Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Read online
Chapter 10 The Marauders Map
Madam Pomfrey insisted on keeping Harry in the hospital wing for the rest of the weekend. He didn't argue or complain, but he wouldn't let her throw away the shattered remnants of his Nimbus Two Thousand. He knew he was being stupid, knew that the Nimbus was beyond repair, but Harry couldn't help it; he felt as though he'd lost one of his best friends.
He had a stream of visitors, all intent on cheering him up. Hagrid sent him a bunch of earwiggy flowers that looked like yellow cabbages, and Ginny Weasley, blushing furiously, turned up with a get-well card she had made herself, which sang shrilly unless Harry kept it shut under his bowl of fruit. The Gryffindor team visited again on Sunday morning, this time accompanied by Wood, who told Harry (in a hollow, dead sort of voice) that he didn't blame him in the slightest. Ron and Hermione left Harry's bedside only at night. But nothing anyone said or did could make Harry feel any better, because they knew only half of what was troubling him.
He hadn't told anyone about the Grim, not even Ron and Hermione, because he knew Ron would panic and Hermione would scoff. The fact remained, however, that it had now appeared twice, and both appearances had been followed by near-fatal accidents; the first time, he had nearly been run over by the Knight Bus; the second, fallen fifty feet from his broomstick. Was the Grim going to haunt him until he actually died? Was he going to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder for the beast?
And then there were the Dementors. Harry felt sick and humiliated every time he thought of them. Everyone said the Dementors were horrible, but no one else collapsed every time they went near one. No one else heard echoes in their head of their dying parents.
Because Harry knew who that screaming voice belonged to now. He had heard her words, heard them over and over again during the night hours in the hospital wing while he lay awake, staring at the strips of moonlight on the ceiling. When the Dementors approached him, he heard the last moments of his mother's life, her attempts to protect him, Harry, from Lord Voldemort, and Voldemort's laughter before he murdered her. . . Harry dozed fitfully, sinking into dreams full of clammy, rotted hands and petrified pleading, jerking awake to dwell again on his mother's voice.
It was a relief to return to the noise and bustle of the main school on Monday, where he was forced to think about other things, even if he had to endure Draco Malfoy's taunting. Malfoy was almost beside himself with glee at Gryffindor's defeat. He had finally taken off his bandages, and celebrated having the full use of both arms again by doing spirited imitations of Harry falling off his broom. Malfoy spent much of their next Potions class doing Dementor imitations across the dungeon; Ron finally cracked and flung a large, slippery crocodile heart at Malfoy, which hit him in the face and caused Snape to take fifty points from Gryffindor.
"If Snape's teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts again, I'm skiving off," said Ron as they headed toward Lupin's classroom after lunch. "Check who's in there, Hermione. "
Hermione peered around the classroom door.
Professor Lupin was back at work. It certainly looked as though he had been ill. His old robes were hanging more loosely on him and there were dark shadows beneath his eyes; nevertheless, he smiled at the class as they took their seats, and they burst at once into an explosion of complaints about Snape's behavior while Lupin had been ill.
"It's not fair, he was only filling in, why should he give us homework?"
"We don't know anything about werewolves --"
"-- two rolls of parchment!"
"Did you tell Professor Snape we haven't covered them yet?" Lupin asked, frowning slightly.
The babble broke out again.
"Yes, but he said we were really behind --"
"-- he wouldn't listen --"
"-- two rolls of parchment!"
Professor Lupin smiled at the look of indignation on every face.
"Don't worry. I'll speak to Professor Snape. You don't have to do the essay. "
"Oh no," said Hermione, looking very disappointed. "I've already finished it!"
They had a very enjoyable lesson. Professor Lupin had brought along a glass box containing a Hinkypunk, a little one-legged creature who looked as though he were made of wisps of smoke, rather frail and harmless looking.
"Lures travelers into bogs," said Professor Lupin as they took notes. "You notice the lantern dangling from his hand? Hops ahead -- people follow the light -- then --"
The Hinkypunk made a horrible squelching noise against the glass.
When the bell rang, everyone gathered up their things and headed for the door, Harry among them, but --
"Wait a moment, Harry," Lupin called. "I'd like a word. "
Harry doubled back and watched Professor Lupin covering the Hinkypunk's box with a cloth.
"I heard about the match," said Lupin, turning back to his desk and starting to pile books into his briefcase, "and I'm sorry about your broomstick. Is there any chance of fixing it?"
"No," said Harry. "The tree smashed it to bits. "
"They planted the Whomping Willow the same year that I arrived at Hogwarts. People used to play a game, trying to get near enough to touch the trunk. In the end, a boy called Davey Gudgeon nearly lost an eye, and we were forbidden to go near it. No broomstick would have a chance. "
"Did you hear about the Dementors too?" said Harry with difficulty.
Lupin looked at him quickly.
"Yes, I did. I don't think any of us have seen Professor Dumbledore that angry. They have been growing restless for some time. . . furious at his refusal to let them inside the grounds. . . I suppose they were the reason you fell?"
"Yes," said Harry. He hesitated, and then the question he had to ask burst from him before he could stop himself. "Why? Why do they affect me like that? Am I just --?"
"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. "
A ray of wintry sunlight fell across the classroom, illuminating Lupin's gray hairs and the lines on his young face.
"Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can't see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself -- soul-less and evil. You'll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life. And the worst that happened to you, Harry, is enough to make anyone fall off their broom. You have nothing to feel ashamed of. "
"When they get near me --" Harry stared at Lupin's desk, his throat tight. "I can hear Voldemort murdering my mum. "
Lupin made a sudden motion with his arm as though to grip Harry's shoulder, but thought better of it. There was a moment's silence, then --
"Why did they have to come to the match?" said Harry bitterly.
"They're getting hungry," said Lupin coolly, shutting his briefcase with a snap. "Dumbledore won't let them into the school, so their supply of human prey has dried up. . . I don't think they could resist the large crowd around the Quidditch field. All that excitement. . . emotions running high. . . it was their idea of a feast. "
"Azkaban must be terrible," Harry muttered. Lupin nodded grimly.
"The fortress is set on a tiny island, way out to sea, but they don't need walls and water to keep the prisoners in, not when they're all trapped inside their own heads, incapable of a single cheery thought. Most of them go mad within weeks. "
"But Sirius Black escaped from them," Harry said slowly. "He got away. . . "
Lupin's briefcase slipped from the desk; he had to stoop quickly to catch it.