The Potters’ memorial

Harry and Hermione make a discovery

Extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

by J.K. Rowling

They were to Apparate to the village under cover of darkness, so it was late afternoon when they finally swallowed Polyjuice Potion, Harry transforming into a balding, middle-aged Muggle man, Hermione into his small and rather mousy wife. The beaded bag containing all of their possessions (apart from the Horcrux, which Harry was wearing around his neck) was tucked into an inside pocket of Hermione’s buttoned-up coat. Harry lowered the Invisibility Cloak over them, then they turned into the suffocating darkness once again.

Heart beating in his throat, Harry opened his eyes. They were standing hand in hand in a snowy lane under a dark blue sky in which the night’s first stars were already glimmering feebly. Cottages stood on either side of the narrow road, Christmas decorations twinkling in their windows. A short way ahead of them, a glow of golden streetlights indicated the centre of the village.

‘All this snow!’ Hermione whispered beneath the Cloak. ‘Why didn’t we think of snow? After all our precautions, we’ll leave prints! We’ll just have to get rid of them – you go in front, I’ll do it –’

Harry did not want to enter the village like a pantomime horse, trying to keep themselves concealed while magically covering their traces.

‘Let’s take off the Cloak,’ said Harry, and when she looked frightened, ‘oh, come on, we don’t look like us and there’s no one around.’

He stowed the Cloak under his jacket and they made their way forwards unhampered, the icy air stinging their faces as they passed more cottages: any one of them might have been the one in which James and Lily had once lived, or where Bathilda lived now. Harry gazed at the front doors, their snow-burdened roofs and their front porches, wondering whether he remembered any of them, knowing deep inside that it was impossible, that he had been little over a year old when he had left this place forever. He was not even sure whether he would be able to see the cottage at all; he did not know what happened when the subjects of a Fidelius Charm died. Then the little lane along which they were walking curved to the left and the heart of the village, a small square, was revealed to them.

Strung all around with coloured lights, there was what looked like a war memorial in the middle, partly obscured by a windblown Christmas tree. There were several shops, a post office, a pub and a little church whose stained-glass windows were glowing jewel bright across the square.

The snow here had become impacted: it was hard and slippery where people had trodden on it all day. Villagers were criss-crossing in front of them, their figures briefly illuminated by street lamps. They heard a snatch of laughter and pop music as the pub door opened and closed; then they heard a carol start up inside the little church.

‘Harry, I think it’s Christmas Eve!’ said Hermione.

‘Is it?’

He had lost track of the date; they had not seen a newspaper for weeks.

‘I’m sure it is,’ said Hermione, her eyes upon the church.

‘They ... they’ll be in there, won’t they? Your mum and dad? I can see the graveyard behind it.’

Harry felt a thrill of something that was beyond excitement, more like fear. Now that he was so near, he wondered whether he wanted to see, after all. Perhaps Hermione knew how he was feeling, because she reached for his hand and took the lead for the first time, pulling him forwards. Halfway across the square, however, she stopped dead.

‘Harry, look!’

She was pointing at the war memorial. As they had passed it, it had transformed. Instead of an obelisk covered in names, there was a statue of three people: a man with untidy hair and glasses, a woman with long hair and a kind, pretty face, and a baby boy sitting in his mother’s arms. Snow lay upon all their heads, like fluffy, white caps.

Harry drew closer, gazing up into his parents’ faces. He had never imagined that there would be a statue ... how strange it was to see himself represented in stone, a happy baby without a scar on his forehead ...

‘C’mon,’ said Harry, when he had looked his fill, and they turned again towards the church. As they crossed the road, he glanced over his shoulder; the statue had turned back into the war memorial.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling