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A Chizpurfle in a Pine Tree

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** \_/ ** \_/ ** a chizpurfle in a pine tree ** \_/ ** \_/ **

Hagrid looked at the Third Year Gryffindors and Slytherins clustered around him, a wide grin spread across his face -- or what showed of it between his eyebrows and the woolly scarf wrapped around his neck against the December cold. "Got a treat fer yeh today."

Harry, Hermione and Ron exchanged glances. After two and a half years, Hagrid's idea of a treat was rather suspect.

"A treat," Draco sneered. "Is it the kind that will kill us, or only leave us maimed for life?"

Hagrid frowned. "No creature'll hurt yeh if yeh're calm and kind to 'em, Malfoy."

"If I'd been kind to your bloody chicken he'd have eaten my liver," Draco retorted. "So, what is it today? Petting dragons? Riding kelpies?"

"Buckbeak isn't dangerous," Hermione interrupted him. "If you'd just—"

"Oh, do shut up, Granger. Nobody wants to hear your dissertation on magical creature rights," Draco snapped.

Ron stepped forward, fists clenched. "Shut it yourself, Malfoy."

"All ri', all ri', settle down now," Hagrid rumbled. "Yuletide's not the season for this sort o' thing." Ron kept the angry scowl but stepped back to stand beside Harry. "Today we're goin' ter get the Yule Tree for the Great Hall," Hagrid continued, enthusiasm plain in his voice. "Meanin' yeh'll all get a chance to practice yer skills identifyin' creatures in their nat'ral habitats."

Lavender frowned. "Habitats? You mean, like, what lives where?"

"Right," Hagrid said. "We can't take a tree that's bein' used by summat else, so yeh'll have ter inspect each one and see if any creatures are usin' it. An' if there are, yeh'll have ter identify 'em."

"What, like mokes?" said Ron.

"Owls," Harry said, thinking of Hedwig.

"Knarls," said Pansy.

"Nundus!" said Seamus, his eyes shining.

"Those are native to Africa," Hermione pointed out.

"Yep, that's the kind o' thing," Hagrid nodded.

Parvati glanced around at the flat, open field surrounding them. "Er, there aren't any trees here," she pointed out.

"Twenty points to Gryffindor for stating the completely bloody obvious," muttered Draco sarcastically, then mock-cowered as Ron waved a threatening fist. "Oooh, I'm so scared."

Ignoring him, Hagrid gestured towards the gloomy line of trees a few hundred yards away. "Which is why we're goin' in there."

"The Forbidden Forest?" Hermione said, her voice rising to a squeak. She'd been in there once, Harry and Ron twice, and no good had come of any of those times.

"There'll be no trouble while yeh're with me," Hagrid said reassuringly. "Come on now, no time to waste! Perfessor Flitwick's already settin' up the space in the Great Hall." He began to plow through the snow.

"Well, come on," Harry whispered, elbowing Ron. "How much trouble can we get into if we're with him? And no, Hermione, I don't need an actual answer to that." Hermione contented herself with rolling her eyes, and the three of them started after the huge hairy figure.

Ahead of them Hagrid's voice rang out in the wintry stillness. "Let's have a little summat to get in the mood, eh?" He burst into song, only slightly off-key. "On the firs' day of Yule my true love gave to me..."

Dutifully, the rest of the students followed, singing, "...a chizpurfle in a pine treeeee."

** \_/ ** \_/ ** two jobberknolls ** \_/ ** \_/ **

Hagrid trudged up to a twenty-foot fir, its branches level as a plumb-line. "Now, this one here," he said. "Looks great, don't it?"

The students clustered around, blowing on their hands to warm them and looking the tree up and down.

"Nice and full," Seamus said approvingly.

"Yeh, but we can't take it," Hagrid said. "Who can tell me why?"

The students milled about, some peering at the trunk, others staring up into the branches or poking about among the roots where they met the trunk.

"See anything?" Hermione whispered to Harry and Ron.

"Just my fingers turning blue," Ron muttered sourly, tucking his hands into his armpits.

"There's a beetle," Harry offered, pointing at a small blue object tucked between the cracks of the trunk.

"That's a pebble," she said disgustedly. "Honestly, it's the middle of winter, Harry. Beetles aren't going to be crawling about outside this time of year."

Pansy Parkinson shot a sly look at Draco, then reached out a hand and tugged on a low branch, sending a massive pile of snow down the back of Seamus Finnegan's jumper. The Slytherins howled with glee as he spluttered and danced about frantically, trying to shake off the icy pellets but only succeeding in sending them down his trousers.

"Oy, Finnegan!" Goyle called. "You're supposed to keep your arms still when you do a jig, aren't you?"

"I see it!" Millicent shouted excitedly, pointing to a darkish bristly spot about fifteen feet up in the crook of a branch. "It's a nest!"

"Right yeh are! Ten points to Slytherin," Hagrid said. "Now, what kind o' bird?"

"Owl?" Parvati guessed.

"Snidget?"

"Sparrow?"

"Wren?"

"Jobberknoll," Neville said confidently. "You can tell by the shape. There's a nest outside my gran's living room window."

"Ten points to Gryffindor," Hagrid nodded. "All ri', let's move along." He trudged off, forcing his way through the deep snow. "On the fourth day of Yule my true love gave to me, four unicorns, three French imps…"

The students followed in his wake, single file to take advantage of the path he was carving. "…two jobberknolls, and a chizpurfle in a pine tree!"

** \_/ ** \_/ ** three French imps ** \_/ ** \_/ **

"This one'll be a stumper for yeh," Hagrid said with satisfaction as he strode up to a particularly bristly-looking pine. "This'd be perfect, right? Tall, straight, tons o' good places fer hangin' ornaments and plenty o' room underneath for presents."

It really was a stunner: a balsam fir, thirty feet tall, perfectly shaped, and so pungent that even from several feet away the spicy-sweet scent crept into their nostrils. Harry took a deep breath, enjoying the tingling in his nose.

"Now, hunt around and see if yeh can tell me what's usin' this one."

Several minutes went by and no one had found anything. Harry's toes felt like tiny blocks of ice and there was an icicle hanging off the tip of Ron's nose.

"Psst, Hermione," he whispered. "Show me that warming charm again?"

"What about plants?" Neville said, eying a prickly vine that had wrapped itself around the trunk. "Do they count as using the tree?"

"Nope," Hagrid said, then immediately added anxiously, "but don't tell Perfessor Sprout I said that. Point is, this is Care o' Magical Creatures, so we're lookin' for animals an' birds an' such."

Goyle had picked up a stick and was poking around the roots of the tree. "Hey, there's a hole here!" he said excitedly. He pushed the stick in further, then yelped and jumped back as something grabbed it and jerked it out of his hands and down into the ground. A long narrow snout topped with two beady eyes peered out at them.

"Nifflers!" Eloise Midgen said. "There's a niffler lair underneath it!"

"Right yeh are," Hagrid said. "No points fer anyone, though, since yeh didn't find it -- it found you. Come on! One the fifth day o' Yule, my true love gave to me..."

** \_/ ** \_/ ** four unicorns ** \_/ ** \_/ **

They tromped through the knee-deep snow for what seemed like hours but was probably more like twenty minutes. Finally, Hagrid paused to give those trailing behind a chance to catch up. Harry edged around until a stubby tree blocked him from Draco's view, then bent to scoop up some snow and pack it into a ball. Peeking around the tree, he saw that Draco had turned his head to say something to Crabbe, so with a quick motion Harry stepped out from behind the tree and whipped the snowball squarely into Draco's ear.

"Aaaggh...sppllfftt…Potter!" Draco spluttered. "I'll hex you into next week!"

"Nice one, Harry," Ron said, laughing, and then "Owww!" as Pansy smacked him in the back of the head with a hard-packed snowball of her own. After that it was every witch and wizard for themselves, and soon the air was a mass of flying snow and shrieks of ire from all and sundry.

"Here now," Hagrid said, and then six snowballs hit him from six different directions.

Harry caught a mouthful of snow mixed with pine needles, making him spit bits of resin. Blaise Zabini whacked Lavender Brown with a double, one snowball from each hand splatting on her stomach, and was immediately tackled by Neville and Dean Thomas who started shoving snow down his trousers. Somebody tripped Hermione and she went down face-first into a snowdrift; when she scrambled to her feet, her eyebrows were packed with white fluff.

Parvati took one look at her and dissolved into helpless giggles, pointing. "You look... like... Dumbledore!!" she managed to gasp before losing it completely.

By now the original anger had magically transformed into hilarity. Everyone was laughing so hard they could barely stand up, Slytherin and Gryffindor alike, and their merriment echoed through the icy air. The Forbidden Forest seemed to shrink back, as if it had never encountered such a thing in all its life and wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

Finally, as everyone slowly grew limp from exertion and laughter, the snowballs ceased flying and the hysterical glee tapered off to an occasional stifled snort. Hagrid, who had enjoyed it as much as any of them, let out a sigh that actually ruffled the branches on the tree beside him. "All ri'. Now that yeh're all warmed up a bit, let's get back to the search. We still got a tree to find."

And off he went.

** \_/ ** \_/ ** five Golden Snitches ** \_/ ** \_/ **

An hour later they had inspected six more trees and identified their various denizens, from a clutch of clabberts (one of which bit Pansy on the nose, to Hermione's great but secret satisfaction) to a pair of immature erklings, who threatened them with tiny forks. The warmth generated by their snowball fight had worn off, and several of the Slytherins had forgotten their dislike of Gryffindors long enough to ask Hermione to demonstrate her warming charm. Even Hagrid was starting to look a bit tired, and Harry wondered if in fact he knew where a suitable tree was, or was just hoping to stumble onto one.

"At this point I'd take a bloody twig," Ron said, waving his hands about.

"Hey, why don't we do that?" Harry said. "We could use Engorgio on it and make it as big as we want!"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "A Yule tree has to be harvested or given as a gift," she said. "You can't just magic one up. It--"

Suddenly the muffled sound of galloping hooves reached their ears and Hagrid waved them to a stop. "Easy, now. Don't say nothin'. Let me do the talkin'."

The hoofbeats slowed, and through the trees trotted a large chestnut centaur with a black tail and rough black hair falling to his shoulders. Despite the bitter cold he was bare-chested, wearing only a shaggy vest, and his eyes were deep-set and angry. Harry, Ron and Hermione glanced at each other uneasily. Centaurs were unpredictable at the best of times, and although one of them -- Firenze -- had helped Harry escape from Voldemort the year before, the herd had been furious with him. Who knew what they would think about an entire double class of Hogwarts students traipsing through their domain?

"Who are you, and why are you here?" the centaur demanded, crossing his arms and raising his head arrogantly.

Hagrid cleared his throat. "Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper o' Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts," he said. "We're here to get a Yule tree for the Great Hall up t'the Castle. One that's not already bein' used, o' course," he added hastily. "Just a reg'lar tree that nobody'll miss."

"A tree that no one will miss." The centaur eyed them in silence for a moment, then a grim smile crossed his face. "I think I can help you, Rubeus Hagrid."

** \_/ ** \_/ ** six Nifflers niffling ** \_/ ** \_/ **

The centaur led them rapidly through the Forbidden Forest, weaving in and out of the tree trunks in a manner that seemed impossibly graceful for such a big creature. They had to jog to keep up, their breath pluming in the cold; this at least kept them warm, but they were all feeling the strain when the centaur at last led them into a wide clearing with a huge tree in the exact center. A wide swath of pure white snow stretched between the tree and the rest of the forest, unbroken even by the prints of a squirrel.

"Wicked," Blaise Zabini said in awe, voicing what the others were feeling. They all stared. The tree was massive, forty feet tall, its trunk nearly as thick around as Hagrid's thigh. It was the epitome of a Yule tree, perfectly shaped, evenly-spaced branches thickly covered with fragrant, deep-green needles.

Hagrid grinned. "Perfect!" he said enthusiastically. "Never seen a better. And yeh say we'll not be disturbin' anythin' by takin' it?"

"It hosts no birds," the centaur said. "And you can see for yourselves that no creature has approached this tree since the snow fell ten days ago."

Hermione looked around uneasily. "Hagrid, this tree looks kind of, I don't know, important," she whispered. "The way it's right in the center of this clearing. Don't you think--"

The centaur stomped a front hoof and swished his tail restlessly. "Who knows the trees of the Forest better than someone who lives among them day after day, year after year? I tell you, you may take this tree."

"Right!" Hagrid unslung the enormous axe he had carried on his back and swung it experimentally once or twice. "Shouldn't take more'n a few whacks."

The students remained clustered at the edge of the clearing as Hagrid stepped forward to stand beside the trunk. Hermione bit her lip nervously and Ron patted her arm. "Don't worry," he said. "Hagrid knows what he's doing."

She shook her head. "I have a bad feeling about this."

They watched as Hagrid whirled the enormous axe above his head, reminded once again that he was a half-giant, and then the blade bit deep into the trunk with a solid thunk.

An ear-piercing shriek knifed through their ears, drilling into their heads like an icepick, and the tree's branches began to thrash in agony. Hagrid dropped the axe and stepped back, clapping his hands over his ears, as a grey cloud issued from the gash in the trunk.

The mist coalesced into the shape of a slender green-tinted woman, her hair the same deep green as the pine needles, her face twisted in anger or pain. From her wide-open mouth issued the sound that seemed to fill the sky, almost but not quite beyond the range of hearing.

"What the bloody hell is that?" Ron shouted, hands pressed to his ears.

"It's a dryad," Hermione shouted back. "That must be her tree! I knew something wasn't right about this!"

The wild cry of pain suddenly ceased. The silence was deafening. No one moved as the dryad stepped lightly towards Hagrid, her bare feet leaving no imprint in the snow, her eyes fixed on the half-giant. "By striking my tree you have wounded me and destroyed my home," she said, her voice light and whispery as leaves rustling in the wind. Hagrid opened his mouth to speak, but with an abrupt gesture she silenced him. "I curse you to the same that you have given me." Her arms moved in a complicated gesture, raising a wind that whipped the snow around Hagrid into a tornado, and when it subsided, both he and the dryad were gone.

** \_/ ** \_/ ** seven kelpies swimming ** \_/ ** \_/ **

"But that's not fair!" Hermione burst out after a moment of stunned silence. She turned on the centaur. "Hagrid wouldn't have touched that tree if you hadn't told him to! You must have known--"

He gave a harsh neigh of laughter. "Oh yes, I know the dryad well." He gave them a mock bow. "When -- or should I say if -- you get your friend back, please give him my thanks for being the unwitting instrument of my revenge upon her!" He whirled on his hind legs and with a swish of his tail galloped off.

They stared after him. The afternoon was fading and the Forbidden Forest suddenly seemed even darker and more forbidding than before. Hagrid's absence felt somehow larger than his presence had been.

"I think we ought to go home," Parvati said, her voice shaking a little.

"Awwwww," Draco mocked. "Is the wittle Gwyffindor fwightened?" A long howl drifted down the wind and he flinched, his pale face going even paler. "Of course it is nearly time for dinner, and I'd hate to miss it, so maybe we should just move along..."

"But how do we find our way out?" Pansy said uncertainly. "We can't follow our own footsteps, we wound around too much and there's too many other tracks."

"I've been experimenting with something," Hermione said hesitantly. "It's just in the testing phase, and I'm not sure it'll work..."

Ron tugged his hat further down over his ears until the fuzzy red wool merged with his eyebrows. "Oh, go on, Hermione. If you invented it, I'm sure it's brilliant."

Hermione's cheeks went pink. "Thank you, Ronald." She held out her hand and laid her wand flat across her palm. "Point Me," she said clearly.

The wand quivered for a moment, rotated slowly, then stopped, pointing ahead and slightly to the right. Hermione turned until she was facing the same direction. "So, this is north." She pointed off to her left. "And we need to go that way. West."

"But we still need a tree," Neville objected. "We can't go back without a tree. The Yule tree has to go up tonight, otherwise it won't be up for the right number of days, and everyone knows it's bad luck to put it up too early or too late."

Blaise Zabini stared at him. "Are you crazy, Longbottom? It's getting dark, we're in the Forbidden Forest alone, and you want to go tree-hunting?"

"He's right, mate," Ron said in a low voice. "I mean, if we pass a nice one we can take a shot at it, but we ought to get out of here. Don't forget," his eyes shifted back and forth warily, "the spiders."

Lavender shivered. "I hate spiders. Can we please just go? Besides, we've got to get back and tell Dumbledore what happened."

** \_/ ** \_/ ** eight dragons hoarding ** \_/ ** \_/ **

The small group of students struggled slowly through the knee-deep snow in a westerly direction, stopping occasionally so Hermione could re-cast the spell and double check their progress. At last, just as the shadows were starting to look seriously menacing and they could no longer pretend it was still afternoon, they straggled out of the fringes of the Forest almost exactly where they had entered it with Hagrid hours before.

Harry stopped, frowning. "There's the castle," he pointed. "But shouldn't we be able to see Hagrid's hut?"

The rest of them looked around in puzzlement. Sure enough, there was no sign of the ramshackle wooden cabin.

"It's got to be here somewhere," Dean Thomas said reasonably. "Buildings don't just vanish."

They left the shadows of the trees and headed across the wide, steep meadow that sloped up towards the gates of Hogwarts, glancing left and right as they approached where they knew the hut ought to be. A low stone wall barred their way and they clambered over it.

Suddenly Hermione stumbled over something half-buried in snow. She peered at whatever had tripped her, then gasped. "Harry! Ron! Look!" She gestured around them. "This stone wall, the garden with the leftover pumpkins and winter squash? This...this is Hagrid's garden!"

"So where's his hut, then?"

"And what's that giant tree doing in the middle of it?" Millicent Bulstrode said.

Sure enough, an enormous fir was standing straight up in the center of what they could all now see was Hagrid's snow-covered garden. Although by its size it looked as though it had been there for decades, it certainly hadn't been there earlier that day when they'd met for the beginning of their lesson.

Its branches were thickly needled but somewhat uneven, giving it a shaggy, hairy look. It wasn't nearly as beautiful or perfectly shaped as many of the trees they had passed earlier, but there was something appealing about it.

"Perfect!" Harry said. "Let's take it."

"What?"

"For the Yule tree. Let's take this one."

Hermione shook her head. "Harry, this wasn't even here earlier. There has to be something magical about it. Or weird. Or evil. I don't think we should take something like this into the Castle."

"Oh come on, Hermione. After all, Hagrid was taking us to find a tree, so finding the perfect one right here in his garden, well, it's like we were meant to have it."

"But what if--"

"We can have Dumbledore check it out before we take it in," Ron pointed out.

"And like I said, we do have to have the tree today," Neville argued.

She sighed. "Well, all right. I suppose since it wasn't here earlier there can't be anything living in it yet."

"And how do you propose to chop it down, Granger?" Draco mocked. "Going to gnaw it down with those teeth of yours?"

Hermione, who had been tapping her wand on her front teeth as she thought, stopped abruptly and went pink.

"Too bad we don't know some sort of cutting or slicing spell," Harry said. "That'd come in handy."

"What about Hagrid's axe?" Pansy said. "I mean, if you did a Wingardium on it to make it lightweight, we could all take turns."

Hermione smiled. "Brilliant, Pansy! Who wants to go first?"

** \_/ ** \_/ ** nine Veelas dancing ** \_/ ** \_/ **

Moving the enormous tree was like steering a river barge. Even weightless under the influence of Levicorpus, it still had mass which meant it took a lot of effort to start, steer or stop it. After a few false starts (though Ron's ramming it into Goyle might not have been completely accidental) they managed to guide it up the hill.

Dumbledore was waiting for them at the Castle gates. Before he could say anything, ask any questions, everyone began talking at once, their voices tumbling over each other as they tried to explain what had happened.

"...we walked for ages..."

"...there was this centaur..."

"...and the dryad..."

"...then she..."

"...and we don't know where he is!"

"But we did get a tree," said Neville.

"Only Hermione thought you ought to look at it before we took it in," said Harry. "You know, just in case."

Dumbledore listened in silence until they ran out of words, then he nodded. "I see." He looked the tree over carefully, walking slowly down one side and up the other. He raised his wand and murmured something, then waved it over the tree which was briefly enveloped in a golden glow.

"Her exact words were, I curse you to the same that you have given me?" he queried.

Hermione, Lavender and Eloise nodded.

"And Hagrid's hut's gone, we were just there and it isn't," Seamus added, somewhat confusedly.

Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, that sounds about right." He turned and began to walk into the Castle.

The Slytherins snickered while the Gryffindors exchanged confused glances. "But sir," Hermione said, "What about Hagrid?"

"I'm sure things will work out," Dumbledore said cheerfully. "Come now, bring the tree. Professor Flitwick has been anxiously awaiting it and I'm sure will be pleased by your choice."

** \_/ ** \_/ ** ten plimpies gulping** \_/ ** \_/ **

They carefully guided the huge tree into the Great Hall and down to the far end where Professor Flitwick had set up the stand: an enormous cauldron containing a solid block of oak with a spike protruding from its center.

"Lovely!" he squeaked when he saw them. "Absolutely lovely! So thick and full, it's almost furry!" With a few practiced motions of his wand he rotated the tree and then lowered it onto the spike, fixing it in place on the block. Its tip very nearly brushed the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall, which was showing a pitch-black sky speckled with ice-chip stars. "Perfect," Flitwick said, and then "Aguamenti." Water poured from the tip of his wand into the cauldron until the cut end of the tree was fully submerged.

"Now," he said to the watching students. "Since you were good enough to fetch us the tree, you may help decorate it."

Lined up along the wall were boxes, bags and crates overflowing with ornaments: tinsel and mistletoe, tiny wands with red and green ribbons trailing from them, kneazles and thestrals and dragons shaped out of blown glass, gilded nuts and tiny twigs of holly, sparkling spheres in every colour, size and pattern.

"Wicked!" Ron said admiringly.

All of them were experts at WIngardium Leviosa by now, so floating decorations even to the topmost branches was no trouble at all. Professor Flitwick circled the tree as they worked, hands clasped behind his back, watching their progress and offering suggestions: pointing out areas that needed a bit more tinsel, or locating an especially stout twig for a particularly heavy ornament. In short order the tree was a glorious thing, its green branches nearly invisible beneath the weight of silver and gold, red and green, blue and bronze, and every color in between. The light of the Hall's hundreds of floating candles flickered and sparkled from it as though it were covered in fireflies.

"What do you s'pose will go there?" Harry whispered to Hermione, nodding at the tip of the topmost branch, the only bare spot remaining on the entire tree.

"I don't know," she whispered back. "My family always put a star there."

"The Dursleys used to do an angel made to look like Dudley." Hermione made a face, and Harry grinned. "Exactly."

Professor Flitwick turned to Dumbledore, who was seated at the Head Table with Professor McGonagall and a few other Hogwarts staff who had gathered to watch the tree-decorating. "Would you like to do the honors, Headmaster?"

"Gladly," Dumbledore said. He rose from the table and took something from his pocket that flashed and glittered bright gold. "Summam in lignum," he said, and tossed the thing high in the air. Just as it reached the top of its arc, it opened a pair of shining wings and they could all see what it was: a clockwork phoenix. It gave a bell-like cry, swooped around the tree three times, and then settled on the topmost branch with its head raised proudly.

Lavender sighed contentedly. "Oh, it's perfect," she said.

They all gazed happily at it for a moment. Then Ron frowned. "Why's it shaking?" he said, just as they all heard the tinkle of something falling and shattering on the stone floor.

"Oh dear, oh dear," Flitwick said worriedly. "Headmaster, are you quite sure--"

And then suddenly there was a sound like an explosion as the world's most enormous sneeze erupted from the center of the shining mass. Tinsel and holly and nuts flew in every direction, the air was filled with twigs and pine needles and flying ornaments, and when the dust cleared the tree was gone and there was Hagrid sitting in two feet of water in the cauldron, the clockwork phoenix peacefully nesting in his hair.

"Well, now, that was an int'restin' experience," he said, then looked down. "Good thing I landed next to the spike."

** \_/ ** \_/ ** eleven Cornish pixies ** \_/ ** \_/ **

"Do you think the dryad meant for you to stay a tree forever?" Hermione asked. She and Ron and Harry were visiting Hagrid two days later; he had invited them to tea so he could show them his newly rebuilt hut.

"Nah," Hagrid said, putting a pot of tea and a plate of biscuits on the table. "Dryads, they're not vengeful folk. She was jus' upset. An' now she knows it was that centaur's fault, she's not mad at me." He laughed. "I'd hate to be him, though. Got a feelin' a lot o' branches are goin' to be whackin' him in the face from now on."

Harry took one of the biscuits and nibbled it gingerly, then hastily put it down. "How do you know she's not mad at you?"

"She told me so." Hagrid threw a log on the fire, then sat down in his enormous chair, which creaked protestingly. "Nice girl, she is. Name's Phoebe. Good comp'ny, though she don't like to come in when I've got a fire goin', o' course. She's livin' in a nice tree I pointed out to her, a Scots pine just up the way a bit."

"What was it like, being a tree?" Ron asked. "Was it boring? Or was it like being asleep?"

Hagrid stirred his tea thoughtfully. "Quiet," he said after a moment. "But there's a kind o' hummin' that goes on in the ground, real low, almost like yeh feel it instead o' hearin' it. An' peaceful."

"But didn't it hurt when we chopped you down?" Hermione said. She'd been worrying about this for the past two days.

"Trimmed me toenails a bit an' it stung like a Skrewt bite, that's all," he said. "But I've got a nasty cold from havin' me feet stuck in icewater for two hours in the Great Hall." Then he grinned. "No question, though, that was the mos' beau'iful I've ever been!"

On the twelfth day of Yule,
my true love gave to me:
twelve wands a-waving,
eleven Cornish pixies,
ten plimpies gulping,
nine Veelas dancing,
eight dragons hoarding,
seven kelpies swimming,
six nifflers niffling,
five Golden Snitches,
four unicorns,
three French imps,
two jobberknolls,
and a chizpurfle in a pine tree!