“Come on, Harry, he was just showing off for Parkinson... What kind of mission would You-Know-Who have given him?”
“How d'you know Voldemort doesn't need someone at Hogwarts? It wouldn't be the first —”
“I wish yeh'd stop sayin’ tha name, Harry,” said a reproachful voice behind them. Harry looked over his shoulder to see Hagtid shaking his head.
“Dumbledore uses that name,” said Harry stubbornly.
“Yeah, well, tha's Dumbledore, innit?” said Hagrid mysteriously. “So how come yeh were late, Harry? I was worried.”
“Got held up on the train,” said Harry. “Why were you late?”
“I was with Grawp,” said Hagrid happily. “Los’ track o’ the time. He's got a new home up in the mountains now, Dumbledore fixed it—nice big cave. He's much
happier than he was in the forest. We were havin’ a good chat.”
“Really?” said Harry, taking care not to catch Ron's eye; the last time he had met Hagrid's half-brother, a vicious giant with a talent for ripping up trees by the
roots, his vocabulary had comprised five words, two of which he was unable to pronounce properly.
“Oh yeah, he's really come on,” said Hagrid proudly. “Yeh'll be amazed. I'm thinkin’ o’ trainin’ him up as me assistant.”
Ron snorted loudly, but managed to pass it off as a violent sneeze. They were now standing beside the oak front doors.
“Anyway, I'll see yeh tomorrow, firs’ lesson's straight after lunch. Come early an’ yeh can say hello ter Buck — I mean, Witherwings!”
Raising an arm in cheery farewell, he headed out of the doors into the darkness.
Harry and Ron looked at each other. Harry could tell that Ron was experiencing the same sinking feeling as himself.
“You're not taking Care of Magical Creatures, are you?”
Ron shook his head. “And you're not either, are you?”
Harry shook his head too.
“And Hermione,” said Ron, “she's not, is she?”
Harry shook his head again. Exactly what Hagrid would say when he realized his three favorite students had given up his subject, he did not like to think.