Petunia’s Howler

Petunia receives some unwelcome post

Extract from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling

Harry darted forwards to pick up the letter, but Aunt Petunia beat him to it.

‘You can open it if you like,’ said Harry, ‘but I’ll hear what it says anyway. That’s a Howler.’

‘Let go of it, Petunia!’ roared Uncle Vernon. ‘Don’t touch it, it could be dangerous!’

‘It’s addressed to me,’ said Aunt Petunia in a shaking voice. ‘It’s addressed to me, Vernon, look! Mrs Petunia Dursley, The Kitchen, Number Four, Privet Drive –’

She caught her breath, horrified. The red envelope had begun to smoke.

‘Open it!’ Harry urged her. ‘Get it over with! It’ll happen anyway.’


Aunt Petunia’s hand was trembling. She looked wildly around the kitchen as though looking for an escape route, but too late – the envelope burst into flames. Aunt Petunia screamed and dropped it.

An awful voice filled the kitchen, echoing in the confined space, issuing from the burning letter on the table.

Remember my last, Petunia.

Aunt Petunia looked as though she might faint. She sank into the chair beside Dudley, her face in her hands. The remains of the envelope smouldered into ash in the silence.

‘What is this?’ Uncle Vernon said hoarsely. ‘What – I don’t – Petunia?’

Aunt Petunia said nothing. Dudley was staring stupidly at his mother, his mouth hanging open. The silence spiralled horribly.

Harry was watching his aunt, utterly bewildered, his head throbbing fit to burst.

‘Petunia, dear?’ said Uncle Vernon timidly. ‘P-Petunia?’

She raised her head. She was still trembling. She swallowed.

'The boy – the boy will have to stay, Vernon,’ she said weakly.


‘He stays,’ she said. She was not looking at Harry. She got to her feet again.

‘He … but Petunia …’

‘If we throw him out, the neighbours will talk,’ she said. She was rapidly regaining her usual brisk, snappish manner, though she was still very pale. ‘They’ll ask awkward questions, they’ll want to know where he’s gone. We’ll have to keep him.’

Uncle Vernon was deflating like an old tyre.

‘But Petunia, dear –’

Aunt Petunia ignored him. She turned to Harry.

‘You’re to stay in your room,’ she said. ‘You’re not to leave house. Now get to bed.’

Harry didn’t move.

‘Who was that Howler from?’

‘Don’t ask questions,’ Aunt Petunia snapped.

'Are you in touch with wizards?’

‘I told you to get to bed!’

‘What did it mean? Remember the last what?’

‘Go to bed!’

‘How come –?’


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By J.K. Rowling

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