"Judging by your look of stunned disbelief, Harry did not warn you that I was coming."
-- Albus Dumbledore
The wizarding public’s perception of Harry and the steps the Ministry of Magic has taken to provide safety in the war has been written up in the Daily Prophet. Albus Dumbledore returns to Privet Drive to collect Harry. Before leaving, Dumbledore sits with Harry and the Dursleys, updates Harry on his inheritance from Sirius Black and gives him the house-elf Kreacher, determining that Kreacher has indeed come into Harry’s possession. Dumbledore then chastises the Dursleys for their treatment of Harry, but asks that he be allowed to return to Privet Drive one final time, and he and Harry depart.
Calendar and Dates
Albus Dumbledore's letter states that he's picking Harry up on a Friday. The rest of the evidence pertaining to the exact date of this Friday is in the next chapter - but it's most likely 12 July.
Interesting facts and notes
The chapter title is reminiscent of first word we hear of Dudley Dursley's in the books (NB while it is "won't" in the US edition, the word is "shan't" in the original UK book). Here, however, "won't" is a reference to the house-elf Kreacher's reaction to his being inherited by Harry. "Will" refers to Sirius Black's last will and testament, which Albus Dumbledore discusses with Harry herein.
An alarm clock, repaired by Harry several years ago....
This may be the repaired clock referred to during Harry's first few days in Dudley's second bedroom.
Harry had read this letter so often since its arrival three days ago....
Since the scene occurs on Friday night, the letter arrived on Tuesday.
"I don’t mean to be rude –" he began, in a tone that threatened rudeness in every syllable.
"– yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often," Dumbledore finished the sentence gravely. "Best to say nothing at all, my dear man. Ah, and this must be Petunia."
Vernon Dursley is being told to his face that he is rude and awful. Finally!
He drew his wand so rapidly that Harry barely saw it; with a casual flick, the sofa zoomed forwards and knocked the knees out from under all three of the Dursleys so that they collapsed upon it in a heap. Another flick of the wand and the sofa zoomed back to its original position.
"We may as well be comfortable," said Dumbledore pleasantly.
As he replaced his wand in his pocket, Harry saw that his hand was blackened and shrivelled; it looked as though his flesh had been burned away.
It is this injury to Dumbledore - the wizard who seems all-powerful - that drives many of his subsequent decisions in this book.
Harry looked round; all three of the Dursleys were cowering with their arms over their heads as their glasses bounced up and down on their skulls, the contents flying everywhere.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Dumbledore politely, and he raised his wand again. All three glasses vanished. "But it would have been better manners to drink it, you know."
Petunia Dursley and her husband Vernon consider themselves above other people - especially wizards - but, as Dumbledore points out several times in this chapter, they lack manners. He is also demonstrating this to Harry at the same time. The Dursleys are wrong by any standard - Muggle or wizard.
"You did not do as I asked. You have never treated Harry as a son. He has known nothing but neglect and often cruelty at your hands. The best that can be said is that he has at least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon the unfortunate boy sitting between you."
That says it all - and no change of behaviour was later demanded of them or is even from them expected now - a very sad state of affairs.
Exceptional character moments
Albus Dumbledore reprimanding the Dursleys for their treatment of Harry over the years.
The gleam of greed in Vernon Dursley's eye when he hears that Harry has been left a house.
Kreacher's tantrum about belonging to Harry.
"It is a long time since my last visit," said Dumbledore, peering down his crooked nose at Uncle Vernon. "I must say, your agapanthus are flourishing."
Harry looked around; all three of the Dursleys were cowering with their arms over their heads as their glasses bounced up and down on their skulls, their contents flying everywhere.
"The best that can be said is that he has at least escaped the appalling damage you have inflicted upon the unfortunate boy sitting between you."
"And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."
Words and phrases
From the Web
Writing by J K Rowling on WizardingWorld (Pottermore):
Harry Potter Wiki: Dursley Family
- Unraveling Petunia Dursley
- MuggleCast Episode #380: Privet Drive Payoff (HBP Chapter 3, Will And Won’t)
- Why Didn't the Dursleys Turn Harry into an Obscurial?
The Leaky Cauldron: Why the Dursleys?
Wizarding World (Pottermore) features:
Dwelling on Dreams blog and podcast: Harry and the Dursleys: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Tags: death defiance family fear feathers inheritance letters news protection safety shock surprise wills