“Let’s get going, then, I don’t want to drink this muck,” said Ron. “Hermione, have you got Muggle money to pay for this?”
“Yes, I took out all my Building Society savings before I came to the Burrow. I’ll bet all the change is at the bottom,” sighed Hermione, reaching for her beaded bag.
The two workmen made identical movements, and Harry mirrored them without conscious thought: All three of them drew their wands. Ron, a few seconds late in realizing what was going on, lunged across the table, pushing Hermione sideways onto her bench. The force of the Death Eaters’ spells shattered the tiled wall where Ron’s head had just been, as Harry, still invisible, yelled, “Stupefy!”
The great blond Death Eater was hit in the face by a jet of red light: He slumped sideways, unconscious. His companion, unable to see who had cast the spell, fired another at Ron: Shining black ropes flew from his wand-tip and bound Ron head to foot – the waitress screamed and ran for the door – Harry sent another Stunning Spell it the Death Eater with the twisted face who had tied up Ron, but the spell missed, rebounded on the window, and hit the waitress, who collapsed in front of the door.
“Expulso!” bellowed the Death Eater, and the table behind which Harry was standing blew up: The force of the explosion slammed him into the wall and he felt his wand leave his hand as the Cloak slipped off him.
“Petrificus Totalus!” screamed Hermione from out of sight, and the Death Eater fell forward like a statue to land with a crunching thud on the mess of broken china, table, and coffee. Hermione crawled out from underneath the bench, shaking bits of glass ashtray out of her hair and trembling all over.
“D-diffindo,” she said, pointing her wand at Ron, who roared in pain as she slashed open the knee of his jeans, leaving a deep cut. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Ron, my hand’s shaking! Diffindo!”
The severed ropes fell away. Ron got to his feet, shaking his arms to regain feeling in them. Harry picked up his wand and climbed over all the debris to where the large blond Death Eater was sprawled across the bench.
“I should’ve recognized him, he was there the night Dumbledore died,” he said. He turned over the darker Death Eater with his foot; the man’s eyes moved rapidly between Harry, Ron and Hermione.
“That’s Dolohov,” said Ron. “I recognize him from the old wanted posters. I think the big one’s Thorfinn Rowle.”
“Never mind what they’re called!” said Hermione a little hysterically. “How did they find us? What are we going to do?”
Somehow her panic seemed to clear Harry’s head.
“Lock the door,” he told her, “and Ron, turn out the lights.”
He looked down at the paralyzed Dolohov, thinking fast as the lock clicked and Ron used the Deluminator to plunge the café into darkness. Harry could hear the men who had jeered at Hermione earlier, yelling at another girl in the distance.
“What are we going to do with them?” Ron whispered to Harry through the dark; then, even more quietly, “Kill them? They’d kill us. They had a good go just now.”
Hermione shuddered and took a step backward. Harry shook his head.
“We just need to wipe their memories,” said Harry. “It’s better like that, it’ll throw them off the scent. If we killed them it’d be obvious we were here.”
“You’re the boss,” said Ron, sounding profoundly relieved. “But I’ve never down a Memory Charm.”
“Nor have I,” said Hermione, “but I know the theory.”
She took a deep, calming breath, then pointed her wand at Dolohov’s forehead and said, “Obliviate.”
At once, Dolohov’s eyes became unfocused and dreamy.
“Brilliant!” said Harry, clapping her on the back. “Take care of the other one and the waitress while Ron and I clear up.”
“Clear up?” said Ron, looking around at the partly destroyed café. “Why?”
“Don’t you think they might wonder what’s happened if they wake up and find themselves in a place that looks like it’s just been bombed?”
“Oh right, yeah…”
Ron struggled for a moment before managing to extract his wand from his pocket.
“It’s no wonder I can’t get it out, Hermione, you packed my old jeans, they’re tight.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” hissed Hermione, and as she dragged the waitress out of sight of the windows, Harry heard her mutter a suggestion as to where Ron could stick his wand instead.
Once the café was restored to its previous condition, they heaved the Death Eaters back into their booth and propped them up facing each other. “But how did they find us?” Hermione asked, looking from one inert man to the other. “How did they know where we were?”
She turned to Harry.
“You – you don’t think you’ve still got your Trace on you, do you, Harry?”
“He can’t have,” said Ron. “The Trace breaks at seventeen, that’s Wizarding law, you can’t put it on an adult.”
“As far as you know,” said Hermione. “What if the Death Eaters have found a way to put it on a seventeen-year-old?”
“But Harry hasn’t been near a Death Eater in the last twenty-four hours. Who’s supposed to have put a Trace back on him?”
Hermione did not reply. Harry felt contaminated, tainted: Was that really how the Death Eaters had found them?
“If I can’t use magic, and you can’t use magic near me, without us giving away our position – ” he began.
“We’re not splitting up!” said Hermione firmly.
“We need a safe place to hide,” said Ron. “Give us time to think things through.”