All three of them raised their wands again, but none of them struck: they were all gazing, open-mouthed, appalled, at what was happening to the man’s head.
It was shrinking very fast, growing balder and balder, the black hair and stubble retracting into his skull; his cheeks becoming smooth, his skull round and covered with a peachlike fuzz…
A baby’s head now sat grotesquely on top of the thick, muscled neck of the Death Eater as he struggled to get up again; but even as they watched, their mouths open, the head began to swell to its previous proportions again; thick black hair was sprouting from the pate and chin…
“It’s Time,” said Hermione in an awestruck voice. “Time…”
The Death Eater shook his ugly head again, trying to clear it, but before he could pull himself together it began to shrink back to babyhood once more…
There was a shout from a room nearby, then a crash and a scream.
“RON?” Harry yelled, turning quickly from the monstrous transformation taking place before them. “GINNY? LUNA?”
“Harry!” Hermione screamed.
The Death Eater had pulled his head out of the bell jar. His appearance was utterly bizarre, his tiny baby’s head bawling loudly while his thick arms flailed dangerously in all directions, narrowly missing Harry, who had ducked. Harry raised his wand but to his amazement Hermione seized his arm.
“You can’t hurt a baby!”
There was no time to argue the point; Harry could hear more footsteps growing louder from the Hall of Prophecy and knew, too late, that he ought not to have shouted and given away their position.
“Come on!” he said, and leaving the ugly baby-headed Death Eater staggering behind them they took off for the door that stood open at the other end of the room, leading back into the black hallway.
They had run halfway towards it when Harry saw through the open door two more Death Eaters running across the black room towards them; veering left, he burst instead into a small, dark, cluttered office and slammed the door behind them.
“Collo—” began Hermione, but before she could complete the spell the door had burst open and the two Death Eaters had come hurtling inside.
With a cry of triumph, both yelled:
Harry, Hermione and Neville were all knocked backwards off their feet; Neville was thrown over the desk and disappeared from view; Hermione smashed into a bookcase and was promptly deluged in a cascade of heavy books; the back of Harry’s head slammed into the stone wall behind him, tiny lights burst in front of his eyes and for a moment he was too dizzy and bewildered to react.
“WE’VE GOT HIM!” yelled the Death Eater nearest Harry. “IN AN OFFICE OFF—”
“Silencio!” cried Hermione and the man’s voice was extinguished. He continued to mouth through the hole in his mask, but no sound came out. He was thrust aside by his fellow Death Eater.
“Petrificus Totalus!” shouted Harry, as the second Death Eater raised his wand. His arms and legs snapped together and he fell forwards, face down on to the rug at Harry’s feet, stiff as a board and unable to move.
“Well done, Ha—”
But the Death Eater Hermione had just struck dumb made a sudden slashing movement with his wand; a streak of what looked like purple flame passed right across Hermione’s chest. She gave a tiny “Oh!” as though of surprise and crumpled on to the floor, where she lay motionless.
Harry fell to his knees beside her as Neville crawled rapidly towards her from under the desk, his wand held up in front of him. The Death Eater kicked out hard at Neville’s head as he emerged—his foot broke Neville’s wand in two and connected with his face. Neville gave a howl of pain and recoiled, clutching his mouth and nose. Harry twisted around, his own wand held high, and saw that the Death Eater had ripped off his mask and was pointing his wand directly at Harry, who recognised the long, pale, twisted face from the Daily Prophet: Antonin Dolohov, the wizard who had murdered the Prewetts.
Dolohov grinned. With his free hand, he pointed from the prophecy still clutched in Harry’s hand, to himself, then at Hermione. Though he could no longer speak, his meaning could not have been clearer. Give me the prophecy, or you get the same as her…
“Like you won’t kill us all anyway, the moment I hand it over!” said Harry.
A whine of panic inside his head was preventing him thinking properly: he had one hand on Hermione’s shoulder, which was still warm, yet did not dare look at her properly. Don’t let her be dead, don’t let her be dead, it’s my fault if she’s dead…
“Whaddever you do, Harry,” said Neville fiercely from under the desk, lowering his hands to show a clearly broken nose and blood pouring down his mouth and chin, “don’d gib it to him!”
Then there was a crash outside the door and Dolohov looked over his shoulder—the baby-headed Death Eater had appeared in the doorway, his head bawling, his great fists still flailing uncontrollably at everything around him. Harry seized his chance: