Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 12 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 12, the boys are unhappy with Hermione, Harry has his first dementor lessons with Lupin, we find out more about dementors than we ever wanted to, and the Firebolt is back, baby! Let’s go!

Losing the Firebolt has had some implications. The boys are none to happy with Hermione, even though Hermione maintains that she was in the right and just trying to look out for Harry. Oliver Wood is stunned that Harry got such a wonderful broom for Christmas and completely dismayed that McGonagall won’t give it back yet.

Classes are back in session though, and that means the promised anti-dementor classes with Lupin. They can’t practice on a real dementor, obviously, but Lupin is able to find another boggart in the castle that will be a good substitute. The only way to drive one off is a very advanced spell called a Patronus Charm which produces (you guessed it) a Patronus. What is a Patronus, you might ask?

“. . . a kind of anti-dementor – a guardian that acts as a shield between you and the dementor.”

“The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the dementor feeds upon – hope, happiness, the desire to survive – but it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so the dementors can’t hurt it.”

It’s a tough spell that even full grown wizards can’t all do. There is an incantation and a happy memory needed to power the Patronus, but it’s still super hard. But this is Harry Potter! He can do it! No. No, he can’t. The boggart-dementor takes him out. The happy memory Harry chose (flying for the first time) was not enough. Lupin gives Harry some chocolate to feel better. Harry is determined to get this – what if dementors show up at his next Quidditch match!

The second attempt (with the memory of winning the House Cup last year) also doesn’t work, and now, Harry not only hears his mother pleading for his life, he hears his father telling them to run. This is so hard for Harry! He wants to fight off the dementors . . . but he also is hearing his parents’ voices for the first time since he was a baby. We also find out that Lupin knew James Potter and was friends with him at Hogwarts. This makes sense too, as Lupin has shown a bit of extra concern for Harry – he’s looking after his friend’s kid.

Third try. Memory chosen: the day he found out he was leaving the Dursleys. So happy! And it sort of works. The dementor is there, but so is a silvery cloud thing that the dementor can’t get through. It takes everything he has to keep the silvery cloud up, but it’s enough to keep the dementor away and keep him on his feet. Lupin is very happy about the progress and gives Harry even more chocolate. As he’s eating it, something occurs to Harry.

“Professor Lupin?” he said. “If you knew my dad, you must’ve known Sirius Black as well.”

Lupin turned very quickly.

“What gives you that idea?” he said sharply.

“Nothing – I mean, I just knew they were friends at Hogwarts too . . .”

Lupin’s face relaxed.

“Yes, I knew him,” he said shortly. “Or I thought I did.”

Makes sense. If James and Black were friends, and Lupin was also friends with James, then Lupin would have known Black too.  Harry still feels conflicted about hearing his parents and knows that he will never be able to produce a proper Patronus if he keeps wanting to hear their voices. This is so sad! Again, how is this kid not suffering from every PTSD symptom known to man!?!? He finally tells himself to get a grip, that listening to their voices won’t bring them back, and if he wants that Quidditch Cup, he needs to work on this. This kid is so strong, I tell you! I would be nothing but a complete and total mess at this point.

Leading up to the next Quidditch match, a few things happen. For one, Hermione is starting to break under the strain of taking every single class Hogwarts has to offer. Ron can’t figure out how she’s getting to all her classes – many of them are at the same time as the classes they share with her, so how is she attending them? Also, Wood decided to go and ask McGonagall if they could get the Firebolt back and was immediately rejected. Harry keeps asking over and over, and still no. Patronus lessons continue, but the Patronus isn’t getting any stronger. Lupin tells Harry not to worry, he’s doing amazing for such a young wizard, and at least with this cloudy Patronus, Harry will be able to land on the ground and not fall to his almost-death like he did before.

Lupin also gives us some more info on dementors, also known as nightmare fuel. When Harry asks what’s under a dementor’s hood (since he’s never actually seen a dementor’s face), Lupin can’t really explain because very few people know and they aren’t able to tell.

“They call it the Dementor’s Kiss,” said Lupin, with a slightly twisted smile. “It’s what dementors do to those they wish to destroy utterly. I suppose there must be some kind of mouth under there, because they clamp their jaws upon the mouth of the victim and – and suck out his soul.”

AAAHHHHHHH!!!! Mind you, this does not kill the person. They are still alive, just an empty shell. This has always made me wonder what they do with these people. Like, if someone here is sentenced to the death penalty, they are killed and their body either cremated or buried, but what do you do with a criminal who has been deemed severe enough that he gets sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss after the soul has been sucked out? Is there a pen in Azkaban with a bunch of mindless shell people wandering around? Do they get fed? Can they even eat? Can they talk? Can they do anything? Or do they just wither away to nothing? If so, why don’t they just execute them? This is a creepy line of questioning, so let’s just move on.

Oh, and the Ministry has authorized the dementors to give Black the Dementor’s Kiss if they find him. Harry says he deserves it, but Lupin wonders if anyone really deserves such a fate. It’s a good question, much like the death penalty debates we have here. How far is too far when it comes to punishment of crimes?

Harry finally gets some good news – the Firebolt has been cleared! It’s safe! Harry and Ron agree that they should probably patch things up with Hermione, since she was really looking out for Harry’s safety, but that nice moment is destroyed by the revelation that Scabbers is gone, Ron finds blood on his bedsheets, and with it, several ginger cat hairs. It looks like Crookshanks has finally done it.

See you next time for Chapter 13!


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 10 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 10, Harry returns to class, Lupin returns to teaching, and Harry receives a very special present from the Weasley twins. Let’s go!

Harry spends a great deal of time in the hospital wing, doesn’t he. He should have his own reserved cot there. It also gives him a great deal of time to think about this Grim that seems to follow him. He’s seen it twice and both times, he’s had close brushes with death. It’s scary. Also scary – the dementors. Harry has figured out that he is hearing his mother’s voice screaming and trying to protect him from Voldemort whenever the dementors are near. That’s not depressing at all.

On a happier note, Lupin is back! Which is great, except he looks awful. The class protests Snape’s lessons, particularly assigning a big essay on werewolves, a subject they hadn’t even covered. Lupin assures them they don’t have to do it and continues their lessons. Harry stays behind after class to speak to him, asking him about the dementors. He worries that they seem to affect him worse than anyone else.

“It has nothing to do with weakness,” said Professor Lupin sharply, as though he had read Harry’s mind. “The dementors affect you worse than the others because there are horrors in your past that the others don’t have.”

It makes sense. Very few kids at the school have gone through all that Harry has, even the parts he was too young to remember clearly. That’s what dementors do and how they keep the prisoners at Azkaban captive: they feed off of happiness and hope and leave you with the worst of your memories. Even Muggles can feel their presence, even if they can’t see them. Harry asks Lupin if there is any way to fend them off, since Lupin was able to do so on the train. Lupin claims not to be an expert, but he agrees to try and teach Harry what to do.

Christmas at Hogwarts! I would so love to spend Christmas at Hogwarts. I wonder if the theme park down in Florida does something special for the holidays. They probably do. I actually got to go once several years ago. It’s really, really cool, and they’ve added a bunch of stuff since then.

Harry is really bummed that there is another Hogsmeade weekend and he still can’t go. The morning of the trip, Harry sees Fred and George Weasley hiding. They motion for him to come over and give him, what they call, “the secret of our success.” It looks like a spare bit of parchment, but it is soooooo much more than that!

And at once, thin ink lines began to spread like a spider’s web from the point that George’s wand had touched. They joined each other, they crisscrossed, they fanned into every corner of the parchment; then words began to blossom across the top, great, curly green words, that proclaimed:

Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs

Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers

are proud to present


This thing is so cool. It’s a full map of Hogwarts Castle and the grounds surrounding it. Not only that, this thing shows where everyone is in the castle by little dots that move around with names hovering over them. This is partially how Fred and George have gotten away with so much – they know everything about the castle, including secret passages, one of which leads right into the candy shop at Hogsmeade. They both agree that, since Harry is having such a rough time of it, they should give the map to him.

And it works! He emerges in the basement of Honeydukes, sneaks up the stairs and startles Ron and Hermione, who were both shopping there. Hermione thinks Harry should turn it in, but Ron thinks it’s amazing and is irritated that his brothers never gave it to him. Hermione is also worried that Harry will get in trouble, either at school or because Black is still on the loose, but there are notices all over the town saying that Hogsmeade is being patrolled every night by the dementors and nothing has turned up yet.

They decide to go to the Three Broomsticks for butterbeer. While there, they see not only some of their teachers (McGonagall, Flitwick and Hagrid), but the Minister himself. Ron and Hermione shove Harry under the table and Hermione moves a Christmas tree over slightly to hide them. While there, Harry overhears more information than he ever wanted about Sirius Black.

Turns out, Black was James Potter’s best friend. They were inseparable at school and, when James married Lilly, Black was their best man. He was even named Harry’s godfather when Harry was born. Even after that, somehow, for some reason, Black betrayed them. He turned to Voldemort. The Potters went into hiding, using a Fidelius Charm to keep their location secret, and Black gave up their location to Voldemort. What happened next is history. The Potters were killed, except for Harry, who somehow survived.

Hagrid, in particular, is furious to learn this.

“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 Lilly 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 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.

First, that is heartbreaking. We all know how tenderhearted Hagrid is and this must really be a blow to him. Second, it is really hard to type the way Hagrid speaks. Just throwing that out there.

So that’s where Hagrid’s flying motorcycle from Sorcerer’s Stone came from. It had belonged to Sirius Black. Black had originally tried to get Hagrid to give Harry to him, but when Hagrid told him Dumbledore’s plan, Black gave him the motorcycle so he could get there faster. But that’s not all. The Ministry tried to catch up with him, but it wasn’t the Ministry who finally confronted him. It was another one of the Potters’ friends – Peter Pettigrew. Known for being hopeless at magic while he was at Hogwarts and “hero-worshipped” James and Sirius, Pettigrew was completely destroyed in the incident. The larges piece of him they found was a finger. Eww.

So here’s the thing that’s weird. Black has been in Azkaban surrounded by dementors for many, many years, and yet, he hasn’t seemed to have lost his mind. Fudge had seen him during his last inspection and Black seemed very . . . normal. Spoke rationally. Asked if he could have the Minister’s newspaper so he could do the crossword puzzle. This is not typical behavior for someone in Azkaban. At all. The dementors, with all their hope-sucking power, haven’t had an effect on him. And they STILL don’t know how he broke out.

Soon after this, they leave. And Ron and Hermione now have to deal with their shell-shocked friend under the table.

See you next time for Chapter 11!


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!


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 8 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 8, we see how classes are going, watch everyone besides Harry get to go to Hogsmeade, see a weird interaction between Lupin and Snape, and get a bit of a shock at the end. Let’s go!

I love that everyone loves Lupin’s class. It is always the absolute best when you have a teacher who genuinely loves teaching and loves their subject. I had a math teacher like that in middle school. He taught math, which most kids don’t typically enjoy, but he made class so much fun, he was nearly everyone’s favorite teacher. Shout out to Mr. Hayes, wherever you are!

Not all classes at Hogwarts are going smoothly, however. Turns out Snape heard about Neville’s boggart and is none too happy to have been shoved into old granny clothes. So he’s being nastier than normal, the git. Another class that’s not going well? Divination. Trelawney just can’t help but get all weepy at the thought of poor Harry and his death omen. Also not going well? Care of Magical Creatures. Hagrid is so worried about getting in trouble that he is only giving the students lessons about flobberworms, the “most boring creatures in existence.”

But hey, at least we have Quidditch to look forward to! Oliver Wood is determined that this will be Gryffindor’s year! They will win!

But Harry has other things to worry about. The first trip to Hogsmeade is scheduled for Halloween and he still doesn’t have a signed permission slip. After an unsuccessful attempt by Crookshanks to catch Scabbers, which leads to quite the spat between Ron and Hermione (“There’s something funny about that animal!” “All cats chase rats, Ron!”). This fight is furthered by Hermione’s attempts to use logic when Lavender Brown explains how one of Trelawney’s predictions (something she was dreading would happen on October 16th) came true (her pet rabbit died). The rabbit was just a baby, so logically Lavender couldn’t have been dreading its death, since it was such a horrible surprise.

This does not go over well. With anyone.

As the students leave for Hogsmeade, Harry tries to get McGonagall to let him go, but she doesn’t give in. No surprise there. Even before there was an escaped murderer on the loose with a vendetta against Harry, McGonagall is not the type to just bend the rules. Poor Harry has to miss out. Percy Weasley tries to make him feel better.

“They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” he said seriously. “All right, the sweetshop’s rather good, and Zonko’s Joke Shop’s frankly dangerous, and yes, the Shrieking Shack’s always worth a visit, but really, Harry, apart from that, you’re not missing anything.”

Um, thanks Percy. That helps a lot.

Harry wanders around the castle while his friends are gone and runs into Lupin, who invites him in to chat. He also shows Harry a peek at their next lesson, a water demon called a grindylow. Harry asks something that had been bothering him: why hadn’t Lupin let him fight the boggart. He expects Lupin to deny it, but not only does Lupin admit to doing it, he explains exactly why he did it.

“I assumed that if the boggart faced you, it would assume the shape of Lord Voldemort.”

. . .

“Clearly, I was wrong,” said Lupin, still frowning at Harry. “But I didn’t think it a good idea for Lord Voldemort to materialize in the staffroom. I imagined that people would panic.”

That’s a logical assumption on Lupin’s part. But Harry wasn’t thinking of Voldemort at all. He was thinking about those dementors. Lupin is actually impressed by this, which makes Harry feel a bit better. A knock at the door brings Snape in with a smoking goblet full of some sort of potion for Lupin. Lupin explains that he had been feeling “a bit off-color” and that this potion helps with that. Harry doesn’t like the way Snape looked at Lupin when he delivered this suspicious looking brew.

“Some people reckon -” Harry hesitated, then plunged recklessly on, “some people reckon he’d do anything to get the Defense Against the Dark Arts job.”

I don’t really think that Snape would try to murder another professor just to get the teaching position he’s always wanted. That seems a bit extreme, doesn’t it? After Ron and Hermione return from Hogsmeade (which was amazing), Hermione agrees. If Snape was going to poison Lupin, he wouldn’t have done it in front of a student. As they head back to their common room after the Halloween feast, there is a hold up in the hallway. The Fat Lady has vanished from her painting leading to the Gryffindor common room. Not only that, but her painting has been slashed to pieces.

Dumbledore arrives, followed by McGonagall, Lupin and Snape. Peeves the Poltergeist is laughing above them. He knows exactly what happened after seeing the Fat Lady running away through another painting.

“Did she say who did it?” said Dumbledore quietly.

“Oh yes, Professorhead,” said Peeves, with the air of one cradling a large bombshell in his arms. “He got very angry when she wouldn’t let him in, you see.” Peeves flipped over and grinned at Dumbledore from between his own legs. “Nasty temper he’s got, that Sirius Black.”

Dun dun DUUNNNNNN!!!!

See you next time for Chapter 9!

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 7 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 7, we attend Potions class (where Malfoy is an ass) and Lupin’s first Defense Against the Dark Arts class (where Neville is a hero). Let’s go!

The combination of Malfoy and Snape make for a disasterous time for Harry and Ron. Both are just so nasty! Malfoy, with his arm all bandaged up, is milking sympathy for all he’s worth. Let’s face it – if Madam Pomfrey could regrow all of the bones in Harry’s arm in one night, she would have been able to fix Malfoy’s little cut in seconds. He is playing them all and everyone knows it, starting with asking Snape to make Ron and Harry prepare his potions ingredients for him.

The real one suffering in class is, of course, Neville. He just doesn’t have a knack for potions. When his potion turns orange instead of green, Snape threatens to feed the completed potion to Neville’s toad to test it. That is so . . . awful-terrible-evil-mean! I get a lot of flack because I am a bit of a Snape fangirl (mostly because I am an Alan Rickman fangirl, but anyway), but it’s not because I think Snape is a good person. Did he ultimately do the right thing in the end? Sort of. But he’s an absolutely terrible human being.

Malfoy also makes comments about Sirius Black, indicating that he knows something about Black that Harry doesn’t. Ron brushes it off, saying that Malfoy is only saying that to try and make Harry do something reckless.

Finally, at the end of the lesson, it’s time to see Trevor the Toad’s fate. Hermione had been whispering instructions to Neville to try and help him fix it, and it at least looks closer to correct now.

“Everyone gather ’round,” said Snape, his black eyes glittering, “and watch what happens to Longbottom’s toad. If he has managed to produce a Shrinking Solution, it will shrink to a tadpole. If, as I don’t doubt, he has done it wrong, his toad is likely to be poisoned.”

It works! Trevor shrinks to a tadpole and the Gryffindors cheer. Snape is none to happy; he has to give Neville some credit now, doesn’t he?

“Five points from Gryffindor,” said Snape, which wiped the smiles from every face. “I told you not to help him, Miss Granger. Class dismissed.”

Snape, you are an absolute bastard.

Speaking of Hermione though, something weird happens. As they are leaving Potions class, Ron and Harry turn around and . . . she’s gone. Disappeared. They wait on the steps for a moment and then she appears, running up the stairs in a hurry. She’s also carrying tons of books around, even though they only have one more class left that day. Hmm.

Lupin’s class! Who doesn’t absolutely love Lupin! He’s awesome! And they are having a practical lesson today, not just reading from books. Lupin takes them into the staffroom (after a funny interaction with Peeves the Poltergeist – why wasn’t he in the movies!!) where there is a wardrobe containing a boggart. What is a boggart, you might ask? Let’s let Hermione tell us:

“It’s a shape-shifter,” she said. “It can take the shape of whatever it thinks will frighten us most.”

The best way to literally face your fears? Laughter. After Snape, who was in the staffroom when they arrived, makes snarky comment about Neville’s lack of magical aptitude, Lupin picks Neville to be his assistant. Step one: what does Neville fear the most? The answer is obvious. It’s Snape. Here’s the trick with a boggart. You need to imagine how to make the thing you are afraid of into something amusing. Lupin suggests to Neville that when the boggart appears looking like Snape, Neville should think really hard about the clothing that his grandmother wears.

And it works!

There was a noise like a whip crack. Snape stumbled; he was wearing a long, lace-trimmed dress and a towering hat topped with a moth-eaten vulture, and he was swinging a huge crimson handbag.

I have to say, this was done to PERFECTION in the movie. Seeing Alan Rickman in that get up – absolutely hilarious.

One by one, the students have a go at the boggart, causing it to turn into many different shapes, but each time transformed into something comical. Just as it’s Harry’s turn, Lupin hurries forward and has Neville finish it off. Yay Neville!

We also get to see that Lupin’s fear has something to do with a “silvery-white orb.” What could that possibly mean? *wink*wink*

It’s a great class, but Harry wonders why Lupin didn’t let him try to take on the boggart and worries that maybe, after the incident on the train, Lupin thinks he wouldn’t be able to handle it. Hermione approves of Lupin’s teaching.

“He seems like a very good teacher,” said Hermione approvingly. “But I wish I could have had a turn with the boggart -”

“What would it have been for you?” said Ron, sniggering. “A piece of homework that only got nine out of ten?”

Oh Ron.

See you next time for Chapter 8!


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 6 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPPoA BannerIn Chapter 6, we attend our first Divination class, find out what that big black dog might be, and see how Hagrid does as a teacher (spoiler alert: not great). Let’s go!

The Slytherins are such little punks. They’re still teasing Harry at breakfast about how he reacted to the dementors. Like they weren’t scared at all. Jerks. Also mentioned at breakfast: Hermione’s crazy class schedule. She literally has three classes scheduled for 9:00 AM that day. Ron can’t believe it, but Hermione brushes it off, saying she’s fixed everything with McGonagall and he shouldn’t worry about it.

Speaking of classes, it’s off to their first class, a new one this year: Divination. Of course, they have to find it first. They can’t find the North Tower, but they are aided in their “quest” to find it by a very amusing portrait named Sir Cadogan.

“A quest!” The knight’s rage seemed to vanish instantly. He clanked to his feet and shouted, “Come follow me, dear friends, and we shall find our goal, or else shall perish bravely in the charge!”

Sir Cadogan is one of the funniest things in this book.

They finally reach the tower, climb a ladder, and enter the smoky, perfumy classroom of Professor Trelawney. She is described as looking like “a large, glittering insect” with multiple scarves, beads, and rings along with very large glasses. She makes several predictions, including that something might be wrong with Neville’s grandmother, Parvati should be afraid of a red-haired man, the class will deal with the flu in February, and “around Easter, one of our number will leave us forever.” Oh, and the thing that Lavender Brown is dreading will happen on October 16th.

She’s a bright ray of sunshine, Trelawney is.

Their first assignment is to try and read tea leaves, which goes absolutely great, as you can imagine. Harry and Ron are not destined to be great seers, I’m afraid. But at least they are trying?

“Right, you’ve got a crooked sort of cross . . .” He consulted Unfogging the Future. “That means you’re going to have ‘trials and suffering’ – sorry about that – but there’s a thing that could be the sun . . . hang on . . . that means ‘great happiness’ . . . so you’re going to suffer but be very happy . . .”

Actually, I don’t think they’re trying all that hard.

Professor Trelawney is a bit miffed about the fact that they are not taking her class seriously and begins to read Harry’s tea leaves. She sees . . . an attack . . . an enemy . . . danger . . . and . . . THE GRIM!!!

The Grim is an omen of death that takes the appearance of a giant dog. Maybe sort of similar to the one Harry saw the night he took the Knight Bus? Everyone in the class is astonished and scared, except for Hermione, who doesn’t seem to believe it for a second.

Next class is with McGonagall (my personal favorite teacher) who demonstrates her abilities as an Animagus (wizards who can transform into animals). She turns into a tabby cat, but no one is particularly impressed. Hermione explains that they had just come from their first Divination lesson.

“Ah, of course,” said Professor McGonagall, suddenly frowning. “There is no need to say any more, Miss Granger. Tell me, which of you will be dying this year?”

Yeah, this is apparently something that Professor Trelawney does on the regular, predicting the death of a student at the beginning of term.

“Divination is one of the most imprecise branches of magic. I shall not conceal from you that I have very little patience with it. True Seers are very rare, and Professor Trelawney -”

She stopped again, and then said, in a very matter-of-fact tone, “You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don’t let you off homework today. I assure you that if you die, you need not hand it in.”

Love her so much!

Ron is still concerned about the Grim though, especially when Harry tells him that he has actually seen a big dog. Hermione still doesn’t believe it, and says that she doesn’t think that Divination is all that great. In fact, it was no where near as good as Arithmancy class! As she flounces off, Ron is confused. She hasn’t been to an Arithmancy class yet – Divination was their first one.

Next up is their first Care of Magical Creatures lesson with brand new Professor Hagrid! The one who assigned a book that attacks you. That no one could open. All you need to do is stroke the spine and it lays flat, but honestly, how are you supposed to figure that out? And how many fingers are you willing to lose in the process? Malfoy, of course, is being a jerk because that’s the only way he knows how to behave. Harry is concerned because he really wants Hagrid’s first class to be a success. Their first assignment?


Once you got over the first shock of seeing something that was half horse, half bird, you started to appreciate the hippogriffs’ gleaming coats, changing smoothly from feather to hair, each of them a different color: stormy gray, bronze, pinkish roan, gleaming chestnut, and inky black.

They are really amazing creatures. Hagrid is right on this one. They are also very proud creatures. In order to interact with them, you have to bow. Show them respect. Hagrid asks for a volunteer and, when no one else jumps in, Harry agrees. He bows to a hippogriff named Buckbeak, who not only bows back, but lets Harry pet him and even ride him around the paddock.

As the class breaks off to work in groups with the beasts, Malfoy decides to act up again. Because of course he does. He calls Buckbeak a “great ugly brute,” which Buckbeak takes offense to and claws up Malfoy’s arm with his big talons. Malfoy is taken to the hospital wing where, let’s face it, Madam Pomfrey will make easy work of a simple cut, even if it is from a hippogriff. The Slytherins in the class all cry out for Hagrid to be sacked, even though this was Malfoy’s fault for not following instructions.

Later that evening, Harry, Ron and Hermione all go down to Hagrid’s hut to see how he’s doing. Drunk. That’s how he’s doing. He laments that he only lasted a day, sure that Malfoy will cause enough trouble to get him sacked. The three kids all assure him that they will be his witnesses that Malfoy was at fault, which makes Hagrid very happy, until he realizes that Harry came out after dark. It’s dangerous, after all, and they shouldn’t take a risk like that.

See you next time for Chapter 7!


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 5 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 5, we’re headed back on the Hogwarts Express, meet the infamous and terrifying Azkaban guards, and also meet one of the most beloved characters in the series. Let’s go!

I love trains. I wish we traveled more by train here in the U.S. There’s just something romantic and adventurous about a train ride . . . especially if you are travelling to a magical castle full of witches and wizards. Okay, maybe we don’t have that either. I’ve just always loved the Hogwarts Express, the idea of hopping onto the train to go off to your future.

I know, it’s probably silly. Oh well.

One important thing does happen on Platform 9 3/4 though. Mr. Weasley takes Harry aside in order to tell him about Black, but Harry let’s him know that he had over heard Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, so it’s okay. Harry knows the truth, and Mr. Weasley hasn’t broken his promise not to tell. But then there’s this:

“Harry, swear to me that you won’t go looking for Black.”

Harry stared. “What?”

There was a loud whistle. Guards were walking along the train, slamming all the doors shut.

“Promise me, Harry,” said Mr. Weasley, talking more quickly still, “that whatever happens -”

“Why would I go looking for someone I know wants to kill me?” said Harry blankly.

A fair point. This is the first time we really see that there might be more to Sirius Black than meets the eye. If he was just one more escaped follower of Voldemort, it wouldn’t be as much of an issue. Harry has handled those before, although he has gone after them before as well. In this case, Harry is presented with proof that a supposed Voldemort follower is out to get him, has murdered before, and has no qualms of doing it again. Why would Harry seek this out? What else could there be about Black that would make him do so?

Of course, we know NOW. But we sure didn’t know then, did we.

They find a compartment on the train, the only one with room, that only has one occupant: the new professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts, R.J. Lupin. He is sound asleep (they learn his name from the stamp on his suitcase). Harry informs Ron and Hermione about what he has learned about Black, which of course freaks them right out. They are also sad to hear that Harry doesn’t think he’ll be able to come to Hogsmede either.

It is a bit weird that Professor Lupin just . . . stays asleep. He sleeps through the conversations between Harry, Ron and Hermione; he sleeps through the trolley cart lady coming through; and he sleeps through Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle showing up. He must be really, really tired (for reasons we’ll find out later, of course).

Suddenly, something weird happens. I mean, weird for wizards anyway. The train slows down and comes to a stop. All the lights go out. Neville and Ginny stumble in trying to find out what’s going on. Lupin wakes up. And then . . .

Standing in the doorway, illuminated by the shivering flames in Lupin’s hand, was a cloaked figure that towered to the ceiling. Its face was completely hidden beneath its hood. Harry’s eyes darted downward, and what he saw made his stomach contract. There was a hand protruding from the cloak and it was glistening, grayish, slimy-looking, and scabbed, like something dead that had decayed in water . . .

I would die. I would absolutely die. These things sound terrifying and I don’t want any part of them. Harry doesn’t either. He becomes completely cold and hears screaming coming from far away before he faints into a white fog.

When he comes to, the lights are back on and the train is on its way again. Lupin gives Harry some chocolate and explains that the dead, scary thing was actually a dementor, one of the guards of Azkaban. And while everyone else was scared and shaking (Ron describes it as feeling “like I’d never be cheerful again”), Harry was the only one to actually fall out of his seat and pass out.

Which he hears about, once they arrive at the carriages. Malfoy (of course) teases Harry about it, and Professor McGonagall pulls Harry aside to make sure he’s okay. She also pulls Hermione out of the line and takes both of them to her office. Madam Pomfrey (yay!) is also there, ready to also administer chocolate (I love how this is the best way to cure the effects of a dementor – I know chocolate makes me feel better about most things).

Once they deduce that Harry is fine, McGonagall keeps Hermione back for a moment to discuss her schedule. This also becomes very important later.

Meanwhile, Dumbledore speaks to the school after the sorting, before the feast, to explain to everyone who the dementors are and what they are doing there.

“They are stationed at every entrance to the grounds,” Dumbledore continued, “and while they are with us, I must make it plain that nobody is to leave school without permission. Dementors are not to be fooled by tricks or disguises – or even Invisibility Cloaks,” he added blandly, and Harry and Ron glanced at each other. “It is not in the nature of a dementor to understand pleading or excuses. I therefore warn each and every one of you to give them no reason to harm you . . .”

Yeah, keeping these things around a school full of mischievous children sounds like a great idea.

After this warning, Dumbledore introduces Lupin as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Ron notices that Snape, who is known to have wanted that position, is staring at Lupin with a look of complete loathing. More than maybe there should be towards another colleague, perhaps.

The other new teacher this year? Hagrid! Hagrid will be teaching the Care of Magical Creatures class this year. As Ron said, “Who else would have assigned us a biting book?” Hagrid is so excited, he can’t believe it. I’m not sure I would have given him the job, to be honest, especially since he never actually graduated, but we all know how much he loves animals and creatures, so I guess that counts for something.

They finally go to bed, after a very exciting and terrifying day, ready to start their new year at Hogwarts.

See you next time for Chapter 6!