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
“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, nearly 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 tress broke the moonlight. “It was
a little trickier than I expected. But I hope he will be satisfied. You should
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 impressive 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 weresmoke.
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 light, and sumptuously decorated, with a
magnificent carpet covering most of the stone floor. The eyes of the pale-faced
portraits on the walls 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 scenes 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 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 diffi-
cult, at first, for the new arrivals to make out more than his silhouette. As theydrew nearer, however, this 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, indication the seat on his immediate right.
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.
“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.
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.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (download pdf file)