He pointed a thick finger at a purple button near the speedometer.

“Please be careful, Hagrid,” said Mr. Weasley, who was standing beside them, holding his broomstick. “I’m still not sure that was advisable and it’s certainly only to be used in emergencies.”

“All right, then,” said Moody. “Everyone ready, please. I want us all to leave at exactly the same time or the whole point of the diversion’s lost.”

Everybody motioned their heads.

“Hold tight now, Ron,” said Tonks, and Harry saw Ron throw a furtive, guilty look at Lupin before placing his hands on each side of her waist. Hagrid kicked the motorbike into life: It roared like a dragon, and the sidecar began to vibrate.

“Good luck, everyone,” shouted Moody. “See you all in about an hour at the Burrow. On the count of three. One… two… THREE.”

There was a great roar from the motorbike, and Harry felt the sidecar give a nasty lurch. He was rising through the air fast, his eyes watering slightly, hair whipped back off his face. Around him brooms were soaring upward too; the long black tail of a thestral flicked past. His legs, jammed into the sidecar by Hedwig’s cage and his rucksack, were already sore and starting to go numb. So great was his discomfort that he almost forgot to take a last glimpse of number four Privet Drive. By the time he looked over the edge of the sidecar he could no longer tell which one it was.

And then, out of nowhere, out of nothing, they were surrounded. At least thirty hooded figures, suspended in midair, formed a vast circle in the middle of which the Order members had risen, oblivious—

Screams, a blaze of green light on every side: Hagrid gave a yell and the motorbike rolled over. Harry lost any sense of where they were. Streetlights above him, yells around him, he was clinging to the sidecar for dear life. Hedwig’s cage, the Firebolt, and his rucksack slipped from beneath his knees—

“No—HEDWIG!”

The broomstick spun too, but he just managed to seize the strap of his rucksack and the top of the cage as the motorbike swung the right way up again. A second’s relief, and then another burst of green light. The owl screeched and fell to the floor of the cage.



“No—NO!”

The motorbike zoomed forward; Harry glimpsed hooded Death Eaters scattering as Hagrid blasted through their circle.

“Hedwig—Hedwig—”

But the owl lay motionless and pathetic as a toy on the floor of her cage. He could not take it in, and his terror for the others was paramount. He glanced over his shoulder and saw a mass of people moving, flares of green light, two pairs of people on brooms soaring off into the distance, but he could not tell who they were—

“Hagrid, we’ve got to go back, we’ve got to go back!” he yelled over the thunderous roar of the engine, pulling out his wand, ramming Hedwig’s cage into the floor, refusing to believe that she was dead. “Hagrid, TURN AROUND!”

“My job’s ter get you there safe, Harry!” bellow Hagrid, and he opened the throttle.

“Stop—STOP!” Harry shouted, but as he looked back again two jets of green light flew past his left ear: Four Death Eaters had broken away from the circle and were pursuing them, aiming for Hagrid’s broad back. Hagrid swerved, but the Death Eaters were keeping up with the bike; more curses shot after them, and Harry had to sink low into the sidecar to avoid them. Wriggling around he cried, “Stupefy!” and a red bolt of light shot from his own wand, cleaving a gap between the four pursuing Death Eaters as they scattered to avoid it.

“Hold on, Harry, this’ll do for ’em!” roared Hagrid, and Harry looked up just in time to see Hagrid slamming a thick finger into a green button near the fuel gauge. A wall, a solid black wall, erupted out of the exhaust pipe. Craning his neck, Harry saw it expand into being in midair. Three of the Death Eaters swerved and avoided it, but the fourth was not so lucky; he vanished from view and then dropped like a boulder from behind it, his broomstick broken into pieces. One of his fellows slowed up to save him, but they and the airborne wall were swallowed by darkness as Hagrid leaned low over the handlebars and sped up.

More Killing Curses flew past Harry’s head from the two remaining Death Eaters’ wands; they were aiming for Hagrid. Harry responded with further Stunning Spells: Red and green collided in midair in a shower of multicolored sparks, and Harry thought wildly of fireworks, and the Muggles below who would have no idea what was happening—

“Here we go again, Harry, hold on!” yelled Hagrid, and he jabbed at a second button. This time a great net burst from the bike’s exhaust, but the Death Eaters were ready for it. Not only did they swerve to avoid it, but the companion who had slowed to save their unconscious friend had caught up. He bloomed suddenly out of the darkness and now three of them were pursuing the motorbike, all shooting curses after it.

“This’ll do it, Harry, hold on tight!” yelled Hagrid, and Harry saw him slam his whole hand onto the purple button beside the speedometer.

With an unmistakable bellowing roar, dragon fire burst from the exhaust, white-hot and blue, and the motorbike shot forward like a bullet with a sound of wrenching metal. Harry saw the Death Eaters swerve out of sight to avoid the deadly trail of flame, and at the same time felt the sidecar sway ominously: Its metal connections to the bike had splintered with the force of acceleration.

“It’s all righ’, Harry!” bellowed Hagrid, now thrown flat onto the back by the surge of speed; nobody was steering now, and the sidecar was starting to twist violently in the bike’s slipstream.

“I’m on it, Harry, don’ worry!” Hagrid yelled, and from inside his jacket pocket he pulled his flowery pink umbrella.

“Hagrid! No! Let me!”

“REPARO!”

There was a deafening bang and the sidecar broke away from the bike completely. Harry sped forward, propelled by the impetus of the bike’s flight, then the sidecar began to lose height—

In desperation Harry pointed his wand at the sidecar and shouted, “Wingardium Leviosa!”

The sidecar rose like a cork, unsteerable but at least still airborne. He had but a split second’s relief, however, as more curses streaked past him: The three Death Eaters were closing in.

“I’m comin’, Harry!” Hagrid yelled from out of the darkness, but Harry could feel the sidecar beginning to sink again: Crouching as low as he could, he pointed at the middle of the oncoming figures and yelled, “Impedimenta!”

The jinx hit the middle Death Eater in the chest; For a moment the man was absurdly spread-eagled in midair as though he had hit an invisible barrier: One of his fellows almost collided with him—

Then the sidecar began to fall in earnest, and the remaining Death Eater shot a curse so close to Harry that he had to duck below the rim of the car, knocking out a tooth on the edge of his seat—

“I’m comin’, Harry, I’m comin’!”

A huge hand seized the back of Harry’s robes and hoisted him out of the plummeting sidecar; Harry pulled his rucksack with him as he dragged himself onto the motorbike’s seat and found himself back-to-back with Hagrid. As they soared upward, away from the two remaining Death Eaters, Harry spat blood out of his mouth, pointed his wand at the falling sidecar, and yelled, “Confringo!”


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