Harry surprises Ron and Hermione in Hogsmeade with a bit of help from Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
‘Psst – Harry!’
He turned, halfway along the third-floor corridor, to see Fred and George peering out at him from behind a statue of a humpbacked, one-eyed witch.
‘What are you doing?’ said Harry curiously. ‘How come you’re not going to Hogsmeade?’
‘We’ve come to give you a bit of festive cheer before we go,’ said Fred, with a mysterious wink. ‘Come in here …’
He nodded towards an empty classroom to the left of the one- eyed statue. Harry followed Fred and George inside. George closed the door quietly and then turned, beaming, to look at Harry.
‘Early Christmas present for you, Harry,’ he said.
Fred pulled something from inside his cloak with a flourish and laid it on one of the desks. It was a large, square, very worn piece of parchment with nothing written on it. Harry, suspecting one of Fred and George’s jokes, stared at it.
‘What’s that supposed to be?’
‘This, Harry, is the secret of our success,’ said George, patting the parchment fondly. ‘It’s a wrench, giving it to you,’ said Fred, ‘but we decided last night, your need’s greater than ours.’
‘Anyway, we know it off by heart,’ said George. ‘We bequeath it to you. We don’t really need it any more.’
‘And what do I need with a bit of old parchment?’ said Harry.
‘A bit of old parchment!’ said Fred, closing his eyes with a grimace as though Harry had mortally offended him. ‘Explain, George.’
‘Well … when we were in our first year, Harry – young, carefree and innocent –’
Harry snorted. He doubted whether Fred and George had ever been innocent.
‘– well, more innocent than we are now – we got into a spot of bother with Filch.’
‘We let off a Dungbomb in the corridor and it upset him for some reason –’
‘So he hauled us off to his office and started threatening us with the usual –’
‘– detention –’
‘– disembowelment –’
‘– and we couldn’t help noticing a drawer in one of his filing cabinets marked Confiscated and Highly Dangerous.’
‘Don’t tell me –’ said Harry, starting to grin.
‘Well, what would you’ve done?’ said Fred. ‘George caused a diversion by dropping another Dungbomb, I whipped the drawer open and grabbed – this.’
‘It’s not as bad as it sounds, you know,’ said George. ‘We don’t reckon Filch ever found out how to work it. He probably suspected what it was, though, or he wouldn’t have confiscated it.’
‘And you know how to work it?’
‘Oh yes,’ said Fred, smirking. ‘This little beauty’s taught us more than all the teachers in this school.’
‘You’re winding me up,’ said Harry, looking at the ragged old bit of parchment.
‘Oh, are we?’ said George.
He took out his wand, touched the parchment lightly and said, ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.’
And at once, thin ink lines began to spread like a spider’s web from the point that George’s wand had touched. They joined each other, they criss-crossed, they fanned into every corner of the parchment; then words began to blossom across the top, great, curly green words, that proclaimed:
Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present THE MARAUDER’S MAP
It was a map showing every detail of the Hogwarts castle and grounds. But the truly remarkable thing was the tiny ink dots moving around it, each labelled with a name in minuscule writ- ing. Astounded, Harry bent over it. A labelled dot in the top left corner showed that Professor Dumbledore was pacing his study; the caretaker’s cat, Mrs Norris, was prowling the second floor, and Peeves the poltergeist was currently bouncing around the trophy room. And as Harry’s eyes travelled up and down the familiar corridors, he noticed something else.
This map showed a set of passages he had never entered. And many of them seemed to lead –
‘Right into Hogsmeade,’ said Fred, tracing one of them with his finger. ‘There are seven in all. Now, Filch knows about these four –’ he pointed them out, ‘– but we’re sure we’re the only ones who know about these. Don’t bother with the one behind the mirror on the fourth floor. We used it until last winter, but it’s caved in – completely blocked. And we don’t reckon anyone’s ever used this one, because the Whomping Willow’s planted right over the entrance. But this one here, this one leads right into the cellar of Honeydukes. We’ve used it loads of times. And as you might’ve noticed, the entrance is right outside this room, through that one-eyed old crone’s hump.’
‘Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs,’ sighed George, patting the heading of the map. ‘We owe them so much.’
‘Noble men, working tirelessly to help a new generation of lawbreakers,’ said Fred solemnly.
‘Right,’ said George briskly, ‘don’t forget to wipe it after you’ve used it –’
‘– or anyone can read it,’ Fred said warningly.
‘Just tap it again and say, “Mischief managed!” And it’ll go blank.’
‘So, young Harry,’ said Fred, in an uncanny impersonation of Percy, ‘mind you behave yourself.’
‘See you in Honeydukes,’ said George, winking. They left the room, both smirking in a satisfied sort of way.
Harry stood there, gazing at the miraculous map. He watched the tiny ink Mrs Norris turn left and pause to sniff at something on the floor. If Filch really didn’t know … he wouldn’t have to pass the Dementors at all …
But even as he stood there, flooded with excitement, something Harry had once heard Mr Weasley say came floating out of his memory.
Never trust anything that can think for itself, if you can’t see where it keeps its brain. This map was one of those dangerous magical objects Mr Weasley had been warning against … Aids to Magical Mischief- Makers … but then, Harry reasoned, he only wanted to use it to get into Hogsmeade, it wasn’t as though he wanted to steal any- thing or attack anyone … and Fred and George had been using it for years without anything horrible happening …
Harry traced the secret passage to Honeydukes with his finger.
Then, quite suddenly, as though following orders, he rolled up the map, stuffed it inside his robes, and hurried to the door of the classroom. He opened it a couple of inches. There was no one outside. Very carefully, he edged out of the room and slipped behind the statue of the one-eyed witch.
What did he have to do? He pulled out the map again and saw, to his astonishment, that a new ink figure had appeared upon it, labelled ‘Harry Potter’. This figure was standing exactly where the real Harry was standing, about halfway down the third-floor corridor. Harry watched carefully. His little ink self appeared to be tapping the witch with his minute wand. Harry quickly took out his real wand and tapped the statue. Nothing happened. He looked back at the map. The tiniest speech bubble had appeared next to his figure. The word inside said ‘Dissendium’.
‘Dissendium!’ Harry whispered, tapping the stone witch again.
At once, the statue’s hump opened wide enough to admit a fairly thin person. Harry glanced quickly up and down the corridor, then tucked the map away again, hoisted himself into the hole headfirst, and pushed himself forwards.
He slid a considerable way down what felt like a stone slide, then landed on cold, damp earth. He stood up, looking around. It was pitch dark. He held up his wand, muttered, ‘Lumos!’ and saw that he was in a very narrow, low, earthy passageway. He raised the map, tapped it with the tip of his wand and muttered, ‘Mischief managed!’ The map went blank at once. He folded it carefully, tucked it inside his robes, then, heart beating fast, both excited and apprehensive, he set off.
The passage twisted and turned, more like the burrow of a giant rabbit than anything else. Harry hurried along it, stumbling now and then on the uneven floor, holding his wand out in front of him.
It took ages, but Harry had the thought of Honeydukes to sustain him. After what felt like an hour, the passage began to rise. Panting, Harry sped up, his face hot, his feet very cold.
Ten minutes later, he came to the foot of some worn stone steps which rose out of sight above him. Careful not to make any noise, Harry began to climb. A hundred steps, two hundred steps, he lost count as he climbed, watching his feet … then, without warning, his head hit something hard.
It seemed to be a trapdoor. Harry stood there, massaging the top of his head, listening. He couldn’t hear any sounds above him. Very slowly, he pushed the trapdoor open and peered over the edge.
He was in a cellar which was full of wooden crates and boxes. Harry climbed out of the trapdoor and replaced it – it blended so perfectly with the dusty floor that it was impossible to tell it was there. Harry crept slowly towards the wooden staircase that led upstairs. Now he could definitely hear voices, not to mention the tinkle of a bell and the opening and shutting of a door.
Wondering what he ought to do, he suddenly heard a door open much closer at hand; somebody was about to come downstairs.
‘And get another box of Jelly Slugs, dear, they’ve nearly cleaned us out –’ said a woman’s voice.
A pair of feet was coming down the staircase. Harry leapt behind an enormous crate and waited for the footsteps to pass. He heard the man shifting boxes against the wall opposite. He might not get another chance –
Quickly and silently, Harry dodged out from his hiding place and climbed the stairs; looking back, he saw an enormous backside and a shiny bald head buried in a box. Harry reached the door at the top of the stairs, slipped through it, and found himself behind the counter of Honeydukes – he ducked, crept sideways and then straightened up.
Honeydukes was so crowded with Hogwarts students that no one looked twice at Harry. He edged amongst them, looking around, and suppressed a laugh as he imagined the look that would spread over Dudley’s piggy face if he could see where Harry was now.
There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable. Creamy chunks of nougat, shimmering pink squares of coconut ice, fat, honey-coloured toffees; hundreds of different kinds of chocolate in neat rows; there was a large barrel of Every Flavour Beans, and another of Fizzing Whizzbees, the levitating sherbet balls that Ron had mentioned; along yet another wall were ‘Special Effects’ sweets: Droobles Best Blowing Gum (which filled a room with bluebell-coloured bubbles that refused to pop for days), the strange, splintery Toothflossing Stringmints, tiny black Pepper Imps (‘breathe fire for your friends!’), Ice Mice (‘hear your teeth chatter and squeak!’), peppermint creams shaped like toads (‘hop realistically in the stomach!’), fragile sugar-spun quills and exploding bonbons.
Harry squeezed himself through a crowd of sixth-years and saw a sign hanging in the furthest corner of the shop (‘Unusual Tastes’). Ron and Hermione were standing underneath it, examining a tray of blood-flavoured lollipops. Harry sneaked up behind them.
‘Urgh, no, Harry won’t want one of those, they’re for vampires, I expect,’ Hermione was saying.
‘How about these?’ said Ron, shoving a jar of Cockroach Cluster under Hermione’s nose.
‘Definitely not,’ said Harry. Ron nearly dropped the jar.
‘Harry!’ squealed Hermione. ‘What are you doing here? How – how did you –?’
‘Wow!’ said Ron, looking very impressed. ‘You’ve learnt to Apparate!’
’Course I haven’t,’ said Harry. He dropped his voice so that none of the sixth-years could hear him and told them all about the Marauder’s Map.
‘How come Fred and George never gave it to me!’ said Ron, outraged. ‘I’m their brother!’