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"The same reason everyone else wants it," said Hermione, "to read up on the legend of the Chamber of Secrets."
On the other side of the dungeon was a long table, also covered in black velvet. They approached it eagerly but next moment had stopped in their tracks, horrified. The smell was quite disgusting. Large, rotten fish were laid on handsome silver platters; cakes, burned charcoal-black, were heaped on salvers; there was a great maggoty haggis, a slab of cheese covered in furry green mold and, in pride of place, an enormous gray cake in the shape of a tombstone, with tar-like icing forming the words, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington died 31st October, 1492 Harry watched, amazed, as a portly ghost approached the table, crouched low, and walked through it, his mouth held wide so that it passed through one of the stinking salmon.
She gave a sharp slap to a spiky, dark red plant as she spoke, making it draw in the long feelers that had been inching sneakily over her shoulder.
Harry waited until Lockhart was out of sight, then pulled Ron out of the bush and up to Hagrid's front door. They knocked urgently.
And they both pretended not to notice the whining growing louder and louder as the sky became steadily darker. Stars were blossoming in the blackness. Harry pulled his sweater back on, try ing to ignore the way the windshield wipers were now waving fee bly, as though in protest. "Not far," said Ron, more to the car than to Harry, "not far now," and he patted the dashboard nervously. When they flew back beneath the clouds a little while later, they had to squint through the darkness for a landmark they knew. "There!" Harry shouted, making Ron and Hedwig jump. "Straight ahead!" Silhouetted on the dark horizon, high on the cliff over the lake, stood the many turrets and towers of Hogwarts castle. But the car had begun to shudder and was losing speed. "Come on," Ron said cajolingly, giving the steering wheel a lit tle shake, "nearly there, come on -" The engine groaned. Narrow jets of steam were issuing from un der the hood. Harry found himself gripping the edges of his seat very hard as they flew toward the lake. The car gave a nasty wobble. Glancing out of his window, Harry saw the smooth, black, glassy surface of the water, a mile below. Ron's knuckles were white on the steering wheel. The car wobbled again. "Come on," Ron muttered. They were over the lake - the castle was right ahead - Ron put his foot down. There was a loud clunk, a splutter, and the engine died com pletely.
"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."
couldn't help feeling a bit sorry for him, though not nearly as sorry as he felt for himself If Dumbledore believed Filch, he would be expelled for sure.
"I dunno -"
"No," said Harry. "Not unless you know where we can get seven free Nimbus Two Thousand and Ones for our match against Sly -"
in Muggle shops. He had never mentioned his Gringotts bank account to the Dursleys; he didn't think their horror of anything connected with magic would stretch to a large pile of gold.
"No one asked your opinion, you fiIthy little Mudblood," he spat.
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 touslehaired, next to fourth year Alicia Spinnet, who seemed to be nodding off against the wall behind her. Her fellow Chasers, Katie
"Mr. Malfoy, what a pleasure to see you again," said Mr. Borgin in a voice as oily as his hair. "Delighted - and young Master Malfoy, too - charmed. How may I be of assistance? I must show you, just in today, and very reasonably priced -"
Professor McGonagall's classes were always hard work, but today was especially difficult. Everything Harry had learned last year seemed to have leaked out of his head during the summer. He was supposed to be turning a beetle into a button, but all he managed,
The candles burned lower and lower, making the light dance over the many moving faces of Lockhart watching him. Harry moved his aching hand over what felt like the thousandth envelope, writing out Veronica Smethley's address. It must be nearly time to leave, Harry thought miserably, please let it be nearly time...？