Hagrid looked a little confused.

“Er—Thestrals!” he said loudly. “Big—er—winged horses, yeh know!”

He flapped his gigantic arms hopefully. Professor Umbridge raised her eyebrows at him and muttered as she made a note on her clipboard: “Has… to… resort… to… crude… sign… language.”

“Well… anyway…” said Hagrid, turning back to the class and looking slightly flustered, “erm… what was I sayin’?”

“Appears… to… have… poor… short… term… memory,” muttered Umbridge, loudly enough for everyone to hear her. Draco Malfoy looked as though Christmas had come a month early; Hermione, on the other hand, had turned scarlet with suppressed rage.

“Oh, yeah,” said Hagrid, throwing an uneasy glance at Umbridge’s clipboard, but ploughing on valiantly. “Yeah, I was gonna tell yeh how come we got a herd. Yeah, so, we started off with a male an’ five females. This one,” he patted the first horse to have appeared, “name o’ Tenebrus, he’s my special favourite, firs’ one born here in the Forest—”

“Are you aware,” Umbridge said loudly, interrupting him, “that the Ministry of Magic has classified Thestrals as ‘dangerous’?”

Harry’s heart sank like a stone, but Hagrid merely chuckled.

“Thestrals aren’ dangerous! All righ’, they might take a bite outta yeh if yeh really annoy them—”

“Shows… signs… of… pleasure… at… idea… of… violence,” muttered Umbridge, scribbling on her clipboard again.

“No—come on!” said Hagrid, looking a little anxious now. “I mean, a dog’ll bite if yeh bait it, won’ it—but Thestrals have jus’ got a bad reputation because o’ the death thing—people used ter think they were bad omens, didn’ they? Jus’ didn’ understand, did they?”

Umbridge did not answer; she finished writing her last note, then looked up at Hagrid and said, again very loudly and slowly, “Please continue teaching as usual. I am going to walk,” she mimed walking (Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson were having silent fits of laughter) “among the students” (she pointed around at individual members of the class) “and ask them questions.” She pointed at her mouth to indicate talking.



Hagrid stared at her, clearly at a complete loss to understand why she was acting as though he did not understand normal English. Hermione had tears of fury in her eyes now.

“You hag, you evil hag!” she whispered, as Umbridge walked towards Pansy Parkinson. “I know what you’re doing, you awful, twisted, vicious—”

“Erm… anyway,” said Hagrid, clearly struggling to regain the flow of his lesson, “so—Thestrals. Yeah. Well, there’s loads o’ good stuff abou’ them…”

“Do you find,” said Professor Umbridge in a ringing voice to Pansy Parkinson, “that you are able to understand Professor Hagrid when he talks?”


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