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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Harry Potter #3

"'Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go.'"

When the Knight Bus crashes through the darkness and screeches to a halt in front of him, it's the start of another far from ordinary year at Hogwarts for Harry Potter. Sirius Black, escaped mass-murderer and follower of Lord Voldemort, is on the run – and they say he is coming after Harry. In his first ever Divination class, Professor Trelawney sees an omen of death in Harry's tea leaves… But perhaps most terrifying of all are the Dementors patrolling the school grounds, with their soul-sucking kiss…

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J.K.Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

To Jill Prewett and Aine Kiely, the Godmothers of Swing

– CHAPTER ONE –

Owl Post

Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways. For one thing, he hated the summer holidays more than any other time of year. For another, he really wanted to do his homework, but was forced to do it in secret, in the dead of night. And he also happened to be a wizard.

It was nearly midnight, and he was lying on his front in bed, the blankets drawn right over his head like a tent, a torch in one hand and a large leather-bound book (A History of Magic, by Bathilda Bagshot) propped open against the pillow. Harry moved the tip of his eagle-feather quill down the page, frowning as he looked for something that would help him write his essay, �Witch-Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless – discuss’.

The quill paused at the top of a likely-looking paragraph. Harry pushed his round glasses up his nose, moved his torch closer to the book and read:

Non-magic people (more commonly known as Muggles) were particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, but not very good at recognising it. On the rare occasion that they did catch a real witch or wizard, burning had no effect whatsoever. The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame-Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle, tickling sensation. Indeed, Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being burnt so much that she allowed herself to be caught no fewer than forty-seven times in various disguises.

Harry put his quill between his teeth and reached underneath his pillow for his ink bottle and a roll of parchment. Slowly and very carefully he unscrewed the ink bottle, dipped his quill into it and began to write, pausing every now and then to listen, because if any of the Dursleys heard the scratching of his quill on their way to the bathroom, he’d probably find himself locked in the cupboard under the stairs for the rest of the summer.

The Dursley family of number four, Privet Drive, was the reason that Harry never enjoyed his summer holidays. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and their son, Dudley, were Harry’s only living relatives. They were Muggles, and they had a very medieval attitude towards magic. Harry’s dead parents, who had been a witch and wizard themselves, were never mentioned under the Dursleys’ roof. For years, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had hoped that if they kept Harry as downtrodden as possible, they would be able to squash the magic out of him. To their fury, they had been unsuccessful, and now lived in terror of anyone finding out that Harry had spent most of the last two years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The most the Dursleys could do these days was to lock away Harry’s spellbooks, wand, cauldron and broomstick at the start of the summer holidays, and forbid him to talk to the neighbours.

This separation from his spellbooks had been a real problem for Harry, because his teachers at Hogwarts had given him a lot of holiday work. One of the essays, a particularly nasty