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"And keep your elbows tucked in," Ron advised.
"And you, Potter, will be helping Professor Lockhart answer his fan mail," said Professor McGonagall.
"'Night," Harry called back to Hermione, who was wearing a scowl just like Percy's.
When he had handed out the test papers he returned to the front of the class and said, "You have thirty minutes - start - now!"
Dumbledore was giving Harry a searching look. His twinkling light- blue gaze made Harry feel as though he were being X-rayed.
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.
It was as though they had been plunged into a fabulous dream. This, thought Harry, was surely the only way to travel - past swirls and turrets of snowy cloud, in a car full of hot, bright sunlight, with a fat pack of toffees in the glove compartment, and the prospect of seeing Fred's and George's jealous faces when they
Shining brightly on the walls by the light of many candles were countless framed photographs of Lockhart. He had even signed a few of them. Another large pile lay on his desk.
There was a very awkward pause.
"We'd better get him to Hagrid's, it's nearest," said Harry to Hermione, who nodded bravely, and the pair of them pulled Ron up by the arms.
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.
"Don' think he did," said Hagrid, his eyes twinkling. "An' then I told him Id never read one o' his books an' he decided ter go. Treacle fudge, Ron?" he added as Ron reappeared.
"She didn't want us showing off," said Ron sagely. "Doesn't want people to think it's clever, arriving by flying car."
The passageway leading to Nearly Headless Nick's party had been lined with candles, too, though the effect was far from cheerful: These were long, thin, jet-black tapers, all burning bright blue, casting a dim, ghostly light even over their own living faces. The temperature dropped with every step they took. As Harry shivered and drew his robes tightly around him, he heard what sounded like a thousand fingernails scraping an enormous blackboard.
They went, as quickly as they could without actually running. When they were a floor up from Lockhart's office, they turned into
"Well, I don' blame yeh fer tryin' ter curse him, Ron," said Hagrid loudly over the thuds of more slugs hitting the basin. "Bu' maybe it was a good thing yer wand backfired. 'Spect Lucius Malfoy would've come marchin' up ter school if yeh'd cursed his son. Least yer not in trouble.";
"It will be for Professor McGonagall to decide on these boys' punishments, Severus," said Dumbledore calmly. "They are in her House and are therefore her responsibility." He turned to Professor McGonagall. "I must go back to the feast, Minerva, I've got to give out a few notices. Come, Severus, there's a delicious-looking cus tard tart I want to sample -" Snape shot a look of pure venom at Harry and Ron as he allowed himself to be swept out of his office, leaving them alone with Pro fessor McGonagall, who was still eyeing them like a wrathful eagle. "You'd better get along to the hospital wing, Weasley, you're bleeding." "Not much," said Ron, hastily wiping the cut over his eye with his sleeve. "Professor, I wanted to watch my sister being Sorted -" "The Sorting Ceremony is over," said Professor McGonagall. "Your sister is also in Gryffindor." "Oh, good," said Ron. "And speaking of Gryffindor -" Professor McGonagall said sharply, but Harry cut in: "Professor, when we took the car, term hadn't started, so - so Gryffindor shouldn't really have points taken from it - should it?" he finished, watching her anxiously. Professor McGonagall gave him a piercing look, but he was sure she had almost smiled. Her mouth looked less thin, anyway. "I will not take any points from Gryffindor," she said, and Harry's heart lightened considerably. "But you will both get a de tention." It was better than Harry had expected. As for Dumbledore's writing to the Dursleys, that was nothing. Harry knew perfectly well they'd just be disappointed that the Whomping Willow hadn't squashed him flat.。
They made regular checks on the train as they flew farther and farther north, each dip beneath the clouds showing them a different view. London was soon far behind them, replaced by neat green fields that gave way in turn to wide, purplish moors, a great city alive with cars like multicolored ants, villages with tiny toy churches.。