Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback
Hello! Sorry if this is a bit late. It's not one of my favorites.
Anyway, hope you like it. Tried my best. Enjoy! :)
disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, just Arabella :)
Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback
Quirrell, however, must have been braver than they'd thought. In the weeks that followed he didn't look like he cracked yet. Every time they passed the third-floor corridors, Harry, Ron, Arabella and Hermione would press their ears to the door to check that Fluffy was still growling inside. Whenever Harry and Arabella would pass Quirrell these days they would give him an encouraging smile, and Ron had started telling people off for laughing at Quirrell's stutter.
Hermione, however, had more on her mind than the Philosopher's Stone. She had started drawing up revision timetables and colour-coding all her notes. Harry, Ron and Arabella wouldn't have minded, but she kept nagging them to do the same.
'Hermione, the exams are ages away.'
'Ten weeks,' Hermione snapped. 'That's not ages, that's like a second to Nicolas Flamel.'
'But we're not six hundred years old,' Ron reminded her.
'Hermione, you need to relax. Stress is not going to help you. And plus you know everything, you don't need to revise that much,' said Arabella.
'Have you gone mad? 'I don't need to revise'? You do realise we need to pass these exams to get into the second year? They're very important, I should have started studying a month ago, I don't know what's got into me…
'I've noticed that you haven't studied,' said Hermione, facing Arabella.
'I'll be fine,' said Arabella, shrugging it off.
'But you need to study! You can't fail!' said Hermione.
'Yeah, yeah, don't worry about me,' said Arabella. Hermione huffed.
Unfortunately, the teachers seemed to be thinking along the same lines as Hermione. They piled so much homework on them that the Easter Holidays weren't nearly as much fun as the Christmas ones. It was hard to relax with Hermione next to you reciting the twelve uses of dragon's blood or practicing wand movements.
Her and Arabella got into a fight two times because of this. They agreed that they would never sit together when they studied.
'I'll never remember this,' Ron burst out on afternoon in the library.
Harry didn't look up from One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi until her heard Ron say, 'Hagrid! What are you doing in the library?'
Hagrid shuffled into view, hiding something behind his back. He looked very out of place.
'Jus' lookin',' he said, in a shifty voice that got their interest at once. 'An' what're you lot up ter?' He looked suddenly suspicious. 'Yer not still lookin' fer Nicolas Flamel, are yeh?'
'Oh, we found out who he was ages ago. And we know what that dog's guarding, it's a Philosopher's St -'
'Shhhhh!' said Hagrid as Arabella hit Ron over the head. 'Don' go shoutin' about it, what's the matter with yeh?'
'There are a few things we wanted to ask you, as a matter of fact,' said Harry, 'about what's guarding the Stone apart from Fluffy – '
'SHHHH!' said Hagrid again as Arabella also hit his head, giving him a glare. 'Listen – come an' see me later, I'm not promisin' I'll tell yeh anythin', mind, but don' go rabbitin' about it in here, students aren' s'pposed ter know. They'll think I've told yeh –'
'See you later, then,' said Harry as he was rubbing the back of his head.
Hagrid shuffled off.
'What was that for?' said Harry as he turned to Arabella.
'Don't talk about it in public! What if Snape hears you?' said Arabella, narrowing her eyes at him and Ron.
'Fine, fine,' mumbled Harry and Ron.
Arabella nodded with a smirk on her face.
'What was Hagrid hiding behind his back?' said Hermione.
'Do you think it has something to do with the Stone?' said Harry.
'I'm going to see what section he was in,' said Ron. He came back a minute later with a pile of books in his arms and slammed them down on the table.
'Dragons!' he whispered. 'Hagrid was looking up stuff about dragons! Look at these!'
'Hagrid always wanted a dragon, he told me so the first time I ever met him,' said Harry.
'But it's unsafe. It's nearly impossible to control. Hagrid couldn't have gotten a dragon,' said Arabella, looking at some of the books.
'And it's against our laws,' said Ron. 'Dragon breeding was outlawed by the Warlocks' Convention of 1709, everyone knows that. It's hard to stop the Muggles from noticing us if we're keeping dragons in the back garden. Arabella's right, they're also untameable. You should see the burns on Charlie's arms.
'But there aren't wild dragons in Britain?' said Harry.
'There are some, but the Ministry has put some spell and some security on them if they ever see one or come into contact with one,' said Arabella.
'So what on earth's Hagrid up to?' said Hermione.
When they knocked on Hagrid's door an hour later, they were surprised to see that all the curtains were closed. Hagrid opened the door to let them in before quickly shutting it behind them.
It was hot inside. Hagrid made them tea and offered them stoat sandwiches, which they refused.
'So – yeh wanted to ask me somthin'?'
'Yes,' said Harry. 'We were wondering if you could tell us what's guarding the Philosopher's Stone apart from Fluffy.'
Hagrid frowned at him.
'O' course I can't,' he said. 'Number one, I don' know meself. Number two, yeh know too much already, so I wouldn' tell yeh if I could. That Stone's here fer a good reason. It was almost stolen outta Gringotts – I s'ppose yeh've worked that out an' all? Beats me how yeh even know abou' Fluffy.'
'Oh, come on, Hagrid, you might not want to tell us, but you do know, you know everything that goes on round here,' said Hermione in a warm flattering voice. Harry could see in the corner of his eyes Arabella trying to not laugh behind her hands. Hagrid's beard twitched and they could tell he was smiling.
'We only wondered who had done the guarding, really,' Hermione went on. 'We wondered who Dumbledore had trusted enough to help him apart from you.'
'Well, I don' s'ppose it could hurt ter tell yeh that… let's see… he borrowed Fluffy from me… then some o' the teachers did enchantments… Professor Sprout – Professor Flitwick – Professor McGonagall – ' he ticked them off on his fingers, 'Professor Quirrell – an' Dumbledore himself did somethin', o' course. Hang on, I've forgotten someone, Oh yeah, Professor Snape.'
'Snape?' said Arabella, disgusted. 'He trusts Snape with guarding the Stone?'
'O' course he trusts Snape with the Stone. He's not about ter steal it, he's protecting the Stone.'
Harry knew that they were all thinking the same thing. If Snape had been protecting the Stone, it must have been easy to find out how the other teachers had guarded it.
'You're the only one who knows how to get past Fluffy, aren't you, Hagrid?' said Harry anxiously. 'And you wouldn't tell anyone, wouldn't you? Not even one of the teachers?'
'Not a soul knows except me an' Dumbledore,' said Hagrid proudly.
'That's great,' muttered Arabella. 'Can we open a window or something? It's boiling in here.'
'Can't Arabella, sorry,' said Hagrid and he glanced at the fire.
'Hagrid – what's that?' said Harry, pointing towards the fire where underneath the kettle was a huge, black egg.
'Where did you get it, Hagrid?' said Ron, crouching over the fire to get a closer look at the egg. 'It must have cost you a fortune.'
'Won it,' said Hagrid. 'Las' night. I was down in the village havin' a few drinks an' got into a game o' cards with a stranger. Think he was quite glad ter get rid of it, ter be honest.'
'What are you going to do with it when it's hatched?' said Hermione.
'Well, I've bin doin' some readin',' said Hagrid. 'Keep the dragon in the fire, 'cause their mothers breath on 'em, see, and when it hatches, feed it on a bucket o' brandy mixed – '
'Hagrid that's great and all, but you live in a wooden house,' said Arabella, stressing out each word. 'This is a dragon. Do you understand what I'm saying?'
Hagrid didn't seem to be listening to her as he was humming merrily as he stroked the fire.
Now they had something else to worry about: what might happen to Hagrid if anyone found out he was hiding an illegal dragon in his hut.
'Wonder what it's like to have a peaceful life,' Ron sighed, as evening after evening the struggled through all the extra homework they were getting. Hermione had started making revision timetables for Harry, Ron and Arabella. It was driving them mad. Arabella threw hers out when Hermione wasn't looking.
One breakfast Hedwig brought Harry another note from Hagrid with two words on it: It's hatching.
Ron wanted to skip Herbology and go straight down to the hut. Hermione wouldn't hear of it.
'Hermione, how many times are we going to see a dragon hatching?'
'We've got lessons, we'll get into trouble, and that's nothing to what Hagrid's going to be in when someone finds out what he's doing – '
'Shut up!' Harry and Arabella whispered.
Malfoy was only a few feet away and stopped to listen.
Ron and Hermione argued all the way to Herbology with Harry and Arabella behind them. In the end, Hermione agreed to run down to Hagrid's with the other three during morning break. When the bell rang at the end of their lesson, they dropped off their books and made their way to Hagrid's hut.
'It's nearly out,' he ushered them in.
The egg was lying on the table. There were deep cracks in it.
All at once there was a scraping noise and the egg split open. The baby dragon flopped on to the table. It wasn't exactly pretty. Harry thought it looked like a crumpled, black umbrella. Its spiny wings were huge compared to its skinny jet body and it had a long snout with wide nostrils, stubs of horns and bulging, orange eyes.
It sneezed. A couple of sparks flew out of its snout.
'Isn't he beautiful?' Hagrid murmured. He reached out a hand to stroke the dragon's head. It snapped at his fingers, showing pointed fangs.
'Bless him, look, he knows his mummy!' said Hagrid.
'Hagrid,' said Hermione, 'How fast do Norwegian Ridgebacks grow, exactly?'
Hagrid was about to answer when the colour suddenly drained from his face – he leapt to his feet and ran to the window.
'What's the matter?'
'Someone was lookin' through the gap in the curtains – it's a kid – he's runnin' back up ter the school.'
Harry and Arabella bolted to the door and looked out. Even at a distance there was no mistaking him.
Malfoy had seen the dragon.
Something about the smile lurking on Malfoy's face during the next week made Harry, Ron, Arabella and Hermione very nervous.
'I wished he would do something or taunt us like how he used to. This is just creepy,' said Arabella, looking around her shoulders in the library.
'Just ignore it. Pretend like you don't know anything,' said Ron.
They spent most of their time now in Hagrid's hut, trying to reason with him.
'Just let him go,' Harry urged. 'Set him free.'
'I can't,' said Hagrid. 'He's too little. He'd die.'
'He's not that little,' murmured Arabella.
'I've decided to call him Norbert,' said Hagrid, looking at the dragon with misty eyes. 'He really knows me now, watch. Norbert! Norbert! Where's Mummy?'
'He's lost his marbles,' Ron muttered in Harry's ear.
'Hagrid,' said Arabella loudly, 'you can't keep Norbert. He's a dragon. He's going to keep growing until he's as big as your house. And Malfoy could go to Dumbledore at any moment and tell him about this. We don't want you to get into trouble, Hagrid.'
'I – I know I can't keep him for ever, but I can't jus' dump him, I can't'
Harry suddenly turned to Ron.
'Charlie,' he said.
'You're losing it too. I'm Ron, remember?'
'No – Charlie – your brother Charlie. In Romania. Studying dragons. We could send Norbert to him. Charlie can take care of him and then put his back into the wild or something.'
'Brilliant!' said Ron 'How about it, Hagrid?'
In the end, Hagrid agreed that they could send an owl to Charlie to ask him.
Wednesday night found Hermione and Harry sitting alone in the common room, long after everyone else had gone to bed. The clock on the wall had just chimed midnight when the portrait hole burst open. Ron and Arabella appeared out of nowhere as they pulled off Harry's Invisibility Cloak. They had been down at Hagrid's hut, helping him feed Norbert.
'It bit me!' said Ron, showing them his hand, which was wrapped in a bloody handkerchief. 'That dragon's the most horrible animal I've ever met, but the way Hagrid goes on about it, you'd think it was a fluffy little bunny rabbit.'
'What did he say when he bit you?' said Hermione.
'He told Ron off for frightening it,' said Arabella, who didn't have any bit marks. 'When we left, he was signing a lullaby.'
There was a tap on the dark window.
'It's Hedwig! She'll have Charlie's answer!'
The four of them put their heads together to read the note.
How are you? Thanks for the letter – I'd be glad to take the Norwegian Ridgeback, but it won't be easy getting him here. I think the best thing will be to send him over with some friends of mine who are coming to visit me next week. Trouble is, they mustn't be seen carrying an illegal dragon. Could you get the Ridgeback up the tallest tower at midnight on Saturday? They can meet you there and take him away while it's still dark.
Send me an answer as soon as possible.
They looked at each other.
'We've got the Invisibility Cloak,' said Harry. 'It shouldn't be too difficult – I think the Cloak's big enough to cover us and Norbert.'
The next morning Ron's bitten hand had swollen to twice its usual size. By the afternoon the cut turned a nasty shade of green. It looked as though Norbert's fangs were poisonous. He went to Madam Pomfrey.
Harry, Arabella and Hermione rushed up to the hospital wing at the end of the day to find Ron in a terrible state in bed.
'It's not just my hand, although it feels like it's about to fall off. Malfoy told Madam Pomfrey he wanted to borrow one of my books so he could come and have a good laugh at me. He kept threatening to tell her what really bit me – I've told her it was a dog but I don't think she believes he – I shouldn't have hit him at the Quidditch match, that's why he's doing this,' whispered Ron.
Harry, Arabella and Hermione tried to calm Ron down.
'It'll all be over at midnight on Saturday. Norbert will go to Romania and Malfoy won't have anything on us,' said Arabella, but that didn't seem to soothe him at all. He sat bolt upright and broke into a sweat.
'Midnight on Saturday!' he said in a hoarse voice. 'Oh no – oh no – I've just remembered – Charlie's letter was in that book Malfoy took, he's going to know we're getting rid of Norbert.'
They didn't get a chance to answer as Madam Pomfrey came over at that moment and made them leave, saying Ron needed sleep.
'It's too late to change the plan now,' Harry told Arabella and Hermione. 'We haven't got time to send Charlie another owl and this could be our only chance to get rid of Norbert. We'll have to risk it. And we have got the Invisibility Cloak, Malfoy doesn't know about that.'
'I don't know Harry, just seems like something bad is going to happen,' said Arabella.
'I know, but it's our only chance. If something happens, we can just hide under the cloak,' said Harry. Arabella nodded.
They found Fang sitting outside when they went to tell Hagrid, who opened a window to talk to them.
'I won't let you in,' he said. 'Norbert's at a tricky stage – nothin' I can't handle.'
'He's a dragon. He's always in a tricky stage,' Arabella said under her breathe.
When they told him about Charlie's letter, his eyes filled with tears, although that might have been because Norbert had just bitten him on the leg.
'Aargh! It's all right, he only got my boot – jus' playin' – he's only a baby, after all.'
The baby banged its tail on the wall, making the windows rattle. Harry, Arabella and Hermione walked back to the castle, feeling Saturday couldn't come quickly enough.
It was a very dark, cloudy night and they were a bit late arriving at Hagrid's hut because they'd had to wait for Peeves to get out of their way in the Entrance Hall, where he'd been playing tennis against the wall.
Hagrid had Norbert packed and ready in a large basket. He handed it to Arabella.
'He likes yer. He didn' bit yer. There's a cover that he won' be able to get by,' Hagrid told her in a muffled voice. 'He's got lots o' rats an' some brandy fer the journey. An' I've packed his teddy bear in case he gets lonely.'
From inside the basket came ripping noises that sounded to them as though teddy was having his head torn off. Arabella's eyes widened, looking at Harry and Hermione with a terrified look.
'Bye-bye, Norbert!' Hagrid sobbed, as they covered themselves with the cloak. 'Mummy will never forget you!'
How Arabella managed to get the basket back up to the castle without getting hurt, they will never know. They moved up staircase after staircase, trying not to get caught despite being covered in the cloak.
'Nearly there,' Harry told Arabella, who had sweat all over her face.
A sudden movement ahead of them made Arabella almost drop the basket. They shrank into the shadows, staring at the dark outlines of two people grappling with each other ten feet away.
Professor McGonagall had Malfoy by the ear.
'Detention!' she shouted. 'And twenty points from Slytherin! Wandering around the middle of the night, how dare you –'
'You don't understand, professor, Harry Potter's coming – he's got a dragon!'
'What utter rubbish! How dare you tell such lies! Come on – O shall see Professor Snape about you. Malfoy!'
The steep staircase up to the tower seemed the easiest thing in the world to Arabella after that. They reached the cold air surrounding them and took off the cloak. Arabella seemed glad to put down the basket, able to properly breathe again. Hermione did a sort of jig while Arabella was crouched down holding her sides, panting.
'Malfoy's got detention! I could sing!'
'Don't,' Harry advised her.
Chuckling about Malfoy, they waited, Norbert trashed around in his basket. About ten minutes later, four broomsticks came swooping down out of the darkness.
Charlie's friends were a cheery lot. They showed Harry, Arabella and Hermione the harness they'd rigged up, so they could suspend Norbert between them. They put some spells that seemed to put Norbert to sleep and buckled him safely in the harness. They shook Harry, Arabella and Hermione's hand and thanked them very much.
At last, Norbert was gone.
They slipped back down the spiral staircase, their hearts as light as their hands, now that Norbert was off them. No more dragon – Malfoy in detention – what could spoil their happiness?
The answer to that was waiting at the foot of the stairs. As they stepped into the corridor, Filch's face loomed suddenly out of the darkness.
'Well, well, well,' he whispered, 'we are in trouble.'
They'd left the Invisibility Cloak on top of the tower.
Thank you for reading! Hope you liked it :)