– CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE –
Ron’s euphoria at helping Gryffindor scrape the Quidditch cup was such that he couldn’t settle to anything next day. All he wanted to do was talk over the match, so Harry and Hermione found it very difficult to find an opening in which to mention Grawp. Not that either of them tried very hard; neither was keen to be the one to bring Ron back to reality in quite such a brutal fashion. As it was another fine, warm day, they persuaded him to join them in revising under the beech tree at the edge of the lake, where they had less chance of being overheard than in the common room. Ron was not particularly keen on this idea at first – he was thoroughly enjoying being patted on the back by every Gryffindor who walked past his chair, not to mention the occasional outbursts of ‘Weasley is our King’ – but after a while he agreed that some fresh air might do him good.
They spread their books out in the shade of the beech tree and sat down while Ron talked them through his first save of the match for what felt like the dozenth time.
‘Well, I mean, I’d already let in that one of Davies’s, so I wasn’t feeling all that confident, but I dunno, when Bradley came towards me, just out of nowhere, I thought – you can do this! And I had about a second to decide which way to fly, you know, because he looked like he was aiming for the right goalhoop – my right, obviously, his left – but I had a funny feeling that he was feinting, and so I took the chance and flew left – his right, I mean – and – well – you saw what happened,’ he concluded modestly, sweeping his hair back quite unnecessarily so that it looked interestingly windswept and glancing around to see whether the people nearest to them – a bunch of gossiping third-year Hufflepuffs – had heard him. ‘And then, when Chambers came at me about five
minutes later – What?’ Ron asked, having stopped mid-sentence at the look on Harry’s face. ‘Why are you grinning?’
‘I’m not,’ said Harry quickly, and looked down at his Transfiguration notes, attempting to straighten his face. The truth was that Ron had just reminded Harry forcibly of another Gryffindor Quidditch player who had once sat rumpling his hair under this very tree. ‘I’m just glad we won, that’s all.’
‘Yeah,’ said Ron slowly, savouring the words, ‘we won. Did you see the look on Chang’s face when Ginny got the Snitch right out from under her nose?’
‘I suppose she cried, did she?’ said Harry bitterly.
‘Well, yeah – more out of temper than anything, though…’ Ron frowned slightly. ‘But you saw her chuck her broom away when she got back to the ground, didn’t you?’
‘Er -‘ said Harry.
‘Well, actually… no, Ron,’ said Hermione with a heavy sigh, putting down her book and looking at him apologetically. ‘As a matter of fact, the only bit of the match Harry and I saw was Davies’s first goal.’
Ron’s carefully ruffled hair seemed to wilt with disappointment. ‘You didn’t watch?’ he said faintly, looking from one to the other. ‘You didn’t see me make any of those saves?’
‘Well – no,’ said Hermione, stretching out a placatory hand towards him. ‘But Ron, we didn’t want to leave – we had to!’
‘Yeah?’ said Ron, whose face was growing rather red. ‘How come?’
‘It was Hagrid,’ said Harry. ‘He decided to tell us why he’s been covered in injuries ever since he got back from the giants. He wanted us to go into the Forest with him, we had no choice, you know how he gets. Anyway…’
The story was told in five minutes, by the end of which Ron’s indignation had been replaced by a look of total incredulity.