The next day greeted us with a warm and sunny morning as my brother and I joined our friends on the Hogwarts Express. It was amazing how many people we had managed to cramp into a single compartment. Ginny and Luna were lying upside down with their feet resting on the compartment wall as they read old issues of the Quibbler. Ron and George were arguing over chocolate frog cards, while Harry and Fred talked about quidditch. I rested my head of Fred's shoulders and watched Emily and Hermione rifle through the most recent copy of the Daily Prophet.
"There's nothing in here!" Hermione said looking up from the paper before tossing it to the floor. "There's nothing at all. I've been checking every day. Just a small piece the day after the third task saying Alice won the tournament. They didn't even mention Cedric! Nothing about any of it! If you ask me, Fudge is forcing them to keep quite."
"But what about people like Rita Skeeter? No way Fudge could keep her quite."
"Oh Rita hasn't written anything at all since the third task." An odd smiled twisted its way onto Hermione's lips. "As a matter of fact, Rita Skeeter isn't going to be writing anything at all for a while. Not unless she wants me to spill the beans on her."
"What are you talking about?" Ron asked looking up from his Chocolate Frog cards.
"I found out how she was listening in on private conversations when she wasn't supposed to be coming onto the grounds." Hermione sounded quite proud of herself and for good reason.
"Well go on then how was she doing it?" I asked.
"How did you find out?" Ron questioned at the same time.
"Well it was really Harry who gave me the idea."
"Did I? How?" My brother wondered out loud.
"Bugging." Hermione told him happily.
"But you said they didn't work!" Emily reminded her.
"Oh not electronic bugs. No you see Rita Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus. She can turn…" At this Hermione produced a small sealed jar from her purse. "Into a beetle."
"You kidding." Fred said turning to Hermione with interest.
"You haven't…she's not?" George wondered as he leaned in for a closer look.
"Oh yes she is." Hermione assured him as she cheerily showcased the jar.
"How on earth did you get her in there?" Harry asked taking the jar from Ron as it was passed around the compartment.
"I caught her on the windowsill in the Hospital Wing. Look very closely and you'll notice the markings around her antennae are exactly like those foul glasses she wears."
"There was a beetle on the statue the night we heard Hagrid telling Madame Maxime about his mum!" Ron exclaimed.
"And Viktor pulled a beetle out of my hair after we'd had our conversation by the lake. And unless I'm very much mistaken, Rita was perched on the windowsill of the divinations class the day you said your scar hurt. She's been buzzing around for storied all year!" Hermione took the glass jar from Emily and smiled evilly. "I've told her I'll let her out when we get back to London. I've put an Unbreakable Charm on the jar you see, so she can't transform. And I've told her she's to keep her quill to herself for a whole year. See if she can't break the habit of writing horrible lies about people. Still smiling wickedly Hermione tucked the beetle back inside her bag. The door of the compartment slid open and Draco Malfoy stood before it.
"Very clever Granger." He sneered. Crabbe and Goyle were standing behind him, all three of them looked more arrogant and menacing that I had ever seen them. "So you caught some pathetic reporter, and the Potters are Dumbledore's favorites again. Big deal. Try not to think about it are we? Trying to pretend it hasn't happened?"
"Get out." I snared through my teeth. I was having no part of his hurtful jokes any more.
"You've picked the losing side Potters. I warned you! I told you, you ought to choose your company more carefully remember? When we met first day at Hogwarts? I told you not to hang around with riffraff like this! Too late now. They'll be the first to go now that the Dark Lord's back! Mudbloods and Muggle-lovers first! Well second Diggory was the f-"
Malfoy never had the chance to finished his sentence in an instant spells were bouncing around the compartment like fireworks. Within seconds Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle were lying unconscious in the door way. Ron, Harry, Hermione, Fred, George and I were each standing on our feet all six of us having cast a different hex.
"Interesting effect." George leaned forward examining Crabbe. "Who used the Furnunculus Curse?"
"Me." Harry replied.
"Odd." Fred commented now observing what his twin was looking at. "George used Jelly-legs. Looks as though those two shouldn't be mixed. He seems to have sprouted little tentacles all over his face. Well let's not leave them here, they don't add much to the décor." Ron, Harry, George, and Fred proceeded to kick, roll and push the unconscious Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle out into the corridor and down to hall a few feet.
"Exploding Snap anyone?" Fred asked cheerily once the boys had returned to the compartment. The rest of the journey past pleasantly without any other rude interruptions before I knew it we were pulling in to Platform nine and three-quarters. The usual confusion and noise filled the corridors as the students began to disembark. It was a bit of a struggle to get our large group out of the cramp train but we managed. Almost immediately after exiting the train Luna, Emily and Hermione found their families and said their good-byes. Mr. Weasley was waiting eagerly to collect his four children and they gladly made their way over to them, leaving Harry and I standing alone. A bark from our right caused both Harry and I to whip our heads in that direction.
"Sirius!" I heard Harry whisper before he ran after a large black dog. The familiar black dog was barking and excitedly running circles around Harry.
"Thought you might be happy to see him." Remus' kind voice called as he approached us. "Unfortunately Harry Snuffles is just here for a visit. He's going to be returning to the house with Alice and I, I'm sorry but for now you are to stay with you aunt and uncle. Don't worry though…" Remus dropped his voice low and leaned down close so that only Harry, Sirius and I could hear him. "Dumbledore is look for a place where we can all be together."
"Really?" Harry asked hopefully.
"Would I lie to you?" Remus answered with a smile.
"We have to go find them now don't we?" Harry questioned the floor. A whimper escaped from Sirius as if trying to say that Harry could just stay there on the platform with him forever. And I think if they were given the choice that's exactly what Harry and Sirius would have done.
"I'm afraid so. Alice, Snuffles and I will stay with you until you find them."
"Uh Remus…Alice…Sir-Snuffles…" Harry stared at the ground awkwardly before looking up at us again. "I…really care about all of you and I just wanted to say that because…well because I don't ever remember saying it to any of you before." I smiled at my brother and reached for his hand. He took my hand and smiled back.
"I love you too Harry." I told him before elbowing him in the ribs. "Come on let's go find our pleasant Aunt Petunia and our charitable Uncle Vernon."