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"Quick, behind here," Harry hissed, dragging Ron behind a nearby bush. Hermione followed, somewhat reluctantly.
"Well, we'll manage," said Mrs. Weasley, but she looked worried. "I expect we'll be able to pick up a lot of Ginny's things secondhand."
Mr. Weasley flushed darker than either Ron or Ginny.
"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?"
It was Draco Malfoy. He had pushed to the front of the crowd, his cold eyes alive, his usually bloodless face flushed, as he grinned at the sight of the hanging, immobile cat.
"Harry," said Lockhart, his large white teeth gleaming in the sunlight as he shook his head. "Harry, Harry, Harry."
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.
So at seven o'clock, Harry, Ron, and Hermione walked straight past the doorway to the packed Great Hall, which was glittering invitingly with gold plates and candles, and directed their steps instead toward the dungeons.
Moaning Myrtle burst into anguished sobs and fled from the dungeon.
As the whole class held its breath, Lockhart whipped off the cover.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione left the castle together, crossed the vegetable patch, and made for the greenhouses, where the magical plants were kept. At least the Howler had done one good thing: Hermione seemed to think they had now been punished enough and was being perfectly friendly again.
"Can you believe him?" roared Ron as one of the remaining pixies bit him painfully on the ear.
Hagrid was wading toward them through the sea of books. In an instant he had pulled Mr. Weasley and Mr. Malfoy apart. Mr. Weasley had a cut lip and Mr. Malfoy had been hit in the eye by an Encyclopedia of Toadstools. He was still holding Ginny's old Transfiguration book. He thrust it at her, his eyes glittering with malice.
he end of the summer vacation came too quickly for Harry's liking. He was looking forward to getting back to Hogwarts, but his month at the Burrow had been the happiest of his life. It was difficult not to feel jealous of Ron when he thought of the Dursleys and the sort of welcome he could expect next time he turned up on Privet Drive.
"Silence!" said Snape coldly. "What have you done with the car?" Ron gulped. This wasn't the first time Snape had given Harry the impression of being able to read minds. But a moment later, he un derstood, as Snape unrolled today's issue of the Evening Prophet. "You were seen," he hissed, showing them the headline: FLY ING FORD ANGLIA MYSTIFIES MUGGLES. He began to read aloud: "Two Muggles in London, convinced they saw an old car flying over the Post Office tower ... at noon in Norfolk, Mrs. Hetty Bayliss, while hanging out her washing ... Mr. Angus Fleet, of Peebles, reported to police ... Six or seven Muggles in all. I be lieve your father works in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office?" he said, looking up at Ron and smiling still more nastily. "Dear, dear ... his own son. . . " Harry felt as though he'd just been walloped in the stomach by one of the mad tree's larger branches. If anyone found out Mr. Weasley had bewitched the car ... he hadn't thought of that .... "I noticed, in my search of the park, that considerable damage seems to have been done to a very valuable Whomping Willow," Snape went on. "That tree did more damage to us than we -" Ron blurted out. "Silence!" snapped Snape again. "Most unfortunately, you are not in my House and the decision to expel you does not rest with me. I shall go and fetch the people who do have that happy power. You will wait here." Harry and Ron stared at each other, white-faced. Harry didn't feel hungry any more. He now felt extremely sick. He tried not to look at a large, slimy something suspended in green liquid on a,