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- Chapter 1: Owl Post
- Chapter 2: Aunt Marge's Big Mistake
- Chapter 3: The Knight Bus
- Chapter 4: The Leaky Cauldron
- Chapter 5: The Dementor
- Chapter 6: Talons and Tea Leaves
- Chapter 7: The Boggart in the Wardrobe
- Chapter 8: Flight of the Fat Lady
- Chapter 9: Grim Defeat
- Chapter 10: The Marauder's Map
- Chapter 11: The Firebolt
- Chapter 12: The Patronus
- Chapter 13: Gryffindor Versus Ravenclaw
- Chapter 14: Snape's Grudge
- Chapter 15: The Quidditch Final
- Chapter 16: Professor Trelawney's Prediction
- Chapter 17: Cat, Rat and Dog
- Chapter 18: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
- Chapter 19: The Servant of Lord Voldemort
- Chapter 20: The Dementor's Kiss
- Chapter 21: Hermione's Secret
- Chapter 22: Owl Post Again
The third installment in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is written from the point-of-view of 13 year-old Harry Potter. The title refers to convicted criminal, Sirius Black, who has escaped Azkaban, a wizard prison. Black's life previously intersected with Harry's history and continues to do so in the present.
Chapter 1: Owl Post
It is nearly midnight at the Dursley home, and Harry, crouched under his bed covers, is reading A History of Magic and writing a summer homework essay on witch burning. Uncle Vernon locked Harry's school trunk in the cupboard, and Harry had to pick the cupboard lock and steal his books, quill, parchment, and ink, in order to do his homework.
As usual, Harry celebrates his birthday alone. Other than Ron's botched phone call, which ended with Uncle Vernon hanging up on him, Harry has heard nothing from his Hogwarts friends all summer. As Harry prepares to go to sleep, Hedwig and Errol (the Weasley’s owl) arrive with presents. Ron sends Harry a Pocket Sneakoscope and a Daily Prophet article about Ron’s father winning a contest. The Weasleys used the prize money for a trip to Egypt; the article's photo shows the entire Weasley family, including Ron's pet rat, and Percy wearing his new Head Boy badge. Hermione, vacationing in France with her parents, sends Harry a Broomstick Servicing Kit. Hagrid's gift is a strange book titled The Monster Book of Monsters. It almost seems alive, nipping at Harry and nearly waking the Dursleys as it scrambles around the room before Harry subdues it.
Another owl delivers the usual Hogwarts' letter with instructions about classes, textbooks, and supplies. Professor McGonagall has included a permission form that a parent or guardian needs to sign, allowing students to visit Hogsmeade, the Wizarding village in which Hogwarts is located. Harry doubts he can persuade the Dursleys to sign it, but for now, he is happy that his birthday has been remembered by his friends.
Harry must endure yet another unhappy summer at the Dursleys. His confinement there only reinforces what little connection Harry retains to the Muggle world and how he longs to return to Hogwarts, the only place he feels he truly belongs. Although Harry's first eleven years at the abusive Dursleys were unhappy, he survived relatively well, unaware then that he actually belonged somewhere else. Now, knowing that another world exists where he is happy, has friends, and is accepted for who and what he is, his confinement to Privet Drive is intolerable. He was prematurely liberated the previous year by Ron and the Twins, who rescued him in the flying car and took him to their home, but it seems unlikely Harry will be as fortunate this summer. He has not been totally shut off from the Wizarding realm, however. Reading A History of Magic is one means by which he remains connected. Also, Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid have remembered him, sending gifts and letters. Ron's present, an inexpensive Sneakoscope, likely will play a significant role in the plot, as may the photograph of the Weasleys in Egypt. Hagrid's gift is also notable, though it seems more aligned to his own interests than Harry's. And while Harry is left confused as to why Hagrid sent such a "ferocious" gift, the "Monster" book, as well as Hermione's present, may also foreshadow upcoming plot elements.
Readers might notice a minor mistake in early editions of this book. The textbook that Harry is reading, A History of Magic, is said to be by Adalbert Waffling. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we are told that A History of Magic is by Bathilda Bagshot. Adalbert Waffling is the author of Magical Theory, according to Book 1. This mistake is pointed up by Bathilda's becoming a more important character in book 7. While it is possible, as in the Muggle world, that these are two separate books by different authors that just happen to have identical titles, and that Magical Theory is another book by Waffling, it seems in fact to be only a minor mistake, corrected in later editions.
- What is unusual about the book Hagrid sends to Harry?
- What is the permission slip for? Why is Harry concerned?
- What does Ron send Harry for his birthday? What is it for?
- Why does Percy wear his Head Boy badge while on a trip to Egypt?
- How might Harry convince Uncle Vernon to sign the permission slip? How likely is Vernon to sign it?
- Why would Hagrid send Harry such an unusual book for his birthday?
The Weasley family photograph, though seemingly mundane and insignificant, is actually what spurs the majority of the book's action. When Harry's convicted godfather, Sirius Black sees the picture in the Daily Prophet, he recognizes Ron’s rat as being something other than a pet; this compels him to escape Azkaban prison, apparently intent on murdering Harry, but actually for another purpose.
Ron mentions that the Sneakoscope is cheap and probably faulty, it having gone off two times when he believes it should not have. Harry's thought that it had reacted to the Twins, and later Ron, behaving in an untrustworthy manner, leaves us wondering whether Ron's assessment is correct. It will go off twice more, and though the warnings are again disregarded, the Sneakoscope is, in every case, correctly signaling an untrustworthy person's nearby presence.
Hermione's gift, a broomstick servicing kit, while unimportant to the plot, may represent just how significant Harry's brooms are to him, as well as foreshadowing a major subplot involving Harry's treasured Nimbus 2000 broom. When it is accidentally destroyed, he will receive an expensive replacement from an anonymous benefactor, only to have it confiscated by concerned Hogwarts staff, though it is eventually returned when it is declared to be safe. This cycle's effect of loss and recovery will be felt by Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as well as the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and it could also be seen as a metaphor for Harry's own life.
Unknown to Harry just yet, Hagrid is the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher. The Monster Book of Monsters is his chosen "set book" (textbook), and he has partly selected it because he finds it humorous. The book can only be opened by stroking it, whereupon it purrs and relaxes. No one will be able to figure this out, and the entire class will have bound their textbooks with belts and ropes to prevent attacks. This is hardly surprising; the Flourish & Blotts staff, who as booksellers should know such details about the books they sell, are equally unable to tame the vicious tomes and keep them securely caged.
- The Sneakoscope will appear twice more in this book, once on the Hogwarts Express, and again near Christmas. A different Sneakoscope will appear on Professor Moody's desk in the fourth book, and another, possibly Moody's, will appear in the Room of Requirement in the fifth book. The specific Sneakoscope that we see in this chapter will not be seen after this book until, old and broken, it is cleaned out of Harry's school trunk in the final book. Hermione will give Harry a new Sneakoscope for his birthday that year, and it will be used multiple times during the Trio's travels through England in that book.
Chapter 2: Aunt Marge's Big Mistake
At breakfast the next morning, Harry is hardly surprised when nobody wishes him a Happy Birthday. Everyone is watching the new kitchen TV, which had been installed because Dudley was complaining about the long walk from the living room TV to the fridge. The TV newscaster is reporting on an escaped prisoner, Sirius Black, saying he is armed and dangerous; Aunt Petunia immediately goes to the window to see if he might be outside. Uncle Vernon prepares to leave for the train station to collect Aunt Marge, Vernon's sister and Harry's least favorite relative. Marge's past visits have left Harry with extremely unpleasant memories, and he is unhappy that she is staying for a whole week. Uncle Vernon warns Harry to keep a civil tongue and that there will not be any funny stuff (presumably meaning magic). He reminds Harry that Marge believes he attends St. Brutus's Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys. As Uncle Vernon is leaving, Harry corners him with a counter proposal: if he behaves during Marge's visit, Uncle Vernon will sign his Hogsmeade permission slip. Uncle Vernon, reminded about how easy it would be for Harry to slip up and say something about his magical connections, and how little he has to lose by doing so, angrily agrees, and slams off to the station as Harry, resigned to acting like a Muggle for the week, sadly puts away all his magical stuff and sends Hedwig and Errol to Ron for the week.
The visit begins poorly, with Marge giving Dudley a big hug and a kiss and £20, while treating Harry as a porter. Throughout the week, Marge repeatedly insults Harry, at one point commenting about how problems in the parents usually appear in the offspring. When her wine glass suddenly shatters, she passes it off as her having such strong hands, not suspecting that it could have been Harry who caused it to break – Harry is angry enough to have done it, but is unsure whether he did. On her last day, Aunt Marge goes into a diatribe about Harry's "good-for-nothing parents". Harry's anger causes her to start swelling, eventually inflating like a balloon and bobbing around on the ceiling. Harry knows he is probably in trouble for twice violating the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Under-Age Sorcery, an action that could result in having his wand snapped in two and/or being expelled from Hogwarts. Harry hurriedly packs his belongings, and dragging his trunk behind him, runs into the night.
It would have seemed that no one could be more unpleasant to Harry than Uncle Vernon, but Aunt Marge is equally hateful. Her derogatory comment, "If there is something wrong with the bitch, there'll be something wrong with the pup," is seemingly an aspersion at Harry by targeting his mother's character, but it could also be a thinly veiled insult against Aunt Petunia, Vernon's sister, who Marge may consider inferior and tainted by her blood relationship to Harry and his parents. Her animosity excludes Dudley, despite his blood connection to Harry and Petunia. Marge dotes on her young nephew.
Harry's interactions, both with Vernon and Marge, show how he has matured and has become more assertive. There has been a slight power shift in the household. Harry, fully aware that this has happened, now bargains with Vernon to attain what he wants. With Marge, Harry is able to restrain himself, barely, for almost the full week, only losing his temper when she insults his parents. It is noteworthy that we see Vernon attempting to defuse the situation, knowing Harry is being pushed to his limits, and fearing what might happen should those limits be exceeded. This illustrates their relationship's changing dynamic; even one year earlier, Vernon would never have worried about Harry in a similar situation, firmly believing in his own ascendancy.
While Harry has become more sophisticated and adept at manipulating and interacting with people, Uncle Vernon has grown fearful, perhaps realizing that as his nephew nears legal age, he could possibly retaliate against the family with magic. Knowing that Vernon worries that Aunt Marge, who already considers Harry inferior, might learn he is a wizard, Harry exploits the situation to barter with his uncle, offering good behavior and agreeing to act like a Muggle in exchange for having his Hogsmeade permission slip signed. However, when Harry is unable to contain his anger with the obnoxious Marge, he loses this opportunity. Although his uncontrolled reaction has lost him his chance to visit Hogsmeade, it also shows how powerful Harry's magical abilities have become. Without realizing it, Harry has demonstrated "wandless magic" several times, a nearly impossible feat for most wizards. While Harry is unsure if he shattered Aunt Marge's wine glass, it is certain that both his inflating her, and the cupboard unlocking when he retrieves his trunk, are magic, and as Harry's wand is locked in the cupboard, Harry is performing magic without its assistance.
Despite the changed relationship between Harry and Uncle Vernon, Harry is still a child, and his reactions are childish. Having gotten into trouble in Vernon's house, and presuming he violated wizard law, Harry's impulse is to run away. He has no clear idea where to go, or what he will do when he gets there; he simply decides that he must become a fugitive, believing he can gather his money from Gringotts and go into hiding. For one as famous as Harry, this is clearly wishful thinking at its worst; Harry could never remain hidden. It also never occurs to him that there are many, including Dumbledore, McGonagall, and the Weasleys, who would come to his defence. This actually is an interesting contrast to Harry's behaviour in his first year, where, knowing that he was headed into possibly mortal danger, Harry pressed ahead anyway. It likely would prove interesting to examine this event, and Harry's earlier excursion Through the Trap Door, to see how Harry's character is motivated in each case.
On a lesser note, it is interesting to see the planning that must have gone into this chapter. At the end of the chapter, Harry reclaims his trunk from under the stairs and runs. Somehow, the author must prearrange that all of Harry's Hogwarts stuff will be in that trunk, and that Hedwig will be gone; Harry will not have time to dash madly about the house to collect his text books, assignments, and owl on the way out the door. The permission slip, in itself, might not be enough to force Harry to send Hedwig away and pack up his magical materials, but combine that with Marge, strike the deal that we see in this chapter, and it can all be arranged in a way that seems organic rather than contrived. This is especially important as it seems, at the end of this chapter, that Harry may feel he can never return to the Dursley home.
- Why does Harry run away? Was he right to?
- How does Harry plan to have Uncle Vernon sign his Hogsmeade permission slip? What does this say about how Harry's character has changed?
- Why does Aunt Petunia look outside the window? Are her fears reasonable?
- How is Harry able to perform magic unintentionally and without a wand? What does this indicate about him?
- How has Harry's relationship with his aunt and uncle changed? What accounts for this change and how will affect his relationship with them in the future?
- Even if Harry had not accidentally inflated Aunt Marge, would Uncle Vernon have signed Harry's permission slip? Give reasons both for and against this.
- Why does Aunt Marge insult Harry's dead parents?
- Why would Uncle Vernon attempt to intervene when Marge insults Harry?
- Were Marge's insults also intended for someone else? If so, who and why?
It will be revealed that Sirius Black is actually a fugitive wizard considered dangerous to both wizards and Muggles. It therefore becomes necessary to warn Muggles about him. Though the Wizarding world is kept secret and separate from Muggles, there are key Muggle contacts who work with wizard officials. Just how Muggles are alerted is shown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Aunt Petunia nervously peering out the window after the TV newscast may be for a very specific reason, rather than a general panicked reaction to a fugitive on the loose. Petunia is far more knowledgeable about the Wizarding world than Harry, or we, ever imagined. Dumbledore had likely briefed her regarding the circumstances surrounding her sister Lily's death; the letter that had been left with Harry in the first chapter of the first book likely went into some detail. Perhaps recognizing Sirius Black's name and knowing that Black is connected to Harry and also to the Potters' murders, she now fears for Vernon and Dudley's safety, as well as her own, though she is probably less concerned about Harry's wellbeing. We have no guide as to how she feels about Aunt Marge.
- Aunt Marge was mentioned in passing as one of the people who might be persuaded to care for Harry while the rest of the family celebrated Dudley's birthday. She will reappear, briefly, when Harry is undergoing his abortive occlumency lessons with Professor Snape in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Snape will retrieve some memories of Harry's mistreatment at Marge's hands, and will ask about them.
Chapter 3: The Knight Bus
Harry finds himself, with his possessions but no Muggle money, on a dark deserted street. Fearing Ministry officials are searching for him to expel him from the Wizarding community, Harry decides that using more magic could hardly worsen his situation. He intends to magically lighten his trunk, and, hidden under his Invisibility Cloak, fly to Diagon Alley in London on his broom to withdraw his inherited fortune from Gringotts Bank. While rummaging through his trunk, he has an uneasy feeling eyes are upon him. Flashing his wand-light at a dark corner, he sees a huge dog; recoiling, he trips over his trunk and falls into the street. A purple triple-decker bus suddenly appears from nowhere, nearly running over him.
A conductor in an equally purple outfit hops out and introduces himself as Stan Shunpike, conductor for the Knight Bus. Only after he partially gets through his spiel does Stan realize that the person who "flagged" the bus is lying on the ground. Helping him up, Stan asks Harry his name. Harry, afraid that he is already a wanted fugitive, identifies himself as his Hogwarts classmate, Neville Longbottom, and asks if the bus can take him to the Leaky Cauldron. Stan tells him the Knight Bus will take him to London for eleven sickles; for thirteen, he gets hot chocolate, and for fifteen, a hot water bottle and a toothbrush. Harry climbs on board, while Ernie, the driver, manhandles his trunk into the bus. Inside, the bus is furnished with four-poster beds rather than chairs.
The bumpy ride leaves Harry unable to sleep, while Stan reads The Daily Prophet. Sirius Black's photo is on the front page—the same fugitive Harry saw on Muggle TV. The story says Black killed thirteen people with a single curse, and he is believed to be a strong supporter of Voldemort.
When the Knight Bus arrives at The Leaky Cauldron the next morning, it is met by Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge. Stan Shunpike, already awed by accounts of "The Boy Who Lived", is astounded when Fudge greets his passenger, addressing him as "Harry". Fudge escorts Harry to a private parlor in the Leaky Cauldron and informs him that his Aunt Marge has been punctured and her memory altered. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia are willing to take Harry back next summer if he stays at Hogwarts for Christmas and Easter. And, most puzzling, given what happened when Dobby the House-elf used magic at his home the previous year, Harry learns there will be no consequences for having performed under-age wizardry.
Harry will stay at the Leaky Cauldron until school starts, and Fudge requests that he confine his travels to within Diagon Alley, not venturing into Muggle London. Harry asks Fudge to sign his Hogsmeade permission slip, but Fudge seems disconcerted by this and refuses. Harry finds Hedwig inside his room, where he promptly falls asleep.
Harry, thrown into a panic, is thinking and acting irrationally, and, in what becomes a somewhat typical behavioral pattern, takes his trunk and runs away, unable to endure his family's abuse any longer. Although Harry's reaction is childish, he knows from his own past experience the harsh penalty for using underage magic. He expects only the worst: expulsion from Hogwarts and having his wand snapped in two. His brief foray into the nighttime Muggle world is frightening, and however unhappy he was at the Dursleys, he was at least safe, and comforted by knowing he would always return to Hogwarts. Now everything he holds dear seems to have vanished, and Harry is too used to unfair treatment to expect the incident to be resolved favorably. He is unsure what to do next, but decides his only option is to become an outcast living clandestinely on the Wizarding world's fringe. Fortunately, his faulty plan is derailed by a scary large dog and the Knight Bus' timely arrival.
Harry experiences another way wizards coexist unnoticed with the Muggle world—the Knight Bus, a vehicle that seamlessly navigates through Muggle traffic undetected. Conductor Stan Shunpike, a rather comical and ineffectual character, represents Harry's lifeline back into the Wizarding realm. The return trip is bumpy, however, both literally and figuratively. Even aboard the Knight Bus, Harry is unable to escape his celebrity, overhearing Ernie and Stan Shunpike chatting about the famous Harry Potter, unaware he is their passenger. During the long ride, Harry learns about the escaped fugitive, Sirius Black, though he only briefly takes notice, instead preoccupied by his current unhappy situation. Harry's concern and reaction over the episode with Aunt Marge was unnecessary, however—Fudge, surprisingly, brushes off the entire incident and arranges for Harry to stay in Diagon Alley until school starts.
As a minor aside, there is a small numerical discrepancy here. Harry's birthday and Aunt Marge's arrival fall on the 31st of July; Aunt Marge's visit is only for one week, and Harry leaves on her last night there, which should be August 6. The next day, Fudge twice remarks that Harry will be staying in the Leaky Cauldron for the last fortnight (two weeks) of his vacation; but if school starts on 1 September, Harry's stay in the Leaky Cauldron should be closer to three and a half weeks than two.
- What does Harry see when he is on the dark street? Why is he so affected by it?
- What is the Knight Bus and how did it know where to find Harry?
- Why does Harry say his name is "Neville Longbottom" when he boards the Knight Bus?
- Why does Fudge brush off the incident involving Aunt Marge?
- Why would Fudge refuse to sign Harry's permission slip for Hogsmeade Village?
- If Stan and Ernie did not recognize Harry, then how did Cornelius Fudge know he was traveling on the Knight Bus and headed to Diagon Alley?
- Why don't Stan or Ernie recognize Harry?
- Why is Harry allowed to stay in Diagon Alley by himself, rather than sending him to the Weasleys or another wizard family that would welcome and protect him?
- Considering Sirius Black is reportedly one of Voldemort's followers, why does Harry pay so little attention to the Daily Prophet story about him?
Throughout the year, Harry repeatedly sees the same black dog that appeared moments before he accidentally hailed the Knight Bus. He initially believes it is the Grim, a spectral creature (having no physical reality) believed to be a death omen. The first few times Harry sees it, it appears that he may be in mortal danger. However, before a Quidditch match, he sees Crookshanks and the dog together, which reassures him that the canine must not be spectral. Ironically, though Harry initially considered it a death omen, the dog's first appearance actually aids Harry by causing him to stumble backwards and raise his wand arm, thus hailing the Knight Bus, the vehicle that carries him to safety. The dog is actually the fugitive wizard, Sirius Black, who is an Animagus (a wizard that can transform himself into an animal at will). They continually encounter each other because Black wants to see Harry, who is his godson, though Harry is still unaware he has a godfather. When he first finds out, it proves to be particularly distressing, believing Black betrayed his parents. It is only later that he learns the true circumstances leading to Black's arrest and imprisonment.
Although Harry appears to choose Neville's name randomly when introducing himself, this may be a hint at the connection between the two boys. We will discover in a later book that a prophecy foretold that either boy could have become Voldemort's target.
Harry is still considered a hero: "The Boy Who Lived," who is widely believed to have caused Voldemort's downfall some twelve years earlier. As such, Fudge's "pro-Harry" stance is hardly surprising. Add to that, the general Wizarding population's belief that Sirius Black is (or was) Voldemort's right-hand man who apparently wants to kill Harry, and we see that it would be political suicide for Fudge to allow himself to be identified as the government head that left Harry defenceless against Black. Mystifying as it may seem to Harry, dismissing his magical misbehaviour is the only course the politically-driven Fudge can possibly follow.
Neither can Fudge allow Harry to roam London proper or venture into Hogsmeade village where he would be relatively unprotected from Black. It is also a little surprising that Fudge waffles at signing Harry's permission form; he certainly has a legitimate excuse, that he is not Harry's legal guardian. As the form requires a legal guardian's signature, that would be a ready-made and valid reason; it is therefore surprising that Fudge never uses it.
Stan Shunpike reappears throughout the series, though he remains a minor character. While he occasionally engages in petty mischief, Shunpike represents how easily innocents can become hapless pawns and scapegoats of a corrupt or political institution.
- The Knight Bus, that appears again in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is part of the ever-elaborated Wizarding transportation infrastructure. We have already seen the Hogwarts Express and the use of brooms and the Floo network, and in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire we will find out about Portkeys and Apparition. It may be of interest to examine the multiple modes of transportation, to see how each one's failings are covered by another one's strengths.
Chapter 4: The Leaky Cauldron
Harry's time in Diagon Alley is his own; he browses the many shops, admires the new Firebolt broom at Quality Quidditch Supplies, and spends the afternoons working on his homework, with free sundaes, at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. While buying school supplies, Harry is surprised that the book Hagrid gave him for his birthday, The Monster Book of Monsters, is displayed in Flourish & Blotts. Checking his booklist, he sees it is required for his Care of Magical Creatures class, which is a relief to Harry who was worried Hagrid wanted help with some new "pet". His already owning a copy is also a relief to the Flourish & Blotts clerk, as it is difficult to extract the aggressive tomes from their cage. While looking for his Divination text, Harry sees Death Omens: What To Do When You Know The Worst Is Coming. Something similar to the large black dog he saw when the Knight Bus stopped for him is on the book's cover. Harry is not entirely successful in convincing himself that it is not a death omen.
Many Hogwarts students are appearing in Diagon Alley, including Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, and the real Neville Longbottom. Ron and Hermione finally arrive the day before school starts. Ron has a new wand, while Hermione has three bags of books. She wants to buy an owl, while Ron is going to have the sickly Scabbers looked at, so they troop into the nearby Magical Menagerie pet store. When a large cat named Crookshanks tries to attack Scabbers, Hermione buys it, and also the rat tonic recommended by the clerk for Scabbers.
At the Leaky Cauldron they meet Mr. Weasley. He mentions that Sirius Black is still at large, and the Ministry is putting all its efforts into capturing him. The other Weasleys sweep in: Mrs. Weasley, Percy, who is now Hogwarts Head Boy and even more pompous than the previous year, if that is possible, the Twins, Fred and George, who try to take Percy down a notch by imitating his affected mannerisms, and Ginny. The Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione dine in a private salon at the Leaky Cauldron. Mr. Weasley says the Ministry is providing cars to the train station.
Ron has misplaced Scabbers' Rat Tonic, and Harry volunteers to look for it in the salon as Ron has been pressed into helping Percy look for his Head Boy badge. On the way, Harry overhears Mr. and Mrs. Weasley arguing about what Harry should be told about Sirius Black. The Ministry believes Black escaped Azkaban expressly to find and kill Harry to avenge the Dark Lord. Dementors, guards from Azkaban, have been placed around Hogwarts to protect Harry.
Surprisingly, Harry is unconcerned and believes Black will not be any harder to deal with than Voldemort. The Dementors are more worrisome, however, as it appears he will have to somehow slip past them to get into Hogsmeade village. Carrying Ron's Rat Tonic, Harry finds Fred and George outside the room Ron shares with Percy, and sees that they have changed Percy's Head Boy badge to read Bighead Boy.
Three important plot elements unfold in this chapter. Most significant is that Sirius Black's escape from Azkaban prison is somehow connected to Harry. Understanding Fudge as a politician, we readers can now understand why Fudge so quickly dismissed the incident involving Aunt Marge, and also surmise that Harry is probably being closely guarded by Ministry wizards during his time in Diagon Alley. Secondly, and in Harry's mind most important, is Harry's intent to somehow attend the Hogsmeade school outings, despite lacking custodial permission. Finally, there is the ongoing battle between Crookshanks and Scabbers, a situation that likely will continue to escalate, straining Ron and Hermione's friendship, possibly permanently estranging them. We have seen already that Crookshanks will attack Scabbers while ignoring the nearby caged rats, so it is likely this specific antipathy will continue. Just why Crookshanks seems fixated on Scabbers is puzzling.
The reader should note the comment by the Magical Menagerie clerk about the age of Ron's rat, and the usual life expectancy of rats. It may also be worth noting that Crookshanks' attack on Scabbers is timed to prevent Ron from investigating this matter further. The reader should also note that Ron believes Scabbers is "looking poorly" before they visit the Magical Menagerie.
The canine image that Harry first saw in Privet Lane now seems to be becoming a pattern, with the appearance of a similar image on the book cover. We don't yet know whether this will prove a plot point, but we can see that Harry is beginning to believe that they may actually may have some significant hidden meaning. Harry of course suspects that he may be seeing death omens, but it is safe to assume this unlikely given that this is only the third book of a seven-book series. However, what the significance is, we have yet to find out.
Harry also learns about Dementors, Azkaban Prison's strange, eerie guards, though he is unsure exactly what they are. We find that, despite the worrisome death omens he is seeing, these concern him more than the possibility that Sirius Black may be hunting him. Harry's nonchalance about a more tangible danger is puzzling and unwise, though he may be rationalizing to himself that any threat other than Voldemort, who he has already faced twice, is simply less perilous.
And though Harry is left on his own for the first time, we can guess that Ministry officials are remotely monitoring him until his return to Hogwarts. We can guess that they do not show themselves to him to prevent his wondering about the threat presented by Sirius Black, and suspect that the injunction to remain in Diagon Alley is to avoid having his monitors reveal themselves by their inept aping of Muggle ways. Until his return to Hogwarts, Harry is unencumbered by apparent adult supervision, restrictions, or interpretations. Harry's time is spent exploring and observing the hidden Wizarding realm, which he clearly prefers to the parallel Muggle world only a few steps away.
Harry's character is further illuminated when he goes to Gringotts Bank to get money for school supplies. Rather than withdrawing a huge sum and frivolously buying whatever he wants, including the Firebolt broom he so admires, he carefully considers just how much he needs to cover his necessary school and living expenses. This level of maturity and restraint is rarely seen in someone so young, and it reflects Harry's balanced personality in general.
After being reunited with Ron and Hermione in Diagon Alley, Harry happily rejoins the Weasley family chaos as the children prepare to return to Hogwarts. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley warmly greet him, as do Ron and Ginny. Fred and George, meanwhile, seem even more irreverent, and, propelled by Fred's more dominant personality, are likely planning new mischief for Hogwarts. Percy, now Hogwarts Head Boy, is being insufferably pompous, and, having somewhat distanced himself from his younger siblings, becomes an irresistible target for the Twins' pranks. All these familial interactions provide Harry with rare doses of the happy, cozy family life he so sorely craves.
- Why is Harry seemingly unconcerned when he learns that Sirius Black is looking for him?
- Why does Harry believe he is seeing Death Omens? What are they, and where specifically has he seen them?
- Why does Hermione buy so many books?
- Why is Scabbers looking so sickly?
- Why would such a "dangerous" book be assigned for the "Care of Magical Creatures" class? Who might have assigned it?
- Why was Harry actually relieved to see that the "Monster" book was on the school list?
- Why would Sirius Black be looking for Harry?
- Fred and George have bewitched Percy's prefect badge. Is their replacement caption valid or is this just a mean-spirited prank on their part? How long before Percy is likely to notice?
- What might account for Percy's changed behavior?
- Why does Hermione decide to buy a cat rather than an owl, especially one that tries to attack Ron's pet rat?
- Why would Hermione's new cat, Crookshanks, only want to attack Scabbers, and not any other animal? How does Ron feel about that?
- As Harry spends time alone in Diagon Alley, what comparisons and contrasts might he make between the Muggle and Wizarding realms?
- If Harry is so convinced he is seeing death omens, why does he fail to tie that to Sirius Black, who is supposedly hunting him?
- Why do Mr. and Mrs. Weasley disagree about what Harry should be told regarding Sirius Black? Who is right, and just how much should Harry be told about this?
As Voldemort openly returns to power later in the series, we learn that Florean Fortescue has apparently been captured. One has to wonder why the Death Eaters would attack a harmless ice cream merchant, though his knowledge about medieval Wizardry, as evidenced when he helps Harry with his homework, could be a factor. Also, Fortescue may be related to Dexter Fortescue, a former Hogwarts Head Master whose portrait hangs in Dumbledore's office; one supposes that this connection could also have some bearing on Florean's later disappearance. Alternately, Florean's disappearance could be intended to highlight the random violence and disappearances that occur under the tyranny of Voldemort and his minions. This is left unexplained, however.
Harry's relief that Hagrid's gift is a required textbook for the Care of Magical Creatures course, rather than something to aid Hagrid with a potentially ferocious new pet, will be short-lived when he learns that Hagrid is that class' new teacher. Whatever fear Harry may have had about Hagrid having a new "pet" will likely be magnified many times over when he realizes the curriculum will probably include dangerous magical animals.
The conflict between Scabbers and Crookshanks comes to a head with Scabbers' disappearance and apparent death around April. This results in an extended estrangement between Ron and Hermione. This will be particularly upsetting for Hermione, who had just reconciled with both Harry and Ron following an unfortunate falling out she had with the two boys. When Scabbers reappears in June, we discover that Crookshanks' distrusting him is wholly justified, so much so that before accepting a new pet, Ron asks for, and receives, Crookshanks' approval. It should be noted that Crookshanks is something other than an ordinary cat: in an interview, the author has said that he is a cat / kneazle cross-breed, and thus much more intelligent than the average domestic feline.
As mentioned in the Analysis section, the Magical Menagerie's clerk mentions that Ron's rat is superannuated. Scabbers has been Ron's for at least two years at this point, and was in the family long before that. We can guess, from events at the end of this book, that Scabbers will have joined the Weasley family some eleven years before this story, and this is significantly longer than the normal lifespan for rats, as the clerk points out. We are not given time to explore this discrepancy, as Crookshanks' attack on Scabbers is timed to occur as Ron is working out the number of years Scabbers has been alive. In the aftermath of the attack, finding Scabbers and dealing with the fallout from that event is given more weight, and the matter of Scabbers' abnormally long life is forgotten, by Ron as well as by the reader. The student of literature will note that the author uses this form of indirection throughout the series when introducing key facts that she does not want the reader to notice.
Also noted in the Analysis section is Ron's comment that Scabbers is looking poorly. Ron will later attribute Scabbers' decline to Crookshanks' depredations, but Harry will recall that Ron had said in this chapter that Scabbers' looking poorly will have started during the trip to Egypt. We will later find out that Scabbers looking poorly is due to his having heard of Sirius' escape from Azkaban, an escape that was triggered by Sirius spotting Scabbers in the picture of the Weasley family that had appeared in the Daily Prophet. This will be the same picture that Ron had earlier sent in the letter that accompanied his birthday gift to Harry.
Near the story's end, we learn that Sirius never intended to kill Harry. It is actually someone else at Hogwarts that Sirius is seeking revenge against. However, this mistaken assumption that Harry is the target, and the associated beliefs concerning why Sirius was incarcerated, helps drive the story.
The Firebolt broom seen in Diagon Alley becomes a plot point, starting at about Christmas, and it results in Harry and Ron being estranged from Hermione. She is immediately suspicious about who sent Harry the broom as an anonymous gift, and, fearing it may be cursed, reports it to Professor McGonagall, who confiscates it for examination.
An interesting point one might note is that, up to now, the term "Azkaban Guards" is used, but after this chapter, it is never used again, with "Dementors" replacing it. The author may have wanted to keep the creatures' true identity hidden to give the illusion that the Azkaban guards might be humans. From a story-telling point-of-view, however, it does not quite make sense as to why everyone suddenly drops the term "Azkaban Guards" after Harry finally learns what they are.
Chapter 5: The Dementor
Surprisingly, the Weasleys, Hermione, and Harry are all ready on time the next morning. Ministry cars spirit them away to catch the Hogwarts Express at King's Cross Station. At Platform Nine and Three Quarters, Mr. Weasley takes Harry aside to discuss Sirius Black. Harry admits that he overheard Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's conversation about Black. Mr. Weasley asks him to promise that, no matter what he hears, he will not go looking for Black. Harry is puzzled, but the departing Hogwarts Express prevents him from making that promise. Wanting to talk privately to Ron and Hermione, the Trio shoo away Ron's sister Ginny. The only available compartment is occupied by someone named R. J. Lupin, apparently fast asleep. Despite his presence, Harry relates everything he knows about Black, including what Mr. Weasley said. The pocket Sneakoscope Ron gave Harry starts whistling. Ron says it is cheap and likely defective, and Harry bundles it back up in his trunk to deaden the noise.
The train lurches to an unexpected stop. Ginny and Neville Longbottom make their way through darkness to Harry's compartment, and amidst the confusion, Lupin wakes up and provides some illumination. As he is about to go and find out what is happening, the compartment door slides open and a black-robed figure, as tall as the doorway, glides in, briefly displaying a hideous, dead-looking hand. Harry hears a woman screaming and passes out.
When he regains consciousness, the creature is gone and the train is moving again. Lupin says it was a Dementor, an Azkaban prison guard searching for Sirius Black. To counteract the Dementor's effect, he gives each student chocolate, then leaves to speak with the driver. During his absence, Harry asks if anyone else fainted, but they tell him no, nor did they hear screaming. Hermione tells Harry that Lupin repelled the Dementor by casting a silvery object from his wand.
They arrive at Hogwarts in a driving rain. As Hagrid rounds up the first-years for the boat ride across the lake, the Trio find horseless carriages waiting for them. Upon hearing from Neville that Harry fainted, Malfoy maliciously attempts to taunt him, but Lupin arrives on the scene, defusing the incident. As they head to the Great Hall, Professor McGonagall asks to see Harry and Hermione in her office; she reassures Ron that his two friends are not in any trouble. Hearing about Harry's encounter with the Dementor, she has summoned him to be checked over by Madam Pomfrey, who approves Lupin giving the students chocolate. Professor McGonagall suggests keeping Harry in the infirmary overnight. Not wishing to give Malfoy further ammunition to humiliate him with, Harry insists he is fine and asks to attend the Welcoming Feast. Professor McGonagall grants permission, and then asks for a private word with Hermione about her class schedule. Afterwards, they go to the feast together.
Although they have missed the Sorting ceremony, the Feast is just beginning; Professor Dumbledore warns students that the school grounds are being guarded by Dementors and any attempt to slip past them by subterfuge will fail as they do not rely on sight to hunt their prey. He also welcomes two new teachers: Rubeus Hagrid, who will be teaching Care of Magical Creatures and Professor Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry notes that Lupin receives a loathing look from Professor Snape. Harry, Ron, and Hermione congratulate Hagrid on his appointment and then head for Gryffindor Tower.
The Ministry providing cars to transport Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys to King's Cross Station is highly unusual, and indicates there is deep concern for Harry's safety that is probably tied to Sirius Black's escape. Mr. Weasley's warning to Harry to not go looking for Black is revealing, though Harry nonchalantly dismisses its significance, more concerned with finding a way to attend the Hogsmeade weekends with his friends than with avoiding an escaped murderer.
Also, a valuable story clue may appear here, but Harry quickly bundles it up and stows it away. There is some question as to whether the Sneakoscope actually works. Ron's note to Harry claimed it was just a cheap and probably inaccurate device, because it apparently had alarmed twice while he was preparing to send it to Harry, but as we have seen, on both of those occasions it was reacting properly. The reader can see that it is more effective and reliable than anyone realizes, but Harry follows Ron's lead and disregards its warnings.
And while Harry is foolishly brushing off concerns about Sirius Black, he soon becomes fixated on Dementors. Although the eerie creatures have been assigned to protect him and hunt Black, they strongly affect anyone near them, feeding on unhappy emotions and memories, while leaving behind darkness, coldness, and despair. The Dementor that entered Harry's compartment may have deliberately targeted Harry, though its purpose, apart from finding Black, is unknown. This, compounded with what Harry believes is a recurring death omen and Sirius Black's escape, likely foreshadows a difficult and dangerous year ahead at Hogwarts. Professor Lupin, however, unexpectedly demonstrates an ability to repel Dementors with an unknown spell, suggesting that it is possible to protect oneself from them.
A future relationship between Harry and Ginny may be hinted at here. As Percy goes to meet his girlfriend Penelope, Harry and Ginny look at each other and silently laugh. While this hardly indicates that Harry is romantically interested in Ginny, it does show they share a similar sense of humor that may be common enough ground on which a relationship could build.
- Why would the Ministry of Magic provide cars to transport Harry, Hermione, and the Weasley family to the train station?
- Why does Lupin give the students chocolate after their encounter with the Dementor?
- How did Lupin repel the Dementor?
- Why would a Dementor enter Harry's compartment?
- Why is Harry affected more than the others by the Dementor's presence?
- Who might Harry have heard screaming as he fainted? Why did no one else hear it?
- Why does Snape give Professor Lupin such a loathing look during the Welcoming Feast?
- Why does Harry's Sneakoscope sound an alarm when there is apparently no danger? Is it faulty as Ron claims, or could something else be amiss?
- Why would Mr. Weasley tell Harry not to go looking for Sirius Black? Is Harry likely to follow his advice?
Harry's reaction to the Dementors seems far more severe than anybody else's, as nobody else heard screaming, or fainted. Harry fears some inner weakness makes him more susceptible, though Lupin assures him later this is not so; Dementors feed on peoples' memories, leaving only despair in their victims' minds, and Harry, having had so many bad experiences in his life, is more deeply affected. The memory that the Dementors appear to be fixating on in Harry is the moment his mother died; as Harry encounters Dementors throughout this story, this memory will be repeatedly brought forward and strengthened until he is able to recall not only his mother's words but also Voldemort's.
This is Harry and Ron's first encounter with the "horseless" carriages, as they had arrived at Hogwarts the previous year in Mr. Weasley's flying Ford Anglia, which, presumably, is still roaming wild in the Forbidden Forest. Although some students, like Luna Lovegood, who appears later in the series, know what pulls the carriages, for some reason they avoid mentioning it. Most students, at least younger ones, seem to assume the carriages are propelled by their own power. Even Ron, who has extensive magical knowledge that he always generously shares with Harry, is unaware that something else may be at work here. Harry, however, notes to himself that invisible horses must be pulling the carriages. This thought foreshadows his learning much later that they are indeed being pulled by strange horse-like creatures called Thestrals that are only visible to certain people. Only later does Harry gain the ability to see them.
There is no evidence yet that the pocket Sneakoscope is emitting false alarms. Assuming it is working properly, someone in the compartment must be untrustworthy. Apart from the Trio, the only other human there is Lupin. While the Trio, guessing correctly that he is a new teacher, apparently never consider that he could be untrustworthy, little is known yet about Lupin's background. Considering that a former Defence Against the Arts instructor (Professor Quirrell) was Voldemort's servant, it is easy to suspect Lupin, which may be what the author intended here. We should assume, however, that Dumbledore exerted far more caution when selecting Quirrell's successor. However, Crookshanks, Hedwig, and Scabbers are also present in the compartment, and our attention has already been pointed at Scabbers, who has apparently lived much longer than any rat should. Still, when the truth about Scabbers is revealed, it will be surprising.
And though it is not Lupin who set the Sneakoscope off, his shabby appearance indicates he has had difficulty finding work. This may explain why he accepted the Defence Against the Dark Arts post, which is now widely believed to be jinxed so that instructors never last longer than one year. Lupin is revealed later to be a Werewolf, and the next few books mention a significant Werewolf prejudice in the Wizarding world, as well as discrimination against other non-human magical creatures. It is this prejudice, merited or not, that presumably has prevented Lupin from finding employment.
- The Sneakoscope, which first appeared in the first chapter of this book, will appear again near Christmas, and its warning will be ignored again. A different Sneakoscope will appear on Professor Moody's desk in the fourth book, and another, possibly Moody's, will appear in the Room of Requirement in the fifth book. The specific Sneakoscope that we see in this chapter will not be seen after this book until, old and broken, it is cleaned out of Harry's school trunk in the final book. Hermione will give Harry a new Sneakoscope for his birthday that year, and it will be used multiple times during the Trio's travels through England in that book.
- This is the first time that we have seen the horseless carriages. It will be learned in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that these chariots are not, in fact, horseless, but are pulled by Thestrals, animals that are only visible to those who have seen death. Harry will be able to see them following his witnessing Cedric's death.
Chapter 6: Talons and Tea Leaves
The next morning, Malfoy entertains the Slytherin table by imitating Harry's reaction to the Dementors. The Weasley Twins remark that Draco was less brave when the Dementors were near his compartment.
Ron notices that Hermione's class schedule lists Arithmancy, Muggle Studies, and Divination, all at nine o'clock. When Ron teasingly asks if she is going to be in all three classes at the same time, Hermione cryptically replies that it is all worked out with Professor McGonagall.
Harry and Ron have trouble finding the Divination classroom that is atop the North Tower. Sir Cadogan, an inept Knight in a portrait, clatters through several paintings, leading them to a room with a trapdoor in the ceiling. A nameplate reads "Sybill Trelawney, Divination Teacher." The trap door opens, and a silvery ladder descends. Harry and the others clamber up. With great drama and fortuneteller's tricks, Professor Trelawney proclaims that Divination is a difficult subject, one that cannot be learned from books. Hermione seems skeptical. Today's lesson is reading tea leaves, and Trelawney sees a dog shape in Harry's cup that she identifies as the Grim, a death omen. She predicts someone will die, leaving Harry a bit worried; it is the third time a dog shape has appeared to him recently.
Harry and the entire class are so disturbed by Trelawney's prediction that during Transfiguration class, they seem unimpressed when Professor McGonagall transforms herself into a cat to demonstrate how Animagi change shape. Somewhat nettled, Professor McGonagall, who appears to have little respect for Divination or its teacher's abilities, explains that it is an imprecise branch of magical study. Every year Professor Trelawney predicts some student's imminent demise and none have ever died. McGonagall carefully stops short of denigrating Professor Trelawney.
At lunch, Hermione comments that she is quite unimpressed by Divination, proclaiming it a woolly and almost useless subject, particularly compared with her Arithmancy class. Ron is amazed, as she has been with them all morning and wonders how she could also have Arithmancy.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione head to Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class. Hagrid is dismayed that no one has been able to open their textbook — the secret is to stroke it, whereupon it becomes quiescent. In a paddock in the Forbidden Forest are Hippogriffs, magical creatures with a horse's hindquarters, and the wings, talons, and head of a bird. Harry is volunteered to be the first to approach them. He steps up to Buckbeak and, acting as Hagrid instructed, is accepted. Hagrid convinces him to climb onto Buckbeak, whereupon Buckbeak takes him for a quick flight around the Forest and back to the paddock. The students lose their fear and address the Hippogriffs properly; Malfoy, however, insults Buckbeak, and the angry Hippogriff slashes his arm with its talons. Hagrid carries Malfoy to the hospital wing as the class disperses in disarray.
When Hagrid does not appear at dinner, the Trio visit him. Hagrid has been drinking, convinced he will be sacked. Harry, Ron, and Hermione insist that Professor Dumbledore would not do that, and they are witnesses that Malfoy behaved improperly. Hermione tells Hagrid he has had enough to drink. Hagrid soaks his head in the rain barrel and, suddenly realizing Harry is outside the castle after dark, soundly berates them.
Once again, Harry sees a canine image when Professor Trelawney identifies a shape in the tea leaves as a Grim; this is the first time that it is actually named and specifically identified as a death omen. This, along with Ron's description of the Grim that his uncle saw shortly before he died, further supports Harry's growing suspicion that he is seeing a true death symbol. Coupled with the ever-present Dementors, this omen causes Harry to grow anxious and fearful for his own safety.
The fakery employed by Professor Trelawney in her Divination course probably appalls many readers. Cultivating the mystical, misty atmosphere in her classroom, and carefully constructing her "predictions" to be vague, clearly reflects the fortune-telling tactics employed by Muggle "mediums". It is particularly curious that Trelawney's classroom seems less designed to teach Divination techniques, than it is a venue to showcase her fortune-telling methods. It is hardly surprising then that she would interpret soggy, clumped tea leaves in a cup as a Grim sign, conveniently planting the idea into her students' susceptible minds that this image fits her annual prediction that somebody at Hogwarts will die. Trelawney seems to be held in less than great esteem by other Hogwarts teachers. Although she carefully avoids speaking ill about another teacher, Professor McGonagall clearly appears to believe that Trelawney's brand of Divination is useless. We can see that Professor Dumbledore, despite his eccentricities, is very level-headed and knows what is transpiring in the school; he almost certainly shares McGonagall's opinion regarding the validity of Trelawney's teachings. Given this, one should wonder exactly why she is kept on.
The reader should pay attention to Trelawney's prediction offered to Lavender Brown: "That thing you are dreading. It is going to happen on Friday the sixteenth of October." The author's efficiency, and the precision of this statement, would lead us to believe that there will actually be something that occurs on that date. We note in passing that the action of this book is apparently meant to be taking place in 1993 and 1994; in one of the writer's endemic minor calendar confusions, October 16, 1993 is a Saturday.
Also, Hermione has the same classes as Harry and Ron, but her timetable indicates she is taking many more subjects than they are, including ones taught at the same time. She remains evasive whenever Harry and Ron query her about her heavy class load, cryptically responding that it has all been arranged with Professor McGonagall. There is as yet no explanation as to how Hermione is managing this, though there is probably some magical means behind it.
Hagrid, who was recently exonerated fifty years after being falsely accused of releasing the monster from the Chamber of Secrets, soon finds his new-found confidence and self-esteem severely shaken by the incident involving Draco Malfoy and Buckbeak. We, and the Trio, clearly see that Draco deliberately provoked the attack, insulting Buckbeak when Hagrid had expressly warned against it. Hagrid, however, who either failed to hear Draco's insult or simply lacks confidence, feels he alone is responsible for what happened.
Malfoy's character is further highlighted when he uses the Dementor incident to mock Harry, even as the Twins inform Harry that Draco is also terrified by them. Draco's mocking and bullying, occurring as it does only when Draco is protected either by distance or Crabbe and Goyle, his tame thugs, is to be expected from the cowardly bully personality that the author has crafted for him.
Readers should also pay close attention to Professor McGonagall's class lecture and demonstration.
- Why is this chapter called "Talons and Tea Leaves"? What does that represent?
- What is seen in Harry's tea leaves and what does it signify? Has Harry seen it before?
- What does Trelawney predict and how do the students react to it?
- What does McGonagall have to say about Trelawney's prediction?
- What is Hermione's opinion about Divination? Explain.
- Why does Buckbeak attack Draco Malfoy?
- How does Hagrid react after the Malfoy/Buckbeak incident? Is his behavior justified or not?
- Why might Hermione be so evasive about her class schedule? How can she be taking classes that are scheduled at the same time?
- What effect might Hermione's heavy class load eventually have on her? How can she cope?
- What might Dumbledore think about Trelawney's abilities? Why would he have hired Trelawney as the Divination teacher?
The partial reason for Trelawney's tenure is learned later in the story. During Harry's Divination exam, Trelawney lapses into a trance and makes a bona fide prophecy. Professor Dumbledore remarks to Harry later that this is her second genuine prophecy, and suggests that she might merit a raise because of it. Her first, we learn some time later, concerned Harry and Voldemort. Dumbledore witnessed it as he was interviewing Trelawney for the Divination position, just as he was about to refuse her the job. Instead, he hired her, despite being soundly unimpressed by her Divination skills, on the basis of that prophecy. He later refuses to allow her to leave the school, apparently fearing for her welfare should Voldemort, who badly wants to know the prophecy, discover she was its source.
We later learn that Divination is an examined subject, as an OWL exam is offered in that course. Though, given what Trelawney is teaching, one must wonder exactly what is being examined. Professor Dumbledore, in describing Trelawney's interview, says that he was strongly considering not offering Divination as a course at Hogwarts following his discussions with Trelawney; this would indicate that Dumbledore shares Professor McGonagall's feelings about the subject, at least as Trelawney teaches it.
Also, Trelawney's annual prediction that a student at Hogwarts will die does come true in the next book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, though even in that instance it is in no way a true prophecy. It is actually only a timely coincidence, and the author may be using it here to foreshadow an upcoming tragedy.
Over the course of this year, we will see a very clear polarization in the students, between those like Harry, Hermione, and Ron who see Divination as nonsense, and those like Lavender and Parvati who believe in it unreservedly. Lavender and Parvati are not stupid; however, they do seem to be gullible, and for whatever reason, they remain unable to see through Trelawney's indirections and deceits. We believe that the author may be using Divination as a way to highlight that the ability to do magic does not automatically include the ability to see through trickery like Trelawney's, or by extension, like Voldemort's.
Professor McGonagall's class educates us about the Animagus transformation. According to Hermione, there are only seven registered Animagi, indicating it must be an extremely difficult feat to learn. Though it is unknown if there are unregistered Animagi, most readers, unlike Hermione, understand that it is possible to be outside the law in small ways. Even after learning that Animagi are legally required to be registered, we should consider if there might be others than just the known registered ones. There are indeed several unregistered Animagi, three that will appear in this story, including Sirius Black, and one other who first appears in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. How many others there might be, remains unknown.
As noted, Hermione is somehow taking more classes than humanly possible. Unknown to the other students, she has secretly arranged with Professor McGonagall to use a Time-Turner, a device that allows her to return in time to attend classes taught at the same hour. However, Hermione soon realizes she may have taken on a heavier burden than even she can possibly manage and is beginning to realize her own limitations. Throughout the book, Hermione will steadily become more stressed by her heavy schedule, at one point actually punching Malfoy in anger. Disgusted by Trelawney's Divination class, she drops it mid-year, and later drops Muggle Studies, leaving her with a humanly-possible workload. At school's end, she returns the Time-Turner to McGonagall, who sends it, we are led to believe, back to the Ministry. An errant jinx strikes a cabinet which Harry recognizes as containing Time-Turners during the battle at the Ministry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In conversation later, we learn that all known Time-Turners were destroyed, presumably by that one errant jinx.
There are a number of places in this book where the question of how Hermione is able to attend so many classes is raised, and dismissed. This is such a pervasive question that, in retrospect, one wonders how Hermione is able to keep the secret of the Time-Turner from us for sixteen chapters (it is given to her in the previous chapter, and revealed in chapter 21). It may reward the reader to note the fortuitous timing of distractions of one sort and another that occur around the times when the question should have been raised. The author does an extremely good job of arranging events to prevent the reader questioning things like the way Hermione keeps appearing and disappearing in one place and another, by putting another, apparently more important event adjacent to the occurrence. This is a vital part of this author's exemplary skill in the set-up and pay-off; in this case, we don't recognize the set-up, because of the distractions, until the pay-off, when, with the reveal of the Time-Turner, we suddenly realize what was going on. This pattern will recur multiple times though the series.
Despite his size and strength, as well as his bravery in facing various monsters, Hagrid is curiously insecure. It will take a long time for him to recover from the incident with Draco and Buckbeak, and he struggles throughout the book to prove Buckbeak's innocence. Meanwhile, Malfoy, who deliberately provoked Buckbeak, shows no remorse for the damage he inflicts on those he considers inferior, or over allowing an innocent creature to be condemned.
- This is our first exposure to Divination and the low esteem in which it is held, probably justifiably. Professor Umbridge's apparent vendetta against Divination and Trelawney, and Trelawney's mid-year replacement by Firenze, will be a plot point in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- This is also our first introduction to the operation of the Time-Turner, though it is not yet identified to us. The Time-turner will remain behind the scenes until it is exposed by Hermione, at Professor Dumbledore's request, in chapter 21 of this book. It will not be used again, though the author does, we believe out of necessity, destroy the entire world's stock of Time-turners in a later book.
Chapter 7: The Boggart in the Wardrobe
Draco Malfoy reappears on Thursday, midway through Professor Snape's Double Potions class, claiming his injury is still painful. He sits himself at Harry and Ron's bench, and Snape orders them to prepare Malfoy's ingredients for him. Malfoy taunts them with threats of Hagrid's imminent dismissal thanks to his father, Lucius, who apparently still has influence with the Ministry. Malfoy also contends that if he was Harry, he would want revenge on Sirius Black. Harry later asks Ron why he would want revenge against Black; Ron cannot answer. Meanwhile, Hermione helps Neville make his potion correctly; Snape penalizes Gryffindor five House points, believing Neville incapable of correcting his potion unaided, and guessing that Hermione had, against his orders, assisted Neville.
As the Trio leave the dungeon, Hermione suddenly seems to disappear. Looking around, Ron sees her catching up while tucking something down her robe. Her bag splits, and Ron asks why she is carrying so many books, as there is nothing that afternoon except Defence Against the Dark Arts. She does not answer.
In Defence Against the Dark Arts, Professor Lupin tells the class to put their books away and bring out their wands, they will have a practical lesson. He leads them to the staff room, where they find Snape. When Snape, as he departs, snidely comments about Neville's undisciplined magic, Lupin replies that he hoped Neville would lead off the demonstration. Lupin explains that there is a Boggart in the wardrobe. No one knows what a Boggart looks like because it styles itself after a person's deepest fear. To repel it, it must be forced to change into a humorous shape by casting the Riddikulus charm. Neville's greatest fear is Snape. Lupin tells Neville to imagine the scary professor wearing his grandmother's clothing. Each student similarly comes up with their own fear and then pictures it as a funny image. Harry first thinks of Voldemort, but on further thought decides that his greatest fear is a Dementor; he wonders how can he make that funny. The wardrobe is opened and "Snape" emerges. Neville casts the spell that dresses Snape as his grandmother. Following Neville's success, each student takes a shot at the Boggart. As Harry goes to take his turn, Lupin steps in before the Boggart takes shape. It rapidly turns into a floating white orb, and Lupin forces it back to Neville, who spells it one last time, whereupon it vanishes. Class is dismissed. Harry wonders why he was prevented from repelling the Boggart, while Parvati is curious as to why Lupin fears crystal balls. Ron wants to know what Hermione's worst fear is, but she also did not have a chance at the Boggart.
Professor Lupin's character is becoming more defined here. One key item is his understanding, demonstrated here by his actions, that students, like anyone, require respect in order to perform at their best. Despite Snape's aspersions against Neville Longbottom, Lupin has him lead off against the Boggart, and coaches him to where he has the confidence to perform the spell twice. This proves to be an important milestone in Neville's development. To date, Neville has always felt that he was in the wrong place, even remarking that "everyone knows [he's] almost a squib," in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He fears he has no real magical abilities. Indeed, it does appear that he has little, if any, skill in Potions, and he is apparently just as lost in Divination as Harry and Ron. Lupin, by having him lead off the class against the Boggart and later having him finish the lesson, boosts his confidence. Harry's confidence, meanwhile, is deflated when Lupin denies him an opportunity at the Boggart, leaving him a bit confused.
Additionally, the astute reader may note that Lupin uses the students' Christian names rather than their surnames, as is the British custom. While this could be seen as excessive familiarity, particularly in schools run on the English public-school model, in this context, it seems to change Lupin from a professor into a teacher, bringing him closer to the students without undue familiarity – he doesn't expect the students to address him by his first name, remaining Professor Lupin to the end of the book.
The Boggart represents how everyone's fears are different. Curiously, it is not Voldemort that Harry fears most, but Dementors. It may be that Harry is more affected by them because he (and just about everyone else) has difficulty comprehending what the eerie creatures actually are, leaving him unsure how to react to them. Voldemort, though an evil and powerful enemy, is a human being, albeit a disembodied one, and Harry can better understand his more predictable human traits. Dementors, in contrast, are dark, hideous, unpredictable creatures not entirely understood by Wizards, and apparently difficult to keep under control; it is curious then, just why they are entrusted with guarding Azkaban prison. The creatures also seem to show a particular interest in Harry, whose encounter with them has left a deep emotional wound.
Note that Peeves is especially disrespectful towards Lupin. Peeves may know something about Lupin's earlier school years, and the song he sings ("Loony, loopy Lupin") may refer to what we later hear called Lupin's "furry little problem." Lupin's Boggart, a silvery orb, may provide a clue as to just what this problem is. However, Lupin demonstrates that he is able to hold his own against Peeves and, in the process, reinforces his students' admiration.
We are also offered a few more insights into Snape's character, but little new is learned; he is wholly biased in favor of his own House, Slytherin, and seems to purposely belittle Gryffindors, especially Neville. This bias apparently extends to anyone or anything associated with Harry, but Snape's animosity may go even further than that.
- What is a Boggart, and what form do they assume?
- Why does Lupin ask Neville Longbottom to be the first to confront the Boggart in class?
- Why does Harry fear Dementors more than Voldemort?
- Why does Lupin step in when it is Harry's turn to face the Boggart?
- What could the shape of Lupin's Boggart mean?
- Why does Lupin call students by their first names rather than their last, as is the custom in the British school system? What effect might this have on his relationship with the students?
- What might Draco mean when he says Harry should want revenge against Sirius Black?
- What could account for Hermione seeming to suddenly vanish and reappear as the Trio is leaving class?
- What shape might Hermione's Boggart assume?
Draco's taunt relates to the widely held belief that Sirius Black betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort; we will hear this theory in detail just before Christmas. While this belief is later disproved, it has a certain consistency about it, and Harry will be driven by it.
Hermione's constant disappearing and reappearing is due to a Time-Turner, a device that allows her to attend more classes than physically possible. Her bag splitting open is conveniently timed to distract us from questioning where she was or noticing how she suddenly vanished and reappeared. Throughout the book, Hermione similarly appears in places where she was not mere moments before, and always there is some distraction that prevents any pondering about her abrupt appearances. The author's use of this technique is quite skilful and warrants examination by writers interested in revealing facts to their readers while downplaying their significance.
The confidence that Lupin instills in Neville sustains him through his next two years at Hogwarts, and Harry later builds upon it in Dumbledore's Army. It also allows Neville to join Harry in the Battle at the Department of Mysteries in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Without this initial success, Neville likely would have remained ineffectual, depressed, and useless, never discovering his strengths in Herbology, Charms, and Defence Against the Dark Arts.
Harry is confused and upset because Lupin refused him a chance at the Boggart. Lupin assures him in the next chapter that he intervened only because he worried the class was unprepared to face Lord Voldemort's simulacrum. When Harry admits he initially thought of Voldemort, but quickly realized he feared Dementors more, Lupin is impressed by Harry fearing fear rather than an actual being. When fear is intangible and incomprehensible, it often becomes more terrifying.
Although Hermione also never had a chance at the Boggart in Lupin's class, it will be learned later that her greatest fear is Professor McGonagall telling her that she failed all her classes.
The "silvery orb" Lupin fears is not a crystal ball, but the full moon, which is connected to his being a Werewolf. Parvati's mistake in believing it to be a crystal ball is wholly in character, and a nice bit of misdirection by the author; Parvati has already shown a significant aptitude for Divination, so likely is already predisposed to seeing things related to that subject.
- Use of the Boggart as a way of revealing a character's deepest fears will be reused in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It will be used there to show Mrs. Weasley's deepest fears, that one of her family or Harry could end up dead, presumably as a result of membership in the Order. Harry's fear of Dementors, and the fact that a Boggart takes the shape of a Dementor when exposed to Harry, will form the core of Harry's training in anti-Dementor spells in this book. Additionally, a Boggart, taking the shape of a Dementor, will be one of the challenges Harry must face in the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Chapter 8: Flight of the Fat Lady
Defence Against the Dark Arts is now the most interesting and popular class. Although Slytherins complain about Professor Lupin's patched robes, everyone else enjoys the lessons and actually finds them practical. Unfortunately, this is their only fun class. Potions is dreadful, particularly since Professor Snape heard about Neville turning the Boggart into a simulacrum of him dressed in an old woman's clothing. Snape now bullies Neville mercilessly in class. Divination is almost as bad, with Professor Trelawney frequently predicting Harry's death and looking at him tearfully. Care of Magical Creatures is also just as bad now that Hagrid has lost confidence and only teaches about Flobberworms.
On a brighter note, Quidditch is starting up, and Oliver Wood has had the team practicing since early October. Wood, now a seventh-year, sees this as his last chance to win the Quidditch cup for Gryffindor. He feels that it should have been theirs for the past two years, but Harry was out of commission at the critical match in his first year, and his second year, the Quidditch Cup had been canceled.
A notice is posted for the first Hogsmeade weekend. Ron suggests that Harry, who lacks his guardian's permission, should ask Professor McGonagall. As they are discussing this, Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, attacks Scabbers, Ron's pet rat. Ron is still upset the next day, and barely speaks to Hermione.
The Trio, on their way to Transfiguration the next day, find Lavender crying over news she has received: her pet rabbit Binky has been killed by a fox. She and Parvati connect this with a prediction made by Professor Trelawney on the first day of Divination class, and seem to feel Hermione is being unfeeling when she unsuccessfully tries to reconcile the exact wording of Trelawney's prediction with what has actually happened.
At Ron's urging, Harry asks Professor McGonagall for permission to visit Hogsmeade with the other students, but she refuses to bend the rules that far. Harry must resign himself to staying behind. Percy only makes things worse with his over-pompous attempts to console Harry.
Wandering aimlessly around the castle on Saturday, Harry runs into Professor Lupin. He invites Harry into his office for tea and to see the Grindylow that he has just received for their next class. When Harry asks why he was prevented from facing the Boggart, Lupin explains he was concerned it would turn into Lord Voldemort and terrify the class. Harry, mildly surprised that Lupin uses Voldemort's name, is somewhat mollified by this explanation. He says his first thought was Voldemort, but then realized he was more frightened by Dementors. Lupin is impressed that Harry is more afraid of fear than an actual person. They are interrupted by Professor Snape who delivers a steaming goblet to Lupin. After Snape leaves, Harry, worried about the possible contents of the goblet, warns Lupin that many believe Snape would do anything to get the Defence Against the Dark Arts position, but Lupin drinks the potion nevertheless.
Ron and Hermione return with many stories about Hogsmeade. They are also amazed that Lupin would dare to drink anything prepared by Snape. Lupin attends the Hallowe'en Feast that evening, but Harry notices he looks unhappy. He observes Snape watching Lupin rather more intently than usual. Students head back to Gryffindor Tower, but there is a jam at the entrance; the Fat Lady is missing, her portrait slashed. Professor Dumbledore is summoned, and he questions Peeves, who says Sirius Black shredded the painting.
As the battle between Crookshanks and Scabbers escalates, Ron and Hermione's relationship becomes more strained. The readers can see, but Hermione evidently does not, that Crookshanks is deliberately targeting Scabbers, though why is unknown. Hermione seems adamant that cats attacking small animals is normal behavior, but we can see that Crookshanks has shown no interest in other pets such as Trevor, Neville's toad. Why has he become fixated only on Scabbers?
Considering Draco's comments in the previous chapter that Harry should want revenge against Sirius Black, a correlation can be made as to why authority figures such as Fudge (in Chapter 3) and McGonagall (here) deny Harry permission to visit Hogsmeade, and why Mr. Weasley attempted to procure Harry's promise not to search for Black. Although the pattern seen here would strongly suggest that Black has done something that would inspire a confrontation, Harry seems unable to tie these connections together.
From the discussion with Professor Lupin, we see Lupin's concern for Harry's emotional well being and also for the entire class. Lupin perhaps is more concerned about the students than any other teacher, with the possible exception of Professor Dumbledore. The Slytherins, meanwhile, are behaving as normal, making aspersions about Lupin's patched robes, obviously more impressed by a person's superficial outer appearance than with their inner character and abilities.
Harry is certainly wondering why Snape would deliver a potion to Lupin, though it is unknown what the cup contains. However, it must be something other than a mere drink for Snape to personally deliver it to Lupin; and Lupin's comment that sugar would ruin its effects indicates also that it has a magical component. While Harry may suspect it contains poison, that seems unlikely, even considering Snape's animosity toward Lupin; Snape's willingness to be seen presenting the goblet to Lupin strongly implies, if not innocence, at least inability to blame Snape for anything that happens to Lupin. What Harry has evidently forgotten is that Snape is as bound by the laws of the world as anyone else, and if he acts with malicious intent, he will suffer the consequences. Lupin knows that Snape cannot openly poison him, so feels safe in ignoring Harry's warning, but there must be some reason as to why Snape has brewed this for Lupin.
Sirius Black has breached the castle's supposedly impenetrable security as well as bypassing the vicious Dementors, making Hogwarts seem far less secure than we have been led to believe. The reader may suspect that Black could have broken into Hogwarts in the same manner in which he escaped from Azkaban, though we have no idea how he accomplished that.
Also, possible reasons can be seen for Hermione's disdain for Divination. It is mentioned in the Chapter 6, Talons and Tea Leaves, analysis that Professor Trelawney uses fortune-teller's tricks. One was a deliberately-vague "prediction" given to Lavender Brown, "That thing you are dreading. It is going to happen on Friday the sixteenth of October." On October 16th, Lavender receives word that a fox killed her pet bunny, Binky. Hermione questions how this actually fits with the prediction by recalling exactly what it said. Was the bunny's death even a surprise or was Lavender expecting it? Did it happen on the 16th, or is it only on the 16th that she had heard about it? Hermione apparently surmises that Lavender has rationalized her experience to match the prediction. Lavender and Parvati Patil, however, now seem to almost worship Professor Trelawney. Throughout the remainder of the book, these two spend much spare time hanging out in the Divination classroom.
- Why does McGonagall refuse to give Harry permission to visit Hogsmeade?
- What is Lupin's explanation to Harry about why he prevented Harry from facing the Boggart? Is he telling the truth?
- Why does Harry warn Lupin against drinking Snape's potion? What is Lupin's response? What do Ron and Hermione think, and are they correct?
- Why would Crookshanks only attack Scabbers and not other pets?
- Hogwarts' security is supposed to be impenetrable. How could Sirius Black have bypassed the safeguards?
- The Dementors work for the Ministry of Magic and are stationed at Hogwarts to protect Harry while searching for Sirius Black. Why would Harry fear them more than Voldemort or even Sirius Black? Based on what has been seen, is Harry's fear justified?
- Why would Snape give Lupin a potion, and what might it be?
- Why does Lupin seem unhappy during the feast, and why is Snape watching him so intently?
No one knows how Black broke into Hogwarts, though it is clear that he has somehow entered the castle grounds. We learn later that there are two secret passages into the school, one starting at the Shrieking Shack and ending at the Whomping Willow, and another that goes into the school's interior from the cellar in Honeyduke's Sweetshop in Hogsmeade village. Possibly Black broke into the Shrieking Shack and used the tunnel from there, or sneaked into Honeyduke's cellar. He might also have simply have walked in; the protective spells around Hogwarts must be specific to humans, as owls, for instance, can pass freely in and out of the school grounds. However, we cannot know whether these spells can detect Black in his Animagus-transformed canine shape. Black explains later that the Dementors perceived him as a dog when he was transformed, though Harry's Marauder's Map, which he will receive just before Christmas, will detect another Animagus' human identity while he is transformed. That Animagus is later revealed to be Peter Pettigrew, who is believed to have been murdered by Sirius.
Crookshanks definitely does know the difference. He never attacks Neville's toad, Trevor, or Pigwidgeon, the tiny owl Black later gives Ron, but instead targets only Scabbers, even though all are creatures that Crookshanks would normally hunt. His attacks seem motivated by what Scabbers actually is: an Animagus. Black, also an Animagus, explains later that it took a long time for him to earn Crookshanks' trust and procure his help.
It will be some months yet before Harry learns that Black is widely believed to have betrayed James and Lily Potter to Voldemort, and some months after that before he learns the truth. Until he hears the generally-accepted story, he, and we, are unable to determine why the authority figures are reluctant to allow him to visit Hogsmeade. Black apparently wants to murder Harry, though Harry sees this threat as little more than what he previously faced three times from Voldemort. With the Dementors prowling Hogsmeade and protecting the school, the authorities likely feel Harry was safe from Black, but are uncertain whether Harry knows the commonly-believed story that Black betrayed Harry's parents. Likely they assume that if Harry did know, he would attempt to find Black, thus removing him from the Dementors' protection.
It may be significant that the authorities, with the possible exception of Dumbledore, have failed to consider that if Black did slip past the Azkaban Dementors unnoticed, he could probably do so again to reach Harry inside Hogwarts. Also, no one, excepting Lupin, has noticed the Dementors' strange attraction to Harry, perhaps making them more dangerous to him than Black appears to be.
Readers, like Harry, may suspect that Snape has brewed Lupin a tainted drink. It is, however, another clue regarding Lupin's, as yet, unknown condition. Snape has given him a Wolfsbane potion that allows Lupin, who is a Werewolf, to retain his sanity during his monthly transformations. Without the potion, he becomes a savage, uncontrollable killer. Lupin will later mention that he had no fear of being poisoned, as it would have been much easier for Snape to simply make the potion incorrectly; one incorrectly mixed dose, and Lupin would probably injure a student and be dismissed or imprisoned. And Wolfsbane Potion is extremely complicated to make, so Snape would be able to claim, successfully, that it was a simple mistake on his part.
It is a little curious that Snape is so intently watching Lupin at the Hallowe'en feast. Of course, Snape is concerned that he has created the Wolfsbane potion correctly, but as it is now the end of October, there must have been one or two full moons during the school year preceding the events in the chapter, so there must have been at least one previous use of the potion. We must assume that Snape's concern also occurred on those occasions, but that the Trio did not note it because they were as yet unaware of the use of the potion.
Just as a side note, we should mention that it was very risky for Lupin to be on the Hogwarts Express. If a full moon occurred near 31 October, the previous one would have fallen near 2 October, and the one before that on 3 or 4 September. As the Hogwarts Express travels on 1 September, Lupin's journey would have fallen squarely into the one-week period preceding the full moon during which he must take the potion every day. It would have been extremely easy for Lupin to have missed a dose because he was in transit.
It is mentioned that Lavender and Parvati spend much time with Professor Trelawney. Their near-obsession with Divination extends beyond this one book; they apparently pass their Divination OWL exams, because in their first year of NEWT-level studies, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, both go off to Divination.
Though it is relatively minor plot point, it is worth noting here that Professor Lupin shows Harry the new Grindylow when he invites him to his office for tea. Several years later (in book 7), after Death Eaters attack Order of the Phoenix members who are transporting Harry to a safe house, Lupin, to confirm Harry's identity, asks him what creature was in his office the first time Harry visited.
- We see Lupin's office, and Harry notes the difference between Lupin's chosen decor and Professor Lockhart's. Harry will note similar differences in style when visiting this same office when it is occupied by Professor Moody and Professor Umbridge.
- The Grindylow that we see in Lupin's office will be mentioned again in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Lupin needs to confirm Harry's identity. We will also see Grindylows in the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry will not, however, use the knowledge of the Grindylow's fragile fingers that Lupin here passes to him, to escape their clutches.
- Snape's brewing this potion for Lupin will later be seen to be an indication of Snape's true loyalty. Snape clearly dislikes Lupin, but still prepares this potion which, we will find, allows him to avoid the ill effects of his lycanthropy. Lupin will later comment that it would have been extremely easy for Snape to make a mistake in the brewing, which would have resulted in Lupin causing a death or injury, possibly, and in any event being dismissed. In retrospect, we can see that Snape's care in brewing and administering this potion indicates his loyalty to Dumbledore.
Chapter 9: Grim Defeat
Following Sirius Black's break-in, Professor Dumbledore orders all students to spend the night in the Great Hall. Prefects stand guard while the teachers search the castle. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are still awake when Professor Dumbledore receives the all clear from Professor Snape. Snape reminds Dumbledore that he had expressed concerns over an appointment Dumbledore made. Dumbledore interrupts, saying he is certain that nobody in the castle would have helped Black.
Sir Cadogan becomes the new Gryffindor guard, the only portrait brave enough to take the job. There is wild speculation throughout the school as to how Black broke in. It becomes apparent that the school knows Black's objective: Harry notices that a teacher is always walking alongside him, and the pompous Percy Weasley trails behind, reinforcing Harry's belief that he is Black's target. Professor McGonagall summons Harry to her office to tell him about Black, but is taken aback when he admits he already knows. When McGonagall suggests that Quidditch practice might be an unnecessary risk, Harry protests; it is only a week until the match with Slytherin. Professor McGonagall relents and suggests that Madam Hooch can watch him during practice.
In the final practice session before the Slytherin match, the team Captain, Oliver Wood, announces a schedule change: they are playing Hufflepuff rather than Slytherin. This means that their practice to counter Slytherin's moves is wasted. Hufflepuff has a completely different playing style, due in part to their new Captain and Seeker, Cedric Diggory.
Oliver keeps cornering Harry between classes with strategy pointers, making Harry ten minutes late for Defence Against the Dark Arts. Unfortunately, Snape is substituting for an absent Professor Lupin. After doling out House point penalties, Snape lectures about Werewolves, even though this topic is scheduled for later in the term. He assigns a homework essay on recognition and means of defeating Werewolves.
The Quidditch match is played in a fierce storm, and Harry is unable to see. During a time-out, Hermione charms Harry's glasses to repel water. Harry is now able to play properly, but his lighter body weight causes the wind to push him around more than Cedric. Momentarily distracted by a large black dog, possibly a Grim, in the stands, Harry nearly misses seeing the Snitch that Cedric has already started after. As he chases it, Dementors appear, and hearing screaming inside his head, Harry loses consciousness and falls off his broom, plummeting to the ground.
Harry awakens in the Hospital Wing to find his teammates, still in their muddy uniforms, surrounding his bed. Gryffindor lost, but Harry learns that Diggory has demanded a rematch. Wood, however, admitted Gryffindor had been beaten, and Cedric's request had been denied. Harry is depressed over his first Quidditch match loss. Madam Pomfrey ousts everyone except Ron and Hermione, who say it was Professor Dumbledore who stopped Harry's fall and banished the Dementors from the pitch. Unfortunately, Harry's Nimbus 2000 was blown into the Whomping Willow and destroyed.
Although Snape clearly despises Lupin, just why is unknown. When he substitutes for Lupin in Defence Against the Dark Arts class, he inexplicably has the class study Werewolves before Lupin's schedule calls for it; he may have some specific reason for this, but if so we do not know what it could be. Snape is also being required by Professor Dumbledore (presumably) to do things he is clearly unhappy about. One, as seen in the previous chapter, is having to prepare a potion for Lupin. Although Harry suspects Snape may have poisoned it in an attempt to get rid of Lupin, Lupin apparently trusts Snape enough to drink it, with no evident ill effects.
After Black breaks into the castle, Snape's comments to Dumbledore about a misguided appointment also seem pointed at Lupin, though his name is never mentioned. Doubtless Snape previously expressed his opinion that Dumbledore erred in appointing Lupin as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Snape seems to imply that Lupin assisted Black to get into Hogwarts, an implication Dumbledore clearly disputes. It is unclear why Snape believes Lupin is aiding Black, but it indicates that Snape may know about some prior connection between the two.
The Dementors entering the castle grounds against strict orders to remain outside is disturbing, even more so when they blatantly approach Harry during the Quidditch match. These strange creatures are unpredictable, and this is the second time they have singled out Harry, who they are supposedly guarding. Harry, meanwhile, is at a low point; he not only suffers his first Quidditch loss, but also loses his prized Nimbus 2000. Further complicating matters is his unusually sensitive reaction to the Dementors, and he struggles to understand why they affect him more than others, and why he hears someone screaming whenever they approach.
The Hufflepuff Quidditch win over Gryffindor is significant in the school's history, as they have traditionally always been the weakest team. Hufflepuff House rarely attains much glory in anything, and many probably consider it the repository for those students who failed to be sorted into the more specialized Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin Houses. There have been notable Hufflepuff students, of course, and Cedric Diggory appears to be one, making it seem plausible that the Sorting Hat may have placed him in the wrong House. However, Cedric's character also demonstrates fairness, loyalty, and a strong work ethic, which are Hufflepuff traits. Cedric's superb athletic skills and leadership abilities have helped Hufflepuff gain some long-awaited recognition. It is likely that Cedric, whose characteristics highlighted here by his team's win over Gryffindor and Cedric's evident belief that this victory was undeserved, will reappear in the series; the author always is efficient in how she uses her characters, and we can already surmise that any character given this much definition will likely play a more significant role later on.
- What happens when Harry is approached by Dementors during the Quidditch match?
- Other than the Dementors, what unusual thing does Harry see during the game?
- What does Snape mean when he says he expressed concerns over an appointment Dumbledore made? What is Dumbledore's response?
- Why would Snape, who is substituting for an absent Lupin, suddenly assign homework on werewolves, a subject that was scheduled to be covered much later in the term?
- Why would the Dementors continually single out and approach Harry in such a menacing manner?
Snape is, apparently, questioning Dumbledore about Lupin's appointment as the Dark Arts Professor. This ironically mirrors the same suspicions others will express about Snape in the future. Despite the obvious things that Snape does at Dumbledore’s behest, such as making the Wolfsbane Potion for Lupin in this book, and giving Harry Occlumency lessons in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Snape’s Death Eater history cannot be easily forgotten, or forgiven. Snape, however, has either fully accepted the Ministry story about Black, or is using it to suit his own ends, and here expresses (and later will act upon) the belief that Lupin, who was fast friends with Black, the late James Potter, and the supposedly late Peter Pettigrew, is helping his old friend enter the castle undetected. However, Dumbledore trusts both Snape and Lupin and will never publicly entertain doubts regarding either man's loyalty.
Snape has known that Lupin is a Werewolf since their school days together at Hogwarts. As students, Pettigrew and Black tricked Snape into going to the tunnel leading to the Shrieking Shack, where Lupin was confined during his transformations. If not for James Potter's intervention, Snape would likely have been killed. Even though James was not involved in the prank, Snape still blamed him, probably because Lupin, Black and Pettigrew were James' friends. At that time, Dumbledore made Snape swear never to reveal Lupin's condition to the other students. Now, Snape probably agreed to continue concealing Lupin's condition when Lupin was hired. His Werewolf lecture while substituting for Lupin is an attempt to circumvent that restriction. Snape hopes a student will recognize those characteristics in Lupin and reveal them to classmates, and they, in turn, would tell their parents, who likely would pressure Dumbledore to dismiss Lupin. At the end of this book, something similar will happen; Snape will deliberately let Lupin's nature slip to Slytherin house, and as a result Lupin will leave the school. For now, Lupin is lucky that only Hermione discovers his secret, a fact she reveals only to Harry and Ron when Pettigrew is unmasked in the Shrieking Shack scene later in the book.
The large black dog that Harry sees is Sirius Black in his Animagus form, coming to watch his godson playing Quidditch. During the game, Harry is nearly injured when the Dementors appear on the pitch. Juxtaposing the dog with Harry's nearly falling to his death will reinforce Harry's mistaken belief that he is seeing a Grim, rather than a canine. Harry continues to fret about this until he sees the dog interacting with Crookshanks later in this book. Once he has proof that the dog is physical rather than spectral, his fear passes. Black later apologizes for having frightened Harry.
One unaddressed fact is that Lupin knows that Black is an unregistered Animagus. Lupin may have guessed that Black is evading the Dementors in his dog form. It is never explained why Lupin withholds this rather important possibility from Dumbledore, particularly after Black gained entrance into the castle. Though Lupin supposedly believes that Black betrayed the Potters, he may actually be harboring some lingering doubts as to Black's actual guilt, preventing him from revealing Black's ability to change shape. It is certainly true that Lupin is quick to accept Black's disavowal of responsibility in the Shrieking Shack. It is easier to guess why Snape, if he knew, might avoid informing Dumbledore. Snape, as we start to see in this chapter, retains a powerful grudge against Lupin for events dating back to their school days together, and may have convinced himself that Lupin is somehow helping Sirius enter the castle. Knowing that Black can transform into a dog and evade the guards would weaken this theory substantially. By removing the requirement for inside help in entering the school, so we can suppose that if Snape ever knew of the ability, he is subconsciously suppressing the memory. Given his later disbelief as to Scabbers' true identity, however, Snape seems simply unaware that Black is an Animagus. Also, in the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it is revealed that Snape has always been loyal to Dumbledore and dedicated to protecting Harry. It would seem likely that immediately after Black's escape, and knowing his supposed intent to kill Harry, that Snape, if he knew, would have mentioned Black's ability to Dumbledore and/or the Ministry, particularly during discussions regarding Harry's protection at Hogwarts from Black. Of course, given that an Animagus must be registered with the Ministry of Magic or face serious legal consequences, it is safe to suppose that Black, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter would have kept this ability strictly secret, and Lupin would presumably keep their secret, out of loyalty to the other three Marauders, and possibly also to avoid being considered an accessory to their crime.
Chapter 10: The Marauder's Map
Harry is deeply disappointed over his first-ever Quidditch loss and losing his broom. He is also worried that he has seen the Grim three times, twice just before he was nearly killed: once by the Knight Bus, and then by falling off his broom during a Quidditch game. He says nothing about the Grim, however, to Hermione, who would scoff, or Ron, who would panic. The Dementors also trouble him, and Harry is beginning to realize that, when they approach him, he hears his mother's screams as she was being murdered.
Returning to classes on Monday is a relief, even with Draco's taunts. Professor Lupin also returns and cancels the Werewolf essay Professor Snape had assigned. After class, he tells Harry he is sorry that the Whomping Willow destroyed his broomstick. The willow was planted during his first year at Hogwarts. Lupin tells Harry that his reaction to the Dementors is not weakness. Dementors drain peoples' happiness and good memories, leaving only the bad. Harry's dreadful memories make him particularly vulnerable. Harry reveals he can hear Voldemort murdering his mother whenever the Dementors are near him, leaving Lupin visibly shaken. Harry wants Lupin to teach him how to defend himself against the Dementors the way Lupin did on the Hogwarts Express. Lupin promises he will after the Christmas holidays.
With that promise, Harry's outlook brightens; Ravenclaw flattening Hufflepuff in Quidditch, bringing Gryffindor back into the running for the Cup, also helps. Ron and Hermione are staying at Hogwarts over Christmas, further bolstering his morale. Even the prospect of missing yet another Hogsmeade weekend hardly bothers him. Borrowing Which Broomstick from Oliver Wood, Harry intends to spend the Hogsmeade weekend reading up on a replacement for his destroyed broomstick. Fred and George, however, have other ideas. Claiming Harry's needs are greater than their own, they bequeath him their Marauder's Map, a magical parchment they stole from Filch their first year. The map, apparently created by Messrs. "Moony," "Wormtail," "Padfoot," and "Prongs," shows seven secret passageways in and out of Hogwarts, as well as every person's location within the castle. Fred and George say Filch apparently only knows about four tunnels. One of the remaining three has caved in, and one starts under the Whomping Willow, making it too dangerous. The passage at the One-Eyed Witch statue goes directly to Honeyduke's Sweet Shop in Hogsmeade village. To activate the map, the user must say, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good," and "Mischief managed" to make it blank again.
Harry opens the One-Eyed Witch's hump with "Dissendium!", a spell provided by the map, and heads down the passageway. He emerges in Honeyduke's basement. Upstairs, Harry sneaks up behind Ron and Hermione. Ron believes he Apparated, but Harry tells him about the Map. Ron is upset that Fred and George never told him about the map. Hermione demands Harry turn it in to Professor McGonagall, but Harry refuses, believing the Dementors swarming the village will prevent Black accessing the two usable passageways. They set off for the Three Broomsticks. Ron, who seems to have a slight crush on Madam Rosmerta, the pub's owner, gets a round of Butterbeer.
Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Hagrid, and Cornelius Fudge, the Minister for Magic, enter. Ron and Hermione quickly hide Harry under the table. The four, plus Madam Rosmerta, sit down at an adjacent table. When Rosmerta complains the Dementors are affecting her business, Fudge explains they are necessary because Black is so dangerous. Rosmerta mentions that Sirius and James Potter were great friends once, always in the Three Broomsticks together. This surprises Harry. Fudge says that not only was Sirius James' best friend, but also best man at his wedding and Harry's godfather. James and Lily knew Voldemort was hunting them and went into hiding. They used the Fidelius charm to conceal themselves and appointed Sirius their Secret-Keeper. Dumbledore, aware someone close to them was leaking secrets, offered to be their Secret-Keeper, but they declined. Barely a week later, Voldemort killed James and Lily, although he met his own demise in baby Harry. Obviously Black, tired of playing double agent, had thrown his lot in with Voldemort but, after his defeat, fled for his life. Peter Pettigrew, another Potter friend, caught up to Black the next day and accused him of betraying James and Lily. Black killed him and twelve Muggle bystanders with a single curse. Only Pettigrew's bloodstained robes and a severed finger remained. Black was sentenced to Azkaban. It is believed he is trying to reunite with Voldemort, perhaps after killing Harry to prove his loyalty. The teachers depart; Harry, Ron, and Hermione are too stunned to speak.
Harry shows his more mature analytical thinking here as he realizes that the screams he hears whenever the Dementors approach are his mother's during her murder. Eventually, he is able to recall her last words, desperately pleading for her life. Slowly, his memory is uncovering more pieces to a horrific, long-buried puzzle.
Professor Lupin seems particularly, though momentarily, taken aback when Harry mentions hearing his mother's screams. Though he never explains why it affects him, it seems more emotional than just a teacher reacting sympathetically to his student's misfortune; it could indicate that Lupin has some prior connection to James and Lily. He also expresses remorse about the Whomping Willow destroying Harry's broomstick. Curiously, the Marauder's Map shows a secret passageway starting at the Whomping Willow's base, though no reason has been given as to why a tunnel would be located next to such a dangerous tree or where it might lead. Lupin tells Harry that the willow was planted the year he started Hogwarts. If there is any correlation to the willow being planted next to a tunnel the same year Lupin arrived at Hogwarts, nothing is mentioned here, but it should perhaps be considered. This is, obviously, no ordinary tree; given its massive size, it should be much older, and it is probable that magic accelerated its growth in addition to making it "whomping," for some as-yet unknown purpose.
Whoever Padfoot, Moony, Wormtail, and Prongs may be, they were obviously exceptionally talented Wizards to have created such a map. Since the map shows Hogwarts, it can be presumed they were students there, though when is unknown. The Twins' gift gives Harry new-found freedom and power over his own actions, and he feels no hesitation in using the map to dodge school rules, with Ron's encouragement, and over Hermione's usual objections. As usual, even though Hermione strongly objects to Harry having the map, she refrains from reporting him.
While the Marauder's Map is an extraordinary magical creation, it is even more extraordinary that the Twins willingly give it up. This certainly shows how much they care about and respect Harry to part with such a valuable and handy artifact. It is also a testament to their superior magical abilities that they were able to unlock the map, as well as apparently feeling they can continue their "extracurricular" activities unimpeded without this useful document.
When Harry secretly slips into Hogsmeade, his fun excursion ultimately brings unwelcome news and additional distress when the story behind Black's imprisonment is revealed, along with why he is attempting to break into the castle. Harry, thrown into an emotional turmoil after learning that Black betrayed his parents, now understands why there is so much concern over his safety and Black's motive for wanting to kill him. That Black is also his godfather, someone who is supposed to love and protect him, only adds to Harry's despair, particularly as he already has a family that despises and mistreats him. Harry now realizes what Malfoy meant about wanting revenge—he knew Black had betrayed the Potters, as did Mr. Weasley when he spoke to Harry at the train station.
Just how the previous Wizarding war has scarred Fudge with lingering fears is evident to us here, and also that he suffers ongoing nightmares about the events surrounding Sirius Black's capture. With Sirius' escape following Fudge's recent meeting with him, Fudge seems afraid that Voldemort's previous reign of terror will be revived, and he does everything he conceivably can, with his limited imagination, to protect the Wizarding world from that reoccurring.
Also, when Snape substituted for Lupin in the Defence Against the Dark Arts class, he assigned a paper on Werewolves; while there is still too little information to understand why Snape chose this particular subject, Hermione may have some idea. As usual, Hermione is the only student dismayed by the cancellation of the essay; it's safe to assume that she alone has completed it, and may have learned something interesting from it.
On a side note, we hear in this chapter that Madam Rosmerta was somehow involved in running the Three Broomsticks when James Potter and Sirius Black were students. This makes Madam Rosmerta literally old enough to be Ron's mother, as she must have been at least as old as James and Sirius when they were at Hogwarts. Seen in that light, Ron's crush on Madam Rosmerta seems a little ludicrous. Adult readers may recognize, however, that 35 to 40 years old is nowhere near as "ancient" as it appears to the nominal target audience (age 12 to 15) for this book. This aspect of Ron's development is entirely normal, and helps to round out his character.
- What is the Marauder's Map and how does it work?
- How did Fred and George come into possession of the Marauder's Map? Why are they willing to give it up to Harry?
- What was Sirius Black's relationship with James and Lily Potter?
- Why is it believed that Sirius Black betrayed Lily and James Potter and Peter Pettigrew?
- How could the Twins know what the Marauder's Map was when they stole it? The map requires precise instructions to be used. How were they able to figure out how to use it?
- Why would a dangerous tree like the Whomping Willow have been planted on school grounds during Lupin's first year at Hogwarts? Why would it be planted over a tunnel and where might the tunnel lead to?
- If the huge Whomping Willow had only been planted the year Lupin started at Hogwarts, how and why did it grow so big in such a short amount of time?
- Why would Lupin be so shaken when Harry tells him about the screaming he hears whenever the Dementors approach him?
- Who might Moony, Padfoot, Prongs, and Wormtail be? What could their relationship to the Marauder's Map be?
- What might the names "Moony", "Padfoot", "Prongs", and "Wormtail" actually mean? Do the names fit any characters that have been seen so far?
- Does Sirius Black's betrayal of James and Lily Potter seem logical? Is there another explanation, given what is known about the personalities involved?
Unknown to Harry, he has just inherited another relic that belonged to his father: the Marauder's Map. James Potter, along with Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, created it in their sixth year using their combined knowledge about Charms and Hogwarts' grounds. This map not only symbolizes Harry navigating his way through the many turmoils he encounters throughout the series, but it aids him in more practical ways, usually by helping him avoid detection during his night-time sojourns around Hogwarts. It plays a role in Barty Crouch Jr.'s plot to murder his own father during Harry's fourth year. It keeps Harry aware of Malfoy's activities in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Finally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry carries the map with him when he leaves Hogwarts to hunt Voldemort's Horcruxes. Though the map is less useful while he travels the countryside, it becomes a talisman that bolsters his morale, provides a source of familiarity and comfort, and is a means to remain connected to Hogwarts and his friends, as well as to his late father, who helped create it. Most importantly for Harry, it allows him to gaze at Ginny's name, thus allowing Harry to retain his connection with her while she is at Hogwarts, and confirming for the reader the ongoing romantic attachment between them.
Lupin's reaction to Harry's revelation that he hears his mother's screams deeply affects Lupin because he was close friends with James and Lily Potter. Lily was particularly accepting and kind to him when they were at school together. Lupin is also shaken that this is Harry's only memory about his lost mother, and he will do much to help him come to know the person she, and also James, were. Also, his response about Harry's broom is more than mere sympathy. He likely feels partially responsible for the Whomping Willow destroying it because it was on his behalf that the dangerous tree was planted when he first arrived at Hogwarts as a student. The Willow's purpose is to protect the entrance to a secret passage at its base that leads to the Shrieking Shack. This is where Lupin, who is a Werewolf, was confined during the full moon, to protect students and staff during his transformations. This protection is no longer needed as a potion is now available that allows a transformed Werewolf to retain his human awareness during the lunar cycle. We have already seen Lupin is drinking this potion, and will learn more about it later in this book.
The Hogwarts faculty are generally unaware that the One-eyed Witch tunnel exists; Lupin, one of the creators of the Marauder's Map, must know about it, and presumably Sirius, another creator, does as well. We later suspect that Snape may have retrieved partial knowledge of it from Harry's mind. As useful as it may be, however, this passage is never used after its appearance in this book.
It is revealed later that Dumbledore, and several other faculty, do know about the tunnel leading from the Whomping Willow. Also, Snape is aware that Sirius Black knows it exists. Regardless, it appears that this passageway, which the Trio uses later in the story, was never monitored or sealed off after Black's escape. It is unclear why Dumbledore never considered this a necessary precaution, especially after Black by-passed the castle's security. Perhaps the tunnel starting outside the castle proper, and ending inside a boarded-up house, leads to a false sense of security. It is also curious as to why the tunnel was never blocked or eliminated entirely following Lupin's departure from Hogwarts, being as it was no longer needed for his benefit. With the tunnel sealed, the Whomping Willow, a very dangerous plant, could have been removed or disabled. However, the Whomping Willow, and the tunnel, will prove valuable plot devices later in the story.
According to Minister Fudge, Sirius Black was the Potter's Secret Keeper to hide them from Lord Voldemort, but Black betrayed them and later murdered Peter Pettigrew, leaving only Pettigrew's finger behind. This ties in to another fact: Scabbers, Ron's pet rat, lacks a toe on one paw. It will be discovered that Scabbers is actually Peter Pettigrew, who, like Black and James Potter, is an Animagus, his rat form prompting the nickname "Wormtail." Pettigrew severed his own finger to make his faked death appear more convincing. Black, seeing the Weasley family's picture in the Prophet while they were in Egypt, recognized Pettigrew's rat shape and the missing finger, and realized that Pettigrew was alive and what he had done; Pettigrew is why Black has come to Hogwarts. In the next book, Pettigrew will be forced to sever another body part.
It is interesting to note that Fudge seems to believe here that a re-animated Voldemort is possible; when Madam Rosmerta suggests that as a horrible possibility, Fudge admits that they believe that is Black's plan. Yet, in the next book, when Dumbledore asserts that Voldemort has returned, Fudge rejects this claim. One must wonder what has happened in the meanwhile to cause Fudge's beliefs to change so wildly.
- The tunnel to the Shrieking Shack is first mentioned here, although the fact that it terminates at the Shrieking Shack is not yet known. This tunnel will be used towards the end of this book, and in the final book of the series. The Whomping Willow that guards it, and which had damaged Mr. Weasley's flying car earlier, and destroyed Harry's broomstick in the previous chapter, will of course be mentioned then as well; it will be later in this book that Crookshanks will show Harry how to pass it.
- The Marauder's Map, created by James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, will be used once more in this book to allow Harry to escape into Hogsmeade, but will then be confiscated by Lupin; it will show Lupin, and later Snape, that people are getting into the Shrieking Shack via the tunnel. After it is restored to him, Harry uses it to avoid interception by Peeves and Filch during Harry's fourth year; then, after it is borrowed by Professor Moody, it plays a role in Barty Crouch Jr.'s plot to murder his own father. Harry uses it to avoid detection of Dumbledore's Army, and himself, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It keeps Harry aware of Malfoy's activities in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Finally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry uses the map to gaze at Ginny's name as she attends classes at Hogwarts.
Chapter 11: The Firebolt
Harry is in emotional turmoil, so distraught that he cannot even remember how he got from the Three Broomsticks and through the secret passage back into Hogwarts. Why had no one told him the truth about Sirius Black? Unfortunately, there is no opportunity to talk to Ron and Hermione that night, and Harry does not fall asleep until almost 5:00 a.m. He awakes at around noon to an empty Common room. The Christmas holiday has begun, and nearly everyone has left Hogwarts.
Harry is filled with rage and black thoughts of revenge; Ron and Hermione are unable to reason with him. Harry remembers Draco saying that if it were he, he would hunt Black down. Ron's attempt to calm Harry, suggesting he would be better advised to listen to his friends rather than his enemies, seems ineffective. To change the subject, Ron suggests visiting Hagrid, but this backfires when Harry seizes on it as an opportunity to ask Hagrid why he never mentioned Black. Ron is now reluctant to go, but Harry is adamant. They find Hagrid sobbing uncontrollably. Although Hagrid has been exonerated in Buckbeak's attack on Draco, Lucius' complaint has been upheld. Buckbeak must appear before the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. A distraught Hagrid is certain Buckbeak will be condemned, being that the committee members are all in Lucius Malfoy's pocket. Harry, Ron, and Hermione promise to find precedents that will save Buckbeak. Hagrid considers setting Buckbeak free, but how does one explain to a Hippogriff that it has to go into hiding? And, after his unfortunate sojourn in Azkaban, Hagrid is terrified of breaking the law. This all helps distract Harry, and he, Ron, and Hermione search the library for cases of dangerous creatures avoiding execution. Unfortunately, they find little information.
Christmas brings presents; Harry gets the usual hand-knit jumper (US: sweater) from Mrs. Weasley, bright red with the Gryffindor lion woven into it, plus various treats. There is also a long thin package containing a broom. Not just any broom — a Firebolt. Harry and Ron are stunned. It is the finest and fastest broom there is, Harry has no idea who sent it, and it has no identifying note. Hermione is immediately suspicious, and says no one should ride it yet. Ron demands to know why but is interrupted by Crookshanks attacking Scabbers. In the commotion, Harry's pocket Sneakoscope starts whistling shrilly. Hermione and Crookshanks leave, and Harry tucks away the Sneakoscope in his trunk. Harry and Ron tend to Scabbers, who is looking poorly.
They head to the Great Hall where one table is set for twelve. In addition to themselves, only Professor Dumbledore, the four House Heads, Filch, and three other students are having Christmas dinner. Professor Trelawney joins them, and suddenly realizes there are thirteen at the table. She melodramatically declares that the first to rise will be the first to die, although Professor McGonagall is skeptical. It is mentioned that Professor Lupin, who is apparently sick again, will not be joining them. Trelawney predicts his imminent "departure," but Dumbledore mildly says he does not think he is in any immediate danger, then checks with Professor Snape that Lupin has received a potion. As Harry and Ron rise from the table two hours later, Trelawney demands to know who got up first. Because they rose together, they are unable to answer. Hermione stays behind to speak to Professor McGonagall. Minutes later, Professor McGonagall arrives in the Common room and confiscates Harry's Firebolt. Because it is unknown who sent it, Madam Hooch and Professor Flitwick will test it for any Dark Magic that may be embedded in it. If it is jinx-free, Harry will get it back. It should only take a few weeks. Both Harry and Ron are furious with Hermione, but she says that she and McGonagall believe the broom was sent by Sirius Black.
As Harry roils in emotional turmoil after learning the history of Sirius Black and his parents' murders, Ron shows his budding maturity here. Rather than supporting Harry's desire for revenge, as might be expected, Ron calmly reasons with him, wisely counseling Harry to heed his friends' advice rather than listen to enemies like Draco Malfoy. Ron's attempts to defuse Harry's rage by redirecting his focus backfires, however, when Harry instead finds a new target (Hagrid) on whom to vent his frustration. That Hagrid is needing help is good timing: though we perceive how deeply distraught Harry is when he hears about Black, Hagrid's situation prevents Harry from dwelling on it, as he is likely to do. In this way, while Harry's despair is evident, we are spared being bored by his continuing reactions.
While Draco continues to taunt Harry, his father creates even more misery by pressuring the Ministry to put Buckbeak, an obviously innocent victim, on trial. It is not immediately obvious whether Malfoy has any specific motive in pursuing this attack against Buckbeak, though it could be argued that Lucius is only seeking revenge against the creature who dared to injure his son. It is also possible that, while Draco continues his campaign of harassment on Harry, Lucius is using Buckbeak as a way of retaliating against Hagrid, and incidentally against the policies of Professor Dumbledore, who hired him for the position. The success he has in this endeavor shows how easily the Ministry can be manipulated and hoodwinked by someone wielding wealth and influence. Rather than being corrupt, the Ministry seems more lazy and indifferent, unwilling to expend the energy to uncover the truth. Instead, it opts to quickly convict more readily available suspects, regardless what the evidence shows. Whether Lucius is physically present in the story or not, his evil influence continually permeates the series.
Trelawney's prediction that Lupin will soon depart Hogwarts actually has a high probability of coming true. However, she has probably (subconsciously) based this on historical fact rather than on any divination insight, though she likely believes she has truly foreseen the unknown future. For some decades, no Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher has ever lasted more than one year at Hogwarts, and it is unclear if Lupin can break this pattern. While Trelawney is hinting that Lupin will die, we actually should expect this from her; Trelawney is over-dramatizing, an age-old fortune-teller's trick. Her prediction that the first to rise from the table will be the first to die is similarly melodramatic. Once again, a combination of drama and fakery is passed off as a magical discipline in this exposure to Divination.
The Firebolt being confiscated will likely create a severe rift between Hermione and the other two. Hermione, who usually does little more than express her disapproval of Harry and Ron's irregular behavior, feels strongly that this time there is a greater than normal risk associated with such an expensive and anonymous (as well as highly suspicious) gift. Fearing for Harry's life, she is unable to remain silent. McGonagall agrees with her, though Harry and Ron, blinded to any danger, can see only the broom's dazzling glamour. One does wonder whether, rather than leaving it to Flitwick and Madam Hooch to analyze, the broom ought to be returned to the factory for an inspection. Perhaps McGonagall feels that the factory would be best able to check out its motive spells, but less able to decipher any Dark magic added to it.
- What is Harry's reaction when he learns that Black was responsible for betraying his parents to Voldemort, as well as murdering Pettigrew and twelve Muggles?
- Why did Hermione report the Firebolt to McGonagall?
- Why does McGonagall confiscate Harry's Firebolt?
- Who do McGonagall and Hermione believe sent Harry the Firebolt?
- Although Hagrid was exonerated in the incident involving Draco Malfoy and Buckbeak, why is he still upset? Can the Trio actually help Hagrid?
- Why would Trelawney predict Lupin's "imminent departure?" Is it accurate? If so, is there a more logical explanation than Divination?
- Why was the truth about the his parents' murders and his relationship to Sirius Black kept from Harry?
- What does Ron mean when he tells Harry to listen to his friends rather than his enemies? Will Harry follow his advice? Explain.
- Why are Harry and Ron so angry at Hermione? Was she justified in talking to Professor McGonagall?
- Why does Professor McGonagall choose to have the broom examined by Madam Hooch and Professor Flitwick? Would it not be more sensible to have the Firebolt factory technicians examine it?
Once again, the pocket Sneakoscope is sounding a clue: someone untrustworthy is nearby. But the only ones present are the Trio, plus Crookshanks and Scabbers. We have learned about Animagi, but Hermione has categorically ruled out that there is any other registered Animagus. She is actually correct, there are no other registered Animagi. However, Hermione's perhaps excessive concern about rules leads her to the unconscious, and naive, belief that other people, particularly adults, are generally as rule-abiding as she. Hermione never considers that there may be unregistered Animagi. We discover later that the untrustworthy person is Scabbers, who is an unregistered Animagus.
Harry reacting only to an enemy's words (Draco's) rather than listening to his friends' advice as Ron suggests, not only shows his immaturity here, but is seen again in later books. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, hack journalist Rita Skeeter publishes a controversial book about Dumbledore, highlighting some dark secrets in his past. After listening to several other peoples' aspersions regarding the late Headmaster, Harry becomes so disappointed in the man he admired and thought he knew that he rejects any other reasonable explanation. Rather than weigh evidence both for and against an argument, he instead becomes fixated on this small portion in Dumbledore's life, ignoring the great man that Albus became. This pattern is also seen when Harry learns about a disappointing episode involving his father, James, during his youth. Harry, for a time, will only focus on this event in his father's life, ignoring others' accounts of the good man James chose to become. Harry has yet to learn that people can not only overcome their past misdeeds, but they often become even greater due to them.
McGonagall confiscating the Firebolt starts another rift within the Trio. Harry and Ron unfairly blame Hermione for Harry being deprived his new broom. Hermione is correct that, given what is known about its source, it could be jinxed and unsafe to fly on. However, Harry and Ron are behaving childishly, and they can only see the Firebolt's loss, rather than the legitimate reasons behind it being confiscated and the real danger such an expensive and anonymous gift could have realistically posed. As a result, neither speaks to Hermione for almost four months, until the Firebolt is returned in mid-April. Harry learns later that Sirius sent it only as a gift to his godson, but until the truth is known about Sirius, truth that flies in the face of what the entire Wizarding world now believe about him, this cannot be either known or believed.
It is interesting, and also unnoticed by Harry and Ron, that although Hermione turns in Harry's new broom to McGonagall, she never reveals to any Hogwarts teacher what she knows about the Marauder's Map or the secret tunnels listed on it, despite knowing that Sirius Black could possibly be using one to enter Hogwarts undetected. Hermione's loyalty to her friends, as well as fearing their reprisals, has to this point always overruled her need to adhere to school rules. This sudden defection may partially be why Harry and Ron react so strongly against her. However, this time the Firebolt posed too great a danger for Hermione to ignore.
It is also probable that the reason for not sending the Firebolt back to the factory for analysis is an associated plot point. Likely, analysis at the factory, by wizards familiar with the workings of the Firebolt's charms, would take only about a week; by leaving it with Flitwick and Madam Hooch, the analysis process takes several months, which allows the rift between Hermione and the other two time to widen and solidify, and also allows time for Harry to brood about its loss.
The laziness in the Ministry that is commented on in the Analysis section will be found to be endemic, as the series continues. In this case, it is relatively minor, accepting the word of the glib speaker, rather than expending the effort to determine the facts of the matter. It will be found that this same laziness will have harsher effects, as it will be found that Sirius Black had been consigned to Azkaban without trial, and that the crimes for which he had been jailed were in fact committed by another. Earlier, we had seen the assumption by the Ministry that Harry was the only possible source of magic for the charm cast by Dobby, and we will see the exact same "punish first, ask questions later only if we are forced to" on the part of the Ministry later in the series. We will see this again when Stan Shunpike is sent to Azkaban for making an idle boast. This behaviour on the part of the Ministry rings particularly true for adult readers, as it mirrors what many have encountered when trying to work with officialdom in the Muggle world.
It should be noted in passing that Professor Trelawney's over-dramatic, repeated prediction that the first to rise from the table would be the first to die will be proven false.
- The Sneakoscope has appeared twice before in this book, when Harry received it as a gift, and on the Hogwarts Express. A different Sneakoscope will appear on Professor Moody's desk in the fourth book, and another, possibly Moody's, will appear in the Room of Requirement in the fifth book. The specific Sneakoscope that we see in this chapter will not be seen again until, old and broken, it is cleaned out of Harry's school trunk in the final book. Hermione will give Harry a new Sneakoscope for his birthday that year, and it will be used multiple times during the Trio's travels through England in that book.
- Buckbeak will be condemned to death, but will escape at the end of this book, and will be Sirius' companion until Sirius' death. Hagrid will then take care of him until series end. This is not actually a particularly strong connection; one gets the feeling that, having brought Buckbeak into the story as a character, the author is now bound to mention how he is being cared for.
Chapter 12: The Patronus
Harry and Ron remain furious at Hermione for her part in Harry's new Firebolt being confiscated. As a result, Hermione tries to avoid the common room, doing her endless studying in the library and, presumably, her dorm. Holidays end, and the night before classes start, Oliver Wood corners Harry and asks if he has his Dementor problem sorted out. Harry says that Professor Lupin has promised to help with that. Oliver asks about a new broom, and Ron tells him about the Firebolt. Oliver thinks it is unlikely it was sent by Black, a fugitive on the run. He promises to make Professor McGonagall see sense.
Classes start but are no fun. Hagrid, however, has cheered up, and for his first lesson has a large bonfire filled with flame-loving salamanders. Professor Trelawney has moved the Divination class on to palmistry and wastes no time in pronouncing that Harry has the shortest life lines she has ever seen. Harry is eager for Defence Against the Dark Arts class and Professor Lupin's promised anti-Dementor lessons. Ron mentions that Lupin looks sick and wonders what is wrong with him. Hermione, overhearing, remarks that it is obvious, but does not elaborate.
Later that evening, Harry meets with Lupin, who is carrying a Boggart in a case. Lupin says it will turn into a Dementor against which Harry can practice. Lupin teaches Harry the Patronus charm, saying Harry must recall a happy memory. Harry, concentrating, causes white vapour to eject from his wand. He is ready for a test. The Boggart is released and appears as a Dementor. Harry tries casting a Patronus, but hearing his mother's screams, passes out. Lupin brings him around and gives him a Chocolate Frog. Harry wants to try again and selects a new memory. This time he hears the screaming and also his father's voice, then faints. When he revives, Harry says this time he heard his father; Lupin, looking shaken, admits that he knew James and suggests calling it a night. But Harry wants to continue and remembers the day he learned he was a Wizard and would be leaving the Dursleys. The Boggart is released. Harry tries to conjure a Patronus, and again hears screaming, but fainter. Something huge and white bursts from his wand, and the false Dementor is halted. Lupin quickly steps in and uses the Riddikulus charm to return it to the case. Lupin says Harry has done enough, and they will try again next week. Harry, remembering that his father and Sirius Black had been friends, asks if Lupin knew Black, and Lupin admits that he and Black went to Hogwarts at the same time.
Ravenclaw plays Slytherin and loses by a slim margin. This cheers Oliver Wood because if Gryffindor can beat Ravenclaw, Gryffindor will be in second place. Wood increases practice to five times a week, which combined with weekly anti-Dementor lessons leaves Harry only one night a week for homework. Hermione seems to have it worse, though she is somehow is getting to all her classes, even those which seem to be at the same time. Oliver tells Harry that the Firebolt will not be returned immediately. Oliver felt that Harry flying a jinxed broom would not be a problem if he won the match before it threw him off, though McGonagall, for some reason he is unable to fathom, felt this was rather insensitive. He suggests Harry order a Nimbus 2001, but Harry declines, saying he doesn't want to use a broom that Draco thinks is good.
The anti-Dementor lessons are not going well either. Despite his earlier success, Harry can now only produce a thin, silvery mist. After one long session, Professor Lupin brings out Butterbeer from the Three Broomsticks. Harry nearly lets it slip that he has been there. They discuss Dementors, and Lupin says the Ministry has given the Dementors permission to administer the "Kiss" to Black, sucking out his soul. Harry thinks Black deserves this, though Lupin expresses some skepticism.
As Harry returns to the Gryffindor common room after this session, Professor McGonagall stops him to return the Firebolt, declaring it jinx free. Outside Sir Cadogan's portrait, Neville is in tears. He had written down the passwords for the week—Sir Cadogan changes them several times a day—but he has lost the list. Harry gives the password, and they enter. Nearly everyone wants to see the Firebolt, and there is renewed hope they can win the Cup. Harry and Ron finally reconcile with Hermione, who looks exhausted. Ron offers to take the Firebolt up to the dorm, it being time for Scabbers' rat tonic. As Harry again wonders how Hermione can be taking so many classes, Ron suddenly reappears, howling that Scabbers is missing, and carrying a bloody sheet covered with what looks like Crookshanks' hairs.
Harry's struggle with the anti-Dementor lessons somewhat mirrors his own life. When he initially fails in something, rather than giving up, his determination compels him to keep trying until he gets it right. It is also telling that Harry must struggle to find a memory that is happy enough for an effective Patronus. Harry's initial failure may have an underlying cause, however: he now realizes that it is when he is approached by a Dementor that he hears his parents' voices, and he realizes that overcoming his fear when facing a Dementor will end this, about the only tangible tie he has to them.
Lupin's admission that he not only knew James and Lily Potter, but also Sirius Black, is surprising; it has added to the mystery, though Lupin avoids elaborating on this connection. His reluctance in sharing Harry's opinion that Black, responsible for so many deaths, including the Potters, deserves to have his soul sucked out, seems to show great compassion and forgiveness, even for someone who committed such heinous acts against innocent people, including those Lupin cared about. However, Lupin's feelings may be conflicted for other reasons.
While Harry is dejected over his destroyed Nimbus 2000 and angry about the confiscated Firebolt, these are losses he could easily afford to replace with the considerable fortune his parents left him. His reluctance to do so is directly related to his emotional upset over losing the brooms. Rather than finding a workable solution, his anger, stubbornness, and emotional immaturity delay his taking action, and he instead slips into a temporary, self-pitying state-of-mind. Underlying all this is Harry's strong emotional attachment to these two magical objects that he believes are impossible to replace merely by buying substitutes. This reaction shows how our most valuable possessions are often not the most expensive things we own, but are items connected to another person, or even a particular place or point in time. Harry also associates these objects with who he is. The Nimbus, like his wand, was among the first magical objects Harry obtained. It not only heralded Harry's entry into the Wizarding world and his becoming the youngest Seeker at Hogwarts in over a century, but it was also a gift from someone (McGonagall) who cared about him. The Dursleys would never have bought him such a gift. The Firebolt, in particular, is meaningful because he convinces himself that, like the Nimbus, it was sent from someone who secretly cares about him, rather than an enemy wanting him dead, though he lacks proof for either possibility. When the Firebolt is returned jinx free, it further bolsters Harry's belief that someone must care and is protectively watching over him, though he has no idea who.
Although the Firebolt's return patches the rift between Hermione and the boys, a new one erupts over Scabbers's apparent demise. While the evidence is only circumstantial, it strongly suggests that Crookshanks is guilty. This rift is perhaps even harder on Hermione, who, already massively overburdened by her schoolwork and only recently reconciled with Harry and Ron, seems unable to muster much sympathy for Ron. This time, however, only Ron is upset with her; Harry seems to recall more of the facts about Scabbers than Ron does, and seems less able to blame Hermione for Crookshanks' activities.
Hermione also focuses readers' attention on yet another mystery: Lupin frequently looks ill and often misses classes. She apparently knows why, though, still angry at Harry and Ron, refuses to say anything further, leaving them to figure it out for themselves.
There is yet another of the series' endemic date and schedule contradictions here. The anti-Dementor lesson that Harry is leaving when he runs into McGonagall on her way to return his Firebolt to him is said to be his fifth – he has been unable to produce more than a faint mist in the four lessons since the first successful one; and the first lesson was in the first week of classes, "soon after the New Year". As these lessons are supposed to be every week, by that count, it can be no later than early February. However, it is only two days after the events of this chapter, as we will see, that they have the match with Ravenclaw. Less than a week later, Harry and Ron visit Hagrid and find that they are only a day away from the hearing at the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, which is April 20th. By that count, Scabbers should have vanished about April 12, and Harry should have had about 12 lessons rather than 4; with perhaps three of them interrupted by Professor Lupin's "illness", there should still have been at least nine anti-Dementor lessons. While it's certainly true that as a teacher, Lupin will have had other things to deal with and would likely not have been able to fit twelve lessons in, still we are left with the impression that these lessons are meant to be every week, rather than every three weeks. In this case, the schedule confusion does cause a small problem in the story, as, if we miss the date of the visit with Hagrid in the following chapter, the compression at this point leads us to believe that the end-of-term exams are happening in about March.
- Why does Oliver Wood think McGonagall's comment about his being "insensitive" regarding Harry is unwarranted? Explain both positions.
- Why is it so difficult for Harry to recall a strong "happy" memory?
- Why is Neville having (more than usual) difficulty remembering the password to the Gryffindor Common room? What does he do to help him remember, and was this a bad idea? Explain.
- What could be wrong with Lupin? How did Hermione figure it out? Why does she refuse to elaborate?
- Is Ron justified in assuming that Crookshanks killed Scabbers? What is the evidence and is it conclusive?
- How does Scabbers' disappearance affect Ron's relationship with Hermione?
- Lupin tells Harry that Sirius Black was a student at Hogwarts the same time he was. Is it possible he knows Black better than he is letting on? Explain.
- Why might Lupin disagree with Harry about Black deserving the "Dementor's Kiss"?
- Harry has inherited a large fortune, and could easily order a new broom. Why does he resist?
Hermione, presumably by having applied what she learned while working on Snape's werewolf assignment, has discovered Lupin's "furry little problem", as it will later be referred to. We have gathered that she was the only student to write that report, so it is hardly surprising that neither Harry nor Ron understands why Lupin often looks ill. Hermione's estrangement from Harry and Ron is important here, as that prevents her from explaining this to Harry and Ron. She finally reveals this to them during this book's climactic scene in the Shrieking Shack.
Knowing that Lupin is a Werewolf, and seeing the Boggart's effect on Harry, leaves a small contradiction. Clearly the Boggart, in Dementor form, has the same magical effect on Harry that a real Dementor would, leaving Harry despairing and bringing horrible, buried memories to mind. And yet, when the Boggart assumes the silvery orb form, representing Lupin's fear of the full moon, it has no affect on him. One can only surmise that this is similar to a "placebo effect": if you believe something will affect you, it quite often does. To this end, the Boggart-as-Dementor is believable as being something that could be present in the classroom, and it affects Harry, who is unable to handle his emotions well, because he believes that it will affect him. The Boggart-as-full-moon inside a classroom is unbelievable, and therefore it has no effect on Lupin, who, as an adult, understands what a Boggart actually is, and certainly already knows what shape it will assume, thus allowing him to deal with it differently than Harry.
Neville is technically blameless for losing the password list—Crookshanks, we will find, stole it at Sirius Black's request. Black will use it two nights hence to enter Gryffindor tower. That event causes some confusion, however, as Black apparently attacks Ron, rather than Harry, his supposed target; it is actually the departed Scabbers, who regularly slept in Ron's bed, that Black is hunting. It is worth noting, however, that Neville losing the list is a well-crafted plot device by the author; Neville has always been characterized as having memory problems, particularly with passwords, so his losing the list perfectly fits his character. However, even though it was stolen rather than lost, making and keeping such a list, particularly with others knowing about it, was still a rather careless act. As a result, Harry and others will be exposed to great danger.
Lupin is apparently torn over Sirius Black's potential fate. We learn that Lupin attended school not only with Harry's father, but also with Sirius Black and "little Peter Pettigrew". The four were close friends, and while it is assumed that Lupin must deeply despise Black for his betrayal, he apparently harbors compassionate feelings for his former friend. We may also recall that Snape attended Hogwarts at the same time — Professor Dumbledore mentioned that James saved Snape's life. While it is yet impossible to recognize James, Sirius, Pettigrew, and Lupin together as a group, we should keep in mind that they knew each other. It is a little curious that Harry is more interested in talking with Lupin about Sirius than about his father, but Sirius seems to be a more immediate concern for him.
We see a recurring pattern throughout this book: whenever someone wonders how Hermione can be taking so many classes, or whenever she seems to appear someplace suddenly, there is promptly some interruption that ends further speculation. It is a tribute to the author's skill that these interruptions, rather than being contrived, seem like normal occurrences, or as normal as they can be in the situation. Scabbers' "death" is such an occurrence, interrupting Harry's musing about the topic. While this event is extraordinary, it is not entirely unexpected. Like Ron and, to a lesser extent, Harry, we can see that Crookshanks has been targeting Scabbers ever since he entered the story in the Magical Menagerie in Diagon Alley. Thus Scabbers' apparent demise, seemingly at Crookshanks' claws, while somewhat surprising, is still a natural progression, making the interruption seem quite natural.
Readers who are at all familiar with the series, of course, will recognize that Scabbers is not dead, but has come to the conclusion that Sirius Black has gotten rather too close to him, and so has elected to vanish. As he had done before, when, as Pettigrew, he had determined that he had to disappear, he sets up an innocent bystander, and then vanishes leaving evidence of his supposed death that points the blame at that bystander. In the first instance, he had left Black to take the blame; in this case, the blame is left resting on Crookshanks. It is perhaps a tribute to Pettigrew's shrewdness that he sees, in both cases, how ripe his victim is to be suspected.
- It is mentioned that the Firebolt is a "world-class broom," which would imply that there is a worldwide Quidditch competition of some sort. We will see shortly that there is; in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry will receive an invitation to the Quidditch World Cup. It will turn out that the Irish side there are all riding Firebolts.
Chapter 13: Gryffindor Versus Ravenclaw
Scabbers' apparent demise at Crookshanks' claws appears to have ended Ron and Hermione's friendship. Ron feels Hermione is unsympathetic and fails to take responsibility; Hermione apparently believes that attacking rats is normal cat behavior and there is only circumstantial evidence that Crookshanks killed Scabbers. Harry agrees with Ron, given the physical evidence and Crookshanks' history of attacking Scabbers. Hermione, claiming Harry always sides with Ron, storms off. Ron takes the loss hard, and not even the Twins' reminding him that he thought Scabbers was useless (mere days before) consoles him. Finally, Harry invites him to Quidditch practice, offering him a chance to ride his Firebolt, which cheers him up a bit.
Arriving at the Quidditch pitch, Harry meets the team and Madam Hooch, who has been delegated to guard Harry during practice. She is as entranced by the Firebolt as the Gryffindor common room was, and soliloquizes about it until Oliver reminds her they have to practice. And it is a magnificent practice. Inspired by the Firebolt, everyone works so well that Oliver does not have a single criticism—a first for him. Oliver asks Harry again about his Dementor problem, and Harry replies, a bit untruthfully, that he has mastered the spell. As practice breaks up, Ron flies the Firebolt into the darkening sky. Madam Hooch awakens, reprimands Harry and Ron for letting her fall asleep, and sends them to the castle. Along the way, Harry thinks he sees a pair of eyes watching him. Ron casts the Lumos charm to reveal Crookshanks. Harry does not want to admit that he thought it might be a Grim.
The Quidditch match is the next morning. The Gryffindors form an honor guard and carry the Firebolt down to breakfast. Students from the other Houses, including Ravenclaw, come over to check it out, including Draco Malfoy who, as expected, makes a wisecrack. The team head for the Quidditch pitch. Oliver mentions Ravenclaw's new Seeker, Cho Chang, saying she is good, but is riding a slower broom, a Comet Two-Sixty. Harry notices she is pretty. Madam Hooch blows her whistle, and the match is on. Lee Jordan is commentating, but repeatedly lapses into descriptions of the Firebolt, for which he gets a stern warning. Harry spots and loses the Snitch several times, finally seeing it by the Gryffindor goalposts. When he accelerates for it, so does Cho, but she gasps and points downwards. Harry, seeing three Dementors on the field, draws his wand and summons a Patronus, sending it at the Dementors. Then he blasts ahead of Cho to grab the Snitch, winning the game.
In the ensuing celebrations on the field, a visibly shaken Professor Lupin comments that Harry produced quite the Patronus. Harry says the Dementors had not affected him, but Lupin says they were not Dementors. It was actually Draco Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and Marcus Flint disguised in Dementor-like robes (with Draco and Goyle having shared a robe, to appear larger). Professor McGonagall berates them soundly and deducts House points.
The Gryffindors celebrate in the common room, and Fred and George hand out treats from Honeyduke's and The Three Broomsticks. Hermione, who has 422 pages of Muggle Studies to read before Monday, does not join the party. Ron comments loudly that Scabbers would have liked to be there, causing Hermione to depart crying. Harry asks Ron to cut her some slack, but Ron refuses until she shows some remorse about Scabbers. The party lasts until Professor McGonagall appears, at one A.M., and sends everyone to bed.
Terrified screams awaken Harry. Sirius Black has slashed Ron's bed curtains and is standing over him with a knife. Harry, chasing Sirius, sprints down to the common room as other Gryffindors emerge from their dormitories. Percy orders everyone back to bed, and is ignored amidst the revelations. Professor McGonagall arrives and asks Sir Cadogan how Black got in. Sir Cadogan states proudly that he allowed a man in because he had the passwords — a whole list of them. Livid, McGonagall demands to know who was stupid enough to write down all the passwords and then lose the list. A shamed-faced Neville raises his hand.
Harry is unable to take the time to look at his own Patronus' shape, but Lupin's reaction to it seems significant. Despite his being visibly shaken, he composes himself enough to congratulate Harry. If, as seems likely given Lupin's reaction, Harry successfully conjured a corporeal Patronus, then nearly everyone in the Quidditch pitch now knows he can produce one and what form it takes. However, only Lupin seems to understand the shape's significance.
Even though Draco and his cohorts were disguised as Dementors, Harry, believing they were real, was unaffected by them. However, when he faced the Boggart in its Dementor form, despite knowing it was a fake Dementor, Harry was affected enough that he again heard his mother's screams and fainted. This could suggest Harry is gradually overcoming his fears, even though real Dementors would likely still affect him.
Unable to remember the numerous new passwords, Neville had made a list and then apparently lost it, as we saw in the previous chapter. This of course allowed Black to find and use it to enter the Gryffindor dormitory. The repercussions are severe: Neville is humiliated before his classmates and punished by McGonagall, further eroding his already fragile self-confidence. Though McGonagall is quite right that keeping such a list was a bad idea, expecting any student to memorize the numerous and constantly-changing passwords seems unfair.
Ron was terrified by his encounter with Sirius Black, but Black’s behavior in Gryffindor Tower belies his mass murderer record. Though he slashes Ron’s curtains with a knife, neither Ron nor Harry are harmed, though Black had every opportunity to do so. They wonder why, when Ron yelled, Sirius bolted. Presuming Sirius was targeting Harry, it would have been simple enough for such a vicious killer to permanently silence Ron and swiftly move on his real target in the next bed. What stopped him?
Meanwhile, a new rift develops between Ron and Hermione. Hermione's refusal to express sympathy or take responsibility for Scabbers' apparent death would seem out of character in earlier books. Being that she has just patched things up with Ron and Harry, she may be reluctant to admit to anything that could threaten their repaired friendship. Another factor is that Hermione's stubborn nature causes her to rarely, if ever, believe she is wrong, and there is no absolute proof that Scabbers is actually dead rather than missing. However, the key factor here seems to be that Hermione, increasingly tired and shrill, is clearly suffering a tremendous amount of stress from her studies. Considering she has always easily been at the top of her class, this is difficult to understand, though having to prepare Buckbeak's appeal, which Ron and Harry had promised to help with but had quickly lost interest in, is also adding to her workload.
Harry has his first encounter with Ravenclaw's Seeker, Cho Chang, the first girl he is attracted to. Harry "felt a slight jolt in the region of his stomach that he didn't think had anything to do with nerves." Cho is pretty and also a good flier, who, at least once, thwarts Harry for the Snitch despite having a slower broom. This may make her even more attractive to Harry.
Also, Madam Hooch's rhapsodizing about the Firebolt actually feels quite misplaced. Readers may not understand why, but they should be somewhat disturbed by it all the same. Looking back two chapters earlier, we see that when Professor McGonagall confiscated the broom, she had said she was going to give it to Madam Hooch and Professor Flitwick to examine for hidden jinxes. Thus, Madam Hooch has been working with the broom for almost four months, from late December to mid-April, which is certainly enough time for the (non-magical) charm to have worn off.
- How was Sirius Black able to get into the Gryffindor Common room?
- Is Hermione acting insensitively towards Ron after Scabbers disappears? Does she take any responsibility for what Crookshanks may have done? Is Ron overreacting?
- Was Crookshanks actually responsible for Scabbers' disappearance? Explain.
- We have been told that Sirius Black murdered another wizard and twelve Muggles. Although Black enters Harry's dorm, he does nothing to harm him and instead slashes Ron's bed curtains. Why do you think Black didn't kill Harry when he had the opportunity?
- Remus Lupin congratulates Harry on the strong Patronus he conjures during the Quidditch game, but its form surprises Lupin (although its shape remains unknown to readers). What form might it have taken and why was Lupin so affected by it?
- Why was Harry so strongly affected by the Boggart, knowing that it was not a real Dementor, but, during the Quidditch game, he feels no effect at all when he thinks the fake Dementors are real?
Harry's Patronus is later revealed as a stag. At this point, only three people understand its significance; Sirius Black, Professor Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, James Potter's school friends, would recognize the stag as James' Animagus form. Of the three, Lupin is the only one known to be present. Pettigrew is currently probably hiding in Hagrid's hut, and while Sirius has been seen earlier watching Harry play Quidditch, there is no mention of him in this instance.
That Harry can produce a corporeal Patronus in his third year at Hogwarts shows that, if properly motivated, he can perform advanced-level magic. The Patronus charm is normally taught to sixth or seventh-year students. In Harry's fifth year, many students seem awed by Harry's ability to perform this charm. One might wonder why they are surprised, having quite possibly seen the Patronus here on the Quidditch pitch. It is, of course, possible that the students who are most surprised by Harry's ability either were looking at something else and failed to notice the white and misty stag, or if they saw, were unaware what it was.
Later explanation reveals that when Sirius entered Gryffindor Tower, he was actually after Scabbers, who is now missing and presumed killed by Crookshanks. Sirius, it will turn out, learned from an article in the Daily Prophet that Scabbers is Ron's pet, and probably learned from Crookshanks which bed Ron sleeps in. This would explain why Sirius targeted Ron. It is likely that, with Scabbers' apparent demise being so recent, Sirius was unaware of it.
This also explains why Scabbers (Peter Pettigrew) disappeared. While Ron believes Scabbers' haggard appearance was due to Crookshanks' actions, we should recall how poorly he looked when Ron and Hermione met up with Harry in Diagon Alley, which was before Hermione had Crookshanks. Ron purchased the rat tonic at the pet store, feeling Scabbers needed it. That was when Crookshanks first attacked Scabbers, and Hermione bought him. Scabbers' bedraggled appearance actually dates back to Black's escape. Scabbers, overhearing it being discussed in the Weasley household, would have known that Black was headed to Hogwarts. As Black got ever closer to the Gryffindor common room, Scabbers decided it was time to disappear, faking his own death, as he had done before, then departed to a safe location that was still in close proximity to the Wizarding world.
It will be discovered later that Black, in his Animagus form, won Crookshanks' confidence. Crookshanks then stole the password list from Neville, giving it to Black. It is uncertain why Crookshanks was unable to inform Black that Scabbers had disappeared, though as there were only two days between Scabbers' disappearance and Black's attack, it is quite possible that they simply had not had a chance to communicate.
The rift between Ron and Hermione will be mended only by an outside event: Hagrid writing to say that Buckbeak lost his final appeal and is to be executed. The Trio reunite to visit Hagrid, against his instructions, to support and comfort him.
As a side note, it may be worth mention that this is also Harry's first and only game against Ravenclaw. His many adventures throughout the series have resulted in his missing playing against them until this book, and will prevent his playing Ravenclaw again during his school career.
- The shape of Harry's Patronus will be revealed as being the same as the shape of his father's Animagus form. This will provide a link to Harry's father, but will also later prove to be a way of detecting his presence despite his being under the Invisibility Cloak. Harry's being able to produce a corporeal Patronus will also be referred to with some surprise at his Ministry hearing, give him some status in the eyes of the then-nascent Defence Association, and will earn him an extra grade in his Charms O.W.L. exam.
- Cho Chang, seen here for the first time, will become a crush for Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and a love interest in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. As mentioned in the article on Cho Chang's relationships, Harry will need some form of romantic interest, as he matures. Cho will be positioned to provide that interest, and then fall by the wayside to allow Harry to pursue his mission through Harry Potter and the half-Blood Prince without excessive romantic distraction.
Chapter 14: Snape's Grudge
A sleepless night in Gryffindor Tower ensues. At dawn, Professor McGonagall reports that Sirius Black has escaped. Sir Cadogan is sacked and the Fat Lady returns as the guard to the Common room, although she demands extra protection in the form of a squad of security trolls. Every opening into the castle, even ones as small as a mouse hole, are boarded over except, Harry notices, the One-eyed Witch tunnel. Harry and Ron believe that the Dementors in Hogsmeade will prevent Sirius from entering the tunnel in Honeyduke's, and they decide not to report it.
Ron basks in the attention he receives over Black's break-in. But he wonders, when Sirius realized he was not Harry, why did he not permanently silence Ron and go to the next bed? Why did he run? Harry cannot answer.
Hagrid invites Harry and Ron to tea. When they see Hagrid's best suit hanging out, they suddenly remember that Buckbeak's hearing is that Friday, and they are dismayed that they forgot their promise to help with his defense. Hagrid tells them that Hermione is very upset that no one is talking to her, and he reminds them that friends are more important than pet rats or new brooms. Chastised, they return to the castle.
A Hogsmeade visit is scheduled for that weekend, and Harry plans to sneak out, wearing his Invisibility Cloak. Neville and Professor Snape nearly prevent him from getting to the One-eyed Witch passage, but he evades them and meets Ron in Hogsmeade. They visit the Post Office and Zonko's Joke Shop, then head to the Shrieking Shack. While he and Ron are discussing the Shack's reputation as the most haunted building in Britain, Ron is approached by Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. They start insulting Ron, but Harry attacks them. In the fracas, Harry's Invisibility Cloak slips down, revealing his head. Draco panics and runs off, and Harry rushes back to Hogwarts through the secret passage, discarding the Cloak in the tunnel just below the statue of the witch. He exits at the Hogwarts end and closes the passage, but is apprehended by Snape and taken to his office. Snape says Draco reported seeing Harry's head in Hogsmeade, and demands to know what Harry was doing there. Snape reveals that although Harry's father James, once saved his (Snape's) life, it was because he and his friends had played a potentially fatal trick on him. He claims James got cold feet and warned him at the last minute only to protect himself. When Snape orders Harry to turn out his pockets, he finds the Marauder's Map. He demands it reveal its contents, but the Map's four authors, Moony, Prongs, Padfoot, and Wormtail, each respond with an insult. Snape summons Professor Lupin and asks if the map contains Dark Magic. Although Lupin seems taken aback when he sees the map, he responds that it looks like a common joke scroll. Ron bursts in, claiming he bought it at Zonko's ages ago. Lupin says that settles it, and, collecting Ron, Harry, and the map, departs. Lupin sternly tells Harry he knows it is a map, he knew the creators, and that he will not return it to him—not after what happened when someone else left information lying about. He also says the creators would have wanted to lure Harry from the castle, and that risking his life is a poor way to repay his parents for their sacrifice.
As Harry and Ron approach the Gryffindor Common room, they meet Hermione who is almost in tears. She gives them Hagrid's message saying that the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures has ruled that Buckbeak is to be executed.
Hermione reappears after being absent for the better part of two chapters, and readers can see how deeply affected she is by the rift with Ron and Harry. Her feelings are relayed to them through Hagrid, who attempts to patch things up; his efforts seem to produce some small change. However, immediately after Harry and Ron visit Hagrid, Ron savages Hermione after she dares to suggest that it would be irresponsible of Harry to visit Hogsmeade, and might get him into trouble.
Ron's belief that Black is unable to get into Hogwarts through Honeyduke's is likely incorrect. Harry and Ron, aware that Black must have evaded the Dementors earlier to escape Azkaban, and then at least twice more to enter Hogwarts, have apparently lulled themselves into a false sense of security, believing only they (and Hermione and the Twins) know about the tunnel's existence. They are obviously more concerned with keeping the tunnel secret, so Harry can continue to sneak into Hogsmeade, than protecting him from Black.
Lupin's reaction to seeing the Marauder's Map is telling, and it clearly indicates that he immediately knew what it is. He confirms this when he scolds Harry. Although Lupin told Snape it was only a joke shop item, he not only knows it is a map and how to use it, but that it can lead Sirius Black to Harry. Lupin also says he knew the creators, though he gives no additional information about this. While Lupin protects Harry from Snape, knowing Snape would unfairly punish Harry, he is equally angry that Harry's irresponsible behavior could put his own life at risk. Covering for Harry's actions also places Lupin in an awkward position. As a teacher, he must enforce school rules, but he also wants to make sure Harry is treated fairly. He does not completely resolve this, but by retaining the map, and by scolding Harry as he does after they leave Snape's office, he attempts to prevent future occurrences of this sort of rule breaking.
Lupin's words, coming from someone Harry respects and who clearly likes Harry, deeply affect Harry, probably more than anyone else's could, save Dumbledore's. And while Harry realizes his actions were foolish, they are certainly typical for a 13-year-old boy craving a little adventure and wanting to have fun with his friends. Whether Harry is willing to change his behavior remains to be seen, but we can guess that Harry will find it much more difficult to get to Hogsmeade with the map in Lupin's hands. We can also guess that, though thwarted in this particular instance, Snape will continue to monitor Harry to see if Harry attempts to leave the school again.
While Harry could possibly have avoided being caught by Snape by judiciously using the Map and the Cloak when exiting the secret passage, he was panicked and in a rush to get back to his dormitory before Draco could report his appearance in Hogsmeade. Given what we have previously seen, this is a consistent reaction for Harry; at this age, he is still motivated by his immediate emotions, reacting linearly, rather than logically.
- What finally ends Ron and Hermione's feud?
- What happens when Snape attempts to use the Marauder's Map?
- How could the Marauder's Map be dangerous to Harry?
- How could Lupin know so much about the Marauder's Map and how to use it? Why did he cover for Harry?
- Why does Snape often seem to know what Harry has been up to?
- Snape admits James Potter once saved his life. Why is he still resentful towards him and, by extension, Harry?
- Why do Harry and Ron continue to believe that Sirius is not using the tunnel to Honeyduke's to get into the castle? Are they right or wrong?
- If Hermione reported the broom to McGonagall, believing there was a real danger to Harry, why does she say nothing about the tunnel?
Snape summons Lupin to his office by throwing a handful of glittering powder into the fire. This powder is probably similar to Floo powder, though it reacts differently (Snape's fire does not burn green, for instance, nor does Snape have to stick his head into the fireplace to talk to Lupin, he merely has to speak), and it shows another communication method within the Wizarding world. We will see Floo powder used for communication by Amos Diggory and Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and by Sirius and Harry in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; but this particular technique will not be shown again.
Snape's explanation of why he owes James Potter (and, by proxy, Harry) a life debt is offset by his beliefs about the specific events. We have already found out that Lupin, Sirius, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter were all at Hogwarts at the same time; we now also learn that Snape was also at school then. Sirius, knowing that Snape was curious about Lupin's periodic absences, had informed him of the way to enter the passage under the Whomping Willow. This would have left Snape facing a full-grown, transformed Werewolf. James was unaware of the prank until shortly before moonrise, and he rushed to intercept Snape, saving him from a certain death. Snape believes still that the prank was conceived by all four of the group, and remains convinced that James only saved him to protect himself from getting into trouble.
While in Snape's study, Harry suspects that Snape is reading his thoughts; this is the second time he has felt this sensation, and this has actually bothered Harry since his first year at Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry wonders whether Snape has this ability. Although Snape's close inspection of the One-eyed Witch statue earlier in this chapter hints that Snape might have glimpsed the secret tunnel in Harry's mind, Harry did not sense it then. This does tie in with Snape's Legilimency, which we will learn about in a later book.
We will find out later in this book that Lupin, James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew are the Marauders who created the Marauders' Map. It is a little surprising that Snape does not know this, though he seems to have some suspicion that there might be a connection between "Moony" and Lupin. Knowing of this connection, we see a contradiction in what Lupin says to Harry. Lupin tells Harry that the creators of the map would have wanted to lure Harry from the castle, knowing that Harry's father is one of the creators, and yet says that giving in to this temptation would be poor payback for James Potter's sacrifice (among others). This conflict, whilst never explicitly resolved, can be explained. As teenagers at Hogwarts, the four would certainly have delighted in the prospect of Harry using their map to leave the grounds, against school rules. As an adult, Lupin understands the potential consequences of this and therefore warns Harry against it. It is safe to assume the adult James would have agreed. Sirius Black later points out that Harry's refusing to leave the castle and meet up with him in Hogsmeade indicates that Harry has not inherited his father's daring, which leads us to believe that James Potter, as he was in Sirius' memory, would almost certainly expect Harry to use the Marauders' Map to leave the school. Sirius, it seems, does not have the same level of maturity as Remus, possibly from having spent a large part of his young adult life locked up in Azkaban.
- The Marauder's Map, created by James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, was first used earlier in this book to allow Harry to escape into Hogsmeade, and has now been confiscated by Lupin; it will show Lupin, and later Snape, that people are getting into the Shrieking Shack via the tunnel under the Whomping Willow. After it is restored to him, Harry uses it to avoid interception by Peeves and Filch during Harry's fourth year; then, after it is borrowed by Professor Moody, it plays a role in Barty Crouch Jr.'s plot to murder his own father. Harry uses it to avoid detection of Dumbledore's Army, and himself, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It keeps Harry aware of Malfoy's activities in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Finally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry uses the map to gaze at Ginny's name as she attends classes at Hogwarts.
Chapter 15: The Quidditch Final
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are dismayed when Hagrid sends them a message that Buckbeak is to be executed. Hermione finally apologizes to Ron for what Crookshanks did to Scabbers. Ron promises Hermione that he and Harry will work on Buckbeak's final appeal with her. Apparently, all is patched up between them.
With the tight security measures, the only time they can talk to Hagrid is during Care of Magical Creatures class. Hagrid says losing the case was his fault; facing the black-robed committee flustered him, and Lucius Malfoy's presentation was so smooth they simply ruled in his favor. Hagrid starts crying and runs off, causing Draco Malfoy to makes a snide comment. Hermione slaps him across the face; Draco, with his sidekicks in tow, retreats in confusion. Following this, Harry and Ron arrive late for Charms class, and Professor Flitwick reprimands them. As they prepare to learn Cheering Charms, Ron notices that Hermione, who was just behind them, has disappeared. She is not at lunch either, and Harry worries that Draco has done something to her. They find her asleep in the Gryffindor Common room. She wakes up and says Malfoy got her so worked up that she forgot to go to Charms and runs off to apologize to Professor Flitwick. Harry and Ron wonder how she could forget when she was walking behind them as they headed to class.
In Divination, Professor Trelawney is starting crystal ball gazing. She says she has been vouchsafed the information that the crystal ball will be on the exams. Hermione mutters that it is no great prediction considering Trelawney sets the exam. When Trelawney claims to see the Grim in Harry's crystal ball, Hermione protests. When Trelawney suggests that Hermione is insensitive to the Inner Eye, Hermione packs up and leaves, saying she is dropping the course. Parvati and Lavender see this as fulfillment of Trelawney's earlier prediction that at around Easter, "one of our number will leave us forever." Trelawney seems briefly disconcerted at this interpretation.
Easter Holidays start, but few of Harry's classmates are relaxed. The third-years have more homework than ever, and Neville looks like he might break under the load. Hermione has more work than anyone and is first into the library in the morning and last into bed at night. Ron has been working on Buckbeak's appeal in between his homework. Harry is trying to fit homework in between Quidditch practice. They are playing Slytherin, who are leading by 200 points, the Saturday after Easter break. Gryffindor House is obsessed with the match, it being the first time they have been in the running for the Cup since Ron's brother Charlie was Seeker. For Harry, it is a personal conflict between himself and Draco, while Oliver sees it as his last chance to win the Quidditch cup. Tensions are also high in the Slytherin camp. Slytherins try to trip Harry in the hallways and Crabbe and Goyle constantly appear wherever he is, slouching away disappointed when they find him safely amidst chattering Gryffindors.
Waking from a bad dream, Harry looks out his window and sees Crookshanks and a large black dog. He realizes that if Crookshanks can see the dog, then it must be a real animal and not a Grim. Before he can wake Ron to confirm what he is seeing, they have moved out of his view.
The next day is the final Quidditch game against Slytherin. Harry blushes when Cho Chang wishes him luck. The match starts, and it is a dirty game, with Slytherin committing multiple fouls against Gryffindor. Harry cannot catch the Snitch until Gryffindor is more than fifty points up or else Slytherin will win the Cup. He is trying to pay attention to the game and the Snitch. Gryffindor is up by sixty points (largely through penalties). Harry sees the Snitch, but is thwarted by Draco, who holds on to Harry's broom, preventing him from reaching it. Gryffindor lose the advantage because everyone on the team is getting angry at Slytherin's antics. Harry helps Gryffindor regain their lead by blocking the entire Slytherin team, then manages to catch the Snitch, edging out Draco by inches. Gryffindor wins the match and the Cup.
Hermione's evolving character is showing its many facets. Stubborn by nature and never doubting she is right, she finally does admit that Crookshanks was the likely culprit in Scabbers' disappearance, and she apologizes to Ron. However, Ron and Harry have been far too harsh with her, reacting as they did when she turned in Harry's broom; Harry, then ecstatic over his new prize, had refused to consider the real possibility that it could contain Dark magic that could harm or kill him. Harry and Ron also forgot that even though Hermione has often strongly objected to their many rule-breaking activities, she has never before reported them, despite Harry's use of the Marauder's Map, an object that could potentially lead Black to Harry, or inform Black about the One-eyed Witch tunnel. Hermione has even helped them break the rules on occasion, usually against her better judgment. Hermione's ostracism by Harry and Ron lasted four months, even after the return of Harry's broom, due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding Scabbers' disappearance. Hermione is obviously under a tremendous burden from her heavy workload, and it takes little to provoke her, as seen by her reaction to Trelawney and what she considers a bogus subject, and also to Malfoy, who she uncharacteristically slaps across the face for his insulting behavior. Her overall behavior has grown odd, however, such as claiming she "forgot" to go to Charms class when she was clearly walking to the classroom with Ron and Harry before suddenly vanishing. Harry and Ron suspect something unusual is going on that she is withholding, but they have no clue what it could be.
Surprisingly, Malfoy does nothing to retaliate when Hermione slaps him, though Harry initially worries that he has when he and Ron are briefly unable to locate Hermione. Though we don't yet understand Draco completely, it is likely that this is simply showing that he is a stereotypical bully, only fighting those weaker than himself. He does not have a reaction prepared when Hermione attacks him physically, and so has no choice but to retreat. It is also in character for a bully to try and retaliate for public defeat in some more private way, so Harry and Ron's fears for Hermione's safety are reasonable and in character.
Gryffindor's win over Slytherin is a true victory, considering they won it fairly and through their superb Quidditch skills while Slytherin blatantly broke rules and played a dirty match. This appears to be intended as a depiction of how Slytherins operate in general life, succeeding by using whatever methods they can, and taking pride only in what they can obtain, not by achieving anything through hard work or fair play. Draco Malfoy, at this point, particularly embodies these traits, and the expensive brooms that Lucius Malfoy bought the Slytherin Quidditch team (in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) to ensure Draco's recruitment is a typical example.
- Why does Hermione drop her Divination class?
- After Hermione drops Divination, Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil claim Trelawney's earlier prediction that one of their number would leave them forever around Easter has come true. Was the prediction accurate or only a coincidence? Why?
- What does Harry think when he sees Crookshanks and the dog together?
- Why did Hermione slap Draco? Was it deserved?
- What makes Harry blush? Why?
- Why would Crookshanks, a rather unusual cat, be in the company of a large dog?
- Why does Hermione miss Charms class? What is her explanation, and is it believable? What else might this indicate about her?
- What does Slytherin's playing style in the Quidditch match reflect about their character in general?
We had seen earlier that Hermione, given a selection of subjects to take, chose to take them all. Of course, we only see her in the courses that Harry and Ron also take, but we are led to believe that she is taking multiple additional courses with conflicting schedules. At lunch during the first day of school, Hermione remarked that she much preferred Arithmancy to Divination, despite those two classes being taught at the same time. To accomplish this, we will learn that she is using a Time-Turner, a device which allows her to go backwards in time. With it, she is able to attend one class, then step back an hour and attend a different class taught at the same hour, constrained only by never being seen in two places simultaneously. As a result, she initially takes twelve subjects, double the normal work load. As the year has worn on, though, the strain has taken a serious toll. Her days must be inordinately long, and she is likely sleep deprived. We see this here, where she very uncharacteristically slaps Draco, and she forgets to go to a class — presumably, she has a pattern in which she interleaves her classes with study in the common room, and the altercation with Draco has caused her to lose track. Additionally, there is little opportunity for her to use the Time-Turner to get extra study time during the Easter break. As she is seen to enter the library early in the day, and leave late at night, the only place she can be is in the library. Thus she cannot use the time-turner to grant herself extra study time, and so she has less time than she thinks she needs to study the eleven subjects she is still taking.
The large dog which has been appearing to Harry is real, if not exactly a dog. It is actually Sirius Black in his Animagus form. Sirius will remark later that it had been hard for him to gain Crookshanks' trust, and we will also learn that Crookshanks had proven invaluable to Sirius in his attempts to enter Gryffindor tower.
The Patronus charm requires a happy memory to drive it. Harry's victory in this Quidditch match will give him an extremely strong happy memory that he will use as the foundation for Patronus charms in the future.
Chapter 16: Professor Trelawney's Prediction
It is late May, and exams are looming. Harry and Ron see that Hermione has two exams scheduled for Monday morning and two for Monday afternoon. When Harry asks if there is any chance of an explanation as to how Hermione expects to sit two exams at once, Hermione cheerfully says, "No," then looks for her Ancient Runes book. Hedwig delivers a note from Hagrid: Buckbeak's appeal is 6 June, the day of their last exam, and it will be at the school. A committee Wizard and an executioner will attend, so it appears to Harry that the committee's decision is already made. Ron is dismayed over the wasted work he has done on the appeal. Draco, who lost some of his usual swagger after Slytherin's Quidditch defeat, appears to be getting it back. Worse, the tight security has made it impossible to visit Hagrid, and Harry has not yet dared to retrieve the Invisibility Cloak from the One-Eyed Witch tunnel, because of Professor Snape.
Exams begin, and they are as rough as expected. In Transfiguration, students had to transfigure a teapot into a tortoise, which most found difficult. In Charms, they were tested on Cheering Charms, the one class Hermione missed. Tuesday's Care of Magical Creatures was a simple exam; they only had to keep Flobberworms alive for one hour. Harry, Ron, and Hermione use this time to exchange a few words with Hagrid, who says Buckbeak is tired of being penned up. It will be several days before the appeal. The Potions exam goes poorly; Snape apparently gives Harry a zero. Astronomy is Tuesday at midnight, History of Magic Wednesday morning, and Herbology is Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning is Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Professor Lupin has set them a practical test: students have to wade across a deep pool containing a Grindylow, cross a series of potholes containing Red Caps, cross a stretch of marshland while avoiding being distracted by a Hinkypunk, then climb into an armoire to battle a Boggart. Harry gets a perfect score, but Ron is distracted and led astray by the Hinkypunk. Hermione is unable to defeat the Boggart who appears as Professor McGonagall telling her she has failed every subject.
Heading back, they run into the Minister for Magic on the castle steps. Fudge says he is there for a very sad duty—witnessing the execution of a dangerous animal. Ron protests that the Hippogriff might be exonerated, but before Fudge can answer, he is joined by a testy old Wizard and a tall, strapping man carrying a large axe. Convinced the appeal is a mockery, Ron starts to say something, but Hermione drags him away to protect Mr. Weasley's job.
After lunch, Harry and Ron have their Divination exam, while Hermione has Muggle Studies. Professor Trelawney examines students individually. Harry, examined last, pretends to see a Hippogriff in the crystal ball and claims it is flying away. As Trelawney dismisses him, she suddenly enters into a trance and speaks in a strange voice: "It will happen tonight. 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 his master. The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant's aid, greater and more terrible than ever before. Tonight... before midnight... the servant... will set out... to rejoin... his master..." Suddenly awakening, Trelawney is unaware of what she has just said, and chastises Harry for repeating it to her.
Uncertain if Trelawney was merely adding melodrama to the exam or experiencing a real prediction, Harry heads back to the common room. Before he can share what Trelawney predicted, Ron and Hermione tell him Hagrid sent a note: Buckbeak lost the appeal and will be executed at sunset. Hagrid orders the Trio to stay away. Harry bemoans that his Invisibility Cloak is still in the One-eyed Witch tunnel, otherwise they could visit Hagrid. However, if Snape catches Harry anywhere near there, he will be expelled. Hermione dashes off, returning shortly with the Cloak.
Donning the Invisibility Cloak, the three head to Hagrid's hut. A distraught Hagrid says Macnair, the executioner, is Lucius Malfoy's friend, but at least the end will be quick and clean. Professor Dumbledore is also coming to support Hagrid. Says Hagrid, "Great man, Dumbledore." Fetching a pitcher, Hermione discovers Scabbers hiding inside. Scabbers seems frantic to remain hidden, trying to climb back into the milk jug, even as Ron grabs him. Hagrid spots the execution committee coming and shoos Harry, Ron, and Hermione out the back door. As they head to the castle under the Invisibility Cloak, Scabbers makes another bid for freedom. As Ron tries to contain him, they hear the swish and thud of the executioner's falling axe.
Once again, Hermione's attendance at multiple classes is called into focus and promptly shunted aside by something of apparently greater importance. This is the first time that Hermione has directly refused to explain, rather than diverting the question, and thus the first time that she is admitting that there is some validity to Harry's belief that she is attending multiple classes at the same time. Even so, the message from Hagrid arrives before we are given time to think about this, and so any speculation about Hermione's apparent ability to be in two places at one time is short-circuited.
Trelawney's prediction leaves Harry stunned and confused, unsure whether what he has just heard was mere melodrama or a true prophecy. It should be remembered that Trelawney has a poor record for making accurate predictions, though her lapsing into a trance, speaking in an eerie voice, and having no memory about what she just predicted is uncharacteristic. This prophecy may be genuine. There is also no indication as to who Voldemort's servant may be, but the obvious assumption is that it is Sirius Black. Harry can only wait and let events unfold; the prediction, if real, is that events will happen before midnight, far too short a time for Harry to consult with others to try and determine its meaning.
Ron shows a surprising side to his character here, reflecting a budding maturity that has been relatively unseen until this book, though he still has far to go before reaching adulthood. Previously, he wisely counseled Harry to heed his friends' advice, rather than listen to his enemies. Upon hearing Buckbeak's fate, he vocally opposes the Ministry's actions directly to Fudge, outraged over an obvious injustice that is being inflicted on innocent victims. Only Hermione's intervention prevents him from saying more and possibly damaging his father's position within the Ministry. For once, Ron not only speaks out against something he believes is wrong, but also expresses compassion for others. Though usually showing little concern regarding matters unrelated to himself, Ron here steps outside himself, and he is certainly correct that Buckbeak's execution is a mockery, one that has been orchestrated by the malicious Mr. Malfoy purely from spite.
It is perhaps worth noting that Ron has jumped to a conclusion here. The presence of the executioner does not mean that the appeal is a foregone conclusion. Contrary to the US system in which inmates can be kept on Death Row for extended periods, the English system does not keep the condemned prisoner alive for an extended time after final appeals have been exhausted. Buckbeak has one remaining shot at an appeal, and if that fails, it is a mercy to have the execution done quickly to eliminate a long period of anticipation. It is not, strictly speaking, necessary, given the efficient Wizarding transportation network, to have all three members of the Committee arrive at the same time; the executioner could be summoned only after the appeal fails, of course. The executioner's appearance here is largely for dramatic effect, though Fudge's arrival seems somehow forced. Perhaps Fudge is supervising as a favour to Lucius Malfoy, and to the voting bloc that he seems to informally represent.
Hermione, meanwhile, has come face-to-face with her greatest fear: failing all her classes. She does, however, show courage and loyalty when she unhesitatingly retrieves Harry's Invisibility Cloak, knowing that, if caught, she could be disciplined and lose House points for helping him. She further shows her loyalty by accompanying Ron and Harry to Hagrid's hut to comfort him during this difficult time.
- What happens during Trelawney's Divination final exam? What might it mean?
- Who retrieves Harry's Invisibility Cloak and why?
- Scabbers vanished in April, and it is now early June. Why did he remain hidden in Hagrid's hut all this time? Why does he try to escape again?
- How is Trelawney's prophecy different from her usual ones?
- What might Trelawney's prediction mean?
- Who is Voldemort's servant mentioned in the prediction?
- Why was an execution party sent before the appeal had been decided? Who is behind this and why?
- What prompts Ron, who rarely has an opinion about anything unrelated to himself, to stand up to Fudge? Why does Hermione drag Ron away?
- How has Ron's character changed since we first met him?
Although Harry's fabricated prediction that Buckbeak flies safely away is wishful thinking on his part, it actually foreshadows events in the book's conclusion. It is perhaps lucky that Harry is aware that he is making this up; if he had been a little less sure of himself, he might have thought that he had a touch of the Talent.
Trelawney's strange pronouncement is a true Prophecy, and Dumbledore later tells us that it is the second genuine one that he is aware of. The first concerned Harry and Voldemort, and occurred while she was being interviewed for the Divination position by Dumbledore. It is apparently on the strength of that first prophecy that Dumbledore has kept her on staff; this second one will surely bolster that decision. Otherwise, it would seem that he shares the staff's general opinion that Divination is purest flummery, hardly deserving a place at Hogwarts.
The reader may believe that this is a true prophecy; it is certainly delivered in a convincing manner. If so, the reader will be misled by the belief that Black is the Dark Lord's servant. It is true that Black, imprisoned in Azkaban, could be said to be chained "these past twelve years", except that he has by now been free for almost a year. Despite the various bits of foreshadowing — the Sneakoscope, the revelation of the Animagus transform, Black's attack on Ron, and Crookshanks' repeated attacks on Scabbers — we are somehow unable to predict that Scabbers will be unmasked as the Animagus form of Peter Pettigrew.
The Invisibility Cloak has lain, undiscovered, in the secret passage leading from Hogwarts to Hogsmeade after Harry was forced to abandon it there in mid-April. It remained there until early June, when Hermione went to retrieve it. We know that Black was in the school on the night after the match against Ravenclaw, before the Cloak is dropped in the passage, and Harry sees him in his Animagus form the night before the Slytherin match, after it had been left. Did Black enter the school via that passage? If so, did he pass by the Cloak, and, recognizing it as once belonging to James Potter, leave it aside? Or did he use another means to get into Hogwarts? The author never clarifies this point, but it is quite possible that Black opened a boarded-up window in the Shrieking Shack, and is using the tunnel under the Whomping Willow to enter the school grounds. It would appear that this route is less dangerous for Black, in either of his forms, than the route through Honeyduke's.
- This is the first time we have seen a true Prophecy from Trelawney. We will discover that Trelawney had been hired almost entirely because of an earlier prediction, which will see in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It will turn out that this earlier prophecy drives most of the action of the entire series. When the Ministry claims power over the hiring and firing of Hogwarts teachers, and then fires Trelawney, in that same book, Professor Dumbledore acts to keep her at Hogwarts despite her dismissal. This is apparently because Voldemort is then actively seeking the full text of the original Prophecy, and Dumbledore believes that Trelawney's life is not safe if she leaves the school.
- The form which Trelawney's prophecy takes is important. Note that the start of the prophecy is repeated; thus, a person who only hears the end of the prophecy actually only hears the beginning of it. It will turn out that this pattern also appears in the only other prophecy of Trelawney's that we hear. At the time we hear that prophecy, Professor Dumbledore will state that Voldemort had only heard the beginning of the prophecy, and was desperate to find out the rest of it. We will later discover that Voldemort's informant had been present only at the end of the prophecy. This is certainly easier to believe than that he was present during the first part of the prophecy and somehow bundled off, without disturbing Trelawney and breaking her trance, or having the audience lose the gist of her speech.
Chapter 17: Cat, Rat and Dog
Still hiding under the Invisibility Cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione debate whether to return to comfort Hagrid, eventually deciding to proceed to the castle. Scabbers bites Ron, who struggles to hold him. Harry spots Crookshanks approaching, apparently homing in on Scabbers' squeaks. Scabbers escapes, with Crookshanks in hot pursuit. Ron goes after Scabbers, and Harry and Hermione fling off the Cloak and chase after him. Ron catches Scabbers, but a large black dog appears, knocking Harry aside and grabbing Ron. The dog drags Ron into a hole under the roots of the Whomping Willow, breaking Ron's leg. Harry, trying to follow, is struck by one of the Willow's flailing branches.
Crookshanks dives under the branches and presses a knot in the tree trunk. The branches fall still; following Ron and the black dog, Harry and Hermione enter a tunnel that leads to the Shrieking Shack. Upstairs, Ron, lying beside a decrepit four-poster bed, warns them it is a trap; the dog is Sirius Black, an Animagus. Black disarms Harry and Hermione with Ron's wand.
Sirius remarks he is glad Harry acted like his father, coming to save his friend rather than running for help; that makes things easier. Ron says Black will have to kill them all, not just Harry, but Black responds there will only be one murder tonight. Harry demands to know if killing twelve Muggles plus Peter Pettigrew were not enough and lunges at the visibly weakened Black, grabbing his wand wrist. Black chokes Harry with his free hand. Hermione kicks Black while Ron grabs his wand hand. Despite Crookshanks clawing at his hand, Harry recovers his wand, which is rolling free, while Hermione grabs her own wand and Ron's. Defenseless, Black asks if Harry is going to kill him. Harry says he knows Black betrayed his parents to Voldemort. Black admits he was responsible but there is more to the story. As Harry decides whether or not to listen, Crookshanks deliberately sits on Black's chest, resisting Black's efforts to remove him.
Professor Lupin suddenly bursts in and disarms Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and asks, "Where is he?" Black points at Ron. Lupin demands, "Why hasn't he shown himself? Unless... you switched... and didn't tell me?" Black nods. Lupin pulls Black to his feet, embracing him. Hermione, sounding betrayed, tells Lupin that she trusted him and protected his secret that he is a Werewolf. Lupin admits that he is a Werewolf, but he has not been helping Black, nor does he want Harry dead. The Hogwarts staff knows he is a Werewolf; Professor Dumbledore convinced them he was trustworthy. Professor Snape set the Werewolf assignment with the expectation that a student would detect Lupin and give away his secret.
Lupin returns the Trio's wands, placing his own wand in his belt, and asks the Trio to listen. Lupin saw Black's name on the Marauder's Map, a map Lupin helped create when he was a student. Lupin is "Moony." He saw someone on the map with the Trio. Lupin and Black claim Scabbers is actually a Wizard Animagus: Peter Pettigrew.
Harry, shocked by Lupin's apparent betrayal and overwhelmed by extreme emotions, is thinking and reacting illogically. He initially wants to execute Black, who even admits he was responsible for the Potters' deaths, though Black's demeanor and concern over Ron's injury belie his supposedly murderous intent. However, Lupin's timely and surprising arrival prevents Harry from harming Black, although it is doubtful whether Harry would intentionally kill or seriously wound him. Harry's underlying humanity ultimately prohibits him from performing violent acts, even against his enemies, unless it is to protect others. Only after Harry is forced to calm down is he willing to hear out Lupin, though Lupin's explanation that Scabbers is actually an Animagus Wizard seems too incredible to be believed.
Hermione also feels betrayed, having trusted Lupin and protecting his secret. If Lupin is lying and was actually aiding Black, by remaining silent, Hermione may have unwittingly doomed Harry. Lupin denies this, but given what is known about Black, we are having as hard a time believing this as Hermione, Harry, and Ron are.
Lupin's returning the Trio's wands, and then placing his own wand in his belt, is probably about the only thing that could have at least temporarily defused the situation; it shows that Lupin is secure enough in his own position that he believes himself able to convince he Trio by what he has to say, and believes that he will have no need to duel to make his points. By making himself effectively defenceless, he ensures that he will not be attacked until he is heard. This may, however, have repercussions later.
It has been noted multiple times that there were four Marauders, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. The revelation that Lupin, under his nickname Moony, is a Marauder, may lead the reader to suspect that Black, Harry's father, James, and Pettigrew, who we had earlier discovered were school friends, may be the other three. We don't yet understand the derivation of these nicknames, however.
Now that Black's Animagus form is known to be a large black canine, we may also wonder if he was the same dog that Harry saw near Privet Drive earlier, and during the Quidditch match against Hufflepuff, that he mistook for a Grim. If he was, and the author's economical writing style seems to imply that, just what was Black's true intent if he was not planning to murder Harry?
- What does Black mean when he says he is glad Harry acted like his father?
- What did Lupin, Pettigrew, and Black keep secret about themselves? Why?
- Why did Hermione never reveal Lupin's secret? How did she discover it?
- Lupin knew Black and Pettigrew were in the Shrieking Shack by using the Marauder's Map. How could he know how to use it?
- Why would Crookshanks attack Harry when he reaches for his wand, and why does he sit on Sirius' chest, refusing to be moved?
- Would Harry have killed Black if Lupin had not intervened? Explain why he would or would not have.
- How does Crookshanks know how to still the Whomping Willow?
- What might Lupin mean when he asks if Black "switched?"
As is usual in the Potter series, the book's climax ties up many plot elements, while also leaving questions open for future books. Rather than neatly wrapping up every significant revelation in a single chapter, the story-closing summations instead span three, and the principal characters' activities during this period take three more. The essential revelations are so dense that six chapters, about one third of the 22-chapter book, actually only cover a four-hour period in the story's overall timeline, though in fact three hours of that stretch are covered twice.
We have been told in this chapter that Sirius Black never intended to murder Harry, though this still seems doubtful; that Lupin also now believes Black never intended to harm Harry; that Lupin is a Werewolf and Hermione knew this; and that Peter Pettigrew, thought long dead, is actually alive in the form of Scabbers. The sudden change of perspective that this forces on us almost beggars belief; Harry clearly cannot believe it, and the reader also has difficulty with it, but every point will be corroborated in the next two chapters, not only by Black and Lupin, but also inadvertently by Snape. We will find that Black was convicted and imprisoned for a crime he never committed, and that Black feels responsible for Harry's parents' deaths, though he never betrayed them. Pettigrew being forced to resume his human shape will prove that Black did not murder him, which suggests strongly that the Muggles who died in that incident were killed by Pettigrew.
At Christmas, it was revealed that Black was Harry's godfather, and we will find that he has retained his affection for his godson. While Black was imprisoned, he wanted to know how Harry had grown up, and, after his escape, went to Privet Drive to try and glimpse Harry. He was at the Quidditch match to watch how well Harry could fly. On both occasions, he was in his Animagus form, the shape that Harry had believed to be a Grim. He was also in his Animagus shape the night that Harry saw him with Crookshanks.
In future books, it will turn out that Sirius becomes a large part of Harry's life. If there is any truth behind the smoke-and-mirrors fortune-telling that occurs in Professor Trelawney's Divination class, perhaps the putative Grim that Trelawney repeatedly finds in Harry's future is actually Sirius.
Scabbers is curiously intent on escaping, starting in the previous chapter where he seems to be trying to return to the concealment of the milk jug where Hermione had found him, to the point here where he manages to escape Ron's grip. Once we know who Scabbers really is, of course, his attempts to escape seem only logical; he is deathly afraid of being discovered by Sirius, who he had falsely accused of James', Lily's, and Pettigrew's death. It is a testament to the author's skill that the action of this chapter keeps us from wondering too much about why Scabbers is trying to escape.
- The Marauder's Map, created by James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, was first used earlier in this book to allow Harry to escape into Hogsmeade, and was later confiscated by Lupin; it has just shown Lupin, and will shortly show Snape, that people are getting into the Shrieking Shack via the tunnel under the Whomping Willow. After it is restored to him, Harry uses it to avoid interception by Peeves and Filch during Harry's fourth year; then, after it is borrowed by Professor Moody, it plays a role in Barty Crouch Jr.'s plot to murder his own father. Harry uses it to avoid detection of Dumbledore's Army, and himself, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It keeps Harry aware of Malfoy's activities in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Finally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry uses the map to gaze at Ginny's name as she attends classes at Hogwarts.
Chapter 18: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Harry, Ron, and Hermione insist Lupin and Black must be crazy. Scabbers could not be Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black murdered him twelve years ago. Black says he did try to kill Pettigrew, but, unknown to him, Peter escaped. Black lunges at Scabbers. Ron, still clutching Scabbers, yells in pain when his injured leg is jostled. Lupin insists that Harry must understand everything before Pettigrew dies. Black acquiesces, but demands Lupin be quick, he wants to commit the murder for which he was imprisoned. When Ron reminds Black there were witnesses who saw him kill Pettigrew and the Muggles, Black contends they were fooled. Hermione points out that Pettigrew is not listed among the seven registered Animagi. Lupin claims there were three unregistered Animagi running around Hogwarts.
Ron, noting a door apparently opening by itself, says he believes the Shrieking Shack is haunted, but Lupin claims it is not. The howls the villagers heard were his, not Ghosts. Before there was a potion to allow a Werewolf to retain his mind, the Shrieking Shack was built specifically to confine Lupin during his transformations. The Whomping Willow was planted to guard the tunnel leading to the shack. Terrible as the transformations were, Lupin did have three great friends: Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter. After discovering he was a Werewolf, rather than shunning their friend, they secretly became Animagi to support him. It took them three years to learn how, perfecting it in their fifth year. James and Black learned on their own, but Pettigrew needed their help. When transformed, they could safely run with Lupin in the Forbidden Forest. Sirius and James were large enough to keep a Werewolf in check, though there were near misses. Their Animagus forms determined their nicknames; Black was Padfoot, James was Prongs. Pettigrew, the rat, was Wormtail.
Harry asks what animal his father was, but Hermione interrupts, saying it was dangerous to allow a Werewolf to run free. Lupin admits it was, but they were young and uncaring. Lupin regrets never telling Dumbledore that Black is an Animagus, but says he was ashamed to admit that he betrayed Dumbledore's trust by roaming the village as a Werewolf. Lupin says that he believed Black was serving Voldemort and convinced himself that Black used Dark Magic to enter the castle, rather than his Animagus form. He confesses that Snape was partially right, that by remaining silent, he was aiding Black. Black demands to know how Snape is involved, and Lupin explains that Snape is now a Hogwarts teacher. He tells the Trio that Black once tricked Snape, who had become curious about Lupin's monthly disappearances. Black told him about the Whomping Willow and how to get into the tunnel. It was James' last-minute intervention that saved Snape from meeting the deadly Werewolf that Lupin had transformed into. Dumbledore had, of course, forbidden Snape from revealing anything about Lupin's condition.
Says Harry, "So that's why Snape hates you." Behind Lupin, pulling off the Invisibility Cloak, Snape replies, "That's right."
Many questions are answered, but Harry is barely able to digest what is happening. Nothing is what it seemed, and Harry had become so entrenched in his belief that Sirius Black was guilty that he is barely able to consider any other explanation. The revelations concerning Lupin's and Pettigrew's roles only add further confusion. Regardless, Harry learns much about his father and his comrades that he never knew before, and gains some insight into Snape's animosity towards him and James Potter.
There have been few Animagi; presumably, mastering the ability is too difficult a feat for most Wizards, and it is mentioned here that Pettigrew succeeded only because James Potter and Sirius Black coached him. Being an Animagus is certainly a useful ability, though it is a skill that can also be used for unethical and illegal purposes. That is why all Animagus Wizards must be registered with the Ministry of Magic, failing to do so is a serious crime. That obviously never deterred James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew, whose solidarity for their friend, Remus Lupin, outweighed any legal concerns. Of the four Marauders, Pettigrew was the weakest - physically, intellectually, and magically lagging behind the others in ability.
A minor note on timing may be of interest here. It is at the beginning of this book, Harry's third year, that we, and Harry, are introduced to the Animagus transform. Lupin says here that James and Sirius had mastered the technique after three years, performing it in their fifth year; this would indicate that they had started their research immediately upon learning of the transformation and had then taken somewhat less than three years to manage it themselves. It is possible that James and Sirius knew of the transformation before it was taught to them, but it is a very rare skill, we are told. This also means that James and Sirius had learned of Lupin's werewolf nature sometime within their first two years at Hogwarts.
The door opening, apparently by itself, prompting Ron to comment that the Shrieking Shack is haunted, should be noted. It is reasonably clear that this is when Snape, under Harry's Invisibility Cloak, entered the room, though it is entirely possible that he had been listening from outside. Thus, he will certainly have heard that the Marauders were Animagi, but may have missed that Scabbers is Pettigrew, or, being Snape, he may simply refuse to believe it. In one of the bits of misdirection that the author is good at, our curiosity about the door is promptly overshadowed by Lupin's ongoing revelations. One wonders why Lupin and Sirius don't seem concerned about the door; but we should note that neither of them yet knows about Harry's Invisibility Cloak, and as such things are quite rare, in their minds it is probably much more likely that the door moving was due to the Shack settling than by someone (Snape) spying on them invisibly.
- Why did Sirius Black, James Potter, and Peter Pettigrew become unregistered Animagi? How did they achieve this?
- What do Lupin and Black reveal about "Scabbers"?
- Why does Black want to kill Pettigrew?
- Why was the Shrieking Shack built? Is it haunted?
- What is Severus Snape's past connection to Black, Lupin, Pettigrew, and James Potter?
- What might James Potter's nickname (Prongs) indicate about his Animagus animal shape?
- Why have there been so few Animagi in Wizarding history?
- Why do all Wizard Animagi have to be registered with the Ministry of Magic?
- Although Lupin had always believed Black was guilty, why did he never reveal Black's secret Animagus ability?
An Animagus is unable to choose his animal shape; rather, it reflects that person's inner character. The rat form certainly will seem appropriate for Pettigrew (Wormtail), representing that animal's less desirable traits, while Sirius' (Padfoot) dog shape emphasizes amity, courage, and fidelity. It should be noted that in the Western world, the rat is generally associated with unsavory characteristics such as cowardice, treachery, deceit, and filth. However, in other cultures it can represent admirable qualities, and in the Chinese Zodiac the rat symbolizes intelligence, adaptability, and industriousness. Rowling is using the Western characterization here, though some Eastern characteristics could also apply to Pettigrew including edginess, shrewdness, and opportunism, traits often associated with Slytherin. Why the Sorting Hat placed Pettigrew into Gryffindor is a mysterious decision and is never explained; Slytherin would seem more appropriate. However, that Pettigrew was able to become an Animagus at all may indicate that he has some noteworthy magical ability, though bravery, loyalty, and nobility, Gryffindor traits, hardly seem to be among his attributes.
"Prongs" refers to James Potter's Animagus form, a stag. Interestingly, it is the same shape as Harry's fully-formed Patronus. This is why Lupin was so shaken after the Quidditch match with Ravenclaw in a previous chapter, recognizing it as James' Animagus shape. With the possible exception of Black, who had been present at an earlier match and might have managed to see this one, and perhaps the supposedly missing Scabbers (Pettigrew), nobody else present could have understood the shape's significance. Harry, busy catching the Snitch, is unable to see it himself, thus missing the vital clue as to what James' nickname might refer to. In this chapter, we see that Harry asks what his father's Animagus' shape was, but Hermione inconveniently interrupts before we are given an answer. This is another example of the use of timing and misdirection which the author excels at; while the question is not answered, somehow the fact that it has been asked seems sufficient, given the flow of events.
Much of Ron's reluctance to accept that Scabbers may actually be Pettigrew is likely denial on his part. If Scabbers is Pettigrew, then Ron has been sharing his bed, unknowingly, with a grown man for the past three years at least. This prospect, horrifying for Ron to contemplate, is something he is eventually unable to deny.
Harry is also reluctant to accept what is being revealed, which perhaps stems from the commonly shared belief that Sirius betrayed his parents. He is, however, being convinced by Lupin and Black's precise recounting of events, aided by his personal trust in Lupin. Snape's appearance will actually bolster Black's account as Snape rejects everything Lupin and Black claim, even those events that are immediately provable. Harry's distrust of Snape, combined with Snape's attempted refutation, will do more than anything to convince Harry that Black's intentions are good.
It is mentioned that Pettigrew's inclusion in the Marauders seems odd. The other three befriended Pettigrew because he ingratiated himself into their circle, and presumably because he was able to think up interesting mischief for them to do. We will see later that the Marauders, with the possible exception of Lupin, were more than mischievous, and that aspect of Pettigrew's personality may have appealed to them. Pettigrew's weak, cowardly character eventually resulted in his defecting to Voldemort and betraying his friends.
As mentioned, based on what has been revealed since he entered the room under the Invisibility Cloak, Snape will have heard that the Marauders are Animagi, but not Black's and Lupin's claim that Pettigrew is alive as Scabbers. However, this hardly seems germane to Snape, and, in the next chapter, Snape forms his own theory about what happened, acting on those ideas, and literally stifling any dissent.
Chapter 19: The Servant of Lord Voldemort
Snape had found Harry's Invisibility Cloak by the Whomping Willow. He was bringing Lupin his Wolfsbane potion when he noticed a very interesting map on Lupin's desk that confirmed his suspicion Lupin was helping Black. Snape magically binds Lupin before he can explain, then insists everyone return to the castle so he can have a word with the Dementors. Harry blocks the door, demanding Snape listen. When Snape refuses, Harry disarms him, helped by Ron and, surprisingly, Hermione. Their triple-force spell tosses Snape against the wall and knocks him out.
Harry still doubts Lupin's story. Lupin makes Ron hand over Scabbers, though Ron protests that even if Peter Pettigrew assumes a rat form, why would it be Scabbers? Black explains that when Fudge visited him at Azkaban, he gave him the newspaper containing the Weasley family photograph. Black recognized Pettigrew (as Scabbers) in the photo by his missing toe. Pettigrew severed his finger before killing the Muggles, then, shouting that Black murdered James and Lily for bystanders to hear, Pettigrew blew up the street. Amid the chaos, he transformed, disappearing into the sewer, his severed finger left behind as evidence he was dead. Lupin points out that Scabbers has been in the Weasley family for twelve years, whereas a common rat lives only three or four. Lupin observes that Scabbers is looking unwell, though Ron claims it is stress caused by "that mad cat" going after him all the time. Harry figures differently: Scabbers was already looking ill in Diagon Alley, and before Hermione bought Crookshanks, presumably because he had heard about Black's escape.
Crookshanks recognized Pettigrew for what he was. He had also spotted Black and initially distrusted him, but helped him once he understood what Black's purpose was. Unable to bring Scabbers to Sirius, Crookshanks stole Neville's password list and later told Black that Scabbers had vanished, leaving blood and hairs on Ron's sheets. Black believed Peter had gone into hiding again; after all, appearing dead had worked once before.
Just as Black is about to kill Pettigrew, Harry says Black was his parents' Secret-Keeper and he betrayed them. Black claims he was responsible for their deaths, but was not the Secret-Keeper; he had persuaded James and Lily to switch Secret-Keepers, using Pettigrew rather than him, believing no one would suspect a weak wizard like Pettigrew. When Black checked on Pettigrew's hiding place and found him missing without any apparent struggle, he feared something had happened. He went to Godric's Hollow, and finding James and Lily's bodies amid their destroyed house, realized Pettigrew betrayed the Potters to Voldemort.
Lupin calls a halt, and he and Black cast a spell that transforms Scabbers into a human: a short man with vaguely rat-like features, colorless hair, and a large bald spot—it is Peter Pettigrew. When Lupin demands an explanation about the night James and Lily died, Pettigrew feebly claims he faked his death because he feared Black, after betraying the Potters, would also come after him, and he possessed powers that "He Who Must Not Be Named" taught him. Black responds that Voldemort's followers are unhappy with Pettigrew, that Voldemort went to the Potters' on Pettigrew's information and died there. Black says that his fellow prisoners, the Death Eaters in Azkaban, think Pettigrew double-crossed Voldemort; many others are still at large, and probably believe the same. Lupin asks why an innocent man would stay hidden for twelve years. Pettigrew claims he was scared because he put Voldemort's top lieutenant, Sirius Black, in Azkaban. Sirius angrily reminds Pettigrew that he (Pettigrew) was the Potter's Secret-Keeper. Pettigrew says that his not harming Harry during the previous three years is proof that he's not a Death Eater. Black counters that Pettigrew never harmed Harry because he would never risk acting on Voldemort's behalf unless he knew Voldemort could protect him.
Black kept his sanity in Azkaban by changing into a dog when things became unbearable. A dog's simpler thoughts are less affected by the Dementors than a human's. Dementors are blind and were unable to detect him transforming. Instead, they sense and navigate towards emotions. When Black recognized Pettigrew's Animagus form in the photograph, he vowed to expose the traitor. As a dog, he was able to evade the Dementors during his escape. He journeyed north to Hogwarts and lived in the Forbidden Forest, emerging to watch the Quidditch matches.
Harry is finally convinced that Black is innocent. Pettigrew's pleas for mercy are ignored, and he admits to serving the Dark Lord, because Voldemort would have killed him if he resisted. Black says he should have died for his friends, as they would have done for him. Lupin and Black prepare to execute Peter, but Harry intervenes to protect his father's two best friends from becoming murderers; Pettigrew will be turned over to the Dementors. Black and Lupin relent, and Lupin binds Pettigrew and splints Ron's leg. Black warns Pettigrew that if he transforms, he will kill him. Lupin charms the unconscious Snape to float along with them. Black suggests having two people chained to Pettigrew to prevent him escaping. Lupin and Ron volunteer, and Black, using Snape's wand, conjures manacles. With Crookshanks leading, they return to the tunnel.
Harry is awash in turmoil as he attempts to sort out who is telling the truth. His emotions can rule his actions, and he often acts on them without considering all facts, but now he listens to each person's story. Until then, he was single-mindedly determined to kill Sirius Black to avenge his parents, disregarding any consequences. However, Harry's already admirable character quickly takes another leap forward here. After the initial shock and confusion, Harry swiftly regains his composure, and by logically analyzing the situation, realizes the probable outcome: if Lupin and Black kill Pettigrew, even to avenge the Potters, they will be convicted as murderers. He acts quickly to prevent them from executing Pettigrew, protecting both them and the truth by keeping Pettigrew alive. He will allow justice to properly deal with Pettigrew. For once, it is the student guiding the teacher.
In Chapter 13, it was believed that Neville lost the password list and Sirius Black found it. In fact, Crookshanks stole it from Neville at Sirius' request. Granted, losing the list is something Neville would likely do, and it is debatable whether or not he should even have made and carried such a list despite his poor memory, but it appears that he was punished for an act that was only partially his fault. This point actually merits some study as an instance of the meticulous planning the author applied to her plotting. Sirius must get into the dormitory, but he cannot do so without the password, even in his dog shape. Nobody can be helping Sirius, so he cannot be given the password, he must steal it. It makes sense that it could be most easily stolen if it was written down, and Neville has a history (from the first book) of losing passwords, so he would be the most likely person to have a written copy. The Fat Lady, however, is not in the habit of changing passwords, so Neville can't be expected, as late in the year as when the list was stolen, to have forgotten the password. So we have to evict the Fat Lady and put a more paranoid guardian on the Gryffindor Tower portal, one who can be expected to change passwords frequently enough to catch Neville off guard. Crookshanks, of course, plays a role as the agent of this theft, but is not central to it; he was brought in largely to disguise Scabbers' ongoing stress-related illness.
It is not explained how Crookshanks left Gryffindor Tower with the password list unobserved. However, we do note that Crookshanks seems to be able to pass freely between the Tower and outdoors. Given the toileting needs of cats, and their long association in the Muggle world with witches, it is not unreasonable to suspect the existence of a magical "cat door" that provides direct access to the grounds from Gryffindor tower, keyed specifically to cats. The list of allowable pets in the first book, does not mention cats as being allowed; that may be a first-year restriction only, like brooms. We do note that no other Gryffindor student seems to have a cat as a pet.
Snape here has quite clearly decided what the truth is, and, rejecting any explanation that might destroy his "understanding," has bound and gagged both Sirius and Lupin. While Harry does not yet fully believe Black's story, he is certain Lupin is trustworthy, and resists Snape's stubborn refusal to even listen to Lupin. While Ron joining Harry in this rebellion is expected, it is surprising to everyone, including herself, that Hermione also participates.
This would appear to be the first time that we see two or more wizards combining their efforts to produce a single spell. The apparent effect is to increase the power of the spell, and in the first case, the Trio jinxing Snape, the additional power is unexpected to any of the participants. In the second case, Lupin and Black combining forces to transform Scabbers into Pettigrew, the additional force may be necessary to reverse Pettigrew's Animagus transform. It may be worth noting that both Lupin and Black apparently realize that they must combine forces to revert Pettigrew's transformation.
- How could Black be so certain that Pettigrew was still alive?
- Why did Black and Pettigrew switch places as the Potters' "Secret Keeper"?
- Why do Harry, Ron, and Hermione knock out Snape in the Shrieking Shack?
- How did Black escape from Azkaban prison? Why were the Dementors unable to detect him?
- Why does Harry prevent Lupin and Black from killing Pettigrew?
- Why did Pettigrew, who had close access to Harry, never try to kill him?
- Although Sirius is innocent, why does he, by his own admission, claim he is responsible for the Potters' deaths?
- How could Crookshanks have "told" Sirius that Scabbers had vanished?
- Why did the Weasley family fail to notice or question Scabbers' unusually long life?
- If Sirius was able to fool the Dementors when in his Animagus form, why did it take him twelve years to escape Azkaban?
- Why was Pettigrew never suspected as being a Voldemort follower? Were there signs that the Potters and Sirius should have seen?
- Even though Sirius never betrayed the Potters, he claims he is still responsible for their deaths. Is he? Explain why or why not.
- Why did Hermione help Harry and Ron attack Snape?
- Why does Snape refuse to consider either Lupin's or Black's explanation about Pettigrew and the Potters?
It has become obvious over the past few chapters that Crookshanks is something other than an ordinary cat. According to the author, he is actually part Kneazle, a cat-like creature that often associates with Wizards. Intelligent, they are able to communicate with other animals, which is how Black, in his dog form, was able to receive and relay information.
Harry's decision to prevent Lupin and Black from executing Pettigrew, though humane and the right thing to do, has far-reaching, tragic repercussions. Pettigrew escapes shortly, and will, as predicted, return to Voldemort. He will later entrap Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry of Magic employee, and it will be with her unwilling assistance, eventual murder, and Pettigrew's help, that Voldemort will capture Harry, command Cedric Diggory's murder, and re-embody himself in a gruesome ritual. Pettigrew's direct participation in the Dark Lord's resurrection ultimately results in many more deaths. If Lupin and Black had executed Pettigrew, however, both would likely have been sentenced to Azkaban for killing him.
It should be noted here that Lupin missing his last Wolfsbane potion will have serious consequences. Though he knows there is a full moon that night, Lupin, in his excitement at seeing Pettigrew's and Black's names on the Marauder's Map, rushes off before Snape brings him the potion. As a result, Lupin transforms into a Werewolf without consciousness of his human self, thus endangering his companions. If Lupin had taken his final draught, he would have retained his mind after transforming, and Pettigrew would likely have been unable to escape. By missing that final dose, Lupin becomes a mindless, savage animal, and Sirius must assume his dog form to protect Harry and the others. While both fully-grown Wizards are occupied, Pettigrew seizes the opportunity to transform back into a rat and escape.
Snape being knocked out will turn out to be a necessary plot device. If Snape was conscious, even bound and gagged, he would have been unable to miss seeing Pettigrew returned to human shape, and his world view might have been upset. It is Snape's stubborn insistence on Black's guilt that sets up not only the final chapters of this book, but Black's donation of his house to the Order of the Phoenix for use as their headquarters. Thwarted in his hopes of receiving the Order of Merlin for his part in Black's recapture, Snape reveals Lupin's werewolf nature, thus forcing Lupin out of his position as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher role and fulfilling the conditions of what we later learn is a curse on that position, without destroying Lupin in the process.
- The Marauder's Map, created by James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, was first used earlier in this book to allow Harry to escape into Hogsmeade, and was later confiscated by Lupin; it showed Lupin that people are getting into the Shrieking Shack via the tunnel under the Whomping Willow. Snape here states that it was this same map that brought him to the Shrieking Shack. After it is restored to him, Harry uses it to avoid interception by Peeves and Filch during Harry's fourth year; then, after it is borrowed by Professor Moody, it plays a role in Barty Crouch Jr.'s plot to murder his own father. Harry uses it to avoid detection of Dumbledore's Army, and himself, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It keeps Harry aware of Malfoy's activities in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Finally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry uses the map to gaze at Ginny's name as she attends classes at Hogwarts.
- Peter Pettigrew, introduced here, will be instrumental in restoring Voldemort to power, though Voldemort will treat Pettigrew as a menial servant. The fact that Harry stopped Lupin and Black from killing Pettigrew will, we will shortly learn, leave Pettigrew with a life debt to Harry; this may contribute to Voldemort's treatment of Pettigrew, and definitely results in Harry's life being saved when it is in peril at Pettigrew' hand in the final book.
Chapter 20: The Dementor's Kiss
As the group proceeds down the tunnel, Sirius Black realizes he will be a free man once Pettigrew is turned over to the authorities. He tells Harry that he is Harry's godfather and also his guardian, and hesitantly offers to have Harry live with him. Harry's enthusiastic, "Yes!" catches Black rather by surprise, and his smile makes him look ten years younger.
As they exit the tunnel, a shifting cloud bathes them in full moonlight. Lupin, who has forgotten to take his potion, transforms into a Werewolf. Black yells at Harry to run, but he cannot—Ron is still chained to Pettigrew. Black transforms into a dog to defend the others. Lupin, now a Werewolf, is no longer shackled to Pettigrew, who grabs Lupin's dropped wand and stuns Ron and Crookshanks. Harry disarms Pettigrew, but he transforms into a rat and vanishes into the grass. Lupin, blocked by Black from attacking Harry, Hermione, and the stunned Ron, bounds off into the Forbidden Forest, chased by a wounded Black.
Harry and Hermione rush to Ron's aid, but they are unable to undo Pettigrew's jinx. Hearing a whining yelp, Harry and Hermione run to the lake and find the human Black cowering on the shore. Nearly a hundred Dementors are approaching from all directions. Harry and Hermione leap to Black's defense, but there are too many Dementors, and Harry's Patronus charm is too weak to repel them. The creatures' presence overwhelm Harry and Hermione. Harry falls and feels himself being lifted by one to administer the Kiss.
As Harry's consciousness fades, a bright light seems to race around him, scattering the Dementors. As they disperse, a large glowing animal appears in the light's midst, then trots back to someone standing on the lake's opposite shore. What Harry sees before losing consciousness seems impossible.
When the truth is finally revealed and Pettigrew is exposed, Harry and Sirius form an instant familial bond. It appears that Harry will not only be freed from his unhappy life with the Dursleys, but has finally found a loving home and a real father figure. Sirius, meanwhile, will finally be exonerated for a crime he never committed, though it seems unlikely he will ever fully recover from the hardships that were wrongfully inflicted on him. Unfortunately, Harry and Sirius' new-found happiness is short-lived and circumstances rapidly change when Pettigrew, and the truth, escape, leaving Sirius a hunted fugitive once again.
We will note, in passing, the adroit generation of a cliffhanger in the final words of this chapter. We had though th e story was pretty much told at the end of the previous chapter, and nothing remains except the wrap-up; but now, several questions have been re-opened, and one very large one has been created. From its effects, we are meant to believe that the white light Harry saw was a Patronus, a large and powerful one; Harry seems to see the caster, and may recognize him, but perhaps can't admit to himself who he thinks it is.
- What is the light Harry sees before losing consciousness?
- Why does Sirius Black offer to have Harry live with him? Why does Harry accept?
- Lupin does not transform into a Werewolf when the moon rises, but rather once he is directly exposed to moonlight. Why, then, was the Shrieking Shack necessary when he was a student? Why was he not simply confined in a windowless room?
- Why would the Dementors try to administer the "Kiss" to Harry?
- What might Harry have seen on the lake shore?
This marks the third attack Dementors have mounted on Harry, and it seems obvious that each incident is calculated. Why the Dementors have continually targeted Harry is unknown, but it raises suspicions that they may have ties to Voldemort and his Death Eaters, though this belief is unproved by anything in the story so far. The Dementors will defect to Voldemort soon after his resurrection, but until his return to power there is no Dark Wizardry center for them to aggregate to; the Death Eaters are still scattered and disorganized, and remain so until the fourth book's conclusion. Why then, did they attack Harry? Lupin told us earlier that Harry is more deeply affected by Dementors because he has suffered so greatly. The Dementors may be drawn to Harry because he harbors a rich fund of sad memories and emotions to feast on, possibly more than nearly any other Wizard at Hogwarts, and also because he is unable to properly defend himself just yet.
We will find out in the next chapters that in fact the light Harry saw as he passed out was a Patronus, and that he had cast it himself. When he saw himself, though, he believed it was his father, because he was as yet unaware of Hermione's Time-Turner. Quite possibly the recent discussion in the Shrieking Shack, concerning his father as it did, predisposed him to see what he currently believes is his father's ghost.
- This is the first time we hear that Sirius owns a house, which we will later find out is in London. There must clearly be a Black family residence, though this is the first time it is mentioned. It will be a center of action in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and will eventually become Harry's at Sirius' death.
Chapter 21: Hermione's Secret
Harry awakens in the Hospital Wing and hears Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge and Professor Snape discussing the night's events. Snape says that the cut on his head was Harry, Ron, and Hermione's work but that they were probably under a Confundus charm put on them by Black. When he regained consciousness, the Dementors were returning to their posts, and he found Harry, Hermione, and Black unconscious beside the lake. He conjured stretchers and brought them to the Hospital Wing. Fudge says this will probably put him in line for the Order of Merlin, Third Class. Harry opens his eyes and sees Hermione in the next bed, wide awake and looking frightened. Nearby, Madam Pomfrey is attending to Ron. Madam Pomfrey tells Harry that Black has been captured, and the Dementors will shortly administer the Kiss. Harry leaps up, shouting that Sirius is innocent and Peter Pettigrew is alive and is an Animagus. Snape says he is obviously Confunded, and Madam Pomfrey forces him back into bed. When Professor Dumbledore arrives, Harry also tells him. Dumbledore says he has spoken with Black and needs to speak to Harry and Hermione alone. Madam Pomfrey and Fudge depart, but Snape protests that Black had shown, at the age of 16, that he was capable of killing someone. Dumbledore responds that he is aware, and Snape leaves stiffly.
Harry and Hermione try to explain what happened, but Dumbledore says their unsupported word will not save Black. Neither can Lupin, even if he were not currently roaming the Forbidden Forest. Apart from his being Black's old friend, a Werewolf's word counts for little. Snape's version will bear the most credibility, and while Dumbledore believes Harry and Hermione, he cannot force other people to see the truth. "What we need," Dumbledore comments, "is more time." Hermione apparently understands, though Harry does not. Dumbledore mentions that Black is in Professor Flitwick's office. He cryptically says it is five minutes before midnight, that they must not be seen, and that more than one innocent life can be saved. He tells Hermione that "three turns" should do it, then leaves, locking them in the infirmary.
Harry is mystified, but Hermione produces a tiny sparkling hourglass from her robes. She loops the chain around herself and Harry, and turns the hourglass over three times. The world becomes a spinning blur; when it settles, they are standing in the deserted Entrance Hall, and the sun is shining. Pushing them into a broom closet, Hermione tells Harry that they are now three hours in the past. Slow footsteps are heard going past, and Hermione says that it is themselves under the Invisibility Cloak; Harry is trying to comprehend being in two places at the same time, in the closet with Hermione, as well as under the Cloak with Ron and Hermione heading for Hagrid's hut. Hermione explains that the hourglass is a Time-Turner; she has been using it all year to get to all her classes. Professor McGonagall instructed her to tell no one about it.
Now that they have gone back three hours, Hermione is unsure what Dumbledore expects them to do. Harry guesses that he intends for them to save Buckbeak and Black, who is locked in Flitwick's office. Buckbeak can fly them to Flitwick's window to save Black. They head for the Forbidden Forest, edging around it until they reach Hagrid's pumpkin patch. There they watch themselves going into the hut. Harry wants to grab Buckbeak, but Hermione says the Committee must see him first, otherwise they will think Hagrid freed him. They hear Hagrid breaking the milk jug and the other Hermione finding Scabbers. Harry wants to dash in and grab Pettigrew, but Hermione asks what would he think if he suddenly saw himself bursting in that way. There is a reason Dumbledore said they must not be seen.
The Committee, including Professor Dumbledore and Cornelius Fudge, approach. Harry and Hermione watch Harry, Ron, and Hermione vanish under the Invisibility Cloak and exit at the back of Hagrid's hut, while the Committee enter the front. Harry waits until the executioner, Macnair, has spotted Buckbeak. Once Macnair has returned to the hut, Harry bows to Buckbeak and tries to lead him into the forest, but Buckbeak resists. As the Committee starts to exit the hut, Dumbledore calls them back, saying that the decree needs another signature. Just as Harry gets Buckbeak into the woods, the Committee emerges to find Buckbeak gone. Macnair slams his axe into the fence in anger.
Harry and Hermione, with Buckbeak, move closer to the Whomping Willow and watch as the black dog drags Ron into the tunnel. Shortly, Crookshanks stills the branches and their other selves go into the tunnel. Almost immediately, Dumbledore, Macnair, Fudge, and the old Committee member walk past on their way back to the castle. Now they see Professor Lupin running to the Whomping Willow and diving into the passage. Harry wonders if he could dash out and collect his Invisibility Cloak, but Hermione dissuades him, and just in time, as Hagrid now appears, already partly drunk, and heads up to the castle. Two minutes later, Snape arrives, throws on the Invisibility Cloak, and enters the tunnel.
Now Harry and Hermione must wait while the events inside the Shrieking Shack replay. Hermione wonders how they were saved from all those Dementors. Harry says it must have been a powerful Patronus and believes he saw his late father casting it. Hermione, of course expresses disbelief; Harry seems to be inclined to disbelieve it himself, but says it is what he saw.
An hour later, everyone exits the tunnel, and Lupin transforms into a Werewolf. Realizing they are standing where Lupin is about to run, Harry and Hermione rapidly retreat to Hagrid's empty hut. Despite knowing there is a Werewolf roaming loose, Harry wants to see who cast the Patronus and takes off for where the spell-caster was standing. No one is there. Harry suddenly understands: it was not his father he saw, it was himself. As the Dementors attack Black and the earlier Harry and Hermione, he casts the Patronus. A large animal bursts from his wand, and charging the Dementors, scatters them. When they have dispersed, the Patronus, a large silver stag form, canters back to Harry, who now realizes his father's Animagus form was a stag, hence the nickname, "Prongs".
Hermione appears, furious that Harry has been up to something. He explains that his earlier self had seen his later self casting the spell, and he was only performing the events that already happened. They watch as Snape conjures stretchers and transports everyone to the castle, as Fudge arrives, and as Macnair exits the castle to summon a Dementor. Harry and Hermione mount Buckbeak and fly to the West Tower. Hermione charms the window open, and Black climbs out onto Buckbeak. Harry and Hermione dismount on the tower top, and Harry urges Black to leave quickly. Black first inquires about Ron, then escapes with Buckbeak into the night.
Many small mysteries are solved with the appearance of the Time-Turner. It explains why Hermione could take so many classes, her continually appearing and disappearing, and how she "forgot" Flitwick's class while she was headed to it with Harry and Ron immediately after slapping Draco in an earlier chapter. It also partially explains Hermione's stress: she has been artificially lengthening her days and is likely sleep deprived.
The Time-turner is the only means that can save Black and Buckbeak, but both Hermione and Harry initially seem uncertain how to proceed once they have gone back in time. Conscious that they must not be seen, they are unsure how, and if, they can change that night's events. At first, they are little more than passive observers as they watch their previous selves repeat what happened only a few hours earlier, but soon figure out what they must do. Harry, more adventurous and less concerned with altering the past than Hermione, finally realizes that it was not his father he had earlier seen on the lake shore, but himself. Only he can save Black and the others from the Dementors, and he must act quickly. It is this realization that empowers him to cast the powerful Patronus that scatters the Dementors.
Hermione, meanwhile, is deathly afraid of being seen for good reason; as she explains to Harry, many Wizards have died because they allowed their earlier selves to see them, and the earlier self believed that the later self was a Dark attack. It is this that so shocks Hermione when she discovers that it was Harry who actually cast the Patronus that saved them. Hermione here is facing something that goes counter to one of her fondest beliefs: doing something against the rules has saved their lives, is it possible that rules are not always there to be followed?
It seems probable that Dumbledore at the very least anticipated this rescue, but it is never explained if that is the case. We do not see enough of Dumbledore's arrival at Hagrid's hut to know how he feels about the execution, but when the Committee exits the hut to carry out the execution, Dumbledore seems unsurprised, and perhaps relieved, to find Buckbeak missing. We note that it was Dumbledore who called Macnair back into the hut to sign the form, thus giving Harry the few extra seconds he needed to get Buckbeak under cover. Dumbledore may have glimpsed Harry pulling Buckbeak into the forest; he would have had time to look through the hut window as Fudge was signing the form. It is reasonably certain that Dumbledore guessed that it was through the agency of the Time-Turner that Buckbeak would be saved; he hints strongly at this with his comment that "if all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight."
Fudge, meanwhile, seems more concerned with protecting the Ministry than learning the truth, and we can see how far he will apparently go to prevent the Wizarding world from falling into the chaos that would likely result should Black indeed be innocent. Though there is no indication that Fudge is corrupt, he is lazy and ineffectual, and readily dismisses both Harry and Hermione's adamant and credible claims about Black's innocence and Pettigrew's guilt; he instead prefers to believe Snape's version, not only because he is the adult, and supposedly more believable, but also because it is the easier path for Fudge to follow. It requires no further investigation on the Ministry's part, thus protecting them from admitting mistakes were made and that an innocent man was convicted. Fudge readily accepts Snape's theory that the Trio are under some spell, further allowing him to brush off their account. Snape, meanwhile, is driven by his long-instilled hatred, and he is unable to accept the truth.
Snape's comment that Black was capable of killing someone at age 16 refers back to Black's arranging for Snape to learn how to enter the Shrieking Shack while Lupin was there, transformed. It is perhaps curious that Snape does not refer to the later incident with Pettigrew and the Muggles.
We note that while Dumbledore was well aware of Lupin's being a Werewolf at the time he was hired, he apparently did not know that Black, Pettigrew, and Potter were Animagi. Lupin, we recall, had said that he did not tell Dumbledore that Black was an Animagus out of shame at his behaviour as a student; and it appears from Dumbledore's comments in this chapter that he did not know until Black told him after his capture. Black's being an Animagus would lend weight to Harry's story that Pettigrew is also an Animagus, but that information is not passed on to Fudge.
Before escaping on Buckbeak, Black inquires about Ron's condition. This is apparently meant to illuminate Sirius' character; like Lupin, he is concerned about how his actions affect others. Aware that Ron was injured, he wants to know what his condition is and be assured he will be alright before saving himself.
As a side note, we should mention some of the careful planning of the logistics in this chapter. We learn that the Whomping Willow is near the direct route from the castle to Hagrid's hut, which is necessary both to prevent Harry from interfering with prior events, and to allow us to see the logistics. Hagrid can't be allowed to stay in his hut drinking, as Harry and Hermione would then have no place to escape the transformed Lupin. He must go past the Whomping Willow to prevent Harry from attempting to reclaim the Cloak. So the author sends him drunkenly up to the castle, triggering Buckbeak's attempt to return to Hagrid's side, and requiring Harry's and Hermione's attention to Buckbeak until it's too late to avoid Snape's entrance onto the scene. There are several instances where Harry or Hermione comments that they have to wait until someone has seen something before they act; in particular, Hermione mentions that they can't remove Buckbeak from behind Hagrid's hut until Macnair has seen him, and both Harry and Hermione know that they can't rescue Black from Flitwick's office until Fudge and Dumbledore have seen him. Their cue for the latter is Macnair, who they recognize by the glint of moonlight off his holstered axe, running out of the castle to seek a Dementor. In this chapter, Harry and Hermione's actions are controlled by the actions of themselves and others that have already occurred. Significant effort must have gone into the planning of this chapter, to ensure that everyone was where they had to be.
We also note that Hagrid's reaction in this case casts some light on his character. Possibly surprisingly for someone his size, it seems that he manages to get staggeringly drunk within approximately half an hour once Buckbeak escapes. We've seen how sentimental Hagrid is about Buckbeak, but his reaction here seems somehow adolescent, inappropriate for one who is, as we have found out, approximately sixty years old. There is more discussion of this in Hagrid's character article.
- How was Hermione getting to her many classes during the year?
- What does Dumbledore mean when he tells Harry and Hermione they need more "time"?
- Harry initially believed it was his father he saw on the lake shore who cast the Patronus. Who did he actually see?
- How does Sirius Black escape? Who goes with him and why?
- Why would the Ministry of Magic consider Harry, Ron, Hermione, and also Lupin, as unreliable witnesses regarding Sirius Black's innocence? What constitutes a "reliable" witness?
- Why is Hermione so concerned that she and Harry not be seen when they use the Time Turner? What might have happened if they were seen?
- Why is Hermione upset when she finds Harry by the lake shore?
- Why was Harry so convinced that it was his late father who cast the Patronus?
Fudge's personality becomes more obvious in later books. Here he seems quite pleased with himself at Sirius Black's capture, perhaps inordinately so, particularly given his apparent belief, expressed at Christmas, that Voldemort is still out there, seeking allies to help him return to power. Unsurprisingly, Fudge's main motivation is to retain his power. This helps explain his readiness to accept Snape's story over Harry's and Hermione's. If Black is the threat Fudge believes he is, then his capture and execution can only enhance Fudge's reputation and consolidate his power. Snape's story conveniently supports this view while Harry's version would be political suicide: placing Dementors in Hogsmeade has proven extremely unpopular, and revealing that the Dementors attacked innocent children and that the Ministry was so easily hoodwinked as to send an innocent man to Azkaban for twelve years would seriously affect the population's trust in the Ministry.
We will find out in a later book that in fact Black had been sent to Azkaban without a trial. If this was revealed, along with Sirius' innocence, it would certainly spell the end of Fudge's career as Minister for Magic, and could have severe repercussions for Bartemius Crouch, the head of the Aurors division of the Ministry at the time Black was imprisoned.
We learn here of the ability of the Wizarding World to manipulate time. The Time-Turner is a rather stunningly useful device; among other things, we see here that Hermione and Harry have effectively doubled themselves, watching from outside Hagrid's hut as their earlier selves go through their actions inside the hut. In the hands of a Dark wizard, this could prove overpowering; what would Harry do if he were suddenly faced with twenty copies of Lord Voldemort, all intent on killing him? And what would happen if he managed to kill or disarm the oldest copy; would the later copies all vanish, or would he and Voldemort be plunged instantly into paradox?
- As mentioned, the Time-Turner is an extremely dangerous item to leave around where Dark wizards might use it. To prevent them being used against Harry, they should be somehow rendered harmless. This is done in a later book, though it is only revealed in a still-later book that Neville's misplaced curse had destroyed the entire world's supply of Time-turners.
- We will find out later that Snape's Patronus is a doe. This will in some way relate to James' Patronus and Animagus being a stag, and to Lily being James' girlfriend and later wife. Near the end of the final book, we will learn that Snape was in love with Lily; it is through the shape of Snape's Patronus that Dumbledore recognizes that Snape's love for Lily has not faded over the years.
Chapter 22: Owl Post Again
Hermione tugs at Harry's sleeve, saying they have only ten minutes before Dumbledore locks the Hospital Wing. They dash off, hiding as Snape and Fudge walk past on their way to watch the Dementors administer the Kiss to Sirius Black, and again as Peeves drifts past. They reach the Hospital Wing just as Dumbledore is coming out. Harry and Hermione tell him Black is safely away on Buckbeak. Dumbledore lets them into the Hospital Wing, empty except for the still unconscious Ron, and locks the door.
Madam Pomfrey, nettled, returns from her office, but is interrupted by a raging roar from above. Shortly, they hear Snape outside, shouting that Black could not have Disapparated because it is impossible inside the castle; someone must have freed him. Slamming the infirmary doors open, he proclaims that Potter must somehow be involved. Dumbledore, arriving shortly after Snape and Fudge, states that Harry has been locked in the infirmary, and Madam Pomfrey verifies that no one has left. Snape, snarling imprecations, leaves. Fudge suggests he may be unbalanced, but Dumbledore says that he has simply suffered a great disappointment. Fudge worries that the Daily Prophet will have a field day if they find out Black was in custody and escaped again. When Dumbledore suggests removing the Dementors from Hogwarts, Fudge complies—if they tried to administer the Kiss to an innocent boy, then they are certainly unsafe. Dumbledore and Fudge leave, and Madam Pomfrey relocks the door, returning to her office. When Ron wakes up, he asks what happened; Harry asks Hermione to explain.
The castle is nearly deserted when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are released from the Hospital Wing the next day. It is another Hogsmeade weekend, but Ron and Hermione decide to stay at Hogwarts with Harry. Relaxing by the lake, they are met by Hagrid, who reports that Buckbeak escaped. The Trio pretend surprise. Hagrid also says that Snape told the Slytherins that Professor Lupin is a Werewolf, and Lupin has resigned. Harry finds Lupin in his office, where nearly everything is packed. Lupin says he is unable to stay—too many parents would object to a Werewolf teaching their children. He then asks about the previous night's events, including Harry's Patronus. He says that Harry is correct, that James transformed into a stag, hence his nickname "Prongs." Lupin returns the Invisibility Cloak and the Marauder's Map to Harry, saying James would have been disappointed if Harry had not found any of the secret passages.
Dumbledore arrives to tell Lupin his carriage is ready. After Lupin leaves, an upset Harry tells Dumbledore that what he did made no difference: Pettigrew still got away. Dumbledore replies that his actions saved two innocent lives. Harry remembers Professor Trelawney's prediction during his exam, and tells Dumbledore. Dumbledore is quite pleased, saying that brings Trelawney's true predictions up to two. Harry is dismayed that even forewarned, he was unable to prevent Pettigrew's return to Voldemort. Dumbledore points out that Pettigrew now owes Harry a life debt. Voldemort will be displeased at having a servant who owes so much to his worst enemy. Harry tells Dumbledore about his Patronus' form, and that he thought it was his father casting it. Dumbledore says, "You think the dead that we have loved, ever truly leave us?" It was the memory of James that allowed Harry to produce that particular Patronus. Harry realizes Dumbledore knows about James' Animagus ability; Dumbledore confirms that Black had told him about it.
Meanwhile, Malfoy is furious that Buckbeak escaped and is convinced Hagrid is responsible, while nearly everyone is upset over Lupin's departure.
Marks come out at the end of the term, and Harry is amazed: he has passed everything, even Potions. Ron and Hermione also pass everything. Percy has his top-grade NEWTs, while the Twins have each managed to scrape a handful of OWLs. Gryffindor wins the House Cup for the third straight year, largely from winning the Quidditch Cup.
On the Hogwarts Express, Hermione tells Ron and Harry that she has dropped Muggle Studies. With that and Divination off her schedule, she no longer needs the Time-turner and has returned it to Professor McGonagall. Ron suggests Harry might like to come to the Quidditch World Cup. His dad is usually able to get tickets. Hermione spots something flying outside the window. Harry reaches out and grabs a tiny Scops owl carrying a message far too big for it. It is from Black, who writes that he is safe, and it was he who sent Harry the Firebolt for Christmas. Crookshanks carried the message to the Owl Office for him. Enclosed is a signed Hogsmeade permission form for Harry. Because Black was instrumental in losing Ron's rat, the little owl is his to keep. Holding the owl up to Crookshanks, Ron asks if it is real. Crookshanks purrs, so Ron claims him.
As he meets his uncle at King's Cross Station, Harry tells him that he has met his godfather, Sirius, who is a wizard and a convicted murderer. Since Sirius is at large, and very interested in Harry's well-being, Harry expects that the Dursleys will be treating him with a little more respect this summer.
A number of areas in the story line are, of course, tied up in this chapter. We receive confirmation that Sirius and Buckbeak have escaped safely, we hear that Harry has passed another school year, and we can see that Hermione, freed from her superhuman workload, will likely be more companionable next year. Once again, due in part to Harry's efforts, the House Cup is won by Gryffindor. Ron's pet, lost but not lamented, is replaced; we can safely expect that the little owl, so eager to please, will likely be a recurring character in later books. And we have again lost a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher after a single year at the school. Could this be a recurring pattern?
The book concludes as usual with Harry returning to the Dursleys' at school's end. Unlike the previous two summers, Harry has a much happier outlook about the time he must spend there. He is comforted by knowing that he now has a caring godfather that he may eventually be able to live with. Harry also knows that Sirius being a wanted fugitive will provide him some leverage with the Dursleys, who will likely be intimidated by this new information into treating Harry better. Ron also throws out hope that Harry's stay there will be shorter than usual, further uplifting Harry's spirits.
- Why does Lupin resign?
- What does Dumbledore tell Harry about his Patronus?
- What does Black give Harry? What does he give to Ron and why?
- Why does Harry tell Uncle Vernon about his new-found godfather?
- Dumbledore tells Snape that Harry could not have set Sirius free, saying, "Unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione can be in two places at the same time." Is Dumbledore deliberately giving Snape a hint as to what has happened? If so, why? Wouldn't Snape likely already know about Hermione using the Time Turner all year?
- What does Pettigrew now owe Harry? How will this affect Pettigrew's relationship with Voldemort?
The return of the Time-Turner to Professor McGonagall is a minor but necessary plot point. The time-turner is an amazingly useful device for a wizard intent on evil; as mentioned in the write-up for the device, if Voldemort had a Time-Turner, it would be possible for him to multiply himself any number of times to overpower any enemy by sheer numbers. Thus, in order to prevent this device from getting into Voldemort's hands once he controls the Ministry, it is necessary for all such devices to be destroyed. This is done by, first, getting the sample in Hermione's possession back to the Ministry, and then by having the entire collection at the Ministry destroyed by an errant spell.
When Dumbledore mentions that this would be Trelawney's second real prediction it is easy to brush it off as unimportant, but this is actually a major plot detail for the fifth installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In that book, Voldemort's energies are bent towards procuring the record of that first prophecy, which eventually results in Voldemort deceiving Harry into retrieving the record for him. Voldemort's attempt fails, however, as the prophecy is destroyed before he gets to hear it.
We can already guess that, despite seeing him wing off into the night, this is not the last time Sirius Black will be seen. He reappears in the next two books, and again in the seventh. Lupin also reappears; he is mentioned in the fourth book, and appears in person in the fifth, sixth, and seventh books. Despite Sirius being Harry's godfather, we see that Lupin, whose ideas and personality resonate more closely with Harry's, has a greater effect on Harry's maturation than Sirius, whose own maturity and judgment appears to have been stunted by his time in Azkaban and the subsequent years of being a fugitive.
Pettigrew's owing a life debt to Harry has no immediate effect on Voldemort's and Pettigrew's relationship. Voldemort understands what Pettigrew is—a weak-willed, largely ineffectual menial, almost a classic toady, who hitches himself to Voldemort's star to gain rewards. We have already seen that in his nature in the Shrieking Shack, and learned that it is how he befriended James Potter, Sirius Black, and Remus Lupin. We are hardly surprised that Voldemort, a keen judge of character, sees this in him as well. As a result, Voldemort exploits Pettigrew as his means to return from near-death, at least initially depends on him for survival, but understands that Pettigrew's loyalty is to the main chance, and so never entirely trusts him. In the end, this life-debt saves Harry's life at the cost of Pettigrew's; Harry, at a critical point, reminds Pettigrew of that debt, causing Pettigrew to hesitate. The weapon he is wielding, which Voldemort gave him, senses this hesitation and fatally turns on Pettigrew.
There is one small inconsistency in this chapter. We are told that Fred and George receive their OWL results at the end of term, and Percy receives his NEWT results at the same time. While Harry, Ron, and Hermione sit their OWLs at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, they do not get their results until the summer. As the description of Harry receiving his OWL results is quite detailed, where the description in this chapter of Percy and the Twins getting their results is one throw-away sentence, this is almost certainly a slight mistake by the author. It is much more likely that the Twins would not have actually gotten their results until summer, because decisions depending on OWL results are not necessarily made until the following September. However, as employment starts right after graduation, and would be expected to depend upon NEWT results, it is likely that these results would have come back sooner for Percy, quite possibly before end of term. This is, of course, assuming that Wizarding bureaucracy is no more inefficient than Muggle civil servants.
- As mentioned, the Time-Turner is an extremely dangerous item to leave around where Dark wizards might use it. To prevent them being used against Harry, they should be somehow rendered harmless. This is done in a later book, though it is only revealed in a still-later book that Neville's misplaced curse had destroyed the entire world's supply of Time-turners.
- Pettigrew's life debt to Harry will play a role in the final book in the series. Harry, being strangled by Pettigrew, will remind Pettigrew of this debt. Pettigrew will hesitate, and the weapon he is using, the silver hand given him by Voldemort three years earlier, will fatally turn on him.
- Dumbledore mentions that the episode Harry describes is Trelawney's second real prediction. We will discover that Trelawney had been hired almost entirely because of an earlier prediction, which will see in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It will turn out that this earlier prophecy drives most of the action of the entire series. When the Ministry claims power over the hiring and firing of Hogwarts teachers, and then fires Trelawney, in that same book, Professor Dumbledore acts to keep her at Hogwarts despite her dismissal. This is apparently because Voldemort is then actively seeking the full text of the original Prophecy, and Dumbledore believes that Trelawney's life is not safe if she leaves the school.