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During breakfast, the Great Hall’s bewitched ceiling seemed to reflect Harry’s mood--clouded, dark, and drizzly. He stared down at his oatmeal, his mind too full of worries to be hungry.

Ron, however, could not be distracted from his appetite. But he was of course still concerned about Harry’s broom, so while wolfing down eggs and sausage, he mused aloud, “You know, I bet Malfoy took your Firebolt, Harry. Everyone knows he hates you, and he’d just love to beat you for the Quidditch cup. He wouldn’t hesitate to cheat!”

Hermione shot him a disapproving glance for his table manners and reasoned, “But Malfoy doesn’t have the password to the common room, where Harry was sure he brought his Firebolt.”

“Er, well--”  But Ron couldn’t think of another way Malfoy could’ve stolen it.

Angelina Johnson, one of Gryffindor’s Chasers, had finished her breakfast and was on her way out of the Great Hall as she called, “See you on the Quidditch pitch, Harry!”

Ron glanced down at his watch. “Blimey, Harry, you’ll be late for practice if you don’t hurry!”

“Thanks, Ron,” said Harry hurriedly as he was jerked out of his silent brooding. He stuffed a piece of toast into his mouth and hurried out onto the grounds.

“How are we going to beat Slytherin tomorrow with you on an ancient school broom?!”
cried Oliver Wood, the captain of the Gryffindor team, hysterically. The Gryffindor team was out on the Quidditch pitch, and Harry had just told them about his Firebolt.

“Calm down, Oliver!” said George Weasley, a Gryffindor Beater and Ron’s older brother, soothingly.

“Harry probably just misplaced it,” continued Fred, George’s twin brother.

“It’ll turn up before the match,” finished George confidently.

“I sure hope so,” muttered Harry to himself. They continued practice with Harry on an old Cleansweep, but it was slow and kept losing altitude. Harry took almost the whole practice to catch the Snitch only once.

And to make it worse, it started to rain. The team trooped back to the locker rooms, soaked and dispirited.

“At least it’s not snowing,” was all Wood could say.

Much too soon for Harry it was the morning of the match. He woke up not long after dawn and couldn’t fall back asleep. Not feeling like getting out of his warm covers, Harry watched Ron’s orange Chudley Cannons pajamas become steadily brighter as the sun climbed in the sky. Finally, Ron awoke too, to find Harry staring at him.

“Bloody hell!” cried Ron, startled, “do you have to do that?!”

“Sorry,” said Harry, “I guess I’m just nervous.”

Ron swung his feet out of bed and Harry slumped down next to him.

“Ron,” Harry said,wriggling uncomfortably, “what’s this thinnish lump in your bed?” Harry ripped off Ron's sheets and found his Firebolt, safe and sound, probably accidentally folded in with the covers by an absent-minded house elf.

“I knew I’d felt something in there!” exclaimed Ron. “And Hermione told me it wasn’t important!”

Harry’s spirits soared.  Slytherin didn’t have a chance, and Malfoy was going down.

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