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"Out of the way, Arthur," said a cold, curt voice.
"What is that supposed to be?"
They were now leading by one hundred and thirty points to ten, and the game was starting to get dirtier.
A crowd of wizards, tightly packed and moving together with wands pointing straight upward, was marching slowly across the field. Harry squinted at them. . . . They didn't seem to have faces. . . . Then he realized that their heads were hooded and their faces masked. High above them, floating along in midair, four struggling figures were being contorted into grotesque shapes. It was as though the masked wizards on the ground were puppeteers, and the people above them were marionettes operated by invisible strings that rose from the wands into the air. Two of the figures were very small.
It was Colin Creevey, a third year to whom Harry was something of a hero.
A crackling fire warmed the circular common room, which was full of squashy armchairs and tables. Hermione cast the merrily dancing flames a dark look, and Harry distinctly heard her mutter "Slave labor" before bidding them good night and disappearing through the doorway to the girls' dormitory.
"So. . . whoever conjured the Dark Mark. . ." said Hermione slowly, "were they doing it to show support for the Death Eaters, or to scare them away?"
"That's not the song it sang when it Sorted us," said Harry, clapping along with everyone else.
Ron hastily turned his laugh into a hacking cough.
"The way they were treating her!" said Hermione furiously. "Mr. Diggory, calling her 'elf' all the time. . . and Mr. Crouch! He knows she didn't do it and he's still going to sack her! He didn't care how frightened she'd been, or how upset she was - it was like she wasn't even human!"
Harry whirled around, and in an instant, he registered one fact: Each of these wizards had his wand out, and every wand was pointing right at himself, Ron, and Hermione.
into a frenzy of excitement.
They heard snapping twigs, the rustling of leaves, and then crunching footsteps as Mr.
Harry, Ron, and Neville got into their pajamas and into bed. Someone - a house-elf, no doubt - had placed warming pans between the sheets. It was extremely comfortable, lying there in bed and listening to the storm raging outside.
Half an hour later, each of them had been given a complicated circular chart, and was attempting to fill in the position of the planets at their moment of birth. It was dull work, requiring much consultation of timetables and calculation of angles.
The familiar sweet perfume spreading from the fire met their nostrils as they emerged at the top of the stepladder. As ever, the curtains were all closed; the circular room was bathed in a dim reddish light cast by the many lamps, which were all draped with scarves and shawls. Harry and Ron walked through the mass of occupied chintz chairs and poufs that cluttered the room, and sat down at the same small circular table.