An unorthodox date

Hagrid takes Madame Maxime (and an invisible Harry) to see the dragons of the First Task

Extract from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

by J.K. Rowling

‘Listen, Hagrid, I can’t stay long, I’ve got to be back up at the castle for one o’clock’

But Hagrid wasn’t listening, he was opening the cabin door and striding off into the night. Harry hurried to follow and found, to his great surprise, that Hagrid was leading him to the Beauxbatons carriage.

‘Hagrid, what?’

‘Shhh!’ said Hagrid, and he knocked three times on the door bearing the crossed, golden wands.

Madame Maxime opened it. She was wearing a silk shawl wrapped around her massive shoulders. She smiled when she saw Hagrid. ‘Ah, ’Agrid... it is time?’

‘Bong-sewer,’ said Hagrid, beaming at her, and holding out a hand to help her down the golden steps.

Madame Maxime closed the door behind her, Hagrid offered her his arm, and they set off around the edge of the paddock containing Madame Maxime’s giant winged horses, with Harry, totally bewildered, running to keep up with them. Had Hagrid wanted to show him Madame Maxime? He could see her any old time he wanted, she wasn’t exactly hard to miss.

But it seemed that Madame Maxime was in for the same treat as Harry, because after a while she said playfully, ‘Wair is it you are taking me, ’Agrid?’

‘Yeh’ll enjoy this,’ said Hagrid gruffly. ‘Worth seein’, trust me. On’y don’ go tellin’ anyone I showed yeh, right? Yeh’re not s’posed ter know.’

‘Of course not,’ said Madame Maxime, fluttering her long black eyelashes.

And still they walked, Harry getting more and more irritable as he jogged along in their wake, checking his watch every now and then. Hagrid had some harebrained scheme in hand, which might make him miss Sirius. If they didn’t get there soon, he was going to turn around, go straight back to the castle, and leave Hagrid to enjoy his moonlit stroll with Madame Maxime.

But then when they had walked so far around the perimeter of the Forest that the castle and the lake were out of sight Harry heard something. Men were shouting up ahead then came a deafening, ear-splitting roar.

Hagrid led Madame Maxime around a clump of trees, and came to a halt. Harry hurried up alongside them for a split second, he thought he was seeing bonfires, and men darting around them and then his mouth fell open.

Dragons.

Four fully grown, enormous, vicious-looking dragons were rearing on their hind legs inside an enclosure fenced with thick planks of wood, roaring and snorting torrents of fire were shooting into the dark sky from their open, fanged mouths, fifty feet above the ground on their outstretched necks. There was a silvery blue one with long, pointed horns, snapping and snarling at the wizards on the ground, a smooth-scaled green one, which was writhing and stamping with all its might, a red one with an odd fringe of fine gold spikes around its face, which was shooting mushroom-shaped fire clouds into the air, and a gigantic black one, more lizard-like than the others, which was nearest to them.

At least thirty wizards, seven or eight to each dragon, were attempting to control them, pulling on the chains connected to heavy leather straps around their necks and legs. Mesmerised, Harry looked up, high above him, and saw the eyes of the black dragon, with vertical pupils like a cat’s, bulging with either fear or rage, he couldn’t tell which it was making a horrible noise, a yowling, screeching scream.

‘Keep back there, Hagrid!’ yelled a wizard near the fence, straining on the chain he was holding. ‘They can shoot fire at a range of twenty feet, you know! I’ve seen this Horntail do forty!’

‘Isn’ it beautiful?’ said Hagrid softly.

‘It’s no good!’ yelled another wizard. ‘Stunning Spells, on the count of three!’

Harry saw each of the dragon-keepers pull out his wand.

‘Stupefy!’ they shouted in unison, and the Stunning Spells shot into the darkness like fiery rockets, bursting in showers of stars on the dragons’ scaly hides.

Harry watched the dragon nearest to them teeter dangerously on its back legs, its jaws stretched wide in a suddenly silent howl, its nostrils were suddenly devoid of flame, though still smoking then, very slowly, it fell several tons of sinewy, scaly black dragon hit the ground with a thud that Harry could have sworn had made the trees behind him quake.

The dragon-keepers lowered their wands and walked forwards to their fallen charges, each of which was the size of a small hill. They hurried to tighten the chains and fasten them securely to iron pegs, which they forced deep into the ground with their wands.

‘Wan’ a closer look?’ Hagrid asked Madame Maxime excitedly. The pair of them moved right up to the fence, and Harry followed. The wizard who had warned Hagrid not to come any closer turned, and Harry realised who it was Charlie Weasley.

‘All right, Hagrid?’ he panted, coming over to talk. ‘They should be OK now we put them out with a Sleeping Draught on the way here, thought it might be better for them to wake up in the dark and the quiet but, like you saw, they weren’t happy, not happy at all’

‘What breeds you got here, Charlie?’ said Hagrid, gazing at the closest dragon the black one with something close to reverence. Its eyes were still just open. Harry could see a strip of gleaming yellow beneath its wrinkled black eyelid.

‘This is a Hungarian Horntail,’ said Charlie. ‘There’s a Common Welsh Green over there, the smaller one a Swedish Short-Snout, that blue grey and a Chinese Fireball, that’s the red.’

Charlie looked around, Madame Maxime was strolling away around the edge of the enclosure, gazing at the Stunned dragons.

‘I didn’t know you were bringing her, Hagrid,’ Charlie said, frowning. ‘The champions aren’t supposed to know what’s coming she’s bound to tell her student, isn’t she?’

‘Jus’ thought she’d like ter see ’em,’ shrugged Hagrid, still gazing, enraptured, at the dragons.

‘Really romantic date, Hagrid,’ said Charlie, shaking his head.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By J.K. Rowling