哈利·波特与死亡圣器
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


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    CHAPTER ONE THE DARK LORD ASCENDING
    
    The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane. For a second they stood quite still, wands directed at each other’s chests; then, recognizing each other, they stowed their wands beneath their cloaks and started walking briskly in the same direction.
    “News?” asked the taller of the two.
    “The best,” replied Severus Snape.
    The lane was bordered on the left by wild, low-growing brambles, on the right by a high, neatly manicured hedge. The men’s long cloaks flapped around their ankles as they marched.
    “Thought I might be late,” said Yaxley, his blunt features sliding in and out of sight as the branches of overhanging trees broke the moonlight. “It was a little trickier than I expected. But I hope he will be satisfied. You sound confident that your reception will be good?”
    Snape nodded, but did not elaborate. They turned right, into a wide driveway that led off the lane. The high hedge curved with them, running off into the distance beyond the pair of impressive wrought-iron gates barring the men’s way. Neither of them broke step: In silence both raised their left arms in a kind of salute and passed straight through, as though the dark metal were smoke.
    The yew hedges muffled the sound of the men’s footsteps. There was a rustle somewhere to their right: Yaxley drew his wand again, pointing it over his companion’s head, but the source of the noise proved to be nothing more than a pure-white peacock, strutting majestically along the top of the hedge.
    “He always did himself well, Lucius. Peacocks . . .” Yaxley thrust his wand back under his cloak with a snort.
    A handsome manor house grew out of the darkness at the end of the straight drive, lights glinting in the diamond-paned downstairs windows. Somewhere in the dark garden beyond the hedge a fountain was playing. Gravel crackled beneath their feet as Snape and Yaxley sped toward the front door, which swung inward at their approach, though nobody had visibly opened it.
    The hallway was large, dimly lit, and sumptuously decorated, with a magnificent carpet covering most of the stone floor. The eyes of the pale-faced portraits on the walls followed Snape and Yaxley as they strode past. The two men halted at a heavy wooden door leading into the next room, hesitated for the space of a heartbeat, then Snape turned the bronze handle.
    The drawing room was full of silent people, sitting at a long and ornate table. The room’s usual furniture had been pushed carelessly up against the walls. Illumination came from a roaring fire beneath a handsome marble mantelpiece surmounted by a gilded mirror. Snape and Yaxley lingered for a moment on the threshold. As their
    ASCENDING eyes grew accustomed to the lack of light, they were drawn upward to the strangest feature of the scene: an apparently unconscious human figure hanging upside down over the table, revolving slowly as if suspended by an invisible rope, and reflected in the mirror and in the bare, polished surface of the table below. None of the people seated underneath this singular sight was looking at it except for a pale young man sitting almost directly below it. He seemed unable to prevent himself from glancing upward every minute or so.
    “Yaxley. Snape,” said a high, clear voice from the head of the table. “You are very nearly late.”
    The speaker was seated directly in front of the fireplace, so that it was difficult, at first, for the new arrivals to make out more than his silhouette. As they drew nearer, however, his face shone through the gloom, hairless, snakelike, with slits for nostrils and gleaming red eyes whose pupils were vertical. He was so pale that he seemed to emit a pearly glow.
    “Severus, here,” said Voldemort, indicating the seat on his immediate right. “Yaxley — beside Dolohov.”
    The two men took their allotted places. Most of the eyes around the table followed Snape, and it was to him that Voldemort spoke first.
    “So?”
    “My Lord, the Order of the Phoenix intends to move Harry Potter from his current place of safety on Saturday next, at nightfall.”
    The interest around the table sharpened palpably: Some stiffened, others fidgeted, all gazing at Snape and Voldemort.
    “Saturday . . . at nightfall,” repeated Voldemort. His red eyes fastened upon Snape’s black ones with such intensity that some of the watchers looked away, apparently fearful that they themselves would be scorched by the ferocity of the gaze. Snape, however, looked calmly back into Voldemort’s face and, after a moment or two, Voldemort’s lipless mouth curved into something like a smile.
    “Good. Very good. And this information comes —”
    “— from the source we discussed,” said Snape.
    “My Lord.”
    Yaxley had leaned forward to look down the long table at Voldemort and Snape. All faces turned to him.
    “My Lord, I have heard differently.”
    Yaxley waited, but Voldemort did not speak, so he went on, “Dawlish, the Auror, let slip that Potter will not be moved until the thirtieth, the night before the boy turns seventeen.”
    Snape was smiling.
    “My source told me that there are plans to lay a false trail; this must be it. No doubt a Confundus Charm has been placed upon Dawlish. It would not be the first time; he is known to be susceptible.”
    “I assure you, my Lord, Dawlish seemed quite certain,” said Yaxley.
    “If he has been Confunded, naturally he is certain,” said Snape. “I assure you, Yaxley, the Auror Office will play no further part in the protection of Harry Potter. The Order believes that we have infiltrated the Ministry.”
    “The Order’s got one thing right, then, eh?” said a squat man sitting a short distance from Yaxley; he gave a wheezy giggle that was echoed here and there along the table.
    Voldemort did not laugh. His gaze had wandered upward to the body revolving slowly overhead, and he seemed to be lost in thought.
    ASCENDING
    “My Lord,” Yaxley went on, “Dawlish believes an entire party of Aurors will be used to transfer the boy —”
    Voldemort held up a large white hand, and Yaxley subsided at once, watching resentfully as Voldemort turned back to Snape.
    “Where are they going to hide the boy next?”
    “At the home of one of the Order,” said Snape. “The place, according to the source, has been given every protection that the Order and Ministry together could provide. I think that there is little chance of taking him once he is there, my Lord, unless, of course, the Ministry has fallen before next Saturday, which might give us the opportunity to discover and undo enough of the enchantments to break through the rest.”
    “Well, Yaxley?” Voldemort called down the table, the firelight glinting strangely in his red eyes. “Will the Ministry have fallen by next Saturday?”
    Once again, all heads turned. Yaxley squared his shoulders.
    “My Lord, I have good news on that score. I have — with difficulty, and after great effort — suceeded in placing an Imperius Curse upon Pius Thicknesse.”
    Many of those sitting around Yaxley looked impressed; his neighbor, Dolohov, a man with a long, twisted face, clapped him on the back.
    “It is a start,” said Voldemort. “But Thicknesse is only one man. Scrimgeour must be surrounded by our people before I act. One failed attempt on the Minister’s life will set me back a long way.”
    “Yes — my Lord, that is true — but you know, as Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Thicknesse has regular contact not only with the Minister himself, but also with the Heads of all the other Ministry departments. It will, I think, be easy now that we have such a high-ranking official under our control, to subjugate the others, and then they can all work together to bring Scrimgeour down.”
    “As long as our friend Thicknesse is not discovered before he has converted the rest,” said Voldemort. “At any rate, it remains unlikely that the Ministry will be mine before next Saturday. If we cannot touch the boy at his destination, then it must be done while he travels.”
    “We are at an advantage there, my Lord,” said Yaxley, who seemed determined to receive some portion of approval. “We now have several people planted within the Department of Magical Transport. If Potter Apparates or uses the Floo Network, we shall know immediately.”
    “He will not do either,” said Snape. “The Order is eschewing any form of transport that is controlled or regulated by the Ministry; they mistrust everything to do with the place.”
    “All the better,” said Voldemort. “He will have to move in the open. Easier to take, by far.”
    Again, Voldemort looked up at the slowly revolving body as he went on, “I shall attend to the boy in person. There have been too many mistakes where Harry Potter is concerned. Some of them have been my own. That Potter lives is due more to my errors than to his triumphs.”
    The company around the table watched Voldemort apprehensively, each of them, by his or her expression, afraid that they might be blamed for Harry Potter’s continued existence. Voldemort, however, seemed to be speaking more to himself than to any of them, still addressing the unconscious body above him.
    ASCENDING
    “I have been careless, and so have been thwarted by luck and chance, those wreckers of all but the best-laid plans. But I know better now. I understand those things that I did not understand before. I must be the one to kill Harry Potter, and I shall be.”
    At these words, seemingly in response to them, a sudden wail sounded, a terrible, drawn-out cry of misery and pain. Many of those at the table looked downward, startled, for the sound had seemed to issue from below their feet.
    “Wormtail,” said Voldemort, with no change in his quiet, thoughtful tone, and without removing his eyes from the revolving body above, “have I not spoken to you about keeping our prisoner quiet?”
    “Yes, m-my Lord,” gasped a small man halfway down the table, who had been sitting so low in his chair that it had appeared, at first glance, to be unoccupied. Now he scrambled from his seat and scurried from the room, leaving nothing behind him but a curious gleam of silver.
    “As I was saying,” continued Voldemort, looking again at the tense faces of his followers, “I understand better now. I shall need, for instance, to borrow a wand from one of you before I go to kill Potter.”
    The faces around him displayed nothing but shock; he might have announced that he wanted to borrow one of their arms.
    “No volunteers?” said Voldemort. “Let’s see . . . Lucius, I see no reason for you to have a wand anymore.”
    Lucius Malfoy looked up. His skin appeared yellowish and waxy in the firelight, and his eyes were sunken and shadowed. When he spoke, his voice was hoarse.
    “My Lord?”
    “Your wand, Lucius. I require your wand.”
    “I . . .”
    Malfoy glanced sideways at his wife. She was staring straight ahead, quite as pale as he was, her long blonde hair hanging down her back, but beneath the table her slim fingers closed briefly on his wrist. At her touch, Malfoy put his hand into his robes, withdrew a wand, and passed it along to Voldemort, who held it up in front of his red eyes, examining it closely.
    “What is it?”
    “Elm, my Lord,” whispered Malfoy.
    “And the core?”
    “Dragon — dragon heartstring.”
    “Good,” said Voldemort. He drew out his own wand and compared the lengths. Lucius Malfoy made an involuntary movement; for a fraction of a second, it seemed he expected to receive Voldemort’s wand in exchange for his own. The gesture was not missed by Voldemort, whose eyes widened maliciously.
    “Give you my wand, Lucius? My wand?”
    Some of the throng sniggered.
    “I have given you your liberty, Lucius, is that not enough for you? But I have noticed that you and your family seem less than happy of late. . . . What is it about my presence in your home that displeases you, Lucius?”
    “Nothing — nothing, my Lord!”
    “Such lies, Lucius . . .”
    The soft voice seemed to hiss on even after the cruel mouth had stopped moving. One or two of the wizards barely repressed a shudder as the hissing grew louder; something heavy could be heard sliding across the floor beneath the table.
    ASCENDING
    The huge snake emerged to climb slowly up Voldemort’s chair. It rose, seemingly endlessly, and came to rest across Voldemort’s shoulders: its neck the thickness of a man’s thigh; its eyes, with their vertical slits for pupils, unblinking. Voldemort stroked the creature absently with long thin fingers, still looking at Lucius Malfoy.
    “Why do the Malfoys look so unhappy with their lot? Is my return, my rise to power, not the very thing they professed to desire for so many years?”
    “Of course, my Lord,” said Lucius Malfoy. His hand shook as he wiped sweat from his upper lip. “We did desire it — we do.”
    To Malfoy’s left, his wife made an odd, stiff nod, her eyes averted from Voldemort and the snake. To his right, his son, Draco, who had been gazing up at the inert body overhead, glanced quickly at Voldemort and away again, terrified to make eye contact.
    “My Lord,” said a dark woman halfway down the table, her voice constricted with emotion, “it is an honor to have you here, in our family’s house. There can be no higher pleasure.”
    She sat beside her sister, as unlike her in looks, with her dark hair and heavily lidded eyes, as she was in bearing and demeanor; where Narcissa sat rigid and impassive, Bellatrix leaned toward Voldemort, for mere words could not demonstrate her longing for closeness.
    “No higher pleasure,” repeated Voldemort, his head tilted a little to one side as he considered Bellatrix. “That means a great deal, Bellatrix, from you.”
    Her face flooded with color; her eyes welled with tears of delight.
    “My Lord knows I speak nothing but the truth!”
    “No higher pleasure . . . even compared with the happy event that, I hear, has taken place in your family this week?”
    She stared at him, her lips parted, evidently confused.
    “I don’t know what you mean, my Lord.”
    “I’m talking about your niece, Bellatrix. And yours, Lucius and Narcissa. She has just married the werewolf, Remus Lupin. You must be so proud.”
    There was an eruption of jeering laughter from around the table. Many leaned forward to exchange gleeful looks; a few thumped the table with their fists. The great snake, disliking the disturbance, opened its mouth wide and hissed angrily, but the Death Eaters did not hear it, so jubilant were they at Bellatrix and the Malfoys’ humiliation. Bellatrix’s face, so recently flushed with happiness, had turned an ugly, blotchy red.
    “She is no niece of ours, my Lord,” she cried over the outpouring of mirth. “We — Narcissa and I — have never set eyes on our sister since she married the Mudblood. This brat has nothing to do with either of us, nor any beast she marries.”
    “What say you, Draco?” asked Voldemort, and though his voice was quiet, it carried clearly through the catcalls and jeers. “Will you babysit the cubs?”
    The hilarity mounted; Draco Malfoy looked in terror at his father, who was staring down into his own lap, then caught his mother’s eye. She shook her head almost imperceptibly, then resumed her own deadpan stare at the opposite wall.
    “Enough,” said Voldemort, stroking the angry snake. “Enough.”
    And the laughter died at once.
    “Many of our oldest family trees become a little diseased over time,” he said as Bellatrix gazed at him, breathless and imploring.
    ASCENDING “You must prune yours, must you not, to keep it healthy? Cut away those parts that threaten the health of the rest.”
    “Yes, my Lord,” whispered Bellatrix, and her eyes swam with tears of gratitude again. “At the first chance!”
    “You shall have it,” said Voldemort. “And in your family, so in the world . . . we shall cut away the canker that infects us until only those of the true blood remain. . . .”
    Voldemort raised Lucius Malfoy’s wand, pointed it directly at the slowly revolving figure suspended over the table, and gave it a tiny flick. The figure came to life with a groan and began to struggle against invisible bonds.
    “Do you recognize our guest, Severus?” asked Voldemort.
    Snape raised his eyes to the upside-down face. All of the Death Eaters were looking up at the captive now, as though they had been given permission to show curiosity. As she revolved to face the firelight, the woman said in a cracked and terrified voice, “Severus! Help me!”
    “Ah, yes,” said Snape as the prisoner turned slowly away again.
    “And you, Draco?” asked Voldemort, stroking the snake’s snout with his wand-free hand. Draco shook his head jerkily. Now that the woman had woken, he seemed unable to look at her anymore.
    “But you would not have taken her classes,” said Voldemort. “For those of you who do not know, we are joined here tonight by Charity Burbage who, until recently, taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
    There were small noises of comprehension around the table. A broad, hunched woman with pointed teeth cackled.
    “Yes . . . Professor Burbage taught the children of witches and wizards all about Muggles . . . how they are not so different from us . . .”
    One of the Death Eaters spat on the floor. Charity Burbage revolved to face Snape again.
    “Severus . . . please . . . please . . .”
    “Silence,” said Voldemort, with another twitch of Malfoy’s wand, and Charity fell silent as if gagged. “Not content with corrupting and polluting the minds of Wizarding children, last week Professor Burbage wrote an impassioned defense of Mudbloods in the Daily Prophet. Wizards, she says, must accept these thieves of their knowledge and magic. The dwindling of the purebloods is, says Professor Burbage, a most desirable circumstance. . . . She would have us all mate with Muggles . . . or, no doubt, werewolves. . . .”
    Nobody laughed this time: There was no mistaking the anger and contempt in Voldemort’s voice. For the third time, Charity Burbage revolved to face Snape. Tears were pouring from her eyes into her hair. Snape looked back at her, quite impassive, as she turned slowly away from him again.
    “Avada Kedavra.”
    The flash of green light illuminated every corner of the room. Charity fell, with a resounding crash, onto the table below, which trembled and creaked. Several of the Death Eaters leapt back in their chairs. Draco fell out of his onto the floor.
    “Dinner, Nagini,” said Voldemort softly, and the great snake swayed and slithered from his shoulders onto the polished wood.
    
    第一章 黑魔王崛起
    
    两个男人从虚空中突然现身,在月光映照的窄巷里相隔几米。他们一动不动地站立了一秒钟,用魔杖指着对方的胸口。接着,两人互相认了出来,便把魔杖塞进斗篷下面,朝同一方向快步走去。
    “有消息吗?”个子高一些的那人问。
    “再好不过了。”西弗勒斯·斯内普回答。
    小巷的左边是胡乱生长的低矮的荆棘丛,右边是修剪得整整齐齐的高高的树篱。两人大步行走,长长的斗篷拍打着他们的脚踝。
    “我还以为迟到了呢。”亚克斯利说道,头顶上低悬的树枝不时地遮挡住月光,他愚钝的五官显得忽明忽暗,“没想到事情会这么棘手,不过我希望他会满意。听你的口气,你好像相信自己会受到欢迎?”
    斯内普点点头,但没有细说。他们往右一转,离开小巷,进入一条宽宽的汽车道。高高的树篱也跟着拐了个弯,向远处延伸,两扇气派非凡的锻铁大门挡住了两人的去路。他们谁也没有停住脚步,而是像行礼一样默默地抬起左臂,径直穿了过去,就好像那黑色的锻铁不过是烟雾一般。
    紫杉树篱使两人的脚步声听上去发闷。右边什么地方传来沙沙的响声,亚克斯利又抽出魔杖,举过同伴的头顶,结果发现弄出声音的是一只白孔雀,在树篱顶上仪态万方地走着。
    “这个卢修斯,总是搞得这么讲究,孔雀……”亚克斯利哼了一声,把魔杖塞回斗篷下面。
    笔直的车道尽头,一幢非常体面的宅邸赫然出现在黑暗中,底层窗户的菱形玻璃射出闪亮的灯光。在树篱后面黑黢黢的花园里,什么地方有个喷泉在喷水。斯内普和亚克斯利吱嘎吱嘎地踩着砂砾路朝正门走去,刚走到跟前,不见有人开门,门却自动朝里打开了。
    门厅很大,光线昏暗,布置得十分豪华,一条华贵的地毯几乎覆盖了整个石头地面。斯内普和亚克斯利大步走过时,墙上那些脸色苍白的肖像用目光跟随着他们。两人在一扇通向另一房间的沉重的木门前停下脚步,迟疑了一下,斯内普转动了青铜把手。
    客厅里满是沉默不语的人,都坐在一张装潢考究的长桌旁边。房间里平常用的家具被胡乱地推到墙边。华丽的大理石壁炉里燃着熊熊旺火,火光照着屋子,壁炉上方是一面镀金的镜子。斯内普和亚克斯利在门口停留了一会儿,等适应了昏暗的光线后,他们的目光被长桌上方一幕最奇怪的景象吸引住了:一具神志似乎不清的人体头朝下悬在桌子上方,像是被一根无形的绳子吊着,慢慢旋转,身影映在镜子里,映在空荡荡的、擦得铮亮的桌面上。在座的那些人谁也没去看这幕奇异的景象,只有一个差不多正好位于它下方的脸色惨白的年轻人除外。他似乎无法克制自己,不时地往上扫一眼。
    “亚克斯利,斯内普,”桌首响起一个高亢、清晰的声音,“你们差点就迟到了。”
    说话的人坐在壁炉正前方,亚克斯利和斯内普一开始只能隐约分辨出他的轮廓。等他们走近了,那人的脸才从阴影里闪现出来:没有头发,像蛇一样,两道细长的鼻孔,一双闪闪发亮的红眼睛,瞳孔是垂直的。他的肤色十分苍白,似乎发出一种珍珠般的光。
    “西弗勒斯,坐在这里吧,”伏地魔指了指紧挨他右边的那个座位,“亚克斯利——坐在多洛霍夫旁边。”
    两人在指定的位置上坐了下来。桌旁大多数人的目光都跟着斯内普,伏地魔也首先对他说话:“怎么样?”
    “主人,凤凰社打算下个星期六傍晚把哈利·波特从现在的安全住所转移出去。”
    桌旁的人明显地来了兴趣:有的挺直了身子,有的好像坐不住了,都用眼睛盯着斯内普和伏地魔。
    “星期六……傍晚。”伏地魔重复了一句。他的红眼睛死死盯着斯内普的黑眼睛,目光如此锐利,旁边的几个人赶紧望向别处,似乎担心那凶残的目光会灼伤自己。斯内普却不动声色地望着伏地魔的脸,片刻之后,伏地魔那没有唇的嘴扭曲成一个古怪的笑容。
    “好,很好。这个情报来自——”
    “来自我们谈论过的那个出处。”斯内普说。“主人。”
    亚克斯利探身望着长桌那头的伏地魔和斯内普。大家都把脸转向了他。
    “主人,我听到不同的情报。”
    亚克斯利等了等,但伏地魔没有说话,他继续往下说道:“德力士,就是那个傲罗,据他透露,波特要到30号,也就是他满17岁前的那个晚上才转移呢。”
    斯内普微微一笑。
    “向我提供消息的人告诉我,他们计划散布一些虚假情报,这肯定就是了。毫无疑问,德力士中了混淆咒。这不是第一次了,他立场不稳是出了名的。”
    “我向您保证,主人,德力士看上去很有把握。”亚克斯利说。
    “如果中了混淆咒,他自然很有把握,”斯内普说,“我向你保证,亚克斯利,傲罗办公室在掩护哈利·波特的行动中将不再起任何作用。凤凰社相信我们的人已经打入魔法部。”
    “如此看来,凤凰社总算弄对了一件事,嗯?”坐在离亚克斯利不远处的一个矮胖的男人说。他呼哧带喘地笑了几声,长桌旁的几个人也跟着笑了起来。
    伏地魔没有笑。他将目光转向头顶上那具慢慢旋转着的人体,似乎陷入了沉思。
    “主人,”亚克斯利继续说,“德力士相信所有的傲罗都要参加转移那个男孩——”
    伏地魔举起一只苍白的大手,亚克斯利立刻不做声了,怨恨地看着伏地魔把目光又转向了斯内普。
    “接下来他们打算把那男孩藏在哪儿?”
    “藏在某个凤凰社成员的家里。”斯内普说,“据情报说,那个地方已经采取了凤凰社和魔法部所能提供的各种保护措施。我认为,一旦他到了那里,就很难有机会抓住他了。当然啦,除非魔法部在下个星期六之前垮台,主人,那样我们或许有机会发现和解除一些魔咒,继而突破其他魔咒。”
    “怎么样,亚克斯利?”伏地魔朝桌子那头大声问,火光在他的红眼睛里发出诡异的光芒,“魔法部到下个星期六之前会垮台吗?”
    大家又一次把脑袋都转了过来。亚克斯利挺起胸膛。
    “主人,这方面我有好消息。我——克服重重困难,经过种种努力——成功地给皮尔斯·辛克尼斯施了夺魂咒。”
    亚克斯利周围的许多人露出钦佩的神情。坐在他旁边的多洛霍夫——一个长着一张扭曲的长脸的男人,拍了拍他的后背。
    “这倒令人吃惊,”伏地魔说道,“但辛克尼斯只是一个人。在我们行动之前,斯克林杰周围必须全是我们的人。暗杀部长的努力一旦失败,我们就会前功尽弃。”
    “是的——主人,的确如此——可是您知道,辛克尼斯是魔法法律执行司的司长,他不仅与部长本人,而且与魔法部各司的司长都有频繁接触。我想,我们要是把这样一位高级官员控制住了,再制服别人就容易了,然后他们可以一起努力,把斯克林杰赶下台去。”
    “但愿我们的朋友辛克尼斯在改造别人前不要暴露身份,”伏地魔说,“不管怎样,魔法部是不可能在下个星期六之前垮台的。既然不能在那男孩到达目的地以后抓他,我们就必须趁他在路上的时候动手。”
    “主人,这方面我们有一个优势,”亚克斯利说,他似乎打定主意要得到一些夸奖,“我们已经在魔法交通司里安插了几个人。如果波特幻影移形或使用飞路网,我们立刻就会知道。”
    “他不会这么做的,”斯内普说,“凤凰社会避开任何受魔法部控制和管理的交通方式。凡是和魔法部有关的,他们都不相信。”
    “这样更好,”伏地魔说,“他只好在露天转移。要抓住他就容易多了。”
    伏地魔又抬起目光,望着那具慢慢旋转的人体,一边继续说道:“我要亲自对付那个男孩。在哈利·波特的问题上,失误太多了。有些是我自己的失误。波特能活到今天,更多的是由于我的失误,而不是他的成功。”
    长桌旁的人战战兢兢地注视着伏地魔,从他们的表情看,似乎每个人都担心自己会因为哈利·波特仍然活着而受到责难。不过,伏地魔不像是针对他们某一个人,而更像是自言自语,他的目光仍然对着上方那具昏迷的人体。
    “我太大意了,所以被运气和偶然因素挫败,只有最周密的计划才不会被这些东西破坏。现在我明白了,我明白了一些以前不明白的东西。杀死哈利·波特的必须是我,也必定是我。”
    伏地魔的话音刚落,突然传来一声痛苦的哀号,拖得长长的,凄惨无比,像是在回答他的话。桌旁的许多人都大惊失色地往下看去,因为那声音似乎是从他们脚下发出来的。
    “虫尾巴,”伏地魔那平静的、若有所思的声音毫无变化,目光也没有离开上面那具旋转的人体,“我没有跟你说过吗?让我们的俘虏保持安静!”
    “是,主——主人。”桌子中间一个矮个子男人结结巴巴地说道。他坐在那里显得特别矮,猛一眼看去,还以为椅子里没有人。他慌慌张张地从椅子上爬下来,匆忙离开了房间,身后只留下一道奇怪的银光。
    “我刚才说了,”伏地魔看着自己的追随者们紧张的面孔,继续说道,“我现在明白多了。比如,我需要从你们某个人手里借一根魔杖,再去干掉波特。”
    周围的人脸上满是惊愕,就好像他刚才宣布说要借他们一条胳膊似的。
    “没有人自愿?”伏地魔说,“让我想想……卢修斯,我看你没有理由再拿着魔杖了。”
    卢修斯·马尔福抬起头。在火光的映照下,他的皮肤显得蜡黄蜡黄的,一双眼睛深陷下去,神色忧郁,说话声音沙哑。
    “主人?”
    “你的魔杖,卢修斯。我要你的魔杖。”
    “我……”
    马尔福侧眼望了望妻子。她呆呆地目视着前方,脸色和他的一样苍白,长长的金黄色头发披散在背后,可是在桌子底下,她用细长的手指轻轻握了握马尔福的手腕。马尔福感觉到了她的触摸,便把手伸进长袍,抽出一根魔杖,递给伏地魔。伏地魔把魔杖举到他的红眼睛前面,仔细端详着。
    “是什么做的?”
    “榆木的,主人。”马尔福小声说。
    “杖芯呢?”
    “龙——龙的神经。”
    “很好。”伏地魔说。他抽出自己的魔杖,比较着长短。
    卢修斯·马尔福不由自主地动弹了一下,刹那间,他似乎指望伏地魔能拿自己的魔杖换他的那根。伏地魔注意到了他的表现,恶毒地睁大了眼睛。
    “把我的魔杖给你,卢修斯?我的魔杖?”
    有几个人发出窃笑。
    “我给了你自由,卢修斯,这对你来说还不够吗?像我注意到,你和你的家人最近好像不太高兴……待在你家里,有什么让你们不愉快的吗,卢修斯?”
    “没有——没有,主人!”
    “全是撒谎,卢修斯……”
    他冷酷的嘴已经不动了,但低低的嘶嘶声似乎还在响着。这声音越来越大,一两个巫师忍不住打了个寒战,只听见桌子底下的地板上有个笨重的东西在爬。
    巨蛇探出身,慢慢爬上伏地魔的椅子。它越攀越高,似乎永无止境,然后把身子搭在伏地魔的肩膀上。它的身体和人的大腿一样粗,眼睛一眨不眨,瞳孔垂直着。伏地魔用细长的手指漫不经心地抚摸着巨蛇,眼睛仍然望着卢修斯·马尔福。
    “为什么马尔福一家对他们的境况表现得这么不高兴呢?这么多年来,他们不是一直口口声声地宣称希望我复出,希望我东山再起吗?”
    “那是当然,主人,”卢修斯·马尔福说道。他用颤抖的手擦去嘴唇上边的汗,“我们确实是这样——现在也是。”
    在马尔福左边,他的妻子纳西莎古怪而僵硬地点了点头,眼睛躲避着伏地魔和那条蛇。他的右边是他儿子德拉科,刚才一直盯着长桌上方那具毫无生气的人体,此刻迅速扫了一眼伏地魔,又赶紧移开目光,不敢跟他对视。
    “主人,”说话的是坐在桌子中间的一个黑皮肤女人,她激动得声音发紧,“您待在我们家里是我们的荣幸。没有比这更令人高兴的了。”
    贝拉特里克斯坐在她妹妹旁边。她黑头发,肿眼泡,模样不像她妹妹,举止神情也完全不同。纳西莎僵硬地坐在那里,面无表情,贝拉特里克斯则朝伏地魔探过身子,似乎用语言还不能表达她渴望与他接近的意愿。
    “没有比这更令人高兴的了。”伏地魔学着她的话,把脑袋微微偏向一边,打量着贝拉特里克斯,“这句话从你嘴里说出来,可是意义非凡哪,贝拉特里克斯。”
    贝拉特里克斯顿时脸涨得通红,眼睛里盈满喜悦的泪水。
    “主人知道我说的都是真心话!”
    “没有比这更令人高兴的了……跟我听说的你们家这星期发生的那件喜事相比呢?”
    贝拉特里克斯呆呆地望着他,嘴唇微微张着,似乎被弄糊涂了。
    “我不明白您的意思,主人。”
    “我说的是你的外甥女,贝拉特里克斯。也是你们的外甥女,卢修斯和纳西莎。她刚刚嫁给了狼人莱姆斯·卢平。你们肯定骄傲得很吧?”
    桌子周围爆发出一片讥笑声。许多人探身向前,互相交换着愉快的目光,有几个还用拳头擂起了桌子。巨蛇不喜欢这样的骚动,气呼呼地张大嘴巴,发出嘶嘶的声音。可是食死徒们没有听见,贝拉特里克斯和马尔福一家受到羞辱,令他们太开心了。贝拉特里克斯刚才还幸福得满脸通红,可此刻脸上红一块、白一块的,难看极了。
    “主人,她不是我们的外甥女,”她在闹哄哄的欢笑声中大声喊道,“自从我们的妹妹嫁给那个泥巴种之后,我们——纳西莎和我——从来都没有正眼瞧过她。那个孩子,还有她嫁的那个畜牲,都跟我们没有任何关系。”
    “德拉科,你说呢?”伏地魔问,他的声音虽然很轻,却清晰地盖过了尖叫声和嘲笑声,“你会去照料那些小狼崽子吗?”
    场面更热闹了。德拉科·马尔福惊恐地望着父亲,他的父亲低头盯着自己的膝盖,接着他碰到了母亲的目光。他的母亲几乎不易察觉地摇摇头,然后又面无表情地盯着对面的墙壁。
    “够了,”伏地魔抚摸着生气的巨蛇,说道,“够了。”
    笑声立刻平息了。
    “长期以来,我们的许多最古老的家族变得有点病态了。”他说。贝拉特里克斯屏住呼吸,恳切地盯着他。“你们必须修剪枝叶,让它保持健康,不是吗?砍掉那些威胁到整体健康的部分。”
    “是的,主人,”贝拉特里克斯小声说,眼里又盈满了感激的泪水,“只要有机会!”
    “会有机会的,”伏地魔说,“在你们家族里,在整个世界上……我们都要剜去那些侵害我们的烂疮,直到只剩下血统纯正的巫师……”
    伏地魔举起卢修斯·马尔福的魔杖,对准悬在桌子上方微微旋转的人体,轻轻一挥。那人呻吟着醒了过来,开始拼命挣脱那些看不见的绳索。
    “你认得出我们的客人吗,西弗勒斯?”伏地魔问。
    斯内普抬起眼睛望着那张颠倒的脸。此刻,所有的食死徒都抬头看着这个被俘的人,好像他们得到批准,可以表现出他们的好奇心了。那女人旋转着面对炉火时,用沙哑而恐惧的声音说:“西弗勒斯!救救我!”
    “噢,认出来了。”斯内普说,犯人又缓缓地转过去了。
    “你呢,德拉科?”伏地魔用那只没拿魔杖的手抚摸着巨蛇的鼻子,问道。德拉科猛地摇了一下脑袋。现在这女人醒了,他倒似乎不敢再看她了。
    “不过你大概没有上过她的课,”伏地魔说,“有些人可能不认识她,我来告诉你们吧,今晚光临我们这里的是凯瑞迪·布巴吉,她此前一直在霍格沃茨魔法学校教书。”
    桌子周围发出轻轻的、恍然大悟的声音。一个宽肩膀、驼背、牙齿尖尖的女人咯咯地笑了起来。
    “对……布巴吉教授教巫师们的孩子学习关于麻瓜的各种知识……说麻瓜和我们并没有多少差别……”
    一个食死徒朝地下吐了口唾沫。凯瑞迪·布巴吉又转过来面对着斯内普。
    “西弗勒斯……求求你……求求你……”
    “安静。”伏地魔说着又轻轻一抖马尔福的魔杖,凯瑞迪像被堵住了嘴,立即不做声了,“布巴吉教授不满足于腐蚀毒化巫师孩子的头脑,上星期还在《预言家日报》上写了篇文章,慷慨激昂地为泥巴种辩护。她说巫师必须容忍那些人盗窃他们的知识和魔法。布巴吉教授说,纯种巫师人数的减少是一种极为可喜的现象……她希望我们都跟麻瓜……毫无疑问,还有狼人……通婚……”
    这次没有人笑。毫无疑问,伏地魔的声音里透着愤怒和轻蔑。凯瑞迪·布巴吉第三次转过来面对着斯内普。泪水从她的眼睛里涌出,流进了头发里。斯内普一脸冷漠地望着她,慢慢地,她又转了过去。
    “阿瓦达索命。”
    一道绿光照亮了房间的每个角落。轰隆一声,凯瑞迪落到桌面上,震得桌子颤抖着发出嘎吱声。几个食死徒惊得缩进椅子里。德拉科从座位滑到了地板上。
    “用餐吧,纳吉尼。”伏地魔轻声说,巨蛇晃晃悠悠地离开了他的肩头,慢慢爬向光滑的木头桌面。
    

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