The next day however Harry barely smiled once. Things went down hill from breakfast in the Great Hall. Harry and Ron entered alone because Hermione had left without them. They walked along the table that was full of the usual delicious food and found Hermione eating her breakfast while she read her copy of Voyages With Vampires propped up against a milk jug.
They sat down on either side of her, with Neville and Dean across from them.
"Morning, 'Mione." Harry said tentatively
"Morning..." She replied stiffly "And don't call me 'Mione." Harry sighed, she was clearly still angry with them about the way they had arrived.
"Mail should be coming any minute." Neville said cheerfully "I think Gran's sending a few thing I've forgotten." And sure enough a few moments later there was the sound of wings and screeches and a large flock of about one hundred owls made there way into the hall. Harry looked around and saw Hedwig soaring towards them. She landed on Harry's shoulder, gripping it rather harder than she normally would have done. Harry winced Hedwig dropped a letter on Harry's lap. He picked it up and saw that it was addressed to him and Ron from Mrs. Weasley. Hedwig had apparently been so annoyed about the horrible car ride that she'd flown all the way back to the Burrow to get this.
"Traitor." Harry muttered to her she squeezed his shoulder again and batted him with her wing as she took off. Harry sighed and looked at Ron.
"Let's get this over with" Ron grumbled.
Harry slit the letter open and unfolded it, the boys put their heads together and nervously read the letter:
Ronald Billius Weasley, Harry James Potter,
How dare you steal the car! I am disgusted. I'm amazed you weren't expelled! You could have died! I suppose you two didn't stop to think what your father and I went through when we saw that it was gone! Your father is now facing an inquiry at work and it's your faults! I've never been more disappointed in you two and if you don't toe the line we'll bring you right home! And be prepared because once school is out you're both taking over everyone's chores on your own for a month!
Harry felt horrible as they finished reading the letter. Mr. Weasley..the man he now considered his father..in trouble at work. Because of him. He felt dirty, especially after all the Weasleys had done to save him. He hung his head in shame.
Ron, on the other hand was more focused on their punishment
"All the chores for a month.." He complained "Great..really great.."
"Well I don't know what you expected, guys but-" Hermione said
"Don't say we deserved it." Harry and Ron snapped together.
Harry pushed the rest of his porridge away. His insides were too full of hot bubbling shame to even consider eating anymore. He didn't have long to dwell however because Professor McGonagall was now walking down the Gryffindor table handing out course schedules they looked over them and saw that they had double Herbology with the Hufflepuffs first.
Harry, Ron and Hermione left the castle together and headed to the greenhouses, at lest the letter from Mrs. Weasley had done one good thing. Hermione now seemed to think they'd gotten into enough trouble now and was being perfectly friendly again, even taking their hands as they headed across the sloping lawns. As they neared the greenhouses they saw the rest of the class standing there waiting for Professor Sprout. As the trio joined the crowd of students Professor Sprout came striding up the lawn she was accompanied by Lockhart. Her arms were full of bandages and with another twinge of guilt Harry spotted the whomping willow in the distance, several of its branches were now in slings.
Professor Sprout was a dumpy little witch who usually had a lot of earth on her clothes and wore a patched hat over her flyaway hair. She looked even shabbier than usual because she was beside Lockhart who was looking immaculate in turquoise robes and wearing his usual dazzling smile.
"Hello, hello!" He said happily when he spotted the class "I've just been showing Professor Sprout how to doctor a whomping willow, but don't go thinking that I know more about Herbology than she does, I just so happen to have met a few of these exotic plants on my travels."
"Green house three today, chappies." Said professor Sprout, sounding distinctly ruffled and not at all her usual cheery self. The class muttered excitedly together they knew that greenhouse three housed more interesting and dangerous plants. They had only even been in greenhouse one before. Professor Sprout got out her key ring and unlocked the greenhouse door. A smell of damp earth and fertilizer met their nostrils, the class began to file inside. Harry went to enter behind Ron and Hermione when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He flinched and stiffened up as he always did when he was touched by someone other than Ron, Hermione, his family or his Dormmates. He spun around to see who it was and, to his dismay, it was Lockhart.
"Harry, I've been meaning to have a word with you. You won't mind if he's a few minutes late will you, Professor Sprout?"
Judging by the scowl Professor Sprout gave him she did mind but Lockhart simply said "Excellent." and closed the greenhouse door in her face.
"Harry.." Said Lockhart, flashing him a toothy grin "Harry, Harry, Harry.."
Harry, totally confused and not happy to be around Lockhart again at the cost of missing the start of an interesting lesson, didn't say a word.
"When I heard..I could have kicked myself..." Lockhart continued, Harry still had no idea what he was talking about so he remained silent, edging a bit closer to the greenhouse door.
"Flying a car to Hogwarts don't know when I've been more shocked. Of course I knew right away why you did it, stood out by a mile. Oh Harry, Harry, Harry."
Harry stopped trying to go for the door and looked at Lockhart, he finally found his voice.
"I don't know what you mean Professor.." he sad, as casually as possible although he was starting to get annoyed.
"I gave you the taste for publicity. You made the front page with me and couldn't wait to do it again!" Lockhart chuckled, flashing his teeth in a smile
"No...It was just that-"
"Harry, I understand. Only natural to want a bit more once you've had the first taste...but see here, young man on doesn't simply start flying cars around to get yourself noticed. Plenty of time for all that when you're older. I know that's something coming from an already internationally famous wizard but when I was your age I was just as much of a nobody as you are now, in fact I would say I was more of a nobody. I mean a few people have heard of you haven't they...that business with you-know-who after all!" His eyes flashed to Harry's scar and Harry raised a hand to flatten his hair to cover it. He was liking Lockhart less and less, Lockhart ignored Harry's discomfort and continued his speech
"I know it may not be as good as winning witch weekly's most charming smile award but it's a start."
He patted Harry on the shoulder, making him flinch again and walked off. Harry stood there stunned for a moment before remembering he was supposed to be in the greenhouses. He angrily pulled the door open and stalked inside. Whatever Lockhart's problem was Harry wanted nothing to do with him.