20. HAGRID’S TALE
Harry sprinted up to the boys’ dormitories to fetch the Invisibility Cloak and the Marauder’s Map from his trunk; he was so quick that he and Ron were ready to leave at least five minutes before Hermione hurried back down from the girls’ dormitories, wearing scarf, gloves and one of her own knobbly elf hats.
“Well, it’s cold out there!” she said defensively, as Ron clicked his tongue impatiently.
They crept through the portrait hole and covered themselves hastily in the Cloak – Ron had grown so much he now needed to crouch to prevent his feet showing – then, moving slowly and cautiously, they proceeded down the many staircases, pausing at intervals to check on the map for signs of Filch or Mrs. Norris. They were lucky; they saw nobody but Nearly Headless Nick, who was gliding along absent-mindedly humming something that sounded horribly like “Weasley is our King.” They crept across the Entrance Hall and out into the silent, snowy grounds. With a great leap of his heart, Harry saw little golden squares of light ahead and smoke coiling up from Hagrid’s chimney. He set off at a quick march, the other two jostling and bumping along behind him. They crunched excitedly through the thickening snow until at last they reached the wooden front door. When Harry raised his fist and knocked three times, a dog started barking frantically inside.
“Hagrid, its us!” Harry called through the keyhole.
“Shoulda known!” said a gruff voice.
They beamed at each other under the Cloak; they could tell by Hagrid’s voice that he was pleased. “Bin home three seconds… out the way, Fang… out the way, yeh dozy dog…”
The bolt was drawn back, the door creaked open and Hagrid’s head appeared in the gap.
“Merlin’s beard, keep it down!” said Hagrid
hastily, staring wildly over their heads. “Under that Cloak, are yeh? Well, get in, get in!”
“I’m sorry!” Hermione gasped, as the three of them squeezed past Hagrid into the house and pulled the Cloak off themselves so he could see them. “I just – oh, Hagrid!”
“It’s nuthin’, it’s nuthin’!” said Hagrid hastily, shutting the door behind them and hurrying to close all the curtains, but Hermione continued to gaze up at him in horror.
Hagrid’s hair was matted with congealed blood and his left eye had been reduced to a puffy slit amid a mass of purple and black bruising. There were many cuts on his face and hands, some of them still bleeding, and he was moving gingerly, which made Harry suspect broken ribs. It was obvious that he had only just got home; a thick black travelling cloak lay over the back of a chair and a haversack large enough to carry several small children leaned against the wall inside the door. Hagrid himself, twice the size of a normal man, was now limping over to the fire and placing a copper kettle over it.
“What happened to you?” Harry demanded, while Fang danced around them all, trying to lick their faces.
“Told yeh, nuthin’,” said Hagrid firmly. “Want a cuppa?”
“Come off it,” said Ron, “you’re in a right state!”
“I’m tellin’ yeh, I’m fine,” said Hagrid, straightening up and turning to beam at them all, but wincing. “Blimey, it’s good ter see yeh three again – had good summers, did yeh?”
“Hagrid, you’ve been attacked!” said Ron.
“Fer the las’ time, it’s nuthin’!” said Hagrid firmly.