Tea and crumpets

Harry meets Cornelius Fudge officially for the first time

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling

‘There you are, Harry,’ said a voice.

Before Harry could turn, he felt a hand on his shoulder. At the same time, Stan shouted, ‘Blimey! Ern, come ’ere! Come ’ere!’

Harry looked up at the owner of the hand on his shoulder and felt a bucketful of ice cascade into his stomach – he had walked right into Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic himself.

Stan leapt onto the pavement beside them.

‘What didja call Neville, Minister?’ he said excitedly.

Fudge, a portly little man in a long, pinstriped cloak, looked cold and exhausted.

‘Neville?’ he repeated, frowning. ‘This is Harry Potter.’

‘I knew it!’ Stan shouted gleefully. ‘Ern! Ern! Guess ’oo Neville is, Ern! ’E’s ’Arry Potter! I can see ’is scar!’

‘Yes,’ said Fudge testily. ‘Well, I’m very glad the Knight Bus picked Harry up, but he and I need to step inside the Leaky Cauldron now ...’

Fudge increased the pressure on Harry’s shoulder, and Harry found himself being steered inside the pub. A stooping figure bearing a lantern appeared through the door behind the bar. It was Tom, the wizened, toothless landlord.

‘You’ve got him, Minister!’ said Tom. ‘Will you be wanting anything? Beer? Brandy?’

‘Perhaps a pot of tea,’ said Fudge, who still hadn’t let go of Harry.

There was a loud scraping and puffing from behind them, and Stan and Ern appeared, carrying Harry’s trunk and Hedwig’s cage and looking around excitedly.

‘’Ow come you di’n’t tell us ’oo you are, eh, Neville?’ said Stan, beaming at Harry, while Ernie’s owlish face peered interestedly over Stan’s shoulder.

‘And a private parlour, please, Tom,’ said Fudge pointedly.

‘Bye,’ Harry said miserably to Stan and Ern, as Tom beckoned Fudge towards the passage that led from the bar.

‘Bye, Neville!’ called Stan.

Fudge marched Harry along the narrow passage after Tom’s lantern, and then into a small parlour. Tom clicked his fingers, a fire burst into life in the grate, and he bowed himself out of the room.

‘Sit down, Harry,’ said Fudge, indicating a chair by the fire.

Harry sat down, feeling goosebumps rising up his arms despite the glow of the fire. Fudge took off his pinstriped cloak and tossed it aside, then hitched up the trousers of his bottle-green suit and sat down opposite Harry.

‘I am Cornelius Fudge, Harry. The Minister for Magic.’

Harry already knew this, of course; he had seen Fudge once before, but as he had been wearing his father’s Invisibility Cloak at the time, Fudge wasn’t to know that.

Tom the innkeeper reappeared, wearing an apron over his nightshirt and bearing a tray of tea and crumpets. He placed the tray on a table between Fudge and Harry, and left the parlour, closing the door behind him.

‘Well, Harry,’ said Fudge, pouring out tea, ‘you’ve had us all in a right flap, I don’t mind telling you. Running away from your aunt and uncle’s house like that! I’d started to think ... but you’re safe, and that’s what matters.’

Fudge buttered himself a crumpet and pushed the plate towards Harry.

‘Eat, Harry, you look dead on your feet. Now then ... You will be pleased to hear that we have dealt with the unfortunate blowing-up of Miss Marjorie Dursley. Two members of the Accidental Magic Reversal Department were dispatched to Privet Drive a few hours ago. Miss Dursley has been punctured and her memory has been modified. She has no recollection of the incident at all. So that’s that, and no harm done.’

Fudge smiled at Harry over the rim of his teacup, rather like an uncle surveying a favourite nephew. Harry, who couldn’t believe his ears, opened his mouth to speak, couldn’t think of anything to say, and closed it again.

‘Ah, you’re worrying about the reaction of your aunt and uncle?’ said Fudge. ‘Well, I won’t deny that they are extremely angry, Harry, but they are prepared to take you back next summer as long as you stay at Hogwarts for the Christmas and Easter holidays.’

Harry unstuck his throat.

‘I always stay at Hogwarts for the Christmas and Easter holidays,’ he said, ‘and I don’t ever want to go back to Privet Drive.’

‘Now, now, I’m sure you’ll feel differently once you’ve calmed down,’ said Fudge in a worried tone. ‘They are your family, after all, and I’m sure you are fond of each other – er – very deep down.’

It didn’t occur to Harry to put Fudge right. He was still waiting to hear what was going to happen to him now.

‘So all that remains,’ said Fudge, now buttering himself a second crumpet, ‘is to decide where you’re going to spend the last two weeks of your holidays. I suggest you take a room here at the Leaky Cauldron and –’

‘Hang on,’ blurted Harry, ‘what about my punishment?’

Fudge blinked.

‘Punishment?’

‘I broke the law!’ Harry said. ‘The Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry!’

‘Oh, my dear boy, we’re not going to punish you for a little thing like that!’ cried Fudge, waving his crumpet impatiently. ‘It was an accident! We don’t send people to Azkaban just for blowing up their aunts!’

But this didn’t tally at all with Harry’s past dealings with the Ministry of Magic.

‘Last year, I got an official warning just because a house-elf smashed a pudding in my uncle’s house!’ said Harry, frowning. ‘The Ministry of Magic said I’d be expelled from Hogwarts if there was any more magic there!’

Unless Harry’s eyes were deceiving him, Fudge was suddenly looking awkward.

‘Circumstances change, Harry ... we have to take into account ... in the present climate ... surely you don’t want to be expelled?’

‘Of course I don’t,’ said Harry.

‘Well then, what’s all the fuss about?’ laughed Fudge airily. ‘Now, have a crumpet, Harry, while I go and see if Tom’s got a room for you.’


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling