The Leaky Cauldron

chapter four of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry spends his last weeks of vacation in Diagon Alley, finally meeting up with Ron and Hermione (who buys a new cat). On the last night, though, Harry overhears Mr. and Mrs. Weasley talking, and learns that Sirius Black has escaped to come after him.

Diagon Alley, by NicoPony

Diagon Alley… was packed with the most fascinating wizarding shops in the world.


Three Gryffindors, by Jeni Malament

They were there, both of them… Ron looking incredibly freckly, Hermione very brown.


Ron & Scabbers, by glockgal

“It’s my rat,” he told the witch. “He’s been a bit off-color ever since I brought him back from Egypt.”


Gorgeous, by gerre

“You bought that monster?”

(by gerre)


In Front of the Magical Menagerie, by Marta T

“And what about Scabbers?” said Ron, pointing at the lump in his chest pocket. “He needs rest and relaxation! How’s he going to get it with that thing around?”

(by Marta T)


Ginny Weasley, by LMRourke

Ginny, who had always been very taken with Harry, seemed even more heartily embarrassed than usual when she saw him.


The Leaky Cauldron, by White Elzora

Dinner that night was a very enjoyable affair. Tom the innkeeper put three tables together in the parlor, and the seven Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione ate their way through five delicious courses.


Harry, by Sanna Lorenzen

Sirius Black was after him. This explained everything.


about the chapter


I love the little lines that Rowling drops into this chapter that are hints of things to come. A wizard ogling the Firebolt mentions that the Irish international team has ordered them; we’ll see them play on those very brooms in the next book. And virtually every creature in the Magical Menagerie is described in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,, which Rowling released later as well. These are just tiny little hints of a world with far more to it than she ever managed to fit into the books, and it’s one of the reasons they’re so beloved (by me, anyway ;) ).

The Wizarding World

I love the offhanded comment the Flourish & Blotts manager makes to Harry when he’s looking at the book of Death Omens: “Oh, I wouldn’t read that if I were you. You’ll start seeing death omens everywhere. It’s enough to frighten anyone to death.” Maybe Hermione’s later comment that wizards die because they’ve seen the omens has something to it.

The Power of Magic

So the Firebolt can accelerate… to one hundred and fifty miles per hour? We already know that wizards have some innate abilities that Muggles don’t, like for instance staying in one piece after long falls, or living through car crashes. It’s pretty clear from this they also have some sort of ability to tolerate winds that would knock any of us clean off of something so small as a broom (or maybe it’s a spell built into the broom). But still… how could anyone ever see a Quaffle, much less a Snitch, while traveling that fast? Surely it can’t be done very often during the games. Either way, that’s one heck of a broom.

The Boy Who Lived

These two weeks Harry spends at Diagon Alley are almost entirely unique in his childhood, in that he has what he describes as “freedom.” He’s not living under tyrants, or strict school rules; he’s not worrying about when he’ll next go after Voldemort, or anyone who might be trying to come after him; and he just feels like a normal kid. Sadly, it will be quite a long time before Harry experiences anything remotely like these two weeks again.

Something to Remember

Ron mentions that Scabbers hasn’t been looking well “ever since I brought him back from Egypt.” Ron will claim later that Crookshanks is to blame for Scabbers’s being ill, but there’s another, very specific reason that Ron would never guess in a million years.

24 Responses to “The Leaky Cauldron”

  1. I love prisoner of Azkaban! It has the unique ability to be so incredibly detailed, that when you read back, you can say to yourself: “Why didn’t I notice that? How could I be so stupid?” Rowling’s other books have that too, off course, but I think that this book had me riddled the most troughout the first reading…
    btw, if wizards can perform invisible cushion-charms on a broom, they would probably have something against the enourmous wind too…

  2. I just never get tired of seeing Gerre’s illustrations, I love them so much! They are the essence of Harry Potter to me.
    Oh and now when I re-read this chapter these days I always get a little sad because Florean Fortescue, who’s so nice to Harry here, is later said to have “disapeared” from his shop in HBP, dragged off and probably murdered by the DE :_(

  3. Perhaps broomsticks are, like Muggle cars, sometimes made with the capability to go faster than most wizards can normally ride. There aren’t too many places a Muggle could (legally) take advantage of a car that can move at 100mph, but speed is a selling feature nonetheless. Although, since we never hear anything about speed regulations in Quidditch, I suppose if a player could learn to maneuver at 150mph, it’d be to his advantage.

  4. I agree with kim. When I got to the end of the book (I couldn’t stop reading, I went to bed at 3 am on a school night) I thought about all the hints JKR throws along it. And the story, I mean, I don’t wanna give anything away, but I think this book it’s so unique because it’s about Harry’s personal history (which is also related to Voldemor, but in this case not directly).

  5. Some of my all-time Fred and George scenes happen in this chapter. “Mum, how really corking to see you!”

  6. Wouldn’t you love to hear Molly’s story about the love potion that she tells to Hermione and Ginny?

  7. Billie, I agree! :)

  8. I’ve never understood what was meant by “hermione looking brown” can anyone explain this to me?

  9. Nerdeegirl, it’s talking about a sun tan, as she spent her summer vacationing in the south of France.

  10. I love this chapter so much! Diagon Alley is definitely a place I’d like to spend a couple of weeks. It’s possibly my favourite place in the wizarding world. I wish they’d built Diagon Alley in Florida instead of Hogsmede (not that I’m knocking the park, I haven’t been yet, but I’d just LOVE to stroll down Diagon Alley).

    PoA is like a transition book in the series. It still has the childlike wonder of the first two but with the darker, more serious nature of the later books just starting to come in. Much like a child first hitting their teens, as Harry is.

  11. in this chapter when harry enters flourish & blotts,
    tha manager comes “hurrying up”
    and asks harry if he is from hogwarts and has come to get his new books, as harry says yes, he opens the cage in which the monster book of monsters are kept.
    how did the manager know that harry is taking care of magical creatures????

  12. Good question. The only answer I can think of off the top of my head is that he didn’t, he was assuming out of frustration. Perhaps the last few students who’d come in all wanted the book. “Of COURSE he’s taking Care of Magical Creatures, because that’s just my luck to have to open that cage AGAIN!”

  13. Re: The Boy Who Lived Section
    Harry actually spends not just two but *three* happy weeks at Diagon Alley. Even better! (Fudge mentions there are three weeks left in the holidays in the previous chapter).

    And it seems that Harry is not only motivated to do schoolwork while at the Dursleys, but that life at Diagon Alley is also conducive to his being a good student He finishes all his summer essays while sitting at Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlour. I’m surprised that despite his new found freedom Harry has this much discipline to get his schoolwork done.

  14. I think care of magical creatures was a required coarse up until a certain year, didn’t they all choose not to take it ass soon as they could, hurting Hagrid’s feelings.

  15. Paul Menkens, Care of Magical Creatures was one of the optional courses (like Divination, Arithmancy, etc.) that students could sign up for beginning third year. Once they signed up, though, it seems they were stuck with it through fifth year. Then after O.W.L.s everything changes again.

  16. I love this chapter! It’s always been one of my favorites in the whole series. I just always feel so envious of Harry in this chapter, because of all the freedom that he has given to him at such an early age. When I was thirteen, I’d be stalked by my mother the whole time I’d go to hang out with my friends! And to spend three whole weeks by yourself, basically living like an adult (even making adult decisions like not spending all of your money on things you don’t really need) has just always fascinated me! Wish I could live in Diagon Alley for a few weeks alone!

    And I also was very interested in the speed of the brooms, and how modern physics would probably say it’s impossible to go that fast on something as small as broomstick with no wind protection without falling off. But then again, this IS the Wizarding world. I wouldn’t be surprised if a wizard’s fortitude would keep them on, or their were some kind of wind-breaking charm. I’ve also always wondered what that Unbreakable Braking Charm is on the broomstick. Anyone have any ideas? The Firebolt also seems to have the speed capabilities as a Ferrari or some kind of exotic sports car – it goes about 0 – 60 in 4 seconds! It’s no wonder it’s such a sought out mode of transportation =P

  17. I’ve always loved how the manager in Flourish and Blotts suddenly transforms into an assistant after getting Unfogging the Future for Harry. The imprecise branch of magic, Divination, lowers other people’s opinion of you as well~

  18. When Mr. and Mrs. Weasley are arguing and he says that the Azkaban guards told Fudge that Sirius had been talking in his sleep… how did they manage that? A couple of other times in the book characters are mentioned to ‘talk’ to the Dementors, but I’ve always been curious as to how that would work

  19. I really like that the Leaky Cauldron is also a kind of hostel. It’s just such a cool place – working as a passage between the Muggle world and the wizarding world, it must be the perfect place to see weird people like the ones Harry observe.
    I also really like this chapter, it has a warmth and peace to it that’s really nice.

  20. I just love Crookshanks. He has been an interesting character to talk about. The shop owner said that he had been there for ages, and no one wanted him. How long is ages? He attacked Scabbers at the first sight of the rat because, we’ll later find out, he figured out something wrong about this rat, something that wizards couldn’t realize. Is a cat can be that intelligent? Yeah, I know we are talking about the wizarding world, but he still seemed to be too smart. What if that was not the first time he saw the rat, or, in later case, the dog? It’s just a theory, but we know that twelve years ago, there was a cat in a family, which almost got killed by their one-year-old dark-haired boy when he rode his first broomstick on his birthday. When his parents died and the house was destroyed, we never know what happened to the cat. If it’s the case and the cat is actually Crookshanks, it can be explained why he recognized the rat and the dog in these situations… We can only guess. ;)

  21. Re: The Power of Magic. The Firebolt even has an unbreakable braking charm installed! Too bad that Harry’s Nimbus Two Thousand lacks this.

    Re: Something To Remember: At this point of my rereading the books, I’d really like to know how Scabbers/Peter Pettigrew ended up with the Weasley family in the first place! Curious off-cam bit, don’t you think?

    It’s so heartwarming to see Harry being so carefree in this short span of time. He actually deserves it!

    Adele, I am also wondering about that. From the descriptions we gathered about Dementors, it seems unlikely that they could even talk. Just my inference, though. I wish somebody would clear this question.

  22. Something you may not have noticed, when Harry firsts see the Firebolt at Quality Quidditch Supplies, the proprietor says that the Irish National Team bought seven Firebolts and are favorites for the World Cup.

  23. I think this is one of the few chapters I got annoyed at Fred and George. I can’t remember if I have felt like this previously or if it’s a new feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I find it funny when they’re copying Percy and being overly formal. It’s just at the end of the chapter. Their actions annoyed Percy (i.e. they had the desired effect) but they also gave Ron unwanted bother. It all seems so trivial and childlike when you compare it with what Harry has just found out. I know JKR probably intended us to juxtapose the twins fun with Harry’s hardship but they just annoy me for some reason here. They haven’t previously so I’m not sure if it’s because I’m maturing and seeing it differently or if it’s just a one off. It’s going to be interesting to see what my view of them is throughout the rest of the series (if I ever get a chance to fit in reading alongside my uni work).

  24. I wonder why noone wanted Crookshanks?

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