They looked at each other for a moment, then Hermione pulled the newspaper back towards her, closed it, glared for a moment at the pictures of the ten escaped Death Eaters on the front, then leapt to her feet.
The shadowy room was lined with shelves bearing hundreds of glass jars in which slimy bits of animals and plants were suspended in variously coloured potions. In one corner stood the cupboard full of ingredients that Snape had once accused Harry - not without reason - of robbing. Harry's attention was drawn towards the desk, however, where a shallow stone basin engraved with runes and symbols lay in a pool of candlelight. Harry recognised it at once - it was Dumbledore's Pensieve. Wondering what on earth it was doing there, he jumped when Snape's cold voice came out of the shadows.
Maniacal laughter was ringing in his ears . . . he was happier than he had been in a very long time . . . jubilant, ecstatic, triumphant . . . a wonderful, wonderful thing had happened . . .
Harry's question was answered the very next morning. When Hermione's Daily Prophet arrived she smoothed it out, gazed for a moment at the front page and gave a yelp that caused everyone in the vicinity to stare at her.
Those who came from wizarding families had grown up hearing the names of these Death Eaters spoken with almost as much fear as Voldemorts; the crimes they had committed during the days of Voldemort's reign of terror were legendary. There were relatives cf their victims among the Hogwarts students, who now found themselves the unwilling objects of a gruesome sort of reflected fame as they walked the corridors: Susan Bones, whose uncle, aunt and cousins had all died at the hands of one of the ten, said miserably during Herbology that she now had a good idea what it felt like to be Harry.
'Yes, sir,' said Harry impatiently, 'but how do you know - '?
I expect anyone would feel snaky if they'd had their mind attacked over and over again,' said Hermione sympathetically. 'Look, let's get back to the common room, we'll be a bit more comfortable there.'
'Look after yourselves,' said Lupin, shaking hands all round and reaching Harry last. 'And listen . . .' he lowered his voice while the rest of them exchanged last-minute goodbyes with Tonks, 'Harry, I know you don't like Snape, but he is a superb Occlumens and we all - Sirius included - want you to learn to protect yourself, so work hard, all right?'
that is not strictly related to the subjects they are paid to teach.
'Of course,' she breathed.
'Of course,' she breathed.
It had been evening the last time Harry had travelled by Knight Bus and its three decks had been full of brass bedsteads. Now, in the early morning, it was crammed with an assortment of mismatched chairs grouped haphazardly around windows. Some of these appeared to have fallen over when the bus stopped abruptly in Grimmauld Place; a few witches and wizards were still getting to their feet, grumbling, and somebody's shopping bag had slid the length of the bus: an unpleasant mixture of frogspawn, cockroaches and custard creams was scattered all over the floor.
It was not only the students' mood that had changed. It was now quite common to come across two or three teachers conversing in low, urgent whispers in the corridors, breaking off their conversations the moment they saw students approaching.
'What now?' said Harry quickly; he was feeling jumpy.
'And why does Professor Dumbledore think I need it, sir?' said Harry looking directly into Snape's eyes and wondering whether Snape would answer.
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To send a letter,' said Hermione, swinging her bag on to her shoulder. 'It . . . well, I don't know whether . . . but it's worth trying . . . and I'm the only one who can.'
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'It's not weird at all, it makes perfect sense,' said Hermione. 'It will be something top secret that the Ministry has been developing, I expect . . . Harry, are you sure you're all right?'
He glanced up at the staff table. It was a different story there: Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall were deep in conversation, both looking extremely grave. Professor Sprout had the Prophet propped against a bottle of ketchup and was reading the front page with such concentration that she was not noticing the gentle drip o egg yolk falling into her lap from her stationary spoon. Meanwhile, at the far end of the table, Professor Umbridge was tucking into a bowl of porridge. For once her pouchy toad's eyes were not sweeping the Great Hall looking for misbehaving students. She scowled as she gulped down her food and every now and then she shot a malevolent glance up the table to where Dumbledore and McGonagall were talking so intently.
Harry got to his feet, feeling nervous. They faced each other with the desk between them.