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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (page 11)


When the whole class was seated, Lockhart cleared his throat loudly and silence fell. He reached forward, picked up Neville Longbottom's copy of Travels with Trolls, and held it up to show his own, winking portrait on the front.

“Me,” he said, pointing at it and winking as well. “Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's MostCharming-Smile Award—but I don't talk about that. I didn't get rid of the Bandon Banshee by smiling at her!”

He waited for them to laugh; a few people smiled weakly.

“I see you've all bought a complete set of my books—well done. I thought we'd start today with a little quiz. Nothing to worry about

just to check how well you've read them, how much you've taken in—”

When he had handed out the test papers he returned to the front of the class and said, “You have thirty minutes—start—now!”

Harry looked down at his paper and read:

1. What is Gilderoy Lockhart 's favorite color? 2. What is Gilderoy Lockhart's secret ambition? 3. What, in your opinion, is Gilderoy Lockhart's greatest

achievement to date?

On and on it went, over three sides of paper, right down to:

54. When is Gilderoy Lockhart's birthday, and what would his

ideal gift be?

Half an hour later, Lockhart collected the papers and rifled through them in front of the class.

“Tut, tut—hardly any of you remembered that my favorite color is lilac. I say so in Year with the Yeti. And a few of you need to read Wanderings with Werewolves more carefully—I clearly state in

 

Chapter twelve that my ideal birthday gift would be harmony between all magic and non-magic peoples—though I wouldn't say no to a large bottle of Ogden's Old Firewhisky!”

He gave them another roguish wink. Ron was now staring at Lockhart with an expression of disbelief on his face; Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, who were sitting in front, were shaking with silent laughter. Hermione, on the other hand, was listening to Lockhart with rapt attention and gave a start when he mentioned her name.

“...but Miss Hermione Granger knew my secret ambition is to rid the world of evil and market my own range of hair-care potions—good girl! In fact”—he flipped her paper over—”full marks! Where is Miss Hermione Granger?”

Hermione raised a trembling hand.

“Excellent!” beamed Lockhart. “Quite excellent! Take ten points for Gryffindor! And so—to business—”

He bent down behind his desk and lifted a large, covered cage onto it.

“Now—be warned! It is my job to arm you against the foulest creatures known to wizardkind! You may find yourselves facing your worst fears in this room. Know only that no harm can befall you whilst I am here. All I ask is that you remain calm.”

In spite of himself, Harry leaned around his pile of books for a better look at the cage. Lockhart placed a hand on the cover. Dean and Seamus had stopped laughing now. Neville was cowering in his front row seat.

“I must ask you not to scream,” said Lockhart in a low voice. “It might provoke them.”

As the whole class held its breath, Lockhart whipped off the cover.

“Yes,” he said dramatically. “Freshly caught Cornish pixies. “

Seamus Finnigan couldn't control himself. He let out a snort of laughter that even Lockhart couldn't mistake for a scream of terror.

“Yes?” He smiled at Seamus.

“Well, they're not—they're not very—dangerous, are they?” Seamus choked.

“Don't be so sure!” said Lockhart, waggling a finger annoyingly at Seamus. “Devilish tricky little blighters they can be!”

The pixies were electric blue and about eight inches high, with pointed faces and voices so shrill it was like listening to a lot of budgies arguing. The moment the cover had been removed, they had started jabbering and rocketing around, rattling the bars and making bizarre faces at the people nearest them.

“Right, then,” Lockhart said loudly. “Let's see what you make of them!” And he opened the cage.

It was pandemonium. The pixies shot in every direction like rockets. Two of them seized Neville by the ears and lifted him into the air. Several shot straight through the window, showering the back row with broken glass. The rest proceeded to wreck the classroom more effectively than a rampaging rhino. They grabbed ink bottles and sprayed the class with them, shredded books and papers, tore pictures from the walls, up-ended the waste basket, grabbed bags and books and threw them out of the smashed window; within minutes, half the class was sheltering under desks and Neville was swinging from the iron chandelier in the ceiling.

“Come on now—round them up, round them up, they're only pixies,” Lockhart shouted.

He rolled up his sleeves, brandished his wand, and bellowed,

“Peskipiksi Pesternomi!”

It had absolutely no effect; one of the pixies seized his wand and threw it out of the window, too. Lockhart gulped and dived under his own desk, narrowly avoiding being squashed by Neville, who fell a second later as the chandelier gave way.

The bell rang and there was a mad rush toward the exit. In the relative calm that followed, Lockhart straightened up, caught sight of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who were almost at the door, and said, “Well, I'll ask you three to just nip the rest of them back into their cage.” He swept past them and shut the door quickly behind him.

“Can you believe him?” roared Ron as one of the remaining pixies bit him painfully on the ear.

“He just wants to give us some hands-on experience,” said Hermione, immobilizing two pixies at once with a clever Freezing Charm and stuffing them back into their cage.

“Hands on? “said Harry, who was trying to grab a pixie dancing out of reach with its tongue out. “Hermione, he didn't have a clue what he was doing—”

“Rubbish,” said Hermione. “You've read his books—look at all those amazing things he's done—”

“He says he's done,” Ron muttered.

 

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

MUDBLOODS AND MURMURS

 

Harry spent a lot of time over the next few days dodging out of sight whenever he saw Gilderoy Lockhart coming down a corridor. Harder to avoid was Colin Creevey, who seemed to have memorized Harry's schedule. Nothing seemed to give Colin a bigger thrill than to say, “All right, Harry?” six or seven times a day and hear, “Hello, Colin,” back, however exasperated Harry sounded when he said it.

Hedwig was still angry with Harry about the disastrous car journey and Ron's wand was still malfunctioning, surpassing itself on Friday morning by shooting out of Ron's hand in Charms and hitting tiny old Professor Flitwick squarely between the eyes, creating a large, throbbing green boil where it had struck. So with one thing and another, Harry was quite glad to reach the weekend. He, Ron, and Hermione were planning to visit Hagrid on Saturday morning. Harry, however, was shaken awake several hours earlier than he would have liked by Oliver Wood, Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

“Whassamatter?” said Harry groggily.

“Quidditch practice!” said Wood. “Come on!”

Harry squinted at the window. There was a thin mist hanging across the pink-and-gold sky. Now that he was awake, he couldn't understand how he could have slept through the racket the birds were making.

“Oliver,” Harry croaked. “It's the crack of dawn.”

“Exactly,” said Wood. He was a tall and burly sixth year and, at the moment, his eyes were gleaming with a crazed enthusiasm. “It's part of our new training program. Come on, grab your broom, and let's go,” said Wood heartily. “None of the other teams have started training yet; we're going to be first off the mark this year—”

Yawning and shivering slightly, Harry climbed out of bed and tried to find his Quidditch robes.

“Good man,” said Wood. “Meet you on the field in fifteen minutes.

When he'd found his scarlet team robes and pulled on his cloak for warmth, Harry scribbled a note to Ron explaining where he'd gone and went down the spiral staircase to the common room, his Nimbus Two Thousand on his shoulder. He had just reached the portrait hole when there was a clatter behind him and Colin Creevey came dashing down the spiral staircase, his camera swinging madly around his neck and something clutched in his hand.

“I heard someone saying your name on the stairs, Harry! Look what I've got here! I've had it developed, I wanted to show you—”

Harry looked bemusedly at the photograph Colin was brandishing under his nose.

A moving, black-and-white Lockhart was tugging hard on an arm Harry recognized as his own. He was pleased to see that his photographic self was putting up a good fight and refusing to be dragged into view. As Harry watched, Lockhart gave up and slumped, panting, against the white edge of the picture.

“Will you sign it?” said Colin eagerly.

“No,” said Harry flatly, glancing around to check that the room was really deserted. “Sorry, Colin, I'm in a hurry—Quidditch practice—”

He climbed through the portrait hole.

“Oh, wow! Wait for me! I've never watched a Quidditch game before!”

Colin scrambled through the hole after him.

“It'll be really boring,” Harry said quickly, but Colin ignored him, his face shining with excitement.

“You were the youngest House player in a hundred years, weren't you, Harry? Weren't you?” said Colin, trotting alongside him. “You must be brilliant. I've never flown. Is it easy? Is that your own broom? Is that the best one there is?”

Harry didn't know how to get rid of him. It was like having an extremely talkative shadow.

“I don't really understand Quidditch,” said Colin breathlessly. “Is it true there are four balls? And two of them fly around trying to knock people off their brooms?”

“Yes,” said Harry heavily, resigned to explaining the complicated rules of Quidditch. “They're called Bludgers. There are two Beaters on each team who carry clubs to beat the Bludgers away from their side. Fred and George Weasley are the Gryffindor Beaters.”

“And what are the other balls for?” Colin asked, tripping down a couple of steps because he was gazing open-mouthed at Harry.

“Well, the Quaffle—that's the biggish red one—is the one that scores goals. Three Chasers on each team throw the Quaffle to each other and try and get it through the goal posts at the end of the pitch—they're three long poles with hoops on the end.”

“And the fourth ball—”

“is the Golden Snitch,” said Harry, “and it's very small, very fast, and difficult to catch. But that's what the Seeker's got to do, because a game of Quidditch doesn't end until the Snitch has been caught. And whichever team's Seeker gets the Snitch earns his team an extra hundred and fifty points.”

“And you're the Gryffindor Seeker, aren't you?” said Colin in awe.

“Yes,” said Harry as they left the castle and started across the dewdrenched grass. “And there's the Keeper, too. He guards the goal posts. That's it, really.”

But Colin didn't stop questioning Harry all the way down the sloping lawns to the Quidditch field, and Harry only shook him off when he reached the changing rooms; Colin called after him in a piping voice, “I'll go and get a good seat, Harry!” and hurried off to the stands.

The rest of the Gryffindor team were already in the changing room. Wood was the only person who looked truly awake. Fred and George Weasley were sitting, puffy-eyed and tousle-haired, next to fourth year Alicia Spinnet, who seemed to be nodding off against the wall behind her. Her fellow Chasers, Katie Bell and Angelina Johnson, were yawning side by side opposite them.

“There you are, Harry, what kept you?” said Wood briskly. “Now, I wanted a quick talk with you all before we actually get onto the field, because I spent the summer devising a whole new training program, which I really think will make all the difference...”

Wood was holding up a large diagram of a Quidditch field, on which were drawn many lines, arrows, and crosses in different-coloured inks. He took out his wand, tapped the board, and the arrows began to wiggle over the diagram like caterpillars. As Wood launched into a speech about his new tactics, Fred Weasley's head drooped right onto Alicia Spinnet's shoulder and he began to snore.

The first board took nearly twenty minutes to explain, but there was another board under that, and a third under that one. Harry sank into a stupor as Wood droned on and on.

“So,” said Wood, at long last, jerking Harry from a wistful fantasy about what he could be eating for breakfast at this very moment up at the castle. “Is that clear? Any questions?”

“I've got a question, Oliver,” said George, who had woken with a start. “Why couldn't you have told us all this yesterday when we were awake?”

Wood wasn't pleased.

“Now, listen here, you lot,” he said, glowering at them all. “We should have won the Quidditch cup last year. We're easily the best team. But unfortunately -owing to circumstances beyond our control—”

Harry shifted guiltily in his seat. He had been unconscious in the hospital wing for the final match of the previous year, meaning that Gryffindor had been a player short and had suffered their worst defeat in three hundred years.

Wood took a moment to regain control of himself. Their last defeat was clearly still torturing him.

“So this year, we train harder than ever before... Okay, let's go and put our new theories into practice!” Wood shouted, seizing his broomstick and leading the way out of the locker rooms. Stiff-legged and still yawning, his team followed.

They had been in the locker room so long that the sun was up completely now, although remnants of mist hung over the grass in the stadium. As Harry walked onto the field, he saw Ron and Hermione sitting in the stands.

“Aren't you finished yet?” called Ron incredulously.

“Haven't even started,” said Harry, looking jealously at the toast and marmalade Ron and Hermione had brought out of the Great Hall. “Wood's been teaching us new moves.”

Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 97429 times

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