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A lamp flickered on. It was Hermione Granger, wearing a pink bathrobe and a frown.

You! said Ron furiously. Go back to bed!

I almost told your brother, Hermione snapped, Percyhes a prefect, hed put a stop to this.

Harry couldnt believe anyone could be so interfering.

Come on, he said to Ron. He pushed open the portrait of the Fat Lady and climbed through the hole.

Hermione wasnt going to give up that easily. She followed Ron through the portrait hole, hissing at them like an angry goose.

Dont you care about Gryffindor, do you only care about yourselves, I dont want Slytherin to win the house cup, and youll lose all the points I got from Professor McGonagall for knowing about Switching Spells.

Go away.

All right, but I warned you, you just remember what I said when youre on the train home tomorrow, youre so

But what they were, they didnt find out. Hermione had turned to the portrait of the Fat Lady to get back inside and found herself facing an empty painting. The Fat Lady had gone on a nighttime visit and Hermione was locked out of Gryffindor tower.

Now what am I going to do? she asked shrilly.

Thats your problem, said Ron. Weve got to go, were going to be late.

They hadnt even reached the end of the corridor when Hermione caught up with them.

Im coming with you, she said.

You are not.

Dyou think Im going to stand out here and wait for Filch to catch me? If he finds all three of us Ill tell him the truth, that I was trying to stop you, and you can back me up.

Youve got some nerve said Ron loudly.

Shut up, both of you! said Harry sharply. I heard something.

It was a sort of snuffling.

Mrs. Norris? breathed Ron, squinting through the dark.

It wasnt Mrs. Norris. It was Neville. He was curled up on the floor, fast asleep, but jerked suddenly awake as they crept nearer.

Thank goodness you found me! Ive been out here for hours, I couldnt remember the new password to get in to bed.

Keep your voice down, Neville. The passwords Pig snout but it wont help you now, the Fat Ladys gone off somewhere.

Hows your arm? said Harry.

Fine, said Neville, showing them. Madam Pomfrey mended it in about a minute.

Goodwell, look, Neville, weve got to be somewhere, well see you later

Dont leave me! said Neville, scrambling to his feet, I dont want to stay here alone, the Bloody Barons been past twice already.

Ron looked at his watch and then glared furiously at Hermione and Neville.

If either of you get us caught, Ill never rest until Ive learned that Curse of the Bogies Quirrell told us about, and used it on you.

Hermione opened her mouth, perhaps to tell Ron exactly how to use the Curse of the Bogies, but Harry hissed at her to be quiet and beckoned them all forward.

They flitted along corridors striped with bars of moonlight from the high windows. At every turn Harry expected to run into Filch or Mrs. Norris, but they were lucky. They sped up a staircase to the third floor and tiptoed toward the trophy room.

Malfoy and Crabbe werent there yet. The crystal trophy cases glimmered where the moonlight caught them. Cups, shields, plates, and statues winked silver and gold in the darkness. They edged along the walls, keeping their eyes on the doors at either end of the room. Harry took out his wand in case Malfoy leapt in and started at once. The minutes crept by.

Hes late, maybe hes chickened out, Ron whispered.


:

  1. A blank silence greeted Hermiones words. She looked around at all the faces upturned to her, rather disconcerted.
  2. A few of the centaurs looked worried now. Hermione, however, gave a gasp.
  3. A few sparks shot out of the end of his wand, which was still pointed at Blacks face. Hermione fell silent.
  4. A loud rattling noise behind them announced Hermiones reappearance with the box of S.P.E.W. badges.
  5. A motherly-looking Healer wearing a tinsel wreath in her hair came bustling up the corridor, smiling warmly at Harry and the others.
  6. A paralyzing terror filled Harry so that he couldnt move or speak. His Patronus flickered and died.
  7. A seam had split on Hermiones bag. Harry wasnt surprised; he could see that it was crammed with at least a dozen large and heavy books.
  8. A young witch with short blonde hair poked her head around the curtain; Harry saw that she too was wearing magenta staff robes.
  9. All usual pursuits were abandoned in the Gryffindor common room the night before the match. Even Hermione had put down her books.
  10. Almost against his will he glanced from Ron to Hermione, both of whom looked devastated.
  11. An odd, dreamy expression suddenly came over Hermiones face. She slowly raised a hand and ran her fingers through her hair.




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Fred and George had hardly disappeared when someone far less welcome turned up: Malfoy, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle. | Then a noise in the next room made them jump. Harry had only just raised his wand when they heard someone speak and it wasnt Malfoy.

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