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Chapter Twelve: Alrister, Ivy, Trelawney

By the next morning, everybody in the whole of Hogwarts knew, or had heard a rumour, that Draco Malfoy, the "pureblood" Draco Malfoy, was a quarter veela. Ron was happy to back the story up if anybody asked, and spent all the time from when Harry woke up to entering the Great Hall ranting about what a hypocrite and a half-breed Malfoy was. He only shut up when Harry told him how much like Umbridge he sounded.

When they walked into the Great Hall for breakfast, Harry was met with his first dilemma of the day. Draco sat at a table across the hall, sitting over a bowl of cereal and fiercely ignoring the stares of the other students. Kainda was sitting on his right. At seeing Draco, Ron made a bee-line for the other side of the hall, and took a table that was as far from Malfoy was possible. Hermione went after him, trying to make him see sense at how silly he was being. Harry glanced between Draco and Kainda, and Ron. Realising that if he sat with Ron his cousin would spend the whole day commenting about how Harry had his loyalties right and what a friendless prat Malfoy was, Harry headed over to the table with Draco and Kainda, sitting next to her.

She gave him a fleeting smile, which he returned, but Draco interrupted any sort of proper greeting. He glanced up at Harry, and then back at his cereal with a sigh. "Coming to sit with the half-breed?"

"Yes," said Harry. "I am."

"What about Weasley? Doesn't he want his best little friend at his side?"

Harry decided to ignore the 'little' comment. "He probably does, but I'm coming to sit with you. You're still the Draco I knew before. I'm not going to - "

But he was cut off, as something came sailing over from one of the other tables, and next second, a rubber duck had hit Malfoy in the back of the head. The hall erupted in a babble of laughter. He snarled and grabbed his wand, whirling around, ready to jinx whoever it was, but Harry grasped him quickly under the arms and dragged him out of the hall, with Kainda coming along after them in her wheelchair.

Once the doors shut again, Draco shrugged Harry off, a very angry expression on his face. "Mudbloods," he muttered under his breath. "They'll be sorry."

"It'll all die down soon," said Kainda, reassuringly. "Just give it a few days, maybe a week, and there'll be another rumour they'll all be hanging onto. Just look at the Daily Prophet. A few weeks ago, they couldn't get enough of Harry and me, doing interviews and phone calls and everything. And now there's not a whisper about us. Trust me, Draco, this isn't going to last."

"Mm," said Draco. "What do you have first lesson?"

"Pure Arts," Harry and Kainda said together.

"And the weasel?"

"Charms," said Harry, with a slight frown.

"Good. At least that's one hour I won't have to endure him for." Draco frowned darkly, and rested against a pillar, his eyes travelling vaguely across the floor. "Weasley is going to be very, very sorry. Nobody does this to me. Nobody."

After breakfast, Draco went off towards the Runes corridor, his shoulders hunched, looking dark and angry. Ron and Hermione headed off for the Charms corridor, now talking about something other than Draco for a change, leaving Harry to take the handles of Kainda's wheelchair and walk to Pure Arts with her. Because it was a magical chair, from St Mungo's, and could glide along perfectly well on its own, she didn't technically need anybody to push her, but Harry quite liked doing it anyway. And if he was perfectly honest with himself, he didn't mind the curious glances of other people, and the girls giggling. Kainda either didn't notice them, or was doing a marvellous job of ignoring, sitting back in the wheelchair and thumbing through a diary she had open on her lap. She'd already inked in her timetable, and every now and then, Harry caught a flash of future dates, such as, "Appointment with Madam Pomfrey - bad", "Check-Up: St Mungo's possible - v bad", or "Now allowed to eat curry again - v v v good".

As they approached the Pure Arts classroom, Kainda put her diary away in her bag. "Wonder what we're doing today," she said, idly.

"What happened yesterday?" Harry asked.

"He told us what we'll be doing all year," she said. "And grumbled a lot about the awkward timetable, teaching some people some days and other people other days. Said he was going to just set up a "go with the flow" system and decide on his feet."

"Fine with me," said Harry, with a little smile. "I love Pure Arts anyway."

"Any good at it?" she asked.

"Fairly," he replied, quite modestly. "Nothing like Alrister."

"Well, he's got magic bubbling out of his ears, hasn't he?" she said. "Last year we walked in one day and he was morphing the furniture into statues, said he was bored."

Harry laughed. The class was all clustered outside the classroom door, talking eagerly amongst themselves. As Harry and Kainda joined the crowd, Neville came towards them, smiling.

"Hiya guys!" he said, brightly. "I'm glad you're here, there's nobody else I know. Were you in the lesson yesterday? Everybody says he was talking about NEWTs..."

"Yeah, he was," said Kainda. "It wasn't anything frightening though. It sounds quite fun actually. He'll probably be explaining it again today."

At that moment, the door swung open by itself. The whole class filed in, with Harry, Kainda and Neville at the back. Harry was just wondering where he and Kainda were going to sit, when there was a bang from behind him, a shout and then a surprised yelp. He wheeled around, instantly reaching for his wand, but to his surprise, found Alrister standing next to the door, apparently where he'd been hiding. Neville stood with his back to Alrister, and from what Harry could see, the professor had poked Neville in the back with a large stick like a billiard cue.

"Right, Mr Longbottom, you're now dead, so kindly sit at one of the red desks, please," he said, brightly. "Everybody else, you're still alive. Well done."

They all stared at him in alarm. Neville looked as though he really was about to die. Alrister came forward from the shadows, holding his billiard cue in both hands. They inched away just in case he was thinking of doing any more poking.

"This year," he announced, "we have two things to do. One is to prepare for your NEWT exam, and the other is to prepare you for the real world. Approximately half the year, I will be hitting, poking, prodding and beating you all with this large stick. Your task is to stop me, using Pure Arts. Mr Longbottom, who clearly was not looking and expecting an enemy, is now dead. Red desk, Longbottom."

Neville, with a rather wild look at Alrister, shuffled over and sat down glumly at one of the red desks at the far side of the classroom. Alrister, still holding his stick, marched to the front of the class and faced them all, smiling, as though getting ambushed by the professor was normal practice in all classes. Nobody moved, clearly still rather stunned. Alrister picked up the stick, reached out, and gave one of the Slytherins a short poke in the chest.

"Dead. Red desk," he said, cheerily. "Now, that was for not being alert and not acting quick enough. Everybody else sit down, don't take anything out."

They all scurried to desks and sat down. Harry had the feeling this was going to be a rather odd lesson, though it was definitely the most interesting way he'd started a day at Hogwarts yet. Alrister strolled between them all, holding his stick. As he passed a group of Ravenclaw girls, they all just sat staring forwards, plainly un-nerved, and two were prodded in the shoulders.

"Dead. Not catching on yet, are we? Go on, red desks. That's for not daring to fight. The next person who ends up dead will have to sit upside down in their chair, for being dense as well as not quick enough."

Harry turned around to glance at Alrister, just in time to see the Pure Arts master grip the stick and move at him. Harry instinctively swiped at it, and though his hand made no contact, there was a cracking noise and the stick veered off course.

"There we go, I knew there was at least one brain in this class," said Alrister, smiling, and walking to the front of the class again. "Five points, Harry. Everybody get the jist yet? This is a completely random test, and I could strike at any time. You all have to learn that attacks come at any time, and the best way to deal with them is to learn and practice Pure Arts. Yes? Now, those four people over there are all dead, if I was actually trying to kill you. So everybody else has my permission to point and laugh at them, should the urge strike you to. Now, to start the actual lesson."

He hung the long stick on a hook next to the bored. Once it was out of harm's way, the class collectively gave a silent sigh of relief. Kainda was smiling bemusedly next to Harry. Alrister sat down at his desk, putting his boots up on the wood and snapping his fingers. The register hopped neatly into his lap and opened.

"Anybody missing?" he asked, glancing up. "If you're not here, please raise a hand... nobody? Good." He clicked his fingers again, the register filled with ticks, and then bounced back onto the desk, lying still. "Now then, some of you will have been rather surprised by the start of today."

Rather surprised didn't quite cover it. Neville was still looking around at everybody with a look of helpless alarm on his face. Alrister didn't notice.

"Though as I said, one of the topics I will be teaching you is defence against unexpected attackers, and how to fend them off on the spot. However, that will be random, odd snippets that you will learn yourself by trial and error. Our main work this year will be your NEWT exam, which takes place towards the end of the year, and preparation will take up every single lesson we have. The exam for Pure Arts is the oddest one to take, and can be the easiest or the hardest, depending on your preparation and your desire to do well. You have one task to perform during the exam - to impress your examiner." He smiled, standing up, and looking around at them all, palms flat on the desk before him. The candle-light glittered off the gold trim on his copper-coloured tunic. "For your exam, you will walk into this very room here, and sitting at my desk will be your ordinary common or garden wizard. The examiner will not have been taught a shred of Pure Arts. Your job is to impress them as much as you can. The more impressed they are, the higher your grade."

A hand went up.

"Yes?" said Alrister, giving a warm smile to the girl with her hand in the air.

"So... it's just like doing a magic show for them or something."

"It's up to you," he replied. "You can stroll in, and have a normal conversation with them, but have the walls and ceiling flashing all sorts of pretty colours, or you can bounce in there and treat it like a performance. It's your exam, and this is your chance to do all the flashy and amazing things you can. All year, you'll be developing a script, planning what you'll do, and practicing. I can teach you things you want to do, advise you where you're going wrong. That sort of stuff."

He strolled around his desk, looking around at every face with an impressive sort of smile.

"Right then," he said. "Parchment is in the crate at the back, you should all have ink and quills but if you need any extra, just tell me. Start jotting down notes of a few things, a very vague outline of what it is you're going to do. I think most of you are here for two hours, so we'll crack on, and try some practice of entrances in the second hour. Any problems?" Without giving them any time to register problems, he said, brightly, "Good, on we go then!"

It was a very enjoyable lesson. Neville was allowed out of the Dead area to come and sit with Kainda and Harry, and the three of them spent the first hour debating the most impressive and risky things they could do. Kainda was all for the idea of blowing Alrister's desk to pieces the moment she stepped into the room, but Alrister had to put a stop to this idea. It was also the first time Harry had uttered the phrase, "Then I think I'll turn my nose blue", while being entirely serious.

Neville was rather nervous about the whole idea. "But... how long does it have to last?" he asked, when Alrister came over to ask what was the matter.

"As long as you can manage," said Alrister. "The longer the better."

"But what if I can only manage thirty seconds?" said Neville. "Or what if something goes terribly wrong?"

"Use a stunning charm on the examiner," suggested Kainda, grinning. "Then when you've woken them up, say they just missed you turning the desk into a hippo and back without the use of a wand."

"Miss Zabini, what has my poor desk ever done to you?"

Harry laughed. Alrister winked at him, then came around the table to lean over Harry's shoulder and read through his plans. "Ambitious, Harry, very ambitious. Glad you've included the levitation there, after all, showing off your strengths never goes wrong... I might teach you some long-distance levitation next lesson, flying to you and me. We'll have to be careful though, don't want you breaking your neck now, do we? All that paperwork - I shudder at the thought."

By the time the end bell went, Harry was in a great mood. He, Kainda and Neville headed off to first break out in the courtyard to find Ron and Hermione sitting outside on a new fountain that had been brought in. At first, Harry thought it was just an oddly shaped statue, until he recognised one of the shapes. It was Dobby. Harry blinked, wondering if he was seeing right, but casting his eyes up, he saw stone statues of Professor Vector and Professor Trelawney standing behind Dobby. Sitting at their feet were Colin Creevey, a Hufflepuff boy, a tiny little girl that had been in Ravenclaw, and one of the Slytherin girls Harry knew was killed in the siege.

"What do you think?" said Hermione, happily, standing up and coming over. "It's the statue that Hagrid told us about. They were all killed in the siege. They've got one student lost from each house too, so everybody can remember. It's beautiful, isn't it?"

"What about Kibbles though?" said Harry. "He was killed, why isn't - "

Ron nudged him in the arm, and pointed up at the school. Harry turned around. Sitting on the roof over-looking the courtyard was a black shape, dark and impressive against the sky, curled around one of the flags almost protectively. Harry remembered the face of the dragon looking back at him. It was the same face that had once blinked of him out of a little glass tank, waiting for another piece of chicken to be thrown in. Kibbles had grown to the size of a small elephant before he was killed.

"Wow," Harry breathed. "It's really life-like, isn't it?"

Hermione nodded. "I think it's really nice they've got something honouring what happened... I know the ministry would rather just forget about the siege, but Dumbledore's doing a good job not being ashamed."

"So how was Charms?" Harry asked.

"Boring," said Ron. "Making loads of notes and copying stuff out. How was Pure Arts?"

"Alrister hit Neville with a big stick," said Kainda, bemusedly.

"Oh?" said Ron, as though this was common practice.


"Did he deserve it?"

"Probably not. Alrister says he wasn't being aware of attacks enough."


"Yup. He's going to be trying to hit us all with the stick throughout the year. Probably your class too. You've got him after break, right?"


"Look out behind the door when you walk in."

"I'll remember that."

Ron and Kainda's small-talk was then interrupted, as a blonde figure in a black cloak stepped out into the courtyard. Draco didn't even look at Ron. He crossed over to Harry, sat down next to him on the bench, and instantly went into his bag to look for something. Apparently abandoning his plan to ignore Draco, Ron piped up, "Pretending none of it happened, eh, Malfoy?"

Draco didn't say a word, and acted perfectly as though he hadn't heard a word of what Ron said. He finally found a textbook, and propped it open in his lap, scanning the contents page. Ron, it seemed, didn't want to let go of the issue so easily.

"Don't ignore me, Malfoy. Or is that how bad it is? Just ignore me, and the problem goes away?"

"Ron," Hermione chided. "Don't, let it drop. Please."

"Granger, could I see your Runes textbook?" said Draco, still in his own little world, apparently oblivious to the other line of conversation. "I think mine is missing the chapter about literal translations..."

Hermione went into her bag, but Ron cut in with, "Don't give him it," so sharply that everybody stared at him, including Draco. Ron glared back at Draco, though spoke to Hermione. "You don't want his half-breed hands all over it. My dad says to never trust a veela."

"Your dad says to love muggles, that's what a crackpot he is," Draco snarled.

Ron jumped up and went for Malfoy with a yell of anger, but Harry, Neville and Gina all leapt forward, grabbing him and hauling him away. Draco got to his feet silently.

"What's wrong? Going to storm off again?" Ron said, angrily. "Can't take the ridicule, Malfoy?"

"I think you should stop all this," said Draco, in an oddly quiet voice. "I think you should calm down and just let me sit here. I'm not doing you any harm, am I, Weasley?"

Ron was silent. He had gone oddly limp in Harry's grip, and when Harry let him go, he just turned and sat down, calm as anything. He got out a packet of Bertie Botts beans, and opened them. "Anybody want one?" he said, cheerfully, offering the bag around.

Everybody stared at him, and then they turned as one to look at Draco. Draco seemed just as calm as Ron. He took one of the jelly beans, and sat down, the Runes textbook open on his lap again. "Thankyou, Weasley."

"My pleasure," said Ron, still in that un-naturally cheerful way. Harry and the others had worked out what Draco must have done, though nobody wanted to accuse him, and really, it was better this way. They all sat down around the fountain, quietly. The rest of break was pleasantly subdued, and Ron didn't say a word against Malfoy at all. He went off to Pure Arts, laughing and joking with Dean and Seamus, while Harry, Hermione, Draco and Kainda went off to Dark Arts. Only when they lined up outside the Dark Arts classroom did Hermione mention what had happened.

"You shouldn't have done that," she murmured, quietly.

"Oh? And why not? That was the first peaceful moment I've had since coming back to Hogwarts, and I think it was a rather good idea, personally." Draco sniffed, and started to check his nails delicately. "That's the reason that the centaurs hate veela. Centaurs rely on using human nature to predict the future, and veela interfere with human nature."

"Will Ron remember being nice to you?" asked Hermione, still sounding disapproving.

"No," said Draco, pleasantly. "He'll only remember vague details of being in the courtyard. No specific events. It should wear off in about an hour, I did give him a particularly strong blast..."

"Do you actually control them?" said Harry. "Like with the imperius curse?"

"Oh no," said Draco, shaking his head. "It's charm, Potter. I merely twiddled with his mind to make him open to my persuasion and greatly fond of me, then suggested he calm down. It's a marvellous skill. Female veela use it to attract mates, the males use it for more useful things."

"Like messing with somebody's emotions?" said Hermione, definite cold tones in her voice.

"Precisely," said Draco, ignoring the disapproval he clearly didn't want to hear.

At that moment, the door opened, putting an end to the discussion. Madam Ivy looked out at them all with a little smile. She was wearing an odd pair of very thick-rimmed rectangular glasses, that made her look like a punk-rocker librarian.

"Come in," she said. "Quills and ink out."

They all filed into the room, and Harry, Draco, Hermione and Kainda all took seats at the back, getting out books, quills, ink bottles and any spare parchment they had. Professor Lupin was sitting at his desk, head resting on one hand, gazing out of the window as though there was something out there which fascinated him. As Harry watched, Lupin glanced down, spotted a few more short scarlet hairs on his desk, and frowned, brushing them onto the floor. Madam Ivy was still unpopular with Lupin it seemed.

"Now then... you should all know me by now," she said, brightly, perching on the edge of Lupin's desk and looking around at them all with her hands folded on one knee. "If you don't, my name is Madam Ivy, and I will be teaching you Defence Against The Dark Arts part-time this year, along with Professor Lupin. Today I'm just going to hand out timetables and give you a brief overview of the course. Anybody who was in the lesson with me yesterday will get a worksheet to do."

"Joys of joys," Kainda murmured next to Harry.

He let out a quiet snort of laughter. He was sure that he was far back enough from Madam Ivy for her to not hear it, though she did. Her eyes instantly flicked onto him, and one slim black eyebrow arched above the rim of her glasses.

"I'm sorry, young man, but is there something you wish to share with the class?" she said.

"No," said Harry, unsure of how to address her.

Her other eyebrow arched. "Dear me... I hope this isn't an attitude problem I see emerging, in your very first lesson."

"There is nothing wrong with Harry's attitude," said Lupin, shortly, standing up even though he had no reason to. "I think the problem here could be yours, if you start taking every tiny little noise as laughter, Madam."

Madam Ivy smiled dewily at him. "Thankyou for that, Professor Lupin... now, as I was saying, before that interruption, worksheets will be given to anybody who has already received their timetable. Such a shame that the lesson is so erratic for NEWT classes. Of course, most classes you will be working on an ongoing project, so hopefully, we shall weed out any problems very quickly..."

Harry glanced up, seeing her looking right at him. He held her gaze, politely, trying not to get off on a bad foot with the new Dark Arts teacher. She looked away, and picked up a stack of paper on Lupin's desk, starting to hand out timetables and worksheets. When she reached Harry and Kainda's desk, she gave Harry a blank schedule, and Kainda a sheet of paper with a series of questions on.

"I've done this one," said Kainda, glancing up at her. "This sheet, Madam."

"Oh?" said Madam Ivy, turning her sharp gaze onto Kainda. "Ah, yes, you were here for the double period yesterday, weren't you? Well then, you can start doing some planning for our first project. Get a scroll from the back, and start jotting down notes about any dangerous magical things are in Britain, Miss Zabini."

"I'll get it for you," said Harry, knowing it would be awkward for Kainda to reach the shelf of parchment at the back.

He stood up, but Madam Ivy said, quickly, "I don't believe I gave you permission to stand up. Please sit down. One point from the school, for not concentrating on your own business."

Harry sat down obediently, not arguing about the point she took away. He couldn't help but feel he wasn't making a good impression. Professor Lupin, who had clearly been watching from across the room, came over. He got a roll of parchment for Kainda, and then leant down, saying quietly, "Two points to the house totals for trying to be a gentleman, Harry."

Harry tried not to smile too much as Lupin walked away back to his desk. Madam Ivy hadn't noticed what happened. She perched herself delicately on the corner of Lupin's desk again, and started to read out the schedule for the year, instructing them to note down which teacher they had for which lesson. Harry sat in near silence. He didn't want to make enemies with another Dark Arts teacher, especially in his NEWT lesson, and he put his hand up to volunteer information whenever he could. Lupin called on him once or twice, though Ivy seemed to ignore him.

By the time the end of the lesson was approaching, Harry was desperately bored and hungry. He had Charms that afternoon, and knew that Professor Flitwick's class would be far more interesting than this. Kainda was obviously bored too, and they had a silent Noughts and Crosses tournament, which she won by miles. They had just started a game of Hangman when Madam Ivy appeared at their table to check Harry's timetable. Her eyes swept down it quickly, and she nodded. "That seems to be in order. Now... Harry, is it? Harry Potter?"

He nodded numbly, keeping the Hangman game covered with his elbow.

"Let's hope this was just a shaky first lesson, mm?" she said, with a hazy smile. "I'm sure that you can be much better behaved. Professor Lupin tells me you're an excellent student, so I don't expect any more interruptions in my lessons from you."

Harry turned his eyes to the desk. "Sorry, Madam Ivy."

"There, that's it..." she said, kindly, before she moved on to check Hermione's timetable, her long black robes sweeping along the ground behind her.

The bell went. Everybody stood up, put away their things, and Harry, Hermione, Draco and Kainda all left the classroom fairly quickly. Draco seemed a little reluctant to leave, and hung back, as though he wanted to say something to Madam Ivy, but Hermione pushed him in the back, muttered, "Oh, keep your hormones under control", and nudged him out of the door.

"What did you think of that lesson?" Kainda asked, as they made their way towards the Great Hall for lunch.

"It was quite boring," Hermione admitted. "I really thought we'd be doing something interesting for our first class of the year. I suppose the timetable was important though."

Harry listened to them talking as he reached into his bag, took out the schedule, and glanced through it. He had Madam Ivy on Tuesday and Friday, and Lupin for the rest of the week. At least she wouldn't have too many opportunities to accuse him of having an attitude problem. Though with Lupin, Harry reminded himself, he also had lessons to kill. He was not looking forward to them at all. He could deal with the DMT classes in Snape's dungeon, but he didn't think anybody could ever teach him to kill another creature with no remorse. Even the smallest insect deserved to live. The insects Harry would have to kill could be parents, of another little insect, that would spend the rest of its life alone and without any parents to love. It was no different to what Voldemort did to Harry.

Charms passed without anything exceptional happening, and when the end bell went, Harry packed together his things and left the room with everyone else. Dinner was some sort of stew. Draco's charm had worn off Ron, and all through dinner, they muttered scathing things across the table to each other. Ron even resorted to flicking peas at Draco, until Professor McGonagall told him off. Ron seemed to think it was Draco's fault that he'd been caught, and voiced this opinion loudly for the rest of the meal. It was almost a relief to Harry when Draco and Kainda went off together towards the Slytherin common room, and the Gryffindors went to theirs. They all settled around the fire in armchairs and on cushions on the floor, got out their start-of-term homework, and started working.

Harry was writing up the first few pages of his Potions project, careful to make his handwriting neat, only stopped every now and then by Hermione leaning over his shoulder to remind him how to spell an ingredient. Next to him, Ron was hard at work with his script for Pure Arts. Ron had arrived at dinner with a red mark on his cheek, and his explanation was, "Alrister killed me".

"Merlin, that looks boring," said Ron, leaning over Harry's shoulder and peering at the four pages of neat writing Harry had done so far. "I'm so glad I dropped Potions. Mind you, I've got a History of Magic essay to do about Vikings next, so I'm not much better off."

Hermione, who had finished her homework ages ago and was now playing teacher, checking Neville's Charms diagrams, joined the discussion. "The Vikings were fascinating though, Ron."

"Yeah, maybe to other Vikings," said Ron. "And maybe to somebody who'd been taught it by a teacher who still had the will to exist. Binns only hangs around now to ruin our education and turn the past into utter rubbish."

"Hmm," said Hermione. She gave Neville a smile, and said, "Those are all fine, Neville."

"Great," he said, grinning. "Thanks, Hermione. I'm just going to get my Herbology textbook, I have to check on something for my homework."

He headed away up the stairs, and the mention of Herbology seemed to stir a memory deep in Harry's mind. Something he'd forgotten about Herbology... after a moment, it struck him.

"I left my fuzzy fungus at Grimmauld Place," he announced.

"You left your what?" said Ron, staring at him.

"My fuzzy fungus," said Harry. "You know, the little mushroom thing. It's probably still in that pot, waiting for somebody to take the lid off. It could have drowned for all I know."

"Write to Mum," said Ron, shrugging. "She'll put it in a box and send you it by owl, I guess."

Harry nodded, and was about to ask Ron if he had any spare parchment, when their attention was caught by a sudden high scream. They all jumped, and Ginny upset her ink bottle all across the floor.

"What was that?" she said, staring towards the staircases.

Footsteps were rumbling down them, and next second, Neville burst into the room, white in the face and shaking. "There's a g-g-ghost up there!" he squeaked, pointing up the stairs. "I-in our dormitory!"

"Hogwarts is full of ghosts Neville, you prat," said Ron. "You see them everyday."

"No!" said Neville, his voice very shrill. "It was... it was P-Professor Trelawney, just there w-waiting in the d-d-dormitory!"

Harry's eyes widened. "Really? Did she say anything?"

Neville nodded frantically.

"What?" asked Hermione.

"I don't know," said Neville. "She opened her mouth to say something, and I screamed, and ran away."

Harry and Ron glanced at each other, then both put down their homework, drew their wands, and headed towards the stairs. Neville crept along after them, and everybody else was waiting at the foot of the staircase. Ron grasped the handle of the dormitory, and pulled it open. The inside was flooded with dying evening sunshine, all the curtains of the four posters wide open, and it was completely empty.

"She's gone," whispered Neville. "Oh, Harry, Ron, she was there, she really was! I'm not making it up!"

"Why would Professor Trelawney have a reason to come back?" said Ron, shrugging. "Just to keep making Harry's life a misery? It was your brain, playing tricks with you Neville."

"But..." said Neville, sounding miserable. "I was sure..."

"If you see her again, tell us," said Harry, reassuringly. "Then we'll go and see Nearly Headless Nick, and ask him if he's seen Professor Trelawney around. Don't worry about it too much Neville. If she has come back, she's got no reason to bother you."

Neville nodded glumly, and headed away down the stairs, with Ron following him. Harry took one last glance around the dormitory, and could have sworn he heard a soft tinkle, as though of jewellery jangling together, before he shut the door.


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