Harry gaped at her.
'It wasn't a nightmare,' said Harry quickly.
'Oh, don't go!' said Cho, sounding tearful again. 'I'm really sorry to get all upset like this . . . I didn't mean to . . .'
'No idea,' said Harry. She had moved closer. His brain seemed to have been Stunned. 'You'd have to ask Loony. Luna, I mean.'
'Fizzing Whizzbee,' said Professor McGonagall.
That foul, lying, twisting old gargoyle!' stormed Hermione half an hour later, as they made their way back up to the castle through the channels they had made earlier in the snow. 'You see what she's up to? It's her thing about half-breeds all over again - she's trying to make out Hagrid's some kind of dimwitted troll, just because he had a giantess for a mother - and. oh, it's not fair, that really wasn't a bad lesson at all - I mean, all right, if it had been Blast-Ended Skrewts again, but Thestrals are fine - in fact, for Hagrid, they're really good!'
'Ignore them, just ignore them,' intoned Hermione, pulling out her wand and performing the charm to produce hot air again, so that she could melt them an easier path through the untouched snow between them and the greenhouses.
'Oh, don' you worry abou' that, I've got a great load o' lessons planned,' said Hagrid enthusiastically, scooping up his dragon steak from the table and slapping it over his eye again. 'I've bin keepin' a couple o' creatures saved fer yer OWL year; you wait, they're somethin' really special.'
Two more horses came quietly out of the trees, one of them passing very close to Parvati, who shivered and pressed herself closer to the tree, saying, 'I think I felt something, I think it's near me!'
'Umbridge said they're dangerous,' said Ron.
Hermione looked as though she was restraining herself from rolling her eyes with extreme difficulty.
The words seemed to reverberate in the air after he had said them, sounding slightly ridiculous, even comic. There was a pause in which Dumbledore leaned back and stared meditatively at the ceiling. Ron looked from Harry to Dumbledore, white-faced and shocked.
Professor McGonagall came hurrying into the dormitory in her tartan dressing gown, her glasses perched lopsidedly on the bridge of her bony nose.
Harry, who had not had the heart to tell her that Dobby was taking everything she made, bent lower over his History of Magic essay. In any case, he did not want to think about Christmas. For the first time in his school career, he very much wanted to spend the holidays away from Hogwarts. Between his Quidditch ban and worry about whether or not Hagrid was going to be put on probation, he felt highly resentful towards the place at the moment. The only thing he really looked forward to were the DA meetings, and they would have to stop over the holidays, as nearly everybody in the DA would be spending the time with their families. Hermione was going skiing with her parents, something that greatly amused Ron, who had never heard of Muggles strapping narrow strips of wood on to their feet to slide down mountains. Ron was going home to The Burrow. Harry endured several days of envy before Ron said, in response to Harry asking him how he was going to get home for Christmas: :But you're coming too! Didn't I say? Mum wrote and told me to invite you weeks ago!'
'Oh well,' said Hermione distantly, buried in her letter once more, 'you'll have plenty of opportunities to ask her.'
'No,' said Harry, 'it was Dobby the house-elf.'
'She was the one who started it,' said Harry. 'I wouldn't've - she just sort of came at me - and next thing she's crying all over me - I didn't know what to do - '
'Do you find,' said Professor Umbridge in a ringing voice to Pansy Parkinson, 'that you are able to understand Professor Hagrid when he talks?'
'You're getting really good,' he said, beaming around at them. 'When we get back from the holidays we can start doing some of the big stuff - maybe even Patronuses.'