Monday, November 15, 2010

‘Dumbledore would know if something had happened to Hagrid,

‘Dumbledore would know if something had happened to Hagrid,’ said Hermione at once. ‘It's just playing into Malfoy's hands to look worried; it tells him we don't know exactly what's going on. We've got to ignore him, Harry. Here, hold the Bowtruckle for a moment, just so I can draw its face ...’

‘Yes,’ came Malfoy's clear drawl from the group nearest them, ‘Father was talking to the Minister just a couple of days ago, you know, and it sounds as though the Ministry's really determined to crack down on sub-standard teaching in this place. So even if that overgrown moron does show up again, he'll probably be sent packing straightaway.’


Harry had gripped the Bowtruckle so hard that it had almost snapped, and it had just taken a great retaliatory swipe at his hand with its sharp fingers, leaving two long deep cuts there. Harry dropped it. Crabbe and Goyle, who had already been guffawing at the idea of Hagrid being sacked, laughed still harder as the Bowtruckle set off at full tilt towards the Forest, a little moving stick-man soon swallowed up among the tree roots. When the bell echoed distantly over the grounds, Harry rolled up his blood-stained Bowtruckle picture and marched off to Herbology with his hand wrapped in Hermione's handkerchief, and Malfoy's derisive laughter still ringing in his ears.

‘If he calls Hagrid a moron one more time ...’ said Harry through gritted teeth.

‘Harry, don't go picking a row with Malfoy, don't forget, he's a prefect now, he could make life difficult for you ...’

‘Wow, I wonder what it'd be like to have a difficult life?’ said Harry sarcastically. Ron laughed, but Hermione frowned. Together, they traipsed across the vegetable patch. The sky still appeared unable to make up its mind whether it wanted to rain or not.

‘I just wish Hagrid would hurry up and get back, that's all,’ said Harry in a low voice, as they reached the greenhouses. ‘And don't say that Grubbly-Plank woman's a better teacher!’ he added threateningly.

‘I wasn't going to,’ said Hermione calmly.

‘Because she'll never be as good as Hagrid,’ said Harry firmly, fully aware that he had just experienced an exemplary Care of Magical Creatures lesson and was thoroughly annoyed about it.

The door of the nearest greenhouse opened and some fourth-years spilled out of it, including Ginny.

‘Hi,’ she said brightly as she passed. A few seconds later, Luna Lovegood emerged, trailing behind the rest of the class, a smudge of earth on her nose, and her hair tied in a knot on the top of her head. When she saw Harry, her prominent eyes seemed to bulge excitedly and she made a beeline straight for him. Many of his classmates turned curiously to watch. Luna took a great breath and then said, without so much as a preliminary hello, ‘I believe He Who Must Not Be Named is back and I believe you fought him and escaped from him.’

‘Er—right,’ said Harry awkwardly. Luna was wearing what looked like a pair of orange radishes for earrings, a fact that Parvati and Lavender seemed to have noticed, as they were both giggling and pointing at her earlobes.

‘You can laugh,’ Luna said, her voice rising, apparently under the impression that Parvati and Lavender were laughing at what she had said rather than what she was wearing, ‘but people used to believe there were no such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack!’

‘Well, they were right, weren't they?’ said Hermione impatiently. There weren't any such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack.’

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