Chapter 28 : Chapter 28 - Winter Romances
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The Tomb of Hogwarts
The day following the attack on the squid Harry awoke for the fifth time with a dull headache working it’s way slowly through his eyes. Nothing had happened with his scar; He’d simply had a horrible night’s sleep.
Nearly every hour he had woken with his heart pounding. In one dream he found himself fighting with Dudley for attacking the Giant Squid, the next dream he’d be defending Dudley against the entire school led by a mirror image of himself, although this alternate version had a flattened nose and eyes which were not green but pitch black and reminded him remarkably of a snake.
This final time when he woke he checked his watch and, deciding he was not likely to get any more sleep, decided to get up and take an early shower. It was only four forty-eight in the morning.
As he needn’t use his glasses to walk to the washroom, it wasn’t until he was getting dress that he discovered a small letter lying underneath his glasses. He quickly adjusted his glasses and opened the letter. It was quite straight and to the point.
After speaking to the staff following our talk of the previous evening and having found no evidence with which to track down our mystery man, we have decided that, unfortunate as it may be, we have no choice but to withhold what little we know of Dudley’s innocence as we find it unlikely that we will be able to apprehend the culprit until he strikes again. Dudley has already been approached and has bravely agreed to accept the added accusations from the school until some further evidence surfaces or another attack takes place. Therefore, I would ask that you not share any details of the memory with your fellow students (with the usual exceptions of course) though if you feel up to showing some family support for your cousin, the staff and I would be grateful.
In addition, as we will be withholding everything we learned regarding Dudley’s involvement with the Giant Squid, this means we will also be withholding the evidence we gathered when we performed the Prior Incantatum spell we used on his wand. Of course this means that any accusations made towards Dudley’s guilt or innocence will be purely circumstantial. We hope this will help keep the inconvenience to Dudley and his friends to a minimum.
With many thanks,
Harry looked thoughtfully at the word “friends”. It was obvious that Dumbledore was trying to emphasise this Harry’s friendship with his cousin for some reason. Was it merely a coincidence that he mentioned it now? Dumbledore had asked him on several occasions to look +
after Dudley, but this was the first time Harry could remember that Dumbledore was referencing his friendship with his cousin instead of simply looking after him for the sake of his cousin’s own safety.
Whatever Dumbledore meant by it, Harry couldn’t find it to be simply coincidence that his headmaster mentioned it on this particular day. Whatever it was, Dumbledore had a reason for putting it in those specific words, and so Harry’s internal controversy as to whether or not he’d give his cousin a second chance was ended. If Dumbledore wanted him to give Dudley a second chance, he would. After all, he was right about Snape, wasn’t he?
Well, maybe that was a bad example.
Harry met Ron and Hermione down at the breakfast table and after getting a few quick bites in began going over everything that had happened over the previous twenty-four hours.
“I told you he didn’t do it,” Hermione said with a quick punch at Ron’s arm.
“Just because he didn’t do it this time doesn’t mean he’s innocent of those other attacks,” Ron answered as he rubbed his arm.
“I doubt it. You should have seen his face when we were in the Pensieve. He looked completely mortified. I don’t know who or why, but someone’s been setting him up from day one.”
Hermione was just about to add her thoughts to this when Hagrid walked in and headed straight for Harry.
“Hello there, Harry. Was wonder’n if I could have a word with you fer a moment outside.” Harry nodded and followed Hagrid into the Entrance Hall.
“I just wanted you ter know first, and maybe tell yer cousin too, that Inky’s gonna be jus fine.”
Harry furrowed his brow for a moment before realizing that “Inky” would be Hagrid’s pet name for the Giant Squid.
“That’s good news, Hagrid. Thanks.”
“No problem at all. Listen, there was another reason I came by. I was wonderin if you might be up fer helping me with a little problem I’ve been havin with Grawp.”
“What’s wrong?” Harry did not like the sound of a Giant having any sort of problems, especially since he’d seen what kind of problems Grawp had had during the previous year.
“Oh, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s just that… Well, you’ll see when you come along. Won’t take but a couple o’ hours at the most. Oh, and mind you bring Hermione and Ron too, but especially Hermione. I think she’d be right useful.”
“Okay,” Harry said tentatively, “but what’s wrong. I mean, are you sure it isn’t something maybe one of the professor’s wouldn’t be more prepared for?” He hoped he didn’t sound too unfavourable about the whole idea, but frankly the idea of going out again to meet Grawp was not very high on Harry’s to-do list, and helping the giant with his problem, whatever it was, did not sound like fun. But Hagrid didn’t seem to pick up on this.
“Nah, nothing to worry the professors about. Just a little issue really. If we could jus’ meet up on Friday, tha’d be great.”
Harry reluctantly agreed, and Hagrid thanked him before rushing back out towards his hut. Now that Harry thought about it, he didn’t see Hagrid much now that he was a student again since his was one of the few classes he didn’t have to take.
As Dumbledore had put it, “Hagrid has proven himself quite able to take care of himself. I see no need for him to require any but the most basic of classes to complete his school requirements by the end of the year so that he may get his wizarding license.”
“Besides,” he added, a twinkle in his eye, “there are few wizards in the world who would know how to attack Hagrid before he had a chance to respond in his own unique way, and there are even fewer wizards who would be willing to try. Trust me Harry when I say that an angry Hagrid is not one you would want to find charging after you.”
Harry nodded. He’d never seen Hagrid angry, nor really even though of it as a possibility. Though he was truly enormous, Hagrid always came off to Harry as a very kind and gentle person, but he had to admit that an angry Hagrid would probably be a very scary picture.
Shaking himself out of his thoughts he returned to the Gryffindor table and told Hermione and Ron that Hagrid wanted to meet them for a little help with Grawp the following Friday. They were less than enthusiastic about the idea of going on an unexplained mission to help Hagrid’s brother but relented all the same.
Since Dudley was going to be spending more time hanging with him, Ron, and Hermione, Harry thought it might be smart to invite Neville and Luna back into their ranks. With any luck the three of them might bond and create their own little group while imposing as little as possible on him, Ron, and Hermione.
They all decided the best way to do this was to invite them all up for tea in Harry’s office a couple times a week, along with Amanda and Davie of course, and Ron had even asked to bring Parvati, though Harry told him he needn’t have asked since they were still officially dating. Harry was more than a little relieved to hear that Ron had stopped blaming himself for being with her during the Ministry attack, though he noticed they were quite a bit less affectionate with each other than they had been before the Ball.
Their first few gatherings did not go especially well since Dudley took it upon himself to keep to the far side of the classroom by himself, rarely listening to the rest of them but rather working studiously on whatever homework he might have at the time. Harry got the impression Dudley felt more like he was being given detention rather than invited to tea, but no matter what he said he could not get him to participate with the rest of them.
They had tea again on Wednesday and Thursday, Tuesday was reserved for Quidditch Practice, and Dudley still had not made any further attempts at socializing, nor did he showed any signs of complaining. He would simply go to the classroom following dinner and find his familiar post in the corner and begin doing his homework. Harry was of the impression that Dudley simply enjoyed the privacy of not being harassed by his fellow Hufflepuffs.
And so when Thursday came around and Dudley was in the classroom again, this time having arrived even before Harry, and was studiously working on his potions homework when he suddenly perked up at the mention of his name.
“Wha’s that?” he asked softly.
“What?” Harry replied instinctively, not realizing Dudley had been listening. “Oh, I was just telling Luna about your experience in boxing.”
“My uncle is a boxer,” Luna said in a sing-song voice. “He’s a squib, and he likes to box. Says there’s nothing so rewarding as giving another man a good walloping.”
Dudley nodded, then went back to work on his paper.
Harry sighed audibly, disheartened by the fact that he thought he’d finally brought Dudley into their talks only to have him sink back into seclusion. Luna, on the other hand, was not going to give up on him so quickly.
“So Harry tells me that you used to box at your old school,” she continued as though Dudley had not just turned his attention away from them. “What was your record?”
“Nin-n-won,” he said quickly in barely a whisper.
“NINE AND ONE!” she cried as though this were an astounding verdict. Dudley nearly jumped from his chair at this sudden outburst.
“Yeah, Nine decisions and one draw,” he cried back defensively, backing up against the wall.
“Incredible. And no losses?”
“Not yet,” Dudley replied, a little less defensive now, “though I guess that’ll be pretty permanent now since I won’t be doing that anymore.”
For a moment, Harry thought he might have even seen a glint in his cousin’s eye as he looked back at Luna.
“Well my uncle is forty-one and eight with two draws. If you want, I’d love to introduce you some time. I bet you could trade loads of stories.”
It suddenly struck him as odd that the most normal conversation he’d ever had with Luna would turn out to be about a Muggle sport like boxing.
And even before he brought his thoughts back to their conversation it became suddenly obvious that his presence was no longer needed. Luna had suddenly become more animated than Harry had ever seen her and Dudley seemed to have taken a Pepper-up potion for all the fun he seemed to take in talking with her.
Harry smiled and went back to talking to Ron and Hermione while Amanda gently laid her head on his shoulders and whispered in his ear, “That was nice of you, Harry. They make a pretty cute couple,” she added, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.
“They really do,” Harry agreed.
“How did you know her uncle was into boxing?” she asked breathlessly while nibbling on his earlobe.
It took a few moments of concentration before he spurted out, “Didn’t” between soft moans.
“Then how did you know they’d get along so well?” She asked, no longer working on his ears.
“Didn’t,” he repeated. “Sometimes things just find a way of working themselves out,” he added, staring at her beautiful blue eyes.
“Speaking of workouts,” she replied, tracing her fingers down his stomach and towards…
“Hey now. If you brought us up here just for a show, you could at least have brought us some sweets,” Ron replied grumpily, though Harry noticed he still had his arm around Parvati’s shoulder.
The rest of the week proved impossible for anyone to find either Dudley or Luna without the other attached at the hand, if not at the lips, and Harry was glad that his cousin was beginning to show signs of humanity again. He quickly realized that, while it was hard to understand, he quite missed the Dudley he had spent the previous holiday with.
Once Harry realised this, his thoughts were quickly brought back to Hagrid. He decided to ask everyone if they’d like to join him when he went to meet Hagrid and that maybe they could go a bit early so they might get a little homework done there before he, Ron, and Hermione joined him for their secret trip.
Ginny and Davie agreed and even volunteered to go with them on the secret trip, assuming Hagrid agreed, since they were now quite anxious to find out about the secret too. But when Harry mentioned they’d be going to see Hagrid’s little brother who also happened to be twice Hagrid’s size, they both suddenly remembered things they would have to do before dinner and would have to leave promptly before their secret trip, whatever time it happened to be at.
Since Ginny, Luna, and Dudley all had similar class schedules they would to go down to Hagrid’s after their Charms class and Harry and the rest would meet them an hour later after D.A.D.A. So with everything planned, Harry approached Hagrid to let him know they’d all be coming down. But as it turned out, all their planning was for naught.
“Oh, I’d really love to have the group of you around,” Hagrid said with a huge smile, “but something’s come up with that thing I told you about and it’ll gonna take some workin’ on ta get things fixed. But don’ you fret none. I expect we can do it on Monday instead, if’n yeh still want o’ course.”
“Of course,” replied Harry quickly “We were just hoping to spend a little extra time with you before the Holidays since…” Harry suddenly realized they hadn’t told Hagrid about the medallions and the trip to America and felt it might be best to save that for their group meeting. “Hold on, what’s happened with that secret thing with your brother?” Harry inquired, hoping Hagrid wouldn’t notice the quick subject change. He didn’t.
“Oh, nothing to worry about. I’m jus’ gonna take a few more days to get ‘er down here is all.”
“Get who down here?” he inquired, now completely intrigued, but Hagrid would have nothing of it.
“Oh, I shouldn’ta said that. Nearly let the cat out’a the bag, din’ I,” he added shaking his head. “No, you’ll find out next week and not until then.”
Try as he might, Harry could not get any more information from Hagrid about this surprise and finally gave up and asked Hagrid about the other things that were going on at school. As it turned out, being around Hogwarts for the better part of half a century since his expulsion had meant that almost everything he needed to know regarding magic had come quite easily to him.
“Professor Dumbledore said I might even be able to take me N.E.W.T.s for Charms and Defence ‘Ganst the Dark Arts During the Holidays. He’s already given me a pass on Care o’ Magical Creatures since I taught it fer two years, and then Professor Sprout tested me fer Herbology on my firs’ day back which I passed, barely,” he added in a whisper, grinning beneath his gruff beard.
“So all that leaves me with is Potions and Transfiguration at the end of the year and, assumin’ I pass, I’ll be an official member of the wizarding world by the Summer Holidays.”
“That’s great, Hagrid. I’m very proud of you,” Harry added as he gave Hagrid a great big hug.
They spent a few more minutes talking about their schedule when Harry mentioned his trip to America and why he was going. Hagrid smiled as Harry told him about the three medallions, but the moment Harry mentioned the Tomb of Hogwarts Hagrid suddenly became quite panicked and rushed off, claiming he’d just remembered some charms homework he needed to work on.
Harry shook his head and started back to the castle, but the more he thought about the way Hagrid had just acted the faster his feet began to carry him so that he was sprinting through the Entrance Hall and by the time he went through the Portrait Hole he was completely out of breath but still looking about frantically for Ron and Hermione to tell them Hagrid’s reaction to his mentioning the Tomb.
Unfortunately, a quick search of the room showed they were not there. Figuring he could find them on the map, he took a couple steps towards the boys staircase before Ginny suddenly called out to him.
“Harry! Where have you been. Ron and Hermione have been searching everywhere for you.”
“Where are they?” he asked breathlessly.
“They went up to your classroom just a few minutes ago. They said they had some really important information for you.”
“Well I’ve got some news for them too. I’ll see if I can catch up to them.”
“NO!” Ginny cried as Harry ran for the Portrait Hole. “They said to keep you right here and that if you turned up to have you put Common room on that coin you were using last year for the D.A. and they’d come back here for you.”
“Thanks,” Harry said quickly as he turned on his heels, rushed up the boys staircase, and burst through the door. He dove straight for his trunk and started wading through it quickly, tossing clothes recklessly amid complaints from his dorm-mates about as he searched for the small coin. Finally, when nearly all his trunk had been emptied he finally found the small coin lying between two of his books from the previous year. He quickly pocketed it and waved his wand at his clothes which quickly packed themselves back into his trunk which had already locked itself by the time he began descending the stairs.
Just as he was approaching the common room he heard his name yelled from above him and he soon heard someone running down behind him.
“Harry! How’d you do... That!” he finally coughed out, completely out of breath.
Harry was so caught up with remembering exactly how he had to change the coin that he barely acknowledged his fellow sixth-year.
“Sorry?” he finally responded feebly, still concentrating on the coin.
“Upstairs... you just did a silent spell up there,” he spurted out in one breath.
“Damn,” Harry replied, tapping the coin with his wand again, then looked up at the red face of Seamus. “Sorry, I did what?”
“Just now. You were throwing your clothes all over the place...”
“Oh,” Harry interrupted, not really paying attention. “Yeah, did I leave something out? I’ll clean it up in a minute. I’m just trying to...”
“No, it’s all back in your trunk, but what we want to know is, HOW’D YOU DO IT?”
“Attaché Efficia. It makes all your stuff pack itself back into your trunk. You should know it since it was on our last charms exam.”
“BUT YOU DIDN’T SAY IT!” Seamus cried, obviously annoyed at Harry’s casualness about the whole thing.
“Of course I said it,” Harry replied softly. “How else would it have worked?”
“That’s what I’ve been asking you, you... GIT!” Seamus cried, flustered beyond any further words.
Harry was saved from trying to figure things out as Ron and Hermione burst through the door at that precise moment, spotted Harry, and sprinted for him looking urgently.
“What’s up,” Harry asked seeing the terrified looks on their faces.
Neither spoke, but Hermione opened a copy of the evening edition of the Daily Prophet and thrust it into Harry’s hand. Whatever concerns he previously had had disappeared as he read the headline.
DELORES JANE UMBRIDGE ANNOUNCES HER
CANIDACY FOR MINISTER OF MAGIC
Delores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the former Minister of Magic and former Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor of Hogwarts announced her intention to run for Minister of Magic this morning at a quiet press conference held at the Ministry Entrance Hall. Her long resume working for the Ministry includes work as the Secretary to the Head of The International Office of Law, Three years as head of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and Seven years of combined experience working under several of our Ministry Heads in the Wizengamot Administration Services. With such a lengthy resume and...”
Harry didn’t get a chance to finish reading as a Post Owl began fluttering angrily against one of the common room windows. A first year close to the window opened it and made to take the letter from it’s leg but before he had the chance it flew across the room to Harry and landed on his shoulder, it’s leg now offering itself to it’s recipient.
Harry quickly took the parchment from the owls leg which unceremoniously flew back out the window and opened his letter. It was from Dumbledore and was a very short letter.
I have just read a copy of this morning’s Daily Prophet. I realize that this may have come as a bit of a shock to you and you may have questions regarding the outcome and I wish to assure you that everything is in hand. Professor McGonagall will go over the details with you in her office just before your Animagus training. Until then, I would ask that you keep anything we have discussed regarding the appointment of a new Minister to yourself, with the normal exceptions of course.
“What it is Harry?” Hermione asked anxiously.
“It’s from Dumbledore about the Prophet article. He’s asking me not to say anything about it to anyone. McGonagall’s going to tell me about it just before our Animagus Training tonight.”
“But how does that cow think she’s even got a chance after what happened here last year?” Ron asked.
“Because she’s got a nearly impeccable career, at least on paper, and I’ll bet she’s got a way to spin it all around so that it looks like she did nothing wrong.”
“But she was going to cast an unforgivable curse at a student.”
Harry stirred a little. He had cast the Cruciatus curse on that very same day, though nobody had approached him about it and he had yet to volunteer this to anyone, even Ron or Hermione. “More importantly,” he said trying to change the subject, “how can she expect anyone to vote for her when she was against Dumbledore all last year and even sacked him when now everyone knows that he was right and she was wrong?”
“Because she’ll blame it on a general consensus of the Ministry and say that one of the first things she’ll do as an experienced employee of the Ministry is to use her experience to fix those problems. It won’t matter that it’s bogus. People just want to see someone who shows that he or she knows what their doing in that office, and I’ll bet a thousand Galleons that she calls Fudge a hero and boasts about how great he was. She knows that she can then feed off him since she was his Undersecretary so all she has to do is make him a star and she can just ride along in his wake.”
“She can’t get away with it,” Ron and Harry both exclaimed.
“She’s got to be stopped.”
They all agreed and spent the rest of their free time trying to figure out ways to stop Umbridge from becoming Minister of Magic. They each came to the same conclusion. The Order needed to get behind someone and start pushing fast and hard. This reminded Harry of his suggestion at the staff meeting from the previous month, but when he told Ron and Hermione about it they both dropped their jaws.
“How could you suggest that git?” Ron finally asked.
“Because with his memory so flustered he’d probably be pretty easy for the Order to control. I’m not saying it’s the best, but I don’t see that we have many other good ideas.”
“What about Amelia Bones? She’s head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and she’s done a lot of good as of late.”
“That was suggested, but when I mentioned Lockhart, well, Dumbledore seemed thrilled at the idea.”
“What’s he playing at. I don’t care what condition he’s in. Lockhart’s was a loon and a fraud before he got himself lobotomized and I doubt he’s any better now.”
“I don’t know. It was kind of a fleeting idea and I’m not so sure about it now, but...” Harry stopped and looked down at his watch. “Well, it’s nearly eleven now and we’ve got Animagus training first thing in the morning. I don’t know about you two, but I’m getting to bed before it’s too late.”
As soon as they heard the time, both Ron and Hermione gave a yawn and turned towards their dorms, Harry following behind Ron.
Soon Harry was changed and in bed, tired and ready for sleep. But his mind kept reminding him of the possibility saying, “Delores Umbridge, Minister of Magic,” and it was well after midnight before he finally drifted off to sleep, a picture of a large toad in a bowler cap sitting on top of Fudge’s desk and spitting out her tongue, capturing a slew of flies that were flying about the office, each one looking like a miniature Harry with wings.
The following morning Harry spoke to McGonagall and got much less information than he had expected, especially considering the recent flow of information that he’d gotten from her about similar issues, but she did tell him that there were very specific reasons, politically, as to why there were allowing Umbridge to go unchallenged at the present time.
“The Headmaster knows what he’s doing,” she’d said to him when he’d made an un-approving face. “He believes that there is a place and time in which Lockhart should announce his running for Minister of Magic as he will go over with you next week during your training exercises, as he has a plan for you in this whole thing.” She waved her hand off as though ridding herself of a bug as she said this. Harry remembered how little she seemed to have liked Lockhart when he worked at Hogwarts during Harry’s second year and he couldn’t imagine her feeling could have changed much over the past three years.
“But what does he want me to do? I mean, I’m not going to be running for office with him, am I?” he asked incredulously.
“No, of course not. As I said, he will go over it all when he speaks to you next week. What he wanted me to say to you was simply that he did have a specific plan regarding this subject and that you should trust that he has his reasons. He is not keeping this from you, he simply feels he should tell you himself and at the moment he has his hands full with other things, such as arranging a portkey for your trip during the holidays.”
“You know about that?” he asked a bit too loudly.
“Of course. I think you sometimes forget that I am deputy Headmistress of this school, Mr Potter,” she said in a scolding voice, though a rare smile peeked behind her lips, though only for a moment.
“Yes, of course,” Harry replied, a little embarrassed at his implication.
“In any event, as the Headmaster has everything in order, he has asked me to pass on to you once more the importance of not discussing the Ministry election to any of your fellow students and that you are to impress upon Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley the importance of their keeping quiet as well, at least until the Headmaster says otherwise.”
“So I will be able to tell others that I don’t want Umbridge as the Minister of Magic?”
“When the time is right, yes. But I cannot say any more, as I have told you three times now. Dumbledore will go over everything with you next week. Now, on to your Animagus training,” she said, closing the topic from any further discussion.
After the Prophet article and McGonagall’s talk, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were so caught up with frustration on having to keep quiet about Umbridge since the entire school was now talking about it, (the Slytherins were wearing UMBRIDGE FOR MINISTER badges wherever they went,) that added with Neville, Luna and Dudley, along with planning for their trip to America, Harry had completely forgotten about their trip to Hagrid’s until Sunday night. It was Hermione who had mentioned it.
“So what do you think that surprise is that Hagrid’s got cooked up for us?” she asked uncertainly.
“Knowing him, he’s probably decided that his little brother’s gotten too house trained and wants us to teach him how to be more menacing,” Ron suggested.
“Really, Ron. This is serious. He’s a bit, scary, don’t you think? I mean, what could he want us to do, and why was he so persistent on me?”
“Probably cause Grawp likes to have his little Hermy around.”
Hermione pulled out her wand so quickly Harry barely saw it until all of the pillows in the common room had already started throwing themselves at him.
Harry tried to chastise her, but it was too funny for him to get out the words through his laughter.
The next day after classes they all met at the Entrance Hall and headed down to meet Hagrid.
When they arrived at his hut they found Hagrid looking over a book and waving his new wand, a twenty inch Maplewood with a dragon heartstring core, through the air and transfiguring his cauldron into a squid, then a small table, and then back into a cauldron again. Considering Harry hadn’t had a chance to watch Hagrid perform any magic legally, he was very surprised to see how far he’d come so fast.
“Yeh gotta remember, Harry,” he responded when Harry had said so, “that I had a full three years teachin’ in me before I was expelled and I’ve been ‘round this school fer another fifty years after. Yeh’ can’t be around a school like this fer that long withou’ learn’n yer’self a thing or two ‘bout magic.”
Harry nodded and smiled back, but it quickly disappeared when Hagrid added, “Well, might as well get goin’ now rather than later. After all, it is getting dark awfully early these days. But since I can use magic now, it’ll at least be a lot quicker gettin’ there than last time.”
They all nodded in response and when he looked over he noticed Ginny, Davie and Amanda were already packed and heading for the door. “Well, good luck you three!” Ginny called as she walked out the door. Davie and Amanda repeated the same and closed the door behind them just as Hagrid opened the back door for them.
When they got outside they saw one of the Hogwarts carriages parked there headed by four Thestrals, though only Hagrid and Harry could see them, and after the three of them got in Hagrid called back to them, “’Twill only take a few ter get there this way. If we’re a bit lucky we can get yeh’ back here ‘fore it gets dark.
Their eyes widened as they thought of being in the Forest at night, but they were quickly shaken out of this thought when the carriage suddenly dropped several inches and swayed momentarily left to right and they were just barely able to catch their bearings when it jolted forward into the Forest.
Hagrid had not been exaggerating when he said it would only take a few minutes to reach their destination. With four Thestrals pulling the carriage they were moving quite fast. Harry thought he heard something chasing them for a few seconds, but the sound soon trailed off and before he knew it they were slowing down, and a few moments later they felt the carriage bounce up as Hagrid dismounted the carriage and opened the door for them.
“Come on now, it’s just a little further up here,” he said with a big smile.
They all got out, happy to be on solid ground again, and followed Hagrid through a group of trees and out to a small pasture where a large hole held a giant sized campfire with some kind of unidentifiable meat skewered between two pyramids of branches. Beyond the fire they saw Grawp stepping in between the trees.
“Ah, there’s o’l Grawpie.”
Harry looked at Hagrid’s little brother, all sixteen feet of him, and for all of Harry’s expertise in the field of giants, which wasn’t any, he couldn’t see any evidence of a problem. He was just about to ask, but Hagrid beat him to it.
“Harry, Ron, Hermione, yeh’ve all met Grawp. And this here,” he said, moving his had to the left, “is Fratilda,”
They all looked to where Hagrid was pointed and gave a collective gasp. At the end of the clearing, bent over and still no less than nine feet tall and wide as Grawp was a female giant bobbing her head up and down as though coughing or choking on something. But when she slowly raised her head they could see that she had not been coughing at all, she’d been crying.
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