He felt Voldemort’s fury, but as Hermione screamed again he shut it out, returning to the cellar and the horror of his own present.

“Go!” Harry beseeched to Luna and Dean. “Go! We’ll follow, just go!”

They caught hold of the elf’s outstretched fingers. There was another loud crack, and Dobby, Luna, Dean, and Ollivander vanished.

“What was that?” shouted Lucius Malfoy from over their heads. “Did you hear that? What was that noise in the cellar?”

Harry and Ron stared at each other.

“Draco—no, call Wormtail! Make him go and check!”

Footsteps crossed the room overhead, then there was silence. Harry knew that the people in the drawing room were listening for more noises from the cellar.

“We’re going to have to try and tackle him,” he whispered to Ron. They had no choice: The moment anyone entered the room and saw the absence of three prisoners, they were lost. “Leave the lights on,” Harry added, and as they heard someone descending the steps outside the door, they backed against the wall on either side of it.

“Stand back,” came Wormtail’s voice. “Stand away from the door. I’m coming in.”

The door flew open. For a split second Wormtail gazed into the apparently empty cellar, ablaze with light from the three miniature suns floating in midair. Then Harry and Ron launched themselves upon him. Ron seized Wormtail’s wand arm and forced it upwards. Harry slapped a hand to his mouth, muffling his voice. Silently they struggled: Wormtail’s wand emitted sparks; his silver hand closed around Harry’s throat.

“What is it, Wormtail?” called Lucius Malfoy from above.

“Nothing!” Ron called back, in a passable imitation of Wormtail’s wheezy voice. “All fine!”

Harry could barely breathe.

“You’re going to kill me?” Harry choked, attempting to prise off the metal fingers. “After I saved your life? You owe me, Wormtail!”

The silver fingers slackened. Harry had not expected it: He wrenched himself free, astonished, keeping his hand over Wormtail’s mouth. He saw the ratlike man’s small watery eyes widen with fear and surprise: He seemed just as shocked as Harry at what his hand had done, at the tiny, merciful impulse it had betrayed, and he continued to struggle more powerfully, as though to undo that moment of weakness.



“And we’ll have that,” whispered Ron, tugging Wormtail’s wand from his other hand.

Wandless, helpless, Pettigrew’s pupils dilated in terror. His eyes had slid from Harry’s face to something else. His own silver fingers were moving inexorably toward his own throat.

“No—”

Without pausing to think, Harry tried to drag back the hand, but there was no stopping it. The silver tool that Voldemort had given his most cowardly servant had turned upon its disarmed and useless owner; Pettigrew was reaping his reward for his hesitation, his moment of pity; he was being strangled before their eyes.

“No!”


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