By J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Chapter Seventeen. Bathilda’s Secret “Harry, stop.” “What’s wrong?”
They had only just reached the grave of the unknown Abbott. “There’s someone there. Someone watching us. I can tell. There, over by the bushes.” They stood quite still, holding on to each other, gazing at the dense black boundary of the graveyard. Harry could not see anything. “Are you sure?” “I saw something move. I could have sworn I did…” She broke from him to free her wand arm. “We look like Muggles,” Harry pointed out. “Muggles who’ve just been laying flowers on your parents’ grave? Harry, I’m sure there’s someone over there!” Harry thought of A History of Magic; the graveyard was supposed to be haunted; what if -? But then he heard a rustle and saw a little eddy of dislodged snow in the bush to which Hermione had pointed. Ghosts could not move snow. “It’s a cat,” said Harry, after a second or two, “or a bird. If it was a Death Eater we’d be dead by now. But let’s get out of here, and we can put the Cloak back on.” They glanced back repeatedly as they made their way out of the graveyard. Harry, who did not feel as sanguine as he had pretended when reassuring Hermione, was glad to reach the gate and the slippery pavement. They pulled the Invisibility Cloak back over themselves. The pub was fuller than before. Many voices inside it were now singing the carol that they had heard as they approached the church. For a moment, Harry considered suggesting they take refuge inside it, but before he could say anything Hermione murmured, “Let’s go this way,” and pulled him down the dark street leading out of the village in the opposite direction from which they had entered. Harry could make out the point where the cottages ended and the lane turned
into open country again. They walked as quickly as they dared, past more windows sparkling with multicolored lights, the outlines of Christmas trees dark through the curtains. “How are we going to find Bathilda’s house?” asked Hermione, who was shivering a little and kept glancing back over her shoulder. “Harry? What do you think? Harry?” She tugged at this arm, but Harry was not paying attention. He was looking toward the dark mass that stood at the very end of this row of houses. Next moment he sped up, dragging Hermione along with him, she slipped a little on the ice. “Harry -” “Look… Look at it, Hermione…” “I don’t… oh!” He could see it; the Fidelius Charm must have died with James and Lily. The hedge had grown wild in the sixteen years since Hagrid had taken Harry from the rubble that lay scattered amongst the waist-high grass. Most of the cottage was still standing, though entirely covered in the dark ivy and snow, but the right side of the top floor had been blown apart; that, Harry was sure, was where the curse had backfired. He and Hermione stood at the gate, gazing up at the wreck of what must once have been a cottage just like those that flanked it. “I wonder why nobody’s ever rebuilt it?” whispered Hermione. “Maybe you can’t rebuild it?” Harry replied. “Maybe it’s like the injuries from Dark Magic and you can’t repair the damage?” He slipped a hand from beneath the Cloak and grasped the snowy and thickly rusted gate, not wishing to open it, but simply so he’d some part of the house. “You’re not going to go inside? It looks unsafe, it might – oh, Harry, look!” His touch on the gate seemed to have done it.