"'Severus,' she whispered, tears sliding down her pale cheeks. 'My son... my only son...'" -- Narcissa Malfoy
Narcissa calls on Snape in secret against Voldemort’s orders. Bellatrix tries to stop her, but joins her at Snape’s house anyway. Snape prevents Wormtail’s eavesdropping and tells Bellatrix his story, though she still refuses to trust him; Narcissa then reveals that Voldemort has ordered Draco to do something difficult, and asks Snape to make an Unbreakable Vow – which he then does, saying that he will help Draco carry out the deed, and perform the deed himself if Draco fails.
Calendar and Dates
As with the previous chapter, we are given very little information about this night. It seems to be either the night of or a night after the evening of the previous chapter, and as with that one, it must be early enough in the summer that Harry has not yet left the Dursleys', yet late enough that wizards have been killed and Draco given his orders. This means it is likely early July, or possibly very late June. There's very little more we can determine.
Interesting facts and notes
this Muggle dunghill
Dreary as Cokeworth in PS3 The Letters From No One, tricked out in early industrial misery.
a street named Spinner's End
Nice touch, that; the mill's presence explains the reference to spinning in the street's name, and End is a perfectly ordinary English street name. "Spinner" also suggests a plotter in a spider's web of intrigue, and "end" suggests that either the spinner is to meet his end in this chapter or that this chapter's events will lead to the spinner's end.
Her footsteps echoed on the cobbles
Since Spinner's End is a cobbled street in a Muggle area, it may be quite old.
The walls were completely covered in books, most of them bound in black or brown leather
This sounds like a rather formal sort of library, not running to, say, fiction read for pleasure. Does the wizarding world have paperback books at all, I wonder? Judging from Harry's first impression of Flourish and Blotts, they seem to have every other kind of book.
The place had an air of neglect, as though it was not usually inhabited.
Snape, of course, teaches at Hogwarts from September through June, and appears to remain in residence over the Christmas and Easter holidays, leaving only parts of June, July, and August free to spend significant time living at this house on Spinner's End. The air of neglect suggests that Snape does not keep a house-elf and that he doesn't ordinarily share the house with anyone (such as, for example, some relative) who keeps it up while he's away.
His left hand was caressing his right, which looked as though it was encased in a bright silver glove.
Why does Wormtail have this particular nervous tic? Does the silver hand hurt him? Does he have any sensation in that hand at all?
First mention of this in the books by this name that I can recall. A bloodred wine in dusty bottles.
Fooled the Dark Lord, the greatest wizard, the most accomplished Legilimens the world has ever seen?
Hmpf. Considering the context in which this is being said, I personally recommend taking it with a grain of salt as a considered evaluation of the Dark Lord's skill in Legilimency.
I think you next wanted to know...why I stood between the Dark Lord and the Philosopher's Stone.
Why Snape, whatever made you think anyone wanted to know that?
Does he still, after the fiasco at the Ministry?
Interesting alternate name for the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. Snape has a knack for understatement.
Exceptional character moments
Narcissa Malfoy showed that she cared more about the safety of her son than Voldemort's orders.
Snape told Narcissa and Bellatrix of his devotion to the Dark Lord and agreed to take the Unbreakable Vow in order to prove his loyalty.
"There is nothing I wouldn't do anymore!" Narcissa breathed, a note of hysteria in her voice.
"Do you really think that the Dark Lord has not asked me each and every one of those questions? And do you really think that, had I not been able to give satisfactory answers, I would be sitting here talking to you?"Commentary