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



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and charge at the swarming dementors.... Now it was galloping around and

around the black shapes on the ground, and the dementors were falling

back, scattering, retreating into the darkness.... They were gone.

The Patronus turned. It was cantering back toward Harry across the still

surface of the water. It wasn't a horse. It wasn't a unicorn, either. It

was a stag. It was shining brightly as the moon above ... it was coming

back to him....

It stopped on the bank. Its hooves made no mark on the soft ground as it

stared at Harry with its large, silver eyes. Slowly, it bowed its

antlered head. And Harry realized... "Prongs, "he whispered.

But as his trembling fingertips stretched toward the creature, it

vanished.

Harry stood there, hand still outstretched. Then, with a great leap of

his heart, he heard hooves behind him -he whirled around and saw

Hermione dashing toward him, dragging Buckbeak behind her.

"What did you do?" she said fiercely. "You said you were only going to

keep a lookout!"

"I just saved all our lives...," said Harry. "Get behind here -- behind

this bush -- I'll explain."

Hermione listened to what had just happened with her mouth open yet

again.


"Did anyone see you?"

"Yes, haven't you been listening? I saw me but I thought I was my dad!

It's okay!"

"Harry, I can't believe it.... You conjured up a Patronus that drove

away all those dementors! That's very, very advanced magic. I knew I

could do it this time," said Harry, "because I'd already done it....

Does that make sense?"

"I don't know -- Harry, look at Snape!"

Together they peered around the bush at the other bank. Snape had

regained consciousness. He was conjuring stretchers and lifting the limp

forms of Harry, Hermione, and Black onto them. A fourth stretcher, no

doubt bearing Ron, was already floating at his side. Then, wand held out

in front of him, he moved them away toward the castle.

"Right, it's nearly time," said Hermione tensely, looking at her watch.

"We've got about forty-five minutes until Dumbledore locks the door to

the hospital wing. We've got to rescue Sirius and get back into the ward

before anybody realizes we're missing.... 11

They waited, watching the moving clouds reflected in the lake, while the

bush next to them whispered in the breeze. Buckbeak, bored, was

ferreting for worms again.

"D' you reckon he's up there yet?" said Harry, checking his watch. He

looked up at the castle and began counting the windows to the right of

the West Tower.

"Look!" Hermione whispered. "\Who's that? Someone's coming back out of

the castle!"

Harry stared through the darkness. The man was hurrying across the

grounds, toward one of the entrances. Something shiny glinted in his

belt.


"Macnair!" said Harry. "The executioner! He's gone to get the dementors!

This is it, Hermione --"

Hermione put her hands on Buckbeak's back and Harry gave her a leg up.

Then he placed his foot on one of the lower branches of the bush and

climbed up in front of her. He pulled Buckbeak's rope back over his neck

and tied it to the other side of his collar like reins.

"Ready?" he whispered to Hermione. "YotM better hold on to me --

He nudged Buckbeak's sides with his heels.

Buckbeak soared straight into the dark air. Harry gripped his flanks

with his knees, feeling the great wings rising powerfully beneath them.

Hermione was holding Harry very tight around the waist; he could hear

her muttering, "Oh, no -- I don't like this oh, I really don't like this

--"

Harry urged Buckbeak forward. They were gliding quietly toward the upper



floors of the castle.... Harry pulled hard on the left-hand side of the

rope, and Buckbeak turned. Harry was trying to count the windows

flashing past --

"Whoa!" he said, pulling backward as hard as he could.

Buckbeak slowed down and they found themselves at a stop, unless you

counted the fact that they kept rising up and down several feet as the

hippogriff beat his wings to remain airborne.

"He's there!" Harry said, spotting Sirius as they rose up beside the

window. He reached out, and as Buckbeak's wings fell, was able to tap

sharply on the glass.

Black looked up. Harry saw his jaw drop. He leapt from his chair,

hurried to the window and tried to open it, but it was locked.

"Stand back!" Hermione called to him, and she took out her wand, still

gripping the back of Harry's robes with her left hand.

"Alohomora!"

The window sprang open.

"How -- how --?" said Black weakly, staring at the hippogriff

"Get on -- there's not much time," said Harry, gripping Buckbeak firmly

on either side of his sleek neck to hold him steady. "You've got to get

out of here -the dementors are coming -- Macnair's gone to get them."

Black placed a hand on either side of the window frame and heaved his

head and shoulders out of it. It was very lucky he was so thin. In

seconds, he had managed to fling one leg over Buckbeak's back and pull

himself onto the hippogriff behind Hermione.

"Okay, Buckbeak, up!" said Harry, shaking the rope. "Up to the tower --

come on.


The hippogriff gave one sweep of its mighty wings and they were soaring

upward again, high as the top of the West Tower. Buckbeak landed with a

clatter on the battlements, and Harry and Hermione slid off him at once.

"Sirius, you'd better go, quick," Harry panted. "They'll reach

Flitwick's office any moment, they'll find out you're gone."

Buckbeak pawed the ground, tossing his sharp head.

"What happened to the other boy? Ron?" croaked Sirius.

"He's going to be okay. He's still out of it, but Madam Pomfrey says

she'll be able to make him better. Quick -- go --"

But Black was still staring down at Harry.

"How can I ever thank --"

"GO!" Harry and Hermione shouted together.

Black wheeled Buckbeak around, facing the open sky.

"We'll see each other again," he said. "You are -- truly your father's

son, Harry...."

He squeezed Buckbeak's sides with his heels. Harry and Hermione jumped

back as the enormous wings rose once more.... The hippogriff took off

into the air.... He and his rider became smaller and smaller as Harry

gazed after them... then a cloud drifted across the moon.... They were

gone.


CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

OWL POST AGAIN

Harry!"

Hermione was tugging at his sleeve, staring at her watch. "We've got



exactly ten minutes to get back down to the hospital wing without

anybody seeing us -- before Dumbledore locks the door --"

"Okay," said Harry, wrenching his gaze from the sky, "let's go...."

They slipped through the doorway behind them and down a tightly

spiraling stone staircase. As they reached the bottom of it, they heard

voices. They flattened themselves against the wall and listened. It

sounded like Fudge and Snape. They were walking quickly along the

corridor at the foot of the staircase.

"... only hope Dumbledore's not going to make difficulties," Snape was

saying. "The Kiss will be performed immediately?"

"As soon as Macnair returns with the dementors. This whole Black affair

has been highly embarrassing. I can't tell you how much I'm looking

forward to informing the Daily Prophet that we've got him at last.... I

daresay they'll want to interview you, Snape... and once young Harry's

back in his right mind, I expect he'll want to tell the Prophet exactly

how you saved him...."

Harry clenched his teeth. He caught a glimpse of Snape's smirk as he and

Fudge passed Harry and Hermione's hiding place. Their footsteps died

away. Harry and Hermione waited a few moments to make sure they'd really

gone, then started to run in the opposite direction. Down one staircase,

then another, along a new ,corridor -- then they heard a cackling ahead.

"Peeves!" Harry muttered, grabbing Hermione's wrist. "In here!"

They tore into a deserted classroom to their left just in time. Peeves

seemed to be bouncing along the corridor in boisterous good spirits,

laughing his head off.

"Oh, he's horrible," whispered Hermione, her ear to the door. "I bet

he's all excited because the dementors are going to finish off

Sirius...." She checked her watch. "Three minutes, Harry!"

They waited until Peeves's gloating voice had faded into the distance,

then slid back out of the room and broke into a run again.

"Hermione -- what'll happen -- if we don't get back inside before

Dumbledore locks the door?" Harry panted.

I don't want to think about it!" Hermione moaned, checking her watch

again. "One minute!"

They had reached the end of the corridor with the hospital wing

entrance. "Okay -- I can hear Dumbledore," said Hermione tensely. "Come

on, Harry!"

They crept along the corridor. The door opened. Dumbledore's back

appeared.

"I am going to lock you in," they heard him saying. "it is five minutes

to midnight. Miss Granger, three turns should do It. Good luck."

Dumbledore backed out of the room, closed the door, and took out his

wand to magically lock it. Panicking, Harry and Hermione ran forward.

Dumbledore looked up, and a wide smile appeared under the long silver

mustache. "Well?" he said quietly.

"We did it!" said Harry breathlessly. "Sirius has gone, on Buckbeak...."

Dumbledore beamed at them.

"Well done. I think --" He listened intently for any sound within the

hospital wing. "Yes, I think you've gone too -- get inside -- I'll lock

you in --"

Harry and Hermione slipped back inside the dormitory. It was empty

except for Ron, who was still lying motionless in the end bed. As the

lock clicked behind them, Harry and Hermione crept back to their own

beds, Hermione tucking the Time-Turner back under her robes. A moment

later, Madam Pomfrey came striding back out of her office.

"Did I hear the headmaster leaving? Am I allowed to look after my

patients now?"

She was in a very bad mood. Harry and Hermione thought it best to accept

their chocolate quietly. Madam Pomfrey stood over them, making sure they

ate it. But Harry could hardly swallow. He and Hermione were waiting,

listening, their nerves jangling.... And then, as they both took a

fourth piece of chocolate from Madam Pomfrey, they heard a distant roar

of fury echoing from somewhere above them....

"What was that?" said Madam Pomfrey in alarm.

Now they could hear angry voices, growing louder and louder. Madam

Pomfrey was staring at the door.

"Really -- they'll wake everybody up! What do they think they're doing?"

Harry was trying to hear what the voices were saying. They were drawing

nearer --

"He must have Disapparated, Severus. We should have left somebody in the

room with him. When this gets out --"

"HE DIDN'T DISAPPARATE!" Snape roared, now very close at hand. "YOU

CAN'T APPARATE OR DISAPPARATE INSIDE THIS CASTLE! THIS -- HAS --

SOMETHING -- TO -- DO -- WITH -- POTTER!"

"Severus -- be reasonable -- Harry has been locked up --"

BAM.


The door of the hospital wing burst open.

Fudge, Snape, and Dumbledore came striding into the ward. Dumbledore

alone looked calm. Indeed, he looked as though he was quite enjoying

himself. Fudge appeared angry. But Snape was beside himself.

"OUT WITH IT, POTTER!" he bellowed. "WHAT DID YOU DO?"

"Professor Snape!" shrieked Madam Pomfrey. "Control yourself!"

"See here, Snape, be reasonable," said Fudge. "This door's been locked,

we just saw --"

"THEY HELPED HIM ESCAPE, I KNOW IT!" Snape howled, pointing at Harry and

Hermione. His face was twisted; spit was flying from his mouth.

"Calm down, man!" Fudge barked. "You're talking nonsense!"

"YOU DON'T KNOW POTTER!" shrieked Snape. "HE DID IT, I KNOW HE DID IT

--"

"That will do, Severus," said Dumbledore quietly. "Think about what you



are saying. This door has been locked since I left the ward ten minutes

ago. Madam Pomfrey, have these students left their beds?"

"Of course not!" said Madam Pomfrey, bristling. "I would have heard

them!"


"Well, there you have it, Severus," said Dumbledore calmly. "Unless you

are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at

once, I'm afraid I don't see any point in troubling them further."

Snape stood there, seething, staring from Fudge, who looked thoroughly

shocked at his behavior, to Dumbledore, whose eyes were twinkling behind

his glasses. Snape whirled about, robes swishing behind him, and stormed

out of the ward.

"Fellow seems quite unbalanced," said Fudge, staring after him. "I'd

watch out for him if I were you, Dumbledore."

"Oh, he's not unbalanced," said Dumbledore quietly. "He's just suffered

a severe disappointment."

"He's not the only one!" puffed Fudge. "The Daily Prophet's going to

have a field day! We had Black cornered and he slipped through our

fingers yet again! All it needs now is for the story of that

hippogriff's escape to get out, and I'll be a laughingstock! Well... I'd

better go and notify the Ministry.....

"And the dementors?" said Dumbledore. "They'll be removed from the

school, I trust?"

"Oh yes, they'll have to go," said Fudge, running his fingers

distractedly through his hair. "Never dreamed they'd attempt to

administer the Kiss on an innocent boy... Completely out of control...

no, I'll have them packed off back to Azkaban tonight.... Perhaps we

should think about dragons at the school entrance...."

"Hagrid would like that," said Dumbledore, smiling at Harry and

Hermione. As he and Fudge left the dormitory, Madam Pomfrey hurried to

the door and locked it again. Muttering angrily to herself, she headed

back to her office.

There was a low moan from the other end of the ward. Ron had woken up.

They could see him sitting up, rubbing his head, looking around.

"What -- what happened?" he groaned. "Harry? Why are we in here? Where's

Sirius? Where's Lupin? What's going on?"

Harry and Hermione looked at each other.

"You explain," said Harry, helping himself to some more chocolate.

When Harry, Ron, and Hermione left the hospital wing at noon the next

day, it was to find an almost deserted castle. The sweltering, heat and

the end of the exams meant that everyone was taking full advantage of

another Hogsmeade visit. Neither Ron nor Hermione felt like going,

however, so they and Harry wandered onto the grounds, still talking

about the extraordinary events of the previous night and wondering where

Sirius and Buckbeak were now. Sitting near the lake, watching the giant

squid waving its tentacles lazily above the water, Harry lost the thread

of the conversation as he looked across to the opposite bank. The stag

had galloped toward him from there just last night....

A shadow fell across them and they looked 'tip to see a very bleary-eyed

Hagrid, mopping his sweaty face with one of his tablecloth-sized

handkerchiefs and beaming down at them.

"Know I shouldn' feel happy, after wha' happened las' night," he said.

"I mean, Black escapin' again, an, everythin' -- but guess what?"

"What?" they said, pretending to look curious.

"Beaky! He escaped! He's free! Bin celebratin' all night!"

"That's wonderful!" said Hermione, giving Ron a reproving look because

he looked as though he was close to laughing.

"Yeah... can't've tied him up properly," said Hagrid, gazing happily out

over the grounds. "I was worried this mornin', mind... thought he mighta

met Professor Lupin on the grounds, but Lupin says he never ate anythin'

las' night...."

"What?" said Harry quickly.

"Blimey, haven' yeh heard?" said Hagrid, his smile fading a little. He

lowered his voice, even though there was nobody in sight. "Er -- Snape

told all the Slytherins this mornin'.... Thought everyone'd know by

now... Professor Lupin's a werewolf, see. An' he was loose on the

grounds las' night.... He's packin' now, o' course.

"He's packing?" said Harry, alarmed. "Why?"

"Leavin', isn' he?" said Hagrid, looking surprised that Harry had to

ask. "Resigned firs' thing this mornin'. Says he can't risk it happenin

again.


Harry scrambled to his feet.

"I'm going to see him," he said to Ron and Hermione.

"But if he's resigned --"

"-- doesn't sound like there's anything we can do --"

"I don't care. I still want to see him. I'll meet you back here."

Lupin's office door was open. He had already packed most of his things.

The grindylow's empty tank stood next to his battered old suitcase,

which was open and nearly full. Lupin was bending over something on his

desk and looked up only when Harry knocked on the door.

"I saw you coming," said Lupin, smiling. He pointed to the parchment he

had been poring over. It was the Marauder's Map.

"I just saw Hagrid," said Harry. "And he said you'd resigned. It's not

true, is it?"

"I'm afraid it is," said Lupin. He started opening his desk drawers and

taking out the contents.

"Why?" said Harry. "The Ministry of Magic don't think you were helping

Sirius, do they?"

Lupin crossed to the door and closed it behind Harry.

"No. Professor Dumbledore managed to convince Fudge that I was trying to

save your lives." He sighed. "That was the final straw for Severus. I

think the loss of the Order of Merlin hit him hard. So he -- er --

accidentally let slip that I am a werewolf this morning at breakfast."

"You're not leaving just because of that!" said Harry.

Lupin smiled wryly.

"This time tomorrow, the owls will start arriving from parents.... They

will not want a werewolf teaching their children, Harry. And after last

night, I see their point. I could have bitten any of you.... That must

never happen again."

"You're the best Defense Against the Dark Arts- teacher we've ever had!"

said Harry. "Don't go!"

Lupin shook his head and didn't speak. He carried on emptying his

drawers. Then, while Harry was trying to think of a good argument to

make him stay, Lupin said, "From what the headmaster told me this

morning, you saved a lot of lives last night, Harry. if I'm proud of

anything I've done this year, it's how much you've learned.... Tell me

about your Patronus."

"How d'you know about that?" said Harry, distracted.

"What else could have driven the dementors back?"

Harry told Lupin what had happened. When he'd finished, Lupin was

smiling again.

"Yes, your father was always a stag when he transformed," he said. "You

guessed right... that's why we called him Prongs."

Lupin threw his last few books into his case, closed the desk drawers,

and turned to look at Harry.

"Here -- I brought this from the Shrieking Shack last night," he said,

handing Harry back the Invisibility Cloak. "And..." He hesitated, then

held out the Marauder's Map too. "I am no longer your teacher, so I

don't feel guilty about giving you back this as well. It's no use to me,

and I daresay you, Ron, and Hermione will find uses for it."

Harry took the map and grinned.

"You told me Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs would've wanted to

lure me out of school... you said they'd have thought it was funny."

"And so we would have," said Lupin, now reaching down to close his case.

"I have no hesitation in saying that James would have been highly

disappointed if his son had never found any of the secret passages out

of the castle."

There was a knock on the door. Harry hastily stuffed the Marauder's Map

and the Invisibility Cloak into his pocket.

It was Professor Dumbledore. He didn't look surprised to see Harry

there.


"Your carriage is at the gates, Remus," he said.

"Thank You, Headmaster."

Lupin picked up his old suitcase and the empty grindylow tank.

"Well -- good-bye, Harry," he said, smiling. "It has been a real

pleasure teaching you. I feel sure we'll meet again sometime.

Headmaster, there is no need to see me to the gates, I can manage...."

Harry had the impression that Lupin wanted to leave as quickly as

possible.

"Good-bye, then, Remus," said Dumbledore soberly. Lupin shifted the

grindylow tank slightly so that he and Dumbledore could shake hands.

Then, with a final nod to Harry and a swift smile, Lupin left the

office.


Harry sat down in his vacated chair, staring glumly at the floor. He

heard the door close and looked up. Dumbledore was still there.

"Why so miserable, Harry?" he said quietly. "You should be very proud of

yourself after last night."

"It didn't make any difference," said Harry bitterly. "Pettigrew got

away."


"Didn't make any difference?" said Dumbledore quietly, "It made all the

difference in the world, Harry. You helped uncover the truth. You saved

an innocent man from a terrible fate."

Terrible. Something stirred in Harry's memory. Greater and more terrible

than ever before... Professor Trelawney's prediction!

"Professor Dumbledore -- yesterday, when I was having my Divination

exam, Professor Trelawney went very -- very strange."

"Indeed?" said Dumbledore. "Er -- stranger than usual, you mean?"

"Yes... her voice went all deep and her eyes rolled and she said ... she

said Voldemort's servant was going to set out to return to him before

midnight.... She said the servant would help him come back to power."

Harry stared up at Dumbledore. "And then she sort of became normal

again, and she couldn't remember anything she'd said. Was it -- was she

making a real prediction?"

Dumbledore looked mildly impressed.

"Do you know, Harry, I think she might have been." he said thoughtfully.

"Who'd have thought it? That brings her total of real predictions up to

two. I should offer her a pay raise...."

"But --" Harry looked at him, aghast. How could Dumbledore take this so

calmly?


"But -- I stopped Sirius and Professor Lupin from killing Pettigrew!

That makes it my fault if Voldemort comes back!"

"It does not," said Dumbledore quietly. "Hasn't your experience with the

Time-Turner taught you anything, Harry? The consequences of our actions

are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a

very difficult business indeed.... Professor Trelawney, bless her, is

living proof of that.... You did a very noble thing, in saving


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