Buckbeak's execution

Fudge reads Buckbeak's notice of execution as Macnair waits to do the deed

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling

Harry pulled his head out of sight as Macnair’s face appeared at Hagrid’s window, staring out at Buckbeak. Then they heard Fudge.

‘We – er – have to read you the official notice of execution, Hagrid. I’ll make it quick. And then you and Macnair need to sign it. Macnair, you’re supposed to listen too, that’s procedure –’

Macnair’s face vanished from the window. It was now or never.

‘Wait here,’ Harry whispered to Hermione. ‘I’ll do it.’

As Fudge’s voice started again, Harry darted out from behind his tree, vaulted the fence into the pumpkin patch and approached Buckbeak.

‘It is the decision of the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures that the Hippogriff Buckbeak, hereafter called the condemned, shall be executed on the sixth of June at sundown –’

Careful not to blink, Harry stared up into Buckbeak’s fierce orange eye once more, and bowed. Buckbeak sank to his scaly knees and then stood up again. Harry began to fumble with the rope tying Buckbeak to the fence.

‘... sentenced to execution by beheading, to be carried out by the Committee’s appointed executioner, Walden Macnair ...’

‘Come on, Buckbeak,’ Harry murmured, ‘come on, we’re going to help you. Quietly ... quietly ...’

‘... as witnessed below. Hagrid, you sign here ...’

Harry threw all his weight onto the rope, but Buckbeak had dug in his front feet.

‘Well, let’s get this over with,’ said the reedy voice of the Committee member from inside Hagrid’s cabin. ‘Hagrid, perhaps it would be better if you stayed inside –’

‘No, I – I wan’ ter be with him ... I don’ wan’ him ter be alone –’ Footsteps echoed from within the cabin.

‘Buckbeak, move!’ Harry hissed.

Harry tugged harder on the rope around Buckbeak’s neck. The Hippogriff began to walk, rustling its wings irritably. They were still ten feet away from the Forest, in plain view of Hagrid’s back door.

‘One moment, please, Macnair,’ came Dumbledore’s voice. ‘You need to sign, too.’ The footsteps stopped. Harry heaved on the rope. Buckbeak snapped his beak and walked a little faster.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling