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"That's obvious," whispered Hermione. "There's only one vacancy, isn't there? Defense Against the Dark Arts."
"Well, Harry," said Fudge, pouring out tea, "you've had us all in a right flap, I don't mind telling you. Running away from your aunt and uncle's house like that! I'd started to think... but you're safe, and that's what matters."
"Yeah, don't worry, Hagrid, we'll back you up," said Ron.
They all retreated, backed against the walls, leaving Neville alone beside the wardrobe. He looked pale and frightened, but he had pushed up the sleeves of his robes and was holding his wand ready.
""You're not allowed to come? But -- no way -- McGonagall or someone will give you permission -- " musclely; Crabbe was taller, with a pudding-bowl haircut and a very thick neck; Goyle had short, bristly hair and long, gorilla-ish arms.
"Not too far from here... " Ron repeated, looking significantly at Harry. He turned around and saw Malfoy watching closely. "What, Malfoy? Need something else skinned?"
The double-ended newt wizard left, and Ron approached the counter.
"What's all that, Hermione?" Harry asked, pointing at not one but three bulging bags in the chair next to her.
A jet of sparks shot from the end of Professor Lupin's wand and hit the doorknob. The wardrobe burst open. Hook-nosed and menacing, Professor Snape stepped out, his eyes flashing at Neville.
"Stop it! Stop it!" cried the manager, poking the walking stick through the bars and knocking the books apart. "I'm never stocking them again, never! It's been bedlam! I thought we'd seen the worst when we bought two hundred copies of the Invisible Book of Invisibility -cost a fortune, and we never found them.... Well... is there anything else I can help you with?"
"The falcon... my dear, you have a deadly enemy."
"Shut up, Malfoy," Harry repeated.
"How thick would Harry have to be, to go looking for a nutter who wants to kill him?" said Ron shakily.
"Thanks," Harry said to Ern.
"One moment, please !" she called as the class made to leave. "As you're all in my House, you should hand Hogsmeade permission forms to me before Halloween. No form, no visiting the village, so don't forget!"
Harry, Ron, and Hermione stared at one another, stunned. Then they joined in with the applause, which was tumultuous at the Gryffindor table in particular. Harry leaned forward to see Hagrid, who was ruby-red in the face and staring down at his enormous hands, his wide grin hidden in the tangle of his black beard.