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The next morning, Hermione troops down to Hagrid's cottage to try and discuss his lessons with him again.
But Hagrid isn't even there, and then he won't listen to reason.
So, Harry goes to Care of Magical Creatures class worried about what will happen.
But Professor Umbridge isn't there.
Even so, Hagrid looks ghastly: "the bruises that had been purple on Saturday night were now tinged with green and yellow and some of his cuts still seemed to be bleeding" (21.12).
Hagrid leads the class into the Forbidden Forest to observe the subject of today's lesson in their natural habitat.
Hagrid lets out an odd whistle and dumps a shank of meat on the ground.
Soon, they start appearing: the skeletal, black, winged horse things he's started seeing.
Most of the people in the class still can't see them.
Hagrid asks the people who can see them to put their hands up.
Draco says snidely, "Excuse me [...] but what exactly are we supposed to be seeing?" (21.32).
Hagrid points at the meat on the ground.
Something is clearly eating it, even if most of the class can't see what it is.
Finally, the mystery is revealed: they are Thestrals. Only people who have seen death can see Thestrals.
At this moment, Professor Umbridge appears.
She starts talking to Hagrid as though he is an idiot who can't understand what she is saying.
Professor Umbridge asks if Hagrid knows that Thestrals have been classified by the Ministry as dangerous.
Hagrid laughs this off, but Professor Umbridge writes in her notes, "Shows ... signs ... of ... pleasure ... at ...idea ... of ... violence" (21.60).
Needless to say, the inspection does not go well.
Christmas holidays are coming up. Ron tells Harry that Mrs. Weasley has invited him to visit during the break.
Harry is thrilled, and wonders if he could possibly invite Sirius to get him out of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.
At the last DA meeting before the holidays, Angelina tells Harry that they have a new Seeker: Ginny Weasley.
She's not as good as Harry, but she's still pretty good.
All of the DA members have improved tons, but specially Neville Longbottom.
Harry encourages them: "You're getting really good [...] When we get back from the holidays we can start doing some of the big stuff – maybe even Patronuses" (21.121).
Cho Chang hangs back after the lesson.
Harry pretends to be straightening the cushions to give her time to talk.
But when he turns around, he sees that Cho is crying silently.
She apologizes and explains: "learning all this stuff ... it just makes me ... wonder whether ... if he'd known it all ... he's still be alive" (21.130). So she's talking about Cedric Diggory.
Cho compliments Harry on being a good teacher.
They're standing under the mistletoe.
Cho murmurs, "I really like you, Harry" (21.149).
Half an hour later, Harry gets back to the Gryffindor dorms "in a state of shock" (21.154).
Hermione guesses that Harry and Cho have kissed.
That's true – but she was also still crying.
Hermione reassures Harry that Cho wasn't crying because Harry is bad at kissing.
It's because she's filled with so many feelings: she's sad that Cedric is dead, confused that now she likes Harry, and worried that she's going to get kicked off the Ravenclaw Quidditch team for the bad flying she’s done recently.
Hermione asks if Harry is going to ask Cho out again.
But now Harry is confused. He still likes Cho, but the kiss was not all he'd imagined: "whenever he had imagined a scene involving the two of them it had always featured a Cho who was enjoying herself, as opposed to a Cho who was sobbing uncontrollably into his shoulder" (21.201).
For her part, Hermione is writing a long letter to Viktor Krum, the international Quidditch star who asked her out in Book Four.
They go to bed, and Harry drops off to sleep.
He dreams that he is in a snake's body.
He slithers up to a man, rears up and bites him hard in the chest.
His bites break the man's ribs.
There is blood everywhere.
Harry's forehead is aching horribly.
The boys in his dormitory are trying desperately to shake Harry awake.
The pain in Harry's head is so bad that he rolls over and throws up.
Harry tells Ron what he saw in his dream: Mr. Weasley has been attacked. He needs help right away because he is bleeding badly.
Ron thinks Harry was just dreaming, but Harry is clearly really sick.
Neville runs to Professor McGonagall for help.
She arrives, and Harry tells her, "It's Ron's dad [...] He's been attacked by a snake and it's serious, I saw it happen" (21.246).
Professor McGonagall takes Harry to see Dumbledore.