>> Tuesday, January 24, 2012
"We didn't give it to him because he's a Muggle!" said Fred indignantly.
"No, we gave it to him because he's a great bullying git," said George. "Isn't he, Harry?"
"Yeah, he is, Mr. Weasley," said Harry earnestly.
"That's not the point!" raged Mr. Weasley.
"House-elves is not supposed to have fun, Harry Potter," said Winky, firmly. "House-elves does what they is told."
Harry saw that they didn't look remotely beautiful now. On the contrary, their faces were elongating into sharp, cruel-beaked bird heads, and long, scaly wings were bursting from their shoulders--
"And that, boys," yelled Mr. Weasley over the tumult of the crowd below, "is why you should never go for looks alone!"
"He didn't care how frightened she'd been, or how upset she was--it was like she wasn't even human!"
"Well, she's not," said Ron.
"Do us a favor, Perce," said Bill, yawning, "and shut up."
"Your father thinks very highly of Mad-Eye Moody," said Mrs. Weasley sternly.
"Yeah, well, Dad collects plugs, doesn't he?" said Fred quietly as Mrs. Weasley left the room. "Birds of a feather..."
"You're JOKING!" said Fred Weasley loudly. The tension that had filled the Hall ever since Moody's arrival suddenly broke.
Nearly everyone laughed, and Dumbledore chuckled appreciatively. "I am not joking, Mr. Weasley," he said, "though now that you mention it, I did hear an excellent one over the summer about a troll, a hag, and a leprechaun who all go into a bar..."
Professor McGonagall cleared her throat loudly.
"Er--but maybe this is not the time...no..." said Dumbledore, "where was I?"
"People have died, though!" said Hermione in a worried voice as they walked through a door concealed behind a tapestry and started up another, narrower staircase.
"Yeah," said Fred airily, "but that was years ago, wasn't it? Anyway, where's the fun without a bit of risk?"
"What-what are you doing?" said Professor McGonagall, her eyes following the bouncing ferret's progress through the air.
"Teaching," said Moody.
"Teach-Moody, is that a student?"
"Yep," said Moody.
"No!" cried Professor McGonagall, running down the stairs and pulling out her wand; a moment later, with a loud snapping noise, Draco Malfoy had reappeared, lying in a heap on the floor with his sleek blond hair all over his now brilliantly pink face. He got to his feet, wincing.
"Moody, we never use Transfiguration as a punishment!" said professor McGonagall weakly. "Surely Professor Dumbledore told you that?"
"He might've mentioned it, yeah," said Moody, scratching his chin unconcernedly, "but I thought a good sharp shock-"
"We give detentions, Moody!"
"Yeh'll do wha' yer told," he growled, "or I'll be takin' a leaf outta Professor Moody's book...I hear yeh made a good ferret, Malfoy."
The Gryffindors roared with laughter. Malfoy flushed with anger, but apparently the memory of Moody's punishment was still sufficiently painful to stop him from retorting. Harry, Ron, and Hermione returned to the castle at the end of the lesson in high spirits; seeing Hagrid put down Malfoy was particularly satisfying, especially because Malfoy had done his very best to get Hagrid sacked the previous year.
"You!" he said, staring at Moody as though unsure he was really seeing him.
"Me," said Moody grimly. "And unless you've got anything to say to Potter, Karkaroff, you might want to move. You're blocking the doorway."
"I'm not stupid, you know."
"You're doing a really good impression of it," Harry snapped.
"Jus' thought she'd like ter see 'em," shrugged Hagrid, still gazing, enraptured, at the dragons.
"Really romantic date, Hagrid," said Charlie, shaking his head.
Harry knew Ron was about to apologize and suddenly he found he didn't need to hear it. "It's okay," he said, before Ron could get the words out. "Forget it."
"No," said Ron, "I shouldn't've-"
"Forget it," Harry said. Ron grinned nervously at him, and Harry grinned back.
Hermione burst into tears.
"There's nothing to cry about!" Harry told her, bewildered.
"You two are so stupid!" she shouted, stamping her foot on the ground, tears splashing down her front. Then, before either of them could stop her, she had given both of them a hug and dashed away, now positively howling.
"Barking mad," said Ron, shaking his head.