Hagrid's mission

Hagrid tells Harry, Ron and Hermione about the task Dumbledore set him

Extract from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling

‘So, are you going to tell us what’s happened to you?’ Harry asked.

‘Can’t, Harry. Top secret. More’n me job’s worth ter tell yeh that.’

‘Did the giants beat you up, Hagrid?’ asked Hermione quietly. Hagrid’s fingers slipped on the dragon steak and it slid squelchily on to his chest.

‘Giants?’ said Hagrid, catching the steak before it reached his belt and slapping it back over his face, ‘who said anythin’ abou’ giants? Who yeh bin talkin’ to? Who’s told yeh what I’ve – who’s said I’ve bin – eh?’

‘We guessed,’ said Hermione apologetically.

‘Oh, yeh did, did yeh?’ said Hagrid, fixing her sternly with the eye that was not hidden by the steak.

‘It was kind of ... obvious,’ said Ron. Harry nodded.

Hagrid glared at them, then snorted, threw the steak back on to the table and strode over to the kettle, which was now whistling. ‘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’.’

But his beard twitched.

‘So you have been to look for giants?’ said Harry, grinning as he sat down at the table.

Hagrid set tea in front of each of them, sat down, picked up his steak again and slapped it back over his face.

‘Yeah, all righ’,’ he grunted, ‘I have.’

‘And you found them?’ said Hermione in a hushed voice.

‘Well, they’re not that difficult ter find, ter be honest,’ said Hagrid. ‘Pretty big, see.’

‘Where are they?’ said Ron.

‘Mountains,’ said Hagrid unhelpfully.

‘So why don’t Muggles –?’

‘They do,’ said Hagrid darkly. ‘On’y their deaths are always put down ter mountaineerin’ accidents, aren’ they?’

He adjusted the steak a little so that it covered the worst of the bruising.

‘Come on, Hagrid, tell us what you’ve been up to!’ said Ron. ‘Tell us about being attacked by the giants and Harry can tell you about being attacked by the Dementors –’

Hagrid choked in his mug and dropped his steak at the same time; a large quantity of spit, tea and dragon blood was sprayed over the table as Hagrid coughed and spluttered and the steak slid, with a soft splat, on to the floor.

‘Whadda yeh mean, attacked by Dementors?’ growled Hagrid.

‘Didn’t you know?’ Hermione asked him, wide-eyed.

‘I don’ know anythin’ that’s bin happenin’ since I left. I was on a secret mission, wasn’ I, didn’ wan’ owls followin’ me all over the place – ruddy Dementors! Yeh’re not serious?’

‘Yeah, I am, they turned up in Little Whinging and attacked my cousin and me, and then the Ministry of Magic expelled me –’

‘WHAT?’

‘– and I had to go to a hearing and everything, but tell us about the giants first.’

‘You were expelled?’

‘Tell us about your summer and I’ll tell you about mine.’

Hagrid glared at him through his one open eye. Harry looked right back, an expression of innocent determination on his face.

‘Oh, all righ’,’ Hagrid said in a resigned voice.

He bent down and tugged the dragon steak out of Fang’s mouth.

‘Oh, Hagrid, don’t, it’s not hygien—’ Hermione began, but Hagrid had already slapped the meat back over his swollen eye.

He took another fortifying gulp of tea, then said, ‘Well, we set off righ’ after term ended –’

‘Madame Maxime went with you, then?’ Hermione interjected.

‘Yeah, tha’s righ’,’ said Hagrid, and a softened expression appeared on the few inches of face that were not obscured by beard or green steak. ‘Yeah, it was jus’ the pair of us. An’ I’ll tell yeh this, she’s not afraid of roughin’ it, Olympe. Yeh know, she’s a fine, well-dressed woman, an’ knowin’ where we was goin’ I wondered ’ow she’d feel abou’ clamberin’ over boulders an’ sleepin’ in caves an’ tha’, bu’ she never complained once.’

‘You knew where you were going?’ Harry asked. ‘You knew where the giants were?’

‘Well, Dumbledore knew, an’ he told us,’ said Hagrid.

‘Are they hidden?’ asked Ron. ‘Is it a secret, where they are?’

‘Not really,’ said Hagrid, shaking his shaggy head. ‘It’s jus’ that mos’ wizards aren’ bothered where they are, ’s’long as it’s a good long way away. But where they are’s very difficult ter get ter, fer humans anyway, so we needed Dumbledore’s instructions. Took us abou’ a month ter get there –’

‘A month?’ said Ron, as though he had never heard of a journey lasting such a ridiculously long time. ‘But – why couldn’t you just grab a Portkey or something?’ There was an odd expression in Hagrid’s unobscured eye as he squinted at Ron; it was almost pitying.

‘We’re bein’ watched, Ron,’ he said gruffly.

‘What d’you mean?’

‘Yeh don’ understand,’ said Hagrid. ‘The Ministry’s keepin’ an eye on Dumbledore an’ anyone they reckon’s in league with ’im, an’ –’

‘We know about that,’ said Harry quickly, keen to hear the rest of Hagrid’s story, ‘we know about the Ministry watching Dumbledore –’

‘So you couldn’t use magic to get there?’ asked Ron, looking thunderstruck, ‘you had to act like Muggles all the way?’

‘Well, not exactly all the way,’ said Hagrid cagily. ‘We jus’ had ter be careful, ’cause Olympe an’ me, we stick out a bit –’

Ron made a stifled noise somewhere between a snort and a sniff and hastily took a gulp of tea.

‘– so we’re not hard ter follow. We was pretendin’ we was goin’ on holiday together, so we got inter France an’ we made like we was headin’ fer where Olympe’s school is, ’cause we knew we was bein’ tailed by someone from the Ministry. We had to go slow, ’cause I’m not really s’posed ter use magic an’ we knew the Ministry’d be lookin’ fer a reason ter run us in. But we managed ter give the berk tailin’ us the slip round abou’ Dee-John –’

‘Ooooh, Dijon?’ said Hermione excitedly. ‘I’ve been there on holiday, did you see –?’

She fell silent at the look on Ron’s face.

‘We chanced a bit o’ magic after that an’ it wasn’ a bad journey. Ran inter a couple o’ mad trolls on the Polish border an’ I had a sligh’ disagreement with a vampire in a pub in Minsk, bu’ apart from tha’ couldn’t’a bin smoother.

‘An’ then we reached the place, an’ we started trekkin’ up through the mountains, lookin’ fer signs of ’em ...

‘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 very careful of drawin’ attention ter ourselves as we got nearer in case there was Death Eaters around.’

Hagrid paused for a long draught of tea.

‘Go on!’ said Harry urgently.

‘Found ’em,’ said Hagrid baldly. ‘Went over a ridge one nigh’ an’ there they was, spread ou’ underneath us. Little fires burnin’ below an’ huge shadows ... it was like watchin’ bits o’ the mountain movin’.’

‘How big are they?’ asked Ron in a hushed voice.

‘’Bout twenty feet,’ said Hagrid casually. ‘Some o’ the bigger ones mighta bin twenty-five.’

‘And how many were there?’ asked Harry.

‘I reckon abou’ seventy or eighty,’ said Hagrid.

‘Is that all?’ said Hermione.

‘Yep,’ said Hagrid sadly, ‘eighty left, an’ there was loads once, musta bin a hundred diff’rent tribes from all over the world. Bu’ they’ve bin dyin’ out fer ages. Wizards killed a few, o’ course, bu’ mostly they killed each other, an’ now they’re dyin’ out faster than ever. They’re not made ter live bunched up together like tha’. Dumbledore says it’s our fault, it was the wizards who forced ’em to go an’ made ’em live a good long way from us an’ they had no choice bu’ ter stick together fer their own protection.’

‘So,’ said Harry, ‘you saw them and then what?’

‘Well, we waited till morning, didn’ want ter go sneakin’ up on ’em in the dark, fer our own safety,’ said Hagrid. ‘’Bout three in the mornin’ they fell asleep jus’ where they was sittin’. We didn’ dare sleep. Fer one thing, we wanted ter make sure none of ’em woke up an’ came up where we were, an’ fer another, the snorin’ was unbelievable. Caused an avalanche near mornin’.

‘Anyway, once it was light we wen’ down ter see ’em.’

‘Just like that?’ said Ron, looking awestruck. ‘You just walked right into a giant camp?’

‘Well, Dumbledore’d told us how ter do it,’ said Hagrid. ‘Give the Gurg gifts, show some respect, yeh know.’

‘Give the what gifts?’ asked Harry.

‘Oh, the Gurg – means the chief.’

‘How could you tell which one was the Gurg?’ asked Ron. Hagrid grunted in amusement.

‘No problem,’ he said. ‘He was the biggest, the ugliest an’ the laziest. Sittin’ there waitin’ ter be brought food by the others. Dead goats an’ such like. Name o’ Karkus. I’d put him at twenty-two, twenty-three feet an’ the weight o’ a couple o’ bull elephants. Skin like rhino hide an’ all.’

‘And you just walked up to him?’ said Hermione breathlessly.

‘Well ... down ter him, where he was lyin’ in the valley. They was in this dip between four pretty high mountains, see, beside a mountain lake, an’ Karkus was lyin’ by the lake roarin’ at the others ter feed him an’ his wife. Olympe an’ I went down the mountain- side –’

‘But didn’t they try and kill you when they saw you?’ asked Ron incredulously.

‘It was def’nitely on some o’ their minds,’ said Hagrid, shrugging, ‘but we did what Dumbledore told us ter do, which was ter hold our gift up high an’ keep our eyes on the Gurg an’ ignore the others. So tha’s what we did. An’ the rest of ’em went quiet an’ watched us pass an’ we got right up ter Karkus’s feet an’ we bowed an’ put our present down in front o’ him.’

‘What do you give a giant?’ asked Ron eagerly. ‘Food?’

‘Nah, he can get food all righ’ fer himself,’ said Hagrid. ‘We took him magic. Giants like magic, jus’ don’ like us usin’ it against ’em. Anyway, that firs’ day we gave ’im a branch o’ Gubraithian fire.’

Hermione said, ‘Wow!’ softly, but Harry and Ron both frowned in puzzlement.

‘A branch of –?’

‘Everlasting fire,’ said Hermione irritably, ‘you ought to know that by now. Professor Flitwick’s mentioned it at least twice in class!’

‘Well, anyway,’ said Hagrid quickly, intervening before Ron could answer back, ‘Dumbledore’d bewitched this branch to burn fer evermore, which isn’ somethin’ any wizard could do, an’ so I lies it down in the snow by Karkus’s feet and says, “A gift to the Gurg of the giants from Albus Dumbledore, who sends his respectful greetings.”’

‘And what did Karkus say?’ asked Harry eagerly.

‘Nothin’,’ said Hagrid. ‘Didn’ speak English.’

‘You’re kidding!’

‘Didn’ matter,’ said Hagrid imperturbably, ‘Dumbledore had warned us tha’ migh’ happen. Karkus knew enough to yell fer a couple o’ giants who knew our lingo an’ they translated fer us.’

‘And did he like the present?’ asked Ron.

‘Oh yeah, it went down a storm once they understood what it was,’ said Hagrid, turning his dragon steak over to press the cooler side to his swollen eye. ‘Very pleased. So then I said, “Albus Dumbledore asks the Gurg to speak with his messenger when he returns tomorrow with another gift.”’

‘Why couldn’t you speak to them that day?’ asked Hermione.

‘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’ find out it’s a good one, an’ get ’em eager fer 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.’

‘And you talked to him?’

‘Oh yeah. Firs’ we presented him with a nice battle helmet – goblin-made an’ indestructible, yeh know – an’ then we sat down an’ we talked.’

‘What did he say?’

‘Not much,’ said Hagrid. ‘Listened mostly. Bu’ there were good signs. He’d heard o’ Dumbledore, heard he’d argued against the killin’ o’ the last giants in Britain. Karkus seemed ter be quite int’rested in what Dumbledore had ter say. An’ a few o’ the others, ’specially the ones who had some English, they gathered round an’ listened too. We were hopeful when we left that day. Promised ter come back next mornin’ with another present.

‘Bu’ that night it all wen’ wrong.’

‘What d’you mean?’ said Ron quickly.

‘Well, like I say, they’re not meant ter live together, giants,’ said Hagrid sadly. ‘Not in big groups like that. They can’ help themselves, they half kill each other every few weeks. The men fight each other an’ the women fight each other; the remnants of the old tribes fight each other, an’ that’s even without squabbles over food an’ the best fires an’ sleepin’ spots. Yeh’d think, seein’ as how their whole race is abou’ finished, they’d lay off each other, bu’ ...’

Hagrid sighed deeply.

‘That night a fight broke out, we saw it from the mouth of our cave, lookin’ down on the valley. Went on fer hours, yeh wouldn’ believe the noise. An’ when the sun came up the snow was scarlet an’ his head was lyin’ at the bottom o’ the lake.’

‘Whose head?’ gasped Hermione.

‘Karkus’s,’ said Hagrid heavily. ‘There was a new Gurg, Golgomath.’ He sighed deeply. ‘Well, we hadn’ bargained on a new Gurg two days after we’d made friendly contact with the firs’ one, an’ we had a funny feelin’ Golgomath wouldn’ be so keen ter listen to us, bu’ we had ter try.’


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by J.K. Rowling