But before the tumble of his chaotic thoughts, below the triphammer beat of his heart, he could hear the soft and futile sound of the doorknob being turned to and fro as something locked in tried helplessly to get out, something that wanted to meet him, something that would like to be introduced to his family as the storm shrieked around them and white daylight became black night. If he opened his eyes and saw that doorknob moving he would go mad. So he kept them shut, and after an unknowable time, there was stillness.
If displays of data are to be truthful and revealing, then the logic of the display design must reflect the logic of the analysis.
Speaking quietly so that no one else would hear, Harry told the other two about Snape’s sudden, sinister desire to be a Quidditch referee.
“Don’t play,” said Hermione at once.
“Say you’re ill,” said Ron.
“Pretend to break your leg,” Hermione suggested.
“Really break your leg,” said Ron.
It looked as though it had once been a large stone pigpen, but extra rooms had been added here and there until it was several stories high and so crooked it looked as though it were held up by magic (which, Harry reminded himself, it probably was). Four or five chimneys were perched on top of the red roof. A lopsided sign stuck in the ground near the entrance read, THE BURROW. Around the front door lay a jumble of rubber boots and a very rusty cauldron. Several fat brown chickens were pecking their way around the yard.
“It’s not much,” said Ron.
“It’s wonderful,” said Harry happily, thinking of Privet Drive.
The Patronus turned. It was cantering back toward Harry across the still surface of the water. It wasn’t a horse. It wasn’t a unicorn, either. It was a stag. It was shining brightly as the moon above…it was coming back to him…
It stopped on the bank. Its hooves made no mark on the soft ground as it stared at Harry with its large, silver eyes. Slowly, it bowed its antlered head. And Harry realized…
“Prongs,” he whispered.
“Listen,” said Harry firmly. “If you don’t take it, I’m throwing it down the drain. I don’t want it and I don’t need it. But I could do with a few laughs. We could all do with a few laughs. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to need them more than usual before long.”
“Harry,” said George weakly, weighing the money bag in his hands, “there’s got to be a thousand Galleons in here.”
“Yeah,” said Harry, grinning. “Think how many Canary Creams that is.”
“There was some important stuff hidden in the waffle,” said Hermione grimly.
“Was there?” said Ron blankly.
“How about ‘progress for progress’s sake must be discouraged’? How about ‘pruning wherever we find practices that ought to be prohibited’?”
“Well, what does that mean?” said Ron impatiently.
“I’ll tell you what it means,” said Hermione ominously. “It means the Ministry’s interfering at Hogwarts.”
“We’re with you whatever happens,” said Ron. “But mate, you’re going to have to come round my mum and dad’s house before we do anything else, even Godric’s Hollow.”
“Bill and Fleur’s wedding, remember?”
Harry looked at him, startled; the idea that anything as normal as a wedding could still exist seemed incredible and yet wonderful.
“Yeah, we shouldn’t miss that,” he said finally.
“So we’re another Horcrux down,” said Ron, and from under his jacket he pulled the mangled remains of Hufflepuff’s cup. “Hermione stabbed it. Thought she should. She hasn’t had the pleasure yet.”
“Genius!” yelled Harry.
“It was nothing,” said Ron, though he looked delighted with himself. “So what’s new with you?”
Beyond these observations, I have a single question: What is the nature of my delusion? Am I hallucinating when I see the night sky that I know? Or when I see the one that is strange? Which stars should I trust and navigate by? I stand in the ruined lighthouse some nights and look out to sea and realize that in this form, this body, I will never know.