Chapter 3 : Hagrid's Tale
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“Ron, he’s waking up.”
Ron glanced over as Hagrid began to stir. The half-giant’s hair was gone, burned off in the Fiendfyre, his body horribly charred. It was only thanks to Hermione’s use of pain charms that Hagrid’s suffering was eased.
“Gotter tell yeh ‘ow ‘e died,” Hagrid croaked.
“No Hagrid, you have to rest. Don’t try to talk,” Hermione soothed.
For a moment, Hagrid’s eyes closed. He took a labored breath, and then, with almost perfect calmness, “‘Ermione, me times ‘bout come. I know Dumbledore left yeh summat ter do. ‘S why I ‘ad ter get yeh out.” He took a long breath, before continuing. “Now, I’m pretty sure he knows yeh’ve got a mission too.”
* * *
Hagrid was being swung between two massive giants as they proceeded deeper and deeper into the Forbidden Forest. One held fast to his arms, the other, his legs. The two giants that were now Hagrid's captors had snatched him, rather violently, from the swarm of Acromantulas that had carried him from the castle. Rowle had taken charge of the trio shortly thereafter. Now, the blond Death Eater stood behind them, almost herding them, occasionally throwing a hex at the half-giant, simply to torment him.
Every time Hagrid would strain to free himself, the two giants that held him would stretch him taut. The strain was exhausting and Rowle's curses, though largely ineffective due to Hagrid's giant-blood, were sapping his strength.
"Rowle," Hagrid grunted, "When I get me sel' free, I'm gonna return the favor."
Rowle only chuckled, as they moved deeper and deeper into the Forrest. Hagrid knew where they were going: Aragog's lair. But the Acromantula's brood had already been driven out; more soldiers for the Dark Lord's cause. The thought broke Hagrid's heart, especially when combined with the horrid speech he had just heard the Dark Lord make, demanding Harry's surrender. Although Hagrid desperately wanted to believe that Harry wouldn't give himself up, part of him feared that the loving boy who'd always been so selfless would do exactly that; the noble thing.
As they progressed, the trees began to become more twisted, more evil. With each step, Hagrid fought to keep from being pulled apart. Up ahead, in a small clearing, he could see the flicker of firelight and shadows moving about. As they got closer, the shadows became Death Eaters and one of those Death Eaters became the Dark Lord himself.
"We have the half-giant, My Lord!" Rowle bellowed with pride as they neared the fire.
Hagrid saw a swarm of Death Eaters around him. Lucius Malfoy was off to the side, his eye horribly swollen, he looked sullen and beaten. Not far from him was Narcissa; she looked worn, worried even. And she wasn't the only one.
Never far from her master's side, Bellatrix Lestrange seemed almost desperate in her fawning and scraping. The look she shot at Rowle betrayed her jealousy at not being the one to bring in such a prize.
The Dark Lord looked up at Rowle, the two giants and the trophy they swung between them. He seemed distracted, "Bind him," he said, and, almost as an after thought, he turned his head to a monstrous oak tree just on the rim of the firelight.
Once again, Hagrid struggled mightily, but it was no use against the two brutes. They pinned him to the oak as Bellatrix and Rowle cast several body-bind curses on him, securing him in place.
"My Lord?" Bellatrix asked, bouncing from one foot to the other, "Use him. Tell Potter we have him . . ." She was silenced with a glance from her master.
Her desperation was nearly palpable. But she continued to hover about, wringing her hands. Then the Dark Lord turned to Yaxley and Dolohov. "Go. Keep a lookout." With a slight bow, the two Death Eaters trudged off into the darkness.
The minutes passed, drawing out slowly. Little was said, as the Death Eaters began to shoot each other nervous looks. Even the Dark Lord seemed on edge. Hagrid saw him wait, almost sullenly, for Harry to arrive. Once again, Bellatrix tried to speak to him. He silenced her with his hand.
“I expected he’d come,” the Dark Lord said. Bellatrix and the other Death Eaters surrounding him exchanged troubled glances at his pensive musings.
"I was, it seems . . . mistaken," he said.
Almost as if in response, Harry emerged into the glow of the firelight, having removed the invisibility cloak. "You weren't."
Silence followed and was instantly broken by the laughter of the Death Eaters and the roar of the two giants who had moved beyond the fire's edge.
Realizing his worst fear, Hagrid summoned all of his strength to break the spells and the tree that held him. The mighty oak shivered violently, but to no avail; he remained bound. Then, he tried to shout his surprise and a warning to Harry, but, with a flick of his wand, Rowle cast a silencing charm, stifling him. Hagrid could only look on in abject horror.
“Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived,” The Dark Lord hissed. He toyed with his wand as if to strike, but then he hesitated, staring at Harry, with his head cocked. * A moment of decision. “Accio wand.”
With that, the Hawthorne wand flew out of Harry’s robes to be caught deftly and promptly snapped in two. The surrounding Death Eaters laughed and cheered the humiliating gesture.
Noticed only by Hagrid and the Dark Lord, when the Hawthorne wand snapped, the tip of the Elder Wand sparked. Hagrid saw a dawning realization creep across the Dark Lord’s face, followed by a menacing grimace as if he had chosen a course of action at that moment which truly unnerved him. With a nearly imperceptible shudder, he raised the Elder Wand, shouting “Legilimens!”
Harry, too late, appeared to realize something was amiss. Expecting the killing curse, Harry was caught off guard by the invasion of his mind. The Dark Lord seethed with the obvious pain that entering Harry’s thoughts was causing him. Upon breaking the spell, the Dark Lord collapsed to his knees, as did Harry.
“Bellatrix, KILL HIM!” He gasped.
Before Harry could react, he caught the blast of Bellatrix’s killing curse to the left side of his body and was thrown, violently across the clearing.
With a look of pure disgust, the Dark Lord watched as Bellatrix checked the body for any signs of life. “He is dead, my Lord.”
Hagrid slumped against his restraints, a broken man. Huge tears drenched his face as his body shook in wrenching grief. The boy he'd pulled out of the rubble in Godric's Hollow, the boy he'd brought to Hogwarts, the boy who he'd loved more than all of the students whom he'd striven to shelter and protect, was gone. Hagrid had failed him.
The Dark Lord paused, slowly rising to his feet and regaining his ominous bearing. “Redemption for you, Bellatrix.” LeStrange bounced with giddy delight at the words from her master. The other Death Eaters, too fearful of questioning the odd twist of events they had witnessed, cheered loudly to hide their confusion.
Sensing the apprehension, the Dark Lord raised his voice to steady his followers and remove any doubt about his dominion. “All has gone as I have foreseen. But, our work is not yet done. The Mudblood Granger and that blood traitor Weasley must be killed! I want to see their corpses lying at my feet before the night is out. Slice through their defenses; kill all in your path. Let no one be left alive. All of our plans for the future depend upon this. Go!”
Then he spoke to Nagini. Hagrid couldn’t understand the Parseltongue, but the monstrous snake did not join the attack and remained in his magical cage, surrounded by Death Eaters who were told only to await their master’s instructions.
At last, the dark wizard turned to Hagrid, who had continued to silently weep, seemingly without end. "You," the Dark Lord commanded, "Carry the body." Hagrid shook his head.
With a nod from the Dark Lord, Rowle lifted the silencing curse. "I won't," Hagrid sobbed, "soon's yeh lemme free, I'll rip you limb from limb!"
Then, the Dark Lord leaned in close to the half-giant. His words were soft, almost gentle with their terrific weight, "If you try, I will see to it that Weasley suffers greatly before he passes. And the Mudblood? Fenrir only has eyes for her."
Greyback, who was standing just off to the Dark Lord's right, spread his horrible face into a ghastly smile. Then the Dark Lord whispered, soothingly, "You can still spare them suffering. Or you can be the cause of more pain. The choice is yours."
* * *
Hagrid shifted, coughing fitfully as he finished his tale, tears streaming down his blackened face. Ron and Hermione, crushed by what they had heard, stared agape, their cheeks soaked.
"It's not your fault." Hermione sobbed as Ron tried to console her. It was taking all of Ron's will to keep from breaking down completely, but he still tried to share his strength with her.
Clearing his throat, Hagrid finished, “ 'T's not important now." He lifted a burned hand, resting it on Hermione's, which was entwined with Ron's. "Not important. But yeh two are." Hagrid took a ragged breath, choking back a sob, "He knows. Whate’er Harry knew, V-Voldemort knows now.”
As Hagrid spoke Voldemort’s name, Ron heard the sound of three people Apparating outside the cave.
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