... Harry could feel his face burning. Snape was pausing at the end of every sentence to allow the Slytherins a hearty laugh. The article sounded ten times worse when read by Snape. Even Hermione was blushing scarlet now.

“'…Harry Potter's well-wishers must hope that, next time, he bestows his heart upon a worthier candidate.’ How very touching,” sneered Snape, rolling up the magazine to continued gales of laughter from the Slytherins. “Well, I think I had better separate the three of you, so you can keep your minds on your potions rather than on your tangled love lives. ...

I don't quite understand the part in bold above. It might be because the use of 'to' is confusing. "rolling up the magazine to" doesn't seem to make much sense to me. How should we understand it?

2 Answers 2


The usual expression is along the lines of “sing along/tap your foot/dance/etc. to the sound of music”. It means that you’re doing something so that it matches up with the music in rhythm and (if applicable) pitch.

In the same way, Snape rolling up the magazine appeared to mesh with people laughing. It’s more literary than something with a more specific meaning here.

Interestingly enough the OED defines the expression more broadly as “To the accompaniment of; as an accompaniment to” and groups in an expression that’s probably obsolete: “to ride to hounds”, which was used when people followed hounds on horseback as they tracked something.

  • 4
    I would not say there is any element of Snape rolling up the magazine along with the rhythm of the laughter. For me it just means at the same time as the Slytherins were laughing.
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 14:31
  • 2
    It doesn't have to "mesh". It's simply an omission of the phrase 'to the sound of'.
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 20:25

It's kind of a mixture between "which made the Slytherins laugh" and "while the Slytherins were laughing". The "to" combines this temporal (the two things happen at the same time) and causal relation. Different examples for using "to" like that:

"George's coffin slowly submerged into the soil to the heartrending cries of his family."

"He entered the stage to frenetic shouting by the crowd."

"John slowly poured water onto the boys head to the strange and touching sound of the monk's ancient ritual chants."

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