Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Ch. 4: This will go much smoother if you’ve read the book already, dear

losing battle

This week, we discuss: isolating Harry; the Diagon Alley of our dreams; Old Mother Hubbard, meet Hannibal Lecter; the gloriously fun history of hags; do not fuck with Baba Yaga; diabetes does not exist in the wizarding world; Harry Potter and the Responsibly Spent Budget; do these people know they have magic?; unfogging the future with Cassandra; Mrs. Longbottom’s future grudge against Harry; how do creatures get magical?; Ron’s new wand; misdirection and puffskeins; Crookshanks knows what’s up; God, I hope everyone has read the book already because we spoil it for you now; the mysterious disappearing Azkaban guards; movie Fred and George get the shaft; the travails of Percy Weasley; Sirius Black, tragic figure; seriously, you better have read this thing or else don’t care about spoilers; Bighead Boy and CAPS-LOCK HARRY; and mirrors give us all words to live by.

S: Welcome back to Advanced Muggle Studies!


S: I don’t understand who’s tuning in and is not already hyped. Who are these people?

C: Clearly not among our tens of fans.

S: Maybe they just stumbled across our website and are like, “What the fuck is this magical fuckery?”


C: That would be the best bet.

S: We are in Prisoner of Azkaban, and today are picking up Chapter 4. Which, fun, because we’re finally getting into the weird stuff. Only I could be happy to get into chapters talking about Dementors.

C: I’m happy too. Not that I don’t enjoy books 1 and 2, but this book is where shit really starts to happen.

S: Agreed.

Chapter 4: The Leaky Cauldron

S: One thing I notice, read, observed, probably borrowed from somewhere – the movie in particular, and this book, focuses strongly on isolation. That happens again in Book 5. Both are about Harry being isolated, and you see these visual representations of isolation in the film. This really is a pivot in how we start Harry stories. So far it’s always started the same way – Harry is at the Dursleys, something awful happens, and then he’s with the Weasleys and then off to school. But this is the first time Harry has been out doing his own thing. Which is fitting, since he just turned 13. He’s taking his first steps into adulthood, I guess?

C: Into getting hair on his chest.

S: Why did you have to put it that way?


C: I was going to say, into getting hair on his balls.

S: That’s worse.


C: I rethought it, and then I had to respond to you. So really, it’s as much your fault as it is mine.

S: I should be used to this by now. I think it makes sense because the monomyth Joseph Campbell created – the first quarter is separation. It’s separation, initiation, return. Now we’re even more in literal separation.

But when you were 13, getting to do something like this? AMAZING.

C: Having been to Diagon Alley, I can tell you I would not want to spend 2 weeks wandering around there.

S: Okay, not the Orlando Diagon Alley, but the one that exists in your head.

C: The one that exists in my head?

S: Yeah, the book version. And imagine that you’re 13.

C: I would want to know where my mother was.

S: You make things very complicated.

C: I am a homebody. I like to cling. I would not have wanted to be on my own.

Professor Creed, when you suggest she go shopping in Diagon Alley alone

S: I would. To me, this would have been fantastic. Harry’s days are great. He does whatever he wants. There’s also a mention here of people he sees in The Leaky Cauldron:

venerable-looking wizards arguing over the latest article in Transfiguration Today; wild-looking warlocks; raucous dwarfs; and once, what looked suspiciously like a hag, who ordered a plate of raw liver from behind a thick woollen balaclava. 

I feel like we’re headed back to warlock territory here, but what’s a hag?

C: I had the same question about warlocks here because I thought we’d established that a warlock was just an old, wizened, powerful wizard. Now I don’t know. I’m confused again.

S: I’m breaking down and hitting the Harry Potter wiki. Oh, WELL, fine. Apparently:

hag is a savage being that looks like an ugly, old witch but has more warts.[4] They possess rudimentary magic, similar to that of a troll.[5] Little is known of them, though it is thought that they are what Muggles think are witches and are therefore popular in Muggle literature.


So, the Wicked Witch of the West would be a hag, not a witch.

And she knows how to show a broom a good time!

C: I thought you were looking up warlocks?

S: I looked up hags first. It’s stressing me out.

C: I was just confused, because I’m thinking that the man Mr. Weasley works with is…

S: Apparently, the Harry Potter Wiki says,

The Ministry classifies hags as beings, a fact that causes centaurs and merpeople to desire the classification of beast.

I guess having hags classified as beings offends the sensibilities of merpeople and centaurs, who are like, if they’re in, we’re out.

C: Well, if you can put on clothes, walk into Diagon Alley and order something, that sounds like a being to me.

S: They eat children.

C: Some children deserve to be eaten.

Eat the rude

S: This is interesting.

C: I’m sure the hags are like the vampires in Twilight – they’re vegetarian hags, and only eat the children of goats…..because they’re kids. HA!


S: It’s probably why the hag ordered raw liver, because that’s her vegetarian version of not eating children.

C: Exactly.

S: This is fun. I’m looking at the list of known hags, and they list Old Mother Hubbard.

C: Oh!

Not going to lie, this illustration from 1889 feels like the kickoff of a Saw-style horror franchise

S: Malodora Grymm…

In Rowling’s nod to Grimm’s Fairy Tales, apparently, this is Malodora Grymm (or so says the Harry Potter wiki)

Leticia Somnolens, which is a reference to sleep paralysis. Apparently, that came from English folklore.

And in a nod to my favorite classic Disney villain, this is apparently Leticia Somnolens!

But my personal favorite is Baba Yaga is on here! I’m a big fan of Myths and Legends – shout out – so if any of you are familiar with it, you know immediately who Baba Yaga is. She’s a crazy Russian witch that lives in a house made out of human bones and has magic chickens, and she’s a fierce character. Depending on her mood, she’ll help you out or just eat you.


C: Isn’t there a song called Baba Yaga?

S: Probably. She’s a very famous figure in folklore. Less known over here, because we’re American and we don’t take no truck with no foreign folklore. But in the rest of the world, especially Russia, she’s famous.

So, let’s solve the mystery of the warlocks, once and for all.

C: I’m just looking at pictures of Baba Yaga now.

Seriously, the woman has a magic chicken house and a skull fence. Don’t mess with her.

S: It’s just the same thing, though! Either a wizard of fierce appearance or a title. Are we seriously just using this title to describe fierce looking/ ugly wizards?

C: Apparently.

S: That’s just wrong.

C: Also, the song I was thinking of was “Baba O’Reilly,” not Baba Yaga. Which shows you how well I know my 70s rock.

S: Well, there you go. We found out what and who hags are, so I’m good with that. So, Harry hangs out – goes to Leaky Cauldron for breakfast, and then goes out to Diagon Alley and has a great end to his holiday. He’s outside most of the day, explores shops, eats at cafes.

C: I would just stay in the bookstore.

S: He can do his homework at Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlor,

“who, apart from knowing a great deal about medieval witch burnings, gave Harry free sundaes every half an hour.”

C: That’s a bit excessive.

S: Dude, you’re going to lose money.

C: You’re also going to make Harry diabetic.

S: Again, this is where Cursed Child is the worst to even suggest that wizarding world sugar has the same effect as real world sugar. IT DOESN’T. Because Harry could eat sundaes every half hour and be fine, and that’s appropriate, so there. Don’t mess with my world.


I have to say, Harry is showing a great deal of self-control and being a very practical spender. He’s tempted to buy extravagant things, like solid-gold Gobstones or

“the perfect, moving model of the galaxy in a large glass ball, which would have meant he never had to take another Astronomy lesson.” 

C: I would 100% buy that.

S: And, of course, the most tempting thing at Quality Quidditch Supplies – a prototype of the fastest broom in the world, the Firebolt.


Just reading the description — the more you read, the more expensive it sounds.

This state-of-the-art racing broom sports a streamlined, superfine handle of ash, treated with a diamond-hard polish and hand-numbered with its own registration number. Each individually selected birch twig in the broomtail has been honed to aerodynamic perfection, giving the Firebolt unsurpassable balance and pinpoint precision. The Firebolt has an acceleration of 150 miles an hour in ten seconds and incorporates an unbreakable Braking Charm. Price on request.

C: I hope it’s very effective braking if it can go 150 mph.

S: “Price on request.” This is probably a good introduction for kids who aren’t familiar with this side of retail. When they don’t have a price, and say price on request, that means they’re exorbitantly expensive.

C: It means you can’t afford it.

S: And if you didn’t know that as a kid, you do now that you’ve read this. Again, Harry is very practical and shows good restraint –

he had never lost a Quidditch match on his Nimbus Two Thousand, and what was the point in emptying his Gringotts vault for the Firebolt, when he had a very good broom already?

Doesn’t even ask about the price, just goes back to look at it every day.

C: He doesn’t even buy a Nimbus Two Thousand and One.

S: No, he doesn’t, he keeps his Two Thousand. He’s so practical. He gets new robes, has to get his new books, supplies, etc. And in Flourish and Blotts, there’s a large iron cage full of books snapping at each other.


How do you justify selling these books if the books are attacking each other and pages are being ripped out?

C: Could they not just do a Stupefy charm?

S: Do the books magically heal themselves? I have questions.

C: So do I.

S: I also want to know why would the book manufacturer not inform the book retailer on how to handle these books?

C: Why would anyone make books like this?

S: Because the wizarding world has a weird sense of humor. It’s funny for us, but you have to think there are people in this world with a pretty messed-up sense of humor. This poor manager, donning thick gloves and carrying a knobbly walking stick, is about to open the cage. When Harry says he’s already got one, the manager is like, oh thank heavens! I’ve already been bitten 5 times.

C: Again, can you not pull out your wand and do Levicorpus or Wingardium Leviosa, levitate one out, bind it up and give it to your customer? You have magic. Use it.

S: You are so logical, and I love it. But it does lead to one of my favorite lines of the series, when the manager is complaining about the books:

“I thought we’d seen the worst when we bought two hundred copies of the Invisible Book of Invisibility — cost a fortune, and we never found them…”

C: Again, WHY.

S: I just love knowing that there’s 200 books sitting around the store that they’ve never found.

C: At some point those books are just going to fall off the top shelf and land on somebody’s head.

TFW you finally locate the missing shipment of invisible books

S: Harry has to get Unfogging the Future by Cassandra Vablatsky. Cassandra, of course.

C: Why of course?

S: Because in Greek mythology, Cassandra was a Seer. She was given the power of prophecy by Apollo and could hear or tell the future.

Warning: this power may lead one to tear one’s hair out

There are variant versions of the story. In one version, she fell asleep in a temple and snakes whispered in her ear. Snakes as a source of knowledge are a recurring theme in Greek mythology, apparently.

C: I wonder if that’s where Christianity got it from.

S: The idea was pre-Christian.

C: I know, that’s what I’m saying.

S: I’m not sure how the dates line up on that, but it’s certainly not an idea that only occurs in one place. But that’s the deal with Cassandra. This happens a lot in literature – whenever there’s someone connected to seeing or the future, writers love to work the name Cassandra in there. So, I like that she just had the author of the authoritative book named Cassandra.

C: Well, let’s be fair. If they know about it, they’ll work it in. If you’re me, you have no clue.

S: That is true, but I think you would employ book titles such as these, which I know you enjoyed: Predicting the Unpredictable: Insulate Yourself Against Shocks and Broken Balls: When Fortunes Turn Foul.

C: It would be foul to have your balls break.

S: That title. Come on. So, Harry gets his book, and he sees another: Death Omens: What to Do When You Know the Worst Is coming.

“Oh, I wouldn’t read that if I were you,” said the manager lightly, looking to see what Harry was staring at. “You’ll start seeing death omens everywhere. It’s enough to frighten anyone to death.”

There’s a large black dog on the cover that looks oddly familiar. Harry is like, hmm, problems, I have them.

He gets his books and heads back to the Leaky Cauldron, has a nice conversation with his mirror –

C: I love this mirror!

He raised his hand automatically and tried to make his hair lie flat. 

“You’re fighting a losing battle there, dear,” said his mirror in a wheezy voice.

S: It would keep your self-esteem in check for sure.

C: “That outfit really does make you look fat.”

S: Harry continues to run into Hogwarts people – Seamus and Dean ogling the Firebolt –

C: They’re not even on the Quidditch team!

S: But they’re boys, and it’s a Firebolt! Ogling is required. And then Neville, who has mislaid his booklist and whose grandmother is yelling at him.

Harry hoped she never found out that he’d pretended to be Neville while on the run from the Ministry of Magic.

I read that and thought, oh Harry, that’s the least of the things Neville’s grandmother will have to be mad at you about in the years to come.



So it’s the last day of holidays, and he meets up with Ron and Hermione – Ron is freckly and Hermione has a tan. Yet another reason to be jealous of Hermione – I can’t tan.

C: I burn.

S: Me too! Of course, Arthur knew where Harry was staying, and about his aunt. Which Ron finds hilarious, because Ron is human. Harry: “I thought I was going to be arrested, actually.”

C: It’s both funny and serious.

S: The Weasleys are staying at the Leaky Cauldron that night, and everyone’s going to the station tomorrow.

Family reunion!

And Ron has a new wand, finally! And very fittingly, it’s made out of willow!


C: Awww, like the Whomping one! It makes me want to go onto Pottermore and look up what the wood and unicorn tail hair tells us about Ron. Have you already done it?

S: No, but I’m going to do it right now. Let’s see… She has a lot of wand woods here.

C: Most of which you cannot get in Diagon Alley, which is frustrating.

S: OH, THIS is why she gave it to Ron.

Willow is an uncommon wand wood with healing power, and I have noted that the ideal owner for a willow wand often has some (usually unwarranted) insecurity, however well they may try and hide it. While many confident customers insist on trying a willow wand (attracted by their handsome appearance and well-founded reputation for enabling advanced, non-verbal magic) my willow wands have consistently selected those of greatest potential, rather than those who feel they have little to learn. It has always been a proverb in my family that he who has furthest to travel will go fastest with willow.

C: Yep, that’s pretty much Ron.

S: Insecurities. But that’s good that he gets his wand. It’s something he’ll work well with.

C: Insecurities, but also the furthest to go. He’s the least mature of the trio.

S: Yeah, he is. It’s good that he gets this. And unicorn tail hair.


“What about those Monster Books, eh? The assistant nearly cried when we said we wanted two.” 

Of course, Hermione bought all the books in Flourish and Blotts, because she had to buy books for Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures, Ancient Runes, Divination, Muggle Studies – YAY HERMIONE TAKING MUGGLE STUDIES! We’re so proud. She was our first and best pupil.

We taught her everything she promptly forgot in favor of actually useful information!

“Your mum and dad are Muggles! You already know all about Muggles!”

“But it’ll be fascinating to study them from the Wizarding point of view,” said Hermione earnestly.”

C: Which is probably true, and she would be a great advantage to the class and the professor, assuming the professor isn’t Muggle-born.

S: Hermione’s parents gave her a little money for a birthday present.

“How about a nice book?” said Ron innocently.

And the sarcasm goes over her head. She wants an owl. So they go to the Magical Creature shop, which works out, because Scabbers needs to be checked out. He’s thinner than usual and there is a definite droop to his whiskers.

C: So much misdirection about Scabbers in this book. It’s great.


S: At least 2 really great moments of misdirection in these chapters alone. What did you think of this animal shop?

C: It reminds me of the time I went into a local feed store, and immediately had to turn around and leave, because it was in the springtime when they had all their chicks and ducks, and the smell was overwhelming and it set off my asthma. I couldn’t breathe. So I doubt I could spend much time here.

S: That’s a shame, because this shop is cool! There’s a tortoise with a jewel-encrusted shell, and poisonous orange snails, a rabbit that turns into a top hat, furballs that hum loudly – puffskeins!

God bless the internet

C: Doesn’t Ginny get one eventually?

S: Yeah, a little one. A Pygmy Puff. And:

on the counter, a vast cage of sleek black rats that were playing some sort of skipping game using their long, bald tails.

So it seems like at the magical pet shop, most of the animals you get have magical abilities already. Owls seem to come pre-programmed, because when you buy one it finds locations, and finds you again, even if you’re not where you were when you sent it off.

C: Now that you bring that up, it’s interesting. How do these creatures come about?

S: I don’t know. Is it a magical breed of owls? Or do you have wizards who are responsible for installing magical software, if that makes sense, before they’re sold? They have to have a certain amount of magic worked on them before they can be sold for post owls? I don’t know if there’s a magical breed of rat? Just like anything else – certain humans have magic, and certain animals do too? Of course, we’re only talking animals that are in both magic and muggle worlds. We’re not talking Blast-Ended Skrewts, which are obviously magic. But rats and owls have non-magic counterparts, so how does that work?

C: Also, how does a double-ended newt poop?

S: Hmm. Just because it has two ends doesn’t mean they’re heads. They could be two ends. But still, your point stands.

Ron’s rat is looking

a bit battered. Next to the glossy rats in the cage, he looked especially woebegone.

I like that word. Anyone who can use the word correctly is all right in my book.

Fair point. Apparently Ron Weasley has no need of your paltry rules

Lots of good misdirection about Scabbers, who is quite old, belonged to Percy, and has never shown a trace of interesting powers – which is funny, because that’s the first question the witch asks. We as readers have never thought to wonder about this, but the fact that this is one of the first questions asked suddenly suggests to us that that is unusual.

C: Yeah, like all animals have some magical power. I wonder what dogs do.

S: Does Fang have magical powers?

C: Boarhounds are pretty ugly. They’ve got all the wrinkles of bulldogs and none of the cuteness.

S: Scabbers has been through the mill – he’s got a tattered ear and a toe missing on his front paw…


S: Yes, very quickly let’s move on. Apparently a common or garden rat shouldn’t live more than 3-5 years. Of course, Ron takes offense at the idea that he should replace him. So the witch gives him rat tonic. Not a moment too soon, because a giant orange thing lands on top of his head and is going after Scabbers.

C: I LOVE YOU CROOKSHANKS! Crookshanks knows what’s up.

S: It takes him 10 min to catch Scabbers, who ran from the

very big cat or quite a small tiger.

As they go back up the street, they find Hermione coming out of the magical menagerie with an animal. But she didn’t buy an owl – she bought Crookshanks!

C: Because he’s adorable.

That was a matter of opinion, thought Harry. The cat’s ginger fur was thick and fluffy, but it was definitely a bit bow-legged and its face looked grumpy and oddly squashed, as though it had run headlong into a brick wall. 

C: He just needs some love.


S: The cat in the movie is perfect. And of course Hermione just loves him. And Ron takes it as a personal affront that Hermione would buy the cat that –

C: The cat that acted like a cat! How dare you?

S: I also enjoy that we have entered into a literal game of cat and mouse, which will continue through the book. But as Hermione says, Crookshanks will be in my dorm and Scabbers in yours, so it should be fine!

C: Makes sense.

S: Back at the Leaky Cauldron, we find the Weasleys: Arthur, reading the Daily Prophet, looking a little strained, because apparently everyone has been pulled off their regular jobs at the Ministry to try to catch Sirius Black, but they’ve had no luck yet. That’s pretty intense – this is a massive government manhunt.

C: I have a question, and I feel like I might be asking it out of order. So, I don’t know if I should ask it now or wait until later and hope that I remember. What do you think?

S: Ask it now, and then we can answer it or not.

C: Basically the reason they can’t catch Sirius is because he’s an unregistered Animagus, right? Who knows that? Professor Lupin. Lupin doesn’t tell anybody.

S: No.

C: That’s not great.

S: Yeah. You know, one of the things I’ve always loved about this series is that the characters you love the most – even they have flaws. And that is one of the things that goes against Lupin’s character. It’s a complicated question, in my opinion. Lupin knows that Sirius Black is an Animagus, and he probably knows that’s how Sirius Black is evading capture. So, you have to ask yourself what his attitude is here. Is he thinking, I’m staying out of it, they’ll catch him regardless, and it’ll all be over? Does he still have lingering doubts about Sirius Black? It doesn’t seem like it. Does he still feel lingering loyalty, to where he feels like he’s not going to actively help them capture him but he’s not going to stop them either? Maybe that’s the last bit of loyalty he has?

C: It’s hard, because obviously Sirius Black was a really good friend to him, but as far as he knows, Sirius Black betrayed them and got Lily and James murdered. From what I remember of the book, which granted is not in great detail, he never acts like he doesn’t think Sirius Black is a threat to Harry.

S: No, he does think that Sirius Black is a threat. He believes it like everyone else does, up until Harry brings a certain fact to light. So, it doesn’t seem that he’s harboring a secret conviction that his friend was framed. He has no reason to think that.

C: This leads me to another question. The Whomping Willow – was that already there, or was that placed there so they could get into the Shrieking Shack and no one else could?

S: It was placed there for Lupin, so that he could be able to attend Hogwarts. It wasn’t for the rest of them – it was just so that once a month when he transformed he would have somewhere to go, and where no one could follow him. Even if someone did, there’d be a guard at the gate to stop them.

C: And we don’t think – does Dumbledore know? Does he suspect?

S: It doesn’t seem like he knows. Of all the things he knows or doesn’t know, he doesn’t seem to know this.

C: That’s interesting to me.

S: So I hope you’ve read this book already!

C: Spoiler alert!

S: We just covered all that for you. But yes, it seems the Ministry is up in arms trying to catch him, and the as-yet-unnamed Azkaban guards are out in full force to catch him.

C: Pointedly unnamed through this entire chapter, even though they wouldn’t speak about it that way, really.

S: Even though literally no one else calls them “Azkaban guards” again after this point. Yes. She’s being very careful not to use the word until she’s good and ready.

And the rest of the Weasleys! Fred and George, and newly elected Head Boy Percy, and Ginny, who is a bit embarrassed to see Harry.

C: It takes just one look into those eyes that are green as a fresh pickled toad. It’s enough to make your heart go all a-twitter.

S: This interchange with Harry, Percy, Fred and George is one of my favorites. Percy is all pompous, shaking hands with Harry as if they’ve never met. Fred and George take full advantage of it.

“Harry!” said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. “Simply splendid to see you, old boy–“

“Marvelous,” said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry’s hand in turn. “Absolutely spiffing.”

C: It’s times like this that I really love Fred and George.


“That’s enough, now,” said Mrs. Weasley.

“Mum!” said Fred as though he’d only just spotted her and seizing her hand too. “How really corking to see you–“

S: And it’s times like this that Fred and George got the shaft in the movies, because all they had them do in the movies was say the same things at the same time over and over again, and they didn’t do moments like that, which are why we love them.

Oh, Percy is Head Boy.

C: And of course he’s wearing the damn badge.

S: Why not? He wore it to Egypt, why not wear it here? Of course, Mrs. Weasley is giving Fred and George a hard time about not being made prefects. George: What do we want to be… fun out of life?

Apparently, they tried to shut Percy in a pyramid, but “mum spotted us.”

Everyone is hanging out having dinner, and again these are things we should have had in the films! Arthur mentions that they’re getting to King’s Cross the next day via a couple of cars the Ministry is providing. Everyone wants to know why.

“It’s because of you, Perce,” said George seriously. “And there’ll be little flags on the hoods, with HB on them–“

“– for Humongous Bighead,” said Fred.

There’s no hesitation. They’re quick to work the jokes in. Mr. Weasley tries unconvincingly to say the cars are because of him, but no one buys it because he’s Harry.

C: I would like to make a comment. One thing that is interesting/that I like about Cursed Child is that Hermione is the Minister of Magic, which means that she is very likely Percy’s boss, and she has gotten something he wanted very badly, and I bet he hates it.

S: You know, aside from introducing us to Ottaline Gambol, which was heretofore the only thing of significance I thought Cursed Child gave us, I think you just hit on the only other one.

C: I wish we had gotten a mention of Percy. I don’t remember how much Percy had to do with the resistance, or what we get from him in the epilogue, or anything on Pottermore – as far as I know Percy basically stops mattering after he sides with Fudge.

S: He shows up briefly a few times, but it’s because he’s cut ties with the family that we don’t learn much about what he’s been up to until he turns up at the end of 7 saying all right, I was a prat.

As goofy as Percy is, and as much as a fairly minor side character as he is, he has a great arc and his story seems to resonate with a lot of people. There are a lot of staunch Percy defenders out there. I like what she did with this character – it’s minor and she didn’t have to do it, but it plays well.

C: He’s a pain in the ass, but he knows he can’t be as cool as Bill or Charlie, and then you’ve got Fred and George a couple of years beneath him who are brilliant in their own way, and he wants more than just being poor. There’s nothing wrong with that. He just becomes an ass.

S: Yeah. He’s not daring, he’s not funny, he’s not exceptionally talented – what else do you have other than completely buying into the system and becoming outstanding at following the rules and moving up that way? That’s his excellence. That’s what he has. So of course, he buys into it.

Everybody is getting their stuff ready to go for the next day, but there’s a bit of a kerfuffle since Percy’s Head Boy badge is missing, along with Scabbers’ rat tonic. Harry thinks Ron left the rat tonic at the bar, so he goes to pick it up.

C: You know, for somebody who’s concerned about his pet, Ron is doing a shitty job of being concerned about his pet.

S: He keeps losing his rat tonic! I mean really. While he’s down there he overhears a heated conversation between Arthur and Molly about Harry – apparently, Arthur has been telling Fudge repeatedly that Harry deserves to know what’s going on. It’s a little detail you don’t get in the movie – the fact that Arthur is up at the ministry actively advocating for Harry. Which is awesome.

C: GO, Mr. Weasley!

S: Another reminder why Arthur is so great. He’s upset that the Ministry insists on treating Harry like a child. Of course, Molly is all for not telling him because

“he’s happy not knowing!”

Arthur isn’t trying to make him unhappy, but in case you hadn’t noticed Ron and Harry have been getting up to some stuff in the past few years.

C: I love this line:

“They’ve even ended up in the Forbidden Forest!”

Yes, and once was because it was their fucking detention when they were eleven years old!


S: Yes, their completely inappropriate punishment. And if you think that’s the worst of what they’ve done, oh, poor Arthur. He believes that if the Ministry hadn’t found him the night he ran away that they’d have found him dead that night.

C: Which actually makes me think of another question, and I’m sorry I keep derailing us, but that’s what this podcast is about. What would Sirius Black have done if he had been able to corner Harry? What do you think he would have told him?

S: I don’t think that was his plan. From what Sirius Black says later on, he just wanted to see Harry.

C: Oh, then it turns out that he looks exactly like James, and between that and being stuck in Grimmauld Place, Sirius Black continues to never mature or advance past his stagnated character growth, and then he dies.

S: Poor Sirius Black. He’s such a tragic figure. But yes, that was the whole reason he was in Privet Drive. He had no intention of stopping and revealing himself. His whole goal was to get to Hogwarts, which is something everyone has mistaken. They only know for sure what Sirius Black is after because he’s been talking in his sleep for a while now, according to the guards. Which brings up another point, which I find fascinating – apparently Dementors can talk?

C: Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. That must be disturbing, to be on the other end of that conversation.

S: Right? It says that they told Fudge:

“Black’s been talking in his sleep for a while now. Always the same words: ‘He’s at Hogwarts… he’s at Hogwarts.”

So of course they assume he’s after Harry, since he killed James and Lily and clearly wants to finish the job. We know that Sirius Black wants something else at Hogwarts, so he wanted to go on once he’d seen Harry.

C: Which leads me to another question – how does Sirius Black know that Peter Pettigrew is at Hogwarts?

S: Another great tiny detail that JK Rowling dropped in at the very beginning that you have absolutely no reason to think about until much later – he saw the picture of the Weasley family in the Daily Prophet. And he recognized someone. Wow, we are just covering all the answers in this chapter alone.

C: Ohhhhhh. Interesting.

S: I said last episode that that whole segue about the Weasleys going to Egypt and sending Harry the clipping was a nice little detail, but no, it’s an important plot point, because without that picture in the paper none of that would have happened.

C: So, could Sirius Black have escaped from Azkaban any time he wanted? And he just didn’t’ because he felt hopeless and that there was no point to it?

S: Probably. It seems like he hadn’t thought really about escaping prior to that point. Probably partly that’s because of that attitude everyone has about Azkaban – that it’s impossible to escape. So I imagine he went in with the same attitude, that it would be impossible to escape. He certainly had no reason to try, other than what makes anyone want to escape prison. But Azkaban is uniquely suited to keeping that hope out of you. I don’t think he had any reason to try to escape until he saw that photo. Because once he saw it, it spurred him to realize what had actually happen, and gave him the idea that he could get vengeance.


S: It’s brilliant! But of course, no one knows that right now. Arthur:

“I don’t care what Fudge keeps telling the Daily Prophet, we’re no nearer catching Black than inventing self-spelling wands.”

Is that like self-driving cars in the Muggle world? The thing everyone says, like “we’re no closer to that than to this!”

C: I think we’re pretty close to self-driving cars. Assuming you and I live to old age, we will probably have self-driving cars.

S: That’ll be fun, won’t it?

C: It will for me because I’m lazy.

S: I like driving, so we’ll see. But yes, if Black can break out of Azkaban, he can break into Hogwarts. Molly: No one will get Harry while Dumbledore is there. He knows, right?


“Of course he knows. We had to ask him if he minds the Azkaban guards stationing themselves around the entrances to the school grounds.”

It’s a lot to overhear! But Harry does find the rat tonic, and that’s something. And on the way back he finds Fred and George hiding on the landing with Percy’s badge, which now reads “Bighead Boy.”

Ten points to Gryffindor for creativity

Now Harry feels like he knows what’s up – Sirius Black is after him, and that’s why the cars, and Fudge, and Arthur. He feels like maybe he should be scared, but he isn’t really. He figures he’ll be at Hogwarts, and the guards seem tough since everyone seems so scared, so what’s the big deal?

In true teenage fashion, he’s more concerned about the fact that he can’t go to Hogsmeade because there’s a raving lunatic murderer after him.

God, people, my social life is going to suffer. Get your priorities together

C: One of my favorite parts in this book is the set-down that Lupin gives him about this later on, because he 100% fucking deserves it.

S: He really does. And there are a lot of layers to that moment that I look forward to discussing. We’re starting to get into Harry’s teenage years. And I know people complain going forward from here about how angsty he was, impulsive and rash –

C: You mean Caps-Lock Harry?


S: Yeah. We’re starting to see it:

“Did they think he couldn’t look after himself? He’d escaped Lord Voldemort three times; he wasn’t completely useless.”

Yeah, that’s a 13-year-old thing to think. It’s a testament to J.K.’s ability to write these kids as the ages they are. And that means being irrational sometimes!

C: Actually, that reminds me of Harry in Cursed Child arguing with Dumbledore’s portrait, saying “You were never there for me, you never cared,” all of his bullshit. Meanwhile, he would not have done anything in Book 1 without Ron and Hermione, and in Book 2 wouldn’t have figured anything out without Hermione and without being loyal to Dumbledore and having Fawkes come to his rescue. So no, Harry, you can’t take care of yourself.

S: Yes. You are so 13 right now it’s hilarious. But I feel like the end of this chapter should be the motto for all of our lives.

“I’m not going to be murdered,” Harry said out loud.

“That’s the spirit, dear,” said his mirror sleepily.

Words to live your life by!


And a great way to end a loaded chapter, because now we’re getting into…the Dementors.

C: Dun dun dun!

Show Notes

Intro music: “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saens, performed by Kevin McLeod

“Baba Yaga.” Wikipedia.org.

“Cassandra.” Wikipedia.org.

“Hag.” The Harry Potter Wiki.

“Leticia Somnolens.” The Harry Potter Wiki.

“Malodora Grymm.” The Harry Potter Wiki.

Myths and Legends Podcast. 

Rowling, J.K. “Wand Woods.” Pottermore.com.

“Warlock.” The Harry Potter Wiki.

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