The Dementor's Kiss
Chapter 20 of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Dementor's Kiss
As the group proceeds down the tunnel, Sirius Black realizes he will be a free man once Pettigrew is turned over to the authorities. He tells Harry that he is Harry's godfather and also his guardian, and hesitantly offers to have Harry live with him. Harry's enthusiastic, "Yes!" catches Black rather by surprise, and his smile makes him look ten years younger.
As they exit the tunnel, a shifting cloud bathes them in full moonlight. Lupin, who has forgotten to take his potion, transforms into a Werewolf. Black yells at Harry to run, but he cannot—Ron is still chained to Pettigrew. Black transforms into a dog to defend the others. Lupin, now a Werewolf, is no longer shackled to Pettigrew, who grabs Lupin's dropped wand and stuns Ron and Crookshanks. Harry disarms Pettigrew, but he transforms into a rat and vanishes into the grass. Lupin, blocked by Black from attacking Harry, Hermione, and the stunned Ron, bounds off into the Forbidden Forest, chased by a wounded Black.
Harry and Hermione rush to Ron's aid, but they are unable to undo Pettigrew's jinx. Hearing a whining yelp, Harry and Hermione run to the lake and find the human Black cowering on the shore. Nearly a hundred Dementors are approaching from all directions. Harry and Hermione leap to Black's defense, but there are too many Dementors, and Harry's Patronus charm is too weak to repel them. The creatures' presence overwhelm Harry and Hermione. Harry falls and feels himself being lifted by one to administer the Kiss.
As Harry's consciousness fades, a bright light seems to race around him, scattering the Dementors. As they disperse, a large glowing animal appears in the light's midst, then trots back to someone standing on the lake's opposite shore. What Harry sees before losing consciousness seems impossible.
When the truth is finally revealed and Pettigrew is exposed, Harry and Sirius form an instant familial bond. It appears that Harry will not only be freed from his unhappy life with the Dursleys, but has finally found a loving home and a real father figure. Sirius, meanwhile, will finally be exonerated for a crime he never committed, though it seems unlikely he will ever fully recover from the hardships that were wrongfully inflicted on him. Unfortunately, Harry and Sirius' new-found happiness is short-lived and circumstances rapidly change when Pettigrew, and the truth, escape, leaving Sirius a hunted fugitive once again.
We will note, in passing, the adroit generation of a cliffhanger in the final words of this chapter. We had thought the story was pretty much told at the end of the previous chapter, and nothing remains except the wrap-up; but now, several questions have been re-opened, and one very large one has been created. From its effects, we are meant to believe that the white light Harry saw was a Patronus, a large and powerful one; Harry seems to see the caster, and may recognize him, but perhaps can't admit to himself who he thinks it is.
- What is the light Harry sees before losing consciousness?
- Why does Sirius Black offer to have Harry live with him? Why does Harry accept?
- Lupin does not transform into a Werewolf when the moon rises, but rather once he is directly exposed to moonlight. Why, then, was the Shrieking Shack necessary when he was a student? Why was he not simply confined in a windowless room?
- Why would the Dementors try to administer the "Kiss" to Harry?
- What might Harry have seen on the lake shore?
This marks the third attack Dementors have mounted on Harry, and it seems obvious that each incident is calculated. Why the Dementors have continually targeted Harry is unknown, but it raises suspicions that they may have ties to Voldemort and his Death Eaters, though this belief is unproved by anything in the story so far. The Dementors will defect to Voldemort soon after his resurrection, but until his return to power there is no Dark Wizardry center for them to aggregate to; the Death Eaters are still scattered and disorganized, and remain so until the fourth book's conclusion. Why then, did they attack Harry? Lupin told us earlier that Harry is more deeply affected by Dementors because he has suffered so greatly. The Dementors may be drawn to Harry because he harbors a rich fund of sad memories and emotions to feast on, possibly more than nearly any other Wizard at Hogwarts, and also because he is unable to properly defend himself just yet.
We will find out in the next chapters that in fact the light Harry saw as he passed out was a Patronus, and that he had cast it himself. When he saw himself, though, he believed it was his father, because he was as yet unaware of Hermione's Time-Turner. Quite possibly the recent discussion in the Shrieking Shack, concerning his father as it did, predisposed him to see what he currently believes is his father's ghost.
- This is the first time we hear that Sirius owns a house, which we will later find out is in London. There must clearly be a Black family residence, though this is the first time it is mentioned. It will be a center of action in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and will eventually become Harry's at Sirius' death.