Harry already knew this, of course; he had seen Fudge once before, but as he had been wearing his father’s Invisibility Cloak at the time, Fudge wasn’t to know that.

Tom the innkeeper reappeared, wearing an apron over his nightshirt and bearing a tray of tea and crumpets. He placed the tray on a table between Fudge and Harry and left the parlor, closing the door behind him.

“Well, Harry,” said Fudge, pouring out tea, “you’ve had us all in a right flap, I don’t mind telling you. Running away from your aunt and uncle’s house like that! I’d started to think… but you’re safe, and that’s what matters.”

Fudge buttered himself a crumpet and pushed the plate toward Harry.

“Eat, Harry, you look dead on your feet. Now then… You will be pleased to hear that we have dealt with the unfortunate blowing up of Miss Marjorie Dursley. Two members of the Accidental Magic Reversal Department were dispatched to Privet Drive a few hours ago. Miss Dursley has been punctured and her memory has been modified. She has no recollection of the incident at all. So that’s that, and no harm done.”

Fudge smiled at Harry over the rim of his teacup, rather like an uncle surveying a favorite nephew. Harry, who couldn’t believe his ears, opened his mouth to speak, couldn’t think of anything to say, and closed it again.

“Ah, you’re worrying about the reaction of your aunt and uncle?” said Fudge. “Well, I won’t deny that they are extremely angry, Harry, but they are prepared to take you back next summer as long as you stay at Hogwarts for the Christmas and Easter holidays.”

Harry unstuck his throat.

“I always stay at Hogwarts for the Christmas and Easter holidays,” he said, “and I don’t ever want to go back to Privet Drive.”

“Now, now, I’m sure you’ll feel differently once you’ve calmed down,” said Fudge in a worried tone. “They are your family, after all, and I’m sure you are fond of each other—er—very deep down.”

It didn’t occur to Harry to put Fudge right. He was still waiting to hear what was going to happen to him now.

“So all that remains,” said Fudge, now buttering himself a second crumpet, “is to decide where you’re going to spend the last two weeks of your vacation. I suggest you take a room here at the Leaky Cauldron and—”



“Hang on,” blurted Harry. “What about my punishment?”

Fudge blinked. “Punishment?”

“I broke the law!” Harry said. “The Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry!”

“Oh, my dear boy, we’re not going to punish you for a little thing like that!” cried Fudge, waving his crumpet impatiently. “It was an accident! We don’t send people to Azkaban just for blowing up their aunts!”

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