The Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16: It’s All Finally Happening

No gifs or pictures or captions for me today. This is not a chapter that lends itself to humor. This is a chapter that explodes, illuminating the final act of the book and setting that act into motion. It is the chapter where shit gets real.

It’s also a chapter of lovely little character moments. JKR is a smart lady and she shows the way Ron and Hermione are all a little bit different after this, not just Harry. Ron and Hermione and Harry are 13 and they are growing up. Time carries on, whether you have a Time Turner or not.

Side note: I’ve loved time travel stories since I was a kid and I love what this story is doing and where it’s going. It’s complex and sophisticated and helps launch the series into a new direction. And I’m so glad that Hermione gets to have this adventure – unlike Rachel McAdams who is about to appear in her third time travel movie without ever being allowed to travel through time.

The chapter begins with exams approaching. Percy is tense and even the Weasley twins are working and oh my god, I am so glad I don’t have to do do that anymore. Seriously, the best thing about being a grown up (after being able to eat ice cream whenever you damn well please) is the fact that you never have to take a test ever again. Homework? I don’t think so. It’s the best. Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I remind myself at least I don’t have to do homework anymore.

Hermione makes a schedule of her exams. She has two at nine and two at one but she’s absolutely not in any in two places at once to make that happen. Oh, Hermione. She has to be so tired by now. Everyone else isn’t doing much better. Students fret about the difficulty of the tests which include Cheering Charms and turning tea pots into tortoises and I now want a toile-patterned pet tortoise desperately. Get on that, science.

The last day of exams is the most important for two reasons: Buckbeack’s appeal is scheduled that day and so is Harry’s Divinations final. Harry, the optimist, makes up a story about seeing Buckbeak flying away in his crystal ball. Trewlaney’s disappointed in the general lack of blood and death and general terribleness until everything changes.


And everybody knows, capslock means either something supernatural is going on or someone’s about to confess to being a serial killer. Trewlaney gives Harry her second true prediction, prophesying that “the servant will set out to join the master.” That was vague of you, Trewlaney, thanks. Naturally, she doesn’t believe Harry when he relays the prediction. Too bad. An adult perspective could have helped.


Instead, the Trio sneaks out to see Hagrid before Buckbeak’s appeal where they discover Scabbers hiding. And as they head back up to the castle, struggling to keep Scabbers, they hear the thump of an axe and know Buckbeak is dead.

So. Real.

I bet Macnair speaks in capslock.

And now a list of the character moments that make this chapter sparkle:

  • Ron protests the apparent fix for Buckbeak because they did so much research. It’s not enough that Buckbeak is going to die but that all the research he did for the defense will be wasted. This is hilarious.
  • He later protests the injustice because Ron’s a good kid at heart.
  • Hermione breaks the rules and sneaks off to retrieve the Invisibility Cloak. She’s growing beyond the worrying bookworm and making things happen.
  • Ron is impressed with her and someone call Fed Ex because I’ve got some shipping to do.
  • Not too much happens to Harry. He receives the prophesy and that’s about it. That’s not a character moment but it is a smart choice because things are going to go pear-shaped for Harry in just a few pages.
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14 thoughts on “The Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 16: It’s All Finally Happening

  1. Kevin O'Shea says:

    I’m of the opinion that Sybil Trelawney actually is a good teacher, because she’s teaching them Divination theory and she outright states at the beginning that not everybody has the talent to use it properly, but everyone should be able to know what it is. The fact that she’s a flash in the pan herself doesn’t actually matter, and Hermione got frustrated because she wasn’t learning anything that she couldn’t read in the textbook, but I do believe that it’s important to know what Divination looks like.

    Especially if you’re on the Auror track and you need to know if your informants are full of crap.

    • Ashley says:

      Hmmm, I kind of agree with you and kind of don’t.

      I don’t think Divination is something that can actually be *taught*, so it doesn’t really matter whether Trelawney is a good teacher or not. You’ve either got the talent or you don’t. So you’re right in that sense.

      But I also think Trelawney is a HORRIBLE teacher. She pretends to have talent that she doesn’t actually have, which is disingenuous to a bunch of kids who are trying to learn what she can supposedly do. A better teacher would explain to all of them the nature of Divination and not give them false hope. Also, not tell them bad things are going to happen to them all the time.

      I get why Dumbledore keeps her around, though. She’s a funny character, but she’s also a really sad one. She’s based her life on a talent she thinks she should have, and she’s either deluded herself into thinking she’s good at what she does, or she’s mostly motivated by pride to hide that she, in fact, has no talent. Plus also, he keeps her around because of the off chance she might make a real prediction again. Which, she does.

      • Lindsay says:

        That, and Dumbledore has a soft spot for giving people second chances.

      • curryalley says:

        The saddest thing about Trewlaney is that she does have the ability – she’s made real predicitions. But she’s so obsessed with being known as a Seer, she hides her insecurity behind cliches like scarves and crystal balls. Her own insecurity makes her pathetic and obscures her talents.

        • Ashley says:

          But she doesn’t even know she made those real predictions! As far as she’s concerned, she’s never gone into a trance and predicted the return of the Dark Lord in her life.

  2. Ashley says:

    I love how Harry’s response to Trelawney’s prediction is to basically be like, Um, okay. Thanks. And then he just goes about his business. He only thinks about it again when prompted by Dumbledore. Oh, Harry. This doesn’t seem that important . . . oh, wait . . . no, not important. Let’s go save Buckbeak!!!!

  3. Gretchen Alice says:

    If one of my students made a tortoise with a willow-patterned shell, I’d probably give them extra points.

  4. Jennie says:

    “Ron is impressed with her and someone call Fed Ex because I’ve got some shipping to do.”

    This made me LOL. Also, is it weird to ship two 13-year-olds? Because I do. But it makes me feel kind of icky. Though not really, because I was close to their age when I started shipping them. (I have a lot of thoughts about this.)

    • curryalley says:

      Nah, it’s not weird. 13-year-olds have crushes (oh god, I remember my crush when I was that age – he was in choir with me and I would have given anything for him to notice me and then he signed my yearbook “have a nice summer” and I died inside).

      In summary: as long as the shipping isn’t sexual at that age, I don’t think that’s wrong.

    • Jen says:

      Agreed. As long as they’re not having sex (because gross), then it’s fine. They all act a little more mature than your average 13-year old so there’s that too. They are certainly more mature than I was at 13, anyway. Maybe it’s just like Chris Hardwick says; they’re British so they’re just inherently better than us. 😛

  5. Jen says:

    By the way, as an adult who still has to do homework, I have to say that it’s not that bad when it’s something you’re passionate enough to get a grad degree in. Oh, who am I kidding? Homework still sucks.


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