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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (page 16)


“They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it's not all it's cracked up to be,” he said seriously. “All right, the sweetshop's rather good, and Zonko's Joke Shop's frankly dangerous, and yes, the Shrieking Shack's always worth a visit, but really, Harry, apart from that, you're not missing anything.”

On Halloween morning, Harry awoke with the rest and went down to breakfast, feeling thoroughly depressed, though doing his best to act normally.

“We'll bring you. lots of sweets back from Honeydukes,” said Hermione, looking desperately sorry for him.

“Yeah, loads,” said Ron. He and Hermione had finally forgotten their squabble about Crookshanks in the face of Harry's difficulties.

“Don't worry about me,” said Harry, in what he hoped was at, offhand voice, “I'll see you at the feast. Have a good time.”

He accompanied them to the entrance hall, where Filch, the caretaker, was standing inside the front doors, checking off names against a long list, peering suspiciously into every face, and making sure that no one was sneaking out who shouldn't be going.

“Staying here, Potter?” shouted Malfoy, who was standing in line with Crabbe and Goyle. “Scared of passing the dementors?”

Harry ignored him and made his solitary way up the marble staircase, through the deserted corridors, and back to Gryffindor Tower.

“Password?” said the Fat Lady, jerking out of a doze.

“Fortuna Major,” said Harry listlessly.

The portrait swung open and he climbed through the hole into the common room. It was full of chattering first and second years, and a few older students, who had obviously visited Hogsmeade so often the novelty had worn off

“Harry! Harry! Hi, Harry!”

It was Colin Creevey, a second year who was deeply in awe of Harry and never missed an opportunity to speak to him.

“Aren't you going to Hogsmeade, Harry? Why not? Hey”—Colin looked eagerly around at his friends—”you can come and sit with us, if you like, Harry!”

“Er—no, thanks, Colin,” said Harry, who wasn't in the mood to have a lot of people staring avidly at the scar on his forehead. “I—I've got to go to the library, got to get some work done.”

After that, he had no choice but to turn right around and head back out of the portrait hole again.

“What was the point waking me up?” the Fat Lady called grumpily after him as he walked away.

Harry wandered dispiritedly toward the library, but halfway there he changed his mind; he didn't feel like working. He turned around and came face-to-face with Filch, who had obviously just seen off the last of the Hogsmeade visitors.

“What are you doing?” Filch snarled suspiciously.

“Nothing,” said Harry truthfully.

“Nothing!” spat Filch, his jowls quivering unpleasantly. “A likely story! Sneaking around on your own—why aren't you in Hogsmeade buying Stink Pellets and Belch Powder and Whizzing Worms like the rest of your nasty little friends?”

Harry shrugged.

“Well, get back to your common room where you belong!” snapped Filch, and he stood glaring until Harry had passed out of sight.

But Harry didn't go back to the common room; he climbed a staircase, thinking vaguely of visiting the Owlery to see Hedwig, and was walking along another corridor when a voice from inside one of the rooms said, “Harry?”

Harry doubled back to see who had spoken and met Professor Lupin, looking around his office door.

“What are you doing?” said Lupin, though in a very different voice from Filch. “Where are Ron and Hermione?”

“Hogsmeade,” said Harry, in a would-be casual voice.

“Ah,” said Lupin. He considered Harry for a moment. “Why don't you come in? I've just taken delivery of a grindylow for our next lesson.” “A what?” said Harry. I

He followed Lupin into his office. In the corner stood a very large tank of water. A sickly green creature with sharp little horns had its face pressed against the glass, pulling faces and flexing its long, spindly fingers.

“Water demon,” said Lupin, surveying the grindylow thoughtfully. “We shouldn't have much difficulty with him, not after the kappas. The trick is to break his grip. You notice the abnormally long fingers? Strong, but very brittle.”

The grindylow bared its green teeth and then buried itself in a tangle of weeds in a corner.

“Cup of tea?” Lupin said, looking around for his kettle. “I was just thinking of making one.”

“All right,” said Harry awkwardly.

Lupin tapped the kettle with his wand and a blast of steam issued suddenly from the spout.

“Sit down,” said Lupin, taking the lid off a dusty tin. “I've only got teabags, I'm afraid—but I daresay you've had enough of tea leaves?”

Harry looked at him. Lupin's eyes were twinkling.

“How did you know about that?” Harry asked.

“Professor McGonagall told me,” said Lupin, passing Harry a chipped mug of tea. “You're not worried, are you?”

“No,” said Harry.

He thought for a moment of telling Lupin about the dog he'd seen in Magnolia Crescent but decided not to. He didn't want Lupin to think he was a coward, especially since Lupin alreadv seemed to think he couldn't cope with a boggart.

Something of Harry's thoughts seemed to have shown on his face, because Lupin said, “Anything worrying you, Harry?”

“No,” Harry lied. He drank a bit of tea and watched the grindylow brandishing a fist at him. “Yes,” he said suddenly, putting his tea down on Lupin's desk. “You know that day we fought the boggart?”

“Yes,” said Lupin slowly.

“Why didn't you let me fight it?” said Harry abruptly.

Lupin raised his eyebrows.

“I would have thought that was obvious, Harry,” he said, sounding surprised.

Harry, who had expected Lupin to deny that he'd done any such thing, was taken aback.

“Why?” he said again.

“Well,” said Lupin, frowning slightly, “I assumed that if the boggart faced you, it would assume the shape of Lord Voldemort.”

Harry stared. Not only was this the last answer he'd expected, but Lupin had said Voldemort's name. The only person Harry had ever heard say the name aloud (apart from himself) was Professor Dumbledore.

“Clearly, I was wrong,” said Lupin, still frowning at Harry. “But I didn't think it a good idea for Lord Voldemort to materialize in the staffroom. I imagined that people would panic.”

“I didn't think of Voldemort,” said Harry honestly. “I—I remembered those dementors.”

“I see,” said Lupin thoughtfully. “Well, well... I'm impressed.” fie smiled slightly at the look of surprise on Harry's face. “That suggests that what you fear most of all is—fear. Very wise, Harry.”

Harry didn't know what to say to that, so he drank some mot,, tea.

“So you've been thinking that I didn't believe you capable of fighting the boggart?” said Lupin shrewdly.

“Well... yeah,” said Harry. He was suddenly feeling a lot happier. “Professor Lupin, you know the dementors —”

He was interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Come in,” called Lupin.

The door opened, and in came Snape. He was carrying a goblet, which was smoking faintly, and stopped at the sight of Harry, his black eyes narrowing.

“Ah, Severus,” said Lupin, smiling. “Thanks very much. Could you leave it here on the desk for me?”

Snape set down the smoking goblet, his eyes wandering between Harry and Lupin.

“I was just showing Harry my grindylow,” said Lupin pleasantly, pointing at the tank.

“Fascinating,” said Snape, without looking at it. “You should drink that directly, Lupin.”

“Yes, Yes, I will,” said Lupin.

“I made an entire cauldronful,” Snape continued. “If you need more.

“I should probably take some again tomorrow. Thanks very much, Severus.”

“Not at all,” said Snape, but there was a look in his eye Harry didn't like. He backed out of the room, unsmiling and watchful.

Harry looked curiously at the goblet. Lupin smiled.

“Professor Snape has very kindly concocted a potion for me,” he said. “I have never been much of a potion-brewer and this one is particularly complex.” He picked up the goblet and sniffed it. “Pity sugar makes it useless,” he added, taking a sip and shuddering.

“Why —?” Harry began. Lupin looked at him and answered the unfinished question.

“I've been feeling a bit off-color,” he said. “This potion is the only thing that helps. I am very lucky to be working alongside Professor Snape; there aren't many wizards who are up to making it.”

Professor Lupin took another sip and Harry had a crazy urge to knock the goblet out of his hands.

“Professor Snape's very interested in the Dark Arts, he blurted out.

“Really?” said Lupin, looking only mildly interested as he took another gulp of potion.

“Some people reckon —” Harry hesitated, then plunged recklessly on, “some people reckon he'd do anything to get the Defense Against the Dark Arts job.”

Lupin drained the goblet and pulled a face.

“Disgusting,” he said. “Well, Harry, I'd better get back to work. see you at the feast later.”

“Right,” said Harry, putting down his empty teacup.

The empty goblet was still smoking.

“There you go,” said Ron. “We got as much as we could carry.”

A shower of brilliantly colored sweets fell into Harry's lap. It was dusk, and Ron and Hermione had just turned up in the common room, pink-faced from the cold wind and looking as though they'd had the time of their lives.

“Thanks,” said Harry, picking up a packet of tiny black Pepper Imps. “What's Hogsmeade like? Where did you go?”

By the sound of it—everywhere. Dervish and Banges, the wizarding equipment shop, Zonko's Joke Shop, into the Three Broomsticks for foaming mugs of hot butterbeer, and many places besides.

“The post office, Harry! About two hundred owls, all sitting on shelves, all color-coded depending on how fast you want your letter to get there!”

“Honeydukes has got a new kind of fudge; they were giving out free samples, there's a bit, look —”

“We think we saw an ogre, honestly, they get all sorts at the Three Broomsticks —”

“Wish we could have brought you some butterbeer, really warms you up —”

“What did you do?” said Hermione, looking anxious. “Did you get any work done?”

“No,” said Harry. “Lupin made me a cup of tea in his office. And then Snape came in...”

He told them all about the goblet. Ron's mouth fell open.

“Lupin drank it?” he gasped. “Is he mad?”

Hermione checked her watch.

“We'd better go down, you know, the feast'll be starting in fiveminutes They hurried through the portrait hole and into the crowd, still discussing Snape.

“But if he—you know”—Hermione dropped her voice, glancing nervously around—”if he was trying to to poison Lupin—he wouldn't have done it in front of Harry.”

“Yeah, maybe,” said Harry as they reached the entrance hall and crossed into the Great Hall. It had been decorated with hundreds and hundreds of candle-filled pumpkins, a cloud of fluttering live bats, and many flaming orange streamers, which were swimming lazily across the stormy ceiling like brilliant watersnakes.

The food was delicious; even Hermione and Ron, who were full to bursting with Honeydukes sweets, managed second helpings of everything. Harry kept glancing at the staff table. Professor Lupin

looked cheerful and as well as he ever did; he was talking animatedly to tiny little Professor Flitwick, the Charms teacher. Harry moved his eyes along the table, to the place where Snape sat. Was he imagining it, or were Snape's eyes flickering toward Lupin more often than was natural?

The feast finished with an entertainment provided by the Hogwarts ghosts. They popped out of the walls and tables to do a bit of formation gliding; Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost, had a great success with a reenactment of his own botched beheading.

It had been such a pleasant evening that Harry's good mood couldn't even be spoiled by Malfoy, who shouted through the crowd as they all left the hall, “The dementors send their love, Potter!”

Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed the rest of the Gryffindors along the usual path to Gryffindor Tower, but when they reached the corridor that ended with the portrait of the Fat Lady, they found it jammed with students.

“Why isn't anyone going in?” said Ron curiously.

Harry peered over the heads in front of him. The portrait seemed to be closed.

“Let me through, please,” came Percy's voice, and he came bustling importantly through the crowd. “What's the holdup here? You can't all have forgotten the password—excuse me, I'm Head Boy —”

And then a silence fell over the crowd, from the front first, so that a chill seemed to spread down the corridor. They heard Percy say, in a suddenly sharp voice, “Somebody get Professor Dumbledore. Quick.”

People's heads turned; those at the back were standing on tiptoe.

“What's going on?” said Ginny, who had just arrived.

A moment later, Professor Dumbledore was there, sweeping toward the portrait; the Gryffindors squeezed together to let him through, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione moved closer to see what the trouble was.

“Oh, my —” Hermione grabbed Harry's arm.

The Fat Lady had vanished from her portrait, which had been slashed so viciously that strips of canvas littered the floor; great chunks of it had been torn away completely.

Dumbledore took one quick look at the ruined painting and turned, his eyes somber, to see Professors McGonagall, Lupin, and Snape hurrying toward him.

“We need to find her,” said Dumbledore. “Professor McGonagall, please go to Mr. Filch at once and tell him to search every painting in the castle for the Fat Lady.”

“You'll be lucky!” said a cackling voice.

It was Peeves the Poltergeist, bobbing over the crowd and looking delighted, as he always did, at the sight of wreckage or worry.

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 105755 times

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