InLibrary.org

HOME | SEARCH | TOP | SITEMAP      

 
 


 

J.K.Rîwling >> Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (page 37)


“But how did that help you?” said Hermione, sounding puzzled.

“They couldn't keep me company as humans, so they kept me company as animals,” said Lupin. “A werewolf is only a danger to people. They sneaked out of the castle every month under James's Invisibility Cloak. They transformed... Peter, as the smallest, could slip beneath the Willow's attacking branches and touch the knot that freezes it. They would then slip down the tunnel and join me. Under their influence, I became less dangerous. My body was still wolfish, but my mind seemed to become less so while I was with them.”

“Hurry up, Remus,” snarled Black, who was still watching Scabbers with a horrible sort of hunger on his face.

“I'm getting there, Sirius, I'm getting there... well, highly exciting possibilities were open to us now that we could all transform. Soon we were leaving the Shrieking Shack and roaming the school grounds and the village by night. Sirius and James transformed into such large animals, they were able to keep a werewolf in check. I doubt whether any Hogwarts students ever found out more about the Hogwarts grounds and Hogsmeade than we did... And that's how we came to write the Marauder's Map, and sign it with our nicknames. Sirius is Padfoot. Peter is Wormtail. James was Prongs.”

“What sort of animal —?” Harry began, but Hermione cut him off.

“That was still really dangerous! Running around in the dark with a werewolf! What if you'd given the others the slip, and bitten somebody?”

“A thought that still haunts me,” said Lupin heavily. “And there were near misses, many of them. We laughed about them afterwards. We were young, thoughtless—carried away with our own cleverness.”

I sometimes felt guilty about betraying Dumbledore's trust, of course... he had admitted me to Hogwarts when no other headmaster would have done so, and he had no idea I was breaking the rules he had set down for my own and others' safety. He never knew I had led three fellow students into becoming Animagi illegally. But I always managed to forget my guilty feelings every time we sat down to plan our next month's adventure. And I haven't changed...”

Lupin's face had hardened, and there was self-disgust in his voice. “All this year, I have been battling with myself, wondering whether I should tell Dumbledore that Sirius was an Animagus. But I didn't do it. Why? Because I was too cowardly. It would have meant admitting that I'd betrayed his trust while I was at school, admitting that I'd led others along with me... and Dumbledore's trust has meant everything to me. He let me into Hogwarts as a boy, and he gave me a job when I have been shunned all my adult life, unable to find paid work because of what I am. And so I convinced myself that Sirius was getting into the school using dark arts he learned from Voldemort, that being an Animagus had nothing to do with it... so, in a way, Snape's been right about me all along.”

“Snape?” said Black harshly, taking his eyes off Scabbers; for the first time in minutes and looking up at Lupin. “What's Snape got to do with it?”

“He's here, Sirius,” said Lupin heavily. “He's teaching here as well.” He looked up at Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

“Professor Snape was at school with us. He fought very hard against my appointment to the Defense Against the Dark Arts job. He has been telling Dumbledore A year that I am not to be trusted. He has his reasons... you see, Sirius here played a trick on him which nearly killed him, a trick which involved me —”

Black made a derisive noise.

“It served him right,” he sneered. “Sneaking around, trying to find out what we were up to... hoping he could get us expelled...”

“Severus was very interested in where I went every month.” Lupin told Harry, Ron, and Hermione. “We were in the same year, you know, and we—er—didn't like each other very much. He especially disliked James. Jealous, I think, of James's talent on the Quidditch field... anyway Snape had seen me crossing the grounds with Madam Pomfrey one evening as she led me toward the Whomping Willow to transform. Sirius thought it would be—er—amusing, to tell Snape all he had to do was prod the knot on the tree trunk with a long stick, and he'd be able to get in after me. Well, of course, Snape tried it—if he'd got as far as this house, he'd have met a fully grown werewolf—but your father, who'd heard what Sirius had done, went after Snape and pulled him back, at great risk to his life... Snape glimpsed me, though, at the end of the tunnel. He was forbidden by Dumbledore to tell anybody, but from that time on he knew what I was...”

“So that's why Snape doesn't like you,” said Harry slowly, “because he thought you were in on the joke?”

“That's right,” sneered a cold voice from the wall behind Lupin.

Severus Snape was pulling off the Invisibility Cloak, his wand pointing, directly at Lupin.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

THE SERVANT OF LORD VOLDEMORT

Hermione screamed. Black leapt to his feet. Harry felt as though he'd received a huge electric shock.

“I found this at the base of the Whomping Willow,” said Snape, throwing the cloak aside, careful to keep this wand pointing directly at Lupin's chest. “Very useful, Potter, I thank you...”

Snape was slightly breathless, but his face was full of suppressed triumph. “You're wondering, perhaps, how I knew you were here?” he said, his eyes glittering. “I've just been to your office, Lupin. You forgot to take your potion tonight, so I took a gobletful along. And very lucky I did... lucky for me, I mean. Lying on your desk was a certain map. One glance at it told me all I needed to know. I saw you running along this passageway and out of sight.”

“Severus —” Lupin began, but Snape overrode him.

“I've told the headmaster again and again that you're helping your old friend Black into the castle, Lupin, and here's the proof. Not even I dreamed you would have the nerve to use this old place as your hideout —”

“Severus, you're making a mistake,” said Lupin urgently. “You haven't heard everything—I can explain—Sirius is not here to kill Harry —”

“Two more for Azkaban tonight,” said Snape, his eyes now gleaming fanatically. “I shall be interested to see how Dumbledore takes this... He was quite convinced you were harmless, you know, Lupin... a tame werewolf —”

“You fool,” said Lupin softly. “Is a schoolboy grudge worth putting an innocent man back inside Azkaban?”

BANG! Thin, snakelike cords burst from the end of Snape's wand and twisted themselves around Lupin's mouth, wrists, and ankles; he overbalanced and fell to the floor, unable to move. With a roar of rage, Black started toward Snape, but Snape pointed his wand straight between Black's eyes.

“Give me a reason,” he whispered. “Give me a reason to do it, and I swear I will.”

Black stopped dead. It would have been impossible to say which face showed more hatred.

Harry stood there, paralyzed, not knowing what to do or whom to believe. He glanced around at Ron and Hermione. Ron looked just as confused as he did, still fighting to keep hold on the struggling Scabbers. Hermione, however, took an uncertain step toward Snape and said, in a very breathless voice, “Professor Snape—it it wouldn't hurt to hear what they've got to say, w—would it?”

“Miss Granger, you are already facing suspension from this school,” Snape spat. “You, Potter, and Weasley are out-of-bounds, in the company of a convicted murderer and a werewolf. For once in your life, hold your tongue.”

“But if—if there was a mistake —”

“KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL!” Snape shouted, looking suddenly quite deranged. “DON'T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!” A few sparks shot out of the end of his wand, which was still pointed at Black's face. Hermione fell silent.

“Vengeance is very sweet,” Snape breathed at Black. “How I hoped I would be the one to catch you...”

“The joke's on you again, Severus,” Black snarled. “As long as this boy brings his rat up to the castle”—he jerked his head at Ron—”I'll come quietly...”

“Up to the castle?” said Snape silkily. “I don't think we need to go that far. All I have to do is call the dementors once we get out of the Willow. They'll be very pleased to see you, Black... pleased enough to give you a little kiss, I daresay... I —”

What little color there was in Blacks face left it.

“You -you've got to hear me out,” he croaked. “The rat—look at the rat —”

But there was a mad glint in Snape's eyes that Harry had never seen before. He seemed beyond reason.

“Come on, all of you,” he said. He clicked his fingers, and the ends of the cords that bound Lupin flew to his hands. “I'll drag the werewolf. Perhaps the dementors will have a kiss for him too —”

Before he knew what he was doing, Harry had crossed the room in three strides and blocked the door.

“Get out of the way, Potter, you're in enough trouble already,” snarled Snape. “If I hadn't been here to save your skin —”

“Professor Lupin could have killed me about a hundred times this year,” Harry said. “I've been alone with him loads of times, having defense lessons against the dementors. If he was helping Black, why didn't he just finish me off then?”

“Don't ask me to fathom the way a werewolf's mind works,” hissed Snape. “Get out of the way, Potter.”

“YOURE PATHETIC!” Harry yelled. “JUST BECAUSE THEY MADE A FOOL OF YOU AT SCHOOL YOU WON'T EVEN LISTEN —”

“SILENCE! I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO LIKE THAT!” Snape shrieked, looking madder than ever. “Like father, like son, Potter! I have just saved your neck; you should be thanking me on bended knee! You would have been well served if he'd killed you! You'd have died like your father, too arrogant to believe you might be mistaken in Black—now get out of the way, or I will make you. GET OUT OF THE WAY, POTTER!”

Harry made up his mind in a split second. Before Snape could take even one step toward him, he had raised his wand.

“Expelliarmus!” he yelled—except that his wasn't the only voice that shouted. There was a blast that made the door rattle on its hinges; Snape was lifted off his feet and slammed into the wall, then slid down it to the floor, a trickle of blood oozing from under his hair. He had been knocked out.

Harry looked around. Both Ron and Hermione had tried to disarm Snape at exactly the same moment. Snape's wand soared in a high arc and landed on the bed next to Crookshanks.

“You shouldn't have done that,” said Black, looking at Harry.

“You should have left him to me...”

Harry avoided Black's eyes. He wasn't sure, even now, that he'd done the right thing.

“We attacked a teacher... We attacked a teacher...” Hermione whimpered, staring at the lifeless Snape with frightened eyes. “Oh, we're going to be in so much trouble —”

Lupin was struggling against his bonds. Black bent down quickly and untied him. Lupin straightened up, rubbing his arms where the ropes had cut into them.

“Thank you, Harry,” he said.

“I'm still not saying I believe you,” he told Lupin.

“Then it's time we offered you some proof,” said Lupin. “You, boy—give me Peter, please. Now.”

Ron clutched Scabbers closer to his chest.

“Come off it,” he said weakly. “Are you trying to say he broke out of Azkaban just to get his hands on Scabbers? I mean...” He looked up at Harry and Hermione for support, “Okay, say Pettigrew could turn into a rat—there are millions of rats—how's he supposed to know which one he's after if he was locked up in Azkaban?”

“You know, Sirius, that's a fair question,” said Lupin, turning to Black and frowning slightly. “How did you find out where he was?”

Black put one of his clawlike hands inside his robes and took out a crumpled piece of paper, which he smoothed flat and held out to show the others.

It was the photograph of Ron and his family that had appeared in the Daily Prophet the previous summer, and there, on Ron's shoulder, was Scabbers.

“How did you get this?” Lupin asked Black, thunderstruck.

“Fudge,” said Black. “When he came to inspect Azkaban last year, he gave me his paper. And there was Peter, on the front page on this boy's shoulder... I knew him at once... how many times had I seen him transform? And the caption said the boy would be going back to Hogwarts... to where Harry was...

“My God,” said Lupin softly, staring from Scabbers to the picture in the paper and back again. “His front paw...”

“What about it?” said Ron defiantly.

“He's got a toe missing,” said Black.

“Of course,” Lupin breathed. “So simple... so brilliant... he cut it off himself?”

“Just before he transformed,” said Black. “When I cornered him, he yelled for the whole street to hear that I'd betrayed Lily and James. Then, before I could curse him, he blew apart the street with the wand behind his back, killed everyone within twenty feet of himself—and sped down into the sewer with the other rats...”

“Didn't you ever hear, Ron?” said Lupin. “The biggest bit of Peter they found was his finger.”

“Look, Scabbers probably had a fight with another rat or something! He's been in my family for ages, right —”

“Twelve years, in fact,” said Lupin. “Didn't you ever wonder why he was living so long?”

“We—we've been taking good care of him!” said Ron.

“Not looking too good at the moment, though, is he?” said Lupin. “I'd guess he's been losing weight ever since he heard Sirius was on the loose again...”

“He's been scared of that mad cat!” said Ron, nodding toward Crookshanks, who was still purring on the bed.

But that wasn't right, Harry thought suddenly... Scabbers had been looking ill before he met Crookshanks... ever since Ron's return from Egypt... since the time when Black had escaped...

“This cat isn't mad,” said Black hoarsely. He reached out a bony hand and stroked Crookshanks's fluffy head. “He's the most intelligent of his kind I've ever met. He recognized Peter for what he was right away. And when he met me, he knew I was no dog. It was a while before he trusted me... Finally, I managed to communicate to him what I was after, and he's been helping me.. . “What do you mean?” breathed Hermione.

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K.Rîwling
Viewed 114247 times

123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142434445


 
              
Page generation 0.001 seconds