Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone Read online

Page 4

Chapter 4 The Keeper of the Keys


  BOOM. They knocked again. Dudley jerked awake.

  "Where's the cannon?" he said stupidly.

  There was a crash behind them and Uncle Vernon came skidding into the room. He was holding a rifle in his hands - now they knew what had been in the long, thin package he had brought with them.

  "Who's there?" he shouted. "I warn you -- I'm armed!"

  There was a pause. Then --


  The door was hit with such force that it swung clean off its hinges and with a deafening crash landed flat on the floor.

  A giant of a man was standing in the doorway. His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair.

  The giant squeezed his way into the hut, stooping so that his head just brushed the ceiling. He bent down, picked up the door, and fitted it easily back into its frame. The noise of the storm outside dropped a little. He turned to look at them all.

  "Couldn't make us a cup o' tea, could yeh? It's not been an easy journey. . . "

  He strode over to the sofa where Dudley sat frozen with fear.

  "Budge up, yeh great lump," said the stranger.

  Dudley squeaked and ran to hide behind his mother, who was crouching, terrified, behind Uncle Vernon.

  "An' here's Harry!" said the giant.

  Harry looked up into the fierce, wild, shadowy face and saw that the beetle eyes were crinkled in a smile.

  "Las' time I saw you, you was only a baby," said the giant. "Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh've got yer mom's eyes. "

  Uncle Vernon made a funny rasping noise.

  "I demand that you leave at once, sir!" he said. "You are breaking and entering!"

  "Ah, shut up, Dursley, yeh great prune," said the giant; he reached over the back of the sofa, jerked the gun out of Uncle Vernon's hands, bent it into a knot as easily as if it had been made of rubber, and threw it into a corner of the room.

  Uncle Vernon made another funny noise, like a mouse being trodden on.

  "Anyway -- Harry," said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, "a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here -- I mighta sat on it at some point, but it'll taste all right. "

  From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.

  Harry looked up at the giant. He meant to say thank you, but the words got lost on the way to his mouth, and what he said instead was, "Who are you?"

  The giant chuckled.

  "True, I haven't introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. "

  He held out an enormous hand and shook Harry's whole arm.

  "What about that tea then, eh?" he said, rubbing his hands together. "I'd not say no ter summat stronger if yeh've got it, mind. "

  His eyes fell on the empty grate with the shriveled chip bags in it and he snorted. He bent down over the fireplace; they couldn't see what he was doing but when he drew back a second later, there was a roaring fire there. It filled the whole damp hut with flickering light and Harry felt the warmth wash over him as though he'd sunk into a hot bath.

  The giant sat back down on the sofa, which sagged under his weight, and began taking all sorts of things out of the pockets of his coat: a copper kettle, a squashy package of sausages, a poker, a teapot, several chipped mugs, and a bottle of some amber liquid that he took a swig from before starting to make tea. Soon the hut was full of the sound and smell of sizzling sausage. Nobody said a thing while the giant was working, but as he slid the first six fat, juicy, slightly burnt sausages from the poker, Dudley fidgeted a little. Uncle Vernon said sharply, "Don't touch anything he gives you, Dudley. "

  The giant chuckled darkly.

  "Yer great puddin' of a son don' need fattenin' anymore, Dursley, don' worry. "

  He passed the sausages to Harry, who was so hungry he had never tasted anything so wonderful, but he still couldn't take his eyes off the giant. Finally, as nobody seemed about to explain anything, he said, "I'm sorry, but I still don't really know who you are. "

  The giant took a gulp of tea and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

  "Call me Hagrid," he said, "everyone does. An' like I told yeh, I'm Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts -- yeh'll know all about Hogwarts, o' course.

  "Er -- no," said Harry.

  Hagrid looked shocked.

  "Sorry," Harry said quickly.

  "Sorry ?" barked Hagrid, turning to stare at the Dursleys, who shrank back into the shadows. "It's them as should be sorry! I knew yeh weren't gettin' yer letters but I never thought yeh wouldn't even know abou' Hogwarts, fer cryin' out loud! Did yeh never wonder where yer parents learned it all?"

  "All what?" asked Harry.

  "ALL WHAT?" Hagrid thundered. "Now wait jus' one second!"

  He had leapt to his feet. In his anger he seemed to fill the whole hut. The Dursleys were cowering against the wall.

  "Do you mean ter tell me," he growled at the Dursleys, "that this boy -- this boy! -- knows nothin' abou' -- about ANYTHING?"

  Harry thought this was going a bit far. He had been to school, after all, and his marks weren't bad.

  "I know some things," he said. "I can, you know, do math and stuff. "

  But Hagrid simply waved his hand and said, "About our world, I mean. Your world. My world. Yer parents' world. "

  "What world?"

  Hagrid looked as if he was about to explode.

  "DURSLEY!" he boomed.

  Uncle Vernon, who had gone very pale, whispered something that sounded like "Mimblewimble. " Hagrid stared wildly at Harry.

  "But yeh must know about yer mom and dad," he said. "I mean, they're famous. You're famous. "

  "What? My -- my mom and dad weren't famous, were they?"

  "Yeh don' know. . . yeh don' know. . . " Hagrid ran his fingers through his hair, fixing Harry with a bewildered stare.

  "Yeh don' know what yeh are ?" he said finally.

  Uncle Vernon suddenly found his voice.

  "Stop!" he commanded. "Stop right there, sir! I forbid you to tell the boy anything!"

  A braver man than Vernon Dursley would have quailed under the furious look Hagrid now gave him; when Hagrid spoke, his every syllable trembled with rage.

  "You never told him? Never told him what was in the letter Dumbledore left fer him? I was there! I saw Dumbledore leave it, Dursley! An' you've kept it from him all these years?"

  "Kept what from me?" said Harry eagerly.

  "STOP! I FORBID YOU!" yelled Uncle Vernon in panic.

  Aunt Petunia gave a gasp of horror.

  "Ah, go boil yer heads, both of yeh," said Hagrid. "Harry -- yer a wizard. "

  There was silence inside the hut. Only the sea and the whistling wind could be heard.

  "I'm a what ?" gasped Harry.

  "A wizard, o' course," said Hagrid, sitting back down on the sofa, which groaned and sank even lower, "an' a thumpin' good 'un, I'd say, once yeh've been trained up a bit. With a mum an' dad like yours, what else would yeh be? An' I reckon it's abou' time yeh read yer letter. "

  Harry stretched out his hand at last to take the yellowish envelope, addressed in emerald green to Mr. H. Potter, The Floor, Hut-on-the-Rock, The Sea. He pulled out the letter and read:



  (Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc. , Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)

  Dear Mr. Potter,

  We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.