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"And keep your elbows tucked in," Ron advised.
"No, I'm not," said Harry angrily, his fists clenching. "Shut up, Malfoy."
"I'll take Ginny and you two come right after us," Mrs. Weasley told Harry and Ron, grabbing Ginny's hand and setting off. In the blink of an eye they were gone.
"Well, I've bin givin' them - you know - a bit o' help -"
They backed toward the door, nodding and beaming at anyone who looked at them, and a minute later were hurrying back up the passageway full of black candles.
"Can you believe our luck?" said Ron miserably, bending down to pick up Scabbers. "Of all the trees we could've hit, we had to get one that hits back."
He glanced over his shoulder at the ancient tree, which was still flailing its branches threateningly.
"She haunts a toilet?"
A clock chimed somewhere.
"What're we doing, Professor?" said Ron, nervously suppressing a burp.
"He'll be fine, Molly, don't fuss," said Mr. Weasley, helping himself to Floo powder, too.
"I hope my son will amount to more than a thief or a plunderer, Borgin," said Mr. Malfoy coldly, and Mr. Borgin said quickly, "No offense, sir, no offense meant -"
"Oliver," Harry croaked. "It's the crack of dawn."
"In!" he said, opening a door halfway down the cold passageway and pointing.
"It will be for Professor McGonagall to decide on these boys' punishments, Severus," said Dumbledore calmly. "They are in her House and are therefore her responsibility." He turned to Professor McGonagall. "I must go back to the feast, Minerva, I've got to give out a few notices. Come, Severus, there's a delicious-looking cus tard tart I want to sample -" Snape shot a look of pure venom at Harry and Ron as he allowed himself to be swept out of his office, leaving them alone with Pro fessor McGonagall, who was still eyeing them like a wrathful eagle. "You'd better get along to the hospital wing, Weasley, you're bleeding." "Not much," said Ron, hastily wiping the cut over his eye with his sleeve. "Professor, I wanted to watch my sister being Sorted -" "The Sorting Ceremony is over," said Professor McGonagall. "Your sister is also in Gryffindor." "Oh, good," said Ron. "And speaking of Gryffindor -" Professor McGonagall said sharply, but Harry cut in: "Professor, when we took the car, term hadn't started, so - so Gryffindor shouldn't really have points taken from it - should it?" he finished, watching her anxiously. Professor McGonagall gave him a piercing look, but he was sure she had almost smiled. Her mouth looked less thin, anyway. "I will not take any points from Gryffindor," she said, and Harry's heart lightened considerably. "But you will both get a de tention." It was better than Harry had expected. As for Dumbledore's writing to the Dursleys, that was nothing. Harry knew perfectly well they'd just be disappointed that the Whomping Willow hadn't squashed him flat.
"Careful not to walk through anyone," said Ron nervously, and they set off around the edge of the dance floor. They passed a group of gloomy nuns, a ragged man wearing chains, and the Fat Friar, a cheerful Hufflepuff ghost, who was talking to a knight with an arrow sticking out of his forehead. Harry wasn't surprised to see that the Bloody Baron, a gaunt, staring Slytherin ghost covered in silver bloodstains, was being given a wide berth by the other ghosts.,
On their last evening, Mrs. Weasley conjured up a sumptuous dinner that included all of Harry's favorite things, ending with a mouthwatering treacle pudding. Fred and George rounded off the evening with a display of Filibuster fireworks; they fiIled the kitchen with red and blue stars that bounced from ceiling to wall for at least half an hour. Then it was time for a last mug of hot chocolate and bed.？