Witch Hunter 2

Published 13.03.2020 05:03

by Epicllama266

Total plays: 200

set 20 years after Witch Hunter 1.

  • Carrots and Peas

    Սարսափելի ճակատագիր է սպասվում նրանց, ովքեր շարունակում են հավատալ ու պաշտպանել այն ստին, թե նախագահականը կորել է։ Չար ուժերը, որոնք վերահսկողության տակ են վերցրել մեր կառավարությունը, ակտիվորեն ձգտում են ոչնչացնել Թրամփի շարժումը և վերջ տալ պահպանողական քաղաքականությանը։ Նրանք կդիմեն գրաքննության, գրաքննության, ճնշումների, ստի, ապատեղեկատվության, զրպարտության։ Այս խավարի միջով անցնելու միակ ճանապարհը ուժեղ մնալն ու հակահարված տալն է: Մենք պետք է շարունակենք համախմբվել այս ուժերի դեմ


  • Carrots and Peas

    You like Huey Lewis and the News? Their early work was a little too new wave for my taste. But when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor. In ’87, Huey released this; Fore!, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is “Hip To Be Square”. A song so catchy, most people probably don’t listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it’s not just about the pleasures of conformity and the importance of trends. It’s also a personal statement about the band itself.


  • Carrots and Peas

    Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to
    say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They
    were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything
    strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such
    nonsense.
    Mr Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which
    made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck,
    although he did have a very large moustache. Mrs Dursley was
    thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck,
    which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning
    over garden fences, spying on the neighbours. The Dursleys had a
    small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer
    boy anywhere.
    The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a
    secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover
    it. They didn’t think they could bear it if anyone found out about
    the Potters. Mrs Potter was Mrs Dursley’s sister, but they hadn’t
    met for several years; in fact, Mrs Dursley pretended she didn’t
    have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband
    were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be. The Dursleys
    shuddered to think what the neighbours would say if the Potters
    arrived in the street. The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a
    small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was
    another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn’t
    want Dudley mixing with a child like that.
    When Mr and Mrs Dursley woke up on the dull, grey Tuesday
    our story starts, there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to
    suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr Dursley hummed as he picked out
    his most boring tie for work and Mrs Dursley gossiped away
    8 HARRY POTTER
    happily as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair.
    None of them noticed a large tawny owl flutter past the window.
    At half past eight, Mr Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked
    Mrs Dursley on the cheek and tried to kiss Dudley goodbye but
    missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing
    his cereal at the walls. ‘Little tyke,’ chortled Mr Dursley as he left
    the house. He got into his car and backed out of number four’s
    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 realise what he had seen – then he jerked his head
    around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner
    of Privet Drive, but there wasn’t a map in sight. What could
    he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light.
    Mr Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back. As Mr
    Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the
    cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive
    – no, looking at the sign; cats couldn’t read maps or signs. Mr
    Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his
    mind. As he drove towards town he thought of nothing except a
    large order of drills he was hoping to get that day.
    But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by
    something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he
    couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely
    dressed people about. People in cloaks. Mr Dursley couldn’t bear
    people who dressed in funny clothes – the get-ups you saw on
    young people! He supposed this was some stupid new fashion. He
    drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a
    huddle of these weirdos standing quite close by. They were whispering excitedly together. Mr Dursley was enraged to see that a
    couple of them weren’t young at all; why, that man had to be older
    than he was, and wearing an emerald-green cloak! The nerve of
    him! But then it struck Mr Dursley that this was probably some
    silly stunt – these people were obviously collecting for something
    … yes, that would be it. The traffic moved on, and a few minutes
    later, Mr Dursley arrived in the Grunnings car park, his mind
    back on drills.
    Mr Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his office
    on the ninth floor. If he hadn’t, he might have found it harder to
    concentrate on drills that morning. He didn’t see the owls
    THE BOY WHO LIVED 9
    swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in the
    street did; they pointed and gazed open-mouthed as owl after owl
    sped overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl even at 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 was in a very good
    mood until lunch-time, when he thought he’d stretch his legs
    and walk across the road to buy himself a bun from the baker’s
    opposite.
    He’d forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he passed a
    group of them next to the baker’s. He eyed them angrily as he
    passed. He didn’t know why, but they made him uneasy. This lot
    were whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn’t see a single
    collecting tin. It was on his way back past them, clutching a large
    doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were
    saying.
    ‘The Potters, that’s right, that’s what I heard –’
    ‘– yes, their son, Harry –’
    Mr Dursley stopped dead. Fear flooded him. He looked back at
    the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to them, but
    thought better of it.
    He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office,
    snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone
    and had almost finished dialling his home number when he
    changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his
    moustache, thinking … no, he was being stupid. Potter wasn’t
    such an unusual name. He was sure there were lots of people
    called Potter who had a son called Harry. Come to think of it, he
    wasn’t even sure his nephew was called Harry. He’d never even
    seen the boy. It might have been Harvey. Or Harold. There was no
    point in worrying Mrs Dursley, she always got so upset at any
    mention of her sister. He didn’t blame her – if he’d had a sister like
    that … but all the same, those people in cloaks …
    He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that afternoon,
    and when he left the building at five o’clock, he was still so
    worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door.
    ‘Sorry,’ he grunted, as the tiny old man stumbled and almost
    fell. It was a few seconds before Mr Dursley realised that the man
    was wearing a violet cloak. He didn’t seem at all upset at being
    almost knocked to the ground. On the contrary, his face split into
    10 HARRY POTTER
    a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passers-by
    stare: ‘Don’t be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me
    today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last! Even
    Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy happy
    day!’
    And the old man hugged Mr Dursley around the middle and
    walked off.
    Mr Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a
    complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle,
    whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his car and set
    off home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never
    hoped before, because he didn’t approve of imagination.
    As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he
    saw – and it didn’t improve his mood – was the tabby cat he’d
    spotted that morning. It was now sitting on his garden wall. He was
    sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes.
    ‘Shoo!’ said Mr Dursley loudly.
    The cat didn’t move. It just gave him a stern look. Was this normal cat behaviour, Mr Dursley wondered. Trying to pull himself
    together, he let himself into the house. He was still determined
    not to mention anything to his wife.
    Mrs Dursley had had a nice, normal day. She told him over dinner all about Mrs Next Door’s problems with her daughter and
    how Dudley had learnt a new word (‘Shan’t!’). Mr Dursley tried to
    act normally. When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the
    living-room in time to catch the last report on the evening news:
    And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the
    nation’s owls have been behaving very unusually today. Although
    owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight,
    there have been hundreds of sightings of these birds flying in
    every direction since sunrise. Experts are unable to explain why
    the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern.’ The news
    reader allowed himself a grin. ‘Most mysterious. And now, over to
    Jim McGuffin with the weather. Going to be any more showers of
    owls tonight, Jim?’
    ‘Well, Ted,’ said the weatherman, ‘I don’t know about that, but
    it’s not only the owls that have been acting oddly today. Viewers as
    far apart as Kent, Yorkshire and Dundee have been phoning in
    to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they’ve
    had a downpour of shooting stars! Perhaps people have been
    THE BOY WHO LIVED 11
    celebrating Bonfire Night early – it’s not until next week, folks!
    But I can promise a wet night tonight.’
    Mr Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over
    Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all
    over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters …
    Mrs Dursley came into the living-room carrying two cups of
    tea. It was no good. He’d have to say something to her. He cleared
    his throat nervously. ‘Er – Petunia, dear – you haven’t heard from
    your sister lately, have you?’
    As he had expected, Mrs Dursley looked shocked and angry.
    After all, they normally pretended she didn’t have a sister.
    ‘No,’ she said sharply. ‘Why?’
    ‘Funny stuff on the news,’ Mr Dursley mumbled. ‘Owls …
    shooting stars … and there were a lot of funny-looking people in
    town today …’
    ‘So?’ snapped Mrs Dursley.
    ‘Well, I just thought … maybe … it was something to do with …
    you know … her lot.’
    Mrs Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr Dursley
    wondered whether he dared tell her he’d heard the name ‘Potter’.
    He decided he didn’t dare. Instead he said, as casually as he could,
    ‘Their son – he’d be about Dudley’s age now, wouldn’t he?’
    ‘I suppose so,’ said Mrs Dursley stiffly.
    ‘What’s his name again? Howard, isn’t it?’
    ‘Harry. Nasty, common name, if you ask me.’
    ‘Oh, yes,’ said Mr Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. ‘Yes, I
    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 was waiting for something.
    Was he imagining things? Could all this have anything to do
    with the Potters? If it did … if it got out that they were related to a
    pair of – well, he didn’t think he could bear it.
    The Dursleys got into bed. Mrs Dursley fell asleep quickly but
    Mr Dursley lay awake, turning it all over in his mind. His last,
    comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the
    Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near
    him and Mrs Dursley. The Potters knew very well what he and
    12 HARRY POTTER
    Petunia thought about them and their kind … He couldn’t see how
    he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be
    going on. He yawned and turned over. It couldn’t affect them …
    How very wrong he was.
    Mr Dursley might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but
    the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It
    was sitting as still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkingly on the
    far corner of Privet Drive. It didn’t so much as quiver when a car
    door slammed in the next street, nor when two owls swooped
    overhead. In fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all.
    A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching,
    appeared so suddenly and silently you’d have thought he’d just
    popped out of the ground. The cat’s tail twitched and its eyes
    narrowed.
    Nothing like this man had ever been seen in Privet Drive. He
    was tall, thin and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and
    beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was
    wearing long robes, a purple cloak which swept the ground and
    high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright and
    sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long
    and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This
    man’s name was Albus Dumbledore.
    Albus Dumbledore didn’t seem to realise that he had just
    arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots
    was unwelcome. He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for
    something. But he did seem to realise he was being watched,
    because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring
    at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight
    of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, ‘I
    should have known.’
    He had found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It
    seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter. He flicked it open, held it
    up in the air and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with
    a little pop. He clicked it again – the next lamp flickered into
    darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only
    lights left in the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the 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
    THE BOY WHO LIVED 13
    his cloak and set off down the street towards number four, where
    he sat down on the wall next to the cat. He didn’t look at it, but
    after a moment he spoke to it.
    ‘Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.’
    He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was
    smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square
    glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around
    its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black
    hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.
    ‘How did you know it was me?’ she asked.
    ‘My dear Professor, I’ve never seen a cat sit so stiffly.’
    ‘You’d be stiff if you’d been sitting on a brick wall all day,’ said
    Professor McGonagall.
    ‘All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have
    passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here.’
    Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.
    ‘Oh yes, everyone’s celebrating, all right,’ she said impatiently.
    ‘You’d think they’d be a bit more careful, but no – even the
    Muggles have noticed something’s going on. It was on their news.’
    She jerked her head back at the Dursleys’ dark living-room
    window. ‘I heard it. Flocks of owls … shooting stars … Well,
    they’re not completely stupid. They were bound to notice
    something. Shooting stars down in Kent – I’ll bet that was Dedalus
    Diggle. He never had much sense.’
    ‘You can’t blame them,’ said Dumbledore gently. ‘We’ve had
    precious little to celebrate for eleven years.’
    ‘I know that,’ said Professor McGonagall irritably. ‘But that’s no
    reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out
    on the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle
    clothes, swapping rumours.’
    She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as
    though hoping he was going to tell her something, but he didn’t,
    so she went on: ‘A fine thing it would be if, on the very day YouKnow-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found
    out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?’
    ‘It certainly seems so,’ said Dumbledore. ‘We have much to be
    thankful for. Would you care for a sherbet lemon?’
    ‘A what?’
    ‘A sherbet lemon. They’re a kind of Muggle sweet I’m rather
    fond of.’
    14 HARRY POTTER
    ‘No, thank you,’ said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though
    she didn’t think this was the moment for sherbet lemons. ‘As I say,
    even if You-Know-Who has gone –’
    ‘My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can
    call him by his name? All this “You-Know-Who” nonsense – for
    eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by
    his proper name: Voldemort.’ Professor McGonagall flinched, but
    Dumbledore, who was unsticking two sherbet lemons, seemed
    not to notice. ‘It all gets so confusing if we keep saying “YouKnow-Who”.’ I have never seen any reason to be frightened of
    saying Voldemort’s name.’
    ‘I know you haven’t,’ said Professor McGonagall, sounding halfexasperated, 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.’
    ‘Only because you’re too – well – noble to use them.’
    ‘It’s lucky it’s dark. I haven’t blushed so much since Madam
    Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs.’
    Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and
    said, ‘The owls are nothing to the rumours that are flying around.
    You know what everyone’s saying? About why he’s disappeared?
    About what finally stopped him?’
    It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she
    was most anxious to discuss, the real reason she had been waiting
    on a cold hard wall all day, for neither as a cat nor as a woman
    had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare as she did
    now. It was plain that whatever ‘everyone’ was saying, she was not
    going to believe it until Dumbledore told her it was true.
    Dumbledore, however, was choosing another sherbet lemon and
    did not answer.
    ‘What they’re saying,’ she pressed on, ‘is that last night Voldemort
    turned up in Godric’s Hollow. He went to find the Potters. The
    rumour is that Lily and James Potter are – are – that they’re –
    dead.’
    Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.
    ‘Lily and James … I can’t believe it … I didn’t want to believe it
    … Oh, Albus …’
    Dumbledore reached out and patted her on the shoulder. ‘I
    THE BOY WHO LIVED 15
    know … I know …’ he said heavily.
    Professor McGonagall’s voice trembled as she went on. ‘That’s
    not all. They’re saying he tried to kill the Potters’ son, Harry. But –
    he couldn’t. He couldn’t kill that little boy. No one knows why, or
    how, but they’re saying that when he couldn’t kill Harry Potter,
    Voldemort’s power somehow broke – and that’s why he’s gone.’
    Dumbledore nodded glumly.
    ‘It’s – it’s true?’ faltered Professor McGonagall. ‘After all he’s
    done … all the people he’s killed … he couldn’t kill a little boy? It’s
    just astounding … of all the things to stop him … but how in the
    name of heaven did Harry survive?’
    ‘We can only guess,’ said Dumbledore. ‘We may never know.’
    Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and
    dabbed at her eyes beneath her spectacles. Dumbledore gave a
    great sniff as he took a golden watch from his pocket and examined
    it. It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers;
    instead, little planets were moving around the edge. It must have
    made sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put it back in his
    pocket and said, ‘Hagrid’s late. I suppose it was he who told you
    I’d be here, by the way?’
    ‘Yes,’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘And I don’t suppose you’re
    going to tell me why you’re here, of all places?’
    ‘I’ve come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They’re the
    only family he has left now.’
    ‘You don’t mean – you can’t mean the people who live here?’
    cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at
    number four. ‘Dumbledore – you can’t. I’ve been watching them
    all day. You couldn’t find two people who are less like us. And
    they’ve got this son – I saw him kicking his mother all the way up
    the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!’
    ‘It’s the best place for him,’ said Dumbledore firmly. ‘His aunt
    and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he’s
    older. I’ve written them a letter.’
    ‘A letter?’ repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back
    down on the wall. ‘Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain
    all this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He’ll
    be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if today was
    known as Harry Potter Day in future – there will be books written
    about Harry – every child in our world will know his name!’
    ‘Exactly,’ said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top
    16 HARRY POTTER
    of his half-moon glasses. ‘It would be enough to turn any boy’s
    head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something
    he won’t even remember! Can’t you see how much better off he’ll
    be, growing up away from all that until he’s ready to take it?’
    Professor McGonagall opened her mouth, changed her mind,
    swallowed and then said, ‘Yes – yes, you’re right, of course. But
    how is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?’ She eyed his cloak
    suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry
    underneath it.
    ‘Hagrid’s bringing him.’
    ‘You think it – wise – to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?’
    ‘I would trust Hagrid with my life,’ said Dumbledore.
    ‘I’m not saying his heart isn’t in the right place,’ said Professor
    McGonagall grudgingly, ‘but you can’t pretend he’s not careless.
    He does tend to – what was that?’
    A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It
    grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for
    some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked
    up at the sky – and a huge motorbike fell out of the air and landed
    on the road in front of them.
    If the motorbike was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting
    astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least
    five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so
    wild – long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his
    face, he had hands the size of dustbin lids and his feet in their
    leather boots were like baby dolphins. In his vast, muscular arms
    he was holding a bundle of blankets.
    ‘Hagrid,’ said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. ‘At last. And
    where did you get that motorbike?’
    ‘Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir,’ said the giant, climbing
    carefully off the motorbike as he spoke. ‘Young Sirius Black lent it
    me. I’ve got him, sir.’
    ‘No problems, were there?’
    ‘No, sir – house was almost destroyed but I got him out all
    right before the Muggles started swarmin’ around. He fell asleep
    as we was flyin’ over Bristol.’
    Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the
    bundle of blankets. Inside, just visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep.
    Under a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a
    THE BOY WHO LIVED 17
    curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.
    ‘Is that where –?’ whispered Professor McGonagall.
    ‘Yes,’ said Dumbledore. ‘He’ll have that scar for ever.’
    ‘Couldn’t you do something about it, Dumbledore?’
    ‘Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Scars can come in useful. I have
    one myself above my left knee which is a perfect map of the
    London Underground. Well – give him here, Hagrid – we’d better
    get this over with.’
    Dumbledore took Harry in his arms and turned towards the
    Dursleys’ house.
    ‘Could I – could I say goodbye to him, sir?’ asked Hagrid.
    He bent his great, shaggy head over Harry and gave him what
    must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss. Then, suddenly,
    Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog.
    ‘Shhh!’ hissed Professor McGonagall. ‘You’ll wake the Muggles!’
    ‘S-s-sorry,’ sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large spotted handkerchief and burying his face in it. ‘But I c-c-can’t stand it – Lily an’
    James dead – an’ poor little Harry off ter live with Muggles –’
    ‘Yes, yes, it’s all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or
    we’ll be found,’ Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid
    gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden
    wall and walked to the front door. He laid Harry gently on the
    doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry’s
    blankets and then came back to the other two. For a full minute
    the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid’s
    shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously and the
    twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore’s eyes seemed
    to have gone out.
    ‘Well,’ said Dumbledore finally, ‘that’s that. We’ve no business
    staying here. We may as well go and join the celebrations.’
    ‘Yeah,’ said Hagrid in a very muffled voice. ‘I’d best get
    this bike away. G’night, Professor McGonagall – Professor
    Dumbledore, sir.’
    Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung
    himself on to the motorbike and kicked the engine into life; with
    a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.
    ‘I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall,’ said
    Dumbledore, nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose
    in reply.
    Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the
    18 HARRY POTTER
    corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it
    once and twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so
    that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out
    a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the
    street. He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of
    number four.
    ‘Good luck, Harry,’ he murmured. He turned on his heel and
    with a swish of his cloak he was gone.
    A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay
    silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would
    expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over
    inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on
    the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special,
    not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in
    a few hours’ time by Mrs Dursley’s scream as she opened the front
    door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next
    few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley … He
    couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret
    all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in
    hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!’


  • Carrots and Peas

    The Vanishing Glass
    Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had woken up to
    find their nephew on the front step, but Privet Drive had hardly
    changed at all. The sun rose on the same tidy front gardens and lit
    up the brass number four on the Dursleys’ front door; it crept into
    their living-room, which was almost exactly the same as it had
    been on the night when Mr Dursley had seen that fateful news
    report about the owls. Only the photographs on the mantelpiece
    really showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there
    had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach
    ball wearing different-coloured bobble hats – but Dudley Dursley
    was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large,
    blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a roundabout at the fair,
    playing a computer game with his father, being hugged and kissed
    by his mother. The room held no sign at all that another boy lived
    in the house, too.
    Yet Harry Potter was still there, asleep at the moment, but not
    for long. His Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her shrill voice
    which made the first noise of the day.
    ‘Up! Get up! Now!’
    Harry woke with a start. His aunt rapped on the door again.
    ‘Up!’ she screeched. Harry heard her walking towards the
    kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the
    cooker. He rolled on to his back and tried to remember the dream
    he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a
    flying motorbike in it. He had a funny feeling he’d had the same
    dream before.
    His aunt was back outside the door.
    ‘Are you up yet?’ she demanded.
    ‘Nearly,’ said Harry.
    ‘Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the bacon. And
    20 HARRY POTTER
    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 them, put them
    on. Harry was used to spiders, because the cupboard under the
    stairs was full of them, and that was where he slept.
    When he was dressed he went down the hall into the kitchen.
    The table was almost hidden beneath all Dudley’s birthday presents. It looked as though Dudley had got the new computer he
    wanted, not to mention the second television and the racing bike.
    Exactly why Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Harry,
    as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise – unless of course it
    involved punching somebody. Dudley’s favourite punch-bag was
    Harry, but he couldn’t often catch him. Harry didn’t look it, but he
    was very fast.
    Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard,
    but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. He
    looked even smaller and skinnier than he really was because all he
    had to wear were old clothes of Dudley’s and Dudley was about
    four times bigger than he was. Harry had a thin face, knobbly
    knees, black hair and bright-green eyes. He wore round glasses
    held together with a lot of Sellotape because of all the times
    Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked
    about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead
    which was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as
    he could remember and the first question he could ever remember
    asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had got it.
    ‘In the car crash when your parents died,’ she had said. ‘And
    don’t ask questions.’
    Don’t ask questions – that was the first rule for a quiet life with
    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 the top of his
    newspaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut. Harry must
    THE VANISHING GLASS 21
    have had more haircuts than the rest of the boys in his class put
    together, but it made no difference, his hair simply grew that way
    – all over the place.
    Harry was frying eggs by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen
    with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a
    large, pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes and
    thick, blond hair that lay smoothly on his thick, fat head. Aunt
    Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel – Harry
    often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.
    Harry put the plates of egg and bacon on the table, which was
    difficult as there wasn’t much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was
    counting his presents. His face fell.
    ‘Thirty-six,’ he said, looking up at his mother and father. ‘That’s
    two less than last year.’
    ‘Darling, you haven’t counted Auntie Marge’s present, see, it’s
    here under this big one from Mummy and Daddy.’
    ‘All right, thirty-seven then,’ said Dudley, going red in the face.
    Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on, began
    wolfing down his bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned
    the table over.
    Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger too, because she said
    quickly, ‘And we’ll buy you another two presents while we’re out
    today. How’s that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?’
    Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work. Finally
    he said slowly, ‘So I’ll have thirty … thirty …”
    ‘Thirty-nine, sweetums,’ said Aunt Petunia.
    ‘Oh.’ Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel.
    All right then.’
    Uncle Vernon chuckled.
    ‘Little tyke wants his money’s worth, just like his father. Atta
    boy, Dudley!’ He ruffled Dudley’s hair.
    At that moment the telephone rang and Aunt Petunia went to
    answer it while Harry and Uncle Vernon watched Dudley unwrap
    the racing bike, a cine-camera, a remote-control aeroplane, sixteen
    new computer games and a video recorder. He was ripping the
    paper off a gold wristwatch when Aunt Petunia came back from
    the telephone, looking both angry and worried.
    ‘Bad news, Vernon,’ she said. ‘Mrs Figg’s broken her leg. She
    can’t take him.’ She jerked her head in Harry’s direction.
    Dudley’s mouth fell open in horror but Harry’s heart gave a
    22 HARRY POTTER
    leap. Every year on Dudley’s birthday his parents took him and a
    friend out for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger bars or the
    cinema. Every year, Harry was left behind with Mrs Figg, a mad
    old lady who lived two streets away. Harry hated it there. The
    whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs Figg made him look at
    photographs of all the cats she’d ever owned.
    ‘Now what?’ said Aunt Petunia, looking furiously at Harry as
    though he’d planned this. Harry knew he ought to feel sorry that
    Mrs Figg had broken her leg, but it wasn’t easy when he reminded
    himself it would be a whole year before he had to look at Tibbies,
    Snowy, Mr Paws and Tufty again.
    ‘We could phone Marge,’ Uncle Vernon suggested.
    ‘Don’t be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy.’
    The Dursleys often spoke about Harry like this, as though he
    wasn’t there – or rather, as though he was something very nasty
    that couldn’t understand them, like a slug.
    ‘What about what’s-her-name, your friend – Yvonne?’
    ‘On holiday in Majorca,’ snapped Aunt Petunia.
    ‘You could just leave me here,’ Harry put in hopefully (he’d be
    able to watch what he wanted on television for a change and
    maybe even have a go on Dudley’s computer).
    Aunt Petunia looked as though she’d just swallowed a lemon.
    ‘And come back and find the house in ruins?’ she snarled.
    ‘I won’t blow up the house,’ said Harry, but they weren’t listening.
    ‘I suppose we could take him to the zoo,’ said Aunt Petunia
    slowly, ‘… and leave him in the car …’
    ‘That car’s new, he’s not sitting in it alone …’
    Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn’t really crying, it
    had been years since he’d really cried, but he knew that if he
    screwed up his face and wailed, his mother would give him
    anything he wanted.
    ‘Dinky Duddydums, don’t cry, Mummy won’t let him spoil your
    special day!’ she cried, flinging her arms around him.
    ‘I … don’t … want … him … t-t-to come!’ Dudley yelled between
    huge pretend sobs. ‘He always sp-spoils everything!’ He shot
    Harry a nasty grin through the gap in his mother’s arms.
    Just then, the doorbell rang – ‘Oh, Good Lord, they’re here!’
    said Aunt Petunia frantically – and a moment later, Dudley’s best
    friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in with his mother. Piers was a
    scrawny boy with a face like a rat. He was usually the one who
    THE VANISHING GLASS 23
    held people’s arms behind their backs while Dudley hit them.
    Dudley stopped pretending to cry at once.
    Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn’t believe his luck, was
    sitting in the back of the Dursleys’ car with Piers and Dudley, on
    the way to the zoo for the first time in his life. His aunt and uncle
    hadn’t been able to think of anything else to do with him, but
    before they’d left, Uncle Vernon had taken Harry aside.
    ‘I’m warning you,’ he had said, putting his large purple face
    right up close to Harry’s, ‘I’m warning you now, boy – any funny
    business, anything at all – and you’ll be in that cupboard from
    now until Christmas.’
    ‘I’m not going to do anything,’ said Harry, ‘honestly …’
    But Uncle Vernon didn’t believe him. No one ever did.
    The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry
    and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn’t make them
    happen.
    Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barber’s looking as though he hadn’t been at all, had taken a pair of
    kitchen scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald
    except for his fringe, which she left ‘to hide that horrible scar’.
    Dudley had laughed himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless
    night imagining school the next day, where he was already
    laughed at for his baggy clothes and Sellotaped glasses. Next
    morning, however, he had got up to find his hair exactly as it had
    been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off. He had been given a
    week in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain
    that he couldn’t explain how it had grown back so quickly.
    Another time, Aunt Petunia had been trying to force him into a
    revolting old jumper of Dudley’s (brown with orange bobbles).
    The harder she tried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed
    to become, until finally it might have fitted a glove puppet, but
    certainly wouldn’t fit Harry. Aunt Petunia had decided it must
    have shrunk in the wash and, to his great relief, Harry wasn’t
    punished.
    On the other hand, he’d got into terrible trouble for being
    found on the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley’s gang had been
    chasing him as usual when, as much to Harry’s surprise as anyone
    else’s, there he was sitting on the chimney. The Dursleys had
    received a very angry letter from Harry’s headmistress telling them
    Harry had been climbing school buildings. But all he’d tried to do
    24 HARRY POTTER
    (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of his
    cupboard) was jump behind the big bins outside the kitchen
    doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in
    mid-jump.
    But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even worth
    being with Dudley and Piers to be spending the day somewhere
    that wasn’t school, his cupboard or Mrs Figg’s cabbage-smelling
    living-room.
    While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia.
    He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the
    council, Harry, the bank and Harry were just a few of his favourite
    subjects. This morning, it was motorbikes.
    ‘… roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums,’ he said,
    as a motorbike overtook them.
    ‘I had a dream about a motorbike,’ said Harry, remembering
    suddenly. ‘It was flying.’
    Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He turned
    right around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic
    beetroot with a moustache, ‘MOTORBIKES DON’T FLY!’
    Dudley and Piers sniggered.
    ‘I know they don’t,’ said Harry. ‘It was only a dream.’
    But he wished he hadn’t said anything. If there was one thing
    the Dursleys hated even more than his asking questions, it was his
    talking about anything acting in a way it shouldn’t, no matter if it
    was in a dream or even a cartoon – they seemed to think he might
    get dangerous ideas.
    It was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with
    families. The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate
    ice-creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in
    the van had asked Harry what he wanted before they could hurry
    him away, they bought him a cheap lemon ice lolly. It wasn’t bad
    either, Harry thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratching its head and looking 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 the Dursleys so that Dudley
    and Piers, who were starting to get bored with the animals by
    lunch-time, wouldn’t fall back on their favourite hobby of hitting
    him. They ate in the zoo restaurant and when Dudley had a
    tantrum because his knickerbocker glory wasn’t big enough,
    THE VANISHING GLASS 25
    Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to
    finish the first.
    Harry felt, afterwards, that he should have known it was all too
    good to last.
    After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark
    in here, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all
    sorts of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits
    of wood and stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly
    found the largest snake in the place. It could have wrapped its
    body twice around Uncle Vernon’s car and crushed it into a dustbin – but at the moment it didn’t look in the mood. In fact, it was
    fast asleep.
    Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at
    the glistening brown coils.
    ‘Make it move,’ he whined at his father. Uncle Vernon tapped
    on the glass, but the snake didn’t budge.
    ‘Do it again,’ Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass
    smartly with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.
    ‘This is boring,’ Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.
    Harry moved in front of the tank and looked intently at the
    snake. He wouldn’t have been surprised if it had died of boredom
    itself – no company except stupid people drumming their fingers
    on the glass trying to disturb it all day long. It was worse than
    having a cupboard as a bedroom, where the only visitor was Aunt
    Petunia hammering on the door to wake you up – at least he got to
    visit the rest of the house.
    The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly,
    it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry’s.
    It winked.
    Harry stared. Then he looked quickly around to see if anyone
    was watching. They weren’t. He looked back at the snake and
    winked, too.
    The snake jerked its head towards Uncle Vernon and Dudley,
    then raised its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look that said
    quite plainly: ‘I get that all the time.’
    ‘I know,’ Harry murmured through the glass, though he wasn’t
    sure the snake could hear him. ‘It must be really annoying.’
    The snake nodded vigorously.
    ‘Where do you come from, anyway?’ Harry asked.
    26 HARRY POTTER
    The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry
    peered at it.
    Boa Constrictor, Brazil.
    ‘Was it nice there?’
    The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign again and Harry
    read on: This specimen was bred in the zoo. ‘Oh, I see – so you’ve
    never been to Brazil?’
    As the snake shook its head, a deafening shout behind Harry
    made both of them jump. ‘DUDLEY! MR DURSLEY! COME AND
    LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT IT’S
    DOING!’
    Dudley came waddling towards them as fast as he could.
    ‘Out of the way, you,’ he said, punching Harry in the ribs.
    Caught by surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor. What
    came next happened so fast no one saw how it happened – one
    second, Piers and Dudley were leaning right up close to the glass,
    the next, they had leapt back with howls of horror.
    Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa constrictor’s
    tank had vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly,
    slithering out on to the floor – people throughout the reptile
    house screamed and started running for the exits.
    As the snake slid swiftly past him, Harry could have sworn a
    low, hissing voice said, ‘Brazil, here I come … Thanksss, amigo.’
    The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.
    ‘But the glass,’ he kept saying, ‘where did the glass go?’
    The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of strong
    sweet tea while he apologised over and over again. Piers and
    Dudley could only gibber. As far as Harry had seen, the snake
    hadn’t done anything except snap playfully at their heels as it
    passed, but by the time they were all back in Uncle Vernon’s car,
    Dudley was telling them how it had nearly bitten off his leg, while
    Piers was swearing it had tried to squeeze him to death. But worst
    of all, for Harry at least, was Piers calming down enough to say,
    ‘Harry was talking to it, weren’t you, Harry?’
    Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house
    before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak.
    He managed to say, ‘Go – cupboard – stay – no meals,’ before he
    collapsed into a chair and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a
    large brandy.
    *
    THE VANISHING GLASS 27
    Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had a watch.
    He didn’t know what time it was and he couldn’t be sure the
    Dursleys were asleep yet. Until they were, he couldn’t risk sneaking
    to the kitchen for some food.
    He’d lived with the Dursleys almost ten years, ten miserable
    years, as long as he could remember, ever since he’d been a baby
    and his parents had died in that car crash. He couldn’t remember
    being in the car when his parents had died. Sometimes, when he
    strained his memory during long hours in his cupboard, he came
    up with a strange vision: a blinding flash of green light and a
    burning pain on his forehead. This, he supposed, was the crash,
    though he couldn’t imagine where all the green light came from.
    He couldn’t remember his parents at all. His aunt and uncle never
    spoke about them, and of course he was forbidden to ask
    questions. There were no photographs of them in the house.
    When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed
    of some unknown relation coming to take him away, but it had
    never happened; the Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes
    he thought (or maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed
    to know him. Very strange strangers they were, too. A tiny man in
    a violet top hat had bowed to him once while out shopping with
    Aunt Petunia and Dudley. After asking Harry furiously if he knew
    the man, Aunt Petunia had rushed them out of the shop without
    buying anything. A wild-looking old woman dressed all in green
    had waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very
    long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the
    other day and then walked away without a word. The weirdest
    thing about all these people was the way they seemed to vanish
    the second Harry tried to get a closer look.
    At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley’s
    gang hated that odd Harry Potter in his baggy old clothes and
    broken glasses, and nobody liked to disagree with Dudley’s gang.