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Fred and George managed to knock Ginny down two flights of stairs. She's fine, but Mrs. Weasley is in a foul mood.
Moody is also worried because he wants there to be more guards to accompany Harry to Hogwarts. Sturgis Podmore is supposed to be there, but he has not turned up.
Sirius decides to accompany Harry in his Snuffles (i.e. dog) form even if it isn't totally safe.
Mrs. Weasley looks mad at this decision, but Sirius is delighted to be out of the house: "the great black dog gave a joyful back and gambolled around them, snapping at pigeons and chasing its own tail" (10.24)).
Harry's spirits are rising. He's going back to Hogwarts!
On the train, Harry asks Hermione, Ginny and Ron if they want to find a compartment.
Hermione and Ron look uncomfortable.
They have to go to the prefects' car on the train.
So Harry, Ginny, and Neville Longbottom (another of Harry's Gryffindor House friends) find the last seats on the train.
They sit next to a weird-looking Ravenclaw House student, Luna Lovegood.
She has "straggly, waist-length, dirty blond hair, very pale eyebrows, and protuberant eyes that gave her a permanently surprised look" (10.66).
She is reading a magazine called The Quibbler upside down.
Neville shows the group a birthday present he received: a grey plant covered with boils which is called a Mimbulus mimbletonia. (Neville's favorite subject is botany.)
He tells everyone, "It's got an amazing defensive mechanism" (10.88).
Neville pokes one of the plant's boils, and the plant explodes in "thick, stinking, dark green jets" (10.90) of liquid.
Harry "received a faceful" (10.90) of the stuff.
As luck would have it, just then, Cho Chang, a fifth-year Ravenclaw who Harry has a crush on, walks into their train compartment.
Covered in Stinksap, Harry manages to say, "Oh ... hi" (10.96).
Cho answers awkwardly, "Well ... just thought I'd say hello ... bye then" (10.97). And that's that.
Ginny cleans the Stinksap off Harry's face.
Ron and Hermione appear at last, with news about the prefects for the other houses.
Of course, the Slytherin House Prefect is Draco Malfoy, along with "that complete cow" (10.108) Pansy Parkinson.
Ron is sure that Draco is going to abuse his authority.
Ron makes a small joke. Luna Lovegood bursts out laughing incredibly loudly, which makes everyone else a bit uncomfortable.
Luna drops her Quibbler in her hysterical mirth.
Harry gets a look at the paper for the first time.
It's a tabloid like the National Enquirer.
The paper contains an article on Sirius Black, in which someone claims Black must be innocent because he is actually, "Stubby Boardman, lead singer of popular singing group The Hobgoblins" (10.138).
The Quibbler also claims that Fudge has ordered goblins to be baked into pies and that the Tutshill Tornados "were winning the Quidditch League by a combination of blackmail, illegal broom-tampering, and torture" (10.144).
Hermione tells Harry, "The Quibbler's rubbish, everyone knows that" (10.146).
Luna suddenly sounds very intent when she says, "Excuse me [...] my father's the editor" (10.147).
Hermione is clearly mortified.
Draco Malfoy comes into their compartment with his two cronies, Crabbe and Goyle.
Now that he's a prefect, he tells Harry, "Manners, Potter, or I'll have to give you a detention [...] You see, I, unlike you, have been made a prefect, which means that I, unlike you, have the power to hand out punishments" (10.152).
Draco then warns Harry, "Well, just watch yourself, Potter, because I'll be dogging your footsteps in case you step out of line" (10.157).
Harry hears that emphasis on "dogging" and suddenly worries that Draco recognizes Sirius's dog form.
The train starts to slow down. They're arriving at school.
Harry expects to be met by Hagrid, the Hogwarts groundskeeper, who meets the train every year to bring the first years to the Great Hall.
But this year, there is no Hagrid.
Harry sees Professor Grubbly-Plank, Hagrid's substitute teacher for Care of Magical Creatures, arriving to collect the first years.
That's not Harry's only surprise.
Harry sees that the Hogwarts carriages — which Harry had always assumed were horseless — are now being drawn by these weird, skeletal, horse-like things. They have giant bat wings, too. But no one else seems to notice these animals.
Even though Ron looks one right in the face, he still can't see it.
Luna reassures Harry, "I've been able to see them ever since my first day here. They've always pulled the carriages. Don't worry. You're just as sane as I am" (10.214).
Given Luna's weird behavior on the train, Harry does not find this comforting.