THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE QUARTERS
HarryТs last month with the Dursleys wasnТt fun. True, Dudley was now so scared of Harry he wouldnТt stay in the same room, while Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon didnТt shut Harry in his cupboard, force him to do anything, or shout at himЧin fact, they didnТt speak to him at all. Half terrified, half furious, they acted as though any chair with Harry in it were empty. Although this was an improvement in many ways, it did become a bit depressing after a while.
Harry kept to his room, with his new owl for company. He had decided to call her Hedwig, a name he had found in A History of Magic. His school books were very interesting. He lay on his bed reading late into the night, Hedwig swooping in and out of the open window as she pleased. It was lucky that Aunt Petunia didnТt come in to vacuum anymore, because Hedwig kept bringing back dead mice. Every night before he went to sleep, Harry ticked off another day on the piece of paper he had pinned to the wall, counting down to September the first.
On the last day of August he thought heТd better speak to his aunt and uncle about getting to KingТs Cross station the next day, so he went down to the living room where they were watching a quiz show on television. He cleared his throat to let them know he was there, and Dudley screamed and ran from the room.
Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening.
УErЧI need to be at KingТs Cross tomorrow toЧto go to Hogwarts.Ф
Uncle Vernon grunted again.
УWould it be all right if you gave me a lift?Ф
Grunt. Harry supposed that meant yes.
He was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actually spoke.
УFunny way to get to a wizardsТ school, the train. Magic carpets all got punctures, have they?Ф
Harry didnТt say anything.
УWhere is this school, anyway?Ф
УI donТt know,Ф said Harry, realizing this for the first time. He pulled the ticket Hagrid had given him out of his pocket.
УI just take the train from platform nine and three-quarters at eleven oТclock,Ф he read.
His aunt and uncle stared.
УNine and three-quarters.Ф
УDonТt talk rubbish,Ф said Uncle Vernon. УThere is no platform nine and three-quarters.Ф
УItТs on my ticket.Ф
УBarking,Ф said Uncle Vernon, Уhowling mad, the lot of them. YouТll see. You just wait. All right, weТll take you to KingТs Cross. WeТre going up to London tomorrow anyway, or I wouldnТt bother.Ф
УWhy are you going to London?Ф Harry asked, trying to keep things friendly.
УTaking Dudley to the hospital,Ф growled Uncle Vernon. УGot to have that ruddy tail removed before he goes to Smeltings.Ф
Harry woke at five oТclock the next morning and was too excited and nervous to go back to sleep. He got up and pulled on his jeans because he didnТt want to walk into the station in his wizardТs robesЧheТd change on the train. He checked his Hogwarts list yet again to make sure he had everything he needed, saw that Hedwig was shut safely in her cage, and then paced the room, waiting for the Dursleys to get up. Two hours later, HarryТs huge, heavy trunk had been loaded into the DursleysТ car, Aunt Petunia had talked Dudley into sitting next to Harry, and they had set off.
They reached KingТs Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernon dumped HarryТs trunk onto a cart and wheeled it into the station for him. Harry thought this was strangely kind until Uncle Vernon stopped dead, facing the platforms with a nasty grin on his face.
УWell, there you are, boy. Platform nineЧplatform ten. Your platform should be somewhere in the middle, but they donТt seem to have built it yet, do they?Ф