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The next chamber was so dark they couldn't see anything at all. But as they stepped into it, light suddenly flooded the room to reveal an astonishing sight.
"Ready?" Ron called, his face pale but determined. "Here I go - now, don't hang around once you've won."
The white queen turned her blank face toward him.
"Neville," she said, "I'm really, really sorry about this."
"Do you think they'll attack us if we cross the room?" said Ron.
"Stop moving!" Hermione ordered them. "I know what this is -- it's Devil's Snare!"
They walked past a mossy tree stump. Harry could hear running water; there must be a stream somewhere close by. There were still spots of unicorn blood here and there along the winding path.
Harry had taken one step toward it when a slithering sound made him freeze where he stood. A bush on the edge of the clearing quivered.... Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came crawling across the ground like some stalking beast. Harry, Malfoy, and Fang stood transfixed. The cloaked figure reached the unicorn, lowered its head over the wound in the animal's side, and began to drink its blood.
"We'll just have to --" Harry began, but a voice suddenly rang across the hall.
Harry couldn't speak, but Hagrid understood.
It was Ginny Weasley, Ron's younger sister, but she wasn't pointing at Ron.
They reached the end of the passageway and saw before them a brilliantly lit chamber, its ceiling arching high above them. It was full of small, jewel-bright birds, fluttering and tumbling all around the room. On the opposite side of the chamber was a heavy wooden door.
They stepped over the threshold, and immediately a fire sprang up behind them in the doorway. It wasn't ordinary fire either; it was purple. At the same instant, black flames shot up in the doorway leading onward. They were trapped.
Hermione ran to turn him over. Neville's jaws were jammed together so he couldn't speak. Only his eyes were moving, looking at them in horror.
The forest was black and silent. A little way into it they reached a fork in the earth path, and Harry, Hermione, and Hagrid took the left path while Malfoy, Neville, and Fang took the right.