He was finding the scratching noise from behind him very distracting.
'I don't think so,' said Harry, shrugging.
Harry moved so quickly that, had he been solid, he would have knocked desks flying. Instead he seemed to slide, dreamlike, across two aisles and up a third. The back of the black-haired boy's head drew nearer and . . . he was straightening up now, putting down his quill, pulling his roll of parchment towards him so as to reread what he had written . . .
Harry looked over his shoulder, his heart now pumping harder and faster than ever. How long would it take Snape to release Montague from the toilet? Would he come straight back to his office afterwards, or accompany Montague to the hospital wing? Surely the latter . . . Montague was Captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team, Snape would want to make sure he was all right.
'Well,' said Ginny slowly, helping herself to a bit of egg, too, 'if you really want to talk to Sirius, I expect we could think of a way to do it.'
'Hey,' said a voice in Harry's ear. He looked round; Fred and George had come to join them. 'Ginny's had a word with us about you,' said Fred, stretching out his legs on the table in front of them and causing several booklets on careers with the Ministry of Magic to slide off on to the floor. 'She says you need to talk to Sirius?'
'D'you think you managed to get all the signs?' said James in tones of mock concern.
'I'm sorry!' said Hermione, with her hands over her mouth. I'm really sorry, Harry. I thought you'd finished, so I cleared up!'
Harry was too incensed to speak. He strode back to his cauldron, intending to fill another flask and force Snape to mark it, but saw to his horror that the rest of the contents had vanished.
'Well, we think we can find a way around that,' said George, stretching and smiling. 'It's a simple matter of causing a diversion. Now, you might have noticed that we have been rather quiet on the mayhem front during the Easter holidays?'
And there he was, at a table right behind Harry. Harry stared. Snape-the-teenager had a stringy, pallid look about him, like a plant kept in the dark. His hair was lank and greasy and was flopping on to the table, his hooked nose barely half an inch from the surface of the parchment as he scribbled. Harry moved around behind Snape and read the heading of the examination paper: DEFENCE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS - ORDINARY WIZARDING LEVEL.
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'Potter has no chance whatsoever of becoming an Auror!'
'Apologise to Evans!' James roared at Snape, his wand pointed threateningly at him.
'All right, Evans?' said James, and the tone of his voice was suddenly pleasant, deeper, more mature.
'LEAVE HIM ALONE!' Lily shouted. She had her own wand out now. James and Sirius eyed it warily.
Harry looked at her. Perhaps it was the effect of the chocolate - '- Lupin had always advised eating some after encounters with Dementors - or simply because he had finally spoken aloud the wish that had been burning inside him for a week, but he felt a bit more hopeful.
He did not answer; he did not know what to do.
'But it's business as usual from tomorrow,' Fred continued briskly. 'And if we're going to be causing a bit of uproar, why not do it so that Harry can have his chat with Sirius?'