When Sirius Black attacks

The Gryffindor common room is in chaos after Ron wakes to the sight of an escaped convict holding a knife

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling

Ron was sitting up in bed, the hangings torn from one side, a look of the utmost terror on his face.

‘Black! Sirius Black! With a knife!’


‘Here! Just now! Slashed the curtains! Woke me up!’

‘You sure you weren’t dreaming, Ron?’ said Dean.

‘Look at the curtains! I tell you, he was here!’

They all scrambled out of bed; Harry reached the dormitory door first, and they sprinted back down the staircase. Doors opened behind them, and sleepy voices called after them.

‘Who shouted?’

‘What’re you doing?’

The common room was lit by the glow of the dying fire, still littered with debris from the party. It was deserted.

‘Are you sure you weren’t dreaming, Ron?’ ‘I’m telling you, I saw him!’

‘What’s all the noise?’

‘Professor McGonagall told us to go to bed!’

A few of the girls had come down their staircase, pulling on dressing-gowns and yawning. Boys, too, were reappearing.

‘Excellent, are we carrying on?’ said Fred Weasley brightly.

‘Everyone back upstairs!’ said Percy, hurrying into the common room and pinning his Head Boy badge to his pyjamas as he spoke.

‘Perce – Sirius Black!’ said Ron faintly. ‘In our dormitory! With a knife! Woke me up!’

The common room went very still.

‘Nonsense!’ said Percy, looking startled. ‘You had too much to eat, Ron – had a nightmare –’

‘I’m telling you –’

‘Now, really, enough’s enough!’

Professor McGonagall was back. She slammed the portrait behind her as she entered the common room and stared furiously around.

‘I am delighted that Gryffindor won the match, but this is getting ridiculous! Percy, I expected better of you!’

‘I certainly didn’t authorise this, Professor!’ said Percy, puffing himself up indignantly. ‘I was just telling them all to get back to bed! My brother Ron here had a nightmare –’


Professor McGonagall stared at him.

‘Don’t be ridiculous, Weasley, how could he possibly have got through the portrait hole?’

‘Ask him!’ said Ron, pointing a shaking finger at the back of Sir Cadogan’s picture. ‘Ask him if he saw –’

Glaring suspiciously at Ron, Professor McGonagall pushed the portrait back open and went outside. The whole common room listened with bated breath.

‘Sir Cadogan, did you just let a man enter Gryffindor Tower?’

‘Certainly, good lady!’ cried Sir Cadogan.

There was a stunned silence, both inside and outside the common room.

‘You – you did?’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘But – but the password!’

‘He had ’em!’ said Sir Cadogan proudly. ‘Had the whole week’s, my lady! Read ’em off a little piece of paper!’

Professor McGonagall pulled herself back through the portrait hole to face the stunned crowd. She was white as chalk.

‘Which person,’ she said, her voice shaking, ‘which abysmally foolish person wrote down this week’s passwords and left them lying around?’

There was utter silence, broken by the smallest of terrified squeaks. Neville Longbottom, trembling from head to fluffy- slippered toes, raised his hand slowly into the air.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling