- "Out of the five books I've published [so far], writing Azkaban was the easiest, and in some ways I think that shows.."
- —J. K. Rowling
To Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely, the Godmothers of Swing
Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely were JK Rowling's flatmates when she lived in Portugal. They used to visit a club/restaurant called "Swing" regularly. Because they spent so much time there, Jo called themselves its godmothers.
Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?
Chapter 1: Owl Post
- "Harry scanned the moving photograph, and a grin spread across his face as he saw all nine of the Weasleys waving furiously at him...Right in the middle of the picture was Ron, tall and gangling, with his pet rat, Scabbers, on his shoulder..."
- —Harry seeing the photography of the Weasleys in Egypt.
Harry Potter spends another horrible summer with the Dursleys in mid-1993. On 31 July (his thirteenth birthday), after midnight, he receives gifts and letters from Rubeus Hagrid, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, each wishing him a happy birthday and sending him a gift. According to Ron, his dad, Arthur Weasley, won a Daily Prophet Prize Draw for seven hundred galleons. Mr. Weasley then took the family to Egypt to visit his eldest son, Bill Weasley using the prize money, with the remainder being used to provide Ron with a new wand to replace the one that was broken last year. Harry also learns that Percy Weasley is entering his seventh year at Hogwarts and has been named Head Boy. According to Hermione, she and her parents are currently spending the holiday in France. Also both Ron and Hermione mention in their letters they will be in London on the last week before term to pick up their school supplies and want Harry to join them. Hagrid hints in his letter the book he sent Harry will come in handy next term but he wants the reason for it to be a surprise until the term starts. Another letter from Professor McGonagall arrives, saying that third years are allowed to visit the village of Hogsmeade and that their guardian needs to sign the permission form in order for them to do so.
Chapter 2: Aunt Marge's Big Mistake
- "Bad blood will out. Now, I'm saying nothing against your family, Petunia, but your sister was a bad egg. They turn up in the best families. Then she ran off with a wastrel and here's the result right in front of us."
- —Marjorie Dursley, about Lily Potter.
Vernon Dursley's sister, Marjorie "Marge" Dursley, comes to visit her brother's home for a week. Harry agrees to behave normally during her visit, if his uncle will sign his permission form and has to send Hedwig to the Weasleys for the week due to Marge not knowing that Harry is a wizard. On the final night, when she calls his father, James Potter, a lazy good for nothing drunk, Harry loses his temper and accidentally inflates her. She explodes and Harry decides to take his school things and run away, fearing he will almost certainly be expelled from Hogwarts, after using magic outside school.
Chapter 3: The Knight Bus
He reaches Magnolia Crescent and sees a black dog staring at him. In his shock, Harry falls and the Knight Bus, a triple-decker bus designed for wizard transportation, arrives. The dog vanishes and is nowhere in sight. Harry meets the Knight Bus's conductor, Stan Shunpike and the driver, Ernie Prang. Harry departs with the Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron in London. He learns from the Daily Prophet, Sirius Black, a convict and a follower of Lord Voldemort, broke out of Azkaban, the first person to ever do so. He was imprisoned for murdering thirteen people with a single curse in 1981, right after the Potters' murder. At the Leaky Cauldron, he meets the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, in person, though Harry has to pretend that he doesn't know him since Harry and Ron were technically breaking school rules during their previous school year when they saw him in Hagrid's Hut. After explaining that Marge has been restored to normal and her memory modified, to Harry's surprise, Fudge doesn't take any action against him stating that accidental uses of magic don't count as violations of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. Fudge books a room for Harry, where he will stay for the rest of the summer, but refuses to sign Harry's Hogsmeade permission slip.
Chapter 4: The Leaky Cauldron
- "Are you planning to eat or sleep at all this year, Hermione?"
- —Harry referring to Hermione's number of classes.
Harry spends the rest of the holidays in Diagon Alley, purchasing his school things and making sure not to make any unnecessary purchases. On the last day of the holidays, Harry meets up with Ron, Hermione and the rest of the Weasleys who are also staying at the Leaky Cauldron. When Hermione decides to spend her birthday money on a magical pet, to Ron's displeasure, Hermione purchases a cat named Crookshanks, who harasses Ron's pet rat Scabbers. At some point during the night, Harry overhears a conversation between Ron's parents, Arthur and Molly Weasley. From what he hears, he learns that when Voldemort met his downfall, Black lost everything, and is now trying to kill Harry. Harry realises that Fudge let him off because he was relieved to find Harry alive. He is unconcerned about Black, doubting that he could harm him at Hogwarts, with headmaster Albus Dumbledore around.
Chapter 5: The Dementor
- "I felt weird, like I'd never be cheerful again..."
- —Ron, about the Dementor.
The next day, shortly before he boards the Hogwarts Express, Arthur tried to warn him about Black and makes him promise not to go looking for Black no matter what he hears. Harry tells him that he already knows because he heard Mr. and Mrs Weasley talking about it earlier. Harry is also confused and asks why he would go looking for somebody who wanted to kill him. On the train, Harry, Ron, and Hermione share a compartment with Professor Remus Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. After several hours, the train stops and a sinister, cloaked figure enters. It sucks the happiness out of Harry, who faints. The creature then approaches Harry, possibly to kiss him, until Lupin drives it off with a spell.
After Harry recovers, Lupin hands him and the others some chocolate and explains that the creature was a Dementor, one of the Azkaban Guards, and that they were searching the train for Sirius Black. At Hogwarts, Draco Malfoy taunts Harry over his reaction to the Dementor. After getting inside, Professor McGonagall calls Harry and Hermione to her and takes them to her office. Once there, McGonagall reveals that Lupin had informed her by Owl Post of Harry's adverse reaction to the Dementor and wants him looked at by Madame Pomfry to see if he's ill. The matron confirms that he's fine. After McGonagall's business with Hermione is concluded, they return to the Great Hall to find that they missed the sorting ceromony. Dumbledore announces the two changes in staffing during the year: Lupin, and Hagrid, who has been made the Care of Magical Creatures teacher due to the retirement of Professor Kettleburn. Dumbledore also announces that Dementors are to be stationed around the school as a precaution against Black.
Chapter 6: Talons and Tea Leaves
- "Then you should know, Potter, that Sybill Trelawney has predicted the death of one student a year since she arrived at this school. None of them has died yet. Seeing death omens is her favourite way of greeting a new class."
- —Professor McGonagall, about Trelawney's predictions.
Lessons start the next day. Harry, Ron and Hermione head to the North Tower for their first Divination lesson. They meet Sybill Trelawney and predict future events using tea leaves. Harry sees a black dog in his tea cup, which Trelawney identifies as the Grim, the omen of death. This worries Harry, as he remembers the black dog he saw when he ran away. In their next lesson, Transfiguration, Professor Minerva McGonagall assures Harry that Trelawney has predicted the deaths of a number of students, none of whom have died. In their Care of Magical Creatures lesson, Hagrid teaches them about hippogriffs (horse/eagle creatures).
Although initially nervous, Harry successfully approaches and rides a grey hippogriff named Buckbeak. Later in the lesson, Malfoy, who had not been listening to Hagrid's lecture, insults Buckbeak, causing it to slash his arm with its talons. He is taken to the hospital wing, and Hagrid fears that he will take the blame for letting Buckbeak attack Malfoy, even though Malfoy provoked it in the first place. Harry and his friends offer to help him clear Buckbeak. This makes Hagrid sober up and finally notice that Harry's there. He angrily tells Harry off for leaving the castle after dark and escorts the trio back to Griffindor Tower personally.
Chapter 7: The Boggart in the Wardrobe
- "What would it have been for you? A piece of homework that only got nine out of ten?"
- —Ron, to Hermione about her Boggart.
Later in the week, in Potions, Malfoy returns with a heavily bandaged arm. Although it is implied that he is exaggerating the seriousness of the injury, there is no way to prove it. Harry learns that Black has been sighted near Hogwarts. During the lesson, Malfoy hints that Black may be connected to Harry's past. In Defence against the Dark Arts, Lupin teaches the third years about Boggarts, shape-shifters that take the shape of a person's worst fear. The class then take on the Boggart, forcing it to assume a shape they find amusing. When it comes to Harry's turn he is sure the Boggart will turn into a Dementor but Lupin jumps in and repels the Boggart for him. Faced by Lupin, the Boggart takes the shape of a bright glowing orb. Harry is disappointed that Lupin does not let him fight the Boggart, thinking that Lupin feels he is not up to the task.
Chapter 8: Flight of the Fat Lady
- "Oh yes, Professorhead, he got very angry when she wouldn't let him, you see. Nasty temper he's got, that Sirius Black."
- —Peeves to Professor Dumbledore regarding the Fat Lady.
In October, the Gryffindor Quidditch team practises hard for the upcoming Quidditch season, especially since this is their team captain Oliver Wood's final year at Hogwarts. Oliver believes that despite the misfortune which occurred during the previous two years their team should be able to win the Quidditch Cup before he graduates. Third years are also visiting Hogsmeade on Hallowe'en, and only Harry is not allowed, because his uncle did not sign his permission form. Harry spends the day in Lupin's office, drinking tea with him. Lupin tells him that he did not let Harry face the Boggart because he did not want the Boggart to become Lord Voldemort. Shortly afterwards, Snape appears with a mysterious potion for Lupin. Lupin claims to simply have an illness that is aided by the potion.
A few hours later, Ron and Hermione return. They reach the portrait of the Fat Lady and see it slashed and that the Fat Lady is gone. Peeves reveals that he saw her fleeing through another portrait after Sirius Black attacked her for not letting him into Gryffindor Tower. Dumbledore, Argus Filch, and Percy seek her out.
Chapter 9: Grim Defeat
- "Well, you know the Whomping Willow. It - it doesn't like being hit."
- —Ron regarding Harry's Nimbus 2000.
Every student is moved in the Great Hall to sleep while teachers search the castle. They fail to find any sign of Black, and Snape suggests that someone inside the castle helped Black gain entry. Dumbledore refutes this argument.
Nobody talks about anything but Sirius Black for the next few days. The Fat Lady refuses to return to work until Black is caught. Because of this, Dumbledore is forced to replace her with Sir Cadogon the Mad Knight. Nobody is happy about this because he changes the password twice a day and his password are ridiculously complicated but there's nothing they can do because none of the other pictures wanted the job because of what happened to the Fat Lady.
Meanwhile, because of the attack, an annoyed Harry gets place under surveillance: Teachers find excuses to go down the halls with him, Percy Weasley, acting on his mother's orders, follows him everywhere like a guard dog. Professor McGonagall decides to reveal the truth to Harry but Harry reveals he already knows Black's after him. McGonagall explains that's why she doesn't want him practising Qudditch in the evenings but Harry states he's got to train. Professor McGonagall agrees and decides to ask Madam Hooch to be present.
Gryffindor's first Quidditch match is coming up, but due to Malfoy's injury, Slytherin cannot play. Gryffindor plays Hufflepuff instead. On the day before the match, Lupin becomes ill and Snape teaches his classes for him. Oddly, he ignores Lupin's syllabus and instead gives a lesson on werewolves and assigns the class to write an essay on werewolves.
During the match, it is raining badly and Harry sees a large black dog resembling the Grim in the topmost empty row of seats in the Quidditch stadium. Dementors enter the match causing Harry to faint and fall from his broomstick. Harry realises that the screaming he had been hearing during his Dementor-induced fainting spells is his mother in her last moments.
Dumbledore saves Harry, but his Nimbus 2000 broomstick flies into the Whomping Willow and is destroyed. Hufflepuff win the match shortly afterwards. After the match, Harry wakes up in the hospital wing and learns what happened, including that Oliver Wood has declined Hufflepuff captain Cedric Diggory's offer for a rematch.
Chapter 10: The Marauder's Map
- "This little beauty's taught us more than all the teachers in this school... Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs... We owe them so much."
- —Fred and George Weasley, about the Marauder's Map.
Alarmed by the adverse effects the Dementors have on him, Madam Pomfrey insists that Harry stay in the hospital wing for the rest of the weekend. The following week, Lupin is back teaching class and states that the class doesn't have to write the essay Snape assigned for them, though Hermione has finished hers. After class, Harry goes to Lupin wondering why the Dementors affect him so much. Lupin explains that Dementors are fear itself and they pull forth the horrors from a person's past, which is why just before he faints, Harry hears his mother screaming before she dies and why the Dementors affect him worse than anyone else. Harry asks Lupin if he can give him private lessons on the spell to drive off Dementors in case another one arrives at a Quidditch match. Lupin says he will, but after the Christmas holidays, citing his frequent illness.
Hufflepuff is defeated by Ravenclaw in their next Quidditch match, which gives the Gryffindor team a chance in the running for the Quidditch Cup. Harry, who uses an old school broom in training sessions, is busy looking to obtain a new broomstick for himself so Gryffindor can stand a chance in their remaining matches.
During the last weekend before the holidays, while the eligible students visit Hogsmeade, Harry is yet again not able to go. To bring some Christmas cheer to Harry, Fred and George reveal they know secret passages in and out of Hogwarts. They give Harry the Marauder's Map as a Christmas present and instruct him on how to use it. It shows Hogwarts' secret passages, corridors, classrooms, offices, common rooms, etc., as well as every person's location within the castle and the grounds.
Harry uses the Marauder's Map to sneak into Hogsmeade. He then meets Ron and Hermione in Honeydukes, where they were discussing what kind of sweets to get Harry. They visit the Three Broomsticks, a pub run by Madam Rosmerta. When Cornelius Fudge, Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick, and Rubeus Hagrid arrive, Harry hides underneath their table to avoid being seen. The trio overhears a conversation between the group and Madam Rosmerta, in which they discuss how Sirius Black is a close childhood friend of Harry's father, James, and that he is Harry's godfather. The group goes on to talk about The Potters learned how Voldemort had marked them for death by Dumbledore, who had been tipped off by a spy. Dumbledore had advised them to go into hiding using the Fidelius Charm, a concealment charm so powerful it can only be broken if the Secret Keeper, the person the spell is bound to, reveals it to the person the witch or wizard doesn't want to be found by. James Potter insisted on using Sirius Black despite Dumbledore offering to be his family's Secret Keeper due to fearing that a friend of the Potters' had turned traitor and joined Voldemort as a spy because he trusted Black beyond all his other friends. One week later, Black sold out the Potters to Lord Voldemort, who met his downfall in Harry Potter. Ths forced Black to run for it. Peter Pettigrew, another of James's friends, confronted Black for the betrayal and he and twelve Muggles were killed by Black with a single curse. Black was taken to Azkaban afterwards. It's aso revealed that Black isn't affected by the Dementors at all. After they leave, Ron and Hermione stare at a devestated Harry.
Chapter 11: The Firebolt
- "Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr Weasley, Cornelius Fudge... why hadn't anyone ever mentioned the fact that Harry's parents had died because their best friend had betrayed them?"
- —Harry mulling over what he heard about Black.
Harry is depressed both about the truth about Sirius Black and that no one bothered to tell him before. Harry is also continuing to have nightmares about Dementors and his mother screaming. During the start of the holidays, Ron and Hermione try to console Harry but Harry chooses to go to Hagrid's house to ask him about Sirius Black despite Ron and Hermione's protests. When the trio arrives at his house, they find him distraught about Buckbeak's upcoming hearing before the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, and Harry decides it is better not to bring Sirius Black up.
Hagrid reveals that he had a horrible experience with the Dementors during his brief time in Azkaban. He can't set Buckbeak free without the risk of being sent back there. The trio then decides to help Hagrid prepare his defence for Buckbeak's case.
For Christmas, among his other presents, Harry receives the best model broomstick ever released: the Firebolt. Hermione is not happy when she learns that it came without a note, and is driven out of Harry and Ron's dormitory after Crookshanks attacks Scabbers again. During Christmas dinner, Hermione reports the mystery gift to McGonagall, who sends it away to have it tested for tampering. Both Hermione and McGonagall suspect Black might have sent the broomstick and that it could be jinxed.
Chapter 12: The Patronus
- "Oh no... Much worse than that. You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no ... anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just -- exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever ... lost. "
- —Remus Lupin, on the dementor's kiss.
Harry ceases speaking with Hermione, even though he knew she had good intentions with reporting the Firebolt. Ron is also no longer on speaking terms with Hermione because Crookshanks has been attacking Scabbers non-stop. Meanwhile, Harry starts his lessons with Lupin. Lupin tells Harry that the spell to drive off Dementors is called the Patronus Charm, instructs him in how to cast one, and lets him practise on a Boggart. Harry fails to produce a Patronus at first. This, however, is to be expected; the Patronus Charm is well beyond O.W.L. standard. During his first lesson, Harry learns that Lupin was a friend of his father James back during their days at Hogwarts, and also knew Sirius Black as well.
In January, Slytherin beats Ravenclaw in their Quidditch match. Gryiffindor's chances of getting the Quidditch Cup are good, as long as they don't lose in their own match against Ravenclaw.
By February, Harry becomes quite good at producing a Patronus after a few lessons, but doesn't master it entirely. At the end of a lesson, Lupin explains the concept of a Dementor's Kiss and reveals that it will be Black's punishment, as an article in the Daily Prophet confirmed that the Ministry gave the Dementors permission to use the Kiss on Black when they find him. While thinking about the horror of the punishment, Harry runs into McGonagall on his way back to Gryffindor Tower. McGonagall gives Harry back the Firebolt, which has been proven not to be jinxed, and suggests that he practise with it before the match. Harry meets up with Ron and they decide to go make up with Hermione, but Scabbers disappears after they arrive at Gryffindor Tower, ruining any chance for Ron and Hermione's reconciliation.
Chapter 13: Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw
- "She was shorter than Harry by about a head, and Harry couldn't help noticing, nervous as he was, that she was extremely pretty."
- —The beginning of Harry's interest in Cho Chang.
As March arrives, a new Quidditch match approaches: Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw. Harry spends the last practise session before the match getting used to his Firebolt. During the game, just as Harry is about to catch the Snitch, Cho Chang, a fourth year Seeker for the Ravenclaw team, screams. Harry looks around and sees three Dementors in the stands. He reacts instantly, sending a full-fledged Patronus at the Dementors. Harry catches the Snitch before Cho Chang, winning the match.
Lupin compliments Harry on his Patronus and shows Harry that the "Dementors" were really Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, and Marcus Flint, the Slytherin team captain, trying to sabotage Harry. A furious McGonagall takes fifty points away from Slytherin and sentences all four of them to detention as punishment. The Gryffindors celebrate until Professor Mcgonagall tells them to go to bed. But Ron still refuses to reconcil with Hermione
That night, Ron wakes up to Sirius Black slashing his bed curtains in the boys' dormitory. Everyone thinks it might be a nightmare but the curtains are indeed ripped and Sir Cadogan proves Ron right beyond any reasonable doubt when he happily admits he let Sirius Black into Gryffindor Tower. Black apparently had the whole week's passwords on a piece of paper. A furious Professor McGonagall demands to know who wrote down the passwords and lost them, to which Neville admits to being the perp.
Chapter 14: Snape's Grudge
- "Mr Prongs agrees with Mr Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git."
- —The Marauder's Map writing the insult to Snape.
Another search of the castle takes place, but Black evades capture again. Tighter security is put in place: Professor Flitwick is teaching the doors to reconize Sirius Black while Argus Filtch boards up everything Black can use to sneak in except the passageway into Hogmeade. Sir Cadogan is fired and the Fat Lady resumes her duty guarding Gryffindor Tower on the condition her portrait is to be guarded. Ron becomes an instant celebrity, which he enjoys. Neville, on the other hand, is in complete disgrace: Professor McGonagall is so furious with him that she strips him of his visitation rights to Hogsmeade for the rest of the school year, gives him a detention and forbids the other Gryffindors to tell him the password. His grandmother, Augusta Longbottom, sends him a Howler two days later.
Hagrid sends a letter to Harry, telling him that he and Ron are to meet him in the entrance hall so he can take them to his hut for tea. Other than learning that Buckbeak's trial is that week, Harry and Ron learn that Hagrid wants to talk to them on behalf of Hermione. Hagrid mentions their feud has been hurting Hermione more than they think, and that she is only concerned about protecting Harry from Sirius Black. Despite Hagrid's advice, Ron's anger reignites when Hermione threatens to tell McGonagall about the Marauder's Map, which Harry plans to use to sneak into Hogsmeade during the upcoming trip that Saturday.
While on the trip that weekend, Harry using his Invisibility Cloak to make a few stops with Ron before visiting the Shrieking Shack, a house that is supposedly filled with violent ghosts. Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle show up there and provoke Ron. Harry, using his cloak, attacks the trio and Malfoy catches a glimpse of Harry's head. Malfoy later reports the incident to Snape, who interrogates Harry after he returns from Hogsmeade. Snape finds the Marauder's Map, but is not able to discover what it does and is instead bombarded by insults from the map's makers. Lupin is summoned and feigns ignorance about the map, and Ron shows up to and claims the map is a Zonko product that insults anyone who touches it. Afterwards, Lupin brings Harry and Ron to the entrance hall, where he confiscates the map and reprimands Harry for not handing in something that could aid in Black's capture. He also scolds him for risking his life to sneak into Hogsmeade, thus undervaluing his parent's sacrifice.
On their way back to Gryffindor Tower, Harry and Ron find Hermione, who informs them that the Ministry has decided to execute Buckbeak despite the help she provided for Buckbeak's defence.
Chapter 15: The Quidditch Final
- Oliver Wood: "So you must catch it only if we're more than fifty points up... Only if we're more than fifty points up, Harry, or we win the match but lose the Cup. You've got that, Haven't you? You must catch the Snitch only if we're..."
- Harry Potter: "I KNOW, OLIVER!"
- — Wood constantly nagging Harry about the final Quidditch game.
Buckbeak's impending execution causes the friends to reconcile. Ron promises to help Hermione work on filing an appeal for Buckbeak's case, since Harry will be too busy with Quidditch practise sessions for the final match. After Malfoy mocks Hagrid during one of his classes, Hermione smacks him in the face. She then accidentally skips Charms. In Divination, Hermione finally explodes and drops the class.
In May, the Quidditch final takes place: Gryffindor vs. Slytherin. Gryffindor needs to be more than fifty points ahead before Harry can catch the Golden Snitch in order to win the Quidditch Cup. On the morning of the match, Harry catches another glimpse of the dog, this time with Crookshanks. In the match, Gryffindor take an early lead, and Slytherin resorts to cheating. This helps the Gryffindor team to gain penalty shots and get further ahead. Harry manages to catch the snitch at the right moment, allowing Gryffindor to come in first in the overall points and earn the Quidditch Cup.
Chapter 16: Professor Trelawney's Prediction
- "IT WILL HAPPEN TONIGHT."
- —The beginning of Professor Trelawney prediction.
The students take their end-of-year exams in June. Buckbeak's appeal is scheduled on the final day of the exams. After Harry's Divination final, Trelawney issues a genuine prediction that Voldemort's servant will return to him that night and Voldemort will once again rise to full power. Meanwhile, Buckbeak's appeal fails.
That night, after Hermione retrieves Harry's Invisibility Cloak from the one-eyed witch's hump (where he hid it after Malfoy spotted him in Hogsmeade), Harry, Ron, and Hermione use the cloak to go to Hagrid's cabin to console him before Buckbeak is executed. Hermione finds Scabbers in a milk jug and returns him to Ron. After the trio depart, Dumbledore, Fudge, a representative of the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, and the executioner, Walden Macnair, arrive. Buckbeak is then apparently executed.
- Sirius Black: "Going to kill me, Harry?"
- Harry Potter: "You killed my parents."
- Sirius Black: "I don't deny it... But if you knew the whole story."
- — In the Shrieking Shack.
Shortly afterwards, Scabbers escapes from Ron's grasp. Harry, Ron and Hermione run after him and spot the black dog and Crookshanks. After Ron catches Scabbers, the dog grabs Ron by the arm and pulls him in a passage under the Whomping Willow, breaking his leg in the process. Harry, Hermione, and Crookshanks follow after them. The passage leads them to the Shrieking Shack, where they find Ron, Scabbers, and Sirius Black. Black turns out to be an unregistered Animagus whose animal form is a black dog; he was the one who dragged Ron down into the Shrieking Shack.
Harry manages to overpower and subdue Black, who admits that he was responsible for the death of his parents. Lupin then arrives and is accused by Hermione of being Black's accomplice and a werewolf. Hermione deduced this following Snape's lesson on werewolves, since Lupin was always absent on nights of the full moon and Lupin's Boggart turned into the moon. Lupin admits that he is a werewolf, but denies the charge of helping Black. He explains that he found out where Harry, Ron and Hermione went through the Marauder's Map, since he had helped to create it and knew that the three of them would visit Hagrid that night due to Buckbeak's execution. He also adds that he saw a supposedly dead person on the map with the trio; Peter Pettigrew, who is also an Animagus and had been living for years as Scabbers.
- "But make it quick, Remus. I want to commit the murder I was imprisoned for..."
- —Sirius Black, about killing Pettigrew.
Harry, Ron and Hermione refuse to believe that Pettigrew is alive, pointing out that he was murdered by Black. Black denies this, and Lupin convinces him to tell Harry the truth of what happened. Lupin tells the story about his time at Hogwarts; he had been bitten as a child, and Dumbledore took precautions for his stay at Hogwarts, having the Shrieking Shack and the passage leading to it built to provide Lupin with a safe place to transform. The Whomping Willow was planted on the entrance to the tunnel to prevent anyone from running into the transformed Lupin. The rumours that the Hogsmeade residents started about the Shack being haunted by violent ghosts were allowed to spread to keep people from guessing that it was actually a werewolf making those sounds.
Eventually, Lupin's friends, Sirius, Pettigrew and James Potter, discovered Lupin's secret, and became Animagi to support him. Sirius became a dog to keep Lupin under control with James, and Pettigrew became a rat so he could disable the Willow by scurrying under its branches and touching a certain spot on its trunk. Lupin admits that he has not told Dumbledore about Sirius being an Animagus, as it would have meant admitting that he had betrayed his trust and led three students into becoming Animagi. He also reveals the reason for Snape's animosity towards him during the year: during their days at school, Sirius had played a near-fatal trick on Snape involving Lupin in his transformed form until James stopped him. Snape thought both of them were involved with Sirius' trick. Just then, Snape arrives using Harry's Invisibility Cloak, which he had left at the foot of the Whomping Willow.
Chapter 19: The Servant of Lord Voldemort
- "I must admit, Peter, I have difficulty in understanding why an innocent man would want to spend twelve years as a rat."
- —Lupin, about Peter Pettigrew.
Snape arrives and tries to arrest Lupin and Black, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione, curious to hear the rest of the story, stun Snape. Sirius reveals he broke out of Azkaban after seeing the Weasleys in Egypt in the Daily Prophet. He saw Scabbers and immediately recognised it was Pettigrew in his Animagus form (Pettigrew was missing a finger, Scabbers was missing a toe). He searched for Pettigrew to kill him and avenge the Potters; Crookshanks helped, since he could tell that Scabbers was no rat and Black was no dog. Sirius explains after he gained Crookshanks' trust, Crookshanks helped him get into Gryffindor Tower by stealing Neville's list of passwords.
According to Black, Pettigrew was the Potters' Secret-Keeper. Peter, not Black, revealed the location of the Potters' hiding place to Voldemort. He was a spy for Voldemort and is still loyal to him. After the Potters' murder, Sirius confronted Pettigrew, who killed the twelve Muggles and faked his own death by cutting his finger and turning into a rat and escaping, thus framing Black for the crimes. Sirius was innocent all along and means no harm to Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
Black and Lupin force Scabbers to turn into Pettigrew. During their interrogation, Sirius explains the obvious reason why Pettigrew remained as a rat: he was afraid that Voldemort's followers would try to kill him, thinking Pettigrew betrayed Voldemort. Black also knows that Pettigrew only stayed with the Weasleys to keep up on the news until he felt it was safe to find and rejoin his master.
Hermione asks how Sirius escaped. He reveals that the knowledge that he was innocent kept him sane: it was not a happy thought, so the Dementors could not drain it from him. He also often transformed into a dog, since Dementors cannot affect animal emotions. After learning where Pettigrew was and knowing Pettigrew would use the opportunity to capture Harry and regain favour with his allies, Black escaped while in his Animagus form.
Before Lupin and Sirius can kill Pettigrew, Harry stops them, saying that James would not want his two best friends to become killers. The group takes Pettigrew back to the grounds, where he will be handed to the Dementors.
Chapter 20: The Dementor's Kiss
- "Are you mad? Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?"
- —Harry to Sirius.
Sirius and Harry talk about the former's friendship with the Potters, including that Sirius is Harry's godfather. Sirius tells Harry that he can choose to live with him if he wishes. Harry quickly and happily agrees, knowing this would mean he would never have to the return to the Dursleys.
Unfortunately, the full moon rises, causing Lupin, who had not taken his Wolfsbane Potion, to turn into a werewolf. This allows Pettigrew to knock Ron out, turn into a rat, and escape. Harry and Hermione run after Lupin and Black (who has transformed into a dog). After seriously injuring Black, Lupin flees to the Forbidden Forest. A hundred Dementors arrive and suck the happiness from Harry, Hermione, and Black and attempt to perform a Kiss on them. Before they all faint, Harry sees a familiar figure across the lake conjure a powerful stag-shaped Patronus that drives all the Dementors away.
- "What we need... is more time... If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight. But remember this, both of you: you must not be seen."
- —Dumbledore, instructing Harry and Hermione.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron are taken to the hospital wing, and Black is taken to West Tower, where he is sentenced to a Dementor's Kiss. When Dumbledore arrives, Harry and Hermione try to tell him what actually happened, but Dumbledore tells them that he cannot save Black, as the evidence against him is too great. Snape had lied about what happened earlier to Cornelius Fudge, and the Minister will not take the words of under-age students seriously.
Dumbledore gives the group cryptic instructions and bids them good luck. Hermione then reveals she has a Time-Turner, a device that will take them back through time. McGonagall gave the device to her during the Sorting on their first day back; this explains why throughout the year, there had been occasions of Hermione taking multiple classes at the same time and apparently disappearing into thin air.
Harry and Hermione travel three hours into the past, watching themselves move through previous events. They realise that Dumbledore wanted them to travel three hours back to not only save Buckbeak from being wrongfully executed, but also to use Buckbeak to free Black from West Tower. After narrowly rescuing Buckbeak at the right moment before Macnair can execute him (so Dumbledore and Hagrid would not be accused of setting Buckbeak free), Harry and Hermione hide near the Whomping Willow in the Forbidden Forest to wait for the "other Harry and Hermione" and everyone else to return from the Shrieking Shack. During this time, Harry tells Hermione about the man he saw across the lake and how he thinks it was his father who conjured the Patronus.
After two hours, following Lupin's transformation, Harry decides they need to head back to Hagrid's empty cabin so Lupin doesn't attack them. After spending some time in hiding, Harry leaves the cabin to check out the present situation and sees himself, Hermione, and Black fainting from Dementors. He realises that the silver stag he saw earlier across the lake was not cast by his dad and conjures a powerful Patronus that drives all the Dementors away. When it returns to him, he pets it and realises that it was the same Patronus as "Prongs," his father.
After Hermione and Buckbeak catch up, they wait until they see Macnair leave the castle to retrieve the Dementors. He and Hermione then fly Buckbeak up to West Tower and rescue Black. Harry and Sirius say their goodbyes before Sirius flies away on Buckbeak.
Chapter 22: Owl Post Again
- Vernon Dursley: "You haven't got a godfather!"
- Harry Potter: "Yes, I have. He was my mum and dad's best friend. He's a convicted murderer, but he's broken out of wizard prison and he's on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though...keep up with my news...check if I'm happy..."
- — Harry telling Uncle Vernon about Sirius.
Harry and Hermione make it back to the hospital wing just in time for Dumbledore to magically lock the door. Shortly afterwards, Snape bursts in, followed by Fudge and Dumbledore, and accuses Harry of freeing Black. Fudge assumes Snape is simply delirious because his chances of receiving the Order of Merlin have gone up in smoke. Fudge leaves to inform the Daily Prophet of the news and agrees to remove the Dementors from Hogwarts, since the Dementors' attempt to perform the Dementor's Kiss on Harry proves them to be more harmful than helpful. Shortly after they leave, Ron wakes up from his unconscious state.
The next day, while most of the other students are at Hogsmeade, the trio learns that Lupin is resigning because Snape told the Slytherin house Lupin's secret. Harry goes to see Lupin and is unable to sway Lupin's mind, since Lupin does not want to risk endangering the students again. Lupin confirms Harry's suspicions that James' Animagus form was indeed a stag. Lupin then gives Harry his Invisibility Cloak back, along with the Marauder's Map, and leaves with Dumbledore to catch his carriage.
Later, while talking with Dumbledore, Harry confesses that he feels bad for not letting Lupin and Black kill Pettigrew, realising that he was the servant that would aid with Voldemort's return from Trelawney's prophecy. Dumbledore reminds Harry that he saved Black, an innocent man, from a terrible fate. Furthermore, Pettigrew owes a life debt to Harry for saving him, which Dumbledore is sure will prove useful later on. Before he leaves, Dumbledore mentions that Harry has some of his father's qualities, which is why his Patronus took the form of Prongs. At the end-of-the-year feast, Gryffindor wins both the Quidditch Cup and the House Cup.
The students return to London aboard the Hogwarts Express. Hermione mentions to Harry and Ron that she gave up the Time-Turner because it caused her too much stress. She has decided to drop Muggle Studies so she can have a normal schedule again. Ron announces that he is planning to invite Harry to the Quidditch World Cup, since his father can get them tickets from work. Ron also has a telephone that he can use to contact Harry now.
A tiny owl from Black then arrives on the train with a letter. In the letter, Black reveals that he is travelling far away from Hogwarts to avoid causing further problems and admits he bought Harry the Firebolt with Crookshanks' help. A separate section of the letter provides Harry with permission to visit Hogsmeade; Harry knows Dumbledore will accept it. Sirius also mentions that the tiny owl is a gift for Ron (later named Pigwidgeon by Ginny), since it is Black's fault that Ron no longer has a rat.
After arriving at King's Cross, Ron says he will contact Harry about the finals of the Quidditch World Cup, and Harry heads back to Little Whinging with Uncle Vernon. Harry is happy he now has a true family member to depend on and mentions to Uncle Vernon that he has a godfather who had escaped from wizard prison and likes to check up on him.
Behind the scenes
- Along with Half-Blood Prince, this is one of the books in the series in which the US and UK cover artwork depict the same scene and the same characters. In addition, all cover artwork for any edition in any country depicts this scene, with the exception of the Adult version, the Signature Bloomsbury version and the German version.
- The Prisoner of Azkaban is the only book to not have a chapter with the same name as the title of the book, apart from the Philosopher's Stone.
- Although somewhat darker than the previous two books, this one holds the distinction of being the only Harry Potter book where no one actually dies during the events of the book (with the possible exception of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, where the Basilisk, a magical creature of indeterminate sentience, was the only being to die). Although it appears that Buckbeak dies, he was in fact saved by the time-travelling Harry and Hermione. What the trio thought was the execution was in fact Macnair swinging his axe into a stump out of frustration. (Although, technically Binky, Lavender Brown's rabbit, died in this book, but that was only mentioned in passing.)
- This is the only book where Voldemort is not seen, only mentioned, whether in past or present.
- This is the first of two books in which the title refers to a character, the other being the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
- This is the only book in the series whose name has a word completely original to the series, this word being "Azkaban".
- This is also the only book in the series in which the title is not referred to at all in the text (the phrase 'prisoner of Azkaban' never appears in the book.)
- One of the biggest morals from the series is that it is not one's abilities that make them who they are; it is their choices. However, the climax of this book possibly creates a predestination paradox, which, essentially, negates the doctrine of free will.
- This is the only book where the main antagonist is not directly or indirectly (in the case of book 5) influenced by Voldemort or is Voldemort himself.
- When Harry restrained Lupin and Sirius from killing Pettigrew, he (arguably) made the first mistake that led to the second rise of Lord Voldemort.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban introduces four different magical elements that take on a unique property based on the specific wizard—the Dementor (which causes a wizard to experience their worst memories), the Boggart (which takes the form of a wizard's greatest fear), the Patronus Charm (which creates an animal guardian specific to each wizard), and the Animagus transformation (in which a wizard may transform into an animal form that is unknown to them until they undergo the transformation for the first time.)
- Professor Lupin prevented Harry from confronting the Boggart in the cabinet because he feared that the Boggart would turn into Lord Voldemort. However, Harry didn't know what Voldemort really looked like, since his only encounter at this point with Voldemort was during the Sorcerer's Stone two years ago, when he was possessing Professor Quirrell, not to mention Harry had never seen any kind of drawing or photograph of Voldemort. So, the Boggart might have taken Quirrell's form if Harry's fear was Lord Voldemort.
- In early British editions of the book, as Harry does his summer assignment in the first chapter, "Owl Post", he uses the textbook A History of Magic by Adalbert Waffling. But the real author of the book is Bathilda Bagshot, as mentioned in other books and a point emphasised in Deathly Hallows.
- The American edition and later editions of the English version correct this error.
- Before Harry and Hermione go back in time, it mentions that Buckbeak is tied to a tree. But when they go back in time, Buckbeak is tied to a fence.
- When Harry is buying his books at Flourish and Blotts, it mentions that he is being served by the manager. But when Harry was staring at the book 'Death Omens,' it says that he is being served by the assistant of the store.
- The length of time Sirius has known Pettigrew is hiding at Hogwarts is inconsistent. From Mr. Weasley's conversation at the Leaky Cauldron in chapter four, Sirius has known about it for several months. But in the Shrieking Shack in chapter eighteen, Sirius says that he first learned about it the night he escaped from Azkaban. However, it is possible that Sirius may have been referring to someone else, perhaps Harry or Voldemort. Sirius would know that Harry is at Hogwarts by the time that he is reported to start talking in his sleep and he might have heard about the Chamber of Secrets incident when Hagrid was imprisoned here.
- When they first come out of the Shrieking Shack, the order is Crookshanks, Lupin, Pettigrew, Ron, Snape, Harry, Hermione, and Sirius. However, when they go back in time, the order is now Lupin, Pettigrew, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Harry, and Sirius.
- This is corrected in later editions of the book.
- In June, Fred and George Weasley find out they have scraped "a few O.W.L.s apiece". However, in subsequent books, it is firmly established that O.W.L. results are sent home by owl and are not received until August. A possible explanation for this would be that when Harry and company receive their results, the Ministry of Magic is at war with Voldemort which could have made test grades a lower priority.
- It says "Ron crawled to the four-poster and collapsed onto it". But when Professor Lupin comes in, it says "his eyes flickered over Ron, lying on the floor". This could not be, as Ron should still be on the bed. Crookshanks was on the bed, and 'on the floor beside him.... was Ron' Ron moves from this position to 'protect' Harry. 'If you want to kill Harry, you'll have to kill us too' at this point he is standing, 'clinging painfully to Harry to stay upright'.
- Mr. Weasley says that Ron and Harry have ended up in the Forbidden Forest twice. But only Harry has been in the forest twice. Ron went once to see Aragog with Harry in Chamber of Secrets, but the other time Harry went was for detention in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Ron wasn't there.
- This error was corrected in later editions.
- When Harry and Hermione leave from the hospital wing using the Time-Turner, Dumbledore says it is ten minutes until midnight, but on the way back to the ward after they rescue Sirius, they hear Dumbledore say to the other versions of them that it is five minutes to midnight.
- Corrected in later editions, making Dumbledore say "five minutes to midnight" the first time, instead of ten.
- Chapter sixteen (Professor Trelawney's Prediction) takes place in June 1994. In the beginning of that chapter, Harry Potter reads a note from Hagrid and says, 'Buckbeak's appeal — it's set for the sixth.' The night after the Hippogriff's appeal, Remus Lupin is forced into a werewolf form by the full moon, which means that this happened on the night of June 6, 1994. The web page HP-Lexicon.org also backs this up. However, a brief look at lunar phase calendar sites such as 1994 and lunar phases in 1994 definitely shows June 9, 1994, as a new-moon night, which means that a full moon could not possibly rise three days earlier.
- In addition, during that Christmas' luncheon, Dumbledore, when asked by Harry about Lupin not lunching with them, explicitly states that 'the poor fellow is ill again', alluding to a possible full moon the night before. This is impossible, however, if June's full moon rose on the 6th, as a lunar cycle is 29.5 days long (requires verification).
- While it is possible that like dates and days not matching up in the Harry Potter series to the real world, JK Rowling slightly adjusted the moon's phases to fit the story, it is highly unlikely that she made the lunar cycle shorter, as this would have major consequences on the tides, with likely catastrophic results.
- It is also possible that Lupin had caught the flu, or any other - curable - disease. Again, this is highly unlikely, as Dumbledore states that he is ill again, indicating a similar incident having happened before.
- In addition, during that Christmas' luncheon, Dumbledore, when asked by Harry about Lupin not lunching with them, explicitly states that 'the poor fellow is ill again', alluding to a possible full moon the night before. This is impossible, however, if June's full moon rose on the 6th, as a lunar cycle is 29.5 days long (requires verification).
- On the American version of the cover, the front art is the night that Harry and Hermione save Sirius and Buckbeak. However on the back side of the cover, the moon is crescent when it should be a full moon.
- The cover depicts Harry and Hermione riding Buckbeak. Harry's legs are shown to be in front of Buckbeak's wings. However, when Harry was in Care of Magical Creatures and rode Buckbeak for the first time, Hagrid had told him to sit behind the wing joint (as he did in the movie).
- Sirius Black says that Voldemort has been in hiding for fifteen years. He's actually been in hiding for twelve years (almost thirteen at the time that he says it), about the same amount of time since Black was imprisoned. Voldemort went into hiding right after he was ripped from his body after failing to kill Harry. Of course, Black could just be rounding off to an approximated number (fifteen years), but this seems unlikely since he keeps talking about being in Azkaban for twelve years, being that the two time frames are almost exactly the same. Sirius also says to Pettigrew 'you haven't been hiding from me for 12 years, you've been hiding from Voldemort's old supporters'.
- During chapter fifteen (pg. 308) it says, "A minute later, Katie had put another penalty past the Slytherin Seeker". When the correct word should have been "Keeper" not "Seeker".
- This error is corrected in later editions.
- Trelawney tells Lavender, "Incidentally, that thing you are dreading- it will happen Friday the sixteenth of October." In 1993, when this happens, October 16 was a Saturday.
- Dumbledore says "The word of two thirteen year-old wizards will not convince anybody." to Harry and Hermione, but Hermione is already fourteen at the time, only Harry is thirteen. Also Hermione is a witch, not a wizard.
- ""He's friends with that dog," said Harry grimly."
- —Chapter 17.
- Another bit of foreshadowing takes place in the chapter Aunt Marge's Big Mistake. When Uncle Vernon watches the news report about Sirius Black, he gets mad that the reporter didn't say where he escaped from and comments, "Lunatic could be coming up the street right now!" He does not know that in a week, this will be true.
The book was also adapted into a film, the third Harry Potter film of the series. The movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released on May 31, 2004 (UK) and on June 4, 2004 (US). It was directed by Alfonso Cuarón and the trio was starred by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (soundtrack)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (character index)
- Third year