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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (page 25)


“The incantation is this —” Lupin cleared his throat. “Expecto patronum!”

“Expecto patronum, “ Harry repeated under his breath, “expecto patronum.”

“Concentrating hard on your happy memory?”

“Oh—yeah —” said Harry, quickly forcing his thoughts back to that first broom ride. “Expecto patrono—no, patronum—sorry—expecto patronum, expecto patronum”

Something whooshed suddenly out of the end of his wand; it looked like a wisp of silvery gas.

“Did you see that?” said Harry excitedly. “Something happened!”

“Very good,” said Lupin, smiling. “Right, then—ready to try it on a dementor?”

“Yes,” Harry said, gripping his wand very tightly, and moving into the middle of the deserted classroom. He tried to keep his mind on flying, but something else kept intruding... Any second now, he might hear his mother again... but he shouldn't think that, or he would hear her again, and he didn't want to... or did he?

Lupin grasped the lid of the packing case and pulled.

A dementor rose slowly from the box, its hooded face turned toward Harry, one glistening, scabbed hand gripping its cloak. The lamps around the classroom flickered and went out. The dementor stepped from the box and started to sweep silently toward Harry, drawing a deep, rattling breath. A wave of piercing cold broke over him —

“Expecto patronum!” Harry yelled. “Expecto patronum! Expecto —”

But the classroom and the dementor were dissolving... Harry was failing again through thick white fog, and his mother's voice was louder than ever, echoing inside his head—”Not Harry! Not Harry! please—I'll do anything!”

“Stand aside. Stand aside, girl!”

“Harry!”

Harry jerked back to life. He was lying flat on his back on the floor. The classroom lamps were alight again. He didn't have to ask what had happened.

“Sorry,” he muttered, sitting up and feeling cold sweat trickling down behind his glasses.

“Are you all right?” said Lupin.

“Yes...” Harry pulled himself up on one of the desks and leaned against it.

“Here —” Lupin handed him a Chocolate Frog. “Eat this before we try again. I didn't expect you to do it your first time; in fact, I would have been astounded if you had.”

“It's getting worse,” Harry muttered, biting off the Frog's head. “I could hear her louder that time—and him—Voldemort

Lupin looked paler than usual.,

“Harry, if you don't want to continue, I will more than understand —”

“I do!” said Harry fiercely, stuffing the rest of the Chocolate Frog into his mouth. “I've got to! What if the dementors turn up at our match against Ravenclaw? I can't afford to fall off again. If we lose this game we've lost the Quidditch Cup!”

“All right then... “ said Lupin. “You might want to select 'other memory, a happy memory, I mean, to concentrate on... That one doesn't seem to have been strong enough...”

Harry thought hard and decided his feelings when Gryffindor had won the House Championship last year had definitely qualified as very happy. He gripped his wand tightly again and took up his position in the middle of the classroom.

“Ready?” said Lupin, gripping the box lid.

“Ready,” said Harry; trying hard to fill his head with happy thoughts about Gryffindor winning, and not dark thoughts about what was going to happen when the box opened.

“Go!” said Lupin, pulling off the lid. The room went icily cold and dark once more. The dementor glided forward, drawing its breath; one rotting hand was extending toward Harry —

“Expecto patronum!” Harry yelled. “Expecto patronum! Expecto Pat —”

White fog obscured his senses... big, blurred shapes were moving around him... then came a new voice, a man's voice, shouting, panicking —

“Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off —”

The sounds of someone stumbling ftom a room—a door bursting open—a cackle of highpitched laughter —

“Harry! Harry... wake up...”

Lupin was tapping Harry hard on the face. This time it was a minute before Harry understood why he was lying on a dusty classroom floor.

“I heard my dad,” Harry mumbled. “That's the first time I've ever heard him—he tried to take on Voldemort himself, to give my mum time to run for it...”

Harry suddenly realized that there were tears on his face mingling with the sweat. He bent his face as low as possible, wiping them off on his robes, pretending to do up his shoelace, so that Lupin wouldn't see.

“You heard James?” said Lupin in a strange voice.

“Yeah...” Face dry, Harry looked up. “Why—you didn't know my dad, did you?”

“I—I did, as a matter of fact,” said Lupin. “We were friends at Hogwarts. Listen, Harry—perhaps we should leave it here for tonight. This charm is ridiculously advanced... I shouln't have suggested putting you through this...”

“No!” said Harry. He got up again. “I'll have one more go! I'm not thinking of happy enough things, that's what it is... Hang on...”

He racked his brains. A really, really happy memory... one that he could turn into a good, strong Patronus...

The moment when he'd first found out he was a wizard, and would be leaving the Dursleys for Hogwarts! If that wasn't a happy memory, he didn't know what was... Concentrating very hard on how he had felt when he'd realized he'd be leaving Privet Drive, Harry got to his feet and faced the packing case once more.

“Ready?” said Lupin, who looked as though he were doing this against his better judgment. “Concentrating hard? All right—go!”

He pulled off the lid of the case for the third time, and the dementor rose out of it; the room fell cold and dark

'EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Harry bellowed. “EXPECTO PATRONUM! EXPECTO PATRONUM! “

The screaming inside Harry's head had started again—except this time, it sounded as though it were coming from a badly tuned radio—softer and louder and softer again—and he could still see the dementor—it had halted—and then a huge, silver shadow came bursting out of the end of Harry's wand, to hover between him and the dementor, and though Harry's legs felt like water, he was still on his feet—though for how much longer, he wasn't sure —

“Riddikulus!” roared Lupin, springing forward.

There was a loud crack, and Harry's cloudy Patronus vanished along with the dementor; he sank into a chair, feeling as exhausted as if he'd just run a mile, and felt his legs shaking. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Professor Lupin forcing the boggart back into the packing case with his wand; it had turned into a silvery orb again.

“Excellent!” Lupin said, striding over to where Harry sat. “Excellent, Harry! That was definitely a start!”

“Can we have another go? Just one more go?”

“Not now,” said Lupin firmly. “You've had enough for one night. Here —”

He handed Harry a large bar of Honeydukes' best chocolate.

“Eat the lot, or Madam Pomfrey will be after my blood. Same time next week?”

“Okay,” said Harry. He took a bite of the chocolate and watched Lupin extinguishing the lamps that had rekindled with the disappearance of the dementor. A thought had just occurred to him.

“Professor Lupin?” he said. “If you knew my dad, you must've known Sirius Black as well.”

Lupin turned very quickly.

“What gives you that idea?” he said sharply.

“Nothing—I mean, I just knew they were friends at Hogwarts too...”

Lupin's face relaxed.

“Yes, I knew him,” he said shortly. “Or I thought I did. You'd better be off, Harry, it's getting late.”

Harry left the classroom, walking along the corridor and around a corner, then took a detour behind a suit of armor and sank down on its plinth to finish his chocolate, wishing he hadn't mentioned Black, as Lupin was obviously not keen on the subject. Then Harry's thoughts wandered back to his mother and father...

He felt drained and strangely empty, even though he was so full of chocolate. Terrible though it was to hear his parents' last moments replayed inside his head, these were the only times Harry had heard their voices since he was a very small child. But he'd never be able to produce a proper Patronus if he half wanted to hear his parents again...

“They're dead,” he told himself sternly. “They're dead and listening to echoes of them won't bring them back. You'd better get a grip on yourself if you want that Quidditch Cup.”

He stood up, crammed the last bit of chocolate into his mouth, and headed back to Gryffindor Tower.

Ravenclaw played Slytherin a week after the start of term. Slytherin won, though narrowly. According to Wood, this was good news for Gryffindor, who would take second place if they beat Ravenclaw too. He therefore increased the number of team practices to five a leek. This meant that with Lupin's anti-dementor classes, which in themselves were more draining than six Quidditch practices, Harry had just one night a week to do all his homework. Even so, he was showing the strain nearly as much as Hermione, whose immense workload finally seemed to be getting to her. Every night, without fail, Hermione was to be seen in a corner of the common room, several tables spread with books, Arithmancy charts, rune dictionaries, diagrams of Muggles lifting heavy objects, and file upon file of extensive notes; she barely spoke to anybody and snapped when she was interrupted.

“How's she doing it?” Ron muttered to Harry one evening as Harry sat finishing a nasty essay on Undetectable Poisons for Snape. Harry looked up. Hermione was barely visible behind a tottering pile of books.

“Doing what?”

“Getting to all her classes!” Ron said. “I heard her talking to Professor Vector, that Arithmancy witch, this morning. They were going on about yesterday's lesson, but Hermione can't 've been there, because she was with us in Care of Magical Creatures! And Ernie McMillan told me she's never missed a Muggle Studies class, but half of them are at the same time as Divination, and she's never missed one of them either!”

Harry didn't have time to fathom the mystery of Hermione's impossible schedule at the moment; he really needed to get on with Snape's essay. Two seconds later, however, he was interrupted again, this time by Wood.

“Bad news, Harry. I've just been to see Professor McGonagall about the Firebolt. She—er—got a bit shirty with me. Told m' I'd got my priorities wrong. Seemed to think I cared more about winning the Cup than I do about you staying alive. Just because I told her I didn't care if it threw you off, as long as you caught the Snitch first.” Wood shook his head in disbelief. “Honestly, the way she was yelling at me... you'd think I'd said something terrible... then I asked her how much longer she was going to keep it. He screwed up his face and imitated Professor McGonagall's severe voice. 'As long as necessary, Wood'... I reckon it's time you ordered a new broom, Harry. There's an order form at the back of Which Broomstick... you could get a Nimbus Two Thousand and One, like Malfoy's got.”

“I'm not buying anything Malfoy thinks is good,” said Harry flatly.

January faded imperceptibly into February, with no change in the bitterly cold weather. The match against Ravenclaw was drawing nearer and nearer, but Harry still hadn't ordered a new broom. He was now asking Professor McGonagall for news of the Firebolt after every Transfiguration lesson, Ron standing hopefully at his shoulder, Hermione rushing past with her face averted.

“No, Potter, you can't have it back yet,” Professor McGonagall told him the twelfth time this happened, before he'd even opened his mouth. “We've checked for most of the usual curses, but Professor Flitwick believes the broom might be carrying a Hurling Hex. I shall tell you once we've finished checking it. Now, please stop badgering me.”

To make matters even worse, Harry's anti-dementor lessons were not going nearly as well as he had hoped. Several sessions on, he was able to produce an indistinct, silvery shadow every time the boggart-dementor approached him, but his Patronus was too feeble to drive the dementor away. All it did was hover, like a semitransparent cloud, draining Harry of energy as he fought to keep it there. Harry felt angry with himself, guilty about his secret desire to hear his parents' voices again.

“You're expecting too much of yourself,” said Professor Lupin, sternly in their fourth week of practice. “For a thirteen-year-old wizard, even an indistinct Patronus is a huge achievement. You aren't passing out anymore, are you?”

I thought a Patronus would—charge the dementors down or something,” said Harry dispiritedly. “Make them disappear —”

“The true Patronus does do that,” said Lupin. “But you've achieved a great deal in a very short space of time. If the dementors put in an appearance at your next Quidditch match, You will be able to keep them at bay long enough to get back to the ground.”

“You said it's harder if there are loads of them,” said Harry.

“I have complete confidence in you,” said Lupin, smiling. “Here—you've earned a drink—something from the Three Broomsticks. You won't have tried it before —”

He pulled two bottles out of his briefcase.

“Butterbeer!” said Harry, without thinking. “Yeah, I like that stuff!”

Lupin raised an eyebrow.

“Oh -Ron and Hermione brought me some back from Hogsmeade,” Harry lied quickly.

I see,” said Lupin, though he still looked slightly suspicious. “Well—let's drink to a Gryffindor victory against Ravenclaw! Not that I'm supposed to take sides, as a teacher... “ he added hastily

They drank the butterbeer in silence, until Harry voiced something he'd been wondering for a while.

“What's under a dementor's hood?”

Professor Lupin lowered his bottle thoughtfully.

“Hmmm... well, the only people who really know are in no condition to tell us. You see, the dementor lowers its hood only to use its last and worst weapon.”

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 112263 times

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