Madam Pomfrey insisted on keeping Harry in the hospital wing for the rest of the weekend. He didn't argue or complain, but he wouldn't let her throw away the shattered remnants of his Nimbus Two Thousand. He knew he was being stupid, knew that the Nimbus was beyond repair, but Harry couldn't help it; he felt as though he'd lost one of his best friends. .cartier love bracelet replica.
He had a stream of visitors, all intent on cheering him up. Hagrid sent him a bunch of earwiggy flowers that looked like yellow cabbages, and Ginny Weasley, blushing furiously, turned up with a get-well card she had made herself, which sang shrilly unless Harry kept it shut under his bowl of fruit. The Gryffindor team visited again on Sunday morning, this time accompanied by Wood, who told Harry (in a hollow, dead sort of voice) that he didn't blame him in the slightest. Ron and Hermione left Harry's bedside only at night. But nothing anyone said or did could make Harry feel any better, because they knew only half of what was troubling him. .cartier love bracelet replica.
He hadn't told anyone about the Grim, not even Ron and Hermione, because he knew Ron would panic and Hermione would scoff. The fact remained, however, that it had now appeared twice, and both appearances had been followed by near-fatal accidents; the first time, he had nearly been run over by the Knight Bus; the second, fallen fifty feet from his broomstick. Was the Grim going to haunt him until he actually died? Was he going to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder for the beast? .cartier love ring replica.
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Because Harry knew who that screaming voice belonged to now. He had heard her words, heard them over and over again during the night hours in the hospital wing while he lay awake, staring at the strips of moonlight on the ceiling. When the Dementors approached him, he heard the last moments of his mother's life, her attempts to protect him, Harry, from Lord Voldemort, and Voldemort's laughter before he murdered herâ€¦Harry dozed fitfully, sinking into dreams full of clammy, rotted hands and petrified pleading, jerking awake to dwell again on his mother's voice. .moncler jackets outlet.
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It was a relief to return to the noise and bustle of the main school on Monday, where he was forced to think about other things, even if he had to endure Draco Malfoy's taunting. Malfoy was almost beside himself with glee at Gryffindor's defeat. He had finally taken off his bandages, and celebrated having the full use of both arms again by doing spirited imitations of Harry falling off his broom. Malfoy spent much of their next Potions class doing Dementor imitations across the dungeon; Ron finally cracked and flung a large, slippery crocodile heart at Malfoy, which hit him in the face and caused Snape to take fifty points from Gryffindor. .cartier love bracelet replica.
â€œIf Snape's teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts again, I'm skiving off,â€ said Ron as they headed toward Lupin's classroom after lunch. â€œCheck who's in there, Hermione.â€ .Christian Louboutin Outlet.
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Professor Lupin was back at work. It certainly looked as though he had been ill. His old robes were hanging more loosely on him and there were dark shadows beneath his eyes; nevertheless, he smiled at the class as they took their seats, and they burst at once into an explosion of complaints about Snape's behavior while Lupin had been ill. .cartier love bracelet replica.
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â€œâ€” two rolls of parchment!â€ .cartier love bracelet replica.
â€œDid you tell Professor Snape we haven't covered them yet?â€ Lupin asked, frowning slightly. .Bvlgari rings fake.
The babble broke out again.
â€œYes, but he said we were really behind â€”â€
â€œâ€” he wouldn't listen â€”â€
â€œâ€” two rolls of parchment!â€
Professor Lupin smiled at the look of indignation on every face.
â€œDon't worry. I'll speak to Professor Snape. You don't have to do the essay.â€
â€œOh no,â€ said Hermione, looking very disappointed. â€œI've already finished it!â€
They had a very enjoyable lesson. Professor Lupin had brought along a glass box containing a Hinkypunk, a little one-legged creature who looked as though he were made of wisps of smoke, rather frail and harmless looking.
â€œLures travelers into bogs,â€ said Professor Lupin as they took notes. â€œYou notice the lantern dangling from his hand? Hops ahead â€” people follow the light â€” then â€”â€
The Hinkypunk made a horrible squelching noise against the glass.
When the bell rang, everyone gathered up their things and headed for the door, Harry among them, but â€”
â€œWait a moment, Harry,â€ Lupin called. â€œI'd like a word.â€
Harry doubled back and watched Professor Lupin covering the Hinkypunk's box with a cloth.
â€œI heard about the match,â€ said Lupin, turning back to his desk and starting to pile books into his briefcase, â€œand I'm sorry about your broomstick. Is there any chance of fixing it?â€
â€œNo,â€ said Harry. â€œThe tree smashed it to bits.â€
â€œThey planted the Whomping Willow the same year that I arrived at Hogwarts. People used to play a game, trying to get near enough to touch the trunk. In the end, a boy called Davey Gudgeon nearly lost an eye, and we were forbidden to go near it. No broomstick would have a chance.â€
â€œDid you hear about the Dementors too?â€ said Harry with difficulty.
Lupin looked at him quickly.
â€œYes, I did. I don't think any of us have seen Professor Dumbledore that angry. They have been growing restless for some timeâ€¦furious at his refusal to let them inside the groundsâ€¦I suppose they were the reason you fell?â€
â€œYes,â€ said Harry. He hesitated, and then the question he had to ask burst from him before he could stop himself. â€œWhy? Why do they affect me like that? Am I just â€”?â€
â€œIt has nothing to do with weakness,â€ said Professor Lupin sharply, as though he had read Harry's mind. â€œThe Dementors affect you worse than the others because there are horrors in your past that the others don't have.â€
A ray of wintry sunlight fell across the classroom, illuminating Lupin's gray hairs and the lines on his young face.
â€œDementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can't see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself â€” soul-less and evil. You'll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life. And the worst that happened to you, Harry, is enough to make anyone fall off their broom. You have nothing to feel ashamed of.â€
â€œWhen they get near me â€”â€ Harry stared at Lupin's desk, his throat tight. â€œI can hear Voldemort murdering my mum.â€
Lupin made a sudden motion with his arm as though to grip Harry's shoulder, but thought better of it. There was a moment's silence, then â€”
â€œWhy did they have to come to the match?â€ said Harry bitterly.
â€œThey're getting hungry,â€ said Lupin coolly, shutting his briefcase with a snap. â€œDumbledore won't let them into the school, so their supply of human prey has dried upâ€¦I don't think they could resist the large crowd around the Quidditch field. All that excitementâ€¦emotions running highâ€¦it was their idea of a feast.â€
â€œAzkaban must be terrible,â€ Harry muttered. Lupin nodded grimly.
â€œThe fortress is set on a tiny island, way out to sea, but they don't need walls and water to keep the prisoners in, not when they're all trapped inside their own heads, incapable of a single cheery thought. Most of them go mad within weeks.â€
â€œBut Sirius Black escaped from them,â€ Harry said slowly. â€œHe got awayâ€¦â€
Lupin's briefcase slipped from the desk; he had to stoop quickly to catch it.
â€œYes,â€ he said, straightening up, â€œBlack must have found a way to fight them. I wouldn't have believed it possibleâ€¦Dementors are supposed to drain a wizard of his powers if he is left with them too longâ€¦â€
â€œYou made that Dementor on the train back off,â€ said Harry suddenly.
â€œThere are â€” certain defenses one can use,â€ said Lupin. â€œBut there was only one Dementor on the train. The more there are, the more difficult it becomes to resist.â€
â€œWhat defenses?â€ said Harry at once. â€œCan you teach me?â€
â€œI don't pretend to be an expert at fighting Dementors, Harry â€” quite the contraryâ€¦â€
â€œBut if the Dementors come to another Quidditch match, I need to be able to fight them â€”â€
Lupin looked into Harry's determined face, hesitated, then said, â€œWellâ€¦all right. I'll try and help. But it'll have to wait until next term, I'm afraid. I have a lot to do before the holidays. I chose a very inconvenient time to fall ill.â€
What with the promise of anti-Dementor lessons from Lupin, the thought that he might never have to hear his mother's death again, and the fact that Ravenclaw flattened Hufflepuff in their Quidditch match at the end of November, Harry's mood took a definite upturn. Gryffindor were not out of the running after all, although they could not afford to lose another match. Wood became repossessed of his manic energy, and worked his team as hard as ever in the chilly haze of rain that persisted into December. Harry saw no hint of a Dementor within the grounds. Dumbledore's anger seemed to be keeping them at their stations at the entrances.
Two weeks before the end of the term, the sky lightened suddenly to a dazzling, opaline white and the muddy grounds were revealed one morning covered in glittering frost. Inside the castle, there was a buzz of Christmas in the air. Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher, had already decorated his classroom with shimmering lights that turned out to be real, fluttering fairies. The students were all happily discussing their plans for the holidays. Both Ron and Hermione had decided to remain at Hogwarts, and though Ron said it was because he couldn't stand two weeks with Percy, and Hermione insisted she needed to use the library, Harry wasn't fooled; they were doing it to keep him company, and he was very grateful.
To everyone's delight except Harry's, there was to be another Hogsmeade trip on the very last weekend of the term.
â€œWe can do all our Christmas shopping there!â€ said Hermione. â€œMum and Dad would really love those Toothflossing Stringmints from Honeydukes!â€
Resigned to the fact that he would be the only third year staying behind again, Harry borrowed a copy of Which Broomstick from Wood, and decided to spend the day reading up on the different makes. He had been riding one of the school brooms at team practice, an ancient Shooting Star, which was very slow and jerky; he definitely needed a new broom of his own.
On the Saturday morning of the Hogsmeade trip, Harry bid good-bye to Ron and Hermione, who were wrapped in cloaks and scarves, then turned up the marble staircase alone, and headed back toward Gryffindor Tower. Snow had started to fall outside the windows, and the castle was very still and quiet.
â€œPsst â€” Harry!â€
He turned, halfway along the third-floor corridor, to see Fred and George peering out at him from behind a statue of a humpbacked, one-eyed witch.
â€œWhat are you doing?â€ said Harry curiously. â€œHow come you're not going to Hogsmeade?â€
â€œWe've come to give you a bit of festive cheer before we go,â€ said Fred, with a mysterious wink. â€œCome in hereâ€¦â€
He nodded toward an empty classroom to the left of the one-eyed statue. Harry followed Fred and George inside. George closed the door quietly and then turned, beaming, to look at Harry.
â€œEarly Christmas present for you, Harry,â€ he said.
Fred pulled something from inside his cloak with a flourish and laid it on one of the desks. It was a large, square, very worn piece of parchment with nothing written on it. Harry, suspecting one of Fred and George's jokes, stared at it.
â€œWhat's that supposed to be?â€
â€œThis, Harry, is the secret of our success,â€ said George, patting the parchment fondly.
â€œIt's a wrench, giving it to you,â€ said Fred, â€œbut we decided last night, your need's greater than ours.â€
â€œAnyway, we know it by heart,â€ said George. â€œWe bequeath it to you. We don't really need it anymore.â€
â€œAnd what do I need with a bit of old parchment?â€ said Harry.
â€œA bit of old parchment!â€ said Fred, closing his eyes with a grimace as though Harry had mortally offended him. â€œExplain, George.â€
â€œWellâ€¦when we were in our first year, Harry â€” young, carefree, and innocent â€”â€
Harry snorted. He doubted whether Fred and George had ever been innocent.
â€œâ€“ well, more innocent than we are now â€” we got into a spot of bother with Filch.â€
â€œWe let off a Dungbomb in the corridor and it upset him for some reason â€”â€
â€œSo he hauled us off to his office and started threatening us with the usual â€”â€
â€œâ€” detention â€”â€
â€œâ€” disembowelment â€”â€
â€œâ€” and we couldn't help noticing a drawer in one of his filing cabinets marked Confiscated and Highly Dangerous.â€
â€œDon't tell me â€”â€ said Harry, starting to grin.
â€œWell, what would you've done?â€ said Fred. â€œGeorge caused a diversion by dropping another Dungbomb, I whipped the drawer open, and grabbed â€” this.â€
â€œIt's not as bad as it sounds, you know,â€ said George. â€œWe don't reckon Filch ever found out how to work it. He probably suspected what it was, though, or he wouldn't have confiscated it.â€
â€œAnd you know how to work it?â€
â€œOh yes,â€ said Fred, smirking. â€œThis little beauty's taught us more than all the teachers in this school.â€
â€œYou're winding me up,â€ said Harry, looking at the ragged old bit of parchment.
â€œOh, are we?â€ said George.
He took out his wand, touched the parchment lightly, and said, â€œI solemnly swear that I am up to no good.â€
And at once, thin ink lines began to spread like a spider's web from the point that George's wand had touched. They joined each other, they crisscrossed, they fanned into every corner of the parchment; then words began to blossom across the top, great, curly green words, that proclaimed:
Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers
are proud to present
THE MARAUDER'S MAP
It was a map showing every detail of the Hogwarts castle and grounds. But the truly remarkable thing were the tiny ink dots moving around it, each labeled with a name in minuscule writing. Astounded, Harry bent over it. A labeled dot in the top left corner showed that Professor Dumbledore was pacing his study; the caretaker's cat, Mrs. Norris, was prowling the second floor; and Peeves the Poltergeist was currently bouncing around the trophy room. And as Harry's eyes traveled up and down the familiar corridors, he noticed something else.
This map showed a set of passages he had never entered. And many of them seemed to lead â€”
â€œRight into Hogsmeade,â€ said Fred, tracing one of them with his finger. â€œThere are seven in all. Now, Filch knows about these fourâ€ â€” he pointed them out â€” â€œbut we're sure we're the only ones who know about these. Don't bother with the one behind the mirror on the fourth floor. We used it until last winter, but it's caved in â€” completely blocked. And we don't reckon anyone's ever used this one, because the Whomping Willow's planted right over the entrance. But this one here, this one leads right into the cellar of Honeydukes. We've used it loads of times. And as you might've noticed, the entrance is right outside this room, through that one-eyed old crone's hump.â€
â€œMoony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs,â€ sighed George, patting the heading of the map. â€œWe owe them so much.â€
â€œNoble men, working tirelessly to help a new generation of lawbreakers,â€ said Fred solemnly.
â€œRight,â€ said George briskly. â€œDon't forget to wipe it after you've used it â€”â€
â€œâ€” or anyone can read it,â€ Fred said warningly.
â€œJust tap it again and say, â€œMischief managed!â€ And it'll go blank.â€
â€œSo, young Harry,â€ said Fred, in an uncanny impersonation of Percy, â€œmind you behave yourself.â€
â€œSee you in Honeydukes,â€ said George, winking.
They left the room, both smirking in a satisfied sort of way.
Harry stood there, gazing at the miraculous map. He watched the tiny ink Mrs. Norris turn left and pause to sniff at something on the floor. If Filch really didn't knowâ€¦he wouldn't have to pass the Dementors at allâ€¦.
But even as he stood there, flooded with excitement, something Harry had once heard Mr. Weasley say came floating out of his memory.
Never trust anything that can think for itself, if you can't see where it keeps its brain.
This map was one of those dangerous magical objects Mr. Weasley had been warning againstâ€¦Aids for Magical Mischief Makersâ€¦but then, Harry reasoned, he only wanted to use it to get into Hogsmeade, it wasn't as though he wanted to steal anything or attack anyoneâ€¦and Fred and George had been using it for years without anything horrible happeningâ€¦
Harry traced the secret passage to Honeydukes with his finger.
Then, quite suddenly, as though following orders, he rolled up the map, stuffed it inside his robes, and hurried to the door of the classroom. He opened it a couple of inches. There was no one outside. Very carefully, he edged out of the room and behind the statue of the one-eyed witch.
What did he have to do? He pulled out the map again and saw to his astonishment, that a new ink figure had appeared upon it, labeled â€˜Harry Potter'. This figure was standing exactly where the real Harry was standing, about halfway down the third-floor corridor. Harry watched carefully. His little Ink self appeared to be tapping the witch with his minute wand. Harry quickly took out his real wand and tapped the statue. Nothing happened. He looked back at the map. The tiniest speech bubble had appeared next to his figure. The word inside said, â€˜Dissendium.â€™
â€œDissendium!â€ Harry whispered, tapping the stone witch again.
At once, the statue's hump opened wide enough to admit a fairly thin person. Harry glanced quickly up and down the corridor, then tucked the map away again, hoisted himself into the hole headfirst, and pushed himself forward.
He slid a considerable way down what felt like a stone slide, then landed on cold, damp earth. He stood up, looking around. It was pitch dark. He held up his wand, muttered, â€œLumos!â€ and saw that he was in a very narrow, low, earthy passageway. He raised the map, tapped it with the tip of his wand, and muttered, â€œMischief managed!â€ The map went blank at once. He folded it carefully, tucked it inside his robes, then, heart beating fast, both excited and apprehensive, he set off.
The passage twisted and turned, more like the burrow of a giant rabbit than anything else. Harry hurried along it, stumbling now and then on the uneven floor, holding his wand out in front of him.
It took ages, but Harry had the thought of Honeydukes to sustain him. After what felt like an hour, the passage began to rise. Panting, Harry sped up, his face hot, his feet very cold.
Ten minutes later, he came to the foot of some worn stone steps, which rose out of sight above him. Careful not to make any noise, Harry began to climb. A hundred steps, two hundred steps, he lost count as he climbed, watching his feetâ€¦then, without warning, his head hit something hard.
It seemed to be a trapdoor. Harry stood there, massaging the top of his head, listening. He couldn't hear any sounds above him. Very slowly, he pushed the trapdoor open and peered over the edge.
He was in a cellar, which was full of wooden crates and boxes. Harry climbed out of the trapdoor and replaced it â€” it blended so perfectly with the dusty floor that it was impossible to tell it was there. Harry crept slowly toward the wooden staircase that led upstairs. Now he could definitely hear voices, not to mention the tinkle of a bell and the opening and shutting of a door.
Wondering what he ought to do, he suddenly heard a door open much closer at hand; somebody was about to come downstairs.
â€œAnd get another box of Jelly Slugs, dear, they've nearly cleaned us out â€”â€ said a woman's voice.
A pair of feet was coming down the staircase. Harry leapt behind an enormous crate and waited for the footsteps to pass. He heard the man shifting boxes against the opposite wall. He might not get another chance â€”
Quickly and silently, Harry dodged out from his hiding place and climbed the stairs; looking back, he saw an enormous backside and shiny bald head, buried in a box. Harry reached the door at the top of the stairs, slipped through it, and found himself behind the counter of Honeydukes â€” he ducked, crept sideways, and then straightened up.
Honeydukes was so crowded with Hogwarts students that no one looked twice at Harry. He edged among them, looking around, and suppressed a laugh as he imagined the look that would spread over Dudley's piggy face if he could see where Harry was now.
There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable. Creamy chunks of nougat, shimmering pink squares of coconut ice, fat, honey-colored toffees; hundreds of different kinds of chocolate in neat rows; there was a large barrel of Every Flavor Beans, and another of Fizzing Whizbees, the levitating sherbet balls that Ron had mentioned; along yet another wall were â€˜Special Effectsâ€™ â€” sweets: Droobles Best Blowing Gum (which filled a room with bluebell-colored bubbles that refused to pop for days), the strange, splintery Toothflossing Stringmints, tiny black Pepper Imps (â€˜breathe fire for your friends!'), Ice Mice (â€˜hear your teeth chatter and squeak!'), peppermint creams shaped like toads (â€˜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.
â€œUgh, no, Harry won't want one of those, they're for vampires, I expect,â€ Hermione was saying.
â€œHow about these?â€ said Ron, shoving a jar of Cockroach Clusters under Hermione's nose.
â€œDefinitely not,â€ said Harry.
Ron nearly dropped the jar.
â€œHarry!â€ squealed Hermione. â€œWhat are you doing here? How â€” how did you â€”?â€
â€œWow!â€ said Ron, looking very impressed, â€œyou've learned to Apparate!â€
â€œâ€˜Course I haven't,â€ 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.
â€œHow come Fred and George never gave it to me!â€ said Ron, outraged. â€œI'm their brother!â€
â€œBut Harry isn't going to keep it!â€ said Hermione, as though the idea were ludicrous. â€œHe's going to hand it in to Professor McGonagall, aren't you, Harry?â€
â€œNo, I'm not!â€ said Harry.
â€œAre you mad?â€ said Ron, goggling at Hermione. â€œHand in something that good?â€
â€œIf I hand it in, I'll have to say where I got it! Filch would know Fred and George had nicked it!â€
â€œBut what about Sirius Black?â€ Hermione hissed. â€œHe could be using one of the passages on that map to get into the castle! The teachers have got to know!â€
â€œHe can't be getting in through a passage,â€ said Harry quickly. â€œThere are seven secret tunnels on the map, right? Fred and George reckon Filch already knows about four of them. And of the other three â€” 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 â€” well â€” it's really hard to see the entrance to it down in the cellar â€” so unless he knew it was there â€”â€
Harry hesitated. 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.
â€œSee?â€ said Ron quietly. â€œI'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!â€
â€œYes, but â€” but â€”â€ Heroine seemed to be struggling to find another problem. â€œLook, 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 â€” what if Sirius Black turns up today? Now?â€
â€œHe'd have a job spotting Harry in this,â€ said Ron, nodding through the mullioned windows at the thick, swirling snow. â€œCome on, Hermione, it's Christmas. Harry deserves a break.â€
Hermione bit her lip, looking extremely worried.
â€œAre you going to report me?â€ Harry asked her, grinning.
â€œOh â€” of course not â€” but honestly, Harry â€”â€
â€œSeen the Fizzing Whizbees, Harry?â€ said Ron, grabbing him and leading him over to their barrel. â€œAnd the Jelly Slugs? And the Acid Pops? Fred gave me one of those when I was seven â€” it burnt a hole right through my tongue. I remember Mum walloping him with her broomstick.â€ Ron stared broodingly into the Acid Pop box. â€œReckon Fred'd take a bite of Cockroach Cluster if I told him they were peanuts?â€
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.
â€œThat's the post office â€”â€
â€œZonko's is up there â€”â€
â€œWe could go up to the Shrieking Shack â€”â€
â€œTell you what,â€ said Ron, his teeth chattering, â€œshall we go for a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks?â€
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 warlocks up at the bar.
â€œThat's Madam Rosmerta,â€ said Ron. â€œI'll get the drinks, shall I?â€ he added, going slightly red.
Harry and Hermione made their way to the back of the room, where 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.
â€œMerry Christmas!â€ 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 â€” 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 teachersâ€™ and Fudge's feet move toward the bar, pause, then turn and walk right toward him.
Somewhere above him, Hermione whispered, â€œMobiliarbus!â€
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 of 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.
â€œA small gillywater â€”â€
â€œMine,â€ said Professor McGonagall's voice.
â€œFour pints of mulled mead â€”â€
â€œTa, Rosmerta,â€ said Hagrid.
â€œA cherry syrup and soda with ice and umbrella â€”â€
â€œMmm!â€ said Professor Flitwick, smacking his lips.
â€œSo you'll be the red currant rum, Minister.â€
â€œThank you, Rosmerta, m'dear,â€ said Fudge's voice. â€œLovely to see you again, I must say. Have one yourself, won't you? Come and join usâ€¦â€
â€œWell, thank you very much, Minister.â€
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 too? 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 â€¦ Hermione's leg gave a nervous twitch next to him.
â€œSo, what brings you to this neck of the woods, Minister?â€ 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, â€œWhat else, m'dear, but Sirius Black? I daresay you heard what happened up at the school at Halloween?â€
â€œI did hear a rumor,â€ admitted Madam Rosmerta.
â€œDid you tell the whole pub, Hagrid?â€ said Professor McGonagall exasperatedly.
â€œDo you think Black's still in the area, Minister?â€ whispered Madam Rosmerta.
â€œI'm sure of it,â€ said Fudge shortly.
â€œYou know that the Dementors have searched the whole village twice?â€ said Madam Rosmerta, a slight edge to her voice. â€œScared all my customers awayâ€¦It's very bad for business, Minister.â€
â€œRosmerta, dear, I don't like them any more than you do,â€ said Fudge uncomfortably. â€œNecessary precautionâ€¦ unfortunate, but there you areâ€¦I've just met some of them. They're in a fury against Dumbledore â€” he won't let them inside the castle grounds.â€
â€œI should think not,â€ said Professor McGonagall sharply. â€œHow are we supposed to teach with those horrors floating around?â€
â€œHear, hear!â€ squeaked tiny Professor Flitwick, whose feet were dangling a foot from the ground.
â€œAll the same,â€ demurred Fudge, â€œthey are here to protect you all from something much worseâ€¦We all know what Black's capable ofâ€¦â€
â€œDo you know, I still have trouble believing it,â€ said Madam Rosmerta thoughtfully. â€œOf all the people to go over to the Dark Side, Sirius Black was the last I'd have thoughtâ€¦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.â€
â€œYou don't know the half of it, Rosmerta,â€ said Fudge gruffly. â€œThe worst he did isn't widely known.â€
â€œThe worst?â€ said Madam Rosmerta, her voice alive with curiosity. â€œWorse than murdering all those poor people, you mean?â€
â€œI certainly do,â€ said Fudge.
â€œI can't believe that. What could possibly be worse?â€
â€œYou say you remember him at Hogwarts, Rosmerta,â€ murmured Professor McGonagall. â€œDo you remember who his best friend was?â€
â€œNaturally,â€ said Madam Rosmerta, with a small laugh. â€œNever saw one without the other, did you? The number of times I had them in here â€” ooh, they used to make me laugh. Quite the double act, Sirius Black and James Potter!â€
Harry dropped his tankard with a loud clunk. Ron kicked him.
â€œPrecisely,â€ said Professor McGonagall. â€œBlack and Potter. Ringleaders of their little gang. Both very bright, of course â€” exceptionally bright, in fact â€” but I don't think we've ever had such a pair of troublemakers â€”â€
â€œI dunno,â€ chuckled Hagrid. â€œFred and George Weasley could give â€˜em a run fer their money.â€
â€œYou'd have thought Black and Potter were brothers!â€ chimed in Professor Flitwick. â€œInseparable!â€
â€œOf course they were,â€ said Fudge. â€œPotter 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.â€
â€œBecause Black turned out to be in league with You-Know-Who?â€ whispered Madam Rosmerta.
â€œWorse even than that, m'dearâ€¦â€ Fudge dropped his voice and proceeded in a sort of low rumble. â€œNot 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.â€
â€œHow does that work?â€ said Madam Rosmerta, breathless with interest. Professor Flitwick cleared his throat.
â€œAn immensely complex spell,â€ he said squeakily, â€œinvolving 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 â€” 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!â€
â€œSo Black was the Pottersâ€™ Secret-Keeper?â€ whispered Madam Rosmerta.
â€œNaturally,â€ said Professor McGonagall. â€œJames Potter told Dumbledore that Black would die rather than tell where they were, that Black was planning to go into hiding himselfâ€¦and yet, Dumbledore remained worried. I remember him offering to be the Pottersâ€™ Secret-Keeper himself.â€
â€œHe suspected Black?â€ gasped Madam Rosmerta.
â€œHe was sure that somebody close to the Potters had been keeping You-Know-Who informed of their movements,â€ said Professor McGonagall darkly. â€œIndeed, 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.â€
â€œBut James Potter insisted on using Black?â€
â€œHe did,â€ said Fudge heavily. â€œAnd then, barely a week after the Fidelius Charm had been performed â€”â€
â€œBlack betrayed them?â€ breathed Madam Rosmerta.
â€œHe 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 Pottersâ€™ 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 â€”â€
â€œFilthy, stinkinâ€™ turncoat!â€ Hagrid said, so loudly that half the bar went quiet.
â€œShh!â€ said Professor McGonagall.
â€œI met him!â€ growled Hagrid. â€œI musta bin the last ter see him before he killed all them people! It was me what rescued Harry from Lily anâ€™ James's house after they was killed! Jusâ€™ got him outta the ruins, poor little thing, with a great slash across his forehead, anâ€™ his parents deadâ€¦anâ€™ Sirius Black turns up, on that flyinâ€™ motorbike he used ter ride. Never occurred ter me what he was doinâ€™ there. I didnâ€™ know he'd bin Lily anâ€™ James's Secret-Keeper. Thought he'd jusâ€™ heard the news oâ€™ You-Know-Who's attack anâ€™ come ter see what he could do. White anâ€™ shakin', he was. Anâ€™ yeh know what I did? I COMFORTED THE MURDERINâ€™ TRAITOR!â€ Hagrid roared.
â€œHagrid, please!â€ said Professor McGonagall. â€œKeep your voice down!â€
â€œHow was I ter know he wasnâ€™ upset abouâ€™ Lily anâ€™ James? It was You-Know-Who he cared abou'! Anâ€™ then he says, â€œGive Harry ter me, Hagrid, I'm his godfather, I'll look after him â€”â€ Ha! But I'd had me orders from Dumbledore, anâ€™ I told Black no, Dumbledore said Harry was ter go ter his aunt anâ€™ uncle's. Black argued, but in the end he gave in. Told me ter take his motorbike ter get Harry there. â€œI won't need it anymore,â€ he says.
â€œI shoulda known there was somethinâ€™ fishy goinâ€™ on then. He loved that motorbike, what was he givinâ€™ it ter me for? Why wouldnâ€™ he need it anymore? Fact was, it was too easy ter trace. Dumbledore knew he'd bin the Pottersâ€™ Secret-Keeper. Black knew he was goinâ€™ ter have ter run fer it that night, knew it was a matter oâ€™ hours before the Ministry was after him.
â€œBut what if I'd given Harry to him, eh? I bet he'd've pitched him off the bike halfway out ter sea. His besâ€™ friendsâ€™ son! But when a wizard goes over ter the Dark Side, there's nothinâ€™ and no one that matters to em anymoreâ€¦â€
A long silence followed Hagrid's story. Then Madam Rosmerta said with some satisfaction, â€œBut he didn't manage to disappear, did he? The Ministry of Magic caught up with him next day!â€
â€œAlas, if only we had,â€ said Fudge bitterly. â€œIt was not we who found him. It was little Peter Pettigrew â€” another of the Pottersâ€™ friends. Maddened by grief, no doubt, and knowing that Black had been the Pottersâ€™ Secret-Keeper, he went after Black himself.â€
â€œPettigrewâ€¦that fat little boy who was always tagging around after them at Hogwarts?â€ said Madam Rosmerta.
â€œHero-worshipped Black and Potter,â€ said Professor McGonagall. â€œNever quite in their league, talent-wise. I was often rather sharp with him. You can imagine how I â€” how I regret that nowâ€¦â€ She sounded as though she had a sudden head cold.
â€œThere, now, Minerva,â€ said Fudge kindly, â€œPettigrew died a hero's death. Eyewitnesses â€” Muggles, of course, we wiped their memories later â€” told us how Pettigrew cornered Black. They say he was sobbing, â€˜Lily and James, Sirius! How could you?â€™ And then he went for his wand. Well, of course, Black was quicker. Blew Pettigrew to smithereensâ€¦.â€
Professor McGonagall blew her nose and said thickly, â€œStupid boyâ€¦foolish boyâ€¦he was always hopeless at duelingâ€¦should have left it to the Ministry â€¦â€
â€œI tell yeh, if I'd got ter Black before little Pettigrew did, I wouldn't've messed around with wands â€” I'd â€˜ve ripped him limb â€” from â€” limb,â€ Hagrid growled.
â€œYou don't know what you're talking about, Hagrid,â€ said Fudge sharply. â€œNobody 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 â€” 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 himâ€¦a heap of bloodstained robes and a few â€” a few fragments â€”â€
Fudge's voice stopped abruptly. There was the sound of five noses being blown.
â€œWell, there you have it, Rosmerta,â€ said Fudge thickly. â€œBlack 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. Black's been in Azkaban ever since.â€
Madam Rosmerta let out a long sigh.
â€œIs it true he's mad, Minister?â€
â€œI wish I could say that he was,â€ said Fudge slowly. â€œI 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 â€” cruelâ€¦ 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 themâ€¦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 â€” 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 â€” and he was one of the most heavily guarded in the place, you know. Dementors outside his door day and night.â€
â€œBut what do you think he's broken out to do?â€ said Madam Rosmerta. â€œGood gracious, Minister, he isn't trying to rejoin You-Know-Who, is he?â€
â€œI daresay that is his â€” er â€” eventual plan,â€ said Fudge evasively. â€œBut we hope to catch Black long before that. I must say, You-Know-Who alone and friendless is one thingâ€¦but give him back his most devoted servant, and I shudder to think how quickly he'll rise againâ€¦â€
There was a small chink of glass on wood. Someone had set down their glass.
â€œYou know, Cornelius, if you're dining with the headmaster, we'd better head back up to the castle,â€ 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 Rosmerta'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.
Ron's and Hermione's faces appeared under the table. They were both staring at him, lost for words.
The Prisoner of Azkaban
. . . . . . . .