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Harry swore under his breath. He had always liked Percy least of Rons brothers, but he had never imagined he would say such things to Mr. Weasley.

Mums been in a right state, said Ron dully. You knowcrying and stuff. She came up to London to try and talk to Percy but he slammed the door in her face. I dunno what he does if he meets Dad at workignores him, Ispose.

But Percy must know Voldemorts back, said Harry slowly. Hes not stupid, he must know your mum and dad wouldnt risk everything without proof.

Yeah, well, your name got dragged into the row, said Ron, shooting Harry a furtive look. Percy said the only evidence was your word and I dunno he didnt think it was good enough.

Percy takes the Daily Prophet seriously, said Hermione tartly, and the others all nodded.

What are you talking about? Harry asked, looking around at them all. They were all regarding him warily.

Haventhavent you been getting the Daily Prophet! Hermione asked nervously.

Yeah, I have! said Harry.

Have youerbeen reading it thoroughly? Hermione asked, still more anxiously.

Not cover to cover, said Harry defensively. If they were going to report anything about Voldemort it would be headline news, wouldnt it?

The others flinched at the sound of the name. Hermione hurried on, Well, youd need to read it cover to cover to pick it up, but theyumthey mention you a couple of times a week.

But Id have seen

Not if youve only been reading the front page, you wouldnt, said Hermione, shaking her head. Im not talking about big articles. They just slip you in, like youre a standing joke.

What dyou?

Its quite nasty, actually, said Hermione in a voice of forced calm. Theyre just building on Ritas stuff.

But shes not writing for them any more, is she?

Oh, no, shes kept her promisenot that shes got any choice, Hermione added with satisfaction. But she laid the foundation for what theyre trying to do now.

Which is what? said Harry impatiently.

OK, you know she wrote that you were collapsing all over the place and saying your scar was hurting and all that?

Yeah, said Harry, who was not likely to forget Rita Skeeters stories about him in a hurry.

Well, theyre writing about you as though youre this deluded, attention-seeking person who thinks hes a great tragic hero or something, said Hermione, very fast, as though it would be less unpleasant for Harry to hear these facts quickly. They keep slipping in snide comments about you. If some far-fetched story appears, they say something like, A tale worthy of Harry Potter, and if anyone has a funny accident or anything its, Lets hope he hasnt got a scar on his forehead or well be asked to worship him next

I dont want anyone to worship Harry began hotly.

I know you dont, said Hermione quickly, looking frightened. I know, Harry. But you see what theyre doing? They want to turn you into someone nobody will believe. Fudge is behind it, Ill bet anything. They want wizards on the street to think youre just some stupid boy whos a bit of a joke, who tells ridiculous tall stories because he loves being famous and wants to keep it going.

I didnt askI didnt wantVoldemort killed my parents! Harry spluttered. I got famous because he murdered my family but couldnt kill me! Who wants to be famous for that? Dont they think Id rather itd never

We know, Harry, said Ginny earnestly.

And of course, they didnt report a word about the Dementors attacking you, said Hermione. Someones told them to keep that quiet. That shouldve been a really big story, out-of-control Dementors. They havent even reported that you broke the International Statute of Secrecy. We thought they would, it would tie in so well with this image of you as some stupid show-off. We think theyre biding their time until youre expelled, then theyre really going to go to townI mean, if youre expelled, obviously, she went on hastily. You really shouldnt be, not if they abide by their own laws, theres no case against you.

They were back on the hearing and Harry did not want to think about that. He cast around for another change of subject, but was saved the necessity of finding one by the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs.

Uh oh.


:

  1. A bundle of walking sticks was floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy took a step toward them they started throwing themselves at him.
  2. A chill that had nothing to do with the iced champagne was stealing through Harrys chest.
  3. A dark figure came bustling toward them, and Harry saw a glint of silver to the light of their wands. They had found Gryffindors sword.
  4. A fistful of tubers had hit the Cloak over Rons head; the damp green roots were suspended improbably in midair as Ron tried to shake them loose.
  5. A mixture of gratitude and shame welled up in Harry. Had Lupin forgiven him, then, for the terrible things he had said when they had last met?
  6. A motherly-looking Healer wearing a tinsel wreath in her hair came bustling up the corridor, smiling warmly at Harry and the others.
  7. A paralyzing terror filled Harry so that he couldnt move or speak. His Patronus flickered and died.
  8. 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.
  9. A vivid image of the shrieking, spitting portrait of Siriuss mother that hung in the hall of number twelve, Grimmauld Place flashed into Harrys mind. I bet there has, he said.
  10. A whistling in Harrys ear told him the Bludger had just missed him again; he turned right over and sped in the opposite direction.
  11. A young witch with short blonde hair poked her head around the curtain; Harry saw that she too was wearing magenta staff robes.
  12. A. How would you personally start job hunting? Use the phrases in the box to help you.




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<== | ==>
Harry let out a low whistle. | Fred gave the Extendable Ear a hearty tug; there was another loud crack and he and George vanished. Seconds later, Mrs. Weasley appeared in the bedroom doorway.

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