“So, what brings you to this neck of the woods, Minister?” came Madam Rosmerta’s voice.
Harry saw the lower part of Fudge’s thick body twist in his chair as though he were checking for eavesdroppers. Then he said in a quiet voice, “What else, m’dear, but Sirius Black? I daresay you heard what happened up at the school at Halloween?”
“I did hear a rumor,” admitted Madam Rosmerta.
“Did you tell the whole pub, Hagrid?” said Professor McGonagall exasperatedly.
“Do you think Black’s still in the area, Minister?” whispered Madam Rosmerta.
“I’m sure of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница it,” said Fudge shortly.
“You know that the Dementors have searched the whole village twice?” said Madam Rosmerta, a slight edge to her voice. “Scared all my customers away… It’s very bad for business, Minister.”
“Rosmerta, dear, I don’t like them any more than you do,” said Fudge uncomfortably. “Necessary precaution… unfortunate, but there you are… I’ve just met some of them. They’re in a fury against Dumbledore—he won’t let them inside the castle grounds.”
“I should think not,” said Professor McGonagall sharply. “How are we supposed to teach with those horrors floating around?”
“Hear, hear Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница!” squeaked tiny Professor Flitwick, whose feet were dangling a foot from the ground.
“All the same,” demurred Fudge, “they are here to protect you all from something much worse… We all know what Black’s capable of…”
“Do you know, I still have trouble believing it,” said Madam Rosmerta thoughtfully. “Of all the people to go over to the Dark Side, Sirius Black was the last I’d have thought… I mean, I remember him when he was a boy at Hogwarts. If you’d told me then what he was going to become, I’d have Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница said you’d had too much mead.”
“You don’t know the half of it, Rosmerta,” said Fudge gruffly. “The worst he did isn’t widely known.”
“The worst?” said Madam Rosmerta, her voice alive with curiosity, “Worse than murdering all those poor people, you mean?”
“I certainly do,” said Fudge.
“I can’t believe that. What could possibly be worse?”
“You say you remember him at Hogwarts, Rosmerta,” murmured Professor McGonagall. “Do you remember who his best friend was?”
“Naturally,” said Madam Rosmerta, with a small laugh. “Never saw one without the other, did you? The number Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница of times I had them in here—ooh, they used to make me laugh. Quite the double act, Sirius Black and James Potter!”
Harry dropped his tankard with a loud clunk. Ron kicked him.
“Precisely,” said Professor McGonagall. “Black and Potter. Ringleaders of their little gang. Both very bright, of course—exceptionally bright, in fact—but I don’t think we’ve ever had such a pair of troublemakers—”
“I dunno,” chuckled Hagrid. “Fred and George Weasley could give ’em a run fer their money.”
“You’d have thought Black and Potter were brothers!” chimed in Professor Flitwick. “Inseparable!”
“Of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница course they were,” said Fudge. “Potter trusted Black beyond all his other friends. Nothing changed when they left school. Black was best man when James married Lily. Then they named him godfather to Harry. Harry has no idea, of course. You can imagine how the idea would torment him.”
“Because Black turned out to be in league with You-Know-Who?” whispered Madam Rosmerta.
“Worse even than that, m’dear…” Fudge dropped his voice and proceeded in a sort of low rumble. “Not many people are aware that the Potters knew You-Know-Who was after them. Dumbledore, who was of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница course working tirelessly against You-Know-Who, had a number of useful spies. One of them tipped him off, and he alerted James and Lily at once. He advised them to go into hiding. Well, of course, You-Know-Who wasn’t an easy person to hide from. Dumbledore told them that their best chance was the Fidelius Charm.”
“How does that work?” said Madam Rosmerta, breathless with interest. Professor Flitwick cleared his throat.
“An immensely complex spell,” he said squeakily, “involving the magical concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul. The information is hidden Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница inside the chosen person, or Secret-Keeper, and is henceforth impossible to find—unless, of course, the Secret-Keeper chooses to divulge it. As long as the Secret-Keeper refused to speak, You-Know-Who could search the village where Lily and James were staying for years and never find them, not even if he had his nose pressed against their sitting room window!”
“So Black was the Potters’ Secret-Keeper?” whispered Madam Rosmerta.
“Naturally,” said Professor McGonagall. “James Potter told Dumbledore that Black would die rather than tell where they were, that Black was planning to go into hiding Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница himself… and yet, Dumbledore remained worried. I remember him offering to be the Potters’ Secret-Keeper himself.”
“He suspected Black?” gasped Madam Rosmerta.
“He was sure that somebody close to the Potters had been keeping You-Know-Who informed of their movements,” said Professor McGonagall darkly. “Indeed, he had suspected for some time that someone on our side had turned traitor and was passing a lot of information to You-Know-Who.”
“But James Potter insisted on using Black?”
“He did,” said Fudge heavily. “And then, barely a week after the Fidelius Charm had been performed—”
“Black Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница betrayed them?” breathed Madam Rosmerta.
“He did indeed. Black was tired of his double agent role, he was ready to declare his support openly for You-Know-Who, and he seems to have planned this for the moment of the Potters’ death. But, as we all know, You-Know-Who met his downfall in little Harry Potter. Powers gone, horribly weakened, he fled. And this left Black in a very nasty position indeed. His master had fallen at the very moment when he, Black, had shown his true colors as a traitor. He had no choice but to run for it Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница—”
“Filthy, stinkin’ turncoat!” Hagrid said, so loudly that half the bar went quiet.
“Shh!” said Professor McGonagall.
“I met him!” growled Hagrid. “I musta bin the last ter see him before he killed all them people! It was me what rescued Harry from Lily an’ James’s house after they was killed! jus’ got him outta the ruins, poor little thing, with a great slash across his forehead, an’ his parents dead… an’ Sirius Black turns up, on that flyin’ motorbike he used ter ride. Never occurred ter me what he was doin’ there. I didn’ know he’d Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница bin Lily an’ James’s Secret-Keeper. Thought he’d jus’ heard the news o’ You-Know-Who’s attack an’ come ter see what he could do. White an’ shakin’, he was. An’ yeh know what I did? I COMFORTED THE MURDERIN’ TRAITOR!” Hagrid roared.
“Hagrid, please!” said Professor McGonagall. “Keep your voice down!”
“How was I ter know he wasn’ upset abou’ Lily an’ James? It was You-Know-Who he cared abou’! An’ then he says, ‘Give Harry ter me, Hagrid, I’m his godfather, I’ll look after him—’ Ha! But I’d had me Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница orders from Dumbledore, an’ I told Black no, Dumbledore said Harry was ter go ter his aunt an’ uncle’s. Black argued, but in the end he gave in. Told me ter take his motorbike ter get Harry there. ‘I won’t need it anymore,’ he says.
“I shoulda known there was somethin’ fishy goin’ on then. He loved that motorbike, what was he givin’ it ter me for? Why wouldn’ he need it anymore? Fact was, it was too easy ter trace. Dumbledore knew he’d bin the Potters’ Secret-Keeper. Black knew he was goin’ ter Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница have ter run fer it that night, knew it was a matter o’ hours before the Ministry was after him.
“But what if I’d given Harry to him, eh? I bet he’d’ve pitched him off the bike halfway out ter sea. His bes’ friends’ son! But when a wizard goes over ter the Dark Side, there’s nothin’ and no one that matters to ’im anymore…”
A long silence followed Hagrid’s story. Then Madam Rosmerta said with some satisfaction, “But he didn’t manage to disappear, did he? The Ministry of Magic caught up with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница him next day!”
“Alas, if only we had,” said Fudge bitterly. “It was not we who found him. It was little Peter Pettigrew—another of the Potters’ friends. Maddened by grief, no doubt, and knowing that Black had been the Potters’ Secret-Keeper, he went after Black himself.”
“Pettigrew… that fat little boy who was always tagging around after them at Hogwarts?” said Madam Rosmerta.
“He worshipped Black and Potter,” said Professor McGonagall. “Never quite in their league, talent-wise. I was often rather harp with him. You can imagine how I—how I regret that now…” She sounded Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница as though she had a sudden head cold.
“There, now, Minerva,” said Fudge kindly, “Pettigrew died a hero’s death. Eyewitnesses—Muggles, of course, we wiped their memories later—told us how Pettigrew cornered Black. They say he was sobbing, ‘Lily and James, Sirius! How could you?’ And then he went for his wand. Well, of course, Black was quicker. Blew Pettigrew to smithereens…”
Professor McGonagall blew her nose and said thickly, “Stupid boy… foolish boy… he was always hopeless at dueling… should have left it to the Ministry…”
“I tell yeh, if I’d got ter Black before little Pettigrew Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница did, I wouldn’t’ve messed around with wands—I’d’ve ripped him limb—from—limb,” Hagrid growled.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Hagrid,” said Fudge sharply. “Nobody but trained Hit Wizards from the Magical Law Enforcement Squad would have stood a chance against Black once he was cornered. I was Junior Minister in the Department of Magical Catastrophes at the time, and I was one of the first on the scene after Black murdered all those people. I—I will never forget it. I still dream about it sometimes. A Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница crater in the middle of the street, so deep it had cracked the sewer below. Bodies everywhere. Muggles screaming. And Black standing there laughing, with what was left of Pettigrew in front of him… a heap of bloodstained robes and a few—a few fragments—”
Fudge’s voice stopped abruptly. There was the sound of five noses being blown.
“Well, there you have it, Rosmerta,” said Fudge thickly. “Black was taken away by twenty members of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad and Pettigrew received the Order of Merlin, First Class, which I think was some comfort to his poor mother. Black Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница’s been in Azkaban ever since.”
Madam Rosmerta let out a long sigh.
“Is it true he’s mad, Minister?”
“I wish I could say that he was,” said Fudge slowly. “I certainly believe his master’s defeat unhinged him for a while. The murder of Pettigrew and all those Muggles was the action of a cornered and desperate man—cruel… pointless. Yet I met Black on my last inspection of Azkaban. You know, most of the prisoners in there sit muttering to themselves in the dark; there’s no sense in them… but I was shocked Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница at how normal Black seemed. He spoke quite rationally to me. It was unnerving. You’d have thought he was merely bored—asked if I’d finished with my newspaper, cool as you please, said he missed doing the crossword. Yes, I was astounded at how little effect the Dementors seemed to be having on him—and he was one of the most heavily guarded in the place, you know. Dementors outside his door day and night.”
“But what do you think he’s broken out to do?” said Madam Rosmerta. “Good gracious, Minister, he isn’t trying to rejoin Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница You-Know-Who, is he?”
“I daresay that is his—er—eventual plan,” said Fudge evasively. “But we hope to catch Black long before that. I must say, You-Know-Who alone and friendless is one thing… but give him back his most devoted servant, and I shudder to think how quickly he’ll rise again…”
There was a small chink of glass on wood. Someone had set down their glass.
“You know, Cornelius, if you’re dining with the headmaster, you’d better head back up to the castle,” said Professor McGonagall.
One by one, the pairs Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница of feet in front of Harry took the weight of their owners once more; hems of cloaks swung into sight, and Madam Rosmerta’s glittering heels disappeared behind the bar. The door of the Three Broomsticks opened again, there was another flurry of snow, and the teachers had disappeared.
Ron’s and Hermione’s faces appeared under the table. They were both staring at him, lost for words.
11. THE FIREBOLT
Harry didn’t have a very clear idea of how he had managed to get back into the Honeydukes cellar, through the tunnel, and into the castle once more. All he knew Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница was that the return trip seemed to take no time at all, and that he hardly noticed what he was doing, because his head was still pounding with the conversation he had just heard.
Why had nobody ever told him? Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley, Cornelius Fudge… why hadn’t anyone ever mentioned the fact that Harry’s parents had died because their best friend had betrayed them?
Ron and Herinione watched Harry nervously all through dintier, not daring to talk about what they’d overheard, because Percy was sitting close by them. When they went upstairs to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница the crowded common room, it was to find Fred and George had set off half a dozen Dungbombs in a fit of end of term high spirits. Harry, who didn’t want Fred and George asking him whether he’d reached Hogsmeade or not, sneaked quietly up to the empty dormitory and headed straight for his bedside cabinet. He pushed his books aside and quickly found what he was looking for—the leather bound photo album Hagrid had given him two years ago, which was full of wizard pictures of his mother and father. He sat down on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница his bed, drew the hangings around him, and started turning the pages, searching, until…
He stopped on a picture of his parents’ wedding day. There was his father waving up at him, beaming, the untidy black hair Harry had inherited standing up in all directions. There was his mother, alight with happiness, arm in arm with his dad. And there… that must be him. Their best man… Harry had never given him a thought before.
If he hadn’t known it was the same person, he would never have guessed it was Black in this old photograph. His face wasn’t sunken Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница and waxy, but handsome, full of laughter. Had he already been working for Voldemort when this picture had been taken? Was he already planning the deaths of the two people next to him? Did he realize he was facing twelve years in Azkaban, twelve years that would make him unrecognizable?
But the Dementors don’t affect him, Harry thought, staring into the handsome, laughing face. He doesn’t have to hear my mum screaming if they get too close—
Harry slammed the album shut, reached over and stuffed it back into his cabinet, took off his robe and glasses Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница and got into bed, making sure the hangings were hiding him from view.
The dormitory door opened.
“Harry?” said Ron’s voice uncertainly.
But Harry still, pretending to be asleep. He heard Ron leave again, and rolled over on his back, his eyes wide open.
A hatred such as he had never known before was coursing through Harry like poison. He could see Black laughing at him through the darkness, as though somebody had pasted the picture from the album over his eyes. He watched, as though somebody was playing him a piece of film, Sirius Black blasting Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница Peter Pettigrew (who resembled Neville Longbottom) into a thousand pieces. He could hear (though having no idea what Black’s voice might sound like) a low, excited mutter. “It has happened, My Lord… the Potters have made me their Secret-Keeper,” and then came another voice, laughing shrilly, the same laugh that Harry heard inside his head whenever the Dementors drew near…
“Harry, you—you look terrible.”
Harry hadn’t gotten to sleep until daybreak. He had awoken to find the dormitory deserted, dressed, and gone down the spiral staircase to a common room that was completely empty except for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница Ron, who was eating a Peppermint Toad and massaging his stomach, and Hermione, who had spread her homework over three tables.
“Where is everyone?” said Harry.
“Gone! It’s the first day of the holidays, remember?” said Ron, watching Harry closely. “It’s nearly lunchtime; I was going to come and wake you up in a minute.”
Harry slumped into a chair next to the fire. Snow was still falling outside the windows. Crookshanks was spread out in front of the fire like a large, ginger rug.
“You really don’ look well, you know,” Hermione said, peering anxiously Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница into his face.
“I’m fine,” said Harry.
“Harry, listen,” said Hermione, exchanging a look with Ron, “you must be really upset about what we heard yesterday. But the thing is, you mustn’t go doing anything stupid.”
“Like what?” said Harry.
“Like trying to go after Black,” said Ron sharply.
Harry could tell they had rehearsed this conversation while he had been asleep. He didn’t say anything.
“You won’t, will you, Harry?” said Hermione.
“Because Black’s not worth dying for,” said Ron.
Harry looked at them. They didn’t seem to understand at all.
“D’you Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница know what I see and hear every time a Dementor gets too near me?”
Ron and Hermione shook their heads, looking apprehensive.
“I can hear my mum screaming and pleading with Voldemort. And if you’d heard your mum screaming like that, just about to be killed, you wouldn’t forget it in a hurry. And if you found out someone who was supposed to be a friend of hers betrayed her and sent Voldemort after her—”
“There’s nothing you can do!” said Hermione, looking stricken. “The Dementors will catch Black and he’ll go back Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница to Azkaban and—and serve him right!”
“You heard what Fudge said. Black isn’t affected by Azkaban like normal people are. It’s not a punishment for him like it is for the others.”
“So what are you saying?” said Ron, looking very tense. “You want to—to kill Black or something?”
“Don’t be silly,” said Herinione in a panicky voice. “Harry doesn’t want to kill anyone, do you, Harry?”
Again, Harry didn’t answer. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. All he knew was that the idea of doing nothing, while Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница Black was at liberty, was almost more than he could stand.
“Malfoy knows,” he said abruptly. “Remember what he said to me in Potions? ‘If it was me, I’d hunt him down myself… I’d want revenge.’”
“You’re going to take Malfoy’s advice instead of ours?” said Ron furiously. “Listen… you know what Pettigrew’s mother got back after Black had finished with him? Dad told me—the Order of Merlin, First Class, and Pettigrew’s finger in a box. That was the biggest bit of him they could find. Black’s a madman, Harry, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница he’s dangerous—”
“Malfoy’s dad must have told him,” said Harry, ignoring Ron. “He was right in Voldemort’s inner circle—”
“Say You-Know-Who, will you?” interjected Ron angrily.
“—so obviously, the Malfoys knew Black was working for Voldemort—”
“—and Malfoy’d love to see you blown into about a million pieces, like Pettigrew! Get a grip. Malfoy’s just hoping you’ll get yourself killed before he has to play you at Quidditch.”
“Harry, please,” said Hermione, her eyes now shining with tears, “Please be sensible. Black did a terrible, terrible thing, but don’t put Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница yourself in danger, it’s what Black wants… Oh, Harry, you’d be playing right into Black’s hands if you went looking for him. Your mum and dad wouldn’t want you to get hurt, would they? They’d never want you to go looking for Black!”
“I’ll never know what they’d have wanted, because thanks to Black, I’ve never spoken to them,” said Harry shortly.
There was a silence in which Crookshanks stretched luxuriously flexing his claws. Ron’s pocket quivered.
“Look,” said Ron, obviously casting around for a change of subject, “it’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница the holidays! It’s nearly Christmas! Let’s—let’s go down and see Hagrid. We haven’t visited him for ages!”
“No!” said Hermione quickly. “Harry isn’t supposed to leave the castle, Ron—”
“Yeah, let’s go,” said Harry, sitting up, “and I can ask him how come he never mentioned Black when he told me all about my parents!”
Further discussion of Sirius Black plainly wasn’t what Ron had had in mind.
“Or we could have a game of chess,” he said hastily, “or Gobstones. Percy left a set—”
“No, let’s visit Hagrid,” said Harry firmly Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница.
So they got their cloaks from their dormitories and set off through the portrait hole (“Stand and fight, you yellow bellied mongrels!”), down through the empty castle and out through the oak front doors.
They made their way slowly down the lawn, making a shallow trench in the glittering, powdery snow, their socks and the hems of their cloaks soaked and freezing. The Forbidden Forest looked as though it had been enchanted, each tree smattered with silver, and Hagrid’s cabin looked like an iced cake.
Ron knocked, but there was no answer.
“He’s not out, is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница he?” said Hermione, who was shivering under her cloak.
Ron had his ear to the door.
“There’s a weird noise,” he said. “Listen—is that Fang?”
Harry and Hermione put their ears to the door too. From inside the cabin came a series of low, throbbing moans.
“Think we’d better go and get someone?” said Ron nervously.
“Hagrid!” called Harry, thumping the door. “Hagrid, are you in there?”
There was a sound of heavy footsteps, then the door creaked open. Hagrid stood there with his eyes red and swollen, tears splashing down the front of his Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница leather vest.
“You’ve heard?” he bellowed, and he flung himself onto Harry’s neck.
Hagrid being at least twice the size of a normal man, this was no laughing matter. Harry, about to collapse under Hagrid’s weight, was rescued by Ron and Hermione, who each seized Hagrid under an arm and heaved him back into the cabin. Hagrid allowed himself to be steered into a chair and slumped over the table, sobbing uncontrollably, his face glazed with tears that dripped down into his tangled beard.
“Hagrid, what is it?” said Hermione, aghast.
Harry spotted an official looking letter lying open Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница on the table.
“What’s this, Hagrid?”
Hagrid’s sobs redoubled, but he shoved the letter toward Harry, who picked it up and read aloud:
Dear Mr. Hagrid,
Further to our inquiry into the attack by a hippogriff on a student in your class, we have accepted the assurances of Professor Dumbledore that you bear no responsibility for the regrettable incident.
“Well, that’s okay then, Hagrid!” said Ron, clapping Hagrid oil the shoulder. But Hagrid continued to sob, and waved one of his gigantic hands, inviting Harry to read on.
However, we must register our Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница concern about the hippogriff in question. We have decided to uphold the official complaint of Mr. Lucius Malfoy, and this matter will therefore be taken to the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures. The hearing will take place on April 20th, and we ask you to present yourself and your hippogriff at the Committee’s offices in London on that date. In the meantime, the hippogriff should be kept tethered and isolated.
Yours in fellowship…
There followed a list of the school governors.
“Oh,” said Ron. “But you said Buckbeak isn’t a bad hippogriff, Hagrid. I bet he’ll get Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница off—”
“Yeh don’ know them gargoyles at the Committee fer the Disposal o’ Dangerous Creatures!” choked Hagrid, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. “They’ve got it in fer interestin’ creatures!”
A sudden sound from the corner of Hagrid’s cabin made Harry, Ron, and Hermione whip around. Buckbeak the hippogriff was lying in the corner, chomping on something that was oozing blood all over the floor.
“I couldn’ leave him tied up out there in the snow!” choked Hagrid. “All on his own! At Christmas.”
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another. They had never seen Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница eye to eye with Hagrid about what he called “interesting creatures” and other people called “terrifying monsters.” On the other hand, there didn’t seem to be any particular harm in Buckbeak. In fact, by Hagrid’s usual standards, he was positively cute.
“You’ll have to put up a good strong defense, Hagrid,” said Hermione, sitting down and laying a hand on Hagrid’s massive forearm. “I’m sure you can prove Buckbeak is safe.”
“Won’t make no diff’rence!” sobbed Hagrid. “Them Disposal devils, they’re all in Lucius Malfoy’s pocket! Scared o’ him! And if Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница I lose the case, Buckbeak—”
Hagrid drew his finger swiftly across his throat, then gave a great wail and lurched forward, his face in his arms.
“What about Dumbledore, Hagrid?” said Harry.
“He’s done more ’n enough fer me already,” groaned Hagrid. “Got enough on his plate what with keepin’ them Dementors outta the castle, an’ Sirius Black lurkin’ around—”
Ron and Hermione looked quickly at Harry, as though expecting him to start berating Hagrid for not telling him the truth about Black. But Harry couldn’t bring himself to do it, not now that he saw Hagrid Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница so miserable and scared.
“Listen, Hagrid,” he said, “you can’t give up. Hermione’s right, you just need a good defense. You can call us as witnesses—”
“I’m sure I’ve read about a case of hippogriff baiting,” said Hermione thoughtfully, “where the hippogriff got off. I’ll look it up for you, Hagrid, and see exactly what happened.”
Hagrid howled still more loudly. Harry and Hermione looked at Ron to help them.
“Er—shall I make a cup of tea?” said Ron.
Harry stared at him.
“It’s what my mum does whenever someone Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница’s upset,” Ron muttered, shrugging.
At last, after many more assurances of help, with a steaming mug of tea in front of him, Hagrid blew his nose on a handkerchief the size of a tablecloth and said, “Yer right. I can’ afford to go ter pieces. Gotta pull meself together…”
Fang the boarhound came timidly out from under the table and laid his head on Hagrid’s knee.
“I’ve not bin meself lately,” said Hagrid, stroking Fang with one hand and mopping his face with the other. “Worried abou’ Buckbeak, an’ no one likin’ me classes—”
“We Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница do like them!” lied Hermione at once.
“Yeah, they’re great!” said Ron, crossing his fingers under the table. “Er—how are the flobberworms?”
“Dead,” said Hagrid gloomily. “Too much lettuce.”
“Oh no!” said Ron, his lip twitching.
“An’ them Dementors make me feel ruddy terrible an’ all,” said Hagrid, with a sudden shudder. “Gotta walk past ’em ev’ry time I want a drink in the Three Broomsticks. ’S like bein’ back in Azkaban—”
He fell silent, gulping his tea. Harry, Ron, and Hermione watched him breathlessly. They had never heard Hagrid talk about his brief spell in Azkaban before Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница. After a pause, Hermione said timidly, “Is it awful in there, Hagrid?”
“Yeh’ve no idea,” said Hagrid quietly. “Never bin anywhere like it. Thought I was goin’ mad. Kep’ goin’ over horrible stuff in me mind… the day I got expelled from Hogwarts… day me dad died… day I had ter let Norbert go…”
His eyes filled with tears. Norbert was the baby dragon Hagrid had once won in a game of cards.
“Yeh can’ really remember who yeh are after a while. An’ yeh can’ really see the point o’ livin’ at all. I used ter hope Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 12 страница I’d jus’ die in me sleep. When they let me out, it was like bein’ born again, ev’rythin’ I came floodin’ back, it was the bes’ feelin’ in the world. Mind, the Dementors weren’t keen on lettin’ me go.”
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