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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 9 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 9, we see the aftermath of the Black sighting, have a very awkward DADA class, and a very wet and dangerous Quidditch game. Let’s go!

So. According to Peeves, Sirius Black just tried to break into Gryffindor Tower. Yikes! Naturally, they can’t just send the kids back to the dorms after this, so they gather all of the students in the Great Hall and . . . have a big slumber party? Basically? Everyone in sleeping bags on the floor, watched over by the ghosts, teachers and prefects, while the castle is being searched.

The candles all went out at once. The only light now came from the silvery ghosts, who were drifting about talking seriously to the prefects, and the enchanted ceiling, which, like the sky outside, was scattered with stars. What with that, and the whispering that still filled the hall, Harry felt as though he were sleeping outdoors in a light wind.

That actually sounds quite lovely.

Everyone is wondering how Black managed to get in the castle in the first place. Did he Apparate? Fly? Come in disguised? Hermione shuts all that down, explaining that there are a lot of other enchantments on Hogwarts to prevent such things, not to mention the dementors everywhere who would be able to see through a disguise. So how did he do it? No one knows, not even Dumbledore. Only one person has any sort of suspicion, and that person is Snape.

“It seems – almost impossible – that Black could have entered the school without inside help. I did express my concerns when you appointed -“

Okay, Snape. There’s only been one appointment since this all started, and that’s Lupin. Why not just come out and say it? Dumbledore dismisses Snape’s concerns – he doesn’t believe anyone in the castle would have done it. But the question still is how? It’s terrifying that Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard of his time, can’t come up with an explanation.

Several things take place in the aftermath of the incident. First, the Fat Lady is replaced by Sir Cadogan, the only portrait brave enough to take the job. The problem is that Sir Cadogan is a terrible keeper of the entrance since he keeps changing the password and keeps challenging students to duels. The other thing that happens: McGonagall tries to take Harry off the Quidditch team, saying that it exposes him to too much danger. Given what happens at the end of the chapter, maybe she has a point, but Harry is rightly indignant about the whole thing.

Speaking of Quidditch. The first game is supposed to be against Slytherin. The day dawns with the worst storm they’ve had in a while. And . . . Slytherin pulls a fast one, because of course they do. Citing the fact that their seeker is still injured, they pull out of the game, getting replaced with Hufflepuff. Everyone knows that Malfoy is perfectly fine, they just don’t want to play in the storm.

Before the first game though, they still have classes. Harry arrives at Defense Against the Dark Arts to find Lupin missing and the class being run by none other than Snape. Snape claims that Lupin is ill but doesn’t give any further information. Instead, he turns to the back of the textbook (where he knows for sure they haven’t studied yet) and gives them a very pointed lesson on werewolves, particularly how to recognize them and fight them, all the while completely dissing Lupin’s organization skills and teaching.

Okay. I have to admit. The first time I read this . . . I didn’t catch on that Lupin was a werewolf. His name is literally “wolf.” Snape is hinting to everyone (including the reader) that you need to know how to identify werewolves. And yet I didn’t get it. HIS NAME WAS REMUS FREAKING LUPIN! I’m an idiot.

The Quidditch match. It’s horrible, raining really hard, wind blowing, thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening. Harry can’t see anything with his glasses, but Hermione is able to fix that with a charm to help them repel water. But even then, with lightning forking around them, it’s getting more and more dangerous, when suddenly, this happens.

He turned, intending to head back toward the middle of the field, but at that moment, another flash of lightning illuminated the stands, and Harry saw something that distracted him completely – the silhouette of an enormous shaggy black dog, clearly imprinted against the sky, motionless in the topmost, empty row of seats.

The Grim has shown up for the match. But that’s not the only thing. The dementors, at least a hundred of them, swarm the field. Harry immediately freezes and hears the screaming inside his head again. And it’s horrible.

“Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!”

“Stand aside, you silly girl . . . stand aside, now . . .”

Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead -“

It’s the last thing Harry hears before passing out. On his broom. In the air. Plummeting to the ground. He wakes up in the hospital wing, patched up my Madam Miracle-Worker Pomfrey. Ron, Hermione, and the rest of the Quidditch team (minus Wood, who is trying to drown himself in the showers due to Gryffindor’s defeat) tell Harry what had happened after he blacked out. The Hufflepuff seeker, Cedric Diggory, caught the Snitch, but tried to call off the win since it clearly wasn’t fair, but that’s not how Quidditch works. Gryffindor is still in the running though, depending on how the other teams play.

The last thing Harry asks is if anyone was able to catch his Nimbus 2000. Um, well, not exactly. It got blown into the Whomping Willow. Which took great offense to it. The Nimbus is pretty much nothing but matchsticks now.

R.I.P. Nimbus 2000. You were a good broom to the end. 😦

See you next time for Chapter 10!