“I will,” said Snape. A second tongue of flame shot from the wand and interlinked with the first, making a fine, glowing chain. “And, should it prove necessary…
If it seems Draco will fail. . .” whispered Narcissa (Snape’s hand twitched within hers, but he did not draw away), “will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?” There was a moment’s silence.
Bellatrix watched, her wand upon their clasped hands, her eyes wide. “I will,” said Snape. Bellatrix’s astounded face glowed red in the blaze of a third unique of flame, which shot from the wand, twisted with the others, and bound itself thickly around their clasped hands, like a rope, like a fiery snake. — Albus Dumbledore Though he already knew it by heart, Harry had been stealing glances at this missive every few minutes since seven o’clock that evening, when he had first taken up his position beside his bedroom window, which had a reasonable view of both ends of Privet Drive.
He knew it was pointless to keep rereading Dumbledore’s words; Harry had sent back his “yes” with the delivering owl, as requested, and all he could do now was wait: Either Dumbledore was going to come, or he was not. But Harry had not packed.
It just seemed too good to be true that he was going to be rescued from the Dursleys after a mere fortnight of their company.
He could not shrug off the feeling that something was going to go wrong — his reply to Dumbledore’s letter might have gone astray; Dumbledore could be prevented from collecting him; the letter might turn out not to be from Dumbledore at all, but a trick or joke or trap.
Harry had not been able to face packing and then being let down and having to unpack again.
The only gesture he had made to the possibility of a journey was to shut his snowy owl, Hedwig, safely in her cage. The minute hand on the alarm clock reached the number twelve and, at that precise moment, the street-lamp outside the window went out. Harry awoke as though the sudden darkness were an alarm.
Hastily straightening his glasses and unsticking his cheek from the glass, he pressed his nose against the window instead and squinted down at the pavement.
A tall figure in a long, billowing cloak was walking up the garden path. Harry jumped up as though he had received an electric shock, knocked over his chair, and started snatching anything and everything within reach from the floor and throwing it into the trunk.
Even as he lobbed a set of robes, two spellbooks, and a packet of crisps across the room, the doorbell rang.
Downstairs in the living room his Uncle Vernon shouted, “Who the blaze is calling at this lime of night?” Harry froze with a brass telescope in one hand and a pair of trainers in the other.
He had completely forgotten to warn the Dursleys that Dumbledore might be coming.
Feeling both panicky mid close to laughter, he clambered over the trunk and wrenched open his bedroom door in time to hear a deep voice say, “Good evening.
You must be Mr.
I daresay Harry has told you I would be coming for him?” Harry ran down the stairs two at a time, coming to an abrupt halt several steps from the bottom, as long experience had taught him to remain out of arm’s reach of his uncle whenever possible.
There in the doorway stood a tall, thin man with waist-length silver hair and beard.
Half-moon spectacles were perched on his crooked nose, and he was wearing a long black traveling cloak and .1 pointed hat.
Vernon Dursley, whose mustache was quite as bushy as Dumbledore’s, though black, and who was wearing a puce dressing gown, was staring at the visitor as though he could not believe his tiny eyes. “Judging by your look of stunned disbelief, Harry did not warn you that I was coming,” said Dumbledore pleasantly. “However, let us assume that you have invited me warmly into your house.
It is unwise to linger overlong on doorsteps in these troubled times.” He stepped smartly over the threshold and closed the front door behind him. “It is a long time since my last visit,” said Dumbledore, peering down his crooked nose at Uncle Vernon. “I must say, your agapanthus are flourishing.” Vernon Dursley said nothing at all.
Harry did not doubt that speech would return to him, and soon — the vein pulsing in his uncles temple was reaching danger point — but something about Dumbledore seemed to have robbed him temporarily of breath.
It might have been the blatant wizardishness of his appearance, but it might, too, have been that even Uncle Vernon could sense that here was a man whom it would be very difficult to bully. “Ah, good evening Harry,” said Dumbledore, looking up at him through his half-moon glasses with a most satisfied expression. “Excellent, excellent.” — As Snape swung the lantern about, Harry saw, fleetingly, a look of shock and anger on Tonks’s face.
Then she was covered in darkness once more. “Good night,” Harry called to her over his shoulder, as he began the walk up to the school with Snape. “Thanks for …
Everything,” “See you, Harry.” Snape did not speak for a minute or so.
Harry felt as though his body was generating waves of hatred so powerful that it seemed incredibie that Snape could not feel them burning him.
He had loathed Snape from their first encounter, but Snape had placed himself forever and irrevocably beyond the possibility of Harry’s forgiveness by his attitude toward Sirius.
Whatever Dumbledore said, Harry had had time to think over the summer, and had concluded that Snape’s snide remarks to Sirius about remaining safely hidden while the rest of the Order of the Phoenix were off fighting Voldemort had probably been a powerful factor in Sirius rushing off to the Ministry the night that he had died.
Harry clung to this notion, because it enabled him to blame Snape, which felt satisfying, and also because he knew that if anyone was not sorry that Sirius was dead, it was the man now striding next to him in the darkness. “Fifty points from Gryffindor for lateness, I think,” said Snape. “And, let me see, another twenty for your Muggle attire.
You know, I don’t believe any House has ever been in negative figures this early in the term: We haven’t even started pudding.
You might have set a record, Potter.” The fury and hatred bubbling inside Harry seemed to blaze white-hot, but he would rather have been immobilized all the way back to London than tell Snape why he was late. “I suppose you wanted to make an entrance, did you?” Snape continued. “And with no flying car available you decided that bursting into the Great Hall halfway through the feast ought to create a dramatic effect.” Still Harry remained silent, though he thought his chest might explode.
He knew that Snape had come to fetch him for this, for the few minutes when he could needle and torment Harry without anyone else listening. They reached the castle steps at last and as the great oaken front doors swung open into the vast flagged entrance hall, a burst of talk and laughter and of tinkling plates and glasses greeted them through the doors standing open into the Great Hail.
Harry wondered whether he could slip his Invisibility Cloak back on, thereby gaining his seat at the long Gryffindor table (which, inconveniently, was the farthest from the entrance hall) without being noticed.
As though he had read Harry’s mind, however, Snape said, “No cloak.
You can walk in so that everyone sees you, which is what you wanted, I’m sure.” Harry turned on the spot and marched straight through the open doors: anything to get away from Snape.
The Great Hall with its four long House tables and its staff table set at the top of the room, was decorated as usual with floating candles that made the plates below glitter and glow.
It was ail a shimmering blur to Harry, however, who walked so fast that he was passing the Hufflepuff table before people really started to stare, and by the time they were standing up to get a good look at him, he had spotted Ron and Hermione, sped along the benches toward them, .mil forced his way in between them. “Where’ve you — blimey, what’ve you done to your face?” said Ron, goggling at him along with everyone else in the vicinity. “Why, what’s wrong with it?” said Harry, grabbing a spoon and squinting at his distorted reflection. “You’re covered in blood!” said Hermione. “Come here —”
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