In Chapter 2, we find out that Harry has been being watched this whole time, and that Petunia might know more about the wizarding world than she’s been letting on. Let’s go!
As if Harry didn’t have enough on his mind, now he finds out that his crazy cat lady of a neighbor is actually a witch. I love Mrs. Figg so much! She’s a hoot!
“I’m a Squib, as Mundungus knows full well, so how on earth was I supposed to help you fight off dementors? He left you completely without cover when I warned him —”
“This bloke Mundungus has been following me? Hang on — it was him! He Disapparated from the front of my house!”
“Yes, yes, yes, but luckily I’d stationed Mr. Tibbles under a car just in case, and Mr. Tibbles came and warned me, but by the time I got to your house you’d gone — and now — oh, what’s Dumbledore going to say?”
As a reminder, a Squib is a person born into a wizarding family, but has no magical powers of their own. Filch is a Squib. Neville’s family thought he was one for a while when he was younger. And now we have Mrs. Figg, who we heard of briefly at the end of the last book, when Dumbledore told Sirius to contact the “old crowd.” One of the people mentioned is Arabella Figg. Mrs. Figg.
Oh, and Mr. Tibbles is her cat. Who has been helping her keep an eye on things. I love this woman!
Harry hauls Dudley up and they head back to Privett Drive. Mrs. Figg babbles the whole time that Harry needs to keep his wand out, forget about trying to stay secret, or the fact that he just did major magic as a underage wizard. Harry asks why she never told him, but it was under Dumbledore’s orders. Besides, she couldn’t make his visits seem pleasant, or the Dursleys would never let Harry visit her. Mrs. Figg is highly agitated and knows they are in trouble because of Harry’s use of magic. The Ministry probably knows and will be doing something about it, despite the fact that it was done in self-defence against a freaking dementor!
At some point, Mundungus Fletcher turns back up. He seems very nonchalant for someone who has completely dropped the ball. He’s also a petty thief who left to see about some cauldrons that had fallen off the back of a broom. Hahahaha. He didn’t know about the dementors though and is shocked that something like that could happen here. Mrs. Figg is not about to let him off the hook.
Mrs. Figg raised the arm from which her string bag dangled and whacked Mundungus around the face and neck with it; judging from the clanking noise it made it was full of cat food.
“Ouch — gerroff — gerroff, you mad old bat! Someone’s gotta tell Dumbledore!”
“Yes — they — have!” yelled Mrs. Figg, still swinging the bag of cat food at every bit of Mundungus she could reach. “And — it — had — better — be — you — and — you — can — tell — him — why — you — weren’t — there — to — help!”
She is not having any of his excuses!
They get back to the Dursleys’ where Mrs. Figg tells Harry to get inside and stay there. She heads home to wait for further instructions. Petunia takes one look at Dudley and knows something is very wrong. They think that Dudley has been mugged or something, but as Harry tries to duck away, Dudley points to him. The Dursleys keep asking if Harry did any magic or anything, and Harry tries to explain something, but before he gets far, an owl swoops in with a notice from the Ministry. They have detected his use of underage magic, he has to attend a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry, and he has hereby been expelled from Hogwarts.
Oh, and Ministry officials are on their way to destroy his wand. Yikes.
Before much else can happen, another owl arrives, this one from Arthur Weasley.
Dumbledore’s just arrived at the Ministry, and he’s trying to sort it all out. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR AUNT AND UNCLE’S HOUSE. DO NOT DO ANY MORE MAGIC. DO NOT SURRENDER YOUR WAND.
The Dursleys are trying to figure out what’s going on. Dudley tries to explain, but since he is so addled, he’s making less sense than usual. He starts off by saying that Harry pointed his wand at him (which, in Dudley’s defense, Harry did) and everything went dark. He heard things inside his head, but can’t articulate what they were. It is an interesting question: what did the dementors force Dudley to hear? Harry hears his parents dying, but what could Dudley’s worst memory be? Dudley continues, saying that he tripped and then felt cold, terribly cold. And hopeless, like he’d never be happy again. Lovely creatures, dementors, aren’t they.
Vernon thinks that Harry put some sort of curse on Dudley. Harry tries to explain that he didn’t do anything. It was the dementors. Now Harry has to try and explain what dementors even are, to a couple of people who despise magic and want to know as little about it as possible. Harry tries to tell them what they are, but is interrupted before he can.
“They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,” said Aunt Petunia.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! How does Petunia know about Azkaban? She claims that she heard Lily talking about them with “that awful boy,” who we know now was not actually James. It was Snape, back when he and Lily were friends as kids. Petunia’s knowledge of the dementors stuns everyone, but actually calms Vernon down slightly, now that he knows that Harry didn’t hurt Dudley.
They don’t have much time to think about that when ANOTHER owl arrives with another notice from the Ministry. Good news! Harry is not expelled and will not need to surrender his wand. All will be decided at this disciplinary hearing, so at least Harry has a bit of a reprieve and will have a chance to explain things.
Vernon is so sick of owls at this point, especially when another one arrives from Sirius, telling Harry not to leave the house, no matter what. In the meantime, Harry is still trying to explain what happened to Vernon, who can’t understand why Harry was expelled if he didn’t do any magic to hurt Dudley.
“I did the Patronus Charm to get rid of the dementors,” he said, forcing himself to remain calm. “It’s the only thing that works against them.”
“But what were dementoids doing in Little Whinging?” said Uncle Vernon in tones of outrage.
“Couldn’t tell you,” said Harry wearily. “No idea.”
Vernon is ready to blame all of this on Harry. No magical prison guards would be coming around his family if it wasn’t for Harry being there. At first, Vernon thinks they may have been coming to arrest Harry for something, but Harry thinks that Voldemort must have sent them. That’s a name that even Vernon recognizes, as the murderer of Harry’s parents. Harry confirms that Voldemort is back. Petunia in particular takes this pretty hard. She actually looks really scared. Vernon puts all of this information together and decides that Harry needs to leave right now.
“You heard me — OUT!” Uncle Vernon bellowed, and even Aunt Petunia and Dudley jumped. “OUT! OUT! I should’ve done it years ago! Owls treating the place like a rest home, puddings exploding, half the lounge destroyed, Dudley’s tail, Marge bobbing around on the ceiling, and that flying Ford Anglia — OUT! OUT! You’ve had it! You’re history! You’re not staying here if some loony’s after you, you’re not endangering my wife and son, you’re not bringing trouble down on us, if you’re going the same way as your useless parents, I’ve had it! OUT!”
Okay. Vernon is a terrible person, but I do understand his point here. He is worried about his family. In his eyes, Harry is a danger to them, so he wants Harry gone. I can completely understand that. He has no interest in protecting Harry because, as far as he’s concerned, Harry is the reason for all this trouble in the first place. So I get it, I do. It’s not pleasant, but it’s at least understandable.
The problem is, Harry has just been told that he absolutely can’t leave their house. And Vernon is ready to throw him out with his own two hands. As Vernon keeps yelling at Harry, yet another owl swoops in, this one carrying a Howler, but it’s not addressed to Petunia. Harry warns her to open it, to get it over with, even as the envelope starts to smoke. It bursts into flames and screams out the words:
“REMEMBER MY LAST, PETUNIA.”
This was such a topic of discussion back in the day! What on earth did it mean! We were so naive back then, had no idea what was in place for Harry’s protection, above and beyond Lily’s sacrifice. These cryptic words have an effect on Petunia, though. She sinks to the couch as the envelope burns and tells Vernon that Harry has to stay. That’s it. Vernon deflates completely, and Petunia tells Harry to go up to his room. Harry tries to ask her what that message meant. Is she in contact with the wizarding world somehow? They won’t answer him.
Gah, this chapter was so stressful, with so many revelations! See you next time for Chapter 3!