Harry's first fall into the Pensieve

Harry's curiosity gets the better of him when he's left alone in Dumbledore's office

Extract from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling

A shallow basin lay there, with odd carvings around the edge; runes and symbols that Harry did not recognise. The silvery light was coming from the basin’s contents, which were like nothing Harry had ever seen before. He could not tell whether the substance was liquid or gas. It was a bright, whitish silver, and it was moving ceaselessly; the surface of it became ruffled like water beneath wind, and then, like clouds, separated and swirled smoothly. It looked like light made liquid – or like wind made solid – Harry couldn’t make up his mind.

He wanted to touch it, to find out what it felt like, but nearly four years’ experience of the magical world told him that sticking his hand into a bowl full of some unknown substance was a very stupid thing to do. He therefore pulled his wand out of the inside of his robes, cast a nervous look around the office, looked back at the contents of the basin, and prodded them.

The surface of the silvery stuff inside the basin began to swirl very fast. Harry bent closer, his head right inside the cabinet. The silvery substance had become transparent, it looked like glass. He looked down into it, expecting to see the stone bottom of the basin – and saw instead an enormous room below the surface of the mysterious substance, a room into which he seemed to be looking through a circular window in the ceiling.

The room was dimly lit; he thought it might even be underground, for there were no windows, merely torches in brackets such as the ones that illuminated the walls of Hogwarts. Lowering his face so that his nose was a mere inch away from the glassy substance, Harry saw that rows and rows of witches and wizards were sat around every wall on what seemed to be benches rising in levels. An empty chair stood in the very centre of the room. There was something about the chair that gave Harry an ominous feeling. Chains encircled the arms of it, as though its occupants were usually tied to it.

Where was this place? It surely wasn’t Hogwarts, he had never seen a room like that here in the castle. Moreover, the crowd in the mysterious room at the bottom of the basin was composed of adults, and Harry knew there were not nearly that many teachers at Hogwarts. They seemed, he thought, to be waiting for something; even though he could only see the tops of their pointed hats, they all seemed to be facing in one direction, and nobody was talking to anybody else.

The basin being circular, and the room he was observing square, Harry could not make out what was going on in the corners of it. He leant even closer, tilting his head, trying to see… The tip of his nose touched the strange substance into which he was staring.

Dumbledore’s office gave an almighty lurch – Harry was thrown forwards and pitched head first into the substance inside the basin –

But his head did not hit the stone bottom. He was falling through something icy cold and black; it was like being sucked into a dark whirlpool –

And suddenly, he found himself sitting on a bench at the end of the room inside the basin, a bench raised high above the others. He looked up at the high stone ceiling, expecting to see the circular window through which he had just been staring, but there was nothing there but dark, solid stone.

Breathing hard and fast, Harry looked around him. Not one of the witches and wizards in the room (and there were at least two hundred of them) was looking at him. Not one of them seemed to have noticed that a fourteen-year-old boy had just dropped from the ceiling into their midst. Harry turned to the wizard next to him on the bench, and uttered a loud cry of surprise that reverberated around the silent room.

He was sitting right next to Albus Dumbledore.

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling