'And you talked to him?'
'We had ter lay off the magic once we got near 'em. Partly 'cause they don' like wizards an' we didn' want ter put their backs up too soon, an' partly 'cause Dumbledore had warned us You-Know-Who was bound ter be after the giants an' all. Said it was odds on he'd sent a messenger off ter them already. Told us ter be verv careful of drawin' attention ter ourselves as we got nearer in case there was Death Eaters around.'
'Hem, hem . . . "Educational Decree Number Twenty-five".'
Talk about sour grapes,' said Angelina, casting Malfoy a disgusted look.
'No,' said Hagrid, 'I wish he had.'
'Never known kids like you three fer knowin' more'n yeh oughta,' he muttered, splashing boiling water into three of his bucket-shaped mugs. 'An' I'm not complimentin' yeh, neither. Nosy, some'd call it. Interferin'.'
'Yes, Mr Potter, I think a lifelong ban ought to do the trick,' said Umbridge, her smile widening still further as she watched him struggle to comprehend what she had said. 'You and Mr Weasley here. And I think, to be safe, this young man's twin ought to be stopped, too - if his teammates had not restrained him, I feel sure he would have attacked young Mr Malfoy as well. I will want their broomsticks confiscated, of course; I shall keep them safely in my office, to make sure there is no infringement of my ban. But I am not unreasonable, Professor McGonagall,' she continued, turning back to Professor McGonagall who was now standing as still as though carved from ice, staring at her. The rest of the team can continue playing, I saw no signs of violence from any of them. Well . . . good afternoon to you.'
'I'm sorry, Ron mumbled, looking at his feet.
'Um . . . what sort of thing are you planning to do with us in class, Hagrid?' asked Hermione.
'Well, actually, Minerva,' simpered Professor Umbridge, 'I think you'll find that what I think does count. Now, where is it? Cornelius just sent it . . . I mean,' she gave a false little laugh as she rummaged in her handbag, 'the Minister just sent it . . . ah yes . . .'
'Dumbledore wanted us ter take it very slow,' said Hagrid. 'Let 'em see we kept our promises. We'll come back tomorrow with another present, an' then we do come back with another present - gives a good impression, see? An' gives them time ter test out the firs' present an' iind out it's a good one, an' get 'em eager ier more. In any case, giants like Karkus - overload 'em with information an' they'll kill yeh jus' to simplify things. So we bowed outta the way an' went off an' found ourselves a nice little cave ter spend that night in an' the followin' mornin' we went back an' this time we found Karkus sittin' up waitin' fer us lookin' all eager.'
'Well . . . in a manner o' speakin',' said Hagrid, looking uncomfortable. 'I sometimes say Fang's near enough human - '
It was over in two breathless, desperate, windswept seconds - 'Harry's fingers closed around the tiny, struggling ball - Malfoy's fingernails scrabbled the back of Harry's hand hopelessly - Harry pulled his broom upwards, holding the struggling ball in his hand and the Gryffindor spectators screamed their approval . . .
'It was kind of . . . obvious,' said Ron. Harry nodded.
'No need,' he said shortly. 'Can't remember her much. Wasn' a great mother.'
' - and Hogwarts High Inquisitor,' said Umbridge, giving no sign that she had heard him.
'You went to speak to him?' asked Ron incredulously. 'After you'd watched him rip off another giant's head?'
'We're bein' watched, Ron,' he said gruffly.
'Or why you're back so late,' said Harry. 'Sirius says Madame Maxime got back ages ago - '