But over in the neighboring roan of Great Hangelton, in the dark and dingy police station, Frank was stubbornly repeating, again and again, that he was innocent, and that the only person he had seen near the house on the day of the Riddle’s death had been a teenage boy, a stranger, dark-haired and pale. Nobody else in the village gad seen any such boy, and the police were quite sure that Frank had invented him.
“Well…’bye then,” Harry said to the Durselys.
They didn’t say anything at all. Harry moved toward the fire, but just as he reached the edge of the hearth, Mr. Weasley put out a hand and held him back. He was looking at the Dursleys in amazement.
“Harry said good-bye to you,” he said. “Didn’t you hear him?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Harry muttered to Mr. Weasley. “Honestly, I don’t care.”
Mr. Weasley did not remove his hand from Harry’s shoulder.
“You aren’t going to see your nephew until next summer,” he said to Uncle Vernon in mild indignation. “Surely you’re going to say good-bye?”
“That’ll change the world, that report will,” said Ron. “Front page of the Daily Prophet, I expect, cauldron leaks.”
“I’m never wearing them,” Ron was saying stubbornly. “Never.”
“Fine,” snapped Mrs. Weasley. “Go naked. And, Harry, make sure you get a picture of him. Goodness knows I could do with a laugh.”
“Saturn dear, the planet Saturn!” said Professor Trelawney, sounding definitely irritated that he wasn’t riveted by this news. “I was saying that Saturn was surely in a position of power in the heavens at the moment of your birth… your dark hair… your mean stature… tragic losses so young in your life… I think I am right in saying, my dear, that you were born in midwinter?”
“No,” said Harry. “I was born in July.”
Ron hastily turned his laugh into a hacking cough.
“Don’t talk to me,” Ron said quietly to Harry and Hermione as they sat down at the Gryffindor table a few minutes later, surrounded by excited talk on all sides about what had just happened.
“Why not?” said Hermione in surprise.
“Because I want to fix that in my memory forever,” said Ron, his eyes closed and an uplifted expression on his face.” Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret…”
Harry and Hermione both laughed, and Hermione began doling beef casserole onto their plates.
“He could have really hurt Malfoy though,” she said. “It was good, really, that Professor McGonagall stopped it-“
“Hermione!” said Ron furiously, his eyes snapping open again, “you’re ruining the best moment of my life!”
“No nice,” he said calmly. “Not pleasant. And there’s no countercurse. There’s no blocking it. Only one known person has even survived it, and he’s sitting right in front of me.”
“You all right, Neville?” Harry asked him.
“Oh yes,” said Neville. “I’m fine, thanks. Just reading this book Professor Moody lent me…”
He held up the book: Magical Water Plants of the Mediterranean.
“‘Spew’?” said Harry, picking up a badge and looking at it. “What’s this about?”
“Not spew,” said Hermione impatiently. “It’s S-P-E-W. Stands for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.”
“He’s not an idiot. You just don’t like him because he beat Gryffindor at Quidditch,” said Hermione. “I’ve heard he’s a really good student- and he’s a prefect.”
She spoke as though this settled the matter.
“You only like him because he’s handsome,” said Ron scathingly.
“Excuse me, I don’t like people just because they’re handsome!” said Hermione indignantly.
Ron gave a loud false cough, which sounded oddly like “Lockhart!”
What’s that?” said Ron, pointing at a large dish of some sort of shellfish stew that stood beside a large steak-and-kidney pudding.
“Bouillabaisse,” said Hermione.
“Bless you,” said Ron.
“Harry’s got a long way to go before he finishes the tournament,” she said seriously. “If that was the first task, I hate to think what’s coming next.”
“Right little ray of sunshine, aren’t you?” said Ron. “You and Professor Trelawney should get together sometime.”
“Potter, the champions and their partners-“
“What partners?” said Harry.
Professor McGonagall looked suspiciously at him, as though she thought he was trying to be funny.
“Your dance partners for the Yule Ball, Potter,” she said coldly. “Your dance partners.”
Harry’s insides seemed to curl up and shrivel.
“Dance partners?” He felt himself going red. “I don’t dance,” he said quickly.
“Oh yes, you do,” said Professor mcGonagall irritably. “That’s what I’m telling you. Traditionally, the champions and their partners open the ball.”
Harry had a sudden mental image of himself in a top hat and tails, accompanied by a girl in the sort of frilly dress Aunt Petunia always wore to Uncle Vernon’s work parties.
“I’m not dancing.”
The words came out before Harry had quit got his tongue around them.
“Sorry?” said Cho.
“Hermione- who are you going to the ball with?” said Ron.
He kept springing the question on her, hoping to startle her into response by asking it when she least expected it. However, Hermione merely frowned and said, “I’m not telling you, you’ll just make fun of me.”
“You’re joking Weasley!” said Malfoy, behind them. “You’re not telling me someone’s asked that to the ball? Not the long-molared Mudblood?”
Harry and Ron both whipped around, but Hermione said loudly, waving to somebody over Malfoy’s shoulder, “Hello, Professor Moody!”
Malfoy went pale and jumped backward, looking wildly around for Moody, but he was still up at the staff table, finishing his stew.
“Twitchy little ferret, aren’t you, Malfoy?” said Hermione scathingly, and she, Harry, and Ton went up the marble staircase laughing heartily.
“Oh I would never dream of assuming I know all Hogwarts’ secrets, Igor,” said Dumbledore amicably. “Only this morning, for instance, I took a wrong turning on the way to the bathroom and found myself in a beautifully proportioned room I have never seen before, containing a really rather magnificent collection of chamber pots. When I went back to investigate more closely, I discovered the room had vanished. But I must keep and eye out for it. Possibly it is only accessible at five-thirty in the morning. Or it may only appear at the quarter moon- or when the seeker has an exceptionally full bladder.”
“Dobby knows, sir! Harry Potter has to go into the lake and find his Wheezy-“
“Find my what?”
“-and take his Wheezy back from the merpeople!”
“What’s a Wheezy?”
“Your Wheezy, sir, your Wheezy- Wheezy who is giving Dobby his sweater!”
“What’re you doing here?” said Ron and Fred at the same time.
“Sending a letter,” said Harry and George in unison.
“What, at this time?” said Hermione and Fred.
“So they’re dead?” said Harry quietly?
“No,” said Dumbledore, his voice full of a bitterness Harry had never heard there before. “They are insane. They are both in St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. I believe Neville visits them, with his grandmother, during the holidays. They do not recognize him.”
“What are you doing?” yelled Cedric’s voice. “What the hell d’you think you’re doing?”
And then Harry heard Krum’s voice.
At that moment, Harry finally understood for the first time why people said Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort had ever feared. The look upon Dumbledore’s face as he stared down at the unconscious form of Mad-Eye Moody was more terrible than Harry could have ever imagined. There was no benign smile upon Dumbledore’s face, no twinkle in the eyes behind the spectacles. There was cold fury in every line of the ancient face; a sense of power radiated from Dumbledore as though he were giving off burning heat.
“Priori Incantatem,” he muttered.
His eyes gazed into Harry’s and it was almost as though an invisible beam of understanding shot between them.
“The Reverse Spell effect?” said Sirius sharply.
“Exactly,” said Dumbledore. “Harry’s wand and Voldemort’s wand share cores. Each of them contains a feather from the tail of the same phoenix. This phoenix, in fact,” he added, and he pointed to the scarlet-and-gold bird, perched peacefully on Harry’s knee.
“My wand’s feather came from Fawkes?” Harry said, amazed.
“Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy that was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the patch of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”
“Take it,” Harry repeated firmly. “I don’t want it.”
“You’re mental,” said George, trying to push it back at Harry.
“No, I’m not,” said Harry. “You take it, and get inventing. It’s for the joke shop.”
“He is mental,” said Fred, in an almost awed voice.
“Listen,” Harry said firmly. “If you don’t take it, I’m throwing it down the drain. I don’t want it and I don’t need it. But I could do with a few laughs. We could all do with a few laughs. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to need them more than usual before long.”