“Gulpin’ gargoyles, Harry, people are still scared. Blimey, this is difficult. See, there was this wizard who went… bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than worse. His name was…”
Hagrid gulped, but no words came out.
“Could you write it down?” Harry suggested.
“Nah can’t spell it. All right—Voldemort.” Hagrid shuddered. “Don’t make me say it again. Anyway, this—this wizard, about twenty years ago now, started lookin’ fer followers. Got ’em, too—some were afraid, some just wanted a bit o’ his power, ’cause he was gettin’ himself power, all right. Dark days, Harry. Didn’t know who ter trust, didn’t dare get friendly with strange wizards or witches… terrible things happened. He was takin’ over. ’Course, some stood up to him—an’ he killed ’em. Horribly. One o’ the only safe places left was Hogwarts. Reckon Dumbledore’s the only one You-Know-Who was afraid of. Didn’t dare try takin’ the school, not jus’ then, anyway.
“Now, yer mum an’ dad were as good a witch an’ wizard as I ever knew. Head boy an’ girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the myst’ry is why You-Know-Who never tried to get ’em on his side before… probably knew they were too close ter Dumbledore ter want anythin’ ter do with the Dark Side.
“Maybe he thought he could persuade ’em… maybe he just wanted ’em outta the way. All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on Halloween ten years ago. You was just a year old. He came ter yer house an’—an’—”
“You-Know-Who killed ’em. An’ then—an’ this is the real myst’ry of the thing—he tried to kill you, too. Wanted ter make a clean job of it, I suppose, or maybe he just liked killin’ by then. But he couldn’t do it. Never wondered how you got that mark on yer forehead? That was no ordinary cut. That’s what yeh get when a powerful, evil curse touches yeh—took care of yer mum an’ dad an’ yer house, even—but it didn’t work on you, an’ that’s why yer famous, Harry. No one ever lived after he decided ter kill ‘em, no one except you, an’ he’d killed some o’ the best witches an’ wizards of the age—the McKinnons, the Bones, the Prewetts—an’ you was only a baby, an’ you lived.”
Something very painful was going on in Harry’s mind. As Hagrid’s story came to a close, he saw again the blinding flash of green light, more clearly than he had ever remembered it before—and he remembered something else, for the first time in his life: a high, cold, cruel laugh.