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Then, quite suddenly, as though following orders, he rolled up the map, stuffed it inside his robes, and hurried to the door of the classroom. He opened it a couple of inches. There was no one outside. Very carefully, he edged out of the room and behind the statue of the one-eyed witch.
"YWve heard?" he bellowed, and he flung himself onto Harry's neck.
"Merry Christmas!" said Dumbledore as Harry, Ron, and Hermione approached the table. "As there are so few of us, it seemed foolish to use the House tables.... Sit down, sit down!"
"Expecto patronum, " Harry repeated under his breath, "expecto patronum."
"What did you do that for?" said Harry furiously. Peeves puffed out his cheeks, blew hard, and zoomed backward out of the room, cackling.
But Harry still, pretending to be asleep. He heard Ron leave again, and rolled over on his back, his eyes wide open.
"His finest hour," said Fred, unable to keep a straight face. "Let the scar on Goyle's finger stand as a lasting tribute to his memory. Oh, come on, Ron, get yourself down to Hogsmeade and buy a new rat, what's the point of moaning?"
"Good. There's no point moving them all now. I've found a temporary guardian for the Gryffindor portrait hole. You'll be able to move them back in tomorrow."
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another. They had never seen eye to eye with Hagrid about what he called "interesting creatures" and other people called "terrifying monsters." Or' the other hand, there didn't seem to be any particular harm in Buckbeak. In fact, by Hagrid's usual standards, he was positively cute.
Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he'd ever tasted and seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside.
"So you'll be the red currant rum, Minister."
Ron and Herinione watched Harry nervously all through dintier, not daring to talk about what they'd overheard, because Percy was sitting close by them. When they went upstairs to the crowded common room, it was to find Fred and George had set off half a dozen Dungbombs in a fit of end- of-term high spirits. Harry, who didn't want Fred and George asking him whether he'd reached Hogsmeade or not, sneaked quietly up to the empty dormitory and headed straight for his bedside cabinet. He pushed his books aside and quickly found what he was looking for -- the leather-bound photo album Hagrid had given him two years ago, which was full of wizard pictures of his mother and father. He sat down on his bed, drew the hangings around him, and started turning the pages, searching, until...
"Dumbledore obviously thinks he might be," said Ron.
Fred pulled something from inside his cloak with a flourish and laid it on one of the desks. It was a large, square, very worn piece of parchment with nothing written on it. Harry, suspecting one of Fred and George's jokes, stared at it.
"Yes, but but --" Hermoine seemed to be struggling to find another problem. "Look, Harry still shouldn't be coming into Hogsmeade. He hasn't got a signed form! If anyone finds out, he'll be in so much trouble! And it's not nightfall yet -- what if Sirius Black turns up today? Now?"
"That's why he wouldn't say it was from him!" said Ron. "In case some git like Malfoy said it was favoritism. Hey, Harry" -- Ron gave a great whoop of laughter -- "Malfoy! Wait till he sees you on this! He'll be sick as a pig! This is an international standard broom, this is!";