Reading Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
“Your welcome very much,” Fred and George said at the same time.
They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.
“But it is the strange and mysterious things that make life interesting,” Luna said in her dreamy voice.
Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills.
“Muggle thing.” Hermione said at the many curious looks.
He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache. Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.
“So we have a walrus, a horse, and a whale, right Harry?” Fred asked and Harry nodded with a smirk.
“Good to know that Petunia hasn’t changed,” Snape muttered but no one heard him except for Remus due to his heightened senses.
The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn't think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters.
“There is nothing wrong with the Potters!” Several people exclaimed, particularly Harry and Remus.
Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley's sister, but they hadn't met for several years; in fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn't have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband
Remus growled, letting his wolfish side show.
were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be.
“Thank goodness for that,” Harry said.
The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbors would say if the Potters arrived in the street. The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn't want Dudley mixing with a child like that.
“I think he should mix with a child like Harry!” Ginny exclaimed.
When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts,
“Funny, I thought it already started.” George remarked.
there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work,
“He has a most boring tie?” Hermione asked.
“Actually several,” Harry answered.
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.
“How could you not notice an owl in broad daylight?” Professor Sprout wondered aloud.
At half past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek, and tried to kiss Dudley good-bye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls. "Little tyke," chortled Mr. Dursley as he left the house.
“He encouraged that kind of behavior?!” Professor McGonagall exclaimed.
He got into his car and backed out of number four's drive.
It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar -- a cat reading a map. For a second, Mr. Dursley didn't realize what he had seen -- then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn't a map in sight.
Snape looked over at McGonagall. “What were you doing there of all places?”
“I’m sure if you stopped interrupting Severus, we would find out.” She replied shortly.
What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light. Mr. Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back.
“I know that stare,” Remus and the twins echoed at the same time. Then they looked at one another in surprise.
As Mr. Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive -- no, looking at the sign; cats couldn't read maps or signs.
“Oh I think this cat can,” Remus said. “She can read essays too.”
Mr. Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind. As he drove toward town he thought of nothing except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day.
But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he couldn't help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely dressed people about. People in cloaks. Mr. Dursley couldn't bear people who dressed in funny clothes -- the getups you saw on young people! He supposed this was some stupid new fashion.
“Not really, robes have been around for quite a while,” Ron said, rolling his eyes.
He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of these weirdoes standing quite close by. They were whispering excitedly together. Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of them weren't young at all; why, that man had to be older than he was, and wearing an emerald-green cloak! The nerve of him!
“The nerve indeed!” Fred scoffed.
But then it struck Mr. Dursley that this was probably some silly stunt -- these people were obviously collecting for something
“Like what?” Neville wondered.
... 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 always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth floor. If he hadn't, he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning. He didn't see the owls swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in the street did; they pointed and gazed open- mouthed as owl after owl sped overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl even at nighttime. Mr. Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morning. He yelled at five different people. He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit more.
“He sounds extremely pleasant Harry,” Ginny commented sarcastically.
He was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he thought he'd stretch his legs and walk across the road
“What?” Harry asked in surprise. “He did what?”
to buy himself a bun from the bakery.
“Ah, that makes sense.”
He'd forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he passed a group of them next to the baker's. He eyed them angrily as he passed. He didn't know why, but they made him uneasy. This bunch was whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn't see a single collecting tin. It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying.
"The Potters, that's right, that's what I heard yes, their son, Harry"
“And so the rumors begin.” Harry commented dryly.
Mr. Dursley stopped dead.
“Shame that he didn’t.” George said and Fred snickered.
Fear flooded him. He looked back at the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it.
He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone, and had almost finished dialing his home number when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his mustache, thinking... no, he was being stupid. Potter wasn't such an unusual name.
“In the Muggle world it isn’t,” Hermione exclaimed. “But in the wizarding world it is.”
He was sure there were lots of people called Potter who had a son called Harry. Come to think of it, he wasn't even sure his nephew was called Harry. He'd never even seen the boy. It might have been Harvey. Or Harold.
“Who would name their child Harvey Potter?” Neville asked in confusion.
There was no point in worrying Mrs. Dursley; she always got so upset at any mention of her sister. He didn't blame her -- if he'd had a sister like that...
“There was nothing wrong with Lily!” All of the teachers who had taught the bright witch exclaimed in frustration.
but all the same, those people in cloaks...
He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that afternoon and when he left the building at five o'clock, he was still so worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door.
"Sorry," he grunted,
“Did he just apologize?” Harry questioned, looking scandalized.
as the tiny old man stumbled and almost fell. It was a few seconds before Mr. Dursley realized that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn't seem at all upset at being almost knocked to the ground. On the contrary, his face split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passersby stare, "Don't be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last! Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!" And the old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle and walked off.
By this point many of the people in the room had long since realized what day it was and many of the witches – minus Umbridge of course – had tears in their eyes.
Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn't approve of imagination.
“How can anyone not approve of imagination?” Flitwick wondered in his squeaky voice.
As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw -- and it didn't improve his mood -- was the tabby cat he'd spotted that morning. It was now sitting on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes.
"Shoo!" said Mr. Dursley loudly. The cat didn't move. It just gave him a stern look. Was this normal cat behavior?
“No,” Remus said shaking his head. “But it is normal Professor McGonagall behavior.” His comment earned him an aforementioned stern look.
Mr. Dursley wondered. Trying to pull himself together, he let himself into the house. He was still determined not to mention anything to his wife.
Mrs. Dursley had had a nice, normal day. She told him over dinner all about Mrs. Next Door's problems with her daughter and how Dudley had learned a new word ("Won't!").
“Oh bravo!” The twins clapped sarcastically.
Mr. Dursley tried to act normally. When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news: "And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nation's owls have been behaving very unusually today. Although owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight, there have been hundreds of sightings of these birds flying in every direction since sunrise. Experts are unable to explain why the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern." The newscaster allowed himself a grin.
“Ted Tonks,” Professor Sprout said fondly, thinking about her old student.
“Tonks?” Harry asked.
“Yes, that Tonks, Harry,” Remus said with a nod.
"Most mysterious. And now, over to Jim McGuffin with the weather. Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?"
“I think Ted’s enjoying himself a bit too much,” Professor Sprout said, shaking her head but she was smiling.
"Well, Ted," said the weatherman, "I don't know about that, but it's not only the owls that have been acting oddly today. Viewers as far apart as Kent, Yorkshire, and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they've had a downpour of shooting stars! Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early -- it's not until next week, folks! But I can promise a wet night tonight." Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over Britain. Owls flying by daylight. Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place. And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters...
Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups of tea. It was no good. He'd have to say something to her. He cleared his throat nervously. "Err -- Petunia, dear -- you haven't heard from your sister lately, have you." As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry. After all, they normally pretended she didn't have a sister.
Again there were several growls and muttered comments.
"No," she said sharply. "Why?"
"Funny stuff on the news," Mr. Dursley mumbled. "Owls... shooting stars... and there were a lot of funny-looking people in town today..."
"So?" snapped Mrs. Dursley.
"Well, I just thought... maybe... it was something to do with... you know... her crowd."
“And what exactly does that mean ‘her crowd’?” Ron demanded.
“That would be wizards and anything to do with magic really,” Harry said in an unconcerned tone.
Mrs. Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr. Dursley wondered whether he dared tell her he'd heard the name "Potter." He decided he didn't dare. Instead he said, as casually as he could, "Their son -- he'd be about Dudley's age now, wouldn't he?"
“Well at least he knows something!” Hermione snapped.
"I suppose so," said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.
"What's his name again? Howard, isn't it."
“He didn’t even know your name?” Hermione exclaimed angrily, causing Remus to wince since he was right next to her.
“Well not at that point. But I can assure you he knew it well enough in a few years,” Harry answered in the same tone.
"Harry. Nasty, common name, if you ask me."
"Oh, yes," said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. "Yes, I quite agree." He didn't say another word on the subject as they went upstairs to bed. While Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom, Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom window and peered down into the front garden. The cat was still there. It was staring down Privet Drive as though it were waiting for something.
“What were you waiting for Professor?” Fred asked.
“Wait and see Mr. Weasley.”
Was he imagining things? Could all this have anything to do with the Potters? If it did... if it got out that they were related to a pair of -- well, he didn't think he could bear it. The Dursleys got into bed. Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly but Mr. Dursley lay awake, turning it all over in his mind. His last, comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near him and Mrs. Dursley. The Potters knew very well what he and Petunia thought about them and their kind....
“Oh yes, Lily knew how Petunia felt.” Snape snarled under his breath.
He couldn't see how he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be going on -- he yawned and turned over -- it couldn't affect them....
"Jinxed it," Harry muttered.
How very wrong he was.
[* Mr. Dursley might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It was sitting as still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkingly on the far corner of Privet Drive. It didn't so much as quiver when a car door slammed on the next street, nor when two owls swooped overhead. In fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all.
“Never would have been able to do that,” the twins shook their heads. Sitting still just wasn’t possible for them.
A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you'd have thought he'd just popped out of the ground. The cat's tail twitched and its eyes narrowed. Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice.
“Dumbledore!” The twins exclaimed excitedly. Dumbledore chuckled.
This man's name was Albus Dumbledore.
“Ha! We were right!” Fred said and Ginny rolled her eyes.
“No one disagreed with you,” she told him.
Albus Dumbledore didn't seem to realize that he had just arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome.
“Oh, I was very much aware I merely chose to ignore the fact,” Dumbledore said, chuckling slightly before resuming reading.
He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for something. But he did seem to realize he was being watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, "I should have known." He found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter.
“I’ll explain later,” Hermione said quickly as Ron opened his mouth.
He flicked it open, held it up in the air, and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with a little pop. He clicked it again -- the next lamp flickered into darkness.
Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer,
“Is that its real name sir?” Hermione asked.
“No, it is called the Deluminator Miss Granger.”
until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him. If anyone looked out of their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Dursley, they wouldn't be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement. Dumbledore slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street toward number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat. He didn't look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.
"Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall." He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.
“McGonagall ruffled? She must have had a bad day,” Ron said in an undertone.
“What was that Weasley?” McGonagall questioned sharply.
“Oh! Nothing Professor,” Ron said quickly while the twins sniggered.
"How did you know it was me?" she asked.
"My dear Professor, I've never seen a cat sit so stiffly."
"You'd be stiff if you'd been sitting on a brick wall all day," said Professor McGonagall.
“All day?” Hermione wondered aloud.
“Hermione you think like Dumbledore!” George exclaimed.
“You know she’ll take that as a compliment,” Harry told him and nodded to Hermione who was beaming.
When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here." Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.
"Oh yes, everyone's celebrating, all right," she said impatiently.
"Not everyone," Remus muttered quietly. Oh he had been in a pub sure, but it wasnt for celebrating.
"You'd think they'd be a bit more careful, but no -- even the Muggles have noticed something's going on. It was on their news." She jerked her head back at the Dursleys' dark living-room window. "I heard it. Flocks of owls... shooting stars.... Well, they're not completely stupid. They were bound to notice something. Shooting stars down in Kent -- I'll bet that was Dedalus Diggle. He never had much sense."
“Probably was. He always was a bit over eager,” Flitwick chimed.
"You can't blame them," said Dumbledore gently. "We've had precious little to celebrate for eleven years."
Everyone old enough to remember what the wizarding world was like before that fateful Halloween shivered at the thought of those terrible eleven years.
"I know that," said Professor McGonagall irritably. "But that's no reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out on the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumors." She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he was going to tell her something, but he didn't, so she went on. "A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all.
“I can see it now…” George said in a tone reminiscent of Trelawny.
I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?"
"It certainly seems so," said Dumbledore. "We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a lemon drop?"
“A what?” Ron asked curiously.
“Aww Ron! Why’d you have to think like McGonagall?” Fred complained loudly.
"A lemon drop. They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of."
"No, thank you," said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn't
think this was the moment for lemon drops. "As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone -"
[*"My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name. All this 'You- Know-Who' nonsense -- for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort."
Most of those gathered flinched with the exception of Dumbledore, Remus, and of course, Harry. Hermione, who had gotten somewhat used to the name, only winced slightly.
Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore, who was unsticking two lemon drops, seemed not to notice. "It all gets so confusing if we keep saying 'You-Know-Who.' I have never seen any reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort's name.”
"I know you haven 't, said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half admiring. "But you're different. Everyone knows you're the only one You-Know- oh, all right, Voldemort, was frightened of."
"You flatter me," said Dumbledore calmly. "Voldemort had powers I will never have."
“Because you’re too noble to use them sir,” Harry said, letting the Headmaster know that he was no longer angry at him with a smile. Of course, he might not have completely forgiven the Headmaster, not until he got some answers anyway. Dumbledore returned the smile before turning back to the book.
"Only because you're too -- well -- noble to use them."
[*"It's lucky it's dark. I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs."
Ron, Ginny, Neville, Fred, and George all exchanged similar, slightly horrified, expressions.
Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and said, "The owls are nothing next to the rumors that are flying around. You know what everyone's saying? About why he's disappeared? About what finally stopped him?" It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she was most anxious to discuss, the real reason she had been waiting on a cold, hard wall all day, for neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare as she did now. It was plain that whatever "everyone" was saying, she was not going to believe it until Dumbledore told her it was true. Dumbledore, however, was choosing another lemon drop and did not answer.
"What they're saying," she pressed on, "is that last night Voldemort turned up in Godric's Hollow. He went to find the Potters. The rumor is that Lily and James Potter are -- are -- that they're -- dead. "
By now, McGonagall and Sprout were both wiping tears out of their eyes and Remus dropped his head into his hands. Ginny reached over to where Harry was sitting with his eyes closed and squeezed his hand reassuringly.
Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.
"Lily and James... I can't believe it... I didn't want to believe it... Oh, Albus..."
Remus chuckled slightly. “Never knew you cared so much for James Professor.”
McGonagall sniffed. “Well, he did bring a certain spark to class.”
Dumbledore reached out and patted her on the shoulder.
"I know... I know..." he said heavily.
Professor McGonagall's voice trembled as she went on. "That's not
all. They're saying he tried to kill the Potter's son, Harry. But -- he couldn't. He couldn't kill that little boy. No one knows why, or how, but they're saying that when he couldn't kill Harry Potter, Voldemort's power somehow broke -- and that's why he's gone.” Dumbledore nodded glumly.
"It's -- it's true." faltered Professor McGonagall. "After all he's done... all the people he's killed... he couldn't kill a little boy. It's just astounding... of all the things to stop him... but how in the name of heaven did Harry survive?"
“Believe me Professor, I’ve wondered the same thing,” Harry said glumly.
"We can only guess," said Dumbledore. "We may never know."
Harry shot Dumbledore a look which the Headmaster ignored. Remus caught this interaction and raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything.
Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes beneath her spectacles. Dumbledore gave a great sniff as he took a golden watch from his pocket and examined it. It was a very odd watch.
It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge.
“I want one!” Fred and George exclaimed.
It must have made sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put it back in his pocket and said, "Hagrid's late. I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here, by the way?"
"Yes," said Professor McGonagall. "And I don't suppose you're going to tell me why you're here, of all places?"
"I've come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They're the only family he has left now."
Harry shook his head. “Not necessarily true,” he muttered, looking over at all the red heads and thinking about his godfather.
"You don't mean -- you can't mean the people who live here!" cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four. "Dumbledore -- you can't. I've been watching them all day. You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son -- I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!"
“Thanks Professor.” Harry said, then mumbled under his breath, “Glad to know someone had sense that day.”
"It's the best place for him," said Dumbledore firmly. "His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he's older. I've written them a letter."
“A letter!? Did you honestly believe that a letter could explain everything?” Both Hermione and Ginny were fuming and Remus and Harry both set on calming them down.
"A letter." repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall. "Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter. These people will never understand him! He'll be famous -- a legend -- I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future
“No.” Harry said quickly, looking at Fred and George.
“Aww come on Harry just think –,”
“ – for one whole day you wont be the only scrawny git in the world!”
“No.” Harry repeated sharply and Snape raised an eyebrow ever so slightly. Surely Potter was putting on a show?
-- there will be books written about Harry
“How many am I in again Hermione?” Harry teased his friend who stuck her tongue out at him.
-- every child in our world will know his name!"
"Exactly," said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon glasses. "It would be enough to turn any boy's head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something he won't even remember! Can you see how much better off he'll be, growing up away from all that until he's ready to take it?"
“Of course, finding out from a giant who just broke down a door of an isolated cabin wasn’t exactly ideal either,” Harry mumbled again.
“Isolated cabin?” Remus asked in confusion.
“Something tells me you’ll find out soon enough.” Harry said, waving at the book.
Professor McGonagall opened her mouth, changed her mind, swallowed, and then said, "Yes -- yes, you're right, of course. But how is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?" She eyed his cloak suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry underneath it.
"Hagrid's bringing him."
"You think it -- wise -- to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?"
“I trust Hagrid with my life.” Harry said, looking at Ron and Hermione.
“No offense mate, while I do trust Hagrid, after Aragog, I wouldn’t exactly be following him at a drop of a pin.”
“And don’t make me bring up Gwarp.” Hermione added.
“I would trust Hagrid with my life," said Dumbledore.
"I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place," said Professor McGonagall grudgingly, "but you can't pretend he's not careless. He does tend to -- what was that?" A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky -- and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them.
“Ah, Sirius’ bike,” Remus mused. “I wondered what had happened to that.”
If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild - long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins. In his vast, muscular arms he was holding a bundle of blankets.
"Hagrid," said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. "At last. And where did you get that motorcycle?"
"Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir," said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got him, sir."
"No problems, were there?"
"No, sir -- house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin' around. He fell asleep as we was flyin' over Bristol."
“Aww…” Hermione and Ginny cooed while the boys laughed and Harry blushed.
Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the bundle of blankets. Inside, just visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep. Under a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.
Again, Hermione and Ginny cooed.
"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 that is a perfect map of the London Underground.
“Do you really? Fred quickly interjected. When Dumbledore nodded he and George exchanged glances.
“Wicked.” They chorused.
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 to him, sir?" asked Hagrid. He bent his great, shaggy head over Harry and gave him what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss. Then, suddenly, Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog.
“Padfoot would resent that,” Remus mused.
"Shhh!" hissed Professor McGonagall, "you'll wake the Muggles!"
"S-s-sorry," sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large, spotted handkerchief and burying his face in it. "But I c-c-can't stand it -- Lily an' James dead -- an' poor little Harry off ter live with Muggles -"
“Tell me about it,” Harry said and Snape frowned. What? Hadn’t those Muggles worshipped Potter enough for his liking?
"Yes, yes, it's all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we'll be found," Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door.
He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry's blankets, and then came back to the other two. For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid's shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore's eyes seemed to have gone out.
Harry shuddered slightly. You know something is bad when Dumbledore’s eyes aren’t twinkling.
"Well," said Dumbledore finally, "that's that. We've no business staying here. We may as well go and join the celebrations."
"Yeah," said Hagrid in a very muffled voice, "I'll be takin' Sirius his bike back.
Remus shook his head. “I don’t think he’ll be getting back for a while.”
G'night, Professor McGonagall -- Professor Dumbledore, sir." Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.
"I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall," said Dumbledore, nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply.
“Very polite Professor,” George said with a smirk. McGonagall merely glared at him.
Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once, and twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the street. He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four.
"Good luck, Harry," he murmured. He turned on his heel and with a swish of his cloak, he was gone.
“You left him on the doorstep?!” Hermione yelled at the Headmaster and Harry felt a wave of sympathy for Remus, who had clapped his hands over his ears.
“What were you thinking?!” Ginny evidently agreed with Hermione.
“Miss Granger, Miss Weasley, I assure you, Harry was perfectly fine. I had placed several wards and shields over him.” Dumbledore soothed the two girls. Seeming somewhat satisfied, they sat down and Remus turned to Hermione.
“Are you going to be doing that a lot?” He asked her seriously and she merely blushed in response.
A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours' time by Mrs. Dursley's scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley... He couldn't know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry Potter -- the boy who lived!".
“That is the end of the first chapter,” Dumbledore said. “Who would like to read next?”
“I will.” Professor McGonagall said, taking the book from Dumbledore. She flipped to the
appropriate page and cleared her throat.