by Mats Furuli
Rubeus Hagrid is a competent wizard. And Dumbledore trained him.
Yes. That is actually my thesis statement.
I’m going to start with the obvious here: why the fuck would Dumbledore do that? That is a very valid question. Hagrid would probably not be most people’s first option for someone to take on as a student. Hagrid is, in the words of Stephen Whitty, “stupid as a bag of hammers and twice as loud.” This was technically a statement made about the 2015 movie Hardcore Henry in his review for the New York Daily News, but I think this applies quite well: Rubeus Hagrid would most likely get a negative score on an IQ test, and would be less helpful on a stealth mission than I would.
Then why? Well, I can think of at least one reason Dumbledore may have had to privately teach Hagrid magic.
Let’s have a look at the physical aspects of Hagrid’s character. According to the Harry Potter Wiki, Hagrid is 11’6” tall and weighs 289 pounds. This would give him a significant size advantage over any regular-sized person. He is also incredibly strong, as we get to witness first-hand in Chamber of Secrets where we see him single-handedly break up the Duel of the Daddies in Flourish and Blotts. He is also strong (and brave) enough to handle a giant three-headed dog, an acromantula, an actual giant, a dragon, and those cursed Blast-Ended Skrewts. We get another example of Hagrid’s incredible physicality in chapter 31 of Order of the Phoenix (“O.W.L.s”), where Hagrid resists at least SIX Stunning spells, no problem:
"Hagrid’s door had burst open and by the light flooding out of the cabin they saw him quite clearly, a massive figure roaring and brandishing his fists, surrounded by six people, all of whom, judging by the tiny threads of red lights they were casting in his direction, seemed to be attempting to Stun him."
To put this into context: in chapter 19 of Goblet of Fire (“The Hungarian Horntail”), we see that it takes seven or eight Stunning spells to knock out a DRAGON. I swear, if Hagrid were a Dungeons and Dragons character, his armor class probably would have been about 50.
Add to this a decent level of magical ability, and you have a pretty formidable foe.
On to some actual proof:
Despite getting expelled from Hogwarts in his third year, we see Hagrid perform some fairly advanced magic over the course of the seven books. For example:
In Half-Blood Prince, as Harry is chasing Snape after he kills Dumbledore, we see that a Death Eater sets Hagrid’s hut on fire. We see Hagrid, with help from Harry, extinguish the flames using Aguamenti. Aguamenti is an N.E.W.T. level spell not taught to students until the sixth year. Would be a rather useful spell to know before your late teens, though, but whatever.
In the Sorcerer’s Stone, specifically when he’s picking up Harry from the Dursleys, we see Hagrid perform several feats of magic, most of which are quite advanced for someone supposedly with only around three years worth of spell knowledge:
We don’t really know how he got to the island where Harry and the Dursleys stayed, but it is possible that there was some magic involved. Even still, we don’t know if the magic in question was performed by Hagrid himself, or Dumbledore. But, on the way back from the island, Hagrid uses magic to make the boat move faster.
He successfully starts a fire when he is in the cabin on the island. The incendio spell is admittedly a first year spell, though. However, what we sure as shit know is not magic taught to first year students, is human transfiguration. This is said to be the most complex and difficult form of transfiguration, and is exclusively taught at N.E.W.T. level. Sure, Hagrid didn’t succeed at turning Dudley into a pig, but he clearly knows how. Moreover, do you know what all this magic Hagrid performs in Sorcerer’s Stone has in common? Three words: NON. VERBAL. MAGIC. Reminder: non-verbal magic isn’t taught until the sixth year at Hogwarts. And with the exception of Hermione, every student really struggled with this until very late in the book, possibly even later than that. And this isn’t just a movie thing, where non-verbal and wandless magic is used quite freely and by pretty much everyone—this is book canon.
We also have this moment, the very last line of chapter 5 of the Sorcerer’s Stone (“Diagon Alley”):
"Harry wanted to watch Hagrid until he was out of sight; he rose in his seat and pressed his nose against the window, but he blinked and Hagrid had gone."
Is it possible that Hagrid Apparated in this scene? Is it possible that he Apparated to the island?
There is one problem here, though: Hagrid’s wand.
Over the course of the seven books, we encounter two broken wands other than Hagrid’s—Ron’s in Chamber of Secrets, and Harry’s in Deathly Hallows. In Deathly Hallows, Harry attempts two spells with his broken wand. First, he tries to cast Lumos, but is only able to produce some feeble sparks. Then, when he tries to Disarm Hermione, the wand splits into two again. As for Ron, we all know how that went as he has to go an entire school year with a wand that’s only held together by fucking Spellotape. We see the wand attempt to perform magic six times in Chamber of Secrets, all of which fail terribly.
Do we really think that Hagrid could possibly perform any of these feats with a broken wand. No way. But how would Hagrid have gotten his hands on a functioning wand? I mean, even if Dumbledore were able to clear Hagrid’s name, there is no way Hagrid could have gotten a new wand. Just look at how, in Chamber of Secrets, Fudge is perfectly okay with sending Hagrid to Azkaban without any actual evidence. And how, in Goblet of Fire, Fudge is very quick to suspect Madame Maxime for the murder of Barty Crouch, Sr. Just because of society’s prejudice against half-giants. Because of this prejudice, the Ministry would never allow for Hagrid to get a new wand. But what about an old one?
Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts in his third year, which would have been in the 1942/43 school year. The Ministry, as with any student who is expelled, snapped his wand in two. Beyond repair.
However, in the last chapter of Deathly Hallows (excluding the epilogue), we see Harry as the Master of the Elder Wand repair his own original wand, showing that it is possible. And Dumbledore was the Master of the Elder Wand for decades. He technically didn’t become the Master until he defeated Grindelwald in 1945, but that was still only two to three years after Hagrid’s expulsion.
What if Dumbledore repaired Hagrid’s old wand with the Elder Wand and trained him. It would explain Hagrid’s undying and sometimes aggressive loyalty toward him. And we learn already in the very first chapter of the series that Dumbledore trusts Hagrid with his life, and that McGonagall has some doubts when it comes to Hagrid’s trustworthiness, but if Hagrid is actually a fairly capable wizard, it would explain why Dumbledore put so much trust in him.
This raises one more question in my mind: it is very strongly hinted at that Hagrid keeps his broken wand in his umbrella. But, do we think that—if Hagrid does have a whole, functioning wand—he keeps it in his umbrella? Or do we think that his wand is his umbrella? Normally, I would say that this goes against the nature and magic of the wands themselves. Just like with how wands can’t be repaired once they’re broken past a certain point, I don’t think they can be transfigured. However, we do know that, in the hands of the right person, the Elder Wand does possess the power to repair wands even if they are completely broken. Would it be possible for Albus Dumbledore, Master of the Elder Wand, to transfigure Hagrid’s wand into an umbrella?
BUT HEY! THAT’S JUST A THEORY! A BOOK THEORY! AND… close the book.