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and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Prisoner of Azkaban pages 7/16/99 12:27 PM Page 1

Also available:
Harry Potter and the PhilosopherÕs Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Prisoner of Azkaban pages 7/16/99 12:27 PM Page 2

and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Prisoner of Azkaban pages 7/16/99 12:27 PM Page 3

All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise,
without the prior permission of the publisher
First published in Great Britain in 1999
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 38 Soho Square, London, W1V 5DF
Copyright © J.K. Rowling 1999
The moral right of the author has been asserted
A CIP catalogue record of this book is available from the
British Library
ISBN 0 7475 4215 5
Printed in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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To Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely,
the Godmothers of Swing
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Owl Post
Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways. For one
thing, he hated the summer holidays more than any other time of
year. For another, he really wanted to do his homework, but was
forced to do it in secret, in the dead of night. And he also hap-
pened to be a wizard.
It was nearly midnight, and he was lying on his front in bed,
the blankets drawn right over his head like a tent, a torch in one
hand and a large leather-bound book (A History of Magic, by
Adalbert Waffling) propped open against the pillow. Harry moved
the tip of his eagle-feather quill down the page, frowning as he
looked for something that would help him write his essay, ÔWitch-
Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless Ð
The quill paused at the top of a likely-looking paragraph. Harry
pushed his round glasses up his nose, moved his torch closer to
the book and read:
Non-magic people (more commonly known as Muggles) were
particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, but not very
good at recognising it. On the rare occasion that they did catch
a real witch or wizard, burning had no effect whatsoever. The
witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame-Freezing Charm
and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle,
tickling sensation. Indeed, Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being
burnt so much that she allowed herself to be caught no fewer
than forty-seven times in various disguises.
Harry put his quill between his teeth and reached underneath his
pillow for his ink bottle and a roll of parchment. Slowly and very
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carefully he unscrewed the ink bottle, dipped his quill into it and
began to write, pausing every now and then to listen, because if
any of the Dursleys heard the scratching of his quill on their way
to the bathroom, heÕd probably find himself locked in the cup-
board under the stairs for the rest of the summer.
The Dursley family of number four, Privet Drive, was the rea-
son that Harry never enjoyed his summer holidays. Uncle Vernon,
Aunt Petunia and their son, Dudley, were HarryÕs only living rela-
tives. They were Muggles, and they had a very medieval attitude
towards magic. HarryÕs dead parents, who had been a witch and
wizard themselves, were never mentioned under the DursleysÕ
roof. For years, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had hoped that if
they kept Harry as downtrodden as possible, they would be able
to squash the magic out of him. To their fury, they had been
unsuccessful, and now lived in terror of anyone finding out that
Harry had spent most of the last two years at Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry. The most the Dursleys could do these
days was to lock away HarryÕs spellbooks, wand, cauldron and
broomstick at the start of the summer holidays, and forbid him to
talk to the neighbours.
This separation from his spellbooks had been a real problem for
Harry, because his teachers at Hogwarts had given him a lot of
holiday work. One of the essays, a particularly nasty one about
Shrinking Potions, was for HarryÕs least favourite teacher,
Professor Snape, who would be delighted to have an excuse to
give Harry detention for a month. Harry had therefore seized his
chance in the first week of the holidays. Whilst Uncle Vernon,
Aunt Petunia and Dudley had gone out into the front garden to
admire Uncle VernonÕs new company car (in very loud voices, so
that the rest of the street would notice it too), Harry had crept
downstairs, picked the lock on the cupboard under the stairs,
grabbed some of his books and hidden them in his bedroom. As
long as he didnÕt leave spots of ink on the sheets, the Dursleys
need never know that he was studying magic by night.
Harry was keen to avoid trouble with his aunt and uncle at the
moment, as they were already in a bad mood with him, all
because heÕd received a telephone call from a fellow wizard one
week into the school holidays.
Ron Weasley, who was one of HarryÕs best friends at Hogwarts,
came from a whole family of wizards. This meant that he knew a
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lot of things Harry didnÕt, but had never used a telephone before.
Most unluckily, it had been Uncle Vernon who had answered the
ÔVernon Dursley speaking.Õ
Harry, who happened to be in the room at the time, froze as he
heard RonÕs voice answer.
Ron was yelling so loudly that Uncle Vernon jumped and held
the receiver a foot away from his ear, staring at it with an expres-
sion of mingled fury and alarm.
ÔWHO IS THIS?Õ he roared in the direction of the mouthpiece.
ÔRON Ð WEASLEY!Õ Ron bellowed back, as though he and
Uncle Vernon were speaking from opposite ends of a football
Uncle VernonÕs small eyes swivelled around to Harry, who was
rooted to the spot.
ÔTHERE IS NO HARRY POTTER HERE!Õ he roared, now hold-
ing the receiver at armÕs length, as though frightened it might
And he threw the receiver back onto the telephone as if drop-
ping a poisonous spider.
The row that had followed had been one of the worst ever.
PEOPLE LIKE YOU!Õ Uncle Vernon had roared, spraying Harry
with spit.
Ron obviously realised that heÕd got Harry into trouble, because
he hadnÕt called again. HarryÕs other best friend from Hogwarts,
Hermione Granger, hadnÕt been in touch either. Harry suspected
that Ron had warned Hermione not to call, which was a pity,
because Hermione, the cleverest witch in HarryÕs year, had Muggle
parents, knew perfectly well how to use a telephone, and would
probably have had enough sense not to say that she went to
So Harry had had no word from any of his wizarding friends for
five long weeks, and this summer was turning out to be almost as
bad as the last one. There was just one, very small improvement:
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after swearing that he wouldnÕt use her to send letters to any of
his friends, Harry had been allowed to let his owl, Hedwig, out at
night. Uncle Vernon had given in because of the racket Hedwig
made if she was locked in her cage all the time.
Harry finished writing about Wendelin the Weird and paused
to listen again. The silence in the dark house was broken only by
the distant, grunting snores of his enormous cousin, Dudley. It
must be very late. HarryÕs eyes were itching with tiredness.
Perhaps heÕd finish this essay tomorrow night ...
He replaced the top of the ink bottle, pulled an old pillowcase
from under his bed, put the torch, A History of Magic,his essay,
quill and ink inside it, got out of bed and hid the lot under a loose
floorboard under his bed. Then he stood up, stretched, and
checked the time on the luminous alarm clock on his bedside
It was one oÕclock in the morning. HarryÕs stomach gave a
funny jolt. He had been thirteen years old, without realising it, for
a whole hour.
Yet another unusual thing about Harry was how little he looked
forward to his birthdays. He had never received a birthday card in
his life. The Dursleys had completely ignored his last two birthdays,
and he had no reason to suppose they would remember this one.
Harry walked across the dark room, past HedwigÕs large, empty
cage, to the open window. He leaned on the sill, the cool night air
pleasant on his face after a long time under the blankets. Hedwig
had been absent for two nights now. Harry wasnÕt worried about
her Ð sheÕd been gone this long before Ð but he hoped sheÕd be
back soon. She was the only living creature in this house who
didnÕt flinch at the sight of him.
Harry, though still rather small and skinny for his age, had
grown a few inches over the last year. His jet-black hair, however,
was just as it always had been: stubbornly untidy, whatever he did
to it. The eyes behind his glasses were bright green, and on his
forehead, clearly visible through his hair, was a thin scar, shaped
like a bolt of lightning.
Of all the unusual things about Harry, this scar was the most
extraordinary of all. It was not, as the Dursleys had pretended for
ten years, a souvenir of the car crash that had killed HarryÕs par-
ents, because Lily and James Potter had not died in a car crash.
They had been murdered, murdered by the most feared Dark wiz-
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ard for a hundred years, Lord Voldemort. Harry had escaped from
the same attack with nothing more than a scar on his forehead,
when VoldemortÕs curse, instead of killing him, had rebounded
upon its originator. Barely alive, Voldemort had fled ...
But Harry had come face to face with him since at Hogwarts.
Remembering their last meeting as he stood at the dark window,
Harry had to admit he was lucky even to have reached his thir-
teenth birthday.
He scanned the starry sky for a sign of Hedwig, perhaps soaring
back to him with a dead mouse dangling from her beak, expecting
praise. Gazing absently over the rooftops, it was a few seconds
before Harry realised what he was seeing.
Silhouetted against the golden moon, and growing larger every
moment, was a large, strangely lop-sided creature, and it was flap-
ping in HarryÕs direction. He stood quite still, watching it sink
lower and lower. For a split second, he hesitated, his hand on the
window-latch, wondering whether to slam it shut, but then the
bizarre creature soared over one of the streetlamps of Privet Drive,
and Harry, realising what it was, leapt aside.
Through the window soared three owls, two of them holding
up the third, which appeared to be unconscious. They landed
with a soft flump on HarryÕs bed, and the middle owl, which was
large and grey, keeled right over and lay motionless. There was a
large package tied to its legs.
Harry recognised the unconscious owl at once Ð his name was
Errol, and he belonged to the Weasley family. Harry dashed to the
bed at once, untied the cords around ErrolÕs legs, took off the par-
cel and then carried Errol to HedwigÕs cage. Errol opened one
bleary eye, gave a feeble hoot of thanks, and began to gulp some
Harry turned back to the remaining owls. One of them, the
large snowy female, was his own Hedwig. She, too, was carrying a
parcel, and looked extremely pleased with herself. She gave Harry
an affectionate nip with her beak as he removed her burden, then
flew across the room to join Errol.
Harry didnÕt recognise the third owl, a handsome tawny one,
but he knew at once where it had come from, because in addition
to a third parcel, it was carrying a letter bearing the Hogwarts
crest. When Harry relieved this owl of its post it ruffled its
feathers importantly, stretched its wings and took off through the
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window into the night.
Harry sat down on his bed, grabbed ErrolÕs package, ripped off
the brown paper and discovered a present wrapped in gold,
and his first ever birthday card. Fingers trembling slightly, he
opened the envelope. Two pieces of paper fell out Ð a letter and a
newspaper cutting.
The cutting had clearly come out of the wizarding newspaper,
the Daily Prophet, because the people in the black and white pic-
ture were moving. Harry picked up the cutting, smoothed it out
and read:
Arthur Weasley, Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts
Office at the Ministry of Magic, has won the annual Daily
ProphetGrand Prize Galleon Draw.
A delighted Mr Weasley told the Daily Prophet, ÔWe will be
spending the gold on a summer holiday in Egypt, where our
eldest son, Bill, works as a curse breaker for Gringotts
Wizarding Bank.Õ
The Weasley family will be spending a month in Egypt,
returning for the start of the new school year at Hogwarts,
which five of the Weasley children currently attend.
Harry scanned the moving photograph, and a grin spread across
his face as he saw all nine of the Weasleys waving furiously at
him, standing in front of a large pyramid. Plump little Mrs
Weasley, tall, balding Mr Weasley, six sons and one daughter, all
(though the black and white picture didnÕt show it) with flaming
red hair. Right in the middle of the picture was Ron, tall and gan-
gling, with his pet rat Scabbers on his shoulder and his arm
around his little sister, Ginny.
Harry couldnÕt think of anyone who deserved to win a large pile
of gold more than the Weasleys, who were very nice and extreme-
ly poor. He picked up RonÕs letter and unfolded it.
Dear Harry,
Happy birthday!
Look, IÕm really sorry about that telephone call. I hope the
Muggles didnÕt give you a hard time. I asked Dad, and he reck-
ons I shouldnÕt have shouted.
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ItÕs brilliant here in Egypt. BillÕs taken us round all the tombs
and you wouldnÕt believe the curses those old Egyptian wizards
put on them. Mum wouldnÕt let Ginny come in the last one.
There were all these mutant skeletons in there, of Muggles
whoÕd broken in and grown extra heads and stuff.
I couldnÕt believe it when Dad won the Daily ProphetDraw.
Seven hundred galleons! Most of itÕs gone on this holiday, but
theyÕre going to buy me a new wand for next year.
Harry remembered only too well the occasion when RonÕs old
wand had snapped. It had happened when the car the two of them
had been flying to Hogwarts had crashed into a tree in the school
WeÕll be back about a week before term starts and weÕll be
going up to London to get my wand and our new books. Any
chance of meeting you there?
DonÕt let the Muggles get you down!
Try and come to London,
PS: PercyÕs Head Boy. He got the letter last week.
Harry glanced back at the photograph. Percy, who was in his sev-
enth and final year at Hogwarts, was looking particularly smug.
He had pinned his Head Boy badge to the fez perched jauntily on
top of his neat hair, his horn-rimmed glasses flashing in the
Egyptian sun.
Harry now turned to his present and unwrapped it. Inside was
what looked like a miniature glass spinning top. There was anoth-
note from Ron beneath it.
Harry Ð this is a Pocket Sneakoscope. If thereÕs someone
untrustworthy around, itÕs supposed to light up and spin. Bill
says itÕs rubbish sold for wizard tourists and isnÕt reliable,
because it kept lighting up at dinner last night. But he didnÕt
realise Fred and George had put beetles in his soup.
Bye Ð Ron
Harry put the Pocket Sneakoscope on his bedside table, where it
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stood quite still, balanced on its point, reflecting the luminous
hands of his clock. He looked at it happily for a few seconds, then
picked up the parcel Hedwig had brought.
Inside this, too, there was a wrapped present, a card and a
letter, this time from Hermione.
Dear Harry,
Ron wrote to me and told me about his phone call to your
Uncle Vernon. I do hope youÕre all right.
IÕm on holiday in France at the moment and I didnÕt know
how I was going to send this to you Ð what if theyÕd opened it at
Customs? Ð but then Hedwig turned up! I think she wanted to
make sure you got something for your birthday for a change. I
bought your present by owl-order; there was an advertisement
in the Daily Prophet(IÕve been getting it delivered, itÕs so good
to keep up with whatÕs going on in the wizarding world). Did
you see that picture of Ron and his family a week ago? I bet heÕs
learning loads, IÕm really jealous Ð the ancient Egyptian wiz-
ards were fascinating.
ThereÕs some interesting local history of witchcraft here, too.
IÕve re-written my whole History of Magic essay to include some
of the things IÕve found out. I hope itÕs not too long, itÕs two rolls
of parchment more than Professor Binns asked for.
Ron says heÕs going to be in London in the last week of the
holidays. Can you make it? Will your aunt and uncle let you
come? I really hope you can. If not, IÕll see you on the Hogwarts
Express on September the first!
Love from
P.S. Ron says PercyÕs Head Boy. IÕll bet PercyÕs really pleased.
Ron doesnÕt seem too happy about it.
Harry laughed again as he put HermioneÕs letter aside and picked
up her present. It was very heavy. Knowing Hermione, he was
sure it would be a large book full of very difficult spells Ð but it
wasnÕt. His heart gave a huge bound as he ripped back the paper
and saw a sleek black leather case with silver words stamped
across it: Broomstick Servicing Kit.
ÔWow, Hermione!Õ Harry whispered, unzipping the case to look
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There was a large jar of FleetwoodÕs High-Finish Handle Polish,
a pair of gleaming silver Tail-Twig Clippers, a tiny brass compass
to clip onto your broom for long journeys, and a Handbook of Do-
it-Yourself Broomcare.
Apart from his friends, the thing that Harry missed most about
Hogwarts was Quidditch, the most popular sport in the magical
world Ð highly dangerous, very exciting and played on broom-
sticks. Harry happened to be a very good Quidditch player; he
had been the youngest person in a century to be picked for one of
the Hogwarts house teams. One of HarryÕs most prized posses-
sions was his Nimbus Two Thousand racing broom.
Harry put the leather case aside and picked up his last parcel.
He recognised the untidy scrawl on the brown paper at once: this
was from Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper. He tore off the top
layer of paper and glimpsed something green and leathery, but
before he could unwrap it properly, the parcel gave a strange
quiver, and whatever was inside it snapped loudly Ð as though it
had jaws.
Harry froze. He knew that Hagrid would never send him any-
thing dangerous on purpose, but then, Hagrid didnÕt have a nor-
mal personÕs view of what was dangerous. Hagrid had been known
to befriend giant spiders, buy vicious, three-headed dogs from
men in pubs and sneak illegal dragon eggs into his cabin.
Harry poked the parcel nervously. It snapped loudly again.
Harry reached for the lamp on his bedside table, gripped it firmly
in one hand and raised it over his head, ready to strike. Then he
seized the rest of the wrapping paper in his other hand and
And out fell Ð a book. Harry just had time to register its hand-
some green cover, emblazoned with the golden title, The Monster
Book of Monsters, before it flipped onto its edge and scuttled side-
ways along the bed like some weird crab.
ÔUh oh,Õ Harry muttered.
The book toppled off the bed with a loud clunk and shuffled
rapidly across the room. Harry followed it stealthily. The book
was hiding in the dark space under his desk. Praying that the
Dursleys were still fast asleep, Harry got down on his hands and
knees and reached towards it.
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The book snapped shut on his hand and then flapped past him,
still scuttling on its covers. Harry scrambled around, threw
himself forward and managed to flatten it. Uncle Vernon gave a
loud, sleepy grunt in the room next door.
Hedwig and Errol watched interestedly as Harry clamped the
struggling book tightly in his arms, hurried to his chest of drawers
and pulled out a belt, which he buckled tightly around it. The
Monster Book shuddered angrily, but could no longer flap and
snap, so Harry threw it down on the bed and reached for HagridÕs
Dear Harry,
Happy Birthday!
Think you might find this useful for next year. WonÕt say no
more here. Tell you when I see you.
Hope the Muggles are treating you right.
All the best,
It struck Harry as ominous that Hagrid thought a biting book
would come in useful, but he put up HagridÕs card next to Ron
and HermioneÕs, grinning more broadly than ever. Now there was
only the letter from Hogwarts left.
Noticing that it was rather thicker than usual, Harry slit open
the envelope, pulled out the first page of parchment within and
Dear Mr Potter,
Please note that the new school year will begin on September
the first. The Hogwarts Express will leave from KingÕs Cross
Station, platform nine and three-quarters, at eleven oÕclock.
Third-years are permitted to visit the village of Hogsmeade
at certain weekends. Please give the enclosed permission form
to your parent or guardian to sign.
A list of books for next year is enclosed.
Yours sincerely,
Professor M. McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress
Harry pulled out the Hogsmeade permission form and looked
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at it, no longer grinning. It would be wonderful to visit
Hogsmeade at weekends; he knew it was an entirely wizarding
village, and he had never set foot there. But how on earth was he
going to persuade Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia to sign the
He looked over at the alarm clock. It was now two oÕclock in
the morning.
Deciding that heÕd worry about the Hogsmeade form when he
woke up, Harry got back into bed and reached up to cross off
another day on the chart heÕd made for himself, counting down
the days left until his return to Hogwarts. Then he took off his
glasses and lay down, eyes open, facing his three birthday cards.
Extremely unusual though he was, at that moment Harry
Potter felt just like everyone else: glad, for the first time in his life,
that it was his birthday.
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