CHAPTER 14 – Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback
The gang kept their eye on Quirrell, and although he seemed to be getting
paler, there was no outward sign that he had cracked.
They felt that the stone was safe, and they considered this to be the case
all the while Fluffy guarded the trapdoor, and also with the presence of the Headmaster, Dumbledore.
Harry still remained concerned, but his colleagues were now concentrating on
the forthcoming exams, dealing with the piles of homework allocated to them.
One day in the library, Harry was surprised to see Hagrid concealing a book.
After he left, Harry went to the section that Hagrid had been to and it was concerning dragons. He remembered Hagrid saying that he has always wanted a dragon, but this was against the law. Wizards were no longer allowed to keep dragons, as this drew the attention of muggles to their way of life. Harry decided to go and visit Hagrid who was behaving oddly when he arrived. Inside Hagrid’s stiflingly hot hut, Harry couldn’t help notice the large black egg on Hagrid’s fire, and the book Hagrid was reading called ‘Dragon breeding for Pleasure and Profit’. Hagrid had won the egg in a game of cards and was hatching it. Now Harry had something else to worry about – Hagrid concealing an illegal dragon in his hut.
A few days later, Harry got a message from Hagrid announcing that the egg
was cracking. As soon as Harry had some free time, he went to Hagrid’s hut to witness the birth of a Norwegian Ridgeback that Hagrid named Norbert.
Hermione and Ron also witnessed the hatching, and they were fascinated by
the baby dragon. However, they had been followed by Malfoy and he observed the dragon through a gap in the curtains.
Over the next few weeks, the dragon grew at a tremendous rate being fed on
brandy and chicken blood. Although small, the dragon was a vicious animal and gave Ron a nasty bite.
It was clear that they would soon have to dispose of the dragon, and Ron came up with the idea that his brother Charlie in Romania would be able to take it and return it to the wild. Arrangements were made for the pick-up to be made one Wednesday night from Hogwarts’ highest tower. Hagrid managed to crate the dragon with a supply of dead rats as food, and using the cloak of invisibility, Harry and Hermione smuggled the dragon to the tower. Malfoy had got wind of these arrangements and he too was skulking about the corridors, but was caught by Professor McGonagall and given a detention. He tried to incriminate Harry with the dragon story, but the Professor would not believe him.
Ron was unable to assist them as he was in the hospital wing nursing his
severe bite, which he had blamed on a dog.
The pick-up of the dragon was a success, but in returning to their dormitory
they had forgotten to use the invisibility cloak and were caught by Filch, and they would also receive a detention when Filch took them to Professor McGonagall.
This Chapter concerning the dragon is a slight diversion from the main plot,
although this is not clear to the reader at this stage. It is used as a means for putting Malfoy and the gang on a detention, which they have to share later in the book.
What the Chapter does provide is more background to this mystical world, and
it also provides us with more information concerning Hagrid’s complex character.
Although he is clearly trusted by Dumbledore and is totally loyal to the school, he also likes to break the rules which would explain his expulsion from Hogwarts school in the first place. It is obvious that the teachers turn a blind-eye to his activities, but Harry and the others spot his unusual behavior and it is not long before they discover that he is trying to hatch a dragon’s egg that he won by gambling at the local Inn. This shows us that he likes all the vices that bring trouble.