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A violently purple, triple-decker bus had appeared out of thin air in front of them, narrowly avoiding the nearest lamppost, which jumped backwards out of its way.

A thin, pimply, jug-eared youth in a purple uniform leapt down on to the pavement and said, Welcome to the

Yes, yes, we know, thank you, said Tonks swiftly. On, on, get on

And she shoved Harry forwards towards the steps, past the conductor, who goggled at Harry as he passed.

Ereits Arry!

If you shout his name I will curse you into oblivion, muttered Tonks menacingly, now shunting Ginny and Hermione forwards.

Ive always wanted to go on this thing, said Ron happily, joining Harry on board and looking around.

It had been evening the last time Harry had travelled by Knight Bus and its three decks had been full of brass bedsteads. Now, in the early morning, it was crammed with an assortment of mismatched chairs grouped haphazardly around windows. Some of these appeared to have fallen over when the bus stopped abruptly in Grimmauld Place; a few witches and wizards were still getting to their feet, grumbling, and somebodys shopping bag had slid the length of the bus: an unpleasant mixture of frogspawn, cockroaches and custard creams was scattered all over the floor.

Looks like well have to split up, said Tonks briskly, looking around for empty chairs. Fred, George and Ginny, if you just take those seats at the back Remus can stay with you.

She, Harry, Ron and Hermione proceeded up to the very top deck, where there were two unoccupied chairs at the very front of the bus and two at the back. Stan Shunpike, the conductor, followed Harry and Ron eagerly to the back. Heads turned as Harry passed and, when he sat down, he saw all the faces flick back to the front again.

As Harry and Ron handed Stan eleven Sickles each, the bus set off again, swaying ominously. It rumbled around Grimmauld Place, weaving on and off the pavement, then, with another tremendous BANG, they were all flung backwards; Rons chair toppled right over and Pigwidgeon, who had been on his lap, burst out of his cage and flew twittering wildly up to the front of the bus where he fluttered down on to Hermiones shoulder instead. Harry, who had narrowly avoided falling by seizing a candle bracket, looked out of the window: they were now speeding down what appeared to be a motorway.

Just outside Birmingham, said Stan happily, answering Harrys unasked question as Ron struggled up from the floor. You keepin well, then, Arry? I seen your name in the paper loads over the summer, but it werent never nuffink very nice. I said to Ern, I said, e didnt seem like a nutter when we met im, just goes to show, dunnit?

He handed over their tickets and continued to gaze, enthralled, at Harry. Apparently, Stan did not care how nutty somebody was, if they were famous enough to be in the paper. The Knight Bus swayed alarmingly, overtaking a line of cars on the inside. Looking towards the front of the bus, Harry saw Hermione cover her eyes with her hands, Pigwidgeon swaying happily on her shoulder.

BANG.

Chairs slid backwards again as the Knight Bus jumped from the Birmingham motorway to a quiet country lane full of hairpin bends. Hedgerows on either side of the road were leaping out of their way as they mounted the verges. From here they moved to a main street in the middle of a busy town, then to a viaduct surrounded by tall hills, then to a windswept road between high-rise flats, each time with a loud BANG.

Ive changed my mind, muttered Ron, picking himself up from the floor for the sixth time, I never want to ride on this thing again.

Listen, its Ogwarts stop after this, said Stan brightly, swaying towards them. That bossy woman up front oo got on with you, shes given us a little tip to move you up the queue. Were just gonna let Madam Marsh off first, though there was a retching sound from downstairs, followed by a horrible spattering noise shes not feeling er best.

A few minutes later, the Knight Bus screeched to a halt outside a small pub, which squeezed itself out of the way to avoid a collision. They could hear Stan ushering the unfortunate Madam Marsh out of the bus and the relieved murmurings of her fellow passengers on the second deck. The bus moved on again, gathering speed, untilBANG.

They were rolling through a snowy Hogsmeade. Harry caught a glimpse of the Hogs Head down its side street, the severed boars head sign creaking in the wintry wind. Flecks of snow hit the large window at the front of the bus. At last they rolled to a halt outside the gates to Hogwarts.

Lupin and Tonks helped them off the bus with their luggage, then got off to say goodbye. Harry glanced up at the three decks of the Knight Bus and saw all the passengers staring down at them, noses flat against the windows.

Youll be safe once youre in the grounds, said Tonks, casting a careful eye around at the deserted road. Have a good term, OK?

Look after yourselves, said Lupin, shaking hands all round and reaching Harry last. And listen he lowered his voice while the rest of them exchanged last-minute goodbyes with Tonks, Harry, I know you dont like Snape, but he is a superb Occlumens and we allSirius includedwant you to learn to protect yourself, so work hard, all right?

Yeah, all right, said Harry heavily, looking up into Lupins prematurely lined face. See you, then.

The six of them struggled up the slippery drive towards the castle, dragging their trunks. Hermione was already talking about knitting a few elf hats before bedtime. Harry glanced back when they reached the oaken front doors; the Knight Bus had already gone and he half-wished, given what was coming the following evening, that he was still on board.

* * *

Harry spent most of the next day dreading the evening. His morning double-Potions lesson did nothing to dispel his trepidation, as Snape was as unpleasant as ever. His mood was further lowered by the D.A. members constantly approaching him in the corridors between classes, asking hopefully if there would be a meeting that night.

Ill let you know in the usual way when the next one is, Harry said over and over again, but I cant do it tonight, Ive got to go toerremedial Potions.

You take remedial Potions! asked Zacharias Smith superciliously, having cornered Harry in the Entrance Hall after lunch. Good Lord, you must be terrible. Snape doesnt usually give extra lessons, does he?


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  1. A black blindfold appeared over Phineas Nigelluss clever, dark eyes, causing him to bump into the frame and shriek with pain.
  2. A bright silver light appeared right ahead of him, moving through the trees. Whatever the source, it was moving soundlessly. The light seemed simply to drift toward him.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A few sparks shot out of the end of his wand, which was still pointed at Blacks face. Hermione fell silent.
  6. A hand had appeared amongst the flames, groping as though to catch hold of something; a stubby, short-fingered hand covered in ugly old-fashioned rings.
  7. A map of Hogwarts appeared on the blank surface of the parchment. Tiny black moving dots, labelled with names, showed where various people were.
  8. A stooping man had appeared behind the counter, smoothing his greasy hair back from his face.
  9. A tinkling doorbell rang and both mistress and elf jumped.
  10. A. The adjectives below can be used to describe inventions or new ideas. Which have a positive meaning? Which have a negative meaning?
  11. A. What do you know about Tatarstan? Do the quiz and say which of the data were surprising for you?




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Sirius raised his wand. | As Smith strode away in an annoyingly buoyant fashion, Ron glared after him.

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