In Chapter 4, we spend some quality time in Diagon Alley, meet back up with Ron and Hermione, and find out the reason why Sirius Black escaped from prison. Let’s go!
I wish I could spend a day in Diagon Alley. Just one. I would spend so much money there, so unless that trip came with an unlimited budget, maybe it’s for the best that I can’t go. Still, just sitting there to people watch would be pretty fun too.
Harry gets a rare bit of freedom here. Since he is staying at the Leaky Cauldron, per the Minister’s instructions, he has the run of Diagon Alley. After getting a withdrawal from his Gringotts account, he also has plenty of money to spend, although he is very responsible. Good lad!
He had to keep reminding himself that he had five years go to at Hogwarts, and how it would feel to ask the Dursleys for money for spellbooks . . .
Yeah, that conversation wouldn’t go over well.
Still, Harry is still a kid and a Quidditch enthusiast to boot, so when he sees the new broom in the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies . . . very understandable that he’s tempted. But again, he shows amazing restraint. He has a good broom, doesn’t need another one, even if it’s the fastest thing in the world. Instead, Harry uses his money to buy his school textbooks (the list of which includes that crazy Monster book that Hagrid sent him – it makes sense now!) and his other school supplies.
It does lead to an interesting scene in the bookstore though. Harry is getting his book for Divination when he sees a book called Death Omens: What to Do When You Know the Worst Is Coming. The bookstore manager, rightly, says that Harry shouldn’t read that book because he will end up seeing death omens everywhere and probably get pretty paranoid. Then we get this:
But Harry continued to stare at the front cover of the book; it showed a black dog large as a bear, with gleaming eyes. It looked oddly familiar . . .
So . . . Harry thinks that what he saw the night he caught the Knight Bus might be whatever this picture on the cover is. Except he never really got a good look at whatever was hiding in the alley that night, did he? It’s enough to make him nervous though, which is certainly understandable.
We finally run into Ron and Hermione, both of whom are staying at the Leaky Cauldron too. Ron has a new wand (thank ye gods) and Hermione has bags and bags of books due to all the classes she signed up to take. She even wants to take Muggle Studies, despite being raised as a Muggle her whole life, because “it’ll be fascinating to study them from the Wizarding point of view.” Okay, Hermione. There is overachieving, and then there’s THIS. Although it does sound like something I might have done had I been in her shoes.
One thing Hermione does want, however, is a magical pet. An owl, to be specific. Ron also wants to have Scabbers checked out because it looks like he hasn’t been feeling well ever since their Egypt trip. They head to the pet store, where the clerk basically says that Scabbers is old and not much can be done, when they are attacked by a large pile of orange fur. Well, no. It’s a cat.
The cat’s ginger fur was thick and fluffy, but it was definitely a bit bowlegged and its face looked grumpy and oddly squashed, as though it had run headlong into a brick wall.
Crookshanks. I love Crookshanks. And so does Hermione, who drops her plans to buy and owl and buys Crookshanks instead. Let’s talk a bit about this cat, shall we? We know a lot more about him now, that he is actually half cat/half kneazle which is why he is so intelligent. We know that the reason he attacked that day in the pet store was because he could sense that Scabbers wasn’t what he seemed. I often wonder where Crookshanks came from. All we really know is that he was in the pet store for a long time because no one would buy him, but if the only reason he attacked this time was because of Scabbers, it makes you wonder what he has done to make other people not want to take him on either. I probably would have adopted him anyway.
We meet back up with the Weasleys in the Leaky Cauldron, and they are wonderful as always. Ginny is adorably awkward, Fred and George are hilarious, and Percy is as pompous as ever, especially since he has been named Head Boy. During his time with the Weasleys though, Harry overhears a conversation between Mr. and Mrs. Weasley about him.
I’m not going to quote all of it, even though every single sentence is important. They are arguing about whether or not they should tell Harry that Sirius Black, deranged escaped convict and former Voldemort fanboy, is after none other than Harry himself. Mrs. Weasley doesn’t want Harry to know, is afraid that it would terrify him. On the flip side, Mr. Weasley thinks Harry has a right to know about the danger he’s in. Personally, I’m on Team Mr. Weasley for this one. Everyone seems to think that keeping Harry ignorant is going to keep him safe, from Dumbledore on down. We first see it in this book, but it continues frustratingly throughout the series.
So Fudge is keeping it out of the papers, Dumbledore has agreed to have the “Azkaban guards” help protect Hogwarts, and everyone pats themselves on the back that they have continued to keep Harry in the dark. Again.
Also, I think that Harry has a bit of a lackadaisical attitude about this. He just found that a crazy mass murder is after him, and he’s mostly worried about . . . the fact that he won’t be able to go on school trips to Hogsmede? Really, Harry? You’re not worried about, oh I don’t know, BEING KILLED BY A MANIAC??
“I’m not going to be murdered,” Harry said out loud.
“That’s the spirit, dear,” said his mirror sleepily.
We need more attentive mirrors in our lives.
See you next time for Chapter 5!