Extract from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling

George made to shut the door to drown the noise, but before he could do so, a house-elf edged into the room.

Except for the filthy rag tied like a loincloth around its middle, it was completely naked. It looked very old. Its skin seemed to be several times too big for it and, though it was bald like all house-elves, there was a quantity of white hair growing out of its large, batlike ears. Its eyes were a bloodshot and watery grey and its fleshy nose was large and rather snoutlike.

The elf took absolutely no notice of Harry and the rest. Acting as though it could not see them, it shuffled hunchbacked, slowly and doggedly, towards the far end of the room, all the while muttering under its breath in a hoarse, deep voice like a bullfrog’s.

‘... smells like a drain and a criminal to boot, but she’s no better, nasty old blood traitor with her brats messing up my mistress’s house, oh, my poor mistress, if she knew, if she knew the scum they’ve let into her house, what would she say to old Kreacher, oh, the shame of it, Mudbloods and werewolves and traitors and thieves, poor old Kreacher, what can he do ...’

‘Hello, Kreacher,’ said Fred very loudly, closing the door with a snap.

The house-elf froze in his tracks, stopped muttering, and gave a very pronounced and very unconvincing start of surprise.

‘Kreacher did not see young master,’ he said, turning around and bowing to Fred. Still facing the carpet, he added, perfectly audibly, ‘Nasty little brat of a blood traitor it is.’

‘Sorry?’ said George. ‘Didn’t catch that last bit.’

‘Kreacher said nothing,’ said the elf, with a second bow to George, adding in a clear undertone, ‘and there’s its twin, unnatural little beasts they are.’

Harry didn’t know whether to laugh or not. The elf straightened up, eyeing them all malevolently, and apparently convinced that they could not hear him as he continued to mutter.

‘... and there’s the Mudblood, standing there bold as brass, oh, if my mistress knew, oh, how she’d cry, and there’s a new boy, Kreacher doesn’t know his name. What is he doing here? Kreacher doesn’t know ...’

‘This is Harry, Kreacher,’ said Hermione tentatively. ‘Harry Potter.’

Kreacher’s pale eyes widened and he muttered faster and more furiously than ever.

‘The Mudblood is talking to Kreacher as though she is my friend, if Kreacher’s mistress saw him in such company, oh, what would she say –’

‘Don’t call her a Mudblood!’ said Ron and Ginny together, very angrily.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ Hermione whispered, ‘he’s not in his right mind, he doesn’t know what he’s –’

‘Don’t kid yourself, Hermione, he knows exactly what he’s saying,’ said Fred, eyeing Kreacher with great dislike.

Kreacher was still muttering, his eyes on Harry.

‘Is it true? Is it Harry Potter? Kreacher can see the scar, it must be true, that’s the boy who stopped the Dark Lord, Kreacher wonders how he did it –’

‘Don’t we all, Kreacher,’ said Fred.
‘What do you want, anyway?’ George asked.


Kreacher’s huge eyes darted towards George.


‘Kreacher is cleaning,’ he said evasively.


‘A likely story,’ said a voice behind Harry.


Sirius had come back; he was glowering at the elf from the doorway. The noise in the hall had abated; perhaps Mrs Weasley and Mundungus had moved their argument down into the kitchen.

At the sight of Sirius, Kreacher flung himself into a ridiculously low bow that flattened his snoutlike nose on the floor.

‘Stand up straight,’ said Sirius impatiently. ‘Now, what are you up to?’

‘Kreacher is cleaning,’ the elf repeated. ‘Kreacher lives to serve the Noble House of Black –’

‘And it’s getting blacker every day, it’s filthy,’ said Sirius.

‘Master always liked his little joke,’ said Kreacher, bowing again, and continuing in an undertone, ‘Master was a nasty ungrateful swine who broke his mother’s heart –’

‘My mother didn’t have a heart, Kreacher,’ snapped Sirius. ‘She kept herself alive out of pure spite.’

Kreacher bowed again as he spoke.

‘Whatever Master says,’ he muttered furiously. ‘Master is not fit to wipe slime from his mother’s boots, oh, my poor mistress, what would she say if she saw Kreacher serving him, how she hated him, what a disappointment he was –’

‘I asked you what you were up to,’ said Sirius coldly. ‘Every time you show up pretending to be cleaning, you sneak something off to your room so we can’t throw it out.’

‘Kreacher would never move anything from its proper place in Master’s house,’ said the elf, then muttered very fast, ‘Mistress would never forgive Kreacher if the tapestry was thrown out, seven centuries it’s been in the family, Kreacher must save it, Kreacher will not let Master and the blood traitors and the brats destroy it –’

‘I thought it might be that,’ said Sirius, casting a disdainful look at the opposite wall. ‘She’ll have put another Permanent Sticking Charm on the back of it, I don’t doubt, but if I can get rid of it I certainly will. Now go away, Kreacher.’

It seemed that Kreacher did not dare disobey a direct order; nevertheless, the look he gave Sirius as he shuffled out past him was full of deepest loathing and he muttered all the way out of the room.

‘– comes back from Azkaban ordering Kreacher around, oh, my poor mistress, what would she say if she saw the house now, scum living in it, her treasures thrown out, she swore he was no son of hers and he’s back, they say he’s a murderer too –’

‘Keep muttering and I will be a murderer!’ said Sirius irritably as he slammed the door shut on the elf.

‘Sirius, he’s not right in the head,’ Hermione pleaded, ‘I don’t think he realises we can hear him.’

‘He’s been alone too long,’ said Sirius, ‘taking mad orders from my mother’s portrait and talking to himself, but he was always a foul little –’

‘If you could just set him free,’ said Hermione hopefully, ‘maybe –’

‘We can’t set him free, he knows too much about the Order,’ said Sirius curtly. ‘And anyway, the shock would kill him. You suggest to him that he leaves this house, see how he takes it.’


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling