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J.K.Rwling >> Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (page 29)


Harry lay back on his pillows while Ron bustled around the next bed, putting his things away. He felt shaken by the argument with Seamus, whom he had always liked very much. How many more people were going to suggest that he was lying, or unhinged?

Had Dumbledore suffered like this all summer, as first the Wizengamot, then the International 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 Harry miserably, as Ron got into bed and extinguished the last candle in the dormitory. But he wondered how many more attacks like Seamus's he would have to endure before that time came.

- CHAPTER TWELVE -

Professor Umbridge

Seamus dressed at top speed next morning and left the dormitory 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 schoolbag on to his shoulder, 'he's just:'

But apparently he was unable to say exactly what Seamus was, and after a slightly awkward pause followed him out of the room.

Neville and Ron both gave Harry an it's-his-problem-not-yours look, but Harry was not much consoled. How much more of this would he 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 towards breakfast. 'You look absolutely - Oh for heaven's sake.'

She was staring at the common-room noticeboard, where a large new sign had been put up.

GALLONS OF GALLEONS.' 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, which was to be 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 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 about something.'

'Seamus reckons Harry's lying about You-Know-Who,' said Ron succinctly, when Harry did not respond.

Hermione, who 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 shut about you, actually. And it would be quite nice if you stopped jumping down our throats, Harry, because in case you haven't noticed, Ron and I are 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 last end-of-term feast?'

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 Hermione, 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 already started fighting among ourselves. And the Sorting Hats warning was the same: stand together, be united -'

'And Harry got it right 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.

They followed the Ravenclaws into the Great Hall, all looking instinctively 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 ceiling above them echoed Harry's mood; it was a miserable rain-cloud grey.

'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 Hermione 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.'

'OK,' said Harry.

Angelina smiled at him and departed.

'I'd forgotten Wood had left,' said Hermione vaguely as she sat down beside Ron and pulled a plate of toast towards 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:'

'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, bringing 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 correspondent 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 for?' 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 is 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 McGonagall was now moving along the table handing out timetables.

'Look at today!' groaned Ron. 'History of Magic, double Potions,

Divination and double Defence 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 on to the bench beside Harry. 'Hogwarts prefects surely don't wish to skive off lessons?'

'Look what we've got today,' said Ron grumpily, shoving his timetable 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.'

'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 himself to a kipper.

'Cheers,' said Ron moodily, pocketing his timetable, '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 noticeboard.'

'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 Snackbox?' asked Hermione.

'Fifth year's OWL year,' said George.

'So?'

'So you've got your exams coming up, haven't you? They'll be keeping 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 OWLs,' said George happily. Tears and tantrums: Patricia Stimpson kept coming over faint:"

'Kenneth Towler came out in boils, d'you remember?' said Fred reminiscently.

That's 'cause you put Bulbadox powder in his pyjamas,' 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 care about exam results, anyway. Fred and I managed to keep our peckers up somehow.'

'Yeah: you got, what was it, three OWLs 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 OWLs,' George said hastily. 'I mean, do we really need NEWTs? 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 Hogwarts student requires from a joke shop, carefully evaluate the results of our research, then produce products to fit the demand.'

'But where are you going to get the gold to start a joke shop?' Hermione asked sceptically. '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 early we might be able to sell a few Extendable Ears before Herbology.'

Harry emerged from under the table to see Fred and George walking away, each carrying a stack of toast.

'What did that mean?' said Hermione, looking from Harry to Ron. '"Ask us no questions:" Does that mean they've already got some gold to start a joke shop?'

'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 tough? Because of the exams?'

'Oh, yeah,' said Ron. 'Bound to be, isn't it? OWLs 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 NEWTs 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 afterwards and set off towards their History of Magic classroom.

Title: Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix
Author: J.K.Rwling
Viewed 196991 times

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