'We need to get back up to the castle,' said Hermione faintly.
'I don't know!' squealed Hermione, terrified. 'I'm sorry, Grawp, I don't know!'
'I've got a broom!' said Ginny.
'Four, Hermione,' said Ginny, scowling.
One of the giants massive hands reached down. Hermione let out a real scream, ran a few steps backwards and fell over. Devoid of a wand, Harry braced himself to punch, kick, bite or whatever else it took as the hand swooped towards him and knocked a snow-white centaur off his legs.
'OK,' he said, but did not move. He had just heard something. There were faint whispering, murmuring noises coming from the other side of the veil.
'Where do we go from here, then?' she asked Harry in a politely interested voice, as though this was all a rather interesting day-trip.
He looked down at the back of his Thestral's glossy black head and swallowed.
'Well, we need three,' said Hermione, who was still looking a little shaken, but determined just the same.
'We are not all like the traitor Firenze, human girl!' shouted the grey centaur, to more neighing roars of approval from his fellows. 'Perhaps you thought us pretty talking horses? We are an ancient people who will not stand wizard invasions and insults! We do not recognise your laws, we do not acknowledge your superiority, we are - '
There are ways of flying other than with broomsticks,' said Luna serenely.
Harry's eyes met Ron's. He knew Ron was thinking exactly what he was: if he could have chosen any members of the DA, in addition to himself, Ron and Hermione, to join him in the attempt to rescue Sirius, he would not have picked Ginny, Neville or Luna.
This is it,' Harry said again, and his heart was now pumping so hard and fast he felt it must interfere with his speech, 'it's through here - '
The door of the telephone box burst open; Harry toppled out of it, closely followed by Neville and Luna. The only sound in the Atrium was the steady rush of water from the golden fountain, where jets from the wands of the witch and wizard, the point of the centaur's arrow, the tip of the goblin's hat and the house-elf's ears continued to gush into the surrounding pool.
Ron did it, his arm bent bizarrely to reach the dial; as it whirred back into place the cool female voice sounded inside the box.
Harry knew at once, from the look on the face of the grey centaur holding Hermione, that she had made a terrible mistake in saying this. The grey centaur threw back his head, his back legs stamping furiously, and bellowed, 'You see, Ronan? They already have the arrogance of their kind! So we were to do your dirty work, were we, human girl? We were to act as your servants, drive away your enemies like obedient hounds?'
If they were too late . . .
Drifting along in the sparkling current inside was a tiny, jewel-bright egg. As it rose in the jar, it cracked open and a hummingbird emerged, which was carried to the very top of the jar, but as it fell on the draught its feathers became bedraggled and damp again, and by the time it had been borne back to the bottom of the jar it had been enclosed once more in its egg.
Beyond the Veil