A birthday delivery

Harry receives some post from a weary Errol, with the aid of Hedwig and a Hogwarts owl

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling

He scanned the starry sky for a sign of Hedwig, perhaps soaring back to him with a dead mouse dangling from her beak, expecting praise. Gazing absently over the rooftops, it was a few seconds before Harry realised what he was seeing.

Silhouetted against the golden moon, and growing larger every moment, was a large, strangely lop-sided creature, and it was flapping in Harry’s direction. He stood quite still, watching it sink lower and lower. For a split second, he hesitated, his hand on the window-latch, wondering whether to slam it shut, but then the bizarre creature soared over one of the streetlamps of Privet Drive, and Harry, realising what it was, leapt aside.

Through the window soared three owls, two of them holding up the third, which appeared to be unconscious. They landed with a soft flump on Harry’s bed, and the middle owl, which was large and grey, keeled right over and lay motionless. There was a large package tied to its legs.

Harry recognised the unconscious owl at once – his name was Errol, and he belonged to the Weasley family. Harry dashed to the bed at once, untied the cords around Errol’s legs, took off the parcel and then carried Errol to Hedwig’s cage. Errol opened one bleary eye, gave a feeble hoot of thanks, and began to gulp some water.

Harry turned back to the remaining owls. One of them, the large snowy female, was his own Hedwig. She, too, was carrying a parcel, and looked extremely pleased with herself. She gave Harry an affectionate nip with her beak as he removed her burden, then flew across the room to join Errol.

Harry didn’t recognise the third owl, a handsome tawny one, but he knew at once where it had come from, because in addition to a third parcel, it was carrying a letter bearing the Hogwarts crest. When Harry relieved this owl of its post it ruffled its feathers importantly, stretched its wings and took off through the window into the night.

Harry sat down on his bed, grabbed Errol’s package, ripped off the brown paper and discovered a present wrapped in gold, and his first ever birthday card. Fingers trembling slightly, he opened the envelope. Two pieces of paper fell out – a letter and a newspaper cutting.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling