A delivery for the Dursleys

A young Harry Potter has no idea what's in store for him

Extract from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

by J.K. Rowling

‘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 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 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 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!’


Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

By J.K. Rowling