In Chapter 17, we learn the truth of the big black dog, the truth about Lupin, and the truth about Scabbers. Basically, we learn a lot of truths. Let’s go!
This is such a great chapter. So many reveals! And we’re not done yet!
After leaving Hagrid’s and hearing the swing of the executioner’s axe, the trio are heading back to the castle, but for some reason, Scabbers is still freaking out. He’s wiggling with all his might and actually bites Ron to get free. Ron runs after him, avoiding Crookshanks, when suddenly that huge black dog appears. Harry thinks the dog is after him, but he’s actually targeting Ron for some reason. Anyone else get really confused at that the first time you read it? I sure did! The dog drags Ron to the Whomping Willow through a tunnel at its roots, breaking Ron’s leg in the process. This sounds so painful!! Actually, this whole chapter with Ron and his leg makes me so uncomfortable. It just sounds so bad!
Harry and Hermione are determined to help Ron, but the whirling dervish that is the Whomping Willow will not let them. It’s Crookshanks to the . . . rescue? What’s going on with that cat anyway?
Crookshanks darted forward. He slithered between the battering branches like a snake and placed his front paws upon a knot on the trunk.
Abruptly, as though the tree had been turned to marble, it stopped moving. Not a leaf twitched or shook.
“Crookshanks!” Hermione whispered uncertainly. She now grasped Harry’s arm painfully hard. “How did he know -?”
I have always had loads of questions about Crookshanks. I know we’ve found out since that he is half-kneazle, which is a magical cat creature. This accounts for his abnormal intelligence, but still. I keep having a feeling there’s even more to it than that. Actually, check out this Pottermore page of Crookshanks must have been thinking throughout the book. It’s really funny.
But I digress. Sorry. I just love that squashy ginger cat!
They make it down the tunnel under the tree and it leads to the Shrieking Shack, where they find Ron, his leg very much broken. Ron tells them that it is a trap. The dog isn’t a dog.
“He’s the dog . . . he’s an Animagus . . .”
Dun dun DUUUUUN!!! It’s Sirius Black! Another name that I should have connected with the black dog at the beginning the first time I read this. But I didn’t. I was shocked.
Harry is not doing well. This is the man who he believes to be responsible for leading Voldemort to his parents. He is furious, but his two friends are terrified. Ron is determined to stand in front of Harry, despite his BROKEN LEG! Also, I am so mad that they gave that line to Hermione in the movie. It’s such a great Ron moment! Harry isn’t having it though. This isn’t a time for thinking things through. He tackles Black down to the ground, holds him down, and points his wand right at Black’s heart.
Black tries to argue, tries to get Harry to listen to the “whole story,” but Harry is just not willing to listen. Black gets a slight reprieve when Crookshanks curls up on his chest right where Harry was aiming his wand. It makes Harry pause slightly, which gives another person time to get there.
Lupin to the rescue! OR IS HE!!!
Lupin asks Sirius where “he” is. He babbles about someone switching something without telling him. And then he gives Sirius a big hug.
What the heck dude!
Hermione is furious. She has been covering for Lupin. She has trusted him this whole time. Even though . . .
“Harry, don’t trust him, he’s been helping Black get into the castle, he wants you dead too – he’s a werewolf!”
Yep. Hermione is smarter than I am and figured out what Lupin was ever since Snape assigned them the essay. The clues: Lupin is always sick during the full moon, and the boggart turns into the moon when it sees him. Hermione wishes she had told the teachers, but Lupin tells her that they already know. They brought him on regardless. That’s right, Dumbledore willing hired a werewolf. As well he should have! Lupin is a great teacher! But . . . there is this little issue of him seeming to be in league with a convicted murderer.
Lupin tells them that he was watching the Marauder’s Map to see if Harry and his friends would leave the castle to see Hagrid that night, but he saw another name on it – a name that couldn’t possibly be there. He mentions that he helped write the map – he’s Mr. Moony, as that was his nickname when he was at Hogwarts. Can I also just say that I was very disappointed in how the movie addressed this. They barely explained the Marauders at all! It makes the whole ending of the movie very confusing for someone who hasn’t read the book.
In the final bit of this chapter, we get one more big revelation. Lupin convinces the trio to listen to them. Turns out Sirius was not after Harry – he was after Scabbers. Lupin saw on the map that Scabbers isn’t actually a rat at all. He’s an Animagus . . . names Peter Pettigrew. Yep, the same Peter Pettigrew who Black supposedly killed all those years ago in the infamous attack that killed thirteen Muggles.
So if Peter Pettigrew is actually alive . . . what does that mean for Sirius Black?
See you next time for Chapter 18!