BOOK 1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

CHAPTER ONE – THE BOY WHO LIVED

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they
were perfect ly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect
to be involved in anything st range or mysterious, because they j ust didn’t hold with
such nonsense.
Mr. Dursley was the director of a f irm called Grunnings, which made drills. He
was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large
mustache. Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of
neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her t ime craning over garden
fences, spying on the neighbors. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in
their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.
The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret , and their
greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn’t think they could bear it
if anyone found out about the Pot ters. Mrs. Pot ter was Mrs. Dursley’s sister, but they
hadn’t met for several years; in fact , Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn’t have a sister,
because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish as it was
possible to be. The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbors would say if the
Pot ters arrived in the st reet . The Dursleys knew that the Pot ters had a small son, too,
but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the
Potters away; they didn’t want Dudley mixing with a child like that.
When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts,
there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that st range and mysterious
things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked
out his most boring t ie for work, and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away happily as she
wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair.
None of them noticed a large, tawny owl flutter past the window.
At half past eight , Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on
the cheek, and t ried to kiss Dudley good-bye but missed, because Dudley was now
having a tant rum and throwing his cereal at the walls. “Lit t le tyke,” chort led Mr.
Dursley as he left the house. He got into his car and backed out of number four’s drive.
It was on the corner of the st reet that he not iced the first sign of something
peculiar – a cat reading a map. For a second, Mr. Dursley didn’t realize what he had
seen – then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on
the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn’t a map in sight . What could he have been
thinking of? It must have been a t rick of the light . Mr. Dursley blinked and stared at
the cat . It stared back. As Mr. Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he
watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive – no,
looking at the sign; cats.couldn’t read maps or signs. Mr. Dursley gave himself a lit t le
shake and put the cat out of his mind. As he drove toward town he thought of nothing
except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day.
But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by something else.
As he sat in the usual morning t raf fic j am, he couldn’t help not icing that there seemed
to be a lot of st rangely dressed people about . People in cloaks. Mr. Dursley couldn’t
bear people who dressed in funny clothes – the getups you saw on young people! He
supposed this was some stupid new fashion. He drummed his fingers on the steering
wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of these weirdos standing quite close by. They
were whispering excitedly together. Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of
them weren’t young at all; why, that man had to be older than he was, and wearing an
emerald-green cloak! The nerve of him! But then it st ruck Mr. Dursley that this was
probably some silly stunt – these people were obviously collect ing for something…
yes, that would be it . The t raffic moved on and a few minutes later, Mr. Dursley
arrived in the Grunnings parking lot, his mind back on drills.
Mr. Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth
floor. If he hadn’t , he might have found it harder to concent rate on drills that
morning. He didn’t see the owls swoop ing past in broad daylight , though people down
in the st reet did; they pointed and gazed open- mouthed as owl after owl sped
overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl even at night t ime. Mr. Dursley,
however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morning. He yelled at five different people.
He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit more. He was in a very
good mood unt il luncht ime, when he thought he’d st retch his legs and walk across the
road to buy himself a bun from the bakery.
He’d forgot ten all about the people in cloaks unt il he passed a group of them
next to the baker’s. He eyed them angrily as he passed. He didn’t know why, but they
made him uneasy. This bunch was whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn’t see a
single collect ing t in. It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a
bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying. “The Pot ters, that ‘s right ,
t hat’s what I heard yes, their son, Harry”
Mr. Dursley stopped dead. Fear flooded him. He looked back at the whisperers
as if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it.
He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his
secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone, and had almost finished dialing his
home number when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and st roked
his mustache, thinking… no, he was being stupid. Potter wasn’t such an unusual name.
He was sure there were lots of people called Pot ter who had a son called Harry. Come
to think of it , he wasn’t even sure his nephew was called Harry. He’d never even seen
the boy. It might have been Harvey. Or Harold. There was no point in worrying Mrs.
Dursley; she always got so upset at any ment ion of her sister. He didn’t blame her – if
he’d had a sister like that… but all the same, those people in cloaks…
He found it a lot harder to concent rate on drills that afternoon and when he
left the building at five o’clock, he was st ill so worried that he walked st raight into
someone just outside the door.
“Sorry,” he grunted, as the t iny old man stumbled and almost fell. It was a few
seconds before Mr. Dursley realized that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn’t
seem at all upset at being almost knocked to the ground. On the cont rary, his face
split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passersby stare, “Don’t
be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today! Rej oice, for You-Know-Who
has gone at last ! Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrat ing, this happy, happy
day!”
And the old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle and walked off.
Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot . He had been hugged by a complete
st ranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was. He was
rat t led. He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things,
which he had never hoped before, because he didn’t approve of imagination.
As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw – and it
didn’t improve his mood – was the tabby cat he’d spot ted that morning. It was now
sit t ing on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings
around its eyes.
“Shoo!” said Mr. Dursley loudly. The cat didn’t move. It j ust gave him a stern
look. Was this normal cat behavior? Mr. Dursley wondered. Trying to pull himself
together, he let himself into the house. He was st ill determined not to ment ion
anything to his wife.
Mrs. Dursley had had a nice, normal day. She told him over dinner all about
Mrs. Next Door’s problems with her daughter and how Dudley had learned a new word
(“Won’t !”). Mr. Dursley t ried to act normally. When Dudley had been put to bed, he
went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news:
“And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nat ion’s owls
have been behaving very unusually today. Although owls normally hunt at night and
are hardly ever seen in daylight , there have been hundreds of sight ings of these birds
flying in every direction since sunrise. Experts are unable to explain why the owls have
suddenly changed their sleeping pattern.”
The newscaster allowed himself a grin. “Most mysterious. And now, over to Jim
McGuffin with the weather. Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?”
“Well, Ted,” said the weatherman, “I don’t know about that , but it ‘s not only
the owls that have been act ing oddly today. Viewers as far apart as Kent , Yorkshire,
and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised
yesterday, they’ve had a downpour of shoot ing stars! Perhaps people have been
celebrating Bonfire Night early – it’s not until next week, folks! But I can promise a wet
night tonight.”
Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shoot ing stars all over Britain? Owls
flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? And a whisper, a
whisper about the Pot ters….Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups
of tea. It was no good. He’d have to say something to her. He cleared his throat
nervously. “Er – Petunia, dear – you haven’t heard from your sister lately, have you?”
As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry. After all, they
normally pretended she didn’t have a sister.
“No,” she said sharply. “Why?”
“Funny stuff on the news,” Mr. Dursley mumbled. “Owls… shoot ing stars… and
there were a lot of funny-looking people in town today…”
“So?” snapped Mrs. Dursley.
“Well, I j ust thought … maybe… it was something to do with… you know… her
crowd.”
Mrs. Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr. Dursley wondered whether
he dared tell her he’d heard the name “Pot ter.” He decided he didn’t dare. Instead he
said, as casually as he could, “Their son – he’d be about Dudley’s age now, wouldn’t he?”
“I suppose so,” said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.
“What’s his name again? Howard, isn’t it?”
“Harry. Nasty, common name, if you ask me.”
“Oh, yes,” said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. “Yes, I quite agree.”
He didn’t say another word on the subj ect as they went upstairs to bed. While
Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom, Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom window and
peered down into the front garden. The cat was st ill there. It was staring down Privet
Drive as though it were waiting for something.
Was he imagining things?Could all this have anything to do with the Pot ters? If
it did… if it got out that they were related to a pair of –well, he didn’t think he could
bear it . The Dursleys got into bed. Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly but Mr. Dursley lay
awake, turning it all over in his mind. His last , comfort ing thought before he fell
asleep was that even if the Pot ters were involved, there was no reason for them to
come near him and Mrs. Dursley. The Pot ters knew very well what he and Petunia
thought about them and their kind…. He couldn’t see how he and Petunia could get
mixed up in anything that might be going on – he yawned and turned over – it couldn’t
affect them….
How very wrong he was.
Mr. Dursley might have been drift ing into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the
wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It was sit t ing as st ill as a statue, its
eyes fixed unblinkingly on the far corner of Privet Drive. It didn’t so much as quiver
when a car door slammed on the next street, nor when two owls swooped overhead. In
fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all.
A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so
suddenly and silent ly you’d have thought he’d j ust popped out of the ground. The cat ‘s
tail twitched and its eyes narrowed. Nothing like this man had ever been seen on
Privet Drive. He was tall, thin, and very old, j udging by the silver of his hair and
beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt . He was wearing long robes,
a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes
were light , bright , and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very
long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This man’s name was
Albus Dumbledore. Albus Dumbledore didn’t seem to realize that he had j ust arrived in
a st reet where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome. He was busy
rummaging in his cloak, looking for something. But he did seem to realize he was being
watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat , which was st ill staring at him
from the other end of the st reet . For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to
amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, “I should have known.”
He found what he was looking for in his inside pocket . It seemed to be a silver
cigaret te lighter. He f licked it open, held it up in the air, and clicked it . The nearest
st reet lamp went out with a lit t le pop. He clicked it again – the next lamp flickered
into darkness. Twelve t imes he clicked the Put -Outer, unt il the only lights left on the
whole st reet were two t iny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat
watching him. If anyone looked out of their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs.
Dursley, they wouldn’t be able to see anything that was happening down on the
pavement . Dumbledore slipped the Put -Outer back inside his cloak and set off down
the st reet toward number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat . He
didn’t look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.
“Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.”
He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a
rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exact ly the shape of the
markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald
one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.
“How did you know it was me?” she asked.
“My dear Professor, I’ve never seen a cat sit so stiffly.”
“You’d be st iff if you’d been sit t ing on a brick wall all day,” said Professor
McGonagall.
“All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and
part ies on my way here.” Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily. “Oh yes, everyone’s
celebrat ing, all right ,” she said impat ient ly. “You’d think they’d be a bit more careful,
but no – even the Muggles have not iced something’s going on. It was on their news.”
She j erked her head back at the Dursleys’ dark living-room window. “I heard it . Flocks
of owls… shoot ing stars…. Well, they’re not completely stupid. They were bound to
not ice something. Shoot ing stars down in Kent – I’ll bet that was Dedalus Diggle. He
never had much sense.”
“You can’t blame them,” said Dumbledore gent ly. “We’ve had precious lit t le to
celebrate for eleven years.”
“I know that ,” said Professor McGonagall irritably. “But that ‘s no reason to lose
our heads. People are being downright careless, out on the st reets in broad daylight ,
not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumors.”
She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he
was going to tell her something, but he didn’t , so she went on. “A fine thing it would
be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last , the Muggles
found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?”
“It certainly seems so,” said Dumbledore. “We have much to be thankful for.
Would you care for a lemon drop?”
“A what?”
“A lemon drop. They’re a kind of Muggle sweet I’m rather fond of”
“No, thank you,” said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn’t think
this was the moment for lemon drops. “As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone -”
“My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his
name? All this ‘You-Know-Who’ nonsense – for eleven years I have been t rying to
persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort .” Professor McGonagall
flinched, but Dumbledore, who was unsticking two lemon drops, seemed not to notice.
“It all gets so confusing if we keep saying ‘You-Know-Who.’ I have never seen any
reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort’s name.
“I know you haven’t , said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half
admiring. “But you’re different . Everyone knows you’re the only one You-Know- oh, all
right, Voldemort, was frightened of.”
“You flat ter me,” said Dumbledore calmly. “Voldemort had powers I will never
have.”
“Only because you’re too – well – noble to use them.”
“It ‘s lucky it ‘s dark. I haven’t blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she
liked my new earmuffs.”
Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and said, “The owls are
nothing next to the rumors that are flying around. You know what .everyone’s saying?
About why he’s disappeared? About what finally stopped him?”
It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she was most
anxious to discuss, the real reason she had been wait ing on a cold, hard wall all day,
for neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing
stare as she did now. It was plain that whatever “everyone” was saying, she was not
going to believe it unt il Dumbledore told her it was t rue. Dumbledore, however, was
choosing another lemon drop and did not answer.
“What they’re saying,” she pressed on, “is that last night Voldemort turned up in
Godric’s Hollow. He went to find the Pot ters. The rumor is that Lily and James Pot ter
are – are – that they’re – dead. ”
Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.
“Lily and James… I can’t believe it… I didn’t want to believe it… Oh, Albus…”
Dumbledore reached out and pat ted her on the shoulder. “I know… I know…”
he said heavily.
Professor McGonagall’s voice t rembled as she went on. “That ‘s not all. They’re
saying he t ried to kill the Pot ter’s son, Harry. But – he couldn’t . He couldn’t kill that
lit t le boy. No one knows why, or how, but they’re saying that when he couldn’t kill
Harry Potter, Voldemort’s power somehow broke – and that’s why he’s gone.
Dumbledore nodded glumly.
“It’s – it ‘s t rue?” faltered Professor McGonagall. “After all he’s done… all the
people he’s killed… he couldn’t kill a lit t le boy? It ‘s j ust astounding… of all the things
to stop him… but how in the name of heaven did Harry survive?”
“We can only guess,” said Dumbledore. “We may never know.”
Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes
beneath her spectacles. Dumbledore gave a great sniff as he took a golden watch from
his pocket and examined it . It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no
numbers; instead, lit t le planets were moving around the edge. It must have made
sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put it back in his pocket and said, “Hagrid’s
late. I suppose it was he who told you I’d be here, by the way?”
“Yes,” said Professor McGonagall. “And I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me
why you’re here, of all places?”
“I’ve come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They’re the only family he has
left now.”
“You don’t mean – you can’t mean the people who live here?” cried Professor
McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four.
“Dumbledore – you can’t. I’ve been watching them all day. You couldn’t find two
people who are less like us. And they’ve got this son – I saw him kicking his mother all
the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!”
“It’s the best place for him,” said Dumbledore firmly. “His aunt and uncle will be
able to explain everything to him when he’s older. I’ve written them a letter.”
“A let ter?” repeated Professor McGonagall faint ly, sit t ing back down on the
wall. “Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a let ter? These people
will never understand him! He’ll be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today
was known as Harry Pot ter day in the future – there will be books writ ten about Harry
– every child in our world will know his name!”
“Exact ly,” said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon
glasses. “It would be enough to turn any boy’s head. Famous before he can walk and
talk! Famous for something he won’t even remember! Can’ t you see how much bet ter
off he’ll be, growing up away from all that until he’s ready to take it?”
Professor McGonagall opened her mouth, changed her mind, swallowed, and
then said, “Yes – yes, you’re right , of course. But how is the boy get t ing here,
Dumbledore?” She eyed his cloak suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding
Harry underneath it.
“Hagrid’s bringing him.”
“You think it – wise – to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?”
“I would trust Hagrid with my life,” said Dumbledore.
“I’m not saying his heart isn’t in the right place,” said Professor McGonagall
grudgingly, “but you can’t pretend he’s not careless. He does tend to – what was that?”
A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily
louder as they looked up and down the st reet for some sign of a headlight ; it swelled
to a roar as they both looked up at the sky – and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air
and landed on the road in front of them.
If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sit t ing ast ride it . He was
almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five t imes as wide. He looked simply
too big to be allowed, and so wild – long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid
most of his face, he had hands the size of t rash can lids, and his feet in their leather
boots were like baby dolphins. In his vast , muscular arms he was holding a bundle of
blankets.
“Hagrid,” said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. “At last . And where did you get
that motorcycle?”
“Borrowed it , Professor Dumbledore, sit ,” said the giant , climbing carefully off
the motorcycle as he spoke. “Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I’ve got him, sir.”.
“No problems, were there?”
“No, sir – house was almost dest royed, but I got him out all right before the
Muggles started swarmin’ around. He fell asleep as we was flyin’ over Bristol.”
Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the bundle of
blankets. Inside, j ust visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep. Under a tuf t of j et -black
hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.
“Is that where -?” whispered Professor McGonagall.
“Yes,” said Dumbledore. “He’ll have that scar forever.”
“Couldn’t you do something about it, Dumbledore?”
“Even if I could, I wouldn’t . Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above
my lef t knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground. Well – give him here,
Hagrid – we’d better get this over with.”
Dumbledore took Harry in his arms and turned toward the Dursleys’ house.
“Could I – could I say goodbye to him, sir?” asked Hagrid. He bent his great ,
shaggy head over Harry and gave him what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery
kiss. Then, suddenly, Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog.
“Shhh!” hissed Professor McGonagall, “you’ll wake the Muggles!”
“S-s-sorry,” sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large, spotted handkerchief and burying
his face in it. “But I c-c-can’t stand it – Lily an’ James dead – an’ poor little Harry off ter
live with Muggles -”
“Yes, yes, it’s all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we’ll be found,”
Professor McGonagall whispered, pat t ing Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore
stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door. He laid Harry gent ly
on the doorstep, took a let ter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry’s blankets, and
then came back to the other two. For a full minute the three of them stood and
looked at the lit t le bundle; Hagrid’s shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked
furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore’s eyes seemed to
have gone out.
“Well,” said Dumbledore finally, “that’s that. We’ve no business staying here. We
may as well go and join the celebrations.”
“Yeah,” said Hagrid in a very muffled voice, “I’ll be takin’ Sirius his bike back.
G’night, Professor McGonagall – Professor Dumbledore, sir.”
Wiping his st reaming eyes on his j acket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the
motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and of f into
the night.
“I shall see you soon, I expect , Professor McGonagall,” said Dumbledore,
nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply.
Dumbledore turned and walked back down the st reet . On the corner he
stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once, and twelve balls of light
sped back to their st reet lamps so that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he
could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the st reet .
He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four.
“Good luck, Harry,” he murmured. He turned on his heel, and with a swish of
his cloak, he was gone.
A breeze ruf fled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and t idy
under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen.
Harry Pot ter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed
on the let ter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he
was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours’ t ime by Mrs. Dursley’s
scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bot t les, nor that he would
spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley… He
couldn’t know that at this very moment , people meet ing in secret all over the count ry
were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Pot ter – the boy
who lived!”
CHAPTER TWO – THE VANISHING GLASS
Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had woken up to find their
nephew on the f ront step, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at all. The sun rose on
the same t idy front gardens and lit up the brass number four on the Dursleys’ f ront
door; it crept into their living room, which was almost exactly the same as it had been
on the night when Mr. Dursley had seen that fateful news report about the owls. Only
the photographs on the mantelpiece really showed how much t ime had passed. Ten
years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball
wearing different -colored bonnets –but Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby, and now
the photographs showed a large blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a carousel at the
fair, playing a computer game with his father, being hugged and kissed by his mother.
The room held no sign at all, that another boy lived in the house, too. Yet
Harry Pot ter was st ill there, asleep at the moment , but not for long. His Aunt Petunia
was awake and it was her shrill voice that made the first noise of the day.
“Up! Get up! Now!”
Harry woke with a start . His aunt rapped on the door again. “Up!” she
screeched. Harry heard her walking toward the kitchen and then the sound of the
frying pan being put on the stove. He rolled onto his back and t ried to remember the
dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a flying
motorcycle in it. He had a funny feeling he’d had the same dream before.
His aunt was back outside the door.
“Are you up yet?” she demanded.
“Nearly,” said Harry.
“Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the bacon. And don’t you dare let
it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy’s birthday.”
Harry groaned.
“What did you say?” his aunt snapped through the door.
“Nothing, nothing…”
Dudley’s birthday – how could he have forgot ten? Harry got slowly out of bed
and started looking for socks. He found a pair under his bed and, af ter pulling a spider
of f one of them, put them on. Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under
the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.
When he was dressed he went down the hall into the kitchen. The table was
almost hidden beneath all Dudley’s birthday presents. It looked as though Dudley had
got ten the new computer he wanted, not to ment ion the second television and the
racing bike. Exact ly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Harry, as
Dudley was very fat and hated exercise – unless of course it involved punching
somebody. Dudley’s favorite punching bag was Harry, but he couldn’t often catch him.
Harry didn’t look it , but he was very fast . Perhaps it had something to do with living in
a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. He looked
even smaller and skinnier than he really was because all he had to wear were old
clothes of Dudley’s, and Dudley was about four t imes bigger than he was. Harry had a
thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes. He wore round glasses
held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the t imes Dudley had punched
him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin
scar on his forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as
he could remember, and the first quest ion he could ever remember asking his Aunt
Petunia was how he had gotten it.
“In the car crash when your parents died,” she had said. “And don’t ask
questions.”
Don’t ask quest ions – that was the first rule for a quiet life with the Dursleys.
Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon. “Comb your
hair!” he barked, by way of a morning greet ing. About once a week, Uncle Vernon
looked over the top of his newspaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut . Harry
must have had more haircuts than the rest of the boys in his class put together, but it
made no difference, his hair simply grew that way – all over the place.
Harry was frying eggs by the t ime Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his
mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large pink face, not much
neck, small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat
head. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel – Harry often said
that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.
Harry put the plates of egg and bacon on the table, which was difficult as there
wasn’t much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his presents. His face fell.
“Thirty-six,” he said, looking up at his mother and father. “That ‘s two less than
last year.”
“Darling, you haven’t counted Aunt ie Marge’s present , see, it ‘s here under this
big one from Mommy and Daddy.”
“All right, thirty-seven then,” said Dudley, going red in the face.
Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tant rum coming on, began wolfing down
his bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned the table over. Aunt Petunia
obviously scented danger, too, because she said quickly, “And we’ll buy you another
two presents while we’re out today. How’s that , popkin?Two more presents. Is that all
right”
Dudley thought for a moment . It looked like hard work. Finally he said slowly,
“So I’ll have thirty … thirty…”
“Thirty-nine, sweetums,” said Aunt Petunia.
“Oh.” Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel. “All right then.”
Uncle Vernon chuckled. “Lit t le tyke wants his money’s worth, j ust like his
father. ‘At ta boy, Dudley!” He ruff led Dudley’s hair. At that moment the telephone
rang and Aunt Petunia went to answer it while Harry and Uncle Vernon watched
Dudley unwrap the racing bike, a video camera, a remote cont rol airplane, sixteen
new computer games, and a VCR. He was ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch when
Aunt Petunia came back from the telephone looking both angry and worried.
“Bad news, Vernon,” she said. “Mrs. Figg’s broken her leg. She can’t take him.”
She jerked her head in Harry’s direction. Dudley’s mouth fell open in horror, but Harry’s
heart gave a leap. Every year on Dudley’s birthday, his parents took him and a friend
out for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger restaurants, or the movies. Every year,
Harry was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two streets away. Harry
hated it there. The whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs. Figg made him look at
photographs of all the cats she’d ever.owned.
“Now what?” said Aunt Petunia, looking furiously at Harry as though he’d
planned this. Harry knew he ought to feel sorry that Mrs. Figg had broken her leg, but
it wasn’t easy when he reminded himself it would be a whole year before he had to
look at Tibbles, Snowy, Mr. Paws, and Tufty again.
“We could phone Marge,” Uncle Vernon suggested.
“Don’t be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy.”
The Dursleys often spoke about Harry like this, as though he wasn’t there – or
rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn’t understand them, like a
slug.
“What about what’s-her-name, your friend – Yvonne?”
“On vacation in Majorca,” snapped Aunt Petunia.
“You could j ust leave me here,” Harry put in hopefully (he’d be able to watch
what he wanted on television for a change and maybe even have a go on Dudley’s
computer).
Aunt Petunia looked as though she’d just swallowed a lemon.
“And come back and find the house in ruins?” she snarled.
“I won’t blow up the house,” said Harry, but they weren’t listening.
“I suppose we could take him to the zoo,” said Aunt Petunia slowly, “… and
leave him in the car….”
“That car’s new, he’s not sitting in it alone….”
Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact , he wasn’t really crying – it had been years
since he’d really cried – but he knew that if he screwed up his face and wailed, his
mother would give him anything he wanted.
“Dinky Duddydums, don’t cry, Mummy won’t let him spoil your special day!” she
cried, flinging her arms around him.
“I… don’t … want … him… t -t -to come!” Dudley yelled between huge, pretend
sobs. “He always sp- spoils everything!” He shot Harry a nasty grin through the gap in
his mother’s arms.
Just then, the doorbell rang – “Oh, good Lord, they’re here!” said Aunt Petunia
frantically – and a moment later, Dudley’s best friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in with his
mother. Piers was a scrawny boy with a face like a rat . He was usually the one who
held people’s arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them. Dudley stopped
pretending to cry at once.
Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn’t believe his luck, was sit t ing in the back
of the Dursleys’ car with Piers and Dudley, on the way to the zoo for the first t ime in
his life. His aunt and uncle hadn’t been able to think of anything else to do with him,
but before they’d left, Uncle.Vernon had taken Harry aside.
“I’m warning you,” he had said, put t ing his large purple face right up close to
Harry’s, “I’m warning you now, boy – any funny business, anything at all – and you’ll be
in that cupboard from now until Christmas.”
“I’m not going to do anything,” said Harry, “honestly…”
But Uncle Vernon didn’t believe him. No one ever did. The problem was,
st range things often happened around Harry and it was j ust no good telling the
Dursleys he didn’t make them happen. Once, Aunt Petunia, t ired of Harry coming back
from the barbers looking as though he hadn’t been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen
scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his bangs, which she
left “to hide that horrible scar.” Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a
sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for his
baggy clothes and taped glasses. Next morning, however, he had got ten up to find his
hair exactly as it had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off He had been given a
week in his cupboard for this, even though he had t ried to explain that he couldn’t
explain how it had grown back so quickly. Another t ime, Aunt Petunia had been t rying
to force him into a revolt ing old sweater of Dudley’s (brown with orange puff balls) –
The harder she t ried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed to become, unt il
finally it might have fit ted a hand puppet , but certainly wouldn’t fit Harry. Aunt
Petunia had decided it must have shrunk in the wash, and to his great relief, Harry
wasn’t punished.
On the other hand, he’d got ten into terrible t rouble for being found on the roof
of the school kitchens. Dudley’s gang had been chasing him as usual when, as much to
Harry’s surprise as anyone else’s, there he was sit t ing on the chimney. The Dursleys
had received a very angry let ter from Harry’s headmist ress telling them Harry had
been climbing school buildings. But all he’d t ried to do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon
through the locked door of his cupboard) was j ump behind the big t rashcans outside
the kitchen doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in mid- jump.
But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even worth being with Dudley
and Piers to be spending the day somewhere that wasn’t school, his cupboard, or Mrs.
Figg’s cabbage-smelling living room. While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt
Petunia. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council, Harry,
the bank, and Harry were j ust a few of his favorite subj ects. This morning, it was
motorcycles.
“…roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums,” he said, as a motorcycle
overtook them.
“ I had a dream about a motorcycle,” said Harry, remembering suddenly. “It was
flying.”
Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front . He turned right around in his
seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic beet with a mustache: “MOTORCYCLES
DON’T FLY!”
Dudley and Piers sniggered.
“I know they don’t,” said Harry. “It was only a dream.”
But he wished he hadn’t said anything. If there was one thing the Dursleys
hated even more than his asking quest ions, it was his talking about anything act ing in
a way it shouldn’t , no mat ter if it was in a dream or even a cartoon – they seemed to
think he might get dangerous ideas.
It was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with families. The
Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the entrance and then,
because the smiling lady in the van had asked Harry what he wanted before they could
hurry him away, they bought him a cheap lemon ice pop. It wasn’t bad, either, Harry
thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratching its head who looked remarkably
like Dudley, except that it wasn’t blond.
Harry had the best morning he’d had in a long t ime. He was careful to walk a
lit t le way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley and Piers, who were start ing to get
bored with the animals by luncht ime, wouldn’t fall back on their favorite hobby of
hit t ing him. They ate in the zoo restaurant , and when Dudley had a tant rum because
his knickerbockers glory didn’t have enough ice cream on top, Uncle Vernon bought
him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first . Harry felt , afterward, that
he should have known it was all too good to last.
After lunch they went to the rept ile house. It was cool and dark in there, with
lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts of lizards and snakes were
crawling and slithering over bits of wood and stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see
huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the
largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon’s
car and crushed it into a t rashcan – but at the moment it didn’t look in the mood. In
fact, it was fast asleep.
Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the glistening
brown coils.
“Make it move,” he whined at his father. Uncle Vernon tapped on the glass, but
the snake didn’t budge.
“Do it again,” Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass smart ly with his
knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.
“This is boring,” Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.
Harry moved in front of the tank and looked intent ly at the snake. He wouldn’t
have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself – no company except stupid people
drumming their fingers on the glass t rying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than
having a cupboard as a bedroom, where the only visitor was Aunt Petunia hammering
on the door to wake you up; at least he got to visit the rest of the house.
The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised it s
head unt il its eyes were on a level with Harry’s. It winked. Harry stared. Then he
looked quickly around to see if anyone was watching. They weren’t . He looked back at
the snake and winked, too. The snake j erked its head toward Uncle Vernon and
Dudley, then raised its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look that said quite plainly:
“I get that all the time.”
“I know,” Harry murmured through the glass, though he wasn’t sure the snake
could hear him. “It must be really annoying.”
The snake nodded vigorously.
“Where do you come from, anyway?” Harry asked.
The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry peered at it.
Boa Constrictor, Brazil.
“Was it nice there?”
The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign again and Harry read on:
This specimen was bred in the zoo.
“Oh, I see – so you’ve never been to Brazil?”
As the snake shook its head, a deafening shout behind Harry made both of them
jump.
“DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON’T BELIEVE
WHAT IT’S DOING!”
Dudley came waddling toward them as fast as he could.
“Out of the way, you,” he said, punching Harry in the ribs. Caught by surprise,
Harry fell hard on the concrete f loor. What came next happened so fast no one saw
how it happened – one second, Piers and Dudley were leaning right up close to the
glass, the next, they had leapt back with howls of horror.
Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa const rictor’s tank had
vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, slithering out onto the floor.
People throughout the reptile house screamed and started running for the exits.
As the snake slid swift ly past him, Harry could have sworn a low, hissing voice
said, “Brazil, here I come…. Thanksss, amigo.”
The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.
“But the glass,” he kept saying, “where did the glass go?”
The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of st rong, sweet tea while
he apologized over and over again. Piers and Dudley could only gibber. As far as Harry
had seen, the snake hadn’t done anything except snap playfully at their heels as it
passed, but by the t ime they were all back in Uncle Vernon’s car, Dudley was telling
them how it had nearly bit ten off his leg, while Piers was swearing it had t ried to
squeeze him to death. But worst of all, for Harry at least , was Piers calming down
enough to say, “Harry was talking to it, weren’t you, Harry?”
Uncle Vernon waited unt il Piers was safely out of the house before start ing on
Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to say, “Go – cupboard –
stay – no meals.” before he collapsed into a chair, and Aunt Petunia had to run and get
him a large brandy.
Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had a watch. He didn’t
know what time it was and he couldn’t be sure the Dursleys were asleep yet. Until they
were, he couldn’t risk sneaking to the kitchen for some food.
He’d lived with the Dursleys almost ten years, ten miserable years, as long as
he could remember, ever since he’d been a baby and his parents had died in that car
crash. He couldn’t remember being in the car when his parents had died. Somet imes,
when he st rained his memory during long hours in his cupboard, he came up with a
st range vision: a blinding f lash of green light and a burning pain on his forehead. This,
he supposed, was the crash, though he couldn’t imagine where all the green light came
from. He couldn’t remember his parents at all. His aunt and uncle never spoke about
them, and of course he was forbidden to ask quest ions. There were no photographs of
them in the house. When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed of
some unknown relat ion coming to take him away, but it had never happened; the
Dursleys were his only family. Yet somet imes he thought (or maybe hoped) that
st rangers in the st reet seemed to know him. Very st range st rangers they were, too. A
t iny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once while out shopping with Aunt
Petunia and Dudley. After asking Harry furiously if he knew the man, Aunt Petunia had
rushed them out of the shop without buying anything. A wild-looking old woman
dressed all in green had waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very long
purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the st reet the other day and then walked
away without a word. The weirdest thing about all these people was the way they
seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a closer look.
At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley’s gang hated that odd
Harry Pot ter in his baggy old clothes and broken glasses, and nobody liked to disagree
with Dudley’s gang.
CHAPTER THREE – THE LETTERS FROM NO ONE
The escape of the Brazilian boa const rictor earned Harry his longest -ever
punishment . By the t ime he was allowed out of his cupboard again, the summer
holidays had started and Dudley had already broken his ew video camera, crashed his
remote cont rol airplane, and, first t imeout on his racing bike, knocked down old Mrs.
Figg as she crossed Privet Drive on her crutches.
Harry was glad school was over, but there was no escaping Dudley’s gang, who
visited the house every single day. Piers, Dennis, Malcolm, and Gordon were all big
and stupid, but as Dudley was the biggest and stupidest of the lot , he was the leader.
The rest of them were all quite happy to join in Dudley’s favorite sport: Harry Hunting.
This was why Harry spent as much time as possible out of the house, wandering
around and thinking about the end of the holidays, where he could see a t iny ray of
hope. When September came he would be going off to secondary school and, for the
first t ime in his life, he wouldn’t be with Dudley. Dudley had been accepted at Uncle
Vernon’s old private school, Smelt ings. Piers Polkiss was going there too. Harry, on the
other hand, was going to Stonewall High, the local public school. Dudley thought this
was very funny.
“They stuf f people’s heads down the toilet the first day at Stonewall,” he told
Harry. “Want to come upstairs and practice?”
“No, thanks,” said Harry. “The poor toilet ‘s never had anything as horrible as
your head down it – it might be sick.” Then he ran, before Dudley could work out what
he’d said.
One day in July, Aunt Petunia took Dudley to London to buy his Smelt ings
uniform, leaving Harry at Mrs. Figg’s. Mrs. Figg wasn’t as bad as usual. It turned out
she’d broken her leg tripping over one of her cats, and she didn’t seem quite as fond of
them as before. She let Harry watch television and gave him a bit of chocolate cake
that tasted as though she’d had it for several years.
That evening, Dudley paraded around the living room for the family in his
brand-new uniform. Smelt ings’ boys wore maroon tailcoats, orange knickerbockers,
and flat st raw hats called boaters. They also carried knobbly st icks, used for hit t ing
each other while the teachers weren’t looking. This was supposed to be good t raining
for later life. As he looked at Dudley in his new knickerbockers, Uncle Vernon said
gruffly that it was the proudest moment of his life. Aunt Petunia burst into tears and
said she couldn’t believe it was her Ickle Dudleykins, he looked so handsome and
grown-up. Harry didn’t t rust himself to speak. He thought two of his ribs might already
have cracked from trying not to laugh.
There was a horrible smell in the kitchen the next morning when Harry went in
for breakfast . It seemed to be coming from a large metal tub in the sink. He went to
have a look. The tub was full of what looked like.dirty rags swimming in gray water.
“What ‘s this?” he asked Aunt Petunia. Her lips t ightened as they always did if he
dared to ask a question.
“Your new school uniform,” she said.
Harry looked in the bowl again.
“Oh,” he said, “I didn’t realize it had to be so wet.”
“Don’t be stupid,” snapped Aunt Petunia. “I’m dyeing some of Dudley’s old things
gray for you. It’ll look just like everyone else’s when I’ve finished.”
Harry seriously doubted this, but thought it best not to argue. He sat down at
the table and t ried not to think about how he was going to look on his first day at
Stonewall High – like he was wearing bits of old elephant skin, probably.
Dudley and Uncle Vernon came in, both with wrinkled noses because of the
smell from Harry’s new uniform. Uncle Vernon opened his newspaper as usual and
Dudley banged his Smelting stick, which he carried everywhere, on the table.
They heard the click of the mail slot and flop of letters on the doormat.
“Get the mail, Dudley,” said Uncle Vernon from behind his paper.
“Make Harry get it.”
“Get the mail, Harry.”
“Make Dudley get it.”
“Poke him with your Smelting stick, Dudley.”
Harry dodged the Smelt ing st ick and went to get the mail. Three things lay on
the doormat : a postcard from Uncle Vernon’s sister Marge, who was vacat ioning on the
Isle of Wight, a brown envelope that looked like a bill, and – a letter for Harry.
Harry picked it up and stared at it , his heart twanging like a giant elast ic band.
No one, ever, in his whole life, had writ ten to him. Who would?He had no friends, no
other relat ives – he didn’t belong to the library, so he’d never even got rude notes
asking for books back. Yet here it was, a letter, addressed so plainly there could be no
mistake:
Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey
The envelope was thick and heavy, made of yellowish parchment , and the
address was writ ten in emerald-green ink. There was no stamp. Turning the envelope
over, his hand t rembling, Harry saw a purple wax seal bearing a coat of arms; a lion,
an eagle, a badger, and a snake surrounding a large letter H.
“Hurry up, boy!” shouted Uncle Vernon from the kitchen. “What are you doing,
checking for letter bombs?” He chuckled at his own joke.
Harry went back to the kitchen, st ill staring at his let ter. He handed Uncle
Vernon the bill and the postcard, sat down, and slowly began to open the yellow
envelope. Uncle Vernon ripped open the bill, snorted in disgust , and flipped over the
postcard.
“Marge’s ill,” he informed Aunt Petunia. “Ate a funny whelk. -”
“Dad!” said Dudley suddenly. “Dad, Harry’s got something!”
Harry was on the point of unfolding his let ter, which was writ ten on the same
heavy parchment as the envelope, when it was jerked sharply out of his hand by Uncle
Vernon.
“That’s mine!” said Harry, trying to snatch it back.
“Who’d be writ ing to you?” sneered Uncle Vernon, shaking the let ter open with
one hand and glancing at it . His face went from red to green faster than a set of
t raffic light s. And it didn’t stop there. Within seconds it was the grayish white of old
porridge.
“P-P-Petunia!” he gasped.
Dudley t ried to grab the let ter to read it , but Uncle Vernon held it high out of
his reach. Aunt Petunia took it curiously and read the first line. For a moment it
looked as though she might faint. She clutched her throat and made a choking noise.
“Vernon! Oh my goodness – Vernon!”
They stared at each other, seeming to have forgot ten that Harry and Dudley
were st ill in the room. Dudley wasn’t used to being ignored. He gave his father a sharp
tap on the head with his Smelting stick.
“I want to read that let ter,” he said loudly. “ I want to read it ,” said Harry
furiously, “as it’s mine.”
“Get out, both of you,” croaked Uncle Vernon, stuffing the letter back inside its
envelope.
Harry didn’t move… I WANT MY LETTER!” he shouted.
“Let me see it!” demanded Dudley.
“OUT!” roared Uncle Vernon, and he took both Harry and Dudley by the scruffs
of their necks and threw them into the hall, slamming the kitchen door behind them.
Harry and Dudley prompt ly had a furious but silent fight over who would listen at the
keyhole; Dudley won, so Harry, his glasses dangling from one ear, lay f lat on his
stomach to listen at the crack between door and floor.
“Vernon,” Aunt Petunia was saying in a quivering voice, “look at the address –
how could they possibly know where he sleeps? You don’t think they’re watching the
house?”
“Watching – spying – might be following us,” muttered Uncle Vernon wildly.
“But what should we do, Vernon? Should we write back? Tell them we don’t
want -”
Harry could see Uncle Vernon’s shiny black shoes pacing up and down the
kitchen.
“No,” he said finally. “No, we’ll ignore it . If they don’t get an answer… Yes,
that’s best… we won’t do anything….”
“But -”
“I’m not having one in the house, Petunia! Didn’t we swear when we took him in
we’d stamp out that dangerous nonsense?”
That evening when he got back from work, Uncle Vernon did something he’d
never done before; he visited Harry in his cupboard.
“Where’s my let ter?” said Harry, the moment Uncle Vernon had squeezed
through the door. “Who’s writing to me?”
“No one. It was addressed to you by mistake,” said Uncle Vernon shortly. “I have
burned it.”
“It was not a mistake,” said Harry angrily, “it had my cupboard on it.”
“SILENCE!” yelled Uncle Vernon, and a couple of spiders fell f rom the ceiling.
He took a few deep breaths and then forced his face into a smile, which looked quite
painful.
“Er – yes, Harry – about this cupboard. Your aunt and I have been thinking…
you’re really get t ing a bit big for it … we think it might be nice if you moved into
Dudley’s second bedroom.
“Why?” said Harry.
“Don’t ask questions!” snapped his uncle. “Take this stuff upstairs, now.”
The Dursleys’ house had four bedrooms: one for Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia,
one for visitors (usually Uncle Vernon’s sister, Marge), one where Dudley slept, and one
where Dudley kept all the toys and things that wouldn’t fit into his first bedroom. It
only took Harry one t rip upstairs to move everything he owned from the cupboard to
this room. He sat down on the bed and stared around him. Nearly everything in here
was broken. The month-old video camera was lying on top of a small, working tank
Dudley had once driven over the next door neighbor’s dog; in the corner was Dudley’s
first-ever television set, which he’d put his foot through when his favorite program had
been canceled; there was a large birdcage, which had once held a parrot that Dudley
had swapped at school for a real air rif le, which was up on a shelf with the end all
bent because Dudley had sat on it . Other shelves were full of books. They were the
only things in the room that looked as though they’d never been touched.
From downstairs came the sound of Dudley bawling at his mother, “I don’t want
him in there… I need that room… make him get out….”
Harry sighed and st retched out on the bed. Yesterday he’d have given anything
to be up here. Today he’d rather be back in his cupboard with that let ter than up here
without it.
Next morning at breakfast , everyone was rather quiet . Dudley was in shock.
He’d screamed, whacked his father with his Smelt ing st ick, been sick on purpose,
kicked his mother, and thrown his tortoise through the greenhouse roof, and he st ill
didn’t have his room back. Harry was thinking about this t ime yesterday and bit terly
wishing he’d opened the let ter in the hall. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia kept looking
at each other darkly.
When the mail arrived, Uncle Vernon, who seemed to be t rying to be nice to
Harry, made Dudley go and get it . They heard him banging things with his Smelt ing
st ick all the way down the hall. Then he shouted, “There’s another one! Mr. H. Pot ter,
The Smallest Bedroom, 4 Privet Drive -‘”
With a st rangled cry, Uncle Vernon leapt from his seat and ran down the hall,
Harry right behind him. Uncle Vernon had to wrest le Dudley to the ground to get the
let ter from him, which was made difficult by the fact that Harry had grabbed Uncle
Vernon around the neck from behind. After a minute of confused fight ing, in which
everyone got hit a lot by the Smelt ing st ick, Uncle Vernon st raightened up, gasping for
breath, with Harry’s letter clutched in his hand.
“Go to your cupboard – I mean, your bedroom,” he wheezed at Harry.
“Dudley – go – just go.”
Harry walked round and round his new room. Someone knew he had moved out
of his cupboard and they seemed to know he hadn’t received his first let ter. Surely
that meant they’d t ry again? And this t ime he’d make sure they didn’t fail. He had a
plan.
The repaired alarm clock rang at six o’clock the next morning. Harry turned it
of f quickly and dressed silent ly. He mustn’t wake the Dursleys. He stole downstairs
without turning on any of the lights. He was going to wait for the postman on the
corner of Privet Drive and get the letters for number four first. His heart hammered as
he crept across the dark hall toward the front door –
Harry leapt into the air; he’d t rodden on something big and squashy on the
doormat – something alive! Lights clicked on upstairs and to his horror Harry realized
that the big, squashy something had been his uncle’s face. Uncle Vernon had been
lying at the foot of the front door in a sleeping bag, clearly making sure that Harry
didn’t do exact ly what he’d been t rying to do. He shouted at Harry for about half an
hour and then told him to go and make a cup of tea. Harry shuff led miserably off into
the kitchen and by the t ime he got back, the mail had arrived, right into Uncle
Vernon’s lap. Harry could see three letters addressed in green ink. “
I want -” he began, but Uncle Vernon was tearing the let ters into pieces before
his eyes. Uncle Vernon didn’ t go to work that day. He stayed at home and nailed up
the mail slot.
“See,” he explained to Aunt Petunia through a mouthful of nails, “if they can’t
deliver them they’ll just give up.”
“I’m not sure that’ll work, Vernon.”
“Oh, these people’s minds work in st range ways, Petunia, they’re not like you
and me,” said Uncle Vernon, t rying to knock in a nail with the piece of fruitcake Aunt
Petunia had just brought him.
On Friday, no less than twelve let ters arrived for Harry. As they couldn’t go
through the mail slot they had been pushed under the door, slot ted through the sides,
and a few even forced through the small window in the downstairs bathroom. Uncle
Vernon stayed at home again. After burning all the let ters, he got out a hammer and
nails and boarded up the cracks around the front and back doors so no one could go
out . He hummed “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” as he worked, and j umped at small
noises.
On Saturday, things began to get out of hand. Twenty-four let ters to Harry
found their way into the house, rolled up and hidden inside each of the two dozen
eggs that their very confused milkman had handed Aunt Petunia through the living
room window. While Uncle Vernon made furious telephone calls to the post office and
the dairy t rying to find someone to complain to, Aunt Petunia shredded the let ters in
her food processor.
“Who on earth wants to talk to you this badly?” Dudley asked Harry in
amazement.
On Sunday morning, Uncle Vernon sat down at the breakfast table looking t ired
and rather ill, but happy.
“No post on Sundays,” he reminded them cheerfully as he spread marmalade on
his newspapers, “no damn letters today -”
Something came whizzing down the kitchen chimney as he spoke and caught
him sharply on the back of the head. Next moment, thirty or forty letters came pelting
out of the f ireplace like bullets. The Dursleys ducked, but Harry leapt into the air
trying to catch one.
“Out! OUT!”
Uncle Vernon seized Harry around the waist and threw him into the hall. When
Aunt Petunia and Dudley had run out with their arms over their faces, Uncle Vernon
slammed the door shut . They could hear the let ters st ill st reaming into the room,
bouncing off the walls and floor.
“That does it ,” said Uncle Vernon, t rying to speak calmly but pulling great tufts
out of his mustache at the same t ime. “ I want you all back here in five minutes ready
to leave. We’re going away. Just pack some clothes. No arguments!”
He looked so dangerous with half his mustache missing that no one dared
argue. Ten minutes later they had wrenched their way through the boarded-up doors
and were in the car, speeding toward the highway. Dudley was sniffling in the back
seat ; his father had hit him round the head for holding them up while he t ried to pack
his television, VCR, and computer in his sports bag. They drove. And they drove. Even
Aunt Petunia didn’t dare ask where they were going. Every now and then Uncle Vernon
would take a sharp turn and drive in the opposite direction for a while.
“Shake’em off… shake ’em off,” he would mutter whenever he did this.
They didn’t stop to eat or drink all day. By night fall Dudley was howling. He’d
never had such a bad day in his life. He was hungry, he’d missed five television
programs he’d wanted to see, and he’d never gone so long without blowing up an alien
on his computer.
Uncle Vernon stopped at last outside a gloomy-looking hotel on the outskirts of
a big city. Dudley and Harry shared a room with twin beds and damp, must y sheets.
Dudley snored but Harry stayed awake, sit t ing on the windowsill, staring down at the
lights of passing cars and wondering….
They ate stale cornflakes and cold t inned tomatoes on toast for breakfast the
next day. They had j ust finished when the owner of the hotel came over to their
table. “‘Scuse me, but is one of you Mr. H. Pot ter?Only I got about an ‘undred of these
at the front desk.”
She held up a letter so they could read the green ink address:
Mr. H. Potter
Room 17
Railview Hotel
Cokeworth.
Harry made a grab for the let ter but Uncle Vernon knocked his hand out of the
way. The woman stared.
“I’ll take them,” said Uncle Vernon, standing up quickly and following her from
the dining room.
“Wouldn’t it be bet ter just to go home, dear?” Aunt Petunia suggested t imidly,
hours later, but Uncle Vernon didn’t seem to hear her. Exact ly what he was looking
for, none of them knew. He drove them into the middle of a forest , got out , looked
around, shook his head, got back in the car, and off they went again. The same thing
happened in the middle of a plowed field, halfway across a suspension bridge, and at
the top of a multilevel parking garage.
“Daddy’s gone mad, hasn’t he?” Dudley asked Aunt Petunia dully late that
afternoon. Uncle Vernon had parked at the coast , locked them all inside the car, and
disappeared. It started to rain. Great drops beat on the roof of the car. Dudley
sniveled.
“It ‘s Monday,” he told his mother. “The Great Humberto’s on tonight . I want to
stay somewhere with a television. ”
Monday. This reminded Harry of something. If it was Monday – and you could
usually count on Dudley to know the days the week, because of television – then
tomorrow, Tuesday, was Harry’s eleventh birthday. Of course, his birthdays were never
exact ly fun – last year, the Dursleys had given him a coat hanger and a pair of Uncle
Vernon’s old socks. Still, you weren’t eleven every day.
Uncle Vernon was back and he was smiling. He was also carrying a long, thin
package and didn’t answer Aunt Petunia when she asked what he’d bought.
“Found the perfect place!” he said. “Come on! Everyone out!”
It was very cold outside the car. Uncle Vernon was point ing at what looked like
a large rock way out at sea. Perched on top of the rock was the most miserable lit t le
shack you could imagine. One thing was certain, there was no television in there.
“Storm forecast for tonight !” said Uncle Vernon gleefully, clapping his hands
together. “And this gentleman’s kindly agreed to lend us his boat!”
A toothless old man came ambling up to them, point ing, with a rather wicked
grin, at an old rowboat bobbing in the iron-gray water below them.
“I’ve already got us some rations,” said Uncle Vernon, “so all aboard!”
It was freezing in the boat . Icy sea spray and rain crept down their necks and a
chilly wind whipped their faces. After what seemed like hours they reached the rock,
where Uncle Vernon, slipping and sliding, led the way to the broken-down house. The
inside was horrible; it smelled st rongly of seaweed, the wind whist led through the
gaps in the wooden walls, and the fireplace was damp and empty. There were only
two rooms.
Uncle Vernon’s rat ions turned out to be a bag of chips each and four bananas.
He tried to start a fire but the empty chip bags just smoked and shriveled up.
“Could do with some of those letters now, eh?” he said cheerfully.
He was in a very good mood. Obviously he thought nobody stood a chance of
reaching them here in a storm to deliver mail. Harry privately agreed, though the
thought didn’t cheer him up at all. As night fell, the promised storm blew up around
them. Spray from the high waves splat tered the walls of the hut and a fierce wind
rat t led the f ilthy windows. Aunt Petunia found a few moldy blankets in the second
room and made up a bed for Dudley on the moth-eaten sofa. She and Uncle Vernon
went off to the lumpy bed next door, and Harry was left to find the softest bit of floor
he could and to curl up under the thinnest, most ragged blanket.
The storm raged more and more ferociously as the night went on. Harry
couldn’t sleep. He shivered and turned over, t rying to get comfortable, his stomach
rumbling with hunger. Dudley’s snores were drowned by the low rolls of thunder that
started near midnight . The lighted dial of Dudley’s watch, which was dangling over the
edge of the sofa on his fat wrist, told Harry he’d be eleven in ten minutes’ time. He lay
and watched his birthday t ick nearer, wondering if the Dursleys would remember at
all, wondering where the letter writer was now.
Five minutes to go. Harry heard something creak outside. He hoped the roof
wasn’t going to fall in, although he might be warmer if it did. Four minutes to go.
Maybe the house in Privet Drive would be so full of let ters when they got back that
he’d be able to steal one somehow. Three minutes to go. Was that the sea, slapping
hard on the rock like that? And (two minutes to go) what was that funny crunching
noise? Was the rock crumbling into the sea? One minute to go and he’d be eleven.
Thirty seconds… twenty … ten… nine – maybe he’d wake Dudley up, j ust to annoy
him – three… two… one… BOOM.
The whole shack shivered and Harry sat bolt upright , staring at the door.
Someone was outside, knocking to come in.
CHAPTER FOUR – THE KEEPER OF THE KEYS
BOOM. They knocked again. Dudley jerked awake.
“Where’s the cannon?” he said stupidly.
There was a crash behind them and Uncle Vernon came skidding into the room.
He was holding a rif le in his hands – now they knew what had been in the long, thin
package he had brought with them.
“Who’s there?” he shouted. “I warn you – I’m armed!”
There was a pause. Then – SMASH!
The door was hit with such force that it swung clean off its hinges and with a
deafening crash landed flat on the floor. A giant of a man was standing in the
doorway. His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a
wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glint ing like black beet les under
all the hair.
The giant squeezed his way into the hut , stooping so that his head j ust brushed
the ceiling. He bent down, picked up the door, and fit ted it easily back into its frame.
The noise of the storm outside dropped a lit t le. He turned to look at them all.
“Couldn’t make us a cup o’ tea, could yeh? It’s not been an easy journey…”
He strode over to the sofa where Dudley sat frozen with fear.
“Budge up, yeh great lump,” said the stranger.
Dudley squeaked and ran to hide behind his mother, who was crouching,
terrified, behind Uncle Vernon.
“An’ here’s Harry!” said the giant.
Harry looked up into the f ierce, wild, shadowy face and saw that the beet le
eyes were crinkled in a smile.
“Las’ t ime I saw you, you was only a baby,” said the giant . “Yeh look a lot like
yet dad, but yeh’ve got yet mom’s eyes.”
Uncle Vernon made a funny rasping noise.
“ I demand that you leave at once, sir!” he said. “You are breaking and
entering!”
“Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune,” said the giant ; he reached over the
back of the sofa, j erked the gun out of Uncle Vernon’s hands, bent it into a knot as
easily as if it had been made of rubber, and threw it into a corner of the room.
Uncle Vernon made another funny noise, like a mouse being t rodden on.
“Anyway – Harry,” said the giant , turning his back on the Dursleys, “a very happy
birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here – I mighta sat on it at some point , but it ‘ll
taste all right.”
From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slight ly squashed box.
Harry opened it with t rembling fingers. Inside was a large, st icky chocolate cake with
Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.
Harry looked up at the giant. He meant to say thank you, but the words got lost
on the way to his mouth, and what he said instead was, “Who are you?”
The giant chuckled.
“True, I haven’t int roduced myself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds
at Hogwarts.”
He held out an enormous hand and shook Harry’s whole arm. “What about that
tea then, eh?” he said, rubbing his hands together. “I’d not say no ter summat st ronger
if yeh’ve got it, mind.”
His eyes fell on the empty grate with the shriveled chip bags in it and he
snorted. He bent down over the fireplace; they couldn’t see what he was doing but
when he drew back a second later, there was a roaring fire there. It filled the whole
damp hut with f lickering light and Harry felt the warmth wash over him as though he’d
sunk into a hot bath.
The giant sat back down on the sofa, which sagged under his weight, and began
taking all sorts of things out of the pockets of his coat : a copper ket t le, a squashy
package of sausages, a poker, a teapot , several chipped mugs, and a bot t le of some
amber liquid that he took a swig from before start ing to make tea. Soon the hut was
full of the sound and smell of sizzling sausage. Nobody said a thing while the giant was
working, but as he slid the f irst six fat , j uicy, slight ly burnt sausages from the poker,
Dudley fidgeted a little.
Uncle Vernon said sharply, “Don’t touch anything he gives you, Dudley.”
The giant chuckled darkly.
“Yet great puddin’ of a son don’ need fat tenin’ anymore, Dursley, don’ worry.”
He passed the sausages to Harry, who was so hungry he had never tasted anything so
wonderful, but he st ill couldn’t take his eyes off the giant . Finally, as nobody seemed
about to explain anything, he said,
“I’m sorry, but I still don’t really know who you are.”
The giant took a gulp of tea and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Call me Hagrid,” he said, “everyone does. An’ like I told yeh, I’m Keeper of Keys
at Hogwarts – yeh know all about Hogwarts, o’ course.”
“Er – no,” said Harry..Hagrid looked shocked.
“Sorry,” Harry said quickly.
“Sorry?” barked Hagrid, turning to stare at the Dursleys, who shrank back into
the shadows. “It ‘ s them as should be sorry! I knew yeh weren’t get t in’ yer let ters but I
never thought yeh wouldn’t even know abou’ Hogwarts, fer cryin’ out loud! Did yeh
never wonder where yet parents learned it all?”
“All what?” asked Harry.
“ALL WHAT?” Hagrid thundered. “Now wait jus’ one second!”
He had leapt to his feet . In his anger he seemed to fill the whole hut . The
Dursleys were cowering against the wall. “Do you mean ter tell me,” he growled at the
Dursleys, “that this boy – this boy! – knows nothin’ abou’ – about ANYTHING?”
Harry thought this was going a bit far. He had been to school, after all, and his
marks weren’t bad. “I know some things,” he said. “I can, you know, do math and
stuff.”
But Hagrid simply waved his hand and said, “About our world, I mean. Your
world. My world. Yer parents’ world.”
“What world?”
Hagrid looked as if he was about to explode.
“DURSLEY!” he boomed.
Uncle Vernon, who had gone very pale, whispered something that sounded like
“Mimblewimble.” Hagrid stared wildly at Harry.
“But yeh must know about yet mom and dad,” he said. “I mean, they’re famous.
You’re famous.”
“What? My – my mom and dad weren’t famous, were they?”
“Yeh don’ know… yeh don’ know…” Hagrid ran his f ingers through his hair,
fixing Harry with a bewildered stare. “Yeh don’ know what yeh are?” he said finally.
Uncle Vernon suddenly found his voice.
“Stop!” he commanded. “Stop right there, sit ! I forbid you to tell the boy
anything!”
A braver man than Vernon Dursley would have quailed under the furious look
Hagrid now gave him; when Hagrid spoke, his every syllable trembled with rage.
“You never told him?Never told him what was in the let ter Dumbledore.left fer
him? I was there! I saw Dumbledore leave it , Dursley! An’ you’ve kept it from him all
these years?”
“Kept what from me?” said Harry eagerly.
“STOP! I FORBID YOU!” yelled Uncle Vernon in panic.
Aunt Petunia gave a gasp of horror.
“Ah, go boil yet heads, both of yeh,” said Hagrid. “Harry – yer a wizard.”
There was silence inside the hut . Only the sea and the whist ling wind could be
heard.
“- A what?” gasped Harry.
“A wizard, o’ course,” said Hagrid, sitting back down on the sofa, which groaned
and sank even lower, “an’ a thumpin’ good’un, I’d say, once yeh’ve been t rained up a
bit. With a mum an’ dad like yours, what else would yeh be? An’ I reckon it’s abou’ time
yeh read yer letter.”
Harry st ret ched out his hand at last to take the yellowish envelope, addressed
in emerald green to Mr. H. Pot ter, The Floor, Hut -on-the-Rock, The Sea. He pulled out
the letter and read:
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump,
International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please f ind enclosed a list of all necessary
books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July
31.
Yours sincerely,
Minerva McGonagall,
Deputy Headmistress
Quest ions exploded inside Harry’s head like fireworks and he couldn’t decide
which to ask first . After a few minutes he stammered, “What does it mean, they await
my owl?”
“Gallopin’ Gorgons, that reminds me,” said Hagrid, clapping a hand to his
forehead with enough force to knock over a cart horse, and from yet another pocket
inside his overcoat he pulled an owl – a real, live, rather ruffled-looking owl – a long
quill, and a roll of parchment . With his tongue between his teeth he scribbled a note
that Harry could read upside down:
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
Given Harry his letter. Taking him to buy his things tomorrow. Weather’s
horrible. Hope you’re well.
Hagrid
Hagrid rolled up the note, gave it to the owl, which clamped it in its beak,
went to the door, and threw the owl out into the storm. Then he came back and sat
down as though this was as normal as talking on the telephone. Harry realized his
mouth was open and closed it quickly.
“Where was I?” said Hagrid, but at that moment , Uncle Vernon, st ill ashenfaced
but looking very angry, moved into the firelight.
“He’s not going,” he said.
Hagrid grunted. “I’d like ter see a great Muggle like you stop him,” he said.
“A what?” said Harry, interested.
“A Muggle,” said Hagrid, “it ‘s what we call non-magic folk like thern. “ An’ it ‘s
your bad luck you grew up in a family o’ the biggest Muggles I ever laid eyes on.”
“We swore when we took him in we’d put a stop to that rubbish,” said Uncle
Vernon, “swore we’d stamp it out of him! Wizard indeed!”
“You knew?” said Harry. “You knew I’m a – a wizard?”
“Knew!” shrieked Aunt Petunia suddenly. “Knew! Of course we knew! How could
you not be, my drat ted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a let ter j ust like that
and disappeared off to that -that school-and came home every vacat ion with her
pockets full of frog spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her
for what she was – a freak! But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and
Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!”
She stopped to draw a deep breath and then went rant ing on. It seemed she
had wanted to say all this for years. “Then she met that Pot ter at school and they lef t
and got married and had you, and of course I knew you’d be j ust the same, j ust as
st range, j ust as – as – abnormal – and then, if you please, she went and got herself
blown up and we got landed with you!”
Harry had gone very white. As soon as he found his voice he said, “Blown up?
You told me they died in a car crash!”.
“CAR CRASH!” roared Hagrid, j umping up so angrily that the Dursleys scut t led
back to their corner. “How could a car crash kill Lily an’ James Pot ter? It ‘s an out rage!
A scandal! Harry Pot ter not knowin’ his own story when every kid in our world knows
his name!”
“But why? What happened?” Harry asked urgently.
The anger faded from Hagrid’s face. He looked suddenly anxious. “I never
expected this,” he said, in a low, worried voice. “I had no idea, when Dumbledore told
me there might be t rouble get t in’ hold of yeh, how much yeh didn’t know. Ah, Harry, I
don’ know if I’m the right person ter tell yeh – but someone 3 s got ta – yeh can’t go off
ter Hogwarts not knowin’.”
He threw a dirty look at the Dursleys. “Well, it’s best yeh know as much as I can
tell yeh – mind, I can’t tell yeh everythin’, it’s a great myst’ry, parts of it….”
He sat down, stared into the fire for a few seconds, and then said, “It begins, I
suppose, with – with a person called – but it ‘s incredible yeh don’t know his name,
everyone in our world knows -”
“Who? ”
“Well – I don’ like sayin’ the name if I can help it. No one does.”
“Why not?”
“Gulpin’ gargoyles, Harry, people are st ill scared. Blimey, this is difficult . See,
there was this wizard who went … bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than
worse. His name was…” Hagrid gulped, but no words came out.
“Could you write it down?” Harry suggested.
“Nah – can’t spell it . All right – Voldemort . ” Hagrid shuddered. “Don’ make me
say it again. Anyway, this – this wizard, about twenty years ago now, started lookin’
fer followers. Got ’em, too – some were af raid, some j ust wanted a bit o’ his power,
’cause he was get t in’ himself power, all right . Dark days, Harry. Didn’t know who ter
t rust , didn’t dare get f riendly with st range wizards or witches… terrible things
happened. He was takin’ over. ‘Course, some stood up to him – an’ he killed ’em.
Horribly. One o’ the only safe places left was Hogwarts. Reckon Dumbledore’s the only
one You-Know-Who was afraid of. Didn’t dare t ry takin’ the school, not j us’ then,
anyway.
“Now, yer mum an’ dad were as good a witch an’ wizard as I ever knew. Head
boy an’ girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the myst ‘ry is why You-Know-Who never
t ried to get ’em on his side before… probably knew they were too close ter
Dumbledore ter want anythin’ ter do with the Dark Side.
“Maybe he thought he could persuade ’em… maybe he j ust wanted ’em.out ta
the way. All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on
Halloween ten years ago. You was just a year old. He came ter yer house an’ – an’ -”
Hagrid suddenly pulled out a very dirty, spotted handkerchief and blew his nose
with a sound like a foghorn.
“Sorry,” he said. “But it ‘s that sad – knew yer mum an’ dad, an’ nicer people yeh
couldn’t find – anyway…”
“You-Know-Who killed ’em. An’ then – an’ this is the real myst ‘ry of the thing –
he t ried to kill you, too. Wanted ter make a clean j ob of it , I suppose, or maybe he
j ust liked killin’ by then. But he couldn’t do it . Never wondered how you got that mark
on yer forehead? That was no ordinary cut . That ‘s what yeh get when a Powerful, evil
curse touches yeh – took care of yer mum an’ dad an’ yer house, even – but it didn’t
work on you, an’ that ‘s why yer famous, Harry. No one ever lived after he decided ter
kill ’em, no one except you, an’ he’d killed some o’ the best witches an’ wizards of the
age – the McKinnons, the Bones, the Prewetts – an’ you was only a baby, an’ you lived.”
Something very painful was going on in Harry’s mind. As Hagrid’s story came to
a close, he saw again the blinding flash of green light , more clearly than he had ever
remembered it before – and he remembered something else, for the first t ime in his
life: a high, cold, cruel laugh.
Hagrid was watching him sadly. “Took yeh from the ruined house myself, on
Dumbledore’s orders. Brought yeh ter this lot…”
“Load of old tosh,” said Uncle Vernon. Harry j umped; he had almost forgotten
that the Dursleys were there. Uncle Vernon certainly seemed to have got back his
courage. He was glaring at Hagrid and his fists were clenched.
“Now, you listen here, boy,” he snarled, “I accept there’s something st range
about you, probably nothing a good beat ing wouldn’t have cured – and as for all this
about your parents, well, they were weirdos, no denying it , and the world’s bet ter off
without them in my opinion – asked for all they got , get t ing mixed up with these
wizarding types – just what I expected, always knew they’d come to a sticky end -”
But at that moment , Hagrid leapt f rom the sofa and drew a bat tered pink
umbrella f rom inside his coat . Point ing this at Uncle Vernon like a sword, he said, “I’m
warning you, Dursley –I’m warning you – one more word… ”
In danger of being speared on the end of an umbrella by a bearded giant, Uncle
Vernon’s courage failed again; he flattened himself against the wall and fell silent.
“That ‘s bet ter,” said Hagrid, breathing heavily and sit t ing back down on the
sofa, which this t ime sagged right down to the floor. Harry, meanwhile, st ill had
questions to ask, hundreds of them.
“But what happened to Vol-, sorry – I mean, You-Know-Who?”
“Good quest ion, Harry. Disappeared. Vanished. Same night he t ried ter kill you.
Makes yeh even more famous. That ‘s the biggest myst ‘ry, see… he was get t in’ more an’
more powerful – why’d he go? “Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if
he had enough human left in him to die. Some say he’s st ill out there, bidin’ his t ime,
like, but I don’ believe it . People who was on his side came back ter ours. Some of ’em
came outta kinda trances. Don’ reckon they could’ve done if he was comin’ back.
“Most of us reckon he’s st ill out there somewhere but lost his powers. Too weak
to carry on. ‘Cause somethin’ about you finished him, Harry. There was somethin’ goin’
on that night he hadn’t counted on – I dunno what it was, no one does – but somethin’
about you stumped him, all right.”
Hagrid looked at Harry with warmth and respect blazing in his eyes, but Harry,
instead of feeling pleased and proud, felt quite sure there had been a horrible
mistake. A wizard?Him?How could he possibly be?He’d spent his life being clouted by
Dudley, and bullied by Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon; if he was really a wizard, why
hadn’t they been turned into warty toads every t ime they’d t ried to lock him in his
cupboard? If he’d once defeated the greatest sorcerer in the world, how come Dudley
had always been able to kick him around like a football?
“Hagrid,” he said quiet ly, “I think you must have made a mistake. I don’t think I
can be a wizard.”
To his surprise, Hagrid chuckled.
“Not a wizard, eh? Never made things happen when you was scared or angry?”
Harry looked into the fire. Now he came to think about it … every odd thing
that had ever made his aunt and uncle furious with him had happened when he, Harry,
had been upset or angry… chased by Dudley’s gang, he had somehow found himself
out of their reach… dreading going to school with that ridiculous haircut , he’d
managed to make it grow back… and the very last t ime Dudley had hit him, hadn’t he
got his revenge, without even realizing he was doing it? Hadn’t he set a boa constrictor
on him?
Harry looked back at Hagrid, smiling, and saw that Hagrid was posit ively
beaming at him. “See?” said Hagrid. “Harry Pot ter, not a wizard – you wait , you’ll be
right famous at Hogwarts.”
But Uncle Vernon wasn’t going to give in without a fight. “Haven’t I told you he’s
not going?” he hissed. “He’s going to Stonewall High and he’ll be grateful for it . I’ve
read those letters and he needs.all sorts of rubbish – spell books and wands and -”
“If he wants ter go, a great Muggle like you won’t stop him,” growled Hagrid.
“Stop Lily an’ James Pot ter’ s son goin’ ter Hogwarts! Yer mad. His name’s been down
ever since he was born. He’s off ter the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the
world. Seven years there and he won’t know himself. He’ll be with youngsters of his
own sort , fer a change, an’ he’ll be under the greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had
Albus Dumbled-”
“I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL To TEACH HIM MAGIC
TRICKS!” yelled Uncle Vernon.
But he had finally gone too far. Hagrid seized his umbrella and whirled it over
his head, “NEVER,” he thundered, “- INSULT –ALBUS–DUMBLEDORE – IN –FRONT –OF –
ME!”
He brought the umbrella swishing down through the air to point at Dudley –
there was a f lash of violet light , a sound like a firecracker, a sharp squeal, and the
next second, Dudley was dancing on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat
bot tom, howling in pain. When he turned his back on them, Harry saw a curly pig’s tail
poking through a hole in his t rousers. Uncle Vernon roared. Pulling Aunt Petunia and
Dudley into the other room, he cast one last terrified look at Hagrid and slammed the
door behind them.
Hagrid looked down at his umbrella and st roked his beard. “Shouldn’ta lost me
temper,” he said ruefully, “but it didn’t work anyway. Meant ter turn him into a pig,
but I suppose he was so much like a pig anyway there wasn’t much left ter do.”
He cast a sideways look at Harry under his bushy eyebrows. “Be grateful if yeh
didn’t ment ion that ter anyone at Hogwarts,” he said. “I’m – er – not supposed ter do
magic, st rict ly speakin’. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an’ get yer let ters to
yeh an’ stuff – one o’ the reasons I was so keen ter take on the job
“Why aren’t you supposed to do magic?” asked Harry.
“Oh, well – I was at Hogwarts myself but I – er – got expelled, ter tell yeh the
t ruth. In me third year. They snapped me wand in half an’ everything. But Dumbledore
let me stay on as gamekeeper. Great man, Dumbledore.”
“Why were you expelled?”
“It ‘s get t in’ late and we’ve got lots ter do tomorrow,” said Hagrid loudly. “Got ta
get up ter town, get all yer books an’ that .” He took off his thick black coat and threw
it to Harry. “You can kip under that ,” he said. “Don’ mind if it wriggles a bit , I think I
still got a couple o’ dormice in one o’ the pockets.”
CHAPTER FIVE – DIAGON ALLEY
Harry woke early the next morning. Although he could tell it was daylight , he
kept his eyes shut t ight . “It was a dream, he told himself firmly. “I dreamed a giant
called Hagrid came to tell me I was going to a school for wizards. When I open my eyes
I’ll be at home in my cupboard.”
There was suddenly a loud tapping noise. And there’s Aunt Petunia knocking on
the door, Harry thought, his heart sinking. But he still didn’t open his eyes. It had been
such a good dream.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
“All right,” Harry mumbled, “I’m getting up.”
He sat up and Hagrid’s heavy coat fell off him. The hut was full of sunlight , the
storm was over, Hagrid himself was asleep on the collapsed sofa, and there was an owl
rapping its claw on the window, a newspaper held in its beak.
Harry scrambled to his feet , so happy he felt as though a large balloon was
swelling inside him. He went st raight to the window and j erked it open. The owl
swooped in and dropped the newspaper on top of Hagrid, who didn’t wake up. The owl
then fluttered onto the floor and began to attack Hagrid’s coat.
“Don’t do that.”
Harry t ried to wave the owl out of the way, but it snapped its beak fiercely at
him and carried on savaging the coat.
“Hagrid!” said Harry loudly. “There’s an owl”
“Pay him,” Hagrid grunted into the sofa.
“What?”
“He wants payin’ fer deliverin’ the paper. Look in the pockets.”
Hagrid’s coat seemed to be made of nothing but pockets – bunches of keys, slug
pellets, balls of st ring, peppermint humbugs, teabags… Finally, Harry pulled out a
handful of strange-looking coins.
“Give him five Knuts,” said Hagrid sleepily.
“Knuts?”
“The little bronze ones.”
Harry counted out five lit t le bronze coins, and the owl held out his leg so Harry
could put the money into a small leather pouch t ied to it . Then he flew of f through
the open window.
Hagrid yawned loudly, sat up, and st retched. “Best be off, Harry, lots ter do
today, gotta get up ter London an’ buy all yer stuff fer school.”
Harry was turning over the wizard coins and looking at them. He had j ust
thought of something that made him feel as though the happy balloon inside him had
got a puncture.
“Um – Hagrid?”
“Mm?” said Hagrid, who was pulling on his huge boots.
“I haven’t got any money – and you heard Uncle Vernon last night … he won’t
pay for me to go and learn magic.”
“Don’t worry about that ,” said Hagrid, standing up and scratching his head.
“D’yeh think yer parents didn’t leave yeh anything?”
“But if their house was destroyed -”
“They didn’ keep their gold in the house, boy! Nah, first stop fer us is Gringotts.
Wizards’ bank. Have a sausage, they’re not bad cold – an’ I wouldn’ say no teh a bit o’
yer birthday cake, neither.”
“Wizards have banks?”
“Just the one. Gringotts. Run by goblins.”
Harry dropped the bit of sausage he was holding. “Goblins?”
“Yeah – so yeh’d be mad ter t ry an’ rob it , I’ll tell yeh that . Never mess with
goblins, Harry. Gringot ts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter
keep safe – ‘cept maybe Hogwarts. As a mat ter o’ fact , I got ta visit Gringot ts anyway.
Fer Dumbledore. Hogwarts business.” Hagrid drew himself up proudly. “He usually gets
me ter do important stuff fer him. Fetchin’ you gettin’ things from Gringotts – knows he
can trust me, see.”
“Got everythin’? Come on, then.”
Harry followed Hagrid out onto the rock. The sky was quite clear now and the
sea gleamed in the sunlight . The boat Uncle Vernon had hired was st ill there, with a
lot of water in the bottom after the storm.
“How did you get here?” Harry asked, looking around for another boat.
“Flew,” said Hagrid.
“Flew?”
“Yeah – but we’ll go back in this. Not s’pposed ter use magic now I’ve.got yeh.”
They set t led down in the boat , Harry st ill staring at Hagrid, t rying to magine
him flying.
“Seems a shame ter row, though,” said Hagrid, giving Harry another of is
sideways looks. “If I was ter – er – speed things up a bit, would yeh mind not mentionin’
it at Hogwarts?”
“Of course not ,” said Harry, eager to see more magic. Hagrid pulled out the
pink umbrella again, tapped it twice on the side of the boat , and they sped of f toward
land.
“Why would you be mad to try and rob Gringotts?” Harry asked.
“Spells – enchantments,” said Hagrid, unfolding his newspaper as he spoke.
“They say there’s dragons guardin’ the highsecurity vaults. And then yeh got ta find yer
way –Gringot ts is hundreds of miles under London, see. Deep under the Underground.
Yeh’d die of hunger t ryin’ ter get out , even if yeh did manage ter get yer hands on
summat.”
Harry sat and thought about this while Hagrid read his newspaper, the Daily
Prophet . Harry had learned f rom Uncle Vernon that people liked to be left alone while
they did this, but it was very difficult, he’d never had so many questions in his life.
“Minist ry o’ Magic messin’ things up as usual,” Hagrid mut tered, turning the
page.
“There’s a Ministry of Magic?” Harry asked, before he could stop himself.
“‘Course,” said Hagrid. “They wanted Dumbledore fer Minister, o’ course, but
he’d never leave Hogwarts, so old Cornelius Fudge got the j ob. Bungler if ever there
was one. So he pelts Dumbledore with owls every morning, askin’ fer advice.”
“But what does a Ministry of Magic do?”
“Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that there’s still witches an’
wizards up an’ down the country.”
“Why?”
“Why? Blimey, Harry, everyone’d be want in’ magic solut ions to their problems.
Nah, we’re best left alone.”
At this moment the boat bumped gent ly into the harbor wall. Hagrid folded up
his newspaper, and they clambered up the stone steps onto the st reet . Passersby
stared a lot at Hagrid as they walked through the lit t le town to the stat ion. Harry
couldn’t blame them. Not only was Hagrid twice as tall as anyone else, he kept
point ing at perfect ly ordinary things like parking meters and saying loudly, “See that ,
Harry? Things these Muggles dream up, eh?”.”Hagrid,” said Harry, pant ing a bit as he
ran to keep up, “did you say there are dragons at Gringotts?”
“Well, so they say,” said Hagrid. “Crikey, I’d like a dragon.”
“You’d like one?”
“Wanted one ever since I was a kid – here we go.”
They had reached the stat ion. There was a t rain to London in five minutes’
t ime. Hagrid, who didn’t understand “Muggle money,” as he called it , gave the bills to
Harry so he could buy their t ickets. People stared more than ever on the t rain. Hagrid
took up two seats and sat knitting what looked like a canary-yellow circus tent.
“St ill got yer let ter, Harry?” he asked as he counted st itches. Harry took the
parchment envelope out of his pocket . “Good,” said Hagrid. “There’s a list there of
everything yeh need.”
Harry unfolded a second piece of paper he hadn’t not iced the night before, and
read:
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Uniform
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wears
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
Please note that all pupils’ clothes should carry nametags
COURSE BOOKS
All students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginners’ Guide to Transfiguration by Emetic Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Draf t s and Pot ions by Arsenius Jigger.Fant ast ic Beast s and Where t o
Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
OTHER EQUIPMENTS:
Wand cauldron (pewter, standard size 2) set
Glass or crystal phials
Telescope set
Brass scales
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN
BROOMSTICKS
“Can we buy all this in London?” Harry wondered aloud.
“If yeh know where to go,” said Hagrid.
Harry had never been to London before. Although Hagrid seemed to know
where he was going, he was obviously not used to get t ing there in an ordinary way. He
got stuck in the t icket barrier on the Underground, and complained loudly that the
seats were too small and the t rains too slow. “I don’t know how the Muggles manage
without magic,” he said as they climbed a broken-down escalator that led up to a
bustling road lined with shops.
Hagrid was so huge that he parted the crowd easily; all Harry had to do was
keep close behind him. They passed book shops and music stores, hamburger
restaurants and cinemas, but nowhere that looked as if it could sell you a magic wand.
This was j ust an ordinary st reet full of ordinary people. Could there really be piles of
wizard gold buried miles beneath them?Were there really shops that sold spell books
and broomst icks? Might this not all be some huge j oke that the Dursleys had cooked
up? If Harry hadn’t known that the Dursleys had no sense of humor, he might have
thought so; yet somehow, even though everything Hagrid had told him so far was
unbelievable, Harry couldn’t help trusting him.
“This is it ,” said Hagrid, coming to a halt , “the Leaky Cauldron. It ‘s a famous
place.”
It was a t iny, grubby-looking pub. If Hagrid hadn’t pointed it out , Harry
wouldn’t have not iced it was there. The people hurrying by didn’t glance at it . Their
eyes slid from the big book shop on one side to the record shop on the other as if they
couldn’t see the Leaky Cauldron at all. In fact , Harry had the most peculiar feeling
that only he and Hagrid could see it . Before he could ment ion this, Hagrid had steered
him inside. For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby. A few old women were
sit t ing in a corner, drinking t iny glasses of sherry. One of them was smoking a long
pipe. A lit t le man in a top hat was talking to the old bartender, who was quite bald
and looked like a toothless walnut . The low buzz of chat ter stopped when they walked
in. Everyone seemed to know Hagrid; they waved and smiled at him, and the
bartender reached for a glass, saying, “The usual, Hagrid?”
“Can’t , Tom, I’m on Hogwarts business,” said Hagrid, clapping his great hand on
Harry’s shoulder and making Harry’s knees buckle.
“Good Lord,” said the bartender, peering at Harry, “is this – can this be -?”
The Leaky Cauldron had suddenly gone completely still and silent.
“Bless my soul,” whispered the old bartender, “Harry Potter… what an honor.”
He hurried out from behind the bar, rushed toward Harry and seized his hand,
tears in his eyes. “Welcome back, Mr. Potter, welcome back.”
Harry didn’t know what to say. Everyone was looking at him. The old woman
with the pipe was puff ing on it without realizing it had gone out . Hagrid was beaming.
Then there was a great scraping of chairs and the next moment , Harry found himself
shaking hands with everyone in the Leaky Cauldron.
“Doris Crockford, Mr. Potter, can’t believe I’m meeting you at last.”
“So proud, Mr. Potter, I’m just so proud.”
“Always wanted to shake your hand – I’m all of a flutter.”
“Delighted, Mr. Potter, just can’t tell you, Diggle’s the name, Dedalus Diggle.”
“I’ve seen you before!” said Harry, as Dedalus Diggle’s top hat fell off in his
excitement. “You bowed to me once in a shop.”
“He remembers!” cried Dedalus Diggle, looking around at everyone. “Did you
hear that? He remembers me!” Harry shook hands again and again – Doris Crockford
kept coming back for more. A pale young man made his way forward, very nervously.
One of his eyes was twitching.
“Professor Quirrell!” said Hagrid. “Harry, Professor Quirrell will be one of your
teachers at Hogwarts.”
“P-P-Potter,” stammered Professor Quirrell, grasping Harry’s hand,.”c-can’t t-tell
you how p- pleased I am to meet you.”
“What sort of magic do you teach, Professor Quirrell?”
“D-Defense Against the D-D-Dark Arts,” mut tered Professor Quirrell, as though
he’d rather not think about it . “N-not that you n-need it , eh, P-P-Pot ter?” He laughed
nervously. “You’ll be g-get t ing all your equipment , I suppose? I’ve g-got to p-pick up a
new b-book on vampires, m-myself.” He looked terrified at the very thought.
But the others wouldn’t let Professor Quirrell keep Harry to himself. It took
almost ten minutes to get away from them all. At last , Hagrid managed to make
himself heard over the babble.
“Must get on – lots ter buy. Come on, Harry.”
Doris Crockford shook Harry’s hand one last t ime, and Hagrid led them hrough
the bar and out into a small, walled courtyard, where there was nothing but a t rash
can and a few weeds. Hagrid grinned at Harry.
“Told yeh, didn’t I? Told yeh you was famous. Even Professor Quirrell was
tremblin’ ter meet yeh – mind you, he’s usually tremblin’.”
“Is he always that nervous?”
“Oh, yeah. Poor bloke. Brilliant mind. He was fine while he was studyin’ out ta
books but then he took a year of f ter get some firsthand experience. … They say he
met vampires in the Black Forest , and there was a nasty bit o’ t rouble with a hag –
never been the same since. Scared of the students, scared of his own subj ect now,
where’s me umbrella?”
Vampires? Hags?Harry’s head was swimming. Hagrid, meanwhile, was count ing
bricks in the wall above the trash can.
“Three up… two across he mut tered. “Right , stand back, Harry.” He tapped the
wall three times with the point of his umbrella. The brick he had touched quivered – it
wriggled – in the middle, a small hole appeared – it grew wider and wider – a second
later they were facing an archway large enough even for Hagrid, an archway onto a
cobbled street that twisted and turned out of sight.
“Welcome,” said Hagrid, “to Diagon Alley.”
He grinned at Harry’s amazement . They stepped through the archway. Harry
looked quickly over his shoulder and saw the archway shrink instant ly back into solid
wall. The sun shone bright ly on a stack of cauldrons outside the nearest shop.
Cauldrons – All Sizes –Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver –Self -Stirring –Collapsible, said a
sign hanging over them.
“Yeah, you’ll be needin’ one,” said Hagrid, “but we gotta get yer money first.”
Harry wished he had about eight more eyes. He turned his head in every
direction as they walked up the street, trying to look at everything at once: the shops,
the things outside them, the people doing their shopping. A plump woman outside an
Apothecary was shaking her head as they passed, saying, “Dragon liver, seventeen
Sickles an ounce, they’re mad….”
A low, soft hoot ing came from a dark shop with a sign saying Eeylops Owl
Emporium – Tawny, Screech, Barn, Brown, and Snowy. Several boys of about Harry’s
age had their noses pressed against a window with broomst icks in it . “Look,” Harry
heard one of them say, “the new Nimbus Two Thousand – fastest ever -” There were
shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and st range silver inst ruments Harry had
never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels’ eyes,
tot tering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment , pot ion bot t les, globes of
the moon….
“Gringotts,” said Hagrid.
They had reached a snowy white building that towered over the other lit t le
shops. Standing beside its burnished bronze doors, wearing a uniform of scarlet and
gold, was –
“ Yeah, that ‘s a goblin,” said Hagrid quiet ly as they walked up the white stone
steps toward him. The goblin was about a head shorter than Harry. He had a swarthy,
clever face, a pointed beard and, Harry not iced, very long f ingers and feet . He bowed
as they walked inside. Now they were facing a second pair of doors, silver this t ime,
with words engraved upon them:
Enter, stranger, but take heed of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.
“Like I said, Yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it,” said Hagrid.
A pair of goblins bowed them through the silver doors and they were in a vast
marble hall. About a hundred more goblins were sit t ing on high stools behind a long
counter, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, examining precious
stones through eyeglasses. There were too many doors to count leading off the hall,
and yet more goblins were showing people in and out of these. Hagrid and Harry made
for the counter.
“Morning,” said Hagrid to a free goblin. “We’ve come ter take some money out ta
Mr. Harry Potter’s safe.”
“You have his key, Sir?”
“Got it here somewhere,” said Hagrid, and he started emptying his pockets onto
the counter, scat tering a handful of moldy dog biscuits over the goblin’s book of
numbers. The goblin wrinkled his nose. Harry watched the goblin on their right
weighing a pile of rubies as big as glowing coals.
“Got it,” said Hagrid at last, holding up a tiny golden key.
The goblin looked at it closely. “That seems to be in order.”
“An’ I’ve also got a let ter here from Professor Dumbledore,” said Hagrid
important ly, throwing out his chest . “It ‘s about the You-Know-What in vault seven
hundred and thirteen.”
The goblin read the let ter carefully. “Very well,” he said, handing it back to
Hagrid, “I will have someone take you down to both vaults. Griphook!”
Griphook was yet another goblin. Once Hagrid had crammed all the dog biscuits
back inside his pockets, he and Harry followed Griphook toward one of the doors
leading off the hall.
“What’s the You-Know-What in vault seven hundred and thirteen?” Harry asked.
“Can’t tell yeh that ,” said Hagrid mysteriously. “Very secret . Hogwarts business.
Dumbledore’s trusted me. More’n my job’s worth ter tell yeh that.”
Griphook held the door open for them. Harry, who had expected more marble,
was surprised. They were in a narrow stone passageway lit with f laming torches. It
sloped steeply downward and there were lit t le railway t racks on the floor. Griphook
whist led and a small cart came hurt ling up the t racks toward them. They climbed in –
Hagrid with some difficulty – and were off. At first they just hurtled through a maze of
twist ing passages. Harry t ried to remember, left , right , right , left , middle fork, right ,
left , but it was impossible. The rat t ling cart seemed to know its own way, because
Griphook wasn’t steering.
Harry’s eyes stung as the cold air rushed past them, but he kept them wide
open. Once, he thought he saw a burst of fire at the end of a passage and twisted
around to see if it was a dragon, but too late – they plunged even deeper, passing an
underground lake where huge stalact ites and stalagmites grew f rom the ceiling and
floor.
“ I never know,” Harry called to Hagrid over the noise of the cart , “what ‘s the
difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite?”
“Stalagmite’s got an ‘m’ in it,” said Hagrid. “An’ don’ ask me questions just now, I
think I’m gonna be sick.”
He did look very green, and when the cart stopped at last beside a small door
in the passage wall, Hagrid got out and had to lean against the wall to stop his knees
from t rembling. Griphook unlocked the door. A lot of green smoke came billowing out ,
and as it cleared, Harry gasped. Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver.
Heaps of little bronze Knuts.
“All yours,” smiled Hagrid.
All Harry’s – it was incredible. The Dursleys couldn’t have known about this or
they’d have had it from him faster than blinking. How often had they complained how
much Harry cost them to keep? And all the t ime there had been a small fortune
belonging to him, buried deep under London. Hagrid helped Harry pile some of it into
a bag.
“The gold ones are Galleons,” he explained. “Seventeen silver Sickles to a
Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle, it ‘s easy enough. Right , that should be
enough fer a couple o’ terms, we’ll keep the rest safe for yeh.” He turned to Griphook.
“Vault seven hundred and thirteen now, please, and can we go more slowly?”
“One speed only,” said Griphook.
They were going even deeper now and gathering speed. The air became colder and
colder as they hurt led round t ight corners. They went rat t ling over an underground
ravine, and Harry leaned over the side to t ry to see what was down at the dark
bot tom, but Hagrid groaned and pulled him back by the scruff of his neck. Vault seven
hundred and thirteen had no keyhole.
“Stand back,” said Griphook importantly. He stroked the door gently with one of
his long fingers and it simply melted away. “If anyone but a Gringotts goblin tried that,
they’d be sucked through the door and trapped in there,” said Griphook.
“How often do you check to see if anyone’s inside?” Harry asked.
“About once every ten years,” said Griphook with a rather nasty grin.
Something really ext raordinary had to be inside this top securit y vault , Harry
was sure, and he leaned forward eagerly, expect ing to see fabulous j ewels at the very
least – but at first he thought it was empty. Then he not iced a grubby lit t le package
wrapped up in brown paper lying on.the floor. Hagrid picked it up and tucked it deep
inside his coat. Harry longed to know what it was, but knew better than to ask.
“Come on, back in this infernal cart , and don’t talk to me on the way back, it ‘s
best if I keep me mouth shut,” said Hagrid.
One wild cart ride later they stood blinking in the sunlight outside Gringot ts.
Harry didn’t know where to run first now that he had a bag full of money. He didn’t
have to know how many Galleons there were to a pound to know that he was holding
more money than he’d had in his whole life –more money than even Dudley had ever
had.
“Might as well get yer uniform,” said Hagrid, nodding toward Madam Malkin’s
Robes for All Occasions. “Listen, Harry, would yeh mind if I slipped off fer a pick-meup
in the Leaky Cauldron? I hate them Gringot ts carts.” He did st ill look a bit sick, so
Harry entered Madam Malkin’s shop alone, feeling nervous.
Madam Malkin was a squat , smiling witch dressed all in mauve. “Hogwarts,
clear?” she said, when Harry started to speak. “Got the lot here – another young man
being fitted up just now, in fact. ”
In the back of the shop, a boy with a pale, pointed face was standing on a
footstool while a second wit ch pinned up his long black robes. Madam Malkin stood
Harry on a stool next to him) slipped a long robe over his head, and began to pin it to
the right length.
“Hello,” said the boy, “Hogwarts, too?”
“Yes,” said Harry.
“My father’s next door buying my books and mother’s up the st reet looking at
wands,” said the boy. He had a bored, drawling voice. “Then I’m going to drag them off
to took at racing brooms. I don’t see why first years can’t have their own. I think I’ll
bully father into getting me one and I’ll smuggle it in somehow.”
Harry was strongly reminded of Dudley.
“Have you got your own broom?” the boy went on.
“No,” said Harry.
“Play Quidditch at all?”
“No,” Harry said again, wondering what on earth Quidditch could be.
“I do –Father says it ‘s a crime if I’m not picked to play for my house, and I must
say, I agree. Know what house you’ll be in yet?”
“No,” said Harry, feeling more stupid by the minute.
“Well, no one really knows unt il they get there, do they, but I know I’ll be in
Slytherin, all our family have been – imagine being in Hufflepuf f, I think I’d leave,
wouldn’t you?”
“Mmm,” said Harry, wishing.he could say something a bit more interesting.
“I say, look at that man!” said the boy suddenly, nodding toward the f ront
window. Hagrid was standing there, grinning at Harry and point ing at two large ice
creams to show he couldn’t come in.
“That ‘s Hagrid,” said Harry, pleased to know something the boy didn’t . “He
works at Hogwarts.”
“Oh,” said the boy, “I’ve heard of him. He’s a sort of servant, isn’t he?”
“He’s the gamekeeper,” said Harry. He was liking the boy less and less every
second.
“Yes, exactly. I heard he’s a sort of savage –lives in a hut on the school grounds
and every now and then he gets drunk, t ries to do magic, and ends up set t ing fire to
his bed.”
“I think he’s brilliant,” said Harry coldly.
“Do you?” said the boy, with a slight sneer. “Why is he with you?Where are your
parents?”
“They’re dead,” said Harry short ly. He didn’t feel much like going into the
matter with this boy.
“Oh, sorry,” said the other, not sounding sorry at all. “But they were our kind,
weren’t they?”
“They were a witch and wizard, if that’s what you mean.”
“I really don’t think they should let the other sort in, do you? They’re j ust not
the same, they’ve never been brought up to know our ways. Some of them have never
even heard of Hogwarts unt il they get the let ter, imagine. I think they should keep it
in the old wizarding families. What’s your surname, anyway?”
But before Harry could answer, Madam Malkin said, “That ‘s you done, my dear,”
and Harry, not sorry for an excuse to stop talking to the boy, hopped down f rom the
footstool.
“Well, I’ll see you at Hogwarts, I suppose,” said the drawling boy. Harry was
rather quiet as he ate the ice cream Hagrid had bought him (chocolate and raspberry
with chopped nuts).
“What’s up?” said Hagrid.
“Nothing,” Harry lied. They stopped to buy parchment and quills. Harry cheered
up a bit when he found a bottle of ink that changed color as you wrote. When they had
left the shop, he said, “Hagrid, what’s Quidditch?”
“Blimey, Harry, I keep forget t in’ how lit t le yeh know – not knowin’ about
Quidditch!”.
“Don’t make me feel worse,” said Harry. He told Hagrid about the pate boy in
Madam Malkin’s. “-and he said people from Muggle families shouldn’t even be allowed
in.”
“Yer not from a Muggle family. If he’d known who yeh were – he’s grown up
knowin’ yer name if his parents are wizardin’ folk. You saw what everyone in the Leaky
Cauldron was like when they saw yeh. Anyway, what does he know about it , some o’
the best I ever saw were the only ones with magic in ’em in a long line 0′ Muggles – look
at yer mum! Look what she had fer a sister!”
“So what is Quidditch?”
“It ‘s our sport . Wizard sport . It ‘s like – like soccer in the Muggle world –
everyone follows Quidditch – played up in the air on broomst icks and there’s four balls
– sorta hard ter explain the rules.”
“And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?”
“School houses. There’re four. Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers, but
-”
“I bet I’m in Hufflepuff” said Harry gloomily.
“Bet ter Hufflepuf f than Slytherin,” said Hagrid darkly. “There’s not a single
witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin. You-Know-Who was one.”
“Vol-, sorry – You-Know-Who was at Hogwarts?”
“Years an’ years ago,” said Hagrid.
They bought Harry’s school books in a shop called Flourish and Blot ts where the
shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in
leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar
symbols and a few books with nothing in them at all. Even Dudley, who never read
anything, would have been wild to get his hands on some of these. Hagrid almost had
to drag Harry away from Curses and Countercurses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle
Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue- Tying and
Much, Much More) by Professor Vindictus Viridian.
“I was trying to find out how to curse Dudley.”
“I’m not sayin’ that ‘s not a good idea, but yer not ter use magic in the Muggle
world except in very special circumstances,” said Hagrid. “An’ anyway, yeh couldn’
work any of them curses yet , yeh’ll need a lot more study before yeh get ter that
level.”
Hagrid wouldn’t let Harry buy a solid gold cauldron, either (“It says pewter on
yer list “), but they got a nice set of scales for weighing pot ion ingredients and a
collapsible brass telescope. Then they visited the Apothecary, which was fascinat ing
enough to make up for its horrible smell, a mixture of bad eggs and rot ted cabbages.
Barrels of slimy stuff stood on the floor; j ars of herbs, dried roots, and bright powders
lined.the walls; bundles of feathers, st rings of fangs, and snarled claws hung from the
ceiling. While Hagrid asked the man behind the counter for a supply of some basic
pot ion ingredients for Harry, Harry himself examined silver unicorn horns at twentyone
Galleons each and minuscule, glittery-black beetle eyes (five Knuts a scoop).
Outside the Apothecary, Hagrid checked Harry’s list again. “Just yer wand left –
A yeah, an’ I still haven’t got yeh a birthday present.”
Harry felt himself go red.
“You don’t have to -”
“I know I don’t have to. Tell yeh what , I’ll get yer animal. Not a toad, toads
went out ta fashion years ago, yeh’d be laughed at – an’ I don’ like cats, they make me
sneeze. I’ll get yer an owl. All the kids want owls, they’re dead useful, carry yer mail
an’ everythin’.”
Twenty minutes later, they left Eeylops Owl Emporium, which had been dark
and full of rust ling and flickering, j ewel-bright eyes. Harry now carried a large cage
that held a beaut iful snowy owl, fast asleep with her head under her wing. He couldn’t
stop stammering his thanks, sounding just like Professor Quirrell.
“Don’ ment ion it ,” said Hagrid gruffly. “Don’ expect you’ve had a lot ta presents
from them Dursleys. Just Ollivanders left now – only place fer wands, Ollivanders, and
yeh gotta have the best wand.”
A magic wand… this was what Harry had been really looking forward to. The
last shop was narrow and shabby. Peeling gold let ters over the door read Ollivanders:
Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. A single wand lay on a faded purple cushion in
the dusty window. A t inkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they
stepped inside. It was a tiny place, empty except for a single, spindly chair that Hagrid
sat on to wait . Harry felt st rangely as though he had entered a very st rict library; he
swallowed a lot of new quest ions that had j ust occurred to him and looked instead at
the thousands of narrow boxes piled neat ly right up to the ceiling. For some reason,
the back of his neck prickled. The very dust and silence in here seemed to t ingle with
some secret magic.
“Good afternoon,” said a soft voice. Harry j umped. Hagrid must have j umped,
too, because there was a loud crunching noise and he got quickly off the spindly chair.
An old man was standing before them, his wide, pale eyes shining like moons through
the gloom of the shop.
“Hello,” said Harry awkwardly.
“Ah yes,” said the man. “Yes, yes. I thought I’d be seeing you soon. Harry
Potter.” It wasn’t a question. “You have your mother’s eyes. It seems only yesterday she
was in here herself, buying her first wand. Ten and a quarter inches long, swishy,
made of willow. Nice wand for charm work.”
Mr. Ollivander moved closer to Harry. Harry wished he would blink. Those
silvery eyes were a bit creepy. “Your father, on the other hand, favored a mahogany
wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A lit t le more power and excellent for t ransfigurat ion.
Well, I say your father favored it – it ‘s really the wand that chooses the wizard, of
course.”
Mr. Ollivander had come so close that he and Harry were almost nose to nose.
Harry could see himself reflected in those misty eyes. “And that’s where…”
Mr. Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Harry’s forehead with a long, white
finger. “I’m sorry to say I sold the wand that did it,” he said softly. “Thirteen-and-a-half
inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerful, and in the wrong hands… well, if I’d
known what that wand was going out into the world to do….”
He shook his head and then, to Harry’s relief, spotted Hagrid.
“Rubeus! Rubeus Hagrid! How nice to see you again…. Oak, sixteen inches,
rather bendy, wasn’t it?”
“It was, sir, yes,” said Hagrid.
“Good wand, that one. But I suppose they snapped it in half when you got
expelled?” said Mr. Ollivander, suddenly stern. “Er – yes, they did, yes,” said Hagrid,
shuffling his feet. “I’ve still got the pieces, though,” he added brightly.
“But you don’t use them?” said Mr. Ollivander sharply.
“Oh, no, sir,” said Hagrid quickly. Harry not iced he gripped his pink umbrella
very tightly as he spoke.
“Hmmm,” said Mr. Ollivander, giving Hagrid a piercing look. “Well, now – Mr.
Pot ter. Let me see.” He pulled a long tape measure with silver markings out of his
pocket. “Which is your wand arm?”
“Er – well, I’m right-handed,” said Harry.
“Hold out your arm. That ‘s it .” He measured Harry from shoulder to finger, then
wrist to elbow, shoulder to floor, knee to armpit and round his head. As he measured,
he said, “Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful magical substance, Mr.
Pot ter. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers, and the heartst rings of dragons.
No two Ollivander wands are the same, j ust as no two unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes
are quite the same. And of course, you will never get such good results with another
wizard’s wand.”
Harry suddenly realized that the tape measure, which was measuring between
his nost rils, was doing this on its own. Mr. Ollivander was flit t ing around the shelves,
taking down boxes.
“That will do,” he said, and the tape measure crumpled into a heap on the
floor. “Right then, Mr. Pot ter. Try this one. Beechwood and dragon heartst ring. Nine
inches. Nice and flexible. just take it and give it a wave.”
Harry took the wand and (feeling foolish) waved it around a bit , but Mr.
Ollivander snatched it out of his hand almost at once. “Maple and phoenix feather.
Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try -” Harry t ried – but he had hardly raised the wand
when it, too, was snatched back by Mr. Ollivander.
“No, no -here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on,
go on, try it out.”
Harry tried. And tried. He had no idea what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for. The
pile of t ried wands was mount ing higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the more
wands Mr. Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become.
“Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry, we’ll f ind the perfect match here
somewhere – I wonder, now – yes, why not – unusual combinat ion – holly and phoenix
feather, eleven inches, nice and supple.”
Harry took the wand. He felt sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand
above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a st ream of red
and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to
the walls. Hagrid whooped and clapped and Mr. Ollivander cried, “Oh, bravo! Yes,
indeed, oh, very good. Well, well, well… how curious… how very curious… ”
He put Harry’s wand back into its box and wrapped it in brown paper, st ill
muttering, “Curious… curious…”
“Sorry,” said Harry, “but what’s curious?”
Mr. Ollivander fixed Harry with his pale stare. “I remember every wand I’ve ever
sold, Mr. Pot ter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather
is in your wand, gave another feather – j ust one other. It is very curious indeed that
you should be dest ined for this wand when its brother why, its brother gave you that
scar.”
Harry swallowed.
“Yes, thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Curious indeed how these things happen.
The wand chooses the wizard, remember…. I think we must expect great things from
you, Mr. Pot ter…. After all, He-.Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things – terrible,
yes, but great .” Harry shivered. He wasn’t sure he liked Mr. Ollivander too much. He
paid seven gold Galleons for his wand, and Mr. Ollivander bowed them from his shop.
The late af ternoon sun hung low in the sky as Harry and Hagrid made their way
back down Diagon Alley, back through the wall, back through the Leaky Cauldron, now
empty. Harry didn’t speak at all as they walked down the road; he didn’t even not ice
how much people were gawking at them on the Underground, laden as they were with
all their funny-shaped packages, with the snowy owl asleep in its cage on Harry’s lap.
Up another escalator, out into Paddington stat ion; Harry only realized where they
were when Hagrid tapped him on the shoulder.
“Got time fer a bite to eat before yer train leaves,” he said.
He bought Harry a hamburger and they sat down on plast ic seats to eat them.
Harry kept looking around. Everything looked so strange, somehow.
“You all right, Harry? Yer very quiet,” said Hagrid.
Harry wasn’t sure he could explain. He’d j ust had the best birthday of his life –
and yet – he chewed his hamburger, trying to find the words.
“Everyone thinks I’m special,” he said at last . “All those people in the Leaky
Cauldron, Professor Quirrell, Mr. Ollivander… but I don’t know anything about magic
at all. How can they expect great things? I’m famous and I can’t even remember what
I’m famous for. I don’t know what happened when Vol-, sorry – I mean, the night my
parents died.”
Hagrid leaned across the table. Behind the wild beard and eyebrows he wore a
very kind smile.
“Don’ you worry, Harry. You’ll learn fast enough. Everyone starts at the
beginning at Hogwarts, you’ll be j ust fine. j ust be yerself . I know it ‘s hard. Yeh’ve been
singled out , an’ that ‘s always hard. But yeh’ll have a great t ime at Hogwarts – I did –
still do, ‘smatter of fact.”
Hagrid helped Harry on to the t rain that would take him back to the Dursleys,
then handed him an envelope. “Yer ticket fer Hogwarts, ” he said. “First o’ September –
King’s Cross – it ‘s all on yer t icket . Any problems with the Dursleys, send me a let ter
with yer owl, she’ll know where to find me…. See yeh soon, Harry.”
The t rain pulled out of the stat ion. Harry wanted to watch Hagrid unt il he was
out of sight ; he rose in his seat and pressed his nose against the window, but he
blinked and Hagrid had gone.
CHAPTER SIX – THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE-QUARTERS
Harry’s last month with the Dursleys wasn’t fun. True, Dudley was now so
scared of Harry he wouldn’t stay in the same room, while Aunt Petunia and Uncle
Vernon didn’t shut Harry in his cupboard, force him to do anything, or shout at him – in
fact , they didn’t speak to him at all. Half terrified, half furious, they acted as though
any chair with Harry in it were empty. Although this was an improvement in many
ways, it did become a bit depressing after a while.
Harry kept to his room, with his new owl for company. He had decided to call
her Hedwig, a name he had found in A History of Magic. His school books were very
interest ing. He lay on his bed reading late into the night , Hedwig swooping in and out
of the open window as she pleased. It was lucky that Aunt Petunia didn’t come in to
vacuum anymore, because Hedwig kept bringing back dead mice. Every night before
he went to sleep, Harry t icked off another day on the piece of paper he had pinned to
the wall, counting down to September the first.
On the last day of August he thought he’d bet ter speak to his aunt and uncle
about get t ing to King’s Cross stat ion the next day, so he went down to the living room
where they were watching a quiz show on television. He cleared his throat to let them
know he was there, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room.
“Er – Uncle Vernon?”
Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening. “Er – I need to be at King’s Cross
tomorrow to – to go to Hogwarts.”
Uncle Vernon grunted again.
“Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?”
Grunt. Harry supposed that meant yes.
“Thank you.”
He was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actually spoke. “Funny
way to get to a wizards’ school, the train. Magic carpets all got punctures, have they?”
Harry didn’t say anything.
“Where is this school, anyway?”
“I don’t know,” said Harry, realizing this for the first t ime. He pulled the t icket
Hagrid had given him out of his pocket . “I j ust take the t rain from plat form nine and
three-quarters at eleven o’clock,” he read.
His aunt and uncle stared.
“Platform what?”
“Nine and three-quarters.”
“Don’t talk rubbish,” said Uncle Vernon. “There is no plat form nine and threequarters.”
“It’s on my ticket.”
“Barking,” said Uncle Vernon, “howling mad, the lot of them. You’ll see. You
j ust wait . All right , we’ll take you to King’s Cross. We’re going up to London tomorrow
anyway, or I wouldn’t bother.”
“Why are you going to London?” Harry asked, trying to keep things friendly.
“Taking Dudley to the hospital,” growled Uncle Vernon. “Got to have that ruddy
tail removed before he goes to Smeltings.”
Harry woke at five o’clock the next morning and was too excited and nervous to
go back to sleep. He got up and pulled on his jeans because he didn’t want to walk into
the stat ion in his wizard’s robes – he’d change on the t rain. He checked his Hogwarts
list yet again to make sure he had everything he needed, saw that Hedwig was shut
safely in her cage, and then paced the room, wait ing for the Dursleys to get up. Two
hours later, Harry’s huge, heavy t runk had been loaded into the Dursleys’ car, Aunt
Petunia had talked Dudley into sit t ing next to Harry, and they had set of f. They
reached King’s Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernon dumped Harry’s t runk onto a cart
and wheeled it into the stat ion for him. Harry thought this was st rangely kind unt il
Uncle Vernon stopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on his face.
“Well, there you are, boy. Plat form nine – plat form ten. Your plat form should
be somewhere in the middle, but they don’t seem to have built it yet, do they?”
He was quite right , of course. There was a big plast ic number nine over one
plat form and a big plast ic number ten over the one next to it , and in the middle,
nothing at all.
“Have a good term,” said Uncle Vernon with an even nast ier smile. He left
without another word. Harry turned and saw the Dursleys drive away. All three of
them were laughing. Harry’s mouth went rather dry. What on earth was he going to do?
He was start ing to at t ract a lot of funny looks, because of Hedwig. He’d have to ask
someone.
He stopped a passing guard, but didn’t dare ment ion plat form nine and threequarters.
The guard had never heard of Hogwarts and when Harry couldn’t even tell
him what part of the country it was in, he started to get annoyed, as though Harry was
being stupid on purpose. Get t ing desperate, Harry asked for the t rain that left at
eleven o’clock, but the guard said there wasn’t one. In the end the guard st rode away,
mut tering about t ime wasters. Harry was now t rying hard not to panic. According to
the large clock over the arrivals board, he had ten minutes lef t to get on the t rain to
Hogwarts and he had no idea how to do it ; he.was st randed in the middle of a stat ion
with a t runk he could hardly lift , a pocket full of wizard money, and a large owl.
Hagrid must have forgot ten to tell him something you had to do, like tapping the third
brick on the left to get into Diagon Alley. He wondered if he should get out his wand
and start tapping the ticket inspector’s stand between platforms nine and ten.
At that moment a group of people passed j ust behind him and he caught a few
words of what they were saying.
“- packed with Muggles, of course -”
Harry swung round. The speaker was a plump woman who was talking to four
boys, all with flaming red hair. Each of them was pushing a t runk like Harry’s in front
of him – and they had an owl.
Heart hammering, Harry pushed his cart af ter them. They stopped and so did
he, j ust near enough to hear what they were saying. “Now, what ‘s the plat form
number?” said the boys’ mother.
“Nine and three-quarters!” piped a small girl, also red-headed, who was holding
her hand, “Mom, can’t I go… ”
“You’re not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy, you go first.”
What looked like the oldest boy marched toward plat forms nine and ten. Harry
watched, careful not to blink in case he missed it – but j ust as the boy reached the
dividing barrier between the two plat forms, a large crowd of tourists came swarming
in front of him and by the t ime the last backpack had cleared away, the boy had
vanished.
“Fred, you next ,” the plump woman said. “I’m not Fred, I’m George,” said the
boy. “Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can’t you tell I’m George?”
“Sorry, George, dear.”
“Only j oking, I am Fred,” said the boy, and off he went . His twin called after
him to hurry up, and he must have done so, because a second later, he had gone – but
how had he done it?
Now the third brother was walking briskly toward the barrier he was almost
there – and then, quite suddenly, he wasn’t anywhere. There was nothing else for it.
“Excuse me,” Harry said to the plump woman.
“Hello, dear,” she said. “First t ime at Hogwarts?Ron’s new, too.” She pointed at
the last and youngest of her sons. He was tall, thin, and gangling, with freckles, big
hands and feet , and a long nose..”Yes,” said Harry. “The thing is – the thing is, I don’t
know how to -”
“How to get onto the platform?” she said kindly, and Harry nodded.
“Not to worry,” she said. “All you have to do is walk st raight at the barrier
between plat forms nine and ten. Don’t stop and don’t be scared you’ll crash into it ,
that ‘s very important . Best do it at a bit of a run if you’re nervous. Go on, go now
before Ron.”
“Er – okay,” said Harry.
He pushed his t rolley around and stared at the barrier. It looked very solid. He
started to walk toward it . People j ost led him on their way to plat forms nine and ten.
Harry walked more quickly. He was going to smash right into that barrier and then he’d
be in t rouble – leaning forward on his cart , he broke into a heavy run – the barrier was
coming nearer and nearer – he wouldn’t be able to stop – the cart was out of cont rol –
he was a foot away – he closed his eyes ready for the crash –
It didn’t come… he kept on running.. . he opened his eyes. A scarlet steam
engine was wait ing next to a plat form packed with people. A sign overhead said
Hogwarts Express, eleven o’clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought -iron
archway, where the barrier had been with the words Plat form Nine and Three-
Quarters on it, he had done it.
Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chat tering crowd, while
cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one
another in a disgrunt led sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy t runks.
The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of the
window to talk to their families, some fight ing over seats. Harry pushed his cart off
down the platform in search of an empty seat.
He passed a round-faced boy who was saying, “Gran, I’ve lost my toad again.”
“Oh, Neville,” he heard the old woman sigh.
A boy with dreadlocks was surrounded by a small crowd. “Give us a look, Lee,
go on.”
The boy lifted the lid of a box in his arms, and the people around him shrieked
and yelled as something inside poked out a long, hairy leg. Harry pressed on through
the crowd unt il he found an empty compartment near the end of the t rain. He put
Hedwig inside first and then started to shove and heave his t runk toward the t rain
door. He t ried to lift it up the steps but could hardly raise one end and twice he
dropped it painfully on his foot.
“Want a hand?” It was one of the red-haired twins he’d followed through the
barrier. “Yes, please,” Harry panted.
“Oy, Fred! C’mere and help!”
With the twins’ help, Harry’s t runk was at last tucked away in a corner of the
compartment. “Thanks,” said Harry, pushing his sweaty hair out of his eyes.
“What’s that?” said one of the twins suddenly, pointing at Harry’s lightning scar.
“Blimey,” said the other twin. “Are you…”
“He is,” said the first twin. “Aren’t you?” he added to Harry.
“What?” said Harry.
“Harry Potter, “chorused the twins.
“Oh, him,” said Harry. “I mean, yes, I am.”
The two boys gawked at him, and Harry felt himself turning red. Then, to his
relief, a voice came float ing in through the t rain’s open door. “Fred? George? Are you
there?”
“Coming, Mom.”
With a last look at Harry, the twins hopped of f the t rain. Harry sat down next
to the window where, half hidden, he could watch the red-haired family on the
plat form and hear what they were saying. Their mother had j ust taken out her
handkerchief.
“Ron, you’ve got something on your nose.”
The youngest boy t ried to j erk out of the way, but she grabbed him and began
rubbing the end of his nose. “Mom – geroff” He wriggled free.
“Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie?” said one of the twins.
“Shut up,” said Ron.
“Where’s Percy?” said their mother.
“He’s coming now.”
The oldest boy came st riding into sight . He had already changed into his
billowing black Hogwarts robes, and Harry not iced a shiny silver badge on his chest
with the letter P on it.
“Can’t stay long, Mother,” he said. “I’m up front , the prefects have got two
compartments to themselves -”
“Oh, are you a prefect , Percy?” said one of the twins, with an air of great
surprise. “You should have said something, we had no idea.”
“Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it ,” said the other
twin. “Once -”
“Or twice -”
“A minute -”
“All summer -”
“Oh, shut up,” said Percy the Prefect.
“How come Percy gets new robes, anyway?” said one of the twins.
“Because he’s a prefect ,” said their mother fondly. “All right , dear, well, have a
good term – send me an owl when you get there.” She kissed Percy on the cheek and
he left. Then she turned to the twins.
“Now, you two – this year, you behave yourselves. If I get one more owl telling
me you’ve – you’ve blown up a toilet or -”
“Blown up a toilet? We’ve never blown up a toilet.”
“Great idea though, thanks, Mom.”
“It’s not funny. And look after Ron.”
“Don’t worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us.”
“Shut up,” said Ron again. He was almost as tall as the twins already and his
nose was still pink where his mother had rubbed it.
“Hey, Mom, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?”
Harry leaned back quickly so they couldn’t see him looking. “You know that
black-haired boy who was near us in the station? Know who he is?”
“Who?”
“Harry Potter!”
Harry heard the little girl’s voice.
“Oh, Mom, can I go on the train and see him, Mom, eh please….”
“You’ve already seen him, Ginny, and the poor boy isn’t something you goggle at
in a zoo. Is he really, Fred? How do you know?”
“Asked him. Saw his scar. It’s really there – like lightning.”
“Poor dear – no wonder he was alone, I wondered. He was ever so polite when
he asked how to get onto the platform.”
“Never mind that, do you think he remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?”
Their mother suddenly became very stern.
“I forbid you to ask him, Fred. No, don’t you dare. As though he needs
reminding of that on his first day at school.”
“All right, keep your hair on.”
A whistle sounded.
“Hurry up!” their mother said, and the three boys clambered onto the t rain.
They leaned out of the window for her to kiss them good-bye, and their younger sister
began to cry.
“Don’t, Ginny, we’ll send you loads of owls.”
“We’ll send you a Hogwarts toilet seat.”
“George!”
“Only joking, Mom.”
The t rain began to move. Harry saw the boys’ mother waving and their sister,
half laughing, half crying, running to keep up with the t rain unt il it gathered too much
speed, then she fell back and waved. Harry watched the girl and her mother disappear
as the t rain rounded the corner. Houses f lashed past the window. Harry felt a great
leap of excitement . He didn’t know what he was going to but it had to be bet ter than
what he was leaving behind.
The door of the compartment slid open and the youngest redheaded boy came
in.
“Anyone sitting there?” he asked, pointing at the seat opposite Harry.
“Everywhere else is full.”
Harry shook his head and the boy sat down. He glanced at Harry and then
looked quickly out of the window, pretending he hadn’t looked. Harry saw he st ill had
a black mark on his nose.
“Hey, Ron.”
The twins were back.
“Listen, we’re going down the middle of the t rain – Lee Jordan’s got a giant
tarantula down there”
“Right,” mumbled Ron.
“Harry,” said the other twin, “did we int roduce ourselves? Fred and George
Weasley. And this is Ron, our brother. See you later, then.”
“Bye,” said Harry and Ron. The twins slid the compartment door shut behind
them.
“Are you really Harry Potter?” Ron blurted out.
Harry nodded.
“Oh – well, I thought it might be one of Fred and George’s jokes,” said Ron. “And
have you really got – you know…”
He pointed at Harry’s forehead.
Harry pulled back his bangs to show the lightning scar. Ron stared. “So that ‘s
where You-Know-Who …”
“Yes,” said Harry, “but I can’t remember it.”
“Nothing?” said Ron eagerly.
“Well – I remember a lot of green light, but nothing else.”
“Wow,” said Ron. He sat and stared at Harry for a few moments, then, as
though he had suddenly realized what he was doing, he looked quickly out of the
window again.
“Are all your family wizards?” asked Harry, who found Ron j ust as interest ing as
Ron found him.
“Er – yes, I think so,” said Ron. “I think Mom’s got a second cousin who’s an
accountant, but we never talk about him.”
“So you must know loads of magic already.”
The Weasleys were clearly one of those old wizarding families the pale boy in
Diagon Alley had talked about.
“I heard you went to live with Muggles,” said Ron. “What are they like?”
“Horrible – well, not all of them. My aunt and uncle and cousin are, though.
Wish I’d had three wizard brothers.”
“Five,” said Ron. For some reason, he was looking gloomy. “I’m the sixth in our
family to go to Hogwarts. You could say I’ve got a lot to live up to. Bill and Charlie
have already left – Bill was head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy’s
a prefect . Fred and George mess around a lot , but they st ill get really good marks and
everyone thinks they’re really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others,
but if I do, it ‘s no big deal, because they did it first . You never get anything new,
either, with five brothers. I’ve got Bill’s old robes, Charlie’s old wand, and Percy’s old
rat”
Ron reached inside his j acket and pulled out a fat gray rat , which was asleep.
“His name’s Scabbers and he’s useless, he hardly ever wakes up. Percy got an owl f rom
my dad for being made a prefect , but they couldn’t aff – I mean, I got Scabbers
instead.”
Ron’s ears went pink. He seemed to think he’d said too much, because he went
back to staring out of the window. Harry didn’t think there was anything wrong with
not being able to afford an owl. After all, he’d never had any money in his life unt il a
month ago, and he told Ron so, all about having to wear Dudley’s old clothes and never
getting proper birthday presents. This seemed to cheer Ron up.
“… and unt il Hagrid told me, I didn’t know anything about being a wizard or
about my parents or Voldemort”
Ron gasped.
“What?” said Harry.
“You said You-Know-Who’s name!” said Ron, sounding both shocked and
impressed. “I’d have thought you, of all people -”
“I’m not t rying to be brave or anything, saying the name,” said Harry, “ I j ust
never knew you shouldn’t. See what I mean? I’ve got loads to learn…. I bet,” he added,
voicing for the first t ime something that had been worrying him a lot lately, “I bet I’m
the worst in the class.”
“You won’t be. There’s loads of people who come from Muggle families and they
learn quick enough.”
While they had been talking, the t rain had carried them out of London. Now
they were speeding past fields full of cows and sheep. They were quiet for a t ime,
watching the fields and lanes f lick past . Around half past twelve there was a great
clat tering outside in the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door
and said,
“Anything off the cart, dears?”
Harry, who hadn’t had any breakfast, leapt to his feet, but Ron’s ears went pink
again and he muttered that he’d brought sandwiches. Harry went out into the corridor.
He had never had any money for candy with the Dursleys, and now that he had pockets
rat t ling with gold and silver he was ready to buy as many Mars Bars as he could carry –
but the woman didn’t have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bet t ie Bot t ‘s Every
Flavor Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs. Pumpkin Past ies, Cauldron
Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other st range things Harry had never seen in
his life. Not want ing to miss anything, he got some of everything and paid the woman
eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts.
Ron stared as Harry brought it all back in to the compartment and t ipped it
onto an empty seat.
“Hungry, are you?”
“Starving,” said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.
Ron had taken out a lumpy package and unwrapped it . There were four
sandwiches inside. He pulled one of them apart and said, “She always forgets I don’t
like corned beef.”
“Swap you for one of these,” said Harry, holding up a pasty. “Go on -”
“You don’t want this, it ‘s all dry,” said Ron. “She hasn’t got much t ime,” he
added quickly, “you know, with five of us.”
“Go on, have a pasty,” said Harry, who had never had anything to share before
or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sit t ing there with Ron,
eat ing their way through all Harry’s past ies, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay
forgotten).
“What are these?” Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of Chocolate Frogs.
“They’re not really frogs, are they?” He was start ing to feel that nothing would surprise
him.
“No,” said Ron. “But see what the card is. I’m missing Agrippa.”
“What?”
“Oh, of course, you wouldn’t know – Chocolate Frogs have cards, inside them,
you know, to collect – famous witches and wizards. I’ve got about five hundred, but I
haven’t got Agrippa or Ptolemy.”
Harry unwrapped his Chocolate Frog and picked up the card. It showed a man’s
face. He wore half- moon glasses, had a long, crooked nose, and flowing silver hair,
beard, and mustache. Underneath the picture was the name Albus Dumbledore.
“So this is Dumbledore!” said Harry.
“Don’t tell me you’d never heard of Dumbledore!” said Ron. “Can I have a frog? I
might get Agrippa – thanks Harry turned over his card and read:
ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
CURRENTLY HEADMASTER OF HOGWARTS
Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern t imes, Dumbledore
is part icularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in
1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his
work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. Professor
Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and tenpin bowling.
Harry turned the card back over and saw, to his astonishment , that
Dumbledore’s face had disappeared.
“He’s gone!”
“Well, you can’t expect him to hang around all day,” said Ron. “He’ll be back.
No, I’ve got Morgana again and I’ve got about six of her… do you want it? You can start
collecting.” Ron’s eyes strayed to the pile of Chocolate Frogs waiting to be unwrapped.
“Help yourself ,” said Harry. “But in, you know, the Muggle world, people j ust
stay put in photos.”
“Do they? What, they don’t move at all?” Ron sounded amazed. “weird!”
Harry stared as Dumbledore sidled back into the picture on his card and gave
him a small smile. Ron was more interested in eat ing the frogs than looking at the
FamousWitches and Wizards cards, but Harry couldn’t keep his eyes of f them. Soon he
had not only Dumbledore and Morgana, but Hengist of Woodcroft , Alberic Grunnion,
Circe, Paracelsus, and Merlin.
He finally tore his eyes away from the druidess Cliodna, who was scratching her
nose, to open a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.
“You want to be careful with those, ” Ron warned Harry. “When they say every
flavor, they mean every flavor –you know, you get all the ordinary ones like chocolate
and peppermint and marmalade, but then you can get spinach and liver and t ripe.
George reckons he had a booger-flavored one once.”
Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bit into a corner.
“Bleaaargh – see?Sprouts.” They had a good t ime eat ing the Every Flavor Beans. Harry
got toast , coconut , baked bean, st rawberry, curry, grass, coffee, sardine, and was
even brave enough to nibble the end off a funny gray one Ron wouldn’t touch, which
turned out to be pepper.
The count ryside now f lying past the window was becoming wilder. The neat
fields had gone. Now there were woods, twist ing rivers, and dark green hills. There
was a knock on the door of their compartment and the round-faced boy Harry had
passed on platform nine and three-quarters came in. He looked tearful.
“Sorry,” he said, “but have you seen a toad at all?”
When they shook their heads, he wailed, “I’ve lost him! He keeps get t ing away
from me!”
“He’ll turn up,” said Harry.
“Yes,” said the boy miserably. “Well, if you see him…” He left.
“Don’t know why he’s so bothered,” said Ron. “If I’d brought a toad I’d lose it as
quick as I could. Mind you, I brought Scabbers, so I can’t talk.”
The rat was st ill snoozing on Ron’s lap. “He might have died and you wouldn’t
know the difference,” said Ron in disgust. “I tried to turn him yellow yesterday to make
him more interest ing, but the spell didn’t work. I’ll show you, look…” He rummaged
around in his t runk and pulled out a very bat tered-looking wand. It was chipped in
places and something white was glinting at the end.
“Unicorn hair’s nearly poking out. Anyway He had just raised his ‘wand when the
compartment door slid open again. The toadless boy was back, but this t ime he had a
girl with him. She was already wearing her new Hogwarts robes.
“Has anyone seen a toad? Neville’s lost one,” she said. She had a bossy sort of
voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.
“We’ve already told him we haven’t seen it ,” said Ron, but the girl wasn’t
listening, she was looking at the wand in his hand.
“Oh, are you doing magic? Let’s see it, then.”
She sat down. Ron looked taken aback.
“Er – all right.”
He cleared his throat.
“Sunshine, daisies, but ter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.” He waved
his wand, but nothing happened. Scabbers stayed gray and fast asleep.
“Are you sure that ‘s a real spell?” said the girl. “Well, it ‘s not very good, is it?
I’ve t ried a few simple spells j ust for pract ice and it ‘s all worked for me. Nobody in my
family’s magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so
pleased, of course, I mean, it ‘s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard –
I’ve learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough – I’m
Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?” She said all this very fast.
Harry looked at Ron, and was relieved to see by his stunned face that he hadn’t
learned all the course books by heart either.
“I’m Ron Weasley,” Ron muttered.
“Harry Potter,” said Harry.
“Are you really?” said Hermione. “I know all about you, of course – I got a few
ext ra books. for background reading, and you’re in Modern Magical History and The
Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century.”
“Am I?” said Harry, feeling dazed.
“Goodness, didn’t you know, I’d have found out everything I could if it was me,”
said Hermione. “Do either of you know what house you’ll be in? I’ve been asking
around, and I hope I’m in Gryff indor, it sounds by far the best ; I hear Dumbledore
himself was in it, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad…. Anyway, we’d better
go and look for Neville’s toad. You two had bet ter change, you know, I expect we’ll be
there soon.”
And she left , taking the toadless boy with her. “Whatever house I’m in, I hope
she’s not in it ,” said Ron. He threw his wand back into his t runk. “Stupid spell –George
gave it to me, bet he knew it was a dud.”
“What house are your brothers in?” asked Harry.
“Gryff indor,” said Ron. Gloom seemed to be set t ling on him again. “Mom and
Dad were in it , too. I don’t know what they’ll say if I’m not . I don’t suppose Ravenclaw
would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin.”
“That’s the house Vol-, I mean, You-Know-Who was in?”
“Yeah,” said Ron. He flopped back into his seat, looking depressed.
“You know, I think the ends of Scabbers’ whiskers are a bit lighter,” said Harry,
t rying to take Ron’s mind off houses. “So what do your oldest brothers do now that
they’ve left, anyway?”
Harry was wondering what a wizard did once he’d finished school.
“Charlie’s in Romania studying dragons, and Bill’s in Af rica doing something for
Gringot ts,” said Ron. “Did you hear about Gringot ts? It ‘s been all over the Daily
Prophet , but I don’t suppose you get that with the Muggles – someone t ried to rob a
high security vault.”
Harry stared.
“Really? What happened to them?”
“Nothing, that ‘s why it ‘s such big news. They haven’t been caught . My dad says
it must ‘ve been a powerful Dark wizard to get round Gringot ts, but they don’t think
they took anything, that ‘s what ‘s odd. ‘Course, everyone gets scared when something
like this happens in case.You-Know-Who’s behind it.”
Harry turned this news over in his mind. He was start ing to get a prickle of fear
every t ime You- Know-Who was ment ioned. He supposed this was all part of entering
the magical world, but it had been a lot more comfortable saying “Voldemort ” without
worrying.
“What’s your Quidditch team?” Ron asked.
“Er – I don’t know any,” Harry confessed.
“What !” Ron looked dumbfounded. “Oh, you wait , it ‘s the best game in the
world -” And he was off, explaining all about the four balls and the posit ions of the
seven players, describing famous games he’d been to with his brothers and the
broomst ick he’d like to get if he had the money. He was j ust taking Harry through the
finer points of the game when the compartment door slid open yet again, but it wasn’t
Neville the toadless boy, or Hermione Granger this time.
Three boys entered, and Harry recognized the middle one at once: it was the
pale boy from Madam Malkin’s robe shop. He was looking at Harry with a lot more
interest than he’d shown back in Diagon Alley.
“Is it t rue?” he said. “They’re saying all down the t rain that Harry Pot ter’s in this
compartment. So it’s you, is it?”
“Yes,” said Harry. He was looking at the other boys. Both of them were thickset
and looked ext remely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, they looked like
bodyguards.
“Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle,” said the pale boy car lessly, noticing where Harry
was looking. “And my name’s Malfoy, Draco Malfoy.”
Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigget . Draco Malfoy
looked at him.
“Think my name’s funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me
all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford.”
He turned back to Harry. “You’ll soon find out some wizarding families are much
bet ter than others, Pot ter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort . I
can help you there.” He held out his hand to shake Harry’s, but Harry didn’t take it.
“I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks,” he said coolly.
Draco Malfoy didn’t go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his pale cheeks.
“I’d be careful if I were you, Pot ter,” he said slowly. “Unless you’re a bit politer
you’ll go the same way as your parents. They didn’t know what was good for them,
either. You hang around with riff raff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it ‘ll rub
off on you.”
Both Harry and Ron stood up. “Say that again,” Ron said, his face as red as his
hair.
“Oh, you’re going to fight us, are you?” Malfoy sneered.
“Unless you get out now,” said Harry, more bravely than he felt , because
Crabbe and Goyle were a lot bigger than him or Ron.
“But we don’t feel like leaving, do we, boys?We’ve eaten all our food and you
still seem to have some.”
Goyle reached toward the Chocolate Frogs next to Ron – Ron leapt forward, but
before he’d so much as touched Goyle, Goyle let out a horrible yell. Scabbers the rat
was hanging off his finger, sharp lit t le teeth sunk deep into Goyle’s knuckle – Crabbe
and Malfoy backed away as Goyle swung Scabbers round and round, howling, and when
Scabbets finally f lew off and hit the window, all three of them disappeared at once.
Perhaps they thought there were more rats lurking among the sweets, or perhaps
they’d heard footsteps, because a second later, Hermione Granger had come in.
“What has been going on?” she said, looking at the sweets all over the f loor and
Ron picking up Scabbers by his tail. I think he’s been knocked out ,” Ron said to Harry.
He looked closer at Scabbers. “No –I don’t believe it –he’ s gone back to sleep-” And so
he had.
“You’ve met Malfoy before?”
Harry explained about their meeting in Diagon Alley.
“I’ve heard of his family,” said Ron darkly. “They were some of the first to come
back to our side after You-Know-Who disappeared. Said they’d been bewit ched. My
dad doesn’t believe it . He says Malfoy’s father didn’t need an excuse to go over to the
Dark Side.” He turned to Hermione. “Can we help you with something?”
“You’d bet ter hurry up and put your robes on, I’ve j ust been up to the front to
ask the conductor, and he says we’re nearly there. You haven’t been fight ing, have
you? You’ll be in trouble before we even get there!”
“Scabbers has been fight ing, not us,” said Ron, scowling at her. “Would you
mind leaving while we change?”
“All right – I only came in here because people outside are behaving very
childishly, racing up and down the corridors,” said Hermione in a sniffy voice. “And
you’ve got dirt on your nose, by the way, did you know?”
Ron glared at her as she left . Harry peered out of the window. It was get t ing
dark. He could see mountains and forests under a deep purple sky. The t rain did seem
to be slowing down. He and Ron took off their j ackets and pulled on their long black
robes. Ron’s were a bit short for him, you could see his sneakers underneath them.
A voice echoed through the t rain: “We will be reaching Hogwart s in five
minutes’ t ime. Please leave your luggage on the t rain, it will be taken to the school
separately.”
Harry’s stomach lurched with nerves and Ron, he saw, looked pale under his
freckles. They crammed their pockets with the last of the sweets and joined the crowd
thronging the corridor. The train slowed right down and finally stopped. People pushed
their way toward the door and out on to a t iny, dark plat form. Harry shivered in the
cold night air. Then a lamp came bobbing over the heads of the students, and Harry
heard a familiar voice:
“Firs’ years! Firs’ years over here! All right there, Harry?” Hagrid’s big hairy face
beamed over the sea of heads. “C’mon, follow me – any more firs’ years? Mind yer step,
now! Firs’ years follow me!”
Slipping and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep,
narrow path. It was so dark on either side of them that Harry thought there must be
thick t rees there. Nobody spoke much. Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad,
sniffed once or twice.
“Ye’ all get yer f irs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec,” Hagrid called over his shoulder,
“jus’ round this bend here.”
There was a loud “Oooooh!”
The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black take.
Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry
sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
“No more’n four to a boat !” Hagrid called, point ing to a fleet of lit t le boats
sit t ing in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by
Neville and Hermione. “Everyone in?” shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself .
“Right then – FORWARD!”
And the f leet of lit t le boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake,
which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent , staring up at the great cast le
overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which
it stood.
“Heads down!” yelled Hagrid as the f irst boats reached the cliff; they all bent
their heads and the lit t le boats carried them through a curtain of ivy that hid a wide
opening in the cliff face. They were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be
taking them right underneath the cast le, unt il they reached a kind of underground
harbor, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles.
“Oy, you there! Is this your toad?” said Hagrid, who was checking the boats as
people climbed out of them.
“ Trevor!” cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Then they clambered
up a passageway in the rock after Hagrid’s lamp, coming out at last onto smooth, damp
grass right in the shadow of the cast le. They walked up a flight of stone steps and
crowded around the huge, Oak front door.
“Everyone here?You there, st ill got yer toad?” Hagrid raised a gigant ic fist and
knocked three times on the castle door.
CHAPTER SEVEN – THE SORTING HAT
The door swung open at once. A tall, black-haired witch in emerald-green
robes stood there. She had a very stern face and Harry’s first thought was that this was
not someone to cross.
“The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” said Hagrid.
“Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here.” She pulled the door wide. The
ent rance hall was so big you could have fit the whole of the Dursleys’ house in it . The
stone walls were lit with flaming torches like the ones at Gringotts, the ceiling was too
high to make out , and a magnificent marble staircase facing them led to the upper
floors.
They followed Professor McGonagall across the flagged stone floor. Harry could
hear the drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right the rest of the school
must already be here – but Professor McGonagall showed the first years into a small,
empty chamber off the hall. They crowded in, standing rather closer together than
they would usually have done, peering about nervously.
“Welcome to Hogwarts,” said Professor McGonagall. “The start -of-term banquet
will begin short ly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted
into your houses. The Sort ing is a very important ceremony because, while you are
here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have
classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time
in your house common room.
“The four houses are called Gryf findor, Hufflepuff , Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.
Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding wit ches and
wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your t riumphs will earn your house points, while
any rule breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the
most points is awarded the house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you will be a
credit to whichever house becomes yours.
“The Sort ing Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of
the school. I suggest you all smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are
wait ing.” Her eyes lingered for a moment on Neville’s cloak, which was fastened under
his left ear, and on Ron’s smudged nose. Harry nervously tried to flatten his hair.
“I shall return when we are ready for you,” said Professor McGonagall. “Please
wait quietly.”
She left the chamber. Harry swallowed.
“How exactly do they sort us into houses?” he asked Ron.
“Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking.”
Harry’s heart gave a horrible j olt . A test? In front of the whole school? But he
didn’t know any magic yet – what on earth would he have to do? He hadn’t expected
something like this the moment they arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw that
everyone else looked terrified, too. No one was talking much except Hermione
Granger, who was whispering very fast about all the spells she’d learned and
wondering which one she’d need. Harry tried hard not to listen to her. He’d never been
more nervous, never, not even when he’d had to take a school report home to the
Dursleys saying that he’d somehow turned his teacher’s wig blue. He kept his eyes fixed
on the door. Any second now, Professor McGonagall would come back and lead him to
his doom.
Then something happened that made him j ump about a foot in the air –several
people behind him screamed. “What the -?”
He gasped. So did the people around him. About twenty ghosts had j ust
st reamed through the back wall. Pearly-white and slight ly t ransparent , they glided
across the room talking to one another and hardly glancing at the first years. They
seemed to be arguing. What looked like a fat lit t le monk was saying: “Forgive and
forget, I say, we ought to give him a second chance -”
“My dear Friar, haven’t we given Peeves all the chances he deserves? He gives
us all a bad name and you know, he’s not really even a ghost – I say, what are you all
doing here?”
A ghost wearing a ruff and t ights had suddenly not iced the first years. Nobody
answered.
“New students!” said the Fat Friar, smiling around at them. “About to be Sorted,
I suppose?”
A few people nodded mutely.
“Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!” said the Friar. “My old house, you know.”
“Move along now,” said a sharp voice. “The Sorting Ceremony’s about to start.”
Professor McGonagall had returned. One by one, the ghosts floated away
through the opposite wall. “Now, form a line,” Professor McGonagall told the first
years, “and follow me.” Feeling oddly as though his legs had turned to lead, Harry got
into line behind a boy with sandy hair, with Ron behind him, and they walked out of
the chamber, back across the hall, and through a pair of double doors into the Great
Hall.
Harry had never even imagined such a st range and splendid place. It was lit by
thousands and thousands of candles that were float ing in midair over four long tables,
where the rest of the students were sit t ing. These tables were laid with glit tering
golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the
teachers were sit t ing. Professor McGonagall led the first years up here, so that they
came to a halt in a line facing the other students, with the teachers behind them. The
hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the f lickering
candlelight . Dot ted here and there among the students, the ghosts shone misty silver.
Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black
ceiling dot ted with stars. He heard Hermione whisper, “Its bewitched to look like the
sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History.”
It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall
didn’t simply open on to the heavens. Harry quickly looked down again as Professor
McGonagall silent ly placed a four-legged stool in front of the first years. On top of the
stool she put a pointed wizard’s hat . This hat was patched and frayed and ext remely
dirty. Aunt Petunia wouldn’t have let it in the house. Maybe they had to t ry and get a
rabbit out of it , Harry thought wildly, that seemed the sort of thing – not icing that
everyone in the hall was now staring at the hat , he stared at it , too. For a few
seconds, there was complete silence. Then the hat twitched. A rip near the brim
opened wide like a mouth – and the hat began to sing:
“Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There’s nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can’t see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true, and unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
to achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don’t be afraid!
And don’t get in a flap!
You’re in safe hands (though I have none)
For I’m a Thinking Cap!”
The whole hall burst into applause as the hat finished it s song. It bowed to
each of the four tables and then became quite still again.
“So we’ve j ust got to t ry on the hat !” Ron whispered to Harry. “I’ll kill Fred, he
was going on about wrestling a troll.”
Harry smiled weakly. Yes, trying on the hat was a lot better than having to do a
spell, but he did wish they could have t ried it on without everyone watching. The hat
seemed to be asking rather a lot; Harry didn’t feel brave or quick-witted or any of it at
the moment . If only the hat had ment ioned a house for people who felt a bit queasy,
that would have been the one for him. Professor McGonagall now stepped forward
holding a long roll of parchment.
“When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be
sorted,” she said. “Abbott, Hannah!”
A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat ,
which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moment pause –
“HUFFLEPUFF!” shouted the hat.
The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the
Hufflepuff table. Harry saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her.
“Bones, Susan!”
“HUFFLEPUFF!” shouted the hat again, and Susan scut t led off to sit next to
Hannah.
“Boot, Terry!”
“RAVENCLAW!”
The table second from the left clapped this t ime; several Ravenclaws stood up
to shake hands with Terry as he joined them.
“Brocklehurst , Mandy” went to Ravenclaw too, but “Brown, Lavender” became
the f irst new Gryf findor, and the table on the far left exploded with cheers; Harry
could see Ron’s twin brothers catcalling.
“Bulst rode, Millicent ” then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harry’s
imaginat ion, after all he’d heard about Slytherin, but he thought they looked like an
unpleasant lot . He was start ing to feel definitely sick now. He remembered being
picked for teams during gym at his old school. He had always been last to be chosen,
not because he was no good, but because no one wanted Dudley to think they liked
him.
“Finch-Fletchley, Justin!”
“HUFFLEPUFF!”
Somet imes, Harry not iced, the hat shouted out the house at once, but at
others it took a lit t le while to decide. “Finnigan, Seamus,” the sandy-haired boy next
to Harry in the line, sat on the stool for almost a whole minute before the hat
declared him a Gryffindor.
“Granger, Hermione!”
Hermione almost ran to the stool and j ammed the hat eagerly on her head.
“GRYFFINDOR!” shouted the hat . Ron groaned. A horrible thought st ruck Harry, as
horrible thoughts always do when you’re very nervous. What if he wasn’t chosen at all?
What if he j ust sat there with the hat over his eyes for ages, unt il Professor
McGonagall jerked it off his head and said there had obviously been a mistake and he’d
better get back on the train?
When Neville Longbot tom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called, he fell
over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long t ime to decide with Neville. When it
finally shouted, “GRYFFINDOR,” Neville ran off st ill wearing it , and had to j og back
amid gales of laughter to give it to “MacDougal, Morag.”
Malfoy swaggered forward when his name was called and got his wish at once:
the hat had barely touched his head when it screamed, “SLYTHERIN!” Malfoy went to
join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking pleased with himself.
There weren’t many people left now. “Moon” “Not t ” “Parkinson” then a pair of
twin girls, “Patil” and “Patil” then “Perks, Sally-Anne” and then, at last – “Potter, Harry!”
As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like lit t le hissing fires
all over the hall. “Potter, did she say?” “The Harry Potter?”
The last thing Harry saw before the hat dropped over his eyes was the hall full
of people craning to get a good look at him. Next second he was looking at the black
inside of the hat . He waited. Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “Difficult . Very
difficult . Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There’s talent , A my
goodness, yes – and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that ‘s interest ing…. So where
shall I put you?”
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought , “ Not Slytherin, not
Slytherin.”
“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure?You could be great , you
know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no
doubt about that – no? Well, if you’re sure – better be GRYFFINDOR!”
Harry heard the hat shout the last word to the whole hall. He took of f the hat
and walked shakily toward the Gryff indor table. He was so relieved to have been
chosen and not put in Slytherin, he hardly not iced that he was get t ing the loudest
cheer yet . Percy the Prefect got up and.shook his hand vigorously while the Weasley
twins yelled, “We got Pot ter! We got Pot ter!” Harry sat down opposite the ghost in the
ruff he’d seen earlier. The ghost pat ted his arm, giving Harry the sudden, horrible
feeling he’d just plunged it into a bucket of ice-cold water.
He could see the High Table properly now. At the end nearest him sat Hagrid,
who caught his eye and gave him the thumbs up. Harry grinned back. And there, in the
center of the High Table, in a large gold chair, sat Albus Dumbledore. Harry
recognized him at once from the card he’d got ten out of the Chocolate Frog on the
t rain. Dumbledore’s silver hair was the only thing in the whole hall that shone as
bright ly as the ghosts. Harry spot ted Professor Quirtell, too, the nervous young man
from the Leaky Cauldron. He was looking very peculiar in a large purple turban.
And now there were only three people left to be sorted. “Thomas, Dean,” a
Black boy even taller than Ron, j oined Harry at the Gryffindor table. “Turpin, Lisa,”
became a Ravenclaw and then it was Ron’s turn. He was pale green by now. Harry
crossed his fingers under the table and a second later the hat had shouted,
“GRYFFINDOR!”
Harry clapped loudly with the rest as Ron collapsed into the chair next to him.
“Well done, Ron, excellent ,” said Percy Weasley Pompously across Harry as
“Zabini, Blaise,” was made a Slytherin.
Professor McGonagall rolled p her scroll and took the Sort ing Hat away. Harry
looked down at his empty gold plate. He had only j ust realized how hungry he was.
The pumpkin past ies seemed ages ago. Albus Dumbledore had got ten to his feet . He
was beaming at the students, his arms opened wide, as if nothing could have pleased
him more than to see them all there.
“Welcome,” he said. “Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! Before we begin our
banquet , I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit ! Blubber!
Oddment! Tweak!
“Thank you!”
He sat back down. Everybody clapped and cheered. Harry didn’t know whether
to laugh or not. “Is he – a bit mad?” he asked Percy uncertainly.
“Mad?” said Percy airily. “He’s a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit
mad, yes. Potatoes, Harry?”
Harry’s mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food.
He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast
chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast
potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some
strange reason, peppermint humbugs.
The Dursleys had never exact ly starved Harry, but he’d never been allowed to
eat as much as he liked. Dudley had always taken anything that Harry really wanted,
even if it made him sick. Harry piled his plate with a bit of everything except the
peppermints and began to eat. It was all delicious.
“That does look good,” said the ghost in the ruff sadly, watching Harry cut up
his steak,
“Can’t you -?”
I haven’t eaten for nearly four hundred years,” said the ghost . “I don’t need to,
of course, but one does miss it . I don’t think I’ve int roduced myself? Sir Nicholas de
Mimsy-Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower.”
“I know who you are!” said Ron suddenly. “My brothers told me about you –
you’re Nearly Headless Nick!”
“I would prefer you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy -” the ghost began st iffly,
but sandy-haired Seamus Finnigan interrupted.
“Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?”
Sir Nicholas looked ext remely miffed, as if their lit t le chat wasn’t going at all
the way he wanted. “Like this,” he said irritably. He seized his left ear and pulled. His
whole head swung off his neck and fell onto his shoulder as if it was on a hinge.
Someone had obviously t ried to behead him, but not done it properly. Looking pleased
at the stunned looks on their faces, Nearly Headless Nick flipped his head back onto
his neck, coughed, and said,
“So – new Gryff indors! I hope you’re going to help us win the house
championship this year? Gryffindors have never gone so long without winning.
Slytherins have got the cup six years in a row! The Bloody Baron’s becoming almost
unbearable – he’s the Slytherin ghost.”
Harry looked over at the Slytherin table and saw a horrible ghost sit t ing there,
with blank staring eyes, a gaunt face, and robes stained with silver blood. He was right
next to Malfoy who, Harry was pleased to see, didn’t look too pleased with the seat ing
arrangements.
“How did he get covered in blood?” asked Seamus with great interest.
“I’ve never asked,” said Nearly Headless Nick delicately.
When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food
faded from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the
desserts appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every f lavor you could think of, apple pies,
t reacle tarts, chocolate éclairs and j am doughnuts, t rifle, st rawberries, Jell-O, rice
pudding.
As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to their families.
“I’m half-and-half,” said Seamus. “My dad’s a Muggle. Mom didn’t tell him she
was a witch ’til after they were married. Bit of a nasty shock for him.”
The others laughed.
“What about you, Neville?” said Ron.
“Well, my gran brought me up and she’s a witch,” said Neville, “but the family
thought I was all-Muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept t rying to catch me off my
guard and force some magic out of me – he pushed me off the end of Blackpool pier
once, I nearly drowned – but nothing happened unt il I was eight . Great Uncle Algie
came round for dinner, and he was hanging me out of an upstairs window by the
ankles when my Great Aunt ie Enid offered him a meringue and he accidentally let go.
But I bounced – all the way down the garden and into the road. They were all really
pleased, Gran was crying, she was so happy. And you should have seen their faces
when I got in here – they thought I might not be magic enough to come, you see. Great
Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad.”
On Harry’s other side, Percy Weasley and Hermione were talking about lessons
(“I do hope they start right away, there’s so much to learn, I’m part icularly interested
in Transfigurat ion, you know, turning something into something else, of course, it ‘s
supposed to be very difficult -“; “You’ll be starting small, just matches into needles and
that sort of thing – “).
Harry, who was start ing to feel warm and sleepy, looked up at the High Table
again. Hagrid was drinking deeply from his goblet . Professor McGonagall was talking to
Professor Dumbledore. Professor Quirrell, in his absurd turban, was talking to a
teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin. It happened very
suddenly. The hook-nosed teacher looked past Quirrell’s turban st raight into Harry’s
eyes – and a sharp, hot pain shot across the scar on Harry’s forehead.
“Ouch!” Harry clapped a hand to his head.
“What is it?” asked Percy.
“N-nothing.”
The pain had gone as quickly as it had come. Harder to shake off was the
feeling Harry had gotten from the teacher’s looks – a feeling that he didn’t like Harry at
all.
“Who’s that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?” he asked Percy. “Oh, you
know Quirrell already, do you? No wonder he’s looking so nervous, that ‘s Professor
Snape. He teaches Pot ions, but he doesn’t want to – everyone knows he’s after
Quirrell’s job. Knows an awful lot about the Dark Arts, Snape.”
Harry watched Snape for a while, but Snape didn’t look at him again.
At last , the desserts too disappeared, and Professor Dumbledore got to his feet
again. The hall fell silent . “Ahern – j ust a few more words now that we are all fed and
watered. I have a few start -of-term not ices to give you. “First years should note that
the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students
would do well to remember that as well.”
Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes flashed in the direct ion of the Weasley twins.
“I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, the caretaker, to remind you all that no
magic should be used between classes in the corridors.
“Quiddit ch t rials will be held in the second week of the term. Anyone
interested in playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch.
“And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-f loor corridor on the right –
hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.”
Harry laughed, but he was one of the few who did.
“He’s not serious?” he muttered to Percy.
“Must be,” said Percy, f rowning at Dumbledore. “It ‘s odd, because he usually
gives us a reason why we’re not allowed to go somewhere – the forest ‘s full of
dangerous beasts, everyone knows that . I do think he might have told us prefects, at
least.”
“And now, before we go to bed, let us sing the school song!” cried Dumbledore.
Harry not iced that the other teachers’ smiles had become rather f ixed.
Dumbledore gave his wand a lit t le flick, as if he was t rying to get a fly off the end,
and a long golden ribbon flew out of it , which rose high above the tables and twisted
itself, snakelike, into words. “Everyone pick their favorite tune,” said Dumbledore,
“and off we go!”
And the school bellowed:
“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff, for now they’re bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we’ve forgot,
Just do your best, we’ll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.
Everybody f inished the song at different t imes. At last , only the Weasley twins
were left singing along to a very slow funeral march. Dumbledore conducted their last
few lines with his wand and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped
loudest.
“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here! And now,
bedtime. Off you trot!”
The Gryffindor first years followed Percy through the chat tering crowds, out of
the Great Hall, and up the marble staircase. Harry’s legs were like lead again, but only
because he was so t ired and full of food. He was too sleepy even to be surprised that
the people in the port raits along the corridors whispered and pointed as they passed,
or that twice Percy led them through doorways hidden behind sliding panels and
hanging tapest ries. They climbed more staircases, yawning and dragging their feet ,
and Harry was j ust wondering how much farther they had to go when they came to a
sudden halt.
A bundle of walking st icks were f loat ing in midair ahead of them, and as Percy
took a step toward them they started throwing themselves at him. “Peeves,” Percy
whispered to the first years. “A poltergeist .” He raised his voice, “Peeves – show
yourself”
A loud, rude sound, like the air being let out of a balloon, answered.
“Do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?”
There was a pop, and a lit t le man with wicked, dark eyes and a wide mouth
appeared, floating cross- legged in the air, clutching the walking sticks.
“Oooooooh!” he said, with an evil cackle. “Ickle Firsties! What fun!” He swooped
suddenly at them. They all ducked.
“Go away, Peeves, or the Baron’ll hear about this, I mean it!” barked Percy.
Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished, dropping the walking st icks on
Neville’s head. They heard him zooming away, rattling coats of armor as he passed.
“You want to watch out for Peeves,” said Percy, as they set off again. “The
Bloody Baron’s the only one who can cont rol him, he won’t even listen to us prefects.
Here we are.”
At the very end of the corridor hung a port rait of a very fat woman in a pink
silk dress.
“Password?” she said. “Caput Draconis,” said Percy, and the port rait swung forward to
reveal a round hole in the wall. They all scrambled through it – Neville needed a leg up
– and found themselves in the Gryffindor common room, a cozy, round room full of
squashy armchairs.
Percy directed the girls through one door to their dormitory and the boys
through another. At the top of a spiral staircase – they were obviously in one of the
towers – they found their beds at last : five four-posters hung with deep red, velvet
curtains. Their t runks had already been brought up. Too t ired to talk much, they
pulled on their pajamas and fell into bed.
“Great food, isn’t it?” Ron muttered to Harry through the hangings.
“Get off, Scabbers! He’s chewing my sheets.”
Harry was going to ask Ron if he’d had any of the treacle tart, but he fell asleep
almost at once. Perhaps Harry had eaten a bit too much, because he had a very
st range dream. He was wearing Professor Quirrell’s turban, which kept talking to him,
telling him he must transfer to Slytherin at once, because it was his destiny. Harry told
the turban he didn’t want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier and heavier; he tried to pull
it off but it tightened painfully – and there was Malfoy, laughing at him as he struggled
with it – then Malfoy turned into the hook-nosed teacher, Snape, whose laugh became
high and cold – there was a burst of green light and Harry woke, sweating and shaking.
He rolled over and fell asleep again, and when he woke next day, he didn’t
remember the dream at all.
CHAPTER EIGHT – THE POTIONS MASTER
“There, look.”
“Where?”
“Next to the tall kid with the red hair.”
“Wearing the glasses?”
“Did you see his face?”
“Did you see his scar?”
Whispers followed Harry from the moment he left his dormitory the next day.
People lining up outside classrooms stood on t iptoe to get a look at him, or doubled
back to pass him in the corridors again, staring. Harry wished they wouldn’t , because
he was trying to concentrate on finding his way to classes.
There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping
ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with
a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors
that wouldn’t open unless you asked politely, or t ickled them in exact ly the right
place, and doors that weren’t really doors at all, but solid walls j ust pretending. It was
also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move
around a lot . The people in the port raits kept going to visit each other, and Harry was
sure the coats of armor could walk. The ghosts didn’t help, either. It was always a
nasty shock when one of them glided suddenly through a door you were trying to open.
Nearly Headless Nick was always happy to point new Gryffindors in the right direct ion,
but Peeves the Poltergeist was worth two locked doors and a t rick staircase if you met
him when you were late for class. He would drop wastepaper baskets on your head,
pull rugs from under your feet , pelt you with bits of chalk, or sneak up behind you,
invisible, grab your nose, and screech, “GOT YOUR CONK!” Even worse than Peeves, if
that was possible, was the caretaker, Argus Filch. Harry and Ron managed to get on
the wrong side of him on their very first morning. Filch found them t rying to force
their way through a door that unluckily turned out to be the ent rance to the out -ofbounds
corridor on the third floor. He wouldn’t believe they were lost , was sure they
were t rying to break into it on purpose, and was threatening to lock them in the
dungeons when they were rescued by Professor Quirrell, who was passing.
Filch owned a cat called Mrs. Norris, a scrawny, dust -colored creature with
bulging, lamp like eyes j ust like Filch’s. She pat rolled the corridors alone. Break a rule
in f ront of her, put j ust one toe out of line, and she’d whisk off for Filch, who’d
appear, wheezing, two seconds later. Filch knew the secret passageways of the school
bet ter than anyone (except perhaps the Weasley twins) and could pop up as suddenly
as any of the ghosts. The students all hated him, and it was the dearest ambit ion of
many to give Mrs. Norris a good kick.
And then, once you had managed to find them, there were the classes
themselves. There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out , than waving
your wand and saying a few funny words. They had to study the night skies through
their telescopes every Wednesday at midnight and learn the names of different stars
and the movements of the planets. Three t imes a week they went out to the
greenhouses behind the cast le to study Herbology, with a dumpy lit t le witch called
Professor Sprout , where they learned how to take care of all the st range plants and
fungi, and found out what they were used for.
Easily the most boring class was History of Magic, which was the only one
taught by a ghost . Professor Binns had been very old indeed when he had fallen asleep
in front of the staff room fire and got .up next morning to teach, leaving his body
behind him. Binns droned on and on while they scribbled down names and dates, and
got Emet ic the Evil and Uric the Oddball mixed up. Professor Flitwick, the Charms
teacher, was a t iny lit t le wizard who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his
desk. At the start of their first class he took the roll call, and when he reached Harry’s
name he gave an excited squeak and toppled out of sight.
Professor McGonagall was again dif ferent . Harry had been quite right to think
she wasn’t a teacher to cross. St rict and clever, she gave them a talking-to the
moment they sat down in her first class. “Transfigurat ion is some of the most complex
and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts,” she said. “Anyone messing around in
my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned.”
Then she changed her desk into a pig and back again. They were all very
impressed and couldn’t wait to get started, but soon realized they weren’t going to be
changing the furniture into animals for a long t ime. After taking a lot of complicated
notes, they were each given a match and started trying to turn it into a needle. By the
end of the lesson, only Hermione Granger had made any difference to her match;
Professor McGonagall showed the class how it had gone all silver and pointy and gave
Hermione a rare smile.
The class everyone had really been looking forward to was Defense Against the
Dark Arts, but Quirrell’s lessons turned out to be a bit of a j oke. His classroom smelled
st rongly of garlic, which everyone said was to ward of f a vampire he’d met in Romania
and was afraid would be coming back to get him one of these days. His turban, he told
them, had been given to him by an African prince as a thank-you for get t ing rid of a
t roublesome zombie, but they weren’t sure they believed this story. For one thing,
when Seamus Finnigan asked eagerly to hear how Quirrell had fought off the zombie,
Quirrell went pink and started talking about the weather; for another, they had
not iced that a funny smell hung around the turban, and the Weasley twins insisted
that it was stuffed full of garlic as well, so that Quirrell was protected wherever he
went.
Harry was very relieved to find out that he wasn’t miles behind everyone else.
Lots of people had come from Muggle families and, like him, hadn’t had any idea that
they were witches and wizards. There was so much to learn that even people like Ron
didn’t have much of a head start. Friday was an important day for Harry and Ron. They
finally managed to find their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast without get t ing
lost once.
“What have we got today?” Harry asked Ron as he poured sugar on his porridge.
“Double Pot ions with the Slytherins,” said Ron. “Snape’s Head of Slytherin
House. They say he always favors them – we’ll be able to see if it’s true.”
“Wish McGonagall favored us, ” said Harry. Professor McGonagall was head of
Gryf findor House, but it hadn’t stopped her from giving them a huge pile of homework
the day before. Just then, the mail arrived. Harry had got ten used to this by now, but
it had given him a bit of a shock on the first morning, when about a hundred owls had
suddenly st reamed into the Great Hall during breakfast , circling the tables unt il they
saw their owners, and dropping let ters and packages onto their laps. Hedwig hadn’t
brought Harry anything so far. She somet imes flew in to nibble his ear and have a bit
of toast before going off to sleep in the owlery with the other school owls. This
morning, however, she flut tered down between the marmalade and the sugar bowl
and dropped a note onto Harry’s plate. Harry tore it open at once. It said, in a very
untidy scrawl:
Dear Harry,
I know you get Friday af t ernoons of f , so would you like t o come and
have a cup of t ea wit h me around t hree? I want t o hear al l about your
first week. Send us an answer back with Hedwig.
Hagrid
Harry borrowed Ron’s quill, scribbled Yes, please, see you later on the back of
the note, and sent Hedwig off again. It was lucky that Harry had tea with Hagrid to
look forward to, because the Pot ions lesson turned out to be the worst thing that had
happened to him so far. At the start -of-term banquet , Harry had got ten the idea that
Professor Snape disliked him. By the end of the first Pot ions lesson, he knew he’d been
wrong. Snape didn’t dislike Harry – he hated him.
Pot ions lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was colder here
than up in the main cast le, and would have been quite creepy enough without the
pickled animals f loat ing in glass j ars all around the walls. Snape, like Flitwick, started
the class by taking the roll call, and like Flitwick, he paused at Harry’s name.
“Ah, Yes,” he said softly, “Harry Potter. Our new – celebrity.”
Draco Malfoy and his friends Crabbe and Goyle sniggered behind their hands.
Snape finished calling the names and looked up at the class. His eyes were black like
Hagrid’s, but they had none of Hagrid’s warmth. They were cold and empty and made
you think of dark tunnels.
“You are here to learn the subt le science and exact art of pot ion making,” he
began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but they caught every word – like
Professor McGonagall, Snape had caught every word – like Professor McGonagall, Snape
had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort . “As there is lit t le foolish wandwaving
here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will
really understand the beauty of the soft ly simmering cauldron with its shimmering
fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the
mind, ensnaring the senses…. I can teach you how to bot t le fame, brew glory, even
stopper death – if you aren’t as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.”
More silence followed this lit t le speech. Harry and Ron exchanged looks with
raised eyebrows. Hermione Granger was on the edge of her seat and looked desperate
to start proving that she wasn’t a dunderhead.
“Pot ter!” said Snape suddenly. “What would I get if I added powdered root of
asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”
Powdered root of what to an infusion of what? Harry glanced at Ron, who
looked as stumped as he was; Hermione’s hand had shot into the air.
“I don’t know, sir,” said Harry.
Snape’s lips curled into a sneer. “Tut , tut – fame clearly isn’t everything.” He
ignored Hermione’s hand.
“Let’s try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?”
Hermione st retched her hand as high into the air as it would go without her
leaving her seat , but Harry didn’t have the faintest idea what a bezoar was. He t ried
not to look at Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, who were shaking with laughter.
“I don’t know, sir.”
“Thought you wouldn’t open a book before coming, eh, Pot ter?” Harry forced
himself to keep looking st raight into those cold eyes. He had looked through his books
at the Dursleys’, but did Snape expect him to remember everything in One Thousand
Magical Herbs and Fungi?
Snape was st ill ignoring Hermione’s quivering hand. “What is the dif ference,
Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?”
At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching toward the dungeon ceiling.
“I don’t know,” said Harry quiet ly. “I think Hermione does, though, why don’t
you try her?”
A few people laughed; Harry caught Seamus’s eye, and Seamus winked. Snape,
however, was not pleased.
“Sit down,” he snapped at Hermione. “For your informat ion, Pot ter, asphodel
and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as.the Draught of Living
Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from
most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant , which also
goes by the name of aconite. Well? Why aren’t you all copying that down?”
There was a sudden rummaging for quills and parchment. Over the noise, Snape
said, “And a point will be taken from Gryffindor House for your cheek, Potter.”
Things didn’t improve for the Gryf findors as the Pot ions lesson cont inued.
Snape put them all into pairs and set them to mixing up a simple pot ion to cure boils.
He swept around in his long black cloak, watching them weigh dried net t les and crush
snake fangs, crit icizing almost everyone except Malfoy, whom he seemed to like. He
was j ust telling everyone to look at the perfect way Malfoy had stewed his horned
slugs when clouds of acid green smoke and a loud hissing filled the dungeon. Neville
had somehow managed to melt Seamus’s cauldron into a twisted blob, and their potion
was seeping across the stone floor, burning holes in people’s shoes. Within seconds,
the whole class was standing on their stools while Neville, who had been drenched in
the pot ion when the cauldron collapsed, moaned in pain as angry red boils sprang up
all over his arms and legs.
“Idiot boy!” snarled Snape, clearing the spilled pot ion away with one wave of
his wand. “I suppose you added the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the
fire?”
Neville whimpered as boils started to pop up all over his nose. “Take him up to
the hospital wing,” Snape spat at Seamus.
Then he rounded on Harry and Ron, who had been working next to Neville. “You
– Pot ter – why didn’t you tell him not to add the quills? Thought he’d make you look
good if he got it wrong, did you? That’s another point you’ve lost for Gryffindor.”
This was so unfair that Harry opened his mouth to argue, but Ron kicked him
behind their cauldron.
“Don’t push it,” he muttered, “I’ve heard Snape can turn very nasty.”
As they climbed the steps out of the dungeon an hour later, Harry’s mind was
racing and his spirits were low. He’d lost two points for Gryffindor in his very first
week – why did Snape hate him so much?
“Cheer up,” said Ron, “Snape’s always taking points off Fred and George. Can I
come and meet Hagrid with you?”
At five to three they left the cast le and made their way across the grounds.
Hagrid lived in a small wooden house on the edge of the forbidden forest . A crossbow
and a pair of galoshes were outside the front door.
When Harry knocked they heard a f rant ic scrabbling from inside and several
booming barks. Then Hagrid’s voice rang out, saying, “Back, Fang – back.”
Hagrid’s big, hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open. “Hang
on,” he said. “Back, Fang.”
He let them in, st ruggling to keep a hold on the collar of an enormous black
boarhound.
There was only one room inside. Hams and pheasants were hanging from the ceiling; a
copper ket t le was boiling on the open fire, and in the corner stood a massive bed with
a patchwork quilt over it.
“Make yerselves at home,” said Hagrid, letting go of Fang, who bounded straight
at Ron and started licking his ears. Like Hagrid, Fang was clearly not as fierce as he
looked.
“This is Ron,” Harry told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large
teapot and putting rock cakes onto a plate.
“Another Weasley, eh?” said Hagrid, glancing at Ron’s freckles. I spent half me
life chasin’ yer twin brothers away from the forest.”
The rock cakes were shapeless lumps with raisins that almost broke their teeth,
but Harry and Ron pretended to be enj oying them as they told Hagrid all about their
first -lessons. Fang rested his head on Harry’s knee and drooled all over his robes.
Harry and Ron were delighted to hear Hagrid call Fitch “that old git.”
“An’ as fer that cat , Mrs. Norris, I’d like ter int roduce her to Fang somet ime.
D’yeh know, every t ime I go up ter the school, she follows me everywhere? Can’t get
rid of her – Filch puts her up to it.”
Harry told Hagrid about Snape’s lesson. Hagrid, like Ron, told Harry not to
worry about it , that Snape liked hardly any of the students. “But he seemed to really
hate me.”
“Rubbish!” said Hagrid. “Why should he?”
Yet Harry couldn’t help thinking that Hagrid didn’t quite meet his eyes when he
said that.
“How’s yer brother Charlie?” Hagrid asked Ron. “I liked him a lot – great with
animals.” Harry wondered if Hagrid had changed the subj ect on purpose. While Ron
told Hagrid all about Charlie’s work with dragons, Harry picked up a piece of paper
that was lying on the table under the tea cozy. It was a cut t ing from the Daily
Prophet:
GRINGOTTS BREAK-IN LATEST
Investigations cont inue into the break-in at Gringot ts on 31 July,
widely believed to be the work of Dark wizards or witches
unknown..Gringot ts goblins today insisted that nothing had been taken.
The vault that was searched had in fact been emptied the same day.
“But we’re not telling you what was in there, so keep your noses out if you
know what’s good for you,” said a Gringotts spokesgoblin this afternoon.
Harry remembered Ron telling him on the t rain that someone had t ried to rob
Gringotts, but Ron hadn’t mentioned the date.
“Hagrid!” said Harry, “that Gringot ts break-in happened on my birthday! It
might’ve been happening while we were there!”
There was no doubt about it , Hagrid definitely didn’t meet Harry’s eyes this
time. He grunted and offered him another rock cake. Harry read the story again.
The vaul t t hat was searched had in fact been empt ied earl ier t hat same day.
Hagrid had empt ied vault seven hundred and thirteen, if you could call it empt ying,
taking out that grubby lit t le package. Had that been what the thieves were looking
for?
As Harry and Ron walked back to the cast le for dinner, their pocket s weighed
down with rock cakes they’d been too polite to refuse, Harry thought that none of the
lessons he’d had so far had given him as much to think about as tea with Hagrid. Had
Hagrid collected that package j ust in t ime? Where was it now? And did Hagrid know
something about Snape that he didn’t want to tell Harry?
CHAPTER NINE – THE MIDNIGHT DUEL
Harry had never believed he would meet a boy he hated more than Dudley, but
that was before he met Draco Malfoy. Still, first-year Gryffindors only had Potions with
the Slytherins, so they didn’t have to put up with Malfoy much. Or at least , they didn’t
unt il they spot ted a not ice pinned up in the Gryffindor common room that made them
all groan. Flying lessons would be start ing on Thursday – and Gryffindor and Slytherin
would be learning together.
“Typical,” said Harry darkly. “Just what I always wanted. To make a fool of
myself on a broomstick in front of Malfoy.”
He had been looking forward to learning to fly more than anything else. “You
don’t know that you’ll make a fool of yourself ,” said Ron reasonably. “Anyway, I know
Malfoy’s always going on about how good he is at Quidditch, but I bet that’s all talk.”
Malfoy certainly did talk about flying a lot . He complained loudly about first
years never get t ing on the house Quidditch teams and told long, boast ful stories that
always seemed to end with him narrowly escaping Muggles in helicopters. He wasn’t
the only one, though: the way Seamus Finnigan told it , he’d spent most of his
childhood zooming around the count ryside on his broomst ick. Even Ron would tell
anyone who’d listen about the t ime he’d almost hit a hang glider on Charlie’s old
broom. Everyone f rom wizarding families talked about Quidditch constant ly. Ron had
already had a big argument with Dean Thomas, who shared their dormitory, about
soccer. Ron couldn’t see what was excit ing about a game with only one ball where no
one was allowed to fly. Harry had caught Ron prodding Dean’s poster of West Ham
soccer team, trying to make the players move.
Neville had never been on a broomst ick in his life, because his grandmother
had never let him near one. Privately, Harry felt she’d had good reason, because
Neville managed to have an ext raordinary number of accidents even with both feet on
the ground.
Hermione Granger was almost as nervous about flying as Neville was. This was
something you couldn’t learn by heart out of a book – not that she hadn’t t ried. At
breakfast on Thursday she bored them all stupid with f lying t ips she’d got ten out of a
library book called Quiddit ch Through t he Ages. Neville was hanging on to her every
word, desperate for anything that might help him hang on to his broomst ick later, but
everybody else was very pleased when Hermione’s lecture was interrupted by the
arrival of the mail.
Harry hadn’t had a single let ter since Hagrid’s note, something that Malfoy had
been quick to not ice, of course. Malfoy’s eagle owl was always bringing him packages
of sweets from home, which he opened gloatingly at the Slytherin table.
A barn owl brought Neville a small package from his grandmother. He opened it
excitedly and showed them a glass ball the size of a large marble, which seemed to be
full of white smoke.
“It ‘s a Remembrall!” he explained. “Gran knows I forget things – this tells you if
there’s something you’ve forgotten to do. Look, you hold it tight like this and if it turns
red – oh…” His face fell, because the Remembrall had suddenly glowed scarlet,
“You’ve forgotten something…”
Neville was t rying to remember what he’d forgot ten when Draco Malfoy, who
was passing the Gryffindor table, snatched the Remembrall out of his hand.
Harry and Ron jumped to their feet. They were half hoping for a reason to fight
Malfoy, but Professor McGonagall, who could spot t rouble quicker than any teacher in
the school, was there in a flash.
“What’s going on?”
“Malfoy’s got my Remembrall, Professor.”
Scowling, Malfoy quickly dropped the Remembrall back on the table. “Just
looking,” he said, and he sloped away with Crabbe and Goyle behind him.
At three-thirty that afternoon, Harry, Ron, and the other Gryff indors hurried
down the front steps onto the grounds for their first f lying.lesson. It was a clear,
breezy day, and the grass rippled under their feet as they marched down the sloping
lawns toward a smooth, flat lawn on the opposite side of the grounds to the forbidden
forest , whose t rees were swaying darkly in the distance. The Slytherins were already
there, and so were twenty broomst icks lying in neat lines on the ground. Harry had
heard Fred and George Weasley complain about the school brooms, saying that some
of them started to vibrate if you flew too high, or always flew slight ly to the left .
Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short , gray hair, and yellow eyes like a
hawk.
Well, what are you all wait ing for?” she barked. “Everyone stand by a
broomstick. Come on, hurry up.”
Harry glanced down at his broom. It was old and some of the twigs stuck out at
odd angles. “St ick out your right hand over your broom,” called Madam Hooch at the
front, “and say ‘Up!”‘
“UP!” everyone shouted.
Harry’s broom j umped into his hand at once, but it was one of the few that did.
Hermione Granger’s had simply rolled over on the ground, and Neville’s hadn’t moved
at all. Perhaps brooms, like horses, could tell when you were afraid, thought Harry;
there was a quaver in Neville’s voice that said only too clearly that he wanted to keep
his feet on the ground.
Madam Hooch then showed them how to mount their brooms without sliding off
the end, and walked up and down the rows correct ing their grips. Harry and Ron were
delighted when she told Malfoy he’d been doing it wrong for years.
“Now, when I blow my whistle, you kick off from the ground, hard,” said Madam
Hooch. “Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet , and then come st raight back down
by leaning forward slightly. On my whistle – three – two – ”
But Neville, nervous and j umpy and frightened of being left on the ground,
pushed off hard before the whistle had touched Madam Hooch’s lips.
“Come back, boy!” she shouted, but Neville was rising st raight up like a cork
shot out of a bot t le – twelve feet – twenty feet . Harry saw his scared white face look
down at the ground falling away, saw him gasp, slip sideways of f the broom and –
WHAM – a thud and a nasty crack and Neville lay facedown on the grass in a heap. His
broomst ick was st ill rising higher and higher, and started to drift lazily toward the
forbidden forest and out of sight.
Madam Hooch was bending over Neville, her face as white as his. “Broken
wrist,” Harry heard her mutter. “Come on, boy – it’s all right, up you get.”.
She turned to the rest of the class. “None of you is to move while I take this
boy to the hospital wing! You leave those brooms where they are or you’ll be out of
Hogwarts before you can say ‘Quidditch.’ Come on, dear.”
Neville, his face tear-st reaked, clutching his wrist , hobbled off with Madam
Hooch, who had her arm around him. No sooner were they out of earshot than Malfoy
burst into laughter. “Did you see his face, the great lump?” The other Slytherins j oined
in.
“Shut up, Malfoy,” snapped Parvati Patil.
“Ooh, st icking up for Longbot tom?” said Pansy Parkinson, a hard-faced Slytherin
girl. “Never thought you’d like fat little crybabies, Parvati.”
“Look!” said Malfoy, dart ing forward and snatching something out of the grass.
“It’s that stupid thing Longbottom’s gran sent him.”
The Remembrall glittered in the sun as he held it up.
“Give that here, Malfoy,” said Harry quietly. Everyone stopped talking to watch.
Malfoy smiled nastily.
“I think I’ll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find – how about – up a tree?”
“Give it here!” Harry yelled, but Malfoy had leapt onto his broomstick and taken
of f. He hadn’t been lying, he could fly well. Hovering level with the topmost branches
of an oak he called, “Come and get it, Potter!”
Harry grabbed his broom.
“No!” shouted Hermione Granger. “Madam Hooch told us not to move – you’ll get
us all into trouble.”
Harry ignored her. Blood was pounding in his ears. He mounted the broom and
kicked hard against the ground and up, up he soared; air rushed through his hair, and
his robes whipped out behind him – and in a rush of fierce j oy he realized he’d found
something he could do without being taught – this was easy, this was wonderful. He
pulled his broomstick up a little to take it even higher, and heard screams and gasps of
girls back on the ground and an admiring whoop f rom Ron. He turned his broomst ick
sharply to face Malfoy in midair. Malfoy looked.stunned.
“Give it here,” Harry called, “or I’ll knock you off that broom!”
“Oh, yeah?” said Malfoy, trying to sneer, but looking worried.
Harry knew, somehow, what to do. He leaned forward and grasped the broom
t ight ly in both hands, and it shot toward Malfay like a j avelin. Malfoy only j ust got out
of the way in t ime; Harry made a sharp about -face and held the broom steady. A few
people below were clapping.
“No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy,” Harry called.
The same thought seemed to have struck Malfoy.
“Catch it if you can, then!” he shouted, and he threw the glass ball high into
the air and streaked back toward the ground. Harry saw, as though in slow motion, the
ball rise up in the air and then start to fall. He leaned forward and pointed his broom
handle down – next second he was gathering speed in a steep dive, racing the ball –
wind whist led in his ears, mingled with the screams of people watching – he st retched
out his hand – a foot from the ground he caught it , j ust in t ime to pull his broom
st raight , and he toppled gent ly onto the grass with the Remembrall clutched safely in
his fist.
“HARRY POTTER!”
His heart sank faster than he’d j ust dived. Professor McGonagall was running
toward them. He got to his feet, trembling. “Never – in all my time at Hogwarts -”
Professor McGonagall was almost speechless with shock, and her glasses flashed
furiously, “- how dare you – might have broken your neck -”
“It wasn’t his fault, Professor -”
“Be quiet, Miss Patil
“But Malfoy -”
“That’s enough, Mr. Weasley. Potter, follow me, now.”
Harry caught sight of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle’s t riumphant faces as he left ,
walking numbly in Professor McGonagall’s wake as she st rode toward the cast le. He
was going to be expelled, he j ust knew it . He wanted to say something to defend
himself, but there seemed to be something wrong with his voice. Professor McGonagall
was sweeping along without even looking at him; he had to j og to keep up. Now he’d
done it . He hadn’t even lasted two weeks. He’d be packing his bags in ten minutes.
What would the Dursleys say when he turned up on the doorstep? Up the front steps,
up the marble staircase inside, and still Professor McGonagall didn’t say a word to him.
She wrenched open doors and marched along corridors with Harry t rot t ing miserably
behind her. Maybe she was taking him to Dumbledore. He thought of Hagrid, expelled
but allowed to.stay on as gamekeeper. Perhaps he could be Hagrid’s assistant . His
stomach twisted as he imagined it , watching Ron and the others becoming wizards,
while he stumped around the grounds carrying Hagrid’s bag. Professor McGonagall
stopped outside a classroom. She opened the door and poked her head inside.
“Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood for a moment?”
Wood? thought Harry, bewildered; was Wood a cane she was going to use on
him?
But Wood turned out to be a person, a burly fifth-year boy who came out of
Flitwick’s class looking confused.
“Follow me, you two,” said Professor McGonagall, and they marched on up the
corridor, Wood looking curiously at Harry. “In here.”
Professor McGonagall pointed them into a classroom that was empty except for
Peeves, who was busy writ ing rude words on the blackboard. “Out , Peeves!” she
barked. Peeves threw the chalk into a bin, which clanged loudly, and he swooped out
cursing. Professor McGonagall slammed the door behind him and turned to face the
two boys.
“Potter, this is Oliver Wood. Wood – I’ve found you a Seeker.”
Wood’s expression changed from puzzlement to delight . “Are you serious,
Professor?”
“Absolutely,” said Professor McGonagall crisply. “The boy’s a natural. I’ve never
seen anything like it. Was that your first time on a broomstick, Potter?”
Harry nodded silent ly. He didn’t have a clue what was going on, but he didn’t
seem to be being expelled, and some of the feeling started coming back to his legs.
“He caught that thing in his hand after a fifty-foot dive,” Professor McGonagall
told Wood. “Didn’t even scratch himself. Charlie Weasley couldn’t have done it.”
Wood was now looking as though all his dreams had come t rue at once. “Ever
seen a game of Quidditch, Potter?” he asked excitedly.
“Wood’s captain of the Gryffindor team,” Professor McGonagall explained.
“He’s j ust the build for a Seeker, too,” said Wood, now walking around Harry
and staring at him. “Light – speedy –we’ll have to get him a decent broom, Professor –
a Nimbus Two Thousand or a Cleansweep Seven, I’d say.”
“ I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can’t bend the first -year
rule. Heaven knows, we need a bet ter team than last year. Flat tened in that last
match by Slytherin, I couldn’t look Severus Snape in the face for weeks….”
Professor McGonagall peered sternly over her glasses at Harry. “I want to hear
you’re training hard, Potter, or I may change my mind about punishing you.”
Then she suddenly smiled. “Your father would have been proud,” she said. “He
was an excellent Quidditch player himself.”
“You’re joking.”
It was dinnert ime. Harry had j ust finished telling Ron what had happened when
he’d left the grounds with Professor McGonagall. Ron had a piece of steak and kidney
pie halfway to his mouth, but he’d forgotten all about it.
“Seeker?” he said. “But first years never – you must be the youngest house
player in …”
“About a century,” said Harry, shoveling pie into his mouth. He felt particularly
hungry after the excitement of the afternoon. “Wood told me.”
Ron was so amazed, so impressed, he j ust sat and gaped at Harry. “I start
t raining next week,” said Harry. “Only don’t tell anyone, Wood wants to keep it a
secret.”
Fred and George Weasley now came into the hall, spot ted Harry, and hurried
over.
“Well done,” said George in a low voice. “Wood told us. We’re on the team too –
Beaters.”
“I tell you, we’re going to win that Quidditch cup for sure this year,” said Fred.
“We haven’t won since Charlie left , but this year’s team is going to be brilliant . You
must be good, Harry, Wood was almost skipping when he told us.”
“Anyway, we’ve got to go, Lee Jordan reckons he’s found a new secret
passageway out of the school.”
“Bet it’s that one behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy that we found in our
first week. See you.”
Fred and George had hardly disappeared when someone far less welcome
turned up: Malfoy, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.
“Having a last meal, Pot ter? When are you get t ing the t rain back to the
Muggles?”
“You’re a lot braver now that you’re back on the ground and you’ve got .your
lit t le friends with you,” said Harry coolly. There was of course nothing at all lit t le
about Crabbe and Goyle, but as the High Table was full of teachers, neither of them
could do more than crack their knuckles and scowl.
“I’d take you on anyt ime on my own,” said Malfoy. “Tonight , if you want .
Wizard’s duel. Wands only – no contact . What ‘s the mat ter? Never heard of a wizard’s
duel before, I suppose?”
“Of course he has,” said Ron, wheeling around. “I’m his second, who’s yours?”
Malfoy looked at Crabbe and Goyle, sizing them up. “Crabbe,” he said.
“Midnight all right? We’ll meet you in the trophy room; that’s always unlocked.”
When Malfoy had gone, Ron and Harry looked at each other. “What is a wizard’s
duel?” said Harry. “And what do you mean, you’re my second?”
“Well, a second’s there to take over if you die,” said Ron casually, get t ing
started at last on his cold pie. Catching the look on Harry’s face, he added quickly,
“But people only die in proper duels, you know, with real wizards. The most you and
Malfoy’ll be able to do is send sparks at each other. Neither of you knows enough
magic to do any real damage. I bet he expected you to refuse, anyway.”
“And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?”
“Throw it away and punch him on the nose,” Ron suggested.
“Excuse me.” They both looked up. It was Hermione Granger.
“Can’t a person eat in peace in this place?” said Ron. Hermione ignored him and
spoke to Harry. “I couldn’t help overhearing what you and Malfoy were saying -”
“Bet you could,” Ron muttered.
“-and you mustn’t go wandering around the school at night , think of the points
you’ll lose Gryff indor if you’re caught , and you’re bound to be. It ‘s really very selfish of
you.”
“And it’s really none of your business,” said Harry.
“Good-bye,” said Ron.
All the same, it wasn’t what you’d call the perfect end to the day, Harry
thought , as he lay awake much later listening to Dean and Seamus falling asleep
(Neville wasn’t back from the hospital wing). Ron had spent all evening giving him
advice such as “If he t ries to curse you, you’d bet ter dodge it , because I can’t
remember how to block them.”
There was a very good chance they were going to get caught by Filch or Mrs.
Norris, and Harry felt he was pushing his luck, breaking another.school rule today. On
the other hand, Malfoy’ s sneering face kept looming up out of the darkness – this was
his big chance to beat Malfoy face-to-face. He couldn’t miss it.
“Half-past eleven,” Ron muttered at last, “we’d better go.”
They pulled on their bathrobes, picked up their wands, and crept across the
tower room, down the spiral staircase, and into the Gryf findor common room. A few
embers were st ill glowing in the f ireplace, turning all the armchairs into hunched
black shadows. They had almost reached the port rait hole when a voice spoke from
the chair nearest them, “I can’t believe you’re going to do this, Harry.”
A lamp f lickered on. It was Hermione Granger, wearing a pink bathrobe and a
frown.
“You!” said Ron furiously. “Go back to bed!”
“I almost told your brother,” Hermione snapped, “Percy – he’s a prefect , he’d
put a stop to this.”
Harry couldn’t believe anyone could be so interfering.
“Come on,” he said to Ron. He pushed open the port rait of the Fat Lady and
climbed through the hole. Hermione wasn’t going to give up that easily. She followed
Ron through the portrait hole, hissing at them like an angry goose.
“Don’t you care about Gryf findor, do you only care about yourselves, I don’t
want Slytherin to win the house cup, and you’ll lose all the points I got from Professor
McGonagall for knowing about Switching Spells.”
“Go away.” “All right , but I warned you, you j ust remember what I said when
you’re on the train home tomorrow, you’re so -”
But what they were, they didn’t find out . Hermione had turned to the port rait
of the Fat Lady to get back inside and found herself facing an empty paint ing. The Fat
Lady had gone on a nighttime visit and Hermione was locked out of Gryffindor tower.
“Now what am I going to do?” she asked shrilly.
“That’s your problem,” said Ron. “We’ve got to go, we’re going to be late.”
They hadn’t even reached the end of the corridor when Hermione caught up
with them.
“I’m coming with you,” she said.
“You are not.”
“D’you think I’m going to stand out here and wait for Filch to catch me? If he
finds all three of us I’ll tell him the t ruth, that I was t rying to stop you, and you can
back me up.”
“You’ve got some nerve -” said Ron loudly.
“Shut up, both of you!” said Harry sharply. I heard something.”
It was a sort of snuffling.
“Mrs. Norris?” breathed Ron, squinting through the dark.
It wasn’t Mrs. Norris. It was Neville. He was curled up on the floor, fast asleep,
but jerked suddenly awake as they crept nearer.
“Thank goodness you found me! I’ve been out here for hours, I couldn’t
remember the new password to get in to bed.”
“Keep your voice down, Neville. The password’s ‘Pig snout ‘ but it won’t help you
now, the Fat Lady’s gone off somewhere.”
“How’s your arm?” said Harry.
“Fine,” said Neville, showing them. “Madam Pomfrey mended it in about a
minute.”
“Good –well, look, Neville, we’ve got to be somewhere, we’ll see you later -”
“Don’t leave me!” said Neville, scrambling to his feet , “I don’t want to stay here
alone, the Bloody Baron’s been past twice already.” Ron looked at his watch and then
glared furiously at Hermione and Neville.
“If either of you get us caught , I’ll never rest unt il I’ve learned that Curse of the
Bogies Quirrell told us about , and used it on you,” Hermione opened her mouth,
perhaps to tell Ron exact ly how to use the Curse of the Bogies, but Harry hissed at her
to be quiet and beckoned them all forward. They flit ted along corridors st riped with
bars of moonlight from the high windows. At every turn Harry expected to run into
Filch or Mrs. Norris, but they were lucky. They sped up a staircase to the third floor
and t iptoed toward the t rophy room. Malfoy and Crabbe weren’t there yet . The crystal
t rophy cases glimmered where the moonlight caught them. Cups, shields, plates, and
statues winked silver and gold in the darkness. They edged along the walls, keeping
their eyes on the doors at either end of the room. Harry took out his wand in case
Malfoy leapt in and started at once. The minutes crept by.
“He’s late, maybe he’s chickened out,” Ron whispered.
Then a noise in the next room made them j ump. Harry had only j ust raised his
wand when they heard someone speak – and it wasn’t Malfoy.
“Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner.”
It was Filch speaking to Mrs. Norris. Horror-st ruck, Harry waved madly at the
other three to follow him as quickly as possible; they scurried silent ly toward the
door, away from Filch’s voice. Neville’s robes had barely whipped round the corner
when they heard Filch enter the trophy room.
“They’re in here somewhere,” they heard him mutter, “probably hiding.”
“This way!” Harry mouthed to the others and, pet rified, they began to creep
down a long gallery full of suits of armor. They could hear Filch get t ing nearer. Neville
suddenly let out a frightened squeak and broke into a run – he t ripped, grabbed Ron
around the waist, and the pair of them toppled right into a suit of armor.
The clanging and crashing were enough to wake the whole castle.
“RUN!” Harry yelled, and the four of them sprinted down the gallery, not
looking back to see whether Filch was following – they swung around the doorpost and
galloped down one corridor then another, Harry in the lead, without any idea where
they were or where they were going – they ripped through a tapest ry and found
themselves in a hidden passageway, hurt led along it and came out near their Charms
classroom, which they knew was miles from the trophy room.
“I think we’ve lost him,” Harry panted, leaning against the cold wall and wiping
his forehead. Neville was bent double, wheezing and spluttering.
I – told – you,” Hermione gasped, clutching at the st itch in her chest , “I – told –
you.”
“We’ve got to get back to Gryffindor tower,” said Ron, “quickly as possible.”
“Malfoy t ricked you,” Hermione said to Harry. “You realize that , don’t you? He
was never going to meet you – Filch knew someone was going to be in the t rophy
room, Malfoy must have tipped him off.”
Harry thought she was probably right, but he wasn’t going to tell her that.
“Let’s go.”
It wasn’t going to be that simple. They hadn’t gone more than a dozen paces
when a doorknob rat t led and something came shoot ing out of a classroom in front of
them. It was Peeves. He caught sight of them and gave a squeal of delight.
“Shut up, Peeves – please – you’ll get us thrown out.”
Peeves cackled.
“Wandering around at midnight , Ickle First ies? Tut , tut , tut . Naughty, naughty,
you’ll get caughty.”
“Not if you don’t give us away, Peeves, please.”
“Should tell Filch, I should,” said Peeves in a saintly voice, but his eyes glittered
wickedly. “It’s for your own good, you know.”
“Get out of the way,” snapped Ron, taking a swipe at Peeves this was a big
mistake.
“STUDENTSOUT OF BED!” Peeves bellowed, “STUDENTSOUT OF BED DOWN THE
CHARMS CORRIDOR”
Ducking under Peeves, they ran for their lives, right to the end of the corridor
where they slammed into a door – and it was locked.
“This is it!” Ron moaned, as they pushed helplessly at the door, “We’re done for!
This is the end!” They could hear footsteps, Filch running as fast as he could toward
Peeves’s shouts.
“Oh, move over,” Hermione snarled. She grabbed Harry’s wand, tapped the
lock, and whispered, “Alohomora!”
The lock clicked and the door swung open – they piled through it , shut it
quickly, and pressed their ears against it, listening.
“Which way did they go, Peeves?” Filch was saying. “Quick, tell me.”
“Say ‘please.”‘
“Don’t mess with me, Peeves, now where did they go?”
“Shan’t say nothing if you don’t say please,” said Peeves in his annoying singsong
voice.
“All right – please.”
“NOTHING! Ha, haaa! Told you I wouldn’t say nothing if you didn’t say please!
Ha ha! Haaaaaa!” And they heard the sound of Peeves whooshing away and Filch
cursing in rage.
“He thinks this door is locked,” Harry whispered. “I think we’ll be okay –get off,
Neville!” For Neville had been tugging on the sleeve of Harry’s bathrobe for the last
minute. “What?”
Harry turned around –and saw, quite clearly, what . For a moment , he was sure
he’d walked into a nightmare – this was too much, on top of everything that had
happened so far.
They weren’t in a room, as he had supposed. They were in a corridor. The
forbidden corridor on the third floor. And now they knew why it was forbidden. They
were looking st raight into the eyes of a monst rous dog, a dog that filled the whole
space between ceiling and floor. It had three heads. Three pairs of rolling, mad eyes;
three noses, twitching and quivering in their direct ion; three drooling mouths, saliva
hanging in slippery ropes from yellowish fangs.
It was standing quite st ill, all six eyes staring at them, and Harry knew that the
only reason they weren’t already dead was that their sudden appearance had taken it
by surprise, but it was quickly get t ing over that , there was no mistaking what those
thunderous growls meant.
Harry groped for the doorknob – between Filch and death, he’d take Filch.
They fell backward – Harry slammed the door shut , and they ran, they almost
flew, back down the corridor. Filch must have hurried off to look for them somewhere
else, because they didn’t see him anywhere, but they hardly cared – all they wanted to
do was put as much space as possible between them and that monster. They didn’t
stop running until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady on the seventh floor.
“Where on earth have you all been?” she asked, looking at their bathrobes
hanging off their shoulders and their flushed, sweaty faces.
“Never mind that – pig snout , pig snout ,” panted Harry, and the port rait swung
forward. They scrambled into the common room and collapsed, t rembling, into
armchairs.
It was a while before any of them said anything. Neville, indeed, looked as if
he’d never speak again.
“What do they think they’re doing, keeping a thing like that locked up in a
school?” said Ron finally. “If any dog needs exercise, that one does.”
Hermione had got both her breath and her bad temper back again. “You don’t
use your eyes, any of you, do you?” she snapped. “Didn’t you see what it was standing
on?”
“The f loor?” Harry suggested. “I wasn’t looking at its feet , I was too busy with
its heads.”
“No, not the floor. It was standing on a t rapdoor. It ‘s obviously guarding
something.” She stood up, glaring at them.
I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed –or worse,
expelled. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to bed.”
Ron stared after her, his mouth open.
“No, we don’t mind,” he said. “You’d think we dragged her along, wouldn’t you.”
But Hermione had given Harry something else to think about as he climbed
back into bed. The dog was guarding something…. What had Hagrid said? Gringot ts
was the safest place in the world for something you wanted to hide – except perhaps
Hogwarts. It looked as though Harry had found out where the grubby lit t le package
from vault seven hundred and thirteen was.
CHAPTER TEN – HALLOWEEN
Malfoy couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw that Harry and Ron were st ill at
Hogwarts the next day, looking t ired but perfect ly cheerful. Indeed, by the next
morning Harry and Ron thought that meet ing the three-headed dog had been an
excellent adventure, and they were quite keen to have another one. In the meant ime,
Harry filled Ron in about the package that seemed to have been moved f rom Gringot ts
to Hogwarts, and they spent a lot of t ime wondering what could possibly need such
heavy protection.
“It’s either really valuable or really dangerous,” said Ron.
“Or both,” said Harry.
But as all they knew for sure about the mysterious object was that it was about
two inches long, they didn’t have much chance of guessing what it was without further
clues. Neither Neville nor Hermione showed the slightest interest in what lay
underneath the dog and the trapdoor. All Neville cared about was never going near the
dog again. Hermione was now refusing to speak to Harry and Ron, but she was such a
bossy know-it-all that they saw this as an added bonus. All they really wanted now was
a way of get t ing back at Malfoy, and to their great delight , j ust such a thing arrived in
the mail about a week later. As the owls flooded into the Great Hall as usual,
everyone’s at tent ion was caught at once by a long, thin package carried by six large
screech owls. Harry was j ust as interested as everyone else to see what was in this
large parcel, and was amazed when the owls soared down and dropped it right in front
of him, knocking his bacon to the floor. They had hardly fluttered out of the way when
another owl dropped a letter on top of the parcel.
Harry ripped open the letter first, which was lucky, because it said:
DO NOT OPEN THE PARCEL AT THE TABLE. It contains your new
Nimbus Two Thousand, but I don’t want everybody knowing you’ve got a
broomst ick or they’ll all want one. Oliver Wood will meet you tonight on
the Quidditch field at seven o’clock for your first training session.
Professor McGonagall
Harry had difficulty hiding his glee as he handed the note to Ron to read.
“A Nimbus Two Thousand!” Ron moaned enviously. “I’ve never even touched
one.”
They left the hall quickly, want ing to unwrap the broomst ick in private before
their first class, but halfway across the ent rance hall they found the way upstairs
barred by Crabbe and Goyle. Malfoy seized the package from Harry and felt it.
“That ‘s a broomst ick,” he said, throwing it back to Harry with a mixture of
j ealousy and spite on his face. “You’ll be in for it this t ime, Pot ter, f irst years aren’t
allowed them.”
Ron couldn’t resist it.
“It ‘s not any old broomst ick,” he said, “it ‘s a Nimbus Two Thousand. What did
you say you’ve got at home, Malfoy, a Comet Two Sixty?” Ron grinned at Harry.
“Comets look flashy, but they’re not in the same league as the Nimbus.”
“What would you know about it , Weasley, you couldn’t afford half the handle,”
Malfoy snapped back. “I suppose you and your brothers have to save up twig by twig.”
Before Ron could answer, Professor Flitwick appeared at Malfoy’s elbow.
“Not arguing, I hope, boys?” he squeaked.
“Potter’s been sent a broomstick, Professor,” said Malfoy quickly.
“Yes, yes, that ‘s right ,” said Professor Flitwick, beaming at Harry. “Professor
McGonagall told me all about the special circumstances, Potter. And what model is it?”
“A Nimbus Two Thousand, sit ,” said Harry, fight ing not to laugh at the look of
horror on Malfoy’s face. “And it ‘s really thanks to Malfoy here that I’ve got it ,” he
added.
Harry and Ron headed upstairs, smothering their laughter at Malfoy’s obvious
rage and confusion. “Well, it ‘s t rue,” Harry chort led as they reached the top of the
marble staircase, “If he hadn’t stolen Neville’s Remembrall I wouldn’t be on the
team….”
“So I suppose you think that ‘s a reward for breaking rules?” came an angry voice
from just behind them. Hermione was stomping up the stairs, looking disapprovingly at
the package in Harry’s hand.
“I thought you weren’t speaking to us?” said Harry.
“Yes, don’t stop now,” said Ron, “it’s doing us so much good.”
Hermione marched away with her nose in the air. Harry had a lot of t rouble
keeping his mind on his lessons that day. It kept wandering up to the dormitory where
his new broomst ick was lying under his bed, or st raying off to the Quiddit ch field
where he’d be learning to play that night . He bolted his dinner that evening without
not icing what he was eat ing, and then rushed upstairs with Ron to unwrap the Nimbus
Two Thousand at last.
“Wow,” Ron sighed, as the broomst ick rolled onto Harry’s bedspread. Even
Harry, who knew nothing about the different brooms, thought it looked wonderful.
Sleek and shiny, with a mahogany handle, it had a long tail of neat , st raight twigs and
Nimbus Two Thousand written in gold near the top.
As seven o’clock drew nearer, Harry left the cast le and set of f in the dusk
toward the Quidditch field. Held never been inside the stadium before. Hundreds of
seats were raised in stands around the field so that the spectators were high enough to
see what was going on. At either end of the field were three golden poles with hoops
on the end. They reminded Harry of the lit t le plast ic st icks Muggle children blew
bubbles through, except that they were fifty feet high. Too eager to fly again to wait
for Wood, Harry mounted his broomst ick and kicked off from the ground. What a
feeling – he swooped in and out of the goal posts and then sped up and down the field.
The Nimbus Two Thousand turned wherever he wanted at his lightest touch.
“Hey, Potter, come down!’
Oliver Wood had arrived. He was carrying a large wooden crate under his arm.
Harry landed next to him.
“Very nice,” said Wood, his eyes glint ing. “I see what McGonagall meant … you
really are a natural. I’m j ust going to teach you the rules this evening, then you’ll be
j oining team pract ice three t imes a week.” He opened the crate. Inside were four
different-sized balls.
“Right ,” said Wood. “Now, Quidditch is easy enough to understand, even if it ‘s
not too easy to play. There are seven players on each side. Three of them are called
Chasers.”
“Three Chasers,” Harry repeated, as Wood took out a bright red ball about the
size of a soccer ball.
“This ball’s called the Quaff le,” said Wood. “The Chasers throw the Quaffle to
each other and t ry and get it through one of the hoops to score a goal. Ten points
every time the Quaffle goes through one of the hoops. Follow me?”
“The Chasers throw the Quaffle and put it through the hoops to score,”
Harry recited. “So – that ‘s sort of like basketball on broomst icks with six hoops,
isn’t it?”
“What’s basketball?” said Wood curiously.
“Never mind,” said Harry quickly.
“Now, there’s another player on each side who’s called the Keeper – I’m Keeper
for Gryffindor. I have to fly around our hoops and stop the other team from scoring.”
“Three Chasers, one Keeper,” said Harry, who was determined to remember it
all. “And they play with the Quaffle. Okay, got that . So what are they for?” He pointed
at the three balls left inside the box.
“I’ll show you now,” said Wood. “Take this.”
He handed Harry a small club, a bit like a short baseball bat. “I’m going to show
you what the Bludgers do,” Wood said. “These two are the Bludgers.”
He showed Harry two ident ical balls, j et black and slight ly smaller than the red
Quaf fle. Harry not iced that they seemed to be st raining to escape the st raps holding
them inside the box.
“Stand back,” Wood warned Harry. He bent down and freed one of the Bludgers.
At once, the black ball rose high in the air and then pelted st raight at Harry’s
face. Harry swung at it with the bat to stop it from breaking his nose, and sent it
zigzagging away into the air – it zoomed around their heads and then shot at Wood,
who dived on top of it and managed to pin it to the ground. “See?” Wood panted,
forcing the st ruggling Bludger back into the crate and st rapping it down safely. “The
Bludgers rocket around, t rying to knock players off their brooms. That ‘s why you have
two Beaters on each team – the Weasley twins are ours – it ‘s their j ob to protect their
side from the Bludgers and t ry and knock them toward the other team. So – think
you’ve got all that?”
“Three Chasers t ry and score with the Quaff le; the Keeper guards the goal
posts; the Beaters keep the Bludgers away from their team,” Harry reeled off.
“Very good,” said Wood.
“Er – have the Bludgers ever killed anyone?” Harry asked, hoping he sounded
offhand.
“Never at Hogwarts. We’ve had a couple of broken j aws but nothing worse than
that . Now, the last member of the team is the Seeker. That ‘s you. And you don’t have
to worry about the Quaffle or the Bludgers unless they crack my head open.”
“Don’t worry, the Weasleys are more than a match for the Bludgers – I mean,
they’re like a pair of human Bludgers themselves.”
Wood reached into the crate and took out the fourth and last ball. Compared
with the Quaffle and the Bludgers, it was t iny, about the size of a large walnut . It was
bright gold and had little fluttering silver wings.
“This,” said Wood, “is the Golden Snitch, and it ‘s the most important ball of the
lot . It ‘s very hard to catch because it ‘s so fast and difficult to see. It ‘s the Seeker’s j ob
to catch it . You’ve got to weave in and out of the Chasers, Beaters, Bludgers, and
Quaf fle to get it before the other team’s Seeker, because whichever Seeker catches
the Snitch wins his team an ext ra hundred and fifty point , so they nearly always win.
That’s why Seekers get fouled so much. A game of Quidditch only ends when the Snitch
is caught , so it can go on for ages – I think the record is three months, they had to
keep bringing on subst itutes so the players could get some sleep. Well, that ‘s it – any
questions?”
Harry shook his head. He understood what he had to do all right, it was doing it
that was going to be the problem.
“We won’t pract ice with the Snitch yet ,” said Wood, carefully shut t ing it back
inside the crate, “it’s too dark, we might lose it. Let’s try you out with a few of these.”
He pulled a bag of ordinary golf balls out of his pocket and a few minutes later,
he and Harry were up in the air, Wood throwing the golf balls as hard as he could in
every direct ion for Harry to catch. Harry didn’t miss a single one, and Wood was
delighted. After half an hour, night had really fallen and they couldn’t carry on.
“That Quidditch cup’ll have our name on it this year,” said Wood happily as they
t rudged back up to the cast le. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you turn out bet ter than
Charlie Weasley, and he could have played for England if he hadn’t gone off chasing
dragons.”
Perhaps it was because he was now so busy, what with Quidditch practice three
evenings a week on top of all his homework, but Harry could hardly believe it when he
realized that he’d already been at Hogwarts two months. The cast le felt more like
home than Privet Drive ever had. His lessons, too, were becoming more and more
interesting now that they had mastered the basics.
On Halloween morning they woke to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin
waft ing through the corridors. Even bet ter, Professor Flitwick announced in Charms
that he thought they were ready to start making obj ects fly, something they had all
been dying to t ry since they’d seen him make Neville’s toad zoom around the
classroom. Professor Flitwick put the class into pairs to pract ice. Harry’s partner was
Seamus Finnigan (which was a relief, because Neville had been t rying to catch his
eye). Ron, however, was to be working with Hermione Granger. It was hard to tell
whether Ron or Hermione was angrier with this. She hadn’t spoken to either of them
since the day Harry’s broomstick had arrived.
“Now, don’t forget that nice wrist movement we’ve been pract icing!” squeaked
Professor Flitwick, perched on top of his pile of books as usual. “Swish and f lick,
remember, swish and flick. And saying the magic words properly is very important, too
– never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said ‘s’ instead of ‘f’ and found himself on the floor
with a buffalo on his chest.”
It was very difficult . Harry and Seamus swished and flicked, but the feather
they were supposed to be sending skyward j ust lay on the desktop. Seamus got so
impat ient that he prodded it with his wand and set fire to it –Harry had to put it out
with his hat. Ron, at the next table, wasn’t having much more luck.
“Wingardium Leviosa!” he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.
“You’re saying it wrong,” Harry heard Hermione snap. “It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-osa,
make the ‘gar’ nice and long.”
“You do it, then, if you’re so clever,” Ron snarled.
Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand, and said,
“Wingardium Leviosa!”
Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads.
“Oh, well done!” cried Professor Flitwick, clapping. “Everyone see here, Miss
Granger’s done it!”
Ron was in a very bad mood by the end of the class. “It ‘s no wonder no one can
stand her,” he said to Harry as they pushed their way into the crowded corridor, “she’s
a nightmare, honestly. ”
Someone knocked into Harry as they hurried past him. It was Hermione. Harry
caught a glimpse of her face – and was startled to see that she was in tears.
“I think she heard you.”
“So?” said Ron, but he looked a bit uncomfortable. “She must ‘ve not iced she’s
got no friends.”
Hermione didn’t turn up for the next class and wasn’t seen all afternoon. On
their way down to the Great Hall for the Halloween feast , Harry and Ron overheard
Parvat i Pat il telling her friend Lavender that Hermione was crying in the girls’
bathroom and wanted to be left alone. Ron looked st ill more awkward at this, but a
moment later they had entered the Great Hall, where the Halloween decorat ions put
Hermione out of their minds.
A thousand live bats fluttered from the walls and ceiling while a thousand more
swooped over the tables in low black clouds, making the candles in the pumpkins
stutter. The feast appeared suddenly on the golden plates, as it had at the start -ofterm
banquet.
Harry was j ust helping himself to a baked potato when Professor Quirrell came
sprint ing into the hall, his turban askew and terror on his face. Everyone stared as he
reached Professor Dumbledore’s chair, slumped against the table, and gasped, “Troll –
in the dungeons – thought you ought to know.”
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
There was an uproar. It took several purple firecrackers exploding from the end
of Professor Dumbledore’s wand to bring silence.
“Prefects,” he rumbled, “lead your Houses back to the dormitories
immediately!”
Percy was in his element.
“Follow me! St ick together, f irst years! No need to fear the t roll if you follow
my orders! Stay close behind me, now. Make way, first years coming through! Excuse
me, I’m a prefect!”
“How could a troll get in?” Harry asked as they climbed the stairs.
“Don’t ask me, they’re supposed to be really stupid,” said Ron. “Maybe Peeves
let it in for a Halloween joke.”
They passed different groups of people hurrying in dif ferent direct ions. As they
j ost led their way through a crowd of confused Huff lepuf fs, Harry suddenly grabbed
Ron’s arm.
“I’ve just thought – Hermione.”
“What about her?”
“She doesn’t know about the troll.” Ron bit his lip.
“Oh, all right ,” he snapped. “But Percy’d bet ter not see us.” Ducking down, they
joined the Hufflepuffs going the other way, slipped down a deserted side corridor, and
hurried off toward the girls’ bathroom. They had j ust turned the corner when they
heard quick footsteps behind them.
“Percy!” hissed Ron, pulling Harry behind a large stone griffin.
Peering around it , however, they saw not Percy but Snape. He crossed the
corridor and disappeared from view.
“What ‘s he doing?” Harry whispered. “Why isn’t he down in the dungeons with
the rest of the teachers?”
“Search me.”
Quiet ly as possible, they crept along the next corridor af ter Snape’s fading
footsteps.
“He’s heading for the third floor,” Harry said, but Ron held up his hand.
“Can you smell something?” Harry sniffed and a foul stench reached his nost rils,
a mixture of old socks and the kind of public toilet no one seems to clean. And then
they heard it – a low grunt ing, and the shuf fling foot falls of gigant ic feet . Ron pointed
– at the end of a passage to the left , something huge was moving toward them. They
shrank into the shadows and watched as it emerged into a patch of moonlight. It was a
horrible sight . Twelve feet tall, its skin was a dull, granite gray, its great lumpy body
like a boulder with its small bald head perched on top like a coconut . It had short legs
thick as t ree t runks with flat , horny feet . The smell coming from it was incredible. It
was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the f loor because its arms were
so long. The t roll stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It waggled its long
ears, making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly into the room.
“The keys in the lock,” Harry muttered. “We could lock it in.”
“Good idea,” said Ron nervously.
They edged toward the open door, mouths dry, praying the t roll wasn’t about
to come out of it . With one great leap, Harry managed to grab the key, slam the door,
and lock it.
“Yes!”
Flushed with their victory, they started to run back up the passage, but as they
reached the corner they heard something that made their hearts stop – a high,
petrified scream – and it was coming from the chamber they’d just chained up.
“Oh, no,” said Ron, pale as the Bloody Baron.
“It’s the girls’ bathroom!” Harry gasped.
“Hermione!” they said together.
It was the last thing they wanted to do, but what choice did they have?
Wheeling around, they sprinted back to the door and turned the key, fumbling in their
panic. Harry pulled the door open and they ran inside. Hermione Granger was
shrinking against the wall opposite, looking as if she was about to faint . The t roll was
advancing on her, knocking the sinks off the walls as it went.
“Confuse it !” Harry said desperately to Ron, and, seizing a tap, he threw it as
hard as he could against the wall. The t roll stopped a few feet from Hermione. It
lumbered around, blinking stupidly, to see what had made the noise. Its mean lit t le
eyes saw Harry. It hesitated, then made for him instead, lifting its club as it went.
“Oy, pea-brain!” yelled Ron from the other side of the chamber, and he threw a
metal pipe at it . The t roll didn’t even seem to not ice the pipe hit t ing its shoulder, but
it heard the yell and paused again, turning its ugly snout toward Ron instead, giving
Harry time to run around it.
“Come on, run, run!” Harry yelled at Hermione, t rying to pull her toward the
door, but she couldn’t move, she was st ill f lat against the wall, her mouth open with
terror.
The shout ing and the echoes seemed to be driving the t roll berserk. It roared
again and started toward Ron, who was nearest and had no way to escape.
Harry then did something that was both very brave and very stupid: He took a
great running j ump and managed to fasten his arms around the t roll’s neck from
behind. The t roll couldn’t feel Harry hanging there, but even a t roll will not ice if you
st ick a long bit of wood up its nose, and Harry’s wand had st ill been in his hand when
he’d j umped –it had gone st raight up one of the t roll’s nost rils. Howling with pain, the
t roll twisted and flailed its club, with Harry clinging on for dear life; any second, the
t roll was going to rip him off or catch him a terrible blow with the club. Hermione had
sunk to the floor in f right ; Ron pulled out his own wand – not knowing what he was
going to do he heard himself cry the first spell that came into his head: “Wingardium
Leviosa!”
The club flew suddenly out of the t roll’s hand, rose high, high up into the air,
turned slowly over – and dropped, with a sickening crack, onto its owner’s head. The
t roll swayed on the spot and then fell f lat on its face, with a thud that made the
whole room t remble. Harry got to his feet . He was shaking and out of breath. Ron was
standing there with his wand still raised, staring at what he had done.
It was Hermione who spoke first.
“Is it – dead?”
“I don’t think so,” said Harry, I think it’s just been knocked out.”
He bent down and pulled his wand out of the t roll’s nose. It was covered in
what looked like lumpy gray glue.
“Urgh – troll boogers.”
He wiped it on the t roll’s t rousers. A sudden slamming and loud footsteps made
the three of them look up. They hadn’t realized what a racket they had been making,
but of course, someone downstairs must have heard the crashes and the t roll’s roars. A
moment later, Professor McGonagall had come burst ing into the room, closely
followed by Snape, with Quirrell bringing up the rear. Quirrell.took one look at the
t roll, let out a faint whimper, and sat quickly down on a toilet , clutching his heart .
Snape bent over the t roll. Professor McGonagall was looking at Ron and Harry. Harry
had never seen her look so angry. Her lips were white. Hopes of winning fifty points
for Gryffindor faded quickly from Harry’s mind.
“What on earth were you thinking of?” said Professor McGonagall, with cold fury
in her voice. Harry looked at Ron, who was st ill standing with his wand in the air.
“You’re lucky you weren’t killed. Why aren’t you in your dormitory?”
Snape gave Harry a swift , piercing look. Harry looked at the f loor. He wished
Ron would put his wand down. Then a small voice came out of the shadows.
“Please, Professor McGonagall – they were looking for me.”
“Miss Granger!”
Hermione had managed to get to her feet at last.
“I went looking for the troll because I – I thought I could deal with it on my own
– you know, because I’ve read all about them.”
Ron dropped his wand. Hermione Granger, telling a downright lie to a teacher?
“If they hadn’t found me, I’d be dead now. Harry stuck his wand up its nose and
Ron knocked it out with its own club. They didn’t have time to come and fetch anyone.
It was about to finish me off when they arrived.”
Harry and Ron tried to look as though this story wasn’t new to them.
“Well – in that case…” said Professor McGonagall, staring at the three of them,
“Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your
own?”
Hermione hung her head. Harry was speechless. Hermione was the last person
to do anything against the rules, and here she was, pretending she had, to get them
out of trouble. It was as if Snape had started handing out sweets.
“Miss Granger, five points will be taken from Gryf findor for this,” said Professor
McGonagall. “I’m very disappointed in you. If you’re not hurt at all, you’d bet ter get off
to Gryffindor tower. Students are finishing the feast in their houses.”
Hermione left.
Professor McGonagall turned to Harry and Ron. “Well, I st ill say you were lucky,
but not many first years could have taken on a full-grown mountain troll. You each win
Gryffindor five points. Professor Dumbledore will be informed of this. You may go.”
They hurried out of the chamber and didn’t speak at all unt il they had climbed
two floors up. It was a relief to be away from the smell of the t roll, quite apart from
anything else.
“We should have gotten more than ten points,” Ron grumbled.
“Five, you mean, once she’s taken off Hermione’s.”
“Good of her to get us out of t rouble like that ,” Ron admit ted. “Mind you, we
did save her.”
“She might not have needed saving if we hadn’t locked the thing in with her,”
Harry reminded him. They had reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.
“Pig snout,” they said and entered.
The common room was packed and noisy. Everyone was eat ing the food that
had been sent up. Hermione, however, stood alone by the door, wait ing for them.
There was a very embarrassed pause. Then, none of them looking at each other, they
all said “Thanks,” and hurried off to get plates.
But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their f riend. There are
some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a
twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.
CHAPTER ELEVEN – QUIDDITCH
As they entered November, the weather turned very cold. The mountains
around the school became icy gray and the lake like chilled steel. Every morning the
ground was covered in frost . Hagrid could be seen from the upstairs windows
defrost ing broomst icks on the Quidditch f ield, bundled up in a long moleskin overcoat ,
rabbit fur gloves, and enormous beaverskin boots. The Quidditch season had begun. On
Saturday, Harry would be playing in his f irst match after weeks of t raining: Gryf findor
versus Slytherin. If Gryffindor won, they would move up into second place in the house
championship.
Hardly anyone had seen Harry play because Wood had decided that , as their
secret weapon, Harry should be kept , well, secret . But the news that he was playing
Seeker had leaked out somehow, and Harry didn’t know which was worse – people
telling him he’d be brilliant or people telling him they’d be running around underneath
him holding a mattress.
It was really lucky that Harry now had Hermione as a friend. He didn’t know
how he’d have got ten through all his homework without her, what with all the last –
minute Quidditch practice Wood was making them do. She had also tent him Quidditch
Through t he Ages, which turned out to be a very interest ing read. Harry learned that
there were seven hundred ways of commit t ing a Quidditch foul and that all of them
had happened during a World Cup match in 1473; that Seekers were usually the
smallest and fastest players, and that most serious Quidditch accidents seemed to
happen to them; that although people rarely died playing Quidditch, referees had
been known to vanish and turn up months later in the Sahara Desert . Hermione had
become a bit more relaxed about breaking rules since Harry and Ron had saved her
from the mountain troll, and she was much nicer for it.
The day before Harry’s f irst Quiddit ch match the three of them were out in the
freezing courtyard during break, and she had conj ured them up a bright blue f ire that
could be carried around in a j am j ar. They were standing with their backs to it ,
get t ing warm, when Snape crossed the yard. Harry not iced at once that Snape was
limping. Harry, Ron, and Hermione moved closer together to block the fire from view;
they were sure it wouldn’t be allowed. Unfortunately, something about their guilty
faces caught Snape’s eye. He limped over. He hadn’t seen the fire, but he seemed to
be looking for a reason to tell them off anyway.
“What’s that you’ve got there, Potter?”
It was Quidditch Through the Ages. Harry showed him.
“Library books are not to be taken outside the school,” said Snape. “Give it to
me. Five points from Gryffindor.”
“He’s j ust made that rule up,” Harry mut tered angrily as Snape limped away.
“Wonder what’s wrong with his leg?”
“Dunno, but I hope it’s really hurting him,” said Ron bitterly.
The Gryffindor common room was very noisy that evening. Harry, Ron, and
Hermione sat together next to a window. Hermione was checking Harry and Ron’s
Charms homework for them. She would never let them copy (“How will you learn?”),
but by asking her to read it through, they got the right answers anyway.
Harry felt rest less. He wanted Quiddit ch Through t he Ages back, to take his
mind off his nerves about tomorrow. Why should he be afraid of Snape?Get t ing up, he
told Ron and Hermione he was going to ask Snape if he could have it.
“Bet ter you than me,” they said together, but Harry had an idea that Snape
wouldn’t refuse if there were other teachers listening. He made his way down to the
staff room and knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again. Nothing. Perhaps
Snape had left the book in there? It was worth a t ry. He pushed the door ajar and
peered inside – and a horrible scene met his eyes.
Snape and Filch were inside, alone. Snape was holding his robes above his
knees. One of his legs was bloody and mangled. Filch was handing Snape bandages.
“Blasted thing!” Snape was saying. “How are you supposed to keep your eyes on
all three heads at once?”
Harry tried to shut the door quietly, but –
“POTTER!” Snape’s face was twisted with fury as he dropped his robes quickly to
hide his leg. Harry gulped. “I just wondered if I could have my book back.”
“GET OUT! OUT!”
Harry left , before Snape could take any more points from Gryffindor. He
sprinted back upstairs.
“Did you get it?” Ron asked as Harry j oined them. “What ‘s the mat ter?” In a low
whisper, Harry told them what he’d seen.
“You know what this means?” he finished breathlessly. “He tried to get past that
three-headed dog at Halloween! That ‘s where he was going when we saw him – he’s
after whatever it ‘s guarding! And I’ d bet my broomst ick he let that t roll in, to make a
diversion!”
Hermione’s eyes were wide.
“No – he wouldn’t , she said. “I know he’s not very nice, but he wouldn’t t ry and
steal something Dumbledore was keeping safe.”
“Honest ly, Hermione, you think all teachers are saints or something,” snapped
Ron. “I’m with Harry. I wouldn’t put anything past Snape. But what ‘s he after?What ‘s
that dog guarding?”
Harry went to bed with his head buzzing with the same quest ion. Neville was
snoring loudly, but Harry couldn’t sleep. He t ried to empty his mind – he needed to
sleep, he had to, he had his first Quidditch match in a few hours – but the expression
on Snape’s face when Harry had seen his leg wasn’t easy to forget.
The next morning dawned very bright and cold. The Great Hall was full of the
delicious smell of fried sausages and the cheerful chat ter of everyone looking forward
to a good Quidditch match.
“You’ve got to eat some breakfast.”
“I don’t want anything.”
“Just a bit of toast,” wheedled Hermione.
“I’m not hungry.” Harry felt terrible. In an hour’s t ime he’d be walking onto the
field.
“Harry, you need your st rength,” said Seamus Finnigan. “Seekers are always the
ones who get clobbered by the other team.”
“Thanks, Seamus,” said Harry, watching Seamus pile ketchup on his sausages.
By eleven o’clock the whole school seemed to be out in the stands around the
Quidditch pitch. Many students had binoculars. The seats might be raised high in the
air, but it was still difficult to see what was going on sometimes.
Ron and Hermione j oined Neville, Seamus, and Dean the West Ham fan up in
the top row. As a surprise for Harry, they had painted a large banner on one of the
sheets Scabbers had ruined. It said Pot ter for President , and Dean, who was good at
drawing, had done a large Gryffindor lion underneath. Then Hermione had performed
a tricky little charm so that the paint flashed different colors.
Meanwhile, in the locker room, Harry and the rest of the team were changing
into their scarlet Quidditch robes (Slytherin would be playing in green). Wood cleared
his throat for silence.
“Okay, men,” he said.
“And women,” said Chaser Angelina Johnson.
“And women,” Wood agreed. “This is it.”
“The big one,” said Fred Weasley.
“The one we’ve all been waiting for,” said George.
“We know Oliver’s speech by heart ,” Fred told Harry, “we were on the team last
year.”
“Shut up, you two,” said Wood. “This is the best team Gryffindor’s had in years.
We’re going to win. I know it.” He glared at them all as if to say, “Or else.”
“Right. It’s time. Good luck, all of you.”
Harry followed Fred and George out of the locker room and, hoping his knees
weren’t going to give way, walked onto the field to loud cheers. Madam Hooch was
refereeing. She stood in the middle of the field wait ing for the two teams, her broom
in her hand.
“Now, I want a nice fair game, all of you,” she said, once they were all
gathered around her. Harry not iced that she seemed to be speaking part icularly to the
Slytherin Captain, Marcus Flint , a sixth year. Harry thought Flint looked as if he had
some t roll blood in him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the flut tering banner high
above, flashing Potter for President over the crowd. His heart skipped. He felt braver.
“Mount your brooms, please.”
Harry clambered onto his Nimbus Two Thousand. Madam Hooch gave a loud
blast on her silver whist le. Fifteen brooms rose up, high, high into the air. They were
off.
“And the Quaffle is taken immediately by Angelina Johnson of Gryffindor – what
an excellent Chaser that girl is, and rather attractive, too -”
“JORDAN!”
“Sorry, Professor.”
The Weasley twins’ friend, Lee Jordan, was doing the commentary for the
match, closely watched by Professor McGonagall.
“And she’s really belt ing along up there, a neat pass to Alicia Spinnet , a good
find of Oliver Wood’s, last year only a reserve – back to Johnson and – no, the
Slytherins have taken the Quaffle, Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint gains the Quaffle and
of f he goes – Flint flying like an eagle up there – he’s going to sc- no, stopped by an
excellent move by Gryf f indor Keeper Wood and the Gryffindors take the Quaffle –
that’s Chaser Katie Bell of Gryffindor there, nice dive around Flint, off up the field and
–OUCH – that must have hurt , hit in the back of the head by a Bludger –Quaffle taken
by the Slytherins – that ‘s Adrian Pucey speeding off toward the goal posts, but he’s
blocked by a second Bludger – sent his way by Fred or George Weasley, can’t tell which
– nice play by the Gryf findor Beater, anyway, and Johnson back in possession of the
Quaf fle, a clear field ahead and off she goes – she’s really flying – dodges a speeding
Bludger – the goal posts are ahead – come on, now, Angelina – Keeper Bletchley dives –
misses – GRYFFINDORS SCORE!”
Gryffindor cheers filled the cold air, with howls and moans from the Slytherins.
“Budge up there, move along.”
“Hagrid!”
Ron and Hermione squeezed together to give Hagrid enough space to j oin
them.
“Bin watchin’ from me hut ,” said Hagrid, pat t ing a large pair of binoculars
around his neck, “But it isn’t the same as bein’ in the crowd. No sign of the Snitch yet ,
eh?”
“Nope,” said Ron. “Harry hasn’t had much to do yet.”
“Kept out ta t rouble, though, that ‘s somethin’,” said Hagrid, raising his
binoculars and peering skyward at the speck that was Harry.
Way up above them, Harry was gliding over the game, squinting about for some
sign of the Snitch. This was part of his and Wood’s game plan.
“Keep out of the way unt il you catch sight of the Snitch,” Wood had said. “We
don’t want you attacked before you have to be.”
When Angelina had scored, Harry had done a couple of loop-the-loops to let off
his feelings. Now he was back to staring around for the Snitch. Once he caught sight of
a f lash of gold, but it was j ust a reflect ion from one of the Weasleys’ wristwatches,
and once a Bludger decided to come pelt ing his way, more like a cannonball than
anything, but Harry dodged it and Fred Weasley came chasing after it.
“All right there, Harry?” he had t ime to yell, as he beat the Bludger furiously
toward Marcus Flint.
“Slytherin in possession,” Lee Jordan was saying, “Chaser Pucey ducks two
Bludgers, two Weasleys, and Chaser Bell, and speeds toward the – wait a moment –
was that the Snitch?”
A murmur ran through the crowd as Adrian Pucey dropped the Quaffle, too busy
looking over his shoulder at the flash of gold that had passed his left ear. Harry saw it.
In a great rush of excitement he dived downward after the st reak of gold. Slytherin
Seeker Terence Higgs had seen it , too. Neck and neck they hurt led toward the Snitch –
all the Chasers seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed to be doing as they
hung in midair to watch.
Harry was faster than Higgs – he could see the lit t le round ball, wings
fluttering, darting up ahead – he put on an extra spurt of speed – WHAM! A roar of rage
echoed from the Gryffindors below –Marcus Flint had blocked Harry on purpose, and
Harry’s broom spun off course, Harry holding on for dear life.
“Foul!” screamed the Gryffindors.
Madam Hooch spoke angrily to Flint and then ordered a free shot at the goal
posts for Gryffindor. But in all the confusion, of course, the Golden Snit ch had
disappeared from sight again. Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, “Send him
off, ref! Red card!”
“What are you talking about, Dean?” said Ron.
“Red card!” said Dean furiously. “In soccer you get shown the red card and
you’re out of the game!”
“But this isn’t soccer, Dean,” Ron reminded him.
Hagrid, however, was on Dean’s side.
“They oughta change the rules. Flint coulda knocked Harry out ta the air.”.Lee
Jordan was finding it difficult not to take sides.
“So – after that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating …”
“Jordan!” growled Professor McGonagall.
“I mean, after that open and revolting foul …”
“Jordan, I’m warning you -”
“All right , all right . Flint nearly kills the Gryff indor Seeker, which could happen
to anyone, I’m sure, so a penalty to Gryffindor, taken by Spinner, who puts it away, no
trouble, and we continue play, Gryffindor still in possession.”
It was as Harry dodged another Bludger, which went spinning dangerously past
his head, that it happened. His broom gave a sudden, f rightening lurch. For a split
second, he thought he was going to fall. He gripped the broom t ight ly with both his
hands and knees. He’d never felt anything like that.
It happened again. It was as though the broom was t rying to buck him off. But
Nimbus Two Thousands did not suddenly decide to buck their riders off. Harry t ried to
turn back toward the Gryffindor goal – posts – he had half a mind to ask Wood to call
time-out – and then he realized that his broom was completely out of his cont rol. He
couldn’t turn it . He couldn’t direct it at all. It was zigzagging through the air, and
every now and then making violent swishing movements that almost unseated him.
Lee was still commentating.
“Slytherin in possession – Flint with the Quaffle – passes Spinnet – passes Bell –
hit hard in the face by a Bludger, hope it broke his nose – only j oking, Professor –
Slytherins score – nooo..”
The Slytherins were cheering. No one seemed to have not iced that Harry’s
broom was behaving st rangely. It was carrying – him slowly higher, away from the
game, jerking and twitching as it went.
“Dunno what Harry thinks he’s doing,” Hagrid mumbled. He stared through his
binoculars. “If I didn’ know bet ter, I’d say he’d lost cont rol of his broom… but he can’t
have….”
Suddenly, people were point ing up at Harry all over the stands. His broom had
started to roll over and over, with him only j ust managing to hold on. Then the whole
crowd gasped. Harry’s broom had given a wild j erk and Harry swung of f it . He was now
dangling from it, holding on with only one hand.
“Did something happen to it when Flint blocked him?” Seamus whispered.
“Can’t have,” Hagrid said, his voice shaking. “Can’t nothing interfere with a
broomst ick except powerful Dark magic – no kid could do that to a Nimbus Two
Thousand.”
At these words, Hermione seized Hagrid’s binoculars, but instead of looking up
at Harry, she started looking frantically at the crowd.
“What are you doing?” moaned Ron, gray-faced.
“I knew it,” Hermione gasped, “Snape – look.”
Ron grabbed the binoculars. Snape was in the middle of the stands opposite
them. He had his eyes fixed on Harry and was muttering nonstop under his breath.
“He’s doing something – jinxing the broom,” said Hermione.
“What should we do?”
“Leave it to me.”
Before Ron could say another word, Hermione had disappeared. Ron turned the
binoculars back on Harry. His broom was vibrat ing so hard, it was almost impossible
for him to hang on much longer. The whole crowd was on its feet , watching, terrif ied,
as the Weasleys f lew up to t ry and pull Harry safely onto one of their brooms, but it
was no good – every t ime they got near him, the broom would j ump higher st ill. They
dropped lower and circled beneath him, obviously hoping to catch him if he fell.
Marcus Flint seized the Quaffle and scored five times without anyone noticing.
“Come on, Hermione,” Ron muttered desperately.
Hermione had fought her way across to the stand where Snape stood, and was
now racing along the row behind him; she didn’t even stop to say sorry as she knocked
Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front . Reaching Snape, she crouched down,
pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well-chosen words. Bright blue flames shot
from her wand onto the hem of Snape’s robes. It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape
to realize that he was on fire. A sudden yelp told her she had done her j ob. Scooping
the f ire of f him into a lit t le j ar in her pocket , she scrambled back along the row –
Snape would never know what had happened. It was enough. Up in the air, Harry was
suddenly able to clamber back on to his broom.
“Neville, you can look!” Ron said. Neville had been sobbing into Hagrid’s j acket
for the last five minutes.
Harry was speeding toward the ground when the crowd saw him clap his hand
to his mouth as though he was about to be sick –he hit the field on all fours – coughed
– and something gold fell into his hand.
“I’ve got the Snitch!” he shouted, waving it above his head, and the game ended
in complete confusion.
“He didn’t catch it , he nearly swallowed it ,” Flint was st ill howling twenty
minutes later, but it made no difference – Harry hadn’t broken any rules and Lee
Jordan was st ill happily shout ing the results –Gryffindor had won by one hundred and
seventy points to sixty. Harry heard none of this, though. He was being made a cup of
strong tea back in Hagrid’s hut, with Ron and Hermione.
“It was Snape,” Ron was explaining, “Hermione and I saw him. He was cursing
your broomstick, muttering, he wouldn’t take his eyes off you.”
“Rubbish,” said Hagrid, who hadn’t heard a word of what had gone on next to
him in the stands. “Why would Snape do somethin’ like that?”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another, wondering what to tell him.
Harry decided on the truth.
“I found out something about him,” he told Hagrid. “He t ried to get past that
three-headed dog on Halloween. It bit him. We think he was t rying to steal whatever
it’s guarding.”
Hagrid dropped the teapot.
“How do you know about Fluffy?” he said.
“Fluffy?”
“Yeah –he’s mine – bought him off a Greek chappie I met in the pub las’ year – I
lent him to Dumbledore to guard the
“Yes?” said Harry eagerly.
“Now, don’t ask me anymore,” said Hagrid gruffly. “That’s top secret, that is.”
“But Snape’s trying to steal it.”
“Rubbish,” said Hagrid again. “Snape’s a Hogwarts teacher, he’d do nothin’ of the
sort.”
“So why did he just try and kill Harry?” cried Hermione.
The afternoon’s events certainly seemed to have changed her mind about
Snape.
“ I know a j inx when I see one, Hagrid, I’ve read all about them! You’ve got to
keep eye contact, and Snape wasn’t blinking at all, I saw him!”
“I’m tellin’ yeh, yer wrong!” said Hagrid hot ly. “I don’ know why Harry’s broom
acted like that, but Snape wouldn’ try an’ kill a student! Now, listen to me, all three of
yeh – yer meddlin’ in things that don’ concern yeh. It ‘s dangerous. You forget that dog,
an’ you forget what it ‘s guardin’, that ‘s between Professor Dumbledore an’ Nicolas
Flamel -”
“Aha!” said Harry, “so there’s someone called Nicolas Flamel involved, is there?”
Hagrid looked furious with himself.
CHAPTER TWELVE – THE MIRROR OF ERISED
Christmas was coming. One morning in mid-December, Hogwarts woke to find
itself covered in several feet of snow. The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were
punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around,
bouncing off the back of his turban. The few owls that managed to bat t le their way
through the stormy sky to deliver mail had to be nursed back to health by Hagrid
before they could fly off again.
No one could wait for the holidays to start . While the Gryffindor common room
and the Great Hall had roaring fires, the draf ty corridors had become icy and a bit ter
wind rattled the windows in the classrooms. Worst of all were Professor Snape’s classes
down in the dungeons, where their breath rose in a mist before them and they kept as
close as possible to their hot cauldrons.
“I do feel so sorry,” said Draco Malfoy, one Pot ions class, “for all those people
who have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas because they’re not wanted at home.”
He was looking over at Harry as he spoke. Crabbe and Goyle chuckled. Harry,
who was measuring out powdered spine of lionf ish, ignored them. Malfoy had been
even more unpleasant than usual since the Quiddit ch match. Disgusted that the
Slytherins had lost , he had t ried to get everyone laughing at how a wide-mouthed t ree
frog would be replacing Harry as Seeker next . Then he’d realized that nobody found
this funny, because they were all so impressed at the way Harry had managed to stay
on his bucking broomst ick. So Malfoy, j ealous and angry, had gone back to taunt ing
Harry about having no proper family.
It was t rue that Harry wasn’t going back to Privet Drive for Christmas. Professor
McGonagall had come around the week before, making a list of students who would be
staying for the holidays, and Harry had signed up at once. He didn’t feel sorry for
himself at all; this would probably be the best Christmas he’d ever had. Ron and his
brothers were staying, too, because Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were going to Romania to
visit Charlie.
When they left the dungeons at the end of Pot ions, they found a large fir t ree
blocking the corridor ahead. Two enormous feet st icking out at the bot tom and a loud
puffing sound told them that Hagrid was behind it.
“Hi, Hagrid, want any help?” Ron asked, sticking his head through the branches.
“Nah, I’m all right, thanks, Ron.”
“Would you mind moving out of the way?” came Malfoys cold drawl from behind
them.
“Are you t rying to earn some ext ra money, Weasley?Hoping to be gamekeeper
yourself when you leave Hogwarts, I suppose – that hut of Hagrid’s must seem like a
palace compared to what your family’s used to.”
Ron dived at Malfoy just as Snape came up the stairs. “WEASLEY!”
Ron let go of the front of Malfoy’s robes.
“He was provoked, Professor Snape,” said Hagrid, st icking his huge hairy face
out from behind the tree. “Malfoy was insultin’ his family.”
“Be that as it may, f ight ing is against Hogwarts rules, Hagrid,” said Snape
silkily. “Five points f rom Gryffindor, Weasley, and be grateful it isn’t more. Move
along, all of you.”
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle pushed roughly past the t ree, scat tering needles
everywhere and smirking.
“I’ll get him, ” said Ron, grinding his teeth at Malfoy’s back, “one of these days,
I’ll get him -”
“I hate them both,” said Harry, “Malfoy and Snape.”
“Come on, cheer up, it ‘s nearly Christmas,” said Hagrid. “Tell yeh what , come
with me an’ see the Great Hall, looks a treat.”
So the three of them followed Hagrid and his t ree off to – the Great Hall,
where Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick were busy with the Christmas
decorations.
“Ah, Hagrid, the last tree – put it in the far corner, would you?”
The hall looked spectacular. Festoons of holly and mist letoe hung all around
the walls, and no less than twelve towering Christmas t rees stood around the room,
some sparkling with tiny icicles, some glittering with hundreds of candles.
“How many days you got left until yer holidays?” Hagrid asked.
“Just one,” said Hermione. “And that reminds me – Harry, Ron, we’ve got half an
hour before lunch, we should be in the library.”
“Oh yeah, you’re right ,” said Ron, tearing his eyes away from Professor Flitwick,
who had golden bubbles blossoming out of his wand and was t railing them over the
branches of the new tree.
“The library?” said Hagrid, following them out of the hall. “Just before the
holidays? Bit keen, aren’t yeh?”
“Oh, we’re not working,” Harry told him bright ly. “Ever since you ment ioned
Nicolas Flamel we’ve been t rying to f ind out who he is.”
“You what?” Hagrid looked shocked. “Listen here – I’ve told yeh – drop it . It ‘s
nothin’ to you what that dog’s guardin’.”
“We just want to know who Nicolas Flamel is, that’s all,” said Hermione.
“Unless you’d like to tell us and save us the t rouble?” Harry added. “We must ‘ve
been through hundreds of books already and we can’t find him anywhere – j ust give us
a hint – I know I’ve read his name somewhere.”
“I’m sayin’ nothin, said Hagrid flatly.
“Just have to find out for ourselves, then,” said Ron, and they lef t Hagrid
looking disgrunt led and hurried off to the library. They had indeed been searching
books for Flamel’s name ever since Hagrid had let it slip, because how else were they
going to find out what Snape was t rying to steal? The t rouble was, it was very hard to
know where to begin, not knowing what Flamel might have done to get himself into a
book. He wasn’t in Great Wizards of the Twentieth Century, or Notable Magical Names
of Our Time; he was missing, too, from Import ant Modern Magical Discoveries, and A
St udy of Recent Development s in Wizardry. And then, of course, there was the sheer
size of the library; tens of thousands of books; thousands of shelves; hundreds of
narrow rows. Hermione took out a list of subj ects and t it les she had decided to search
while Ron st rode off down a row of books and started pulling them off the shelves at
random. Harry wandered over to the Rest ricted Sect ion. He had been wondering for a
while if Flamel wasn’t somewhere in there. Unfortunately, you needed a specially
signed note f rom one of the teachers to look in any of the rest ricted books, and he
knew he’d never get one. These were the books containing powerful Dark Magic never
taught at Hogwarts, and only read by older students studying advanced Defense
Against the Dark Arts.
“What are you looking for, boy?”
“Nothing,” said Harry.
Madam Pince the librarian brandished a feather duster at him. “You’d better get
out, then. Go on – out!”
Wishing he’d been a bit quicker at thinking up some story, Harry lef t the
library. He, Ron, and Hermione had already agreed they’d bet ter not ask Madam Pince
where they could find Flamel. They were sure she’d be able to tell them, but they
couldn’t risk Snape hearing what they were up to.
Harry waited outside in the corridor to see if the other two had found anything,
but he wasn’t very hopeful. They had been looking for two weeks, after A, but as they
only had odd moments between lessons it wasn’t surprising they’d found nothing. What
they really needed was a nice long search without Madam Pince breathing down their
necks. Five minutes later, Ron and Hermione j oined him, shaking their heads. They
went off to lunch.
“You will keep looking while I’m away, won’t you?” said Hermione. “And send me
an owl if you find anything.”
“And you could ask your parents if they know who Flamel is,” said Ron. “It ‘d be
safe to ask them.”
“Very safe, as they’re both dentists,” said Hermione.
Once the holidays had started, Ron and Harry were having too good a t ime to
think much about Flamel. They had the dormitory to themselves and the common
room was far empt ier than usual, so they were able to get the good armchairs by the
fire. They sat by the hour eat ing anything they could spear on a toast ing fork – bread,
English muf fins, marshmallows – and plot t ing ways of get t ing Malfoy expelled, which
were fun to talk about even if they wouldn’t work.
Ron also started teaching Harry wizard chess. This was exact ly like Muggle
chess except that the figures were alive, which made it a lot like direct ing t roops in
battle. Ron’s set was very old and battered. Like everything else he owned, it had once
belonged to someone else in his family – in this case, his grandfather. However, old
chessmen weren’t a drawback at all. Ron knew them so well he never had t rouble
getting them to do what he wanted.
Harry played with chessmen Seamus Finnigan had lent him, and they didn’t
t rust him at all. He wasn’t a very good player yet and they kept shout ing different bit s
of advice at him, which was confusing. “Don’t send me there, can’t you see his knight?
Send him, we can afford to lose him.”
On Christmas Eve, Harry went to bed looking forward to the next day for the
food and the fun, but not expect ing any presents at all. When he woke early in the
morning, however, the first thing he saw was a small pile of packages at the foot of his
bed.
“Merry Christmas,” said Ron sleepily as Harry scrambled out of bed and pulled
on his bathrobe.
“You, too,” said Harry. “Will you look at this? I’ve got some presents!”
“What did you expect , turnips?” said Ron, turning to his own pile, which was a
lot bigger than Harry’s.
Harry picked up the top parcel. It was wrapped in thick brown paper and
scrawled across it was To Harry, from Hagrid. Inside was a roughly cut wooden flute.
Hagrid had obviously whittled it himself. Harry blew it – it sounded a bit like an owl.
A second, very small parcel contained a note.
We received your message and enclose your Christmas present.
From Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia.
Taped to the note was a fifty-pence piece. “That’s friendly,” said Harry.
Ron was fascinated by the fifty pence.
“Weird!” he said, “What a shape! This is money?”
“You can keep it ,” said Harry, laughing at how pleased Ron was. “Hagrid and my
aunt and uncle – so who sent these?”
“I think I know who that one’s from,” said Ron, turning a bit pink and pointing to
a very lumpy parcel. “My mom. I told her you didn’t expect any present s and –oh, no,”
he groaned, “she’s made you a Weasley sweater.”
Harry had torn open the parcel to find a thick, hand-knitted sweater in emerald
green and a large box of homemade fudge.
“Every year she makes us a sweater,” said Ron, unwrapping his own, “and mine’s
always maroon.”
“That’s really nice of her,” said Harry, trying the fudge, which was very tasty.
His next present also contained candy – a large box of Chocolate Frogs from
Hermione. This only left one parcel. Harry picked it up and felt it. It was very light. He
unwrapped it. Something fluid and silvery gray went slithering to the floor where it lay
in gleaming folds. Ron gasped.
“I’ve heard of those,” he said in a hushed voice, dropping the box of Every
Flavor Beans he’d got ten from Hermione. “If that ‘s what I think it is – they’re really
rare, and really valuable.”
“What is it?”
Harry picked the shining, silvery cloth off the floor. It was strange to the touch,
like water woven into material.
“It’s an invisibility cloak,” said Ron, a look of awe on his face. “I’m sure it is – try
it on.”
Harry threw the cloak around his shoulders and Ron gave a yell.
“It is! Look down!”
Harry looked down at his feet , but they were gone. He dashed to the mirror.
Sure enough, his reflect ion looked back at him, j ust his head suspended in midair, his
body completely invisible. He pulled the cloak over his head and his ref lect ion
vanished completely.
“There’s a note!” said Ron suddenly. “A note fell out of it!”
Harry pulled off the cloak and seized the let ter. Writ ten in narrow, loopy
writing he had never seen before were the following words:
Your father left this in my possession before he died. It is time it was returned
to you. Use it well. A Very Merry Christmas to you.
There was no signature. Harry stared at the note. Ron was admiring the cloak.
“I’d give anything for one of these,” he said. “Anything. What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” said Harry. He felt very st range. Who had sent the cloak? Had it
really once belonged to his father? Before he could say or think anything else, the
dormitory door was f lung open and Fred and George Weasley bounded in. Harry
stuf fed the cloak quickly out of sight . He didn’t feel like sharing it with anyone else
yet.
“Merry Christmas!”
“Hey, look – Harry’s got a Weasley sweater, too!”
Fred and George were wearing blue sweaters, one with a large yellow F on it ,
the other a G.
“Harry’s is better than ours, though,” said Fred, holding up Harry’s sweater. “She
obviously makes more of an effort if you’re not family.”
“Why aren’t you wearing yours, Ron?” George demanded. “Come on, get it on,
they’re lovely and warm.”
“I hate maroon,” Ron moaned halfheartedly as he pulled it over his head.
“You haven’t got a let ter on yours,” George observed. “I suppose she thinks you
don’t forget your name. But we’re not stupid – we know we’re called Gred and Forge.”
“What ‘s all this noise?” Percy Weasley stuck his head through the door, looking
disapproving. He had clearly got ten halfway through unwrapping his presents as he,
too, carried a lumpy sweater over his arm, which Fred seized.
“P for prefect ! Get it on, Percy, come on, we’re all wearing ours, even Harry
got one.”
“I – don’t – want said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the sweater over his
head, knocking his glasses askew.
“And you’re not sit t ing with the prefects today, either,” said George. “Christmas
is a t ime for family.” They frog-marched Percy f rom the room, his arms pinned to his
side by his sweater..Harry had never in all his life had such a Christmas dinner. A
hundred fat , roast turkeys; mountains of roast and boiled potatoes; plat ters of
chipolatas; tureens of but tered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry
sauce – and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table. These fantast ic
party favors were nothing like the feeble Muggle ones the Dursleys usually bought ,
with their lit t le plast ic toys and their flimsy paper hats inside. Harry pulled a wizard
cracker with Fred and it didn’t j ust bang, it went of f with a blast like a cannon and
engulfed them all in a cloud of blue smoke, while from the inside exploded a rear
admiral’s hat and several live, white mice. Up at the High Table, Dumbledore had
swapped his pointed wizard’s hat for a flowered bonnet, and was chuckling merrily at a
j oke Professor Flitwick had j ust read him. Flaming Christmas puddings followed the
turkey. Percy nearly broke his teeth on a silver sickle embedded in his slice. Harry
watched Hagrid get t ing redder and redder in the face as he called for more wine,
finally kissing Professor McGonagall on the cheek, who, to Harry’s amazement , giggled
and blushed, her top hat lopsided. When Harry finally lef t the table, he was laden
down with a stack of things out of the crackers, including a pack of non-explodable,
luminous balloons, a Grow-Your-Own-Warts kit, and his own new wizard chess set.
The white mice had disappeared and Harry had a nasty feeling they were going
to end up as Mrs. Norris’s Christmas dinner. Harry and the Weasleys spent a happy
afternoon having a furious snowball fight on the grounds. Then, cold, wet , and gasping
for breath, they returned to the fire in the Gryffindor common room, where Harry
broke in his new chess set by losing spectacularly to Ron. He suspected he wouldn’t
have lost so badly if Percy hadn’t tried to help him so much.
After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, t rifle, and Christmas cake,
everyone felt too full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy
chase Fred and George all over Gryf findor tower because they’d stolen his prefect
badge.
It had been Harry’s best Christmas day ever. Yet something had been nagging at
the back of his mind all day. Not unt il he climbed into bed was he free to think about
it : the invisibility cloak and whoever had sent it . Ron, full of turkey and cake and with
nothing mysterious to bother him, fell asleep almost as soon as he’d drawn the curtains
of his four-poster. Harry leaned over the side of his own bed and pulled the cloak out
from under it.
His father’s… this had been his father’s. He let the material flow over his
hands, smoother than silk, light as air. Use it well, the note had said.
He had to t ry it , now. He slipped out of bed and wrapped the cloak around
himself. Looking down at his legs, he saw only moonlight and shadows. It was a very
funny feeling. Use it well. Suddenly, Harry felt wide-awake. The whole of Hogwarts
was open to him in this cloak. Excitement flooded through him as he stood there in the
dark and silence. He could go anywhere in this, anywhere, and Filch would never
know.
Ron grunted in his sleep. Should Harry wake him? Something held him back – his
father’s cloak – he felt that this time – the first time – he wanted to use it alone.
He crept out of the dormitory, down the stairs, across the common room, and
climbed through the portrait hole.
“Who’s there?” squawked the Fat Lady.
Harry said nothing. He walked quickly down the corridor. Where should he go?
He stopped, his heart racing, and thought . And then it came to him. The Rest ricted
Sect ion in the library. He’d be able to read as long as he liked, as long as it took to
find out who Flamel was.
He set off, drawing the invisibility cloak tight around him as he walked.
The library was pitch-black and very eerie. Harry lit a lamp to see his way
along the rows of books. The lamp looked as if it was f loat ing along in midair, and
even though Harry could feel his arm supporting it, the sight gave him the creeps.
The Rest ricted Sect ion was right at the back of the library. Step ping carefully
over the rope that separated these books from the rest of the library, he held up his
lamp to read the t it les. They didn’t tell him much. Their peeling faded gold let ters
spelled words in languages Harry couldn’t understand. Some had no t it le at all. One
book had a dark stain on it that looked horribly like blood. The hairs on the back of
Harry’s neck prickled. Maybe he was imagining it , maybe not , but he thought a faint
whispering was coming from the books, as though they knew someone was there who
shouldn’t be. He had to start somewhere. Setting the lamp down carefully on the floor,
he looked along the bot tom shelf for an interest ing looking book. A large black and
silver volume caught his eye. He pulled it out with diff iculty, because it was very
heavy, and, balancing it on his knee, let it fall open.
A piercing, bloodcurdling shriek split the silence – the book was screaming!
Harry snapped it shut , but the shriek went on and on, one high, unbroken, earsplit t ing
note. He stumbled backward and knocked over his lamp, which went out at once.
Panicking, he heard footsteps coming down the corridor outside – stuffing the shrieking
book back on the shelf, he ran for it. He passed Filch in the doorway; Filch’s pale, wild
eyes looked straight through him, and Harry slipped under Filch’s outstretched arm and
streaked off up the corridor, the book’s shrieks still ringing in his ears.
He came to a sudden halt in front of a tall suit of armor. He had been so busy
get t ing away f rom the library, he hadn’t paid at tent ion to where.he was going.
Perhaps because it was dark, he didn’t recognize where he was at all. There was a suit
of armor near the kitchens, he knew, but he must be five floors above there.
“You asked me to come direct ly to you, Professor, if anyone was wandering
around at night, and somebody’s been in the library Restricted Section.”
Harry felt the blood drain out of his face. Wherever he was, Filch must know a
shortcut , because his sof t , greasy voice was get t ing nearer, and to his horror, it was
Snape who replied, “The Restricted Section? Well, they can’t be far, we’ll catch them.”
Harry stood rooted to the spot as Filch and Snape came around the corner
ahead. They couldn’t see him, of course, but it was a narrow corridor and if they came
much nearer they’d knock right into him – the cloak didn’t stop him from being solid.
He backed away as quiet ly as he could. A door stood aj ar to his left . It was his
only hope. He squeezed through it, holding his breath, trying not to move it, and to his
relief he managed to get inside the room without their not icing anything. They walked
st raight past , and Harry leaned against the wall, breathing deeply, listening to their
footsteps dying away. That had been close, very close. It was a few seconds before he
noticed anything about the room he had hidden in.
It looked like an unused classroom. The dark shapes of desks and chairs were
piled against the walls, and there was an upturned wastepaper basket – but propped
against the wall facing him was something that didn’t look as if it belonged there,
something that looked as if someone had just put it there to keep it out of the way.
It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold f rame,
standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top:
Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.
His panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and Snape, Harry moved
nearer to the mirror, want ing to look at himself but see no reflect ion again. He
stepped in front of it . He had to clap his hands to his mouth to stop himself from
screaming. He whirled around. His heart was pounding far more furiously than when
the book had screamed – for he had seen not only himself in the mirror, but a whole
crowd of people standing right behind him.
But the room was empty. Breathing very fast , he turned slowly back to the
mirror. There he was, reflected in it , white and scared-looking, and there, ref lected
behind him, were at least ten others. Harry looked over his shoulder – but st ill, no one
was there. Or were they all invisible, too? Was he in fact in a room full of invisible
people and this mirror’s t rick was that it ref lected them, invisible or not?He looked in
the mirror again. A woman standing right behind his ref lect ion was smiling at him and
waving. He reached out a hand and felt the air behind him. If she was really there,
he’d touch her, their reflect ions were so close together, but he felt only air – he and
the others existed only in the mirror. She was a very pret ty woman. She had dark red
hair and her eyes – her eyes are j ust like mine, Harry thought , edging a lit t le closer to
the glass. Bright green – exact ly the same shape, but then he not iced that she was
crying; smiling, but crying at the same t ime. The tall, thin, black-haired man standing
next to her put his arm around her. He wore glasses, and his hair was very unt idy. It
stuck up at the back, j ust as Harry’s did. Harry was so close to the mirror now that his
nose was nearly touching that of his reflection.
“Mom?” he whispered. “Dad?”
They just looked at him, smiling. And slowly, Harry looked into the faces of the
other people in the mirror, and saw other pairs of green eyes like his, other noses like
his, even a lit t le old man who looked as though he had Harry’s knobbly knees – Harry
was looking at his family, for the first time in his life.
The Potters smiled and waved at Harry and he stared hungrily back at them, his
hands pressed flat against the glass as though he was hoping to fall right through it and
reach them. He had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half j oy, half terrible sadness.
How long he stood there, he didn’t know. The reflect ions did not fade and he looked
and looked unt il a distant noise brought him back to his senses. He couldn’t stay here,
he had to find his way back to bed. He tore his eyes away from his mother’s face,
whispered, “I’ll come back,” and hurried from the room.
“You could have woken me up,” said Ron, crossly.
“You can come tonight , I’m going back, I want to show you the mirror. “I’d like
to see your mom and dad,” Ron said eagerly.
“And I want to see all your family, all the Weasleys, you’ll be able to show me
your other brothers and everyone.”
“You can see them any old t ime,” said Ron. “Just come round my house this
summer. Anyway, maybe it only shows dead people. Shame about not finding Flamel,
though. Have some bacon or something, why aren’t you eating anything?”
Harry couldn’t eat . He had seen his parents and would be seeing them again
tonight . He had almost forgot ten about Flamel. It didn’t seem very important
anymore. Who cared what the three headed dog was guarding?What did it mat ter if
Snape stole it, really?
“Are you all right?” said Ron. “You look odd.”
What Harry feared most was that he might not be able to find the mirror room
again. With Ron covered in the cloak, too, they had to walk much more slowly the
next night . They t ried ret racing Harry’s route f rom the library, wandering around the
dark passageways for nearly an hour.
“I’m freezing,” said Ron. “Let’s forget it and go back.”
“No!” Harry hissed. I know it’s here somewhere.”
They passed the ghost of a tall witch gliding in the opposite direct ion, but saw
no one else. j ust as Ron started moaning that his feet were dead with cold, Harry
spotted the suit of armor. “It’s here – just here – yes!”
They pushed the door open. Harry dropped the cloak from around his shoulders
and ran to the mirror. There they were. His mother and father beamed at the sight of
him.
“See?” Harry whispered.
“I can’t see anything.”
“Look! Look at them all… there are loads of them….”
“I can only see you.”
“Look in it properly, go on, stand where I am.”
Harry stepped aside, but with Ron in front of the mirror, he couldn’t see his
family anymore, just Ron in his paisley pajamas. Ron, though, was staring transfixed at
his image.
“Look at me!” he said. “Can you see all your family standing around you?”
“No – I’m alone – but I’m different – I look older – and I’m head boy!”
“What?”
“I am – I’m wearing the badge like Bill used to – and I’m holding the house cup
and the Quidditch cup – I’m Quidditch captain, too.” Ron tore his eyes away from this
splendid sight to look excitedly at Harry.
“Do you think this mirror shows the future?”
“How can it? All my family are dead – let me have another look -”
“You had it to yourself all last night, give me a bit more time.”
“You’re only holding the Quiddit ch cup, what ‘s interest ing about that? I want to
see my parents.”
“Don’t push me -”
A sudden noise outside in the corridor put an end to their discussion. They
hadn’t realized how loudly they had been talking.
“Quick!”
Ron threw the cloak back over them as the luminous eyes of Mrs. Norris came
round the door. Ron and Harry stood quite st ill, both thinking the same thing – did the
cloak work on cats? After what seemed an age, she turned and left.
“This isn’t safe – she might have gone for Filch, I bet she heard us. Come on.”
And Ron pulled Harry out of the room. The snow st ill hadn’t melted the next
morning.
“Want to play chess, Harry?” said Ron.
“No.”
“Why don’t we go down and visit Hagrid?”
“No … You go…”
“I know what you’re thinking about, Harry, that mirror. Don’t go back tonight.”
“Why not?”
“I dunno, I’ve j ust got a bad feeling about it – and anyway, you’ve had too many
close shaves already. Filch, Snape, and Mrs. Norris are wandering around. So what if
they can’t see you? What if they walk into you? What if you knock something over?”
“You sound like Hermione.”
“I’m serious, Harry, don’t go.”
But Harry only had one thought in his head, which was to get back in front of
the mirror, and Ron wasn’t going to stop him. That third night he found his way more
quickly than before. He was walking so fast he knew he was making more noise than
was wise, but he didn’t meet anyone. And there were his mother and father smiling at
him again, and one of his grandfathers nodding happily. Harry sank down to sit on the
floor in front of the mirror. There was nothing to stop him from staying here all night
with his family. Nothing at all. Except –
“So – back again, Harry?”
Harry felt as though his insides had turned to ice. He looked behind him. Sitting
on one of the desks by the wall was none other than Albus Dumbledore. Harry must
have walked st raight past him, so desperate to get to the mirror he hadn’t not iced
him.
” – I didn’t see you, sir.”
“St range how nearsighted being invisible can make you,” said Dumbledore, and
Harry was relieved to see that he was smiling.
“So,” said Dumbledore, slipping off the desk to sit on the floor with Harry, “you,
like hundreds before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised.”
“I didn’t know it was called that, Sir.”
“But I expect you’ve realized by now what it does?”
“It – well – it shows me my family -”
“And it showed your friend Ron himself as head boy.”
“How did you know -?”
“I don’t need a cloak to become invisible,” said Dumbledore gent ly. “Now, can
you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?”
Harry shook his head.
“Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of
Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exact ly as he
is. Does that help?”
Harry thought . Then he said slowly, “It shows us what we want … whatever we
want…”
“Yes and no,” said Dumbledore quiet ly. “It shows us nothing more or less than
the deepest , most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your
family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been
overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them.
However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge nor t ruth. Men have wasted away
before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what
it shows is real or even possible.
“The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to
go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it , you will now be prepared. It does
not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that . Now, why don’t you put
that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed?”
Harry stood up.
“Sir – Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?”
“Obviously, you’ve j ust done so,” Dumbledore smiled. “You may ask me one
more thing, however.”
“What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
“I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.”
Harry stared.
“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has
come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
It was only when he was back in bed that it st ruck Harry that Dumbledore
might not have been quite t ruthful. But then, he thought , as he shoved Scabbers off
his pillow, it had been quite a personal question.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN – NICOLAS FLAMEL
Dumbledore had convinced Harry not to go looking for the Mirror of Erised
again, and for the rest of the Christmas holidays the invisibility cloak stayed folded at
the bot tom of his t runk. Harry wished he could forget what he’d seen in the mirror as
easily, but he couldn’t. He started having nightmares. Over and over again he dreamed
about his parents disappearing in a flash of green light, while a high voice cackled with
laughter.
“You see, Dumbledore was right , that mirror could drive you mad,” said Ron,
when Harry told him about these dreams. Hermione, who came back the day before
term started, took a different view of things. She was torn between horror at the idea
of Harry being out of bed, roaming the school three nights in a row (“If Filch had
caught you!”), and disappointment that he hadn’t at least found out who Nicolas
Flamel was.
They had almost given up hope of ever finding Flamel in a library book, even
though Harry was st ill sure he’d read the name somewhere. Once term had started,
they were back to skimming through books for ten minutes during their breaks. Harry
had even less time than the other two, because Quidditch practice had started again.
Wood was working the team harder than ever. Even the endless rain that had
replaced the snow couldn’t dampen his spirits. The Weasleys complained that Wood
was becoming a fanat ic, but Harry was on Wood’s side. If they won their next match,
against Hufflepuf f, they would overtake Slytherin in the house championship for the
first t ime in seven years. Quite apart from want ing to win, Harry found that he had
fewer nightmares when he was tired out after training.
Then, during one part icularly wet and muddy pract ice session, Wood gave the
team a bit of bad news. He’d j ust got ten very angry with the.Weasleys, who kept divebombing
each other and pretending to fall off their brooms.
“Will you stop messing around!” he yelled. “That ‘s exact ly the sort of thing
that ‘ll lose us the match! Snape’s refereeing this t ime, and he’ll be looking for any
excuse to knock points off Gryffindor!”
George Weasley really did fall off his broom at these words. “Snape’s
refereeing?” he splut tered through a mouthful of mud. “When’s he ever refereed a
Quidditch match? He’s not going to be fair if we might overtake Slytherin.”
The rest of the team landed next to George to complain, too.
“It ‘s not my fault ,” said Wood. “We’ve j ust got to make sure we play a clean
game, so Snape hasn’t got an excuse to pick on us.”
Which was all very well, thought Harry, but he had another reason for not
want ing Snape near him while he was playing Quidditch…. The rest of the team hung
back to talk to one another as usual at the end of pract ice, but Harry headed st raight
back to the Gryffindor common room, where he found Ron and Hermione playing
chess. Chess was the only thing Hermione ever lost at , something Harry and Ron
thought was very good for her.
“Don’t talk to me for a moment ,” said Ron when Harry sat down next to him, “I
need to concen -” He caught sight of Harry’s face. “What ‘s the mat ter with you? You
look terrible.”
Speaking quiet ly so that no one else would hear, Harry told the other two
about Snape’s sudden, sinister desire to be a Quidditch referee.
“Don’t play,” said Hermione at once.
“Say you’re ill,” said Ron.
“Pretend to break your leg,” Hermione suggested.
“Really break your leg,” said Ron.
“I can’t ,” said Harry. “There isn’t a reserve Seeker. If I back out , Gryffindor can’t
play at all.”
At that moment Neville toppled into the common room. How he had managed
to climb through the port rait hole was anyone’s guess, because his legs had been stuck
together with what they recognized at once as the Leg-Locker Curse. He must have
had to bunny hop all the way up to Gryffindor tower.
Everyone fell over laughing except Hermione, who leapt up and performed the
counter curse. Neville’s legs sprang apart and he got to his feet, trembling.
“What happened?” Hermione asked him, leading him over to sit with Harry and
Ron..”Malfoy,” said Neville shakily. “I met him outside the library. He said he’d been
looking for someone to practice that on.”
“Go to Professor McGonagall!” Hermione urged Neville. “Report him!”
Neville shook his head.
“I don’t want more trouble,” he mumbled.
“You’ve got to stand up to him, Neville!” said Ron. “He’s used to walking all over
people, but that’s no reason to lie down in front of him and make it easier.”
“There’s no need to tell me I’m not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy’s
already done that,” Neville choked out. Harry felt in the pocket of his robes and pulled
out a Chocolate Frog, the very last one from the box Hermione had given him for
Christmas. He gave it to Neville, who looked as though he might cry.
“You’re worth twelve of Malfoy,” Harry said. “The Sort ing Hat chose you for
Gryffindor, didn’t it? And where’s Malfoy? In stinking Slytherin.”
Neville’s lips twitched in a weak smile as he unwrapped the frog.
“Thanks, Harry… I think I’ll go to bed…. D’you want the card, you collect them,
don’t you?”
As Neville walked away, Harry looked at the Famous Wizard card.
“Dumbledore again,” he said, “He was the first one I ever-”
He gasped. He stared at the back of the card. Then he looked up at Ron and
Hermione.
“I’ve found him!” he whispered. “I’ve found Flamel! I told you I’d read the name
somewhere before, I read it on the t rain coming here – listen to this: ‘Dumbledore is
part icularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the
discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his
partner, Nicolas Flamel’!”
Hermione j umped to her feet . She hadn’t looked so excited since they’d got ten
back the marks for their very first piece of homework.
“Stay there!” she said, and she sprinted up the stairs to the girls’ dormitories.
Harry and Ron barely had t ime to exchange myst ified looks before she was dashing
back, an enormous old book in her arms. “I never thought to look in here!” she
whispered excitedly. “I got this out of the library weeks ago for a bit of light reading.”
“Light?” said Ron, but Hermione told him to be quiet unt il she’d looked
something up, and started flicking f rant ically through the pages, mut tering to herself.
At last she found what she was looking for. “I knew it! I knew it!”
“Are we allowed to speak yet?” said Ron grumpily. Hermione ignored him.
“Nicolas Flamel,” she whispered dramat ically, “is the only known maker of the
Sorcerer’s Stone!”
This didn’t have quite the effect she’d expected. “The what?” said Harry and
Ron.
“Oh, honestly, don’t you two read? Look – read that, there.”
She pushed the book toward them, and Harry and Ron read:
The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the
Sorcerer’s Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The
stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir
of Life, which will make the drinker immortal.
There have been many reports of the Sorcerer’s Stone over the
centuries, but the only Stone current ly in existence belongs to Mr.
Nicolas Flamel, the noted alchemist and opera lover. Mr. Flamel, who
celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enj oys a
quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight).
“See?” said Hermione, when Harry and Ron had finished. “The dog must be
guarding Flamel’s Sorcerer’s Stone! I bet he asked Dumbledore to keep it safe for him,
because they’re friends and he knew someone was after it , that ‘s why he wanted the
Stone moved out of Gringotts!”
“A stone that makes gold and stops you from ever dying!” said Harry. “No
wonder Snape’s after it! Anyone would want it.”
“And no wonder we couldn’t find Flamel in that St udy of Recent Development s
in Wizardry,” said Ron. “He’s not exact ly recent if he’s six hundred and sixty-five, is
he?”
The next morning in Defense Against the Dark Arts, while copying down
different ways of t reat ing werewolf bites, Harry and Ron were st ill discussing what
they’d do with a Sorcerer’s Stone if they had one. It wasn’t unt il Ron said he’d buy his
own Quidditch team that Harry remembered about Snape and the coming match.
“I’m going to play,” he told Ron and Hermione. “If I don’t , all the Slytherins will
think I’m j ust too scared to face Snape. I’ll show them… it ‘ll really wipe the smiles off
their faces if we win.”
“Just as long as we’re not wiping you off the field,” said Hermione.
As the match drew nearer, however, Harry became more and more nervous,
whatever he told Ron and Hermione. The rest of the team wasn’t too calm, either. The
idea of overtaking Slytherin in the house championship was wonderful, no one had
done it for seven years, but would they be allowed to, with such a biased referee?
Harry didn’t know whether he was imagining it or not , but he seemed to keep running
into Snape wherever he went . At t imes, he even wondered whether Snape was
following him, t rying to catch him on his own. Pot ions lessons were turning into a sort
of weekly torture, Snape was so horrible to Harry. Could Snape possibly know they’d
found out about the Sorcerer’s Stone? Harry didn’t see how he could – yet he
sometimes had the horrible feeling that Snape could read minds.
Harry knew, when they wished him good luck outside the locker rooms the next
afternoon, that Ron and Hermione were wondering whether they’d ever see him alive
again. This wasn’t what you’d call comforting. Harry hardly heard a word of Wood’s pep
talk as he pulled on his Quidditch robes and picked up his Nimbus Two Thousand.
Ron and Hermione, meanwhile, had found a place in the stands next to Neville,
who couldn’t understand why they looked so grim and worried, or why they had both
brought their wands to the match. Lit t le did Harry know that Ron and Hermione had
been secret ly pract icing the Leg-Locker Curse. They’d got ten the idea from Malfoy
using it on Neville, and were ready to use it on Snape if he showed any sign of wanting
to hurt Harry.
“Now, don’t forget , it ‘s Locomotor Mort is,” Hermione mut tered as Ron slipped
his wand up his sleeve.
“I know,” Ron snapped. “Don’t nag.”
Back in the locker room, Wood had taken Harry aside.
“Don’t want to pressure you, Potter, but if we ever need an early capture of the
Snitch it’s now. Finish the game before Snape can favor Hufflepuff too much.”
“The whole school’s out there!” said Fred Weasley, peering out of the door.
“Even – blimey – Dumbledore’s come to watch!”
Harry’s heart did a somersault .
“Dumbledore?” he said, dashing to the door to make sure. Fred was right . There
was no mistaking that silver beard. Harry could have laughed out loud with relief He
was safe. There was simply no way that Snape would dare to t ry to hurt him if
Dumbledore was watching.
Perhaps that was why Snape was looking so angry as the teams marched onto
the field, something that Ron noticed, too.
“I’ve never seen Snape look so mean,” he told Hermione. “Look – they’re off …
Ouch!”
Someone had poked Ron in the back of the head. It was Malfoy.
“Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn’t see you there.”
Malfoy grinned broadly at Crabbe and Goyle..”Wonder how long Pot ter’s going
to stay on his broom this time? Anyone want a bet? What about you, Weasley?”
Ron didn’t answer; Snape had j ust awarded Huff lepuf f a penalty because
George Weasley had hit a Bludger at him. Hermione, who had all her fingers crossed in
her lap, was squint ing fixedly at Harry, who was circling the game like a hawk, looking
for the Snitch.
“You know how I think they choose people for the Gryffindor team?” said Malfoy
loudly a few minutes later, as Snape awarded Hufflepuff another penalty for no reason
at all. “It ‘s people they feel sorry for. See, there’s Pot ter, who’s got no parents, then
there’s the Weasleys, who’ve got no money – you should be on the team, Longbot tom,
you’ve got no brains.”
Neville went bright red but turned in his seat to face Malfoy. “I’m worth twelve
of you, Malfoy,” he stammered.
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle howled with laughter, but Ron, st ill not daring to
take his eyes from the game, said, “You tell him, Neville.”
“Longbottom, if brains were gold you’d be poorer than Weasley, and that ‘s
saying something.”
Ron’s nerves were already st retched to the breaking point with anxiety about
Harry.
“I’m warning you, Malfoy – one more word …”
“Ron!” said Hermione suddenly, “Harry -”
“What? Where?”
Harry had suddenly gone into a spectacular dive, which drew gasps and cheers
from the crowd. Hermione stood up, her crossed fingers in her mouth, as Harry
streaked toward the ground like a bullet.
“You’re in luck, Weasley, Potter’s obviously spotted some money on the ground!”
said Malfoy.
Ron snapped. Before Malfoy knew what was happening, Ron was on top of him,
wrest ling him to the ground. Neville hesitated, then clambered over the back of his
seat to help.
“Come on, Harry!” Hermione screamed, leaping onto her seat to watch as Harry
sped straight at Snape – she didn’t even notice Malfoy and Ron rolling around under her
seat , or the scuff les and yelps coming from the whirl of fists that was Neville, Crabbe,
and Goyle.
Up in the air, Snape turned on his broomst ick j ust in t ime to see something
scarlet shoot past him, missing him by inches – the next second, Harry had pulled out
of the dive, his arm raised in t riumph, the Snitch clasped in his hand. The stands
erupted; it had to be a record, no one could ever remember the Snitch being caught so
quickly.
“Ron! Ron! Where are you? The game’s over! Harry’s won! We’ve won! Gryffindor
is in the lead!” shrieked Hermione, dancing up and down on her seat and hugging
Parvati Patil in the row in front.
Harry j umped off his broom, a foot from the ground. He couldn’t believe it .
He’d done it – the game was over; it had barely lasted five minutes. As Gryffindors
came spilling onto the field, he saw Snape land nearby, white-faced and t ight -lipped –
then Harry felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into Dumbledore’s smiling face.
“Well done,” said Dumbledore quiet ly, so that only Harry could hear. “Nice to
see you haven’t been brooding about that mirror… been keeping busy… excellent…”
Snape spat bitterly on the ground.
Harry left the locker room alone some t ime later, to take his Nimbus Two
Thousand back to the broomshed. He couldn’t ever remember feeling happier. He’d
really done something to be proud of now – no one could say he was j ust a famous
name any more. The evening air had never smelled so sweet . He walked over the
damp grass, reliving the last hour in his head, which was a happy blur: Gryffindors
running to lift him onto their shoulders; Ron and Hermione in the distance, jumping up
and down, Ron cheering through a heavy nosebleed. Harry had reached the shed. He
leaned against the wooden door and looked up at Hogwarts, with its windows glowing
red in the setting sun. Gryffindor in the lead. He’d done it, he’d shown Snape….
And speaking of Snape…
A hooded figure came swift ly down the front steps of the cast le. Clearly not
want ing to be seen, it walked as fast as possible toward the forbidden forest . Harry’s
victory faded from his mind as he watched. He recognized the figure’s prowling walk.
Snape, sneaking into the forest while everyone else was at dinner – what was going on?
Harry j umped back on his Nimbus Two Thousand and took off. Gliding silent ly over the
castle he saw Snape enter the forest at a run. He followed.
The t rees were so thick he couldn’t see where Snape had gone. He flew in
circles, lower and lower, brushing the top branches of t rees unt il he heard voices. He
glided toward them and landed noiselessly in a towering beech tree.
He climbed carefully along one of the branches, holding t ight to his
broomst ick, t rying to see through the leaves. Below, in a shadowy clearing, stood
Snape, but he wasn’t alone. Quirrell was there, too. Harry couldn’t make out the look
on his face, but he was stut tering worse than ever. Harry st rained to catch what they
were saying.
“… d-don’t know why you wanted t-t -to meet here of all p-places,.Severus…”
“Oh, I thought we’d keep this private,” said Snape, his voice icy.
“Students aren’t supposed to know about the Sorcerer’s Stone, after all.”
Harry leaned forward. Quirrell was mumbling something. Snape interrupted
him.
“Have you found out how to get past that beast of Hagrid’s yet?”
“B-b-but Severus, I -”
“You don’t want me as your enemy, Quirrell,” said Snape, taking a step toward
him.
“I-I don’t know what you
“You know perfectly well what I mean.”
An owl hooted loudly, and Harry nearly fell out of the tree. He steadied himself
in time to hear Snape say, “- your little bit of hocus-pocus. I’m waiting.”
“B-but I d-d-don’t -”
“Very well,” Snape cut in. “We’ll have another lit t le chat soon, when you’ve had
time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie.”
He threw his cloak over his head and st rode out of the clearing. It was almost
dark now, but Harry could see Quirrell, standing quite still as though he was petrified.
“Harry, where have you been?” Hermione squeaked.
“We won! You won! We won!” shouted Ron, thumping Harry on the back. “And I
gave Malfoy a black eye, and Neville t ried to take on Crabbe and Goyle single-handed!
He’s st ill out cold but Madam Pomftey says he’ll be all right – talk about showing
Slytherin! Everyone’s wait ing for you in the common room, we’re having a party, Fred
and George stole some cakes and stuff from the kitchens.”
“Never mind that now,” said Harry breathlessly. “Let ‘s find an empty room, you
wait ’til you hear this….”
He made sure Peeves wasn’t inside before shut t ing the door behind them, then
he told them what he’d seen and heard.
“So we were right, it is the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Snape’s trying to force Quirrell
to help him get it . He asked if he knew how to get past Fluf fy – and he said something
about Quirrell’s ‘ hocus pocus’ – I reckon there are other things guarding the stone
apart from Fluf fy, loads of enchantments, probably, and Quirrell would have done
some anti-Dark Arts spell that Snape needs to break through -”
“So you mean the Stone’s only safe as long as Quirrell stands up to Snape?” said
Hermione in alarm.
“It’ll be gone by next Tuesday,” said Ron.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN – NORBERT THE NORWEGIAN RIDGEBACK
Quirrell, however, must have been braver than they’d thought . In the weeks
that followed he did seem to be get t ing paler and thinner, but it didn’t look as though
he’d cracked yet . Every t ime they passed the third-f loor corridor, Harry, Ron, and
Hermione would press their ears to the door to check that Fluf fy was st ill growling
inside. Snape was sweeping about in his usual bad temper, which surely meant that
the Stone was st ill safe. Whenever Harry passed Quirrell these days he gave him an
encouraging sort of smile, and Ron had started telling people of f for laughing at
Quirrell’s stut ter. Hermione, however, had more on her mind than the Sorcerer’s
Stone. She had started drawing up study schedules and colorcoding all her notes. Harry
and Ron wouldn’t have minded, but she kept nagging them to do the same.
“Hermione, the exams are ages away.”
“Ten weeks,” Hermione snapped. “That’s not ages, that’s like a second to Nicolas
Flamel.”
“But we’re not six hundred years old,” Ron reminded her. “Anyway, what are
you studying for, you already know it A.”
“What am I studying for? Are you crazy? You realize we need to pass these
exams to get into the second year? They’re very important , I should have started
studying a month ago, I don’t know what’s gotten into me….”
Unfortunately, the teachers seemed to be thinking along the same lines as
Hermione. They piled so much homework on them that the Easter holidays weren’t
nearly as much fun as the Christmas ones. It was hard to relax with Hermione next to
you recit ing the twelve uses of dragon’s blood or pract icing wand movements. Moaning
and yawning, Harry and Ron spent most of their free t ime in the library with her,
trying to get through all their extra work.
“I’ll never remember this,” Ron burst out one afternoon, throwing down his quill
and looking longingly out of the library window. It was the first really f ine day they’d
had in months. The sky was a clear, forget-me-not blue, and there was a feeling in the
air of summer coming. Harry, who was looking up “Dit tany” in One Thousand Magical
Herbs and Fungi, didn’t look up unt il he heard Ron say, “Hagrid! What are you doing in
the library?”.
Hagrid shuffled into view, hiding something behind his back. He looked very out
of place in his moleskin overcoat.
“Jus’ lookin’,” he said, in a shif ty voice that got their interest at once. “An’
what ‘re you lot up ter?” He looked suddenly suspicious. “Yer not st ill lookin’ fer Nicolas
Flamel, are yeh?” “Oh, we found out who he is ages ago,” said Ron impressively. “And
we know what that dog’s guarding, it’s a Sorcerer’s St -”
“Shhhh!” Hagrid looked around quickly to see if anyone was listening.
“Don’ go shoutin’ about it, what’s the matter with yeh?”
“There are a few things we wanted to ask you, as a mat ter of fact ,” said Harry,
“about what’s guarding the Stone apart from Fluffy -”
“SHHHH!” said Hagrid again. “Listen – come an’ see me later, I’m not promisin’ I’ll
tell yeh anythin’, mind, but don’ go rabbit in’ about it in here, students aren’ s’pposed
ter know. They’ll think I’ve told yeh -”
“See you later, then,” said Harry.
Hagrid shuffled off.
“What was he hiding behind his back?” said Hermione thought fully. “Do you
think it had anything to do with the Stone?”
“I’m going to see what sect ion he was in,” said Ron, who’d had enough of
working. He came back a minute later with a pile of books in his arms and slammed
them down on the table.
“Dragons!” he whispered. “Hagrid was looking up stuff about dragons! Look at
these: Dragon Species of Great Britain and Ireland; From Egg to Inferno, A Dragon
Keeper’s Guide.”
“Hagrid’s always wanted a dragon, he told me so the first time I ever met him, ”
said Harry.
“But it ‘s against our laws,” said Ron. “Dragon breeding was out lawed by the
Warlocks’ Convent ion of 1709, everyone knows that . It ‘s hard to stop Muggles f rom
not icing us if we’re keeping dragons in the back garden – anyway, you can’t tame
dragons, it ‘s dangerous. You should see the burns Charlie’s got off wild ones in
Romania.”
“But there aren’t wild dragons in Britain?” said Harry.
“Of course there are,” said Ron. “Common Welsh Green and Hebridean Blacks.
The Minist ry of Magic has a j ob hushing them up, I can tell you. Our kind have to keep
putting spells on Muggles who’ve spotted them, to make them forget.”
“So what on earths Hagrid up to?” said Hermione. When they knocked on the
door of the gamekeeper’s hut an hour later, they were surprised to see that all the
curtains were closed. Hagrid.called
“Who is it?” before he let them in, and then shut the door quickly behind them.
It was st ifling hot inside. Even though it was such a warm day, there was a
blazing fire in the grate. Hagrid made them tea and offered them stoat sandwiches,
which they refused.
“So – yeh wanted to ask me somethin’?”
“Yes,” said Harry. There was no point beat ing around the bush. “We were
wondering if you could tell us what’s guarding the Sorcerer’s Stone apart from Fluffy.”
Hagrid frowned at him.
“O’ course I cant , he said. “Number one, I don’ know myself. Number two, yeh
know too much already, so I wouldn’ tell yeh if I could. That Stone’s here fer a good
reason. It was almost stolen out ta Gringot ts – I s’ppose yeh’ve worked that out an’ all?
Beats me how yeh even know abou’ Fluffy.”
“Oh, come on, Hagrid, you might not want to tell us, but you do know, you
know everything that goes on round here,” said Hermione in a warm, flat tering voice.
Hagrid’s beard twit ched and they could tell he was smiling. “We only wondered who
had done the guarding, really.” Hermione went on. “We wondered who Dumbledore
had trusted enough to help him, apart from you.”
Hagrid’s chest swelled at these last words. Harry and Ron beamed at Hermione.
“Well, I don’ s’pose it could hurt ter tell yeh that … let ‘s see… he borrowed
Fluf fy from me… then some o’ the teachers did enchantments… Professor Sprout –
Professor Flitwick – Professor McGonagall -” he t icked them off on his f ingers,
“Professor Quirrell – an’ Dumbledore himself did somethin’, o’ course. Hang on, I’ve
forgotten someone. Oh yeah, Professor Snape.”
“Snape?”
“Yeah – yer not st ill on abou’ that , are yeh? Look, Snape helped protect the
Stone, he’s not about ter steal it.”
Harry knew Ron and Hermione were thinking the same as he was. If Snape had
been in on protect ing the Stone, it must have been easy to f ind out how the other
teachers had guarded it . He probably knew everything – except , it seemed, Quirrell’s
spell and how to get past Fluffy.
“You’re the only one who knows how to get past Fluffy, aren’t you, Hagrid?” said
Harry anxiously. “And you wouldn’t tell anyone, would you? Not even one of the
teachers?”
“Not a soul knows except me an’ Dumbledore,” said Hagrid proudly.
“Well, that ‘s something,” Harry mut tered to the others. “Hagrid, can we have a
window open? I’m boiling.”
“Can’t , Harry, sorry,” said Hagrid. Harry not iced him glance at the fire. Harry
looked at it, too.
“Hagrid – what’s that?”
But he already knew what it was. In the very heart of the fire, underneath the
kettle, was a huge, black egg.
“Ah,” said Hagrid, fiddling nervously with his beard, “That’s er…”
“Where did you get it , Hagrid?” said Ron, crouching over the fire to get a closer
look at the egg. “It must’ve cost you a fortune.”
“Won it ,” said Hagrid. “Las’ night . I was down in the village havin’ a few drinks
an’ got into a game o’ cards with a st ranger. Think he was quite glad ter get rid of it ,
ter be honest.”
“But what are you going to do with it when it’s hatched?” said Hermione.
“Well, I’ve bin doin’ some readin’” , said Hagrid, pulling a large book from under
his pillow. “Got this out ta the library –Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Prof it – it ‘s a
bit out ta date, o’ course, but it ‘s all in here. Keep the egg in the fire, ’cause their
mothers breathe on I em, see, an’ when it hatches, feed it on a bucket o’ brandy mixed
with chicken blood every half hour. An’ see here – how ter recognize diff’rent eggs –
what I got there’s a Norwegian Ridgeback. They’re rare, them.”
He looked very pleased with himself, but Hermione didn’t. “Hagrid, you live in a
wooden house,” she said.
But Hagrid wasn’t listening. He was humming merrily as he stoked the fire. So
now they had something else to worry about : what might happen to Hagrid if anyone
found out he was hiding an illegal dragon in his hut.
“Wonder what it ‘s like to have a peaceful life,” Ron sighed, as evening after
evening they st ruggled through all the ext ra homework they were get t ing. Hermione
had now started making study schedules for Harry and Ron, too. It was driving them
nuts. Then, one breakfast t ime, Hedwig brought Harry another note from Hagrid. He
had written only two words: It’s hatching.
Ron wanted to skip Herbology and go st raight down to the hut . Hermione
wouldn’t hear of it.
“Hermione, how many times in our lives are we going to see a dragon hatching?”
“We’ve got lessons, we’ll get into t rouble, and that ‘s nothing to what Hagrid’s
going to be in when someone finds out what he’s doing -”
“Shut up!” Harry whispered..Malfoy was only a few feet away and he had
stopped dead to listen. How much had he heard?Harry didn’t like the look on Malfoy’s
face at all. Ron and Hermione argued all the way to Herbology and in the end,
Hermione agreed to run down to Hagrid’s with the other two during morning break.
When the bell sounded from the cast le at the end of their lesson, the three of them
dropped their t rowels at once and hurried through the grounds to the edge of the
forest. Hagrid greeted them, looking flushed and excited.
“It’s nearly out.” He ushered them inside.
The egg was lying on the table. There were deep cracks in it . Something was
moving inside; a funny clicking noise was coming from it . They all drew their chairs up
to the table and watched with bated breath.
All at once there was a scraping noise and the egg split open. The baby dragon
flopped onto the table. It wasn’t exact ly pret ty; Harry thought it looked like a
crumpled, black umbrella. Its spiny wings were huge compared to its skinny j et body,
it had a long snout with wide nost rils, the stubs of horns and bulging, orange eyes. It
sneezed. A couple of sparks flew out of its snout.
“Isn’t he beaut iful?” Hagrid murmured. He reached out a hand to st roke the
dragon’s head. It snapped at his fingers, showing pointed fangs. “Bless him, look, he
knows his mommy!” said Hagrid.
“Hagrid,” said Hermione, “how fast do Norwegian Ridgebacks grow, exactly?”
Hagrid was about to answer when the color suddenly drained from his face –he
leapt to his feet and ran to the window.
“What’s the matter?”
“Someone was lookin’ through the gap in the curtains – it ‘s a kid – he’s runnin’
back up ter the school.”
Harry bolted to the door and looked out . Even at a distance there was no
mistaking him.
Malfoy had seen the dragon.
Something about the smile lurking on Malfoy’s face during the next week made
Harry, Ron, and Hermione very nervous. They spent most of their free t ime in Hagrid’s
darkened hut, trying to reason with him.
“Just let him go,” Harry urged. “Set him free.”
“I can’t,” said Hagrid. “He’s too little. He’d die.”
They looked at the dragon. It had grown three t imes in length in j ust a week.
Smoke kept furling out of its nost rils. Hagrid hadn’t been doing his gamekeeping dut ies
because the dragon was keeping him so busy. There were empty brandy bot t les and
chicken feathers all over the floor.
“I’ve decided to call him Norbert ,” said Hagrid, looking at the dragon with misty
eyes. “He really knows me now, watch. Norbert! Norbert! Where’s Mommy?”
“He’s lost his marbles,” Ron muttered in Harry’s ear.
“Hagrid,” said Harry loudly, “give it two weeks and Norbert ‘s going to be as long
as your house. Malfoy could go to Dumbledore at any moment.”
Hagrid bit his lip.
“I – I know I can’t keep him forever, but I can’t jus’ dump him, I can’t.”
Harry suddenly turned to Ron. Charlie, he said.
“You’re losing it, too,” said Ron. “I’m Ron, remember?”
“No – Charlie – your brother, Charlie. In Romania. Studying dragons. We could
send Norbert to him. Charlie can take care of him and then put him back in the wild!”
“Brilliant!” said Ron. “How about it, Hagrid?”
And in the end, Hagrid agreed that they could send – an owl to Charlie to ask
him. The following week dragged by. Wednesday night found Hermione and Harry
sitting alone in the common room, long after everyone else had gone to bed. The clock
on the wall had just chimed midnight when the portrait hole burst open. Ron appeared
out of nowhere as he pulled off Harry’s invisibilit y cloak. He had been down at Hagrid’s
hut, helping him feed Norbert, who was now eating dead rats by the crate.
“It bit me!” he said, showing them his hand, which was wrapped in a bloody
handkerchief. “I’m not going to be able to hold a quill for a week. I tell you, that
dragon’s the most horrible animal I’ve ever met , but the way Hagrid goes on about it ,
you’d think it was a fluffy lit t le bunny rabbit . When it bit me he told me off for
frightening it. And when I left, he was singing it a lullaby.”
There was a tap on the dark window.
“It ‘s Hedwig!” said Harry, hurrying to let her in. “She’ll have Charlie’s answer!”
The three of them put their heads together to read the note.
Dear Ron,
How are you? Thanks for the let ter – I’d be glad to take the
Norwegian Ridgeback, but it won’t be easy get t ing him here. I think the
best thing will be to send him over with some f riends of mine who are
coming to visit me next week. Trouble is, they mustn’t be seen carrying
an illegal dragon.
Could you get the Ridgeback up the tallest tower at midnight on
Saturday? They can meet you there and take him away while it ‘s st ill
dark.
Send me an answer as soon as possible.
Love,
Charlie
They looked at one another.
“We’ve got the invisibility cloak,” said Harry. “It shouldn’t be too difficult – I
think the cloaks big enough to cover two of us and Norbert.”
It was a mark of how bad the last week had been that the other two agreed
with him. Anything to get rid of Norbert – and Malfoy. There was a hitch. By the next
morning, Ron’s bit ten hand had swollen to twice its usual size. He didn’t know whether
it was safe to go to Madam Pomfrey – would she recognize a dragon bite? By the
afternoon, though, he had no choice. The cut had turned a nasty shade of green. It
looked as if Norbert’s fangs were poisonous.
Harry and Hermione rushed up to the hospital wing at the end of the day to
find Ron in a terrible state in bed.
“It ‘s not j ust my hand,” he whispered, “although that feels like it ‘s about to fall
of f. Malfoy told Madam Pomfrey he wanted to borrow one of my books so he could
come and have a good laugh at me. He kept threatening to tell her what really bit me
– I’ve told her it was a dog, but I don’t think she believes me – I shouldn’t have hit him
at the Quidditch match, that’s why he’s doing this.”
Harry and Hermione tried to calm Ron down.
“It ‘ll all be over at midnight on Saturday,” said Hermione, but this didn’t soothe
Ron at all. On the contrary, he sat bolt upright and broke into a sweat.
“Midnight on Saturday!” he said in a hoarse voice. “Oh no oh no – I’ve j ust
remembered – Charlie’s let ter was in that book Malfoy took, he’s going to know we’re
getting rid of Norbert.”
Harry and Hermione didn’t get a chance to answer. Madam Pomfrey came over
at that moment and made them leave, saying Ron needed sleep.
“It ‘s too late to change the plan now,” Harry told Hermione. “We haven’t got
t ime to send Charlie another owl, and this could be our only chance to get rid of
Norbert . We’ll have to risk it . And we have got the invisibility cloak, Malfoy doesn’t
know about that.”
They found Fang, the boarhound, sit t ing out side with a bandaged tail when
they went to tell Hagrid, who opened a window to talk to them.
“I won’t let you in,” he puffed. “Norbert ‘s at a t ricky stage – nothin’ I can’t
handle.”
When they told him about Charlie’s let ter, his eyes filled with tears, although
that might have been because Norbert had just bitten him on the leg.
“Aargh! It ‘s all right , he only got my boot – j us’ playin’ – he’s only a baby, after
all.”
The baby banged its tail on the wall, making the windows rat t le. Harry and
Hermione walked back to the cast le feeling Saturday couldn’t come quickly enough.
They would have felt sorry for Hagrid when the t ime came for him to say good-bye to
Norbert if they hadn’t been so worried about what they had to do. It was a very dark,
cloudy night , and they were a bit late arriving at Hagrid’s hut because they’d had to
wait for Peeves to get out of their way in the ent rance hall, where he’d been playing
tennis against the wall. Hagrid had Norbert packed and ready in a large crate.
“He’s got lots o’ rats an’ some brandy fer the j ourney,” said Hagrid in a muffled
voice. “An’ I’ve packed his teddy bear in case he gets lonely.”
From inside the crate came ripping noises that sounded to Harry as though the
teddy was having his head torn off.
“Bye-bye, Norbert !” Hagrid sobbed, as Harry and Hermione covered the crate
with the invisibility cloak and stepped underneath it themselves. “Mommy will never
forget you!”
How they managed to get the crate back up to the cast le, they never knew.
Midnight ticked nearer as they heaved Norbert up the marble staircase in the entrance
hall and along the dark corridors. Up another staircase, then another – even one of
Harry’s shortcuts didn’t make the work much easier.
“Nearly there!” Harry panted as they reached the corridor beneath the tallest
tower.
Then a sudden movement ahead of them made them almost drop the crate.
Forget t ing that they were already invisible, they shrank into the shadows, staring at
the dark out lines of two people grappling with each other ten feet away. A lamp
flared. Professor McGonagall, in a tartan bathrobe and a hair net , had Malfoy by the
ear.
“Detent ion!” she shouted. “And twenty points f rom Slytherin! Wandering around
in the middle of the night, how dare you -”
“You don’t understand, Professor. Harry Potter’s coming – he’s got a dragon!”
“What utter rubbish! How dare you tell such lies! Come on – I shall see Professor
Snape about you, Malfoy!”
The steep spiral staircase up to the top of the tower seemed the easiest thing
in the world after that . Not unt il they’d stepped out into the cold night air did they
throw off the cloak, glad to be able to breathe properly again. Hermione did a sort of
jig.
“Malfoy’s got detention! I could sing!”
“Don’t,” Harry advised her.
Chuckling about Malfoy, they waited, Norbert thrashing about in his crate.
About ten minutes later, four broomst icks came swooping down out of the darkness.
Charlie’s friends were a cheery lot . They showed Harry and Hermione the harness
they’d rigged up, so they could suspend Norbert between them. They all helped buckle
Norbert safely into it and then Harry and Hermione shook hands with the others and
thanked them very much. At last , Norbert was going… going… gone. They slipped
back down the spiral staircase, their hearts as light astheir hands, now that Norbert
was off them. No more dragons – Malfoy in detent ion – what could spoil their
happiness?
The answer to that was wait ing at the foot of the stairs. As they stepped into
the corridor, Filch’s face loomed suddenly out of the darkness.
“Well, well, well,” he whispered, “we are in trouble.”
They’d left the invisibility cloak on top of the tower.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN – THE FORIBIDDEN FOREST
Things couldn’t have been worse. Filch took them down to Professor
McGonagall’s study on the first floor, where they sat and waited without saying a word
to each other. Hermione was t rembling. Excuses, alibis, and wild cover-up stories
chased each other around Harry’s brain, each more feeble than the last . He couldn’t
see how they were going to get out of t rouble this t ime. They were cornered. How
could they have been so stupid as to forget the cloak?
There was no reason on earth that Professor McGonagall would accept for their
being out of bed and creeping around the school in the dead of.night , let alone being
up the tallest ast ronomy tower, which was out -of-bounds except for classes. Add
Norbert and the invisibility cloak, and they might as well be packing their bags
already. Had Harry thought that things couldn’t have been worse? He was wrong. When
Professor McGonagall appeared, she was leading Neville.
“Harry!” Neville burst out , the moment he saw the other two. “I was t rying to
find you to warn you, I heard Malfoy saying he was going to catch you, he said you had
a drag -”
Harry shook his head violent ly to shut Neville up, but Professor McGonagall had
seen. She looked more likely to breathe fire than Norbert as she towered over the
three of them.
“I would never have believed it of any of you. Mr. Filch says you were up in the
astronomy tower. It’s one o’clock in the morning. Explain yourselves.”
It was the first t ime Hermione had ever failed to answer a teacher’s quest ion.
She was staring at her slippers, as still as a statue.
“I think I’ve got a good idea of what’s been going on,” said Professor McGonagall.
“It doesn’t take a genius to work it out . You fed Draco Malfoy some cock-and-bull story
about a dragon, t rying to get him out of bed and into t rouble. I’ve already caught him.
I suppose you think it ‘s funny that Longbot tom here heard the story and believed it ,
too?”
Harry caught Neville’s eye and t ried to tell him without words that this wasn’t
t rue, because Neville was looking stunned and hurt . Poor, blundering Neville – Harry
knew what it must have cost him to try and find them in the dark, to warn them.
“I’m disgusted,” said Professor McGonagall. “Four students out of bed in one
night ! I’ve never heard of such a thing before! You, Miss Granger, I thought you had
more sense. As for you, Mr. Pot ter, I thought Gryffindor meant more to you than this.
All three of you will receive detent ions – yes, you too, Mr. Longbot tom, nothing gives
you the right to walk around school at night , especially these days, it ‘s very dangerous
– and fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor.”
“Fifty?” Harry gasped – they would lose the lead, the lead he’d won in the last
Quidditch match.
“Fifty points each,” said Professor McGonagall, breathing heavily through her
long, pointed nose.
“Professor – please … you can’t -”
“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do, Pot ter. Now get back to bed, all of you.
I’ve never been more ashamed of Gryffindor students.”
A hundred and fifty points lost . That put Gryf findor in last place. In one night ,
they’d ruined any chance Gryffindor had had for the house.cup. Harry felt as though
the bot tom had dropped out of his stomach. How could they ever make up for this?
Harry didn’t sleep all night . He could hear Neville sobbing into his pillow for what
seemed like hours. Harry couldn’t think of anything to say to comfort him. He knew
Neville, like himself, was dreading the dawn. What would happen when the rest of
Gryffindor found out what they’d done?
At first , Gryffindors passing the giant hourglasses that recorded the house
points the next day thought there’d been a mistake. How could they suddenly have a
hundred and fifty points fewer than yesterday? And then the story started to spread:
Harry Pot ter, the famous Harry Pot ter, their hero of two Quidditch matches, had lo st
them all those points, him and a couple of other stupid first years.
From being one of the most popular and admired people at the school, Harry
was suddenly the most hated. Even Ravenclaws and Hufflepuf fs turned on him,
because everyone had been longing to see Slytherin lose the house cup. Everywhere
Harry went , people pointed and didn’t t rouble to lower their voices as they insulted
him. Slytherins, on the other hand, clapped as he walked past them, whist ling and
cheering, “Thanks Potter, we owe you one!”
Only Ron stood by him.
“They’ll all forget this in a few weeks. Fred and George have lost loads of points
in all the time they’ve been here, and people still like them.”
“They’ve never lost a hundred and fif ty points in one go, though, have they?”
said Harry miserably.
“Well –no,” Ron admitted.
It was a bit late to repair the damage, but Harry swore to himself not to
meddle in things that weren’t his business f rom now on. He’d had it with sneaking
around and spying. He felt so ashamed of himself that he went to Wood and offered to
resign from the Quidditch team.
“Resign?” Wood thundered. “What good’ll that do?How are we going to get any
points back if we can’t win at Quidditch?” But even Quidditch had lost its fun. The rest
of the team wouldn’t speak to Harry during pract ice, and if they had to speak about
him, they called him “the Seeker.”
Hermione and Neville were suffering, too. They didn’t have as bad a t ime as
Harry, because they weren’t as well known, but nobody would speak to them, either.
Hermione had stopped drawing at tent ion to herself in class, keeping her head down
and working in silence.
Harry was almost glad that the exams weren’t far away. All the studying he had
to do kept his mind off his misery. He, Ron, and Hermione kept to themselves, working
late into the night , t rying to remember the ingredients in complicated pot ions, learn
charms and spells by heart ,.memorize the dates of magical discoveries and goblin
rebellions…. Then, about a week before the exams were due to start , Harry’s new
resolut ion not to interfere in anything that didn’t concern him was put to an
unexpected test . Walking back from the library on his own one afternoon, he heard
somebody whimpering from a classroom up ahead. As he drew closer, he heard
Quirrell’s voice.
“No – no – not again, please -”
It sounded as though someone was threatening him. Harry moved closer. “All
right – all right -” he heard Quirrell sob.
Next second, Quirrell came hurrying out of the classroom st raightening his
turban. He was pale and looked as though he was about to cry. He st rode out of sight ;
Harry didn’t think Quirrell had even not iced him. He waited unt il Quirrell’s footsteps
had disappeared, then peered into the classroom. It was empty, but a door stood aj ar
at the other end. Harry was halfway toward it before he remembered what he’d
promised himself about not meddling.
All the same, he’d have gambled twelve Sorcerer’s Stones that Snape had j ust
left the room, and from what Harry had j ust heard, Snape would be walking with a
new spring in his step – Quirrell seemed to have given in at last.
Harry went back to the library, where Hermione was test ing Ron on Ast ronomy.
Harry told them what he’d heard.
“Snape’s done it , then!” said Ron. “If Quirrell’s told him how to break his Ant i-
Dark Force spell -”
“There’s still Fluffy, though,” said Hermione.
“Maybe Snape’s found out how to get past him without asking Hagrid,” said Ron,
looking up at the thousands of books surrounding them. “I bet there’s a book
somewhere in here telling you how to get past a giant three-headed dog. So what do
we do, Harry?”
The light of adventure was kindling again in Ron’s eyes, but Hermione answered
before Harry could.
“Go to Dumbledore. That ‘s what we should have done ages ago. If we t ry
anything ourselves we’ll be thrown out for sure.”
“But we’ve got no proof!” said Harry. “Quirrell’s too scared to back us up.
Snape’s only got to say he doesn’t know how the t roll got in at Halloween and that he
was nowhere near the third floor –who do you think they’ll believe, him or us? It ‘s not
exactly a secret we hate him, Dumbledore’ll think we made it up to get him sacked.
Filch wouldn’t help us if his life depended on it , he’s too friendly with Snape, and the
more students get thrown out , the bet ter, he’ll think. And don’t forget , we’re not
supposed to know about the Stone or Fluffy. That’ll take a lot of explaining.”.Hermione
looked convinced, but Ron didn’t.
“If we just do a bit of poking around -”
“No,” said Harry flatly, “we’ve done enough poking around.”
He pulled a map of Jupiter toward him and started to learn the names of its
moons.
The following morning, notes were delivered to Harry, Hermione, and Neville
at the breakfast table. They were all the same:
Your detention will take place at eleven o’clock tonight. Meet Mr. Filch in the
entrance hall.
Professor McGonagall
Harry had forgot ten they st ill had detent ions to do in the furor over the points
they’d lost . He half expected Hermione to omplain that this was a whole night of
studying lost , but she didn’t say a word. Like Harry, she felt they deserved what they’d
got . At eleven o’clock that night , they said good-bye to Ron in the common room and
went down to the ent rance hall with Neville. Filch was already there – and so was
Malfoy. Harry had also forgotten that Malfoy had gotten a detention, too.
“Follow me,” said Filch, light ing a lamp and leading them outside. “ I bet you’ll
think twice about breaking a school rule again, won’t you, eh?” he said, leering at
them. “Oh yes… hard work and pain are the best teachers if you ask me…. It ‘s j ust a
pity they let the old punishments die out … hang you by your wrists from the ceiling
for a few days, I’ve got the chains st ill in my office, keep ’em well oiled in case they’re
ever needed…. Right , off we go, and don’t think of running off, now, it ‘ll be worse for
you if you do.”
They marched off across the dark grounds. Neville kept sniffing. Harry
wondered what their punishment was going to be. It must be something really
horrible, or Filch wouldn’t be sounding so delighted. The moon was bright , but clouds
scudding across it kept throwing them into darkness. Ahead, Harry could see the
lighted windows of Hagrid’s hut. Then they heard a distant shout.
“Is that you, Filch? Hurry up, I want ter get started.”
Harry’s heart rose; if they were going to be working with Hagrid it wouldn’t be
so bad. His relief must have showed in his face, because Filch said, “I suppose you
think you’ll be enj oying yourself with that oaf? Well, think again, boy – it ‘s into the
forest you’re going and I’m much mistaken if you’ll all come out in one piece.”
At this, Neville let out a little moan, and Malfoy stopped dead in his tracks.
“The forest?” he repeated, and he didn’t sound quite as cool as usual. “We can’t
go in there at night – there’s all sorts of things in there –werewolves, I heard.” Neville
clutched the sleeve of Harry’s robe and made a choking noise.
“That ‘s your problem, isn’t it?” said Filch, his voice cracking with glee.
“Should’ve thought of them werewolves before you got in trouble, shouldn’t you?”
Hagrid came st riding toward them out of the dark, Fang at his heel. He was
carrying his large crossbow, and a quiver of arrows hung over his shoulder.
“Abou’ t ime,” he said. “I bin wait in’ fer half an hour already. All right , Harry,
Hermione?”
“I shouldn’t be too f riendly to them, Hagrid,” said Filch coldly, “ they’re here to
be punished, after all.”
“That ‘s why yer late, is it?” said Hagrid, frowning at Filch. “Bin lecturin’ them,
eh? ‘Snot your place ter do that. Yeh’ve done yer bit, I’ll take over from here.”
“I’ll be back at dawn,” said Filch, “for what ‘s left of them,” he added nast ily,
and he turned and started back toward the cast le, his lamp bobbing away in the
darkness.
Malfoy now turned to Hagrid.
“I’m not going in that forest ,” he said, and Harry was pleased to hear the note
of panic in his voice.
“Yeh are if yeh want ter stay at Hogwarts,” said Hagrid fiercely. “Yeh’ve done
wrong an’ now yehve got ter pay fer it.”
“But this is servant stuff, it ‘s not for students to do. I thought we’d be copying
lines or something, if my father knew I was doing this, he’d tell yer that ‘s how it is at
Hogwarts,”
Hagrid growled. “Copyin’ lines! What good’s that ter anyone? Yeh’ll do summat
useful or Yeh’ll get out . If yeh think yer father’d rather you were expelled, then get
back off ter the castle an’ pack. Go on”‘
Malfoy didn’t move. He looked at Hagrid furiously, but then dropped his gaze.
“Right then,” said Hagrid, “now, listen carefully, ’cause it ‘s dangerous what
we’re gonna do tonight , an’ I don’ want no one takin’ risks. Follow me over here a
moment.”
He led them to the very edge of the forest . Holding his lamp up high, he
pointed down a narrow, winding earth t rack that disappeared into the thick black
trees. A light breeze lifted their hair as they looked into the forest.
“Look there,” said Hagrid, “see that stuff shinin’ on the ground? Silvery stuff?
That ‘s unicorn blood. There’s a unicorn in there bin hurt .badly by summat . This is the
second t ime in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We’re gonna t ry an’ find the
poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery.”
“And what if whatever hurt the unicorn finds us first?” said Malfoy, unable to
keep the fear out of his voice.
“There’s nothin’ that lives in the forest that ‘ll hurt yeh if yer with me, or Fang,”
said Hagrid. “An’ keep ter the path. Right , now, we’re gonna split inter two part ies an’
follow the t rail in diff’rent direct ions. There’s blood all over the place, it must ‘ve bin
staggerin’ around since last night at least.”
“I want Fang,” said Malfoy quickly, looking at Fang’s long teeth.
“All right , but I warn yeh, he’s a coward,” said Hagrid. “So me, Harry, an’
Hermione’ll go one way an’ Draco, Neville, an’ Fang’ll go the other. Now, if any of us
finds the unicorn, we’ll send up green sparks, right? Get yer wands out an’ pract ice
now – that ‘s it – an’ if anyone gets in t rouble, send up red sparks, an’ we’ll all come an’
find yeh – so, be careful – let’s go.”
The forest was black and silent . A lit t le 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 . They walked in silence, their eyes on the ground. Every now
and then a ray of moonlight through the branches above lit a spot of silver-blue blood
on the fallen leaves.
Harry saw that Hagrid looked very worried.
“Could a werewolf be killing the unicorns?” Harry asked.
“Not fast enough,” said Hagrid. “It ‘s not easy ter catch a unicorn, they’re
powerful magic creatures. I never knew one ter be hurt before.”
They walked past a mossy t ree stump. Harry could hear running water; there
must be a st ream somewhere close by. There were st ill spots of unicorn blood here
and there along the winding path.
“You all right , Hermione?” Hagrid whispered. “Don’ worry, it can’t ‘ve gone far if
it’s this badly hurt, an’ then we’ll be able ter – GET BEHIND THAT TREE!”
Hagrid seized Harry and Hermione and hoisted them off the path behind a
towering oak. He pulled out an arrow and fit ted it into his crossbow, raising it , ready
to fire. The three of them listened. Something was slithering over dead leaves nearby:
it sounded like a cloak t railing along the ground. Hagrid was squint ing up the dark
path, but after a few seconds, the sound faded away.
“I knew it, ” he murmured. “There’s summat in here that shouldn’ be.”
“A werewolf?” Harry suggested..”That wasn’ no werewolf an’ it wasn’ no unicorn,
neither,” said Hagrid grimly. “Right, follow me, but careful, now.”
They walked more slowly, ears st raining for the faintest sound. Suddenly, in a
clearing ahead, something definitely moved.
“Who’s there?” Hagrid called. “Show yerself – I’m armed!”
And into the clearing came – was it a man, or a horse? To the waist , a man,
with red hair and beard, but below that was a horse’s gleaming chestnut body with a
long, reddish tail. Harry and Hermione’s jaws dropped.
“Oh, it’s you, Ronan,” said Hagrid in relief. “How are yeh?”
He walked forward and shook the centaur’s hand.
“Good evening to you, Hagrid,” said Ronan. He had a deep, sorrowful voice.
“Were you going to shoot me?”
“Can’t be too careful, Ronan,” said Hagrid, pat t ing his crossbow. “There’s
summat bad loose in this forest . This is Harry Pot ter an’ Hermione Granger, by the
way. Students up at the school. An’ this is Ronan, you two. He’s a centaur.”
“We’d noticed,” said Hermione faintly.
“Good evening,” said Ronan. “Students, are you? And do you learn much, up at
the school?”
“Erm -”
“A bit,” said Hermione timidly.
“A bit. Well, that’s something.” Ronan sighed. He flung back his head and stared
at the sky. “Mars is bright tonight.”
“Yeah,” said Hagrid, glancing up, too. “Listen, I’m glad we’ve run inter yeh,
Ronan, ’cause there’s a unicorn bin hurt – you seen anythin’?”
Ronan didn’t answer immediately. He stared unblinkingly upward, then sighed
again.
“Always the innocent are the first vict ims,” he said. “So it has been for ages
past, so it is now.”
“Yeah,” said Hagrid, “but have yeh seen anythin’, Ronan? Anythin’ unusual?”
“Mars is bright tonight ,” Ronan repeated, while Hagrid watched him
impatiently. “Unusually bright.”
“Yeah, but I was meanin’ anythin’ unusual a bit nearer home, said Hagrid. “So
yeh haven’t noticed anythin’ strange?”
Yet again, Ronan took a while to answer. At last , he said, “The forest .hides
many secrets.”
A movement in the t rees behind Ronan made Hagrid raise his bow again, but it
was only a second centaur, black-haired and – bodied and wilder-looking than Ronan.
“Hello, Bane,” said Hagrid. “All right?”
“Good evening, Hagrid, I hope you are well?”
“Well enough. Look, I’ve j us’ bin askin’ Ronan, you seen anythin’ odd in here
lately? There’s a unicorn bin injured – would yeh know anythin’ about it?”
Bane walked over to stand next to Ronan. He looked skyward. “Mars is bright
tonight,” he said simply.
“We’ve heard,” said Hagrid grumpily. “Well, if either of you do see anythin’, let
me know, won’t yeh? We’ll be off, then.”
Harry and Hermione followed him out of the clearing, staring over their
shoulders at Ronan and Bane until the trees blocked their view.
“Never,” said Hagrid irritably, “t ry an’ get a st raight answer out of a centaur.
Ruddy stargazers. Not interested in anythin’ closer’n the moon.”
“Are there many of them in here?” asked Hermione. “Oh, a fair few… Keep
themselves to themselves most ly, but they’re good enough about turnin’ up if ever I
want a word. They’re deep, mind, centaurs… they know things… j us’ don’ let on
much.”
“D’you think that was a centaur we heard earlier?” said Harry.
“Did that sound like hooves to you? Nah, if yeh ask me, that was what ‘s bin
killin’ the unicorns – never heard anythin’ like it before.”
They walked on through the dense, dark t rees. Harry kept looking nervously
over his shoulder. He had the nasty feeling they were being watched. He was very glad
they had Hagrid and his crossbow with them. They had j ust passed a bend in the path
when Hermione grabbed Hagrid’s arm.
“Hagrid! Look! Red sparks, the others are in trouble!”
“You two wait here!” Hagrid shouted. “Stay on the path, I’ll come back for yeh!”
They heard him crashing away through the undergrowth and stood looking at
each other, very scared, unt il they couldn’t hear anything but the rust ling of leaves
around them.
“You don’t think they’ve been hurt, do you?” whispered Hermione.
“I don’t care if Malfoy has, but if something’s got Neville… it ‘s our.fault he’s
here in the first place.”
The minutes dragged by. Their ears seemed sharper than usual. Harry’s seemed
to be picking up every sigh of the wind, every cracking twig. What was going on?
Where were the others? At last , a great crunching noise announced Hagrid’s return.
Malfoy, Neville, and Fang were with him. Hagrid was fuming. Malfoy, it seemed, had
sneaked up behind Neville and grabbed him as a j oke. Neville had panicked and sent
up the sparks.
“We’ll be lucky ter catch anythin’ now, with the racket you two were makin’.
Right , we’re changin’ groups – Neville, you stay with me an’ Hermione, Harry, you go
with Fang an’ this idiot. I’m sorry,” Hagrid added in a whisper to Harry, “but he’ll have a
harder time frightenin’ you, an’ we’ve gotta get this done.”
So Harry set off into the heart of the forest with Malfoy and Fang. They walked
for nearly half an hour, deeper and deeper into the forest , unt il the path became
almost impossible to follow because the t rees were so thick. Harry thought the blood
seemed to be get t ing thicker. There were splashes on the roots of a t ree, as though
the poor creature had been thrashing around in pain close by. Harry could see a
clearing ahead, through the tangled branches of an ancient oak.
“Look -” he murmured, holding out his arm to stop Malfoy.
Something bright white was gleaming on the ground. They inched closer. It was
the unicorn all right , and it was dead. Harry had never seen anything so beaut iful and
sad. Its long, slender legs were stuck out at odd angles where it had fallen and its
mane was spread pearly-white on the dark leaves.
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 t ransfixed. The cloaked figure reached the unicorn,
lowered its head over the wound in the animal’s side, and began to drink its blood.
“AAAAAAAAAARGH!”
Malfoy let out a terrible scream and bolted – so did Fang. The hooded figure
raised its head and looked right at Harry – unicorn blood was dribbling down its front .
It got to its feet and came swift ly toward Harry – he couldn’t move for fear. Then a
pain like he’d never felt before pierced his head; it was as though his scar were on
fire. Half blinded, he staggered backward. He heard hooves behind him, galloping, and
something j umped clean over Harry, charging at the figure. The pain in Harry’s head
was so bad he fell to his knees. It took a minute or two to pass.
When he looked up, the figure had gone. A centaur was standing over him, not
Ronan or Bane; this one looked younger; he.had white-blond hair and a palomino
body.
“Are you all right?” said the centaur, pulling Harry to his feet.
“Yes – thank you – what was that?”
The centaur didn’t answer. He had astonishingly blue eyes, like pale sapphires.
He looked carefully at Harry, his eyes lingering on the scar that stood out , livid, on
Harry’s forehead.
“You are the Pot ter boy,” he said. “You had bet ter get back to Hagrid. The
forest is not safe at this t ime – especially for you. Can you ride? It will be quicker this
way.
“My name is Firenze,” he added, as he lowered himself on to his front legs so
that Harry could clamber onto his back. There was suddenly a sound of more galloping
from the other side of the clearing. Ronan and Bane came burst ing through the t rees,
their flanks heaving and sweaty.
“Firenze!” Bane thundered. “What are you doing? You have a human on your
back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mule?”
“Do you realize who this is?” said Firenze. “This is the Pot ter boy. The quicker
he leaves this forest, the better.”
“What have you been telling him?” growled Bane. “Remember, Firenze, we are
sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in
the movements of the planets?”
Ronan pawed the ground nervously. “I’m sure Firenze thought he was act ing for
the best, ” he said in his gloomy voice.
Bane kicked his back legs in anger.
“For the best! What is that to do with us? Centaurs are concerned with what has
been foretold! It is not our business to run around like donkeys after st ray humans in
our forest!”
Firenze suddenly reared on to his hind legs in anger, so that Harry had to grab
his shoulders to stay on.
“Do you not see that unicorn?” Firenze bellowed at Bane. “Do you not
understand why it was killed? Or have the planets not let you in on that secret? I set
myself against what is lurking in this forest , Bane, yes, with humans alongside me if I
must.”
And Firenze whisked around; with Harry clut ching on as best he could, they
plunged off into the t rees, leaving Ronan and Bane behind them. Harry didn’t have a
clue what was going on.
“Why’s Bane so angry?” he asked. “What was that thing you saved me from,
anyway?”.Firenze slowed to a walk, warned Harry to keep his head bowed in case of
low-hanging branches, but did not answer Harry’s quest ion. They made their way
through the t rees in silence for so long that Harry thought Firenze didn’t want to talk
to him anymore. They were passing through a part icularly dense patch of t rees,
however, when Firenze suddenly stopped.
“Harry Potter, do you know what unicorn blood is used – for?”
“No,” said Harry, start led by the odd quest ion. “We’ve only used the horn and
tail hair in Potions.”
“That is because it is a monst rous thing, to slay a unicorn,” said Firenze. “Only
one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The
blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a
terrible price. You have slain something pure and defenseless to save yourself, and you
will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips.”
Harry stared at the back of Firenze’s head, which was dappled silver in the
moonlight.
“But who’d be that desperate?” he wondered aloud. “If you’re going to be cursed
forever, deaths better, isn’t it?”
“It is,” Firenze agreed, “unless all you need is to stay alive long enough to drink
something else – something that will bring you back to full st rength and power –
something that will mean you can never die. Mr. Potter, do you know what is hidden in
the school at this very moment?”
“The Sorcerer’s Stone! Of course – the Elixir of Life! But I don’t understand who
-”
“Can you think of nobody who has waited many years to return to power, who
has clung to life, awaiting their chance?”
It was as though an iron fist had clenched suddenly around Harry’s heart . Over
the rust ling of the t rees, he seemed to hear once more what Hagrid had told him on
the night they had met : “Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he
had enough human left in him to die.”
“Do you mean,” Harry croaked, “that was Vol-”
“Harry! Harry, are you all right?”
Hermione was running toward them down the path, Hagrid puffing along behind
her.
“I’m fine,” said Harry, hardly knowing what he was saying. “The unicorn’s dead,
Hagrid, it’s in that clearing back there.”
“This is where I leave you,” Firenze murmured as Hagrid hurried off to examine
the unicorn. “You are safe now.”
Harry slid off his back.
“Good luck, Harry Pot ter,” said Firenze. “The planets have been read wrongly
before now, even by centaurs. I hope this is one of those times.”
He turned and cantered back into the depths of the forest , leaving Harry
shivering behind him.
Ron had fallen asleep in the dark common room, waiting for them to return. He
shouted something about Quiddit ch fouls when Harry roughly shook him awake. In a
mat ter of seconds, though, he was wide-eyed as Harry began to tell him and Hermione
what had happened in the forest . Harry couldn’t sit down. He paced up and down in
front of the fire. He was still shaking.
“Snape wants the stone for Voldemort … and Voldemort ‘s wait ing in the
forest… and all this time we thought Snape just wanted to get rich….”
“Stop saying the name!” said Ron in a terrified whisper, as if he thought
Voldemort could hear them. Harry wasn’t listening.
“Firenze saved me, but he shouldn’t have done so…. Bane was furious… he was
talking about interfering with what the planets say is going to happen…. They must
show that Voldemort ‘s coming back…. Bane thinks Firenze should have let Voldemort
kill me…. I suppose that’s written in the stars as well.”
“Will you stop saying the name!” Ron hissed.
“So all I’ve got to wait for now is Snape to steal the Stone,” Harry went on
feverishly, “then Voldemort will be able to come and finish me off… Well, I suppose
Bane’ll be happy.”
Hermione looked very f rightened, but she had a word of comfort . “Harry,
everyone says Dumbledore’s the only one You-Know-Who was ever afraid of With
Dumbledore around, You-Know-Who won’t touch you. Anyway, who says the centaurs
are right? It sounds like fortune telling to me, and Professor McGonagall says that ‘s a
very imprecise branch of magic.”
The sky had turned light before they stopped talking. They went to bed
exhausted, their throats sore. But the night ‘s surprises weren’t over. When Harry
pulled back his sheets, he found his invisibility cloak folded neat ly underneath them.
There was a note pinned to it: Just in case.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN – THROUGH THE TRAPDOOR
In years to come, Harry would never quite remember how he had managed to
get through his exams when he half expected Voldemort to come burst ing through the
door at any moment . Yet the days crept by, and there could be no doubt that Fluf fy
was st ill alive and well behind the locked door. It was sweltering hot , especially in the
large classroom where they did their written papers. They had been given special, new
quills for the exams, which had been bewitched with an Ant iCheat ing spell. They had
pract ical exams as well. Professor Flitwick called them one by one into his class to see
if they could make a pineapple tapdance across a desk. Professor McGonagall watched
them turn a mouse into a snuf fbox – points were given for how pret ty the snuf fbox
was, but taken away if it had whiskers. Snape made them all nervous, breathing down
their necks while they tried to remember how to make a Forgetfulness potion.
Harry did the best he could, t rying to ignore the stabbing pains in his forehead,
which had been bothering him ever since his t rip into the forest . Neville thought Harry
had a bad case of exam nerves because Harry couldn’t sleep, but the t ruth was that
Harry kept being woken by his old nightmare, except that it was now worse than ever
because there was a hooded figure dripping blood in it . Maybe it was because they
hadn’t seen what Harry had seen in the forest , or because they didn’t have scars
burning on their foreheads, but Ron and Hermione didn’t seem as worried about the
Stone as Harry. The idea of Voldemort certainly scared them, but he didn’t keep
visit ing them in dreams, and they were so busy with their studying they didn’t have
much time to fret about what Snape or anyone else might be up to.
Their very last exam was History of Magic. One hour of answering quest ions
about bat ty old wizards who’d invented selfst irring cauldrons and they’d be free, free
for a whole wonderful week unt il their exam results came out . When the ghost of
Professor Binns told them to put down their quills and roll up their parchment , Harry
couldn’t help cheering with the rest.
“That was far easier than I thought it would be,” said Hermione as they j oined
the crowds flocking out onto the sunny grounds. “I needn’t have learned about the
1637 Werewolf Code of Conduct or the uprising of Elfric the Eager.”
Hermione always liked to go through their exam papers afterward, but Ron said
this made him feel ill, so they wandered down to the lake and flopped under a t ree.
The Weasley twins and Lee Jordan were t ickling the tentacles of a giant squid, which
was basking in the warm shallows.
“No more studying,” Ron sighed happily, st retching out on the grass. “You could
look more cheerful, Harry, we’ve got a week before we find out how badly we’ve done,
there’s no need to worry yet.”
Harry was rubbing his forehead.
“I wish I knew what this means!” he burst out angrily. “My scar keeps.hurt ing –
it’s happened before, but never as often as this.”
“Go to Madam Pomfrey,” Hermione suggested.
“I’m not ill,” said Harry. “I think it’s a warning… it means danger’s coming….”
Ron couldn’t get worked up, it was too hot.
“Harry, relax, Hermione’s right , the Stone’s safe as long as Dumbledore’s
around. Anyway, we’ve never had any proof Snape found out how to get past Fluffy.
He nearly had his leg ripped of f once, he’s not going to t ry it again in a hurry. And
Neville will play Quidditch for England before Hagrid lets Dumbledore down.”
Harry nodded, but he couldn’t shake off a lurking feeling that there was
something he’d forgot ten to do, something important . When he t ried to explain this,
Hermione said, “That ‘s j ust the exams. I woke up last night and was halfway through
my Transfiguration notes before I remembered we’d done that one.”
Harry was quite sure the unset t led feeling didn’t have anything to do with
work, though. He watched an owl f lut ter toward the school across the bright blue sky,
a note clamped in its mouth. Hagrid was the only one who ever sent him let ters.
Hagrid would never bet ray Dumbledore. Hagrid would never tell anyone how to get
past Fluffy… never… but – Harry suddenly jumped to his feet.
“Where’re you going?” said Ron sleepily.
“I’ve just thought of something,” said Harry. He had turned white.
“We’ve got to go and see Hagrid, now.”
“Why?” panted Hermione, hurrying to keep up.
“Don’t you think it ‘s a bit odd,” said Harry, scrambling up the grassy slope, “that
what Hagrid wants more than anything else is a dragon, and a st ranger turns up who
j ust happens to have an egg in his pocket? How many people wander around with
dragon eggs if it ‘s against wizard law? Lucky they found Hagrid, don’t you think?Why
didn’t I see it before?”
“What are you talking about?” said Ron, but Harry, sprint ing across the grounds
toward the forest, didn’t answer.
Hagrid was sit t ing in an armchair outside his house; his t rousers and sleeves
were rolled up, and he was shelling peas into a large bowl.
“Hullo,” he said, smiling. “Finished yer exams? Got time fer a drink?”
“Yes, please,” said Ron, but Harry cut him off.
“No, we’re in a hurry. Hagrid, I’ve got to ask you something. You know that
night you won Norbert? What did the stranger you were playing cards with look like?”
“Dunno,” said Hagrid casually, “he wouldn’ take his cloak off.”
He saw the three of them look stunned and raised his eyebrows.
“It ‘s not that unusual, yeh get a lot o’ funny folk in the Hog’s Head – that ‘s the
pub down in the village. Mighta bin a dragon dealer, mightn’ he? I never saw his face,
he kept his hood up.”
Harry sank down next to the bowl of peas. “What did you talk to him about,
Hagrid? Did you mention Hogwarts at all?”
“Mighta come up,” said Hagrid, frowning as he tried to remember.
“Yeah… he asked what I did, an’ I told him I was gamekeeper here…. He asked
a bit about the sorta creatures I took after… so I told him… an’ I said what I’d always
really wanted was a dragon… an’ then… I can’ remember too well, ’cause he kept
buyin’ me drinks…. Let ‘s see… yeah, then he said he had the dragon egg an’ we could
play cards fer it if I wanted… but he had ter be sure I could handle it, he didn’ want it
ter go ter any old home…. So I told him, after Fluffy, a dragon would be easy…”
“And did he – did he seem interested in Fluffy?” Harry asked, t rying to keep his
voice calm.
“Well – yeah – how many three-headed dogs d’yeh meet, even around Hogwarts?
So I told him, Fluffy’s a piece o’ cake if yeh know how to calm him down, j us’ play him
a bit o’ music an’ he’ll go straight off ter sleep -”
Hagrid suddenly looked horrified.
“I shouldn’ta told yeh that !” he blurted out . “Forget I said it ! Hey –where’re yeh
goin’?”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione didn’t speak to each other at all until they came to a
halt in the entrance hall, which seemed very cold and gloomy after the grounds.
“We’ve got to go to Dumbledore,” said Harry. “Hagrid told that st ranger how to
get past Fluffy, and it was either Snape or Voldemort under that cloak – it must ‘ve
been easy, once he’d got Hagrid drunk. I j ust hope Dumbledore believes us. Firenze
might back us up if Bane doesn’t stop him. Where’s Dumbledore’s office?”
They looked around, as if hoping to see a sign point ing them in the right
direct ion. They had never been told where Dumbledore lived, nor did they know
anyone who had been sent to see him.
“We’ll just have to -” Harry began, but a voice suddenly rang across the hall.
“What are you three doing inside?”
It was Professor McGonagall, carrying a large pile of books.
“We want to see Professor Dumbledore,” said Hermione, rather bravely, Harry
and Ron thought . “See Professor Dumbledore?” Professor McGonagall repeated, as
though this was a very fishy thing to want to do.
“Why?”
Harry swallowed – now what?
“It’s sort of secret,” he said, but he wished at once he hadn’t, because Professor
McGonagall’s nostrils flared.
“Professor Dumbledore left ten minutes ago,” she said coldly. “He received an
urgent owl from the Ministry of Magic and flew off for London at once.”
“He’s gone?” said Harry frantically. “Now?”
“Professor Dumbledore is a very great wizard, Pot ter, he has many demands on
his time –”
“But this is important.”
“Something you have to say is more important than the Minist ry of Magic,
Potter?”
“Look,” said Harry, throwing caut ion to the winds, “Professor – it ‘s about the
Sorcerer’s Stone -”
Whatever Professor McGonagall had expected, it wasn’t that . The books she
was carrying tumbled out of her arms, but she didn’t pick them up.
“How do you know -?” she spluttered.
“Professor, I think – I know – that Sn- that someone’s going to t ry and steal the
Stone. I’ve got to talk to Professor Dumbledore.”
She eyed him with a mixture of shock and suspicion.
“Professor Dumbledore will be back tomorrow,” she said f inally. I don’t know
how you found out about the Stone, but rest assured, no one can possibly steal it , it ‘s
too well protected.”
“But Professor -”
“Pot ter, I know what I’m talking about ,” she said short ly. She bent down and
gathered up the fallen books. I suggest you all go back outside and enj oy the
sunshine.”
But they didn’t.
“It ‘s tonight ,” said Harry, once he was sure Professor McGonagall was out of
earshot . “Snape’s going through the t rapdoor tonight . He’s found out everything he
needs, and now he’s got Dumbledore out of the way. He sent that note, I bet the
Ministry of Magic will get a real shock when Dumbledore turns up.”
“But what can we -” Hermione gasped.
Harry and Ron wheeled round. Snape was standing there.
“Good afternoon,” he said smoothly.
They stared at him.
“You shouldn’t be inside on a day like this,” he said, with an odd, twisted smile.
“We were -” Harry began, without any idea what he was going to say.
“You want to be more careful,” said Snape. “Hanging around like this, people
will think you’re up to something. And Gryffindor really can’t af ford to lose any more
points, can it?”
Harry f lushed. They turned to go outside, but Snape called them back. “Be
warned, Pot ter – any more night t ime wanderings and I will personally make sure you
are expelled. Good day to you.”
He st rode off in the direct ion of the staffroom. Out on the stone steps, Harry
turned to the others.
“Right , here’s what we’ve got to do,” he whispered urgent ly. “One of us has got
to keep an eye on Snape –wait outside the staff room and follow him if he leaves it .
Hermione, you’d better do that.”
“Why me?”
“It ‘s obvious,” said Ron. “You can pretend to be wait ing for Professor Flitwick,
you know.” He put on a high voice, “‘Oh Professor Flitwick, I’m so worried, I think I got
question fourteen b wrong….'”
“Oh, shut up,” said Hermione, but she agreed to go and watch out for Snape.
“And we’d bet ter stay outside the third-f loor corridor,” Harry told Ron. “Come
on.”
But that part of the plan didn’t work. No sooner had they reached the door
separat ing Fluffy f rom the rest of the school than Professor McGonagall turned up
again and this time, she lost her temper.
“I suppose you think you’re harder to get past than a pack of enchantments!”
she stormed. “Enough of this nonsense! If I hear you ‘ve come anywhere near here
again, I’ll take another fif ty points f rom Gryffindor! Yes, Weasley, from my own
house!” Harry and Ron went back to the common room, Harry had j ust said, “At least
Hermione’s on Snape’s tail,” when the port rait of the Fat Lady swung open and
Hermione came in.
“I’m sorry, Harry!” she wailed. “Snape came out and asked me what I was.doing,
so I said I was wait ing for Flitwick, and Snape went to get him, and I’ve only j ust got
away, I don’t know where Snape went.”
“Well, that’s it then, isn’t it?” Harry said.
The other two stared at him. He was pale and his eyes were glit tering. “I’m
going out of here tonight and I’m going to try and get to the Stone first.”
“You’re mad!” said Ron.
“You can’t !” said Hermione. “After what McGonagall and Snape have said?You’ll
be expelled!”
“SO WHAT?” Harry shouted. “Don’t you understand? If Snape gets hold of the
Stone, Voldemort ‘s coming back! Haven’t you heard what it was like when he was
t rying to take over?There won’t be any Hogwarts to get expelled from! He’ll f lat ten it ,
or turn it into a school for the Dark Arts! Losing points doesn’t mat ter anymore, can’t
you see? D’you think he’ll leave you and your families alone if Gryf findor wins the
house cup? If I get caught before I can get to the Stone, well, I’ll have to go back to
the Dursleys and wait for Voldemort to find me there, it ‘s only dying a bit later than I
would have, because I’m never going over to the Dark Side! I’m going through that
t rapdoor tonight and nothing you two say is going to stop me! Voldemort killed my
parents, remember?” He glared at them.
“You’re right Harry,” said Hermione in a small voice.
“I’ll use the invisibility cloak,” said Harry. “It’s just lucky I got it back.”
“But will it cover all three of us?” said Ron.
“All – all three of us?”
“Oh, come off it, you don’t think we’d let you go alone?”
“Of course not,” said Hermione briskly. “How do you think you’d get to the Stone
without us? I’d bet ter go and took through my books, there might be something
useful…”
“But if we get caught, you two will be expelled, too.”
“Not if I can help it ,” said Hermione grimly. “Flitwick told me in secret that I
got a hundred and twelve percent on his exam. They’re not throwing me out after
that.”
After dinner the three of them sat nervously apart in the common room.
Nobody bothered them; none of the Gryffindors had anything to say to Harry any
more, after all. This was the f irst night he hadn’t been upset by it . Hermione was
skimming through all her notes, hoping to come across one of the enchantments they
were about to t ry to break. Harry and Ron didn’t talk much. Both of them were
thinking about what they were about to do. Slowly, the room empt ied as people
drifted off to bed.
“Bet ter get the cloak,” Ron mut tered, as Lee Jordan f inally lef t , st ret ching and
yawning. Harry ran upstairs to their dark dormitory. He put ted out the cloak and then
his eyes fell on the flute Hagrid had given him for Christmas. He pocketed it to use on
Fluffy – he didn’t feel much like singing. He ran back down to the common room.
“We’d bet ter put the cloak on here, and make sure it covers all three of us – if
Filch spots one of our feet wandering along on its own -”
“What are you doing?” said a voice from the corner of the room. Neville
appeared from behind an armchair, clut ching Trevor the toad, who looked as though
he’d been making another bid for freedom.
“Nothing, Neville, nothing,” said Harry, hurriedly put t ing the cloak behind his
back.
Neville stared at their guilty faces. “You’re going out again,” he said.
“No, no, no,” said Hermione. “No, we’re not. Why don’t you go to bed, Neville?”
Harry looked at the grandfather clock by the door. They couldn’t afford to
waste any more time, Snape might even now be playing Fluffy to sleep.
“You can’t go out ,” said Neville, “you’ll be caught again. Gryff indor will be in
even more trouble.”
“You don’t understand,” said Harry, “this is important.”
But Neville was clearly steeling himself to do something desperate. “ I won’t let
you do it,” he said, hurrying to stand in front of the portrait hole. “I’ll – I’ll fight you!”
“Neville, “Ron exploded, “get away from that hole and don’t be an idiot -”
“Don’t you call me an idiot !” said Neville. I don’t think you should be breaking
any more rules! And you were the one who told me to stand up to people!”
“Yes, but not to us,” said Ron in exasperat ion. “Neville, you don’t know what
you’re doing.”
He took a step forward and Neville dropped Trevor the toad, who leapt out of
sight.
“Go on then, t ry and hit me!” said Neville, raising his fists. “I’m ready!” Harry
turned to Hermione.
“Do something,” he said desperately.
Hermione stepped forward.
“Neville,” she said, “I’m really, really sorry about this.”
She raised her wand.
“Pet rificus Totalus!” she cried, point ing it at Neville. Neville’s arms snapped to
his sides. His legs sprang together. His whole body rigid, he swayed where he stood
and then fell flat on his face, st iff as a board. Hermione ran to turn him over. Neville’s
j aws were j ammed together so he couldn’t speak. Only his eyes were moving, looking
at them in horror.
“What’ve you done to him?” Harry whispered.
“It’s the full Body-Bind,” said Hermione miserably. “Oh, Neville, I’m so sorry.”
“We had to, Neville, no time to explain,” said Harry.
“You’ll understand later, Neville,” said Ron as they stepped over him and pulled
on the invisibility cloak. But leaving Neville lying mot ionless on the floor didn’t feel
like a very good omen. In their nervous state, every statue’s shadow looked like Filch,
every distant breath of wind sounded like Peeves swooping down on them. At the foot
of the first set of stairs, they spotted Mrs. Norris skulking near the top.
“Oh, let ‘s kick her, j ust this once,” Ron whispered in Harry’s ear, but Harry
shook his head. As they climbed carefully around her, Mrs. Norris turned her lamplike
eyes on them, but didn’t do anything. They didn’t meet anyone else unt il they reached
the staircase up to the third f loor. Peeves was bobbing halfway up, loosening the
carpet so that people would trip.
“Who’s there?” he said suddenly as they climbed toward him. He narrowed his
wicked black eyes. “Know you’re there, even if I can’t see you. Are you ghoulie or
ghostie or wee student beastie?”
He rose up in the air and floated there, squinting at them.
“Should call Filch, I should, if something’s a-creeping around unseen.” Harry had
a sudden idea.
“Peeves,” he said, in a hoarse whisper, “the Bloody Baron has his own reasons
for being invisible.”
Peeves almost fell out of the air in shock. He caught himself in t ime and
hovered about a foot off the stairs.
“So sorry, your bloodiness, Mr. Baron, Sir,” he said greasily. “My mistake, my
mistake – I didn’t see you – of course I didn’t , you’re invisible – forgive old Peevsie his
little joke, sir.”
“I have business here, Peeves,” croaked Harry. “Stay away from this place
tonight.”
“I will, sir, I most certainly will,” said Peeves, rising up in the air again. “Hope
your business goes well, Baron, I’ll not bother you.”
And he scooted off.
“Brilliant, Harry!” whispered Ron.
A few seconds later, they were there, outside the third-f loor corridor – and the
door was already ajar.
“Well, there you are,” Harry said quietly, “Snape’s already got past Fluffy.”
Seeing the open door somehow seemed to impress upon all three of them what
was facing them. Underneath the cloak, Harry turned to the other two.
“If you want to go back, I won’t blame you,” he said. “You can take the cloak, I
won’t need it now.”
“Don’t be stupid,” said Ron.
“We’re coming,” said Hermione.
Harry pushed the door open. As the door creaked, low, rumbling growls met
their ears. All three of the dog’s noses snif fed madly in their direct ion, even though it
couldn’t see them.
“What’s that at its feet?” Hermione whispered.
“Looks like a harp,” said Ron. “Snape must have left it there.”
“It must wake up the moment you stop playing,” said Harry. “Well, here goes…”
He put Hagrid’s f lute to his lips and blew. It wasn’t really a tune, but from the
first note the beast ‘s eyes began to droop. Harry hardly drew breath. Slowly, the dog’s
growls ceased – it tot tered on its paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the
ground, fast asleep.
“Keep playing,” Ron warned Harry as they slipped out of the cloak and crept
toward the t rapdoor. They could feel the dog’s hot , smelly breath.as they approached
the giant heads.
I think we’ll be able to pull the door open,” said Ron, peering over the dog’s
back. “Want to go first, Hermione?”
“No, I don’t!”
“All right .” Ron grit ted his teeth and stepped carefully over the dog’s legs. He
bent and pulled the ring of the trapdoor, which swung up and open.
“What can you see?” Hermione said anxiously.
“Nothing – just black – there’s no way of climbing down, we’ll just have to drop.”
Harry, who was st ill playing the flute, waved at Ron to get his at tent ion and
pointed at himself.
“You want to go first? Are you sure?” said Ron. “I don’t know how deep this thing
goes. Give the f lute to Hermione so she can keep him asleep.” Harry handed the flute
over. In the few seconds’ silence, the dog growled and twitched, but the moment
Hermione began to play, it fell back into its deep sleep. Harry climbed over it and
looked down through the trapdoor. There was no sign of the bottom.
He lowered himself through the hole unt il he was hanging on by his fingert ips.
Then he looked up at Ron and said, “If anything happens to me, don’t follow. Go
straight to the owlery and send Hedwig to Dumbledore, right?”
“Right,” said Ron.
“See you in a minute, I hope…”
And Harry let go. Cold, damp air rushed past him as he fell down, down, down
and – FLUMP. With a funny, muffled sort of thump he landed on something soft. He sat
up and felt around, his eyes not used to the gloom. It felt as though he was sit t ing on
some sort of plant.
“It ‘s okay!” he called up to the light the size of a postage stamp, which was the
open trapdoor, “it’s a soft landing, you can jump!”
Ron followed right away. He landed, sprawled next to Harry. “What’s this stuff?”
were his first words.
“Dunno, some sort of plant thing. I suppose it ‘s here to break the fall. Come on,
Hermione!”
The distant music stopped. There was a loud bark from the dog, but Hermione
had already jumped. She landed on Harry’s other side.
“We must be miles under the school,” she said..”Lucky this plant thing’s here,
really,” said Ron.
“Lucky!” shrieked Hermione. “Look at you both!”
She leapt up and st ruggled toward a damp wall. She had to st ruggle because
the moment she had landed, the plant had started to twist snakelike tendrils around
her ankles. As for Harry and Ron, their legs had already been bound t ight ly in long
creepers without their noticing.
Hermione had managed to free herself before the plant got a f irm grip on her.
Now she watched in horror as the two boys fought to pull the plant off them, but the
more they strained against it, the tighter and faster the plant wound around them.
“Stop moving!” Hermione ordered them. “I know what this is – it’s Devil’s Snare!”
“Oh, I’m so glad we know what it ‘s called, that ‘s a great help,” snarled Ron,
leaning back, trying to stop the plant from curling around his neck.
“Shut up, I’m trying to remember how to kill it!” said Hermione.
“Well, hurry up, I can’t breathe!” Harry gasped, wrest ling with it as it curled
around his chest.
“Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare… what did Professor Sprout say? – it likes the dark
and the damp
“So light a fire!” Harry choked.
“Yes – of course – but there’s no wood!” Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
“HAVE YOU GONE MAD?” Ron bellowed. “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?”
“Oh, right !” said Hermione, and she whipped out her wand, waved it , mut tered
something, and sent a j et of the same bluebell flames she had used on Snape at the
plant . In a mat ter of seconds, the two boys felt it loosening its grip as it cringed away
from the light and warmth. Wriggling and flailing, it unraveled itself from their bodies,
and they were able to pull free.
“Lucky you pay at tent ion in Herbology, Hermione,” said Harry as he j oined her
by the wall, wiping sweat off his face.
“Yeah,” said Ron, “and lucky Harry doesn’t lose his head in a crisis – ‘there’s no
wood,’ honestly.”
“This way,” said Harry, point ing down a stone passageway, which was the only
way forward.
All they could hear apart from their footsteps was the gent le drip of water
t rickling down the walls. The passageway sloped downward, and Harry was reminded
of Gringot ts. With an unpleasant j olt of the heart , he remembered the dragons said to
be guarding vaults in the wizards’ bank. If they met a dragon, a fully-grown dragon –
Norbert had been bad.enough…
“Can you hear something?” Ron whispered.
Harry listened. A soft rust ling and clinking seemed to be coming f rom up
ahead.
“Do you think it’s a ghost?”
“I don’t know… sounds like wings to me.”
“There’s light ahead – I can see something moving.”
They reached the end of the passageway and saw before them a brilliant ly lit
chamber, it s ceiling arching high above them. It was full of small, j ewel-bright birds,
flut tering and tumbling all around the room. On the opposite side of the chamber was
a heavy wooden door.
“Do you think they’ll attack us if we cross the room?” said Ron.
“Probably,” said Harry. “They don’t look very vicious, but I suppose if they all
swooped down at once… well, there’s no other choice… I’ll run.”
He took a deep breath, covered his face with his arms, and sprinted across the
room. He expected to feel sharp beaks and claws tearing at him any second, but
nothing happened. He reached the door untouched. He pulled the handle, but it was
locked. The other two followed him. They tugged and heaved at the door, but it
wouldn’t budge, not even when Hermione tried her Alohomora charm.
“Now what?” said Ron.
“These birds… they can’t be here just for decoration,” said Hermione.
They watched the birds soaring overhead, glittering – glittering?
“They’re not birds!” Harry said suddenly. “They’re keys! Winged keys – look
carefully. So that must mean…” he looked around the chamber while the other two
squinted up at the flock of keys. “… Yes – look! Broomst icks! We’ve got to catch the
key to the door!”
“But there are hundreds of them!”
Ron examined the lock on the door. “We’re looking for a big, old-fashioned one
– probably silver, like the handle.”
They each seized a broomst ick and kicked off into the air, soaring into the
midst of the cloud of keys. They grabbed and snatched, but the bewitched keys darted
and dived so quickly it was almost impossible to catch one.
Not for nothing, though, was Harry the youngest Seeker in a century. He.had a
knack for pot t ing things other people didn’t . After a minute’s weaving about through
the whirl of rainbow feathers, he not iced a large silver key that had a bent wing, as if
it had already been caught and stuffed roughly into the keyhole.
“That one!” he called to the others. “That big one – there – no, there – with
bright blue wings – the feathers are all crumpled on one side.”
Ron went speeding in the direct ion that Harry was point ing, crashed into the
ceiling, and nearly fell off his broom.
“We’ve got to close in on it !” Harry called, not taking his eyes off the key with
the damaged wing. “Ron, you come at it from above –Hermione, stay below and stop
it from going down and I’ll try and catch it. Right, NOW!”
Ron dived, Hermione rocketed upward, the key dodged them both, and Harry
st reaked after it ; it sped toward the wall, Harry leaned forward and with a nasty,
crunching noise, pinned it against the stone with one hand. Ron and Hermione’s cheers
echoed around the high chamber. They landed quickly, and Harry ran to the door, the
key st ruggling in his hand. He rammed it into the lock and turned – it worked. The
moment the lock had clicked open, the key took flight again, looking very bat tered
now that it had been caught twice.
“Ready?” Harry asked the other two, his hand on the door handle. They nodded.
He pulled the door open. 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.
They were standing on the edge of a huge chessboard, behind the black
chessmen, which were all taller than they were and carved from what looked like
black stone. Facing them, way across the chamber, were the white pieces. Harry, Ron
and Hermione shivered slightly – the towering white chessmen had no faces.
“Now what do we do?” Harry whispered.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said Ron. “We’ve got to play our way across the room.”
Behind the white pieces they could see another door.
“How?” said Hermione nervously.
“I think,” said Ron, “we’re going to have to be chessmen.”
He walked up to a black knight and put his hand out to touch the knight ‘s
horse. At once, the stone sprang to life. The horse pawed the ground and the knight
turned his helmeted head to look down at Ron.
“Do we – er – have to join you to get across?” The black knight nodded. Ron
turned to the other two. “This needs thinking about he said. I suppose we’ve got to
take the place of three of the black pieces….”
Harry and Hermione stayed quiet , watching Ron think. Finally he said, “Now,
don’t be offended or anything, but neither of you are that good at chess -”
“We’re not offended,” said Harry quickly. “Just tell us what to do.”
“Well, Harry, you take the place of that bishop, and Hermione, you go next to
him instead of that castle.”
“What about you?”
“I’m going to be a knight,” said Ron.
The chessmen seemed to have been listening, because at these words a knight,
a bishop, and a cast le turned their backs on the white pieces and walked off the
board, leaving three empty squares that Harry, Ron, and Hermione took.
“White always plays f irst in chess,” said Ron, peering across the board. “Yes…
look…”
A white pawn had moved forward two squares. Ron started to direct the black
pieces. They moved silent ly wherever he sent them. Harry’s knees were t rembling.
What if they lost?
“Harry – move diagonally four squares to the right.”
Their first real shock came when their other knight was taken. The white queen
smashed him to the floor and dragged him off the board, where he lay quite st ill,
facedown.
“Had to let that happen,” said Ron, looking shaken. “Leaves you free to take
that bishop, Hermione, go on.”
Every t ime one of their men was lost , the white pieces showed no mercy. Soon
there was a huddle of limp black players slumped along the wall. Twice, Ron only j ust
noticed in time that Harry and Hermione were in danger. He himself darted around the
board, taking almost as many white pieces as they had lost black ones.
“We’re nearly there,” he muttered suddenly. “Let me think let me think…”
The white queen turned her blank face toward him.
“Yes…” said Ron softly, “It’s the only way… I’ve got to be taken.”
“NO!” Harry and Hermione shouted.
“That ‘s chess!” snapped Ron. “You’ve got to make some sacrifices! I take one
step forward and she’ll take me – that leaves you free to checkmate.the king, Harry!”
“But -”
“Do you want to stop Snape or not?”
“Ron -”
“Look, if you don’t hurry up, he’ll already have the Stone!”
There was no alternative.
“Ready?” Ron called, his face pale but determined. “Here I go – now, don’t hang
around once you’ve won.”
He stepped forward, and the white queen pounced. She st ruck Ron hard across
the head with her stone arm, and he crashed to the f loor – Hermione screamed but
stayed on her square – the white queen dragged Ron to one side. He looked as if he’d
been knocked out . Shaking, Harry moved three spaces to the left . The white king took
of f his crown and threw it at Harry’s feet . They had won. The chessmen parted and
bowed, leaving the door ahead clear. With one last desperate look back at Ron, Harry
and Hermione charged through the door and up the next passageway.
“What if he’s -?”
“He’ll be all right,” said Harry, trying to convince himself. “What do you reckon’s
next?”
“We’ve had Sprout ‘s, that was the Devil’s Snare; Flitwick must ‘ve put charms on
the keys; McGonagall t ransfigured the chessmen to make them alive; that leaves
Quirrell’s spell, and Snape’s.” They had reached another door.
“All right?” Harry whispered.
“Go on.”
Harry pushed it open.
A disgust ing smell filled their nost rils, making both of them pull their robes up
over their noses. Eyes watering, they saw, f lat on the floor in front of them, a t roll
even larger than the one they had tackled, out cold with a bloody lump on its head.
“I’m glad we didn’t have to fight that one,” Harry whispered as they stepped
carefully over one of its massive legs. “Come on, I can’t breathe.”
He pulled open the next door, both of them hardly daring to look at what came
next – but there was nothing very frightening in here, j ust a table with seven
differently shaped bottles standing on it in a line.
“Snape’s,” said Harry. “What do we have to do?”
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.
“Look!” Hermione seized a roll of paper lying next to the bot t les. Harry looked
over her shoulder to read it:
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, which ever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting bidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.
Hermione let out a great sigh and Harry, amazed, saw that she was smiling, the
very last thing he felt like doing.
“Brilliant ,” said Hermione. “This isn’t magic – it ‘s logic – a puzzle. A lot of the
greatest wizards haven’t got an ounce of logic, they’d be stuck in here forever.”
“But so will we, won’t we?” “Of course not,” said Hermione. “Everything we need
is here on this paper. Seven bot t les: three are poison; two are wine; one will get us
safely through the black fire, and one will get us back through the purple.”
“But how do we know which to drink?”
“Give me a minute.” Hermione read the paper several t imes. Then she walked
up and down the line of bot t les, mut tering to herself and point ing at them. At last ,
she clapped her hands.
“Got it ,” she said. “The smallest bot t le will get us through the black fire –
toward the Stone.”
Harry looked at the tiny bottle.
“There’s only enough there for one of us,” he said. “That ‘s hardly one swallow.”
They looked at each other. “Which one will get you back through the purple flames?”
Hermione pointed at a rounded bottle at the right end of the line.
“You drink that ,” said Harry. “No, listen, get back and get Ron. Grab brooms
from the flying- key room, they’ll get you out of the t rapdoor and past Fluffy – go
st raight to the owlery and send Hedwig to Dumbledore, we need him. I might be able
to hold Snape off for a while, but I’m no match for him, really.”
“But Harry – what if You-Know-Who’s with him?”
“Well – I was lucky once, wasn’t I?” said Harry, point ing at his scar. “I might get
lucky again.”
Hermione’s lip t rembled, and she suddenly dashed at Harry and threw her arms
around him.
“Hermione!”
“Harry – you’re a great wizard, you know.”
“I’m not as good as you,” said Harry, very embarrassed, as she let go of him.
“Me!” said Hermione. “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things –
friendship and bravery and – oh Harry – be careful!”
“You drink first,” said Harry. “You are sure which is which, aren’t you?”
“Posit ive,” said Hermione. She took a long drink from the round bot t le at the
end, and shuddered.
“It’s not poison?” said Harry anxiously.
“No – but it’s like ice.”
“Quick, go, before it wears off.”
“Good luck – take care.”
“GO!”
Hermione turned and walked st raight through the purple fire. Harry took a
deep breath and picked up the smallest bottle. He turned to ace the black flames.
“Here I come,” he said, and he drained the lit t le bot t le in one gulp. It was
indeed as though ice was flooding his body. He put the bot t le down and walked
forward; he braced himself , saw the black flames licking his body, but couldn’t feel
them – for a moment he could see nothing but dark fire – then he was on the other
side, in the last chamber.
There was already someone there – but it wasn’t Snape. It wasn’t even
Voldemort.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN – THE MAN WITH TWO FACES
It was Quirrell.
“You!” gasped Harry.
Quirrell smiled. His face wasn’t twitching at all.
“Me,” he said calmly. “I wondered whether I’d be meeting you here, Potter.”
“But I thought – Snape -”
“Severus?” Quirrell laughed, and it wasn’t his usual quivering t reble, either, but
cold and sharp. “Yes, Severus does seem the type, doesn’t he? So useful to have him
swooping around like an overgrown bat . Next to him, who would suspect p-p-poor, st –
stuttering P-Professor Quirrell?”
Harry couldn’t take it in. This couldn’t be true, it couldn’t.
“But Snape tried to kill me!”
“No, no, no. I t ried to kill you. Your friend Miss Granger accidentally knocked
me over as she rushed to set fire to Snape at that Quidditch match. She broke my eye
contact with you. Another few seconds and I’d have got you off that broom. I’d have
managed it before then if Snape hadn’t been mut tering a countercurse, t rying to save
you.”
“Snape was trying to save me?”
“Of course,” said Quirrell coolly. “Why do you think he wanted to referee your
next match? He was trying to make sure I didn’t do it again. Funny, really… he needn’t
have bothered. I couldn’t do anything.with Dumbledore watching. All the other
teachers thought Snape was t rying to stop Gryf findor from winning, he did make
himself unpopular… and what a waste of t ime, when after all that , I’m going to kill
you tonight.”
Quirrell snapped his fingers. Ropes sprang out of thin air and wrapped
themselves t ight ly around Harry. “You’re too nosy to live, Pot ter. Scurrying around the
school on Halloween like that, for all I knew you’d seen me coming to look at what was
guarding the Stone.”
“You let the troll in?”
“Certainly. I have a special gif t with t rolls – you must have seen what I did to
the one in the chamber back there? Unfortunately, while everyone else was running
around looking for it , Snape, who already suspected me, went st raight to the third
floor to head me off – and not only did my t roll fail to beat you to death, that threeheaded
dog didn’t even manage to bite Snape’s leg off properly.
“Now, wait quietly, Potter. I need to examine this interesting mirror.
It was only then that Harry realized what was standing behind Quirrell. It was
the Mirror of Erised.
“This mirror is the key to finding the Stone,” Quirrell murmured, tapping his
way around the f rame. “Trust Dumbledore to come up with something like this.. . but
he’s in London… I’ll be far away by the time he gets back….”
All Harry could think of doing was to keep Quirrell talking and stop him from
concentrating on the mirror.
“I saw you and Snape in the forest -” he blurted out.
“Yes,” said Quirrell idly, walking around the mirror to look at the back. “He was
on to me by that t ime, t rying to find out how far I’d got . He suspected me all along.
Tried to frighten me – as though he could, when I had Lord Voldemort on my side….”
Quirrell came back out from behind the mirror and stared hungrily into it.
“I see the Stone… I’m presenting it to my master… but where is it?”
Harry st ruggled against the ropes binding him, but they didn’t give. He had to
keep Quirrell from giving his whole attention to the mirror.
“But Snape always seemed to hate me so much.”
“Oh, he does,” said Quirrell casually, “heavens, yes. He was at Hogwarts with
your father, didn’t you know? They loathed each other. But he never wanted you
dead.”
“But I heard you a few days ago, sobbing – I thought Snape was.threatening
you….”
For the first time, a spasm of fear flitted across Quirrell’s face.
“Somet imes,” he said, “I find it hard to follow my master’s inst ruct ions – he is a
great wizard and I am weak -”
“You mean he was there in the classroom with you?” Harry gasped.
“He is with me wherever I go,” said Quirrell quiet ly. “I met him when I t raveled
around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good
and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there
is only power, and those too weak to seek it …. Since then, I have served him
faithfully, although I have let him down many t imes. He has had to be very hard on
me.”
Quirrell shivered suddenly. “He does not forgive mistakes easily. When I failed
to steal the stone from Gringot ts, he was most displeased. He punished me… decided
he would have to keep a closer watch on me….”
Quirrell’s voice t railed away. Harry was remembering his t rip to Diagon Alley –
how could he have been so stupid? He’d seen Quirrell there that very day, shaken
hands with him in the Leaky Cauldron.
Quirrell cursed under his breath. “I don’t understand… is the Stone inside the
mirror? Should I break it?”
Harry’s mind was racing. What I want more than anything else in the world at
the moment , he thought , is to find the Stone before Quirrell does. So if I look in the
mirror, I should see myseff finding it –which means I’ll see where it ‘s hidden! But how
can I look without Quirrell realizing what I’m up to?
He t ried to edge to the left , to get in front of the glass without Quirrell
not icing, but the ropes around his ankles were too t ight : he t ripped and fell over.
Quirrell ignored him. He was st ill talking to himself . “What does this mirror do? How
does it work? Help me, Master!”
And to Harry’s horror, a voice answered, and the voice seemed to come from
Quirrell himself, “Use the boy… Use the boy…”
Quirrell rounded on Harry.
“Yes – Potter – come here.”
He clapped his hands once, and the ropes binding Harry fell off. Harry got
slowly to his feet.
“Come here,” Quirrell repeated. “Look in the mirror and tell me what you
see.”.Harry walked toward him.
I must lie, he thought desperately. I must look and lie about what I see, that ‘s
all. Quirrell moved close behind him. Harry breathed in the funny smell that seemed
to come from Quirrell’s turban. He closed his eyes, stepped in f ront of the mirror, and
opened them again.
He saw his ref lect ion, pale and scared-looking at first . But a moment later, the
reflect ion smiled at him. It put its hand into its pocket and pulled out a blood-red
stone. It winked and put the Stone back in its pocket – and as it did so, Harry felt
something heavy drop into his real pocket . Somehow – incredibly – he’d got ten the
Stone.
“Well?” said Quirrell impatiently. “What do you see?”
Harry screwed up his courage.
“I see myself shaking hands with Dumbledore,” he invented. “I – I’ve won the
house cup for Gryffindor.”
Quirrell cursed again.
“Get out of the way,” he said. As Harry moved aside, he felt the Sorcerer’s
Stone against his leg. Dare he make a break for it? But he hadn’t walked five paces
before a high voice spoke, though Quirrell wasn’t moving his lips.
“He lies… He lies…”
“Pot ter, come back here!” Quirrell shouted. “Tell me the t ruth! What did you
just see?”
The high voice spoke again.
“Let me speak to him… face-to-face…”
“Master, you are not strong enough!”
“I have strength enough… for this….”
Harry felt as if Devil’s Snare was root ing him to the spot . He couldn’t move a
muscle. Pet rified, he watched as Quirrell reached up and began to unwrap his turban.
What was going on? The turban fell away. Quirrell’s head looked st rangely small
without it. Then he turned slowly on the spot.
Harry would have screamed, but he couldn’t make a sound. Where there should
have been a back to Quirrell’s head, there was a face, the most terrible face Harry had
ever seen. It was chalk white with glaring red eyes and slits for nostrils, like a snake.
“Harry Pot ter…” it whispered..Harry t ried to take a step backward but his legs
wouldn’t move. “See what I have become?” the face said. “Mere shadow and vapor … I
have form only when I can share another’s body… but there have always been those
willing to let me into their hearts and minds…. Unicorn blood has st rengthened me,
these past weeks… you saw faithful Quirrell drinking it for me in the forest … and
once I have the Elixir of Life, I will be able to create a body of my own…. Now… why
don’t you give me that Stone in your pocket?”
So he knew. The feeling suddenly surged back into Harry’s legs. He stumbled
backward.
“Don’t be a fool,” snarled the face. “Bet ter save your own life and join me… or
you’ll meet the same end as your parents…. They died begging me for mercy…”
“LIAR!” Harry shouted suddenly.
Quirrell was walking backward at him, so that Voldemort could st ill see him.
The evil face was now smiling. “How touching…” it hissed. “I always value bravery…
Yes, boy, your parents were brave…. I killed your father first ; and he put up a
courageous f ight … but your mother needn’t have died… she was t rying to protect
you…. Now give me the Stone, unless you want her to have died in vain.”
“NEVER!”
Harry sprang toward the flame door, but Voldemort screamed “SEIZE HIM!” and
the next second, Harry felt Quirrell’s hand close on his wrist . At once, a needle-sharp
pain seared across Harry’s scar; his head felt as though it was about to split in two; he
yelled, st ruggling with all his might , and to his surprise, Quirrell let go of him. The
pain in his head lessened – he looked around wildly to see where Quirrell had gone,
and saw him hunched in pain, looking at his fingers – they were blistering before his
eyes.
“Seize him! SEIZE HIM!” shrieked Voldemort again, and Quirrell lunged, knocking
Harry clean off his feet’ landing on top of him, both hands around Harry’s neck – Harry’s
scar was almost blinding him with pain, yet he could see Quirrell howling in agony.
“Master, I cannot hold him – my hands – my hands!”
And Quirrell, though pinning Harry to the ground with his knees, let go of his
neck and stared, bewildered, at his own palms –Harry could see they looked burned,
raw, red, and shiny.
“Then kill him, fool, and be done!” screeched Voldemort.
Quirrell raised his hand to perform a deadly curse, but Harry, by inst inct ,
reached up and grabbed Quirrell’s face –
“AAAARGH!” Quirrell rolled off him, his face blistering, too, and then Harry
knew: Quirrell couldn’t touch his bare skin, not without suf fering terrible pain – his
only chance was to keep hold of Quirrell, keep him in enough pain to stop him from
doing a curse.
Harry j umped to his feet , caught Quirrell by the arm, and hung on as t ight as
he could. Quirrell screamed and t ried to throw Harry off –the pain in Harry’s head was
building – he couldn’t see – he could only hear Quirrell’s terrible shrieks and
Voldemort ‘s yells of, “KILL HIM! KILL HIM!” and other voices, maybe in Harry’s own
head, crying, “Harry! Harry!”
He felt Quirrell’s arm wrenched from his grasp, knew all was lost , and fell into
blackness, down … down… down…
Something gold was glint ing j ust above him. The Snitch! He t ried to catch it ,
but his arms were too heavy. He blinked. It wasn’t the Snitch at all. It was a pair of
glasses. How st range. He blinked again. The smiling face of Albus Dumbledore swam
into view above him.
“Good afternoon, Harry,” said Dumbledore. Harry stared at him. Then he
remembered: “Sir! The Stone! It was Quirrell! He’s got the Stone! Sir, quick -”
“Calm yourself, dear boy, you are a lit t le behind the t imes,” said Dumbledore.
“Quirrell does not have the Stone.”
“Then who does? Sir, I -”
“Harry, please relax, or Madam Pomfrey will have me thrown out . Harry
swallowed and looked around him. He realized he must be in the hospital wing. He
was lying in a bed with white linen sheets, and next to him was a table piled high with
what looked like half the candy shop.
“Tokens from your friends and admirers,” said Dumbledore, beaming. “What
happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrell is a complete
secret , so, naturally, the whole school knows. I believe your friends Misters Fred and
George Weasley were responsible for t rying to send you a toilet seat . No doubt they
thought it would amuse you. Madam Pomfrey, however, felt it might not be very
hygienic, and confiscated it.”
“How long have I been in here?”
“Three days. Mr. Ronald Weasley and Miss Granger will be most relieved you
have come round, they have been extremely worried.”
“But sir, the Stone I see you are not to be dist racted. Very well, the Stone.
Professor Quirrell did not manage to take it from you. I arrived in t ime to prevent
that, although you were doing very well on your own, I must say.”
“You got there? You got Hermione’s owl?”
“We must have crossed in midair. No sooner had I reached London than it
became clear to me that the place I should be was the one I had j ust left . I arrived
just in time to pull Quirrell off you.”
“It was you.”
“I feared I might be too late.”
“You nearly were, I couldn’t have kept him off the Stone much longer -”
“Not the Stone, boy, you – the effort involved nearly killed you. For one terrible
moment there, I was afraid it had. As for the Stone, it has been destroyed.”
“Destroyed?” said Harry blankly. “But your friend – Nicolas Flamel -”
“Oh, you know about Nicolas?” said Dumbledore, sounding quite delighted. “You
did do the thing properly, didn’t you?Well, Nicolas and I have had a lit t le chat , and
agreed it’s all for the best.”
“But that means he and his wife will die, won’t they?”
“They have enough Elixir stored to set their affairs in order and then, yes, they
will die.”
Dumbledore smiled at the look of amazement on Harry’s face. “To one as young as you,
I’m sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed
after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next
great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much
money and life as you could want ! The two things most human beings would choose
above all – the t rouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things
that are worst for them.” Harry lay there, lost for words. Dumbledore hummed a lit t le
and smiled at the ceiling.
“Sir?” said Harry. “I’ve been thinking… sir – even if the Stone’s gone, Vol-, I
mean, You-Know-Who -”
“Call him Voldemort , Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a
name increases fear of the thing itself.”
“Yes, sir. Well, Voldemort ‘s going to t ry other ways of coming back, isn’t he? I
mean, he hasn’t gone, has he?”
“No, Harry, he has not . He is st ill out there somewhere, perhaps looking for
another body to share… not being t ruly alive, he cannot be killed. He left Quirrell to
die; he shows j ust as lit t le mercy to his followers as his enemies. Nevertheless, Harry,
while you may only have delayed his return to power, it will merely take someone else
who is prepared to.fight what seems a losing bat t le next t ime – and if he is delayed
again, and again, why, he may never return to power.”
Harry nodded, but stopped quickly, because it made his head hurt . Then he
said, “Sir, there are some other things I’d like to know, if you can tell me… things I
want to know the truth about….”
“The t ruth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beaut iful and terrible thing, and should
therefore be treated with great caution. However, I shall answer your questions unless
I have a very good reason not to, in which case I beg you’ll forgive me. I shall not , of
course, lie.”
“Well… Voldemort said that he only killed my mother because she t ried to stop
him from killing me. But why would he want to kill me in the first place?”
Dumbledore sighed very deeply this time.
“Alas, the first thing you ask me, I cannot tell you. Not today. Not now. You will
know, one day… put it from your mind for now, Harry. When you are older… I know
you hate to hear this… when you are ready, you will know.”
And Harry knew it would be no good to argue. “But why couldn’t Quirrell touch
me?”
“Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot
understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you
leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even
though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protect ion forever. It is in
your very skin. Quirrell, full of hat red, greed, and ambit ion, sharing his soul with
Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked
by something so good.”
Dumbledore now became very interested in a bird out on the windowsill, which
gave Harry time to dry his eyes on the sheet. When he had found his voice again, Harry
said, “And the invisibility cloak – do you know who sent it to me?”
“Ah – your father happened to leave it in my possession, and I thought you
might like it .” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “Useful things… your father used it mainly
for sneaking off to the kitchens to steal food when he was here.”
“And there’s something else…”
“Fire away.”
“Quirrell said Snape -”
“Professor Snape, Harry.” “Yes, him – Quirrell said he hates me because he
hated my father. Is that true?”
“Well, they did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy.
And then, your father did something Snape could never forgive.”
“What?”
“He saved his life.”
“What?”
“Yes…” said Dumbledore dreamily. “Funny, the way people’s minds work, isn’t
it?Professor Snape couldn’t bear being in your father’s debt …. I do believe he worked
so hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and your father
even. Then he could go back to hating your father’s memory in peace….”
Harry tried to understand this but it made his head pound, so he stopped.
“And sir, there’s one more thing…”
“Just the one?”
“How did I get the Stone out of the mirror?”
“Ah, now, I’m glad you asked me that . It was one of my more brilliant ideas,
and between you and me, that ‘s saying something. You see, only one who wanted to
find the Stone – find it , but not use it –would be able to get it , otherwise they’d j ust
see themselves making gold or drinking Elixir of Life. My brain surprises even me
somet imes…. Now, enough quest ions. I suggest you make a start on these sweets. Ah!
Bet t ie Bot t ‘s Every Flavor Beans! I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across
a vomitflavored one, and since then I’m afraid I’ve rather lost my liking for them – but I
think I’ll be safe with a nice toffee, don’t you?”
He smiled and popped the golden-brown bean into his mouth. Then he choked
and said, “Alas! Ear wax!”
Madam Pomfrey, the nurse, was a nice woman, but very strict.
“Just five minutes,” Harry pleaded.
“Absolutely not.”
“You let Professor Dumbledore in.…”
“Well, of course, that was the headmaster, quite different. You need rest.”
“I am resting, look, lying down and everything. Oh, go on, Madam Pomfrey…”
“Oh, very well,” she said. “But five minutes only.”
And she let Ron and Hermione in.
“Harry!”
Hermione looked ready to fling her arms around him again, but Harry was glad
she held herself in as his head was st ill very sore. “Oh, Harry, we were sure you were
going to – Dumbledore was so worried-”
“The whole school’s talking about it,” said Ron. “What really happened?”
It was one of those rare occasions when the true story is even more strange and
excit ing than the wild rumors. Harry told them everything: Quirrell; the mirror; the
Stone; and Voldemort . Ron and Hermione were a very good audience; they gasped in
all the right places, and when Harry told them what was under Quirrell’s turban,
Hermione screamed out loud.
“So the Stone’s gone?” said Ron finally. “Flamel’s just going to die?”
“That ‘s what I said, but Dumbledore thinks that – what was it? – ‘to the wellorganized
mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
“I always said he was off his rocker,” said Ron, looking quite impressed at how
crazy his hero was.
“So what happened to you two?” said Harry.
“Well, I got back all right ,” said Hermione. “I brought Ron round – that took a
while – and we were dashing up to the owlery to contact Dumbledore when we met
him in the ent rance hall – he already knew – he j ust said, ‘Harry’s gone af ter him,
hasn’t he?’ and hurtled off to the third floor.”
“D’you think he meant you to do it?” said Ron. “Sending you your father’s cloak
and everything?”
“Well, ” Hermione exploded, “if he did – I mean to say that’s terrible – you could
have been killed.”
“No, it isn’t,” said Harry thoughtfully. “He’s a funny man, Dumbledore. I think he
sort of wanted to give me a chance. I think he knows more or less everything that goes
on here, you know. I reckon he had a pret ty good idea we were going to t ry, and
instead of stopping us, he j ust taught us enough to help. I don’t think it was an
accident he let me find out how the mirror worked. It ‘s almost like he thought I had
the right to face Voldemort if I could….”
“Yeah, Dumbledore’s off his rocker, all right,” said Ron proudly.
“Listen, you’ve got to be up for the end-of-year feast tomorrow. The points are
all in and Slytherin won, of course – you missed the last Quidditch match, we were
steamrollered by Ravenclaw without you – but the food’ll be good.”
At that moment, Madam Pomfrey bustled over.
“You’ve had nearly fifteen minutes, now OUT” she said firmly.
After a good night ‘s sleep, Harry felt nearly back to normal..I want to go to the
feast ,” he told Madam Pomfrey as she st raightened his many candy boxes. “ I can, can’t
I?”
“Professor Dumbledore says you are to be allowed to go,” she said st iffily, as
though in her opinion Professor Dumbledore didn’t realize how risky feasts could be.
“And you have another visitor.”
“Oh, good,” said Harry. “Who is it?”
Hagrid sidled through the door as he spoke. As usual when he was indoors,
Hagrid looked too big to be allowed. He sat down next to Harry, took one look at him,
and burst into tears.
“It’s – all – my – ruddy – fault!” he sobbed, his face in his hands.
I told the evil git how ter get past Fluf fy! I told him! It was the only thing he
didn’t know, an’ I told him! Yeh could’ve died! All fer a dragon egg! I’ll never drink
again! I should be chucked out an’ made ter live as a Muggle!”
“Hagrid!” said Harry, shocked to see Hagrid shaking with grief and remorse,
great tears leaking down into his beard. “Hagrid, he’d have found out somehow, this is
Voldemort we’re talking about, he’d have found out even if you hadn’t told him.”
“Yeh could’ve died!” sobbed Hagrid. “An’ don’ say the name!”
“VOLDEMORT!” Harry bellowed, and Hagrid was so shocked, he stopped crying.
“I’ve met him and I’m calling him by his name. Please cheer up, Hagrid, we saved the
Stone, it’s gone, he can’t use it. Have a Chocolate Frog, I’ve got loads….”
Hagrid wiped his nose on the back of his hand and said, “That reminds me. I’ve
got yeh a present.”
“It ‘s not a stoat sandwich, is it?” said Harry anxiously, and at last Hagrid gave a
weak chuckle.
“Nah. Dumbledore gave me the day of f yesterday ter fix it . ‘Course, he shoulda
sacked me instead – anyway, got yeh this…”
It seemed to be a handsome, leather-covered book. Harry opened it curiously.
It was full of wizard photographs. Smiling and waving at him from every page were his
mother and father.
“Sent owls of f ter all yer parents’ old school friends, askin’ fer photos… knew
yeh didn’ have any… d’yeh like it?” Harry couldn’t speak, but Hagrid understood.
Harry made his way down to the end-of-year feast alone that night . He had
been held up by Madam Pomfrey’s fussing about , insist ing on giving him one last
checkup, so the Great Hall was already full. It was decked out in the Slytherin colors
of green and silver to celebrate Slytherin’s winning the house cup for the seventh year
in a row. A huge banner showing the Slytherin serpent covered the wall behind the
High Table.
When Harry walked in there was a sudden hush, and then everybody started
talking loudly at once. He slipped into a seat between Ron and Hermione at the
Gryf findor table and t ried to ignore the fact that people were standing up to look at
him. Fortunately, Dumbledore arrived moments later. The babble died away.
“Another year gone!” Dumbledore said cheerfully. “And I must t rouble you with
an old man’s wheezing waf fle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast . What a
year it has been! Hopefully your heads are all a little fuller than they were… you have
the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year starts….
“Now, as I understand it , the house cup here needs awarding, and the points
stand thus: In fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third,
Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty-two; Ravenclaw has four hundred and twentysix
and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy- two.”
A storm of cheering and stamping broke out from the Slytherin table. Harry
could see Draco Malfoy banging his goblet on the table. It was a sickening sight.
“Yes, Yes, well done, Slytherin,” said Dumbledore. “However, recent events
must be taken into account .” The room went very st ill. The Slytherins’ smiles faded a
little.
“Ahem,” said Dumbledore. “I have a few last -minute points to dish out . Let me
see. Yes… First – to Mr. Ronald Weasley…”
Ron went purple in the face; he looked like a radish with a bad sunburn. “…for
the best -played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Gryffindor
house fifty points.”
Gryffindor cheers nearly raised the bewitched ceiling; the stars overhead
seemed to quiver. Percy could be heard telling the other prefects, “My brother, you
know! My youngest brother! Got past McGonagall’s giant chess set!”
At last there was silence again.
“Second – to Miss Hermione Granger… for the use of cool logic in the face of
fire, I award Gryffindor house fifty points.”
Hermione buried her face in her arms; Harry st rongly suspected she had burst
into tears. Gryffindors up and down the table were beside themselves – they were a
hundred points up.
“Third – to Mr. Harry Pot ter…” said Dumbledore. The room went deadly quiet
for pure nerve and outstanding courage, I award Gryffindor house sixty points.”
The din was deafening. Those who could add up while yelling themselves
hoarse knew that Gryffindor now had four hundred and seventy-two points – exactly
the same as Slytherin. They had t ied for the house cup – if only Dumbledore had given
Harry just one more point. Dumbledore raised his hand. The room gradually fell silent.
“There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great
deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but j ust as much to stand up to our
friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.”
Someone standing outside the Great Hall might well have thought some sort of
explosion had taken place, so loud was the noise that erupted f rom the Gryff indor
table. Harry, Ron, and Hermione stood up to yell and cheer as Neville, white with
shock, disappeared under a pile of people hugging him. He had never won so much as
a point for Gryffindor before. Harry, st ill cheering, nudged Ron in the ribs and pointed
at Malfoy, who couldn’t have looked more stunned and horrified if he’d j ust had the
Body-Bind Curse put on him.
“Which means, Dumbledore called over the storm of applause, for even
Ravenclaw and Huff lepuff were celebrating the downfall of Slytherin, “we need a little
change of decoration.”
He clapped his hands. In an instant , the green hangings became scarlet and the
silver became gold; the huge Slytherin serpent vanished and a towering Gryffindor lion
took its place. Snape was shaking Professor McGonagall’s hand, with a horrible, forced
smile. He caught Harry’s eye and Harry knew at once that Snape’s feelings toward him
hadn’t changed one jot.
This didn’t worry Harry. It seemed as though life would be back to normal next
year, or as normal as it ever was at Hogwarts. It was the best evening of Harry’s life,
bet ter than winning at Quidditch, or Christmas, or knocking out mountain t rolls… he
would never, ever forget tonight.
Harry had almost forgot ten that the exam results were st ill to come, but come
they did. To their great surprise, both he and Ron passed with good marks; Hermione,
of course, had the best grades of the f irst years. Even Neville scraped through, his
good Herbology mark making up for his abysmal Pot ions one. They had hoped that
Goyle, who was almost as stupid as he was mean, might be thrown out , but he had
passed, too. It was a shame, but as Ron said, you couldn’t have everything in life.
And suddenly, their wardrobes were empty, their t runks were packed, Neville’s
toad was found lurking in a corner of the toilets; notes were handed out to all
students, warning them not to use magic over the holidays (“I always hope they’ll
forget to give us these,” said Fred Weasley sadly); Hagrid was there to take them down
to the fleet of boats that sailed across the lake; they were boarding the Hogwarts
Express; talking and laughing as the count ryside became greener and t idier; eat ing
Bet t ie Bot t ‘s Every Flavor Beans as they sped past Muggle towns; pulling off their
wizard robes and put t ing on j ackets and coats; pulling into plat form nine and threequarters
at King’s Cross Station.
It took quite a while for them all to get off the plat form. A wizened old guard
was up by the t icket barrier, let t ing them go through the gate.in twos and threes so
they didn’t at t ract at tent ion by all burst ing out of a solid wall at once and alarming
the Muggles.
“You must come and stay this summer,” said Ron, “both of you – I’ll send you an
owl.”
“Thanks,” said Harry, “I’ll need something to look forward to.” People j ost led
them as they moved forward toward the gateway back to the Muggle world. Some of
them called:
“Bye, Harry!”
“See you, Potter!”
“Still famous,” said Ron, grinning at him.
“Not where I’m going, I promise you,” said Harry. He, Ron, and Hermione passed
through the gateway together. “There he is, Mom, there he is, look!”
It was Ginny Weasley, Ron’s younger sister, but she wasn’t pointing at Ron.
“Harry Potter!” she squealed. “Look, Mom! I can see him!”
“Be quiet, Ginny, and it’s rude to point.”
Mrs. Weasley smiled down at them. “Busy year?” she said.
“Very,” said Harry. “Thanks for the fudge and the sweater, Mrs. Weasley.”
“Oh, it was nothing, dear.”
“Ready, are you?”
It was Uncle Vernon, st ill purple-faced, st ill mustached, st ill looking furious at
the nerve of Harry, carrying an owl in a cage in a stat ion full of ordinary people.
Behind him stood Aunt Petunia and Dudley, looking terrified at the very sight of Harry.
“You must be Harry’s family!” said Mrs. Weasley.
“In a manner of speaking,” said Uncle Vernon. “Hurry up, boy, we haven’t got all
day.” He walked away. Harry hung back for a last word with Ron and Hermione.
“See you over the summer, then.”
“Hope you have – er – a good holiday,” said Hermione, looking uncertainly after
Uncle Vernon, shocked that anyone could be so unpleasant.
“Oh, I will,” said Harry, and they were surprised at the grin that was spreading
over his face. “They don’t know we’re not allowed to use magic at home. I’m going to
have a lot of fun with Dudley this summer….”

Tentang taoefiq27

I'm only usual man
Pos ini dipublikasikan di Harry Potter, Novel dan tag . Tandai permalink.

Tinggalkan Balasan

Isikan data di bawah atau klik salah satu ikon untuk log in:

Logo WordPress.com

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Logout / Ubah )

Gambar Twitter

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Logout / Ubah )

Foto Facebook

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Logout / Ubah )

Foto Google+

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Logout / Ubah )

Connecting to %s