BOOK 3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

CHAPTER ONE – OWL POST
Harry Pot ter was a highly unusual boy in many ways. For one thing, he hated
the summer holidays more than any other t ime of year. For another, he really wanted
to do his homework but was forced to do it in secret , in the dead of night . And he also
happened to be a wizard.
It was nearly midnight , and he was lying on his stomach in bed, the blankets
drawn right over his head like a tent , a flashlight in one hand and a large leather–
bound book (A Hist ory of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot ) propped open against the pillow.
Harry moved the t ip of his eagle–feather quill down the page, frowning as he looked
for something that would help him write his essay, “Wit ch Burning in the Fourteenth
Century Was Completely Pointless, discuss!”
The quill paused at the top of a likely–looking paragraph. Harry pushed his
round glasses up the bridge of his nose, moved his f lashlight closer to the book, and
read:
“Non–magic people (more commonly known as Muggles) were
part icularly af raid of magic in medieval t imes, but not very good at
recognizing it . On t he rare occasion t hat t hey did cat ch a real wit ch or
wizard, burning had no ef fect what soever. The wit ch or wizard would
perform a basic Flame Freezing Charm and t hen pret end t o shriek with
pain while enj oying a gent le, t ickl ing sensat ion. Indeed, Wendel in the
Weird enj oyed being burned so much t hat she al lowed hersel f t o be
caught no less than forty-seven times in various disguises.”
Harry put his quill between his teeth and reached underneath his pillow for his
bot t le ink and a roll of parchment . Slowly and very carefully he unscrewed the bot t le
ink, dipped his quill into it , and began to write, pausing every now and then to listen,
because if any of the Dursleys heard the scratching of his quill on their way to the
bathroom, he’ d probably find himself locked in the cupboard under the stairs for the
rest of the summer.
The Dursley family of number four, Privet Drive, was the reason that Harry
never enj oyed his summer holidays. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and their son,
Dudley, were Harry’ s only living relat ives. They were Muggles, and they had a very
medieval at t itude toward magic. Harry’ s dead parents, who had been a wit ch and
wizard themselves, were never ment ioned under the Dursleys’ roof. For years, Aunt
Petunia and Uncle Vernon had hoped that if they kept Harry as downt rodden as
possible, they would be able to squash the magic out of him. To their fury, they had
been unsuccessful. These days they lived in terror of anyone finding out that Harry had
spent most of the last two years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraf t and Wizardry. The
most they could do, however, was to lock away Harry’ s spellbooks, wand, cauldron,
and broomst ick at the start of the summer break, and forbid him to talk to the
neighbors.
This separat ion from his spellbooks had been a real problem for Harry, because
his teachers at Hogwarts had given him a lot of holiday work. One of the essays, a
part icularly nasty one about shrinking pot ions, was for Harry’ s least favorite teacher,
Professor Snape, who would be delighted to have an excuse to give Harry detention for
a month. Harry had therefore seized his chance in the first week of the holidays. While
Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley had gone out into the front garden to admire
Uncle Vernon’ s new company car (in very loud voices, so that the rest of the st reet
would not ice it too), Harry had crept downstairs, picked the lock on the cupboard
under the stairs, grabbed some of his books, and hidden them in his bedroom. As long
as he didn’ t leave spots of ink on the sheets, the Dursleys need never know that he
was studying magic by night.
Harry was part icularly keen to avoid t rouble with his aunt and uncle at the
moment , as they were already in an especially bad mood with him, all because he’ d
received a telephone call from a fellow wizard one week into the school vacation.
Ron Weasley, who was one of Harry’ s best friends at Hogwarts, came from a
whole family of wizards. This meant that he knew a lot of things Harry didn’ t , but had
never used a telephone before. Most unluckily, it had been Uncle Vernon who had
answered the call.
“Vernon Dursley speaking.”
Harry, who happened to be in the room at the t ime, froze as he heard Ron’ s
voice answer.
“ HELLO? HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? I – WANT – TO – TALK – TO – HARRY –
POTTER!”
Ron was yelling so loudly that Uncle Vernon j umped and held the receiver a
foot away from his ear, staring at it with an expression of mingled fury and alarm.
“WHO IS THIS?” he roared in the direction of the mouthpiece. “WHO ARE YOU?”
“RON – WEASLEY!” Ron bellowed back, as though he and Uncle Vernon were
speaking f rom opposite ends of a football field. “ I’M – A – FRIEND – OF – HARRY’S –
FROM – SCHOOL –”
Uncle Vernon’ s small eyes swiveled around to Harry, who was rooted to the
spot.
“ THERE IS NO HARRY POTTER HERE!” he roared, now holding the receiver at
arm’ s length, as though frightened it might explode. “ I DON’T KNOW WHAT SCHOOL
YOURE TALKING ABOUT! NEVER CONTACT ME AGAIN! DON’T YOU COME NEAR MY
FAMILY!”
And he threw the receiver back onto the telephone as if dropping a poisonous
spider.
The fight that had followed had been one of the worst ever.
“ HOW DARE YOU GIVE THIS NUMBER TO PEOPLE LIKE – PEOPLE LIKE YOU!”
Uncle Vernon had roared, spraying Harry with spit.
Ron obviously realized that he’ d got ten Harry into t rouble, because he hadn’ t
called again. Harry’ s other best friend f rom Hogwarts, Hermione Granger, hadn’ t been
in touch either. Harry suspected that Ron had warned Hermione not to call, which was
a pity, because Hermione, the cleverest witch in Harry’ s year, had Muggle parents,
knew perfect ly well how to use a telephone, and would probably have had enough
sense not to say that she went to Hogwarts.
So Harry had had no word from any of his wizarding friends for five long weeks,
and this summer was turning out to be almost as bad as the last one. There was j ust
one very small improvement – after swearing that he wouldn’ t use her to send let ters
to any of his friends, Harry had been allowed to let his owl, Hedwig, out at night .
Uncle Vernon had given in because of the racket Hedwig made if she was locked in her
cage all the time.
Harry finished writ ing about Wendelin the Weird and paused to listen again.
The silence in the dark house was broken only by the distant , grunt ing snores of his
enormous cousin, Dudley. It must be very late, Harry thought . His eyes were itching
with tiredness. Perhaps he’d finish this essay tomorrow night….
He replaced the top of the bot t le ink; pulled an old pillowcase from under his
bed; put the flashlight, A History of Magic, his essay, quill, and ink inside it; got out of
bed; and hid the lot under a loose floorboard under his bed. Then he stood up,
st retched, and checked the t ime on the luminous alarm clock on his bedside table. It
was one o’ clock in the morning. Harry’ s stomach gave a funny j olt . He had been
thirteen years old, without realizing it , for a whole hour. Yet another unusual thing
about Harry was how little he looked forward to his birthdays. He had never received a
birthday card in his life. The Dursleys had completely ignored his last two birthdays,
and he had no reason to suppose they would remember this one.
Harry walked across the dark room, past Hedwig’ s large, empty cage, to the
open window. He leaned on the sill, the cool night air pleasant on his face after a long
t ime under the blankets. Hedwig had been absent for two nights now. Harry wasn’ t
worried about her: she’ d been gone this long before. But he hoped she’ d be back soon
– she was the only living creature in this house who didn’t flinch at the sight of him.
Harry, though st ill rather small and skinny for his age, had grown a few inches
over the last year. His j et–black hair, however, was j ust as it always had been –
stubbornly unt idy, whatever he did to it . The eyes behind his glasses were bright
green, and on his forehead, clearly visible through his hair, was a thin scar, shaped
like a bolt of lightning.
Of all the unusual things about Harry, this scar was the most ext raordinary of
all. It was not, as the Dursleys had pretended for ten years, a souvenir of the car crash
that had killed Harry’ s parents, because Lily and James Pot ter had not died in a car
crash. They had been murdered, murdered by the most feared Dark wizard for a
hundred years, Lord Voldemort . Harry had escaped from the same at tack with nothing
more than a scar on his forehead, where Voldemort’s curse, instead of killing him, had
rebounded upon its originator. Barely alive, Voldemort had fled….
But Harry had come face–to–face with him at Hogwarts. Remembering their last
meeting as he stood at the dark window, Harry had to admit he was lucky even to have
reached his thirteenth birthday. He scanned the starry sky for a sign of Hedwig,
perhaps soaring back to him with a dead mouse dangling from her beak, expect ing
praise. Gazing absent ly over the roof tops, it was a few seconds before Harry realized
what he was seeing. Silhouet ted against the golden moon, and growing larger every
moment , was a large, st rangely lopsided creature, and it was flapping in Harry’ s
direct ion. He stood quite st ill, watching it sink lower and lower. For a split second he
hesitated, his hand on the window latch, wondering whether to slam it shut . But then
the bizarre creature soared over one of the st reet lamps of Privet Drive, and Harry,
realizing what it was, leapt aside.
Through the window soared three owls, two of them holding up the third,
which appeared to be unconscious. They landed with a soft flump on Harry’ s bed, and
the middle owl, which was large and gray, keeled right over and lay mot ionless. There
was a large package t ied to its legs Harry recognized the unconscious owl at once – his
name was Errol, and he belonged to the Weasley family. Harry dashed to the bed,
unt ied the cords around Errol’ s legs, took off the parcel, and then carried Errol to
Hedwig’ s cage. Errol opened one bleary eye, gave a feeble hoot of thanks, and began
to gulp some water.
Harry turned back to the remaining owls. One of them, the large snowy female,
was his own Hedwig. She, too, was carrying a parcel and looked ext remely pleased
with herself . She gave Harry an affect ionate nip with her beak as he removed her
burden, then flew across the room to join Errol.
Harry didn’ t recognize the third owl, a handsome tawny one, but he knew at
once where it had come from, because in addition to a third package, it was carrying a
let ter bearing the Hogwarts crest . When Harry relieved this owl of its burden, it
ruffled its feathers important ly, st retched its wings, and took off through the window
into the night.
Harry sat down on his bed and grabbed Errol’ s package, ripped of f the brown
paper, and discovered a present wrapped in gold, and his f irst ever birthday card.
Fingers t rembling slight ly, he opened the envelope. Two pieces of paper fell out – a
let ter and a newspaper clipping. The clipping had clearly come out of the wizarding
newspaper, the Daily Prophet, because the people in the black–and–white picture were
moving. Harry picked up the clipping, smoothed it out, and read:
MINISTRY OF MAGIC EMPLOYEE SCOOPS GRAND PRIZE
Art hur Weasley, Head of t he Misuse of Muggle Art ifact s Office
at t he Minist ry of Magic, has won t he annual Daily Prophet Grand Prize
Galleon Draw.
A del ighted Mr. Weasley t old t he Daily Prophet , “We wil l be
spending t he gold on a summer hol iday in Egypt , where our eldest son,
Bill, works as a curse breaker for Gringotts Wizarding Bank.”
The Weasley family will be spending a month in Egypt, returning
for t he start of t he new school year at Hogwart s, which f ive of the
Weasley children currently attend.
Harry scanned the moving photograph, and a grin spread across his face as he
saw all nine of the Weasleys waving furiously at him, standing in front of a large
pyramid. Plump lit t le Mrs. Weasley; tail, balding Mr. Weasley; six sons; and one
daughter, all (though the black–and–white picture didn’ t show it ) with f laming–red
hair. Right in the middle of the picture was Ron, tall and gangling, with his pet rat ,
Scabbers, on his shoulder and his arm around his little sister, Ginny.
Harry couldn’ t think of anyone who deserved to win a large pile of gold more
than the Weasleys, who were very nice and ext remely poor. He picked up Ron’ s let ter
and unfolded it.
Dear Harry,
Happy birt hday! Look, I’m real ly sorry about t hat t elephone
cal l . I hope t he Muggles didn’ t give you a hard t ime. I asked Dad, and
he reckons I shouldn’t have shouted.
It ’ s amazing here in Egypt . Bil l ’ s t aken us around al l t he tombs
and you wouldn’ t bel ieve t he curses t hose old Egypt ian wizards put on
t hem. Mum wouldn’ t let Ginny come in t he last one. There were all
these mutant skeletons in there, of Muggles who’d broken in and grown
extra heads and stuff.
I couldn’ t bel ieve it when Dad won t he Daily Prophet Draw.
Seven hundred gal leons! Most of it ’ s gone on t his t rip, but they’ re
going to buy me a new wand for next year.
Harry remembered only too well the occasion when Ron’ s old wand had
snapped. It had happened when the car the two of them had been flying to Hogwarts
had crashed into a tree on the school grounds.
We’ l l be back about a week before term st art s and we’ l l be
going up t o London t o get my wand and our new books. Any chance of
meeting you there? Don’t let the Muggles get you down!
Try and come to London,
Ron
P.S. Percy’s Head Boy. He got the letter last week.
Harry glanced back at the photograph. Percy, who was in his seventh and f inal
year at Hogwarts, was looking part icularly smug. He had pinned his Head Boy badge to
the fez perched jauntily on top of his neat hair, his horn–rimmed glasses flashing in the
Egyptian sun.
Harry now turned to his present and unwrapped it . Inside was what looked like
a miniature glass spinning top. There was another note from Ron beneath it.
Harry – t his is a Pocket Sneakoscope. If t here’ s someone
unt rustwort hy around, it ’ s supposed t o l ight up and spin. Bill says it ’ s
rubbish sold for wizard t ourist s and isn’ t rel iable, because it kept
l ight ing up at dinner last night . But he didn’ t real ize Fred and George
had put beetles in his soup.
Bye –
Ron
Harry put the Pocket Sneakoscope on his bedside table, where it stood quite
st ill, balanced on its point , ref lect ing the luminous hands of his clock. He looked at it
happily for a few seconds, then picked up the parcel Hedwig had brought.
Inside this, too, there was a wrapped present , a card, and a let ter, this t ime
from Hermione.
Dear Harry,
Ron wrote t o me and t old me about his phone cal l t o your Uncle
Vernon. I do hope you’re all right.
I’m on hol iday in France at t he moment and I didn’ t know how I
was going t o send t his t o you – what if t hey’ d opened it at cust oms? –
but t hen Hedwig t urned up! I t hink she want ed t o make sure you got
something for your birthday for a change. I bought your present by owl–
order; there was an advert isement in the Daily Prophet (I’ ve been
get t ing it delivered; it ’ s so good t o keep up wit h what ’ s going on in the
wizarding world), Did you see that picture of Ron and his family a week
ago? I bet he’ s learning loads. I’m real ly j ealous – t he ancient Egypt ian
wizards were fascinating.
There’ s some interest ing local hist ory of wit chcraf t here, t oo.
I’ ve rewrit t en my whole History of Magic essay t o include some of t he
t hings I’ ve found out , I hope it ’ s not t oo long – it ’ s two rol ls of
parchment more than Professor Binns asked for.
Ron says he’ s going to be in London in t he last week of t he
hol idays. Can you make it ? Wil l your aunt and uncle let you come? I
real ly hope you can. If not , I’ l l see you on t he Hogwart s Express on
September first!
Love from Hermione
P.S. Ron says Percy’ s Head Boy. I’ l l bet Percy’ s real ly pleased Ron
doesn’t seem too happy about it.
Harry laughed as he put Hermione’ s let ter aside and picked up her present . It
was very heavy. Knowing Hermione, he was sure it would be a large book full of very
difficult spells – but it wasn’ t . His heart gave a huge bound as he ripped back the
paper and saw a sleek black leather case, with silver words stamped across it , reading
Broomstick Servicing Kit.
“Wow, Hermione!” Harry whispered, unzipping the case to look inside.
There was a large j ar of Fleetwood’ s High–Finish Handle Polish, a pair of
gleaming silver Tall–Twig Cl ippers, a t iny brass compass to clip on your broom for long
journeys, and a Handbook of Do–It–Yourself Broomcare.
Apart from his friends, the thing that Harry missed most about Hogwarts was
Quidditch, the most popular sport in the magical world – highly dangerous, very
excit ing, and played on broomst icks. Harry happened to be a very good Quidditch
player; he had been the youngest person in a century to be picked for one of the
Hogwarts House teams. One of Harry’ s most prized possessions was his Nimbus Two
Thousand racing broom.
Harry put the leather case aside and picked up his last parcel. He recognized
the unt idy scrawl on the brown paper at once: this was from Hagrid, the Hogwarts
gamekeeper. He tore off the top layer of paper and glimpsed something green and
leathery, but before he could unwrap it properly, the parcel gave a st range quiver,
and whatever was inside it snapped loudly – as though it had jaws.
Harry froze. He knew that Hagrid would never send him anything dangerous on
purpose, but then, Hagrid didn’ t have a normal person’ s view of what was dangerous.
Hagrid had been known to befriend giant spiders, buy vicious, three–headed dogs from
men in pubs, and sneak illegal dragon eggs into his cabin.
Harry poked the parcel nervously. It snapped loudly again. Harry reached for
the lamp on his bedside table, gripped it firmly in one hand, and raised it over his
head, ready to st rike. Then he seized the rest of the wrapping paper in his other hand
and pulled.
And out fell – a book. Harry just had time to register its handsome green cover,
emblazoned with the golden title The Monster Book of Monsters, before it flipped onto
its edge and scuttled sideways along the bed like some weird crab.
“Uh–oh,” Harry muttered.
The book toppled off the bed with a loud clunk and shuff led rapidly across the
room. Harry followed it stealthily. The book was hiding in the dark space under his
desk. Praying that the Dursleys were st ill fast asleep, Harry got down on his hands and
knees and reached toward it.
“Ouch!”
The book snapped shut on his hand and then flapped past him, st ill scut t ling on
its covers. Harry scrambled around, threw himself forward, and managed to flat ten it .
Uncle Vernon gave a loud, sleepy grunt in the room next door. Hedwig and Errol
watched interestedly as Harry clamped the st ruggling book t ight ly in his arms, hurried
to his chest of drawers, and pulled out a belt , which he buckled t ight ly around it . The
Monster Book shuddered angrily, but could no longer flap and snap, so Harry threw it
down on the bed and reached for Hagrid’s card.
Dear Harry,
Happy Birt hday! Think you might f ind this useful for next year.
Won’t say no more here. Tell you when I see you. Hope the Muggles are
treating you right.
All the best,
Hagrid
It st ruck Harry as ominous that Hagrid thought a bit ing book would come in
useful, but he put Hagrid’ s card up next to Ron’ s and Hermione’ s, grinning more
broadly than ever.
Now there was only the let ter from Hogwarts left . Not icing that it was rather
thicker than usual, Harry slit open the envelope, pulled out the first page of
parchment within, and read:
Dear Mr. Potter,
Please note t hat t he new school year wil l begin on September
t he f irst . The Hogwart s Express wil l leave f rom King’ s Cross stat ion,
platform nine and three–quarters, at eleven o’clock.
Third years are permit t ed t o visit the vil lage of Hogsmeade on
certain weekends. Please give t he enclosed permission form t o your
parent or guardian to sign.
A list of books for next year is enclosed.
Yours sincerely,
Professor M. McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress
Harry pulled out the Hogsmeade permission form and looked at it , no longer
grinning. It would be wonderful to visit Hogsmeade on weekends; he knew it was an
ent irely wizarding village, and he had never set foot there. But how on earth was he
going to persuade Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia to sign the form?
He looked over at the alarm clock. It was now two o’ clock in the morning.
Deciding that he’ d worry about the Hogsmeade form when he woke up, Harry got back
into bed and reached up to cross off another day on the chart he’ d made for himself,
count ing down the days left unt il his return to Hogwarts. Then he took of f his glasses
and lay down, eyes open, facing his three birthday cards.
Ext remely unusual though he was, at that moment Harry Pot ter felt j ust like
everyone else – glad, for the first time in his life, that it was his birthday.
CHAPTER TWO – AUNT MARGE’S BIG MISTAKE
Harry went down to breakfast the next morning to f ind the three Dursleys
already sit t ing around the kitchen table. They were watching a brand–new television,
a welcome–home–for–the–summer present for Dudley, who had been complaining
loudly about the long walk between the fridge and the television in the living room.
Dudley had spent most of the summer in the kitchen, his piggy lit t le eyes fixed on the
screen and his five chins wobbling as he ate continually.
Harry sat down between Dudley and Uncle Vernon, a large, beefy man with
very lit t le neck and a lot of mustache. Far from wishing Harry a happy birthday, none
of the Dursleys made any sign that they had not iced Harry enter the room, but Harry
was far too used to this to care. He helped himself to a piece of toast and then looked
up at the reporter on the television, who was halfway through a report on an escaped
convict:
“ … The public is warned that Black is armed and ext remely dangerous. A
special hot line has been set up, and any sight ing of Black should be reported
immediately.”
“ No need to tell us he’ s no good,” snorted Uncle Vernon, staring over the top
of his newspaper at the prisoner. “ Look at the state of him, the filthy layabout ! Look
at his hair!”
He shot a nasty look sideways at Harry, whose unt idy hair had always been a
source of great annoyance to Uncle Vernon. Compared to the man on the television,
however, whose gaunt face was surrounded by a mat ted, elbow–length tangle, Harry
felt very well groomed indeed.
The reporter had reappeared.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will announce today –”
“ Hang on!” barked Uncle Vernon, staring furiously at the reporter. “ You didn’ t
tell us where that maniac’ s escaped from! What use is that? Lunat ic could be coming
up the street right now!”
Aunt Petunia, who was bony and horse–faced, whipped around and peered
intent ly out of the kitchen window. Harry knew Aunt Petunia would simply love to be
the one to call the hot line number. She was the nosiest woman in the world, and
spent most of her life spying on the boring, law–abiding neighbors.
“When will they learn, ” said Uncle Vernon, pounding the table with his large
purple fist, “that hanging’s the only way to deal with these people?”
“ Very t rue,” said Aunt Petunia, who was st ill squint ing into next door’ s runner
beans.
Uncle Vernon drained his teacup, glanced at his watch, and added, “ I’ d bet ter
be off in a minute, Petunia. Marge’s train gets in at ten.”
Harry, whose thoughts had been upstairs with the Broomstick Servicing Kit, was
brought back to earth with an unpleasant bump.
“Aunt Marge?” he blurted out. “Sh – she’s not coming here, is she?”
Aunt Marge was Uncle Vernon’s sister. Even though she was not a blood relative
of Harry’ s (whose mother had been Aunt Petunia’ s sister), he had been forced to call
her “Aunt” all his life. Aunt Marge lived in the country, in a house with a large garden,
where she bred bulldogs. She didn’ t often stay at Privet Drive, because she couldn’ t
bear to leave her precious dogs, but each of her visits stood out horribly vividly in
Harry’s mind.
At Dudley’ s fifth birthday party, Aunt Margo had whacked Harry around the
shins with her walking st ick to stop him from beat ing Dudley at musical statues. A few
years later, she had turned up at Christmas with a computerized robot for Dudley and
a box of dog biscuits for Harry. On her last visit , the year before Harry started at
Hogwarts, Harry had accidentally t rodden on the tail of her favorite dog. Ripper had
chased Harry out into the garden and up a t ree, and Aunt Marge had refused to call
him off unt il past midnight . The memory of this incident st ill brought tears of laughter
to Dudley’s eyes.
“Marge’ ll be here for a week,” Uncle Vernon snarled, and while we’ re on the
subject” – he pointed a fat f inger threateningly at Harry – “ we need to get a few
things straight before I go and collect her.”
Dudley smirked and withdrew his gaze from the television. Watching Harry
being bullied by Uncle Vernon was Dudley’s favorite form of entertainment.
“ First ly,” growled Uncle Vernon, “ you’ ll keep a civil tongue in your head when
you’re talking to Marge.”
“All right,” said Harry bitterly, “if she does when she’s talking to me.
“ Secondly,” said Uncle Vernon, act ing as though he had not heard Harry’ s
reply, “as Marge doesn’t know anything about your abnormality, I don’t want any – any
funny stuff while she’s here. You behave yourself, got me?”
“I will if she does,” said Harry through gritted teeth.
“ And thirdly,” said Uncle Vernon, his mean lit t le eyes now slits in his great
purple face, “ we’ ve told Marge you at tend St . Brut us’ s Secure Cent er for Incurably
Criminal Boys.”
“What?” Harry yelled.
“ And you’ ll be st icking to that story, boy, or there’ ll be t rouble,” spat Uncle
Vernon.
Harry sat there, white–faced and furious, staring at Uncle Vernon, hardly able
to believe it . Aunt Marge coming for a weeklong visit – it was the worst birthday
present the Dursleys had ever given him, including that pair of Uncle Vernon’ s old
socks.
“Well, Petunia,” said Uncle Vernon, get t ing heavily to his feet , “ I’ ll be off to
the station, then. Want to come along for the ride, Dudders?”
“ No,” said Dudley, whose at tent ion had returned to the television now that
Uncle Vernon had finished threatening Harry.
“ Duddy’ s got to make himself smart for his aunt ie,” said Aunt Petunia,
smoothing Dudley’s thick blond hair. “Mummy’s bought him a lovely new bow tie.”
Uncle Vernon clapped Dudley on his porky shoulder. “ See you in a bit , then,”
he said, and he left the kitchen. Harry, who had been sit t ing in a kind of horrified
t rance, had a sudden idea. Abandoning his toast , he got quickly to his feet and
followed Uncle Vernon to the front door.
Uncle Vernon was pulling on his car coat.
“I’m not taking you,” he snarled as he turned to see Harry watching him.
“Like I wanted to come,” said Harry coldly. “I want to ask you something.”
Uncle Vernon eyed him suspiciously.
“ Third years at Hog – at my school are allowed to visit the village somet imes,”
said Harry.
“So?” snapped Uncle Vernon, taking his car keys from a hook next to the door.
“I need you to sign the permission form,” said Harry in a rush.
“And why should I do that?” sneered Uncle Vernon.
“Well,” said Harry, choosing his words carefully, “ it ’ ll be hard work,
pretending to Aunt Marge I go to that St. What its –”
“ St . Brut us’ s Secure Cent er for Incurably Criminal Boys!” bellowed Uncle
Vernon, and Harry was pleased to hear a definite note of panic in Uncle Vernon’ s
voice.
“Exactly,” said Harry, looking calmly up into Uncle Vernon’ s large, purple face.
“ It ’ s a lot to remember. I’ ll have to make it sound convincing, won’ t I? What if I
accidentally let something slip?”
“ You’ ll get the stuffing knocked out of you, won’ t you?” roared Uncle Vernon,
advancing on Harry with his fist raised. But Harry stood his ground.
“ Knocking the stuf fing out of me won’ t make Aunt Marge forget what I could
tell her,” he said grimly.
Uncle Vernon stopped, his fist still raised, his face an ugly puce.
“ But if you sign my permission form,” Harry went on quickly, “ I swear I’ ll
remember where I’m supposed to go to school, and I’ll act like a Mug –like I’m normal
and everything.”
Harry could tell that Uncle Vernon was thinking it over, even if his teeth were
bared and a vein was throbbing in his temple.
“ Right ,” he snapped finally. “ I shall monitor your behavior carefully during
Marge’ s visit . If , at the end of it , you’ ve toed the line and kept to the story, I’ ll sign
your ruddy form.”
He wheeled around, pulled open the front door, and slammed it so hard that
one of the lit t le panes of glass at the top fell out . Harry didn’ t return to the kitchen.
He went back upstairs to his bedroom. If he was going to act like a real Muggle, he’ d
bet ter start now. Slowly and sadly he gathered up all his presents and his birthday
cards and hid them under the loose floorboard with his homework. Then he went to
Hedwig’ s cage. Errol seemed to have recovered; he and Hedwig were both asleep,
heads under their wings. Harry sighed, then poked them both awake.
“ Hedwig,” he said gloomily, “ you’ re going to have to clear of f for a week. Go
with Errol. Ron’ ll look after you. I’ ll write him a note, explaining. And don’ t look at
me like that ” – Hedwig’ s large amber eyes were reproachful – “ it ’ s not my fault . It ’ s
the only way I’ll be allowed to visit Hogsmeade with Ron and Hermione.”
Ten minutes later, Errol and Hedwig (who had a note to Ron bound to her leg)
soared out of the window and out of sight . Harry, now feeling thoroughly miserable,
put the empty cage away inside the wardrobe. But Harry didn’ t have long to brood. In
next to no t ime, Aunt Petunia was shrieking up the stairs for Harry to come down and
get ready to welcome their guest.
“Do something about your hair!” Aunt Petunia snapped as he reached the hall.
Harry couldn’ t see the point of t rying to make his hair lie f lat . Aunt Marge
loved crit icizing him, so the unt idier he looked, the happier she would be. All too
soon, there was a crunch of gravel outside as Uncle Vernon’ s car pulled back into the
driveway, then the clunk of the car doors and footsteps on the garden path.
“Get the door!” Aunt Petunia hissed at Harry.
A feeling of great gloom in his stomach, Harry pulled the door open. On the
threshold stood Aunt Marge. She was very like Uncle Vernon: large, beefy, and purple–
faced, she even had a mustache, though not as bushy as his. In one hand she held an
enormous suitcase, and tucked under the other was an old and evil–tempered bulldog.
“Where’s my Dudders?” roared Aunt Marge. “Where’s my neffy–poo?”
Dudley came waddling down the hall, his blond hair plastered flat to his fat
head, a bow t ie j ust visible under his many chins. Aunt Marge thrust the suitcase into
Harry’ s stomach, knocking the wind out of him, seized Dudley in a t ight one–armed
hug, and planted a large kiss on his cheek.
Harry knew perfect ly well that Dudley only put up with Aunt Marge’ s hugs
because he was well paid for it , and sure enough, when they broke apart , Dudley had
a crisp twenty–pound note clutched in his fat fist.
“ Petunia!” shouted Aunt Marge, st riding past Harry as though he was a hat
stand. Aunt Marge and Aunt Petunia kissed, or rather, Aunt Marge bumped her large
jaw against Aunt Petunia’s bony cheekbone.
Uncle Vernon now came in, smiling jovially as he shut the door.
“Tea, Marge?” he said. “And what will Ripper take?”
“ Ripper can have some tea out of my saucer,” said Aunt Marge as they all
proceeded into the kitchen, leaving Harry alone in the hall with the suitcase. But
Harry wasn’ t complaining; any excuse not to be with Aunt Marge was fine by him, so
he began to heave the case upstairs into the spare bedroom, taking as long as he
could.
By the t ime he got back to the kitchen, Aunt Marge had been supplied with tea
and fruitcake, and Ripper was lapping noisily in the corner. Harry saw Aunt Petunia
wince slight ly as specks of tea and drool f lecked her clean f loor. Aunt Petunia hated
animals.
“Who’s looking after the other dogs, Marge?” Uncle Vernon asked.
“Oh, I’ ve got Colonel Fubster managing them,” boomed Aunt Marge. “ He’ s
ret ired now, good for him to have something to do. But I couldn’ t leave poor old
Ripper. He pines if he’s away from me.”
Ripper began to growl again as Harry sat down. This directed Aunt Marge’ s
attention to Harry for the first time.
“So!” she barked. “Still here, are you?”
“Yes,” said Harry.
“ Don’ t you say ‘ yes’ in that ungrateful tone,” Aunt Marge growled. “ It ’ s damn
good of Vernon and Petunia to keep you. Wouldn’ t have done it myself. You’ d have
gone straight to an orphanage if you’d been dumped on my doorstep.”
Harry was burst ing to say that he’d rather live in an orphanage than with the
Dursleys, but the thought of the Hogsmeade form stopped him. He forced his face into
a painful smile.
“Don’t you smirk at me!” boomed Aunt Marge. “I can see you haven’t improved
since I last saw you. I hoped school would knock some manners into you.” She took a
large gulp of tea, wiped her mustache, and said, “Where is it that you send him,
again, Vernon?”
“ St . Brutus’ s,” said Uncle Vernon prompt ly. “ It ’ s a first–rate inst itut ion for
hopeless cases.”
“ I see,” said Aunt Marge. “ Do they use the cane at St . Brutus’ s, boy?” she
barked across the table.
“Er –”
Uncle Vernon nodded curtly behind Aunt Marge’s back.
“ Yes,” said Harry. Then, feeling he might as well do the thing properly, he
added, “all the time.”
“ Excellent ,” said Aunt Marge. “ I won’ t have this namby–pamby, wishy–washy
nonsense about not hit t ing people who deserve it . A good thrashing is what ’ s needed
in ninety–nine cases out of a hundred. Have you been beaten often?”
“Oh, yeah,” said Harry, “loads of times.”
Aunt Marge narrowed her eyes.
“ I st ill don’ t like your tone, boy,” she said. “ If you can speak of your beat ings
in that casual way, they clearly aren’ t hit t ing you hard enough. Petunia, I’ d write if I
were you. Make it clear that you approve the use of extreme force in this boy’s case.”
Perhaps Uncle Vernon was worried that Harry might forget their bargain; in any
case, he changed the subject abruptly.
“Heard the news this morning, Marge? What about that escaped prisoner, eh?”
As Aunt Marge started to make herself at home, Harry caught himself thinking
almost longingly of life at number four without her. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia
usually encouraged Harry to stay out of their way, which Harry was only too happy to
do. Aunt Marge, on the other hand, wanted Harry under her eye at all t imes, so that
she could boom out suggestions for his improvement. She delighted in comparing Harry
with Dudley, and took huge pleasure in buying Dudley expensive presents while glaring
at Harry, as though daring him to ask why he hadn’ t got a present too. She also kept
throwing out dark hints about what made Harry such an unsatisfactory person.
“You mustn’ t blame yourself for the way the boy’ s turned out , Vernon,” she
said over lunch on the third day. “ If there’ s something rot ten on the inside, there’ s
nothing anyone can do about it.”
Harry t ried to concent rate on his food, but his hands shook and his face was
start ing to burn with anger. Remember the form, he told himself Think about
Hogsmeade.
‘Don’t say anything. Don’t rise.’
Aunt Marge reached for her glass of wine.
“ It ’ s one of the basic rules of breeding,” she said. “ You see it all the t ime with
dogs. If there’ s something wrong with the bitch, there’ ll be something wrong with the
pup –”
At that moment , the wineglass Aunt Marge was holding exploded in her hand.
Shards of glass flew in every direct ion and Aunt Marge sput tered and blinked, her
great ruddy face dripping.
“Marge!” squealed Aunt Petunia. “Marge, are you all right?”
“ Not to worry,” grunted Aunt Marge, mopping her face with her napkin. “Must
have squeezed it too hard. Did the same thing at Colonel Fubster’ s the other day. No
need to fuss, Petunia, I have a very firm grip…”
But Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon were both looking at Harry suspiciously, so
he decided he’d better skip dessert and escape from the table as soon as he could.
Outside in the hall, he leaned against the wall, breathing deeply. It had been a
long t ime since he’ d lost cont rol and made something explode. He couldn’ t afford to
let it happen again. The Hogsmeade form wasn’ t the only thing at stake –if he carried
on like that, he’d be in trouble with the Ministry of Magic.
Harry was st ill an underage wizard, and he was forbidden by wizard law to do
magic outside school. His record wasn’ t exact ly clean either. Only last summer he’ d
got ten an official warning that had stated quite clearly that if the Minist ry got wind of
any more magic in Privet Drive, Harry would face expulsion from Hogwarts.
He heard the Dursleys leaving the table and hurried upstairs out of the way.
Harry got through the next three days by forcing himself to think about his Handbook
of Do–It–Yoursel f Broomcare whenever Aunt Marge started on him. This worked quite
well, though it seemed to give him a glazed look, because Aunt Marge started voicing
the opinion that he was mentally subnormal.
At last , at long last , the final evening of Marge’ s stay arrived. Aunt Petunia
cooked a fancy dinner and Uncle Vernon uncorked several bottles of wine. They got all
the way through the soup and the salmon without a single ment ion of Harry’ s faults;
during the lemon meringue pie, Uncle Vernon bored them A with a long talk about
Grunnings, his drill–making company; then Aunt Petunia made coffee and Uncle Vernon
brought out a bottle of brandy.
“Can I tempt you, Marge?”
Aunt Marge had already had quite a lot of wine. Her huge face was very red.
“ Just a small one, then,” she chuckled. “ A bit more than that … and a bit
more… that’s the ticket.”
Dudley was eat ing his fourth slice of pie. Aunt Petunia was sipping coffee with
her lit t le finger st icking out . Harry really wanted to disappear into his bedroom, but
he met Uncle Vernon’s angry little eyes and knew he would have to sit it out.
“ Aah,” said Aunt Marge, smacking her lips and put t ing the empty brandy glass
back down. “ Excellent nosh, Petunia. It ’ s normally j ust a fry–up for me of an evening,
with twelve dogs to look after….” She burped richly and pat ted her great tweed
stomach. “ Pardon me. But I do like to see a healthy–sized boy,” she went on, winking
at Dudley. “ You’ ll be a proper–sized man, Dudders, like your father. Yes, I’ ll have a
spot more brandy, Vernon….”
“Now, this one here –”
She j erked her head at Harry, who felt his stomach clench. The Handbook, he
thought quickly.
“ This one’ s got a mean, runty look about him. You get that with dogs. I had
Colonel Fubster drown one last year. Ratty little thing it was – weak. Underbred.”
Harry was t rying to remember page twelve of his book: A Charm to Cure
Reluctant Reversers. “It all comes down to blood, as I was saying the other day.
“ Bad blood will out . Now, I’m saying nothing against your family, Petunia” she
pat ted Aunt Petunia’ s bony hand with her shovellike one “ but your sister was a bad
egg. They turn up in the best families. Then she ran off with a wast rel and here’ s the
result right in front of us.”
Harry was staring at his plate, a funny ringing in his ears. Grasp your broom
firmly by the tail, he thought . But he couldn’ t remember what came next . Aunt
Marge’s voice seemed to be boring into him like one of Uncle Vernon’s drills.
“ This Pot ter,” said Aunt Marge loudly, seizing the brandy bot t le and splashing
more into her glass and over the tablecloth, “you never told me what he did?”
Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were looking ext remely tense. Dudley had even
looked up from his pie to gape at his parents.
“He – didn’ t work,” said Uncle Vernon, with half a glance at Harry.
“Unemployed.”
“ As I expected!” said Aunt Marge, taking a huge swig of brandy and wiping her
chin on her sleeve. “A no–account, good–for–nothing, lazy scrounger who –”
“ He was not ,” said Harry suddenly. The table went very quiet . Harry was
shaking all over. He had never felt so angry in his life.
“MORE BRANDY!” yelled Uncle Vernon, who had gone very white. He empt ied
the bot t le into Aunt Marge’ s glass. “ You, boy,” he snarled at Harry. “ Go to bed, go on
–”
“No, Vernon,” hiccuped Aunt Marge, holding up a hand, her tiny bloodshot eyes
fixed on Harry’ s. “ Go on, boy, go on. Proud of your parents, are you?They go and get
themselves killed in a car crash (drunk, I expect) –”
‘They didn’t die in a car crash!” said Harry, who found himself on his feet.
“ They died in a car crash, you nasty lit t le liar, and lef t you to be a burden on
their decent , hardworking relat ives!” screamed Aunt Marge, swelling with fury. “ You
are an insolent, ungrateful little –”
But Aunt Marge suddenly stopped speaking. For a moment , it looked as though
words had failed her. She seemed to be swelling with inexpressible anger – but the
swelling didn’ t stop. Her great red face started to expand, her t iny eyes bulged, and
her mouth st retched too t ight ly for speech – next second, several but tons had j ust
burst from her tweed j acket and pinged off the walls – she was inflat ing like a
monst rous balloon, her stomach burst ing free of her tweed waistband, each of her
fingers blowing up like a salami –
“MARGE!” yelled Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia together as Aunt Marge’ s
whole body began to rise off her chair toward the ceiling. She was ent irely round,
now, like a vast life buoy with piggy eyes, and her hands and feet stuck out weirdly as
she drifted up into the air, making apoplect ic popping noises. Ripper came skidding
into the room, barking madly.
“NOOOOOOO!”
Uncle Vernon seized one of Marge’ s feet and t ried to pull her down again, but
was almost lifted from the floor himself. A second later, Ripper leapt forward and sank
his teeth into Uncle Vernon’ s leg. Harry tore f rom the dining room before anyone
could stop him, heading for the cupboard under the stairs. The cupboard door burst
magically open as he reached it. In seconds, he had heaved his trunk to the front door.
He sprinted upstairs and threw himself under the bed, wrenching up the loose
floorboard, and grabbed the pillowcase full of his books and birthday present s. He
wriggled out , seized Hedwig’ s empty cage, and dashed back downstairs to his t runk,
just as Uncle Vernon burst out of the dining room, his trouser leg in bloody tatters.
“COME BACK IN HERE!” he bellowed. “COME BACK AND PUT HER RIGHT!”
But a reckless rage had come over Harry. He kicked his t runk open, pulled out
his wand, and pointed it at Uncle Vernon.
“She deserved it,” Harry said, breathing very fast. “She deserved what she got.
You keep away from me.”
He fumbled behind him for the latch on the door.
“I’m going,” Harry said. “I’ve had enough.”
And in the next moment , he was out in the dark, quiet st reet , heaving his
heavy trunk behind him, Hedwig’s cage under his arm.
CHAPTER THREE – THE KNIGHT BUS
Harry was several st reets away before he collapsed onto a low wall in Magnolia
Crescent , pant ing from the effort of dragging his t runk. He sat quite st ill, anger st ill
surging through him, listening to the frant ic thumping of his heart . But after ten
minutes alone in the dark st reet , a new emot ion overtook him: panic. Whichever way
he looked at it , he had never been in a worse fix. He was stranded, quite alone, in the
dark Muggle world, with absolutely nowhere to go. And the worst of it was, he had just
done serious magic, which meant that he was almost certainly expelled from
Hogwarts. He had broken the Decree for the Rest rict ion of Underage Wizardry so
badly, he was surprised Minist ry of Magic representat ives weren’ t swooping down on
him where he sat. Harry shivered and looked up and down Magnolia Crescent.
What , was going to happen to him?Would he be arrested, or would he simply
be outlawed from the wizarding world? He thought of Ron and Hermione, and his heart
sank even lower. Harry was sure that , criminal or not , Ron and Hermione would want
to help him now, but they were both abroad, and with Hedwig gone, he had no means
of contact ing them. He didn’ t have any Muggle money, either. There was a lit t le
wizard gold in the money bag at the bot tom of his t runk, but the rest of the fortune
his parents had left him was stored in a vault at Gringot ts Wizarding Bank in London.
He’d never be able to drag his trunk all the way to London. Unless…
He looked down at his wand, which he was st ill clut ching in his hand. If he was
already expelled (his heart was. now thumping painfully fast ), a bit more magic
couldn’ t hurt . He had the Invisibility Cloak he had inherited from his father – what if
he bewit ched the t runk to make it feather–light , t ied it to his broomst ick, covered
himself in the cloak, and f lew to London? Then he could get the rest of his money out
of his vault and… begin his life as an outcast . It was a horrible prospect , but he
couldn’t sit on this wall forever, or he’d find himself trying to explain to Muggle police
why he was out in the dead of night with a trunkful of spellbooks and a broomstick.
Harry opened his t runk again and pushed the contents aside, looking for the
Invisibilit y Cloak – but before he had found it , he st raightened up suddenly, looking
around him once more. A funny prickling on the back of his neck had made Harry feel
he was being watched, but the st reet appeared to be deserted, and no lights shone
from any of the large square houses.
He bent over his t runk again, but almost immediately stood up once more, his
hand clenched on his wand. He had sensed rather than heard it: someone or something
was standing in the narrow gap between the garage and the fence behind him. Harry
squinted at the black alleyway. If only it would move, then he’ d know whether it was
just a stray cat or – something else.
“ Lumos,” Harry mut tered, and a light appeared at the end of his wand, almost
dazzling him. He held it high over his head, and the pebble–dashed walls of number
two suddenly sparkled; the garage door gleamed, and between them Harry saw, quite
dist inct ly, the hulking out line of something very big, with wide, gleaming eyes. Harry
stepped backward. His legs hit his t runk and he t ripped. His wand f lew out of his hand
as he flung out an arm to break his fall, and he landed, hard, in the gutter –
There was a deafening BANG, and Harry threw up his hands to shield his eyes
against a sudden blinding light –
With a yell, he rolled back onto the pavement , j ust in t ime. A second later, a
gigant ic pair of wheels and headlights screeched to a halt exact ly where Harry had
j ust been lying. They belonged, as Harry saw when he raised his head, to a t riple–
decker, violent ly purple bus, which had appeared out of thin air. Gold let tering over
the windshield spelled The Knight Bus.
For a split second, Harry wondered if he had been knocked silly by his fall.
Then a conductor in a purple uniform leapt out of the bus and began to speak loudly to
the night.
“Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency t ransport for the st randed witch or
wizard. Just st ick out your wand hand, step on board) and we can take you anywhere
you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this eve –”
The conductor stopped abrupt ly. He had j ust caught sight of “ Harry, who was
still sitting on the ground. Harry snatched up his wand again and scrambled to his feet.
Close up, he saw that Stan Shunpike was only a few years older than he was, eighteen
or nineteen at most, with large, protruding ears and quite a few pimples.
“What were you doin’ down there?” said Stan, dropping his professional
manner.
“Fell over,” said Harry.
“‘Choo fall over for?” sniggered Stan.
“ I didn’ t do it on purpose,” said Harry, annoyed. One of the knees in his j eans
was torn, and the hand he had thrown out to break his fall was bleeding. He suddenly
remembered why he had fallen over and turned around quickly to stare at the
alleyway between the garage and fence. The Knight Bus’ s headlamps were flooding it
with light, and it was empty.
“‘Choo lookin’ at?” said Stan.
“ There was a big black thing,” said Harry, point ing uncertainly into the gap.
“Like a dog… but massive…”
He looked around at Stan, whose mouth was slight ly open. With a feeling of
unease, Harry saw Sta’s eyes move to the scar on Harry’s forehead.
“Woss that on your ‘ead?” said Stan abruptly.
“Nothing,” said Harry quickly, flattening his hair over his scar. If the Ministry of
Magic was looking for him, he didn’t want to make it too easy for them.
“Woss your name?” Stan persisted.
“ Neville Longbot tom,” said Harry, saying the first name that came into his
head. “ So – so this bus,” he went on quickly, hoping to dist ract Stan, “ did you say it
goes anywhere?”
“ Yep,” said Stan proudly, “ anywhere you like, long’ s it ’ s on land. Can’ t do
nuffink underwater. ‘Ere,” he said, looking suspicious again. You did flag us down,
dincha? Stuck out your wand ‘and, dincha?”
“Yes,” said Harry quickly. “Listen, how much would it be to get to London?”
“ Eleven Sickles,” said Stan, “ but for fifteen you get ‘ or chocolate, and for
fifteen you get an ‘ot water bottle an’ a toothbrush in the color of your choice.”
Harry rummaged once more in his t runk, ext racted his moneybag, and shoved
some gold into Stan’ s hand. He and Stan then lifted his t runk, with Hedwig’ s cage
balanced on top, up the steps of the bus. There were no seats; instead, half a dozen
brass bedsteads stood beside the curtained windows. Candles were burning in brackets
beside each bed, illuminat ing the wood–paneled walls. A t iny wizard in a nightcap at
the rear of the bus mut tered, “ Not now, thanks, I’m pickling some slugs” and rolled
over in his sleep.
“ You ‘ ave this one,” Stan whispered, shoving Harry’ s t runk under the bed right
behind the driver, who was sit t ing in an armchair in f ront of the steering wheel. “ This
is our driver, Ernie Prang. This is Neville Longbottom, Ern. “
Ernie Prang, an elderly wizard wearing very thick glasses, nodded to Harry, who
nervously flattened his bangs again and sat down on his bed.
“ Take ‘ er away, Ern,” said Stan, sit t ing down in the armchair next to Ernie’ s.
There was another t remendous BANG, and the next moment Harry found himself flat
on his bed, thrown backward by the speed of the Knight Bus. Pulling himself up, Harry
stared out of the dark window and saw that they were now bowling along a completely
different street. Stan was watching Harry’s stunned face with great enjoyment.
“ This is where we was before you flagged us down,” he said. “Where are we,
Ern? Somewhere in Wales?”
“Ar,” said Ernie.
“How come the Muggles don’t hear the bus?” said Harry.
“ Them!” said Stan contemptuously. “ Don’ listen properly, do they? Don’ look
properly either. Never notice nuffink, they don’.”
“ Best go wake up Madam Marsh, Stan,” said Ern. “We’ ll be in Abergavenny in a
minute.”
Stan passed Harry’ s bed and disappeared up a narrow wooden staircase. Harry
was st ill looking out of the window, feeling increasingly nervous. Ernie didn’ t seem to
have mastered the use of a steering wheel. TheKnight Bus kept mount ing the
pavement , but it didn’ t hit anything; lines of lampposts, mailboxes, and t rashcans
jumped out of its way as it approached and back into position once it had passed. Stan
came back downstairs, followed by a faintly green witch wrapped in a traveling cloak.
“ ‘Ere you go, Madam Marsh,” said Stan happily as Ern stamped on the brake
and the beds slid a foot or so toward the f ront of the bus. Madam Marsh clamped a
handkerchief to her mouth and tottered down the steps.
Stan threw her bag out after her and rammed the doors shut ; there was
another loud BANG, and they were thundering down a narrow count ry lane, t rees
leaping out of the way. Harry wouldn’ t have been able to sleep even if he had been
t raveling on a bus that didn’ t keep banging loudly and j umping a hundred miles at a
t ime. His stomach churned as he fell back to wondering what was going to happen to
him, and whether the Dursleys had managed to get Aunt Marge off the ceiling yet.
Stan had unfurled a copy of the Daily Prophet and was now reading with his
tongue between his teeth. A large photograph of a sunken–faced man with long,
matted hair blinked slowly at Harry from the front page. He looked strangely familiar.
“ That man!” Harry said, forget t ing his t roubles for a moment . “ He was on the
Muggle news!”
Stanley turned to the front page and chuckled.
“ Sirius Black,” he said, nodding. “ ‘Course ‘ e was on the Muggle news, Neville,
where you been?”
He gave a superior sort of chuckle at the blank look on Harry’ s face, removed
the front page, and handed it to Harry.
“You oughta read the papers more, Neville.”
Harry held the paper up to the candlelight and read:
BLACK STILL AT LARGE
Sirius Black, possibly the most infamous prisoner ever to be held
in Azkaban fort ress, is st il l eluding capt ure, t he Minist ry of Magic
confirmed today.
“We are doing al l we can t o recapture Black,” said t he Minist er
of Magic, Cornel ius Fudge, t his morning, “ and we beg t he magical
community to remain calm.”
Fudge has been crit icized by some members of t he Int ernat ional
Federat ion of Warlocks for informing t he Muggle Prime Minister of t he
crisis.
“Well, really, I had to, don’t you know,” said an irritable Fudge.
“ Black is mad. He’ s a danger to anyone who crosses him, magic or
Muggle. I have t he Prime Minist er’ s assurance t hat he wil l not breat he
a word of Black’ s t rue ident it y t o anyone. And let ’ s face it–who’d
believe him if he did?”
While Muggles have been told t hat Black is carrying a gun (a
kind of metal wand t hat Muggles use to kil l each ot her), t he magical
communit y l ives in fear of a massacre l ike t hat of twelve years ago,
when Black murdered thirteen people with a single curse.
Harry looked into the shadowed eyes of Sirius Black, the only part of the
sunken face that seemed alive. Harry had never met a vampire, but he had seen
pictures of them in his Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, and Black, with his waxy
white skin, looked just like one.
“Scary–lookin’ fing, inee?” said Stan, who had been watching Harry read.
“ He murdered thirteen people?” said Harry, handing the page back to Stan,
“with one curse?”
“ Yep,” said Stan, “ in front of witnesses an’ all. Broad daylight . Big t rouble it
caused, dinnit, Ern?”
“Ar,” said Ern darkly.
Stan swiveled in his armchair, his hands on the back, the bet ter to look at
Harry.
“Black woz a big supporter of You–Know–’Oo,” he said.
“What, Voldemort?” said Harry, without thinking.
Even Stan’ s pimples went white; Ern j erked the steering wheel so hard that a
whole farmhouse had to jump aside to avoid the bus.
“You outta your tree?” yelped Stan. “‘Choo say ‘is name for?”
“Sorry,” said Harry hastily. “Sorry, I – I forgot –”
“Forgot!” said Stan weakly. “Blimey, my ‘eart’s goin’ that fast …”
“So – so Black was a supporter of You–Know–Who?” Harry prompted
apologetically.
“ Yeah,” said Stan, st ill rubbing his chest . “ Yeah, that ’ s right . Very close to
You–Know–’Oo, they say. Anyway, when lit t le ‘Arry Pot ter got the bet ter of You–Know–
’Oo –”
Harry nervously flattened his bangs down again.
“ – all You–Know–’Oo’ s supporters was t racked down, wasn’ t they, Ern?Most of
‘ em knew it was all over, wiv You–Know–’Oo gone, and they came quiet . But not Sirius
Black. I ‘ eard he thought ‘ e’ d be second–in–command once You–Know–’Oo ‘ ad taken
over.
“ Anyway, they cornered Black in the middle of a st reet full of Muggles an’
Black took out ‘ is wand and ‘ e blasted ‘ alf the st reet apart , an’ a wizard got it , an’ so
did a dozen Muggles what got in the way. ‘Orrible, eh? An’ you know what Black did
then?” Stan continued in a dramatic whisper.
“What?” said Harry.
“ Laughed,” said Stan. “ Jus’ stood there an’ laughed. An’ when reinforcement s
from the Minist ry of Magic got there, I ‘ e went wiv em quiet as anyfink, st ill laughing
‘is ‘ead off. ‘Cos ‘e’s mad, inee, Ern? Inee mad?”
“ If he weren’ t when he went to Azkaban, he will be now,” said Ern in his slow
voice. “ I’ d blow meself up before I set foot in that place. Serves him right , mind you
… after what he did….”
“They ‘ad a job coverin’ it up, din’ they, Ern?” Stan said. “‘Ole street blown up
an’ all them Muggles dead. What was it they said ad ‘appened, Ern?”
“Gas explosion,” grunted Ernie.
“ An’ now ‘ e’ s out ,” said Stan, examining the newspaper picture of Black’ s
gaunt face again. “ Never been a breakout f rom Azkaban before, ‘ as there, Ern? Beats
me ‘ow ‘e did it. Frightenin’, eh? Mind, I don’t fancy ‘is chances against them Azkaban
guards, eh, Ern?”
Ernie suddenly shivered.
“ Talk about summat else, Stan, there’ s a good lad. Them Azkaban guards give
me the collywobbles.”
Stan put the paper away reluctant ly, and Harry leaned against the window of
the Knight Bus, feeling worse than ever. He couldn’ t help imagining what Stan might
be telling his passengers in a few nights’ time.
“ ‘Ear about that ‘Arry Pot ter? Blew up ‘ is aunt ! We ‘ ad ‘ im ‘ ere on the Knight
Bus, di’n’t we, Ern? ‘E was tryin’ I to run for it….”
He, Harry, had broken wizard law j ust like Sirius Black. Was inflat ing Aunt
Marge bad enough to land him in Azkaban? Harry didn’ t know anything about the
wizard prison, though everyone he’ d ever heard speak of it did so in the same fearful
tone. Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper, had spent two months there only last year.
Harry wouldn’ t soon forget the look of terror on Hagrid’ s face when he had been told
where he was going, and Hagrid was one of the bravest people Harry knew.
The Knight Bus rolled through the darkness, scat tering bushes and
wastebaskets, telephone booths and t rees, and Harry lay, rest less and miserable, on
his feather bed. After a while, Stan remembered that Harry had paid for hot
chocolate, but poured it all over Harry’ s pillow when the bus moved abrupt ly from
Anglesea to Aberdeen. One by one, wizards and witches in dressing gowns and slippers
descended from the upper floors to leave the bus. They all looked very pleased to go.
Finally, Harry was the only passenger left.
“Right then, Neville,” said Stan, clapping his hands, where abouts in London?”
“Diagon Alley,” said Harry.
“ Righto,” said Stan. “‘Old tight, then.”
BANG.
They were thundering along Charing Cross Road. Harry sat up and watched
buildings and benches squeezing themselves out of the Knight Bus’ s way. The sky was
get t ing a lit t le lighter. He would lie low for a couple of hours, go to Gringot ts the
moment it opened, then set off – where, he didn’t know.
Ern slammed on the brakes and the Knight Bus skidded to a halt in front of a
small and shabby– looking pub, the Leaky Cauldron, behind which lay the magical
entrance to Diagon Alley.
“Thanks,” Harry said to Ern.
He j umped down the steps and helped Stan lower his t runk and Hedwig’ s cage
onto the pavement.
“Well,” said Harry. “‘Bye then!”
But Stan wasn’ t paying at tent ion. St ill standing in the doorway to the bus) he
was goggling at the shadowy ent rance to the Leaky Cauldron. “ There you are, Harry,”
said a voice.
Before Harry could turn, he felt a hand on his shoulder. At the same t ime, Stan
shouted, “Blimey! Ern, come ‘ere! Come ‘ere!”
Harry looked up at the owner of the hand on his shoulder and felt a bucket ful
of ice cascade into his stomach – he had walked right into Cornelius Fudge, the
Minister of Magic himself.
Stan leapt onto the pavement beside them.
“What did ya call Neville, Minister?” he said excitedly.
Fudge, a port ly lit t le man in a long, pinst riped cloak, looked cold and
exhausted.
“Neville?” he repeated, frowning. “This is Harry Potter.”
“ I knew it !” Stan shouted gleefully. “ Ern! Ern! Guess ‘ oo Neville is, Ern! ‘E’ s
‘Arry Potter! I can see ‘is scar!”
“ Yes,” said Fudge test ily, “ well, I’m very glad the Knight Bus picked Harry up,
but he and I need to step inside the Leaky Cauldron now…”
Fudge increased the pressure on Harry’ s shoulder, and Harry found himself
being steered inside the pub. A stooping figure bearing a lantern appeared through the
door behind the bar. It was Tom, the wizened, toothless landlord.
“ You’ ve got him, Minister!” said Tom. “Will you be want ing anything? Beer?
Brandy?”
“Perhaps a pot of tea,” said Fudge, who still hadn’t let go of Harry.
There was a loud scraping and puffing from behind them, and Stan and Ern
appeared, carrying Harry’s trunk and Hedwig’s cage and looking around excitedly.
“ ‘Ow come you di’ n’ t tell us ‘ oo you are, eh, Neville?” said Stan, beaming at
Harry, while Ernie’s owlish face peered interestedly over Stan’s shoulder.
“And a private parlor, please, Tom,” said Fudge pointedly.
‘Bye,” Harry said miserably to Stan and Ern as Tom beckoned Fudge toward the
passage that led from the bar.
“‘Bye, Neville!” called Stan.
Fudge marched Harry along the narrow passage after Tom’ s lantern, and then
into a small parlor. Tom clicked his fingers, a fire burst into life in the grate, and he
bowed himself out of the room.
“Sit down, Harry,” said Fudge, indicating a chair by the fire.
Harry sat down, feeling goose bumps rising up his arms despite the glow of the
fire. Fudge took off his pinst riped cloak and tossed it aside, then hitched up the
trousers of his bottle–green suit and sat down opposite Harry.
“I am Cornelius Fudge, Harry. The Minister of Magic.”
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 t ime, Fudge wasn’ t to know
that.
Tom the innkeeper reappeared, wearing an apron over his nightshirt and
bearing a t ray of tea and crumpets. He placed the t ray 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 but tered 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 Marj orie 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 react ion of your aunt and uncle?” said Fudge.
“Well, I won’ t deny that they are ext remely 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 different ly once you’ ve calmed down,” said
Fudge in a worried tone. “ They are your family, af ter 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 st ill wait ing to hear what
was going to happen to him now.
“ So all that remains,” said Fudge, now but tering himself a second crumpet , “ is
to decide where you’ re going to spend the last two weeks of your vacat ion. 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 Rest rict ion of Underage
Wizardry!”
“Oh, my dear boy, we’ re not going to punish you for a lit t le thing like that !”
cried Fudge, waving his crumpet impat ient ly. “ It was an accident ! We don’ t send
people to Azkaban just for blowing up their aunts!”
But this didn’t tally at all with Harry’s past dealings with the Ministry of Magic.
“Last year, I got an official warning just because a house–elf smashed a pudding
in my uncle’ s house!” he told Fudge, frowning. “ The Minist ry of Magic said I’ d be
expelled from Hogwarts if there was any more magic there!”
Unless Harry’s eyes were deceiving him, Fudge was suddenly looking awkward.
“Circumstances change, Harry… We have to take into account… in the present
climate… Surely you don’t want to be expelled?”
“Of course I don’t,” said Harry.
“Well then, what ’ s the fuss about?” laughed Fudge. “ Now, have a crumpet ,
Harry, while I go and see if Tom’s got a room for you.”
Fudge st rode out of the parlor and Harry stared after him. There was
something ext remely odd going on. Why had Fudge been wait ing for him at the Leaky
Cauldron, if not to punish him for what he’ d done?And now Harry came to think of it ,
surely it wasn’ t usual for the Minister of Magic himself to get involved in mat ters of
underage magic?
Fudge came back, accompanied by Tom the innkeeper.
“ Room eleven’ s free, Harry,” said Fudge. “ I think you’ ll be very comfortable.
Just one thing, and I’m sure you’ ll understand… I don’ t want you wandering off into
Muggle London, all right? Keep to Diagon Alley. And you’re to be back here before dark
each night. Sure you’ll understand. Tom will be keeping an eye on you for me.”
“Okay,” said Harry slowly, “but why?”
“ Don’ t want to lose you again, do we?” said Fudge with a hearty laugh. “ No,
no… best we know where you are…. I mean…”
Fudge cleared his throat loudly and picked up his pinst riped cloak. “Well, I’ ll
be off, plenty to do, you know…”
“Have you had any luck with Black yet?” Harry asked.
Fudge’s finger slipped on the silver fastenings of his cloak.
“What ’ s that? Oh, you’ ve heard – well, no, not yet , but it ’ s only a mat ter of
t ime. The Azkaban guards have never yet failed… and they are angrier than I’ ve ever
seen them.”
Fudge shuddered slightly.
“So, I’ll say good–bye.”
He held out his hand and Harry, shaking it, had a sudden idea.
“Er – Minister? Can I ask you something?”
“Certainly,” said Fudge with a smile.
“Well, third years at Hogwarts are allowed to visit Hogsmeade, but my aunt
and uncle didn’t sign the permission form. D’you think you could –?”
Fudge was looking uncomfortable.
“ Ah,” he said. “ No, no, I’m very sorry, Harry, but as I’m not your parent or
guardian –”
“ But you I re the Minister of Magic,” said Harry eagerly. “ If you gave me
permission…”
“No, I’m sorry, Harry, but rules are rules,” said Fudge flatly.
‘Perhaps you’ ll be able to visit Hogsmeade next year. In fact , I think it ’ s best if
you don’t… yes… well, I’ll be off. Enjoy your stay, Harry.”
And with a last smile and shake of Harry’ s hand, Fudge lef t the room. Tom now
moved forward, beaming at Harry.
“If you’ll follow me, Mr. Potter,” he said, “I’ve already taken your things up…”
Harry followed Tom up a handsome wooden staircase to a door with a brass
number eleven on it , which Tom unlocked and opened for him. Inside was a very
comfortable–looking bed, some highly polished oak furniture, a cheerfully crackling
fire and, perched on top of the wardrobe –
“Hedwig!” Harry gasped.
The snowy owl clicked her beak and fluttered down onto Harry’s arm.
“ Very smart owl you’ ve got there, chuckled Tom. “ Arrived about five minutes
after you did. If there’s anything you need, Mr. Potter, don’t hesitate to ask.”
He gave another bow and left . Harry sat on his bed for a long t ime, absent –
mindedly st roking Hedwig. The sky outside the window was changing rapidly from
deep, velvety blue to cold, steely gray and then, slowly, to pink shot with gold. Harry
could hardly believe that he’ d left Privet Drive only a few hours ago, that he wasn’ t
expelled, and that he was now facing two completely Dursley–free weeks.
“It’s been a very weird night, Hedwig,” he yawned.
And without even removing his glasses, he slumped back onto his pillows and
fell asleep.
CHAPTER FOUR – THE LEAKY CAULDRON
It took Harry several days to get used to his strange new freedom. Never before
had he been able to get up whenever he wanted or eat whatever he fancied. He could
even go wherever he pleased, as long as it was in Diagon Alley, and as this long
cobbled st reet was packed with the most fascinat ing wizarding shops in the world,
Harry felt no desire to break his word to Fudge and stray back into the Muggle world.
Harry ate breakfast each morning in the Leaky Cauldron, where he liked
watching the other guests: funny lit t le wit ches from the count ry, up for a day’ s
shopping; venerable–looking wizards arguing over the latest art icle in Transfiguration
Today; wild–looking warlocks; raucous dwarfs; and once, what looked suspiciously like
a hag, who ordered a plate of raw liver from behind a thick woolen balaclava.
After breakfast Harry would go out into the backyard, take out his wand, tap
the third brick from the left above the t rash bit ,, and stand back as the archway into
Diagon Alley opened in the wall. Harry spent the long sunny days exploring the shops
and eat ing under the bright ly colored umbrellas outside cafes, where his fellow diners
were showing one another their purchases (“ It ’ s a lunascope, old boy – no more
messing around with moon charts, see?” ) or else discussing the case of Sirius Black
(“ Personally, I won’ t let any of the children out alone unt il he’ s back in Azkaban” ).
Harry didn’ t have to do his homework under the blankets by f lashlight anymore; now
he could sit in the bright sunshine outside Florean Fort escue’ s Ice Cream Parlor,
finishing all his essays with occasional help from Florean Fortescue himself, who, apart
from knowing a great deal about medieval witch burnings, gave Harry free sundaes
every half an hour.
Once Harry had refilled his money bag with gold Galleons, silver Sickles, and
bronze Knuts from his vault at Gringotts, he had to exercise a lot of self–control not to
spend the whole lot at once. He had to keep reminding himself that he had five years
to go at Hogwarts, and how it would feel to ask the Dursleys for money for spellbooks,
to stop himself f rom buying a handsome set of solid gold Gobstones (a wizarding game
rather like marbles, in which the stones squirt a nasty–smelling liquid into the other
player’ s face when they lose a point ). He was sorely tempted, too, by the perfect ,
moving model of the galaxy in a large glass ball, which would have meant he never
had to take another Ast ronomy lesson. But the thing that tested Harry’ s resolut ion
most appeared in his favorite shop, Qual it y Quiddit ch Suppl ies, a week after he’ d
arrived at the Leaky Cauldron.
Curious to know what the crowd in the shop was staring at , Harry edged his
way inside and squeezed in among the excited witches and wizards until he glimpsed a
newly erected podium, on which was mounted the most magnificent broom he had
ever seen in his life.
“ Just come out – prototype –” a square–j awed wizard was telling his
companion.
“ It ’ s the fastest broom in the world, isn’ t it , Dad?” squeaked a boy younger
than Harry, who was swinging off his father’s arm.
“Irish International Side’s Just put in an order for seven of these beauties!” the
proprietor of the shop told the crowd. “And they’re favorites for the World Cup!”
A large witch in front of Harry moved, and he was able to read the sign next to
the broom:
** THE FIREBOLT **
THIS STATE–OF–THE–ART PACING BROOM SPORTS A STREAM–LINED,
SUPERFINE HANDLE OF ASH, TREATED WITH A DIAMOND–HARD POLISH
AND HAND–NUMBERED WITH ITS OWN REGISTRATION NUMBER. EACH
INDIVIDUALLY SELECTED BIRCH TWIG IN THE BROOMTAIL HAS BEEN
HONED TO AERODYNAMIC PERFECTION, GIVING THE FIREBOLT
UNSURPASSABLE BALANCE AND PINPOINT PRECISION. THE FIREBOLT HAS
AN ACCELERATION OF 150 MILES AN HOUR IN TEN SECONDS AND
INCORPORATES AN UNBREAKABLE BRAKING CHARM.
PRICE ON REQUEST.
Price on request … Harry didn’ t like to think how much gold the Firebolt would
cost . He had never wanted anything as much in his whole life –but he had never lost a
Quidditch match on his Nimbus Two Thousand, and what was the point in empt ying his
Gringot ts vault for the Firebolt , when he had a very good broom already?Harry didn’ t
ask for the price, but he returned, almost every day af ter that , j ust to look at the
Firebolt.
There were, however, things that Harry needed to buy. He went to the
Apothecary to replenish his store of pot ions ingredients, and as his school robes were
now several inches too short in the arm and leg, he visited Madam Malkin’ s Robes for
Al l Occasions and bought new ones. Most important of all, he had to buy his new
schoolbooks, which would include those for his two new subj ects, Care of Magical
Creatures and Divination.
Harry got a surprise as he looked in at the bookshop window. Instead of the
usual display of gold– embossed spellbooks the size of paving slabs, there was a large
iron cage behind the glass that held about a hundred copies of The Monst er Book of
Monsters. Torn pages were flying everywhere as the books grappled with each other,
locked together in furious wrestling matches and snapping aggressively.
Harry pulled his booklist out of his pocket and consulted it for the first t ime.
The Monster Book of Monsters was listed as the required book for Care of Magical
Creatures. Now Harry understood why Hagrid had said it would come in useful. He felt
relieved; he had been wondering whether Hagrid wanted help with some terrifying
new pet.
As Harry entered Flourish and Blotts, the manager came hurrying toward him.
“Hogwarts?” he said abruptly. “Come to get your new books?”
“Yes,” said Harry, “I need –”
“Get out of the way,” said the manager impat ient ly, brushing Harry aside. He
drew on a pair of very thick gloves, picked up a large, knobbly walking st ick, and
proceeded toward the door of the Monster Books’ cage.
“Hang on,” said Harry quickly, “I’ve already got one of those.”
“ Have you?” A look of enormous relief spread over the manager’ s face. “ Thank
heavens for that. I’ve been bitten five times already this morning –”
A loud ripping noise rent the air; two of the Monster Books had seized a third
and were pulling it apart.
“ Stop it ! Stop it !” cried the manager, poking the walking st ick through the bars
and knocking the books apart . “ I’m never stocking them again, never! It ’ s been
bedlam! I thought we’ d seen the worst when we bought two hundred copies of the
Invisible Book of Invisibil it y – cost a fortune, and we never found them…. Well… is
there anything else I can help you with?”
“ Yes,” said Harry, looking down his booklist , “ I need Unfogging t he Fut ure by
Cassandra Vablatsky.”
“ Ah, start ing Divinat ion, are you?” said the manager, st ripping off his gloves
and leading Harry into the back of the shop, where there was a corner devoted to
fortune–telling. A small table was stacked with volumes such as Predict ing t he
Unpredictable: Insulate Yourself Against Shocks and Broken Balls: When Fortunes Turn
Foul.
“Here you are,” said the manager, who had climbed a set of steps to take down
a thick, black– bound book. “ Unfogging t he Fut ure. Very good guide to all your basic
fortune–telling methods – palmistry, crystal balls, bird entrails.
But Harry wasn’ t listening. His eyes had fallen on another book, which was
among a display on a small table: Deat h Omens – What t o Do When You Know t he
Worst Is Coming.
“Oh, I wouldn’ t read that if I were you,” said the manager light ly, looking to
see what Harry was staring at . “ You’ ll start seeing death omens everywhere. It ’ s
enough to frighten anyone to death.”
But Harry cont inued to stare at the front cover of the book; it showed a black
dog large as a bear, with gleaming eyes. It looked oddly familiar… The manager
pressed Unfogging the Future into Harry’s hands.
“Anything else?” he said.
“ Yes,” said Harry, tearing his eyes away from the dog’ s and dazedly consult ing
his booklist . “ Er – I need Int ermediat e Transf igurat ion and The St andard Book of
Spells, Grade Three.”
Harry emerged f rom Flourish and Blot ts ten minutes later with his new books
under his arms and made his way back to the Leaky Cauldron, hardly not icing where
he was going and bumping into several people. He t ramped up the stairs to his room,
went inside, and t ipped his books onto his bed. Somebody had been in to t idy; the
windows were open and sun was pouring inside. Harry could hear the buses rolling by
in the unseen Muggle st reet behind him and the sound of the invisible crowd below in
Diagon Alley. He caught sight of himself in the mirror over the basin.
“ It can’ t have been a death omen,” he told his reflect ion defiant ly. “ I was
panicking when I saw that thing in Magnolia Crescent …. It was probably j ust a st ray
dog….”
He raised his hand automatically and tried to make his hair lie flat
“You’re fighting a losing battle there, dear,” said his mirror in a wheezy voice.
As the days slipped by, Harry started looking wherever he went for a sign of
Ron or Hermione. Plenty of Hogwarts students were arriving in Diagon Alley now, with
the start of term so near. Harry met Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, his fellow
Gryffindors, in Quality Quidditch Supplies, where they too were ogling the Firebolt; he
also ran into the real Neville Longbot tom, a round–faced, forget ful boy, outside
Flourish and Blot ts. Harry didn’ t stop to chat ; Neville appeared to have mislaid his
booklist and was being told off by his very formidable–looking grandmother. Harry
hoped she never found out that he’ d pretended to be Neville while on the run from
the Ministry of Magic.
Harry woke on the last day of the holidays, thinking that he would at least
meet Ron and Hermione tomorrow, on the Hogwarts Express. He got up, dressed, went
for a last look at the Firebolt , and was j ust wondering where he’ d have lunch, when
someone yelled his name and he turned.
“Harry! HARRY!”
They were there, both of them, sit t ing outside Florean Fort escue’ s Ice Cream
Parlor – Ron looking incredibly freckly, Hermione was very brown, both waving
frantically at him.
“ Finally!” said Ron, grinning at Harry as he sat down. “We went to the Leaky
Cauldron, but they said you’ d left , and we went to Flourish and Blot ts, and Madam
Malkin’s, and –”
“ I got all my school stuff last week,” Harry explained. “ And how come You
knew I’m staying at the Leaky Cauldron?”
“Dad,” said Ron simply.
Mr. Weasley, who worked at the Minist ry of Magic, would of course have heard
the whole story of what had happened to Aunt Marge.
“ Did you really blow up your aunt , Harry?” said Hermione in a very serious
voice.
“ I didn’ t mean to,” said Harry, while Ron roared with laughter. “ I j ust – lost
control.”
“ It ’ s not funny, Ron,” said Hermione sharply. “ Honest ly, I’m amazed Harry
wasn’t expelled.”
“ So am I,” admit ted Harry. “ Forget expelled, I thought I was going to be
arrested.” He looked at Ron. “Your dad doesn’t know why Fudge let me off, does he?”
“ Probably ‘ cause it ’ s you, isn’ t it?” shrugged Ron, st ill chuckling. “ Famous
Harry Pot ter and all that . I’ d hate to see what the Minist ry’ d do to me if I blew up an
aunt . Mind you, they’ d have to dig me up first , because Mum would’ ve killed me.
Anyway, you can ask Dad yourself this evening. We’ re staying at the Leaky Cauldron
tonight too! So you can come to King’ s Cross with us tomorrow! Hermione’ s there as
well!”
Hermione nodded, beaming. “Mum and Dad dropped me of f this morning with
all my Hogwarts things.”
“ Excellent !” said Harry happily. “ So, have you got all your new books and
stuff?”
“ Look at this,” said Ron, pulling a long thin box out of a bag and opening it .
“Brand–new wand. Fourteen inches, willow, containing one unicorn tail–hair. And
we’ ve got all our books –” He pointed at a large bag under his chair. “What about
those Monster Books, eh? The assistant nearly cried when we said we wanted two.”
“What’s all that, Hermione?” Harry asked, pointing at not one but three bulging
bags in the chair next to her.
“Well, I’m taking more new subj ects than you, aren’ t I,” said Hermione.
“ Those are my books for Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Divinat ion, the Study
of Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies –”
“What are you doing Muggle Studies for?” said Ron, rolling his eyes at Harry.
“ You’ re Muggle– born! Your mum and dad are Muggles! You already know all about
Muggles!”
“ But it ’ ll be fascinat ing to study them from the wizarding point of view,” said
Hermione earnestly.
“ Are you planning to eat or sleep at all this year, Hermione?” asked Harry,
while Ron sniggered. Hermione ignored them.
“ I’ ve st ill got ten Galleons,” she said, checking her purse. “ It ’ s my birthday in
September, and Mum and Dad gave me some money to get myself an early birthday
present.”
“How about a nice book? said Ron innocently.
“ No, I don’ t think so,” said Hermione composedly. “ I really want an owl. I
mean, Harry’s got Hedwig and you’ve got Errol –”
“ I haven’ t ,” said Ron. “ Errol’ s a family owl. All I’ ve got is Scabbers.” He pulled
his pet rat out of his pocket . “ And I want to get him checked over,” he added, placing
Scabbers on the table in front of them. “I don’t think Egypt agreed with him.”
Scabbers was looking thinner than usual, and there was a definite droop to his
whiskers.
“ There’ s a magical creature shop j ust over there,” said Harry, who knew
Diagon Alley very well by now. “ You could see if they’ ve got anything for Scabbers,
and Hermione can get her owl,”
So they paid for their ice cream and crossed the st reet to the Magical
Menagerie.
There wasn’ t much room inside. Every inch of wall was hidden by cages. It was
smelly and very noisy because the occupants Of these cages were all squeaking,
squawking, j abbering, or hissing. The witch behind the counter was already advising a
wizard on the care of double–ended newts, so Harry, Ron, and Hermione waited,
examining the cages.
A pair of enormous purple toads sat gulping wet ly and feast ing on dead
blowf lies. A gigant ic tortoise with a j ewel–encrusted shell was glit tering near the
window. Poisonous orange snails were oozing slowly up the side of their glass tank,
and a fat white rabbit kept changing into a silk top hat and back again with a loud
popping noise. Then there were cats of every color, a noisy cage of ravens, a basket of
funny custard–colored furballs that were humming loudly, and on the counter, a vast
cage of sleek black rats that were playing some sort of skipping game using their long,
bald tails.
The double–ended newt wizard left, and Ron approached the counter.
“ It ’ s my rat ,” he told the witch. “ He been a bit off–color ever since I brought
him back from Egypt.”
“ Bang him on the counter,” said the wit ch, pulling a pair of heavy black
spectacles out of her pocket.
Ron lifted Scabbers out of his inside pocket and placed him next to the cage of
his fellow rats, who stopped their skipping t ricks and scuff led to the wire for a bet ter
took.
Like nearly everything Ron owned, Scabbers the rat was secondhand (he had
once belonged to Ron’ s brother Percy) and a bit bat tered. Next to the glossy rats in
the cage, he looked especially woebegone.
“Hm,” said the witch, picking up Scabbers. “How old is this rat?”
“Dunno,” said Ron. “Quite old. He used to belong to my brother.”
“What powers does he have?” said the witch, examining Scabbers closely.
“Er –” The t ruth was that Scabbers had never shown the faintest t race of
interest ing powers. The witchs eyes moved from Scabbers’ s tat tered lef t ear to his
front paw, which had a toe missing, and tutted loudly.
“He’s been through the mill, this one,” she said.
“He was like that when Percy gave him to me,” said Ron defensively.
“ An ordinary common or garden rat like this can’ t be expected to live longer
than three years or so,” said the witch. “ Now, if you were looking for something a bit
more hard–wearing, you might like one of these –”
She indicated the black rats, who prompt ly started skipping again. Ron
muttered, “Show–offs.”
“Well, if you don’ t want a replacement , you can t ry this rat tonic,” said the
witch, reaching under the counter and bringing out a small red bottle.
“Okay,” said Ron. “How much – OUCH!”
Ron buckled as something huge and orange came soaring f rom the top of the
highest cage, landed on his head, and then propelled itself, spit t ing madly, at
Scabbers.
“ NO, CROOKSHANKS, NO!” cried the witch, but Scabbers, shot from between
her hands like a bar of soap, landed splay–legged on the floor, and then scampered for
the door.
“Scabbers!” Ron shouted, racing out of the shop after him; Harry followed.
It took them nearly ten minutes to catch Scabbers, who had taken refuge under
a wastepaper bin outside Qual it y Quiddit ch Suppl ies. Ron stuffed the t rembling rat
back into his pocket and straightened up, massaging his head.
“What was that?”
“It was either a very big cat or quite a small tiger,” said Harry.
“Where’s Hermione?”
“Probably getting her owl.”
They made their way back up the crowded st reet to the Magical Menagerie. As
they reached it , Hermione came out , but she wasn’ t carrying an owl. Her arms were
clamped tightly around the enormous ginger cat.
“You bought that monster?” said Ron, his mouth hanging open.
“He’s gorgeous, isn’t he?” said Hermione, glowing.
That was a matter of opinion, thought Harry. The cat’s ginger fur was thick and
fluffy, but it was definitely a bit bowlegged and its face looked grumpy and oddly
squashed, as though it had run headlong into a brick wall. Now that Scabbers was out
of sight, however, the cat was purring contentedly in Hermione’s arms.
“ Hermione, that thing nearly scalped me!” said Ron. “ He didn’ t mean to, did
you, Crookshanks?” said Hermione.
“ And what about Scabbers?” said Ron, point ing at the lump in his chest pocket .
“He needs rest and relaxation! How’s he going to get it with that thing around?”
“ That reminds me, you forgot your rat tonic,” said Hermione, slapping the
small red bot t le into Ron’ s hand. “ And stop worrying, Crookshanks will be sleeping in
my dormitory and Scabbers in yours, what’s the problem? Poor Crookshanks, that witch
said he’d been in there for ages; no one wanted him.”
“Wonder why,” said Ron sarcast ically as they set off toward the Leaky
Cauldron.
They found Mr. Weasley sitting in the bar, reading the Daily prophet.
“Harry!” he said, smiling as he looked up. “How are you?”
“ Fine, thanks,” said Harry as he, Ron, and Hermione j oined Mr. Weasley with
their shopping. Mr. Weasley put down his paper, and Harry saw the now familiar
picture of Sirius Black staring up at him.
“They still haven’t caught him, then?” he asked.
“ No,” said Mr. Weasley, looking ext remely grave. “ They’ ve pulled us all off our
regular jobs at the Ministry to try and find him, but no luck so far.”
“Would we get a reward if we caught him?” asked Ron. “ It ’ d be good to get
some more money –”
“ Don’ t be ridiculous, Ron,” said Mr. Weasley, who on closer inspect ion looked
very st rained. “ Black’ s not going to be caught by a thirteen–year–old wizard. It ’ s the
Azkaban guards who’ll get him back, you mark my words.”
At that moment Mrs. Weasley entered the bar, laden with shopping bags and
followed by the twins, Fred and George, who were about to start their fifth year at
Hogwarts; the newly elected Head Boy, Percy; and the Weasleys’ youngest child and
only girl, Ginny.
Ginny, who had always been very taken with Harry, seemed even more heart ily
embarrassed than usual when she saw him, perhaps because he had saved her life
during their previous year at Hogwarts. She went very red and mut tered “ hello”
without looking at him. Percy, however, held out his hand solemnly as though he and
Harry had never met and said, “Harry. How nice to see you”.
“Hello, Percy,” said Harry, trying not to laugh.
I hope you’ re well?” said Percy pompously, shaking hands. It was rather like
being introduced to the mayor.
“Very well, thanks –”
“ Harry!” said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. “ Simply
splendid to see you, old boy –”
“Marvelous,” said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry’ s hand in turn.
“Absolutely spiffing.”
Percy scowled.
“That’s enough, now,” said Mrs. Weasley.
“Mum!” said Fred as though he’ d only j ust spot ted her and seizing her hand
too. “How really corking to see you –”
“ I said, that ’ s enough,” said Mrs. Weasley, deposit ing her shopping in an empty
chair. “ Hello, Harry, dear. I suppose you’ ve heard our excit ing news?” She pointed to
the brand–new silver badge on Percy’s chest.
“Second Head Boy in the family!” she said, swelling with pride.
“And last,” Fred muttered under his breath.
“ I don’ t doubt that ,” said Mrs. Weasley, f rowning suddenly. “ I not ice they
haven’t made you two prefects.”
“What do we want to be prefects for?” said George, looking revolted at the
very idea. “It’d take all the fun out of life.”
Ginny giggled.
“You want to set a better example for your sister!” snapped Mrs. Weasley.
“Ginny’ s got other brothers to set her an example, Mother,” said Percy loft ily.
“I’m going up to change for dinner…”
He disappeared and George heaved a sigh.
“We tried to shut him in a pyramid,” he told Harry. “But Mum spotted us.”
Dinner that night was a very enj oyable affair. Tom the innkeeper put three
tables together in the parlor, and the seven Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione ate their
way through five delicious courses.
“ How’ re we get t ing to King’ s Cross tomorrow, Dad?” asked Fred as they dug
into a sumptuous chocolate pudding.
“The Ministry’s providing a couple of cars,” said Mr. Weasley.
Everyone looked up at him.
“Why?” said Percy curiously.
“ It ’ s because of you, Perce,” said George seriously. “ And there’ ll be lit t le flags
on the hoods, with HB on them”
“ – for Humongous Bighead,” said Fred.
Everyone except Percy and Mrs. Weasley snorted into their pudding.
“Why are the Minist ry providing cars, Father?” Percy asked again, in a dignified
voice.
“Well, as we haven’t got one anymore,” said Mr. Weasley,
“ – and as I work there, they’re doing me a favor –”
His voice was casual, but Harry couldn’ t help not icing that Mr. Weasley’ s ears
had gone red, just like Ron’s did when he was under pressure.
“Good thing, too,” said Mrs. Weasley briskly. “ Do you realize how much
luggage you’ ve all got between you? A nice sight you’ d be on the Muggle
Underground…. You are all packed, aren’t you?”
“ Ron hasn’ t put all his new things in his t runk yet ,” said Percy, in a long–
suffering voice. “He’s dumped them on my bed.”
“ You’ d bet ter go and pack properly, Ron, because we won’ t have much t ime in
the morning,” Mrs. Weasley called down the table. Ron scowled at Percy.
After dinner everyone felt very full and sleepy. One by one they made their
way upstairs to their rooms to check their things for the next day. Ron and Percy were
next door to Harry. He had j ust closed and locked his own t runk when he heard angry
voices through the wall, and went to see what was going on. The door of number
twelve was ajar and Percy was shouting.
“It was here, on the bedside table, I took it off for polishing
“I haven’t touched it, all right?” Ron roared back.
“What’s up?” said Harry.
“My Head Boy badge is gone,” said Percy, rounding on Harry.
“ So’ s Scabbers’ s rat tonic,” said Ron, throwing things out of his t runk to look.
“I think I might’ve left it in the bar –”
“You’re not going anywhere till you’ve found my badge!” yelled Percy.
“ I’ ll get Scabbers’ s stuff, I’m packed,” Harry said to Ron, and he went
downstairs.
Harry was halfway along the passage to the bar, which was now very dark,
when he heard another pair of angry voices coming from the parlor. A second later, he
recognized them as Mr. and Mrs. Weasleys’ . He hesitated, not want ing them to know
he’ d heard them arguing, when the sound of his own name made him stop, then move
closer to the parlor door.
“ –makes no sense not to tell him,” Mr. Weasley was saying heatedly.
“ Harry’ s got a right to know. I’ ve t ried to tell Fudge, but he insists on t reat ing
Harry like a child. He’s thirteen years old and –”
“ Arthur, the t ruth would terrify him!” said Mrs. Weasley shrilly. “ Do you really
want to send Harry back to school with that hanging over him?For heaven’ s sake, he’ s
happy not knowing!”
“I don’t want to make him miserable, I want to put him on his guard!” retorted
Mr. Weasley. “ You know what Harry and Ron are like, wandering off by themselves –
they’ ve ended up in the Forbidden Forest twice! But Harry mustn’ t do that this year!
When I think what could have happened to him that night he ran away from home! If
the Knight Bus hadn’ t picked him up, I’m prepared to bet he would have been dead
before the Ministry found him.”
“But he’s not dead, he’s fine, so what’s the point?”
“Molly, they say Sirius Black’ s mad, and maybe he is, but he was clever enough
to escape from Azkaban, and that ’ s supposed to be impossible. It ’ s been three weeks,
and no one’ s seen hide nor hair of him, and I don’ t care what Fudge keeps telling the
Daily Prophet , we’ re no nearer catching Black than invent ing self–spelling wands. The
only thing we know for sure is what Black’s after.”
“But Harry will be perfectly safe at Hogwarts.”
“We thought Azkaban was perfect ly safe. If Black can break out of Azkaban, he
can break into Hogwarts.”
“But no one’s really sure that Black’s after Harry!”
There was a thud on wood, and Harry was sure Mr. Weasley had banged his fist
on the table.
“Molly, how many t imes do I have to tell you?They didn’ t report it in the press
because Fudge wanted it kept quiet , but Fudge went out to Azkaban the night Black
escaped. The guards told Fudge that Blacks been talking in his sleep for a while now.
Always the same words: ‘He’ s at Hogwart s… he’ s at Hogwart s.’ Black is deranged,
Molly, and he wants Harry dead. If you ask me, he thinks murdering Harry will bring
You–Know–Who back to pow er. Black lost everything the night Harry stopped You–
Know–Who, and he’s had twelve years alone in Azkaban to brood on that….”
There was a silence. Harry leaned st ill closer to the door, desperate to hear
more.
“Well, Arthur, you must do what you think is right . But you’ re forget t ing Albus
Dumbledore. I don’ t think anything could hurt Harry at Hogwarts while Dumbledore’ s
headmaster. I suppose he knows about all this?”
“Of course he knows. We had to ask him if he minds the Azkaban guards
stat ioning themselves around the ent rances to the school grounds. He wasn’ t happy
about it, but he agreed.”
“Not happy? Why shouldn’t he be happy, if they’re there to catch Black?”
“ Dumbledore isn’ t fond of the Azkaban guards,” said Mr. Weasley heavily. “ Nor
am I, if it comes to that … but when you’ re dealing with a wizard like Black, you
sometimes have to join forces with those you’d rather avoid.”
“ If they save Harry then I will never say another word against them, said Mr.
Weasley wearily. “It’s late, Molly, we’d better go up….”
Harry heard chairs move. As quiet ly as he could, he hurried down the passage
to the bar and out of sight . The parlor door opened, and a few seconds later footsteps
told him that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were climbing the stairs.
The bot t le of rat tonic was lying under the table they had sat at earlier. Harry
waited unt il he heard Mr. and Mrs. Weasley’ s bedroom door close, then headed back
upstairs with the bottle.
Fred and George were crouching in the shadows on the landing, heaving with
laughter as they listened to Percy dismant ling his and Ron’ s room in search of his
badge.
“We’ve got it,” Fred whispered to Harry. “We’ve been improving it.”
The badge now read Bighead Boy.
Harry forced a laugh, went to give Ron the rat tonic, then shut himself in his
room and lay down on his bed. So Sirius Black was after him. This explained
everything. Fudge had been lenient with him because he was so relieved to f ind him
alive. He’ d made Harry promise to stay in Diagon Alley where there were plent y of
wizards to keep an eye on him. And he was sending two Minist ry cars to take them all
to the stat ion tomorrow, so that the Weasleys could look after Harry unt il he was on
the train.
Harry lay listening to the muff led shout ing next door and wondered why he
didn’t feel more scared. Sirius Black had murdered thirteen people with one curse; Mr.
and Mrs. Weasley obviously thought Harry would be panic–st ricken if he knew the
t ruth. But Harry happened to agree wholeheartedly with Mrs. Weasley that the safest
place on earth was wherever Albus Dumbledore happened to be. Didn’ t people always
say that Dumbledore was the only person Lord Voldemort had ever been afraid of?
Surely Black, as Voldemort ’ s right–hand man, would be j ust as frightened of
him? And then there were these Azkaban guards everyone kept talking about . They
seemed to scare most people senseless, and if they were stat ioned all around the
school, Black’s chances of getting inside seemed very remote.
No, all in all, the thing that bothered Harry most was the fact that his chances
of visit ing Hogsmeade now looked like zero. Nobody would want Harry to leave the
safety of the cast le unt il Black was caught ; in fact , Harry suspected his every move
would be carefully watched until the danger had passed.
He scowled at the dark ceiling. Did they think he couldn’ t look after himself?
He’ d escaped Lord Voldemort three t imes; he wasn’ t completely useless…. Unbidden,
the image of the beast in the shadows of Magnolia Crescent crossed his mind. What to
do when you know the worst is coming…
“I’m not going to be murdered,” Harry said out loud.
“That’s the spirit, dear,” said his mirror sleepily.
CHAPTER FIVE – THE DEMENTOR
Tom woke Harry the next morning with his usual toothless grin and a cup of
tea. Harry got dressed and was j ust persuading a disgrunt led Hedwig to get back into
her cage when Ron banged his way into the room, pulling a sweatshirt over his head
and looking irritable.
“ The sooner we get on the t rain, the bet ter,” he said. “ At least I can get away
from Percy at Hogwarts. Now he’ s accusing me of dripping tea on his photo of
Penelope Clearwater. You know,” Ron grimaced, “ his girlfriend. She’ s hidden her face
under the frame because her nose has gone all blotchy…”
“ I’ ve got something to tell you,” Harry began, but they were interrupted by
Fred and George, who had looked in to congratulate Ron on infuriating Percy again.
They headed down to breakfast , where Mr. Weasley was reading the front page
of the Daily Prophet with a furrowed brow and Mrs. Weasley was telling Hermione and
Ginny about a love pot ion she’ d made as a young girl. All three of them were rather
giggly.
“What were you saying?” Ron asked Harry as they sat down.
“Later,” Harry muttered as Percy stormed in.
Harry had no chance to speak to Ron or Hermione in the chaos of leaving; they
were too busy heaving all their trunks down the Leaky Cauldron’s narrow staircase and
piling them up near the door, with Hedwig and Hermes, Percy’ s screech owl, perched
on top in their cages. A small wickerwork basket stood beside the heap of t runks,
spitting loudly.
“ It ’ s all right , Crookshanks,” Hermione cooed through the wickerwork. “ I’ ll let
you out on the train.”
“You won’t,” snapped Ron. “What about poor Scabbers, eh?”
He pointed at his chest , where a large lump indicated that Scabbers was curled
up in his pocket . Mr. Weasley, who had been outside wait ing for the Minist ry cars,
stuck his head inside. “They’re here, he said. “Harry, come on.”
Mr. Weasley marched Harry across the short st retch of pavement toward the
first of two old– fashioned dark green cars, each of which was driven by a furt ive–
looking wizard wearing a suit of emerald velvet.
“ In you get , Harry,” said Mr. Weasley, glancing up and down the crowded
street.
Harry got into the back of the car and was short ly j oined by Hermione, Ron,
and, to Ron’ s disgust , Percy. The j ourney to King’ s Cross was very unevent ful
compared with Harry’ s t rip on the Knight Bus. The Minist ry of Magic cars seemed
almost ordinary. though Harry not iced that they could slide through gaps that Uncle
Vernon’ s new company car certainly couldn’ t have managed. They reached King’ s
Cross with twenty minutes to spare; the Ministry drivers found them trolleys, unloaded
their t runks, touched their hats in salute to Mr. Weasley, and drove away, somehow
managing to jump to the head of an unmoving line at the traffic lights.
Mr. Weasley kept close to Harry’s elbow all the way into the station.
“ Right then,” he said, glancing around them. “ Let ’ s do this in pairs, as there
are so many of us. I’ll go through first with Harry.”
Mr. Weasley st rolled toward the barrier between plat forms nine and ten,
pushing Harry’ s t rolley and apparent ly very interested in the InterCity 125 that had
j ust arrived at plat form nine. With a meaningful look at Harry, he leaned casually
against the barrier. Harry imitated him. In a moment , they had fallen sideways
through the solid metal onto plat form nine and three–quarters and looked up to see
the Hogwarts Express, a scarlet steam engine, puffing smoke over a plat form packed
with witches and wizards seeing their children onto the train.
Percy and Ginny suddenly appeared behind Harry. They were pant ing and had
apparently taken the barrier at a run.
“ Ah, there’ s Penelope!” said Percy, smoothing his hair and going Pink again.
Ginny caught Harry’ s eye, and they both turned away to hide their laughter as Percy
st rode over to a girl with long, curly hair, walking with his chest thrown out so that
she couldn’t miss his shiny badge stood back to let him on.
After all the rest of Weasleys and Hermione j oined them, Harry and Mr.
Weasley walked in the front to the edge of the t rain, passing crowded compartments,
unt il they arrived in a compartment that looked empty. They put the t runks, set
Hedwig and Crookshanks on top of the t rolley, and then went back outside to say
goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.
Mrs. Weasley kissed all of her children, and then Hermione, and finally Harry.
Harry was ashamed, but actually happy when Mrs. Weasley added a hug.
“Be careful, Harry,” she said, rising herself again, her eyes were wet . And then
she opened her enormous bag, and said, “ I’ ve made you all sandwiches. Here, Ron…
no, it’s not corned… Fred? Where is Fred? Here, son…”
“Harry,” said Mr. Weasley calmly, “come over here for a moment.”
He st roke his head to the back of the pillar, leaving the other surrounding Mrs.
Weasley.
“There’s something I have to tell you before you leave,” he said.
“It’s okay, Mr. Weasley,” Harry said. “I knew it already.”
“You knew? How did you find out?”
“I – er – I heard you and Mrs. Weasley argued last night . Accidentally,” Harry
added quickly. “Sorry”
“ That ’ s not the way I’m going to choose to tell you,” said Mr. Weasley looking
worried.
“ It ’ s fine – really, fine. This way, you’ re not breaking your promise to Fudge,
and I know what’s going on.”
“Harry, you must be very scared…”
“ No,” said Harry honest ly. “ Really,” he added because Mr. Weasley didn’ t
seem to believe him. “ I don’ t want to be a hero or something, but Sirius Black won’ t
be more horrible than Voldemort, right?”
Mr. Weasley flinched at that name, but t ried to ignore it , and said, “ Harry, I
know you, well, st ronger than what Fudge thought , and I’m really glad that you’ re not
afraid, but…”
“ Arthur!” called Mrs. Weasley, who was taking the other kids inside the t rain.
“Arthur, what are you doing? The train is going to leave!’
“We’ re coming, Molly!” said Mr. Weasley, but he turned back again to Harry
and said, “Listen, I want you to promise …”
“… that I’ll be a good boy and stay inside the castle?” asked Harry.
“ Not j ust that ,” said Mr. Weasley, who seemed to be more serious than Harry
ever seen. “Harry, swear to me that you’re not going to search Black.”
There was a loud whistle. The workers walked along the train, closing all doors.
“ Promise me, Harry,” said Mr. Weasley, spoke to him faster, “ that anything
may happen…”
“Why do I search someone that I know will kill me?” asked Harry confused.
“Swear to me that anything you may hear…”
“Arthur, hurry up!” yelled Mrs. Weasley.
Smoke set up on top of the t rain. The t rain was start ing to move. Harry ran to
the door. Ron opened it and stood back so Harry could came in. They leaned out of the
window and waved at Mr. and Mrs. Weasley until the train turned a corner and blocked
them from view.
“ I need to talk to you in private,” Harry mut tered to Ron and Hermione as the
train picked up speed.
“Go away, Ginny,” said Ron.
“Oh, that’s nice,” said Ginny huffily, and she stalked off.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione set off down the corridor, looking for an empty
compartment , but all were full except for the one at the very end of the t rain. This
had only one occupant , a man sit t ing fast asleep next to the window. Harry, Ron, and
Hermione checked on the threshold. The Hogwarts Express was usually reserved for
students and they had never seen an adult there before, except for the wit ch who
pushed the food cart.
The st ranger was wearing an ext remely shabby set of wizard’ s robes that had
been darned in several places. He looked ill and exhausted. Though quite young, his
light brown hair was flecked with gray.
“Who d’ you reckon he is?” Ron hissed as they sat down and slid the door shut ,
taking the seats farthest away from the window.
“Professor R. J. Lupin,” whispered Hermione at once.
“How d’you know that?”
“ It ’ s on his case,” she replied, point ing at the luggage rack over the man’ s
head, where there was a small, bat tered case held together with a large quant ity of
neat ly knot ted st ring. The name Professor R. J. Lupin was stamped across one corner
in peeling letters.
“Wonder what he teaches?” said Ron, frowning at Professor Lupin’ s pallid
profile.
“ That ’ s obvious,” whispered Hermione. “ There’ s only one vacancy, isn’ t there?
Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione had already had two Defense Against the Dark Arts
teachers, both of whom had lasted only one year. There were rumors that the job was
jinxed.
“Well, I hope he’ s up to it ,” said Ron doubt fully. “ He looks like on, good hex
would finish him off, doesn’ t he? Anyway…” He turned to Harry. “What were you
going to tell us?”
Harry explained all about Mr. and Mrs. Weasley’s argument and the warning Mr.
Weasley had j ust given him. When he’ d finished, Ron looked thunderst ruck, and
Hermione had her hands over her mouth. She finally lowered them to say, “Sirius Black
escaped to come after you?Oh, Harry… you’ ll have to be really, really careful. Don’ t
go looking for trouble, Harry –”
“ I don’ t go looking for t rouble,” said Harry, net t led. “ Trouble usually finds
me.”
“ How thick would Harry have to be, to go looking for a nutter who wants to kill
him?” said Ron shakily.
They were taking the news worse than Harry had expected. Both Ron and
Hermione seemed to be much more frightened of Black than he was.
“ No one knows how he got out of Azkaban,” said Ron uncomfortably. “ No one’ s
ever done it before. And he was a top–security prisoner too.”
“ But they’ ll catch him, won’ t they?” said Hermione earnest ly. “ I mean, they’ ve
got all the Muggles looking out for him too….”
“What’s that noise?” said Ron suddenly.
A faint , t inny sort of whist le was coming from somewhere. The, looked all
around the compartment.
“ It ’ s coming from your t runk, Harry,” said Ron, standing UP and reaching into
the luggage rack. A moment later he had pulled the Pocket Sneakoscope out from
between Harry’s robes. It was spinning very fast in the palm of Ron’s hand and glowing
brilliantly.
“ Is that a Sneakoscope?” said Hermione interestedly, standing up for a bet ter
look.
“ Yeah… mind you, it ’ s a very cheap one,” Ron said. “ It went haywire j ust as I
was tying it to Errol’s leg to send it to Harry.”
“Were you doing anything untrustworthy at the time?” said Hermione shrewdly.
“No! Well… I wasn’t supposed to be using Errol. You know he’s not really up to
long journeys… but how else was I supposed to get Harry’s present to him?”
“ St ick it back in the t runk,” Harry advised as the Sneakoscope whist led
piercingly, “or it’ll wake him up.”
He nodded toward Professor Lupin. Ron stuffed the Sneakoscope into a
part icularly horrible pair of Uncle Vernon’ s old socks, which deadened the sound, then
closed the lid of the trunk on it.
“We could get it checked in Hogsmeade,” said Ron, sit t ing back down. “ They
sell that sort of thing in Dervish and Banges, magical inst ruments and stuff. Fred and
George told me.”
“ Do you know much about Hogsmeade?” asked Hermione keenly. “ I’ ve read it ’ s
the only entirely non–Muggle settlement in Britain –”
“Yeah, I think it is,” said Ron in an offhand sort of way.
“But that’s not why I want to go. I just want to get inside Honey Dukes.”
“What’s that?” said Hermione.
“ It ’ s this sweetshop,” said Ron, a dreamy look coming over his face, “ where
they’ve got everything… Pepper Imps – they make you smoke at the mouth – and great
fat Chocoballs full of st rawberry mousse and clot ted cream, and really excellent sugar
quills, which you can suck in class and just look like you’re thinking what to write next
–”
“ But Hogsmeade’ s a very interest ing place, isn’ t it?” Hermione pressed on
eagerly. “ In Sites of Historical Sorcery it says the inn was the headquarters for the
1612 goblin rebellion, and the Shrieking Shades supposed to be the most severely
haunted building in Britain –”
“ – and massive sherbert balls that make you levitate a few inches off the
ground while you’ re sucking them, ” said Ron, who was plainly not listening to a word
Hermione was saying.
Hermione looked around at Harry. “Won’ t it be nice to get out of school for a
bit and explore Hogsmeade?”
“ ’Spect it will,” said Harry heavily. “ You’ ll have to tell me when you’ ve found
out.”
“What d’you mean?” said Ron.
“ I can’ t go. The Dursleys didn’ t sign my permission form, and Fudge wouldn’ t
either.”
Ron looked horrified. “ You’ re not allowed to come? But – no way –McGonagall
or someone will give you permission…”
Harry laughed empt ily. Professor McGonagall, Head of Gryffindor House, is a
very disciplined person.
“…or we can ask Fred and George, they know every secret passage in the
castle.”
“ Ron!” snapped Hermione sharply. “ I don’ t think Harry should sneak around to
leave the castle as long as Black is still at large…”
“ Yeah… I suppose that ’ s what McGonagall would say if I ask her for
permission,” said Harry.
“But if we’re with him,” said Ron excitedly to Hermione, Ron will never dare…”
“Oh, Ron, don’ t speak nonsense,” snapped Hermione sharply. “ Black has
murdered lots of people in crowded st reet , and do you think he would doubt killing
Harry just because of us?”
Hermione opened Crookshanks’ basket while she was talking.
“ Don’ t let him out !” said Ron, but too late. Crookshanks j umped from the
basket, stretched, yawned, and went to Ron’s lap. The bulge in Ron’s pocket shivered.
“Go away!”
“Ron, no!” said Hermione furiously.
Ron was about to say something when Professor Lupin moved. They watched
him, but he j ust turned his head to another way, his mouth part open, and kept
sleeping.
Hogwarts Express went st raight to north. The scenery outside became wilder
and darker while coulds thickening. The kids ran passing the compartment door.
Crookshanks now rolled on top of empty chair, his f lat eyes were watching Ron’ s
pocket.
At one o’ clock a fat witch with the food t rolley arrived at the compartment
door.
“ Shall we wake him or not?” Ron asked, nodding his head to Professor Lupin.
“He seems to be needing some food.”
Hermione moved closer to Professor Lupin carefully.
“Er – Professor?” she said. “Excuse me, Professor?”
“ Don’ t worry, dear,” said the wit ch while she was giving a bunch of cakes to
Harry. “If he gets hungry when he wakes up, I’ll be in front with the driver.”
“ He’ s sleeping, right?” said Ron slowly, af ter the witch closed their
compartment door. “I mean – he’s not dead, right?”
“ No, no. He’ s st ill breathing,” whispered Hermione, taking a cake Harry
offered.
Professor Lupin might not be a good t raveling friend, but his presence in their
compartment came in handy. After midday, when the rain started to fall, fading the
hills outside the window, they heard footsteps in the corridor again, and three people
they dislike most showed up at the door: Draco Malfoy, with his sidekicks, Vincent
Crabbe and Gregory Goyle.
Draco Malfoy and Harry have been enemies ever since their first j ourney with
Hogwarts Express to Hogwarts. Malfoy, is a Slytherin. He played as Seeker in Slytherin
Quidditch Team, j ust as Harry in Gryffindor’ s. Crabbe and Goyle seemed to do
everything Malfoy said. Both of them are big and musclely; Crabbe was taller, with a
pudding–bowl haircut and a very thick neck; Goyle had short , brist ly hair and long,
gorilla–ish arms.
“Well, look who it is,” said Malfoy in his usual lazy drawl, pulling open the
compartment door. “Potty and the Weasel.”
Crabbe and Goyle chuckled trollishly.
“ I heard your father finally got his hands on some gold this summer, Weasley, ”
said Malfoy. “Did your mother die of shock?”
Ron stood up so quickly he knocked Crookshanks’s basket to the floor. Professor
Lupin gave a snort.
“Who’ s that?” said Malfoy, taking an automat ic step backward as he spot ted
Lupin.
“ New teacher,” said Harry, who got to his feet , too, in case he needed to hold
Ron back. “What were you saying, Malfoy?”
Malfoy’ s pale eyes narrowed; he wasn’ t fool enough to pick a fight right under
a teacher’s nose.
“C’mon,” he muttered resentfully to Crabbe and Goyle, and they disappeared.
Harry and Ron sat down again, Ron massaging his knuckles.
“I’m not going to take any crap from Malfoy this year,” he said angrily. “I mean
it. If he makes one more crack about my family, I’m going to get hold of his head and –

Ron made a violent gesture in midair.
“Ron,” hissed Hermione, pointing at Professor Lupin, “be careful…”
But Professor Lupin was st ill fast asleep. The rain thickened as the t rain sped
yet farther north; the windows were now a solid, shimmering gray, which graduily
darkened unt il lanterns flickered into life all along the corridors and over the luggage
racks. The t rain rat t led, the rain hammered, the ind roared, but st ill, Professor Lupin
slept.
“We must be nearly there,” said Ron, leaning forward to look past Professor
Lupin at the now completely black window.
The words had hardly left him when the train started to slow down.
“Great ,” said Ron, get t ing up and walking carefully past Professor Lupin to t ry
and see outside. “I’m starving. I want to get to the feast….
“We can’t be there yet,” said Hermione, checking her watch.
“So why’re we stopping?”
The t rain was get t ing slower and slower. As the noise of the pistons fell away,
the wind and rain sounded louder than ever against the windows. Harry, who was
nearest the door, got up to look into the corridor. All along the carriage, heads were
st icking curiously out of their compartments. The t rain came to a stop with a j olt , and
distant thuds and bangs told them that luggage had fallen out of the racks. Then,
without warning, all the lamps went out and they were plunged into total darkness.
“‘What’s going on?” said Ron’s voice from behind Harry.
“Ouch!” gasped Hermione. “Ron, that was my foot!”
Harry felt his way back to his seat.
“D’you think we’ve broken down?”
“Dunno…”
There was a squeaking sound, and Harry saw the dim black out line of Ron,
wiping a patch clean on the window and peering out.
“ There’ s something moving out there,” Ron said. “ I think people are coming
aboard….”
The compartment door suddenly opened and someone fell painfully over
Harry’s legs.
“Sorry – d’you know what’s going on? – Ouch – sorry
“ Hello, Neville,” said Harry, feeling around in the dark and pulling Neville up
by his cloak.
“Harry? Is that you? What’s happening?”
“No idea – sit down –”
There was a loud hissing and a yelp of pain; Neville had t ried to sit on
Crookshanks.
“ I’m going to go and ask the driver what ’ s going on,” came Hermione’ s voice.
Harry felt her pass him, heard the door slide open again, and then a thud and two loud
squeals of pain.
“Who’s that?”
“Who’s that?”
“Ginny?”
“Hermione?”
“What are you doing?”
“I was looking for Ron –” “Come in and sit down –”
“Not here!” said Harry hurriedly. “I’m here!”
“Ouch!” said Neville.
“Quiet!” said a hoarse voice suddenly.
Professor Lupin appeared to have woken up at last . Harry could hear
movements in his corner. None of them spoke.
There was a soft , crackling noise, and a shivering light filled the compartment .
Professor Lupin appeared to be holding a handful of flames. They illuminated his tired,
gray face, but his eyes looked alert and wary.
“ Stay where you are,” he said in the same hoarse voice, and he got slowly to
his feet with his handful of fire held out in front of him.
But the door slid slowly open before Lupin could reach it . Standing in the
doorway, illuminated by the shivering flames in Lupin’ s hand, was a cloaked figure
that towered to the ceiling. Its face was completely hidden beneath its hood. Harry’ s
eyes darted downward, and what he saw made his stomach cont ract . There was a
hand prot ruding from the cloak and it was glistening, grayish, slimy–looking, and
scabbed, like something dead that had decayed in water…
But it was visible only for a split second. As though the creature beneath the
cloak sensed Harry’ s gaze, the hand was suddenly withdrawn into the folds of its black
cloak. And then the thing beneath the hood, whatever it was, drew a long, slow,
rat t ling breath, as though it were t rying to suck something more than air from its
surroundings. An intense cold swept over them all. Harry felt his own breath catch in
his chest . The cold went deeper than his skin. It was inside his chest , it was inside his
very heart….
Harry’ s eyes rolled up into his head. He couldn’ t see. He was drowning in cold.
There was a rushing in his ears as though of water. He was being dragged downward,
the roaring growing louder. . And then, from far away, he heard screaming, terrible,
terrified, pleading screams. He wanted to help whoever it was, he t ried to move his
arms, but couldn’t… a thick white fog was swirling around him, inside him –
“Harry! Harry! Are you all right?”
Someone was slapping his face.
“W – what?”
Harry opened his eyes; there were lanterns above him, and the f loor was
shaking – the Hogwarts Express was moving again and the lights had come back on. He
seemed to have slid out of his seat onto the floor. Ron and Hermione were kneeling
next to him, and above them he could see Neville and Professor Lupin watching. Harry
felt very sick; when he put up his hand to push his glasses back on, he felt cold sweat
on his face.
Ron and Hermione heaved him back onto his seat . “ Are you okay?” Ron asked
nervously.
“ Yeah,” said Harry, looking quickly toward the door. The hooded creature had
vanished. “What happened? Where’s that – that thing? Who screamed?”
“No one screamed,” said Ron, more nervously still.
Harry looked around the bright compartment . Ginny and Neville looked back at
him, both very pale.
“But I heard screaming –”
A loud snap made them all j ump. Professor Lupin was breaking an enormous
slab of chocolate into pieces.
“ Here,” he said to Harry, handing him a part icularly large piece. “ Eat it . It ’ ll
help.”
Harry took the chocolate but didn’t eat it.
“What was that thing?” he asked Lupin.
“ A Dementor,” said Lupin, who was now giving chocolate to everyone else.
“One of the Dementors of Azkaban.”
Everyone stared at him. Professor Lupin crumpled up the empty chocolate
wrapper and put it in his pocket.
“Eat,” he repeated. “It’ll help. I need to speak to the driver, excuse me…”
He strolled past Harry and disappeared into the corridor.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Harry?” said Hermione, watching Harry anxiously.
“I don’t get it…. What happened?” said Harry, wiping more sweat off his face.
“Well – that thing – the Dementor – stood there and looked around (I mean, I
think it did, I couldn’t see its face) – and you – you …”
“ I thought you were having a fit or something,” said Ron, who st ill looked
scared. “ You went sort of rigid and fell out of your seat and started twitching –

“ And Professor Lupin stepped over you, and walked toward the Dementor, and
pulled out his wand,” said Hermione, “ and he said, ‘None of us is hiding Sirius Black
under our cloaks. Go.’ But the Dementor didn’ t move, so Lupin mut tered something,
and a silvery thing shot out of his wand at it , and it turned around and sort of glided
away…. “
“ It was horrible,” said Neville, in a higher voice than usual. “ Did YOU feel how
cold it got when it came in?”
“ I felt weird,” said Ron, shif t ing his shoulders uncomfortably. “ Like I’ d never
be cheerful again….”
Ginny, who was huddled in her corner looking nearly as bad as Harry felt , gave
a small sob; Hermione went over and put a comforting arm around her.
“But didn’t any of you – fall off your seats?” said Harry awkwardly.
“ No,” said Ron, looking anxiously at Harry again. “Ginny was shaking like mad,
though….”
Harry didn’ t understand. He felt weak and shivery, as though he were
recovering f rom a bad bout of flu; he also felt the beginnings of shame. Why had he
gone to pieces like that , when no one else had? Professor Lupin had come back. He
paused as he entered, looked around, and said, with a small smile, “I haven’t poisoned
that chocolate, you know….”
Harry took a bite and to his great surprise felt warmth spread suddenly to the
tips of his fingers and toes.
“We’ ll be at Hogwarts in ten minutes,” said Professor Lupin. “ Are you all right ,
Harry?”
Harry didn’t ask how Professor Lupin knew his name.
“Fine,” he muttered, embarrassed.
They didn’ t talk much during the remainder of the j ourney. At long last , the
t rain stopped at Hogsmeade stat ion, and there was a great scramble to get outside;
owls hooted, cats meowed, and Neville’ s pet toad croaked loudly from under his hat .
It was freezing on the tiny platform; rain was driving down in icy sheets.
“ Firs’ years this way!” called a familiar voice. Harry, Ron, and Hermione
turned and saw the gigant ic out line of Hagrid at the other end of the plat form,
beckoning the terrified–looking new students forward for their t radit ional j ourney
across the lake.
“ All right , you three?” Hagrid yelled over the heads of the crowd. They waved
at him, but had no chance to speak to him because the mass of people around them
was shunt ing them away along the plat form. Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed the
rest of the school along the platform and out onto a rough mud track, where at least a
hundred stagecoaches awaited the remaining students, each pulled, Harry could only
assume, by an invisible horse, because when they climbed inside and shut the door,
the coach set off all by itself, bumping and swaying in procession.
The coach smelled faint ly of mold and st raw. Harry felt bet ter since the
chocolate, but st ill weak. Ron and Hermione kept looking at him sideways, as though
frightened he might collapse again. As the carriage t rundled toward a pair of
magnificent wrought iron gates, flanked with stone columns topped with winged
boars, Harry saw two more towering, hooded Dementors, standing guard on either
side. A wave of cold sickness threatened to engulf him again; he leaned back into the
lumpy seat and closed his eyes until they had passed the gates. The carriage picked up
speed on the long, sloping drive up to the castle; Hermione was leaning out of the tiny
window, watching the many turrets and towers draw nearer. At last , the carriage
swayed to a halt, and Hermione and Ron got out.
As Harry stepped down, a drawling, delighted voice sounded in his ear. “ You
fainted, Potter? Is Longbottorn telling the truth? You actually fainted?”
Malfoy elbowed past Hermione to block Harry’ s way up the stone steps to the
castle, his face gleeful and his pale eyes glinting maliciously. “Shove off, Malfoy,” said
Ron, whose jaw was clenched.
“ Did you faint as well, Weasley?” said Malfoy loudly. “ Did the scary old
Dementor frighten you too, Weasley?”
“ Is there a problem?” said a mild voice. Professor Lupin had j ust got ten out of
the next carriage.
Malfoy gave Professor Lupin an insolent stare, which took in the patches on his
robes and the delapidated suitcase. With a t iny hint of sarcasm in his voice, he said,
“ Oh, no – er – Professor,” then he smirked at Crabbe and Goyle and led them up the
steps into the cast le. Hermione prodded Ron in the back to make him hurry, and the
three of them j oined the crowd swarming up the steps, through the giant oak front
doors, into the cavernous ent rance hall, which was lit with f laming torches, and
housed a magnificent marble staircase that led to the upper floors.
The door into the Great Hall stood open at the right ; Harry followed the crowd
toward it , but had barely glimpsed the enchanted ceiling, which was black and cloudy
tonight, when a voice called, “Potter! Granger! I want to see you both!”
Harry and Hermione turned around, surprised. Professor McGonagall,
Transfigurat ion teacher and head of Gryffindor House, was calling over the heads of
the crowd. She was a stern-looking witch who wore her hair in a t ight bun; her sharp
eyes were framed with square spectacles. Harry fought his way over to her with a
feeling of foreboding: Professor McGonagall had a way of making him feel he must
have done something wrong.
“There’s no need to look so worried –I j ust want a word in MY office,” she told
them. “Move along there, Weasley.”
Ron stared as Professor McGonagall ushered Harry and Hermione away from the
chat tering crowd; they accompanied her across the ent rance hall, up the marble
staircase, and along a corridor. Once they were in her office, a small room with a
large, welcoming fire, Professor McGonagall mot ioned Harry and Hermione to sit
down. She set t led herself behind her desk and said abrupt ly, “ Professor Lupin sent an
owl ahead to say that you were taken ill on the train, Potter.”
Before Harry could reply, there was a soft knock on the door and Madam
Pomfrey, the nurse, came bust ling in. Harry felt himself going red in the face. It was
bad enough that he’ d passed out , or whatever he had done, without everyone making
all this fuss.
“I’m fine,” he said, “I don’t need anything …”
“Oh, it ’ s you, is it?” said Madam Pomfrey, ignoring this and bending down to
stare closely at him. “I suppose you’ve been doing something dangerous again?”
“It was a Dementor, Poppy,” said Professor McGonagall.
They exchanged a dark look, and Madam Pomfrey clucked disapprovingly.
“ Set t ing Dementors around a school, she mut tered, pushing back Harry’ s hair
and feeling his forehead. “ He won’ t be the last one who collapses. Yes, he’ s all
clammy. Terrible things, they are, and the effect they have on people who are already
delicate”
“I’m not delicate!” said Harry crossly.
“Of course you’ re not ,” said Madam Pomfrey absentmindedly, now taking his
pulse.
“What does he need?” said Professor McGonagall crisply. “ Bed rest? Should he
perhaps spend tonight in the hospital wing?”
“ I’m f ine!” said Harry, j umping up. The thought of what Draco Malfoy would
say if he had to go to the hospital wing was torture.
“Well, he should have some chocolate, at the very least ,” said Madam
Pomfrey, who was now trying to peer into Harry’s eyes.
“ I’ ve already had some,” said Harry. “ Professor Lupin gave me some. He gave
it to all of us.”
“ Did he, now?” said Madam Pomfrey approvingly. “ So we’ ve f inally got a
Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who knows his remedies?”
“Are you sure you feel all right, Potter?” Professor McGonagall said sharply.
“Yes, “said Harry.
“ Very well. Kindly wait outside while I have a quick word with Miss Granger
about her course schedule, then we can go down to the feast together.”
Harry went back into the corridor with Madam Pomfrey, who left for the
hospital wing, mut tering to herself He had to wait only a few minutes; then Hermione
emerged looking very happy about something, followed by Professor McGonagall, and
the three of them made their way back down the marble staircase to the Great Hall.
It was a sea of pointed black hats; each of the long House tables was lined with
students, their faces glimmering by the light of thousands of candles, which were
float ing over the tables in midair. Professor Flitwick, who was a t iny lit t le wizard with
a shock of white hair, was carrying an ancient hat and a three–legged stool out of the
hall.
“Oh,” said Hermione softly, “we’ve missed the Sorting!”
New students at Hogwarts were sorted into Houses by trying on the sorting Hat,
which shouted out the House they were best suited to (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw,
Huff lepuff, or Slytherin). Professor McGonagall st rode off toward her empty seat at
the staff table, and Harry and Hermione set off in the other direct ion, as quiet ly as
possible, toward the Gryffindor table. People looked around at them as they passed
along the back of the hall, and a few of them pointed at Harry. Had the story of his
collapsing in front of the Dementor traveled that fast?
He and Hermione sat down on either side of Ron, who had saved them seats.
“What was all that about?” he muttered to Harry.
Harry started to explain in a whisper, but at that moment the headmaster
stood up to speak, and he broke off . Professor Dumbledore, though very old, always
gave an impression of great energy. He had several feet of long silver hair and beard,
half–moon spectacles, and an ext remely crooked nose. He was often described as the
greatest wizard of the age, but that wasn’ t why Harry respected him. You couldn’ t
help t rust ing Albus Dumbledore, and as Harry watched him beaming around at the
students, he felt really calm for the first t ime since the Dementor had entered the
train compartment.
“Welcome!” said Dumbledore, the candlelight shimmering on his beard.
“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! I have a few things to say to you all, and as
one of them is very serious, I think it best to get it out of the way before you become
befuddled by our excellent feast….”
Dumbledore cleared his throat and cont inued, “ As you will all be aware after
their search of the Hogwarts Express, our school is present ly playing host to some of
the Dementors of Azkaban, who are here on Ministry of Magic business.”
He paused, and Harry remembered what Mr. Weasley had said about
Dumbledore not being happy with the Dementors guarding the school. “ They are
stat ioned at every ent rance to the grounds,” Dumbledore cont inued, “ and while they
are with us, I must make it plain that nobody is to leave school without permission.
Dementors are not to be fooled by t ricks or disguises – or even Invisibility Cloaks,” he
added blandly, and Harry and Ron glanced at each other. “ It is not in the nature of a
Dementor to understand pleading or excuses. I therefore warn each and every one of
you to give them no reason to harm you. I look to the prefects, and our new Head Boy
and Girl, to make sure that no student runs afoul of the Dementors,” he said.
Percy, who was sit t ing a few seats down from Harry, puffed out his chest again
and stared around impressively. Dumbledore paused again; he looked very seriously
around the hall, and nobody moved or made a sound.
“On a happier note,” he continued, I am pleased to welcome two new teachers
to our ranks this year.
“ First , Professor Lupin, who has kindly consented to f ill the post of Defense
Against the Dark Arts teacher.”
There was some scat tered, rather unenthusiast ic applause. Only those who had
been in the compartment on the t rain with Professor Lupin clapped hard, Harry among
them. Professor Lupin looked particularly shabby next to all the other teachers in their
best robes.
“Look at Snape!” Ron hissed in Harry’s ear.
Professor Snape, the Pot ions master, was staring along the staff table at
Professor Lupin. It was common knowledge that Snape, anted the Defense Against the
Dark Arts j ob, but even Harry, who hated Snape, was start led at the expression
twist ing his thin, sallow face. It was beyond anger: it was loathing. Harry knew that
expression only too well; it was the look Snape wore every time he set eyes on Harry.
“ As to our second new appointment ,” Dumbledore cont inued as the lukewarm
applause for Professor Lupin died away. “Well, I am sorry to tell you that Professor
Ket t leburn, our Care of Magical Creatures teacher, ret ired at the end of last year in
order to enj oy more t ime with his remaining limbs. However, I am delighted to say
that his place will be filled by none other than Rubeus Hagrid, who has agreed to take
on this teaching job in addition to his gamekeeping duties.”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione stared at one another, stunned. Then they j oined in
with the applause, which was tumultuous at the Gryffindor table in part icular. Harry
leaned forward to see Hagrid, who was ruby–red in the face and staring down at his
enormous hands, his wide grin hidden in the tangle of his black beard.
“We should’ ve known!” Ron roared, pounding the table. “Who else would have
assigned us a biting book?”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were the last to stop clapping, and as Professor
Dumbledore started speaking again, they saw that Hagrid was wiping his eyes on the
tablecloth.
“Well, I think that ’ s everything of importance,” said Dumbledore. “ Let the
feast begin!”
The golden plates and goblets before them filled suddenly with food and drink.
Harry, suddenly ravenous, helped himself to everything he could reach and began to
eat . It was a delicious feast ; the hall echoed with talk, laughter, and the clat ter of
knives and forks. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, however, were eager for it to f inish so
that they could talk to Hagrid. They knew how much being made a teacher would
mean to him. Hagrid wasn’ t a fully qualified wizard; he had been expelled f rom
Hogwarts in his third year for a crime he had not commit ted. It had been Harry, Ron,
and Hermione who had cleared Hagrid’s name last year.
At long last, when the last morsels of pumpkin tart had melted from the golden
plat ters, Dumbledore gave the word that it was t ime for them all to go to bed, and
they got their chance.
“ Congratulat ions, Hagrid!” Hermione squealed as they reached the teachers’
table.
“ All down ter you three,” said Hagrid, wiping his shining face on his napkin as
he looked up at them., “ Can’ believe it … great man, Dumbledore… came st raight
down to me hut after Professor Ket t leburn said he’ d had enough…. It ’ s what I always
wanted. –”
Overcome with emot ion, he buried his face in his napkin, and Professor
McGonagall shooed them away. Harry, Ron, and Hermione j oined the Gryffindors
st reaming up the marble staircase and, very t ired now, along more corridors, up more
and more stairs, to the hidden ent rance to Gryff indor Tower’ s large port rait of a fat
lady in a pink dress asked them, “Password?”
“Coming through, coming through!” Percy called from behind the crowd.
“The new password’s ‘Fortuna Major’!”
“Oh no,” said Neville Longbot tom sadly. He always had t rouble remembering
the passwords.
Through the port rait hole and across the common room, the girls and boys
divided toward their separate staircases. Harry climbed the spiral stair with no
thought in his head except how glad he was to be back. They reached their familiar,
circular dormitory with its five four–poster beds, and Harry, looking around, felt he
was home at last.
CHAPTER SIX – TALONS AND TEA LEAVES
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered the Great Hall for breakfast the next
day, the first thing they saw was Draco Malfoy, who seemed to be entertaining a large
group of Slytherins with a very funny story. As they passed, Malfoy did a ridiculous
impression of a swooning fit and there was a roar of laughter.
“ Ignore him,” said Hermione, who was right behind Harry. “ Just ignore him,
it’s not worth it….”
“ Hey, Pot ter!” shrieked Pansy Parkinson, a Slytherin girl with a face like a pug.
“Potter! The Dementors are coming, Potter! Woooooooooo!”
Harry dropped into a seat at the Gryffindor table, next to George Weasley.
“New third–year course schedules, ” said George, passing then, over. “What ’ s
up with you, Harry?”
“Malfoy,” said Ron, sit t ing down on George’ s other side and glaring over at the
Slytherin table.
George looked up in time to see Malfoy pretending to faint with terror again.
“ That lit t le git ,” he said calmly. “ He wasn’ t so cocky last night when the
Dementors were down at our end of the t rain. Came runing into our compartment ,
didn’t he, Fred?”
“Nearly wet himself,” said Fred, with a contemptuous glance at Malfoy.
“ I wasn’ t too happy myself,” said George. “ They’ re horrible things, those
Dementors….”
“Sort of freeze your insides, don’t they?” said Fred.
“You didn’t pass out, though, did you?” said Harry in a low voice.
“ Forget it , Harry,” said George bracingly. “ Dad had to go out to Azkaban one
t ime, remember, Fred? And he said it was the worst place he’ d ever been, he came
back all weak and shaking…. They suck the happiness out of a place, Dementors. Most
of the prisoners go mad in there.”
“ Anyway, we’ ll see how happy Malfoy looks after our first Quidditch match,”
said Fred. “Gryffindor versus Slytherin, first game of the season, remember?”
The only t ime Harry and Malfoy had faced each other in a Quiddit ch match,
Malfoy had definitely come off worse. Feeling slight ly more cheerful, Harry helped
himself to sausages and fried tomatoes. Hermione was examining her new schedule.
“ Ooh, good, we’re starting some new subjects today,” she said happily.
“ Hermione,” said Ron when he looked through Hermione’ s shoulder, “ they
made mistake in arranging your schedule. Look – they made you to at tend ten lessons
a day! You won’t have enough time.”
“I can arrange it. I’ve been discussing it with Professor McGonagall.”
“ But , take a look,” said Ron laughing, “ look this morning? Nine o’ clock,
Divinat ion. And under it , nine o’ clock, Muggle Studies. And…” Ron bowed closer in
disbelief, “ Look – under it again. Arithmancy, nine o’ clock. I mean, I know you’ re
smart , Hermione, but how come someone’ s that smart?How come you’ re going to be
at three place at the same time?”
“ Don’ t be ridiculous,” snapped Hermione. “ Of course I won’ t be in three
classes at the same time.”
“Well, so…”
“Pass me the jam,” said Hermione.
“But…”
“Oh, Ron, what does it have to do with you if my schedule is a bit full?” said
Hermione. “I told you that I’ve discussed it with Professor McGonagall.”
At that t ime Hagrid entered the Great Hall. He wore his long moleskin
overcoat.
“Fine, everythin’?” he said excitedly, stopped in his way to the teacher’s table.
“ Yeh guys come with my firs’ lesson! After lunch! Woken up at five to prepare
everythin’… hope everythin’s fine… Me, teacher, wow….” He grinned widely.
“What d’you think he’s prepared?” Ron asked, bit nervously.
The Hall began to empty when the students went to their first classes. Ron
checked his schedule.
“We’ d bet ter go now, look, Divinat ion at the top of North Tower. It takes ten
minutes to get there.”
They finished breakfast in hurry, saying goodbye to Fred and George and went
to the door Hall. When they passed Slytherin table, Malfoy once again pretending to
faint . Laughter followed Harry unt il the Front Hall. Journey to the North Tower is a
long one. Two years at Hogwarts haven’t taught them everything about the castle, and
they’ve never been to the North Tower.
“There –must – be – a shortcut ,” gasped Ron, when they went to the seventh
long stairs and went out to an unknown bordain. The only thing there was a big
painting hanging on the stonewall.
“I guess this way,” said Hermione, looking through an empty corridor in right.
“ Impossible. That ’ s going south. Look, you can see a bit of lake from the
window…”
Harry looked at that painting.
“ Villains are these that t respass upon my private lands! Come I. Scorn at my
fall, perchance? Draw, you knaves, you dogs!” They watched in astonishment as the
lit t le knight tugged his sword out of its scabbard and began brandishing it violent ly,
hopping up and down in rage. But the sword was too long for him; a part icularly wild
swing made him overbalance, and he landed facedown in the grass.
“Are you all right?” said Harry, moving closer to the picture.
“Get back, you scurvy braggart! Back, you rogue!”
The knight seized his sword again and used it to push himself back up, but the
blade sank deeply into the grass and, though he pulled with all his might , he couldn’ t
get it out again. Finally, he had to flop back down onto the grass and push up his visor
to mop his sweating face.
“ Listen,” said Harry, taking advantage of the knight ’ s exhaust ion, “ we’ re
looking for the North Tower. You don’t know the way, do you?”
“ A quest !” The knight ’ s rage seemed to vanish instant ly. He clanked to his feet
and shouted, “ Come follow me, dear friends, and we shall find our goal, or else shall
perish bravely in the charge!”
He gave the sword another fruitless tug, tried and failed to mount the fat pony,
gave up, and cried, “On foot then, good sirs and gentle lady! On! On!”
And he ran, clanking loudly, into the left side of the frame and out of sight.
They hurried after him along the corridor, following the sound of his armor.
Every now and then they spotted him running through a picture ahead.
“ Be of stout heart , the worst is yet to come!” yelled the knight , and they saw
him reappear in f ront of an alarmed group of women in crinolines, whose picture hung
on the wall of a narrow spiral staircase.
Puffing loudly, Harry, Ron, and Hermione climbed the t ight ly spiraling steps,
get t ing dizzier and dizzier, unt il at last they heard the murmur of voices above them
and knew they had reached the classroom.
“ Farewell!” cried the knight , popping his head into a paint ing of some sinister–
looking monks. “ Farewell, my comrades–in–arms! If ever you have need of noble heart
and steely sinew, call upon Sir Cadogan!”
“ Yeah, we’ ll call you,” mut tered Ron as the knight disappeared, “ if we ever
need someone mental.”
They climbed the last few steps and emerged onto a t iny landing, where most
of the class was already assembled. There were no doors off this landing, but Ron
nudged Harry and pointed at the ceiling, where there was a circular t rapdoor with a
brass plaque on it.
“ ‘Sibyll Trelawney, Divinat ion teacher,” ‘ Harry read. “ How’ re we supposed to
get up there?”
As though in answer to his quest ion, the t rapdoor suddenly opened, and a
silvery ladder descended right at Harry’ s feet . Everyone got quiet . “ Af ter you,” said
Ron, grinning, so Harry climbed the ladder first.
He emerged into the st rangest–looking classroom he had ever seen. In fact , it
didn’ t look like a classroom at all, more like a cross between someone’ s at t ic and an
old–fashioned teashop. At least twenty small, circular tables were crammed inside it ,
all surrounded by chint z armchairs and fat lit t le poufs. Everything was lit with a dim,
crimson light ; the curtains at the windows were all closed, and the many lamps were
draped with dark red scarves. It was st iflingly warm, and the fire that was burning
under the crowded mantelpiece was giving off a heavy, sickly sort of perfume as it
heated a large copper ket t le. The shelves running around the circular walls were
crammed with dusty–looking feathers, stubs of candles, many packs of tattered playing
cards, countless silvery crystal balls, and a huge array of teacups.
Ron appeared at Harry’ s shoulder as the class assembled around them, all
talking in whispers.
“Where is she?” Ron said.
A voice came suddenly out of the shadows, a soft, misty sort of voice.
“Welcome,” it said. “How nice to see you in the physical world at last.”
Harry’ s immediate impression was of a large, glit tering insect . Professor
Trelawney moved into the firelight , and they saw that she was very thin; her large
glasses magnif ied her eyes to several t imes their natural size, and she was draped in a
gauzy spangled shawl. Innumerable chains and beads hung around her spindly neck,
and her arms and hands were encrusted with bangles and rings.
“Sit, my children, sit,” she said, and they all climbed awkwardly into armchairs
or sank onto poufs. Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat themselves around the same round
table.
“Welcome to Divinat ion,” said Professor Trelawney, who had seated herself in
a winged armchair in front of the fire. “My name is professor Trelawney. You may not
have seen me before. I find that descending too often into the hustle and bustle of the
main school clouds my Inner Eye.”
Nobody said anything to this ext raordinary pronouncement . Professor
Trelawney delicately rearranged her shawl and cont inued, “ So you have chosen to
study Divinat ion, the most difficult of all magical arts. I must warn you at the outset
that if you do not have the Sight , there is very lit t le I will be able to teach you.. Books
can take you only so far in this field….”
At these words, both Harry and Ron glanced, grinning, at Hermione, who
looked startled at the news that books wouldn’t be much help in this subject.
“Many witches and wizards, talented though they are in the area of loud bangs
and smells and sudden disappearings, are yet unable to penet rate the veiled mysteries
of the future,” Professor Trelawney went on, her enormous, gleaming eyes moving
from face to nervous face. “It is a Gift granted to few. You, boy,” she said suddenly to
Neville, who almost toppled off his pouf. “Is your grandmother well?”
“I think so,” said Neville tremulously.
“ I wouldn’ t be so sure if I were you, dear,” said Professor Trelawney, the
firelight glint ing on her long emerald earrings. Neville gulped. Professor Trelawney
cont inued placidly. “We will be covering the basic methods of Divinat ion this year.
The first term will be devoted to reading the tea leaves. Next term we shall progress
to palmist ry. By the way, my dear,” she shot suddenly at Parvat i Pat il, “ beware a red–
haired man.”
Parvat i gave a start led look at Ron, who was right behind her and edged her
chair away from him.
“ In the second term,” Professor Trelawney went on, “ we shall progress to the
crystal ball – if we have finished with fire omens, that is. Unfortunately, classes will be
disrupted in February by a nasty bout of flu. I myself will lose my voice. And around
Easter, one of our number will leave us forever.”
A very tense silence followed this pronouncement , but Professor Trelawney
seemed unaware of it.
“ I wonder, dear,” she said to Lavender Brown, who was nearest and shrank
back in her chair, “if you could pass me the largest silver teapot?”
Lavender, looking relieved, stood up, took an enormous teapot from the shelf,
and put it down on the table in front of Professor Trelawney.
“ Thank you, my dear. Incidentally, that thing you are dreading – it will happen
on Friday the sixteenth of October.”
Lavender trembled.
“Now, I want you all to divide into pairs. Collect a teacup from the shelf, come
to me, and I will fill it . Then sit down and drink, drink unt il only the dregs remain.
Swill these around the cup three t imes with the left hand, then turn the cup upside
down on its saucer, wait for the last of the tea to drain away, then give your cup to
your partner to read. You will interpret the pat terns using pages five and six of
Unfogging the Future. I shall move among you, helping and instructing.
“Oh, and dear” –she caught Neville by the arm as he made to stand up – “after
you’ ve broken your first cup, would you be so kind as to select one of the blue
patterned ones? I’m rather attached to the pink.”
Sure enough, Neville had no sooner reached the shelf of teacups when there
was a t inkle of breaking china. Professor Trelawney swept over to him holding a
dustpan and brush and said, “One of the blue ones, then, dear, if you wouldn’t mind…
thank you. … “
When Harry and Ron had had their teacups filled, they went back to their table
and t ried to drink the scalding tea quickly. They swilled the dregs around as Professor
Trelawney had instructed, then drained the cups and swapped over.
“ Right ,” said Ron as they both opened their books at pages five and six. “What
can you see in mine?”
“ A load of soggy brown stuff,” said Harry. The heavily perfumed smoke in the
room was making him feel sleepy and stupid.
“Broaden your minds, my dears, and allow your eyes to see past the mundane!”
Professor Trelawney cried through the gloom.
Harry tried to pull himself together.
“ Right , you’ ve got a crooked sort of cross… “ He consulted Unfogging t he
Future. “That means you’re going to have ‘trials and suffering’ – sorry about that – but
there’ s a thing that could be the sun… hang on… that means ‘ great happiness’ . .. so
you’re going to suffer but be very happy….”
“ You need your Inner Eye tested, if you ask me,” said Ron, and they both had
to stifle their laughs as Professor Trelawney gazed in their direction.
“My turn…” Ron peered into Harry’s teacup, his forehead wrinkled with effort.
“ There’ s a blob a bit like a bowler hat ,” he said. “Maybe you’ re going to work for the
Ministry of Magic…”
He turned the teacup the other way up.
“ But this way it looks more like an acorn…. What ’ s that?” He scanned his copy
of Unfogging the Future. “ ‘A windfall, unexpected gold.’ Excellent , you can lend me
some… and there’ s a thin, here,” he turned the cup again, “ that looks like an
animal… yeah, if that was its head… it looks like a hippo… no, a sheep…”
Professor Trelawney whirled around as Harry let out a snort of laughter.
“ Let me see that , my dear,” she said reprovingly to Ron, sweeping over and
snatching Harry’ s cup from him. Everyone went quiet to watch. Professor Trelawney
was staring into the teacup, rotating it counterclockwise.
“The falcon… my dear, you have a deadly enemy.”
“ But everyone knows that ,” said Hermione in a loud whisper. Professor
Trelawney stared at her.
“Well, they do,” said Hermione. “ Everybody knows about Harry and You–Know–
Who.”
Harry and Ron stared at her with a mixture of amazement and admirat ion.
They had never heard Hermione speak to a teacher like that before. Professor
Trelawney chose not to reply. She lowered her huge eyes to Harry’ s cup again and
continued to turn it.
“ The club… an at tack. Dear, dear, this is not a happy cup…. I thought that
was a bowler hat,” said Ron sheepishly.
“The skull… danger in your path, my dear….”
Everyone was staring, t ransfixed, at Professor Trelawney, who gave the cup a
final turn, gasped, and then screamed. There was another t inkle of breaking china;
Neville had smashed his second cup. Professor Trelawney sank into a vacant armchair,
her glittering hand at her heart and her eyes closed.
“My dear boy… my poor, dear boy no it is kinder not to say… no… don’ t ask
me….”
“What is it , Professor?” said Dean Thomas at once. Everyone had got to their
feet , and slowly they crowded around Harry and Ron’ s table, pressing close to
Professor Trelawney’s chair to get a good look at Harry’s cup.
“My dear,” Professor Trelawney’s huge eyes opened dramatically,
“You have the Grim.”
“The what?” said Harry.
He could tell that he wasn’ t the only one who didn’ t understand; Dean Thomas
shrugged at him and Lavender Brown looked puzzled, but nearly everybody else
clapped their hands to their mouths in horror.
“ The Grim, my dear, the Grim!” cried Professor Trelawney, who looked
shocked that Harry hadn’ t understood. “ The giant , spect ral dog that haunts
churchyards! My dear boy, it is an omen – the worst omen – of death!”
Harry’s stomach lurched. That dog on the cover of Death Omens in Flourish and
Blotts –the dog in the shadows of Magnolia Crescent … Lavender Brown clapped her
hands to her mouth too. Everyone was looking at Harry, everyone except Hermione,
who had gotten up and moved around to the back of Professor Trelawney’s chair.
“I don’t think it looks like a Grim,” she said flatly.
Professor Trelawney surveyed Hermione with mounting dislike.
“ You’ ll forgive me for saying so, my dear, but I perceive very lit t le aura around
you. Very lit t le recept ivity to the resonance of the future.” Seamus Finnigan was
tilting his head from side to side.
“ It looks like a Grim if you do this,” he said, with his eyes almost shut , “ but it
looks more like a donkey from here,” he said, leaning to the left.
“When you’ ve all finished deciding whether I’m going to die or not !” said
Harry, taking even himself by surprise. Now nobody seemed to want to look at him.
“ I think we will leave the lesson here for today,” said Professor Trelawney in
her mistiest voice. “Yes… please pack away your things….”
Silent ly the class took their teacups back to Professor Trelawney, packed away
their books, and closed their bags. Even Ron was avoiding Harry’s eyes.
“ Unt il we meet again,” said Professor Trelawney faint ly, “ fair fortune be
yours. Oh, and dear” – she pointed at Neville – “ you’ ll be late next t ime, so mind you
work extra–hard to catch up.”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione descended Professor Trelawney’ s ladder and the
winding stair in silence, then set off for Professor McGonagall’ s Transfigurat ion lesson.
It took them so long to find her classroom that , early as they had left Divinat ion, they
were only j ust in t ime. Harry chose a seat right at the back of the room, feeling as
though he were sit t ing in a very bright spot light ; the rest of the class kept shoot ing
furt ive glances at him, as though he were about to drop dead at any moment . He
hardly heard what Professor McGonagall was telling them about Animagi (wizards who
could t ransform at will into animals), and wasn’ t even watching when she t ransformed
herself in front of their eyes into a tabby cat with spectacle markings around her eyes.
“ Really, what has got into you all today?” said Professor McGonagall, turning
back into herself with a faint pop, and staring around at them all. “ Not that it
matters, but that’s the first time my transformation’s not got applause from a class.”
Everybody’ s heads turned toward Harry again, but nobody spoke. Then
Hermione raised her hand.
“ Please, Professor, we’ ve j ust had our first Divinat ion class, and we were
reading the tea leaves, and –”
“Ah, of course,” said Professor McGonagall, suddenly frowning.
There is no need to say any more, Miss Granger. Tell me, which of you will be
dying this year?”
Everyone stared at her.
“Me,” said Harry, finally.
“I see,” said Professor McGonagall, fixing Harry with her beady eyes. “Then you
should know, Pot ter, that Sibyll Trelawney has predicted the death of one student a
year since she arrived at this school. None of them has died yet. Seeing death omens is
her favorite way of greet ing a new class. If it were not for the fact that I never speak
ill of my colleagues –”
Professor McGonagall broke off, and they saw that her nost rils had gone white.
She went on, more calmly, “Divination is one of the most imprecise branches of magic.
I shall not conceal from you that I have very little patience with it. True Seers are very
rare, and Professor Trelawney –”
She stopped again, and then said, in a very mat ter–of–fact tone, “ You look in
excellent health to me, Pot ter, so you will excuse me if I don’ t let you off homework
today. I assure you that if you die, you need not hand it in.”
Hermione laughed. Harry felt a bit bet ter. It was harder to feel scared of a
lump of tealeaves away from the dim red light and befuddling perfume of Professor
Trelawney’ s classroom. Not everyone was convinced, however. Ron st ill looked
worried, and Lavender whispered, “But what about Neville’s cup?”
When the Transfigurat ion class had finished, they j oined the crowd thundering
toward the Great Hall for lunch.
“ Ron, cheer up,” said Hermione, pushing a dish of stew toward him. “ You
heard what Professor McGonagall said.”
Ron spooned stew onto his plate and picked up his fork but didn’t start.
“ Harry,” he said, in a low, serious voice, “ You haven’ t seen a great black dog
anywhere, have you?”
“Yeah, I have,” said Harry. “I saw one the night I left the Dursleys’.”
Ron let his fork fall with a clatter.
“Probably a stray,” said Hermione calmly.
Ron looked at Hermione as though she had gone mad.
“Hermione, if Harry’s seen a Grim, that’s – that’s bad,” he said. “My – my uncle
Bilius saw one and – and he died twenty–four hours later!”
“Coincidence,” said Hermione airily, pouring herself some pumpkin juice.
“ You don’ t know what you’ re talking about !” said Ron, start ing to get angry.
“Grims scare the living daylights out of most wizards!”
“ There you are, then,” said Hermione in a superior tone. “ They see the Grim
and die of fright . The Grim’ s not an omen, it ’ s the cause of death! And Harry’ s st ill
with us because he’ s not stupid enough to see one and think, right , well, I’ d bet ter
kick the bucket then!”
Ron mouthed wordlessly at Hermione, who opened her bag, took out her new
Arithmancy book, and propped it open against the juice jug.
“ I think Divinat ion seems very woolly,” she said, searching for her page. “ A lot
of guesswork, if you ask me.”
“There was nothing woolly about the Grim in that cup!” said Ron hotly.
“ You didn’ t seem quite so confident when you were telling Harry it was a
sheep,” said Hermione coolly.
“ Professor Trelawney said you didn’ t have the right aura! You j ust don’ t like
being bad at something for a change!”
He had touched a nerve. Hermione slammed her Arithmancy book down on the
table so hard that bits of meat and carrot flew everywhere.
“ If being good at Divinat ion means I have to pretend to see death omens in a
lump of tea leaves, I’m not sure I’ ll be studying it much longer! That lesson was
absolute rubbish compared with my Arithmancy class!”
She snatched up her bag and stalked away.
Ron frowned after her.
“What ’ s she talking about?” he said to Harry. “ She hasn’ t been to an
Arithmancy class yet.”
Harry was pleased to get out of the cast le after lunch. Yesterday’ s rain had
cleared; the sky was a clear, pale gray, and the grass was springy and damp underfoot
as they set off for their first ever Care of Magical Creatures class.
Ron and Hermione weren’ t speaking to each other. Harry walked beside them
in silence as they went down the sloping lawns to Hagrid’ s hut on the edge of the
Forbidden Forest . It was only when he spot ted three only–too–familiar backs ahead of
them that he realized they must be having these lessons with the Slytherins. Malfoy
was talking animatedly to Crabbe and Goyle, who were chort ling. Harry was quite sure
he knew what they were talking about.
Hagrid was wait ing for his class at the door of his hut . He stood in his moleskin
overcoat, with Fang the boarhound at his heels, looking impatient to start.
“ C’mon, now, get a move on!” he called as the class approached. “ Got a real
treat for yeh today! Great lesson comin’ up! Everyone here? Right, follow me!”
For one nasty moment , Harry thought that Hagrid was going to lead them into
the forest ; Harry had had enough unpleasant experiences in there to last him a
lifet ime. However, Hagrid st rolled off around the edge of the t rees, and five minutes
later, they found themselves outside a kind of paddock. There was nothing in there.
“ Everyone gather ‘ round the fence here!” he called. “ That ’ s it –make sure yeh
can see – now, firs’ thing yeh’ll want ter do is open yer books –”
“How?” said the cold, drawling voice of Draco Malfoy.
“Eh?” said Hagrid.
“ How do we open our books?” Malfoy repeated. He took out his copy of The
Monst er Book of Monsters, which he had bound shut with a length of rope. Other
people took theirs out too; some, like Harry, had belted their book shut ; others had
crammed them inside tight bags or clamped them together with binder clips.
“Hasn’ – hasn’ anyone bin able ter open their books?” said Hagrid, looking
crestfallen.
The class all shook their heads.
“ Yeh’ ve got ter st roke ‘ em,” said Hagrid, as though this was the most obvious
thing in the world. “Look –”
He took Hermione’ s copy and ripped off the Spellotape that bound it . The book
t ried to bite, but Hagrid ran a giant foref inger down its spine, and the book shivered,
and then fell open and lay quiet in his hand.
“Oh, how silly we’ve all been!” Malfoy sneered. “We should have stroked them!
Why didn’t we guess!”
“I – I thought they were funny,” Hagrid said uncertainly to Hermione. “ Oh,
t remendously funny!” said Malfoy. “ Really wit ty, giving us books that t ry and rip our
hands off!”
“ Shut up, Malfoy,” said Harry quiet ly. Hagrid was looking downcast and Harry
wanted Hagrid’s first lesson to be a success.
“ Righ’ then,” said Hagrid, who seemed to have lost his thread, “ so – so yeh’ ve
got yer books an’ – an’ ––now yeh need the Magical Creatures. Yeah. So I’ ll go an’ get
‘em. Hang on… “
He st rode away f rom them into the forest and out of sight . “ God, this place is
going to the dogs,” said Malfoy loudly. “ That of teaching classes, my father’ ll have a
fit when I tell him”
“Shut up, Malfoy,” Harry repeated.
“Careful, Potter, there’s a Dementor behind you
“Oooooooh!” squealed Lavender Brown, point ing toward the opposite side of
the paddock.
Trot t ing toward them were a dozen of the most bizarre creatures Harry had
ever seen. They had the bodies, hind legs, and tails of horses, but the front legs,
wings, and heads of what seemed to be giant eagles, with cruel, steel–colored beaks
and large, brilliant ly, orange eyes. The talons on their front legs were half a foot long
and deadly looking. Each of the beasts had a thick leather collar around its neck,
which was at tached to a long chain, and the ends of all of these were held in the vast
hands of Hagrid, who came jogging into the paddock behind the creatures.
“Gee up, there!” he roared, shaking the chains and urging the creatures toward
the fence where the class stood. Everyone drew back slight ly as Hagrid reached them
and tethered the creatures to the fence.
“ Hippogriffs!” Hagrid roared happily, waving a hand at them. “ Beau’ iful, aren’
they?”
Harry could sort of see what Hagrid meant. Once you got over the first shock of
seeing something that was, half horse, half bird, you started to appreciate the
Hippogriffs’ gleaming coats, changing smoothly from feather to hair, each of them a
different color: stormy gray, bronze, pinkish roan, gleaming chestnut, and inky black.
“So,” said Hagrid, rubbing his hands together and beaming around, “if yeh wan’
ter come a bit nearer –”
No one seemed to want to. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, however, approached
the fence cautiously.
“ Now, firs’ thing yeh got ta know abou’ Hippogriffs is, they’ re proud,” said
Hagrid. “ Easily offended, Hippogrif fs are. Don’ t never insult one, ‘ cause it might be
the last thing yeh do.”
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle weren’t listening; they were talking in an undertone
and Harry had a nasty feeling they were plotting how best to disrupt the lesson.
“ Yeh always wait fer the Hippogriff ter make the firs’ move,” Hagrid
cont inued. “ It ’ s polite, see? Yeh walk toward him, and yeh bow, an’ yeh wait . If he
bows back, yeh’ re allowed ter touch him. If he doesn’ bow, then get away from him
sharpish, ‘cause those talons hurt.
“Right – who wants ter go first?”
Most of the class backed farther away in answer. Even Harry, Ron, and
Hermione had misgivings. The Hippogriffs were tossing their fierce heads and flexing
their powerful wings; they didn’t seem to like being tethered like this.
“No one?” said Hagrid, with a pleading look.
“I’ll do it,” said Harry.
There was an intake of breath from behind him, and both Lavender and Parvat i
whispered, “Oooh, no, Harry, remember your tea leaves!”
Harry ignored them. He climbed over the paddock fence.
“Good man, Harry!” roared Hagrid. “ Right then – let ’ s see how yeh get on with
Buckbeak.”
He unt ied one of the chains, pulled the gray Hippogrif f away from its fellows,
and slipped off its leather collar. The class on the other side of the paddock seemed to
be holding its breath. Malfoy’s eyes were narrowed maliciously.
“ Easy now, Harry,” said Hagrid quiet ly. “ Yeh’ ve got eye contact , now t ry not
ter blink…. Hippogriffs don’ trust yeh if yeh blink too much….”
Harry’ s eyes immediately began to water, but he didn’ t shut them. Buckbeak
had turned his great , sharp head and was staring at Harry with one fierce orange eye.
“Tha’s it,” said Hagrid. “Tha’s it, Harry… now, bow.”
Harry didn’ t feel much like exposing the back of his neck to Buckbeak, but he
did as he was told. He gave a short bow and then looked up. The Hippogriff was st ill
staring haughtily at him. It didn’t move.
“Ah,” said Hagrid, sounding worried. “Right – back away, now, Harry, easy does
it.”
But then, to Harry’ s enormous surprise, the Hippogrif f suddenly bent its scaly
front knees and sank into what was an unmistakable bow.
“Well done, Harry!” said Hagrid, ecstat ic. “ Right – yeh can touch him! Pat his
beak, go on!”
Feeling that a bet ter reward would have been to back away, Harry moved
slowly toward the Hippogriff and reached out toward it . He pat ted the beak several
times and the Hippogriff closed its eyes lazily, as though enjoying it.
The class broke into applause, all except for Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, who
were looking deeply disappointed.
“Righ’ then, Harry,” said Hagrid. “I reckon he might’ let yeh ride him!”
This was more than Harry had bargained for. He was used to a broomst ick; but
he wasn’t sure a Hippogriff would be quite the same.
“ Yeh climb up there, j us’ behind the wing j oint ,” said Hagrid, “ an’ mind yeh
don’ pull any of his feathers out, he won’ like that….”
Harry put his foot on the top of Buckbeak’ s wing and hoisted himself onto its
back. Buckbeak stood up. Harry wasn’ t sure where to hold on; everything in front of
him was covered with feathers.
“Go on, then,” roared Hagrid, slapping the Hippogriffs hindquarters.
Without warning, twelve–foot wings flapped open on either side of Harry, he
just had time to seize the Hippogriff around the neck before he was soaring upward. It
was nothing like a broomst ick, and Harry knew which one he preferred; the
Hippogriff ’ s wings beat uncomfortably on either side of him, catching him under his
legs and making him feel he was about to be thrown off; the glossy feathers slipped
under his fingers and he didn’ t dare get a st ronger grip; instead of the smooth act ion
of his Nimbus Two Thousand, he now felt himself rocking backward and forward as the
hindquarters of the Hippogriff rose and fell with its wings.
Buckbeak flew him once around the paddock and then headed back to the
ground; this was the bit Harry had been dreading; he leaned back as the smooth neck
lowered, feeling he was going to slip off over the beak, then felt a heavy thud as the
four ill–assorted feet hit the ground. He j ust managed to hold on and push himself
straight again.
“Good work, Harry!” roared Hagrid as everyone except Malfoy, Crabbe, and
Goyle cheered. “Okay, who else wants a go?”
Emboldened by Harry’ s success, the rest of the class climbed caut iously into
the paddock. Hagrid unt ied the Hippogriffs one by one, and soon people were bowing
nervously, all over the paddock. Neville ran repeatedly backward from his, which
didn’ t seem to want to bend its knees. Ron and Hermione pract iced on the chestnut ,
while Harry watched.
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle had taken over Buckbeak. He had bowed to Malfoy,
who was now patting his beak, looking disdainful.
“ This is very easy,” Malfoy drawled, loud enough for Harry to, hear him. “ I
knew it must have been, if Pot ter could do it …. I bet you’ re not dangerous at all, are
you?” he said to the Hippogriff. “Are you, you great ugly brute?”
It happened in a flash of steely talons; Malfoy let out a high-pit ched scream
and next moment, Hagrid was wrestling Buckbeak back into his collar as he strained to
get at Malfoy, who lay curled in the grass, blood blossoming over his robes.
“ I’m dying!” Malfoy yelled as the class panicked. “ I’m dying, look at me! It ’ s
killed me!”
“ Yer not dyin’ !” said Hagrid, who had gone very white. “ Someone help me –
gotta get him outta here –”
Hermione ran to hold open the gate as Hagrid lifted Malfoy easily. As they
passed, Harry saw that there was a long, deep gash on Malfoy’ s arm; blood splat tered
the grass and Hagrid ran with him, up the slope toward the castle.
Very shaken, the Care of Magical Creatures class followed at a walk. The
Slytherins were all shouting about Hagrid.
“They should fire him straight away!” said Pansy Parkinson, who was in tears.
“ It was Malfoy’ s fault !” snapped Dean Thomas. Crabbe and Goyle flexed their
muscles threateningly.
They all climbed the stone steps into the deserted entrance hall.
“ I’m going to see if he’ s okay!” said Pansy, and they all watched her run up the
marble staircase. The Slytherins, st ill mut tering about Hagrid, headed away in the
direct ion of their dungeon common room; Harry, Ron, and Hermione proceeded
upstairs to Gryffindor Tower.
“You think he’ll be all right?” said Hermione nervously.
“ Course he will. Madam Pomfrey can mend cuts in about a second,” said Harry,
who had had far worse injuries mended magically by the nurse.
“ That was a really bad thing to happen in Hagrid’ s first class, though, wasn’ t
it?” said Ron, looking worried. “Trust Malfoy to mess things up for him….”
They were among the first to reach the Great Hall at dinnert ime, hoping to
see Hagrid, but he wasn’t there.
“ They wouldn’ t fire him, would they?” said Hermione anxiously, not touching
her steak–and– kidney pudding.
“They’d better not,” said Ron, who wasn’t eating either.
Harry was watching the Slytherin table. A large group including Crabbe and
Goyle was huddled together, deep in conversat ion. Harry was sure they were cooking
up their own version of how Malfoy had been injured.
“Well, you can’t say it wasn’t an interesting first day back,” said Ron gloomily.
They went up to the crowded Gryf findor common room after dinner and t ried
to do the homework Professor McGonagall had given them, but all three of them kept
breaking off and glancing Out of the tower window.
“There’s a light on in Hagrid’s window,” Harry said suddenly.
Ron looked at his watch.
“If we hurried, we could go down and see him. It’s still quite early…”
“I don’t know,” Hermione said slowly, and Harry saw her glance at him.
“ I’m allowed to walk across the grounds, “ he said pointedly. “ Sirius Black
hasn’t got past the Dementors yet, has he?”
So they put their things away and headed out of the portrait hole, glad to meet
nobody on their way to the front doors, as they weren’ t ent irely sure they were
supposed to be out . The grass was st ill wet and looked almost black in the twilight .
When they reached Hagrid’s hut, they knocked, and a voice growled, “C’min.”
Hagrid was sit t ing in his shirtsleeves at his scrubbed wooden table; his
boarhound, Fang, had his head in Hagrid’ s lap. One look told them that Hagrid had
been drinking a lot ; there was a pewter tankard almost as big as a bucket in front of
him, and he seemed to be having difficulty getting them into focus.
“ ‘Spect it ’ s a record,” he said thickly, when he recognized them. “ Don’ reckon
they’ve ever had a teacher who lasted on’y a day before.”
“You haven’t been fired, Hagrid!” gasped Hermione.
“ Not yet ,” said Hagrid miserably, taking a huge gulp of whatever was in the
tankard. “But’s only a matter o’ time, i’ n’t it, after Malfoy…”
“How is he?” said Ron as they all sat down. “It wasn’t serious, was it?”
“Madam Pomfrey fixed him best she could,” said Hagrid dully, “ but he’ s sayin’
it’s still agony… covered in bandages… moanin’…”
“ He’ s faking it , “ said Harry at once. “Madam Pomfrey can mend anything. She
regrew half my bones last year. Trust Malfoy to milk it for all it’s worth.”
“ School gov’ nors have bin told, o’ course,” said Hagrid miseribly. “ They reckon
I started too big. Shoulda left Hippogriffs fer later… done flobberworms or summat….
Jus’ thought itdmake a good firs’ lessons all my fault….”
“It’s all Malfoy’s fault, Hagrid!” said Hermione earnestly.
“We’ re witnesses,” said Harry. “ You said Hippogriffs at tack if you insult them.
It ’ s Malfoy’ s problem that he wasn’ t listening. We’ ll tell Dumbledore what really
happened.”
“Yeah, don’t worry, Hagrid, we’ll back you up,” said Ron.
Tears leaked out of the crinkled corners of Hagrid’ s beet le–black eyes. He
grabbed both Harry and Ron and pulled them into a bone–breaking hug.
“ I think you’ ve had enough to drink, Hagrid,” said Hermione firmly. She took
the tankard from the table and went outside to empty it.
“ At , maybe she’ s right ,” said Hagrid, let t ing go of Harry and Ron, who both
staggered away, rubbing their ribs. Hagrid heaved himself out of his chair and followed
Hermione unsteadily outside. They heard a loud splash.
“What ’ s he done?” said Harry nervously as Hermione came back in with the
empty tankard.
“Stuck his head in the water barrel,” said Hermione, putting the tankard away.
Hagrid came back, his long hair and beard sopping wet, wiping the water out of
his eyes.
“ That ’ s bet ter,” he said, shaking his head like a dog and drenching them all.
“Listen, it was good of yeh ter come an’ see me, I really –”
Hagrid stopped dead, staring at Harry as though he’ d only j ust realized he was
there.
“WHAT D’YEH THINK YOU’RE DOIN’ , EH?” he roared, so suddenly that they
j umped a foot in the air. “ YEH’RE NOT TO GO WANDERIN’ AROUND AFTER DARK,
HARRY! AN, YOU TWO! LETTIN’ HIM!”
Hagrid strode over to Harry, grabbed his arm, and pulled him to the door.
“ C’mon!” Hagrid said angrily. “ I’m takin’ yer all back up ter school, an’ don’
let me catch yeh walkin’ down ter see me after dark again. I’m not worth that!”
CHAPTER SEVEN – THE BOGGART IN THE WARDROBE
Malfoy didn’ t reappear in classes unt il late on Thursday morning, when the
Slytherins and Gryff indors were halfway through double Pot ions. He swaggered into
the dungeon, his right arm covered in bandages and bound up in a sling, act ing, in
Harry’s opinion, as though he were the heroic survivor of some dreadful battle.
“How is it, Draco?” simpered Pansy Parkinson. “Does it hurt much?”
“ Yeah,” said Malfoy, put t ing on a brave sort of grimace. But Harry saw him
wink at Crabbe and Goyle when Pansy had looked away.
“Settle down, settle down,” said Professor Snape idly.
Harry and Ron scowled at each other; Snape wouldn’ t have said “ set t le down”
if they’ d walked in late, he’ d have given them detent ion. But Malfoy had always been
able to get away with anything in Snape’ s classes; Snape was head of Slytherin House,
and generality favored his own students above all others.
They were making a new pot ion today, a Shrinking Solut ion. Malfoy set up his
cauldron right next to Harry and Ron, so that they were preparing their ingredients on
the same table.
“Sir,” Malfoy called, “sir, I’ll need help cutting up these daisy roots, because of
my arm –”
“Weasley, cut up Malfoy’s roots for him,” said Snape without looking up.
Ron went brick red.
“There’s nothing wrong with your arm,” he hissed at Malfoy.
Malfoy smirked across the table.
“Weasley, you heard Professor Snape; cut up these roots.”
Ron seized his knife, pulled Malfoy’s roots toward him, and began to chop them
roughly, so that they were all different sizes.
“Professor,” drawled Malfoy, “Weasley’s mutilating my roots, sir.”
Snape approached their table, stared down his hooked nose at the roots, then
gave Ron an unpleasant smile from beneath his long, greasy black hair.
“Change roots with Malfoy, Weasley.”
“But, sir –!”
Ron had spent the last quarter of an hour carefully shredding his own roots into
exactly equal pieces.
“Now,” said Snape in his most dangerous voice.
Ron shoved his own beaut ifully cut roots across the table a, Malfoy, then took
up the knife again.
“ And, sir, I’ ll need this shrivelf ig skinned,” said Malfoy, his voice full of
malicious laughter.
“ Pot ter, you can skin Malfoy’ s shrivelfig, ” said Snape, giving Harry the look of
loathing he always reserved just for him.
Harry took Malfoy’ s shrivelfig as Ron began t rying to repair the damage to the
roots he now had to use. Harry skinned the shrivelf ig as fast as he could and f lung it
back across the table at Malfoy without speaking. Malfoy was smirking more broadly
than ever.
“Seen your pal Hagrid lately?” he asked them quietly.
“None of your business,” said Ron jerkily, without looking up.
“ I’m afraid he won’ t be a teacher much longer,” said Malfoy in a tone of mock
sorrow. “Father’s not very happy about my injury –”
“Keep talking, Malfoy, and I’ll give you a real injury,” snarled Ron.
“ – he’ s complained to the school governors. And to the Minist ry of Magic.
Father’ s got a lot of influence, you know. And a last ing inj ury like this” – he gave a
huge, fake sigh – “who knows if my arm’ll ever be the same again?”
“ So that ’ s why you’ re put t ing it on,” said Harry, accidentally beheading a dead
caterpillar because his hand was shaking in anger. “To try to get Hagrid fired.”
“Well,” said Malfoy, lowering his voice to a whisper, “ part ly, Pot ter. But there
are other benefits too. Weasley, slice my caterpillars for me.”
A few cauldrons away, Neville was in t rouble. Neville regularly went to pieces
in Potions lessons; it was his worst subject, and his great fear of Professor Snape made
things ten times worse. His potion, which was supposed to be a bright, acid green, had
turned –
“Orange, Longbottom,” said Snape, ladling some up and allowing to splash back
into the cauldron, so that everyone could see.
“Orange. Tell me, boy, does anything penetrate that thick skull of yours? Didn’t
you hear me say, quite clearly, that only one teaspoon was needed? Didn’ t I state
plainly that a dash of leech j uice would suffice? What do I have to do to make you
understand, Longbottom?”
Neville was pink and t rembling. He looked as though he was on the verge of
tears.
“Please, sir,” said Hermione, “please, I could help Neville put it right –”
“ I don’ t remember asking you to show off, Miss Granger,” said Snape coldly,
and Hermione went as pink as Neville. “ Longbot tom, at the end of this lesson we will
feed a few drops of this pot ion to your toad and see what happens. Perhaps that will
encourage you to do it properly.”
Snape moved away, leaving Neville breathless with fear.
“Help me!” he moaned to Hermione.
“ Hey, Harry,” said Seamus Finnigan, leaning over to borrow Harry’ s brass
scales, “ have you heard? Daily Prophet this morning – they reckon Sirius Black’ s been
sighted.”
“Where?” said Harry and Ron quickly. On the other side of the table, Malfoy
looked up, listening closely.
“ Not too far from here,” said Seamus, who looked excited. “ It was a Muggle
who saw him. ‘Course, she didn’ t really understand. The Muggles think he’ s j ust an
ordinary criminal, don’ t they? So she phoned the telephone hot line. By the t ime the
Ministry of Magic got there, he was gone.”
“ Not too far from here… “ Ron repeated, looking signif icant ly at Harry. He
turned around and saw Malfoy watching closely. “What , Malfoy? Need something else
skinned?”
But Malfoy’ s eyes were shining malevolent ly, and they were fixed Harry. He
leaned across the table. “Black single–handed, Potter?”
“Thinking of trying to catch him?”
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Harry offhandedly.
Malfoys thin mouth was curving in a mean smile.
“Of course, if it was me,” he said quiet ly, “ I’ d have done something before
now. I wouldn’t be staying in school like a good boy, I’d be out there looking for him.”
“What are you talking about, Malfoy?” said Ron roughly.
“Don’t you know, Potter?” breathed Malfoy, his pate eyes narrowed.
“Know what?”
Malfoy let out a low, sneering laugh.
“Maybe you’ d rather not risk your neck,” he said. “Want to leave it to the
Dementors, do you? But if it was me, I’d want revenge. I’d hunt him down myself.”
“What are you talking about?” said Harry angrily, but at that moment Snape
called, “ You should have finished adding your ingredients by now; this pot ion needs to
stew before it can be drunk, so clear away while it simmers and then we’ ll test
Longbottom’s…”
Crabbe and Goyle laughed openly, watching Neville sweat as he st irred his
pot ion feverishly. Hermione was mut tering inst ruct ions to him out of the corner of her
mouth, so that Snape wouldn’ t see. Harry and Ron packed away their unused
ingredients and went to wash their hands and ladles in the stone basin in the corner.
“What did Malfoy mean?” Harry mut tered to Ron as he stuck his hands under
the icy j et that poured from the gargoyle’ s mouth “Why would I want revenge on
Black? He hasn’t done anything to me – yet.”
“ He’ s making it up,” said Ron savagely. “ He’ s t rying to make you do something
stupid….”
The end of the lesson in sight , Snape st rode over to Neville, who was cowering
by his cauldron.
“ Everyone gather ‘ round,” said Snape, his black eyes glit tering, and watch
what happens to Longbot tom’ s toad. If he has managed to produce a Shrinking
Solution, it will shrink to a tadpole. If, as I don’t doubt, he has done it wrong, his toad
is likely to be poisoned.”
The Gryffindors watched fearfully. The Slytherins looked excited. Snape picked
up Trevor the toad in his left hand and dipped a small spoon into Neville’ s pot ion,
which was now green. He trickled a few drops down Trevor’s throat.
There was a moment of hushed silence, in which Trevor gulped; then there was
a small pop, and Trevor the tadpole was wriggling in Snape’ s palm. The Gryffindors
burst into applause. Snape, looking sour, pulled a small bot t le from the pocket of his
robe, poured a few drops on top of Trevor, and he reappeared suddenly, fully grown.
“ Five points from Gryffindor,” said Snape, which wiped the smiles f rom every
face. “I told you not to help him, Miss Granger. Class dismissed.”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione climbed the steps to the ent rance hall. Harry was
still thinking about what Malfoy had said, while Ron was seething about Snape.
“ Five points from Gryf findor because the pot ion was all right ! Why didn’ t you
lie, Hermione? You should’ve said Neville did it all by himself!”
Hermione didn’t answer. Ron looked around.
“Where is she?”
Harry turned too. They were at the top of the steps now, watching the rest of
the class pass them, heading for the Great Hall and lunch.
“She was right behind us,” said Ron, frowning.
Malfoy passed them, walking between Crabbe and Goyle. He smirked at Harry
and disappeared.
“There she is,” said Harry.
Hermione was pant ing slight ly, hurrying up the stairs; one hand clutched her
bag, the other seemed to be tucking something down the front of her robes.
“How did you do that?” said Ron.
“What?” said Hermione, joining them.
“One minute you were right behind us, the next moment , you were back at the
bottom of the stairs again.”
“What?” Hermione looked slight ly confused. “Oh – I had to go back for
something. Oh, no –”
A seam had split on Hermione’ s bag. Harry wasn’ t surprised; he could see that
it was crammed with at least a dozen large and heavy books.
“Why are you carrying all these around with you?” Ron asked her.
“ You know how many subj ects I’m taking,” said Hermione breathlessly.
“Couldn’t hold these for me, could you?”
“But –” Ron was turning over the books she had handed him, looking at the
covers. “You havent got any of these subjects today. It’s only Defense Against the Dark
Arts this afternoon.”
“Oh yes,” said Hermione vaguely, but she packed all the books back into her
bag j ust the same. I hope there’ s something good for lunch, I’m starving,” she added,
and she marched off toward the Great Hall.
“D’you get the feeling Hermione’s not telling us something?” Ron asked Harry.
Professor Lupin wasn’ t there when they arrived at his first Defense Against the
Dark Arts lesson. They all sat down, took out their books, quills, and parchment , and
were talking when he finally entered the room. Lupin smiled vaguely and placed his
tat ty old briefcase on the teacher’ s desk. He was as shabby as ever but looked
healthier than he had on the train, as though he had had a few square meals.
“Good afternoon,” he said. “Would you please put all your books back in your
bags. Today’s will be a practical lesson. You will need only your wands.”
A few curious looks were exchanged as the class put away their books. They
had never had a pract ical Defense Against the Dark Arts before, unless you counted
the memorable class last year when their old teacher had brought a cageful of pixies –
to class and set them loose.
“ Right then,” said Professor Lupin, when everyone was ready. “ If you’ d follow
me.”
Puzzled but interested, the class got to its feet and followed Professor Lupin
out of the classroom. He led them along the deserted corridor and around a corner,
where the f irst thing they saw was Peeves the Poltergeist , who was float ing upside
down in midair and stuffing the nearest keyhole with chewing gum.
Peeves didn’ t look up unt il Professor Lupin was two feet away; then he wiggled
his curly–toed feet and broke into song.
“Loony, loopy Lupin,” Peeves sang. “Loony, loopy Lupin, loony, loopy Lupin –”
Rude and unmanageable as he almost always was, Peeves usually showed some
respect toward the teachers. Everyone looked quickly at Professor Lupin to see how he
would take this; to their surprise, he was still smiling.
“ I’ d take that gum out of the keyhole if I were you, Peeves,” he said
pleasantly. “Mr. Filch won’t be able to get in to his brooms.”
Filch was the Hogwarts caretaker, a bad–tempered, failed wizard who waged a
constant war against the students and, indeed, Peeves. However, Peeves paid no
at tent ion to Professor Lupin’ s words, except to blow a loud wet raspberry. Professor
Lupin gave a small sigh and took out his wand.
“ This is a useful lit t le spell, he told the class over his shoulder. “ Please watch
closely.”
He raised the wand to shoulder height , said, “ Waddiwasi!” and pointed it at
Peeves. With the force of a bullet , the wad of chewing gum shot out of the keyhole
and straight down Peeves’s left nostril; he whirled upright and zoomed away, cursing.
“Cool, sir!” said Dean Thomas in amazement.
“ Thank you, Dean,” said Professor Lupin, put t ing his wand away again. “ Shall
we proceed?”
They set of f again, the class looking at shabby Professor Lupin with increased
respect . He led them down a second corridor and stopped, right outside the staf froom
door.
“Inside, please,” said Professor Lupin, opening it and standing back.
The staffroom, a long, paneled room full of old, mismatched chairs, was empty
except for one teacher. Professor Snape was sit t ing in a low armchair, and he looked
around as the class f iled in. His eyes were glit tering and there was a nasty sneer
playing around his mouth. As Professor Lupin came in and made to close the door
behind him, Snape said, “Leave it open, Lupin. I’d rather not witness this.”
He got to his feet and st rode past the class, his black robes billowing behind
him. At the doorway he turned on his heel and said, “ Possibly no one’ s warned you,
Lupin, but this class contains Neville Longbot tom. I would advise you not to ent rust
him with anything difficult. Not unless Miss Granger is hissing instructions in his ear.”
Neville went scarlet . Harry glared at Snape; it was bad enough that he bullied
Neville in his own classes, let alone doing it in front of other teachers.
Professor Lupin had raised his eyebrows.
“ I was hoping that Neville would assist me with the first stage of the
operation,” he said, “and I am sure he will perform it admirably.”
Neville’ s face went , if possible, even redder. Snape’ s lip curled, but he left ,
shutting the door with a snap.
“ Now, then,” said Professor Lupin, beckoning the class toward the end of the
room, where there was nothing but an old wardrobe where the teachers kept their
spare robes. As Professor Lupin went to stand next to it , the wardrobe gave a sudden
wobble, banging off the wall.
“ Nothing to worry about ,” said Professor Lupin calmly because a few people
had jumped backward in alarm. “There’s a Boggart in there.”
Most people seemed to feel that this was something to worry about . Neville
gave Professor Lupin a look of pure terror, and Seamus Finnigan eyed the now rat t ling
doorknob apprehensively.
“ Boggarts like dark, enclosed spaces,” said Professor Lupin. “Wardrobes, the
gap beneath beds, the cupboards under sinks – I’ ve even met one that had lodged
itself in a grandfather clock. This one moved in yesterday afternoon, and I asked the
headmaster if the staff would leave it to give my third years some practice.
“So, the first question we must ask ourselves is, what is a Boggart?”
Hermione put up her hand.
“ It ’ s a shape–shifter,” she said. “ It can take the shape of whatever it thinks
will frighten us most.”
“ Couldn’ t have put it bet ter myself,” said Professor Lupin, and Hermione
glowed. “ So the Boggart sit t ing in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He
does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody
knows what a Boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out , he will
immediately become whatever each of us most fears.
“ This means,” said Professor Lupin, choosing to ignore Neville’ s small sput ter
of terror, “that we have a huge advantage over the Boggart before we begin. Have you
spotted it, Harry?”
Trying to answer a quest ion with Hermione next to him, bobbing up and down
on the balls of her feet with her hand in the air, was very off–put t ing, but Harry had a
go.
“Er – because there are so many of us, it won’t know what shape it should be?”
“ Precisely,” said Professor Lupin, and Hermione put her hand down, looking a
lit t le disappointed. “ It ’ s always best to have company when you’ re dealing with a
Boggart . He becomes confused. Which should he become, a headless corpse or a flesh–
eating slug? I once saw a Boggart make that very mistake – tried to frighten two people
at once and turned himself into half a slug. Not remotely frightening.
“ The charm that repels a Boggart is simple, yet it requires force of mind. You
see, the thing that really finishes a Boggart is laughter. What you need to do is force it
to assume a shape that you find amusing.
“We will pract ice the charm without wands f irst . After me, please …
Riddikulus!”
“ Riddikulus!” said the class together.
“Good,” said Professor Lupin. “ Very good. But that was the easy part , I’m
afraid. You see, the word alone is not enough. And this is where you come in, Neville.”
The wardrobe shook again, though not as much as Neville, who walked forward
as though he were heading for the gallows.
“ Right , Neville,” said Professor Lupin. “ First things first : what would you say is
the thing that frightens you most in the world?”
Neville’s lips moved, but no noise came out.
“ Didn’ t catch that , Neville, sorry,” said Professor Lupin cheerfully. Neville
looked around rather wildly, as though begging someone to help him, then said, in
barely more than a whisper, “Professor Snape.”
Nearly everyone laughed. Even Neville grinned apologet ically. Professor Lupin,
however, looked thoughtful.
“ Professor Snape… hmmm… Neville, I believe you live with your
grandmother?”
“Er – yes,” said Neville nervously. “ But – I don’ t want the Boggart to turn into
her either.”
“ No, no, you misunderstand me,” said Professor Lupin, now smiling. “ I wonder,
could you tell us what sort of clothes your grandmother usually wears?”
Neville looked start led, but said, “Well… always the same hat . A tall one with
a stuffed vulture on top. And a long dress… green, normally… and somet imes a fox–
fur scarf.”
“And a handbag?” prompted Professor Lupin.
“A big red one,” said Neville.
“ Right then,” said Professor Lupin. “ Can you picture those clothes very clearly,
Neville? Can you see them in your mind’s eye?”
“Yes,” said Neville uncertainty, plainly wondering what was coming next.
“When the Boggart bursts out of this wardrobe, Neville, and sees You, it will
assume the form of Professor Snape,” said Lupin. “ And you will raise your wand – thus
– and cry ‘Riddikulus’ – and concentrate hard on your grandmother’s clothes. If all goes
well, Professor Boggart Snape will be forced into that vulture–topped hat , and that
green dress, with that big red handbag.”
There was a great shout of laughter. The wardrobe wobbled more violently.
“ If Neville is successful, the Boggart is likely to shift his at tent ion to each of us
in turn,” said Professor Lupin. “ I would like all of you to take a moment now to think
of the thing that scares you most , and imagine how you might force it to look
comical….”
The room went quiet. Harry thought… ‘What scared him most in the world?
His first thought was Lord Voldemort – a Voldemort returned to full st rength.
But before he had even started to plan a possible counterat tack on a Boggart–
Voldemort, a horrible image came floating to the surface of his mind….
A rot t ing, glistening hand, slithering back beneath a black cloak … a long,
rat t ling breath from an unseen mouth… then a cold so penet rat ing it felt like
drowning…. Harry shivered, then looked around, hoping no one had not iced. Many
people had their eyes shut t ight . Ron was mut tering to himself , “ Take its legs off “
Harry was sure he knew what that was about. Ron’s greatest fear was spiders.
“Everyone ready?” said Professor Lupin.
Harry felt a lurch of fear. He wasn’ t ready. How could you make a Dementor
less frightening? But he didn’ t want to ask for more t ime; everyone else was nodding
and rolling up their sleeves.
“ Neville, we’ re going to back away,” said Professor Lupin. “ Let you have a
clear field, all right? I’ ll call the next person forward.. .. Everyone back, now, so
Neville can get a clear shot –”
They all ret reated, backed against the walls, leaving Neville alone beside the
wardrobe. He looked pale and frightened, but he had pushed up the sleeves of his
robes and was holding his wand ready.
“On the count of three, Neville,” said Professor Lupin, who was point ing his
own wand at the handle of the wardrobe. “One two – three – now!”
A j et of sparks shot from the end of Professor Lupin’ s wand and hit the
doorknob. The wardrobe burst open. Hook–nosed and menacing, Professor Snape
stepped out , his eyes flashing at Neville. Neville backed away, his wand up, mouthing
wordlessly. Snape was bearing down upon him, reaching inside his robes.
“R – r – riddikulus!” squeaked Neville.
There was a noise like a whip crack. Snape stumbled; he was wearing a long,
lace–t rimmed dress and a towering hat topped with a moth–eaten vulture, and he was
swinging a huge crimson handbag.
There was a roar of laughter; the Boggart paused, confused, and Professor
Lupin shouted, “Parvati! Forward!”
Parvati walked forward, her face set. Snape rounded on her. There was another
crack, and where he had stood was a bloodstained, bandaged mummy; its sightless
face was turned to Parvat i and it began to walk toward her very slowly, dragging its
feet, its stiff arms rising –
“ Riddikulus!” cried Parvati.
A bandage unraveled at the mummy’ s feet ; it became entangled, fell face
forward, and its head rolled off.
“Seamus!” roared Professor Lupin.
Seamus darted past Parvat i. Crack! Where the mummy had been was a woman
with f loorlength black hair and a skeletal, green–t inged face – a banshee. She opened
her mouth wide and an unearthly sound filled the room, a long, wailing shriek that
made the hair on Harry’s head stand on end – “Riddikulus!” shouted Seamus.
The banshee made a rasping noise and clutched her throat; her voice was gone.
Crack! The banshee turned into a rat , which chased its tail in a circle, then – crack! –
became a rat t lesnake, which slithered and writhed before – crack! – becoming a
single, bloody eyeball.
‘It’s confused!” shouted Lupin. “We’re getting there! Dean!”
Dean hurried forward.
Crack! The eyeball became a severed hand, which f lipped over and began to
creep along the floor like a crab.
“ Riddikulus!” yelled Dean.
‘There was a snap, and the hand was trapped in a mousetrap.
“Excellent! Ron, you next!”
Ron leapt forward.
Crack!
Quite a few people screamed. A giant spider, six feet tall and covered in hair,
was advancing on Ron, clicking its pincers menacingly. For a moment , Harry thought
Ron had frozen. Then –
“ Riddikulus!” bellowed Ron, and the spider’ s legs vanished; it rolled over and
over; Lavender Brown squealed and ran out of its way and it came to a halt at Harry’ s
feet. He raised his wand, ready, but –
“ Here!” shouted Professor Lupin suddenly, hurrying forward. Crack! The legless
spider had vanished. For a second, everyone looked wildly around to see where it was.
Then they saw a silvery–white orb hanging in the air in front of Lupin, who said,
“ Riddikulus!” almost lazily.
Crack!
“ Forward, Neville, and finish him off!” said Lupin as the Boggart landed on the
floor as a cockroach. Crack! Snape was back. This t ime Neville charged forward
looking determined.
“ Riddikulus!” he shouted, and they had a split second’ s view of Snape in his
lacy dress before Neville let out a great “ Ha!” of laughter, and the Boggart exploded,
burst into a thousand tiny wisps of smoke, and was gone.
“ Excellent !” cried Professor Lupin as the class broke into applause. “ Excellent )
Neville. Well done, everyone…. Let me see… five points to Gryffindor for every
person to tackle the Boggart – ten for Neville because he did it twice… and five each
to Hermione and Harry.”
“But I didn’t do anything,” said Harry.
“ You and Hermione answered my quest ions correct ly at the start of the class,
Harry,” Lupin said light ly. “ Very well, everyone, an excellent lesson. Homework,
kindly read the chapter on Boggarts and summarize it for me… to be handed in on
Monday. That will be all.”
Talking excitedly, the class left the staffroom. Harry, however, wasn’ t feeling
cheerful. Professor Lupin had deliberately stopped him from tackling the Boggart .
Why?Was it because he’ d seen Harry collapse on the t rain, and thought he wasn’ t up
to much? Had he thought Harry would pass out again?
But no one else seemed to have noticed anything.
“ Did you see me take that banshee?” shouted Seamus. “ And the hand!” said
Dean, waving his own around. “And Snape in that hat!” “And my mummy!”
I wonder why Professor Lupin’ s f rightened of crystal balls?” said Lavender
thoughtfully.
“ That was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson we’ ve ever had,
wasn’ t it?” said Ron excitedly as they made their way back to the classroom to get
their bags.
“ He seems like a very good teacher,” said Hermione approvingly. “ But I wish I
could have had a turn with the Boggart –”
“What would it have been for you?” said Ron, sniggering. “A piece of homework
that only got nine out of ten?”
CHAPTER EIGHT – FLIGHT OF THE FAT LADY
In no t ime at all, Defense Against the Dark Arts had become most people’ s
favorite class. Only Draco Malfoy and his gang of Slytherins had anything bad to say
about Professor Lupin.
“ Look at the state of his robes,” Malfoy would say in a loud whisper as
Professor Lupin passed. “He dresses like our old house-elf “
But no one else cared that Professor Lupin’ s robes were patched and frayed.
His next few lessons were j ust as interest ing as the first . After Boggarts, they studied
Red Caps, nasty lit t le goblin like creatures that lurked wherever there had been
bloodshed: in the dungeons of cast les and the potholes of deserted bat t lef ields,
wait ing to bludgeon those who had got ten lost . From Red Caps they moved on to
Kappas, creepy. water–dwellers that looked like scaly monkeys, with webbed hands
itching to st rangle unwit t ing waders in their ponds. Harry only wished he were as
happy with some of his other classes. Worst of all was Pot ions. Snape was in a
part icularly vindict ive mood these days, and no one was in any doubt why. The story
of the Boggart assuming Snape’ s shape, and the way that Neville had dressed it in his
grandmother’ s clothes, had t raveled through the school like wildf ire. Snape didn’ t
seem to f ind it funny. His eyes flashed menacingly at the very ment ion of Professor
Lupin’s name, and he was bullying Neville worse than ever.
Harry was also growing to dread the hours he spent in Professor Trelawney’ s
st ifling tower room, deciphering lopsided shapes and symbols, t rying to ignore the way
Professor Trelawney’ s enormous eyes filled with tears every t ime she looked at him.
He couldn’ t like Professer Trelawney, even though she was t reated with respect
bordering on reverence by many of the class. Parvat i Pat il and Lavender Brown had
taken to haunt ing Professor Trelawney’ s tower room at lunch t imes, and always
returned with annoyingly superior looks on their faces, as though they knew things the
others didn’ t . They had also started using hushed voices whenever they spoke to
Harry, as though he were on his deathbed.
Nobody really liked Care of Magical Creatures, which, after the act ion–packed
first class, had become ext remely dull. Hagrid seemed to have lost his confidence.
They were now spending lesson after lesson learning how to look after flobberworms,
which had to be some of the most boring creatures in existence.
“Why would anyone bother looking after them?” said Ron, after yet another
hour of poking shredded lettuce down the flobberworms’ throats.
At the start of October, however, Harry had something else to occupy him,
something so enj oyable it more than made up for his unsat isfactory classes. The
Quidditch season was approaching, and O1iver Wood, Captain of the Gryffindor team,
called a meeting on Thursday evening to discuss tactics for the new season.
There were seven people on a Quidditch team: three Chasers, whose j ob it was
to score goals by putting the Quaffle (a red, soccer–sized ball) through one of the fifty–
foot–high hoops at each end of the field; two Beaters, who were equipped with heavy
bats to repel the Bludgers (two heavy black balls that zoomed around t rying to at tack
the players); a Keeper, who defended the goal posts, and the Seeker, who had the
hardest j ob of all, that of catching the Golden Snitch, a t iny, winged, walnut–sized
ball, whose capture ended the game and earned the Seeker’ s team an ext ra one
hundred and fifty points.
Oliver Wood was a burly seventeen–year–old, now in his seventh and final year
at Hogwarts. There was a quiet sort of desperat ion in his voice as he addressed his six
fellow team members in the chilly locker rooms on the edge of the darkening
Quidditch field.
“ This is our last chance –my last chance – to win the Quidditch Cup,” he told
them, st riding up and down in front of them. “ I’ ll be leaving at the end of this year.
I’ll never get another shot at it.”
“Gryff indor hasn’ t won for seven years now. Okay, so we’ ve had the worst luck
in the world – inj uries – then the tournament get t ing called off last year Wood
swallowed, as though the memory st ill brought a lump to his throat . “ But we also
know we’ ve got the best–ruddy–team–in–the–school,” he said, punching a fist into his
other hand, the old manic glint back in his eye. “We’ve got three superb Chasers.”
Wood pointed at Alicia Spinner, Angelina Johnson, and Katie Bell.
“We’ve got two unbeatable Beaters.”
“ Stop it Oliver, you’ re embarrassing us,” said Fred and George Weasley
together, pretending to blush.
“ And we’ ve got a Seeker who has never failed to win us a match!” Wood
rumbled, glaring at Harry with a kind of furious pride. “ And me,” he added as an
afterthought.
“We think you’re very good too, Oliver,” said George.
“Spanking good Keeper,” said Fred.
“ The point is,” Wood went on, resuming his pacing, “ the Quidditch Cup should
have had our name on it these last two years. Ever since Harry j oined the team, I’ ve
thought the thing was in the bag. But we haven’t got it, and this year’s the last chance
we’ll get to finally see our name on the thing….”
Wood spoke so dejectedly that even Fred and George looked sympathetic.
“Oliver, this year’s our year,” said Fred.
“We’ll do it, Oliver!” said Angelina.
“Definitely,” said Harry.
Full of determinat ion, the team started t raining sessions, three evenings a
week. The weather was get t ing colder and wet ter, the nights darker, but no amount
of mud, wind, or rain could tarnish Harry’ s wonderful vision of finally winning the
huge, silver Quidditch Cup.
Harry returned to the Gryffindor common room one evening after t raining, cold
and st iff but pleased with the way pract ice had gone, to find the room buzzing
excitedly.
“What ’ s happened?” , he asked Ron and Hermione, who were sit t ing in two of
the best chairs by the fireside and completing some star charts for Astronomy.
“ First Hogsmeade weekend,” said Ron, point ing at a not ice that had appeared
on the battered old bulletin board. “End of October. Halloween.”
“ Excellent ,” said Fred, who had followed Harry through the port rait hole. “ I
need to visit Zonko’s. I’m nearly out of Stink Pellets.”
Harry threw himself into a chair beside Ron, his high spirits ebbing away.
Hermione seemed to read his mind.
“ Harry, I’m sure you’ ll be able to go next t ime,” she said. “ They’ re bound to
catch Black soon. He’s been sighted once already.”
“ Black’ s not fool enough to t ry anything in Hogsmeade,” said Ron. “ Ask
McGonagall if you can go this time, Harry. The next one might not be for ages –”
“Ron!” said Hermione. “Harry’s supposed to stay in school–”
“ He can’ t be the only third year left behind,” said Ron. “ Ask McGonagall, go
on, Harry –”
“Yeah, I think I will,” said Harry, making up his mind.
Hermione opened her mouth to argue, but at that moment Crookshanks leapt
lightly onto her lap. A large, dead spider was dangling from his mouth.
“Does he have to eat that in front of us?” said Ron, scowling.
“Clever Crookshanks, did you catch that all by yourself?” said Hermione.
Crookshanks; slowly chewed up the spider, his yellow eyes fixed insolent ly on
Ron.
“ Just keep him over there, that ’ s all,” said Ron irritably, turning back to his
star chart. “1’ve got Scabbers asleep in my bag.”
Harry yawned. He really wanted to go to bed, but he st ill had his own star
chart to complete. He pulled his bag toward him, took out parchment , ink, and quill,
and started work.
“ You can copy mine, if you like,” said Ron, labeling his last star with a flourish
and shoving the chart toward Harry.
Hermione, who disapproved of copying, pursed her lips but didn’ t say anything.
Crookshanks was st ill staring unblinkingly at Ron, flicking the end of his bushy tail.
Then, without warning, he pounced.
“OY!” Ron roared, seizing his bag as Crookshanks sank four sets of claws deep
inside it and began tearing ferociously. “GET OFF, YOU STUPID ANIMAL!”
Ron t ried to pull the bag away from Crookshanks, but Crookshanks clung on,
spitting and slashing.
“ Ron, don’ t hurt him!” squealed Hermione; the whole common room was
watching; Ron whirled the bag around, Crookshanks st ill clinging to it , and Scabbers
came flying out of the top –
“ CATCH THAT CAT!’ Ron yelled as Crookshanks freed himself from the
remnants of the bag, sprang over the table, and chased after the terrified Scabbers.
George Weasley made a lunge for Crookshanks but missed; Scabbers st reaked
through twenty pairs of legs and shot beneath an old chest of drawers. Crookshanks
skidded to a halt , crouched low on his bandy legs, and started making furious swipes
beneath it with his front paw.
Ron and Hermione hurried over; Hermione grabbed Crookshanks around the
middle and heaved him away; Ron threw himself onto his stomach and, with great
difficulty, pulled Scabbers out by the tail.
“Look at him!” he said furiously to Hermione, dangling Scabbers in front of her.
“He’s skin and bone! You keep that cat away from him!”
“ Crookshanks doesn’ t understand it ’ s wrong!” said Hermione, her voice
shaking. “All cats chase rats, Ron!”
“ There’ s something funny about that animal!” said Ron, who was t rying to
persuade a frant ically wiggling Scabbers back into his pocket . “ It heard me say that
Scabbers was in my bag!”
“Oh, what rubbish,” said Hermione impat ient ly. “ Crookshanks could smell him,
Ron, how else d’you think –”
“That cat ’ s got it in for Scabbers!” said Ron, “ ignoring the people around him,
who were starting to giggle. “And Scabbers was here first, and he’s ill!”
Ron marched through the common room and out of sight up the stairs to the
boys’ dormitories. Ron was st ill in a bad mood with Hermione next day. He barely
talked to her all through Herbology, even though he, Harry, and Hermione were
working together on the same puffapod.
“ How’ s Scabbers?” Hermione asked t imidly as they st ripped fat pink pods from
the plants and emptied the shining beans into a wooden pail.
“ He’ s hiding at the bot tom of my bed, shaking, “ said Ron angrily, missing the
pail and scattering beans over the greenhouse floor.
“ Careful, Weasley, careful!” cried Professor Sprout as the beans burst into
bloom before their very eyes.
They had Transfigurat ion next . Harry, who had resolved to ask Professor
McGonagall after the lesson whether he could go into Hogsmeade with the rest , j oined
the line out side the class t rying to decide how he was going to argue his case. He was
distracted, however, by a disturbance at the front of the line.
Lavender Brown seemed to be crying. Parvat i had her arm around her and was
explaining something to Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, who were looking very
serious.
“What ’ s the mat ter, Lavender?” said Hermione anxiously as she, Harry, and
Ron went to join the group.
“ She got a let ter from home this morning,” Parvat i whispered. “ It ’ s her rabbit ,
Binky. He’s been killed by a fox.”
“Oh,” said Hermione, “I’m sorry, Lavender.”
“I should have known!” said Lavender tragically. “You know what day it is?”
“Er –”
“ The sixteenth of October! ‘That thing you’ re dreading, it will happen on the
sixteenth of October!’ Remember? She was right, she was right!”
The whole class was gathered around Lavender now. Seamus shook his head
seriously. Hermione hesitated; then she said, “ You – you were dreading Binky being
killed by a fox?”
“Well, not necessarily by a fox,” said Lavender, looking up at Hermione with
streaming eyes, “but I was obviously dreading him dying, wasn’t I?”
“Oh,” said Hermione. She paused again.
“Was Binky an old rabbit?”
“N – no!” sobbed Lavender. “H – he was only a baby!”
Parvati tightened her arm around Lavender’s shoulders.
“But then, why would you dread him dying?” said Hermione.
Parvati glared at her.
“Well, look at it logically,” said Hermione, turning to the rest of the group– “ I
mean, Binky didn’ t even die today, did he? Lavender j ust got the news today–”
Lavender wailed loudly. “– and she can’t have been dreading it, because it’s come as a
real shock –”
“ Don’ t mind Hermione, Lavender,” said Ron loudly, “ she doesn’ t think other
people’s pets matter very much.”
Professor McGonagall opened the classroom door at that moment , which was
perhaps lucky; Hermione and Ron were looking daggers at each other, and when they
got into class, they seated themselves on either side of Harry and didn’ t talk to each
other for the whole class.
Harry st ill hadn’ t decided what he was going to say to Professor McGonagall
when the bell rang at the end of the lesson, but it was she who brought up the subject
of Hogsmeade first.
“One moment , please!” she called as the class made to leave. “ As you’ re all in
my House, you should hand Hogsmeade permission forms to me before Halloween. No
form, no visiting the village, so don’t forget!”
Neville put up his hand.
“Please, Professor, I – I think I’ve lost my form.”
“ Your grandmother sent yours to me direct ly, Longbot tom,” said Professor
McGonagall. “She seemed to think it was safer. Well, that’s all, you may leave.”
“Ask her now,” Ron hissed at Harry.
“Oh, but –” Hermione began.
“Go for it, Harry,” said Ron stubbornly.
Harry waited for the rest of the class to disappear, then headed nervously for
Professor McGonagall’s desk.
“Yes, Potter?” Harry took a deep breath.
“Professor, my aunt and uncle – er – forgot to sign my form,” he said.
Professor McGonagall looked over her square spectacles at him but didn’ t say
anything.
“So – er d’ you think it would be all right mean, will It be okay if I – if I go to
Hogsmeade?”
Professor McGonagall looked down and began shuffling papers on her desk.
“ I’m afraid not , Pot ter,” she said. “ You heard what I said. No form, no visit ing
the village. That’s the rule.”
“But – Professor, my aunt and uncle – you know, they’ re Muggles, they don’ t
really understand about – about Hogwarts forms and stuff,” Harry said, while Ron
egged him on with vigorous nods. “If you said I could go –”
“ But I don’ t say so,” said Professor McGonagall, standing up and piling her
papers neatly into a drawer. “The form clearly states that the parent or guardian must
give permission.” She turned to look at him, with an odd expression on her face. Was
it pity? “ I’m sorry, Pot ter, but that ’ s my final word. You had bet ter hurry, or you’ ll be
late for your next lesson.”
There was nothing to be done. Ron called Professor McGonagall a lot of names
that great ly annoyed Hermione; Hermione assumed an “ all–for–the–best ” expression
that made Ron even angrier, and Harry had to endure everyone in the class talking
loudly and happily about what they were going to do first , once they got into
Hogsmeade.
“ There’ s always the feast ,” said Ron, in an effort to cheer Harry up. “ You
know, the Halloween feast, in the evening.”
“Yeah,” said Harry gloomily, “great.”
The Halloween feast was always good, but it would taste a lot bet ter if he was
coming to it after a day in Hogsmeade with everyone else. Nothing anyone said made
him feel any bet ter about being lef t behind. Dean Thomas, who was good with a quill,
had offered to forge Uncle Vernon’ s signature on the form, but as Harry had already
told Professor McGonagall he hadn’ t had it signed, that was no good. Ron
halfheartedly suggested the Invisibility Cloak, but Hermione stamped on that one,
reminding Ron what Dumbledore had told them about the Dementors being able to see
through them. Percy had what were possibly the least helpful words of comfort.
“ They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it ’ s not all it ’ s
cracked up to be,” he said seriously. “ All right , the sweetshop’ s rather good, and
Zonko’ s Joke Shop’ s frankly dangerous, and yes, the Shrieking Shack’ s always worth a
visit, but really, Harry, apart from that, you’re not missing anything.”
On Halloween morning, Harry awoke with the rest and went down to breakfast,
feeling thoroughly depressed, though doing his best to act normally.
“We’ ll bring you lots of sweets back from Honeydukes,” said Hermione, looking
desperately sorry for him.
“ Yeah, loads,” said Ron. He and Hermione had finally forgot ten their squabble
about Crookshanks in the face of Harry’s difficulties.
“ Don’ t worry about me,” said Harry, in what he hoped was at , offhand voice,
“I’ll see you at the feast. Have a good time.”
He accompanied them to the ent rance hall, where Filch, the caretaker, was
standing inside the front doors, checking off names against a long list , peering
suspiciously into every face, and making sure that no one was sneaking out who
shouldn’t be going.
“ Staying here, Pot ter?” shouted Malfoy, who was standing in line with Crabbe
and Goyle. “Scared of passing the Dementors?”
Harry ignored him and made his solitary way up the marble staircase, through
the deserted corridors, and back to Gryffindor Tower.
“Password?” said the Fat Lady, jerking out of a doze.
“Fortuna Major,” said Harry listlessly.
The port rait swung open and he climbed through the hole into the common
room. It was full of chat tering first and second years, and a few older students, who
had obviously visited Hogsmeade so often the novelty had worn off
“Harry! Harry! Hi, Harry!”
It was Colin Creevey, a second year who was deeply in awe of Harry and never
missed an opportunity to speak to him.
“ Aren’ t you going to Hogsmeade, Harry?Why not? Hey” – Colin looked eagerly
around at his friends – “you can come and sit with us, if you like, Harry!”
“Er – no, thanks, Colin,” said Harry, who wasn’ t in the mood to have a lot of
people staring avidly at the scar on his forehead. “ I – I’ ve got to go to the library, got
to get some work done.”
After that , he had no choice but to turn right around and head back out of the
portrait hole again.
“What was the point waking me up?” the Fat Lady called grumpily after him as
he walked away.
Harry wandered dispiritedly toward the library, but halfway there he changed
his mind; he didn’ t feel like working. He turned around and came face–to–face with
Filch, who had obviously just seen off the last of the Hogsmeade visitors.
“What are you doing?” Filch snarled suspiciously.
“Nothing,” said Harry truthfully.
“ Nothing!” spat Filch, his j owls quivering unpleasant ly. “ A likely story!
Sneaking around on your own –why aren’ t you in Hogsmeade buying St ink Pellets and
Belch Powder and Whizzing Worms like the rest of your nasty little friends?”
Harry shrugged.
“Well, get back to your common room where you belong!” snapped Filch, and
he stood glaring until Harry had passed out of sight.
But Harry didn’ t go back to the common room; he climbed a staircase, thinking
vaguely of visit ing the Owlery to see Hedwig, and was walking along another corridor
when a voice from inside one of the rooms said, “Harry?”
Harry doubled back to see who had spoken and met Professor Lupin, looking
around his office door.
“What are you doing?” said Lupin, though in a very different voice from Filch.
“Where are Ron and Hermione?”
“Hogsmeade,” said Harry, in a would–be casual voice.
“ Ah,” said Lupin. He considered Harry for a moment . “Why don’ t you come in?
I’ve just taken delivery of a Grindylow for our next lesson.”
“A what?” said Harry.
He followed Lupin into his office. In the corner stood a very large tank of
water. A sickly green creature with sharp lit t le horns had its face pressed against the
glass, pulling faces and flexing its long, spindly fingers.
“Water demon,” said Lupin, surveying the Grindylow thought fully. “We
shouldn’t have much difficulty with him, not after the Kappas. The trick is to break his
grip. You notice the abnormally long fingers? Strong, but very brittle.”
The Grindylow bared its green teeth and then buried itself in a tangle of weeds
in a corner.
“ Cup of tea?” Lupin said, looking around for his ket t le. “ I was j ust thinking of
making one.”
“All right,” said Harry awkwardly.
Lupin tapped the ket t le with his wand and a blast of steam issued suddenly
from the spout.
“ Sit down,” said Lupin, taking the lid off a dusty t in. “ I’ ve only got teabags,
I’m afraid – but I daresay you’ve had enough of tea leaves?”
Harry looked at him. Lupin’s eyes were twinkling.
“How did you know about that?” Harry asked.
“ Professor McGonagall told me,” said Lupin, passing Harry a chipped mug of
tea. “You’re not worried, are you?”
“No,” said Harry.
He thought for a moment of telling Lupin about the dog he’ d seen in Magnolia
Crescent but decided not to. He didn’ t want Lupin to think he was a coward,
especially since Lupin alreadv seemed to think he couldn’t cope with a Boggart.
Something of Harry’ s thoughts seemed to have shown on his face, because
Lupin said, “Anything worrying you, Harry?”
“ No,” Harry lied. He drank a bit of tea and watched the Grindylow brandishing
a fist at him. “ Yes,” he said suddenly, put t ing his tea down on Lupin’ s desk. “ You
know that day we fought the Boggart?”
“Yes,” said Lupin slowly.
“Why didn’t you let me fight it?” said Harry abruptly.
Lupin raised his eyebrows.
“I would have thought that was obvious, Harry,” he said, sounding surprised.
Harry, who had expected Lupin to deny that he’ d done any such thing, was
taken aback.
“Why?” he said again.
“Well,” said Lupin, f rowning slight ly, “ I assumed that if the Boggart faced you,
it would assume the shape of Lord Voldemort.”
Harry stared. Not only was this the last answer he’ d expected, but Lupin had
said Voldemort ’ s name. The only person Harry had ever heard saying the name aloud
(apart from himself) was Professor Dumbledore.
“ Clearly, I was wrong,” said Lupin, st ill f rowning at Harry. “ But I didn’ t think it
a good idea for Lord Voldemort to materialize in the staffroom. I imagined that people
would panic.”
“ I didn’ t think of Voldemort ,” said Harry honest ly. “ I – I remembered those
Dementors.”
“ I see,” said Lupin thought fully. “Well, well… I’m impressed.” Fie smiled
slight ly at the look of surprise on Harry’ s face. “ That suggests that what you fear most
of all is – fear. Very wise, Harry.”
Harry didn’t know what to say to that, so he drank some more tea.
“ So you’ ve been thinking that I didn’ t believe you capable of fight ing the
Boggart?” said Lupin shrewdly.
“Well… yeah,” said Harry. He was suddenly feeling a lot happier. “ Professor
Lupin, you know the Dementors –”
He was interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Come in,” called Lupin.
The door opened, and in came Snape. He was carrying a goblet , which was
smoking faintly, and stopped at the sight of Harry, his black eyes narrowing.
“ Ah, Severus,” said Lupin, smiling. “ Thanks very much. Could you leave it here
on the desk for me?”
Snape set down the smoking goblet , his eyes wandering between Harry and
Lupin.
“I was just showing Harry my Grindylow,” said Lupin pleasantly, pointing at the
tank.
“ Fascinat ing,” said Snape, without looking at it . “ You should drink that
directly, Lupin.”
“Yes, Yes, I will,” said Lupin.
“I made an entire cauldronful,” Snape continued. “If you need more.”
“I should probably take some again tomorrow. Thanks very much, Severus.”
“ Not at all,” said Snape, but there was a look in his eye Harry didn’ t like. He
backed out of the room, unsmiling and watchful.
Harry looked curiously at the goblet. Lupin smiled.
“Professor Snape has very kindly concocted a pot ion for me,” he said. “ I have
never been much of a pot ion–brewer and this one is part icularly complex.” He picked
up the goblet and snif fed it . “ Pity sugar makes it useless,” he added, taking a sip and
shuddering.
“Why –?” Harry began. Lupin looked at him and answered the unfinished
question.
“ I’ ve been feeling a bit off–color,” he said. “ This pot ion is the only thing that
helps. I am very lucky to be working alongside Professor Snape; there aren’ t many
wizards who are up to making it.”
Professor Lupin took another sip and Harry had a crazy urge to knock the goblet
out of his hands.
“Professor Snape’s very interested in the Dark Arts, he blurted out.
“ Really?” said Lupin, looking only mildly interested as he took another gulp of
potion.
“ Some people reckon –” Harry hesitated, then plunged recklessly on, “ some
people reckon he’d do anything to get the Defense Against the Dark Arts job.”
Lupin drained the goblet and pulled a face.
“ Disgust ing, ” he said. “Well, Harry, I’ d bet ter get back to work. See you at the
feast later.”
“ Right ,” said Harry, put t ing down his empty teacup. The empty goblet was st ill
smoking.
“There you go,” said Ron. “We got as much as we could carry.”
A shower of brilliantly colored sweets fell into Harry’s lap. It was dusk, and Ron
and Hermione had j ust turned up in the common room, pink–faced from the cold wind
and looking as though they’d had the time of their lives.
“ Thanks,” said Harry, picking up a packet of t iny black Pepper Imps. “What ’ s
Hogsmeade like? Where did you go?”
By the sound of it – everywhere. Dervish and Banges, the wizarding equipment
shop, Zonko’ s Joke Shop, into the Three Broomst icks for foaming mugs of hot
Butterbeer, and many places besides.
“ The post off ice, Harry! About two hundred owls, all sit t ing on shelves, all
color–coded depending on how fast you want your letter to get there!”
“ Honeydukes has got a new kind of fudge; they were giving out free samples,
there’s a bit, look –”
“We think we saw an ogre, honestly, they get all sorts at the Three Broomsticks
-”
“Wish we could have brought you some Butterbeer, really warms you up –”
“What did you do?” said Hermione, looking anxious. “ Did you get any work
done?”
“ No,” said Harry. “ Lupin made me a cup of tea in his office. And then Snape
came in….”
He told them all about the goblet. Ron’s mouth fell open.
“Lupin drank it?” he gasped. “Is he mad?”
Hermione checked her watch.
“We’ d bet ter go down, you know, the feast ’ ll be start ing in five minutes They
hurried through the portrait hole and into the crowd, still discussing Snape.
“ But if he – you know” – Hermione dropped her voice, glancing nervously
around – “ if he was t rying to to poison Lupin – he wouldn’ t have done it in front of
Harry.”
“ Yeah, maybe,” said Harry as they reached the ent rance hall and crossed into
the Great Hall. It had been decorated with hundreds and hundreds of candle–filled
pumpkins, a cloud of f lut tering live bats, and many flaming orange st reamers, which
were swimming lazily across the stormy ceiling like brilliant watersnakes.
The food was delicious; even Hermione and Ron, who were full to burst ing with
Honeydukes sweets, managed second helpings of everything. Harry kept glancing at
the staff table. Professor Lupin looked cheerful and as well as he ever did; he was
talking animatedly to t iny lit t le Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher. Harry moved
his eyes along the table, to the place where Snape sat . Was he imagining it , or were
Snape’s eyes flickering toward Lupin more often than was natural?
The feast finished with an entertainment provided by the Hogwarts ghosts.
They popped out of the walls and tables to do a bit of format ion gliding; Nearly
Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost , had a great success with a reenactment of his
own botched beheading. It had been such a pleasant evening that Harry’ s good mood
couldn’t even be spoiled by Malfoy, who shouted through the crowd as they all left the
hall, “The Dementors send their love, Potter!”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed the rest of the Gryffindors along the usual
path to Gryffindor Tower, but when they reached the corridor that ended with the
portrait of the Fat Lady, they found it jammed with students.
“Why isn’t anyone going in?” said Ron curiously.
Harry peered over the heads in front of him. The portrait seemed to be closed.
“ Let me through, please,” came Percy’ s voice, and he came bust ling
important ly through the crowd. “What ’ s the holdup here?You can’ t all have forgot ten
the password – excuse me, I’m Head Boy –”
And then a silence fell over the crowd, f rom the front first , so that a chill
seemed to spread down the corridor. They heard Percy say, in a suddenly sharp voice,
“Somebody get Professor Dumbledore. Quick.”
People’s heads turned; those at the back were standing on tiptoe.
“What’s going on?” said Ginny, who had just arrived.
A moment later, Professor Dumbledore was there, sweeping toward the
port rait ; the Gryffindors squeezed together to let him through, and Harry, Ron, and
Hermione moved closer to see what the trouble was.
“Oh, my –” Hermione grabbed Harry’s arm.
The Fat Lady had vanished from her port rait , which had been slashed so
viciously that st rips of canvas lit tered the f loor; great chunks of it had been torn away
completely. Dumbledore took one quick look at the ruined paint ing and turned, his
eyes somber, to see Professors McGonagall, Lupin, and Snape hurrying toward him.
“We need to find her,” said Dumbledore. “ Professor McGonagall, please go to
Mr. Filch at once and tell him to search every painting in the castle for the Fat Lady.”
“You’ll be lucky!” said a cackling voice.
It was Peeves the Poltergeist, bobbing over the crowd and looking delighted, as
he always did, at the sight of wreckage or worry.
“What do you mean, Peeves?” said Dumbledore calmly, and Peeves’s grin faded
a lit t le. He didn’ t dare taunt Dumbledore. Instead he adopted an oily voice that was
no bet ter than his cackle. “ Ashamed, Your Headship, sit . Doesn’ t want to be seen.
She’ s a horrible mess. Saw her running through the landscape up on the fourth floor,
sir, dodging between the t rees. Crying something dreadful,” he said happily. “ Poor
thing,” he added unconvincingly.
“Did she say who did it?” said Dumbledore quietly.
“Oh yes, Professorhead,” said Peeves, with the air of one cradling a large
bombshell in his arms. “ He got very angry when she wouldn’ t let him in, you see.”
Peeves f lipped over and grinned at Dumbledore from between his own legs. “ Nasty
temper he’s got, that Sirius Black.”
CHAPTER NINE – GRIM DEFEAT
Professor Dumbledore sent all the Gryffindors back to the Great Hall, where
they were j oined ten minutes later by the students from Huf f lepuff, Ravenclaw, and
Slytherin, who all looked extremely confused.
“The teachers and I need to conduct a thorough search of the castle,”
Professor Dumbledore told them as Professors McGonagall and Flitwick closed
all doors into the hall. “ I’m afraid that , for your own safety, you will have to spend
the night here. I want the prefects to stand guard over the ent rances to the hall and I
am leaving the Head Boy and Girl in charge. Any disturbance should be reported to me
immediately,” he added to Percy, who was looking immensely proud and important .
“Send word with one of the ghosts.”
Professor Dumbledore paused, about to leave the hall, and said, “Oh, yes,
you’ll be needing…”
One casual wave of his wand and the long tables flew to the edges of the hall
and stood themselves against the walls; another wave, and the floor was covered with
hundreds of squashy purple sleeping bags.
“Sleep well,” said Professor Dumbledore, closing the door behind him.
The hall immediately began to buzz excitedly; the Gryffindors were telling the
rest of the school what had just happened.
“ Everyone into their sleeping bags!” shouted Percy. “ Come on, now, no more
talking! Lights out in ten minutes!”
“ C’mon,” Ron said to Harry and Hermione; they seized three sleeping bags and
dragged them into a corner.
“Do you think Black’s still in the castle?” Hermione whispered anxiously.
“Dumbledore obviously thinks he might be,” said Ron.
“ It ’ s very lucky he picked tonight , you know,” said Hermione as they climbed
fully dressed into their sleeping bags and propped themselves on their elbows to talk.
“The one night we weren’t in the tower….”
I reckon he’ s lost t rack of t ime, being on the run,” said Ron. “ Didn’ t realize it
was Halloween. Otherwise he’d have come bursting in here.”
Hermione shuddered.
All around them, people were asking one another the same quest ion: “ How did
he get in?”
“Maybe he knows how to Apparate,” said a Ravenclaw a few feet away, “ Just
appear out of thin air, you know.”
“ Disguised himself, probably,” said a Hufflepuff fif th year. “ He could’ ve flown
in,” suggested Dean Thomas.
“ Honest ly, am I the only person who’ s ever bothered to read Hogwart s: A
History?” said Hermione crossly to Harry and Ron.
“Probably,” said Ron. “Why?”
“ Because the cast le’ s protected by more than walls, you know,” said
Hermione. “ There are all sorts of enchantments on it , to stop people entering by
stealth. You can’ t j ust Apparate in here. And I’ d like to see the disguise that could
fool those Dementors. They’ re guarding every single ent rance to the grounds. They’ d
have seen him fly in too. And Fitch knows all the secret passages, they’ ll have them
covered….”
“ The lights are going out now!” Percy shouted. “ I want everyone in their
sleeping bags and no more talking!”
The candles all went out at once. The only light now came from the silvery
ghosts, who were drift ing about talking seriously to the prefects, and the enchanted
ceiling, which, like the sky outside, was scat tered with stars. What with that , and the
whispering that still filled the hall, Harry felt as though he were sleeping outdoors in a
light wind.
Once every hour, a teacher would reappear in the hall to check that everything
was quiet . Around three in the morning, when many students had finally fallen asleep,
Professor Dumbledore came in. Harry watched him looking around for Percy, who had
been prowling between the sleeping bags, telling people off for talking. Percy was
only a short way away from Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who quickly pretended to be
asleep as Dumbledore’s footsteps drew nearer.
“Any sign of him, Professor?” asked Percy in a whisper.
“No. All well here?”
“Everything under control, sir.”
“Good. There’ s no point moving them all now. I’ ve found a temporary guardian
for the Gryffindor portrait hole. You’ll be able to move them back in tomorrow.”
“And the Fat Lady, sir?”
“ Hiding in a map of Argyllshire on the second f loor. Apparent ly she refused to
let Black in without the password, so he at tacked. She’ s st ill very dist ressed, but once
she’s calmed down, I’ll have Mr. Filch restore her.”
Harry heard the door of the hall creak open again, and more footsteps.
“ Headmaster?” It was Snape. Harry kept quite st ill, listening hard. “ The whole
of the third floor has been searched. He’s not there. And Filch has done the dungeons;
nothing there either.”
“What about the Astronomy tower? Professor Trelawney’s room? The Owlery?”
“All searched.”
“Very well, Severus. I didn’t really expect Black to linger.”
“Have you any theory as to how he got in, Professor?” asked Snape.
Harry raised his head very slightly off his arms to free his other ear.
“Many, Severus, each of them as unlikely as the next.”
Harry opened his eyes a fract ion and squinted up to where they stood;
Dumbledore’s back was to him, but he could see Percy’s face, rapt with attention, and
Snape’s profile, which looked angry.
“ You remember the conversat ion we had, Headmaster, j ust before – ah – the
start of term?” said Snape, who was barely opening his lips, as though t rying to block
Percy out of the conversation.
“ I do, Severus,” said Dumbledore, and there was something like warning in his
voice.
“ It seems – almost impossible – that Black could have entered the school
without inside help. I did express my concerns whet, you appointed –”
“ I do not believe a single person inside this cast le would have helped Black
enter it ,” said Dumbledore, and his tone made it so clear that the subj ect was closed
that Snape didn’ t reply. “ I must go down to the Dementors,” said Dumbledore. I said I
would inform them when our search was complete.”
“Didn’t they want to help, sit?” said Percy.
“Oh yes,” said Dumbledore coldly. “ But I’m afraid no Dementor will cross the
threshold of this castle while I am headmaster.”
Percy looked slight ly abashed. Dumbledore left the hall, walking quickly and
quiet ly. Snape stood for a moment , watching the headmaster with an expression of
deep resentment on his face; then he too left.
Harry glanced sideways at Ron and Hermione. Both of them had their eyes open
too, reflecting the starry ceiling.
“What was all that about?” Ron mouthed.
The school talked of nothing but Sirius Black for the next few days. The
theories about how he had entered the cast le became wilder and wilder; Hannah
Abbot t , from Hufflepuff, spent much of their next Herbology class telling anyone
who’d listen that Black could turn into a flowering shrub.
The Fat Lady’ s ripped canvas had been taken off the wall and replaced with
the port rait of Sir Cadogan and his fat gray pony. Nobody was very happy about this.
Sir Cadogan spent half his t ime challenging people to duels, and the rest thinking up
ridiculously complicated passwords, which he changed at least twice a day.
“ He’ s a complete lunat ic,” said Seamus Finnigan angrily to Percy. “ Can’ t we
get anyone else?”
“ None of the other pictures wanted the j ob,” said Percy. “ Frightened of what
happened to the Fat Lady. Sir Cadogan was the only one brave enough to volunteer.”
Sir Cadogan, however, was the least of Harry’ s worries. He was now being
closely watched. Teachers found excuses to walk along corridors with him, and Percy
Weasley (act ing, Harry suspected, on his mother’ s orders) was tailing him everywhere
like an extremely pompous guard dog.
To cap it all, Professor McGonagall summoned Harry into her office, with such a
somber expression on her face Harry thought someone must have died.
“ There’ s no point hiding it from you any longer, Pot ter,” she said in a very
serious voice. “I know this will come as a shock to you, but Sirius Black –”
“ I know he’ s after me,” said Harry wearily. “ I heard Ron’ s dad telling his mum.
Mr. Weasley works for the Ministry of Magic.”
Professor McGonagall seemed very taken aback. She stared at Harry for a
moment or two, then said, “ I see! Well, in that case, Pot ter, you’ ll understand why I
don’ t think it ’ s a good idea for you to be pract icing Quiddit ch in the evenings. Out on
the field with only your team members, it’s very exposed, Potter –”
“We’ ve got our first match on Saturday!” said Harry, out raged. “ I’ ve got to
train, Professor!”
Professor McGonagall considered him intent ly. Harry knew she was deeply
interested in the Gryf f indor team’ s prospects; it had been she, after all, who’ d
suggested him as Seeker in the first place. He waited, holding his breath.
“ Hmm…” Professor McGonagall stood up and stared out of the window at the
Quidditch f ield, j ust visible through the rain. “Well… goodness knows, I’ d like to see
us win the Cup at last … but all the same, Pot ter… I’ d be happier if a teacher were
present. I’ll ask Madam Hooch to oversee your training sessions.”
The weather worsened steadily as the f irst Quidditch match drew nearer.
Undaunted, the Gryffindor team was t raining harder than ever under the eye of
Madam Hooch. Then, at their final t raining session before Saturday’ s match, Oliver
Wood gave his team some unwelcome news.
“We’ re not playing Slytherin!” he told them, looking very angry. “ Flint ’ s j ust
been to see me. We’re playing Hufflepuff instead.”
“Why?” chorused the rest of the team.
“ Flint ’ s excuse is that their Seeker’ s arm’ s st ill inj ured,” said Wood, grinding
his teeth furiously. “ But it ’ s obvious why they’ re doing it . Don’ t want to play in this
weather. Think it’ll damage their chances….”
There had been st rong winds and heavy rain all day, and as Wood spoke, they
heard a distant rumble of thunder.
“ There’ s nothing wrong with Malfoy’ s arm!” said Harry furiously. “ He’ s faking
it!”
“ I know that , but we can’ t prove it ,” said Wood bit terly, “ And we’ ve been
pract icing all those moves assuming we’ re playing Slytherin, and instead it ’ s
Huff lepuff, and their style’ s quite different . They’ ve got a new Captain and Seeker,
Cedric Diggory –”
Angelina, Alicia, and Katie suddenly giggled.
“What?” said Wood, frowning at this lighthearted behavior.
“He’s that tall, good–looking one, isn’t he?” said Angelina.
“Strong and silent,” said Katie, and they started to giggle again.
“ He’ s only silent because he’ s too thick to st ring two words together,” said
Fred impat ient ly. “ I don’ t know why you’ re worried, Oliver, Huff lepuff is a pushover.
Last time we played them, Harry caught the Snitch in about five minutes, remember?”
“We were playing in completely dif ferent condit ions!” Wood shouted, his eyes
bulging slight ly. “ Diggory’ s put a very st rong side together! He’ s an excellent Seeker! I
was afraid you’d take it like this! We mustn’t relax! We must keep our focus! Slytherin
is trying to wrong–foot us! We must win!”
“Oliver, calm down!” said Fred, looking slight ly alarmed. “We’ re taking
Hufflepuff very seriously. Seriously.”
The day before the match, the winds reached howling point and the rain fell
harder than ever. It was so dark inside the corridors and classrooms that ext ra torches
and lanterns were lit . The Slytherin team was looking very smug indeed, and none
more so than Malfoy.
“ Ah, if only my arm was feeling a bit bet ter!” he sighed as the gale outside
pounded the windows.
Harry had no room in his head to worry about anything except the match
tomorrow. Oliver Wood kept hurrying up to him between classes and giving him t ips.
The third t ime this happened, Wood talked for so long that Harry suddenly realized he
was ten minutes late for Defense Against the Dark Arts, and set off at a run with Wood
shout ing after him, “ Diggory’ s got a very fast swerve, Harry, so you might want to t ry
looping him –”
Harry skidded to a halt outside the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom,
pulled the door open, and dashed inside.
“Sorry I’m late, Professor Lupin. I –”
But it wasn’ t Professor Lupin who looked up at him from the teacher’ s desk; it
was Snape.
“ This lesson began ten minutes ago, Pot ter, so I think we’ ll make it ten points
from Gryffindor. Sit down.”
But Harry didn’t move.
“Where’s Professor Lupin?” he said.
“ He says he is feeling too ill to teach today,” said Snape with a twisted smile.
“I believe I told you to sit down?”
But Harry stayed where he was.
“What’s wrong with him?”
Snape’s black eyes glittered.
“ Nothing life–threatening,” he said, looking as though he wished it were. “ Five
more points from Gryff indor, and if I have to ask you to sit down again, it will be
fifty.”
Harry walked slowly to his seat and sat down. Snape looked around at the class.
“ As I was saying before Pot ter interrupted, Professor Lupin has not lef t any
record of the topics you have covered so far –”
“ Please, sir, we’ ve done Boggarts, Red Caps, Kappas, and Grindylows,” said
Hermione quickly, “and we’re just about to start –”
“ Be quiet ,” said Snape coldly. “ I did not ask for informat ion. I was merely
commenting on Professor Lupin’s lack of organization.”
“ He’ s the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher we’ ve ever had,” said
Dean Thomas boldly, and there was a murmur of agreement from the rest of the class.
Snape looked more menacing than ever.
“ You are easily sat isfied. Lupin is hardly overtaxing you – I would expect first
years to be able to deal with Red Caps and Grindylows. Today we shall discuss –”
Harry watched him flick through the textbook, to the very back chapter, which
he must know they hadn’t covered.
“Werewolves,” said Snape.
“ But , sir,” said Hermione, seemingly unable to rest rain herself, “ we’ re not
supposed to do werewolves yet, we’re due to start Hinkypunks –”
“Miss Granger,” said Snape in a voice of deadly calm, “ I was under the
impression that I am teaching this lesson, not you. And I am telling you all to turn to
page 394.” He glanced around again. “All of you! Now!”
With many bit ter sidelong looks and some sullen mut tering, the class opened
their books.
“Which of you can tell me how we dist inguish between the werewolf and the
true wolf?” said Snape.
Everyone sat in mot ionless silence; everyone except Hermione, whose hand, as
it so often did, had shot straight into the air.
“Anyone?” Snape said, ignoring Hermione. His twisted smile was back. “Are you
telling me that Professor Lupin hasn’t even taught you the basic distinction between –”
“We told you,” said Parvat i suddenly, “ we haven’ t got as far as werewolves
yet, we’re still on –”
“ Silence!” snarled Snape. “Well, well, well, I never thought I’ d meet a third–
year class who wouldn’ t even recognize a werewolf when they saw one. I shall make a
point of informing Professor Dumbledore how very behind you all are….”
“ Please, sir,” said Hermione, whose hand was st ill in the air, “ the werewolf
differs from the true wolf in several small ways. The snout of the werewolf –”
“ That is the second t ime you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger,” said
Snape coolly. “Five more points from Gryffindor for being an insufferable know–it–all.”
Hermione went very red, put down her hand, and stared at the floor with her
eyes full of tears. It was a mark of how much the class loathed Snape that they were
all glaring at him, because every one of them had called Hermione a know–it–all at
least once, and Ron, who told Hermione she was a know–it–all at least twice a week,
said loudly, “ You asked us a quest ion and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don’ t
want to be told?”
The class knew instant ly he’ d gone too far. Snape advanced on Ron slowly, and
the room held its breath.
“ Detent ion, Weasley,” Snape said silkily, his face very close to Ron’ s. “ And if I
ever hear you criticize the way I teach a class again, you will be very sorry indeed.”
No one made a sound throughout the rest of the lesson. They sat and made
notes on werewolves from the textbook, while Snape prowled up and down the rows of
desks, examining the work they had been doing with Professor Lupin.
“ Very poorly explained. .. That is incorrect , the Kappa is more commonly found
in Mongolia…. Professor Lupin gave this eight out of ten? I wouldn’ t have given it
three….”
When the bell rang at last, Snape held them back.
“ You will each write an essay, to be handed in to me, on the ways you
recognize and kill werewolves. I want two rolls of parchment or, the subj ect , and I
want them by Monday morning. It is t ime somebody took this class in hand. Weasley,
stay behind, we need to arrange your detention.”
Harry and Hermione lef t the room with the rest of the class, who waited unt il
they were well out of earshot, then burst into a furious tirade about Snape.
“ Snape’ s never been like this with any of our other Defense Against the Dark
Arts teachers, even if he did want the j ob,” Harry said to Hermione. “Why’ s he got it
in for Lupin? D’you think this is all because of the Boggart?”
“ I don’ t know,” said Hermione pensively. “ But I really hope Professor Lupin
gets better soon….”
Ron caught up with them five minutes later, in a towering rage.
“ D’ you know what that –” (he called Snape something that made Hermione say
“ Ron!” ) “ – is making me do? I’ ve got to scrub out the bedpans in the hospital wing.
Without magic! ” He was breathing deeply, his fists clenched. “Why couldn’ t Black
have hidden in Snape’s office, eh? He could have finished him off for us!”
Harry woke ext remely early the next morning; so early that it was t ill dark. For
a moment he thought the roaring of the wind had woken him. Then he felt a cold
breeze on the back of his neck and sat bolt upright – Peeves the Poltergeist had been
floating next to him, blowing hard in his ear.
“What did you do that for?” said Harry furiously. Peeves puffed out his cheeks,
blew hard, and zoomed backward out of the room, cackling.
Harry fumbled for his alarm clock and looked at it . It was half past four.
Cursing Peeves, he rolled over and t ried to get back to sleep, but it was very difficult ,
now that he was awake, to ignore the sounds of the thunder rumbling overhead, the
pounding of the wind against the cast le walls, and the distant creaking of the t rees in
the Forbidden Forest . In a few hours he would be out on the Quiddit ch field, bat t ling
through that gale. Finally, he gave up any thought of more sleep, got up, dressed,
picked up his Nimbus Two Thousand, and walked quietly out of the dormitory.
As Harry opened the door, something brushed against his leg. He bent down
just in time to grab Crookshanks by the end of his bushy tail and drag him outside.
“ You know, I reckon Ron was right about you,” Harry told Crookshanks
suspiciously. “There are plenty of mice around this place – go and chase them. Go on,”
he added, nudging Crookshanks down the spiral staircase with his foot . “ Leave
Scabbers alone.”
The noise of the storm was even louder in the common room. Harry knew
bet ter than to think the match would be canceled; Quidditch matches weren’ t called
of f for t rifles like thunderstorms. Nevertheless, he was start ing to feel very
apprehensive. Wood had pointed out Cedric Diggory to him in the corridor; Diggory
was a fifth year and a lot bigger than Harry. Seekers were usually light and speedy,
but Diggory’ s weight would be an advantage in this weather because he was less likely
to be blown off course. Harry whiled away the hours unt il dawn in front of the fire,
get t ing up every now and then to stop Crookshanks f rom sneaking up the boys,
staircase again. At long last Harry thought it must be t ime for breakfast , so he headed
through the portrait hole alone.
“Stand and fight, you mangy cur!” yelled Sir Cadogan.
“Oh, shut up,” Harry yawned.
He revived a bit over a large bowl of porridge, and by the t ime he’ d started on
toast, the rest of the team had turned up.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” said Wood, who wasn’t eating anything.
“Stop worrying, Oliver,” said Alicia soothingly, “we don’t mind a bit of rain.”
But it was considerably more than a bit of rain. Such was the popularity of
Quidditch that the whole school turned out to watch the match as usual, but they ran
down the lawns toward the Quidditch field, heads bowed against the ferocious wind,
umbrellas being whipped out of their hands as they went j ust before he entered the
locker room, Harry saw Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, laughing and point ing at him from
under an enormous umbrella on their way to the stadium.
The team changed into their scarlet robes and waited for Wood’ s usual pre–
match pep talk, but it didn’ t come. He t ried to speak several t imes, made an odd
gulping noise, then shook his head hopelessly and beckoned them to follow him.
The wind was so st rong that they staggered sideways as they walked out onto
the field. If the crowd was cheering, they couldn’ t hear it over the fresh rolls of
thunder. Rain was splat tering over Harry’ s glasses. How on earth was he going to see
the Snitch in this?
The Huf f lepuffs were approaching from the opposite side of the field, wearing
canary–yellow robes. The Captains walked up to each other and shook hands; Diggory
smiled at Wood but Wood no, looked as though he had lockj aw and merely nodded.
Harry saw Madam Hooch’s mouth form the words,
“Mount your brooms…”
He pulled his right foot out of the mud with a squelch and swung it over his
Nimbus Two Thousand. Madam Hooch put her whist le to her lips and gave it a blast
that sounded shrill and distant they were off
Harry rose fast , but his Nimbus was swerving slight ly with the wind. He held it
as steady as he could and turned, squint ing into the rain. Within five minutes Harry
was soaked to his skin and frozen, hardly able to see his teammates, let alone the tiny
Snitch. He flew backward and forward across the field past blurred red and yellow
shapes, with no idea of what was happening in the rest of the game. He couldn’ t hear
the commentary over the wind. The crowd was hidden beneath a sea of cloaks and
bat tered umbrellas. Twice Harry came very close to being unseated by a Bludger; his
vision was so clouded by the rain on his glasses he hadn’t seen them coming.
He lost t rack of t ime. It was get t ing harder and harder to hold his broom
st raight . The sky was get t ing darker, as though night had decided to come early.
Twice Harry nearly hit another player, without knowing whether it was a teammate or
opponent ; everyone was now so wet , and the rain so thick, he could hardly tell them
apart….
With the first flash of lightning came the sound of Madam Hooch’ s whist le;
Harry could j ust see the out line of Wood through the thick rain, gesturing him to the
ground. The whole team splashed down into the mud.
“I called for time–out!” Wood roared at his team. “Come on, under here –”
They huddled at the edge of the field under a large umbrella; Harry took off his
glasses and wiped them hurriedly on his robes.
“What’s the score?”
“We’ re f ifty points up,” said Wood, “ but unless we get the Snitch soon, we’ ll
be playing into the night.”
“ I’ ve got no chance with these on,” Harry said exasperatedly, waving his
glasses.
At that very moment , Hermione appeared at his shoulder; she was holding her
cloak over her head and was, inexplicably, beaming.
“I’ve had an idea, Harry! Give me your glasses, quick!”
He handed them to her, and as the team watched in amazement , Hermione
tapped them with her wand and said, “Impervius!”
“There!” she said, handing them back to Harry. “They’ll repel water!”
Wood looked as though he could have kissed her.
“ Brilliant !” he called hoarsely after her as she disappeared into the crowd.
“Okay, team, let’s go for it!”
Hermione’ s spell had done the t rick. Harry was st ill numb with cold, st ill
wet ter than he’ d ever been in his life, but he could see. Full of fresh determinat ion,
he urged his broom through the turbulent air, staring in every direction for the Snitch,
avoiding a Bludger, ducking beneath Diggory, who was st reaking in the opposite
direct ion…. There was another clap of thunder, followed immediately by forked
lightning. This was get t ing more and more dangerous. Harry needed to get the Snitch
quickly –
He turned, intending to head back toward the middle of the field, but at that
moment , another flash of lightning illuminated the stands, and Harry saw something
that dist racted him completely, the silhouet te of an enormous shaggy black dog,
clearly imprinted against the sky, motionless in the topmost, empty row of seats.
Harry’s numb hands slipped on the broom handle and his Nimbus dropped a few
feet . Shaking his sodden bangs out of his eyes, he squinted back into the stands. The
dog had vanished.
“ Harry!” came Wood’ s anguished yell from the Gryffindor goal posts. “ Harry,
behind you!”
Harry looked wildly around. Cedric Diggory was pelt ing up the field, and a t iny
speck of gold was shimmering in the rain–filled air between them –
With a j olt of panic, Harry threw himself f lat to the broornhandle and zoomed
toward the Snitch.
“Come on!” he growled at his Nimbus as the rain whipped his face. “Faster!”
But something odd was happening. An eerie silence was falling across the
stadium. The wind, though as st rong as ever, was forget t ing to roar. It was as though
someone had turned off the sound, as though Harry had gone suddenly deaf – what was
going on?
And then a horribly familiar wave of cold swept over him, inside him, just as he
became aware of something moving on the field below…
Before he’ d had t ime to think, Harry had taken his eyes off the Snitch and
looked down.
At least a hundred Dementors, their hidden faces point ing up at him, were
standing beneath him. It was as though freezing water were rising in his chest , cut t ing
at his insides. And then he heard it again…. Someone was screaming, screaming inside
his head… a woman…
“ Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!”
“ Stand aside, you silly girl… stand aside, now….”
“ Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead –”
Numbing, swirling white mist was filling Harry’ s brain…. What was he doing?
Why was he flying?He needed to help her… She was going to die…. She was going to
be murdered….
He was falling, falling through the icy mist.
“ Not Harry! Please… have mercy… have mercy….”
A shrill voice was laughing, the woman was screaming, and Harry knew no
more.
“Lucky the ground was so soft.”
“I thought he was dead for sure.”
“But he didn’t even break his glasses.”
Harry could hear the voices whispering, but they made no sense whatsoever.
He didn’ t have a clue where he was, or how he’ d got there, or what he’ d been doing
before he got there. All he knew was that every inch of him was aching as though it
had been beaten.
“That was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Scariest… the scariest thing… hooded black figures… cold … screaming…
Harry’ s eyes snapped open. He was lying in the hospital wing. The Gryffindor
Quidditch team, spat tered with mud from head to foot , was gathered around his bed.
Ron and Hermione were also there, looking as though they’ d j ust climbed out of a
swimming pool.
“Harry!” said Fred, who looked extremely white underneath, the mud. “How’re
you feeling?”
It was as though Harry’ s memory was on fast forward. The lightning – the Grim
– the Snitch – and the Dementors…
“What happened?” he said, sitting up so suddenly they all gasped.
“You fell off,” said Fred. “Must’ve been – what – fifty feet?”
“We thought you’d died,” said Alicia, who was shaking.
Hermione made a small, squeaky noise. Her eyes were extremely bloodshot.
“But the match,” said Harry. “What happened? Are we doing a replay?”
No one said anything. The horrible truth sank into Harry like a stone.
“We didn’t – lose?”
“ Diggory got the Snitch,” said George. “ Just after you fell. He didn’ t realize
what had happened. When he looked back and saw you on the ground, he t ried to call
it off. Wanted a rematch. But they won fair and square… even Wood admits it.”
“Where is Wood?” said Harry, suddenly realizing he wasn’t there.
“Still in the showers,” said Fred. “We think he’s trying to drown himself.”
Harry put his face to his knees, his hands gripping his hair. Fred grabbed his
shoulder and shook it roughly.
“C’mon, Harry, you’ve never missed the Snitch before.”
“There had to be one time you didn’t get it,” said George.
“It’s not over yet,” said Fred. “We lost by a hundred points”
“ Right? So if Huff lepuf f loses to Ravenclaw and we beat Ravenclaw and
Slytherin –.”
“Hufflepuff’ll have to lose by at least two hundred points,” said George.
“But if they beat Ravenclaw…”
“No Way, Ravenclaw is too good. But if Slytherin loses against Hufflepuff…”
“It all depends on the points – a margin of a hundred either way.”
Harry lay there, not saying a word. They had lost … for the first t ime ever, he
had lost a Quidditch match. After ten minutes or so, Madam Pomfrey came over to tell
the team to leave him in peace.
“We’ ll come and see you later,” Fred told him. “ Don’ t beat yourself up, Harry,
you’re still the best Seeker we’ve ever had.”
The team t rooped out , t railing mud behind them. Madam Pomf rey shut the
door behind them, looking disapproving. Ron and Hermione moved nearer to Harry’s
bed.
“ Dumbledore was really angry,” Hermione said in a quaking voice. “ I’ ve never
seen him like that before. He ran onto the field as you fell, waved his wand, and you
sort of slowed down before you hit the ground. Then he whirled his wand at the
Dementors. Shot silver stuff at them. They left the stadium right away… He was
furious they’d come onto the grounds. We heard him –”
“ Then he magicked you onto a st retcher,” said Ron. “ And walked up to school
with you floating on it. Everyone thought you were –”
His voice faded, but Harry hardly not iced. He was thinking about what the
Dementors had done to him… about the screaming voice. He looked up and saw Ron
and Hermione lookin, at him so anxiously that he quickly cast around for something
matter–of–fact to say.
“Did someone get my Nimbus?”
Ron and Hermione looked quickly at each other.
“Er –”
“What?” said Harry, looking from one to the other.
“Well… when you fell off, it got blown away,” said Hermione hesitantly.
“And?”
“And it hit – it hit – oh, Harry – it hit the Whomping Willow.”
Harry’ s insides lurched. The Whomping Willow was a very violent t ree that
stood alone in the middle of the grounds.
“And?” he said, dreading the answer.
“Well, you know the Whomping Willow,” said Ron. “ It – it doesn’ t like being
hit.”
“ Professor Flitwick brought it back j ust before you came around,” said
Hermione in a very small voice.
Slowly, she reached down for a bag at her feet , turned it upside down, and
t ipped a dozen bits of splintered wood and twig onto the bed, the only remains of
Harry’s faithful, finally beaten broomstick.
CHAPTER TEN – THE MARAUDER’S MAP
Madam Pomfrey insisted on keeping Harry in the hospital wing for the rest of
the weekend. He didn’ t argue or complain, but he wouldn’ t let her throw away the
shat tered remnants of his Nimbus Two Thousand. He knew he was being stupid, knew
that the Nimbus was beyond repair, but Harry couldn’ t help it ; he felt as though he’ d
lost one of his best friends.
He had a st ream of visitors, all intent on cheering him up. Hagrid sent him a
bunch of earwiggy flowers that looked like yellow cabbages, and Ginny Weasley,
blushing furiously, turned up with a get–well card she had made herself, which sang
shrilly unless Harry kept it shut under his bowl of fruit . The Gryffindor team visited
again on Sunday morning, this t ime accompanied by Wood, who told Harry (in a
hollow, dead sort of voice) that he didn’ t blame him in the slightest . Ron and
Hermione left Harry’s bedside only at night. But nothing anyone said or did could make
Harry feel any better, because they knew only half of what was troubling him.
He hadn’ t told anyone about the Grim, not even Ron –and Hermione, because
he knew Ron would panic and Hermione would scoff. The fact remained, however,
that it had now appeared twice, and both appearances had been followed by near–
fatal accidents; the first t ime, he had nearly been run over by the Knight Bus; the
second, fallen fifty feet from his broomstick. Was the Grim going to haunt him until he
actually died?Was he going to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder for
the beast?
And then there were the Dementors. Harry felt sick and humiliated every t ime
he thought of them. Everyone said the Dementors were horrible, but no one else
collapsed every t ime they went near one. No one else heard echoes in their head of
their dying parents. Because Harry knew whom that screaming voice belonged to now.
He had heard her words, heard them over and over again during the night hours in the
hospital wing while he lay awake, staring at the st rips of moonlight on the ceiling.
When the Dementors approached him, he heard the last moments of his mother’ s life,
her at tempts to protect him, Harry, from Lord Voldemort , and Voldemort ’ s laughter
before he murdered her… . Harry dozed fit fully, sinking into dreams full of clammy,
rot ted hands and pet rified pleading, j erking awake to dwell again on his mother’ s
voice.
It was a relief to return to the noise and bust le of the main school on Monday,
where he was forced to think about other things, ever, if he had to endure Draco
Malfoy’ s taunt ing. Malfoy was almost beside himself with glee at Gryffindor’ s defeat .
He had finally taken off his bandages, and celebrated having the full use of both arms
again by doing spirited imitat ions of Harry falling off his broom. Malfoy spent much of
their next Pot ions class doing Dementor imitat ions across the dungeon; Ron f inally
cracked and flung a large, slippery crocodile heart at Malfoy, which hit him in the face
and caused Snape to take fifty points from Gryffindor.
“ If Snape’ s teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts again, I’m skiving off,” said
Ron as they headed toward Lupin’ s classroom af ter lunch. “ Check who’ s in there,
Hermione.”
Hermione peered around the classroom door.
“It’s okay!”
Professor Lupin was back at work. It certainly looked as though he had been ill.
His old robes were hanging more loosely on him and there were dark shadows beneath
his eyes; nevertheless, he smiled at the class as they took their seats, and they burst
at once into an explosion of complaints about Snape’ s behavior while Lupin had been
ill.
“It’s not fair, he was only filling in, why should he give us homework?”
“We don’t know anything about werewolves two rolls of parchment!”
“ Did you tell Professor Snape we haven’ t covered them yet?” Lupin asked,
frowning slightly.
The babble broke out again.
“Yes, but he said we were really behind he wouldn’t listen –”
“ – two rolls of parchment!”
Professor Lupin smiled at the look of indignation on every face.
“Don’t worry. I’ll speak to Professor Snape. You don’t have to do the essay.”
“Oh no,” said Hermione, looking very disappointed. “I’ve already finished it!”
They had a very enjoyable lesson. Professor Lupin had brought along a glass box
containing a Hinkypunk, a lit t le one–legged creature who looked as though he were
made of wisps of smoke, rather frail and harmless looking.
“ Lures t ravelers into bogs,” said Professor Lupin as they took notes. “ You
notice the lantern dangling from his hand? Hops ahead –people follow the light – then –

The Hinkypunk made a horrible squelching noise against the glass.
When the bell rang, everyone gathered up their things and headed for the
door, Harry among them, but –
“Wait a moment, Harry,” Lupin called. “I’d like a word.”
Harry doubled back and watched Professor Lupin covering the Hinkypunk’ s box
with a cloth.
“ I heard about the match,” said Lupin, turning back to his desk and start ing to
pile books into his briefcase, “ and I’m sorry about your broomst ick. Is there any
chance of fixing it?”
“No,” said Harry. “The tree smashed it to bits.”
Lupin sighed.
“ They planted the Whomping Willow the same year that I arrived at Hogwarts.
People used to play a game, t rying to get near enough to touch the t runk. In the end,
a boy called Davey Gudgeon nearly lost an eye, and we were forbidden to go near it .
No broomstick would have a chance.”
“ Did you hear about the Dementors too?” said Harry with difficulty. Lupin
looked at him quickly.
“ Yes, I did. I don’ t think any of us have seen Professor Dumbledore that angry.
They have been growing rest less for some t ime – furious at his refusal to let them
inside the grounds…. I suppose they were the reason you fell?”
“Yes,” said Harry. He hesitated, and then the question he had to ask burst from
him before he could stop himself.” Why? Why do they affect me like that? Am I just –?”
“ It has nothing to do with weakness,” said Professor Lupin sharply, as though
he had read Harry’ s mind. “ The Dementors affect you worse than the others because
there are horrors in your past that the others don’t have.”
A ray of wintery sunlight fell across the classroom, illuminat ing Lupin’ s gray
hairs and the lines on his young face.
“ Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest
the darkest , filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope,
and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though
they can’ t see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy
memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long
enough to reduce you to something like itself… soul–less and evil. You’ ll be left with
nothing but the worst experiences of your life. And the worst that happened to you,
Harry, is enough to make anyone fall off their broom. You have nothing to feel
ashamed of.”
“When they get near me –” Harry stared at Lupin’s desk, his throat tight. “I can
hear Voldemort murdering my mum.”
Lupin made a sudden mot ion with his arm as though to grip Harry’ s shoulder,
but thought better of it. There was a moment’s Silence, then –
“Why did they have to come to the match?” said Harry bitterly.
“ They’ re get t ing hungry,” said Lupin coolly, shut t ing his briefcase with a snap.
“ Dumbledore won’ t let them into the school, so their supply of human prey has dried
up…. I don’ t think they could resist the large crowd around the Quidditch field. All
that excitement … emotions running high… it was their idea of a feast.”
“Azkaban must be terrible,” Harry muttered. Lupin nodded grimly.
“ The fort ress is set on a t iny island, way out to sea, but they don’ t need walls
and water to keep the prisoners in, not when they’ re all t rapped inside their own
heads, incapable of a single cheery thought. Most of them go mad within weeks.”
“But Sirius Black escaped from them,” Harry said slowly. “He got away…”
Lupin’s briefcase slipped from the desk; he had to stoop quickly to catch it.
“ Yes,” he said, st raightening up, “ Black must have found a way to fight them. I
wouldn’ t have believed it possible…. Dementors are supposed to drain a wizard of his
powers if he is left with them too long….”
“You made that Dementor on the train back off,” said Harry suddenly.
“ There are – certain defenses one can use,” said Lupin. “ But there was only
one Dementor on the t rain. The more there are, the more difficult it becomes to
resist.”
“What defenses?” said Harry at once. “Can you teach me?”
“ I don’ t pretend to be an expert at fight ing Dementors, Harry, quite the
contrary…”
“ But if the Dementors come to another Quidditch match, I need to be able to
fight them –”
Lupin looked into Harry’ s determined face, hesitated, then said, “Well… all
right. I’ll try and help. But it’ll have to wait until next term, I’m afraid. I have a lot to
do before the holidays. I chose a very inconvenient time to fall ill.”
What with the promise of ant i–Dementor lessons from Lupin, the thought that
he might never have to hear his mother’ s death again, and the fact that Ravenclaw
flat tened Hufflepuff in their Quidditch match at the end of November, Harry’ s mood
took a definite upturn. Gryffindor were not out of the running after all, although they
could not afford to lose another match. Wood became repossessed of his manic
energy, and worked his team as hard as ever in the chilly haze of rain that persisted
into December. Harry saw no hint of a Dementor within the grounds. Dumbledore’ s
anger seemed to be keeping them at their stations at the entrances.
Two weeks before the end of the term, the sky lightened suddenly to a
dazzling, opaline white and the muddy grounds were revealed one morning covered in
glit tering frost . Inside the cast le, there was a buzz of Christmas in the air. Professor
Flitwick, the Charms teacher, had already decorated his classroom with shimmering
lights that turned out to be real, flut tering fairies. The students were all happily
discussing their plans for the holidays. Both Ron and Hermione had decided to remain
at Hogwarts, and though Ron said it was because he couldn’ t stand two weeks with
Percy, and Hermione insisted she needed to use the library, Harry wasn’ t fooled; they
were doing it to keep him company, and he was very grateful.
To everyone’ s delight except Harry’ s, there was to be another Hogsmeade t rip
on the very last weekend of the term.
“We can do all our Christmas shopping there!” said Hermione. “Mum and Dad
would really love those Toothflossing Stringmints from Honeydukes!”
Resigned to the fact that he would be the only third year staying behind again,
Harry borrowed a copy of Which Broomst ick from Wood, and decided to spend the day
reading up on the different makes. He had been riding one of the school brooms at
team pract ice, an ancient Shoot ing Star, which was very slow and j erky; he def initely
needed a new broom of his own.
On the Saturday morning of the Hogsmeade trip, Harry bid good–bye to Ron and
Hermione, who were wrapped in cloaks and scarves, then turned up the marble
staircase alone, and headed back toward Gryf findor Tower. Snow had started to fall
outside the windows, and the castle was very still and quiet.
“Psst – Harry!”
He turned, halfway along the third–f loor corridor, to see Fred and George
peering out at him from behind a statue of a humpbacked, one–eyed witch.
“What are you doing?” said Harry curiously. “ How come you’ re not going to
Hogsmeade?”
“We’ve come to give you a bit of festive cheer before we go,” said Fred, with a
mysterious wink. “Come in here….”
He nodded toward an empty classroom to the left of the one–eyed statue.
Harry followed Fred and George inside. George closed the door quiet ly and then
turned, beaming, to look at Harry.
“Early Christmas present for you, Harry,” he said.
Fred pulled something from inside his cloak with a flourish and laid it on one of
the desks. It was a large, square, very worn piece of parchment with nothing writ ten
on it. Harry, suspecting one of Fred and George’s jokes, stared at it.
“What’s that supposed to be?”
“ This, Harry, is the secret of our success,” said George, pat t ing the parchment
fondly.
“ It ’ s a wrench, giving it to you,” said Fred, “ but we decided last night , your
need’s greater than ours.”
“Anyway, we know it by heart,” said George. “We bequeath it to you. We don’t
really need it anymore.”
“And what do I need with a bit of old parchment?” said Harry.
“ A bit of old parchment !” said Fred, closing his eyes with a grimace as though
Harry had mortally offended him. “Explain, George.”
“Well… when we were in our first year, Harry – young, carefree, and innocent
–”
Harry snorted. He doubted whether Fred and George had ever been innocent.
“Well, more innocent than we are now – we got into a spot of bother with
Filch.”
“We let off a Dungbomb in the corridor and it upset him for some reason –”
“ So he hauled us off to his office and started threatening us with the usual –”
detent ion disembowelment and we couldn’ t help not icing a drawer in one of his filing
cabinets marked Confiscated and Highly Dangerous.
“Don’t tell me –” said Harry, starting to grin.
“Well, what would you’ ve done?” said Fred. “George caused a diversion by
dropping another Dungbomb, I whipped the drawer open, and grabbed – this.”
“ It ’ s not as bad as it sounds, you know,” said George. “We don’ t reckon Filch
ever found out how to work it . He probably suspected what it was, though, or he
wouldn’t have confiscated it.”
“And you know how to work it?”
“Oh yes,” said Fred, smirking. “ This lit t le beauty’ s taught us more than all the
teachers in this school.”
“ You’ re winding me up,” said Harry, looking at the ragged old bit of
parchment.
“Oh, are we?” said George.
He took out his wand, touched the parchment light ly, and said, “ I solemnly
swear that I am up to no good.”
And at once, thin ink lines began to spread like a spider’ s web from the point
that George’ s wand had touched. They j oined each other, they crisscrossed, they
fanned into every corner of the parchment ; then words began to blossom across the
top, great, curly green words, that proclaimed:
Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief–Makers are proud to present
THE MARAUDER’S MAP
It was a map showing every detail of the Hogwarts cast le and grounds. But the
t ruly remarkable thing were the t iny ink dots moving around it , each labeled with a
name in minuscule writing. Astounded, Harry bent over it. A labeled dot in the top left
corner showed that Professor Dumbledore was pacing his study; the caretaker’ s cat ,
Mrs. Norris, was prowling the second floor; and Peeves the Poltergeist was current ly
bouncing around the t rophy room. And as Harry’ s eyes t raveled up and down the
familiar corridors, he noticed something else.
This map showed a set of passages he had never entered. And many of them
seemed to lead –
“ Right into Hogsmeade,” said Fred, t racing one of them with his finger. “ There
are seven in all. Now, Filch knows about these four” – he pointed them out – “ but
we’ re sure we’ re the only ones who know about these. Don’ t bother with the one
behind the mirror on the fourth floor. We used it unt il last winter, but it ’ s caved in –
completely blocked. And we don’ t reckon anyone’ s ever used this one, because the
Whomping Willow’ s planted right over the ent rance. But this one here, this one leads
right into the cellar of Honeydukes. We’ ve used it loads of t imes. And as you might ’ ve
not iced, the ent rance is right outside this room, through that one–eyed old crone’ s
hump.”
“Moony, Wormtaill Padfoot, and Prongs,” sighed George, patting the heading of
the map. “We owe them so much.”
“ Noble men, working t irelessly to help a new generat ion of lawbreakers,” said
Fred solemnly.
“ Right ,” said George briskly. “ Don’ t forget to wipe it after you’ ve used it or
anyone can read it,” Fred said warningly.
“Just tap it again and say, ‘Mischief managed!’ And it’ll go blank.”
“ So, young Harry,” said Fred, in an uncanny impersonat ion of Percy, “mind you
behave yourself.”
“See you in Honeydukes,” said George, winking.
They left the room, both smirking in a satisfied sort of way.
Harry stood there, gazing at the miraculous map. He watched the t iny ink Mrs.
Norris turn left and pause to sniff at something on the f loor. If Filch really didn’ t
know… he wouldn’t have to pass the Dementors at all….
But even as he stood there, f looded with excitement , something Harry had
once heard Mr. Weasley say came float ing out of his memory. Never t rust anyt hing
that can think for itself, if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.
This map was one of those dangerous magical obj ects Mr. Weasley had been
warning against … . Aids for Magical Mischief Makers… but then, Harry reasoned, he
only wanted to use it to get into Hogsmeade, it wasn’ t as though he wanted to steal
anything or at tack anyone… and Fred and George had been using it for years without
anything horrible happening….
Harry t raced the secret passage to Honeydukes with his finger. Then, quite
suddenly, as though following orders, he rolled up the map, stuffed it inside his robes,
and hurried to the door of the classroom. He opened it a couple of inches. There was
no one outside. Very carefully, he edged out of the room and behind the statue of the
one–eyed witch. What did he have to do?He pulled out the map again and saw to his
astonishment , that a new ink figure had appeared upon it , labeled Harry Pot ter. This
figure was standing exact ly where the real Harry was standing, about halfway down
the third–floor corridor.
Harry watched carefully. His lit t le Ink self appeared to be tapping the witch
with his minute wand. Harry quickly took out his real wand and tapped the statue.
Nothing happened. He looked back at the map. The t iniest speech bubble had
appeared next to his figure. The word inside said, “Dissendium.”
“ Dissendium!” Harry whispered, tapping the stone witch again.
At once, the statue’ s hump opened wide enough to admit a fairly thin person.
Harry glanced quickly up and down the corridor, then tucked the map away again,
hoisted himself into the hole headfirst, and pushed himself forward.
He slid a considerable way down what felt like a stone slide, then landed on
cold, damp earth. He stood up, looking around. It was pitch dark. He held up his
wand, mut tered, “ Lumos! “ and saw that he was in a very narrow, low, earthy
passageway. He raised the map, tapped it with the t ip of his wand, and mut tered,
“Mischief managed!” The map went blank at once. He folded it carefully, tucked it
inside his robes, then, heart beating fast, both excited and apprehensive, he set off.
The passage twisted and turned, more like the burrow of a giant rabbit than
anything else. Harry hurried along it , stumbling now and then on the uneven f loor,
holding his wand out in front of him. It took ages, but Harry had the thought of
Honeydukes to sustain him. After what felt like an hour, the passage began to rise.
Pant ing, Harry sped up, his face hot , his feet very cold. Ten minutes later, he came to
the foot of some worn stone steps, which rose out of sight above him. Careful not to
make any noise, Harry began to climb. A hundred steps, two hundred steps, he lost
count as he climbed, watching his feet …. Then, without warning, his head hit
something hard.
It seemed to be a t rapdoor. Harry stood there, massaging the top of his head,
listening. He couldn’ t hear any sounds above him. Very slowly, he pushed the trapdoor
open and peered over the edge. He was in a cellar, which was full of wooden crates
and boxes. Harry climbed out of the t rapdoor and replaced it – it blended so perfect ly
with the dusty f loor that it was impossible to tell it was there. Harry crept slowly
toward the wooden staircase that led upstairs. Now he could def initely hear voices,
not to mention the tinkle of a bell and the opening and shutting of a door.
Wondering what he ought to do, he suddenly heard a door open much closer at
hand; somebody was about to come downstairs.
“ And get another box of Jelly Slugs, dear, they’ ve nearly cleaned us out –” said
a woman’s voice.
A pair of feet was coming down the staircase. Harry leapt behind an enormous
crate and waited for the footsteps to pass. He heard the man shift ing boxes against
the opposite wall. He might not get another chance –
Quickly and silent ly, Harry dodged out from his hiding place and climbed the
stairs; looking back, he saw an enormous backside and shiny bald head, buried in a
box. Harry reached the door at the top of the stairs, slipped through it , and found
himself behind the counter of Honeydukes – he ducked, crept sideways, and then
straightened up.
Honeydukes was so crowded with Hogwarts students that no one looked twice
at Harry. He edged among them, looking around, and suppressed a laugh as he
imagined the look that would spread over Dudley’ s piggy face if he could see where
Harry was now. There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent–looking sweets
imaginable. Creamy chunks of nougat , shimmering pink squares of coconut ice, fat ,
honey–colored toffees; hundreds of dif ferent kinds of chocolate in neat rows; there
was a large barrel of Every Flavor Beans, and another of Fizzing Whizbees, the
levitat ing sherbet balls that Ron had ment ioned; along yet another wall were “ Special
Effects” – sweets: Droobles Best Blowing Gum (which filled a room with bluebell–
colored bubbles that refused to pop for days), the st range, splintery Toothflossing
St ringmints, t iny black Pepper Imps (“ breat he f ire for your f riends!” ), Ice Mice (“ hear
your teet h chat t er and squeak!” ), peppermint creams shaped like toads (“ hop
realistically in the stomach!”), fragile sugar–spun quills, and exploding bonbons.
Harry squeezed himself through a crowd of sixth years and saw a sign hanging
in the farthest corner of the shop (UNUSUAL TASTES). Ron and Hermione were
standing underneath it , examining a t ray of blood–flavored lollipops. Harry sneaked up
behind them.
“ Ugh, no, Harry won’ t want one of those, they’ re for vampires, I expect ,”
Hermione was saying.
“ How about these?” said Ron, shoving a j ar of Cockroach Clusters under
Hermione’s nose.
“Definitely not,” said Harry.
Ron nearly dropped the jar.
“Harry!” squealed Hermione. “What are you doing here? How – how did you –?”
“Wow!” said Ron, looking very impressed, “you’ve learned to Apparate!”
“ ‘Course I haven’ t ,” said Harry. He dropped his voice so that none of the sixth
years could hear him and told them all about the Marauder’s Map.
“ How come Fred and George never gave it to me!” said Ron, out raged. “ I’m
their brother!”
“ But Harry isn’ t going to keep it !” said Hermione, as though the idea were
ludicrous. “He’s going to hand it in to Professor McGonagall, aren’t you, Harry?”
“No, I’m not!” said Harry.
“ Are you mad?” said Ron, goggling at Hermione. “ Hand in something that
good?”
“ If I hand it in, I’ ll have to say where I got it ! Filch would know Fred and
George had nicked it!”
“ But what about Sirius Black?” Hermione hissed. “ He could be using one of the
passages on that map to get into the castle! The teachers have got to know!”
“ He can’ t be get t ing in through a passage,” said Harry quickly. “ There are
seven secret tunnels on the map, right? Fred and George reckon Filch already knows
about four of them. And of the other three – one of them’s caved in, so no one can get
through it . one of them’ s got the Whomping Willow planted over the ent rance, so you
can’ t get out of it . And the one I j ust came through – well – it ’ s really hard to see the
entrance to it down in the cellar, so unless he knew it was there…”
Harry hesistated. What if Black did know the passage was there?
Ron, however, cleared his throat significant ly, and pointed to a not ice pasted
on the inside of the sweetshop door.
–––––– BY ORDER OF THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC ––––––
Cust omers are reminded t hat unt il furt her not ice, Dement ors wil l be
pat rol ling the st reet s of Hogsmeade every night af t er sundown. This
measure has been put in place for t he safet y of Hogsmeade resident s
and wil l be l if t ed upon the recapt ure of Sirius Black. It is t herefore
advisable that you complete your shopping well before nightfall.
Merry Christmas!
“ See?” said Ron quiet ly. “ I’ d like to see Black t ry and break into Honeydukes
with Dementors swarming all over the village. Anyway, Hermione, the Honeydukes
owners would hear a break–in, wouldn’t they? They live over the shop!”
“ Yes, but but –” Hermoine seemed to be st ruggling to find another problem.
“ Look, Harry st ill shouldn’ t be coming into Hogsmeade. He hasn’ t got a signed form! If
anyone f inds out , he’ ll be in so much t rouble! And it ’ s not night fall yet –what if Sirius
Black turns up today? Now?”
“ He’ d have a j ob spot t ing Harry in this,” said Ron, nodding through the
mullioned windows at the thick, swirling snow. “ Come on, Hermione, it ’ s Christmas.
Harry deserves a break.”
Hermione bit her lip, looking extremely worried.
“Are you going to report me?” Harry asked her, grinning.
“Oh – of course not – but honestly, Harry –”
“ Seen the Fizzing Whizbees, Harry?” said Ron, grabbing him and leading him
over to their barrel. “ And the Jelly Slugs? And the Acid Pops? Fred gave me one of
those when I was seven – it burnt a hole right through my tongue. I remember Mum
walloping him with her broomst ick.” Ron stared broodingly into the Acid Pop box.
“Reckon Fred’d take a bit of Cockroach Cluster if I told him they were peanuts?”
When Ron and Hermione had paid for all their sweets, the three of them left
Honeydukes for the blizzard outside. Hogsmeade looked like a Christmas card; the
lit t le thatched cot tages and shops were all covered in a layer of crisp snow; there
were holly wreaths on the doors and strings of enchanted candles hanging in the trees.
Harry shivered; unlike the other two, he didn’ t have his cloak. They headed up
the st reet , heads bowed against the wind, Ron and Hermione shout ing through their
scarves.
“That’s the post office”
“Zonko’s is up there –”
“We could go up to the Shrieking Shack”
“ Tell you what ,” said Ron, his teeth chat tering, “ shall we go for a But terbeer
in the Three Broomsticks?”
Harry was more than willing; the wind was f ierce and his hands were freezing,
so they crossed the road, and in a few minutes were entering the t iny inn. It was
extremely crowded, noisy, warm, and smoky. A curvy sort of woman with a pretty face
was serving a bunch of rowdy warlock’ up at the bar.
“ That ’ s Madam Rosmerta,” said Ron. “ I’ ll get the drinks, shall I?” he added,
going slightly red.
Harry and Hermione made their way to the back of the room, there was a
small, vacant table between the window and a handsome Christmas t ree, which stood
next to the fireplace. Ron came back five minutes later, carrying three foaming
tankards of hot Butterbeer.
“Merry Christmas!” he said happily, raising his tankard.
Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he’ d ever tasted and
seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside. A sudden breeze ruff led his hair. The
door of the Three Broomst icks had opened again. Harry looked over the rim of his
tankard and choked.
Professors McGonagall and Flitwick had j ust entered the pub with a flurry of
snowflakes, short ly followed by Hagrid, who was deep in conversat ion with a port ly
man in a lime–green bowler hat and a pinst riped cloak – Cornelius Fudge, Minister of
Magic.
In an instant , Ron and Hermione had both placed hands on the top of Harry’ s
head and forced him off his stool and under the table. Dripping with But terbeer and
crouching out of sight , Harry clut ched his empty tankard and watched the teachers’
and Fudge’ s feet move toward the bar, pause, then turn and walk right toward him.
Somewhere above him, Hermione whispered, “Mobiliarbus!”
The Christmas t ree beside their table rose a few inches off the ground, drifted
sideways, and landed with a soft thump right in front of their table, hiding them f rom
view. Staring through the dense lower branches, Harry saw four sets of chair legs move
back from the table right beside theirs, then heard the grunts and sighs If the teachers
and minister as they sat down.
Next he saw another pair of feet , wearing sparkly turquoise high heels, and
heard a woman’s voice. “A small gillywater –”
“Mine,” said Professor McGonagall’s voice.
“Four pints of mulled mead –”
“Ta, Rosmerta,” said Hagrid.
“A cherry syrup and soda with ice and umbrella –”
“Mmm!” said Professor Flitwick, smacking his lips.
“So you’ll be the red currant rum, Minister.”
“ Thank you, Rosmerta, m’ dear,” said Fudge’ s voice. “ Lovely to see youagain, I
must say. Have one yourself, won’t you? Come and join us….”
“Well, thank you very much, Minister.”
Harry watched the glit tering heels march away and back again. His heart was
pounding uncomfortably in his throat . Why hadn’ t it occurred to him that this was the
last weekend of term for the teachers, too? And how long were they going to sit there?
He needed t ime to sneak back into Honeydukes if he wanted to return to school
tonight…. Hermione’s leg gave a nervous twitch next to him.
“ So, what brings you to this neck of the woods, Minister?” came Madam
Rosmerta’s voice.
Harry saw the lower part of Fudge’ s thick body twist in his chair as though he
were checking for eavesdroppers. Then he said in a quiet voice, “What else, m’ dear,
but Sirius Black? I daresay you heard what happened up at the school at Halloween?”
“I did hear a rumor,” admitted Madam Rosmerta.
“Did you tell the whole pub, Hagrid?” said Professor McGonagall exasperatedly.
“Do you think Blacks still in the area, Minister?” whispered Madam Rosmerta.
“I’m sure of it,” said Fudge shortly.
“ You know that the Dementors have searched the whole village twice?” said
Madam Rosmerta, a slight edge to her voice. “Scared all my customers away…It’s very
bad for business, Minister.”
“ Rosmerta, dear, I don’ t like them any more than you do,” said Fudge
uncomfortably. “ Necessary precaut ion… unfortunate, but there you are…. I’ ve j ust
met some of them. They’ re in a fury against Dumbledore – he won’ t let them inside
the castle grounds.”
“ I should think not ,” said Professor McGonagall sharply. “ How are we supposed
to teach with those horrors floating around?”
“ Hear, hear!” squeaked t iny Professor Flitwick, whose feet were dangling a
foot from the ground.
“ All the same,” demurred Fudge, “ they are here to protect you all from
something much worse…. We all know what Black’s capable of…”
“ Do you know, I st ill have t rouble believing it ,” said Madam Rosmerta
thought fully. “Of all the people to go over to the Dark Side, Sirius Black was the last
I’ d have thought … I mean, I remember him when he was a boy at Hogwarts. If you’ d
told me then what he was going to become, I’d have said you’d had too much mead.”
“ You don’ t know the half of it , Rosmerta,” said Fudge gruffly. “ The worst he
did isn’t widely known.”
“The worst?” said Madam Rosmerta, her voice alive with curiosity, “Worse than
murdering all those poor people, you mean?”
“I certainly do,” said Fudge.
“I can’t believe that. What could possibly be worse?”
“ You say you remember him at Hogwarts, Rosmerta,” murmured Professor
McGonagall. “Do you remember who his–best friend was?”
“Naturally,” said Madam Rosmerta, with a small laugh. “Never saw one without
the other, did you? The number of t imes I had them in here – ooh, they used to make
me laugh. Quite the double act, Sirius Black and James Potter!”
Harry dropped his tankard with a loud clunk. Ron kicked him.
“ Precisely,” said Professor McGonagall. “ Black and Pot ter. Ringleaders of their
little gang. Both very bright, of course – exceptionally bright, in fact – but I don’t think
we’ve ever had such a pair of troublemakers –”
“I dunno,” chuckled Hagrid. “Fred and George Weasley could give ‘em a run fer
their money.”
“ You’ d have thought Black and Pot ter were brothers!” chimed in Professor
Flitwick. “Inseparable!”
“Of course they were,” said Fudge. “ Pot ter t rusted Black beyond all his other
friends. Nothing changed when they left school. Black was best man when James
married Lily. Then they named him godfather to Harry. Harry has no idea, of course.
You can imagine how the idea would torment him.”
“ Because Black turned out to be in league with You–Know–Who?” whispered
Madam Rosmerta.
“Worse even than that , rn’ dear.. ..” Fudge dropped his voice and proceeded in a sort
of low rumble. “ Not many people are aware that the Pot ters knew You–Know–Who was
after them. Dumbledore, who was of course working t irelessly against You–Know–Who,
had a number of useful spies. One of them t ipped him off, and he alerted James and
Lily at once. He advised them to go into hiding. Well, of course, You–Know–Who wasn’t
an easy person to hide f rom. Dumbledore told them that their best chance was the
Fidelius Charm.”
“ How does that work?” said Madam Rosmerta, breathless with interest .
Professor Flitwick cleared his throat.
“ An immensely complex spell,” he said squeakily, “ involving the magical
concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul. The informat ion is hidden inside
the chosen person, or Secret–Keeper, and is henceforth impossible to find – unless, of
course, the Secret–Keeper chooses to divulge it . As long as the Secret–Keeper refused
to speak, You–Know–Who could search the village where Lily and James were staying
for years and never find them, not even if he had his nose pressed against their sit t ing
room window!”
“So Black was the Potters’ Secret–Keeper?” whispered Madam Rosmerta.
“ Naturally,” said Professor McGonagall. “ James Pot ter told Dumbledore that
Black would die rather than tell where they were, that Black was planning to go into
hiding himself… and yet , Dumbledore remained worried. I remember him offering to
be the Potters’ Secret–Keeper himself.”
“He suspected Black?” gasped Madam Rosmerta.
“ He was sure that somebody close to the Pot ters had been keeping You–Know–
Who informed of their movements,” said Professor McGonagall darkly. “Indeed, he had
suspected for some t ime that someone on our side had turned t raitor and was passing
a lot of information to You–Know–Who.”
“But James Potter insisted on using Black?”
“ He did,” said Fudge heavily. “ And then, barely a week after the Fidelius
Charm had been performed –” “Black betrayed them?” breathed Madam Rosmerta.
“ He did indeed. Black was t ired of his double–agent role, he was ready to
declare his support openly for You–Know–Who, and he seems to have planned this for
the moment of the Pot ters’ death. But , as we all know, You–Know–Who met his
downfall in lit t le Harry Pot ter. Powers gone, horribly weakened, he fled. And this left
Black in a very nasty posit ion indeed. His master had fallen at the very moment when
he, Black, had shown his true colors as a traitor. He had no choice but to run for it –”
“Filthy, stinkin’ turncoat!” Hagrid said, so loudly that half the bar went quiet.
“Shh!” said Professor McGonagall.
“ I met him!” growled Hagrid. “ I musta bin the last ter see him before he killed
all them people! It was me what rescued Harry from Lily an’ James’ s house af ter they
was killed! j us’ got him out ta the ruins, poor lit t le thing, with a great slash across his
forehead, an’ his parents dead… an’ Sirius Black turns up, on that flyin’ motorbike he
used ter ride. Never occurred ter me what he was doin’ there. I didn’ know he’ d bin
Lily an’ James’ s Secret–Keeper. Thought he’ d j us’ heard the news o’ You–Know–Who’s
at tack an’ come ter see what he could do. White an’ shakin’ , he was. An’ yeh know
what I did? I COMFORTED THE MURDERIN’ TRAITOR!” Hagrid roared.
“Hagrid, please!” said Professor McGonagall. “Keep your voice down!”
“ How was I ter know he wasn’ upset abou’ Lily an’ James? It was You–Know–
Who he cared abou’ ! An’ then he says, ‘Give Harry ter me, Hagrid, I’m his godfather,
I’ ll look after him –’ Ha! But I’ d had me orders from Dumbledore, an’ I told Black no,
Dumbledore said Harry was ter go ter his aunt an’ uncle’ s. Black argued, but in the
end he gave in. Told me ter take his motorbike ter get Harry there. ‘ I won’ t need it
anymore,’ he says.
“ I shoulda known there was somethin’ fishy goin’ on then. He loved that
motorbike, what was he givin’ it ter me for?Why wouldn’ he need it anymore? Fact
was, it was too easy ter t race. Dumbledore knew he’ d bin the Pot ters’ Secret–Keeper.
Black knew he was goin’ ter have ter run fer it that night , knew it was a mat ter o’
hours before the Ministry was after him.
“ But what if I’ d given Harry to him, eh? I bet he’ d ‘ ve pit ched him of f the bike
halfway out ter sea. His bes’ friends’ son! But when a wizard goes over ter the Dark
Side, there’s nothin’ and no one that matters to em anymore….”
A long silence followed Hagrid’ s story. Then Madam Rosmerta said with some
sat isfact ion, “ But he didn’ t manage to disappear, did he?The Minist ry of Magic caught
up with him next day!”
“ Alas, if only we had,” said Fudge bit terly. “ It was not we who found him. It
was lit t le Peter Pet t igrew – another of the Pot ters’ friends. Maddened by grief, no
doubt , and knowing that Black had been the Pot ters’ Secret–Keeper, he went after
Black himself.”
“ Pet t igrew… that fat lit t le boy who was always tagging around after them at
Hogwarts?” said Madam Rosmerta.
“Hero–worshipped Black and Pot ter,” said Professor McGonagall. “ Never quite
in their league, talent–wise. I was often rather sharp with him. You can imagine how I
–how I regret that now…” She sounded as though she had a sudden head cold.
“ There, now, Minerva,” said Fudge kindly, “ Pet t igrew died a hero’ s death.
Eyewitnesses – Muggles, of course, we wiped their, memories later – told us how
Pet t igrew cornered Black. They say he was sobbing, ‘ Lily and James, Sirius! How could
you?’ And then he went for his wand. Well, of course, Black was quicker. Blew
Pettigrew to smithereens….”
Professor McGonagall blew her nose and said thickly, “ Stupid boy … foolish
boy… he was always hopeless at dueling… should have left it to the Ministry….”
“ I tell yeh, if I’ d got ter Black before lit t le Pet t igrew did, I wouldn’ t ‘ ve
messed around with wands – I’d ‘ve ripped him limb – from – limb,” Hagrid growled.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Hagrid,” said Fudge sharply.
“ Nobody but t rained Hit Wizards from the Magical Law Enforcement Squad
would have stood a chance against Black once he was cornered. I was Junior Minister
in the Department of Magical Catast rophes at the t ime, and I was one of the first on
the scene after Black murdered all those people. I – I will never forget it . I st ill dream
about it somet imes. A crater in the middle of the st reet , so deep it had cracked the
sewer below. Bodies everywhere. Muggles screaming. And Black standing there
laughing, with what was left of Pet t igrew in front of him… a heap of bloodstained
robes and a few – a few fragments –”
Fudge’s voice stopped abruptly. There was the sound of five noses being blown.
“Well, there you have it, Rosmerta,” said Fudge thickly. “Black was taken away
by twenty members of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad and Pettigrew received the
Order of Merlin, First Class, which I think was some comfort to his poor mother.
Black’s been in Azkaban ever since.”
Madam Rosmerta let out a long sigh.
“Is it true he’s mad, Minister?”
“ I wish I could say that he was,” said Fudge slowly. “ I certainly believe his
master’ s defeat unhinged him for a while. The murder of Pet t igrew and all those
Muggles was the action of a cornered and desperate man –cruel… point less. Yet I met
Black on my last inspect ion of Azkaban. You know, most of the prisoners in there sit
mut tering to themselves in the dark; there’ s no sense in them… but I was shocked at
how normal Black seemed. He spoke quite rat ionally to me. It was unnerving. You’ d
have thought he was merely bored – asked if I’ d f inished with my newspaper, cool as
you please, said he missed doing the crossword. Yes, I was astounded at how lit t le
ef fect the Dementors seemed to be having on him – and he was one of the most
heavily guarded in the place, you know. Dementors outside his door day and night.”
“ But what do you think he’ s broken out to do?” said Madam Rosmerta. “ Good
gracious, Minister, he isn’t trying to rejoin You–Know–Who, is he?”
“I daresay that is his – er – eventual plan,” said Fudge evasively.
“ But we hope to catch Black long before that . I must say, You–Know–Who alone
and friendless is one thing… but give him back his most devoted servant , and I
shudder to think how quickly he’ll rise again….”
There was a small chink of glass on wood. Someone had set down their glass.
“ You know, Cornelius, if you’ re dining with the headmaster, he’ d bet ter head
back up to the castle,” said Professor McGonagall.
One by one, the pairs of feet in front of Harry took the weight of their owners
once more; hems of cloaks swung into sight , and Madam Rosemerta’ s glit tering heels
disappeared behind the bar. The door of the Three Broomst icks opened again, there
was another flurry of snow, and the teachers had disappeared.
“Harry?”
Ron’ s and Hermione’ s faces appeared under the table. They were both staring
at him, lost for words.
CHAPTER ELEVEN – THE FIREBOLT
Harry didn’t have a very clear idea of how he had managed to get back into the
Honeydukes cellar, through the tunnel, and into the cast le once more. All he knew
was that the return t rip seemed to take no t ime at all, and that he hardly not iced
what he was doing, because his head was st ill pounding with the conversat ion he had
just heard.
Why had nobody ever told him? Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley, Cornelius
Fudge… why hadn’ t anyone ever ment ioned the fact that Harry’ s parents had died
because their best friend had bet rayed them? Ron and Hermione watched Harry
nervously all through dint ier, not daring to talk about what they’ d overheard, because
Percy was sit t ing close by them. When they went upstairs to the crowded common
room, it was to find Fred and George had set off half a dozen Dungbombs in a fit of
end– of–term high spirits. Harry, who didn’ t want Fred and George asking him whether
he’ d reached Hogsmeade or not , sneaked quiet ly up to the empty dormitory and
headed st raight for his bedside cabinet . He pushed his books aside and quickly found
what he was looking for – the leather–bound photo album Hagrid had given him two
years ago, which was full of wizard pictures of his mother and father. He sat down on
his bed, drew the hangings around him, and started turning the pages, searching,
until…
He stopped on a picture of his parents’ wedding day. There was his father
waving up at him, beaming, the untidy black hair Harry had inherited standing up in all
direct ions. There was his mother, alight with happiness, arm in arm with his dad. And
there … that must be him. Their best man… Harry had never given him a thought
before.
If he hadn’t known it was the same person, he would never have guessed it was
Black in this old photograph. His face wasn’ t sunken and waxy, but handsome, full of
laughter. Had he already been working for Voldemort when this picture had been
taken? Was he already planning the deaths of the two people next to him? Did he
realize he was facing twelve years in Azkaban, twelve years that would make him
unrecognizable? But the Dementors don’ t af fect him, Harry thought , staring into the
handsome, laughing face. He doesn’ t have to hear my Min screaming if they get too
close –
Harry slammed the album shut , reached over and stuffed it back into his
cabinet , took off his robe and glasses and got into bed, making sure the hangings were
hiding him from view.
The dormitory door opened.
“Harry?” said Ron’s voice uncertainly.
But Harry st ill, pretending to be asleep. He heard Ron leave again, and rolled
over on his back, his eyes wide open.
A hat red such as he had never known before was coursing through Harry like
poison. He could see Black laughing at him through the darkness, as though somebody
had pasted the picture from the album over his eyes. He watched, as though
somebody was playing him a piece of film, Sirius Black blast ing Peter Pet t igrew (who
resembled Neville Longbot tom) into a thousand pieces. He could hear (though having
no idea what Black’ s voice might sound like) a low, excited mut ter. “ It has happened,
My Lord… the Pot ters have made me their Secret–Keeper and then came another
voice, laughing shrilly, the same laugh that Harry heard inside his head whenever the
Dementors drew near….
“Harry, you – you look terrible.”
Harry hadn’ t got ten to sleep unt il daybreak. He had awoken to find the
dormitory deserted, dressed, and gone down the spiral staircase to a common room
that was completely empty except for Ron, who was eat ing a Peppermint Toad and
massaging his stomach, and Hermione, who had spread her homework over three
tables.
“Where is everyone?” said Harry.
“Gone! It ’ s the f irst day of the holidays, remember?” said Ron, watching Harry
closely. “It’s nearly lunchtime; I was going to come and wake you up in a minute.”
Harry slumped into a chair next to the fire. Snow was st ill falling outside the
windows. Crookshanks was spread out in front of the fire like a large, ginger rug.
“ You really don’ look well, you know,” Hermione said, peering anxiously into
his face.
“I’m fine,” said Harry.
“ Harry, listen,” said Hermione, exchanging a look with Ron, you must be really
upset about what we heard yesterday. But the thing is, you mustn’ t go doing anything
stupid.”
“Like what?” said Harry.
“Like trying to go after Black,” said Ron sharply.
Harry could tell they had rehearsed this conversation while he had been asleep.
He didn’t say anything.
“You won’t, will you, Harry?” said Hermione.
“Because Black’s not worth dying for,” said Ron.
Harry looked at them. They didn’t seem to understand at all.
“ D’ you know what I see and hear every t ime a Dementor gets too near me?”
Ron and Hermione shook their heads, looking apprehensive. “ I can hear my mum
screaming and pleading with Voldemort . And if you’ d heard your mum screaming like
that , j ust about to be killed, you wouldn’ t forget it in a hurry. And if you found out
someone who was supposed to be a friend of hers bet rayed her and sent Voldemort
after her –”
“ There’ s nothing you can do!” said Hermione, looking st ricken. “ The
Dementors will catch Black and he’ll go back to Azkaban and – and serve him right!”
“ You heard what Fudge said. Black isn’ t affected by Azkaban like normal
people are. It’s not a punishment for him like it is for the others.”
“ So what are you saying?” said Ron, looking very tense. “ You want to – to kill
Black or something?”
“ Don’ t be silly,” said Hermione in a panicky voice. “ Harry doesn’ t want to kill
anyone, do you, Harry?”
Again, Harry didn’ t answer. He didn’ t know what he wanted to do. All he knew
was that the idea of doing nothing, while Black was at liberty, was almost more than
he could stand.
“Malfoy knows,” he said abrupt ly. “ Remember what he said to me in Pot ions?
‘If it was me, I’d hunt him down myself… I’d want revenge.”
“ You’ re going to take Malfoy’ s advice instead of ours?” said Ron furiously.
“ Listen… you know what Pet t igrew’ s mother got back after Black had finished with
him? Dad told me – the Order of Merlin, First Class, and Pet t igrew’ s finger in a box.
That was the biggest bit of him they could find. Black’ s a madman, Harry, and he’ s
dangerous –”
“Malfoy’ s dad must have told him,” said Harry, ignoring Ron. “ He was right in
Voldemort’s inner circle –”
“Say You–Know–Who, will you?” interjected Ron angrily.
“ – so obviously, the Malfoys knew Black was working for Voldemort –”
“ – and Malfoy’ d love to see you blown into about a million pieces, like
Pet t igrew! Get a grip. Malfoy’ s j ust hoping you’ ll get Yourself killed before he has to
play you at Quidditch.”
“ Harry, please,” said Hermione, her eyes now shining with tears, “ Please be
sensible. Black did a terrible, terrible thing, but d–don’ t put yourself in danger, it ’ s
what Black wants…. Oh, Harry, you’ d be Playing right into Black’ s hands if you went
looking for him. Your mum and dad wouldn’t want you to get hurt, would they? They’d
never want you to go looking for Black!”
“ I’ ll never know what they’ d have wanted, because thanks to Black, I’ ve never
spoken to them,” said Harry shortly.
There was a silence in which Crookshanks st retched luxuriously f lexing his
claws. Ron’s pocket quivered.
“ Look,” said Ron, obviously cast ing around for a change of subj ect , “ it ’ s the
holidays! It ’ s nearly Christmas! Let ’ s – let ’ s go down and see Hagrid. We haven’ t
visited him for ages!”
“No!” said Hermione quickly. “Harry isn’t supposed to leave the castle, Ron –”
“ Yeah, let ’ s go,” said Harry, sit t ing up, “ and I can ask him how come he never
mentioned Black when he told me all about my parents!”
Further discussion of Sirius Black plainly wasn’t what Ron had had in mind.
“Or we could have a game of chess, he said hast ily, “ or Gobstones. Percy lef t a
set –”
“No, let’s visit Hagrid,” said Harry firmly.
So they got their cloaks from their dormitories and set off through the port rait
hole (“Stand and fight, you yellow–bellied mongrels!”), down through the empty castle
and out through the oak front doors. They made their way slowly down the lawn,
making a shallow t rench in the glit tering, powdery snow, their socks and the hems of
their cloaks soaked and freezing. The Forbidden Forest looked as though it had been
enchanted, each t ree smat tered with silver, and Hagrid’ s cabin looked like an iced
cake.
Ron knocked, but there was no answer.
“He’s not out, is he?” said Hermione, who was shivering under her cloak.
Ron had his ear to the door. “ There’ s a weird noise,” he said. “ Listen – is that
Fang?”
Harry and Hermione put their ears to the door too. From inside the cabin came
a series of low, throbbing moans.
“Think we’d better go and get someone?” said Ron nervously.
“Hagrid!” called Harry, thumping the door. “Hagrid, are you in there.
There was a sound of heavy footsteps, then the door creaked open. Hagrid
stood there with his eyes red and swollen, tears splashing down the front of his leather
vest.
“You heard?” he bellowed, and he flung himself onto Harry’s neck.
Hagrid being at least twice the size of a normal man, this was no laughing
mat ter. Harry, about to collapse under Hagrid’ s weight , was rescued by Ron and
Hermione, who each seized Hagrid under an arm and heaved him back into the cabin.
Hagrid allowed himself to be steered into a chair and slumped over the table, sobbing
uncont rollably, his face glazed with tears that dripped down into his tangled beard.
“Hagrid, what is it?” said Hermione, aghast.
Harry spot ted an off icial–looking let ter lying open on the table. “What ’ s this,
Hagrid?”
Hagrid’ s sobs redoubled, but he shoved the let ter toward Harry, who picked it
up and read aloud:
Dear Mr. Hagrid,
Furt her t o our inquiry int o t he at t ack by a Hippogrif f on a
st udent in your class, we have accept ed t he assurances of Professor
Dumbledore t hat you bear no responsibil it y for t he regret t able
incident.
“Well, that ’ s okay then, Hagrid!” said Ron, clapping Hagrid oil the shoulder.
But Hagrid cont inued to sob, and waved one of his gigant ic hands, invit ing Harry to
read on.
However, we must regist er our concern about t he Hippogrif f in
quest ion. We have decided to uphold t he of f icial complaint of Mr.
Lucius Mal foy, and t his mat t er wil l t herefore be taken t o the
Commit t ee for t he Disposal of Dangerous Creat ures. The hearing wil l
t ake place on April 20t h, and we ask you t o present yoursel f and your
Hippogrif f at t he Commit t ee’ s of f ices in London on t hat dat e. In t he
meantime, the Hippogriff should be kept tethered and isolated.
Yours in fellowship…
There followed a list of the school governors.
“Oh,” said Ron. “ But you said Buckbeak isn’ t a bad Hippogriff, Hagrid. I bet
he’ll get off
“Yeh don’ know them gargoyles at the Committee fer the Disposal o’ Dangerous
Creatures!” choked Hagrid, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. “ They’ ve got it in fer
interestin’ creatures!”
A sudden sound from the corner of Hagrid’ s cabin made Harry, Ron, and
Hermione whip around. Buckbeak the Hippogriff was lying in the corner, chomping on
something that was oozing blood all over the floor.
“ I couldn’ leave him t ied up out there in the snow!” choked Hagrid. “ All on his
own! At Christmas.”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another. They had never seen eye to
eye with Hagrid about what he called “ interest ing creatures” and other people called
“terrifying monsters.” Or’ the other hand, there didn’t seem to be any particular harm
in Buckbeak. In fact, by Hagrid’s usual standards, he was positively cute.
“ You’ ll have to put up a good st rong defense, Hagrid,” said Hermione, sit t ing
down and laying a hand on Hagrid’ s massive forearm. “ I’m sure you can prove
Buckbeak is safe.”
“Won’ t make no diff ’ rence!” sobbed Hagrid. “ Them disposal devils, they’ re all
in Lucius Malfoy’s pocket! Scared o’ him! Ad if I lose the case, Buckbeak –”
Hagrid drew his finger swift ly across his throat , then gave a great wail and
lurched forward, his face in his arms.
“What about Dumbledore, Hagrid?” said Harry.
“ He’ s done more’ n enough fer me already,” groaned Hagrid. “Got enough on
his plate what with keepin’ them Dementors out ta the cast le, an’ Sirius Black lurkin’
around –”
Ron and Hermione looked quickly at Harry, as though expect ing him to start
berat ing Hagrid for not telling him the t ruth about Black. But Harry couldn’ t bring
himself to do it, not now that he saw Hagrid so miserable and scared.
“Listen, Hagrid,” he said, “you can’t give up. Hermione’s right, You just need a
good defense. You can call us as witnesses –”
“ I’m sure I’ ve read about a case of Hippogriff–bait ing,” said Hermione
thought fully, “ where the Hippogriff got off I’ ll look it up for you, Hagrid, and see
exactly what happened.”
Hagrid howled st ill more loudly. Harry and Hermione looked at Ron to help
them.
“Er – shall I make a cup of tea?” said Ron.
Harry stared at him.
“ It ’ s what my mum does whenever someone’ s upset ,” Ron mut tered,
shrugging.
At last , af ter many more assurances of help, with a steaming mug of tea in
front of him, Hagrid blew his nose on a handkerchief the size of a tablecloth and said,
“Yer right. I can’ afford to go ter pieces. Gotta pull meself together…”
Fang the boarhound came timidly out from under the table and laid his head on
Hagrid’s knee.
“ I’ ve not bin meself lately,” said Hagrid, st roking Fang with one hand and
mopping his face with the other. “Worried abou’ Buckbeak, an’ no one likin’ me
classes –”
“We do like them!” lied Hermione at once.
“ Yeah, they’ re great !” said Ron, crossing his fingers under the table. “ Er – how
are the flobberworms?”
“Dead,” said Hagrid gloomily. “Too much lettuce.”
“Oh no!” said Ron, his lip twitching.
“ An’ them Dementors make me feel ruddy terrible an’ all,” said Hagrid, with a
sudden shudder. “ Got ta walk past ‘ em ev’ ry t ime I want a drink in the Three
Broomsticks. ‘S like bein’ back in Azkaban –”
He fell silent , gulping his tea. Harry, Ron, and Hermione watched him
breathlessly. They had never heard Hagrid talk about his brief spell in Azkaban before.
After a pause, Hermione said timidly, “Is it awful in there, Hagrid?”
“ Yeh’ ve no idea,” said Hagrid quiet ly. “ Never bin anywhere like it . Thought I
was goin’ mad. Kep’ goin’ over horrible stuff in me mind… the day I got expelled from
Hogwarts… day me dad died… day I had ter let Norbert go….”
His eyes filled with tears. Norbert was the baby dragon Hagrid had once won in
a game of cards.
“ Yeh can’ really remember who yeh are after a while. An’ yeh can’ really see
the point o’ livin’ at all. I used ter hope I’ d j us’ die in me sleep. When they let me
out , it was like bein’ born again, ev’ rythin’ I came floodin’ back, it was the bes’
feelin’ in the world. Mind the Dementors weren’t keen on lettin’ me go.”
“But you were innocent!” said Hermione.
Hagrid snorted. “ Think that mat ters to them? They don’ care. Long as they’ ve
got a couple o’ hundred humans stuck there with ‘ em, so they can leech all the
happiness out of ‘em, they don’ give a damn who’s guilty an’ who’s not.”
Hagrid went quiet for a moment , staring into his tea. Then he said quiet ly,
“ Thought o’ j us’ let t ing Buckbeak go… t ryin’ ter make him fly away… but how d’ yeh
explain ter a Hippogriff it ’ s got ta go inter hidin’ ? An’ –an’ I’m scared o’ breakin’ the
law….” He looked up at them, tears leaking down his face again. “ I don’ ever want
ter go back ter Azkaban.”
The t rip to Hagrid’ s, though far from fun, had nevertheless had the effect Ron
and Hermione had hoped. Though Harry had by no means forgot ten about Black, he
couldn’ t brood constant ly on revenge if he wanted to help Hagrid win his case against
the Commit tee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. He, Ron, and Hermione went
to the library the next day and returned to the empty common room laden with books
that might help prepare a defense for Buckbeak. The three of them sat in front of the
roaring fire, slowly turning the pages of dusty volumes about famous cases If
marauding beasts, speaking occasionally when they ran across something relevant.
“ Here’ s something… there was a case in 1722… but the Hippogriff was
convicted – ugh, look what they did to it, that’s disgusting –”
“This might help, look – a manticore savaged someone in 1296, and they let the
manticore off – oh – no, that was only because everyone was too scared to go near it.”
Meanwhile, in the rest of the cast le, the usual magnificent Christmas
decorat ions had been put up, despite the fact that hardly any of the students
remained to enj oy them. Thick st reamers of holly and mist letoe were st rung along the
corridors, mysterious lights shone from inside every suit of armor, and the Great Hall
was filled with its usual twelve Christmas t rees, glit tering with golden stars. A
powerful and delicious smell of cooking pervaded the corridors, and by Christmas Eve,
it had grown so st rong that even Scabbers poked his nose out of the shelter of Ron’ s
pocket to sniff hopefully at the air.
On Christmas morning, Harry was woken by Ron throwing his pillow at him.
“Oy! Presents!”
Harry reached for his glasses and put them on, squint ing through the semi–
darkness to the foot of his bed, where a small heap of parcels had appeared. Ron was
already ripping the paper off his own presents.
“Another sweater from Mum… maroon again… see if you’ve got one.”
Harry had. Mrs. Weasley had sent him a scarlet sweater with the Gryffindor lion
knitted on the front, also a dozen home–baked mince pies, some Christmas cake, and a
box of nut brit t le. As he moved all these things aside, he saw a long, thin package
lying underneath.
“What ’ s that?” said Ron, looking over, a freshly unwrapped pair of maroon
socks in his hand.
“Dunno…”
Harry ripped the parcel open and gasped as a magnificent , gleaming roomst ick
rolled out onto his bedspread. Ron dropped his socks and umped off his bed for a
closer look.
“I don’t believe it,” he said hoarsely.
It was a Firebolt , ident ical to the dream broom Harry had gone to see very day
in Diagon Alley. Its handle glittered as he picked it up. He ould feel it vibrating and let
go; it hung in midair, unsupported, at xact ly the right height for him to mount it . His
eyes moved from the golden regist rat ion number at the top of the handle, right down
to the perfectly smooth, streamlined birch twigs that made up the tail.
“Who sent it to you?” said Ron in a hushed voice.
“Look and see if there’s a card,” said Harry.
Ron ripped apart the Firebolt’s wrappings.
“Nothing! Blimey, who’d spend that much on you?”
“Well,” said Harry, feeling stunned, “I’m betting it wasn’t the Dursleys.”
“ I bet it was Dumbledore,” said Ron, now walking around and around the
Firebolt , taking in every glorious inch. “ He sent you the Invisibility Cloak
anonymously….”
“ That was my dad’ s, though,” said Harry. “ Dumbledore was j ust passing it on
to me. He wouldn’ t spend hundreds of Galleons on me. He can’ t go giving students
stuff like this –”
“ That ’ s why he wouldn’ t say it was from him!” said Ron. “ In case some git like
Malfoy said it was favorit ism. Hey, Harry” – Ron gave a great whoop of laughter –
“Malfoy! Wait t ill he sees you on this! He’ ll be sick as a pig! This is an internat ional
standard broom, this is!”
“I can’t believe this,” Harry muttered, running a hand along the Firebolt, while
Ron sank onto Harry’s bed, laughing his head off at the thought of Malfoy. “Who –?”
“I know,” said Ron, controlling himself, “I know who it could’ve been – Lupin!”
“What?” said Harry, now start ing to laugh himself “ Lupin? Listen, if he had this
much gold, he’d be able to buy himself some new robes.”
“ Yeah, but he likes you,” said Ron. “ And he was away when your Nimbus got
smashed, and he might’ve heard about it and decided to visit Diagon Alley and get this
for you –”
“What d’you mean, he was away?” said Harry. “He was ill when I was playing in
that match.”
“Well, he wasn’t in the hospital wing,” said Ron. “I was there, cleaning out the
bedpans on that detention from Snape, remember?”
Harry frowned at Ron.
“I can’t see Lupin affording something like this.”
“What’re you two laughing about?”
Hermione had j ust come in, wearing her dressing gown and carrying
Crookshanks, who was looking very grumpy, with a st ring of t insel t ied around his
neck.
“ Don’ t bring him in here!” said Ron, hurriedly snatching Scabbers from the
depths of his bed and stowing him in his paj ama pocket . But Hermione wasn’ t
listening. She dropped Crookshanks onto Seamus’ s empty bed and stared, open–
mouthed, at the Firebolt.
“Oh, Harry! Who sent you that?”
“No idea,” said Harry. “There wasn’t a card or anything with it.”
To his great surprise, Hermione did not appear either excited or int rigued by
the news. On the contrary, her face fell, and she bit her lip.
“What’s the matter with you?” said Ron.
“ I don’ t know,” said Hermione slowly, “ but it ’ s a bit odd, isn’ t it? I mean, this
is supposed to be quite a good broom, isn’t it?”
Ron sighed exasperatedly.
“It’s the best broom there is, Hermione,” he said.
“So it must’ve been really expensive….”
“ Probably cost more than all the Slytherins’ brooms put together,” said Ron
happily.
“Well… who’ d send Harry something as expensive as that , and not even tell
him they’d sent it?” said Hermione.
“Who cares?” said Ron impat ient ly. “ Listen, Harry, can I have a go on it? Can
I?”
“I don’t think anyone should ride that broom just yet!” said Hermione shrilly.
Harry and Ron looked at her.
“What d’you think Harry’s going to do with it – sweep the floor?” said Ron.
But before Hermione could answer, Crookshanks sprang from Seamus’ s bed,
right at Ron’s chest.
“GET – HIM – OUT – OF – HERE!” Ron bellowed as Crookshanks’s claws ripped his
paj amas and Scabbers at tempted a wild escape over his shoulder. Ron seized Scabbers
by the tail and aimed a misj udged kick at Crookshanks that hit the t runk at the end of
Harry’s bed, knocking it over and causing Ron to hop up and down, howling with pain.
Crookshanks’ s fur suddenly stood on end. A shrill, t int , whist ling was f illing the
room. The Pocket Sneakoscope had become dislodged from Uncle Vernon’ s old socks
and was whirling and gleaming on the floor.
“ I forgot about that !” Harry said, bending down and picking up the
Sneakoscope. “I never wear those socks if I can help it….”
The Sneakoscope whirled and whistled in his palm. Crookshanks was hissing and
spitting at it.
“ You’ d bet ter take that cat out of here, Hermione,” said Ron furiously, sit t ing
on Harry’ s bed nursing his toe. “ Can’ t you shut that thing up?” he added to Harry as
Hermione st rode out of the room, Crookshanks’ s yellow eyes st ill fixed maliciously on
Ron.
Harry stuffed the Sneakoscope back inside the socks and threw it back into his
t runk. All that could be heard now were Ron’ s st ifled moans of pain and rage.
Scabbers was huddled in Ron’s hands. It had been a while since Harry had seen him out
of Ron’ s pocket , and he was unpleasant ly surprised to see that Scabbers, once so fat ,
was now very skinny; patches of fur seemed to have fallen out too
“He’s not looking too good, is he?” Harry said.
“It’s stress!” said Ron. “He’d be fine if that big stupid furball left him alone!”
But Harry, remembering what the woman at the Magical Menagerie had said
about rats living only three years, couldn’ t help feeling that unless Scabbers had
powers he had never revealed, he was reaching the end of his life. And despite Ron’ s
frequent conplaints that Scabbers was both boring and useless, he was sure Ron would
be very miserable if Scabbers died.
Christmas spirit was definitely thin on the ground in the Gryffindor common
room that morning. Hermione had shut Crookshanks in her dormitory, but was furious
with Ron for t rying to kick him; Ron was st ill fuming about Crookshanks’ s fresh
at tempt to eat Scabbers. Harry gave up t rying to make them talk to each other and
devoted himself to examining the Firebolt, which he had brought down to the common
room with him. For some reason this seemed to annoy Hermione as well; she didn’ t
say anything, but she kept looking darkly at the broom as though it too had been
criticizing her cat.
At luncht ime they went down to the Great Hall, to find that the House tables
had been moved against the walls again, and that a single table, set for twelve, stood
in the middle of the room. Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape, Sprout , and
Flitwick were there, along with Filch, the caretaker, who had taken off his usual
brown coat and was wearing a very old and rather moldy– looking tailcoat . There were
only three other students, two ext remely nervous–looking first years and a sullen–
faced Slytherin fifth year.
“Merry Christmas!” said Dumbledore as Harry, Ron, and Hermione approached
the table. “ As there are so few of us, it seemed foolish to use the House tables…. Sit
down, sit down!”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat down side by side at the end of the table.
“ Crackers!” said Dumbledore enthusiast ically, offering the end of a large silver
noisemaker to Snape, who took it reluctant ly and tugged. With a bang like a gunshot ,
the cracker flew apart to reveal a large, pointed witchs hat topped with a stuffed
vulture.
Harry, remembering the Boggart , caught Ron’ s eye and they both grinned;
Snape’s mouth thinned and he pushed the hat toward Dumbledore, who swapped it for
his wizard’s hat at once.
“Dig in!” he advised the table, beaming around.
As Harry was helping himself to roast potatoes, the doors of the Great Hall
opened again. It was Professor Trelawney, gliding toward them as though on wheels.
She had put on a green sequined dress in honor of the occasion, making her look more
than ever like a glittering, oversized dragonfly.
“Sibyll, this is a pleasant surprise!” said Dumbledore, standing up.
“ I have been crystal gazing, Headmaster,” said Professor Trelawney in her
mist iest , most faraway voice, “ and to my astonishment , I saw myself abandoning my
solitary luncheon and coming to j oin you. Who am I to refuse the prompt ings of fate? I
at once hastened from my tower, and I do beg you to forgive my lateness….”
“ Certainly, certainly,” said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling. “ Let me draw you
up a chair –”
And he did indeed draw a chair in midair with his wand, which revolved for a
few seconds before falling with a thud between Professors Snape and McGonagall.
Professor Trelawney, however, did not sit down; her enormous eyes had been roving
around the table, and she suddenly uttered a kind of soft scream.
“I dare not, Headmaster! If I join the table, we shall be thirteen! Nothing could
be more unlucky! Never forget that when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will
be the first to die!”
“We’ ll risk it , Sibyll,” said Professor McGonagall inpat iendy. “ Do sit down, the
turkey’s getting stone cold.”
Professor Trelawney hesitated, then lowered herself into the empty chair, eyes
shut and mouth clenched t ight , as though expect ing a thunderbolt to hit the table.
Professor McGonagall poked a large spoon into the nearest tureen.
“Tripe, Sibyll?”
Professor Trelawney ignored her. Eyes open again, she looked around once
more and said, “But where is dear Professor Lupin?”
“ I’m afraid the poor fellow is ill again,” said Dumbledore, indicat ing that
everybody should start serving themselves. “Most unfortunate that it should happen on
Christmas Day.”
“ But surely you already knew that , Sibyll?” said Professor McGonagall, her
eyebrows raised.
Professor Trelawney gave Professor McGonagall a very cold look. “ Certainly I
knew, Minerva,” she said quiet ly. “ But one does not parade the fact that one is All–
Knowing. I f requent ly act as though I am not possessed of the Inner Eye, so as not to
make others nervous.”
“That explains a great deal,” said Professor McGonagall tartly.
Professor Trelawney’s voice suddenly became a good deal less misty.
“ If you must know, Minerva, I have seen that poor Professor Lupin will not be
with us for very long. He seems aware, himself, that his t ime is short . He posit ively
fled when I offered to crystal gaze for him –”
“Imagine that,” said Professor McGonagall dryly.
“ I doubt ,” said Dumbledore, in a cheerful but slight ly raised voice, which put
an end to Professor McGonagall and Professor Trelawney’ s conversat ion, “ that
Professor Lupin is in any immediate danger. Severus, you’ ve made the pot ion for him
again?”
“Yes, Headmaster,” said Snape.
“Very well,” said Dumbledore. “Then he’ll be fine in no time… Derek, have you
tried this chipolata? Tastes wonderful.”
Face of the first -grader was blushing because he was greeted by Dumbledore
and he took a plate of sausages with shaking hand.
Professor Trelawney acted almost normal unt il the end of the feast , two hours
later. With full stomach of delicious Christmas food and st ill wearing their fireworks
hat , Harry and Ron stood up first from their chair, and Professor Trelawney creid
loudly.
“Oh, dear! Which of you stood up first? Who?”
“I dunno,” said Ron looking at Harry.
“ I don’ t think that would make any difference,” said Professor McGonagall
coldly, “ unless there is a nut ter with an axe wait ing outside the door to slaughter the
first person shows up in the Front Hall.”
Even Ron laughed. Professor Trelawney looked offended.
“Come with us?” Harry asked Hermione.
“ No,” mut tered Hermione. “ I need to talk for a moment with Professor
McGonagall.”
“ Perhaps she wants to f ind out if she could take more lessons,” said Ron
yawning while they entered the Front Hall, without the nutter-with-an-axe.
When they arrived in front of the port rait hole, Sir Cadogan was having a party
with two Friars, few ex-headmasters of Hogwarts, and his fat pony horse.
“Merry – hic – Christmas – hic! Key word?”
“Scabby dogs,” answered Ron.
“ For you too, Sir!” cried Sir Cadogan when the port rait swung forward, making
a way for them to enter.
Harry went st raight to his room to take Firebolt and his Broomst ick Servicing
Kit birthday gift from Hermione, took both of it to the Common Room, and t ried to do
something with it . Even so, there was nothing to be done anyway. So he and Ron j ust
sit there looking at the broomst icks from every direct ion unt il the port rait hole swung
open and Hermione entered, followed with Professor McGonagall.
Even Professor McGonagall was Head of Gryffindor House, she has only been
there twice, and she had to say something very important at those t imes. Harry and
Ron watched her curiously, both of them holding Firebolt . Hermione walked avoiding
them, sat down and took the nearest book and hid her face behind it.
“ So this is the broomst ick?” asked Professor McGonagall while she walked
towards the fireplace, watching the Firebolt sharply. “Miss Granger has j ust told me
that you had a broomstick, Potter.”
Harry and Ron looked towards Hermione. They could see her chin blushing over
her upside-down book.
“May I see it?” asked Professor McGonagall, but she didn’ t wait for an answer.
She grabbed the Firebolt from their hands. She examined it carefully. “ Hmm. And
there is no information at all, Potter? No cards? Any messages?”
“No,” said Harry confused.
“So…” said Professor McGonagall. “Well, I have to take this then, Potter.”
“W – what?” said Harry, scrambling to his feet. “Why?”
“ It will need to be checked for j inxes,” said Professor McGonagall. “ Of course,
I’m no expert, but I daresay Madam Hooch and Professor Flitwick will strip it down –”
“Strip it down?” repeated Ron, as though Professor McGonagall was mad.
“ It shouldn’ t take more than a few weeks,” said Professor McGonagall. “ You
will have it back if we are sure it is jinx–free.”
“ There’ s nothing wrong with it !” said Harry, his voice shaking slight ly.
“Honestly, Professor –”
“ You can’ t know that , Pot ter,” said Professor McGonagall, quite kindly, “ not
unt il you’ ve flown it , at any rate, and I’m afraid that is out of the quest ion unt il we
are certain that it has not been tampered with. I shall keep you informed.”
Professor McGonagall turned on her heel and carried the Firebolt out of the
port rait hole, which closed behind her. Harry stood staring after her, the t in of High–
Finish Polish still clutched in his hands. Ron, however, rounded on Hermione.
“What did you go running to McGonagall for?”
Hermione threw her book aside. She was still pink in the face, but stood up and
faced Ron defiantly.
“ Because I thought – and Professor McGonagall agrees with me – that that
broom was probably sent to Harry by Sirius Black!”
CHAPTER TWELVE – THE PATRONUS
Harry knew that Hermione had meant well, but that didn’t stop him from being
angry with her. He had been the owner of the best broom in the world for a few short
hours, and now, because of her interference, he didn’ t know whether he would ever
see it again. He was posit ive that there was nothing wrong with the Firebolt now, but
what sort of state would it be in once it had been subj ected to all sorts of ant i–jinx
tests?
Ron was furious with Hermione too. As far as he was concerned, the st ripping–
down of a brand– new Firebolt was nothing less than criminal damage. Hermione, who
remained convinced that she had acted for the best , started avoiding the common
room. Harry and Ron supposed she had taken refuge in the library and didn’ t t ry to
persuade her to come back. All in all, they were glad when the rest of the school
returned short ly after New Year, and Gryffindor Tower became crowded and noisy
again. Wood sought Harry out on the night before term started.
“ Had a good Christmas?” he said, and then, without wait ing for an answer, he
sat down, lowered his voice, and said, “I’ve been, doing some thinking over Christmas,
Harry. Af ter last match, you know. If the Dementors come to the next one… I mean…
we can’t afford you to – well –”
Wood broke off, looking awkward.
“ I’m working on it ,” said Harry quickly. “ Professor Lupin said he’ d t rain me to
ward off the Dementors. We should be starting this week. He said he’d have time after
Christmas.”
“ Ah,” said Wood, his expression clearing. “Well, in that case – I really didn’ t
want to lose you as Seeker, Harry. And have you ordered a new broom yet?”
“No,” said Harry.
“What ! You’ d bet ter get a move on, you know – you can’ t ride that Shoot ing
Star against Ravenclaw!”
“He got a Firebolt for Christmas,” said Ron.
“A Firebolt? No! Seriously? A – a real Firebolt?”
“ Don’ t get excited, Oliver,” said Harry gloomily. “ I haven’ t got it anymore. It
was confiscated.” And he explained all about how the Firebolt was now being checked
for jinxes.
“Jinxed? How could it be jinxed?”
“ Sirius Black” Harry said wearily. “ He’ s supposed to be after me. So
McGonagall reckons he might have sent it.”
Waving aside the informat ion that a famous murderer was after his Seeker,
Wood said, “ But Black couldn’ t have bought a Firebolt ! He’ s on the run! The whole
count ry’ s on the lookout for him! How could he j ust walk into Quality Quidditch
Supplies and buy a broomstick?”
“I know,” said Harry, “but McGonagall still wants to strip it down –”
Wood went pale.
“ I’ ll go and talk to her, Harry,” he promised. “ I’ ll make her see reason…. A
Firebolt . .. a real Firebolt , on our team… She wants Gryffindor to win as much as we
do…. I’ll make her see sense. A Firebolt…”
Classes started again the next day. The last thing anyone felt like doing was
spending two hours on the grounds on a raw January morning, but Hagrid had provided
a bonfire full of salamanders for their enj oyment , and they spent an unusually good
lesson collect ing dry wood and leaves to keep the fire blazing while the f lame–loving
lizards scampered up and down the crumbling, white–hot logs. The first Divinat ion
lesson of the new term was much less fun; Professor Trelawney was now teaching
them palmist ry, and she lost no t ime in informing Harry that he had the shortest
lifeline she had ever seen.
It was Defense Against the Dark Arts that Harry was keen to get to; after his
conversat ion with Wood, he wanted to get started on his anti–Dementor lessons as
soon as possible.
“ Ah yes,” said Lupin, when Harry reminded him of his promise at the end of
class. “ Let me see… how about eight o’ clock on Thursday evening? The History of
Magic classroom should be large enough…. I’ ll have to think carefully about how
we’ re going to do this…. We can’ t bring a real Dementor into the cast le to pract ice
on….”
“Still looks ill, doesn’t he?” said Ron as they walked down the corridor, heading
to dinner. “What d’you reckon’s the matter with him?”
There was a loud and impatient “tuh” from behind them. It was Hermione, who
had been sit t ing at the feet of a suit of armor, repacking her bag, which was so full of
books it wouldn’t close.
“And what are you tutting at us for?” said Ron irritably.
“Nothing,” said Hermione in a lofty voice, heaving her bag back over her
shoulder.
“ Yes, you were,” said Ron. “ I said I wonder what ’ s wrong with Lupin, and you –

“Well, isn’t it obvious?” said Hermione, with a look of maddening superiority.
“If you don’t want to tell us, don’t,” snapped Ron.
“Fine,” said Hermione haughtily, and she marched off.
“ She doesn’ t know,” said Ron, staring resent fully after Hermione. “ She’ s j ust
trying to get us to talk to her again.”
At eight o’ clock on Thursday evening, Harry left Gryf findor Tower for the
History of Magic classroom. It was dark and empty when he arrived, but he lit the
lamps with his wand and had waited only five minutes when Professor Lupin turned up,
carrying a large packing case, which he heaved onto Professor Binn’s desk.
“What’s that?” said Harry.
“ Another Boggart ,” said Lupin, st ripping off his cloak. “ I’ ve been combing the
cast le ever since Tuesday, and very luckily, I found this one lurking inside Mr. Filch’ s
filing cabinet . It ’ s the nearest we’ ll get to a real Dementor. The Boggart will turn into
a Dementor when he sees you, so we’ ll be able to pract ice on him. I can store him in
my office when we’re not using him; there’s a cupboard under my desk he’ll like.”
“Okay,” said Harry, trying to sound as though he wasn’t apprehensive at all and
merely glad that Lupin had found such a good substitute for a real Dementor.
“ So…” Professor Lupin had taken out his own wand, and indicated that Harry
should do the same. “ The spell I am going to t ry and teach you is highly advanced
magic, Harry – well beyond ordinary Wizarding Level. It is called the Patronus Charm.”
“How does it work?” said Harry nervously.
“Well, when it works correct ly, It conj ures up a Pat ronus,” said Lupin, “ which
is a kind of ant i– Dementor – a guardian that acts as a shield between you and the
Dementor.”
Harry had a sudden vision of himself crouching behind a Hagrid-sized figure
holding a large club. Professor Lupin cont inued, “ The Pat ronus is a kind of posit ive
force, a projection of the very things that the Dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness,
the desire to survive – but it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so the
Dementors can’ t hurt it . But I must warn you, Harry, that the charm might be too
advanced for you. Many qualified wizards have difficulty with it.”
“What does a Patronus look like?” said Harry curiously.
“Each one is unique to the wizard who conjures it.”
“And how do you conjure it?”
“With an incantat ion, which will work only if you are concent rat ing, with all
your might, on a single, very happy memory.”
Harry cast his mind about for a happy memory. Certainly, nothing that had
happened to him at the Dursleys’ was going to do. Finally, he set t led on the moment
when he had first ridden a broomstick.
“ Right ,” he said, t rying to recall as exact ly as possible the wonderful, soaring
sensation of his stomach.
“The incantation is this –” Lupin cleared his throat. “Expecto patronum!”
“ Expecto patronum, “ Harry repeated under his breath, “expecto patronum.”
“Concentrating hard on your happy memory?”
“Oh – yeah –” said Harry, quickly forcing his thoughts back to that first broom
ride. “ Expect o pat rono – no, patronum – sorry – expect o pat ronum, expecto
patronum!”
Something whooshed suddenly out of the end of his wand; it looked like a wisp
of silvery gas.
“Did you see that?” said Harry excitedly. “Something happened!”
“Very good,” said Lupin, smiling. “Right, then – ready to try it on a Dementor?”
“Yes,” Harry said, gripping his wand very tightly, and moving into the middle of
the deserted classroom. He t ried to keep his mind on flying, but something else kept
int ruding…. Any second now, he might hear his mother again… but he shouldn’ t think
that, or he would hear her again, and he didn’t want to… or did he?
Lupin grasped the lid of the packing case and pulled.
A Dementor rose slowly from the box, its hooded face turned toward Harry,
one glistening, scabbed hand gripping its cloak. The lamps around the classroom
flickered and went out . The Dementor stepped from the box and started to sweep
silent ly toward Harry, drawing a deep, rat t ling breath. A wave of piercing cold broke
over him –
“ Expecto patronum!” Harry yelled. “Expecto patronum! Expecto –”
But the classroom and the Dementor were dissolving…. Harry was failing again
through thick white fog, and his mother’ s voice was louder than ever, echoing inside
his head –
“ Not Harry! Not Harry! please – I’ll do anything!”
“ Stand aside. Stand aside, girl!”
“ Harry!”
Harry j erked back to life. He was lying flat on his back on the floor. The
classroom lamps were alight again. He didn’t have to ask what had happened.
“ Sorry,” he mut tered, sit t ing up and feeling cold sweat t rickling down behind
his glasses.
“Are you all right?” said Lupin.
“Yes…” Harry pulled himself up on one of the desks and leaned against it.
“Here –” Lupin handed him a Chocolate Frog. “ Eat this before we t ry again. I
didn’ t expect you to do it your f irst t ime; in fact , I would have been astounded if you
had.”
“ It ’ s get t ing worse,” Harry mut tered, bit ing off the Frog’ s head. “ I could hear
her louder that time – and him – Voldemort.”
Lupin looked paler than usual.
“Harry, if you don’t want to continue, I will more than understand –”
“ I do!” said Harry fiercely, stuffing the rest of the Chocolate Frog into his
mouth. “ I’ ve got to! What if the Dementors turn up at our match against Ravenclaw? I
can’t afford to fall off again. If we lose this game we’ve lost the Quidditch Cup!”
“ All right then… “ said Lupin. “ You might want to select ‘ other memory, a
happy memory, I mean, to concent rate on…. That one doesn’ t seem to have been
strong enough….”
Harry thought hard and decided his feelings when Gryf findor had won the
House Championship last year had definitely qualified as very happy. He gripped his
wand tightly again and took up his position in the middle of the classroom.
“Ready?” said Lupin, gripping the box lid.
“ Ready,” said Harry; t rying hard to fill his head with happy thoughts about
Gryffindor winning, and not dark thoughts about what was going to happen when the
box opened.
“Go!” said Lupin, pulling off the lid. The room went icily cold and dark once
more. The Dementor glided forward, drawing its breath; one rot t ing hand was
extending toward Harry –
“ Expecto patronum!” Harry yelled. “Expecto patronum! Expecto Pat –”
White fog obscured his senses… big, blurred shapes were moving around him…
then came a new voice, a man’s voice, shouting, panicking –
“ Lily, take Harry and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off –”
The sounds of someone stumbling ftom a room – a door bursting open – a cackle
of high– pitched laughter –
“Harry! Harry… wake up….”
Lupin was tapping Harry hard on the face. This t ime it was a minute before
Harry understood why he was lying on a dusty classroom floor.
“ I heard my dad,” Harry mumbled. “ That ’ s the first t ime I’ ve ever heard him –
he tried to take on Voldemort himself, to give my mum time to run for it….”
Harry suddenly realized that there were tears on his face mingling with the
sweat. He bent his face as low as possible, wiping them off on his robes, pretending to
do up his shoelace, so that Lupin wouldn’t see.
“You heard James?” said Lupin in a strange voice.
“Yeah…” Face dry, Harry looked up. “Why – you didn’t know my dad, did you?”
“I – I did, as a mat ter of fact ,” said Lupin. “We were f riends at Hogwarts.
Listen, Harry – perhaps we should leave it here for tonight . This charm is ridiculously
advanced…. I shouln’t have suggested putting you through this….”
“ No!” said Harry. He got up again. “ I’ ll have one more go! I’m not thinking of
happy enough things, that’s what it is…. Hang on….”
He racked his brains. A really, really happy memory… one that he could turn
into a good, st rong Pat ronus… The moment when he’ d f irst found out he was a
wizard, and would be leaving the Dursleys for Hogwarts! If that wasn’ t a happy
memory, he didn’ t know what was…. Concent rat ing very hard on how he had felt
when he’ d realized he’ d be leaving Privet Drive, Harry got to his feet and faced the
packing case once more.
“ Ready?” said Lupin, who looked as though he were doing this against his
better judgment. “Concentrating hard? All right – go!”
He pulled of f the lid of the case for the third t ime, and the Dementor rose out
of it; the room fell cold and dark
‘EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Harry bellowed. “ EXPECTO PATRONUM! EXPECTO
PATRONUM!”
The screaming inside Harry’ s head had started again – except this t ime, it
sounded as though it were coming from a badly tuned radio – softer and louder and
sof ter again – and he could st ill see the Dementor – it had halted – and then a huge,
silver shadow came bursting out of the end of Harry’s wand, to hover between him and
the Dementor, and though Harry’ s legs felt like water, he was st ill on his feet – though
for how much longer, he wasn’t sure –
“ Riddikulus!” roared Lupin, springing forward.
There was a loud crack, and Harry’ s cloudy Pat ronus vanished along with the
Dementor; he sank into a chair, feeling as exhausted as if he’ d j ust run a mile, and
felt his legs shaking. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Professor Lupin forcing the
Boggart back into the packing case with his wand; it had turned into a silvery orb
again.
“ Excellent !” Lupin said, st riding over to where Harry sat . “ Excellent , Harry!
That was definitely a start!”
“Can we have another go? Just one more go?”
“Not now,” said Lupin firmly. “You’ve had enough for one night. Here –”
He handed Harry a large bar of Honeydukes’ best chocolate. “ Eat the lot , or
Madam Pomfrey will be after my blood. Same time next week?”
“Okay,” said Harry. He took a bite of the chocolate and watched Lupin
ext inguishing the lamps that had rekindled with the disappearance of the Dementor. A
thought had just occurred to him.
“ Professor Lupin?” he said. “ If you knew my dad, you must ’ ve known Sirius
Black as well.”
Lupin turned very quickly.
“What gives you that idea?” he said sharply.
“Nothing – I mean, I just knew they were friends at Hogwarts too….”
Lupin’s face relaxed.
“ Yes, I knew him,” he said short ly. “ Or I thought I did. You’ d bet ter be off,
Harry, it’s getting late.”
Harry lef t the classroom, walking along the corridor and around a corner, then
took a detour behind a suit of armor and sank down on its plinth to finish his
chocolate, wishing he hadn’ t ment ioned Black, as Lupin was obviously not keen on the
subject. Then Harry’s thoughts wandered back to his mother and father…
He felt drained and st rangely empty, even though he was so full of chocolate.
Terrible though it was to hear his parents’ last moments replayed inside his head,
these were the only times Harry had heard their voices since he was a very small child.
But he’ d never be able to produce a proper Pat ronus if he half wanted to hear his
parents again….
“ They’ re dead,” he told himself sternly. “ They’ re dead and listening to echoes
of them won’ t bring them back. You’ d bet ter get a grip on yourself if you want that
Quidditch Cup.”
He stood up, crammed the last bit of chocolate into his mouth, and headed
back to Gryffindor Tower.
Ravenclaw played Slytherin a week after the start of term. Slytherin won,
though narrowly. According to Wood, this was good news for Gryffindor, who would
take second place if they beat Ravenclaw too. He therefore increased the number of
team pract ices to five a leek. This meant that with Lupin’ s ant i–Dementor classes,
which in themselves were more draining than six Quiddit ch pract ices, Harry had j ust
one night a week to do all his homework. Even so, he was showing the st rain nearly as
much as Hermione, whose immense workload f inally seemed to be get t ing to her.
Every night , without fail, Hermione was to be seen in a corner of the common room,
several tables spread with books, Arithmancy charts, rune dict ionaries, diagrams of
Muggles lifting heavy objects, and file upon file of extensive notes; she barely spoke to
anybody and snapped when she was interrupted.
“ How’ s she doing it?” Ron mut tered to Harry one evening as Harry sat finishing
a nasty essay on Undetectable Poisons for Snape. Harry looked up. Hermione was
barely visible behind a tottering pile of books.
“Doing what?”
“Get t ing to all her classes!” Ron said. “ I heard her talking to Professor Vector,
that Arithmancy witch, this morning. They were going on about yesterday’s lesson, but
Hermione can’ t ‘ ve been there, because she was with us in Care of Magical Creatures!
And Ernie McMillan told me she’s never missed a Muggle Studies class, but half of them
are at the same time as Divination, and she’s never missed one of them either!”
Harry didn’ t have t ime to fathom the mystery of Hermione’ s impossible
schedule at the moment ; he really needed to get on with Snape’ s essay. Two seconds
later, however, he was interrupted again, this time by Wood.
“ Bad news, Harry. I’ ve j ust been to see Professor McGonagall about the
Firebolt . She – er – got a bit shirty with me. Told m’ I’ d got my priorit ies wrong.
Seemed to think I cared more about winning the Cup than I do about you staying alive.
Just because I told her I didn’ t care if it threw you off , as long as you caught the
Snitch f irst .” Wood shook his head in disbelief. “ Honest ly, the way she was yelling at
me… you’ d think I’ d said something terrible. .. then I asked her how much longer she
was going to keep it . He screwed up his face and imitated Professor McGonagall’s
severe voice. ‘As long as necessary, Wood’ … I reckon it ’ s t ime you ordered a new
broom, Harry. There’ s an order form at the back of Which Broomst ick… you could get
a Nimbus Two Thousand and One, like Malfoy’s got.”
“I’m not buying anything Malfoy thinks is good,” said Harry flatly.
January faded impercept ibly into February, with no change in the bit terly cold
weather. The match against Ravenclaw was drawing nearer and nearer, but Harry st ill
hadn’ t ordered a new broom. He was now asking Professor McGonagall for news of the
Firebolt after every Transfigurat ion lesson, Ron standing hopefully at his shoulder,
Hermione rushing past with her face averted.
“ No, Pot ter, you can’ t have it back yet ,” Professor McGonagall told him the
twelfth t ime this happened, before he’ d even opened his mouth. “We’ ve checked for
most of the usual curses, but Professor Flitwick believes the broom might be carrying a
Hurling Hex. I shall tell you once we’ ve finished checking it . Now, please stop
badgering me.”
To make mat ters even worse, Harry’ s ant i–Dementor lessons were not going
nearly as well as he had hoped. Several sessions on, he was able to produce an
indist inct , silvery shadow every t ime the Boggart–Dementor approached him, but his
Pat ronus was too feeble to drive the Dementor away. All it did was hover, like a
semit ransparent cloud, draining Harry of energy as he fought to keep it there. Harry
felt angry with himself, guilty about his secret desire to hear his parents’ voices again.
“ You’ re expect ing too much of yourself ,” said Professor Lupin, sternly in their
fourth week of practice. “For a thirteen–year–old wizard, even an indistinct Patronus is
a huge achievement. You aren’t passing out anymore, are you?”
“ I thought a Pat ronus would – charge the Dementors down or something,” said
Harry dispiritedly. “Make them disappear –”
“ The t rue Pat ronus does do that ,” said Lupin. “ But you’ ve achieved a great
deal in a very short space of t ime. If the Dementors put in an appearance at your next
Quidditch match, you will be able to keep them at bay long enough to get back to the
ground.”
“You said it’s harder if there are loads of them,” said Harry.
“ I have complete confidence in you,” said Lupin, smiling. “ Here – you’ ve
earned a drink – something from the Three Broomsticks. You won’t have tried it before
–”
He pulled two bottles out of his briefcase.
“Butterbeer!” said Harry, without thinking. “Yeah, I like that stuff!”
Lupin raised an eyebrow.
“Oh –Ron and Hermione brought me some back from Hogsmeade,” Harry lied
quickly.
“ I see,” said Lupin, though he st ill looked slight ly suspicious. “Well – let ’ s drink
to a Gryffindor victory against Ravenclaw! Not that I’m supposed to take sides, as a
teacher… “ he added hastily
They drank the But terbeer in silence, unt il Harry voiced something he’ d been
wondering for a while.
“What’s under a Dementor’s hood?”
Professor Lupin lowered his bottle thoughtfully.
“ Hmmm.. . well, the only people who really know are in no condit ion to tell us.
You see, the Dementor lowers its hood only to use its last and worst weapon.”
“What’s that?”
“ They call it the Dementor’ s Kiss,” said Lupin, with a slight ly twisted smile.
“It’s what Dementors do to those they wish to destroy utterly. I suppose there must be
some kind of mouth under there, because they clamp their j aws upon the mouth of
the victim and – and suck out his soul.”
Harry accidentally spat out a bit of Butterbeer.
“What – they kill –?”
“Oh no,” said Lupin. “Much worse than that . You can exist without your soul,
you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you’ll have no sense of
self anymore, no memory, no …anything. There’ s no chance at all of recovery. You’ ll
just exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever… lost.”
Lupin drank a little more Butterbeer, then said, “It’s the fate that awaits Sirius
Black. It was in the Daily Prophet this morning. The Minist ry have given the Dementors
permission to perform it if they find him.”
Harry sat stunned for a moment at the idea of someone having their soul
sucked out through their mouth. But then he thought of Black.
“He deserves it,” he said suddenly.
“You think so?” said Lupin lightly. “Do you really think anyone deserves that?”
“Yes,” said Harry defiantly. “For… for some things…”
He would have liked to have told Lupin about the conversat ion he’ d overheard
about Black in the Three Broomst icks, about Black bet raying his mother and father,
but it would have involved revealing that he’d gone to Hogsmeade without permission,
and he knew Lupin wouldn’ t be very impressed by that . So he finished his But terbeer,
thanked Lupin, and left the History of Magic classroom.
Harry half wished that he hadn’t asked what was under a Dementor’s hood, the
answer had been so horrible, and he was so lost in unpleasant thoughts of what it
would feel like to have your soul sucked out of you that he walked headlong into
Professor McGonagall halfway up the stairs.
“Do watch where you’re going, Potter!”
“Sorry, Professor –”
“I’ve just been looking for you in the Gryffindor common room, Well, here it is,
we’ ve done everything we could think of, and there doesn’ t seem to be anything
wrong with it at all. You’ve got a very good friend somewhere, Potter….”
Harry’ s j aw dropped. She was holding out his Firebolt , and it looked as
magnificent as ever.
“I can have it back?” Harry said weakly. “Seriously?”
“Seriously,” said Professor McGonagall, and she was actually smiling. “I daresay
you’ ll need to get the feel of it before Saturday’ s match, won’ t you? And Pot ter – do
try and win, won’t you? Or we’ll be out of the running for the eighth year. in a row, as
Professor Snape was kind enough to remind me only last night….”
Speechless, Harry carried the Firebolt back upstairs toward Gryffindor Tower.
As he turned a corner, he saw Ron dashing toward him, grinning from ear to ear.
“She gave it to You? Excellent! Listen, can I still have a go on it? Tomorrow?”
“ Yeah… anything,” said Harry, his heart lighter than it had been in a month.
“ You know what – we should make up with Hermione…. She was only t rying to
help….”
“ Yeah, all right ,” said Ron. “ She’ s in the common room how working, for a
change –”
They turned into the corridor to Gryffindor Tower and saw Neville Longbot tom,
pleading with Sir Cadogan, who seemed to be refusing him entrance.
“ I wrote them down!” Neville was saying tearfully. “ But I must ’ ve dropped
them somewhere!”
“ A likely tale!” roared Sir Cadogan. Then, spot t ing Harry and Ron: “Good even,
my fine young yeomen! Come clap this loon in irons. He is t rying to force ent ry to the
chambers within!”
“Oh, shut up,” said Ron as he and Harry drew level with Neville.
“ I’ ve lost the passwords!” Neville told them miserably. “ I made him tell me
what passwords he was going to use this week, because he keeps changing them, and
now I don’t know what I’ve done with them!”
“ Oddsbodikins,” said Harry to Sir Cadogan, who looked ext remely disappointed
and reluctant ly swung forward to let them into the common room. There was a
sudden, excited murmur as every head turned and the next moment , Harry was
surrounded by people exclaiming over his Firebolt.
“Where’d you get it, Harry?”
“Will you let me have a go?” “Have you ridden it yet, Harry?”
“Ravenclaw’ll have no chance, they’re all on Cleansweep Sevens!”
“Can I just hold it, Harry?”
After ten minutes or so, during which the Firebolt was Passed around and
admired from every angle, the crowd dispersed and Harry and Ron had a clear view of
Hermione, the only person who hadn’ t rushed over to them, bent over her work and
carefully avoiding their eyes. Harry and Ron approached her table and at last , she
looked up.
“I got it back,” said Harry, grinning at her and holding up the Firebolt.
“See, Hermione? There wasn’t anything wrong with it!” said Ron.
“Well – there might have been!” said Hermione. “ I mean, at least you know
now that it’s safe!”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” said Harry. “I’d better put it upstairs.”
“I’ll take it!” said Ron eagerly. “I’ve got to give Scabbers his rat tonic.”
He took the Firebolt and, holding it as if it were made of glass, carried it away
up the boys’ staircase.
“Can I sit down, then?” Harry asked Hermione.
“I suppose so,” said Hermione, moving a great stack of parchment off a chair.
Harry looked around at the clut tered table, at the long Arithmancy essay on
which the ink was st ill glistening, at the even longer Muggle Studies essay (“ Explain
Why Muggles Need Elect ricit y” and at the rune t ranslat ion Hermione was now poring
over.
“How are you getting through all this stuff?” Harry asked her.
“Oh, well – you know –working hard,” said Hermione. Close–up, Harry saw that
she looked almost as tired as Lupin.
“Why don’ t you j ust drop a couple of subj ects?” Harry asked, watching her
lifting books as she searched for her rune dictionary.
“I couldn’t do that!” said Hermione, looking scandalized.
“ Arithmancy looks terrible,” said Harry, picking up a very complicated–looking
number chart.
“Oh no, it’s wonderful!” said Hermione earnestly. “It’s my favorite subject! It’s
–”
But exact ly what was wonderful about Arithmancy, Harry never found out . At
that precise moment , a st rangled yell echoed down the boys’ staircase. The whole
common room fell silent , staring, pet rified, at the ent rance. Then came hurried
footsteps, growing louder and louder – and then Ron came leaping into view, dragging
with him a bedsheet.
“LOOK!” he bellowed, striding over to Hermione’s table.
“LOOK!” he yelled, shaking the sheets in her face.
“Ron, what –?”
“SCABBERS! LOOK! SCABBERS!”
Hermione was leaning away from Ron, looking ut terly bewildered. Harry looked
down at the sheet Ron was holding. There was something red on it . Something that
looked horribly like –
“ BLOOD!” Ron yelled into the stunned silence. “ HE’S GONE! AND YOU KNOW
WHAT WAS ON THE FLOOR?”
“N – no,” said Hermione in a trembling voice.
Ron threw something down onto Hermione’ s rune t ranslat ion. Hermione and
Harry leaned forward. Lying on top of the weird, spiky shapes were several long,
ginger cat hairs.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN – GRYFFINDOR VERSUS RAVENCLAW
It looked like the end of Ron and Hermione’s friendship. Each was so angry with
the other that Harry couldn’ t see how they’ d ever make up. Ron was enraged that
Hermione had never taken Crookshanks’ s at tempts to eat Scabbers seriously, hadn’ t
bothered to keep a close enough watch on him, and was st ill t rying to pretend that
Crookshanks was innocent by suggest ing that Ron look for Scabbers under all the boys’
beds. Hermione, meanwhile, maintained fiercely that Ron had no proof that
Crookshanks had eaten Scabbers, that the ginger hairs might have been there since
Christmas, and that Ron had been prej udiced against her cat ever since Crookshanks
had landed on Ron’s head in the Magical Menagerie.
Personally, Harry was sure that Crookshanks had eaten Scabbers, and when he
t ried to point out to Hermione that the evidence all pointed that way, she lost her
temper with Harry too.
“Okay, side with Ron, I knew you would! ” she said shrilly. “ First the Firebolt ,
now Scabbers, everything’s my fault, isn’t it! Just leave me alone, Harry, I’ve got a lot
of work to do!”
Ron had taken the loss of his rat very hard indeed.
“ Come on, Ron, you were always saying how boring Scabbers was,” said Fred
bracingly. “ And he’ s been off–color for ages, he was wast ing away. It was probably
better for him to snuff it quickly – one swallow – he probably didn’t feel a thing.”
“Fred!” said Ginny indignantly.
“All he did was eat and sleep, Ron, you said it yourself,” said George.
“He bit Goyle for us once!” Ron said miserably. “Remember, Harry?”
“Yeah, that’s true,” said Harry.
“ His finest hour,” said Fred, unable to keep a st raight face. “ Let the scar on
Goyle’s finger stand as a lasting tribute to his memory. Oh, come on, Ron, get yourself
down to Hogsmeade and buy a new rat, what’s the point of moaning?”
In a last–ditch at tempt to cheer Ron up, Harry persuaded him to come along to
the Gryf findor team’ s final pract ice before the Ravenclaw match, so that he could
have a ride on the Firebolt af ter they’ d finished. This did seem to take Ron’ s mind off
Scabbers for a moment (“ Great ! Can I t ry and shoot a few goals on it?” ) so they set off
for the Quidditch field together.
Madam Hooch, who was st ill overseeing Gryff indor pract ices to keep an eye on
Harry, was j ust as impressed with the Firebolt as everyone else had been. She took it
in her hands before takeoff and gave them the benefit of her professional opinion.
“ Look at the balance on it ! If the Nimbus series has a fault , it ’ s a slight list to
the tail end – you often f ind they develop a drag after a few years. They’ ve updated
the handle too, a bit slimmer than the Cleansweeps, reminds me of the old Silver
Arrows – a pity they’ ve stopped making them. I learned to fly on one, and a very fine
old broom it was too….”
She cont inued in this vein for some t ime, unt il Wood said, “ Er –Madam Hooch?
Is it okay if Harry has the Firebolt back? We need to practice….”
“Oh – right – here you are, then, Pot ter,” said Madam Hooch. “ I’ ll sit over here
with Weasley….”
She and Ron left the field to sit in the stadium, and the Gryffindor team
gathered around Wood for his final instructions for tomorrow’s match.
“ Harry, I’ ve j ust found out who Ravenclaw is playing as Seeker. It ’ s Cho Chang.
She’ s a fourth year, and she’ s pret ty good…. I really hoped she wouldn’ t be fit , she’ s
had some problems with injuries….” Wood scowled his displeasure that Cho Chang had
made a full recovery, then said, “On the other hand, she rides a Comet Two Sixty,
which is going to look like a joke next to the Firebolt .” He gave Harry’ s broom a look
of fervent admiration, then said, “Okay, everyone, let’s go –”
And at long last , Harry mounted his Firebolt , and kicked off from the ground. It
was bet ter than he’ d ever dreamed. The Firebolt turned with the lightest touch; it
seemed to obey his thoughts rather than his grip; it sped across the field at such speed
that the stadium turned into a green–and–gray blur; Harry turned it so sharply that
Alicia Spinnet screamed, then he went into a perfect ly cont rolled dive, brushing the
grassy field with his toes before rising thirty, forty, fifty feet into the air again.
“Harry, I’m letting the Snitch out!” Wood called.
Harry turned and raced a Bludger toward the goal posts; he outst ripped it
easily, saw the Snitch dart out from behind Wood, and within ten seconds had caught
it t ight ly in his hand. The team cheered madly. Harry let the Snit ch go again, gave it a
minute’ s head start , then tore after it , weaving in and out of the others; he spot ted it
lurking near Katie Bell’s knee, looped her easily, and caught it again.
It was the best pract ice ever; the team, inspired by the presence of the
Firebolt in their midst , performed their best moves fault lessly, and by the t ime they
hit the ground again, Wood didn’ t have a single crit icism to make, which, as George
Weasley pointed out, was a first.
“I can’t see what’s going to stop us tomorrow!” said Wood. “Not unless – Harry,
you’ve sorted out your Dementor problem, haven’t you?”
“Yeah,” said Harry, thinking of his feeble Pat ronus and wishing it were
stronger.
“ The Dementors won’ t turn up again, Oliver. Dumbledore’ d go ballist ic,” said
Fred confidently.
“Well, let ’ s hope not ,” said Wood. “ Anyway – good work, everyone. Let ’ s get
back to the tower… turn in early –”
“ I’m staying out for a bit ; Ron wants a go on the Firebolt ,” Harry told Wood,
and while the rest of the team headed off to the locker rooms, Harry st rode over to
Ron, who vaulted the barrier to the stands and came to meet him. Madam Hooch had
fallen asleep in her seat.
“Here you go,” said Harry, handing Ron the Firebolt.
Ron, an expression of ecstasy on his face, mounted the broom and zoomed off
into the gathering darkness while Harry walked around the edge of the f ield, watching
him. Night had fallen before Madam Hooch awoke with a start , told Harry and Ron off
for not waking her, and insisted that they go back to the castle.
Harry shouldered the Firebolt and he and Ron walked out of the shadowy
stadium, discussing the Firebolt ’ s superbly smooth act ion, its phenomenal
accelerat ion, and its pinpoint turning. They were halfway toward the cast le when
Harry, glancing to his lef t , saw something that made his heart turn over – a pair of
eyes, gleaming out of the darkness. Harry stopped dead, his heart banging against his
ribs.
“What’s the matter?” said Ron.
Harry pointed. Ron pulled out his wand and muttered, “Lumos!”
A beam of light fell across the grass, hit the bot tom of a t ree, and illuminated
its branches; there, crouching among the budding leaves, was Crookshanks.
“Get out of here!” Ron roared, and he stooped down and seized a stone lying
on the grass, but before he could do anything else, Crookshanks had vanished with one
swish of his long ginger tail.
“ See?” Ron said furiously, chucking the stone down again. “ She’ s st ill let t ing
him wander about wherever he wants –probably washing down Scabbers with a couple
of birds now….”
Harry didn’ t say anything. He took a deep breath as relief seeped through him;
he had been sure for a moment that those eyes had belonged to the Grim. They set off
for the cast le once more. Slight ly ashamed of his moment of panic, Harry didn’ t say
anything to Ron – nor did he look left or right unt il they had reached the well–lit
entrance hall.
Harry went down to breakfast the next morning with the rest of the boys in his
dormitory, all of whom seemed to think the Firebolt deserved a sort of guard of honor.
As Harry entered the Great Hall, heads turned in the direct ion of the Firebolt , and
there was a good deal of excited mut tering. Harry saw, with enormous sat isfact ion,
that the Slytherin team were all looking thunderstruck.
“ Did you see his face?” said Ron gleefully, looking back at Malfay. “ He can’ t
believe it! This is brilliant!”
Wood, too, was basking in the reflected glory of the Firebolt.
“ Put it here, Harry,” he said, laying the broom in the middle of the table and
carefully turning it so that its name faced upward. People f rom the Ravenclaw and
Huff lepuff tables were soon coming over to look. Cedric Diggory came over to
congratulate Harry on having acquired such a superb replacement for his Nimbus, and
Percy’ s Ravenclaw girlf riend, Penelope Clearwater, asked if she could actually hold
the Firebolt.
“ Now, now, Penny, no sabotage!” said Percy heart ily as she examined the
Firebolt closely. “ Penelope and I have got a bet on,” he told the team. “ Ten Galleons
on the outcome of the match!”
Penelope put the Firebolt down again, thanked Harry, and went back to her
table.
“Harry –make sure you win,” said Percy, in an urgent whisper. “ I haven’ t got
ten Galleons. Yes, I’m coming, Penny!” And–he bust led off to join her in a piece of
toast.
“Sure you can manage that broom, Potter?” said a cold, drawling voice.
Draco Malfoy had arrived for a closer look, Crabbe and Coyle right behind him.
“Yeah, reckon so,” said Harry casually.
“Got plenty of special features, hasn’ t it?” said Malfoy, eyes glit tering
maliciously. “ Shame it doesn’ t come with a parachute – in case you get too near a
Dementor.”
Crabbe and Goyle sniggered.
“ Pity you can’ t at tach an ext ra arm to yours, Malfoy,” said Harry. “ Then it
could catch the Snitch for you.”
The Gryf findor team laughed loudly. Malfoy’ s pale eyes narrowed, and he
stalked away. They watched him rej oin the rest of the Slytherin team, who put their
heads together, no doubt asking Malfoy whether Harry’s broom really was a Firebolt.
At a quarter to eleven, the Gryff indor team set off for the locker rooms. The
weather couldn’t have been more different from their match against Hufflepuff. It was
a clear, cool day with a very light breeze; there would be no visibilit y problems this
t ime, and Harry, though nervous, was start ing to feel the excitement only a Quidditch
match could bring. They could hear the rest of the school moving into the stadium
beyond. Harry took off his black school robes, removed his wand from his pocket , and
stuck it inside the T–shirt he was going to wear under his Quidditch robes. He only
hoped he wouldn’ t need it . He wondered suddenly whether Professor Lupin was in the
crowd, watching.
“ You know what we’ ve got to do,” said Wood as they prepared to leave the
locker rooms. “ If we lose this match, we’ re out of the running. Just – j ust fly like you
did in practice yesterday, and we’ll be okay!”
They walked out onto the field to tumultuous applause. The Ravenclaw team,
dressed in blue, were already standing in the middle of the field. Their Seeker, Cho
Chang, was the only girl on their team. She was shorter than Harry by about a head,
and Harry couldn’ t help not icing, nervous as he was, that she was ext remely pret ty.
She smiled at Harry as the teams faced each other behind their captains, and he felt a
slight lurch in the region of his stomach that he didn’ t think had anything to do with
nerves.
“Wood, Davies, shake hands,” Madam Hooch said briskly, and Wood shook
hands with the Ravenclaw Captain.
“Mount your brooms… on my whistle… three – two – one –”
Harry kicked off into the air and the Firebolt zoomed higher and faster than
any other broom; he soared around the stadium and began squint ing around for the
Snitch, listening all the while to the commentary, which was being provided by the
Weasley twins’ friend Lee Jordan.
“ They’ re off, and the big excitement this match is the Firebolt that Harry
Pot ter is flying for Gryffindor. According to Which Broomst ick, the Firebolt ’ s going to
be the broom of choice for the national teams at this year’s World Championship –”
“ Jordan, would you mind telling us what ’ s going on in the match?” interrupted
Professor McGonagall’s voice.
“ Right you are, Professor – j ust giving a bit of background informat ion – the
Firebolt, incidentally, has a built–in auto–brake and –”
“Jordan!”
“Okay, okay, Gryffindor in possession, Kat ie Bell of Gryffindor, heading for
goal…”
Harry st reaked past Kat ie in the opposite direct ion, gazing around for a glint of
gold and not icing that Cho Chang was tailing him closely. She was undoubtedly a very
good flier – she kept cutting across him, forcing him to change direction.
“ Show her your accelerat ion, Harry!” Fred yelled as he whooshed past in
pursuit of a Bludger that was aiming for Alicia.
Harry urged the Firebolt forward as they rounded the Ravenclaw goal posts and
Cho fell behind. Just as Katie succeeded in scoring the first goal of the match, and the
Gryf findor end of the field went wild, he saw it – the Snitch was close to the ground,
flitting near one of the barriers.
Harry dived; Cho saw what he was doing and tore af ter him – Harry was
speeding up, excitement flooding him; dives were his speciality, he was ten feet away

Then a Bludger, hit by one of the Ravenclaw Beaters, came pelt ing out of
nowhere; Harry veered off course, avoiding it by an inch, and in those few, crucial
seconds, the Snitch had vanished.
There was a great “ Ooooooh” of disappointment from the Gryffindor
supporters, but much applause for their Beater from the Ravenclaw end. George
Weasley vented his feelings by hit t ing the second Bludger direct ly at the offending
Beater, who was forced to roll right over in midair to avoid it.
“Gryffindor leads by eighty points to zero, and look at that Firebolt go! Potter’s
really putting it through its paces now, see it turn – Chang’s Comet is just no match for
it, the Firebolt’s precision– balance is really noticeable in these long –”
“ JORDAN! ARE YOU BEING PAID TO ADVERTISE FIREBOLTS? GET ON WITH THE
COMMENTARY!”
Ravenclaw was pulling back; they had now scored three goals, which put
Gryf findor only fifty points ahead – if Cho got the Snitch before him, Ravenclaw would
win. Harry dropped lower, narrowly avoiding a Ravenclaw Chaser, scanning the field
frantically – a glint of gold, a flut ter of t iny wings – the Snit ch was circling the
Gryffindor goal post –
Harry accelerated, eyes fixed on the speck of gold ahead – but j ust then, Cho
appeared out of thin air, blocking him –
“ HARRY, THIS ISNO TIME TO BE A GENTLEMAN!” Wood roared as Harry werved
to avoid a collision. “KNOCK HER OFF HER BROOM IF YOU HAVE TO!”
Harry turned and caught sight of Cho; she was grinning. The Snit ch had
vanished again. Harry turned his Firebolt upward and was soon twenty feet above the
game. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Cho following him…. She’ d decided to
mark him rather than search for the Snitch herself… All right, then… if she wanted to
tail him, she’d have to take the consequences….
He dived again, and Cho, thinking he’ d seen the Snitch, t ried to follow; Harry
pulled out of the dive very sharply; she hurt led downward; he rose fast as a bullet
once more, and then saw it , for the third t ime – the Snitch was glit tering way above
the field at the Ravenclaw end.
He accelerated; so, many feet below, did Cho. He was winning, gaining on the
Snitch with every second – then –
“Oh!” screamed Cho, pointing.
Distracted, Harry looked down.
Three Dementors, three tall, black, hooded Dementors, were looking up at
him.
He didn’ t stop to think. Plunging a hand down the neck of his robes, he
whipped out his wand and roared, “Expecto patronum!”
Something silver–white, something enormous, erupted from the end of his
wand. He knew it had shot direct ly at the Dementors but didn’ t pause to watch; his
mind st ill miraculously clear, he looked ahead – he was nearly there. He st ret ched out
the hand st ill grasping his wand and j ust managed to close his fingers over the small,
struggling Snitch.
Madam Hooch’ s whist le sounded. Harry turned around in midair and saw six
scarlet blurs bearing down on him; next moment , the whole team was hugging him so
hard he was nearly pulled off his broom. Down below he could hear the roars of the
Gryffindors in the crowd.
“ That ’ s my boy!” Wood kept yelling. Alicia, Angelina, and Kat ie had all kissed
Harry; Fred had him in a grip so t ight Harry felt as though his head would come off In
complete disarray, the team managed to make its way back to the ground. Harry got
off his broom and looked up to see a gaggle of Gryffindor supporters sprinting onto the
field, Ron in the lead. Before he knew it, he had been engulfed by the cheering crowd.
“Yes!” Ron yelled, yanking Harry’s arm into the air. “Yes! Yes!”
“Well done, Harry!” said Percy, looking delighted. “ Ten Galleons to me! Must
find Penelope, excuse me –”
“Good for you, Harry!” roared Seamus Finnigan.
“Ruddy brilliant!” boomed Hagrid over the heads of the milling Gryffindors.
“That was quite some Patronus,” said a voice in Harry’s ear.
Harry turned around to see Professor Lupin, who looked both shaken and
pleased.
“ The Dementors didn’ t affect me at all!” Harry said excitedly. “ I didn’ t feel a
thing!”
“ That would be because they – er –weren’ t Dementors,” said Professor Lupin.
“Come and see – “
He led Harry out of the crowd until they were able to see the edge of the field.
“You gave Mr. Malfoy quite a fright,” said Lupin.
Harry stared. Lying in a crumpled heap on the ground were Malfoy, Crabbe,
Goyle, and Marcus Flint , the Slytherin team Captain, all st ruggling to remove
themselves from long, black, hooded robes. It looked as though Malfoy had been
standing on Goyle’ s shoulders. Standing over them, with an expression of the utmost
fury on her face, was Professor McGonagall.
“ An unworthy t rick!” she was shout ing. “ A low and cowardly at tempt to
sabotage the Gryffindor Seeker! Detent ion for all of you, and fiftypoints from
Slytherin! I shall be speaking to Professor Dumbledore about this, make no mistake!
Ah, here he comes now!”
If anything could have set the seal on Gryffindor’s victory, it was this. Ron, who
had fought his way through to Harry’ s side, doubled up with laughter as they watched
Malfoy fighting to extricate himself from the robe, Goyle’s head still stuck inside it.
“ Come on, Harry!” said George, fight ing his way over. “ Party! Gryffindor
common room, now!”
“Right,” said Harry, and feeling happier than he had in ages, he and the rest of
the team led the way, st ill in their scarlet robes, out of the stadium and back up to
the cast le. It felt as though they had already won the Quidditch Cup; the party went
on all day and well into the night . Fred and George Weasley disappeared for a couple
of hours and returned with armfuls of bot t les of But terbeer, pumpkin fizz, and several
bags full of Honeydukes sweets.
“ How did you do that?” squealed Angelina Johnson as George started throwing
Peppermint Toads into the crowd.
“With a little help from Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs,” Fred muttered
in Harry’s ear.
Only one person wasn’ t j oining in the fest ivit ies. Hermione, incredibly, was
sitting in a corner, attempting to read an enormous book entitled Home Life and Social
Habit s of Brit ish Muggles. Harry broke away from the table where Fred and George
had started juggling Butterbeer bottles and went over to her.
“Did you even come to the match?” he asked her.
“Of course I did,” said Hermione in a st rangely high–pitched voice, not looking
up. “ And I’m very glad we won, and I think you did really well, but I need to read this
by Monday.”
“ Come on, Hermione, come and have some food,” Harry said, looking over at
Ron and wondering whether he was in a good enough mood to bury the hatchet.
“ I can’ t , Harry. I’ ve st ill got four hundred and twenty–two pages to read!” said
Hermione, now sounding slight ly hysterical. “ Anyway…” She glanced over at Ron too.
“He doesn’t want me to join in.”
There was no arguing with this, as Ron chose that moment to say loudly, “ If
Scabbers hadn’ t j ust been eaten, he could have had some of those Fudge Flies. He
used to really like them –”
Hermione burst into tears. Before Harry could say or do anything, she tucked
the enormous book under her arm, and, st ill sobbing, ran toward the staircase to the
girls’ dormitories and out of sight.
“Can’t you give her a break?” Harry asked Ron quietly.
“ No,” said Ron flat ly. “ If she j ust acted like she was sorry – but she’ ll never
admit she’ s wrong, Hermione. She’ s st ill act ing like Scabbers has gone on vacat ion or
something.”
The Gryff indor party ended only when Professor McGonagall turned up in her
tartan dressing gown and hair net at one in the morning, to insist that they all go to
bed. Harry and Ron climbed the stairs to their dormitory, still discussing the match. At
last , exhausted, Harry climbed into bed, twit ched the hangings of his four–poster shut
to block out a ray of moonlight , lay back, and felt himself almost instant ly drift ing off
to sleep….
He had a very st range dream. He was walking through a forest , his Firebolt
over his shoulder, following something silvery–white. It was winding its way through
the trees ahead, and he could only catch glimpses of it between the leaves. Anxious to
catch up with it , he sped up, but as he moved faster, so did his quarry. Harry broke
into a run, and ahead he heard hooves gathering speed. Now he was running f lat out ,
and ahead he could hear galloping. Then he turned a corner into a clearing and –
“AAARRGGHH! NOOO!”
Harry woke as suddenly as though he’ d been hit in the face. Disoriented in the
total darkness, he fumbled with his hangings, he could hear movements around him,
and Seamus Finnigan’s voice from the other side of the room: “What’s going on?”
Harry thought he heard the dormitory door slam. At last f inding the divide in
his curtains, he ripped them back, and at the same moment , Dean Thomas lit his
lamp. Ron was sit t ing up in bed, the hangings torn from one side, a look of utmost
terror on his face.
“Black! Sirius Black! With a knife!”
“What?”
“Here! Just now! Slashed the curtains! Woke me up!”
“You sure you weren’t dreaming, Ron?” said Dean.
“Look at the curtains! I tell you, he was here!”
They all scrambled out of bed; Harry reached the dormitory door first , and
they sprinted back down the staircase. Doors opened behind them, and sleepy voices
called after them.
“Who shouted?”
“What’re you doing?”
The common room was lit with the glow of the dying fire, st ill lit tered with the
debris from the party. It was deserted.
“Are you sure you weren’t dreaming, Ron?”
“I’m telling you, I saw him!”
“What’s all the noise?”
“Professor McGonagall told us to go to bed!”
A few of the girls had come down their staircase, pulling or, dressing gowns and
yawning. Boys, too, were reappearing.
“Excellent, are we carrying on?” said Fred Weasley brightly.
“ Everyone back upstairs!” said Percy, hurrying into the common room and
pinning his Head Boy badge to his pajamas as he spoke.
“Perce – Sirius Black!” said Ron faint ly. “ In our dormitory! With a knife! Woke
me up!”
The common room went very still.
“ Nonsense!” said Percy, looking start led. “ You had too much to eat , Ron – had
a nightmare –”
“I’m telling you –”
“Now, really, enough’s enough!”
Professor McGonagall was back. She slammed the port rait behind her as she
entered the common room and stared furiously around.
“ I am delighted that Gryffindor won the match, but this is get t ing ridiculous!
Percy, I expected better of you!”
“ I certainly didn’ t authorize this, Professor!” said Percy, puffing himself up
indignant ly. “ I was j ust telling them all to get back to bed! My brother Ron here had a
nightmare –”
“ IT WASN’T A NIGHTMARE!” Ron yelled. “ PROFESSOR, I WOKE UP, AND SIRIUS
BLACK WAS STANDING OVER ME, HOLDING A KNIFE!”
Professor McGonagall stared at him.
“ Don’ t be ridiculous, Weasley, how could he possibly have got ten through the
portrait hole?”
“ Ask him!” said Ron, point ing a shaking finger at the back of Sir Cadogan’ s
picture. “Ask him if he saw –”
Glaring suspiciously at Ron, Professor McGonagall pushed the Port rait back
open and went outside. The whole common room listened with bated breath. “ Sir
Cadogan, did you just let a man enter Gryffindor Tower?”
“Certainly, good lady!” cried Sir Cadogan.
There was a stunned silence, both inside and outside the common room.
“You – you did?” said Professor McGonagall. “But – but the password!”
“ He had ‘ em!” said Sir Cadogan proudly. “ Had the whole week’ s, my lady!
Read ‘em off a little piece of paper!”
Professor McGonagall pulled herself back through the port rait hole to face the
stunned crowd. She was white as chalk.
“Which person,” she said, her voice shaking, “ which abysmally foolish person
wrote down this week’s passwords and left them lying around?”
There was ut ter silence, broken by the smallest of terrified squeaks. Neville
Longbot tom, t rembling from head to fluffy slippered toes, raised his hand slowly into
the air.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN – SNAPE’S GRUDGE
No one in Gryf findor Tower slept that night . They knew that the cast le was
being searched again, and the whole House stayed awake in the common room,
wait ing to hear whether Black had been caught . Professor McGonagall came back at
dawn, to tell them that he had again escaped.
Throughout the day, everywhere they went they saw signs of t ighter securit y;
Professor Flitwick could be seen teaching the front doors to recognize a large picture
of Sirius Black; Filch was suddenly bust ling up and down the corridors, boarding up
everything f rom t iny cracks in the walls to mouse holes. Sir Cadogan had been fired.
His portrait had been taken back to its lonely landing on the seventh floor, and the Fat
Lady was back. She had been expert ly restored, but was st ill ext remely nervous, and
had agreed to return to her j ob only on condit ion that she was given ext ra protect ion.
A bunch of surly security trolls had been hired to guard her. They paced the corridor in
a menacing group, talking in grunts and comparing the size of their clubs.
Harry couldn’ t help not icing that the statue of the one–eyed witch on the third
floor remained unguarded and unblocked. It seemed that Fred and George had been
right in thinking that they – and now Harry, Ron, and Hermione – were the only ones
who knew about the hidden passageway within it.
“D’you reckon we should tell someone?” Harry asked Ron.
“We know he’ s not coming in through Honeyduke’ s,” said Ron dismissively.
“We’d’ve heard if the shop had been broken into.”
Harry was glad Ron took this view. If the one–eyed wit ch was boarded up too,
he would never be able to go into Hogsmeade again. Ron had become an instant
celebrit y. For the f irst t ime in his life, people were paying more at tent ion to him than
to Harry, and it was clear that Ron was rather enj oying the experience. Though st ill
severely shaken by the night ’ s events, he was happy to tell anyone who asked what
had happened, with a wealth of detail.
“ … I was asleep, and I heard this ripping noise, and I thought it was in my
dream, you know? But then there was this draft … I woke up and one side of the
hangings on my bed had been pulled down…. I rolled over… and I saw him standing
over me… like a skeleton, with loads of filthy hair … holding this great long knife,
must ’ ve been twelve inches… and he looked at me, and I looked at him, and then I
yelled, and he scampered.
“Why, though?” Ron added to Harry as the group of second-year girls who had
been listening to his chilling tale departed. “Why did he run?”
Harry had been wondering the same thing. Why had Black, having got the
wrong bed, not silenced Ron and proceeded to Harry? Black had proved twelve years
ago that he didn’ t mind murdering innocent people, and this t ime he had been facing
five unarmed boys, four of whom were asleep.
“ He must ’ ve known he’ d have a j ob get t ing back out of the cast le once you’ d
yelled and woken people up,” said Harry thought fully. “ He’ d’ ve had to kill the whole
House to get back through the portrait hole… then he would’ ve met the teachers….”
Neville was in total disgrace. Professor McGonagall was so furious with him she
had banned him from all future Hogsmeade visits, given him a detent ion, and
forbidden anyone to give him the password into the tower. Poor Neville was forced to
wait . outside the common room every night for somebody to let him in, while the
security t rolls leered unpleasant ly at him. None of these punishments, however, came
close to matching the one his grandmother had in store for him. Two days after Black’s
break–in, she sent Neville the very worst thing a Hogwarts student could receive over
breakfast – a Howler.
The school owls swooped into the Great Hall carrying the mail as usual, and
Neville choked as a huge barn owl landed in front of him, a scarlet envelope clutched
in its beak. Harry and Ron, who were sit t ing opposite him, recognized the let ter as a
Howler at once – Ron had got one from his mother the year before.
“Run for it, Neville,” Ron advised.
Neville didn’ t need telling twice. He seized the envelope, and holding it before
him like a bomb, sprinted out of the hall, while the Slytherin table exploded with
laughter at the sight of him. They heard the Howler go off in the ent rance hall –
Neville’ s grandmother’ s voice, magically magnified to a hundred t imes its Usual
volume, shrieking about how he had brought shame on the whole family.
Harry was too busy feeling sorry for Neville to notice immediately that he had a
letter too. Hedwig got his attention by nipping him sharply on the wrist.
“Ouch! Oh – thanks, Hedwig.”
Harry tore open the envelope while Hedwig helped herself to some of Neville’ s
cornflakes. The note inside said:
Dear Harry and Ron,
How Abut having t ea wit h me this af t ernoon ‘ round six? I’ l l come
col lect you f rom t he cast le. WAIT FOR ME IN THE ENTRANCE HALL;
YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED OUT ON YOUR OWN.
Cheers,
Hagrid
“He probably wants to hear all about Black!” said Ron.
So at six o’ clock that afternoon, Harry and Ron left Gryffindor Tower, passed
the security trolls at a run, and headed down to the entrance hall.
Hagrid was already waiting for them.
“ All right , Hagrid!” said Ron. “ S’ pose you want to hear about Saturday night ,
do you?”
“ I’ ve already heard all abou’ it ,” said Hagrid, opening the front doors and
leading them outside.
“Oh,” said Ron, looking slightly put out.
The first thing they saw on entering Hagrid’ s cabin was Buckbeak, who was
st retched out on top of Hagrid’ s patchwork quilt , his enormous wings folded t ight to
his body, enj oying a large plate of dead ferrets. Avert ing his eyes from this unpleasant
sight , Harry saw a gigant ic, hairy brown suit and a very horrible yellow–and–orange t ie
hanging from the top of Hagrid’s wardrobe door.
“What are they for, Hagrid?” said Harry.
“ Buckbeaks case against the Commit tee fer the Disposal o’ Dangerous
Creatures,” said Hagrid. “ This Friday. Him an’ me’ ll be goin’ down ter London
together. I’ve booked two beds on the Knight Bus….”
Harry felt a nasty pang of guilt . He had completely forgot ten that Buckbeak’ s
t rial was so near, and judging by the uneasy look on Ron’ s face, he had too. They had
also forgot ten their promise about helping him prepare Buckbeak’ s defense; the
arrival of the Firebolt had driven it clean out of their minds.
Hagrid poured them tea and offered them a plate of Bath buns but they knew
better than to accept; they had had too much experience with Hagrid’s cooking.
“I got somethin’ ter discuss with you two,” said Hagrid, sitting himself between
them and looking uncharacteristically serious.
“What?” said Harry.
“Hermione,” said Hagrid.
“What about her?” said Ron.
“ She’ s in a righ’ state, that ’ s what . She’ s bin comin’ down ter visit me a lot
since Chris’mas. Bin feelin’ lonely. Firs’ yeh weren’ talking to her because o’ the
Firebolt, now yer not talkin’ to her because her cat –”
“ – ate Scabbers!” Ron interjected angrily.
“ Because her cat acted like all cats do,” Hagrid cont inued doggedly. “ She’ s
cried a fair few t imes, yeh know. Goin’ through a rough t ime at the moment . Bit ten
of f more’ n she can chew, if yeh ask me, all the work she’ s t ryin’ ter do. St ill found
time ter help me with Buckbeak’s case, mind…. She’s found some really good stuff fer
me… reckon he’ll stand a good chance now…”
“Hagrid, we should’ve helped as well – sorry –” Harry began awkwardly.
“I’m not blamin’ yeh!” said Hagrid, waving Harry’s apology aside. “Gawd knows
yeh’ve had enough ter be gettin’ on with. I’ve seen yeh practicin’ Quidditch ev’ry hour
o’ the day an’ night – but I got ta tell yeh, I thought you two’ d value yer friend more’ n
broomsticks or rats. Tha’s all.”
Harry and Ron exchanged uncomfortable looks.
“ Really upset , she was, when Black nearly stabbed yeh, Ron. She’ s got her
heart in the right place, Hermione has, an’ you two not talkin’ to her –”
“ If she’ d j ust get rid of that cat , I’ d speak to her again!” Ron said angrily. “ But
she’s still sticking up for it! It’s a maniac, and she won’t hear a word against it!”
“ Ah, well, people can be a bit stupid abou’ their pets,” said Hagrid wisely.
Behind him, Buckbeak spat a few ferret bones onto Hagrid’s pillow.
They spent the rest of their visit discussing Gryffindor’ s improved chances for
the Quidditch Cup. At nine o’ clock, Hagrid walked them back up to the cast le. A large
group of people was bunched around the bullet in board when they returned to the
common room.
“Hogsmeade, next weekend!” said Ron, craning over the heads to read the new
notice. “What d’you reckon?” he added quietly to Harry as they went to sit down.
“Well, Filch hasn’t done anything about the passage into Honeydukes….” Harry
said, even more quietly.
“ Harry!” said a voice in his right ear. Harry started and looked around at
Hermione, who was sit t ing at the table right behind them and clearing a space in the
wall of books that had been hiding her.
“ Harry, if you go into Hogsmeade again… I’ ll tell Professor McGonagall about
that map!” said Hermione.
“Can you hear someone talking, Harry?” growled Ron, not looking at Hermione.
“ Ron, how can you let him go with you? Af ter what Sirius Black nearly did to
you! I mean it, I’ll tell –”
“ So now you’ re t rying to get Harry expelled!” said Ron furiously. “ Haven’ t you
done enough damage this year?”
Hermione opened her mouth to respond, but with a soft hiss, Crookshanks leapt
onto her lap. Hermione took one f rightened look at the expression on Ron’ s face,
gathered up Crookshanks, and hurried away toward the girls’ dormitories.
“ So how about it?” Ron said to Harry as though there had been no interrupt ion.
“ Come on, last t ime we went you didn’ t see anything. You haven’ t even been inside
Zonko’s yet!”
Harry looked around to check that Hermione was well out of earshot.
“Okay,” he said. “But I’m taking the Invisibility Cloak this time.”
On Saturday morning, Harry packed his Invisibility Cloak in his bag, slipped the
Marauder’ s Map into his pocket , and went down to breakfast with everyone else.
Hermione kept shoot ing suspicious looks down the table at him, but he avoided her
eye and was careful to let her see him walking back up the marble staircase in the
entrance hall as everybody else proceeded to the front doors.
“‘Bye!” Harry called to Ron. “See you when you get back!”
Ron grinned and winked.
Harry hurried up to the third f loor, slipping the Marauder’ s Map out of his
pocket as he went . Crouching behind the one–eyed witch, he smoothed it out . A t iny
dot was moving in his direct ion. Harry squinted at it . The minuscule writ ing next to it
read Neville Longbottom.
Harry quickly pulled out his wand, mut tered, “ Dissendium!” and shoved his bag
into the statue, but before he could climb in himself, Neville came around the corner.
“Harry! I forgot you weren’t going to Hogsmeade either!”
“ Hi, Neville,” said Harry, moving swift ly away from the statue and pushing the
map back into his pocket. “What are you up to?”
“Nothing,” shrugged Neville. “Want a game of Exploding Snap?”
“Er – not now – I was going to go to the library and do that vampire essay for
Lupin –”
“I’ll come with you!” said Neville brightly. I haven’t done it either!”
“Er – hang on – yeah, I forgot, I finished it last night!”
“Great , you can help me!” said Neville, his round face anxious. “ I don’ t
understand that thing about the garlic at all – do they have to eat it, or –”
He broke off with a small gasp, looking over Harry’ s shoulder. It was Snape.
Neville took a quick step behind Harry.
“ And what are you two doing here?” said Snape, coming to a halt and looking
from one to the other. “An odd place to meet –”
To Harry’ s immense disquiet , Snape’ s black eyes flicked to the doorways on
either side of them, and then to the one–eyed witch.
“We’re not – meeting here,” said Harry. “We just – met here.”
“ Indeed?” said Snape. “ You have a habit of turning up in unexpected places,
Pot ter, and you are very rarely there for no good reason…. I suggest the pair of you
return to Gryffindor Tower, where you belong.”
Harry and Neville set off without another word. As they turned the corner,
Harry looked back. Snape was running one of his hands over the one–eyed witch’ s
head, examining it closely. Harry managed to shake Neville off at the Fat Lady by
telling him the password, then pretending he’ d lef t his vampire essay in the library
and doubling back. Once out of sight of the security t rolls, he pulled out the map
again and held it close to his nose.
The third f loor corridor seemed to be deserted. Harry scanned the map
carefully and saw, with a leap of relief that the t iny dot labeled Severus Snape was
now back in its office. He sprinted back to the one–eyed witch, opened her hump,
heaved himself inside, and slid down to meet his bag at the bot tom of the stone
chute. He wiped the Marauder’ s Map blank again, then set off at a run. Harry,
completely hidden beneath the Invisibility Cloak, emerged into the sunlight outside
Honeydukes and prodded Ron in the back.
“It’s me,” he muttered.
“What kept you?” Ron hissed.
“Snape was hanging around.”
They set off up the High Street.
“Where are you?” Ron kept mut tering out of the corner of his mouth. “ Are you
still there? This feels weird….”
They went to the post office; Ron pretended to be checking the price of an owl
to Bill in Egypt so that Harry could have a good look around. The owls sat hoot ing
sof t ly down at him, at least three hundred of them; from Great Grays right down to
t iny lit t le Scops owls (“ Local Deliveries Only” ), which were so small they could have
sat in the palm of Harry’s hand.
Then they visited Zonko’ s, which was so packed with students Harry had to
exercise great care not to t read on anyone and cause a panic. There were j okes and
t ricks to fulf ill even Fred’ s and George’ s wildest dreams; Harry gave Ron whispered
orders and passed him some gold f rom under the cloak. They lef t Zonko’ s with their
moneybags considerably lighter than they had been on entering, but their pockets
bulging with Dungbombs, Hiccup Sweets, Frog Spawn Soap, and a Nose–Bit ing Teacup
apiece.
The day was fine and breezy, and neither of them felt like staying indoors, so
they walked past the Three Broomst icks and climbed a slope to visit the Shrieking
Shack, the most haunted dwelling in Britain. It stood a lit t le way above the rest of the
village, and even in daylight was slight ly creepy, with its boarded windows and dank
overgrown garden.
“ Even the Hogwarts ghosts avoid it ,” said Ron as they leaned on the fence,
looking up at it . “ I asked Nearly Headless Nick… he says he’ s heard a very rough
crowd lives here. No one can get in. Fred and George t ried, obviously, but all the
entrances are sealed shut….”
Harry, feeling hot from their climb, was j ust considering taking off the cloak
for a few minutes when they heard voices nearby. Someone was climbing toward the
house from the other side of the hill; moments later, Malfoy had appeared, followed
closely by Crabbe and Goyle. Malfoy was speaking.
“ … should have an owl from Father any t ime now. He had to go to the hearing
to tell them about my arm… about how I couldn’t use it for three months….”
Crabbe and Goyle sniggered.
“ I really wish I could hear that great hairy moron t rying to defend himself…
‘There’s no ‘arm in ‘im, ‘onest that Hippogriff’s as good as dead –”
Malfoy suddenly caught sight of Ron. His pale face split in a malevolent grin.
“What are you doing, Weasley?”
Malfoy looked up at the crumbling house behind Ron.
“ Suppose You’ d love to live here, wouldn’ t you, Weasley? Dreaming about
having your own bedroom? I heard your family all sleep in one room – is that true?”
Harry seized the back of Ron’ s robes to stop him from leaping on Malfoy.
“Leave him to me,” he hissed in Ron’s ear.
The opportunity was too perfect to miss. Harry crept silent ly around behind
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, bent down, and scooped a large handful of mud out of the
path.
“We were j ust discussing your friend Hagrid,” Malfoy said to Ron. “ Just t rying
to imagine what he’s saying to the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures.
D’you think he’ll cry when they cut off his Hippogriff’s
SPLAT.
Malfoy’ s head j erked forward as the mud hit him; his silverblond hair was
suddenly dripping in muck. “What the –?”
Ron had to hold onto the fence to keep himself standing, he was laughing so
hard. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle spun stupidly on the spot , staring wildly around,
Malfoy trying to wipe his hair clean.
“What was that? Who did that?”
“ Very haunted up here, isn’ t it?” said Ron, with the air of one comment ing on
the weather.
Crabbe and Goyle were looking scared. Their bulging muscles were no use
against ghosts. Malfoy was staring madly around at the deserted landscape. Harry
sneaked along the path, where a part icularly sloppy puddle yielded some foul–
smelling, green sludge.
SPLATTER.
Crabbe and Goyle caught some this t ime. Goyle hopped furiously on the spot ,
trying to rub it out of his small, dull eyes.
“ It came from over there!” said Malfoy, wiping his face, and staring at a spot
some six feet to the left of Harry.
Crabbe blundered forward, his long arms outst retched like a zombie. Harry
dodged around him, picked up a st ick, and lobbed it at Crabbe’ s back. Harry doubled
up with silent laughter as Crabbe did a kind of pirouet te in midair, t rying to see who
had thrown it . As Ron was the only person Crabbe could see, it was Ron he started
toward, but Harry stuck out his leg. Crabbe stumbled – and his huge, f lat foot caught
the hem of Harry’s cloak. Harry felt a great tug, then the cloak slid off his face.
For a split second, Malfoy stared at him.
“ AAARGH!” he yelled, point ing at Harry’ s head. Then he turned tail and ran, at
breakneck speed, back down the hill, Crabbe and Goyle behind him.
Harry tugged the cloak up again, but the damage was done.
“ Harry!” Ron said, stumbling forward and staring hopelessly at the point where
Harry had disappeared, “ you’ d bet ter run for it ! If Malfoy tells anyone – you’ d bet ter
get back to the castle, quick –”
“ See you later,” said Harry, and without another word, he tore back down the
pathtoward Hogsmeade.
Would Malfoy believe what he had seen?Would anyone believe Malfoy?Nobody
knew about the Invisibility Cloak – nobody except Dumbledore. Harry’s stomach turned
over – Dumbledore would know exactly what had happened, if Malfoy said any– thing –
Back into Honeydukes, back down the cellar steps, across the stone floor,
through the t rapdoor – Harry pulled off the cloak, tucked it under his arm, and ran,
flat out , along the passage…. Malfoy would get back first … how long would it take
him to find a teacher? Pant ing, a sharp pain in his side, Harry didn’ t slow down unt il
he reached the stone slide. He would have to leave the cloak where it was, it was too
much of a giveaway in case Malfoy had t ipped off a teacher – he hid it in a shadowy
corner, then started to climb, fast as he could, his sweaty hands slipping on the sides
of the chute. He reached the inside of the witch’ s hump, tapped it with his wand,
stuck his head through, and hoisted himself out ; the hump closed, and j ust as Harry
jumped out from behind the statue, he heard quick footsteps approaching.
It was Snape. He approached Harry at a swift walk, his black robes swishing,
then stopped in front of him.
“So,” he said.
There was a look of surpressed t riumph about him. Harry t ried to look
innocent , all too aware of his sweaty face and his muddy hands, which he quickly hid
in his pockets.
“Come with me, Potter,” said Snape.
Harry followed him downstairs, t rying to wipe his hands clean on the inside of
his robes without Snape not icing. They walked down the stairs to the dungeons and
then into nape’s office.
Harry had been in here only once before, and he had been in very serious
t rouble then too. Snape had aquired a few more slimy horrible things in j ars since last
time, all standing on shelves behind his desk, glinting in the firelight and adding to the
threatening atmosphere.
“Sit,” said Snape.
Harry sat. Snape, however, remained, standing.
“Mr. Malfoy has just been to see me with a strange story, Potter,” said Snape.
Harry didn’t say anything.
“ He tells me that he was up by the Shrieking Shack when he ran into Weasley –
apparently alone.”
Still, Harry didn’t speak.
“Mr. Malfoy states that he was standing talking to Weasley, when a large
amount of mud hit him in the back of the head. How do you think that could have
happened?”
Harry tried to look mildly surprised.
“I don’t know, Professor.”
Snape’s eyes were boring into Harry’s. It was exactly like trying to stare down a
Hippogriff. Harry tried hard not to blink.
“Mr. Malfoy then saw an ext raordinary apparit ion. Can you imagine what it
might have been, Potter?”
“No,” said Harry, now trying to sound innocently curious.
“It was your head, Potter. Floating in midair.”
There was a long silence.
“Maybe he’ d bet ter go to Madam Pomf rey,” said Harry. “ If he’ s seeing things
like –”
“What would your head have been doing in Hogsmeade, Pot ter?” said Snape
sof t ly. “ Your head is not allowed in Hogsmeade. No part of your body has permission
to be in Hogsmeade.”
“ I know that ,” said Harry, st riving to keep his face free of guilt or fear. “ It
sounds like Malfoy’s having hallucin –”
“Malfoy is not having hallucinat ions,” snarled Snape, and he bent down, a hand
on each arm of Harry’ s chair, so that their faces were a foot apart . “ If your head was
in Hogsmeade, so was the rest of you.”
“ I’ ve been up in Gryffindor Tower,” said Harry. “ Like you told –” “ Can anyone
confirm that?”
Harry didn’t say anything. Snape’s thin mouth curled into a horrible smile.
“ So,” he said, st raightening up again. “ Everyone from the Minister of Magic
downward has been t rying to keep famous Harry Pot ter safe from Sirius Black. But
famous Harry Pot ter is a law unto himself Let the ordinary people worry about his
safety! Famous Harry Pot ter goes where he wants to, with no thought for the
consequences. Harry stayed silent . Snape was t rying to provoke him into telling the
truth. He wasn’t going to do it. Snape had no proof – yet.
“How extraordinarily like your father you are, Potter,” Snape said suddenly, his
eyes glint ing. “ He too was exceedingly arrogant . A small amount of talent on the
Quidditch field made him think he was a cut above the rest of us too. St rut t ing around
the place with his friends and admirers… The resemblance between you is uncanny.”
“My dad didn’ t st rut ,” said Harry, before he could stop himself . “ And neither
do I.”
“ Your father didn’ t set much store by rules either,” Snape went on, pressing
his advantage, his thin face full of malice. “ Rules were for lesser mortals, not
Quidditch Cup–winners. His head was so swollen –”
“SHUT UP!”
Harry was suddenly on his feet. Rage such as he had not felt since his last night
in Privet Drive was coursing through him. He didn’ t care that Snape’ s face had gone
rigid, the black eyes flashing dangerously.
“What did you say to me, Potter?”
“ I told you to shut up about my dad!” Harry yelled. I know the t ruth, all right?
He saved your life! Dumbledore told me! You wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for my
dad!”
Snape’s sallow skin had gone the color of sour milk.
“ And did the headmaster tell you the circumstances in which your father saved
my life?” he whispered. “Or did he consider the details too unpleasant for precious
Potter’s delicate ears?”
Harry bit his lip. He didn’ t know what had happened and didn’ t want to admit
it – but Snape seemed to have guessed the truth.
“ I would hate for you to run away with a false idea of your father, Pot ter,” he
said, a terrible grin twist ing his face. “ Have you been imagining some act of glorious
heroism? Then let me correct you – your saint ly father and his friends played a highly
amusing j oke on me that would have resulted in my death if your father hadn’ t got
cold feet at the last moment . There was nothing brave about what he did. He was
saving his own skin as much as mine. Had their j oke succeeded, he would have been
expelled from Hogwarts.”
Snape’s uneven, yellowish teeth were bared.
“Turn out your pockets, Potter!” he spat suddenly.
Harry didn’ t move. There was a pounding in his ears. “ Turn out your pockets,
or we go straight to the headmaster! Pull them out, Potter!”
Cold with dread, Harry slowly pulled out the bag of Zonko’ s t ricks and the
Marauder’s Map.
Snap picked up the Zonko’s bag.
“ Ron gave them to me,” said Harry, praying he’ d get a chance to t ip Ron off
before Snape saw him. “He – brought them back from Hogsmeade last time –”
“ Indeed? And you’ ve been carrying them around ever since? How very
touching… and what is this?”
Snape had picked up the map. Harry t ried with all his might to keep his face
impassive.
“Spare bit of parchment,” he said with a shrug.
Snape turned it over, his eyes on Harry.
“ Surely you don’ t need such a very old piece of parchment?” he said. “Why
don’t I just – throw this away?”
His hand moved toward the fire.
“No!” Harry said quickly.
“ So!” said Snape, his long nost rils quivering. “ Is this another t reasured gift
from Mr. Weasley?Or is it – something else?A let ter, perhaps, writ ten in invisible ink?
Or – instructions to get into Hogsmeade without passing the Dementors?”
Harry blinked. Snape’s eyes gleamed.
“ Let me see, let me see….” he mut tered, taking out his wand and smoothing
the map out on his desk. “ Reveal your secret !” he said, touching the wand to the
parchment.
Nothing happened. Harry clenched his hands to stop them from shaking.
“Show yourself!” Snape said, tapping the map sharply.
It stayed blank. Harry was taking deep, calming breaths.
“ Professor Severus Snape, master of this school, commands you to yield the
information you conceal!” Snape said, hitting the map with his wand.
As though an invisible hand were writ ing upon it , words appeared on the
smooth surface of the map.
“Mooney presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his
abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.”
Snape froze. Harry stared, dumbst ruck, at the message. But the map didn’ t
stop there. More writing was appearing beneath the first.
“Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony and would like to add that Professor Snape is an
ugle git.”
It would have been very funny if the situat ion hadn’ t been so serious. And
there was more….
“Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever
became a professor.”
Harry closed his eyes in horror. When he’ d opened them, the map had had its
last word.
“Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the
slimeball.”
Harry waited for the blow to fall.
“So…” said Snape softly. “We’ll see about this….”
He st rode across to his fire, seized a fist ful of glit tering powder from a j ar on
the fireplace, and threw it into the flames.
“Lupin!” Snape called into the fire. “I want a word!”
Ut terly bewildered, Harry stared at the fire. A large shape had appeared in it ,
revolving very fast. Seconds later, Professor Lupin was clambering out of the fireplace,
brushing ash off his shabby robes.
“You called, Severus?” said Lupin mildly.
“ I certainly did,” said Snape, his face contorted with fury as he st rode back to
his desk. “I have just asked Potter to empty his pockets. He was carrying this.”
Snape pointed at the parchment , on which the words of Messrs. Moony,
Wormtail, Padfoot , and Prongs were st ill shining. An odd, closed expression appeared
on Lupin’s face.
“Well?” said Snape.
Lupin cont inued to stare at the map. Harry had the impression that Lupin was
doing some very quick thinking.
“Well?” said Snape again. “ This parchment is plainly full of Dark Magic. This is
supposed to be your area of expert ise, Lupin. Where do you imagine Pot ter got such a
thing?”
Lupin looked up and, by the merest half–glance in Harry’ s direct ion, warned
him not to interrupt.
“ Full of Dark Magic?” he repeated mildly. “ Do you really think so, Severus? It
looks to me as though it is merely a piece of parchment that insults anybody who reads
it. Childish, but surely not dangerous? I imagine Harry got it from a joke shop –”
“ Indeed?” said Snape. His j aw had gone rigid with anger. “ You think a j oke
shop could supply him with such a thing? You don’ t think it more likely that he got it
directly from the manufacturers?”
Harry didn’ t understand what Snape was talking about . Nor, apparent ly, did
Lupin.
“ You mean, by Mr. Wormtail or one of these people?” he said. “ Harry, do you
know any of these men?”
“No,” said Harry quickly.
“ You see, Severus?” said Lupin, turning back to Snape. “ It looks like a Zonko
product to me –”
Right on cue, Ron came burst ing into the office. He was completely out of
breath, and stopped j ust short of Snape’ s desk, clut ching the st itch in his chest and
trying to speak.
“I – gave –Harry – that – stuff,” he choked. “ Bought – it … in Zonko’ s… ages –
ago…”
“Well!” said Lupin, clapping his hands together and looking around cheerfully.
“ That seems to clear that up! Severus, I’ ll take this back, shall I?” He folded the map
and tucked it inside his robes. “ Harry, Ron, come with me, I need a word about my
vampire essay – excuse us, Severus –”
Harry didn’ t dare look at Snape as they left his office. He. Ron, and Lupin
walked all the way back into the ent rance hall before speaking. Then Harry turned to
Lupin.
“Professor, I –”
“ I don’ t want to hear explanat ions,” said Lupin short ly. He glanced around the
empty ent rance hall and lowered his voice. “ I happen to know that this map was
confiscated by Mr. Filch many years ago. Yes, I know it’ s a map,” he said as Harry and
Ron looked amazed. “ I don’ t want to know how it fell into your possession. I am,
however, astounded that you didn’ t hand it in. Part icularly after what happened the
last t ime a student lef t informat ion about the cast le lying around. And I can’ t let you
have it back, Harry.”
Harry had expected that , and was too keen for explanat ions to protest . “Why
did Snape think I’d got it from the manufacturers?”
“ Because…” Lupin hesitated, “ because these mapmakers would have wanted
to lure you out of school. They’d think it extremely entertaining.”
“Do you know them?” said Harry, impressed.
“We’ve met,” he said shortly. He was looking at Harry more seriously than ever
before.
“ Don’ t expect me to cover up for you again, Harry. I cannot make you take
Sirius Black seriously. But I would have thought that what you have heard when the
Dementors draw near you would have had more of an effect on you. Your parents gave
their lives to keep you alive, Harry. A poor way to repay them – gambling their
sacrifice for a bag of magic tricks.”
He walked away, leaving Harry feeling worse by far than he had at any point in
Snape’ s office. Slowly, he and Ron mounted the marble staircase. As Harry passed the
one–eyed witch, he remembered the Invisibility Cloak – it was st ill down there, but he
didn’t dare go and get it.
“ It ’ s my fault ,” said Ron abrupt ly. “ I persuaded you to go. Lupin’ s right , it was
stupid, we shouldn’t’ve done it –”
He broke off; they reached the corridor where the securit y t rolls were pacing,
and Hermione was walking toward them. One look at her face convinced Harry that
she had heard what had happened. His heart plummeted – had she told Professor
McGonagall?
“ Come to have a good gloat?” said Ron savagely as she stopped in front of
them. “Or have you just been to tell on us?”
“ No,” said Hermione. She was holding a let ter in her hands and her lip was
t rembling. “ I j ust thought you ought to know… Hagrid lost his case. Buckbeak is going
to be executed.”
CHAPTER FIFTEEN – THE QUIDDITCH FINAL
“He sent me this,” Hermione said, holding out the letter.
Harry took it . The parchment was damp, and enormous teardrops had smudged
the ink so badly in places that it was very difficult to read.
Dear Hermione,
We lost . I’m al lowed to bring him back t o Hogwart s. Execut ion date to
be f ixed. Beaky has enj oyed London. I won’ t forget al l t he help you
gave us.
Hagrid
“They can’t do this,” said Harry. “They can’t. Buckbeak isn’t dangerous.”
“Malfoy’ s dad’ s frightened the Commit tee into it ,” said Hermione, wiping her
eyes. “ You know what he’ s like. They’ re a bunch of doddery old fools, and they were
scared. There’ ll be an appeal, though, there always is. Only I can’ t see any hope….
Nothing will have changed.”
“Yeah, it will,” said Ron fiercely. “You won’t have to do all the work alone this
time, Hermione. I’ll help.”
“Oh, Ron!”
Hermione flung her arms around Ron’ s neck and broke down completely. Ron,
looking quite terrif ied, pat ted her very awkwardly on the top of the head. Finally,
Hermione drew away.
“Ron, I’m really, really sorry about Scabbers…” she sobbed.
“Oh –well – he was old,” said Ron, looking thoroughly relieved that she had let
go of him. “ And he was a bit useless. You never know, Mum and Dad might get me an
owl now.”
The safety measures imposed on the students since Black’ s second break–in
made it impossible for Harry, Ron, and Hermione to go and visit Hagrid in the
evenings. Their only chance of talking to him was during Care of Magical Creatures
lessons.
He seemed numb with shock at the verdict.
“S’all my fault. Got all tongue–tied. They was all sittin’ there in black robes an’
I kep’ droppin’ me notes and forget t in’ all them dates yeh looked up fer me,
Hermione. An’ then Lucius Malfoy stood up an’ said his bit, and the Committee jus’ did
exac’ly what he told ‘em….”
“ There’ s st ill the appeal!” said Ron fiercely. “ Don’ t give up yet , we’ re working
on it!”
They were walking back up to the cast le with the rest of the class. Ahead they
could see Malfoy, who was walking with Crabbe and Goyle, and kept looking back,
laughing derisively.
“ S’ no good, Ron,” said Hagrid sadly as they reached the cast le steps. “ That
Commit tee’ s in Lucius Malfoy’ s pocket . I’m j us’ gonna make sure the rest o’ Beaky’ s
time is the happiest he’s ever had. I owe him that….”
Hagrid turned around and hurried back toward his cabin, his face buried in his
handkerchief.
“Look at him blubber!”
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle had been standing j ust inside the cast le doors,
listening.
“ Have you ever seen anything quite as pathet ic?” said Malfoy. “ And he’ s
supposed to be our teacher!”
Harry and Ron both made furious moves toward Malfoy, but Hermione got there
first – SMACK!
She had slapped Malfoy across the face with all the st rength she could muster.
Malfoy staggered. Harry, Ron, Crabbe, and Goyle stood flabbergasted as Hermione
raised her hand again.
“Don’t you dare call Hagrid pathetic, you foul – you evil –”
“ Hermione!” said Ron weakly, and he t ried to grab her hand as she swung it
back.
“Get off, Ron!”
Hermione pulled out her wand. Malfoy stepped backward. Crabbe and Goyle
looked at him for instructions, thoroughly bewildered.
“C’mon,” Malfoy mut tered, and in a moment , all three of them had
disappeared into the passageway to the dungeons.
“Hermione!” Ron said again, sounding both stunned and irnpressed.
“ Harry, you’ d bet ter beat him in the Quiddit ch final!” Hermione said shrilly.
“You just better had, because I can’t stand it if Slytherin wins!”
“We’re due in Charms,” said Ron, still goggling at Hermione. “We’d better go.”
They hurried up the marble staircase toward Professor Flitwick’s classroom.
“ You’ re late, boys!” said Professor Flitwick reprovingly as Harry opened the
classroom door. “ Come along, quickly, wands out , we’ re experiment ing with Cheering
Charms today, we’ve already divided into pairs –”
Harry and Ron hurried to a desk at the back and opened their bags. Ron looked
behind him.
“Where’s Hermione gone?”
Harry looked around too. Hermione hadn’ t entered the classroom, yet Harry
knew she had been right next to him when he had opened the door.
“ That ’ s weird,” said Harry, staring at Ron. “Maybe – maybe she went to the
bathroom or something?”
But Hermione didn’t turn up all lesson.
“ She could’ ve done with a Cheering Charm on her too,” said Ron as the class
left for lunch, all grinning broadly – the Cheering Charms had left them with a feeling
of great contentment.
Hermione wasn’t at lunch either. By the time they had finished their apple pie,
the after–effects of the Cheering Charms were wearing off, and Harry and Ron had
started to get slightly worried.
“ You don’ t think Malfoy did something to her?” Ron said anxiously as they
hurried upstairs toward Gryffindor Tower.
They passed the securit y t rolls, gave the Fat Lady the password
(“Flibbertigibbet”), and scrambled through the portrait hole into the common room.
Hermione was sit t ing at a table, fast asleep, her head rest ing on an open
Arithmancy book. They went to sit down on either side of her. Harry prodded her
awake.
“Wh –what?” said Hermione, waking with a start and staring wildly around. “ Is
it time to go? W – which lesson have we got now?”
“ Divinat ion, but it ’ s not for another twenty minutes,” said Harry. “ Hermione,
why didn’t you come to Charms?”
“What? Oh no!” Hermione squeaked. “I forgot to go to Charms!”
“ But how could you forget?” said Harry. “ You were with us t ill we were right
outside the classroom!”
“ I don’ t believe it !” Hermione wailed. “Was Professor Flitwick angry? Oh, it
was Malfoy, I was thinking about him and I lost track of things!”
“ You know what , Hermione?” said Ron, looking down at the enormous
Arithmancy book Hermione had been using as a pillow. “ I reckon you’ re cracking up.
You’re trying to do too much.”
“ No, I’m not !” said Hermione, brushing her hair out of her eyes and staring
hopelessly around for her bag. “ I j ust made a mistake, that ’ s all! I’ d bet ter go and see
Professor Flitwick and say sorry… I’ll see you in Divination!”
Hermione j oined them at the foot of the ladder to Professor Trelawney’ s
classroom twenty minutes later, looking extremely harrassed.
“ I can’ t believe I missed Cheering Charms! And I bet they come up in our
exams; Professor Flitwick hinted they might!”
Together they climbed the ladder into the dim, stifling tower room. Glowing on
every little table was a crystal ball full of pearly white mist. Harry, Ron, and Hermione
sat down together at the same rickety table.
“ I thought we weren’ t start ing crystal balls unt il next term,” Ron mut tered,
casting a wary eye around for Professor Trelawney, in case she was lurking nearby.
“ Don’ t complain, this means we’ ve finished palmist ry,” Harry mut tered back.
“I was getting sick of her flinching every time she looked at my hands.”
“Good day to you!” said the familiar, misty voice, and Professor Trelawney
made her usual dramat ic ent rance out of the shadows. Parvat i and Lavender quivered
with excitement, their faces lit by the milky glow of their crystal ball.
“ I have decided to int roduce the crystal ball a lit t le earlier than I had
planned,” said Professor Trelawney, sit t ing with her back to the fire and gazing
around. “ The fates have informed me that your examinat ion in June will concern the
Orb, and I am anxious to give you sufficient practice.”
Hermione snorted. “Well, honest ly… ‘ the fates have informed her’ who sets
the exam?She does! What an amazing predict ion!” she said, not t roubling to keep her
voice low. Harry and Ron choked back laughs.
It was hard to tell whether Professor Trelawney had heard them as her face
was hidden in shadow. She continued, however, as though she had not.
“ Crystal gazing is a part icularly refined art ,” she said dreamily. “ I do not
expect any of you to See when f irst you peer into the Orb’ s infinite depths. We shall
start by pract icing relaxing the conscious mind and external eyes” – Ron began to
snigger uncont rollably and had to stuff his f ist in his mouth to st ifle the noise – “ so as
to clear the Inner Eye and the superconscious. Perhaps, if we are lucky, some of you
will see before the end of the class.”
And so they began. Harry, at least , felt ext remely foolish, staring blankly at
the crystal ball, t rying to keep his mind empty when thoughts such as “ this is stupid”
kept drift ing across it . It didn’ t help that Ron kept breaking into silent giggles and
Hermione kept tutting.
“ Seen anything yet?” Harry asked them after a quarter of an hour’ s quiet
crystal gazing.
“ Yeah, there’ s a burn on this table,” said Ron, point ing. “ Someone’ s spilled
their candle.”
“ This is such a waste of t ime,” Hermione hissed. “ I could be pract icing
something useful. I could be catching up on Cheering Charms –”
Professor Trelawney rustled past.
“Would anyone like me to help them interpret the shadowy portents within
their Orb?” she murmured over the clinking of her bangles.
“ I don’ t need help,” Ron whispered. “ It ’ s obvious what this means. There’ s
going to be loads of fog tonight.”
Both Harry and Hermione burst out laughing.
“ Now, really!” said Professor Trelawney as everyone’ s heads turned in their
direct ion. Parvat i and Lavender were looking scandalized. “ You are disturbing the
clairvoyant vibrat ions!” She approached their table and peered into their crystal ball.
Harry felt his heart sinking. He was sure he knew what was coming –
“There is something here!” Professor Trelawney whispered, lowerng her face to
the ball, so that it was reflected twice in her huge glasses. “ Something moving… but
what is it?”
Harry was prepared to bet everything he owned, Including his Firebolt , that it
wasn’t good news, whatever it was. And sure enough –
“My dear Professor Trelawney breathed, gazing up at Harry. “ It is here, lainer
than ever before… my dear, stalking toward you, growing ever closer… the Gr –”
“Oh, for goodness’ sake!” said Hermione loudly. “ Not that ridiculous Grim
again!”
Professor Trelawney raised her enormous eyes to Hermione’ s face. Parvat i
whispered something to Lavender, and they both glared at Hermione too. Professor
Trelawney stood up, surveying Hermione with unmistakable anger.
“I am sorry to say that from the moment you have arrived in this class my dear,
it has been apparent that you do not have what the noble art of Divinat ion requires.
Indeed, I don’ t remember ever meet ing a student whose mind was so hopelessly
mundane.”
There was a moment’s silence. Then –
“ Fine!” said Hermione suddenly, get t ing up and cramming Unfogging t he
Future back into her bag. “ Fine!” she repeated, swinging the bag over her shoulder
and almost knocking Ron off his chair. “I give up! I’m leaving!”
And to the whole class’ s amazement , Hermione st rode over to the t rapdoor,
kicked it open, and climbed down the ladder out of sight. It took a few minutes for the
class to set t le down again. Professor Trelawney seemed to have forgot ten all about
the Grim. She turned abrupt ly f rom Harry and Ron’ s table, breathing rather heavily as
she tugged her gauzy shawl more closely to her.
“Ooooo!” said Lavender suddenly, making everyone start . “ Ooooo, Professor
Trelawney, I’ ve j ust remembered! You saw her leaving, didn’ t you? Didn’ t you,
Professor? ‘Around Easter, one of our number will leave us forever!’ You said it ages
ago, Professor!”
Professor Trelawney gave her a dewy smile.
“ Yes, my dear, I did indeed know that Miss Granger would be leaving us. One
hopes, however, that one might have mistaken the Signs…. The Inner Eye can be a
burden, you know…”
Lavender and Parvat i looked deeply impressed, and moved over so that
Professor Trelawney could join their table instead.
“Some day Hermione’s having, eh?” Ron muttered to Harry, looking awed.
“Yeah…”
Harry glanced into the crystal ball but saw nothing but swirling white mist. Had
Professor Trelawney really seen the Grim again?Would he? The last thing he needed
was another near–fatal accident, with the Quidditch final drawing ever nearer.
The Easter holidays were not exactly relaxing. The third years had never had so
much homework. Neville Longbot tom seemed close to a nervous collapse, and he
wasn’t the only one.
“ Call this a holiday!” Seamus Finnigan roared at the common room one
afternoon. “The exams are ages away, what’re they playing at?”
But nobody had as much to do as Hermione. Even without Divinat ion, she was
taking more subj ects than anybody else. She was usually last to leave the common
room at night , first to arrive at the library the next morning; she had shadows like
Lupin’s under her eyes, and seemed constantly close to tears.
Ron had taken over responsibility for Buckbeak’ s appeal. When he wasn’ t doing
his own work, he was poring over enormously thick volumes with names like The
Handbook of Hippogrif f Psychology and Fowl or Foul? A St udy of Hippogrif f Brut al it y.
He was so absorbed, he even forgot to be horrible to Crookshanks.
Harry, meanwhile, had to fit in his homework around Quidditch pract ice every
day, not to ment ion endless discussions of tact ics with Wood. The Gryffindor–Slytherin
match would take place on the first Saturday after the Easter holidays. Slytherin was
leading the tournament by exact ly two hundred points. This meant (as Wood
constant ly reminded his team) that they needed to win the match by more than that
amount to win the Cup. It also meant that the burden of winning fell largely on Harry,
because capturing the Snitch was worth one hundred and fifty points.
“ So you must catch it only if we’ re more than fifty points up,” Wood told Harry
constant ly. “Only if we’ re more than fifty points up, Harry, or we win the match but
lose the Cup. You’ve got that, Haven’t you? You must catch the Snitch only if we’re –”
“I KNOW, OLIVER!” Harry yelled.
The whole of Gryffindor House was obsessed with the coming match. Gryffindor
hadn’ t won the Quidditch Cup since the legendary Charlie Weasley (Ron’ s second
oldest brother) had been seeker. But Harry doubted whether any of them, even Wood,
wanted to win as much as he did. The enmit y between Harry and Malfoy was at its
highest point ever. Malfoy was st ill smart ing about the mud–throwing incident in
Hogsmeade and was even more furious that Harry had somehow wormed his way out of
punishment . Harry hadn’ t forgot ten Malfoy’ s at tempt to sabotage him in the match
against Ravenclaw, but it was the matter of Buckbeak that made him most determined
to beat Malfoy in front of the entire school.
Never, in anyone’ s memory, had a match approached in such a highly charged
atmosphere. By the t ime the holidays were over, tension between the two teams and
their Houses was at the breaking point . A number of small scuff les broke out in the
corridors, culminat ing in a nasty incident in which a Gryffindor fourth year and a
Slytherin sixth year ended up in the hospital wing with leeks sprout ing out of their
ears. Harry was having a part icularly bad t ime of it . He couldn’ t walk to class without
Slytherins st icking out their legs and t rying to t rip him up; Crabbe and Goyle kept
popping up wherever he went, and slouching away looking disappointed when they saw
him surrounded by people. Wood had given inst ruct ions that Harry should be
accompanied everywhere he went , in case the Slytherins t ried to put him out of
act ion. The whole of Gryf findor House took up the challenge enthusiast ically, so that
it was impossible for Harry to get to classes on t ime because he was surrounded by a
vast , chat tering crowd. Harry was more concerned for his Firebolt ’ s safety than his
own. When he wasn’t flying it, he locked it securely in his trunk and frequently dashed
back up to Gryffindor Tower at break times to check that it was still there.
All usual pursuits were abandoned in the Gryffindor common room the night
before the match. Even Hermione had put down her books.
“I can’t work, I can’t concentrate,” she said nervously.
There was a great deal of noise. Fred and George Weasley were dealing with
the pressure by being louder and more exuberant than ever. Oliver Wood was
crouched over a model of a Quidditch f ield in the corner, prodding lit t le figures across
it with his wand and mut tering to himself Angelina, Alicia, and Kat ie were laughing at
Fred’ s and George’ s j okes. Harry was sit t ing with Ron and Hermione, removed f rom
the center of things, t rying not to think about the next day, because every t ime he
did, he had the horrible sensat ion that something very large was fight ing to get out of
his stomach.
“ You’ re going to be fine,” Hermione told him, though she looked posit ively
terrified.
“You’ve got a Firebolt!” said Ron.
“Yeah…” said Harry, his stomach writhing.
It came as a relief when Wood suddenly stood up and yelled, “Team! Bed!”
Harry slept badly. First he dreamed that he had overslept , and that Wood was
yelling, “Where were you? We had to use Neville instead!” Then he dreamed that
Malfoy and the rest of the Slytherin team arrived for the match riding dragons. He was
flying at breakneck speed, t rying to avoid a spurt of f lames from Malfoy’ s steed’ s
mouth, when he realized he had forgot ten his Firebolt . He fell through the air and
woke with a start . It was a few seconds before Harry remembered that the match
hadn’t taken place yet, that he was safe in bed, and that the Slytherin team definitely
wouldn’ t be allowed to play on dragons. He was feeling very thirsty. Quiet ly as he
could, he got out of his four–poster and went to pour himself some water from the
silver jug beneath the window.
The grounds were st ill and quiet . No breath of wind disturbed the t reetops in
the Forbidden Forest ; the Whomping Willow was mot ionless and innocent–looking. It
looked as though the condit ions for the match would be perfect . Harry set down his
goblet and was about to turn back to his bed when something caught his eye. An
animal of some kind was prowling across the silvery lawn.
Harry dashed to his bedside table, snatched up his glasses, and put them on,
then hurried back to the window. It couldn’ t be the Grim – not now – not right before
the match –
He peered out at the grounds again and, after a minute’ s frant ic searching,
spot ted it . It was skirt ing the edge of the forest now… It wasn’ t the Grim at all … it
was a cat …. Harry clut ched the window ledge in relief as he recognized the
bottlebrush tail. It was only Crookshanks….
Or was it only Crookshanks? Harry squinted, pressing his nose flat against the
glass. Crookshanks seemed to have come to a halt . Harry was sure he could see
something else moving in the shadow of the trees too.
And j ust then, it emerged – a gigant ic, shaggy black dog, moving stealthily
across the lawn, Crookshanks t rot t ing at its side. Harry stared. What did this mean? If
Crookshanks could see the dog as well, how could it be an omen of Harry’s death?
“Ron!” Harry hissed. “Ron! Wake up!”
“Huh?”
“I need you to tell me if you can see something!”
“S’all dark, Harry,” Ron muttered thickly. “What’re you or, about?”
“Down here –”
Harry looked quickly back out of the window. Crookshanks and the dog had
vanished. Harry climbed onto the windowsill to look right down into the shadows of
the castle, but they weren’t there. Where had they gone?
A loud snore told him Ron had fallen asleep again.
Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor team entered the Great Hall the next day
to enormous applause. Harry couldn’ t help grinning broadly as he saw that both the
Ravenclaw and Huff lepuff tables were applauding them too. The Slytherin table hissed
loudly as they passed. Harry noticed that Malfoy looked even paler than usual.
Wood spent the whole of breakfast urging his team to eat , while touching
nothing himself then he hurried them off to the field before anyone else had finished,
so they could get an idea of the condit ions. As they left the Great Hall, everyone
applauded again.
“Good luck, Harry!” called Cho.
Harry felt himself blushing.
“Okay – no wind to speak of – sun’ s a bit bright , that could impair your vision,
watch out for it – ground’s fairly hard, good, that’ll give us a fast kickoff –”
Wood paced the field, staring around with the team behind him. Finally, they
saw the front doors of the cast le open in the distance and the rest of the school
spilling onto the lawn.
“Locker rooms,” said Wood tersely.
None of them spoke as they changed into their scarlet robes. Harry wondered if
they were feeling like he was: as though he’ d eaten something ext remely wriggly for
breakfast . In what seemed like no t ime at all, Wood was saying, “ Okay, it ’ s t ime, let’s
go –”
They walked out onto the field to a t idal wave of noise. Three-quarters of the
crowd was wearing scarlet roset tes, waving scarlet flags with the Gryffindor lion upon
them, or brandishing banners with slogans like “ GO GRYFFINDOR!” and “ LIONS FOR
THE CUK’ Behind the Slytherin goal posts, however, two hundred people were wearing
green; the silver serpent of Slytherin glit tered on their flags, and Professor Snape sat
in the very front row, wearing green like everyone else, and a very grim smile.
“And here are the Gryffindors!” yelled Lee Jordan, who was act ing as
commentator as usual. “ Pot ter, Bell, Johnson, Spinnet , Weasley, Weasley, and Wood.
Widely acknowledged as the best team Hogwarts has seen in a good few years –”
Lee’s comments were drowned by a tide of “boos” from the Slytherin end.
“ And here come the Slytherin team, led by Captain Flint . He’ s Made some
changes in the lineup and seems to be going for size rather than skill –”
More boos from the Slytherin crowd. Harry, however, thought Lee had a point .
Malfoy was easily the smallest person On the Slytherin team; the rest of them were
enormous.
“Captains, shake hands!” said Madam Hooch.
Flint and Wood approached each other and grasped each other’ s hand very
tightly; it looked as though each was trying to break the other’s fingers.
“Mount your brooms!” said Madam Hooch. “Three… two… one…”
The sound of her whist le was lost in the roar from the crowd as fourteen
brooms rose into the air. Harry felt his hair f ly back off his forehead; his nerves left
him in the thrill of the flight ; he glanced around, saw Malfoy on his tail, and sped off
in search of the Snitch.
“And it’s Gryffindor in possession, Alicia Spinner of Gryffindor with the Quaffle,
heading st raight for the Slytherin goal posts, looking good, Alicia! Argh, no – Quaffle
intercepted by Warrington, Warrington of Slytherin tearing UP the field – WHAM! – nice
Bludger work there by George Weasley, Warrington drops the Quaffle, it ’ s caught by –
Johnson, Gryff indor back in possession, come on, Angelina – nice swerve around
Montague – duck, Angelina, that ’ s a Bludger!– SHE SCORES! TEN–ZERO TO
GRYFFINDOR!”
Angelina punched the air as she soared around the end of the field; the sea of
scarlet below was screaming its delight
“OUCH!”
Angelina was nearly thrown from her broom as Marcus Flint went smashing into
her.
“Sorry!” said Flint as the crowd below booed. “Sorry, didn’t see her!”
A moment later, Fred Weasley chucked his Beater’ s club at the back of Flint ’ s
head. Flint’s nose smashed into the handle of his broom and began to bleed.
“ That will do!” shrieked Madam Hooch, zooming between then. “ Penalty shot
to Gryffindor for an unprovoked at tack on their Chaser! Penalty shot to Slytherin for
deliberate damage to their Chaser!”
“Come off it, Miss!” howled Fred, but Madam Hooch blew her whistle and Alicia
flew forward to take the penalty.
“ Come on, Alicia!” yelled Lee into the silence that had descended on the
crowd. YES! SHE’S BEATEN THE KEEPER! TWENTY–ZERO TO GRYFFINDOR!”
Harry turned the Firebolt sharply to watch Flint , st ill bleeding freely, f ly
forward to take the Slytherin penalty. Wood was hovering in front of the Gryffindor
goal posts, his jaw clenched.
“ ‘Course, Wood’ s a superb Keeper!” Lee Jordan told the crowd as Flint waited
for Madam Hooch’ s whist le. “ Superb! Very difficult to pass – very difficult indeed –
YES! I DON’T BELIEVE IT! HE’S SAVED IT!”
Relieved, Harry zoomed away, gazing around for the Snitch, but st ill making
sure he caught every word of Lee’ s commentary. It was essent ial that he hold Malfoy
off the Snitch until Gryffindor was more than fifty points up –
“Gryff indor in possession, no, Slytherin in possession – no! Gryffindor back in
possession and it ’ s Kat ie Bell, Kat ie Bell for Gryff indor with the Quaffle, she’ s
streaking up the field – THAT WAS DELIBERATE!”
Montague, a Slytherin Chaser, had swerved in front of Kat ie, and instead of
seizing the Quaffle had grabbed her head. Kat ie cart wheeled in the air, managed to
stay on her broom, but dropped the Quaffle.
Madam Hooch’ s whist le rang out again as she soared over to Montague and
began shout ing at him. A minute later, Kat ie had put another penalty past the
Slytherin Seeker.
“THIRTY–ZERO! TAKE THAT, YOU DIRTY, CHEATING –”
“Jordan, if you can’t commentate in an unbiased way –”
“I’m telling it like it is, Professor!”
Harry felt a huge j olt of excitement . He had seen the Snitch it was shimmering
at the foot of one of the Gryffindor goal posts – but he mustn’ t catch it yet – and if
Malfoy saw it –
Faking a look of sudden concent rat ion, Harry pulled his Firebolt around and
sped off toward the Slytherin end – it worked. Malfoy went haring after him, clearly
thinking Harry had seen the Snitch there….
WHOOSH.
One of the Bludgers came st reaking past Harry’ s right ear, hit by the gigant ic
Slytherin Beater, Derrick. Then again – WHOOSH.
The second Bludger grazed Harry’ s elbow. The other Beater, Bole, was closing
in. Harry had a fleeting glimpse of Bole and Derrick zooming toward him, clubs raised –
He turned the Firebolt upward at the last second, and Bole and Derrick collided
with a sickening crunch.
“ Ha haaa!” yelled Lee Jordan as the Slytherin Beaters lurched away f rom each
other, clutching their heads. “Too bad, boys! You’ll need to get up earlier than that to
beat a Firebold And it ’ s Gryffindor in possession again, as Johnson takes the Quaffle –
Flint alongside her –poke him in the eye, Angelina! –it was a j oke, Professor, it was a
joke – oh no – Flint in possession, Flint f lying toward the Gryf findor goal posts, come
on now, Wood, save –!”
But Flint had scored; there was an erupt ion of cheers from the Slytherin end,
and Lee swore so badly that Professor McGonagall t ried to tug the magical megaphone
away from him.
“Sorry, Professor, sorry! Won’ t happen again! So, Gryffindor in the lead, thirty
points to ten, and Gryffindor in possession –”
It was turning into the dirt iest game Harry had ever played in. Enraged that
Gryf findor had taken such an early lead, the Slytherins were rapidly resort ing to any
means to take the Quaf fle. Bole hit Alicia with his club and t ried to say he’ d thought
she was a Bludger. George Weasley elbowed Bole in the face in retaliat ion. Madam
Hooch awarded both teams penalt ies, and Wood pulled off another spectacular save,
making the score forty–ten to Gryffindor.
The Snitch had disappeared again. Malfoy was st ill keeping close to Harry as he
soared over the match, looking around for it once Gryffindor was fifty points ahead –
Kat ie scored. Fifty–ten. Fred and George Weasley were swooping around her,
clubs raised, in case any of the Slytherins were thinking of revenge. Bole and Derrick
took advantage of Fred’ s and George’ s absence to aim both Bludgers at Wood; they
caught him in the stomach, one after the other, and he rolled over in the air,
clutching his broom, completely winded.
Madam Hooch was beside herself
“ YOU DO NOT ATTACK THE KEEPER UNLESS THE QUAFFLE IS WITHIN THE
SCORING AREA!” she shrieked at Bole and Derrick. “Gryffindor penalty!”
And Angelina scored. Sixty–ten. Moments later, Fred Weasley pelted a Bludger
at Warrington, knocking the Quaf fle Out of his hands; Alicia seized it and put it
through the Slytherin goal – seventy–ten.
The Gryffindor crowd below was screaming itself hoarse –Gryff indor was sixty
points in the lead, and if Harry caught the Snitch now, the Cup was theirs. Harry could
almost feel hundreds of eyes following him as he soared around the field, high above
the rest of the game, with Malfoy speeding along behind him.
And then he saw it. The Snitch was sparkling twenty feet above him.
Harry put on a huge burst of speed; the wind was roaring in his ears; he st retched out
his hand, but suddenly, the Firebolt was slowing down –
Horrif ied, he looked around. Malfoy had thrown himself forward, grabbed hold
of the Firebolt’s tail, and was pulling it back.
“You –”
Harry was angry enough to hit Malfoy, but couldn’ t reach –Malfoy was pant ing
with the effort of holding onto the Firebolt , but his eyes were sparkling maliciously.
He had achieved what he’d wanted to do – the Snitch had disappeared again.
“ Penalty! Penalty to Gryffindor! I’ ve never seen such tact ics.” Madam Hooch
screeched, shoot ing up to where Malfoy was sliding back onto his Nimbus Two
Thousand and One.
“ YOU CHEATING SCUM!” Lee Jordan was howling into the megaphone, dancing
out of Professor McGonagall’s reach. “YOU FILTHY, CHEATING B –”
Pprofessor McGonagall didn’ t even bother to tell him off She was actually
shaking her finger in Malfoys direct ion, her hat had fallen off , and she too was
shouting furiously.
Alicia took Gryffindor’ s penalty, but she was so angry she missed by several
feet . The Gryff indor team was losing concent rat ion and the Slytherins, delighted by
Malfoy’s foul on Harry, were being spurred on to greater heights.
“ Slytherin in possession, Slytherin heading for goal – Montague scores –” Lee
groaned. “Seventy– twenty to Gryffindor…”
Harry was now marking Malfoy so closely their knees kept hit t ing each other.
Harry wasn’t going to let Malfoy anywhere near the Snitch….
“Get out of it , Pot ter!” Malfoy yelled in frust rat ion as he t ried to turn and
found Harry blocking him.
“ Angelina Johnson gets the Quaffle for Gryffindor, come on, Angelina, COME
ON!”
Harry looked around. Every single Slytherin player apart from Malfoy was
st reaking up the pitch toward Angelina, including the Slytherin Keeper – they were all
going to block her –
Harry wheeled the Firebolt around, bent so low he was lying flat along the
handle, and kicked it forward. Like a bullet, he shot toward the Slytherins.
“AAAAAAARRRGH!”
They scattered as the Firebolt zoomed toward them; Angelina’s Way was clear.
“SHE SCORES! SHE SCORES! Gryffindor leads by eighty Points to twenty!”
Harry, who had almost pelted headlong into the stands, skidded to a halt in
midair, reversed, and zoomed back into the middle of the field.
And then he saw something to make his heart stand st ill. Malfoy was diving, a
look of t riumph on his face – there, a few feet above the grass below, was a t iny,
golden glimmer –
Harry urged the Firebolt downward, but Malfoy was miles ahead –
“Go! Go! Go!” Harry urged his broom. He was gaining on Malfoy – Harry
flat tened himself to the broom handle as Bole sent a Bludger at him – he was at
Malfoy’s ankles – he was level –
Harry threw himself forward, took both hands off his broom. He knocked
Malfoy’s arm out of the way and –
“YES!”
He pulled out of his dive, his hand in the air, and the stadium exploded. Harry
soared above the crowd, an odd ringing in his ears. The t iny golden ball was held t ight
in his fist, beating its wings hopelessly against his fingers.
Then Wood was speeding toward him, half–blinded by tears; he seized Harry
around the neck and sobbed unrest rainedly into his shoulder. Harry felt two large
thumps as Fred and George hit them; then Angelina’ s, Alicia’ s, and Kat ie’ s voices,
“We’ ve won the Cup! We’ ve won the Cup!” Tangled together in a many–armed hug,
the Gryffindor team sank, yelling hoarsely, back to earth.
Wave upon wave of crimson supporters was pouring over the barriers onto the
field. Hands were raining down on their backs. Harry had a confused impression of
noise and bodies pressing in on him. Then he, and the rest of the team, were hoisted
onto the shoulders of the crowd.
Thrust into the light , he saw Hagrid, Plastered with crimson roset tes – “ Yeh
beat ‘em, Harry, yeh beat ‘em! Wait till I tell Buckbeak!”
There was Percy, j umping up and down like a maniac, all dignity forgot ten.
Professor McGonagall was sobbing harder even than Wood, wiping her eyes with an
enormous Gryf findor flag; and there, fight ing their way toward Harry, were Ron and
Hermione. Words failed them. They simply beamed as Harry was borne toward the
stands, where Dumbledore stood waiting with the enormous Quidditch Cup.
If only there had been a Dementor around…. As a sobbing Wood passed Harry
the Cup, as he lifted it into the air, Harry felt he could have produced the world’s best
Patronus.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN – PROFESSOR TRELAWNEY’S PREDICTION
Harry’ s euphoria at finally winning the Quidditch Cup lasted at least a week.
Even the weather seemed to be celebrat ing; as June approached, the days became
cloudless and sult ry, and all anybody felt like doing was st rolling onto the grounds and
flopping down on the grass with several pints of iced pumpkin j uice, perhaps playing a
casual game of Gobstones or watching the giant squid propel itself dreamily across the
surface of the lake.
But they couldn’ t . Exams were nearly upon them, and instead of lazing around
outside, the students were forced to remain inside the cast le, t rying to bully their
brains into concent rat ing while ent icing wafts of summer air drifted in through the
windows. Even Fred and George Weasley had been spot ted working; they were about
to take their O.W.L.s (Ordinary Wizarding Levels). Percy was get t ing ready to take his
N.E.W.T.s (Nast ily Exhaust ing Wizarding Test s), the highest qualif icat ion Hogwarts
of fered. As Percy hoped to enter the Minist ry of Magic, he needed top grades. He was
becoming increasingly edgy, and gave very severe punishments to anybody who
disturbed the quiet of the common room in the evenings. In fact , the only person who
seemed more anxious than Percy was Hermione.
Harry and Ron had given up asking her how she was managing to at tend several
classes at once, but they couldn’ t rest rain themselves when they saw the exam
schedule she had drawn up for herself. The first column read:
Monday
9 o’clock, Arithmancy
9 o’clock, Transfiguration
Lunch
1 o’clock, Charms
1 o’clock, Ancient Runes
“ Hermione?” Ron said caut iously, because she was liable to explode when
interrupted these days. “Er – are you sure you’ve copied down these times right?”
“What?” snapped Hermione, picking up the exam schedule and examining it .
“Yes, of course I have.”
“ Is there any point asking how you’ re going to sit for two exams at once?” said
Harry.
“ No,” said Hermione short ly. “ Have either of you seen my copy of Numerology
and Gramatica?”
“Oh, yeah, I borrowed it for a bit of bedt ime reading,” said Ron, but very
quiet ly. Hermione started shift ing heaps of parchment Harry, Ron, and Hermione
plenty of opportunity to speak to Hagrid.
“ Beaky’ s get t in’ a bit depressed,” Hagrid told them, bending low on the
pretense of checking that Harry’ s flobberworm was st ill alive. “ Bin cooped up too
long. But still… we’ll know day after tomorrow – one way or the other –”
They had Pot ions that afternoon, which was an unqualif ied disaster. Try as
Harry might , he couldn’ t get his Confusing Concoct ion to thicken, and Snape, standing
watch with an air of vindict ive pleasure, scribbled something that looked suspiciously
like a zero onto his notes before moving away.
Then came Ast ronomy at midnight , up on the tallest tower; History of Magic on
Wednesday morning, in which Harry scribbled everything Florean Fortescue had ever
told him about medieval wit ch–hunts, while wishing he could have had one of
Fortescue’ s choco–nut sundaes with him in the st ifling classroom. Wednesday
afternoon meant Herbology, in the greenhouses under a baking–hot sun; then back to
the common room once more, with sunburnt necks, thinking longingly of this time next
day, when it would all be over.
Their second to last exam, on Thursday morning, was Defense Against the Dark
Arts. Professor Lupin had compiled the most unusual exam any of them had ever
taken; a sort of obstacle course outside in the sun, where they had to wade across a
deep paddling pool containing a Grindylow, cross a series of potholes full of Red Caps,
squish their way across a patch of marsh while ignoring misleading direct ions f rom a
Hinkypunk, then climb into an old trunk and battle with a new Boggart.
“Excellent, Harry,” Lupin muttered as Harry climbed out of the trunk, grinning.
“Full marks.”
Flushed with his success, Harry hung around to watch Ron and Hermione. Ron
did very well unt il he reached the hinkypunk, which successfully confused him into
sinking waist–high into the quagmire. Hermione did everything perfect ly unt il she
reached the t runk with the Boggart in it . Af ter about a minute inside it , she burst out
again, screaming.
“Hermione!” said Lupin, startled. “What’s the matter?”
“P – P – Professor McGonagall!” Hermione gasped, pointing into the trunk. “Sh –
she said I’d failed everything!”
It took a lit t le while to calm Hermione down. When at last she had regained a
grip on herself, she, Harry, and Ron went back to the cast le. Ron was st ill slight ly
inclined to laugh at Hermione’ s Boggart , but an argument was averted by the sight
that met them on the top of the steps.
Cornelius Fudge, sweat ing slight ly in his pinst riped cloak, was standing there
staring out at the grounds. He started at the sight of Harry.
“Hello there, Harry!” he said. “Just had an exam, I expect? Nearly finished?”
“ Yes,” said Harry. Hermione and Ron, not being on speaking terms with the
Minister of Magic, hovered awkwardly in the background.
“Lovely day,” said Fudge, casting an eye over the lake. “Pity… pity…”
He sighed deeply and looked down at Harry. “ I’m here on an unpleasant
mission, Harry. The Commit tee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures required a
witness to the execut ion of a mad Hippogrif f. As I needed to visit Hogwarts to check
on the Black situation, I was asked to step in.”
“ Does that mean the appeal’ s already happened?” Ron interrupted, stepping
forward.
“ No, no, it ’ s scheduled for this afternoon,” said Fudge, looking curiously at
Ron.
“ Then you might not have to witness an execut ion at all!” said Ron stout ly.
“The Hippogriff might get off!”
Before Fudge could answer, two wizards came through the cast le doors behind
him. One was so ancient he appeared to be withering before their very eyes; the other
was tall and st rapping, with a thin back mustache. Harry gathered that they were
representatives of the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, because tie
very old wizard squinted toward Hagrid’s cabin and said in a feeble voice, “Dear, dear,
I’m getting too old for this…. Two o’clock, isn’t it, Fudge?”
The black–mustached man was fingering something in his belt ; Harry looked
and saw that he was running one broad thumb along the blade of a shining axe. Ron
opened his mouth to say something, but Hermione nudged him hard in the ribs and
jerked her head toward the entrance hall.
“Why’ d you stop me?” said Ron angrily as they entered the Great Hall for
lunch. “Did you see them? They’ve even got the axe ready! This isn’t justice!”
“Ron, your dad works for the Ministry, you can’t go saying things like that to his
boss!” said Hermione, but she too looked very upset. “As long as Hagrid keeps his head
this time, and argue, hi case properly, they can’t possibly execute Buckbeak….”
But Harry could tell Hermione didn’ t really believe what she was saying. All
around them, people were talking excitedly as they ate their lunch, happily
ant icipat ing the end of the exams that afternoon, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione, lost
in worry about Hagrid and Buckbeak, didn’t join in.
Harry’ s and Ron’ s last exam was Divinat ion; Hermione’ s, Muggle Studies. They
walked up the marble staircase together; Hermione left them on the first f loor and
Harry and Ron proceeded all the way up to the seventh, where many of their class
were sit t ing on the spiral staircase to Professor Trelawney’ s classroom, t rying to cram
in a bit of last–minute studying.
“ She’ s seeing us all separately,” Neville informed them as they went to sit
down next to him. He had his copy of Unfogging the Fut ure open on his lap at the
pages devoted to crystal gazing. “ Have either of you ever seen anything in a crystal
ball?” he asked them unhappily.
“ Nope,” said Ron in an offhand voice. He kept checking his watch; Harry. knew
that he was count ing down the t ime unt il Buckbeak’ s appeal started. The line of
people outside the classroom shortened very slowly. As each person climbed back
down the silver ladder, the rest of the class hissed, “What did she ask? Was it okay?”
But they all refused to say.
“ She says the crystal ball’ s told her that if I tell you, I’ ll have a horrible
accident !” squeaked Neville as he clambered back down the ladder toward Harry and
Ron, who had now reached the landing.
“ That ’ s convenient ,” snorted Ron. “ You know, I’m start ing to think Hermione
was right about her” – he j abbed his thumb toward the t rapdoor overhead – “ she’ s a
right old fraud.”
“ Yeah,” said Harry, looking at his own watch. It–was now two o’ clock. “Wish
she’d hurry up…”
Parvati came back down the ladder glowing with pride.
“ She says I’ ve got all the makings of a t rue Seer,” she informed Harry and Ron.
“I saw loads of stuff… Well, good luck!”
She hurried off down the spiral staircase toward Lavender.
“ Ronald Weasley,” said the familiar, misty voice f rom over their heads. Ron
grimaced at Harry and climbed the silver ladder out of sight . Harry was now the only
person left to be tested. He settled himself on the floor with his back against the wall,
listening to a f ly buzzing in the sunny window, his mind across the grounds with
Hagrid.
Finally, after about twenty minutes, Ron’s large feet reappeared on the ladder.
“How’d it go?” Harry asked him, standing up.
“ Rubbish,” said Ron. “ Couldn’ t see a thing, so I made some stuff up. Don’ t
think she was convinced, though….”
“Meet you in the common room,” Harry mut tered as Professor Trelawney’ s
voice called, “Harry Potter!”
The tower room was hotter than ever before; the curtains were closed, the fire
was alight , and the usual sickly scent made Harry cough as he stumbled through the
clut ter of chairs and table to where Professor Trelawney sat wait ing for him before a
large crystal ball.
“Good day, my dear,” she said softly. “If you would kindly gaze into the Orb….
Take your time, now… then tell me what you see within it….”
Harry bent over the crystal ball and stared, stared as hard as he could, willing
it to show him something other than swirling white fog, but nothing happened.
“Well?” Professor Trelawney prompted delicately. “What do you see?”
The heat was overpowering and his nost rils were st inging with the perfumed
smoke waft ing from the fire beside them. He thought of what Ron had j ust said, and
decided to pretend.
“Er –” said Harry, “a dark shape… um…”
“What does it resemble?” whispered Professor Trelawney. “Think, now…”
Harry cast his mind around and it landed on Buckbeak.
“A Hippogriff,” he said firmly.
“ Indeed!” whispered Professor Trelawney, scribbling keenly on the parchment
perched upon her knees. “My boy, you may well be seeing the outcome of poor
Hagrid’ s t rouble with the Minist ry of Magic! Look closer… Does the Hippogrif f appear
to… have its head?”
“Yes,” said Harry firmly.
“ Are you sure?” Professor Trelawney urged him. “ Are you quite sure, dear?You
don’ t see it writhing on the ground, perhaps, and a shadowy figure raising an axe
behind it?”
“No!” said Harry, starting to feel slightly sick.
“No blood? No weeping Hagrid?”
“ No!” said Harry again, want ing more than ever to leave the room and the
heat. “It looks fine, it’s – flying away…”
Professor Trelawney sighed.
“Well, dear, I think we’ ll leave it there…. A lit t le disappoint ing… but I’m sure
you did your best.”
Relieved, Harry got up, picked up his bag and turned to go, but then a loud,
harsh voice spoke behind him.
“IT WILL HAPPEN TONIGHT.”
Harry wheeled around. Professor Trelawney had gone rigid in her armchair; her
eyes were unfocused and her mouth sagging.
“S – sorry?” said Harry.
But Professor Trelawney didn’ t seem to hear him. Her eyes started to roll.
Harry sat there in a panic. She looked as though she was about to have some sort of
seizure. He hesitated, thinking of running to the hospital wing – and then Professor
Trelawney spoke again, in the same harsh voice, quite unlike her own:
“THE DARK LORD LIES ALONE AND FRIENDLESS, ABANDONED BY HIS FOLLOWERS.
HIS SERVANT HAS BEEN CHAINED THESE TWELVE YEARS. TONIGHT, BEFORE MIDNIGHT…
THE SERVANT WILL BREAK FREE AND SET OUT TO REJOIN HISMASTER. THE DARK LORD
WILL RISE AGAIN WITH HIS SERVANTS AID, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN EVER
HE WAS. TONIGHT… BEFORE MIDNIGHT… THE SERVANT… WILL SET OU… TO
REJOIN… HIS MASTER….”
Professor Trelawney’ s head fell forward onto her chest . She made a grunt ing
sort of noise. Harry sat there, staring at her. Then, quite suddenly, Professor
Trelawney’s head snapped up again.
“I’m so sorry, dear boy,” she said dreamily, “ the heat of the day, you know… I
drifted off for a moment….”
Harry sat there, staring at her.
“Is there anything wrong, my dear?”
“You –you j ust told me that the –the Dark Lord’ s going to rise again… that his
servant’s going to go back to him.
Professor Trelawney looked thoroughly startled.
“ The Dark Lord? He–Who–Must–Not–Be–Named? My dear boy, that ’ s hardly
something to joke about…. Rise again, indeed –”
,’But you just said it! You said the Dark Lord –”
“I think you must have dozed off too, dear!” said Professor Trelawney. “I would
certainly not presume to predict anything quite as far–fetched as that!”
Harry climbed back down the ladder and the spiral staircase, wondering… had
he j ust heard Professor Trelawney make a real predict ion? Or had that been her idea
of an impressive end to the test?
Five minutes later he was dashing past the security t rolls outside the ent rance
to Gryffindor Tower, Professor Trelawney’ s words st ill resounding in his head. People
were st riding past him in the opposite direct ion, laughing and j oking, heading for the
grounds and a bit of long–awaited f reedom; by the t ime he had reached the port rait
hole and entered the common room, it was almost deserted. Over in the corner,
however, sat Ron and Hermione.
“Professor Trelawney,” Harry panted, “just told me –”
But he stopped abruptly at the sight of their faces.
“Buckbeak lost,” said Ron weakly. “Hagrid’s just sent this.”
Hagrid’ s note was dry this t ime, no tears had splat tered it , yet his hand
seemed to have shaken so much as he wrote that it was hardly legible.
Lost appeal . They’ re going to execut e at sunset . Not hing you can do.
Don’t come down. I don’t want you to see it.
Hagrid
“We’ ve got to go,” said Harry at once. “ He can’ t j ust sit there on his own,
waiting for the executioner!”
“ Sunset , though,” said Ron, who was staring out the window ill a glazed sort of
way. “We’d never be allowed… ‘specially you, Harry….”
Harry sank his head into his hands, thinking.
“If we only had the Invisibility Cloak….”
“Where is it?” said Hermione.
Harry told her about leaving it in the passageway under the one–eyed witch.
“ … if Snape sees me anywhere near there again, I’m in serious t rouble,” he
finished.
“ That ’ s t rue,” said Hermione, get t ing to her feet . “ If he sees you…. How do
you open the witch’s hump again?”
“You – you tap it and say, ‘Dissendium,’“ said Harry. “But –”
Hermione didn’ t wait for the rest of his sentence; she st rode across the room,
pushed open the Fat Lady’s portrait and vanished from sight.
“She hasn’t gone to get it?” Ron said, staring after her.
She had. Hermione returned a quarter of an hour later with the silvery cloak
folded carefully under her robes.
“ Hermione, I don’ t know what ’ s got ten, into you lately!” said Ron, astounded.
“First you hit Malfoy, then you walk out on Professor Trelawney –”
Hermione looked rather flattered.
They went down to dinner with everybody else, but did not return to Gryffindor
Tower afterward. Harry had the cloak hidden down t ie f ront of his robes; he had to
keep his arms folded to hide the lump. They skulked in an empty chamber off the
ent rance hall, listening, unt il they were sure it was deserted. They heard a last pair of
people hurrying across the hall and a door slamming. Hermione poked her head around
the door.
“Okay,” she whispered, “no one there – cloak on –”
Walking very close together so that nobody would see them, they crossed the
hall on t iptoe beneath the cloak, then walked down the stone front steps into the
grounds. The sun was already sinking behind the Forbidden Forest , gilding the top
branches of the t rees. They reached Hagrid’ s cabin and knocked. He was a minute in
answering, and when he did, he looked all around for his visitor, pale–faced and
trembling.
“ It ’ s us,” Harry hissed. “We’ re wearing the Invisibility Cloak. Let us in and we
can take it off.”
“ Yeh shouldn’ ve come!” Hagrid whispered, but he stood back, and they
stepped inside. Hagrid shut the door quickly and Harry pulled off the cloak.
Hagrid was not crying, nor did he throw himself upon their necks. He looked
like a man who did not know where he was or what to do. This helplessness was worse
to watch than tears.
“Wan’ some tea?” he said. His great hands were shaking as he reached for the
kettle.
“Where’s Buckbeak, Hagrid?” said Hermione hesitantly.
“I – I took him outside,” said Hagrid, spilling milk all over the table as he filled
up the j ug. “ He’ s tethered in me pumpkin patch. Thought he oughta see the t rees an’
– an’ smell fresh air – before …” Hagrid’ s hand t rembled so violent ly that the milk j ug
slipped from his grasp and shattered all over the floor.
“ I’ ll do it , Hagrid,” said Hermione quickly, hurrying over and start ing to clean
up the mess.
“ There’ s another one in the cupboard,” Hagrid said, sit t ing down and wiping
his forehead on his sleeve. Harry glanced at Ron, who looked back hopelessly.
“ Isn’ t there anything anyone can do, Hagrid?” Harry asked fiercely, sit t ing
down next to him. “Dumbledore –”
“ He’ s t ried,” said Hagrid. “ He’ s got no power ter overrule the Commit tee. He
told ‘ em Buckbeak’ s all right , but they’ re scared…. Yeh know what Lucius Malfoy’ s
like… threatened ‘ em, I expect … an’ the execut ioner, Macnair, he’ s an old pal o’
Malfoy’s… but it’ll be quick an’ clean… an’ I’ll be beside him…. “
Hagrid swallowed. His eyes were dart ing all over the cabin as though looking
for some shred of hope or comfort.
“ Dumbledore’ s gonna come down while it – while it happens. Wrote me this
mornin’. Said he wants ter – ter be with me. Great man, Dumbledore….”
Hermione, who had been rummaging in Hagrid’ s cupboard for another milk j ug,
let out a small, quickly st ifled sob. She st raightened up with the new j ug in her hands,
fighting back tears.
“We’ ll stay with you too, Hagrid,” she began, but Hagrid shook his shaggy
head.
“ Yeh’ re ter go back up ter the cast le. I told yeh, I don’ wan’ yeh watchin’ . An’
yeh shouldn’ be down here anyway… If Fudge an’ Dumbledore catch yeh out without
permission, Harry, yeh’ll be in big trouble.”
Silent tears were now st reaming down Hermione’ s face, but she hid them from
Hagrid, bust ling around making tea. Then, as she picked up the milk bot t le to pour
some into the jug, she let out a shriek.
“Ron, I don’t believe it – it’s Scabbers!”
Ron gaped at her.
“What are you talking about?”
Hermione carried the milk j ug over to the table and turned it upside down.
With a frant ic squeak, and much scrambling to get back inside, Scabbers the rat came
sliding out onto the table.
“ Scabbers!” said Ron blankly. “Scabbers, what are you doing here?”
He grabbed the st ruggling rat and held him up to the light . Scabbers looked
dreadful. He was thinner than ever, large tufts of hair had fallen out leaving wide bald
patches, and he writhed in Ron’s hands as though desperate to free himself
“It’s okay, Scabbers!” said Ron. “No cats! There’s nothing here to hurt you!”
Hagrid suddenly stood up, his eyes fixed on the window. His normally ruddy
face had gone the color of parchment.
“They’re comin’….”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione whipped around. A group of men was walking down
the distant cast le steps. In front was Albus Dumbledore, his silver beard gleaming in
the dying sun. Next to him t rot ted Cornelius Fudge. Behind them came the feeble old
Committee member and the executioner, Macnair.
“ Yeh got ta go,” said Hagrid. Every inch of him was t rembling. “ They mustn’
find yeh here…. Go now…”
Ron stuffed Scabbers into his pocket and Hermione picked up the cloak. “I’ll let
yeh out the back way,” said Hagrid.
They followed him to the door into his back garden. Harry felt strangely unreal,
and even more so when he saw Buckbeak a few yards away, tethered to a t ree behind
Hagrid’ s Pumpkin patch. Buckbeak seemed to know something was happening. He
turned his sharp head from side to side and pawed the ground nervously.
“ It ’ s okay, Beaky,” said Hagrid soft ly. “ It ’ s okay…” He turned to Harry, Ron,
and Hermione. “Go on,” he said. “Get goin’.”
But they didn’t move.
“Hagrid, we can’t –”
“We’ll tell them what really happened –”
“They can’t kill him –”
“Go!” said Hagrid fiercely. “It’s bad enough without you lot in trouble an’ all!”
They had no choice. As Hermione threw the cloak over Harry and Ron, they
heard voices at the front of the cabin. Hagrid looked at the place where they had j ust
vanished from sight.
“Go quick,” he said hoarsely. “Don’ listen….”
And he st rode back into his cabin as someone knocked at the f ront door.
Slowly, in a kind of horrif ied t rance, Harry, Ron, and Hermione set off silent ly around
Hagrid’ s house. As they reached the other side, the front door closed with a sharp
snap.
“Please, let’s hurry,” Hermione whispered. “I can’t stand it, I can’t bear it….”
They started up the sloping lawn toward the cast le. The sun was sinking fast
now; the sky had turned to a clear, purple–t inged grey, but to the west there was a
ruby–red glow.
Ron stopped dead.
“Oh, please, Ron,” Hermione began.
“It’s Scabbers – he won’t – stay put –”
Ron was bent over, t rying to keep Scabbers in his pocket , but the rat was going
berserk; squeaking madly, twist ing and f lailing, t rying to sink his teeth into Ron’ s
hand.
“Scabbers, it’s me, you idiot, it’s Ron,” Ron hissed.
They heard a door open behind them and men’s voices.
“Oh, Ron, please let’s move, they’re going to do it!” Hermione breathed.
“Okay – Scabbers, stay put –”
They walked forward; Harry, like Hermione, was t rying not to listen to the
rumble of voices behind them. Ron stopped again.
“I can’t hold him – Scabbers, shut up, everyone’ll hear us –”
The rat was squealing wildly, but not loudly enough to cover up the sounds
drift ing from Hagrid’ s garden. There was a j umble of indist inct male voices, a silence,
and then, without warning, the unmistakable swish and thud of an axe.
Hermione swayed on the spot.
“They did it!” she whispered to Harry. “I d – don’t believe it – they did it!”
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN – CAT, RAT, AND DOG
Harry’ s mind had gone blank with shock. The three of them stood t ransfixed
with horror under the Invisibilit y Cloak. The very last rays of the set t ing sun were
cast ing a bloody light over the long– shadowed grounds. Then, behind them, they
heard a wild howling.
“ Hagrid, ” Harry mut tered. Without thinking about what he was doing, he made
to turn back, but both Ron and Hermione seized his arms.
“We can’ t ,” said Ron, who was paper–white. “ He’ ll be in worse t rouble if they
know we’ve been to see him….”
Hermione’s breathing was shallow and uneven.
“How – could – they?” she choked. “How could they?”
“Come on,” said Ron, whose teeth seemed to be chattering.
They set off back toward the cast le, walking slowly to keep themselves hidden
under the cloak. The light was fading fast now. By the time they reached open ground,
darkness was settling like a spell around them.
“ Scabbers, keep st ill,” Ron hissed, clamping his hand over his chest . The rat
was wriggling madly. Ron came to a sudden halt , t rying to force Scabbers deeper into
his pocket. “What’s the matter with you, you stupid rat? Stay still – OUCH! He bit me!”
“ Ron, be quiet !” Hermione whispered urgent ly. “ Fudge’ ll be out here in a
minute –”
“He won’t – stay – put –”
Scabbers was plainly terrified. He was writhing with all his might , t rying to
break free of Ron’s grip.
“What’s the matter with him?”
But Harry had j ust seen – st inking toward them, his body low to the ground,
wide yellow eyes glint ing eerily in the darkness – Crookshanks. Whether he could see
them or was following the sound of Scabbers’s squeaks, Harry couldn’t tell.
“Crookshanks!” Hermione moaned. “No, go away, Crookshanks! Go away!”
But the cat was getting nearer –
“Scabbers – NO!”
Too late – the rat had slipped between Ron’ s clutching fingers, hit the ground,
and scampered away. In one bound, Crookshanks sprang after him, and before Harry or
Hermione could stop him, Ron had thrown the Invisibilit y Cloak off himself and pelted
away into the darkness.
“Ron!” Hermione moaned.
She and Harry looked at each other, then followed at a sprint ; it was
impossible to run full out under the cloak; they pulled it off and it st reamed behind
them like a banner as they hurt led after Ron; they could hear his feet thundering
along ahead and his shouts at Crookshanks.
“Get away from him – get away – Scabbers, come here –”
There was a loud thud.
“Gotcha! Get off, you stinking cat –”
Harry and Hermione almost fell over Ron; they skidded to a stop right in front
of him. He was sprawled on the ground, but Scabbers was back in his pocket ; he had
both hands held tight over the quivering lump.
“Ron – come on back under the cloak –” Hermione panted. “ Dumbledore the
Minister – they’ll be coming back out in a minute –”
But before they could cover themselves again, before they could even catch
their breath, they heard the soft pounding of gigant ic paws…. Something was
bounding toward them, quiet as a shadow – an enormous, pale–eyed, jet–black dog.
Harry reached for his wand, but too late – the dog had made an enormous leap
and the front paws hit him on the chest ; he keeled over backward in a whirl of hair;
he felt its hot breath, saw inch– long teeth –
But the force of its leap had carried it too far; it rolled of f him. Dazed, feeling
as though his ribs were broken, Harry t ried to stand up; he could hear it growling as it
skidded around for a new at tack. Ron was on his feet . As the dog sprang back toward
them he pushed Harry aside; the dog’ s j aws fastened instead around Ron’ s
outstretched arm. Harry lunged forward, he seized a handful of the brute’s hair, but it
was dragging Ron away as easily as though he were a rag doll –
Then, out of nowhere, something hit Harry so hard across the face he was
knocked off his feet again. He heard Hermione shriek with pain and fall too.
Harry groped for his wand, blinking blood out of his eyes
“ Lumos!” he whispered.
The wandlight showed him the t runk of a thick t ree; they had chased Scabbers
into the shadow of the Whomping Willow and its branches were creaking as though in a
high wind, whipping backward and forward to stop them going nearer. And there, at
the base of the t runk, was the dog, dragging Ron backward into a large gap in the
roots – Ron was fighting furiously, but his head and torso were slipping out of sight –
“ Ron!” Harry shouted, t rying to follow, but a heavy branch whipped lethally
through the air and he was forced backward again.
All they could see now was one of Ron’ s legs, which he had hooked around a
root in an ef fort to stop the dog from pulling him farther underground – but a horrible
crack cut the air like a gunshot ; Ron’ s leg had broken, and a moment later, his foot
vanished from sight.
“Harry – we’ ve got to go for help –” Hermione gasped; she was bleeding too;
the Willow had cut her across the shoulder.
“No! That thing’s big enough to eat him; we haven’t got time –”
“Harry – we’re never going to get through without help –”
Another branch whipped down at them, twigs clenched like knuckles.
“ If that dog can get in, we can,” Harry panted, dart ing here and there, t rying
to find a way through the vicious, swishing branches, but he couldn’ t get an inch
nearer to the tree roots without being in range of the tree’s blows.
“Oh, help, help,” Hermione whispered frant ically, dancing certainly on the
spot, “Please…”
Crookshanks darted forward. He slithered between the bat tering branches like
a snake and placed his front paws upon a knot on the t runk. Abrupt ly, as though the
tree had been turned to marble, it stopped moving. Not a leaf twitched or shook.
“ Crookshanks!” Hermione whispered uncertainly. She now grasped Harry’ s arm
painfully hard. “How did he know –?”
“ He’ s f riends with that dog,” said Harry grimly. “ I’ ve seen them together.
Come on – and keep your wand out –”
They covered the distance to the t runk in seconds, but before they had
reached the gap in the roots, Crookshanks had slid into it with a flick of his
bot t lebrush tail. Harry went next ; he crawled forward, headfirst , and slid down an
earthy slope to the bot tom of a very low tunnel. Crookshanks was a lit t le way along,
his eyes f lashing in the light from Harry’ s wand. Seconds later, Hermione slithered
down beside him.
“Where’s Ron?” she whispered in a terrified voice.
“This way,” said Harry, setting off, bent–backed, after Crookshanks.
“Where does this tunnel come out?” Hermione asked breathlessly from behind
him.
“ I don’ t know… It ’ s marked on the Marauder’ s Map but Fred and George said
no one’ s ever got ten into it …. It goes off the edge of the map, but it looked like it
was heading for Hogsmeade…”
They moved as fast as they could, bent almost double; ahead of them,
Crookshanks’ s tail bobbed in and out of view. On and on went the passage; it felt at
least as long as the one to Honeydukes…. All Harry could think of was Ron and what
the enormous dog might be doing to him…. He was drawing breath in sharp, painful
gasps, running at a crouch….
And then the tunnel began to rise; moments later it twisted, and Crookshanks
had gone. Instead, Harry could see a patch of dim light through a small opening. He
and Hermione paused, gasping for breath, edging forward. Both raised their wands to
see what lay beyond.
It was a room, a very disordered, dusty room. Paper was peeling from the
walls; there were stains all over the floor; every piece of furniture was broken as
though somebody had smashed it. The windows were all boarded up.
Harry glanced at Hermione, who looked very f rightened but nodded. Harry
pulled himself out of the hole, staring around. The room was deserted, but a door to
their right stood open, leading to a shadowy hallway. Hermione suddenly grabbed
Harry’s arm again. Her wide eyes were traveling around the boarded windows.
“Harry,” she whispered, “I think we’re in the Shrieking Shack.”
Harry looked around. His eyes fell on a wooden chair near them. Large chunks
had been torn out of it; one of the legs had been ripped off entirely.
“Ghosts didn’t do that,” he said slowly.
At that moment , there was a creak overhead. Something had moved upstairs.
Both of them looked up at the ceiling. Hermione’ s grip on Harry’ s arm was so t ight he
was losing feeling in–his fingers. He raised his eyebrows at her; she nodded again and
let go. Quiet ly as they could, they crept out into the hall and up the crumbling
staircase. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust except the floor, where a
wide shiny stripe had been made by something being dragged upstairs.
They reached the dark landing.
“ Nox,” they whispered together, and the lights at the end of their wands went
out . Only one door was open. As they crept toward it , they heard movement from
behind it ; a low moan, and then a deep, loud purring. They exchanged a last look, a
last nod.
Wand held t ight ly before him, Harry kicked the door wide open. On a
magnificent four–poster bed with dusty hangings lay Crookshanks, purring loudly at the
sight of them. On the f loor beside him, clut ching his leg, which stuck out at a st range
angle, was Ron. Harry and Hermione dashed across to him.
“Ron – are you okay?”
“Where’s the dog?”
“ Not a dog,” Ron moaned. His teeth were grit ted with pain. “ Harry, it ’ s a t rap
–”
“What –”
“He’s the dog… he’s an Animagus.”
Ron was staring over Harry’ s shoulder. Harry wheeled around. With a snap, the
man in the shadows closed the door behind them.
A mass of filthy, mat ted hair hung to his elbows. If eyes hadn’ t been shining
out of the deep, dark sockets, he might have been a corpse. The waxy skin was
st retched so t ight ly over the bones of his face, it looked like a skull. His yellow teeth
were bared in a grin. It was Sirius Black.
“ Expelliarmus!” he croaked, point ing Ron’ s wand at them. Harry’ s and
Hermione’ s wands shot out of their hands, high in the air, and Black caught them.
Then he took a step closer. His eyes were fixed on Harry.
“I thought you’d come and help your friend,” he said hoarsely.
His voice sounded as though he had long since lost the habit of using it . “ Your
father would have done the same for me. Brave of you, not to run for a teacher. I’m
grateful… it will make everything much easier….”
The taunt about his father rang in Harry’s ears as though Black had bellowed it.
A boiling hate erupted in Harry’ s chest , leaving no place for fear. For the first t ime in
his life, he wanted his wand back in his hand, not to defend himself, but to at tack…
to kill. Without knowing what he was doing, he started forward, but there was a
sudden movement on either side of him and two pairs of hands grabbed him and held
him back….
“ No, Harry!” Hermione gasped in a pet rified whisper; Ron, however, spoke to
Black.
“ If you want to kill Harry, you’ ll have to kill us too!” he said fiercely, though
the effort of standing upright was draining him of st ill more color, and he swayed
slightly as he spoke.
Something flickered in Black’s shadowed eyes.
“Lie down,” he said quietly to Ron. “You will damage that leg even more.”
“ Did you hear me?” Ron said weakly, though he was clinging painfully to Harry
to stay upright. “You’ll have to kill all three of us!”
“There’ll be only one murder here tonight,” said Brack, and his grin widened.
“Why’ s that?” Harry spat , t rying to wrench himself free of Ron, and Hermione.
“ Didn’ t care last t ime, did you? Didn’ t mind slaughtering all those Muggles to get at
Pettigrew… What’s the matter, gone soft in Azkaban?”
“Harry!” Hermione whimpered. “Be quiet!”
“ HE KILLED MY MUM AND DAD!” Harry roared, and with a huge effort he broke
free of Hermione’s and Ron’s restraint and lunged forward –
He had forgot ten about magic – he had forgot ten that he was short and skinny
and thirteen, whereas Black was a tall, full–grown man – all Harry knew was that he
wanted to hurt Black as badly as he could and that he didn’ t care how much he got
hurt in return –
Perhaps it was the shock of Harry doing something so stupid, but Black didn’ t
raise the wands in t ime – one of Harry’ s hands fastened over his wasted wrist , forcing
the wand t ips away; the knuckles of Harry’ s other hand collided with the side of
Black’s head and they fell, backward, into the wall –
Hermione was screaming; Ron was yelling; there was a blinding f lash as the
wands in Black’ s hand sent a j et of sparks into the air that missed Harry’ s face by
inches; Harry felt the shrunken arm under his fingers twist ing madly, but he clung on,
his other hand punching every part of Black it could find.
But Black’s free hand had found Harry’s throat
“No,” he hissed, “I’ve waited too long –”
The fingers tightened, Harry choked, his glasses askew.
Then he saw Hermione’ s foot swing out of nowhere. Black let go of Harry with
a grunt of pain; Ron had thrown himself on Black’ s wand hand and Harry heard a faint
clatter –
He fought free of the tangle of bodies and saw his own wand rolling across the
floor; he threw himself toward it but –
“Argh!”
Crookshanks had j oined the fray; both sets of front claws had sunk themselves
deep into Harry’ s arm; Harry threw him off, but Crookshanks now darted toward
Harry’s wand –
“ NO YOU DON’T!” roared Harry, and he aimed a kick at Crookshanks that made
the cat leap aside, spitting; Harry snatched up his wand and turned –
“Get out of the way!” he shouted at Ron and Hermione.
They didn’ t need telling twice. Hermione, gasping for breath, her lip bleeding,
scrambled aside, snatching up her and Ron’ s wands. Ron crawled to the four–poster
and collapsed onto it , pant ing, his white face now t inged with green, both hands
clutching his broken leg. Black was sprawled at the bot tom of the wall. His thin chest
rose and fell rapidly as he watched Harry walking slowly nearer, his wand point ing
straight at Black’s heart.
“Going to kill me, Harry?” he whispered.
Harry stopped right above him, his wand st ill point ing at Black’ s chest , looking
down at him. A livid bruise was rising around Black’ s left eye and his nose was
bleeding.
“ You killed my parents,” said Harry, his voice shaking slight ly, but his wand
hand quite steady.
Black stared up at him out of those sunken eyes.
“I don’t deny it,” he said very quietly. “But if you knew the whole story.”
“ The whole story?” Harry repeated, a furious pounding in his ears. “ You sold
them to Voldemort. That’s all I need to know.”
“You’ve got to listen to me,” Black said, and there was a note of urgency in his
voice now. “You’ll regret it if you don’t…. You don’t understand….”
“ I understand a lot bet ter than you think,” said Harry, and his voice shook
more than ever. “ You never heard her, did you? My mum… t rying to stop Voldemort
killing me… and you did that… you did it….”
Before either of them could say another word, something ginger st reaked past
Harry; Crookshanks leapt onto Black’ s chest and set t led himself there, right over
Black’s heart. Black blinked and looked down at the cat.
“Get off,” he murmured, trying to push Crookshanks off him.
But Crookshanks sank his claws into Black’ s robes and wouldn’ t shif. He turned
his ugly, squashed face to Harry and looked up at him with those great yellow eyes. To
his right , Hermione gave a dry sob. Harry stared down at Black and Crookshanks, his
grip tightening on the wand. So what if he had to kill the cat too? It was in league with
Black…. If it was prepared to die, t rying to protect Black, that wasn’ t Harry’ s
business…. If Black wanted to save it, that only proved he cared more for Crookshanks
than for Harry’s parents….
Harry raised the wand. Now was the moment to do it . Now was the moment to
avenge his mother and father. He was going to kill Black. He had to kill Black. This was
his chance….
The seconds lengthened. And st ill Harry stood frozen there, wand poised, Black
staring up at him, Crookshanks on his chest . Ron’ s ragged breathing came from near
the bed; Hermione was quite silent. And then came a new sound –
Muf fled footsteps were echoing up through the floor – someone was moving
downstairs.
“WE’RE UP HERE!” Hermione screamed suddenly. “WE’RE UP HERE – SIRIUS
BLACK – QUICK!”
Black made a start led movement that almost dislodged Crookshanks; Harry
gripped his wand convulsively – ‘Do it now!’ said a voice in his head – but the footsteps
were thundering up the stairs and Harry still hadn’t done it.
The door of the room burst open in a shower of red sparks and Harry wheeled
around as Professor Lupin came hurt ling into the room, his face bloodless, his wand
raised and ready. His eyes f lickered over Ron, lying on the floor, over Hermione,
cowering next to the door, to Harry, standing there with his wand covering Black, and
then to Black himself, crumpled and bleeding at Harry’s feet.
“ Expelliarmus!” Lupin shouted.
Harry’ s wand flew once more out of his hand; so did the two Hermione was
holding. Lupin caught them all deftly, then moved into the room, staring at Black, who
st ill had Crookshanks lying Protect ively across his chest . Harry stood there, feeling
suddenly empty. He hadn’ t done it . His nerve had failed him. Black was going to be
handed back to the Dementors.
Then Lupin spoke, in a very tense voice. “Where is he, Sirius?”
Harry looked quickly at Lupin. He didn’ t understannd what Lupin meant . Who
was Lupin talking about? He turned to look at Black again.
Black’s face was quite expressionless. For a few seconds, he didn’t move at all.
Then, very slowly, he raised his empty hand and pointed st raight at Ron. Myst ified,
Harry glanced around at Ron, who looked bewildered.
“ But then…” Lupin mut tered, staring at Black so intent ly it seemed he was
t rying to read his mind, “ . .. why hasn’ t he shown himself before now? Unless” –
Lupin’ s eyes suddenly widened, as though he was seeing something beyond Black,
something none of the rest could see, “ – unless he was the one… unless you
switched… without telling me?”
Very slowly, his sunken gaze never leaving Lupin’s face, Black nodded.
“Professor,” Harry interrupted loudly, “what’s going on –?”
But he never finished the quest ion, because what he saw made his voice die in
his throat. Lupin was lowering his wand, gazing fixed at Black. The Professor walked to
Black’ s side, seized his hand, pulled him to his feet so that Crookshanks fell to the
floor, and embraced Black like a brother.
Harry felt as though the bottom had dropped out of his stomach.
“I DON’T BELIEVE IT!” Hermione screamed.
Lupin let go of Black and turned to her. She had raised herself off the floor and
was pointing at Lupin, wild–eyed. “You – you –”
“Hermione –”
“ – you and him!”
“Hermione, calm down –”
“I didn’t tell anyone!” Hermione shrieked. “I’ve been covering up for you –”
“Hermione, listen to me, please’“ Lupin shouted. “I can explain –”
Harry could feel himself shaking, not with fear, but with a fresh wave of fury.
“ I t rusted you,” he shouted at Lupin, his voice wavering, out of cont rol, “ and
all the time you’ve been his friend!”
“ You’ re wrong,” said Lupin. “ I haven’ t been Sirius’ s f riend, but I am now – Let
me explain….”
“ NO!” Hermione screamed. “ Harry, don’ t t rust him, he’ s been helping Black
get into the castle, he wants you dead too – he’s a werewolf!”
There was a ringing silence. Everyone’ s eyes were now on Lupin, who looked
remarkably calm, though rather pale.
“ Not at all up to your usual standard, Hermione,” he said. “Only one out of
three, I’m afraid. I have not been helping Sirius get into the cast le and I certainly
don’t want Harry dead. An odd shiver passed over his face. “But I won’t deny that I am
a werewolf.”
Ron made a valiant effort to get up again but fell back with a whimper of pain.
Lupin made toward him, looking concerned, but Ron gasped, “ Get away ftom me,
werewolf!”
Lupin stopped dead. Then, with an obvious effort , he turned to Hermione and
said, “How long have you known?”
“Ages,” Hermione whispered. “Since I did Professor Snape’s essay…”
“ He’ ll be delighted,” said Lupin coolly. “ He assigned that essay hoping
someone would realize what my symptoms meant …. Did you check the lunar chart
and realize that I was always ill at the full moon?Or did you realize that the Boggart
changed into the moon when it saw me?”
“Both,” Hermione said quietly.
Lupin forced a laugh.
“You’re the cleverest witch of your age I’ve ever met, Hermione.”
“ I’m not ,” Hermione whispered. “ If I’ d been a bit cleverer, I’ d have told
everyone what you are!”
“But they already know,” said Lupin. “At least, the staffs do.”
“Dumbledore hired you when he knew you were a werewolf. Ron gasped. “Is he
mad?”
“ Some of the staff thought so,” said Lupin. “ He had to work very hard to
convince certain teachers that I’m trustworthy –”
“ AND HE WAS WRONG!” Harry yelled. “ YOUVE BEEN HELPING HIM ALL THE
TIME!”
He was pointing at Black, who suddenly crossed to the four–poster bed and sank
onto it , his face hidden in one shaking hand. Crookshanks leapt up beside him and
stepped onto his lap, purring. Ron edged away from both of them, dragging his leg.
“ I have not been helping Sirius,” said Lupin. “ If you’ ll give me achance, I’ ll
explain. Look –”
He separated Harry’ s, Ron’ s and Hermione’ s wands and threw each back to its
owner; Harry caught his, stunned.
“ There,” said Lupin, st icking his own wand back into his belt . “ You’ re armed,
we’re not. Now will you listen?”
Harry didn’t know what to think. Was it a trick?
“ If you haven’ t been helping him,” he said, with a furious glance at Black,
“how did you know he was here?”
“The map,” said Lupin. “The Marauder’s Map. I was in my office examining it –”
“You know how to work it?” Harry said suspiciously.
“Of course I know how to work it ,” said Lupin, waving his hand impat ient ly. “ I
helped write it. I’m Moony – that was my friends’ nickname for me at school.”
“You wrote –?”
“ The important thing is, I was watching it carefully this evening, because I had
an idea that you, Ron, and Hermione might t ry and sneak out of the cast le to visit
Hagrid before his Hippogriff was executed. And I was right, wasn’t I”
He had started to pace up and down, looking at them. Lit t le patches of dust
rose at his feet.
“You might have been wearing your father’s old cloak, Harry–”
“How d’you know about the cloak?”
“ The number of t imes I saw James disappearing under it …” said Lupin, waving
an impat ient hand again. “ The point is, even if you’ re wearing an Invisibility Cloak,
you st ill show up on the Marauder’ s Map. I watched you cross the grounds and enter
Hagrid’ s hut . Twenty minutes later, you left Hagrid, and set off back toward the
castle. But you were now accompanied by somebody else.”
“What?” said Harry. “No, we weren’t!”
“ I couldn’ t believe my eyes,” said Lupin, st ill pacing, and ignoring Harry’ s
interruption. “I thought the map must be malfunctioning. How could he be with you?”
“No one was with us!” said Harry.
“ And then I saw another dot , moving fast toward you, labeled Sirius Black…. I
saw him collide with you; I watched as he pulled two of you into the Whomping Willow
–”
“One of us!” Ron said angrily.
“No, Ron,” said Lupin. “Two of you.”
He had stopped his pacing, his eyes moving over Ron.
“Do you think I could have a look at the rat?” he said evenly.
“What?” said Ron. “What’s Scabbers got to do with it?”
“Everything,” said Lupin. “Could I see him, please?”
Ron hesitated, then put a hand inside his robes. Scabbers emerged, thrashing
desperately; Ron had to seize his long bald tail to stop him escaping. Crookshanks
stood up on Black’ s leg and made a soft hissing noise. Lupin moved closer to Ron. He
seemed to be holding his breath as he gazed intently at Scabbers.
“What?” Ron said again, holding Scabbers close to him, looking scared. “What’s
my rat got to do with anything?”
“That’s not a rat,” croaked Sirius Black suddenly.
“What d’you mean – of course he’s a rat –”
“No, he’s not,” said Lupin quietly. “He’s a wizard.”
“An Animagus,” said Black, “by the name of Peter Pettigrew.”
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN – MOONY, WORMTAIL, PADFOOT, AND PRONGS
It took a few seconds for the absurdity of this statement to sink in. Then Ron
voiced what Harry was thinking.
“You’re both mental.”
“Ridiculous!” said Hermione faintly.
“ Peter Pet t igrew’ s dead!” said Harry. “ He killed him twelve years ago!” He
pointed at Black, whose face twitched convulsively.
“ I meant to,” he growled, his yellow teeth bared, “ but lit t le Peter got the
better of me… not this time, though!”
And Crookshanks was thrown to the floor as Black lunged at Scabbers; Ron
yelled with pain as Black’s weight fell on his broken leg.
” Sirius, NO!” Lupin yelled, launching himself forwards and dragging Black away
from Ron again, “WAIT! You can’ t do it j ust like that – they need to understand –
we’ve got to explain –”
“We can explain af terwards!” snarled Black, t rying to throw Lupin off. One
hand was st ill clawing the air as it t ried to reach Scabbers, who was squealing like a
piglet, scratching Ron’s face and neck as he tried to escape.
“They’ve – got – a – right – to – know ––everything!” Lupin panted, still trying to
restrain Black. “Ron’s kept him as a pet! There are parts of it even I don’t understand,
and Harry – you owe Harry the truth, Sirius!”
Black stopped struggling, though his hollowed eyes were still fixed on Scabbers,
who was clamped tightly under Ron’s bitten, scratched, and bleeding hands.
“All right, then,” Black said, without taking his eyes off the rat.
“ Tell them whatever you like. But make it quick, Remus. I want to commit the
murder I was imprisoned for…”
“ You’ re nut ters, both of you,” said Ron shakily, looking round at Harry and
Hermione for support. “I’ve had enough of this. I’m off.”
He t ried to heave himself up on his good leg, but Lupin raised his wand again,
pointing it at Scabbers.
“ You’ re going to hear me out , Ron,” he said quiet ly. “ Just keep a t ight hold on
Peter while you listen.”
“ HE’SNOT PETER, HE’SSCABBERS!” Ron yelled, t rying to fore the rat back into
his front pocket, but Scabbers was fighting to hard; Ron swayed and overbalanced, and
Harry caught him am pushed him back down to the bed. Then, ignoring Black, Harry
turned to Lupin.
“There were witnesses who saw Pettigrew die,” he said. “A whole street full of
them…”
“ They didn’ t see what they thought they saw!” said Black savagely, st ill
watching Scabbers struggling in Ron’s hands.
“ Everyone thought Sirius killed Peter,” said Lupin, nodding. “ I believed it
myself – unt il I saw the map tonight . Because the Marauder’ s map never lies… Peter’ s
alive. Ron’s holding him, Harry.”
Harry looked down at Ron, and as their eyes met , they agreed, silent ly: Black
and Lupin were both out of their minds. Their story made no sense whatsoever. How
could Scabbers be Peter Pet t igrew? Azkaban must have unhinged Black after all – but
why was Lupin playing along with him? Then Hermione spoke, in a trembling, would–be
calm sort of voice, as though trying to will Professor Lupin to talk sensibly.
“ But Professor Lupin… Scabbers can’ t be Pet t igrew… it j ust can’ t be t rue, you
know it can’t…”
“Why can’ t it be t rue?” Lupin said calmly, as though they were in class, and
Hermione had simply spotted a problem in an experiment with Grindylows.
“ Because… because people would know if Peter Pet t igrew had been an
Animagus. We did Animagi in class with Professor McGonagall. And I looked them up
when I did my homework – the Minist ry of Magic keeps tabs on witches and wizards
who can become animals; there’ s a register showing what animal they become, and
their markings and things… and I went and looked Professor McGonagall up on the
register, and there have been only seven Animagi this century, and Pet t igrew’ s name
wasn’t on the list.”
Harry had barely had t ime to marvel inwardly at the effort Hermione put into
her homework, when Lupin started to laugh.
“ Light again, Hermione!” he said. “ But the Minist ry never knew that here used
to be three unregistered Animagi running around Hogwarts.”
“ I you’ re going to tell them the story, get a move on, Remus,” said Black, who
was st ill watching Scabbers’ s every desperate move. “ I’ ve waited twelve years, I’m
not going to wait much longer.”
“ All right … but you’ ll need to help me, Sirius,” said Lupin, I only know how it
began…”
Lupin broke off. There had been a loud creak behind him. The bedroom door
had opened of its own accord. All five of them stared at it . Then Lupin st rode toward
it and looked out into the landing.
“No one there…”
“This place is haunted!” said Ron.
“ It ’ s not ,” said Lupin, st ill looking at the door in a puzzled way. “ The Shrieking
Shack was never haunted…. The screams and howls the villagers used to hear were
made by me.”
He pushed his graying hair out of his eyes, thought for a moment then said,
“ That ’ s where all of this starts – with my becoming a werewolf, None of this could
have happened if I hadn’t been bitter… and if I hadn’t been so foolhardy…”
He looked sober and tired. Ron started to interrupt, but Hermione, said,
“Shh!” She was watching Lupin very intently.
“ I as a very small boy when I received the bite. My parents t ried everything,
but in those days there was no cure. The pot ion that Professor Snape has been making
for me is a very recent discovery. It makes me safe, you see. As long as I take it in the
week, preceding the full moon, I keep my mind when I t ransform…. I’m able to curl
up in my office, a harmless wolf, and wait for the moon to wane again.
“ Before the Wolfsbane Pot ion was discovered, however, I became a fully
fledged monster once a month. It seemed impossible that I would be able to come to
Hogwarts. Other parents weren’t likely to want their children exposed to me.
“But then Dumbledore became Headmaster, and he was sympathet ic. He said
that as long as we took certain precaut ions, there was no reason I shouldn’ t come to
school….” Lupin sighed, and looked direct ly at Harry. “ I told you, months ago, that
the Whomping Willow was planted the year I came to Hogwarts. The t ruth is that it
was planted because I came to Hogwarts. This house” – Lupin looked miserably around
the room, – “ the tunnel that leads to it – they were built for my use. Once a month, I
was smuggled out of the cast le, into this place, to t ransform. The t ree was placed at
the tunnel mouth to stop anyone coming across me while I was dangerous.”
Harry couldn’ t see where this story was going, but he was listening rapt ly all
the same. The only sound apart from Lupin’ s voice was Scabbers’ s frightened
squeaking.
“My t ransformat ions in those days were – were terrible. It is very painful to
turn into a werewolf. I was separated from humans to bite, so I bit and scratched
myself instead. The villagers heard the noise and the screaming and thought they were
hearing part icularly violent spirits. Dumbledore encouraged the rumor…. Even now,
when the house has been silent for years, the villagers don’t dare approach it….”
“ But apart from my t ransformat ions, I was happier than I had ever been in my
life. For the first t ime ever, I had friends, three great f riends. Sirius Black… Peter
Pettigrew… and, of course, your father, Harry – James Potter.”
“ Now, my three friends could hardly fail to not ice that I disappeared once a
month. I made up all sorts of stories. I told them my mother was ill, and that I had to
go home to see her… I was terrified they would desert me the moment they found out
what I was. But of course, they, like you, Hermione, worked out the truth….”
“ And they didn’ t desert me at all. Instead, they did something for me that
would make my t ransformat ions not only bearable, but the best t imes of my life. They
became Animagi.”
“My dad too?” said Harry, astounded.
“ Yes, indeed,” said Lupin. “ It took them the best part of three years to work
out how to do it. Your father and Sirius here were the cleverest students in the school,
and lucky they were, because the Animagus t ransformat ion can go horribly wrong –
one reason the Minist ry keeps a close watch on those at tempt ing to do it . Peter
needed all the help he could get from James and Sirius. Finally, in our fifth year, they
managed it. They could each turn into a different animal at will.”
“But how did that help you?” said Hermione, sounding puzzled.
“ They couldn’ t keep me company as humans, so they kept me company as
animals,” said Lupin. “ A werewolf is only a danger to people. They sneaked out of the
cast le every month under James’ s Invisibilit y Cloak. They t ransformed… Peter, as the
smallest , could slip beneath the Willow’ s at tacking branches and touch the knot that
freezes it . They would then slip down the tunnel and j oin me. Under their inf luence, I
became less dangerous. My body was still wolfish, but my mind seemed to become less
so while I was with them.”
“ Hurry up, Remus,” snarled Black, who was st ill watching Scabbers with a
horrible sort of hunger on his face.
“ I’m get t ing there, Sirius, I’m get t ing there… well, highly excit ing possibilit ies
were open to us now that we could all t ransform. Soon we were leaving the Shrieking
Shack and roaming the school grounds and the village by night . Sirius and James
t ransformed into such large animals, they were able to keep a werewolf in check. I
doubt whether any Hogwarts students ever found out more about the Hogwarts
grounds and Hogsmeade than we did…. And that ’ s how we came to write the
Marauder’ s Map, and sign it with our nicknames. Sirius is Padfoot . Peter is Wormtail.
James was Prongs.”
“What sort of animal –?” Harry began, but Hermione cut him off.
“ That was st ill really dangerous! Running around in the dark with a werewolf!
What if you’d given the others the slip, and bitten somebody?”
“ A thought that st ill haunts me,” said Lupin heavily. “ And there were near
misses, many of them. We laughed about them afterwards. We were young,
thoughtless – carried away with our own cleverness.”
I somet imes felt guilty about bet raying Dumbledore’ s t rust , of course… he had
admit ted me to Hogwarts when no other headmaster would have done so, and he had
no idea I was breaking the rules he had set down for my own and others’ safety. He
never knew I had led three fellow students into becoming Animagi illegally. But I
always managed to forget my guilty feelings every t ime we sat down to plan our next
month’s adventure. And I haven’t changed…”
Lupin’ s face had hardened, and there was self–disgust in his voice. “ All this
year, I have been bat t ling with myself, wondering whether I should tell Dumbledore
that Sirius was an Animagus. But I didn’ t do it . Why? Because I was too cowardly. It
would have meant admit t ing that I’ d bet rayed his t rust while I was at school,
admit t ing that I’ d led others along with me… and Dumbledore’ s t rust has meant
everything to me. He let me into Hogwarts as a boy, and he gave me a job when I have
been shunned all my adult life, unable to find paid work because of what I am. And so
I convinced myself that Sirius was get t ing into the school using dark arts he learned
from Voldemort , that being an Animagus had nothing to do with it … so, in a way,
Snape’s been right about me all along.”
“ Snape?” said Black harshly, taking his eyes off Scabbers; for the first t ime in
minutes and looking up at Lupin. “What’s Snape got to do with it?”
“ He’ s here, Sirius,” said Lupin heavily. “ He’ s teaching here as well.” He looked
up at Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
“ Professor Snape was at school with us. He fought very hard against my
appointment to the Defense Against the Dark Arts job. He has been telling Dumbledore
for the whole year that I am not to be t rusted. He has his reasons… you see, Sirius
here played a trick on him which nearly killed him, a trick which involved me –”
Black made a derisive noise.
“It served him right,” he sneered. “Sneaking around, trying to find out what we
were up to… hoping he could get us expelled….”
“ Severus was very interested in where I went every month.” Lupin told Harry,
Ron, and Hermione. “We were in the same year, you know, and we – er – didn’ t like
each other very much. He especially disliked James. Jealous, I think, of James’s talent
on the Quidditch field… anyway Snape had seen me crossing the grounds with Madam
Pomfrey one evening as she led me toward the Whomping Willow to t ransform. Sirius
thought it would be – er –amusing, to tell Snape all he had to do was prod the knot on
the t ree t runk with a long st ick, and he’ d be able to get in after me. Well, of course,
Snape tried it – if he’d got as far as this house, he’d have met a fully-grown werewolf –
but your father, who’ d heard what Sirius had done, went after Snape and pulled him
back, at great risk to his life… Snape glimpsed me, though, at the end of the tunnel.
He was forbidden by Dumbledore to tell anybody, but from that t ime on he knew what
I was….”
“ So that ’ s why Snape doesn’ t like you,” said Harry slowly, “ because he thought
you were in on the joke?”
“That’s right,” sneered a cold voice from the wall behind Lupin.
Severus Snape was pulling off the Invisibilit y Cloak, his wand point ing, direct ly
at Lupin.
CHAPTER NINETEEN – THE SERVANT OF LORD VOLDEMORT
Hermione screamed. Black leapt to his feet . Harry felt as though he’ d received
a huge electric shock.
“ I found this at the base of the Whomping Willow,” said Snape, throwing the
cloak aside, careful to keep this wand point ing direct ly at Lupin’ s chest . “ Very useful,
Potter, I thank you….”
Snape was slight ly breathless, but his face was full of suppressed t riumph.
“ You’ re wondering, perhaps, how I knew you were here?” he said, his eyes glit tering.
“ I’ ve j ust been to your office, Lupin. You forgot to take your pot ion tonight , so I took
a goblet ful along. And very lucky I did… lucky for me, I mean. Lying on your desk was
a certain map. One glance at it told me all I needed to know. I saw you running along
this passageway and out of sight.”
“Severus –” Lupin began, but Snape overrode him.
“ I’ ve told the headmaster again and again that you’ re helping your old friend
Black into the cast le, Lupin, and here’ s the proof. Not even I dreamed you would have
the nerve to use this old place as your hideout –”
“ Severus, you’ re making a mistake,” said Lupin urgent ly. “ You haven’ t heard
everything – I can explain – Sirius is not here to kill Harry –”
“ Two more for Azkaban tonight ,” said Snape, his eyes now gleaming
fanat ically. “ I shall be interested to see how Dumbledore takes this…. He was quite
convinced you were harmless, you know, Lupin… a tame werewolf –”
“ You fool,” said Lupin soft ly. “ Is a schoolboy grudge worth put t ing an innocent
man back inside Azkaban?”
BANG! Thin, snakelike cords burst from the end of Snape’ s wand and twisted
themselves around Lupin’ s mouth, wrists, and ankles; he overbalanced and fell to the
floor, unable to move. With a roar of rage, Black started toward Snape, but Snape
pointed his wand straight between Black’s eyes.
“Give me a reason,” he whispered. “ Give me a reason to do it , and I swear I
will.”
Black stopped dead. It would have been impossible to say which face showed
more hat red. Harry stood there, paralyzed, not knowing what to do or whom to
believe. He glanced around at Ron and Hermione. Ron looked j ust as confused as
hedid, still fighting to keep hold on the struggling Scabbers.
Hermione, however, took an uncertain step toward Snape and said, in a very
breathless voice, “ Professor Snape – it it wouldn’ t hurt to hear what they’ ve got to
say, w – would it?”
“Miss Granger, you are already facing suspension from this school,” Snape spat.
“ You, Pot ter, and Weasley are out–of–bounds, in the company of a convicted murderer
and a werewolf. For once in your life, hold your tongue.”
“But if – if there was a mistake –”
“ KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL!” Snape shouted, looking suddenly quite
deranged. “ DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!” A few sparks shot
out of the end of his wand, which was st ill pointed at Black’ s face. Hermione fell
silent.
“ Vengeance is very sweet ,” Snape breathed at Black. “ How I hoped I would be
the one to catch you….”
“ The j oke’ s on you again, Severus,” Black snarled. “ As long as this boy brings
his rat up to the castle” – he jerked his head at Ron – “I’ll come quietly….”
“ Up to the cast le?” said Snape silkily. “ I don’ t think we need to go that far. All
I have to do is call the Dementors once we get out of the Willow. They’ ll be very
pleased to see you, Black… pleased enough to give you a little kiss, I daresay… I –”
What little color there was in Blacks face left it.
“You –you’ve got to hear me out,” he croaked. “The rat – look at the rat –”
But there was a mad glint in Snape’s eyes that Harry had never seen before. He
seemed beyond reason.
“Come on, all of you,” he said. He clicked his fingers, and the ends of the cords
that bound Lupin flew to his hands. “ I’ ll drag the werewolf. Perhaps the Dementors
will have a kiss for him too –”
Before he knew what he was doing, Harry had crossed the room in three strides
and blocked the door.
“Get out of the way, Pot ter, you’ re in enough t rouble already,” snarled Snape.
“If I hadn’t been here to save your skin –”
“ Professor Lupin could have killed me about a hundred t imes this year,” Harry
said. “ I’ ve been alone with him loads of t imes, having defense lessons against the
Dementors. If he was helping Black, why didn’t he just finish me off then?”
“Don’t ask me to fathom the way a werewolf’s mind works,” hissed Snape.
“Get out of the way, Potter.”
“ YOURE PATHETIC!” Harry yelled. “ JUST BECAUSE THEY MADE A FOOL OF YOU
AT SCHOOL YOU WON’T EVEN LISTEN –”
“ SILENCE! I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO LIKE THAT!” Snape shrieked, looking
madder than ever. “ Like father, like son, Pot ter! I have j ust saved your neck; you
should be thanking me on bended knee! You would have been well served if he’d killed
you! You’ d have died like your father, too arrogant to believe you might be mistaken
in Black – now get out of the way, or I will make you. GET OUT OF THE WAY, POTTER!”
Harry made up his mind in a split second. Before Snape could take even one
step toward him, he had raised his wand.
“ Expelliarmus!” he yelled – except that his wasn’ t the only voice that shouted.
There was a blast that made the door rattle on its hinges; Snape was lifted off his feet
and slammed into the wall, then slid down it to the floor, a t rickle of blood oozing
from under his hair. He had been knocked out.
Harry looked around. Both Ron and Hermione had t ried to disarm Snape at
exact ly the same moment . Snape’ s wand soared in a high arc and landed on the bed
next to Crookshanks.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” said Black, looking at Harry.
“You should have left him to me….”
Harry avoided Black’ s eyes. He wasn’ t sure, even now, that he’d done the right
thing.
“We at tacked a teacher… We at tacked a teacher…” Hermione whimpered,
staring at the lifeless Snape with frightened eyes. “Oh, we’ re going to be in so much
trouble –”
Lupin was st ruggling against his bonds. Black bent down quickly and unt ied
him. Lupin straightened up, rubbing his arms where the ropes had cut into them.
“Thank you, Harry,” he said.
“I’m still not saying I believe you,” he told Lupin.
“ Then it ’ s t ime we offered you some proof,” said Lupin. “ You, boy – give me
Peter, please. Now.”
Ron clutched Scabbers closer to his chest.
“ Come off it ,” he said weakly. “ Are you t rying to say he broke out of Azkaban
j ust to get his hands on Scabbers? I mean…” He looked up at Harry and Hermione for
support , “Okay, say Pet t igrew could turn into a rat – there are millions of rats – how’ s
he supposed to know which one he’s after if he was locked up in Azkaban?”
“ You know, Sirius, that ’ s a fair quest ion,” said Lupin, turning to Black and
frowning slightly. “How did you find out where he was?”
Black put one of his clawlike hands inside his robes and took out a crumpled
piece of paper, which he smoothed flat and held out to show the others.
It was the photograph of Ron and his family that had appeared in the Daily
Prophet the previous summer, and there, on Ron’s shoulder, was Scabbers.
“How did you get this?” Lupin asked Black, thunderstruck.
“ Fudge,” said Black. “When he came to inspect Azkaban last year, he gave me
his paper. And there was Peter, on the front page on this boy’ s shoulder… I knew him
at once… how many t imes had I seen him t ransform? And the capt ion said the boy
would be going back to Hogwarts… to where Harry was…”
“My God,” said Lupin soft ly, staring from Scabbers to the picture in the paper
and back again. “His front paw…”
“What about it?” said Ron defiantly.
“He’s got a toe missing,” said Black.
“Of course,” Lupin breathed. “So simple… so brilliant… he cut it off himself?”
“ Just before he t ransformed,” said Black. “When I cornered him, he yelled for
the whole st reet to hear that I’ d bet rayed Lily and James. Then, before I could curse
him, he blew apart the st reet with the wand behind his back, killed everyone within
twenty feet of himself – and sped down into the sewer with the other rats….”
“ Didn’ t you ever hear, Ron?” said Lupin. “ The biggest bit of Peter they found
was his finger.”
“ Look, Scabbers probably had a fight with another rat or something! He’ s been
in my family for ages, right –”
“ Twelve years, in fact ,” said Lupin. “ Didn’ t you ever wonder why he was living
so long?”
“We – we’ve been taking good care of him!” said Ron.
“ Not looking too good at the moment , though, is he?” said Lupin. “ I’ d guess
he’s been losing weight ever since he heard Sirius was on the loose again….”
“ He’ s been scared of that mad cat !” said Ron, nodding toward Crookshanks,
who was still purring on the bed.
‘But that wasn’ t right ,’ Harry thought suddenly… ‘Scabbers had been looking
ill before he met Crookshanks… ever since Ron’ s return from Egypt … since the t ime
when Black had escaped….’
“ This cat isn’ t mad,” said Black hoarsely. He reached out a bony hand and
stroked Crookshanks’s fluffy head. “He’s the most intelligent of his kind I’ve ever met.
He recognized Peter for what he was right away. And when he met me, he knew I was
no dog. It was a while before he t rusted me…. Finally, I managed to communicate to
him what I was after, and he’s been helping me…”
“What do you mean?” breathed Hermione.
“ He t ried to bring Peter to me, but couldn’ t … so he stole the passwords into
Gryf findor Tower for me…. As I understand it , he took them from a boy’ s bedside
table….”
Harry’s brain seemed to be sagging under the weight of what he was hearing. It
was absurd… and yet…
“ But Peter got wind of what was going on and ran for it .” croaked Black. “ This
cat –Crookshanks, did you call him? – told me Peter had left blood on the sheets…. I
supposed he bit himself… Well, faking his own death had worked once.”
These words jolted Harry to his senses.
“And why did he fake his death?” he said furiously. “Because he knew you were
about to kill him like you killed my parents!”
“No,” said Lupin, “Harry–”
“And now you’ve come to finish him off!”
“Yes, I have,” said Black, with an evil look at Scabbers.
“Then I should’ve let Snape take you!” Harry shouted.
“Harry,” said Lupin hurriedly, “don’t you see? All this time we’ve thought Sirius
betrayed your parents, and Peter tracked him down – but it was the other way around,
don’t you see? Peter betrayed your mother and father – Sirius tracked Peter down –”
“ THAT’S NOT TRUE!” Harry yelled. “ HE WAS THEIR SECRET–KEEPER! HE SAID
SO BEFORE YOU TURNED UP. HE SAID HE KILLED THEM!”
He was point ing at Black, who shook his head slowly; the sunken eyes were
suddenly over bright.
“ Harry… I as good as killed them,” he croaked. “ I persuaded Lily and James to
change to Peter at the last moment , persuaded them to use him as Secret–Keeper
instead of me…. I’m to blame, I know it…. The night they died, I’d arranged to check
on Peter, make sure he was st ill safe, but when I arrived at his hiding place, he’ d
gone. Yet there was no sign of a st ruggle. It didn’ t feel right . I was scared. I set out
for your parents’ house st raight away. And when I saw their house, dest royed, and
their bodies… I realized what Peter must’ve done… what I’d done….”
His voice broke. He turned away.
“ Enough of this,” said Lupin, and there was a steely note in his voice Harry had
never heard before. “ There’ s one certain way to prove what really happened. Ron,
give me that rat.”
“What are you going to do with him if I give him to you?” Ron asked Lupin
tensely.
“ Force him to show himself ,” said Lupin. “ If he really is a rat , it won’ t hurt
him.”
Ron hesitated. Then at long last , he held out Scabbers and Lupin took him.
Scabbers began to squeak without stopping, twist ing and turning, his t iny black eyes
bulging in his head.
“Ready, Sirius?” said Lupin.
Black had already ret rieved Snape’ s wand from the bed. He approached Lupin
and the struggling rat, and his wet eyes suddenly seemed to be burning in his face.
“Together?” he said quietly.
“ I think so…” said Lupin, holding Scabbers t ight ly in one hand and his wand in
the other. “On the count of three. One – two – THREE!”
A flash of blue–white light erupted from both wands; for a moment , Scabbers
was frozen in midair, his small gray form twist ing madly –Ron yelled – the rat fell and
hit the floor. There was another blinding flash of light and then –
It was like watching a speeded–up f ilm of a growing t ree. A head was shoot ing
upward f rom the ground; limbs were sprout ing; a moment later, a man was standing
where Scabbers had been, cringing and wringing his hands. Crookshanks was spit t ing
and snarling on the bed; the hair on his back was standing up.
He was a very short man, hardly taller than Harry and Hermione. His thin,
colorless hair was unkempt and there was a large bald patch on top. He had the
shrunken appearance of a plump man who has lost a lot of weight in a short t ime. His
skin looked grubby, almost like Scabbers’ s fur, and something of the rat lingered
around his pointed nose and his very small, watery eyes. He looked around at them all,
his breathing fast and shallow. Harry saw his eyes dart to the door and back again.
“Well, hello, Peter,” said Lupin pleasant ly, as though rats frequent ly erupted
into old school friends around him. “Long time, no see.”
“S –Sirius… R –Remus…” Even Pet t igrew’ s voice was squeaky. Again, his eyes
darted toward the door. “My friends… my old friends…”
Black’ s wand arm rose, but Lupin seized him around the wrist , gave him a
warning took, then turned again to Pettigrew, his voice light and casual.
“We’ ve been having a lit t le chat , Peter, about what happened the night Lily
and James died. You might have missed the f iner points while you were squeaking
around down there on the bed –”
“ Remus,” gasped Pet t igrew, and Harry could see beads of sweat breaking out
over his pasty face, “you don’t believe him, do you…? He tried to kill me, Remus….”
“ So we’ ve heard,” said Lupin, more coldly. “ I’ d like to clear up one or two
little matters with you, Peter, if you’ll be so –”
“ He’ s come to t ry and kill me again!” Pet t igrew squeaked suddenly, point ing at
Black, and Harry saw that he used his middle f inger, because his index was missing.
“ He killed Lily and James and now he’ s going to kill me too…. You’ ve got to help me,
Remus….”
Black’ s face looked more skull–like than ever as he stared at Pet t igrew with his
fathomless eyes.
“ No one’ s going to t ry and kill you unt il we’ ve sorted a few things out ,” said
Lupin.
“ Sorted things out?” squealed Pet t igrew, looking wildly about him once more,
eyes taking in the boarded windows and, again’ the only door. “ I knew he’ d come
after me! I knew he’d be back for me! I’ve been waiting for this for twelve years!”
“ You knew Sirius was going to break out of Azkaban?” said Lupin, his brow
furrowed. “When nobody has ever done it before?”
“ He’ s got dark powers the rest of us can only dream of!” Pet t igrew shouted
shrilly. “ How else did he get out of there? I suppose He–Who–Must–Not–Be–Named
taught him a few tricks!”
Black started to laugh, a horrible, mirthless laugh that filled the whole room.
“Voldemort, teach me tricks?” he said.
Pettigrew flinched as though Black had brandished a whip at him.
“What , scared to hear your old master’ s name?” said Black. I don’ t blame you,
Peter. His lot aren’t very happy with you, are they?”
“ Don’ t know what you mean, Sirius –” mut tered Pet t igrew, his breathing faster
than ever. His whole face was shining with sweat now.
“ You haven’ t been hiding from me for twelve years,” said Black. “ You’ ve been
hiding from Voldemort ’ s old supporters. I heard things in Azkaban, Peter… They all
think you’ re dead, or you’ d have to answer to them…. I’ ve heard them screaming all
sorts of things in their sleep. Sounds like they think the double–crosser double–crossed
them. Voldemort went to the Pot ters’ on your informat ion… and Voldemort met his
downfall there. And not all Voldemort ’ s supporters ended up in Azkaban, did they?
There are st ill plenty out here, biding their t ime, pretending they’ ve seen the error of
their ways.
“If they ever got wind that you were still alive, Peter –”
“ Don’ t know… what you’ re talking about …” said Pet t igrew again, more shrilly
than ever. He wiped his face on his sleeve and looked up at Lupin. “ You don’ t believe
this – this madness, Remus –”
“ I must admit , Peter, I have difficulty in understanding why an innocent man
would want to spend twelve years as a rat,” said Lupin evenly.
“ Innocent , but scared!” squealed Pet t igrew. “ If Voldemort ’ s supporters were
after me, it was because I put one of their best men in Azkaban – the spy, Sirius
Black!”
Black’s face contorted.
“ How dare you,” he growled, sounding suddenly like the bearsized dog he had
been. I, a spy for Voldemort?When did I ever sneak around people who were st ronger
and more powerful than myself? But you, Peter –I’ ll never understand why I didn’ t see
you were the spy from the start . You always liked big friends who’ d look after you,
didn’t you? It used to be us… me and Remus… and James….
Pettigrew wiped his face again; he was almost panting for breath.
“Me, a spy… must be out of your mind… never… don’ t know how you can say
such a –”
“ Lily and James only made you Secret–Keeper because I suggested it ,” Black
hissed, so venomously that Pet t igrew took a step backward. “ I thought it was the
perfect plan… a bluff … Voldemort would be sure to come after me, would never
dream they’ d use a weak, talent less thing like you…. It must have been the finest
moment of your miserable life, telling Voldemort you could hand him the Potters.”
Pet t igrew was mut tering dist ractedly; Harry caught words like “ far–fetched”
and “ lunacy,” but he couldn’ t help paying more at tent ion to the ashen color of
Pettigrew’s face and the way his eyes continued to dart toward the windows and door.
“Professor Lupin?” said Hermione timidly. “Can – can I say something?”
“Certainly, Hermione,” said Lupin courteously.
“Well – Scabbers – I mean, this – this man – he’ s been sleeping in Harry’ s
dormitory for three years. If he’s working for You–Know–Who, how come he never tried
to hurt Harry before now?”
“ There!” said Pet t igrew shrilly, point ing at Ron with his maimed hand. “ Thank
you! You see, Remus? I have never hurt a hair of Harry’s head! Why should I?”
“ I’ ll tell you why,” said Black. “ Because you never did anything for anyone
unless you could see what was in it for you. Voldemort ’ s been in hiding for fifteen
years, they say he’ s half dead. You weren’ t about to commit murder right under Albus
Dumbledore’ s nose, for a wreck of a wizard who’ d lost all of his power, were you?
You’ d want to be quite sure he was the biggest bully in the playground before you
went back to him, wouldn’ t you?Why else did you find a wizard family to take you in?
Keeping an ear out for news, weren’ t you, Peter? Just in case your old protector
regained strength, and it was safe to rejoin him….”
Pet t igrew opened his mouth and closed it several t imes. He seemed to have
lost the ability to talk.
“Er – Mr. Black – Sirius?” said Hermione.
Black j umped at being addressed like this and stared at Hermione as though he
had never seen anything quite like her.
“ If you don’ t mind me asking, how – how did you get out of Azkaban, if you
didn’t use Dark Magic?”
“ Thank you!” gasped Pet t igrew, nodding frant ically at her. “ Exact ly! Precisely
what I –”
But Lupin silenced him with a look. Black was frowning slight ly at Hermione,
but not as though he was annoyed with her. He seemed to be pondering his answer.
“ I don’ t know how I did it ,” he said slowly. “ I think the only reason I never lost
my mind is that I knew I was innocent. That wasn’t a happy thought, so the Dementors
couldn’ t suck it out of me… but it kept me sane and knowing who I am… helped me
keep my powers… so when it all became … too much… I could transform in my cell…
become a dog. Dementors can’ t see, you know….” He swallowed. “ They feel their
way toward people by feeding off their emot ions…. They could tell that my feelings
were less – less human, less complex when I was a dog… but they thought , of course,
that I was losing my mind like everyone else in there, so it didn’ t t rouble them. But I
was weak, very weak, and I had no hope of driving them away from me without a
wand….”
“ But then I saw Peter in that picture… I realized he was at Hogwarts with
Harry… perfectly positioned to act, if one hint reached his ears that the Dark Side was
gathering strength again….”
Pet t igrew was shaking his head, mouthing noiselessly, but staring all the while
at Black as though hypnotized.
“ … ready to st rike at the moment he could be sure of allies… and to deliver
the last Pot ter to them. if he gave them Harry, who’ d dare say he’ d bet rayed Lord
Voldemort? He’d be welcomed back with honors….
“So you see, I had to do something. I was the only one who knew Peter was still
alive….”
Harry remembered what Mr. Weasley had told Mrs. Wealsey. “ The guards say
he’s been talking in his sleep… always the same words… ‘He’s at Hogwarts.’“
“ It was as if someone had lit a fire in my head, and the Dementors couldn’ t
dest roy it …. It wasn’ t a happy feeling… it was an obsession… but it gave me
strength, it cleared my mind. So, one night when they opened my door to bring food, I
slipped past them as a dog…. It ’ s so much harder for them to sense animal emot ions
that they were confused…. I was thin, very thin.. . thin enough to slip through the
bars…. I swam as a dog back to the mainland…. I j ourneyed north and slipped into
the Hogwarts grounds as a dog. I’ ve been living in the forest ever since, except when I
came to watch the Quidditch, of course. You fly as well as your father did, Harry….”
He looked at Harry, who did not look away.
“ Believe me,” croaked Black. “ Believe me, Harry. I never bet rayed James and
Lily. I would have died before I betrayed them.”
And at long last, Harry believed him. Throat too tight to speak, he nodded.
“No!”
Pettigrew had fallen to his knees as though Harry’s nod had been his own death
sentence. He shuffled forward on his knees, groveling, his hands clasped in front of
him as though praying.
“Sirius – it’s me… it’s Peter… your friend… you wouldn’t –”
Black kicked out and Pettigrew recoiled.
“There’s enough filth on my robes without you touching them,” said Black.
“ Remus!” Pet t igrew squeaked, turning to Lupin instead, writhing imploringly in
front of him. “ You don’ t believe this wouldn’ t Sirius have told you they’ d changed the
plan?”
“ Not if he thought I was the spy, Peter,” said Lupin. “ I assume that ’ s why you
didn’t tell me, Sirius?” he said casually over Pettigrews head.
“Forgive me, Remus,” said Black.
“ Not at all, Padfoot , old friend, ” said Lupin, who was now rolling up his
sleeves. “And will you, in turn, forgive me for believing you were the spy?”
“Of course,” said Black, and the ghost of a grin flit ted across his gaunt face.
He, too, began rolling up his sleeves. “Shall we kill him together?”
“Yes, I think so,” said Lupin grimly.
“ You wouldn’ t … you won’ t …” gasped Pet t igrew. And he scrambled around to
Ron. “ Ron… haven’ t I been a good friend… a good pet? You won’ t let them kill me,
Ron, will you… you’re on my side, aren’t you?”
But Ron was staring at Pet t igrew with the utmost revulsion. “ I let you sleep in
my bed!” he said.
“ Kind boy… kind master…” Pet t igrew crawled toward Ron “ You won’ t let
them do it…. I was your rat…. I was a good pet….”
“ If you made a bet ter rat than a human, it ’ s not much to boast about , Peter,”
said Black harshly. Ron, going st ill paler with pain, wrenched his broken leg out of
Pet t igrew’ s reach. Pet t igrew turned on his knees, staggered forward, and seized the
hem of Hermione’s robes.
“Sweet girl… clever girl… you – you won’t let them…. Help me….”
Hermione pulled her robes out of Pet t igrew’ s clut ching hands and backed away
against the wall, looking horrified. Pet t igrew knelt , t rembling uncont rollably, and–
turned his head slowly toward Harry.
“Harry… Harry… you look just like your father… just like him….”
“ HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO HARRY?” roared Black. “ HOW DARE YOU FACE HIM?
HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT JAMES IN FRONT OF HIM?”
“ Harry,” whispered Pet t igrew, shuffling toward him, hands outst retched.
“ Harry, James wouldn’ t have wanted me killed…. James would have understood,
Harry… he would have shown me mercy…”
Both Black and Lupin st rode forward, seized Pet t igrew’ s shoulders, and threw
him backward onto the floor. He sat there, twitching with terror, staring up at them.
“ You sold Lily and James to Voldemort ,” said Black, who was shaking too. “ Do
you deny it?”
Pet t igrew burst into tears. It was horrible to watch, like an oversized, balding
baby, cowering on the floor.
“ Sirius, Sirius, what could I have done?The Dark Lord… you have no idea… he
has weapons you can’ t imagine…. I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and
Remus and James. I never meant it to happen…. He–Who–Must–Not–Be–Named forced
me –”
“ DON’ T LIE!” bellowed Black. “ YOU’D BEEN PASSING INFORMATION TO HIM FOR
A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!”
“He – he was taking over everywhere!” gasped Pet t igrew. “Wh – what was
there to be gained by refusing him?”
“What was there to be gained by fight ing the most evil wizard who has ever
existed?” said Black, with a terrible fury in his face. “Only innocent lives, Peter!”
“You don’t understand!” whined Pettigrew. “He would have killed me, Sirius!”
“ THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!” roared Black. “ DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY
YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!”
Black and Lupin stood shoulder-to-shoulder, wands raised.
“ You should have realized,” said Lupin quiet ly, “ if Voldemort didn’ t kill you,
we would. Good–bye, Peter.”
Hermione covered her face with her hands and turned to the wall.
“ NO!” Harry yelled. He ran forward, placing himself in front Pet t igrew, facing
the wands. “You can’t kill him,” he said breathlessly. “You can’t.”
Black and Lupin both looked staggered.
“Harry, this piece of vermin is the reason you have no parents,” Black snarled.
“ This cringing bit of filth would have seen you die too, without turning a hair. You
heard him. His own stinking skin meant more to him than your whole family.”
“ I know,” Harry panted. “We’ ll take him up to the cast le. We’ ll hand him over
to the Dementors…. He can go to Azkaban… but don’t kill him.”
“ Harry!” gasped Pet t igrew, and he flung his arms around Harry’ s knees. “ You –
thank you – it’s more than I deserve – thank you –”
“Get off me,” Harry spat , throwing Pet t igrew’ s hands off him in disgust . “ I’m
not doing this for you. I’m doing it because – I don’ t reckon my dad would’ ve wanted
them to become killers – just for you.”
No one moved or made a sound except Pet t igrew, whose breath was coming in
wheezes as he clut ched his chest . Black and Lupin were looking at each other. Then,
with one movement, they lowered their wands.
“You’re the only person who has the right to decide, Harry,” said Black.
“But think… think what he did….”
“ He can go to Azkaban,” Harry repeated. “ If anyone deserves that place, he
does….”
Pettigrew was still wheezing behind him.
“Very well,” said Lupin. “Stand aside, Harry.”
Harry hesitated.
“I’m going to tie him up,” said Lupin. “That’s all, I swear.”
Harry stepped out of the way. Thin cords shot from Lupin’s wand this time, and
next moment, Pettigrew was wriggling on the floor, bound and gagged.
“ But if you t ransform, Peter,” growled Black, his own wand point ing at
Pettigrew too, “we will kill you. You agree, Harry?”
Harry looked down at the pit iful figure on the floor and nodded so that
Pettigrew could see him.
“ Right ,” said Lupin, suddenly businesslike. “ Ron, I can’ t mend bones nearly as
well as Madam Pomfrey, so I think it ’ s best if we j ust st rap your leg up unt il we can
get you to the hospital wing.”
He hurried over to Ron, bent down, tapped Ron’ s leg with his wand, and
mut tered, “ Ferula.” Bandages spun up Ron’ s leg, st rapping it t ight ly to a splint . Lupin
helped him to his feet; Ron put his weight gingerly on the leg and didn’t wince.
“That’s better,” he said. “Thanks.”
“What about Professor Snape?” said Hermione in a small voice, looking down at
Snape’s prone figure.
“ There’ s nothing seriously wrong with him,” said Lupin, bending over Snape
and checking his pulse. “ You were j ust a lit t le – overenthusiast ic. St ill out cold. Er –
perhaps it will be best if we don’ t revive him unt il we’ re safety back in the cast le. We
can take him like this….”
He mut tered, “Mobilicorpus.” As though invisible st rings were t ied to Snape’ s
wrists, neck, and knees, he was pulled into a standing posit ion, head st ill lolling
unpleasant ly, like a grotesque puppet . He hung a few inches above the ground, his
limp feet dangling. Lupin picked up the Invisibility Cloak and tucked it safely into his
pocket.
“ And two of us should be chained to this,” said Black, nudging Pet t igrew with
his toe. “Just to make sure.”
“I’ll do it,” said Lupin.
“And me,” said Ron savagely, limping forward.
Black conjured heavy manacles from thin air; soon Pettigrew was upright again,
left arm chained to Lupin’ s right , right arm to Ron’ s left . Ron’ s face was set . He
seemed to have taken Scabbers’ s t rue ident ity as a personal insult . Crookshanks leapt
light ly of f the bed and led the way out of the room, his bot t lebrush tail held j aunt ily
high.
CHAPTER TWENTY – THE DEMENTOR’S KISS
Harry had never been part of a st ranger group. Crookshanks led the way down
the stairs; Lupin, Pet t igrew, and Ron went next , looking like ent rants in a six–legged
race. Next came Professor Snape, drift ing creepily along, his toes hit t ing each stair as
they descended, held up by his own wand, which was being pointed at him by Sirius.
Harry and Hermione brought up the rear.
Get t ing back into the tunnel was difficult . Lupin, Pet t igrew, and Ron had to
turn sideways to manage it ; Lupin st ill had Pet t igrew covered with his wand. Harry
could see them edging awkwardly along the tunnel in single f ile. Crookshanks was st ill
in the lead. Harry went right after Black, who was still making Snape drift along ahead
of them; he kept bumping his lolling head on the low ceiling. Harry had the impression
Black was making no effort to prevent this.
“ You know what this means?” Black said abrupt ly to Harry as they made their
slow progress along the tunnel. “Turning Pettigrew in?”
“You’ re free,” said Harry.
“ Yes…” said Black. “ But I’m also – I don’ t know if anyone ever told you – I’m
your godfather.”
“Yeah, I knew that,” said Harry.
“Well… your parents appointed me your guardian,” said Black st iffly. “ If
anything happened to them…”
Harry waited. Did Black mean what he thought he meant?
“ I’ ll understand, of course, if you want to stay with your aunt and uncle, ” said
Black. “ But … well… think about it . Once my name’ s cleared… if you wanted a… a
different home…”
Some sort of explosion took place in the pit of Harry’ s stomach. “What – live
with you?” he said, accidentally cracking his head on a bit of rock prot ruding from the
ceiling. “Leave the Dursleys?”
“Of course, I thought you wouldn’ t want to,” said Black quickly. “ I understand,
I just thought I’d –”
“Are you insane?” said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Black’s.
“Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I
move in?”
Black turned right around to look at him; Snape’ s head was scraping the ceiling
but Black didn’t seem to care.
“You want to?” he said. “You mean it?”
“Yeah, I mean it!” said Harry.
Black’ s gaunt face broke into the first t rue smile Harry had seen upon it . The
difference it made was start ling, as though a person ten years younger were shining
through the starved mask; for a moment , he was recognizable as the man who had
laughed at Harry’s parents’ wedding.
They did not speak again unt il they had reached the end of the tunnel.
Crookshanks darted up first ; he had evident ly pressed his paw to the knot on the
t runk, because Lupin, Pet t igrew, and Ron clambered upward without any sound of
savaging branches. Black saw Snape up through the hole, then stood back for Harry
and Hermione to pass. At last , all of them were out . The grounds were very dark now;
the only light came from the distant windows of the cast le. Without a word, they set
of f. Pet t igrew was st ill wheezing and occasionally whimpering. Harry’ s mind was
buzzing. He was going to leave the Dursleys. He was going to live with Sirius Black, his
parents’ best f riend…. He felt dazed…. What would happen when he told the
Dursleys he was going to live with the convict they’d seen on television…!
“One wrong move, Peter,” said Lupin threateningly ahead. His wand was st ill
pointed sideways at Pettigrew’s chest.
Silent ly they t ramped through the grounds, the cast le lights growing slowly
larger. Snape was st ill drift ing weirdly ahead of Black, his chin bumping on his chest .
And then –
A cloud shif ted. There were suddenly dim shadows on the ground. Their party
was bathed in moonlight . Snape collided with Lupin, Pet t igrew, and Ron, who had
stopped abrupt ly. Black froze. He flung out one arm to make Harry and Hermione
stop. Harry could see Lupin’ s silhouet te. He had gone rigid. Then his limbs began to
shake.
“Oh, my –” Hermione gasped. “ He didn’ t take his pot ion tonight ! He’ s not
safe!”
“Run,” Black whispered. “Run. Now.”
But Harry couldn’ t run. Ron was chained to Pet t igrew and Lupin. He leapt
forward but Black caught him around the chest and threw him back.
“Leave it to me – RUN!”
There was a terrible snarling noise. Lupin’ s head was lengthening. So was his
body. His shoulders were hunching. Hair was sprout ing visibly on his face and hands,
which were curling into clawed paws. Crookshanks’ s hair was on end again; he was
backing away –
As the werewolf reared, snapping its long j aws, Sirius disappeared from Harry’ s
side. He had t ransformed. The enormous, bearlike dog bounded forward. As the
werewolf wrenched itself free of the manacle binding it , the dog seized it about the
neck and pulled it backward, away from Ron and Pettigrew. They were locked, jaw-tojaw,
claws ripping at each other.
Harry stood, t ransfixed by the sight , too intent upon the bat t le to not ice
anything else. It was Hermione’ s scream that alerted him – Pet t igrew had dived for
Lupin’ s dropped wand. Ron, unsteady on his bandaged leg, fell. There was a bang, a
burst of light – and Ron lay motionless on the ground. Another bang – Crookshanks flew
into the air and back to the earth in a heap.
“ Expelliarmus!” Harry yelled, point ing his own wand at Pet t igrew; Lupin’ s
wand flew high into the air and out of sight . “ Stay where you are!” Harry shouted,
running forward.
Too late. Pet t igrew had t ransformed. Harry saw his bald tail whip through the
manacle on Ron’ s outst retched arm and heard a scurrying through the grass. There
was a howl and a rumbling growl; Harry turned to see the werewolf taking flight ; it
was galloping into the forest –
“Sirius, he’s gone, Pettigrew transformed!” Harry yelled.
Black was bleeding; there were gashes across his muzzle and back, but at
Harry’s words he scrambled up again, and in an instant, the sound of his paws faded to
silence as he pounded away across the grounds. Harry and Hermione dashed over to
Ron.
“What did he do to him?” Hermione whispered. Ron’ s eyes were only half–
closed, his mouth hung open; he was definitely alive, they could hear him breathing,
but he didn’t seem to recognize them.
“I don’t know….”
Harry looked desperately around. Black and Lupin both gone… they had no one
but Snape for company, still hanging, unconscious, in midair.
“We’ d bet ter get them up to the cast le and tell someone,” said Harry, pushing
his hair out of his eyes, trying to think straight. “Come –”
But then, from beyond the range of their vision, they heard a yelping, a
whining: a dog in pain….
“Sirius,” Harry muttered, staring into the darkness.
He had a moment ’ s indecision, but there was nothing they could do for Ron at
the moment , and by the sound of it , Black was in t rouble – Harry set off at a run,
Hermione right behind him. The yelping seemed to be coming f rom the ground near
the edge of the lake. They pelted toward it , and Harry, running f lat out , felt the cold
without realizing what it must mean –
The yelping stopped abrupt ly. As they reached the lakeshore, they saw why –
Sirius had turned back into a man. He was crouched on all fours, his hands over his
head.
‘Nooo,” he moaned. ‘Nooo… please….”
And then Harry saw them. Dementors, at least a hundred of them, gliding in a
black mass around the lake toward them. He spun around, the familiar, icy cold
penet rat ing his insides, fog start ing to obscure his vision; more were appearing out of
the darkness on every side; they were encircling them….
“ Herrnione, think of something happy!” Harry yelled, raising his wand, blinking
furiously to t ry and clear his vision, shaking his head to rid it of the faint screaming
that had started inside it –
‘ I’m going to live with my godfather. I’m leaving the Dursleys.’
He forced himself to think of Black, and only Black, and began to chant :
“ Expecto patronum! Expecto patronum!”
Black gave a shudder, rolled over, and lay mot ionless on the ground, pale as
death.
‘ He’ll be all right. I’m going to go and live with him.’
“ Expecto patronum! Hermione, help me! Expecto patronum!”
“ Expecto –” Hermione whispered, “expecto – expecto –”
But she couldn’ t do it . The Dementors were closing in, barely ten feet from
them. They formed a solid wall around Harry and Hermione, and were get t ing
closer….
“ EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Harry yelled, t rying to blot the screaming from his
ears. “EXPECTO PATRONUM!”
A thin wisp of silver escaped his wand and hovered like mist before him. At the
same moment , Harry felt Hermione collapse next to him. He was alone… completely
alone….
“ Expecto – expecto patronum –”
Harry felt his knees hit the cold grass. Fog was clouding his eyes. With a huge
effort , he fought to remember – Sirius was innocent – innocent – We’ ll be okay – I’
mgoing to live with him –
“ Expecto patronum!” he gasped.
By the feeble light of his formless Patronus, He saw a Dementor halt, very close
to him. It couldn’ t walk through the cloud of silver mist Harry had conj ured. A dead,
slimy hand slid out from under the cloak. It made a gesture as though to sweep the
Patronus aside.
“No – no –” Harry gasped. “He’s innocent… expecto … expecto patronum –”
He could feet them watching him, hear their rat t ling breath like an evil wind
around him. The nearest Dementor seemed to be considering him. Then it raised both
its rot t ing hands – and lowered its hood. Where there should have been eyes, there
was only thin, gray-scabbed skin, st retched blankly over empty sockets. But there was
a mouth… a gaping, shapeless hole, sucking the air with the sound of a death rattle.
A paralyzing terror filled Harry so that he couldn’ t move or speak. His Pat ronus
flickered and died. White fog was blinding him. He had to fight … expecto pat ronum
… he couldn’ t see… and in the distance, he heard the familiar screaming… expecto
pat ronum… he groped in the mist for Sirius, and found his arm… they weren’ t going
to take him….
But a pair of st rong, clammy hands suddenly at tached themselves around
Harry’ s neck. They were forcing his face upward…. He could feel its breath…. It was
going to get rid of him first …. He could feel its put rid breath…. His mother was
screaming in his ears…. She was going to be the last thing he ever heard –
And then, through the fog that was drowning him, he thought he saw a silvery
light growing brighter and brighter. .. He felt himself fall forward onto the grass….
Facedown, too weak to move, sick and shaking, Harry opened his eyes. The Dementor
must have released him. The blinding light was illuminat ing the grass around him….
The screaming had stopped, the cold was ebbing away…
Something was driving the Dementors back…. It was circling around him and
Black and Hermione…. They were leaving…. The air was warm again….
With every ounce of st rength he could muster, Harry raised his head a few
inches and saw an animal amid the light , galloping away across the lake…. Eyes
blurred with sweat , Harry t ried to make out what it was…. It was as bright as a
unicorn. … Fight ing to stay conscious, Harry watched it canter to a halt as it reached
the opposite shore. For a moment , Harry saw, by its brightness, somebody welcoming
it back… raising his hand to pat it … someone who looked st rangely familiar … but it
couldn’t be…
Harry didn’ t understand. He couldn’ t think anymore. He felt the last of his
strength leave him, and his head hit the ground as he fainted.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE – HERMIONE’S SECRET
“ Shocking business… shocking… miracle none of them died… never heard the
like… by thunder, it was lucky you were there, Snape….”
“Thank you, Minister.”
“Order of Merlin, Second Class, I’d say. First Class, if I can wangle it!”
“Thank you very much indeed, Minister.”
“Nasty cut you’ve got there…. Black’s work, I suppose?”
“As a matter of fact, it was Potter, Weasley, and Granger, Minister….”
“No!”
“ Black had bewitched them, I saw it immediately. A Confundus Charm, to
judge by their behavior. They seemed to think there was a possibility he was innocent.
They weren’ t responsible for their act ions. On the other hand, their interference
might have permit ted Black to escape…. They obviously thought they were going to
catch Black single–handed. They’ ve got away with a great deal before now… I’m
afraid it ’ s given them a rather high opinion of themselves… and of course Pot ter has
always been allowed an extraordinary amount of license by the headmaster –”
“Ah, well, Snape… Harry Potter, you know… we’ve all got a bit of a blind spot
where he’s concerned.”
“And yet –is it good for him to be given so much special t reatment?Personally,
I try and treat him like any other student. And any other student would be suspended –
at the very least – for leading his friends into such danger. Consider, Minister – against
all school rules – after all the precaut ions put in place for his protect ion – out–of–
bounds, at night , consort ing with a werewolf and a murderer – and I have reason to
believe he has been visiting Hogsmeade illegally too –”
“Well, well… we shall see, Snape, we shall see…. The boy has undoubtedly
been foolish….”
Harry lay listening with his eyes t ight shut . He felt very groggy. The words he
was hearing seemed to be t raveling very slowly from his ears to his brain, so that it
was difficult to understand…. His limbs felt like lead; his eyelids too heavy to lif t ….
He wanted to lie here, on this comfortable bed, forever….
“What amazes me most is the behavior of the Dementors… you’ ve really no
idea what made them retreat, Snape?”
“ No, Minister… by the t ime I had come ‘ round they were heading back to their
positions at the entrances….”
“Extraordinary. And yet Black, and Harry, and the girl –”
“ All unconscious by the t ime I reached them. I bound and gagged Black,
naturally, conjured stretchers, and brought them all straight back to the castle.”
There was a pause. Harry’ s brain seemed to be moving a lit t le faster, and as it
did, a gnawing sensation grew in the pit of his stomach….
He opened his eyes. Everything was slightly blurred. Somebody had removed his
glasses. He was lying in the dark hospital wing. At the very end of the ward, hecould
make out Madam Pomfrey with her back to him, bending over a bed. Harry squinted.
Ron’ s red hair was visible beneath Madam Pomfrey’ s arm. Harry moved his head over
on the pillow. In the bed to his right lay Hermione. Moonlight was falling across her
bed. Her eyes were open too. She looked pet rified, and when she saw that Harry was
awake, pressed a finger to her lips, then pointed to the hospital wing door. It was
aj ar, and the voices of Cornelius Fudge and Snape were coming through it from the
corridor outside.
Madam Pomf rey now came walking briskly up the dark ward to Harry’ s bed. He
turned to look at her. She was carrying the largest block of chocolate he had ever seen
in his life. It looked like a small boulder.
“ Ah, you’ re awake!” she said briskly. She placed the chocolate on Harry’ s
bedside table and began breaking it apart with a small hammer.
“How’s Ron?” said Harry and Hermione together.
“ He’ ll live, said Madam Pomf rey grimly. “ As for you two you’ ll be staying here
until I’m satisfied you’re – Potter, what do you think you’re doing?”
Harry was sitting up, putting his glasses back on, and picking up his wand.
“I need to see the headmaster,” he said.
“ Pot ter,” said Madam Pomf rey soothingly, “ it ’ s all right . They’ ve got Black.
He’ s locked away upstairs. The Dementors will be performing the kiss any moment
now –”
“WHAT?”
Harry j umped up out of bed; Hermione had done the same. But his shout had
been heard in the corridor outside; next second, Cornelius Fudge and Snape had
entered the ward.
“ Harry, Harry, what ’ s this?” said Fudge, looking agitated. “ You should be in
bed – has he had any chocolate?” he asked Madam Pomfrey anxiously.
“Minister, listen!” Harry said. “Sirius Black’s innocent! Peter
“ Pet t igrew faked his own death! We saw him tonight ! You can’ t let the
Dementors do that thing to Sirius, he’s –”
But Fudge was shaking his head with a small smile on his face.
“Harry, Harry, you’re very confused, you’ve been through a dreadful ordeal, lie
back down, now, we’ve got everything under control….”
“YOU HAVEN’T!” Harry yelled. “YOUVE GOT THE WRONG MAN!”
“Minister, listen, please,” Hermione said; she had hurried to Harry’ s side and
was gazing imploringly into Fudge’ s face. “ I saw him too. It was Ron’ s rat , he’ s an
Animagus, Pettigrew, I mean, and –”
“ You see, Minister?” said Snape. “ Confunded, both of them…. Black’ s done a
very good job on them….” “WE’RE NOT CONFUNDED!” Harry roared.
“Minister! Professor!” said Madam Pomfrey angrily. “ I must insist that you
leave. Potter is my patient, and he should not be distressed!”
“ I’m not dist ressed, I’m t rying to tell them what happened!” Harry said
furiously. “If they’d just listen –”
But Madam Pomfrey suddenly stuffed a large chunk of chocolate into Harry’ s
mouth; he choked, and she seized the opportunity to force him back onto the bed.
“Now, please, Minister, these children need care. Please leave.”
The door opened again. It was Dumbledore. Harry swallowed his mouthful of
chocolate with great difficulty and got up again.
“Professor Dumbledore, Sirius Black –”
“ For heaven’ s sake!” said Madam Pomfrey hysterically. “ Is this a hospital wing
or not? Headmaster, I must insist –”
“My apologies, Poppy, but I need a word with Mr. Pot ter and Miss Granger,”
said Dumbledore calmly. “I have just been talking to Sirius Black –”
“ I suppose he’ s told you the same fairy tale he’ s planted in Pot ter’ s mind?”
spat Snape. “Something about a rat, and Pettigrew being alive –”
“ That , indeed, is Black’ s story,” said Dumbledore, surveying Snape closely
through his half–moon spectacles.
“ And does my evidence count for nothing?” snarled Snape. “ Peter Pet t igrew
was not in the Shrieking Shack, nor did I see any sign of him on the grounds.”
“That was because you were knocked out, Professor!” said Hermione earnestly.
“You didn’t arrive in time to hear
“Miss Granger, HOLD YOUR TONGUE!”
“ Now, Snape,” said Fudge, start led, “ the young lady is disturbed in her mind,
we must make allowances –”
“ I would like to speak to Harry and Hermione alone,” said Dumbledore
abruptly. “Cornelius, Severus, Poppy – please leave us.”
“Headmaster!” sputtered Madam Pomfrey. “They need treatment, they need rest
–”
“This cannot wait,” said Dumbledore. “I must insist.”
Madam Pomfrey pursed her lips and st rode away into her office at the end of
the ward, slamming the door behind her. Fudge consulted the large gold pocket watch
dangling from his waistcoat.
“The Dementors should have arrived by now,” he said. “I’ll go and meet them.
Dumbledore, I’ll see you upstairs.”
He crossed to the door and held it open for Snape, but Snape hadn’t moved.
“ You surely don’ t believe a word of Black’ s story?” Snape whispered, his eyes
fixed on Dumbledore’s face.
“I wish to speak to Harry and Hermione alone,” Dumbledore repeated.
Snape took a step toward Dumbledore.
“ Sirius Black showed he was capable of murder at the age of sixteen,” he
breathed. “ You haven’ t forgot ten that , Headmaster? You haven’ t forgot ten that he
once tried to kill me?”
“My memory is as good as it ever was, Severus,” said Dumbledore quietly.
Snape turned on his heel and marched through the door Fudge was still holding.
It closed behind them, and Dumbledore turned to Harry and Hermione. They both
burst into speech at the same time.
“ Professor, Black’ s telling the t ruth – we saw Pet t igrew “ – he escaped when
Professor Lupin turned into a werewolf –”
“ – he’s a rat –”
“ – Pettigrew’s front paw, I mean, finger, he cut it off –”
“ – Pettigrew attacked Ron, it wasn’t Sirius –”
But Dumbledore held up his hand to stem the flood of explanations.
“ It is your turn to listen, and I beg you will not interrupt me, because there is
very lit t le t ime,” he said quiet ly. “ There is not a shred of proof to support Black’ s
story, except your word – and the word of two thirteen–year–old wizards will not
convince anybody. A st reet full of eyewitnesses swore they saw Sirius murder
Pet t igrew. I myself gave evidence to the Minist ry that Sirius had been the Pot ters’
Secret–Keeper.”
“Professor Lupin can tell you –” Harry said, unable to stop himself
“Professor Lupin is currently deep in the forest, unable to tell anyone anything.
By the t ime he is human again, it will be too late, Sirius will be worse than dead. I
might add that werewolves are so mist rusted by most of our kind that his support will
count for very little – and the fact that he and Sirius are old friends –”
“But –”
“ Listen to me, Harry. It is too late, you understand me? You must see that
Professor Snape’s version of events is far more convincing than yours.”
“ He hates Sirius,” Hermione said desperately. “ All because of some stupid t rick
Sirius played on him –”
“ Sirius has not acted like an innocent man. The at tack on the Fat Lady –
entering Gryffindor Tower with a knife –without Pet t igrew, alive or dead, we have no
chance of overturning Sirius’s sentence.”
“But you believe us.”
“ Yes, I do,” said Dumbledore quiet ly. “ But I have no power to make other men
see the truth, or to overrule the Minister of Magic….”
Harry stared up into the grave face and felt as though the ground beneath him
were falling sharply away. He had grown used to the idea that Dumbledore could solve
anything. He had expected Dumbledore to pull some amazing solut ion out of the air.
But no … their last hope was gone.
“What we need,” said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from
Harry to Hermione, “is more time.”
“But –” Hermione began. And then her eyes became very round. “OH!”
“ Now, pay at tent ion,” said Dumbledore, speaking very low, and very clearly.
“ Sirius is locked in Professor Flitwick’ s of fice on the seventh floor. Thirteenth window
from the right of the West Tower. If all goes well, you will be able to save more than
one innocent life tonight . But remember this, both of you: you must not be seen. Miss
Granger, you know the law – you know what is at stake…. You – must – not – be –
seen.”
Harry didn’t have a clue what was going on. Dumbledore had turned on his heel
and looked back as he reached the door.
“ I am going to lock you in. It is –” he consulted his watch, “ five minutes to
midnight. Miss Granger, three turns should do it. Good luck.”
“Good luck?” Harry repeated as the door closed behind Dumbledore. “ Three
turns? What’s he talking about? What are we supposed to do?”
But Hermione was fumbling with the neck of her robes, pulling from beneath
them a very long, very fine gold chain.
“Harry, come here,” she said urgently. “Quick!”
Harry moved toward her, completely bewildered. She was holding the chain
out. He saw a tiny, sparkling hourglass hanging from it.
“Here –”
She had thrown the chain around his neck too.
“Ready?” she said breathlessly.
“What are we doing?” Harry said, completely lost.
Hermione turned the hourglass over three t imes. The dark ward dissolved.
Harry had the sensat ion that he was flying very fast , backward. A blur of colors and
shapes rushed past him, his ears were pounding, he t ried to yell but couldn’ t hear his
own voice –
And then he felt solid ground beneath his feet , and everything came into focus
again – He was standing next to Hermione in the deserted ent rance hall and a st ream
of golden sunlight was falling across the paved floor from the open front doors. He
looked wildly around at Hermione, the chain of the hourglass cutting into his neck.
“Hermione, what –?”
“ In here!” Hermione seized Harry’ s arm and dragged him across the hall to the
door of a broom closet ; she opened it , pushed him inside among the buckets and
mops, then slammed the door behind them.
“What – how – Hermione, what happened?”
“We’ ve gone back in t ime,” Hermione whispered, lift ing the chain off Harry’ s
neck in the darkness. “Three hours back…”
Harry found his own leg and gave it a very hard pinch. It hurt a lot , which
seemed to rule out the possibility that he was having a very bizarre dream.
“But –”
“ Shh! Listen! Someone’ s coming! I think –I think it might be us!” Hermione had
her ear pressed against the cupboard door.
“Footsteps across the hall… yes, I think it’s us going down to Hagrid’s!”
“ Are you telling me,” Harry whispered, “ that we’ re here in this cupboard and
we’re out there too?”
“ Yes,” said Hermione, her ear st ill glued to the cupboard door. “ I’m sure it ’ s
us. It doesn’ t sound like more than three people… and we’ re walking slowly because
we’re under the Invisibility Cloak –”
She broke off, still listening intently.
“We’ve gone down the front steps….”
Hermione sat down on an upturned bucket , looking desperately anxious, but
Harry wanted a few questions answered.
“Where did you get that hourglass thing?”
“ It ’ s called a Time–Turner,” Hermione whispered, “ and I got it from Professor
McGonagall on our first day back. I’ ve been using it all year to get to all my lessons.
Professor McGonagall made me swear I wouldn’ t tell anyone. She had to write all sorts
of let ters to the Minist ry of Magic so I could have one. She had to tell them that I was
a model student, and that I’d never, ever use it for anything except my studies…. I’ve
been turning it back so I could do hours over again, that ’ s how I’ ve been doing several
lessons at once, see? But…
“Harry, I don’ t understand what Dumbledore wants us to do. Why did he tell us
to go back three hours? How’s that going to help Sirius?”
Harry stared at her shadowy face.
“ There must be something that happened around now he wants us to change,”
he said slowly. “What happened? We were walking down to Hagrid’ s three hours
ago….”
“This is three hours ago, and we are walking down to Hagrid’s,” said Hermione.
“We just heard ourselves leaving….”
Harry frowned; he felt as though he were screwing up his whole brain in
concentration.
“ Dumbledore j ust said – j ust said we could save more than one innocent
life….” And then it hit him. “Hermione, we’re going to save Buckbeak!”
“But – how will that help Sirius?”
“ Dumbledore said – he j ust told us where the window is – the window of
Flitwick’ s office! Where they’ ve got Sirius locked up! We’ ve got to fly Buckbeak up to
the window and rescue Sirius! Sirius can escape on Buckbeak – they can escape
together!”
From what Harry could see of Hermione’s face, she looked terrified.
“If we manage that without being seen, it’ll be a miracle!”
“Well, we’ ve got to t ry, haven’ t we?” said Harry. He stood up and pressed his
ear against the door. “Doesn’t sound like anyone’s there…. Come on, let’s go.”
Harry pushed open the closet door. The ent rance hall was deserted. As quiet ly
and quickly as they could, they darted out of the closet and down the stone steps. The
shadows were already lengthening, the tops of the trees in the Forbidden Forest gilded
once more with gold.
“ If anyone’ s looking out of the window –” Hermione squeaked, looking up at
the castle behind them.
“We’ ll run for it ,” said Harry determinedly. “ St raight into the forest , all right?
We’ll have to hide behind a tree or something and keep a lookout –”
“Okay, but we’ ll go around by the greenhouses!” said Hermione breathlessly.
“We need to keep out of sight of Hagrid’ s front door, or we’ ll see us! We must be
nearly at Hagrid’s by now!”
St ill working out what she meant , Harry set off at a sprint , Hermione behind
him. They tore across the vegetable gardens to the greenhouses, paused for a moment
behind them, then set off again, fast as they could, skirt ing around the Whomping
Willow, tearing toward the shelter of the forest….
Safe in the shadows of the trees, Harry turned around; seconds later, Hermione
arrived beside him, panting.
“ Right ,” she gasped. “We need to sneak over to Hagrid’ s…. Keep out of sight ,
Harry….”
They made their way silently through the trees, keeping to the very edge of the
forest . Then, as they glimpsed the front of Hagrid’ s house, they heard a knock upon
his door. They moved quickly behind a wide oak t runk and peered out from either
side. Hagrid had appeared in his doorway, shaking and white, looking around to see
who had knocked. And Harry heard his own voice.
“It’s us. We’re wearing the Invisibility Cloak. Let us in and we can take it off.”
“ Yeh shouldn’ ve come!” Hagrid whispered. He stood back, then shut the door
quickly.
“This is the weirdest thing we’ve ever done,” Harry said fervently.
“ Let ’ s move along a bit ,” Hermione whispered. “We need to get nearer to
Buckbeak!”
They crept through the trees until they saw the nervous Hippogriff, tethered to
the fence around Hagrid’s pumpkin patch.
“Now?” Harry whispered.
“ No!” said Hermione. “ If we steal him now, those Commit tee people will think
Hagrid set him free! We’ve got to wait until they’ve seen he’s tied outside!”
“ That ’ s going to give us about sixty seconds, ” said Harry. This was start ing to
seem impossible.
At that moment, there was a crash of breaking glass from inside Hagrid’s cabin.
“ That ’ s Hagrid breaking the milk j ug,” Hermione whispered. “ I’m going to find
Scabbers in a moment –”
Sure enough, a few minutes later, they heard Hermione’s shriek of surprise.
“ Hermione,” said Harry suddenly, “ what if we – we j ust run in there and grab
Pettigrew –”
“ No!” said Hermione in a terrified whisper. “ Don’ t you understand? We’ re
breaking one of the most important wizarding laws! Nobody’ s supposed to change
time, nobody! You heard Dumbledore, if we’re seen –”
“We’d only be seen by ourselves and Hagrid!”
“ Harry, what do you think you’ d do if you saw yourself burst ing into Hagrid’ s
house?” said Hermione.
“I’d – I’ d think I’ d gone mad,” said Harry, “ or I’ d think there was some Dark
Magic going on –”
“ Exact ly! You wouldn’ t understand, you might even at tack yourself! Don’ t you
see? Professor McGonagall told me what awful things have happened when wizards
have meddled with t ime…. Loads of them ended up killing their past or future selves
by mistake!”
“Okay!” said Harry. “It was just an idea, I just thought…”
But Hermione nudged him and pointed toward the castle. Harry moved his head
a few inches to get a clear view of the distant front doors. Dumbledore, Fudge, the
old Committee member, and Macnair the executioner were coming down the steps.
“We’re about to come out!” Hermione breathed.
And sure enough, moments later, Hagrid’ s back door opened, and Harry saw
himself, Ron, and Hermione walking out of it with Hagrid. It was, without a doubt, the
st rangest sensat ion of his life, standing behind the t ree, and watching himself in the
pumpkin patch.
“ It ’ s okay, Beaky, it ’ s okay…” Hagrid said to Buckbeak. Then he turned to
Harry, Ron, and Hermione. “Go on. Get goin’.”
“Hagrid, we can’t –”
“We’ll tell them what really happened –”
“They can’t kill him –”
“Go! It’s bad enough without you lot in trouble an’ all!”
Harry watched the Hermione in the pumpkin patch throw the Invisibility Cloak
over him and Ron.
“Go quick. Don’ listen….”
There was a knock on Hagrid’ s front door. The execut ion party had arrived.
Hagrid turned, around and headed back into his cabin, leaving the back door aj ar.
Harry watched the grass flat ten in patches all around the cabin and heard three pairs
of feet ret reat ing. He, Ron, and Hermione had gone… but the Harry and Hermione
hidden in the t rees could now hear what was happening inside the cabin through the
back door.
“Where is the beast?” came the cold voice of Macnair.
“Out – outside,” Hagrid croaked.
Harry pulled his head out of sight as Macnair’ s face appeared at Hagrid’ s
window, staring out at Buckbeak. Then they heard Fudge. “We – er – have to read you
the official not ice of execut ion, Hagrid. I’ ll make it quick. And then you and Macnair
need to sign it. Macnair, you’re supposed to listen too, that’s procedure –”
Macnair’s face vanished from the window. It was now or never.
“Wait here,” Harry whispered to Hermione. “I’ll do it.”
As Fudge’ s voice started again, Harry darted out from behind his t ree, vaulted
the fence into the pumpkin patch, and approached Buckbeak.
“ It is the decision of the Commit tee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures
that the Hippogriff Buckbeak, hereafter called the condemned, shall he executed on
the sixth of June at sundown –”
Careful not to blink, Harry stared up into Buckbeak’ s fierce orange eyes once
more and bowed. Buckbeak sank to his scaly knees and then stood up again. Harry
began to fumble with the knot of rope tying Buckbeak to the fence.
“ … sentenced to execut ion by beheading, to be carried out by the
Committee’s appointed executioner, Walden Macnair…”
“ Come on, Buckbeak,” Harry murmured, “ come on, we’ re going to help you.
Quietly… quietly…”
“… as witnessed below. Hagrid, you sign here…”
Harry threw all his weight onto the rope, but Buckbeak had dug in his front
feet.
“Well, let’s get this over with,” said the reedy voice of the Committee member
from inside Hagrid’s cabin. “Hagrid, perhaps it will be better if you stay inside –”
“No, I – I wan’ ter be with him…. I don’ wan’ him ter be alone –”
Footsteps echoed from within the cabin.
“Buckbeak, move!” Harry hissed.
Harry tugged harder on the rope around Buckbeak’ s neck. The Hippogriff began
to walk, rust ling its wings irritably. They were st ill ten feet away from the forest , in
plain view of Hagrid’s back door.
“One moment , please, Macnair,” came Dumbledore’ s voice. “ You need to sign
too.” The footsteps stopped. Harry heaved on the rope. Buckbeak snapped his beak
and walked a little faster.
Hermione’s white face was sticking out from behind a tree.
“Harry, hurry!” she mouthed.
Harry could st ill hear Dumbledore’ s voice talking from within the cabin. He
gave the rope another wrench. Buckbeak broke into a grudging t rot . They had reached
the trees….
“Quick! Quick!” Hermione moaned, dart ing out from behind her t ree, seizing
the rope too and adding her weight to make Buckbeak move faster. Harry looked over
his shoulder; they were now blocked from sight ; they couldn’ t see Hagrid’ s garden at
all.
“Stop!” he whispered to Hermione. “They might hear us.”
Hagrid’ s back door had opened with a bang. Harry, Hermione, and Buckbeak
stood quite still; even the Hippogriff seemed to be listening intently.
Silence… then –
“Where is it?” said the reedy voice of the Commit tee member. “Where is the
beast?”
“It was tied here!” said the executioner furiously. I saw it! Just here!”
“ How ext raordinary,” said Dumbledore. There was a note of amusement in his
voice.
“Beaky!” said Hagrid huskily.
There was a swishing noise, and the thud of an axe. The executioner seemed to
have swung it into the fence in anger. And then came the howling, and this t ime they
could hear Hagrid’s words through his sobs.
“Gone! Gone! Bless his little beak, he’s gone! Musta pulled himself free! Beaky,
yeh clever boy!”
Buckbeak started to st rain against the rope, t rying to get back to Hagrid. Harry
and Hermione t ightened their grip and dug their heels into the forest floor to stop
him.
“ Someone unt ied him!” the execut ioner was snarling. “We should search the
grounds, the forest.”
“Macnair, if Buckbeak has indeed been stolen, do you really think the thief will
have led him away on foot?” said Dumbledore, st ill sounding amused. “ Search the
skies, if you will…. Hagrid, I could do with a cup of tea. Or a large brandy.”
“O’ – o’ course, Professor,” said Hagrid, who sounded weak with happiness.
“Come in, come in….”
Harry and Hermione listened closely. They heard footsteps, the soft cursing of
the executioner, the snap of the door, and then silence once more.
“Now what?” whispered Harry, looking around.
“We’ ll have to hide in here,” said Hermione, who looked very shaken. “We
need to wait unt il they’ ve gone back to the cast le. Then we wait unt il it ’ s safe to fly
Buckbeak up to Sirius’ s window. He won’ t be there for another couple of hours…. Oh,
this is going to be difficult….”
She looked nervously over her shoulder into the depths of the forest . The sun
was setting now.
“We’ re going to have to move,” said Harry, thinking hard. “We’ ve got to be
able to see the Whomping Willow, or we won’t know what’s going on.”
“Okay,” said Hermione, get t ing a firmer grip on Buckbeak’ s rope. “ But we’ ve
got to keep out of sight, Harry, remember….”
They moved around the edge of the forest , darkness falling thickly around
them, unt il they were hidden behind a clump of t rees through which they could make
out the Willow.
“There’s Ron!” said Harry suddenly.
A dark f igure was sprint ing across the lawn and its shout echoed through the
still night air.
“Get away from him – get away – Scabbers, come here –”
And then they saw two more figures materialize out of nowhere. Harry watched
himself and Hermione chasing after Ron. Then he saw Ron dive.
“Gotcha! Get off, you stinking cat –”
“ There’ s Sirius!” said Harry. The great shape of the dog had bounded out from
the roots of the Willow. They saw him bowl Harry over, then seize Ron….
“ Looks even worse f rom here, doesn’ t it?” said Harry, watching the dog pulling
Ron into the roots. “Ouch –look, I j ust got walloped by the t ree – and so did you –this
is weird–”
The Whomping Willow was creaking and lashing out with its lower branches;
they could see themselves dart ing here and there, t rying to reach the t runk. And then
the tree froze.
“That was Crookshanks pressing the knot,” said Hermione.
“And there we go…” Harry muttered. “We’re in.”
The moment they disappeared, the t ree began to move again. Seconds later,
they heard footsteps quite close by. Dumbledore, Macnair, Fudge, and the old
Committee member were making their way up to the castle.
“ Right after we’ d gone down into the passage!” said Hermione. “ If only
Dumbledore had come with us…”
“Macnair and Fudge would’ ve come too,” said Harry bit terly. “ I bet you
anything Fudge would’ve told Macnair to murder Sirius on the spot….”
They watched the four men climb the cast le steps and disappear f rom view.
For a few minutes the scene was deserted. Then –
“ Here comes Lupin!” said Harry as they saw another f igure sprint ing down the
stone steps and hat ing toward the Willow. Harry looked up at the sky. Clouds were
obscuring the moon completely.
They watched Lupin seize a broken branch from the ground and prod the knot
on the trunk. The tree stopped fighting, and Lupin, too, disappeared into the gap in its
roots.
“If he’d only grabbed the cloak,” said Harry. “It’s just lying there….”
He turned to Hermione.
“If I just dashed out now and grabbed it, Snape’d never be able to get it and –”
“Harry, we mustn’t be seen!”
“ How can you stand this?” he asked Hermione fiercely. “ Just standing here and
watching it happen?” He hesitated. “I’m going to grab the cloak!”
“Harry, no!”
Hermione seized the back of Harry’ s robes not a moment too soon. Just then,
they heard a burst of song. It was Hagrid, making his way up to the cast le, singing at
the top of his voice, and weaving slight ly as he walked. A large bot t le was swinging
from his hands.
“ See?” Hermione whispered. “ See what would have happened? We’ ve got to
keep out of sight! No, Buckbeak!”
The Hippogriff was making frantic attempts to get to Hagrid again; Harry seized
his rope too, straining to hold Buckbeak back. They watched Hagrid meander tipsily up
to the cast le. He was gone. Buckbeak stopped fight ing to get away. His head drooped
sadly.
Barely two minutes later, the cast le doors flew open yet again, and Snape
came charging out of them, running toward the Willow. Harry’ s fists clenched as they
watched Snape skid to a halt next to the t ree, looking around. He grabbed the cloak
and held it up.
“Get your filthy hands off it,” Harry snarled under his breath.
“Shh!”
Snape seized the branch Lupin had used to freeze the t ree, prodded the knot ,
and vanished from view as he put on the cloak.
“ So that ’ s it ,” said Hermione quiet ly. “We’ re all down there… and now we’ ve
just got to wait until we come back up again….”
She took the end of Buckbeak’ s rope and t ied it securely around the nearest
tree, then sat down on the dry ground, arms around her knees.
“ Harry, there’ s something I don’ t understand…. Why didn’ t the Dementors get
Sirius? I remember them coming, and then I think I passed out … there were so many
of them….”
Harry sat down too. He explained what he’ d seen; how, as the nearest
Dementor had lowered its mouth to Harry’ s, a large silver something had come
galloping across the lake and forced the Dementors to ret reat . Hermione’ s mouth was
slightly open by the time Harry had finished.
“But what was it?”
“ There’ s only one thing it could have been, to make the Dementors go,” said
Harry. “A real Patronus. A powerful one.”
“But who conjured it?”
Harry didn’ t say anything. He was thinking back to the person he’ d seen on the
other bank of the lake. He knew who he thought it had been… but how could it have
been?
“ Didn’ t you see what they looked like?” said Hermione eagerly. “Was it one of
the teachers?”
“No,” said Harry. “He wasn’t a teacher.”
“ But it must have been a really powerful wizard, to drive all those Dementors
away… If the Pat ronus was shining so bright ly, didn’ t it light him up?Couldn’ t you see
–?”
“ Yeah, I saw him,” said Harry slowly. “ But … maybe I imagined it …. I wasn’ t
thinking straight…. I passed out right afterward….”
“Who did you think it was?”
“ I think –” Harry swallowed, knowing how st range this was going to sound. I
think it was my dad.”
Harry glanced up at Hermione and saw that her mouth was fully open now. She
was gazing at him with a mixture of alarm and pity.
“Harry, your dad’s – well – dead,” she said quietly.
“I know that,” said Harry quickly.
“You think you saw his ghost?”
“I don’t know… no… he looked solid….”
“But then –”
“Maybe I was seeing things,” said Harry. “ But … f rom what I could see… it
looked like him…. I’ve got photos of him….”
Hermione was still looking at him as though worried about his sanity.
“ I know it sounds crazy,” said Harry flat ly. He turned to took at Buckbeak, who
was digging his beak into the ground, apparent ly searching for worms. But he wasn’ t
really watching Buckbeak.
He was thinking about his father and about his father’ s three oldest f riends…
Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot , and Prongs…. Had all four of them been out on the
grounds tonight?Wormtail had reappeared this evening when everyone had thought he
was dead…. Was it so impossible his father had done the same? Had he been seeing
things across the take? The figure had been too far away to see distinctly… yet he had
felt sure, for a moment , before he’ d lost consciousness…. The leaves overhead
rust led faint ly in the breeze. The moon drifted in and out of sight behind the shift ing
clouds. Hermione sat with her face turned toward the Willow, wait ing. And then, at
last, after over an hour…
“Here we come!” Hermione whispered.
She and Harry got to their feet . Buckbeak raised his head. They saw Lupin,
Ron, and Pet t igrew clambering awkwardly out of the hole in the roots. Then came
Hermione… then the unconscious Snape, drift ing weirdly upward. Next came Harry
and Black. They all began to walk toward the castle.
Harry’ s heart was start ing to beat very fast . He glanced up at the sky. Any
moment now, that cloud was going to move aside and show the moon….
“ Harry,” Hermione mut tered as though she knew exact ly what he was thinking,
“we’ve got to stay put. We mustn’t be seen. There’s nothing we can do….”
“So we’re just going to let Pettigrew escape all over again,” said Harry quietly.
“How do you expect to find a rat in the dark?” snapped Hermione.
“ There’ s nothing we can do! We came back to help Sirius; we’ re not supposed
to be doing anything else!”
“All right!”
The moon slid out from behind its cloud. They saw the t iny figures across the
grounds stop. Then they saw movement –
“There goes Lupin,” Hermione whispered. “He’s transforming
“Hermione!” said Harry suddenly. “We’ve got to move!”
“We mustn’t, I keep telling you –”
“ Not to interfere! Lupin’ s going to run into the forest , right at us!” Hermione
gasped.
“Quick!” she moaned, dashing to unt ie Buckbeak. “Quick! Where are we going
to go? Where are we going to hide? The Dementors wilt be coming any moment –”
“Back to Hagrid’s!” Harry said. “It’s empty now – come on!”
They ran as fast as they could, Buckbeak cantering along behind them. They
could hear the werewolf howling behind them….
The cabin was in sight ; Harry skidded to the door, wrenched it open, and
Hermione and Buckbeak f lashed past him; Harry threw himself in after them and
bolted the door. Fang the boarhound barked loudly.
“ Shh, Fang, it ’ s us!” said Hermione, hurrying over and scratching his ears to
quieten him. “That was really close!” she said to Harry.
“Yeah…”
Harry was looking out of the window. It was much harder to see what was going
on from here. Buckbeak seemed very happy to find himself back inside Hagrid’s house.
He lay down in front of the fire, folded his wings contentedly, and seemed ready for a
good nap.
“ I think I’ d bet ter go outside again, you know,” said Harry slowly. “ I can’ t see
what’s going on – we won’t know when it’s time –”
Hermione looked up. Her expression was suspicious.
“ I’m not going to t ry and interfere,” said Harry quickly. “ But if we don’ t see
what’s going on, how’re we going to know when it’s time to rescue Sirius?”
“Well… okay, then… I’ ll wait here with Buckbeak… but Harry, be careful –
there’s a werewolf out there – and the Dementors…”
Harry stepped outside again and edged around the cabin. He could hear yelping
in the distance. That meant the Dementors were closing in on Sirius…. He and
Hermione would be running to him any moment …. Harry stared out toward the lake,
his heart doing a kind of drumroll in his chest …. Whoever had sent that Pat ronus
would be appearing at any moment… For a fraction of a second he stood, irresolute, in
front of Hagrid’ s door. You must not be seen. But he didn’ t want to be seen. He
wanted to do the seeing…. He had to know…
And there were the Dementors. They were emerging out of the darkness from
every direct ion, gliding around the edges of the lake…. They were moving away from
where Harry stood, to the opposite bank…. He wouldn’ t have to get near them….
Harry began to run. He had no thought in his head except his father… If it was him…
if it really was him… he had to know, had to find out….
The lake was coming nearer and nearer, but there was no sign of anybody. On
the opposite bank, he could see t iny glimmers of silver – his own at tempts at a
Patronus – There was a bush at the very edge of the water. Harry threw himself
behind it, peering desperately through the leaves. On the opposite bank, the glimmers
of silver were suddenly ext inguished. A terrif ied excitement shot through him – any
moment now –
“Come on!” he muttered, staring about. “Where are you? Dad, come on –”
But no one came. Harry raised his head to look at the circle of Dementors across the
lake. One of them was lowering its hood. It was t ime for the rescuer to appear – but
no one was coming to help this time –
And then it hit him – he understood. He hadn’ t seen his father – he had seen
himself –
Harry flung himself out from behind the bush and pulled out his wand.
“ EXPECTO PATRONUM!” he yelled.
And out of the end of his wand burst , not a shapeless cloud of mist , but a
blinding, dazzling, silver animal. He screwed up his eyes, t rying to see what it was. It
looked like a horse. It was galloping silent ly away from him, across the black surface
of the lake. He saw it lower its head and charge at the swarming Dementors…. Now it
was galloping around and around the black shapes on the ground, and the Dementors
were falling back, scattering, retreating into the darkness…. They were gone.
The Patronus turned. It was cantering back toward Harry across the still surface
of the water. It wasn’t a horse. It wasn’t a unicorn, either. It was a stag. It was shining
brightly as the moon above … it was coming back to him….
It stopped on the bank. Its hooves made no mark on the soft ground as it stared
at Harry with its large, silver eyes. Slowly, it bowed its ant lered head. And Harry
realized… “Prongs,” he whispered.
But as his t rembling fingert ips st retched toward the creature, it vanished.
Harry stood there, hand st ill outst retched. Then, with a great leap of his heart , he
heard hooves behind him –he whirled around and saw Hermione dashing toward him,
dragging Buckbeak behind her.
“What did you do?” she said fiercely. “ You said you were only going to keep a
lookout!”
“ I j ust saved all our lives…” said Harry. “Get behind here – behind this bush –
I’ll explain.”
Hermione listened to what had just happened with her mouth open yet again.
“Did anyone see you?”
“ Yes, haven’ t you been listening? I saw me but I thought I was my dad! It ’ s
okay!”
“ Harry, I can’ t believe it …. You conj ured up a Pat ronus that drove away all
those Dementors! That ’ s very, very advanced magic. I knew I could do it this t ime,”
said Harry, “because I’d already done it…. Does that make sense?”
“I don’t know – Harry, look at Snape!”
Together they peered around the bush at the other bank. Snape had regained
consciousness. He was conj uring st retchers and lift ing the limp forms of Harry,
Hermione, and Black onto them. A fourth stretcher, no doubt bearing Ron, was already
float ing at his side. Then, wand held out in front of him, he moved them away toward
the castle.
“ Right , it ’ s nearly t ime, ” said Hermione tensely, looking at her watch. “We’ ve
got about forty–five minutes unt il Dumbledore locks the door to the hospital wing.
We’ ve got to rescue Sirius and get back into the ward before anybody realizes we’ re
missing….”
They waited, watching the moving clouds ref lected in the lake, while the bush
next to them whispered in the breeze. Buckbeak, bored, was ferret ing for worms
again.
“ D’ you reckon he’ s up there yet?” said Harry, checking his watch. He looked
up at the castle and began counting the windows to the right of the West Tower.
“ Look!” Hermione whispered. “ \Who’ s that?Someone’ s coming back out of the
castle!”
Harry stared through the darkness. The man was hurrying across the grounds,
toward one of the entrances. Something shiny glinted in his belt.
“Macnair!” said Harry. “ The execut ioner! He’ s gone to get the Dementors! This
is it, Hermione –”
Hermione put her hands on Buckbeak’ s back and Harry gave her a leg up. Then
he placed his foot on one of the lower branches of the bush and climbed up in front of
her. He pulled Buckbeak’ s rope back over his neck and t ied it to the other side of his
collar like reins.
“Ready?” he whispered to Hermione. “You’d better hold on to me –”
He nudged Buckbeak’ s sides with his heels. Buckbeak soared st raight into the
dark air. Harry gripped his flanks with his knees, feeling the great wings rising
powerfully beneath them. Hermione was holding Harry very t ight around the waist ; he
could hear her muttering, “Oh, no – I don’t like this oh, I really don’t like this –”
Harry urged Buckbeak forward. They were gliding quiet ly toward the upper
floors of the cast le…. Harry pulled hard on the left–hand side of the rope, and
Buckbeak turned. Harry was trying to count the windows flashing past –
“Whoa!” he said, pulling backward as hard as he could.
Buckbeak slowed down and they found themselves at a stop, unless you
counted the fact that they kept rising up and down several feet as the Hippogriff beat
his wings to remain airborne.
“ He’ s there!” Harry said, spot t ing Sirius as they rose up beside the window. He
reached out, and as Buckbeak’s wings fell, was able to tap sharply on the glass.
Black looked up. Harry saw his jaw drop. He leapt from his chair, hurried to the
window and tried to open it, but it was locked.
“ Stand back!” Hermione called to him, and she took out her wand, st ill
gripping the back of Harry’s robes with her left hand.
“ Alohomora!”
The window sprang open.
“How – how –?” said Black weakly, staring at the Hippogriff
“Get on – there’ s not much t ime,” said Harry, gripping Buckbeak firmly on
either side of his sleek neck to hold him steady. “ You’ ve got to get out of here –the
Dementors are coming – Macnair’s gone to get them.”
Black placed a hand on either side of the window f rame and heaved his head
and shoulders out of it . It was very lucky he was so thin. In seconds, he had managed
to fling one leg over Buckbeak’ s back and pull himself onto the Hippogriff behind
Hermione.
“Okay, Buckbeak, up!” said Harry, shaking the rope. “ Up to the tower – come
on.
The Hippogrif f gave one sweep of its mighty wings and they were soaring
upward again, high as the top of the West Tower. Buckbeak landed with a clat ter on
the battlements, and Harry and Hermione slid off him at once.
“ Sirius, you’ d bet ter go, quick,” Harry panted. “ They’ ll reach Flitwick’ s office
any moment, they’ll find out you’re gone.”
Buckbeak pawed the ground, tossing his sharp head.
“What happened to the other boy? Ron?” croaked Sirius.
“ He’ s going to be okay. He’ s st ill out of it , but Madam Pomfrey says she’ ll be
able to make him better. Quick – go –”
But Black was still staring down at Harry.
“How can I ever thank –”
“GO!” Harry and Hermione shouted together.
Black wheeled Buckbeak around, facing the open sky.
“We’ ll see each other again,” he said. “ You are – t ruly your father’ s son,
Harry….”
He squeezed Buckbeak’ s sides with his heels. Harry and Hermione j umped back
as the enormous wings rose once more…. The Hippogriff took off into the air…. He
and his rider became smaller and smaller as Harry gazed after them… then a cloud
drifted across the moon…. They were gone.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO – OWL POST AGAIN
“Harry!”
Hermione was tugging at his sleeve, staring at her watch. “We’ ve got exactly
ten minutes to get back down to the hospital wing without anybody seeing us – before
Dumbledore locks the door –”
“Okay,” said Harry, wrenching his gaze from the sky, “let’s go….”
They slipped through the doorway behind them and down a t ight ly spiraling
stone staircase. As they reached the bot tom of it , they heard voices. They flat tened
themselves against the wall and listened. It sounded like Fudge and Snape. They were
walking quickly along the corridor at the foot of the staircase.
“ … only hope Dumbledore’ s not going to make difficult ies,” Snape was saying.
“The Kiss will be performed immediately?”
“ As soon as Macnair returns with the Dementors. This whole Black affair has
been highly embarrassing. I can’ t tell you how much I’m looking forward to informing
the Daily Prophet that we’ ve got him at last …. I daresay they’ ll want to interview
you, Snape… and once young Harry’s back in his right mind, I expect he’ll want to tell
the Prophet exactly how you saved him….”
Harry clenched his teeth. He caught a glimpse of Snape’s smirk as he and Fudge
passed Harry and Hermione’ s hiding place. Their footsteps died away. Harry and
Hermione waited a few moments to make sure they’ d really gone, then started to run
in the opposite direct ion. Down one staircase, then another, along a new, corridor –
then they heard a cackling ahead.
“Peeves!” Harry muttered, grabbing Hermione’s wrist. “In here!”
They tore into a deserted classroom to their left j ust in t ime. Peeves seemed
to be bouncing along the corridor in boisterous good spirits, laughing his head off.
“Oh, he’ s horrible,” whispered Hermione, her ear to the door. “ I bet he’ s all
excited because the Dementors are going to finish off Sirius….” She checked her
watch. “Three minutes, Harry!”
They waited until Peeves’s gloating voice had faded into the distance, then slid
back out of the room and broke into a run again.
“Hermione – what ’ ll happen – if we don’ t get back inside before Dumbledore
locks the door?” Harry panted.
“ I don’ t want to think about it !” Hermione moaned, checking her watch again.
“One minute!”
They had reached the end of the corridor with the hospital wing ent rance.
“Okay – I can hear Dumbledore,” said Hermione tensely. “Come on, Harry!”
They crept along the corridor. The door opened. Dumbledore’s back appeared.
“ I am going to lock you in,” they heard him saying. “ It is five minutes to
midnight. Miss Granger, three turns should do It. Good luck.”
Dumbledore backed out of the room, closed the door, and took out his wand to
magically lock it . Panicking, Harry and Hermione ran forward. Dumbledore looked up,
and a wide smile appeared under the long silver mustache. “Well?” he said quietly.
“We did it!” said Harry breathlessly. “Sirius has gone, on Buckbeak….”
Dumbledore beamed at them.
“Well done. I think –” He listened intent ly for any sound within the hospital
wing. “Yes, I think you’ve gone too – get inside – I’ll lock you in –”
Harry and Hermione slipped back inside the dormitory. It was empty except for
Ron, who was st ill lying mot ionless in the end bed. As the lock clicked behind them,
Harry and Hermione crept back to their own beds, Hermione tucking the Time–Turner
back under her robes. A moment later, Madam Pomfrey came st riding back out of her
office.
“ Did I hear the headmaster leaving? Am I allowed to look after my pat ients
now?”
She was in a very bad mood. Harry and Hermione thought it best to accept
their chocolate quiet ly. Madam Pomfrey stood over them, making sure they ate it . But
Harry could hardly swallow. He and Hermione were wait ing, listening, their nerves
j angling…. And then, as they both took a fourth piece of chocolate from Madam
Pomfrey, they heard a distant roar of fury echoing from somewhere above them….
“What was that?” said Madam Pomfrey in alarm.
Now they could hear angry voices, growing louder and louder. Madam Pomfrey
was staring at the door.
“Really – they’ll wake everybody up! What do they think they’re doing?”
Harry was t rying to hear what the voices were saying. They were drawing
nearer –
“ He must have Disapparated, Severus. We should have lef t somebody in the
room with him. When this gets out –”
“ HE DIDN’T DISAPPARATE!” Snape roared, now very close at hand. “ YOU CAN’T
APPARATE OR DISAPPARATE INSIDE THIS CASTLE! THIS – HAS – SOMETHING – TO – DO –
WITH – POTTER!”
“Severus – be reasonable – Harry has been locked up –”
BAM.
The door of the hospital wing burst open. Fudge, Snape, and Dumbledore came
st riding into the ward. Dumbledore alone looked calm. Indeed, he looked as though he
was quite enjoying himself. Fudge appeared angry. But Snape was beside himself.
“OUT WITH IT, POTTER!” he bellowed. “WHAT DID YOU DO?”
“Professor Snape!” shrieked Madam Pomfrey. “Control yourself!”
“ See here, Snape, be reasonable,” said Fudge. “ This door’ s been locked, we
just saw –”
“ THEY HELPED HIM ESCAPE, I KNOW IT!” Snape howled, point ing at Harry and
Hermione. His face was twisted; spit was flying from his mouth.
“Calm down, man!” Fudge barked. “You’re talking nonsense!”
“YOU DON’T KNOW POTTER!” shrieked Snape. “HE DID IT, I KNOW HE DID IT –”
“ That will do, Severus,” said Dumbledore quiet ly. “ Think about what you are
saying. This door has been locked since I lef t the ward ten minutes ago. Madam
Pomfrey, have these students left their beds?”
“Of course not!” said Madam Pomfrey, bristling. “I would have heard them!”
“Well, there you have it , Severus,” said Dumbledore calmly. “ Unless you are
suggest ing that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I’m afraid I
don’t see any point in troubling them further.”
Snape stood there, seething, staring f rom Fudge, who looked thoroughly
shocked at his behavior, to Dumbledore, whose eyes were twinkling behind his glasses.
Snape whirled about, robes swishing behind him, and stormed out of the ward.
“Fellow seems quite unbalanced,” said Fudge, staring after him. “I’d watch out
for him if I were you, Dumbledore.”
“Oh, he’ s not unbalanced,” said Dumbledore quiet ly. “ He’ s j ust suffered a
severe disappointment.”
“ He’ s not the only one!” puffed Fudge. “ The Daily Prophet ’ s going to have a
field day! We had Black cornered and he slipped through our fingers yet again! All it
needs now is for the story of that Hippogriff’ s escape to get out , and I’ ll be a
laughingstock! Well… I’d better go and notify the Ministry…”
“And the Dementors?” said Dumbledore. “They’ll be removed from the school, I
trust?”
“Oh yes, they’ ll have to go,” said Fudge, running his fingers dist ractedly
through his hair. “Never dreamed they’d attempt to administer the Kiss on an innocent
boy… Completely out of cont rol… no, I’ ll have them packed of f back to Azkaban
tonight…. Perhaps we should think about dragons at the school entrance….”
“ Hagrid would like that ,” said Dumbledore, smiling at Harry and Hermione. As
he and Fudge left the dormitory, Madam Pomfrey hurried to the door and locked it
again. Muttering angrily to herself, she headed back to her office.
There was a low moan from the other end of the ward. Ron had woken up.
They could see him sitting up, rubbing his head, looking around.
“What – what happened?” he groaned. “ Harry? Why are we in here? Where’ s
Sirius? Where’s Lupin? What’s going on?”
Harry and Hermione looked at each other.
“You explain,” said Harry, helping himself to some more chocolate.
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione left the hospital wing at noon the next day, it
was to find an almost deserted cast le. The sweltering, heat and the end of the exams
meant that everyone was taking full advantage of another Hogsmeade visit . Neither
Ron nor Hermione felt like going, however, so they and Harry wandered onto the
grounds, st ill talking about the ext raordinary events of the previous night and
wondering where Sirius and Buckbeak were now. Sit t ing near the lake, watching the
giant squid waving its tentacles lazily above the water, Harry lost the thread of the
conversat ion as he looked across to the opposite bank. The stag had galloped toward
him from there just last night….
A shadow fell across them and they looked ‘ t ip to see a very bleary–eyed
Hagrid, mopping his sweaty face with one of his tablecloth–sized handkerchiefs and
beaming down at them.
“ Know I shouldn’ feel happy, after wha’ happened las’ night ,” he said. “ I
mean, Black escapin’ again, an, everythin’ – but guess what?”
“What?” they said, pretending to look curious.
“Beaky! He escaped! He’s free! Bin celebratin’ all night!”
“ That ’ s wonderful!” said Hermione, giving Ron a reproving look because he
looked as though he was close to laughing.
“ Yeah… can’ t ’ ve t ied him up properly,” said Hagrid, gazing happily out over
the grounds. “ I was worried this mornin’ , mind… thought he mighta met Professor
Lupin on the grounds, but Lupin says he never ate anythin’ las’ night….”
“What?” said Harry quickly.
“ Blimey, haven’ yeh heard?” said Hagrid, his smile fading a lit t le. He lowered
his voice, even though there was nobody in sight . “ Er – Snape told all the Slytherins
this mornin’…. Thought everyone’d know by now… Professor Lupin’s a werewolf, see.
An’ he was loose on the grounds las’ night…. He’s packin’ now, o’ course.
“He’s packing?” said Harry, alarmed. “Why?”
“ Leavin’ , isn’ he?” said Hagrid, looking surprised that Harry had to ask.
“Resigned firs’ thing this mornin’. Says he can’t risk it happenin again.
Harry scrambled to his feet.
“I’m going to see him,” he said to Ron and Hermione.
“But if he’s resigned –”
“ – doesn’t sound like there’s anything we can do –”
“I don’t care. I still want to see him. I’ll meet you back here.”
Lupin’ s office door was open. He had already packed most of his things. The
Grindylow’ s empty tank stood next to his bat tered old suitcase, which was open and
nearly full. Lupin was bending over something on his desk and looked up only when
Harry knocked on the door.
“ I saw you coming,” said Lupin, smiling. He pointed to the parchment he had
been poring over. It was the Marauder’s Map.
“ I j ust saw Hagrid,” said Harry. “ And he said you’ d resigned. It ’ s not t rue, is
it?”
“ I’m afraid it is,” said Lupin. He started opening his desk drawers and taking
out the contents.
“Why?” said Harry. “ The Minist ry of Magic don’ t think you were helping Sirius,
do they?”
Lupin crossed to the door and closed it behind Harry.
“ No. Professor Dumbledore managed to convince Fudge that was t rying to save
your lives.” He sighed. “ That was the final st raw for Severus. I think the loss of the
Order of Merlin hit him hard. So he – er – accidentally let slip that I am a werewolf this
morning at breakfast.”
“You’re not leaving just because of that!” said Harry.
Lupin smiled wryly.
“ This t ime tomorrow, the owls will start arriving from parents…. They will not
want a werewolf teaching their children, Harry. And after last night , I see their point .
I could have bitten any of you…. That must never happen again.”
“You’re the best Defense Against the Dark Arts– teacher we’ ve ever had!” said
Harry. “Don’t go!”
Lupin shook his head and didn’ t speak. He carried on emptying his drawers.
Then, while Harry was t rying to think of a good argument to make him stay, Lupin
said, “ From what the headmaster told me this morning, you saved a lot of lives last
night , Harry. If I’m proud of anything I’ ve done this year, it ’ s how much you’ ve
learned…. Tell me about your Patronus.”
“How d’you know about that?” said Harry, distracted.
“What else could have driven the Dementors back?”
Harry told Lupin what had happened. When he’ d f inished, Lupin was smiling
again.
“ Yes, your father was always a stag when he t ransformed,” he said. “ You
guessed right… that’s why we called him Prongs.”
Lupin threw his last few books into his case, closed the desk drawers, and
turned to look at Harry.
“Here – I brought this from the Shrieking Shack last night ,” he said, handing
Harry back the Invisibility Cloak. “ And…” He hesitated, then held out the Marauder’s
Map too. “ I am no longer your teacher, so I don’ t feel guilty about giving you back this
as well. It’s no use to me, and I daresay you, Ron, and Hermione will find uses for it.”
Harry took the map and grinned.
“ You told me Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot , and Prongs would’ ve wanted to lure
me out of school… you said they’d have thought it was funny.”
“ And so we would have,” said Lupin, now reaching down to close his case. “ I
have no hesitat ion in saying that James would have been highly disappointed if his son
had never found any of the secret passages out of the castle.”
There was a knock on the door. Harry hast ily stuffed the Marauder’ s Map and
the Invisibility Cloak into his pocket . It was Professor Dumbledore. He didn’ t look
surprised to see Harry there.
“Your carriage is at the gates, Remus,” he said.
“Thank You, Headmaster.”
Lupin picked up his old suitcase and the empty Grindylow tank.
“Well – good–bye, Harry,” he said, smiling. “ It has been a real pleasure
teaching you. I feel sure we’ ll meet again somet ime. Headmaster, there is no need to
see me to the gates, I can manage….”
Harry had the impression that Lupin wanted to leave as quickly as possible.
“Good–bye, then, Remus,” said Dumbledore soberly. Lupin shif ted the
Grindylow tank slight ly so that he and Dumbledore could shake hands. Then, with a
final nod to Harry and a swift smile, Lupin left the office.
Harry sat down in his vacated chair, staring glumly at the floor. He heard the
door close and looked up. Dumbledore was still there.
“Why so miserable, Harry?” he said quiet ly. “ You should be very proud of
yourself after last night.”
“It didn’t make any difference,” said Harry bitterly. “Pettigrew got away.”
“ Didn’ t make any difference?” said Dumbledore quiet ly, “ It made all the
difference in the world, Harry. You helped uncover the t ruth. You saved an innocent
man from a terrible fate.”
Terrible. Something st irred in Harry’ s memory. Great er and more t errible than
ever before… Professor Trelawney’s prediction!
“ Professor Dumbledore – yesterday, when I was having my Divinat ion exam,
Professor Trelawney went very – very strange.”
“Indeed?” said Dumbledore. “Er – stranger than usual, you mean?”
“ Yes… her voice went all deep and her eyes rolled and she said … she said
Voldemort ’ s servant was going to set out to return to him before midnight …. She said
the servant would help him come back to power.” Harry stared up at Dumbledore.
“ And then she sort of became normal again, and she couldn’ t remember anything
she’d said. Was it – was she making a real prediction?”
Dumbledore looked mildly impressed.
“ Do you know, Harry, I think she might have been,” he said thought fully.
“Who’ d have thought it? That brings her total of real predict ions up to two. I should
offer her a pay raise….”
“But –” Harry looked at him, aghast . How could Dumbledore take this so
calmly?
“But – I stopped Sirius and Professor Lupin from killing Pettigrew! That makes it
my fault if Voldemort comes back!”
“ It does not ,” said Dumbledore quiet ly. “ Hasn’ t your experience with the
Time–Turner taught you anything, Harry? The consequences of our act ions are always
so complicated, so diverse, that predict ing the future is a very difficult business
indeed…. Professor Trelawney, bless her, is living proof of that …. You did a very
noble thing, in saving Pettigrew’s life.”
“But if he helps Voldemort back to power
“ Pet t igrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in
your debt …. When one wizard saves another wizard’ s life, it creates a certain bond
between them… and I’m much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of
Harry Potter.”
“ I don’ t want a connect ion with Pet t igrew!” said Harry. “ He bet rayed my
parents!”
“ This is magic at its deepest , its most impenet rable, Harry. But t rust me… the
time may come when you will be very glad you saved Pettigrew’s life.”
Harry couldn’ t imagine when that would be. Dumbledore looked as though he
knew what Harry was thinking.
“ I knew your father very well, both at Hogwarts and later, Harry,” he said
gently. “He would have saved Pettigrew too, I am sure of it.”
Harry looked up at him. Dumbledore wouldn’ t laugh – he could tell
Dumbledore…
“ I thought it was my dad who’ d conj ured my Pat ronus. I mean, when I saw
myself across the lake … I thought I was seeing him.” “An easy mistake to make,” said
Dumbledore soft ly. “ I expect you’ ll t ire of hearing it , but you do look ext raordinarily
like James. Except for the eyes… you have your mother’s eyes.
Harry shook his head.
“ It was stupid, thinking it was him,” he mut tered. “ I mean…I knew he was
dead.”
“ You think the dead we loved ever t ruly leave us? You think that we don’ t
recall them more clearly than ever in t imes of great t rouble? Your father is alive in
you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else
could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night.”
It took a moment for Harry to realize what Dumblefore had said.
“ Last night Sirius told me all about how they became Animagi,” said
Dumbledore, smiling. “An extraordinary achievement – not least, keeping it quiet from
me. And then I remembered the most unusual form your Pat ronus took, when it
charged Mr. Malfoy down at your Quiddit ch match against Ravenclaw. You know,
Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night…. You found him inside yourself.”
And Dumbledore left the office, leaving Harry to his very confused thoughts.
Nobody at Hogwarts now knew the t ruth of what had happened the night that
Sirius, Buckbeak, and Pet t igrew had vanished except Harry, Ron, Hermione, and
Professor Dumbledore. As the end of term approached, Harry heard many different
theories about what had really happened, but none of them came close to the truth.
Malfoy was furious about Buckbeak. He was convinced that Hagrid had found a
way of smuggling the Hippogriff to safety, and seemed out raged that he and his father
had been outwit ted by a gamekeeper. Percy Weasley, meanwhile, had much to say on
the subject of Sirius’s escape.
“ If I manage to get into the Minist ry, I’ ll have a lot of proposals to make about
Magical Law Enforcement !” he told the only person who would listen – his girlfriend,
Penelope.
Though the weather was perfect , though the atmosphere was so cheerful,
though he knew they had achieved the near impossible in helping Sirius to freedom,
Harry had never approached the end of a school year in worse spirits.
He certainly wasn’ t the only one who was sorry to see Professor Lupin go. The
whole of Harry’ s Defense Against the Dark Arts class was miserable about his
resignation.
“Wonder what they’ll give us next year?” said Seamus Finnigan gloomily.
“Maybe a vampire,” suggested Dean Thomas hopefully.
It wasn’ t only Professor Lupin’ s departure that was weighing on Harry’ s mind.
He couldn’ t help thinking a lot about Professor Trelawney’ s predict ion. He kept
wondering where Pet t igrew was now, whether he had sought sanctuary with
Voldemort yet . But the thing that was lowering Harry’ s spirits most of all was the
prospect of returning to the Dursleys. For maybe half an hour, a glorious half hour, he
had believed he would be living with Sirius from now on… his parents’ best friend….
It would have been the next best thing to having his own father back. And while no
news of Sirius was def initely good news, because it meant he had successfully gone
into hiding, Harry couldn’ t help feeling miserable when he thought of the home he
might have had, and the fact that it was now impossible.
The exam results came out on the last day of term. Harry, Ron, and Hermione
had passed every subj ect . Harry was amazed that he had got through Pot ions. He had
a shrewd suspicion that Dumbledore might have stepped in to stop Snape failing him
on purpose. Snape’ s behavior toward Harry over the past week had been quite
alarming. Harry wouldn’ t have thought it possible that Snape’ s dislike for him could
increase, but it certainly had. A muscle twitched unpleasantly at the corner of Snape’s
thin mouth every time he looked at Harry, and he was constantly flexing his fingers, as
though itching to place them around Harry’s throat.
Percy had got his top–grade N.E.W.T.s; Fred and George had scraped a handful
of O.W.L.s each. Gryffindor House, meanwhile, largely thanks to their spectacular
performance in the Quidditch Cup, had won the House championship for the third year
running. This meant that the end of term feast took place amid decorat ions of scarlet
and gold, and that the Gryf findor table was the noisiest of the lot , as everybody
celebrated.
Even Harry managed to forget about the j ourney back to the Dursleys the next
day as he ate, drank, talked, and laughed with the rest . As the Hogwarts Express
pulled out of the stat ion the next morning, Hermione gave Harry and Ron some
surprising news.
“ I went to see Professor McGonagall this morning, j ust before breakfast . I’ ve
decided to drop Muggle Studies.”
“But you passed your exam with three hundred and twenty percent!” said Ron.
“ I know,” sighed Hermione, “ but I can’ t stand another year like this one. That
Time–Turner, it was driving me mad. I’ ve handed it in. Without Muggle Studies and
Divination, I’ll be able to have a normal schedule again.”
“ I st ill can’ t believe you didn’ t tell us about it ,” said Ron grumpily. “We’ re
supposed to be your friends.”
“I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone,” said Hermione severely. She looked around
at Harry, who was watching Hogwarts disappear from view behind a mountain. Two
whole months before he’d see it again….
“Oh, cheer up, Harry!” said Hermione sadly.
“I’m okay,” said Harry quickly. “Just thinking about the holidays.”
“ Yeah, I’ ve been thinking about them too,” said Ron. “ Harry, you’ ve got to
come and stay with us. I’ ll fix it up with Mum and Dad, then I’ ll call you. I know how
to use a fellytone now –”
“A telephone, Ron,” said Hermione. “ Honest ly, you should take Muggle Studies
next year….”
Ron ignored her.
“ It ’ s the Quidditch World Cup this summer! How about it , Harry? Come and
stay, and we’ll go and see it! Dad can usually get tickets from work.”
This proposal had the effect of cheering Harry up a great deal.
“ Yeah… I bet the Dursleys’ d be pleased to let me come… especially after
what I did to Aunt Marge….”
Feeling considerably more cheerful, Harry j oined Ron and Hermione in several
games of Exploding Snap, and when the witch with the tea cart arrived, he bought
himself a very large lunch, though nothing with chocolate in it.
But it was late in the afternoon before the thing that made him t ruly happy
turned up….
“ Harry,” said Hermione suddenly, peering over his shoulder. “What ’ s that thing
outside your window?”
Harry turned to look outside. Something very small and gray was bobbing in and
out of sight beyond the glass. He stood up for a bet ter look and saw that it was a t iny
owl, carrying a let ter that was much too big for it . The owl was so small, in fact , that
it kept tumbling over in the air, buffeted this way and that in the t rain’ s slipst ream.
Harry quickly pulled down the window, st retched out his arm, and caught it . It felt
like a very fluffy Snitch. He brought it carefully inside. The owl dropped its let ter onto
Harry’ s seat and began zooming around their compartment , apparent ly very pleased
with itself for accomplishing its task. Hedwig clicked her beak with a sort of dignified
disapproval. Crookshanks sat up in his seat , following the owl with his great yellow
eyes. Ron, noticing this, snatched the owl safely out of harm’s way.
Harry picked up the let ter. It was addressed to him. He ripped open the let ter,
and shouted, “It’s from Sirius!”
“What?” said Ron and Hermione excitedly. “Read it aloud!”
Dear Harry,
I hope t his f inds you before you reach your aunt and uncle. I
don’t know whether they’re used to owl post.
Buckbeak and I are in hiding. I won’ t t el l you where, in case t his
owl fal ls int o t he wrong hands. I have some doubt about his rel iabil it y,
but he is the best I could find, and he did seem eager for the job.
I bel ieve the Dementors are st il l searching for me, but t hey
haven’ t a hope of f inding me here. I am planning t o al low some
Muggles t o gl impse me soon, a long way f rom Hogwart s, so t hat t he
security on the castle will be lifted.
There is somet hing I never got around t o telling you during our
brief meeting. It was I who sent you the Firebolt –
“Ha!” said Hermione triumphantly. “See! I told you it was from him!”
“ Yes, but he hadn’ t j inxed it , had he?” said Ron. “ Ouch!” The t iny owl, now
hoot ing happily in his hand, had nibbled one of his fingers in what it seemed to think
was an affectionate way.
Crookshanks t ook t he order t o t he Owl Of f ice for me. I used
your name but told them to take the gold from my own Gringotts vault.
Please consider it as t hirt een birt hdays’ wort h of present s f rom your
godfather.
I would also l ike t o apologize for t he f right I t hink I gave you
t hat night last year when you lef t your uncle’ s house. I had only hoped
t o get a glimpse of you before start ing my journey north, but I think
the sight of me alarmed you.
I am enclosing somet hing else for you, which I t hink wil l make
your next year at Hogwarts more enjoyable.
If ever you need me, send word. Your owl will find me.
I’ll write again soon.
Sirius
Harry looked eagerly inside the envelope. There was another piece of
parchment in there. He read it through quickly and felt suddenly as warm and
contented as though he’d swallowed a bottle of hot Butterbeer in one gulp.
I, Sirius Black, Harry Potter’s godfather, hereby give him permission to visit
Hogsmeade on weekends.
“ That ’ ll be good enough for Dumbledore!” said Harry happily. He looked back
at Sirius’s letter. “Hang on, there’s a….”
I thought your friend Ron might like to keep this owl, as it’s my fault he no longer has a
rat.
Ron’ s eyes widened. The minute owl was st ill hoot ing excitedly. “ Keep him?”
he said uncertainly. He looked closely at the owl for a moment ; then, to Harry’ s and
Hermione’s great surprise, he held him out for Crookshanks to sniff.
“What do you reckon?” Ron asked the cat. “Definitely an owl?”
Crookshanks purred.
“That’s good enough for me,” said Ron happily. “He’s mine.”
Harry read and reread the let ter f rom Sirius all the way back into King’ s Cross
station. It was still clutched tightly in his hand as he, Ron, and Hermione stepped back
through the barrier of plat form nine and three–quarters. Harry spot ted Uncle Vernon
at once. He was standing a good distance from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, eyeing them
suspiciously, and when Mrs. Weasley hugged Harry in greet ing, his worst suspicions
about them seemed confirmed.
“ I’ ll call about the World Cup!” Ron yelled after Harry as Harry bid him and
Hermione good–bye, then wheeled the t rolley bearing his t runk and Hedwig’ s cage
toward Uncle Vernon, who greeted him in his usual fashion.
“What ’ s that?” he snarled, staring at the envelope Harry was st ill clutching in
his hand. “If it’s another form for me to sign, you’ve got another ––”
“It’s not,” said Harry cheerfully. “It’s a letter from my godfather.”
“Godfather?” sputtered Uncle Vernon. “You haven’t got a godfather!”
“Yes, I have,” said Harry brightly. “He was my mum and dad’s best friend. He’s
a convicted murderer, but he’ s broken out of wizard prison and he’ s on the run. He
likes to keep in touch with me, though… keep up with my news… check if I’m
happy…”
And, grinning broadly at the look of horror on Uncle Vernon’ s face, Harry set
of f toward the stat ion exit , Hedwig rat t ling along in front of him, for what looked like
a much better summer than the last.

Tentang taoefiq27

I'm only usual man
Pos ini dipublikasikan di Harry Potter, Novel dan tag . Tandai permalink.

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