“Athena’s up to something.” Grover muttered ominously.
Annabeth hit him in the back of the head though she too was wondering what the owl was about.
At half past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek, and tried to kiss Dudley good-bye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls.
“Brat.” This was going to became a regular thing.
chortled Mr. Dursley as he left the house. He got into his car and backed out of number four's drive.
It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar — a cat reading a map.
“A cat reading a map?” Nico asked.
“When Greek Gods exist nothing’s impossible.” Rachel replied. They nodded their heads pondering this.
For a second, Mr. Dursley didn't realize what he had seen — then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn't a map in sight.
“What happened to it?”
“We don’t know what happened yet.” Percy replied to Tyson.
What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light. Mr. Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back. As Mr. Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive — no, looking at the sign; cats couldn't read maps or signs.
“Cats, are smart. It could very well be reading a map and a sign.” Rachel said. No one bothered to argue with her. Thalia’s lip twitched a little though as though she wanted too.
Mr. Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind. As he drove toward town he thought of nothing except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day.
“BORING!” Nico sang.
“NICO! SHUT UP!” Thalia screamed.
“DON’T. YELL. IN. MY. EAR!” Rachel flinched from Thalia’s voice.
“SORRY!” She scream back into her ear.
“Don’t. Do. That. Again.” Rachel growled. It was scary how one moment her voice was happy and joking and the next it was creepy and dangerous. Thalia sneered but continued.
But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he couldn't help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely dressed people about. People in cloaks.
“I have a cloak! I wear it all the time! It’s hot pink and has orange sparkles on it.” Rachel said back to her old self.
"Mind if I borrow it?" Travis asked.
"Why do you need one?" Clarrisse asked speaking for the first time.
"Everyone should have a hot pink sparkly orange cloak. It's a nessiecity." Connor nodded. They all rolled their eyes.
Mr. Dursley couldn't bear people who dressed in funny clothes — the getups you saw on young people! He supposed this was some stupid new fashion. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of these weirdoes standing quite close by. They were whispering excitedly together.
Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of them weren't young at all; why, that man had to be older than he was, and wearing an emerald-green cloak! The nerve of him! But then it struck Mr. Dursley that this was probably some silly stunt —these people were obviously collecting for something… yes, that would be it.
The traffic moved on and a few minutes later, Mr. Dursley arrived in the Grunnings parking lot, his mind back on drills.
“Is that all he thinks about?” Grover asked stunned.
“I always think about pink and purple hippos square dancing.” Nico announced.
Percy and Grover said. They grinned at each other.
Mr. Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth floor. If he hadn't, he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning. He didn't see the owls swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in the street did; they pointed and gazed open-mouthed as owl after owl sped overhead.
“Owls aren’t that rare.”
“Says the daughter of Athena.”
“Says the satyr.”
Most of them had never seen an owl even at nighttime. Mr. Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morning. He yelled at five different people. He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit more.
“I’m going to go out on a limb and say he likes to yell.” Travis said.
“Seems like it.” Tyson nodded.
He was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he thought he'd stretch his legs and walk across the road to buy himself a bun from the bakery.
“Makes no sense to exercise if he’s going to gain it back in the same hour.”
“He’s making me want to eat healthy.”
“NO!!!!!!!!!! PERCY NO!!!!!!!! DON’T GO TO THE DARK SIDE!!!!!!!!!” Nico screamed as he threw himself at Percy. They fell to the floor and Nico started rolling around while Percy struggled in his grip. Travis and Connor started cheering them on.
“GET OFF OF ME!”
“NICO STOP ACTING LIKE A FREAK!”
“I’M A FREAK? YOU’RE THE ONE WHO WANTS TO EAR HEALTHY!”
“FINE! IF I PROMISE TO EAT A GALLON IF ICE CREAM WILL YOU GET OFF?”
“ONLY IF YOU SHARE!”
“Yay!” Nico said happily. He jumped off Percy and ‘skipped’ pack to his seat.
They all shook their heads at his weirdness and motioned for Thals to continue.
He'd forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he passed a group of them next to the baker's. He eyed them angrily as he passed. He didn't know why, but they made him uneasy.
“That’s because they’re cool and he’s boring.” Connor proclaimed.
This bunch were whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn't see a single collecting tin. It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying.
"The Potters, that's right, that's what I heard —"
" — yes, their son, Harry —"
They exchanged uneasy glances.
Mr. Dursley stopped dead.
“Yay! Bad, fat man is dead!” Tyson cheered.
“It’s just an expression Tyson.” Percy explained as the rest of the group chortled.
Fear flooded him. He looked back at the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it.
He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone, and had almost finished dialing his home number when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his mustache, thinking… no, he was being stupid.
“That’s the understatement of the century.” The twins said together.
Potter wasn't such an unusual name. He was sure there were lots of people called Potter who had a son called Harry. Come to think of it, he wasn't even sure his nephew was called Harry.
“Not knowing the name of your own nephew! That’s just wrong!” All the demigods called out in unison. Their experience in the war taught the gods a lesson about claiming their children. So far they had been much better parents to their children.
He'd never even seen the boy. It might have been Harvey. Or Harold.
“Those are horrible names.”
“Says the person named ‘Percy’.”
“Says the person named ‘Grover’.”
There was no point in worrying Mrs. Dursley; she always got so upset at any mention of her sister. He didn't blame her — if he'd had a sister like that… but all the same, those people in cloaks…
“It is rather odd, if you think about it.”
“Don’t think about it.”
“That’s your advice for everything Percy.”
He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that afternoon and when he left the building at five o'clock, he was still so worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door.
“And he didn’t crush him?”
"Sorry," he grunted, as the tiny old man stumbled and almost fell. It was a few seconds before Mr. Dursley realized that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn't seem at all upset at being almost knocked to the ground.
“How? He just got knocked over by someone the size of the whale.”
On the contrary, his face split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passersby stare, "Don't be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last!
“Who’s You-Know-Who? I certainly don’t know any You-Know-Who. Do you?” Nico asked confusing everybody.
Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!"
“What’s a Muggle?” All heads turned to Annabeth who shrugged.
“ANNABETH DOESN’T KNOW SOMETHING!!!!! THE UNDERWORLD HAS FROZEN OVER!!!!” Nico screamed running around in circles.
Thalia stood up and grabbed him around the ankles so that he fell. She shocked him with her crazy lightning powers and he shut up.
And the old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle
“His arms fit?” Travis said incredulesly.
and walked off.
Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a complete stranger.
“Not that weird.”
“You live in New York. And you’re Rachel.” Percy said.
“You have a point?”
He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was.
“He’s making me feel dumb.” Annabeth pouted. He was rattled.
“I hope he gets a headache.”
He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn't approve of imagination.
“How can you not APPROVE OF IMAGINATION!?” Everyone roared.
As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw—and it didn't improve his mood — was the tabby cat he'd spotted that morning.
“Cats are amazing creatures!” Grover yelled.
It was now sitting on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes.
Annabeth frowned. It kept gently hinting at the markings around the eyes.
"Shoo!" said Mr. Dursley loudly.
The cat didn't move. It just gave him a stern look.
“I like this cat.” Travis declared.
Was this normal cat behavior? Mr. Dursley wondered.
Trying to pull himself together, he let himself into the house. He was still determined not to mention anything to his wife.
Mrs. Dursley had had a nice, normal day.
She told him over dinner all about Mrs. Next Door's problems with her daughter
“She shouldn’t snoop.” and how Dudley had learned a new word ("Won't!").
Mr. Dursley tried to act normally. When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news:
"And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nation's owls have been behaving very unusually today.
“Athena’s up to something.” Grover sang again.
Although owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight, there have been hundreds of sightings of these birds flying in every direction since sunrise.
“That’s is odd.” Annabeth shook her head.
Experts are unable to explain why the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern." The newscaster allowed himself a grin. “
Well, as long he gets to grin then everything’s okay.”
Most mysterious. And now, over to Jim McGuffin with the weather. Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?"
"Well, Ted," said the weatherman, "I don't know about that, but it's not only the owls that have been acting oddly today. Viewers as far apart as Kent, Yorkshire, and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they've had a downpour of shooting stars!
“Shooting stars too? This is much too weird.”
Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early — it's not until next week, folks! But I can promise a wet night tonight."
“You couldn’t last night.”
Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters…
“If this idiot can put the pieces together then we’re in trouble.”
Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups of tea.
“Tea is good!”
“No, it’s gross brown water.”
“Have you ever been to Argo Tea?”
“You have to!”
“An, Iced Pom Tea or a Hibiscus Tea Sangria(it doesn’t have alcohol so don’t worry!) Is the best!” It’s soooooo yummy!” Rachel squealed to Percy.
It was no good. He'd have to say something to her. He cleared his throat nervously. "Er — Petunia, dear — you haven't heard from your sister lately, have you?"
As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry.
They all sighed. Family was important.
After all, they normally pretended she didn't have a sister.
"No," she said sharply. "Why?"
"Funny stuff on the news," Mr. Dursley mumbled. "Owls… shooting stars… and there were a lot of funny-looking people in town today…"
"So?" snapped Mrs. Dursley.
“She sounds lovely!”
"Well, I just thought… maybe… it was something to do with… you know… her crowd."
“Who’s her crowd?” Grover asked. They all shrugged.
Mrs. Dursley sipped her tea
through pursed lips. Mr. Dursley wondered whether he dared tell her he'd heard the name "Potter." He decided he didn't dare. Instead he said, as casually as he could, "Their son — he'd be about Dudley's age now, wouldn't he?"
"I suppose so," said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.
"What's his name again? Howard, isn't it?"
"Harry. Nasty, common name, if you ask me."
“Their ones to talk! They named their kid ‘Dudley Dursley’!” Clarrisse said shaking her head.
"Oh, yes," said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. "Yes, I quite agree."
He didn't say another word on the subject as they went upstairs to bed. While Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom, Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom window and peered down into the front garden. The cat was still there. It was staring down Privet Drive as though it were waiting for something.
Was he imagining things?
Could all this have anything to do with the Potters?
If it did… if it got out that they were related to a pair of — well, he didn't think he could bear it.
The Dursleys got into bed. Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly but Mr. Dursley lay awake, turning it all over in his mind. His last, comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near him and Mrs. Dursley. The Potters knew very well what he and Petunia thought about them and their kind… He couldn't see how he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be going on — he yawned and turned over — it couldn't affect them…
How very wrong he was.
“That doesn’t sound good.” Annabeth’s brow furrowed.
“Oh, I hope they’re all right.” Rachel sighed.
Mr. Dursley might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It was sitting as still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkingly on the far corner of Privet Drive. It didn't so much as quiver when a car door slammed on the next street, nor when two owls swooped overhead. In fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all.
“Something’s up with that cat.”
“No, duh Prissy!”
A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you'd have thought he'd just popped out of the ground.
“Shadow travel? Could he be a son of Hades?” Grover asked Nico.
“Perhaps,” he said as though he doubted it. “But, it sounded as though he just appeared there bot like he was coming from somewhere.”
They all nodded and Thalia began reading again.
The cat's tail twitched and its eyes narrowed.
“We’ve already discussed this.”
Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This man's name was Albus Dumbledore.
“Wow. He sounds……..odd.” Annabeth finished.
“He certainly dresses different.” Grover agreed.
Albus Dumbledore didn't seem to realize that he had just arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome. He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for something. But he did seem to realize he was being watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, "I should have known."
“Should have known what?” Annabeth muttered trying to figure it out.
He found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter. He flicked it open, held it up in the air, and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with a little pop.
“I WANT ONE!!!” Nico, Percy, Travis, Connor and Grover screamed.
He clicked it again — the next lamp flickered into darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him. If anyone looked out of their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Dursley, they wouldn't be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement. Dumbledore slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street toward number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat. He didn't look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.
“He’s crazy.” Percy declared.
“Perhaps not. There has to be a reason they mention the cat so much.”
"Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall."
He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.
“Woah. THAT IS SO TOTALLY AWESOME!”
"How did you know it was me?" she asked.
"My dear Professor, I've never seen a cat sit so stiffly."
"You'd be stiff if you'd been sitting on a brick wall all day," said Professor McGonagall.
“Very true. I’ve done that before.” Rachel announced.
“Why?” Annabeth asked raising her eyebrows.
“I was wondering what being a statue would be like.” She said as though it was obvious.
“Well, that sounds fun.” Thalia said dryly.
"It does." Travis grinned.
"Shall we try it someday brother?"
"Tourists." They Twins said together grinning evil grins. They had a feeling that it wasn't going to stop with just chasing around tourists.
"All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here."
“Who knew old dudes partied so hard?” Grover asked.
Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.
"Oh yes, everyone's celebrating, all right," she said impatiently. "You'd think they'd be a bit more careful, but no — even the Muggles have noticed something's going on. It was on their news."
They all leaned forward eagerly at the fact that they were going to find out what all the weirdness was all about.
She jerked her head back at the Dursleys' dark living-room window. "I heard it. Flocks of owls… shooting stars… Well, they're not completely stupid. They were bound to notice something. Shooting stars down in Kent — I'll bet that was Dedalus Diggle. He never had much sense."
“Doesn’t have much sense? Sounds, like Percy.” Annabeth grinned.
“Shut, up!” Percy yelled as the rest of the group laughed.
"You can't blame them," said Dumbledore gently. "We've had precious little to celebrate for eleven years."
“Why haven’t they been able to celebrate for eleven years?”
“Something horrible must have happened.”
"I know that," said Professor McGonagall irritably. "But that's no reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out on the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumors."
She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he was going to tell her something,
“Good. I hate not knowing things.” Annabeth said.
but he didn't,
so she went on. "A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?"
“Who’s You-Know-Who?” Nico asked again.
"It certainly seems so," said Dumbledore.
"We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a lemon drop?"
“Mmmm, candy.” Nico said drooling.
“Nico, your drooling.
“Shut up.” He told Rachel as he wiped his mouth.
"A lemon drop. They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of."
"No, thank you," said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn't think this was the moment for lemon drops.
"As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone —"
"My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name? All this 'You-Know-Who' nonsense — for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort."
“This, Voldemort person must be horrible if their scared to say his name.” They said not laughing at the fact that they were scared. The war left scares on them that hadn’t healed in the short year.
Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore, who was unsticking two lemon drops, seemed not to notice. "It all gets so confusing if we keep saying 'You-Know-Who.' I have never seen any reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort's name."
"I know you haven't," said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half admiring. "But you're different. Everyone knows you're the only one You-Know- oh, all right, Voldemort, was frightened of."
“He must be a great man.” Grover nodded.
"You flatter me," said Dumbledore calmly. "Voldemort had powers I will never have."
"Only because you're too — well —noble to use them."
“Not noble. Just not evil.”
“That can be the same thing.”
"It's lucky it's dark. I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs."
“Too much information.” Percy and Grover said together.
Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and said, "The owls are nothing next to the rumors that are flying around. You know what they're saying? About why he's disappeared? About what finally stopped him?"
They all leaned forward again.
It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she was most anxious to discuss, the real reason she had been waiting on a cold, hard wall all day, for neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare as she did now. It was plain that whatever "everyone" was saying, she was not going to believe it until Dumbledore told her it was true. Dumbledore, however, was choosing another lemon drop and did not answer.
"What they're saying," she pressed on, "is that last night Voldemort turned up in Godric's Hollow. He went to find the Potters. The rumor is that Lily and James Potter are — are — that they're — dead."
“Oh no!” Annabeth gasped.
Everyone in the room hung their heads respectfully.
Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.
"Lily and James… I can't believe it… I didn't want to believe it… Oh, Albus…"
Clarrisse was reminded of Silena and looked towards the window so hide her tears.
Dumbledore reached out and patted her on the shoulder. "I know… I know…" he said heavily.
They all sighed as they were reminded of all who were lost.
Professor McGonagall's voice trembled as she went on. "That's not all. They're saying he tried to kill the Potter's son, Harry.
“Going after a child! This man makes me sick.” Percy spat.
“He better not touch him.” Annabeth growled.
They all nodded their heads at the fact that someone could kill an innocent child. It made them sick.
But he couldn't. He couldn't kill that little boy. No one knows why, or how, but they're saying that when he couldn't kill Harry Potter, Voldemort's power somehow broke — and that's why he's gone."
“A baby? A baby killed a man that strikes fear into the hearts of many?” Clarrisse said curiously.
“Wow, He must be magical or something. Perhaps a Demi-god?” Annabeth asked the group.
They shrugged all eager to find out what happened.
Dumbledore nodded glumly.
"It's — it's true?" faltered Professor McGonagall. "After all he's done… all the people he's killed… he couldn't kill a little boy? It's just astounding… of all the things to stop him… but how in the name of heaven did Harry survive?"
“That’s what we all want to know.”
"We can only guess." said Dumbledore. "We may never know."
“I want to know.” Annabeth pouted and Percy hugged her tight to him.
Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes beneath her spectacles. Dumbledore gave a great sniff
“It seems the Potter’s were great people.” Percy said heavily.
as he took a golden watch from his pocket and examined it. It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge.
It must have made sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put it back in his pocket and said, "Hagrid's late. I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here, by the way?"
"Yes," said Professor McGonagall. "And I don't suppose you're going to tell me why you're here, of all places?"
“That’s a good question.”
"I've come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They're the only family he has left now."
“What? He has to live with them? That poor child!” Grover said shaking his head.
You don't mean – you can't mean the people who live here?" cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four. "Dumbledore — you can't. I've been watching them all day. You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son — I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!"
"It's the best place for him," said Dumbledore firmly. "His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he's older. I've written them a letter."
“A letter? He thinks he can explain this in a letter?” Thalia said incrediously.
"A letter?" repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall. "Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter?
“You think like McGonagall.” Percy grinned.
These people will never understand him! He'll be famous — a legend — I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future — there will be books written about Harry — every child in our world will know his name!"
"Exactly." said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon glasses. "It would be enough to turn any boy's head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something he won't even remember! Can you see how much better off he'll be, growing up away from all that until he's ready to take it?"
“I suppose he’s right. But still I bet they’ll be awful to him.”
Professor McGonagall opened her mouth, changed her mind, swallowed, and then said, "Yes — yes, you're right, of course. But how is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?" She eyed his cloak suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry underneath it.
“He better not be.”
"Hagrid's bringing him."
"You think it —wise — to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?"
"I would trust Hagrid with my life," said Dumbledore.
"I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place," said Professor McGonagall grudgingly, "but you can't pretend he's not careless. He does tend to — what was that?"
“What was what?” Tyson asked.
“We’ll find out when we read more.” Rachel explained gently to Tyson. He smiled.
A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky — and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them.
“I WANT ONE!!!!!!!!!” Rachel, Nico, Grover Travis Connor and Percy yelled out.
If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild — long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins.
“Who do you think is bigger? Ares or this guy?”
“This guy.” Everyone but Clarrisse said. She said Ares and everyone didn’t say anything to the contrary. They didn’t feel like getting the stuffing knocked out of them anytime soon.
In his vast, muscular arms he was holding a bundle of blankets.
“What’s he holding?”
“Hmmmmm, I don’t know. Maybe a baby?” Clarrise said rolling her eyes.
“No need to be mean.” Nico pouted.
"Hagrid," said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. "At last. And where did you get that motorcycle?"
"Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir," said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got him, sir."
“His name is Sirius?” Chuckled Percy.
“Sounds like it Perseus.”
"No problems, were there?"
"No, sir — house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin' around. He fell asleep as we was flyin' over Bristol."
Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the bundle of blankets.
Inside, just visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep. Under a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.
“Cool scar.” Percy grinned.
"Is that where —?" whispered Professor McGonagall.
"Yes," said Dumbledore. "He'll have that scar forever."
“Okay, maybe not so cool.” Said Percy as he frowned.
“You think, Prissy?” said you can guess.
"Couldn't you do something about it, Dumbledore?"
"Even if I could, I wouldn't. Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground.
“I want a scar like that!” Nico yelled. The group rolled their eyes.
Well — give him here, Hagrid — we'd better get this over with."
Dumbledore took Harry in his arms and turned toward the Dursleys' house.
"Could I — could I say good-bye to him, sir?" asked Hagrid. He bent his great, shaggy head over Harry and gave him what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss. Then, suddenly, Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog.
“I like dogs.” Percy said.
“We know. You have a hellhound.” Thalia said before continueing.
"Shhh!" hissed Professor McGonagall, "You'll wake the Muggles!"
“They didn’t explain what a Muggle was.” Annabeth frowned.
"S-s-sorry," sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large, spotted handkerchief and burying his face in it. "But I c-c-can't stand it —Lily an' James dead — an' poor little Harry off ter live with Muggles —"
They all sighed.
"Yes, yes, it's all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we'll be found," Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door. He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry's blankets, and then came back to the other two.
“HE LEFT A BABY ON THE DOORSTEP!” They all thundered save Tyson who didn’t understand what was going on.
“HOW DARE HE?” Thalia roared. “What if something happened to Harry before his Aunt and Uncle found him?”
They shook their heads at the ill-thinking of this man.
For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid's shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore's eyes seemed to have gone out.
“That’s so sad.” Annabeth said tearfully.
"Well," said Dumbledore finally, "that's that. We've no business staying here. We may as well go and join the celebrations."
“It’ll be hard celebrating after that.” Grover said sadly.
"Yeah," said Hagrid in a very muffled voice, "I best get this bike away. G'night, Professor McGonagall — Professor Dumbledore, sir."
Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.
"I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall," said Dumbledore, nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply.
Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once, and twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the street. He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four.
"Good luck, Harry," he murmured. He turned on his heel and with a swish of his cloak, he was gone.
“It doesn’t seem like shadow-travel.” Nico said.
A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours' time by Mrs. Dursley's scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley… He couldn't know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry Potter — the boy who lived!"
“So Harry’s the boy who lived.” Percy nodded sadly.
“That’s the end. Who wants to read next?” Thalia asked holding the book out.
“I will.” Rachel said extending her hand out.