'Yes,' said Hermione irritably, turning a page of Intermediate Transfiguration and glaring at a series of diagrams showing an owl turning into a pair of opera glasses. 'Yes, I'm starting to think he has. But, unfortunately, he made Harry and me promise.'
'But why sack Hagrid now?' asked Angelina Johnson, shaking her head. 'It's not like Trelawney; he's been teaching much better than usual this year!'
'Of course, it's not what you know,' he was heard to tell Crabbe and Goyle loudly outside Potions a few days before the exams were to start, 'it's who you know. Now, Father's been friendly with the head of the Wizarding Examinations Authority for years - old Griselda Marchbanks - we've had her round for dinner and everthing . . .'
'She'll be fine, remember she got a hundred and twelve per cent on one of our Charms tests?' said Ron.
Teach him English, yeah,' said Harry.
Harry laughed just as Hermione came running up behind them. He stopped laughing at once, in case it annoyed her.
Ron smoothed his hair flat again, looking preoccupied.
'Well, you're just going to have to break your promise, that's all,' said Ron firmly. 'I mean, come on . . . we've got exams and we're about that far - ' he held up his hand to show thumb and forefinger almost touching '- from being chucked out as it is. And anyway . . . remember Norbert? Remember Aragog? Have we ever come off better for mixing with any of Hagrid's monster mates?'
'Well, yeah - more out of temper than anything, though . . .' Ron frowned slightly. 'But you saw her chuck her broom away when she got back to the ground, didn't you?'
This,' said Hagrid, hastening over to where Harry and Herrmone stood, 'is Harry, Grawp! Harry Potter! He migh' be comin' ter visit yeh if I have ter go away, understand?'
There was a loud BANG from the grounds. Several people cried 'Ouch!' when they poked themselves in the face with the ends of their telescopes as they hastened to see what was going on below.
'Galloping gargoyles!' shouted Professor Tofty, who also seemed to have forgotten the exam completely. 'Not so much as a warning! Outrageous behaviour!'
'He's lost his mind,' said Ron in an almost awed voice.
'Why don't you just do it yourself?' he said firmly, handing the book back to her, his eyes watering.
'Hold it,' said Hagrid abruptly, just as Harry and Hermione were struggling through a patch of thick knotgrass behind him. He pulled an arrow out of the quiver over his shoulder and fitted it into the crossbow. Harry and Hermione raised their wands; now that they had stopped walking, they, too, could hear movement close by.
'Shall we go and have a closer look?' said Ron.
'Righ',' said Hagrid thickly, getting up with one hand pinching his bleeding nose and the other grasping his crossbow, 'well . . . there yeh are . . . yeh've met him an' - an' now he'll know yeh when yeh come back. Yeah . . . well . . .'
Harry turned over his paper, his heart thumping hard - three rows to his right and four seats ahead Hermione was already scribbling - and lowered his eyes to the first question: a) Give the incantation and b) describe the wand movement required to make objects fly.
Hagrid's door had burst open and by the light flooding out of the cabin they saw him quite clearly, a massive figure roaring and brandishing his fists, surrounded by six people, all of whom, judging by the tiny threads of red light they were casting in his direction, seemed to be attempting to Stun him.