Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry entered the nearly deserted dining hall. A few other Hogwarts students were in the far corner carrying on a game of Wizard's Chess; one of them -- a Slytherin Harry didn't recognize -- looked up for a moment, but then returned his attention to the game.

Minutes passed. Where were Ron, Hermione, and Ginny? Harry hummed a tune; something catchy he heard played in a muggle shop. He didn't know most of the lyrics; something about a boy in Detroit catching a train at midnight to anywhere. The thought of a train reminded him of King's Cross station and made him chuckle. How constraining it must be -- was, he reminded himself -- to be tied to train and bus schedules, having to fill up automobiles.

Ginny enters and asks him how his meeting with Snape went. "Oh, as you might expect," Harry says. "Draco won't going to testify against his father to the new ministry."

At this news, Ginny sighs. "Well, we can't expect it all to happen at once. Hey! You're sitting on my wand!" she says to Ron as he enters and plops himself down next to her.

"Sorry. I've spent the last five hours tending to Professor Sprout's mandrakes, and I'm wiped. But as dad used to say, 'Try to remember the times that were good.'" A few of the chess players look over in their direction at the break in the silence. Harry feels the gaze of the Slytherin student, putting him on a bit of edge.

Ron shakes some dirt off the sleeve of his robe; something ruffles in his pocket. "Oh, right. Mum sent me a box of Bertie Botts." Ron pulls the box out and starts to open it. "Want some? Hey, where's Hermione anyway?"

A brief interruption in the sunlight streaming in an upper window catches their attention. Another shadow -- this time, they can see it's Hermione flying backwards, attempting to park her broom. "Ah, still trying to park," Ron sighs. The Slytherin student walks slowly towards them, still gazing at Harry. He pulls his wand out, and Harry feels a chill on the back of his neck. Just as Harry moves to pull his wand out, the Slytherin brushes past them to go to the restroom.

Ron finishes opening the box of jelly beans, and they each pop one into their mouths. Hermione, having finally parked her broom, runs up to the dining hall entrance.


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