Chapter 6- At Flourish and Blotts.

"It can't be Harry Potter?" shouted Lockhart.

The crowd parted, whispering excitedly; Lockhart dived forward, seized Harry's arm, and pulled him to the front. The crowd burst into applause. Harry's face burned as Lockhart shook his hand for the photographer, who was clicking away madly, wafting thick smoke over the Weasleys.

"Nice big smile, Harry," said Lockhart, through his own gleaming teeth. "Together, you and I are worth the front page."

"Let go of him!" said Fred and George, angrily, making their way through the crowd.

"Yes, yes, boys. Don't worry, you'll have your books signed, soon. Now, we're working here." said Lockhart loudly.

Harry was a bit blinded by the camera's flashes, but managed to send a distressed look to Fred and George. He did try to break free from Lockhart's iron grip, but it was useless.

When he finally let go of Harry's hand, Harry could hardly feel his fingers. He tried to sidle back over to the Weasleys, but Lockhart threw an arm around his shoulders and clamped him tightly to his side.

Harry could make out Fred and George coming near. He only hoped it was soon.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said loudly, waving for quiet. "What an extraordinary moment this is! The perfect moment for me to make a little announcement. I've been sitting on for some time!

"When young Harry here stepped into Flourish and Blotts today, he only wanted to buy my autobiography — which I shall be happy to present him now, free of charge —" The crowd applauded again. "He had no idea," Lockhart continued, giving Harry a little shake that made his glasses slip to the end of his nose. Then-


Two books flied through the air until crashing with both sides of Lockhart's head.

"Get away from him!" yelled two identical voices.

Harry turned to look and saw Fred and George hurrying to his side. There were some gasps and cries of "insolent boys!" and "hooligans!", but besides that, anyone payed them too much mind, as most of the crowd was fussing over Lockhart. Lockhart was enjoying every second of the sympathetic attention he was getting.

Losing no time, Fred and George took each, one of Harry's arms and led him back where Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were.

"Fred! George! Why did you do that for?!" scolded Mrs. Weasley.

"Did you not see how he was manhandling Harry?!" they protested.

"Don't be silly. Why would Gilderoy Lockhart do that for? Now, let's pay for the books to go home." said Mrs. Weasley.

Harry knew she wasn't being mean. She just really thought of Lockhart as a kind of hero - as, apparently, Hermione. But Harry, much like Fred, George and Ron, felt something wrong about the man; he just couldn't quite put his finger on it.

Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Fred, George, Percy, Ron and Hermione walked to the cashier, leaving Ginny and Harry a little behind; though Harry could have sworn Mr. Weasley was constantly looking back at him, like if he was thinking Harry would disappear or, most probably, that Lockhart would be back.

In the background, Harry could hear Lockhart holding dramatically the side of his head while speaking with the press: "I have great pleasure and pride in announcing that this September, I will be taking up the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!"

"Bet you loved that, didn't you, Potter?" said a voice Harry had no trouble recognizing. He straightened up and found himself face-to-face with Draco Malfoy, who was wearing his usual sneer.

"Famous Harry Potter," said Malfoy. "Can't even go into a bookshop without making the front page."

"Leave him alone, he didn't want all that!" said Ginny.

"Potter, you've got yourself a girlfriend !" drawled Malfoy. Ginny went scarlet as Ron and Hermione fought their way over.

"Oh, it's you," said Ron, looking at Malfoy as if he were something unpleasant on the sole of his shoe. "Bet you're surprised to see Harry here, eh?"

"Not as surprised as I am to see you in a shop, Weasley," retorted Malfoy. "I suppose your parents will go hungry for a month to pay for all those."

Ron went as red as Ginny. He started toward Malfoy, but Harry and Hermione grabbed the back of his jacket.

"Ron!" said Mr. Weasley, struggling over with Fred and George. "What are you doing? It's too crowded in here, let's go outside."

"Well, well, well — Arthur Weasley."

It was Mr. Malfoy. He stood with his hand on Draco's shoulder, sneering in just the same way.

"Lucius," said Mr. Weasley, nodding coldly.

"Busy time at the Ministry, I hear," said Mr. Malfoy. "All those raids . . . I hope they're paying you overtime?"

He reached into Ginny's cauldron and extracted, from amid the glossy Lockhart books, a very old, very battered copy of A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration.

"Obviously not," Mr. Malfoy said. "Dear me, what's the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don't even pay you well for it?"

Mr. Weasley flushed darker than either Ron or Ginny.

"We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy," he said.

"Clearly," said Mr. Malfoy, his pale eyes straying to Mr. and Mrs. Granger, who were watching apprehensively. "The company you keep, Weasley . . . and I thought your family could sink no lower —"

There was a thud of metal as Ginny's cauldron went flying; Mr. Weasley had thrown himself at Mr. Malfoy, knocking him backward into a bookshelf. Dozens of heavy spellbooks came thundering down on all their heads; there was a yell of, "Get him, Dad!" from Fred or George; Mrs. Weasley was shrieking, "No, Arthur, no!"; the crowd stampeded backward, knocking more shelves over; "Gentlemen, please — please!" cried the assistant.

Some moments later, they were broke apart by the assistant and a small group of random clients.

Mr. Weasley had a cut lip and Mr. Malfoy had been hit in the eye by an Encyclopedia of Toadstools. He was still holding Ginny's old Transfiguration book. He thrust it at her, his eyes glittering with malice.

"Here, girl — take your book — it's the best your father can give you —" He beckoned to Draco and swept from the shop.

The Weasleys, the Grangers and Harry hurried up the street, the Grangers shaking with fright and Mrs. Weasley beside herself with fury.

"A fine example to set for your children . . . brawling in public . . . what Gilderoy Lockhart must've thought —"

"He was pleased," said Fred. "Didn't you hear him as we were leaving? He was asking that bloke from the Daily Prophet if he'd be able to work the fight into his report — said it was all publicity —"

But it was a subdued group that headed back to the fireside in the Leaky Cauldron, where Harry, the Weasleys, and all their shopping would be traveling back to the Burrow using Floo powder. They said good-bye to the Grangers, who were leaving the pub for the Muggle street on the other side.

"Alright, kids. Who's going to use the floo first?" said Mr. Weasley.

"Me." Harry rushed to say, determined to show he could do things alone. Before Fred or George could offer to accompany him, Harry took a handful of floo powder and shouted "The Burrow!"

A.N.: I know this chapter has plenty of J.K. Rowling's writing, but it was necessary. The changes in Harry's life are going to be more noticeable as time passes.