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Moving along, Harry is hit by a barrage of revelations and Vernon Dursley, to his apoplectic rage, has his home his by a barrage of owls. Poor man, the Hogwarts acceptance letter incident must have really traumatised him.

So to start with, Dudley is on the ground unable to move (but really, nearly kissed by a Dementor, I don't blame him) and Mrs Figg is raging finely at Mundungus Fletcher, who Harry immediately realises must have been the one he heard Disapparate. Also, she knows Dumbledore, because apparently:

Of course I know Dumbledore, who doesn’t know Dumbledore?

She's in a bit of a state though, fearing lurking Dementors everywhere. Harry, on the other hand, is remarkably calm.

Why didn’t you tell me you’re a Squib, Mrs Figg?’ asked Harry, panting with the effort to keep walking. ‘All those times I came round your house – why didn’t you say anything?

Dumbledore’s orders. I was to keep an eye on you but not say anything, you were too young. I’m sorry I gave you such a miserable time, Harry, but the Dursleys would never have let you come if they’d thought you enjoyed it.

Aww. But it could have been worse than looking at pictures of cats.

To Harry's bemusement she's all worried about the magic, and soundly beats up on Mundungus when he shows, both verbally and physically (handbag full of catfood, Harry deduces).

But I was getting rid of Dementors, I had to use magic – they’re going to be more worried about what Dementors were doing floating around Wisteria Walk, surely?

Oh, Harry, sweet summer child. This is the year of Gross Misuse of Government Power or Let's Just See How Unfair We Can Be, and here is where it starts!

Apparently they were to keep Harry from doing magic "at all costs", but as the "cat's among the pixies" there's no use "crying over spilt potion". I kind of love Mrs Figg. Meanwhile, Harry's lugging Dudley along best he can.

So,’ Harry panted, ‘Dumbledore’s ... been having ... me followed?’

‘Of course he has,’ said Mrs Figg impatiently. ‘Did you expect him to let you wander around on your own after what happened in June? Good Lord, boy, they told me you were intelligent ...

She drops him off at home, refusing to say anything else, and then she buggers off, quick as you like, despite Harry calling after her. I can practically feel the frustration rising!

The Dursleys imediately blames Harry, of course.

What have you done to my son?’ he said in a menacing growl.

‘Nothing,’ said Harry, knowing perfectly well that Uncle Vernon wouldn’t believe him.

I love the way they talk about Harry's wand though, it creates such a hilariously unintentional double entendre.

‘Was it – was it you-know-what, darling? Did he use – his thing?

And here come the owls!

OWLS!’ bellowed Uncle Vernon, the well-worn vein in his temple pulsing angrily as he slammed the kitchen window shut. ‘OWLS AGAIN! I WILL NOT HAVE ANY MORE OWLS IN MY HOUSE!’

The first one informs Harry that he's expelled and that his wand is to be immediately destroyed, ending with the cordial

Hoping you are well

I don't recall, do we ever meet Mafalda Hopkirk of the Improper Use of Magic Office? I'd like to see who sends these sort of letters.

Harry goes icy and numb, thinking it's all over, so he decides to make a run for it (understandably; he can't let his wand be destroyed).

In an almost dreamlike state, he pulled his wand out and turned to leave the kitchen.

Vernon Dursley tries to stop him, of course, because hindering Harry in whatever he tries to do is probably second nature by now.

Get out of the way,’ said Harry quietly.

‘You’re going to stay here and explain how my son –’

‘If you don’t get out of the way I’m going to jinx you,’ said Harry, raising the wand.

But he doesn't get any farther, because his friends start the counter attack. First out is Mr Weasly with a hastily scribbled note that Dumbledore is handling things and that Harry shouldn't go anywhere, trying Vernon's nerves coming with a second owl colliding with the kitchen window. Harry immediately starts to hope, and then he panics thinking he'll have to duel ministry officials to keep his wand.

His mind was racing ... he could run for it and risk being captured by the Ministry, or stay put and wait for them to find him here. He was much more tempted by the former course, but he knew Mr Weasley had his best interests at heart ... and after all, Dumbledore had sorted out much worse than this before.

He's still pretty calm, though, considering, isn't he? And still keeps his head in a crisis. I know there's an impression of this book that he's some out of control raging maniac, but I'm not sure how true that impression is. Things will get worse, of course...

Vernon refuses to give up his main point.

‘Who are all these ruddy owls from?’ he growled.

‘The first one was from the Ministry of Magic, expelling me,’ said Harry calmly. He was straining his ears to catch any noises outside, in case the Ministry representatives were approaching, and it was easier and quieter to answer Uncle Vernon’s questions than to have him start raging and bellowing. ‘The second one was from my friend Ron’s dad, who works at the Ministry.’

‘Ministry of Magic?’ bellowed Uncle Vernon. ‘People like you in government? Oh, this explains everything, everything, no wonder the country’s going to the dogs.’

I can't help it, Vernon is just intrinsically funny to me in his impotent rage, especially in contrast to Harry's calm explanations.

He tries to tell them about what happens, but Vernon and Petunia first just thinks Dudley is going insane and hearing voices.

despite the sense of numb dread that had settled on Harry since the arrival of the first owl, he felt a certain curiosity. Dementors caused a person to relive the worst moments of their life. What would spoiled, pampered, bullying Dudley have been forced to hear?

One wonders, doesn't one? Another clue that's breaking up the simplistic image presented in the first four books into facets.

Harry tries to explain that there were Dementors, and it's clear that Vernon is suspicious when:

They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,’ said Aunt Petunia.

Vernon goggles and Harrys' mind reels.

‘How d’you know that?’ he asked her, astonished.

Yeah, I was pretty astonished too! Petunia mostly seems to think she's said something disgusting, and not because the subject was Dementors. She has talked of the wizarding world, oh the shame!

Harry was stunned. Except for one outburst years ago, in the course of which Aunt Petunia had screamed that Harry’s mother had been a freak, he had never heard her mention her sister. He was astounded that she had remembered this scrap of information about the magical world for so long, when she usually put all her energies into pretending it didn’t exist.

A third owl zooms in to distract everybody bringing a message from the ministry that hey, Harry isn't expelled after all, and he can keep his wand! ... for now.

There is to be a hearing, and Harry is all ready to leave it at that for now, but Vernon needs to yell a bit more about what happened to Dudley.

DUDLEY!’ roared Uncle Vernon. ‘I want to know exactly what happened to my son!’

‘FINE!’ yelled Harry, and in his temper, red and gold sparks shot out of the end of his wand, still clutched in his hand.

He also managed to make his wand light up with "Lumos" without touching it back with the Dementors. Does this lead anywhere? Or maybe it's just lack of control? I think he's supposed to be a very powerful wizard. I'll keep an eye out.

In the middle of the explanation of Dementors (‘But what ARE Dementoids?’ asked Uncle Vernon furiously. ‘What do they DO?’) owl number four shows up.

‘FOR GOD’S SAKE!’ roared Uncle Vernon, pulling great clumps of hair out of his moustache, something he hadn’t been driven to do in a long time. ‘I WILL NOT HAVE OWLS HERE, I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS, I TELL YOU!’

Harry, used to ignoring the ravings of his crazy relatives, just opens it and is disappointed that it's not from Dumbledore even though it is from Sirius. It's basically a line telling him not to leave the house.

Harry found this such an inadequate response to everything that had happened tonight that he turned the piece of parchment over, looking for the rest of the letter

Hah, no wonder. And his temper rises again. He's just driven off two Dementors by himself! He could at least get a "well done". I don't exactly disagree, but it's amazing how different things look when you have the bigger picture. Harry just doesn't know how serious the situation is.

Both Mr Weasley and Sirius were acting as though he’d misbehaved, and were saving their tellings-off until they could ascertain how much damage had been done.

Vernon still has his mind on the important bit.

... a peck, I mean, pack of owls shooting in and out of my house. I won’t have it, boy, I won’t –’

‘I can’t stop the owls coming,’ Harry snapped, crushing Sirius’s letter in his fist.

He's annoyed all right!

And then his head starts to ache. I think it's significantly early; it's not conveying any particular emotion, and he has already started dreaming about the corridors with doors everywhere (it was in the first chapter).

Harry’s exhausted brain had ground back into action. Why had the Dementors come to Little Whinging? How could it be coincidence that they had arrived in the alleyway where Harry was? Had they been sent? Had the Ministry of Magic lost control of the Dementors? Had they deserted Azkaban and joined Voldemort, as Dumbledore had predicted they would?

These are all good questions, and he really hits the head on the nail: it can't really be a coincidence. Vernon simply thinks "with the triumphant air of a man reaching an unassailable conclusion" that Harry is on the run from the law (naturally).

Harry makes the reflection that I think most readers did as well: that "The arrival of the Dementors in Little Whinging seemed to have breached the great, invisible wall that divided the relentlessly non-magical world of Privet Drive and the world beyond." It has started to mingle, make simple things complicated. This book really is the book of complications in so many ways, not least in how Harry has a moment where he briefly sees Petunia in a whole new light.

"for the very first time in his life, Harry fully appreciated that Aunt Petunia was his mother’s sister.

She's the only one of the Dursleys who can understand something of what Voldemort is. Vernon is less impressed.

‘Hang on. This Lord Voldything’s back, you say.’


‘The one who murdered your parents.’


‘And now he’s sending Dismembers after you?’

‘Looks like it,’ said Harry.

So Vernon just figures, hang on, I can just throw him out! ... or so he thinks.

We were too damn soft for our own good, thought we could squash it out of you, thought we could turn you normal, but you’ve been rotten from the beginning and I’ve had enough – owls!

Yes, here comes the fifth one, crushing all Vernon's hopes. A howler for Petunia, with a pretty clear veiled threat.

.An awful voice filled the kitchen, echoing in the confined space, issuing from the burning letter on the table.

‘Remember my last, Petunia.’

Petunia says Harry must stay and then he's sent to bed, all questions unanswered.

To chapter three.

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