Chapter 23 / Shortsighted
Snape strode forward, past Dumbledore, pulling up the left sleeve of his robes as he went. He stuck out his forearm and showed it to Fudge, who recoiled.
‘There,’ said Snape harshly. ‘There. The Dark Mark. It is not as clear as it was an hour or so ago, when it burned black, but you can still see it. Every Death Eater had the sign burned into him by the Dark Lord. It was a means of distinguishing one another, and his means of summoning us to him. When he touched the Mark of any Death Eater, we were to Disapparate, and Apparate, instantly, at his side. This Mark has been growing clearer all year. Karkaroff s too. Why do you think Karkaroff fled tonight? We both felt the Mark burn. We both knew he had returned. Karkaroff fears the Dark Lord's vengeance. He betrayed too many of his fellow Death Eaters to be sure of a welcome back into the fold.’
Fudge stepped back from Snape too. He was shaking his head. He did not seem to have taken in a word Snape had said. He stared, apparently repelled by the ugly mark on Snape's arm, then looked up at Dumbledore and whispered, ‘I don't know what you and your staff are playing at, Dumbledore, but I have heard enough. I have no more to add. I will be in touch with you tomorrow, Dumbledore, to discuss the running of this school. I must return to the Ministry.’
He had almost reached the door when he paused. He turned around, strode back down the dormitory, and stopped at Harry's bed.
‘Your winnings,’ he said shortly, taking a large bag of gold out of his pocket and dropping it onto Harrys bedside table. ‘One thousand Galleons. There should have been a presentation ceremony, but under the circumstances .. .’
‘You son of a -’ I hissed under my breath, but I stopped when I saw Dumbledore’s face.
Fudge crammed his bowler hat onto his head and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him. The moment he had disappeared, Dumbledore turned to look at the group around Harry's bed.
‘There is work to be done,’ he said. ‘Molly... am I right in thinking that I can count on you and Arthur?’
‘Of course you can,’ said Mrs. Weasley. She was white to the lips, but she looked resolute. ‘We know what Fudge is. It's Arthur's fondness for Muggles that has held him back at the Ministry all these years. Fudge thinks he lacks proper wizarding pride.’
‘Then I need to send a message to Arthur,’ said Dumbledore. ‘All those that we can persuade of the truth must be notified immediately, and he is well placed to contact those at the Ministry who are not as shortsighted as Cornelius.’
‘I'll go to Dad,’ said Bill, standing up. ‘I'll go now.’
‘Excellent,’ said Dumbledore. ‘Tell him what has happened. Tell him I will be in direct contact with him shortly. He will need to be discreet, however. If Fudge thinks I am interfering at the Ministry -’
‘Leave it to me,’ said Bill.
He clapped a hand on Harry's shoulder, kissed his mother on the cheek, pulled on his cloak, and strode quickly from the room.
‘Minerva,’ said Dumbledore, turning to Professor McGonagall, ‘I want to see Hagrid in my office as soon as possible. Also - if she will consent to come: Madame Maxime.’
Professor McGonagall nodded and left without a word.
‘Poppy,’ Dumbledore said to Madam Pomfrey, ‘would you be very kind and go down to Professor Moodys office, where I think you will find a house-elf called Winky in considerable distress? Do what you can for her, and take her back to the kitchens. I think Dobby will look after her for us.’
‘Very - very well,’ said Madam Pomfrey, looking startled, and she too left.