:






THE MIRROR OF ERISED 3



 

Snape?

 

 

Yeahyer not still on abou that, are yeh? Look, Snape helped

protect

the Stone, hes not about ter steal it.

 

Harry knew Ron and Hermione were thinking the same as he was. If Snape had been in on protecting the Stone, it must have been easy to find out how the other teachers had guarded it. He probably knew everythingexcept, it seemed, Quirrells spell and how to get past Fluffy.

Youre the only one who knows how to get past Fluffy, arent you, Hagrid? said Harry anxiously. And you wouldnt tell anyone, would you? Not even one of the teachers?

Not a soul knows except me an Dumbledore, said Hagrid proudly.

Well, thats something, Harry muttered to the others. Hagrid, can we have a window open? Im boiling.

Cant, Harry, sorry, said Hagrid. Harry noticed him glance at the fire. Harry looked at it, too.

 

Hagridwhats

that?

 

But he already knew what it was. In the very heart of the fire, underneath the kettle, was a huge, black egg.

Ah, said Hagrid, fiddling nervously with his beard, Thats er

Where did you get it, Hagrid? said Ron, crouching over the fire to get a closer look at the egg. It mustve cost you a fortune.

Won it, said Hagrid. Las night. I was down in the village havin a few drinks an got into a game o cards with a stranger. Think he was quite glad ter get rid of it, ter be honest.

But what are you going to do with it when its hatched? said Hermione.

 

Well, Ive bin doin some readin, said Hagrid, pulling a large book from under his pillow. Got this outta the library

Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Profit

its a bit outta date, o course, but its all in here. Keep the egg in the fire, cause their mothers breathe on I em, see, an when it hatches, feed it on a bucket o brandy mixed with chicken blood every half hour. An see herehow ter recognize diffrent eggswhat I got theres a Norwegian Ridgeback. Theyre rare, them.

 

He looked very pleased with himself, but Hermione didnt.

 

Hagrid, you live in a

wooden house,

she said.

 

But Hagrid wasnt listening. He was humming merrily as he stoked the fire.

So now they had something else to worry about: what might happen to Hagrid if anyone found out he was hiding an illegal dragon in his hut.

Wonder what its like to have a peaceful life, Ron sighed, as evening after evening they struggled through all the extra homework they were getting. Hermione had now started making study schedules for Harry and Ron, too. It was driving them nuts.



 

Then, one breakfast time, Hedwig brought Harry another note from Hagrid. He had written only two words:

Its hatching.

 

Ron wanted to skip Herbology and go straight down to the hut. Hermione wouldnt hear of it.

Hermione, how many times in our lives are we going to see a dragon hatching?

Weve got lessons, well get into trouble, and thats nothing to what Hagrids going to be in when someone finds out what hes 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 didnt like the look on Malfoys face at all.

Ron and Hermione argued all the way to Herbology and in the end, Hermione agreed to run down to Hagrids 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.

Its 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 wasnt 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.

 

Isnt he

beautiful?

Hagrid murmured. He reached out a hand to stroke the dragons 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 facehe leapt to his feet and ran to the window.

Whats the matter?

Someone was lookin through the gap in the curtainsits a kidhes runnin back up ter the school.

Harry bolted to the door and looked out. Even at a distance there was no mistaking him.

Malfoy had seen the dragon.

Something about the smile lurking on Malfoys face during the next week made Harry, Ron, and Hermione very nervous. They spent most of their free time in Hagrids darkened hut, trying to reason with him.

Just let him go, Harry urged. Set him free.

I cant, said Hagrid. Hes too little. Hed 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 hadnt 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.

Ive decided to call him Norbert, said Hagrid, looking at the dragon with misty eyes. He really knows me now, watch. Norbert! Norbert! Wheres Mommy?

Hes lost his marbles, Ron muttered in Harrys ear.

Hagrid, said Harry loudly, give it two weeks and Norberts going to be as long as your house. Malfoy could go to Dumbledore at any moment.

Hagrid bit his lip.

II know I cant keep him forever, but I cant jus dump him, I cant.

Harry suddenly turned to Ron. Charlie, he said.

Youre losing it, too, said Ron. Im Ron, remember?

NoCharlieyour 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 him.

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 Harrys Invisibility Cloak. He had been down at Hagrids 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. Im not going to be able to hold a quill for a week. I tell you, that dragons the most horrible animal Ive ever met, but the way Hagrid goes on about it, youd 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.

Its Hedwig! said Harry, hurrying to let her in. Shell have Charlies answer!

The three of them put their heads together to read the note.

 

 

Dear Ron,

 

 

How are you? Thanks for the letterId be glad to take the Norwegian Ridgeback, but it wont 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 mustnt 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 its still dark.

 

 

Send me an answer as soon as possible.

 

 

Love,

 

 

Charlie

 

 

They looked at one another.

Weve got the Invisibility Cloak, said Harry. It shouldnt be too difficultI 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 Norbertand Malfoy.

There was a hitch. By the next morning, Rons bitten hand had swollen to twice its usual size. He didnt know whether it was safe to go to Madam Pomfreywould 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 Norberts 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.

Its not just my hand, he whispered, although that feels like its 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 meIve told her it was a dog, but I dont think she believes me. I shouldnt have hit him at the Quidditch match, thats why hes doing this.

Harry and Hermione tried to calm Ron down.

Itll all be over at midnight on Saturday, said Hermione, but this didnt 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 nooh noIve just rememberedCharlies letter was in that book Malfoy took, hes going to know were getting rid of Norbert.

Harry and Hermione didnt get a chance to answer. Madam Pomfrey came over at that moment and made them leave, saying Ron needed sleep.

 

Its too late to change the plan now, Harry told Hermione. We havent got time to send Charlie another owl, and this could be our only chance to get rid of Norbert. Well have to risk it. And we

have

got the Invisibility Cloak, Malfoy doesnt 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 wont let you in, he puffed. Norberts at a tricky stagenothin I cant handle.

When they told him about Charlies letter, his eyes filled with tears, although that might have been because Norbert had just bitten him on the leg.

Aargh! Its all right, he only got my bootjus playinhes only a baby, after all.

The baby banged its tail on the wall, making the windows rattle. Harry and Hermione walked back to the castle feeling Saturday couldnt come quickly enough.

They would have felt sorry for Hagrid when the time came for him to say good bye to Norbert if they hadnt been so worried about what they had to do. It was a very dark, cloudy night, and they were a bit late arriving at Hagrids hut because theyd had to wait for Peeves to get out of their way in the entrance hall, where hed been playing tennis against the wall. Hagrid had Norbert packed and ready in a large crate.

Hes got lots o rats an some brandy fer the journey, said Hagrid in a muffled voice. An Ive 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 you!

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 anothereven one of Harrys shortcuts didnt make the work much easier.

Nearly there! Harry panted as they reached the corridor beneath the tallest tower.

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 ear.

 

Detention! she shouted. And twenty points from Slytherin! Wandering around in the middle of the night, how

dare

you

 

You dont understand, Professor. Harry Potters cominghes got a dragon!

What utter rubbish! How dare you tell such lies! Come onI 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 theyd 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.

Malfoys got detention! I could sing!

Dont, 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.

Charlies friends were a cheery lot. They showed Harry and Hermione the harness theyd 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 dragonMalfoy in detentionwhat could spoil their happiness?

The answer to that was waiting at the foot of the stairs. As they stepped into the corridor, Filchs face loomed suddenly out of the darkness.

 

Well, well, well, he whispered, we

are

in trouble.

 

Theyd left the Invisibility Cloak on top of the tower.

 

15. THE FORBIDDEN FOREST

 

Things couldnt have been worse.

Filch took them down to Professor McGonagalls study on the first floor, where they sat and waited without saying a word to each other. Hermione was trembling. Excuses, alibis, and wild cover-up stories chased each other around Harrys brain, each more feeble than the last. He couldnt 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 couldnt 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. Its one oclock in the morning.

Explain yourselves.

 

It was the first time Hermione had ever failed to answer a teachers question. She was staring at her slippers, as still as a statue.

I think Ive got a good idea of whats been going on, said Professor McGonagall. It doesnt 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. Ive already caught him. I suppose you think its funny that Longbottom here heard the story and believed it, too?

Harry caught Nevilles eye and tried to tell him without words that this wasnt true, because Neville was looking stunned and hurt. Poor, blundering NevilleHarry knew what it must have cost him to try and find them in the dark, to warn them.

 

Im disgusted, said Professor McGonagall. Four students out of bed in one night! Ive never heard of such a thing before! You, Miss Granger, I thought you had more sense. As for you, Mr. Potter, I thought Gryffindor meant more to you than this. All three of you will receive detentionsyes, you too, Mr. Longbottom,

nothing

gives you the right to walk around school at night, especially these days, its very dangerousand fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor.

 

 

Fifty?

Harry gaspedthey would lose the lead, the lead hed won in the last Quidditch match.

 

 

Fifty points

each,

said Professor McGonagall, breathing heavily through her long, pointed nose.

 

Professorplease

 

You

cant

 

Dont tell me what I can and cant do, Potter. Now get back to bed, all of you. Ive never been more ashamed of Gryffindor students.

A hundred and fifty points lost. That put Gryffindor in last place. In one night, theyd ruined any chance Gryffindor had had for the house cup. Harry felt as though the bottom had dropped out of his stomach. How could they ever make up for this?

Harry didnt sleep all night. He could hear Neville sobbing into his pillow for what seemed like hours. Harry couldnt think of anything to say to comfort him. He knew Neville, like himself, was dreading the dawn. What would happen when the rest of Gryffindor found out what theyd done?

At first, Gryffindors passing the giant hourglasses that recorded the house points the next day thought thered been a mistake. How could they suddenly have a hundred and fifty points fewer than yesterday? And then the story started to spread: Harry Potter, the famous Harry Potter, their hero of two Quidditch matches, had lost them all those points, him and a couple of other stupid first years.

From being one of the most popular and admired people at the school, Harry was suddenly the most hated. Even Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs turned on him, because everyone had been longing to see Slytherin lose the house cup. Everywhere Harry went, people pointed and didnt trouble to lower their voices as they insulted him. Slytherins, on the other hand, clapped as he walked past them, whistling and cheering, Thanks, Potter, we owe you one!

Only Ron stood by him.

Theyll all forget this in a few weeks. Fred and George have lost loads of points in all the time theyve been here, and people still like them.

Theyve never lost a hundred and fifty points in one go, though, have they? said Harry miserably.

Wellno, Ron admitted.

It was a bit late to repair the damage, but Harry swore to himself not to meddle in things that werent his business from now on. Hed had it with sneaking around and spying. He felt so ashamed of himself that he went to Wood and offered to resign from the Quidditch team.

 

Resign?

Wood thundered. What goodll that do? How are we going to get any points back if we cant win at Quidditch?

 

But even Quidditch had lost its fun. The rest of the team wouldnt speak to Harry during practice, and if they had to speak about him, they called him the Seeker.

Hermione and Neville were suffering, too. They didnt have as bad a time as Harry, because they werent as well known, but nobody would speak to them, either. Hermione had stopped drawing attention to herself in class, keeping her head down and working in silence.

Harry was almost glad that the exams werent far away. All the studying he had to do kept his mind off his misery. He, Ron, and Hermione kept to themselves, working late into the night, trying to remember the ingredients in complicated potions, learn charms and spells by heart, memorize the dates of magical discoveries and goblin rebellions

Then, about a week before the exams were due to start, Harrys new resolution not to interfere in anything that didnt concern him was put to an unexpected test. Walking back from the library on his own one afternoon, he heard somebody whimpering from a classroom up ahead. As he drew closer, he heard Quirrells voice.

Nononot again, please

It sounded as though someone was threatening him. Harry moved closer.

All rightall right he heard Quirrell sob.

Next second, Quirrell came hurrying out of the classroom straightening his turban. He was pale and looked as though he was about to cry. He strode out of sight; Harry didnt think Quirrell had even noticed him. He waited until Quirrells footsteps had disappeared, then peered into the classroom. It was empty, but a door stood ajar at the other end. Harry was halfway toward it before he remembered what hed promised himself about not meddling.

All the same, hed have gambled twelve Sorcerers Stones that Snape had just left the room, and from what Harry had just heard, Snape would be walking with a new spring in his stepQuirrell seemed to have given in at last.

Harry went back to the library, where Hermione was testing Ron on Astronomy. Harry told them what hed heard.

Snapes done it, then! said Ron. If Quirrells told him how to break his Anti Dark Force spell

Theres still Fluffy, though, said Hermione.

Maybe Snapes found out how to get past him without asking Hagrid, said Ron, looking up at the thousands of books surrounding them. I bet theres a book somewhere in here telling you how to get past a giant three headed dog. So what do we do, Harry?

The light of adventure was kindling again in Rons eyes, but Hermione answered before Harry could.

Go to Dumbledore. Thats what we should have done ages ago. If we try anything ourselves well be thrown out for sure.

 

But weve got no

proof!

said Harry. Quirrells too scared to back us up. Snapes only got to say he doesnt know how the troll got in at Halloween and that he was nowhere near the third floorwho do you think theyll believe, him or us? Its not exactly a secret we hate him, Dumbledorell think we made it up to get him sacked. Filch wouldnt help us if his life depended on it, hes too friendly with Snape, and the more students get thrown out, the better, hell think. And dont forget, were not supposed to know about the Stone or Fluffy. Thatll take a lot of explaining.

 

Hermione looked convinced, but Ron didnt.

If we just do a bit of poking around

No, said Harry flatly, weve done enough poking around.

He pulled a map of Jupiter toward him and started to learn the names of its moons.

The following morning, notes were delivered to Harry, Hermione, and Neville at the breakfast table. They were all the same:

 

 

Your detention will take place at eleven oclock tonight.

 

 

Meet Mr. Filch in the entrance hall.

 

 

Professor McGonagall

 

 

Harry had forgotten they still had detentions to do in the furor over the points theyd lost. He half expected Hermione to complain that this was a whole night of studying lost, but she didnt say a word. Like Harry, she felt they deserved what theyd got.

At eleven oclock that night, they said good bye to Ron in the common room and went down to the entrance hall with Neville. Filch was already thereand so was Malfoy. Harry had also forgotten that Malfoy had gotten a detention, too.

Follow me, said Filch, lighting a lamp and leading them outside.

I bet youll think twice about breaking a school rule again, wont you, eh? he said, leering at them. Oh yes hard work and pain are the best teachers if you ask me Its just a pity they let the old punishments die out hang you by your wrists from the ceiling for a few days, Ive got the chains still in my office, keep em well oiled in case theyre ever needed Right, off we go, and dont think of running off, now, itll be worse for you if you do.

They marched off across the dark grounds. Neville kept sniffing. Harry wondered what their punishment was going to be. It must be something really horrible, or Filch wouldnt be sounding so delighted.

The moon was bright, but clouds scudding across it kept throwing them into darkness. Ahead, Harry could see the lighted windows of Hagrids hut. Then they heard a distant shout.

Is that you, Filch? Hurry up, I want ter get started.

Harrys heart rose; if they were going to be working with Hagrid it wouldnt be so bad. His relief must have showed in his face, because Filch said, I suppose you think youll be enjoying yourself with that oaf? Well, think again, boyits into the forest youre going and Im much mistaken if youll all come out in one piece.

At this, Neville let out a little moan, and Malfoy stopped dead in his tracks.

The forest? he repeated, and he didnt sound quite as cool as usual. We cant go in there at nighttheres all sorts of things in therewerewolves, I heard.

Neville clutched the sleeve of Harrys robe and made a choking noise.

Thats your problem, isnt it? said Filch, his voice cracking with glee. Shouldve thought of them werewolves before you got in trouble, shouldnt you?

Hagrid came striding toward them out of the dark, Fang at his heel. He was carrying his large crossbow, and a quiver of arrows hung over his shoulder.

Abou time, he said. I bin waitin fer half an hour already. All right, Harry, Hermione?

I shouldnt be too friendly to them, Hagrid, said Filch coldly, theyre here to be punished, after all.

Thats why yer late, is it? said Hagrid, frowning at Filch. Bin lecturin them, eh? Snot your place ter do that. Yehve done yer bit, Ill take over from here.

Ill be back at dawn, said Filch, for whats left of them, he added nastily, and he turned and started back toward the castle, his lamp bobbing away in the darkness.

Malfoy now turned to Hagrid.

Im not going in that forest, he said, and Harry was pleased to hear the note of panic in his voice.

Yeh are if yeh want ter stay at Hogwarts, said Hagrid fiercely. Yehve done wrong an now yehve got ter pay fer it.

But this is servant stuff, its not for students to do. I thought wed be copying lines or something, if my father knew I was doing this, hed

tell yer thats how it is at Hogwarts, Hagrid growled. Copyin lines! What goods that ter anyone? Yehll do summat useful or yehll get out. If yeh think yer fatherd rather you were expelled, then get back off ter the castle an pack. Go on.

Malfoy didnt move. He looked at Hagrid furiously, but then dropped his gaze.

Right then, said Hagrid, now, listen carefully, cause its dangerous what were gonna do tonight, an I don want no one takin risks. Follow me over here a moment.

He led them to the very edge of the forest. Holding his lamp up high, he pointed down a narrow, winding earth track that disappeared into the thick black trees. A light breeze lifted their hair as they looked into the forest.

Look there, said Hagrid, see that stuff shinin on the ground? Silvery stuff? Thats unicorn blood. Theres a unicorn in there bin hurt badly by summat. This is the second time in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. Were gonna try an find the poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery.

And what if whatever hurt the unicorn finds us first? said Malfoy, unable to keep the fear out of his voice.

Theres nothin that lives in the forest thatll hurt yeh if yer with me or Fang, said Hagrid. An keep ter the path. Right, now, were gonna split inter two parties an follow the trail in diffrent directions. Theres blood all over the place, it mustve bin staggerin around since last night at least.

I want Fang, said Malfoy quickly, looking at Fangs long teeth.

All right, but I warn yeh, hes a coward, said Hagrid. So me, Harry, an Hermionell go one way an Draco, Neville, an Fangll go the other. Now, if any of us finds the unicorn, well send up green sparks, right? Get yer wands out an practice nowthats itan if anyone gets in trouble, send up red sparks, an well all come an find yehso, be carefullets go.





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