Chapter 35 / must . . . not . . . look . . . like . . . a . . . baboon’s . . . backside
Guess who's back? Back again? Ellie's back!
Hopelijk zijn jullie me nog niet vergeten! Veel leesplezier!
In the very last carriage I found Harry, Ginny, Luna and Neville, Harry’s fellow fifth-year Gryffindor.
‘Oh, Katherine! I started wondering if you weren’t coming to Hogwarts after all. Where have you been?’ Ginny asked. I waved around and didn’t answer the question.
The train rattled onwards, speeding us out into open country. It was an odd, unsettled sort of day; one moment the carriage was full of sunlight and the next we were passing beneath ominously grey clouds.
‘Guess what I got for my birthday?’ said Neville.
‘Another Remembrall?’ said Harry, pulling a weird face.
‘No,’ said Neville. ‘I could do with one, though, I lost the old one ages ago. . . . No, look at this. . . . ‘
He dug the hand that was not keeping a firm grip on Trevor, his toad, into his schoolbag and after a little bit of rummaging pulled out what appeared to be a small grey cactus in a pot, except that it was covered with what looked like boils rather than spines.
‘Ew, what’s that?’ I asked disgusted.
‘Mimbulus mimbletonia,’ he said proudly. I stared at the thing. It was pulsating slightly, giving it the rather sinister look of some diseased internal organ.
‘It’s really, really rare,’ said Neville, beaming. ‘I don’t know if there’s one in the greenhouse at Hogwarts, even. I can’t wait to show it to Professor Sprout. My Great Uncle Algie got it for me in Assyria. I’m going to see if I can breed from it. ‘
‘Does it–er–do anything?’ Harry asked.
‘Loads of stuff!’ said Neville proudly. ‘It’s got an amazing defensive mechanism. Here, hold Trevor for me. . . . ‘
He dumped the toad into Harry’s lap and took a quill from his schoolbag. Luna’s popping eyes appeared over the top of her upside-down magazine again, watching what Neville was doing. Neville held the Mimbulus mimbletonia up to his eyes, his tongue between his teeth, chose his spot, and gave the plant a sharp prod with the tip of his quill.
Liquid squirted from every boil on the plant; thick, stinking, dark green jets of it. They hit the ceiling, the windows, and spattered Luna Lovegood’s magazine; Ginny, who had flung her arms up in front of her face just in time, merely looked as though she was wearing a slimy green hat, but Harry, whose hands had been busy preventing Trevor’s escape, received a facefull. It smelled like rancid manure. I wiped the green push of my face.
Neville, whose face and torso were also drenched, shook his head to get the worst out of his eyes.
‘So sorry,’ he gasped. ‘I haven’t tried that before. . . . Didn’t realise it would be quite so. . . Don’t worry, though, Stinksap’s not poisonous,’ he added nervously, as Harry spat a mouthful on to the floor. At that precise moment the door of their compartment slid open.
‘Oh . . . hello, Harry,’ said a nervous voice. ‘Um . . . bad time?’
A very pretty girl with long, shiny black hair was standing in the doorway smiling at him: Cho Chang, the Seeker on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team.
‘Oh . . . hi,’ said Harry blankly.
‘Um. . . ‘ said Cho. ‘Well . . . just thought I’d say hello . . . ‘bye then. ‘
Rather pink in the face, she closed the door and departed. Harry slumped back in his seat and groaned.
‘Oh, hi Cho,’ I muttered, ‘nice to see you. You’re always so polite to you fellow Ravenclaws.’
‘Don’t mind her, she thinks she’s better than other Ravenclaws, because she got to date Cedric,’ Luna said, looking over her magazine.
‘Never mind,’ said Ginny bracingly. ‘Look, we can easily get rid of all this.’ She pulled out her wand. ‘Scourgify!’
The Stinksap vanished.
‘Sorry.’ said Neville again, in a small voice.
Ron and Hermione did not turn up for nearly an hour, by which time the food trolley had already gone by.
‘I’m starving,’ said Ron, stowing Pigwidgeon next to Hedwig, grabbing a Chocolate Frog from Harry and throwing himself into the seat next to him. He ripped open the wrapper, bit off the frog’s head and leaned back with his eyes closed as though he had had a very exhausting morning.
‘Well, there are two fifth-year prefects from each house,’ said Hermione, looking thoroughly disgruntled as she took her seat. ‘Boy and girl from each. ‘
‘And guess who’s a Slytherin prefect?’ said Ron, still with his eyes closed.
‘Malfoy,’ replied Harry at once, certain his worst fear would be confirmed.
‘ ‘Course,’ said Ron bitterly, stuffing the rest of the Frog into his mouth and taking another.
‘And that complete cow Pansy Parkinson,’ said Hermione viciously. ‘How she got to be a prefect when she’s thicker than a concussed troll. . . ‘
‘Who are Hufflepuff’s?’ Harry asked.
‘Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott,’ said Ron thickly.
‘And Anthony Goldstein and Padma Patil for Ravenclaw,’ said Hermione.
‘You went to the Yule Ball with Padma Patil,’ said Luna’s vague voice.
Everyone turned to look at Luna, who was gazing unblinkingly at Ron over the top of The Quibbler. He swallowed his mouthful of Frog.
‘Yeah, I know I did,’ he said, looking mildly surprised.
‘She didn’t enjoy it very much,’ Luna informed him. ‘She doesn’t think you treated her very well, because you wouldn’t dance with her. I don’t think I’d have minded,’ she added thoughtfully, ‘I don’t like dancing very much. ‘
She retreated behind The Quibbler again. Ron stared at the cover with his mouth hanging open for a few seconds, then looked around for some kind of explanation, but Ginny had stuffed her knuckles in her mouth to stop herself giggling and I stared at the window, a little giggle escaping my mouth. Ron shook his head, bemused, then checked his watch.
‘We’re supposed to patrol the corridors every so often,’ he told Harry and Neville, ‘and we can give out punishments if people are misbehaving. I can’t wait to get Crabbe and Goyle for something. . . . ‘
‘You’re not supposed to abuse your position, Ron!’ said Hermione sharply.
‘Yeah, right, because Malfoy won’t abuse it at all,’ said Ron sarcastically.
‘So you’re going to descend to his level?’
‘No, I’m just going to make sure I get his mates before he gets mine. ‘
‘For heavens sake, Ron–‘
‘I’ll make Goyle do lines, it’ll kill him, he hates writing,’ said Ron happily. He lowered his voice to Goyle’s low grunt and, screwing up his face in a look of pained concentration, mimed writing in midair. ‘I . . . must . . . not . . . look . . . like . . . a . . . baboon’s . . . backside. ‘
Everyone laughed, but nobody laughed harder than Luna. She let out a scream of mirth that caused Hedwig to wake up and flap her wings indignantly and Crookshanks to leap up into the luggage rack, hissing. Luna laughed so hard her magazine slipped out of her grasp, slid down her legs, and onto the floor.
‘That was funny!’ Her prominent eyes swam with tears as she gasped for breath, staring at Ron. Utterly nonplussed, he looked around at the others, who were now laughing at the expression on Ron’s face and at the ludicrously prolonged laughter of Luna, who was rocking backwards and forwards, clutching her sides.
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