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“Very well. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is coming,” she told the other teachers. Sprout and Flitwick gasped; Slughorn let out a low groan. “Potter has work to do in the castle on Dumbledore’s orders. We need to put in place every protection of which we are capable while Potter does what he needs to do.”

“You realize, of course, that nothing we do will be able to keep out You-Know-Who indefinitely?” squeaked Flitwick.

“But we can hold him up,” said Professor Sprout.

“Thank you, Pomona,” said Professor McGonagall, and between the two witches there passed a look of grim understanding. “I 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.”

“Agreed,” said Professor Sprout, already hurrying toward the door. “I shall meet you in the Great Hall in twenty minutes with my House.”

And as she jogged out of sight, they could hear her muttering, “Tentacula. Devil’s Snare. And Snargaluff pods . . . yes, I’d like to see the Death Eaters fighting those.”

“I can act from here,” 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.








“Professor,” Harry said, approaching the little Charms master, “Professor, I’m sorry to interrupt, but this is important. Have you got any idea where the diadem of Ravenclaw is?”

“— Protego Horribilis — the diadem of Ravenclaw?” squeaked Flitwick. “A little extra wisdom never goes amiss, Potter, but I hardly think it would be much use in this situation!”

“I only meant — do you know where it is? Have you ever seen it?”

“Seen it? Nobody has seen it in living memory! Long since lost, boy!”

Harry felt a mixture of desperate disappointment and panic. What, then, was the Horcrux?

“We shall meet you and your Ravenclaws in the Great Hall, Filius!” said Professor McGonagall, beckoning to Harry and Luna to follow her.

They had just reached the door when Slughorn rumbled into speech.

“My word,” he puffed, pale and sweaty, his walrus mustache aquiver. “What a to-do! I’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 most grievous peril —”

“I shall expect you and the Slytherins in the Great Hall in twenty minutes, also,” said Professor McGonagall. “If 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.”










“Minerva!” he said, aghast.

“The time has come for Slytherin House to decide upon its loyalties,” interrupted Professor McGonagall. “Go and wake your students, Horace.”

Harry did not stay to watch Slughorn splutter: He and Luna ran after Professor McGonagall, who had taken up a position in the middle of the corridor and raised her wand.

“Piertotum — oh, for heaven’s sake, Filch, not now —”

The aged caretaker had just come hobbling into view, shouting, “Students out of bed! Students in the corridors!”

“They’re supposed to be, you blithering idiot!” shouted McGonagall. “Now go and do something constructive! Find Peeves!”

“P-Peeves?” stammered Filch as though he had never heard the name before.

“Yes, Peeves, you fool, Peeves! Haven’t you been complaining about him for a quarter of a century? Go and fetch him, at once!”

Filch evidently thought Professor McGonagall had taken leave of her senses, but hobbled away, hunch-shouldered, muttering under his breath.

“And now — Piertotum Locomotor!” 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.

“Hogwarts is threatened!” shouted Professor McGonagall. “Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!”

Clattering and yelling, the horde of moving statues stampeded

SEVERUS SNAPE 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.

“Now, Potter,” said McGonagall, “you and Miss Lovegood had better return to your friends and bring them to the Great Hall — I shall rouse the other Gryffindors.”

They parted at the top of the next staircase, Harry and Luna running 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.

“That was Potter!”

“Harry Potter!”

“It was him, I swear, I just saw him!”









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.

“Wh — ?”

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.

“Harry, what’s happening?” said Lupin, meeting him at the foot of the stairs.

“Voldemort’s on his way, they’re barricading the school — Snape’s run for it — What are you doing here? How did you know?”

“We sent messages to the rest of Dumbledore’s Army,” Fred explained. “You couldn’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.”

“What first, Harry?” called George. “What’s going on?”

“They’re evacuating the younger kids and everyone’s meeting in the Great Hall to get organized,” Harry said. “We’re fighting.”









There was a great roar and a surge toward the foot of the stairs; he was pressed back against the wall as they ran past him, the mingled members of the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore’s Army, and Harry’s old Quidditch team, all with their wands drawn, heading up into the main castle.

“Come on, Luna,” 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.

“You’re underage!” Mrs. Weasley shouted at her daughter as Harry approached. “I won’t permit it! The boys, yes, but you, you’ve got to go home!”

“I won’t!”

Ginny’s hair flew as she pulled her arm out of her mother’s grip.

“I’m in Dumbledore’s Army —”

“A teenagers’ gang!”

“A teenagers’ gang that’s about to take him on, which no one else has dared to do!” said Fred.








“She’s sixteen!” shouted Mrs. Weasley. “She’s not old enough! What you two were thinking, bringing her with you —”

Fred and George looked slightly ashamed of themselves.


“Mum’s right, Ginny,” said Bill gently. “You can’t do this. Everyone underage will have to leave, it’s only right.”

“I can’t go home!” Ginny shouted, angry tears sparkling in her eyes. “My whole family’s here, I can’t stand waiting there alone and not knowing and —”

Her eyes met Harry’s for the first time. She looked at him beseechingly, but he shook his head and she turned away bitterly.

“Fine,” she said, staring at the entrance to the tunnel back to the Hog’s Head. “I’ll say good-bye now, then, and —”

There was a scuffling and a great thump: Someone else had clambered out of the tunnel, overbalanced slightly, and fallen. He pulled himself up on the nearest chair, looked around through lopsided horn-rimmed glasses, and said, “Am I too late? Has it started? I only just found out, so I — I —”








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, “So — ’ow eez leetle Teddy?”

Lupin blinked at her, startled. The silence between the Weasleys seemed to be solidifying, like ice.

“I — oh yes — he’s fine!” Lupin said loudly. “Yes, Tonks is with him — at her mother’s —”

Percy and the other Weasleys were still staring at one another, frozen.

“Here, I’ve got a picture!” 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.

“I was a fool!” Percy roared, so loudly that Lupin nearly dropped his photograph. “I was an idiot, I was a pompous prat, I was a — a —”

“Ministry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry moron,” said Fred.

Percy swallowed.









“Yes, I was!”

“Well, you can’t say fairer than that,” said Fred, holding out his hand 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.

“I’m sorry, Dad,” Percy said.

Mr. Weasley blinked rather rapidly, then he too hurried to hug his son.

“What made you see sense, Perce?” inquired George.

“It’s been coming on for a while,” said Percy, mopping his eyes under his glasses with a corner of his traveling cloak. “But I had to find a way out and it’s not so easy at the Ministry, they’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.”

“Well, we do look to our prefects to take a lead at times such as these,” said George in a good imitation of Percy’s most pompous manner. “Now let’s get upstairs and fight, or all the good Death Eaters’ll be taken.”









“So, you’re my sister-in-law now?” said Percy, shaking hands with Fleur as they hurried off toward the staircase with Bill, Fred, and George.

“Ginny!” barked Mrs. Weasley.


Ginny had been attempting, under cover of the reconciliation, to sneak upstairs too.

“Molly, how about this,” said Lupin. “Why doesn’t Ginny stay here, then at least she’ll be on the scene and know what’s going on, but she won’t be in the middle of the fighting?”

“I —”

“That’s a good idea,” said Mr. Weasley firmly. “Ginny, you stay in this room, you hear me?”

Ginny did not seem to like the idea much, but under her father’s unusually stern gaze, she nodded. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Lupin headed off for the stairs as well.








“Where’s Ron?” asked Harry. “Where’s Hermione?”

“They must have gone up to the Great Hall already,” Mr. Weasley called over his shoulder.

“I didn’t see them pass me,” said Harry.

“They said something about a bathroom,” said Ginny, “not long after you left.”

“A bathroom?”

Harry strode across the room to an open door leading off the Room of Requirement and checked the bathroom beyond. It was empty.

“You’re sure they said bath — ?”

But then his scar seared and the Room of Requirement vanished: He was looking through the high wrought-iron gates with winged boars 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.









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