Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 14 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 14, Ron and Hermione’s relationship continues to be strained, Harry has a near miss with the Invisibility Cloak, and Snape gets insulted by a piece of parchment. Let’s go!

A lot of things happening in this chapter. First off, we have to deal with the fact that Sirius Black managed to get inside Gryffindor Tower. No one can sleep for the rest of the night, of course, and no one can find Black either. He’s disappeared. The school amps up security – except for that secret passageway into Honeydukes Sweet Shop. Fred and George said they were pretty sure that they were the only ones who knew about it due to the Marauder’s Map, and this is pretty good confirmation of that.

Ron is enjoying the attention though. Apparently almost getting murdered agrees with him. What they can’t figure out is why Black didn’t just kill Ron and then move on to Harry. Maybe because he wouldn’t have been able to escape? Neville gets the worst of this whole situation, for leaving the passwords written down for anyone to find. He’s banned from Hogsmeade visits, gets detention, and is no longer privy to new passwords, having to wait outside the tower for someone to let him in. Poor Neville.

He also gets a Howler from his grandmother. Poor Neville indeed.

Harry and Ron get invited down to Hagrid’s for a visit, but instead of talking about Black’s near-attack on Ron, Hagrid wants to talk to them about Hermione. She has been coming down to see him a lot to help with Buckbeak’s case (which the boys completely forgot about) and just because she’s lonely.

“I’m not blamin’ yeh!” said Hagrid, waving Harry’s apology aside. “Gawd knows yeh’ve had enough ter be gettin’ on with. I’ve seen yeh practicin’ Quidditch ev’ry hour o’ the day an’ night – but I gotta tell yeh, I thought you two’d value yer friend more’n broomsticks or rats. Tha’s all.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Hagrid’s speech pattern is VERY HARD TO TYPE! He’s also the absolute best character ever, taking these two to task. Hermione was very upset when Ron was almost killed by Black, but doesn’t know what to do at this point. She’s also completely frazzled with all her schoolwork. This doesn’t stop her from threatening to turn Harry in to McGonagall if he tries to sneak out on the next Hogsmeade trip, which Ron takes great offense to. Harry agrees to go, but under the Invisibility Cloak, just to be safe.

And it mostly works. After dodging Snape, Harry meets up with Ron in Hogsmeade. They go to the owl post office, Zonko’s Joke Shop, and to the Shrieking Shack. There, they run into Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, and here’s where Harry gets in trouble. He decides to have some fun and proceeds to throw a bunch of mud at Malfoy’s head. Ron blames it on the ghosts, since the Shrieking Shack is supposed to be haunted. The problem is that in the mud fight, the Invisibility Cloak slips and Harry’s head is exposed, which sends Malfoy off to tattle, because of course it does.

Harry runs back through the secret tunnel and makes it back to Hogwarts . . . only to be immediately caught by Snape. What follows is one of my favorite scenes in this book.

It starts off with Snape telling Harry that Malfoy saw his head floating in midair down in Hogsmeade.

“What would your head have been doing in Hogsmeade, Potter?” said Snape softly. “Your head is not allowed in Hogsmeade. No part of your body has permission to be in Hogsmeade.”

Sassy Snape is my favorite Snape!

Harry doesn’t have an alibi though, so it looks like he’s in big trouble. Snape takes it further by saying some bad things about Harry’s dad, which Harry comes back with how he knows that James had saved Snape’s life. Snape clarifies the situation (sort of) by saying that James Potter was certainly no saint and that the only reason he saved Snape was because James and his friends were pulling a very dangerous trick on Snape and James chickened out at the last minute.

Finally, Snape tells Harry to empty his pockets, which reveals the bag of tricks he had just gotten at the joke shop and . . . the Marauder’s Map. Of course, it’s just a blank paper right now, but Snape commands it to reveal itself, and then the following appears:

“Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.”

“Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git.”

“Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor.”

“Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball.”

Oh dear. Oh dear dear dear. Not good not good not good. But instead of yelling at Harry, Snape summons Lupin through the floo. He shows Lupin the paper, but Lupin doesn’t seem to think it’s that serious. Maybe just a paper from a joke shop that insults people? Ron bursts in to explain that he gave Harry a bunch of Zonko’s stuff ages ago, which is enough to satisfy Lupin for the moment. He leads the boys away from Snape, but after they are out of earshot, Lupin let’s them have it.

“I don’t want to hear explanations,” said Lupin shortly. He glanced around the empty entrance hall and lowered his voice. “I happen to know that this map was confiscated by Mr. Filch many years ago. Yes, I know it’s a map . . . I don’t want to know how it fell into your possession. I am, however, astounded that you didn’t hand it in. Particularly after what happened the last time a student left information about the castle lying around.”

So Lupin knows that it’s a map. He also says that he has met the mapmakers and they would have been amused by this whole situation. But Lupin’s also not done either.

“Don’t expect me to cover up for you again, Harry. I cannot make you take Sirius Black seriously. But I would have thought that what you have heard when the dementors draw near you would have had more of an effect on you. Your parents gave their lives to keep you alive, Harry. A poor way to repay them – gambling their sacrifice for a bag of magic tricks.”

Ouch. That cuts deep, and is unfortunately very accurate. Harry is taking too many risks, and given that the Potters were friends of Lupin, it does seem like he would take that almost personally.

The last thing we learn at the end of the chapter: Hermione lets the boys know that Hagrid lost his case. Buckbeak the Hippogriff has been sentenced to death. 😦

See you next time for Chapter 15!

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