When a letter arrives for unhappy but
ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret
is revealed to him. His parents were
wizards, killed by a Dark Lord’s curse
when Harry was just a baby, and which he
somehow survived. Escaping from his
unbearable Muggle guardians to Hogwarts,
a wizarding school brimming with ghosts
and enchantments, Harry stumbles into a
sinister adventure when he finds a three-
headed dog guarding a room on the third
floor. Then he hears of a missing stone
with astonishing powers which could be
valuable, dangerous, or both.
‘Funny, imaginative, magical ... Rowling has
woken up a whole generation to reading. In
the 2020s, thirty-something book-lovers
will know each other by smug references
to Diagon Alley and Quidditch’ The Times
‘This is a terrific book’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Has all the makings of a classic ... Rowling
uses classic narrative devices with flair and
originality and delivers a complex and
demanding plot in the form of a hugely
entertaining thriller’ Scotsman
‘And you thought wizardry was for
children. Harry Potter will make you think
again. He casts his spells on grown-
ups too’ James Naughtie
‘Full of surprises and jokes; comparisons
with Dahl are, this time, justified’
Harry Potter and the
Titles available in the Harry Potter series
(in reading order):
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Titles available in the Harry Potter series
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
(in Welsh, Ancient Greek and Irish):
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Harry Potter and the
J. K. Rowling
All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying
or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher
First published in Great Britain in 1997
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 36 Soho Square, London, W1D 3QY
This digital edition should have been published by Pottermore Limited in 2012 Copyright © 1997 J. K. Rowling Harry Potter, names, characters and related indicia are
copyright and trademark Warner Bros., 2000™
The moral right of the author has been asserted
A CIP catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978 0 7475 7360 9 The paper this book is printed on is certified by the © 1996 Forest Stewardship
Council A.C. (FSC). It is ancient-forest friendly. The printer holds
FSC chain of custody SGS-COC-2061.
FSC Mixed Sources Product group from well-managed
forests and other controlled sources
Cert no. SGS-COC-2061
©1996 Forest Stewardship Council
Printed in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc
Typeset by Dorchester Typesetting
5 7 9 10 8 6 4 www.bloomsbury.com/harrypotter
for Jessica, who loves stories,
for Anne, who loved them too,
and for Di, who heard this one first.
— CHAPTER ONE —
The Boy Who Lived
Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to
say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They
were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything
strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such
Mr Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which
made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck,
although he did have a very large moustache. 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 time craning
over garden fences, spying on the neighbours. The Dursleys had a
small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer
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 Potters. Mrs Potter 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 neighbours would say if the Potters
arrived in the street. The Dursleys knew that the Potters 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, grey Tuesday
our story starts, there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to
suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be hap-
pening all over the country. Mr Dursley hummed as he picked out
his most boring tie for work and Mrs Dursley gossiped away
8 Harry Potter
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 tried to kiss Dudley goodbye but
missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing
his cereal at the walls. ‘Little tyke,’ chortled Mr Dursley as he left
the house. He got into his car and backed out of number four’s
It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign
of something peculiar – a cat reading a map. For a second, Mr
Dursley didn’t realise 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 trick 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 little shake and put the cat out of his
mind. As he drove towards 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 traffic jam, he
couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely
dressed people about. People in cloaks. Mr Dursley couldn’t bear
people who dressed in funny clothes – the get-ups 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 whis-
pering 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 struck Mr Dursley that this was probably some
silly stunt – these people were obviously collecting for something
… yes, that would be it. The traffic moved on, and a few minutes
later, Mr Dursley arrived in the Grunnings car park, 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
concentrate on drills that morning. He didn’t see the owls
The Boy Who Lived 9
swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in the
street did; they pointed and gazed open-mouthed as owl after owl
sped overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl even at night-
time. Mr Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morn-
ing. He yelled at five different people. He made several important
telephone calls and shouted a bit more. He was in a very good
mood until lunch-time, when he thought he’d stretch his legs
and walk across the road to buy himself a bun from the baker’s
He’d forgotten all about the people in cloaks until 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 lot
were whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn’t see a single
collecting tin. 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
‘The Potters, that’s right, that’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 dialling his home number when he
changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his
moustache, thinking … no, he was being stupid. Potter wasn’t
such an unusual name. He was sure there were lots of people
called Potter 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
mention 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 concentrate on drills that afternoon,
and when he left the building at five o’clock, he was still so
worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door.
‘Sorry,’ he grunted, as the tiny old man stumbled and almost
fell. It was a few seconds before Mr Dursley realised that the man
was wearing a violet cloak. He didn’t seem at all upset at being
almost knocked to the ground. On the contrary, his face split into
10 Harry Potter
a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passers-by
stare: ‘Don’t be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me
today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last! Even
Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy
And the old man hugged Mr Dursley around the middle and
Mr Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a
complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle,
whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his car and set
off 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
spotted that morning. It was now sitting 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 just gave him a stern look. Was this nor-
mal cat behaviour, Mr Dursley wondered. Trying to pull himself
together, he let himself into the house. He was still determined
not to mention anything to his wife.
Mrs Dursley had had a nice, normal day. She told him over din-
ner all about Mrs Next Door’s problems with her daughter and
how Dudley had learnt a new word (‘Shan’t!’). Mr Dursley tried 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
nation’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 sightings of these birds flying in
every direction since sunrise. Experts are unable to explain why
the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern.’ The news
reader 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 acting 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 shooting stars! Perhaps people have been
The Boy Who Lived 11
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. Shooting stars all over
Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all
over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters …
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 …
shooting stars … and there were a lot of funny-looking people in
town today …’
‘So?’ snapped Mrs Dursley.
‘Well, I just thought … maybe … it was something to do with …
you know … her lot.’
Mrs Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr Dursley
wondered whether he dared tell her he’d heard the name ‘Potter’.
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
He didn’t say another word on the subject 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 still there. It was staring down Privet Drive as though
it was waiting for something.
Was he imagining things? Could all this have anything to do
with the Potters? 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,
comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the
Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near
him and Mrs Dursley. The Potters knew very well what he and
12 Harry Potter
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 drifting into an uneasy sleep, but
the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It
was sitting as still 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 in 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 silently you’d have thought he’d just
popped out of the ground. The cat’s tail twitched and its eyes
Nothing like this man had ever been seen in Privet Drive. He
was tall, thin and very old, judging 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 which 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 realise that he had just
arrived in a street 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 realise he was being watched,
because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring
at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight
of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, ‘I
should have known.’
He had found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It
seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter. He flicked it open, held it
up in the air and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with
a little pop. He clicked it again – the next lamp flickered into
darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only
lights left in the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the dis-
tance, 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
The Boy Who Lived 13
his cloak and set off down the street towards 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 exactly 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 stiff if you’d been sitting on a brick wall all day,’ said
‘All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have
passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here.’
Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.
‘Oh yes, everyone’s celebrating, all right,’ she said impatiently.
‘You’d think they’d be a bit more careful, but no – even the
Muggles have noticed something’s going on. It was on their news.’
She jerked her head back at the Dursleys’ dark living-room
window. ‘I heard it. Flocks of owls … shooting stars … Well,
they’re not completely stupid. They were bound to notice
something. Shooting stars down in Kent – I’ll bet that was Dedalus
Diggle. He never had much sense.’
‘You can’t blame them,’ said Dumbledore gently. ‘We’ve had
precious little 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 streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle
clothes, swapping rumours.’
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 sherbet lemon?’
‘A sherbet lemon. They’re a kind of Muggle sweet I’m rather
14 Harry Potter
‘No, thank you,’ said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though
she didn’t think this was the moment for sherbet lemons. ‘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 trying to persuade people to call him by
his proper name: Voldemort.’ Professor McGonagall flinched, but
Dumbledore, who was unsticking two sherbet lemons, 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
‘You flatter 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 to the rumours 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 waiting
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 until Dumbledore told her it was true.
Dumbledore, however, was choosing another sherbet lemon 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 Potters. The
rumour is that Lily and James Potter are – are – that they’re –
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 patted her on the shoulder. ‘I
The Boy Who Lived 15
know … I know …’ he said heavily.
Professor McGonagall’s voice trembled as she went on. ‘That’s
not all. They’re saying he tried to kill the Potters’ son, Harry. But –
he couldn’t. He couldn’t kill that little 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 true?’ faltered Professor McGonagall. ‘After all he’s
done … all the people he’s killed … he couldn’t kill a little boy? It’s
just 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, little 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 letter?’ repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back
down on the wall. ‘Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain
all this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He’ll
be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today was
known as Harry Potter Day in future – there will be books written
about Harry – every child in our world will know his name!’
‘Exactly,’ said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top
16 Harry Potter
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 better 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 getting here, Dumbledore?’ She eyed his cloak
suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry
‘Hagrid’s bringing him.’
‘You think it – wise – to trust Hagrid with something as impor-
tant 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 street for
some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked
up at the sky – and a huge motorbike fell out of the air and landed
on the road in front of them.
If the motorbike was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting
astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least
five times 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 dustbin 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 motorbike?’
‘Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir,’ said the giant, climbing
carefully off the motorbike as he spoke. ‘Young Sirius Black lent it
me. I’ve got him, sir.’
‘No problems, were there?’
‘No, sir – house was almost destroyed 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, just visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep.
Under a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a
The Boy Who Lived 17
curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.
‘Is that where –?’ whispered Professor McGonagall.
‘Yes,’ said Dumbledore. ‘He’ll have that scar for ever.’
‘Couldn’t you do something about it, Dumbledore?’
‘Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Scars can come in useful. I have
one myself above my left knee which 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 towards the
‘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 handker-
chief 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, patting Hagrid
gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden
wall and walked to the front door. He laid Harry gently on the
doorstep, took a letter 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 little 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’d best get
this bike away. G’night, Professor McGonagall – Professor
Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung
himself on to the motorbike and kicked the engine into life; with
a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.
‘I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall,’ said
Dumbledore, nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose
Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the
18 Harry Potter
corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it
once and twelve balls of light sped back to their street 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
street. He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of
‘Good luck, Harry,’ he murmured. He turned on his heel and
with a swish of his cloak he was gone.
A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay
silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would
expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over
inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on
the letter 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’ time by Mrs Dursley’s scream as she opened the front
door to put out the milk bottles, 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 meeting in secret
all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in
hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter – 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 front step, but Privet Drive had hardly
changed at all. The sun rose on the same tidy front gardens and lit
up the brass number four on the Dursleys’ front 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 time had passed. Ten years ago, there
had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach
ball wearing different-coloured bobble hats – but Dudley Dursley
was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large,
blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a roundabout 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 Potter was still there, asleep at the moment, but not
for long. His Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her shrill voice
which 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 towards the
kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the
cooker. He rolled on to his back and tried to remember the dream
he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a
flying motorbike in it. He had a funny feeling he’d had the same
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
20 Harry Potter
don’t you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy’s
‘What did you say?’ his aunt snapped through the door.
‘Nothing, nothing …’
Dudley’s birthday – how could he have forgotten? Harry got
slowly out of bed and started looking for socks. He found a pair
under his bed and, after pulling a spider off 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 pres-
ents. It looked as though Dudley had got the new computer he
wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike.
Exactly 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 favourite punch-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 times 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 Sellotape because of all the times
Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked
about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead
which was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as
he could remember and the first question he could ever remember
asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had got it.
‘In the car crash when your parents died,’ she had said. ‘And
don’t ask questions.’
Don’t ask questions – that was the first rule for a quiet life with
Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over
‘Comb your hair!’ he barked, by way of a morning greeting.
About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over the top of his
newspaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut. Harry must
The Vanishing Glass 21
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 time 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 Auntie Marge’s present, see, it’s
here under this big one from Mummy and Daddy.’
‘All right, thirty-seven then,’ said Dudley, going red in the face.
Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum 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.
‘Little tyke wants his money’s worth, just like his father. Atta
boy, Dudley!’ He ruffled 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 cine-camera, a remote-control aeroplane, sixteen
new computer games and a video recorder. 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
22 Harry Potter
leap. Every year on Dudley’s birthday his parents took him and a
friend out for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger bars or the
cinema. 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 holiday in Majorca,’ snapped Aunt Petunia.
‘You could just 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
The Vanishing Glass 23
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
sitting in the back of the Dursleys’ car with Piers and Dudley, on
the way to the zoo for the first time 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, putting 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, strange things often happened around Harry
and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn’t make them
Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the bar-
ber’s 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 fringe, 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 Sellotaped glasses. Next
morning, however, he had got 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 tried to explain
that he couldn’t explain how it had grown back so quickly.
Another time, Aunt Petunia had been trying to force him into a
revolting old jumper of Dudley’s (brown with orange bobbles).
The harder she tried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed
to become, until finally it might have fitted a glove 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
On the other hand, he’d got into terrible trouble 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 sitting on the chimney. The Dursleys had
received a very angry letter from Harry’s headmistress telling them
Harry had been climbing school buildings. But all he’d tried to do
24 Harry Potter
(as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of his
cupboard) was jump behind the big bins outside the kitchen
doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in
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
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 just a few of his favourite
subjects. This morning, it was motorbikes.
‘ … roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums,’ he said,
as a motorbike overtook them.
‘I had a dream about a motorbike,’ 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
beetroot with a moustache, ‘MOTORBIKES 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 questions, it was his
talking about anything acting in a way it shouldn’t, no matter 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 lolly. It wasn’t bad
either, Harry thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratch-
ing its head and looking remarkably like Dudley, except that it
Harry had the best morning he’d had in a long time. He was
careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley
and Piers, who were starting to get bored with the animals by
lunch-time, wouldn’t fall back on their favourite hobby of hitting
him. They ate in the zoo restaurant and when Dudley had a
tantrum because his knickerbocker glory wasn’t big enough,
The Vanishing Glass 25
Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to
finish the first.
Harry felt, afterwards, that he should have known it was all too
good to last.
After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark
in here, 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, poison-
ous 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 dust-
bin – but at the moment it didn’t look in the mood. In fact, it was
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
smartly 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 intently 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 trying 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 its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry’s.
Harry stared. Then he looked quickly around to see if anyone
was watching. They weren’t. He looked back at the snake and
The snake jerked its head towards 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.
26 Harry Potter
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
Dudley came waddling towards 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 floor. 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 constrictor’s
tank had vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly,
slithering out on to the floor – people throughout the reptile
house screamed and started running for the exits.
As the snake slid swiftly 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 strong
sweet tea while he apologised 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 time they were all back in Uncle Vernon’s car,
Dudley was telling them how it had nearly bitten off his leg, while
Piers was swearing it had tried 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 until Piers was safely out of the house
before starting 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
The Vanishing Glass 27
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. Sometimes, when he
strained his memory during long hours in his cupboard, he came
up with a strange vision: a blinding flash 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
questions. There were no photographs of them in the house.
When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed
of some unknown relation coming to take him away, but it had
never happened; the Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes
he thought (or maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed
to know him. Very strange strangers they were, too. A tiny 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 street 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 Potter 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 constrictor earned Harry his
longest-ever punishment. By the time he was allowed out of his
cupboard again, the summer holidays had started and Dudley had
already broken his new cine-camera, crashed his remote-control
aeroplane and, first time 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 favourite
This was why Harry spent as much time as possible out of the
house, wandering around and thinking about the end of the holi-
days, where he could see a tiny ray of hope. When September
came he would be going off to secondary school and, for the first
time in his life, he wouldn’t be with Dudley. Dudley had a place at
Uncle Vernon’s old school, Smeltings. Piers Polkiss was going
there, too. Harry, on the other hand, was going to Stonewall High,
the local comprehensive. Dudley thought this was very funny.
‘They stuff people’s heads down the toilet first day at
Stonewall,’ he told Harry. ‘Want to come upstairs and practise?’
‘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 Smeltings 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
The Letters from No One 29
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. Smeltings boys wore maroon
tailcoats, orange knickerbockers and flat straw hats called boaters.
They also carried knobbly sticks, used for hitting each other while
the teachers weren’t looking. This was supposed to be good training
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 trust 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 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 grey water.
‘What’s this?’ he asked Aunt Petunia. Her lips tightened 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 realise it had to be so wet.’
‘Don’t be stupid,’ snapped Aunt Petunia. ‘I’m dyeing some of
Dudley’s old things grey 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 tried 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 Smeltings
stick, which he carried everywhere, on the table.
They heard the click of the letter-box and flop of letters on the
‘Get the post, Dudley,’ said Uncle Vernon from behind his
‘Make Harry get it.’
‘Get the post, Harry.’
‘Make Dudley get it.’
30 Harry Potter
‘Poke him with your Smeltings stick, Dudley.’
Harry dodged the Smeltings stick and went to get the post.
Three things lay on the doormat: a postcard from Uncle Vernon’s
sister Marge, who was holidaying 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 elastic band. No one, ever, in his whole life, had written to
him. Who would? He had no friends, no other relatives – 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
The envelope was thick and heavy, made of yellowish parchment,
and the address was written in emerald-green ink. There was no
Turning the envelope over, his hand trembling, 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
Harry went back to the kitchen, still staring at his letter. 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 letter, 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 writing to you?’ sneered Uncle Vernon, shaking the
letter open with one hand and glancing at it. His face went from
The Letters from No One 31
red to green faster than a set of traffic lights. And it didn’t stop
there. Within seconds it was the greyish white of old porridge.
‘P-P-Petunia!’ he gasped.
Dudley tried to grab the letter 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 forgotten that Harry
and Dudley were still in the room. Dudley wasn’t used to being
ignored. He gave his father a sharp tap on the head with his
‘I want to read that letter,’ 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
promptly had a furious but silent fight over who would listen at
the keyhole; Dudley won, so Harry, his glasses dangling from one
ear, lay flat on his stomach to listen at the crack between door and
‘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
‘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 …’
‘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?’
32 Harry Potter
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 letter?’ 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
‘SILENCE!’ yelled Uncle Vernon, and a couple of spiders fell
from 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 getting 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
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 trip 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 cine-camera was lying on top of a small, working tank Dudley
had once driven over next door’s dog; in the corner was Dudley’s
first-ever television set, which he’d put his foot through when his
favourite programme had been cancelled; there was a large bird-
cage which had once held a parrot that Dudley had swapped at
school for a real air-rifle, 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 stretched 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 letter than up here without it.
Next morning at breakfast, everyone was rather quiet. Dudley was
The Letters from No One 33
in shock. He’d screamed, whacked his father with his Smeltings
stick, been sick on purpose, kicked his mother and thrown his
tortoise through the greenhouse roof and he still didn’t have his
room back. Harry was thinking about this time yesterday and
bitterly wishing he’d opened the letter in the hall. Uncle Vernon
and Aunt Petunia kept looking at each other darkly.
When the post arrived, Uncle Vernon, who seemed to be trying
to be nice to Harry, made Dudley go and get it. They heard him
banging things with his Smeltings stick all the way down the hall.
Then he shouted, ‘There’s another one! Mr H. Potter, The Smallest
Bedroom, 4 Privet Drive –’
With a strangled cry, Uncle Vernon leapt from his seat and ran
down the hall, Harry right behind him. Uncle Vernon had to
wrestle Dudley to the ground to get the letter 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
fighting, in which everyone got hit a lot by the Smeltings stick,
Uncle Vernon straightened 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 letter. Surely that meant they’d try again?
And this time 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 off quickly and dressed silently. He mustn’t wake
the Dursleys. He stole downstairs without turning on any of the
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 towards the front door –
Harry leapt into the air – he’d trodden on something big and
squashy on the doormat – something alive!
Lights clicked on upstairs and to his horror Harry realised 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 exactly what he’d
34 Harry Potter
been trying to do. He shouted at Harry for about half an hour and
then told him to go and make a cup of tea. Harry shuffled miser-
ably off into the kitchen, and by the time he got back, the post
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 letters
into pieces before his eyes.
Uncle Vernon didn’t go to work that day. He stayed at home
and nailed up the letter-box.
‘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 strange ways, Petunia,
they’re not like you and me,’ said Uncle Vernon, trying to knock
in a nail with the piece of fruit cake Aunt Petunia had just
On Friday, no fewer than twelve letters arrived for Harry. As they
couldn’t go through the letter-box they had been pushed under
the door, slotted through the sides and a few even forced through
the small window in the downstairs toilet.
Uncle Vernon stayed at home again. After burning all the letters,
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 jumped at small
On Saturday, things began to get out of hand. Twenty-four letters
to Harry found their way into the house, rolled up and hidden
inside each of the two dozen eggs that their very confused milk-
man had handed Aunt Petunia through the living-room window.
While Uncle Vernon made furious telephone calls to the post
office and the dairy trying to find someone to complain to, Aunt
Petunia shredded the letters in her food mixer.
‘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 tired and rather ill, but happy.
‘No post on Sundays,’ he reminded them happily as he spread
The Letters from No One 35
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 fireplace
like bullets. The Dursleys ducked, but Harry leapt into the air
trying to catch one –
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 letters still streaming into the room,
bouncing off the walls and floor.
‘That does it,’ said Uncle Vernon, trying to speak calmly but
pulling great tufts out of his moustache at the same time. ‘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 moustache 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
towards the motorway. Dudley was sniffling in the back seat;
his father had hit him round the head for holding them up while
he tried to pack his television, video and computer in his sports
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 turning and drive in the opposite direction for a
‘Shake ’em off … shake ’em off,’ he would mutter whenever he
They didn’t stop to eat or drink all day. By nightfall Dudley was
howling. He’d never had such a bad day in his life. He was hungry,
he’d missed five television programmes he’d wanted to see and
he’d never gone so long without blowing up an alien on his
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, musty sheets. Dudley snored but Harry
stayed awake, sitting on the window-sill, staring down at the
lights of passing cars and wondering …
36 Harry Potter
They ate stale cornflakes and cold tinned tomatoes on toast for
breakfast next day. They had just finished when the owner of the
hotel came over to their table.
‘ ’Scuse me, but is one of you Mr H. Potter? 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
Harry made a grab for the letter 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 better just to go home, dear?’ Aunt Petunia sug-
gested timidly, hours later, but Uncle Vernon didn’t seem to hear
her. Exactly 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 ploughed field, halfway
across a suspension bridge and at the top of a multi-storey car
‘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.
‘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 of the
week, because of television – then tomorrow, Tuesday, was Harry’s
eleventh birthday. Of course, his birthdays were never exactly 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 carry-
ing a long, thin package and didn’t answer Aunt Petunia when she
The Letters from No One 37
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 pointing at
what looked like a large rock way out to sea. Perched on top of
the rock was the most miserable little 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
A toothless old man came ambling up to them, pointing, with a
rather wicked grin, at an old rowing boat bobbing in the iron-grey
water below them.
‘I’ve already got us some rations,’ said Uncle Vernon, ‘so all
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 strongly of seaweed, the
wind whistled through the gaps in the wooden walls and the fire-
place was damp and empty. There were only two rooms.
Uncle Vernon’s rations turned out to be a packet of crisps each
and four bananas. He tried to start a fire but the empty crisp packets
just smoked and shrivelled up.
‘Could do with some of those letters now, eh?’ he said cheer-
He was in a very good mood. Obviously he thought nobody
stood a chance of reaching them here in a storm to deliver post.
Harry privately agreed, though the thought didn’t cheer him up at
As night fell, the promised storm blew up around them. Spray
from the high waves splattered the walls of the hut and a fierce
wind rattled the filthy windows. Aunt Petunia found a few
mouldy 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
The storm raged more and more ferociously as the night went
on. Harry couldn’t sleep. He shivered and turned over, trying to
38 Harry Potter
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 tick 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 letters 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, just to annoy him –
three – two – one –
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 skid-
ding into the room. He was holding a rifle 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 –
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, glinting like
black beetles under all the hair.
The giant squeezed his way into the hut, stooping so that his
head just brushed the ceiling. He bent down, picked up the door
and fitted it easily back into its frame. The noise of the storm out-
side dropped a little. He turned to look at them all.
‘Couldn’t make us a cup o’ tea, could yeh? It’s not been an easy
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 fierce, wild, shadowy face and saw
that the beetle eyes were crinkled in a smile.
‘Las’ time I saw you, you was only a baby,’ said the giant. ‘Yeh
look a lot like yer dad, but yeh’ve got yer mum’s eyes.’
40 Harry Potter
Uncle Vernon made a funny rasping noise.
‘I demand that you leave at once, sir!’ he said. ‘You are breaking
‘Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune,’ said the giant. He
reached over the back of the sofa, jerked 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
‘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 slightly
squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was
a large, sticky 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 introduced meself. 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 stronger if yeh’ve got it,
His eyes fell on the empty grate with the shrivelled crisp pack-
ets 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 flickering 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 kettle, a squashy package of sausages, a poker, a
teapot, several chipped mugs and a bottle of some amber liquid
which he took a swig from before starting 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
first six fat, juicy, slightly burnt sausages from the poker, Dudley
The Keeper of the Keys 41
fidgeted a little. Uncle Vernon said sharply, ‘Don’t touch anything
he gives you, Dudley.’
The giant chuckled darkly.
‘Yer great puddin’ of a son don’ need fattenin’ any more,
Dursley, don’ worry.’
He passed the sausages to Harry, who was so hungry he had
never tasted anything so wonderful, but he still couldn’t take his
eyes off the giant. Finally, as nobody seemed about to explain any-
thing, 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’ll know all about Hogwarts,
‘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 gettin’ yer letters but I never thought yeh
wouldn’t even know abou’ Hogwarts, fer cryin’ out loud! Did yeh
never wonder where yer parents learnt 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 maths and
But Hagrid simply waved his hand and said, ‘About our world, I
mean. Your world. My world. Yer parents’ 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 yer mum and dad,’ he said. ‘I mean,
42 Harry Potter
they’re famous. You’re famous.’
‘What? My – my mum and dad weren’t famous, were they?’
‘Yeh don’ know … yeh don’ know …’ Hagrid ran his fingers
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, sir! 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 letter
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 yer heads, both of yeh,’ said Hagrid. ‘Harry – yer a
There was silence inside the hut. Only the sea and the
whistling wind could be heard.
‘I’m 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 trained 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 stretched out his hand at last to take the yellowish
envelope, addressed in emerald green to Mr H. Potter, 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 a place at
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find
The Keeper of the Keys 43
enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later
than 31 July.
Questions exploded inside Harry’s head like fireworks and he
couldn’t decide which to ask first. After a few minutes he stam-
mered, ‘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 scrib-
bled a note which Harry could read upside-down:
Dear Mr Dumbledore,
Given Harry his letter. Taking him to buy his things tomorrow.
Weather’s horrible. Hope you’re well.
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 realised his mouth was open and closed it quickly.
‘Where was I?’ said Hagrid, but at that moment, Uncle Vernon,
still ashen-faced but looking very angry, moved into the firelight.
‘He’s not going,’ he said.
‘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
them. 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!
44 Harry Potter
‘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 dratted sister being what she
was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that
– that school – and came home every holiday 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 ranting on. It
seemed she had been wanting to say all this for years.
‘Then she met that Potter at school and they left and got mar-
ried and had you, and of course I knew you’d be just the same,
just as strange, just 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, jumping up so angrily that the
Dursleys scuttled back to their corner. ‘How could a car crash kill
Lily an’ James Potter? It’s an outrage! A scandal! Harry Potter not
knowin’ his own story when every kid in our world knows his
‘But why? What happened?’ Harry asked urgently.
The anger faded from Hagrid’s face. He looked suddenly
‘I never expected this,’ he said, in a low, worried voice. ‘I had no
idea, when Dumbledore told me there might be trouble gettin’
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’s gotta – 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
‘Well – I don’ like sayin’ the name if I can help it. No one does.’
The Keeper of the Keys 45
‘Gulpin’ gargoyles, Harry, people are still 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 afraid, some just wanted a bit o’ his power, ’cause he
was gettin’ himself power, all right. Dark days, Harry. Didn’t know
who ter trust, didn’t dare get friendly with strange 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 try takin’ the
school, not jus’ 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 tried 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 just
wanted ’em outta the way. All anyone knows is, he turned up in
the village where you was all living, on Hallowe’en 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 tried to kill you, too. Wanted ter make a
clean job of it, I suppose, or maybe he just 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’
46 Harry Potter
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 time 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 jumped, 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 some-
thing strange about you, probably nothing a good beating
wouldn’t have cured – and as for all this about your parents, well,
they were weirdos, no denying it, and the world’s better off with-
out them in my opinion – asked for all they got, getting 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 from the sofa and drew a
battered pink umbrella from inside his coat. Pointing 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 better,’ said Hagrid, breathing heavily and sitting back
down on the sofa, which this time sagged right down to the floor.
Harry, meanwhile, still had questions to ask, hundreds of them.
‘But what happened to Vol– sorry – I mean, You-Know-Who?’
‘Good question, Harry. Disappeared. Vanished. Same night he
tried ter kill you. Makes yeh even more famous. That’s the biggest
myst’ry, see … he was gettin’ more an’ more powerful – why’d he
‘Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had
enough human left in him to die. Some say he’s still out there,
bidin’ his time, 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.
The Keeper of the Keys 47
‘Most of us reckon he’s still 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 time
they’d tried 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 quietly, ‘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 hair-
cut, he’d managed to make it grow back … and the very last time
Dudley had hit him, hadn’t he got his revenge, without even real-
ising he was doing it? Hadn’t he set a boa constrictor on him?
Harry looked back at Hagrid, smiling, and saw that Hagrid was
positively beaming at him.
‘See?’ said Hagrid. ‘Harry Potter, 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 Potter’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
48 Harry Potter
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 flash of violet light, a sound like a
firecracker, a sharp squeal and next second, Dudley was dancing
on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat bottom, howling in
pain. When he turned his back on them, Harry saw a curly pig’s
tail poking through a hole in his trousers.
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 stroked 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 mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts,’
he said. ‘I’m – er – not supposed ter do magic, strictly speakin’. I
was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an’ get yer letters 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 meself but I – er – got expelled,
ter tell yeh the truth. 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 gettin’ late and we’ve got lots ter do tomorrow,’ said Hagrid
loudly. ‘Gotta 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 —
Harry woke early the next morning. Although he could tell it was
daylight, he kept his eyes shut tight.
‘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 straight to the window
and jerked it open. The owl swooped in and dropped the news-
paper on top of Hagrid, who didn’t wake up. The owl then
fluttered on to the floor and began to attack Hagrid’s coat.
‘Don’t do that.’
Harry tried 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.
‘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 string, mint humbugs, tea-
bags … finally, Harry pulled out a handful of strange-looking coins.
50 Harry Potter
‘Give him five Knuts,’ said Hagrid sleepily.
‘The little bronze ones.’
Harry counted out five little bronze coins and the owl held out
its leg so he could put the money into a small leather pouch tied
to it. Then it flew off through the open window.
Hagrid yawned loudly, sat up and stretched.
‘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 just thought of something which 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 scratch-
ing 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.
‘Yeah – so yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it, I’ll tell yeh that. Never
mess with goblins, Harry. Gringotts is the safest place in the world
fer anything yeh want ter keep safe – ’cept maybe Hogwarts. As a
matter o’ fact, I gotta visit Gringotts 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 on to the rock. The sky was quite
clear now and the sea gleamed in the sunlight. The boat Uncle
Vernon had hired was still there, with a lot of water in the bottom
after the storm.
‘How did you get here?’ Harry asked, looking around for
Diagon Alley 51
‘Flew,’ said Hagrid.
‘Yeah – but we’ll go back in this. Not s’pposed ter use magic
now I’ve got yeh.’
They settled down in the boat, Harry still staring at Hagrid,
trying to imagine him flying.
‘Seems a shame ter row, though,’ said Hagrid, giving Harry
another of his 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 off towards 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 high-security
vaults. And then yeh gotta find yer way – Gringotts is hundreds of
miles under London, see. Deep under the Underground. Yeh’d die
of hunger tryin’ ter get out, even if yeh did manage ter get yer
hands on summat.’
Harry sat and thought about this while Hagrid read his news-
paper, the Daily Prophet. Harry had learnt from 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.
‘Ministry o’ Magic messin’ things up as usual,’ Hagrid muttered,
turning the page.
‘There’s a Ministry of Magic?’ Harry asked, before he could stop
‘ ’Course,’ said Hagrid. ‘They wanted Dumbledore fer Minister,
o’ course, but he’d never leave Hogwarts, so old Cornelius Fudge
got the job. 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? Blimey, Harry, everyone’d be wantin’ magic solutions to
their problems. Nah, we’re best left alone.’
At this moment the boat bumped gently into the harbour wall.
Hagrid folded up his newspaper and they clambered up the stone
steps on to the street.
52 Harry Potter
Passers-by stared a lot at Hagrid as they walked through the
little town to the station. Harry couldn’t blame them. Not only
was Hagrid twice as tall as anyone else, he kept pointing at per-
fectly ordinary things like parking meters and saying loudly, ‘See
that, Harry? Things these Muggles dream up, eh?’
‘Hagrid,’ said Harry, panting 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 station. There was a train to London in
five minutes’ time. Hagrid, who didn’t understand ‘Muggle
money’, as he called it, gave the notes to Harry so he could buy
People stared more than ever on the train. Hagrid took up two
seats and sat knitting what looked like a canary-yellow circus tent.
‘Still got yer letter, Harry?’ he asked as he counted stitches.
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 noticed the
night before and read:
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
First-year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear
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 name tags
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 Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
Diagon Alley 53
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 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 getting
there in an ordinary way. He got stuck in the ticket barrier on the
Underground and complained loudly that the seats were too small
and the trains too slow.
‘I don’t know how the Muggles manage without magic,’ he said,
as they climbed a broken-down escalator which 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 bars and cinemas, but nowhere that
looked as if it could sell you a magic wand. This was just an ordi-
nary street 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 broomsticks? Might this not all be some
huge joke that the Dursleys had cooked up? If Harry hadn’t
known that the Dursleys had no sense of humour, 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 tiny, grubby-looking pub. If Hagrid hadn’t pointed it
54 Harry Potter
out, Harry wouldn’t have noticed it was there. The people hurry-
ing 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
mention this, Hagrid had steered him inside.
For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby. A few old
women were sitting in a corner, drinking tiny glasses of sherry.
One of them was smoking a long pipe. A little man in a top hat
was talking to the old barman, who was quite bald and looked
like a gummy walnut. The low buzz of chatter stopped when they
walked in. Everyone seemed to know Hagrid; they waved and
smiled at him, and the barman reached for a glass, saying, ‘The
‘Can’t, Tom, I’m on Hogwarts business,’ said Hagrid, clapping
his great hand on Harry’s shoulder and making Harry’s knees
‘Good Lord,’ said the barman, peering at Harry, ‘is this – can
this be –?’
The Leaky Cauldron had suddenly gone completely still and
‘Bless my soul,’ whispered the old barman. ‘Harry Potter …
what an honour.’
He hurried out from behind the bar, rushed towards 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 puffing on it without realising
it had gone out. Hagrid was beaming.
Then there was a great scraping of chairs and, next moment,
Harry found himself shaking hands with everyone in the Leaky
‘Doris Crockford, Mr Potter, can’t believe I’m meeting you at
‘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,
‘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.’
Diagon Alley 55
‘He remembers!’ cried Dedalus Diggle, looking around at every-
one. ‘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-Defence Against the D-D-Dark Arts,’ muttered Professor
Quirrell, as though he’d rather not think about it. ‘N-not that you
n-need it, eh, P-P-Potter?’ He laughed nervously. ‘You’ll be
g-getting 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 time and Hagrid
led them through the bar and out into a small, walled courtyard,
where there was nothing but a dustbin 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 trem-
‘Is he always that nervous?’
‘Oh, yeah. Poor bloke. Brilliant mind. He was fine while he was
studyin’ outta books but then he took a year off ter get some first-
hand experience … They say he met vampires in the Black Forest
and there was a nasty bit o’ trouble with a hag – never been the
same since. Scared of the students, scared of his own subject –
now, where’s me umbrella?’
Vampires? Hags? Harry’s head was swimming. Hagrid, mean-
while, was counting bricks in the wall above the dustbin.
‘Three up … two across …’ he muttered. ‘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,
56 Harry Potter
a small hole appeared – it grew wider and wider – a second later
they were facing an archway large enough even for Hagrid, an arch-
way on to a cobbled street which 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 instantly back into solid wall.
The sun shone brightly 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
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’s
was shaking her head as they passed, saying, ‘Dragon liver, sixteen
Sickles an ounce, they’re mad …’
A low, soft hooting 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 broomsticks 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 strange silver
instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with
barrels of bat spleens and eels’ eyes, tottering piles of spell books,
quills and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon …
‘Gringotts,’ said Hagrid.
They had reached a snowy-white building which towered over
the other little shops. Standing beside its burnished bronze doors,
wearing a uniform of scarlet and gold, was –
‘Yeah, that’s a goblin,’ said Hagrid quietly as they walked up the
white stone steps towards him. The goblin was about a head
shorter than Harry. He had a swarthy, clever face, a pointed beard
and, Harry noticed, very long fingers and feet. He bowed as they
walked inside. Now they were facing a second pair of doors, silver
this time, with words engraved upon them:
Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
Diagon Alley 57
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
sitting on high stools behind a long counter, scribbling in large
ledgers, weighing coins on 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 outta Mr Harry Potter’s safe.’
‘You have his key, sir?’
‘Got it here somewhere,’ said Hagrid and he started emptying
his pockets on to the counter, scattering a handful of mouldy 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 letter here from Professor Dumbledore,’ said
Hagrid importantly, throwing out his chest. ‘It’s about the You-
Know-What in vault seven hundred and thirteen.’
The goblin read the letter 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 fol-
lowed Griphook towards one of the doors leading off the hall.
‘What’s the You-Know-What in vault seven hundred and thir-
teen?’ 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.’
58 Harry Potter
Griphook held the door open for them. Harry, who had expected
more marble, was surprised. They were in a narrow stone passage-
way lit with flaming torches. It sloped steeply downwards and
there were little railway tracks on the floor. Griphook whistled
and a small cart came hurtling up the tracks towards them. They
climbed in – Hagrid with some difficulty – and were off.
At first they just hurtled through a maze of twisting passages.
Harry tried to remember, left, right, right, left, middle fork, right,
left, but it was impossible. The rattling 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 stalactites and stalagmites grew from 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 trembling.
Griphook unlocked the door. A lot of green smoke came bil-
lowing 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 time 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 hurtled round tight corners.
Diagon Alley 59
They went rattling over an underground ravine and Harry leant
over the side to try and see what was down at the dark bottom 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
Something really extraordinary had to be inside this top-
security vault, Harry was sure, and he leant forward eagerly,
expecting to see fabulous jewels at the very least – but at first he
thought it was empty. Then he noticed a grubby little 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 out-
side Gringotts. 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 towards
Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. ‘Listen, Harry, would yeh
mind if I slipped off fer a pick-me-up in the Leaky Cauldron? I
hate them Gringotts carts.’ He did still 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, dear?’ 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 witch 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
60 Harry Potter
‘Hullo,’ said the boy, ‘Hogwarts too?’
‘Yes,’ said Harry.
‘My father’s next door buying my books and mother’s up the
street looking at wands,’ said the boy. He had a bored, drawling
voice. ‘Then I’m going to drag them off to look 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
‘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 until they get there, do they, but I
know I’ll be in Slytherin, all our family have been – imagine being
in Hufflepuff, I think I’d leave, wouldn’t you?’
‘Mmm,’ said Harry, wishing he could say something a bit more
‘I say, look at that man!’ said the boy suddenly, nodding
towards the front window. Hagrid was standing there, grinning at
Harry and pointing at two large ice-creams to show he couldn’t
‘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’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 in the
school grounds and every now and then he gets drunk, tries to do
magic and ends up setting 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 shortly. 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
Diagon Alley 61
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 just not the same, they’ve never been brought up to know
our ways. Some of them have never even heard of Hogwarts until
they get the letter, 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 from 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 colour as you wrote. When they had left the shop, he
said, ‘Hagrid, what’s Quidditch?’
‘Blimey, Harry, I keep forgettin’ how little yeh know – not
knowin’ about Quidditch!’
‘Don’t make me feel worse,’ said Harry. He told Hagrid about
the pale 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 ’em in the Leaky Cauldron. 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 o’ 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 football in the
Muggle world – everyone follows Quidditch – played up in the air
on broomsticks and there’s four balls – sorta hard ter explain the
‘And what are Slytherin and Hufflepuff?’
‘School houses. There’s four. Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot
o’ duffers, but –’
‘I bet I’m in Hufflepuff,’ said Harry gloomily.
‘Better Hufflepuff than Slytherin,’ said Hagrid darkly. ‘There’s
62 Harry Potter
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
Blotts 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
Counter-Curses (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 potion ingredients and a collapsible brass telescope.
Then they visited the apothecary’s, which was fascinating enough
to make up for its horrible smell, a mixture of bad eggs and rotted
cabbages. Barrels of slimy stuff stood on the floor, jars of herbs,
dried roots and bright powders lined the walls, bundles of feath-
ers, strings of fangs and snarled claws hung from the ceiling.
While Hagrid asked the man behind the counter for a supply of
some basic potion ingredients for Harry, Harry himself examined
silver unicorn horns at twenty-one Galleons each and minuscule,
glittery black beetle eyes (five Knuts a scoop).
Outside the apothecary’s, Hagrid checked Harry’s list again.
‘Just yer wand left – oh yeah, an’ I still haven’t got yeh a birth-
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 outta 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 post an’ everythin’.’
Diagon Alley 63
Twenty minutes later, they left Eeylops Owl Emporium, which
had been dark and full of rustling and flickering, jewel-bright
eyes. Harry now carried a large cage which held a beautiful snowy
owl, fast asleep with her head under her wing. He couldn’t stop
stammering his thanks, sounding just like Professor Quirrell.
‘Don’ mention it,’ said Hagrid gruffly. ‘Don’ expect you’ve had a
lotta presents from them Dursleys. Just Ollivanders left now –
only place fer wands, Ollivanders, and yeh gotta have the best
A magic wand … this was what Harry had been really looking
The last shop was narrow and shabby. Peeling gold letters over
the door read Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382
BC . A
single wand lay on a faded purple cushion in the dusty window.
A tinkling 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 which Hagrid sat on to wait. Harry felt strangely as
though he had entered a very strict library; he swallowed a lot of
new questions which had just occurred to him and looked instead
at the thousands of narrow boxes piled neatly right up to the
ceiling. For some reason, the back of his neck prickled. The very
dust and silence in here seemed to tingle with some secret magic.
‘Good afternoon,’ said a soft voice. Harry jumped. Hagrid must
have jumped, 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, favoured a mahogany wand.
Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power and excellent for trans-
figuration. Well, I say your father favoured it – it’s really the wand
that chooses the wizard, of course.’
Mr Ollivander had come so close that he and Harry were
64 Harry Potter
almost nose to nose. Harry could see himself reflected in those
‘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 noticed he gripped his
pink umbrella very tightly as he spoke.
‘Hmmm,’ said Mr Ollivander, giving Hagrid a piercing look.
‘Well, now – Mr Potter. 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 shoul-
der 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 Potter. We
use unicorn hairs, phoenix tail feathers and the heartstrings of
dragons. No two Ollivander wands are the same, just 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 realised that the tape measure, which was meas-
uring between his nostrils, was doing this on its own. Mr
Ollivander was flitting 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 Potter. Try this one. Beechwood
and dragon heartstring. Nine inches. Nice and flexible. Just take it
and give it a wave.’
Harry took the wand and (feeling foolish) waved it around a
Diagon Alley 65
bit, but Mr Ollivander snatched it out of his hand almost at once.
‘Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try –’
Harry tried – 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 tried wands was mounting 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 find the perfect match
here somewhere – I wonder, now – yes, why not – unusual combi-
nation – holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple.’
Harry took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers.
He raised the wand above his head, brought it swishing down
through the dusty air and a stream 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, still 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 Potter. Every single
wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your
wand, gave another feather – just one other. It is very curious
indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother
– why, its brother gave you that scar.’
‘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 Potter … 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-afternoon sun hung low in the sky as Harry and Hagrid
made their way back down Diagon Alley, back through the wall,
66 Harry Potter
back through the Leaky Cauldron, now empty. Harry didn’t speak
at all as they walked down the road; he didn’t even notice how
much people were gawping at them on the Underground, laden as
they were with all their funny-shaped packages, with the sleeping
snowy owl on Harry’s lap. Up another escalator, out into
Paddington station; Harry only realised 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 plastic
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 just 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 leant across the table. Behind the wild beard and eye-
brows 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 just fine. Just be yerself. I
know it’s hard. Yeh’ve been singled out, an’ that’s always hard. But
yeh’ll have a great time at Hogwarts – I did – still do, ’smatter of
Hagrid helped Harry on to the train 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 ticket. Any problems with the Dursleys, send
me a letter with yer owl, she’ll know where to find me … See yeh
The train pulled out of the station. Harry wanted to watch
Hagrid until 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 was 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 interesting. 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 hoover any more, because Hedwig kept bringing back
dead mice. Every night before he went to sleep, Harry ticked 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 better speak to his
aunt and uncle about getting to King’s Cross station 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
Uncle Vernon grunted again.
‘Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?’
68 Harry Potter
Grunt. Harry supposed that meant yes.
He was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actually
‘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, realising this for the first time. He
pulled the ticket Hagrid had given him out of his pocket.
‘I just take the train from platform nine and three-quarters at
eleven o’clock,’ he read.
His aunt and uncle stared.
‘Nine and three-quarters.’
‘Don’t talk rubbish,’ said Uncle Vernon, ‘there is no platform
nine and three-quarters.’
‘It’s on my ticket.’
‘Barking,’ said Uncle Vernon, ‘howling mad, the lot of them.
You’ll see. You just 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
‘Taking Dudley to 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 station in his wiz-
ard’s robes – he’d change on the train. 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,
waiting for the Dursleys to get up. Two hours later, Harry’s huge,
heavy trunk had been loaded into the Dursleys’ car, Aunt Petunia
had talked Dudley into sitting next to Harry and they had set off.
They reached King’s Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernon
dumped Harry’s trunk on to a trolley and wheeled it into the sta-
tion for him. Harry thought this was strangely kind until Uncle
Vernon stopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on
The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters 69
‘Well, there you are, boy. Platform nine – platform ten. Your
platform 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 plastic number
nine over one platform and a big plastic 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 nastier
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 starting to attract a lot of funny looks, because of Hedwig.
He’d have to ask someone.
He stopped a passing guard, but didn’t dare mention platform
nine and three-quarters. 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 stu-
pid on purpose. Getting desperate, Harry asked for the train that
left at eleven o’clock, but the guard said there wasn’t one. In the
end the guard strode away, muttering about time-wasters. Harry
was now trying hard not to panic. According to the large clock
over the arrivals board, he had ten minutes left to get on the train
to Hogwarts and he had no idea how to do it; he was stranded in
the middle of a station with a trunk he could hardly lift, a pocket
full of wizard money and a large owl.
Hagrid must have forgotten 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 box between platforms nine and ten.
At that moment a group of people passed just 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 trunk like Harry’s in front of him – and they had an
Heart hammering, Harry pushed his trolley after them. They
stopped and so did he, just near enough to hear what they were
‘Now, what’s the platform number?’ said the boys’ mother.
‘Nine and three-quarters!’ piped a small girl, also red-headed,
70 Harry Potter
who was holding her hand. ‘Mum, 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 towards platforms
nine and ten. Harry watched, careful not to blink in case he
missed it – but just as the boy reached the divide between the two
platforms, a large crowd of tourists came swarming in front of
him, and by the time the last rucksack had cleared away, the boy
‘Fred, you next,’ the plump woman said.
‘I’m not Fred, I’m George,’ said the boy. ‘Honestly, woman, call
yourself our mother? Can’t you tell I’m George?’
‘Sorry, George, dear.’
‘Only joking, I am Fred,’ said the boy, and off he went. His twin
called after him to hurry up, and he must have done, because a
second later, he had gone – but how had he done it?
Now the third brother was walking briskly towards the ticket
barrier – he was almost there – and then, quite suddenly, he wasn’t
There was nothing else for it.
‘Excuse me,’ Harry said to the plump woman.
‘Hullo, dear,’ she said. ‘First time 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
‘Yes,’ said Harry. ‘The thing is – the thing is, I don’t know how
‘How to get on to the platform?’ she said kindly, and Harry
‘Not to worry,’ she said. ‘All you have to do is walk straight at
the barrier between platforms 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 – OK,’ said Harry.
He pushed his trolley round and stared at the barrier. It looked
He started to walk towards it. People jostled him on their way
to platforms nine and ten. Harry walked more quickly. He was
going to smash right into that ticket box and then he’d be in
trouble – leaning forward on his trolley he broke into a heavy
The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters 71
run – the barrier was coming nearer and nearer – he wouldn’t be
able to stop – the trolley was out of control – 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 waiting next to a platform packed
with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, 11 o’clock.
Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway where
the ticket box had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-
Quarters on it. He had done it.
Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering
crowd, while cats of every colour wound here and there between
their legs. Owls hooted to each other in a disgruntled sort of way
over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks.
The first few carriages were already packed with students, some
hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting
over seats. Harry pushed his trolley 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 until he found an empty
compartment near the end of the train. He put Hedwig inside first
and then started to shove and heave his trunk towards the train
door. He tried 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 ticket box.
‘Yes, please,’ Harry panted.
‘Oy, Fred! C’mere and help!’
With the twins’ help, Harry’s trunk 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
‘Blimey,’ said the other twin. ‘Are you –?’
‘He is,’ said the first twin. ‘Aren’t you?’ he added to Harry.
72 Harry Potter
‘What?’ said Harry.
‘Harry Potter,’ chorused the twins.
‘Oh, him,’ said Harry. ‘I mean, yes, I am.’
The two boys gawped at him and Harry felt himself going red.
Then, to his relief, a voice came floating in through the train’s
‘Fred? George? Are you there?’
With a last look at Harry, the twins hopped off the train.
Harry sat down next to the window where, half-hidden, he
could watch the red-haired family on the platform and hear what
they were saying. Their mother had just taken out her handker-
‘Ron, you’ve got something on your nose.’
The youngest boy tried to jerk out of the way, but she grabbed
him and began rubbing the end of his nose.
‘Mum – geroff.’ He wriggled free.
‘Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie?’ said one of
‘Shut up,’ said Ron.
‘Where’s Percy?’ said their mother.
‘He’s coming now.’
The oldest boy came striding into sight. He had already changed
into his billowing black Hogwarts robes and Harry noticed a shiny
red and gold 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
‘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
‘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.’
The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters 73
She kissed Percy on the cheek and he left. Then she turned to
‘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, Mum.’
‘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
‘Hey, Mum, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?’
Harry leant 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?’
Harry heard the little girl’s voice.
‘Oh, Mum, can I go on the train and see him, Mum, oh please …’
‘You’ve already seen him, Ginny, and the poor boy isn’t some-
thing you goggle at in a zoo. Is he really, Fred? How do you
‘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 on to 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 on
to the train. They leant out of the window for her to kiss them
goodbye 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.’
‘Only joking, Mum.’
The train began to move. Harry saw the boys’ mother waving
74 Harry Potter
and their sister, half laughing, half crying, running to keep up
with the train until it gathered too much speed; then she fell back
Harry watched the girl and her mother disappear as the train
rounded the corner. Houses flashed past the window. Harry felt a
great leap of excitement. He didn’t know what he was going to –
but it had to be better than what he was leaving behind.
The door of the compartment slid open and the youngest red-
headed 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 still had a black mark on his nose.
The twins were back.
‘Listen, we’re going down the middle of the train – Lee Jordan’s
got a giant tarantula down there.’
‘Right,’ mumbled Ron.
‘Harry,’ said the other twin, ‘did we introduce ourselves? Fred
and George Weasley. And this is Ron, our brother. See you later,
‘Bye,’ said Harry and Ron. The twins slid the compartment door
shut behind them.
‘Are you really Harry Potter?’ Ron blurted out.
‘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 fringe to show the lightning scar. Ron
‘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 realised what he was doing, he
looked quickly out of the window again.
‘Are all your family wizards?’ asked Harry, who found Ron just
as interesting as Ron found him.
The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters 75
‘Er – yes, I think so,’ said Ron. ‘I think Mum’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
‘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 still 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
Ron reached inside his jacket and pulled out a fat grey rat,
which was asleep.
‘His name’s Scabbers and he’s useless, he hardly ever wakes up.
Percy got an owl from 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 until 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 until Hagrid told me, I didn’t know anything about
being a wizard or about my parents or Voldemort –’
‘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 trying to be brave or anything, saying the name,’ said
Harry. ‘I just never knew you shouldn’t. See what I mean? I’ve
got loads to learn … I bet,’ he added, voicing for the first time
76 Harry Potter
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 train had carried them out of
London. Now they were speeding past fields full of cows and
sheep. They were quiet for a time, watching the fields and lanes
Around half past twelve there was a great clattering outside in
the corridor and a smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door
and said, ‘Anything off the trolley, 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 sand-
wiches. Harry went out into the corridor.
He had never had any money for sweets with the Dursleys and
now that he had pockets rattling 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 Bertie
Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum,
Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Liquorice
Wands and a number of other strange things Harry had never
seen in his life. Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of
everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven
Ron stared as Harry brought it all back into the compartment
and tipped it on to 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 in there. 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
‘You don’t want this, it’s all dry,’ said Ron. ‘She hasn’t got much
time,’ 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, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s
pasties and cakes (the sandwiches lay forgotten).
‘What are these?’ Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of
The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters 77
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.’
‘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
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 moustache.
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
times, Professor Dumbledore is particularly 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.
‘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
‘Help yourself,’ said Harry. ‘But in, you know, the Muggle
world, people just stay put in photos.’
‘Do they? What, they don’t move at all?’ Ron sounded amazed.
Harry stared as Dumbledore sidled back into the picture on his
card and gave him a small smile. Ron was more interested in
78 Harry Potter
eating the frogs than looking at the Famous Witches and Wizards
cards, but Harry couldn’t keep his eyes off 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-Flavour Beans.
‘You want to be careful with those,’ Ron warned Harry. ‘When
they say every flavour, they mean every flavour – you know, you
get all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and mar-
malade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. George
reckons he had a bogey-flavoured one once.’
Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully and bit into a
‘Bleaaargh – see? Sprouts.’
They had a good time eating the Every-Flavour Beans. Harry
got toast, coconut, baked bean, strawberry, curry, grass, coffee,
sardine and was even brave enough to nibble the end off a funny
grey one Ron wouldn’t touch, which turned out to be pepper.
The countryside now flying past the window was becoming
wilder. The neat fields had gone. Now there were woods, twisting
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 getting away from me!’
‘He’ll turn up,’ said Harry.
‘Yes,’ said the boy miserably. ‘Well, if you see him …’
‘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 still 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 interesting, but the spell didn’t work. I’ll show you,
He rummaged around in his trunk and pulled out a very
battered-looking wand. It was chipped in places and something
The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters 79
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 time 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
‘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, butter mellow,
Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.’
He waved his wand, but nothing happened. Scabbers stayed
grey and fast asleep.
‘Are you sure that’s a real spell?’ said the girl. ‘Well, it’s not very
good, is it? I’ve tried a few simple spells just for practice 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 learnt all our set books off by heart, of course, I just
hope it will be enough – I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who
She said all this very fast.
Harry looked at Ron and was relieved to see by his stunned face
that he hadn’t learnt all the set books off 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 extra 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
Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best, I hear Dumbledore himself
80 Harry Potter
was one, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad … Anyway,
we’d better go and look for Neville’s toad. You two had better
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 trunk. ‘Stupid spell – George gave it
to me, bet he knew it was a dud.’
‘What house are your brothers in?’ asked Harry.
‘Gryffindor,’ said Ron. Gloom seemed to be settling on him
again. ‘Mum 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
‘You know, I think the ends of Scabbers’s whiskers are a bit
lighter,’ said Harry, trying to take Ron’s mind off houses. ‘So what
do your oldest brothers do now they’ve left, anyway?’
Harry was wondering what a wizard did once he’d finished
‘Charlie’s in Romania studying dragons and Bill’s in Africa
doing something for Gringotts,’ said Ron. ‘Did you hear about
Gringotts? It’s been all over the Daily Prophet, but I don’t suppose
you get that with the Muggles – someone tried to rob a high-
‘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 Gringotts, 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 starting to get
a prickle of fear every time You-Know-Who was mentioned. He
supposed this was all part of entering the magical world, but
it had been a lot more comfortable saying ‘Voldemort’ without
‘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
The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters 81
game in the world –’ And he was off, explaining all about the four
balls and the positions of the seven players, describing famous
games he’d been to with his brothers and the broomstick he’d like
to get if he had the money. He was just 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 recognised 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
‘Is it true?’ he said. ‘They’re saying all down the train that Harry
Potter’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 extremely mean. Standing either side of
the pale boy they looked like bodyguards.
‘Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle,’ said the pale boy carelessly,
noticing where Harry was looking. ‘And my name’s Malfoy, Draco
Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a
snigger. 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 better
than others, Potter. 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
Draco Malfoy didn’t go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his
‘I’d be careful if I were you, Potter,’ 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
Both Harry and Ron stood up. Ron’s face was as red as his hair.
‘Say that again,’ he said.
82 Harry Potter
‘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 towards 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 little teeth
sunk deep into Goyle’s knuckle – Crabbe and Malfoy backed away
as Goyle swung Scabbers round and round, howling, and when
Scabbers finally flew 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 floor 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
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 disap-
peared. Said they’d been bewitched. 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 better hurry up and put your robes on, I’ve just been up
the front to ask the driver and he says we’re nearly there. You
haven’t been fighting, have you? You’ll be in trouble before we
even get there!’
‘Scabbers has been fighting, 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 getting dark. He could see mountains and forests under a
The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters 83
deep-purple sky. The train did seem to be slowing down.
He and Ron took off their jackets and pulled on their long
black robes. Ron’s were a bit short for him, you could see his
trainers underneath them.
A voice echoed through the train: ‘We will be reaching
Hogwarts in five minutes’ time. Please leave your luggage on the
train, 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 towards the door and out on to a tiny, dark
platform. 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 either side of
them that Harry thought there must be thick trees there. Nobody
spoke much. Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad, sniffed
once or twice.
‘Yeh’ll get yer firs’ 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 on to the edge of a great
black lake. 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, pointing to a fleet of
little boats sitting 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 fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across
the lake, which was as smooth as glass. Everyone was silent,
staring up at the great castle overhead. It towered over them as
they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which it stood.
‘Heads down!’ yelled Hagrid as the first boats reached the cliff;
84 Harry Potter
they all bent their heads and the little boats carried them through
a curtain of ivy which hid a wide opening in the cliff face. They
were carried along a dark tunnel, which seemed to be taking them
right underneath the castle, until they reached a kind of under-
ground harbour, where they clambered out on to rocks and
‘Oy, you there! Is this your toad?’ said Hagrid, who was check-
ing 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 on to smooth, damp grass right in the shadow
of the castle.
They walked up a flight of stone steps and crowded around the
huge, oak front door.
‘Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?’
Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the
— 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 Entrance Hall was so big you
could have fitted 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 stair-
case 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
‘Welcome to Hogwarts,’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘The start-
of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats
in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting
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 Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw
and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has
produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at
Hogwarts, your triumphs 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
86 Harry Potter
honour. I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house
‘The Sorting 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 waiting.’
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
Harry’s heart gave a horrible jolt. 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 learnt 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
Then something happened which made him jump 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 just streamed through the back wall. Pearly-white and slightly
transparent, they glided across the room talking to each other and
hardly glancing at the first-years. They seemed to be arguing.
What looked like a fat little 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 tights had suddenly noticed the
The Sorting Hat 87
‘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,
‘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 strange and splendid
place. It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles which were
floating in mid-air over four long tables, where the rest of
the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering
golden plates and goblets. At the top of the Hall was another long
table where the teachers were sitting. 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 flickering
candlelight. Dotted here and there among the students, the ghosts
shone misty silver. Mainly to avoid all the staring eyes, Harry
looked upwards and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars.
He heard Hermione whisper, ‘It’s 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
silently 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 extremely dirty. Aunt Petunia wouldn’t
have let it in the house.
Maybe they had to try and get a rabbit out of it, Harry thought
wildly, that seemed the sort of thing – noticing that everyone in
88 Harry Potter
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
‘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 its song. It
bowed to each of the four tables and then became quite still again.
The Sorting Hat 89
‘So we’ve just got to try 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 tried 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 mentioned 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
‘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’s 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.
‘HUFFLEPUFF!’ shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off
to sit next to Hannah.
The table second from the left clapped this time; several
Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined
‘Brocklehurst, Mandy’ went to Ravenclaw too, but ‘Brown,
Lavender’ became the first new Gryffindor and the table on the far
left exploded with cheers; Harry could see Ron’s twin brothers
‘Bulstrode, Millicent’ then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was
Harry’s imagination, after all he’d heard about Slytherin, but he
thought they looked an unpleasant lot.
He was starting to feel definitely sick now. He remembered
being picked for teams during sports lessons 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.
90 Harry Potter
Sometimes, Harry noticed, the hat shouted out the house at
once, but at others it took a little 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
Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly
on her head.
‘GRYFFINDOR!’ shouted the hat. Ron groaned.
A horrible thought struck Harry, as horrible thoughts always do
when you’re very nervous. What if he wasn’t chosen at all? What
if he just sat there with the hat over his eyes for ages, until
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 Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad,
was called, he fell over on his way to the stool. The hat took a
long time to decide with Neville. When it finally shouted
‘GRYFFINDOR’, Neville ran off still wearing it, and had to jog
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
Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking
pleased with himself.
There weren’t many people left now.
‘Moon’ … ‘Nott’ … ‘Parkinson’ … then a pair of twin girls, ‘Patil’
and ‘Patil’ … then ‘Perks, Sally-Anne’ … and then, at last –
As Harry stepped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like
little 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, oh
my goodness, yes – and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s
interesting … So where shall I put you?’
Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, ‘Not
The Sorting Hat 91
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 off the hat and walked shakily towards the Gryffindor table.
He was so relieved to have been chosen and not put in Slytherin,
he hardly noticed that he was getting the loudest cheer yet. Percy
the Prefect got up and shook his hand vigorously, while the
Weasley twins yelled, ‘We got Potter! We got Potter!’ Harry sat
down opposite the ghost in the ruff he’d seen earlier. The ghost
patted 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 centre of the High Table, in
a large gold chair, sat Albus Dumbledore. Harry recognised him at
once from the card he’d got out of the Chocolate Frog on the
train. Dumbledore’s silver hair was the only thing in the whole
Hall that shone as brightly as the ghosts. Harry spotted Professor
Quirrell, 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. ‘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 up her scroll and took the Sorting Hat away.
Harry looked down at his empty gold plate. He had only just
realised how hungry he was. The pumpkin pasties seemed ages
Albus Dumbledore had got 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
92 Harry Potter
here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
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,
chips, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup and, for
some strange reason, mint humbugs.
The Dursleys had never exactly 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 humbugs 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 five hundred years,’ said the ghost. ‘I
don’t need to, of course, but one does miss it. I don’t think I’ve
introduced 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 stiffly, but sandy-haired Seamus Finnigan interrupted.
‘Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?’
Sir Nicholas looked extremely miffed, as if their little 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 on to his shoulder as if it
was on a hinge. Someone had obviously tried to behead him, but
not done it properly. Looking pleased at the stunned looks on
their faces, Nearly Headless Nick flipped his head back on to his
neck, coughed and said, ‘So – new Gryffindors! I hope you’re
going to help us win the House Championship this year?
Gryffindor have never gone so long without winning. Slytherin
The Sorting Hat 93
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 sitting 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 seating
‘How did he get covered in blood?’ asked Seamus with great
‘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 puddings appeared. Blocks of ice-
cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts,
chocolate éclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice
As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to
‘I’m half and half,’ said Seamus. ‘Me dad’s a Muggle. Mam 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 trying 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 until I was eight. Great-
uncle Algie came round for tea and he was hanging me out of an
upstairs window by the ankles when my great-auntie 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 straight away, there’s so
much to learn, I’m particularly interested in Transfiguration, you
know, turning something into something else, of course, it’s
94 Harry Potter
supposed to be very difficult –’; ‘You’ll be starting small, just
matches into needles and that sort of thing –’).
Harry, who was starting 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 straight 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.
The pain had gone as quickly as it had come. Harder to shake
off was the feeling Harry had got from the teacher’s look – a feel-
ing that he didn’t like Harry at all.
‘Who’s that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?’ he asked
‘Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you? No wonder he’s look-
ing so nervous, that’s Professor Snape. He teaches Potions, 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
At last, the puddings too disappeared and Professor
Dumbledore got to his feet again. The Hall fell silent.
‘Ahem – just a few more words now we are all fed and watered.
I have a few start-of-term notices to give you.
‘First-years should note that the forest in the grounds is forbid-
den 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 direction of the
‘I have also been asked by Mr Filch, the caretaker, to remind
you all that no magic should be used between classes in the corri-
‘Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of term.
Anyone interested in playing for their house teams should contact
‘And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor
The Sorting Hat 95
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, frowning at Dumbledore. ‘It’s odd, because
he usually gives us a reason why we’re not allowed to go some-
where – 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 noticed that the other teachers’ smiles
had become rather fixed.
Dumbledore gave his wand a little flick as if he was trying 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 snake-like into words.
‘Everyone pick their favourite tune,’ said Dumbledore, ‘and off
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 finished the song at different times. 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
‘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 chatter-
ing crowds, out of the Great Hall and up the marble staircase.
96 Harry Potter
Harry’s legs were like lead again, but only because he was so tired
and full of food. He was too sleepy even to be surprised that the
people in the portraits along the corridors whispered and pointed
as they passed, or that twice Percy led them through doorways
hidden behind sliding panels and hanging tapestries. They
climbed more staircases, yawning and dragging their feet, and
Harry was just wondering how much further they had to go when
they came to a sudden halt.
A bundle of walking sticks was floating in mid-air ahead of
them and as Percy took a step towards 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,
‘Do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?’
There was a pop and a little 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
He swooped suddenly at them. They all ducked.
‘Go away, Peeves, or the Baron’ll hear about this, I mean it!’
Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished, dropping the walk-
ing sticks on Neville’s head. They heard him zooming away,
rattling coats of armour 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 control him, he
won’t even listen to us Prefects. Here we are.’
At the very end of the corridor hung a portrait of a very fat
woman in a pink silk dress.
‘Password?’ she said.
‘Caput Draconis,’ said Percy, and the portrait 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 cosy, 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
The Sorting Hat 97
at last: five four-posters hung with deep-red velvet curtains. Their
trunks had already been brought up. Too tired to talk much, they
pulled on their pyjamas and fell into bed.
‘Great food, isn’t it?’ Ron muttered to Harry through the hang-
ings. ‘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
strange 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
‘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 dormi-
tory next day. People queuing outside classrooms stood on tiptoe
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 some-
where 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 tickled them in exactly
the right place, and doors that weren’t really doors at all, but solid
walls just pretending. It was also very hard to remember where
anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot. The
people in the portraits kept going to visit each other and Harry
was sure the coats of armour 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 direction, but Peeves the poltergeist was
worth two locked doors and a trick staircase if you met him when
you were late for class. He would drop waste-paper 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!’
The Potions Master 99
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 trying to force
their way through a door which unluckily turned out to be the
entrance to the out-of-bounds corridor on the third floor. He
wouldn’t believe they were lost, was sure they were trying 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-coloured
creature with bulging, lamp-like eyes just like Filch’s. She
patrolled the corridors alone. Break a rule in front of her, put just
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 better 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 ambition of many to give Mrs
Norris a good kick.
And then, once you had managed to find them, there were the
lessons themselves. There was a lot more to magic, as Harry
quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few
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 times a week they
went out to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology,
with a dumpy little witch called Professor Sprout, where they
learnt how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi and
found out what they were used for.
Easily the most boring lesson was History of Magic, which was
the only class 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 Emeric the Evil and Uric the Oddball mixed up.
Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, was a tiny little wizard
who had to stand on a pile of books to see over his desk. At the
start of their first lesson he took the register, and when he reached
Harry’s name he gave an excited squeak and toppled out of sight.
Professor McGonagall was again different. Harry had been quite
right to think she wasn’t a teacher to cross. Strict and clever, she
100 Harry Potter
gave them a talking-to the moment they had sat down in her first
‘Transfiguration 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
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
realised they weren’t going to be changing the furniture into ani-
mals for a long time. After making 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
Defence Against the Dark Arts, but Quirrell’s lessons turned out to
be a bit of a joke. His classroom smelled strongly of garlic, which
everyone said was to ward off 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 getting rid of a troublesome 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 noticed 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 wher-
ever 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 getting lost once.
‘What have we got today?’ Harry asked Ron as he poured sugar
on his porridge.
‘Double Potions with the Slytherins,’ said Ron. ‘Snape’s Head of
The Potions Master 101
Slytherin house. They say he always favours them – we’ll be able
to see if it’s true.’
‘Wish McGonagall favoured us,’ said Harry. Professor
McGonagall was Head of Gryffindor house, but it hadn’t stopped
her giving them a huge pile of homework the day before.
Just then, the post arrived. Harry had got 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 streamed into the Great Hall
during breakfast, circling the tables until they saw their owners
and dropping letters and packages on to their laps.
Hedwig hadn’t brought Harry anything so far. She sometimes
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 fluttered down between the marmalade and the
sugar bowl and dropped a note on to Harry’s plate. Harry tore it
open at once.
Dear Harry, (it said, in a very untidy scrawl)
I know you get Friday afternoons off, so would you like to
come and have a cup of tea with me around three? I want to hear
all about your first week. Send us an answer back with Hedwig.
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 Potions lesson turned out to be the worst thing that
had happened to him so far.
At the start-of-term banquet, Harry had got the idea that
Professor Snape disliked him. By the end of the first Potions
lesson, he knew he’d been wrong. Snape didn’t dislike Harry – he
Potions lessons took place down in one of the dungeons. It was
colder here than up in the main castle and would have been quite
creepy enough without the pickled animals floating in glass jars
all around the walls.
Snape, like Flitwick, started the class by taking the register, 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
102 Harry Potter
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 subtle science and exact art of potion-
making,’ he began. He spoke in barely more than a whisper, but
they caught every word – like Professor McGonagall, Snape had
the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. ‘As there is little
foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is
magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the
softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the deli-
cate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching
the mind, ensnaring the senses … I can teach you how to bottle
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 little 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.
‘Potter!’ 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 stretched 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 tried 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, Potter?’
Harry forced himself to keep looking straight 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?
The Potions Master 103
Snape was still ignoring Hermione’s quivering hand.
‘What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfs-
At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching towards the
‘I don’t know,’ said Harry quietly. ‘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 information,
Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so pow-
erful 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 Gryffindors as the Potions lesson
continued. Snape put them all into pairs and set them to mixing
up a simple potion to cure boils. He swept around in his long
black cloak, watching them weigh dried nettles and crush snake
fangs, criticising almost everyone except Malfoy, whom he seemed
to like. He was just 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 some-
how 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 were standing on
their stools while Neville, who had been drenched in the potion
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 potion 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
104 Harry Potter
‘You – Potter – 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
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 castle 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 out-
side the front door.
When Harry knocked they heard a frantic 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
‘Hang on,’ he said. ‘Back, Fang.’
He let them in, struggling 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 kettle was boiling on the open
fire and in a corner stood a massive bed with a patchwork quilt
‘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 on to 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 almost broke their teeth, but Harry and Ron
pretended to be enjoying them as they told Hagrid all about their
first lessons. Fang rested his head on Harry’s knee and drooled all
over his robes.
The Potions Master 105
Harry and Ron were delighted to hear Hagrid call Filch ‘that
‘An’ as fer that cat, Mrs Norris, I’d like ter introduce her to
Fang some time. D’yeh know, every time 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
‘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 subject 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 cosy. It was a cutting from the Daily Prophet:
GRINGOTTS BREAK-IN LATEST
Investigations continue into the break-in at Gringotts on 31
July, widely believed to be the work of dark wizards or witches
Gringotts’ 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 train that someone had
tried to rob Gringotts, but Ron hadn’t mentioned the date.
‘Hagrid!’ said Harry. ‘That Gringotts 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 vault that was searched had in
fact been emptied earlier that same day. Hagrid had emptied vault
seven hundred and thirteen, if you could call it emptying, taking
106 Harry Potter
out that grubby little package. Had that been what the thieves
were looking for?
As Harry and Ron walked back to the castle for dinner, their
pockets 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 just in time? Where was it now? And did
Hagrid know something about Snape that he didn’t want to tell
— 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
until they spotted a notice pinned up in the Gryffindor common
room which made them all groan. Flying lessons would be
starting on Thursday – and Gryffindor and Slytherin would be
‘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 any-
‘You don’t know you’ll make a fool of yourself,’ said Ron rea-
sonably. ‘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 getting in the house Quidditch
teams and told long, boastful stories which 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 countryside on his
broomstick. Even Ron would tell anyone who’d listen about the
time he’d almost hit a hang-glider on Charlie’s old broom.
Everyone from wizarding families talked about Quidditch con-
stantly. Ron had already had a big argument with Dean Thomas,
who shared their dormitory, about football. Ron couldn’t see what
was exciting 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 football team, trying to make the players move.
Neville had never been on a broomstick in his life, because his
108 Harry Potter
grandmother had never let him near one. Privately, Harry felt
she’d had good reason, because Neville managed to have an extra-
ordinary 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 tried. At breakfast on Thursday she
bored them all stupid with flying tips she’d got out of a library
book called Quidditch through the Ages. Neville was hanging on to
her every word, desperate for anything that might help him hang
on to his broomstick later, but everybody else was very pleased
when Hermione’s lecture was interrupted by the arrival of the
Harry hadn’t had a single letter since Hagrid’s note, something
that Malfoy had been quick to notice, 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 grand-
mother. 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 trying to remember what he’d forgotten 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 trouble quicker than any teacher in the school, was there in a
‘What’s going on?’
‘Malfoy’s got my Remembrall, Professor.’
Scowling, Malfoy quickly dropped the Remembrall back on the
‘Just looking,’ he said, and he sloped away with Crabbe and
Goyle behind him.
At three-thirty that afternoon, Harry, Ron and the other
Gryffindors hurried down the front steps into the grounds for
The Midnight Duel 109
their first flying lesson. It was a clear, breezy day and the grass
rippled under their feet as they marched down the sloping lawns
towards a smooth lawn on the opposite side of the grounds to the
Forbidden Forest, whose trees were swaying darkly in the distance.
The Slytherins were already there, and so were twenty broom-
sticks 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 slightly to the left.
Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short, grey hair
and yellow eyes like a hawk.
‘Well, what are you all waiting 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.
‘Stick out your right hand over your broom,’ called Madam
Hooch at the front, ‘and say, “Up!” ’
‘UP!’ everyone shouted.
Harry’s broom jumped 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,
correcting 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 straight back down by leaning forwards slightly.
On my whistle – three – two –’
But Neville, nervous and jumpy 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 straight
up like a cork shot out of a bottle – twelve feet – twenty feet.
Harry saw his scared white face look down at the ground falling
away, saw him gasp, slip sideways off the broom and –
WHAM – a thud and a nasty crack and Neville lay, face down,
110 Harry Potter
on the grass in a heap. His broomstick was still rising higher and
higher and started to drift lazily towards the Forbidden Forest and
out of sight.
Madam Hooch was bending over Neville, her face as white as
‘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-streaked, 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
‘Did you see his face, the great lump?’
The other Slytherins joined in.
‘Shut up, Malfoy,’ snapped Parvati Patil.
‘Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom?’ said Pansy Parkinson, a
hard-faced Slytherin girl. ‘Never thought you’d like fat little cry
‘Look!’ said Malfoy, darting forward and snatching something
out of the grass. ‘It’s that stupid thing Longbottom’s gran sent
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 collect – how
about – up a tree?’
‘Give it here!’ Harry yelled, but Malfoy had leapt on to his
broomstick and taken off. 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 mount-
ed the broom and kicked hard against the ground and up, up he
soared, air rushed through his hair and his robes whipped out
The Midnight Duel 111
behind him – and in a rush of fierce joy he realised 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 from Ron.
He turned his broomstick sharply to face Malfoy in mid-air.
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 leant forward and
grasped the broom tightly in both hands and it shot towards
Malfoy like a javelin. Malfoy only just got out of the way in time;
Harry made a sharp about turn and held the broom steady. A few
people below were clapping.
‘No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy,’ Harry
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 towards the ground.
Harry saw, as though in slow motion, the ball rise up in the air
and then start to fall. He leant forward and pointed his broom
handle down – next second he was gathering speed in a steep
dive, racing the ball – wind whistled in his ears, mingled with the
screams of people watching – he stretched out his hand – a foot
from the ground he caught it, just in time to pull his broom
straight, and he toppled gently on to the grass with the
Remembrall clutched safely in his fist.
His heart sank faster than he’d just dived. Professor
McGonagall was running towards them. He got to his feet,
‘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 triumphant
112 Harry Potter
faces as he left, walking numbly in Professor McGonagall’s wake
as she strode towards the castle. He was going to be expelled, he
just 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 jog 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 trotting mis-
erably 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
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.
Professor McGonagall pointed them into a classroom which
was empty except for Peeves, who was busy writing 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
‘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?’
The Midnight Duel 113
Harry nodded silently. 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 true
‘Ever seen a game of Quidditch, Potter?’ he asked excitedly.
‘Wood’s captain of the Gryffindor team,’ Professor McGonagall
‘He’s just 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 better team than last
year. Flattened 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.’
It was dinner time. Harry had just 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, shovelling pie into his mouth. He felt
particularly hungry after the excitement of the afternoon. ‘Wood
Ron was so amazed, so impressed, he just sat and gaped at
‘I start training next week,’ said Harry. ‘Only don’t tell anyone,
Wood wants to keep it a secret.’
114 Harry Potter
Fred and George Weasley now came into the hall, spotted
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, Potter? When are you getting the train
back to the Muggles?’
‘You’re a lot braver now you’re back on the ground and you’ve
got your little friends with you,’ said Harry coolly. There was of
course nothing at all little 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 any time on my own,’ said Malfoy. ‘Tonight, if
you want. Wizard’s duel. Wands only – no contact. What’s the
matter? Never heard of a wizard’s duel before, I suppose?’
‘Of course he has,’ said Ron, wheeling round. ‘I’m his second,
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,
getting 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.
The Midnight Duel 115
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 Gryffindor 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.
‘Goodbye,’ 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
tries to curse you, you’d better 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 dressing-gowns, picked up their wands
and crept across the tower room, down the spiral staircase and
into the Gryffindor common room. A few embers were still glow-
ing in the fireplace, turning all the armchairs into hunched black
shadows. They had almost reached the portrait hole when a voice
spoke from the chair nearest them: ‘I can’t believe you’re going to
do this, Harry.’
A lamp flickered on. It was Hermione Granger, wearing a pink
dressing-gown 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 portrait of the
Fat Lady and climbed through the hole.
Hermione wasn’t going to give up that easily. She followed Ron
116 Harry Potter
through the portrait hole, hissing at them like an angry goose.
‘Don’t you care about Gryffindor, do you only care about your-
selves, 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
‘All right, but I warned you, you just 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 portrait of the Fat Lady to get back inside and found herself
facing an empty painting. The Fat Lady had gone on a night-time
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
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 truth, that I
was trying 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
The Midnight Duel 117
‘If either of you get us caught, I’ll never rest until I’ve learnt that
Curse of the Bogies Quirrell told us about and used it on you.’
Hermione opened her mouth, perhaps to tell Ron exactly how
to use the Curse of the Bogies, but Harry hissed at her to be quiet
and beckoned them all forward.
They flitted along corridors striped 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 tiptoed towards the trophy room.
Malfoy and Crabbe weren’t there yet. The crystal trophy 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 jump. Harry had
only just raised his wand when they heard someone speak – and it
‘Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner.’
It was Filch speaking to Mrs Norris. Horror-struck, Harry
waved madly at the other three to follow him as quickly as
possible; they scurried silently towards 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
‘This way!’ Harry mouthed to the others and, petrified, they
began to creep down a long gallery full of suits of armour. They
could hear Filch getting nearer. Neville suddenly let out a fright-
ened squeak and broke into a run – he tripped, grabbed Ron
around the waist and the pair of them toppled right into a suit of
The clanging and crashing were enough to wake the whole
‘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
118 Harry Potter
or where they were going. They ripped through a tapestry and
found themselves in a hidden passageway, hurtled 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
‘I – told – you,’ Hermione gasped, clutching at the stitch in her
chest. ‘I – told – you.’
‘We’ve got to get back to Gryffindor Tower,’ said Ron, ‘quickly
‘Malfoy tricked you,’ Hermione said to Harry. ‘You realise that,
don’t you? He was never going to meet you – Filch knew someone
was going to be in the trophy room, Malfoy must have tipped him
Harry thought she was probably right, but he wasn’t going to
tell her that.
It wasn’t going to be that simple. They hadn’t gone more than a
dozen paces when a doorknob rattled 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
‘Shut up, Peeves – please – you’ll get us thrown out.’
‘Wandering around at midnight, ickle firsties? 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.
‘STUDENTS OUT OF BED!’ Peeves bellowed. ‘STUDENTS
OUT 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
‘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
The Midnight Duel 119
towards 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
‘Don’t mess me about, Peeves, now where did they go?’
‘Shan’t say nothing if you don’t say please,’ said Peeves in his
annoying sing-song 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 OK – get off, Neville!’ For Neville had been tugging on the
sleeve of Harry’s dressing-gown 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 straight into the eyes of a monstrous dog, a
dog which filled the whole space between ceiling and floor. It had
three heads. Three pairs of rolling, mad eyes; three noses, twitch-
ing and quivering in their direction; three drooling mouths, saliva
hanging in slippery ropes from yellowish fangs.
It was standing quite still, 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 getting over that, there was no mistaking what those
thunderous growls meant.
Harry groped for the doorknob – between Filch and death, he’d
They fell backwards – 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
120 Harry Potter
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
dressing-gowns hanging off their shoulders and their flushed,
‘Never mind that – pig snout, pig snout,’ panted Harry, and the
portrait swung forward. They scrambled into the common room
and collapsed, trembling 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
‘You don’t use your eyes, any of you, do you?’ she snapped.
‘Didn’t you see what it was standing on?’
‘The floor?’ 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 trapdoor. It’s obviously
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
Ron stared after her, his mouth open.
‘No, we don’t mind,’ he said. ‘You’d think we dragged her along,
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? Gringotts 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
little package from vault seven hundred and thirteen was.
— CHAPTER TEN —
Malfoy couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw that Harry and Ron
were still at Hogwarts next day, looking tired but perfectly cheer-
ful. Indeed, by next morning Harry and Ron thought that meeting
the three-headed dog had been an excellent adventure and they
were quite keen to have another one. In the meantime, Harry
filled Ron in about the package that seemed to have been moved
from Gringotts to Hogwarts, and they spent a lot of time wonder-
ing 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 or 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 getting back at
Malfoy, and to their great delight, just such a thing arrived with
the post about a week later.
As the owls flooded into the Great Hall as usual, everyone’s
attention was caught at once by a long thin package carried by six
large screech owls. Harry was just 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
122 Harry Potter
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 broomstick or they’ll all want one.
Oliver Wood will meet you tonight on the
Quidditch pitch at seven o’clock for your
first training session.
Professor M. McGonagall
Harry had difficulty hiding his glee as he handed the note to Ron
‘A Nimbus Two Thousand!’ Ron moaned enviously. ‘I’ve never
even touched one.’
They left the Hall quickly, wanting to unwrap the broomstick in
private before their first lesson, but halfway across the Entrance
Hall they found the way upstairs barred by Crabbe and Goyle.
Malfoy seized the package from Harry and felt it.
‘That’s a broomstick,’ he said, throwing it back to Harry with a
mixture of jealousy and spite on his face. ‘You’ll be for it this time,
Potter, first-years aren’t allowed them.’
Ron couldn’t resist it.
‘It’s not any old broomstick,’ 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
‘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 circum-
stances, Potter. And what model is it?’
‘A Nimbus Two Thousand, sir,’ said Harry, fighting 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 true,’ Harry chortled as they reached the top of the
marble staircase. ‘If he hadn’t stolen Neville’s Remembrall I
wouldn’t be in 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
‘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 trouble keeping his mind on his lessons that
day. It kept wandering up to the dormitory, where his new broom-
stick was lying under his bed, or straying off to the Quidditch
pitch where he’d be learning to play that night. He bolted his din-
ner that evening without noticing what he was eating and then
rushed upstairs with Ron to unwrap the Nimbus Two Thousand
‘Wow,’ Ron sighed, as the broomstick rolled on to Harry’s bed-
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, straight twigs and Nimbus Two
Thousand written in gold near the top.
As seven o’clock drew nearer, Harry left the castle and set off
towards the Quidditch pitch in the dusk. He’d never been inside
the stadium before. Hundreds of seats were raised in stands
around the pitch so that the spectators were high enough to see
what was going on. At either end of the pitch were three golden
poles with hoops on the end. They reminded Harry of the little
plastic sticks Muggle children blew bubbles through, except that
they were fifty feet high.
Too eager to fly again to wait for Wood, Harry mounted his
broomstick and kicked off from the ground. What a feeling – he
swooped in and out of the goalposts and then sped up and down
the pitch. 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 glinting. ‘I see what
124 Harry Potter
McGonagall meant … you really are a natural. I’m just going to
teach you the rules this evening, then you’ll be joining team prac-
tice three times a week.’
He opened the crate. Inside were four different-sized balls.
‘Right,’ said Wood. ‘Now, Quidditch is easy enough to under-
stand, 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 football.
‘This ball’s called the Quaffle,’ said Wood. ‘The Chasers throw
the Quaffle to each other and try 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 broom-
sticks 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. OK, got that. So
what are they for?’ He pointed at the three balls left inside the
‘I’ll show you now,’ said Wood. ‘Take this.’
He handed Harry a small club, a bit like a rounders bat.
‘I’m going to show you what the Bludgers do,’ Wood said.
‘These two are the Bludgers.’
He showed Harry two identical balls, jet black and slightly
smaller than the red Quaffle. Harry noticed that they seemed to be
straining to escape the straps 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
straight at Harry’s face. Harry swung at it with the bat to stop it
breaking his nose and sent it zig-zagging 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 struggling Bludger back into
the crate and strapping it down safely. ‘The Bludgers rocket
around trying to knock players off their brooms. That’s why you
have two Beaters on each team. The Weasley twins are ours – it’s
their job to protect their side from the Bludgers and try and knock
them towards the other team. So – think you’ve got all that?’
‘Three Chasers try and score with the Quaffle; the Keeper
guards the goalposts; 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 jaws 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 them-
Wood reached into the crate and took out the fourth and last
ball. Compared with the Quaffle and the Bludgers, it was tiny,
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 job to catch it. You’ve got to
weave in and out of the Chasers, Beaters, Bludgers and Quaffle to
get it before the other team’s Seeker, because whichever Seeker
catches the Snitch wins his team an extra hundred and fifty
points, 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 substitutes 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 practise with the Snitch yet,’ said Wood, carefully
shutting it back inside the crate. ‘It’s too dark, we might lose it.
Let’s try you out with a few of these.’
126 Harry Potter
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 throw-
ing the golf balls as hard as he could in every direction for Harry
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 trudged back up to the castle. ‘I wouldn’t be
surprised if you turn out better than Charlie Weasley, and he
could have played for England if he hadn’t gone off chasing
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 realised that he’d already
been at Hogwarts two months. The castle felt more like home
than Privet Drive had ever done. His lessons, too, were becoming
more and more interesting now that they had mastered the basics.
On Hallowe’en morning they woke to the delicious smell of bak-
ing pumpkin wafting through the corridors. Even better, Professor
Flitwick announced in Charms that he thought they were ready to
start making objects fly, something they had all been dying to try
since they’d seen him make Neville’s toad zoom around the class-
room. Professor Flitwick put the class into pairs to practise.
Harry’s partner was Seamus Finnigan (which was a relief, because
Neville had been trying to catch his eye). Ron, however, was to be
working with Hermione Granger. It was hard to tell whether Ron
or Hermione was angrier about 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 practis-
ing!’ squeaked Professor Flitwick, perched on top of his pile of
books as usual. ‘Swish and flick, 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 him-
self 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 skywards just
lay on the desktop. Seamus got so impatient that he prodded it
with his wand and set fire to it – Harry had to put it out with his
Ron, at the next table, wasn’t having much more luck.
‘Wingardium Leviosa!’ he shouted, waving his long arms like a
‘You’re saying it wrong,’ Harry heard Hermione snap. ‘It’s Wing-
gar-dium Levi-o-sa, 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 temper 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,
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
noticed 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
Hallowe’en feast, Harry and Ron overheard Parvati Patil telling
her friend Lavender that Hermione was crying in the girls’ toilets
and wanted to be left alone. Ron looked still more awkward at
this, but a moment later they had entered the Great Hall, where
the Hallowe’en decorations 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-of-term
Harry was just helping himself to a jacket potato when
Professor Quirrell came sprinting 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.
128 Harry Potter
There was 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
Percy was in his element.
‘Follow me! Stick together, first-years! No need to fear the troll
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
‘Don’t ask me, they’re supposed to be really stupid,’ said Ron.
‘Maybe Peeves let it in for a Hallowe’en joke.’
They passed different groups of people hurrying in different
directions. As they jostled their way through a crowd of confused
Hufflepuffs, 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 better not see us.’
Ducking down, they joined the Hufflepuffs going the other way,
slipped down a deserted side corridor and hurried off towards the
girls’ toilets. They had just 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?’
Quietly as possible, they crept along the next corridor after
Snape’s fading footsteps.
‘He’s heading for the third floor,’ Harry said, but Ron held up
‘Can you smell something?’
Harry sniffed and a foul stench reached his nostrils, a mixture
of old socks and the kind of public toilet no one seems to clean.
And then they heard it – a low grunting and the shuffling foot-
falls of gigantic feet. Ron pointed: at the end of a passage to the
left, something huge was moving towards 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, gran-
ite grey, its great lumpy body like a boulder with its small bald
head perched on top like a coconut. It had short legs thick as tree
trunks with flat, horny feet. The smell coming from it was incredi-
ble. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the
floor because its arms were so long.
The troll stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It wag-
gled its long ears, making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly
into the room.
‘The key’s in the lock,’ Harry muttered. ‘We could lock it in.’
‘Good idea,’ said Ron nervously.
They edged towards the open door, mouths dry, praying the
troll wasn’t about to come out of it. With one great leap, Harry
managed to grab the key, slam the door and lock it.
Flushed with their victory they started to run back up the pas-
sage, 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 locked up.
‘Oh, no,’ said Ron, pale as the Bloody Baron.
‘It’s the girls’ toilets!’ 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 – they ran inside.
Hermione Granger was shrinking against the wall opposite,
looking as if she was about to faint. The troll 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 troll stopped a few feet from Hermione. It lumbered
around, blinking stupidly, to see what had made the noise. Its
mean little 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 troll didn’t even seem to
notice the pipe hitting its shoulder, but it heard the yell and
paused again, turning its ugly snout towards Ron instead, giving
130 Harry Potter
Harry time to run around it.
‘Come on, run, run!’ Harry yelled at Hermione, trying to pull
her towards the door, but she couldn’t move, she was still flat
against the wall, her mouth open with terror.
The shouting and the echoes seemed to be driving the troll
berserk. It roared again and started towards 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 jump and managed to fasten his
arms around the troll’s neck from behind. The troll couldn’t feel
Harry hanging there, but even a troll will notice if you stick a long
bit of wood up its nose, and Harry’s wand had still been in his
hand when he’d jumped – it had gone straight up one of the troll’s
Howling with pain, the troll twisted and flailed its club, with
Harry clinging on for dear life; any second, the troll was going to
rip him off or catch him a terrible blow with the club.
Hermione had sunk to the floor in fright; Ron pulled out his
own wand – not knowing what he was going to do he heard him-
self cry the first spell that came into his head: ‘Wingardium
The club flew suddenly out of the troll’s hand, rose high, high
up into the air, turned slowly over – and dropped, with a sicken-
ing crack, on to its owner’s head. The troll swayed on the spot and
then fell flat on its face, with a thud that made the whole room
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
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 troll’s nose. It was
covered in what looked like lumpy grey glue.
‘Urgh – troll bogies.’
He wiped it on the troll’s trousers.
A sudden slamming and loud footsteps made the three of them
look up. They hadn’t realised what a racket they had been
making, but of course, someone downstairs must have heard the
crashes and the troll’s roars. A moment later, Professor
McGonagall had come bursting into the room, closely followed by
Snape, with Quirrell bringing up the rear. Quirrell took one look
at the troll, let out a faint whimper and sat quickly down on a
toilet, clutching his heart.
Snape bent over the troll. 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 still 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
floor. 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.’
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
‘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 Gryffindor for
this,’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘I’m very disappointed in you. If
you’re not hurt at all, you’d better get off to Gryffindor Tower.
Students are finishing the feast in their houses.’
132 Harry Potter
Professor McGonagall turned to Harry and Ron.
‘Well, I still 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 until
they had climbed two floors up. It was a relief to be away from the
smell of the troll, quite apart from anything else.
‘We should have got more than ten points,’ Ron grumbled.
‘Five, you mean, once she’s taken off Hermione’s.’
‘Good of her to get us out of trouble like that,’ Ron admitted.
‘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 eating
the food that had been sent up. Hermione, however, stood alone
by the door, waiting 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
friend. 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 —
As they entered November, the weather turned very cold. The
mountains around the school became icy grey and the lake like
chilled steel. Every morning the ground was covered in frost.
Hagrid could be seen from the upstairs windows, defrosting
broomsticks on the Quidditch pitch, bundled up in a long mole-
skin overcoat, rabbit-fur gloves and enormous beaverskin boots.
The Quidditch season had begun. On Saturday, Harry would be
playing in his first match after weeks of training: Gryffindor ver-
sus 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 under-
neath 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 through all his homework
without her, what with all the last-minute Quidditch practice
Wood was making them do. She had also lent him Quidditch
through the Ages, which turned out to be a very interesting read.
Harry learnt that there were seven hundred ways of committing
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 play-
ing 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
134 Harry Potter
she was much nicer for it. The day before Harry’s first Quidditch
match the three of them were out in the freezing courtyard during
break, and she had conjured them up a bright blue fire which
could be carried around in a jam jar. They were standing with
their backs to it, getting warm, when Snape crossed the yard.
Harry noticed 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
‘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 just made that rule up,’ Harry muttered 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 restless. He wanted Quidditch through the Ages back,
to take his mind off his nerves about tomorrow. Why should he be
afraid of Snape? Getting up, he told Ron and Hermione he was
going to ask Snape if he could have it.
‘Rather 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 try. He
pushed the door ajar and peered inside – and a horrible scene met
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 –
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 joined them. ‘What’s the
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 Hallowe’en! That’s where he
was going when we saw him – he’s after whatever it’s guarding!
And I’d bet my broomstick he let that troll in, to create a diversion!’
Hermione’s eyes were wide.
‘No – he wouldn’t,’ she said. ‘I know he’s not very nice, but he
wouldn’t try and steal something Dumbledore was keeping safe.’
‘Honestly, Hermione, you think all teachers are saints or some-
thing,’ 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 ques-
tion. Neville was snoring loudly, but Harry couldn’t sleep. He tried
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
chatter 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 time he’d be walking on to the
‘Harry, you need your strength,’ said Seamus Finnigan. ‘Seekers
are always the ones who get nobbled by the other team.’
‘Thanks, Seamus,’ said Harry, watching Seamus pile ketchup on
136 Harry Potter
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 joined 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 Potter 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
Meanwhile, in the changing rooms, 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.
‘OK, 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
in 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 changing room and,
hoping his knees weren’t going to give way, walked on to the pitch
to loud cheers.
Madam Hooch was refereeing. She stood in the middle of the
pitch, waiting 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 noticed that she seemed to be
speaking particularly to the Slytherin captain, Marcus Flint, a
fifth-year. Harry thought Flint looked as if he had some troll
blood in him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the fluttering
banner high above, flashing Potter for President over the crowd.
His heart skipped. He felt braver.
‘Mount your brooms, please.’
Harry clambered on to his Nimbus Two Thousand.
Madam Hooch gave a loud blast on her silver whistle.
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 –’
The Weasley twins’ friend, Lee Jordan, was doing the commen-
tary for the match, closely watched by Professor McGonagall.
‘And she’s really belting 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, Slytherin have taken the Quaffle,
Slytherin captain Marcus Flint gains the Quaffle and off he goes –
Flint flying like an eagle up there – he’s going to sc– no, stopped
by an excellent move by Gryffindor Keeper Wood and Gryffindor
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
Slytherin – that’s Adrian Pucey speeding off towards the goalposts,
but he’s blocked by a second Bludger – sent his way by Fred or
George Weasley, can’t tell which – nice play by the Gryffindor
Beater, anyway, and Johnson back in possession of the Quaffle, a
clear field ahead and off she goes – she’s really flying – dodges a
speeding Bludger – the goalposts are ahead – come on, now,
Angelina – Keeper Bletchley dives – misses – GRYFFINDOR
Gryffindor cheers filled the cold air, with howls and moans
from the Slytherins.
‘Budge up there, move along.’
Ron and Hermione squeezed together to give Hagrid enough
space to join them.
‘Bin watchin’ from me hut,’ said Hagrid, patting a large pair of
binoculars round 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 outta trouble, though, that’s somethin’,’ said Hagrid,
raising his binoculars and peering skywards at the speck that was
Way up above them, Harry was gliding over the game, squinting
138 Harry Potter
about for some sign of the Snitch. This was part of his and Wood’s
‘Keep out of the way until 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 out his feelings. Now he was back to staring
around for the Snitch. Once he caught sight of a flash of gold but
it was just a reflection from one of the Weasleys’ wristwatches,
and once a Bludger decided to come pelting his way, more like a
cannon ball than anything, but Harry dodged it and Fred Weasley
came chasing after it.
‘All right there, Harry?’ he had time to yell, as he beat the
Bludger furiously towards Marcus Flint.
‘Slytherin in possession,’ Lee Jordan was saying. ‘Chaser Pucey
ducks two Bludgers, two Weasleys and Chaser Bell and speeds
towards 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 downwards
after the streak of gold. Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs had seen
it, too. Neck and neck they hurtled towards the Snitch – all the
Chasers seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed to be
doing as they hung in mid-air to watch.
Harry was faster than Higgs – he could see the little 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
span 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 goalposts for Gryffindor. But in all the confusion, of
course, the Golden Snitch had disappeared from sight again.
Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, ‘Send him off,
ref! Red card!’
‘This isn’t football, Dean,’ Ron reminded him. ‘You can’t send
people off in Quidditch – and what’s a red card?’
But Hagrid was on Dean’s side.
‘They oughta change the rules, Flint coulda knocked Harry
outta 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 Gryffindor Seeker,
which could happen to anyone, I’m sure, so a penalty to
Gryffindor, taken by Spinnet, 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, frightening lurch. For a split second, he thought he was
going to fall. He gripped the broom tightly with both his hands
and knees. He’d never felt anything like that.
It happened again. It was as though the broom was trying to
buck him off. But Nimbus Two Thousands did not suddenly
decide to buck their riders off. Harry tried to turn back towards
the Gryffindor goalposts; he had half a mind to ask Wood to call
time out – and then he realised that his broom was completely out
of his control. He couldn’t turn it. He couldn’t direct it at all. It
was zig-zagging through the air and every now and then making
violent swishing movements which 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 joking, Professor – Slytherin score – oh no …’
The Slytherins were cheering. No one seemed to have noticed
that Harry’s broom was behaving strangely. It was carrying him
slowly higher, away from the game, jerking and twitching as it
‘Dunno what Harry thinks he’s doing,’ Hagrid mumbled. He
stared through his binoculars. ‘If I didn’ know better, I’d say he’d
lost control of his broom … but he can’t have …’
Suddenly, people were pointing up at Harry all over the stands.
His broom had started to roll over and over, with him only just
managing to hold on. Then the whole crowd gasped. Harry’s
broom had given a wild jerk and Harry swung off it. He was now
dangling from it, holding on with only one hand.
‘Did something happen to it when Flint blocked him?’ Seamus
140 Harry Potter
‘Can’t have,’ Hagrid said, his voice shaking. ‘Can’t nothing
interfere with a broomstick 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
‘What are you doing?’ moaned Ron, grey-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 non-stop 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 disap-
peared. Ron turned the binoculars back on Harry. His broom was
vibrating so hard, it was almost impossible for him to hang on
much longer. The whole crowd were on their feet, watching, terri-
fied, as the Weasleys flew up to try and pull Harry safely on to one
of their brooms, but it was no good – every time they got near
him, the broom would jump higher still. 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 any-
‘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 on to the hem of Snape’s robes.
It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape to realise that he was
on fire. A sudden yelp told her she had done her job. Scooping
the fire off him into a little jar 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 clam-
ber back on to his broom.
‘Neville, you can look!’ Ron said. Neville had been sobbing into
Hagrid’s jacket for the last five minutes.
Harry was speeding towards the ground when the crowd saw
him clap his hand to his mouth as though he was about to be sick
– he hit the pitch 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 still howl-
ing twenty minutes later, but it made no difference – Harry hadn’t
broken any rules and Lee Jordan was still happily shouting the
result – 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 some-
thin’ like that?’
Harry, Ron and Hermione looked at each other, wondering
what to tell him. Harry decided on the truth.
‘I found out something about him,’ he told Hagrid. ‘He tried to
get past that three-headed dog at Hallowe’en. It bit him. We think
he was trying to steal whatever it’s guarding.’
Hagrid dropped the teapot.
‘How do you know about Fluffy?’ he said.
‘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 any more,’ 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 jinx 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
‘I’m tellin’ yeh, yer wrong!’ said Hagrid hotly. ‘I don’ know why
142 Harry Potter
Harry’s broom acted like that, but Snape wouldn’ try an’ kill a stu-
dent! 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 battle their way
through the stormy sky to deliver post 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 draughty corridors had become icy and a bitter 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
‘I do feel so sorry,’ said Draco Malfoy, one Potions 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 lion-
fish, ignored them. Malfoy had been even more unpleasant than
usual since the Quidditch match. Disgusted that Slytherin had
lost, he had tried to get everyone laughing at how a wide-
mouthed tree frog would be replacing Harry as Seeker next. Then
he’d realised that nobody found this funny, because they were all
so impressed at the way Harry had managed to stay on his buck-
ing broomstick. So Malfoy, jealous and angry, had gone back to
taunting Harry about having no proper family.
It was true that Harry wasn’t going back to Privet Drive for
Christmas. Professor McGonagall had come round the week
before, making a list of students who would be staying for the
144 Harry Potter
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 Potions, they found
a large fir tree blocking the corridor ahead. Two enormous feet
sticking out at the bottom 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 Malfoy’s cold
drawl from behind them. ‘Are you trying to earn some extra
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.
Ron let go of the front of Malfoy’s robes.
‘He was provoked, Professor Snape,’ said Hagrid, sticking his
huge hairy face out from behind the tree. ‘Malfoy was insultin’ his
‘Be that as it may, fighting is against Hogwarts rules, Hagrid,’
said Snape silkily. ‘Five points from Gryffindor, Weasley, and be
grateful it isn’t more. Move along, all of you.’
Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle pushed roughly past the tree, scatter-
ing 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 Harry, Ron and Hermione followed Hagrid and his tree 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 mistletoe
hung all around the walls and no fewer than twelve towering
Christmas trees stood around the room, some sparkling with tiny
icicles, some glittering with hundreds of candles.
The Mirror of Erised 145
‘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 trailing 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 brightly. ‘Ever since
you mentioned Nicolas Flamel we’ve been trying to find out who
‘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
‘Unless you’d like to tell us and save us the trouble?’ Harry
added. ‘We must’ve been through hundreds of books already and
we can’t find him anywhere – just 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
left Hagrid looking disgruntled 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 trying to steal? The trouble 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 Important Modern Magical
Discoveries, and A Study of Recent Developments 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
Hermione took out a list of subjects and titles she had decided
to search while Ron strode off down a row of books and started
pulling them off the shelves at random. Harry wandered over to
the Restricted Section. He had been wondering for a while if
Flamel wasn’t somewhere in there. Unfortunately, you needed a
specially signed note from one of the teachers to look in any of
the restricted books and he knew he’d never get one. These were
146 Harry Potter
the books containing powerful Dark Magic never taught at
Hogwarts and only read by older students studying advanced
Defence 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 left the library. He, Ron and Hermione had already agreed
they’d better 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 look-
ing for a fortnight, after all, 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 joined 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 time to think much about Flamel. They had the dormitory
to themselves and the common room was far emptier than usual,
so they were able to get the good armchairs by the fire. They sat
by the hour eating anything they could spear on a toasting fork –
bread, crumpets, marshmallows – and plotting ways of getting
Malfoy expelled, which were fun to talk about even if they wouldn’t
Ron also started teaching Harry wizard chess. This was exactly
like Muggle chess except that the figures were alive, which made
it a lot like directing troops 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
The Mirror of Erised 147
so well he never had trouble getting them to do what he wanted.
Harry played with chessmen Seamus Finnigan had lent him
and they didn’t trust him at all. He wasn’t a very good player yet
and they kept shouting different bits 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 expecting any presents
at all. When he woke early next morning, however, the first thing
he saw was a small pile of packages at the foot of his bed.
‘Happy Christmas,’ said Ron sleepily as Harry scrambled out of
bed and pulled on his dressing-gown.
‘You too,’ said Harry. ‘Will you look at this? I’ve got some
‘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 him-
self. 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. Sellotaped to the note was a
‘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, going a bit pink
and pointing to a very lumpy parcel. ‘My mum. I told her you
didn’t expect any presents and – oh, no,’ he groaned, ‘she’s made
you a Weasley jumper.’
Harry had torn open the parcel to find a thick, hand-knitted
sweater in emerald green and a large box of home-made fudge.
‘Every year she makes us a jumper,’ 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 sweets – a large box of
148 Harry Potter
Chocolate Frogs from Hermione.
This left only one parcel. Harry picked it up and felt it. It was
very light. He unwrapped it.
Something fluid and silvery grey 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-Flavour Beans he’d got 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
‘It is! Look down!’
Harry looked down at his feet, but they had gone. He dashed to
the mirror. Sure enough, his reflection looked back at him, just
his head suspended in mid-air, his body completely invisible. He
pulled the Cloak over his head and his reflection vanished com-
‘There’s a note!’ said Ron suddenly. ‘A note fell out of it!’
Harry pulled off the Cloak and seized the letter. Written in nar-
row, loopy writing he had never seen before were the following
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
‘Nothing,’ said Harry. He felt very strange. 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 flung open and Fred and George Weasley bounded in. Harry
stuffed the Cloak quickly out of sight. He didn’t feel like sharing it
The Mirror of Erised 149
with anyone else yet.
‘Hey, look – Harry’s got a Weasley jumper, too!’
Fred and George were wearing blue jumpers, one with a large
yellow F on it, the other with a large yellow G.
‘Harry’s is better than ours, though,’ said Fred, holding up
Harry’s jumper. ‘She obviously makes more of an effort if you’re
‘Why aren’t you wearing yours, Ron?’ George demanded. ‘Come
on, get it on, they’re lovely and warm.’
‘I hate maroon,’ Ron moaned half-heartedly as he pulled it over
‘You haven’t got a letter 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 disap-
proving. He had clearly come halfway through unwrapping his
presents as he, too, carried a lumpy jumper over his arm, which
‘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
jumper over his head, knocking his glasses askew.
‘And you’re not sitting with the Prefects today, either,’ said
George. ‘Christmas is a time for family.’
They frog-marched Percy from the room, his arms pinned to his
sides by his jumper.
Harry had never in all his life had such a Christmas dinner. A
hundred fat, roast turkeys, mountains of roast and boiled pota-
toes, platters of fat chipolatas, tureens of buttered peas, silver
boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce – and stacks of wiz-
ard crackers every few feet along the table. These fantastic crack-
ers were nothing like the feeble Muggle ones the Dursleys usually
bought, with their little plastic toys and their flimsy paper
hats. Harry pulled a wizard cracker with Fred and it didn’t just
bang, it went off 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 on the High
150 Harry Potter
Table, Dumbledore had swapped his pointed wizard’s hat for a
flowered bonnet and was chuckling merrily at a joke Professor
Flitwick had just read him.
Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. Percy nearly
broke his teeth on a silver Sickle embedded in his slice. Harry
watched Hagrid getting 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
When Harry finally left 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’ Christmas dinner.
Harry and the Weasleys spent a happy afternoon having a furi-
ous snowball fight in 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 spectacu-
larly to Ron. He suspected he wouldn’t have lost so badly if Percy
hadn’t tried to help him so much.
After a tea of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, 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 Gryffindor 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 until 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 leant 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 try 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.
The Mirror of Erised 151
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 Restricted Section 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
floating along in mid-air, and even though Harry could feel his
arm supporting it, the sight gave him the creeps.
The Restricted Section was right at the back of the library.
Stepping carefully over the rope which separated these books
from the rest of the library, he held up his lamp to read the titles.
They didn’t tell him much. Their peeling, faded gold letters
spelled words in languages Harry couldn’t understand. Some had
no title 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 bottom shelf for an interesting-
looking book. A large black and silver volume caught his eye. He
pulled it out with difficulty, because it was very heavy, and, bal-
ancing it on his knee, let it fall open.
A piercing, blood-curdling shriek split the silence – the book
was screaming! Harry snapped it shut, but the shriek went on and
on, one high, unbroken, ear-splitting note. He stumbled back-
wards and knocked over his lamp, which went out at once.
Panicking, he heard footsteps coming down the corridor outside –
152 Harry Potter
stuffing the shrieking book back on the shelf, he ran for it. He
passed Filch almost 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 ring-
ing in his ears.
He came to a sudden halt in front of a tall suit of armour. He
had been so busy getting away from the library, he hadn’t paid
attention to where he was going. Perhaps because it was dark, he
didn’t recognise where he was at all. There was a suit of armour
near the kitchens, he knew, but he must be five floors above there.
‘You asked me to come directly to you, Professor, if anyone was
wandering around at night, and somebody’s been in the library –
Harry felt the blood drain out of his face. Wherever he was,
Filch must know a short cut, because his soft, greasy voice was
getting nearer, and to his horror, it was Snape who replied.
‘The Restricted Section? Well, they can’t be far, we’ll catch
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 being solid.
He backed away as quietly as he could. A door stood ajar 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 noticing anything. They walked
straight past and Harry leant 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 a disused classroom. The dark shapes of desks
and chairs were piled against the walls and there was an upturned
waste-paper 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
It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an
ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an
inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru
oyt on wohsi.
The Mirror of Erised 153
His panic fading now that there was no sound of Filch and
Snape, Harry moved nearer to the mirror, wanting to look at him-
self but see no reflection again. He stepped in front of it.
He had to clap his hands to his mouth to stop himself scream-
ing. 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
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, reflected behind him, were at least ten others. Harry looked
over his shoulder – but, still, 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 trick was that it reflected them, invisible or not?
He looked in the mirror again. A woman standing right behind
his reflection 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 reflections were so close together, but he felt only
air – she and the others existed only in the mirror.
She was a very pretty woman. She had dark red hair and her
eyes – her eyes are just like mine, Harry thought, edging a little
closer to the glass. Bright green – exactly the same shape, but then
he noticed that she was crying; smiling, but crying at the same
time. The tall, thin, black-haired man standing next to her put his
arm around her. He wore glasses, and his hair was very untidy. It
stuck up at the back, just like Harry’s did.
Harry was so close to the mirror now that his nose was nearly
touching that of his reflection.
‘Mum?’ 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 little 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 joy, half terrible sadness.
How long he stood there, he didn’t know. The reflections did
154 Harry Potter
not fade and he looked and looked until 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
‘I’d like to see your mum 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 time,’ 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 see-
ing them again tonight. He had almost forgotten about Flamel. It
didn’t seem very important any more. Who cared what the three-
headed dog was guarding? What did it matter if Snape stole it,
‘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 next night. They tried retracing Harry’s
route from 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
direction, but saw no one else. Just as Ron started moaning that
his feet were dead with cold, Harry spotted the suit of armour.
‘It’s here – just here – yes!’
They pushed the door open. Harry dropped the Cloak from
round his shoulders and ran to the mirror.
There they were. His mother and father beamed at the sight of
‘See?’ Harry whispered.
‘I can’t see anything.’
‘Look! Look at them all … there are loads of them …’
The Mirror of Erised 155
‘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 any more, just Ron in his paisley pyjamas.
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
‘I am – I’m wearing the badge like Bill used to – and I’m hold-
ing the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup – I’m Quidditch
Ron tore his eyes away from this splendid sight to look excitedly
‘Do you think this mirror shows the future?’
‘How can it? All my family are dead – let me have another
‘You had it to yourself all last night, give me a bit more time.’
‘You’re only holding the Quidditch Cup, what’s interesting
about that? I want to see my parents.’
‘Don’t push me –’
A sudden noise outside in the corridor put an end to their dis-
cussion. They hadn’t realised how loudly they had been talking.
Ron threw the Cloak back over them as the luminous eyes of
Mrs Norris came round the door. Ron and Harry stood quite still,
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 still hadn’t melted next morning.
‘Want to play chess, Harry?’ said Ron.
‘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
156 Harry Potter
‘I dunno, I’ve just 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
staying here all night with his family. Nothing at all.
‘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 straight
past him, so desperate to get to the mirror he hadn’t noticed him.
‘I – I didn’t see you, sir.’
‘Strange how short-sighted 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 realised 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 gen-
tly. ‘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 exactly as he is. Does that help?’
The Mirror of Erised 157
Harry thought. Then he said slowly, ‘It shows us what we want
… whatever we want …’
‘Yes and no,’ said Dumbledore quietly. ‘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 or
truth. 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 just 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, woollen socks.’
‘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 struck Harry that
Dumbledore might not have been quite truthful. But then, he
thought, as he shoved Scabbers off his pillow, it had been quite a
— CHAPTER THIRTEEN —
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 bottom of his trunk.
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 still 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
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 fanatic, but
Harry was on Wood’s side. If they won their next match, against
Hufflepuff, they would overtake Slytherin in the House Cham-
pionship for the first time in seven years. Quite apart from
wanting to win, Harry found that he had fewer nightmares when
he was tired out after training.
Then, during one particularly wet and muddy practice session,
Wood gave the team a bit of bad news. He’d just got very angry
Nicholas Flamel 159
with the Weasleys, who kept dive-bombing each other and pre-
tending to fall off their brooms.
‘Will you stop messing around!’ he yelled. ‘That’s exactly the
sort of thing that’ll lose us the match! Snape’s refereeing this time,
and he’ll be looking for any excuse to knock points off
George Weasley really did fall off his broom at these words.
‘Snape’s refereeing?’ he spluttered 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 just 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 wanting Snape near him while he was playing
The rest of the team hung back to talk to each other as usual at
the end of practice, but Harry headed straight 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 matter with you? You look terrible.’
Speaking quietly so that no one else would hear, Harry told the
other two about Snape’s sudden, sinister desire to be a Quidditch
‘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 portrait hole was anyone’s
guess, because his legs had been stuck together with what they
recognised at once as the Leg-Locker Curse. He must have had to
bunny hop all the way up to Gryffindor Tower.
Everyone fell about laughing except Hermione, who leapt up
and performed the counter-curse. Neville’s legs sprang apart and
160 Harry Potter
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 practise that on.’
‘Go to Professor McGonagall!’ Hermione urged Neville. ‘Report
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.
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 Sorting Hat
chose you for Gryffindor, didn’t it? And where’s Malfoy? In stink-
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 train coming
here – listen to this: “Professor Dumbledore is particularly 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 jumped to her feet. She hadn’t looked so excited
since they’d got back the marks for their very first piece of home-
‘Stay there!’ she said, and she sprinted up the stairs to the girls’
dormitories. Harry and Ron barely had time to exchange mystified
looks before she was dashing back, an enormous old book in her
Nicholas Flamel 161
‘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 until she’d
looked something up, and started flicking frantically through the
pages, muttering 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
‘Nicolas Flamel,’ she whispered dramatically, ‘is the only known
maker of the Philosopher’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 towards them, and Harry and Ron read:
The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with
making the Philosopher’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 Philosopher’s
Stone over the centuries, but the only Stone currently
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, enjoys 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 Philosopher’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 ever dying!’ said Harry.
‘No wonder Snape’s after it! Anyone would want it.’
‘And no wonder we couldn’t find Flamel in that Study of Recent
Developments in Wizardry,’ said Ron. ‘He’s not exactly recent if he’s
six hundred and sixty-five, is he?’
162 Harry Potter
Next morning in Defence Against the Dark Arts, while copying
down different ways of treating werewolf bites, Harry and Ron
were still discussing what they’d do with a Philosopher’s Stone if
they had one. It wasn’t until 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 just 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 pitch,’ said
As the match drew nearer, however, Harry became more and more
nervous, whatever he told Ron and Hermione. The rest of the
team weren’t too calm, either. The idea of overtaking Slytherin in
the House Championship was wonderful, no one had done it for
nearly seven years, but would they be allowed to, with such a
Harry didn’t know whether he was imagining it or not, but he
seemed to keep running into Snape wherever he went. At times,
he even wondered whether Snape was following him, trying to
catch him on his own. Potions lessons were turning into a sort of
weekly torture, Snape was so horrible to Harry. Could Snape pos-
sibly know they’d found out about the Philosopher’s Stone? Harry
didn’t see how he could – yet he sometimes had the horrible feel-
ing that Snape could read minds.
Harry knew, when they wished him good luck outside the chang-
ing rooms next afternoon, that Ron and Hermione were wonder-
ing 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. Little did Harry know that Ron and Hermione had been
secretly practising the Leg-Locker Curse. They’d got 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 Mortis,’ Hermione muttered as
Nicholas Flamel 163
Ron slipped his wand up his sleeve.
‘I know,’ Ron snapped. ‘Don’t nag.’
Back in the changing 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
favour 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 try and hurt
him if Dumbledore was watching.
Perhaps that was why Snape was looking so angry as the teams
marched on to the pitch, 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 Potter’s going to stay on his broom this
time? Anyone want a bet? What about you, Weasley?’
Ron didn’t answer; Snape had just awarded Hufflepuff a penalty
because George Weasley had hit a Bludger at him. Hermione, who
had all her fingers crossed in her lap, was squinting 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 Potter, who’s got no parents, then there’s
the Weasleys, who’ve got no money – you should be on the team,
Longbottom, 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, still
not daring to take his eyes from the game, said, ‘You tell him,
‘Longbottom, if brains were gold you’d be poorer than Weasley,
and that’s saying something.’
164 Harry Potter
Ron’s nerves were already stretched to breaking point with
anxiety about Harry.
‘I’m warning you, Malfoy – one more word –’
‘Ron!’ said Hermione suddenly. ‘Harry –!’
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 towards the ground like a
‘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, wrestling him to the ground. Neville hesitated,
then clambered over the back of his seat to help.
‘Come on, Harry!’ Hermione screamed, leaping on to 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 scuffles and
yelps coming from the whirl of fists that was Neville, Crabbe and
Up in the air, Snape turned on his broomstick just in time to
see something scarlet shoot past him, missing him by inches –
next second, Harry had pulled out of the dive, his arm raised in
triumph, 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 are in the lead!’ shrieked Hermione, danc-
ing up and down on her seat and hugging Parvati Patil in the row
Harry jumped 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 on to the pitch, he saw Snape
land nearby, white-faced and tight-lipped – then Harry felt a hand
on his shoulder and looked up into Dumbledore’s smiling face.
‘Well done,’ said Dumbledore quietly, 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.
Nicholas Flamel 165
Harry left the changing room alone some time 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 just 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 on to their shoulders; Ron
and Hermione in the distance, jumping up and down, Ron cheer-
ing through a heavy nosebleed.
Harry had reached the shed. He leant 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
And speaking of Snape …
A hooded figure came swiftly down the front steps of the castle.
Clearly not wanting to be seen, it walked as fast as possible
towards the Forbidden Forest. Harry’s victory faded from his mind
as he watched. He recognised the figure’s prowling walk. Snape,
sneaking into the Forest while everyone else was at dinner – what
was going on?
Harry jumped back on his Nimbus Two Thousand and took off.
Gliding silently over the castle he saw Snape enter the Forest at a
run. He followed.
The trees were so thick he couldn’t see where Snape had gone.
He flew in circles, lower and lower, brushing the top branches of
trees until he heard voices. He glided towards them and landed
noiselessly in a towering beech tree.
He climbed carefully along one of the branches, holding tight
to his broomstick, trying 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 stuttering worse than ever. Harry strained 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 Philosopher’s Stone,
Harry leant forward. Quirrell was mumbling something. Snape
166 Harry Potter
‘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 towards 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 little 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 strode 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 tried to take
on Crabbe and Goyle single-handed! He’s still out cold but
Madam Pomfrey says he’ll be all right – talk about showing
Slytherin! Everyone’s waiting for you in the common room, we’re
having a party, Fred and George stole some cakes and stuff from
‘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 shutting the door
behind them, then he told them what he’d seen and heard.
‘So we were right, it is the Philosopher’s Stone, and Snape’s try-
ing to force Quirrell to help him get it. He asked if he knew how
to get past Fluffy – and he said something about Quirrell’s “hocus-
pocus” – I reckon there are other things guarding the stone apart
from Fluffy, loads of enchantments, probably, and Quirrell would
have done some anti-Dark Arts spell which Snape needs to break
‘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
Quirrell, however, must have been braver than they’d thought. In
the weeks that followed he did seem to be getting paler and thin-
ner, but it didn’t look as though he’d cracked yet.
Every time they passed the third-floor corridor, Harry, Ron and
Hermione would press their ears to the door to check that Fluffy
was still growling inside. Snape was sweeping about in his usual
bad temper, which surely meant that the Stone was still safe.
Whenever Harry passed Quirrell these days he gave him an
encouraging sort of smile, and Ron had started telling people off
for laughing at Quirrell’s stutter.
Hermione, however, had more on her mind than the
Philosopher’s Stone. She had started drawing up revision time-
tables and colour-coding 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 revising for, you already know it all.’
‘What am I revising for? Are you mad? You realise we need to
pass these exams to get into the second year? They’re very impor-
tant, I should have started studying a month ago, I don’t know
what’s got 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
reciting the twelve uses of dragon’s blood or practising wand
168 Harry Potter
movements. Moaning and yawning, Harry and Ron spent most of
their free time in the library with her, trying to get through all
their extra work.
‘I’ll never remember this,’ Ron burst out one afternoon, throw-
ing down his quill and looking longingly out of the library
window. It was the first really fine 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 ‘Dittany’ in One Thousand Magical
Herbs and Fungi, didn’t look up until 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 shifty voice that got their interest at
once. ‘An’ what’re you lot up ter?’ He looked suddenly suspicious.
‘Yer not still 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 Philosopher’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 matter of
fact,’ said Harry, ‘about what’s guarding the Stone apart from
‘SHHHH!’ said Hagrid again. ‘Listen – come an’ see me later, I’m
not promisin’ I’ll tell yeh anythin’, mind, but don’ go rabbitin’
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-
‘Do you think it had anything to do with the Stone?’
‘I’m going to see what section 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.
Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback 169
‘But it’s against our laws,’ said Ron. ‘Dragon-breeding was out-
lawed by the Warlocks’ Convention of 1709, everyone knows
that. It’s hard to stop Muggles noticing us if we’re keeping dragons
in the back garden – anyway, you can’t tame dragons, it’s danger-
ous. You should see the burns Charlie’s got off wild ones in
‘But there aren’t wild dragons in Britain?’ said Harry.
‘Of course there are,’ said Ron. ‘Common Welsh Green and
Hebridean Blacks. The Ministry of Magic has a job hushing them
up, I can tell you. Our lot have to keep putting spells on Muggles
who’ve spotted them, to make them forget.’
‘So what on earth’s 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 stiflingly 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 beating about the bush.
‘We were wondering if you could tell us what’s guarding the
Philosopher’s Stone apart from Fluffy.’
Hagrid frowned at him.
‘O’ course I can’t,’ he said. ‘Number one, I don’ know meself.
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
outta Gringotts – 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, flattering voice. Hagrid’s beard twitched 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 Fluffy from me … then some o’ the teachers did
170 Harry Potter
enchantments … Professor Sprout – Professor Flitwick – Professor
McGonagall –’ he ticked them off on his fingers, ‘Professor
Quirrell – an’ Dumbledore himself did somethin’, o’ course. Hang
on, I’ve forgotten someone. Oh yeah, Professor Snape.’
‘Yeah – yer not still 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 protecting the Stone, it must have
been easy to find 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
‘Well, that’s something,’ Harry muttered to the others. ‘Hagrid,
can we have a window open? I’m boiling.’
‘Can’t, Harry, sorry,’ said Hagrid. Harry noticed 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 stranger.
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
‘Well, I’ve bin doin’ some readin’,’ said Hagrid, pulling a large
book from under his pillow. ‘Got this outta the library – Dragon-
Breeding for Pleasure and Profit – it’s a bit outta date, o’ course, but
it’s all in here. Keep the egg in the fire, ’cause their mothers
breathe on ’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 recognise diff’rent eggs – what I got there’s a Norwegian
Ridgeback. They’re rare, them.’
Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback 171
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 hap-
pen 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 struggled through all the extra home-
work they were getting. Hermione had now started making revi-
sion timetables for Harry and Ron, too. It was driving them mad.
Then, one breakfast time, Hedwig brought Harry another note
from Hagrid. He had written only two words: It’s hatching.
Ron wanted to skip Herbology and go straight down to the hut.
Hermione wouldn’t hear of it.
‘Hermione, how many times in our lives are we going to see a
‘We’ve got lessons, we’ll get into trouble, and that’s nothing to
what Hagrid’s going to be in when someone finds out what he’s
‘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 castle at
the end of their lesson, the three of them dropped their trowels 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
They all drew their chairs up to the table and watched with
All at once there was a scraping noise and the egg split open.
The baby dragon flopped on to the table. It wasn’t exactly pretty;
Harry thought it looked like a crumpled, black umbrella. Its spiny
172 Harry Potter
wings were huge compared to its skinny jet body and it had a long
snout with wide nostrils, stubs of horns and bulging, orange eyes.
It sneezed. A couple of sparks flew out of its snout.
‘Isn’t he beautiful?’ Hagrid murmured. He reached out a hand
to stroke the dragon’s head. It snapped at his fingers, showing
‘Bless him, look, he knows his mummy!’ said Hagrid.
‘Hagrid,’ said Hermione, ‘how fast do Norwegian Ridgebacks
Hagrid was about to answer when the colour 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 time 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 times in length
in just a week. Smoke kept furling out of its nostrils. Hagrid hadn’t
been doing his gamekeeping duties because the dragon was keep-
ing him so busy. There were empty brandy bottles 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 Mummy?’
‘He’s lost his marbles,’ Ron muttered in Harry’s ear.
‘Hagrid,’ said Harry loudly, ‘give it a fortnight 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 for ever, but I can’t jus’ dump him,
Harry suddenly turned to Ron.
Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback 173
‘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 Invisibility
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 little 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
The three of them put their heads together to read the note.
How are you? Thanks for the letter – I’d be glad to take
the Norwegian Ridgeback, but it won’t be easy getting
him here. I think the best thing will be to send him over
with some friends 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 still dark.
Send me an answer as soon as possible.
174 Harry Potter
They looked at each other.
‘We’ve got the Invisibility Cloak,’ said Harry. ‘It shouldn’t be too
difficult – I think the Cloak’s big enough to cover two of us and
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 next morning, Ron’s bitten hand had
swollen to twice its usual size. He didn’t know whether it was safe
to go to Madam Pomfrey – would she recognise 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 poiso-
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 just my hand,’ he whispered, ‘although that feels like it’s
about to fall off. Malfoy told Madam Pomfrey he wanted to bor-
row 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 just remembered – Charlie’s letter 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 time 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
They found Fang the boarhound sitting outside with a ban-
daged tail when they went to tell Hagrid, who opened a window
to talk to them.
Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback 175
‘I won’t let you in,’ he puffed. ‘Norbert’s at a tricky stage – noth-
in’ I can’t handle.’
When they told him about Charlie’s letter, 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 – jus’ playin’ – he’s
only a baby, after all.’
The baby banged its tail on the wall, making the windows
rattle. Harry and Hermione walked back to the castle, feeling
Saturday couldn’t come quickly enough.
They would have felt sorry for Hagrid when the time came for
him to say goodbye 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 Entrance 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 journey,’ 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 teddy was having his head torn off.
‘Bye-bye, Norbert!’ Hagrid sobbed, as Harry and Hermione cov-
ered the crate with the Invisibility Cloak and stepped underneath
it themselves. ‘Mummy will never forget you!’
How they managed to get the crate back up to the castle, they
never knew. Midnight ticked nearer as they heaved Norbert up the
marble staircase in the Entrance Hall and along the dark corri-
dors. Up another staircase, then another – even one of Harry’s
short cuts 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. Forgetting that they were already invisible, they
shrank into the shadows, staring at the dark outlines of two
people grappling with each other ten feet away. A lamp flared.
Professor McGonagall, in a tartan dressing-gown and a hairnet,
had Malfoy by the ear.
‘Detention!’ she shouted. ‘And twenty points from Slytherin!
176 Harry Potter
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 until 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 broomsticks 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 as their hands, now that Norbert was off them. No more
dragon – Malfoy in detention – what could spoil their happiness?
The answer to that was waiting at the foot of the stairs. As they
stepped into the corridor, Filch’s face loomed suddenly out of the
‘Well, well, well,’ he whispered, ‘we are in trouble.’
They’d left the Invisibility Cloak on top of the tower.
— CHAPTER FIFTEEN —
The Forbidden 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 trembling. 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 trouble this time. 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 astronomy 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 lead-
‘Harry!’ Neville burst out, the moment he saw the other two. ‘I
was trying 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 violently 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 the astronomy tower. It’s one o’clock in the morning.
It was the first time Hermione had ever failed to answer a teach-
er’s question. 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, trying
178 Harry Potter
to get him out of bed and into trouble. I’ve already caught him. I
suppose you think it’s funny that Longbottom here heard the story
and believed it, too?’
Harry caught Neville’s eye and tried to tell him without words
that this wasn’t true, 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
Potter, I thought Gryffindor meant more to you than this. All
three of you will receive detentions – yes, you too, Mr
Longbottom, 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, Potter. Now get back to
bed, all of you. I’ve never been more ashamed of Gryffindor
A hundred and fifty points lost. That put Gryffindor in last
place. In one night, they’d ruined any chance Gryffindor had had
for the House Cup. Harry felt as though the bottom 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 hour-glasses that record-
ed the house points 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 Potter, the
famous Harry Potter, their hero of two Quidditch matches, had
lost them all those points, him and a couple of other stupid first-
The Forbidden Forest 179
From being one of the most popular and admired people at the
school, Harry was suddenly the most hated. Even Ravenclaws and
Hufflepuffs turned on him, because everyone had been longing to
see Slytherin lose the House Cup. Everywhere Harry went, people
pointed and didn’t trouble to lower their voices as they insulted
him. Slytherins, on the other hand, clapped as he walked past
them, whistling 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
‘They’ve never lost a hundred and fifty 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 him-
self not to meddle in things that weren’t his business from 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 practice, 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 time as Harry, because they weren’t as well known, but
nobody would speak to them either. Hermione had stopped draw-
ing attention to herself in class, keeping her head down and work-
ing in silence.
Harry was almost glad that the exams weren’t far away. All the
revision he had to do kept his mind off his misery. He, Ron and
Hermione kept to themselves, working late into the night, trying
to remember the ingredients in complicated potions, learn charms
and spells off by heart, memorise the dates of magical discoveries
and goblin rebellions …
Then, about a week before the exams were due to start, Harry’s
new resolution 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.
180 Harry Potter
‘No – no – not again, please –’
It sounded as though someone was threatening him. Harry
‘All right – all right –’ he heard Quirrell sob.
Next second, Quirrell came hurrying out of the classroom,
straightening his turban. He was pale and looked as though he
was about to cry. He strode out of sight; Harry didn’t think
Quirrell had even noticed him. He waited until Quirrell’s footsteps
had disappeared, then peered into the classroom. It was empty,
but a door stood ajar at the other end. Harry was halfway
towards it before he remembered what he’d promised himself
about not meddling.
All the same, he’d have gambled twelve Philosopher’s Stones
that Snape had just left the room, and from what Harry had just
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 testing
Ron on Astronomy. Harry told them what he’d heard.
‘Snape’s done it, then!’ said Ron. ‘If Quirrell’s told him how to
break his Anti-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 surround-
ing 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 try 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 troll
got in at Hallowe’en 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
better, 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 –’
The Forbidden Forest 181
‘No,’ said Harry flatly, ‘we’ve done enough poking around.’
He pulled a map of Jupiter towards 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.
Prof. M. McGonagall
Harry had forgotten they still had detentions to do in the furore
over the points they’d lost. He half expected Hermione to com-
plain that this was a whole night of revision 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 goodbye to Ron in the
common room and went down to the entrance hall with Neville.
Filch was already there – and so was Malfoy. Harry had also for-
gotten that Malfoy had got a detention, too.
‘Follow me,’ said Filch, lighting a lamp and leading them out-
side. ‘I bet you’ll think twice about breaking a school rule again,
won’t you, eh?’ he continued, leering at them. ‘Oh yes … hard
work and pain are the best teachers if you ask me … It’s just 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 still 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
They marched off across the dark grounds. Neville kept sniff-
ing. Harry wondered what their punishment was going to be. It
must be something really horrible, or Filch wouldn’t be sounding
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 enjoying your-
self with that oaf? Well, think again, boy – it’s into the Forest
182 Harry Potter
you’re going and I’m much mistaken if you’ll all come out in one
At this, Neville let out a little moan and Malfoy stopped dead in
‘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
‘That’s your lookout, 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 striding towards 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’ time,’ he said. ‘I bin waitin’ fer half an hour already. All
right, Harry, Hermione?’
‘I shouldn’t be too friendly 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 nastily, and he turned and started back towards the castle,
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 yeh’ve got ter pay fer it.’
‘But this is servant stuff, it’s not for students to do. I thought
we’d be writing lines or something. If my father knew I was doing
this, he’d –’
‘– tell yer that’s how it is at Hogwarts,’ Hagrid growled. ‘Writin’
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 dan-
The Forbidden Forest 183
gerous 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 track that dis-
appeared 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 time in a week. I found
one dead last Wednesday. We’re gonna try 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 parties an’ follow the trail in diff’rent
directions. There’s blood all over the place, it must’ve bin stag-
gerin’ 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’ practise now – that’s it – an’ if
anyone gets in trouble, 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 little way into it they
reached a fork in the earth path and Harry, Hermione and Hagrid
took the left path while Malfoy, Neville and Fang took the right.
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
They walked past a mossy tree-stump. Harry could hear run-
ning water; there must be a stream somewhere close by. There
were still spots of unicorn blood here and there along the winding
184 Harry Potter
‘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 fitted it
into his crossbow, raising it, ready to fire. The three of them lis-
tened. Something was slithering over dead leaves nearby: it
sounded like a cloak trailing along the ground. Hagrid was squint-
ing up the dark path, but after a few seconds, the sound faded
‘I knew it,’ he murmured. ‘There’s summat in here that shouldn’
‘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 straining 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, patting his crossbow.
‘There’s summat bad loose in this Forest. This is Harry Potter 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?’
‘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 any-
The Forbidden Forest 185
Ronan didn’t answer immediately. He stared unblinkingly
upwards, then sighed again.
‘Always the innocent are the first victims,’ he said. ‘So it has
been for ages past, so it is now.’
‘Yeah,’ said Hagrid, ‘but have yeh seen anythin’, Ronan?
‘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 trees behind Ronan made Hagrid raise his
bow again, but it was only a second centaur, black-haired and
-bodied and wilder-looking than Ronan.
‘Hullo, Bane,’ said Hagrid. ‘All right?’
‘Good evening, Hagrid, I hope you are well?’
‘Well enough. Look, I’ve jus’ bin askin’ Ronan, you seen any-
thin’ odd in here lately? Only there’s a unicorn bin injured –
would yeh know anythin’ about it?’
Bane walked over to stand next to Ronan. He looked skywards.
‘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
‘Never,’ said Hagrid irritably, ‘try an’ get a straight answer out of
a centaur. Ruddy star-gazers. Not interested in anythin’ closer’n
‘Are there many of them in here?’ asked Hermione.
‘Oh, a fair few … Keep themselves to themselves mostly, but
they’re good enough about turnin’ up if ever I want a word.
They’re deep, mind, centaurs … they know things … jus’ don’ let
‘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
They walked on through the dense, dark trees. Harry kept
186 Harry Potter
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 just 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, until they couldn’t hear
anything but the rustling of leaves around them.
‘You don’t think they’ve been hurt, do you?’ whispered
‘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 for a joke. 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, until the path became almost impossible to follow
because the trees were so thick. Harry thought the blood seemed
to be getting thicker. There were splashes on the roots of a tree,
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
It was the unicorn all right, and it was dead. Harry had never
seen anything so beautiful and sad. Its long slender legs were
stuck out at odd angles where it had fallen and its mane was
The Forbidden Forest 187
spread pearly white on the dark leaves.
Harry had taken one step towards it when a slithering sound
made him freeze where he stood. A bush on the edge of the clear-
ing quivered … Then, out of the shadows, a hooded figure came
crawling across the ground like some stalking beast. Harry, Malfoy
and Fang stood transfixed. The cloaked figure reached the uni-
corn, it lowered its head over the wound in the animal’s side, and
began to drink its blood.
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
swiftly towards him – he couldn’t move for fear.
Then a pain pierced his head like he’d never felt before, it was
as though his scar was on fire – half-blinded, he staggered back-
wards. He heard hooves behind him, galloping, and something
jumped clean over him, 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 which stood out, livid, on Harry’s forehead.
‘You are the Potter boy,’ he said. ‘You had better get back to
Hagrid. The Forest is not safe at this time – 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 on to his back.
There was suddenly a sound of more galloping from the other
side of the clearing. Ronan and Bane came bursting through the
trees, 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
‘Do you realise who this is?’ said Firenze. ‘This is the Potter
boy. The quicker he leaves this Forest, the better.’
‘What have you been telling him?’ growled Bane. ‘Remember,
188 Harry Potter
Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens.
Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the plan-
Ronan pawed the ground nervously.
‘I’m sure Firenze thought he was acting 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 con-
cerned with what has been foretold! It is not our business to run
around like donkeys after stray 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 clutching on as best
he could, they plunged off into the trees, leaving Ronan and Bane
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 question. They made their way through the trees in silence
for so long that Harry thought Firenze didn’t want to talk to him
any more. They were passing through a particularly dense patch
of trees, however, when Firenze suddenly stopped.
‘Harry Potter, do you know what unicorn blood is used for?’
‘No,’ said Harry, startled by the odd question. ‘We’ve only used
the horn and tail-hair in Potions.’
‘That is because it is a monstrous 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 ter-
rible price. You have slain something pure and defenceless 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.
The Forbidden Forest 189
‘But who’d be that desperate?’ he wondered aloud. ‘If you’re
going to be cursed for ever, death’s 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 strength 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 Philosopher’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 rustling of the trees, 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 towards 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 Potter,’ said Firenze. ‘The planets have been
read wrongly before now, even by centaurs. I hope this is one of
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 Quidditch fouls when
Harry roughly shook him awake. In a matter 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
190 Harry Potter
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 … Bane was furi-
ous … 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 frightened, but she had a word of
‘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
When Harry pulled back his sheets, he found his Invisibility
Cloak folded neatly underneath them. There was a note pinned
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 bursting through the door at any moment. Yet
the days crept by and there could be no doubt that Fluffy was still
alive and well behind the locked door.
It was swelteringly 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 Anti-
They had practical exams as well. Professor Flitwick called them
one by one into his class to see if they could make a pineapple tap-
dance across a desk. Professor McGonagall watched them turn a
mouse into a snuff-box – points were given for how pretty the
snuff-box was, but taken away if it had whiskers. Snape made them
all nervous, breathing down their necks while they tried to remem-
ber how to make a Forgetfulness Potion.
Harry did the best he could, trying to ignore the stabbing pains
in his forehead which had been bothering him ever since his trip
into the Forest. Neville thought Harry had a bad case of exam
nerves because Harry couldn’t sleep, but the truth 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
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 fore-
heads, 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 visiting them in dreams, and they were so busy with
their revision they didn’t have much time to fret about what Snape
or anyone else might be up to.
192 Harry Potter
Their very last exam was History of Magic. One hour of answer-
ing questions about batty old wizards who’d invented self-stirring
cauldrons and they’d be free, free for a whole wonderful week until
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 joined the crowds flocking out into the sunny grounds. ‘I
needn’t have learnt about the 1637 Werewolf Code of Conduct or
the uprising of Elfric the Eager.’
Hermione always liked to go through their exam papers after-
wards, but Ron said this made him feel ill, so they wandered down
to the lake and flopped under a tree. The Weasley twins and Lee
Jordan were tickling the tentacles of a giant squid, which was bask-
ing in the warm shallows.
‘No more revision,’ Ron sighed happily, stretching 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 hurting – 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
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 off
once, he’s not going to try 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 forgotten to do, something important.
When he tried to explain this, Hermione said, ‘That’s just 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 unsettled feeling didn’t have anything
to do with work, though. He watched an owl flutter towards the
school across the bright blue sky, a note clamped in its mouth.
Hagrid was the only one who ever sent him letters. Hagrid would
never betray Dumbledore. Hagrid would never tell anyone how to
Through the Trapdoor 193
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 gone 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 stranger turns up who just 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 on about?’ said Ron, but Harry, sprinting across
the grounds towards the Forest, didn’t answer.
Hagrid was sitting in an armchair outside his house; his trousers
and sleeves were rolled up and he was shelling peas into a large
‘Hullo,’ he said, smiling. ‘Finished yer exams? Got time fer a
‘Yes, please,’ said Ron, but Harry cut across him.
‘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 one of the pubs 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 look 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 …’
194 Harry Potter
‘And did he – did he seem interested in Fluffy?’ Harry asked,
trying 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, jus’ 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
stranger 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 just 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 pointing them in
the right direction. 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, Potter, he has
many demands on his time –’
‘But this is important.’
‘Something you have to say is more important than the Ministry
of Magic, Potter?’
Through the Trapdoor 195
‘Look,’ said Harry, throwing caution to the winds, ‘Professor – it’s
about the Philosopher’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 try
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 finally. ‘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 –’
‘Potter, I know what I’m talking about,’ she said shortly. She bent
down and gathered up the fallen books. ‘I suggest you all go back
outside and enjoy 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 trapdoor 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,
‘We were –’ Harry began, without any idea what he was going to
‘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 afford to lose any more points, can they?’
Harry flushed. They turned to go back outside, but Snape called
‘Be warned, Potter – any more night-time wanderings and I will
personally make sure you are expelled. Good day to you.’
He strode off in the direction of the staff room.
Out on the stone steps, Harry turned to the others.
196 Harry Potter
‘Right, here’s what we’ve got to do,’ he whispered urgently. ‘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.’
‘It’s obvious,’ said Ron. ‘You can pretend to be waiting for
Professor Flitwick, you know.’ He put on a high voice, ‘Oh Pro-
fessor Flitwick, I’m so worried, I think I got question fourteen b
‘Oh, shut up,’ said Hermione, but she agreed to go and watch out
‘And we’d better stay outside the third-floor corridor,’ Harry told
Ron. ‘Come on.’
But that part of the plan didn’t work. No sooner had they
reached the door separating Fluffy from the rest of the school than
Professor McGonagall turned up again, and this time, she lost her
‘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 fifty points
from Gryffindor! Yes, Weasley, from my own house!’
Harry and Ron went back to the common room. Harry had just
said, ‘At least Hermione’s on Snape’s tail,’ when the portrait 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 waiting for Flitwick, and Snape
went to get him, and I’ve only just got away. I don’t know where
‘Well, that’s it then, isn’t it?’ Harry said.
The other two stared at him. He was pale and his eyes were
‘I’m going out of here tonight and I’m going to try and get to the
‘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 trying to take over? There won’t be
any Hogwarts to get expelled from! He’ll flatten it, or turn it into a
school for the Dark Arts! Losing points doesn’t matter any more,
Through the Trapdoor 197
can’t you see? D’you think he’ll leave you and your families alone if
Gryffindor win 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 done, because I’m never going over to the Dark Side! I’m
going through that trapdoor 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
‘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 better go and look 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 per cent 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 any-
thing to say to Harry any more, after all. This was the first 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 try and break. Harry and Ron didn’t talk much. Both of
them were thinking about what they were about to do.
Slowly, the room emptied as people drifted off to bed.
‘Better get the Cloak,’ Ron muttered, as Lee Jordan finally left,
stretching and yawning. Harry ran upstairs to their dark dormitory.
He pulled 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 better 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
‘What are you doing?’ said a voice from the corner of the room.
198 Harry Potter
Neville appeared from behind an armchair, clutching Trevor the
toad, who looked as though he’d been making another bid for
‘Nothing, Neville, nothing,’ said Harry, hurriedly putting 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
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.
Gryffindor will be in even more trouble.’
‘You don’t understand,’ said Harry, ‘this is important.’
But Neville was clearly steeling himself to do something desper-
‘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
‘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 exasperation. ‘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, try and hit me!’ said Neville, raising his fists. ‘I’m
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.
‘Petrificus Totalus!’ she cried, pointing 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, stiff as a board.
Hermione ran to turn him over. Neville’s jaws were jammed
Through the Trapdoor 199
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 motionless 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, just this once,’ Ron whispered in Harry’s ear,
but Harry shook his head. As they climbed carefully around her,
Mrs Norris turned her lamp-like eyes on them, but didn’t do
They didn’t meet anyone else until they reached the staircase up
to the third floor. Peeves was bobbing halfway up, loosening the
carpet so that people would trip.
‘Who’s there?’ he said suddenly as they climbed towards 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
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
time 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.
200 Harry Potter
‘Brilliant, Harry!’ whispered Ron.
A few seconds later, they were there, outside the third-floor
corridor – and the door was already ajar.
‘Well, there you are,’ Harry said quietly. ‘Snape’s already got past
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 sniffed madly in their direction, 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 flute 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 tottered on its
paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the ground, fast
‘Keep playing,’ Ron warned Harry as they slipped out of the
Cloak and crept towards the trapdoor. 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 gritted 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 still playing the flute, waved at Ron to get his
attention and pointed at himself.
‘You want to go first? Are you sure?’ said Ron. ‘I don’t know how
Through the Trapdoor 201
deep this thing goes. Give the flute to Hermione so she can keep
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 until he was hanging on by
his fingertips. 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 some-
thing soft. He sat up and felt around, his eyes not used to the
gloom. It felt as though he was sitting on some sort of plant.
‘It’s OK!’ 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 straight away. He landed sprawled next to Harry.
‘What’s this stuff?’ were his first words.
‘Dunno, 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
‘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 struggled towards a damp wall. She had to
struggle because the moment she had landed, the plant had started
to twist snake-like tendrils around her ankles. As for Harry and
Ron, their legs had already been bound tightly in long creepers
without their noticing.
Hermione had managed to free herself before the plant got a firm
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
202 Harry Potter
‘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 curling around
‘Shut up, I’m trying to remember how to kill it!’ said Hermione.
‘Well, hurry up, I can’t breathe!’ Harry gasped, wrestling 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
‘HAVE YOU GONE MAD?’ Ron bellowed. ‘ARE YOU A WITCH
‘Oh, right!’ said Hermione, and she whipped out her wand,
waved it, muttered something and sent a jet of the same bluebell
flames she had used on Snape at the plant. In a matter of seconds,
the two boys felt it loosening its grip as it cringed away from the
light and warmth. Wriggling and flailing, it unravelled itself from
their bodies and they were able to pull free.
‘Lucky you pay attention in Herbology, Hermione,’ said Harry as
he joined 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, pointing down a stone passageway which
was the only way on.
All they could hear apart from their footsteps was the gentle drip
of water trickling down the walls. The passageway sloped down-
wards and Harry was reminded of Gringotts. With an unpleasant
jolt 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 rustling and clinking seemed to be coming
from 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
brilliantly lit chamber, its ceiling arching high above them. It was
Through the Trapdoor 203
full of small, jewel-bright birds, fluttering and tumbling all around
the room. On the opposite side of the chamber was a heavy,
‘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 sup-
pose if they all swooped down at once … Well, there’s nothing for it
… 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
‘Now what?’ said Ron.
‘These birds … they can’t be here just for decoration,’ said
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! Broomsticks! 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
They seized a broomstick each and kicked off into the air, soar-
ing 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 spotting things other people didn’t.
After a minute’s weaving about through the whirl of rainbow feath-
ers, he noticed 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
Ron went speeding in the direction that Harry was pointing,
crashed into the ceiling and nearly fell off his broom.
204 Harry Potter
‘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 going down – and I’ll try and
catch it. Right, NOW!’
Ron dived, Hermione rocketed upwards, the key dodged them
both and Harry streaked after it; it sped towards the wall, Harry
leant 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 strug-
gling 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 battered 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 shiv-
ered 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
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 wants 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 –’
Through the Trapdoor 205
‘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 there 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 castle turned their backs on the
white pieces and walked off the board leaving three empty squares
which Harry, Ron and Hermione took.
‘White always plays first 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 silently wher-
ever he sent them. Harry’s knees were trembling. 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 still, face down.
‘Had to let that happen,’ said Ron, looking shaken. ‘Leaves you
free to take that bishop, Hermione, go on.’
Every time 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 just 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
The white queen turned her blank face towards 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’ll make my move and she’ll take me – that leaves you free to
checkmate the king, Harry!’
‘Do you want to stop Snape or not?’
‘Look, if you don’t hurry up, he’ll already have the Stone!’
There was nothing else for it.
‘Ready?’ Ron called, his face pale but determined. ‘Here I go –
now, don’t hang around once you’ve won.’
206 Harry Potter
He stepped forward and the white queen pounced. She struck
Ron hard around the head with her stone arm and he crashed to
the floor – Hermione screamed but stayed on her square – the
white queen dragged Ron to one side. He looked as if he’d been
Shaking, Harry moved three spaces to the left.
The white king took off 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 transfigured the chessmen
to make them alive – that leaves Quirrell’s spell, and Snape’s …’
They had reached another door.
‘All right?’ Harry whispered.
Harry pushed it open.
A disgusting smell filled their nostrils, making both of them pull
their robes up over their noses. Eyes watering, they saw, flat on the
floor in front of them, a troll 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
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, just 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 onwards. They were trapped.
‘Look!’ Hermione seized a roll of paper lying next to the bottles.
Harry looked over her shoulder to read it:
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Through the Trapdoor 207
Two of us will help you, whichever 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 hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here for evermore,
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 onwards, 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 for ever.’
‘But so will we, won’t we?’
‘Of course not,’ said Hermione. ‘Everything we need is here on
this paper. Seven bottles: 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 times. Then she walked up and
down the line of bottles, muttering to herself and pointing at them.
At last, she clapped her hands.
‘Got it,’ she said. ‘The smallest bottle will get us through the
black fire – towards the Stone.’
Harry looked at the tiny bottle.
‘There’s only enough there for one of us,’ he said. ‘That’s hardly
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 –
208 Harry Potter
grab brooms from the flying-key room, they’ll get you out of the
trapdoor and past Fluffy – go straight 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, pointing at his
scar. ‘I might get lucky again.’
Hermione’s lip trembled and she suddenly dashed at Harry and
threw her arms around him.
‘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
‘You drink first,’ said Harry. ‘You are sure which is which, aren’t
‘Positive,’ said Hermione. She took a long drink from the round
bottle 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 –’
Hermione turned and walked straight through the purple fire.
Harry took a deep breath and picked up the smallest bottle. He
turned to face the black flames.
‘Here I come,’ he said and he drained the little bottle in one gulp.
It was indeed as though ice was flooding his body. He put the
bottle 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
— 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
‘But I thought – Snape –’
‘Severus?’ Quirrell laughed and it wasn’t his usual quivering
treble, 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 tried to kill you. Your friend Miss Granger acci-
dentally 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 man-
aged it before then if Snape hadn’t been muttering a counter-
curse, trying 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 trying to stop Gryffindor winning, he did
make himself unpopular … and what a waste of time, when after
all that, I’m going to kill you tonight.’
Quirrell snapped his fingers. Ropes sprang out of thin air and
wrapped themselves tightly around Harry.
‘You’re too nosy to live, Potter. Scurrying around the school at
210 Harry Potter
Hallowe’en 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 gift with trolls – 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 straight to the third floor to
head me off – and not only did my troll fail to beat you to death,
that three-headed dog didn’t even manage to bite Snape’s leg off
‘Now, wait quietly, Potter. I need to examine this interesting
It was only then that Harry realised what was standing behind
Quirrell. It was the Mirror of Erised.
‘This mirror is the key to finding the Stone,’ Quirrell mur-
mured, tapping his way around the frame. ‘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 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 time, trying 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 hun-
grily into it.
‘I see the Stone … I’m presenting it to my master … but where is
Harry struggled against the ropes binding him, but they didn’t
give. He had to keep Quirrell from giving his whole attention to
‘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.
‘Sometimes,’ he said, ‘I find it hard to follow my master’s
The Man with Two Faces 211
instructions – he is a great wizard and I am weak –’
‘You mean he was there in the classroom with you?’ Harry
‘He is with me wherever I go,’ said Quirrell quietly. ‘I met him
when I travelled 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 times.
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 Gringotts, he was most displeased. He punished me … decided
he would have to keep a closer watch on me …’
Quirrell’s voice tailed away. Harry was remembering his trip 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
Quirrell cursed under his breath.
‘I don’t understand … is the Stone inside the Mirror? Should I
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 myself finding it – which
means I’ll see where it’s hidden! But how can I look without
Quirrell realising what I’m up to?
He tried to edge to the left, to get in front of the glass without
Quirrell noticing, but the ropes around his ankles were too tight:
he tripped and fell over. Quirrell ignored him. He was still talking
‘What does this mirror do? How does it work? Help me,
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
212 Harry Potter
what you see.’
Harry walked towards 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 front of the Mirror and opened them again.
He saw his reflection, pale and scared-looking at first. But a
moment later, the reflection 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
‘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
Philosopher’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 …’
‘Potter, come back here!’ Quirrell shouted. ‘Tell me the truth!
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 rooting him to the spot. He
couldn’t move a muscle. Petrified, he watched as Quirrell reached
up and began to unwrap his turban. What was going on? The tur-
ban fell away. Quirrell’s head looked strangely 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 Potter …’ it whispered.
Harry tried to take a step backwards but his legs wouldn’t move.
The Man with Two Faces 213
‘See what I have become?’ the face said. ‘Mere shadow and
vapour … 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 strengthened 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
So he knew. The feeling suddenly surged back into Harry’s legs.
He stumbled backwards.
‘Don’t be a fool,’ snarled the face. ‘Better 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 backwards at him, so that Voldemort
could still 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 fight … but your mother needn’t have died … she
was trying to protect you … Now give me the Stone, unless you
want her to have died in vain.’
Harry sprang towards the flame door, but Voldemort screamed,
‘SEIZE HIM!’ and, 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,
struggling 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, look-
ing 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 blind-
ing 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 burnt, raw, red and shiny.
‘Then kill him, fool, and be done!’ screeched Voldemort.
Quirrell raised his hand to perform a deadly curse, but Harry,
214 Harry Potter
by instinct, reached up and grabbed Quirrell’s face –
Quirrell rolled off him, his face blistering too, and then Harry
knew: Quirrell couldn’t touch his bare skin, not without suffering
terrible pain – his only chance was to keep hold of Quirrell, keep
him in enough pain to stop him doing a curse.
Harry jumped to his feet, caught Quirrell by the arm and hung
on as tight as he could. Quirrell screamed and tried 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 glinting just above him. The Snitch! He tried
to catch it, but his arms were too heavy.
He blinked. It wasn’t the Snitch at all. It was a pair of glasses.
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 little behind the times,’ said
Dumbledore. ‘Quirrell does not have the Stone.’
‘Then who does? Sir, I –’
‘Harry, please relax, or Madam Pomfrey will have me thrown
Harry swallowed and looked around him. He realised 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 sweet-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 trying to send you a lavatory seat.
No doubt they thought it would amuse you. Madam Pomfrey,
however, felt it might not be very hygienic, and confiscated it.’
The Man with Two Faces 215
‘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 distracted. Very well, the Stone.
Professor Quirrell did not manage to take it from you. I arrived in
time 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 mid-air. No sooner had I reached
London than it became clear to me that the place I should be was
the one I had just left. I arrived just in time to pull Quirrell off
‘It was you.’
‘I feared I might be too late.’
‘You nearly were, I couldn’t have kept him off the Stone much
‘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
‘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 little 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-organised 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
trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those
things which are worst for them.’
Harry lay there, lost for words. Dumbledore hummed a little
and smiled at the ceiling.
‘Sir?’ said Harry. ‘I’ve been thinking … Sir – even if the Stone’s
216 Harry Potter
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 try other ways of coming
back, isn’t he? I mean, he hasn’t gone, has he?’
‘No, Harry, he has not. He is still out there somewhere, perhaps
looking for another body to share … not being truly alive, he can-
not be killed. He left Quirrell to die; he shows just as little 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 battle
next time – 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
‘The truth.’ Dumbledore sighed. ‘It is a beautiful 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
‘Well … Voldemort said that he only killed my mother because
she tried to stop him 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 realise that love as power-
ful 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 protection for ever. It is in
your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed and ambition, sharing
his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It
was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.’
The Man with Two Faces 217
Dumbledore now became very interested in a bird out on the
window-sill, 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 …’
‘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
‘He saved his life.’
‘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 quits.
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
‘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 just see them-
selves making gold or drinking Elixir of Life. My brain surprises
even me sometimes … Now, enough questions. I suggest you make
a start on these sweets. Ah! Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans! I
was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit-
flavoured 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?’
218 Harry Potter
He smiled and popped the golden-brown bean into his mouth.
Then he choked and said, ‘Alas! Earwax!’
Madam Pomfrey, the matron, was a nice woman, but very strict.
‘Just five minutes,’ Harry pleaded.
‘You let Professor Dumbledore in …’
‘Well, of course, that was the Headmaster, quite different. You
‘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.
Hermione looked ready to fling her arms around him again, but
Harry was glad she held herself in as his head was still 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
It was one of those rare occasions when the true story is even
more strange and exciting than the wild rumours. 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
‘That’s what I said, but Dumbledore thinks that – what was
it? – “to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great
‘I always said he was off his rocker,’ said Ron, looking quite
impressed at how mad 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 Entrance Hall. He
already knew – he just said, “Harry’s gone after him, hasn’t he?”
and hurtled off to the third floor.’
‘D’you think he meant you to do it?’ said Ron. ‘Sending you
The Man with Two Faces 219
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 pretty good idea we were going to try,
and instead of stopping us, he just 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 barking, 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
straightened his many sweet-boxes. ‘I can, can’t I?’
‘Professor Dumbledore says you are to be allowed to go,’ she
said sniffily, as though in her opinion Professor Dumbledore didn’t
realise 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 Fluffy! 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,
220 Harry Potter
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 off 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 off 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,
insisting on giving him one last check-up, so the Great Hall was
already full. It was decked out in the Slytherin colours 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 Gryffindor table and tried to
ignore the fact that people were standing up to look at him.
Fortunately, Dumbledore arrived moments later. The babble
‘Another year gone!’ Dumbledore said cheerfully. ‘And I must
trouble you with an old man’s wheezing waffle 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
‘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 hun-
dred and fifty-two; Ravenclaw have four hundred and twenty-six
and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy-two.’
The Man with Two Faces 221
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 still. 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 bad
‘… 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 strongly 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 Potter …’ 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
drawn 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 just
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 from the Gryffindor table. Harry, Ron and
Hermione stood up to yell and cheer as Neville, white with shock,
222 Harry Potter
disappeared under a pile of people hugging him. He had never
won so much as a point for Gryffindor before. Harry, still cheer-
ing, nudged Ron in the ribs and pointed at Malfoy, who couldn’t
have looked more stunned and horrified if he’d just had the
Body-Bind curse put on him.
‘Which means,’ Dumbledore called over the storm of applause,
for even Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff 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 van-
ished 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 towards 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, better than winning at
Quidditch or Christmas or knocking out mountain trolls … he
would never, ever forget tonight.
Harry had almost forgotten that the exam results were still to
come, but come they did. To their great surprise, both he and Ron
passed with good marks; Hermione, of course, came top of the
year. Even Neville scraped through, his good Herbology mark
making up for his abysmal Potions 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 trunks 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 country-
side became greener and tidier; eating Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour
Beans as they sped past Muggle towns; pulling off their wizard
robes and putting on jackets and coats; pulling into platform nine
and three-quarters at King’s Cross Station.
It took quite a while for them all to get off the platform. A
The Man with Two Faces 223
wizened old guard was up by the ticket barrier, letting them go
through the gate in twos and threes so they didn’t attract attention
by all bursting 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 jostled them as they moved forwards towards the gate-
way back to the Muggle world. Some of them called:
‘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, Mum, there he is, look!’
It was Ginny Weasley, Ron’s younger sister, but she wasn’t
pointing at Ron.
‘Harry Potter!’ she squealed. ‘Look, Mum! I can see –’
‘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 jumper, Mrs
‘Oh, it was nothing, dear.’
‘Ready, are you?’
It was Uncle Vernon, still purple-faced, still moustached, still
looking furious at the nerve of Harry, carrying an owl in a cage in
a station 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
‘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
J. K. (JOANNE KATHLEEN) ROWLING
has written fiction since she was a child.
Born in 1965, she grew up in Chepstow
and wrote her first ‘book’ at the age of six
- a story about a rabbit called Rabbit.
She studied French and Classics at Exeter
University, then moved to London to
work at Amnesty International, and then
to Portugal to teach English as a foreign
language, before settling in Edinburgh.
The idea for Harry Potter occurred to her
on the train from Manchester to London,
where she says Harry Potter ‘just strolled
into my head fully formed’, and by the
time she had arrived at King’s Cross,
many of the characters had taken shape.
During the next five years she outlined
the plots for each book and began writing
the first in the series, Harry Potter and
the Philosopher’s Stone, which was first
published by Bloomsbury in 1997. The
other Harry Potter titles: Harry Potter and
the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the
Goblet of Fire, and Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix, followed.
J. K. Rowling has also written three other
companion books, Quidditch Through the
Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where to
Find Them and The Tales of Beedle the
Bard, in aid of Comic Relief.
Jacket Design: William Webb
Jacket Image: Michael Wildsmith
Author Photograph: © Bill de la HEY
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