'Finest dragonskin, little bro',' said Fred, giving his zip a little tweak. 'Business is booming and we thought we'd treat ourselves.'
'It's - ' said Harry, who was finding this more awkward than he had anticipated, 'it's just - you're dead. But you're still here, aren't you?'
'No - Nick - please,' said Harry, 'I really need to talk to you. Can we go in here?'
'And do I look like the kind of man who can be intimidated?' barked Uncle Vernon.
'So that's fifty each for Potter, the two Weasleys, Longbottom and Miss Granger,' said Professor McGonagall, and a shower of rubies fell down into the bottom bulb of Gryffindor s hour-glass as she spoke. 'Oh - and fifty for Miss Lovegood, I suppose,' she added, and a number of sapphires fell into Ravenclaw's glass. 'Now, you wanted to take ten from Mr Potter, I think, Professor Snape - so there we are . . .'
'How can you say that?' Hermione demanded. 'After we've just found out that there are real prophecies?'
'Anything wrong, Professor?' called Madam Pomfrey, poking her head around her office door.
'Nothing,' said Harry truthfully.
'. . . while the other survives,' said Dumbledore.
Harry had just descended the last marble step into the Entrance Hall when Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle emerged from a door on the right that Harry knew led down to the Slytherin common room. Harry stopped dead; so did Malfoy and the others. The only sounds were the shouts, laughter and splashes drifting into the Hall from the grounds through the open front doors.
'We'll see you soon, mate,' said Ron anxiously, shaking Harry's hand.
'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches . . . born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies . . . and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not . . . and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives . . . the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies . . .'
'I am afraid,' said Dumbledore slowly, looking as though every word cost him a great effort, 'that there is no doubt that it is you.'
'Sulking, more like,' said Ginny.
'What are you doing, Potter?' said Snape, as coldly as ever, as he strode over to the four of them.
But just as he had given up hope, he saw it - a translucent somebody drifting across the end of the corridor.
But then an idea struck him . . . a better idea than a mirror . . . a much bigger, more important idea . . . how had he never thought of it before - why had he never asked?
'Yes,' said Dumbledore.
The Second War Begins