InLibrary.org

HOME | SEARCH | TOP | SITEMAP      

 
 


 

J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (page 27)


A beam of light fell across the grass, hit the bottom of a tree, and illuminated its branches; there, crouching among the budding leaves, was Crookshanks.

“Get out of here!” Ron roared, and he stooped down and seized a stone lying on the grass, but before he could do anything else, Crookshanks had vanished with one swish of his long ginger tail.

“See?” Ron said furiously, chucking the stone down again. “She's still letting him wander about wherever he wants—probably washing down Scabbers with a couple of birds now...”

Harry didn't say anything. He took a deep breath as relief seeped through him; he had been sure for a moment that those eyes had belonged to the Grim. They set off for the castle once more. slightly ashamed of his moment of panic, Harry didn't say anything to Ron—nor did he look left or right until they had reached the well-lit entrance hall.

Harry went down to breakfast the next morning with the rest of the boys in his dormitory, all of whom seemed to think the Firebolt deserved a sort of guard of honor. As Harry entered the Great Hall, heads turned in the direction of the Firebolt, and there was a good deal of excited muttering. Harry saw, with enormous satisfaction, that the Slytherin team were all looking thunderstruck.

“Did you see his face?” said Ron gleefully, looking back at Malfay. “He can't believe it! This is brilliant!”

Wood, too, was basking in the reflected glory of the Firebolt.

“Put it here, Harry,” he said, laying the broom in the middle of the table and carefully turning it so that its name faced upward. People from the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables were soon coming over to look. Cedric Diggory came over to congratulate Harry on having acquired such a superb replacement for his Nimbus, and Percy's Ravenclaw girlfriend, Penelope Clearwater, asked if she could actually hold the Firebolt.

“Now, now, Penny, no sabotage!” said Percy heartily as she examined the Firebolt closely. “Penelope and I have got a bet on,” he told the team. “Ten Galleons on the outcome of the match!”

Penelope put the Firebolt down again, thanked Harry, and went back to her table.

“Harry—make sure you win,” said Percy, in an urgent whisper. “I haven't got ten Galleons. Yes, I'm coming, Penny!” And-he bustled off to join her in a piece of toast.

“Sure you can manage that broom, Potter?” said a cold, drawling voice.

Draco Malfoy had arrived for a closer look, Crabbe and Coyle right behind him.

“Yeah, reckon so,” said Harry casually.

“Got plenty of special features, hasn't it?” said Malfoy, eyes glittering maliciously. “Shame it doesn't come with a parachute—in case you get too near a dementor.”

Crabbe and Goyle sniggered.

“Pity you can't attach an extra arm to yours, Malfoy,” said Harry. “Then it could catch the Snitch for you.”

The Gryffindor team laughed loudly. Malfoy's pale eyes narrowed, and he stalked away. They watched him rejoin the rest of the Slytherin team, who put their heads together, no doubt asking Malfoy whether Harry's broom really was a Firebolt.

At a quarter to eleven, the Gryffindor team set off for the locker rooms. The weather couldn't have been more different from their match against Hufflepuff. It was a clear, cool day with a very light breeze; there would be no visibility problems this time, and Harry, though nervous, was starting to feel the excitement only a Quidditch match could bring. They could hear the rest of the school moving into the stadium beyond. Harry took off his black school robes, removed his wand from his pocket, and stuck it inside the T-shirt he was going to wear under his Quidditch robes. He only hoped he wouldn't need it. He wondered suddenly whether Professor Lupin was in the crowd, watching.

“You know what we've got to do,” said Wood as they prepared to leave the locker rooms. “If we lose this match, we're out of the running. just—just fly like you did in practice yesterday, and we'll be okay!”

They walked out onto the field to tumultuous applause. The Ravenclaw team, dressed in blue, were already standing in the middle of the field. Their Seeker, Cho Chang, was the only girl on their team. She was shorter than Harry by about a head, and Harry couldn't help noticing, nervous as he was, that she was extremely pretty. She smiled at Harry as the teams faced each other behind their captains, and he felt a slight lurch in the region of his stomach that he didn't think had anything to do with nerves.

“Wood, Davies, shake hands,” Madam Hooch said briskly, and Wood shook hands with the Ravenclaw Captain.

“Mount your brooms... on my whistle... three—two—one —”

Harry kicked off into the air and the Firebolt zoomed higher and faster than any other broom; he soared around the stadium and began squinting around for the Snitch, listening all the while to the commentary, which was being provided by the Weasley twins' friend Lee Jordan.

“They're off, and the big excitement this match is the Firebolt that Harry Potter is flying for Gryffindor. According to Which Broomstick, the Firebolt's going to be the broom of choice for the national teams at this year's World Championship —”

“Jordan, would you mind telling us what's going on in the match?” interrupted Professor McGonagall's voice.

“Right you are, Professor—just giving a bit of background information—the Firebolt, incidentally, has a built-in auto-brake and —”

“Jordan!”

“Okay, okay, Gryffindor in possession, Katie Bell of Gryffindor, heading for goal...”

Harry streaked past Katie in the opposite direction, gazing around for a glint of gold and noticing that Cho Chang was tailing him closely. She was undoubtedly a very good flier—she kept cutting across him, forcing him to change direction.

“Show her your acceleration, Harry!” Fred yelled as he whooshed past in pursuit of a Bludger that was aiming for Alicia.

Harry urged the Firebolt forward as they rounded the Ravenclaw goal posts and Cho fell behind. Just as Katie succeeded in scoring the first goal of the match, and the Gryffindor end of the field went wild, he saw it—the Snitch was close to the ground, flitting near one of the barriers.

Harry dived; Cho saw what he was doing and tore after him—Harry was speeding up, excitement flooding him; dives were his speciality, he was ten feet away —

Then a Bludger, hit by one of the Ravenclaw Beaters, came pelting out of nowhere; Harry veered off course, avoiding it by an inch, and in those few, crucial seconds, the Snitch had vanished.

There was a great “Ooooooh” of disappointment from the Gryffindor supporters, but much applause for their Beater from the Ravenclaw end. George Weasley vented his feelings by hitting the second Bludger directly at the offending Beater, who was forced to roll right over in midair to avoid it.

“Gryffindor leads by eighty points to zero, and look at that Firebolt go! Potter's really putting it through its paces now, see it turn—Chang's Comet is just no match for it, the Firebolt's precisionbalance is really noticeable in these long —”

“JORDAN! ARE YOU BEING PAID TO ADVERTISE FIREBOLTS? GET ON WITH THE COMMENTARY!”

Ravenclaw was pulling back; they had now scored three goals, which put Gryffindor only fifty points ahead—if Cho got the Snitch before him, Ravenclaw would win. Harry dropped lower, narrowly avoiding a Ravenclaw Chaser, scanning the field frantically—a glint of gold, a flutter of tiny wings—the Snitch was circling the Gryffindor goal post —

Harry accelerated, eyes fixed on the speck of gold ahead—but just then, Cho appeared out of thin air, blocking him —

“HARRY, THIS IS NO TIME TO BE A GENTLEMAN!” Wood roared as Harry swerved to avoid a collision. “KNOCK HER OFF HER BROOM IF YOU HAVE TO!”

Harry turned and caught sight of Cho; she was grinning. The Snitch had vanished again. Harry turned his Firebolt upward and was soon twenty feet above the game. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Cho following him... She'd decided to mark him rather than search for the Snitch herself... All right, then... if she wanted to tail him, she'd have to take the consequences...

He dived again, and Cho, thinking he'd seen the Snitch, tried to follow; Harry pulled out of the dive very sharply; she hurtled downward; he rose fast as a bullet once more, and then saw it, for the third time—the Snitch was glittering way above the field at the Ravenclaw end.

He accelerated; so, many feet below, did Cho. He was winning, gaining on the Snitch with every second—then —

“Oh!” screamed Cho, pointing.

Distracted, Harry looked down.

Three dementors, three tall, black, hooded dementors, were looking up at him.

He didn't stop to think. Plunging a hand down the neck of his robes, he whipped out his wand and roared, “Expecto patronum!”

Something silver-white, something enormous, erupted from the end of his wand. He knew it had shot directly at the dementors but didn't pause to watch; his mind still miraculously clear, he looked ahead—he was nearly there. He stretched out the hand still grasping his wand and just managed to close his fingers over the small, struggling Snitch.

Madam Hooch's whistle sounded. Harry turned around in midair and saw six scarlet blurs bearing down on him; next moment, the whole team was hugging him so hard he was nearly pulled off his broom. Down below he could hear the roars of the Gryffindors in the crowd.

“That's my boy!” Wood kept yelling. Alicia, Angelina, and Katie had all kissed Harry; Fred had him in a grip so tight Harry felt as though his head would come off In complete disarray, the team managed to make its way back to the ground. Harry got off his broom and looked up to see a gaggle of Gryffindor supporters sprinting onto the field, Ron in the lead. Before he knew it, he had been engulfed by the cheering crowd.

“Yes!” Ron yelled, yanking Harry's arm into the air. “Yes! Yes!”

“Well done, Harry!” said Percy, looking delighted. “Ten Galleons to me! Must find Penelope, excuse me —”

“Good for you, Harry!” roared Seamus Finnigan.

“Ruddy brilliant!” boomed Hagrid over the heads of the milling Gryffindors.

“That was quite some Patronus,” said a voice in Harry's ear.

Harry turned around to see Professor Lupin, who looked both shaken and pleased.

“The dementors didn't affect me at all!” Harry said excitedly. “I didn't feel a thing!”

“That would be because they—er—weren't dementors,” said Professor Lupin. “Come and see—”

He led Harry out of the crowd until they were able to see the edge of the field.

“You gave Mr. Malfoy quite a fright,” said Lupin.

Harry stared. Lying in a crumpled heap on the ground were Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and Marcus Flint, the Slytherin team Captain, all struggling to remove themselves from long, black, hooded robes. It looked as though Malfoy had been standing on Goyle's shoulders. Standing over them, with an expression of the utmost fury on her face, was Professor McGonagall.

“An unworthy trick!” she was shouting. “A low and cowardly attempt to sabotage the Gryffindor Seeker! Detention for all of you, and fifty points from Slytherin! I shall be speaking to Professor Dumbledore about this, make no mistake! Ah, here he comes now!”

If anything could have set the seal on Gryffindor's victory, it was this. Ron, who had fought his way through to Harry's side, doubled up with laughter as they watched Malfoy fighting to extricate himself from the robe, Goyle's head still stuck inside it.

“Come on, Harry!” said George, fighting his way over. “Party! Gryffindor common room, now!”

“Right,” said Harry, and feeling happier than he had in ages, he and the rest of the team led the way, still in their scarlet robes, out of the stadium and back up to the castle.

It felt as though they had already won the Quidditch Cup; the party went on all day and well into the night. Fred and George Weasley disappeared for a couple of hours and returned with armfuls of bottles of butterbeer, pumpkin fizz, and several bags full of Honeydukes sweets.

“How did you do that?” squealed Angelina Johnson as George started throwing Peppermint Toads into the crowd.

“With a little help from Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs,” Fred muttered in Harry's ear.

Only one person wasn't joining in the festivities. Hermione, incredibly, was sitting in a corner, attempting to read an enormous book entitled Home Life and Social Habits of British Muggles. Harry broke away from the table where Fred and George had started juggling butterbeer bottles and went over to her.

“Did you even come to the match?” he asked her.

“Of course I did,” said Hermione in a strangely high-pitched voice, not looking up. “And I'm very glad we won, and I think you did really well, but I need to read this by Monday.”

“Come on, Hermione, come and have some food,” Harry said, looking over at Ron and wondering whether he was in a good enough mood to bury the hatchet.

“I can't, Harry. I've still got four hundred and twenty-two pages to read!” said Hermione, now sounding slightly hysterical. “Anyway...” She glanced over at Ron too. “He doesn't want me to join in.”

There was no arguing with this, as Ron chose that moment to say loudly, “If Scabbers hadn't just been eaten, he could have had some of those Fudge Flies. He used to really like them —”

Hermione burst into tears. Before Harry could say or do anything, she tucked the enormous book under her arm, and, still sobbing, ran toward the staircase to the girls' dormitories and out of sight.

“Can't you give her a break?” Harry asked Ron quietly.

“No,” said Ron flatly. “If she just acted like she was sorry—but she'll never admit she's wrong, Hermione. She's still acting like Scabbers has gone on vacation or something.”

The Gryffindor party ended only when Professor McGonagall turned up in her tartan dressing gown and hair net at one in the morning, to insist that they all go to bed. Harry and Ron climbed the stairs to their dormitory, still discussing the match. At last, exhausted, Harry climbed into bed, twitched the hangings of his four-poster shut to block out a ray of moonlight, lay back, and felt himself almost instantly drifting off to sleep...

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 105810 times

123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142434445


 
              
Page generation 0.001 seconds