>> Tuesday, February 28, 2012
"We're not stupid, you know," said Uncle Vernon.
"Well, that's news to me," said Harry, his temper rising, and before the Dursleys could call him back, he had wheeled about, crossed the front lawn, stepped over the low garden wall, and was striding off up the street.
"We don't break ranks for anything, got me? If one of us is killed--"
"Is that likely?" Harry asked apprehensively, but Moody ignored him.
"--the others keep flying, don't stop, don't break ranks. If they take out all of us and you survive, Harry, the rear guard are standing by to take over; keep flying east and they'll join you."
"Stop being so cheerful, Mad-Eye, he'll think we're not taking this seriously," said Tonks, as she strapped Harry's trunk and Hedwig's cage into a harness hanging from her broom.
"He's not a nutter, Ron--"
"His life's ambition is to have his head cut off and stuck up on a plaque just like his mother," said Ron irritably. "Is that normal, Hermione?"
"I don't know where you learned about right and wrong, Mundungus, but you seem to have missed a few crucial lessons," said Mrs. Weasley coldly.
"I was never a prefect myself," said Tonks brightly from behind Harry as everybody moved toward the table to help themselves to food. Her hair was tomato-red and waist-length today; she looked like Ginny's older sister. "My Head of House said I lacked certain necessary qualities."
"Like what?" said Ginny, who was choosing a baked potato.
"Like the ability to behave myself," said Tonks.
"Manners, Potter, or I'll have to give you a detention," drawled Malfoy, whose sleek blond hair and pointed chin were just like his father's. "You see, I, unlike you, have been made a prefect, which means that I, unlike you, have the power to hand out punishments."
"Yeah," said Harry, "but you, unlike me, are a git, so get out and leave us alone."
"And it would be quite nice if you stopped jumping down Ron's and my throats, Harry, because if you haven't noticed, we're on your side."
"Who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves?" inquired Professor Umbridge in a horribly honeyed voice.
"Hmm, let's think..." said Harry in a mock thoughtful voice, "maybe Lord Voldemort?"
"If you don't stop doing it, I'm going to--"
"Put us in detention?" said Fred in an I'd-like-to-see-you-try-it voice.
"Make us write lines?" said George, smirking. Onlookers all over the room were laughing.
Hermione drew herself up to her full height; her eyes were narrowed and her bushy hair seemed to crackle with electricity. "No," she said, her voice quivering with anger, "but I will write to your mother."
"You wouldn't," said George, horrified, taking a step back from her.
"Harry, don't go picking a row with Malfoy, don't forget, he's a prefect now, he could make life difficult for you..."
"Wow, I wonder what it'd be like to have a difficult life?" said Harry sarcastically.
"Hermione, you are honestly the most wonderful person I've ever met," said Ron weakly, "and if I'm ever rude to you again--"
"I'll know you're back to normal," said Hermione.
"Here's an idea," said Ron loudly before Harry could speak, "why don't you shut your mouth?"
"How're you feeling?" Ginny asked Ron, who was now staring into the dregs of milk at the bottom of his empty cereal bowl as though seriously considering attempting to drown himself in them.
"He's just nervous," said Harry.
"Who're you writing the novel to anyway?" Ron asked Hermione, trying to read the bit of parchment now trailing on the floor.
Hermione hitched it up out of sight. "Viktor."
"How many other Viktors do we know?"