Chapter 15 of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: 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.
As a side note, it may be worth mention that this is also Harry's only game that is the final of the season. His many adventures throughout the series have prevented his playing in the final during his the rest of his school career, as well as in the final book, in which he doesn’t attend school. This is due to J.K. Rowling’s personal dislike of writing quidditch scenes.
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.