'And you talked to him?'
'Oh yeah. Firs' we presented him with a nice battle helmet -goblin-made an'
indestructible, yeh know - an' then we sat down an' we talked.'
'What did he say?'
'Not much,' said Hagrid. 'Listened mostly. Bu' there were good signs. He'd
heard o' Dumbledore, heard he'd argued against the killin' o' the last giants
in Britain. Karkus seemed ter be quite int'rested in what Dumbledore had ter
say. An' a few o' the others, 'specially the ones who had some English, they
gathered round an' listened too. We were hopeful when we left that day. Promised
ter come back next mornin' with another present. Bu' that night it all wen'
What d'you mean?' said Ron quickly.
'Well, like I say, they're not meant ter live together, giants,' said Hagrid
sadly. 'Not in big groups like that. They can' help themselves, they half kill
each other every few weeks. The men fight each other an' the women fight each
other; the remnants of the old tribes fight each other, an' that's even without
squabbles over food an' the best fires an' sleepin' spots. Yeh'd think, seein'
as how their whole race is abou' finished, they'd lay off each other, bu':'
Hagrid sighed deeply.
That night a fight broke out, we saw it from the mouth of our cave, lookin'
down on the valley. Went on fer hours, yeh wouldn' believe the noise. An' when
the sun came up the snow was scarlet an' his head was lyin' at the bottom o'
'Whose head?' gasped Hermione.
'Karkus's,' said Hagrid heavily. There was a new Gurg, Golgomath.' He sighed
deeply. 'Well, we hadn' bargained on a new Gurg two days after we'd made friendly
contact with the firs' one, an' we had a funny feelin' Golgomath wouldn' be
so keen ter listen to us, bu' we had ter try.'
'You went to speak to him?' asked Ron incredulously. 'After you'd watched
him rip off another giant's head?'
'Course we did,' said Hagrid, 'we hadn' gone all that way ter give up after
two days! We wen' down with the next present we'd meant ter give ter Karkus.
'I knew it was no go before I'd opened me mouth. He was sitting there wearin'
Karkus's helmet, leerin' at us as we got nearer. He's massive, one o' the biggest
ones there. Black hair an' matchin' teeth an' a necklace o' bones. Human-lookin'
bones, some of 'em. Well, I gave it a go - held out a great roll o' dragon skin
- an' said, "A gift fer the Gurg of the giants -" Nex' thing I knew, I was hangin'
upside-down in the air by me feet, two of his mates had grabbed me.'
Hermione clapped her hands to her mouth.
'How did you get out of that?' asked Harry.
'Wouldn'ta done if Olympe hadn' bin there,' said Hagrid. 'She pulled out
her wand an' did some o' the fastes' spellwork I've ever seen. Ruddy marvellous.
Hit the two holdin' me right in the eyes with Conjunctivitus Curses an' they
dropped me straightaway -bu' we were in trouble then, 'cause we'd used magic
against 'em, an' that's what giants hate abou' wizards. We had ter leg it an'
we knew there was no way we was going ter be able ter march inter the camp again.'
'Blimey, Hagrid,' said Ron quietly.
'So, how come it's taken you so long to get home if you were only there for
three days?' asked Hermione.
We didn' leave after three days!' said Hagrid, looking outraged. 'Dumbledore
was relyin' on us!'
'But you've just said there was no way you could go back!'
'Not by daylight we couldn', no. We just had ter rethink a bit. Spent a couple
o' days lyin' low up in the cave an' watchin'. An' wha' we saw wasn' good.'
'Did he rip off more heads?' asked Hermione, sounding squeamish.
'No,' said Hagrid, 'I wish he had.'
'What d'you mean?'
'I mean we soon found out he didn' object ter all wizards - just us.'
'Death Eaters?' said Harry quickly.
'Yep,' said Hagrid darkly. 'Couple of 'em were visitin' him ev'ry day, bringin'
gifts ter the Gurg, an' he wasn' dangling them upside-down.'
'How d'you know they were Death Eaters?' said Ron.
'Because I recognised one of 'em,' Hagrid growled. 'Macnair, remember him?
Bloke they sent ter kill Buckbeak? Maniac, he is. Likes killin' as much as Golgomath;
no wonder they were gettin' on so well.'
'So Macnairs persuaded the giants to join You-Know-Who?' said Hermione desperately.
'Hold yer Hippogriffs, I haven' finished me story yet!' said Hagrid indignantly,
who, considering he had not wanted to tell them anything in the first place,
now seemed to be rather enjoying himself. 'Me an' Olympe talked it over an'
we agreed, jus'
'cause the Gurg looked like favourin' You-Know-Who didn' mean all of 'em
would. We had ter try an' persuade some o' the others, the ones who hadn' wanted
Golgomath as Gurg.'
'How could you tell which ones they were?' asked Ron.
'Well, they were the ones bein' beaten to a pulp, weren' they?' said Hagrid
patiently. The ones with any sense were keepin' outta Golgomath's way, hidin'
out in caves roun' the gully jus' like we were. So we decided we'd go pokin'
round the caves by night an' see if we couldn' persuade a few o' them.'
'You went poking around dark caves looking for giants?' said Ron, with awed
respect in his voice.
'Well, it wasn' the giants who worried us most,' said Hagrid. We were more
concerned abou' the Death Eaters. Dumbledore had told us before we wen' not
ter tangle with 'em if we could avoid it, an' the trouble was they knew we was
around - 'spect Golgomath told 'em abou' us. At night, when the giants were
sleepin' an' we wanted ter be creepin' inter the caves, Macnair an' the other
one were sneakin' round the mountains lookin' fer us. I was hard put to stop
Olympe jumpin' out at 'em,' said Hagrid, the corners of his mouth lifting his
wild beard, 'she was rarin' ter attack 'em: she's somethin' when she's roused,
Olympe: fiery, yeh know: 'spect it's the French in her:'
Hagrid gazed misty-eyed into the fire. Harry allowed him thirty seconds of
reminiscence before clearing his throat loudly.
'So, what happened? Did you ever get near any of the other giants?'
'What? Oh: oh, yeah, we did. Yeah, on the third night after Karkus was killed
we crept outta the cave we'd bin hidin' in an' headed back down inter the gully,
keepin' our eyes skinned fer the Death Eaters. Got inside a few o' the caves,
no go - then, in abou' the sixth one, we found three giants hidin'.'
'Cave must've been cramped,' said Ron.
'Wasn' room ter swing a Kneazle,' said Hagrid.
'Didn't they attack you when they saw you?' asked Hermione.
'Probably woulda done if they'd bin in any condition,' said Hagrid, 'but
they was badly hurt, all three o' them; Golgomath's lot had beaten 'em unconscious;
they'd woken up an' crawled inter the nearest shelter they could find. Anyway,
one o' them had a bit of English an' he translated fer the others, an' what
we had ter say didn' seem ter go down too badly. So we kep' goin' back, visitin'
the wounded: I reckon we had abou' six or seven o' them convinced at one point.'
'Six or seven?' said Ron eagerly. 'Well that's not bad - are they going to
come over here and start fighting You-Know-Who with us?'
But Hermione said, 'What do you mean "at one point", Hagrid?'
Hagrid looked at her sadly.
'Golgomath's lot raided the caves. The ones tha' survived didn' wan' no more
ter to do with us after that.'
'So: so there aren't any giants coming?' said Ron, looking disappointed.
'Nope,' said Hagrid, heaving a deep sigh as he turned over his steak and
applied the cooler side to his face, 'but we did wha' we meant ter do, we gave
'em Dumbledore's message an' some o' them heard it an' I spect some o' them'll
remember it. Jus' maybe, them that don' want ter stay around Golgomath'll move
outta the mountains, an' there's gotta be a chance they'll remember Dumbledore's
friendly to 'em: could be they'll come.'
Snow was filling up the window now. Harry became aware that the knees of
his robes were soaked through: Fang was drooling with his head in Harry's lap.
'Hagrid?' said Hermione quietly after a while.
'Did you: was there any sign of: did you hear anything about your: your:
mother while you were there?'
Hagrid's unobscured eye rested upon her and Hermione looked rather scared.
'I'm sorry: I: forget it -'
'Dead,' Hagrid grunted. 'Died years ago. They told me.'
'Oh: I'm: I'm really sorry' said Hermione in a very small voice. Hagrid shrugged
his massive shoulders.
'No need,' he said shortly. 'Can't remember her much. Wasn' a great mother.'
They were silent again. Hermione glanced nervously at Harry and Ron, plainly
wanting them to speak.
'But you still haven't explained how you got in this state, Hagrid,' Ron
said, gesturing towards Hagrid's bloodstained face.
'Or why you're back so late,' said Harry. 'Sirius says Madame Maxime got
back ages ago -'
'Who attacked you?' said Ron.
'I haven' bin attacked!' said Hagrid emphatically. 'I -'
But the rest of his words were drowned in a sudden outbreak of rapping on
the door. Hermione gasped; her mug slipped through her fingers and smashed on
the floor; Fang yelped. All four of them stared at the window beside the doorway.
The shadow of somebody small and squat rippled across the thin curtain.
'It's her!' Ron whispered.
'Get under here!' Harry said quickly; seizing the Invisibility Cloak, he
whirled it over himself and Hermione while Ron tore around the table and dived
under the Cloak as well. Huddled together, they backed away into a corner. Fang
was barking madly at the door. Hagrid looked thoroughly confused.
'Hagrid, hide our mugs!'
Hagrid seized Harry and Ron's mugs and shoved them under the cushion in Fang's
basket. Fang was now leaping up at the door; Hagrid pushed him out of the way
with his foot and pulled it open.
Professor Umbridge was standing in the doorway wearing her green tweed cloak
and a matching hat with earflaps. Lips pursed, she leaned back so as to see
Hagrid's face; she barely reached his navel.
'So,' she said slowly and loudly, as though speaking to somebody deaf. 'You're
Hagrid, are you?'
Without waiting for an answer she strolled into the room, her bulging eyes
rolling in every direction.
'Get away,' she snapped, waving her handbag at Fang, who had bounded up to
her and was attempting to lick her face.
'Er - I don' want ter be rude,' said Hagrid, staring at her, 'but who the
ruddy hell are you?'
'My name is Dolores Umbridge.'
Her eyes were sweeping the cabin. Twice they stared directly into the corner
where Harry stood, sandwiched between Ron and Hermione.
'Dolores Umbridge?' Hagrid said, sounding thoroughly confused. 'I thought
you were one o' them Ministry - don' you work with Fudge?'
'I was Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, yes,' said Umbridge, now pacing
around the cabin, taking in every tiny detail within, from the haversack against
the wall to the abandoned travelling cloak. 'I am now the Defence Against the
Dark Arts teacher -'
Tha's brave of yeh,' said Hagrid, 'there's not many'd take tha' job any more.'
'- and Hogwarts High Inquisitor,' said Umbridge, giving no sign that she
had heard him.
'Wha's that?' said Hagrid, frowning.
'Precisely what I was going to ask,' said Umbridge, pointing at the broken
shards of china on the floor that had been Hermione's mug.
'Oh,' said Hagrid, with a most unhelpful glance towards the corner where
Harry, Ron and Hermione stood hidden, 'oh, tha' was: was Fang. He broke a mug.
So I had ter use this one instead.'
Hagrid pointed to the mug from which he had been drinking, one hand still
clamped over the dragon steak pressed to his eye. Umbridge stood facing him
now, taking in every detail of his appearance instead of the cabin's.
'I heard voices,' she said quietly.
'I was talkin' ter Fang,' said Hagrid stoutly.
'And was he talking back to you?'
'Well: in a manner o' speakin',' said Hagrid, looking uncomfortable. 'I sometimes
say Fang's near enough human -'
There are three sets of footprints in the snow leading from the castle doors
to your cabin,' said Umbridge sleekly.
Hermione gasped; Harry clapped a hand over her mouth. Luckily, Fang was sniffing
loudly around the hem of Professor Umbridge's robes and she did not appear to
'Well, I on'y jus' got back,' said Hagrid, waving an enormous hand at the
haversack. 'Maybe someone came ter call earlier an' I missed 'em.'