Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hp-3, page 1part #3 of Harry Potter Series
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
( Harry Potter - 3 )
J. K. Rowling
For most children, summer vacation is something to look forward to. But not for our 13-year-old hero, who’s forced to spend his summers with an aunt, uncle, and cousin who detest him. The third book in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series catapults into action when the young wizard “accidentally” causes the Dursleys’ dreadful visitor Aunt Marge to inflate like a monstrous balloon and drift up to the ceiling. Fearing punishment from Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon (and from officials at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who strictly forbid students to cast spells in the nonmagic world of Muggles), Harry lunges out into the darkness with his heavy trunk and his owl Hedwig.
As it turns out, Harry isn’t punished at all for his errant wizardry. Instead he is mysteriously rescued from his Muggle neighborhood and whisked off in a triple-decker, violently purple bus to spend the remaining weeks of summer in a friendly inn called the Leaky Cauldron. What Harry has to face as he begins his third year at Hogwarts explains why the officials let him off easily. It seems that Sirius Black—an escaped convict from the prison of Azkaban—is on the loose. Not only that, but he’s after Harry Potter. But why? And why do the Dementors, the guards hired to protect him, chill Harry’s very heart when others are unaffected? Once again, Rowling has created a mystery that will have children and adults cheering, not to mention standing in line for her next book. Fortunately, there are four more in the works.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
To Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely,
The godmothers of Swing
1. OWL POST
Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways. For one thing, he hated the summer holidays more than any other time of year. For another, he really wanted to do his homework but was forced to do it in secret, in the dead of night. And he also happened to be a wizard.
It was nearly midnight, and he was lying on his stomach in bed, the blankets drawn right over his head like a tent, a flashlight in one hand and a large leather bound book (A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot) propped open against the pillow. Harry moved the tip of his eagle feather quill down the page, frowning as he looked for something that would help him write his essay, “Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless Discuss.”
The quill paused at the top of a likely looking paragraph. Harry pushed his round glasses up the bridge of his nose, moved his flashlight closer to the book, and read:
Non-magic people (more commonly known as Muggles) were particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, but not very good at recognizing it. On the rare occasion that they did catch a real witch or wizard, burning had no effect whatsoever. The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle, tickling sensation. Indeed, Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being burned so much that she allowed herself to be caught no less than forty-seven times in various disguises.
Harry put his quill between his teeth and reached underneath his pillow for his ink bottle and a roll of parchment. Slowly and very carefully he unscrewed the ink bottle, dipped his quill into it, and began to write, pausing every now and then to listen, because if any of the Dursleys heard the scratching of his quill on their way to the bathroom, he’d probably find himself locked in the cupboard under the stairs for the rest of the summer.
The Dursley family of number four, Privet Drive, was the reason that Harry never enjoyed his summer holidays. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and their son, Dudley, were Harry’s only living relatives. They were Muggles, and they had a very medieval attitude toward magic. Harry’s dead parents, who had been a witch and wizard themselves, were never mentioned under the Dursleys’ roof. For years, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had hoped that if they kept Harry as downtrodden as possible, they would be able to squash the magic out of him. To their fury, they had been unsuccessful. These days they lived in terror of anyone finding out that Harry had spent most of the last two years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The most they could do, however, was to lock away Harry’s spellbooks, wand, cauldron, and broomstick at the start of the summer break, and forbid him to talk to the neighbors.
This separation from his spellbooks had been a real problem for Harry, because his teachers at Hogwarts had given him a lot of holiday work. One of the essays, a particularly nasty one about shrinking potions, was for Harry’s least favorite teacher, Professor Snape, who would be delighted to have an excuse to give Harry detention for a month. Harry had therefore seized his chance in the first week of the holidays. While Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley had gone out into the front garden to admire Uncle Vernon’s new company car (in very loud voices, so that the rest of the street would notice it too), Harry had crept downstairs, picked the lock on the cupboard under the stairs, grabbed some of his books, and hidden them in his bedroom. As long as he didn’t leave spots of ink on the sheets, the Dursleys need never know that he was studying magic by night.
Harry was particularly keen to avoid trouble with his aunt and uncle at the moment, as they were already in an especially bad mood with him, all because he’d received a telephone call from a fellow wizard one week into the school vacation.
Ron Weasley, who was one of Harry’s best friends at Hogwarts, came from a whole family of wizards. This meant that he knew a lot of things Harry didn’t, but had never used a telephone before. Most unluckily, it had been Uncle Vernon who had answered the call.
“Vernon Dursley speaking.”
Harry, who happened to be in the room at the time, froze as he heard Ron’s voice answer.
“HELLO? HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? I—WANT—TO—TALK—TO—HARRY—POTTER!”
Ron was yelling so loudly that Uncle Vernon jumped and held the receiver a foot away from his ear, staring at it with an expression of mingled fury and alarm.
“WHO IS THIS?” he roared in the direction of the mouthpiece. “WHO ARE YOU?”
“RON—WEASLEY!” Ron bellowed back, as though he and Uncle Vernon were speaking from opposite ends of a football field. “I’M—A—FRIEND—OF—HARRY’S—FROM—SCHOOL—”
Uncle Vernon’s small eyes swiveled around to Harry, who was rooted to the spot.
“THERE IS NO HARRY POTTER HERE!” he roared, now holding the receiver at arm’s length, as though frightened it might explode. “I DON’T KNOW WHAT SCHOOL YOURE TALKING ABOUT! NEVER CONTACT ME AGAIN! DON’T YOU COME NEAR MY FAMILY!”
And he threw the receiver back onto the telephone as if dropping a poisonous spider.
The fight that had followed had been one of the worst ever.
“HOW DARE YOU GIVE THIS NUMBER TO PEOPLE LIKE—PEOPLE LIKE YOU!” Uncle Vernon had roared, spraying Harry with spit.
Ron obviously realized that he’d gotten Harry into trouble, because he hadn’t called again. Harry’s other best friend from Hogwarts, Hermione Granger, hadn’t been in touch either. Harry suspected that Ron had warned Hermione not to call, which was a pity, because Hermione, the cleverest witch in Harry’s year, had Muggle parents, knew perfectly well how to use a telephone, and would probably have had enough sense not to say that she went to Hogwarts.
So Harry had had no word from any of his wizarding friends for five long weeks, and this summer was turning out to be almost as bad as the last one. There was just one very small improvement—after swearing that he wouldn’t use her to send letters to any of his friends, Harry had been allowed to let his owl, Hedwig, out at night. Uncle Vernon had given in because of the racket Hedwig made if she was locked in her cage all the time.
He replaced the top of the ink bottle; pulled an old pillowcase from under his bed; put the flashlight, A History of Magic, his essay, quill, and ink inside it; got out of bed; and hid the lot under a loose floorboard under his bed. Then he stood up, stretched, and checked the time on the luminous alarm clock on his bedside table.
It was one o’clock in the morning. Harry’s stomach gave a funny jolt. He had been thirteen years old, without realizing it, for a whole hour.
Yet another unusual thing about Harry was how little he looked forward to his birthdays. He had never received a birthday card in his life. The Dursleys had completely ignored his last two birthdays, and he had no reason to suppose they would remember this one.
Harry walked across the dark room, past Hedwig’s large, empty cage, to the open window. He leaned on the sill, the cool night air pleasant on his face after a long time under the blankets. Hedwig had been absent for two nights now. Harry wasn’t worried about her: she’d been gone this long before. But he hoped she’d be back soon—she was the only living creature in this house who didn’t flinch at the sight of him.
Harry, though still rather small and skinny for his age, had grown a few inches over the last year. His jet black hair, however, was just as it always had been—stubbornly untidy, whatever he did to it. The eyes behind his glasses were bright green, and on his forehead, clearly visible through his hair, was a thin scar, shaped like a bolt of lightning.
Of all the unusual things about Harry, this scar was the most extraordinary of all. It was not, as the Dursleys had pretended for ten years, a souvenir of the car crash that had killed Harry’s parents, because Lily and James Potter had not died in a car crash. They had been murdered, murdered by the most feared Dark wizard for a hundred years, Lord Voldemort. Harry had escaped from the same attack with nothing more than a scar on his forehead, where Voldemort’s curse, instead of killing him, had rebounded upon its originator. Barely alive, Voldemort had fled . . .
But Harry had come face to face with him at Hogwarts. Remembering their last meeting as he stood at the dark window, Harry had to admit he was lucky even to have reached his thirteenth birthday.
He scanned the starry sky for a sign of Hedwig, perhaps soaring back to him with a dead mouse dangling from her beak, expecting praise. Gazing absently over the rooftops, it was a few seconds before Harry realized what he was seeing.
Silhouetted against the golden moon, and growing larger every moment, was a large, strangely lopsided creature, and it was flapping in Harry’s direction. He stood quite still, watching it sink lower and lower. For a split second he hesitated, his hand on the window latch, wondering whether to slam it shut. But then the bizarre creature soared over one of the street lamps of Privet Drive, and Harry, realizing what it was, leapt aside.
Through the window soared three owls, two of them holding up the third, which appeared to be unconscious. They landed with a soft flump on Harry’s bed, and the middle owl, which was large and gray, keeled right over and lay motionless. There was a large package tied to its legs.
Harry recognized the unconscious owl at once—his name was Errol, and he belonged to the Weasley family. Harry dashed to the bed, untied the cords around Errol’s legs, took off the parcel, and then carried Errol to Hedwig’s cage. Errol opened one bleary eye, gave a feeble hoot of thanks, and began to gulp some water.
Harry turned back to the remaining owls. One of them, the large snowy female, was his own Hedwig. She, too, was carrying a parcel and looked extremely pleased with herself. She gave Harry an affectionate nip with her beak as he removed her burden, then flew across the room to join Errol.
Harry didn’t recognize the third owl, a handsome tawny one, but he knew at once where it had come from, because in addition to a third package, it was carrying a letter bearing the Hogwarts crest. When Harry relieved this owl of its burden, it ruffled its feathers importantly, stretched its wings, and took off through the window into the night.
Harry sat down on his bed and grabbed Errol’s package, ripped off the brown paper, and discovered a present wrapped in gold, and his first ever birthday card. Fingers trembling slightly, he opened the envelope. Two pieces of paper fell out—a letter and a newspaper clipping.
The clipping had clearly come out of the wizarding newspaper, the Daily Prophet, because the people in the black and white picture were moving. Harry picked up the clipping, smoothed it out, and read:
MINISTRY OF MAGIC EMPLOYEE SCOOPS GRAND PRIZE
Arthur Weasley, Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office at the Ministry of Magic, has won the annual Daily Prophet Grand Prize Galleon Draw.
A delighted Mr. Weasley told the Daily Prophet, “We will be spending the gold on a summer holiday in Egypt, where our eldest son, Bill, works as a curse breaker for Gringotts Wizarding Bank.”
The Weasley family will be spending a month in Egypt, returning for the start of the new school year at Hogwarts, which five of the Weasley children currently attend.
Harry scanned the moving photograph, and a grin spread across his face as he saw all nine of the Weasleys waving furiously at him, standing in front of a large pyramid. Plump little Mrs. Weasley; tall, balding Mr. Weasley; six sons; and one daughter, all (though the black and white picture didn’t show it) with flaming red hair. Right in the middle of the picture was Ron, tall and gangling, with his pet rat, Scabbers, on his shoulder and his arm around his little sister, Ginny.
Harry couldn’t think of anyone who deserved to win a large pile of gold more than the Weasleys, who were very nice and extremely poor. He picked up Ron’s letter and unfolded it.
Look, I’m really sorry about that telephone call. I hope the Muggles didn’t give you a hard time. I asked Dad, and he reckons I shouldn’t have shouted.
It’s amazing here in Egypt. Bill’s taken us around all the tombs and you wouldn’t believe the curses those old Egyptian wizards put on them. Mum wouldn’t let Ginny come in the last one. There were all these mutant skeletons in there, of Muggles who’d broken in and grown extra heads and stuff.
I couldn’t believe it when Dad won the Daily Prophet Draw. Seven hundred galleons! Most of it’s gone on this trip, but they’re going to buy me a new wand for next year.
Harry remembered only too well the occasion when Ron’s old wand had snapped. It had happened when the car the two of them had been flying to Hogwarts had crashed into a tree on the school grounds.
We’ll be back about a week before term starts and we’ll be going up to London to get my wand and our new books. Any chance of meeting you there?
Don’t let the Muggles get you down!
Try and come to London,
P.S. Percy’s Head Boy. He got the letter last week.
Harry glanced back at the photograph. Percy, who was in his seventh and final year at Hogwarts, was looking particularly smug. He had pinned his Head Boy badge to the fez perched jauntily on top of his neat hair, his horn rimmed glasses flashing in the Egyptian sun.
Harry now turned to his present and unwrapped it. Inside was what looked like a miniature glass spinning top. There was another note from Ron beneath it.
Harry—this is a Pocket Sneakoscope. If there’s someone untrustworthy around, it’s supposed to light up and spin. Bill says it’s rubbish sold for wizard tourists and isn’t reliable, because it kept lighting up at dinner last night. But he didn’t realize Fred and George had put beetles in his soup.
Harry put the Pocket Sneakoscope on his bedside table, where it stood quite still, balanced on its point, reflecting the luminous hands of his clock. He looked at it happily for a few secon
Inside this, too, there was a wrapped present, a card, and a letter, this time from Hermione.
Ron wrote to me and told me about his phone call to your Uncle Vernon. I do hope you’re all right.
I’m on holiday in France at the moment and I didn’t know how I was going to send this to you—what if they’d opened it at customs?—but then Hedwig turned up! I think she wanted to make sure you got something for your birthday for a change. I bought your present by owl order; there was an advertisement in the Daily Prophet (I’ve been getting it delivered; it’s so good to keep up with what’s going on in the wizarding world). Did you see that picture of Ron and his family a week ago? I bet he’s learning loads. I’m really jealous—the ancient Egyptian wizards were fascinating.
There’s some interesting local history of witchcraft here, too. I’ve rewritten my whole History of Magic essay to include some of the things I’ve found out, I hope it’s not too long—it’s two rolls of parchment more than Professor Binns asked for.
Ron says he’s going to be in London in the last week of the holidays. Can you make it? Will your aunt and uncle let you come? I really hope you can. If not, I’ll see you on the Hogwarts Express on September first!
Love from Hermione
P.S. Ron says Percy’s Head Boy. I’ll bet Percy’s really pleased. Ron doesn’t seem too happy about it.
Harry laughed as he put Herrmone’s letter aside and picked up her present. It was very heavy. Knowing Hermione, he was sure it would be a large book full of very difficult spells—but it wasn’t. His heart gave a huge bound as he ripped back the paper and saw a sleek black leather case, with silver words stamped across it, reading Broomstick Servicing Kit.
“Wow, Hermione!” Harry whispered, unzipping the case to look inside.
Other author's books:
- Harry Potter and the Philosophers StoneHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Goblet of FireHarry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixHarry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceHarry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanFantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemShort Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies
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