Darkness in the Shrieking Shack

Harry and Hermione enter the Shrieking Shack in search of Ron, and find an unexpected intruder

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling

Harry looked around. His eyes fell on a wooden chair near them. Large chunks had been torn out of it; one of the legs had been ripped off entirely.

‘Ghosts didn’t do that,’ he said slowly.

At that moment, there was a creak overhead. Something had moved upstairs. Both of them looked up at the ceiling. Hermione’s grip on Harry’s arm was so tight he was losing feeling in his fin- gers. He raised his eyebrows at her; she nodded again and let go.

Quietly as they could, they crept out into the hall and up the crumbling staircase. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust except the floor, where a wide, shiny stripe had been made by something being dragged upstairs.

They reached the dark landing.

‘Nox,’ they whispered together, and the lights at the end of their wands went out. Only one door was open. As they crept towards it, they heard movement from behind it; a low moan, and then a deep, loud purring. They exchanged a last look, a last nod.

Wand held tightly before him, Harry kicked the door wide open.

On a magnificent four-poster bed with dusty hangings, lay Crookshanks, purring loudly at the sight of them. On the floor beside him, clutching his leg, which stuck out at a strange angle, was Ron.

Harry and Hermione dashed across to him.

‘Ron – are you OK?’

‘Where’s the dog?’

‘Not a dog,’ Ron moaned. His teeth were gritted with pain.

‘Harry, it’s a trap –’

‘What –’

‘He’s the dog ... he’s an Animagus ...’

Ron was staring over Harry’s shoulder. Harry wheeled around. With a snap, the man in the shadows closed the door behind them.

A mass of filthy, matted hair hung to his elbows. If eyes hadn’t been shining out of the deep, dark sockets, he might have been a corpse. The waxy skin was stretched so tightly over the bones of his face, it looked like a skull. His yellow teeth were bared in a grin. It was Sirius Black.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling