The unimaginable horrors

Hagrid describes what it's like inside the walls of the wizarding prison

Extract from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

by J.K. Rowling

At last, after many more assurances of help, with a steaming mug of tea in front of him, Hagrid blew his nose on a handkerchief the size of a tablecloth and said, ‘Yer right. I can’ afford to go ter pieces. Gotta pull meself together ...’

Fang the boarhound came timidly out from under the table and laid his head on Hagrid’s knee.

‘I’ve not bin meself lately,’ said Hagrid, stroking Fang with one hand and mopping his face with the other. ‘Worried abou’ Buckbeak, an’ no one likin’ me classes –’

‘We do like them!’ lied Hermione at once.

‘Yeah, they’re great!’ said Ron, crossing his fingers under the table. ‘Er – how are the Flobberworms?’

‘Dead,’ said Hagrid gloomily. ‘Too much lettuce.’

‘Oh, no!’ said Ron, his lip twitching.

‘An’ them Dementors make me feel ruddy terrible an’ all,’ said Hagrid, with a sudden shudder. ‘Gotta walk past ’em ev’ry time I want a drink in the Three Broomsticks. ’S like bein’ back in Azkaban –’

He fell silent, gulping his tea. Harry, Ron and Hermione watched him breathlessly. They had never heard Hagrid talk about his brief spell in Azkaban before. After a brief pause, Hermione said timidly, ‘Is it awful in there, Hagrid?’

‘Yeh’ve no idea,’ said Hagrid quietly. ‘Never bin anywhere like it. Thought I was goin’ mad. Kep’ goin’ over horrible stuff in me mind ... the day I got expelled from Hogwarts ... day me Dad died ... day I had ter let Norbert go ...’

His eyes filled with tears. Norbert was the baby dragon Hagrid had once won in a game of cards.

‘Yeh can’ really remember who yeh are after a while. An’ yeh can’ see the point o’ livin’ at all. I used ter hope I’d jus’ die in me sleep ... when they let me out, it was like bein’ born again, ev’rythin’ came floodin’ back, it was the bes’ feelin’ in the world. Mind, the Dementors weren’t keen on lettin’ me go.’

‘But you were innocent!’ said Hermione.

Hagrid snorted.

‘Think that matters to them? They don’ care. Long as they’ve got a couple o’ hundred humans stuck there with ’em, so they can leech all the happiness out of ’em, they don’ give a damn who’s guilty an’ who’s not.’

Hagrid went quiet for a moment, staring into his tea. Then he said quietly, ‘Thought o’ jus’ letting Buckbeak go ... tryin’ ter make him fly away ... but how d’yeh explain ter a Hippogriff it’s gotta go inter hidin’? An’ – an’ I’m scared o’ breakin’ the law ...’ He looked up at them, tears leaking down his face again. ‘I don’ ever want ter go back ter Azkaban.'

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By J.K. Rowling