He was falling down steep stone step after steep stone step, bouncing on every tier until at last, with a crash that knocked all the breath out of his body, he landed flat on his back in the sunken p t where the stone archway stood on its dais. The whole room was ringing with the Death Eater's laughter: he looked up and saw the five who had been in the Brain Room descending towards him, while as many more emerged through other doorways and began leaping from bench to bench towards him. Harry got to his feet though his legs were trembling so badly they barely supported him: the prophecy was still miraculously unbroken in his left hand, his wand clutched tightly in his right. He backed away, looking around, trying to keep all the Death Eaters within his sight. The back of his legs hit something solid: he had reached the dais where the archway stood. He climbed backwards onto it.
But the Death Eater Hermione had just struck dumb made a sudden slashing movement with his wand; a streak of what looked like purple flame passed right across Hermione's chest. She gave a tiny 'Oh!' as though of surprise and crumpled on to the floor, where she lay motionless.
He did not believe it; he would not believe it; still he fought Lupin with every bit of strength he had. Lupin did not understand; people hid behind that curtain; Harry had heard them whispering the first time he had entered the room. Sirius was hiding, simply lurking out of sight - '
'Dumbledore never told you the reason you bear that scar was hidden in the bowels of the Department of Mysteries?' Malfoy sneered.
'And why did he want to steal a prophecy about me?'
Neville had slid down the stone benches one by one to the place where Harry stood. Harry was no longer struggling against Lupin, who maintained a precautionary grip on his arm nevertheless.
The Death Eater keeled over backwards and his mask slipped off: it was Macnair, Buckbeak's would-be killer, one of his eyes now swollen and bloodshot.
- CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX -
Luna gestured hopelessly at Ginny, who was breathing in a very shallow way, her eyes still closed.
He stood up and seized one of Hermione's arms, glaring at Harry, who hesitated, then grabbed the other and helped hoist Hermione's limp form over Neville's shoulders.
'You can't hurt a baby!'
'So which way d'you reck-?'
'Come out, come out, little Harry!' she called in her mock baby voice, which echoed off the polished wooden floors. 'What did you come after me for, then? I thought you were here to avenge my dear cousin!'
'Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy?' she yelled. She had abandoned her baby voice now. 'You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain - to enjoy it - righteous anger won't hurt me for long - I'll show you how it is done, shall I? I'll give you a lesson - '
'Wait,' said Harry, snatching up Hermione's wand from the floor and shoving it into Neville's hand, 'you'd better take this.'
A whine of panic inside his head was preventing him thinking properly: he had one hand on Hermione's shoulder, which was still warm, yet did not dare look at her properly. Don't let her be dead, don't let her be dead, it's my fault if she's dead . . .
The two figures that had burst from the shattered spheres had melted into thin air. Nothing remained of them or their erstwhile homes but fragments of glass upon the floor. They had, however, given Harry an idea. The problem was going to be conveying it to the others.
She aimed a curse over her shoulder. The tank rose into the air and tipped. Harry was deluged in the foul-smelling potion within: the brains slipped and slid over him and began spinning their long coloured tentacles, but he shouted, "Wingardium Leviosa!' and they flew off him up into the air. Slipping and sliding, he ran on towards the door; he leapt over Luna, who was groaning on the floor, past Ginny, who said, 'Harry - what - ?', past Ron, who giggled feebly, and Hermione, who was still unconscious. He wrenched open the door into the circular black hall and saw Bellatrix disappearing through a door on the other side of the room; beyond her was the corridor leading back to the lifts.