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"She'll twist everything he says," Harry said under his breath.
Ron looked up.
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE - THE YULE BALL
They want to beat Dumbledore. They'd like to prove he's only human."
Harry got up on Sunday morning and dressed so inattentively that it was a while before he realized he was trying to pull his hat onto his foot instead of his sock.
There seemed to be fewer Support Cedric Diggory! badges around too. Draco Malfoy, of course, was still quoting Rita Skeeter's article to him at every possible opportunity, but he was getting fewer and fewer laughs out of it - and just to heighten Harry's feeling of well-being, no story about Hagrid had appeared in the Daily Prophet.
Bagman looked somehow like a slightly overblown cartoon figure, standing amid all the pale-faced champions. He was wearing his old Wasp robes again.
"Yes, indeed, dear!" she trilled, straightening her new tinsel hair band as she swung forward to admit him.
"Thought Dumbledore said you weren' allowed inside the school anymore," said Hagrid, frowning slightly as he got off the slightly squashed skrewt and started tugging it over to its fellows.
"Oh no, he's back again, why can't he read on his stupid ship?" said Hermione irritably as Viktor Krum slouched in, cast a surly look over at the pair of them, and settled himself in a distant corner with a pile of books. "Come on, Harry, we'll go back to the common room. . . his fan club'll be here in a moment, twittering away... ."
"Evil, he is," Ron said bitterly that night in the Gryffindor common room. "Springing a test on us on the last day. Ruining the last bit of term with a whole load of studying."
"You're joking, Weasley!" said Malfoy, behind them. "You're not telling me someone's asked that to the ball? Not the long-molared Mudblood?"
Be on the watch, Harry. I still want to hear about anything unusual. Let me know about the 22nd ofNovember as quickly as you can.
"Changed the name, have you?" said Ron, frowning at her. "What are we now, then, the House-Elf Liberation Front? I'm not barging into that kitchen and trying to make them stop work, I'm not doing it -"
"I'm not asking you to!" Hermione said impatiently. "I came down here just now, to talk to them all, and I found - oh come on, Harry, I want to show you!"
"What, you need three hours?" said Ron, looking at her incredulously and paying for his lapse in concentration when a large snowball, thrown by George, hit him hard on the side of the head. "Who're you going with?" he yelled after Hermione, but she just waved and disappeared up the stone steps into the castle.,
Harry glanced around. Cedric had nodded once, to show that he understood Bagman's words, and then started pacing around the tent again; he looked slightly green. Fleur Delacour and Krum hadn't reacted at all. Perhaps they thought they might be sick if they opened their mouths; that was certainly how Harry felt. But they, at least, had volunteered for this. .。
The start of December brought wind and sleet to Hogwarts. Drafty though the castle always was in winter. Harry was glad of its fires and thick walls every time he passed the Durmstrang ship on the lake, which was pitching in the high winds, its black sails billowing against the dark skies. He thought the Beauxbatons caravan was likely to be pretty chilly too. Hagrid, he noticed, was keeping Madame Maxime's horses well provided with their preferred drink of single-malt whiskey; the fumes wafting from the trough in the。