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



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peppermint creams shaped like toads ("hop realistically in the

stomach!"), fragile sugar-spun quills, and exploding bonbons.

Harry squeezed himself through a crowd of sixth years and saw a sign

hanging in the farthest corner of the shop (UNUSUAL TASTES). Ron and

Hermione were standing underneath it, examining a tray of blood-flavored

lollipops. Harry sneaked up behind them.

"Ugh, no, Harry won't want one of those, they're for vampires, I

expect," Hermione was saying.

"How about these?" said Ron, shoving a jar of Cockroach Clusters under

Hermione's nose.

"Definitely not," said Harry.

Ron nearly dropped the jar.

"Harry!" squealed Hermione. "What are you doing here? How -- how did you

--?"


"Wow!" said Ron, looking very impressed, "you've learned to Apparate!"

"'Course I haven't," said Harry. He dropped his voice so that none of

the sixth years could hear him and told them all about the Marauder's

Map.


"How come Fred and George never gave it to me!" said Ron, outraged. "I'm

their brother!"

"But Harry isn't going to keep it!" said Hermione, as though the idea

were ludicrous. "He's going to hand it in to Professor McGonagall,

aren't you, Harry?"

"No, I'm not!" said Harry.

"Are you mad?" said Ron, goggling at Hermione. "Hand in something that

good?"


"If I hand it in, I'll have to say where I got it! Filch would know Fred

and George had nicked it!"

"But what about Sirius Black?" Hermione hissed. "He could be using one

of the passages on that map to get into the castle! The teachers have

got to know!"

"He can't be getting in through a passage," said Harry quickly. "There

are seven secret tunnels on the map, right? Fred and George reckon Filch

already knows about four of them. And of the other three -- one of

them's caved in, so no one can get through it. one of them's got the

Whomping Willow planted over the entrance, so you can't get out of it.

And the one I just came through -well - - it's really hard to see the

entrance to it down in the cellar, so unless he knew it was there..."

Harry hesistated. What if Black did know the passage was there?

Ron, however, cleared his throat significantly, and pointed to a notice

pasted on the inside of the sweetshop door.

--------BY ORDER OF -------- THE MINISTRY OF MAGIC

Customers are reminded that until further notice, dementors will be

patrolling the streets of Hogsmeade every night after sundown. This

measure has been put in place for the safety of Hogsmeade residents and

will be lifted upon the recapture of Sirius Black. It is therefore

advisable that you complete your shopping well before nightfall.

Merry Christmas!

"See?" said Ron quietly. "I'd like to see Black try and break into

Honeydukes with dementors swarming all over the village. Anyway,

Hermione, the Honeydukes owners would hear a break-in, wouldn't they?

They live over the shop!"

"Yes, but but --" Hermoine seemed to be struggling to find another

problem. "Look, Harry still shouldn't be coming into Hogsmeade. He

hasn't got a signed form! If anyone finds out, he'll be in so much

trouble! And it's not nightfall yet -- what if Sirius Black turns up

today? Now?"

"He'd have a job spotting Harry in this," said Ron, nodding through the

mullioned windows at the thick, swirling snow. "Come on, Hermione, it's

Christmas. Harry deserves a break."

Hermione bit her lip, looking extremely worried.

"Are you going to report me?" Harry asked her, grinning.

"Oh -- of course not -- but honestly, Harry --"

"Seen the Fizzing Whizbees, Harry?" said Ron, grabbing him and leading

him over to their barrel. "And the Jelly Slugs? And the Acid Pops? Fred

gave me one of those when I was seven -- it burnt a hole right through

my tongue. I remember Mum walloping him with her broomstick." Ron stared

broodingly into the Acid Pop box. "Reckon Fred'd take a bit of Cockroach

Cluster if I told him they were peanuts?"

When Ron and Hermione had paid for all their sweets, the three of them

left Honeydukes for the blizzard outside.

Hogsmeade looked like a Christmas card; the little thatched cottages and

shops were all covered in a layer of crisp snow; there were holly

wreaths on the doors and strings of enchanted candles hanging in the

trees.

Harry shivered; unlike the other two, he didn't have his cloak. They



headed up the street, heads bowed against the wind, Ron and Hermione

shouting through their scarves.

"That's the post office

"Zonko's is up there --"

"We could go up to the Shrieking Shack

"Tell you what," said Ron, his teeth chattering, "shall we go for a

butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks?"

Harry was more than willing; the wind was fierce and his hands were

freezing, so they crossed the road, and in a few minutes were entering

the tiny inn.

It was extremely crowded, noisy, warm, and smoky. A curvy sort of woman

with a pretty face was serving a bunch of rowdy warlock' up at the bar.

"That's Madam Rosmerta," said Ron. "I'll get the drinks, shall I?" he

added, going slightly red.

Harry and Hermione made their way to the back of the room, ,,her, there

was a small, vacant table between the window and a handsome Christmas

tree, which stood next to the fireplace. Ron came back five minutes

later, carrying three foaming tankards of hot butterbeer.

"Merry Christmas!" he said happily, raising his tankard.

Harry drank deeply. It was the most delicious thing he'd ever tasted and

seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside.

A sudden breeze ruffled his hair. The door of the Three Broomsticks had

opened again. Harry looked over the rim of his tankard and choked.

Professors McGonagall and Flitwick had just entered the pub with a

flurry of snowflakes, shortly followed by Hagrid, who was deep in

conversation with a portly man in a lime-green bowler hat and a

pinstriped cloak -- Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic.

In an instant, Ron and Hermione had both placed hands on the top of

Harry's head and forced him off his stool and under the table. Dripping

with butterbeer and crouching out of sight, Harry clutched his empty

tankard and watched the teachers' and Fudge's feet move toward the bar,

pause, then turn and walk right toward him.

Somewhere above him, Hermione whispered, Mobiliarbus!"

The Christmas tree beside their table rose a few inches off the ground,

drifted sideways, and landed with a soft thump right in front of their

table, hiding them from view. Staring through the dense lower branches,

Harry saw four sets of chair legs move back from the table right beside

theirs, then heard the grunts and sighs If the teachers and minister as

they sat down.

Next he saw another pair of feet, wearing sparkly turquoise high heels,

and heard a woman's voice. "A small gillywater --"

"Mine," said Professor McGonagall's voice.

"Four pints of mulled mead --"

"Ta, Rosmerta," said Hagrid.

"A cherry syrup and soda with ice and umbrella --"

"Mmm!" said Professor Flitwick, smacking his lips.

"So you'll be the red currant rum, Minister."

"Thank you, Rosmerta, m'dear," said Fudge's voice. "Lovely to see you

again, I must say. Have one yourself, won't you? Come and join us...."

"Well, thank you very much, Minister."

Harry watched the glittering heels march away and back again. His heart

was pounding uncomfortably in his throat. Why hadn't it occurred to him

that this was the last weekend of term for the teachers to& And how long

were they going to sit there? He needed time to sneak back into

Honeydukes if he wanted to return to school tonight.... Hermione's leg

gave a nervous twitch next to him.

"So, what brings you to this neck of the woods, Minister?" came Madam

Rosmerta's voice.

Harry saw the lower part of Fudge's thick body twist in his chair as

though he were checking for eavesdroppers. Then he said in a quiet

voice, "What else, m'dear, but Sirius Black? I daresay you heard what

happened up at the school at Halloween?"

I did hear a rumor," admitted Madam Rosmerta.

"Did you tell the whole pub, Hagrid?" said Professor McGonagall

exasperatedly.

"Do you think Blacks still in the area, Minister?" whispered Madam

Rosmerta.

"I'm sure of it," said Fudge shortly.

"You know that the dementors have searched the whole village twjce?"

said Madam Rosmerta, a slight edge to her voice. "Scared all my

customers away... It's very bad for business, Minister."

"Rosmerta, dear, I don't like them any more than you do," said Fudge

uncomfortably. "Necessary precaution... unfortunate, but there YOU

are.... I've just met some of them. They're in a fury against Dumbledore

-- he won't let them inside the castle grounds."

"I should think not," said Professor McGonagall sharply. "How are we

supposed to teach with those horrors floating around?"

"Hear, hear!" squeaked tiny Professor Flitwick, whose feet were dangling

a foot from the ground.

"All the same," demurred Fudge, "they are here to protect you all from

something much worse.... We all know what Black's capable of..."

"Do you know, I still have trouble believing it," said Madam Rosmerta

thoughtfully. "Of all the people to go over to the Dark Side, Sirius

Black was the last I'd have thought... I mean, I remember him when he

was a boy at Hogwarts. If you'd told me then what he was going to

become, I'd have said you'd had too much mead."

"You don't know the half of it, Rosmerta," said Fudge gruffly. "The

worst he did isn't widely known."

"The worst?" said Madam Rosmerta, her voice alive with curiosity, "Worse

than murdering all those poor people, you mean?"

"I certainly do," said Fudge.

"I ca'A believe that. What could possibly be worse?" "You say you

remember him at Hogwarts, Rosmerta," mur- mured Professor McGonagall.

"Do you remember who his-best friend was?"

"Naturally," said Madam Rosmerta, with a small laugh. "Never saw one

without the other, did you? The number of times I had them in here --

ooh, they used to make me laugh. Quite the double act, Sirius Black and

James Potter!"

Harry dropped his tankard with a loud clunk. Ron kicked him.

"Precisely," said Professor McGonagall. "Black and Potter. Ringleaders

of their little gang. Both very bright, of course -- exceptionally

bright, in fact -- but I don't think we've ever had such a pair of

troublemakers --"

"I dunno," chuckled Hagrid. "Fred and George Weasley could give 'em a

run fer their money."

"You'd have thought Black and Potter were brothers!" chimed in Professor

Flitwick. "Inseparable!"

"Of course they were," said Fudge. "Potter trusted Black beyond all his

other friends. Nothing changed when they left school. Black was best man

when James married Lily. Then they named him godfather to Harry. Harry

has no idea, of course. You can imagine how the idea would torment him."

"Because Black turned out to be in league with You-Know-Who?" whispered

Madam Rosmerta.

"Worse even than that, rn'dear...." Fudge dropped his voice and

proceeded in a sort of low rumble. "Not many people are aware that the

Potters knew You-Know-Who was after them. Dumbledore, who was of course

working tirelessly against You-Know-Who, had a number of useful spies.

One of them tipped him off, and he alerted James and Lily at once. He

advised them to go into hiding. Well, of course, You-Know-Who wasn't an

easy person to hide from. Dumbledore told them that their best chance

was the Fidelius Charm."

"How does that work?" said Madam Rosmerta, breathless with interest.

Professor Flitwick cleared his throat.

"An immensely complex spell," he said squeakily, "involving the magical

concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul. The information is

hidden inside the chosen person, or Secret-Keeper, and is henceforth

impossible to find -- unless, of course, the Secret-Keeper chooses to

divulge it. As long as the Secret-Keeper refused to speak, You-Know-Who

could search the village where Lily and James were staying for years and

never find them, not even if he had his nose pressed against their

sitting room window!"

"So Black was the Potters' Secret-Keeper?" whispered Madam Rosmerta.

"Naturally," said Professor McGonagall. "James Potter told Dumbledore

that Black would die rather than tell where they were, that Black was

planning to go into hiding himself... and yet, Dumbledore remained

worried. I remember him offering to be the Potters' Secret-Keeper

himself."

"He suspected Black?" gasped Madam Rosmerta.

"He was sure that somebody close to the Potters had been keeping

You-Know-Who informed of their movements," said Professor McGonagall

darkly. "Indeed, he had suspected for some time that someone on our side

had turned traitor and was passing a lot of information to

You-Know-Who."

"But James Potter insisted on using Black?"

"He did," said Fudge heavily. "And then, barely a week after the

Fidelius Charm had been performed --" "Black betrayed them?" breathed

Madam Rosmerta.

"He did indeed. Black was tired of his double-agent role, he was ready

to declare his support openly for You-Know-Who, and he seems to have

planned this for the moment of the Potters' death. But, as we all know,

You-Know-Who met his downfall in little Harry Potter. Powers gone,

horribly weakened, he fled. And this left Black in a very nasty position

indeed. His master had fallen at the very moment when he, Black, had

shown his true colors as a traitor. He had no choice but to run for it

--"

"Filthy, stinkin' turncoat!" Hagrid said, so loudly that half the bar



went quiet.

"Shh!" said Professor McGonagall.

"I met him!" growled Hagrid. "I musta bin the last ter see him before he

killed all them people! It was me what rescued Harry from Lily an'

James's house after they was killed! jus' got him outta the ruins, poor

little thing, with a great slash across his forehead, an' his parents

dead... an' Sirius Black turns up, on that flyin' motorbike he used ter

ride. Never occurred ter me what he was doin' there. I didn' know he'd

bin Lily an' James's Secret-Keeper. Thought he'd jus' heard the news o'

You-Know-Who's attack an' come ter see what he could do. White an'

shakin', he was. An' yeh know what I did? I COMFORTED THE MURDERIN'

TRAITOR!" Hagrid roared.

"Hagrid, please!" said Professor McGonagall. "Keep your voice down!"

"How was I ter know he wasn' upset abou' Lily an' James? It was

You-Know-Who he cared abou'! An' then he says, 'Give Harry ter me,

Hagrid, I'm his godfather, I'll look after him --' Ha! But I'd had me

orders from Dumbledore, an' I told Black no, Dumbledore said Harry was

ter go ter his aunt an' uncle's. Black argued, but in the end he gave

in. Told me ter take his motorbike ter get Harry there. 'I won't need it

anymore,' he says.

"I shoulda known there was somethin' fishy goin' on then. He loved that

motorbike, what was he givin' it ter me for? Why wouldn' he need it

anymore? Fact was, it was too easy ter trace. Dumbledore knew he'd bin

the Potters' Secret-Keeper. Black knew he was goin' ter have ter run fer

it that night, knew it was a matter o' hours before the Ministry was

after him.

"But what if I'd given Harry to him, eh? I bet he'd 've pitched him off

the bike halfway out ter sea. His bes' friends' son! But when a wizard

goes over ter the Dark Side, there's nothin' and no one that matters to

em anymore...."

A long silence followed Hagrid's story. Then Madam Rosmerta said with

some satisfaction, "But he didn't manage to disappear, did he? The

Ministry of Magic caught up with him next day!"

"Alas, if only we had," said Fudge bitterly. "It was not we who found

him. It was little Peter Pettigrew -- another of the Potters' friends.

Maddened by grief, no doubt, and knowing that Black had been the

Potters' Secret-Keeper, he went after Black himself."

"Pettigrew... that fat little boy who was always tagging around after

them at Hogwarts?" said Madam Rosmerta.

"Hero-worshipped Black and Potter," said Professor McGonagall. "Never

quite in their league, talent-wise. I was often rather ,harp with him.

You can imagine how I -how I regret that now..." She sounded as though

she had a sudden head cold.

"There, now, Minerva," said Fudge kindly, "Pettigrew died a hero's

death. Eyewitnesses -- Muggles, of course, we wiped their, memories

later -- told us how Pettigrew cornered Black. They say he was sobbing,

'Lily and James, Sirius! How could you?' And then he went for his wand.

Well, of course, Black was quicker. Blew Pettigrew to smithereens...."

Professor McGonagall blew her nose and said thickly, "Stupid boy ...

foolish boy... he was always hopeless at dueling... should have left it

to the Ministry...."

"I tell yeh, if I'd got ter Black before little Pettigrew did, I

wouldn't 've messed around with wands -- I'd 've ripped him limb -- from

-- limb," Hagrid growled.

"You don't know what you're talking about, Hagrid," said Fudge sharply.

"Nobody but trained Hit Wizards from the Magical Law Enforcement Squad

would have stood a chance against Black once he was cornered. I was

Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Catastrophes at the time,

and I was one of the first on the scene after Black murdered all those

people. I -- I will never forget it. I still dream about it sometimes. A

crater in the middle of the street, so deep it had cracked the sewer

below. Bodies everywhere. Muggles screaming. And Black standing there

laughing, with what was left of Pettigrew in front of him... a heap of

bloodstained robes and a few -- a few fragments --"

Fudge's voice stopped abruptly. There was the sound of five noses being

blown.


"Well, there you have it, Rosmerta," said Fudge thickly. "Black was

taken away by twenty members of the Magical Law Enforcement 'Squad and

Pettigrew received the Order of Merlin, First Class, which I think was

some comfort to his poor mother. Blades been in Azkaban ever since."

Madam Rosmerta let out a long sigh.

"Is it true he's mad, Minister?"

"I wish I could say that he was," said Fudge slowly. "I certainly

believe his master's defeat unhinged him for a while. The murder of

Pettigrew and all those Muggles was the action of a cornered and

desperate man -- cruel... pointless. Yet I met Black on my last

inspection of Azkaban. You know, most of the prisoners in there sit

muttering to themselves in the dark; there's no sense in them... but I

was shocked at how normal Black seemed. He spoke quite rationally to me.

It was unnerving. You'd have thought he was merely bored -- asked if I'd

finished with my newspaper, cool as you please, said he missed doing the

crossword. Yes, I was astounded at how little effect the dementors

seemed to be having on him -- and he was one of the most heavily guarded

in the place, you know. Dementors outside his door day and night."

"But what do you think he's broken out to do?" said Madam Rosmerta.

"Good gracious, Minister, he isn't trying to rejoin You-Know-Who, is

he?"

I daresay that is his -- er -- eventual plan," said Fudge evasively.



"But we hope to catch Black long before that. I must say, You-Know-Who

alone and friendless is one thing... but give him back his most devoted

servant, and I shudder to think how quickly he'll rise again...."

There was a small chink of glass on wood. Someone had set down their

glass.

"You know, Cornelius, if you're dining with the headmaster, he'd better



head back up to the castle," said Professor McGonagall.

One by one, the pairs of feet in front of Harry took the weight of their

owners once more; hems of cloaks swung into sight, and Madam Rosemerta's

glittering heels disappeared behind the bar. The door of the Three

Broomsticks opened again, there was another flurry of snow, and the

teachers had disappeared.

"Harry?"

Ron's and Hermione's faces appeared under the table. They were both

staring at him, lost for words.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

THE FIREBOLT

Harry didn't have a very clear idea of how he had managed to get back

into the Honeydukes cellar, through the tunnel, and into the castle once

more. All he knew was that the return trip seemed to take no time at

all, and that he hardly noticed what he was doing, because his head was

still pounding with the conversation he had just heard.

Why had nobody ever told him? Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley, Cornelius

Fudge... why hadn't anyone ever mentioned the fact that Harry's parents

had died because their best friend had betrayed them?

Ron and Herinione watched Harry nervously all through dintier, not

daring to talk about what they'd overheard, because Percy was sitting

close by them. When they went upstairs to the crowded common room, it

was to find Fred and George had set off half a dozen Dungbombs in a fit

of end- of-term high spirits. Harry, who didn't want Fred and George

asking him whether he'd reached Hogsmeade or not, sneaked quietly up to

the empty dormitory and headed straight for his bedside cabinet. He

pushed his books aside and quickly found what he was looking for -- the

leather-bound photo album Hagrid had given him two years ago, which was

full of wizard pictures of his mother and father. He sat down on his

bed, drew the hangings around him, and started turning the pages,

searching, until...

He stopped on a picture of his parents' wedding day. There was his

father waving up at him, beaming, the untidy black hair Harry had

inherited standing up in all directions. There was his mother, alight

with happiness, arm in arm with his dad. And there ... that must be him.

Their best man... Harry had never given him a thought before.

If he hadn't known it was the same person, he would never have guessed

it was Black in this old photograph. His face wasn't sunken and waxy,

but handsome, full of laughter. Had he already been working for

Voldemort when this picture had been taken? Was he already planning the

deaths of the two people next to him? Did he realize he was facing

twelve years in Azkaban, twelve years that would make him


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