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哈利波特与魔法石第四章(共17章)

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  又是一阵巨响,他又敲了一次。达德里被吵醒了。

  只听到身后一片哗啦声,维能姨丈冲进了这间房子,手上举着一把步枪,现在他们知道他买的那只长条袋子里的东西是什么了, "谁在外面?"他嚷道,"我警告你——我可是有枪的!"敲门声停住了。突然——轰的一声巨响。

  门被撞开了,撞门的人力气一定很大——门的插销全部脱落了,门直板板地摔在了地上。

  一个巨人站在门口。他的脸几乎完全被他又长又乱的头发和结成一团的胡子遮住了,但是在那头发下你可以清楚地看到两只乌黑的像甲壳虫一般发光的眼睛。

  那个巨人勉强地钻进了小屋,他必须弓着背头才不至于碰上天花板。他弯下身去捡起那张破门,轻易地就把它安回到原来的位置。外面的暴风雨好像小了一些。

  巨人盯着屋子里的人看。

  "不能给我来一杯茶吗?一路上真是辛苦啊!"他大步地走到达德里睡的沙发旁,达德里已经吓呆住了。

  "让一下,它也真够大的。"巨人说。

  达德里尖叫着跑开躲在他妈妈后面,他妈妈此时也吓得蹲在了维能姨丈的背后。

  "哈利,你原来在这里!"巨人说。

  哈利抬起头来注视着那张阴森可怕的脸孔,可那双乌黑的眼睛却是充满了笑意。

  "上一次我看到你的时候,你还是一个婴孩。"巨人说,"你看上去很像你爸爸,不过眼睛长得像你妈妈。"维能姨丈的牙关节发出一阵得得的声音。

  "我命令你马上离开,先生!"他说。"你是闯进来的!""住嘴,杜斯利。"巨人说道。他跨过沙发,一把抢过维能姨丈手中的枪,像揉橡皮泥一样两下就把它弯成一团,丢到角落里去了。

  维能姨丈发出了像是田鼠被人踩到时发出的响声。

  "不管怎样——哈利,"巨人转过身去,"祝你生日快乐。我有东西要送给你——可能有些地方被我压扁了,本过它还是很好吃的。"巨人从他黑色风衣的内口袋里掏出一个稍微压启了一点点的盒子。哈利用颤抖的手指打开了包。里面是一只大大的、用绿色奶油写着"祝哈利生日快乐"的巧克力蛋糕。

  哈利抬起头来看着巨人,他本来想说谢谢你的,可是话到嘴边又被咽下去了,他转而问道:"你是谁?"巨人笑了。

  "差点忘了介绍我自己了。我叫鲁贝斯。哈格力,我是霍格瓦彻城堡的看守员。"他伸出一只巨大的手臂与哈利握手,哈利整个手臂都被他摇动了。

  "来一杯茶怎么样?"巨人一边搓着手一边说,"我敢说再没有比茶更好的饮料了。"他的目光突然落在除了一个烧焦的薯片包装袋外空无一物的壁炉上。他鼻子里吟了一声,走过去俯下身。没有人知道他在那里搞什么,可是不出一会儿,壁炉里已经噼噼啪啪地看起火来。它把整个潮湿的小屋照得亮晃晃的。哈利也觉得全身暖和起来,好像在洗热水澡一样。

  巨人一屁股坐在沙发上,结果把沙发给坐塌了。巨人开始把外套里的东西一件件往外掏:一个铜茶壶,一包压扁了的火腿肠,一根拨火律,又一个茶壶,几只有裂口的大杯子和一瓶琥珀状的液体,在泡茶之前他喝了一大口瓶子里的液体。接着整个房间都弥漫着烤火腿肠的香味。巨人在烤火腿肠的时候大家都一言不发,可是当他把一根又大又多汁,微微有些烧焦的火腿肠从火堆上取下来时,达德里开始坐立不安了。可是维能姨丈严厉地说:"不要碰他给你的任何东西,达德里。"巨人呵呵地笑起来。

  "你的肥仔儿子不能够再胖了,杜斯利,不用担心,我不会给他的。"他把火腿肠递给哈利。哈利真是饿坏了,他觉得从来没有吃过这么好吃的东西,他一面吃一面盯着巨人看。最后,他见没人发问,于是自己问了:"对不起!我真的很想知道你是谁。"巨人喝了一大口茶,然后用手指抹了抹嘴。

  "叫我哈格力就行了。"他说,"每个人都是这样叫的。我已经跟你说过了,我是霍格瓦彻城堡的守门员——你会知道关于霍格瓦彻的所有事情的,我向你保证。""喔,我不知道。"哈利说。

  哈格力看上去很吃惊。

  "对不起。"哈利很快地说。

  "对不起?"哈格力大叫道,转过身去看着已经缩成一团的杜斯利一家。"应该说对不起的是他们!我知道你没收到我的信,但是我万万没有想到你连霍格瓦彻都不知道!难道你从来没有想过你父母是从哪里学会这些东西的?""学会什么?"哈利问道。

  "学会什么?"哈格力烦躁起来,"你等一分钟。"他跳了起来,他气得简直要把整个房子都掀了。杜斯利一家哆嗦着靠着墙站着。

  "你不要告诉我,"他对杜斯利一家咆哮着,"这个男孩——这个男孩!——对整件事——一无所知!"哈利觉得事情有点过火了。他必须去上学,毕竟他的成绩不差。

  "我知道一些,"他说,"我可以算数。"

  巨人只是挥手示意他别再说下去,"我是说关于我们的世界,你的世界,我的世界,也就是你父母的世界。""什么世界?"

  哈格力看起来都要爆炸了。

  "杜斯利!"他怒吼道。

  维能姨丈此时已经脸色苍白,口中喃喃自语着"上帝保佑,上帝保佑……"之类的话。哈格力狠狠的瞪着哈利。

  "但是至少你应该知道关于你爸爸妈妈的事情。"他说,"我的意思是,他们那么出名,你也是。""什么?我的爸爸妈妈以前很有名,是吗?"

  "你不知道……你居然不知道……"哈格力用手指摸了摸头发,迷惑地看着哈利。

  "你不知道你是谁?"他最后问。

  这时维能姨丈好像突然吃了豹子胆。

  "住嘴!"他命令道,"不要说了!我不许你告诉那个男孩子任何事情!"哈格力这时眼中的凶光足以让一个比维能姨丈更勇敢的人退缩下来。哈格力说话的时候每个字都透露着愤怒。

  "你从来没有告诉过他?没有告诉他丹伯多留给他的那封信中写的是什么?我当时也在场!我亲眼看见丹伯多把信留给你,杜斯利!你这么多年来一直是这样瞒住他的?""向我瞒了些什么?"哈利好奇地问。

  "住口!我警告你!"维能姨丈惊慌地大叫,帕尤妮亚姨妈则害怕地在一旁喘着气。

  "你们通通给我去死吧!"哈格力说,"哈利,你是一个巫师。"顷刻间整间房子都静下来了,只听得见海水和海风呼啸的声音。

  "我是什么?"哈利也喘着粗气。

  "没错,你是一个巫师。"哈格力说,又一屁股坐在沙发上,沙发凹陷得更深了。"一个一极棒的巫师,当然如果你再勤加练习的话。有一对这样的爸爸妈妈,你还能成为其他什么人吗?我觉得是时候给你看那封信了。"哈利伸出手去接住那只黄色的信封,上面用绿色墨水清清楚楚地写着:海上岩石里木屋地板上的哈利·波特先生收。他从里面抽出一封信并读道:"霍格瓦彻魔法学校校长:艾伯斯。丹伯多(国际巫术联盟协会承认的特级学校)

  亲爱的波特先生:我们很高兴通知你,你已经被霍格瓦彻魔法学校录取了。请在附件中找到必需的书和仪器的单子。

  学校将在九月一日开学。你的猫头鹰请不要迟于七月三十一日来学校报到。

  你忠诚的,米勒娃。麦康娜校长助理"无数的问题在哈利的脑子里像鞭炮一样炸开了花,以至于他不知道先问哪个才好。过了好一阵地才结结巴巴地说,"我的猫头鹰?

  这是什么意思?"

  "我差点把'飞侠'哥根斯给忘了。"哈格力一边说,一边在自己额头上猛拍了一下,那力气足足可以把一辆马车掀翻。接着他从他外套的另外一个口袋里掏出一只猫头鹰——一只真正的、活生生的,长相丑陋的猫头鹰——长长的羽毛和一身羊皮纸似的皮肤。在猫头鹰舌头与牙齿之间衔着一张字迹潦草的字条。哈利是掉过头来读的:"爱的丹伯多:我已经把哈利的信给他了,明天带他去买他需要的东西。

  天气不怎么好,你们要当心。

  哈格力"哈格力把这张字条卷成一条给了猫头鹰,猫头鹰马上把它衔在嘴里。哈格力打开门,猫头鹰转眼间便消失在暴风雨中。然后他走回来重新坐下,好像这些都是如同打电话一样平常的事情。

  哈利意识到自己的嘴一直大大地张着,赶紧把它闭拢。

  "我现在讲到哪里了?"哈格力问。那时维能姨丈依然铁青着脸,看上去非常生气,他一边说一边往火炉旁挪动。

  "他不能走!"

  哈格力笑了一声。

  "我倒想看看像你这样的马格人怎样可以阻止到他。"他说。

  "像他这样的什么?"哈利好奇地问道。

  "马格人。"哈格力说,"我们就是这样称呼那些不会魔法的人的。你在这样一个家庭里长大真是不幸,他们是我见过的最坏的马格人。""我们在收养他的时候,我们就发誓我们要消灭他的巫术。"维能姨丈说,"我们不能让他会巫术!真正的巫师!""原来你早就知道了!"哈利说,"你知道我是一个巫师?""没错!"帕尤妮亚姨妈突然尖叫道。"我们当然知道!我的妹妹是那样子,你又怎么可能跟她不一样呢?她也收到过像刚才那样的信,接着她就消失了——去了那所学校——每个假期回来的时候她的口袋都满是蝌料,把每杯茶都弄坏了!我是唯一可以看清楚地是什么人的人——她是一个怪物!可是我的爸爸妈妈,他们却为家里有一个女巫而感到骄傲!

  她停下来深深地吸了一口气又接着说,好像她已经憋了很久没说话似的。

  "接着她在学校里遇到了波特,他们双双离开并且结了婚,然后有了你。当然我知道你会跟她一样,一样的古怪,一样的异常。

  再然后,她把自己炸死了,我们只好收养了你!"哈利脸色变红了,到他回过神来他赶紧问:"炸死的?你告诉我他们是车祸撞死的!""车祸?"哈格力吼道,气得跳得老高,把杜斯利一家又吓到角落里去了。

  "车祸怎么可能害死莉莉和杰姆斯。波特呢?一派胡言!

  哈利·波特居然不知道自己的故事!在我们的世界里每个小孩都知道他的名字!

  ""到底是怎么回事?"哈利焦急地问道。

  怒气慢慢地从哈格力的脸上消失了,他看起来非常伤心。

  "我也没有想到。"他用一种缓慢的低沉的语气说。"当丹伯多告诉我你可能有麻烦时,我并不知道你有多少事情是不知道的。

  喔,哈利,我不知道应该由我来告诉你——我以为其他人会——你不能一无所知地去霍格瓦彻。"他厌恶地瞪了杜斯利一家一眼。

  "我将把所有我知道的事都告诉你了,但是记住,我不可能告诉你所有事。这是一个很大的秘密,其中有一部分……"他坐下了,盯着火炉看了一会又接着说。"我想,这是由一个人引起的——你居然不知道他的名字,我们世界里的每一个人都知道——""他是谁?"

  "我不愿意说这个人的名字,没有人愿意。"

  "为什么?"

  "他有一张血盆大口,哈利,人们都害怕他。你叫我怎么形容?

  听着,有一个很坏的巫师,像你想象中那么坏,甚至更坏,讲得透顶,他叫作……"哈格力吞了一口口水,说不下去了。

  "你可以把它写下来吗?"哈利提议。

  "我不会写,他是——福尔得摩特。"哈格力浑身一抖。"不要让我再说一遍,我们都叫他'那个人'。这个巫师大约在二十年前的现在,开始寻求同党。他当然找到了——有些是害怕他,有些是想得到一些他的力量,因为他可以赋予别人能量。

  哈利,那些日子真是太可怕了。你不知道谁可以信任,不敢同陌生的巫师过于亲近……可怕的事情发生了。他统治了整个世界,当然有人站起来反抗他——他把他们都杀了。太恐怖了,霍格瓦彻成了唯一一个安全的地方,丹伯多则是'那个人'唯一害怕的人。但是那时几乎没有人敢去那所学校。""你的爸爸妈妈是我所认识的最棒的巫师。他们当时是霍格瓦彻的领袖人物!

  可是'那个人'从来没有停止去说服他们加入他的行列……可能他知道他们与丹伯多太接近了,所以无法与黑暗势力沾上边。""可能他认为不能说服他们……可能他只是想除掉他们。人们所知道的是,十年前的万圣节,他突然出现在你们住的村庄里,那时你只有一岁。他到了你家,接着,接着……"哈格力突然掏出一块又脏又大的手帕来提鼻涕,他提鼻子的声音好像吹号角一般。

  "对不起!"他说,"太令人伤心了——要知道你爸爸妈妈是多么好的人啊——""'那个人'把他们杀了。接着,奇怪的事情发生了——他也想杀了你的。我想他是为了斩草除根吧,或者他只是喜欢杀人。但是他杀不了你。难道你从来没有怀疑过你是怎样得到额头上那块疤痕的吗?那不是一道普通的疤痕,那是一个强大的邪恶的咒语施到你身上时你得到的——它可以保护你的父母和你们的房子。咒语在你身上根本没有起作用,这就是你为什么出名的原因了,哈利。如果他想杀哪个人,那个人一定活不下来,但是你例外。他杀掉了当时最好的几个巫师——麦基伦夫妇,波恩夫妇,普理韦兹夫妇——而你不过是一个婴儿,但是你居然活下来了。"有些东西使得哈利心里一阵绞痛。哈格力的故事已经接近尾声,哈利又一次看到那道绿色亮光,这一次比以前任何一次都要清晰。他还记起了一些他从来没有记起的其它事情——一阵尖利的,阴险的,冷酷的笑声。

  哈格力伤心地看着他。

  "我按照丹伯多的命令把你从废墟里救出来,并把你送到这个地方……""骗人的玩艺。"维能姨丈说。哈利突然跳起来,几乎忘了杜斯利一家还在场。

  维能姨丈很显然已经重拾了他的胆量,他狠狠地瞪着哈格力,拳头紧紧地握着。

  "听着,"他开口了,"我承认你的确有些与众不同,毕竟我们要承认你赢了那场战斗。至于你的父母,你不必否认他们是怪人。

  在我眼中,没有了他们这世界会更加美好——他们做过些什么?不过都是些稀奇古怪的事情——正如我所料,我就知道他们不会有好下场——"就在那时,哈格力从沙发上跳了起来,从外衣里掏出了一把粉红色的伞。他把伞像拿剑一样指着维能姨丈说:"我警告你,维能——我警告你,你再说一个字的话……"因为害怕被一个大胡子巨人用伞尖刺穿,维能姨丈靠着墙挺直了身体,一个字都不敢说了。

  "这样最好。"哈格力说。他吸了一口气又重新坐到沙发上去。

  这回沙发承受不了他的体重,全散了架了。

  哈利此时有成千上万个问题要问。

  "最后,我想问,'那个人'到底怎么样了?"

  "问得好,哈利。他消失了,他消失的那天晚上又试图杀你,这使得你更为出名。最大的谜就是……他变得越来越有威力——为什么他还要离开呢?""有的人说他已经死了。在我看来,他才不会像常人那么轻易地死掉。有的人说他还活着,只是藏起来了,我也不相信。原来在他那边的人回到我们这世界来了。

  他们中的许多人还做了不少好事。可是很难说如果他回来,他们还会不会继续做好人。""更多人认为他肯定还活着,只不过失去了他的魔力,或者魔力减弱了。因为你身上的某种东西让它们消失的,哈利,那天晚上发生的事情使他没有了魔力——我不知道是什么,也没有人知道——但是一定是你做的。"哈格力热切地又崇拜地看着哈利,可是哈利没有觉得高兴和自豪,相反,他非常肯定一定是弄错了。他是一个巫师?这怎么可能?他一生下来就被达德里欺负,被帕尤妮亚姨妈和维能姨丈虐待,如果他真是巫师,为什么每次他们把他关进柜子的时候,他们没有变成丑陋的癫蛤唤?为什么他能打败世界上最大的恶魔,却总是被达德里像足球一样跟来踢去呢?

  "哈格力。"他冷静地说,"我想你是弄错了,我不可能是一个巫师。"出乎他意料的是,哈格力笑了。

  "不是一个巫师?因为你害怕或生气的时候什么事情也没有发生?"哈利盯着火炉出神。这时他想到了每件令他姨丈和姨妈发脾气的奇怪的事情。

  他总是使得达德里和他那帮朋友垂头丧气……因为他们在追他的时候总是追不上他……他因为自己那可笑秃头而不敢去上学校时,他的头发又奇迹般地长回来了……

  最近一次达德里打他的时候,他不是报复了吗,只是他没真正意识到而已,他不是让那只巴西蟒蛇去代他报了仇吗?

  哈利转过脸去笑看着哈格力,发现哈格力也正在笑看着他。

  "明白了吧?"哈格力说,"哈利·波特怎么可能是一个巫师——你等着,你马上就会在霍格瓦彻出名的。"维能姨丈还想作最后的抗争。

  "我没告诉过你他是不会去的吗?"他说,"他马上就要去斯德伍中学念书了,他会为此心存感激的。我读过那些信了,他需要的都是一些垃圾——咒语书,魔法棍和——""如果他想去的话,像你这样的马格人是无法阻止他的。"哈格力咆哮着,"你想阻止莉莉和杰姆斯的儿子去霍格瓦彻!你这个疯子。他一出生他的名字就众人皆知了,他将会在世界上最好的魔法学校深造,七年后他就会认不出自己了。他会和他年龄相当的年轻人呆在一起,他会在霍格瓦彻有史以来最好的校长丹伯多手下做事……""我可不想花钱让一些老混蛋教他怎么变魔术!"维能姨丈大叫。

  他显然是做得太过分了。哈格力抓住他的伞在他头上转了几圈。"听着,"他厉声说,"千万不要在我的面前侮辱丹伯多!"接着哈格力又挥舞着他的伞指向了达德里——只见空中划过一道紫色的闪光。

  只听一声类似鞭炮的巨响,夹杂着一阵尖厉的响声。下一秒只见达德里手舞足蹈起来,手在屁股后面乱抓着。当他把后背转过来时,哈利看见一条猪尾巴从他裤子里钻了出来。

  维能姨丈发怒了。他把帕尤妮亚姨妈和达德里拖进了另一间房,他恨恨地看了哈格力一眼就进房砰地一声把门关上了。

  哈格力低头看着他的伞,一边摸着自己的胡子。

  "我不应该乱发脾气的。"他后悔地说,"但是不这样他们也不知道教训。我本来想把他变成一只猪的。但是转念一想他本来已经长得够像猪的了,所以才只给他安了一条猪尾巴。"他用他那浓得如同灌木丛一般的眉毛下的眼睛膘了哈利一眼。

  "如果你不把这件事告诉霍格瓦彻的任何人的话,我会很感激你的。"他说,"严格说来,我不应该施魔法的,我只有在你施了魔法之后才能跟着你施魔法的。

  我的工作只是把信给你。我喜欢我的这项工作的原因之一是——""为什么你不应该施魔法?"哈利问。

  "实话告诉你,我原本是霍格瓦彻的居民的,可是在我住到第三年的时候,我被赶出去了,他们折断了我的魔法棒。可是丹伯多让我留下来做了看守员。他真是一个好人。""为什么他们要赶你走?"

  "天色已经很晚了,可我们还有大把事没做呢。"哈格力大声地说,"我们快到镇上去买你的书和其它东西吧。"他褪下他的厚重的黑大衣丢给哈利。

  "你可以睡在里面,"他说。"如果里面有东西蠕动的话,你千万不要害怕。

  因为我在我的口袋里放了几只冬眠的睡鼠。"



BOOM. They knocked again. Dudley jerked awake.

“Where's the cannon?” he said stupidly.

There was a crash behind them and Uncle Vernon came skidding into the room. He was holding a rifle in his hands - now they knew what had been in the long, thin package he had brought with them.

“Who's there?” he shouted. “I warn you — I'm armed!”

There was a pause. Then —

SMASH!

The door was hit with such force that it swung clean off its hinges and with a deafening crash landed flat on the floor.

A giant of a man was standing in the doorway. His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair.

The giant squeezed his way into the hut, stooping so that his head just brushed the ceiling. He bent down, picked up the door, and fitted it easily back into its frame. The noise of the storm 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 to hide behind his mother, who was crouching, terrified, behind Uncle Vernon.

“An’ here's Harry!” said the giant.

Harry looked up into the fierce, wild, shadowy face and saw that the beetle eyes were crinkled in a smile.

“Las’ time I saw you, you was only a baby,” said the giant. “Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh've got yer mom's eyes.”

Uncle Vernon made a funny rasping noise.

“I demand that you leave at once, sir!” he said. “You are breaking and entering!”

“Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune,” said the giant; he reached over the back of the sofa, jerked the gun out of Uncle Vernon's hands, bent it into a knot as easily as if it had been made of rubber, and threw it into a corner of the room.

Uncle Vernon made another funny noise, like a mouse being 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 slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.

Harry looked up at the giant. He meant to say thank you, but the words got lost on the way to his mouth, and what he said instead was, “Who are you?”

The giant chuckled.

“True, I haven't introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.”

He held out an enormous hand and shook Harry's whole arm.

“What about that tea then, eh?” he said, rubbing his hands together. “I'd not say no ter summat stronger if yeh've got it, mind.”

His eyes fell on the empty grate with the shriveled chip bags in it and he snorted. He bent down over the fireplace; they couldn't see what he was doing but when he drew back a second later, there was a roaring fire there. It filled the whole damp hut with flickering light and Harry felt the warmth wash over him as though he'd sunk into a hot bath.

The giant sat back down on the sofa, which sagged under his weight, and began taking all sorts of things out of the pockets of his coat: a copper kettle, a squashy package of sausages, a poker, a teapot, several chipped mugs, and a bottle of some amber liquid that he took a swig from before starting to make tea. Soon the hut was full of the sound and smell of sizzling sausage. Nobody said a thing while the giant was working, but as he slid the first six fat, juicy, slightly burnt sausages from the poker, Dudley fidgeted a little. Uncle Vernon said sharply, “Don't touch anything he gives you, Dudley.”

The giant chuckled darkly.

“Yer great puddin’ of a son don’ need fattenin’ anymore, Dursley, don’ worry.”

He passed the sausages to Harry, who was so hungry he had never tasted anything so wonderful, but he still couldn't take his eyes off the giant. Finally, as nobody seemed about to explain anything, he said, “I'm sorry, but I still don't really know who you are.”

The giant took a gulp of tea and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Call me Hagrid,” he said, “everyone does. An’ like I told yeh, I'm Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts — yeh'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. “It's them as should be sorry! I knew yeh weren't gettin’ yer letters but I never thought yeh wouldn't even know abou’ Hogwarts, fer cryin’ out loud! Did yeh never wonder where yer parents learned it all?”

“All what?” asked Harry.

“ALL WHAT?” Hagrid thundered. “Now wait jus’ one second!”

He had leapt to his feet. In his anger he seemed to fill the whole hut. The Dursleys were cowering against the wall.

“Do you mean ter tell me,” he growled at the Dursleys, “that this boy — this boy! — knows nothin’ abou’ — about ANYTHING?”

Harry thought this was going a bit far. He had been to school, after all, and his marks weren't bad.

“I know some things,” he said. “I can, you know, do math and stuff.”

But Hagrid simply waved his hand and said, “About our world, I mean. Your world. My world. Yer parents’ world.”

“What world?”

Hagrid looked as if he was about to explode.

“DURSLEY!” he boomed.

Uncle Vernon, who had gone very pale, whispered something that sounded like “Mimblewimble.” Hagrid stared wildly at Harry.

“But yeh must know about yer mom and dad,” he said. “I mean, they're famous. You're famous.”

“What? My — my mom and dad weren't famous, were they?”

“Yeh don’ know… yeh don’ know… ” Hagrid ran his fingers through his hair, fixing Harry with a bewildered stare.

“Yeh don’ know what yeh are ?” he said finally.

Uncle Vernon suddenly found his voice.

“Stop!” he commanded. “Stop right there, sir! I forbid you to tell the boy anything!”

A braver man than Vernon Dursley would have quailed under the furious look Hagrid now gave him; when Hagrid spoke, his every syllable trembled with rage.

“You never told him? Never told him what was in the letter Dumbledore left fer him? I was there! I saw Dumbledore leave it, Dursley! An’ you've kept it from him all these years?”

“Kept what from me?” said Harry eagerly.

“STOP! I FORBID YOU!” yelled Uncle Vernon in panic.

Aunt Petunia gave a gasp of horror.

“Ah, go boil yer heads, both of yeh,” said Hagrid. “Harry — yer a wizard.”

There was silence inside the hut. Only the sea and the whistling wind could be heard.

“I'm a what ?” gasped Harry.

“A wizard, o’ course,” said Hagrid, sitting back down on the sofa, which groaned and sank even lower, “an’ a thumpin’ good ‘un, I'd say, once yeh've been trained up a bit. With a mum an’ dad like yours, what else would yeh be? An’ I reckon it's abou’ time yeh read yer letter.”

Harry stretched out his hand at last to take the yellowish envelope, addressed in emerald green to Mr. H. Potter, The Floor, Hut-on-the-Rock, The Sea. He pulled out the letter and read:

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft 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

Questions exploded inside Harry's head like fireworks and he couldn't decide which to ask first. After a few minutes he stammered, “What does it mean, they await my owl?”

“Gallopin’ Gorgons, that reminds me,” said Hagrid, clapping a hand to his forehead with enough force to knock over a cart horse, and from yet another pocket inside his overcoat he pulled an owl — a real, live, rather ruffled-looking owl — a long quill, and a roll of parchment. With his tongue between his teeth he scribbled a note that Harry could read upside down:

Dear Professor Dumbledore,

Given Harry his letter.

Taking him to buy his things tomorrow.

Weather's horrible. Hope you're well.

Hagrid

Hagrid rolled up the note, gave it to the owl, which clamped it in its beak, went to the door, and threw the owl out into the storm. Then he came back and sat down as though this was as normal as talking on the telephone.

Harry realized his mouth was open and closed it quickly.

“Where was I?” said Hagrid, but at that moment, Uncle Vernon, still 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 nonmagic folk like them. An’ it's your bad luck you grew up in a family o’ the biggest Muggles I ever laid eyes on.”

“We swore when we took him in we'd put a stop to that rubbish,” said Uncle Vernon, “swore we'd stamp it out of him! Wizard indeed!”

“You knew ?” said Harry. “You knew I'm a — a wizard?”

“Knew!” shrieked Aunt Petunia suddenly. “Knew! Of course we knew! How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that — that school — and came home every vacation with her pockets full of frog spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her for what she was — a freak! But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!”

She stopped to draw a deep breath and then went ranting on. It seemed she had been wanting to say all this for years.

“Then she met that Potter at school and they left and got married and had you, and of course I knew you'd be just the same, just as strange, just as — as — abnormal — and then, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we got landed with you!”

Harry had gone very white. As soon as he found his voice he said, “Blown up? You told me they died in a car crash!”

“CAR CRASH!” roared Hagrid, jumping up so angrily that the Dursleys scuttled back to their corner. “How could a car crash kill Lily an’ James Potter? It's an outrage! A scandal! Harry Potter not knowin’ his own story when every kid in our world knows his name!”

“But why? What happened?” Harry asked urgently.

The anger faded from Hagrid's face. He looked suddenly anxious.

“I never expected this,” he said, in a low, worried voice. “I had no idea, when Dumbledore told me there might be trouble gettin’ hold of yeh, how much yeh didn't know. Ah, Harry, I don’ know if I'm the right person ter tell yeh — but someone's gotta — yeh can't go off ter Hogwarts not knowin'.”

He threw a dirty look at the Dursleys.

“Well, it's best yeh know as much as I can tell yeh — mind, I can't tell yeh everythin', it's a great myst'ry, parts of it…”

He sat down, stared into the fire for a few seconds, and then said, “It begins, I suppose, with — with a person called — but it's incredible yeh don't know his name, everyone in our world knows—”

“Who?”

“Well — I don’ like sayin’ the name if I can help it. No one does.”

“Why not?”

“Gulpin’ gargoyles, Harry, people are still scared. Blimey, this is difficult. See, there was this wizard who went… bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than worse. His name was…”

Hagrid gulped, but no words came out.

“Could you write it down?” Harry suggested.

“Nah — can't spell it. All right — Voldemort.” Hagrid shuddered. “Don’ make me say it again. Anyway, this — this wizard, about twenty years ago now, started lookin’ fer followers. Got ‘em, too — some were afraid, some just wanted a bit o’ his power, ‘cause he was gettin’ himself power, all right. Dark days, Harry. Didn't know who ter trust, didn't dare get friendly with strange wizards or witches… terrible things happened. He was takin’ over. ‘Course, some stood up to him — an’ he killed ‘em. Horribly. One o’ the only safe places left was Hogwarts. Reckon Dumbledore's the only one You-Know-Who was afraid of. Didn't dare try takin’ the school, not jus’ then, anyway.

“Now, yer mum an’ dad were as good a witch an’ wizard as I ever knew. Head boy an’ girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the myst'ry is why You-Know-Who never tried to get ‘em on his side before… probably knew they were too close ter Dumbledore ter want anythin’ ter do with the Dark Side.

“Maybe he thought he could persuade ‘em… maybe he just wanted ‘em outta the way. All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on Halloween ten years ago. You was just a year old. He came ter yer house an’ — an'—”

Hagrid suddenly pulled out a very dirty, spotted handkerchief and blew his nose with a sound like a foghorn.

“Sorry,” he said. “But it's that sad — knew yer mum an’ dad, an’ nicer people yeh couldn't find — anyway…

“You-Know-Who killed ‘em. An’ then — an’ this is the real myst'ry of the thing — he tried to kill you, too. Wanted ter make a clean job of it, I suppose, or maybe he just liked killin’ by then. But he couldn't do it. Never wondered how you got that mark on yer forehead? That was no ordinary cut. That's what yeh get when a powerful, evil curse touches yeh — took care of yer mum an’ dad an’ yer house, even — but it didn't work on you, an’ that's why yer famous, Harry. No one ever lived after he decided ter kill ‘em, no one except you, an’ he'd killed some o’ the best witches an’ wizards of the age — the McKinnons, the Bones, the Prewetts — an’ you was only a baby, an’ you lived.”

Something very painful was going on in Harry's mind. As Hagrid's story came to a close, he saw again the blinding flash of green light, more clearly than he had ever remembered it before — and he remembered something else, for the first time in his life: a high, cold, cruel laugh.

Hagrid was watching him sadly.

“Took yeh from the ruined house myself, on Dumbledore's orders. Brought yeh ter this lot…”

“Load of old tosh,” said Uncle Vernon. Harry jumped; he had almost forgotten that the Dursleys were there. Uncle Vernon certainly seemed to have got back his courage. He was glaring at Hagrid and his fists were clenched.

“Now, you listen here, boy,” he snarled, “I accept there's something strange about you, probably nothing a good beating wouldn't have cured — and as for all this about your parents, well, they were weirdoes, no denying it, and the world's better off without them in my opinion — asked for all they got, getting mixed up with these wizarding types — just what I expected, always knew they'd come to a sticky end—”

But at that moment, Hagrid leapt from the sofa and drew a battered pink umbrella from inside his coat. Pointing this at Uncle Vernon like a sword, he said, “I'm warning you, Dursley — I'm warning you — one more word…”

In danger of being speared on the end of an umbrella by a bearded giant, Uncle Vernon's courage failed again; he flattened himself against the wall and fell silent.

“That's better,” said Hagrid, breathing heavily and sitting back down on the sofa, which this time sagged right down to the floor.

Harry, meanwhile, still had questions to ask, hundreds of them.

“But what happened to Vol-, sorry — I mean, You-Know-Who?”

“Good question, Harry. Disappeared. Vanished. Same night he tried ter kill you. Makes yeh even more famous. That's the biggest myst'ry, see… he was gettin’ more an’ more powerful — why'd he go?

“Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die. Some say he's still out there, bidin’ his time, like, but I don’ believe it. People who was on his side came back ter ours. Some of ‘em came outta kinda trances. Don’ reckon they could've done if he was comin’ back.

“Most of us reckon he's still out there somewhere but lost his powers. Too weak to carry on. ‘Cause somethin’ about you finished him, Harry. There was somethin’ goin’ on that night he hadn't counted on — I dunno what it was, no one does — but somethin’ about you stumped him, all right.”

Hagrid looked at Harry with warmth and respect blazing in his eyes, but Harry, instead of feeling pleased and proud, felt quite sure there had been a horrible mistake. A wizard? Him? How could he possibly be? He'd spent his life being clouted by Dudley, and bullied by Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon; if he was really a wizard, why hadn't they been turned into warty toads every time they'd tried to lock him in his cupboard? If he'd once defeated the greatest sorcerer in the world, how come Dudley had always been able to kick him around like a football?

“Hagrid,” he said quietly, “I think you must have made a mistake. I don't think I can be a wizard.”

To his surprise, Hagrid chuckled.

“Not a wizard, eh? Never made things happen when you was scared or angry?”

Harry looked into the fire. Now he came to think about it… every odd thing that had ever made his aunt and uncle furious with him had happened when he, Harry, had been upset or angry… chased by Dudley's gang, he had somehow found himself out of their reach… dreading going to school with that ridiculous haircut, he'd managed to make it grow back… and the very last time Dudley had hit him, hadn't he got his revenge, without even realizing he was doing it? Hadn't he set a boa constrictor on him?

Harry looked back at Hagrid, smiling, and saw that Hagrid was positively beaming at him.

“See?” said Hagrid. “Harry Potter, not a wizard — you wait, you'll be right famous at Hogwarts.”

But Uncle Vernon wasn't going to give in without a fight.

“Haven't I told you he's not going?” he hissed. “He's going to Stonewall High and he'll be grateful for it. I've read those letters and he needs all sorts of rubbish — spell books and wands and—”

“If he wants ter go, a great Muggle like you won't stop him,” growled Hagrid. “Stop Lily an’ James Potter's son goin’ ter Hogwarts! Yer mad. His name's been down ever since he was born. He's off ter the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world. Seven years there and he won't know himself. He'll be with youngsters of his own sort, fer a change, an’ he'll be under the greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had Albus Dumbled—”

“I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!” yelled Uncle Vernon.

But he had finally gone too far. Hagrid seized his umbrella and whirled it over his head, “NEVER — ” he thundered, ” — INSULT — ALBUS — DUMBLEDORE — IN — FRONT — OF — ME!”

He brought the umbrella swishing down through the air to point at Dudley — there was a flash of violet light, a sound like a firecracker, a sharp squeal, and the next second, Dudley was dancing on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat bottom, howling in pain. When he turned his back on them, Harry saw a curly pig's tail poking through a hole in his trousers.

Uncle Vernon roared. Pulling Aunt Petunia and Dudley into the other room, he cast one last terrified look at Hagrid and slammed the door behind them.

Hagrid looked down at his umbrella and stroked his beard.

“Shouldn'ta lost me temper,” he said ruefully, “but it didn't work anyway. Meant ter turn him into a pig, but I suppose he was so much like a pig anyway there wasn't much left ter do.”

He cast a sideways look at Harry under his bushy eyebrows.

“Be grateful if yeh didn't mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts,” he said. “I'm — er — not supposed ter do magic, strictly speakin'. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an’ get yer letters to yeh an’ stuff — one o’ the reasons I was so keen ter take on the job.”

“Why aren't you supposed to do magic?” asked Harry.

“Oh, well — I was at Hogwarts meself but I — er — got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wand in half an’ everything. But Dumbledore let me stay on as gamekeeper. Great man, Dumbledore.”

“Why were you expelled?”

“It's gettin’ late and we've got lots ter do tomorrow,” said Hagrid loudly. “Gotta get up ter town, get all yer books an’ that.”

He took off his thick black coat and threw it to Harry.

“You can kip under that,” he said. “Don’ mind if it wriggles a bit, I think I still got a couple o’ doormice in one o’ the pockets.”
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