Flight of the Fat Lady

chapter eight of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

As the school year progresses, Quidditch begins, Ron and Hermione begin to fight over Crookshanks, and the third years make their first trip to Hogsmeade, leaving Harry behind. He visits with Lupin instead, though, and still enjoys the Halloween feast that night – until he finds Sirius Black has attempted to break into Gryffindor Tower.

Gryffindor Quidditch Team, by Sheena Kristen Sy

“Gryffindor hasn’t won for seven years now. Okay, so we’ve had the worst luck in the world – injuries – then the tournament getting called off last year….” Wood swallowed, as though the memory still brought a lump to his throat. “But we also know we’ve got the best – ruddy – team – in – the – school.”


That Cat, by deeterhi

“There’s something funny about that animal!” said Ron, who was trying to persuade a frantically wiggling Scabbers back into his pocket.


Ron and Hermione Head to Hogsmeade Without Harry, by Drew Graham

“We’ll bring you lots of sweets back from Honeydukes,” said Hermione, looking desperately sorry for him.


Blue Harry, by Hannah-Dora

Harry wandered dispiritedly toward the library….


The Grindylow, by FrizzyHermione

“Water demon,” said Lupin, surveying the grindlylow thoughtfully. “We shouldn’t have much difficulty with him, not after the kappas.”


by Caladan

Lupin raised his eyebrows. “I would have thought that was obvious, Harry,” he said, sounding surprised…. “I assumed that if the boggart faced you, it would assume the shape of Lord Voldemort.”

(by Caladan)


Snape, Lupin, and Harry, by glockgal

“Ah, Severus,” said Lupin, smiling. “Thanks very much. Could you leave it here on the desk for me?”


by gerre

A shower of brilliantly colored sweets fell into Harry’s lap. It was dusk, and Ron and Hermione had just turned up in the common room, pink-faced from the cold wind and looking as though they’d had the time of their lives.

(by gerre)


Percy Discovers the Fat Lady Missing, by Tealin Raintree

And then a silence fell over the crowd, from the front first, so that a chill seemed to spread down the corridor.


The Flight of the Fat Lady, by Ditraveler

“Oh yes, Professorhead,” said Peeves, with the air of one cradling a large bombshell in his arms. “He got very angry when she wouldn’t let him in, you see.” Peeves flipped over and grinned at Dumbledore from between his own legs. “Nasty temper he’s got, that Sirius Black.”


about the chapter


I love the few times Harry sits down with Lupin during this school year, just to talk – even though Harry doesn’t yet know anything about Lupin’s past, they’re still more or less the only times in Harry’s had anything like a father figure in his life. For someone who’s been so deprived, it just feels good to see him with an adult who so obviously cares about him and respects him.

Life at Hogwarts

Lupin’s lessons for his third years are interesting. They seem fairly easy compared to the rest of Harry’s lessons, and Snape will shortly remark to that effect as well. On the other hand, Snape isn’t exactly unbiased… and Defense Against the Dark Arts is Harry’s best subject… and Lupin seems to be a really good teacher… and a boggart, for example, is certainly a creature that gives some fully grown, capable wizards problems. We’ll even see grindylows give a much older student trouble in the coming years. And to be fair, these are the first real Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons Harry’s class has had, after two years of incapable teachers. So maybe Lupin’s lessons are a bit on the easy side, and perhaps not, but either way they probably aren’t as simplistic as they seem at first glance.

The Boy Who Lived

Harry certainly isn’t perfect, but one of the things I love about Rowling’s writing is that she doesn’t try to pretend he is – as a thirteen-year-old, he’s copying his friend’s homework and contemplating having another friend forge a signature on a permission form. I’m sure more than a few parents hesitate at these sorts of things being included, but it just makes Harry’s experience that much more real to us, and that much more fun to see it through his eyes.

Something to Remember

One thing that’s worth wondering about is not only how Sirius Black managed to slip past the dementors and into Hogwarts, but also how he ripped the Fat Lady’s portrait to such shreds, with entire pieces of fabric lying on the ground below. I wonder if Dumbledore ever asked the Fat Lady for the details of this encounter?

27 Responses to “Flight of the Fat Lady”

  1. Spoiler!
    In something to remember you mention the shredding (and hint possibly at the sirius-being-an-animagus-thing). Couldn’t he have done that with the enourmous knife, which he also had when he finally manages to get into the tower?
    Also, I don’t think that the classes Lupin gives are easy…they seem to be more mental: it’s more focussed on staying calm, following the right path (hinkypunk) don’t let fear overtake you (Boggart) and know what to do in the right situation… these things don’t seem hard for Harry, since he has done that in previous life-treathening situations too….just a thought ^.^

  2. I’m with the other kim on Lupins classes. One of the reasons this is my favorite book is that Lupin is introduced and I really like him as a teacher.

    Great new art by deeterhi. I also really like Glockgal’s picture.

  3. kim, good thinking on the classes.

    Another thought occurred to me, which is that they *cover* more dangerous dark creatures (in Snape’s class he mentions that Kappas were on their test, and Hermione makes it sound like werewolves are on the schedule for later in the year), but that these are too dangerous for Lupin to bring to class – Kappas have an XXXX rating in Fantastic Beasts, and werewolves an XXXXX.

    Meanwhile the creatures we actually see mentioned are simply the more memorable classes, because Lupin can actually bring in a Grindylow (XX), Red Caps (XXX), and boggarts. Perhaps the third-year curriculum is to discuss *all* dark creatures, but Lupin can only bring in ones that walk the fine line between “dangerous enough to cover” and “too dangerous to bring into a school.”

  4. Perhaps Lupin is just a good teacher? I certainly remember from my school years that having a friendly, patient and intelligent teacher made even the hardest subjects seem much easier. [minor spoiler to follow!] For example, we see in later books that with the right coaching, even Neville can succeed at things!

  5. Did Sirius really think that ripping the portrait he was going to be able to go into the tower???? Or was he frustrated???
    Excellent “Something to remember”…

  6. Paula-
    considering Sirius was in Griffindor, I doubt that he thought it would do much good. He was probably just frustrated that he couldn’t get in, especially considering the Fat Lady knew him

  7. Lupin really tugs at my heartstrings. I just adore him – the way he builds up Neville, being friendly and gracious to Snape despite their past…he’s just a decent guy.

    We often think about how Harry or Sirius or even Neville suffered after Voldemort’s fall, but Lupin did too. He’s believed for the last 12 years that one of his dearest friends betrayed James and Lily to their deaths, then murdered Peter. Who did Lupin have left to turn to? He spent so much of his life ostracized and alone and, in one fell swoop, lost all the people who loved and accepted him. Must have been devastating.

  8. @Heather

    That’s my reasoning for why Lupin never went to see Harry. He was too lost in grief to think beyond there deaths. Then he would have just tried to forget the past (along with Harry) and move on. Coming back to Hogwarts must have been hard for Lupin.

  9. I have a question about boggarts. Even if they turn into a dangerous thing, can they actually physically hurt you? I mean, the dementor it turned into for Harry was just upsetting him emotionally without physically touching him. And it said somewhere (I don’t recall, sorry) that Muggle children have encountered boggarts as “the monster under the bed”. It seems to me that if they had done anything to the children, their parents surely wouldn’t have dismissed it as an overactive imagination. What do you guys think?

  10. @Heather: Given their past, I think Snape’s being pretty decent to Lupin, too, here, as Lupin himself will later admit. True, Dumbledore was probably making Snape brew the Wolfsbane and Snape’s too fond of his talent to make it less than perfect (in spite of the chance for a little revenge), but he makes it, well and on time, and brings it over, too.

    Also, one thing I realized just now: if warewolves were scheduled to be covered anyways, Snape teaching them could actually be construed as a favor to Lupin. Of course, Snape did it to stir trouble for Lupin and to spite him… But he also saved him the “pain” of talking about warewolves himself. Can you imagine an O.W.L.s-like scene: “Signs you are dealing with a warewolf: 1) he’s in this classroom; 2) he’s wearing shabby clothes; 3) he’s leaning on the teacher’s desk; 4) he’s been teaching you DADA all year…”

    Curiosity: when you read/think/write “DADA” what do you say in your head? “dada” or “dee-ay-dee-ay”?

  11. Salaa (sorry for the slow response) – It’s never totally clear how many characteristics a boggart takes on when it becomes another creature. On the one hand, when Harry encounters a dementor-boggart with Lupin, he gets the same cold sensations he would with a real dementor, so it seems the boggart has actually *become* a dementor in some sense. On the other hand, when Harry encounters another dementor-boggart in the Triwizard maze, it stumbles, which is what clues him in to the fact that it’s actually a boggart. So I’m not sure we have a satisfactory answer anywhere in canon.

    I don’t recall the quote you bring up about boggarts being “the monster under the bed” – does anybody remember where that’s from? Boggarts aren’t listed in Fantastic Beasts, and I’m not sure where else to check.

  12. RE: The monster under the bed question, here is the site where it’s mentioned. http://www.hp-lexicon.org/bestiary/bestiary_b.html#boggart

  13. Ha, Gingercat, I used to edit that section of the Lexicon! You’d think I would remember….

    I’m not entirely sure where this idea originates, unless Steve or Michelle just made it up when they were writing that entry. The only reference I can find to it anywhere is that Lupin mentions that boggarts like to hide under beds, simply because they’re dark, enclosed spaces. But to go from that to “monster under the bed” seems to me like quite a leap….

  14. as for sirius getting into the castle. werent there several secret passages in and out of the castle? also, in his dog form, maybe the dementors couldnt pick up on him as easily as in human form.

  15. It’s odd that that Lexicon page doesn’t quote it’s reference on that bit, and I can’t find any mention of it anywhere else.

    I agree with the kim, I think Sirius must have used the knife rather than claws because Dumbledore must have talked to her and if she told him Sirius turned into a dog… Well, Dumbledore seemed like it was news to him when Sirius told him at the end so I don’t think she could have.

  16. @ Irene M. Cesca – DADA = “dee-ay-dee-ay” for me

  17. One thig I just noticed in reading this chapter is that Harry is about to tell Lupin about seeing a big black dog near him, bit doesn’t want to seem paranoid. I bet if he had told him, Lupid might have known a lot sooner just how close Sirius was to Harry, but didn’t attack him or anything. This might have helped lead him to the correct conclution sooner. Though, on second thought it might not have really affected anything.

    And to Irene, I say dada!

  18. Irene, I tend to switch between the two. At first I read it as “dada” but then go back and read it as “dee-ay-dee-ay” just cause I’m weird that way =P

    Josie, I never thought boggarts being the monster under the bed was a great leap, myself. When I read that in the book, I immediately thought to myself that that must be what the monster under the bed was for children. At least in this universe, anyway.

    And I don’t think Dumbledore would have to force Snape to make the potion. Because if he didn’t, they’d have a very unstable werewolf walking around the school. Snape knows about the passage to the Shrieking Shack, and would have been afraid Lupin would either use it to get back to Hogwarts and potentially hurt the students, or could very well escape into Hogsmeade. These could both happen if Lupin didn’t take the potion. So, seeing as how he has to live with Dumbledore’s choice to bring Lupin in as a teacher, he has no other choice but to make the potion for him. I also think Snape meant to tip off some students (possibly just Hermione) about werewolves by doing that creature in the class that day. Of course, you’re right, it has the potential to save Lupin the embarrassment of teaching the class about a werewolf, but I don’t think that was his intent. Besides, I think a part of Lupin would love to teach the class about werewolves, because then he could teach them the sad part about being a werewolf, giving them a little bit of lee-way for being such sad creatures. Whereas Snape would love to make them all out to be blood-thirsty evil beasts.

  19. A question I have is why doesn’t Sirius try to correspond with Harry during this year. Clearly he would not want Harry to think him a murderer and their are plenty of ways he could have written to him.

    He could do simple math (I asuume) and would realise that Harry would at least be at school at this time, he could even assume that he was in Gryffindor because both his parents were. Next, he had Crookshanks halping him (what is that cat’s story anyway? maybe he’s an unnamed animagus, in either case he;s too smart to be a regular cat), and he could have told Padfoot that Harry slept in the same dorm as the rat that Sirius was after.

    So why not get Crookshanks to deliver a letter to Harry, it would have saved both of them a lot of anguish.

  20. Lewis, the deal with Crookshanks is that he’s not just a cat, he’s a Kneazle – it’s a magical sort of cat that is much smarter. The same is true of Mrs. Norris and Mrs. Figg’s cats. There’s a description of them in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

    In terms of Sirius not corresponding with Harry, all of his actions point to his having a higher priority – seeking revenge on Pettigrew. If you think about what Harry thinks of Sirius, it’s hard for me to imagine Sirius could have put anything in writing that would have changed his mind. Harry had to see Sirius transform Pettigrew into a rat and confront him about murdering James and Lily; only then did Sirius have any hope of being taken seriously.

  21. I’m on same terms with you that Harry wouldn’t have belived anything Sirius had wrote. But you think he would try…

    I mean in subsequent books he clearly cares deeply about Harry, he cares about what his Godson thinks of him.

    With the kneazles, it is actually quite funny. About 5 minutes after I posted the above coment, I went through one of your links to JKR’s website and started exploring. It turns out she says what Crookshanks is about a dozen times.

    Shame on me for only ever reading the books :(

  22. I think that Sirius lived in the Forbidden Forest ever since he slipped past the dementors on his way to Hogwarts, and since they weren’t alowed on the grounds, they had no way of knowing he was there, so he simply could have just left the forest as a dog and slipped into the castle.

  23. @Josie; I also immidiatley thought of the “monster under the bed” when reading that boggarts like the space underneath the beds. Seeing that they turn into anything you’re scared of, and small children are often scared of some kind of monster, I don’t see it as such a big leap :) Perhaps the stories of monsters under the beds originally come from cases with boggarts? It’s a shame we know so little about these creatures/whatever they are – for example, would they be visible to Muggles? Maybe only Muggle children? Who knows.

  24. Snape could have been horrible to Lupin behind his back (letting slip he’s a werewolf, giving students hints about his true nature), but at least, he has the decency not to sabotage the Wolfsbane Potion in a year of concocting it. And I agree with what Casey said – given Snape’s intent to protect Harry against all costs, he has no choice but to ensure Lupin doesn’t morph into werewolf form while he was teaching at Hogwarts, that’s why he didn’t sabotage the potion. It must have a been a pretty relaxing year for Lupin – a year of remaining in human form all throughout.

  25. Oops, sorry for double-posting. I just realized he DOES turn into a werewolf even after drinking the potion; it’s just that he doesn’t ‘lose his mind’ and go into a rampage. Still, a breather year for Lupin. ;)

  26. As mean and evil as Snape acts, I don’t think he’s keen on having students attacked by a werewolf. That alone is enough for him to make the Wolfsbane potion correctly. Plus with Dumbledore knowing he’s making it… there’s no way he’d mess that up. He may hate Lupin, but he’s not going to take it out on the students. He’s a good teacher in that way. (It almost pains me to write that.)

  27. Erin, this isn’t really the point of what you said, but I thought I’d go off on this tangent

    Never really does it say that Snape’s not a good teacher in general. He must be, because it’s very doubtful that Dumbledore, or the School Governors, would keep him around if he was a bully AND a terrible teacher. The only reason, I think, that he’s portrayed as inept is because we’re seeing it through Harry’s eyes, a very biased source.

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