Oct 17, 2019 9:43 PM
Pottervor
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What a day. Victor thanks Vernon politely and eats his secondhand ice cream. He thinks he might've liked the lemon ice lolly better, but he's hardly in a position to complain.

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After lunch, they go to the reptile house. It's cool and dark in there, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts of lizards and snakes are crawling and slithering over bits of wood and stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick, man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly finds the largest snake in the place. It could wrap its body twice around Uncle Vernon’s car and crush it into a trash can - but at the moment it doesn't look in the mood. In fact, it's fast asleep.

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Victor stands well back from the glass, mostly to stay out of range of Dudley. The snake doesn't bother him at all.

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Dudley stands with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the glistening brown coils. "Make it move," he whines at his father.

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Uncle Vernon taps on the glass, but the snake doesn't budge.

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"Do it again," he orders.

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So he does, but the snake still doesn't react.

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"This is boring," Dudley moans. He shuffles away

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Victor feels a little sorry for the snake. He comes up to the enclosure once Dudley is a safe distance away.

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Slowly, very slowly, the snake raises its head until its eyes are on a level with Victor's.

It nods, slowly and meaningfully.

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...his first impulse is fear, because this is definitely something strange - he glances around to make sure the Dursleys aren't watching - good, they're occupied at the other end of the reptile house.

And it's not the snake's fault that Victor might get in trouble for its unusual behaviour.

Hesitantly, he nods back.

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The snake looks at the Dursleys, too, then raises its head as if it were looking at the ceiling. It seems to be saying, with its oddly expressive face, "I get that all the time."

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"I'm sorry," Victor murmurs. "I think I might know the feeling."

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He regards the snake sympathetically.

"Where are you from, anyway?" he wonders, looking around for a sign that might tell him this information.

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It helpfully points with its tail at a little sign next to the glass that says: "Boa Constrictor, Brazil."

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And in smaller text under that: This specimen bred in captivity.

"Oh," he says, subdued. "So you've never been outside the zoo before?"

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It shakes its head.

And then Piers' voice rings, making the snake do something that would be a jump if it had legs: "DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT IT'S DOING!"

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"Sorry," he whispers hurriedly to the snake, backing away from the enclosure in alarm. He wishes he could help it somehow, but all he's done is call Piers and Dudley's attention to it, and nobody deserves that -

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Dudley waddles towards them as fast as he can, leaning against the glass -

- and then he yelps and jumps back as the glass vanishes.

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Oh no—he didn't mean to—

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Too late.

The snake rapidly uncoils itself and slithers out onto the floor. People start screaming and running for the exits, but the snake pauses, looks at Victor, and says, "Brazil, here I come. Thankssss, amigo."

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...despite the sudden rush of terror, he can't help smiling at that. "You're welcome," he murmurs. "Good luck."

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"Were you talking to it?" Dudley screeches.

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