'Big and wearing cloaks,' repeated Madam Bones coolly, while Fudge snorted derisively. 'I see. Anything else?'
'A Squib, eh?' said Fudge, eyeing her closely. 'We'll be checking that. You'll leave details of your parentage with my assistant Weasley. Incidentally, can Squibs see Dementors?' he added, looking left and right along the bench.
Kingsley tipped Harry an enormous wink and added, in a whisper, 'Give him the magazine, he might find it interesting.' Then he said in normal tones, 'And don't take too long, Weasley, the delay on that firelegs report held our investigation up for a month.'
He opened the telephone-box door.
There was a click and a rattle, and Harry saw something slide out of the metal chute where returned coins usually appeared. He picked it up: it was a square silver badge with Harry Potter, Disciplinary Hearing on it. He pinned it to the front of his T-shirt as the female voice spoke again.
They got off at a station in the very heart of London, and were swept from the train in a tide of besuited men and women carrying briefcases. Up the escalator they went, through the ticket barrier (Mr Weasley delighted with the way the stile swallowed his ticket), and emerged on to a broad street lined with imposing-looking buildings and already full of traffic.
'And if it's not,' said Sirius grimly, 'I'll see to Amelia Bones for you . . .'
'Visitor to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and present your wand for registration at the security desk, which is located at the far end of the Atrium '
'Thank you,' said the cool female voice. 'Visitor, please take the badge and attach it to the front of your robes.'
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Some of the wizards and witches around her were muttering again; a few nodded, but others were frowning and shaking their heads.
'Eleven inches, phoenix-feather core, been in use four years. That correct?'
'Level Four, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, incorporating Beast, Being and Spirit Divisions, Goblin Liaison Office and Pest Advisory Bureau.
They're out of order,' said Harry, pointing at the sign.
'True,' said Madam Bones. 'Perfectly true.'
'Mr Weasley,' said Harry, as they passed a window through which sunlight was streaming, 'aren't we still underground?'
They went for the boys,' said Mrs Figg, her voice stronger and more confident now, the pink flush ebbing away from her face. 'One of them had fallen. The other was backing away, trying to repel the Dementor. That was Harry. He tried twice and produced only silver vapour. On the third attempt, he produced a Patronus, which charged down the first Dementor and then, with his encouragement, chased the second one away from his cousin. And that . . . that is what happened,' Mrs Figg finished, somewhat lamely.