'I - don't - well -' blustered Fudge, looking around as though hoping somebody was going to tell him what to do. When nobody did, he said, 'Very well - Dawlish! Williamson! Go down to the Department of Mysteries and see . . . Dumbledore, you - you will need to tell me exactly - the Fountain of Magical Brethren - what happened?' he added in a kind of whimper, staring around at the floor, where the remains of the statues of the witch, wizard and centaur now lay scattered.
'She doesn't love me,' said Harry at once. 'She doesn't give a damn - '
Harry had not even opened his mouth to resist; his mind was blank, his wand pointing uselessly at the floor.
'We can discuss that after I have sent Harry back to Hogwarts,' said Dumbledore.
'I still don't understand.'
He was gone from the hall, he was locked in the coils of a creature with red eyes, so tightly bound that Harry did not know where his body ended and the creatures began: they were fused together, bound by pain, and there was no escape - '
'If death is nothing, Dumbledore, kill the boy . . .'
Harry was still standing with his hand on the doorknob but was unaware of it. He was gazing at Dumbledore, hardly breathing, listening yet barely understanding what he was hearing.
'He was laughing?' said Harry in a hollow voice.
'Do you see, Harry? Do you see the flaw in my brilliant plan now? I had fallen into the trap I had foreseen, that I had told myself I could avoid, that I must avoid.'
'Five years ago, then,' continued Dumbledore, as though he had not paused in his story, 'you arrived at Hogwarts, neither as happy nor as well-nourished as I would have liked, perhaps, yet alive and healthy. You were not a pampered little prince, but as normal a boy as I could have hoped under the circumstances. Thus far, my plan was working well.
'But Master - he is here - he is below - '
He settled himself on the throne-like chair on which he had been painted and smiled benignly upon Harry.
'I - DON'T!' Harry screamed, so loudly that he felt his throat might tear, and for a second he wanted to rush at Dumbledore and break him, too; shatter that calm old face, shake him, hurt him, make him feel some tiny part of the horror inside himself.
'I guessed, fifteen years ago,' said Dumbledore, 'when I saw the scar on your forehead, what it might mean. I guessed that it might be the sign of a connection forged between you and Voldemort.'
Harry looked up. He could see now that Dumbledore looked sad and tired.
Harry turned back to Dumbledore.
'How do you know all this?' Harry said. His heart was beating very fast. He felt sick. He remembered worrying about Kreacher's odd absence over Christmas, remembered him turning up again in the attic . . .
'Sirius was much too old and clever to have allowed such feeble taunts to hurt him,' said Dumbledore.