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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (page 32)


“Ron!” Harry hissed. “Ron! Wake up!”

“Huh?”

I need you to tell me if you can see something!”

“S'all dark, Harry,” Ron muttered thickly. “What're you or, about?”

“Down here —”

Harry looked quickly back out of the window.

Crookshanks and the dog had vanished. Harry climbed onto the windowsill to look right down into the shadows of the castle, but they weren't there. Where had they gone?

A loud snore told him Ron had fallen asleep again.

Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor team entered the Great Hall the next day to enormous applause. Harry couldn't help grinning broadly as he saw that both the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables were applauding them too. The Slytherin table hissed loudly as they passed. Harry noticed that Malfoy looked even paler than usual.

Wood spent the whole of breakfast urging his team to eat, while touching nothing himself Then he hurried them off to the field before anyone else had finished, so they could get an idea of the conditions. As they left the Great Hall, everyone applauded again.

“Good luck, Harry!” called Cho. Harry felt himself blushing.

“Okay—no wind to speak of—sun's a bit bright, that could impair your vision, watch out for it—ground's fairly hard, good, that'll give us a fast kickoff —”

Wood paced the field, staring around with the team behind him. Finally, they saw the front doors of the castle open in the distance and the rest of the school spilling onto the lawn.

“Locker rooms,” said Wood tersely.

None of them spoke as they changed into their scarlet robes. Harry wondered if they were feeling like he was: as though he'd eaten something extremely wriggly for breakfast. In what seemed like no time at all, Wood was saying, “Okay, it's time, let's go —”

They walked out onto the field to a tidal wave of noise. Threequarters of the crowd was wearing scarlet rosettes, waving scarlet flags with the Gryffindor lion upon them, or brandishing banners with slogans like “GO GRYFFINDOR!” and “LIONS FOR THE CUK' Behind the Slytherin goal posts, however, two hundred people were wearing green; the silver serpent of Slytherin glittered on their flags, and Professor Snape sat in the very front row, wearing green like everyone else, and a very grim smile.

“And here are the Gryffindors!” yelled Lee Jordan, who was acting as commentator as usual. “Potter, Bell, Johnson, Spinnet, Weasley, Weasley, and Wood. Widely acknowledged as the best team Hogwarts has seen in a good few years —”

Lee's comments were drowned by a tide of “boos” from the Slytherin end.

“And here come the Slytherin team, led by Captain Flint. He's Made some changes in the lineup and seems to be going for size rather than skill —”

More boos from the Slytherin crowd. Harry, however, thought Lee had a point. Malfoy was easily the smallest person On the Slytherin team; the rest of them were enormous.

“Captains, shake hands!” said Madam Hooch.

Flint and Wood approached each other and grasped each other's hand very tightly; it looked as though each was trying to break the other's fingers.

“Mount your brooms!” said Madam Hooch. “Three... two... one...”

The sound of her whistle was lost in the roar from the crowd as fourteen brooms rose into the air. Harry felt his hair fly back off his forehead; his nerves left him in the thrill of the flight; he glanced around, saw Malfoy on his tail, and sped off in search of the Snitch.

“And it's Gryffindor in possession, Alicia Spinner of Gryffindor with the Quaffle, heading straight for the Slytherin goal posts, looking good, Alicia! Argh, no—Quaffle intercepted by Warrington, Warrington of Slytherin tearing UP the field—WHAM!—nice Bludger work there by George Weasley, Warrington drops the Quaffle, it's caught by—Johnson, Gryffindor back in possession, come on, Angelina—nice swerve around Montague—duck, Angelina, that's a Bludger!SHE SCORES! TEN-ZERO TO GRYFFINDOR!”

Angelina punched the air as she soared around the end of the field; the sea of scarlet below was screaming its delight

“OUCH!”

Angelina was nearly thrown from her broom as Marcus Flint went smashing into her.

“Sorry!” said Flint as the crowd below booed. “Sorry, didn't see her!”

A moment later, Fred Weasley chucked his Beater's club at the back of Flint's head. Flint's nose smashed into the handle of his broom and began to bleed.

“That will do!” shrieked Madam Hooch, zooming between then. “Penalty shot to Gryffindor for an unprovoked attack on their Chaser! Penalty shot to Slytherin for deliberate damage to their Chaser!”

“Come off it, Miss!” howled Fred, but Madam Hooch blew her whistle and Alicia flew forward to take the penalty.

“Come on, Alicia!” yelled Lee into the silence that had descended on the crowd. “YES! SHE'S BEATEN THE KEEPER! TWENTY-ZERO TO GRYFFINDOR!”

Harry turned the Firebolt sharply to watch Flint, still bleeding freely, fly forward to take the Slytherin penalty. Wood was hovering in front of the Gryffindor goal posts, his jaw clenched.

“'Course, Wood's a superb Keeper!” Lee Jordan told the crowd as Flint waited for Madam Hooch's whistle. “Superb! Very difficult to pass—very difficult indeed—YES! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! HE'S SAVED IT!”

Relieved, Harry zoomed away, gazing around for the Snitch, but still making sure he caught every word of Lee's commentary. It was essential that he hold Malfoy off the Snitch until Gryffindor was more than fifty points up —

“Gryffindor in possession, no, Slytherin in possession—no!

Gryffindor back in possession and it's Katie Bell, Katie Bell for Gryffindor with the Quaffle, she's streaking up the field—THAT WAS DELIBERATE!”

Montague, a Slytherin Chaser, had swerved in front of Katie, and instead of seizing the Quaffle had grabbed her head. Katie cart wheeled in the air, managed to stay on her broom, but dropped the Quaffle.

Madam Hooch's whistle rang out again as she soared over to Montague and began shouting at him. A minute later, Katie had put another penalty past the Slytherin Seeker.

“THIRTY-ZERO! TAKE THAT, YOU DIRTY, CHEATING —”

“Jordan, if you can't commentate in an unbiased way —”

“I'm telling it like it is, Professor!”

Harry felt a huge jolt of excitement. He had seen the Snitch it was shimmering at the foot of one of the Gryffindor goal posts—but he mustn't catch it yet—and if Malfoy saw it —

Faking a look of sudden concentration, Harry pulled his Firebolt around and sped off toward the Slytherin end—it worked. Malfoy went haring after him, clearly thinking Harry had seen the Snitch there...

WHOOSH.

One of the Bludgers came streaking past Harry's right ear, hit by the gigantic Slytherin Beater, Derrick. Then again

WHOOSH.

The second Bludger grazed Harry's elbow. The other Beater, Bole, was closing in.

Harry had a fleeting glimpse of Bole and Derrick zooming toward him, clubs raised —

He turned the Firebolt upward at the last second, and Bole and Derrick collided with a sickening crunch.

“Ha haaa!” yelled Lee Jordan as the Slytherin Beaters lurched away from each other, clutching their heads. “Too bad, boys! You'll need to get up earlier than that to beat a Firebold And it's Gryffindor in possession again, as Johnson takes the Quaffle—Flint alongside her—poke him in the eye, Angelina!—it was a joke, Professor, it was a joke—oh no—Flint in possession, Flint flying toward the Gryffindor goal posts, come on now, Wood, save —!”

But Flint had scored; there was an eruption of cheers from the Slytherin end, and Lee swore so badly that Professor McGonagall tried to tug the magical megaphone away from him.

“Sorry, Professor, sorry! WoiA happen again! So, Gryffindor in the lead, thirty points to ten, and Gryffindor in possession —”

it was turning into the dirtiest game Harry had ever played in. Enraged that Gryffindor had taken such an early lead, the Slytherins were rapidly resorting to any means to take the Quaffle. Bole hit Alicia with his club and tried to say he'd thought she was a Bludger. George Weasley elbowed Bole in the face in retaliation. Madam Hooch awarded both teams penalties, and Wood pulled off another spectacular save, making the score forty-ten to Gryffindor.

The Snitch had disappeared again. Malfoy was still keeping close to Harry as he soared over the match, looking around for it once Gryffindor was fifty points ahead —

Katie scored. Fifty-ten. Fred and George Weasley were swooping around her, clubs raised, in case any of the Slytherins were thinking of revenge. Bole and Derrick took advantage of Fred's and George's absence to aim both Bludgers at Wood; they caught him in the stomach, one after the other, and he rolled over in the air, clutching his broom, completely winded.

Madam Hooch was beside herself

“YOU DO NOT ATTACK THE KEEPER UNLESS THE QUAFFLE IS WITHIN THE SCORING AREA!” she shrieked at Bole and Derrick. “Gryffindor penalty!”

And Angelina scored. Sixty-ten. Moments later, Fred Weasley pelted a Bludger at Warrington, knocking the Quaffle Out of his hands; Alicia seized it and put it through the Slytherin goal—seventy-ten.

The Gryffindor crowd below was screaming itself hoarse—Gryffindor was sixty points in the lead, and if Harry caught the Snitch now, the Cup was theirs. Harry could almost feel hundreds of eyes following him as he soared around the field, high above the rest of the game, with Malfoy speeding along behind him.

And then he saw it. The Snitch was sparkling twenty feet above him.

Harry put on a huge burst of speed; the wind was roaring in his ears; he stretched out his hand, but suddenly, the Firebolt was slowing down —

Horrified, he looked around. Malfoy had thrown himself forward, grabbed hold of the Firebolt's tail, and was pulling it back.

“You —”

Harry was angry enough to hit Malfoy, but couldn't reach—Malfoy was panting with the effort of holding onto the Firebolt, but his eyes were sparkling maliciously. He had achieved what he'd wanted to do—the Snitch had disappeared again.

“Penalty! Penalty to Gryffindor! I've never seen such tactics.” Madam Hooch screeched, shooting up to where Malfoy was sliding back onto his Nimbus Two Thousand and One.

“YOU CHEATING SCUM!” Lee Jordan was howling into the megaphone, dancing out of Professor McGonagall's reach. “YOU FILTHY, CHEATING B —”

Pprofessor McGonagall didn't even bother to tell him off She was actually shaking her finger in Malfoys direction, her hat had fallen off, and she too was shouting furiously.

Alicia took Gryffindor's penalty, but she was so angry she missed by several feet. The Gryffindor team was losing concentration and the Slytherins, delighted by Malfoy's foul on Harry, were being spurred on to greater heights.

“Slytherin in possession, Slytherin heading for goal—Montague scores —” Lee groaned. “Seventytwenty to Gryffindor...”

Harry was now marking Malfoy so closely their knees kept hitting each other. Harry wasn't going to let Malfoy anywhere near the Snitch...

“Get out of it, Potter!” Malfoy yelled in frustration as he tried to turn and found Harry blocking him.

“Angelina Johnson gets the Quaffle for Gryffindor, come on, Angelina, COME ON!”

Harry looked around. Every single Slytherin player apart from Malfoy was streaking up the pitch toward Angelina, including the Slytherin Keeper—they were all going to block her —

Harry wheeled the Firebolt around, bent so low he was lying flat along the handle, and kicked it forward. Like a bullet, he shot toward the Slytherins.

“AAAAAAARRRGH!”

They scattered as the Firebolt zoomed toward them; Angelina's Way was clear.

“SHE SCORES! SHE SCORES! Gryffindor leads by eighty Points to twenty!”

Harry, who had almost pelted headlong into the stands, skidded to a halt in midair, reversed, and zoomed back into the middle of the field.

And then he saw something to make his heart stand still. Malfoy was diving, a look of triumph on his face—there, a few feet above the grass below, was a tiny, golden glimmer —

Harry urged the Firebolt downward, but Malfoy was miles ahead —

“Go! Go! Go!” Harry urged his broom. He was gaining on Malfay—Harry flattened himself to the broom handle as Bole sent a Bludger at him—he was at Malfoy's ankles—he was level —

Harry threw himself forward, took both hands off his broom. He knocked Malfoy's arm out of the way and —

“YES!”

He pulled out of his dive, his hand in the air, and the stadium exploded. Harry soared above the crowd, an odd ringing in his ears. The tiny golden ball was held tight in his fist, beating its wings hopelessly against his fingers.

Then Wood was speeding toward him, half-blinded by tears; he seized Harry around the neck and sobbed unrestrainedly into his shoulder. Harry felt two large thumps as Fred and George hit them; then Angelina's, Alicia's, and Katie's voices, “We've won the Cup! We've won the Cup!” Tangled together in a many-armed hug, the Gryffindor team sank, yelling hoarsely, back to earth.

Wave upon wave of crimson supporters was pouring over the barriers onto the field. Hands were raining down on their backs. Harry had a confused impression of noise and bodies pressing in on him. Then he, and the rest of the team, were hoisted onto the shoulders of the crowd. Thrust into the light, he saw Hagrid, Plastered with crimson rosettes—”Yeh beat 'em, Harry, yeh beat 'em!

Wait till I tell Buckbeak!” There was Percy, jumping up and down like a maniac, all dignity forgotten. Professor McGonagall was sobbing harder even than Wood, wiping her eyes with an enormous Gryffindor flag; and there, fighting their way toward Harry, were Ron and Hermione. Words failed them. They simply beamed as Harry was borne toward the stands, where Dumbledore stood waiting with the enormous Quidditch Cup.

If only there had been a dementor around... As a sobbing Wood passed Harry the Cup, as he lifted it into the air, Harry felt he could have produced the world's best Patronus.

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