哈利·波特与凤凰社
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


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    CHAPTER ONE - Dudley Demented
    
    The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive. Cars that were usually gleaming stood dusty in their drives and lawns that were once emerald green lay parched and yellowing - 'for the use of hosepipes had been banned due to drought. Deprived of their usual car-washing and lawn-mowing pursuits, the inhabitants of Privet Drive had retreated into the shade of their cool houses, windows thrown wide in the hope of tempting in a nonexistent breeze. The only person left outdoors was a teenage boy who was lying flat on his back in a flowerbed outside number four.
    He was a skinny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who had the pinched, slightly unhealthy look of someone who has grown a lot in a short space of time. His jeans were torn and dirty, his T-shirt baggy and faded, and the soles of his trainers were peeling away from the uppers. Harry Potters appearance did not endear him to the neighbours, who were the sort of people who thought scruffiness ought to be punishable by law, but as he had hidden himself behind a large hydrangea bush this evening he was quite invisible to passers-by. In fact, the only way he would be spotted was if his Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia stuck their heads out of the living-room window and looked straight down into the flowerbed below.
    On the whole, Harry thought he was to be congratulated on his idea of hiding here. He was not, perhaps, very comfortable lying on the hot, hard earth but, on the other hand, nobody was glaring at him, grinding their teeth so loudly that he could not hear the news, or shooting nasty questions at him, as had happened every time he had tried sitting down in the living room to watch television with his aunt and uncle.
    Almost as though this thought had fluttered through the open window, Vernon Dursley, Harry's uncle, suddenly spoke.
    'Glad to see the boy's stopped trying to butt in. Where is he, anyway?'
    'I don't know,' said Aunt Petunia, unconcerned. 'Not in the house.'
    Uncle Vernon grunted.
    'Watching the news . . .' he said scathingly. 'I'd like to know what he's really up to. As if a normal boy cares what's on the news - 'Dudley hasn't got a clue what's going on; doubt he knows who the Prime Minister is! Anyway, it's not as if there'd be anything about his lot on our news - '
    'Vernon, shh!' said Aunt Petunia. The window's open!'
    'Oh - yes - sorry, dear.'
    The Dursleys fell silent. Harry listened to a jingle about Fruit 'n' Bran breakfast cereal while he watched Mrs Figg, a batty cat-loving old lady from nearby Wisteria Walk, amble slowly past. She was frowning and muttering to herself. Harry was very pleased he was concealed behind the bush, as Mrs Figg had recently taken to asking him round for tea whenever she met him in the street. She had rounded the corner and vanished from view before Uncle Vernon's voice floated out of the window again.
    'Dudders out for tea?'
    'At the Polkisses',' said Aunt Petunia fondly. 'He's got so many little friends, he's so popular . . .'
    Harry suppressed a snort with difficulty. The Dursleys really were astonishingly stupid about their son, Dudley. They had swallowed all his dim-witted lies about having tea with a different member of his gang every night of the summer holidays. Harry knew perfectly well that Dudley had not been to tea anywhere; he and his gang spent every evening vandalising the play park, smoking on street corners and throwing stones at passing cars and children. Harry had seen them at it during his evening walks around Little Whinging; he had spent most of the holidays wandering the streets, scavenging newspapers from bins along the way.
    The opening notes of the music that heralded the seven o'clock news reached Harry's ears and his stomach turned over. Perhaps tonight - after a month of waiting - would be the night.
    'Record numbers of stranded holidaymakers fill airports as the Spanish baggage-handlers' strike reaches its second week - '
    'Give 'em a lifelong siesta, I would,' snarled Uncle Vernon over the end of the newsreaders sentence, but no matter: outside in the flowerbed, Harry's stomach seemed to unclench. If anything had happened, it would surely have been the first item on the news; death and destruction were more important than stranded holidaymakers.
    He let out a long, slow breath and stared up at the brilliant blue sky. Every day this summer had been the same: the tension, the expectation, the temporary relief, and then mounting tension again . . . and always, growing more insistent all the time, the question of why nothing had happened yet.
    He kept listening, just in case there was some small clue, not recognised for what it really was by the Muggles - an unexplained disappearance, perhaps, or some strange accident . . . but the baggage-handlers' strike was followed by news about the drought in the Southeast ('I hope he's listening next door!' bellowed Uncle Vernon. 'Him with his sprinklers on at three in the morning!'), then a helicopter that had almost crashed in a field in Surrey, then a famous actress's divorce from her famous husband ('As if we're interested in their sordid affairs,' sniffed Aunt Petunia, who had followed the case obsessively in every magazine she could lay her bony hands on).
    Harry closed his eyes against the now blazing evening sky as the newsreader said, '- and finally, Bungy the budgie has found a novel way of keeping cool this summer. Bungy, who lives at the Five Feathers in Barnsley, has learned to water ski! Mary Dorkins went to find out more.'
    Harry opened his eyes. If they had reached water-skiing budgerigars, there would be nothing else worth hearing. He rolled cautiously on to his front and raised himself on to his knees and elbows, preparing to crawl out from under the window.
    He had moved about two inches when several things happened in very quick succession.
    A loud, echoing crack broke the sleepy silence like a gunshot; a cat streaked out from under a parked car and flew out of sight; a shriek, a bellowed oath and the sound of breaking china came from the Dursleys' living room, and as though this was the signal Harry had been waiting for he jumped to his feet, at the same time pulling from the waistband of his jeans a thin wooden wand as if he were unsheathing a sword - but before he could draw himself up to full height, the top of his head collided with the Dursleys' open window. The resultant crash made Aunt Petunia scream even louder.
    Harry felt as though his head had been split in two. Eyes streaming, he swayed, trying to focus on the street to spot the source of the noise, but he had barely staggered upright when two large purple hands reached through the open window and closed tightly around his throat.
    'Put - it - away!' Uncle Vernon snarled into Harry's ear. 'Now! Before - anyone - sees!'
    'Get - off - me!' Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncle's sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaining a firm grip on his raised wand; then, as the pain in the top of Harry's head gave a particularly nasty throb, Uncle Vernon yelped and released Harry as though he had received an electric shock. Some invisible force seemed to have surged through his nephew, making him impossible to hold.
    Panting, Harry fell forwards over the hydrangea bush, straightened up and stared around. There was no sign of what had caused the loud cracking noise, but there were several faces peering through various nearby windows. Harry stuffed his wand hastily back into his jeans and tried to look innocent.
    'Lovely evening!' shouted Uncle Vernon, waving at Mrs Number Seven opposite, who was glaring from behind her net curtains. 'Did you hear that car backfire just now? Gave Petunia and me quite a turn!'
    He continued to grin in a horrible, manic way until all the curious neighbours had disappeared from their various windows, then the grin became a grimace of rage as he beckoned Harry back towards him.
    Harry moved a few steps closer, taking care to stop just short of the point at which Uncle Vernon's outstretched hands could resume their strangling.
    'What the devil do you mean by it, boy?' asked Uncle Vernon in a croaky voice that trembled with fury.
    'What do I mean by what?' said Harry coldly. He kept looking left and right up the street, still hoping to see the person who had made the cracking noise.
    'Making a racket like a starting pistol right outside our - '
    'I didn't make that noise,' said Harry firmly.
    Aunt Petunia's thin, horsy face now appeared beside Uncle Vernon's wide, purple one. She looked livid.
    'Why were you lurking under our window?'
    'Yes - yes, good point, Petunia! What were you doing under our window, boy?'
    'Listening to the news,' said Harry in a resigned voice.
    His aunt and uncle exchanged looks of outrage.
    'Listening to the news! Again?'
    'Well, it changes every day, you see,' said Harry.
    'Don't you be clever with me, boy! I want to know what you're really up to - and don't give me any more of this listening to the news tosh! You know perfectly well that your lot - '
    'Careful, Vernon!' breathed Aunt Petunia, and Uncle Vernon lowered his voice so that Harry could barely hear him,' - that your lot don't get on our news!'
    That's all you know,' said Harry.
    The Dursleys goggled at him for a few seconds, then Aunt Petunia said, 'You're a nasty little liar. What are all those - ' she, too, lowered her voice so that Harry had to lip-read the next word, ' - owls doing if they're not bringing you news?'
    'Aha!' said Uncle Vernon in a triumphant whisper. 'Get out of that one, boy! As if we didn't know you get all your news from those pestilential birds!'
    Harry hesitated for a moment. It cost him something to tell the truth this time, even though his aunt and uncle could not possibly know how bad he felt at admitting it.
    'The owls . . . aren't bringing me news,' he said tonelessly.
    'I don't believe it,' said Aunt Petunia at once.
    'No more do I,' said Uncle Vernon forcefully.
    'We know you're up to something funny' said Aunt Petunia.
    'We're not stupid, you know,' said Uncle Vernon.
    'Well, that's news to me,' said Harry, his temper rising, and before the Dursleys could call him back, he had wheeled about, crossed the front lawn, stepped over the low garden wall and was striding off up the street.
    He was in trouble now and he knew it. He would have to face his aunt and uncle later and pay the price for his rudeness, but he: did not care very much just at the moment; he had much more pressing matters on his mind.
    Harry was sure the cracking noise had been made by someone Apparating or Disapparating. It was exactly the sound Dobby the house-elf made when he vanished into thin air. Was it possible that Dobby was here in Privet Drive? Could Dobby be following him right at this very moment? As this thought occurred he wheeled around and stared back down Privet Drive, but it appeared to be completely deserted and Harry was sure that Dobby did not know how to become invisible.
    He walked on, hardly aware of the route he was taking, for he had pounded these streets so often lately that his feet carried him to his favourite haunts automatically. Every few steps he glanced back over his shoulder. Someone magical had been near him as he lay among Aunt Petunia's dying begonias, he was sure of it. Why hadn't they spoken to him, why hadn't they made contact, why were they hiding now?
    And then, as his feeling of frustration peaked, his certainty leaked away.
    Perhaps it hadn't been a magical sound after all. Perhaps he was so desperate for the tiniest sign of contact from the world to which he belonged that he was simply overreacting to perfectly ordinary noises. Could he be sure it hadn't been the sound of something breaking inside a neighbour's house?
    Harry felt a dull, sinking sensation in his stomach and before he knew it the feeling of hopelessness that had plagued him all summer rolled over him once again.
    Tomorrow morning he would be woken by the alarm at five o'clock so he could pay the owl that delivered the Daily Prophet - but was there any point continuing to take it? Harry merely glanced at the front page before throwing it aside these days; when the idiots who ran the paper finally realised that Voldemort was back it would be headline news, and that was the only kind Harry cared about.
    If he was lucky, there would also be owls carrying letters from his best friends Ron and Hermione, though any expectation he'd had that their letters would bring him news had long since been dashed.
    We can't say much about you-know-what, obviously . . . We've been told not to say anything important in case our letters go astray . . . We're quite busy but I can't give you details here . . . There's a fair amount going on, we'll tell you everything when we see you . . .
    But when were they going to see him? Nobody seemed too bothered with a precise date. Hermione had scribbled I expect we'll be seeing you quite soon inside his birthday card, but how soon was soon? As far as Harry could tell from the vague hints in their letters, Hermione and Ron were in the same place, presumably at Ron's parents' house. He could hardly bear to think of the pair of them having fun at The Burrow when he was stuck in Privet Drive. In fact, he was so angry with them he had thrown away, unopened, the two boxes of Honeydukes chocolates they'd sent him for his birthday. He'd regretted it later, after the wilted salad Aunt Petunia had provided for dinner that night.
    And what were Ron and Hermione busy with? Why wasn't he, Harry, busy? Hadn't he proved himself capable of handling much more than them? Had they all forgotten what he had done? Hadn't it been he who had entered that graveyard and watched Cedric being murdered, and been tied to that tombstone and nearly killed?
    Don't think about that, Harry told himself sternly for the hundredth time that summer. It was bad enough that he kept revisiting the graveyard in his nightmares, without dwelling on it in his waking moments too.
    He turned a corner into Magnolia Crescent; halfway along he passed the narrow alleyway down the side of a garage where he had first clapped eyes on his godfather. Sirius, at least, seemed to understand how Harry was feeling. Admittedly, his letters were just as empty of proper news as Ron and Hermione's, but at least they contained words of caution and consolation instead of tantalising hints: I know this must be frustrating for you . . . Keep your nose clean and everything will be OK . . .Be careful and don't do anything rash . . .
    Well, thought Harry, as he crossed Magnolia Crescent, turned into Magnolia Road and headed towards the darkening play park, he had (by and large) done as Sirius advised. He had at least resisted the temptation to tie his trunk to his broomstick and set off for The Burrow by himself. In fact, Harry thought his behaviour had been very good considering how frustrated and angry he felt at being stuck in Privet Drive so long, reduced to hiding in flowerbeds in the hope of hearing something that might point to what Lord Voldemort was doing. Nevertheless, it was quite galling to be told not to be rash by a man who had served twelve years in the wizard prison, Azkaban, escaped, attempted to commit the murder he had been convicted for in the first place, then gone on the run with a stolen Hippogriff.
    Harry vaulted over the locked park gate and set off across the parched grass. The park was as empty as the surrounding streets. When he reached the swings he sank on to the only one that Dudley and his friends had not yet managed to break, coiled one arm around the chain and stared moodily at the ground. He would not be able to hide in the Dursleys' flowerbed again. Tomorrow, he would have to think of some fresh way of listening to the news. In the meantime, he had nothing to look forward to but another restless, disturbed night, because even when he escaped the nightmares about Cedric he had unsettling dreams about long dark corridors, all finishing in dead ends and locked doors, which he supposed had something to do with the trapped feeling he had when he was awake. Often the old scar on his forehead prickled uncomfortably, but he did not fool himself that Ron or Hermione or Sirius would find that very interesting any more. In the past, his scar hurting had warned that Voldemort was getting stronger again, but now that Voldemort was back they would probably remind him that its regular irritation was only to be expected . . . nothing to worry about . . . old news . . .
    The injustice of it all welled up inside him so that he wanted to yell with fury. If it hadn't been for him, nobody would even have known Voldemort was back! And. his reward was to be stuck in Little Whinging for four solid weeks, completely cut off from the magical world, reduced to squatting among dying begonias so hat he could hear about water-skiing budgerigars! How could Dumbledore have forgotten him so easily? Why had Ron and Hermione got together without inviting him along, too? How much longer was he supposed to endure Sirius telling him to sit tight and be a good boy; or resist the temptation to write to the stupid Daily Prophet and point out that Voldemort had returned? These curious thoughts whirled around in Harry's head, and his insides writhed with anger as a sultry, velvety night fell around him, the air full of the smell of warm, dry grass, and the only sound that of the low grumble of traffic on the road beyond the park railings. He did not know how long he had sat on the swing before the sound of voices interrupted his musings and he looked up. The streetlamps from the surrounding roads were casting a misty glow strong enough to silhouette a group of people making their way across the park. One of them was singing a loud, crude song. The others were laughing. A soft ticking noise came from several expensive racing bikes that they were wheeling along.
    Harry knew who those people were. The figure in front was unmistakeably his cousin, Dudley Dursley wending his way home, accompanied by his faithful gang.
    Dudley was as vast as ever, but a year's hard dieting and the discovery of a new talent had wrought quite a change in his physique. As Uncle Vernon delightedly told anyone who would listen, Dudley had recently become the Junior Heavyweight Inter-school Boxing Champion of the Southeast. 'The noble sport', as Uncle Vernon called it, had made Dudley even more formidable than he had seemed to Harry in their primary school days when he had served as Dudley's first punchball. Harry was not remotely afraid of his cousin any more but he still didn't think that Dudley earning to punch harder and more accurately was cause for celebration. Neighbourhood children all around were terrified of him - even more terrified than they were of 'that Potter boy' who, they lad been warned, was a hardened hooligan and attended St Brutus's secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys.
    Harry watched the dark figures crossing the grass and wondered who they had been beating up tonight. Look round, Harry found himself thinking as he watched them. Come on . . . look round . . . I'm sitting here all alone . . . come and have a go . . .
    If Dudley's friends saw him sitting here, they would be sure to make a beeline for him, and what would Dudley do then? He wouldn't want to lose face in front of the gang, but he'd be terrified of provoking Harry . . . it would be really fun to watch Dudley's dilemma, to taunt him, watch him, with him powerless to respond . . . and if any of the others tried hitting Harry, he was ready - he had his wand. Let them try . . . he'd love to vent some of his frustration on the boys who had once made his life hell.
    But they didn't turn around, they didn't see him, they were almost at the railings. Harry mastered the impulse to call after them . . . seeking a fight was not a smart move . . . he must not use magic he would be risking expulsion again.
    The voices of Dudley's gang died away; they were out of sight, heading along Magnolia Road.
    There you go, Sirius, Harry thought dully. Nothing rash. Kept my nose clean. Exactly the opposite of what you'd have done.
    He got to his feet and stretched. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon seemed to feel that whenever Dudley turned up was the right time to be home, and any time after that was much too late. Uncle Vernon had threatened to lock Harry in the shed if he came home alter Dudley ever again, so, stifling a yawn, and still scowling, Harry set off towards the park gate.
    Magnolia Road, like Privet Drive, was full of large, square houses with perfectly manicured lawns, all owned by large, square owners who drove very clean cars similar to Uncle Vernon's. Harry preferred Little Whinging by night, when the curtained windows made patches of jewel-bright colour in the darkness and he ran no danger of hearing disapproving mutters about his 'delinquent' appearance when he passed the householders. He walked quickly, so that halfway along Magnolia Road Dudley's gang came into view again; they were saying their farewells at the entrance to Magnolia Crescent. Harry stepped into the shadow of a large lilac tree and waited.
    '. . . squealed like a pig, didn't he?' Malcolm was saying, to guffaws from the others.
    'Nice right hook, Big D,' said Piers.
    'Same time tomorrow?' said Dudley.
    'Round at my place, my parents will be out,' said Gordon.
    'See you then,' said Dudley.
    'Bye, Dud!'
    'See ya, Big D!'
    Harry waited for the rest of the gang to move on before setting off again. When their voices had faded once more he headed around the corner into Magnolia Crescent and by walking very quickly he soon came within hailing distance of Dudley, who was strolling along at his ease, humming tunelessly.
    'Hey, Big D!'
    Dudley turned.
    'Oh,' he grunted. 'It's you.'
    'How long have you been "Big D" then?' said Harry.
    'Shut it,' snarled Dudley, turning away.
    'Cool name,' said Harry, grinning and falling into step beside is cousin. 'But you'll always be "Ickle Diddykins" to me.'
    'I said, SHUT IT!' said Dudley, whose ham-like hands had curled into fists.
    'Don't the boys know that's what your mum calls you?'
    'Shut your face.'
    'You don't tell her to shut her face. What about "Popkin" and "Dinky Diddydums", can I use them then?'
    Dudley said nothing. The effort of keeping himself from hitting Harry seemed to demand all his self-control.
    'So who've you been beating up tonight?' Harry asked, his grin fading. 'Another ten-year-old? I know you did Mark Evans two nights ago - '
    'He was asking for it,' snarled Dudley.
    'Oh yeah?'
    'He cheeked me.'
    'Yeah? Did he say you look like a pig that's been taught to walk on its hind legs? 'Cause that's not cheek, Dud, that's true.'
    A muscle was twitching in Dudley's jaw. It gave Harry enormous satisfaction to know how furious he was making Dudley; he felt as though he was siphoning off his own frustration into his cousin, the only outlet he had.
    They turned right down the narrow alleyway where Harry had first seen Sirius and which formed a short cut between Magnolia Crescent and Wisteria Walk. It was empty and much darker than the streets it linked because there were no streetlamps. Their footsteps were muffled between garage walls on one side and a high fence on the other.
    Think you're a big man carrying that thing, don't you?' Dudley said after a few seconds.
    'What thing?'
    That - that thing you are hiding.'
    Harry grinned again.
    'Not as stupid as you look, are you, Dud? But I s'pose, if you were, you wouldn't be able to walk and talk at the same time.'
    Harry pulled out his wand. He saw Dudley look sideways at it.
    'You're not allowed,' Dudley said at once. 'I know you're not. You'd get expelled from that freak school you go to.'
    'How d'you know they haven't changed the rules, Big D?'
    They haven't,' said Dudley, though he didn't sound completely convinced.
    Harry laughed softly.
    'You haven't got the guts to take me on without that thing, have you?' Dudley snarled.
    'Whereas you just need four mates behind you before you can beat up a ten year old. You know that boxing title you keep banging on about? How old was your opponent? Seven? Eight?'
    'He was sixteen, for your information,' snarled Dudley, 'and he was out cold for twenty minutes after I'd finished with him and he was twice as heavy as you. You just wait till I tell Dad you had that thing out -
    'Running to Daddy now, are you? Is his ickle boxing champ frightened of nasty Harry's wand?'
    'Not this brave at night, are you?' sneered Dudley.
    'This is night, Diddykins. That's what we call it when it goes all dark like this.'
    'I mean when you're in bed!' Dudley snarled.
    He had stopped walking. Harry stopped too, staring at his cousin.
    From the little he could see of Dudley's large face, he was wearing a strangely triumphant look.
    'What d'you mean, I'm not brave when I'm in bed?' said Harry, Completely nonplussed. 'What am I supposed to be frightened of, pillows or something?'
    'I heard you last night,' said Dudley breathlessly. Talking in your sleep. Moaning.'
    'What d'you mean?' Harry said again, but there was a cold, plunging sensation in his stomach. He had revisited the graveyard last night in his dreams.
    Dudley gave a harsh bark of laughter, then adopted a high-pitched whimpering voice.
    ' "Don't kill Cedric! Don't kill Cedric!" Who's Cedric - your boyfriend?'
    'I - you're lying,' said Harry automatically. But his mouth had gone dry. He knew Dudley wasn't lying - how else would he know about Cedric?
    ' "Dad! Help me, Dad! He's going to kill me, Dad! Boo hoo!'' '
    'Shut up,' said Harry quietly. 'Shut up, Dudley, I'm warning you!'
    ' "Come and help me, Dad! Mum, come and help me! He's killed Cedric! Dad, help me! He's going to - " Don't you point that thing at me!'
    Dudley backed into the alley wall. Harry was pointing the wand directly at Dudley's heart. Harry could feel fourteen years' hatred of Dudley pounding in his veins - what wouldn't he give to strike now, to jinx Dudley so thoroughly he'd have to crawl home like an insect, struck dumb, sprouting feelers . . .
    'Don't ever talk about that again,' Harry snarled. 'D'you understand me?'
    'Point that thing somewhere else!'
    'I said, do you understand me?'
    'Point it somewhere else!'
    'DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?'
    'GET THAT THING AWAY FROM - '
    Dudley gave an odd. shuddering gasp, as though he had been doused in icy water.
    Something had happened to the night. The star-strewn indigo sky was suddenly pitch black and lightless - the stars, the moon, the misty streetlamps at either end of the alley had vanished. The distant rumble of cars and the whisper of trees had gone. The balmy evening was suddenly piercingly, bitingly cold. They were surrounded by total, impenetrable, silent darkness, as though some giant hand had dropped a thick, icy mantle over the entire alleyway, blinding them.
    For a split second Harry thought he had done magic without meaning to, despite the fact that he'd been resisting as hard as he could - then his reason caught up with his senses - he didn't have the power to turn off the stars. He turned his head this way and that, trying to see something, but the darkness pressed on his eyes like a weightless veil.
    Dudley's terrified voice broke in Harry's ear.
    'W-what are you d-doing? St-stop it!'
    'I'm not doing anything! Shut up and don't move!'
    'I c-can't see! I've g-gone blind! I - '
    'I said shut up!'
    Harry stood stock still, turning his sightless eyes left and right. The cold was so intense he was shivering all over; goose bumps had erupted up his arms and the hairs on the back of his neck were standing up - he opened his eyes to their fullest extent, staring blankly around, unseeing.
    It was impossible . . . they couldn't be here . . . not in Little Whinging . . . he strained his ears . . . he would hear them before he saw them . . .
    'I'll t-tell Dad!' Dudley whimpered. 'W-where are you? What are you d-do-?'
    'Will you shut up?' Harry hissed, 'I'm trying to lis- '
    But he fell silent. He had heard just the thing he had been dreading.
    There was something in the alleyway apart from themselves, something that was drawing long, hoarse, rattling breaths. Harry felt a horrible jolt of dread as he stood trembling in the freezing air.
    'C-cut it out! Stop doing it! I'll h-hit you, I swear I will!'
    'Dudley, shut - '
    WHAM.
    A fist made contact with the side of Harry's head, lifting him off his feet. Small white lights popped in front of his eyes. For the second time in an hour Harry felt as though his head had been cleaved in two; next moment, he had landed hard on the ground and his wand had flown out of his hand.
    'You moron, Dudley!' Harry yelled, his eyes watering with pain as he scrambled to his hands and knees, feeling around frantically n the blackness. He heard Dudley blundering away, hitting the alley fence, stumbling.
    'DUDLEY, COME BACK! YOU'RE RUNNING RIGHT AT IT!'
    There was a horrible squealing yell and Dudley's footsteps topped. At the same moment, Harry felt a creeping chill behind him that could mean only one thing. There was more than one.
    'DUDLEY, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! WHATEVER YOU DO, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Wand!' Harry muttered frantically, his hands flying over the ground like spiders. 'Where's - wand - come on - lumos!'
    He said the spell automatically, desperate for light to help him n his search - and to his disbelieving relief, light flared inches from his right hand - the wand tip had ignited. Harry snatched it up, scrambled to his feet and turned around.
    His stomach turned over.
    A towering, hooded figure was gliding smoothly towards him, hovering over the ground, no feet or face visible beneath its robes, sucking on the night as it came.
    Stumbling backwards, Harry raised his wand.
    'Expecto patronum!'
    A silvery wisp of vapour shot from the tip of the wand and the Dementor slowed, but the spell hadn't worked properly; tripping over his own feet, Harry retreated further as the Dementor bore down upon him, panic fogging his brain - concentrate -
    A pair of grey, slimy, scabbed hands slid from inside the Dementor's robes, reaching for him. A rushing noise filled Harry's ears.
    'Expecto patronum!'
    His voice sounded dim and distant. Another wisp of silver smoke, feebler than the last, drifted from the wand - he couldn't do it any more, he couldn't work the spell.
    There was laughter inside his own head, shrill, high-pitched laughter . . . he could smell the Dementor's putrid, death-cold breath filling his own lungs, drowning him - think . . . something happy . . .
    But there was no happiness in him . . . the Dementor's icy fingers were closing on his throat - the high-patched laughter was growing louder and louder, and a voice spoke inside his head: 'Bow to death, Harry . . . it might even be painless . . . I would not know . . . I have never died
    He was never going to see Ron and Hermione again -
    And their faces burst clearly into his mind as he fought for breath.
    'EXPECTO PATRONUM!'
    An enormous silver stag erupted from the tip of Harry's wand; it's antlers caught the Dementor in the place where the heart should have been; it was thrown backwards, weightless as darkness, and as the stag charged, the Dementor swooped away, bat-like and defeated.
    'THIS WAY!' Harry shouted at the stag. Wheeling around, he sprinted down the alleyway, holding the lit wand aloft. 'DUDLEY? DUDLEY!'
    He had run barely a dozen steps when he reached them: Dudley was curled up on the ground, his arms clamped over his face. A second Dementor was crouching low over him, gripping his wrists in its slimy hands, prising them slowly, almost lovingly apart, lowering its hooded head towards Dudley's face as though about to kiss him.
    'GET IT!' Harry bellowed, and with a rushing, roaring sound, the silver stag he had conjured came galloping past him. The Dementor's eyeless face was barely an inch from Dudley's when the silver antlers caught it; the thing was thrown up into the air and, like its fellow, it soared away and was absorbed into the darkness; the stag cantered to the end of the alleyway and dissolved into silver mist.
    Moon, stars and streetlamps burst back into life. A warm breeze swept the alleyway. Trees rustled in neighbouring gardens and the mundane rumble of cars in Magnolia Crescent filled the air again.
    Harry stood quite still, all his senses vibrating, taking in the abrupt return to normality. After a moment, he became aware that his T-shirt was sticking to him; he was drenched in sweat.
    He could not believe what had just happened. Dementors here, in Little Whinging.
    Dudley lay curled up on the ground, whimpering and shaking. Harry bent down to see whether he was in a fit state to stand up, but then he heard loud, running footsteps behind him. Instinctively raising his wand again, he span on his heel to face the newcomer.
    Mrs Figg, their batty old neighbour, came panting into sight. Her grizzled grey hair was escaping from its hairnet, a clanking String shopping bag was swinging from her wrist and her feet were halfway out of her tartan carpet slippers. Harry made to stow his wand hurriedly out of sight, but -
    'Don't put it away, idiot boy!' she shrieked. 'What if there are more of them around? Oh, I'm going to kill Mundungus Fletcher!'
    
    第一章 达力遭遇摄魂怪
    
    夏季以来最炎热的一天终于快要结束了,女贞路上那些方方正正的大房子笼罩在一片令人昏昏欲睡的寂静中。平日里光亮照人的汽车,这会儿全都灰扑扑地停在车道上,曾经葱翠欲滴的草地,已变得枯黄——由于旱情,浇水软管已被禁止使用。女贞路上的居民,乎常的消遣就是擦车和割草,现在这两件事都做不成了,只好躲进他们阴凉的房子里,把窗户开得大大的,指望能吹进一丝并不存在的凉风。只有一个人还待在户外,这是一个十多岁的男孩,这时他正平躺在女贞路四号外面的花坛里。
    他是一个瘦瘦的男孩,黑头发,戴着眼镜,看上去有些赢弱,略带病态,似乎是因为在很短的时间里个头蹿得太快。他身上的牛仔裤又破又脏,T恤衫松松垮垮,已经褪了颜色,运动鞋的鞋底与鞋帮分了家。哈利波特的这副模样,是无法讨得邻居们喜欢的。他们那些人认为,破旧邋遢应该受到法律制裁。不过他这天傍晚藏在一大丛绣球花后面,过路人都不会看见他。实际上,只要他的姨父弗农或姨妈佩妮从起居室的窗户探出脑袋,径直朝下面的花坛里望,他还是有可能被他们看见的。
    总的来说,哈利觉得他能想到藏在这里真是值得庆幸。躺在炎热的硬邦邦的泥土上也许并不舒服,但另一方面,这里不会有人狠狠地瞪着他,把牙齿咬得咯咯直响,害得他听不清新闻里讲的是什么,也不会有人连珠炮似的问他一些烦人的问题。每次他想坐在客厅里跟姨妈姨父一块儿看看电视,他们总是搅得他不得安宁。
    就好像他的这些想法插上翅膀,飞进了敞开的窗户,哈利的姨父弗农·德思礼突然说起话来。
    “谢天谢地,那小子总算不来探头探脑了。呃,他到底上哪儿去了?”
    “不知道,”佩妮姨妈漠不关心地说,“反正不在家。”
    弗农姨父不满地嘟哝着。
    “看新闻——”他刻薄地说,“我倒想知道他到底有什么打算。一个正常的男孩,谁会去关心新闻啊——达力对时事一无所知,我怀疑他连首相是谁都不知道!见鬼,我们的新闻里怎么会有跟他们那类人有关的——”
    “弗农,嘘!”佩妮姨妈说,“窗户开着呢!”
    “哦——是的——对不起,亲爱的。”
    德思礼夫妇不说话了。哈利听着一段关于水果麦麸营养早餐的广告短歌,一边望着费格太太——住在离这儿不远的紫藤路上的一个脾气古怪、养着很多猫的老太太慢吞吞地走过去。她皱着眉头,嘴里念念有词。哈利心想幸亏自己藏在灌木丛后面,因为最近费格太太在街上一碰到哈利,就要邀请他过去喝茶。她拐过街角不见了,这时候弗农姨父的声音又从窗口飘了出来“达达①出去喝茶了?”
    “到波奇斯家去了。”佩妮姨妈慈爱地说,“他交了这么多小朋友,大家都这么喜欢他——”
    哈利拼命控制自己,才没有从鼻子里哼出声来。德恩礼两口子在对待他们的宝贝儿子达力的问题上,真是愚蠢得出奇。达力在暑假的每个晚上都编造愚蠢的谎话,说是到他那帮狐朋狗友的某个人家去喝茶,而他们居然就听信了。哈利知道得很清楚,达力压根儿就没去什么地方喝茶,他和他那些哥们儿每天晚上都在游乐场毁坏公物,在街角抽烟,朝过路的汽车和孩子扔石子儿。哈利晚上在小惠金区散步时,看见过他们的这些行径。这个暑假的大部分时间他都在街头游荡,沿路从垃圾箱里捡出报纸翻看。
    七点钟新闻的开始曲传到了哈利耳朵里,他紧张得连五脏六腑都翻腾起来。也许今晚——在等待了一个月之后——就在今晚。
    西班牙行李搬运工的罢工进入第二周,大批度假者滞留机场——“要是我,就让他们终身享受午睡。”新闻广播员的话音刚落,弗农姨父就恶狠狠地吼道,但是没关系,外面花坛里的哈利心里一块石头已经落了地。如果真的发生了什么事,肯定是头条新闻,死亡和灾难远比滞留机场的度假者重要得多。
    他慢慢地长舒了一口气,仰望着清澈湛蓝的天空。这个夏天的每个日子都是这样:紧张,期待,暂时松一口气,然后弦又一点点地绷紧——而一个问题越来越迫切:为什么还没有事情发生?
    他继续听下去,怕万一有一些不起眼的线索,麻瓜们还没有弄清究竟是怎么回事——比如有人不明原因地失踪,或出了奇怪的意外事故——可是行李搬运工罢工的新闻之后,是东南部地区的旱情(“我希望隔壁的那个人好好听听!”弗农姨父气冲冲地嚷道,“他凌晨三点钟就把洒水器开着了!”),然后是一架直升飞机差点在萨里郡的田野坠毁,接着是某位大名鼎鼎的女演员跟她那位大名鼎鼎的丈夫离婚(“就好像我们谁关心他们那些破事儿似的。”佩妮姨妈轻蔑地说道,实际上她近乎痴迷地关注着这件事,翻遍了她那双骨瘦如柴的手能够拿到的每一本杂志)。
    哈利闭上眼睛,天空的晚霞变得刺眼了,这时新闻广播员说道:——最后,虎皮鹦鹉邦吉今年夏天找到了一个保持凉爽的新办法。生活在巴恩斯利五根羽毛街的邦吉,学会了用水橇滑水!玛丽多尔金详细报道。
    哈利睁开眼睛。既然已经说到虎皮鹦鹉滑水橇,看来不会再有什么值得一听的新闻了。他小心翼翼地翻过身,用膝盖和胳膊肘撑着爬起来,准备手脚并用爬离窗户。
    刚爬了两英寸,就接二连三地发生了好几件事,真是说时迟那时快。
    一记响亮的、带有回音的爆裂声,像一声枪响,划破了昏昏欲睡的寂静;一只猫从一辆停着的汽车底下蹿出来,不见了踪影;德思礼家的客厅里传来一声尖叫、一句叫骂,还有瓷器摔碎的声音。哈利似乎一直就在等待这个信号,他猛地站起身,同时像拔剑一样从牛仔裤兜里掏出一根细细的木质魔杖——可是还没等他完全站直身体,脑袋就撞在了德思礼家敞开的窗户上。砰的一声,吓得佩妮姨妈叫得更响了。
    哈利觉得脑袋似乎被劈成了两半,眼睛里泪水涟涟。他摇晃着身体,看着街上,努力让模糊的视线变得清晰,好弄明白刚才的声音是从哪儿发出来的。可是他刚勉强站直身子,就有两只紫红色的大手从敞开的窗口伸出来,紧紧掐住了他的喉咙。
    “把它——收起来!”弗农姨父拧着哈利的耳朵吼道,“快点!别让——人家——看见!”
    “放——开——我!”哈利喘着气说。他们扭打了几秒钟,哈利用左手去掰姨父香肠般粗大的手指,右手还牢牢地握着举起的魔杖。接着,哈利本来就疼痛难忍的头顶猛的一阵钻心的剧痛,弗农姨父大叫一声,就像遭到电击一般,松开了哈利。似乎他外甥体内涌起一股看不见的力量,使他没法抓住他。
    哈利气喘吁吁地扑倒在绣球花中,然后直起身体,朝四周张望着。他看不出刚才那声爆响是从哪儿发出来的,但周围各式各样的窗户里探出了几张人脸。哈利赶紧把魔杖塞进牛仔裤里,装出什么事儿也没有的样子。
    “多么迷人的夜晚!”弗农姨父朝住在对面、正从网眼窗帘后面朝外瞪视的七号太太挥挥手,大声说道,“听见刚才汽车回火的声音了吗?把我和佩妮吓了一大跳呢!”
    他脸上一直堆着那种难看的、疯子般的怪笑,直到那些好奇的邻居从他们各式各样的窗口消失。这时他的笑容突然变成了狰狞的怒容,他示意哈利回到他面前。
    哈利朝前挪动了几步,很小心地及时停住脚步,以免弗农姨父伸出的双手再掐住自己的喉咙。
    “你这到底搞的什么鬼,小子?”弗农姨父用气得微微发抖的低沉声音问。
    “我搞什么啦?”哈利冷冷地问。他不停地朝街上东张西望,仍然希望看见是谁弄出了刚才那声爆响。
    “弄出那噪音,像手枪开火,就在我们家窗户外——”
    “那声音不是我弄出来的。”哈利坚决地说。
    这时,弗农姨父的紫红色宽脸膛旁边,出现了佩妮姨妈那张瘦长的马脸,脸色铁青。
    “你为什么鬼鬼祟祟地躲在我们家窗户底下?”
    “好——好,问得好,佩妮!你在我们家窗户底下搞什么鬼,小子?”
    “听新闻。”哈利用顺从的声音说。
    姨妈和姨父气呼呼地交换了一下目光。
    “听新闻!还听?”
    “是啊,新闻每天都在变的,你知道。”哈利说。
    “别跟我耍小聪明,小子!我想知道你到底打的什么主意——别再跟我说什么听新闻之类的鬼话!你心里明明知道,你们那类人——”
    “留神,弗农!”佩妮姨妈紧张地说。
    于是弗农姨父一下子把声音压得很低,哈利简直听不清他在说什么,“——你们那类人不会出现在我们的新闻里!”
    “那是你的想法。”哈利说。
    德思礼夫妇狠狠地瞪了他几秒钟,然后佩妮姨妈说:“你真是个坏透了的小骗子。那些——”她也突然放低了声音,哈利只能凭着她嘴唇的动作才听懂了她下面的话,“——猫头鹰不是给你传递消息又是在做什么呢?”
    “啊哈!”弗农姨父得意地小声说,“快说实话吧,小子!好像我们不知道你能从那些讨厌的大鸟那儿得到所有的消息似的!”
    哈利迟疑了片刻。这次说实话是要付出代价的,尽管姨妈和姨父不可能知道他承认这件事心里有多难过。
    “猫头鹰——不给我传递消息了。”他干巴巴地说。
    “我不相信。”佩妮姨妈立刻说。
    “我也不相信。”弗农姨父强硬地跟了一句。
    “我们知道你要做出点出格的事儿了。”佩妮姨妈说。
    “我们不是傻瓜,你知道。”弗农姨父说。
    “哦,那对我来说倒是新闻。”哈利说,他的火气上来了,不等德思礼夫妇把他叫回去,他就一转身跑过门前的草地,跨过花园的矮墙,大步流星地走到了街上。
    他惹麻烦了,他知道。待会儿他将不得不面对姨妈姨父,为他刚才的无礼言行付出代价,但现在他管不了那么多。他脑子里有更加迫切的事情需要考虑呢。
    哈利可以肯定,刚才那声爆响是某人幻影显形或幻影移形时发出的。家养小精灵多比每次消失在空气中时,发出的都是这种声音。难道多比跑到这女贞路来啦?难道多比此刻正在跟踪他?想到这里,哈利猛地转过身来,望着身后的女贞路,但是路上看不见一个人,而哈利相信多比是不知道怎样隐形的。
    他继续朝前走,几乎没去注意脚下的路,最近他经常拖着沉重的脚步在这些街道上走来走去,两只脚自动就把他带往他最爱去的地方。他每走几步,就扭头望望。刚才他躺在佩妮姨妈那奄奄一息的秋海棠丛中时,某个会魔法的人就在近旁,这是肯定的。他们为什么不跟他说话?他们为什么不与他取得联系?他们为什么现在躲起来了?随着他心头的失望渐渐达到高峰,他的自信开始动摇了。
    也许那根本就不是什么魔法声音。也许他太渴望得到来自他那个世界的蛛丝马迹的联络信号了,结果被一些再普通不过的声音搞得大惊小怪。他能肯定那不是邻居家里什么东西打碎的声音吗?哈利内心产生了一种沮丧的、失落的感觉,接着,整个夏天都在折磨着他的绝望感又一次不期而然地把他淹没了。
    明天早晨五点钟,他会被闹钟吵醒,付钱买下猫头鹰送来的《预言家日报》——可是继续订阅这份报纸还有什么用呢?这些日子,哈利每天只是扫一眼第一版,就把报纸扔到了一边。这些办报纸的白痴,一旦他们知道伏地魔回来了,肯定会把这个消息作为头版头条,这才是哈利惟一关心的事情。
    如果他运气好,猫头鹰会送来他最好的朋友罗恩和赫敏的来信,他原来指望他们的来信会给他带来消息,但这份期待早就破灭了。
    关于那件事,我们不能说得太多——有人叫我们不要谈及任何重要的事,以免我们的信件被送错地方——我们现在很忙,但我在这里不能跟你细说——发生了许多事,我们跟你见面时都会告诉你的——可是他们什么时候才能见到他呢?谁也不肯说出一个具体日期。赫敏在给他的生日贺卡上草草写道,希望我们能很快见到你。可是到底多快呢?哈利从他们信里透露的蛛丝马迹可以看出,赫敏和罗恩是在同一个地方,很可能是在罗恩父母的家里。一想到他们俩在陋居玩得开心,而他却困在女贞路动弹不得,他就觉得简直受不了。他太生他们的气了,他过生日时他们寄来的两盒蜜蜂公爵糖果店的巧克力,他没有打开就给扔掉了。那天晚上,吃完佩妮姨妈端出来当晚饭的干巴巴的沙拉后,他又觉得很后悔。
    罗恩和赫敏到底在忙些什么呢?为什么他——哈利,整天无所事事呢?难道他没有证明自己处理事情的能力比他们强得多吗?难道他们都忘记了他做过的事情吗?难道不是他进入那片墓地,亲眼目睹塞德里克被杀,并且被绑在那块墓碑上,差点丧命吗?别想那些事啦,哈利严厉地对自己说,暑假以来他已是第一百次这样警告自己了。夜里不断做噩梦回到那片墓地,就已经够糟糕的了,如果醒着的时候也想这件事,就更难让人忍受了。
    他转了个弯,来到木兰花新月街。在这条街上走到一半,他经过了车库旁边那条狭窄的小巷,他就是在那里第一次看见他的教父的。至少,小天狼星似乎是明白哈利的感受的。必须承认,他的信与罗恩和赫敏的信一样,也没有向哈利透露他想知道的消息,但小天狼星的信里写了一些告诫和宽慰的话,而不是半藏半露,逗得人心痒难忍。
    我知道这对你来说一定很沮丧——只要安分守己,一切都会很好的——千万小心,不要做任何草率的事情——是啊,他(基本上)还是按照小天狼星的叮嘱去做的,哈利这么想着,一边穿过木兰花新月街,拐进了木兰花路,朝逐渐变得昏暗的游乐场走去。是啊,他至少抵挡住了诱惑,没有索性把箱子绑在飞天扫帚上,直接飞到陋居去。实际上,哈利认为自己的表现一直是非常好的,要知道他被困在女贞路这么长时间,为了能听见一点透露伏地魔所作所为的只言片语,不得不藏在花坛里,这让他感到多么沮丧和生气啊。然而,居然是小天狼星叮嘱他不要鲁莽行事,这真是叫人恼怒。
    要知道小天狼星自己就是在阿兹卡班巫师监狱被关了十二年,然后逃出来,试图完成他原先被指控的那个谋杀罪,最后骑着一只偷来的鹰头马身有翼兽逃之天天的。
    游乐场的门锁着,哈利一跃而过,踏着干枯的草地往前走去。游乐场里和周围的街道一样空荡荡的。他来到秋千所在的地方,找到一架达力和他那些朋友还没来得及毁坏的秋千坐了上去,一只胳膊挽着铁链,目光忧郁地望着地面。他再也不能藏在德思礼家的花坛里了。明天,他必须想出另外的办法去偷听新闻。与此同时,他没有什么可指望的,摆在他面前的又是一个混乱不安的夜晚。就算他侥幸逃过关于塞德里克的噩梦,他也会梦见一条条漫长而昏暗的走廊,每一条走廊的尽头都是死胡同或紧锁的房门,这些梦境弄得他心神不宁,他猜想这大概和他醒着时产生的困兽般的情绪有关。
    他额头上的伤疤经常刺痛,很不舒服,但他知道,罗恩、赫敏和小天狼星不会对这件事很感兴趣了。过去,他的伤疤疼痛发作预示着伏地魔的力量正在再次变得强大起来,但现在伏地魔已经回来了,他们大概会提醒他说早就料到会有这种定期发作的疼痛——没什么可担心的——已经不是什么新闻了——这太不公平了,他内心的怨愤不断地堆积,他真想大声怒吼出来。如果不是他,甚至谁都不会知道伏地魔回来了!而他得到的回报呢,却是被困在小惠金区整整四个星期,完全与魔法世界失去了联系,不得不去蹲在那些快要枯死的秋海棠丛中,就是为了能够听到虎皮鹦鹉滑水橇的消息!
    邓布利多怎么能这么轻易就把他忘记了呢?为什么罗恩和赫敏聚到一起,却没叫上他呢?他还需要在这里忍耐多久,听着小天狼星告诉自己要循规蹈矩,不要轻举妄动;抵挡住内心的冲动,不给愚蠢的《预言家日报》写信,告诉他们伏地魔已经回来了?
    这些愤怒的想法在哈利脑海里翻腾,搅得他内心乱糟糟的。这时夜幕已经降临,一个闷热而柔和的夜晚到来了,空气里弥漫着热乎乎的干草味儿,四下里只能听见游乐场栏杆外的道路上传来的低沉的车辆声。
    他不知道自己在秋千上坐了多久,后来别人的说话声打断了他的沉思。他抬起头来,周围街道上的路灯投下一片朦胧的光影。他能看到一伙人影正在穿过游乐场,其中一个大声哼着一首粗俗的歌,其他人哈哈大笑。还有轻微的丁丁声传来,那是他们推着走的几辆价格不菲的赛车发出的声音。
    哈利知道那些人是谁。打头的那个毫无疑问就是他的表哥达力德思礼,正由他那帮狐朋狗友陪着朝家里走去。
    达力还像以前一样人高马大,但一年来严格控制伙食,再加上新开发了一项才能,他的体格大有改观。弗农姨父逢人就高兴地说,达力最近成了东南部少年重量级校际拳击比赛冠军。这项弗农姨父所说的“高贵的运动”,使达力变得更加令人生畏。哈利上小学时充当的是达力练习拳击的第一个吊球,那时他就觉得达力够厉害的,现在哈利对他的表哥已经没有丝毫畏惧感了,但他认为,达力出拳越来越狠,越来越准,总不是什么值得庆贺的事情。左邻右舍的孩子都很害怕达力——甚至超过害怕那个“波特小子”,大人们曾经警告过他们,那个波特是个屡教不改的小流氓,正在圣布鲁斯安全中心少年犯学校接受管教。
    哈利望着那几个黑乎乎的身影走过草地,心想不知他们今晚又把谁痛打了一顿。回过头来,哈利发现自己一边望着他们一边心里这么想。快呀——回过头来——我一个人坐在这里呢——过来比试比试吧——达力的朋友们如果看见他坐在这里,肯定会径直朝他冲过来的,那么达力会怎么做呢?他肯定不愿在朋友面前丢脸,但又不敢招惹哈利——看着达力左右为难,嘲弄他,欣赏他无力反抗的难受样儿,真是太好玩了——如果别人有谁敢来打哈利,他也有准备——他手里有魔杖呢。来试试吧——他正巴不得把失望情绪发泄在这些曾经使他的生活变得像地狱一样的男孩子们身上呢。
    但是他们没有回过头来,没有看见他,他们已经快要走到栏杆那儿了。哈利克制住把他们叫回来的冲动——找人打架可不是明智的举动——他绝不可以使用魔法——不然又有被学校开除的危险。
    达力那伙人的声音渐渐地听不见了,他们顺着木兰花路越走越远,从视线中消失了。
    你可以放心了,小天狼星,哈利闷闷不乐地想,不做鲁莽的事,安分守己,跟你当年做的事情正好相反。
    他从秋千上下来站到地上,挺直身体。佩妮姨妈和弗农姨父似乎觉得达力什么时间露面,这个时间就是应该回家的时间,只要是在这个时间之后,就是太晚了。弗农姨父曾经威胁说,如果哈利再在达力之后回家,就把他关进棚子里。于是,哈利忍住哈欠,愁眉苦脸地朝游乐场的大门走去。
    木兰花路和女贞路一样,布满了一座座方方正正的大房子,草地修剪得完美无瑕。它们的主人都是一些方方正正的大块头,开着像弗农姨父那样的一尘不染的汽车。哈利更喜欢晚上的小惠金区,一扇扇拉着窗帘的窗户,在黑暗中呈现出一个个珠宝般明亮的色块,白天,每当他经过那些户主面前时,总会听见对于他这个“少年犯”的不满的嘀咕声,现在就不会有这种危险了。他走得很快,在木兰花路一半的地方,他又看见了达力那帮家伙。他们正在木兰花新月街的入口处互相告别。哈利走进一棵大丁香树的阴影里等着。
    “——他像猪一样嗷嗷叫唤,是吧?”莫肯说,其他人发出粗野的笑声。
    “漂亮的右钩拳,D哥。”皮尔说。
    “明天还是那个时候?”达力问。
    “在我家外面,我爸妈明天出去。”戈登说。
    “到时候见。”达力说。
    “回见,达②!”
    “再见,D哥!”
    哈利等其他人都走开了才从树下走了出来。那些人的声音又一次远去了,他拐过街角,走上了木兰花新月街。他走得很快,很快就跟上达力能招呼他了。达力悠闲自在地迈着步子,嘴里哼着不成调儿的小曲儿。
    “喂,D哥!”
    达力转过身来。
    “噢,”他嘟哝道,“是你啊。”
    “你什么时候成‘D哥’了?”哈利问道。
    “闭嘴!”达力恶狠狠地吼道,转过身去。
    “这名字蛮酷的,”哈利说,他咧嘴笑着,跟他的表哥齐步往前走,“但在我看来,你永远都是‘达达小宝贝’。”
    “我叫你闭嘴!”达力说,两只火腿般粗胖的手捏成了拳头。
    “那些男孩不知道你妈妈叫你什么吗?”
    “住口!”
    “你可没有叫她住口啊。‘宝贝蛋儿’和‘达达小心肝’,我能用这些名字叫你吗?”
    达力没有说话。他在拼命克制自己,不去动手揍哈利,这似乎需要他所有的自制力。
    “你今天晚上把谁打了一顿?”哈利问道,脸上的笑容隐去了,“又是个十岁大的男孩?我知道你两天前的晚上打了马克伊万斯??”
    “他自找的。”达力没好气地说。
    “哦,是吗?”
    “他侮辱我。”
    “是吗?他是不是说你像一头用两条腿走路的猪?嘿,那不是侮辱,达达,那是事实呀。”
    达力牙关上的肌肉在抽动。哈利看到自己惹得达力这么生气,心里别提有多满足了。他觉得自己似乎把他的沮丧情绪转移到了表哥身上,这是他惟一的发泄方式。
    他们拐进了哈利第一次看见小天狼星的那条狭窄的小巷,那是木兰花新月街和紫藤路之间的一条近道。空荡荡的小巷,因为没有路灯,比它连接的那两条街道黑暗得多。小巷一边是车库的围墙,另一边是高高的栅栏,因此他们的脚步声显得很沉闷。
    “你拿着那玩意儿,就觉得自己是个男子汉了,是吗?”达力愣了几秒钟后说。
    “什么玩意儿?”
    “那个——你藏起来的东西。”哈利脸上又露出坏笑。
    “你看起来很笨,实际上并不笨哪,达达?我想,如果你真的很笨,就不会一边走路一边说话了。”哈利抽出魔杖。他看见达力斜眼瞄着魔杖。
    “你不能用它,”达力反应很快地说,“我知道你不能。你会被你上的那个怪胎学校开除的。”
    “你怎么知道他们没有改变章程呢,D哥?”
    “那不可能。”达力说,不过他的声音显得不那么肯定。
    哈利轻轻笑出声来。
    “你如果不拿着那玩意儿,根本没有胆子跟我较量,是不是?”达力怒气冲冲地问。
    “那你呢,你需要四个伙计给你撑腰,才能打败一个十岁的毛孩子。你知道你到处吹嘘的那个拳击称号吗?你的对手有几岁?七岁?八岁?”
    “告诉你吧,他十六岁了。”达力恶狠狠地说,“我把他撂倒后,他整整昏迷了二十分钟,而且他的身体比你的重两倍。你等着吧,我要告诉爸爸你掏出了那玩意儿——”
    “跑回去找爸爸,是吗?他的拳击小冠军还会害怕哈利这根讨厌的魔杖?”
    “你晚上就没有这么勇敢了,是不是?”达力讥笑道。
    “现在就是晚上,达达小宝贝儿。天黑成这样,不是晚上是什么?”
    “我是说等你上床以后!”达力气势汹汹地说。
    他停下脚步,哈利也站住了,盯着他的表哥。他只能看见达力那张大脸的一部分,可以看出那上面透着一种古怪的得意神情。
    “你说什么,我躺在床上就不勇敢啦?”哈利问,被完全弄糊涂了,“我有什么可害怕的呢,是枕头还是什么?”
    “我昨天夜里听见了,”达力喘着粗气说,“你说梦话。哼哼来着。”
    “你说什么?”哈利又问了一遍,但他的心突然一阵发冷,忽地往下一沉。昨夜他在梦中又回到了那片墓地。
    达力声音粗哑地笑了起来,然后发出一阵呜呜咽咽的尖厉声音:“‘别杀塞德里克!别杀塞德里克!’谁是塞德里克——你的朋友吗?”
    “我——你在胡说。”哈利本能地说。但他嘴里突然发干。他知道达力没有胡说——不然他怎么会知道塞德里克呢?
    “‘爸!救救我,爸!他要来杀我了,爸!呜呜!’”
    “闭嘴!”哈利小声说,“闭嘴,达力,我警告你!”
    “‘快来救救我,爸!妈,快来救救我!他杀死了塞德里克!爸,救救我!他要——’不许你用那玩意儿指着我!”
    达力退缩到墙根下。哈利将魔杖不偏不倚地对准达力的心脏。哈利感觉到他对达力十四年的仇恨此刻正在他的血管里汹涌冲撞——他真愿意放弃一切。只要能痛痛快快地出手,给达力念一个厉害的恶咒,让他只能像爬虫一样爬回家,嘴里说不出话来,头顶上忽忽冒出两根触角……
    “不许再提这件事,”哈利厉声说,“明白了吗?”
    “把那玩意儿指着别处!”
    “我问你呢,你明白了吗?”
    “把它指着别处!”
    “你明白了吗?”
    “把那玩意儿拿开——”
    达力突然奇怪地打了个激灵,抽了口冷气,好像被冰冷的水浇了个透湿。
    黑夜里,怪事发生了。洒满星星的深蓝色夜空突然变得一片漆黑,没有一丝光亮——星星、月亮、小巷两端昏黄的路灯,一下子全都消失了。远处汽车开过的隆隆声、近处树叶的沙沙声,也都听不见了。刚才温和宜人的夜晚突然变得寒冷刺骨。他们被包围在无法穿透的深邃而无声的黑暗中,仿佛一只巨手用一层冷冰冰的厚厚帘幕覆盖住了整条小巷,使得他们看不见任何东西。
    刹那间,哈利以为他在不知不觉中施了魔法,尽管他一直在拼命地克制自己——然后他的理智跟上了感觉的步伐——他没有能力让星星熄灭。他把脑袋转来转去,想看到点什么,但黑暗像一层轻薄的面纱贴在他的眼睛上。
    达力恐惧的声音刺进了哈利的耳膜。
    “你——你在做——做什么?快停——停下!”
    “我什么也没做!你快闭嘴,不许动!”
    “我——我看不见!我——我眼睛瞎了!我——”
    “我叫你闭嘴!”
    哈利一动不动地站着,失去视力的眼睛转向左边又转向右边。四下里冷得要命,他禁不住浑身发抖,手臂上起了一层鸡皮疙瘩,脖子后面的汗毛根根竖立起来——他极力睁大眼睛,茫然地瞪着四周,但是他什么也看不见。这不可能——他们不会来这里——不会来小惠金区——他竖起耳朵——他要在看到他们之前先听到他们的声音——
    “我要告诉——告诉爸爸!”达力抽抽搭搭地说,“你——你在哪里?你在——在做什——?”
    “你能不能闭嘴?”哈利从牙缝里说道,“我正在听——”
    但他停住了。他听见了他一直害怕的东西。小巷里除了他们俩还有另外的东西,正在发出长长的呼噜呼噜的沙哑喘息。
    哈利瑟瑟发抖地站在寒冷刺骨的黑夜里,感到一阵强烈的恐惧。
    “停——停下!住手!我——我要揍你,我说到做到!”
    “达力,闭——”
    砰!一拳击中了哈利的脑袋,打得他双脚失去平衡,眼前直冒金星。哈利在一小时内第二次觉得他的脑袋被劈成了两半。接着,他重重地跌倒在地上,魔杖脱手飞了出去。
    “你这个笨蛋,达力!”哈利喊道,疼得眼睛里涌出了泪花。他挣扎着手脚并用,在黑暗中胡乱地摸索着。他听见达力踉踉跄跄冲过去,撞在小巷边的栅栏上,脚底下摇摇晃晃。
    “达力,快回来!你正好冲着它去了!”一声可怕的、尖厉刺耳的喊叫,达力的脚步声停止了。与此同时,哈利感到身后一阵寒意袭来,这只能说明一件事情。他们不止一个。
    “达力,把嘴巴闭上!不管你做什么,千万要把嘴巴闭上!魔杖!”哈利狂乱地说着,两只手像蜘蛛一样在地面上快速地摸索。“我的——魔杖呢——快点——荧光闪烁!”
    他本能地念出这个咒语,急于想得到点亮光帮他找到魔杖——突然,在离他右手几英寸的地方冒出一道亮光,他简直不敢相信,心中松了口气——魔杖头被点亮了。哈利一把抓起魔杖,挣扎着站起来,急忙转身。
    他的五脏六腑都翻腾起来了。一个戴着兜帽的庞大身影无声地朝他滑过来。那身影高高地悬浮在地面上,长袍下看不见脚也看不见脸,移动时仿佛在一点点地吞噬着黑暗。哈利跌跌撞撞地退后几步,举起了魔杖。
    “呼神护卫!”
    一股银色的烟雾从魔杖头上冒了出来,摄魂怪的动作放慢了,但咒语并没有完全生效。看到摄魂怪朝自己袭来,哈利脚底绊了一下,又往后退了两步,恐慌使他的大脑变得模糊一片——集中意念——一双黏糊糊的、结满痂的灰手从摄魂怪的长袍里伸出来要抓他——窸窸窣窣的声音灌满了哈利的耳朵。
    “呼神护卫!”
    他的声音显得模糊而遥远。又是一股银色烟雾,比刚才更加淡薄无力,从魔杖头上喷了出来——他无能为力了,他念不成这个咒语了。他的脑海里响起了笑声,尖厉、刺耳的笑声——他已经感到摄魂怪那股腐臭的、死亡般阴冷的气息灌满他的肺部,憋得他喘不过气来——想一想——快乐的事情——可是他内心已经没有丝毫喜悦——摄魂怪冰冷的手指就要掐住他的喉咙了——那尖厉、刺耳的笑声越来越响,他的脑海里有一个声音在说:“朝死亡屈服吧,哈利——甚至不会有任何痛苦——我不会知道——我从来没有死过——”
    他再也见不到罗恩和赫敏了——他拼命地喘息着,他们的脸一下子清晰地浮现在他的脑海里。
    “呼神护卫!”
    一头巨大的银色牡鹿从哈利的魔杖头上喷了出来,两根鹿角直刺向摄魂怪的心脏所在的地方。摄魂怪被撞得连连后退,像周围的黑暗一样没有重量。牡鹿冲上前去,摄魂怪像蝙蝠一样扑闪到一边,匆匆逃走了。
    “这边!”哈利朝牡鹿喊道。他转身拔腿在小巷里奔跑,手里高高举着点亮的魔杖。“达力?达力?”
    他跑了十几步就赶到了他们跟前。达力蜷缩在地上,用两只胳膊死死地护着脸。第二个摄魂怪正矮身蹲在他身边,用两只黏糊糊的手抓住达力的手腕,几乎很温柔地把两只胳膊慢慢地掰开了,那颗戴兜帽的脑袋朝达力的脸垂下去,似乎要去亲吻他。
    “抓住它!”哈利喊道,随着一阵快速的呼啸声,他变出来的那头银色牡鹿从他的身边跑过。摄魂怪那没有眼睛的脸离达力的脸只差不到一英寸了,说时迟那时快,银色的鹿角刺中了它,把它挑起来抛到半空。它就像刚才它的那个同伴一样,腾空逃走,被黑暗吞没了。牡鹿慢跑到小巷尽头,化为一股银色烟雾消失了。
    月亮、星星和路灯一下子又发出了亮光。小巷里吹过一阵温暖的微风。邻居家花园里的沙沙树叶声、木兰花新月街那尘世里的汽车声又充斥了夜空。哈利一动不动地站着,所有的感官都在跳动不止,以适应这突然的变化。过了一会儿,他才意识到他的T恤衫粘在身上,他全身都被汗水湿透了。
    他无法相信刚才发生的事情。摄魂怪出现在这里,在小惠金区。
    达力蜷着身子躺在地上,抽抽搭搭,浑身发抖。哈利弯腰看看达力有没有可能站起来。就在这时,他听见身后传来重重的奔跑的脚步声。他本能地又举起魔杖,急转身面对着这个新来的人。
    费格太太,他们那位脾气古怪的老邻居,气喘吁吁地出现在他们面前。她花白相间的头发从发网里散落出来,手腕上挂着一个丁当作响的网袋,两只脚都快从那双格子呢的厚拖鞋里滑出来了。哈利刚想赶紧把魔杖藏起来,只听——
    “别藏啦,傻孩子!”她尖叫着说道,“如果周围还有他们的人怎么办呢?哦,我非宰了蒙顿格斯弗莱奇不可!”
    ①对达力的爱称。
    ②对达力的昵称。
    

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