Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Chapter Two : The Vanishing Glass
Yet Harry Potter was still there, asleep at
the moment, but not for long. His Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her
shrill voice that made the first noise of the day.
"Up! Get up! Now!"
Harry woke with a start. His aunt rapped on
the door again. "Up!" she screeched. Harry heard her walking toward
the kitchen and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the stove. He
rolled onto his back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had
been a good one. There had been a flying motorcycle in it. He had a funny
feeling he'd had the same dream before. His aunt was back outside the door.
"Are you up yet?" she demanded.
"Nearly," said Harry.
"Well, get a move on, I want you to look after
the bacon. And don't you dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Dudley's
"What did you say?" his aunt snapped through the
"Nothing, nothing . . ."
Dudley's birthday - how could he have forgotten? Harry got
slowly out of bed and started looking for socks. He found a pair under his bed
and, after pulling a spider off one of them, put them on. Harry was used to
spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and that was
where he slept.
When he was dressed he went down the hall
into the kitchen. The table was almost hidden beneath all Dudley's birthday
presents. It looked as though Dudley had gotten the new computer he wanted, not
to mention the second television and the racing bike. Exactly why Dudley wanted
a racing bike was a mystery to Harry, as Dudley was very fat and hated exercise
- unless of course it involved punching somebody. Dudley's favorite punching bag
was Harry, but he couldn't often catch him. Harry didn't look it, but he was
Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark
cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. He looked even
smaller and skinnier than he really was because all he had to wear were old
clothes of Dudley's, and Dudley was about four times bigger than he was. Harry
had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes. He wore round
glasses held together with a lot of
Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. The
only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his
forehead that was shaped like a bolt of lightning.
He had had it as long as he could remember, and the first question he could ever
remember asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had gotten it.
"In the car crash when your parents died," she
had said. "And don't ask questions."
Don't ask questions - that was the first rule for a quiet
life with the Dursleys. Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning
over the bacon.
"Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning
About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over the top of his
Codex Alerapaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut. Harry must have had more
haircuts than the rest of the boys in his class put together,
but it made no difference, his hair simply grew that way - all over the place.
Harry was frying eggs by the time Dudley arrived in the
kitchen with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large
pink face, not much neck, small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay
smoothly on his thick, fat head. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like
a baby angel - Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig.
Harry put the plates of egg and bacon on the table, which
was difficult as there wasn't much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his
presents. His face fell.
"Thirty-six," he said, looking up at his mother
and father. "That's two less than last year."
"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present,
see, it's here under this big one from Mommy and Daddy."
"All right, thirty-seven then," said Dudley,
going red in the face.
Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on,
began wolfing down his bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned the table
Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger, too, because
she said quickly, "And we'll buy you another two presents while we're out
today. How's that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right?"
Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work.
Finally he said slowly, "So I'll have thirty . . .thirty . . ."
"Thirty-nine, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia.
"Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed
the nearest parcel. "All right then."
Uncle Vernon chuckled.
"Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like his
father. 'Atta boy, Dudley!" He ruffled Dudley's hair.
At that moment the telephone rang and Aunt Petunia went to
answer it while Harry and Uncle Vernon watched Dudley unwrap the racing bike, a
video camera, a remote control airplane, sixteen new computer games, and a VCR.
He was ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch when Aunt Petunia came back from
the telephone looking both angry and worried.
"Bad Codex Alera, Vernon," she said. "Mrs. Figg's
broken her leg. She can't take him." She jerked her head in Harry's
Dudley's mouth fell open in horror, but Harry's heart gave
a leap. Every year on Dudley's birthday, his parents took him and a friend out
for the day, to adventure parks, hamburger restaurants, or the movies.
Every year, Harry was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two
streets away. Harry hated it there. The whole house smelled of cabbage and Mrs.
Figg made him look at photographs of all the cats she'd ever owned.
"Now what?" said Aunt Petunia, looking furiously
at Harry as though he'd planned this.
Harry knew he ought to feel sorry that Mrs. Figg had
broken her leg, but it wasn't easy when he reminded himself it would be a whole
year before he had to look at Tibbles, Snowy, Mr. Paws, and Tufty again.
"We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggested.
"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy."
The Dursleys often spoke about Harry like this, as though
he wasn't there - or rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn't
understand them, like a slug.
"What about what's-her-name, your friend -
"On vacation in Majorca," snapped Aunt Petunia.
"You could just leave me here," Harry put in
hopefully (he'd be able to watch what he wanted on television for a change and
maybe even have a go on Dudley's computer).
Aunt Petunia looked as though she'd just swallowed a
"And come back and find the house in ruins?" she
"I won't blow up the house," said Harry,
but they weren't listening.
"I suppose we could take him to the zoo,"
said Aunt Petunia slowly, ". . . and leave him in the car. . . ."
"That car's new, he's not sitting in it alone.
. . ."
Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn't
really crying - it had been years since he'd really cried - but he knew that if
he screwed up his face and wailed, his mother would give him anything he wanted.
"Dinky Duddydums, don't cry, Mummy won't let him
spoil your special day!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.
"I . . . don't . . . want . . . him . . . t-t-to
come!" Dudley yelled between huge, pretend sobs. "He always sp-spoils
everything!" He shot Harry a nasty grin through the gap in his mother's
Just then, the doorbell rang - "Oh, good Lord,
they're here!" said Aunt Petunia frantically - and a moment later, Dudley's
best friend, Piers Polkiss, walked in with his mother. Piers was a scrawny boy
with a face like a rat. He was usually the one who held people's arms behind
their backs while Dudley hit them. Dudley stopped pretending to cry at once.
Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn't believe his luck,
was sitting in the back of the Dursleys' car with Piers and Dudley, on the way
to the zoo for the first time in his life. His aunt and uncle hadn't been able
to think of anything else to do with him, but before they'd left, Uncle Vernon
had taken Harry aside.
"I'm warning you," he had said, putting his
large purple face right up close to Harry's,
"I'm warning you now, boy - any funny business,
anything at all - and you'll be in that cupboard from now until Christmas."
"I'm not going to do anything," said Harry,
"honestly . . ."
But Uncle Vernon didn't believe him. No one ever did.
The problem was, strange things often happened around
Harry and it was just no good telling the Dursleys he didn't make them happen.
Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the
barbers looking as though he hadn't been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen
scissors and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his bangs,
which she left "to hide that horrible scar." Dudley had laughed
himself silly at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next
day, where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and
taped glasses. Next morning, however, he had gotten up to find his hair exactly
as it had been beforeAunt Petunia had sheared it off. He had been given a week
in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he couldn't
explain how it had grown back so quickly.
Another time, Aunt Petunia had been trying to force him
into a revolting old sweater of Dudley's (brown with orange puff balls). The
harder she tried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed to become,
until finally it might have fitted a hand puppet, but certainly wouldn't fit
Harry. Aunt Petunia had decided it must have shrunk in the wash and, to his
great relief, Harry wasn't punished.
On the other hand, he'd gotten into terrible trouble for
being found on the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley's gang had been chasing
him as usual when, as much to Harry's surprise as anyone else's, there he was
sitting on the chimney. The Dursleys had received a very angry letter from
Harry's headmistress telling them Harry had been climbing school buildings. But
all he'd tried to do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon through the locked door of
his cupboard) was jump behind the big trash cans outside the kitchen doors.
Harry supposed that the wind must have caught him in mid-jump.
But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even
worth being with Dudley and Piers to be spending the day somewhere that wasn't
school, his cupboard, or Mrs. Figg's cabbage-smelling living room.
While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt
Petunia. He liked to complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council,
Harry, the bank, and Harry were just a few of his favorite subjects. This
morning, it was motorcycles.
". . . roaring along like maniacs, the young
hoodlums," he said, as a motorcycle overtook them.
"I had a dream about a motorcycle," said
Harry, remembering suddenly. "It was flying."
Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He
turned right around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic
beet with a mustache: "MOTORCYCLES DON'T FLY!"
Dudley and Piers sniggered.
"I know they don't," said Harry. "It was
only a dream."
But he wished he hadn't said anything. If there was one
thing the Dursleys hated even more than his asking questions, it was his talking
about anything acting in a way it shouldn't, no matter if it was in a
dream or even a cartoon - they seemed to think he might get dangerous ideas.
It was a very sunny Saturday and the zoo was crowded with
families. The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the
entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked
Harry what he wanted before they could hurry him away, they bought him a cheap
lemon ice pop. It wasn't bad, either, Harry thought, licking it as they watched
a gorilla scratching its head who looked remarkably like Dudley, except that it
Harry had the best morning he'd had in a long time. He was
careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley and Piers,
who were starting to get bored with the animals by lunchtime, wouldn't fall back
on their favorite hobby of hitting him.
They ate in the zoo restaurant, and when Dudley had
a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory didn't have enough ice cream on top,
Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first.
Harry felt, afterward, that he should have known it was
all too good to last.
After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool
and dark in there, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all
sorts of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits of wood and
stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick,
man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the place. It
could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon's car and crushed it into
a trash can - but at the moment it didn't look in the mood. In fact, it was fast
Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass,
staring at the glistening brown coils.
"Make it move," he whined at his father. Uncle
Vernon tapped on the glass, but the snake didn't budge.
"Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon
rapped the glass smartly with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.
"This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled
Harry moved in front of the tank and looked intently at
the snake. He wouldn't have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself - no
company except stupid people drumming their fingers on the glass trying to
disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard as a bedroom, where
the only visitor was Aunt Petunia hammering on the door to wake you up; at least
he got to visit the rest of the house.
The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very
slowly, it raised its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry's.
Harry stared. Then he looked quickly around to see if
anyone was watching. They weren't. He looked back at the snake and winked, too.
The snake jerked its head toward Uncle Vernon and Dudley,
then raised its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look that said quite
"I get that all the time."
"I know," Harry murmured through the glass,
though he wasn't sure the snake could hear him. "It must be really
annoying." The snake nodded vigorously.
"Where do you come from, anyway?" Harry asked.
The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the
glass. Harry peered at it. Boa Constrictor, Brazil.
"Was it nice there?"
The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign
again and Harry read on: This specimen was bred in the zoo. "Oh, I see - so
you've never been to Brazil?"
As the snake shook its head, a deafening shout behind
Harry made both of them jump.
"DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE!
YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT IT'S DOING!"
Dudley came waddling toward them as fast as he could.
"Out of the way, you," he said, punching Harry
in the ribs.
Caught by surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor.
What came next happened so fast no one saw how it happened - one second, Piers
and Dudley were leaning right up close to the glass, the next, they had leapt
back with howls of horror.
Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa
constrictor's tank had vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly,
slithering out onto the floor. People throughout the reptile house screamed and
started running for the exits.
As the snake slid swiftly past him, Harry could have sworn
a low, hissing voice said, "Brazil, here I come. . . . Thanksss,
The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.
"But the glass," he kept saying, "where did
the glass go?"
The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of
strong, sweet tea while he apologized over and over again. Piers and Dudley
could only gibber.
As far as Harry had seen, the snake hadn't done anything
except snap playfully at their heels as it passed, but by the time they were all
back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was telling them how it had nearly bitten off
his leg, while Piers was swearing it had tried to squeeze him to death. But
worst of all, for Harry at least, was Piers calming down enough to say,
"Harry was talking to it, weren't you, Harry?"
Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the
house before starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He
managed to say,
"Go - cupboard - stay - no meals,"
before he collapsed into a chair, and Aunt Petunia had to
run and get him a large brandy.
Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had
a watch. He didn't know what time it was and he couldn't be sure the Dursleys
were asleep yet. Until they were, he couldn't risk sneaking to the kitchen for
He'd lived with the Dursleys almost ten years, ten
miserable years, as long as he could remember, eversince he'd been a baby and
his parents had died in that car crash. He couldn't remember being in the car
when his parents had died. Sometimes, when he strained his memory during long
hours in his cupboard, he came up with a strange vision: a blinding flash of
green light and a burning pain on his forehead. This, he supposed, was the
crash, though he couldn't imagine where all the green light came from. He
couldn't remember his parents at all. His aunt and uncle never spoke about them,
and of course he was forbidden to ask questions. There were no photographs of
them in the house.
When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed of
some unknown relation coming to take him away, but it had never happened; the
Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes he thought (or
maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed to know him. Very strange
strangers they were, too. A tiny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once
while out shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley.
After asking Harry furiously if he knew the man, Aunt Petunia had rushed them
out of the shop without buying anything. A wild-looking old woman dressed all in
green had waved merrily at him once on a bus.
A bald man in a very long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street
the other day and then walked away without a word. The weirdest thing about all
these people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a
At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley's
gang hated that odd Harry Potter in his baggy old clothes and broken glasses,
and nobody liked to disagree with Dudley's gang.
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