Harry took the wand and (feeling foolish) waved it around a bit, but Mr. Ollivander
snatched it out of his hand almost at once.
"Maple and phoenix feather. Seven inches. Quite whippy. Try - — "
Harry tried — but he had hardly raised the wand when it, too, was snatched back
by Mr. Ollivander.
"No, no -here, ebony and unicorn hair, eight and a half inches, springy. Go on,
go on, try it out."
Harry tried. And tried. He had no idea what Mr. Ollivander was waiting for. The
pile of tried wands was mounting higher and higher on the spindly chair, but the
more wands Mr. Ollivander pulled from the shelves, the happier he seemed to become.
"Tricky customer, eh? Not to worry, we'll find the perfect match here somewhere
— I wonder, now — yes, why not — unusual combination -- holly and phoenix feather,
eleven inches, nice and supple."
Harry took the wand. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wand
above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red
and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light
on to the walls. Hagrid whooped and clapped and Mr. Ollivander cried, "Oh, bravo!
Yes, indeed, oh, very good. Well, well, well... how curious... how very curious...
He put Harry's wand back into its box and wrapped it in brown paper, still muttering,
"Sorry," said Harry, "but what's curious?"
Mr. Ollivander fixed Harry with his pale stare.
"I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter. Every single wand. It so happens
that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather — just
one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when
its brother why, its brother gave you that scar."
"Yes, thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Curious indeed how these things happen.
The wand chooses the wizard, remember.... I think we must expect great things from
you, Mr. Potter.... After all, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did great things — terrible,
yes, but great."
Harry shivered. He wasn't sure he liked Mr. Ollivander too much. He paid seven
gold Galleons for his wand, and Mr. Ollivander bowed them from his shop.
The late afternoon sun hung low in the sky as Harry and Hagrid made their way
back down Diagon Alley, back through the wall, back through the Leaky Cauldron,
now empty. Harry didn't speak at all as they walked down the road; he didn't even
notice how much people were gawking at them on the Underground, laden as they were
with all their funny-shaped packages, with the snowy owl asleep in its cage on Harry's
lap. Up another escalator, out into Paddington station; Harry only realized where
they were when Hagrid tapped him on the shoulder.
"Got time fer a bite to eat before yer train leaves," he said.
He bought Harry a hamburger and they sat down on plastic seats to eat them. Harry
kept looking around. Everything looked so strange, somehow.
"You all right, Harry? Yer very quiet," said Hagrid.
Harry wasn't sure he could explain. He'd just had the best birthday of his life
— and yet — he chewed his hamburger, trying to find the words.
"Everyone thinks I'm special," he said at last. "All those people in the Leaky
Cauldron, Professor Quirrell, Mr. Ollivander... but I don't know anything about
magic at all. How can they expect great things? I'm famous and I can't even remember
what I'm famous for. I don't know what happened when Vol-, sorry — I mean, the night
my parents died."
Hagrid leaned across the table. Behind the wild beard and eyebrows he wore a
very kind smile.
"Don' you worry, Harry. You'll learn fast enough. Everyone starts at the beginning
at Hogwarts, you'll be just fine. just be yerself. I know it's hard. Yeh've been
singled out, an' that's always hard. But yeh'll have a great time at Hogwarts —
I did — still do, 'smatter of fact."
Hagrid helped Harry on to the train that would take him back to the Dursleys,
then handed him an envelope.
"Yer ticket fer Hogwarts, " he said. "First o' September — King's Cross -- it's
all on yer ticket. Any problems with the Dursleys, send me a letter with yer owl,
she'll know where to find me.... See yeh soon, Harry."
The train pulled out of the station. Harry wanted to watch Hagrid until he was
out of sight; he rose in his seat and pressed his nose against the window, but he
blinked and Hagrid had gone.
THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE-QUARTERS
Harry's last month with the Dursleys wasn't fun. True, Dudley was now so scared
of Harry he wouldn't stay in the same room, while Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon
didn't shut Harry in his cupboard, force him to do anything, or shout at him — in
fact, they didn't speak to him at all. Half terrified, half furious, they acted
as though any chair with Harry in it were empty. Although this was an improvement
in many ways, it did become a bit depressing after a while.
Harry kept to his room, with his new owl for company. He had decided to call
her Hedwig, a name he had found in A History of Magic. His school books were very
interesting. He lay on his bed reading late into the night, Hedwig swooping in and
out of the open window as she pleased. It was lucky that Aunt Petunia didn't come
in to vacuum anymore, because Hedwig kept bringing back dead mice. Every night before
he went to sleep, Harry ticked off another day on the piece of paper he had pinned
to the wall, counting down to September the first.
On the last day of August he thought he'd better speak to his aunt and uncle
about getting to King's Cross station the next day, so he went down to the living
room where they were watching a quiz show on television. He cleared his throat to
let them know he was there, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room.
"Er — Uncle Vernon?"
Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening.
"Er — I need to be at King's Cross tomorrow to — to go to Hogwarts."
Uncle Vernon grunted again.
"Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?"
Grunt. Harry supposed that meant yes.
He was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actually spoke.
"Funny way to get to a wizards' school, the train. Magic carpets all got punctures,
Harry didn't say anything.
"Where is this school, anyway?"
"I don't know," said Harry, realizing this for the first time. He pulled the
ticket Hagrid had given him out of his pocket.
"I just take the train from platform nine and three-quarters at eleven o'clock,"
His aunt and uncle stared.
"Nine and three-quarters."
"Don't talk rubbish," said Uncle Vernon. "There is no platform nine and three-quarters."
"It's on my ticket."
"Barking," said Uncle Vernon, "howling mad, the lot of them. You'll see. You
just wait. All right, we'll take you to King's Cross. We're going up to London tomorrow
anyway, or I wouldn't bother."
"Why are you going to London?" Harry asked, trying to keep things friendly.
"Taking Dudley to the hospital," growled Uncle Vernon. "Got to have that ruddy
tail removed before he goes to Smeltings."
Harry woke at five o'clock the next morning and was too excited and nervous to
go back to sleep. He got up and pulled on his jeans because he didn't want to walk
into the station in his wizard's robes — he'd change on the train. He checked his
Hogwarts list yet again to make sure he had everything he needed, saw that Hedwig
was shut safely in her cage, and then paced the room, waiting for the Dursleys to
get up. Two hours later, Harry's huge, heavy trunk had been loaded into the Dursleys'
car, Aunt Petunia had talked Dudley into sitting next to Harry, and they had set
They reached King's Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernon dumped Harry's trunk
onto a cart and wheeled it into the station for him. Harry thought this was strangely
kind until Uncle Vernon stopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on
"Well, there you are, boy. Platform nine — platform ten. Your platform should
be somewhere in the middle, but they don't seem to have built it yet, do they?"
He was quite right, of course. There was a big plastic number nine over one platform
and a big plastic number ten over the one next to it, and in the middle, nothing
"Have a good term," said Uncle Vernon with an even nastier smile. He left without
another word. Harry turned and saw the Dursleys drive away. All three of them were
laughing. Harry's mouth went rather dry. What on earth was he going to do? He was
starting to attract a lot of funny looks, because of Hedwig. He'd have to ask someone.
He stopped a passing guard, but didn't dare mention platform nine and three-quarters.
The guard had never heard of Hogwarts and when Harry couldn't even tell him what
part of the country it was in, he started to get annoyed, as though Harry was being
stupid on purpose. Getting desperate, Harry asked for the train that left at eleven
o'clock, but the guard said there wasn't one. In the end the guard strode away,
muttering about time wasters. Harry was now trying hard not to panic. According
to the large clock over the arrivals board, he had ten minutes left to get on the
train to Hogwarts and he had no idea how to do it; he was stranded in the middle
of a station with a trunk he could hardly lift, a pocket full of wizard money, and
a large owl.
Hagrid must have forgotten to tell him something you had to do, like tapping
the third brick on the left to get into Diagon Alley. He wondered if he should get
out his wand and start tapping the ticket inspector's stand between platforms nine
At that moment a group of people passed just behind him and he caught a few words
of what they were saying.
"-- packed with Muggles, of course - — "
Harry swung round. The speaker was a plump woman who was talking to four boys,
all with flaming red hair. Each of them was pushing a trunk like Harry's in front
of him — and they had an owl.
Heart hammering, Harry pushed his cart after them. They stopped and so did he,
just near enough to hear what they were saying.
"Now, what's the platform number?" said the boys' mother.
"Nine and three-quarters!" piped a small girl, also red-headed, who was holding
her hand, "Mom, can't I go... "
"You're not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy, you go first."
What looked like the oldest boy marched toward platforms nine and ten. Harry
watched, careful not to blink in case he missed it — but just as the boy reached
the dividing barrier between the two platforms, a large crowd of tourists came swarming
in front of him and by the time the last backpack had cleared away, the boy had
"Fred, you next," the plump woman said.
"I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the boy. "Honestly, woman, you call yourself
our mother? CarA you tell I'm George?"
"Sorry, George, dear."
"Only joking, I am Fred," said the boy, and off he went. His twin called after
him to hurry up, and he must have done so, because a second later, he had gone —
but how had he done it?
Now the third brother was walking briskly toward the barrier he was almost there
— and then, quite suddenly, he wasn't anywhere.
There was nothing else for it.
"Excuse me," Harry said to the plump woman.
"Hello, dear," she said. "First time at Hogwarts? Ron's new, too."
She pointed at the last and youngest of her sons. He was tall, thin, and gangling,
with freckles, big hands and feet, and a long nose.
"Yes," said Harry. "The thing is — the thing is, I don't know how to - — "
"How to get onto the platform?" she said kindly, and Harry nodded.
"Not to worry," she said. "All you have to do is walk straight at the barrier
between platforms nine and ten. Don't stop and don't be scared you'll crash into
it, that's very important. Best do it at a bit of a run if you're nervous. Go on,
go now before Ron."
"Er — okay," said Harry.
He pushed his trolley around and stared at the barrier. It looked very solid.
He started to walk toward it. People jostled him on their way to platforms nine
and ten. Harry walked more quickly. He was going to smash right into that barrier
and then he'd be in trouble — leaning forward on his cart, he broke into a heavy
run — the barrier was coming nearer and nearer — he wouldn't be able to stop — the
cart was out of control -- he was a foot away — he closed his eyes ready for the
It didn't come... he kept on running... he opened his eyes. A scarlet steam engine
was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts
Express, eleven O'clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway
where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it,
He had done it.
Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats
of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another
in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and the scraping of heavy trunks.
The first few carriages were already packed with students, some hanging out of
the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats. Harry pushed his
cart off down the platform in search of an empty seat. He passed a round-faced boy
who was saying, "Gran, I've lost my toad again."
"Oh, Neville," he heard the old woman sigh.