In Chapter 33, Harry and Hermione lure Umbridge into the Forbidden Forest. What could go wrong? Let’s go!
Hermione has a plan. We don’t know what it is or where she is heading, but Harry is following her without question. Not that he can ask questions with Umbridge right behind him, but following Hermione is usually a good idea regardless.
They walk through the entrance hall, past the Great Hall where the other students are eating dinner, and out the front door.
“It’s hidden in Hagrid’s hut, is it?” said Umbridge eagerly in Harry’s ear.
“Of course not,” said Hermione scathingly. “Hagrid might have set it off accidentally.”
“Yes,” said Umbridge, whose excitement seemed to be mounting. “Yes, he would have done, of course, the great half-breed oak . . .”
Don’t you dare talk about Hagrid that way! Although it is clever of Hermione to play into Umbridge’s hatred of half-breeds as a way of placating her and making her think they have something in common.
Hermione tells her that the “weapon” is in the Forbidden Forest, since it had to be somewhere students wouldn’t find it. Umbridge is feeling a bit uncertain now, but tells them both to stay in front of her (although she won’t give Harry her wand since they are the ones who are going first and will be the first ones to encounter any danger – she doesn’t care about their welfare in the slightest). Harry also tries to catch Hermione’s eye as they are walking, but fails. He is so confused right now!
Harry starts to realize that they are heading down the same path Hagrid had taken them to go see Grawp and asks if Hermione is sure she’s going the right way. Hermione is very sure. Her idea seems to be to lead Umbridge to Grawp, and then let Grawp deal with her. Honestly, it’s not a terrible plan, although there are so many variables that could go horribly wrong. One of those variables being . . .
An arrow flew through the air and landed with a menacing thud in the tree just over her head. The air was suddenly full of the sound of hooves. Harry could feel the forest floor trembling; Umbridge gave a little scream and pushed him in front of her like a shield —
It wasn’t Grawp they were heading for. It was the centaurs. Hermione was banking on the centaurs belief from before that they wouldn’t harm her or Harry (since they don’t hurt “foals”) and would instead deal with Umbridge so that they could get away. This is still a dangerous plan, mostly because Umbridge will not shut up. She announces herself as being from the Ministry and threatens them with regulations, calls them half-breeds that have “near-human intelligence.”
Naturally, this makes them angry. Angry magical beings don’t behave rationally, especially when their rules are not the same as human rules. They shoot an arrow towards Umbridge after she claims that the forest doesn’t belong to them and then she tries to cast spells on them, which they do not like one bit. Several of them pick her up and take off through the forest until Harry and Hermione can no longer hear her screaming.
Harry and Hermione are not out of trouble yet though. At first, one of the centaurs repeats what we already know, that the centaurs don’t hurt “foals,” but they also point out that they brought Umbridge there, who just insulted and attacked them. Hermione tries to say that they are different, that they had only hoped that the centaurs could help them. It doesn’t go well.
The gray centaur threw back his head, his back legs stamping furiously, and bellowed, “You see, Ronan? They already have the arrogance of their kind! So we were to do your dirty work, were we, human girl? We were to act as your servants, drive away your enemies like obedient hounds?”
This is not at all what Hermione was saying, but the centaurs are beyond listening. Fortunately, who should appear around the corner, but Grawp. The centaurs recognize this as the much larger threat. He also seems to recognize Hermione, calling out to “Hermy” and wanting to know where “Hagger” is. When Grawp reaches for her, he catches a centaur and sends it flying, which is all the centaurs need to change targets. They start pelting Grawp with arrows and retreating, with Grawp in hot pursuit.
Finally alone, Harry back focused on his scar, which is still hurting. They don’t know what to do other than head back to the castle to at least get their wands, but they have already wasted so much time. Sirius could be dead by the time they get there! As Hermione wonders how they would even get to London, they are interrupted by Ron, Ginny, Neville, and Luna, all who were able to easily disarm the Inquisitorial Squad thanks to their lessons with the D.A.
Harry tells them about the centaurs taking Umbridge away, and then getting run off by Grawp. He also knows that Sirius is still alive, since he knows that his scar would really hurt if Voldemort had done anything extreme. What Harry doesn’t count on is Ginny, Neville, and Luna all deciding that they’re coming along on this venture.
“We were all in the D.A. together,” said Neville quietly. “It was all supposed to be about fighting You-Know-Who, wasn’t it? And this is the first chance we’ve had to do something real — or was that all just a game or something?”
Neville has a point.
So they need to get to London. The fastest way would be to fly. They don’t all have brooms, but what do they have? Thestrals. Yep, the skeletal horses that people can’t see unless they’ve seen someone die. As more and more thestrals arrive (following the smell of blood that Harry and Hermione have on them from Grawp), Harry gives up fighting with them. He tells them to grab a thestral and let’s go. It’s off to the Ministry!
See you next time for Chapter 34!