'Well, I suppose it could have been worse,' she said. 'Are you going to see her again?'
'Well, night,' said Hermione, yawning widely as she set off up the girls' staircase.
Hermione ploughed her way back to Hagrid's cabin through two feet of snow on Sunday morning. Harry and Ron wanted to go with her, but their mountain of homework had reached an alarming height again, so they remained grudgingly in the common room, Tying to ignore the gleeful shouts drifting up from the grounds outside, where students were enjoying themselves skating on the frozen lake, tobogganing and, worst of all, bewitching snowballs to zoom up to Gryffindor Tower and rap hard on the windows.
'Oh, don' you worry abou' that, I've got a great load o' lessons planned,' said Hagrid enthusiastically, scooping up his dragon steak from the table and slapping it over his eye again. 'I've bin keepin' a couple o' creatures saved fer yer OWL year; you wait, they're somethin' really special.'
'No, no, no,' said Hagrid, chuckling, 'tha's jus' superstition, that is, they aren' unlucky, they're dead clever an' useful! Course, this lot don' get a lot o' work, it's mainly jus' pullin' the school carriages unless Dumbledore's takin' a long journey an' don' want ter Apparate - an' here's another couple, look - '
That's what they should teach us here, he thought, turning over on to his side, how girls' brains work . . . it'd be more useful than Divination, anyway . . .
Though it was now well past midnight there were voices coming
There was a murmur of excitement. The room began to clear in the usual twos and threes; most people wished Harry a 'Happy Christmas' as they went. Feeling cheerful, he collected up the cushions with Ron and Hermione and stacked them neatly away. Ron and Hermione left before he did; he hung back a little, because Cho was still there and he was hoping to receive a 'Merry Christmas' from her.
'Night,' said Harry.
'Er - Thestrals!' he said loudly. 'Big - er - winged horses, yeh know!'
'How did you see this?' Dumbledore asked quietly, still not looking at Harry.
'I'm not lying and I'm not mad!' Harry told her, his voice rising to a shout. 'I tell you, I saw it happen!'
'It's quite all right,' said Umbridge, patting Neville on the shoulder with what she evidently intended to be an understanding smile, though it looked more like a leer to Harry. 'Well, Hagrid,' she turned to look up at him again, speaking once more in that loud, slow voice, 'I think I've got enough to be getting along with. You will receive' (she mimed taking something from the air in front of her) 'the results of your inspection' (she pointed at the clipboard) 'in ten days' time.' She held up ten stubby little fingers, then, her smile wider and more toadlike than ever before beneath her green hat, she bustled from their midst, leaving Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson in fits of laughter, Hermione actually shaking with fury and Neville looking confused and upset.
Harry said nothing. Hermione's words opened up a whole new vista of frightening possibilities. He tried to imagine going somewhere with Cho - Hogsmeade, perhaps - and being alone with her for hours at a time. Of course, she would have been expecting him to ask her out after what had just happened . . . the thought made his stomach clench painfully.
'Appears . . . to . . . have . . . poor . . . short . . . term . . . memory,' muttered Umbridge, loudly enough for everyone to hear her. Draco Malfoy looked as though Christmas had come a month early; Hermione, on the other hand, had turned scarlet with suppressed rage.
from inside the room, a positive babble of them. It sounded as though Dumbledore was entertaining at least a dozen people.
Then I'll go back again tomorrow,' said Hermione determinedly. 'I'll plan his lessons for him if I have to. I don't care if she throws out Trelawney but she's not getting rid of Hagrid!'
'No!' said Harry furiously; it was crucial that Ron understand.
'We're all really sorry Harry didn't tell you, then,' said Fred loudly.