The Knight Bus picks up Harry

Stan Shunpike welcomes Harry aboard the Knight Bus for the first time

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling

Harry stepped backwards. His legs hit his trunk and he tripped. His wand flew out of his hand as he flung out an arm to break his fall, and he landed, hard, in the gutter.

There was a deafening BANG and Harry threw up his hands to shield his eyes against a sudden blinding light …

With a yell, he rolled back onto the pavement, just in time. A second later, a gigantic pair of wheels and headlights had screeched to a halt exactly where Harry had just been lying. They belonged, as Harry saw when he raised his head, to a triple-decker, violently purple bus, which had appeared out of thin air. Gold lettering over the windscreen spelled The Knight Bus.

For a split second, Harry wondered if he had been knocked silly by his fall. Then a conductor in a purple uniform leapt out of the bus and began to speak loudly to the night.

‘Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this eve–’

The conductor stopped abruptly. He had just caught sight of Harry, who was still sitting on the ground. Harry snatched up his wand again and scrambled to his feet. Close to, he saw that Stan Shunpike was only a few years older than he was; eighteen or nineteen at most, with large, protruding ears and a fair few pimples.

‘What were you doin’ down there?’ said Stan, dropping his professional manner.

‘Fell over,’ said Harry.

‘’Choo fall over for?’ sniggered Stan.

‘I didn’t do it on purpose,’ said Harry, annoyed. O“One of the knees in his jeans was torn, and the hand he had thrown out to break his fall was bleeding. He suddenly remembered why he had fallen over, and turned around quickly to stare at the alleyway between the garage and fence. The Knight Bus’s headlamps were flooding it with light, and it was empty.

‘’Choo lookin’ at?’ said Stan.

‘There was a big black thing,’ said Harry, pointing uncertainly into the gap. ‘Like a dog … but massive …’

He looked around at Stan, whose mouth was slightly open. With a feeling of unease, Harry saw Stan’s eyes move to the scar on Harry’s forehead.

‘Woss that on your ’ead?’ said Stan abruptly.

‘Nothing,’ said Harry quickly, flattening his hair over his scar. If the Ministry of Magic was looking for him, he didn’t want to make it too easy for them.

‘Woss your name?’ Stan persisted.

‘Neville Longbottom,’ said Harry, saying the first name that came into his head. ‘So – so this bus,’ he went on quickly, hoping to distract Stan, ‘did you say it goes anywhere?

‘Yep,’ said Stan proudly, ‘anywhere you like, long’s it’s on land. Can’t do nuffink underwater. ’Ere,’ he said, looking suspicious again, ‘you did flag us down, dincha? Stuck out your wand ’and, dincha?’

‘Yes,’ said Harry quickly. ‘Listen, how much would it be to get to London?’

‘Eleven Sickles,’ said Stan, ‘but for firteen you get ’ot chocolate, and for fifteen you get an ’ot-water bottle an’ a toofbrush in the colour of your choice.'

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling