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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (page 15)


Harry was also growing to dread the hours he spent in Professor Trelawney's stifling tower room, deciphering lopsided shapes and symbols, trying to ignore the way Professor Trelawney's enormous eyes filled with tears every time she looked at him. He couldn't like Professer Trelawney, even though she was treated with respect bordering on reverence by many of the class. Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown had taken to haunting Professor Trelawney's tower room at lunch times, and always returned with annoyingly superior looks on their faces, as though they knew things the others didn't. They had also started using hushed voices whenever they spoke to Harry, as though he were on his deathbed.

Nobody really liked Care of Magical Creatures, which, after the action-packed first class, had become extremely dull. Hagrid seemed to have lost his confidence. They were now spending lesson after lesson learning how to look after flobberworms, which had to be some of the most boring creatures in existence.

“Why would anyone bother looking after them?” said Ron, after yet another hour of poking shredded lettuce down the flobberworms' throats.

At the start of October, however, Harry had something else to occupy him, something so enjoyable it more than made up for his unsatisfactory classes. The Quidditch season was approaching, and O1iver Wood, Captain of the Gryffindor team, called a meeting on Thursday evening to discuss tactics for the new season.

There were seven people on a Quidditch team: three Chasers, whose job it was to score goals by putting the Quaffle (a red, soccer-sized ball) through one of the fifty-foot-high hoops at each

end of the field; two Beaters, who were equipped with heavy bats to repel the Bludgers (two heavy black balls that zoomed around trying to attack the players); a Keeper, who defended the goal

posts, and the Seeker, who had the hardest job of all, that of catching the Golden Snitch, a tiny, winged, walnut-sized ball, whose capture ended the game and earned the Seeker's team an extra one hundred and fifty points.

Oliver Wood was a burly seventeen-year-old, now in his seventh and final year at Hogwarts. There was a quiet sort of desperation in his voice a's he addressed his six fellow team members in the chilly locker rooms on the edge of the darkening Quidditch field.

“This is our last chance—my last chance—to win the Quidditch Cup,” he told them, striding up and down in front of them. “I'll be leaving at the end of this year. I'll never get another shot at it.”

“Gryffindor hasn't won for seven years now. Okay, so we've had the worst luck in the world—injuries—then the tournamentgetting called off last year Wood swallowed, as though the memory still brought a lump to his throat. “But we also know we've got the best-ruddy-team-in-the-school,” he said, punching a fist into his other hand, the old manic glint back in his eye. “We've got three superb Chasers.”

Wood pointed at Alicia Spinner, Angelina Johnson, and Katie Bell.

“We've got two unbeatable Beaters.”

“Stop it, Oliver, you're embarrassing us,” said Fred and George Weasley together, pretending to blush.

“And we've got a Seeker who has never failed to win us a match!” Wood rumbled, glaring at Harry with a kind of furious pride. “And me,” he added as an afterthought.

“We think you're very good too, Oliver,” said George.

“Spanking good Keeper,” said Fred.

“The point is,” Wood went on, resuming his pacing, “the Quidditch Cup should have had our name on it these last two years. Ever since Harry joined the team, I've thought the thing was in the bag. But we haven't got it, and this year's the last chance we'll get to finally see our name on the thing...”

Wood spoke so dejectedly that even Fred and George looked sympathetic.

“Oliver, this year's our year,” said Fred.

“We'll do it, Oliver!” said Angelina.

“Definitely,” said Harry.

Full of determination, the team started training sessions, three evenings a week. The weather was getting colder and wetter, the nights darker, but no amount of mud, wind, or rain could tarnish Harry's wonderful vision of finally winning the huge, silver Quidditch Cup.

Harry returned to the Gryffindor common room one evening after training, cold and stiff but pleased with the way practice had gone, to find the room buzzing excitedly.

“What's happened?”, he asked Ron and Hermione, who were sitting in two of the best chairs by the fireside and completing some star charts for Astronomy.

“First Hogsmeade weekend,” said Ron, pointing at a notice that had appeared on the battered old bulletin board. “End of October. Halloween.”

“Excellent,” said Fred, who had followed Harry through the portrait hole. “I need to visit Zonko's. I'm nearly out of Stink Pellets.”

Harry threw himself into a chair beside Ron, his high spirits ebbing away. Hermione seemed to read his mind.

“Harry, I'm sure you'll be able to go next time,” she said. “They're bound to catch Black soon. He's been sighted once already.”

“Black's not fool enough to try anything in Hogsmeade,” said Ron. “Ask McGonagall if you can go this time, Harry. The next one might not be for ages —”

“Ron!” said Hermione. “Harry's supposed to stay in school-”

“He can't be the only third year left behind,” said Ron. “Ask McGonagall, go on, Harry —”

“Yeah, I think I will,” said Harry, making up his mind.

Hermione opened her mouth to argue, but at that moment Crookshanks leapt lightly onto her lap. A large, dead spider was dangling from his mouth.

“Does he have to eat that in front of us?” said Ron, scowling.

“Clever Crookshanks, did you catch that all by yourself?” said Hermione.

Crookshanks; slowly chewed up the spider, his yellow eyes fixed insolently on Ron.

“Just keep him over there, that's all,” said Ron irritably, turning back to his star chart. “1've got Scabbers asleep in my bag.”

Harry yawned. He really wanted to go to bed, but he still had his own star chart to complete. He pulled his bag toward him, took out parchment, ink, and quill, and started work.

“You can copy mine, if you like,” said Ron, labeling his last star with a flourish and shoving the chart toward Harry.

Hermione, who disapproved of copying, pursed her lips but didn't say anything. Crookshanks was still staring unblinkingly at Ron, flicking the end of his bushy tail. Then, without warning, he pounced.

“OY!” Ron roared, seizing his bag as Crookshanks sank four sets of claws deep inside it and began tearing ferociously. “GET OFF, YOU STUPID ANIMAL!”

Ron tried to pull the bag away from Crookshanks, but Crookshanks clung on, spitting and slashing.

“Ron, don't hurt him!” squealed Hermione; the whole common room was watching; Ron whirled the bag around, Crookshanks still clinging to it, and Scabbers came flying out of the top —

“CATCH THAT CAR' Ron yelled as Crookshanks freed himself from the remnants of the bag, sprang over the table, and chased after the terrified Scabbers.

George Weasley made a lunge for Crookshanks but missed; Scabbers streaked through twenty pairs of legs and shot beneath an old chest of drawers. Crookshanks skidded to a halt, crouched low on his bandy legs, and started making furious swipes beneath it with his front paw.

Ron and Hermione hurried over; Hermione grabbed Crookshanks around the middle and heaved him away; Ron threw himself onto his stomach and, with great difficulty, pulled Scabbers out by the tail.

“Look at him!” he said furiously to Hermione, dangling Scabbers in front of her. “He's skin and bone! You keep that cat away from him!”

“Crookshanks doesn't understand it's wrong!” said Hermione, her voice shaking. “All cats chase rats, Ron!”

“There's something funny about that animal!” said Ron, who was trying to persuade a frantically wiggling Scabbers back into his pocket. “It heard me say that Scabbers was in my bag!”

“Oh, what rubbish,” said Hermione impatiently. “Crookshanks could smell him, Ron, how else d'you think —”

“That cat's got it in for Scabbers!” said Ron, 'ignoring the people around him, who were starting to giggle. “And Scabbers was here first, and he's ill!”

Ron marched through the common room and out of sight up the stairs to the boys' dormitories.

Ron was still in a bad mood with Hermione next day. He barely talked to her all through Herbology, even though he, Harry, and Hermione were working together on the same puffapod.

“How's Scabbers?” Hermione asked timidly as they stripped fat pink pods from the plants and emptied the shining beans into a wooden pail.

“He's hiding at the bottom of my bed, shaking, “ said Ron angrily, missing the pail and scattering beans over the greenhouse floor.

“Careful, Weasley, careful!” cried Professor Sprout as the beans burst into bloom before their very eyes.

They had Transfiguration next. Harry, who had resolved to ask Professor McGonagall after the lesson whether he could go into Hogsmeade with the rest, joined the line outside the class trying to decide how he was going to argue his case. He was distracted, however, by a disturbance at the front of the line.

Lavender Brown seemed to be crying. Parvati had her arm around her and was explaining something to Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, who were looking very serious.

“What's the matter, Lavender?” said Hermione anxiously as she, Harry, and Ron went to join the group.

“She got a letter from home this morning,” Parvati whispered. “It's her rabbit, Binky. He's been killed by a fox.”

“Oh,” said Hermione, “I'm sorry, Lavender.”

“I should have known!” said Lavender tragically. “You know what day it is?”

“Er —”

“The sixteenth of October! 'That thing you're dreading, it will happen on the sixteenth of October!' Remember? She was right, she was right!”

The whole class was gathered around Lavender now. Seamus shook his head seriously. Hermione hesitated; then she said, “You—you were dreading Binky being killed by a fox?”

“Well, not necessarily by a fox,” said Lavender, looking up at Hermione with streaming eyes, “but I was obviously dreading him dying, wasn't l?”

“Oh,” said Hermione. She paused again. Then

“Was Binky an old rabbit?”

“N—no!” sobbed Lavender. “H—he was only a baby!”

Parvati tightened her arm around Lavender's shoulders.

“But then, why would you dread him dying?” said Hermione.

Parvati glared at her.

“Well, look at it logically,” said Hermione, turning to the rest of the group“I mean, Binky didn't even die today, did he? Lavender just got the news today-” Lavender wailed loudly. “and she can't have been dreading it, because it's come as a real shock —”

“Don't mind Hermione, Lavender,” said Ron loudly, “she doesn't think other people's pets matter very much.”

Professor McGonagall opened the classroom door at that moment, which was perhaps lucky; Hermione and Ron were looking daggers at each other, and when they got into class, they seated themselves on either side of Harry and didn't talk to each other for the whole class.

Harry still hadn't decided what he was going to say to Professor McGonagall when the bell rang at the end of the lesson, but it was she who brought up the subject of Hogsmeade first.

“One moment, please!” she called as the class made to leave. “As you're all in my House, you should hand Hogsmeade permission forms to me before Halloween. No form, no visiting the village, so don't forget!”

Neville put up his hand.

“Please, Professor, I—I think I've lost

“Your grandmother sent yours to me directly, Longbottom,” said Professor McGonagall. “She seemed to think it was safer. Well, that's all, you may leave.”

“Ask her now,” Ron hissed at Harry.

“Oh. but —” Hermione began.

“Go for it, Harry,” said Ron stubbornly.

Harry waited for the rest of the class to disappear, then headed nervously for Professor McGonagall's desk.

“Yes, Potter?” Harry took a deep breath.

“Professor, my aunt and uncle—er—forgot to sign my form,” he said.

Professor McGonagall looked over her square spectacles at him but didn't say anything.

“So—er d'you think it would be all right mean, will It be okay if I—if I go to Hogsmeade?”

Professor McGonagall looked down and began shuffling papers on her desk.

“I'm afraid not, Potter,” she said. “You heard what I said. No form, no visiting the village. That's the rule.”

“But—Professor, my aunt and uncle—you know, they're Muggles, they don't really understand about—about Hogwarts forms and stuff,” Harry said, while Ron egged him on with vigorous nods. “If you said I could go —”

“But I don't say so,” said Professor McGonagall, standing up and piling her papers neatly into a drawer. “The form clearly states that the parent or guardian must give permission.” She turned to look at him, with an odd expression on her face. Was it pity? “I'm sorry, Potter, but that's my final word. You had better hurry, or you'll be late for your next lesson.”

There was nothing to be done. Ron called Professor McGonagall a lot of names that greatly annoyed Hermione; Hermione assumed an “all-for-the-best” expression that made Ron even angrier, and Harry had to endure everyone in the class talking loudly and happily about what they were going to do first, once they got into Hogsmeade.

“There's always the feast,” said Ron, in an effort to cheer Harry UP. “You know, the Halloween feast, in the evening.”

“Yeah,” said Harry gloomily, “great.”

The Halloween feast was always good, but it would taste a lot better if he was coming to it after a day in Hogsmeade with everyone else. Nothing anyone said made him feel any better about being left behind. Dean Thomas, who was good with a quill, had offered to forge Uncle Vernon's signature on the form, but as Harry had already told Professor McGonagall he hadn't had it signed, that was no good. Ron halfheartedly suggested the Invisibility Cloak, but Hermione stamped on that one, reminding Ron what Dumbledore had told them about the dementors being able to see through them. Percy had what were possibly the least helpful words of comfort.

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 112253 times

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