Snape's sallow skin had gone the color of sour milk.
“And did the headmaster tell you the circumstances in which your father saved
my life?” he whispered. “Or did he consider the details too unpleasant for precious
Potter's delicate ears?”
Harry bit his lip. He didn't know what had happened and didn't want to admit
it—but Snape seemed to have guessed the truth.
I would hate for you to run away with a false idea of your father, Potter,”
he said, a terrible grin twisting his face. “Have you been imagining some act
of glorious heroism? Then let me correct you—your saintly father and his friends
played a highly amusing joke on me that would have resulted in my death if your
father hadn't got cold feet at the last moment. There was nothing brave about
what he did. He was saving his own skin as much as mine. Had their joke succeeded,
he would have been expelled from Hogwarts.”
Snape's uneven, yellowish teeth were bared.
“Turn out your pockets, Potter!” he spat suddenly.
Harry didn't move. There was a pounding in his ears.
“Turn out your pockets, or we go straight to the headmaster! Pull them out,
Cold with dread, Harry slowly pulled out the bag of Zonko's tricks and the
Snap picked up the Zonko's bag.
“Ron gave them to me,” said Harry, praying he'd get a chance to tip Ron off
before Snape saw him. “He -brought them back from Hogsmeade last time —”
“Indeed? And you've been carrying them around ever since? How very touching...
and what is this?”
Snape had picked up the map. Harry tried with all his might to keep his face
“Spare bit of parchment,” he said with a shrug.
Snape turned it over, his eyes on Harry.
“Surely you don't need such a very old piece of parchment?” he said. “Why
don't I just—throw this away?”
His hand moved toward the fire.
“No!” Harry said quickly.
“So!” said Snape, his long nostrils quivering. “Is this another treasured
gift from Mr. Weasley? Or is it—something else? A letter, perhaps, written in
invisible ink? Or—instructions to get into Hogsmeade without passing the dementors?”
Harry blinked. Snape's eyes gleamed.
“Let me see, let me see...” he muttered, taking out his wand and smoothing
the map out on his desk. “Reveal your secret!” he said, touching the wand to
Nothing happened. Harry clenched his hands to stop them from shaking.
“Show yourself!” Snape said, tapping the map sharply.
It stayed blank. Harry was taking deep, calming breaths.
“Professor Severus Snape, master of this school, commands you to yield the
information you conceal!” Snape said, hitting the map with his wand.
As though an invisible hand were writing upon it, words appeared on the smooth
surface of the map.
Mooney presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep
his abnormally large nose out of other people's business.”
Snape froze. Harry stared, dumbstruck, at the message. But the map didn't
stop there. More writing was appearing beneath the first.
“Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony and would like to add that Professor Snape
is an ugle git.”
It would have been very funny if the situation hadn't been so serious. And
there was more...
“Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that
ever became a professor.”
Harry closed his eyes in horror. When he'd opened them, the map had had its
“Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his
hair, the slimeball.”
Harry waited for the blow to fall.
“So...” said Snape softly. “We'll see about this...”
He strode across to his fire, seized a fistful of glittering powder from
a jar on the fireplace, and threw it into the flames.
“Lupin!” Snape called into the fire. “I want a word!”
Utterly bewildered, Harry stared at the fire. A large shape had appeared
in it, revolving very fast. Seconds later, Professor Lupin was clambering out
of the fireplace, brushing ash off his shabby robes.
“You called, Severus?” said Lupin mildly.
“I certainly did,” said Snape, his face contorted with fury as he strode
back to his desk. “I have just asked Potter to empty his pockets. He was carrying
Snape pointed at the parchment, on which the words of Messrs. Moony, Wormtail,
Padfoot, and Prongs were still shining. An odd, closed expression appeared on
“Well?” said Snape.
Lupin continued to stare at the map. Harry had the impression that Lupin
was doing some very quick thinking.
“Well?” said Snape again. “This parchment is plainly full of Dark Magic.
This is supposed to be your area of expertise, Lupin. Where do you imagine Potter
got such a thing?”
Lupin looked up and, by the merest half-glance in Harry's direction, warned
him not to interrupt.
“Full of Dark Magic?” he repeated mildly. “Do you really think so, Severus?
It looks to me as though it is merely a piece of parchment that insults anybody
who reads it. Childish, but surely not dangerous? I imagine Harry got it from
a joke shop —”
“Indeed?” said Snape. His jaw had gone rigid with anger. “You think a joke
shop could supply him with such a thing? You don't think it more likely that
he got it directly from the manufacturers?”
Harry didn't understand what Snape was talking about. Nor, apparently, did
“You mean, by Mr. Wormtail or one of these people?” he said. “Harry, do you
know any of these men?”
“No,” said Harry quickly.
“You see, Severus?” said Lupin, turning back to Snape. “It looks like a Zonko
product to me —”
Right on cue, Ron came bursting into the office. He was completely out of
breath, and stopped just short of Snape's desk, clutching the stitch in his
chest and trying to speak.
“I—gave—Harry—that—stuff,” he choked. “Bought—it... in Zonko's... ages—ago...”
“Well!” said Lupin, clapping his hands together and looking around cheerfully.
“That seems to clear that up! Severus, I'll take this back, shall I?” He folded
the map and tucked it inside his robes. “Harry, Ron, come with me, I need a
word about my vampire essay—excuse us, Severus —”
Harry didn't dare look at Snape as they left his office. He. Ron, and Lupin
walked all the way back into the entrance hall before speaking. Then Harry turned
“Professor, I —”
“I don't want to hear explanations,” said Lupin shortly. He glanced around
the empty entrance hall and lowered his voice. “I happen to know that this map
was confiscated by Mr. Filch many years ago. Yes, I know it' s a map,” he said
as Harry and Ron looked amazed. “I don't want to know how it fell into your
possession. I am, however, astounded that you didn't hand it in. Particularly
after what happened the last time a student left information about the castle
lying around. And I can't let you have it back, Harry.”
Harry had expected that, and was too keen for explanations to protest.
“Why did Snape think I'd got it from the manufacturers?”
“Because...,” Lupin hesitated, “because these mapmakers would have wanted
to lure you out of school. They'd think it extremely entertaining.”
“Do you know them?” said Harry, impressed.
“We've met,” he said shortly. He was looking at Harry more seriously than
“Don't expect me to cover up for you again, Harry. I cannot make you take
Sirius Black seriously. But I would have thought that what you have heard when
the dementors draw near you would have had more of an effect on you. Your parents
gave their lives to keep you alive, Harry. A poor way to repay them—gambling
their sacrifice for a bag of magic tricks.”
He walked away, leaving Harry feeling worse by far than he had at any point
in Snape's office. Slowly, he and Ron mounted the marble staircase. As Harry
passed the one-eyed witch, he remembered the Invisibility Cloak—it was still
down there, but he didn't dare go and get it.
“It's my fault,” said Ron abruptly. “I persuaded you to go. Lupin's right,
it was stupid, we shouldn't've done it —”
He broke off; they reached the corridor where the security trolls were pacing,
and Hermione was walking toward them. One look at her face convinced Harry that
she had heard what had happened. His heart plummeted—had she told Professor
“Come to have a good gloat?” said Ron savagely as she stopped in front of
them. “Or have you just been to tell on us?”
“No,” said Hermione. She was holding a letter in her hands and her lip was
trembling. “I just thought you ought to know... Hagrid lost his case. Buckbeak
is going to be executed.”
THE QUIDDITCH FINAL
He sent me this,” Hermione said, holding out the letter.
Harry took it. The parchment was damp, and enormous teardrops had smudged
the ink so badly in places that it was very difficult to read.
Dear Hermione, We lost. I'm allowed to bring him back to Hogwarts. Execution
date to be fixed. Beaky has enjoyed London. I won't forget all the help you
“They can't do this,” said Harry. “They can't. Buckbeak isn't dangerous.”
“Malfoy's dad's frightened the Committee into it,” said Hermione, wiping
her eyes. “You know what he's like. They're a bunch of doddery old fools, and
they were scared. There'll be an appeal, though, there always is. Only I can't
see any hope... Nothing will have changed.”
“Yeah, it will,” said Ron fiercely. “You won't have to do all the work alone
this time, Hermione. I'll help.”
Hermione flung her arms around Ron's neck and broke down completely. Ron,
looking quite terrified, patted her very awkwardly on the top of the head. Finally,
Hermione drew away.
“Ron, I'm really, really sorry about Scabbers...” she sobbed.
“Oh—well—he was old,” said Ron, looking thoroughly relieved that she had
let go of him. “And he was a bit useless. You never know, Mum and Dad might
get me an owl now.”
The safety measures imposed on the students since Black's second break-in
made it impossible for Harry, Ron, and Hermione to go and visit Hagrid in the
evenings. Their only chance of talking to him was during Care of Magical Creatures
He seemed numb with shock at the verdict.
“S'all my fault. Got all tongue-tied. They was all sittin' there in black
robes an' I kep' droppin' me notes and forgettin' all them dates yeh looked
up fer me, Hermione. An' then Lucius Malfoy stood up an' said his bit, and the
Committee jus' did exac'ly what he told 'em...”
“There's still the appeal!” said Ron fiercely. “Don't give up Yet, we're
working on it!”
They were walking back up to the castle with the rest of the class. Ahead
they could see Malfoy, who was walking with Crabbe and Goyle, and kept looking
back, laughing derisively.
“S'no good, Ron,” said Hagrid sadly as they reached the castle steps. “That
Committee's in Lucius Malfoy's pocket. I'm jus' gonna make sure the rest o'
Beaky's time is the happiest he's ever had. I owe him that...”
Hagrid turned around and hurried back toward his cabin, his face buried in
“Look at him blubber!”
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle had been standing just inside the castle doors,
“Have you ever seen anything quite as pathetic?” said Malfoy. “And he's supposed
to be our teacher!”
Harry and Ron both made furious moves toward Malfoy, but Hermione got there
She had slapped Malfoy across the face with all the strength she could muster.
Malfoy staggered. Harry, Ron, Crabbe, and Goyle stood flabbergasted as Hermione
raised her hand again.
“Don't you dare call Hagrid pathetic, you foul—you evil —”
“Hermione!” said Ron weakly, and he tried to grab her hand as she swung it
“Get off, Ron!”
Hermione pulled out her wand. Malfoy stepped backward. Crabbe and Goyle looked
at him for instructions, thoroughly bewildered.
“C'mon,” Malfoy muttered, and in a moment, all three of them had disappeared
into the passageway to the dungeons.
“Hermione!” Ron said again, sounding both stunned and irnpressed.
“Harry, you'd better beat him in the Quidditch final!” Hermione said shrilly.
“You just better had, because I can't stand it if Slytherin wins!”
“We're due in Charms,” said Ron, still goggling at Hermione. “We'd better
They hurried up the marble staircase toward Professor Flitwick's classroom.
“You're late, boys!” said Professor Flitwick reprovingly as Harry opened
the classroom door. “Come along, quickly, wands out, we're experimenting with
Cheering Charms today, we've already divided into pairs —”
Harry and Ron hurried to a desk at the back and opened their bags. Ron looked
“Where's Hermione gone?”
Harry looked around too. Hermione hadn't entered the classroom, yet Harry
knew she had been right next to him when he had opened the door.
“That's weird,” said Harry, staring at Ron. “Maybe—maybe she went to the
bathroom or something?”
But Hermione didn't turn up all lesson.
“She could've done with a Cheering Charm on her too,” said Ron as the class
left for lunch, all grinning broadly—the Cheering Charms had left them with
a feeling of great contentment.
Hermione wasn't at lunch either. By the time they had finished their apple
pie, the after-effects of the Cheering Charms were wearing off, and Harry and
Ron had started to get slightly worried.
“You don't think Malfoy did something to her?” Ron said anxiously as they
hurried upstairs toward Gryffindor Tower.
They passed the security trolls, gave the Fat Lady the password (“Flibbertigibbet”),
and scrambled through the portrait hole into the common room.