Harry’s last month with the Dursleys wasn’t fun. True, Dudley was now so scared of Harry he wouldn’t stay in the same room, while Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon didn’t shut Harry in his cupboard, force him to do anything, or shout at him — in fact, they didn’t 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 didn’t 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 he’d better speak to his aunt and uncle about getting to King’s 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.
“Er — Uncle Vernon?” Uncle Vernon grunted to show he was listening.
“Er — I need to be at King’s Cross tomorrow to — to go to Hogwarts. ” Uncle Vernon grunted again. “Would it be all right if you gave me a lift?” Uncle Vernon grunted again. Harry supposed that meant yes. “Thank you.” He was about to go back upstairs when Uncle Vernon actually spoke.
“Funny way to get to a wizards’ school, the train. Magic carpets all got punctures, have they?” Harry didn’t say anything. “Where is this school, anyway?”
“I don’t know,” said Harry, realizing this for the first time. He pulled the ticket Hagrid had given him out of his pocket. “I just take the train from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters at eleven o’clock,” he read.
His aunt and uncle stared. “Platform what?”
“Nine and three-quarters. ”
“Don’t talk rubbish,” said Uncle Vernon. “There is no platform nine and three-quarters. ”
“It’s on my ticket.”
“Barking,” said Uncle Vernon, “howling mad, the lot of them. You’ll see. You just wait. All right, we’ll take you to King’s Cross. We’re going up to London tomorrow anyway, or I wouldn’t bother.”
“Why are you going to London?” Harry asked, trying to keep things friendly.
“Taking Dudley to the hospital,” growled Uncle Vernon. “Got to have that ruddy tail removed before he goes to Smeltings. “
Harry woke at five o’clock the next morning and was too excited and nervous to go back to sleep. He got up and pulled on his jeans because he didn’t want to walk into the station in his wizard’s robes — he’d 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, Harry’s huge, heavy trunk had been loaded into the Dursleys’ car, Aunt Petunia had talked Dudley into sitting next to Harry, and they had set off.
They reached King’s Cross at half past ten. Uncle Vernon dumped Harry’s 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.
“Well, there you are, boy. Platform Nine — Platform Ten. Your platform should be somewhere in the middle, but they don’t seem to have built it yet, do they?” He was quite right, of course. There was a big plastic Number Nine over one platform and a big plastic Number Ten over the one next to it, and in the middle, nothing at all.