As a prefect in her sixth year, young Minerva McGonagall
knew she would have to report Hagrid to Headmaster Dippet this time. But Minerva had a soft spot for the young
wizard. Only in his second year, Hagrid
had an amazing knack for trouble. Just
last week, a dugbog got away from him in the Entrance Hall. Eight Slytherins were treated for bites. Minerva smiled. The Gryffindors had thrown a celebration that
night, telling Hagrid it was worth losing ten points. Though a trouble magnet, the huge boy staunchly
defended the small and weak. For that
alone, Minerva often looked the other way when Hagrid carried slithering,
venomous creatures into the common room.
But, making her late to practice because he
wanted to romp in the Forbidden Forest
was another matter. Minerva’s quidditch
robes streamed behind her as she urged her broom after the boy. Zig-zagging the dark boles of the forest, she
glimpsed Hagrid as he disappeared into a hillside. Dismounting, she called sharply, “Rubeus
Hagrid, what are you doing in there?”
Ready to upbraid him for his serious transgression, Minerva
was completely unprepared to see Hagrid’s huge head appear with tears steaming
down his baby-faced cheeks.
“She’s dying. An’
“Who’s dying, Hagrid? Time for
But Hagrid had disappeared back into the cave. Following him, Minerva found the boy kneeling
beside the largest wolf she’d ever seen.
Dried, brown blood stained a white bandage on the wolf’s chest. Detecting Minerva’s entrance, the wolf looked
her in the eye and growled a weak threat.
Seeing the intelligence in those overly large eyes, Minerva stepped
back, drawing her wand.
“Hagrid, that’s a werewolf!
But it’s daytime! And the full moon is
a week away! Why is it still in wolf-form?”
“She got pregnant a few moons back. She’s stuck till it’s over. But, the problem is the bleedin’. I pulled an arrow outta her three nights
ago. It musta been silver-tipped, ‘cause
it isn’ healin’.”
She shoulda died from loss o’ blood.
Reckon she’s on’y hangin’ on fer the pups.”
“Hagrid, what if you get bit?”
He ducked his head, avoiding her eye. “She won’ lose control till the full
moon. ‘Sides she wouldn’ hurt me. Would yeh, girl? I’m all she’s got. Yeh know how people treat werewolves, Minerva. They’re outcasts.” Minerva heard his unspoken words: “Like
Minerva realized how the boy must feel the werewolf’s
plight. Hagrid’s huge size made him a
natural target for the taunts of bullies.
Especially when they found out his gentle nature meant there was little
chance of reprisal. More seriously, the
recent loss of Hagrid’s father was still a raw wound. Suddenly, Minerva couldn’t speak around the
lump in her throat. Hagrid identified
with the werewolf’s isolation as few others could.
“Me ol’ dad said it’s jus’ a disease. Nobody’s ter blame fer bein’ a werewolf
anymore than I’m ter blame fer… Well, they aren’ ter blame. Me dad was allus kind to Mr. Holmon, and there weren’ a nicer chap in our
Just then, the wolf growled in pain. A contraction spasmed across her flank. Hagrid was there, soothing her pain and
crooning into her ear. When the contraction
passed, she collapsed backward to the floor.
The white bandage seeped bright red.
In an eerily human manner, the wolf looked directly at Minerva. At that instant, they both knew what this
night would bring. Minerva nodded at the
woman inside the wolf, who then laid her head back in exhaustion.
“Hagrid,” she said gently.
“I don’t think she will survive this night.”
“Wha’! O’course she
will. She’s a fighter. She’s made it this long hadn’ she? She’ll make it. Won’ yeh, girl? You’ll make it, won’ yeh?” His voice trailed off into a muttered
singsong of encouragement as he stroked her fur
Minerva didn’t push it, but the wolf opened her eyes briefly
to meet Minerva’s. Again, a wealth of
understanding passed in that briefest of flickers.
An hour later, Hagrid held the she-wolf after a particularly
bad contraction. Two pups lay small and
defenseless, wrapped in a blanket that Minerva knew must have come from
Hagrid’s own bed. Labor had been fast,
but hard. Much blood had been lost and
the wolf was weak. She could do no more
than hold her head up. Cradling her
easily in his great arms, Hagrid looked deeply into the wolf’s amber eyes. Her fight was almost over.
He stroked her muzzle.
Through tears and sobs, he said, “I’ll take care o’ them like me own
family. Yeh can let go, now. Yeh’ve given ‘em life. Yeh were strong. Strong when it mattered. Yeh fought death for ‘em. Yeh fought death an’ yeh won. I’ll tell ‘em. I’ll make sure they know their mum loved ‘em
more’n life. They’ll know your honor and
courage.” He lifted the two pups in his
huge hand and held them to their mother’s face.
She nuzzled their bodies and gently licked each face dry. She turned to Hagrid. She touched her nose to his cheek, wet with
tears. The wolf’s eyes sought out
Minerva’s and locked onto her gaze. The
intelligent, sorrowful eyes never left hers as their light faded slowly away.
Walking back to the castle, neither student spoke. Minerva carried her broom over one
shoulder. Hagrid carried a box with
great tenderness. Minerva wasn’t sure what she was feeling right then. As a Gryffindor, she admired the bravery and
determination in the mother werewolf.
She took pride in the stout heart of a young second year willing to risk
himself for the sake of others. But, the emotion wrapped around her heart was a bittersweet
wistfulness. Her heart admired that
mother’s selfless love. Love for babies
unborn. Babies that, now, would never
know their mother’s love firsthand.
Minerva silently vowed to help Hagrid.
Together, they would ensure these babies felt that love. Because love that powerful should leave the
world a better place. She’d see to it.