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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling Powered By Docstoc
					           Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
                     by J.K. Rowling




   Chapter One
   The Boy Who Lived


    Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of num ber four, Privet Drive, were proud t o say t hat t hey
were perfect ly norm al, t hank you very m uch. They were t he last people you'd expect
t o be involved in anyt hing st range or m yst erious, because t hey j ust didn't hold wit h
such nonsense.
   Mr. Dursley w as t he direct or of a firm called Grunnings, which m ade drills. He was
a big, beefy m an wit h hardly any neck, alt hough he did have a very large m ust ache.
Mrs. Dursley w as t hin and blonde and had nearly t wice t he usual am ount of neck,
which cam e in very useful as she spent so m uch of her t im e craning over garden
fences, spying on t he neighbors. The Dursleys had a sm all son called Dudley and in
their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.
    The Dursleys had everyt hing t hey want ed, but t hey also had a secret , and t heir
great est fear was t hat som ebody would discover it . They didn't t hink t hey could bear
it if anyone found out about t he Pot t ers. Mrs. Pot t er was Mrs. Dursley's sist er, but
t hey hadn't m et for several years; in fact , Mrs. Dursley pret ended she didn't have a
sist er, because her sist er and her good- for- not hing husband were as unDursleyish as
it w as possible t o be. The Dursleys shuddered t o t hink what t he neighbors w ould say
if t he Pot t ers arrived in t he st reet . The Dursleys knew t hat t he Pot t ers had a sm all
son, t oo, but t hey had never even seen him . This boy was anot her good reason for
keeping the Potters away; they didn't want Dudley mixing with a child like that.
    When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley w oke up on t he dull, gray Tuesday our st ory st art s,
t here was not hing about t he cloudy sky out side t o suggest t hat st range and
m yst erious t hings would soon be happening all over t he count ry. Mr. Dursley
hum m ed as he picked out his m ost boring t ie for work, and Mrs. Dursley gossiped
away happily as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair.
   None of them noticed a large, tawny owl flutter past the window.
  At half past eight , Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on t he
cheek, and t ried t o kiss Dudley good- bye but m issed, because Dudley w as now
having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls.
  " Lit t le t yke," chort led Mr. Dursley as he left t he house. He got int o his car and
backed out of number four's drive.
   I t w as on t he corner of t he st reet t hat he not iced t he first sign of som et hing
peculiar -- a cat reading a m ap. For a second, Mr. Dursley didn't realize what he had
seen -- then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing
on t he corner of Privet Drive, but t here w asn't a m ap in sight . What could he have
been t hinking of? I t m ust have been a t rick of t he light . Mr. Dursley blinked and
st ared at t he cat . I t st ared back. As Mr. Dursley drove around t he corner and up t he
road, he wat ched t he cat in his m irror. I t w as now reading t he sign t hat said Privet
Drive -- no, looking at t he sign; cat s couldn't read m aps or signs. Mr. Dursley gave
him self a lit t le shake and put t he cat out of his m ind. As he drove t oward t own he
thought of nothing except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day.
    But on t he edge of t own, drills w ere driven out of his m ind by som et hing else. As
he sat in t he usual m orning t raffic j am , he couldn't help not icing t hat t here seem ed
t o be a lot of st rangely dressed people about . People in cloaks. Mr. Dursley couldn't
bear people who dressed in funny clothes -- the getups you saw on young people! He
supposed t his was som e st upid new fashion. He drum m ed his fingers on t he st eering
wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of t hese weirdos st anding quit e close by. They
were whispering excit edly t oget her. Mr. Dursley was enraged t o see t hat a couple of
t hem weren't young at all; why, t hat m an had t o be older t han he was, and wearing
an em erald- green cloak! The nerve of him ! But t hen it st ruck Mr. Dursley t hat t his
was probably som e silly st unt -- t hese people were obviously collect ing for
something ... yes, that would be it. The traffic moved on and a few minutes later, Mr.
Dursley arrived in the Grunnings parking lot, his mind back on drills.
    Mr. Dursley alw ays sat w it h his back t o t he window in his office on t he nint h floor.
I f he hadn't , he m ight have found it harder t o concent rat e on drills t hat m orning. He
didn't see t he owls swooping past in broad daylight , t hough people down in t he
st reet did; t hey point ed and gazed open- m out hed as owl aft er owl sped overhead.
Most of t hem had never seen an owl even at night t im e. Mr. Dursley, however, had a
perfect ly norm al, owl- free m orning. He yelled at five different people. He m ade
several im port ant t elephone calls and shout ed a bit m ore. He was in a very good
m ood unt il luncht im e, w hen he t hought he'd st ret ch his legs and walk across t he
road to buy himself a bun from the bakery.
    He'd forgot t en all about t he people in cloaks unt il he passed a group of t hem next
t o t he baker's. He eyed t hem angrily as he passed. He didn't know why, but t hey
m ade him uneasy. This bunch were whispering excit edly, t oo, and he couldn't see a
single collect ing t in. I t was on his w ay back past t hem , clut ching a large doughnut in
a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying.
   "The Potters, that's right, that's what I heard -- "
   " -- yes, their son, Harry -- "
    Mr. Dursley st opped dead. Fear flooded him . He looked back at t he whisperers as
if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it.
   He dashed back across t he road, hurried up t o his office, snapped at his secret ary
not t o dist urb him , seized his t elephone, and had alm ost finished dialing his hom e
num ber w hen he changed his m ind. He put t he receiver back down and st roked his
m ust ache, t hinking ... no, he was being st upid. Pot t er wasn't such an unusual nam e.
He w as sure t here were lot s of people called Pot t er who had a son called Harry.
Com e t o t hink of it , he wasn't even sure his nephew was called Harry. He'd never
even seen t he boy. I t m ight have been Harvey. Or Harold. There was no point in
worrying Mrs. Dursley; she alw ays got so upset at any m ent ion of her sist er. He
didn't blam e her -- if he'd had a sist er like t hat ... but all t he sam e, t hose people in
cloaks ...
    He found it a lot harder t o concent rat e on drills t hat aft ernoon and when he left
t he building at five o'clock, he was st ill so worried t hat he w alked st raight int o
someone just outside the door.
    " Sorry," he grunt ed, as t he t iny old m an st um bled and alm ost fell. I t w as a few
seconds before Mr. Dursley realized t hat t he m an was wearing a violet cloak. He
didn't seem at all upset at being alm ost knocked t o t he ground. On t he cont rary, his
face split int o a w ide sm ile and he said in a squeaky voice t hat m ade passersby
st are, " Don't be sorry, m y dear sir, for not hing could upset m e t oday! Rej oice, for
You- Know- Who has gone at last ! Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrat ing,
this happy, happy day!"
   And the old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle and walked off.
    Mr. Dursley st ood root ed t o      t he spot . He had been hugged by a com plet e
st ranger. He also t hought he had      been called a Muggle, w hat ever t hat was. He was
rat t led. He hurried t o his car and   set off for hom e, hoping he w as im agining t hings,
which he had never hoped before,        because he didn't approve of imagination.
     As he pulled int o t he driveway of num ber four, t he first t hing he saw -- and it
didn't im prove his m ood -- was t he t abby cat he'd spot t ed t hat m orning. I t w as now
sit t ing on his garden wall. He w as sure it was t he sam e one; it had t he sam e
markings around its eyes.
   "Shoo!" said Mr. Dursley loudly.
   The cat didn't m ove. I t j ust gave him a st ern look. Was t his norm al cat behavior?
Mr. Dursley wondered. Trying t o pull him self t oget her, he let him self int o t he house.
He was still determined not to mention anything to his wife.
     Mrs. Dursley had had a nice, norm al day. She t old him over dinner all about Mrs.
Next Door's problem s wit h her daught er and how Dudley had learned a new word
( " Won't ! " ) . Mr. Dursley t ried t o act norm ally. When Dudley had been put t o bed, he
went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news:
    " And finally, bird- w at chers everywhere have report ed t hat t he nat ion's owls have
been behaving very unusually t oday. Alt hough owls norm ally hunt at night and are
hardly ever seen in daylight , t here have been hundreds of sight ings of t hese birds
flying in every direct ion since sunrise. Expert s are unable t o explain why t he owls
have suddenly changed t heir sleeping pat t ern." The newscast er allowed him self a
grin. "Most m yst erious. And now, over t o Jim McGuffin wit h t he weat her. Going t o be
any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?"
   " Well, Ted," said t he weat herm an, " I don't know about t hat , but it 's not only t he
ow ls t hat have been act ing oddly t oday. Viewers as far apart as Kent , Yorkshire, and
Dundee have been phoning in t o t ell m e t hat inst ead of t he rain I prom ised
yest erday, t hey've had a dow npour of shoot ing st ars! Perhaps people have been
celebrat ing Bonfire Night early -- it 's not unt il next week, folks! But I can prom ise a
wet night tonight."
   Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his arm chair. Shoot ing st ars all over Brit ain? Owls flying
by daylight ? Myst erious people in cloaks all over t he place? And a whisper, a whisper
about the Potters ...
  Mrs. Dursley cam e int o t he living room carrying t wo cups of t ea. I t was no good.
He'd have t o say som et hing t o her. He cleared his t hroat nervously. " Er -- Pet unia,
dear -- you haven't heard from your sister lately, have you?"
   As he had expect ed, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry. Aft er all, t hey
normally pretended she didn't have a sister.
   "No," she said sharply. "Why?"
   " Funny st uff on t he news," Mr. Dursley m um bled. " Owls ... shoot ing st ars ... and
there were a lot of funny- looking people in town today ... "
   " So?" snapped Mrs. Dursley.
   " Well, I j ust t hought ... m aybe ... it was som et hing t o do wit h ... you know ... her
crowd."
   Mrs. Dursley sipped her t ea t hrough pursed lips. Mr. Dursley wondered whet her
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 quite agree."
   He didn't say anot her w ord on t he subj ect as t hey went upst airs t o bed. While
Mrs. Dursley was in t he bat hroom , Mr. Dursley crept t o t he bedroom w indow and
peered down into the front garden. The cat was still there. It was staring down Privet
Drive as though it were waiting for something.
   Was he im agining t hings? Could all t his have anyt hing t o do wit h t he Pot t ers? I f it
did ... if it got out t hat t hey were relat ed t o a pair of - - well, he didn't t hink he could
bear it.
    The Dursleys got int o bed. Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly but Mr. Dursley lay
aw ake, t urning it all over in his m ind. His last , com fort ing t hought before he fell
asleep w as t hat even if t he Pot t ers were involved, t here w as no reason for t hem t o
com e near him and Mrs. Dursley. The Pot t ers knew very w ell what he and Pet unia
t hought about t hem and t heir kind ... He couldn't see how he and Pet unia could get
m ixed up in anyt hing t hat m ight be going on -- he yawned and t urned over -- it
couldn't affect them ...
   How very wrong he was.
   Mr. Dursley m ight have been drift ing int o an uneasy sleep, but t he cat on t he wall
out side was showing no sign of sleepiness. I t was sit t ing as st ill as a st at ue, it s eyes
fixed unblinkingly on t he far corner of Privet Drive. I t didn't so m uch as quiver when
a car door slam m ed on t he next st reet , nor when t wo owls swooped overhead. I n
fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all.
   A m an appeared on t he corner t he cat had been wat ching, appeared so suddenly
and silent ly you'd have t hought he'd j ust popped out of t he ground. The cat 's t ail
twitched and its eyes narrowed.
    Not hing like t his m an had ever been seen on Privet Drive. He was t all, t hin, and
very old, j udging by t he silver of his hair and beard, which were bot h long enough t o
t uck int o his belt . He w as wearing long robes, a purple cloak t hat sw ept t he ground,
and high- heeled, buckled boot s. His blue eyes were light , bright , and sparkling
behind half- m oon spect acles and his nose was very long and crooked, as t hough it
had been broken at least twice. This man's name was Albus Dumbledore.
    Albus Dumbledore didn't seem to realize that he had just arrived in a street where
everyt hing from his nam e t o his boot s w as unwelcom e. He was busy rum m aging in
his cloak, looking for som et hing. But he did seem t o realize he was being wat ched,
because he looked up suddenly at t he cat , which was st ill st aring at him from t he
ot her end of t he st reet . For som e reason, t he sight of t he cat seem ed t o am use him .
He chuckled and muttered, "I should have known."
    He found what he was looking for in his inside pocket . I t seem ed t o be a silver
cigaret t e light er. He flicked it open, held it up in t he air, and clicked it . The nearest
st reet lam p went out wit h a lit t le pop. He clicked it again -- t he next lam p flickered
int o darkness. Twelve t im es he clicked t he Put - Out er, unt il t he only light s left on t he
whole st reet were t wo t iny pinpricks in t he dist ance, which were t he eyes of t he cat
wat ching him . I f anyone looked out of t heir window now, even beady- eyed Mrs.
Dursley, t hey wouldn't be able t o see anyt hing t hat was happening down on t he
pavem ent . Dum bledore slipped t he Put - Out er back inside his cloak and set off down
t he st reet t ow ard num ber four, where he sat down on t he wall next t o t he cat . He
didn't look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.
   "Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall."
    He t urned t o sm ile at t he t abby, but it had gone. I nst ead he was sm iling at a
rat her severe- looking wom an who was wearing square glasses exact ly t he shape of
t he m arkings t he cat had had around it s eyes. She, t oo, was wearing a cloak, an
emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.
   "How did you know it was me?" she asked.
   "My dear Professor, I've never seen a cat sit so stiffly."
  " You'd be st iff if you'd been sit t ing on a brick wall all day," said Professor
McGonagall.
   " All day? When you could have been celebrat ing? I m ust have passed a dozen
feasts and parties on my way here."
   Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.
    " Oh yes, I 've celebrat ing, all right ," she said im pat ient ly. "You'd t hink t hey'd be a
bit m ore careful, but no -- even t he Muggles have not iced som et hing's going on. I t
was on t heir new s." She j erked her head back at t he Dursleys' dark living- room
window. " I heard it . Flocks of owls ... shoot ing st ars ... Well, t hey're not com plet ely
st upid. They were bound t o not ice som et hing. Shoot ing st ars down in Kent -- I 'll bet
that was Dedalus Diggle. He never had much sense."
   "You can't blam e t hem ," said Dum bledore gent ly. " We've had precious lit t le t o
celebrate for eleven years."
   " I know t hat ," said Professor McGonagall irrit ably. " But t hat 's no reason t o lose
our heads. People are being downright careless, out on t he st reet s in broad daylight ,
not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumors."
  She t hrew a sharp, sidew ays glance at Dum bledore here, as t hough hoping he
was going t o t ell her som et hing, but he didn't , so she went on. " A fine t hing it would
be if, on t he very day You- Know- Who seem s t o have disappeared at last , t he
Muggles found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?"
  " I t cert ainly seem s so," said Dum bledore. " We have m uch t o be t hankful for.
Would you care for a lemon drop?"
   "A what?"
   "A lemon drop. They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of."
  " No, t hank you," said Professor McGonagall coldly, as t hough she didn't t hink t his
was the moment for lemon drops. "As I say, even if You- Know- Who has gone -- "
    " My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his
nam e? All t his 'You- Know- Who' nonsense -- for eleven years I have been t rying t o
persuade people t o call him by his proper nam e: Voldemort." Professor McGonagall
flinched, but Dum bledore, who was unst icking t wo lem on drops, seem ed not t o
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 exasperat ed, half
adm iring. " But you're different . Everyone knows you're t he only one You- Know- oh,
all right, Voldemort, was frightened of."
  " You flat t er m e," said Dum bledore calm ly. " Voldem ort had powers I w ill never
have."
   "Only because you're too -- well -- noble to use them."
   " I t 's lucky it 's dark. I haven't blushed so m uch since Madam Pom frey t old m e she
liked my new earmuffs."
   Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dum bledore and said " The owls are
not hing next t o t he rumors t hat are flying around. You know what t hey're saying?
About why he's disappeared? About what finally stopped him?"
    I t seem ed t hat Professor McGonagall had reached t he point she was m ost anxious
t o discuss, t he real reason she had been wait ing on a cold, hard wall all day, for
neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare
as she did now. It was plain that whatever "everyone" was saying, she was not going
t o believe it unt il Dum bledore t old her it w as t rue. Dum bledore, however, was
choosing another lemon drop and did not answer.
   " What t hey're saying," she pressed on, " is t hat last night Voldem ort t urned up in
Godric's Hollow . He went t o find t he Pot t ers. The rum or is t hat Lily and Jam es Pot t er
are -- are -- that they're -- dead."
   Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.
   "Lily and James ... I can't believe it ... I didn't want to believe it ... Oh, Albus ... "
  Dum bledore reached out and pat t ed her on t he shoulder. "I know ... I know ... "
he said heavily.
      Professor McGonagall's voice t rem bled as she went on. " That 's not all. They're
saying he t ried t o kill t he Pot t er's son, Harry. But he couldn't . He couldn't kill t hat
lit t le boy. No one knows w hy, or how, but t hey're saying t hat 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?" falt ered Professor McGonagall. " Aft er all he's done ... all t he
people he's killed ... he couldn't kill a lit t le boy? I t 's j ust ast ounding ... of all t he
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
beneat h her spect acles. Dum bledore gave a great sniff as he t ook a golden wat ch
from his pocket and exam ined it . I t was a very odd wat ch. I t had t welve hands but
no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge. It must have made
sense t o Dum bledore, t hough, 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 t o t ell m e
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 m ean - you can't m ean t he people who live here?" cried Professor
McGonagall, j um ping t o her feet and point ing at num ber four. "Dum bledore -- you
can't. I've been watching them all day. You couldn't find two people who are less like
us. And t hey've got t his son -- I saw him kicking his m ot her all t he way up t he
street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!"
  " I t 's t he best place for him ," said Dum bledore firm ly. " His aunt and uncle w ill be
able to explain everything to him when he's older. I've written them a letter."
   " A let t er?" repeat ed Professor McGonagall faint ly, sit t ing back dow n on t he wall.
" Really, Dum bledore, you t hink you can explain all t his in a let t er? These people will
never underst and him ! He'll be fam ous -- a legend -- I wouldn't be surprised if t oday
was known as Harry Pot t er day in t he fut ure -- t here will be books writ t en about
Harry -- every child in our world will know his name!"
    " Exact ly." said Dum bledore, looking very seriously over t he t op of his half- moon
glasses. "It would be enough to turn any boy's head. Famous before he can walk and
t alk! Fam ous for som et hing he won't even rem em ber! Can you see how m uch bet t er
off he'll be, growing up away from all that until he's ready to take it?"
   Professor McGonagall opened her m out h, changed her m ind, swallowed, and t hen
said, " Yes -- yes, you're right , of course. But how is t he boy get t ing here,
Dum bledore?" She eyed his cloak suddenly as t hough she t hought he m ight be
hiding Harry underneath it.
   "Hagrid's bringing him."
   "You think it -- wise -- to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?"
   "I would trust Hagrid with my life," said Dumbledore.
   " I 'm not saying his heart isn't in t he right place," said Professor McGonagall
grudgingly, " but you can't pret end he's not careless. He does t end t o -- what was
that?"
   A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder
as t hey looked up and down t he st reet for som e sign of a headlight ; it swelled t o a
roar as t hey bot h looked up at t he sky -- and a huge m ot orcycle fell out of t he air
and landed on the road in front of them.
    I f t he m ot orcycle was huge, it was not hing t o t he m an sit t ing ast ride it . He was
alm ost t w ice as t all as a norm al m an and at least five t im es as wide. He looked
sim ply t oo big t o be allowed, and so wild -- long t angles of bushy black hair and
beard hid m ost of his face, he had hands t he size of t rash can lids, and his feet in
t heir leat her boot s were like baby dolphins. I n his vast , m uscular arm s he was
holding a bundle of blankets.
   " Hagrid," said Dum bledore, sounding relieved. " At last . And where did you get
that motorcycle?"
  " Borrowed it , Professor Dum bledore, sir," said t he giant , clim bing carefully off t he
motorcycle as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got him, sir."
   "No problems, were there?"
  " No, sir -- house was alm ost dest royed, but I got him out all right before t he
Muggles started swarmin' around. He fell asleep as we was flyin' over Bristol."
    Dum bledore and Professor McGonagall bent forw ard over t he bundle of blanket s.
I nside, j ust visible, w as a baby boy, fast asleep. Under a t uft of j et - black hair over
his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.
   "Is that where -- ?" whispered Professor McGonagall.
   "Yes," said Dumbledore. "He'll have that scar forever."
   "Couldn't you do something about it, Dumbledore?"
    "Even if I could, I wouldn't. Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my
left knee t hat is a perfect m ap of t he London Underground. Well -- give him here,
Hagrid -- we'd better get this over with."
   Dumbledore took Harry in his arms and turned toward the Dursleys' house.
  " Could I -- could I say good- bye t o him , sir?" asked Hagrid. He bent his great ,
shaggy head over Harry and gave him what m ust have been a very scrat chy,
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, t aking out a large, spot t ed handkerchief and burying
his face in it. "But I c- c- can't stand it -- Lily an' James dead -- an' poor little Harry off
ter live with Muggles -- "
    " Yes, yes, it 's all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we'll be found,"
Professor McGonagall whispered, pat t ing Hagrid gingerly on t he arm as Dum bledore
st epped over t he low garden wall and walked t o t he front door. He laid Harry gently
on t he doorst ep, t ook a let t er out of his cloak, t ucked it inside Harry's blanket s, and
t hen cam e back t o t he ot her t wo. For a full m inut e t he t hree of t hem st ood and
looked at t he lit t le bundle; Hagrid's shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked
furiously, and t he t winkling light t hat usually shone from Dum bledore's eyes seem ed
to have gone out.
  " Well," said Dum bledore finally, " t hat 's t hat . We've no business st aying here. We
may as well go and join the celebrations."
   " Yeah," said Hagrid in a very m uffled voice, " I 'll be t akin' Sirius his bike back.
G'night, Professor McGonagall -- Professor Dumbledore, sir."
   Wiping his st ream ing eyes on his j acket sleeve, Hagrid swung him self ont o t he
m ot orcycle and kicked t he engine int o life; w it h a roar it rose int o t he air and off int o
the night.
   " I shall see you soon, I expect , Professor McGonagall," said Dum bledore, nodding
to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply.
   Dum bledore t urned and walked back down t he st reet . On t he corner he st opped
and t ook out t he silver Put - Out er. He clicked it once, and t welve balls of light sped
back t o t heir st reet lam ps so t hat Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could
m ake out a t abby cat slinking around t he corner at t he ot her end of t he st reet . He
could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four.
   " Good luck, Harry," he m urm ured. He t urned on his heel and w it h a swish of his
cloak, he was gone.
    A breeze ruffled t he neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and t idy under
t he inky sky, t he very last place you w ould expect ast onishing t hings t o 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 fam ous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours' t im e by Mrs. Dursley's
scream as she opened t he front door t o put out t he m ilk bot t les, nor t hat he would
spend t he next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley ... He
couldn't know t hat at t his very m om ent , people m eet ing in secret all over t he
count ry were holding up t heir glasses and saying in hushed voices: " To Harry Pot t er
-- the boy who lived!"




   Chapter Two
   The Vanishing Glass


   Nearly   t en years had passed since t he Dursleys had w oken up t o find t heir
nephew on t he front st ep, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at all. The sun rose
on t he sam e t idy front gardens and lit up t he brass num ber four on t he Dursleys'
front door; it crept int o t heir living room , which was alm ost exact ly t he sam e as it
had been on t he night when Mr. Dursley had seen t hat fat eful new s report about t he
ow ls. Only t he phot ographs on t he m ant elpiece really showed how m uch t im e had
passed. Ten years ago, t here had been lot s of pict ures of what looked like a large
pink beach ball wearing different - colored bonnet s -- but Dudley Dursley was no
longer a baby, and now t he phot ographs showed a large blond boy riding his first
bicycle, on a carousel at t he fair, playing a com put er gam e wit h his fat her, being
hugged and kissed by his mother. The room held no sign at all that another boy lived
in the house, too.
  Yet Harry Pot t er was st ill t here, asleep at t he m om ent , but not for long. His Aunt
Petunia was awake and it was her shrill voice that made the first noise of the day.
   "Up! Get up! Now!"
   Harry woke with a start. His aunt rapped on the door again.
    " Up! " she screeched. Harry heard her walking t oward t he kit chen and t hen t he
sound of t he frying pan being put on t he st ove. He rolled ont o his back and t ried t o
remember the dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a
flying motorcycle in it. He had a funny feeling he'd had the same dream before.
   His aunt was back outside the door.
   "Are you up yet?" she demanded.
   "Nearly," said Harry.
  "Well, get a move on, I want you t o look aft er t he bacon. And don't you dare let it
burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday."
   Harry groaned.
   "What did you say?" his aunt snapped through the door.
   "Nothing, nothing ... "
   Dudley's birthday -- how could he have 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 t hem , put t hem on. Harry was used t o spiders, because t he cupboard under
the stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.
   When he was dressed he went dow n t he hall int o t he kit chen. The t able was
alm ost hidden beneat h all Dudley's birt hday present s. I t looked as t hough Dudley
had got t en t he new com put er he want ed, not t o m ent ion t he second t elevision and
the racing bike. Exact ly why Dudley w ant ed a racing bike w as a m yst ery t o Harry, as
Dudley was very fat and hat ed exercise -- unless of course it involved punching
som ebody. Dudley's favorit e punching bag was Harry, but he couldn't oft en cat ch
him. Harry didn't look it, but he was very fast.
    Perhaps it had som et hing t o do wit h living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had
always been sm all and skinny for his age. He looked even sm aller and skinnier t han
he really was because all he had t o wear were old clot hes of Dudley's, and Dudley
was about four t im es bigger t han he was. Harry had a t hin face, knobbly knees,
black hair, and bright green eyes. He wore round glasses held t oget her wit h a lot of
Scot ch t ape because of all t he t im es Dudley had punched him on t he nose. The only
thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that
was shaped like a bolt of light ning. He had had it as long as he could rem em ber, and
t he first quest ion he could ever rem em ber asking his Aunt Pet unia was how he had
gotten it.
  " I n t he car crash when your parent s died," she had said. " And don't ask
questions."
   Don't ask questions -- that was the first rule for a quiet life with the Dursleys.
   Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon.
   "Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.
   About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over t he t op of his newspaper and
shout ed t hat Harry needed a haircut . Harry m ust have had m ore haircut s t han t he
rest of t he boys in his class put t oget her, but it m ade no difference, his hair sim ply
grew that way -- all over the place.
  Harry was frying eggs by t he t im e Dudley arrived in t he kit chen wit h his m ot her.
Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large pink face, not m uch neck,
small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head.
Aunt Pet unia oft en said t hat Dudley looked like a baby angel -- Harry oft en said t hat
Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.
  Harry put t he plat es of egg and bacon on t he t able, which was difficult as t here
wasn't much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his presents. His face fell.
   "Thirty- six," he said, looking up at his m ot her and fat her. " That 's t wo less t han
last year."
  " Darling, you haven't count ed Aunt ie Marge's present , see, it 's here under t his big
one from Mummy and Daddy."
   " All right , t hirt y- seven t hen," said Dudley, going red in t he face. Harry, who could
see a huge Dudley t ant rum com ing on, began w olfing down his bacon as fast as
possible in case Dudley turned the table over.
   Aunt Pet unia obviously scent ed danger, t oo, because she said quickly, " And w e'll
buy you anot her two present s while we're out t oday. How 's t hat , popkin? Two m ore
presents. Is that all right"
     Dudley t hought for a m om ent . I t looked like hard work. Finally he said slow ly, " So
I'll have thirty ... thirty ... "
   "Thirty- nine, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia.
   "Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel. "All right then."
   Uncle Vernon chuckled.
   " Lit t le t yke want s his m oney's wort h, j ust like his fat her. 'At t a boy, Dudley! " He
ruffled Dudley's hair.
    At t hat m om ent t he t elephone rang and Aunt Pet unia went t o answer it while
Harry and Uncle Vernon wat ched Dudley unwrap t he racing bike, a video cam era, a
rem ot e cont rol airplane, sixt een new com put er gam es, and a VCR. He w as ripping
t he paper off a gold wrist w at ch when Aunt Pet unia cam e back from t he t elephone
looking both angry and worried.
  " Bad news, Vernon," she said. " Mrs. Figg's broken her leg. She can't t ake him ."
She jerked her head in Harry's direction.
   Dudley's m out h fell open in horror, but Harry's heart gave a leap. Every year on
Dudley's birt hday, his parent s t ook him and a friend out for t he day, t o advent ure
parks, ham burger rest aurant s, or t he m ovies. Every year, Harry was left behind wit h
Mrs. Figg, a m ad old lady who lived t wo st reet s away. Harry hat ed it t here. The
whole house sm elled of cabbage and Mrs. Figg m ade him look at phot ographs of all
the cats she'd ever owned.
    " Now what ?" said Aunt Pet unia, looking furiously at Harry as t hough he'd planned
t his. Harry knew he ought t o feel sorry t hat Mrs. Figg had broken her leg, but it
wasn't easy when he rem inded him self it w ould be a whole year before he had t o
look at Tibbles, Snowy, Mr. Paws, and Tufty again.
   " We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggest ed.
   "Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy."
   The Dursleys oft en spoke about Harry like t his, as t hough he wasn't t here -- or
rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn't understand them, like a
slug.
   "What about what's- her- name, your friend -- Yvonne?"
   "On vacation in Majorca," snapped Aunt Petunia.
  "You could just leave me here," Harry put in hopefully (he'd be able to watch what
he want ed on t elevision for a change and m aybe 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 t o cry loudly. I n fact , he w asn't really crying -- it had been years
since he'd really cried -- but he knew t hat if he screwed up his face and wailed, his
mother would give him anything he wanted.
   " Dinky Duddydum s, don't cry, Mum m y w on't let him spoil your special day! " she
cried, flinging her arms around him.
   " I ... don't ... want ... him ... t - t - t o com e! " Dudley yelled bet ween huge, pret end
sobs. " He always sp- spoils everyt hing! " He shot Harry a nast y grin t hrough t he gap
in his mother's arms.
   Just t hen, t he doorbell rang -- " Oh, good Lord, t hey're here! " said Aunt Pet unia
frantically -- and a m om ent lat er, Dudley's best friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in wit h
his m ot her. Piers was a scrawny boy wit h a face like a rat . He w as usually t he one
who held people's arm s behind t heir backs w hile Dudley hit t hem . Dudley st opped
pretending to cry at once.
    Half an hour lat er, Harry, who couldn't believe his luck, was sit t ing in t he 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, put t ing his large purple face right up close t o
Harry's, " I 'm w arning you now, boy -- any funny business, anyt hing at all -- and
you'll be in t hat cupboard from now unt il Christmas."
   "I'm not going to do anything," said Harry, "honestly ... "
   But Uncle Vernon didn't believe him. No one ever did.
  The problem was, st range t hings oft en happened around Harry and it was j ust no
good telling the Dursleys he didn't make them happen.
    Once, Aunt Pet unia, t ired of Harry com ing back from t he barbers looking as
t hough he hadn't been at all, had t aken a pair of kit chen scissors and cut his hair so
short he was alm ost bald except for his bangs, which she left " t o hide t hat horrible
scar." Dudley had laughed him self silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night
im agining school t he next day, where he w as already laughed at for his baggy
clot hes and t aped glasses. Next m orning, however, he had got t en up t o find his hair
exact ly as it had been before Aunt Pet unia had sheared it off. He had been given a
week in his cupboard for t his, even t hough he had t ried t o explain t hat he couldn't
explain how it had grown back so quickly.
   Anot her t im e, Aunt Pet unia had been t rying t o force him int o a revolt ing old
sweat er of Dudley's ( brow n w it h orange puff balls) . The harder she t ried t o pull it
over his head, t he sm aller it seem ed t o becom e, unt il finally it m ight have fit t ed a
hand puppet , but cert ainly wouldn't fit Harry. Aunt Pet unia had decided it m ust have
shrunk in the wash and, to his great relief, Harry wasn't punished.
    On t he ot her hand, he'd got t en int o t errible t rouble for being found on t he roof of
t he school kit chens. Dudley's gang had been chasing him as usual when, as m uch t o
Harry's surprise as anyone else's, t here he was sit t ing on t he chim ney. The Dursleys
had received a very angry let t er from Harry's headm ist ress t elling t hem Harry had
been clim bing school buildings. But all he'd t ried t o do ( as he shout ed at Uncle
Vernon t hrough t he locked door of his cupboard) was j um p behind t he big t rash cans
out side t he kit chen doors. Harry supposed t hat t he w ind m ust have caught him in
mid- jump.
  But t oday, not hing was going t o go wrong. I t was even wort h being wit h Dudley
and Piers t o be spending t he day som ewhere t hat wasn't school, his cupboard, or
Mrs. Figg's cabbage- smelling living room.
   While he drove, Uncle Vernon com plained t o Aunt Pet unia. He liked t o com plain
about t hings: people at work, Harry, t he council, Harry, t he bank, and Harry w ere
just a few of his favorite subjects. This morning, it was motorcycles.
  " ... roaring along like m aniacs, t he young hoodlum s," he said, as a m ot orcycle
overtook them.
    " I had a dream about a m ot orcycle," said Harry, rem em bering suddenly. " I t was
flying."
   Uncle Vernon nearly crashed int o t he car in front . He t urned right around in his
seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigant ic beet wit h a m ust ache:
" MOTORCYCLES DON'T FLY! "
   Dudley and Piers sniggered.
   "I know they don't," said Harry. "It was only a dream."
   But he w ished he hadn't said anyt hing. I f t here was one t hing t he Dursleys hat ed
even m ore t han his asking quest ions, it was his t alking about anyt hing act ing in a
way it shouldn't , no m at t er if it w as in a dream or even a cart oon -- t hey seem ed t o
think he might get dangerous ideas.
    I t was a very sunny Sat urday and t he zoo was crowded wit h fam ilies. The
Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolat e ice cream s at t he ent rance and
t hen, because t he sm iling lady in t he van had asked Harry what he want ed before
t hey could hurry him away, t hey bought him a cheap lem on ice pop. I t wasn't bad,
eit her, Harry t hought , licking it as t hey wat ched a gorilla scrat ching it s head who
looked remarkably like Dudley, except that it wasn't blond.
    Harry had the best morning he'd had in a long time. He was careful to walk a little
way apart from t he Dursleys so t hat Dudley and Piers, who were st art ing t o get
bored wit h t he anim als by luncht im e, wouldn't fall back on t heir favorit e hobby of
hit t ing him . They at e in t he zoo rest aurant , and when Dudley had a t ant rum because
his knickerbocker glory didn't have enough ice cream on t op, Uncle Vernon bought
him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first.
   Harry felt, afterward, that he should have known it was all too good to last.
   Aft er lunch t hey went t o t he rept ile house. I t was cool and dark in t here, w it h lit
windows all along t he walls. Behind t he glass, all sort s of lizards and snakes w ere
crawling and slit hering over bit s of wood and st one. Dudley and Piers want ed t o see
huge, poisonous cobras and t hick, m an- crushing pyt hons. Dudley quickly found t he
largest snake in t he place. I t could have wrapped it s body t wice around Uncle
Vernon's car and crushed it into a trash can -- but at the moment it didn't look in the
mood. In fact, it was fast asleep.
   Dudley st ood wit h his nose pressed against t he glass, st aring at t he glist ening
brown coils.
   " Make it m ove," he whined at his fat her. Uncle Vernon t apped on t he glass, but
the snake didn't budge.
  " Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped t he glass sm art ly wit h his
knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.
   "This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.
   Harry m oved in front of t he t ank and looked int ent ly at t he snake. He wouldn't
have been surprised if it had died of boredom it self -- no com pany except st upid
people drum m ing t heir fingers on t he glass t rying t o dist urb it all day long. I t was
worse t han having a cupboard as a bedroom , where t he only visit or was Aunt
Pet unia ham m ering on t he door t o w ake you up; at least he got t o visit t he rest of
the house.
  The snake suddenly opened it s beady eyes. Slow ly, very slowly, it raised it s head
until its eyes were on a level with Harry's.
   It winked.
  Harry st ared. Then he looked quickly around t o see if anyone was wat ching. They
weren't. He looked back at the snake and winked, too.
   The snake j erked it s head t oward Uncle Vernon and Dudley, t hen raised it s eyes
to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look that said quite plainly:
   "I get that all the time."
  " I know," Harry m urm ured t hrough t he glass, t hough he wasn't sure t he snake
could hear him. "It must be really annoying."
   The snake nodded vigorously.
   "Where do you come from, anyway?" Harry asked.
   The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry peered at it.
   Boa Constrictor, Brazil.
   "Was it nice there?"
  The boa const rict or j abbed it s t ail at t he sign again and Harry read on: This
specim en was bred in t he zoo. " Oh, I see -- so you've never been to Brazil?"
    As t he snake shook it s head, a deafening shout behind Harry m ade bot h of t hem
j um p. " DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THI S SNAKE! YOU WON'T
BELIEVE WHAT IT'S DOING!"
   Dudley cam e waddling t oward t hem as fast as he could.
   " Out of t he way, you," he said, punching Harry in t he ribs. Caught by surprise,
Harry fell hard on t he concret e floor. What cam e next happened so fast no one saw
how it happened -- one second, Piers and Dudley were leaning right up close t o t he
glass, the next, they had leapt back with howls of horror.
  Harry sat up and gasped; t he glass front of t he boa const rict or's t ank had
vanished. The great snake was uncoiling it self rapidly, slit hering out ont o t he floor.
People throughout the reptile house screamed and started running for the exits.
   As t he snake slid swift ly past him , Harry could have sworn a low, hissing voice
said, "Brazil, here I come ... Thanksss, amigo."
   The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.
   "But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"
   The zoo direct or him self m ade Aunt Pet unia a cup of st rong, sweet t ea while he
apologized over and over again. Piers and Dudley could only gibber. As far as Harry
had seen, t he snake hadn't done anyt hing except snap playfully at t heir heels as it
passed, but by t he t im e t hey were all back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was t elling
t hem how it had nearly bit t en off his leg, while Piers was swearing it had t ried t o
squeeze him t o deat h. But worst of all, for Harry at least , was Piers calm ing down
enough to say, "Harry was talking to it, weren't you, Harry?"
   Uncle Vernon wait ed unt il Piers was safely out of t he house before st art ing on
Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He m anaged t o say, "Go -- cupboard
-- st ay -- no m eals," before he collapsed int o a chair, and Aunt Pet unia had t o run
and get him a large brandy.


   Harry lay in his dark cupboard m uch lat er, w ishing he had a wat ch. He didn't
know what t im e it was and he couldn't be sure t he Dursleys were asleep yet . Unt il
they were, he couldn't risk sneaking to the kitchen for some food.
    He'd lived wit h t he Dursleys alm ost t en years, t en m iserable years, as long as he
could rem em ber, ever since he'd been a baby and his parent s had died in t hat car
crash. He couldn't rem em ber being in t he car when his parent s had died. Som et im es,
when he st rained his m em ory during long hours in his cupboard, he cam e up wit h a
st range vision: a blinding flash of green light and a burning pain on his forehead.
This, he supposed, w as t he crash, t hough he couldn't im agine where all t he green
light cam e from . He couldn't rem em ber his parent s at all. His aunt and uncle never
spoke about t hem , and of course he was forbidden t o ask quest ions. There were no
photographs of them in the house.
    When he had been younger, Harry had dream ed and dream ed of som e unknown
relat ion com ing t o t ake him away, but it had never happened; t he Dursleys were his
only fam ily. Yet som et im es he t hought ( or m aybe hoped) t hat st rangers in t he st reet
seem ed t o know him . Very st range st rangers t hey were, t oo. A t iny m an in a violet
t op hat had bow ed t o him once while out shopping wit h Aunt Pet unia and Dudley.
Aft er asking Harry furiously if he knew t he m an, Aunt Pet unia had rushed t hem out
of t he shop wit hout buying anyt hing. A wild- looking old w om an dressed all in green
had waved m errily at him once on a bus. A bald m an in a very long purple coat had
act ually shaken his hand in t he st reet t he ot her day and t hen w alked away wit hout a
word. The weirdest t hing about all t hese people was t he w ay t hey seem ed t o vanish
the second Harry tried to get a closer look.
   At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew t hat Dudley's gang hat ed t hat odd
Harry Pot t er in his baggy old clot hes and broken glasses, and nobody liked t o
disagree with Dudley's gang.




   Chapter Three
   Letters From No One


  The escape of t he Brazilian boa const rict or earned Harry his longest - ever
punishm ent . By t he t im e he w as allowed out of his cupboard again, t he sum m er
holidays had st art ed and Dudley had already broken his new video cam era, crashed
his rem ot e cont rol airplane, and, first t im e out on his racing bike, knocked down old
Mrs. Figg as she crossed Privet Drive on her crutches.
   Harry was glad school was over, but t here was no escaping Dudley's gang, who
visit ed t he house every single day. Piers, Dennis, Malcolm , and Gordon were all big
and st upid, but as Dudley was t he biggest and st upidest of t he lot , he w as t he
leader. The rest of them were all quite happy to join in Dudley's favorite sport: Harry
Hunting.
    This w as why Harry spent as m uch t im e as possible out of t he house, wandering
around and t hinking about t he end of t he holidays, w here he could see a t iny ray of
hope. When Sept em ber cam e he would be going off t o secondary school and, for t he
first t im e in his life, he wouldn't be wit h Dudley. Dudley had been accept ed at Uncle
Vernon's old privat e school, Sm elt ings. Piers Polkiss was going t here t oo. Harry, on
t he ot her hand, was going t o St onew all High, t he local public school. Dudley t hought
this was very funny.
  " They st uff people's heads dow n t he t oilet t he first day at St onewall," he t old
Harry. "Want to come upstairs and practice?"
   " No, t hanks," said Harry. " The poor t oilet 's never had anyt hing as horrible as your
head down it -- it m ight be sick." Then he ran, before Dudley could w ork out w hat
he'd said.
   One day in July, Aunt Pet unia t ook Dudley t o London t o buy his Sm elt ings
uniform , leaving Harry at Mrs. Figg's. Mrs. Figg w asn't as bad as usual. I t t urned out
she'd broken her leg t ripping over one of her cat s, and she didn't seem quit e as fond
of t hem as before. She let Harry wat ch t elevision and gave him a bit of chocolat e
cake that tasted as though she'd had it for several years.
    That evening, Dudley paraded around t he living room for t he fam ily in his brand-
new uniform. Smeltings' boys wore maroon tailcoats, orange knickerbockers, and flat
st raw hat s called boat ers. They also carried knobbly st icks, used for hit t ing each
ot her while t he t eachers weren't looking. This w as supposed t o be good t raining for
later life.
   As he looked at Dudley in his new knickerbockers, Uncle Vernon said gruffly that it
was t he proudest m om ent of his life. Aunt Pet unia burst int o t ears and said she
couldn't believe it was her I ckle Dudleykins, he looked so handsom e and grown- up.
Harry didn't t rust him self t o speak. He t hought t wo of his ribs m ight already have
cracked from trying not to laugh.


   There was a horrible smell in the kitchen the next morning when Harry went in for
breakfast . I t seem ed t o be com ing from a large m et al t ub in t he sink. He went t o
have a look. The tub was full of what looked like dirty rags swimming in gray water.
  " What 's t his?" he asked Aunt Pet unia. Her lips t ight ened as t hey alw ays did if he
dared to ask a question.
   "Your new school uniform," she said.
   Harry looked in the bowl again.
   "Oh," he said, "I didn't realize it had to be so wet."
   " Don't be st upid," snapped Aunt Pet unia. " I 'm dyeing som e of Dudley's old t hings
gray for you. I t 'll look j ust like everyone else's when I 've finished."
    Harry seriously doubt ed t his, but t hought it best not t o argue. He sat dow n at t he
t able and t ried not t o t hink about how he was going t o look on his first day at
Stonewall High -- like he was wearing bits of old elephant skin, probably.
   Dudley and Uncle Vernon cam e in, bot h wit h wrinkled noses because of t he sm ell
from Harry's new uniform . Uncle Vernon opened his newspaper as usual and Dudley
banged his Smelting stick, which he carried everywhere, on the table.
   They heard the click of the mail slot and flop of letters on the doormat.
   "Get the mail, Dudley," said Uncle Vernon from behind his paper.
   "Make Harry get it."
   "Get the mail, Harry."
   "Make Dudley get it."
   "Poke him with your Smelting stick, Dudley."
   Harry dodged t he Sm elt ing st ick and went t o get t he m ail. Three t hings lay on t he
doorm at : a post card from Uncle Vernon's sist er Marge, who was vacat ioning on t he
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 writ t en t o him . Who w ould? He had no friends, no
ot her relat ives -- he didn't belong t o t he library, so he'd never even got rude not es
asking for books back. Yet here it was, a let t er, addressed so plainly t here could be
no mistake:


   Mr. H. Potter
   The Cupboard under the Stairs
   4 Privet Drive
   Little Whinging
   Surrey


  The envelope was thick and heavy, made of yellowish parchment, and the address
was written in emerald- green ink. There was no stamp.
   Turning t he envelope over, his hand t rem bling, Harry saw a purple w ax seal
bearing a coat of arm s; a lion, an eagle, a badger, and a snake surrounding a large
letter H.
  " Hurry up, boy! " shout ed Uncle Vernon from t he kit chen. "What are you doing,
checking for letter bombs?" He chuckled at his own joke.
   Harry went back t o t he kit chen, st ill st aring at his let t er. He handed Uncle Vernon
the bill and the postcard, sat down, and slowly began to open the yellow envelope.
  Uncle Vernon ripped open t he bill, snort ed in disgust , and flipped over t he
postcard.
   "Marge's ill," he informed Aunt Petunia. "Ate a funny whelk ... "
   "Dad!" said Dudley suddenly. "Dad, Harry's got something!"
   Harry w as on t he point of unfolding his let t er, w hich was w rit t en on t he sam e
heavy parchm ent as t he envelope, when it was j erked sharply out of his hand by
Uncle Vernon.
      "That's mine!" said Harry, trying to snatch it back.
    " Who'd be writ ing t o you?" sneered Uncle Vernon, shaking t he let t er open wit h
one hand and glancing at it . His face went from red t o green fast er t han a set of
t raffic light s. And it didn't st op t here. Wit hin seconds it was t he grayish whit e of old
porridge.
      "P- P- Petunia!" he gasped.
   Dudley t ried t o grab t he let t er t o read it , but Uncle Vernon held it high out of his
reach. Aunt Pet unia t ook it curiously and read t he first line. For a m om ent it looked
as though she might faint. She clutched her throat and made a choking noise.
      "Vernon! Oh my goodness -- Vernon!"
    They st ared at each ot her, seem ing t o have forgot t en t hat Harry and Dudley w ere
still in the room. Dudley wasn't used to being ignored. He gave his father a sharp tap
on the head with his Smelting stick.
      "I want to read that letter," he said loudly.
      " I want to read it," said Harry furiously, "as it's mine."
  " Get out , bot h of you," croaked Uncle Vernon, st uffing t he let t er back inside it s
envelope.
      Harry didn't move.
      "I WANT MY LETTER!" he shouted.
      "Let me see it!" demanded Dudley.
    " OUT! " roared Uncle Vernon, and he t ook bot h Harry and Dudley by t he scruffs of
t heir necks and t hrew t hem int o t he hall, slam m ing t he kit chen door behind t hem .
Harry and Dudley promptly had a furious but silent fight over who would listen at the
keyhole; Dudley w on, so Harry, his glasses dangling from one ear, lay flat on his
stomach to listen at the crack between door and floor.
  " Vernon," Aunt Pet unia was saying in a quivering voice, " look at t he address --
how could t hey possibly know where he sleeps? You don't t hink t hey're wat ching t he
house?"
      "Watching -- spying -- might be following us," muttered Uncle Vernon wildly.
      "But what should we do, Vernon? Should we write back? Tell them we don't want -
- "
      Harry could see Uncle Vernon's shiny black shoes pacing up and down the kitchen.
  " No," he said finally. " No, we'll ignore it . I f t hey don't get an answer ... Yes, t hat 's
best ... we won't do anything ... "
      "But -- "
  " I 'm not having one in t he house, Pet unia! Didn't we swear when we t ook him in
we'd stamp out that dangerous nonsense?"


  That evening when he got back from work, Uncle Vernon did som et hing he'd
never done before; he visited Harry in his cupboard.
   " Where's m y let t er?" said Harry, t he m om ent Uncle Vernon had squeezed t hrough
the door. "Who's writing to me?"
  " No one. I t was addressed t o you by m ist ake," said Uncle Vernon short ly. " I have
burned it."
   "It was not a mistake," said Harry angrily, "it had my cupboard on it."
    " SI LENCE! " yelled Uncle Vernon, and a couple of spiders fell from t he ceiling. He
t ook a few deep breat hs and t hen forced his face int o a sm ile, which looked quit e
painful.
  "Er -- yes, Harry -- about t his cupboard. Your aunt and I have been t hinking ...
you're really get t ing a bit big for it ... we t hink it m ight be nice if you m oved int o
Dudley's second bedroom.
   "Why?" said Harry.
   "Don't ask questions!" snapped his uncle. "Take this stuff upstairs, now."
    The Dursleys' house had four bedroom s: one for Uncle Vernon and Aunt Pet unia,
one for visit ors ( usually Uncle Vernon's sist er, 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 t ook Harry one t rip upst airs t o m ove everyt hing he ow ned from t he cupboard
t o t his room . He sat dow n on t he bed and st ared around him . Nearly everyt hing in
here was broken. The m ont h- old video cam era was lying on t op of a sm all, w orking
t ank Dudley had once driven over t he next door neighbor's dog; in t he corner was
Dudley's first - ever t elevision set , which he'd put his foot t hrough when his favorit e
program had been canceled; t here was a large birdcage, which had once held a
parrot t hat Dudley had swapped at school for a real air rifle, which was up on a shelf
wit h t he end all bent because Dudley had sat on it . Ot her shelves were full of books.
They were t he only t hings in t he room t hat looked as t hough t hey'd never been
touched.
  From downst airs cam e t he sound of Dudley bawling at his m ot her, I don't want
him in there ... I need that room ... make him get out ... "
   Harry sighed and st ret ched out on t he bed. Yest erday he'd have given anyt hing t o
be up here. Today he'd rat her be back in his cupboard wit h t hat let t er t han up here
without it.


   Next m orning at breakfast , everyone was rat her quiet . Dudley was in shock. He'd
scream ed, whacked his fat her wit h his Sm elt ing st ick, been sick on purpose, kicked
his m ot her, and t hrown his t ort oise t hrough t he greenhouse roof, and he st ill didn't
have his room back. Harry was t hinking about t his t im e yest erday and bit t erly
wishing he'd opened t he let t er in t he hall. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Pet unia kept
looking at each other darkly.
    When t he m ail arrived, Uncle Vernon, who seem ed t o be t rying t o be nice t o
Harry, m ade Dudley go and get it . They heard him banging t hings wit h his Sm elt ing
st ick all t he way down t he hall. Then he shout ed, " There's anot her one! 'Mr. H.
Potter, The Smallest Bedroom, 4 Privet Drive -- '"
     Wit h a st rangled cry, Uncle Vernon leapt from his seat and ran down t he hall,
Harry right behind him . Uncle Vernon had t o wrest le Dudley t o t he ground t o get t he
let t er from him , which w as m ade difficult by t he fact t hat Harry had grabbed Uncle
Vernon around t he neck from behind. Aft er a m inut e of confused fight ing, in w hich
everyone got hit a lot by t he Sm elt ing st ick, Uncle Vernon st raight ened up, gasping
for breath, with Harry's letter clutched in his hand.
  " Go t o your cupboard -- I m ean, 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 t hey seem ed t o know he hadn't received his first let t er. Surely t hat
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 t he next m orning. Harry t urned it off
quickly and dressed silent ly. He m ust n't wake t he Dursleys. He st ole downst airs
without turning on any of the lights.
     He w as going t o wait for t he post m an on t he corner of Privet Drive and get t he
let t ers for num ber four first . His heart ham m ered as he crept across t he dark hall
toward the front door --
  "AAAAARRRGH!"
  Harry leapt int o t he air; he'd t rodden on som et hing big and squashy on t he
doormat -- something alive!
   Light s click ed on upst airs and t o his horror Harry realized t hat t he big, squashy
som et hing had been his uncle's face. Uncle Vernon had been lying at t he foot of t he
front door in a sleeping bag, clearly m aking sure t hat Harry didn't do exact ly w hat
he'd been t rying t o do. He shout ed at Harry for about half an hour and t hen t old him
to go and make a cup of tea. Harry shuffled miserably off into the kitchen and by the
time he got back, the mail had arrived, right into Uncle Vernon's lap. Harry could see
three letters addressed in green ink.
   " I want -- " he began, but Uncle Vernon was t earing t he let t ers int o pieces before
his eyes.
  Uncle Vernon didn't go t o work t hat day. He st ayed at hom e and nailed up t he
mail slot.
   " See," he explained t o Aunt Pet unia t hrough a m out hful of nails, " if t hey can't
deliver them they'll just give up."
  "I'm not sure that'll work, Vernon."
   " Oh, t hese people's m inds work in st range ways, Pet unia, t hey're not like you and
m e," said Uncle Vernon, t rying t o knock in a nail wit h t he piece of fruit cake Aunt
Petunia had just brought him.


    On Friday, no less t han t welve let t ers arrived for Harry. As t hey couldn't go
t hrough t he m ail slot t hey had been pushed under t he door, slot t ed t hrough t he
sides, and a few even forced through the small window in the downstairs bathroom.
   Uncle Vernon st ayed at hom e again. Aft er burning all t he let t ers, he got out a
ham m er and nails and boarded up t he cracks around t he front and back doors so no
one could go out . He hum m ed " Tipt oe Through t he Tulips" as he worked, and
jumped at small noises.


  On Sat urday, t hings began t o get out of hand. Twent y- four let t ers t o Harry found
their way into the house, rolled up and hidden inside each of the two dozen eggs that
t heir very confused m ilkm an had handed Aunt Pet unia t hrough t he living room
window. While Uncle Vernon m ade furious t elephone calls t o t he post office and t he
dairy t rying t o find som eone t o com plain t o, Aunt Pet unia shredded t he let t ers in her
food processor.
  " Who on eart h want s t o t alk t o you t his badly?" Dudley asked Harry in
amazement.


  On Sunday m orning, Uncle Vernon sat down at t he breakfast t able looking t ired
and rather ill, but happy.
   " No post on Sundays," he rem inded t hem cheerfully as he spread m arm alade on
his newspapers, "no damn letters today -- "
   Som et hing cam e whizzing down t he kit chen chim ney as he spoke and caught him
sharply on t he back of t he head. Next m om ent , t hirt y or fort y let t ers cam e pelt ing
out of t he fireplace like bullet s. The Dursleys ducked, but Harry leapt int o t he air
trying to catch one --
   "Out! OUT!"
   Uncle Vernon seized Harry around t he waist and t hrew him int o t he hall. When
Aunt Pet unia and Dudley had run out wit h t heir arm s over t heir faces, Uncle Vernon
slam m ed t he door shut . They could hear t he let t ers st ill st ream ing int o t he room ,
bouncing off the walls and floor.
   " That does it ," said Uncle Vernon, t rying t o speak calm ly but pulling great t uft s
out of his m ust ache at t he sam e t im e. " I want you all back here in five m inut es
ready to leave. We're going away. Just pack some clothes. No arguments!"
    He looked so dangerous w it h half his m ust ache m issing t hat no one dared argue.
Ten m inut es lat er t hey had wrenched t heir way t hrough t he boarded- up doors and
were in t he car, speeding t oward t he highw ay. Dudley was sniffling in t he back seat ;
his fat her had hit him round t he head for holding t hem up while he t ried t o pack his
t elevision, VCR, and com put er in his sport s bag.
   They drove. And t hey drove. Even Aunt Pet unia didn't dare ask where t hey w ere
going. Every now and t hen Uncle Vernon would t ake a sharp t urn and drive in t he
opposite direction for a while.
   "Shake 'em off ... shake 'em off," he would mutter whenever he did this.
   They didn't st op t o eat or drink all day. By night fall Dudley was howling. He'd
never had such a bad day in his life. He was hungry, he'd m issed five t elevision
program s he'd want ed t o see, and he'd never gone so long wit hout blowing up an
alien on his computer.
   Uncle Vernon st opped at last out side a gloom y- looking hot el on t he out skirt s of a
big cit y. Dudley and Harry shared a room wit h t win beds and dam p, m ust y sheet s.
Dudley snored but Harry stayed awake, sitting on the windowsill, staring down at the
lights of passing cars and wondering ...


  They at e st ale cornflakes and cold t inned t om at oes on t oast for breakfast t he next
day. They had just finished when the owner of the hotel came over to their table.
   " 'Scuse m e, but is one of you Mr. H. Pot t er? Only I got about an 'undred of t hese
at the front desk."
   She held up a letter so they could read the green ink address:


   Mr. H. Potter
   Room 17
   Railview Hotel
   Cokeworth


  Harry m ade a grab for t he let t er but Uncle Vernon knocked his hand out of t he
way. The woman stared.
   "I'll take them," said Uncle Vernon, standing up quickly and following her from the
dining room.


   " Wouldn't it be bet t er j ust t o go hom e, dear?" Aunt Pet unia suggest ed t im idly,
hours lat er, but Uncle Vernon didn't seem t o hear her. Exact ly what he was looking
for, none of t hem knew. He drove t hem int o t he m iddle 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 t he m iddle of a plowed field, halfway across a suspension bridge, and at
the top of a multilevel parking garage.
    " Daddy's gone m ad, hasn't he?" Dudley asked Aunt Pet unia dully lat e t hat
aft ernoon. Uncle Vernon had parked at t he coast , locked t hem all inside t he car, and
disappeared.
   I t st art ed t o rain. Great drops beat on t he roof of t he car. Dudley sniveled.
   " I t 's Monday," he t old his m ot her. " The Great Hum bert o's on t onight . I w ant t o
stay somewhere with a television."
   Monday. This rem inded Harry of som et hing. I f it w as Monday -- and you could
usually count on Dudley t o know t he days t he week, because of t elevision -- t hen
t om orrow, Tuesday, was Harry's elevent h birt hday. Of course, his birt hdays w ere
never exact ly fun -- last year, t he 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 sm iling. He was also carrying a long, t hin
package and didn't answer Aunt Petunia when she asked what he'd bought.
   "Found the perfect place!" he said. "Come on! Everyone out!"
   I t was very cold out side t he car. Uncle Vernon was point ing at what looked like a
large rock way out at sea. Perched on t op of t he rock was t he m ost m iserable lit t le
shack you could imagine. One thing was certain, there was no television in there.
   " St orm forecast for t onight ! " said Uncle Vernon gleefully, clapping his hands
together. "And this gentleman's kindly agreed to lend us his boat!"
   A toothless old man came ambling up to them, pointing, with a rather wicked grin,
at an old rowboat bobbing in the iron- gray water below them.
   "I've already got us some rations," said Uncle Vernon, "so all aboard!"
   I t was freezing in t he boat . I cy sea spray and rain crept down t heir necks and a
chilly wind whipped t heir faces. Aft er what seem ed like hours t hey reached t he rock,
where Uncle Vernon, slipping and sliding, led the way to the broken- down house.
    The inside w as horrible; it sm elled st rongly of seaweed, t he w ind whist led t hrough
t he gaps in t he w ooden w alls, and t he fireplace was dam p and em pt y. There w ere
only two rooms.
    Uncle Vernon's rat ions t urned out t o be a bag of chips each and four bananas. He
tried to start a fire but the empty chip bags just smoked and shriveled up.
   " Could do wit h som e of t hose let t ers now, eh?" he said cheerfully.
   He was in a very good m ood. Obviously he t hought nobody st ood a chance of
reaching t hem here in a st orm t o deliver m ail. Harry privat ely agreed, t hough t he
thought didn't cheer him up at all.
  As night fell, t he prom ised st orm blew up around t hem . Spray from t he high
waves splat t ered t he walls of t he hut and a fierce wind rat t led t he filt hy windows.
Aunt Pet unia found a few m oldy blanket s in t he second room and m ade up a bed for
Dudley on t he m oth- eat en sofa. She and Uncle Vernon went off t o t he lum py bed
next door, and Harry was left t o find t he soft est bit of floor he could and t o curl up
under the thinnest, most ragged blanket.
    The st orm raged m ore and m ore ferociously as t he night went on. Harry couldn't
sleep. He shivered and t urned over, t rying t o get com fort able, his st om ach rum bling
wit h hunger. Dudley's snores were drowned by t he low rolls of t hunder t hat st art ed
near m idnight . The light ed dial of Dudley's wat ch, which was dangling over t he edge
of t he sofa on his fat wrist , t old Harry he'd be eleven in t en m inut es' t im e. He lay
and wat ched his birt hday t ick nearer, wondering if t he Dursleys would rem em ber at
all, wondering where the letter writer was now.
   Five m inut es t o go. Harry heard som et hing creak out side. He hoped t he roof
wasn't going t o fall in, alt hough he m ight be warm er if it did. Four m inut es t o go.
Maybe t he house in Privet Drive would be so full of let t ers when t hey got back t hat
he'd be able to steal one somehow.
     Three m inut es t o go. Was t hat t he sea, slapping hard on t he rock like t hat ? And
( t w o m inut es t o go) what was t hat funny crunching noise? Was t he rock crum bling
into the sea?
  One m inut e t o go and he'd be eleven. Thirt y seconds ... t went y ... t en ... nine --
maybe he'd wake Dudley up, just to annoy him -- three ... two ... one ...
   BOOM.
  The whole shack shivered and Harry sat bolt upright , st aring at t he 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 w as a crash behind t hem and Uncle Vernon cam e skidding int o t he room .
He was holding a rifle in his hands - now t hey knew what had been in t he long, t hin
package he had brought with them.
   "Who's there?" he shouted. "I warn you -- I'm armed!"
   There was a pause. Then --
   SMASH!
  The door was hit wit h such force t hat it sw ung clean off it s hinges and wit h a
deafening crash landed flat on the floor.
   A giant of a m an w as st anding in t he doorway. His face was alm ost com plet ely
hidden by a long, shaggy m ane of hair and a wild, t angled beard, but you could
make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair.
   The giant squeezed his way int o t he hut , st ooping so t hat his head j ust brushed
the ceiling. He bent down, picked up the door, and fitted it easily back into its frame.
The noise of the storm outside 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 journey ... "
   He strode over to the sofa where Dudley sat frozen with fear.
   "Budge up, yeh great lump," said the stranger.
  Dudley squeaked and ran t o hide behind his m ot her, who w as crouching, t errified,
behind Uncle Vernon.
   "An' here's Harry!" said the giant.
  Harry looked up int o t he fierce, w ild, shadowy face and saw t hat t he beet le eyes
were crinkled in a smile.
  " Las' t im e I saw you, you was only a baby," said t he giant . " Yeh look a lot like yer
dad, but yeh've got yer mom's eyes."
   Uncle Vernon made a funny rasping noise.
   "I demand that you leave at once, sir!" he said. "You are breaking and entering!"
   " Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune," said t he giant ; he reached over t he back
of t he sofa, j erked t he gun out of Uncle Vernon's hands, bent it int o 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 trodden on.
   "Anyway -- Harry," said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, "a very happy
birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here -- I mighta sat on it at some point, but it'll
taste all right."
  From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slight ly squashed box.
Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with
Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.
  Harry looked up at t he giant . He m eant t o say t hank you, but t he words got lost
on the way to his mouth, and what he said instead was, "Who are you?"
   The giant chuckled.
   "True, I haven't int roduced m eself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at
Hogwarts."
   He held out an enormous hand and shook Harry's whole arm.
  " What about t hat t ea t hen, eh?" he said, rubbing his hands t oget her. " I 'd not say
no ter summat stronger if yeh've got it, mind."
   His eyes fell on t he em pt y grat e wit h t he shriveled chip bags in it and he snort ed.
He bent down over t he fireplace; t hey couldn't see what he was doing but when he
drew back a second lat er, t here was a roaring fire t here. I t filled t he whole damp hut
wit h flickering light and Harry felt t he warm t h wash over him as t hough he'd sunk
into a hot bath.
    The giant sat back dow n on t he sofa, w hich sagged under his weight , and began
t aking all sort s of t hings out of t he pocket s of his coat : a copper ket t le, a squashy
package of sausages, a poker, a t eapot , several chipped m ugs, and a bot t le of som e
am ber liquid t hat he t ook a sw ig from before st art ing t o m ake t ea. Soon t he hut was
full of t he sound and sm ell of sizzling sausage. Nobody said a t hing w hile t he giant
was working, but as he slid t he first six fat , j uicy, slight ly burnt sausages from t he
poker, Dudley fidget ed a lit t le. Uncle Vernon said sharply, " Don't t ouch anyt hing he
gives you, Dudley."
   The giant chuckled darkly.
   "Yer great puddin' of a son don' need fattenin' anymore, Dursley, don' worry."
  He passed t he sausages t o Harry, who was so hungry he had never t ast ed
anyt hing so wonderful, but he st ill couldn't t ake his eyes off t he giant . Finally, as
nobody seem ed about t o explain anyt hing, he said, " I 'm sorry, but I st ill 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 m e Hagrid," he said, " everyone does. An' like I t old yeh, I 'm Keeper of Keys
at Hogwarts -- yeh'll know all about Hogwarts, o' course.
   "Er -- no," said Harry.
   Hagrid looked shocked.
   "Sorry," Harry said quickly.
  " Sorry?" barked Hagrid, turning to stare at the Dursleys, who shrank back into the
shadows. " I t 's t hem as should be sorry! I knew yeh weren't get t in' yer let t ers but I
never t hought yeh wouldn't even know abou' Hogw art s, fer cryin' out loud! Did yeh
never wonder where yer parents learned it all?"
   "All what?" asked Harry.
   "ALL WHAT?" Hagrid thundered. "Now wait jus' one second!"
  He had leapt t o his feet . I n his anger he seem ed t o fill t he whole hut . The
Dursleys were cowering against the wall.
   " Do you m ean t er t ell m e," he growled at t he Dursleys, " t hat t his boy -- t his boy!
-- knows nothin' abou' -- about ANYTHI NG?"
  Harry t hought t his was going a bit far. He had been t o school, aft er all, and his
marks weren't bad.
   "I know some things," he said. "I can, you know, do math and stuff."
   But Hagrid simply waved his hand and said, "About our world, I mean. Your world.
My world. Yer parents' world."
   "What world?"
   Hagrid looked as if he was about to explode.
   "DURSLEY!" he boomed.
  Uncle Vernon, who had gone very pale, whispered som et hing t hat sounded like
"Mimblewimble." Hagrid stared wildly at Harry.
  " But yeh m ust know about yer m om and dad," he said. " I m ean, t hey're famous.
You're famous."
   "What? My -- my mom and dad weren't famous, were they?"
    " Yeh don' know ... yeh don' know ... " Hagrid ran his fingers t hrough his hair,
fixing Harry with a bewildered stare.
   "Yeh don' know what yeh are?" he said finally.
   Uncle Vernon suddenly found his voice.
  " St op! " he com m anded. "St op right t here, sir! I forbid you t o t ell t he boy
anything!"
  A braver m an t han Vernon Dursley w ould have quailed under t he furious look
Hagrid now gave him; when Hagrid spoke, his every syllable trembled with rage.
   " You never t old him ? Never t old him what was in t he let t er Dum bledore 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 FORBI D 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 wizard."
  There was silence inside t he hut . Only t he sea and t he whist ling w ind could be
heard.
   "I'm a what?" gasped Harry.
   " A w izard, o' course," said Hagrid, sit t ing back down on t he sofa, which groaned
and sank even lower, "an' a t hum pin' good 'un, I 'd say, once yeh've been t rained up
a bit . Wit h a m um an' dad like yours, what else would yeh be? An' I reckon it 's abou'
time yeh read yer letter."
   Harry st ret ched out his hand at last t o t ake t he yellowish envelope, addressed in
em erald green t o Mr. H. Pot t er, 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, Suprem e Mugw um p, I nt er nat ional Confed. of
Wizards)
   Dear Mr. Potter,
   We are pleased t o inform you t hat you have been accept ed at Hogwart s School of
Wit chcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and
equipment.
   Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
   Yours sincerely,


   Minerva McGonagall,
   Deputy Headmistress


  Quest ions exploded inside Harry's head like fireworks and he couldn't decide
which t o ask first . Aft er a few m inut es he st am m ered, " What does it m ean, t hey
await my owl?"
   " Gallopin' Gorgons, t hat rem inds m e," said Hagrid, clapping a hand t o his
forehead wit h enough force t o knock over a cart horse, and from yet anot her pocket
inside his overcoat he pulled an owl -- a real, live, rather ruffled- looking owl -- a long
quill, and a roll of parchm ent . Wit h his t ongue bet ween his t eet h he scribbled a not e
that Harry could read upside down:


   Dear Professor Dumbledore,
   Given Harry his letter.
   Taking him to buy his things tomorrow.
   Weather's horrible. Hope you're well.
   Hagrid



    Hagrid rolled up t he not e, gave it t o t he ow l, which clam ped it in it s beak, went t o
t he door, and t hrew t he owl out int o t he st orm . Then he cam e back and sat down as
though this was as normal as talking on the telephone.
   Harry realized his mouth was open and closed it quickly.
  " Where was I ?" said Hagrid, but at t hat m om ent , Uncle Vernon, st ill ashen- faced
but looking very angry, moved into the firelight.
   "He's not going," he said.
   Hagrid grunted.
   "I'd like ter see a great Muggle like you stop him," he said.
   "A what?" said Harry, interested.
  " A Muggle," said Hagrid, " it 's what we call nonm agic folk like t hem . An' it 's your
bad luck you grew up in a family o' the biggest Muggles I ever laid eyes on."
  " We sw ore w hen we t ook him in we'd put a st op t o t hat rubbish," said Uncle
Vernon, "swore we'd stamp it out of him! Wizard indeed!"
   "You knew?" said Harry. "You knew I'm a -- a wizard?"
   " Knew! " shrieked Aunt Pet unia suddenly. " Knew! Of course we knew ! How could
you not be, m y drat t ed sist er being w hat she was? Oh, she got a let t er j ust like t hat
and disappeared off t o t hat -- t hat school -- and cam e hom e every vacat ion wit h her
pocket s full of frog spawn, t urning t eacups int o rat s. I was t he 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 st opped t o draw a deep breat h and t hen w ent rant ing on. I t seem ed she had
been wanting to say all this for years.
   " Then she m et t hat Pot t er at school and t hey left and got m arried and had you,
and of course I knew you'd be j ust t he sam e, j ust as st range, j ust as -- as --
abnormal -- and t hen, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we got
landed with you!"
   Harry had gone very white. As soon as he found his voice he said, "Blown up? You
told me they died in a car crash!"
   " CAR CRASH! " roared Hagrid, j um ping up so angrily t hat t he Dursleys scut t led
back t o t heir corner. " How could a car crash kill Lily an' Jam es Pot t er? I t 's an
out rage! A scandal! Harry Pot t er not knowin' his ow n st ory w hen every kid in our
world knows his name!"
   "But why? What happened?" Harry asked urgently.
   The anger faded from Hagrid's face. He looked suddenly anxious.
  " I never expect ed t his," he said, in a low, worried voice. "I had no idea, when
Dum bledore t old m e t here m ight be t rouble get t in' hold of yeh, how m uch yeh didn't
know. Ah, Harry, I don' know if I 'm t he right person t er t ell yeh -- but som eone'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 m uch as I can t ell yeh -- m ind, I can't t ell yeh
everythin', it's a great myst'ry, parts of it ... "
  He sat down, st ared int o t he fire for a few seconds, and t hen said, "I t begins, I
suppose, wit h -- wit h a person called -- but it 's incredible yeh don't know his nam e,
everyone in our world knows -- "
   "Who?"
   "Well -- I don' like sayin' the name if I can help it. No one does."
   "Why not?"
    " Gulpin' gargoyles, Harry, people are st ill scared. Blim ey, t his is difficult . See,
t here was t his wizard w ho went ... bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse t han
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' m ake m e
say it again. Anyway, this -- t his wizard, about t went y years ago now, st art ed lookin'
fer followers. Got 'em , t oo -- som e were afraid, som e j ust want ed a bit o' his power,
'cause he was get t in' him self power, all right . Dark days, Harry. Didn't know who t er
t rust , didn't dare get friendly wit h st range wizards or wit ches ... t errible t hings
happened. He w as t akin' over. 'Course, som e st ood up t o him -- an' he killed 'em .
Horribly. One o' t he only safe places left was Hogwart s. Reckon Dum bledore's t he
only one You- Know- Who was afraid of. Didn't dare t ry t akin' t he school, not j us'
then, anyway.
     "Now, yer mum an' dad were as good a witch an' wizard as I ever knew. Head boy
an' girl at Hogwart s in t heir day! Suppose t he m yst 'ry is why You- Know- Who never
t ried t o get 'em on his side before ... probably knew t hey were t oo close t er
Dumbledore ter want anythin' ter do with the Dark Side.
    " Maybe he t hought he could persuade 'em ... m aybe he j ust want ed 'em out t a t he
way. All anyone knows is, he t urned up in t he village where you was all living, on
Halloween t en years ago. You was j ust a year old. He cam e t er yer house an' -- an' -
- "
   Hagrid suddenly pulled out a very dirt y, spot t ed handkerchief and blew his nose
with a sound like a foghorn.
  " Sorry," he said. " But it 's t hat sad -- knew yer m um an' dad, an' nicer people yeh
couldn't find -- anyway ...
    "You- Know- Who killed 'em . An' t hen -- an' t his is t he real m yst 'ry of t he t hing --
he t ried t o kill you, t oo. Want ed t er m ake a clean j ob of it , I suppose, or m aybe he
j ust liked killin' by t hen. But he couldn't do it . Never wondered how you got t hat
m ark on yer forehead? That w as 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' t hat 's why yer fam ous, Harry. No one ever lived
aft er he decided t er kill 'em , no one except you, an' he'd killed som e o' t he best
wit ches an' w izards of t he age -- t he McKinnons, t he Bones, t he Prewet t s -- an' you
was only a baby, an' you lived."
    Som et hing very painful was going on in Harry's m ind. As Hagrid's st ory cam e t o a
close, he saw again t he blinding flash of green light , m ore clearly t han he had ever
rem em bered it before -- and he rem em bered som et hing else, for t he first t im e 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
t he Dursleys were t here. Uncle Vernon cert ainly seem ed t o have got back his
courage. He was glaring at Hagrid and his fists were clenched.
   "Now, you listen here, boy," he snarled, "I accept there's something strange about
you, probably nothing a good beating wouldn't have cured -- and as for all this about
your parent s, well, t hey were weirdoes, no denying it , and t he world's bet t er off
wit hout t hem in m y opinion -- asked for all t hey got , get t ing m ixed up wit h t hese
wizarding t ypes -- j ust what I expect ed, alw ays knew t hey'd com e t o a st icky 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 ... "
  I n danger of being speared on t he end of an um brella by a bearded giant , Uncle
Vernon's courage failed again; he flattened himself against the wall and fell silent.
  " That 's bet t er," said Hagrid, breat hing heavily and sit t ing back down on t he 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 m ean, You- Know- Who?"
   " Good quest ion, Harry. Disappeared. Vanished. Sam e night he t ried t er kill you.
Makes yeh even more famous. That's the biggest myst'ry, see ... he was gettin' more
an' more powerful -- why'd he go?
     " Som e say he died. Codsw allop, in m y opinion. Dunno if he had enough hum an
left in him to die. Some say he's still out there, bidin' his time, like, but I don' believe
it . People who w as on his side cam e back t er ours. Som e of 'em cam e out t a kinda
trances. Don' reckon they could've done if he was comin' back.
   "Most of us reckon he's still out there somewhere but lost his powers. Too weak to
carry on. 'Cause som et hin' about you finished him , Harry. There was som et hin' goin'
on t hat night he hadn't count ed on -- I dunno what it was, no one does -- but
somethin' about you stumped him, all right."
   Hagrid looked at Harry wit h warm t h and respect blazing in his eyes, but Harry,
inst ead of feeling pleased and proud, felt quit e sure t here had been a horrible
m ist ake. A wizard? Him ? How could he possibly be? He'd spent his life being clout ed
by Dudley, and bullied by Aunt Pet unia and Uncle Vernon; if he was really a wizard,
why hadn't t hey been t urned int o wart y t oads every t im e t hey'd t ried t o lock him in
his cupboard? I f he'd once defeat ed t he great est sorcerer in t he world, how com e
Dudley had always been able to kick him around like a football?
  " Hagrid," he said quiet ly, " I t hink you m ust have m ade a m ist ake. I don't t hink 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 int o t he fire. Now he cam e t o t hink about it ... every odd t hing t hat
had ever m ade his aunt and uncle furious w it h him had happened when he, Harry,
had been upset or angry ... chased by Dudley's gang, he had somehow found himself
out of t heir reach ... dreading going t o school wit h t hat ridiculous haircut , he'd
m anaged t o m ake it grow back ... and t he very last t im e Dudley had hit him , hadn't
he got his revenge, wit hout even realizing he was doing it ? Hadn't he set a boa
constrictor on him?
   Harry looked back at Hagrid, sm iling, and saw t hat Hagrid was posit ively beaming
at him.
   " See?" said Hagrid. " Harry Pot t er, not a wizard -- you wait , you'll be right fam ous
at Hogwarts."
   But Uncle Vernon wasn't going to give in without a fight.
   " Haven't I t old you he's not going?" he hissed. " He's going t o St onewall 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 -- "
   " I f he w ant s t er go, a great Muggle like you won't st op 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 t here and he won't know him self. He'll be wit h youngst ers of his
ow n sort , fer a change, an' he'll be under t he great est headm ast er Hogw art s ever
had Albus Dumbled -- "
  " I AM NOT PAYI NG FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HI M MAGI C
TRICKS!" yelled Uncle Vernon.
  But he had finally gone t oo far. Hagrid seized his um brella and w hirled it over his
head, " NEVER -- " he t hundered, " -- I NSULT -- ALBUS -- DUMBLEDORE -- I N --
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 t he next
second, Dudley was dancing on t he spot wit h his hands clasped over his fat bot t om ,
howling in pain. When he t urned his back on t hem , Harry saw a curly pig's t ail
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't a lost m e t em per," 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 t er do m agic, st rict ly speakin'. I was allow ed t er do a bit t er follow
yeh an' get yer let t ers t o yeh an' st uff -- one o' t he reasons I was so keen t er t ake
on the job."
   "Why aren't you supposed to do magic?" asked Harry.
    " Oh, w ell -- I w as at Hogwart s m eself but I -- er -- got expelled, t er t ell yeh t he
t rut h. I n m e t hird year. They snapped m e wand in half an' everyt hing. But
Dumbledore let me stay on as gamekeeper. Great man, Dumbledore."
   "Why were you expelled?"
  " I t 's get t in' lat e and we've got lot s t er do t om orrow," said Hagrid loudly. " Got t a
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 t hat ," he said. "Don' m ind if it w riggles a bit , I t hink I st ill got
a couple o' doormice in one o' the pockets."




   Chapter Five
   D ia gon Alle y


  Harry w oke early t he next m orning. Alt hough he could t ell it was daylight , he
kept his eyes shut tight.
     " I t was a dream , he t old him self firm ly. " I dream ed a giant called Hagrid cam e t o
t ell m e I was going t o a school for wizards. When I open m y eyes I 'll be at hom e in
my cupboard."
   There was suddenly a loud tapping noise.
  And t here's Aunt Pet unia knocking on t he door, Harry t hought , 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 , t he
st orm was over, Hagrid him self was asleep on t he collapsed sofa, and t here was an
owl rapping its claw on the window, a newspaper held in its beak.
  Harry scram bled t o his feet , so happy he felt as t hough a large balloon was
swelling inside him . He went st raight t o t he w indow and j erked it open. The owl
swooped in and dropped t he newspaper on t op of Hagrid, who didn't w ake up. The
owl then fluttered onto the floor and began to attack Hagrid's coat.
   "Don't do that."
  Harry t ried t o w ave t he owl out of t he w ay, but it snapped it s beak fiercely at him
and carried on savaging the coat.
   "Hagrid!" said Harry loudly. "There's an owl -- "
   "Pay him," Hagrid grunted into the sofa.
   "What?"
   "He wants payin' fer deliverin' the paper. Look in the pockets."
   Hagrid's coat seem ed t o be m ade of not hing but pocket s -- bunches of keys, slug
pellet s, balls of st ring, pepperm int hum bugs, t eabags ... finally, Harry pulled out a
handful of strange- looking coins.
   "Give him five Knuts," said Hagrid sleepily.
   "Knuts?"
   "The little bronze ones."
   Harry count ed out five lit t le bronze coins, and t he owl held out his leg so Harry
could put t he m oney int o a sm all leat her pouch t ied t o it . Then he flew off t hrough
the open window.
   Hagrid yawned loudly, sat up, and stretched.
   "Best be off, Harry, lot s t er do t oday, got t a get up t er London an' buy all yer st uff
fer school."
   Harry was t urning over t he wizard coins and looking at t hem . He had j ust t hought
of som et hing t hat m ade him feel as t hough t he 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 m oney -- and you heard Uncle Vernon last night ... he won't
pay for me to go and learn magic."
   "Don't worry about that," said Hagrid, standing up and scratching his head. "D'yeh
think yer parents didn't leave yeh anything?"
   "But if their house was destroyed -- "
   " They didn' keep t heir gold in t he house, boy! Nah, first st op fer us is Gringot t s.
Wizards' bank. Have a sausage, t hey're not bad cold -- an' I wouldn' say no t eh a bit
o' yer birthday cake, neither."
   "Wizards have banks?"
   "Just the one. Gringotts. Run by goblins."
   Harry dropped the bit of sausage he was holding.
   " Goblins?"
   "Yeah -- so yeh'd be m ad t er t ry an' rob it , I 'll t ell yeh t hat . Never m ess with
goblins, Harry. Gringot t s is t he safest place in t he world fer anyt hing yeh want t er
keep safe -- 'cept m aybe Hogwart s. As a m at t er o' fact , I got t a visit Gringot t s
anyway. Fer Dum bledore. Hogwart s business." Hagrid drew him self up proudly. " He
usually get s m e t er do im port ant st uff fer him . Fet chin' you -- get t in' t hings from
Gringotts -- knows he can trust me, see."
   "Got everythin'? Come on, then."
   Harry followed Hagrid out ont o t he rock. The sky was quit e clear now and t he sea
gleam ed in t he sunlight . The boat Uncle Vernon had hired was st ill t here, wit h a lot
of water in the bottom after the storm.
   "How did you get here?" Harry asked, looking around for another boat.
   "Flew," said Hagrid.
   " Flew?"
   "Yeah -- but we'll go back in this. Not s'pposed ter use magic now I've got yeh."
    They set t led down in t he boat , Harry st ill st aring at Hagrid, t rying t o im agine him
flying.
   " Seem s a sham e t er row , t hough," said Hagrid, giving Harry anot her of his
sideways looks. " I f I was t er -- er -- speed t hings up a bit , would yeh m ind not
mentionin' it at Hogwarts?"
   " Of course not ," said Harry, eager t o see m ore m agic. Hagrid pulled out t he pink
um brella again, t apped it t wice on t he side of t he boat , and t hey sped off t oward
land.
   "Why would you be mad to try and rob Gringotts?" Harry asked.
    "Spells -- enchant m ent s," said Hagrid, unfolding his newspaper as he spoke.
" They say t here's dragons guardin' t he high securit y vault s. And t hen yeh got t a find
yer way -- Gringot t s is hundreds of m iles under London, see. Deep under t he
Underground. Yeh'd die of hunger t ryin' t er get out , even if yeh did m anage t er get
yer hands on summat."
   Harry sat and t hought about t his while Hagrid read his newspaper, t he Daily
Prophet. Harry had learned 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.
   " Minist ry o' Magic m essin' t hings up as usual," Hagrid m ut t ered, t urning t he page.
   "There's a Ministry of Magic?" Harry asked, before he could stop himself.
   " 'Course," said Hagrid. " They want ed Dum bledore fer Minist er, o' course, but he'd
never leave Hogwart s, so old Cornelius Fudge got t he j ob. Bungler if ever t here was
one. So he pelts Dumbledore with owls every morning, askin' fer advice."
   "But what does a Ministry of Magic do?"
   " Well, t heir m ain j ob is t o keep it from t he Muggles t hat t here's st ill w it ches an'
wizards up an' down the country."
   "Why?"
  " Why? Blim ey, Harry, everyone'd be want in' m agic solut ions t o t heir problem s.
Nah, we're best left alone."
  At t his m om ent t he boat bum ped gent ly int o t he harbor wall. Hagrid folded up his
newspaper, and they clambered up the stone steps onto the street.
   Passersby st ared a lot at Hagrid as t hey w alked t hrough t he lit t le t own t o t he
station. Harry couldn't blame them. Not only was Hagrid twice as tall as anyone else,
he kept point ing at perfect ly ordinary t hings like parking m et ers and saying loudly,
"See that, Harry? Things these Muggles dream up, eh?"
   " Hagrid," said Harry, pant ing a bit as he ran t o keep up, " did you say t here 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 t he st at ion. There was a t rain t o London in five m inut es' t im e.
Hagrid, who didn't underst and "Muggle m oney," as he called it , gave t he bills t o
Harry so he could buy their tickets.
   People st ared m ore t han ever on t he t rain. Hagrid t ook up t wo seat s 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 not iced t he night before, and
read:


   HOGWARTS SCHOOL o f WITCHCRAFT and WI ZARDRY


   UNIFORM


   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
   COURSE BOOKS


   All students should have a copy of each of the following:
   The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1) by Miranda Goshawk
   A Hist ory of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
   Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
   A Beginners' Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
   One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
   Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
   Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
   The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self- Protection by Quentin Trimble




   OTHER EQUI PMENT


   1 wand
   1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
   1 set of glass or crystal phials
   1 telescope set
   1 brass scales
   Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad


  PARENTS ARE REMI NDED THAT FI RST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEI R OWN
BROOMSTICKS


   "Can we buy all this in London?" Harry wondered aloud.
   "If yeh know where to go," said Hagrid.


    Harry had never been t o London before. Alt hough Hagrid seem ed t o know where
he was going, he was obviously not used t o get t ing t here in an ordinary way. He got
st uck in t he t icket barrier on t he Underground, and com plained loudly t hat t he seat s
were too small and the trains too slow.
   " I don't know how t he Muggles m anage wit hout m agic," he said as t hey clim bed a
broken- down escalator that led up to a bustling road lined with shops.
   Hagrid was so huge t hat he part ed t he crowd easily; all Harry had t o do was keep
close behind him . They passed book shops and m usic st ores, ham burger rest aurant s
and cinem as, but nowhere t hat looked as if it could sell you a m agic wand. This was
j ust an ordinary st reet full of ordinary people. Could t here really be piles of wizard
gold buried m iles beneat h t hem ? Were t here really shops t hat sold spell books and
broom st icks? Might t his not all be som e huge j oke t hat t he Dursleys had cooked up?
I f Harry hadn't known t hat t he Dursleys had no sense of hum or, he m ight have
t hought so; yet som ehow, even t hough everyt hing Hagrid had t old him so far was
unbelievable, Harry couldn't help trusting him.
   " This is it ," said Hagrid, com ing t o a halt , "t he Leaky Cauldron. I t 's a fam ous
place."
    I t was a t iny, grubby- looking pub. I f Hagrid hadn't point ed it out , Harry wouldn't
have not iced it was t here. The people hurrying by didn't glance at it . Their eyes slid
from t he big book shop on one side t o t he record shop on t he ot her as if t hey
couldn't see t he Leaky Cauldron at all. I n fact , Harry had t he m ost peculiar feeling
t hat only he and Hagrid could see it . Before he could m ent ion t his, Hagrid had
steered him inside.
      For a fam ous place, it was very dark and shabby. A few old wom en were sit t ing in
a corner, drinking t iny glasses of sherry. One of t hem was sm oking a long pipe. A
lit t le m an in a t op hat was t alking t o t he old bart ender, who w as quit e bald and
looked like a t oot hless walnut . The low buzz of chat t er st opped when t hey walked in.
Everyone seem ed t o know Hagrid; t hey waved and sm iled at him , and t he bart ender
reached for a glass, saying, "The usual, Hagrid?"
  " Can't , Tom , I 'm on Hogwart s business," said Hagrid, clapping his great hand on
Harry's shoulder and making Harry's knees buckle.
   " Good Lord," said t he bart ender, peering at Harry, "is this -- can this be -- ?"
   The Leaky Cauldron had suddenly gone completely still and silent.
   "Bless my soul," whispered the old bartender, "Harry Potter ... what an honor."
   He hurried out from behind t he bar, rushed t oward Harry and seized his hand,
tears in his eyes.
   "Welcome back, Mr. Potter, welcome back."
   Harry didn't know what t o say. Everyone was looking at him . The old w om an wit h
the pipe was puffing on it without realizing it had gone out. Hagrid was beaming.
   Then t here was a great scraping of chairs and t he next m om ent , Harry found
himself shaking hands with everyone in the Leaky Cauldron.
   "Doris Crockford, Mr. Potter, can't believe I'm meeting you at last."
   "So proud, Mr. Potter, I'm just so proud."
   "Always wanted to shake your hand -- I'm all of a flutter."
   "Delighted, Mr. Potter, just can't tell you, Diggle's the name, Dedalus Diggle."
  " I 've seen you before! " said Harry, as Dedalus Diggle's t op hat fell off in his
excit em ent . " You bowed t o m e once in a shop."
    " He rem em bers! " cried Dedalus Diggle, looking around at everyone. " Did you hear
t hat ? He rem em bers m e! " Harry shook hands again and again -- Doris Crockford
kept coming back for more.
   A pale young m an m ade his w ay forw ard, 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- Pot t er," st am m ered Professor Quirrell, grasping Harry's hand, " c- can't t - tell
you how p- pleased I am to meet you."
   "What sort of magic do you teach, Professor Quirrell?"
   "D- Defense Against t he D- D- Dark Art s," m ut t ered Professor Quirrell, as t hough
he'd rat her not t hink about it . " N- not t hat you n- need it, eh, P- P- Potter?" He laughed
nervously. "You'll be g- get t ing all your equipm ent , 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 t he ot hers wouldn't let Professor Quirrell keep Harry t o him self. I t t ook alm ost
t en m inut es t o get away from t hem all. At last , Hagrid m anaged t o m ake him self
heard over the babble.
   "Must get on -- lots ter buy. Come on, Harry."
    Doris Crock ford shook Harry's hand one last t im e, and Hagrid led t hem t hrough
t he bar and out int o a sm all, walled court yard, where t here w as not hing but a t rash
can and a few weeds.
   Hagrid grinned at Harry.
   " Told yeh, didn't I ? Told yeh you was fam ous. Even Professor Quirrell was
tremblin' ter meet yeh -- mind you, he's usually tremblin'."
   "Is he always that nervous?"
   "Oh, yeah. Poor bloke. Brilliant m ind. He was fine while he w as st udyin' out t a
books but t hen he t ook a year off t er get som e first hand experience ... They say he
m et vam pires in t he Black Forest , and t here was a nast y bit o' t rouble wit h a hag --
never been the same since. Scared of the students, scared of his own subject -- now,
where's me umbrella?"
   Vam pires? Hags? Harry's head was swim m ing. Hagrid, m eanwhile, was count ing
bricks in the wall above the trash can.
   "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 t ouched quivered -- it wriggled -- in t he m iddle, a sm all hole
appeared -- it grew wider and wider -- a second lat er t hey were facing an archw ay
large enough even for Hagrid, an archway ont o a cobbled st reet t hat t wist ed and
turned out of sight.
   " Welcom e," said Hagrid, " t o Diagon Alley."
   He grinned at Harry's am azem ent . They st epped t hrough t he archway. Harry
looked quickly over his shoulder and saw t he archway shrink inst ant ly back int o solid
wall.
   The sun shone bright ly on a st ack of cauldrons out side t he nearest shop.
Cauldrons -- All Sizes -- Copper, Brass, Pewt er, Silver -- Self- Stirring -- Collapsible,
said a sign hanging over them.
   "Yeah, you'll be needin' one," said Hagrid, "but we gotta get yer money first."
   Harry wished he had about eight m ore eyes. He t urned his head in every direction
as t hey w alked up t he st reet , t rying t o look at everyt hing at once: t he shops, t he
t hings out side t hem , t he people doing t heir shopping. A plum p wom an out side an
Apot hecary was shaking her head as t hey passed, saying, " Dragon liver, sevent een
Sickles an ounce, they're mad ... "
   A low, soft hoot ing cam e from a dark shop wit h a sign saying Eeylops Owl
Emporium -- Tawny, Screech, Barn, Brown, and Snowy. Several boys of about
Harry's age had t heir noses pressed against a w indow w it h broom st icks in it . " Look,"
Harry heard one of t hem say, " t he new Nim bus Two Thousand -- fast est ever -- "
There were shops selling robes, shops selling t elescopes and st range silver
inst rum ent s Harry had never seen before, windows st acked wit h barrels of bat
spleens and eels' eyes, t ot t ering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchm ent ,
potion bottles, globes of the moon ...
   "Gringotts," said Hagrid.
    They had reached a snowy whit e building t hat t owered over t he ot her lit t le shops.
St anding beside it s burnished bronze doors, wearing a uniform of scarlet and gold,
was --
    " Yeah, t hat 's a goblin," said Hagrid quiet ly as t hey walked up t he whit e st one
st eps t ow ard him . The goblin was about a head short er t han Harry. He had a
swart hy, clever face, a point ed beard and, Harry not iced, very long fingers and feet .
He bowed as t hey walked inside. Now t hey 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,
   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 m ad t er t ry an' rob it ," said Hagrid.
    A pair of goblins bowed t hem t hrough t he silver doors and t hey were in a vast
m arble hall. About a hundred m ore goblins were sit t ing on high st ools behind a long
count er, scribbling in large ledgers, weighing coins in brass scales, exam ining
precious st ones t hrough eyeglasses. There were t oo m any doors t o count leading off
t he hall, and yet m ore goblins were showing people in and out of t hese. Hagrid and
Harry made for the counter.
  " Morning," said Hagrid t o a free goblin. " We've com e t er t ake som e m oney out t a
Mr. Harry Potter's safe."
   "You have his key, sir?"
    " Got it here som ew here," said Hagrid, and he st art ed em pt ying his pocket s ont o
t he count er, scat t ering a handful of m oldy dog biscuit s over t he goblin's book of
num bers. The goblin w rinkled his nose. Harry w at ched t he goblin on t heir right
weighing a pile of rubies as big as glowing coals.
   "Got it," said Hagrid at last, holding up a tiny golden key.
   The goblin looked at it closely.
   "That seems to be in order."
   " An' I 've also got a let t er here from Professor Dum bledore," said Hagrid
im port ant ly, t hrowing out his chest . " I t 's about t he You- Know- What in vault seven
hundred and thirteen."
   The goblin read the letter carefully.
  " Very well," he said, handing it back t o Hagrid, " I will have som eone t ake you
down to both vaults. Griphook!"
   Griphook was yet anot her goblin. Once Hagrid had cram m ed all t he dog biscuit s
back inside his pocket s, he and Harry followed Griphook t oward one of t he doors
leading off the hall.
   "What's the You- Know- What in vault seven hundred and thirteen?" Harry asked.
  " Can't t ell yeh t hat ," said Hagrid m yst eriously. " Very secret . Hogwart s business.
Dum bledore's t rust ed m e. More'n m y j ob's wort h t er t ell yeh t hat."
   Griphook held t he door open for t hem . Harry, who had expect ed m ore m arble,
was surprised. They were in a narrow st one passageway lit wit h flam ing t orches. I t
sloped st eeply downw ard and t here were lit t le railway t racks on t he floor. Griphook
whistled and a small cart came hurtling up the tracks toward them. They climbed in -
- Hagrid with some difficulty -- and were off.
   At first t hey j ust hurt led t hrough a m aze of t w ist ing passages. Harry t ried t o
rem em ber, left , right , right , left , m iddle fork, right , left , but it was im possible. The
rattling cart seemed to know its own way, because Griphook wasn't steering.
    Harry's eyes st ung as t he cold air rushed past t hem , but he kept t hem w ide open.
Once, he t hought he saw a burst of fire at t he end of a passage and t wist ed around
t o see if it was a dragon, but t oo lat e -- t hey plunged even deeper, passing an
underground lake where huge st alact it es and st alagm it es grew from t he ceiling and
floor.
    " I never know," Harry called t o Hagrid over t he noise of t he cart , " what 's t he
difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite?"
   " St alagm it e's got an 'm ' in it ," said Hagrid. " An' don' ask m e quest ions j ust now, I
think I'm gonna be sick."
   He did look very green, and when t he cart st opped at last beside a sm all door in
the passage wall, Hagrid got out and had t o lean against t he wall t o st op his knees
from trembling.
   Griphook unlocked t he door. A lot of green sm oke cam e billowing out , and as it
cleared, Harry gasped. I nside were m ounds of gold coins. Colum ns of silver. Heaps
of little bronze Knuts.
   "All yours," smiled Hagrid.
    All Harry's -- it was incredible. The Dursleys couldn't have known about t his or
t hey'd have had it from him fast er t han blinking. How oft en had t hey com plained
how m uch Harry cost t hem t o keep? And all t he t im e t here had been a sm all fort une
belonging to him, buried deep under London.
   Hagrid helped Harry pile some of it into a bag.
   " The gold ones are Galleons," he explained. " Sevent een silver Sickles t o a Galleon
and twenty- nine Knuts to a Sickle, it's easy enough. Right, that should be enough fer
a couple o' t erm s, we'll keep t he rest safe for yeh." He t urned t o 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 gat hering speed. The air becam e colder
and colder as t hey hurt led round t ight corners. They w ent rat t ling over an
underground ravine, and Harry leaned over t he side t o t ry t o see what was dow n 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.
   " St and back," said Griphook im port ant ly. He st roked t he door gent ly wit h one of
his long fingers and it simply melted away.
  " I f anyone but a Gringot t s goblin t ried t hat , t hey'd be sucked t hrough t he door
and trapped in there," said Griphook.
   "How often do you check to see if anyone's inside?" Harry asked.
   "About once every ten years," said Griphook with a rather nasty grin.
   Som et hing really ext raordinary had t o be inside t his t op securit y vault , Harry was
sure, and he leaned forward eagerly, expect ing t o see fabulous j ew els at t he very
least -- but at first he t hought it was em pt y. Then he not iced a grubby lit t le package
wrapped up in brown paper lying on t he floor. Hagrid picked it up and t ucked it deep
inside his coat. Harry longed to know what it was, but knew better than to ask.
  " Com e on, back in t his infernal cart , and don't t alk t o m e on t he way back, it 's
best if I keep me mouth shut," said Hagrid.


   One wild cart ride later they stood blinking in the sunlight outside 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 m any Galleons t here were t o a pound t o know t hat he was holding m ore
m oney t han he'd had in his whole life -- m ore m oney t han even Dudley had ever
had.
   " Might as well get yer uniform ," said Hagrid, nodding t oward Madam Malkin's
Robes for All Occasions. " List en, Harry, would yeh m ind if I slipped off fer a pick- me-
up in t he Leaky Cauldron? I hat e t hem Gringot t s cart s." He did st ill look a bit sick, so
Harry entered Madam Malkin's shop alone, feeling nervous.
   Madam Malkin was a squat, smiling witch dressed all in mauve.
  " Hogwart s, dear?" she said, when Harry st art ed t o speak. "Got t he lot here --
another young man being fitted up just now, in fact."
   I n t he back of t he shop, a boy w it h a pale, point ed face was st anding on a
foot st ool while a second wit ch pinned up his long black robes. Madam Malkin st ood
Harry on a stool next to him slipped a long robe over his head, and began to pin it to
the right length.
   "Hello," said the boy, "Hogwarts, too?"
   "Yes," said Harry.
     " My fat her's next door buying m y books and m ot her's up t he st reet looking at
wands," said t he boy. He had a bored, drawling voice. " Then I 'm going t o drag t hem
off t o t ook at racing broom s. I don't see why first years can't have t heir own. I t hink
I'll bully father into getting me one and I'll smuggle it in somehow."
   Harry was strongly reminded of Dudley.
   "Have you got your own broom?" the boy went on.
   " No," said Harry.
   "Play Quidditch at all?"
   "No," Harry said again, wondering what on earth Quidditch could be.
  " I do -- Fat her says it 's a crim e if I 'm not picked t o play for m y house, and I m ust
say, I agree. Know what house you'll be in yet?"
   "No," said Harry, feeling more stupid by the minute.
   "Well, no one really knows unt il t hey get t here, do t hey, but I know I 'll be in
Slyt herin, all our fam ily have been -- im agine being in Hufflepuff, I t hink I 'd leave,
wouldn't you?"
   "Mmm," said Harry, wishing he could say something a bit more interesting.
   " I say, look at t hat m an! " said t he boy suddenly, nodding t oward t he front
window. Hagrid was st anding t here, grinning at Harry and point ing at t wo large ice
creams to show he couldn't come in.
   " That 's Hagrid," said Harry, pleased t o know som et hing t he boy didn't . " He works
at Hogwarts."
   "Oh," said the boy, "I've heard of him. He's a sort of servant, isn't he?"
  " He's t he gam ekeeper," said Harry. He w as liking t he boy less and less every
second.
   " Yes, exact ly. I heard he's a sort of savage -- lives in a hut on t he school grounds
and every now and t hen he get s drunk, t ries t o do m agic, and ends up set t ing fire t o
his bed."
   "I think he's brilliant," said Harry coldly.
  " Do you?" said t he boy, w it h a slight sneer. " Why is he wit h you? Where are your
parents?"
   " They're dead," said Harry short ly. He didn't feel m uch like going int o t he m at t er
with this boy.
  " Oh, sorry," said t he ot her, not sounding sorry at all. " But t hey were our kind,
weren't they?"
   "They were a witch and wizard, if that's what you mean."
    " I really don't t hink t hey should let t he ot her sort in, do you? They're j ust not t he
sam e, t hey've never been brought up t o know our ways. Som e of t hem have never
even heard of Hogw art s unt il t hey get t he let t er, im agine. I t hink t hey 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, m y dear,"
and Harry, not sorry for an excuse t o st op t alking t o t he boy, hopped down from t he
footstool.
   "Well, I'll see you at Hogwarts, I suppose," said the drawling boy.
  Harry was rat her quiet as he at e t he ice cream Hagrid had bought him ( chocolat e
and raspberry with chopped nuts).
   "What's up?" said Hagrid.
  " Not hing," Harry lied. They st opped t o buy parchm ent and quills. Harry cheered
up a bit when he found a bot t le of ink t hat changed color as you wrot e. When t hey
had left the shop, he said, "Hagrid, what's Quidditch?"
  " Blim ey, Harry, I keep forget t in' how lit t le yeh know -- not knowin' about
Quidditch!"
  " Don't m ake m e feel worse," said Harry. He t old Hagrid about t he pale boy in
Madam Malkin's.
   " -- and he said people from Muggle families shouldn't even be allowed in -- "
  " Yer not from a Muggle fam ily. I f he'd known who yeh were -- he's grown up
knowin' yer nam e if his parent s are wizardin' folk. You saw what everyone in t he
Leaky Cauldron was like when t hey saw yeh. Anyway, what does he know about it ,
som e o' t he best I ever saw were t he only ones wit h m agic in 'em in a long line o'
Muggles -- look at yer mum! Look what she had fer a sister!"
   " So what is Quidditch?"
   " I t 's our sport . Wizard sport . I t 's like -- like soccer in t he Muggle world --
everyone follows Quiddit ch -- played up in t he air on broom st icks and t here's four
balls -- sorta hard ter explain the rules."
   "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.
   " Bet t er Hufflepuff t han Slyt herin," said Hagrid darkly. " There's not a single w it ch
or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin. You- Know- Who was one."
   "Vol- , sorry -- You- Know- Who was at Hogwarts?"
   "Years an' years ago," said Hagrid.
   They bought Harry's school books in a shop called Flourish and Blot t s where t he
shelves were st acked t o t he ceiling wit h books as large as paving st ones bound in
leat her; books t he size of post age st am ps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar
sym bols and a few books wit h not hing in t hem at all. Even Dudley, who never read
anyt hing, would have been wild t o get his hands on som e of t hese. Hagrid alm ost
had t o drag Harry aw ay from Curses and Count ercurses ( Bew it ch Your Friends and
Befuddle Your Enem ies wit h t he Lat est 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' t hat 's not a good idea, but yer not t er use m agic in t he Muggle
world except in very special circum st ances," said Hagrid. " An' anyway, yeh couldn'
work any of t hem curses yet , yeh'll need a lot m ore st udy before yeh get t er t hat
level."
     Hagrid wouldn't let Harry buy a solid gold cauldron, eit her ( " I t says pewt er on yer
list ") , but t hey got a nice set of scales for weighing pot ion ingredient s and a
collapsible brass t elescope. Then t hey visit ed t he Apot hecary, which was fascinat ing
enough to make up for its horrible smell, a mixture of bad eggs and rotted cabbages.
Barrels of slim y st uff st ood on t he floor; j ars of herbs, dried root s, and bright
powders lined t he w alls; bundles of feat hers, st rings of fangs, and snarled claw s
hung from the ceiling. While Hagrid asked the man behind the counter for a supply of
som e basic pot ion ingredient s for Harry, Harry him self exam ined silver unicorn horns
at t went y- one Galleons each and m inuscule, glit t ery- black beet le eyes ( five Knut s a
scoop).
   Outside the Apothecary, Hagrid checked Harry's list again.
   " Just yer wand left -- A yeah, an' I still haven't got yeh a birthday present."
   Harry felt himself go red.
   "You don't have to -- "
   "I know I don't have t o. Tell yeh what , I 'll get yer anim al. Not a t oad, t oads w ent
out t a fashion years ago, yeh'd be laughed at -- an' I don' like cat s, t hey m ake m e
sneeze. I 'll get yer an owl. All t he kids want ow ls, t hey're dead useful, carry yer m ail
an' everythin'."
    Twent y m inut es lat er, t hey left Eeylops Owl Em porium , which had been dark and
full of rust ling and flickering, j ewel- bright eyes. Harry now carried a large cage t hat
held a beaut iful snowy owl, fast asleep w it h her head under her w ing. He couldn't
stop stammering his thanks, sounding just like Professor Quirrell.
   " Don' m ent ion it ," said Hagrid gruffly. " Don' expect you've had a lot t a present s
from t hem Dursleys. Just Ollivanders left now -- only place fer wands, Ollivanders,
and yeh gotta have the best wand."
   A magic wand ... this was what Harry had been really looking forward to.
   The last shop w as narrow and shabby. Peeling gold let t ers over t he door read
Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. A single wand lay on a faded
purple cushion in the dusty window.
   A tinkling bell rang somewhere in the depths of the shop as they stepped inside. It
was a t iny place, em pt y except for a single, spindly chair t hat Hagrid sat on t o w ait .
Harry felt strangely as though he had entered a very strict library; he swallowed a lot
of new quest ions t hat had j ust occurred t o him and looked inst ead at t he t housands
of narrow boxes piled neat ly right up t o t he ceiling. For som e reason, t he back of his
neck prickled. The very dust and silence in here seem ed t o t ingle w it h som e 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 m an was st anding before t hem , his wide, pale eyes shining like m oons
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 quart er inches long, swishy, m ade
of willow. Nice wand for charm work."
  Mr. Ollivander m oved closer t o Harry. Harry w ished he would blink. Those silvery
eyes were a bit creepy.
   " Your fat her, on t he ot her hand, favored a m ahogany wand. Eleven inches.
Pliable. A lit t le m ore power and excellent for t ransfigurat ion. Well, I say your fat her
favored it -- it's really the wand that chooses the wizard, of course."
  Mr. Ollivander had com e so close t hat he and Harry were alm ost nose t o nose.
Harry could see himself reflected in those misty eyes.
   "And that's where ... "
   Mr. Ollivander t ouched t he light ning scar on Harry's forehead wit h a long, whit e
finger.
   " I 'm sorry t o say I sold t he w and t hat did it ," he said soft ly. " Thirt een- and- a- half
inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerful, and in t he wrong hands ... w ell, 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, t hat one. But I suppose t hey snapped it in half w hen you got
expelled?" said Mr. Ollivander, suddenly stern.
   "Er -- yes, t hey did, yes," said Hagrid, shuffling his feet . " I 've st ill got t he pieces,
though," he added brightly.
   "But you don't use them?" said Mr. Ollivander sharply.
   " Oh, no, sir," said Hagrid quickly. Harry not iced he gripped his pink um brella very
tightly as he spoke.
   " Hm m m ," said Mr. Ollivander, giving Hagrid a piercing look. " Well, now -- Mr.
Pot t er. Let m e see." He pulled a long t ape m easure wit h silver m arkings 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 m easured Harry from shoulder t o finger, t hen
wrist t o elbow, shoulder t o floor, knee t o arm pit and round his head. As he
m easured, he said, " Every Ollivander wand has a core of a powerful m agical
subst ance, Mr. Pot t er. We use unicorn hairs, phoenix t ail feat hers, and t he
heart st rings of dragons. No t wo Ollivander w ands are t he sam e, j ust as no t wo
unicorns, dragons, or phoenixes are quit e t he sam e. And of course, you will never
get such good results with another wizard's wand."
   Harry suddenly realized t hat t he t ape m easure, which was m easuring bet ween his
nost rils, w as doing t his on it s own. Mr. Ollivander was flit t ing around t he shelves,
taking down boxes.
    " That w ill do," he said, and t he t ape m easure crum pled int o a heap on t he floor.
" Right t hen, Mr. Pot t er. Try t his one. Beechwood and dragon heart st ring. Nine
inches. Nice and flexible. just take it and give it a wave."
  Harry took the wand and (feeling foolish) waved it around a bit, but Mr. Ollivander
snatched it out of his hand almost at once.
   "Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try -- "
   Harry t ried -- but he had hardly raised t he wand when it , t oo, was snat ched 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 t ried. And t ried. He had no idea what Mr. Ollivander was wait ing for. The
pile of t ried wands was m ount ing higher and higher on t he spindly chair, but t he
m ore wands Mr. Ollivander pulled from t he shelves, t he happier he seem ed t o
become.
    " Tricky cust om er, eh? Not t o worry, we'll find t he perfect m at ch here som ewhere -
- I wonder, now -- yes, why not -- unusual combination -- holly and phoenix feather,
eleven inches, nice and supple."
    Harry t ook t he wand. He felt a sudden warm t h in his fingers. He raised t he w and
above his head, brought it swishing down t hrough t he dust y air and a st ream of red
and gold sparks shot from t he end like a firework, t hrowing dancing spot s of light on
t o t he w alls. 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 w and back int o it s box and wrapped it in brown paper, st ill
muttering, "Curious ... curious ...
   "Sorry," said Harry, "but what's curious?"
   Mr. Ollivander fixed Harry with his pale stare.
    " I rem em ber every wand I 've ever sold, Mr. Pot t er. Every single wand. I t so
happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave anot her feat her --
j ust one ot her. I t is very curious indeed t hat you should be dest ined for t his w and
when its brother -- why, its brother gave you that scar."
   Harry swallowed.
   " Yes, t hirt een- and- a- half inches. Yew. Curious indeed how t hese t hings happen.
The wand chooses t he wizard, rem em ber ... I t hink we m ust expect great t hings
from you, Mr. Pot t er ... Aft er all, He- Who- Must- Not- Be- Nam ed did great t hings --
terrible, yes, but great."
   Harry shivered. He wasn't sure he liked Mr. Ollivander t oo m uch. He paid seven
gold Galleons for his wand, and Mr. Ollivander bowed t hem from his shop.


   The lat e aft ernoon sun hung low in t he sky as Harry and Hagrid m ade t heir w ay
back down Diagon Alley, back t hrough t he wall, back t hrough t he Leaky Cauldron,
now em pt y. Harry didn't speak at all as t hey walked down t he road; he didn't even
not ice how m uch people were gawking at t hem on t he Underground, laden as t hey
were wit h all t heir funny- shaped packages, w it h t he snowy ow l asleep in it s cage on
Harry's lap. Up anot her escalat or, out int o Paddingt on st at ion; Harry only realized
where they were when Hagrid tapped him on the shoulder.
   "Got time fer a bite to eat before yer train leaves," he said.
  He bought Harry a ham burger and t hey sat down on plast ic seat s t o eat t hem .
Harry kept looking around. Everything looked so strange, somehow.
   "You all right, Harry? Yer very quiet," said Hagrid.
  Harry wasn't sure he could explain. He'd j ust had t he best birt hday of his life --
and yet -- he chewed his hamburger, trying to find the words.
   " Everyone t hinks I 'm special," he said at last . " All t hose people in t he Leaky
Cauldron, Professor Quirrell, Mr. Ollivander ... but I don't know anything about magic
at all. How can t hey expect great t hings? I 'm fam ous and I can't even rem em ber
what I 'm fam ous for. I don't know what happened when Vol- , sorry -- I m ean, t he
night my parents died."
  Hagrid leaned across t he t able. Behind t he wild beard and eyebrows he wore a
very kind smile.
   " Don' you w orry, Harry. You'll learn fast enough. Everyone st art s at t he beginning
at Hogwart s, you'll be j ust fine. Just be yerself. I know it 's hard. Yeh've been singled
out , an' t hat 's alw ays hard. But yeh'll have a great t im e at Hogwart s -- I did -- st ill
do, 'smatter of fact."
   Hagrid helped Harry on t o t he t rain t hat would t ake him back t o t he Dursleys,
then handed him an envelope.
   " Yer t icket fer Hogwart s, " he said. " First o' Sept em ber -- King's Cross -- it's all on
yer t icket . Any problem s wit h t he Dursleys, send m e a let t er wit h yer owl, she'll
know where to find me ... See yeh soon, Harry."
   The t rain pulled out of t he st at ion. Harry want ed t o wat ch Hagrid unt il he w as out
of sight ; he rose in his seat and pressed his nose against t he window, but he blinked
and Hagrid had gone.




   Chapter Six
   The Journey From Platform Nine And Three- Quarters


   Harry's last m ont h wit h t he Dursleys wasn't fun. True, Dudley was now so scared
of Harry he wouldn't st ay in t he sam e room , while Aunt Pet unia and Uncle Vernon
didn't shut Harry in his cupboard, force him t o do anyt hing, or shout at him -- in
fact , t hey didn't speak t o him at all. Half t errified, half furious, t hey act ed as t hough
any chair w it h Harry in it were em pt y. Alt hough t his was an im provem ent in m any
ways, it did become a bit depressing after a while.
    Harry kept t o his room , wit h his new owl for com pany. He had decided t o call her
Hedwig, a nam e he had found in A Hist ory of Magic. His school books were very
int erest ing. He lay on his bed reading lat e int o t he night , Hedwig swooping in and
out of the open window as she pleased. It was lucky that Aunt Petunia didn't come in
t o vacuum anym ore, because Hedwig kept bringing back dead m ice. Every night
before he went t o sleep, Harry t icked off anot her day on t he piece of paper he had
pinned to the wall, counting down to September the first.
    On t he last day of August he t hought he'd bet t er speak t o his aunt and uncle
about get t ing t o King's Cross st at ion t he next day, so he went dow n t o t he living
room where t hey were wat ching a quiz show on t elevision. He cleared his t hroat t o
let them know he was there, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room.
   "Er -- Uncle Vernon?"
   Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening.
   "Er -- I need to be at King's Cross tomorrow to -- to go to Hogwarts."
   Uncle Vernon grunted again.
   "Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?"
   Grunt. Harry supposed that meant yes.
   "Thank you."
   He was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actually spoke.
  " Funny way t o get t o a w izards' school, t he t rain. Magic carpet s all got punctures,
have they?"
   Harry didn't say anything.
   "Where is this school, anyway?"
  " I don't know," said Harry, realizing t his for t he first t im e. He pulled t he t icket
Hagrid had given him out of his pocket.
   " I j ust t ake t he t rain from plat form nine and t hree- quart ers at eleven o'clock," he
read.
   His aunt and uncle stared.
   "Platform what?"
   "Nine and three- quarters."
  " Don't t alk rubbish," said Uncle Vernon. " There is no plat form nine and t hree-
quarters."
   "It's on my ticket."
  " Barking," said Uncle Vernon, " how ling m ad, t he lot of t hem . You'll see. You j ust
wait . All right , we'll t ake you t o King's Cross. We're going up t o London t om orrow
anyway, or I wouldn't bother."
   "Why are you going to London?" Harry asked, trying to keep things friendly.
     " Taking Dudley t o t he hospit al," growled Uncle Vernon. " Got t o have t hat ruddy
t ail rem oved before he goes t o Sm elt ings."


    Harry woke at five o'clock t he next m orning and was t oo excit ed and nervous t o
go back t o sleep. He got up and pulled on his j eans because he didn't w ant t o walk
int o t he st at ion in his w izard's robes -- he'd change on t he t rain. He checked his
Hogwart s list yet again t o m ake sure he had everyt hing he needed, saw t hat Hedwig
was shut safely in her cage, and then paced the room, waiting for the Dursleys to get
up. Two hours lat er, Harry's huge, heavy t runk had been loaded int o t he 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 t en. Uncle Vernon dum ped Harry's t runk
ont o a cart and wheeled it int o t he st at ion for him . Harry t hought t his w as st rangely
kind unt il Uncle Vernon st opped dead, facing t he plat form s wit h a nast y grin on his
face.
  " Well, t here you are, boy. Plat form nine -- plat form t en. Your plat form should be
somewhere in the middle, but they don't seem to have built it yet, do they?"
   He was quit e right , of course. There was a big plast ic num ber nine over one
plat form and a big plast ic num ber t en over t he one next t o it , and in t he m iddle,
nothing at all.
    " Have a good t erm ," said Uncle Vernon wit h an even nast ier sm ile. He left wit hout
anot her word. Harry t urned and saw t he Dursleys drive away. All t hree of t hem w ere
laughing. Harry's m out h went rat her dry. What on eart h was he going t o do? He was
st art ing t o at t ract a lot of funny looks, because of Hedwig. He'd have t o ask
someone.
   He st opped a passing guard, but didn't dare m ent ion plat form nine and t hree-
quart ers. The guard had never heard of Hogwart s and when Harry couldn't even t ell
him what part of t he count ry it was in, he st art ed t o get annoyed, as t hough Harry
was being stupid on purpose. Getting desperate, Harry asked for the train that left at
eleven o'clock, but t he guard said t here wasn't one. I n t he end t he guard st rode
aw ay, m ut t ering about t im e wast ers. Harry w as now t rying hard not t o panic.
According t o t he large clock over t he arrivals board, he had t en m inut es left t o get
on t he t rain t o Hogwart s and he had no idea how t o do it ; he w as st randed in t he
m iddle of a st at ion wit h a t runk he could hardly lift , a pocket full of wizard m oney,
and a large owl.
    Hagrid m ust have forgot t en t o t ell him som et hing you had t o do, like t apping t he
t hird brick on t he left t o get int o Diagon Alley. He wondered if he should get out his
wand and start tapping the ticket inspector's stand between platforms nine and ten.
  At t hat m om ent a group of people passed j ust behind him and he caught a few
words of what they were saying.
   " -- packed with Muggles, of course -- "
   Harry swung round. The speaker was a plum p wom an who was t alking t o 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 owl.
   Heart ham m ering, Harry pushed his cart aft er t hem . They st opped and so did he,
just near enough to hear what they were saying.
   "Now, what's the platform number?" said the boys' mother.
  " Nine and t hree- quart ers! " piped a sm all girl, also red- headed, who was holding
her hand, "Mom, can't I go ... "
   "You're not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy, you go first."
   What looked like t he oldest boy m arched t oward plat form s nine and t en. Harry
wat ched, careful not t o blink in case he m issed it -- but j ust as t he boy reached t he
dividing barrier bet ween t he t wo plat form s, a large crow d of t ourist s cam e swarm ing
in front of him and by t he t im e t he last backpack had cleared away, t he boy had
vanished.
   "Fred, you next," the plump woman said.
   " I 'm not Fred, I 'm George," said t he boy. " Honest ly, wom an, you call yourself our
m ot her? Can't you tell I'm George?"
   "Sorry, George, dear."
    " Only j oking, I am Fred," said t he boy, and off he went . His t win called aft er him
t o hurry up, and he m ust have done so, because a second lat er, he had gone -- but
how had he done it?
   Now t he t hird brot her was w alking briskly t oward t he barrier he w as alm ost t here
-- and then, quite suddenly, he wasn't anywhere.
   There was nothing else for it.
   "Excuse me," Harry said to the plump woman.
   "Hello, dear," she said. "First time at Hogwarts? Ron's new, too."
   She point ed at t he last and youngest of her sons. He was t all, t hin, and gangling,
with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose.
   "Yes," said Harry. "The thing is -- the thing is, I don't know how to -- "
   "How to get onto the platform?" she said kindly, and Harry nodded.
    " Not t o worry," she said. " All you have t o do is walk st raight at t he barrier
bet ween plat form s nine and t en. Don't st op and don't be scared you'll crash int o it ,
t hat 's very im port ant . Best do it at a bit of a run if you're nervous. Go on, go now
before Ron."
   "Er -- okay," said Harry.
   He pushed his trolley around and stared at the barrier. It looked very solid.
    He st art ed t o walk t oward it . People j ost led him on t heir way t o plat form s nine
and t en. Harry walked m ore quickly. He was going t o sm ash right int o t hat barrier
and t hen he'd be in t rouble -- leaning forward on his cart , he broke int o a heavy run
-- the barrier was coming nearer and nearer -- he wouldn't be able to stop -- the cart
was out of control -- he was a foot away -- he closed his eyes ready for the crash --
   I t didn't com e ... he kept on running ... he opened his eyes. A scarlet st eam
engine was wait ing next t o a plat form packed wit h people. A sign overhead said
Hogwart s' Express, eleven o'clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought - iron
archway where t he barrier had been, wit h t he w ords Plat form Nine and Three-
Quarters on it, He had done it.
   Sm oke from t he engine drift ed over t he heads of t he chat t ering crow d, w hile cat s
of every color wound here and t here bet ween t heir legs. Owls hoot ed t o one anot her
in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks.
    The first few carriages were already packed wit h st udent s, som e hanging out of
t he window t o t alk t o t heir fam ilies, som e fight ing over seat s. Harry pushed his cart
off down t he plat form in search of an em pt y 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 lift ed t he lid of a box in his arm s, and t he people around him shrieked
and yelled as something inside poked out a long, hairy leg.
    Harry pressed on t hrough t he crowd unt il he found an em pt y com part m ent near
t he end of t he t rain. He put Hedwig inside first and t hen st art ed t o shove and heave
his t runk t oward t he t rain door. He t ried t o lift it up t he st eps but could hardly raise
one end and twice he dropped it painfully on his foot.
  " Want a hand?" I t was one of t he red- haired t wins he'd followed t hrough t he
barrier.
   "Yes, please," Harry panted.
  " Oy, Fred! C'm ere and help! "
  Wit h t he t wins' help, Harry's t runk was at last t ucked aw ay in a corner of t he
compartment.
  "Thanks," said Harry, pushing his sweaty hair out of his eyes.
  "What's that?" said one of the twins suddenly, pointing at Harry's lightning scar.
  "Blimey," said the other twin. "Are you -- ?"
  "He is," said the first twin. "Aren't you?" he added to Harry.
  "What?" said Harry.
  " Harry Potter." chorused the twins.
  "Oh, him," said Harry. "I mean, yes, I am."
    The t wo boys gawked at him , and Harry felt him self t urning red. Then, t o his
relief, a voice came floating in through the train's open door.
  "Fred? George? Are you there?"
  "Coming, Mom."
  With a last look at Harry, the twins hopped off the train.
   Harry sat down next t o t he window where, half hidden, he could wat ch t he red-
haired family on the platform and hear what they were saying. Their mother had just
taken out her handkerchief.
  "Ron, you've got something on your nose."
   The youngest boy t ried t o j erk out of t he way, but she grabbed him and began
rubbing the end of his nose.
  " Mom -- geroff" He wriggled free.
  "Aaah, has ickle Ronnie got somefink on his nosie?" said one of the twins.
  "Shut up," said Ron.
  "Where's Percy?" said their mother.
  "He's coming now."
   The oldest boy cam e st riding int o sight . He had already changed int o his billowing
black Hogwart s robes, and Harry not iced a shiny silver badge on his chest w it h t he
letter P on it.
  "Can't st ay long, Mot her," he said. " I 'm up front , t he prefect s have got t wo
compartments to themselves -- "
    "Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?" said one of the twins, with an air of great surprise.
" You should have said som et hing, w e had no idea."
  "Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it," said the other twin.
"Once -- "
  "Or twice -- "
  "A minute -- "
  "All summer -- "
  "Oh, shut up," said Percy the Prefect.
   "How come Percy gets new robes, anyway?" said one of the twins.
  " Because he's a prefect," said t heir m ot her fondly. " All right , dear, w ell, have a
good term -- send me an owl when you get there."
   She kissed Percy on the cheek and he left. Then she turned to the twins.
  " Now , you t wo -- t his year, you behave yourselves. I f I get one m ore ow l t elling
me you've -- you've blown up a toilet or -- "
   "Blown up a toilet? We've never blown up a toilet."
   "Great idea though, thanks, Mom."
   "It's not funny. And look after Ron."
   "Don't worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us."
  "Shut up," said Ron again. He was almost as tall as the twins already and his nose
was still pink where his mother had rubbed it.
   "Hey, Mom, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?"
   Harry leaned back quickly so t hey couldn't see him looking.
   " You know t hat black- haired boy who was near us in t he st at ion? Know who he
is?"
   "Who?"
   " Harry Potter!"
   Harry heard the little girl's voice.
   "Oh, Mom, can I go on the train and see him, Mom, eh please ... "
   " You've already seen him , Ginny, and t he poor boy isn't som et hing you goggle at
in a zoo. Is he really, Fred? How do you know?"
   "Asked him. Saw his scar. It's really there -- like lightning."
  "Poor dear -- no wonder he was alone, I wondered. He was ever so polite when he
asked how to get onto the platform."
   "Never mind that, do you think he remembers what You- Know- Who looks like?"
   Their mother suddenly became very stern.
   " I forbid you t o ask him , Fred. No, don't you dare. As t hough he needs rem inding
of that on his first day at school."
   "All right, keep your hair on."
   A whistle sounded.
   " Hurry up! " t heir m ot her said, and t he t hree boys clam bered ont o t he t rain. They
leaned out of t he window for her t o kiss t hem good- bye, and t heir younger sist er
began to cry.
   " Don't , Ginny, we'll send you loads of owls."
   "We'll send you a Hogwarts' toilet seat."
   " George!"
   "Only joking, Mom."
   The train began to move. Harry saw the boys' mother waving and their sister, half
laughing, half crying, running t o keep up wit h t he t rain unt il it gat hered t oo m uch
speed, then she fell back and waved.
  Harry wat ched t he girl and her m ot her disappear as t he t rain rounded t he corner.
Houses flashed past t he window. Harry felt a great leap of excit em ent . He didn't
know what he was going t o -- but it had t o be bet t er t han what he was leaving
behind.
  The door of the compartment slid open and the youngest redheaded boy came in.
  " Anyone sit t ing t here?"   he   asked,   point ing   at   t he   seat   opposit e   Harry.
"Everywhere else is full."
   Harry shook his head and t he boy sat dow n. He glanced at Harry and t hen looked
quickly out of t he window, pret ending he hadn't looked. Harry saw he st ill had a
black mark on his nose.
  "Hey, Ron."
  The twins were back.
   " List en, we're going dow n t he m iddle of t he t rain -- Lee Jordan's got a giant
tarantula down there."
  "Right," mumbled Ron.
  " Harry," said t he ot her t w in, " did we int roduce ourselves? Fred and George
Weasley. And this is Ron, our brother. See you later, then."
   " Bye," said Harry and Ron. The t wins slid t he com part m ent door shut behind
them.
  "Are you really Harry Potter?" Ron blurted out.
  Harry nodded.
  "Oh -- w ell, I t hought it m ight be one of Fred and George's j okes," said Ron. " And
have you really got -- you know ... "
  He pointed at Harry's forehead.
  Harry pulled back his bangs to show the lightning scar. Ron stared.
  "So that's where You- Know- Who -- ?"
  "Yes," said Harry, "but I can't remember it."
  "Nothing?" said Ron eagerly.
  "Well -- I remember a lot of green light, but nothing else."
  " Wow ," said Ron. He sat and st ared at Harry for a few m om ent s, t hen, as t hough
he had suddenly realized w hat he was doing, he looked quickly out of t he window
again.
  " Are all your fam ily wizards?" asked Harry, who found Ron j ust as int erest ing as
Ron found him.
  "Er -- Yes, I t hink so," said Ron. " I t hink Mom 's got a second cousin who's an
accountant, but we never talk about him."
  "So you must know loads of magic already."
   The Weasleys were clearly one of t hose old w izarding fam ilies t he pale boy in
Diagon Alley had talked about.
   "I heard you went to live with Muggles," said Ron. "What are they like?"
    "Horrible -- well, not all of t hem . My aunt and uncle and cousin are, t hough. Wish
I'd had three wizard brothers."
   " Five," said Ron. For som e reason, he was looking gloom y. " I 'm t he sixt h in our
fam ily t o go t o Hogwart s. You could say I 've got a lot t o live up t o. Bill and Charlie
have already left -- Bill was head boy and Charlie was capt ain of Quiddit ch. Now
Percy's a prefect . Fred and George m ess around a lot , but t hey st ill get really good
m arks and everyone t hinks t hey're really funny. Everyone expect s m e t o do as well
as t he ot hers, but if I do, it 's no big deal, because t hey did it first . You never get
anyt hing new, eit her, wit h five brot hers. I 've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand,
and Percy's old rat."
   Ron reached inside his jacket and pulled out a fat gray rat, which was asleep.
   "His name's Scabbers and he's useless, he hardly ever wakes up. Percy got an owl
from m y dad for being m ade a prefect , but t hey couldn't aff -- I m ean, I got
Scabbers instead."
  Ron's ears went pink. He seem ed t o t hink he'd said t oo m uch, because he went
back to staring out of the window.
    Harry didn't t hink t here was anyt hing wrong wit h not being able t o afford an owl.
Aft er all, he'd never had any m oney in his life unt il a m ont h ago, and he t old Ron so,
all about having t o wear Dudley's old clot hes and never get t ing proper birt hday
presents. This seemed to cheer Ron up.
  " ... and unt il Hagrid t old m e, I didn't know anyt hing about being a w izard or
about my parents or Voldemort -- "
   Ron gasped.
   "What?" said Harry.
  " You said You- Know- Who's nam e! " said Ron, sounding bot h shocked and
impressed. "I'd have thought you, of all people -- "
  " I 'm not t rying t o be brave or anyt hing, saying t he nam e," said Harry, "I j ust
never knew you shouldn't . See what I m ean? I 've got loads t o learn ... I bet ," he
added, voicing for the first time 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 com e from Muggle fam ilies and t hey
learn quick enough."
  While t hey had been t alking, t he t rain had carried t hem out of London. Now t hey
were speeding past fields full of cows and sheep. They were quiet for a t im e,
watching the fields and lanes flick past.
  Around half past t w elve t here was a great clat t ering out side in t he corridor and a
smiling, dimpled woman slid back their door and said, "Anything off the cart, dears?"
  Harry, who hadn't had any breakfast , leapt t o his feet , but Ron's ears went pink
again and he m ut t ered t hat he'd brought sandwiches. Harry w ent out int o t he
corridor.
  He had never had any m oney for candy wit h t he Dursleys, and now t hat he had
pocket s rat t ling wit h gold and silver he was ready t o buy as m any Mars Bar s as he
could carry -- but t he wom an didn't have Mars Bars. What she did have were Bet t ie
Bott 's Every Flavor Beans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum , Chocolat e Frogs. Pum pkin
Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry
had never seen in his life. Not want ing t o m iss anyt hing, he got som e of everyt hing
and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts.
  Ron st ared as Harry brought it all back in t o t he com part m ent and t ipped it ont o
an empty seat.
   "Hungry, are you?"
   "Starving," said Harry, taking a large bite out of a pumpkin pasty.
    Ron had t aken out a lum py package and unw rapped it . There w ere four
sandw iches inside. He pulled one of t hem apart and said, " She always forget s I don't
like corned beef.."
   "Swap you for one of these," said Harry, holding up a pasty. "Go on -- "
  " You don't want t his, it 's all dry," said Ron. " She hasn't got m uch t im e," he added
quickly, "you know, with five of us."
   " Go on, have a past y," said Harry, who had never had anyt hing t o share before
or, indeed, anyone t o share it wit h. I t w as a nice feeling, sit t ing t here wit h Ron,
eat ing t heir w ay t hrough all Harry's past ies, cakes, and candies ( t he sandw iches lay
forgotten).
    " What are t hese?" Harry asked Ron, holding up a pack of Chocolat e Frogs.
" They're not really frogs, are t hey?" He was st art ing t o feel t hat not hing would
surprise him.
   "No," said Ron. "But see what the card is. I'm missing Agrippa."
   "What?"
   " Oh, of course, you wouldn't know -- Chocolat e Frogs have cards, inside t hem ,
you know, t o collect -- fam ous wit ches and wizards. I 've got about five hundred, but
I haven't got Agrippa or Ptolemy."
   Harry unwrapped his Chocolat e Frog and picked up t he card. I t show ed a m an's
face. He wore half- m oon glasses, had a long, crooked nose, and flowing silver hair,
beard, and mustache. Underneath the picture was the name Albus Dumbledore.
   "So this is Dumbledore!" said Harry.
  " Don't t ell m e you'd never heard of Dum bledore! " 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 m any t he great est wizard of m odern t im es, Dum bledore is
part icularly fam ous for his defeat of t he dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for t he
discovery of t he t welve uses of dragon's blood, and his work on alchem y wit h his
part ner, Nicolas Flam el. Professor Dum bledore enj oys cham ber m usic and t enpin
bowling.
   Harry t urned t he card back over and saw , t o his ast onishm ent , t hat Dum bledore's
face had disappeared.
   "He's gone!"
    " Well, you can't expect him t o 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 st art
collecting."
   Ron's eyes st rayed t o t he pile of Chocolat e Frogs wait ing t o be unwrapped.
  " Help yourself," said Harry. " But in, you know, t he Muggle w orld, people j ust st ay
put in photos."
   "Do they? What, they don't move at all?" Ron sounded amazed. "Weird!"
   Harry st ared as Dum bledore sidled back int o t he pict ure on his card and gave him
a sm all sm ile. Ron was m ore int erest ed in eat ing t he frogs t han looking at t he
Fam ous Wit ches and Wizards cards, but Harry couldn't keep his eyes off t hem . Soon
he had not only Dum bledore and Morgana, but Hengist of Woodcroft , Alberic
Grunnion, Circe, Paracelsus, and Merlin. He finally t ore his eyes away from t he
Druidess Cliodna, who was scrat ching her nose, t o open a bag of Bert ie Bot t 's Every
Flavor Beans.
   " You want t o be careful wit h t hose," Ron warned Harry. " When t hey say every
flavor, t hey mean every flavor -- you know, you get all t he ordinary ones like
chocolat e and pepperm int and m arm alade, but t hen you can get spinach and liver
and tripe. George reckons he had a booger- flavored one once."
   Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bit into a corner.
   "Bleaaargh -- see? Sprouts."
   They had a good t im e eat ing t he Every Flavor Beans. Harry got t oast , coconut ,
baked bean, strawberry, curry, grass, coffee, sardine, and was even brave enough to
nibble t he end off a funny gray one Ron wouldn't t ouch, which t urned out t o be
pepper.
  The count ryside now flying past t he window was becom ing wilder. The neat fields
had gone. Now there were woods, twisting rivers, and dark green hills.
  There was a knock on t he door of t heir com part m ent and t he 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 t hey shook t heir heads, he wailed, " I 've lost him ! He keeps get t ing aw ay
from me!"
   "He'll turn up," said Harry.
   " Yes," said the boy miserably. "Well, if you see him ... "
   He left.
  " Don't know w hy he's so bot hered," said Ron. " I f I 'd brought a t oad 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 m ight have died and you w ouldn't know t he difference," said Ron in disgust .
" I t ried t o t urn him yellow yest erday t o m ake him m ore int erest ing, but t he spell
didn't work. I'll show you, look ... "
  He rum m aged around in his t runk and pulled out a very battered- looking wand. I t
was chipped in places and something white was glinting at the end.
   "Unicorn hair's nearly poking out. Anyway -- "
   He had j ust raised his wand w hen t he com part m ent 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 t oad? Neville's lost one," she said. She had a bossy sort of
voice, lots of bushy brown hair, and rather large front teeth.
    " We've already t old him we haven't seen it ," said Ron, but t he 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 gray and fast asleep.
     " Are you sure t hat 's a real spell?" said t he girl. " Well, it 's not very good, is it ? I 've
t ried a few sim ple spells j ust for pract ice and it 's all worked for m e. Nobody in m y
family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever
so pleased, of cour se, I m ean, it 's t he very best school of wit chcraft t here is, I 've
heard -- I 've learned all our course books by heart , of course, I j ust hope it w ill be
enough -- I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"
   She said all this very fast.
   Harry looked at Ron, and was relieved t o see by his st unned face t hat he hadn't
learned all the course books by heart either.
   "I'm Ron Weasley," Ron muttered.
   "Harry Potter," said Harry.
   " Are you really?" said Herm ione. " I know all about you, of course -- I got a few
ext ra books, for background reading, and you're in Modern Magical Hist ory and The
Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Event s of t he Twent iet h Cent ury."
   "Am I?" said Harry, feeling dazed.
   " Goodness, didn't you know, I 'd have found out everyt hing I could if it was m e,"
said Herm ione. " Do eit her 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 t he best ; I hear Dum bledore
him self was in it , but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn't be t oo bad ... Anyway, we'd
bet t er go and look for Neville's t oad. You t wo had bet t er change, you know , I expect
we'll be there soon."
   And she left, taking the toadless boy with her.
   " What ever house I 'm in, I hope she's not in it ," said Ron. He t hrew 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 seem ed t o be set t ling on him again. " Mom and Dad
were in it , t oo. I don't know what t hey'll say if I 'm not . I don't suppose Ravenclaw
would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin."
   "That's the house Vol- , I mean, You- Know- Who was in?"
   "Yeah," said Ron. He flopped back into his seat, looking depressed.
    " You know, I t hink t he ends of Scabbers' whiskers are a bit light er," said Harry,
t rying t o t ake Ron's m ind off houses. " So what do your oldest brot hers do now t hat
they've left, anyway?"
   Harry was wondering what a wizard did once he'd finished school.
   " Charlie's in Rom ania st udying dragons, and Bill's in Africa doing som et hing for
Gringot t s," said Ron. " Did you hear about Gringot t s? I t 's been all over t he Daily
Prophet, but I don't suppose you get that with the Muggles -- someone tried to rob a
high security vault."
   Harry stared.
   "Really? What happened to them?"
    " Not hing, t hat 's why it 's such big news. They haven't been caught . My dad says it
m ust 've been a powerful Dark w izard t o get round Gringot t s, but t hey don't t hink
t hey t ook anyt hing, t hat 's what 's odd. 'Course, everyone get s scared when
something like this happens in case You- Know- Who's behind it."
    Harry t urned t his news over in his m ind. He was st art ing t o get a prickle of fear
every t im e You- Know- Who w as m ent ioned. He supposed t his w as all part of ent ering
t he m agical world, but it had been a lot m ore com fort able saying " Voldem ort "
without worrying.
   " What 's your Quiddit ch t eam ?" Ron asked.
   "Er -- I don't know any." Harry confessed.
   "What!" Ron looked dumbfounded. "Oh, you wait, it's the best game in the world -
- " And he was off, explaining all about t he four balls and t he posit ions of t he seven
players, describing fam ous gam es he'd been t o wit h his brot hers and t he broom st ick
he'd like t o get if he had t he m oney. He was j ust t aking Harry t hrough t he finer
point s of t he gam e when t he com part m ent door slid open yet again, but it wasn't
Neville the toadless boy, or Hermione Granger this time.
   Three boys ent ered, and Harry recognized t he m iddle one at once: it was t he pale
boy from Madam Malkin's robe shop. He was looking at Harry w it h a lot m ore
interest than he'd shown back in Diagon Alley.
  " I s it t rue?" he said. " They're saying all down t he t rain t hat Harry Pot t er's in t his
compartment. So it's you, is it?"
  " Yes," said Harry. He w as looking at t he ot her boys. Bot h of t hem w ere t hickset
and looked extremely mean. Standing on either side of the pale boy, they looked like
bodyguards.
  " Oh, t his is Crabbe and t his is Goyle," said t he pale boy carelessly, not icing where
Harry was looking. "And my name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy."
   Ron gave a slight cough, which m ight have been hiding a snigger. Draco Malfoy
looked at him.
    " Think m y nam e's funny, do you? No need t o ask who you are. My fat her t old m e
all t he Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and m ore children t han t hey can afford."
   He t urned back t o Harry. " You'll soon find out som e wizarding fam ilies are m uch
bet t er t han ot hers, Pot t er. You don't want t o go m aking friends wit h t he wrong sort .
I can help you there."
   He held out his hand to shake Harry's, but Harry didn't take it.
   "I think I can tell who the wrong sort are for myself, thanks," he said coolly.
   Draco Malfoy didn't go red, but a pink tinge appeared in his pale cheeks.
    " I 'd be careful if I were you, Pot t er," he said slow ly. " Unless you're a bit polit er
you'll go t he sam e way as your parent s. They didn't know what was good for t hem ,
eit her. You hang around wit h riffraff like t he Weasleys and t hat Hagrid, and it 'll rub
off on you."
   Both Harry and Ron stood up.
   "Say that again," Ron said, his face as red as his hair.
   "Oh, you're going to fight us, are you?" Malfoy sneered.
  " Unless you get out now," said Harry, m ore bravely t han he felt , because Crabbe
and Goyle were a lot bigger than him or Ron.
  " But we don't feet like leaving, do w e, boys? We've eat en all our food and you st ill
seem to have some."
  Goyle reached t oward t he Chocolat e Frogs next t o Ron -- Ron leapt forward, but
before he'd so much as touched Goyle, Goyle let out a horrible yell.
   Scabbers t he rat w as hanging off his finger, sharp lit t le t eet h sunk deep int o
Goyle's knuckle -- Crabbe and Malfoy backed away as Goyle swung Scabbers round
and round, how ling, and w hen Scabbers finally flew off and hit t he w indow, all t hree
of t hem disappeared at once. Perhaps t hey t hought t here were m ore rat s lurking
am ong t he sw eet s, or perhaps t hey'd heard foot st eps, because a second lat er,
Hermione Granger had come in.
  "What has been going on?" she said, looking at t he sw eet s all over t he floor and
Ron picking up Scabbers by his tail.
  " I t hink he's been knocked out ," Ron said t o Harry. He looked closer at Scabbers.
"No -- I don't believe it -- he's gone back to sleep."
   And so he had.
   "You've met Malfoy before?"
   Harry explained about their meeting in Diagon Alley.
   " I 've heard of his fam ily," said Ron darkly. " They were som e of t he first t o com e
back t o our side aft er You- Know- Who disappeared. Said t hey'd been bewit ched. My
dad doesn't believe it . He says Malfoy's fat her didn't need an excuse t o go over t o
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 to the front to ask
t he conduct or, and he says we're nearly t here. You haven't been fight ing, have you?
You'll be in trouble before we even get there!"
   " Scabbers has been fight ing, not us," said Ron, scowling at her. " Would you m ind
leaving while we change?"
   " All right -- I only cam e in here because people out side are behaving very
childishly, racing up and down t he corridors," said Herm ione 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 m ount ains and forest s under a deep purple sky. The t rain did seem t o
be slowing down.
   He and Ron t ook off t heir j acket s and pulled on t heir long black robes. Ron's were
a bit short for him, you could see his sneakers underneath them.
    A voice echoed t hrough t he t rain: " We will be reaching Hogwart s in five m inut es'
t im e. Please leave your luggage on t he t rain, it will be t aken t o t he school
separately."
   Harry's st om ach lurched w it h nerves and Ron, he saw, looked pale under his
freckles. They cram m ed t heir pocket s w it h t he last of t he sweet s and j oined t he
crowd thronging the corridor.
    The t rain slowed right dow n and finally st opped. People pushed t heir w ay t oward
t he door and out on t o a t iny, dark plat form . Harry shivered in t he cold night air.
Then a lam p cam e bobbing over t he heads of t he st udent s, 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'm on, follow m e -- any m ore firs' years? Mind yer st ep, now! Firs' years follow
me!"
    Slipping and st um bling, t hey follow ed Hagrid down what seem ed t o be a st eep,
narrow pat h. I t was so dark on eit her side of t hem t hat Harry t hought t here m ust be
t hick t rees t here. Nobody spoke m uch. Neville, t he boy w ho kept losing his t oad,
sniffed once or twice.
   " Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwart s in a sec," Hagrid called over his shoulder,
"jus' round this bend here."
   There was a loud "Oooooh!"
  The narrow pat h had opened suddenly ont o t he edge of a great black lake.
Perched at op a high m ount ain on t he ot her side, it s window s sparkling in t he starry
sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
    " No m ore'n four t o a boat ! " Hagrid called, point ing t o a fleet of lit t le boat s sit t ing
in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and
Hermione.
  " Everyone in?" shout ed Hagrid, w ho had a boat t o him self. " Right t hen --
FORWARD!"
    And t he fleet of lit t le boat s m oved off all at once, gliding across t he lake, w hich
was as sm oot h as glass. Everyone w as silent , st aring up at t he great cast le
overhead. It towered over them as they sailed nearer and nearer to the cliff on which
it stood.
  " Heads down! " yelled Hagrid as t he first boat s reached t he cliff; t hey all bent t heir
heads and t he lit t le boat s carried t hem t hrough a curt ain of ivy t hat hid a wide
opening in t he cliff face. They were carried along a dark t unnel, which seem ed t o be
t aking t hem right underneat h t he cast le, unt il t hey reached a kind of underground
harbor, where they clambered out onto rocks and pebbles.
  " Oy, you t here! I s t his your t oad?" said Hagrid, who w as checking t he boat s as
people climbed out of them.
   " Trevor! " cried Neville blissfully, holding out his hands. Then t hey clam bered up a
passagew ay in t he rock aft er Hagrid's lam p, com ing out at last ont o sm oot h, dam p
grass right in the shadow of the castle.
  They w alked up a flight of st one st eps and crow ded around t he huge, oak front
door.
   "Everyone here? You there, still got yer toad?"
   Hagrid raised a gigantic fist and knocked three times on the castle door.




   Chapter Seven
   The Sorting Hat


   The    door swung open at once. A t all, black- haired w it ch in em erald- green robes
st ood t here. She had a very st ern face and Harry's first t hought was t hat t his was
not someone to cross.
   " The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," said Hagrid.
   "Thank you, Hagrid. I will take them from here."
    She pulled t he door w ide. The ent rance hall w as so big you could have fit t he
whole of t he Dursleys' house in it . The st one walls were lit wit h flam ing t orches like
t he ones at Gringot t s, t he ceiling w as t oo high t o m ake out , and a m agnificent
marble staircase facing them led to the upper floors.
   They followed Professor McGonagall across t he flagged st one floor. Harry could
hear t he drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway t o t he right -- t he rest of t he
school m ust already be here -- but Professor McGonagall showed t he first years int o
a sm all, em pt y cham ber off t he hall. They crowded in, st anding rat her closer
together than they would usually have done, peering about nervously.
    " Welcom e t o Hogwart s," said Professor McGonagall. " The st art - of- t erm banquet
will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted
int o your houses. The Sort ing is a very im port ant cerem ony because, while you are
here, your house will be som et hing like your fam ily wit hin Hogwart s. You will have
classes wit h t he rest of your house, sleep in your house dorm it ory, and spend free
time in your house common room.
   " The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slyt herin. Each
house has it s ow n noble hist ory and each has produced out st anding wit ches and
wizards. While you are at Hogwart s, your t rium phs will earn your house point s, while
any rulebreaking will lose house point s. At t he end of t he year, t he house wit h t he
m ost point s is awarded t he house cup, a great honor. I hope each of you w ill be a
credit to whichever house becomes yours.
   " The Sort ing Cerem ony w ill t ake place in a few m inut es in front of t he rest of t he
school. I suggest you all sm art en yourselves up as m uch as you can while you are
waiting."
    Her eyes lingered for a m om ent on Neville's cloak, which was fast ened under his
left ear, and on Ron's smudged nose. Harry nervously tried to flatten his hair.
  " I shall ret urn w hen we are ready for you," said Professor McGonagall. " Please
wait quietly."
   She left the chamber. Harry swallowed.
   " How exact ly do t hey sort us int o houses?" he asked Ron.
   "Some sort of test, I think. Fred said it hurts a lot, but I think he was joking."
    Harry's heart gave a horrible j olt . A t est ? I n front of t he whole school? But he
didn't know any magic yet -- what on earth would he have to do? He hadn't expected
som et hing like t his t he m om ent t hey arrived. He looked around anxiously and saw
t hat everyone else looked t errified, t oo. No one was t alking m uch except Herm ione
Granger, who was whispering very fast about all t he spells she'd learned and
wondering which one she'd need. Harry t ried hard not t o list en t o her. He'd never
been m ore nervous, never, not even when he'd had t o t ake a school report hom e t o
t he Dursleys saying t hat he'd som ehow t urned his t eacher's wig blue. He kept his
eyes fixed on t he door. Any second now, Professor McGonagall would com e back and
lead him to his doom.
  Then som et hing happened t hat m ade him j um p about a foot in t he air -- several
people behind him screamed.
   "What the -- ?"
    He gasped. So did t he people around him . About t went y ghost s had j ust st ream ed
t hrough t he back wall. Pearly- whit e and slight ly t ransparent , t hey glided across t he
room t alking t o one anot her and hardly glancing at t he first years. They seem ed t o
be arguing. What looked like a fat lit t le m onk was saying: " Forgive and forget , I say,
we ought to give him a second chance -- "
    " My dear Friar, haven't w e given Peeves all t he chances he deserves? He gives us
all a bad nam e 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 first years.
   Nobody answered.
  " New st udent s! " said t he Fat Friar, sm iling around at t hem . " About t o be Sort ed, I
suppose?"
   A few people nodded mutely.
   "Hope to see you in Hufflepuff!" said the Friar. "My old house, you know."
   " Move along now," said a sharp voice. " The Sort ing Cerem ony's about t o st art ."
   Professor McGonagall had ret urned. One by one, t he ghost s float ed aw ay t hrough
the opposite wall.
   "Now, form a line," Professor McGonagall told the first years, "and follow me."
  Feeling oddly as t hough his legs had t urned t o lead, Harry got int o 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 im agined such a st range and splendid place. I t w as lit by
t housands and t housands of candles t hat were float ing in m idair over four long
t ables, where t he rest of t he st udent s were sit t ing. These t ables were laid wit h
glit t ering golden plat es and goblet s. At t he t op of t he hall w as anot her long t able
where t he t eachers were sit t ing. Professor McGonagall led t he first years up here, so
t hat t hey cam e t o a halt in a line facing t he ot her st udent s, wit h t he t eachers behind
t hem . The hundreds of faces st aring at t hem looked like pale lant erns in t he
flickering candlelight . Dot t ed here and t here am ong t he st udent s, t he ghost s shone
m ist y silver. Mainly t o avoid all t he st aring eyes, Harry looked upward and saw a
velvety black ceiling dotted with stars. He heard Hermione whisper, "Its bewitched to
look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History."
   I t was hard t o believe t here was a ceiling t here at all, and t hat t he Great Hall
didn't simply open on to the heavens.
   Harry quickly looked dow n again as Professor McGonagall silent ly placed a four-
legged st ool in front of t he first years. On t op of t he st ool she put a point ed wizard's
hat . This hat was pat ched and frayed and ext rem ely dirt y. Aunt Pet unia wouldn't
have let it in the house.
   Maybe t hey had t o t ry and get a rabbit out of it , Harry t hought wildly, t hat
seem ed t he sort of t hing -- not icing t hat everyone in t he hall was now st aring at t he
hat, he stared at it, too. For a few seconds, there was complete silence. Then the hat
twitched. A rip near the brim opened wide like a mouth -- and the hat began to sing:


   "Oh, you may not think I'm pretty,
   But don't judge on what you see,
   I'll eat myself if you can find
   A smarter hat than me.
   You can keep your bowlers black,
   Your top hats sleek and tall,
   For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
   And I can cap them all.
   There's nothing hidden in your head
   The Sorting Hat can't see,
   So try me on and I will tell you
   Where you ought to be.
   You might belong in Gryffindor,
   Where dwell the brave at heart,
   Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
   Set Gryffindors apart;
   You might belong in Hufflepuff,
   Where they are just and loyal,
   Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
   And unafraid of toil;
   Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw, if you've a ready mind,
   Where those of wit and learning,
   Will always find their kind;
   Or perhaps in Slytherin
   You'll make your real friends,
   Those cunning folk use any means
   To achieve their ends.
   So put me on! Don't be afraid!
   And don't get in a flap!
   You're in safe hands ( t hough 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.
  " So w e've j ust got t o t ry on t he hat ! " Ron whispered t o Harry. " I 'll kill Fred, he
was going on about wrestling a troll."
   Harry sm iled weakly. Yes, t rying on t he hat was a lot bet t er t han having t o do a
spell, but he did wish t hey could have t ried it on wit hout everyone wat ching. The hat
seem ed t o be asking rat her a lot ; Harry didn't feel brave or quick- w it t ed or any of it
at t he m om ent . I f only t he hat had m ent ioned a house for people w ho felt a bit
queasy, that would have been the one for him.
   Professor McGonagall now stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment.
  " When I call your nam e, you will put on t he hat and sit on t he st ool t o be sort ed,"
she said. "Abbott, Hannah!"
    A pink- faced girl wit h blonde pigt ails st um bled out of line, put on t he hat , which
fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. A moments pause --
   "HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.
  The t able on t he right cheered and clapped as Hannah w ent t o sit down at t he
Hufflepuff table. Harry saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her.
   "Bones, Susan!"
  " HUFFLEPUFF! " shout ed t he hat again, and Susan scut t led off t o sit next t o
Hannah.
   "Boot, Terry!"
   " RAVENCLAW! "
  The t able second from t he left clapped t his t im e; several Ravenclaws st ood up t o
shake hands with Terry as he joined them.
   " Brocklehurst , Mandy" went t o Ravenclaw t oo, but "Brown, Lavender" becam e t he
first new Gryffindor, and t he t able on t he far left exploded wit h cheers; Harry could
see Ron's twin brothers catcalling.
    "Bulstrode, Millicent" then became a Slytherin. Perhaps it was Harry's imagination,
aft er all he'd heard about Slyt herin, but he t hought t hey looked like an unpleasant
lot.
  He was starting to feel definitely sick now. He remembered being picked for teams
during gym at his old school. He had always been last t o be chosen, not because he
was no good, but because no one want ed Dudley t o t hink t hey liked him .
   "Finch- Fletchley, Justin!"
   "HUFFLEPUFF!"
    Som et im es, Harry not iced, t he hat shout ed out t he house at once, but at ot hers it
t ook a lit t le while t o decide. "Finnigan, Seam us," t he sandy- haired boy next t o Harry
in t he line, sat on t he st ool for alm ost a whole m inut e before t he hat declared him a
Gryffindor.
   "Granger, Hermione!"
   Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head.
   "GRYFFINDOR!" shouted the hat. Ron groaned.
   A horrible t hought st ruck Harry, as horrible t hought s always do when you're very
nervous. What if he w asn't chosen at all? What if he j ust sat t here wit h t he 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 Longbot t om , t he boy who kept losing his t oad, w as called, he fell
over on his way t o t he st ool. The hat t ook a long t im e t o decide wit h Neville. When it
finally shout ed, " GRYFFI NDOR," Neville ran off st ill wearing it , and had t o j og back
amid gales of laughter to give it to "MacDougal, Morag."
    Malfoy swaggered forward when his nam e was called and got his wish at once:
t he hat had barely t ouched his head when it scream ed, " SLYTHERI N! "
   Malfoy went to join his friends Crabbe and Goyle, looking pleased with himself.
   There weren't m any people left now . " Moon" ... , " Not t " ... , " Parkinson" ... , t hen
a pair of t win girls, " Pat il" and " Pat il" ... , t hen " Perks, Sally- Anne" ... , and t hen, at
last --
   "Potter, Harry!"
  As Harry st epped forward, whispers suddenly broke out like lit t le hissing fires all
over the hall.
   " Potter, did she say?"
   " The Harry Potter?"
   The last t hing Harry saw before t he hat dropped over his eyes was t he hall full of
people craning t o get a good look at him . Next second he was looking at t he black
inside of the hat. He waited.
   " Hm m ," said a sm all voice in his ear. "Difficult . Very difficult . Plent y of courage, I
see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, A my goodness, yes -- and a nice thirst to
prove yourself, now that's interesting ... So where shall I put you?"
   Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
  " Not Slyt herin, eh?" said t he sm all voice. " Are you sure? You could be great , you
know, it 's all here in your head, and Slyt herin w ill help you on t he way t o great ness,
no doubt about that -- no? Well, if you're sure -- better be GRYFFINDOR!"
   Harry heard t he hat shout t he last word t o t he whole hall. He t ook off t he hat and
walked shakily t oward t he Gryffindor t able. He was so relieved t o have been chosen
and not put in Slyt herin, he hardly not iced t hat he was get t ing t he loudest cheer yet .
Percy t he Prefect got up and shook his hand vigorously, while t he Weasley t wins
yelled, " We got Pot t er! We got Pot t er! " Harry sat down opposit e t he ghost in t he ruff
he'd seen earlier. The ghost pat t ed his arm , giving Harry t he 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 t he t hum bs up. Harry grinned back. And t here, in t he
cent er of t he High Table, in a large gold chair, sat Albus Dum bledore. Harry
recognized him at once from t he card he'd got t en out of t he Chocolat e Frog on t he
t rain. Dum bledore's silver hair w as t he only t hing in t he whole hall t hat shone as
bright ly as t he ghost s. Harry spot t ed Professor Quirrell, t oo, t he nervous young m an
from the Leaky Cauldron. He was looking very peculiar in a large purple turban.
   And now t here were only t hree people left t o be sort ed. "Thom as, Dean," a Black
boy even taller than Ron, joined Harry at the Gryffindor table. "Turpin, Lisa," became
a Ravenclaw and t hen it was Ron's t urn. He w as pale green by now. Harry crossed
his fingers under the table and a second later the hat had shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!"
   Harry clapped loudly wit h t he rest as Ron collapsed int o t he chair next t o him .
   " Well done, Ron, excellent ," said Percy Weasley pom pously across Harry as
" Zabini, Blaise," w as m ade a Slyt herin. Professor McGonagall rolled up her scroll and
took the Sorting Hat away.
   Harry looked dow n at his em pt y gold plat e. He had only j ust realized how hungry
he was. The pumpkin pasties seemed ages ago.
   Albus Dum bledore had got t en t o his feet . He was beam ing at t he st udent s, his
arm s opened wide, as if not hing could have pleased him m ore t han t o see t hem all
there.
  " Welcom e," he said. "Welcom e t o a new year at Hogwart s! Before w e begin our
banquet , I would like t o say a few words. And here t hey are: Nit w it ! Blubber!
Oddment! Tweak!
   "Thank you!"
   He sat back down. Everybody clapped and cheered. Harry didn't know whet her t o
laugh or not.
   "Is he -- a bit mad?" he asked Percy uncertainly.
  " Mad?" said Percy airily. " He's a genius! Best wizard in t he world! But he is a bit
mad, yes. Potatoes, Harry?"
   Harry's m out h fell open. The dishes in front of him w ere now piled wit h food. He
had never seen so m any t hings he liked t o eat on one t able: roast beef, roast
chicken, pork chops and lam b chops, sausages, bacon and st eak, boiled pot at oes,
roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some
strange reason, peppermint humbugs.
   The Dursleys had never exact ly st arved Harry, but he'd never been allowed t o eat
as m uch as he liked. Dudley had always t aken anyt hing t hat Harry really want ed,
even if I t m ade him sick. Harry piled his plat e wit h a bit of everyt hing except t he
peppermints and began to eat. It was all delicious.
   " That does look good," said t he ghost in t he ruff sadly, wat ching 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 m iss it . I don't t hink I 've int roduced m yself? Sir Nicholas de
Mimsy- Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."
  " I know who you are! " said Ron suddenly. "My brot hers t old m e about you --
you're Nearly Headless Nick!"
  " I would prefer you t o call m e Sir Nicholas de Mim sy -- " t he ghost began st iffly,
but sandy- haired Seam us Finnigan int errupt ed.
   " Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?"
  Sir Nicholas looked ext rem ely m iffed, as if t heir lit t le chat wasn't going at all t he
way he wanted.
    "Like this," he said irrit ably. He seized his left ear and pulled. His w hole head
swung off his neck and fell ont o his shoulder as if it w as on a hinge. Som eone had
obviously t ried t o behead him , but not done it properly. Looking pleased at t he
st unned looks on t heir faces, Nearly Headless Nick flipped his head back ont o his
neck, coughed, and said, " So -- new Gryffindors! I hope you're going t o help us win
t he house cham pionship t his year? Gryffindors have never gone so long wit hout
winning. Slyt herins have got t he cup six years in a row! The Bloody Bar on's
becoming almost unbearable -- he's the Slytherin ghost."
   Harry looked over at t he Slyt herin t able and saw a horrible ghost sit t ing t here,
wit h blank st aring eyes, a gaunt face, and robes st ained w it h silver blood. He was
right next t o Malfoy who, Harry was pleased t o see, didn't look t oo pleased w it h t he
seating arrangements.
   "How did he get covered in blood?" asked Seamus with great interest.
   "I've never asked," said Nearly Headless Nick delicately.
    When everyone had eat en as m uch as t hey could, t he rem ains of t he food faded
from t he plat es, leaving t hem sparkling clean as before. A m om ent lat er t he desserts
appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could t hink of, apple pies, t reacle
t art s, chocolat e eclairs and j am doughnut s, t rifle, st rawberries, Jell- O, rice pudding
...
   As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to their families.
  " I 'm half- and- half," said Seam us. " Me dad's a Muggle. Mom didn't t ell 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, m y gran brought m e up and she's a w it ch," said Neville, " but t he fam ily
t hought I was all- Muggle for ages. My Great Uncle Algie kept t rying t o cat ch m e off
m y guard and force som e m agic out of m e -- he pushed m e off t he end of Blackpool
pier once, I nearly drowned -- but not hing happened unt il I was eight . Great Uncle
Algie cam e round for dinner, and he was hanging m e out of an upst airs window by
t he ankles when m y Great Aunt ie Enid offered him a m eringue and he accident ally
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 t heir
faces w hen I got in here -- t hey t hought I m ight not be m agic enough t o com e, you
see. Great Uncle Algie was so pleased he bought me my toad."
   On Harry's ot her side, Percy Weasley and Herm ione were t alking about lessons ( " I
do hope they start right away, there's so much to learn, I'm particularly interested in
Transfigurat ion, you know , t urning som et hing int o som et hing else, of course, it 's
supposed t o be very difficult -- " ; "You'll be st art ing sm all, j ust m at ches int o needles
and that sort of thing -- ").
    Harry, who was st art ing t o feel w arm and sleepy, looked up at t he High Table
again. Hagrid was drinking deeply from his goblet . Professor McGonagall w as t alking
t o Professor Dum bledore. Professor Quirrell, in his absurd t urban, was t alking t o a
teacher with greasy black hair, a hooked nose, and sallow skin.
   I t happened very suddenly. The hook- nosed t eacher looked past Quirrell's t urban
straight int o Harry's eyes -- and a sharp, hot pain shot across t he scar on Harry's
forehead.
   "Ouch!" Harry clapped a hand to his head.
   "What is it?" asked Percy.
   "N- nothing."
  The pain had gone as quickly as it had com e. Harder t o shake off was t he feeling
Harry had gotten from the teacher's look -- a feeling that he didn't like Harry at all.
   "Who's that teacher talking to Professor Quirrell?" he asked Percy.
    "Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you? No wonder he's looking so nervous, that's
Professor Snape. He t eaches Pot ions, but he doesn't want t o -- everyone know s he's
aft er Quirrell's j ob. Knows an aw ful lot about t he Dark Art s, Snape."
   Harry watched Snape for a while, but Snape didn't look at him again.
  At last , t he dessert s t oo disappeared, and Professor Dum bledore got t o his feet
again. The hall fell silent.
   "Ahem -- just a few more words now that we are all fed and watered. I have a few
start- of- term notices to give you.
  " First years should not e t hat t he forest on t he grounds is forbidden t o 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 Weasley twins.
  " I have also been asked by Mr. Filch, t he caret aker, t o rem ind you all t hat no
magic should be used between classes in the corridors.
   " Quiddit ch t rials will be held in t he second week of t he t erm . Anyone int erest ed in
playing for their house teams should contact Madam Hooch.
  " And finally, I m ust t ell you t hat t his year, t he t hird- floor corridor on t he right -
hand side is out of bounds t o everyone who does not w ish t o 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 Dum bledore. " I t 's odd, because he usually
gives us a reason why we're not allowed t o go som ew here -- t he 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 t o bed, let us sing t he school song! " cried Dum bledore.
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 t he t ables and t wist ed
itself, snakelike, into words.
   "Everyone pick their favorite tune," said Dumbledore, "and off we go!"
   And the school bellowed:


   "Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
   Teach us something please,
   Whether we be old and bald
   Or young with scabby knees,
   Our heads could do with filling
   With some interesting stuff,
   For now they're bare and full of air,
   Dead flies and bits of fluff,
   So teach us things worth knowing,
   Bring back what we've forgot , j ust do your best , we'll do t he rest ,
   And learn until our brains all rot."


   Everybody finished t he song at different t im es. At last , only t he Weasley t wins
were left singing along t o a very slow funeral m arch. Dum bledore conduct ed t heir
last few lines wit h his w and and w hen t hey had finished, he was one of t hose who
clapped loudest.
  " Ah, m usic," he said, w iping his eyes. " A m agic beyond all we do here! And now,
bedtime. Off you trot!"
    The Gryffindor first years followed Percy t hrough t he chat t ering crowds, out of t he
Great Hall, and up t he m arble st aircase. 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
t he people in t he port rait s along t he corridors whispered and point ed as t hey passed,
or t hat t wice Percy led t hem t hrough doorways hidden behind sliding panels and
hanging t apest ries. They clim bed m ore st aircases, yawning and dragging t heir feet ,
and Harry was just wondering how much farther they had to go when they came to a
sudden halt.
   A bundle of walking sticks was floating in midair ahead of them, and as Percy took
a step toward them they started throwing themselves at him.
   " Peeves," Percy whispered t o t he first years. " A polt ergeist ." He raised his voice,
"Peeves -- show yourself."
   A loud, rude sound, like the air being let out of a balloon, answered.
   "Do you want me to go to the Bloody Baron?"
  There was a pop, and a lit t le m an wit h w icked, dark eyes and a w ide m out h
appeared, floating cross- legged in the air, clutching the walking sticks.
   "Oooooooh!" he said, with an evil cackle. "Ickle Firsties! What fun!"
   He swooped suddenly at them. They all ducked.
   "Go away, Peeves, or the Baron'll hear about this, I mean it!" barked Percy.
  Peeves stuck out his tongue and vanished, dropping the walking sticks on Neville's
head. They heard him zooming away, rattling coats of armor as he passed.
  " You w ant t o wat ch out for Peeves," said Percy, as t hey set off again. " The Bloody
Baron's t he only one who can cont rol him , he won't even list en t o us prefect s. Here
we are."
   At t he very end of t he corridor hung a port rait of a very fat wom an in a pink silk
dress.
   "Password?" she said.
   " Caput Draconis," said Percy, and t he port rait swung forward t o reveal a round
hole in the wall. They all scrambled through it -- Neville needed a leg up -- and found
themselves in t he Gryffindor com m on room , a cozy, round room full of squashy
armchairs.
    Percy direct ed t he girls t hrough one door t o t heir dorm it ory and t he boys t hrough
another. At the top of a spiral staircase -- they were obviously in one of the towers --
t hey found t heir beds at last : five four- post ers hung wit h deep red, velvet curt ains.
Their t runks had already been brought up. Too t ired t o t alk m uch, t hey pulled on
their pajamas and fell into bed.
  " Great food, isn't it ?" Ron m ut t ered t o Harry t hrough t he hangings. " Get off,
Scabbers! He's chewing my sheets."
   Harry was going t o ask Ron if he'd had any of t he t reacle t art , but he fell asleep
almost at once.
     Perhaps Harry had eat en a bit t oo m uch, because he had a very st range dream .
He was w earing Professor Quirrell's t urban, which kept t alking t o him , t elling him he
m ust t ransfer t o Slyt herin at once, because it w as his dest iny. Harry t old t he t urban
he didn't want to be in Slytherin; it got heavier and heavier; he tried to pull it off but
it tightened painfully -- and there was Malfoy, laughing at him as he struggled with it
-- then Malfoy turned into the hook- nosed teacher, Snape, whose laugh became high
and cold -- there was a burst of green light and Harry woke, sweating and shaking.
  He rolled over and fell asleep again, and when he woke next day, he didn't
remember the dream at all.




   Chapter Eight
   The Potions Master
   "There, look."
   "Where?"
   "Next to the tall kid with the red hair."
   "Wearing the glasses?"
   "Did you see his face?"
   "Did you see his scar?"
   Whispers followed Harry from t he m om ent he left his dorm it ory t he next day.
People lining up out side classroom s st ood on t ipt oe t o 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, ricket y ones; som e t hat led som ewhere different on a Friday; som e wit h a
vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors
t hat w ouldn't open unless you asked polit ely, or t ickled t hem in exact ly t he right
place, and doors t hat weren't really doors at all, but solid w alls j ust pret ending. I t
was also very hard t o rem em ber where anyt hing w as, because it all seem ed t o m ove
around a lot . The people in t he port rait s kept going t o visit each ot her, and Harry
was sure the coats of armor could walk.
   The ghost s didn't help, eit her. I t was always a nast y shock when one of t hem
glided suddenly t hrough a door you w ere t rying t o open. Nearly Headless Nick was
always happy t o point new Gryffindors in t he right direct ion, but Peeves t he
Poltergeist was worth two locked doors and a trick staircase if you met him when you
were lat e for class. He would drop wast epaper basket s on your head, pull rugs from
under your feet , pelt you wit h bit s of chalk, or sneak up behind you, invisible, grab
your nose, and screech, " GOT YOUR CONK! "
    Even worse t han Peeves, if t hat was possible, was t he caret aker, Argus Filch.
Harry and Ron m anaged t o get on t he wrong side of him on t heir very first m orning.
Filch found them trying to force their way through a door that unluckily turned out to
be t he ent rance t o t he out - of- bounds corridor on t he t hird floor. He wouldn't believe
t hey were lost , was sure t hey were t rying t o break int o it on purpose, and was
t hreat ening t o lock t hem in t he dungeons when t hey were rescued by Professor
Quirrell, who was passing.
   Filch owned a cat called Mrs. Norris, a scrawny, dust - colored creat ure wit h
bulging, lam p like eyes j ust like Filch's. She pat rolled t he corridors alone. Break a
rule in front of her, put j ust one t oe out of line, and she'd whisk off for Filch, who'd
appear, wheezing, t wo seconds lat er. Filch knew t he secret passagew ays of t he
school bet t er t han anyone ( except perhaps t he Weasley t wins) and could pop up as
suddenly as any of t he ghost s. The st udent s all hat ed him , and it was t he dearest
ambition of many to give Mrs. Norris a good kick.
    And t hen, once you had m anaged t o find t hem , t here were t he classes
t hem selves. There was a lot m ore t o m agic, as Harry quickly found out , t han w aving
your wand and saying a few funny words.
   They had t o st udy t he night skies t hrough t heir t elescopes every Wednesday at
m idnight and learn t he nam es of different st ars and t he m ovem ent s of t he planet s.
Three t im es a w eek t hey went out t o t he greenhouses behind t he cast le t o st udy
Herbology, with a dumpy little witch called Professor Sprout, where they learned how
t o t ake care of all t he st range plant s and fungi, and found out what t hey were used
for. Easily the most boring class was History of Magic, which was the only one taught
by a ghost . Professor Binns had been very old indeed when he had fallen asleep in
front of the staff room fire and got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind
him . Binns droned on and on w hile t hey scribbled down nam es and dat es, and got
Emetic the Evil and Uric the Oddball mixed up.
   Professor Flit w ick, t he Charm s t eacher, w as a t iny lit t le wizard who had t o st and
on a pile of books to see over his desk. At the start of their first class he took the roll
call, and when he reached Harry's nam e he gave an excit ed squeak and t oppled out
of sight.
   Professor McGonagall was again different . Harry had been quit e right t o t hink she
wasn't a t eacher t o cross. St rict and clever, she gave t hem a t alking- t o t he m om ent
they sat down in her first class.
   " Transfigurat ion is som e of t he m ost com plex and dangerous m agic you will learn
at Hogwart s," she said. " Anyone m essing around in m y class will leave and not com e
back. You have been warned."
   Then she changed her desk int o a pig and back again. They were all very
im pressed and couldn't wait t o get st art ed, but soon realized t hey weren't going t o
be changing t he furnit ure int o anim als for a long t im e. Aft er t aking a lot of
com plicat ed not es, t hey were each given a m at ch and st art ed t rying t o t urn it int o a
needle. By t he end of t he lesson, only Herm ione Granger had m ade any difference t o
her m at ch; Professor McGonagall showed t he class how it had gone all silver and
pointy and gave Hermione a rare smile.
    The class everyone had really been looking forward t o was Defense Against t he
Dark Art s, but Quirrell's lessons t urned out t o be a bit of a j oke. His classroom
smelled strongly of garlic, which everyone said was to ward off a vampire he'd met in
Rom ania and was afraid would be com ing back t o get him one of t hese days. His
t urban, he t old t hem , had been given t o him by an African prince as a t hank- you for
get t ing rid of a t roublesom e zom bie, but t hey weren't sure t hey believed t his st ory.
For one t hing, when Seam us Finnigan asked eagerly t o hear how Quirrell had fought
off the zombie, Quirrell went pink and started talking about the weather; for another,
t hey had not iced t hat a funny sm ell hung around t he t urban, and t he Weasley t wins
insist ed t hat it w as st uffed full of garlic as well, so t hat Quirrell was prot ect ed
wherever he went.
    Harry w as very relieved t o find out t hat he w asn't m iles behind everyone else.
Lots of people had come from Muggle families and, like him, hadn't had any idea that
t hey were w it ches and wizards. There was so m uch t o learn t hat 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 Pot ions wit h t he Slyt herins," said Ron. " Snape's Head of Slyt herin House.
They say he always favors them -- we'll be able to see if it's true."
  " Wish McGonagall favored us," said Harry. Professor McGonagall was head of
Gryffindor House, but it hadn't st opped her from giving t hem a huge pile of
homework the day before.
    Just then, the mail arrived. Harry had gotten used to this by now, but it had given
him a bit of a shock on t he first m orning, w hen about a hundred owls had suddenly
st ream ed int o t he Great Hall during breakfast , circling t he t ables unt il t hey saw t heir
owners, and dropping letters and packages onto their laps.
    Hedwig hadn't brought Harry anyt hing so far. She som et im es flew in t o nibble his
ear and have a bit of t oast before going off t o sleep in t he owlery w it h t he ot her
school owls. This m orning, however, she flut t ered down bet w een t he m arm alade and
t he sugar bowl and dropped a not e ont o Harry's plat e. Harry t ore it open at once. I t
said, in a very untidy scrawl:


   Dear Harry,
  I know you get Friday aft ernoons off, so would you like t o com e and have a cup of t ea w it h
me around three?
   I want to hear all about your first week. Send us an answer back with Hedwig.
   Hagrid



  Harry borrowed Ron's quill, scribbled Yes, please, see you lat er on t he back of t he
note, and sent Hedwig off again.
  I t was lucky t hat Harry had t ea wit h Hagrid t o look forward t o, because t he
Potions lesson turned out to be the worst thing that had happened to him so far.
   At t he st art - of- t erm banquet , Harry had got t en t he idea t hat Professor Snape
disliked him . By t he end of t he first Pot ions lesson, he knew he'd been wrong. Snape
didn't dislike Harry -- he hated him.
   Pot ions lessons t ook place down in one of t he dungeons. I t was colder here t han
up in t he m ain cast le, and would have been quit e creepy enough wit hout t he pickled
animals floating in glass jars all around the walls.
  Snape, like Flit wick, st art ed t he class by t aking t he roll call, and like Flit wick, he
paused at Harry's name.
   "Ah, Yes," he said softly, "Harry Potter. Our new -- celebrity."
  Draco Malfoy and his friends Crabbe and Goyle sniggered behind t heir hands.
Snape finished calling t he nam es and looked up at t he class. His eyes were black like
Hagrid's, but t hey had none of Hagrid's warm t h. They were cold and em pt y and
made you think of dark tunnels.
   " You are here t o learn t he subt le science and exact art of pot ionm aking," he
began. He spoke in barely m ore t han a whisper, but t hey caught every word -- like
Professor McGonagall, Snape had t he gift of keeping a class silent wit hout 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 underst and t he beaut y of t he soft ly sim m ering cauldron
wit h it s shim m ering fum es, t he delicat e power of liquids t hat creep t hrough hum an
veins, bewit ching t he m ind, ensnaring t he senses ... I can t each you how t o bot t le
fam e, brew glory, even st opper deat h -- if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads
as I usually have to teach."
   More silence followed t his lit t le speech. Harry and Ron exchanged looks wit h
raised eyebrows. Herm ione Granger was on t he edge of her seat and looked
desperate to start proving that she wasn't a dunderhead.
  " Pot t er! " said Snape suddenly. "What would I get if I added powdered root of
asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
   Powdered root of what t o 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?"
   Herm ione st ret ched her hand as high int o t he air as it would go wit hout her
leaving her seat , but Harry didn't have t he faint est idea what a bezoar was. He t ried
not to look at Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, who were shaking with laughter.
  "I don't know, sir."
   " Thought you wouldn't open a book before com ing, eh, Pot t er?" Harry forced
him self t o keep looking st raight int o t hose cold eyes. He had looked t hrough his
books at t he Dursleys', but did Snape expect him t o rem em ber everyt hing in One
Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi?
  Snape was still ignoring Hermione's quivering hand.
  "What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"
  At this, Hermione stood up, her hand stretching toward the dungeon ceiling.
   " I don't know," said Harry quiet ly. " I t hink Herm ione does, t hough, why don't you
try her?"
  A few people laughed; Harry caught Seam us's eye, and Seam us w inked. Snape,
however, was not pleased.
   " Sit down," he snapped at Herm ione. " For your inform at ion, Pot t er, asphodel and
worm wood m ake a sleeping pot ion so powerful it is known as t he Draught of Living
Deat h. A bezoar is a st one t aken from t he st om ach of a goat and it w ill 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 rum m aging for quills and parchm ent . Over t he noise, Snape
said, "And a point will be taken from Gryffindor House for your cheek, Potter."
   Things didn't im prove for t he Gryffindors as t he Pot ions lesson cont inued. Snape
put t hem all int o pairs and set t hem t o m ixing up a sim ple pot ion t o cure boils. He
swept around in his long black cloak, w at ching t hem weigh dried net t les and crush
snake fangs, crit icizing alm ost everyone except Malfoy, whom he seem ed t o like. He
was j ust t elling everyone t o look at t he perfect way Malfoy had st ewed his horned
slugs when clouds of acid green sm oke and a loud hissing filled t he dungeon. Neville
had som ehow m anaged t o m elt Seam us's cauldron int o a t w ist ed blob, and t heir
pot ion w as seeping across t he st one floor, burning holes in people's shoes. Wit hin
seconds, t he whole class was st anding on t heir st ools w hile Neville, who had been
drenched in t he pot ion when t he cauldron collapsed, m oaned in pain as angry red
boils sprang up all over his arms and legs.
  " I diot boy! " snarled Snape, clearing t he spilled pot ion away wit h one wave of his
wand. " I suppose you added t he porcupine quills before t aking t he cauldron off t he
fire?"
   Neville whimpered as boils started to pop up all over his nose.
  " Take him up t o t he hospit al wing," Snape spat at Seam us. Then he rounded on
Harry and Ron, who had been working next to Neville.
  "You -- Pot t er -- why didn't you t ell him not t o add t he quills? Thought he'd m ake
you look good if he got it wrong, did you? That 's anot her point you've lost for
Gryffindor."
  This was so unfair t hat Harry opened his m out h t o argue, but Ron kicked him
behind their cauldron.
   " Don't push it ," he m ut t ered, " I 've heard Snape can t urn very nast y."
   As t hey clim bed t he st eps out of t he dungeon an hour lat er, Harry's m ind was
racing and his spirit s were low. He'd lost t wo point s for Gryffindor in his very first
week -- why did Snape hate him so much?
  " Cheer up," said Ron, " Snape's always t aking point s 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 sm all w ooden house on t he edge of t he forbidden forest . A crossbow and a
pair of galoshes were outside the front door.
  When Harry knocked t hey heard a frant ic scrabbling from inside and several
booming barks. Then Hagrid's voice rang out, saying, "Back, Fang -- back."
   Hagrid's big, hairy face appeared in the crack as he pulled the door open.
   "Hang on," he said. "Back, Fang."
  He let t hem in, st ruggling t o keep a hold on t he collar of an enorm ous black
boarhound.
   There was only one room inside. Ham s and pheasant s were hanging from t he
ceiling, a copper ket t le was boiling on t he open fire, and in t he corner st ood a
massive bed with a patchwork quilt over it.
   " Make yerselves at hom e," said Hagrid, let t ing go of Fang, who bounded st raight
at Ron and st art ed licking his ears. Like Hagrid, Fang w as clearly not as fierce as he
looked.
  "This is Ron," Harry told Hagrid, who was pouring boiling water into a large teapot
and putting rock cakes onto a plate.
  "Another Weasley, eh?" said Hagrid, glancing at Ron's freckles. I spent half me life
chasin' yer twin brothers away from the forest."
    The rock cakes were shapeless lum ps wit h raisins t hat alm ost brok e t heir t eet h,
but Harry and Ron pret ended t o be enj oying t hem as t hey t old Hagrid all about t heir
first lessons. Fang rested his head on Harry's knee and drooled all over his robes.
   Harry and Ron were delighted to hear Hagrid call Filch "that old git."
  "An' as fer that cat, Mrs. Norris, I'd like ter introduce her to Fang sometime. D'yeh
know, every t im e I go up t er t he school, she follows m e everyw here? Can't get rid of
her -- Filch puts her up to it."
  Harry t old Hagrid about Snape's lesson. Hagrid, like Ron, t old Harry not t o w orry
about it, that Snape liked hardly any of the students.
   "But he seemed to really hate me."
   " Rubbish! " said Hagrid. " Why should he?"
   Yet Harry couldn't help t hinking t hat Hagrid didn't quit e m eet his eyes w hen he
said that.
   " How 's yer brot her Charlie?" Hagrid asked Ron. " I liked him a lot -- great wit h
animals."
  Harry w ondered if Hagrid had changed t he subj ect on purpose. While Ron t old
Hagrid all about Charlie's work wit h dragons, Harry picked up a piece of paper t hat
was lying on the table under the tea cozy. It was a cutting from the Daily Prophet:


   GRI NGOTTS BREAK- IN LATEST
   I nvest igat ions cont inue int o t he break- in at Gringot t s on 31 July, widely believed
to be the work of Dark wizards or witches unknown.
  Gringot t s goblins t oday insist ed t hat not hing had been t aken. The vault t hat was
searched had in fact been emptied the same day.
  " But we're not t elling you what was in t here, so keep your noses out if you know
what's good for you," said a Gringotts spokesgoblin this afternoon.


   Harry rem em bered Ron t elling him on t he t rain t hat som eone had t ried t o rob
Gringotts, but Ron hadn't mentioned the date.
  " Hagrid! " said Harry, " t hat Gringot t s break- in happened on m y birt hday! I t
might've been happening while we were there!"
    There was no doubt about it , Hagrid definit ely didn't m eet Harry's eyes t his t im e.
He grunt ed and offered him anot her rock cake. Harry read t he st ory again. The vault
t hat was searched had in fact been em pt ied earlier t hat sam e day. Hagrid had
em pt ied vault seven hundred and t hirt een, if you could call it em pt ying, t aking out
that grubby little package. Had that been what the thieves were looking for?
    As Harry and Ron walked back t o t he cast le for dinner, t heir pocket s weighed
down wit h rock cakes t hey'd been t oo polit e t o refuse, Harry t hought t hat none of
t he lessons he'd had so far had given him as m uch t o t hink about as t ea w it h Hagrid.
Had Hagrid collect ed t hat package j ust in t im e? Where was it now? And did Hagrid
know something about Snape that he didn't want to tell Harry?




   Chapter Nine
   The Midnight Duel


   H  arry had never believed he would m eet a boy he hat ed m ore t han Dudley, but
t hat was before he m et Draco Malfoy. St ill, first - year Gryffindors only had Pot ions
with the Slytherins, so they didn't have to put up with Malfoy much. Or at least, they
didn't unt il t hey spot t ed a not ice pinned up in t he Gryffindor com m on room t hat
m ade t hem all groan. Flying lessons w ould be st art ing on Thursday -- and Gryffindor
and Slytherin would be learning together.
  " Typical," said Harry darkly. " Just what I alw ays want ed. To m ake a fool of m yself
on a broomstick in front of Malfoy."
   He had been looking forward to learning to fly more than anything else.
   " You don't know t hat you'll m ake a fool of yourself," said Ron reasonably.
" Anyw ay, I know Malfoy's always going on about how good he is at Quiddit ch, but I
bet that's all talk."
    Malfoy cert ainly did t alk about flying a lot . He com plained loudly about first years
never get t ing on t he house Quiddit ch t eam s and t old long, boast ful st ories t hat
always seem ed t o end wit h him narrowly escaping Muggles in helicopt ers. He wasn't
t he only one, t hough: t he way Seam us Finnigan t old it , he'd spent m ost of his
childhood zoom ing around t he count ryside on his broom st ick. Even Ron would t ell
anyone who'd list en about t he t im e he'd alm ost hit a hang glider on Charlie's old
broom . Everyone from wizarding fam ilies t alked about Quiddit ch const ant ly. Ron had
already had a big argum ent wit h Dean Thom as, who shared t heir dorm it ory, about
soccer. Ron couldn't see what was exciting about a game with only one ball where no
one was allowed t o fly. Harry had caught Ron prodding Dean's post er of West Ham
soccer team, trying to make the players move.
   Neville had never been on a broom st ick in his life, because his grandm ot her had
never let him near one. Privat ely, Harry felt she'd had good reason, because Neville
m anaged t o have an ext raordinary num ber of accident s even wit h bot h feet on t he
ground.
    Herm ione Granger was alm ost as nervous about flying as Neville was. This was
som et hing you couldn't learn by heart out of a book -- not t hat she hadn't t ried. At
breakfast on Thursday she bored them all stupid with flying tips she'd gotten out of a
library book called Quiddit ch Through t he Ages. Neville was hanging on t o her every
word, desperat e for anyt hing t hat m ight help him hang on t o his broom st ick lat er,
but everybody else was very pleased w hen Herm ione's lect ure was int errupt ed by
the arrival of the mail.
   Harry hadn't had a single let t er since Hagrid's not e, som et hing t hat 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 sm all package from his grandm ot her. He opened it
excit edly and show ed t hem a glass ball t he size of a large m arble, which seem ed t o
be full of white smoke.
    " I t 's a Rem em brall! " he explained. " Gran knows I forget t hings -- t his t ells you if
t here's som et hing you've forgot t en t o do. Look, you hold it t ight like t his and if it
t urns red -- oh ... " His face fell, because t he Rem em brall had suddenly glowed
scarlet, " ... you've forgotten something ... "
  Neville w as t rying t o rem em ber what he'd forgot t en when Draco Malfoy, who was
passing the Gryffindor table, snatched the Remembrall out of his hand.
   Harry and Ron j um ped t o t heir feet . They were half hoping for a reason t o fight
Malfoy, but Professor McGonagall, who could spot trouble quicker than any teacher in
the school, was there in a flash.
   "What's going on?"
   "Malfoy's got my Remembrall, Professor."
   Scowling, Malfoy quickly dropped the Remembrall back on the table.
   " Just looking," he said, and he sloped away wit h Crabbe and Goyle behind him .


    At t hree- t hirt y t hat aft ernoon, Harry, Ron, and t he ot her Gryffindors hurried down
t he front st eps ont o t he grounds for t heir first flying lesson. I t was a clear, breezy
day, and t he grass rippled under t heir feet as t hey m arched dow n t he sloping lawns
t oward a sm oot h, flat lawn on t he opposit e side of t he grounds t o t he forbidden
forest, whose trees were swaying darkly in the distance.
   The Slyt herins were already t here, and so w ere t w ent y broom st icks lying in neat
lines on t he ground. Harry had heard Fred and George Weasley com plain about t he
school broom s, saying t hat som e of t hem st art ed t o vibrat e if you flew t oo high, or
always flew slightly to the left.
    Their t eacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short , gray 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 dow n at his broom . I t w as old and som e of t he t wigs st uck out at
odd angles.
   " St ick out your right hand over your broom ," called Madam Hooch at t he front ,
"and say 'Up!'"
   "UP" everyone shouted.
   Harry's broom j um ped int o his hand at once, but it was one of t he few t hat did.
Herm ione Granger's had sim ply rolled over on t he ground, and Neville's hadn't
m oved at all. Perhaps broom s, like horses, could t ell when you were afraid, t hought
Harry; t here was a quaver in Neville's voice t hat said only t oo clearly t hat he want ed
to keep his feet on the ground.
    Madam Hooch t hen showed t hem how t o m ount t heir broom s wit hout sliding off
t he end, and walked up and down t he rows correct ing t heir grips. Harry and Ron
were delighted when she told Malfoy he'd been doing it wrong for years.
  " Now , when I blow m y whist le, you kick off from t he ground, hard," said Madam
Hooch. " Keep your broom s st eady, rise a few feet , and t hen com e st raight back
down by leaning forward 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.
   " Com e back, boy! " she shout ed, but Neville was rising st raight up like a cork shot
out of a bot t le -- t welve feet -- t went y feet . Harry saw his scared w hit e face look
down at the ground falling away, saw him gasp, slip sideways off the broom and --
   WHAM -- a t hud and a nast y crack and Neville lay facedown on t he grass in a
heap. His broom st ick was st ill rising higher and higher, and st art ed t o drift lazily
toward the forbidden forest and out of sight.
   Madam Hooch was bending over Neville, her face as white as his.
  " Broken wrist ," Har ry heard her m ut t er. " Com e on, boy -- it 's all right , up you
get."
   She turned to the rest of the class.
   " None of you is t o m ove w hile I t ake t his boy t o t he hospit al wing! You leave t hose
broom s where t hey are or you'll be out of Hogwart s before you can say 'Quiddit ch.'
Come on, dear."
  Neville, his face t ear- st reaked, clut ching his wrist , hobbled off wit h Madam Hooch,
who had her arm around him.
   No sooner were they out of earshot than Malfoy burst into laughter.
   "Did you see his face, the great lump?"
   The other Slytherins joined in.
   "Shut up, Malfoy," snapped Parvati Patil.
   " Ooh, st icking up for Longbot t om ?" said Pansy Parkinson, a hard- faced Slyt herin
girl. "Never thought you'd like fat little crybabies, Parvati."
    " Look! " said Malfoy, dart ing forward and snat ching som et hing out of t he grass.
"It's that stupid thing Longbottom's gran sent him."
   The Remembrall glittered in the sun as he held it up.
   " Give t hat here, Malfoy," said Harry quiet ly. Everyone st opped t alking to watch.
   Malfoy smiled nastily.
   "I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find -- how about -- up a tree?"
   " Give it here! " Harry yelled, but Malfoy had leapt ont o his broom st ick and t aken
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!" shout ed Herm ione Granger. " Madam Hooch t old us not t o m ove -- you'll get
us all into trouble."
   Harry ignored her. Blood w as pounding in his ears. He m ount ed t he broom and
kicked hard against t he ground and up, up he soared; air rushed t hrough his hair,
and his robes whipped out behind him -- and in a rush of fierce j oy he realized he'd
found som et hing he could do wit hout being t aught -- t his was easy, t his was
wonderful. He pulled his broom st ick up a lit t le t o t ake 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 midair. Malfoy looked stunned.
   "Give it here," Harry called, "or I'll knock you off that broom!"
   "Oh, yeah?" said Malfoy, trying to sneer, but looking worried.
    Harry knew, som ehow, what t o do. He leaned forward and grasped t he broom
t ight ly in bot h hands, and it shot t ow ard Malfoy like a j avelin. Malfoy only j ust got
out of the way in time; Harry made a sharp about- face and held the broom steady. A
few people below were clapping.
   "No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy," Harry called.
   The same thought seemed to have struck Malfoy.
   " Cat ch it if you can, t hen! " he shout ed, and he t hrew t he glass ball high int o t he
air and streaked back toward the ground.
    Harry saw, as t hough in slow m ot ion, t he ball rise up in t he air and t hen st art t o
fall. He leaned forw ard and point ed his broom handle down -- next second he was
gat hering speed in a st eep dive, racing t he ball -- wind whist led in his ears, m ingled
wit h t he scream s of people wat ching -- he st ret ched out his hand -- a foot from t he
ground he caught it , j ust in t im e t o pull his broom st raight , and he t oppled gent ly
onto the grass with the Remembrall clutched safely in his fist.
   "HARRY POTTER!"
   His heart sank fast er t han he'd j ust dived. Professor McGonagall was running
toward them. He got to his feet, trembling.
   " Never -- in all my time at Hogwarts -- "
   Professor McGonagall was alm ost speechless w it h shock, and her glasses flashed
furiously, " -- how dare you -- might have broken your neck -- "
   "It wasn't his fault, Professor -- "
   "Be quiet, Miss Patil -- "
   "But Malfoy -- "
   "That's enough, Mr. Weasley. Potter, follow me, now."
   Harry caught sight of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle's t rium phant faces as he left ,
walking num bly in Professor McGonagall's wake as she st rode t oward t he cast le. He
was going t o be expelled, he j ust knew it . He w ant ed t o say som et hing t o defend
him self, but t here seem ed t o be som et hing wrong wit h his voice. Professor
McGonagall was sweeping along wit hout even looking at him ; he had t o j og t o keep
up. Now he'd done it . He hadn't even last ed t wo weeks. He'd be packing his bags in
ten minutes. What would the Dursleys say when he turned up on the doorstep?
    Up t he front st eps, up t he m arble st aircase inside, and st ill Professor McGonagall
didn't say a w ord t o him . She wrenched open doors and m arched along corridors
wit h Harry t rot t ing m iserably behind her. Maybe she was t aking him t o Dum bledore.
He t hought of Hagrid, expelled but allowed t o st ay on as gam ekeeper. Perhaps he
could be Hagrid's assistant. His stomach twisted as he imagined it, watching Ron and
t he ot hers becom ing wizards, w hile he st um ped around t he grounds carrying
Hagrid's bag.
  Professor McGonagall st opped out side a classroom . She opened t he door and
poked her head inside.
   "Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood for a moment?"
   Wood? t hought Harry, bewildered; w as Wood a cane she w as going t o use on
him?
    But Wood t urned out t o be a person, a burly fift h- year boy who cam e out of
Flitwick's class looking confused.
   " Follow m e, you t wo," said Professor McGonagall, and t hey m arched on up t he
corridor, Wood looking curiously at Harry.
   "In here."
  Professor McGonagall point ed t hem int o a classroom t hat was em pt y except for
Peeves, who was busy writing rude words on the blackboard.
   " Out , Peeves! " she barked. Peeves t hrew t he chalk int o a bin, which clanged
loudly, and he swooped out cursing. Professor McGonagall slam m ed t he door behind
him and turned to face the two boys.
  "Potter, this is Oliver Wood. Wood -- I've found you a Seeker."
  Wood's expression changed from puzzlement to delight.
  " Are you serious, Professor?"
  " Absolut ely," said Professor McGonagall crisply. " The boy's a nat ural. I 've never
seen anything like it. Was that your first time on a broomstick, Potter?"
  Harry nodded silent ly. He didn't have a clue what was going on, but he didn't
seem to be being expelled, and some of the feeling started coming back to his legs.
  "He caught that thing in his hand after a fifty- foot dive," Professor McGonagall told
Wood. "Didn't even scratch himself. Charlie Weasley couldn't have done it."
  Wood was now looking as though all his dreams had come true at once.
  "Ever seen a game of Quidditch, Potter?" he asked excitedly.
  "Wood's captain of the Gryffindor team," Professor McGonagall explained.
    " He's j ust t he build for a Seeker, t oo," said Wood, now walking around Harry and
st aring at him . " Light -- speedy -- we'll have t o get him a decent broom , Professor --
a Nimbus Two Thousand or a Cleansweep Seven, I'd say."
   " I shall speak t o Professor Dum bledore and see if we can't bend t he first - year
rule. Heaven knows, we need a bet t er t eam t han last year. Flattened in t hat 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 t o hear you're t raining hard, Pot t er, or I m ay change m y m ind about
punishing you."
  Then she suddenly smiled.
   " Your fat her would have been proud," she said. " He was an excellent Quiddit ch
player himself."


  "You're joking."
   I t was dinnert im e. Harry had j ust finished t elling 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 m ust be t he youngest house
player in about -- "
  " -- a cent ury," said Harry, shoveling pie int o his m out h. He felt part icularly
hungry after the excitement of the afternoon. "Wood told me."
  Ron was so amazed, so impressed, he just sat and gaped at Harry.
  " I st art t raining next w eek," said Harry. " Only don't t ell anyone, Wood want s t o
keep it a secret."
  Fred and George Weasley now cam e int o t he hall, spot t ed Harry, and hurried
over.
  " Well done," said George in a low voice. "Wood t old us. We're on t he t eam t oo --
Beaters."
   " I t ell you, we're going t o w in t hat Quiddit ch cup for sure t his year," said Fred.
" We haven't won since Charlie left , but t his year's t eam is going t o be brilliant . You
must be good, Harry, Wood was almost skipping when he told us."
  " Anyway, we've got t o go, Lee Jordan reckons he's found a new secret
passageway out of the school."
    " Bet it 's t hat one behind t he st at ue of Gregory t he Sm arm y t hat we found in our
first week. See you."
  Fred and George had hardly disappeared when som eone far less w elcom e t urned
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 t hat you're back on t he ground and you've got your lit t le
friends wit h you," said Harry coolly. There was of course not hing at all lit t le about
Crabbe and Goyle, but as t he High Table was full of t eachers, neit her of t hem could
do more than crack their knuckles and scowl.
  " I 'd t ake you on anyt im e on m y own," said Malfoy. " Tonight , if you want . Wizard's
duel. Wands only -- no cont act . What 's t he m at t er? Never heard of a wizard's duel
before, I suppose?"
   " Of course he has," said Ron, wheeling around. " I 'm his second, who's yours?"
   Malfoy looked at Crabbe and Goyle, sizing them up.
   " Crabbe," he said. "Midnight all right ? We'll m eet you in t he t rophy room ; t hat 's
always unlocked."
   When Malfoy had gone, Ron and Harry looked at each other.
  " What is a w izard's duel?" said Harry. " And what do you m ean, you're m y
second?"
   " Well, a second's t here t o t ake over if you die," said Ron casually, get t ing st art ed
at last on his cold pie. Cat ching t he look on Harry's face, he added quickly, " But
people only die in proper duels, you know, wit h real wizards. The m ost you and
Malfoy'll be able t o do is send sparks at each ot her. Neit her of you knows enough
magic to do any real damage. I bet he expected you to refuse, anyway."
   "And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?"
   "Throw it away and punch him on the nose," Ron suggested.
   "Excuse me."
   They both looked up. It was Hermione Granger.
   "Can't a person eat in peace in this place?" said Ron.
   Hermione ignored him and spoke to Harry.
   "I couldn't help overhearing what you and Malfoy were saying -- "
   "Bet you could," Ron muttered.
   " -- and you mustn't go w andering around t he school at night , t hink of t he point s
you'll lose Gryffindor if you're caught , and you're bound t o be. I t 's really very selfish
of you."
   "And it's really none of your business," said Harry.
   "Good- bye," said Ron.


    All t he sam e, it wasn't what you'd call t he perfect end t o t he day, Harry t hought ,
as he lay awake m uch lat er list ening t o Dean and Seam us falling asleep ( Neville
wasn't back from t he hospit al w ing) . Ron had spent all evening giving him advice
such as " I f he t ries t o curse you, you'd bet t er dodge it , because I can't rem em ber
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 w as pushing his luck, breaking anot her school
rule t oday. On t he ot her hand, Malfoy's sneering face kept loom ing up out of t he
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 t heir bat hrobes, picked up t heir wands, and crept across t he t ower
room , down t he spiral st aircase, and int o t he Gryffindor com m on room . A few
em bers were st ill glow ing in t he fireplace, t urning all t he arm chairs int o hunched
black shadows. They had alm ost reached t he port rait hole w hen a voice spoke from
the chair nearest them, "I can't believe you're going to do this, Harry."
   A lam p flickered on. I t was Herm ione Granger, wearing a pink bat hrobe and a
frown.
   " You!" said Ron furiously. "Go back to bed!"
   " I alm ost t old your brot her," Herm ione snapped, " Percy -- he's a prefect , he'd put
a stop to this."
   Harry couldn't believe anyone could be so interfering.
   " Com e on," he said t o Ron. He pushed open t he port rait of t he Fat Lady and
climbed through the hole.
  Herm ione wasn't going t o give up t hat easily. She followed Ron t hrough t he
portrait hole, hissing at them like an angry goose.
   " Don't you care about Gryffindor, do you only care about yourselves, I don't w ant
Slyt herin t o win t he house cup, and you'll lose all t he point s I got from Professor
McGonagall for knowing about Switching Spells."
   "Go away."
   " All right , but I warned you, you j ust rem em ber what I said w hen you're on t he
train home tomorrow, you're so -- "
    But what t hey were, t hey didn't find out . Herm ione had t urned t o t he port rait of
t he Fat Lady t o get back inside and found herself facing an em pt y paint ing. The Fat
Lady had gone on a nighttime visit and Hermione was locked out of Gryffindor tower.
   "Now what am I going to do?" she asked shrilly.
   "That's your problem," said Ron. "We've got to go, we're going to be late."
   They hadn't even reached t he end of t he corridor when Herm ione caught up wit h
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 t hree of us I 'll t ell him t he t rut h, t hat I was t rying t o st op 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.
  I t wasn't Mrs. Norris. I t was Neville. He w as curled up on t he floor, fast asleep,
but jerked suddenly awake as they crept nearer.
  " Thank goodness you found m e! 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 passw ord'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 t hem . " Madam Pom frey m ended it in about a
minute."
   "Good -- well, look, Neville, we've got to be somewhere, we'll see you later -- "
   " Don't leave m e! " said Neville, scram bling t o his feet , " I don't w ant t o st ay here
alone, the Bloody Baron's been past twice already."
   Ron looked at his watch and then glared furiously at Hermione and Neville.
  " I f eit her of you get us caught , I 'll never rest unt il I 've learned t hat Curse of t he
Bogies Quirrell told us about, and used it on you."
   Herm ione opened her m out h, perhaps t o t ell Ron exact ly how t o use t he Curse of
the Bogies, but Harry hissed at her to be quiet and beckoned them all forward.
   They flit t ed along corridors st riped w it h bars of m oonlight from t he high windows.
At every t urn Harry expect ed t o run int o Filch or Mrs. Norris, but t hey were lucky.
They sped up a staircase to the third floor and tiptoed toward the trophy room.
    Malfoy and Crabbe weren't t here yet . The cryst al t rophy cases glim m ered where
t he m oonlight caught t hem . Cups, shields, plat es, and st at ues winked silver and gold
in t he darkness. They edged along t he walls, keeping t heir eyes on t he doors at
eit her end of t he room . Harry t ook out his wand in case Malfoy leapt in and st art ed
at once. The minutes crept by.
   "He's late, maybe he's chickened out," Ron whispered.
  Then a noise in t he next room m ade t hem j um p. Harry had only j ust raised his
wand when they heard someone speak -- and it wasn't Malfoy.
   "Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner."
    I t w as Filch speaking t o Mrs. Norris. Horror- st ruck, Harry waved m adly at t he
ot her t hree t o follow him as quickly as possible; t hey scurried silent ly t ow ard t he
door, away from Filch's voice. Neville's robes had barely whipped round t he corner
when they heard Filch enter the trophy room.
   "They're in here somewhere," they heard him mutter, "probably hiding."
   " This way! " Harry m out hed t o t he ot hers and, pet rified, t hey began t o creep down
a long gallery full of suit s of arm or. They could hear Filch get t ing nearer. Neville
suddenly let out a fright ened squeak and broke int o a run he t ripped, grabbed Ron
around the waist, and the pair of them toppled right into a suit of armor.
   The clanging and crashing were enough to wake the whole castle.
    " RUN! " Harry yelled, and t he four of t hem sprint ed down t he gallery, not looking
back t o see whet her Filch w as following -- t hey swung around t he doorpost and
galloped dow n one corridor t hen anot her, Harry in t he lead, wit hout any idea where
t hey were or where t hey were going -- t hey ripped t hrough a t apest ry and found
t hem selves in a hidden passageway, hurt led along it and cam e out near t heir
Charms classroom, which they knew was miles from the trophy room.
   "I think we've lost him," Harry panted, leaning against the cold wall and wiping his
forehead. Neville was bent double, wheezing and spluttering.
   "I -- told -- you," Hermione gasped, clutching at the stitch in her chest, "I -- told -
- you."
   "We've got to get back to Gryffindor tower," said Ron, "quickly as possible."
  " Malfoy t ricked you," Herm ione said t o Harry. " You realize t hat , don't you? He was
never going t o m eet you -- Filch knew som eone was going t o be in t he t rophy room ,
Malfoy must have tipped him off."
   Harry thought she was probably right, but he wasn't going to tell her that.
   "Let's go."
   I t w asn't going t o be t hat sim ple. They hadn't gone m ore t han a dozen paces
when a doorknob rat t led and som et hing cam e shoot ing out of a classroom in front of
them.
   It was Peeves. He caught sight of them and gave a squeal of delight.
   "Shut up, Peeves -- please -- you'll get us thrown out."
   Peeves cackled.
  " Wandering around at m idnight , I ckle First ies? Tut , t ut , t ut . Naught y, naught y,
you'll get caughty."
   "Not if you don't give us away, Peeves, please."
   " Should t ell Filch, I should," said Peeves in a saint ly voice, but his eyes glit t ered
wickedly. "It's for your own good, you know."
  " Get out of t he way," snapped Ron, t aking a swipe at Peeves t his w as a big
mistake.
  " STUDENTS OUT OF BED! " Peeves bellowed, " STUDENTS OUT OF BED DOWN THE
CHARMS CORRIDOR!"
  Ducking under Peeves, t hey ran for t heir lives, right t o t he end of t he corridor
where they slammed into a door -- and it was locked.
  " This is it ! " Ron m oaned, as t hey pushed helplessly at t he door, " We're done for!
This is the end!"
  They could hear foot st eps, Filch running as fast as he could t oward Peeves's
shouts.
  " Oh, m ove over," Herm ione snarled. She grabbed Harry's wand, t apped t he lock,
and whispered, "Alohomora!"
   The lock clicked and t he door swung open -- t hey piled t hrough it , shut it quickly,
and pressed their ears against it, listening.
   "Which way did they go, Peeves?" Filch was saying. "Quick, tell me."
   "Say 'please.'"
   "Don't mess with me, Peeves, now where did they go?"
   " Shan't say not hing if you don't say please," said Peeves in his annoying singsong
voice.
   "All right -- please."
   " NOTHI NG! Ha haaa! Told you I wouldn't say not hing if you didn't say please! Ha
ha! Haaaaaa! " And t hey heard t he sound of Peeves whooshing away and Filch
cursing in rage.
  " He t hinks t his door is locked," Harry w hispered. " I t hink we'll be okay -- get off,
Neville! " For Neville had been t ugging on t he sleeve of Harry's bat hrobe for t he last
minute. "What?"
   Harry t urned around -- and saw, quit e clearly, w hat . For a m om ent , he was sure
he'd walked int o a night m are -- t his was t oo m uch, on t op of everyt hing t hat had
happened so far.
   They weren't in a room , as he had supposed. They were in a corridor. The
forbidden corridor on the third floor. And now they knew why it was forbidden.
   They were looking st raight int o t he eyes of a m onst rous dog, a dog t hat filled t he
whole space bet ween ceiling and floor. I t had t hree heads. Three pairs of rolling,
m ad eyes; t hree noses, t wit ching and quivering in t heir direct ion; t hree drooling
mouths, saliva hanging in slippery ropes from yellowish fangs.
   I t was st anding quit e st ill, all six eyes st aring at t hem , and Harry knew t hat t he
only reason t hey weren't already dead was t hat t heir sudden appearance had t aken
it by surprise, but it was quickly get t ing over t hat , t here was no m ist aking w hat
those thunderous growls meant.
   Harry groped for the doorknob -- between Filch and death, he'd take Filch.
    They fell backw ard -- Harry slam m ed t he door shut , and t hey ran, t hey alm ost
flew, back dow n t he corridor. Filch m ust have hurried off t o look for t hem
som ewhere else, because t hey didn't see him anywhere, but t hey hardly cared -- all
t hey want ed t o do was put as m uch space as possible bet ween t hem and t hat
m onst er. They didn't st op running unt il t hey reached t he port rait of t he Fat Lady on
the seventh floor.
  " Where on eart h have you all been?" she asked, looking at t heir bat hrobes
hanging off their shoulders and their flushed, sweaty faces.
   " Never m ind t hat -- pig snout , pig snout ," pant ed Harry, and t he port rait swung
forward. They scram bled int o t he com m on room and collapsed, t rem bling, int o
armchairs.
  I t was a while before any of t hem said anyt hing. Neville, indeed, looked as if he'd
never speak again.
   " What do t hey t hink t hey're doing, keeping a t hing like t hat locked up in a
school?" said Ron finally. " I f any dog needs exercise, t hat one does."
  Herm ione had got bot h her breat h and her bad t em per back again. " You don't use
your eyes, any of you, do you?" she snapped. " Didn't you see what it was st anding
on.
  " The floor?" Harry suggest ed. " I wasn't looking at it s feet , I was t oo busy wit h it s
heads."
  "No, not t he floor. I t was st anding on a t rapdoor. I t 's obviously guarding
something."
   She stood up, glaring at them.
  " I hope you're pleased w it h yourselves. We could all have been killed -- or w orse,
expelled. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to bed."
   Ron stared after her, his mouth open.
   "No, we don't mind," he said. "You'd think we dragged her along, wouldn't you.
    But Herm ione had given Harry som et hing else t o t hink about as he clim bed back
int o bed. The dog w as guarding som et hing ... What had Hagrid said? Gringot t s was
t he safest place in t he world for som et hing you want ed t o hide -- except perhaps
Hogwarts.
  I t looked as t hough Harry had found out where t he grubby lit t le package from
vault seven hundred and thirteen was.




   Chapter Ten
   H a llow e e n


   Malfoy couldn't believe his eyes when he saw t hat Harry and Ron were st ill at
Hogwart s t he next day, looking t ired but perfect ly cheerful. I ndeed, by t he next
m orning Harry and Ron t hought t hat m eet ing t he t hree- headed dog had been an
excellent advent ure, and t hey w ere quit e keen t o have anot her one. I n t he
m eant im e, Harry filled Ron in about t he package t hat seem ed t o have been m oved
from Gringot t s t o Hogwart s, and t hey spent a lot of t im e wondering w hat could
possibly need such heavy protection.
   "It's either really valuable or really dangerous," said Ron.
   "Or both," said Harry.
    But as all t hey knew for sure about t he m yst erious obj ect was t hat it w as about
t w o inches long, t hey didn't have m uch chance of guessing what it was w it hout
further clues.
    Neit her Neville nor Herm ione showed t he slight est int erest in what lay underneat h
t he dog and t he t rapdoor. All Neville cared about w as never going near t he dog
again.
   Herm ione was now refusing t o speak t o Harry and Ron, but she was such a bossy
know- it- all t hat t hey saw t his as an added bonus. All t hey really want ed now was a
way of get t ing back at Malfoy, and t o t heir great delight , j ust such a t hing arrived in
the mail about a week later.
    As t he owls flooded int o t he Great Hall as usual, everyone's at t ent ion was caught
at once by a long, t hin package carried by six large screech owls. Harry was j ust as
int erest ed as everyone else t o see w hat was in t his large parcel, and w as am azed
when t he owls soared down and dropped it right in front of him , knocking his bacon
t o t he floor. They had hardly flut t ered out of t he way when anot her owl dropped a
letter on top of the parcel.
   Harry ripped open the letter first, which was lucky, because it said:


   DO NOT OPEN THE PARCEL AT THE TABLE.
   I t cont ains your new Nim bus Tw o Thousand, but I don't w ant everybody knowing
you've got a broom st ick or t hey'll all w ant one. Oliver Wood will m eet you t onight on
the Quidditch field at seven o'clock for your first training session.
   Professor McGonagall


   Harry had difficulty hiding his glee as he handed the note to Ron to read.
  " A Nim bus Tw o Thousand! " Ron m oaned enviously. " I 've never even touched
one."
    They left the hall quickly, wanting to unwrap the broomstick in private before their
first class, but halfway across t he ent rance hall t hey found t he way upst airs barred
by Crabbe and Goyle. Malfoy seized the package from Harry and felt it.
    " That 's a broom st ick," he said, t hrowing it back t o Harry w it h a m ixt ure of
j ealousy and spit e on his face. " You'll be in for it t his t im e, Pot t er, first years aren't
allowed them."
   Ron couldn't resist it.
   " I t 's not any old broom st ick," he said, " it 's a Nim bus Two Thousand. What did you
say you've got at hom e, Malfoy, a Com et Two Sixt y?" Ron grinned at Harry. " Com et s
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 t he handle,"
Malfoy snapped back. " I suppose you and your brot hers have t o save up t wig by
twig."
   Before Ron could answer, Professor Flitwick appeared at Malfoy's elbow.
   "Not arguing, I hope, boys?" he squeaked.
   "Potter's been sent a broomstick, Professor," said Malfoy quickly.
   " Yes, yes, t hat 's right ," said Professor Flit wick, beam ing at Harry. " Professor
McGonagall t old m e all about t he special circum st ances, Pot t er. And what m odel is
it?"
  " A Nim bus Two Thousand, it is," said Harry, fight ing not t o laugh at t he look of
horror on Malfoy's face. " And it 's really t hanks t o Malfoy here t hat I 've got it ," he
added.
   Harry and Ron headed upst airs, sm ot hering t heir laught er 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 on the team ... "
   " So I suppose you t hink t hat 's a reward for breaking rules?" cam e an angry voice
from j ust behind t hem . Herm ione w as st om ping up t he st airs, looking disapprovingly
at the package in Harry's hand.
   "I thought you weren't speaking to us?" said Harry.
   "Yes, don't stop now," said Ron, "it's doing us so much good."
   Hermione marched away with her nose in the air.
   Harry had a lot of t rouble keeping his m ind on his lessons t hat day. I t kept
wandering up t o t he dorm it ory where his new broom st ick w as lying under his bed, or
straying off to the Quidditch field where he'd be learning to play that night. He bolted
his dinner t hat evening wit hout not icing what he w as eat ing, and t hen rushed
upstairs with Ron to unwrap the Nimbus Two Thousand at last.
   "Wow," Ron sighed, as the broomstick rolled onto Harry's bedspread.
   Even Harry, who knew not hing about t he different broom s, t hought it looked
wonderful. Sleek and shiny, wit h a m ahogany handle, it had a long t ail of neat ,
straight twigs and Nimbus Two Thousand written in gold near the top.
    As seven o'clock drew nearer, Harry left t he cast le and set off in t he dusk t oward
t he Quiddit ch field. Held never been inside t he st adium before. Hundreds of seats
were raised in st ands around t he field so t hat t he spect at ors were high enough t o
see what was going on. At eit her end of t he field were t hree golden poles w it h hoops
on t he end. They rem inded Harry of t he lit t le plast ic st icks Muggle children blew
bubbles through, except that they were fifty feet high.
    Too eager t o fly again t o wait for Wood, Harry m ount ed his broom st ick and kicked
off from t he ground. What a feeling -- he swooped in and out of t he goal post s and
t hen sped up and dow n t he field. The Nim bus Two Thousand t urned wherever he
wanted at his lightest touch.
   "Hey, Potter, come down!"
  Oliver Wood had arrived. He was carrying a large wooden crat e under his arm .
Harry landed next to him.
   " Very nice," said Wood, his eyes glint ing. " I see what McGonagall m eant ... you
really are a nat ural. I 'm j ust going t o t each you t he rules t his evening, t hen you'll be
joining team practice three times a week."
   He opened the crate. Inside were four different- sized balls.
    " Right ," said Wood. " Now , Quiddit ch is easy enough t o underst and, even if it 's not
t oo easy t o play. There are seven players on each side. Three of t hem are called
Chasers."
   " Three Chasers," Harry repeat ed, as Wood t ook out a bright red ball about t he
size of a soccer ball.
    " This ball's called t he Quaffle," said Wood. " The Chasers t hrow t he Quaffle t o each
ot her and t ry and get it t hrough one of t he hoops t o score a goal. Ten point s every
time the Quaffle goes through one of the hoops. Follow me?"
   " The Chasers t hrow t he Quaffle and put it t hrough t he hoops t o score," Harry
recit ed. " So -- that's sort of like basketball on broomsticks with six hoops, isn't it?"
   "What's basketball?" said Wood curiously.
   "Never mind," said Harry quickly.
   " Now , t here's anot her player on each side who's called t he 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 det erm ined t o rem em ber it all.
"And they play with the Quaffle. Okay, got that. So what are they for?" He pointed at
the three balls left inside the box.
   "I'll show you now," said Wood. "Take this."
   He handed Harry a small club, a bit like a short baseball bat.
   " I 'm going t o show you what t he Bludgers do," Wood said. " These t w o are t he
Bludgers."
   He showed Harry t wo ident ical balls, j et black and slight ly sm aller t han t he red
Quaffle. Harry not iced t hat t hey seem ed t o be st raining t o escape t he st raps holding
them inside the box.
   "Stand back," Wood warned Harry. He bent down and freed one of the Bludgers.
   At once, the black ball rose high in the air and then pelted straight at Harry's face.
Harry swung at it wit h t he bat t o st op it from breaking his nose, and sent it
zigzagging aw ay int o t he air -- it zoom ed around t heir heads and t hen shot at Wood,
who dived on top of it and managed to pin it to the ground.
    " See?" Wood pant ed, forcing t he st ruggling Bludger back int o t he crat e and
st rapping it down safely. "The Bludgers rocket around, t rying t o knock players off
t heir broom s. That 's why you have t wo Beat ers on each t eam -- t he Weasley t wins
are ours -- it 's t heir j ob t o prot ect t heir side from t he Bludgers and t ry and knock
them toward the other team. So -- think you've got all that?"
   " Three Chasers t ry and score wit h t he Quaffle; t he Keeper guards t he goal post s;
the Beaters keep the Bludgers away from their team," Harry reeled off.
   "Very good," said Wood.
   "Er -- have t he Bludgers ever killed anyone?" Harry asked, hoping he sounded
offhand.
    " Never at Hogwart s. We've had a couple of broken j aws but not hing w orse t han
t hat . Now, t he last m em ber of t he t eam is t he 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, t he Weasleys are m ore t han a m at ch for t he Bludgers -- I m ean,
they're like a pair of human Bludgers themselves."
    Wood reached int o t he crat e and t ook out t he fourt h and last ball. Com pared wit h
t he Quaffle and t he Bludgers, it was t iny, about t he size of a large w alnut . I t was
bright gold and had little fluttering silver wings.
     " This," said Wood, " is t he Golden Snit ch, and it 's t he m ost im port ant ball of t he
lot . I t 's very hard t o cat ch because it 's so fast and difficult t o see. I t 's t he Seeker's
job to catch it. You've got to weave in and out of the Chasers, Beaters, Bludgers, and
Quaffle t o get it before t he ot her t eam 's Seeker, because whichever Seeker cat ches
t he Snit ch wins his t eam an ext ra hundred and fift y point s, so t hey nearly alway s
win. That 's w hy Seekers get fouled so m uch. A gam e of Quiddit ch only ends when
t he Snit ch is caught , so it can go on for ages -- I t hink t he record is t hree m ont hs,
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 underst ood what he had t o do all right , it was doing it
that was going to be the problem.
   " We won't pract ice wit h t he Snit ch yet ," said Wood, carefully shut t ing it back
inside t he crat e, " it 's t oo dark, w e m ight lose it . Let 's t ry you out wit h a few of
these."
  He pulled a bag of ordinary golf balls out of his pocket and a few minutes later, he
and Harry w ere up in t he air, Wood t hrow ing t he golf balls as hard as he could in
every direction for Harry to catch.
  Harry didn't m iss a single one, and Wood was delight ed. Aft er half an hour, night
had really fallen and they couldn't carry on.
    " That Quiddit ch Cup'll have our nam e on it t his year," said Wood happily as t hey
t rudged back up t o t he cast le. " I wouldn't be surprised if you t urn out bet t er t han
Charlie Weasley, and he could have played for England if he hadn't gone off chasing
dragons."


   Perhaps it was because he w as now so busy, what w it h Quiddit ch pract ice t hree
evenings a week on t op of all his hom ew ork, but Harry could hardly believe it when
he realized t hat he'd already been at Hogw art s t wo m ont hs. The cast le felt m ore like
hom e t han Privet Drive ever had. His lessons, t oo, were becom ing m ore and m ore
interesting now that they had mastered the basics.
    On Halloween morning they woke to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin wafting
t hrough t he corridors. Even bet t er, Professor Flit wick announced in Charm s t hat he
t hought t hey w ere ready t o st art m aking obj ect s fly, som et hing t hey had all been
dying t o t ry since t hey'd seen him m ake Neville's t oad zoom around t he classroom .
Professor Flit wick put t he class int o pairs t o pract ice. Harry's part ner was Seam us
Finnigan ( which was a relief, because Neville had been t rying t o cat ch his eye) . Ron,
however, was t o be working wit h Herm ione Granger. I t was hard t o t ell whet her Ron
or Herm ione was angrier about t his. She hadn't spoken t o eit her of t hem since t he
day Harry's broomstick had arrived.
   " Now , don't forget t hat nice w rist m ovem ent w e've been pract icing! " squeaked
Professor Flit w ick, perched on t op of his pile of books as usual. " Swish and flick,
rem em ber, sw ish and flick. And saying t he m agic w ords properly is very im port ant ,
too -- never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said 's' inst ead of 'f' and found him self on
the floor with a buffalo on his chest."
   I t was very difficult . Harry and Seam us swished and flicked, but t he feat her t hey
were supposed t o be sending skyward j ust lay on t he deskt op. Seam us got so
impatient that he prodded it with his wand and set fire to it -- Harry had to put it out
with his hat.
   Ron, at the next table, wasn't having much more luck.
   " Wingardium Leviosa!" he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.
   " You're saying it wrong," Harry heard Herm ione snap. " I t 's Wing- gar- dium Levi- o-
sa, make the 'gar' nice and long."
   "You do it, then, if you're so clever," Ron snarled.
   Herm ione rolled up t he 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 Flit wick, clapping. " Everyone see here, Miss
Granger's done it!"
   Ron was in a very bad mood by the end of the class.
   " I t 's no wonder no one can st and her," he said t o Harry as t hey pushed t heir way
into the crowded corridor, "she's a nightmare, honestly."
  Som eone knocked int o Harry as t hey hurried past him . I t was Herm ione. 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 uncom fort able. " She m ust 've not iced she's got
no friends."
    Herm ione didn't t urn up for t he next class and wasn't seen all aft ernoon. On t heir
way down to the Great Hall for the Halloween feast, Harry and Ron overheard Parvati
Pat il t elling her friend Lavender t hat Herm ione was crying in t he girls' bat hroom and
want ed t o be left alone. Ron looked st ill m ore awkw ard at t his, but a m om ent lat er
t hey had ent ered t he Great Hall, where t he Halloween decorat ions put Herm ione out
of their minds.
    A t housand live bat s flut t ered from t he walls and ceiling while a t housand m ore
swooped over t he t ables in low black clouds, m aking t he candles in t he pum pkins
st ut t er. The feast appeared suddenly on t he golden plat es, as it had at t he st art - of-
term banquet.
   Harry was j ust helping him self t o a baked pot at o w hen Professor Quirrell cam e
sprint ing int o t he hall, his t urban askew and t error on his face. Everyone st ared as
he reached Professor Dum bledore's chair, slum ped against t he t able, and gasped,
"Troll -- in the dungeons -- thought you ought to know."
   He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
  There was an uproar. It took several purple firecrackers exploding from the end of
Professor Dumbledore's wand to bring silence.
   "Prefects," he rumbled, "lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!"
   Percy was in his element.
   " Follow m e! St ick t oget her, first years! No need t o fear t he t roll if you follow m y
orders! St ay close behind m e, now . Make way, first years com ing t hrough! Excuse
me, I'm a prefect!"
   "How could a troll get in?" Harry asked as they climbed the stairs.
    " Don't ask m e, t hey're supposed t o be really st upid," said Ron. " Maybe Peeves let
it in for a Halloween joke."
    They passed different groups of people hurrying in different direct ions. As t hey
j ost led t heir way t hrough 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, t hey j oined t he Hufflepuffs going t he ot her w ay, slipped down a
desert ed side corridor, and hurried off t oward t he girls' bat hroom . They had j ust
t urned t he corner when t hey heard quick foot st eps behind t hem .
   "Percy!" hissed Ron, pulling Harry behind a large stone griffin.
   Peering around it , how ever, t hey saw not Percy but Snape. He crossed t he
corridor and disappeared from view.
   " What 's he doing?" Harry w hispered. " Why isn't he down in t he dungeons wit h t he
rest of the teachers?"
   "Search me."
   Quiet ly as possible, t hey crept along t he next corridor aft er Snape's fading
footsteps.
   "He's heading for the third floor," Harry said, but Ron held up his hand.
   "Can you smell something?"
   Harry sniffed and a foul stench reached his nostrils, a mixture of old socks and the
kind of public toilet no one seems to clean.
    And t hen t hey heard it -- a low grunt ing, and t he shuffling foot falls of gigant ic
feet . Ron point ed -- at t he end of a passage t o t he left , som et hing huge was m oving
t oward t hem . They shrank int o t he shadows and wat ched as it em erged int o a pat ch
of moonlight.
   I t was a horrible sight . Twelve feet t all, it s skin was a dull, granit e gray, it s great
lum py body like a boulder wit h it s sm all bald head perched on t op like a coconut . I t
had short legs t hick as t ree t runks w it h flat , horny feet . The sm ell com ing from it
was incredible. I t was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along t he floor
because its arms were so long.
  The t roll st opped next t o a doorw ay and peered inside. I t w aggled it s long ears,
making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly into the room.
   "The keys in the lock," Harry muttered. "We could lock it in."
   "Good idea," said Ron nervously.
  They edged t oward t he open door, m out hs dry, praying t he t roll wasn't about t o
com e out of it . Wit h one great leap, Harry m anaged t o grab t he key, slam t he door,
and lock it.
   " Yes!"
   Flushed wit h t heir vict ory, t hey st art ed t o run back up t he passage, but as t hey
reached t he corner t hey heard som et hing t hat m ade t heir heart s st op -- a high,
petrified scream -- and it was coming from the chamber they'd just chained up.
   " Oh, no," said Ron, pale as t he Bloody Baron.
   "It's the girls' bathroom!" Harry gasped.
   " Hermione!" they said together.
   I t was t he last t hing t hey want ed t o do, but what choice did t hey have? Wheeling
around, t hey sprint ed back t o t he door and t urned t he key, fum bling in t heir panic.
Harry pulled the door open and they ran inside.
  Herm ione Granger was shrinking against t he wall opposit e, looking as if she was
about t o faint . The t roll w as advancing on her, knocking t he sinks off t he 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,
t o see what had m ade t he noise. I t s m ean lit t le eyes saw Harry. I t hesit at ed, t hen
made for him instead, lifting its club as it went.
    " Oy, pea- brain! " yelled Ron from t he ot her side of t he cham ber, and he t hrew a
m et al pipe at it . The t roll didn't even seem t o not ice t he pipe hit t ing it s shoulder, but
it heard t he yell and paused again, t urning it s ugly snout t oward Ron inst ead, giving
Harry time to run around it.
  "Come on, run, run!" Harry yelled at Hermione, trying to pull her toward the door,
but she couldn't move, she was still flat against the wall, her mouth open with terror.
  The shout ing and t he echoes seem ed t o be driving t he t roll berserk. I t roared
again and started toward Ron, who was nearest and had no way to escape.
   Harry t hen did som et hing t hat was bot h very brave and very st upid: He t ook a
great running j um p and m anaged t o fast en his arm s around t he t roll's neck from
behind. The t roll couldn't feel Harry hanging t here, but even a t roll will not ice 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 nostrils.
   Howling wit h pain, t he t roll t wist ed and flailed it s club, wit h Harry clinging on for
dear life; any second, t he t roll w as going t o rip him off or cat ch him a t errible blow
with the club.
   Herm ione had sunk t o t he floor in fright ; Ron pulled out his own w and -- not
knowing what he was going t o do he heard him self cry t he first spell t hat cam e int o
his head: "Wingardium Leviosa!"
    The club flew suddenly out of t he t roll's hand, rose high, high up int o t he air,
turned slowly over -- and dropped, with a sickening crack, onto its owner's head. The
t roll sw ayed on t he spot and t hen fell flat on it s face, wit h a t hud t hat m ade t he
whole room tremble.
   Harry got t o his feet . He was shaking and out of breat h. Ron was st anding t here
with his wand still raised, staring at what he had done.
   It was Hermione who spoke first.
   "Is it -- dead?"
   "I don't think so," said Harry, I think it's just been knocked out."
   He bent down and pulled his w and out of t he t roll's nose. I t w as cov ered in what
looked like lumpy gray glue.
   "Urgh - - troll boogers."
   He wiped it on the troll's trousers.
   A sudden slam m ing and loud foot st eps m ade t he t hree of t hem look up. They
hadn't realized w hat a racket t hey had been m aking, but of course, som eone
downst airs m ust have heard t he crashes and t he t roll's roars. A m om ent lat er,
Professor McGonagall had com e burst ing int o t he room , closely followed by Snape,
wit h Quirrell bringing up t he rear. Quirrell t ook one look at t he t roll, let out a faint
whimper, and sat quickly down on a toilet, clutching his heart.
  Snape bent over t he t roll. Professor McGonagall was looking at Ron and Harry.
Harry had never seen her look so angry. Her lips were whit e. Hopes of winning fift y
points for Gryffindor faded quickly from Harry's mind.
   "What on earth were you thinking of?" said Professor McGonagall, with cold fury in
her voice. Harry looked at Ron, who was st ill st anding w it h his wand in t he 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 t he 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."
   "Miss Granger!"
   Hermione had managed to get to her feet at last.
   "I went looking for the troll because I -- I thought I could deal with it on my own -
- you know, because I've read all about them."
   Ron dropped his wand. Hermione Granger, telling a downright lie to a teacher?
  " I f t hey hadn't found m e, I 'd be dead now. Harry st uck his wand up it s nose and
Ron knocked it out wit h it s own club. They didn't have t im e t o com e and fet ch
anyone. It was about to finish me off when they arrived."
   Harry and Ron tried to look as though this story wasn't new to them.
   "Well -- in t hat case ... " said Professor McGonagall, st aring at t he t hree of t hem ,
" Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you t hink of t ackling a m ount ain t roll on
your own?"
  Herm ione hung her head. Harry was speechless. Herm ione w as t he last person t o
do anyt hing against t he rules, and here she was, pret ending she had, t o get t hem
out of trouble. It was as if Snape had started handing out sweets.
   " Miss Granger, five point s will be t aken from Gryffindor for t his," said Professor
McGonagall. " I 'm very disappoint ed in you. I f you're not hurt at all, you'd bet t er get
off to Gryffindor tower. Students are finishing the feast in their houses."
   Hermione left.
   Professor McGonagall turned to Harry and Ron.
    " Well, I st ill say you were lucky, but not m any first years could have t aken on a
full- grown m ount ain t roll. You each win Gryffindor five point s. Professor Dum bledore
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. I t was a relief t o be away from t he sm ell of t he t roll, quit e apart from
anything else.
   "We should have gotten more than ten points," Ron grumbled.
   "Five, you mean, once she's taken off Hermione's."
  " Good of her t o get us out of t rouble like t hat ," Ron adm it t ed. " Mind you, we did
save her."
  " She m ight not have needed saving if w e hadn't locked t he t hing in wit h her,"
Harry reminded him.
   They had reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.
   "Pig snout," they said and entered.
   The com m on room was packed and noisy. Everyone was eat ing t he food t hat had
been sent up. Herm ione, however, st ood alone by t he door, wait ing for t hem . There
was a very em barrassed pause. Then, none of t hem looking at each ot her, t hey all
said "Thanks," and hurried off to get plates.
    But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some
t hings you can't share w it hout ending up liking each ot her, and knocking out a
twelve- foot mountain troll is one of them.




   Chapter Eleven
   Quidditch


   As t hey  ent ered Novem ber, t he weat her t urned very cold. The m ount ains around
t he school becam e icy gray and t he lake like chilled st eel. Every m orning t he ground
was covered in frost . Hagrid could be seen from t he upst airs windows defrost ing
broomsticks on the Quidditch field, bundled up in a long moleskin overcoat, rabbit fur
gloves, and enormous beaverskin boots.
   The Quiddit ch season had begun. On Sat urday, Harry would be playing in his first
m at ch aft er w eeks of t raining: Gryffindor versus Slyt herin. I f Gryffindor won, t hey
would move up into second place in the house championship.
     Hardly anyone had seen Harry play because Wood had decided t hat , as t heir
secret w eapon, Harry should be kept , well, secret . But t he news t hat he was playing
Seeker had leaked out som ehow, and Harry didn't know w hich was worse -- people
t elling him he'd be brilliant or people t elling him t hey'd be running around
underneath him holding a mattress.
   I t was really lucky t hat Harry now had Herm ione as a friend. He didn't know how
he'd have gotten through all his homework without her, what with all the last- minute
Quiddit ch pract ice Wood was m aking t hem do. She had also lent him Quidditch
Through the Ages, which turned out to be a very interesting read.
   Harry learned t hat t here were seven hundred ways of com m it t ing a Quiddit ch foul
and t hat all of t hem had happened during a World Cup m at ch in 1473; t hat Seekers
were usually t he sm allest and fast est players, and t hat m ost serious Quiddit ch
accident s seem ed t o happen t o t hem ; t hat alt hough people rarely died playing
Quiddit ch, referees had been known t o vanish and t urn up m ont hs lat er in t he
Sahara Desert.
   Herm ione had becom e a bit m ore relaxed about breaking rules since Harry and
Ron had saved her from t he m ount ain t roll, and she was m uch nicer for it . The day
before Harry's first Quiddit ch m at ch t he t hree of t hem w ere out in t he freezing
court yard during break, and she had conj ured t hem up a bright blue fire t hat could
be carried around in a j am j ar. They were st anding wit h t heir backs t o it , get t ing
warm , when Snape crossed t he yard. Harry not iced at once t hat Snape w as lim ping.
Harry, Ron, and Herm ione m oved closer t oget her t o block t he fire from view ; t hey
were sure it w ouldn't be allowed. Unfort unat ely, som et hing about t heir guilt y faces
caught Snape's eye. He lim ped over. He hadn't seen t he fire, but he seem ed t o be
looking for a reason to tell them off anyway.
  "What's that you've got there, Potter?"
  It was Quidditch Through the Ages. Harry showed him.
   "Library books are not to be taken outside the school," said Snape. "Give it to me.
Five points from Gryffindor."
  " He's j ust m ade t hat rule up," Harry m ut t ered angrily as Snape lim ped away.
"Wonder what's wrong with his leg?"
  "Dunno, but I hope it's really hurting him," said Ron bitterly.


  The Gryffindor com m on room was very noisy t hat evening. Harry, Ron, and
Herm ione sat t oget her next t o a window. Herm ione w as checking Harry and Ron's
Charm s hom ework for t hem . She would never let t hem copy ( " How will you learn?" ) ,
but by asking her to read it through, they got the right answers anyway.
   Harry felt rest less. He w ant ed Quiddit ch Through t he Ages back, t o t ake his m ind
off his nerves about t om orrow . Why should he be afraid of Snape? Get t ing up, he
told Ron and Hermione he was going to ask Snape if he could have it.
  " Bet t er you t han m e," t hey said t oget her, but Harry had an idea t hat Snape
wouldn't refuse if there were other teachers listening.
  He m ade his way down t o t he st affroom and knocked. There w as no answer. He
knocked again. Nothing.
   Perhaps Snape had left t he book in t here? I t was wort h a t ry. He pushed t he door
ajar and peered inside - and a horrible scene met his eyes.
  Snape and Filch were inside, alone. Snape w as holding his robes above his knees.
One of his legs was bloody and mangled. Filch was handing Snape bandages.
    " Blast ed t hing," Snape was saying. " How are you supposed t o keep your eyes on
all three heads at once?"
  Harry tried to shut the door quietly, but --
  " POTTER! "
  Snape's face was twisted with fury as he dropped his robes quickly to hide his leg.
Harry gulped.
  "I just wondered if I could have my book back."
  "GET OUT! OUT!"
  Harry left , before Snape could t ake any m ore point s from Gryffindor. He sprint ed
back upstairs.
  "Did you get it?" Ron asked as Harry joined them. "What's the matter?"
  In a low whisper, Harry told them what he'd seen.
   " You know what t his m eans?" he finished breat hlessly. " He t ried t o get past t hat
three- headed dog at Halloween! That 's where he w as going w hen w e saw him -- he's
after whatever it's guarding! And I'd bet my broomstick he let that troll in, to make a
diversion!"
  Hermione's eyes were wide.
   " No -- he wouldn't , she said. " I know he's not very nice, but he wouldn't t ry and
steal something Dumbledore was keeping safe."
  " Honest ly, Herm ione, you t hink all t eachers are saint s or som et hing," snapped
Ron. " I 'm w it h Harry. I wouldn't put anyt hing past Snape. But what 's he aft er?
What's that dog guarding?"
   Harry went t o bed wit h his head buzzing w it h t he sam e quest ion. Neville was
snoring loudly, but Harry couldn't sleep. He t ried t o em pt y his m ind -- he needed t o
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 m orning dawned very bright and cold. The Great Hall w as full of t he
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 onto the field.
  " Harry, you need your st rengt h," said Seam us Finnigan. " Seekers are always t he
ones who get clobbered by the other team."
  "Thanks, Seamus," said Harry, watching Seamus pile ketchup on his sausages.


   By eleven o'clock t he whole school seem ed t o be out in t he st ands around t he
Quiddit ch pit ch. Many st udent s had binoculars. The seat s m ight be raised high in t he
air, but it was still difficult to see what was going on sometimes.
    Ron and Herm ione j oined Neville, Seam us, and Dean t he West Ham fan up in t he
t op row. As a surprise for Harry, t hey had paint ed a large banner on one of t he
sheet s Scabbers had ruined. I t said Pot t er for President , and Dean, who w as good at
drawing, had done a large Gryffindor lion underneath. Then Hermione had performed
a tricky little charm so that the paint flashed different colors.
   Meanwhile, in t he locker room , Harry and t he rest of t he t eam were changing int o
their scarlet Quidditch robes (Slytherin would be playing in green).
  Wood cleared his throat for silence.
  "Okay, men," he said.
  " And wom en," 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 t old Harry, " we were on t he t eam last
year."
 " Shut up, you t wo," said Wood. "This is t he best t eam 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 t he locker room and, hoping his knees
weren't going to give way, walked onto the field to loud cheers.
  Madam Hooch was refereeing. She st ood in t he m iddle of t he field wait ing for t he
two teams, her broom in her hand.
   " Now , I want a nice fair gam e, all of you," she said, once t hey were all gat hered
around her. Harry not iced t hat she seem ed t o be speaking part icularly t o t he
Slyt herin Capt ain, Marcus Flint , a sixt h year. Harry t hought Flint looked as if he had
som e t roll blood in him . Out of t he corner of his eye he saw t he flut t ering banner
high above, flashing Pot t er for President over t he crow d. His heart skipped. He felt
braver.
   "Mount your brooms, please."
   Harry clambered onto his Nimbus Two Thousand.
   Madam Hooch gave a loud blast on her silver whistle.
   Fifteen brooms rose up, high, high into the air. They were off.
  " And t he Quaffle is t aken im m ediat ely by Angelina Johnson of Gryffindor -- w hat
an excellent Chaser that girl is, and rather attractive, too -- "
   " JORDAN! "
   "Sorry, Professor."
   The Weasley t wins' friend, Lee Jordan, w as doing t he com m ent ary for t he m at ch,
closely watched by Professor McGonagall.
    " And she's really belt ing along up t here, a neat pass t o Alicia Spinnet , a good find
of Oliver Wood's, last year only a reserve -- back t o Johnson and -- no, t he
Slyt herins have t aken t he Quaffle, Slyt herin Capt ain Marcus Flint gains t he Quaffle
and off he goes - - Flint flying like an eagle up there -- he's going to sc -- no, stopped
by an excellent m ove by Gryffindor Keeper Wood and t he Gryffindors t ake t he
Quaffle -- t hat 's Chaser Kat ie Bell of Gryffindor t here, nice dive around Flint , off up
t he field and -- OUCH -- t hat m ust have hurt , hit in t he back of t he head by a
Bludger -- Quaffle t aken by t he Slyt herins -- t hat 's Adrian Pucey speeding off t oward
t he goal post s, but he's blocked by a second Bludger -- sent his way by Fred or
George Weasley, can't t ell which -- nice play by t he Gryffindor Beat er, anyway, and
Johnson back in possession of t he Quaffle, a clear field ahead and off she goes --
she's really flying -- dodges a speeding Bludger -- t he goal post s are ahead -- com e
on, now, Angelina -- Keeper Bletchley dives -- misses -- GRYFFI NDORS SCORE! "
   Gryffindor cheers filled the cold air, with howls and moans from the Slytherins.
   "Budge up there, move along."
   "Hagrid!"
   Ron and Hermione squeezed together to give Hagrid enough space to join them.
   " Bin w at chin' from m e hut ," said Hagrid, pat t ing a large pair of binoculars around
his neck, "But it isn't the same as bein' in the crowd. No sign of the Snitch yet, eh?"
   "Nope," said Ron. "Harry hasn't had much to do yet."
  " Kept out t a t rouble, t hough, t hat 's som et hin'," said Hagrid, raising his binoculars
and peering skyward at the speck that was Harry.
   Way up above t hem , Harry was gliding over t he gam e, squint ing about for som e
sign of the Snitch. This was part of his and Wood's game plan.
  " Keep out of t he way unt il you cat ch sight of t he Snit ch," 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 t o let off
his feelings. Now he was back t o st aring around for t he Snit ch. 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 t o com e pelt ing his way, m ore like a cannonball t han
anything, but Harry dodged it and Fred Weasley came chasing after it.
   " All right t here, Harry?" he had t im e t o yell, as he beat t he Bludger furiously
toward Marcus Flint.
   " Slyt herin in possession," Lee Jordan was saying, "Chaser Pucey ducks t wo
Bludgers, two Weasleys, and Chaser Bell, and speeds toward the -- wait a moment --
was that the Snitch?"
   A m urm ur ran t hrough t he crow d as Adrian Pucey dropped t he Quaffle, t oo busy
looking over his shoulder at the flash of gold that had passed his left ear.
    Harry saw it . I n a great rush of excit em ent he dived downward aft er t he st reak of
gold. Slyt herin Seeker Terence Higgs had seen it , t oo. Neck and neck t hey hurt led
t oward t he Snit ch -- all t he Chasers seem ed t o have forgot t en what t hey were
supposed to be doing as they hung in midair to watch.
  Harry was fast er t han Higgs -- he could see t he lit t le round ball, wings flut t ering,
darting up ahead -- he put on an extra spurt of speed --
   WHAM! A roar of rage echoed from t he Gryffindors below -- Marcus Flint had
blocked Harry on purpose, and Harry's broom spun off course, Harry holding on for
dear life.
   "Foul!" screamed the Gryffindors.
   Madam Hooch spoke angrily to Flint and then ordered a free shot at the goal posts
for Gryffindor. But in all t he confusion, of course, t he Golden Snit ch had disappeared
from sight again.
   Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, " Send him off, ref! Red card! "
   "What are you talking about, Dean?" said Ron.
  " Red card! " said Dean furiously. " I n soccer you get shown t he red card and you're
out of the game!"
   "But this isn't soccer, Dean," Ron reminded him.
   Hagrid, however, was on Dean's side.
   "They oughta change the rules. Flint coulda knocked Harry 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 t he Gryffindor Seeker, which could happen t o
anyone, I 'm sure, so a penalt y t o Gryffindor, t aken by Spinner, who put s it away, no
trouble, and we continue play, Gryffindor still in possession."
   I t was as Harry dodged anot her Bludger, which went spinning dangerously past
his head, t hat it happened. His broom gave a sudden, fright ening lurch. For a split
second, he t hought he w as going t o fall. He gripped t he broom t ight ly wit h bot h his
hands and knees. He'd never felt anything like that.
    I t happened again. I t was as t hough t he broom w as t rying t o buck him off. But
Nim bus Two Thousands did not suddenly decide t o buck t heir riders off. Harry t ried
t o t urn back t oward t he Gryffindor goal- posts -- he had half a m ind t o ask Wood t o
call t im e- out -- and t hen he realized t hat his broom w as com plet ely out of his
cont rol. He couldn't t urn it . He couldn't direct it at all. I t was zigzagging t hrough t he
air, and every now and t hen m aking violent sw ishing m ovem ent s t hat alm ost
unseated him.
   Lee was still commentating.
   "Slytherin in possession -- Flint wit h t he Quaffle -- passes Spinnet -- passes Bell --
hit hard in t he face by a Bludger, hope it broke his nose -- only j oking, Professor --
Slytherins score -- A no ... "
   The Slyt herins were cheering. No one seem ed t o have not iced t hat Harry's broom
was behaving st rangely. I t was carrying him slow ly higher, away from t he gam e,
jerking and twitching as it went.
   " Dunno what Harry t hinks he's doing," Hagrid m um bled. He st ared t hrough his
binoculars. " I f I didn' know bet t er, I 'd say he'd lost cont rol of his broom ... but he
can't have ... "
   Suddenly, people were point ing up at Harry all over t he st ands. 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 j erk 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 whispered.
   " Can't have," Hagrid said, his v oice shaking. "Can't not hing int erfere wit h a
broom st ick except powerful Dark m agic -- no kid could do t hat t o a Nim bus Two
Thousand."
  At t hese w ords, Herm ione seized Hagrid's binoculars, but inst ead of looking up at
Harry, she started looking frantically at the crowd.
   "What are you doing?" moaned Ron, gray- faced.
   "I knew it," Hermione gasped, "Snape -- look."
   Ron grabbed the binoculars. Snape was in the middle of the stands opposite them.
He had his eyes fixed on Harry and was muttering nonstop under his breath.
   "He's doing something -- jinxing the broom," said Hermione.
   "What should we do?"
   " Leave it t o m e."
   Before Ron could say anot her word, Herm ione had disappeared. Ron t urned t he
binoculars back on Harry. His broom was vibrat ing so hard, it w as alm ost im possible
for him to hang on much longer. The whole crowd was on its feet, watching, terrified,
as t he Weasleys flew up t o t ry and pull Harry safely ont o one of t heir broom s, but it
was no good - every t im e t hey got near him , t he broom would j um p higher st ill.
They dropped lower and circled beneath him, obviously hoping to catch him if he fell.
Marcus Flint seized the Quaffle and scored five times without anyone noticing.
   "Come on, Hermione," Ron muttered desperately.
   Herm ione had fought her w ay across t o t he st and w here Snape st ood, and was
now racing along t he row behind him ; she didn't even st op t o say sorry as she
knocked Professor Quirrell headfirst int o t he row in front . Reaching Snape, she
crouched down, pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well- chosen words. Bright
blue flames shot from her wand onto the hem of Snape's robes.
   I t t ook perhaps t hirt y seconds for Snape t o realize t hat he was on fire. A sudden
yelp t old her she had done her j ob. Scooping t he fire off him int o a lit t le j ar in her
pocket , she scram bled back along t he row -- Snape would never know what had
happened.
   I t was enough. Up in t he air, Harry was suddenly able t o clam ber back on t o his
broom.
   " Neville, you can look!" Ron said. Neville had been sobbing into Hagrid's jacket for
the last five minutes.
   Harry was speeding t oward t he ground w hen t he crowd saw him clap his hand t o
his m out h as t hough he w as about t o be sick -- he hit t he field on all fours --
coughed -- and something gold fell into his hand.
   " I 've got t he Snit ch! " he shout ed, waving it above his head, and t he gam e ended
in complete confusion.
     " He didn't catch it , he nearly swallowed it ," Flint w as st ill howling t w ent y m inut es
lat er, but it m ade no difference -- Harry hadn't broken any rules and Lee Jordan was
st ill happily shout ing t he result s -- Gryffindor had won by one hundred and sevent y
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.
  " I t was Snape," Ron was explaining, " Herm ione and I saw him . He was cursing
your broomstick, muttering, he wouldn't take his eyes off you."
    " Rubbish," said Hagrid, w ho hadn't heard a word of w hat had gone on next t o him
in the stands. "Why would Snape do somethin' like that?"
  Harry, Ron, and Herm ione looked at one anot her, wondering what t o t ell him .
Harry decided on the truth.
    " I found out som et hing about him ," he t old Hagrid. " He t ried t o get past t hat
three- headed dog on Hallow een. I t bit him . We t hink he w as t rying t o st eal what ever
it's guarding."
   Hagrid dropped the teapot.
   "How do you know about Fluffy?" he said.
   " Fluffy?"
    "Yeah -- he's m ine -- bought him off a Greek chappie I m et in t he pub las' year --
I lent him to Dumbledore to guard the -- "
   "Yes?" said Harry eagerly.
   "Now, don't ask me anymore," said Hagrid gruffly. "That's top secret, that is."
   "But Snape's trying to steal it."
  " Rubbish," said Hagrid again. "Snape's a Hogwart s t eacher, he'd do not hin' of t he
sort."
   "So why did he just try and kill Harry?" cried Hermione.
   The afternoon's events certainly seemed to have changed her mind about Snape.
  " I know a j inx when I see one, Hagrid, I 've read all about t hem ! You've got t o
keep eye contact, and Snape wasn't blinking at all, I saw him!"
    " I 'm t ellin' yeh, yer wrong! " said Hagrid hot ly. " I don' know w hy Harry's broom
act ed like t hat , but Snape w ouldn' t ry an' kill a st udent ! Now , list en t o m e, all t hree
of yeh -- yer m eddlin' in t hings t hat don' concern yeh. I t 's dangerous. You forget
t hat dog, an' you forget what it 's guardin', t hat 's bet ween Professor Dum bledore an'
Nicolas Flamel -- "
   " Aha! " said Harry, " so t here's som eone called Nicolas Flamel involved, is there?"
   Hagrid looked furious with himself.




   Chapter Twelve
   The Mirror of Erised


    Christ m as w as com ing. One m orning in m id- Decem ber, Hogw art s w oke t o find
it self covered in several feet of snow . The lake froze solid and t he Weasley t wins
were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around,
bouncing off t he back of his t urban. The few owls t hat m anaged t o bat t le t heir w ay
t hrough t he st orm y sk y t o deliver m ail had t o be nursed back t o healt h by Hagrid
before they could fly off again.
   No one could wait for t he holidays t o st art . While t he Gryffindor com m on room
and t he Great Hall had roaring fires, t he draft y corridor s had becom e icy and a bit t er
wind rat t led t he windows in t he classroom s. Worst of all were Professor Snape's
classes down in t he dungeons, w here t heir breat h rose in a m ist before t hem and
they kept as close as possible to their hot cauldrons.
  "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 m easuring out powdered spine of lionfish, ignored t hem . Malfoy had been even
m ore unpleasant t han usual since t he Quiddit ch m at ch. Disgust ed t hat t he Slyt herins
had lost , he had t ried t o get everyone laughing at how a wide- m out hed t ree frog
would be replacing Harry as Seeker next . Then he'd realized t hat nobody found t his
funny, because t hey were all so im pressed at t he way Harry had m anaged t o st ay on
his bucking broom st ick. So Malfoy, j ealous and angry, had gone back t o t aunt ing
Harry about having no proper family.
   I t was t rue t hat Harry w asn't going back t o Privet Drive for Christ m as. Professor
McGonagall had com e around t he week before, m aking a list of st udent s who would
be st aying for t he holidays, and Harry had signed up at once. He didn't feel sorry for
him self at all; t his would probably be t he best Christ m as he'd ever had. Ron and his
brot hers were st aying, t oo, because Mr. and Mrs. Weasley w ere going t o Rom ania t o
visit Charlie.
   When t hey left t he dungeons at t he end of Pot ions, t hey found a large fir t ree
blocking t he corridor ahead. Tw o enorm ous feet st icking out at t he bot t om 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 m ind m oving out of t he way?" cam e Malfoy's cold drawl from behind
t hem . " Are you t rying t o earn som e ext ra m oney, Weasley? Hoping t o be
gam ekeeper yourself w hen you leave Hogwart s, I suppose -- t hat hut of Hagrid's
must seem like a palace compared to what your family's used to."
   Ron dived at Malfoy just as Snape came up the stairs.
   " WEASLEY! "
   Ron let go of the front of Malfoy's robes.
   " He was provoked, Professor Snape," said Hagrid, st icking his huge hairy face out
from behind the tree. "Malfoy was insultin' his family."
    " Be t hat as it m ay, fight ing is against Hogw art s rules, Hagrid," said Snape silkily.
" Five point s from Gryffindor, Weasley, and be grat eful it isn't m ore. Move along, all
of you."
  Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle pushed roughly past t he t ree, scat t ering needles
everywhere and smirking.
  " I 'll get him ," said Ron, grinding his t eet h at Malfoy's back, "one of t hese 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 t he t hree of t hem followed Hagrid and his t ree off t o t he Great Hall, w here
Professor McGonagall and Professor Flit wick were busy wit h t he Christ m as
decorations.
   "Ah, Hagrid, the last tree -- put it in the far corner, would you?"
  The hall looked spect acular. Fest oons of holly and m ist let oe hung all around t he
walls, and no less t han t welve t owering Christ m as t rees st ood around t he room ,
some sparkling with tiny icicles, some glittering with hundreds of candles.
   "How many days you got left until yer holidays?" Hagrid asked.
  " Just one," said Herm ione. " And t hat rem inds m e -- Harry, Ron, we've got half an
hour before lunch, we should be in the library."
   " Oh yeah, you're right ," said Ron, t earing his eyes away from Professor Flit wick,
who had golden bubbles blossom ing out of his wand and w as t railing t hem over t he
branches of the new tree.
   " The library?" said Hagrid, following t hem out of t he hall. " Just before t he
holidays? Bit keen, aren't yeh?"
   " Oh, w e're not working," Harry t old him bright ly. " Ever since you m ent ioned
Nicolas Flamel we've been trying to find out who he is."
  "You what?" Hagrid looked shocked. " List en here -- I 've t old yeh -- drop it . I t 's
nothin' to you what that dog's guardin'."
   "We just want to know who Nicolas Flamel is, that's all," said Hermione.
   " Unless you'd like t o t ell us and save us t he t rouble?" Harry added. " We m ust 've
been t hrough hundreds of books already and we can't find him anywhere -- j ust give
us a hint -- I know I've read his name somewhere."
   "I'm sayin' nothin', said Hagrid flatly.
   " Just have t o find out for ourselves, t hen," said Ron, and t hey left Hagrid looking
disgruntled and hurried off to the library.
    They had indeed been searching books for Flam el's nam e ever since Hagrid had
let it slip, because how else were t hey going t o find out what Snape was t rying t o
st eal? The t rouble was, it was very hard t o know where t o begin, not knowing w hat
Flamel might have done to get himself into a book. He wasn't in Great Wizards of the
Twent iet h Cent ury, or Not able Magical Nam es of Our Tim e; he was m issing, t oo,
from I m port ant Modern Magical Discoveries, and A St udy of Recent Developm ent s in
Wizardry. And t hen, of course, t here w as t he sheer size of t he library; t ens of
thousands of books; thousands of shelves; hundreds of narrow rows.
    Hermione took out a list of subjects and titles she had decided to search while Ron
st rode off down a row of books and st art ed pulling t hem off t he shelves at random .
Harry wandered over t o t he Rest rict ed Sect ion. He had been wondering for a while if
Flamel wasn't somewhere in there. Unfortunately, you needed a specially signed note
from one of t he t eachers t o look in any of t he rest rict ed books, and he knew he'd
never get one. These were the books containing powerful Dark Magic never taught at
Hogwart s, and only read by older st udent s st udying advanced Defense Against t he
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 t hinking up som e st ory, Harry left t he library.
He, Ron, and Hermione had already agreed they'd better not ask Madam Pince where
t hey could find Flam el. They w ere sure she'd be able t o t ell t hem , but t hey couldn't
risk Snape hearing what they were up to.
    Harry wait ed out side in t he corridor t o see if t he ot her t wo had found anyt hing,
but he w asn't very hopeful. They had been looking for t wo weeks, aft er A, but as
t hey only had odd m om ent s bet w een lessons it wasn't surprising t hey'd found
nothing. What t hey really needed was a nice long search wit hout Madam Pince
breathing down their necks.
   Five m inut es lat er, Ron and Herm ione j oined him , shaking t heir heads. They went
off to lunch.
  " You will keep looking w hile I 'm away, w on't you?" said Herm ione. "And send m e
an owl if you find anything."
   " And you could ask your parent s if t hey know who Flam el is," said Ron. " I t 'd be
safe to ask them."
   "Very safe, as they're both dentists," said Hermione.


    Once t he holidays had st art ed, Ron and Harry were having t oo good a t im e t o
t hink m uch about Flam el. They had t he dorm it ory t o t hem selves and t he com m on
room was far emptier than usual, so they were able to get the good armchairs by the
fire. They sat by t he hour eat ing anyt hing t hey could spear on a t oast ing fork --
bread, English m uffins, m arshm allows -- and plot t ing ways of get t ing Malfoy
expelled, which were fun to talk about even if they wouldn't work.
   Ron also st art ed t eaching Harry wizard chess. This w as exact ly like Muggle chess
except t hat t he figures were alive, which m ade it a lot like direct ing t roops in bat t le.
Ron's set was very old and bat t ered. Like everyt hing else he owned, it had once
belonged t o som eone else in his fam ily -- in t his case, his grandfat her. However, old
chessm en weren't a drawback at all. Ron knew t hem so well he never had t rouble
getting them to do what he wanted.
   Harry played wit h chessm en Seam us Finnigan had lent him , and t hey didn't t rust
him at all. He w asn't a very good player yet and t hey kept shout ing different bit s of
advice at him , which was confusing. " Don't send m e t here, can't you see his knight ?
Send him, we can afford to lose him."
   On Christ m as Eve, Harry went t o bed looking forward t o t he next day for t he food
and t he fun, but not expect ing any present s at all. When he woke early in t he
m orning, however, t he first t hing he saw was a sm all pile of packages at t he foot of
his bed.
   " Merry Christ m as," said Ron sleepily as Harry scram bled out of bed and pulled on
his bathrobe.
   "You, too," said Harry. "Will you look at this? I've got some presents!"
   " What did you expect , t urnips?" said Ron, t urning t o his ow n pile, which w as a lot
bigger than Harry's.
   Harry picked up t he t op parcel. I t was w rapped in t hick brown paper and scrawled
across it w as To Harry, from Hagrid. I nside was a roughly cut wooden flut e. Hagrid
had obviously whittled it himself. Harry blew it -- it sounded a bit like an owl.
   A second, very small parcel contained a note.
  We received your m essage and enclose your Christ m as present . From Uncle
Vernon and Aunt Petunia. Taped to the note was a fifty- pence piece.
   "That's friendly," said Harry.
   Ron was fascinated by the fifty pence.
   " Weird!" he said, "What a shape! This is money?"
  " You can keep it ," said Harry, laughing at how pleased Ron was. " Hagrid and m y
aunt and uncle -- so who sent these?"
   " I t hink I know who t hat one's from ," said Ron, t urning a bit pink and point ing t o
a very lum py parcel. " My m om . I t old her you didn't expect any present s and -- oh,
no," he groaned, "she's made you a Weasley sweater."
   Harry had t orn open t he parcel t o find a t hick, hand- knit t ed sweat er in em erald
green and a large box of homemade fudge.
   " Every year she m akes us a sweat er," said Ron, unwrapping his own, "and m ine's
always maroon."
   "That's really nice of her," said Harry, trying the fudge, which was very tasty.
  His next present also cont ained candy -- a large box of Chocolat e Frogs from
Hermione.
  This only left one parcel. Harry picked it up and felt it . I t w as very light . He
unwrapped it.
   Som et hing fluid and silvery gray went slit hering t o t he floor where it lay in
gleaming folds. Ron gasped.
  " I 've heard of t hose," he said in a hushed voice, dropping t he box of Every Flavor
Beans he'd got t en from Herm ione. " I f t hat 's what I t hink it is -- t hey're really rare,
and really valuable."
   "What is it?"
   Harry picked t he shining, silvery clot h off t he floor. I t was st range t o t he t ouch,
like water woven into material.
    " I t 's an invisibilit y cloak," said Ron, a look of awe on his face. " I 'm sure it is -- t ry
it on."
   Harry threw the cloak around his shoulders and Ron gave a yell.
   "It is! Look down!"
  Harry looked down at his feet , but t hey were gone. He dashed t o t he m irror. Sure
enough, his reflect ion looked back at him , j ust his head suspended in m idair, his
body com plet ely invisible. He pulled t he cloak over his head and his reflect ion
vanished completely.
   "There's a note!" said Ron suddenly. "A note fell out of it!"
  Harry pulled off t he cloak and seized t he let t er. Writ t en in narrow, loopy writ ing
he had never seen before were the following words:


   Your father left this in my possession before he died.
   It is time it was returned to you.
   Use it well.
   A Very Merry Christmas to you.
   There was no signature. Harry stared at the note. Ron was admiring the cloak.
   "I'd give anything for one of these," he said. "Anything. What's the matter?"
  " Not hing," said Harry. He felt very st range. Who had sent t he 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 with anyone else yet.
   "Merry Christmas!"
   "Hey, look -- Harry's got a Weasley sweater, too!"
   Fred and George were wearing blue sweat ers, one wit h a large yellow F on it , t he
other a G.
  " Harry's is bet t er t han ours, t hough," said Fred, holding up Harry's sw eat er. " She
obviously makes more of an effort if you're not family."
   " Why aren't you wearing yours, Ron?" George dem anded. " Com e on, get it on,
they're lovely and warm."
   "I hate maroon," Ron moaned halfheartedly as he pulled it over his head.
  " You haven't got a let t er on yours," George observed. " I suppose she t hinks you
don't forget your nam e. But we're not st upid -- we know we're called Gred and
Forge."
   "What's all this noise?"
   Percy Weasley st uck his head t hrough t he door, looking disapproving. He had
clearly got t en halfway t hrough unw rapping his present s as he, t oo, carried a lum py
sweater over his arm, which Fred seized.
  " P for prefect ! Get it on, Percy, com e on, we're all wearing ours, even Harry got
one."
  "I -- don't -- want -- " said Percy t hickly, as t he t wins forced t he sweat er over his
head, knocking his glasses askew.
   " And you're not sit t ing wit h t he prefect s t oday, eit her," said George. "Christ m as is
a time for family."
  They frog- m arched Percy from t he room , his arm s pinned t o his side by his
sweater.


    Harry had never in all his life had such a Christ m as dinner. A hundred fat , roast
t urkeys; m ount ains of roast and boiled pot at oes; plat t ers of chipolat as; t ureens of
but t ered peas, silver boat s of t hick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce - and st acks of
wizard crackers every few feet along t he t able. These fant ast ic part y favors w ere
not hing like t he feeble Muggle ones t he Dursleys usually bought , wit h t heir lit t le
plast ic t oys and t heir flim sy paper hat s inside. Harry pulled a wizard cracker wit h
Fred and it didn't j ust bang, it w ent off wit h a blast like a cannon and engulfed t hem
all in a cloud of blue sm oke, while from t he inside exploded a rear adm iral's hat and
several live, w hit e m ice. Up at t he High Table, Dum bledore had sw apped his point ed
wizard's hat for a flowered bonnet , and was chuckling m errily at a j oke Professor
Flitwick had just read him.
    Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. Percy nearly broke his teeth on a
silver sickle em bedded in his slice. Harry wat ched Hagrid get t ing redder and redder
in t he face as he called for m ore wine, finally kissing Professor McGonagall on t he
cheek, who, to Harry's amazement, giggled and blushed, her top hat lopsided.
    When Harry finally left t he t able, he was laden down wit h a st ack of t hings out of
t he crackers, including a pack of nonexplodable, lum inous balloons, a Grow- Your-
Own- Wart s kit , and his own new wizard chess set . The whit e m ice had disappeared
and Harry had a nast y feeling t hey were going t o end up as Mrs. Norris's Christ m as
dinner.
    Harry and t he Weasleys spent a happy aft ernoon having a furious snowball fight
on t he grounds. Then, cold, wet , and gasping for breat h, t hey ret urned t o t he fire in
t he Gryffindor com m on room , where Harry broke in his new chess set by losing
spect acularly t o Ron. He suspect ed he w ouldn't have lost so badly if Percy hadn't
tried to help him so much.
    After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone
felt t oo full and sleepy t o do m uch before bed except sit and wat ch Percy chase Fred
and George all over Gryffindor tower because they'd stolen his prefect badge.
     I t had been Harry's best Christ m as day ever. Yet som et hing had been nagging at
t he back of his m ind all day. Not unt il he clim bed int o bed was he free t o t hink 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
alm ost as soon as he'd drawn t he curt ains of his four- post er. Harry leaned over t he
side of his own bed and pulled the cloak out from under it.
  His fat her's ... t his had been his fat her's. He let t he m at erial flow over his hands,
smoother than silk, light as air. Use it well, the note had said.
   He had t o t ry it , now. He slipped out of bed and wrapped t he cloak around
himself. Looking down at his legs, he saw only moonlight and shadows. It was a very
funny feeling.
   Use it well.
   Suddenly, Harry felt wide- awake. The whole of Hogw art s was open t o him in t his
cloak. Excit em ent flooded t hrough him as he st ood t here in t he dark and silence. He
could go anywhere in this, anywhere, and Filch would never know.
   Ron grunt ed 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 t he dorm it ory, down t he st airs, across t he com m on room , and
climbed through the portrait hole.
  "Who's t here?" squawked t he Fat Lady. Harry said not hing. He walked quickly
down the corridor.
   Where should he go? He st opped, his heart racing, and t hought . And t hen it cam e
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 w as pit ch- black and very eerie. Harry lit a lam p t o see his way along
t he rows of books. The lam p looked as if it was float ing along in m idair, and even
though Harry could feel his arm supporting it, the sight gave him the creeps.
    The Rest rict ed Sect ion was right at t he back of t he library. St epping carefully over
t he rope t hat separat ed t hese books from t he rest of t he library, he held up his lam p
to read the titles.
    They didn't t ell him m uch. Their peeling, faded gold let t ers spelled words in
languages Harry couldn't underst and. Som e had no t it le at all. One book had a dark
st ain on it t hat looked horribly like blood. The hairs on t he back of Harry's neck
prickled. Maybe he was im agining it , m aybe not , but he t hought a faint whispering
was com ing from t he books, as t hough t hey knew som eone was t here who shouldn't
be.
    He had t o st art som ew here. Set t ing t he lam p down carefully on t he floor, he
looked along t he bot t om shelf for an int erest ing looking book. A large black and
silver volum e caught his eye. He pulled it out w it h difficult y, because it was very
heavy, and, balancing it on his knee, let it fall open.
    A piercing, bloodcurdling shriek split t he silence -- t he book was scream ing! Harry
snapped it shut , but t he shriek went on and on, one high, unbroken, earsplit t ing
not e. He st um bled backward and knocked over his lam p, w hich went out at once.
Panicking, he heard foot st eps com ing down t he corridor out side -- st uffing t he
shrieking book back on t he shelf, he ran for it . He passed Filch in t he doorway;
Filch's pale, w ild eyes looked st raight t hrough him , and Harry slipped under Filch's
out st ret ched arm and st reaked off up t he corridor, t he book's shrieks st ill ringing in
his ears.
   He cam e t o a sudden halt in front of a t all suit of arm or. He had been so busy
get t ing away from t he library, he hadn't paid at t ent ion t o where he was going.
Perhaps because it was dark, he didn't recognize where he was at all. There was a
suit of armor near the kitchens, he knew, but he must be five floors above there.
   " You asked m e t o com e direct ly t o you, Professor, if anyone was wandering
around at night, and somebody's been in the library Restricted Section."
   Harry felt t he blood drain out of his face. Wherever he was, Filch m ust know a
short cut , because his soft , greasy voice was get t ing nearer, and t o his horror, it was
Snape who replied, " The Rest rict ed Sect ion? Well, t hey can't be far, we'll catch
them."
  Harry st ood root ed t o t he spot as Filch and Snape cam e around t he corner ahead.
They couldn't see him, of course, but it was a narrow corridor and if they came much
nearer they'd knock right into him -- the cloak didn't stop him from being solid.
    He backed away as quiet ly as he could. A door st ood aj ar t o his left . I t was his
only hope. He squeezed t hrough it , holding his breat h, t rying not t o m ove it , and t o
his relief he m anaged t o get inside t he room wit hout t heir not icing anyt hing. They
walked st raight past , and Harry leaned against t he w all, breat hing deeply, list ening
t o t heir foot st eps dying aw ay. That had been close, very close. I t was a few seconds
before he noticed anything about the room he had hidden in.
   I t looked like an unused classroom . The dark shapes of desks and chairs w ere
piled against the walls, and there was an upturned wastepaper basket -- but propped
against t he wall facing him was som et hing t hat didn't look as if it belonged t here,
something that looked as if someone had just put it there to keep it out of the way.
    I t was a m agnificent m irror, as high as t he ceiling, wit h an ornat e gold fram e,
st anding on t w o clawed feet . There was an inscript ion carved around t he t op: Erised
st ra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. His panic fading now t hat t here w as no sound
of Filch and Snape, Harry m oved nearer t o t he m irror, want ing t o look at him self but
see no reflection again. He stepped in front of it.
   He had t o clap his hands t o his m out h t o st op him self from scream ing. He whirled
around. His heart w as pounding far m ore furiously t han when t he book had
screamed -- for he had seen not only him self in t he m irror, but a w hole crowd of
people standing right behind him.
   But the room was empty. Breathing very fast, he turned slowly back to the mirror.
   There he was, reflect ed in it , whit e and scared- looking, and t here, reflect ed
behind him , were at least t en ot hers. Harry looked over his shoulder -- but st ill, no
one was t here. Or were t hey all invisible, t oo? 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 t he m irror again. A w om an st anding right behind his reflect ion was
sm iling at him and waving. He reached out a hand and felt t he air behind him . I f she
was really t here, he'd t ouch her, t heir reflect ions w ere so close t oget her, 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
j ust like m ine, Harry t hought , edging a lit t le closer t o t he glass. Bright green --
exact ly t he sam e shape, but t hen he not iced t hat she was crying; sm iling, but crying
at t he sam e t im e. The t all, t hin, black- haired m an st anding next t o her put his arm
around her. He wore glasses, and his hair was very unt idy. I t st uck up at t he back,
just as Harry's did.
   Harry was so close t o t he m irror now t hat his nose was nearly t ouching t hat of his
reflection.
   " Mom ?" he whispered. " Dad?"
    They j ust looked at him , sm iling. And slowly, Harry looked int o t he faces of t he
ot her people in t he m irror, and saw ot her pairs of green eyes like his, ot her noses
like his, even a lit t le old m an who looked as t hough he had Harry's knobbly knees --
Harry was looking at his family, for the first time in his life.
  The Pot t ers sm iled and w aved at Harry and he st ared hungrily back at t hem , his
hands pressed flat against t he glass as t hough he w as hoping t o fall right t hrough it
and reach t hem . He had a powerful kind of ache inside him , half j oy, half t errible
sadness.
    How long he st ood t here, he didn't know. The reflect ions did not fade and he
looked and looked unt il a dist ant noise brought him back t o his senses. He couldn't
st ay here, he had t o find his way back t o bed. He t ore his eyes away from his
mother's face, whispered, "I'll come back," and hurried from the room.


   "You could have woken me up," said Ron, crossly.
   "You can come tonight, I'm going back, I want to show you the mirror.
   "I'd like to see your mom and dad," Ron said eagerly.
  " And I want t o see all your fam ily, all t he Weasleys, you'll be able t o show m e
your other brothers and everyone."
   " You can see t hem any old t im e," said Ron. " Just com e round m y house t his
sum m er. Anyway, m aybe it only shows dead people. Sham e about not finding
Flamel, though. Have some bacon or something, why aren't you eating anything?"
    Harry couldn't eat . He had seen his parent s and w ould be seeing t hem again
t onight . He had alm ost forgot t en about Flam el. I t didn't seem very im port ant
anym ore. Who cared what t he t hree headed dog was guarding? What did it m at t er if
Snape stole it, really?
   "Are you all right?" said Ron. "You look odd."


  What Harry feared m ost was t hat he m ight not be able t o find t he m irror room
again. Wit h Ron covered in t he cloak, t oo, t hey had t o w alk m uch m ore slowly t he
next night . They t ried ret racing Harry's rout e from t he library, w andering around t he
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 t he ghost of a t all wit ch gliding in t he opposit e direct ion, but saw no
one else. j ust as Ron st art ed m oaning t hat his feet were dead wit h cold, Harry
spotted the suit of armor.
   "It's here -- just here -- yes!"
  They pushed t he door open. Harry dropped t he cloak from around his shoulders
and ran to the mirror.
   There they were. His mother and father beamed at the sight of him.
   "See?" Harry whispered.
   "I can't see anything."
   "Look! Look at them all ... there are loads of them ... "
   "I can only see you."
   "Look in it properly, go on, stand where I am."
  Harry st epped aside, but wit h Ron in front of t he m irror, he couldn't see his fam ily
anymore, just Ron in his paisley pajamas.
   Ron, though, was staring transfixed at his image.
   "Look at me!" he said.
   "Can you see all your family standing around you?"
   " No -- I'm alone -- but I'm different -- I look older -- and I'm head boy!"
   " What?"
  " I am -- I 'm wearing t he badge like Bill used t o -- and I 'm holding t he house cup
and the Quidditch cup -- I'm Quidditch captain, too."
   Ron tore his eyes away from this splendid sight to look excitedly at Harry.
   "Do you think this mirror shows the future?"
   "How can it? All my family are dead -- let me have another look -- "
   "You had it to yourself all last night, give me a bit more time."
  " You're only holding t he Quiddit ch cup, what 's int erest ing about t hat ? I w ant t o
see my parents."
   "Don't push me -- "
   A sudden noise out side in t he corridor put an end t o t heir discussion. They hadn't
realized how loudly they had been talking.
   "Quick!"
   Ron t hrew t he cloak back over t hem as t he lum inous eyes of Mrs. Norris cam e
round t he door. Ron and Harry st ood quit e st ill, bot h t hinking t he sam e t hing -- 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 the next morning.
   " Want t o play chess, Harry?" said Ron.
   "No."
   "Why don't we go down and visit Hagrid?"
   "No ... you go ... "
   "I know what you're thinking about, Harry, that mirror. Don't go back tonight."
   "Why not?"
   " I dunno, I 've j ust got a bad feeling about it -- and anyway, you've had t oo m any
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 t hought in his head, which was t o get back in front of t he
mirror, and Ron wasn't going to stop him.


   That t hird night he found his way m ore quickly t han before. He was walking so
fast he knew he was making more noise than was wise, but he didn't meet anyone.
   And t here were his m ot her and fat her sm iling at him again, and one of his
grandfat hers nodding happily. Harry sank down t o sit on t he floor in front of t he
m irror. There w as not hing t o st op him from st aying here all night wit h his fam ily.
Nothing at all.
   Except --
   "So -- back again, Harry?"
   Harry felt as t hough his insides had t urned t o ice. He looked behind him . Sit t ing
on one of t he desks by t he w all was none ot her t han Albus Dum bledore. Harry m ust
have walked st raight past him , so desperat e t o get t o t he m irror he hadn't not iced
him.
   "I -- I didn't see you, sir."
  " St range how nearsight ed being invisible can m ake you," said Dum bledore, and
Harry was relieved to see that he was smiling.
    " So," said Dum bledore, slipping off t he desk t o sit on t he floor wit h Harry, " you,
like hundreds before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised."
   "I didn't know it was called that, Sir."
   "But I expect you've realized by now what it does?"
   "It -- well -- it shows me my family -- "
   "And it showed your friend Ron himself as head boy."
   "How did you know -- ?"
   "I don't need a cloak to become invisible," said Dumbledore gently. "Now, can you
think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?"
   Harry shook his head.
   " Let m e explain. The happiest m an on eart h would be able t o use t he Mirror of
Erised like a norm al m irror, t hat is, he w ould look int o it and see him self exact ly as
he is. Does that help?"
  Harry t hought . Then he said slowly, " I t shows us what w e want ... what ever we
want ... "
   "Yes and no," said Dumbledore quietly. "It shows us nothing more or less than the
deepest , m ost desperat e desire of our heart s. You, who have never known your
fam ily, see t hem st anding around you. Ronald Weasley, who has alw ays been
overshadowed by his brot hers, sees him self st anding alone, t he best of all of t hem .
However, t his m irror will give us neit her knowledge or t rut h. Men have w ast ed aw ay
before it , ent ranced by what t hey have seen, or been driven m ad, not knowing if
what it shows is real or even possible.
   " The Mirror w ill be m oved t o a new hom e t om orrow, Harry, and I ask you not t o
go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does
not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. Now, why don't you put
that admirable cloak back on and get off to bed?"
   Harry stood up.
   " Sir -- Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?"
   " Obviously, you've j ust done so," Dum bledore sm iled. " You m ay ask m e one m ore
thing, however."
   "What do you see when you look in the mirror?"
   "I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks."
   Harry stared.
  " One can never have enough socks," said Dum bledore. " Anot her Christ m as has
come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books."
    I t was only when he was back in bed t hat it st ruck Harry t hat Dum bledore m ight
not have been quit e t rut hful. But t hen, he t hought , as he shoved Scabbers off his
pillow, it had been quite a personal question.
   Chapter Thirteen
   Nicholas Flamel


   D um bledore had convinced Harry not t o go looking for t he Mirror of Erised again,
and for t he rest of t he Christ m as holidays t he invisibilit y cloak st ayed folded at t he
bot t om of his t runk. Harry wished he could forget w hat he'd seen in t he m irror as
easily, but he couldn't . He st art ed having night m ares. Over and over again he
dream ed about his parent s disappearing in a flash of green light , while a high voice
cackled with laughter.
  " You see, Dum bledore w as right , t hat m irror could drive you m ad," said Ron,
when Harry told him about these dreams.
    Herm ione, who cam e back t he day before t erm st art ed, t ook a different view of
t hings. She was t orn bet ween horror at t he idea of Harry being out of bed, roam ing
t he school t hree night s in a row ( " I f Filch had caught you!"), and disappointment that
he hadn't at least found out who Nicolas Flamel was.
    They had alm ost given up hope of ever finding Flam el in a library book, even
t hough Harry w as st ill sure he'd read t he nam e som ewhere. Once t erm had st art ed,
t hey were back t o skim m ing t hrough books for t en m inut es during t heir breaks.
Harry had even less t im e t han t he ot her t wo, because Quiddit ch pract ice had st art ed
again.
    Wood was working t he t eam harder t han ever. Even t he endless rain t hat had
replaced t he snow couldn't dam pen his spirit s. The Weasleys com plained t hat Wood
was becoming a fanatic, but Harry was on Wood's side. If they won their next match,
against Hufflepuff, t hey would overt ake Slyt herin in t he house cham pionship for t he
first t im e in seven years. Quit e apart from want ing t o win, Harry found t hat he had
fewer nightmares when he was tired out after training.
    Then, during one part icularly wet and m uddy pract ice session, Wood gave t he
t eam a bit of bad news. He'd j ust got t en very angry wit h t he Weasleys, who kept
dive- bombing each other and pretending to fall off their brooms.
   " Will you st op m essing around! " he yelled. " That 's exact ly t he sort of t hing t hat 'll
lose us t he m at ch! Snape's refereeing t his t im e, and he'll be looking for any excuse
to knock points off Gryffindor!"
   George Weasley really did fall off his broom at these words.
   " Snape's refereeing?" he splut t ered t hrough a m out hful of m ud. " When's he ever
refereed a Quiddit ch m at ch? He's not going t o be fair if we m ight overt ake
Slytherin."
   The rest of the team landed next to George to complain, too.
  " I t 's not my fault ," said Wood. " We've j ust got t o m ake 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 Quidditch ...
   The rest of t he t eam hung back t o t alk t o one anot her as usual at t he end of
pract ice, but Harry headed st raight back t o t he Gryffindor com m on room , where he
found Ron and Herm ione playing chess. Chess was t he only t hing Herm ione ever lost
at, something Harry and Ron thought was very good for her.
  " Don't t alk t o m e for a m om ent ," said Ron when Harry sat down next t o him , " I
need to concen -- " He caught sight of Harry's face.
   "What's the matter with you? You look terrible."
  Speaking quiet ly so t hat no one else would hear, Harry t old t he ot her t wo about
Snape's sudden, sinister desire to be a Quidditch referee.
   "Don't play," said Hermione at once.
   "Say you're ill," said Ron.
   "Pretend to break your leg," Hermione suggested.
   " Really break your leg," said Ron.
   " I can't ," said Harry. " There isn't a reserve Seeker. I f I back out , Gryffindor can't
play at all."
    At t hat m om ent Neville t oppled int o t he com m on room . How he had m anaged t o
clim b t hrough t he port rait hole was anyone's guess, because his legs had been st uck
t oget her wit h what t hey recognized at once as t he Leg- Locker Curse. He m ust have
had to bunny hop all the way up to Gryffindor tower.
  Everyone fell over laughing except Herm ione, w ho leapt up and perform ed t he
count ercurse. Neville's legs sprang apart and he got t o his feet , t rem bling. "What
happened?" Hermione asked him, leading him over to sit with Harry and Ron.
   " Malfoy," said Neville shakily. " I m et him out side t he library. He said he'd been
looking for someone to practice that on."
   "Go to Professor McGonagall!" Hermione urged Neville. "Report him!"
   Neville shook his head.
   "I don't want more trouble," he mumbled.
  " You've got t o st and up t o him , Neville! " said Ron. " He's used t o walking all over
people, but that's no reason to lie down in front of him and make it easier."
   " There's no need t o t ell m e I 'm not brave enough t o be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's
already done that," Neville choked out.
   Harry felt in t he pocket of his robes and pulled out a Chocolat e Frog, t he very last
one from t he box Herm ione had given him for Christ m as. He gave it t o Neville, who
looked as though he might cry.
  " You're wort h t welve of Malfoy," Harry said. " The Sort ing Hat chose you for
Gryffindor, didn't it? And where's Malfoy? In stinking Slytherin."
   Neville's lips twitched in a weak smile as he unwrapped the frog.
  " Thanks, Harry ... I t hink I 'll go t o bed ... D'you want t he card, you collect t hem,
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 st ared at t he back of t he card. Then he looked up at Ron and
Hermione.
   " I 've found him ! " he whispered. " I 've found Flam el! I told you I 'd read t he nam e
somewhere before, I read it on the train coming here -- listen to this: 'Dumbledore is
part icularly fam ous for his defeat of t he dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for t he
discovery of t he t welve uses of dragon's blood, and his work on alchem y wit h his
partner, Nicolas Flamel'!"
  Herm ione j um ped t o her feet . She hadn't looked so excit ed since t hey'd got t en
back the marks for their very first piece of homework.
  " St ay t here! " she said, and she sprint ed up t he st airs t o t he girls' dorm it ories.
Harry and Ron barely had t im e t o exchange m yst ified looks before she was dashing
back, an enormous old book in her arms.
    " I never t hought t o look in here! " she whispered excit edly. " I got t his out of t he
library weeks ago for a bit of light reading."
  " Light?" said Ron, but Herm ione t old him t o be quiet unt il she'd looked som et hing
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 ignored him.
  " Nicolas Flam el," she whispered dram at ically, " is t he only known m aker of t he
Sorcerer's Stone!"
   This didn't have quite the effect she'd expected.
   "The what?" said Harry and Ron.
   "Oh, honestly, don't you two read? Look -- read that, there."
   She pushed the book toward them, and Harry and Ron read:


    The ancient st udy of alchem y is concerned wit h m aking t he Sorcerer's St one, a
legendary subst ance wit h ast onishing powers. The st one w ill t ransform any m et al
int o pure gold. I t also produces t he Elix ir of Life, which w ill m ake t he drinker
immortal.
   There have been m any report s of t he Sorcerer's St one over t he cent uries, but t he
only St one current ly in exist ence belongs t o Mr. Nicolas Flam el, t he not ed alchem ist
and opera lover. Mr. Flam el, w ho celebrat ed his six hundred and sixt y- fift h birt hday
last year, enj oys a quiet life in Devon wit h his wife, Perenelle ( six hundred and fift y-
eight).


   " See?" said Herm ione, when Harry and Ron had finished. " The dog m ust be
guarding Flam el's Sorcerer's St one! I bet he asked Dum bledore t o keep it safe for
him , because t hey're friends and he knew som eone was aft er it , t hat 's why he
wanted the Stone moved out of Gringotts!"
  " A st one t hat m akes gold and st ops you from ever dying! " said Harry . " No wonder
Snape's after it! Anyone would want it."
  " And no wonder we couldn't find Flam el in t hat St udy of Recent Developm ent s in
Wizardry," said Ron. " He's not exact ly recent if he's six hundred and sixt y- five, is
he?"
   The next m orning in Defense Against t he Dark Art s, w hile copying down different
ways of t reat ing werewolf bit es, Harry and Ron w ere st ill discussing w hat t hey'd do
wit h a Sorcerer's St one if t hey had one. I t w asn't unt il Ron said he'd buy his own
Quidditch team that Harry remembered about Snape and the coming match.
    " I 'm going t o play," he t old Ron and Herm ione. " I f I don't , all t he Slyt herins will
t hink I 'm j ust t oo scared t o face Snape. I 'll show t hem ... it 'll really wipe t he sm iles
off their faces if we win."
   "Just as long as we're not wiping you off the field," said Hermione.


   As t he m at ch drew nearer, however, Harry becam e m ore and m ore nervous,
what ever he t old Ron and Herm ione. The rest of t he t eam w asn't t oo calm , eit her.
The idea of overt aking Slyt herin in t he house cham pionship was wonderful, no one
had done it for seven years, but would t hey be allowed t o, wit h such a biased
referee?
    Harry didn't know whet her he was im agining it or not , but he seem ed t o keep
running int o Snape wherever he went . At t im es, he even wondered whet her Snape
was following him , t rying t o cat ch him on his own. Pot ions lessons w ere t urning int o
a sort of weekly t ort ure, Snape w as so horrible t o Harry. Could Snape possibly know
t hey'd found out about t he Sorcerer's St one? Harry didn't see how he could -- yet he
sometimes had the horrible feeling that Snape could read minds.


   Harry knew, when t hey wished him good luck out side t he locker room s t he next
afternoon, that Ron and Hermione were wondering whether they'd ever see him alive
again. This wasn't what you'd call com fort ing. Harry hardly heard a word of Wood's
pep t alk as he pulled on his Quiddit ch robes and picked up his Nim bus Two
Thousand.
   Ron and Herm ione, m eanwhile, had found a place in t he st ands next t o Neville,
who couldn't understand why they looked so grim and worried, or why they had both
brought t heir wands t o t he m at ch. Lit t le did Harry know t hat Ron and Herm ione had
been secret ly pract icing t he Leg- Locker Curse. They'd got t en t he idea from Malfoy
using it on Neville, and were ready t o use it on Snape if he showed any sign of
wanting to hurt Harry.
  " Now , don't forget , it 's Locom ot or Mort is," Herm ione m ut t ered as Ron slipped his
wand up his sleeve.
   "I know," Ron snapped. "Don't nag."
   Back in the locker room, Wood had taken Harry aside.
  " Don't w ant t o pressure you, Pot t er, but if we ever need an early capt ure of t he
Snitch it's now. Finish the game before Snape can favor Hufflepuff too much."
   " The whole school's out t here! " said Fred Weasley, peering out of t he door. " Even
-- blimey -- Dumbledore's come to watch!"
   Harry's heart did a somersault.
  " Dumbledore?" he said, dashing t o t he door t o m ake sure. Fred was right . There
was no mistaking that silver beard.
  Harry could have laughed out loud w it h relief He w as safe. There was sim ply no
way that Snape would dare to try to hurt him if Dumbledore was watching.
    Perhaps that was why Snape was looking so angry as the teams marched onto the
field, something that Ron noticed, too.
  " I 've never seen Snape look so m ean," he t old Herm ione. "Look -- t hey're off.
Ouch!"
  Someone had poked Ron in the back of the head. It was Malfoy.
  "Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you there."
  Malfoy grinned broadly at Crabbe and Goyle.
   " Wonder how long Pot t er's going t o st ay on his broom t his t im e? Anyone want a
bet? What about you, Weasley?"
   Ron didn't answer; Snape had j ust awarded Hufflepuff a penalt y because George
Weasley had hit a Bludger at him . Herm ione, who had all her fingers crossed in her
lap, was squint ing fixedly at Harry, who w as circling t he gam e like a hawk, looking
for the Snitch.
   " You know how I t hink t hey choose people for t he Gryffindor t eam ?" said Malfoy
loudly a few m inut es lat er, as Snape awarded Hufflepuff anot her penalt y for no
reason at all. "I t 's people t hey feel sorry for. See, t here's Pot t er, who's got no
parent s, t hen t here's t he Weasleys, w ho've got no m oney -- you should be on t he
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 w it h laught er, but Ron, st ill not daring t o t ake
his eyes from the game, said, "You tell him, Neville."
  " Longbot t om , if brains were gold you'd be poorer t han Weasley, and t hat 's saying
something."
  Ron's nerves were already st ret ched t o t he breaking point w it h anxiet y about
Harry.
  "I'm warning you, Malfoy -- one more word -- "
  "Ron!" said Hermione suddenly, "Harry -- "
  "What? Where?"
   Harry had suddenly gone int o a spect acular dive, which drew gasps and cheers
from t he crow d. Herm ione st ood up, her crossed fingers in her m out h, as Harry
streaked toward the ground like a bullet.
   " You're in luck, Weasley, Pot t er's obviously spot t ed som e m oney on t he ground! "
said Malfoy.
  Ron snapped. Before Malfoy knew what was happening, Ron was on t op of him ,
wrest ling him t o t he ground. Neville hesit at ed, t hen clam bered over t he back of his
seat to help.
   " Com e on, Harry! " Herm ione scream ed, leaping ont o her seat t o wat ch as Harry
sped st raight at Snape -- she didn't even not ice Malfoy and Ron rolling around under
her seat , or t he scuffles and yelps com ing from t he whirl of fist s t hat w as Neville,
Crabbe, and Goyle.
   Up in t he air, Snape t urned on his broom st ick j ust in t im e t o see som et hing
scarlet shoot past him , m issing him by inches -- t he 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 gam e's over! Harry's w on! We've won! Gryffindor
is in t he lead! " shrieked Herm ione, dancing up and down on her seat and hugging
Parvati Patil in the row in front.
   Harry j um ped off his broom , a foot from t he ground. He couldn't believe it . He'd
done it -- t he gam e was over; it had barely last ed five m inut es. As Gryffindors cam e
spilling ont o t he field, he saw Snape land nearby, whit e- faced and t ight - lipped --
then Harry felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into Dumbledore's smiling face.
  " Well done," said Dum bledore quiet ly, so t hat only Harry could hear. " Nice t o see
you haven't been brooding about that mirror ... been keeping busy ... excellent ... "
   Snape spat bitterly on the ground.


   Harry left t he locker room alone som e t im e lat er, t o t ake his Nim bus Two
Thousand back t o t he broom shed. He couldn't ever rem em ber feeling happier. He'd
really done som et hing t o be proud of now -- no one could say he was j ust a fam ous
nam e any m ore. The evening air had never sm elled so sweet . He w alked over t he
dam p grass, reliving t he last hour in his head, which was a happy blur: Gryffindors
running t o lift him ont o t heir shoulders; Ron and Herm ione in t he dist ance, j um ping
up and down, Ron cheering through a heavy nosebleed.
  Harry had reached t he shed. He leaned against t he wooden door and looked up at
Hogwart s, w it h it s w indows glow ing red in t he set t ing sun. Gryffindor in t he lead.
He'd done it, he'd shown Snape ...
   And speaking of Snape ...
   A hooded figure cam e swift ly down t he front st eps of t he cast le. Clearly not
want ing t o be seen, it walked as fast as possible t oward t he forbidden forest . Harry's
vict ory faded from his m ind as he w at ched. He recognized t he figure's prowling w alk.
Snape, sneaking int o t he forest w hile everyone else was at dinner -- what was going
on?
  Harry j um ped back on his Nim bus Two Thousand and t ook off. Gliding silent ly
over the castle he saw Snape enter the forest at a run. He followed.
   The t rees were so t hick he couldn't see where Snape had gone. He flew in circles,
lower and low er, brushing t he t op branches of t rees unt il he heard voices. He glided
toward them and landed noiselessly in a towering beech tree.
   He clim bed carefully along one of t he branches, holding t ight t o his broom st ick,
trying to see through the leaves.
    Below, in a shadowy clearing, st ood Snape, but he wasn't alone. Quirrell was
t here, t oo. Harry couldn't m ake out t he look on his face, but he was st ut t ering 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 t hought we'd keep t his privat e," said Snape, his voice icy. " St udent s aren't
supposed to know about the Sorcerer's Stone, after all."
   Harry leaned forward. Quirrell was mumbling something. Snape interrupted him.
   "Have you found out how to get past that beast of Hagrid's yet?"
   "B- b- but Severus, I -- "
  " You don't want m e as your enem y, Quirrell," said Snape, t aking a st ep t oward
him.
   "I- I don't know what you -- "
   "You know perfectly well what I mean."
   An owl hoot ed loudly, and Harry nearly fell out of t he t ree. He st eadied him self 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 anot her lit t le chat soon, when you've had
time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie."
  He t hrew his cloak over his head and st rode out of t he clearing. I t was alm ost
dark now, but Harry could see Quirrell, st anding quit e st ill as t hough he was
petrified.


   "Harry, where have you been?" Hermione squeaked.
   " We w on! You w on! We won! " shout ed Ron, t hum ping Harry on t he back. " And I
gave Malfoy a black eye, and Neville t ried t o t ake on Crabbe and Goyle single-
handed! He's st ill out cold but Madam Pom frey says he'll be all right -- t alk about
showing Slyt herin! I 've wait ing for you in t he com m on room , we're having a part y,
Fred and George stole some cakes and stuff from the kitchens."
  " Never m ind t hat now," said Harry breat hlessly. " Let 's find an em pt y 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 t he Sorcerer's St one, and Snape's t rying t o force Quirrell
t o help him get it . He asked if he knew how t o get past Fluffy -- and he said
som et hing about Quirrell's 'hocus pocus' -- I reckon t here are ot her t hings guarding
t he st one apart from Fluffy, loads of enchant m ent s, probably, and Quirrell would
have done some anti- Dark Arts spell that Snape needs to break through -- "
  " So you m ean t he St one's only safe as long as Quirrell st ands up t o Snape?" said
Hermione in alarm.
   "It'll be gone by next Tuesday," said Ron.




   Chapter Fourteen
   Norbert The Norwegian Ridgeback


   Quirrell, however, m ust     have been braver t han t hey'd t hought . I n t he weeks t hat
followed he did seem t o be get t ing paler and t hinner, but it didn't look as t hough
he'd cracked yet.
   Every t im e t hey passed t he t hird- floor corridor, Harry, Ron, and Herm ione would
press t heir ears t o t he door t o check t hat Fluffy w as st ill growling inside. Snape was
sweeping about in his usual bad t em per, which surely m eant t hat t he St one was st ill
safe. Whenever Harry passed Quirrell t hese days he gave him an encouraging sort of
smile, and Ron had started telling people off for laughing at Quirrell's stutter.
    Herm ione, however, had m ore on her m ind t han t he Sorcerer's St one. She had
st art ed drawing up st udy schedules and color coding all her not es. Harry and Ron
wouldn't have minded, but she kept nagging them to do the same.
   "Hermione, the exams are ages away."
   " Ten weeks," Herm ione snapped. " That 's not ages, t hat 's like a second t o Nicolas
Flamel."
   " But we're not six hundred years old," Ron rem inded her. " Anyway, what are you
studying for, you already know it's an A."
   "What am I studying for? Are you crazy? You realize we need to pass these exams
to get into the second year? They're very important, I should have started studying a
month ago, I don't know what's gotten into me ... "
    Unfort unat ely, t he t eachers seem ed t o be t hinking along t he sam e lines as
Herm ione. They piled so m uch hom ework on t hem t hat t he East er holidays w eren't
nearly as m uch fun as t he Christ m as ones. I t w as hard t o relax wit h Herm ione next
t o you recit ing t he t welve uses of dragon's blood or pract icing wand m ovem ent s.
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 rem em ber t his," Ron burst out one aft ernoon, t hrowing down his quill
and looking longingly out of t he library window. I t was t he first really fine day t hey'd
had in m ont hs. The sky w as a clear, forget - me- not blue, and t here w as a feeling in
the air of summer coming.
   Harry, who w as looking up "Dit t any" 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 shift y voice t hat got t heir int erest at once. " An' w hat 're
you lot up t er?" He looked suddenly suspicious. " Yer not st ill lookin' fer Nicolas
Flamel, are yeh?"
  " Oh, we found out who he is ages ago," said Ron im pressively. " And w e know
what that dog's guarding, it's a Sorcerer's St -- "
  " Shhhh! " Hagrid looked around quickly t o see if anyone w as list ening. " Don' go
shoutin' about it, what's the matter with yeh?"
   " There are a few t hings w e want ed t o ask you, as a m at t er of fact ," said Harry,
"about what's guarding the Stone apart from Fluffy -- "
     " SHHHH! " said Hagrid again. " List en -- com e an' see m e lat er, I 'm not prom isin'
I 'll t ell yeh anyt hin', m ind, but don' go rabbit in' about it in here, st udent s 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 thoughtfully.
   "Do you think it had anything to do with the Stone?"
   " I 'm going t o see what sect ion he was in," said Ron, who'd had enough of
working. He cam e back a m inut e lat er wit h a pile of books in his arm s and slam m ed
them down on the table.
   " Dragons! " he whispered. " Hagrid w as looking up st uff about dragons! Look at
these: Dragon Species of Great Brit ain and I reland; From Egg t o I nferno, A Dragon
Keeper's Guide."
   " Hagrid's always w ant ed a dragon, he t old m e so t he first t im e I ever m et him , "
said Harry.
   " But it 's against our laws," said Ron. " Dragon breeding was out law ed by t he
Warlocks' Convent ion of 1709, everyone knows t hat . I t 's hard t o st op Muggles from
not icing us if we're keeping dragons in t he back garden -- anyway, you can't t am e
dragons, it 's dangerous. You should see t he burns Charlie's got off wild ones in
Romania."
   "But there aren't wild dragons in Britain?" said Harry.
  " Of course t here are," said Ron. " Com m on Welsh Green and Hebridean Blacks.
The Minist ry of Magic has a j ob hushing t hem up, I can t ell you. Our kind have t o
keep putting spells on Muggles who've spotted them, to make them forget."
   " So what on eart h's Hagrid up t o?" said Herm ione.


    When t hey knocked on t he door of t he gam ekeeper's hut an hour lat er, t hey 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.
   I t was st ifling hot inside. Even t hough it was such a warm day, t here was a
blazing fire in t he grat e. Hagrid m ade t hem t ea and offered t hem st oat sandw iches,
which they refused.
   "So -- yeh wanted to ask me somethin'?"
   " Yes," said Harry. There w as no point beat ing around t he bush. " We w ere
wondering if you could t ell us w hat 's guarding t he Sorcerer's St one apart from
Fluffy."
   Hagrid frowned at him.
   " O' course I can't ," he said. " Num ber one, I don' know m eself. Num ber t wo, yeh
know t oo m uch already, so I wouldn' t ell yeh if I could. That St one's here fer a good
reason. I t w as alm ost st olen out t a Gringot t s -- I s'ppose yeh've w orked t hat out an'
all? Beats me how yeh even know abou' Fluffy."
  " Oh, com e on, Hagrid, you m ight not want t o t ell us, but you do know, you know
everyt hing t hat goes on round here," said Herm ione in a warm , flat t ering voice.
Hagrid's beard t wit ched and t hey could t ell he was sm iling. " We only wondered who
had done t he guarding, really." Herm ione went on. " We w ondered who Dum bledore
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 m e ... t hen som e o' t he t eachers did enchant m ent s ... Professor Sprout --
Professor Flit wick -- Professor McGonagall -- " he t icked t hem off on his fingers,
" Professor Quirrell -- an' Dum bledore him self did som et hin', o' course. Hang on, I 've
forgotten someone. Oh yeah, Professor Snape."
   " Snape?"
  "Yeah -- yer not st ill on abou' t hat , are yeh? Look, Snape helped protect t he
Stone, he's not about ter steal it."
    Harry knew Ron and Herm ione were t hinking t he sam e as he was. I f Snape had
been in on prot ect ing t he St one, it m ust have been easy t o find out how t he ot her
t eachers had guarded it . He probably knew everyt hing -- except , it seem ed,
Quirrell's spell and how to get past Fluffy.
   "You're t he only one who knows how t o get past Fluffy. aren't you, Hagrid?" said
Harry anxiously. " And you w ouldn't t ell anyone, would you? Not even one of t he
teachers?"
   "Not a soul knows except me an' Dumbledore," said Hagrid proudly.
   " Well, t hat 's som et hing," Harry m ut t ered t o t he ot hers. " Hagrid, can we have a
window open? I'm boiling."
   " Can't , Harry, sorry," said Hagrid. Harry not iced him glance at t he fire. Harry
looked at it, too.
   "Hagrid -- what's that?"
   But he already knew what it was. I n t he very heart of t he fire, underneat h t he
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 t he fire t o 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 int o a gam e o' cards wit h a st ranger. Think he was quit e glad t er get rid of it , t er
be honest."
   "But what are you going to do with it when it's hatched?" said Hermione.
   " Well, I 've bin doin' som e 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 out t a dat e, o' course, but it 's all in here. Keep t he egg in t he fire, 'cause t heir
m ot hers breat he on I em , see, an' when it hat ches, feed it on a bucket o' brandy
m ixed w it h chicken blood every half hour. An' see here -- how t er recognize diff'rent
eggs -- what I got there's a Norwegian Ridgeback. They're rare, them."
   He looked very pleased with himself, but Hermione didn't.
   "Hagrid, you live in a wooden house," she said.
   But Hagrid wasn't listening. He was humming merrily as he stoked the fire.


  So now t hey had som et hing else t o w orry about : what m ight happen t o Hagrid if
anyone found out he was hiding an illegal dragon in his hut.
   " Wonder what it 's like t o have a peaceful life," Ron sighed, as evening aft er
evening t hey st ruggled t hrough all t he ext ra hom ework t hey were get t ing. Herm ione
had now st art ed m aking st udy schedules for Harry and Ron, t oo. I t was driving t hem
nuts.
  Then, one breakfast t im e, Hedwig brought Harry anot her not e 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 dragon hatching?"
   " We've got lessons, we'll get int o t rouble, and t hat 's not hing t o what Hagrid's
going to be in when someone finds out what he's doing -- "
  "Shut up!" Harry whispered.
  Malfoy was only a few feet away and he had st opped dead t o list en. How m uch
had he heard? Harry didn't like the look on Malfoy's face at all.
    Ron and Herm ione argued all t he way t o Herbology and in t he end, Herm ione
agreed t o run down t o Hagrid's wit h t he ot her t wo during m orning break. When t he
bell sounded from t he cast le at t he end of t heir lesson, t he t hree of t hem dropped
t heir t row els at once and hurried t hrough t he grounds t o t he edge of t he forest .
Hagrid greeted them, looking flushed and excited.
  "It's nearly out." He ushered them inside.
   The egg was lying on t he t able. There were deep cracks in it . Som et hing was
m oving inside; a funny clicking noise was com ing from it.
  They all drew their chairs up to the table and watched with bated breath.
   All at once t here was a scraping noise and t he egg split open. The baby dragon
flopped ont o t he t able. I t w asn't exact ly pret t y; Harry t hought it looked like a
crum pled, black um brella. I t s spiny wings were huge com pared t o it s skinny j et
body, it had a long snout wit h wide nost rils, t he st ubs of horns and bulging, orange
eyes.
  It sneezed. A couple of sparks flew out of its snout.
   " I sn't he beautiful?" Hagrid m urm ured. He reached out a hand t o st roke t he
dragon's head. It snapped at his fingers, showing pointed fangs.
  "Bless him, look, he knows his mommy!" said Hagrid.
  "Hagrid," said Hermione, "how fast do Norwegian Ridgebacks grow, exactly?"
   Hagrid was about t o answer when t he color suddenly drained from his face -- he
leapt to his feet and ran to the window.
  "What's the matter?"
  " Som eone was lookin' t hrough t he gap in t he curt ains -- it 's a kid -- he's runnin'
back up ter the school."
  Harry bolt ed t o t he door and looked out . Even at a dist ance t here was no
mistaking him.
  Malfoy had seen the dragon.


  Som et hing about t he sm ile lurking on Malfoy's face during t he next week m ade
Harry, Ron, and Herm ione very nervous. They spent m ost of t heir free t im e 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 t he dragon. I t had grown t hree t im es in lengt h in j ust a week.
Sm oke kept furling out of it s nost rils. Hagrid hadn't been doing his gam ekeeping
dut ies because t he dragon was keeping him so busy. There were em pt y brandy
bottles and chicken feathers all over the floor.
  " I 've decided t o call him Norbert ," said Hagrid, looking at t he dragon wit h m ist y
eyes. "He really knows me now, watch. Norbert! Norbert! Where's Mommy?"
   "He's lost his marbles," Ron muttered in Harry's ear.
   " Hagrid," said Harry loudly, " give it t wo weeks and Norbert 's going t o be as long
as your house. Malfoy could go to Dumbledore at any moment."
   Hagrid bit his lip.
   "I -- I know I can't keep him forever, but I can't jus' dump him, I can't."
   Harry suddenly turned to Ron. "Charlie." he said.
   " You're losing it , t oo," said Ron. " I 'm Ron, rem em ber?"
  "No -- Charlie -- your brot her, Charlie. I n Rom ania. St udying 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 Herm ione and Harry
sit t ing alone in t he com m on room , long aft er everyone else had gone t o bed. The
clock on t he wall had j ust chim ed m idnight w hen t he port rait 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 , w ho w as now eat ing dead rat s by t he
crate.
     " I t bit m e! " he said, showing t hem his hand, which was wrapped in a bloody
handkerchief. "I 'm not going t o be able t o hold a quill for a w eek. I t ell you, t hat
dragon's t he m ost horrible anim al I 've ever m et , but t he way Hagrid goes on about
it , you'd t hink it w as a fluffy lit t le bunny rabbit . When it bit m e he t old m e off for
frightening it. And when I left, he was singing it a lullaby."
   There was a tap on the dark window.
   "It's Hedwig!" said Harry, hurrying to let her in. "She'll have Charlie's answer!"
   The three of them put their heads together to read the note.


   Dear Ron,
   How are you? Thanks for t he let t er -- I 'd be glad t o t ake t he Norw egian
Ridgeback, but it w on't be easy get t ing him here. I t hink t he best t hing will be t o
send him over wit h som e friends of m ine who are com ing t o visit m e next week.
Trouble is, they mustn't be seen carrying an illegal dragon.
  Could you get t he Ridgeback up t he t allest t ower at m idnight on Sat urday? They
can meet you there and take him away while it's still dark.
   Send me an answer as soon as possible.


   Love,
   Charlie


   They looked at one another.
   " We've got t he invisibilit y cloak," said Harry. " I t shouldn't be t oo difficult - I t hink
the cloaks big enough to cover two of us and Norbert."
   I t was a m ark of how bad t he last week had been t hat t he ot her t wo agreed wit h
him. Anything to get rid of Norbert -- and Malfoy.


   There was a hitch. By the next morning, Ron's bitten hand had swollen to twice its
usual size. He didn't know whet her it w as safe t o go t o Madam Pom frey -- would she
recognize a dragon bit e? By t he aft ernoon, t hough, he had no choice. The cut had
turned a nasty shade of green. It looked as if Norbert's fangs were poisonous.
  Harry and Herm ione rushed up t o t he hospit al wing at t he end of t he day t o find
Ron in a terrible state in bed.
    " I t 's not j ust m y hand," he whispered, " alt hough t hat feels like it 's about t o fall
off. Malfoy t old Madam Pom frey he want ed t o borrow one of m y books so he could
com e and have a good laugh at m e. He kept t hreat ening t o t ell her w hat really bit
me -- I 've t old her it was a dog, but I don't t hink she believes m e -- 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.
  " I t 'll all be over at m idnight on Sat urday," said Herm ione, but t his didn't soot he
Ron at all. On the contrary, he sat bolt upright and broke into a sweat.
  " Midnight on Sat urday! " he said in a hoarse voice. " Oh no oh no -- I 've j ust
remembered -- Charlie's let t er was in t hat book Malfoy t ook, he's going t o know
we're getting rid of Norbert."
   Harry and Herm ione didn't get a chance t o answer. Madam Pom frey cam e over at
that moment and made them leave, saying Ron needed sleep.


    " I t 's t oo lat e t o change t he plan now," Harry t old Herm ione. " We haven't got t im e
t o send Charlie anot her owl, and t his could be our only chance t o get rid of Norbert.
We'll have t o risk it . And we have got t he invisibilit y cloak, Malfoy doesn't know
about that."
  They found Fang, t he boarhound, sit t ing out side wit h a bandaged t ail when t hey
went to tell Hagrid, who opened a window to talk to them.
  " I won't let you in," he puffed. "Norbert 's at a t ricky st age -- not hin' I can't
handle."
   When t hey t old him about Charlie's let t er, his eyes filled wit h t ears, alt hough t hat
might have been because Norbert had just bitten him on the leg.
    " Aargh! I t 's all right , he only got m y boot -- j us' playin' -- he's only a baby, aft er
all."
  The baby banged it s t ail on t he w all, m aking t he windows rat t le. Harry and
Hermione walked back to the castle feeling Saturday couldn't come quickly enough.


    They w ould have felt sorry for Hagrid w hen t he t im e cam e for him t o say good-
bye t o Norbert if t hey hadn't been so worried about w hat t hey had t o do. I t w as a
very dark, cloudy night , and t hey were a bit lat e arriving at Hagrid's hut because
t hey'd had t o wait for Peeves t o get out of t heir w ay in t he ent rance hall, where he'd
been playing t ennis against t he wall. Hagrid had Norbert packed and ready in a large
crate.
   " He's got lot s o' rat s an' som e brandy fer t he j ourney," said Hagrid in a m uffled
voice. "An' I've packed his teddy bear in case he gets lonely."
   From inside t he crat e cam e ripping noises t hat sounded t o Harry as t hough t he
teddy was having his head torn off.
    "Bye- bye, Norbert!" Hagrid sobbed, as Harry and Hermione covered the crate with
t he invisibilit y cloak and st epped underneat h it t hem selves. " Mom m y will never
forget you!"
   How t hey m anaged t o get t he crat e back up t o t he cast le, t hey never knew.
Midnight t icked nearer as t hey heaved Norbert up t he m arble st aircase in t he
ent rance hall and along t he dark corridors. Up anot her st aircase, t hen anot her --
even one of Harry's shortcuts didn't make the work much easier.
   " Nearly t here! " Harry pant ed as t hey reached t he corridor beneat h t he t allest
tower.
    Then a sudden m ovem ent ahead of t hem m ade t hem alm ost drop t he crat e.
Forget t ing t hat t hey were already invisible, t hey shrank int o t he shadow s, st aring at
t he dark out lines of t wo people grappling wit h each ot her t en feet away. A lam p
flared.
   Professor McGonagall, in a tartan bathrobe and a hair net, had Malfoy by the ear.
    " Det ent ion! " she shout ed. " And t w ent y point s from Slyt herin! Wandering around
in the middle of the night, how dare you -- "
   " You don't underst and, Professor. Harry Pot t er's com ing -- he's got a dragon!"
  " What ut t er rubbish! How dare you t ell such lies! Com e on -- I shall see Professor
Snape about you, Malfoy!"
    The st eep spiral st aircase up t o t he t op of t he t ower seem ed t he easiest t hing in
t he world aft er t hat . Not unt il t hey'd st epped out int o t he cold night air did t hey
t hrow off t he cloak, glad t o be able t o breat he properly again. Herm ione did a sort of
jig.
   "Malfoy's got detention! I could sing!"
   "Don't," Harry advised her.
   Chuckling about Malfoy, t hey wait ed, Norbert t hrashing about in his crat e. About
ten minutes later, four broomsticks came swooping down out of the darkness.
    Charlie's friends were a cheery lot . They showed Harry and Herm ione t he harness
t hey'd rigged up, so t hey could suspend Norbert bet ween t hem . They all helped
buckle Norbert safely int o it and t hen Harry and Herm ione shook hands wit h t he
others and thanked them very much.
   At last, Norbert was going ... going ... gone.
  They slipped back down t he spiral st aircase, t heir heart s as light as t heir hands,
now t hat Norbert was off t hem . No m ore dragon -- Malfoy in det ent ion -- w hat could
spoil their happiness?
   The answer t o t hat w as wait ing at t he foot of t he st airs. As t hey st epped int o t he
corridor, Filch's face loomed suddenly out of the darkness.
   "Well, well, well," he whispered, "we are in trouble."
   They'd left the invisibility cloak on top of the tower.




   Chapter Fifteen
   The Forbidden Forest


   Things couldn't have been worse.
    Filch t ook t hem down t o Professor McGonagall's st udy on t he first floor, w here
t hey sat and w ait ed wit hout saying a word t o each ot her. Herm ione was t rem bling.
Excuses, alibis, and wild cover- up st ories chased each ot her around Harry's brain,
each m ore feeble t han t he last . He couldn't see how t hey were going t o get out of
t rouble t his t im e. They were cornered. How could t hey have been so st upid as t o
forget t he cloak? There was no reason on eart h t hat Professor McGonagall would
accept for their being out of bed and creeping around the school in the dead of night,
let alone being up t he t allest ast ronom y t ower, which was out - of- bounds except for
classes. Add Norbert and t he invisibilit y cloak, and t hey m ight as w ell be packing
their bags already.
   Had Harry t hought t hat t hings couldn't have been worse? He was wrong. When
Professor McGonagall appeared, she was leading Neville.
   " Harry! " Neville burst out , t he m om ent he saw t he ot her t wo. " I was t rying t o find
you to warn you, I heard Malfoy saying he was going to catch you, he said you had a
drag -- "
   Harry shook his head violent ly t o shut Neville up, but Professor McGonagall had
seen. She looked m ore likely t o breat he fire t han Norbert as she t ow ered over t he
three of them.
   " I would never have believed it of any of you. Mr. Filch says you were up in t he
astronomy tower. It's one o'clock in the morning. Explain yourselves."
  I t was t he first t im e Herm ione had ever failed t o answer a t eacher's quest ion. She
was staring at her slippers, as still as a statue.
   " I t hink I 've got a good idea of what 's been going on," said Professor McGonagall.
" I t doesn't t ake a genius t o work it out . You fed Draco Malfoy som e cock- and- bull
st ory about a dragon, t rying t o get him out of bed and int o t rouble. I 've already
caught him . I suppose you t hink it 's funny that Longbottom here heard the story and
believed it, too?"
    Harry caught Neville's eye and t ried t o t ell him wit hout words t hat t his wasn't
t rue, because Neville was looking st unned 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 disgust ed," said Professor McGonagall. " Four st udent s out of bed in one
night ! I 've never heard of such a t hing before! You, Miss Granger, I t hought you had
m ore sense. As for you, Mr. Pot t er, I t hought Gryffindor m eant m ore t o you t han
t his. All t hree of you will receive det ent ions -- yes, you t oo, Mr. Longbot t om , nothing
gives you t he right t o walk around school at night , especially t hese days, it 's very
dangerous -- and fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor."
  " Fifty?" Harry gasped -- t hey would lose t he lead, t he lead he'd won in t he last
Quidditch match.
   "Fifty points each," said Professor McGonagall, breathing heavily through her long,
pointed nose.
   "Professor -- please -- "
   "You can't -- "
   "Don't t ell m e what I can and can't do, Pot t er. Now get back t o bed, all of you.
I've never been more ashamed of Gryffindor students."
    A hundred and fift y point s lost . That put Gryffindor in last place. I n one night ,
t hey'd ruined any chance Gryffindor had had for t he house cup. Harry felt as t hough
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 int o his pillow for what
seem ed like hours. Harry couldn't t hink of anyt hing t o say t o com fort him . He knew
Neville, like him self, was dreading t he dawn. What would happen when t he rest of
Gryffindor found out what they'd done?


    At first , Gryffindors passing t he giant hourglasses t hat recorded t he house point s
t he next day t hought t here'd been a m ist ake. How could t hey suddenly have a
hundred and fift y point s few er t han yest erday? And t hen t he st ory st art ed t o spread:
Harry Pot t er, t he fam ous Harry Pot t er, t heir hero of t wo Quiddit ch m at ches, had lost
them all those points, him and a couple of other stupid first years.
   From being one of t he m ost popular and adm ired people at t he school, Harry was
suddenly t he m ost hat ed. Even Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs t urned on him , because
everyone had been longing t o see Slyt herin lose t he house cup. Everyw here Harry
went , people point ed and didn't t rouble t o lower t heir voices as t hey insult ed him .
Slyt herins, on t he ot her hand, clapped as he walked past t hem , whist ling and
cheering, "Thanks Potter, we owe you one!"
   Only Ron stood by him.
    "They'll all forget this in a few weeks. Fred and George have lost loads of points in
all the time they've been here, and people still like them."
  " They've never lost a hundred and fift y point s in one go, t hough, have t hey?" said
Harry miserably.
   "Well -- no," Ron admitted.
    It was a bit late to repair the damage, but Harry swore to himself not to meddle in
t hings t hat weren't his business from now on. He'd had it wit h sneaking around and
spying. He felt so asham ed of him self t hat he went t o Wood and offered t o resign
from the Quidditch team.
   " Resign?" Wood t hundered. " What good'll t hat do? How are we going t o get any
points back if we can't win at Quidditch?"
  But even Quiddit ch had lost it s fun. The rest of t he t eam wouldn't speak t o Harry
during practice, and if they had to speak about him, they called him "the Seeker."
  Herm ione and Neville were suffering, t oo. They didn't have as bad a t im e as
Harry, because they weren't as well- known, but nobody would speak to them, either.
Herm ione had st opped drawing at t ent ion t o herself in class, keeping her head down
and working in silence.
    Harry was almost glad that the exams weren't far away. All the studying he had to
do kept his m ind off his m isery. He, Ron, and Herm ione kept t o t hem selves, w orking
lat e int o t he night , t rying t o rem em ber t he ingredient s in com plicat ed pot ions, learn
charm s and spells by heart , m em orize t he dat es of m agical discoveries and goblin
rebellions ...
   Then, about a w eek before t he exam s were due t o st art , Harry's new resolut ion
not t o int erfere in anyt hing t hat didn't concern him w as put t o an unexpect ed t est .
Walking back from t he library on his own one aft ernoon, he heard som ebody
whimpering from a classroom up ahead. As he drew closer, he heard Quirrell's voice.
   "No -- no -- not again, please -- "
   It sounded as though someone was threatening him. Harry moved closer.
   "All right -- all right -- " he heard Quirrell sob.
    Next second, Quirrell came hurrying out of the classroom straightening his turban.
He w as pale and looked as t hough he w as about t o cry. He st rode out of sight ; Harry
didn't t hink Quirrell had even not iced him . He wait ed unt il Quirrell's foot st eps had
disappeared, t hen peered int o t he classroom . I t was em pt y, but a door st ood aj ar at
t he ot her end. Harry was halfway t oward it before he rem em bered w hat he'd
promised himself about not meddling.
    All the same, he'd have gambled twelve Sorcerer's Stones that Snape had just left
t he room , and from what Harry had j ust heard, Snape would be walking wit h a new
spring in his step -- Quirrell seemed to have given in at last.
  Harry went back t o t he library, where Herm ione was t est ing Ron on Ast ronom y.
Harry told them what he'd heard.
  " Snape's done it , t hen! " said Ron. " I f Quirrell's t old him how t o break his Ant i-
Dark Force spell -- "
   "There's still Fluffy, though," said Hermione.
   " Maybe Snape's found out how t o get past him wit hout asking Hagrid," said Ron,
looking up at t he t housands of books surrounding t hem . "I bet t here'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 advent ure was kindling again in Ron's eyes, but Herm ione answered
before Harry could.
  " Go t o Dum bledore. That 's what we should have done ages ago. I f we t ry
anything ourselves we'll be thrown out for sure."
    " But we've got no proof! " said Harry. "Quirrell's t oo scared t o back us up. Snape's
only got t o say he doesn't know how t he t roll got in at Halloween and t hat he was
nowhere near t he t hird floor -- w ho do you t hink t hey'll believe, him or us? I t 's not
exact ly a secret we hat e him , Dum bledore'll t hink we m ade it up t o get him sacked.
Filch wouldn't help us if his life depended on it , he's t oo friendly wit h Snape, and t he
m ore st udent s get t hrown out , t he bet t er, he'll t hink. And don't forget , we're not
supposed to know about the Stone or Fluffy. That'll take a lot of explaining."
   Hermione looked convinced, but Ron didn't.
   "If we just do a bit of poking around -- "
   "No," said Harry flatly, "we've done enough poking around."
  He pulled a m ap of Jupit er t oward him and st art ed t o learn t he nam es of it s
moons.


   The following m orning, not es were delivered t o Harry, Herm ione, and Neville at
the breakfast table. They were all the same:


   Your detention will take place at eleven o'clock tonight.
   Meet Mr. Filch in the entrance hall.


   Professor McGonagall


    Harry had forgot t en t hey st ill had det ent ions t o do in t he furor over t he point s
t hey'd lost . He half expect ed Herm ione t o com plain t hat t his was a w hole night of
st udying lost , but she didn't say a word. Like Harry, she felt t hey deserved w hat
they'd got.
  At eleven o'clock t hat night , t hey said good- bye t o Ron in t he com m on room and
went down t o t he ent rance hall wit h Neville. Filch was already t here -- and so was
Malfoy. Harry had also forgotten that Malfoy had gotten a detention, too.
   "Follow me," said Filch, lighting a lamp and leading them outside.
   " I bet you'll t hink t w ice about breaking a school rule again, won't you, eh?" he
said, leering at them. "Oh yes ... hard work and pain are the best teachers if you ask
me ... It's just a pity they let the old punishments die out ... hang you by your wrists
from t he ceiling for a few days, I 've got t he chains st ill in m y office, keep 'em well
oiled in case t hey're ever needed ... Right , off we go, and don't t hink of running off,
now, it'll be worse for you if you do."
  They m arched off across t he dark grounds. Neville kept sniffing. Harry wondered
what their punishment was going to be. It must be something really horrible, or Filch
wouldn't be sounding so delighted.
  The m oon was bright , but clouds scudding across it kept t hrow ing t hem int o
darkness. Ahead, Harry could see t he light ed w indows of Hagrid's hut . Then t hey
heard a distant shout.
   "Is that you, Filch? Hurry up, I want ter get started."
  Harry's heart rose; if t hey were going t o be working wit h Hagrid it wouldn't be so
bad. His relief must have showed in his face, because Filch said, "I suppose you think
you'll be enj oying yourself wit h t hat oaf? Well, t hink again, boy -- it 's int o t he forest
you're going and I'm much mistaken if you'll all come out in one piece."
   At this, Neville let out a little moan, and Malfoy stopped dead in his tracks.
  " The forest ?" he repeat ed, and he didn't sound quit e as cool as usual. " We can't
go in there at night -- there's all sorts of things in there -- werewolves, I heard."
   Neville clutched the sleeve of Harry's robe and made a choking noise.
   " That 's your problem , isn't it ?" said Filch, his voice cracking wit h glee. " Should've
thought of them werewolves before you got in trouble, shouldn't you?"
   Hagrid cam e st riding t oward t hem out of t he dark, Fang at his heel. He was
carrying his large crossbow, and a quiver of arrows hung over his shoulder.
  " Abou' t im e," he said. " I bin wait in' fer half an hour already. All right , Harry,
Hermione?"
  " I shouldn't be t oo friendly t o t hem , Hagrid," said Filch coldly, t hey're here t o be
punished, after all."
   " That 's why yer lat e, is it ?" said Hagrid, frowning at Filch. " Bin lect urin' t hem , 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 w hat 's left of t hem ," he added nast ily, and
he t urned and st art ed back t oward t he cast le, his lam p bobbing away in t he
darkness.
   Malfoy now turned to Hagrid.
  " I 'm not going in t hat forest ," he said, and Harry was pleased t o hear t he not e of
panic in his voice.
  " Yeh are if yeh want t er st ay at Hogwart s," said Hagrid fiercely. " Yeh've done
wrong an' now yeh've got ter pay fer it."
   " But t his is servant st uff, it 's not for st udent s t o do. I t hought we'd be copying
lines or something, if my father knew I was doing this, he'd -- "
   " -- t ell yer t hat 's how it is at Hogwart s," Hagrid growled. " Copyin' lines! What
good's t hat t er anyone? Yeh'll do sum m at useful or yeh'll get out . I f yeh t hink 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 t hen," said Hagrid, "now, list en carefully, 'cause it 's dangerous what we're
gonna do t onight , an' I don' want no one t akin' risks. Follow m e over here a
moment."
   He led t hem t o t he very edge of t he forest . Holding his lam p up high, he point ed
down a narrow, winding eart h t rack t hat disappeared int o t he t hick black t rees. A
light breeze lifted their hair as they looked into the forest.
   " Look t here," said Hagrid, " see t hat st uff shinin' on t he ground? Silvery st uff?
That's unicorn blood. There's a unicorn in there bin hurt badly by summat. This is the
second t im e in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We're gonna t ry an' find
the poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery."
   " And what if what ever hurt t he unicorn finds us first ?" said Malfoy, unable t o keep
the fear out of his voice.
   " There's not hin' t hat lives in t he forest t hat 'll hurt yeh if yer wit h m e or Fang,"
said Hagrid. " An' keep t er t he pat h. Right , now , we're gonna split int er t wo part ies
an' follow t he t rail in diff'rent direct ions. There's blood all over t he place, it m ust 've
bin staggerin' around since last night at least."
   "I want Fang," said Malfoy quickly, looking at Fang's long teeth.
   " All right , but I w arn yeh, he's a cow ard," said Hagrid. " So m e, Harry, an'
Herm ione'll go one way an' Draco, Neville, an' Fang'll go t he ot her. Now, if any of us
finds t he unicorn, we'll send up green sparks, right ? Get yer w ands out an' pract ice
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
pat h, and Harry, Herm ione, and Hagrid t ook t he left pat h w hile Malfoy, Neville, and
Fang took the right.
   They walked in silence, t heir eyes on t he ground. Every now and t hen a ray of
m oonlight t hrough t he branches above lit a spot of silver- blue blood on t he fallen
leaves.
   Harry saw that Hagrid looked very worried.
   " Could a werewolf be killing the unicorns?" Harry asked.
  " Not fast enough," said Hagrid. "I t 's not easy t er cat ch a unicorn, t hey're powerful
magic creatures. I never knew one ter be hurt before."
   They walked past a m ossy t ree st um p. Harry could hear running wat er; t here
m ust be a st ream som ewhere close by. There were st ill spot s of unicorn blood here
and there along the winding path.
    " You all right , Herm ione?" 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 Herm ione and hoist ed t hem off t he pat h behind a
t owering oak. He pulled out an arrow and fit t ed it int o his crossbow, raising it , ready
t o fire. The t hree of t hem list ened. Som et hing was slit hering over dead leaves
nearby: it sounded like a cloak trailing along the ground. Hagrid was squinting up the
dark path, but after a few seconds, the sound faded away.
   "I knew it," he murmured. "There's summat in here that shouldn' be."
   "A werewolf?" Harry suggested.
   " That wasn' no werewolf an' it wasn' no unicorn, neit her," said Hagrid grim ly.
"Right, follow me, but careful, now."
   They walked m ore slowly, ears st raining for t he faint est sound. Suddenly, in a
clearing ahead, something definitely moved.
   " Who's t here?" Hagrid called. "Show yerself -- I'm armed!"
   And int o t he clearing cam e -- was it a m an, or a horse? To t he w aist , a m an, wit h
red hair and beard, but below t hat was a horse's gleam ing chest nut body wit h 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 t oo careful, Ronan," said Hagrid, pat t ing his crossbow. " There's sum m at
bad loose in t his forest . This is Harry Pot t er an' Herm ione Granger, by t he 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. " St udent s, are you? And do you learn m uch, up at
the school?"
   "Erm -- "
   "A bit," said Hermione timidly.
   " A bit . Well, t hat 's som et hing." Ronan sighed. He flung back his head and st ared
at the sky. "Mars is bright tonight."
  " Yeah," said Hagrid, glancing up, t oo. " List en, I 'm glad we've run int er yeh,
Ronan, 'cause there's a unicorn bin hurt -- you seen anythin'?"
  Ronan didn't answer im m ediat ely. He st ared unblinkingly upward, t hen sighed
again.
   " Always t he innocent are t he first vict im s," he said. " So it has been for ages past ,
so it is now."
   "Yeah," said Hagrid, "but have yeh seen anythin' Ronan? Anythin' unusual?"
   " Mars is bright t onight ," Ronan repeat ed, while Hagrid wat ched him im pat ient ly.
" 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 t ook a while t o answ er. At last , he said, " The forest hides m any
secrets."
  A m ovem ent in t he t rees behind Ronan m ade 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 j us' bin askin' Ronan, you seen anyt hin' odd in here
lately? There's a unicorn bin injured -- would yeh know anythin' about it?"
   Bane walked over t o st and next t o Ronan. He looked skyward. " Mars is bright
tonight," he said simply.
  "We've heard," said Hagrid grumpily. "Well, if either of you do see anythin', let me
know, won't yeh? We'll be off, then."
   Harry and Herm ione followed him out of t he clearing, st aring over t heir shoulders
at Ronan and Bane until the trees blocked their view.
  "Never," said Hagrid irrit ably, " t ry an' get a st raight answer out of a cent aur.
Ruddy stargazers. Not interested in anythin' closer'n the moon."
   "Are there many of them in here?" asked Hermione.
  " Oh, a fair few ... Keep t hem selves t o t hem selves m ost ly, but t hey're good
enough about t urnin' up if ever I want a word. They're deep, m ind, cent aurs ... t hey
know things ... jus' don' let on much."
   "D'you think that was a centaur we heard earlier?" said Harry.
   " Did t hat sound like hooves t o you? Nah, if yeh ask m e, t hat was what 's bin killin'
the unicorns -- never heard anythin' like it before."
    They walked on t hrough t he dense, dark t rees. Harry kept looking nervously over
his shoulder. He had t he nast y feeling t hey were being wat ched. He was very glad
t hey had Hagrid and his crossbow w it h t hem . They had j ust passed a bend in t he
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 t hrough t he undergrowt h and st ood looking at
each ot her, very scared, unt il t hey couldn't hear anyt hing but t he rust ling of leaves
around them.
   "You don't think they've been hurt, do you?" whispered Hermione.
    " I don't care if Malfoy has, but if som et hing's got Neville ... it 's our fault he's here
in the first place."
    The m inut es dragged by. Their ears seem ed sharper t han usual. Harry's seem ed
t o be picking up every sigh of t he wind, every cracking t wig. What was going on?
Where were the others?
  At last , a great crunching noise announced Hagrid's ret urn. Malfoy, Neville, and
Fang were wit h him . Hagrid was fum ing. Malfoy, it seem ed, had sneaked up behind
Neville and grabbed him as a joke. Neville had panicked and sent up the sparks.
   " We'll be lucky t er cat ch anyt hin' now , wit h t he racket you t w o were m akin'.
Right , we're changin' groups -- Neville, you st ay wit h m e an' Herm ione, Harry, you
go wit h Fang an' t his idiot . I 'm sorry," Hagrid added in a whisper t o 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 int o t he forest , unt il t he pat h becam e alm ost
im possible t o follow because t he t rees were so t hick. Harry t hought t he blood
seem ed t o be get t ing t hicker. There were splashes on t he root s of a t ree, as t hough
t he poor creat ure had been t hrashing around in pain close by. Harry could see a
clearing ahead, through the tangled branches of an ancient oak.
   "Look -- " he murmured, holding out his arm to stop Malfoy.
   Something bright white was gleaming on the ground. They inched closer.
    I t was t he unicorn all right , and it was dead. Harry had never seen anyt hing so
beaut iful and sad. I t s long, slender legs were st uck out at odd angles where it had
fallen and its mane was spread pearly- white on the dark leaves.
   Harry had t aken one st ep t ow ard it when a slit hering sound m ade him freeze
where he st ood. A bush on t he edge of t he clearing quivered ... Then, out of t he
shadows, a hooded figure cam e craw ling across t he ground like som e st alking beast .
Harry, Malfoy, and Fang st ood t ransfixed. The cloaked figure reached t he unicorn,
lowered its head over the wound in the animal's side, and began to drink its blood.
   "AAAAAAAAAARGH!"
   Malfoy let out a t errible scream and bolt ed -- so did Fang. The hooded figure
raised it s head and looked right at Harry -- unicorn blood w as dribbling down it s
front. It got to its feet and came swiftly toward Harry -- he couldn't move for fear.
   Then a pain like he'd never felt before pierced his head; it was as t hough his scar
were on fire. Half blinded, he st aggered backw ard. He heard hooves behind him ,
galloping, and something jumped clean over Harry, charging at the figure.
    The pain in Harry's head was so bad he fell t o his knees. I t t ook a m inut e or t wo
t o pass. When he looked up, t he figure had gone. A cent aur was st anding over him ,
not Ronan or Bane; t his one looked younger; he had whit e- 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 t he scar t hat st ood out , livid, on
Harry's forehead.
   " You are t he Pot t er boy," he said. " You had bet t er get back t o Hagrid. The forest
is not safe at this time -- especially for you. Can you ride? It will be quicker this way.
  " My nam e is Firenze," he added, as he lowered him self on t o his front legs so t hat
Harry could clamber onto his back.
  There was suddenly a sound of m ore galloping from t he ot her side of t he clearing.
Ronan and Bane came bursting through the trees, their flanks heaving and sweaty.
  " Firenze! " Bane t hundered. " What are you doing? You have a hum an on your
back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mule?"
   " Do you realize who t his is?" said Firenze. " This is t he Pot t er boy. The quicker he
leaves this forest, the better."
   " What have you been t elling him ?" grow led Bane. " Rem em ber, Firenze, we are
sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in
the movements of the planets?"
   Ronan pawed t he ground nervously. " I 'm sure Firenze t hought he was act ing for
the best," he said in his gloomy voice.
   Bane kicked his back legs in anger.
  " For t he best ! What is t hat t o do w it h us? Cent aurs are concerned wit h what has
been foretold! It is not our business to run around like donkeys after stray humans in
our forest!"
  Firenze suddenly reared on t o his hind legs in anger, so t hat Harry had t o grab his
shoulders to stay on.
  " Do you not see t hat unicorn?" Firenze bellowed at Bane. " Do you not underst and
why it was killed? Or have t he planet s not let you in on t hat secret ? I set m yself
against what is lurking in t his forest , Bane, yes, wit h hum ans alongside m e if I
must."
   And Firenze whisked around; wit h Harry clut ching on as best he could, t hey
plunged off into the trees, leaving Ronan and Bane behind them.
      Harry didn't have a clue what was going on.
  " Why's Bane so angry?" he asked. " What was t hat t hing you saved m e from ,
anyway?"
    Firenze slow ed t o a walk, warned Harry t o keep his head bowed in case of low-
hanging branches, but did not answ er Harry's quest ion. They m ade t heir w ay
t hrough t he t rees in silence for so long t hat Harry t hought Firenze didn't want t o t alk
t o him anym ore. They were passing t hrough a part icularly dense pat ch of t rees,
however, when Firenze suddenly stopped.
      "Harry Potter, do you know what unicorn blood is used for?"
   " No," said Harry, st art led by t he odd quest ion. " We've only used t he horn and t ail
hair in Potions."
    " That is because it is a m onst rous t hing, t o slay a unicorn," said Firenze. " Only
one who has not hing t o lose, and everyt hing t o gain, would com m it such a crim e.
The blood of a unicorn w ill keep you alive, even if you are an inch from deat h, but at
a t errible price. You have slain som et hing pure and defenseless t o save yourself, and
you will have but a half- life, a cursed life, from t he m om ent t he blood t ouches your
lips."
  Harry st ared at t he back of Firenze's head, which w as dappled silver in t he
moonlight.
   " But who'd be t hat desperat e?" he wondered aloud. " I f you're going t o be cursed
forever, death's better, isn't it?"
    " I t is," Firenze agreed, " unless all you need is t o st ay alive long enough t o drink
som et hing else -- som et hing t hat w ill bring you back t o full st rengt h and power --
som et hing t hat will m ean you can never die. Mr. Pot t er, do you know what is hidden
in the school at this very moment?"
      " The Sorcerer's St one! Of course -- t he Elixir of Life! But I don't underst and w ho -
- "
   "Can you think of nobody who has waited many years to return to power, who has
clung to life, awaiting their chance?"
    I t was as t hough an iron fist had clenched suddenly around Harry's heart . Over
t he rust ling of t he t rees, he seem ed t o hear once m ore what Hagrid had t old him on
t he night t hey had m et : " Som e say he died. Codswallop, in m y 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?"
  Herm ione w as running t oward t hem down t he pat h, Hagrid puffing along behind
her.
  " I 'm fine," said Harry, hardly know ing what he w as saying. " The unicorn's dead,
Hagrid, it's in that clearing back there."
   " This is w here I leave you," Firenze m urm ured as Hagrid hurried off t o exam ine
the unicorn. "You are safe now."
      Harry slid off his back.
  " Good luck, Harry Pot t er," said Firenze. " The planet s have been read w rongly
before now, even by centaurs. I hope this is one of those times."
  He t urned and cant ered back int o t he dept hs of t he forest , leaving Harry shivering
behind him.


   Ron had fallen asleep in t he dark com m on room , w ait ing for t hem t o ret urn. He
shout ed som et hing about Quiddit ch fouls when Harry roughly shook him awake. I n a
m at t er of seconds, t hough, he was wide- eyed as Harry began t o t ell him and
Hermione what had happened in the forest.
  Harry couldn't sit down. He paced up and down in front of t he fire. He was st ill
shaking.
  " Snape w ant s t he st one for Voldem ort ... and Voldem ort 's wait ing in t he forest ...
and all this time we thought Snape just wanted to get rich ... "
  " St op saying t he nam e! " said Ron in a t errified w hisper, as if he t hought
Voldemort could hear them.
   Harry wasn't listening.
    " Firenze saved m e, but he shouldn't have done so ... Bane was furious ... he was
t alking about int erfering wit h what t he planet s say is going t o happen ... They m ust
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 t o wait for now is Snape t o st eal t he St one," Harry went on
feverishly, " t hen Voldem ort will be able t o com e and finish m e off ... Well, I suppose
Bane'll be happy."
   Hermione looked very frightened, but she had a word of comfort.
   " Harry, everyone says Dum bledore's t he only one You- Know- Who was ever afraid
of wit h Dum bledore around, You- Know- Who w on't t ouch you. Anyway, who says t he
cent aurs are right ? I t sounds like fort une- t elling t o m e, and Professor McGonagall
says that's a very imprecise branch of magic."
  The sky had t urned light before t hey st opped t alking. They went t o bed
exhausted, their throats sore. But the night's surprises weren't over.
  When Harry pulled back his sheet s, he found his invisibilit y cloak folded neat ly
underneath them. There was a note pinned to it:
   Just in case.




   Chapter Sixteen
   Through The Trapdoor


    I n years to come, Harry would never quite remember how he had managed to get
t hrough his exam s when he half expect ed Voldem ort t o com e burst ing t hrough t he
door at any m om ent . Yet t he days crept by, and t here could be no doubt t hat Fluffy
was still alive and well behind the locked door.
   I t was swelt ering hot , especially in t he large classroom where t hey did t heir
writ t en papers. They had been given special, new quills for t he exam s, w hich had
been bewitched with an Anticheating spell.
   They had pract ical exam s as well. Professor Flit wick called t hem one by one int o
his class t o see if t hey could m ake a pineapple t apdance across a desk. Professor
McGonagall wat ched t hem t urn a m ouse int o a snuffbox -- point s were given for how
pret t y t he snuffbox was, but t aken away if it had whiskers. Snape m ade t hem all
nervous, breat hing down t heir necks while t hey t ried t o rem em ber how t o m ake a
Forgetfulness potion.
   Harry did t he best he could, t rying t o ignore t he st abbing pains in his forehead,
which had been bot hering him ever since his t rip int o t he forest . Neville t hought
Harry had a bad case of exam nerves because Harry couldn't sleep, but t he t rut h
was t hat Harry kept being woken by his old night m are, except t hat it was now worse
than ever because there was a hooded figure dripping blood in it.
    Maybe it was because t hey hadn't seen what Harry had seen in t he forest , or
because t hey didn't have scars burning on t heir foreheads, but Ron and Herm ione
didn't seem as worried about t he St one as Harry. The idea of Voldem ort certainly
scared t hem , but he didn't keep visit ing t hem in dream s, and t hey were so busy wit h
t heir st udying t hey didn't have m uch t im e t o fret about what Snape or anyone else
might be up to.
   Their very last exam was History of Magic. One hour of answering questions about
bat t y old wizards w ho'd invent ed selfst irring cauldrons and t hey'd be free, free for a
whole w onderful week unt il t heir exam result s cam e out . When t he ghost of
Professor Binns t old t hem t o put down t heir quills and roll up t heir parchm ent , Harry
couldn't help cheering with the rest.
   " That was far easier t han I t hought it w ould be," said Herm ione as t hey j oined t he
crowds flocking out ont o t he sunny grounds. "I needn't have learned about t he 1637
Werewolf Code of Conduct or t he uprising of Elfric the Eager."
    Herm ione always liked t o go t hrough t heir exam papers aft erw ard, but Ron said
t his m ade him feel ill, so t hey wandered down t o t he lake and flopped under a t ree.
The Weasley t w ins and Lee Jordan were t ickling t he t ent acles of a giant squid, w hich
was basking in t he warm shallows. " No m ore st udying," Ron sighed happily,
st ret ching out on t he grass. " You could look m ore 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 w hat t his means! " he burst out angrily. " My scar keeps hurt ing --
it's happened before, but never as often as this."
   "Go to Madam Pomfrey," Hermione suggested.
   "I'm not ill," said Harry. "I think it's a warning ... it means danger's coming ... "
   Ron couldn't get worked up, it was too hot.
  " Harry, relax, Herm ione's right , t he St one's safe as long as Dum bledore's around.
Anyw ay, we've never had any proof Snape found out how t o get past Fluffy. He
nearly had his leg ripped off once, he's not going t o t ry it again in a hurry. And
Neville will play Quidditch for England before Hagrid lets Dumbledore down."
   Harry nodded, but he couldn't shake off a lurking feeling that there was something
he'd forgot t en t o do, som et hing im port ant . When he t ried t o explain t his, Herm ione
said, "That 's j ust t he exam s. I woke up last night and w as halfway t hrough m y
Transfiguration notes before I remembered we'd done that one."
    Harry was quit e sure t he unset t led feeling didn't have anyt hing t o do wit h work,
t hough. He wat ched an owl flut t er t ow ard t he school across t he bright blue sky, a
not e clam ped in it s m out h. Hagrid was t he only one who ever sent him let t ers.
Hagrid would never bet ray Dum bledore. Hagrid w ould never t ell anyone how t o get
past Fluffy ... never ... but ...
   Harry suddenly jumped to his feet.
   "Where're you going?" said Ron sleepily.
  " I 've j ust t hought of som et hing," said Harry. He had t urned w hit e. " We've got t o
go and see Hagrid, now."
   "Why?" panted Hermione, hurrying to keep up.
    " Don't you t hink it 's a bit odd," said Harry, scram bling up t he grassy slope, "t hat
what Hagrid wants more than anything else is a dragon, and a stranger turns up who
j ust happens t o have an egg in his pocket ? How m any people w ander around wit h
dragon eggs if it 's against wizard law? Lucky t hey found Hagrid, don't you t hink?
Why didn't I see it before?"
   " What are you t alking about ?" said Ron, but Harry, sprint ing across t he grounds
toward 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 bowl.
   " Hullo," he said, sm iling. " Finished yer exam s? Got t im e fer a drink?"
   "Yes, please," said Ron, but Harry cut him off.
  " No, we're in a hurry. Hagrid, I 've got t o ask you som et hing. You know t hat 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.
   " I t 's not t hat unusual, yeh get a lot o' funny folk in t he Hog's Head -- t hat 's t he
pub down in t he village. Might a bin a dragon dealer, m ight n' he? I never saw his
face, he kept his hood up."
  Harry sank down next t o t he bowl of peas. " What did you t alk t o him about ,
Hagrid? Did you mention Hogwarts at all?"
    " Might a com e up," said Hagrid, frowning as he t ried t o rem em ber. " Yeah ... he
asked what I did, an' I t old him I w as gam ekeeper here ... He asked a bit about t he
sort a creat ures I t ook aft er ... so I t old him ... an' I said w hat I 'd always really
want ed was a dragon ... an' t hen ... I can' rem em ber t oo well, 'cause he kept buyin'
m e drinks ... Let 's see ... yeah, t hen he said he had t he dragon egg an' we could
play cards fer it if I want ed ... but he had t er be sure I could handle it , he didn' w ant
it ter go ter any old home ... So I told him, after Fluffy, a dragon would be easy ... "
   " And did he -- did he seem int erest ed in Fluffy?" Harry asked, t rying t o keep his
voice calm.
  "Well -- yeah -- how m any t hree- headed dogs d'yeh m eet , even around
Hogwart s? So I t old him , Fluffy's a piece o' cake if yeh know how t o calm him down,
jus' play him a bit o' music an' he'll go straight off ter sleep -- "
   Hagrid suddenly looked horrified.
   " I shouldn't a t old yeh t hat ! " he blurt ed out . "Forget I said it ! Hey -- w here're yeh
goin'?"
   Harry, Ron, and Herm ione didn't speak t o each ot her at all unt il t hey cam e t o a
halt in the entrance hall, which seemed very cold and gloomy after the grounds.
   " We've got t o go t o Dum bledore," said Harry. " Hagrid t old t hat st ranger how t o
get past Fluffy, and it was eit her Snape or Voldem ort under t hat cloak -- it m ust 've
been easy, once he'd got Hagrid drunk. I j ust hope Dum bledore believes us. Firenze
might back us up if Bane doesn't st op him . Where's Dum bledore's office?"
  They looked around, as if hoping to see a sign pointing them in the right direction.
They had never been t old where Dum bledore lived, nor did t hey 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 Dum bledore?" Professor McGonagall repeat ed, as t hough t his was
a very fishy thing to want to do. "Why?"
   Harry swallowed -- now what?
  " I t 's sort of secret ," he said, but he wished at once he hadn't , because Professor
McGonagall's nostrils flared.
   " Professor Dum bledore left t en m inut es 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 Dum bledore is a very great wizard, Pot t er, he has m any dem ands on
his time -- "
   "But this is important."
   "Something you have to say is more important than the Ministry of Magic, Potter?"
  " Look," said Harry, t hrowing caut ion t o t he w inds, " Professor -- it 's about t he
Sorcerer's Stone -- "
  What ever Professor McGonagall had expect ed, it w asn't t hat . 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 t hink -- I know -- t hat Sn -- t hat som eone's going t o t ry and st eal
the Stone. I've got to talk to Professor Dumbledore."
   She eyed him with a mixture of shock and suspicion.
  " Professor Dum bledore w ill be back t om orrow," she said finally. I don't know how
you found out about t he St one, but rest assured, no one can possibly st eal it , it 's t oo
well protected."
   "But Professor -- "
   " Pot t er, I know what I 'm t alking about ," she said short ly. She bent down and
gat hered up t he fallen books. I suggest you all go back out side and enj oy t he
sunshine."
   But they didn't.
   " I t 's t onight ," said Harry, once he was sure Professor McGonagall was out of
earshot . " Snape's going t hrough t he t rapdoor t onight . He's found out everyt hing he
needs, and now he's got Dum bledore out of t he way. He sent t hat not e, I bet t he
Ministry of Magic will get a real shock when Dumbledore turns up."
   "But what can we -- "
   Hermione gasped. Harry and Ron wheeled round.
   Snape was standing there.
   "Good afternoon," he said smoothly.
   They stared at him.
   "You shouldn't be inside on a day like this," he said, with an odd, twisted smile.
   "We were -- " Harry began, without any idea what he was going to say.
    " You want t o be m ore careful," said Snape. "Hanging around like t his, people will
t hink you're up t o som et hing. And Gryffindor really can't afford t o lose any m ore
points, can it?"
   Harry flushed. They turned to go outside, but Snape called them back.
   " Be warned, Pot t er -- any m ore night t im e wanderings and I will personally m ake
sure you are expelled. Good day to you."
   He strode off in the direction of the staffroom.
   Out on the stone steps, Harry turned to the others.
  "Right, here's what we've got to do," he whispered urgently. "One of us has got to
keep an eye on Snape -- wait out side t he st aff room and follow him if he leaves it .
Hermione, you'd better do that."
   "Why me?"
  " I t 's obvious," said Ron. " You can pret end t o be wait ing for Professor Flit wick, you
know." He put on a high voice, " 'Oh Professor Flit wick, I 'm so worried, I t hink I got
question fourteen b wrong ... '"
   "Oh, shut up," said Hermione, but she agreed to go and watch out for Snape.
   "And we'd better stay outside the third- floor corridor," Harry told Ron. "Come on."
  But t hat part of t he plan didn't work. No sooner had t hey reached t he door
separat ing Fluffy from t he rest of t he school t han Professor McGonagall t urned up
again and this time, she lost her temper.
     " I suppose you t hink you're harder t o get past t han a pack of enchant m ent s! " she
st orm ed. " Enough of t his nonsense! I f I hear you've com e anywhere near here again,
I'll take another fifty points from Gryffindor! Yes, Weasley, from my own house!"
  Harry and Ron went back t o t he com m on room , Harry had j ust said, " At least
Herm ione's on Snape's t ail," when t he port rait of t he Fat Lady swung open and
Hermione came in.
   " I 'm sorry, Harry! " she w ailed. " Snape cam e out and asked m e 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 Snape went."
   "Well, that's it then, isn't it?" Harry said.
   The other two stared at him. He was pale and his eyes were glittering.
   "I'm going out of here tonight and I'm going to try and get to the Stone first."
   "You're mad!" said Ron.
  " You can't ! " said Herm ione. " Aft er what McGonagall and Snape have said? You'll
be expelled!"
     " SO WHAT" Harry shout ed. " Don't you underst and? I f Snape get s hold of t he
St one, Voldem ort 's com ing back! Haven't you heard what it was like when he was
t rying t o t ake over? There won't be any Hogwart s t o get expelled from ! He'll flat t en
it , or t urn it int o a school for t he Dark Art s! Losing point s doesn't m at t er anym ore,
can't you see? D'you t hink he'll leave you and your fam ilies alone if Gryffindor wins
t he house cup? I f I get caught before I can get t o t he St one, well, I 'll have t o go
back t o t he Dursleys and wait for Voldem ort t o find m e t here, it 's only dying a bit
lat er t han I would have, because I 'm never going over t o t he Dark Side! I 'm going
t hrough t hat t rapdoor t onight and not hing you t wo say is going t o st op m e!
Voldemort killed my parents, remember?"
   He glared at them.
   "You're right Harry," said Hermione in a small voice.
   "I'll use the invisibility cloak," said Harry. "It's just lucky I got it back."
   "But will it cover all three of us?" said Ron.
   "All -- all three of us?"
   "Oh, come off it, you don't think we'd let you go alone?"
   " Of course not ," said Herm ione briskly. " How do you t hink you'd get t o t he St one
wit hout us? I 'd bet t er go and t ook t hrough m y books, t here m ight be som et hing
useful ... "
   "But if we get caught, you two will be expelled, too."
  " Not if I can help it ," said Herm ione grim ly. " Flit wick t old m e in secret t hat I got a
hundred and twelve percent on his exam. They're not throwing me out after that."


    Aft er dinner t he t hree of t hem sat nervously apart in t he com m on room . Nobody
bothered them; none of the Gryffindors had anything to say to Harry any more, after
all. This was t he first night he hadn't been upset by it . Herm ione was skim m ing
t hrough all her not es, hoping t o com e across one of t he enchant m ent s t hey w ere
about t o t ry t o break. Harry and Ron didn't t alk m uch. Bot h of t hem were t hinking
about what they were about to do.
   Slowly, the room emptied as people drifted off to bed.
   " Bet t er get t he cloak," Ron m ut t ered, as Lee Jordan finally left , st ret ching and
yawning. Harry ran upstairs to their dark dormitory. He pulled out the cloak and then
his eyes fell on t he flut e Hagrid had given him for Christ m as. He pocket ed it t o use
on Fluffy -- he didn't feel much like singing.
   He ran back down to the common room.
   " We'd bet t er put t he cloak on here, and m ake sure it covers all t hree of us - if
Filch spots one of our feet wandering along on its own -- "
   " What are you doing?" said a voice from t he corner of t he room . Neville appeared
from behind an arm chair, clut ching Trevor t he t oad, who looked as t hough he'd been
making another bid for freedom.
  " Not hing, Neville, not hing," said Harry, hurriedly put t ing t he cloak behind his
back.
   Neville stared at their guilty faces.
   "You're going out again," he said.
   "No, no, no," said Hermione. "No, we're not. Why don't you go to bed, Neville?"
  Harry looked at t he grandfat her clock by t he door. They couldn't afford t o wast e
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 desperate.
    "I won't let you do it," he said, hurrying to stand in front of the portrait hole. "I'll -
- I'll fight you!"
   " Neville, "Ron exploded, "get away from that hole and don't be an idiot -- "
  " Don't you call m e an idiot ! " said Neville. I don't t hink you should be breaking any
more rules! And you were the one who told me to stand up to people!"
  " Yes, but not t o us," said Ron in exasperat ion. "Neville, you don't know w hat
you're doing."
   He t ook a st ep forw ard and Neville dropped Trevor t he t oad, w ho leapt out of
sight.
   "Go on then, try and hit me!" said Neville, raising his fists. "I'm ready!"
   Harry turned to Hermione.
   "Do something," he said desperately.
   Hermione stepped forward.
   "Neville," she said, "I'm really, really sorry about this."
   She raised her wand.
   " Petrificus Totalus!" she cried, pointing it at Neville.
    Neville's arm s snapped t o his sides. His legs sprang t oget her. His whole body
rigid, he swayed where he stood and then fell flat on his face, stiff as a board.
  Herm ione ran t o t urn him over. Neville's j aws were j am m ed t oget her 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 m ot ionless on t he floor didn't feel like a very good om en.
I n t heir nervous st at e, every st at ue's shadow looked like Filch, every dist ant breat h
of wind sounded like Peeves swooping down on t hem . At t he foot of t he first set of
stairs, they spotted Mrs. Norris skulking near the top.
   " Oh, let 's kick her, j ust t his once," Ron w hispered in Harry's ear, but Harry shook
his head. As t hey clim bed carefully around her, Mrs. Norris t urned her lam plike eyes
on them, but didn't do anything.
  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 t here?" he said suddenly as t hey clim bed t oward him . He narrowed his
wicked black eyes. " Know you're t here, 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 som et hing's a- creeping around unseen."
   Harry had a sudden idea.
   " Peeves," he said, in a hoarse w hisper, " t he Bloody Baron has his own reasons for
being invisible."
  Peeves alm ost fell out of t he air in shock. He caught him self in t im e and hovered
about a foot off the stairs.
   " So sorry, your bloodiness, Mr. Baron, Sir," he said greasily. " My m ist ake, m y
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. " St ay aw ay from t his place
tonight."
  " I w ill, sir, I m ost cert ainly will," said Peeves, rising up in t he air again. " Hope
your business goes well, Baron, I'll not bother you."
   And he scooted off.
   " Brilliant, Harry!" whispered Ron.
  A few seconds lat er, t hey were t here, out side t he t hird- floor corridor -- and t he
door was already ajar.
   "Well, there you are," Harry said quietly, "Snape's already got past Fluffy."
  Seeing t he open door som ehow seem ed t o im press upon all t hree of t hem w hat
was facing them. Underneath the cloak, Harry turned to the other two.
  " I f you want t o go back, I won't blam e you," he said. " You can t ake t he cloak, I
won't need it now."
   "Don't be stupid," said Ron.
   "We're coming," said Hermione.
   Harry pushed the door open.
  As t he door creaked, low, rum bling growls m et t heir ears. All t hree of t he 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
not e t he beast 's eyes began t o droop. Harry hardly drew breat h. Slowly, t he dog's
growls ceased -- it t ot t ered on it s paws and fell t o it s knees, t hen it slum ped t o t he
ground, fast asleep.
    " Keep playing," Ron warned Harry as t hey slipped out of t he cloak and crept
t oward t he t rapdoor. They could feel t he dog's hot , sm elly breat h as t hey
approached t he giant heads. " I t hink we'll be able t o pull t he 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 st ill playing t he flut e, waved at Ron t o get his at t ent ion and
pointed at himself.
  " You w ant t o go first ? Are you sure?" said Ron. " I don't know how deep t his t hing
goes. Give the flute to Hermione so she can keep him asleep."
   Harry handed t he flut e over. I n t he few seconds' silence, t he 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 him self t hrough t he hole unt il he was hanging on by his fingert ips.
Then he looked up at Ron and said, " I f anyt hing happens t o m e, 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, dam p air rushed past him as he fell down, down, down
and --
  FLUMP. Wit h a funny, m uffled sort of t hum p he landed on som et hing soft . He sat
up and felt around, his eyes not used t o t he gloom . I t felt as t hough he w as sit t ing
on some sort of plant.
  " I t 's okay! " he called up t o t he light t he size of a post age st am p, which was t he
open trapdoor, "it's a soft landing, you can jump!"
   Ron followed right away. He landed, sprawled next to Harry.
   "What's this stuff?" were his first words.
  " Dunno, som e sort of plant t hing. I suppose it 's here t o break t he fall. Com e on,
Hermione!"
  The dist ant m usic st opped. There was a loud bark from t he dog, but Herm ione
had already jumped. She landed on Harry's other side.
   "We must be miles under the school," she said.
   "Lucky this plant thing's here, really," said Ron.
   " Lucky!" shrieked Hermione. "Look at you both!"
   She leapt up and st ruggled t oward a dam p wall. She had t o st ruggle because t he
m om ent she had landed, t he plant had st art ed t o t wist snakelike t endrils around her
ankles. As for Harry and Ron, t heir legs had already been bound t ight ly in long
creepers without their noticing.
  Herm ione had m anaged t o free herself before t he plant got a firm grip on her.
Now she wat ched in horror as t he t wo boys fought t o pull t he plant off t hem , but t he
more they strained against it, the tighter and faster the plant wound around them.
   "Stop m oving! " Herm ione ordered t hem . " I know what t his is -- it's Devil's Snare!"
   " Oh, I 'm so glad we know what it 's called, t hat 's a great help," snarled Ron,
leaning back, t rying t o st op t he plant from curling around his neck. " Shut up, I 'm
trying to remember how to kill it!" said Hermione.
   " Well, hurry up, I can't breat he! " Harry gasped, wrest ling wit h it as it curled
around his chest.
  " Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare ... what did Professor Sprout say? -- it likes t he dark
and the damp."
   "So light a fire!" Harry choked.
   "Yes -- of course -- but there's no wood!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
   " HAVE YOU GONE MAD?" Ron bellowed. " ARE YOU A WI TCH OR NOT?"
   " Oh, right ! " said Herm ione, and she whipped out her wand, waved it , m ut t ered
som et hing, and sent a j et of t he sam e bluebell flam es she had used on Snape at t he
plant . I n a m at t er of seconds, t he t wo boys felt it loosening it s grip as it cringed
aw ay from t he light and warm t h. Wriggling and flailing, it unraveled it self from t heir
bodies, and they were able to pull free.
   " Lucky you pay at t ent ion in Herbology, Herm ione," said Harry as he j oined her by
the wall, wiping sweat off his face.
  " Yeah," said Ron, " and lucky Harry doesn't lose his head in a crisis -- 't here's no
wood,' honestly."
  " This way," said Harry, point ing dow n a st one passageway, w hich was t he only
way forward.
   All they could hear apart from their footsteps was the gentle drip of water trickling
down t he walls. The passagew ay sloped downward, and Harry was rem inded of
Gringot t s. Wit h an unpleasant j olt of t he heart , he rem em bered t he dragons said t o
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 t he end of t he passageway and saw before t hem a brilliant ly lit
cham ber, it s ceiling arching high above t hem . I t was full of sm all, j ew el- bright birds,
flut t ering and t um bling all around t he room . On t he opposit e side of t he cham ber
was a heavy wooden door.
   "Do you think they'll attack us if we cross the room?" said Ron.
  " Probably," said Harry. " They don't look very vicious, but I suppose if t hey all
swooped down at once ... well, there's no other choice ... I'll run."
   He t ook a deep breat h, covered his face wit h his arm s, and sprint ed across t he
room . He expect ed t o feel sharp beaks and claws t earing at him any second, but
not hing happened. He reached t he door unt ouched. He pulled t he handle, but it was
locked.
  The ot her t w o followed him . They t ugged and heaved at t he door, but it wouldn't
budge, not even when Hermione tried her Alohomora charm.
   "Now what?" said Ron.
   "These birds ... they can't be here just for decoration," said Hermione.
   They watched the birds soaring overhead, glittering -- glittering?
   " They're not birds! " Harry said suddenly. " They're keys! Winged keys -- look
carefully. So t hat m ust m ean ... " he looked around t he cham ber while t he ot her t wo
squint ed up at t he flock of keys. " ... yes -- look! Broom st icks! We've got t o cat ch
the key to the door!"
   "But there are hundreds of them!"
   Ron examined the lock on the door.
   "We're looking for a big, old- fashioned one -- probably silver, like the handle."
   They each seized a broom st ick and kicked off int o t he air, soaring int o t he m idst
of t he cloud of keys. They grabbed and snat ched, but t he bewit ched keys dart ed and
dived so quickly it was almost impossible to catch one.
    Not for not hing, t hough, was Harry t he youngest Seeker in a cent ury. He had a
knack for spotting things other people didn't. After a minute's weaving about through
the whirl of rainbow feathers, 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 t o t he ot hers. " That big one -- t here -- no, t here -- wit h
bright blue wings -- the feathers are all crumpled on one side."
   Ron went speeding in t he direct ion t hat Harry was point ing, crashed int o t he
ceiling, and nearly fell off his broom.
   " We've got t o close in on it ! " Harry called, not t aking his eyes off t he key wit h t he
dam aged wing. " Ron, you com e at it from above -- Herm ione, st ay below and st op it
from going down and I'll try and catch it. Right, NOW!"
    Ron dived, Herm ione rocket ed upward, t he key dodged t hem bot h, and Harry
st reaked aft er it ; it sped t oward t he w all, Harry leaned forward and wit h a nast y,
crunching noise, pinned it against t he st one wit h one hand. Ron and Herm ione's
cheers echoed around the high chamber.
   They landed quickly, and Harry ran t o t he door, t he key st ruggling in his hand. He
ram m ed it int o t he lock and t urned - it worked. The m om ent t he lock had clicked
open, t he key t ook flight again, looking very bat t ered now t hat it had been caught
twice.
  " Ready?" Harry asked t he ot her t wo, his hand on t he door handle. They nodded.
He pulled the door open.
   The next cham ber was so dark t hey couldn't see anyt hing at all. But as t hey
stepped into it, light suddenly flooded the room to reveal an astonishing sight.
   They were st anding on t he edge of a huge chessboard, behind t he black
chessm en, w hich were all t aller t han t hey were and carved from what looked like
black st one. Facing t hem , way across t he cham ber, were t he whit e pieces. Harry,
Ron and Hermione shivered slightly - the towering white chessmen had no faces.
   "Now what do we do?" Harry whispered.
   "It's obvious, isn't it?" said Ron. "We've got to play our way across the room."
   Behind the white pieces they could see another door.
   "How?" said Hermione nervously.
   "I think," said Ron, "we're going to have to be chessmen."
   He walked up t o a black knight and put his hand out t o t ouch t he knight 's horse.
At once, t he st one sprang t o life. The horse paw ed t he ground and t he knight t urned
his helmeted head to look down at Ron.
   " Do we -- er -- have t o j oin you t o get across?" The black knight nodded. Ron
turned to the other two.
   " This needs t hinking about ... " he said. " I suppose we've got t o t ake t he place of
three of the black pieces ... "
  Harry and Hermione stayed quiet, watching Ron think. Finally he said, "Now, don't
be offended or anything, but neither of you are that good at chess -- "
   "We're not offended," said Harry quickly. "Just tell us what to do."
   " Well, Harry, you t ake t he place of t hat bishop, and Herm ione, you next t o him
instead of that castle."
   "What about you?"
   "I'm going to be a knight," said Ron.
   The chessm en seem ed t o have been list ening, because at t hese words a knight , a
bishop, and a castle turned their backs on the white pieces and walked off the board,
leaving three empty squares that Harry, Ron, and Hermione took.
   " Whit e always plays first in chess," said Ron, peering across t he board. "Yes ...
look ... "
   A white pawn had moved forward two squares.
   Ron st art ed t o direct t he black pieces. They m oved silent ly wherever he sent
them. Harry's knees were trembling. What if they lost?
   "Harry -- move diagonally four squares to the right."
   Their first real shock cam e when t heir ot her knight was t aken. The whit e queen
sm ashed him t o t he floor and dragged him off t he board, where he lay quit e st ill,
facedown.
   " Had t o let t hat happen," said Ron, looking shaken. " Leaves you free t o t ake t hat
bishop, Hermione, go on."
    Every t im e one of t heir m en was lost , t he whit e pieces showed no m ercy. Soon
t here was a huddle of lim p black players slum ped along t he wall. Twice, Ron only
j ust not iced in t im e t hat Harry and Herm ione w ere in danger. He him self dart ed
around the board, taking almost as many white pieces as they had lost black ones.
  "We're nearly there," he muttered suddenly. "Let me think -- let me think ... "
  The white queen turned her blank face toward him.
  "Yes ... " said Ron softly, "It's the only way ... I've got to be taken."
  "NO!" Harry and Hermione shouted.
   "That's chess!" snapped Ron. "You've got to make some sacrifices! I take one step
forward and she'll take me -- that leaves you free to checkmate the king, Harry!"
  "But -- "
  "Do you want to stop Snape or not?"
  " Ron -- "
  "Look, if you don't hurry up, he'll already have the Stone!"
  There was no alternative.
   " Ready?" Ron called, his face pale but det erm ined. " Here I go -- now , don't hang
around once you've won."
    He st epped forw ard, and t he whit e queen pounced. She st ruck Ron hard across
t he head wit h her st one arm , and he crashed t o t he floor -- Herm ione scream ed but
st ayed on her square -- t he w hit e queen dragged Ron t o one side. He looked as if
he'd been knocked out.
  Shaking, Harry moved three spaces to the left.
   The whit e king t ook off his crown and t hrew it at Harry's feet . They had won. The
chessm en part ed and bowed, leaving t he door ahead clear. Wit h one last desperat e
look back at Ron, Harry and Herm ione charged t hrough t he door and up t he next
passageway.
  "What if he's -- ?"
  " He'll be all right ," said Harry, t rying t o convince him self. "What do you reckon's
next?"
    " We've had Sprout 's, t hat was t he Devil's Snare; Flit wick m ust 've put charm s on
t he keys; McGonagall t ransfigured t he chessm en t o m ake t hem alive; t hat leaves
Quirrell's spell, and Snape's."
  They had reached another door.
  "All right?" Harry whispered.
  "Go on."
  Harry pushed it open.
  A disgust ing sm ell filled t heir nost rils, m aking bot h of t hem pull t heir robes up
over t heir noses. Eyes w at ering, t hey saw , flat on t he floor in front of t hem , a t roll
even larger than the one they had tackled, out cold with a bloody lump on its head.
   " I 'm glad we didn't have t o fight t hat one," Harry w hispered as t hey st epped
carefully over one of its massive legs. "Come on, I can't breathe."
    He pulled open t he next door, bot h of t hem hardly daring t o look at what cam e
next -- but t here was not hing very fright ening in here, j ust a t able w it h 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
t he doorway. I t wasn't ordinary fire eit her; it was purple. At t he sam e inst ant , black
flames shot up in the doorway leading onward. They were trapped.
  " Look! " Herm ione seized a roll of paper lying next t o t he bot t les. Harry looked
over her shoulder to read it:


   Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
   Two of us will help you, which ever you would find,
   One among us seven will let you move ahead,
   Another will transport the drinker back instead,
   Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
   Three of us are killers, waiting bidden in line.
   Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
   To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
   First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
   You will alw ays find som e on net t le wine's left side;
   Second, different are those who stand at either end,
   But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
   Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
   Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
   Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
   Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.


  Herm ione let out a great sigh and Harry, am azed, saw t hat she was sm iling, t he
very last thing he felt like doing.
   " Brilliant," said Herm ione. " This isn't m agic -- it 's logic -- a puzzle. A lot of t he
greatest wizards haven't got an ounce of logic, they'd be stuck in here forever."
   "But so will we, won't we?"
   " Of course not ," said Herm ione. " Everyt hing we need is here on t his paper. Seven
bot t les: t hree are poison; t wo are wine; one will get us safely t hrough t he black fire,
and one will get us back through the purple."
   "But how do we know which to drink?"
   "Give me a minute."
  Herm ione read t he paper several t im es. Then she walked up and down t he line of
bottles, muttering to herself and pointing at them. At last, she clapped her hands.
   " Got it ," she said. " The sm allest bot t le will get us t hrough t he black fire -- t ow ard
the Stone."
   Harry looked at the tiny bottle.
   "There's only enough there for one of us," he said. "That's hardly one swallow."
   They looked at each other.
   "Which one will get you back through the purple flames?"
   Hermione pointed at a rounded bottle at the right end of the line.
    " You drink t hat ," said Harry. " No, list en, get back and get Ron. Grab broom s from
t he flying- key room , t hey'll get you out of t he t rapdoor and past Fluffy -- go st raight
t o t he owlery and send Hedwig t o Dum bledore, we need him . I m ight be able t o 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, w asn't I ?" said Harry, point ing at his scar. " I m ight get
lucky again."
   Herm ione's lip t rem bled, and she suddenly dashed at Harry and t hrew her arm s
around him.
   "Hermione!"
   "Harry -- you're a great wizard, you know."
   "I'm not as good as you," said Harry, very embarrassed, as she let go of him.
    " Me! " said Herm ione. "Books! And cleverness! There are m ore im port ant t hings --
friendship and bravery and -- oh Harry -- be careful!"
   "You drink first," said Harry. "You are sure which is which, aren't you?"
  " Posit ive," said Herm ione. She t ook a long drink from t he round bot t le at t he end,
and shuddered.
   "It's not poison?" said Harry anxiously.
   "No -- but it's like ice."
   "Quick, go, before it wears off."
   " Good luck -- take care."
   "GO!"
   Hermione turned and walked straight through the purple fire.
   Harry t ook a deep breat h and picked up t he sm allest bot t le. He t urned t o face t he
black flames.
   "Here I come," he said, and he drained the little bottle in one gulp.
   I t was indeed as t hough ice w as flooding his body. He put t he bot t le down and
walked forward; he braced him self, saw t he black flam es licking his body, but
couldn't feel t hem -- for a m om ent he could see not hing but dark fire -- t hen he was
on the other side, in the last chamber.
  There was already som eone t here -- but it w asn't Snape. I t wasn't even
Voldemort.




   Chapter Seventeen
   Th e M a n W it h Tw o Fa ce s


   I t was Quirrell.
   "You!" gasped Harry.
   Quirrell smiled. His face wasn't twitching at all.
   "Me," he said calmly. "I wondered whether I'd be meeting you here, Potter."
   "But I thought -- Snape -- "
    " Severus?" Quirrell laughed, and it wasn't his usual quivering t reble, eit her, 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 t o him , who w ould suspect p- p- poor,
st- stuttering P- Professor Quirrell?"
   Harry couldn't take it in. This couldn't be true, it couldn't.
   "But Snape tried to kill me!"
   " No, no, no. I t ried t o kill you. Your friend Miss Granger accident ally knocked m e
over as she rushed t o set fire t o Snape at t hat Quiddit ch m at ch. She broke m y eye
cont act wit h you. Anot her few seconds and I 'd have got you off t hat broom . I 'd have
m anaged it before t hen if Snape hadn't been m ut t ering a count ercurse, t rying t o
save you."
   "Snape was trying to save me?"
    " Of course," said Quirrell coolly. "Why do you t hink he want ed t o referee your
next m at ch? He was t rying t o m ake sure I didn't do it again. Funny, really ... he
needn't have bot hered. I couldn't do anyt hing wit h Dum bledore wat ching. All t he
ot her t eachers t hought Snape was t rying t o st op Gryffindor from w inning, he did
m ake him self unpopular ... and what a wast e of t im e, when aft er all t hat , I 'm going
to kill you tonight."
   Quirrell snapped his fingers. Ropes sprang out of t hin air and wrapped t hem selves
tightly around Harry.
   " You're t oo nosy t o live, Pot t er. Scurrying around t he school on Halloween like
that, for all I knew you'd seen me coming to look at what was guarding the Stone."
   " You let the troll in?"
  " Cert ainly. I have a special gift wit h t rolls -- you m ust have seen what I did t o t he
one in t he cham ber back t here? Unfort unat ely, while everyone else was running
around looking for it , Snape, who already suspect ed m e, went st raight t o t he t hird
floor t o head m e off -- and not only did m y t roll fail t o beat you t o deat h, t hat t hree-
headed dog didn't even manage to bite Snape's leg off properly.
   " Now , w ait quietly, Potter. I need to examine this interesting mirror."
   I t was only t hen t hat Harry realized what was st anding behind Quirrell. I t w as t he
Mirror of Erised.
   " This m irror is t he key t o finding t he St one," Quirrell m urm ured, t apping his w ay
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 t hink of doing was t o keep Quirrell t alking and st op him from
concentrating on the mirror.
   "I saw you and Snape in the forest -- " he blurted out.
    "Yes," said Quirrell idly, walking around the mirror to look at the back. "He was on
t o m e by t hat t im e, t rying t o find out how far I 'd got . He suspect ed m e all along.
Tried to frighten me -- as though he could, when I had Lord Voldemort on my side ...
"
   Quirrell came back out from behind the mirror and stared hungrily into it.
   "I see the Stone ... I'm presenting it to my master ... but where is it?"
  Harry st ruggled against t he ropes binding him , but t hey didn't give. He had t o
keep Quirrell from giving his whole attention to the mirror.
   " But Snape always seem ed t o hat e m e so m uch."
   "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 t hought Snape was t hreat ening you
... "
   For the first time, a spasm of fear flitted across Quirrell's face.
   "Sometimes," he said, " I find it hard t o follow m y m ast er's inst ruct ions -- he is a
great wizard and I am weak -- "
   "You mean he was there in the classroom with you?" Harry gasped.
    " He is wit h m e wherever I go," said Quirrell quiet ly. " I m et him w hen I t raveled
around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good
and evil. Lord Voldem ort showed m e how wrong I was. There is no good and evil,
t here is only power, and t hose t oo w eak t o seek it ... Since t hen, I have served him
faithfully, alt hough I have let him down m any t im es. He has had t o be very hard on
m e." Quirrell shivered suddenly. "He does not forgive m ist akes easily. When I failed
t o st eal t he st one from Gringot t s, he was m ost displeased. He punished m e ...
decided he would have to keep a closer watch on me ... "
  Quirrell's voice t railed away. Harry was rem em bering his t rip t o Diagon Alley --
how could he have been so st upid? He'd seen Quirrell t here t hat very day, shaken
hands with him in the Leaky Cauldron.
   Quirrell cursed under his breath.
   "I don't understand ... is the Stone inside the mirror? Should I break it?"
   Harry's mind was racing.
    What I want m ore t han anyt hing else in t he world at t he m om ent , he t hought , is
t o find t he St one before Quirrell does. So if I look in t he m irror, I should see m yself
finding it -- which m eans I 'll see where it 's hidden! But how can I look w it hout
Quirrell realizing what I'm up to?
   He t ried t o edge t o t he left , t o get in front of t he glass wit hout Quirrell not icing,
but t he ropes around his ankles were t oo t ight : he t ripped and fell over. Quirrell
ignored him. He was still talking to himself.
   "What does this mirror do? How does it work? Help me, Master!"
  And t o Harry's horror, a voice answered, and t he voice seem ed t o com e from
Quirrell himself.
   "Use the boy ... Use the boy ... "
   Quirrell rounded on Harry.
   "Yes -- Potter -- come here."
   He clapped his hands once, and t he ropes binding Harry fell off. Harry got slowly
to his feet.
   "Come here," Quirrell repeated. "Look in the mirror and tell me what you see."
   Harry walked toward him.
   I must lie, he thought desperately. I must look and lie about what I see, that's all.
    Quirrell m oved close behind him . Harry breat hed in t he funny sm ell t hat seem ed
t o com e from Quirrell's t urban. He closed his eyes, st epped in front of t he m irror,
and opened them again.
    He saw his reflect ion, pale and scared- looking at first . But a m om ent lat er, t he
reflect ion sm iled at him . I t put it s hand int o it s pocket and pulled out a blood- red
st one. I t winked and put t he St one back in it s pocket -- and as it did so, Harry felt
som et hing heavy drop int o his real pocket . Som ehow -- incredibly -- he'd got t en t he
Stone.
   "Well?" said Quirrell impatiently. "What do you see?"
   Harry screwed up his courage.
  " I see m yself shaking hands w it h Dum bledore," he invent ed. " I -- I 've w on t he
house cup for Gryffindor."
   Quirrell cursed again.
  " Get out of t he way," he said. As Harry m oved aside, he felt t he Sorcerer's St one
against his leg. Dare he make a break for it?
  But he hadn't w alked five paces before a high voice spoke, t hough Quirrell wasn't
moving his lips.
   "He lies ... He lies ... "
  " Pot t er, com e back here! " Quirrell shout ed. "Tell m e t he t rut h! What did you j ust
see?"
   The high voice spoke again.
   "Let me speak to him ... face- to- face ... "
   "Master, you are not strong enough!"
   "I have strength enough ... for this ... "
    Harry felt as if Devil's Snare was root ing him t o t he spot . He couldn't m ove a
m uscle. Pet rified, he wat ched as Quirrell reached up and began t o unwrap his
t urban. What was going on? The t urban fell aw ay. Quirrell's head looked st rangely
small without it. Then he turned slowly on the spot.
  Harry would have scream ed, but he couldn't m ake a sound. Where t here should
have been a back t o Quirrell's head, t here w as a face, t he m ost t errible face Harry
had ever seen. I t was chalk whit e wit h glaring red eyes and slit s for nost rils, like a
snake.
   "Harry Potter ... " it whispered.
   Harry tried to take a step backward but his legs wouldn't move.
    "See what I have become?" the face said. "Mere shadow and vapor ... I have form
only when I can share anot her's body ... but t here have always been t hose willing t o
let m e int o t heir heart s and m inds ... Unicorn blood has st rengt hened m e, t hese past
weeks ... you saw fait hful Quirrell drinking it for m e in t he forest ... and once I have
t he Elixir of Life, I will be able t o creat e a body of m y own ... Now ... why don't you
give me that Stone in your pocket?"
  So he knew. The feeling suddenly surged back int o Harry's legs. He st um bled
backward.
  " Don't be a fool," snarled t he face. " Bet t er save your own life and j oin m e ... or
you'll meet the same end as your parents ... They died begging me for mercy ... "
   " LI AR! " Harry shout ed suddenly.
   Quirrell was walking backward at him , so t hat Voldem ort could st ill see him . The
evil face was now smiling.
   " How t ouching ... " it hissed. " I always value bravery ... Yes, boy, your parent s
were brave ... I killed your fat her first ; and he put up a courageous fight ... but your
m ot her needn't have died ... she was t rying t o prot ect you ... Now give m e t he
Stone, unless you want her to have died in vain."
   "NEVER!"
   Harry sprang t ow ard t he flam e door, but Voldem ort scream ed " SEI ZE HI M! " and
the next second, Harry felt Quirrell's hand close on his wrist. At once, a needle- sharp
pain seared across Harry's scar; his head felt as t hough it w as about t o split in t wo;
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 t o see where Quirrell had gone,
and saw him hunched in pain, looking at his fingers -- t hey were blist ering before his
eyes.
  " Seize him ! SEI ZE HI M! " shrieked Voldem ort again, and Quirrell lunged, knocking
Harry clean off his feet landing on t op of him , bot h hands around Harry's neck --
Harry's scar w as alm ost blinding him wit h pain, yet he could see Quirrell how ling in
agony.
   "Master, I cannot hold him -- my hands -- my hands!"
  And Quirrell, t hough pinning Harry t o t he ground wit h his knees, let go of his neck
and st ared, bewildered, at his own palm s -- Harry could see t hey looked burned,
raw, red, and shiny.
   "Then kill him, fool, and be done!" screeched Voldemort.
  Quirrell raised his hand t o perform a deadly curse, but Harry, by inst inct , reached
up and grabbed Quirrell's face --
   "AAAARGH!"
   Quirrell rolled off him , his face blist ering, t oo, and t hen 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 from doing a curse.
   Harry j um ped t o his feet , caught Quirrell by t he arm , and hung on as t ight as he
could. Quirrell scream ed and t ried t o t hrow Harry off -- t he pain in Harry's head was
building -- he couldn't see -- he could only hear Quirrell's t errible shrieks and
Voldemort's yells of, "KI LL HI M! KI LL HI M! " and ot her voices, m aybe in Harry's own
head, crying, "Harry! Harry!"
   He felt Quirrell's arm wrenched from his grasp, knew all was lost , and fell int o
blackness, down ... down ... down ...


   Som et hing gold was glint ing j ust above him . The Snit ch! He t ried t o cat ch it , but
his arms were too heavy.
   He blinked. It wasn't the Snitch at all. It was a pair of glasses. How strange.
  He blinked again. The sm iling face of Albus Dum bledore sw am int o view above
him.
   "Good afternoon, Harry," said Dumbledore.
  Harry st ared at him . Then he rem em bered: " Sir! The St one! I t was Quirrell! He's
got the Stone! Sir, quick -- "
  " Calm yourself, dear boy, you are a lit t le behind t he t im es," said Dum bledore.
"Quirrell does not have the Stone."
   "Then who does? Sir, I -- "
   "Harry, please relax, or Madam Pomfrey will have me thrown out."
   Harry sw allowed and looked around him . He realized he m ust be in t he hospit al
wing. He was lying in a bed wit h whit e linen sheet s, and next t o him was a t able
piled high with what looked like half the candy shop.
    " Tokens from your friends and adm irers," said Dum bledore, beam ing. " What
happened down in t he dungeons bet ween you and Professor Quirrell is a com plet e
secret , so, nat urally, t he w hole school knows. I believe your friends Mist ers Fred and
George Weasley were responsible for t rying t o send you a t oilet seat . No doubt t hey
t hought it would am use you. Madam Pom frey, however, felt it m ight not be very
hygienic, and confiscated it."
   "How long have I been in here?"
  " Three days. Mr. Ronald Weasley and Miss Granger will be m ost 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
m anage t o t ake it from you. I arrived in t im e t o prevent t hat , alt hough you w ere
doing very well on your own, I must say."
   " You got t here? You got Herm ione's owl?"
   "We must have crossed in midair. No sooner had I reached London than it became
clear t o m e t hat t he place I should be was t he one I had j ust left . I arrived j ust in
time to pull Quirrell off you."
   "It was you."
   "I feared I might be too late."
   "You nearly were, I couldn't have kept him off the Stone much longer - "
  " Not t he St one, boy, you -- t he effort involved nearly killed you. For one t errible
moment there, I was afraid it had. As for the Stone, it has been destroyed."
   "Destroyed?" said Harry blankly. "But your friend -- Nicolas Flamel -- "
   " Oh, you know about Nicolas?" said Dum bledore, sounding quit e delight ed. " You
did do t he t hing properly, didn't you? Well, Nicolas and I have had a lit t le chat , and
agreed it's all for the best."
   "But that means he and his wife will die, won't they?"
   " They have enough Elixir st ored t o set t heir affairs in order and t hen, yes, t hey
will die."
   Dumbledore smiled at the look of amazement on Harry's face.
   " To one as young as you, I 'm sure it seem s incredible, but t o Nicolas and
Perenelle, it really is like going t o bed aft er a very, very long day. Aft er all, t o t he
well- organized m ind, deat h is but t he next great advent ure. You know , t he St one
was really not such a w onderful t hing. As m uch m oney and life as you could want !
The t wo t hings m ost hum an beings w ould choose above all -- t he t rouble is, hum ans
do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."
   Harry lay t here, lost for words. Dum bledore hum m ed a lit t le and sm iled at t he
ceiling.
  " Sir?" said Harry. " I 've been t hinking ... sir -- even if t he St one's gone, Vol- , I
mean, You- Know- Who -- "
  " Call him Voldem ort , Harry. Always use t he proper nam e for t hings. Fear of a
name increases fear of the thing itself."
  " Yes, sir. Well, Voldem ort 's going t o t ry ot her ways of com ing back, isn't he? I
mean, he hasn't gone, has he?"
   " No, Harry, he has not . He is st ill out t here som ewhere, perhaps looking for
anot her body t o share ... not being t ruly alive, he cannot be killed. He left Quirrell t o
die; he shows j ust as lit t le m ercy t o his followers as his enem ies. Nevert heless,
Harry, while you m ay only have delayed his ret urn t o pow er, it will m erely t ake
som eone else who is prepared t o fight what seem s a losing bat t le next t im e -- and if
he is delayed again, and again, why, he may never return to power."
    Harry nodded, but st opped quickly, because it m ade his head hurt . Then he said,
" Sir, t here are som e ot her t hings I 'd like t o know, if you can t ell m e ... t hings I w ant
to know the truth about ... "
    " The t rut h." Dum bledore sighed. " I t is a beaut iful and t errible t hing, and should
t herefore be t reat ed w it h great caut ion. However, I shall answer your quest ions
unless I have a very good reason not to, in which case I beg you'll forgive me. I shall
not, of course, lie."
   " Well ... Voldem ort said t hat he only killed m y m ot her because she t ried t o st op
him from killing me. But why would he want to kill me in the first place?"
   Dumbledore sighed very deeply this time.
  " Alas, t he first t hing you ask m e, I cannot t ell you. Not t oday. Not now. You will
know, one day ... put it from your m ind 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 m ot her died t o save you. I f t here is one t hing Voldem ort cannot
underst and, it is love. He didn't realize t hat love as powerful as your m ot her's for
you leaves it s own m ark. Not a scar, no visible sign ... t o have been loved so deeply,
even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It
is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with
Voldem ort , could not t ouch you for t his reason. I t was agony t o t ouch a person
marked by something so good."
  Dum bledore now becam e very int erest ed in a bird out on t he window sill, w hich
gave Harry t im e t o dry his eyes on t he 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 ." Dum bledore's eyes t winkled. " Useful t hings ... your fat her used it m ainly for
sneaking off to the kitchens to steal food when he was here."
   "And there's something else ... "
   "Fire away."
   "Quirrell said Snape -- "
   " Professor Snape, Harry."
   "Yes, him -- Quirrell said he hates me because he hated my father. Is that true?"
   " Well, t hey did rat her det est each ot her. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy. And
then, your father did something Snape could never forgive."
   "What?"
   "He saved his life."
   " What?"
    " Yes ... " said Dum bledore dream ily. " Funny, t he way people's m inds work, isn't
it ? Professor Snape couldn't bear being in your fat her's debt ... I do believe he
worked so hard t o prot ect you t his year because he felt t hat w ould m ake him and
your fat her even. Then he could go back t o hat ing your fat her's m em ory in peace ...
"
   Harry tried to understand this but it made his head pound, so he stopped.
   "And sir, there's one more thing ... "
   "Just the one?"
   "How did I get the Stone out of the mirror?"
   " Ah, now , I 'm glad you asked m e t hat . I t w as one of m y m ore brilliant ideas, and
bet ween you and m e, t hat 's saying som et hing. You see, only one who want ed t o find
the Stone -- find it, but not use it -- would be able to get it, otherwise they'd just see
t hem selves m aking gold or drinking Elixir of Life. My brain surprises even m e
som et im es ... Now, enough quest ions. I suggest you m ake a st art on t hese sweet s.
Ah! Bet t ie Bot t 's Every Flavor Beans! I was unfort unat e enough in m y yout h t o com e
across a vom it flavored one, and since t hen I 'm afraid I 've rat her lost m y liking for
them -- but I think I'll be safe with a nice toffee, don't you?"
  He sm iled and popped t he golden- brow n bean int o his m out h. Then he choked
and said, "Alas! Ear wax!"


   Madam Pomfrey, the nurse, was a nice woman, but very strict.
   "Just five minutes," Harry pleaded.
   "Absolutely not."
   "You let Professor Dumbledore in ... "
   "Well, of course, that was the headmaster, quite different. You need rest."
   " I am rest ing, look, lying down and everyt hing. Oh, go on, Madam Pom frey ... "
   "Oh, very well," she said. "But five minutes only."
   And she let Ron and Hermione in.
   "Harry!"
  Herm ione looked ready t o fling her arm s 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 happened?"
    I t was one of t hose rare occasions when t he t rue st ory is even m ore st range and
excit ing t han t he w ild rum ors. Harry t old t hem everyt hing: Quirrell; t he m irror; t he
St one; and Voldem ort . Ron and Herm ione were a very good audience; t hey gasped
in all t he right places, and when Harry t old t hem w hat was under Quirrell's t urban,
Hermione screamed out loud.
   " So t he St one's gone?" said Ron finally. "Flam el's j ust going t o die?"
   " That 's w hat I said, but Dum bledore t hinks t hat -- what was it ? -- 't o t he well-
organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.'"
   " I alw ays said he was off his rocker," said Ron, looking quit e im pressed at how
crazy his hero was.
   "So what happened to you two?" said Harry.
   " Well, I got back all right ," said Herm ione. " I brought Ron round -- t hat t ook a
while -- and we were dashing up t o t he owlery t o cont act Dum bledore when we m et
him in t he ent rance hall -- he already knew -- he j ust said, 'Harry's gone aft er him ,
hasn't he?' and hurtled off to the third floor."
  " D'you t hink he m eant you t o do it ?" said Ron. " Sending you your fat her's cloak
and everything?"
  " Well," Herm ione exploded, " if he did -- I m ean t o say t hat 's t errible -- you could
have been killed."
   " No, it isn't ," said Harry t hought fully. " He's a funny m an, Dum bledore. I t hink he
sort of want ed t o give m e a chance. I t hink he knows m ore or less everyt hing t hat
goes on here, you know. I reckon he had a pret t y good idea we were going t o t ry,
and inst ead of st opping us, he j ust t aught us enough t o help. I don't t hink it was an
accident he let m e find out how t he m irror w orked. I t 's alm ost like he t hought I had
the right to face Voldemort if I could ... "
   " Yeah, Dum bledore's off his rocker, all right ," said Ron proudly. " List en, you've
got t o be up for t he end- of- year feast t om orrow. The point s are all in and Slyt herin
won, of course -- you m issed t he last Quiddit ch m at ch, we were st eam rollered 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 t o go t o t he feast ," he t old Madam Pom frey as she st raight ened his m any
candy boxes. "I can, can't I?"
    " Professor Dum bledore says you are t o be allowed t o go," she said st iffly, as
t hough in her opinion Professor Dum bledore didn't realize how risky feast s 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 t oo big t o be allowed. He sat down next t o Harry, t ook one look at him , and
burst into tears.
   "It's -- all -- m y -- ruddy -- fault ! " he sobbed, his face in his hands. I t old t he 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 t o see Hagrid shaking wit h grief and rem orse, great
t ears leaking down int o his beard. " Hagrid, he'd have found out som ehow, t his is
Voldemort we're talking about, he'd have found out even if you hadn't told him."
   "Yeh could've died!" sobbed Hagrid. "An' don' say the name!"
     " VOLDEMORT! " Harry bellowed, and Hagrid was so shocked, he st opped crying.
" I 've m et him and I 'm calling him by his nam e. 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 w iped his nose on t he back of his hand and said, " That rem inds m e. I 've
got yeh a present."
  " I t 's not a st oat sandw ich, is it ?" said Harry anxiously, and at last Hagrid gave a
weak chuckle.
  " Nah. Dum bledore gave m e t he day off yest erday t er fix it . 'course, he shoulda
sacked me instead -- anyway, got yeh this ... "
  I t seem ed t o be a handsom e, leat her- covered book. Harry opened it curiously. I t
was full of wizard phot ographs. Sm iling and w aving at him from every page were his
mother and father.
   " Sent owls off t er all yer parent s' old school friends, askin' fer photos ... knew yeh
didn' have any ... d'yeh like it?"
   Harry couldn't speak, but Hagrid understood.


   Harry m ade his way down t o t he end- of- year feast alone t hat night . He had been
held up by Madam Pom frey's fussing about , insist ing on giving him one last checkup,
so t he Great Hall was already full. I t was decked out in t he Slyt herin colors of green
and silver t o celebrat e Slyt herin's w inning t he house cup for t he sevent h year in a
row . A huge banner showing t he Slyt herin serpent covered t he w all behind t he High
Table.
    When Harry w alked in t here was a sudden hush, and t hen everybody st art ed
t alking loudly at once. He slipped int o a seat bet ween Ron and Herm ione at t he
Gryffindor t able and t ried t o ignore t he fact t hat people w ere st anding up t o look at
him.
   Fortunately, Dumbledore arrived moments later. The babble died away.
    "Another year gone!" Dumbledore said cheerfully. "And I must trouble you with an
old m an's wheezing waffle before we sink our t eet h int o our delicious feast . What a
year it has been! Hopefully your heads are all a lit t le fuller t han t hey were ... you
have t he whole sum m er ahead t o get t hem nice and em pt y before next year st art s
...
    " Now , as I underst and it , t he house cup here needs awarding, and t he point s
st and t hus: I n fourt h place, Gryffindor, wit h t hree hundred and t welve point s; in
t hird, Hufflepuff, wit h t hree hundred and fift y- t wo; Ravenclaw has four hundred and
twenty- six and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy- two."
  A st orm of cheering and st am ping broke out from t he Slyt herin t able. Harry could
see Draco Malfoy banging his goblet on the table. It was a sickening sight.
  " Yes, Yes, w ell done, Slyt herin," said Dum bledore. " However, recent event s m ust
be taken into account."
   The room went very still. The Slytherins' smiles faded a little.
  " Ahem ," said Dum bledore. " I have a few last - m inut e point s t o dish out . Let m e
see. Yes ...
   "First -- to Mr. Ronald Weasley ... "
   Ron went purple in the face; he looked like a radish with a bad sunburn.
  " ... for t he best - played gam e of chess Hogwart s has seen in m any years, I award
Gryffindor house fifty points."
   Gryffindor cheers nearly raised t he bew it ched ceiling; t he st ars overhead seem ed
to quiver. Percy could be heard t elling t he ot her prefect s, " My brot her, you know! My
youngest brother! Got past McGonagall's giant chess set!"
   At last there was silence again.
    "Second -- t o Miss Herm ione Granger ... for t he use of cool logic in t he face of
fire, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."
    Herm ione buried her face in her arm s; Harry st rongly suspect ed she had burst
int o t ears. Gryffindors up and down t he t able were beside t hem selves -- t hey were a
hundred points up.
    "Third -- t o Mr. Harry Pot t er ... " said Dum bledore. 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 t hem selves hoarse
knew t hat Gryffindor now had four hundred and sevent y- t wo point s -- exact ly t he
sam e as Slyt herin. They had t ied for t he house cup -- if only Dum bledore had given
Harry just one more point.
   Dumbledore raised his hand. The room gradually fell silent.
   " There are all kinds of courage," said Dum bledore, sm iling. " I t t akes a great deal
of bravery t o st and up t o our enem ies, but j ust as m uch t o st and up t o our friends. I
therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom."
    Som eone st anding out side t he Great Hall m ight well have t hought som e sort of
explosion had t aken place, so loud was t he noise t hat erupt ed from t he Gryffindor
t able. Harry, Ron, and Herm ione st ood up t o yell and cheer as Neville, whit e wit h
shock, disappeared under a pile of people hugging him . He had never w on so m uch
as a point for Gryffindor before. Harry, st ill cheering, nudged Ron in t he ribs and
point ed at Malfoy, who couldn't have looked m ore st unned and horrified if he'd j ust
had the Body- Bind Curse put on him.
  " Which m eans," Dum bledore called over t he st orm of applause, for even
Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were celebrating the downfall of Slytherin, "we need a little
change of decoration."
    He clapped his hands. I n an inst ant , t he green hangings becam e scarlet and t he
silver becam e gold; t he huge Slyt herin serpent vanished and a t owering Gryffindor
lion t ook it s place. Snape was shaking Professor McGonagall's hand, wit h a horrible,
forced sm ile. He caught Harry's eye and Harry knew at once t hat Snape's feelings
t oward him hadn't changed one j ot . This didn't worry Harry. I t seem ed as though life
would be back to normal next year, or as normal as it ever was at Hogwarts.
  I t was t he best evening of Harry's life, bet t er t han winning at Quiddit ch, or
Christmas, or knocking out mountain trolls ... he would never, ever forget tonight.


    Harry had alm ost forgot t en t hat t he exam result s were st ill t o com e, but com e
t hey did. To t heir great surprise, bot h he and Ron passed w it h good m arks;
Herm ione, of course, had t he best grades of t he first years. Even Neville scraped
t hrough, his good Herbology m ark m aking up for his abysm al Pot ions one. They had
hoped t hat Goyle, w ho was alm ost as st upid as he w as m ean, m ight be t hrown out ,
but he had passed, t oo. I t was a sham e, but as Ron said, you couldn't have
everything in life.
    And suddenly, t heir w ardrobes were em pt y, t heir t runks w ere packed, Neville's
t oad was found lurking in a corner of t he t oilet s; not es were handed out t o all
st udent s, warning t hem not t o use m agic over t he holidays ( " I alw ays hope t hey'll
forget t o give us t hese," said Fred Weasley sadly) ; Hagrid was t here t o t ake t hem
down t o t he fleet of boat s t hat sailed across t he lake; t hey were boarding t he
Hogwart s Express; t alking and laughing as t he count ryside becam e greener and
t idier; eat ing Bet t ie Bot t 's Every Flavor Beans as t hey sped past Muggle t ow ns;
pulling off t heir wizard robes and put t ing on j acket s and coat s; pulling int o plat form
nine and three- quarters at King's Cross Station.
   I t t ook quit e a w hile for t hem all t o get off t he plat form . A w izened old guard was
up by t he t icket barrier, let t ing t hem go t hrough t he gat e in t wos and t hrees so t hey
didn't at t ract at t ent ion by all burst ing out of a solid wall at once and alarm ing t he
Muggles.
  " You m ust com e and st ay t his sum m er," said Ron, " bot h of you -- I 'll send you an
owl."
   " Thanks," said Harry, "I'll need something to look forward to." People jostled them
as t hey m oved forward t ow ard t he gat eway back t o t he Muggle world. Som e of t hem
called:
   "Bye, Harry!"
   "See you, Potter!"
   "Still famous," said Ron, grinning at him.
   "Not where I'm going, I promise you," said Harry.
   He, Ron, and Herm ione passed t hrough t he gat eway t oget her. " There he is, Mom ,
there he is, look!"
   It was Ginny Weasley, Ron's younger sister, but she wasn't pointing at Ron.
   "Harry Potter!" she squealed. "Look, Mom! I can see -- "
   "Be quiet, Ginny, and it's rude to point."
   Mrs. Weasley smiled down at them.
   "Busy year?" she said.
   "Very," said Harry. "Thanks for the fudge and the sweater, Mrs. Weasley."
   "Oh, it was nothing, dear."
   "Ready, are you?"
   I t was Uncle Vernon, st ill purple- faced, st ill m ust ached, st ill looking furious at t he
nerve of Harry, carrying an owl in a cage in a st at ion full of ordinary people. Behind
him stood Aunt Petunia and Dudley, looking terrified at the very sight of Harry.
   "You must be Harry's family!" said Mrs. Weasley.
  " I n a m anner 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 Herm ione, looking uncert ainly aft er
Uncle Vernon, shocked that anyone could be so unpleasant.
   " Oh, I will," said Harry, and t hey were surprised at t he grin t hat was spreading
over his face. " They don't know we're not allow ed t o use m agic at hom e. I 'm going
to have a lot of fun with Dudley this summer ...

				
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