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Of watered ink, somewhere between night and dawn, and everything was quiet except for

Ron and Hermione’s slow, deep breathing. Harry glanced over at the dark shapes they

Made on the floor beside him. Ron had had a fit of gallantry and insisted that Hermione

Sleep on the cushions from the sofa, so that her silhouette was raised above his. Her arm

curved to the floor, her fingers inches from Ron’s. Harry wondered whether they had

Fallen asleep holding hands. The idea made him feel strangely lonely.

He looked up at the shadowy ceiling, the cobwebbed chandelier. Less than

Twenty-four house ago, he had been standing in the sunlight at the entrance to the

Marquee, waiting to show in wedding guests. It seemed a lifetime away. What was going

to happen now? He lay on the floor and he thought of the Horcruxes, of the daunting

complex mission Dumbledore had left him… Dumbledore…

The grief that had possessed him since Dumbledore’s death felt different now.

The accusations he had heard from Muriel at the wedding seemed to have nested in his

Brain like diseased things, infecting his memories of the wizard he had idolized. Could

Dumbledore have let such things happen? Had he been like Dudley, content to watch

neglect and abuse as long as it did not affect him? Could he have turned his back on a

sister who was being imprisoned and hidden?

Harry thought of Godric’s Hollow, of graves Dumbledore had never mentioned

there; he thought of mysterious objects left without explanation in Dumbledore’s will,

and resentment swelled in the darkness. Why hadn’t Dumbledore told him? Why hadn’t

he explained? Had Dumbledore actually cared about Harry at all? Or had Harry been

nothing more than a tool to be polished and honed, but not trusted, never confided in?

Harry could not stand lying there with nothing but bitter thoughts for company.

Desperate for something to do, for distraction, he slipped out of his sleeping bad, picked

up his wand, and crept out of the room. On the landing he whispered, “Lumos,” and

Started to climb the stairs by wandlight.

On the second landing was the bedroom in which he and Ron had slept last time

They had been here; he glanced into it. The wardrobe doors stood open and the bedclothes

Had been ripped back. Harry remembered the overturned troll leg downstairs. Somebody

had searched the house since the Order had left. Snape? Or perhaps Mundungus, who had

pilfered plenty from this house both before and after Sirius died? Harry’s gaze wandered

to the portrait that sometimes contained Phineas Nigellus Black, Sirius’s great-great

Grandfather, but it was empty, showing nothing but a stretch of muddy backdrop. Phineas

Nigellus was evidently spending the night in the headmaster’s study at Hogwarts.

Harry continued up the stairs until he reached the topmost landing where there

Were only two doors. The one facing him bore a nameplate reading Sirius. Harry had

never entered his godfather’s bedroom before. He pushed open the door, holding his

Wand high to cast light as widely as possible. The room was spacious and must once have

Been handsome. There was a large bed with a carved wooden headboard, a tall window

Date: 2015-12-11; view: 939

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Had not told them what he had seen and felt; it made Voldemort more threatening, as | Obscured by long velvet curtains and a chandelier thickly coated in dust with candle
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