upon Katie and emptied an entire ink bottle over her
head.

The weather did not improve as the day wore on, so that at seven o ’clock
that evening, when Harry and Ron we nt down to the Quid - ditch pitch
for practice, they were soaked through within minutes, their feet slipping
and sliding on the sodden grass. The sky was a deep, thundery gray and it
was a relief to gain the warmth and light of the changing rooms, even if
they knew the respite was only temporary. They found Fred and George
debating whether to use one of their own Skiving Snackboxes to get out
of flying.
“— but I bet she ’d know what we ’d done, ” Fred said out of the cor - ner
of his mouth. “If only I hadn ’t of fered to sell her some Puking Pastilles
yesterday — ”
“We could try the Fever Fudge, ” George muttered, “no one ’s seen that
yet — ”
“Does it work? ” inquired Ron hopefully, as the hammering of rain on
the roof intensified and wind howled around the building. “Well, yeah, ”
said Fred, “your temperature ’ll go right up — ”
 378 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


“— but you get these massive pus -filled boils too, ” said George, “and
we h aven ’t worked out how to get rid of them yet. ”
“I can ’t see any boils, ” said Ron, staring at the twins. “No, well, you
wouldn ’t,” said Fred darkly, “they ’re not in a place we generally display
to the public — ”
“— but they make sitting on a broom a right pain in the — ” “All right,
everyone, listen up, ” said Angelina loudly, emerging from the Captain ’s
office. “I know it ’s not ideal weather, but there ’s a good chance we ’ll be
playing Slytherin in conditions like this so it ’s a good idea to work out
how we ’re going to cope with them. Harry, didn ’t you do something to
your glasses to stop the rain fogging them up when we played Hufflepuff
in that storm? ”
“Hermione did it, ” said Harry. He pulled out his wand, tapped his
glas ses and said, “Impervius !”
“I think we all ought to try that, ” said Angelina. “If we could just keep
the rain off our faces it would really help visibility — all to -
gether, come on — Impervius ! Okay. Let ’s go. ”
They all stowed their wands back in t he inside pockets of their robes,
shouldered their brooms, and followed Angelina out of the changing
rooms.
They squelched through the deepening mud to the middle of the pitch;
visibility was still very poor even with the Impervius Charm; light was
fading fast and curtains of rain were sweeping the grounds. “All right, on
my whistle, ” shouted Angelina.
Harry kicked off from the ground, spraying mud in all directions, and
shot upward, the wind pulling him slightly off course. He had no idea
how he was going to see the Snitch in this weather; he was hav - ing
enough difficulty seeing the one Bludger with which they were
practicing; a minute into the practice it almost unseated him and he had
to use the Sloth Grip Roll to avoid it. Unfortun ately Angelina did not see
this; in fact, she did not appear to be able to see anything; none of them
had a clue what the others were doing. The wind was

 379 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

picking up; even at a distance Harry could hear the swishing, pound - ing
sounds of the rain pummeling the surface of the lake.
Angelina kept them at it for nearly an hour before conceding de - feat.
She led her sodden and disgruntled team back into the changing rooms,
insisting that the practice had not been a waste of time, though without
any real conviction in her voice. Fred and George were look - ing
particularly annoyed; both were bandy -legged and winced with every
movement. Harry could hear them complaining in low voices as he
toweled his hai r dry.
“I think a few of mine have ruptured, ” said Fred in a hollow voice.
“Mine haven ’t,” said George, wincing. “They ’re throbbing like mad
. . . feel bigger if anything . . . ”
“OUCH! ” said Harry.
He pressed th e towel to his face, his eyes screwed tight with pain. The
scar on his forehead had seared again, more painfully than in months.
“What ’s up? ” said several voices.
Harry emerged from behind his towel; the changing room was blurred
because he was not wea ring his glasses; but he could still tell that
everyone ’s face was turned toward him.
“Nothing, ” he muttered, “I — poked myself in the eye, that ’s all. . . . ”
But he gave Ron a significant look and the two of them hung back as the
rest of the team filed back outside, muffled in their cloaks, their hats
pulled low over their ears.
“What happened? ” said Ron, the moment that Alicia had disap - peared
through the door. “Was it your scar? ”
Harry nodded.
“But . . . ” Looking s cared, Ron strode across to the window and stared
out into the rain, “He — he can ’t be near us now, can he? ” “No, ” Harry
muttered, sinking onto a bench and rubbing his
 380 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


forehead. “He ’s probably miles away. It hurt because . . . he ’s . . . angry. ”
Harry had not meant to say that at all, and heard the words as though a
stranger had spoken them — yet he knew at once that they were true. He
did not know how he knew it, but he did; Volde mort, wherever he was,
whatever he was doing, was in a towering temper. “Did you see him? ”
said Ron, looking horrified. “Did you . . . get a vision, or something? ”
Harry sat quite still, staring at his feet, allowing his mind and his memory
to relax in the aftermath of the pain. . . .
A confused tangle of shapes, a howling rush of voices . . . “He wants
something done, and it ’s not happening fast enough, ” he said.
Again, he felt surprised to hear the words coming out of his mouth, and
yet quite cer tain that they were true.
“But . . . how do you know? ” said Ron.
Harry shook his head and covered his eyes with his hands, pressing
down upon them with his palms. Little stars erupted in them. He felt
Ron sit down on the bench beside him and knew Ron was staring at him.
“Is this what it was about last time? ” said Ron in a hushed voice. “When
your scar hurt in Umbridge ’s office? You -Know -Who was angry? ”
Harry shook his head.
“What is it, then? ”
Harry was thinking himself back. He had been looking into Um -
bridge ’s face. . . . His scar had hurt . . . and he had had that odd feel -
ing in his stomach . . . a strange, leaping feeling . . . a happy feeling.
. . . But, of course, he had not recogniz ed it for what it was, as he had
been feeling so miserable himself. . . .
“Last time, it was because he was pleased, ” he said. “Really pleased.
 381 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

He thought . . . something good was going to happen. And the night
before we came back to Hogwarts . . . ” He thought back to the mo -
ment when his scar had hurt so badly in his and Ron ’s bedroom in
Grimmauld Place. “He was furious. . . . ”
He looked around at Ron, who was gaping at him. “You could take over
from Trelawney, mate, ” he said in an awed voice.
“I’m not making prophecies, ” said Harry.
“No, you know what you ’re doing? ” Ron said, sounding both scared
and impressed. “Harry, you ’re reading You -Know -Who ’s mind. . . . ”
“No, ” said Harry, shaking his head. “It’s more like . . . his mood, I
suppose. I ’m just getting flashes of what mood he ’s in. . . . Dumble - dore
said something like this was happening last year. . . . He said tha t when
Voldemort was near me, or when he was feeling hatred, I could tell. Well,
now I ’m feeling it when he ’s pleased too. . . . ”
There was a pause. The wind and rain lashed at the building.
“You ’ve got to tell someone, ” said Ron.
“I told Sirius last time. ”
“Well, tell him about this time! ”
“Can ’t, can I? ” said Harry grimly. “Umbridge is watching the owls and
the fires, remember? ”
“Well then, Dumbledore — ”
“I’ve just told you, he already knows, ” said Harry shortly, getting to his
feet, taking his cloak off his peg, and swinging it around himself.
“There ’s no point telling him again. ”
Ron did up the fastening of his own cloak, watching Harry thoughtfully.
“Dumbledore ’d want to know, ” he said.
Harry shrugged.
“C’mon . . . we ’ve still got Silencing Charms to practice . . . ” They hurried
back through the dark grounds, sliding and stum - bling up the muddy
lawns, not talking. Harry was thinking hard.
 382 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


What was it that Voldemort wanted done that was not happening
quickly enough?
“ He ’s got other plans . . . plans he can put into operation very quietly indeed . . . stuff
he can only get by stealth . . . like a weapon. Something
he didn ’t have last time. ”
He had not thought about those words in weeks; he had been too
absorbed in what was going on at Hogwarts, too busy dwelling on the
ongoing battles with Umbridge, the injustice of all the Ministry inter -
ference. . . . But now they came back to him and made him wonder.
. . . Voldemort ’s anger would make sense if he was no nearer laying
hands on the weapon, whatever it was. . . . Had the Order thwarted him,
stopped him from seizing it? Where was it kept? Who had it now?
“ Mimbulus mimbletonia, ” said Ron ’s voice and
Harry came back to
his senses just in time to clamber through the portrait hole into the
common room.
It appeared that Hermione had gone to bed early, leaving Crook - shanks
curled in a nearby chair and an assortment of knobbly, knitted elf hats
lying on a table by the fire. Harry was rather grateful that she was not
around because he did not much want to discuss his scar hurting and
have her urge him to go to Dumbledore too. Ron kept throwing him
anxious glances, but Harry pulled out his Potions book and set to work
to finish his essay, though he was only pretending to concentrate and, by
the time that Ron said he was going to bed too, had written hardly
anything.
Midnight came and went while Harry was reading and rereading a
passage abo ut the uses of scurvy -grass, lovage, and sneezewort and not
taking in a word of it. . . .
These plantes are moste efficacious in the inflaming of the braine, and are therefore
much used in Confusing and Befuddlement Draughts, where
the wizard is desiro us of producing hot -headedness and recklessness. . . .
. . . Hermione said Sirius was becoming reckless cooped up in

Grimmauld Place. . . .
 383 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

. . . moste efficacious in the inflaming of the braine, and are therefore
much used . . .
. . . the Daily Prophet would think his brain was inflamed if they
found out that he knew what Voldemort was feeling . . .
. . .therefore much used in Confusing and Befuddlement Draughts . . .
. . . confusing was the word, all right; why did he know what Volde -
mort was feeling? What was this weird connection between them, which
Dumbledore had never been able to explain satisfac torily?
. . .where the wizard is desirous . . .
. . .how he would like to sleep . . .
. . .of producing hot -headedness . . .
. . . It was warm and comfortable in his armchair before the fire, with
the rain still beating heavily on the windowpanes and Crook - shanks
purring and the crackling of the flames. . . .
The book slipped from Harry ’s slack grip and landed with a dull thud on
the hearthrug. His head fell sideways. . . .
He was walking once more along a windowless corridor, his fo ot - steps
echoing in the silence. As the door at the end of the passage loomed
larger his heart beat fast with excitement. . . . If he could only open it . . .
enter beyond . . .
He stretched out his hand. . . . His fingertips were inches from it. . . .
“Harry Potter, sir! ”
He awoke with a start. The candles had all been extinguished in the
common room, but there was something moving close by. “Whozair? ”
said Harry, sitting upright in his chair. The fire was al - most extinguished,
the room very dark.
“Dobby has your owl, sir! ” said a squeaky voice. “Dobby? ” said Harry
thickly, peering through the gloom toward the source of the voice.
Dobby the house -elf was standing beside the table on which Hermione
had left her half a dozen knitted hats. His large, pointed ears were now
sticking out from beneath what looked like all the hats
 384 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


that Hermione had ever knitted; he was wearing one on top of the other,
so that his head seemed elongated by two or three feet, and on the very
topmost bobble sat Hedwig, hooting serenely and obviously cured.
“Dobby volunteered to return Harry Potter ’s owl! ” said the elf squeakily,
with a look of positive adoration o n his face. “Professor Grubbly -Plank
says she is all well now, sir! ”
He sank into a deep bow so that his pencil -like nose brushed the
threadbare surface of the hearthrug and Hedwig gave an indignant hoot
and fluttered onto the arm of Harry ’s chair.
“Th anks, Dobby! ” said Harry, stroking Hedwig ’s head and blinking hard,
trying to rid himself of the image of the door in his dream. . . . It had
been very vivid. . . . Looking back at Dobby, he noticed that the elf was
also wearing several scarves and innumer able socks, so that his feet
looked far too big for his body.
“Er . . . have you been taking all the clothes Hermione ’s been leav -
ing out? ”
“Oh no, sir, ” said Dobby happily, “Dobby has been taking some for
Winky too, sir. ”
“Yeah, how is Winky? ” asked Harry.
Dobby ’s ears drooped slightly.
“Winky is still drinking lots, sir, ” he said sadly, his enormous round
green eyes, large as tennis balls, downcast. “She still does not care for
clothes, Harry Potter. Nor do the other house -elves. None of t hem will
clean Gryffindor Tower anymore, not with the hats and socks hid - den
everywhere, they finds them insulting, sir. Dobby does it all him - self, sir,
but Dobby does not mind, sir, for he always hopes to meet Harry Potter
and tonight, sir, he has got his wish! ” Dobby sank into a deep bow again.
“But Harry Potter does not seem happy, ” Dobby went on, straightening
up again and looking timidly at Harry. “Dobby heard him muttering in
his sleep. Was Harry Potter having bad dreams? ”
 385 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

“Not really bad, ” said Harry, yawning and rubbing his eyes. “I’ve had
worse. ”
The elf surveyed Harry out of his vast, orblike eyes. Then he said very
seriously, his ears drooping, “Dobby wishes he could help Harry Potter,
for Harry Potter set Dobby free and Dobby is much, much happier
now. . . . ”
Harry smiled.
“You can ’t help me, Dobby, but thanks for the offer. . . . ” He bent and
picked up his Potions book. He ’d have to try and fin - ish the essay
tomorrow. He closed the book and as he did so the fire - light illuminated
the thin white scars on the back of his hand — the result of his detention
with Umbridge.
“Wait a moment — there is something you can do for me, Dobby, ”
said Harry slowly.
The elf looked around, beaming.
“Name it, Harry Potter, sir! ”
“I need to find a place where twenty -eight people can practice De - fense
Against the Dark Arts without being discovered by any of the teachers.
Especially, ” Harry clenche d his hand on the book, so that the scars
shone pearly white, “Professor Umbridge. ”
He expected the elf ’s smile to vanish, his ears to droop; he expected him
to say that this was impossible, or else that he would try, but his hopes
were not high. . . . Wh at he had not expected was for Dobby to give a
little skip, his ears waggling happily, and clap his hands together. “Dobby
knows the perfect place, sir! ” he said happily. “Dobby heard tell of it
from the other house -elves when he came to Hogwarts, sir. It is known
by us as the Come and Go Room, sir, or else as the Room of
Requirement! ”
“Why? ” said Harry curiously.
“Because it is a room that a person can only enter, ” said Dobby se -
riously, “when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and
some times it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the
 386 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


seeker ’s needs. Dobby has used it, sir, ” said the elf, dropping his voice
and looking guilty, “when Winky has been very drunk. He has hidden
her in the Room of Requirement and he has found antidotes to
butterbeer there, and a nice elf -sized bed to settle her on while she sleeps
it off, sir. . . . And Dobby knows Mr. Filch has found extra cleaning
m aterials there when he has run short, sir, and — ”
“— and if you really needed a bathroom, ” said Harry, suddenly re -
membering something Dumbledore had said at the Yule Ball the pre -
vious Christmas, “would it fill itself with chamber pots? ”
“Dobby expe cts so, sir, ” said Dobby, nodding earnestly. “It is a most
amazing room, sir. ”
“How many people know about it? ” said Harry, sitting up straighter in
his chair.
“Very few, sir. Mostly people stumbles across it when they needs it, sir,
but often they never finds it again, for they do not know that it is always
there waiting to be called into service, sir. ”
“It sounds brilliant, ” said Harry, his heart racing. “It sounds per - fect,
Dobby. When can you show me where it is? ”
“Anytime, Harry Potter, sir, ” said Dobby, looking delighted at Harry ’s
enthusiasm. “We could go now, if you like! ”
For a moment Harry was tempted to go now; he was halfway out of his
seat, intending to hurry upstairs for his Invisibility Cloak when, not for
the fi rst time, a voice very much like Hermione ’s whispered in
his ear: reckless. It was, after all, very late, he was exhausted and had
Snape ’s essay to finish.
“Not tonight, Dobby, ” said Harry reluctantly, sinking back into his chair.
“This is really important. . . . I don ’t want to blow it, it ’ll need proper
planning. . . . Listen, can you just tell me exactly where this Room of
Requirement is and how to get in there? ”

Their robes billowed and swirled around them as they splashed a cross

the flooded vegetable patch to double Herbology, where they could
 387 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

hardly hear what Professor Sprout was saying over the hammering of
raindrops hard as hailstones on the greenhouse roof. The afternoon ’s
Care of Magical Creatures lesson was to be relocated from the storm -
swept grounds to a free classroom on the ground floor and, to their
intense relief, Angelina sought out her team at lu nch to tell them that
Quidditch practice was canceled.
“Good, ” said Harry quietly, when she told him, “because we ’ve found
somewhere to have our first Defense meeting. Tonight, eight o ’clock,
seventh floor opposite that tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy be ing
clubbed by those trolls. Can you tell Katie and Alicia? ”
She looked slightly taken aback but promised to tell the others; Harry
returned hungrily to his sausages and mash. When he looked up to take a
drink of pumpkin juice, he found Hermione watchin g him.
“What? ” he said thickly.
“Well . . . it ’s just that Dobby ’s plans aren ’t always that safe. Don ’t you
remember when he lost you all the bones in your arm? ”
“This room isn ’t just some mad idea of Dobby ’s; Dumbledore knows
about it too, he menti oned it to me at the Yule Ball. ” Hermione ’s
expression cleared.
“Dumbledore told you about it? ”
“Just in passing, ” said Harry, shrugging.
“Oh well, that ’s all right then, ” said Hermione briskly and she raised no
more objections.
Together with Ron they had spent most of the day seeking out those
people who had signed their names to the list in the Hog ’s Head and
telling them where to meet that evening. Somewhat to Harry ’s
disappointment, it was Ginny who managed to find Cho Chang a nd her
friend first; however, by the end of dinner he was confident that the
news had been passed to every one of the twenty -five people who had
turned up in the Hog ’s Head.
At half -past seven Harry, Ron, and Hermione left the Gryffindor
 388 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


common room, Harry clutching a certain piece of aged parchment in his
hand. Fifth years were allowed to be out in the corridors until nine
o’clock, but all three of them kept looking around nervously as they
made their way up to the seventh floor.
“Hold it, ” said Harry warningly, unfolding the piece of parchment at the
top of the last staircase, tapping it with his wand, and mutter - ing, “I
solemnly swear that I am up to no good. ”
A map of Hogwarts appeared upon the blank surface of the parch - ment.
Tiny black moving dots, labeled with names, showed where various
people were.
“Filch is on the second floor, ” said Harry, holding the map clo se to his
eyes and scanning it closely, “and Mrs. Norris is on the fourth. ” “And
Umbridge? ” said Hermione anxiously.
“In her office, ” said Harry, pointing. “Okay, let ’s go. ” They hurried
along the corridor to the place Dobby had described to Harry, a stretch
of blank wall opposite an enormous tapestry de - picting Barnabas the
Barmy ’s foolish attempt to train trolls for the ballet.
“Okay, ” said Harry quietly, while a moth -eaten troll paused in his
relentless clubbing of the would -be ballet teacher to watch. “Dobby said
to walk past this bit of wall three times, concentrating hard on what we
need. ”
They did so, turning sharply at the window just beyond the blank stretch
of wall, then at the man -size vase on its other side. Ron had screwed up
his eyes in concentration, Hermione was whispering something under
her breath, Harry ’s fists were clenched as he stared ahead of him.
We need somewhere to learn to fight. . . . he thought. Just give us a
place to practice . . . somewhere they can ’t find us . . .
“Harry, ” said Hermione sharply, as they wheeled around after their third
walk past.
A highly polished door had appeared in the wall. Ron was staring
 389 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

at it, looking slightly wary. Harry reached out, seized the brass handle,
pulled open the door, and led the way into a spacious room lit with
flickering torches like those that illuminated the dungeons eight floors
below.
The walls were lined with woode n bookcases, and instead of chairs there
were large silk cushions on the floor. A set of shelves at the far end of
the room carried a range of instruments such as Sneakoscopes, Secrecy
Sensors, and a large, cracked Foe -Glass that Harry was sure had hung,
the previous year, in the fake Moody ’s office.
“These will be good when we ’re practicing Stunning, ” said Ron
enthusiastically, prodding one of the cushions with his foot.
“And just look at these books! ” said Hermione excitedly, running a
finger along the spines of the large leather -bound tomes. “ A Com -
pendium of Common Curses and Their Counter -Actions . . . The Dark
Arts Outsmarted . . . Self -Defensive Spellwork . . . wow . . . ” She looked
around at Harry, her face glowing, and he saw that the presence of
hundreds of books had finally convinced Hermione that what they were
doing was right. “Harry, this is wonderful, there ’s everything we need
here! ”
And without further ado she slid Jinxes for the Jinxed from its shelf,
san k onto the nearest cushion, and began to read.
There was a gentle knock on the door. Harry looked around; Ginny,
Neville, Lavender, Parvati, and Dean had arrived.
“Whoa, ” said Dean, staring around, impressed. “What is this place? ”
Harry began to explain, but before he had finished more people had
arrived, and he had to start all over again. By the time eight o ’clock
arrived, every cushion was occupied. Harry moved across to the door
and turned the key protruding from the lock; it cl icked in a satisfyingly
loud way and everybody fell silent, looking at him.
Hermione carefully marked her page of Jinxes for the Jinxed and set the
book aside.
 390 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


“Well, ” said Harry, slightly nervously. “This is the place we ’ve found for
practices, and you ’ve — er — obviously found it okay — ” “It’s
fantastic! ” said Cho, and several people murmured their agreement.
“It’s bizarre, ” said Fred, frowning around at it. “We o nce hid from Filch
in here, remember, George? But it was just a broom cupboard then. . . . ”
“Hey, Harry, what ’s this stuff? ” asked Dean from the rear of the room,
indicating the Sneakoscopes and the Foe -Glass.
“Dark Detectors, ” said Harry, stepping betwe en the cushions to reach
them. “Basically they all show when Dark wizards or enemies are around,
but you don ’t want to rely on them too much, they can be fooled. . . . ”
He gazed for a moment into the cracked Foe -Glass; shadowy fig - ures
were moving around inside it, though none was recognizable. He turned
his back on it.
“Well, I ’ve been thinking about the sort of stuff we ought to do first and
— er — ” He noticed a raised hand. “What, Hermione? ”
“I think we ought to elect a leader ,” said Hermione.
“Harry ’s leader, ” said Cho at once, looking at Hermione as though she
were mad, and Harry ’s stomach did yet another back flip. “Yes, but I
think we ought to vote on it properly, ” said Hermione, unperturbed. “It
makes it formal and it g ives him authority. So — everyone who thinks
Harry ought to be our leader? ”
Everybody put up their hands, even Zacharias Smith, though he did it
very halfheartedly.
“Er — right, thanks, ” said Harry, who could feel his face burning.
“And — what, Hermi one? ”
“I also think we ought to have a name, ” she said brightly, her hand still
in the air. “It would promote a feeling of team spirit and unity, don ’t you
think? ”
“Can we be the Anti -Umbridge League? ” said Angelina hopefully.
 391 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

“Or the Ministry of Magic Are Morons Group? ” suggested Fred. “I was
thinking, ” said Hermione, frowning at Fred, “more of a name that didn ’t
tell everyone what we were up to, so we can refer to it safely ou tside
meetings. ”
“The Defense Association? ” said Cho. “The D.A. for short, so no -
body knows what we ’re talking about? ”
“Yeah, the D.A. ’s good, ” said Ginny. “Only let ’s make it stand for
Dumbledore ’s Army because that ’s the Ministry ’s worst fear, isn ’t it? ”
There was a good deal of appreciative murmuring and laughter at this.
“All in favor of the D.A.? ” said Hermione bossily, kneeling up on her
cushion to count. “That ’s a majority — motion passed! ”
She pinned the piece of paper with all of their names on it on the wall
and wrote DUMBLEDORE ’S ARMY across the top in large letters.
“Right, ” said Harry, when she had sat down again, “shall we get
practicing then? I was thinking, the first thing we should do is Expel -
liarmus, you know, the Disarming Charm. I know it ’s pretty basic but
I’ve found it really useful — ”
“Oh please, ” said Zacharias Smith, rolling his eyes and folding his
arms. “I don ’t think Expelliarmus is exactly going to help us against
You -Know -Who, do you? ”
“I’ve used it against him, ” said Harry quietly. “It saved my life last June. ”
Smith opened his mouth stupidly. The rest of the room was very quiet.
“But if you think it ’s beneath you, you can leave, ” Harry said.
Smith did not move. Nor did anybody else.
“O kay, ” said Harry, his mouth slightly drier than usual with all those
eyes upon him, “I reckon we should all divide into pairs and practice. ”
It felt very odd to be issuing instructions, but not nearly as odd as
 392 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


seeing them followed. Everybody got to their feet at once and divided up.
Predictably, Neville was left partnerless.
“You can practice with me, ” Harry told him. “Right — on the count of
three, then — one, two, three — ”
The room was suddenly full of shouts of “ Expelliarmus !”: Wands
flew in all directions, missed spells hit books on shelves and sent them
flying into the air. Harry was too quick for Neville, whose wand went
spinning out of his hand, hit the ceiling in a shower of sparks, and landed
with a clatter on top of a bookshelf, from which Harry re - trieved it with
a Summoning Charm. Glancing around he thought he had been right to
suggest that they practice the basics first; there was a lot of shoddy
spellwork goin g on; many people were not succeeding in disarming their
opponents at all, but merely causing them to jump backward a few paces
or wince as the feeble spell whooshed over them.
“ Expelliarmus !” said Neville, and Harry, caught unawares, felt his
wand fly out of his hand.
“I DID IT! ” said Neville gleefully. “I’ve never done it before — I DID
IT! ”
“Good one! ” said Harry encouragingly, deciding not to point out that in
a real duel situation Neville ’s opponent was unlikely to be star - ing in the
opposit e direction with his wand held loosely at his side. “Listen, Neville,
can you take it in turns to practice with Ron and Hermione for a couple
of minutes so I can walk around and see how the rest are doing? ”
Harry moved off into the middle of the room. Something very odd was
happening to Zacharias Smith; every time he opened his mouth to
disarm Anthony Goldstein, his own wand would fly out of his hand, yet
Anthony did not seem to be making a sound. Harry did n ot have to look
far for the solution of the mystery, however; Fred and George were
several feet from Smith and taking it in turns to point their wands at his
back.
 393 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

“Sorry, Harry, ” said George hastily, when Harry caught his eye.
“Couldn ’t resist . . . ”
Harry walked around the other pairs, trying to correct those who were
doing the spell wrong. Ginny was teamed with Michael Corner; she was
doing very well, whereas Michael was eith er very bad or un - willing to
jinx her. Ernie Macmillan was flourishing his wand unnec - essarily,
giving his partner time to get in under his guard; the Creevey brothers
were enthusiastic but erratic and mainly responsible for all the books
leaping off the shelves around them. Luna Lovegood was similarly
patchy, occasionally sending Justin Finch -Fletchley ’s wand spinning out
of his hand, at other times merely causing his hair to stand on end.
“Okay, stop! ” Harry shouted. “ Stop ! STOP !”
I need a whistle, he thought, and immediately spotted one lying on
top of the nearest row of books. He caught it up and blew hard. Every -
one lowered their wands.
“That wasn ’t bad, ” said Harry, “but there ’s definite room for im -
provement. ” Zacharias Sm ith glared at him. “Let ’s try again. . . . ” He
moved off around the room again, stopping here and there to make
suggestions. Slowly the general performance improved. He avoided
going near Cho and her friend for a while, but after walking twice around
every other pair in the room felt he could not ignore them any longer.
“Oh no, ” said Cho rather wildly as he approached. “ Expelliarmious !
I mean, Expellimellius ! I — oh, sorry, Marietta! ”
Her curly -haired friend ’s sleeve had caught fire; Marietta extin - guished
it with her own wand and glared at Harry as though it was his fault.
“You made me nervous, I was doing all right before then! ” Cho told
Harry ruefully.
“That was quite good, ” Harry lied, but when she rais ed her eye -
 394 ‘

DUMBLEDORE ’S
ARMY


brows he said, “Well, no, it was lousy, but I know you can do it prop -
erly, I was watching from over there. . . . ”
She laughed. Her friend Marietta looked at them rather sourly and
turned away.
“Don ’t mind her, ” Cho muttered. “She doesn ’t really want to be here
but I made her come with me. Her parents have forbidden her to do
anything that might upset Umbridge, you see — her mum works for the
Ministry. ”
“What about your parents? ” asked Harry.
“Well, they ’ve forbidden me to get on the wrong side of Umbridge too, ”
said Cho, drawing herself up proudly. “But if they think I ’m not going to
fight You -Know -Who after wha t happened to Cedric — ” She broke off,
looking rather confused, and an awkward silence fell between them;
Terry Boot ’s wand went whizzing past Harry ’s ear and hit Alicia Spinnet
hard on the nose.
“Well, my father is very supportive of any anti -Ministry action! ”
said Luna Lovegood proudly from just behind Harry; evidently she had
been eavesdropping on his conversation while Justin Finch - Fletchley
attempted to disentangle himself from the robes that had flown up over
his head. “He ’s always saying he ’d believe anything of Fudge, I mean, the
number of goblins Fudge has had assassinated! And of course he uses
the Department of Mysteries to develop terrible poisons, which he feeds
secretly to anybody who disagrees with him. And then there ’s his
Umgubular Slashkilter — ”
“Don ’t ask, ” Harry muttered to Cho as she opened her mouth, looking
puzzled. She giggled.
“Hey, Harry, ” Hermione called from the other end of the room, “have
you checked the time? ”
He looked down at his watch and received a shock — it was al- ready ten
past nine, which meant they needed to get back to their common rooms
immediately or risk being caught and punished by

 395 ‘

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Filch for being out -of -bounds. He blew his whistle; everybody
stopped shouting, “ Expelliarmus !” and the last couple of wands clat -
tered to the floor.
“Well, that was pretty good, ” said Harry, “but we ’ve overrun, we ’d
better leave it here. Same time, same place next week? ”
“Sooner! ” said Dean Thomas eagerly and many people nodded in
agreement.
Angelina, however, said quickly, “The Quidditch season ’s about to start,
we need team practices too! ”
“Let ’s say next Wednesday night, then, ” said Harry, “and we can decide
on additional meet ings then. . . . Come on, we ’d better get going. . . . ”
He pulled out the Marauder ’s Map again and checked it carefully for
signs of teachers on the seventh floor. He let them all leave in threes and
fours, watching their tiny dots anxiously to see that t hey re - turned safely
to their dormitories: the Hufflepuffs to the basement corridor that also
led to the kitchens, the Ravenclaws to a tower on the west side of the
castle, and the Gryffindors along the corridor to the seventh floor and
the Fat Lady ’s por trait.
“That was really, really good, Harry, ” said Hermione, when finally it was
just her, Harry, and Ron left.
“Yeah, it was! ” said Ron enthusiastically, as they slipped out of the door
and watched it melt back into stone behind them. “Did you see me
disarm Hermione, Harry? ”
“Only once, ” said Hermione, stung. “I got you loads more than you got
me — ”
“I did not only get you once, I got you at least three times — ” “Well, if
you ’re counting the one where you tripped over your own feet and
knocked the wand out of my hand — ”
They argued all the way back to the common room, but Harry was not
listening to them. He had one eye on the Marauder ’s Map, but he was
also thinking of how Cho had said he made her nervous. . . .
 396 ‘

C H A P T E R N I N E T E
E N










THE LION AND
THE SERPENT



arry felt as though he were carrying some kind of talisman
H
inside his chest over the following two weeks, a glowing se -
cret that supported him through Umbridge ’s classes and even made it
possible for him to smile blandly as he looked into her horrible bulging
eyes. He and the D.A. were resisting her under her very nose, doing the
very thin g that she and the Ministry most feared, and when - ever he was
supposed to be reading Wilbert Slinkhard ’s book during her lessons he
dwelled instead on satisfying memories of their most re - cent meetings,
remembering how Neville had successfully disarmed H ermione, how
Colin Creevey had mastered the Impediment Jinx af - ter three meetings ’

hard effort, how Parvati Patil had produced such a good Reductor Curse
that she had reduced the table carrying all the Sneakoscopes to dust.
He was finding it almost impos sible to fix a regular night of the week for
D.A. meetings, as they had to accommodate three separate Quidditch
teams ’ practices, which were often rearranged depending on the weather
conditions; but Harry was not sorry about this, he had a feeling that it
was probably better to keep the timing of their meetings
 397 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

unpredictable. If anyone was watching them, it would be hard to make
out a pattern.
Hermione soon devised a very clever met hod of communicating the
time and date of the next meeting to all the members in case they needed
to change it at short notice, because it would look so suspi - cious if
people from different Houses were seen crossing the Great Hall to talk
to each other to o often. She gave each of the members of the D.A. a fake
Galleon (Ron became very excited when he saw the basket at first,
convinced that she was actually giving out gold).
“You see the numerals around the edge of the coins? ” Hermione said,
holding one up for examination at the end of their fourth meet - ing. The
coin gleamed fat and yellow in the light from the torches. “On real
Galleons that ’s just a serial number referring to the goblin who cast the
coin. On these fake coins, though, the numbers will cha nge to reflect the
time and date of the next meeting. The coins will grow hot when the date
changes, so if you ’re carrying them in a pocket you ’ll be able to feel them.
We take one each, and when Harry sets the
date of the next meeting he ’ll change the numbers on his coin, and be -
cause I ’ve put a Protean Charm on them, they ’ll all change to mimic his. ”
A blank silence greeted Hermione ’s words. She looked around at all the
faces upturned to her, rather disconcerted.
“Well — I thought it was a good idea, ” she said uncertainly, “I mean,
even if Umbridge asked us to turn out our pockets, there ’s nothing fishy
about carrying a Galleon, is there? But . . . well, if you don ’t want to use
them . . . ”
“You can do a Protean Charm? ” said Terry Bo ot.
“Yes, ” said Hermione.
“But that ’s . . . that ’s N.E.W.T. standard, that is, ” he said weakly. “Oh, ”
said Hermione, trying to look modest. “Oh . . . well . . . yes, I suppose it
is. . . . ”
 398 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
“How come you ’re not in Ravenclaw? ” he demanded, staring at
Hermione with something close to wonder. “With brains like yours? ”
“Well, the Sorting Hat did seriously consider putting me in Raven - claw
during my Sorting, ” said Hermione brightly, “but it decide d on
Gryffindor in the end. So does that mean we ’re using the Galleons? ”
There was a murmur of assent and everybody moved forward to collect
one from the basket. Harry looked sideways at Hermione. “You know
what these remind me of? ”
“No, what ’s that? ”
“The Death Eaters ’ scars. Voldemort touches one of them, and all their
scars burn, and they know they ’ve got to join him. ”
“Well . . . yes, ” said Hermione quietly. “That is where I got the idea
. . . but you ’ll notice I decided to engrave the date on bi ts of metal rather
than on our members ’ skin. . . . ”
“Yeah . . . I prefer your way, ” said Harry, grinning, as he slipped his
Galleon into his pocket. “I suppose the only danger with these is that we
might accidentally spend them. ”
“Fat chance, ” said Ron, who was examining his own fake Galleon with a
slightly mournful air. “I haven ’t got any real Galleons to con - fuse it
with. ”
As the first Quidditch match of the season, Gryffindor versus Slytherin,
drew nearer, their D.A. meetings were put on h old because Angelina
insisted on almost daily practices. The fact that the Quid - ditch Cup had
not been held for so long added considerably to the in - terest and
excitement surrounding the forthcoming game. The Ravenclaws and
Hufflepuffs were taking a live ly interest in the out - come, for they, of
course, would be playing both teams over the com - ing year; and the
Heads of House of the competing teams, though they attempted to
disguise it under a decent pretense of sportsman - ship, were determined
to see th eir side ’s victory. Harry realized how much Professor
McGonagall cared about beating Slytherin when she

 399 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

abstained from giving them homework in the week leading up to the
match.
“I think you ’ve got enough to be getting on with at the moment, ” she
said loftily. Nobody could quite believe their ears until she looked
directly at Harry and Ron and said grimly, “I’ve become accustomed to
seeing the Quidditch Cup in my study, boys, and I really don ’t want to
have to hand it over to Professor Snape, so use the extra time to practice,
won ’t you? ”
Snape was no less obviously partisan: He had booked the Quid - ditch
pitch for Slytherin practice so often that the Gryffindors had difficulty
getting on it to play. He was also turning a deaf ear to the many reports
of Slytherin attempts to hex Gryffindor players in the corridors. When
Alicia Spinnet turned up in the hospital wing with her eyebrows growing
so thick and fast that they obscured her vision and obstructed her mouth,
Snape insisted that she must have at - tempted a Hair -Thickening Charm
on herself and refused to listen to the fourteen eyewitnesses who insisted
that they had seen the Slytherin Keeper, Miles Bletchley, hit her from
behind with a jinx while she worked in the library.
Harry felt optimistic about Gryffindor ’s chances; they had, after all,
never lost to Malfoy ’s team. Admittedly Ron was still not performing to
Wood ’s standard, but he was working extremely hard to improve. His
greatest weakness was a tendency to lose confidence when he made a
blunder; if he let in one goal he became flustered and was therefore likely
to miss more. On the other hand, Harry had seen Ron make some truly
spectacular saves when he was on form: During one memo rable practice,
he had hung one -handed from his broom and kicked the Quaffle so hard
away from the goal hoop that it soared the length of the pitch and
through the center hoop at the other end. The rest of the team felt this
save compared favorably with on e made re - cently by Barry Ryan, the
Irish International Keeper, against Poland ’s top Chaser, Ladislaw
Zamojski. Even Fred had said that Ron might
 400 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
yet make him and George proud, and that they w ere seriously consid -
ering admitting that he was related to them, something he assured Ron
they had been trying to deny for four years.
The only thing really worrying Harry was how much Ron was al - lowing
the tactics of the Slytherin team to upset him before they even got onto
the pitch. Harry, of course, had endured their snide com - ments for
more than four years, so whispers of, “Hey, Potty, I heard Warrington ’s
sworn to knock you off your broom o n Saturday, ” far from chilling his
blood, made him laugh. “Warrington ’s aim ’s so pa - thetic I ’d be more
worried if he was aiming for the person next to me, ” he retorted, which
made Ron and Hermione laugh and wiped the smirk off Pansy
Parkinson ’s face.
But Ron had never endured a relentless campaign of insults, jeers, and
intimidation. When Slytherins, some of them seventh years and consid -
erably larger than he was, muttered as they passed in the corridors, “Got
your bed booked in the hospital wing, Weasle y? ” he did not laugh, but
turned a delicate shade of green. When Draco Malfoy imitated Ron
dropping the Quaffle (which he did whenever they were within sight of
each other), Ron ’s ears glowed red and his hands shook so badly that he
was likely to drop what ever he was holding at the time too.
October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain
and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every
morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces. The skies and
the ce iling of the Great Hall turned a pale, pearly gray, the moun - tains
around Hogwarts became snowcapped, and the temperature in the
castle dropped so far that many students wore their thick protec - tive
dragon skin gloves in the corridors between lessons.
The morning of the match dawned bright and cold. When Harry awoke
he looked around at Ron ’s bed and saw him sitting bolt up - right, his
arms around his knees, staring fixedly into space.
“You all right? ” said Harry.
Ron nodded but did not speak. Harry was reminded forcibly of the

 401 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

time that Ron had accidentally put a slug -vomiting charm on himself. He
looked just as pale and sweaty as he had done then, not to men - tion as
reluctant to open his mouth.
“You just need some breakfast, ” Harry said bracingly. “C’mon. ” The
Great Hall was filling up fast when they arrived, the talk louder and the
mood more exuberant than usual. As they passed the Slytherin table
there was an upsurge of noise; Harry looked around and saw that nearly
everyone there was wearing, in addition to the usual green -and -silver
scarves and hats, silver badges in the shape of what seeme d to be crowns.
For some reason many of them waved at Ron, laughing uproariously.
Harry tried to see what was written on the badges as he walked by, but he
was too concerned to get Ron past their table quickly to linger long
enough to read them.
They re ceived a rousing welcome at the Gryffindor table, where
everyone was wearing red and gold, but far from raising Ron ’s spirits the
cheers seemed to sap the last of his morale; he collapsed onto the nearest
bench looking as though he were facing his final me al.
“I must ’ve been mental to do this, ” he said in a croaky whisper.
“ Mental. ”
“Don ’t be thick, ” said Harry firmly, passing him a choice of cereals.
“You ’re going to be fine. It ’s normal to be nervous. ”
“I’m rubbish, ” croaked Ron. “I’m lousy. I can ’t play to save my life.
What was I thinking? ”
“Get a grip, ” said Harry sternly. “Look at that save you made with your
foot the other day, even Fred and George said it was brilliant — ” Ron
turned a tortured face to Harry.
“That was an acc ident, ” he whispered miserably. “I didn ’t mean to do it
— I slipped off my broom when none of you were looking and I was
trying to get back on and I kicked the Quaffle by accident. ” “Well, ” said
Harry, recovering quickly from this unpleasant sur - prise, “a few more
accidents like that and the game ’s in the bag, isn ’t it? ”
 402 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
Hermione and Ginny sat down opposite them wearing red -and - gold
scarves, gloves, and rosettes.
“How ’re you feeling? ” Ginny asked Ron, who was now staring into the
dregs of milk at the bottom of his empty cereal bowl as though se -
riously considering attempting to drown himself in them.
“He ’s just nervous, ” said Harry.
“Well, that ’s a good sign, I never feel you perf orm as well in exams if
you ’re not a bit nervous, ” said Hermione heartily.
“Hello, ” said a vague and dreamy voice from behind them. Harry looked
up: Luna Lovegood had drifted over from the Ravenclaw table. Many
people were staring at her and a few openl y laughing and point - ing; she
had managed to procure a hat shaped like a life -size lion ’s head, which
was perched precariously on her head.
“I’m supporting Gryffindor, ” said Luna, pointing unnecessarily at her
hat. “Look what it does. . . . ”
She reached up and tapped the hat with her wand. It opened its mouth
wide and gave an extremely realistic roar that made everyone in the
vicinity jump.
“It’s good, isn ’t it? ” said Luna happily. “I wanted to have it chewing up a
serpent to represent Slythe rin, you know, but there wasn ’t time.
Anyway . . . good luck, Ronald! ”
She drifted away. They had not quite recovered from the shock of
Luna ’s hat before Angelina came hurrying toward them, accompanied
by Katie and Alicia, whose eyebrows had mercifully been returned to
normal by Madam Pomfrey.
“When you ’re ready, ” she said, “we ’re going to go straight down to the
pitch, check out conditions and change. ”
“We ’ll be there in a bit, ” Harry assured her. “Ron ’s just got to have some
breakfast. ”
It became clear after ten minutes, however, that Ron was not capa - ble of
eating anything more and Harry thought it best to get him

 403 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

down to the changing rooms. As they rose from the table, Hermio ne got
up too, and taking Harry ’s arm, she drew him to one side. “Don ’t let Ron
see what ’s on those Slytherins ’ badges, ” she whis - pered urgently.
Harry looked questioningly at her, but she shook her head warn - ingly;
Ron had just ambled over to them, l ooking lost and desperate. “Good
luck, Ron, ” said Hermione, standing on tiptoe and kissing him on the
cheek. “And you, Harry — ”
Ron seemed to come to himself slightly as they walked back across the
Great Hall. He touched the spot on his face where Hermione had kissed
him, looking puzzled, as though he was not quite sure what had just
happened. He seemed too distracted to notice much around him, but
Harry cast a curious glance at the crown -shaped badges as they passed
the Slytherin table, and this time he made out the words etched onto
them:


b^pibv fp=lro=hfkd

With an unpleasant feeling that this could mean nothing good, he
hurried Ron across the entrance hall, down the stone steps, and out into
the icy air.
The frosty grass crunched under their feet as they hurried down the
sloping lawns toward the stadium. There was no wind at all and the sky
was a uniform pearly white, which meant that visibility would be good
without the drawback of direct sunlight in the eyes. Harry pointed out
these encouraging factors to Ron as they walked, but he was not sure
that Ron was listening.
Angelina had changed already and was talking to the rest of the team
when they enter ed. Harry and Ron pulled on their robes (Ron attempted
to do his up back -to -front for several minutes before Alicia
 404 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
took pity on him and went to help) and then sat down to listen to the
pre -match talk while the babble of voices outside grew steadily louder as
the crowd came pouring out of the castle toward the pitch.
“Okay, I ’ve only just found out the final lineup for Slytherin, ” said
Angelina, consulting a piece of parchment. “Last yea r’s Beaters, Der -
rick and Bole, have left now, but it looks as though Montague ’s re -
placed them with the usual gorillas, rather than anyone who can fly
particularly well. They ’re two blokes called Crabbe and Goyle, I don ’t
know much about them — ”
“We do ,” said Harry and Ron together.
“Well, they don ’t look bright enough to tell one end of a broom from
another, ” said Angelina, pocketing her parchment, “but then I was
always surprised Derrick and Bole managed to find their way onto the
pitch without signposts. ”
“Crabbe and Goyle are in the same mold, ” Harry assured her. They
could hear hundreds of footsteps mounting the banked benches of the
spectators ’ stands now. Some people were singing, though Harry could
not make out the words. He was starting to feel nervous, but he knew his
butterflies were as nothing to Ron ’s, who was clutching his stomach and
staring straight ahead again, his jaw set and his complexion pale gray.
“It’s time, ” said Angelina in a hushed voice, looking at her watch.
“C’mon everyone . . . good luck. ”
The team rose, shouldered their brooms, and marched in single file out
of the changing room and into the dazzling sunlight. A roar of sound
greeted them in which Harry could still hear singing, though it was
muffled by the cheers and whistles.
The Slytherin team were standing waiting for them. They too were
wearing those silver crown -shaped badges. The new captain, Mon - tague,
was built along the same lines as Dudley, with massive forearms like
hairy ha ms. Behind him lurked Crabbe and Goyle, almost as large,
blinking stupidly in the sunlight, swinging their new Beaters ’

 405 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

bats. Malfoy stood to one side, the sunlight gleaming on his white -
blond head. He caught Harry ’s eye and smirked, tapping the crown -
shaped badge on his chest.
“Captains shake hands, ” ordered the umpire, Madam Hooch, as
Angelina and Montague reached each other. Harry could tell that
Montague was trying to crush Angelina ’s fingers, though she did not
wince. “Mount your brooms. . . . ”
Madam Hooch placed her whistle in her mouth and blew. The balls were
released and the fourteen players shot upward; out of the corner of his
eye Harry saw Ron streak off toward the goal hoop s. He zoomed higher,
dodging a Bludger, and set off on a wide lap of the pitch, gazing around
for a glint of gold; on the other side of the stadium, Draco Malfoy was
doing exactly the same.
“And it ’s Johnson, Johnson with the Quaffle, what a player that girl is,
I’ve been saying it for years but she still won ’t go out with me — ”
“JORDAN! ” yelled Professor McGonagall.
“Just a fun fact, Professor, adds a bit of interest — and she ’s ducked
Warrington, she ’s passed Montague, she ’s — ouch — been hit from
behind by a Bludger from Crabbe. . . . Montague catches the Quaffle,
Montague heading back up the pitch and — nice Bludger there from
George Weasley, that ’s a Bludger to the head for Montague, he drops the
Quaffle, caught by Katie Bell, Katie Bell of Gryff indor reverse passes to
Alicia Spinnet and Spinnet ’s away — ”
Lee Jordan ’s commentary rang through the stadium and Harry lis - tened
as hard as he could through the wind whistling in his ears and the din of
the crowd, all yelling and booing and singing —
“— dodges Warrington, avoids a Bludger — close call, Alicia — and the
crowd are loving this, just listen to them, what ’s that they ’re singing? ”
And as Lee paused to listen the song rose loud and clear from the sea of
green and silver in the Slytherin s ection of the stands:
 406 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
Weasley cannot save a thing,
He cannot block a single ring,
That ’s why Slytherins all sing:
Weasley is our King.

Weasley was born in a bin,
He always lets the Quaffle in,
Weasley will make sure we win,
Weasley is our King.

“— and Alicia passes back to Angelina! ” Lee shouted, and as Harry
swerved, his insides boiling at what he had just heard, he knew Lee was
trying to drown out the sound of the singing. “Come on now, Angelina
— looks like she ’s got just the Keeper to beat! — SHE SHOOTS —
SHE — aaaah . . . ”
Bletchley, the Slytherin Keeper, had saved the goal; he threw the Quaffle
to Warrington who sped off with it, zigzagging in between Alicia and
Katie; the singing from below grew louder and louder as he drew nearer
and nearer Ron —

Weasley is our King,
Weasley is our King,
He always lets the Quaffle in,
Weasley is our King.

Harry could not help himself: Abandoning his search for the Snitch, he
turned his Firebolt toward Ron, a lone figure at the far end of the pitch,
hovering before the three goal hoops while the massive War - rington
pelted toward him . . .
“— and it ’s Warri ngton with the Quaffle, Warrington heading for goal,
he ’s out of Bludger range with just the Keeper ahead — ”
A great swell of song rose from the Slytherin stands below:
 407 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

Weasley cannot save a thing,
He cannot block a single ring . . .

“— so it ’s the first test for new Gryffindor Keeper, Weasley, brother of
Beaters, Fred and George, and a promising new talent on the team —
come on, Ron! ”
But the scream of delight came from the Slytherin end: Ron had dived
wildly, his arms wide, and the Quaffle had soared between them, straight
through Ron ’s central hoop.
“Slytherin score! ” came Lee ’s voice amid the cheering and booing from
the crowds belo w. “So that ’s ten -nil to Slytherin — bad luck, Ron . . . ”
The Slytherins sang even louder:

WEASLEY WAS BORN IN A BIN,
HE ALWAYS LETS THE QUAFFLE IN . . .

“— and Gryffindor back in possession and it ’s Katie Bell tanking up the
pitch — ” cried Lee valiantly, though the singing was now so deafening
that he could hardly make himself heard above it.

WEASLEY WILL MAKE SURE WE WIN,
WEASLEY IS OUR KING . . .

“Harry, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ” screamed Angelina, soaring past
him to keep up with Katie. “GET GOING! ”
Harry realized that he had been stationary in midair for more than a
minute, watching the progress of the match without sparing a thought
for the whereabouts of the Snitch; horrified, he went into a dive and
started circling the pitch again, staring around, trying to ig - nore the
chorus now thundering through the stadium:
 408 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
WEASLEY IS OUR KING,
WEASLEY IS OUR KING . . .

There was no sign of the Snitch anywhere he looked; Malfoy was still
circling the stadium just like Harry. They passed midway around the
pitch going in opposite directions and Harry heard Malfoy singing
loudly,

WEASLEY WAS BORN IN A BIN . . .

“— and it ’s Warrington again, ” bellowed Lee, “who passes to Pucey,
Pucey ’s off past Spinnet, come on now Angelina, you can take him —
turns out you can ’t — but nice Bludger from Fred Weasley, I mean,
George Weasley, oh who cares, one of them anyway, and Warr ington
drops the Quaffle and Katie Bell — er — drops it too — so that ’s
Montague with the Quaffle, Slytherin Captain Montague takes the
Quaffle, and he ’s off up the pitch, come on now Gryffindor, block him! ”
Harry zoomed around the end of the stadium behin d the Slytherin goal
hoops, willing himself not to look at what was going on at Ron ’s end; as
he sped past the Slytherin Keeper, he heard Bletchley singing along with
the crowd below,

WEASLEY CANNOT SAVE A THING . . .

“— and Pucey ’s dodged Alici a again, and he ’s heading straight for goal,
stop it, Ron! ”
Harry did not have to look to see what had happened: There was a
terrible groan from the Gryffindor end, coupled with fresh screams and
applause from the Slytherins. Looking down, Harr y saw the pug - faced
Pansy Parkinson right at the front of the stands, her back to the pitch as
she conducted the Slytherin supporters who were roaring:

 409 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

THAT ’S WHY SLYTHERINS ALL SING:
WEASLEY IS OUR KING.

But twenty -nil was nothing, there was still time for Gryffindor to catch
up or catch the Snitch, a few goals and they would be in the lead as usual,
Harry assured himself, bobbing and weaving through the other players
in pursuit of something shiny that turned out to be Montague ’s watch
strap. . . .
But Ron let in two more goals. There was an edge of panic in Harry ’s
desire to find the Snitch now. If he could just get it soon and finish the
game quickly . . .
“— and Katie Bell of Gryffindor dodges Pucey, ducks Montague, nice
swerve, Katie, and she throws to Johnson, Angelina Johnson takes the
Quaffle, she ’s past Warrington, she ’s heading for goal, come on now
Angelina — GRYFFINDOR SCORE! It ’s forty -ten, forty - ten to
Slytherin and Pucey has the Quaffle. . . . ”
Harry could hear Luna ’s ludicrous lion hat roaring amidst the Gryffindor
cheers and felt heartened; only thirty points in it, that was nothing, they
could pull back easily. Harry ducked a Bludger that Crabbe had sent
rocketing in his direction and resumed his frantic scouring of the pitch
for the Snitch, keeping one eye on Malfoy in case he showed signs of
having spotted it, but Malfoy, like him, was continuing to soar around
the stadium, searchin g fruitlessly . . .
“— Pucey throws to Warrington, Warrington to Montague, Mon - tague
back to Pucey — Johnson intervenes, Johnson takes the Quaf - fle,
Johnson to Bell, this looks good — I mean bad — Bell ’s hit by a Bludger
from Goyle of Slytherin and i t’s Pucey in possession again . . . ”

WEASLEY WAS BORN IN A BIN,
HE ALWAYS LETS THE QUAFFLE IN,
WEASLEY WILL MAKE SURE WE WIN —
 410 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
But Harry had seen it at last: The tiny fluttering Golden Snitch was
hovering feet from the ground at the Slytherin end of the pitch. He
dived. . . .
In a matter of seconds, Malfoy was streaking out of the sky on Harry ’s
left, a green -and -silver blur lyin g flat on his broom. . . . The Snitch
skirted the foot of one of the goal hoops and scooted off toward the
other side of the stands; its change of direction suited Mal - foy, who was
nearer. Harry pulled his Firebolt around, he and Malfoy were now neck
and neck . . .
Feet from the ground, Harry lifted his right hand from his broom,
stretching toward the Snitch . . . to his right, Malfoy ’s arm extended too,
reaching, groping . . .
It was over in two breathless, desperate, windswept seconds — Harry ’s
fingers closed around the tiny, struggling ball — Malfoy ’s fin - gernails
scrabbled the back of Harry ’s hand hopelessly — Harry pulled his
broom upward, holding the struggling ball in his hand and the
Gryffindor spectators screamed their approval. . . .
They w ere saved, it did not matter that Ron had let in those goals,
nobody would remember as long as Gryffindor had won —
WHAM !
A Bludger hit Harry squarely in the small of the back and he flew
forward off his broom; luckily he was only five or six feet above the
ground, having dived so low to catch the Snitch, but he was winded all
the same as he landed flat on his back on the frozen pitch. He heard
Madam Hooch ’s shrill whistle, an uproar in the stands compounded of
catcalls, angry yells and jeering, a thud, then Angelina ’s frantic voice.
“Are you all right? ”
“’Course I am, ” said Harry grimly, taking her hand and allowing her to
pull him to his feet. Madam Hooch was zooming toward one of the
Slytherin players above him, though he could not see who it was at this
angle.
 411 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

“It was that thug, Crabbe, ” said Angelina angrily. “He whacked the
Bludger at you the moment he saw you ’d got the Snitch — but we won,
Harry, we won! ”
Harry heard a snort from behind him and turned around, still holding
the Snitch tightly in his hand: Draco Malfoy had landed close by;
white -faced with fury, he was still managing to sneer.
“Saved Weasley ’s neck, haven ’t you? ” he said to Harry. “I’ve never
seen a worse Keeper . . . but then he was born in a bin. . . . Did you
like my lyrics, Potter? ”
Harry did not answer; he turned away to meet the rest of the team who
were now landing one by one, ye lling and punching the air in tri - umph,
all except Ron, who had dismounted from his broom over by the
goalposts and was making his way slowly back to the changing rooms
alone.
“We wanted to write another couple of verses! ” Malfoy called, as Katie
and Ali cia hugged Harry. “But we couldn ’t find rhymes for fat and ugly
— we wanted to sing about his mother, see — ”
“Talk about sour grapes, ” said Angelina, casting Malfoy a disgusted
look.
“— we couldn ’t fit in useless loser either — for his father, you
know — ”
Fred and George had realized what Malfoy was talking about. Halfway
through shaking Harry ’s hand they stiffened, looking around at Malfoy.
“Leave it, ” said Angelina at once, taking Fred by the arm. “Leave it, Fred,
let him yell, he ’s just sore he lost, the jumped -up little — ” “— but you
like the Weasleys, don ’t you, Potter? ” said Malfoy, sneering. “Spend
holidays there and everything, don ’t you? Can ’t see how you stand the
stink, but I suppose when you ’ve been dragged up by Muggles even the
Wea sleys ’ hovel smells okay — ”
Harry grabbed hold of George; meanwhile it was taking the com - bined
efforts of Angelina, Alicia, and Katie to stop Fred leaping on
 412 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
Malfoy, wh o was laughing openly. Harry looked around for Madam
Hooch, but she was still berating Crabbe for his illegal Bludger attack.
“Or perhaps, ” said Malfoy, leering as he backed away, “you can re -
member what your mother ’s house stank like, Potter, and Weasle y’s
pigsty reminds you of it — ”
Harry was not aware of releasing George, all he knew was that a second
later both of them were sprinting at Malfoy. He had com - pletely
forgotten the fact that all the teachers were watching: All he wanted to
do was caus e Malfoy as much pain as possible. With no time to draw out
his wand, he merely drew back the fist clutching the Snitch and sank it as
hard as he could into Malfoy ’s stomach —
“Harry! HARRY! GEORGE! NO !”
He could hear girls ’ voices screaming, Malfoy yelling, George swearing, a
whistle blowing, and the bellowing of the crowd around him, but he did
not care, not until somebody in the vicinity yelled
“ IMPEDIMENTA !” and only when he was knocked over backward by
the force of t he spell did he abandon the attempt to punch every inch of
Malfoy he could reach. . . .
“What do you think you ’re doing? ” screamed Madam Hooch, as Harry
leapt to his feet again; it was she who had hit him with the Im - pediment
Jinx. She was holding her wh istle in one hand and a wand in the other,
her broom lay abandoned several feet away. Malfoy was curled up on the
ground, whimpering and moaning, his nose bloody; George was
sporting a swollen lip; Fred was still being forcibly re - strained by the
three Ch asers, and Crabbe was cackling in the back - ground. “I’ve never
seen behavior like it — back up to the castle, both
of you, and straight to your Head of House ’s office! Go! Now !”
Harry and George marched off the pitch, both panting, neither say - ing a
word to each other. The howling and jeering of the crowd grew fainter
and fainter until they reached the entrance hall, where they could hear
nothing except the sound of their own footsteps. Harry be - came aware
that something was still struggling in his right hand, the

 413 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

knuckles of which he had bruised against Malfoy ’s jaw; looking down he
saw the Snitch ’s silver wings protruding from between his fingers,
struggling for release.
They had barely reached the door of Professor McGonagall ’s office
when she came marching along the corridor behind them. She was
wearing a Gryffindor scarf, but tore it from her throat with shaking
hands as she strode toward them, looking livid.
“In! ” she said furiously, pointing to the door. Harry and George en -
tered. She strode around behind her desk and faced them, quivering with
rage as she threw the Gryffindor scarf aside onto the floor.
“ Well ?” she said. “I have never seen such a disgraceful exhibition.
Two onto one! Explain yourselves! ”
“Malfoy provoked us, ” said Harry stiffly.
“Provoked you? ” shouted Professor McGonagall, slamming a fist onto
her desk so that her tartan biscuit tin slid sideways off it and burst open,
littering the floor with Ginger Newts. “He ’d just lost, hadn ’t he, of
course he wanted to provoke you! But what on earth he can have said
that justified what you two — ”
“He insulted my parents, ” snarled George. “And Harry ’s mother. ” “Bu t
instead of leaving it to Madam Hooch to sort out, you two de - cided to
give an exhibition of Muggle dueling, did you? ” bellowed Professor
McGonagall. “Have you any idea what you ’ve — ?”
“ Hem, hem. ”
George and Harry both spun around. Dolores Umbridge was standing
in the doorway wrapped in a green tweed cloak that greatly enhanced her
resemblance to a giant toad, and smiling in the horribly sickly, ominous
way that Harry had come to associate with imminent misery.
“May I help, Professor McGonagall? ” asked Professor Umbridge in her
most poisonously sweet voice.
Blood rushed into Professor McGonagall ’s face.
 414 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
“Help? ” she repeated in a constricted voice. “What do you mean,
‘help ’?”
Professor Umbridge moved forward into the office, still smiling her
sickly smile.
“Why, I thought you might be grateful for a little extra authority. ” Harry
would not have been surprised to see sparks fly from Profes - sor
McGonagall ’s nostrils.
“You thought wrong, ” she said, turning her back on Umbridge. “Now,
you two had better listen closely. I do not care what provoca - tion
Malfoy offered you, I do not care if he insulted every family member you
possess, your behavior was disgusting and I am gi ving each of you a
week ’s worth of detention! Do not look at me like that, Potter, you
deserve it! And if either of you ever — ”
“ Hem, hem. ”
Professor McGonagall closed her eyes as though praying for pa - tience
as she turned her face toward Professor Um bridge again.
“ Yes ?”
“I think they deserve rather more than detentions, ” said Umbridge,
smiling still more broadly.
Professor McGonagall ’s eyes flew open. “But unfortunately, ” she said,
with an attempt at a reciprocal smile that made her look as though she
had lockjaw, “it is what I think that counts, as they are in my House,
Dolores. ”
“Well, actually, Minerva, ” simpered Umbridge, “I think you ’ll find
that what I think does count. Now, where is it? Cornelius just sent it.
. . . I mean, ” she gave a little false laugh as she rummaged in her hand -
bag, “the Minister just sent it. . . . Ah yes . . . ”
She had pulled out a piece of parchment that she now unfurled, clearing
her throat fussily before starting to read what it said.
“ Hem, he m . . . ‘Educational Decree Number Twenty -five . . . ’”
“Not another one! ” exclaimed Professor McGonagall violently.

 415 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

“Well, yes, ” said Umbridge, still smiling. “As a matter of fact, Min -
erva, it was you who made me see that we needed a further amend -
ment. . . . You remember how you overrode me, when I was unwilling to
allow the Gryffindor Quidditch team to re -form? How you took the case
to Dumbledore, who insisted that the team be al lowed to play? Well,
now, I couldn ’t have that. I contacted the Minister at once, and he quite
agreed with me that the High Inquisitor has to have the power to strip
pupils of privileges, or she — that is to say, I — would have less
authority than common t eachers! And you see now, don ’t you, Minerva,
how right I was in attempting to stop the Gryffindor
team re -forming? Dreadful tempers . . . Anyway, I was reading out our
amendment . . . hem, hem . . . ‘The High Inquisitor will henceforth
have suprem e authority over all punishments, sanctions, and removal of
privileges pertaining to the students of Hogwarts, and the power to alter
such punishments, sanctions, and removals of privileges as may have
been ordered by other staff members. Signed, Cornelius Fudge, Minister
of Magic, Order of Merlin First Class, etc., etc. . . . ’”
She rolled up the parchment and put it back into her handbag, still
smiling.
“So . . . I really think I will have to ban these two from playing Quidditch
ever again, ” she said, looking from Harry to George and back again.
Harry felt the Snitch fluttering madly in his hand. “Ban us? ” he said, and
his voice sounded strangely distant. “From playing . . . ever again? ”
“Yes, Mr. Potter, I think a lifelong ban ought to do the trick, ” said
Umbridge, her smile widening still further as she watched him strug -
gle to comprehend what she had said. “You and Mr. Weasley here.
And I think, to be safe, this young man ’s twin ou ght to be stopped too
— if his teammates had not restrained him, I feel sure he would have
attacked young Mr. Malfoy as well. I will want their broomsticks
confiscated, of course; I shall keep them safely in my office, to make
 416 ‘

THE LION
AND THE
SERPENT
sure there is no infringement of my ban. But I am not unreasonable,
Professor McGonagall, ” she continued, turning back to Professor
McGonagall who was now standing as still as though carved from ice,
staring at her. “The rest of the team can continue playing, I saw no
signs of violence from any of them. Well . . . good afternoon to you. ”
And with a look of the utmost satisfaction Umbridge left the room,
leaving a horrified silence in her wake.

“Banned, ” said Angelina in a hollow voice, late that evening in the
common room. “ Banned. No Seeker and no Beaters . . . What on
earth are we going to do? ”
It did not feel as though they had won the match at all. Everywhere
Harry looked there were disconsolate and angry faces; the team them -
selves were slumped around the fire, all apart from Ron, who had not
been seen since the end of the match.
“It’s just so unfair, ” said Alicia numbly. “I mean, what about Crabbe and
tha t Bludger he hit after the whistle had been blown? Has
she banned him ?”
“No, ” said Ginny miserably; she and Hermione were sitting on ei - ther
side of Harry. “He just got lines, I heard Montague laughing about it at
dinner. ”
“And banning Fred when h e didn ’t even do anything! ” said Alicia
furiously, pummeling her knee with her fist.
“It’s not my fault I didn ’t,” said Fred, with a very ugly look on his face. “I
would ’ve pounded the little scumbag to a pulp if you three hadn ’t been
holding me back. ”
Harry stared miserably at the dark window. Snow was falling. The Snitch
he had caught earlier was now zooming around and around the common
room; people were watching its progress as though hyp - notized and
Crookshanks was leaping from chair to chair, tryi ng to catch it.
“I’m going to bed, ” said Angelina, getting slowly to her feet.
 417 ‘

CHAPTER NINETEEN

“Maybe this will all turn out to have been a bad dream. . . . Maybe I ’ll
wake up tomorrow and find we haven ’t played yet. . . . ”
She was soon followed by Alicia and Katie. Fred and George sloped off
to bed some time later, glowering at everyone they passed, and Ginny
went not long after that. Only Harry and Hermione were left beside the
fire.
“Have you see n Ron? ” Hermione asked in a low voice.
Harry shook his head.
“I think he ’s avoiding us, ” said Hermione. “Where do you think he — ?”
But at that precise moment, there was a creaking sound behind them as
the Fat Lady swung forward and Ron came clamberi ng through the
portrait hole. He was very pale indeed and there was snow in his hair.
When he saw Harry and Hermione he stopped dead in his tracks.
“Where have you been? ” said Hermione anxiously, springing up.
“Walking, ” Ron mumbled. He was still wearin g his Quidditch things.
“You look frozen, ” said Hermione. “Come and sit down! ” Ron walked
to the fireside and sank into the chair farthest from Harry ’s, not looking
at him. The stolen Snitch zoomed over their heads.
“I’m sorry, ” Ron mumbled, looking at h is feet.
“What for? ” said Harry.
“For thinking I can play Quidditch, ” said Ron. “I’m going to resign first
thing tomorrow. ”
“If you resign, ” said Harry testily, “there ’ll only be three players left on
the team. ” And when Ron looked puzzled, he said, “I’ve been given a
lifetime ban. So ’ve Fred and George. ”
“What? ” Ron yelped.
Hermione told him the full story; Harry could not bear to tell it again.
When she had finished, Ron looked more anguished than ever.
 418 ‘

THE LIO N
AND THE
SERPENT
“This is all my fault — ”
“You didn ’t make me punch Malfoy, ” said Harry angrily.
“— if I wasn ’t so lousy at Quidditch — ”
“— it’s got nothing to do with that — ”
“— it was that song that wound me up — ”
“— it would ’ve wound anyone up — ”
Hermione got up and walked to the window, away from the argu - ment,
watching the snow swirling down against the pane.
“Look, drop it, will you! ” Harry burst out. “It’s bad enough with - out
you blaming yourself for everything! ”
Ron said nothing but sat gazing miserably at the damp hem of his robes.
After a while he said in a dull voice, “This is the worst I ’ve ever felt in my
life. ”
“Join the club, ” said Harry bitterly.
“Well, ” said Hermione, her voice trembling slightly. “I can think of one
thing that might cheer you both up. ”
“Oh yeah? ” said Harry skeptically.
“Yeah, ” said Hermione, turning away from the pitch -black, snow -
flecked window, a broad smile spreading across her face. “Hagrid ’s
back. ”

 419 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T
Y










HAGRID ’ S TALE




arry sprinted up to the boys ’ dormitory to fetch the Invisi -
H
bility Cloak and the Marauder ’s Map from his trunk; he was
so quick that he and Ron were ready to leave at least five minutes be -
fore Hermione hurried back down from the girls ’ dormitories, wear - ing
scarf, gloves, and one of her own knobbly elf hats.
“Well, it ’s cold out there! ” she said defensively, as Ron clicked his tongue
impatiently.
They crept through the portrait hole and covered themselves hastily in
the cloak — Ron had grown so much he now needed to crouch to
prevent his feet showing — th en, moving slowly and cau - tiously, they
proceeded down the many staircases, pausing at intervals to check the
map for signs of Filch or Mrs. Norris. They were lucky; they saw nobody

but Nearly Headless Nick, who was gliding along absentmindedly
humming so mething that sounded horribly like “Weasley Is Our King. ”
They crept across the entrance hall and then out into the silent, snowy
grounds. With a great leap of his heart, Harry saw little golden squares of
light ahead and smoke coiling up from Hagrid ’s chi mney. He set off at a
quick march, the other two
 420 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

jostling and bumping along behind him, and they crunched excitedly
through the thickening snow until at last they reached the wooden front
door; when Harry raised his fist and knocked three times, a dog started
barking frantically inside.
“Hagrid, it ’s us! ” Harry called through the keyhole.
“Shoulda known! ” said a gruff voice.
They beamed at one another under the cloak; they could tell that
Hagrid ’s voice was pleased. “Bin home three seconds . . . Out the way,
Fang . . . Out the way, yeh dozy dog . . . ”
The bolt was drawn back, the door creaked open, and Hagrid ’s head
appe ared in the gap.
Hermione screamed.
“Merlin ’s beard, keep it down! ” said Hagrid hastily, staring wildly over
their heads. “Under that cloak, are yeh? Well, get in, get in! ” “I’m sorry! ”
Hermione gasped, as the three of them squeezed past Hagrid into the
house and pulled the cloak off themselves so he could
see them. “I just — oh, Hagrid !”
“It’s nuthin ’, it ’s nuthin ’!” said Hagrid hastily, shutting the door behind
them and hurrying to close all the curtains, but Hermione continued to
gaze up at him i n horror.
Hagrid ’s hair was matted with congealed blood, and his left eye had been
reduced to a puffy slit amid a mass of purple -and -black bruises. There
were many cuts on his face and hands, some of them still bleed - ing, and
he was moving gingerly, whic h made Harry suspect broken ribs. It was
obvious that he had only just got home; a thick black trav - eling cloak lay
over the back of a chair and a haversack large enough to carry several
small children leaned against the wall inside the door. Hagrid himse lf,
twice the size of a normal man and three times as broad, was now
limping over to the fire and placing a copper kettle over it.
“What happened to you? ” Harry demanded, while Fang danced around
them all, trying to lick their faces.
 421 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

“Told yeh, nuthin ’,” said Hagrid firmly. “Want a cuppa? ”
“Come off it, ” said Ron, “you ’re in a right state! ”
“I’m tellin ’ yeh, I ’m fine, ” said Hagrid, straightening up and turn - ing to
beam at them all, but wincing. “Blimey, it ’s good ter see you three again
— had good summers, did yeh? ”
“Hagrid, you ’ve been attacked! ” said Ron.
“Fer the las ’ time, it ’s nuthin ’!” said Hagrid firmly. “Would you say it was
nothing if one of us turned up with a pound of mince instead of a face? ”
Ron demanded.
“You ought to go and see Madam Pomfrey, Hagrid, ” said Hermi - one
anxiously. “Some of those cuts look nasty. ”
“I’m dealin ’ with it, all righ ’?” said Hagrid repressively. He walked across
to the enormous wooden table that stood in the middle of his cabin and
twitched aside a tea towel that had been lying on it. Underneath was a
raw, bloody, green -tinged steak slightly larger than the average car tire.
“You ’re not going to eat that, are you, Hagrid? ” said Ron, leaning in for
a closer look. “It looks poisonous. ”
“It’s s ’posed ter look like that, it ’s dragon meat, ” Hagrid said. “An ’ I
didn ’ get it ter eat. ”
He picked up the steak and slapped it over the left side of his face.
Greenish blood tr ickled down into his beard as he gave a soft moan of
satisfaction.
“Tha ’s better. It helps with the stingin ’, yeh know. ” “So are you going to
tell us what ’s happened to you? ” Harry asked. “Can ’, Harry. Top secret.
More ’n me job ’s worth ter tell yeh that. ” “Did the giants beat you up,
Hagrid? ” asked Hermione quietly. Hagrid ’s fingers slipped on the
dragon steak, and it slid squelchily onto his chest.
“Giants? ” said Hagrid, catching the steak before it reached his belt and
slapp ing it back over his face. “Who said anythin ’ abou ’ giants?
 422 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

Who yeh bin talkin ’ to? Who ’s told yeh what I ’ve — who ’s said I ’ve bin
— eh? ”
“We guessed, ” said Hermione apologetically.
“Oh, yeh did, did yeh? ” said Hagrid, fixing her sternly with the eye that
was not hidden by the steak.
“It was kind of . . . obvious, ” said Ron. Harry nodded. Hagrid glared at
them, then snorted, threw the steak onto the table again and strode back
to the kettle, which was now whistling. “Never known kids like you
three fer knowin ’ more ’n yeh oughta, ” he muttered, splashing boiling
water into three of his bucket -shaped mugs. “An ’ I’m not complimentin ’
yeh, neither. Nosy, some ’d call it. Interferin ’.”
But h is beard twitched.
“So you have been to look for giants? ” said Harry, grinning as he sat
down at the table.
Hagrid set tea in front of each of them, sat down, picked up his steak
again, and slapped it back over his face.
“Yeah, all righ ’,” he grun ted, “I have. ”
“And you found them? ” said Hermione in a hushed voice. “Well, they ’re
not that difficult ter find, ter be honest, ” said Hagrid. “Pretty big, see. ”
“Where are they? ” said Ron.
“Mountains, ” said Hagrid unhelpfully.
“So why don ’t Muggles — ?”
“They do, ” said Hagrid darkly. “O ’ny their deaths are always put down
ter mountaineerin ’ accidents, aren ’ they? ”
He adjusted the steak a little so that it covered the worst of the bruising.
“Come on, Hagrid, tell us what you ’ve been up to !” said Ron. “Tell us
about being attacked by the giants and Harry can tell you about be - ing
attacked by the dementors — ”
 423 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

Hagrid choked in his mug and dropped his steak at the same time; a large
quantity of spit, tea, and dragon blood was sprayed over the table as
Hagrid coughed and spluttered and the steak slid, with a soft
splat, onto the floor.
“Whadda yeh mean, attacked by dementors? ” growled Hagrid.
“Didn ’t you know? ” Hermione ask ed him, wide -eyed.
“I don ’ know anything that ’s been happenin ’ since I left. I was on a
secret mission, wasn ’ I, didn ’ wan ’ owls followin ’ me all over the place —
ruddy dementors! Yeh ’re not serious? ”
“Yeah, I am, they turned up in Little Whinging and attacked my cousin
and me, and then the Ministry of Magic expelled me — ” “WHAT? ”
“— and I had to go to a hearing and everything, but tell us about the
giants first. ”
“You were expelled ?”
“Tell us about your summer and I ’ll tell you about mine. ” Hagrid glared
at him through his one open eye. Harry looked right back, an expression
of innocent determination on his face.
“Oh, all righ ’,” Hagrid said in a resigned voice.
He bent down and tugged the dragon steak out of Fang ’s mouth. “Oh,
Hagrid, do n’t, it ’s not hygien — ” Hermione began, but Ha - grid had
already slapped the meat back over his swollen eye. He took another
fortifying gulp of tea and then said, “Well, we set off righ ’ af- ter term
ended — ”
“Madame Maxime went with you, then? ” Hermione interjected. “Yeah,
tha ’s right, ” said Hagrid, and a softened expression appeared on the few
inches of face that were not obscured by beard or green steak. “Yeah, it
was jus ’ the pair of us. An ’ I’ll tell yeh this, she ’s not afraid of roughin ’ it,
Olympe. Yeh know, she ’s a fine, well -dressed woman, an ’ knowin ’
where we was goin ’ I wondered ’ow she ’d feel abou ’ clamberin ’ over
boulders an ’ sleepin ’ in caves an ’ tha ’, bu ’ she never complained once. ”
 424 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

“You knew where you were going? ” Harry asked. “You knew where the
giants were? ”
“Well, Dumbledore knew, an ’ he told us, ” said Hagrid. “Are they
hidden? ” asked Ron. “Is it a secret, where they are? ” “Not really, ” said
Hagrid, shaking his shaggy head. “It’s jus ’ that mos ’ wizards aren ’
bothered where they are, s ’ long as it ’s a good long way away. But where
they are ’s very difficult ter get ter, fer humans anyway, so we needed
Dumbledore ’s instructions. Took us abou ’ a month ter get there — ”
“A month ?” said Ron, as though he had never heard of a journey
lasting such a ridiculously long time. “But — why couldn ’t you just grab
a Portkey or something? ”
There was an odd expression in Hagrid ’s unobscured eye as he squinted
at Ron; it was almost pitying.
“We ’re bein ’ watched, Ron, ” he said gruffly.
“What d ’you mean? ”
“Yeh don ’ understand, ” said Hagrid. “The Ministry ’s keepin ’ an eye on
Dumbledore an ’ anyone they reckon ’s in league with him, an ’ — ” “We
know about that, ” said Harry quickly, keen to hear t he rest
of Hagrid ’s story. “We know about the Ministry watching Dumble -
dore — ”
“So you couldn ’t use magic to get there? ” asked Ron, looking thun -
derstruck. “You had to act like Muggles all the way ?”
“Well, not exactly all the way, ” said Hagrid cagily. “We jus ’ had ter be
careful, ’cause Olympe an ’ me, we stick out a bit — ”
Ron made a stifled noise somewhere between a snort and a sniff and
hastily took a gulp of tea.
“— so we ’re not hard ter follow. We was pretendin ’ we was goi n’ on
holiday together, so we got inter France an ’ we made like we was headin ’
fer where Olympe ’s school is, ’cause we knew we was bein ’ tailed by
someone from the Ministry. We had to go slow, ’cause I ’m not really
s’posed ter use magic an ’ we knew the Min istry ’d be lookin ’
 425 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

fer a reason ter run us in. But we managed ter give the berk tailin ’ us the
slip round abou ’ Dee -John — ”
“Ooooh, Dijon? ” said Hermione excitedly. “I’ve been there on hol -
iday, did you see — ?”
She fell silent at the look on Ron ’s face.
“We chanced a bit o ’ magic after that, and it wasn ’ a bad journey. Ran
inter a couple o ’ mad trolls on the Polish border, an ’ I had a sligh ’
disagreement with a vampire in a pub in Mins k, but apart from tha ’,
couldn ’t’a bin smoother.
“An ’ then we reached the place, an ’ we started trekkin ’ up through the
mountains, lookin ’ fer signs of ’em . . .
“We had ter lay off the magic once we got near ’em. Partly ’cause they
don ’ like wizards an ’ we didn ’ want ter put their backs up too soon, and
partly ’cause Dumbledore had warned us You -Know -Who was bound
ter be after the giants an ’ all. Said it was odds on he ’d sent a messenger
off ter them already. Told us ter be very careful of drawin ’ attent ion ter
ourselves as we got nearer in case there was Death Eaters around. ”
Hagrid paused for a long draft of tea.
“Go on! ” said Harry urgently.
“Found ’em, ” said Hagrid baldly. “Went over a ridge one nigh ’ an ’ there
they was, spread ou ’ underneath us. Little fires burnin ’ below an ’ huge
shadows . . . It was like watchin ’ bits o ’ the mountain movin ’.” “How big
are they? ” asked Ron in a hushed voice.
“’Bout twenty feet, ” said Hagrid casually. “Some o ’ the bigger ones
mighta bin twenty -five. ”
“And how many were there? ” asked Harry.
“I reckon abou ’ seventy or eighty, ” said Hagrid.
“Is that all? ” said Hermione.
“Yep, ” said Hagrid sadly, “eighty left, an ’ there was loads once, musta
bin a hundred diff ’rent tribes from all over the world . But they ’ve bin
dyin ’ out fer ages. Wizards killed a few, o ’ course, but
 426 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

mostly they killed each other, an ’ now they ’re dyin ’ out faster than ever.
They ’re not made ter live bunched up together like tha ’. Dumb - ledore
says it ’s our fault, it was the wizards who forced ’em to go an ’ made ’em
live a good long way from us an ’ they had no choice but ter stick
together fer their own protection. ”
“So, ” said Har ry, “you saw them and then what? ” “Well, we waited till
morning, didn ’ want ter go sneakin ’ up on ’em in the dark, fer our own
safety, ” said Hagrid. “’Bout three in the mornin ’ they fell asleep jus ’
where they was sittin ’. We didn ’ dare sleep. Fer one thin g, we wanted ter
make sure none of ’em woke up an ’ came up where we were, an ’ fer
another, the snorin ’ was unbelievable. Caused an avalanche near
mornin ’.
“Anyway, once it was light we wen ’ down ter see ’em. ” “Just like that? ”
said Ron, looking awestruck. “You just walked right into a giant camp? ”
“Well, Dumbledore ’d told us how ter do it, ” said Hagrid. “Give the
Gurg gifts, show some respect, yeh know. ”
“Give the what gifts? ” asked Harry.
“Oh, the Gurg — means the chief. ”
“How could you tell which one was the Gurg? ” asked Ron.
Hagrid grunted in amusement.
“No problem, ” he said. “He was the biggest, the ugliest, an ’ the laziest.
Sittin ’ there waitin ’ ter be brought food by the others. Dead goats an ’
such like. Name o ’ Kark us. I ’d put him at twenty -two, twenty -three feet,
an ’ the weight of a couple o ’ bull elephants. Skin like rhino hide an ’ all. ”
“And you just walked up to him? ” said Hermione breathlessly.
“Well . . . down ter him, where he was lyin ’ in the valley. The y was
in this dip between four pretty high mountains, see, beside a moun - tain
lake, an ’ Karkus was lyin ’ by the lake roarin ’ at the others ter feed him an ’
his wife. Olympe an ’ I went down the mountainside — ”
 427 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

“But didn ’t they try and kill you when they saw you? ” asked Ron
incredulously.
“It was def ’nitely on some of their minds, ” said Hagrid, shrugging, “but
we did what Dumbledore told us ter do, which was ter hold our gift up
high an ’ keep our eyes on the Gurg an ’ ignore the others. So tha ’s what
we did. An ’ the rest of ’em went quiet an ’ watched us pass an ’ we got
right up ter Karkus ’s feet an ’ we bowed an ’ put our present down in
front o ’ him. ”
“What do you give a giant? ” asked Ron eagerly. “Food? ” “Nah, he can
get food all righ ’ fer himself, ” said Hagrid. “We took him magic. Giants
like magic, jus ’ don ’t like us usin ’ it against ’em. Anyway, that firs ’ day we
gave him a branch o ’ Gubraithian fire. ” Hermione said “wow ” sof tly,
but Harry and Ron both frowned in puzzlement.
“A branch of — ?”
“Everlasting fire, ” said Hermione irritably, “you ought to know that by
now, Professor Flitwick ’s mentioned it at least twice in class! ” “Well
anyway, ” said Hagrid quickly, intervenin g before Ron could answer back,
“Dumbledore ’d bewitched this branch to burn ever - more, which isn ’
somethin ’ any wizard could do, an ’ so I lies it down in the snow by
Karkus ’s feet and says, ‘A gift to the Gurg of the giants from Albus
Dumbledore, who send s his respectful greetings. ’”
“And what did Karkus say? ” asked Harry eagerly.
“Nothin ’,” said Hagrid. “Didn ’ speak English. ”
“You ’re kidding! ”
“Didn ’ matter, ” said Hagrid imperturbably, “Dumbledore had warned
us tha ’ migh ’ happen. Karkus knew enough to yell fer a cou - ple o ’ giants
who knew our lingo an ’ they translated fer us. ”
“And did he like the present? ” asked Ron.
“Oh yeah, it went down a storm once they understood what it was, ” said
Hagrid, turning his dragon steak over to press the cooler
 428 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

side to his swollen eye. “Very pleased. So then I said, ‘Albus Dumble -
dore asks the Gurg to speak with his messenger when he returns to -
morrow with another gift. ’”
“Why couldn ’t you speak to them that day? ” asked Hermione.
“Dumbledore wanted us ter take it very slow, ” said Hagrid. “Let
’em see we kept our promises. We ’ll come back tomorrow with another
present, an ’ then we do come back with another present — gives a
good impression, see? An ’ gives them time ter test out the firs ’ present
an ’ find out it ’s a good one, an ’ get ’em eager fer more. In any case, gi -
ants like Karkus — overload ’em with information an ’ they ’ll kill yeh jus ’
to simplify things. So we bowed o utta the way an ’ went off an ’ found
ourselves a nice little cave ter spend that night in, an ’ the fol - lowin ’
mornin ’ we went back an ’ this time we found Karkus sittin ’ up waitin ’ fer
us lookin ’ all eager. ”
“And you talked to him? ”
“Oh yeah. Firs ’ we p resented him with a nice battle helmet —
goblin -made an ’ indestructible, yeh know — an ’ then we sat down an ’
we talked. ”
“What did he say? ”
“Not much, ” said Hagrid. “Listened mostly. But there were good signs.
He ’d heard o ’ Dumbledore, heard he ’d argue d against the killin ’ of the
last giants in Britain. Karkus seemed ter be quite int ’rested in what
Dumbledore had ter say. An ’ a few o ’ the others, ’specially the ones who
had some English, they gathered round an ’ listened too. We were
hopeful when we left that day. Promised ter come back next day with
another present.
“But that night it all wen ’ wrong. ”
“What d ’you mean? ” said Ron quickly.
“Well, like I say, they ’re not meant ter live together, giants, ” said Hagrid
sadly. “Not in big groups like that. They can ’ help themselves, they half
kill each other every few weeks. The men fight each other an ’
 429 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

the women fight each other, the remnants of the old tribes fight each
other, an ’ that ’s even without squabbles over food an ’ the best fires an ’
sleepin ’ spots. Yeh ’d think, seein ’ as how their whole race is abou ’ fin -
ished, they ’d lay off each other, but . . . ”
Hagrid sighed deeply
“That night a fight broke out, we saw it from the mout h of our cave,
lookin ’ down on the valley. Went on fer hours, yeh wouldn ’ be - lieve the
noise. An ’ when the sun came up the snow was scarlet an ’ his head was
lyin ’ at the bottom o ’ the lake. ”
“Whose head? ” gasped Hermione.
“Karkus ’s,” said Hagrid heavily. “There was a new Gurg, Golgo - math. ”
He sighed deeply. “Well, we hadn ’ bargained on a new Gurg two days
after we ’d made friendly contact with the firs ’ one, an ’ we had a funny
feelin ’ Golgomath wouldn ’ be so keen ter listen to us, but we had ter
try. ”
“You went to speak to him? ” asked Ron incredulously. “After you ’d
watched him rip off another giant ’s head? ”
“ ’Course we did, ” said Hagrid, “we hadn ’ gone all that way ter give up
after two days! We wen ’ down with the next present w e’d meant ter give
ter Karkus.
“I knew it was no go before I ’d opened me mouth. He was sitting there
wearin ’ Karkus ’s helmet, leerin ’ at us as we got nearer. He ’s mas - sive,
one o ’ the biggest ones there. Black hair an ’ matchin ’ teeth an ’ a necklace
o’ bo nes. Human -lookin ’ bones, some of ’em. Well, I gave it a go — held
out a great roll o ’ dragon skin — an ’ said A gift fer the Gurg of the giants
— ’ Nex ’ thing I knew, I was hangin ’ upside down in the air by me feet,
two of his mates had grabbed me. ”
Herm ione clapped her hands to her mouth.
“How did you get out of that ?” asked Harry.
“Wouldn ’ta done if Olympe hadn ’ bin there, ” said Hagrid. “She pulled
out her wand an ’ did some o ’ the fastes ’ spellwork I ’ve ever seen.
 430 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

Ruddy marvelous. Hit the two holdin ’ me right in the eyes with Con -
junctivitus Curses an ’ they dropped me straightaway — bu ’ we were in
trouble then, ’cause we ’d used magic against ’em, an ’ that ’s what gi - ants
hate abou ’ wizards. We had ter leg it an ’ we knew there was no way we
was going ter be able ter march inter camp again. ”
“Blimey, Hagrid, ” said Ron quietly.
“So how come it ’s taken you so long to get home if you were only there
for three days? ” asked Hermione.
“We didn ’ leave after three days! ” said Hagrid, looking outraged.
“Dumbledore was relyin ’ on us! ”
“But you ’ve just said there was no way you could go back! ” “Not by
daylight, we couldn ’, no. We just had ter rethink a bit. Spent a couple o ’
days lyin ’ low up in the cave an ’ watchin ’. An ’ wha ’ we saw wasn ’ good. ”
“Did he rip off more heads? ” asked Hermione, sounding squeamish.
“No, ” said Hagrid. “I wish he had. ”
“What d ’you mean? ”
“I mean we soon found out he didn ’ object ter all wizards — just us. ”
“Death Ea ters? ” said Harry quickly.
“Yep, ” said Hagrid darkly. “Couple of ’em were visitin ’ him ev ’ry day,
bringin ’ gifts ter the Gurg, an ’ he wasn ’ dangling them upside down. ”
“How d ’you know they were Death Eaters? ” said Ron. “Because I
recognized one of ’em, ” Hagrid growled. “Macnair, re - member him?
Bloke they sent ter kill Buckbeak? Maniac, he is. Likes killin ’ as much as
Golgomath, no wonder they were gettin ’ on so well. ” “So Macnair ’s
persuaded the giants to join You -Know -Who? ” said Hermione
desperately.
“Hold yer hippogriffs, I haven ’ finished me story yet! ” said Hagrid
indignantly, who, considering he had not wanted to tell them any - thing
in the first place, now seemed to be rather enjoying himself. “Me
 431 ‘

CHAPTER TWENT Y

an ’ Olympe talked it over an ’ we agreed, jus ’ ’cause the Gurg looked like
favorin ’ You -Know -Who didn ’ mean all of ’em would. We had ter try
an ’ persuade some o ’ the others, the ones who hadn ’ wanted Gol -
gomath as Gurg. ”
“How could you tell which ones they were? ” asked Ron. “Well, they
were the ones bein ’ beaten to a pulp, weren ’ they? ” said Hagrid patiently.
“The ones with any sense were keepin ’ outta Golgo - math ’s way, hidin ’
out in caves roun ’ the gully jus ’ like we were . So we decided we ’d go
pokin ’ round the caves by night an ’ see if we couldn ’ persuade a few o ’
them. ”
“You went poking around dark caves looking for giants? ” said Ron with
awed respect in his voice.
“Well, it wasn ’ the giants who worried us most, ” sai d Hagrid. “We were
more concerned abou ’ the Death Eaters. Dumbledore had told us
before we wen ’ not ter tangle with ’em if we could avoid it, an ’ the trou -
ble was they knew we was around — ’spect Golgomath told him abou ’
us. At night when the giants were sleepin ’ an ’ we wanted ter be creepin ’
inter the caves, Macnair an ’ the other one were sneakin ’ round the
mountains lookin ’ fer us. I was hard put to stop Olympe jumpin ’ out at
them, ” said Hagrid, the corners of his mouth lifting his wild beard. “She
was r arin ’ ter attack ’em. . . . she ’s somethin ’ when she ’s roused,
Olympe. . . . Fiery, yeh know . . . ’spect it ’s the French in her . . . ” Hagrid
gazed misty -eyed into the fire. Harry allowed him thirty seconds ’
reminiscence before clearing his throat loudly.
“So what happened? Did you ever get near any of the other giants? ”
“What? Oh . . . oh yeah, we did. Yeah, on the third night after Karkus
was killed, we crept outta the cave we ’d bin hidin ’ in and headed back
down inter the gully, keepin ’ our eyes skinne d fer the Death Eaters. Got
inside a few o ’ the caves, no go — then, in abou ’ the sixth one, we found
three giants hidin ’.”
“Cave must ’ve been cramped, ” said Ron.
 432 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

“Wasn ’ room ter swing a kneazle, ” said Hagrid. “Didn ’t they attack you
when they saw you? ” asked Hermione. “Probably woulda done if they ’d
bin in any condition, ” said Ha - grid, “but they was badly hurt, all three o ’
them. Golgomath ’s lot had beaten ’em unconscious; they ’d woken up
an ’ cra wled inter the near - est shelter they could find. Anyway, one o ’
them had a bit of English an ’ ’e translated fer the others, an ’ what we had
ter say didn ’ seem ter go down too badly. So we kep ’ goin ’ back, visitin ’
the wounded. . . . I reckon we had abou ’ six or seven o ’ them convinced
at one poin ’.” “Six or seven? ” said Ron eagerly. “Well that ’s not bad —
are they going to come over here and start fighting You -Know -Who
with us? ” But Hermione said, “What do you mean ‘at one point, ’
Hagrid? ” Hagrid looked a t her sadly.
“Golgomath ’s lot raided the caves. The ones tha ’ survived didn ’ wan ’ no
more ter to do with us after that. ”
“So . . . so there aren ’t any giants coming? ” said Ron, looking
disappointed.
“Nope, ” said Hagrid, heaving a deep sigh as he t urned over his steak
again and applied the cooler side to his face, “but we did wha ’ we meant
ter do, we gave ’em Dumbledore ’s message an ’ some o ’ them heard it an ’
I ’spect some o ’ them ’ll remember it. Jus ’ maybe, them that don ’ want ter
stay around Golgo math ’ll move outta the mountains, an ’ there ’s gotta be
a chance they ’ll remember Dumbledore ’s friendly to ’em. . . . Could be
they ’ll come . . . ”
Snow was filling up the window now. Harry became aware that the
knees of his robes were soaked through; Fang was drooling with his
head in Harry ’s lap.
“Hagrid? ” said Hermione quietly after a while.
“Mmm? ”
“Did you . . . was there any sign of . . . did you hear anything about
your . . . your . . . mother while you were there? ”
 433 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

Hagrid ’s unobscured eye rested upon her, and Hermione looked rather
scared.
“I’m sorry . . . I . . . forget it — ”
“Dead, ” Hagrid grunted. “Died years ago. They told me. ” “Oh . . . I ’m . . .
I’m really sorry, ” said Hermione in a very small voice.
Hagrid shrugged his massive shoulders. “No need, ” he said shortly.
“Can ’ remember her much. Wasn ’ a great mother. ”
They were silent again. Hermione glanced nervously at Harry and Ron,
plainly want ing them to speak.
“But you still haven ’t explained how you got in this state, Hagrid, ” Ron
said, gesturing toward Hagrid ’s bloodstained face.
“Or why you ’re back so late, ” said Harry. “Sirius says Madame Maxime
got back ages ago — ”
“Who attacked you? ” said Ron.
“I haven ’ bin attacked! ” said Hagrid emphatically. “I — ” But the rest of
his words were drowned in a sudden outbreak of rapping on the door.
Hermione gasped; her mug slipped through her fingers and smashed on
the floor; Fang yelped. All four of them stared at the window beside the
doorway. The shadow of somebody small and squat rippled across the
thin curtain.
“ It’s her !” Ron whispered.
“Get under here! ” Harry said quickly; seizing th e Invisibility Cloak he
whirled it over himself and Hermione while Ron tore around the table
and dived beneath the cloak as well. Huddled together they backed away
into a corner. Fang was barking madly at the door. Ha - grid looked
thoroughly confused.
“Hagrid, hide our mugs! ”
Hagrid seized Harry ’s and Ron ’s mugs and shoved them under the
cushion in Fang ’s basket. Fang was now leaping up at the door; Hagrid
pushed him out of the way with his foot and pulled it open. Professor
Umbridge was standing in the doorway wearing her
 434 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

green tweed cloak and a matching hat with earflaps. Lips pursed, she
leaned back so as to see Hagrid ’s face; she barely reached his navel.
“ So, ” she said slowly and loudly, as though speaking to somebody
deaf. “You ’re Hagrid, are you? ”
Without waiting for an answer she strolled into the room, her bulging
eyes rolling in every direction.
“Get away, ” she snapped, waving her handbag at Fang, who had
bounded up to her and was attempting to lick her face.
“Er — I don ’ want ter be rude, ” said Hagrid, staring at her, “but who the
ruddy hell are you? ”
“My name is Dolores Umbridge. ”
Her eyes were swee ping the cabin. Twice they stared directly into the
corner where Harry stood, sandwiched between Ron and Her - mione.
“Dolores Umbridge? ” Hagrid said, sounding thoroughly confused. “I
thought you were one o ’ them Ministry — don ’ you work with Fudge? ”
“I was Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, yes, ” said Umbridge, now
pacing around the cabin, taking in every tiny detail within, from the
haversack against the wall to the abandoned traveling cloak. “I am now
the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher — ”
“Tha ’s brave of yeh, ” said Hagrid, “there ’s not many ’d take tha ’ job
anymore — ”
“— and Hogwarts High Inquisitor, ” said Umbridge, giving no sign that
she had heard him.
“Wha ’s that? ” said Hagrid, frowning.
“Precisely what I was going to ask, ” said Umbridge, pointing at the
broken shards of china on the floor that had been Hermione ’s mug.
“Oh, ” said Hagrid, with a most unhelpful glance toward the corner
where Harry, Ron, and Hermione stood hidden, “oh, tha ’ was . . . was
Fang. He broke a mug. S o I had ter use this one instead. ”
Hagrid pointed to the mug from which he had been drinking, one
 435 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

hand still clamped over the dragon steak pressed to his eye. Umbridge
stood facing him now, taking in every detail of his appearance instead of
the cabin ’s.
“I heard voices, ” she said quietly.
“I was talkin ’ ter Fang, ” said Hagrid stoutly.
“And was he talking back to you? ”
“Well . . . in a manner o ’ speakin ’,” said H agrid, looking uncom - fortable.
“I sometimes say Fang ’s near enough human — ”
“There are three sets of footprints in the snow leading from the cas - tle
doors to your cabin, ” said Umbridge sleekly.
Hermione gasped; Harry clapped a hand over her mouth. Luckily, Fang
was sniffing loudly around the hem of Professor Umbridge ’s robes, and
she did not appear to have heard.
“Well, I on ’y jus ’ got back, ” said Hagrid, waving an enormous hand at
the haversack. “Maybe someone came ter call earlier an ’ I missed em.
“There are no footsteps leading away from your cabin door. ” “Well I . . .
I don ’ know why that ’d be. . . . ” said Hagrid, tugging nervously at his
beard and again glancing toward the corner where Harry, Ron, and
Hermione stood, as though asking for hel p. “Erm . . . ”
Umbridge wheeled around and strode the length of the cabin, looking
around carefully. She bent and peered under the bed. She opened
Hagrid ’s cupboards. She passed within two inches of where Harry, Ron,
and Hermione stood pressed against t he wall; Harry ac - tually pulled in
his stomach as she walked by. After looking carefully inside the
enormous cauldron Hagrid used for cooking she wheeled around again
and said, “What has happened to you? How did you sustain those
injuries? ”
Hagrid hastily removed the dragon steak from his face, which in Harry ’s
opinion was a mistake, because the black -and -purple bruising
 436 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

all around his eye was now clearly visible, not to mention the large
amount of fresh and congealed blood on his face. “Oh, I . . . had a bit of
an accident, ” he said lamely.
“What sort of accident? ”
“I-I tripped. ”
“You tripped, ” she repeated coolly.
“Yeah, tha ’s right. Over . . . over a friends broomstick. I don ’ fly, meself.
Well, look at the size o ’ me, I don ’ reckon there ’s a broomstick that ’d
hold me. Friend o ’ mine breeds Abraxan horses, I dunno if you ’ve ever
seen ’em, big beasts, winged, yeh know, I ’ve had a bit of a ride on one o ’
them an ’ it was — ”
“Where have you been? ” asked Umbridge, cutting coolly through
Hagrid ’s babbling.
“Where ’ve I . . . ? ”
“Been, yes, ” she said. “Term started more than two months ago.
Another teacher has had to cover your classes. None of your colleagues
has been able to give me any information as to your whereabouts. You
left no address. Where have you been? ”
There was a pause in which Hagrid stared at her with his newly un -
covered e ye. Harry could almost hear his brain working furiously. “I —
I’ve been away for me health, ” he said.
“For your health, ” said Umbridge. Her eyes traveled over Hagrid ’s
discolored and swollen face; dragon blood dripped gently onto his
waistcoat in the si lence. “I see. ”
“Yeah, ” said Hagrid, “bit o ’ — o’ fresh air, yeh know — ” “Yes, as
gamekeeper fresh air must be so difficult to come by, ” said Umbridge
sweetly. The small patch of Hagrid ’s face that was not black or purple
flushed.
“Well — change o ’ scene , yeh know — ”
“Mountain scenery? ” said Umbridge swiftly.
She knows, Harry thought desperately.
 437 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

“Mountains? ” Hagrid repeated, clearly thinking fast. “Nope, South of
France fer me. Bit o ’ sun an ’ . . . an ’ sea. ”
“Really? ” said Umbridge. “You don ’t have much of a tan. ” “Yeah . . .
well . . . sensitive skin, ” said Hagrid, attempting an in - gratiating smile.
Harry noticed that two of his teeth had been knocked out. Umbridge
looked at him coldly; h is smile faltered. Then she hoisted her handbag a
little higher into the crook of her arm and said, “I shall, of course, be
informing the Minister of your late return. ” “Righ ’,” said Hagrid,
nodding.
“You ought to know too that as High Inquisitor it is my unfortu - nate
but necessary duty to inspect my fellow teachers. So I daresay we shall
meet again soon enough. ”
She turned sharply and marched back to the door. “You ’re inspectin ’
us? ” Hagrid echoed blankly, looking after her. “Oh yes, ” said Umbridge
softly, looking back at him with her hand on the door handle. “The
Ministry is determined to weed out unsat - isfactory teachers, Hagrid.
Good night. ”
She left, closing the door behind her with a snap. Harry made to pull off
the Invisibili ty Cloak but Hermione seized his wrist.
“Not yet, ” she breathed in his ear. “She might not be gone yet. ” Hagrid
seemed to be thinking the same way; he stumped across the room and
pulled back the curtain an inch or so.
“She ’s goin ’ back ter the castle, ” he said in a low voice. “Blimey . . .
inspectin ’ people, is she? ”
“Yeah, ” said Harry, pulling the cloak off. “Trelawney ’s on probation
already. . . . ”
“Um . . . what sort of thing are you planning to do with us in class,
Hagrid? ” asked Hermione.
“Oh, d on ’ you worry abou ’ that, I ’ve got a great load o ’ lessons planned, ”
said Hagrid enthusiastically, scooping up his dragon steak from the table
and slapping it over his eye again. “I’ve bin keepin ’ a
 438 ‘

HAGRID ’S TALE

couple o ’ creatures saved fer yer O.W.L. year, you wait, they ’re some -
thin ’ really special. ”
“Erm . . . special in what way? ” asked Hermione tentatively. “I’m not
sayin ’,” said Hagrid happily. “I don ’ want ter spoil the surprise. ”
“Look, Hagrid, ” said Hermione urgently, dropping all pretense,
“Professor Umbridge won ’t be at all happy if you bring anything to class
that ’s too dangerous — ”
“Dangerous? ” said Hagrid, looking genially bemused. “Don ’ be silly, I
wouldn ’ give yeh anythin ’ dangerous! I mean , all righ ’, they can look after
themselves — ”
“Hagrid, you ’ve got to pass Umbridge ’s inspection, and to do that it
would really be better if she saw you teaching us how to look after
porlocks, how to tell the difference between knarls and hedgehogs, stuff
like that! ” said Hermione earnestly.
“But tha ’s not very interestin ’, Hermione, ” said Hagrid. “The stuff I ’ve
got ’s much more impressive, I ’ve bin bringin ’ ’em on fer years, I reckon
I’ve got the on ’y domestic herd in Britain — ”
“Hagrid . . . ple ase . . . ” said Hermione, a note of real desperation in her
voice. “Umbridge is looking for any excuse to get rid of teach - ers she
thinks are too close to Dumbledore. Please, Hagrid, teach us something
dull that ’s bound to come up in our O.W.L. . . . ”
Bu t Hagrid merely yawned widely and cast a one -eyed look of longing
toward the vast bed in the corner.
“Lis ’en, it ’s bin a long day an ’ it’s late, ” he said, patting Hermione gently
on the shoulder, so that her knees gave way and hit the floor with a thud.
“Oh — sorry — ” He pulled her back up by the neck of her robes. “Look,
don ’ you go worryin ’ abou ’ me, I promise yeh I ’ve got really good stuff
planned fer yer lessons now I ’m back. . . . Now you lot had better get
back up to the castle, an ’ don ’ forget ter w ipe yer footprints out behind
yeh! ”
 439 ‘

CHAPTER TWENTY

“I dunno if you got through to him, ” said Ron a short while later when,
having checked that the coast was clear, they walked back up to the
castle through the thickening snow, leaving no trace behind them due to
the Obliteration Charm Hermione was performing as they went.
“Then I ’ll go back again tomorrow, ” said Hermione determinedly. “I’ll
plan his lessons for him if I have to. I don ’t c are if she throws out
Trelawney but she ’s not taking Hagrid! ”


























 440 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T Y -
O N E










THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE




ermione plowed her way back to Hagrid ’s cabin through two
H
feet of snow on Sunday morning. Harry and Ron wanted to
go with her, but their mountain of homework ha d reached an alarm - ing
height again, so they grudgingly remained in the common room, trying
to ignore the gleeful shouts drifting up from the grounds out - side,
where students were enjoying themselves skating on the frozen lake,
tobogganing, and worst of all, bewitching snowballs to zoom up to
Gryffindor Tower and rap hard on the windows.
“Oy! ” bellowed Ron, finally losing patience and sticking his head out of

the window, “I am a prefect and if one more snowball hits this window
— OUCH! ”
He withdrew his head sharply, his face covered in snow. “It’s Fred and
George, ” he said bitterly, slamming the window be - hind him.
“Gits . . . ”
Hermione returned from Hagrid ’s just before lunch, shivering slightly,
her robes damp to the knees.
“So? ” sai d Ron, looking up when she entered. “Got all his lessons
planned for him? ”
 441 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“Well, I tried, ” she said dully, sinking into a chair beside Harry. She
pulled out her wand and gave it a complicated little wave so that hot air
streamed out of the tip; she then pointed this at her robes, which began
to steam as they dried out. “He wasn ’t even there when I ar - rived, I was
knocking for at least half an hour. And then he came stumping out of the
forest — ”
Harry groaned. The Forbidden Forest was teeming with the kind of
creatures most likely to get Hagrid the sack. “What ’s he keeping in there?
Did he say? ” asked Harry.
“No, ” said Hermione miserably. “He say s he wants them to be a surprise.
I tried to explain about Umbridge, but he just doesn ’t get it. He kept
saying nobody in their right mind would rather study knarls
than chimaeras — oh I don ’t think he ’s got a chimaera, ” she added at
the appalled look on Harry and Ron ’s faces, “but that ’s not for lack of
trying from what he said about how hard it is to get eggs. . . . I don ’t
know how many times I told him he ’d be better off following
Grubbly -Plank ’s plan, I honestly don ’t think he lis tened to half of what I
said. He ’s in a bit of a funny mood, you know. He still won ’t say how he
got all those injuries. . . . ”
Hagrid ’s reappearance at the staff table at breakfast next day was not
greeted by enthusiasm from all students. Some, like Fr ed, George, and
Lee, roared with delight and sprinted up the aisle between the
Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables to wring Hagrid ’s enormous hand;
others, like Parvati and Lavender, exchanged gloomy looks and shook
their heads. Harry knew that many of them p referred Professor
Grubbly -Plank ’s lessons, and the worst of it was that a very small, un -
biased part of him knew that they had good reason: Grubbly -Plank ’s
idea of an interesting class was not one where there was a risk that
somebody might have their hea d ripped off.
It was with a certain amount of apprehension that Harry, Ron, and
Hermione headed down to Hagrid ’s on Tuesday, heavily muffled against

the cold. Harry was worried, not only about what Hagrid
 442 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


might have decided to teach them, but also about how the rest of the
class, particularly Malfoy and his cronies, would behave if Umbridge was
watching them.
However, the High Inquisitor was nowhere to be seen as they strug - gled
through the snow toward Hagrid, who stood waiting for them on the
edge of the forest. He did not present a reassuring sight; the bruises that
had been purple on Saturday night were now tinged with green and
yellow and some of his cuts still seemed to be bleeding. Harry could not
understand this: Had Hagrid perhaps been attacked by some creature
whose venom prevented the wounds it inflicted from healing? As
though to complete the ominous picture, Hagrid was carrying what
looked like half a dead cow ove r his shoulder.
“We ’re workin ’ in here today! ” Hagrid called happily to the ap -
proaching students, jerking his head back at the dark trees behind him.
“Bit more sheltered! Anyway, they prefer the dark. . . . ”
“What prefers the dark? ” Harry heard Malfoy say sharply to Crabbe and
Goyle, a trace of panic in his voice. “What did he say prefers the dark —
did you hear? ”
Harry remembered the only occasion on which Malfoy had entered the
forest before now; he had not been very brave then e ither. He smiled to
himself; after the Quidditch match anything that caused Malfoy
discomfort was all right with him.
“Ready? ” said Hagrid happily, looking around at the class. “Right, well,
I’ve bin savin ’ a trip inter the forest fer yer fifth year. Thou ght we ’d go
an ’ see these creatures in their natural habitat. Now, what we ’re studyin ’
today is pretty rare, I reckon I ’m probably the on ’y per - son in Britain
who ’s managed ter train ’em — ”
“And you ’re sure they ’re trained, are you? ” said Malfoy, the p anic in his
voice even more pronounced now. “Only it wouldn ’t be the first time
you ’d brought wild stuff to class, would it? ”
The Slytherins murmured agreement and a few Gryffindors looked as

though they thought Malfoy had a fair point too.
 443 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“’Course they ’re trained, ” said Hagrid, scowling and hoisting the dead
cow a little higher on his shoulder.
“So what happened to your face, then? ” demanded Malfoy. “Mind yer
own business! ” said Hagrid, angrily. “Now if yeh ’ve fin - ished askin ’
stupid questions, follow me! ”
He turned and strode straight into the forest. Nobody seemed much
disposed to follow. Harry glanced at Ron and Hermione, who sighed but
nodded, and the three of them set off after Hagrid, leading the rest of the
class.
They walked for about ten minutes until they reached a place where the
trees stood so closely together that it was as dark as twilight and there
was no snow on the ground at all. Hagrid deposited his half a cow with a
grunt on the ground, stepped back, and turned to face his class again,
most of whom were creeping toward him from tree to tree, peering
around nervously as though expecting to be set upon at any moment.
“Gather roun ’, gather roun ’,” said Hagr id encouragingly. “Now, they ’ll
be attracted by the smell o ’ the meat but I ’m goin ’ ter give ’em a call
anyway, ’cause they ’ll like ter know it ’s me. . . . ”
He turned, shook his shaggy head to get the hair out of his face, and gave
an odd, shrieking cry that echoed through the dark trees like the call of
some monstrous bird. Nobody laughed; most of them looked too
scared to make a sound.
Hagrid gave the shrieking cry again. A minute passed in which the class
continued to peer nervously over their shoulders and around trees for a
first glimpse of whatever it was that was coming. And then, as Hagrid
shook his hair back for a third time and expanded his enor - mous chest,
Harry nudged Ron and pointed into th e black space be - tween two
gnarled yew trees.
A pair of blank, white, shining eyes were growing larger through the
gloom and a moment later the dragonish face, neck, and then skeletal
body of a great, black, winged horse emerged from the dark -

 444 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


ness. It looked around at the class for a few seconds, swishing its long
black tail, then bowed its head and began to tear flesh from the dead cow
with its pointed fangs.
A great wave of relief broke over Harry. Here at last was proof that he
had not imagined these creatures, that they were real: Hagrid knew about
them too. He looked eagerly at Ron, but Ron was still staring around
into the trees and after a few seconds he whispered, “Why doesn ’t
Hagrid call again? ”
Most of the rest of the class were wearing expressions as confused and
nervously expectant as Ron ’s and were still gazing everywhere but at the
horse standing feet from them. There were only two other peo - ple who
seemed to be able to see them: a stringy Slytherin boy standing just
behind Goyle was watching the horse eating with an expression of great
distaste on his face, and Neville, whose eyes were following the swishing
progress of the long black tail.
“Oh, an ’ here comes another one! ” said Hagrid proudly, as a second
black horse appeared out of the dark trees, folded its leathery wings
closer to its body, and dipped its head to gorge on the meat. “Now . . .
put yer hands up, who can see ’em? ”
Immensel y pleased to feel that he was at last going to understand the
mystery of these horses, Harry raised his hand. Hagrid nodded at him.
“Yeah . . . yeah, I knew you ’d be able ter, Harry, ” he said seriously. “An ’
you too, Neville, eh? An ’ — ”
“Excuse me, ” sai d Malfoy in a sneering voice, “but what exactly are we
supposed to be seeing? ”
For answer, Hagrid pointed at the cow carcass on the ground. The
whole class stared at it for a few seconds, then several people gasped and
Parvati squealed. Harry understood why: Bits of flesh stripping
themselves away from the bones and vanishing into thin air had to look
very odd indeed.
“What ’s doing it? ” Parvati demanded in a terrified voice, retreating

behind the nearest tree. “What ’s eating it? ”
 445 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“Thestrals, ” said Hagrid proudly and Hermione gave a soft “oh! ” of
comprehension at Harry ’s shoulder. “Hogwarts has got a whole herd
of ’em in here. Now, who knows — ?”
“But they ’re really, really unluc ky! ” interrupted Parvati, looking alarmed.
“They ’re supposed to bring all sorts of horrible misfortune on people
who see them. Professor Trelawney told me once — ”
“No, no, no, ” said Hagrid, chuckling, “tha ’s jus ’ superstition, that is, they
aren ’ unluck y, they ’re dead clever an ’ useful! ’Course, this lot don ’ get a
lot o ’ work, it ’s mainly jus ’ pullin ’ the school carriages un - less
Dumbledore ’s takin ’ a long journey an ’ don ’ want ter Apparate — an ’
here ’s another couple, look — ”
Two more horses came quietly out of the trees, one of them passing very
close to Parvati, who shivered and pressed herself closer to the tree,
saying, “I think I felt something, I think it ’s near me! ”
“Don ’ worry, it won ’ hurt yeh, ” said Hagrid patiently. “Righ ’, now, who
can tell me why some o ’ you can see them an ’ some can ’t?” Hermione
raised her hand.
“Go on then, ” said Hagrid, beaming at her.
“The only people who can see thestrals, ” she said, “are people who have
seen death. ”
“Tha ’s exactly right, ” said Hagrid solemnly, “ten points ter Gryffin - dor.
Now, thestrals — ”
“ Hem, hem. ”
Professor Umbridge had arrived. She was standing a few feet away from
Harry, wearing her green hat and cloak again, her clipboard at the ready.
Hagrid, who had never he ard Umbridge ’s fake cough be - fore, was
gazing in some concern at the closest thestral, evidently un - der the
impression that it had made the sound.
“ Hem, hem. ”
“Oh hello! ” Hagrid said, smiling, having located the source of the noise.
“You received the note I sent to your cabin this morning? ” said

 446 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


Umbridge, in the same loud, slow voice she had used with him earlier, as
though she was addressing somebody both foreign and very slow.
“Telling you that I would be inspecting your lesson? ”
“Oh yeah, ” said Hagrid brightly. “Glad yeh found the place all righ ’!
Well, as you can see — or, I dunno — can you? We ’re doin ’ thestra ls
today — ”
“I’m sorry? ” said Umbridge loudly, cupping her hand around her ear and
frowning. “What did you say? ”
Hagrid looked a little confused.
“Er — thestrals !” he said loudly. “Big — er — winged horses, yeh
know! ”
He flapped his gigantic a rms hopefully. Professor Umbridge raised her
eyebrows at him and muttered as she made a note on her clipboard,
“‘ has . . . to . . . resort . . . to . . . crude . . . sign . . . language . . . ’”
“Well . . . anyway . . . ” said Hagrid, turning back to the class and looking
slightly flustered. “Erm . . . what was I sayin ’?”
“‘Appears . . . to . . . have . . . poor . . . short . . . term . . . memory . . . ’”
muttered Umbridge, loudly enough for everyone to hear her. Drac o
Malfoy looked as though Christmas had come a month early; Hermi -
one, on the other hand, had turned scarlet with suppressed rage. “Oh
yeah, ” said Hagrid, throwing an uneasy glance at Umbridge ’s clipboard,
but plowing on valiantly. “Yeah, I was gonna tell yeh how come we got a
herd. Yeah, so, we started off with a male an ’ five fe - males. This one, ”
he patted the first horse to have appeared, “name o ’ Tenebrus, he ’s my
special favorite, firs ’ one born here in the forest — ” “Are you aware, ”
Umbridge said lo udly, interrupting him, “that the Ministry of Magic has
classified thestrals as ‘dangerous ’?”
Harry ’s heart sank like a stone, but Hagrid merely chuckled. “Thestrals
aren ’ dangerous! All righ, they might take a bite outta you if yeh really
annoy them — ”
“‘ Shows . . . signs . . . of . . . pleasure . . . at . . . idea . . . of . . . vio -
lence . . . ’” muttered Umbridge, scribbling on her clipboard again.

 447 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“No — come on! ” said Hagrid, looking a little anxious now. “I mean, a
dog ’ll bite if yeh bait it, won ’ it — but thestrals have jus ’ got a bad
reputation because o ’ the death thing — people used ter think they were
bad omens, didn ’ they? Jus ’ didn ’ understand, did they? ” Umbridge did
not answer; she finished writing her last note, then looked up at Hagrid
and said, again very loudly and slowly, “Please continue teaching as usual.
I am going to walk ” — she mimed walk - ing — Malfoy and Pansy
Parkinson were having silent fits of laughter
— “among the students ” — she pointed around at individual mem -
bers of the class — “and ask them questions. ” She pointed at her mouth
to indicate talking.
Hagrid stared at her, clearly at a complete loss to understand why she
was acting as though he did not understand normal English. Hermione
had tears of fury in her eyes now.
“You hag, you evil hag! ” she whispered, as Umbridge walked to - ward
Pansy Parkinson. “I know what you ’re doing, you awful, twisted, vicious
— ”
“Erm . . . anyway, ” said Hagrid, clearly struggling to regain the flow of
his lesson, “so — thestrals. Yeah. Well, there ’s loads o ’ good stuff abou ’
them. . . . ”
“Do you find, ” said Professor Umbridge in a ringing voice to Pansy
Parkinson, “that you are ab le to understand Professor Hagrid when he
talks? ”
Just like Hermione, Pansy had tears in her eyes, but these were tears of
laughter; indeed, her answer was almost incoherent because she was
trying to suppress her giggles. “No . . . because . . . well . . . it sounds
. . . like grunting a lot of the time. . . . ”
Umbridge scribbled on her clipboard. The few unbruised bits of
Hagrid ’s face flushed, but he tried to act as though he had not heard
Pansy ’s answer.
“Er . . . yeah . . . good stuff abou ’ thestr als. Well, once they ’re

 448 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


tamed, like this lot, yeh ’ll never be lost again. ‘Mazin ’ senses o ’ direc -
tion, jus ’ tell ’em where yeh want ter go — ”
“Assuming they can understand you, of course, ” said Malfoy loudly,
and Pansy Parkinson collapsed in a fit of renewed giggles. Pro - fessor
Umbridge smiled indulgently at them and then turned to Neville.
“You can see the thestrals, Longbottom, can you? ” she said.
Neville nodded.
“Whom did you see die? ” she asked, her tone indifferent.
“My . . . my grandad, ” said Neville.
“And what do you think of them? ” she said, waving her stubby hand at
the horses, who by now had stripped a great deal of the car - cass down
to bone.
“Erm, ” said Neville nervously, with a glance at Hagrid. “Well, they ’re . . .
er . . . okay. . . . ”
“‘ Students . . . are . . . too . . . intimidated . . . to . . . admit . . . they
. . . are . . . frightened. . . . ’” muttered Um bridge, making another note
on her clipboard.
“No! ” said Neville, looking upset, “no, I ’m not scared of them — !” “It’s
quite all right, ” said Umbridge, patting Neville on the shoul - der with
what she evidently intended to be an understanding smile, though it
looked more like a leer to Harry. “Well, Hagrid, ” she turned to look up
at him again, speaking once more in that loud, slow voice, “I think I ’ve
got enough to be getting along with. . . . You will re - ceive ” — she
mimed taking something from the air in front of her — “the results of
your inspection ” — she pointed at the clipboard — “in ten days ’ time. ”
She held up ten stubby little fingers, then, her smile wider and more
toadlike than ever before beneath her green hat, she bustled from their
midst , leaving Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson in fits of laughter, Hermione
actually shaking with fury, and Neville looking confused and upset.
 449 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“That foul, lying, twisting old gargoyle! ” stormed Hermione half an hour
later, as they made their way back up to the castle through the channels
they had made earlier in the snow. “You see what she ’s up to? It ’s her
thing about half -breeds all over again — she ’s trying to make out
Hagrid ’s some k ind of dim -witted troll, just because he had a gi - antess
for a mother — and oh, it ’s not fair, that really wasn ’t a bad les - son at all
— I mean, all right, if it had been Blast -Ended Skrewts again, but
thestrals are fine — in fact, for Hagrid, they ’re re ally good! ” “Umbridge
said they ’re dangerous, ” said Ron.
“Well, it ’s like Hagrid said, they can look after themselves, ” said
Hermione impatiently, “and I suppose a teacher like Grubbly -Plank
wouldn ’t usually show them to us before N.E.W.T. level, but, well,
they are very interesting, aren ’t they? The way some people can see
them and some can ’t! I wish I could. ”
“Do you? ” Harry asked her quietly.
She looked horrorstruck.
“Oh Harry — I’m sorr y — no, of course I don ’t — that was a re - ally
stupid thing to say — ”
“It’s okay, ” he said quickly, “don ’t worry. . . . ”
“I’m surprised so many people could see them, ” said Ron. “Three in
a class — ”
“Yeah, Weasley, we were just wondering, ” said a malicious voice
nearby. Unheard by any of them in the muffling snow, Malfoy, Crabbe,
and Goyle were walking along right behind them. “D ’you reckon if you
saw someone snuff it you ’d be able to see the Quaffle better? ”
He, Crabbe, and Goyle roared w ith laughter as they pushed past on their
way to the castle and then broke into a chorus of “Weasley Is Our
King. ” Ron ’s ears turned scarlet.
“Ignore them, just ignore them, ” intoned Hermione, pulling out her
wand and performing the charm to produce hot air again, so that
 450 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


she could melt them an easier path through the untouched snow be -
tween them and the greenhouses.

December arrived, bringing with it more snow and a positive avalanche
of homework for the fifth years. Ron and Hermione ’s pre - fect duties
also became more and more onerous as Christmas ap - proached. They
were called upon to supervise the decoration of the castle ( “You try
putting up tinsel when Peeves has got the other end and is trying to
strangle you with it, ” said Ron), to watch over first and second years
spending their break times inside because of the bit - ter cold ( “And
they ’re cheeky little snotrags, you know, we definitely weren ’t that rude
when we were in first year, ” said Ron), and to patrol the corridors in
shifts with Argus Filch, who suspected that the holi - day spirit might
show itself in an outbreak of wizard duels ( “He ’s got dung for brains,
that one, ” said Ron furiously). They were so busy that Her mione had
stopped knitting elf hats and was fretting that she was down to her last
three.
“All those poor elves I haven ’t set free yet, having to stay over dur - ing
Christmas because there aren ’t enough hats! ”
Harry, who had not had the heart to tell her that Dobby was taking
everything she made, bent lower over his History of Magic essay. In any
case, he did not want to think about Christmas. For the first time in his
school career, he very much wanted to spend the holidays away from
Hogwarts. Betwee n his Quidditch ban and worry about whether or not
Hagrid was going to be put on probation, he felt highly resent - ful toward
the place at the moment. The only thing he really looked forward to were
the D.A. meetings, and they would have to stop over the h olidays, as
nearly everybody in the D.A. would be spending the time with their
families. Hermione was going skiing with her parents, something that
greatly amused Ron, who had never before heard of Muggles strapping
narrow strips of wood to their feet to s lide down

 451 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


mountains. Ron, meanwhile, was going home to the Burrow. Harry
endured several days of jealousy before Ron said, in response to Harry
asking how Ron was going to get home for Christmas, “But you ’re
coming too! Didn ’t I say? Mum wrote and told me to invite you weeks
ago!
Hermione rolled her eyes, but Harry ’s spirits soared: The thought of
Christmas at the Burrow was truly wonderful, only slightly marred by
Harry ’s guilty feeling that he would not be able to spend the holi - day
with Sirius. He wondered whether he could possibly persuade Mrs.
Weasley to invite his godfather for the festivities too, but apart from the
fact that he doubted wh ether Dumbledore would permit Sir - ius to leave
Grimmauld Place, he could not help but feel that Mrs. Weasley might
not want him; they were so often at loggerheads. Sir - ius had not
contacted Harry at all since his last appearance in the fire, and although
Harry knew that with Umbridge on the constant watch it would be
unwise to attempt to contact him, he did not like to think of Sirius alone
in his mother ’s old house, perhaps pulling a lonely cracker with
Kreacher.
Harry arrived early in the Room of Requi rement for the last D.A.
meeting before the holidays and was very glad he had, because when the
lamps burst into light he saw that Dobby had taken it upon him - self to
decorate the place for Christmas. He could tell the elf had done it,
because nobody else would have strung a hundred golden baubles from
the ceiling, each showing a picture of Harry ’s face and bearing the legend
HAVE A VERY HARRY CHRISTMAS!
Harry had only just managed to get the last of them down before the
door creaked open and Luna Loveg ood entered, looking dreamy as
always.
“Hello, ” she said vaguely, looking around at what remained of the
decorations. “These are nice, did you put them up? ”
“No, ” said Harry, “it was Dobby the house -elf. ”

 452 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


“Mistletoe, ” said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white
berries placed almost over Harry ’s head. He jumped out from under it.
“Good thinking, ” said Luna very seriously. “It’s often infested with
nargles. ”
Harry was saved the necessity of asking what nargles were by the arrival
of Angelina, Katie, and Alicia. All three of them were breath - less and
looked very cold.
“Well, ” said Angelina dully, pulling off her cloak and throwing it into a
corner, “we ’ve rep laced you. ”
“Replaced me? ” said Harry blankly.
“You and Fred and George, ” she said impatiently. “We ’ve got an - other
Seeker! ”
“Who? ” said Harry quickly.
“Ginny Weasley, ” said Katie.
Harry gaped at her.
“Yeah, I know, ” said Angelina, pulling out her wand and flexing her arm.
“But she ’s pretty good, actually. Nothing on you, of course, ” she said,
throwing him a very dirty look, “but as we can ’t have you . . . ” Harry bit
back the retort he was longing to utter: Did she imagine for a second that
he did not regret his expulsion from the team a hun - dred times more
than she did?
“And what about the Beaters? ” he asked, trying to keep his voice even.
“Andrew Kirke, ” said Alicia without enthusiasm, “and Jack Sloper.
Neither of them are brilliant, but compared with the rest of the idiots
who turned up . . . ”
The arrival of Ron, Hermione, and Neville brought this depressing
discussion to an end and within five minutes, the room was full enough
to prevent him seeing Ang elina ’s burning, reproachful looks. “Okay, ” he
said, calling them all to order. “I thought this evening we should just go
over the things we ’ve done so far, because it ’s the last

 453 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


meeting before the holidays and there ’s no point starting anything new
right before a three -week break — ”
“We ’re not doing anything new? ” said Zacharias Smith, in a dis - gruntled
whisper loud enough to carry through the room. “If I ’d known that, I
woul dn ’t have come. . . . ”
“We ’re all really sorry Harry didn ’t tell you, then, ” said Fred loudly.
Several people sniggered. Harry saw Cho laughing and felt the fa - miliar
swooping sensation in his stomach, as though he had missed a step
going downstairs.
“W e can practice in pairs, ” said Harry. “We ’ll start with the Im -
pediment Jinx, just for ten minutes, then we can get out the cushions and
try Stunning again. ”
They all divided up obediently; Harry partnered Neville as usual.
The room was soon full of i ntermittent cries of “Impedimenta !” People
froze for a minute or so, during which their partners would stare
aimlessly around the room watching other pairs at work, then would
unfreeze and take their turn at the jinx.
Neville had improved beyond all recognition. After a while, when Harry
had unfrozen three times in a row, he had Neville join Ron and
Hermione again so that he could walk around the room and watch the
others. When he passed Cho she beamed at him; he resist ed the temp -
tation to walk past her several more times.
After ten minutes on the Impediment Jinx, they laid out cushions all
over the floor and started practicing Stunning again. Space was really too
confined to allow them all to work this spell at once; half the group
observed the others for a while, then swapped over. Harry felt himself
positively swelling with pride as he watched them all. True, Neville did
Stun Padma Patil rather than Dean, at whom he had been aiming, but it
was a much closer miss tha n usual, and everybody else had made
enormous progress.
At the end of an hour, Harry called a halt.

 454 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


“You ’re getting really good, ” he said, beaming around at them. “When
we get back from the holidays we can start doing some of the big stuff
— maybe even Patronuses. ”
There was a murmur of excitement. The room began to clear in the usual
twos and threes; most people wished Harry a Happy Christmas as they
went. Feeling cheerful, he collected up the cushions with Ron and
Hermione and stacked them neatly away. Ron and Hermione left before
he did; he hung back a little, because Cho was still there and he was
hoping to receive a Merry Christmas from her.
“No, you go on, ” he heard her say to her friend Marietta, and his heart
gave a jolt that seemed to take it into the region of his Adam ’s apple.
He pretended to be straightening the cushion pile. He was quite sure
they were alone now and waited for her to speak. Instead, he heard a
hearty sniff.
He turned and saw Cho standing in the middle of the room, tears
pouring down her face.
“Wha — ?”
He didn ’t know what to do. She was simply standing there, crying
silently.
“What ’s up? ” he said feebly.
She shook her head and wiped her eyes on her sleeve. “I’m — sorry, ”
she said thickly. “I suppose . . . it ’s just . . . learning all this
stuff. . . . It just makes me . . . wonder whether . . . if he’d known it all
. . . he ’d still be alive. . . . ”
Harry ’s heart sank right back past its usual spot and settled some - where
around his navel. He ought to have known. She wanted to talk about
Cedric.
“He did know this stuff, ” Harry said heavily. “He was really good at it, or
he could never have got to the middle of that maze. But if Voldemort
really wants to kill you, you don ’t stand a chance. ”

 455 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


She hiccuped at the sound of Voldemort ’s name, but stared at Harry
without flinching.
“ You survived when you were just a baby, ” she said quietly.
“Yeah, well, ” said Harry wearily, moving toward the door, “I dunno why,
nor does anyone else, so it ’s nothing to be proud of. ”
“Oh don ’t go! ” said Cho, sounding tearful again. “I’m really sorry to get
all upset like this. . . . I didn ’t mean to. . . . ”
She hiccuped again. She was very pretty even when her eyes were red
and puffy. Harry felt thoroughly miserable. He ’d have been so pleased
just with a Merry Christmas. . . .
“I know it must be h orrible for you, ” she said, mopping her eyes on her
sleeve again. “Me mentioning Cedric, when you saw him die. . . . I
suppose you just want to forget about it. . . . ”
Harry did not say anything to this; it was quite true, but he felt heartless
saying i t.
“You ’re a r -really good teacher, you know, ” said Cho, with a watery
smile. “I’ve never been able to Stun anything before. ”
“Thanks, ” said Harry awkwardly.
They looked at each other for a long moment. Harry felt a burning desire
to run from the ro om and, at the same time, a complete inabil - ity to
move his feet.
“Mistletoe, ” said Cho quietly, pointing at the ceiling over his head.
“Yeah, ” said Harry. His mouth was very dry. “It’s probably full of
nargles, though. ”
“What are nargles? ”
“No idea, ” said Harry. She had moved closer. His brain seemed to have
been Stunned. “You ’d have to ask Loony. Luna, I mean. ” Cho made a
funny noise halfway between a sob and a laugh. She was even nearer him
now. He could have counted the freckles on her nos e.
“I really like you, Harry. ”

 456 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


He could not think. A tingling sensation was spreading throughout him,
paralyzing his arms, legs, and brain.
She was much too close. He could see every tear clinging to her
eyelashes. . . .

He returned to the common room half an hour later to find Hermione
and Ron in the best seats by the fire; nearly everybody else had gone to
bed. Hermione was writing a v ery long letter; she had al - ready filled half
a roll of parchment, which was dangling from the edge of the table. Ron
was lying on the hearthrug, trying to finish his Transfiguration
homework.
“What kept you? ” he asked, as Harry sank into the armchair ne xt to
Hermione ’s.
Harry did not answer. He was in a state of shock. Half of him wanted to
tell Ron and Hermione what had just happened, but the other half
wanted to take the secret with him to the grave.
“Are you all right, Harry? ” Hermione asked, peer ing at him over the tip
of her quill.
Harry gave a halfhearted shrug. In truth, he didn ’t know whether he was
all right or not. “What ’s up? ” said Ron, hoisting himself up on his elbow
to get a clearer view of Harry. “What ’s happened? ”
Harry didn ’t quite know how to set about telling them, and still wasn ’t
sure whether he wanted to. Just as he had decided not to say anything,
Hermione took matters out of his hands.
“Is it Cho? ” she asked in a businesslike way. “Did she corner you af - ter
the meeti ng? ”
Numbly surprised, Harry nodded. Ron sniggered, breaking off when
Hermione caught his eye.
“So — er — what did she want? ” he asked in a mock casual voice. “She
— ” Harry began, rather hoarsely; he cleared his throat and tried again.
“She — er — ”

 457 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“Did you kiss? ” asked Hermione briskly.
Ron sat up so fast that he sent his ink bottle flying all over the rug.
Disregarding this completely he stared avidly at Harry.
“Well? ” he demanded.
Harry looked from Ron ’s expression of mingled curiosity and hilar - ity
to Hermione ’s slight frown, and nodded.
“HA! ”
Ron made a triumphant gesture with his fist and went into a rau - cous
peal of laughter that made several timid -looking second years ove r
beside the window jump. A reluctant grin spread over Harry ’s face as he
watched Ron rolling around on the hearthrug. Hermione gave Ron a
look of deep disgust and returned to her letter.
“Well? ” Ron said finally, looking up at Harry. “How was it? ”
Harry considered for a moment.
“Wet, ” he said truthfully.
Ron made a noise that might have indicated jubilation or disgust, it was
hard to tell.
“Because she was crying, ” Harry continued heavily. “Oh, ” said Ron, his
smile fading slightly. “Are you t hat bad at kissing? ”
“Dunno, ” said Harry, who hadn ’t considered this, and immediately felt
rather worried. “Maybe I am. ”
“Of course you ’re not, ” said Hermione absently, still scribbling away at
her letter.
“How do you know? ” said Ron in a sharp voice. “Because Cho spends
half her time crying these days, ” said Her - mione vaguely. “She does it at
mealtimes, in the loos, all over the place. ”
“You ’d think a bit of kissing would cheer her up, ” said Ron, grinning.
“Ron, ” said Hermione in a dignified voice, dipping the point of her
 458 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


quill into her ink pot, “you are the most insensitive wart I have ever had
the misfortune to meet. ”
“What ’s that supposed to mean? ” said Ron indignantly. “What sort of
person cries while someone ’s kissing them? ”
“Yeah, ” said Harry, slightly desperately, “who does? ” Hermione looked
at the pair of them with an almost pitying ex - pression on her face.
“Don ’t you understand how Cho ’s feeling at the moment? ” she asked.
“No, ” said Harry and Ron together.
Hermione sighed and laid down her quill.
“Well, obviously, she ’s feeling very sad, because of Cedric dying. Then I
expect she ’s feeling confused because she liked Cedric and now she likes
Harry, and she can ’t work out who she likes best. Then she ’ll be feeling
guilty, thinking it ’s an insult to Cedric ’s memory to be kiss - ing Harry at
all, and she ’ll be worrying about what everyone else might say about her
if she starts going out with Harry. And she prob - ably can ’t work out
what her feelings toward Harry are anyway, be - cause he was the one
who was with Cedric when Cedric died, so that ’s all very mixed up and
painful. Oh, and she ’s afraid she ’s going to be th rown off the Ravenclaw
Quidditch team because she ’s been flying so badly. ”
A slightly stunned silence greeted the end of this speech, then Ron said,
“One person can ’t feel all that at once, they ’d explode. ”
“Just because you ’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn ’t
mean we all have, ” said Hermione nastily, picking up her quill again.
“She was the one who started it, ” said Harry. “I wouldn ’t’ve — she just
sort of came at me — and next thing she ’s crying all over me — I didn ’t
know what to do — ”
“Don ’t blame you, mate, ” said Ron, looking alarmed at the very
thought.
 459 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“You just had to be nice to her, ” said Hermione, looking up anx - iously.
“You were, weren ’t you? ”
“Well, ” said Harry, an unpleasant heat creeping up his face, “I sort of —
patted her on the back a bit. ”
Hermione looked as though she was restraining herself from rolling her
eyes with extreme difficulty.
“Well, I suppose it could have been worse, ” she said. “Are you go - ing
to see her again? ”
“I’ll have to, won ’t I? ” said Harry. “We ’ve got D.A. meetings, haven ’t
we? ”
“You know what I mean, ” said Hermione impatiently. Harry said
nothing. Hermione ’s wor ds opened up a whole new vista of frightening
possibilities. He tried to imagine going somewhere with Cho —
Hogsmeade, perhaps — and being alone with her for hours at a time. Of
course, she would have been expecting him to ask her out after what had
just h appened. . . . The thought made his stomach clench painfully.
“Oh well, ” said Hermione distantly, buried in her letter once more,
“you ’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask her. . . . ”
“What if he doesn ’t want to ask her? ” said Ron, who had been
wat ching Harry with an unusually shrewd expression on his face. “Don ’t
be silly, ” said Hermione vaguely, “Harry ’s liked her for ages, haven ’t you,
Harry? ”
He did not answer. Yes, he had liked Cho for ages, but whenever he had
imagined a scene involving the two of them it had always featured a Cho
who was enjoying herself, as opposed to a Cho who was sob - bing
uncontrollably into his shoulder.
“Who ’re you writing the novel to anyway? ” Ron asked Hermione, trying
to read th e bit of parchment now trailing on the floor. Hermione hitched
it up out of sight.
“Viktor. ”

 460 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


“ Krum ?”
“How many other Viktors do we know? ”
Ron said nothing, but looked disgruntled. They sat in silence for another
twenty minutes, Ron finishing his Transfiguration essay with many
snorts of impatience and crossings -out, Hermione writing steadily to
the very end of the parchment, rolling it up c arefully and sealing it, and
Harry staring into the fire, wishing more than anything that Sirius ’s head
would appear there and give him some advice about girls. But the fire
merely crackled lower and lower, until the red -hot embers crumbled into
ash and, l ooking around, Harry saw that they were, yet again, the last in
the common room.
“Well, ’night, ” said Hermione, yawning widely, and she set off up the
girls ’ staircase.
“What does she see in Krum? ” Ron demanded as he and Harry climbed
the boys ’ stairs.
“Well, ” said Harry, considering the matter, “I s ’pose he ’s older, isn ’t
he . . . and he ’s an international Quidditch player. . . . ”
“Yeah, but apart from that, ” said Ron, sounding aggravated. “I mean
he ’s a grouchy git, isn ’t he? ”
“Bit grouchy, yeah, ” said Harry, whose thoughts were still on Cho. They
pulled off their robes and put on pajamas in silence; Dean, Seamus, and
Neville were already asleep. Harry put his glasses on his bedside table
and got into bed but did not pull the han gings closed around his
four -poster; instead he stared at the patch of starry sky vis - ible through
the window next to Neville ’s bed. If he had known, this time last night,
that in twenty -four hours ’ time he would have kissed Cho Chang . . .
“’Night, ” grunted Ron, from somewhere to his right.
“’Night, ” said Harry.
Maybe next time . . . if there was a next time . . . she ’d be a bit happier. He
ought to have asked her out; she had probably been

 461 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


expecting it and was now really angry with him . . . or was she lying in
bed, still crying about Cedric? He did not know what to think.
Hermione ’s explanation had made it all seem more complicated rather
than easier to understand.
That ’s what they sh ould teach us here, he thought, turning over onto
his side, how girls ’ brains work . . . it ’d be more useful than Divination
anyway. . . .
Neville snuffled in his sleep. An owl hooted somewhere out in the night.
Harry dreamed he was back in the D.A. room. Cho was accusing him of
luring her there under false pretenses; she said that he had promised her
a hundred and fifty Chocolate Frog cards if she showed
up. Harry protested. . . . Cho shouted, “ Cedric gave me loads of Choco -
late Frog cards, look !” And she pulled out fistfuls of cards from inside
her robes and threw them into the air, and then turned into
Hermione, who said, “ You did promise her, you know, Harry. . . . I
think you ’d better give her so mething else instead. . . . How about your
Firebolt ?” And Harry was protesting that he could not give Cho his
Firebolt because Umbridge had it, and anyway the whole thing was
ridiculous, he ’d only come to the D.A. room to put up some Christ - mas
baubles shaped like Dobby ’s head. . . .
The dream changed. . . .
His body felt smooth, powerful, and flexible. He was gliding be - tween
shining metal bars, across dark, cold stone. . . . He was flat against the
floor, sliding along on his belly. . . . It was dark, yet he could see objects
around him shimmering in strange, vibrant colors.
. . . He was turning his head. . . . At first glance, the corridor was
empty . . . but no . . . a man was sitting on the floor ahead, his chin
drooping onto his chest, his outline gleaming in the dark. . . .
Harry put out his tongue. . . . He tasted the man ’s scent on the air.
. . . He was alive but drowsing . . . sitting in front of a door at the end of
the corridor . . .
 462 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


Harry longed to bite the man . . . but he must master the impulse.
. . . He had more important work to do. . . .
But the man was stirring . . . a silvery cloak fell from his legs as he
jumped to his feet; and Harry saw his vibrant, blurred outline tower - ing
above him, saw a wand withdrawn from a belt. . . . He had no choice. . . .
He reared high from the floor and struck once, twice, three times,
plunging his fangs deeply into the man ’s flesh, feeling his ribs splinter
ben eath his jaws, feeling the warm gush of blood. . . . The man was
yelling in pain . . . then he fell silent. . . . He slumped backward against
the wall. . . . Blood was splattering onto the floor. . . . His forehead hurt
terribly. . . . It was aching fit to burst. . . .
“Harry! HARRY! ”
He opened his eyes. Every inch of his body was covered in icy sweat; his
bedcovers were twisted all around him like a straitjacket; he felt as
though a white -hot poker was being applied to his forehead.
“ Harry !”
Ron was standing over him looking extremely frightened. There were
more figures at the foot of Harry ’s bed. He clutched his head in his
hands; the pain was blinding him. . . . He rolled right over and vomited
over the edge of the mattress.
“He ’s really il l,” said a scared voice. “Should we call someone? ”
“Harry! Harry !”
He had to tell Ron, it was very important that he tell him. . . . Tak - ing
great gulps of air, Harry pushed himself up in bed, willing himself not to
throw up again, the pain half -bli nding him.
“Your dad, ” he panted, his chest heaving. “Your dad ’s . . . been
attacked. . . . ”
“What? ” said Ron uncomprehendingly.
“Your dad! He ’s been bitten, it ’s serious, there was blood
everywhere. . . . ”
“I’m going for help, ” said the same scared voice, and Harry heard
footsteps running out of the dormitory.

 463 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -ONE


“Harry, mate, ” said Ron uncertainly, “you . . . you were just
dreaming. . . . ”
“No! ” said Harry furiously; it was crucial that Ron understand. “It wasn ’t
a dream . . . not an ordinary dream. . . . I was there, I saw it.
. . . I did it. . . . ”
He could hear Seamus and Dean muttering but did not care. The pain in
his forehead was subsidi ng slightly, though he was still sweat - ing and
shivering feverishly. He retched again and Ron leapt backward out of the
way.
“Harry, you ’re not well, ” he said shakily. “Neville ’s gone for help. . . . ”
“I’m fine! ” Harry choked, wiping his mouth on his pajamas and shaking
uncontrollably. “There ’s nothing wrong with me, it ’s your dad you ’ve
got to worry about — we need to find out where he is — he ’s bleeding
like mad — I was — it was a huge snake. . . . ”
He tried to get out of bed but Ron pushed him back into it; Dean and
Seamus were still whispering somewhere nearby. Whether one minute
passed or ten, Harry did not know; he simply sat there shak - ing, feeling
the pain recede very slowly from his scar. . . . Then th ere were hurried
footsteps coming up the stairs, and he heard Neville ’s voice again.
“Over here, Professor . . . ”
Professor McGonagall came hurrying into the dormitory in her tar - tan
dressing gown, her glasses perched lopsidedly on the bridge of her b ony
nose.
“What is it, Potter? Where does it hurt? ”
He had never been so pleased to see her; it was a member of the Or - der
of the Phoenix he needed now, not someone fussing over him and
prescribing useless potions.
“It’s Ron ’s dad, ” he said, sittin g up again. “He ’s been attacked by a snake
and it ’s serious, I saw it happen. ”
 464 ‘

THE EYE OF THE
SNAKE


“What do you mean, you saw it happen? ” said Professor McGona - gall,
her dark eyebrows contracting.
“I don ’t know. . . . I was asleep and then I was there. . . . ”
“You mean you dreamed this? ”
“No! ” said Harry angrily. Would none of them understand? “I was
having a dream at first about something completely different, some -
thing stupid . . . and then this int errupted it. It was real, I didn ’t imag - ine
it, Mr. Weasley was asleep on the floor and he was attacked by a gigantic
snake, there was a load of blood, he collapsed, someone ’s got to find out
where he is. . . . ”
Professor McGonagall was gazing at him through her lopsided
spectacles as though horrified at what she was seeing.
“I’m not lying, and I ’m not mad! ” Harry told her, his voice rising to a
shout. “I tell you, I saw it happen! ”
“I believe you, Potter, ” said Professor McGonagall curtly. “Put on your
dressing -gown — we ’re going to see the headmaster. ”

 465 ‘

C H A P T E R T W E N T Y -
T W O










ST. MUNGO ’ S
HOSPITAL FOR
MAGICAL MALADIES AND
INJURIES


arry was so relieved that she was taking him seriously that he
H
did not hesitate, but jumped out of bed at once, pulled on
his dressing gown, and pushed his glasses back onto his nose. “Weasley,
you ought to come too, ” said Professor McGonagall. They followed
Professor McGonagall past the silent figures of Neville, Dean, and
Seamus, out of the dormitory, down the spiral stairs into the common
room, through the portrait hole, and off along the Fat Lady ’s moonlit
corridor. Harry felt as though the panic inside him might spill over at any
moment; he wanted to run, to yell for Dumbledore. Mr. Weasley was
bleeding as they walked alo ng so se - dately, and what if those fangs
(Harry tried hard not to think “my fangs ”) had been poisonous? They

passed Mrs. Norris, who turned her lamplike eyes upon them and hissed
faintly, but Professor McGona - gall said, “Shoo! ” Mrs. Norris slunk
away int o the shadows, and in a few minutes they had reached the stone
gargoyle guarding the en - trance to Dumbledore ’s office.
“Fizzing Whizbee, ” said Professor McGonagall.
 466 ‘

ST. MUNGO ’S
HOSPITAL FOR MAGICAL
MALADIES AND INJURIES
The gargoyle sprang to life and leapt aside; the wall behind it split in two
to reveal a stone staircase that was moving continuously up - ward like a
spiral escalator. The three of them stepped onto the mov - ing stairs; the
wall closed behind them with a thud, and they were moving upward in
tight circles until they reached the highly polished oak door with the
brass knocker shaped like a griffin.
Though it was now well past midnight, there were voices comi ng from
inside the room, a positive babble of them. It sounded as though
Dumbledore was entertaining at least a dozen people.
Professor McGonagall rapped three times with the griffin knocker, and
the voices ceased abruptly as though someone had switched t hem all off.
The door opened of its own accord and Professor McGonagall led
Harry and Ron inside.
The room was in half darkness; the strange silver instruments standing
on tables were silent and still rather than whirring and emit - ting puffs of
smoke as they usually did. The portraits of old headmas - ters and
headmistresses covering the walls were all snoozing in their frames.
Behind the door, a magnificent red -and -gold bird the size of a swan
dozed on its perch with its head under its wing.
“Oh, it ’s you, Professor McGonagall . . . and . . . ah. ”
Dumbledore was sitting in a high -backed chair behind his desk; he
leaned forward into the pool of candlelight illuminating the papers laid
out before him. He was wearing a magnificently embroidered
purple -and -gold dressing gown over a snowy -white nightshirt, but
seemed wide awake, his penetrating light -blue eyes fixed intently upon
Professor McGonagall.
“Professor Dumbledore, Potter has had a . . . well, a nightmare, ” said
Professor McGonagall. “He says . . .”
“It wasn ’t a nightmare, ” said Harry quickly.
Professor McGonagall looked around at Harry, frowning slightly.
“Very well, then, Potter, you tell the headmaster about it. ”
“I . . . well, I was asleep. . . . ” said Harry and even in his terror and
 467 ‘

CHAPTER
TWENTY -TWO


his desperation to make Dumbledore understand he felt slightly irri -
tated that the headmaster was not looking at him, but examining his own
interlocked fingers. “But it wasn ’t an ordinary dream . . . it was real. . . . I
saw it happen. . . . ” He took a deep breath, “Ron ’s dad — Mr. Weasley
— has been attacked by a giant snake. ”
The words seemed to reverberate in the air after he had said them,
slightly ridiculous, even comic. There was a pause in which Dumble -
dore leaned back and stared meditatively at the ceiling. Ron looked from
Harry to Dumbledore, white -faced and shocked.
“How did you see this? ” Dumbledore ask