Harry arrives streets away in Magnolia Crescent, still in an angry snit over Aunt Marge's comments. Eventually, panic overtakes him when he realizes that he is now almost certainly expelled from Hogwarts. Harry concludes that if he is indeed expelled, more magic couldn't hurt and that he might as well empty his Gringotts vault if he's going to be an outcast anyway. But before Harry can do anything, he's startled by the presence of some big dog-like creature with gleaming eyes and falls over. When Harry sits up, he sees a triple-decker purple bus. A conductor named Stan Shunpike steps out to explain this is the Knight Bus, "emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard", in his [[FunetikAksent written Cockney accent]]. Still convinced the Ministry of Magic is after him, Harry gives his name as "Neville Longbottom" and buys a ticket to London.
The interior of the Knight Bus contains beds rather than seats and the driver, Ernie Prang, DrivesLikeCrazy with the vehicle magically traveling between distant parts of the country instantaneously. There is also not a [[CanonForeigner talking shrunken head]] like in [[Film/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban the film]]. Harry notices the fugitive from the Muggle news on the cover of the ''Daily Prophet''. Stan laughs at his realization that the man is a wizard and passes him the paper. Harry reads that the fugitive, Sirius Black, murdered thirteen people twelve years ago, has recently escaped from Azkaban, and that Cornelius Fudge felt the need to warn the Muggle population of the danger he poses. Stan and Ernie gossip about Black, painting him as an AxCrazy PsychoSupporter of Voldemort. Harry is only mildly interested, being more concerned about what will come of his own run-in with the law.
Eventually, the Knight Bus lets Harry off at the Leaky Cauldron. But no sooner does he got off the bus, he almost literally walks into Cornelius Fudge himself. Harry finds Fudge's manner very confusing. Far from the dressing-down Harry expected, Fudge is friendly, insists Harry be left off scot-free, and becomes disconcerted when Harry asks why. In fact, Fudge goes so far as to set Harry up with a room at the Leaky Cauldron so he can spend the rest of his summer there.