– CHAPTER FOURTEEN –
Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback
Quirrell, however, must have been braver than they’d thought. In the weeks that followed he did seem to be getting paler and thinner, but it didn’t look as though he’d cracked yet.
Every time they passed the third-floor corridor, Harry, Ron and Hermione would press their ears to the door to check that Fluffy was still growling inside. Snape was sweeping about in his usual bad temper, which surely meant that the Stone was still safe. Whenever Harry passed Quirrell these days he gave him an encouraging sort of smile, and Ron had started telling people off for laughing at Quirrell’s stutter.
Hermione, however, had more on her mind than the Philosopher’s Stone. She had started drawing up revision timetables and colour-coding all her notes. Harry and Ron wouldn’t have minded, but she kept nagging them to do the same.
‘Hermione, the exams are ages away.’
‘Ten weeks,’ Hermione snapped. ‘That’s not ages, that’s like a second to Nicolas Flamel.’
‘But we’re not six hundred years old,’ Ron reminded her. ‘Anyway, what are you revising for, you already know it all.’
‘What am I revising for? Are you mad? You realise we need to pass these exams to get into the second year? They’re very important, I should have started studying a month ago, I don’t know what’s got into me…’
Unfortunately, the teachers seemed to be thinking along the same lines as Hermione. They piled so much homework on them that the Easter holidays weren’t nearly as much fun as the Christmas ones. It was hard to relax with Hermione next to you reciting the twelve uses of dragon’s blood or practising wand movements. Moaning and yawning, Harry and Ron spent most of their free time in the library with her, trying to get through all their extra work.
‘I’ll never remember this,’ Ron burst out one afternoon, throwing down his quill and looking longingly out of the library window. It was the first really fine day they’d had in months. The sky was a clear, forget-me-not blue and there was a feeling in the air of summer coming.
Harry, who was looking up ‘Dittany’ in One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi, didn’t look up until he heard Ron say, ‘Hagrid! What are you doing in the library?’
Hagrid shuffled into view, hiding something behind his back. He looked very out of place in his moleskin overcoat.
‘Jus’ lookin’,’ he said, in a shifty voice that got their interest at once. ‘An’ what’re you lot up ter?’ He looked suddenly suspicious. ‘Yer not still lookin’ fer Nicolas Flamel, are yeh?’
‘Oh, we found out who he is ages ago,’ said Ron impressively. ‘And we know what that dog’s guarding, it’s a Philosopher’s St – ‘
‘Shhhh!’ Hagrid looked around quickly to see if anyone was listening. ‘Don’ go shoutin’ about it, what’s the matter with yeh?’
‘There are a few things we wanted to ask you, as a matter of fact,’ said Harry, ‘about what’s guarding the Stone apart from Fluffy -‘
‘SHHHH!’ said Hagrid again. ‘Listen – come an’ see me later, I’m not promisin’ I’ll tell yeh anythin’, mind, but don’ go rabbitin’ about it in here, students aren’ s’posed ter know. They’ll think I’ve told yeh -‘
‘See you later, then,’ said Harry.
Hagrid shuffled off.
‘What was he hiding behind his back?’ said Hermione thoughtfully.
‘Do you think it had anything to do with the Stone?’