'I don't know . . . I was asleep and then I was there . . .'
'Well . . . anyway . . .' said Hagrid, turning back to the class and looking slightly flustered, 'erm . . . what was I sayin?'
Harry did not say anything to this; it was quite true, but he felt heartless saying it.
'It's Ron's dad,' he said, sitting up again. 'He's been attacked by a snake and it's serious, I saw it happen.'
'Is it Cho?' she asked in a businesslike way. 'Did she corner you after the meeting?'
'Who?' said Harry quickly.
'What prefers the dark?' Harry heard Malfoy say sharply to Crabbe and Goyle, a trace of panic in his voice. 'What did he say prefers the dark - did you hear?'
'Look, Hagrid,' said Hermione urgently, dropping all pretence, 'Professor Umbridge won't be at all happy if you bring anything to class that's too dangerous.'
Hermione returned from Hagrid's just before lunch, shivering slightly, her robes damp to the knees.
'Yeah,' said Harry. His mouth was very dry. 'It's probably full of Nargles, though.'
'I'm fine!' Harry choked, wiping his mouth on his pyjamas and shaking uncontrollably. There's nothing wrong with me, it's your dad you've got to worry about - we need to find out where he is - he's bleeding like mad - I was - it was a huge snake.'
Harry was saved the necessity of asking what Nargles are by the arrival of Angelina, Katie and Alicia. All three of them were breathless and looked very cold.
A great wave of relief broke over Harry. Here at last was proof that he had not imagined these creatures, that they were real: Hagrid knew about them too. He looked eagerly at Ron, but Ron was still staring around into the trees and after a few seconds he whispered, 'Why doesn't Hagrid call again?'
'Yes,' said Harry emphatically - why were they all so slow on the uptake, did they not realise how much a person bled when fangs that long pierced their side? And why could Dumbledore not do him the courtesy of looking at him?
He didn't know what to do. She was simply standing there, crying silently.
'You received the note I sent to your cabin this morning?' said Umbridge, in the same loud, slow voice she had used with him earlier, as though she were addressing somebody both foreign and very slow. Telling you that I would be inspecting your lesson?'
'I'm going for help,' said the same scared voice, and Harry heard footsteps running out of the dormitory.
Neville snuffled in his sleep. An owl hooted somewhere out in the night.