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Chapter no 2 – Vanishing Glass

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

IT’S been nearly ten years since the Dursleys awoke to find their nephew on the doorstep, but Privet Drive had hardly changed. The rising sun illuminated the neat front yard and made the brass number four on the Dursleys’ front door gleam. Sunlight crept into their living room, which was still almost the same as it had been the night Mr Dursley had watched the important news about the owls. Only the photos on the shelf above the fireplace really showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there were many photos of children who looked like big pink beach balls wearing different colored hats. But now Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby, and now the photos showed the fat, blond boy riding his first tricycle, riding the merry-go-round, playing on the computer with his father, being hugged and kissed by his mother. In that room there was absolutely no sign that there were other children living in the house.

Even though Harry Potter was still there, currently sleeping, but it wouldn’t be long now. His aunt, Petunia, was awake, and her loud voice was the first to break the silence of the morning.

“Get up! Wake up! Fast!”

Harry woke up with a start. Her aunt banged on the door again.

”Wake up!” he shrieked. Harry heard him walk towards the kitchen, then the sound of a frying pan being placed on the stove. Harry rolled onto his back again and tried to remember his interrupted dream. The dream is pleasant. There’s a flying motorbike. He felt he had had the same dream before.

His aunt was back at the door of his room. “Are you awake yet?” he demanded.

“Almost,” Harry answered.

“Come on, quickly. I want you to fry the bacon. Don’t let it burn. I want everything to be perfect on Dudley’s birthday.”

Harry complained. “What did you say?”

”No, it’s okay…”

Dudley’s birthday—how could he forget? Reluctantly Harry got off the bed and searched for socks. He found a pair under the bed, and after pulling a spider from one of them, he put the socks on. Harry was used to spiders, as the cupboard under the stairs was full of spiders, and that was where he slept.

After getting dressed, he went to the kitchen. The kitchen table was almost hidden under a pile of gifts for Dudley. It seems that Dudley got the new computer he wanted, not to mention a new television, and a racing bike. Why exactly Dudley wanted a racing bike was a mystery to Harry, because Dudley was fat and hated exercise—unless, of course, his form of exercise was punching other people. Dudley’s favorite punching bag was Harry, but Dudley rarely managed to hit him. Harry didn’t look fast, but he was very fast.

Maybe it had something to do with living in a dark closet, but Harry was small and skinny for his age. He even looked smaller and thinner than he really was because all his clothes were Dudley’s clothes, and Dudley was four times his size. Harry had a thin face, protruding knees, black hair, and brilliant green eyes. He wore round glasses that had a lot of tape on their frames because Dudley hit his nose so often. The only thing Harry liked about his appearance was the thin scar on his forehead that looked like a lightning strike. So far

as far as he remembered, the scar had been there for a long time and the first question he remembered asking Aunt Petunia was how he got the scar.

“In an accident when your parents died,” he said. “And don’t ask any more questions.”

Don’t ask questions — that’s the first rule if you want to live quietly with the Dursleys.

Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen while Harry was turning the meat. “Comb your hair!” he ordered, as a good morning greeting.

Once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over his newspaper and shouted that Harry needed a haircut. Harry must have had more haircuts than all his classmates at once. But just the same, his hair still grew like that—messy.

Harry was frying eggs when Dudley appeared in the kitchen with his mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. The face is wide and pink, the neck is short, the eyes are small, blue, watery. His thick, blonde hair stuck neatly to his chubby head. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like an angel baby. Meanwhile, Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig wearing a wig.

Harry put a plate of bacon and eggs on the table. This is difficult, because there is almost no space. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his prizes. His face immediately became sullen.

“Thirty-six,” he said, looking at his father and mother. “Two less than last year.”

“Honey, you haven’t counted Aunt Marge’s gifts, look, here they are under the gifts from Mummy and Daddy.”

“Okay, thirty-seven, then,” said Dudley, whose face was already red. Harry, who could already predict that Dudley’s anger would explode, quickly chewed on the meat. Who knows, Dudley might overturn the table.

Aunt Petunia apparently sensed the impending danger too, for she quickly said: “And we’ll buy you two more presents when we go on our trip. How’s it going, sweetie? Two additional prizes. OK, right?”

For a moment Dudley thought. It seems difficult for him. Finally he said slowly, “So I will have thirty… thirty…”

“Thirty-nine, smart boy,” said Aunt Petunia.

“Oh.” Dudley sat up hard and reached for the nearest package. “Alright.”

Uncle Vernon laughed.

“This little guy doesn’t want to lose, just like his father. You’re clever, Dudley!” He ruffled Dudley’s hair.

Just then the telephone rang and Aunt Petunia answered it while Harry and Uncle Vernon watched Dudley unpack a racing bike, a camera, a remote control toy airplane , sixteen computer games and a video recorder. He was tearing open the paper on which his gold watch was wrapped when Aunt Petunia reappeared looking angry and worried.

“Bad news, Vernon,” he said. “Mrs Figg broke her leg. So you can’t entrust it to him.” He jerked his head at Harry.

Dudley’s mouth dropped open in horror, but Harry was pleased. Every year, on Dudley’s birthday, his parents took him and a friend on a trip, to an amusement park, a hamburger stand, or to the movies. Harry was left behind, entrusted to Mrs Figg, a strange old woman who lived two streets away from Privet Drive. Harry hated living there. The whole house smells of cabbage and Mrs Figg makes him look at photos of all the cats he’s ever had.

“So how?” said Aunt Petunia, looking at Harry angrily, as if Harry had planned Mrs Figg’s illness. Harry knew he should feel sorry for Mrs Figg’s broken leg, but he reminded himself that it would be another year before he would have to look at the photos of Tibbles, Snowy, Mr Paws and Tufty.

“We could call Marge,” Uncle Vernon suggested. “Don’t be silly, Vernon, he hates that kid.”

The Dursleys often talked about Harry like this, as if the boy didn’t exist, or more precisely, as if he were something truly disgusting, like a snail.

“How about what-is-her-name, your friend—Yvonne?” “On holiday in Majorca,” said Aunt Petunia.

“You can leave me here,” Harry suggested hopefully (he would be able to watch a show he liked on television and maybe even try out Dudley’s computer).

Aunt Petunia looked like she was choking on eggs.

“And if we go home, the house will be destroyed?” he growled.

“I’m not blowing up the house,” said Harry, but they paid him no attention.

“I think we can take him to the zoo,” said Aunt Petunia quietly, “…and leave him in the car…”

“Our car is new, he can’t sit alone…”

Dudley started crying loudly. Actually, he didn’t really cry. He hadn’t cried in years. But he knew that if he scrunched up his face and roared, his mother would grant him everything he wanted.

“Dinky Duddydums, don’t cry, Mummy won’t let it ruin your special day!” Aunt Petunia exclaimed as she hugged Dudley.

“I… don’t… want… him… ii-come!” Dudley screamed between fake sobs. “He’s always ruining events!” He grinned evilly at Harry from between his mother’s arms.

Just then the doorbell rang. “Oh my gosh, they’re here!” said Aunt Petunia frantically—and a moment later Dudley’s best friend, Piers Polkiss, came in with his mother. Piers is a skinny kid with a face like a rat. He was usually the one holding the kids’ arms behind their backs while Dudley spanked them. Dudley immediately stopped pretending to cry.

Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn’t believe his luck, was sitting in the back seat of the car with Piers and Dudley, heading to the zoo for the first time in his life. His uncle and aunt didn’t know what else to do, but before they left, Uncle Vernon asked him to talk.

“I’m warning you,” he said, his broad purple face dangerously close to Harry’s. “I’m warning you now—if you do the slightest bit strange—you’ll be locked in that cupboard until Christmas.”

“I wouldn’t do anything,” said Harry, “really…” But Uncle Vernon didn’t believe it. Neither do the others.

The trouble was, strange things often happened around Harry, and there was no point in telling the Dursleys that it wasn’t him

causes those things to happen.

Once, Aunt Petunia, who was annoyed to see Harry come home from the barber but his hair looked the same, took kitchen scissors and cut Harry’s hair until it was very short, almost bald, except for his bangs which he deliberately left uncut to “hide the terrible scar.” Dudley roared with laughter at Harry, while Harry himself couldn’t sleep all night, imagining what it would be like at school the next day. He was always laughed at because his clothes were too big and his glasses were attached with tape. But the next morning, it turned out that his hair was exactly the same as it had been before Aunt Petunia shaved it. He was locked up for a week in his closet because of this, even though he tried to explain that he couldn’t explain how his hair could grow back so quickly.

On another occasion, Aunt Petunia forced him to wear Dudley’s disgusting old sweater (brown with black dots). The more Aunt Petunia forced it to pull it over Harry’s head, the smaller the sweater became, until finally it was only the size of a hand puppet’s shirt, and it was clear Harry wouldn’t be able to wear it. Aunt Petunia decided the sweater must have shrunk in the wash. And to Harry’s relief, he wasn’t punished for this.

But instead, he got into big trouble because he was found on the roof of the school kitchen. As usual Dudley’s gang was chasing him, and Harry was as surprised as the others when suddenly he was sitting on top of the chimney. Mr and Mrs Dursley received a letter from the Headmistress who was very angry because Harry had been climbing the school building. But actually all he did was (as he shouted to Uncle Vernon from inside his locked cupboard) jumped behind the big trash can outside the kitchen door. Harry guessed that when he jumped he must have been carried up by the wind.

But today everything will run smoothly. Even sitting with Dudley and Piers was acceptable, as long as he could spend the day not at school, in his cupboard, or in Mrs Figg’s cabbage-smelling living room.

While driving, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia. His hobby was complaining: people in his office, Harry, the deputies

people, Harry, banks, and Harry are just a few of his favorite topics. Today it’s a motorbike.

“… speeding like crazy, thugs don’t have much to do,” he commented when a motorbike overtook them.

“I once dreamed about a motorbike,” said Harry, suddenly remembering his dream. “The motorbike flew.”

Uncle Vernon almost hit the car in front of him. He turned around in his seat and shouted at Harry, his face like a giant beetroot with a moustache. “THE MOTORCYCLE DOESN’T FLY!”

Dudley and Piers giggled.

“I know motorbikes don’t fly,” said Harry. “It was just a dream.”

But Harry regretted what he had said. If there was another thing the Dursleys hated, it was Harry mentioning something that wasn’t supposed to happen, no matter if it was just a dream or even a cartoon. Apparently they thought Harry’s ideas were dangerous.

It was a sunny Saturday and the zoo was full of families. Mr and Mrs Dursley bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the entrance, and because the smiling girl in the ice cream van had already asked Harry what ice cream he wanted before they could ask Harry to leave, they bought him a lemon popsicle which cheap. Quite delicious too, thought Harry as he licked his popsicle while watching the gorilla scratch his head and looked like Dudley, only not blonde.

Harry had never been so happy. He was careful, walking a little away from the Dursleys, so that Dudley and Piers, who by lunchtime were getting bored with the animals, didn’t return to their favorite pastime, which was beating them. They ate at the zoo restaurant and when Dudley got angry because his ice cream wasn’t big enough, Uncle Vernon bought him a bigger portion and Harry was allowed to finish his first order.

Harry felt later that he should have known that this kind of fun couldn’t go on forever.

After lunch they visited the reptile house. Inside the reptile house is cool and dark, with lighted windows along the walls. Behind the glass, various kinds of lizards and snakes crawled and slithered on pieces of wood and stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see

large poisonous cobras and giant pythons that can crush humans. Dudley soon found the biggest snake in the place. The snake could have wrapped itself twice around Uncle Vernon’s car and crushed it like a cracker tin—but at the moment it looked like it was being lazy. Actually, he was actually sleeping soundly.

Dudley stood with his nose pressed to the glass, looking at the shiny brown scroll.

“Get him to move,” he whined to his father. Uncle Vernon tapped on the glass, but the snake remained silent.

“Knock again,” Dudley said. Uncle Vernon rapped hard with his knuckles, but the snake continued to sleep.

“So boring,” Dudley complained. He gone.

Harry moved closer to the glass and looked closely at the snake. He wouldn’t be surprised if the snake died of boredom. No friends other than idiots tapping on the glass, trying to annoy him all day. This was worse than using the cupboard as a bedroom, with the only visitor being Aunt Petunia banging on the door to wake him up—at least he would be able to get to another part of the house.

The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, he lifted his head until his eyes were level with Harry’s.

The eyes blinked .

Harry stared. Then he quickly looked around to make sure no one was looking. Turns out there wasn’t any. He looked back at the snake and winked back too.

The snake bobbed its head at Uncle Vernon and Dudley, then looked up at the ceiling. His glance at Harry seemed to clearly say, “It’s like that all the time.”

“I know,” Harry muttered through the glass, although he wasn’t sure the snake could hear him. “That must be really annoying.”

The snake nodded excitedly. “Where are you from?” Harry asked.

The snake moved its tail towards the small board next to the glass.

Harry read the writing.

Boa Belit, Brazil .

“Enakkah di sana?”

The boa constrictor pointed with its tail at the board again and Harry continued reading: The snakes here were bred in zoos . “Oh, I see—so you’ve never been to Brazil?”

As the snake shook its head, a deafening scream behind Harry made them both jump. ”DUDLEY! MR DURSLEY! HERE LOOK, THE SNAKE IS WHICHING! YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT!”

Dudley came stumbling over.

“Move,” he said, punching Harry in the chest. Not expecting to be attacked, Harry fell on the concrete floor. What happened next happened so fast that no one saw how it happened. One moment Piers and Dudley were standing pressed against the glass, the next second they were jumping back with screams of horror.

Harry sat gaping: the glass on the front of the snake’s cage had disappeared. The giant snake unrolled its body quickly, sliding across the floor. The visitors to the reptile house screamed in panic and ran for the exit.

As the snake hurtled past him, Harry could have sworn he heard a low hissing voice say, “Brazil, I’m coming soon… Thanks, Amigo.”

The reptile house keeper was shocked and stunned.

“But the glass,” he kept saying, “where is the glass?”

The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of strong, sweet tea while apologizing incessantly. Piers and Dudley could only scream. As far as Harry could see, the snake did nothing, except playfully clamp its mouth near Dudley and Piers’ heels as it passed. But when they got back to Uncle Vernon’s car, Dudley told how the snake almost bit his leg off, while Piers swore it tried to twist him to death. But what was worst, at least for Harry, was that Piers had calmed down enough to say: “Harry was talking to the snake. Yes, right, Harry?”

Uncle Vernon waited until Piers had left their house, before he started picking on Harry. Uncle Vernon was so angry he could barely speak. All he could say was: “Go away—the cupboard—stay there

—not eating,” before he slumped in his chair and Aunt Petunia quickly ran to get him a large glass of brandy .

A long time later Harry lay still in his dark cupboard, wishing he had a watch. He had no idea what time it was and he wasn’t sure the Dursleys were asleep either. Before they went to sleep, it would be very risky if he went out and sneaked into the kitchen to get food.

He had lived with the Dursleys for ten years, ten years full of suffering. As far as he could remember, ever since he was a baby and his parents died in a car accident. Sometimes, if he thought hard about the long boring hours in his cupboard, a strange sight appeared in his mind: a flash of blinding green light and a hot pain in his forehead. He assumed this must have been when the collision occurred, although he couldn’t imagine where the green light had come from. He couldn’t remember his parents at all. His uncle and aunt never talked about them, and of course he was forbidden from asking questions. There were no photos of his parents in the Dursleys’ house.

When he was younger, Harry often fantasized about an unknown family coming to take him away, but this never happened. The Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes he feels (or wishes) that strangers on the street know him. And they were also very strange foreigners. Once a little man wearing a purple hat bowed to him while he was shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley. After angrily asking Harry if he knew the man, Aunt Petunia hurriedly ushered them out of the shop without buying anything. A wild-looking old woman dressed all in green waved cheerfully at him from the bus. A bald man wearing a purple long coat even shook his hand on the street yesterday and then just left without saying anything. The strangest thing about these people was that they seemed to disappear as soon as Harry wanted to get a better look.

At school, Harry had no friends. Everyone knew that Dudley’s gang hated Harry Potter, who was a freak in his second-hand clothes

his greatness and his glasses with broken frames, and no one dared to stand up to Dudley’s gang.

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