Everyone turned to look at Salazar, who was the only Founder that had yet to read. He rolled his eyes and held out his hand to take the book from Helga, "I suppose that means it's my turn."
He glanced down at the title and raised his eyebrows, but didn't comment on it. "The Keeper of the Keys"
Almost everyone jumped. For having such a silky voice, Salazar knew how to yell.
They knocked again. Dudley jerked awake.
"Where's the cannon?" he asked stupidly.
"You didn't need to add the 'stupid' part, we all knew that," surprisingly, this came from Rowena, who was looking sour.
There was a crash from behind them and Uncle Vernon came skidding into the room. He was holding a rifle in his hands – now they knew what had been in the long, thin package he had brought with them.
"What's a rifle?" asked Godric.
"It's a kind of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other with." Hermione explained.
Salazar frowned at her, not sure whether or not he should be upset that she seemed to know a lot about it, or if he should be mad at the muggles who made it.
"Why's he need it?" Ron asked, looking scared.
Hermione shrugged, and Salazar continued reading.
"Who's there?" he shouted. "I warn you – I'm armed!"
There was a pause, then – SMASH!
Everyone was expecting Salazar's yell by now, so they didn't jump quite as high as they had before.
The door was hit with such force that it swung clean off its hinges and with a deafening crash landed on the floor.
A giant of a man was standing in the doorway. His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair.
"Hagrid!" The time-travelers beamed. The Founders looked confused.
"What's a Hagrid?" asked Helga, with a small frown on her face. Harry almost laughed, but figured that wouldn't be very tactful. Hermione's the one who answered her, though she too looked as though she was close to laughing. "Hagrid's a person – the man that we're reading about right now."
The giant squeezed his way into the hut, stooping so that his head just brushed the ceiling. He bent down, picked up the door, and put it easily back into its frame. The noise of the storm outside dropped a little. He turned to look at them all.
"Couldn't make us a cup 'o tea, could yeh? It's not been an easy journey. . . ."
The time-travelers all chuckled at this, and Harry gave his two friends a knowing look. Ron's eyes widened and he grinned at Harry, "Is this it? This is it, isn't it! Oh I can't wait to read this…"
"What are you speaking of?" Rowena asked, looking slightly confused and looking angry that she felt confused.
"Harry's told us this story, well some of it," Ron added, shooting a look at Harry. He was still hurt that Harry hadn't told him and Hermione about the cupboard under the stairs.
He strode over to the sofa where Dudley sat frozen in fear.
"Budge up, yeh great lump," said the stranger.
Godric grinned, already liking him.
Dudley squeaked and ran to hide behind his mother, who was crouching, terrified, behind Uncle Vernon.
"He must be huge to cover Dudley too," said Ron, looking faintly amused.
"And he only gets bigger," added Harry, a slight smirk on his face.
"An' here's Harry!" said the giant.
Harry looked up into the fierce, wild, shadowy face and saw that the beetle eyes were crinkled into a smile. "Las' time I saw you, you was only a baby," said the giant. "Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh got yer mom's eyes."
Ron nudged Harry in the side, who gave a longsuffering sigh and ignored him. Hermione shot Ron a warning look, who simply rolled his eyes and crossed his arms.
Uncle Vernon made a funny rasping noise.
"I demand that you leave at once, sir! You are breaking and entering!"
"Ah, shut up Dursley yeh great prune," said the giant; he reached over the back of the sofa, jerked the gun out of Uncle Vernon's hands, bent it into a knot as easily as if it had been made of rubber, and threw it into a corner of the room.
Uncle Vernon made another funny noise; like a mouse being trodden on.
The time-travelers exchanged looks here, as though wondering whether Pettigrew would make that noise.
"Anyway, Harry," said the giant, turning his back to the Dursleys, "a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat for yeh here – I mighta sat on it at some point, but it'll taste all right."
From inside the pocket of his black overcoat he pulled out a slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.
Harry looked up at the giant, he meant to say thank you, but the words got lost in his mouth. Instead he said, "Who are you?"
The giant chuckled.
"True, I haven't introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts."
He held out an enormous hand and shook Harry's whole arm.
"Poor Hagrid doesn't know his own strength," Ron muttered to Harry, who chuckled.
"What about tha' tea then, eh?" He said, rubbing his hands together. "I'd not say no ter something stronger if yeh've got it, mind."
His eyes fell upon the empty grate with the shriveled up chip bags and he snorted. He bent down over the fireplace; they couldn't see what he was doing, but when he drew back a second later, there was a roaring fire there.
"He shouldn't be using magic in front of muggles…" said Rowena, sounding torn.
"It was worth it though."
It filled the whole damp hut with flickering light and Harry felt the warmth wash over him as though he'd sunk into a hot bath.
The giant sat back down on the sofa, which sagged under his weight, and began taking all kinds of things out of his pocket coat: a copper kettle, a squashy package of sausages, a poker, a teapot, and a bottle of some amber liquid that he took a swing of before starting to make tea. Soon the hut was filled with the sound and smell of sizzling sausage. Nobody said a thing while the giant was working, but as he slid the first six, fat, juicy, slightly burned sausages from the poker, Dudley fidgeted a little.
"Fat git." Said Ron.
Uncle Vernon said sharply, "Don't touch anything he gives you Dudley."
The giant chuckled darkly.
"Yer great puddin' of a son don' need fattenin' anymore, Dursley, don' worry."
There were a lot of chuckles at this.
He passed the sausages to Harry, who was so hungry he had never tasted anything so wonderful, but he still couldn't take his eyes off the giant.
Finally, as nobody seemed about to explain anything, he said, "I'm sorry, but I still don't really know who you are."
The giant took a gulp of tea and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
"Call me Hagrid," he said, "Everyone does. An' like I told yeh, I'm the Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts – you'll know all 'bout Hogwarts, o' course."
"Er – no." said Harry.
Hagrid looked shocked.
"Sorry," said Harry quickly.
"Why's he apologizing?! It's not his fault!" cried Godric.
"Probably living with those blasted muggles!" Salazar fumed. Harry wasn't sure whether he should be irritated or amused, after all, they seemed to be directing this more at the book.
"Sorry?" barked Hagrid, turning to stare at the Dursleys, who shrank back in the shadows. "It's them as should be sorry! I knew you weren't getting yer letters but I never thought yeh wouldn't know abou' Hogwarts, fer crying out loud! Did yeh never wonder where yer parents learned it all?"
"Learned what?" asked Harry.
"ALL WHAT?" Hagrid thundered.
Everyone in the room flinched.
"The Dursleys are gonna DIE!" Godric said, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice. Rowena shot him a disapproving look, but, like the rest of them, wanted the Dursleys to pay for Harry's abuse.
"Now wait jus' one second!" he had leapt to his feet, his anger seemed to fill the whole hut. The Dursley's were cowering against the wall.
"Do yer mean to tell me," growled Hagrid at the Dursleys, "that this boy – this boy! – knows nothin' abou' – about ANYTHING?"
Harry thought this was going a bit far. He had been to school, after all, and his marks weren't bad.
"I can do some things," he said, "I can, you know, do math and stuff."
Ron shook his head sadly.
But Hagrid simply waved his hand and said, "About our world, I mean. Your world. My world. Yer parent's world!"
Hagrid looked as though he were about to explode.
"DURSLEY!" he boomed.
"You go Hagrid!" shouted Godric, though he'd never met or seen the half-giant. "knock 'em all out!" Uncle Vernon, who had gone very pale, whispered something that sounded like "MimbleWimble." Hagrid stared wildly at Harry.
"But yeh must know about yer mom and dad," he said, "I mean – they're famous! You're famous!"
"What? My – my mom and dad weren't famous, were they?"
"Yeh don' know . . . yeh don' know . . ." Hagrid ran his fingers through his hair, fixing Harry with a bewildered stare.
"Yeh don' know what yeh are?" he said finally.
"He could have worded that a little better," Helga said, looking faintly amused.
Uncle Vernon suddenly found his voice. "Stop!" he commanded. "Stop right there, sir! I forbid you to tell the boy anything!"
A braver man than Vernon Dursley would how quivered under the furious look Hagrid now gave him; when Hagrid spoke, his every syllable trembled with rage.
"You never told him? Never told him what was in the letter Dumbledore left fer him? I was there! I saw Dumbledore leave it, Dursley! And you kept it from him all these years?"
Everyone was edging forward in their seats, even Salazar looked excited. Harry's facial expression still hadn't changed.
"Kept what from me?" said Harry eagerly.
"STOP! I FORBID YOU!" yelled Uncle Vernon in panic.
Aunt Petunia gave a gasp of horror.
"Ah, go boil yer heads, both of yeh," said Hagrid. "Harry – yer a wizard."
"YES!" almost everyone leaped from their chairs in excitement, then promptly sat back down again, looking confused.
There was silence in the hut. Only the sea and the whistling wind could be heard.
"I'm a what?" gasped Harry.
"A wizard, o' course." Said Hagrid, sitting back down on the sofa which groaned and sank even lower, "and a thumpin' good'un, I'd say, once yeh've been trained up a bit. With a mom an' dad like yers, what else would ya be? And I reckon it's about time yeh've read yer letter."
Harry stretched out his hand at last to take the yellowish envelope, addressed in green ink to Mr. H. Potter, The Floor, Hut-On-The-Rock, The Sea. He pulled out the letter and read:
Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
"Now at least we know what to put in the letters that we send," Rowena said thoughtfully after hearing Salazar reading that.
The other Founders nodded, looking rather excited at the prospect of sending out a letter.
Hermione piped up quickly, before Salazar had the chance to read again. "May I ask… how do you contact the children now?"
"We send someone to tell them," Rowena replied. Hermione was about to say that they did the same thing to muggleborns, but decided not to at the last minute. She wasn't quite sure she wanted Salazar Slytherin to know she was a muggleborn yet.
Questions exploded inside Harry's head like fireworks and he couldn't decide which to ask first. After a few minutes he stammered, "What does it mean, they await my owl?"
"….You find out you're a wizard, and you ask about the owl?" Ron sounded downright confused. Everyone else was laughing at Harry's question.
"Gallopin' Gorgons, that reminds me," said Hagrid, clapping a hand to his forehead with enough force to knock over a cart horse, and from yet another pocket inside his overcoat he pulled an owl – a real, live, rather ruffled-looking owl – a long quill, and a roll of parchment. With his tongue between his teeth he scribbled a note that Harry could read upside down.
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
Given Harry his letter,
Taking him to buy his things tomorrow.
Weather's horrible. Hope you're well.
Hagrid rolled up the note, gave it to the owl, which clamped it in its beak, went to the door, and threw the owl out into the storm. Then he came back and sat down as though this was as normal as talking on the telephone.
Nobody cared to ask what a telephone was.
Harry realized his mouth was open and closed it quickly.
"Where was I?" said Hagrid, but at that moment, Uncle Vernon, still ashen-faced but looking very angry, moved into the firelight.
"He's not going," he said.
"I'd like ter see a great Muggle like you stop him," he said.
"A what?" said Harry, interested.
"A Muggle," said Hagrid, "it's what we call nonmagic folk like them. An' it's your bad luck you grew up in a family o' the biggest Muggles I ever laid eyes on."
"We swore when we took him in we'd put a stop to that rubbish," said Uncle Vernon, "swore we'd stomp it out of him!
"You can't stamp out magic," Salazar seemed to be drained of anger towards the Dursleys at this point, for he said this in a bored and factual tone.
"To this day I'm surprised he actually said the word 'wizard'."
"You knew?" said Harry. "You knew I'm a – a wizard?"
"Knew!" shrieked Aunt Petunia suddenly. "Knew! Of course we knew! How could you not be, my dratted sister being what she was? Oh, she got a letter just like that and disappeared off to that – that school – and came home every vacation with her pockets full of frog spawn, turning teacups into rats. I was the only one who saw her for what she was – a freak! But for my mother and father, oh no, it was Lily this and Lily that, they were proud of having a witch in the family!"
"I can't believe she just said that!" roared Salazar, his anger apparently returning. "How can –" he cut off at Rowena's glare, gave a tremendous 'huff', and returned to reading.
She stopped to draw a deep breath and then went ranting on. It seemed she had been wanting to say all this for years.
"Then she met that Potter at school and they left and got married and had you, and of course I knew you'd be just the same, just as strange, just as – as – abnormal – and then, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we got landed with you!"
"I can't believe you found out that way!" Helga both sounded and looked horrified, then a steely expression – the same one he'd seen her wear when talking about the muggles and Salazar – crossed her face. Salazar had returned to staring at Harry, who was sure to avoid his gaze this time. He wished he had paid more attention in History of Magic class, then he would have known for certain if Salazar was a Ligilimens. Hermione and Ron were both looking sadly at him, which he ignored.
Harry had gone very white. As soon as he found his voice he said, "Blown up? You told me they died in a car crash!"
"CAR CRASH!" roared Hagrid, jumping up so angrily that the Dursleys scuttled back to their corner. "How could a car crash kill Lily an' James Potter? It's an outrage! A scandal! Harry Potter now knowin' his own story when every kid in our world knows his name?"
"But why? What happened?" Harry asked urgently.
The anger faded from Hagrid's face. He looked suddenly anxious.
"I never expected this," he said in a low, worried voice. "I had no idea, when Dumbledore told me there might be trouble gettin' hold of yeh, how much yeh didn't know. Ah, Harry, I don' know if I'm the right person ter tell yeh – but someone's gotta – yeh can't go off ter Hogwarts not knowin'."
He threw a dirty look at the Dursleys.
"Well, it's best yeh know as much as I can tell yeh – mind, I can't tell yeh everythin', it's a great myst'ry, parts of it. . . ."
He sat down, stared into the fire for a few seconds, and then said, "It begins, I suppose, with – with a person called – but it's incredible yeh don't know his name, everyone in our world knows –"
"Well – I don' like sayin' the name if I can help it. No one does."
"Gulpin' gargoyles, Harry, people are still scared. Blimey, this is difficult. See, there was this wizard who went . . . bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than worse. His name was . . ."
The Founders were looking anxious now, eager to see how and why this wizard struck such fear into the hearts of the Wizarding world. Ron and Hermione, however, seemed to be preparing themselves to hear the name.
Hagrid gulped, but no words came out.
"Could you write it down?" Harry suggested.
"Nah – can't spell it. All right – Voldemort."
"I can't believe you actually got him to say it," said Ron, sounding slightly impressed.
Hagrid shuddered. "Don' make me say it again. Anyway, this – this wizard, about twenty years ago now, started lookin' fer followers. Got 'em too – some were afraid, some just wanted a bit o' his power, cause he was getting' himself power, all right. Dark days, Harry. Didn't know who ter trust, didn't dare get friendly with strange wizards or witches . . . terrible things happened. He was takin' over. 'Course, some stood up to him – an' he killed 'em. Horribly. One o' the only safe places left was Hogwarts. Reckon Dumbledore's the only one You-Know-Who was afraid of. Didn't dare try takin' the school, not jus' then, anyway.
"Now, yer mom an' dad were as good a witch an' wizard as I ever knew. Head boy an' girl at Hogwarts in their day! Suppose the myst'ry is why You-Know-Who never tried to get 'em on his side before. . . . probably knew they were too close ter Dumbledore ter want anythin' ter do with the Dark Side.
"I guess this is a lot of reason that Dark Magic is so frowned upon where you come from…" said Salazar quietly, the other Founders looking quite shocked and horrified at the thought of this Dark Wizard taking over the Wizarding world.
Times weren't exactly peaceful, but they weren't at war. It seemed as though there had been an incredibly big one where the time-travelers came from though. Helga shuddered at the thought.
"Maybe he thought he could persuade 'em . . . maybe he just wanted 'em outta the way. All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on Halloween ten years ago. You was just a year old. He came to yer house an' – an' –"
Though they'd been silent before, it seemed more of a vigil of silence now.
Hagrid suddenly pulled out a very dirty, spotted handkerchief and blew his nose with a sound like a foghorn.
"Sorry," he said. "But it's that sad – knew yer mom an' dad, an' nicer people yeh couldn't find – anyway . . .
"You-Know-Who killed 'em. An' then – an' this is the real myst'ry of the thing – he tried to kill you, too. Wanted ter make a clean job of it, I suppose, or maybe he just liked killin by then. But he couldn't do it. Never wondered how you got that mark on your forehead? That was no ordinary cut. That's what yeh get when a powerful, evil curse touches yeh – took care of yer mum an' dad an' yer house, even – but it didn't work on you, an' that's why yer famous, Harry. No one ever lived after he decided ter kill 'em, no one except you, an' he'd killed some o' the best witches and wizards of the age – the McKinnons, the Bones, the Prewetts – an you was only a baby, an' you lived."
There was a long silence.
"Does that mean – I mean, do you think you have powers . . . like . . . greater than the average witch or wizard?"
"Well He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named did, but he couldn't kill Harry. So do you think Harry was stronger than him?"
"I'm also right here," said Harry tartly. "And I doubt it," he added, "there's nothing really special about me."
Hermione and Ron looked as though they were going to refuse, but said nothing at the look Harry sent their way.
Something very painful was going on in Harry's mind. As Hagrid's story came to a close, he saw again the blinding flash of green light, more clearly than he had ever remembered it before – and he remembered something else, for the first time in his life: a high, cold, cruel laugh.
Everyone in the room shuddered, save Salazar, who was staring at the book as though he'd never seen a book before.
Hagrid was watching him sadly.
"Took yeh from the ruined house myself, on Dumbledore's orders. Brought yeh ter this lot. . ."
"Load of old tosh," said Uncle Vernon. Harry jumped; he had almost forgotten that the Dursleys were there. Uncle Vernon certainly seemed to have got back his courage. He was glaring at Hagrid and his fists were clenched.
"Now, you listen here, boy," he snarled, "I accept there's something strange about you, probably nothing a good beating wouldn't have cured –"
"IS HE SAYING HE BEAT YOU!?" Salazar suddenly yelled over Uncle Vernon's voice. Almost everybody jumped at the exclamation.
"NO!" Harry said quickly and loudly, trying to calm Salazar down again. If there was one thing Harry remembered about the Founders and History of Magic, it had never mentioned how bad his mood swings were. It was most likely just muggles, as Helga said to him before, but he couldn't help but to wonder what he'd think of him running straight into danger knowingly with Ron and Hermione.
Salazar glared at him, but Harry didn't back down. True, he avoided his eyes, but that was only because he was worried that Salazar could use Ligilimens on him. He didn't really want the cruelest Founder of Hogwarts poking around his brain, thank you very much.
" – and as for all of this about yer parents, well, they were weirdos, no denying it, and the world's better off without them in my opinion –"
"WELL NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR OPINION YOU GREAT UGLY BRUTE!" Salazar shouted at the book, and this time it was Godric who groaned and tried to calm Salazar down. Ron and Hermione were looking quite terrified.
" – asked for all they got, getting mixed up with these wizarding types – just what I expected, always knew they'd come to a sticky end –"
But at that moment, Hagrid leapt from the sofa and drew out a battered pink umbrella from inside his coat. Pointing this at Uncle Vernon like a sword, he said, "I'm warning you Dursley – I'm warning you – one more word . . ."
In danger of being speared on the end of an umbrella by a bearded giant, Uncle Vernon's courage failed again; he flattened himself against the wall and then fell silent.
"That's better," said Hagrid, breathing heavily and sitting back down on the sofa, which this time sagged right down to the floor.
Harry, meanwhile, still had questions to ask, hundreds of them.
"But what happened to Vol-, sorry – I mean, You-Know-Who?"
"Good question, Harry. Disapeared. Vanished. Same night he tried ter kill you. Makes yeh even more famous. That's the biggest myst'ry, see . . . he was gettin' more an' more powerful – why'd he go?
"Some say he died. Codswallop in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die. Some say he's still out there, bidin' his time, like, but I don' believe it. People who was on his side came back ter ours. Some of 'em came outta kinda trances. Don' reckon they could've done if he was comin' back.
"Most of us reckon he's still out there somewhere, but lost his powers. Too weak to carry on. 'Cause somethin' about you finished him, Harry. There was somethin' goin' on that night he hadn't counted on – I dunno what it was, no one does – but somethin' about you stumped him all right."
Harry, Hermione and Ron exchanged extremely sad looks at this. Rowena caught this straight away. "Something happened, didn't it?"
"A lot happened," Harry admitted, "and I'm sure these … books… will explain."
Hagrid looked at Harry with warmth and respect blazing in his eyes, but Harry, instead of feeling pleased and proud, felt quite sure there had been a horrible mistake. A wizard? Him? How could he possibly be? He'd spent his life being clouted by Dudley, and bullied by Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon; if he really was a wizard, why hadn't they been turned into toads every time they'd tried to lock him in his cupboard? If he'd once defeated the greatest sorcerer in the world, how come Dudley was always able to kick him around like a football?
"Am I the only one in here who wants to punch that fat lard?" Ron growled.
"Hagrid," he said quietly, "I think you must have made a mistake. I don't think I can be a wizard."
To his surprise, Hagrid chuckled.
"Not a wizard, eh? Never made things happen when you was scared or angry?"
Harry looked into the fire. Now that he came to think about it . . . every odd thing that had ever made his aunt and uncle furious when he, Harry, had been upset or angry . . . chased by Dudley's gang, he had somehow found himself out of their reach . . . dreading going to school with that ridiculous haircut, he'd managed to make it grow back . . . and the very last time Dudley had hit him, hadn't he gotten his revenge, without even realizing he was doing it? Hadn't he set a boa constrictor on him?
"You set it on him?" Salazar, a far cry better than before, sounded slightly amused.
Harry shrugged, "I did make the glass disappear. I mean, it's not like I told the snake to –" he cut off at that, looking as though he were incapable of speech. He turned to look at Hermione and Ron, his mouth still open in shock. They looked at him in wonder and a little bit of concern. "Harry, what is it?"
"Nagini," he practically whispered. At first the words didn't seem to register to them, but then their eyes widened as they took this in. "But… no…"
"Same pattern, same species, same size, and you heard Salazar!" Harry motioned towards the confused-looking Founder, "He said it was a girl."
Ron looked very convinced at this, but Hermione was still frowning. "Well that doesn't mean that she's Nagini, does it? I mean..."
"What are you all talking about?" asked Godric with a frown, staring at the three of them. The time-travelers jumped, as though only remembering that they were there. "Just… you'll probably read about her. You'll see…"
Salazar took this as his cue to continue reading, though he was still very curious as to find out who 'Nagini' was and why she seemed so important… and was that fear?...to the time-travelers.
Harry looked back at Hagrid, smiling, and saw that Hagrid was positively beaming at him.
"See?" said Hagrid. "Harry Potter, not a wizard – you wait, you'll be right famous at Hogwarts."
But Uncle Vernon wasn't going to give in without a fight.
"He needs to give up while he's ahead," Hermione said tartly, her eyes narrowed.
"Haven't I told you he's not going?" he hissed. "He's going to Stonewall High and he'll be grateful for it. I've read those letters and he needs all sorts of rubbish – spell books and wands and –"
"If he wants ter go, a great Muggle like you won't stop him," growled Hagrid. "Stop Lily an' James Potter's son goin' ter Hogwarts! Yer mad. His names been down ever since he was born. He's off ter the finest school of witchcraft and wizardry in the world. Seven years there and he won't know himself. He'll be with youngsters of his own sort, fer a change, an' he'll be under the greatest headmaster Hogwarts ever had, Ablus Dumbled –"
"I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!" yelled Uncle Vernon.
Ron actually cursed and Hermione's hand flew to her mouth in a gasp. Even Harry, though he'd already lived this and was slightly mad at Dumbledore, had a dark look on his face at these words, which considerably brightened. Ron looked at him as though he'd gone insane.
"This is the part," Harry informed his friends, who suddenly looked a lot more mollified – indeed, Ron seemed a little eager. The Founders were all very confused, but decided that reading the book was possibly the only straight answer they would get.
But he had finally gone too far. Hagrid seized his umbrella and whirled it over his head, "NEVER –" he thundered, " – INSULT – ALBUS – DUMBLEDORE – IN – FRONT – OF – ME!"
He brought the umbrella swishing down through the air to point at Dudley – there was a flash of violet light, a sound like a firecracker, a sharp squeal, and the next second, Dudley was dancing on the spot with his hands clasped over his fat bottom, howling in pain. When he turned his back on them, Harry saw a curly pig's tail poking through the hole in his trousers.
Everyone howled with laughter, Ron slapping his knee. "Got what he deserves!"
Uncle Vernon roared. Pulling Aunt Petunia and Dudley into the other room, he cast one last terrified look at Hagrid and slammed the door behind them.
Hagrid looked down at his umbrella and stroked his beard.
"Shouldn'ta lost me temper," he said ruefully, "but it didn't work anyway. Meant ter turn him into a pig, but I suppose he was so much like a pig anyway there wasn't much left to do."
He cast a sideways look at Harry under his bushy eyebrows.
"Be grateful if yeh didn't mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts," he said, "I'm – er – not supposed to do magic, strictly speakin'. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an' get yer letters to yeh an' stuff – one o' the reasons I was so keen ter take the job –"
"Why aren't you supposed to do magic?" asked Harry.
The Founders appeared even more confused, if such a thing were possible. "I don't understand. Is his wand broken?"
"No… he uh… he… you'll see," Ron said, already starting to dislike the answer of 'you'll see'. He supposed it was even worse for the Founders though, who had no idea what 'you'll see' meant.
"Oh, well – I was at Hogwarts meself but I – er – got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wand in half an' everything. But Dumbledore let me stay on as gamekeeper. Great man, Dumbledore."
"They snap your wand?" Helga looked horrified.
"Do they not do that in this time?"
"Merlin no," Godric was staring at them with wide eyes, "that could save a witch or wizard's life!"
"Why were you expelled?"
"It's getting' late and we've got lots ter do tomorrow," said Hagrid loudly. "Gotta get up ter town, get all yer book an' that."
Ron smirked at the sudden change in subject, and Hermione shot him a nasty look.
He took off his thick black coat and threw it to Harry.
"You can kip under that," he said. "Don' mind if it wriggles a bit, I think I still got a couple o' dormice in one o' the pockets."
Salazar put the book down, looking at the time travelers.
"Which one of you wants to read?"