Download Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Book 7

J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter is leaving Privet Drive for the last time. But as he climbs into the sidecar of Hagrid’s motorbike and they take to the skies, he knows Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters will not be far behind.

The protective charm that has kept him safe until now is broken. But the Dark Lord is breathing fear into everything he loves. And he knows he can’t keep hiding.

To stop Voldemort, Harry knows he must find the remaining Horcruxes and destroy them.

He will have to face his enemy in one final battle.

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CHAPTER ONE

THE DARK LORD AS­CEND­ING

The two men ap­peared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the nar­row, moon­lit lane. For a sec­ond they stood quite still, wands di­rect­ed at each oth­er's chests; then, rec­og­niz­ing each oth­er, they stowed their wands be­neath their cloaks and start­ed walk­ing briskly in the same di­rec­tion.     “News?” asked the taller of the two.     “The best,” replied Severus Snape. The lane was bor­dered on the left by wild, low-​grow­ing bram­bles, on the right by a high, neat­ly man­icured hedge. The men's long cloaks flapped around their an­kles as they marched.     “Thought I might be late,” said Yax­ley, his blunt fea­tures slid­ing in and out of sight as the branch­es of over­hang­ing trees broke the moon­light. “It was a lit­tle trick­ier than I ex­pect­ed. But I hope he will be sat­is­fied. You sound con­fi­dent that your re­cep­tion will be good?”     Snape nod­ded, but did not elab­orate. They turned right, in­to a wide drive­way that led off the lane. The high hedge curved in­to them, run­ning off in­to the dis­tance be­yond the pair of im­pos­ing wrought-​iron gates bar­ring the men’s way. Nei­ther of them broke step: In si­lence both raised their left arms in a kind of salute and passed straight through, as though the dark met­al was smoke.


The yew hedges muf­fled the sound of the men’s foot­steps. There was a rus­tle some­where to their right: Yax­ley drew his wand again point­ing it over his com­pan­ion’s head, but the source of the noise proved to be noth­ing more than a pure-​white pea­cock, strut­ting ma­jes­ti­cal­ly along the top of the hedge.


“He al­ways did him­self well, Lu­cius. Pea­cocks …” Yax­ley thrust his wand back un­der his cloak with a snort.


A hand­some manor house grew out of the dark­ness at the end of the straight drive, lights glint­ing in the di­amond paned down­stairs win­dows. Some­where in the dark gar­den be­yond the hedge a foun­tain was play­ing. Grav­el crack­led be­neath their feet as Snape and Yax­ley sped to­ward the front door, which swung in­ward at their ap­proach, though no­body had vis­ibly opened it.


The hall­way was large, dim­ly lit, and sump­tu­ous­ly dec­orat­ed, with a mag­nif­icent car­pet cov­er­ing most of the stone floor. The eyes of the pale-​faced por­traits on the wall fol­lowed Snape and Yax­ley as they strode past. The two men halt­ed at a heavy wood­en door lead­ing in­to the next room, hes­itat­ed for the space of a heart­beat, then Snape turned the bronze han­dle.


The draw­ing room was full of silent peo­ple, sit­ting at a long and or­nate ta­ble. The room’s usu­al fur­ni­ture had been pushed care­less­ly up against the walls. Il­lu­mi­na­tion came from a roar­ing fire be­neath a hand­some mar­ble man­tel­piece sur­mount­ed by a gild­ed mir­ror. Snape and Yax­ley lin­gered for a mo­ment on the thresh­old. As their eyes grew ac­cus­tomed to the lack of light, they were drawn up­ward to the strangest fea­ture of the scene: an ap­par­ent­ly un­con­scious hu­man fig­ure hang­ing up­side down over the ta­ble, re­volv­ing slow­ly as if sus­pend­ed by an in­vis­ible rope, and re­flect­ed in the mir­ror and in the bare, pol­ished sur­face of the ta­ble be­low. None of the peo­ple seat­ed un­der­neath this sin­gu­lar sight were look­ing at it ex­cept for a pale young man sit­ting al­most di­rect­ly be­low it. He seemed un­able to pre­vent him­self from glanc­ing up­ward ev­ery minute or so.


“Yax­ley. Snape,” said a high, clear voice from the head of the ta­ble. “You are very near­ly late.”


The speak­er was seat­ed di­rect­ly in front of the fire­place, so that it was dif­fi­cult, at first, for the new ar­rivals to make out more than his sil­hou­ette. As they drew near­er, how­ev­er, his face shone through the gloom, hair­less, snake­like, with slits for nos­trils and gleam­ing red eyes whose pupils were ver­ti­cal. He was so pale that he seemed to emit a pearly glow.


“Severus, here,” said Volde­mort, in­di­cat­ing the seat on his im­me­di­ate right. “Yax­ley – be­side Dolo­hov.”


The two men took their al­lot­ted places. Most of the eyes around the ta­ble fol­lowed Snape, and it was to him that Volde­mort spoke first.


“So?”


“My Lord, the Or­der of the Phoenix in­tends to move Har­ry Pot­ter from his cur­rent place of safe­ty on Sat­ur­day next, at night­fall.”


The in­ter­est around the ta­ble sharp­ened pal­pa­bly: Some stiff­ened, oth­ers fid­get­ed, all gaz­ing at Snape and Volde­mort.


“Sat­ur­day … at night­fall,” re­peat­ed Volde­mort. His red eyes fas­tened up­on Snape’s black ones with such in­ten­si­ty that some of the watch­ers looked away, ap­par­ent­ly fear­ful that they them­selves would be scorched by the fe­roc­ity of the gaze. Snape, how­ev­er, looked calm­ly back in­to Volde­mort’s face and, af­ter a mo­ment or two, Volde­mort’s li­pless mouth curved in­to some­thing like a smile.


“Good. Very good. And this in­for­ma­tion comes –“


“ – from the source we dis­cussed,” said Snape.


“My Lord.”


Yax­ley had leaned for­ward to look down the long ta­ble at Volde­mort and Snape. All faces turned to him.


“My Lord, I have heard dif­fer­ent­ly.”


Yax­ley wait­ed, but Volde­mort did not speak, so he went on, “Dawlish, the Au­ror, let slip that Pot­ter will not be moved un­til the thir­ti­eth, the night be­fore the boy turns sev­en­teen.”


Snape was smil­ing.


“My source told me that there are plans to lay a false trail; this must be it. No doubt a Con­fun­dus Charm has been placed up­on Dawlish. It would not be the first time; he is known to be sus­cep­ti­ble.”


“I as­sure you, my Lord, Dawlish seemed quite cer­tain,” said Yax­ley.


“If he has been Con­fund­ed, nat­ural­ly he is cer­tain,” said Snape. “I as­sure you, Yax­ley, the Au­ror Of­fice will play no fur­ther part in the pro­tec­tion of Har­ry Pot­ter. The Or­der be­lieves that we have in­fil­trat­ed the Min­istry.”


“The Or­der’s got one thing right, then, eh?” said a squat man sit­ting a short dis­tance from Yax­ley; he gave a wheezy gig­gle that was echoed here and there along the ta­ble.


Volde­mort did not laugh. His gaze had wan­dered up­ward to the body re­volv­ing slow­ly over­head, and he seemed to be lost in thought.


“My Lord,” Yax­ley went on, “Dawlish be­lieves an en­tire par­ty of Au­rors will be used to trans­fer the boy –“


Volde­mort held up a large white hand, and Yax­ley sub­sid­ed at once, watch­ing re­sent­ful­ly as Volde­mort turned back to Snape.


“Where are they go­ing to hide the boy next?”


“At the home of one of the Or­der,” said Snape. “The place, ac­cord­ing to the source, has been giv­en ev­ery pro­tec­tion that the Or­der and Min­istry to­geth­er could pro­vide. I think that there is lit­tle chance of tak­ing him once he is there, my Lord, un­less, of course, the Min­istry has fall­en be­fore next Sat­ur­day, which might give us the op­por­tu­ni­ty to dis­cov­er and un­do enough of the en­chant­ments to break through the rest.”


“Well, Yax­ley?” Volde­mort called down the ta­ble, the fire­light glint­ing strange­ly in his red eyes. “Will the Min­istry have fall­en by next Sat­ur­day?”


Once again, all heads turned. Yax­ley squared his shoul­ders.


“My Lord, I have good news on that score. I have – with dif­fi­cul­ty, and af­ter great ef­fort – suc­ceed­ed in plac­ing an Im­perius Curse up­on Pius Thick­nesse.”


Many of those sit­ting around Yax­ley looked im­pressed; his neigh­bor, Dolo­hov, a man with a long, twist­ed face, clapped him on the back.


“It is a start,” said Volde­mort. “But Thick­nesse is on­ly one man. Scrim­geour must be sur­round­ed by our peo­ple be­fore I act. One failed at­tempt on the Min­is­ter’s life will set me back a long way.”


“Yes – my Lord, that is true – but you know, as Head of the De­part­ment of Mag­ical Law En­force­ment, Thick­nesse has reg­ular con­tact not on­ly with the Min­is­ter him­self, but al­so with the Heads of all the oth­er Min­istry de­part­ments. It will, I think, be easy now that we have such a high-​rank­ing of­fi­cial un­der our con­trol, to sub­ju­gate the oth­ers, and then they can all work to­geth­er to bring Scrim­geour down.”


“As long as our friend Thick­nesse is not dis­cov­ered be­fore he has con­vert­ed the rest,” said Volde­mort. “At any rate, it re­mains un­like­ly that the Min­istry will be mine be­fore next Sat­ur­day. If we can­not touch the boy at his des­ti­na­tion, then it must be done while he trav­els.”


“We are at an ad­van­tage there, my Lord,” said Yax­ley, who seemed de­ter­mined to re­ceive some por­tion of ap­proval. “We now have sev­er­al peo­ple plant­ed with­in the De­part­ment of Mag­ical Trans­port. If Pot­ter Ap­pa­rates or us­es the Floo Net­work, we shall know im­me­di­ate­ly.”


“He will not do ei­ther,” said Snape. “The Or­der is es­chew­ing any form of trans­port that is con­trolled or reg­ulat­ed by the Min­istry; they mis­trust ev­ery­thing to do with the place.”


“All the bet­ter,” said Volde­mort. “He will have to move in the open. Eas­ier to take, by far.”


Again, Volde­mort looked up at the slow­ly re­volv­ing body as he went on, “I shall at­tend to the boy in per­son. There have been too many mis­takes where Har­ry Pot­ter is con­cerned. Some of them have been my own. That Pot­ter lives is due more to my er­rors than to his tri­umphs.”


The com­pa­ny around the ta­ble watched Volde­mort ap­pre­hen­sive­ly, each of them, by his or her ex­pres­sion, afraid that they might be blamed for Har­ry Pot­ter’s con­tin­ued ex­is­tence. Volde­mort, how­ev­er, seemed to be speak­ing more to him­self than to any of them, still ad­dress­ing the un­con­scious body above him.


“I have been care­less, and so have been thwart­ed by luck and chance, those wreck­ers of all but the best-​laid plans. But I know bet­ter now. I un­der­stand those things that I did not un­der­stand be­fore. I must be the one to kill Har­ry Pot­ter, and I shall be.”


At these words, seem­ing­ly in re­sponse to them, a sud­den wail sound­ed, a ter­ri­ble, drawn-​out cry of mis­ery and pain. Many of those at the ta­ble looked down­ward, star­tled, for the sound had seemed to is­sue from be­low their feet.


“Worm­tail,” said Volde­mort, with no change in his qui­et, thought­ful tone, and with­out re­mov­ing his eyes from the re­volv­ing body above, “have I not spo­ken to you about keep­ing our pris­on­er qui­et?”


“Yes, m-​my Lord,” gasped a small man halfway down the ta­ble, who had been sit­ting so low in his chair that it ap­peared, at first glance, to be un­oc­cu­pied. Now he scram­bled from his seat and scur­ried from the room, leav­ing noth­ing be­hind him but a cu­ri­ous gleam of sil­ver.


“As I was say­ing,” con­tin­ued Volde­mort, look­ing again at the tense faces of his fol­low­ers, “I un­der­stand bet­ter now. I shall need, for in­stance, to bor­row a wand from one of you be­fore I go to kill Pot­ter.”


The faces around him dis­played noth­ing but shock; he might have an­nounced that he want­ed to bor­row one of their arms.


“No vol­un­teers?” said Volde­mort. “Let’s see … Lu­cius, I see no rea­son for you to have a wand any­more.”


Lu­cius Mal­foy looked up. His skin ap­peared yel­low­ish and waxy in the fire­light, and his eyes were sunken and shad­owed. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse.


“My Lord?”


“Your wand, Lu­cius. I re­quire your wand.”


“I …”


Mal­foy glanced side­ways at his wife. She was star­ing straight ahead, quite as pale as he was, her long blonde hair hang­ing down her back, but be­neath the ta­ble her slim fin­gers closed briefly on his wrist. At her touch, Mal­foy put his hand in­to his robes, with­drew a wand, and passed it along to Volde­mort, who held it up in front of his red eyes, ex­am­in­ing it close­ly.


“What is it?”


“Elm, my Lord,” whis­pered Mal­foy.


“And the core?”


“Drag­on – drag­on heart­string.”


“Good,” said Volde­mort. He drew out his wand and com­pared the lengths. Lu­cius Mal­foy made an in­vol­un­tary move­ment; for a frac­tion of a sec­ond, it seemed he ex­pect­ed to re­ceive Volde­mort’s wand in ex­change for his own. The ges­ture was not missed by Volde­mort, whose eyes widened ma­li­cious­ly.


“Give you my wand, Lu­cius? My wand?”


Some of the throng snig­gered.


“I have giv­en you your lib­er­ty, Lu­cius, is that not enough for you? But I have no­ticed that you and your fam­ily seem less than hap­py of late … What is it about my pres­ence in your home that dis­places you, Lu­cius?”


“Noth­ing – noth­ing, my Lord!”


“Such lies Lu­cius … “


The soft voice seemed to hiss on even af­ter the cru­el mouth had stopped mov­ing. One or two of the wiz­ards bare­ly re­pressed a shud­der as the hiss­ing grew loud­er; some­thing heavy could be heard slid­ing across the floor be­neath the ta­ble.


The huge snake emerged to climb slow­ly up Volde­mort’s chair. It rose, seem­ing­ly end­less­ly, and came to rest across Volde­mort’s shoul­ders: its neck the thick­ness of a man’s thigh; its eyes, with their ver­ti­cal slits for pupils, un­blink­ing. Volde­mort stroked the crea­ture ab­sent­ly with long thin fin­gers, still look­ing at Lu­cius Mal­foy.


“Why do the Mal­foys look so un­hap­py with their lot? Is my re­turn, my rise to pow­er, not the very thing they pro­fessed to de­sire for so many years?”


“Of course, my Lord,” said Lu­cius Mal­foy. His hand shook as he wiped sweat from his up­per lip. “We did de­sire it – we do.”


To Mal­foy’s left, his wife made an odd, stiff nod, her eyes avert­ed from Volde­mort and the snake. To his right, his son, Dra­co, who had been gaz­ing up at the in­ert body over­head, glanced quick­ly at Volde­mort and away again, ter­ri­fied to make eye con­tact.


“My Lord,” said a dark wom­an halfway down the ta­ble, her voice con­strict­ed with emo­tion, “it is an hon­or to have you here, in our fam­ily’s house. There can be no high­er plea­sure.”


She sat be­side her sis­ter, as un­like her in looks, with her dark hair and heav­ily lid­ded eyes, as she was in bear­ing and de­meanor; where Nar­cis­sa sat rigid and im­pas­sive, Bel­la­trix leaned to­ward Volde­mort, for mere words could not demon­strate her long­ing for close­ness.


“No high­er plea­sure,” re­peat­ed Volde­mort, his head tilt­ed a lit­tle to one side as he con­sid­ered Bel­la­trix. “That means a great deal, Bel­la­trix, from you.”


Her face flood­ed with col­or; her eyes welled with tears of de­light.


“My Lord knows I speak noth­ing but the truth!”


“No high­er plea­sure … even com­pared with the hap­py event that, I hear, has tak­en place in your fam­ily this week?”


She stared at him, her lips part­ed, ev­ident­ly con­fused.


“I don’t know what you mean, my Lord.”


“I’m talk­ing about your niece, Bel­la­trix. And yours, Lu­cius and Nar­cis­sa. She has just mar­ried the were­wolf, Re­mus Lupin. You must be so proud.”


There was an erup­tion of jeer­ing laugh­ter from around the ta­ble. Many leaned for­ward to ex­change glee­ful looks; a few thumped the ta­ble with their fists. The gi­ant snake, dis­lik­ing the dis­tur­bance, opened its mouth wide and hissed an­gri­ly, but the Death Eaters did not hear it, so ju­bi­lant were they at Bel­la­trix and the Mal­foys’ hu­mil­ia­tion. Bel­la­trix’s face, so re­cent­ly flushed wit hap­pi­ness, had turned an ug­ly, blotchy red.


“She is no niece of ours, my Lord,” she cried over the out­pour­ing of mirth. “We – Nar­cis­sa and I – have nev­er set eyes on our sis­ter since she mar­ried the Mud­blood. This brat has noth­ing to do with ei­ther of us, nor any beast she mar­ries.”


“What say you, Dra­co?” asked Volde­mort, and though his voice was qui­et, it car­ried clear­ly through the cat­calls and jeers. “Will you babysit the cubs?”


The hi­lar­ity mount­ed; Dra­co Mal­foy looked in ter­ror at his fa­ther, who was star­ing down in­to his own lap, then caught his moth­er’s eye. She shook her head al­most im­per­cep­ti­bly, then re­sumed her own dead­pan stare at the op­po­site wall.


“Enough,” said Volde­mort, stroking the an­gry snake. “Enough.”


And the laugh­ter died at once.


“Many of our old­est fam­ily trees be­come a lit­tle dis­eased over time,” he said as Bel­la­trix gazed at him, breath­less and im­plor­ing, “You must prune yours, must you not, to keep it healthy? Cut away those parts that threat­en the health of the rest.”


“Yes, my Lord,” whis­pered Bel­la­trix, and her eyes swam with tears of grat­itude again. “At the first chance!”


“You shall have it,” said Volde­mort. “And in your fam­ily, so in the world … we shall cut away the canker that in­fects us un­til on­ly those of the true blood re­main …”


Volde­mort raised Lu­cius Mal­foy’s wand, point­ed it di­rect­ly at the slow­ly re­volv­ing fig­ure sus­pend­ed over the ta­ble, and gave it a tiny flick. The fig­ure came to life with a groan and be­gan to strug­gle against in­vis­ible bonds.


“Do you rec­og­nize our guest, Severus?” asked Volde­mort.


Snape raised his eyes to the up­side down face. All of the Death Eaters were look­ing up at the cap­tive now, as though they had been giv­en per­mis­sion to show cu­rios­ity. As she re­volved to face the fire­light, the wom­an said in a cracked and ter­ri­fied voice, “Severus! Help me!”


“Ah, yes,” said Snape as the pris­on­er turned slow­ly away again.


“And you, Dra­co?” asked Volde­mort, stroking the snake’s snout with his wand-​free hand. Dra­co shook his head jerk­ily. Now that the wom­an had wo­ken, he seemed un­able to look at her any­more.


“But you would not have tak­en her class­es,” said Volde­mort. “For those of you who do not know, we are joined here tonight by Char­ity Burbage who, un­til re­cent­ly, taught at Hog­warts School of Witchcraft and Wiz­ardry.”


There were small nois­es of com­pre­hen­sion around the ta­ble. A broad, hunched wom­an with point­ed teeth cack­led.


“Yes … Pro­fes­sor Burbage taught the chil­dren of witch­es and wiz­ards all about Mug­gles … how they are not so dif­fer­ent from us … “


One of the Death Eaters spat on the floor. Char­ity Burbage re­volved to face Snape again.


“Severus … please … please … “


“Si­lence,” said Volde­mort, with an­oth­er twitch of Mal­foy’s wand, and Char­ity fell silent as if gagged. “Not con­tent with cor­rupt­ing and pol­lut­ing the minds of Wiz­ard­ing chil­dren, last week Pro­fes­sor Burbage wrote an im­pas­sioned de­fense of Mud­bloods in the Dai­ly Prophet. Wiz­ards, she says, must ac­cept these thieves of their knowl­edge and mag­ic. The dwin­dling of the pure­bloods is, says Pro­fes­sor Burbage, a most de­sir­able cir­cum­stance … She would have us all mate with Mug­gles … or, no doubt, were­wolves … “


No­body laughed this time. There was no mis­tak­ing the anger and con­tempt in Volde­mort’s voice. For the third time, Char­ity Burbage re­volved to face Snape. Tears were pour­ing from her eyes in­to her hair. Snape looked back at her, quite im­pas­sive, as she turned slow­ly away from him again.


“Ava­da Ke­davra”


The flash of green light il­lu­mi­nat­ed ev­ery cor­ner of the room. Char­ity fell, with a re­sound­ing crash, on­to the ta­ble be­low, which trem­bled and creaked. Sev­er­al of the Death Eaters leapt back in their chairs. Dra­co fell out of his on­to the floor.


“Din­ner, Nagi­ni,” said Volde­mort soft­ly, and the great snake swayed and slith­ered from his shoul­ders on­to the pol­ished wood.