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Mist encircles the parapets of the castle itself, barely distinguishable from the Dementors that drift like silent sentinels over the grounds. Lights glimmer in the castle.

A stream of Hufflepuff students move toward the Great Hall. They walk grimly, their faces blank, as if accustomed to such exercises.

The Ravenclaws walk in lockstep as well. One tiny girl, Maisie Reynolds, stands out, walking alongside Luna, her bearing more defiant than defeated. The Death Eater chivvying them along eyes her cruelly.

"Put a smile on, Miss Reynolds." He glares. "Wouldn't want me to have to pay a visit to Daddy again, would you?"

Slytherin House walks in rigid synchronization, backs straight, in perfect rhythm. I catch sight of Blaise Zabini and Goyle.

As the Gryffindors walk, Harry and I move in their midst, effectively shielded. We slip past a few people, then Harry reaches out and enfolds Ginny's hand in his own. She doesn't look back, knows it's him, knows his touch.

Each House stands together as a group, the room buzzing. No one sits. Harry and I are nowhere to be seen, perfectly blended into the crowd. At the Tall Table at the top of the Hall two Death Eaters, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, stand like sinister sentinels, their eyes raking the crowd. Professor McGonagall, her face ashen, her bearing reduced, stands along the right wall, while Flitwick stands by the left wall. As Snape enters, the room goes slowly silent.

"Many of you are surely wondering why I have summoned you here at this hour. It has come to my attention that earlier this evening... Harry and Amelia Potter were sighted in Hogsmeade." A murmured thrill fills the Hall as he speaks. McGonagall's eyes glisten with curiosity. Snape raises his voice, briefly, to quell the noise in the Hall. "I mention this in the hopes that truth will not be supplanted by rumor. For myself and a few select members of the staff this comes as little surprise. We have, for some time, considered Mr. and Miss Potter's return to Hogwarts to be not only possible but inevitable. Consequently, in the past several months and under my specific direction, exhaustive defensive strategies have been employed to defeat any attempt Mr. and Miss Potter might make to breach these walls. But know this. Should anyone, student or staff, attempt to aid Mr. and Miss Potter, that person will be punished in a manner consistent with the severity of their transgression. Rest assured: So long as I am Headmaster at Hogwarts, Harry and Amelia Potter will never again step foot in this castle."

As applause erupts from the Slytherins, Maisie Reynolds, glowers over at them. Snape raises a hand. The room has returned to silence. His eyes rake the Hall. Dead silence. A nervous shift of glances.

"If anyone here has knowledge of the Potters' whereabouts this evening, I invite you to come forward. Now."

He hears footsteps, then two figures appear in the shadows at the back of the Hall. McGonagall's chin rises in disbelief. Maisy's face blooms with hope.

"I think we can help you out with that..." Harry steps forward. I follow him, wand in hand, fists curled.

"It would seem that, despite your exhaustive defensive strategies, you have a bit of a security problem, Headmaster." I glare.

Snape stares in stunned disbelief, then his gaze shifts as one by one, others emerge from the entrance to the Great Hall. Ron. Hermione. Lupin. Arthur. Molly. Fred. George. Percy. Luna. Dean Thomas. Bill. Fleur. Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"And I'm afraid it's rather extensive." Harry adds. The Carrows, who had been moving towards the two of us, falter, turn to Snape with uncertainty. Our eyes narrow with malice as he stares at Snape. "How dare you stand where he stood."

Snape watches Harry and I draw our wands and point them at him.

"Tell them how it was that night." I say through gritted teeth. "Tell them how you looked him in the eye, a man who trusted you... and killed him. Tell them!"

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