"Malfoy! Wait 'til he sees you on this! He'll be sick as a pig! This is an international standard broom, this is!"
-- Ron Weasley
Harry mulls over what he heard about Sirius Black, almost everyone has gone on holiday, Harry, Ron and Hermione go to visit Hagrid, find him distraught about Buckbeak’s hearing before the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures, and they begin seeking precedents to help Buckbeak’s case. Christmas comes and Harry gets a Firebolt broom from an unknown benefactor, Crookshanks goes after Scabbers again and revives bad feelings between Ron and Hermione, dinner is taken with the teachers, and McGonagall confiscates the Firebolt to check for jinxes.
Calendar and Dates
Interesting facts and notes
He stopped on a picture of his parents’ wedding day. There was his father waving up at him, beaming, the untidy black hair Harry had inherited standing up in all directions. There was his mother, alight with happiness, arm in arm with his Dad. And there … that must be him. Their best man … Harry had never given him a thought before.
‘Yeh don’ know them gargoyles at the Committee fer the Disposal o’ Dangerous Creatures!’ choked Hagrid, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. ‘They’ve got it in fer interestin’ creatures!’
What Hagrid considers as an acceptable level of "dangerous" for a creature is quite different from what other wizards would think. He did, after all, assign a fighting and biting book as the set text for Care of Magical Creatures (PA4).
‘An’ them Dementors make me feel ruddy terrible an’ all,’ said Hagrid, with a sudden shudder. ‘Gotta walk past ’em ev’ry time I want a drink in the Three Broomsticks. ’S like bein’ back in Azkaban –’
Hagrid talks for the first time about what Azkaban is like. Being imprisoned there and living surrounded by Dementor guards means that the prisoners stop remembering who they are and then lose the will to live. It may be that Hagrid's family background would mean that he didn't lose his mind as quickly as a wizard would, but it obviously was a horrible experience for him.
The three of them sat in front of the roaring fire, slowly turning the pages of dusty volumes about famous cases of marauding beasts, speaking occasionally when they ran across something relevant.
The notes on cases that may be useful for Buckbeak's trial that Hermione, Ron and Harry are researching are very sparse - a Manticore that savaged someone and was let off (but only because everyone was afraid to go near it) in 1296 and a Hippogriff convicted in 1722.
"Another jumper from Mum...maroon again..."
Just like last year and the year before...
‘It’s the best broom there is, Hermione,’ he said.
‘So it must’ve been really expensive …’
‘Probably cost more than all the Slytherins’ brooms put together,’ said Ron happily.
We already know that Harry had not even asked the price of the Firebolt on display in Quality Quidditch Supplies when he was in Diagon Alley (PA4). It is an amazingly expensive gift to receive anonymously.
'Because I thought – and Professor McGonagall agrees with me – that that broom was probably sent to Harry by Sirius Black!'
The arrival - and nearly immediate confiscation by McGonagall - of Harry's new Firebolt drives a further wedge between Hermione and the two boys. She had already been fuming mad at Ron after he kicked Crookshanks for going after Scabbers.
Exceptional character moments
Hagrid, remembering Azkaban and what the Dementors are like.
Hermione offering to look up case histories for Hagrid; of the three members of the trio, only she persists with her promise to help with Buckbeak's defence before his first hearing past the Christmas holidays. (However, see PA15 for later stages of the case, when Ron took over the research).
Harry's feels "a hatred such as he had never known before" for Sirius Black. He imagines Black going to Lord Voldemort to betray his parents - laughing and proud - and blasting Peter Pettigrew. However, when he sees Hagrid's real pain at the prospect of Buckbeak being executed, he can't bring himself to attack Hagrid for not telling him about Sirius, James and Lily.
McGonagall's disdain for Professor Trelawney and Divination is very apparent during the Christmas dinner conversation in the Great Hall.
Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. Weasley, Cornelius Fudge... why hadn't anyone ever mentioned the fact that Harry's parents had died because their best friend had betrayed them?
"Listen … you know what Pettigrew's mother got back after Black had finished with him? Dad told me – the Order of Merlin, First Class, and Pettigrew's finger in a box. That was the biggest bit of him they could find."
"Think that matters to them? They don' care. Long as they've got a couple o' hundred humans stuck there with 'em, so they can leech all the happiness out of 'em, they don' give a damn who's guilty an' who's not." [Hagrid on Dementors]
"Certainly I knew, Minerva," she said quietly. "But one does not parade the fact that one is All-Knowing. I frequently act as though I am not possessed of the Inner Eye, so as not to make others nervous."
"That explains a great deal," said Professor McGonagall tartly.
Words and phrases
From the Web
Writing by J K Rowling on WizardingWorld (Pottermore):
Mugglenet: Christmas at the Wizarding World
Harry Potter Wiki: Firebolt
WizardingWorld (Pottermore) features:
- Why Christmas at Hogwarts is better than any other
- The difference between a Muggle Christmas and a wizarding Christmas
- The dark stories of Azkaban