Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’: Chapter 19

In the nineteenth chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape. And then: Pettigrew. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


It’s kind of a good thing that I waited so long after finishing chapter 18 to attempt to read/review chapter 19, because the mindfuckery simply doesn’t stop.

  • “Severus, you’re making a mistake,” said Lupin urgently. “You haven’t heard anything–I can explain–Sirius is not here to kill Harry–“

So this is what hadn’t been resolved in the previous two chapters and I, frankly, don’t understand this. Is it ok to say that this is slightly irritating and absurd? Yes, I’m willing to completely suspend belief because–well, let’s be honest. They’re arguing over a guy who turned into a rat.

But it seems a bit absurd that this entire confrontation is based on simply…talking? Like, Sirius wants to explain himself, and then Lupin did, and now they both just want to explain things to Severus.

That’s a lot of talking. Why do I think this is so weird? Maybe because I’m splitting the chapters up, but I feel like they’ve been standing in that room for hours. And don’t forget: Ron has a broken leg throughout all of this.

  • Hermione, however, took an uncertain step toward Snape and said, in a very breathless voice, “Professor Snape–it–it wouldn’t hurt to hear what they’ve got to say, w–would it?”

Thank you, Hermione, for possessing all of the logics.

  • “Miss Granger, you are already facing suspension from this school,” Snape spat. “You, Potter, and Weasley are out-of-bounds, in the company of a convicted murderer and a werewolf. For once in your life, hold your tongue.”


  • “KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL!” Snape shouted, looking suddenly quite deranged. “DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!”

Ok, I’m definitely done being “intrigued” by Snape. GOD, HE IS SUCH AN ASSHOLE, GUYS. And this whole “I’m going to be a raging bumface” attitude is just getting…tired? Like…he seriously can’t be this unhappy all the time, right?

  • “The joke’s on you again, Severus,” Black snarled. “As long as this boy brings his rat up to the castle”–he jerked his head at Ron–“I’ll come quietly….”

    “Up to the castle?” said Snape silkily. “I don’t think we need to go that far. All I have to do is call the dementors once we get out of the Willow. They’ll be very pleased to see you, Black…pleased enough to give you a little kiss, I daresay….”

    “What little color there was in Black’s face left it.

    “You–you’ve got to hear met out,” he croaked. “The rat–look at the rat–“


  • “Professor Lupin could have killed me about a hundred times this year,” Harry said. “I’ve been alone with him loads of times, having defense lessons against the dementors. If he was helping Black, why didn’t he just finish me off them?”

Thank you, Harry, for possessing all the logics.


    “SILENCE! I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO LIKE THAT!” Snape shrieked, looking madder than ever. “Like father, like son, Potter! I have saved your neck; you should be thanking me on bended knee! You would have been well served if he’d killed you! You’d have died like your father, too arrogant to believe you might be mistaken in Black–now get out of the way, or I will make you. GET OUT OF THE WAY, POTTER!”

OH MY GOD THIS IS INSANE. I love that Harry is finally standing up in such a direct manner to Snape and I’m starting to think, unlike his previous confrontation with him, he’s actually justified in his anger. And, in a way, it is sort of pathetic that Snape is attaching his decades-old hatred of James Potter onto his son.

And then…well…..

  • “Expelliarmus!” he yelled–except that his wasn’t the only voice that shouted. There was a blast that made the door rattle on its hinges; Snape was lifted off his feet and slammed into the wall, then slid down it to the floor, a trickle of blood oozing from under his hair. He had been knocked out.

    Harry looked around. Both Ron and Hermione had tried to disarm Snape at exactly the same moment. Snape’s wand soared in a high arc and landed on the bed next to Crookshanks.

Love you dearly, Ron and Hermione. Dearly.

And the moment of truth arrives: Lupin demands Ron hand over Scabbers/Pettigrew to prove to them that the rat is indeed an Animagus.

Thankfully (and acting as the voice of the audience, MAINLY MY BRAIN), Ron isn’t so convinced that things are this simple:

  • “Come off it,” he said weakly. “Are you trying to say he broke out of Azkaban just to get his hands on Scabbers? I mean…” He looked up at Harry and Hermione for support. “Okay, say Pettigrew could turn into a rat–there are millions of rats–how’s he supposed to know which one he’s after if he was locked up in Azkaban?”

TOUCHE, RON. Well-played!

  • Black put one of his clawlike hands inside his robes and took out a crumbled piece of paper, which he smoothed flat and held out to show the others.

    It was the photograph of Ron and his family that had appeared in the Daily Prophet the previous summer, and there, on Ron’s shoulder, was Scabbers.

    “How did you get this?” Lupin asked Black, thunderstruck.

    “Fudge,” said Black. “When he came to inspect Azkaban last year, he gave me his paper. And there was Peter, on the front page…on this boy’s shoulder….I knew him at once…how many times had I seen him transform? And the caption said the boy would be going back to Hogwarts…to where Harry was….”

I literally do not know how much more mindfuckery I can take. I’m really enjoying how Rowling doesn’t seem to like leaving loose ends; in this case, both the newspaper clipping and Black’s “He is at Hogwarts…” comment both come together to turn my brain to mush.

But, as you all said, I wasn’t prepared.

  • “Just before he transformed,” said Black. “When I cornered him, he yelled for the whole street to hear that I’d betrayed Lily and James. Then, before I could curse him, he blew apart the street with the wand behind his back, killed everyone withing twenty feet of himself–and sped down into the sewer with the other rats….”

Wait. Wait. Wait. What? What? WHAT??????

What the fuck? Wait. So….wait. What?

  • “Didn’t you ever hear, Ron?” said Lupin. “The biggest bit of Peter they found was his finger.”

Which he cut off himself to make it look like Black had murdered him. Which he didn’t.

Oh. Oh my god. Wait. This means….oh my god. My brain. I can’t process this. Wait. Wait. WHAT.

Sirius Black further explains what really happened: Crookshanks is actually more than just any old cat; he’s highly intelligent and recognized that both Scabbers and the Grim were not what they seemed. Crookshanks stole the Gryffindor passwords. Scabbers didn’t get eaten; he (Pettigrew) attempted to fake his own death.


My head. My poor head.

And then, even more:

  • “Harry…I as good as killed them,” he croaked. “I persuaded Lily and James to change to Peter at the last moment, persuaded them to use him as a Secret-Keeper instead of me….I’m to blame, I know it….The night they died, I’d arranged to check on Peter, make sure he was still safe, but when I arrived at his hiding place, he’d gone. Yet there was no sign of a struggle. It didn’t feel right. I was scared. I set out for your parents’ house straight away. And when I saw their house, destroyed, and their bodies…I realized what Peter must’ve done…what I’d done….”

Holy shit. So….Sirius Black’s entire identity, constructed throughout this book by everyone except for himself…is completely untrue?

Oh god, please don’t let him be lying in order to trick Harry. This is so fascinating and unexpected. why hello there character depth.

Ron finally agrees to trust Lupin and Black and hands over Scabbers. The two of them, armed with their wands, force Scabbers to turn into Peter Pettigrew. And shit gets even realer.

  • “He’s got dark powers the rest of us can only dream of!” Pettigrew shouted shrilly. “How else did he get out of there? I suppose He-Who-Must-Not-Be_Named taught him a few tricks!”

    Black started to laugh, a horrible, mirthless laugh that filled the whole room.

    “Voldemort, team me tricks?” he said.

    Pettigrew flinched as though Black had brandished a whip at him.

    “What, scared to hear your old master’s name?” said Black. “I don’t blame you, Peter. His lot aren’t very happy with you, are they?”

Wait…what? Peter’s master is Voldemort? Not Sirius Black? WHAT????

  • “You haven’t been hiding from me for twelve years,” said Black. “You’ve been hiding from Voldemort’s old supporters. I heard things in Azkaban, Peter….They all think you’re dead, or you’d have to answer to them….I’ve heard them screaming all sorts of things in their sleep. Sounds like they think the doble-crosser double-crossed them. Voldemort went to the Potters’ on your information…and Voldemort met his downfall there. And not all Voldemort’s supporters ended up in Azkaban, did they? They are still plenty out here, biding their time, pretending they’ve seen the error of their ways….If they ever got wind that you were still alive, Peter–“

I gotta say. Despite that this is a bunch of villains/heroes monologuing at the end of a book (WHICH WE HAVE CLEARLY NEVER SEEN IN OUR ENTIRE LIVES AND CERTAINLY NOT RIGHT IN THIS VERY SERIES), I’m still mighty impressed with the complex plot web Rowling’s created and how this relates to our presumptive thoughts about the characters.

  • “Lily and James only made you Secret-Keeper because I suggested it,” Black hissed, so venomously that Pettigrew took a step backward. “I thought it was the perfect plan…a bluff….Voldemort would be sure to come after me, would never dream they’d use a weak, talentless thing like you….It must have been the finest moment of your miserable life, telling Voldemort you could hand him the Potters.”

JESUS. Also…ugh…Ron, Hermione, and Harry haven’t said anything for like 3 pages. It’s kind of odd?

  • “Professor Lupin?” said Hermione timidly. “Can–can I say something?”


  • “Well–Scabbers–I mean, this–this man–he’s been sleeping in Harry’s dormitory for three years. If he’s working for You-Know-Who, how come he never tried to hurt Harry before now?”

Oh, Hermione. You are the pitch-perfect voice of the reader.

  • “I’ll tell you why,” said Black. “Because you never did anything for anyone unless you could see what was in it for you. Voldemort’s been in hiding for fifteen years, they say he’s half dead. You weren’t about to commit murder right under Albus Dumbledore’s nose, for a wreck of a wizard who’d lost all of his power, were you? You’d want to be quite sure he was the biggest bully in the playground before you went back to him, wouldn’t you? Why else did you find a wizarding family to take you in? Keeping an ear out for news, weren’t you, Peter? Just in case your old protector regained strength, and it was safe to rejoin him….”

This is interesting because it presents a dilemma for Ron. If this is indeed true, the rat he’s loved and protected for years has only been using him. And Ron isn’t exactly a forgiving, sympathetic person when wronged, as we’ve seen throughout the book with his interaction with Hermione. I smell a backfire.

I liked that Black explains his survival in Azkaban on his Animagi ability and the fact that the dementors couldn’t take away his obsession upon learning that Peter was alive and that he now had a chance to prove he was innocent. Much like the larger theme of this book, Black had lived in a place of the utmost fear. When he saw that photo in the Daily Prophet, he finally found something to combat that fear: hope.

  • “Believe me,” croaked Black. “Believe me, Harry. I never betrayed James and Lily. I would have died before I betrayed them.”

    And at long last, Harry believed him. Throat too tight to speak, he nodded.

Man, what an emotional moment for Harry. Honestly, I can’t imagine what this kind of situation would feel like. Throughout this book, his entire feelings about the people in his life have been uprooted and now, facing who he thought was his mortal enemy, he’s being mind-melted again.


  • Both Black and Lupin strode forward, seized Pettigrew’s shoulders, and threw him backward onto the floor. He sat there, twitching with terror, staring up at them.

    “You sold Lily and James to Voldemort,” said Black, who was shaking too. “Do you deny it?”

    Pettigrew burst into tears. It was horrible to watch, like an oversized, balding baby, cowering on the floor.

    “Sirius, Sirius, what could I have done? The Dark Lord…you have no idea…he has weapons you can’t imagine….I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and James. I never meant it to happen….He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named forced me–“



  • “You don’t understand!” whined Pettigrew. “He would have killed me, Sirius!”


Am I….am I falling deeply in love with Sirius Black? What is happening, guys???

  • “NO!” Harry yelled. He ran forward, placing himself in front of Pettigrew, facing the wands. “You can’t kill him,” he said breathlessly. “You can’t.”

OH HARRY. YOU ARE SO ~*noble*~

  • “Harry, this piece of vermin is the reason you have no parents,” Black snarled. “This cringing bit of filth would have seen you die too, without turning a hair. You heard him. His own stinking skin meant more to him than your whole family.”

True, but Harry’s under control of his anger now. (Recall just a chapter or two ago when Harry’s rage actually inspired the thought of murder in him.) He tells Black that he’d rather see Pettigrew suffer in Azkaban than be killed.

  • “Harry!” gasped Pettigrew, and he flung his arms around Harry’s knees. “You–thank you–it’s more than I deserve–thank you–”

    “Get off me,” Harry spat, throwing Pettigrew’s hands off him in disgust. “I’m not doing this for you I’m doing it because–I don’t reckon my dad would’ve wanted them to become killers–just for you.”

I love you, Harry Potter. What a wonderfully subtle insult to Pettigrew’s character.

And so they leave the Shrieking Shack:

  • Black conjured heavy manacles from thin air; soon Pettigrew was upright again, left arm chained to Lupin’s right, right arm to Ron’s left. Ron’s face was set. He seemed to have taken Scabbers’s true identity as a personal insult. Crookshanks leapt lightly off the bed and led the way out of the room, his bottlebrush tail held jauntily high.

My brain hurts.

This is an interesting situation and I expect in the coming chapters, we’ll resolve the big question I have now: How on earth are Harry and company going to explain what just happened to everyone else?

Oh boy.