They glared at each other. Harry's scar seared again, but he did not care. Snape looked agitated; but when he spoke again he sounded as though he was trying to appear cool and unconcerned.
For answer she spread the newspaper on the table in front of them and pointed at ten black-and-white photographs that filled the whole of the front page, nine showing wizards' faces and the tenth, a witch's. Some of the people in the photographs were silently jeering; others were tapping their fingers on the frame of their pictures, looking insolent. Each picture was captioned with a name and the crime for which the person had been sent to Azkaban.
'Yes, sir,' said Harry impatiently, 'but how do you know - '?
'Dumbledore is an extremely powerful wizard,' Snape muttered. 'While he may feel secure enough to use the name . . . the rest of us . . .' He rubbed his left forearm, apparently unconsciously, on the spot where Harry knew the Dark Mark was burned into his skin.
To send a letter,' said Hermione, swinging her bag on to her shoulder. 'It . . . well, I don't know whether . . . but it's worth trying . . . and I'm the only one who can.'
He felt a sharp pain in his knee. Snape's office had come back into view and he realised that he had fallen to the floor; one of his knees had collided painfully with the leg of Snape's desk. He looked up at Snape, who had lowered his wand and was rubbing his wrist. There was an angry weal there, like a scorch mark.
'I met Bode,' he said slowly. 'I saw him at the Ministry with your dad.'
'Just outside Birmingham,' said Stan happily, answering Harry's unasked question as Ron struggled up from the floor. 'You keepin' well, then, 'Any? I seen your name in the paper loads over the sammer, but it weren't never nuflink very nice. I said to Ern, I said, 'e didn't seem like a nutter when we met 'im, just goes to siow, dunnit?'
He had been dreaming about a windowless corridor ending in a locked door for months, without once realising that it was a real place. Now, seeing the memory again, he knew that all along he had been dreaming about the corridor down which he had run with Mr Weasley on the twelfth of August as they hurried to the courtrooms in the Ministry; it was the corridor leading to the Department of Mysteries and Mr Weasley had been there the night that he had been attacked by Voldemort's snake.
'Of course,' she breathed.
And he told them what he had just seen and deduced.
'Ron, think about it. . . Sturgis Podmore was trying to get through a door at the Ministry of Magic . . . it must have been that one, it's too much of a coincidence!'
Chairs slid backwards again as the Knight Bus jumped from the Birmingham motorway to a quiet country lane full of hairpin bends. Hedgerows on either side of the road were leaping out of their way as they mounted the verges. From here they moved to a main street in the middle of a busy town, then to a viaduct surrounded by tall hills, then to a windswept road between high-rise flats, each time with a loud BANG.
'Shut the door behind you, Potter.'
Harry spent most of the next day dreading the evening. His morning double-Potions lesson did nothing to dispel his trepidation, as Snape was as unpleasant as ever. His mood was further lowered by the DA members constantly approaching him in the corridors between classes, asking hopefully if there would be a meeting that night.
'Because,' said Harry, watching Snape's face closely, 'that corridor I've just seen - I've been dreaming about it for montns - I've just recognised it - it leads to the Department of Mysteries . . . and I think Voldemort wants something from - '
'How come Sturgis was trying to break in when he's on our side?' said Ron.
'Stand up and take out your wand, Potter.'
'I thought not,' said Snape, watching him closely. 'You let me get in too far. You lost control.'