Chapter 3 – Will and Won’t
Hey, we finally made it to Harry! He is sound asleep and leaning against a window, which can’t be all that comfortable. His room is also a complete mess, with food, school books, clothes and owl feathers all over the place. It’s nice to see that while Harry is a wizard, he’s also still a typical teenager.
Among the mess are several newspapers, featuring headlines like “Harry Potter: The Chosen One?” and “Scrimgeour Succeeds Fudge.” That second one isn’t a surprise, since we met Scrimgeour in the last chapter, and to be frank, the first one isn’t surprising either. The wizarding world has been sensationalizing Harry’s story since he was a baby. They definitely aren’t going to stop now! The story about Scrimgeour also mentions the new security plans he intends to put around Hogwarts, including a brief statement from Neville’s grandmother.
The Ministry has also passed out leaflets with information about various Dark magic things to be on the lookout for and how to best protect yourself from them. Things like not going anywhere alone, being sure to be back home before dark, using security questions to verify that your friend isn’t being impersonated by a Death Eater. You know. Common sense stuff.
Back to Harry, who is still snoring on. He has a note in his hand from Dumbledore, which is part of the reason why he is sleeping on the window instead of in his bed.
If it is convenient to you, I shall call at number four, Privet Drive this coming Friday at eleven P.M. to escort you to the Burrow, where you have been invited to spend the remainder of your school holidays.
If you are agreeable, I should also be glad of your assistance in a matter to which I hope to attend on the way to the Burrow. I shall explain this more fully when I see you.
Kindly send your answer by return of this owl. Hoping to see you this Friday,
I am, yours most sincerely,
Yeah, Harry couldn’t answer that note soon enough. Of course he wants to leave Privet Drive! The problem is: Harry feels like it’s too good to be true. He’s only been at the Dursleys’ house for two weeks. This could just be a big joke or something. That’s why he hasn’t packed – he doesn’t want to be all ready to go and then be disappointed if Dumbledore doesn’t turn up.
He also hasn’t told the Dursleys, but I’m sure they’ll be fine with a wizard turning up unannounced on their doorstep.
A streetlamp flickers out and this wakes Harry up. He looks out the window and sees Dumbledore walking up the front sidewalk. Uh oh! He starts throwing his stuff across the room to his trunk and hears his uncle complaining about someone arriving so late at night. The juxtaposition between Vernon Dursley, who’s so uptight he can barely see past the end of his nose, and Albus Dumbledore, in his cloak, pointed hat, and half-moon glasses, is one of the absolutely funniest sights imaginable.
Dumbledore, being Dumbledore, brushes aside any rudeness or shock and just comments that their plants look very lovely. Vernon, on the other hand, is not interested in small talk.
“I don’t mean to be rude –” he began, in a tone that threatened rudeness in every syllable.
“– yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often,” Dumbledore finished the sentence gravely. “Best to say nothing at all, my dear man. Ah, and this must be Petunia.”
Dumbledore is such a sassy wizard! Love it!
He introduces himself to Petunia, mentioning that they have “corresponded,” which leads Harry to remember that Dumbledore had sent Petunia a Howler last year. He also introduces himself to Dudley. When none of the Dursleys say a word, he invites himself into their sitting room. Harry wants to know if they are leaving, which yes, they are Harry – hold your horses! – but there are a few things to discuss first.
Vernon is still not happy about any of this, but when he tries to challenge Dumbledore, their sofa comes forward, knocks into them so that they fall onto it, and then pops back into place. You know, since they didn’t offer Dumbledore a place to sit, he offered one to them. Heehee. During all of this, Harry notices that Dumbledore’s hand is black and shriveled, as though it had been badly burned. He tries to ask what happened, but Dumbledore waves him off and says that he’ll tell him later.
Dumbledore is having too much fun playing the host in the Dursleys’ house.
“I would assume that you were going to offer me refreshment,” Dumbledore said to Uncle Vernon, “but the evidence so far suggests that that would be optimistic to the point of foolishness.”
A third twitch of the wand, and a dusty bottle and five glasses appeared in midair. The bottle tipped and poured a generous measure of honey-colored liquid into each of the glasses, which then floated to each person in the room.
Given what Dumbledore knows about the Dursleys, he has to be enjoying himself, especially when the Dursleys won’t touch the glasses at all and try to ignore them, even when the glasses are tapping them on their heads. These drinks just want to be drunk! Um, drank? Drinked? Whatever.
First order of business is Sirius’s will. He has left everything he owned to Harry, which makes sense, since Harry was the only family he really had left that wasn’t evil. Any money was transferred to Harry’s account at Gringotts, so that’s easy, but Sirius also left Harry number twelve, Grimmauld Place. Harry immediately says that the Order can keep using it, but Dumbledore tells him that the Order has left it for now to make sure that it does, in fact, belong to Harry now.
See, the Black family, with their obsession with blood purity, may have put some sort of enchantment on the place to make sure that no one but a pureblood could own it. Sirius and his younger brother, Regulus, are both dead and neither one had any children. Sirius’s will is clear, but that may not be enough. If the house was enchanted though, it would have passed to the oldest living Black relative, no matter what Sirius’s wishes were – and that person is Bellatrix Lestrange.
The Dursleys have been listening to all of this, not understanding half of it, but Vernon does understand that Harry’s big, scary godfather is dead now and that Harry has inherited some property. This interests him a bit in his little greedy heart. He doesn’t say much about it, although he does finally blow up about the glasses that are still hovering around their heads.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Dumbledore politely, and he raised his wand again. All three glasses vanished. “But it would have been better manners to drink it, you know.”
Lucky for Harry, there is a very simple test to see if he is the owner of 12 Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore summons Kreacher, which freaks the Dursleys completely out. Kreacher is having a temper tantrum, stamping his feet and shouting that he will absolutely not go to “the Potter brat,” that he intends to go to “Miss Bellatrix” instead. Harry, remembering Kreacher’s involvement in Sirius’s death, wants nothing to do with Kreacher, but Dumbledore points out that it’s not a good idea for Kreacher to go live with the Lestranges after everything he has seen and heard living at the headquarters of the Order for a year.
On to the test: all Harry has to do is give Kreacher an order and see if Kreacher follows it. If he belongs to Harry, he will have to obey him. With Kreacher still yelling his head off, the only thing Harry can think of to say is to tell him to shut up. And it works! Kreacher immediately becomes silent, which only makes him angrier, but he can’t make a sound. Dumbledore is happy – this means that Harry is definitely the owner of Grimmauld Place and Kreacher. Harry really doesn’t want to keep Kreacher around, and who can blame him, so Dumbledore tells him to send Kreacher to Hogwarts and he can work there.
Also bound for Hogwarts – Buckbeak! Or, to be clear, Buckbeak is already at Hogwarts being taken care of by Hagrid, and Harry is perfectly happy for him to stay there. This will make both Hagrid and Buckbeak very happy.
Now, onto the last bit of business, this time with the Dursleys. Dumbledore explains that Harry comes of age next year (at seventeen in the wizarding world) and that Voldemort is back, which makes things even more dangerous than when Dumbledore first left Harry with the Dursleys all those years ago. He had left them a note asking them to care for young Harry as if he were their own.
Dumbledore paused, and although his voice remained light and calm, and he gave no obvious sign of anger, Harry felt a kind of chill emanating from him and noticed that the Dursleys drew very slightly closer together.
“You did not do as I asked. You have never treated Harry as a son. He has known nothing but neglect and often cruelty at your hands. The best that can be said is that he has at least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon the unfortunate boy sitting between you.”
It makes me so unbelievably happy that finally, FINALLY, someone is calling the Dursleys out on the horrible behavior towards Harry over the years. I cannot imagine being given a baby and asked to take care of it, only to make it live in a tiny closet, barely feed it, and treat it like dirt under my shoe. The Dursleys have done all of that to Harry and more, and it’s disgusting. They are also so completely oblivious to life in general that they don’t understand Dumbledore’s last bit that he said about Dudley. They didn’t mistreat Dudley in an abusive way, but letting Dudley grow up with no discipline, giving in to his every want and whim, never setting boundaries – Dudley is going to have a very difficult time once he has to live in the real world on his own. It’s not abuse in the classic sense that everyone thinks of, but it’s toxic all the same.
Dumbledore’s last request of them is that they let Harry return one last time after his sixth year at Hogwarts and before he turns seventeen to ensure that the magic protection from his mother will last until that time. The Dursleys are silent and Dumbledore takes that as acceptance of his terms. Harry gets his things and Dumbledore sends them on to the Burrow, all except the Invisibility Cloak, which might come in handy where they are going. And then they are off . . . to “pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”
I love Dumbledore!
See you next time for Chapter 4!