Placating Fluffy

Hagrid lets slip how he acquired Norbert's egg and, subsequently, how to get past Fluffy

Extract from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

by J.K. Rowling

‘Don’t you think it’s a bit odd,’ said Harry, scrambling up the grassy slope, ‘that what Hagrid wants more than anything else is a dragon, and a stranger turns up who just happens to have an egg in his pocket? How many people wander around with dragon eggs if it’s against wizard law? Lucky they found Hagrid, don’t you think? Why didn’t I see it before?’

‘What are you on about?’ said Ron, but Harry, sprinting across the grounds towards the Forest, didn’t answer.

Hagrid was sitting in an armchair outside his house; his trousers and sleeves were rolled up and he was shelling peas into a large bowl.

‘Hullo,’ he said, smiling. ‘Finished yer exams? Got time fer a drink?’

‘Yes, please,’ said Ron, but Harry cut across him.

‘No, we’re in a hurry. Hagrid, I’ve got to ask you something. You know that night you won Norbert? What did the stranger you were playing cards with look like?’

‘Dunno,’ said Hagrid casually, ‘he wouldn’ take his cloak off.’

He saw the three of them look stunned and raised his eyebrows.

‘It’s not that unusual, yeh get a lot o’ funny folk in the Hog’s Head – that’s one of the pubs down in the village. Mighta bin a dragon dealer, mightn’ he? I never saw his face, he kept his hood up.’

Harry sank down next to the bowl of peas.

‘What did you talk to him about, Hagrid? Did you mention Hogwarts at all?’

‘Mighta come up,’ said Hagrid, frowning as he tried to remember. ‘Yeah ... he asked what I did, an’ I told him I was gamekeeper here ... He asked a bit about the sorta creatures I look after ... so I told him ... an’ I said what I’d always really wanted was a dragon ... an’ then ... I can’ remember too well, ’cause he kept buyin’ me drinks ... Let’s see ... yeah, then he said he had the dragon egg an’ we could play cards fer it if I wanted ... but he had ter be sure I could handle it, he didn’ want it ter go ter any old home ... So I told him, after Fluffy, a dragon would be easy ...’

‘And did he – did he seem interested in Fluffy?’ Harry asked, trying to keep his voice calm.

‘Well – yeah – how many three-headed dogs d’yeh meet, even around Hogwarts? So I told him, Fluffy’s a piece o’ cake if yeh know how to calm him down, jus’ play him a bit o’ music an’ he’ll go straight off ter sleep –’

Hagrid suddenly looked horrified.

‘I shouldn’ta told yeh that!’ he blurted out. ‘Forget I said it! Hey – where’re yeh goin’?’

Harry, Ron and Hermione didn’t speak to each other at all until they came to a halt in the Entrance Hall, which seemed very cold and gloomy after the grounds.

‘We’ve got to go to Dumbledore,’ said Harry. ‘Hagrid told that stranger how to get past Fluffy and it was either Snape or Voldemort under that cloak – it must’ve been easy, once he’d got Hagrid drunk. I just hope Dumbledore believes us. Firenze might back us up if Bane doesn’t stop him. Where’s Dumbledore’s office?’

They looked around, as if hoping to see a sign pointing them in the right direction. They had never been told where Dumbledore lived, nor did they know anyone who had been sent to see him.

‘We’ll just have to –’ Harry began, but a voice suddenly rang across the hall.

‘What are you three doing inside?’

It was Professor McGonagall, carrying a large pile of books.

‘We want to see Professor Dumbledore,’ said Hermione, rather bravely, Harry and Ron thought.

‘See Professor Dumbledore?’ Professor McGonagall repeated, as though this was a very fishy thing to want to do. ‘Why?’

Harry swallowed – now what?

‘It’s sort of secret,’ he said, but he wished at once he hadn’t, because Professor McGonagall’s nostrils flared.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

By J.K. Rowling