A crash landing

Harry and Ron collide with a rather unusual tree

Extract from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling

‘MIND THAT TREE!’ Harry bellowed, lunging for the steering wheel, but too late–


With an ear-splitting bang of metal on wood, they hit the thick tree trunk and dropped to the ground with a heavy jolt. Steam was billowing from under the crumpled bonnet; Hedwig was shrieking in terror, a golf-ball-sized lump was throbbing on Harry’s head where he had hit the windscreen, and to his right, Ron let out a low, despairing groan.

‘Are you OK?’ Harry said urgently.

‘My wand,’ said Ron, in a shaky voice. ‘Look at my wand.’

It had snapped, almost in two; the tip was dangling limply, held on by a few splinters.

Harry opened his mouth to say he was sure they’d be able to mend it up at the school, but he never even got started. At that very moment, something hit his side of the car with the force of a charging bull, sending him lurching sideways into Ron, just as an equally heavy blow hit the roof.

‘What’s happen–?’

Ron gasped, staring through the windscreen, and Harry looked around just in time to see a branch as thick as a python smash into it. The tree they had hit was attacking them. Its trunk was bent almost double, and its gnarled boughs were pummelling every inch of the car it could reach.

‘Aaargh!’ said Ron, as another twisted limb punched a large dent into his door; the windscreen was now trembling under a hail of blows from knuckle-like twigs and a branch as thick as a battering ram was pounding furiously on the roof, which seemed to be caving in –

‘Run for it!’ Ron shouted, throwing his full weight against his door, but next second he had been knocked backwards into Harry’s lap by a vicious upper cut from another branch.

‘We’re done for!’ he moaned, as the ceiling sagged, but sudden- ly the floor of the car was vibrating – the engine had re-started.

Reverse!’ Harry yelled, and the car shot backwards. The tree was still trying to hit them; they could hear its roots creaking as it almost ripped itself up, lashing out at them as they sped out of reach.

‘That,’ panted Ron, ‘was close. Well done, car.’

The car, however, had reached the end of its tether. With two smart clunks, the doors flew open and Harry felt his seat tip side- ways: next thing he knew he was sprawled on the damp ground. Loud thuds told him that the car was ejecting their luggage from the boot. Hedwig’s cage flew through the air and burst open; she rose out of it with a loud, angry screech and sped off towards the castle without a backwards look. Then, dented, scratched and steaming, the car rumbled off into the darkness, its rear lights blazing angrily.

‘Come back!’ Ron yelled after it, brandishing his broken wand. ‘Dad’ll kill me!’

But the car disappeared from view with one last snort from its exhaust.

‘Can you believe our luck?’ said Ron miserably, bending down to pick up Scabbers the rat. ‘Of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.’

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By J.K. Rowling