Return to the Shack

Harry, Ron and Hermione enter the passage to the Shrieking Shack during the Battle of Hogwarts

Extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling

Harry wriggled into the earthy passage hidden in the tree’s roots. It was a much tighter squeeze than it had been the last time they had entered it. The tunnel was low-ceilinged: they had had to double up to move through it nearly four years previously, now there was nothing for it but to crawl. Harry went first, his wand illuminated, expecting at any moment to meet barriers, but none came. They moved in silence, Harry’s gaze fixed upon the swinging beam of the wand held in his fist.

At last the tunnel began to slope upwards and Harry saw a sliver of light ahead. Hermione tugged at his ankle.

‘The Cloak!’ she whispered. ‘Put the Cloak on!’

He groped behind him and she forced the bundle of slippery cloth into his free hand. With difficulty he dragged it over himself, murmured, ‘Nox,’ extinguishing his wandlight, and continued on his hands and knees, as silently as possible, all his senses straining, expecting every second to be discovered, to hear a cold clear voice, see a flash of green light.

And then he heard voices coming from the room directly ahead of them, only slightly muffled by the fact that the opening at the end of the tunnel had been blocked up by what looked like an old crate. Hardly daring to breathe, Harry edged right up to the opening and peered through a tiny gap left between crate and wall.

The room beyond was dimly lit, but he could see Nagini, swirling and coiling like a serpent underwater, safe in her enchanted, starry sphere, which floated unsupported in mid-air. He could see the edge of a table, and a long-fingered, white hand toying with a wand. Then Snape spoke, and Harry’s heart lurched: Snape was inches away from where he crouched, hidden.

‘... my Lord, their resistance is crumbling –’

‘– and it is doing so without your help,’ said Voldemort, in his high, clear voice. ‘Skilled wizard though you are, Severus, I do not think you will make much difference now. We are almost there ... almost.’

‘Let me find the boy. Let me bring you Potter. I know I can find him, my Lord. Please.’

Snape strode past the gap, and Harry drew back a little, keeping his eyes fixed upon Nagini, wondering whether there was any spell that might penetrate the protection surrounding her, but he could not think of anything. One failed attempt, and he would give away his position ...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling