Time for a plan

Hermione and Harry plot to save Sirius Black with the Time-Turner

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling

Harry jumped up out of bed, Hermione had done the same. But his shout had been heard in the corridor outside, next second, Cornelius Fudge and Snape had entered the ward.

‘Harry, Harry, what’s this?’ said Fudge, looking agitated. ‘You should be in bed, has he had any chocolate?’ he asked Madam Pomfrey anxiously.

‘Minister, listen!’ Harry said. ‘Sirius Black’s innocent! Peter Pettigrew faked his own death! We saw him tonight! You can’t let the Dementors do that thing to Sirius, he’s’

But Fudge was shaking his head with a small smile on his face.

‘Harry, Harry, you’re very confused, you’ve been through a dreadful ordeal, lie back down, now, we’ve got everything under control ...’

‘YOU HAVEN’T!’ Harry yelled. ‘YOU’VE GOT THE WRONG MAN!’

‘Minister, listen, please,’ Hermione said, she had hurried to Harry’s side and was gazing imploringly into Fudge’s face. ‘I saw him, too. It was Ron’s rat, he’s an Animagus, Pettigrew, I mean, and’

‘You see, Minister?’ said Snape. ‘Confunded, both of them ... Black’s done a very good job on them ...’

‘WE’RE NOT CONFUNDED!’ Harry roared.

‘Minister! Professor!’ said Madam Pomfrey angrily. ‘I must insist that you leave. Potter is my patient, and he should not be distressed!’

‘I’m not distressed, I’m trying to tell them what happened!’ Harry said furiously. ‘If they’d just listen’

But Madam Pomfrey suddenly stuffed a large chunk of chocolate into Harry’s mouth. He choked, and she seized the opportunity to force him back onto the bed.

‘Now, please, Minister, these children need care. Please leave’

The door opened again. It was Dumbledore. Harry swallowed his mouthful of chocolate with great difficulty, and got up again.

‘Professor Dumbledore, Sirius Black’

‘For heaven’s sake!’ said Madam Pomfrey hysterically. ‘Is this a hospital wing or not? Headmaster, I must insist’

‘My apologies, Poppy, but I need a word with Mr Potter and Miss Granger,’ said Dumbledore calmly. ‘I have just been talking to Sirius Black’

‘I suppose he’s told you the same fairy tale he’s planted in Potter’s mind?’ spat Snape. ‘Something about a rat, and Pettigrew being alive’

‘That, indeed, is Black’s story,’ said Dumbledore, surveying Snape closely through his half-moon spectacles.

‘And does my evidence count for nothing?’ snarled Snape. ‘Peter Pettigrew was not in the Shrieking Shack, nor did I see any sign of him in the grounds.’

‘That was because you were knocked out, Professor!’ said Hermione earnestly. ‘You didn’t arrive in time to hear’

‘Miss Granger, HOLD YOUR TONGUE!’

‘Now, Snape,’ said Fudge, startled, ‘the young lady is disturbed in her mind, we must make allowances’

‘I would like to speak to Harry and Hermione alone,’ said Dumbledore abruptly. ‘Cornelius, Severus, Poppy please leave us.’

‘Headmaster!’ spluttered Madam Pomfrey. ‘They need treatment, they need rest’

‘This cannot wait,’ said Dumbledore. ‘I must insist.’

Madam Pomfrey pursed her lips and strode away into her office at the end of the ward, slamming the door behind her. Fudge consulted the large gold pocket watch dangling from his waistcoat.

‘The Dementors should have arrived by now,’ he said. ‘I’ll go and meet them. Dumbledore, I’ll see you upstairs.’

He crossed to the door and held it open for Snape, but Snape hadn’t moved.

‘You surely don’t believe a word of Black’s story?’ Snape whispered, his eyes fixed on Dumbledore’s face.

‘I wish to speak to Harry and Hermione alone,’ Dumbledore repeated.

Snape took a step towards Dumbledore.

‘Sirius Black showed he was capable of murder at the age of sixteen,’ he breathed. ‘You haven’t forgotten that, Headmaster? You haven’t forgotten that he once tried to kill me?’

‘My memory is as good as it ever was, Severus,’ said Dumbledore quietly.

Snape turned on his heel and marched through the door Fudge was still holding. It closed behind them and Dumbledore turned to Harry and Hermione. They both burst into speech at the same time.

‘Professor, Black’s telling the truth we saw Pettigrew’

‘he escaped when Professor Lupin turned into a werewolf’

‘he’s a rat’

‘Pettigrew’s front paw, I mean, finger, he cut it off ’

‘Pettigrew attacked Ron, it wasn’t Sirius’

But Dumbledore held up his hand to stem the flood of explanations.

‘It is your turn to listen, and I beg you will not interrupt me, because there is very little time,’ he said quietly. ‘There is not a shred of proof to support Black’s story, except your word and the word of two thirteen-year-old wizards will not convince anybody. A street full of eye-witnesses swore they saw Sirius murder Pettigrew. I myself gave evidence to the Ministry that Sirius had been the Potters’ Secret-Keeper.’

‘Professor Lupin can tell you’ Harry said, unable to stop himself.

‘Professor Lupin is currently deep in the Forest, unable to tell anyone anything. By the time he is human again, it will be too late, Sirius will be worse than dead. I might add that werewolves are so mistrusted by most of our kind that his support will count for very little – and the fact that he and Sirius are old friends’

‘But’

Listen to me, Harry. It is too late, you understand me? You must see that Professor Snape’s version of events is far more convincing than yours.’

‘He hates Sirius,’ Hermione said desperately. ‘All because of some stupid trick Sirius played on him’

‘Sirius has not acted like an innocent man. The attack on the Fat Lady entering Gryffindor Tower with a knife without Pettigrew, alive or dead, we have no chance of overturning Sirius’ sentence.’

But you believe us.’

‘Yes, I do,’ said Dumbledore quietly. ‘But I have no power to make other men see the truth, or to overrule the Minister for Magic ...’

Harry stared up into the grave face and felt as though the ground beneath him was falling sharply away. He had grown used to the idea that Dumbledore could solve anything. He had expected Dumbledore to pull some amazing solution out of the air. But no, their last hope was gone.

‘What we need,’ said Dumbledore slowly, and his light-blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, ‘is more time.’

‘But’ Hermione began. And then her eyes became very round.

‘OH!’

‘Now, pay attention,’ said Dumbledore, speaking very low, and very clearly. ‘Sirius is locked in Professor Flitwick’s office on the seventh floor. Thirteenth window from the right of the West Tower. If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight. But remember this, both of you. You must not be seen. Miss Granger, you know the law, you know what is at stake ... you must not be seen.’

Harry didn’t have a clue what was going on. Dumbledore had turned on his heel and looked back as he reached the door.

‘I am going to lock you in. It is’ he consulted his watch, ‘five minutes to midnight. Miss Granger, three turns should do it. Good luck.’

‘Good luck?’ Harry repeated, as the door closed behind Dumbledore. ‘Three turns? What’s he talking about? What are we supposed to do?’

But Hermione was fumbling with the neck of her robes, pulling from beneath them a very long, very fine gold chain.

‘Harry, come here,’ she said urgently. ‘Quick!

Harry moved towards her, completely bewildered. She was holding the chain out. He saw a tiny, sparkling hour-glass hanging from it.

‘Here’

She had thrown the chain around his neck, too.

‘Ready?’ she said breathlessly.

‘What are we doing?’ Harry said, completely lost.

Hermione turned the hour-glass over three times.

The dark ward dissolved. Harry had the sensation that he was flying, very fast, backwards. A blur of colours and shapes rushed past him; his ears were pounding. He tried to yell but couldn’t hear his own voice.

And then he felt solid ground beneath his feet, and everything came into focus again.

He was standing next to Hermione in the deserted Entrance Hall and a stream of golden sunlight was falling across the paved floor from the open front doors. He looked wildly around at Hermione, the chain of the hour-glass cutting into his neck.

‘Hermione, what?’

‘In here!’ Hermione seized Harry’s arm and dragged him across the hall to the door of a broom cupboard; she opened it, pushed him inside amongst the buckets and mops, followed him in, then slammed the door behind them.

‘What, how, Hermione, what happened?’

‘We’ve gone back in time,’ Hermione whispered, lifting the chain off Harry’s neck in the darkness. ‘Three hours back’

Harry found his own leg and gave it a very hard pinch. It hurt a lot, which seemed to rule out the possibility that he was having a very bizarre dream.

‘But’

‘Shh! Listen! Someone’s coming! I think I think it might be us!’

Hermione had her ear pressed against the cupboard door.

‘Footsteps across the hall ... yes, I think it’s us going down to Hagrid’s!’

‘Are you telling me,’ Harry whispered, ‘that we’re here in this cupboard and we’re out there, too?’

‘Yes,’ said Hermione, her ear still glued to the cupboard door. ‘I’m sure it’s us ... it doesn’t sound like more than three people ... and we’re walking slowly because we’re under the Invisibility Cloak’

She broke off, still listening intently.
‘We’ve gone down the front steps ...’


Hermione sat down on an upturned bucket; looking desperately anxious. Harry wanted a few questions answered.

‘Where did you get that hourglass thing?’


‘It’s called a Time-Turner,’ Hermione whispered, ‘and I got it from Professor McGonagall on our first day back. I’ve been using it all year to get to all my lessons. Professor McGonagall made me swear I wouldn’t tell anyone. She had to write all sorts of letters to the Ministry of Magic so I could have one. She had to tell them that I was a model student, and that I’d never, ever use it for anything except my studies, I’ve been turning it back so I could do hours over again, that’s how I’ve been doing several lessons at once, see? But ...

‘Harry, I don’t understand what Dumbledore wants us to do. Why did he tell us to go back three hours? How’s that going to help Sirius?’

Harry stared at her shadowy face.

‘There must be something that happened around now he wants us to change,’ he said slowly. ‘What happened? We were walking down to Hagrid’s three hours ago ...’

‘This is three hours ago, and we are walking down to Hagrid’s,’ said Hermione. ‘We just heard ourselves leaving ...’

Harry frowned, he felt as though he was screwing up his whole brain in concentration.

‘Dumbledore just said just said we could save more than one innocent life ...’ And then it hit him. ‘Hermione, we’re going to save Buckbeak!’

‘But, how will that help Sirius?’

‘Dumbledore said he just told us where the window is the window of Flitwick’s office! Where they’ve got Sirius locked up! We’ve got to fly Buckbeak up to the window and rescue Sirius! Sirius can escape on Buckbeak they can escape together!’

From what Harry could see of Hermione’s face, she looked terrified.

‘If we manage that without being seen, it’ll be a miracle!’


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling

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