Something wet touched Harry’s hand and he jumped backward, crushing Rods foot, but it was only Fang’s nose.

“What d’you reckon?” Harry said to Ron, whose eyes he could just make out, reflecting the light from his wand.

“We’ve come this far,” said Ron.

So they followed the darting shadows of the spiders into the trees. They couldn’t move very quickly now; there were tree roots and stumps in their way, barely visible in the near blackness. Harry could feel Fang’s hot breath on his hand. More than once, they had to stop, so that Harry could crouch down and find the spiders in the wandlight.

They walked for what seemed like at least half an hour, their robes snagging on low slung branches and brambles. After a while, they noticed that the ground seemed to be sloping downward, though the trees were as thick as ever.

Then Fang suddenly let loose a great, echoing bark, making both Harry and Ron jump out of their skins.

“What?” said Ron loudly, looking around into the pitch dark, and gripping Harry’s elbow very hard.

“There’s something moving over there,” Harry breathed. “Listen… sounds like something big…”

They listened. Some distance to their right, the something big was snapping branches as it carved a path through the trees.

“Oh, no,” said Ron. “Oh, no, oh, no, oh—”

“Shut up,” said Harry frantically. “It’ll hear you.”

“Hear me?” said Ron in an unnaturally high voice. “It’s already heard Fang!”

The darkness seemed to be pressing on their eyeballs as they stood, terrified, waiting. There was a strange rumbling noise and then silence.

“What d’you think it’s doing?” said Harry.

“Probably getting ready to pounce,” said Ron.

They waited, shivering, hardly daring to move.

“D’you think it’s gone?” Harry whispered.

“Dunno—”

Then, to their right, came a sudden blaze of light, so bright in the darkness that both of them flung up their hands to shield their eyes. Fang yelped and tried to run, but got lodged in a tangle of thorns and yelped even louder.

“Harry!” Ron shouted, his voice breaking with relief. “Harry, it’s our car!”



“What?”

“Come on!”

Harry blundered after Ron toward the light, stumbling and tripping, and a moment later they had emerged into a clearing.

Mr. Weasley’s car was standing, empty, in the middle of a circle of thick trees under a roof of dense branches, its headlights ablaze. As Ron walked, open mouthed, toward it, it moved slowly toward him, exactly like a large, turquoise dog greeting its owner.

“It’s been here all the time!” said Ron delightedly, walking around the car. “Look at it. The forest’s turned it wild…”

The sides of the car were scratched and smeared with mud. Apparently it had taken to trundling around the forest on its own. Fang didn’t seem at all keen on it; he kept close to Harry, who could feel him quivering. His breathing slowing down again, Harry stuffed his wand back into his robes.

“And we thought it was going to attack us!” said Ron, leaning against the car and patting it. “I wondered where it had gone!”

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