Xenophilius halted on the top step.
“I—I’ve already told you. She is down at the Botions Bridge fishing for Plimpies.”
“So why have you only laid that tray for four?”
Xenophilius tried to speak, but no sound came out. The only noise was the continued chugging of the printing press, and a slight rattle from the tray as Xenophilius’s hands shook.
“I don’t think Luna’s been here for weeks,” said Harry. “Her clothes are gone, her bed hasn’t been slept in. Where is she? and why do you keep looking out of the window?”
Xenophilius dropped the tray. The bowls bounced and smashed. Harry, Ron, and Hermione drew their wands. Xenophilius froze his hand about to enter his pocket. At that moment the printing press have a huge bank and numerous Quibblers came streaming across the floor from underneath the tablecloth, the press fell silent at last. Hermione stooped down and picked up one of the magazines, her wand still pointing at Mr. Lovegood.
“Harry, look at this!”
He strode over to her as quickly as he could through all the clutter.
The front of The Quibbler carried his own picture, emblazoned with the words “Undesirable Number One” and captioned with the reward money.
“The Quibbler’s going for a new angle, then?” Harry asked coldly, his mind working very fast. “Is that what you were doing when you went into the garden, Mr. Lovegood? Sending an owl to the Ministry?”
Xenophilius licked his lips.
“They took my Luna,” he whispered, “Because of what I’ve been writing. They took my Luna and I don’t know where she is, what they’ve done to her. But they might give her back to me if I—If I—”
“Hand over Harry?” Hermione finished for him.
“No deal,” said Ron flatly. “Get out of the way, we’re leaving.”
Xenophilius looked ghastly, a century old, his lips drawn back into a dreadful leer.
“They will be here any moment. I must save Luna. I cannot lose Luna. You must not leave.”
He spread his arms in front of the staircase, and Harry had a sudden vision of his mother doing the same thing in front of his crib.
“Don’t make us hurt you,” Harry said. “Get out of the way, Mr. Lovegood.”
“HARRY!” Hermione screamed.
Figures on broomsticks were flying past the windows. As the three of them looked away from him. Xenophilius drew his wand. Harry realized their mistake just in time. He launched himself sideways, shoving Ron and Hermione out of harm’s way as Xenophilius’s Stunning Spell soared across the room and hit the Erumpent horn. There was a colossal explosion. The sound of it seemed to blow the room apart. Fragments of wood and paper and rubble flew in all directions, along with an impenetrable cloud of thick white dust. Harry flew through the air, then crashed to the floor, unable to see as debris rained upon him, his arms over his head. He heard Hermione’s scream, Ron’s yell, and a series of sickening metallic thuds which told him that Xenophilius had been blasted off his feet and fallen backward down the spiral stairs.
Half buried in rubble, Harry tried to raise himself. He could barely breathe or see for dust. Half of the ceiling had fall in and the end of Luna’s bead was hanging through the hole. The bust of Rowena Ravenclaw lay beside him with half its face missing fragments of torn parchment were floating through the air, and most of the printing press lay on its side, blocking the top of the staircase to the kitchen. Then another white shape moved close by, and Hermione, coated in dust like a second statue, pressed his finger to her lips. The door downstairs crashed open.
“Didn’t I tell you there was no need to hurry, Travers?” said a rough voice. “Didn’t I tell you this nutter was just raving as usual?”