Harry had heard Malfoys words as clearly as if he had been standing next to him, but what good was this information if he was powerless to act on it? He needed to get back to Dumbledore and he needed to get there sooner rather than later.
Winding up his Extendable Ear and stuffing it back into the pocket of his jeans, Harry silently reached into his bag and gripped the doxies through the cotton pillowcase. After a couple of minutes, Harry judged the distance between him and Goyle and tossed the doxies right at him.
His aim was still good just like the time he tossed a firework in Goyle Juniors cauldron of Swelling Solution back in his second year the doxies landed bang on target! Goyles face!
The doxies did what doxies do they sank their sharp teeth into the first bit of flesh they saw and their venom made Goyle scream in agony. Thrashing his arms around and trying ineffectually to pull the maddened little creatures off, Goyle stumbled backwards, tripped and toppled over the balustrade. Harrys heart felt sickened when he heard the unmistakable thud of a body hitting the ground. Looking briefly over the balustrade,he saw Goyles splayed body on the terrace with a spreading pool of blood catching the last rays of the setting sun.
He ducked back down, afraid hed be seen if anyone glanced up at the roof. Someone was bound to come up in the next few minutes so it didnt give him much time.
Goyle had dropped the Omnioculars and Harry quickly picked them up and, risking being seen from within the library, he stood up and focused them on the table down below. Pressing the record button on the side, he was able to scan across the table and zoom in on all the names and locations. Once he was satisfied that he had it all safely recorded, he turned to the people in the room zooming in on them one by one. Although Harry only knew Malfoy, MacNair, Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange and a couple of the others by name, Harry felt sure that he had seen some of their faces in the Daily Prophet over the last year or so. No doubt Dumbledore would know them all and would find their allegiance to Voldemort of paramount interest.
Voices could now be heard on the terrace below and Harry was able to pick out Malfoys shout for someone to "Check on Potter!" His time was up! It would surely only be a few minutes before his absence was detected and the search started.
If only I had my Firebolt! thought Harry. Knowing that even if he had his wand, his Firebolt was too far away for a Summoning Charm so Harry looked around to searchfor any way to escape.
I cant go down the ivy now; the terrace is swarming with Death Eaters and their lackeys. Cant fly without a broom. Shame there isnt a hippogriff or thestrel around when I need one or even Fawkes. Yes, Dumbledores pet phoenix would certainly come in handy right now, but he was back at Hogwarts with the Headmaster.
Harry had gone all around the roof trying to see if there was another way to the ground when he spotted a strand of whispering vine that had snaked up over the balustrade and bridged the gap between the roof and the nearby treetops. He knew from Herbology that the vine was exceptionally strong as well as being a good communicator;in fact it was the closely packed tightly wound strands that made listening through it so easy, but would it be strong enough to hold Harrys weight?
Well, Harry thought, I can stay here and be recaptured or I can give it a go. The worst that can happen is that I fall to the ground and break something (done that once before and dontfancy doing it again) just hope it isnt my back! Still it cant be any worse than what Voldemorts planning for me.
Harry carefully stowed the Omnioculars into the pillowcase whilst at the same time removing the second length of the cord taken from the curtains. Harry tied the ends of the cord together making a circle and swung his legs over the balustrade. Harry passed the circle of cord over the vine so that a loop hung over each side through which he passed his wrists; taking a deep breath he dropped over and started to slide down into the trees.
As he was sliding, the cord was severing several leaves from the vine and they fell silently to the ground.
Please dont look up! Harry prayed as he travelled the 60-odd feet to the treetops, but, like the vine, his luck seemed to hold up and he was able to gain a footing without attracting attention.
But what to do now?
Should he make his way down the tree to the ground and get away on foot as quickly as possible?
Or should he stay where he was?
Deciding to stay hidden in the canopy of the trees while he observed the actions of his pursuers, Harry used the cord to secure himself to the tree trunk. The last thing he wanted was to fall asleep and drop like a stone to the ground. He settled himself to watch once more using the Omnioculars.
The hue and cry seemed to die down a couple of hours later, but not before Harry had heard Lucius Malfoy screaming blue murder at someone. A few minutes later, Harry was aware of Voldemorts towering fury when he felt his scar searing with pain. Harry closed his eyes and could see Malfoy kneeling before Voldemort, his towering rage breaking over Malfoy like storm-tossed waves crashing upon the shore and he couldnt help but grin. When he heard Voldemort cast Crucio on the crouching figure before him, however, the grin was wiped from Harrys face as a wave of agony broke over him and his world went black.
It was many hours later that Harry finally regained consciousness. He was still secure in the treetop with his sack of acquisitions safe at his side and the sun was rising in a pale opalescent sky.
Upon waking, Harry wondered where on earth he was. All he could see were the leaves of the tree he was in. Good thing I tied myself to the tree or I would have hit the ground head first! thought Harry. With a minimum of movement, he raised the Omnioculars to his eyes and checked for the enemy.
Odd, he thought, surely they would have left someone behind to check for me? Its what he would have done, but then he always thought that Ron was right when he said that most Death Eaters were one Knut short of a Sickle.
Harry used the Omnioculars again to plan an escape route away from Malfoy Manor. Searching the parkland from his treetop vantage point, Harry was surprised to see what looked like
A Muggle caravan and camp site?
Harry just couldnt believe his luck! It was the perfect place to get lost in, as Harry knew the Death Eaters would stick out like the proverbial sore thumb there, and Harry felt sure that this close to whatever Voldemort, had planned he wouldnt risk drawing Muggle attention.
Harry checked his bearings before making his way carefully and silently to the ground, deciding to stay within the cover of the trees down to the ornamental lake. He planned to follow the shoreline to where the lake flowed into a river that meandered through a couple of fields before becoming the border of the campsite. Reaching the waters edge, Harry drank his fill. He couldnt remember ever having been as thirsty as he was right now.
Deciding that his scent and footprints would be less easily tracked if he stayed in the water, Harry stepped into the freezing cold river turning downstream towards the Muggles.
It was hard going walking barefoot along the riverbed, but at least his tracks couldnt be followed as easily he hoped! Hadnt he seen this tactic used in loads of old films on TV, surely it must be right? He walked onwards checking regularly to see if anyone was in sight, Harry remembered to check the air as well because near to the Manor the Death Eaters could use brooms with impunity due to the height of the surrounding trees. Once I reach the open fields I should be safer from aerial attack, Harry thought, but he would also be easier to spot.
Harry was desperately tired and wanted to rest, but knew that if he did, he would be all too readily re-captured. He had to keep going until he found some shelter. He pushed himself onwards knowing that since he had not eaten for two days his energy wouldnt last out much longer.
At last the river passed under a small hump-backed bridge which carried the road passed the camp site. Unfortunately, the bridge also had a very new looking grid of ironwork stretching from beneath the arch down into the water. Harrys escape route meant that he had no choice but to leave the riverbed and climb the slippery fern-covered bank. Once he had managed that, he had to climb over the high stone walls that surrounded the Malfoy Manor Estate, cross the road, andclimb a second lower wall before he could drop back down to the river.
Through the arch Harry could see the neat rows of caravans, some with lines of washing outside, and his heart skipped a beat. So close, he was so close.
Please dont let me be caught now. If I can just get to the caravans Im bound to find somewhere to hide, thought Harry.
With a great deal of effort and after having fallen back down to the rivers edge at least twice, Harry at last managed to stand atop the riverbank a climb of only ten or twelve feet, but it felt much, much higher. The grass here was much higher and felt pleasant on Harrys poor abused feet and he stood a moment getting his breath back before pressing on to the next task.
From here Harry could see that the estate wall was a good ten or twelve feet high as well. How on earth was he going to climb that? He could follow it until he came to a gate, but he imagined that Malfoy would have guards posted on each one. So he had no choice, up and over it had to be, but how?
Walking through the long grass trying to think of ways to get over this seemingly insurmountable problem, Harry suddenly let out a scream of pain and fell forward. More pain as Harry was stung over and over again.
He quickly pushed himself up onto his knees and looked down.
He was in a patch of nettles and, being barefoot, the nettles had stung his feet and ankles and they were rapidly swelling. His hands and the side of his neck were also stung and the pain was horrendous.
Dock leaves, I need to find dock leaves! Knowing that wherever nettles grew, dock leaves would also grow, Harry started searching for the large leafed plant so he could quickly get relief from the pain. He found some near the foot of the wall and he also found what looked like the old grid from under the bridge.
Thank goodness for lazy workmen, thought Harry. It would be perfect for him to use to climb up and over the wall. Once he had used enough of the dock leaves to at least reduce the pain from the nettles, Harry set to moving the old grid to a position where he could use it. The rusty old iron cut into his feet terribly, making them bleed profusely.
Well theres not much I can do about disguising my scent trail now. Still once Im in the campsite it should be less easy to follow.
Standing on the top of the grid, Harry readied himself to go over the top and found the top of the wall had broken glass embedded in it. Of course, it couldnt be just plain bricks could it, oh no much too easy! Harry thought.
Looking around, Harry could see a load of rubbish caught in the gridwork under the bridge. He slid back down the bank and ploughed into the water once more. The icy water brought some blessed relief to his sore feet and he splashed some up on the hot and stinging sores on his face and neck.
Among the rubbish were some empty cardboard boxes, but they seemed to have little substance to them and tore at the slightest touch. Harry searched on and underneath the remains of a front car bumper where he found something that he thought would do nicely.
Harry struggled up the bank once more, this time dragging with him a rubber car mat. Deciding he didnt want to cut open his feet any further, Harry sat with his back to the wall and used his meagre tools to their best advantage.
The pillowcase hed used to hold the doxies was quickly cut into lengths using the broken glass shard and Harry wrapped his feet as best he could. Packing everything away once more, he climbed the grid with the mat and placed it on the glass. It wasnt very wide, but it would have to do. Hoisting his weight up on to his hands that were resting on the narrow strip of glass-free cement atop the wall, he carefully swung one leg over.
Now came the tricky bit!
He had to put all his weight on one hand while he carefully positioned the other on the far edge of the wall. Taking a deep breath, he went for it, but as soon as he lifted his hand, he lost his balance and toppled over the wall. He landed on the tarmac of the road some twelve feet below him, but he had also succeeded in cutting open his left leg.
Blood was pouring out of a cut on the inside of his left thigh, but Harry had to ignore it and press on as quickly as he could. Fortunately there were no cars in sight and he hobbled across the road and climbed the low wall sliding back down the bank into the water.
For a few minutes he just lay there, the cold water making him shiver despite the sun being high in the sky. Well at least my wounds have been washed! he thought, but then .
Panic rose once more until he checked and found that they were quite undamaged. Must have an Unbreakable charm on them,Harry realised, but also thought, Ive got to get them to the Order as quickly as I can.
The campsite was bustling with activity, as it was the beginning of the school holidays. Every caravan seemed to have people sitting outside enjoying a pleasant lunch in the open air. Realising he was attracting more than a few stares from holidaymakers, Harry moved as quickly as he could to the edge of the site and walked behind the last row of caravans.
From here he could hear happy voices all around him and wished that he were simply here on holiday with his mum and dad, without a care in the world; instead he was on the run and terrified that hed be caught at any minute.
His exhaustion was becoming extreme by now and he knew that he must rest but where?
Selecting the only caravan that looked unoccupied, Harry crawled beneath it to keep out of sight. Hed stolen a couple of bath sheets from washing lines and used them now as makeshift bedding and curled up to sleep.
Harry had only closed his eyes when images began to form.
He was standing in the library of Malfoy Manor; kneeling at his feet were Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange, MacNair, Rookwood, Crabbe Snr and Wormtail.
When Harry spoke he was no longer surprised that it was the high cruel voice of Lord Voldemort. "Report, Lucius."
"My Lord, we have searched the entire estate, Potter is nowhere to be found. Im s sorry, my Lord!"
"Sorry will not do, Lucius. I do not accept sorry! Timing of our endeavour is critical and without Potters presence among us, it is bound to fail. I do not accept failure; do you hear me, Lucius? I do not accept failure! CRUCIO!"
The word had been spoken softly, gently, almost caressingly, but the scream of Lucius Malfoy was anything but soft and gentle. The screams born of an unbearable agony were ripped from his throat and Harry could see flecks of blood shoot outof Malfoys mouth. When the curse was lifted, Malfoy croaked, "You are most generous, my Lord. I will recover Potter, I will guarantee that he will be at the Circle on time. You can rely on me."
"Be certain that I can, Lucius; dear Narcissa would look so pale in widows weeds, dont you think?"
Harry had been surprised that the connection had not been severed by the Cruciatus curse and continued to view the scene through those pitiless red eyes.
"For my plan to succeed I need more than just Potter however. Dear Bella, have you yet located the talisman and book?"
Bellatrix Lestrange stood, head bowed, and reported. "My Lord, we gained valuable information from Samuel Parminter of Devizes as to the last reported location of both talisman and book. He claimed that Dumbledore had foreseen the usefulness of the items you seek and took great pains to conceal their whereabouts. We gained this much knowledge, but unfortunately the force used to break through Dumbledores Memory Charms was such that we regret that Parminter will never speak again. He did manage to tell us that the items Travelled to the East, but we have not been able to determine to where."
"To the East you say, Bella? He said nothing more than that?"
"He kept pointing to his fireplace, my Lord, but we assumed he was hoping to use the Floo Network to escape our questioning, but that is all."
At that moment a family arrived to take up occupancy of the caravan beneath which Harry was hiding and the noise woke him from his slumber. Forgetting where he was for a moment, Harry tried to sit up and hit his head on the caravans floor. Cursing loudly, Harry lay back down but not before he had been heard.
"ere, Dad! Theres a kid hiding underneath our van!"
"What the devil?" bellowed the father in a voice that was strongly reminiscent of Uncle Vernon. "Get out here this instant, you dirty, thieving little " But Harry didnt hang around to hear anything else.
Scrambling on all fours, Harry ran for it. He couldnt let himself be taken to the Muggle Police, not that hed get in much bother for nicking a couple of towels, but because for all he knew, the Ministry of Magic could have alerted them just as they had when Sirius had escaped from Azkaban. He had to keep moving, had to stay free at all costs.
Fortunately the pursuit didnt last long, but Harrys feet were still causing him a lot of pain.
Shoes, got to get myself some shoes but how? thought Harry.
The happy sounds of laughter were soon heard from what was obviously an outdoor swimming pool.
Realising he still had one of the bath sheets in his hands, Harry went into a toilet and shower block nearby; stripping off his torn and tattered jeans and sweatshirt, Harry tied the bath sheet around his waist. Carefully rolling up his tatty clothing, Harry stepped out towards the pool. Now he looked just like dozens of other teenagers walking to and from the pool. Nobody paid the slightest attention as he sat down on a bench and took his time surveying the scene.
It was only a few minutes later that a group of lads almost the same height as Harry came bustling over, pushing and shoving each other in fun. They dumped their towels and shoes on Harrys bench and dived in.
Unrolling his jeans and sweatshirt, Harry draped them casually over the nearest pair of trainers and continued to watch the scene. When he felt certain that he was unobserved, he stood up and picked up his clothes along with the trainers. Strolling as casually as he could, he left the enclosure, his heart beating a fast tattoo against his ribs, and headed back to the toilet and shower block.
He hated having to steal like this and he was determined that, although it was necessary, he would make every effort to make amends that is if he survived long enough.
He redressed his feet with the remaining strips of pillowcase and put on the trainers. They would normally have been one size too large for him, but his poor abused feet were so swollen from the nettles, cuts and unaccustomed barefoot walking that they fitted just fine.
OK,thought Harry, now for some food. There must be somewhere where I can get something to eat. Walking on, he saw a site map that had an area marked Food Court. Maybe, just maybe Ill get lucky!
The food court was designed to look like an Olde English Village; the buildings were all black and white mock Tudor in style, but contained shops such as Pizza-2-Go and FishnChicks and Buckets oChips.
Harry watched as a boy aged about 12 walked in to the fish and chip shop and said to the spotty teenager serving behind the counter, "Ive come to pick up the order for 32 Elm Field. Names Adamson and my dads already paid."
The spotty teenager checked on a list and said, "Sorry, kid itll be another ten minutes. Youll have to come back."
"OK," the kid said and off he went.
Harry waited about 5 minutes and strolled casually to the same shop, but the assistant had changed. It was now a middle-aged woman.
"Ive come to pick up the order for 32 Elm Field. Names Adamson and my dads already paid," said Harry.
"Right you are, love. Thats one cod and chips, one plaice and chips, one extra portion of chips, two cheeseburgers, and a bottle of Diet Coke."
The food and drink were packed in a carrier and Harry walked out, not believing his luck. He felt sorry for the Adamsons going hungry, but his need was much greater than theirs.