Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling chapter one owl post

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-- not right before the match -

He peered out at the grounds again and, after a minute's frantic

searching, spotted it. It was skirting the edge of the forest now... It

wasn't the Grim at all ... it was a cat.... Harry clutched the window

ledge in relief as he recognized the bottlebrush tail. It was only


Or was it only Crookshanks? Harry squinted, pressing his nose flat

against the glass. Crookshanks seemed to have come to a halt. Harry was

sure he could see something else moving in the shadow of the trees too.

And just then, it emerged -- a gigantic, shaggy black dog, moving

stealthily across the lawn, Crookshanks trotting at its side. Harry

stared. What did this mean? If Crookshanks could see the dog as well,

how could it be an omen of Harry's death?

"Ron!" Harry hissed. "Ron! Wake up!"


I need you to tell me if you can see something!"

"S'all dark, Harry," Ron muttered thickly. "What're you or, about?"

"Down here --"

Harry looked quickly back out of the window.

Crookshanks and the dog had vanished. Harry climbed onto the windowsill

to look right down into the shadows of the castle, but they weren't

there. Where had they gone?

A loud snore told him Ron had fallen asleep again.

Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor team entered the Great Hall the

next day to enormous applause. Harry couldn't help grinning broadly as

he saw that both the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables were applauding

them too. The Slytherin table hissed loudly as they passed. Harry

noticed that Malfoy looked even paler than usual.

Wood spent the whole of breakfast urging his team to eat, while touching

nothing himself Then he hurried them off to the field before anyone else

had finished, so they could get an idea of the conditions. As they left

the Great Hall, everyone applauded again.

"Good luck, Harry!" called Cho. Harry felt himself blushing.

"Okay -- no wind to speak of -- sun's a bit bright, that could impair

your vision, watch out for it -- ground's fairly hard, good, that'll

give us a fast kickoff --"

Wood paced the field, staring around with the team behind him. Finally,

they saw the front doors of the castle open in the distance and the rest

of the school spilling onto the lawn.

"Locker rooms," said Wood tersely.

None of them spoke as they changed into their scarlet robes. Harry

wondered if they were feeling like he was: as though he'd eaten

something extremely wriggly for breakfast. In what seemed like no time

at all, Wood was saying, "Okay, it's time, let's go --"

They walked out onto the field to a tidal wave of noise. Threequarters

of the crowd was wearing scarlet rosettes, waving scarlet flags with the

Gryffindor lion upon them, or brandishing banners with slogans like "GO

GRYFFINDOR!" and "LIONS FOR THE CUK' Behind the Slytherin goal posts,

however, two hundred people were wearing green; the silver serpent of

Slytherin glittered on their flags, and Professor Snape sat in the very

front row, wearing green like everyone else, and a very grim smile.

"And here are the Gryffindors!" yelled Lee Jordan, who was acting as

commentator as usual. "Potter, Bell, Johnson, Spinnet, Weasley, Weasley,

and Wood. Widely acknowledged as the best team Hogwarts has seen in a

good few years --"

Lee's comments were drowned by a tide of "boos" from the Slytherin end.

"And here come the Slytherin team, led by Captain Flint. He's Made some

changes in the lineup and seems to be going for size rather than skill


More boos from the Slytherin crowd. Harry, however, thought Lee had a

point. Malfoy was easily the smallest person On the Slytherin team; the

rest of them were enormous.

"Captains, shake hands!" said Madam Hooch.

Flint and Wood approached each other and grasped each other's hand very

tightly; it looked as though each was trying to break the other's


"Mount your brooms!" said Madam Hooch. "Three... two... one..."

The sound of her whistle was lost in the roar from the crowd as fourteen

brooms rose into the air. Harry felt his hair fly back off his forehead;

his nerves left him in the thrill of the flight; he glanced around, saw

Malfoy on his tail, and sped off in search of the Snitch.

"And it's Gryffindor in possession, Alicia Spinner of Gryffindor with

the Quaffle, heading straight for the Slytherin goal posts, looking

good, Alicia! Argh, no -- Quaffle intercepted by Warrington, Warrington

of Slytherin tearing UP the field -- WHAM! -- nice Bludger work there by

George Weasley, Warrington drops the Quaffle, it's caught by -- Johnson,

Gryffindor back in possession, come on, Angelina -- nice swerve around

Montague -- duck, Angelina, that's a Bludger!- SHE SCORES! TEN-ZERO TO


Angelina punched the air as she soared around the end of the field; the

sea of scarlet below was screaming its delight


Angelina was nearly thrown from her broom as Marcus Flint went smashing

into her.

"Sorry!" said Flint as the crowd below booed. "Sorry, didn't see her!"

A moment later, Fred Weasley chucked his Beater's club at the back of

Flint's head. Flint's nose smashed into the handle of his broom and

began to bleed.

"That will do!" shrieked Madam Hooch, zooming between then. "Penalty

shot to Gryffindor for an unprovoked attack on their Chaser! Penalty

shot to Slytherin for deliberate damage to their Chaser!"

"Come off it, Miss!" howled Fred, but Madam Hooch blew her whistle and

Alicia flew forward to take the penalty.

"Come on, Alicia!" yelled Lee into the silence that had descended on the


Harry turned the Firebolt sharply to watch Flint, still bleeding freely,

fly forward to take the Slytherin penalty. Wood was hovering in front of

the Gryffindor goal posts, his jaw clenched.

"'Course, Wood's a superb Keeper!" Lee Jordan told the crowd as Flint

waited for Madam Hooch's whistle. "Superb! Very difficult to pass --

very difficult indeed -- YES! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! HE'S SAVED IT!"

Relieved, Harry zoomed away, gazing around for the Snitch, but still

making sure he caught every word of Lee's commentary. It was essential

that he hold Malfoy off the Snitch until Gryffindor was more than fifty

points up --

"Gryffindor in possession, no, Slytherin in possession -- no!

Gryffindor back in possession and it's Katie Bell, Katie Bell for

Gryffindor with the Quaffle, she's streaking up the field -- THAT WAS


Montague, a Slytherin Chaser, had swerved in front of Katie, and instead

of seizing the Quaffle had grabbed her head. Katie cart wheeled in the

air, managed to stay on her broom, but dropped the Quaffle.

Madam Hooch's whistle rang out again as she soared over to Montague and

began shouting at him. A minute later, Katie had put another penalty

past the Slytherin Seeker.


"Jordan, if you can't commentate in an unbiased way --"

"I'm telling it like it is, Professor!"

Harry felt a huge jolt of excitement. He had seen the Snitch it was

shimmering at the foot of one of the Gryffindor goal posts -- but he

mustn't catch it yet -- and if Malfoy saw it -

Faking a look of sudden concentration, Harry pulled his Firebolt around

and sped off toward the Slytherin end -- it worked. Malfoy went haring

after him, clearly thinking Harry had seen the Snitch there....


One of the Bludgers came streaking past Harry's right ear, hit by the

gigantic Slytherin Beater, Derrick. Then again


The second Bludger grazed Harry's elbow. The other Beater, Bole, was

closing in.

Harry had a fleeting glimpse of Bole and Derrick zooming toward him,

clubs raised --

He turned the Firebolt upward at the last second, and Bole and Derrick

collided with a sickening crunch.

"Ha haaa!" yelled Lee Jordan as the Slytherin Beaters lurched away from

each other, clutching their heads. "Too bad, boys! You'll need to get up

earlier than that to beat a Firebold And it's Gryffindor in possession

again, as Johnson takes the Quaffle -- Flint alongside her -- poke him

in the eye, Angelina! -- it was a joke, Professor, it was a joke -- oh

no -- Flint in possession, Flint flying toward the Gryffindor goal

posts, come on now, Wood, save --!"

But Flint had scored; there was an eruption of cheers from the Slytherin

end, and Lee swore so badly that Professor McGonagall tried to tug the

magical megaphone away from him.

"Sorry, Professor, sorry! WoiA happen again! So, Gryffindor in the lead,

thirty points to ten, and Gryffindor in possession --"

it was turning into the dirtiest game Harry had ever played in. Enraged

that Gryffindor had taken such an early lead, the Slytherins were

rapidly resorting to any means to take the Quaffle. Bole hit Alicia with

his club and tried to say he'd thought she was a Bludger. George Weasley

elbowed Bole in the face in retaliation. Madam Hooch awarded both teams

penalties, and Wood pulled off another spectacular save, making the

score forty-ten to Gryffindor.

The Snitch had disappeared again. Malfoy was still keeping close to

Harry as he soared over the match, looking around for it once Gryffindor

was fifty points ahead -

Katie scored. Fifty-ten. Fred and George Weasley were swooping around

her, clubs raised, in case any of the Slytherins were thinking of

revenge. Bole and Derrick took advantage of Fred's and George's absence

to aim both Bludgers at Wood; they caught him in the stomach, one after

the other, and he rolled over in the air, clutching his broom,

completely winded.

Madam Hooch was beside herself


AREA!" she shrieked at Bole and Derrick. "Gryffindor penalty!"

And Angelina scored. Sixty-ten. Moments later, Fred Weasley pelted a

Bludger at Warrington, knocking the Quaffle Out of his hands; Alicia

seized it and put it through the Slytherin goal -- seventy-ten.

The Gryffindor crowd below was screaming itself hoarse -- Gryffindor was

sixty points in the lead, and if Harry caught the Snitch now, the Cup

was theirs. Harry could almost feel hundreds of eyes following him as he

soared around the field, high above the rest of the game, with Malfoy

speeding along behind him.

And then he saw it. The Snitch was sparkling twenty feet above him.

Harry put on a huge burst of speed; the wind was roaring in his ears; he

stretched out his hand, but suddenly, the Firebolt was slowing down --

Horrified, he looked around. Malfoy had thrown himself forward, grabbed

hold of the Firebolt's tail, and was pulling it back.

"You --"

Harry was angry enough to hit Malfoy, but couldn't reach -- Malfoy was

panting with the effort of holding onto the Firebolt, but his eyes were

sparkling maliciously. He had achieved what he'd wanted to do -- the

Snitch had disappeared again.

"Penalty! Penalty to Gryffindor! I've never seen such tactics." Madam

Hooch screeched, shooting up to where Malfoy was sliding back onto his

Nimbus Two Thousand and One.

"YOU CHEATING SCUM!" Lee Jordan was howling into the megaphone, dancing

out of Professor McGonagall's reach. "YOU FILTHY, CHEATING B --"

Pprofessor McGonagall didn't even bother to tell him off She was

actually shaking her finger in Malfoys direction, her hat had fallen

off, and she too was shouting furiously.

Alicia took Gryffindor's penalty, but she was so angry she missed by

several feet. The Gryffindor team was losing concentration and the

Slytherins, delighted by Malfoy's foul on Harry, were being spurred on

to greater heights.

"Slytherin in possession, Slytherin heading for goal -- Montague scores

--" Lee groaned. "Seventy- twenty to Gryffindor..."

Harry was now marking Malfoy so closely their knees kept hitting each

other. Harry wasn't going to let Malfoy anywhere near the Snitch....

"Get out of it, Potter!" Malfoy yelled in frustration as he tried to

turn and found Harry blocking him.

"Angelina Johnson gets the Quaffle for Gryffindor, come on, Angelina,


Harry looked around. Every single Slytherin player apart from Malfoy was

streaking up the pitch toward Angelina, including the Slytherin Keeper

-- they were all going to block her --

Harry wheeled the Firebolt around, bent so low he was lying flat along

the handle, and kicked it forward. Like a bullet, he shot toward the



They scattered as the Firebolt zoomed toward them; Angelina's Way was


"SHE SCORES! SHE SCORES! Gryffindor leads by eighty Points to twenty!"

Harry, who had almost pelted headlong into the stands, skidded to a halt

in midair, reversed, and zoomed back into the middle of the field.

And then he saw something to make his heart stand still. Malfoy was

diving, a look of triumph on his face -- there, a few feet above the

grass below, was a tiny, golden glimmer -

Harry urged the Firebolt downward, but Malfoy was miles ahead -

"Go! Go! Go!" Harry urged his broom. He was gaining on Malfay -- Harry

flattened himself to the broom handle as Bole sent a Bludger at him --

he was at Malfoy's ankles -- he was level --

Harry threw himself forward, took both hands off his broom. He knocked

Malfoy's arm out of the way and --


He pulled out of his dive, his hand in the air, and the stadium

exploded. Harry soared above the crowd, an odd ringing in his ears. The

tiny golden ball was held tight in his fist, beating its wings

hopelessly against his fingers.

Then Wood was speeding toward him, half-blinded by tears; he seized

Harry around the neck and sobbed unrestrainedly into his shoulder. Harry

felt two large thumps as Fred and George hit them; then Angelina's,

Alicia's, and Katie's voices, "We've won the Cup! We've won the Cup!"

Tangled together in a many-armed hug, the Gryffindor team sank, yelling

hoarsely, back to earth.

Wave upon wave of crimson supporters was pouring over the barriers onto

the field. Hands were raining down on their backs. Harry had a confused

impression of noise and bodies pressing in on him. Then he, and the rest

of the team, were hoisted onto the shoulders of the crowd. Thrust into

the light, he saw Hagrid, Plastered with crimson rosettes -- "Yeh beat

'em, Harry, yeh beat 'em!

Wait till I tell Buckbeak!" There was Percy, jumping up and down like a

maniac, all dignity forgotten. Professor McGonagall was sobbing harder

even than Wood, wiping her eyes with an enormous Gryffindor flag; and

there, fighting their way toward Harry, were Ron and Hermione. Words

failed them. They simply beamed as Harry was borne toward the stands,

where Dumbledore stood waiting with the enormous Quidditch Cup.

If only there had been a dementor around.... As a sobbing Wood passed

Harry the Cup, as he lifted it into the air, Harry felt he could have

produced the world's best Patronus.



Harry's euphoria at finally winning the Quidditch Cup lasted at least a

week. Even the weather seemed to be celebrating; as June approached, the

days became cloudless and sultry, and all anybody felt like doing was

strolling onto the grounds and flopping down on the grass with several

pints of iced pumpkin juice, perhaps playing a casual game of Gobstones

or watching the giant squid propel itself dreamily across the surface of

the lake.

But they couldn't. Exams were nearly upon them, and instead of lazing

around outside, the students were forced to remain inside the castle,

trying to bully their brains into concentrating while enticing wafts of

summer air drifted in through the windows. Even Fred and George Weasley

had been spotted working; they were about to take their O.W.L.s

(Ordinary Wizarding Levels). Percy was getting ready to take his

N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests), the highest

qualification Hogwarts offered. As Percy hoped to enter the Ministry of

Magic, he needed top grades. He was becoming increasingly edgy, and gave

very severe punishments to anybody who disturbed the quiet of the common

room in the evenings. In fact, the only person who seemed more anxious

than Percy was Hermione.

Harry and Ron had given up asking her how she was managing to attend

several classes at once, but they couldn't restrain themselves when they

saw the exam schedule she had drawn up for herself. The first column



9 o'clock, Arithmancy

9 o'clock, Transfiguration


1 o'clock, Charms

1 o'clock, Ancient Runes

"Hermione?" Ron said cautiously, because she was liable to explode when

interrupted these days. "Er -- are you sure you've copied down these

times right?"

"What?" snapped Hermione, picking up the exam schedule and examining it.

"Yes, of course I have."

"Is there any point asking how you're going to sit for two exams at

once?" said Harry.

"No," said Hermione shortly. "Have either of you seen my copy of

Numerology and Gramatica?"

"Oh, yeah, I borrowed it for a bit of bedtime reading," said Ron, but

very quietly. Hermione started shifting heaps of parchment Harry, Ron,

and Hermione plenty of opportunity to speak to Hagrid.

"Beaky's gettin' a bit depressed," Hagrid told them, bending low on the

pretense of checking that Harry's flobberworm was still alive. "Bin

cooped up too long. But still... we'll know day after tomorrow -- one

way or the other --"

They had Potions that afternoon, which was an unqualified disaster. Try

as Harry might, he couldn't get his Confusing Concoction to thicken, and

Snape, standing watch with an air of vindictive pleasure, scribbled

something that looked suspiciously like a zero onto his notes before

moving away.

Then came Astronomy at midnight, up on the tallest tower; History of

Magic on Wednesday morning, in which Harry scribbled everything Florean

Fortescue had ever told him about medieval witch-hunts, while wishing he

could have had one of Fortescue's choco-nut sundaes with him in the

stifling classroom. Wednesday afternoon meant Herbology, in the

greenhouses under a baking-hot sun; then back to the common room once

more, with sunburnt necks, thinking longingly of this time next day,

when it would all be over.

Their second to last exam, on Thursday morning, was Defense Against the

Dark Arts. Professor Lupin had compiled the most unusual exam any of

them had ever taken; a sort of obstacle course outside in the sun, where

they had to wade across a deep paddling pool containing a grindylow,

cross a series of potholes full of Red Caps, squish their way across a

patch of marsh while ignoring misleading directions from a hinkypunk,

then climb into an old trunk and battle with a new boggart.

"Excellent, Harry," Lupin muttered as Harry climbed out of the trunk,

grinning. "Full marks."

Flushed with his success, Harry hung around to watch Ron and Hermione.

Ron did very well until he reached the hinkypunk, which successfully

confused him into sinking waist-high into the quagmire. Hermione did

everything perfectly until she reached the trunk with the boggart in it.

After about a minute inside it, she burst out again, screaming.

"Hermione!" said Lupin, startled. "What's the matter?"

"P -- P -- Professor McGonagall!" Hermione gasped, pointing into the

trunk. "Sh -- she said I'd failed everything!"

It took a little while to calm Hermione down. When at last she had

regained a grip on herself, she, Harry, and Ron went back to the castle.

Ron was still slightly inclined to laugh at Hermione's boggart, but an

argument was averted by the sight that met them on the top of the steps.

Cornelius Fudge, sweating slightly in his pinstriped cloak, was standing

there staring out at the grounds. He started at the sight of Harry.

"Hello there, Harry!" he said. "Just had an exam, I expect? Nearly


"Yes," said Harry. Hermione and Ron, not being on speaking terms with

the Minister of Magic, hovered awkwardly in the background.

"Lovely day," said Fudge, casting an eye over the lake.

"Pity... pity..."

He sighed deeply and looked down at Harry.

"I'm here on an unpleasant mission, Harry. The Committee for the

Disposal of Dangerous Creatures required a witness to the execution of a

mad hippogriff. As I needed to visit Hogwarts to check on the Black

situation, I was asked to step in."

"Does that mean the appeal's already happened?" Ron interrupted,

stepping forward.

"No, no, it's scheduled for this afternoon," said Fudge, looking

curiously at Ron.

"Then you might not have to witness an execution at A!" said Eon

stoutly. "The hippogriff might get off!"

Before Fudge could answer, two wizards came through the castle doors

behind him. One was so ancient he appeared to be withering before their

very eyes; the other was tall and strapping, with a thin back mustache.

Harry gathered that they were representatives of the Committee for the

Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, because tie very old wizard squinted

toward Hagrid's cabin and said in a feeble voice, "Dear, dear, I'm

getting too old for this.... Two o'clock, isn't it, Fudge?"

The black-mustached man was fingering something in his belt; Harry

looked and saw that he was running one broad thumb along the blade of a

shining axe. Ron opened his mouth to say something, but Hermione nudged

him hard in the ribs and jerked her head toward the entrance hall.

"Why'd you stop me?" said Ron angrily as they entered the Great Hall for

lunch. "Did you see them? They've even got the axe ready! This isn't


"Ron, your dad works for the Ministry, you can't go saying things like

that to his boss!" said Hermione, but she too looked very upset. "As

long as Hagrid keeps his head this time, and argue, hi case properly,

they can't possibly execute Buckbeak...."

But Harry could tell Hermione didn't really believe what she was saying.

All around them, people were talking excitedly as they ate their lunch,

happily anticipating the end of the exams that afternoon, but Harry,

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