Then, one breakfast time, Hedwig brought Harry another note from Hagrid. He had
written only two words: It's hatching.
Ron wanted to skip Herbology and go straight down to the hut. Hermione wouldn't
hear of it.
"Hermione, how many times in our lives are we going to see a dragon hatching?"
"We've got lessons, we'll get into trouble, and that's nothing to what Hagrid's
going to be in when someone finds out what he's doing - — "
"Shut up!" Harry whispered.
Malfoy was only a few feet away and he had stopped dead to listen. How much had
he heard? Harry didn't like the look on Malfoy's face at all.
Ron and Hermione argued all the way to Herbology and in the end, Hermione agreed
to run down to Hagrid's with the other two during morning break. When the bell sounded
from the castle at the end of their lesson, the three of them dropped their trowels
at once and hurried through the grounds to the edge of the forest. Hagrid greeted
them, looking flushed and excited.
"It's nearly out." He ushered them inside.
The egg was lying on the table. There were deep cracks in it. Something was moving
inside; a funny clicking noise was coming from it.
They all drew their chairs up to the table and watched with bated breath.
All at once there was a scraping noise and the egg split open. The baby dragon
flopped onto the table. It wasn't exactly pretty; Harry thought it looked like a
crumpled, black umbrella. Its spiny wings were huge compared to its skinny jet body,
it had a long snout with wide nostrils, the stubs of horns and bulging, orange eyes.
It sneezed. A couple of sparks flew out of its snout.
"Isn't he beautiful?" Hagrid murmured. He reached out a hand to stroke the dragon's
head. It snapped at his fingers, showing pointed fangs.
"Bless him, look, he knows his mommy!" said Hagrid.
"Hagrid," said Hermione, "how fast do Norwegian Ridgebacks grow, exactly?"
Hagrid was about to answer when the color suddenly drained from his face -- he
leapt to his feet and ran to the window.
"What's the matter?"
"Someone was lookin' through the gap in the curtains — it's a kid -- he's runnin'
back up ter the school."
Harry bolted to the door and looked out. Even at a distance there was no mistaking
Malfoy had seen the dragon.
Something about the smile lurking on Malfoy's face during the next week made
Harry, Ron, and Hermione very nervous. They spent most of their free time in Hagrid's
darkened hut, trying to reason with him.
"Just let him go," Harry urged. "Set him free."
"I can't," said Hagrid. "He's too little. He'd die."
They looked at the dragon. It had grown three times in length in just a week.
Smoke kept furling out of its nostrils. Hagrid hadn't been doing his gamekeeping
duties because the dragon was keeping him so busy. There were empty brandy bottles
and chicken feathers all over the floor.
"I've decided to call him Norbert," said Hagrid, looking at the dragon with misty
eyes. "He really knows me now, watch. Norbert! Norbert! Where's Mommy?"
"He's lost his marbles," Ron muttered in Harry's ear.
"Hagrid," said Harry loudly, "give it two weeks and Norbert's going to be as
long as your house. Malfoy could go to Dumbledore at any moment."
Hagrid bit his lip.
"I — I know I can't keep him forever, but I can't jus' dump him, I can't."
Harry suddenly turned to Ron. Charlie, he said.
"You're losing it, too," said Ron. "I'm Ron, remember?"
"No — Charlie — your brother, Charlie. In Romania. Studying dragons. We could
send Norbert to him. Charlie can take care of him and then put him back in the wild!"
"Brilliant!" said Ron. "How about it, Hagrid?"
And in the end, Hagrid agreed that they could send -an owl to Charlie to ask
The following week dragged by. Wednesday night found Hermione and Harry sitting
alone in the common room, long after everyone else had gone to bed. The clock on
the wall had just
chimed midnight when the portrait hole burst open. Ron appeared out of nowhere
as he pulled off Harry's invisibility cloak. He had been down at Hagrid's hut, helping
him feed Norbert, who was now eating dead rats by the crate.
"It bit me!" he said, showing them his hand, which was wrapped in a bloody handkerchief.
"I'm not going to be able to hold a quill for a week. I tell you, that dragon's
the most horrible animal I've ever met, but the way Hagrid goes on about it, you'd
think it was a fluffy little bunny rabbit. When it bit me he told me off for frightening
it. And when I left, he was singing it a lullaby."
There was a tap on the dark window.
"It's Hedwig!" said Harry, hurrying to let her in. "She'll have Charlie's answer!"
The three of them put their heads together to read the note.
How are you? Thanks for the letter — I'd be glad to take the Norwegian Ridgeback,
but it won't be easy getting him here. I think the best thing will be to send him
over with some friends of mine who are coming to visit me next week. Trouble is,
they mustn't be seen carrying an illegal dragon.
Could you get the Ridgeback up the tallest tower at midnight on Saturday? They
can meet you there and take him away while it's still dark.
Send me an answer as soon as possible.
They looked at one another.
"We've got the invisibility cloak," said Harry. "It shouldn't be too difficult
— I think the cloaks big enough to cover two of us and Norbert."
It was a mark of how bad the last week had been that the other two agreed with
him. Anything to get rid of Norbert — and Malfoy.
There was a hitch. By the next morning, Ron's bitten hand had swollen to twice
its usual size. He didn't know whether it was safe to go to Madam Pomfrey — would
she recognize a dragon bite? By the afternoon, though, he had no choice. The cut
had turned a nasty shade of green. It looked as if Norbert's fangs were poisonous.
Harry and Hermione rushed up to the hospital wing at the end of the day to find
Ron in a terrible state in bed.
"It's not just my hand," he whispered, "although that feels like it's about to
fall off. Malfoy told Madam Pomfrey he wanted to borrow one of my books so he could
come and have a good laugh at me. He kept threatening to tell her what really bit
me — I've told her it was a dog, but I don't think she believes me -I shouldn't
have hit him at the Quidditch match, that's why he's doing this."
Harry and Hermione tried to calm Ron down.
"It'll all be over at midnight on Saturday," said Hermione, but this didn't soothe
Ron at all. On the contrary, he sat bolt upright and broke into a sweat.
"Midnight on Saturday!" he said in a hoarse voice. "Oh no oh no — I've just remembered
— Charlie's letter was in that book Malfoy took, he's going to know we're getting
rid of Norbert."
Harry and Hermione didn't get a chance to answer. Madam Pomfrey came over at
that moment and made them leave, saying Ron needed sleep.
"It's too late to change the plan now," Harry told Hermione. "We haven't got
time to send Charlie another owl, and this could be our only chance to get rid of
Norbert. We'll have to risk it. And we have got the invisibility cloak, Malfoy doesn't
know about that."
They found Fang, the boarhound, sitting outside with a bandaged tail when they
went to tell Hagrid, who opened a window to talk to them.
"I won't let you in," he puffed. "Norbert's at a tricky stage — nothin' I can't
When they told him about Charlie's letter, his eyes filled with tears, although
that might have been because Norbert had just bitten him on the leg.
"Aargh! It's all right, he only got my boot — jus' playin' — he's only a baby,
The baby banged its tail on the wall, making the windows rattle. Harry and Hermione
walked back to the castle feeling Saturday couldn't come quickly enough.
They would have felt sorry for Hagrid when the time came for him to say good-bye
to Norbert if they hadn't been so worried about what they had to do. It was a very
dark, cloudy night, and they were a bit late arriving at Hagrid's hut because they'd
had to wait for Peeves to get out of their way in the entrance hall, where he'd
been playing tennis against the wall. Hagrid had Norbert packed and ready in a large
"He's got lots o' rats an' some brandy fer the journey," said Hagrid in a muffled
voice. "An' I've packed his teddy bear in case he gets lonely."
From inside the crate came ripping noises that sounded to Harry as though the
teddy was having his head torn off.
"Bye-bye, Norbert!" Hagrid sobbed, as Harry and Hermione covered the crate with
the invisibility cloak and stepped underneath it themselves. "Mommy will never forget
How they managed to get the crate back up to the castle, they never knew. Midnight
ticked nearer as they heaved Norbert up the marble staircase in the entrance hall
and along the dark corridors. UP another staircase, then another — even one of Harry's
shortcuts didn't make the work much easier.
"Nearly there!" Harry panted as they reached the corridor beneath the tallest
Then a sudden movement ahead of them made them almost drop the crate. Forgetting
that they were already invisible, they shrank into the shadows, staring at the dark
outlines of two people grappling with each other ten feet away. A lamp flared.
Professor McGonagall, in a tartan bathrobe and a hair net, had Malfoy by the
"Detention!" she shouted. "And twenty points from Slytherin! Wandering around
in the middle of the night, how dare you - — "
"You don't understand, Professor. Harry Potter's coming — he's got a dragon!"
"What utter rubbish! How dare you tell such lies! Come on — I shall see Professor
Snape about you, Malfoy!"
The steep spiral staircase up to the top of the tower seemed the easiest thing
in the world after that. Not until they'd stepped out into the cold night air did
they throw off the cloak, glad to be able to breathe properly again. Hermione did
a sort of jig.
"Malfoy's got detention! I could sing!"
"Don't," Harry advised her.
Chuckling about Malfoy, they waited, Norbert thrashing about in his crate. About
ten minutes later, four broomsticks came swooping down out of the darkness.
Charlie's friends were a cheery lot. They showed Harry and Hermione the harness
they'd rigged up, so they could suspend Norbert between them. They all helped buckle
Norbert safely into it and then Harry and Hermione shook hands with the others and
thanked them very much.
At last, Norbert was going... going... gone.
They slipped back down the spiral staircase, their hearts as light as their hands,
now that Norbert was off them. No more dragon — Malfoy in detention — what could
spoil their happiness?
The answer to that was waiting at the foot of the stairs. As they stepped into
the corridor, Filch's face loomed suddenly out of the darkness.
"Well, well, well," he whispered, "we are in trouble."
They'd left the invisibility cloak on top of the tower.
THE FORIBIDDEN FOREST
Things couldn't have been worse.
Filch took them down to Professor McGonagall's study on the first floor, where
they sat and waited without saying a word to each other. Hermione was trembling.
Excuses, alibis, and wild coverup stories chased each other around Harry's brain,
each more feeble than the last. He couldn't see how they were going to get out of
trouble this time. They were cornered. How could they have been so stupid as to
forget the cloak? There was no reason on earth that Professor McGonagall would accept
for their being out of bed and creeping around the school in the dead of night,
let alone being up the tallest astronomy tower, which was out-of-bounds except for
classes. Add Norbert and the invisibility cloak, and they might as well be packing
their bags already.
Had Harry thought that things couldn't have been worse? He was wrong. When Professor
McGonagall appeared, she was leading Neville.
"Harry!" Neville burst Out, the moment he saw the other two. "I was trying to
find you to warn you, I heard Malfoy saying he was going to catch you, he said you
had a drag - — "
Harry shook his head violently to shut Neville up, but Professor McGonagall had
seen. She looked more likely to breathe fire than Norbert as she towered over the
three of them.
"I would never have believed it of any of you. Mr. Filch says you were up in
the astronomy tower. It's one o'clock in the morning. Explain yourselves."
It was the first time Hermione had ever failed to answer a teacher's question.
She was staring at her slippers, as still as a statue.
"I think I've got a good idea of what's been going on," said Professor McGonagall.
"It doesn't take a genius to work it out. You fed Draco Malfoy some cock-and-bull
story about a dragon, trying to get him out of bed and into trouble. I've already
caught him. I suppose you think it's funny that Longbottom here heard the story
and believed it, too?"
Harry caught Neville's eye and tried to tell him without words that this wasn't
true, because Neville was looking stunned and hurt. Poor, blundering Neville — Harry
knew what it must have cost him to try and find them in the dark, to warn them.