:






THE KEEPER OF THE KEYS



 

BOOM. They knocked again. Dudley jerked awake. Wheres 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 handsnow they knew what had been in the long, thin package he had brought with them.

Whos there? he shouted. I warn youIm armed!

There was a pause. Then

SMASH!

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.

Couldnt make us a cup o tea, could yeh? Its 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 heres 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 yet dad, but yehve got yet moms 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 Vernons 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.

AnywayHarry, said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh hereI mighta sat on it at some point, but itll 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 havent introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.



He held out an enormous hand and shook Harrys whole arm.

What about that tea then, eh? he said, rubbing his hands together. Id not say no ter summat stronger if yehve 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 couldnt 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 hed 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, Dont 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 couldnt take his eyes off the giant. Finally, as nobody seemed about to explain anything, he said, Im sorry, but I still dont 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, Im Keeper of Keys at Hogwartsyehll know all about Hogwarts, o course.

Erno, 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 werent gettin yer letters but I never thought yeh wouldnt even know abou Hogwarts, fer cryin out loud! Did yeh never wonder where yet 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 boythis boy!knows nothin abouabout ANYTHING?

Harry thought this was going a bit far. He had been to school, after all, and his marks werent 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 yet mom and dad, he said. I mean, theyre

famous.

Youre

famous.

 

What? Mymy mom and dad werent 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, sit! 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 youve 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 yet heads, both of yeh, said Hagrid. Harryyer a wizard.

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

 

Im 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 goodun, Id say, once yehve been trained up a bit. With a mum an dad like yours, what else would yeh be? An I reckon its 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:

 

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE

(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.

 

 

Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Minerva McGonagall,

 

 

Deputy Headmistress

 

 

Questions exploded inside Harrys head like fireworks and he couldnt decide which to ask first. After a few minutes he stammered, What does it mean, they await my owl?

Gallopin Gorgons, that reminds me, said Hagrid, clapping a hand to his forehead with enough force to knock over a cart horse, and from yet another pocket inside his overcoat he pulled an owla real, live, rather ruffled looking owla long quill, and a roll of parchment. With his tongue between his teeth he scribbled a note that Harry could read upside down:

 

 

Dear Professor Dumbledore,

 

 

Given Harry his letter.

 

 

Taking him to buy his things tomorrow.

 

 

Weathers horrible. Hope youre well.

 

 

Hagrid

 

 

Hagrid rolled up the note, gave it to the owl, which clamped it in its beak, went to the door, and threw the owl out into the storm. Then he came back and sat down as though this was as normal as talking on the telephone.

Harry realized his mouth was open and closed it quickly.

Where was I? said Hagrid, but at that moment, Uncle Vernon, still ashen faced but looking very angry, moved into the firelight.

Hes not going, he said.

Hagrid grunted.

Id like ter see a great Muggle like you stop him, he said.

A what? said Harry, interested.

A Muggle, said Hagrid, its what we call nonmagic folk like them. An its your bad luck you grew up in a family o the biggest Muggles I ever laid eyes on.

We swore when we took him in wed put a stop to that rubbish, said Uncle Vernon, swore wed stamp it out of him! Wizard indeed!

 

You knew? said Harry. You

knew

Im aa wizard?

 

 

Knew! shrieked Aunt Petunia suddenly.

Knew!

Of course we knew! How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to thatthat

school

and came home every vacation with her pockets full of frog spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her for what she wasa freak! But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!

 

She stopped to draw a deep breath and then went ranting on. It seemed she had been wanting to say all this for years.

 

Then she met that Potter at school and they left and got married and had you, and of course I knew youd be just the same, just as strange, just asas

abnormal

and then, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we got landed with you!

 

Harry had gone very white. As soon as he found his voice he said, Blown up? You told me they died in a car crash!

CAR CRASH! roared Hagrid, jumping up so angrily that the Dursleys scuttled back to their corner. How could a car crash kill Lily an James Potter? Its an outrage! A scandal! Harry Potter not knowin his own story when every kid in our world knows his name!

But why? What happened? Harry asked urgently.

The anger faded from Hagrids face. He looked suddenly anxious.

I never expected this, he said, in a low, worried voice. I had no idea, when Dumbledore told me there might be trouble gettin hold of yeh, how much yeh didnt know. Ah, Harry, I don know if Im the right person ter tell yehbut someones gottayeh cant go off ter Hogwarts not knowin.

He threw a dirty look at the Dursleys.

Well, its best yeh know as much as I can tell yehmind, I cant tell yeh everythin, its a great mystry, parts of it

He sat down, stared into the fire for a few seconds, and then said, It begins, I suppose, withwith a person calledbut its incredible yeh dont know his name, everyone in our world knows

Who?

WellI don like sayin the name if I can help it. No one does.

Why not?

Gulpin gargoyles, Harry, people are still scared. Blimey, this is difficult. See, there was this wizard who went bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than worse. His name was

Hagrid gulped, but no words came out.

Could you write it down? Harry suggested.

 

Nah cant spell it. All right

Voldemort.

Hagrid shuddered. Dont make me say it again. Anyway, thisthis wizard, about twenty years ago now, started lookin fer followers. Got em, toosome were afraid, some just wanted a bit o his power, cause he was gettin himself power, all right. Dark days, Harry. Didnt know who ter trust, didnt dare get friendly with strange wizards or witches terrible things happened. He was takin over. Course, some stood up to himan he killed em. Horribly. One o the only safe places left was Hogwarts. Reckon Dumbledores the only one You-Know-Who was afraid of. Didnt dare try takin the school, not jus then, anyway.

 

Now, yer mum an dad were as good a witch an wizard as I ever knew. Head boy an girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the mystry is why You-Know-Who never tried to get em on his side before probably knew they were too close ter Dumbledore ter want anythin ter do with the Dark Side.

Maybe he thought he could persuade em maybe he just wanted em outta the way. All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on Halloween ten years ago. You was just a year old. He came ter yer house anan

Hagrid suddenly pulled out a very dirty, spotted handkerchief and blew his nose with a sound like a foghorn.

Sorry, he said. But its that sadknew yer mum an dad, an nicer people yeh couldnt findanyway

You-Know-Who killed em. An thenan this is the real mystry of the thinghe tried to kill you, too. Wanted ter make a clean job of it, I suppose, or maybe he just liked killin by then. But he couldnt do it. Never wondered how you got that mark on yer forehead? That was no ordinary cut. Thats what yeh get when a powerful, evil curse touches yehtook care of yer mum an dad an yer house, evenbut it didnt work on you, an thats why yer famous, Harry. No one ever lived after he decided ter kill em, no one except you, an hed killed some o the best witches an wizards of the agethe McKinnons, the Bones, the Prewettsan you was only a baby, an you lived.

Something very painful was going on in Harrys mind. As Hagrids story came to a close, he saw again the blinding flash of green light, more clearly than he had ever remembered it beforeand he remembered something else, for the first time in his life: a high, cold, cruel laugh.

Hagrid was watching him sadly.

Took yeh from the ruined house myself, on Dumbledores orders. Brought yeh ter this lot

Load of old tosh, said Uncle Vernon. Harry jumped; he had almost forgotten that the Dursleys were there. Uncle Vernon certainly seemed to have got back his courage. He was glaring at Hagrid and his fists were clenched.

Now, you listen here, boy, he snarled, I accept theres something strange about you, probably nothing a good beating wouldnt have curedand as for all this about your parents, well, they were weirdos, no denying it, and the worlds better off without them in my opinionasked for all they got, getting mixed up with these wizarding typesjust what I expected, always knew theyd come to a sticky end

But at that moment, Hagrid leapt from the sofa and drew a battered pink umbrella from inside his coat. Pointing this at Uncle Vernon like a sword, he said, Im warning you, DursleyIm warning youone more word

In danger of being speared on the end of an umbrella by a bearded giant, Uncle Vernons courage failed again; he flattened himself against the wall and fell silent.

Thats better, said Hagrid, breathing heavily and sitting back down on the sofa, which this time sagged right down to the floor.

Harry, meanwhile, still had questions to ask, hundreds of them.

But what happened to Vol, sorryI mean, You-Know-Who?

Good question, Harry. Disappeared. Vanished. Same night he tried ter kill you. Makes yeh even more famous. Thats the biggest mystry, see he was gettin more an more powerfulwhyd he go?

Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die. Some say hes still out there, bidin his time, like, but I don believe it. People who was on his side came back ter ours. Some of em came outta kinda trances. Don reckon they couldve done if he was comin back.

 

Most of us reckon hes still out there somewhere but lost his powers. Too weak to carry on. Cause somethin about you finished him, Harry. There was somethin goin on that night he hadnt counted on

I

dunno what it was, no one doesbut somethin about you stumped him, all right.

 

Hagrid looked at Harry with warmth and respect blazing in his eyes, but Harry, instead of feeling pleased and proud, felt quite sure there had been a horrible mistake. A wizard? Him? How could he possibly be? Hed spent his life being clouted by Dudley, and bullied by Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon; if he was really a wizard, why hadnt they been turned into warty toads every time theyd tried to lock him in his cupboard? If hed once defeated the greatest sorcerer in the world, how come Dudley had always been able to kick him around like a football?

Hagrid, he said quietly, I think you must have made a mistake. I dont think I can be a wizard.

To his surprise, Hagrid chuckled.

Not a wizard, eh? Never made things happen when you was scared or angry?

Harry looked into the fire. Now he came to think about it every odd thing that had ever made his aunt and uncle furious with him had happened when he, Harry, had been upset or angry chased by Dudleys gang, he had somehow found himself out of their reach dreading going to school with that ridiculous haircut, hed managed to make it grow back and the very last time Dudley had hit him, hadnt he got his revenge, without even realizing he was doing it? Hadnt he set a boa constrictor on him?

Harry looked back at Hagrid, smiling, and saw that Hagrid was positively beaming at him.

See? said Hagrid. Harry Potter, not a wizardyou wait, youll be right famous at Hogwarts.

But Uncle Vernon wasnt going to give in without a fight.

Havent I told you hes not going? he hissed. Hes going to Stonewall High and hell be grateful for it. Ive read those letters and he needs all sorts of rubbishspell books and wands and

If he wants ter go, a great Muggle like you wont stop him, growled Hagrid. Stop Lily an James Potters son goin ter Hogwarts! Yer mad. His names been down ever since he was born. Hes off ter the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world. Seven years there and he wont know himself. Hell be with youngsters of his own sort, fer a change, an hell be under the greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had Albus Dumbled

I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL To TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS! yelled Uncle Vernon.

But he had finally gone too far. Hagrid seized his umbrella and whirled it over his head, NEVER, he thundered, INSULTALBUSDUMBLEDOREINFRONTOFME!

He brought the umbrella swishing down through the air to point at Dudleythere was a flash of violet light, a sound like a firecracker, a sharp squeal, and the next second, Dudley was dancing on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat bottom, howling in pain. When he turned his back on them, Harry saw a curly pigs tail poking through a hole in his trousers.

Uncle Vernon roared. Pulling Aunt Petunia and Dudley into the other room, he cast one last terrified look at Hagrid and slammed the door behind them.

Hagrid looked down at his umbrella and stroked his beard.

Shouldnta lost me temper, he said ruefully, but it didnt work anyway. Meant ter turn him into a pig, but I suppose he was so much like a pig anyway there wasnt much left ter do.

He cast a sideways look at Harry under his bushy eyebrows.

Be grateful if yeh didnt mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts, he said. Imernot supposed ter do magic, strictly speakin. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an get yer letters to yeh an stuffone o the reasons I was so keen ter take on the job

Why arent you supposed to do magic? asked Harry.

Oh, wellI was at Hogwarts meself but Iergot expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wand in half an everything. But Dumbledore let me stay on as gamekeeper. Great man, Dumbledore.

Why were you expelled?

Its gettin late and weve got lots ter do tomorrow, said Hagrid loudly. Gotta get up ter town, get all yer books an that.

He took off his thick black coat and threw it to Harry.

You can kip under that, he said. Don mind if it wriggles a bit, I think I still got a couple o dormice in one o the pockets.

 

DIAGON ALLEY

 

Harry woke early the next morning. Although he could tell it was daylight, he kept his eyes shut tight.

It was a dream, he told himself firmly. I dreamed a giant called Hagrid came to tell me I was going to a school for wizards. When I open my eyes Ill be at home in my cupboard.

There was suddenly a loud tapping noise.

 

And theres Aunt Petunia knocking on the door,

Harry thought, his heart sinking. But he still didnt open his eyes. It had been such a good dream.

 

Tap. Tap. Tap.

All right, Harry mumbled, Im getting up.

He sat up and Hagrids heavy coat fell off him. The hut was full of sunlight, the storm was over, Hagrid himself was asleep on the collapsed sofa, and there was an owl rapping its claw on the window, a newspaper held in its beak.

Harry scrambled to his feet, so happy he felt as though a large balloon was swelling inside him. He went straight to the window and jerked it open. The owl swooped in and dropped the newspaper on top of Hagrid, who didnt wake up. The owl then fluttered onto the floor and began to attack Hagrids coat.

Dont do that.

Harry tried to wave the owl out of the way, but it snapped its beak fiercely at him and carried on savaging the coat.

Hagrid! said Harry loudly. Theres an owl

Pay him, Hagrid grunted into the sofa.

What?

He wants payin fer deliverin the paper. Look in the pockets.

 

Hagrids coat seemed to be made of nothing

but

pocketsbunches of keys, slug pellets, balls of string, peppermint humbugs, teabags finally, Harry pulled out a handful of strange looking coins.

 

Give him five Knuts, said Hagrid sleepily.

Knuts?

The little bronze ones.

Harry counted out five little bronze coins, and the owl held out his leg so Harry could put the money into a small leather pouch tied to it. Then he flew off through the open window.

Hagrid yawned loudly, sat up, and stretched.

Best be off, Harry, lots ter do today, gotta get up ter London an buy all yer stuff fer school.

Harry was turning over the wizard coins and looking at them. He had just thought of something that made him feel as though the happy balloon inside him had got a puncture.

UmHagrid?

Mm? said Hagrid, who was pulling on his huge boots.

I havent got any moneyand you heard Uncle Vernon last night he wont pay for me to go and learn magic.

Dont worry about that, said Hagrid, standing up and scratching his head. Dyeh think yer parents didnt leave yeh anything?

But if their house was destroyed

They didn keep their gold in the house, boy! Nah, first stop fer us is Gringotts. Wizards bank. Have a sausage, theyre not bad coldan I wouldn say no teh a bit o yer birthday cake, neither.

 

Wizards have

banks?

 

Just the one. Gringotts. Run by goblins.

Harry dropped the bit of sausage he was holding.

 

Goblins?

 

Yeahso yehd be mad ter try an rob it, Ill tell yeh that. Never mess with goblins, Harry. Gringotts is the safest place in the world fer anything yeh want ter keep safecept maybe Hogwarts. As a matter o fact, I gotta visit Gringotts anyway. Fer Dumbledore. Hogwarts business. Hagrid drew himself up proudly. He usually gets me ter do important stuff fer him. Fetchin you gettin things from Gringottsknows he can trust me, see.

Got everythin? Come on, then.

Harry followed Hagrid out onto the rock. The sky was quite clear now and the sea gleamed in the sunlight. The boat Uncle Vernon had hired was still there, with a lot of water in the bottom after the storm.

How did you get here? Harry asked, looking around for another boat.

Flew, said Hagrid.

 

Flew?

 

Yeahbut well go back in this. Not spposed ter use magic now Ive got yeh.

They settled down in the boat, Harry still staring at Hagrid, trying to imagine him flying.

Seems a shame ter row, though, said Hagrid, giving Harry another of his sideways looks. If I was tererspeed things up a bit, would yeh mind not mentionin it at Hogwarts?

Of course not, said Harry, eager to see more magic. Hagrid pulled out the pink umbrella again, tapped it twice on the side of the boat, and they sped off toward land.

Why would you be mad to try and rob Gringotts? Harry asked.

Spellsenchantments, said Hagrid, unfolding his newspaper as he spoke. They say theres dragons guardin the highsecurity vaults. And then yeh gotta find yer wayGringotts is hundreds of miles under London, see. Deep under the Underground. Yehd die of hunger tryin ter get out, even if yeh did manage ter get yer hands on summat.

 

Harry sat and thought about this while Hagrid read his newspaper, the

Daily Prophet.

Harry had learned from Uncle Vernon that people liked to be left alone while they did this, but it was very difficult, hed never had so many questions in his life.

 

Ministry o Magic messin things up as usual, Hagrid muttered, turning the page.

Theres a Ministry of Magic? Harry asked, before he could stop himself.

Course, said Hagrid. They wanted Dumbledore fer Minister, o course, but hed never leave Hogwarts, so old Cornelius Fudge got the job. Bungler if ever there was one. So he pelts Dumbledore with owls every morning, askin fer advice.

 

But what does a Ministry of Magic

do?

 

Well, their main job is to keep it from the Muggles that theres still witches an wizards up an down the country.

Why?

 

Why?

Blimey, Harry, everyoned be wantin magic solutions to their problems. Nah, were best left alone.

 

At this moment the boat bumped gently into the harbor wall. Hagrid folded up his newspaper, and they clambered up the stone steps onto the street.

Passersby stared a lot at Hagrid as they walked through the little town to the station. Harry couldnt blame them. Not only was Hagrid twice as tall as anyone else, he kept pointing at perfectly ordinary things like parking meters and saying loudly, See that, Harry? Things these Muggles dream up, eh?

 

Hagrid, said Harry, panting a bit as he ran to keep up, did you say there are

dragons

at Gringotts?

 

Well, so they say, said Hagrid. Crikey, Id like a dragon.

 

Youd

like

one?

 

Wanted one ever since I was a kidhere we go.

They had reached the station. There was a train to London in five minutes time. Hagrid, who didnt understand Muggle money, as he called it, gave the bills to Harry so he could buy their tickets.

People stared more than ever on the train. Hagrid took up two seats and sat knitting what looked like a canary yellow circus tent.

Still got yer letter, Harry? he asked as he counted stitches. Harry took the parchment envelope out of his pocket.

Good, said Hagrid. Theres a list there of everything yeh need.

Harry unfolded a second piece of paper he hadnt noticed the night before, and read:

 





sdamzavas.net - 2017 . ! , ...