chapter twenty-one of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
After overhearing that Sirius Black is to get the dementor’s kiss, Harry and Hermione travel back in time at Dumbledore’s insistence. There they rescue Buckbeak, Harry casts a Patronus to save them (and Sirius) from the dementors, and they fly Buckbeak to Sirius’s rescue from the tower.
“Ready?” she said breathlessly.
“What are we doing?” Harry said, completely lost.
“Harry, I don’t understand what Dumbledore wants us to do.”
Harry threw all his weight onto the rope.
There was a swishing noise, and the thud of an axe. The executioner seemed to have swung it into the fence in anger.
And out the end of his wand burst, not a shapeless cloud of mist, but a blinding, dazzling, silver animal.
It wasn’t a horse. It wasn’t a unicorn, either. It was a stag.
(by Sanna Lorenzen)
And Harry realized… “Prongs,” he whispered.
Harry urged Buckbeak forward. They were gliding quietly toward the upper floors of the castle….
“He’s there!” Harry said, spotting Sirius as they rose up beside the window.
“How – how – ?” said Black weakly, staring at the hippogriff.
“We’ll see each other again,” he said. “You are – truly your father’s son, Harry.”
Black wheeled Buckbeak around, facing the open sky.
The hippogriff took off into the air…. He and his rider became smaller and smaller as Harry gazed after them…. then a cloud drifted across the moon…. They were gone.
about the chapter
I absolutely love this chapter. Of course there are a few strange inconsistencies with the time-travel paradoxes – have wizards really ended up killing their past or future selves? – but for the most part, the way Rowling weaves together the past with the present is absolutely brilliant. It’s also fun to look back at previous chapters and see clues that it’s happening, like the trio’s hearing Harry and Hermione running across the entrance hall just before they leave for Hagrid’s.
Something You May Not Have Noticed
So Lupin knew that Harry, Ron, Hermione, Sirius, and Pettigrew were heading down under the Whomping Willow because he was watching them for the whole evening on the Marauder’s Map. Now we know that the whole time he was watching, it wasn’t just that group running around – it was also a duplicate Harry and Hermione. Given the amount of time Lupin was watching the map, and the fact that Harry and Hermione were retracing their steps, there’s almost no chance Lupin didn’t realize what was going on. He would have seen two Harrys and two Hermiones, seen the duplicates saving Buckbeak, and seen them watching as the group went down under the Whomping Willow. So the question is, did he already know about Hermione’s time-turner? And if so, can’t you just imagine him sitting there, watching multiple versions of kids walking around with Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew and trying to figure out what the heck was going on?
And more importantly, did he then tell Dumbledore?
Because Dumbledore must have had a very interesting evening as well. Perhaps he saw Harry or Hermione saving Buckbeak, perhaps not. But either way, Buckbeak was gone. And then the next time we see Dumbledore, he’s been talking to Sirius Black and getting his story of what happened. Why would Dumbledore have talked to him, or believed a word of what he said? Well, because Lupin’s already raised his suspicions. After all, Lupin came running out of the castle toward the Whomping Willow minutes after Dumbledore went in – why not sooner, if he was watching everything unfold on the Marauder’s Map? My guess is he pulled Dumbledore aside and shared his suspicions before joining the party in the Shrieking Shack. And then, by the time Dumbledore talked to Sirius, he was open to hearing what Sirius had to say, and soon realized that he had to be the one to set everything in motion.
In other words, J.K. Rowling is brilliant. :)
Life at Hogwarts
It’s really interesting that the Ministry permits thirteen-year-olds to have Time Turners at all – what an incredibly powerful tool! But given how willing they are to hand them out (we’ll see evidence later that this is probably actually a fairly regular occurrence), I’ve also wondered before whether Hogwarts teachers might routinely have them as well. Look at Snape, for example – he has to teach Potions to students at five grade levels (plus two N.E.W.T.-level classes), spread across four houses, and each class multiple times a week. That’s something like eight or nine class periods a day, not to mention all the planning for that many unique classes and the grading for hundreds (!) of students. And then he always seems to be patrolling the corridors at night! It’s possible to make a feasible schedule with a few backbends, and it’s probably even more likely that Rowling simply never thought about it. But I would be curious to know whether time-turners are the solution that makes the most sense.
The Final Word
“The time-turner was a very difficult invention for me, because it created as many problems as it solved.”–J.K. Rowling, July 2007