Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback

chapter fourteen of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

As spring approaches, the trio discovers that Hagrid has a dragon’s egg – and soon thereafter, a baby dragon. They convince him to let them ship it to Romania and manage to do so without his being caught, but Harry and Hermione then forget the Invisibility Cloak and get caught out of bed themselves.

Quirrell, by Laura Freeman

Quirrell, however, must have been braver than they’d thought. In the weeks that followed he did seem to be getting paler and thinner, but it didn’t look as though he’d cracked yet.


by Amanda Grazini

They all drew their chairs up to the table and watched with bated breath.


Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback, by Keith James

“Bless him, look, he knows his mommy!”


Norbert, by Edgar Torné

It had grown three times in length in just a week.


Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback, by NicoPony

How they managed to get the crate back up to the castle, they never knew. Midnight ticked nearer as they heaved Norbert up the marble staircase in the entrance hall and along the dark corridors. Up another staircase, then another….


about the chapter


Something You May Not Have Noticed

I find it sort of funny that Ron – shortly after complaining that he could never remember the massive amount of information assigned to him – can easily recite the fact that dragon breeding was outlawed at the Warlocks’ Convention of 1709. There aren’t many laws for which I can recite their origins off the top of my head, and of those I can, they’re certainly all more applicable to my life than a law forbidding something I’d never do anyway (and even then I probably didn’t know them when I was eleven). So where does he come up with it? My guess is that this convention showed up somewhere in his History of Magic notes – and he’s showing off for Hermione that he’s remembered. Maybe he doesn’t need her obsessive color-coded study schedules after all.

The Wizarding World

As the years pass and the Wizarding World gets more dangerous, security at Hogwarts will be stepped up to incredible levels. But it’s apparent that it isn’t exactly starting out a fortress – they leave the doors unlocked at night! With hundreds of sleeping children inside! Harry and Hermione sneak through the front doors with Norbert, and then Charlie’s friends fly in undetected and land on top of the Astronomy Tower, where a few minutes before another unlocked door allowed Harry and Hermione to come out. Sheesh. It’s a good thing wizarding psychopathic killers only seem to come around once a generation or so.

Life at Hogwarts

I have to wonder how frequently Madame Pince shares library-related information with Dumbledore. Quite apart from the alarmingly loud conversations Harry, Ron, and Hermione have in the library on a fairly regular basis, here we see Hagrid taking out a book on dragon breeding. Pince is a strict authoritarian, and doesn’t seem to care whether people like her much, or for that matter care whether they’re getting the information they need in her library. Wouldn’t it seem in character for her to mention the book Hagrid borrowed to Dumbledore?

Another adult with a similar dilemma is Madame Pomfrey, who is treating Ron for a bite that she can probably be pretty confident didn’t come from a dog (and let’s say it did… where did Ron get a dog??). Again, why not report it? In Pomfrey’s case, though, she obviously cares deeply about her patients, and wouldn’t want to earn a reputation as someone who rats them out, since she knows full well that this would prevent students who need treatment from seeking it. The students’ secrets are probably safe with her. I bet she tells some pretty good stories in the staffroom, though.

34 Responses to “Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback”

  1. wow the invisibility cloak, looks amazing in NicoPony’s drawing!

  2. In reply to “Something You May Not Have Noticed”- Ron does have a brother in the dragon business, so I’d say he might know more about dragons than the average Hogwarts student, so perhaps that’s where he got that tidbit to share?

  3. It would be sensible for Madam Pomfrey to have a policy of not telling on students with odd injuries. Otherwise, the danger would be that students who had gotten themselves into a real pickle would either not go to her for help, or try to undo the problem on their own, getting themselves into an even worse situation.

  4. Re: Which reminds me of when the Pollyjuice Potion went wrong for Hermione. I mean, if someone appears to look like a cat, you know they’ve been doing some serious magic somewhere (*at least* sixth year potions or charms). Poor lady, having to deal with all those secrets.

  5. I agree with Chloe that Ron might have known this from Charlie. Charlie probably had dragon posters and leaflets and books everywhere. I can see him walking round the burrow reciting dragon-y facts before he starts his new job!

  6. I find the fact that Charlie’s mates flew in undetected a little funny. Hermione, ever exasperated, frequently references ‘Hogwarts, a History’ as stating that Hogwarts is well protected and you can just Apparate or fly in – so it stands to reason that the protective spells have been in place for a long time. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Charlie’s mates simply happened to be able to fly in. Either, this is another one of those moments that doesn’t quite match up to canon – which JKR does occasionally, especially in the early books and we’ll just have to forgive her and more on OR Dumbledore, the omniscient figure he seems to be, knew what was going on and let down the defences, long enough for the dragon transporters to get in and out. I like the second theory a lot more personally.

  7. @Amy: I thought that was a little odd too, but I agree with your Dumbledore theory, it seems like the sort of thing he would do :D

  8. RE: “Something You May Not Have Noticed.” Ron probbaly remembered the fact because it’s a sexy fact. Subcommitees of Sardinian wizards may fly out of his skull, but dragon breeding? WOW!

  9. For the longest we thought Irma Pince was an anagram for ‘I’m a Prince’, so we thought she was Snape’s mother…ah well, it was as good a guess as any then :)

    I really think Dumbledore must have let down the defenses for Charlie’s friends also. He has always turned a blind eye towards Hagrid’s monster fixation.

  10. I agree with the Dumbledore theory. In fact, I think Madam Prince does tell Dumbledore about it, but he seems to have other idea of the education the students must have. He is not a fan of punishment.

  11. I think the reason Ron remembered that little fact may have been because his cool older brother, Charlie, who he probably looks up to a lot, told him. Or he remembers because Hermione told him. Or maybe it’s just common knowledge to wizards? Also, Ron apparently does remember little facts. The 5 excemptions to Gamp’s Elemental Law of Transfiguration, anyone?

  12. Regarding the dog bite, what about Fang?

  13. The first time I read Philosopher’s Stone, I was so worried about Harry’s Invisibility Cloak being left forgotten in the tallest tower. The cloak is such an incredible magical object, there’s a sentimental attachment to it for Harry… and would he ever get it back?

    If we agree that it is Dumbledore who who returns the cloak to Harry in the next chapter, I think this is a big clue that the headmaster knew exactly what was going on in the tallest tower that night. And perhaps this explains why the whole Norbert mission went so smoothly for Harry, Hermione and Charlie’s friends… that is of course until the children forget to donn the Invisibility Cloak for the trip back down the stairs.

  14. I also like how Harry is looking up “Dittany” in One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi while working in the library, as this substance is important in the seventh book.

  15. @berlin

    While that’s plausible, I don’t think she would have bought that anyway. Since, Fang is so nice and I don’t remember ever biting anyone.

  16. @ Phoebe, you’re right. Fang is a sweet dog, but we learn from Hagrid in the next chapter that he’s also a bit of a coward. Even if someone was threatening him, he would most likely choose to run away rather than bite them.

  17. I love your artwork Keith James. Hagrid’s expression is just priceless, and exactly as I imagine it would be in that scene.

  18. I’m pretty sure heaps of stuff get reported to Dumbledore, including weird check-outs from the library and improbable injuries that Pomfrey treats. Pomfrey probably reports to the Heads of the injured’s House.
    They’re educators though and the general policy is probably something like “unless I find you actually doing something illegal, I’ll let you live your boarding school experience and keep watching from afar”.

    The Trio is most certainly not the only group of prople doing funky stuff around the school at weird times and although Dumbledore keeps a special eye on them, I’m sure he knows far more about all the other students than they suspect (eg. The twins).

  19. It makes sense that DD knew about the dragon, but he certainly didn’t share this information with McGonagall. Losing all those points seems really severe, and kind of unfair (of course, DD gives them back at the end-of-year feast) but still, they were just trying to help Hagrid.

  20. On Ron’s dragon fact knowledge, I’d add that it would seem reasonable, with the other brothers Ron has, that there would have been a lot of bugging of Charlie to get them a dragon egg, or smuggle them a young dragon for a pet. And a lot of lecturing by Molly about the legality/advisability of that! Plus Charlie just shutting them down with “no way am I gonna do something that illegal, do you realize what it would mean for my career/life? It’s been outlawed since that Warlock’s Convention in 1709!”

  21. I just realized something after reading the book for the umpteenth time. It states in this chapter that they turn over Norbert to Charlie’s friends at midnight Wednesday. But in chapter eight it says they have astronomy classes at this time. So, they are skipping class! And what about the chances that Charlie’s friends would be spotted by the students on top of the Astronomy Tower, stusying the night skies?

  22. The Astronomy thing always struck me as one of the weirder parts of the series. You’d think it’d be interesting enough to be shown at least once, but it isn’t, and Sinistra isn’t described at all. In all the books, references to Astronomy and Professor Sinistra are thrown in, but it’s like, for all intents and purposes, JKR just forgot about it.

  23. I would say it would not be unusual for Hagrid to take out a book on dragon breeding…he’s probably taken out stranger books about stranger creatures, given that that is his specialty.

  24. Madam Pomfrey being a healer of sorts is probably bound by the magical equivalent of the “Doctor-Patient confidentiality” thing.

    I mean a doctor is not going to ask you how you got injured, nor report it to anyone, they just fix you up. Unless you seem to have been injured from breaking the law

    School rules =/= Laws

  25. When Harry and Hermione set Norbert free, the day they do it on is a Saturday. As we know throughout the books, the students do not have classes on the weekends, just like public and private schools around the world. Unless the fact this happened at “midnight on Saturday” meant that it was really Friday night, going into Saturday, I see no reason why a class would be going on at this time. Of course, JKR always had a problem with numbers and has made minor slip-ups throughout the book. I think when she said “midnight on Saturday” she may have actually meant “midnight on Sunday”. But we’ll never know, I suppose!

    And I agree, I think Ron probably just heard the dragon fact from Charlie, seeing as how that’s his profession. And like Jean said, they probably were all about trying to get Charlie to smuggle them a dragon until he, or one of their parents or older siblings, such as Bill, told them it would be impossible due to the law that was drawn up at the Warlocks’ Convention. I don’t think this part has anything to do with trying to woo Hermione or something. It is clear that the Gamp’s 5 Elemental Laws of Transfiguration were memorized to woo her in the seventh book, as she was the one that gave him the information previously.

    I also agree with LongLostWeasley, that Madam Pomfrey would be bound by student-healer confidentiality at Hogwarts. However, since when has a thing like that ever stopped Dumbledore from finding out what’s going on at Hogwarts? I’m pretty sure he knows everything that goes on throughout the books, save life endangering stuff, such as “Professor Moody” in GoF. For Dumbledore, it’s his castle, being the Headmaster. He has the ability to put up and pull down defenses, and even apparate out of Hogwarts on command. He just doesn’t abuse the power. He knows what’s going on, but let’s it be worked out in its own way, unless he needs to physically step in and alter events by protecting a student or a teacher from either expulsion or danger (i.e. Trelawney’s sacking in OotP or any time he’s ever defended a student with his power. Whether he’s defending their being at the school or from physical harm itself).

  26. Ron could have known from Charlie…

  27. They turn Norbert to Charlie’s friends on a Saturday, but the night where they stay up until midnight when Ron is feeding Norbert and gets bitten is a Wednesday. Maybe Astronomy isn’t every Wednesday?

    Something that always bothered me…why did they have to give Norbert up on the tallest tower? Why couldn’t Charlie’s friends fly to Hagrid’s hut? I’m sure Dumbledore would have been content to secretly allow either way, and they wouldn’t have to smuggle the dragon up the tower, they’d just have to worry about getting themselves back to the dormitories.

  28. I always wondered about the security of the castle. Thanks to the other Amy for pointing out that Dumbledore was probably behind it. It makes a lot of sense.

  29. Why did Hermione even think that Charlie’s friends could fly onto the Hogwarts grounds? Isn’t she always going on about how protected the castle is?

  30. Thumbs up to Andrea’s comment. Dumbledore returning the Invisibility Cloak to Harry later on is the proof that he knows exactly what is going on that Saturday night. You’d think he might even be there on that tower in his invisible state, seeing Harry and Hermione send off Norbert, and he could have just picked up the Invisibility Cloak after the two kids left it. But then, I wonder… if he really was there in his invisible self, couldn’t he have saved the two kids from the punishment waiting for them by making some sort of excuse to Filch?

  31. I find it peculiar that Hagrid uses ‘mommy’ in the American editions of the books; I realise that the common different spellings are altered between the British and American publications and it doesn’t seem out of place in other characters’ mouths but when Hagrid’s speech is littered with ‘yeh’s and the like, it seems odd that he should use ‘mommy’, which indicates to me an altogether different pronunciation than he would use.

  32. i think Ron knew about the law as his brother,Charlie, works in Romania with/for Dragons

  33. My fanwank always was that the Weasley’s are related to the McFusty clan, who takes care of the dragons on the hebridan island. Perhaps they even visited when Ron was younger. Charlie might have been inspired by this visit, and Ron might have picked up the laws about dragons.

    Total conjuncture, naturally, but there aren’t that many purblood wizards left, and considering the numbers of Weasley’s, Ron is most likely related to all of them. So why not the McFusty, too?

  34. Ron knew the law cos of Charlie. Pomphrey would be bound by patient confidentiality, but yes, with names and identifying info removed, some stories would be interesting! I’d love to see a day in the staffroom over the years……

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