A thin, pimply, jug-eared youth in a purple uniform leapt down on to the pavement and said, 'Welcome to the - '
'Well . . . well, I don't know whether you know what - what stitches are?'
'Six o'clock, Monday evening, Potter.'
'What's he want with you?' said Ron, looking unnerved as Mrs Weasley withdrew from the room. 'You haven't done anything, have you?'
'What's that supposed to be, anyway?' asked Fred, squinting at Dobbys painting. 'Looks like a gibbon with two black eyes.'
This was different,' said Harry, shaking his head. T was inside that snake. It was like I was the snake . . . what if Voldemort somehow transported me to London - ?'
The door closed behind them.
Their ex-Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher pushed open the doors and moved towards them, wearing a long lilac dressing gown.
Snape turned back to face them, sneering.
Tell me, how is Lucius Malfoy these days? I expect he's delighted his lapdog's working at Hogwarts, isn't he?'
'I fancy a cup of tea, too,' said Harry, jumping to his feet.
'Sit down, Potter.'
'Cured!' he announced brightly to the kitchen at large. 'Completely cured!'
'Er - we don't want any at the moment, thanks,' said Ron, raising his eyebrows at Harry, who asked, 'Professor, should you be wandering around the corridors? Shouldn't you be in a ward?'
'We tried to comfort her,' said Fred, moving around the bed to look at Harry's portrait. Told her Percy's nothing more than a humungous pile of rat droppings.'
'Occlumency, Potter. The magical defence of the mind against external penetration. An obscure branch of magic, but a highly useful one.'
'What floor's this?'
'How're you feeling?' asked Hermione.
Both Sirius and Snape lowered their wands. Harry looked from one to the other. Each wore an expression of utmost contempt, yet the unexpected entrance of so many witnesses seemed to have brought them to their senses. Snape piocketed his wand, turned on his heel and swept back across the kitchen, passing the Weasleys without comment. At the door he looked back.