'Hand, Mr Thomas! As I was saying - you have been introduced to spells that
have been complex, inappropriate to your age group and potentially lethal. You
have been frightened into believing that you are likely to meet Dark attacks
every other day -'
'No we haven't,' Hermione said, 'we just -'
'Your hand is not up, Miss Granger!'
Hermione put up her hand. Professor Umbridge turned away from her.
'It is my understanding that my predecessor not only performed illegal curses
in front of you, he actually performed them on you.'
'Well, he turned out to be a maniac, didn't he?' said Dean hotly. 'Mind you,
we still learned loads.'
'Your hand is not up, Mr Thomas!' trilled Professor Umbridge. 'Now, it is
the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient
to get you through your examination, which, after all, is what school is all
about. And your name is?' she added, staring at Parvati, whose hand had just
'Parvati Patil, and isn't there a practical bit in our Defence Against the
Dark Arts OWL? Aren't we supposed to show that we can actually do the counter-curses
'As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is no reason why
you should not be able to perform the spells under carefully controlled examination
conditions,' said Professor Umbridge dismissively.
'Without ever practising them beforehand?' said Parvati incredulously. 'Are
you telling us that the first time we'll get to do the spells will be during
'I repeat, as long as you have studied the theory hard enough -'
'And what good's theory going to be in the real world?' said Harry loudly,
his fist in the air again.
Professor Umbridge looked up.
'This is school, Mr Potter, not the real world,' she said softly.
'So we're not supposed to be prepared for what's waiting for us out there?'
There is nothing waiting out there, Mr Potter.'
'Oh, yeah?' said Harry. His temper, which seemed to have been bubbling just
beneath the surface all day, was reaching boiling point.
'Who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves?' enquired Professor
Umbridge in a horribly honeyed voice.
'Hmm, let's think:' said Harry in a mock thoughtful voice. 'Maybe: Lord Voldemort?
Ron gasped; Lavender Brown uttered a little scream; Neville slipped sideways
off his stool. Professor Umbridge, however, did not flinch. She was staring
at Harry with a grimly satisfied expression on her face.
Ten points from Gryffindor, Mr Potter.'
The classroom was silent and still. Everyone was staring at either Umbridge
'Now, let me make a few things quite plain.'
Professor Umbridge stood up and leaned towards them, her stubby-fingered
hands splayed on her desk.
'You have been told that a certain Dark wizard has returned from the dead
'He wasn't dead,' said Harry angrily, 'but yeah, he's returned!'
said Professor Umbridge in one breath without looking at him. 'As I was saying,
you have been informed that a certain Dark wizard is at large once again. This
is a lie.'
'It is NOT a lie!' said Harry. 'I saw him, I fought him!'
'Detention, Mr Potter!' said Professor Umbridge triumphantly. Tomorrow evening.
Five o'clock. My office. I repeat, this is a lie. The Ministry of Magic guarantees
that you are not in danger from any Dark wizard. If you are still worried, by
all means come and see me outside class hours. If someone is alarming you with
fibs about reborn Dark wizards, I would like to hear about it. I am here to
help. I am your friend. And now, you will kindly continue your reading. Page
five, "Basics for Beginners".'
Professor Umbridge sat down behind her desk. Harry, however, stood up. Everyone
was staring at him; Seamus looked half-scared, half-fascinated.
'Harry, no!' Hermione whispered in a warning voice, tugging at his sleeve,
but Harry jerked his arm out of her reach.
'So, according to you, Cedric Diggory dropped dead of his own accord, did
he?' Harry asked, his voice shaking.
There was a collective intake of breath from the class, for none of them,
apart from Ron and Hermione, had ever heard Harry talk about what had happened
on the night Cedric had died. They stared avidly from Harry to Professor Umbridge,
who had raised her eyes and was staring at him without a trace of a fake smile
on her face.
'Cedric Diggory's death was a tragic accident,' she said coldly.
'It was murder,' said Harry. He could feel himself shaking. He had hardly
spoken to anyone about this, least of all thirty eagerly listening classmates.
'Voldemort killed him and you know it.'
Professor Umbridge's face was quite blank. For a moment, Harry thought she
was going to scream at him. Then she said, in her softest, most sweetly girlish
voice, 'Come here, Mr Potter, dear.'
He kicked his chair aside, strode around Ron and Hermione and up to the teacher's
desk. He could feel the rest of the class holding its breath. He felt so angry
he did not care what happened next.
Professor Umbridge pulled a small roll of pink parchment out of her handbag,
stretched it out on the desk, dipped her quill into a bottle of ink and started
scribbling, hunched over so that Harry could not see what she was writing. Nobody
spoke. After a minute or so she rolled up the parchment and tapped it with her
wand; it sealed itself seamlessly so that he could not open it.
Take this to Professor McGonagall, dear,' said Professor Umbridge, holding
out the note to him.
He took it from her without saying a word, turned on his heel and left the
room, not even looking back at Ron and Hermione, slamming the classroom door
shut behind him. He walked very fast along the corridor, the note to McGonagall
clutched tight in his hand, and turning a corner walked slap into Peeves the
poltergeist, a wide-mouthed little man floating on his back in midair, juggling
'Why it's Potty Wee Potter!' cackled Peeves, allowing two of the inkwells
to fall to the ground where they smashed and spattered the walls with ink; Harry
jumped backwards out of the way with a snarl.
'Get out of it, Peeves.'
'Oooh, Crackpot's feeling cranky' said Peeves, pursuing Harry along the corridor,
leering as he zoomed along above him. 'What is it this time, my fine Potty friend?
Hearing voices? Seeing visions? Speaking in -' Peeves blew a gigantic raspberry
'I said, leave me ALONE!' Harry shouted, running down the nearest flight
of stairs, but Peeves merely slid down the banister on his back beside him.
'Oh, most think he's barking, the potty wee lad, But some are more kindly
and think he's just sad, But Peevesy knows better and says that he's mad -
A door to his left flew open and Professor McGonagall emerged from her office
looking grim and slightly harassed.
'What on earth are you shouting about, Potter?' she snapped, as Peeves cackled
gleefully and zoomed out of sight. 'Why aren't you in class?'
'I've been sent to see you,' said Harry stiffly.
'Sent? What do you mean, sent?'
He held out the note from Professor Umbridge. Professor McGonagall took it
from him, frowning, slit it open with a tap of her wand, stretched it out and
began to read. Her eyes zoomed from side to side behind their square spectacles
as she read what Umbridge had written, and with each line they became narrower.
'Come in here, Potter.'
He followed her inside her study. The door closed automatically behind him.
'Well?' said Professor McGonagall, rounding on him. 'Is this true?'
'Is what true?' Harry asked, rather more aggressively than he had intended.
'Professor?' he added, in an attempt to sound more polite.
'Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?'
'Yes,' said Harry.
'You called her a liar?'
'You told her He Who Must Not Be Named is back?'
Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, watching Harry closely. Then
she said, 'Have a biscuit, Potter.'
'Have - what?'
'Have a biscuit,' she repeated impatiently, indicating a tartan tin lying
on top of one of the piles of papers on her desk. 'And sit down.'
There had been a previous occasion when Harry, expecting to be caned by Professor
McGonagall, had instead been appointed by her to the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
He sank into a chair opposite her and helped himself to a Ginger Newt, feeling
just as confused and wrong-footed as he had done on that occasion.
Professor McGonagall set down Professor Umbridge's note and looked very seriously
'Potter, you need to be careful.'
Harry swallowed his mouthful of Ginger Newt and stared at her. Her tone of
voice was not at all what he was used to; it was not brisk, crisp and stern;
it was low and anxious and somehow much more human than usual.
'Misbehaviour in Dolores Umbridge's class could cost you much more than house
points and a detention.'
'What do you -?'
'Potter, use your common sense,' snapped Professor McGonagall, with an abrupt
return to her usual manner. 'You know where she comes from, you must know to
whom she is reporting.'
The bell rang for the end of the lesson. Overhead and all around came the
elephantine sounds of hundreds of students on the move.
'It says here she's given you detention every evening this week, starting
tomorrow,' Professor McGonagall said, looking down at Umbridge's note again.
'Every evening this week!' Harry repeated, horrified. 'But, Professor, couldn't
'No, I couldn't,' said Professor McGonagall flatly.
'She is your teacher and has every right to give you detention. You will
go to her room at five o'clock tomorrow for the first one. Just remember: tread
carefully around Dolores Umbridge.'
'But I was telling the truth!' said Harry, outraged. 'Voldemort is back,
you know he is; Professor Dumbledore knows he is -'
'For heaven's sake, Potter!' said Professor McGonagall, straightening her
glasses angrily (she had winced horribly when he had used Voldemort's name).
'Do you really think this is about truth or lies? It's about keeping your head
down and your temper under control!'
She stood up, nostrils wide and mouth very thin, and Harry stood up, too.
'Have another biscuit,' she said irritably, thrusting the tin at him.
'No, thanks,' said Harry coldly.
'Don't be ridiculous,' she snapped.
He took one.
'Thanks,' he said grudgingly.
'Didn't you listen to Dolores Umbridge's speech at the start-of-term feast,
'Yeah,' said Harry. 'Yeah: she said: progress will be prohibited or: well,
it meant that: that the Ministry of Magic is trying to interfere at Hogwarts.'
Professor McGonagall eyed him closely for a moment, then sniffed, walked
around her desk and held open the door for him.
'Well, I'm glad you listen to Hermione Granger at any rate,' she said, pointing
him out of her office.
- CHAPTER THIRTEEN -
Dinner in the Great Hall that night was not a pleasant experience for Harry.
The news about his shouting match with Umbridge had travelled exceptionally
fast even by Hogwarts' standards. He heard whispers all around him as he sat
eating between Ron and Hermione. The funny thing was that none of the whisperers
seemed to mind him overhearing what they were saying about him. On the contrary,
it was as though they were hoping he would get angry and start shouting again,
so that they could hear his story first-hand.
'He says he saw Cedric Diggory murdered:'
'He reckons he duelled with You-Know-Who:'
'Come off it:"
'Who does he think he's kidding?'
'What I don't get,' said Harry through clenched teeth, laying down his knife
and fork (his hands were shaking too much to hold them steady), 'is why they
all believed the story two months ago when Dumbledore told them:'
'The thing is, Harry, I'm not sure they did,' said Hermione grimly. 'Oh,
let's get out of here.'
She slammed down her own knife and fork; Ron looked longingly at his half-finished
apple pie but followed suit. People stared at them all the way out of the Hall.
'What d'you mean, you're not sure they believed Dumbledore?' Harry asked
Hermione when they reached the first-floor landing.
'Look, you don't understand what it was like after it happened,' said Hermione
quietly. 'You arrived back in the middle of the lawn clutching Cedric's dead
body: none of us saw what happened in the maze: we just had Dumbledore's word
for it that You-Know-Who had come back and killed Cedric and fought you.'
'Which is the truth!' said Harry loudly.
'I know it is, Harry, so will you please stop biting my head off?' said Hermione
wearily. 'It's just that before the truth could sink in, everyone went home
for the summer, where they spent two months reading about how you're a nutcase
and Dumbledore's going senile!'
Rain pounded on the windowpanes as they strode along the empty corridors
back to Gryffindor Tower. Harry felt as though his first day had lasted a week,
but he still had a mountain of homework to do before bed. A dull pounding pain
was developing over his right eye. He glanced out of a rain-washed window at
the dark grounds as they turned into the Fat Lady's corridor. There was still
no light in Hagrid's cabin.