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J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (page 36)


Harry felt as though the bottom had dropped out of his stomach.

“DON'T BELIEVE IT!” Hermione screamed.

Lupin let go of Black and turned to her. She had raised herself off the floor and was pointing at Lupin, wild-eyed. “You—you —”

“Hermione —”

“— you and him!”

“Hermione, calm down —”

“I didn't tell anyone!” Hermione shrieked. “I've been covering up for you —”

“Hermione, listen to me, please'” Lupin shouted. “I can explain —”

Harry could feel himself shaking, not with fear, but with a fresh wave of fury.

“I trusted you,” he shouted at Lupin, his voice wavering, out of control, “and all the time you've been his friend!”

“You're wrong,” said Lupin. “I haven't been Sirius's friend, but I am now—Let me explain...”

“NO!” Hermione screamed. “Harry, don't trust him, he's been helping Black get into the castle, he wants you dead too—he's a werewolf!”

There was a ringing silence. Everyone's eyes were now on Lupin, who looked remarkably calm, though rather pale.

“Not at all up to your usual standard, Hermione,” he said. “Only one out of three, I'm afraid. I have not been helping Sirius get into the castle and I certainly don't want Harry dead. An odd shiver passed over his face. “But I won't deny that I am a werewolf.”

Ron made a valiant effort to get up again but fell back with a whimper of pain. Lupin made toward him, looking concerned, but Ron gasped, “Get away ftom me, werewolf!”

Lupin stopped dead. Then, with an obvious effort, he turned to Hermione and said, “How long have you known?”

“Ages,” Hermione whispered. “Since I did Professor Snape's essay...”

“He'll be delighted,” said Lupin coolly. “He assigned that essay hoping someone would realize what my symptoms meant... Did you check the lunar chart and realize that I was always ill at the full moon? Or did you realize that the boggart changed into the moon when it saw me?”

“Both,” Hermione said quietly.

Lupin forced a laugh.

“You're the cleverest witch of your age I've ever met, Hermione.”

“I'm not,” Hermione whispered. “If I'd been a bit cleverer, I'd have told everyone what you are!”

“But they already know,” said Lupin. “At least, the staff do.”

“Dumbledore hired you when he knew you were a werewolf. Ron gasped. “Is he mad?”

“Some of the staff thought so,” said Lupin. “He had to work very hard to convince certain teachers that I'm trustworthy —”

“AND HE WAS WRONG!” Harry yelled. “YOUVE BEEN HELPING HIM ALL THE TIME!” He was pointing at Black, who suddenly crossed to the four-poster bed and sank onto it, his face hidden in one shaking hand. Crookshanks leapt up beside him and stepped onto his lap, purring. Ron edged away from both of them, dragging his leg.

I have not been helping Sirius,” said Lupin. “If you'll give me a chance, I'll explain. Look —”

He separated Harry's, Ron's and Hermione's wands and threw each back to its owner; Harry caught his, stunned.

There, said Lupin, sticking his own wand back into his belt “You're armed, we're not. Now will you listen?”

Harry didn't know what to think. Was it a trick?

“If you haven't been helping him,” he said, with a furious glance at Black, “how did you know he was here?”

“The map,” said Lupin. “The Marauder's Map. I was in my office examining it —”

“You know how to work it?” Harry said suspiciously.

“Of course I know how to work it,” said Lupin, waving his hand impatiently. “I helped write it. I'm Moony—that was my friends' nickname for me at school.”

“You wrote —?”

“The important thing is, I was watching it carefully this evening, because I had an idea that you, Ron, and Hermione might try and sneak out of the castle to visit Hagrid before his hippogriff was executed. And I was right, wasn't I”

He had started to pace up and down, looking at them. Little patches of dust rose at his feet.

“You might have been wearing your father's old cloak, Harry—”

“How d'you know about the cloak?”

“The number of times I saw James disappearing under it...,” said Lupin, waving an impatient hand again. “The point is, even if you're wearing an Invisibility Cloak, you still show up on the Marauder's Map. I watched you cross the grounds and enter Hagrid's hut. Twenty minutes later, you left Hagrid, and set off back toward the castle. But you were now accompanied by somebody else.”

“What?” said Harry. “No, we weren't!”

I couldn't believe my eyes,” said Lupin, still pacing, and ignoring Harry's interruption. “I thought the map must be malfunctioning. How could he be with you?” “No one was with us!” said Harry.

“And then I saw another dot, moving fast toward you, labeled Sirius Black... I saw him collide with you; I watched as he pulled two of you into the Whomping Willow —”

“One of us!” Ron said angrily.

“No, Ron,” said Lupin. “Two of you.”

He had stopped his pacing, his eyes moving over Ron.

“Do you think I could have a look at the rat?” he said evenly.

“What?” said Ron. “What's Scabbers got to do with it?”

“Everything,” said Lupin. “Could I see him, please?”

Ron hesitated, then put a hand inside his robes. Scabbers emerged, thrashing desperately; Ron had to seize his long bald tail to stop him escaping. Crookshanks stood up on Black's leg and made a soft hissing noise.

Lupin moved closer to Ron. He seemed to be holding his breath as he gazed intently at Scabbers.

“What?” Ron said again, holding Scabbers close to him, looking scared. “What's my rat got to do with anything?”

“That's not a rat,” croaked Sirius Black suddenly.

“What d'you mean—of course he's a rat —”

“No, he's not,” said Lupin quietly. “He's a wizard.”

“An Animagus,” said Black, “by the name of Peter Pettigrew.”

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

MOONY, WORMTAIL, PADDFOOT, AND PRONGS

It took a few seconds for the absurdity of this statement to sink in. Then Ron voiced what Harry was thinking.

“You're both mental.”

“Ridiculous!” said Hermione faintly.

“Peter Pettigrew's dead!” said Harry. “He killed him twelve years ago!” He pointed at Black, whose face twitched convulsively.

“I meant to,” he growled, his yellow teeth bared, “but little Peter got the better of me... not this time, though!”

And Crookshanks was thrown to the floor as Black lunged at Scabbers; Ron yelled with pain as Black's weight fell on his broken leg.

. "Sirius, NO!” Lupin yelled, launching himself forwards and dragging Black away from Ron again, “WAIT! You can't do it just like that—they need to understand—we've got to explain —”

“We can explain afterwards!” snarled Black, trying to throw Lupin off. One hand was still clawing the air as it tried to reach Scabbers, who was squealing like a piglet, scratching Ron's face and neck as he tried to escape.

“They've—got—a—right—to—know—-everything!” Lupin panted, still trying to restrain Black. “Ron's kept him as a pet! There are parts of it even I don't understand, and Harry—you owe Harry the truth, Sirius!”

Black stopped struggling, though his hollowed eyes were still fixed on Scabbers, who was clamped tightly under Ron's bitten, scratched, ad bleeding hands.

“All right, then,” Black said, without taking his eyes off the rat.

“Tell them whatever you like. But make it quick, Remus. I want to commit the murder I was imprisoned for...”

“You're nutters, both of you,” said Ron shakily, looking round at Harry and Hermione for support. “I've had enough of this. I'm off.”

He tried to heave himself up on his good leg, but Lupin raised his wand again, pointing it at Scabbers.

“You're going to hear me out, Ron,” he said quietly. “Just keep a tight hold on Peter while you listen.”

“HE'S NOT PETER, HE'S SCABBERS!” Ron yelled, trying to fore the rat back into his front pocket, but Scabbers was fighting to hard; Ron swayed and overbalanced, and Harry caught him am pushed him back down to the bed. Then, ignoring Black, Harry turned to Lupin.

There were witnesses who saw Pettigrew die,” he said. “A whole street full of them...”

“They didn't see what they thought they saw!” said Black savagely, still watching Scabbers struggling in Ron's hands.

“Everyone thought Sirius killed Peter,” said Lupin, nodding. “I believed it myself—until I saw the map tonight. Because the Marauder's map never lies... Peter's alive. Ron's holding him, Harry.”

Harry looked down at Ron, and as their eyes met, they agreed, silently: Black and Lupin were both out of their minds. Their story made no sense whatsoever. How could Scabbers be Peter Pettigrew? Azkaban must have unhinged Black after all—but why was Lupin playing along with him?

Then Hermione spoke, in a trembling, would-be calm sort of voice, as though trying to will Professor Lupin to talk sensibly.

“But Professor Lupin... Scabbers can't be Pettigrew... it just can't be true, you know it can't...”

“Why can't it be true?” Lupin said calmly, as though they were in class, and Hermione had simply spotted a problem in an experiment with grindylows.

“Because... because people would know if Peter Pettigrew had been an Animagus. We did Animagi in class with Professor McGonagall. And I looked them up when I did my homework—the Ministry of Magic keeps tabs on witches and wizards who can become animals; there's a register showing what animal they become, and their markings and things... and I went and looked Professor McGonagall up on the register, and there have been only seven Animagi this century, and Pettigrew's name wasn't on the list.”

Harry had barely had time to marvel inwardly at the effort Hermione put into her homework, when Lupin started to laugh.

“Light again, Hermione!” he said. “But the Ministry never knew that here used to be three unregistered Animagi running around Hogwarts.”

“I you're going to tell them the story, get a move on, Remus,” said Black, who was still watching Scabbers's every desperate move. “I've waited twelve years, I'm not going to wait much longer.”

“All right... but you'll need to help me, Sirius,” said Lupin, I only know how it began...”

Lupin broke off. There had been a loud creak behind him. The bedroom door had opened of its own accord. All five of them stared at it. Then Lupin strode toward it and looked out into the landing.

“No one there...”

“This place is haunted!” said Ron.

“It's not,” said Lupin, still looking at the door in a puzzled way. “The Shrieking Shack was never haunted... The screams and howls the villagers used to hear were made by me.”

He pushed his graying hair out of his eyes, thought for a moment then said, “That's where all of this starts—with my becoming a werewolf, None of this could have happened if I hadn't been bitter... and if I hadn't been so foolhardy...”

He looked sober and tired. Ron started to interrupt, but Hermione, said, “Shh!” She was watching Lupin very intently.

“I as a very small boy when I received the bite. My parents tried everything, but in those days there was no cure. The potion that Professor Snape has been making for me is a very recent discovery. It makes me safe, you see. As long as I take it in the week, preceding the full moon, I keep my mind when I transform... I'm able to curl up in my office, a harmless wolf, and wait for the moon to wane again.

“Before the Wolfsbane Potion was discovered, however, I became a fully fledged monster once a month. It seemed impossible that I would be able to come to Hogwarts. Other parents weren't likely to want their children exposed to me.

“But then Dumbledore became Headmaster, and he was sympathetic. He said that as long as we took certain precautions, there was no reason I shouldn't come to school...” Lupin sighed, and looked directly at Harry. “I told you, months ago, that the Whomping Willow was planted the year I came to Hogwarts. The truth is that it was planted because I came to Hogwarts. This house”—Lupin looked miserably around the room,—”the tunnel that leads to it—they were built for my use. Once a month, I was smuggled out of the castle, into this place, to transform. The tree was placed at the tunnel mouth to stop anyone coming across me while I was dangerous.”

Harry couldn't see where this story was going, but he was listening raptly all the same. The only sound apart from Lupin's voice was Scabbers's frightened squeaking.

“My transformations in those days were—were terrible. It is very painful to turn into a werewolf. I was separated from humans to bite, so I bit and scratched myself instead. The villagers heard the noise and the screaming and thought they were hearing particularly violent spirits. Dumbledore encouraged the rumor... Even now, when the house has been silent for years, the villagers don't dare approach it...”

“But apart from my transformations, I was happier than I had ever been in my life. For the first time ever, I had friends, three great friends. Sirius Black... Peter Pettigrew... and, of course, your father, Harry—James Potter.”

“Now, my three friends could hardly fail to notice that I disappeared once a month. I made up all sorts of stories. I told them my mother was ill, and that I had to go home to see her... I was terrified they would desert me the moment they found out what I was. But of course, they, like you, Hermione, worked out the truth...”

“And they didn't desert me at all. Instead, they did something for me that would make my transformations not only bearable, but the best times of my life. They became Animagi.”

“My dad too?” said Harry, astounded.

“Yes, indeed,” said Lupin. “It took them the best part of three years to work out how to do it. Your father and Sirius here were the cleverest students in the school, and lucky they were, because the Animagus transformation can go horribly wrong—one reason the Ministry keeps a close watch on those attempting to do it. Peter needed all the help he could get from James and Sirius. Finally, in our fifth year, they managed it. They could each turn into a different animal at will.”

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 112248 times

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