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THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE QUARTERS 6



Gryffindor cheers filled the cold air, with howls and moans from the Slytherins.

Budge up there, move along.

Hagrid!

Ron and Hermione squeezed together to give Hagrid enough space to join them.

Bin watchin from me hut, said Hagrid, patting a large pair of binoculars around his neck, But it isnt the same as bein in the crowd. No sign of the Snitch yet, eh?

Nope, said Ron. Harry hasnt had much to do yet.

Kept outta trouble, though, thats somethin, said Hagrid, raising his binoculars and peering skyward at the speck that was Harry.

Way up above them, Harry was gliding over the game, squinting about for some sign of the Snitch. This was part of his and Woods game plan.

Keep out of the way until you catch sight of the Snitch, Wood had said. We dont want you attacked before you have to be.

When Angelina had scored, Harry had done a couple of loop the loops to let off his feelings. Now he was back to staring around for the Snitch. Once he caught sight of a flash of gold, but it was just a reflection from one of the Weasleys wristwatches, and once a Bludger decided to come pelting his way, more like a cannonball than anything, but Harry dodged it and Fred Weasley came chasing after it.

All right there, Harry? he had time to yell, as he beat the Bludger furiously toward Marcus Flint.

Slytherin in possession, Lee Jordan was saying, Chaser Pucey ducks two Bludgers, two Weasleys, and Chaser Bell, and speeds toward thewait a momentwas that the Snitch?

A murmur ran through the crowd as Adrian Pucey dropped the Quaffle, too busy looking over his shoulder at the flash of gold that had passed his left ear.

Harry saw it. In a great rush of excitement he dived downward after the streak of gold. Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs had seen it, too. Neck and neck they hurtled toward the Snitch all the Chasers seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed to be doing as they hung in midair to watch.

Harry was faster than Higgshe could see the little round ball, wings fluttering, darting up aheadhe put on an extra spurt of speed

WHAM! A roar of rage echoed from the Gryffindors belowMarcus Flint had blocked Harry on purpose, and Harrys broom spun off course, Harry holding on for dear life.

Foul! screamed the Gryffindors.

Madam Hooch spoke angrily to Flint and then ordered a free shot at the goal posts for Gryffindor. But in all the confusion, of course, the Golden Snitch had disappeared from sight again.

Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, Send him off, ref! Red card!

What are you talking about, Dean? said Ron.



Red card! said Dean furiously. In soccer you get shown the red card and youre out of the game!

But this isnt soccer, Dean, Ron reminded him.

Hagrid, however, was on Deans side.

They oughta change the rules. Flint coulda knocked Harry outta the air.

Lee Jordan was finding it difficult not to take sides.

Soafter that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating

Jordan! growled Professor McGonagall.

I mean, after that open and revolting foul

 

Jordan, Im warning you

 

All right, all right. Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen to anyone, Im sure, so a penalty to Gryffindor, taken by Spinner, who puts it away, no trouble, and we continue play, Gryffindor still in possession.

It was as Harry dodged another Bludger, which went spinning dangerously past his head, that it happened. His broom gave a sudden, frightening lurch. For a split second, he thought he was going to fall. He gripped the broom tightly with both his hands and knees. Hed never felt anything like that.

It happened again. It was as though the broom was trying to buck him off. But Nimbus Two Thousands did not suddenly decide to buck their riders off. Harry tried to turn back toward the Gryffindor goal-postshe had half a mind to ask Wood to call time outand then he realized that his broom was completely out of his control. He couldnt turn it. He couldnt direct it at all. It was zigzagging through the air, and every now and then making violent swishing movements that almost unseated him.

Lee was still commentating.

Slytherin in possessionFlint with the Quafflepasses Spinnetpasses Bellhit hard in the face by a Bludger, hope it broke his noseonly joking, ProfessorSlytherins scoreA no

The Slytherins were cheering. No one seemed to have noticed that Harrys broom was behaving strangely. It was carrying him slowly higher, away from the game, jerking and twitching as it went.

Dunno what Harry thinks hes doing, Hagrid mumbled. He stared through his binoculars. If I didn know better, Id say hed lost control of his broom but he cant have

Suddenly, people were pointing up at Harry all over the stands. His broom had started to roll over and over, with him only just managing to hold on. Then the whole crowd gasped. Harrys broom had given a wild jerk and Harry swung off it. He was now dangling from it, holding on with only one hand.

Did something happen to it when Flint blocked him? Seamus whispered.

Cant have, Hagrid said, his voice shaking. Cant nothing interfere with a broomstick except powerful Dark magicno kid could do that to a Nimbus Two Thousand.

At these words, Hermione seized Hagrids binoculars, but instead of looking up at Harry, she started looking frantically at the crowd.

What are you doing? moaned Ron, gray faced.

I knew it, Hermione gasped, Snapelook.

Ron grabbed the binoculars. Snape was in the middle of the stands opposite them. He had his eyes fixed on Harry and was muttering nonstop under his breath.

Hes doing somethingjinxing the broom, said Hermione.

What should we do?

Leave it to me.

Before Ron could say another word, Hermione had disappeared. Ron turned the binoculars back on Harry. His broom was vibrating so hard, it was almost impossible for him to hang on much longer. The whole crowd was on its feet, watching, terrified, as the Weasleys flew up to try and pull Harry safely onto one of their brooms, but it was no goodevery time they got near him, the broom would jump higher still. They dropped lower and circled beneath him, obviously hoping to catch him if he fell. Marcus Flint seized the Quaffle and scored five times without anyone noticing.

Come on, Hermione, Ron muttered desperately.

Hermione had fought her way across to the stand where Snape stood, and was now racing along the row behind him; she didnt even stop to say sorry as she knocked Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front. Reaching Snape, she crouched down, pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well-chosen words. Bright blue flames shot from her wand onto the hem of Snapes robes.

It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape to realize that he was on fire. A sudden yelp told her she had done her job. Scooping the fire off him into a little jar in her pocket, she scrambled back along the rowSnape would never know what had happened.

It was enough. Up in the air, Harry was suddenly able to clamber back on to his broom.

Neville, you can look! Ron said. Neville had been sobbing into Hagrids jacket for the last five minutes.

Harry was speeding toward the ground when the crowd saw him clap his hand to his mouth as though he was about to be sickhe hit the field on all fourscoughedand something gold fell into his hand.

Ive got the Snitch! he shouted, waving it above his head, and the game ended in complete confusion.

 

He didnt

catch

it, he nearly

swallowed

it, Flint was still howling twenty minutes later, but it made no differenceHarry hadnt broken any rules and Lee Jordan was still happily shouting the resultsGryffindor had won by one hundred and seventy points to sixty. Harry heard none of this, though. He was being made a cup of strong tea back in Hagrids hut, with Ron and Hermione.

 

It was Snape, Ron was explaining, Hermione and I saw him. He was cursing your broomstick, muttering, he wouldnt take his eyes off you.

Rubbish, said Hagrid, who hadnt heard a word of what had gone on next to him in the stands. Why would Snape do somethin like that?

Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another, wondering what to tell him. Harry decided on the truth.

I found out something about him, he told Hagrid. He tried to get past that three headed dog on Halloween. It bit him. We think he was trying to steal whatever its guarding.

Hagrid dropped the teapot.

How do you know about Fluffy? he said.

 

Fluffy?

 

Yeahhes minebought him off a Greek chappie I met in the pub las yearI lent him to Dumbledore to guard the

Yes? said Harry eagerly.

Now, dont ask me anymore, said Hagrid gruffly. Thats top secret, that is.

 

But Snapes trying to

steal

it.

 

Rubbish, said Hagrid again. Snapes a Hogwarts teacher, hed do nothin of the sort.

So why did he just try and kill Harry? cried Hermione.

The afternoons events certainly seemed to have changed her mind about Snape.

I know a jinx when I see one, Hagrid, Ive read all about them! Youve got to keep eye contact, and Snape wasnt blinking at all, I saw him!

Im tellin yeh, yer wrong! said Hagrid hotly. I don know why Harrys broom acted like that, but Snape wouldn try an kill a student! Now, listen to me, all three of yehyer meddlin in things that don concern yeh. Its dangerous. You forget that dog, an you forget what its guardin, thats between Professor Dumbledore an Nicolas Flamel

Aha! said Harry, so theres someone called Nicolas Flamel involved, is there?

Hagrid looked furious with himself.

 





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