The Dark Lord Ascending

Thetwomenappearedoutofnowhere,afewyardsapartinthenarrow,moonlitlane.Forasecondtheystoodquitestill,wandsdirectedateachother’schests;then,recognizingeachother,theystowedtheirwandsbeneaththeircloaksandstartedwalkingbrisklyinthesamedirection.

"News?"askedthetallerofthetwo.

"Thebest,"repliedSeverusSnape.

Thelanewasborderedontheleftbywild,low-growingbrambles,ontherightbyahigh,neatlymanicuredhedge.Themen’slongcloaksflappedaroundtheiranklesastheymarched.

"ThoughtImightbelate,"saidYaxley,hisbluntfeaturesslidinginandoutofsightasthebranchesofoverhangingtreesbrokethemoonlight."ItwasalittletrickierthanIexpected.ButIhopehewillbesatisfied.Yousoundconfidentthatyourreceptionwillbegood?"

Snapenodded,butdidnotelaborate.Theyturnedright,intoawidedrivewaythatledoffthelane.Thehighhedgecurvedintothem,runningoffintothedistancebeyondthepairofimposingwrought-irongatesbarringthemen’sway.Neitherofthembrokestep:Insilencebothraisedtheirleftarmsinakindofsaluteandpassedstraightthrough,asthoughthedarkmetalwassmoke.

Theyewhedgesmuffledthesoundofthemen’sfootsteps.Therewasarustlesomewheretotheirright:Yaxleydrewhiswandagainpointingitoverhiscompanion’shead,butthesourceofthenoiseprovedtobenothingmorethanapure-whitepeacock,struttingmajesticallyalongthetopofthehedge.

"Healwaysdidhimselfwell,Lucius.Peacocks..."

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