'No,' Harry lied defiantly. He walked away from them, looking around, with Hedwig nestled contentedly on his shoulder, but this room was not likely to raise his spirits. It was dank and dark. A blank stretch of canvas in an ornate picture frame was all that relieved the bareness of the peeling walls, and as Harry passed it he thought he heard someone, who was lurking out of sight, snigger.
But before he knew it, Harry was shouting.
'Tonks!' cried Mrs Weasley in exasperation, turning to look behind her.
'Hasn't anyone told you? This was my parents' house,' said Sirius. 'But I'm the last Black left, so it's mine now. I offered it to Dumbledore for Headquarters - about the only useful thing I've been able to do.'
'What's happened?' Harry said.
'Boys,' Mr Weasley said, lifting the stew back into the middle of the table, 'your mother's right, you re supposed to show a sense f responsibility now you've come of age - '
'Not cover to cover,' said Harry defensively. 'If they were going to report anything about Voldemort it would be headline news, wouldn't it?'
'Yeah, I have!' said Harry.
'Bet Percy loved that.'
'Personally, I'd have welcomed a Dementor attack. A deadly struggle for my soul would have broken the monotony nicely. You think you've had it bad, at least you've been able to get out and about, stretch your legs, get into a few fights . . . I've been stuck inside for a month.'
'Beg pardon, Molly,' said Mundungus at once, wiping his eyes and winking at Harry. 'But, you know, Will nicked 'em orf Warty Harris in the first place so I wasn't really doing nothing wrong.'
Mr Weasley, Bill and Lupin were having an intense discuss on about goblins.
'Filth! Scum! By-products of dirt and vileness! Half-breeds, mutants, freaks, begone from this place! How dare you befoul the house of my fathers - '
'Eh?' said Mundungus, peering bale fully at Harry through his matted ginger hair. 'Blimey, so 'e 'as. Yeah . . . you all right, 'Airy?'
She turned to the gang of wizards behind him and whispered urgently, 'He's just arrived, the meeting's started.'
'I'm coming to that. Dad reckons Fudge only wants Percy in his office because he wants to use him to spy on the family - and Dumbledore.'
'Crookshanks,' said Ginny unblushingly. 'He loves playing with them.'
'But Percy must know Voldemort's back,' said Harry slowly. 'He's not stupid, he must know your mum and dad wouldn't risk everything without proof.'