The Dark Mark over Hogwarts

Madam Rosmerta spots the Dark Mark over the school as Harry and Dumbledore apparate into Hogsmeade

Extract from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By J.K. Rowling

Before Harry could make a move, however, he heard running footsteps. His heart leapt: somebody had seen, somebody knew they needed help – and looking around he saw Madam Rosmerta scurrying down the dark street towards them on high-heeled, fluffy slippers, wearing a silk dressing-gown embroidered with dragons.

‘I saw you Apparate as I was pulling my bedroom curtains! Thank goodness, thank goodness, I couldn’t think what to – but what’s wrong with Albus?’

She came to a halt, panting, and stared down, wide-eyed, at Dumbledore.

‘He’s hurt,’ said Harry. ‘Madam Rosmerta, can he come into the Three Broomsticks while I go up to the school and get help for him?’

‘You can’t go up there alone! Don’t you realise – haven’t you seen –?’

‘If you help me support him,’ said Harry, not listening to her, ‘I think we can get him inside –’

‘What has happened?’ asked Dumbledore. ‘Rosmerta, what’s wrong?’

‘The – the Dark Mark, Albus.’

And she pointed into the sky, in the direction of Hogwarts. Dread flooded Harry at the sound of the words ... he turned and looked.

There it was, hanging in the sky above the school: the blazing green skull with a serpent tongue, the mark Death Eaters left behind whenever they had entered a building ... wherever they had murdered ...

‘When did it appear?’ asked Dumbledore, and his hand clenched painfully upon Harry’s shoulder as he struggled to his feet.

‘Must have been minutes ago, it wasn’t there when I put the cat out, but when I got upstairs –’

‘We need to return to the castle at once,’ said Dumbledore. ‘Rosmerta,’ and though he staggered a little, he seemed wholly in command of the situation, ‘we need transport – brooms –’

‘I’ve got a couple behind the bar,’ she said, looking very frightened. ‘Shall I run and fetch –?’

‘No, Harry can do it.’

Harry raised his wand at once.

‘Accio Rosmerta’s brooms.’

A second later they heard a loud bang as the front door of the pub burst open; two brooms had shot out into the street and were racing each other to Harry’s side, where they stopped dead, quivering slightly, at waist height.

‘Rosmerta, please send a message to the Ministry,’ said Dumbledore, as he mounted the broom nearest him. ‘It might be that nobody within Hogwarts has yet realised anything is wrong ... Harry, put on your Invisibility Cloak.’

Harry pulled his Cloak out of his pocket and threw it over himself before mounting his broom; Madam Rosmerta was already tottering back towards her pub as Harry and Dumbledore kicked off from the ground and rose up into the air.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By J.K. Rowling