“I tell yeh, Professor, HE CAN NOT PASS!”
“Now Hagrid,” began Cornelius Fudge, “while I respect
your position as the duly-restored Keeper of Grounds at Hogwarts, you must
respect mine as the duly-elected Minister of Magic.”
Rubeus Hagrid snorted loudly. He defiantly blocked the way for the hapless Fudge and his
entourage. No aurors today, not since
last time when aurors faced Hagrid here, outside his hut at the edge of the
Forbidden Forest. A number of them were
thrown to unconsciousness, their own Stunning Spells useless against
Hagrid. There was no danger this time,
especially since Professor Dumbledore remained ensconced between them.
“Hagrid. It is
all very well, I assure you.” Albus Dumbledore spoke for the first time since
this encounter began. He typically
escorted the Minister of Magic during Hogwarts visits. This was the first such visit since the
Ministry officially recognized the return of You-Know-Who. But today, Fudge came about the Forest.
“What’s the use of inspectin’ the wand trees? He’s not takin’ one branch!” Hagrid had recently developed an aversion to
Ministry personnel, even the Minister of Magic himself. Dumbledore hoped that Hagrid would outgrow
this habit soon; recent meetings of the Order had been somber enough without
Hagrid snubbing the likes of Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks. They knew it was temporary. If there was any lesson learned from recent
events, it was the importance of being patient.
“The Ministry has deemed that due to the lack of rain
between this summer and the last, the current crop from Ministry tree farms has
suffered. Alternate sources must be
examined,” said Fudge.
“He should look fer ’em someplace else. The Forest don’ take kindly ter ministry
types pokin’ about.” Still unknown to
most everyone else, Hagrid harbored another reason for keeping others away from
the Forbidden Forest. He just hoped
that reason was still fast asleep where he left him.
“The Ministry wizards with me are quite adept at
exploring magical habitats,” insisted Fudge.
“Of course, with the inevitability of encountering magical creatures and
such, I’ve also brought members of the Department for the Regulation and
Control of Magical Creatures. They are
ones taking over from here.” And with
that, Fudge stomped off towards the castle.
One of the ministry wizards took Fudge’s place at the head of the
entourage. He started to address the
still-unwavering Hagrid, who was busy watching the departing Fudge.
“Hagrid, I know you mean well. This forest has been on the Hogwarts grounds forever, and it’s
not our intention to commandeer this site for another tree farm. This is a home after all, to many creatures,
which I know you care about. I know
that Cedric… when he was alive, spoke highly of the work you do.” At these words, Hagrid finally lowered his
gaze and looked at the wizard properly.
It was Amos Diggory, Cedric’s father, looking kind but determined. “ We promise not to go in too far,” he said
with a smile. “But perhaps you can go in with us, keep an eye on things?”
“You see Hagrid, some ‘ministry types’, as you call them,
are not as bad as they appear.” Dumbledore said with a wink.
Hagrid looked as if something finally got through. “Amos,” he said, “yer son was a good
person. Since yeh’re askin’, I’ll show
yeh some o’ the better wand trees this side.”
“I will leave you all to it, then,” Dumbledore told
everyone, and turned back towards the castle.
“Oh,” he added quickly, “ and those of you concerned about the centaurs
should know that I, myself, was in conference with them this morning, and I
feel that they may be cooperative today in allowing visitors to the
Forest.” Several ministry wizards
sighed in relief. No doubt they had
heard what recently happened to Dolores Umbridge in this very place. “The Minister and I will await your return
for luncheon at the castle.”
“Thank you, headmaster,” said Diggory.
The small party set off for the nearest patch of wand
trees. Along the way, Amos acquainted
Hagrid with another wizard in the group, Rudolf Brocklehurst.
“Rudy was here at Hogwarts some time ago,” explained
Amos. “Brilliant work you may recall,
regarding plant studies with Professor Sprout.”
“Spent too much time at the greenhouses, I’m afraid,”
admitted Rudy. “Some of my Ravenclaw housemates were convinced I was sorted
into the wrong House.”
“Yeh got family in the school?” Hagrid inquired.
“Yes! A cousin
named Mandy. She’s in Ravenclaw
too. She’ll be a sixth year this
September. Uncertain she’ll follow my
“Rudy works the Ministry tree farms. Bit of a pioneer, I daresay.” Amos beamed.
“What I still haven’t understood is how he talks to trees.”
“ I don’t actually,” Rudy responded. “But from what I’ve learned from studying
both the tree’s inhabitants and the tree itself, I found that I also can
influence the tree’s development, much like a parent to a child.”
“The past two summers his ‘children’ haven’t yielded
ample stores of wand-grade wood,” declared Diggory, as he revealed a sack of
wood lice he brought along. “The wood
that gets produced is either too supple or brittle, and wands created from this
stock are unacceptable. It’s not like
it used to be, when most wands came from trees older than most families.”
“Well, the quality of wood yielded by a farm tree doesn’t
compare to those from an ancient forest tree,” Rudy said. “Trees weren’t meant to grow in rigid, even
rows. Because their surroundings aren’t
natural, they lose their natural character.
This is why we need to examine the ancient wand trees. We’re here to determine how they’re getting
along, how they’re surviving, and perhaps bring some of their guardians back
with us to teach the others.”
“The bowtruckles?” asked Hagrid. “Don’ imagine ’em wantin’ ter go away ter
“Ancient forest bowtruckles are keen to keep their trees
healthy, even trees belonging to other guardians. It’s time to take advantage of ancient wisdom.” Rudy concluded.