Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница

Why wasn't he waiting outside Fudge's office if they've got business to do together?' Harry burst out furiously. What was he doing down here?'

'Trying to sneak down to the courtroom, if you ask me,' said Mr Weasley, looking extremely agitated and glancing over his shoulder as though making sure they could not be overheard. Trying

One or two of the wizards nodded to Harry as they passed and a few, including Madam Bones, said, 'Morning, Arthur,' to Mr Weasley, but most averted their eyes. Cornelius Fudge and the toadlike witch were almost the last to leave the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница dungeon. Fudge acted as though Mr Weasley and Harry were part of the wall, but again, the witch looked almost appraisingly at Harry as she passed. Last of all to pass was Percy. Like Fudge, he completely ignored his father and Harry; he marched past clutching a large roll of parchment and a handful of spare quills, his back rigid and his nose in the air. The lines around Mr Weasley's mouth tightened slightly, but other than this he gave no sign that he had seen his third son.

'I'm going to take you straight back Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница so you can tell the others the good news,' he said, beckoning Harry forwards as Percy's heels disappeared up the steps to Level Nine. I'll drop you off on the way to that toilet in Bethnal Green. Come on..."

'So, what will you have to do about the toilet?' Harry asked, grinning. Everything suddenly seemed five times funnier than usual. It was starting to sink in: he was cleared, he was going back to Hogwarts.

'Oh, it's a simple enough anti-jinx,' said Mr Weasley as they mounted the stairs, 'but it's not so much having Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница to repair the damage, it's more the attitude behind the vandalism, Harry. Muggle-baiting might strike some wizards as funny, but it's an expression of something much deeper and nastier, and I for one -'

Mr Weasley broke off in mid-sentence. They had just reached the ninth-level corridor and Cornelius Fudge was standing a few feet away from them, talking quietly to a tall man with sleek blond hair and a pointed, pale face.

The second man turned at the sound of their footsteps. He, too, broke off in mid-conversation, his cold grey eyes narrowed and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница fixed upon Harry's face.

'Well, well, well... Patronus Potter,' said Lucius Malfoy coolly.

Harry felt winded, as though he had just walked into something solid. He had last seen those cold grey eyes through slits in a Death Eaters hood, and last heard that man's voice jeering in a dark graveyard while Lord Voldemort tortured him. Harry could not believe that Lucius Malfoy dared look him in the face; he could not believe that he was here, in the Ministry of Magic, or that Cornelius Fudge was talking to him, when Harry had told Fudge Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница mere weeks ago that Malfoy was a Death Eater.

The Minister was just telling me about your lucky escape, Potter,' drawled Mr Malfoy. 'Quite astonishing, the way you continue to wriggle out of very tight holes... snakelike, in fact.'

Mr Weasley gripped Harry's shoulder in warning.

'Yeah,' said Harry, 'yeah, I'm good at escaping.'

Lucius Malfoy raised his eyes to Mr Weasley's face.

'And Arthur Weasley too! What are you doing here, Arthur?'

'I work here,' said Mr Weasley curtly.

'Not here, surely?' said Mr Malfoy, raising his eyebrows and glancing towards the door over Mr Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница Weasley's shoulder. 'I thought you were up on the second floor... don't you do something that involves sneaking Muggle artefacts home and bewitching them?'

'No,' Mr Weasley snapped, his fingers now biting into Harry's shoulder.

'What are you doing here, anyway?' Harry asked Lucius Malfoy.

'I don't think private matters between myself and the Minister are any concern of yours, Potter,' said Malfoy, smoothing the front of his robes. Harry distinctly heard the gentle clinking of what sounded like a full pocket of gold. 'Really, just because you are Dumbledore's favourite boy, you must not expect Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница the same indulgence from the rest of us... shall we go up to your office, then, Minister?'

'Certainly' said Fudge, turning his back on Harry and Mr Weasley. This way, Lucius.'

They strode off together, talking in low voices. Mr Weasley did not let go of Harry's shoulder until they had disappeared into the lift.



'Why wasn't he waiting outside Fudge's office if they've got business to do together?' Harry burst out furiously. 'What was he doing down here?'

'Trying to sneak down to the courtroom, if you ask me,' said Mr Weasley Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница, looking extremely agitated and glancing over his shoulder as though making sure they could not be overheard. Trying to find out whether you'd been expelled or not. I'll leave a note for Dumbledore when I drop you off, he ought to know Malfoy's been talking to Fudge again.'

'What private business have they got together, anyway?'

'Gold, I expect,' said Mr Weasley angrily. 'Malfoy's been giving generously to all sorts of things for years... gets him in with the right people... then he can ask favours... delay laws he doesn't want passed... oh, he's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница very well-connected, Lucius Malfoy.'

The lift arrived; it was empty except for a flock of memos that flapped around Mr Weasley's head as he pressed the button for the Atrium and the doors clanged shut. He waved them away irritably.

'Mr Weasley' said Harry slowly, 'if Fudge is meeting Death Eaters like Malfoy, if he's seeing them alone, how do we know they haven't put the Imperius Curse on him?'

'Don't think it hasn't occurred to us, Harry' said Mr Weasley quietly. 'But Dumbledore thinks Fudge is acting of his own accord at the moment Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница - which, as Dumbledore says, is not a lot of comfort. Best not talk about it any more just now, Harry.'

The doors slid open and they stepped out into the now almost-deserted Atrium. Eric the watchwizard was hidden behind his Daily Prophet again. They had walked straight past the golden fountain before Harry remembered.

'Wait...' he told Mr Weasley, and, pulling his moneybag from his pocket, he turned back to the fountain.

He looked up into the handsome wizard's face, but close-to Harry thought he looked rather weak and foolish. The witch was wearing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница a vapid smile like a beauty contestant, and from what Harry knew of goblins and centaurs, they were most unlikely to be caught staring so soppily at humans of any description. Only the house-elf's attitude of creeping servility looked convincing. With a grin at the thought of what Hermione would say if she could see the statue of the elf, Harry turned his moneybag upside-down and emptied not just ten Galleons, but the whole contents into the pool.

*

'I knew it!' yelled Ron, punching the air. 'You always get away with stuff!'

They were bound to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница clear you,' said Hermione, who had looked positively faint with anxiety when Harry had entered the kitchen and was now holding a shaking hand over her eyes, 'there was no case against you, none at all.'

'Everyone seems quite relieved, though, considering you all knew I'd get off,' said Harry, smiling.

Mrs Weasley was wiping her face on her apron, and Fred, George and Ginny were doing a kind of war dance to a chant that went: 'He got off, he got off, he got off..."

That's enough! Settle down!' shouted Mr Weasley, though he too was smiling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница. 'Listen, Sirius, Lucius Malfoy was at the Ministry -'

'What?' said Sirius sharply.

'He got off, he got off, he got off..."

'Be quiet, you three! Yes, we saw him talking to Fudge on Level Nine, then they went up to Fudge's office together. Dumbledore ought to know.'

'Absolutely,' said Sirius. 'We'll tell him, don't worry.'

'Well, I'd better get going, there's a vomiting toilet waiting for me in Bethnal Green. Molly, I'll be late, I'm covering for Tonks, but Kingsley might be dropping in for dinner -'

'He got off, he got off, he Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница got off..."

That's enough - Fred - George - Ginny!' said Mrs Weasley, as Mr Weasley left the kitchen. 'Harry, dear, come and sit down, have some lunch, you hardly ate breakfast.'

Ron and Hermione sat themselves down opposite him, looking happier than they had done since he had first arrived at Grimmauld Place, and Harry's feeling of giddy relief, which had been somewhat dented by his encounter with Lucius Malfoy, swelled again. The gloomy house seemed warmer and more welcoming all of a sudden; even Kreacher looked less ugly as he poked his snoutlike nose into the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница kitchen to investigate the source of all the noise.

'Course, once Dumbledore turned up on your side, there was no way they were going to convict you,' said Ron happily, now dishing great mounds of mashed potato on to everyone's plates.

'Yeah, he swung it for me,' said Harry. He felt it would sound highly ungrateful, not to mention childish, to say, 'I wish he'd talked to me, though. Or even looked at me.'

And as he thought this, the scar on his forehead burned so badly that he clapped his hand to it.

'What's up?' said Hermione Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница, looking alarmed.

'Scar,' Harry mumbled. 'But it's nothing... it happens all the time now...'

None of the others had noticed a thing; all of them were now helping themselves to food while gloating over Harry's narrow escape; Fred, George and Ginny were still singing. Hermione looked rather anxious, but before she could say anything, Ron had said happily, 'I bet Dumbledore turns up this evening, to celebrate with us, you know.'

'I don't think he'll be able to, Ron,' said Mrs Weasley, setting a huge plate of roast chicken down in front Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница of Harry. 'He's really very busy at the moment.'

'HE GOT OFF, HE GOT OFF, HE GOT OFF

'SHUT UP!' roared Mrs Weasley.

*

Over the next few days Harry could not help noticing that there was one person within number twelve, Grimmauld Place, who did not seem wholly overjoyed that he would be returning to Hogwarts. Sirius had put up a very good show of happiness on first hearing the news, wringing Harry's hand and beaming just like the rest of them. Soon, however, he was moodier and surlier than before, talking less to everybody, even Harry, and spending Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница increasing amounts of time shut up in his mother's room with Buckbeak.

'Don't you go feeling guilty!' said Hermione sternly, after Harry had confided some of his feelings to her and Ron while they scrubbed out a mouldy cupboard on the third floor a few days later. 'You belong at Hogwarts and Sirius knows it. Personally, I think he's being selfish.'

That's a bit harsh, Hermione,' said Ron, frowning as he attempted to prise off a bit of mould that had attached itself firmly to his finger, 'you wouldn't want to be stuck Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница inside this house without any company.'

'He'll have company!' said Hermione. 'It's Headquarters to the Order of the Phoenix, isn't it? He just got his hopes up that Harry would be coming to live here with him.'

don't think that's true/ said Harry, wringing out his cloth. 'He wouldn't give me a straight answer when I asked him if I could.'

'He just didn't want to get his own hopes up even more,' said Hermione wisely. 'And he probably felt a bit guilty himself, because I think a part of him was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница really hoping you'd be expelled. Then you'd both be outcasts together.'

'Come off it!' said Harry and Ron together, but Hermione merely shrugged.

'Suit yourselves. But I sometimes think Ron's mum's right and Sirius gets confused about whether you're you or your father, Harry.'

'So you think he's touched in the head?' said Harry heatedly.

'No, I just think he's been very lonely for a long time,' said Hermione simply.

At this point, Mrs Weasley entered the bedroom behind them.

'Still not finished?' she said, poking her head into the cupboard.

'I Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница thought you might be here to tell us to have a break!' said Ron bitterly. 'D'you know how much mould we've got rid of since we arrived here?'

'You were so keen to help the Order,' said Mrs Weasley, 'you can do your bit by making Headquarters fit to live in.'

'I feel like a house-elf,' grumbled Ron.

'Well, now you understand what dreadful lives they lead, perhaps you'll be a bit more active in SPEW!' said Hermione hopefully, as Mrs Weasley left them to it. 'You know, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to show Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница people exactly how horrible it is to clean all the time - we could do a sponsored scrub of Gryffindor common room, all proceeds to SPEW, it would raise awareness as well as funds.'

'I'll sponsor you to shut up about SPEW,' Ron muttered irritably, but only so Harry could hear him.

*

Harry found himself daydreaming about Hogwarts more and more as the end of the holidays approached; he could not wait to see Hagrid again, to play Quidditch, even to stroll across the vegetable patches to the Herbology greenhouses; it would be a treat just to leave Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница this dusty, musty house, where half of the cupboards were still bolted shut and Kreacher wheezed insults out of the shadows as you passed, though Harry was careful not to say any of this within earshot of Sirius.

The fact was that living at the Headquarters of the anti-Voldemort movement was not nearly as interesting or exciting as Harry would have expected before he'd experienced it. Though members of the Order of the Phoenix came and went regularly, sometimes staying for meals, sometimes only for a few minutes of whispered conversation, Mrs Weasley made sure that Harry Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница and the others were kept well out of earshot (whether Extendable or normal) and nobody, not even Sirius, seemed to feel that Harry needed to know anything more than he had heard on the night of his arrival.

On the very last day of the holidays Harry was sweeping up Hedwig's owl droppings from the top of the wardrobe when Ron entered their bedroom carrying a couple of envelopes.

'Booklists have arrived,' he said, throwing one of the envelopes up to Harry, who was standing on a chair. 'About time, I thought they'd forgotten, they usually come Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница much earlier than this..."

Harry swept the last of the droppings into a rubbish bag and threw the bag over Ron's head into the wastepaper basket in the corner, which swallowed it and belched loudly. He then opened his letter. It contained two pieces of parchment: one the usual reminder that term started on the first of September; the other telling him which books he would need for the coming year.

'Only two new ones,' he said, reading the list, The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5, by Miranda Goshawk, and Defensive Magical Theory, by Wilbert Slinkhard.'

Crack.

Fred Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница and George Apparated right beside Harry. He was so used to them doing this by now that he didn't even fall off his chair.

'We were just wondering who set the Slinkhard book,' said Fred conversationally.

'Because it means Dumbledore's found a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,' said George.

'And about time too,' said Fred.

'What d'you mean?' Harry asked, jumping down beside them.

'Well, we overheard Mum and Dad talking on the Extendable Ears a few weeks back,' Fred told Harry, 'and from what they were saying, Dumbledore was having real trouble finding anyone Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница to do the job this year.

'Not surprising, is it, when you look at what's happened to the last four?' said George.

'One sacked, one dead, one's memory removed and one locked in a trunk for nine months,' said Harry, counting them off on his fingers. 'Yeah, I see what you mean.'

'What's up with you, Ron?' asked Fred.

Ron did not answer. Harry looked round. Ron was standing very still with his mouth slightly open, gaping at his letter from Hogwarts.

'What's the matter?' said Fred impatiently, moving around Ron to look Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница over his shoulder at the parchment.

Fred's mouth fell open, too.

'Prefect?' he said, staring incredulously at the letter. 'Prefect?'

George leapt forwards, seized the envelope in Ron's other hand and turned it upside-down. Harry saw something scarlet and gold fall into George's palm.

'No way,' said George in a hushed voice.

There's been a mistake,' said Fred, snatching the letter out of Ron's grasp and holding it up to the light as though checking for a watermark. 'No one in their right mind would make Ron a prefect.'

The twins' heads turned in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница unison and both of them stared at Harry.

'We thought you were a cert!' said Fred, in a tone that suggested Harry had tricked them in some way.

'We thought Dumbledore was bound to pick you!' said George indignantly.

'Winning the Triwizard and everything!' said Fred.

'I suppose all the mad stuff must've counted against him,' said George to Fred.

'Yeah,' said Fred slowly. 'Yeah, you've caused too much trouble, mate. Well, at least one of you's got their priorities right.'

He strode over to Harry and clapped him on the back while giving Ron a scathing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница look.

'Prefect... ickle Ronnie the Prefect.'

'Ohh, Mum's going to be revolting,' groaned George, thrusting the prefect badge back at Ron as though it might contaminate him.

Ron, who still had not said a word, took the badge, stared at it for a moment, then held it out to Harry as though asking mutely for confirmation that it was genuine. Harry took it. A large T' was superimposed on the Gryffindor lion. He had seen a badge just like this on Percy's chest on his very first day at Hogwarts.

The door banged open Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница. Hermione came tearing into the room, her cheeks flushed and her hair flying. There was an envelope in her hand.

'Did you - did you get -?'

She spotted the badge in Harry's hand and let out a shriek.

'] knew it!' she said excitedly, brandishing her letter. 'Me too, Harry, me too!'

'No,' said Harry quickly, pushing the badge back into Ron's hand. 'It's Ron, not me.' :

'It - what?'

'Ron's prefect, not me,' Harry said.

'Ron?' said Hermione, her jaw dropping. 'But... are you sure? I mean -'

She turned red as Ron looked round at her with a defiant expression Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница on his face.

'Its my name on the letter,' he said.

'I...' said Hermione, looking thoroughly bewildered. 'I... well... wow! Well done, Ron! That's really -'

'Unexpected,' said George, nodding.

'No,' said Hermione, blushing harder than ever, 'no it's not... Ron's done loads of... he's really...'

The door behind her opened a little wider and Mrs Weasley backed into the room carrying a pile of freshly laundered robes.

'Ginny said the booklists had come at last,' she said, glancing around at all the envelopes as she made her way over to the bed and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница started sorting the robes into two piles. 'If you give them to me I'll take them over to Diagon Alley this afternoon and get your books while you're packing. Ron, I'll have to get you more pyjamas, these are at least six inches too short, I can't believe how fast you're growing... what colour would you like?'

'Get him red and gold to match his badge,' said George, smirking.

'Match his what?' said Mrs Weasley absently, rolling up a pair of maroon socks and placing them on Ron's pile.

'His badge,' said Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница Fred, with the air of getting the worst over quickly. 'His lovely shiny new prefect's badge.'

Fred's words took a moment to penetrate Mrs Weasley's preoccupation with pyjamas.

'His... but... Ron, you're not...?'

Ron held up his badge.

Mrs Weasley let out a shriek just like Hermione's.

'I don't believe it! I don't believe it! Oh, Ron, how wonderful! A prefect! That's everyone in the family!'

'What are Fred and I, next-door neighbours?' said George indignantly, as his mother pushed him aside and flung her arms around her youngest son Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница.

'Wait until your father hears! Ron, I'm so proud of you, what wonderful news, you could end up Head Boy just like Bill and Percy, it's the first step! Oh, what a thing to happen in the middle of all this worry, I'm just thrilled, oh, Ronnie -

Fred and George were both making loud retching noises behind her back but Mrs Weasley did not notice; arms tight around Ron's neck, she was kissing him all over his face, which had turned a brighter scarlet than his badge.

'Mum... don't... Mum, get a grip...' he Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница muttered, trying to push her away.

She let go of him and said breathlessly, 'Well, what will it be? We gave Percy an owl, but you've already got one, of course.'

W-what do you mean?' said Ron, looking as though he did not dare believe his ears.

'You've got to have a reward for this!' said Mrs Weasley fondly. 'How about a nice new set of dress robes?'

'We've already bought him some,' said Fred sourly, who looked as though he sincerely regretted this generosity.

'Or a new cauldron, Charlie's old one's rusting Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница through, or a new rat, you always liked Scabbers -'

'Mum,' said Ron hopefully, 'can I have a new broom?'

Mrs Weasley's face fell slightly; broomsticks were expensive.

'Not a really good one!' Ron hastened to add. 'Just -just a new one for a change..."

Mrs Weasley hesitated, then smiled.

'Of course you can... well, I'd better get going if I've got a broom to buy too. I'll see you all later... little Ronnie, a prefect! And don't forget to pack your trunks... a prefect... oh, I'm all of a dither!'

She gave Ron yet another Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница kiss on the cheek, sniffed loudly, and bustled from the room.

Fred and George exchanged looks.

'You don't mind if we don't kiss you, do you, Ron?' said Fred in a falsely anxious voice.

'We could curtsey, if you like,' said George.

'Oh, shut up,' said Ron, scowling at them.

'Or what?' said Fred, an evil grin spreading across his face. 'Going to put us in detention?'

I'd love to see him try,' sniggered George.

'He could if you don't watch out!' said Hermione angrily.

Fred and George burst out laughing, and Ron muttered, 'Drop it Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница, Hermione.'

'We're going to have to watch our step, George,' said Fred, pretending to tremble, 'with these two on our case...'

'Yeah, it looks like our law-breaking days are finally over,' said George, shaking his head.

And with another loud crack, the twins Disapparated.

Those two!' said Hermione furiously, staring up at the ceiling, through which they could now hear Fred and George roaring with laughter in the room upstairs. 'Don't pay any attention to them, Ron, they're only jealous!'

'I don't think they are,' said Ron doubtfully, also looking up at the ceiling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница. They've always said only prats become prefects... still,' he added on a happier note, 'they've never had new brooms! I wish I could go with Mum and choose... she'll never be able to afford a Nimbus, but there's the new Cleansweep out, that'd be great... yeah, I think I'll go and tell her I like the Cleansweep, just so she knows

He dashed from the room, leaving Harry and Hermione alone.

For some reason, Harry found he did not want to look at Hermione. He turned to his bed, picked up the pile Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница of clean robes Mrs Weasley had laid on it and crossed the room to his trunk.

'Harry?' said Hermione tentatively.

'Well done, Hermione,' said Harry, so heartily it did not sound like his voice at all, and, still not looking at her, 'brilliant. Prefect. Great.'

Thanks,' said Hermione. 'Erm - Harry - could I borrow Hedwig so I can tell Mum and Dad? They'll be really pleased - I mean prefect is something they can understand.'

'Yeah, no problem,' said Harry, still in the horrible hearty voice that did not belong to him. Take her!'

He leaned over his trunk, laid the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница robes on the bottom of it and pretended to be rummaging for something while Hermione crossed to the wardrobe and called Hedwig down. A few moments passed; Harry heard the door close but remained bent double, listening; the only sounds he could hear were the blank picture on the wall sniggering again and the wastepaper basket in the corner coughing up the owl droppings.

He straightened up and looked behind him. Hermione had left and Hedwig had gone. Harry hurried across the room, closed the door, then returned slowly to his bed and sank on to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница it, gazing unseeingly at the foot of the wardrobe.

He had forgotten completely about prefects being chosen in the fifth year. He had been too anxious about the possibility of being expelled to spare a thought for the fact that badges must be winging their way towards certain people. But if he had remembered... if he had thought about it... what would he have expected?

Not this, said a small and truthful voice inside his head.

Harry screwed up his face and buried it in his hands. He could not lie to himself; if he had known the prefect badge Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница was on its way, he would have expected it to come to him, not Ron. Did this make him as arrogant as Draco Malfoy? Did he think himself superior to everyone else? Did he really believe he was better than Ron?

No, said the small voice defiantly.

Was that true? Harry wondered, anxiously probing his own feelings.

I'm better at Quidditch, said the voice. But I'm not better at anything else.

That was definitely true, Harry thought; he was no better than Ron in lessons. But what about outside lessons? What about those adventures he, Ron and Hermione Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница had had together since starting at Hogwarts, often risking much worse than expulsion?

Well, Ron and Hermione were with me most of the time, said the voice in Harry's head.

Not all the time, though, Harry argued with himself. They didn't fight Quirrell with me. They didn't take on Riddle and the Basilisk. They didn't get rid of all those Dementors the night Sirius escaped. They weren't in that graveyard with me, the night Voldemort returned...

And the same feeling of ill-usage that had overwhelmed him on the night he had Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница arrived rose again. I've definitely done more, Harry thought indignantly. I've done more than either of them!

But maybe, said the small voice fairly, maybe Dumbledore doesn't choose prefects because they've got themselves into a load of dangerous situations... maybe he chooses them for other reasons... Ron must have something you don't...

Harry opened his eyes and stared through his fingers at the wardrobe's clawed feet, remembering what Fred had said: 'No one in their right mind would make Ron a prefect...'

Harry gave a small snort of laughter. A second later he Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница felt sickened with himself.

Ron had not asked Dumbledore to give him the prefect badge. This was not Ron's fault. Was he, Harry, Ron's best friend in the world, going to sulk because he didn't have a badge, laugh with the twins behind Ron's back, ruin this for Ron when, for the first time, he had beaten Harry at something?

At this point Harry heard Ron's footsteps on the stairs again. He stood up, straightened his glasses, and hitched a grin on to his face as Ron bounded back through the door.

'Just caught her!' he Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница said happily. 'She says she'll get the Cleansweep if she can.'

'Cool,' Harry said, and he was relieved to hear that his voice had stopped sounding hearty. 'Listen - Ron - well done, mate.'

The smile faded off Ron's face.

'I never thought it would be me!' he said, shaking his head. 'I thought it would be you!'

'Nah, I've caused too much trouble,' Harry said, echoing Fred.

'Yeah,' said Ron, 'yeah, I suppose... well, we'd better get our trunks packed, hadn't we?'

It was odd how widely their possessions seemed to have scattered themselves since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница they had arrived. It took them most of the afternoon to retrieve their books and belongings from all over the house and stow them back inside their school trunks. Harry noticed that Ron kept moving his prefects badge around, first placing it on his bedside table, then putting it into his jeans pocket, then taking it out and lying it on his folded robes, as though to see the effect of the red on the black. Only when Fred and George dropped in and offered to attach it to his forehead with a Permanent Sticking Charm did he Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница wrap it tenderly in his maroon socks and lock it in his trunk.

Mrs Weasley returned from Diagon Alley around six o'clock, laden with books and carrying a long package wrapped in thick brown paper that Ron took from her with a moan of longing.

'Never mind unwrapping it now, people are arriving for dinner, I want you all downstairs,' she said, but the moment she was out of sight Ron ripped off the paper in a frenzy and examined every inch of his new broom, an ecstatic expression on his face.

Down in the basement Mrs Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница Weasley had hung a scarlet banner over the heavily laden dinner table, which read:

CONGRATULATIONS

RON AND HERMIONE

NEW PREFECTS

She looked in a better mood than Harry had seen her all holiday.

'I thought we'd have a little party, not a sit-down dinner,' she told Harry, Ron, Hermione, Fred, George and Ginny as they entered the room. 'Your father and Bill are on their way, Ron. I've sent them both owls and they're thrilled,' she added, beaming.

Fred rolled his eyes.

Sirius, Lupin, Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt were already there and Mad-Eye Moody stumped in shortly Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 10 страница after Harry had got himself a Butterbeer.

'Oh, Alastor, I am glad you're here,' said Mrs Weasley brightly, as Mad-Eye shrugged off his travelling cloak. 'We've been wanting to ask you for ages - could you have a look in the writing desk in the drawing room and tell us what's inside it? We haven't wanted to open it just in case it's something really nasty.'

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