The Boy That Lived


The Boy That Lived


Mr an Mrs Dursley, o number fower, Privet Gate, were prood tae say that they were cheust the sam as ivry buddy else. They wur the last fowk ye’d expect tae hiv anything tae dae wae anything unkan or queer, bekis they cheust didna haad wi guff like that.

Mr Dursley wis the director o a firm caad Gruneens, that meed drills. He wis a muckle baest o a man, wi hairdly any neck, bit he haed a cracker o a moustache. Mrs Dursley wis thin an blonde-heidit, wae gey near twice the right amount o neck, which wis gey handy fur she spent most o her time geckan owre dykes, cheust tae see whit her neebors were daean. The Dursleys haed a peedie boy caad Dudley, an tae thur mind there wisna a better boy anywhaur.

The Dursleys haed ivry thing they waanted, but they haed a secret forby. An more than anything else, they were feart that some buddy wid finnd it oot. They didna think they could suffer it if any buddy funnd oot aboot the Potters. Mrs Potter wis Mrs Dursley’s sister, but they haedna seen each ither for a puckle o years; actually, Mrs Dursley pretendid that she didna hiv a sister, bekis har sister an har gisless, handless gapus o a husband wur as unDursleyish as hid wis possible tae be. The Dursleys were feart tae think whit the neebors wid say if the Potters arrived in Privet Gate. The Dursleys kent that the Potters haed a peedie boy as weel, but they haed nivver even seen him. This lad wis anither reason fur keepan the Potters awey; they didna waant Dudley mixan wi a bairn like that.

When Mr and Mrs Dursley woke up on the dour, dreich Tuesday wur story sterts, there wis notheen aboot the cloody sky ootside tae suggest that queer and unkan things wid soon stert tae happen aal owre the country. Mr Dursley hummed as he picked oot his most boran tie fur wark and Mrs Dursley gossiped awey happily as she wrestled a scraikan Dudley intae his high chair.

Nane o thaim noticed a muckle cattie-face flachteran past the window.

At half-eight, Mr Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs Dursley on the cheek an tried tae kiss Dudley goodbye but missed bekis Dudley wis hivvan a tantrum an flingan his cereal at the waals. ‘Peedie tyke,’ laughed Mr Dursley as he gaed fae the hoose. He lowped intae his ker, and backed oot o the drive o number fower.

It was on the corner o the street that he noticed the first sign o sometheen unkan. A cat, readan a map. For a peedie meenit, Mr Dursley didna ken whit it wis that he haed seen. Then he jerked his heid roond tae luk again. There wis a tabby cat standan on the corner o Privet Gate, but there wasna a map in sight. Whit could he o been thinkan o? It must hiv been a trick o the grimleens. Mr Dursley blinked, an gecked at the cat. It gecked back. As Mr Dursley drove roond the corner an up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. Noo it wis readan the sign that said Privet Drive – no, lukkan at the sign; cats couldna read maps or signs. Mr Dursley gaed himself a peedie shak, an pit the cat oot o his mind. As he drove tae the toon, he thowt o notheen but the muckle order o drills he wis hopan tae get that day.

But on the edge o the toon, drills were caad oot o his mind by sometheen else aaltaegethir. As he sat in the usual morneen traffic jam, he couldna help but notice that there seemed tae be a lock o folk gaan aboot wae unkan claes on. Folk in cloaks. Mr Dursley couldna be daean wae folk that dressed in queer claes. The get-ups ye saa on young folk! He supposed this wis some daft new fashion. He dirled his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a skrie o that gapuses standan close by. They were whisperan tae wan anither, aal excited. Mr Dursley wis horn mad tae see that a couple o them werena young at aal; for hivven’s sake that fillo haed tae be owlder than he wis, an wearin a gress-green cloak! The neck o him! But then it struck Mr Dursley that this wis likely some daft stunt – these folk were obviously collectan for sometheen … aye, that wid be it. The kers moved on, an a peedie blink later, Mr Dursley arrived in the Grunnings ker park, his mind back on drills.

Mr Dursley always sat wae his back tae the window on the ninth floor. If he haedna, he would likely hiv funnd it herder tae concentrate on drills that morneen. He didna see the cattie-faces flachteran past in broad daylight, though folk doon in the street did; they pointed an gecked, open-moothed as cattie-face eftir cattie-face flachtered owerheid. Most o them had nivver even seen a cattie-face, even at night time. Mr Dursley, hooivver, haed a perfectly normal, cattie-face free morneen. He skraiked at five different folk. He meed a puckle important phone calls, an he skraiked a bit more. He wis in a gey good mood until dinner time, when he thowt he’d rax his legs an dander across the road tae buy himself a pattie supper fae the chip shop fornent.

He’d forgotten aal aboot the folk in cloaks until he passed a group o them next tae the chip shop. He glowered at them as he gaed by. He didna ken why, but they meed him feel uneasy. This eens wis whisperan tae wan anither aal excited as weel, but he couldna see wan collectan tin. As he gaed by them grippan his pattie supper, he heard a peedie bit o whit they were sayan.

‘The Potters, that’s right, that’s whit I heard –‘

‘- aye, thur son, Harry –‘

Mr Dursley stoppit dead. Dreid flooded him. He lukked back at the whisperers as if he waanted tae say sometheen tae them, but thowt better o it.

He tekked back across the road, sped up tae his office, snapped at his secretary no tae disturb him, grabbed the phone an haed cheust aboot feeneeshed diallan his home number when he changed his mind. He pat the receiver back doon and stroked his moustache, thinkan … na, he wis bein daft. Potter wisno such an unusual name. He wis sure there were a lok o folk called Potter who haed a son called Harry. Come tae think o it, he wisna even sure his nephew wis called Harry. He’d nivver even seen the boy. It might o been Harry. Or Harold, There wis no point in fashan Mrs Dursley, sheu aalways got worked up at any mention o her sister. He didna blame her – if he’d a sister like that … but aal the sam, that folk in cloaks …

He funnd it a lot heirder tae concentrate on drills that afternoon, and when he left the building at five o clock, he wis still so feart that he walkit straight intae some buddy cheust ootside the door.

‘Sorry’, he grunted, as the peedie owld man stumbled an cheust aboot fell. It wis a few seconds afore Mr Dursley realised that the man was wearan a violet cloak. He didna seem the least bit pit oot at bean cheust aboot knocked tae the grund. Na, his face splet intae a wide smile and he said in a skweky voice that made passers-by geck: Don’t be sorry, me dear sir, for notheen could pit me oot the day! Rejoice, fur You-Ken-Who haes geen at last! Even Muggles like theesel should be celebratan, this happy, happy day!’

An the owld man hugged Mr Dursley aroond the middle, and walked off.

Mr Dursley stood rooted tae the spot. He haed been hugged by a complete stranger. He also thowt he haed nivver been caaled a Muggle, whitivver that wis. He wis rattled. He hurried tae his ker an set off home, hopan he wis imaginan things, which he haed nivver hoped afore, becis he didna approve o imagination.

As he pulled intae the driveway o number fower, the first thing he saa – and it didna improve his mood – wis the tabby cat he haed spotted in the morneen. It wis noo sittan on his gairdeen waal. He wis sure it wis the same een; it haed the same markeens aboot its eyes.

‘Kssst!’ Said Mr Dursley loodly.

The cat didna move. It cheust gaed him a soor luk. Wis this normal cat behaviour, Mr Dursley wondered? Tryan tae pull himsel taegethir, he let himsel intae the hoose. He wis still determined no tae mention anything tae his wife.

Mrs Dursley haed haed a fine, normal day. She telt him owre tea aal aboot Nixt Door’s problems wae thur dowter and hoo Dudley haed learned a new word (‘Nup!’). Mr Dursley tried tae act normal. Eftir Dudley haed been pit tae his bed, he gaed intae the living room in time tae catch the last report on the evening news.

‘And finally, bird-watchers everywhere hiv reported that the nation’s cattie-faces hiv been actan gey droll the day. Although cattie-faces usually hunt at night an are hairdly ivver seen in daylight, there have been hunders o sightings o these birds flyan ivvrywhar since grimleens this morneen. Experts canna explain why the owls hiv suddenly changed thur sleepan pattern.’ The newsreader allowed himsel a peedie grin. ‘Affil droll. And noo, owre tae Jim McGuffin wae the waathir. Gaan tae be any more showers o cattie-faces the night, Jim?’

‘Weel, Ted,’ said the waathirman, ‘I don’t ken aboot that, but it’s no only the cattie-faces that hiv been actan droll the day. Viewers fae as far apart as Brechin, Stromness and Brae hiv been phonan in tae tell me that instead o the rain I promised yesterday, thur haen a doonpour o shootan stars. Mibby folk hiv been celebratan Bonfire night early – it’s no till next week, folk! But I can promise a weet night the night.’

Mr Dursley sat frozen in his chair. Shootan stars aal owre the piece? Cattie-faces flyan by day light? Droll folk in cloaks aal owre the piece? An a whisper, a whisper aboot the Potters …

Mrs Dursley cam intae the sitteen-room kerryan twa cups o tea. It wis no good. He’d hiv tae say sometheen tae her. He cleared his thrapple nervously. ‘Er – Petunia, lass – you hivna heard fae your sister lately, hiv ye?

As he thowt, Mrs Dursley lukked gluffed an mad. Eftir aal, they usually pretended sheu didna hiv a sister.

‘Nup,’ sheu said sharply. ‘Whitwey?’

‘Droll stuff on the news,’ Mr Dursley mumbled. ‘Cattie-faces … shootan stars … and there wis a lot o droll lukkan critturs in toon the day …’

‘So?’ snapped Mrs Dursley.

‘Weel, I cheust thowt … mibby … it wis sometheen tae dae wae … you ken … her eens.

Mrs Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr Dursley wondered whether he dared tae tell her he’d heard the neem ‘Potter’. He decided he didna dare. Instead, he said, as casually as he could, ‘Thur son – he’d be aboot Dudley’s age noo, wid he no?’

‘I suppose so,’ said Mrs Dursley stiffly.

‘Whit’s his neem again? Howard, is it no?’

‘Harry. Nesty, tinky neem, if you ask me.’

‘Oh, yaas,’ said Mr Dursley, his hairt sinkan horribly. ‘Yaas, I ken whit ye mean.’

He didna say anither word on the subject as they gaed upstairs tae bed. When Mrs Dursley wis in the bathroom, Mr Dursley crept tae the bedroom widow and peered doon intae the front gairdeen. The cat wis still there. It wis staran doon Privet Gate as though it wis waitan for sometheen.

Wis he imaginan things? Could aal this hiv anything tae dae wi the Potters? If it did … if it got oot that they were related tae that pair o – weel, he didna think he could thole it.

The Dursleys got intae bed. Mrs Dursley fell asleep kweek but Mr Dursley lay waakened, turnan it aal owre in his mind. His last, comforting thowt afore faalan asleep wis that even if the Potters were involved, there wis no reason for them tae come near him an Mrs Dursley. The Potters kent very weel whit he an Petunia thowt aboot them and their kind … he couldna see hoo he an Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be gaan on. He yawned an rolled owre. It couldna affect them

Hoo very wrong he wis.

Mr Dursley might o been driftan intae an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the waal ootside wis showan no sign o sleepiness. It was sittan still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkanly of the faer corner o Privet Gate. It didna so much as quiver when a ker door slammed in the next street, nor when twa cattie-faces flauchtered owerheid. In fact, it wis gey near midnight when the cat moved at all.

A fillo appeared on the corner the cat haed been watchan, appeared so suddenly an silently ye’d hiv thowt he’d cheust popped oot o the grund. The cat’s tail twitched an its eyes nerrowed.

Notheen like this fillo haed ivver been seen in Privet Gate. He wis tall, thin an gey owld, lukkan at the silver o his hair an beard, which were both long enough tae tuck intae his belt. He wis wearan long robes, a purple cloak that swept tae the grund an high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light an sparkling ahint half-moon glesses an his nose wis gey long an crookit, like it haed been brokken a couple o times. This fillo’s neem wis Albus Dumbledore.

Albus Dumbledore didna seem tae realise that he haed cheust arrived in a street whar ivvrything fae his neem tae his boots wis unwelcome. He wis busy rummagan in his cloak, lukkan fur sometheen. But he didna seem tae realise that he wis beean watched, because he lukked up suddenly at the cat, which wis still staran at him fae the ither end o the street. For some reason, the sight o the cat seemed tae amuse him. He chuckled an muttered, ‘I should hiv kent.’

He haed funnd whit he wis lukkan fur in his inside pooch. It lukked like a silver cigarette lighter. He flicked it open, held it up in the air, an clicked it. The nearest streetlight gaed oot wi a peedie pop. He clicked it again – the next lamp flickered intae darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Pit-Ooter, until the only lights left in the whole street were twa peedie pinpricks faer awey, which wis the eyes o the cat watchan him. If any buddy lukked oot o thur window noo, even beady-eyed Mrs Dursley, they widna be able tae see anything that wis happenan doon on the pavement. Dumbledore slipped the Pit-Ooter back inside his cloak an set off doon the street tae nummer fower, whar he sat on the waal nixt tae the cat. He didna luk at it, but eftir a peedie meenit he spoke tae it.

‘Fancy seean you here, Professor McGonagall.’

He turned tae smile at the tabby, but it haed geen. Instead he wis smilan at a fairly soor-lukkan wife whar wis wearan square glesses exactly the shape o the markings the cat haed haed aboot its eyes. She wis wearan a cloak, teu, an emerald een. Her black hair wis drawn intae a tight bun. Sheu lukked fairly ruffled.

‘Hoo did ye ken it wis me?’ she asked.

‘Me dear Professor, Ah’m nivver seen a cat sit so stiffly.’

‘You’d be stiff if you’d been sittan on a haird dyke aal day.’ Said Professor McGonagall.

‘Aal day? When you couldo been celebratan? I must hiv passed a dizzen feasts an pairties on me wey here.’

Professor McGonagall sniffed, pretty mad.

‘Oh aye, ivvry buddy’s celebratan, right enough,’ sheu said impatiently. ‘Ye’d think they’d be a bit more careful, but no – even the Muggles hiv noticed sometheen’s gaan on. It wis on thur news. She jerked her heid back tae the Dursley’s dark sittan-room window. ‘I heard it. Flocks o cattie-faces … shootan stars … Weel, thur no completely daft. They were bound tae notice sometheen. Shootan stars doon in Brechin – I’ll bet that wis Dedalus Diggle. He nivver haed any more sense nor a sookan turkey.’

‘You canna blame them,’ said Dumbledore gently. ‘Wur no haen very muckle tae celebrate fur eleven year.’

‘I ken that,’ said Professor McGonagall, crabbitly. ‘But that’s no reason tae loss wur heids. Folk are bean doonright careless, oot on the streets in broad daylight, no even dressed in Muggle claes, swappan rumours.’

Sheu threw a sharp, sideways luk at Dumbledore here, as though sheu wis hopan he wid tell her sometheen, but he didna, so sheu gaed on: ‘A fine thing it wid be if, on the very day You-Ken-Whar seems tae hiv disappeared at last, the Muggles funnd oot abott is aal. I suppose he really haes geen, Dumbledore?

‘Aye, luks like it,’ said Dumbledore. ‘We hiv muckle tae be thankful for. Wid you like a Soor Ploom?’

‘A whit?’

‘A Soor Ploom. Thu’r a kind o Muggle sweet. Thu’r affil good.’

‘No, thank you,’ said Professor McGonnagall cowldly, as sheu didna think this wis the moment fur Soor Plooms. ‘As I say, even if You-Ken-Whar haes geen –‘

‘Me dear Professor, surely a sensible wife like yersel can caal him be his neem? Aal this ‘You-Ken-Whar’ bruck – fur eleven years I hiv been tryan tae persuade folk tae caal him be his proper neem: Voldemort.’ Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore, who wis unstickan twa Soor Plooms, seemed no tae notice. ‘It aal gets so confusan if we keep sayan ‘You-Ken-Whar’.’ Ah’m nivver seen any reason tae be feart o sayan Voldemort’s neem.’

‘I ken you hivna,’ said Professor McGonagall, soondan kindo exasperated and kindo admiran. ‘But yur different. Ivrybuddy kens yur the only een You-Ken – ach, aal right, Voldemort – wis feart fur.’

‘You flatter me,’ said Dumbledore calmly. ‘Voldemort haed pooers Ah’ll nivver hiv.’

‘Only because you’re too – weel – noble tae use them.’

‘It’s lucky it’s dark. I hivna blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey tellt me sheu likit me new lug-waarmers.’

Professor McGonagall shot a sharp luk at Dumbledore an said, ‘The cattie-faces are notheen tae the rumours that are flyan aboot. You ken whit everyone’s sayan? Aboot why he disappeared? An whit finally stopped him?

It seemed that Professor McGonagall haed reached the point sheu wis most anxious tae discuss, the real reason sheu haed been waitan on a cowld, herd dyke aal day, fur neither as a cat nor a wife haed sheu fixed Dumbledore wae such a piercan stare as sheu did noo. It wis plain that whitivver ‘ivrybuddy’ wis sayan, sheu wisno gaan tae believe it until Dumbledore tellt her it wis true. Dumbledore, hooivver, wis choosan anither Soor Ploom an didna answer.

‘Whit thur sayan,’ sheu pressed on, ‘is that last night Voldemort turned up in Godric’s Hollow. He gaed tae finnd the Potters. The rumour is that Lily an Cheemo Potter are – are – that thur deid.’

Dumbledore bowed his heid. Professor McGonagall gasped.

‘Lily an Cheemo … I canna believe it … I didna waant tae believe it … Oh, Albus …’

Dumbledore raxed oot an patted her on the shoulder. ‘I ken … I ken …’ he said heavily.

Professor McGonagall’s voice trembled as sheu gaed on. ‘That’s no aal. Thur sayan he tried tae kill the Potters’ son, Harry. But – he couldna. He couldna kill that peedie boy. Nobuddy kens why, or how, but thur sayan that when he couldna kill Harry Potter, Voldemort’s power somehow broke – an that’s why he’s gaen.’

Dumbledore nodded dourly.

‘It’s – it’s true?’ faltered Professor McGonagall. Eftir aal he’s done .. aal the folk he’s killed … he couldna kill a peedie boy? It’s cheust no real … o aal the things tae stop him … hoo in the neem o Heaven did Harry survive?’

‘We can only guess,’ said Dumbledore. ‘We may nivver ken.’

Professor McGonagall pulled oot a lace handkerchief an dabbed her eyes beneath her glesses. Dumbledore gaed a great sniff as he teuk a golden watch fae his pocket an examined it. It wis a gey droll watch. It haed twelve hands but no numbers; instead, peedie planets were movan aroond the edge. It must hiv made sense tae Dumbledore, though, fur he pat it back in his pooch an said, ‘Hagrid’s late. I suppose it was him that tellt you I’d be here, by the way?’

‘Aye,’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘An I don’t suppose you’re gaan tae tell my why yur here, o aal pieces?’

‘I’ve come tae bring Harry tae his aunt an uncle. Thur the only family he haes left noo.’

‘You don’t mean – you canna mean the folk who bide here?’ girned Professor McGonagall, jumpan tae her feet an pointan at nummer fower. ‘Dumbledore, you canna. I’ve been watchan them aal day. You couldna find twa folk that are less like us. An they’ve got this son – I seen him keekan his mither aal the wey up the street, skrekkan fur sweets. Harry Potter come an bide here!’

‘It’s the best piece fur him,’ said Dumbledore firmly. ‘His aunt an uncle will be able tae explain ivrything tae him when he’s owlder. I’ve written them a letter.’

‘A letter?’ repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sittan back doon on the dyke. ‘Really, Dumbledore, ye think ye can explain aal o this in a letter? This folk will nivver understand him! He’ll be famous – a legend – I widna be surprised if the day wis kent as Harry Potter Day in future – ivry bairn in wur world will ken his name!’

*          *          *


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