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â€œI dunno, do I? Shut it!â€œ snarled an uncouth voice that Harry knew was that of the Carrow brother , Amycus, â€Alecto? Alecto? Are you there? Have you got him? Open the door!â€œ.cheap prom dresses.
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â€œALECTO! If he comes, and we havenâ€™t got Potter â€“ dâ€™you want to go the same way as the Malfoys? ANSWER ME!â€œ Amycus bellowed, shaking the door for all he was worth, but still it did not open. The Ravenclaws were all backing away, and some of the most frightened began scampering back up the stair case to their beds. Then, just as Harry was wondering whether he ought not to blast open the door and Stun Amycus before the Death Eater could do anything else, a second, most familiar voice rang out beyond the door..cheap wedding dresses.
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â€œTrying â€“ to getâ€“ through this damned â€“ door!â€ shouted Amycus. â€œGo and get Flitwick! Get him to open it, now!â€
â€œBut isnâ€™t your sister in thereâ€ asked Professor McGonagall. â€œDidnâ€™t Professor Flitwick let her in earlier this evening, at your urgent request? Perhaps she could open the door for you? Then you neednâ€™t wake up half the castle.â€
â€œShe ainâ€™t answering, you old besom! You open it! Darn! Do it, now!â€œ
â€œCertainly, if you wish it,â€œ said Professor McGonagall, with awful coldness, There was a genteel tap of the knocker and the musical voice asked again.
â€œWhere do Vanished objects go?â€
â€œInto non being, which is to say, everything,â€ replied Professor McGonagall.
â€œNicely phrased,â€ replied the eagle door knocker, and the door swung open.
The few Ravenclaws who had remained behind sprinted for the stairs as Amycus burst over the threshold, brandishing his wand. Hunched like his sister, he had a pallid, doughy face and tiny eyes, which fell at once on Alecto, sprawled motionless on the floor. He let out a yell of fury and fear.
â€œWhatâ€™ve they done, the little whelps?â€œ he screamed. â€Iâ€™ll Cruciate the lot of â€˜em till they tell me who did it â€“ and whatâ€™s the Dark Lord going to say?â€œ he shrieked, standing over his sister and smacking himself on the forehead with his fist, â€We havenâ€™t got him, and theyâ€™ve gone and killed her!â€œ
â€œSheâ€™s only Stunned,â€ said Professor McGonagall impatiently, who had stooped down to examine Alecto. â€œSheâ€™ll be perfectly all right.â€
â€œNo she bludgering well wonâ€™t!â€ bellowed Amycus. â€œNot after the Dark Lord gets hold of her! Sheâ€™s gone and sent for him, I felt me Mark burn, and he thinks weâ€™ve got Potter!â€
â€œâ€˜Got Potterâ€™?â€ said Professor McGonagall sharply, â€œWhat do you mean, â€˜got Potterâ€™?â€
â€œHe told us Potter might try and get inside Ravenclaw Tower, and to send for him if we caught him!â€
â€œWhy would Harry Potter try to get inside Ravenclaw Tower! Potter belongs in my House!â€
Beneath the disbelief and anger, Harry heard a little strain of pride in her voice and affection for Minerva McGonagall gushed up inside him.
â€œWe was told he might come in here!â€ said Carrow. â€œI dunno why, do I?â€
Professor McGonagall stood up and her beady eyes swept the room. Twice they passed right over the place where Harry and Luna stood.
â€œWe can push it off on the kids,â€ said Amycus, his pig like face suddenly crafty. â€œYeah, thatâ€™s what weâ€™ll do. Weâ€™ll say Alecto was ambushed by the kids, them kids up thereâ€ â€“ he looked up at the starry ceiling toward the dormitories â€“ â€œ and weâ€™ll say they forced her to pres her Mark, and thatâ€™s why he got a false alarmâ€¦. He can punish them. Couple of kids more or less, whatâ€™s the difference?â€
â€œOnly the difference between truth and lie, courage and cowardice,â€œ said Professor McGonagall, who had turned pale, â€a difference, in short, which you and your sister seem unable to appreciate. But let me make one thing very clear. You are not going to pass off your many ineptitudes on the students of Hogwarts. I shall not permit it.â€œ
Amycus moved forward until he was offensively close to Professor McGonagall, his face within inches of hers. She refused to back away, but looked down at him as if he were something disgusting she had found stuck to the lavatory seat.
â€œItâ€™s not a case of what youâ€™ll permit, Minerva McGonagall. Your timeâ€™s over. Itâ€™s us whatâ€™s in charge here now, and youâ€™ll back me up or youâ€™ll pay the price.â€œ
And he spat in her face.
Harry pulled the Cloak off himself, raised his wand, and said, â€œYou shouldnâ€™t have done that.â€
As Amycus spun around, Harry shouted, â€œCrucio!â€
The Death Eater was lifted off his feet. He writhed through the air like a drowning man, thrashing and howling in pain, and then, with a crunch and a shattering of glass, he smashed into the front of a bookcase and crumpled, insensible, to the floor. â€œI see what Bellatrix meant,â€ said Harry, the blood thundering through his brain, â€œyou need to really mean it.â€
â€œPotter!â€œ whispered Professor McGonagall, clutching her heart. â€œPotter â€“ youâ€™re here! Whatâ€“? Howâ€“?â€ She struggled to pull herself together. â€œPotter, that was foolish!â€
â€œHe spat at you,â€ said Harry.
â€œPotter, I â€“ that was very â€“ gallant of you â€“ but donâ€™t you realize â€“?â€œ
â€œYeah, I do,â€ Harry assured her. Somehow her panic steadied him. â€œProfessor McGonagall, Voldemortâ€™s on the way.â€
â€œOh, are we allowed to say the name now?â€ asked Luna with an air of interest, pulling off the Invisibility Cloak. The appearance of a second outlaw seemed to overwhelm Professor McGonagall, who staggered backward and fell into a nearby chair, clutching at the neck of her old tartan dressing gown.
â€œI donâ€™t think it makes any difference what we call him,â€ Harry told Luna. â€œHe already knows where I am.â€
In a distant part of Harryâ€™s brain, that part connected to the angry, burning scar, he could see Voldemort sailing fast over the dark lake in the ghostly green boatâ€¦. He had nearly reached the island where the stone basin stoodâ€¦.
â€œYou must flee,â€ whispered Professor McGonagall, â€œNow Potter, as quickly as you can!â€
â€œI canâ€™t,â€ said Harry, â€œThereâ€™s something I need to do. Professor, so you know where the diadem of Ravenclaw is?â€
â€œThe d-diadem of Ravenclaw? Of course not â€“ hasnâ€™t it been lost for centuries?â€œ She sat up a little straighter â€Potter, it was madness, utter madness, for you to enter this castleâ€“â€œ
â€œI had to,â€œ said Harry. â€Professor, thereâ€™s something hidden here that Iâ€™m supposed to find, and it could be the diademâ€“ if I could just speak to Professor Flitwickâ€“â€œ
There was a sound of movement, of clinking glass. Amycus was coming round. Before Harry or Luna could act, Professor McGonagall rose to her feet, pointed her wand at the groggy Death Eater, and said, â€œImperio.â€
Amycus got up, walked over to his sister, picked up her wand, then shuffled obediently to Professor McGonagall and handed it over along with his own. Then he lay down on the floor beside Alecto. Professor McGonagall waved her wand again, and a length of shimmering silver rope appeared out of thin air and snaked around the Carrows, binding them tightly together.
â€œPotter,â€ said Professor McGonagall, turning to face him again with superb indifference to the Carrowsâ€™ predicament. â€œif He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named does indeed know that you are hereâ€“â€
As she said it, a wrath that was like physical pain blazed through Harry, setting his scar on fire, and for a second he looked down upon a basin whose potion had turned clear, and saw that no golden locket lay safe beneath the surfaceâ€“.
â€œPotter, are you all right.â€ said a voice, and Harry came back. He was clutching Lunaâ€™s shoulder to steady himself.
â€œTimeâ€™s running out, Voldemortâ€™s getting nearer, Professor, Iâ€™m acting on Dumbledoreâ€™s orders, I must find what he wanted me to find! But weâ€™ve got to get the students out while Iâ€™m searching the castle â€“ Itâ€™s me Voldemort wants, but he wonâ€™t care about killing a few more or less, not nowâ€“â€œ not now he knows Iâ€™m attacking Horcruxes, Harry finished the sentence in his head.
â€œYouâ€™re acting on Dumbledoreâ€™s orders?â€ she repeated with a look of dawning wonder. Then she drew herself up to her fullest height.
â€œWe shall secure the school against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named while you search for this â€“ this object.â€
â€œIs that possible?â€
â€œI think so,â€ said Professor McGonagall dryly, â€œwe teachers are rather good at magic, you know. I am sure we will be able to hold him off for a while if we all put our best efforts into it. Of course, something will have to be done about Professor Snapeâ€“â€
â€œLet me â€“â€
â€œâ€“and if Hogwarts is about to enter a state of siege, with the Dark Lord at the gates, it would indeed be advisable to take as many innocent people out of the way as possible. With the Floo Network under observation, and Apparition impossible within the groundsâ€“â€œ
â€œThereâ€™s a way,â€ said Harry quickly, and he explained about the passageway leading into the Hogâ€™s Head.
â€œPotter, weâ€™re talking about hundreds of studentsâ€“â€
â€œI know, Professor, but if Voldemort and the Death Eaters are concentrating on the school boundaries they wonâ€™t be interested in anyone whoâ€™s Disapparating out of Hogâ€™s Head.â€
â€œThereâ€™s something in that,â€œ she agreed. She pointed her wand at the Carrows, and a silver net fell upon their bound bodies, tied itself around them, and hoisted them into the air, where they dangled beneath the blue-and-gold ceiling like two large, ugly sea creatures. â€Come. We must alert the other Heads of House. Youâ€™d better put that Cloak back on.â€œ
She marched toward the door, and as she did so she raised her wand. From the tip burst three silver cats with spectacle markings around their eyes. the Patronuses ran sleekly ahead, filling the spiral staircase with silvery light, as Professor McGonagall, Harry, and Luna hurried back down.
Along the corridors they raced, and one by one the Patronuses left them. Professor McGonagallâ€™s tartan dressing gown rustled over the floor, and Harry and Luna jogged behind her under the Cloak.
They had descended two more floors when another set of quiet joined theirs. Harry, whose scar was still prickling, heard them first. He felt in the pouch around his neck for the Marauderâ€™s Map, but before he could take it our, McGonagall too seemed to become aware of their company. She halted, raised her wand ready to duel, and said, â€œWhoâ€™s there?â€
â€œIt is I,â€ said a low voice.
From behind a suit of armor stepped Severus Snape.
Hatred boiled up in Harry at the sight of him. He had forgotten the details of Snapeâ€™s appearance in the magnitude of his crimes, forgotten how his greasy black hair hung in curtains around his thin face, how his black eyes had a dead, cold look. He was not wearing nightclothes, but was dressed in his usual black cloak, and he too was holding his wand ready for a fight.
â€œWhere are the Carrows?â€ he asked quietly.
â€œWherever you told them to be, I expect, Severus,â€ said Professor McGonagall.
Snape stepped nearer, and his eyes flitted over Professor McGonagall into the air around her, as if he knew that Harry was there. Harry held his wand up too, ready to attack.
â€œI was under the impression,â€œ said Snape, â€That Alecto had apprehended an intruder.â€œ
â€œReally?â€ said Professor McGonagall. â€œAnd what gave you that impression?â€
Snape mad a slight flexing movement of his left arm, where the Dark Mark was branded into his skin.
â€œOh, but naturally,â€ said Professor McGonagall. â€œYou Death Eaters have your own private means of communication, I forgot.â€
Snape pretended not to have heard her. His eyes were still probing the air all about her, and he was moving gradually closer, with an air of hardly noticing what he was doing.
â€œI did not know that it was your night to patrol the corridors Minerva.â€œ
â€œYou have some objection?â€
â€œI wonder what could have brought you out of our bed at this late hour?â€
â€œI thought I heard a disturbance,â€ said Professor McGonagall.
â€œReally? But all seems calm.â€
Snape looked into her eyes.
â€œHave you seen Harry Potter, Minerva? Because if you have. I must insistâ€“â€
Professor McGonagall moved faster than Harry could have believed. Her wand slashed through the air and for a split second Harry thought that Snape must crumple, unconscious, but the swiftness of his Shield Charm was such that McGonagall was thrown off balance. She brandished her wand at a touch on the wall and it flew out of its bracket. Harry, about to curse Snape, was forced to pull Luna out of the way of the descending flames, which became a ring of fire that filled the corridor and flew like a lasso at Snapeâ€“ Then it was no longer fire, but a great black serpent that McGonagall blasted to smoke, which re-formed and solidified in seconds to become a swarm of pursuing daggers. Snape avoided them only by forcing the suit of armor in front of him, and with echoing clangs the daggers sank, one after another, into its breastâ€“
â€œMinerva!â€ said a squeaky voice, and looking behind him, still shielding Luna from flying spells, Harry saw Professors Flitwick and Sprout sprinting up the corridor toward them in their nightclothes, with the enormous Professor Slughorn panting along at the rear.
â€œNo!â€ squealed Flitwick, raising his wand. â€œYouâ€™ll do no more murder at Hogwarts!â€
Flitwickâ€™s spell hit the suit of armor behind which Snape had taken shelter. With a clatter it came to life. Snape struggled free of the crushing arms and sent it flying back toward his attackers. Harry and Luna had to dive sideways to avoid it as it smashed into the wall and shattered. When Harry looked up again, Snape was in full flight, McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout all thundering after him. He hurtled through a classroom door and, moments later, he heard McGonagall cry, â€œCoward! COWARD!â€
â€œWhatâ€™s happened, whatâ€™s happened?â€ asked Luna.
Harry dragged her to her feet and they raced along the corridor, trailing the Invisibility Cloak behind them, into the deserted classroom where Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout were standing at a smashed window.
â€œHe jumped,â€ said Professor McGonagall as Harry and Luna ran into the room.
â€œYou mean heâ€™s dead?â€œ Harry sprinted to the window, ignoring Flitwickâ€™s and Sproutâ€™s yells of shock at his sudden appearance.
â€œNo, heâ€™s not dead,â€œ said McGonagall bitterly. â€Unlike Dumbledore, he was still carrying a wandâ€¦ and he seems to have learned a few tricks from his master.â€œ
With a tingle of horror, Harry saw in the distance a huge, bat like shape flying through the darkness toward the perimeter wall.
There were heavy footfalls behind them, and a great deal of puffing. Slughorn had just caught up.
â€œHarry!â€œ he panted, massaging his immense chest beneath his emerald-green silk pajamas. â€œMy dear boyâ€¦ what a surpriseâ€¦Minerva, do please explainâ€¦Severusâ€¦whatâ€¦?â€
â€œOur headmaster is taking a short break,â€œ said Professor McGonagall, pointing at the Snape-shaped hole in the window.
â€œProfessor!â€ Harry shouted his hand on his forehead, He could see the Inferi-filled lake sliding beneath him, and he felt a ghostly green boat bump into the underground shore, and Voldemort lept from it with murder in his heartâ€“
â€œProfessor, weâ€™ve got to barricade the school, heâ€™s coming now!â€œ
â€œVery well. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is coming,â€ she told the other teachers. Sprout and Flitwick gasped. Slughorn let out a low groan. â€œPotter has work to do in the castle on Dumbledoreâ€™s orders. We need to put in place every protection of which we are capable while Potter does what he needs to do.â€
â€œYou realize , of course, that nothing we do will be able to keep out You-Know-Who indefinitely?â€ squeaked Flitwick.
â€œBut we can hold him up.â€ said Professor Sprout.
â€œThank you, Pomona,â€ said Professor McGonagall, and between the two witches there passed a look of grim understanding.
â€œI suggest we establish basic protection around the place, then gather our students and meet in the Great Hall. Most must be evacuated, though if any of those who are over age wish to stay and fight, I think they ought to be given the chance.â€œ
â€œAgreed,â€ said Professor Sprout, already hurrying toward the door. â€œI shall meet you in the Great Hall in twenty minutes with my House.â€
And as she jogged out of sight, they could hear her muttering, â€œTentacula, Devilâ€™s Snare. And Snargaluff podsâ€¦yes, Iâ€™d like to see the Death Eaters fighting those.â€
â€œI can act from here,â€ said Flitwick, and although he could barely see out of it, he pointed his wand through the smashed window and started muttering incantations of great complexity. Harry heard a weird rushing noise, as though Flitwick had unleashed the power of the wind into the grounds.
â€œProfessor,â€ Harry said, approaching the little Charms master. â€œProfessor, Iâ€™m sorry to interrupt, but this is important. Have you got any idea where the diadem of Ravenclaw is?â€
â€œâ€“Protego Horribillis â€“ the diadem of Ravenclaw?â€œ squeaked Flitwick. â€A little extra wisdom never goes amiss, Potter, but I hardly think it would be much use in this situation!â€œ
â€œI only meant â€“ do you know where it is? Have you ever seen it?â€
â€œSeen it! Nobody has seen it in living memory! Long since lost, boy.â€
Harry felt a mixture of desperate disappointment and panic. What, then, was the Horcrux?
â€œWe shall meet you and your Ravenclaws in the Great Hall, Filius!â€œ said Professor McGonagall, beckoning to Harry and Luna to follow her.
They had just reached the door when Slughorn rumbled into speech.
â€œMy word,â€œ he puffed, pale and sweaty, his walrus mustache aquiver. â€What a to-do! Iâ€™m not at all sure whether this is wise, Minerva. He is bound to find a way in, you know, and anyone who has tried to delay him will be in the most grievous perilâ€“â€œ
â€œI shall expect you and the Slytherins in the Great Hall in twenty minutes also.â€ said Professor McGonagall. â€œIf you wish to leave with your students, we shall not stop you. But if any of you attempt to sabotage our resistance or take up arms against us within this castle, then, Horace, we duel to kill.â€
â€œMinerva!â€ he said, aghast.
â€œThe time has come for Slytherin House to decide upon its loyalties,â€œ interrupted Professor McGonagall. â€Go and wake your students, Horace.â€œ
Harry did not stay to watch Slughorn splutter. He and Luna stayed after Professor McGonagall, who had taken up a position in the middle of the corridor and raised her wand.
â€œPiertotumâ€“oh, for heavenâ€™s sake, Filch, not nowâ€“â€œ
The aged caretaker had just come hobbling into view, shouting â€œStudents out of bed! Students in the corridors!â€
â€œTheyâ€™re supposed to be you blithering idiot!â€œ shouted McGonagall. â€Now go and do something constructive! Find Peeves!â€œ
â€œP-Peeves?â€ stammered Filch as though he had never heard the name before.
â€œYes, Peeves, you fool, Peeves! Havenâ€™t you been complaining about him for a quarter of a century? Go and fetch him, at once.â€œ
Filch evidently thought Professor McGonagall had taken leave of her senses, but hobbled away, hunch-shouldered, muttering under his breath.
â€œAnd now â€“ Piertotum Locomator!â€œ cried Professor McGonagall. And all along the corridor the statues and suits of armor jumped down from their plinths, and from the echoing crashes from the floors above and below, Harry knew that their fellows throughout the castle had done the same.
â€œHogwarts is threatened!â€ shouted Professor McGonagall. â€œMan the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!â€
Clattering and yelling, the horde of moving statues stampeded past Harry, some of them smaller, others larger than life. There were animals too, and the clanking suits of armor brandished swords and spiked balls on chains.
â€œNow, Potter,â€ said McGonagall. â€œyou and Miss Lovegood had better return to your friends and bring them to the Great Hall â€“ I shall rouse the other Gryffindors.â€
They parted at the top of the next staircase, Harry and Luna turning back toward the concealed entrance to the Room of Requirement. As they ran, they met crowds of students, most wearing traveling cloaks over their pajamas, being shepherded down to the Great Hall by teachers and prefects.
â€œThat was Potter!â€
â€œIt was him, I swear, I just saw him!â€
But Harry did not look back, and at last they reached the entrance to the Room of Requirement, Harry leaned against the enchanted wall, which opened to admit them, and he and Luna sped back down the steep staircase.
As the room came into view, Harry slipped down a few stairs in shock. It was packed, far more crowded than when he had last been in there. Kingsley and Lupin were looking up at him, as were Oliver Wood, Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet, Bill and Fleur, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.
â€œHarry, whatâ€™s happening?â€ said Lupin, meeting him at the foot of the stairs.
â€œVoldemortâ€™s on his way, theyâ€™re barricading he school â€“ Snapeâ€™s run for it â€“ What are you doing here? How did you know?â€
â€œWe sent messages to the rest of Dumbledoreâ€™s Army,â€œ Fred explained. â€You couldnâ€™t expect everyone to miss the fun, Harry, and the D.A. let the Order of the Phoenix know, and it all kind of snowballed.â€œ
â€œWhat first, Harry?â€ called George. â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€
â€œTheyâ€™re evacuating the younger kids and everyoneâ€™s meeting in the Great Hall to get organized,â€ Harry said. â€œWeâ€™re fighting.â€
There was a great roar and a surge toward the stairs, he was pressed back against he wall as they ran past hi, the mingled members of the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledoreâ€™s Army, and Harryâ€™s old Quidditch team, all with their wands drawn, heading up into the main castle.
â€œCome on, Luna,â€ Dean called as he passed, holding out his free hand, she took it and followed him back up the stairs.
The crowd was thinning. Only a little knot of people remained below in the Room of Requirement, and Harry joined them. Mrs. Weasley was struggling with Ginny. Around them stood Lupin, Fred, George, Bill and Fleur.
â€œYouâ€™re underage!â€ Mrs. Weasley shouted at her daughter as Harry approached â€œI wonâ€™t permit it! The boys, yes, but you, youâ€™ve got to go home!â€
Ginnyâ€™s hair flew as she pulled her arm out of her motherâ€™s grip.
â€œIâ€™m in Dumbledoreâ€™s Armyâ€“â€
â€œA teenagersâ€™ gang!â€
â€œA teenagersâ€™ gang thatâ€™s about to take him on, which no one else has dared to do!â€ said Fred.
â€œSheâ€™s sixteen!â€ shouted Mrs. Weasley. â€œSheâ€™s not old enough! What you two were thinking bringing her with you â€“ â€“ â€
Fred and George looked slightly ashamed of themselves.
â€œMomâ€™s right, Ginny,â€œ said Bill gently. â€You canâ€™t do this. Everyone underage will have to leave, itâ€™s only right.â€œ
â€œI canâ€™t go home!â€ Ginny shouted, angry tears sparkling in her eyes. â€œmy whole familyâ€™s here, I canâ€™t stand waiting there alone and not knowing and â€“â€
Her eyes met Harryâ€™s for the first time. She looked at him beseechingly, but he shook his head and she turned away bitterly.
â€œFine,â€ she said, staring at the entrance to the tunnel back to the Hogâ€™s Head. â€œIâ€™ll say good-by now, then, andâ€“â€
There was a scuffling and a great thump. Someone else had clambered out of the tunnel, overbalanced slightly, and fallen. He pulled himself up no the nearest chair, looked around through lopsided horn-rimmed glasses, and said, â€œAm I too late? Has it started. I only just found out, so I â€“ I â€“â€
Percy spluttered into silence. Evidently he had not expected to run into most of his family. There was a long moment of astonishment, broken by Fleur turning to Lupin and saying, in a wildly transparent attempt to break the tension. â€œSoâ€“ â€˜ow eez leetle Teddy?â€
Lupin blinked at her, startled. The silence between the Weasleys seemed to be solidifying, like ice.
â€œI â€“ oh yes â€“ heâ€™s fine!â€ Lupin said loudly. â€œyes, Tonks is with him â€“ at her motherâ€™s â€“â€
Percy and the other Weasleys were still staring at one another, frozen.
â€œHere, Iâ€™ve got a picture?â€ Lupin shouted, pulling a photograph from inside his jacket and showing it to Fleur and Harry, who saw a tiny baby with a tuft of bright turquoise hair, waving fat fists at the camera.
â€œI was a fool!â€ Percy roared, so loudly that Lupin nearly dropped his photograph. â€œI was an idiot, I was a pompous prat, I was a â€“ a â€“â€
â€œMinistry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry moron,â€ said Fred.
â€œYes, I was!â€
â€œWell, you canâ€™t say fairer than that,â€ said Fred, holding his hand out to Percy.
Mrs. Weasley burst into tears. She ran forward, pushed Fred aside, and pulled Percy into a strangling hug, while he patted her on the back, his eyes on his father.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, Dad,â€ Percy said.
Mr. Weasley blinked rather rapidly, then he too hurried to hug his son.
â€œWhat made you see sense, Perce?â€ inquired George.
â€œItâ€™s been coming on for a while,â€œ said Percy, mopping his eyes under his glasses with a corner of his traveling cloak. â€But I had to find a way out and itâ€™s not so easy at the Ministry, theyâ€™re imprisoning traitors all the time. I managed to make contact with Aberforth and he tipped me off ten minutes ago that Hogwarts was going to make a fight of it, so here I am.â€œ
â€œWell, we do look to our prefects to take a lead at times such as these,â€ said George in a good imitation of Percyâ€™s most pompous manner. â€œNow letâ€™s get upstairs and fight, or all the good Death Eatersâ€™ll be taken.â€
â€œSo, youâ€™re my sister in-law now?â€ Said Percy, shaking hands with Fleur as they hurried off toward the staircase with Bill, Fred, and George.
â€œGinny!â€ barked Mrs. Weasley.
Ginny had been attempting, under cover of the reconciliations to sneak upstairs too.
â€œMolly, how about this,â€ said Lupin. â€œWhy doesnâ€™t Ginny stay here , then at least sheâ€™ll be on the scene and know whatâ€™s going on, but she wonâ€™t be in the middle of the fighting?â€
â€œThatâ€™s a good idea,â€ said Mr. Weasley firmly, â€œGinny, you stay in this room, you hear me?â€
Ginny did not seem to like the idea much, but under her fatherâ€™s unusually stern gaze, she nodded. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Lupin headed off to the stairs as well.
â€œWhereâ€™s Ron?â€ asked Harry, â€œWhereâ€™s Hermione?â€
â€œThey must have gone up the Great Hall already,â€ Mr. Weasley called over his shoulder.
â€œ I didnâ€™t see them pass me,â€ said Harry.
â€œThey said something about a bathroom,â€ said Ginny, â€œnot long after you left.â€
Harry strode across the room to an open door leading off the Room of Requirement and checked the bathroom beyond. It was empty.
â€œYouâ€™re sure they said bathâ€“?â€
But then his scar seared and the Room of Req1uirement vanished. He was looking through the high wrought-iron gates with winged boats on pillars at either side, looking through the dark grounds toward the castle, which was ablaze with lights. Nagini lay draped over his shoulders. He was possessed of that cold, cruel sense of purpose that preceded murder.
The Deathly Hallows
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