J.K.Rwling >> Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (page 31)

He walked up the marble staircase two steps at a time, past the many students hurrying towards lunch. The anger that had just flared so unexpectedly still blazed inside him, and the vision of Ron and Hermione's shocked faces afforded him a sense of deep satisfaction. Serve them right, he thought, why can't they give it a rest: bickering all the time: it's enough to drive anyone up the wall:

He passed the large picture of Sir Cadogan the knight on a landing; Sir Cadogan drew his sword and brandished it fiercely at Harry, who ignored him.

'Come back, you scurvy dog! Stand fast and fight!' yelled Sir Cadogan in a muffled voice from behind his visor, but Harry merely walked on and when Sir Cadogan attempted to follow him by running into a neighbouring picture, he was rebuffed by its inhabitant, a large and angry-looking wolfhound.

Harry spent the rest of the lunch hour sitting alone underneath the trapdoor at the top of North Tower. Consequently, he was the first to ascend the silver ladder that led to Sybill Trelawney's classroom when the bell rang.

After Potions, Divination was Harry's least favourite class, which was due mainly to Professor Trelawney's habit of predicting his premature death every few lessons. A thin woman, heavily draped in shawls and glittering with strings of beads, she always reminded Harry of some kind of insect, with her glasses hugely magnifying her eyes. She was busy putting copies of battered leather-bound books on each of the spindly little tables with which her room was littered when Harry entered the room, but the light cast by the lamps covered by scarves and the low-burning, sickly-scented fire was so dim she appeared not to notice him as he took a seat in the shadows. The rest of the class arrived over the next five minutes. Ron emerged from the trapdoor, looked around carefully, spotted Harry and made directly for him, or as directly as he could while having to wend his way between tables, chairs and overstuffed pouffes.

'Hermione and me have stopped arguing,' he said, sitting down beside Harry.

'Good,' grunted Harry.

'But Hermione says she thinks it would be nice if you stopped taking out your temper on us,' said Ron.

'I'm not -'

'I'm just passing on the message,' said Ron, talking over him. 'But I reckon she's right. It's not our fault how Seamus and Snape treat you.'

'I never said it -'

'Good-day,' said Professor Trelawney in her usual misty, dreamy voice, and Harry broke off, again feeling both annoyed and slightly ashamed of himself. 'And welcome back to Divination. I have, of course, been following your fortunes most carefully over the holidays, and am delighted to see that you have all returned to Hogwarts safely - as, of course, I knew you would.

'You will find on the tables before you copies of The Dream Oracle, by Inigo Imago. Dream interpretation is a most important means of divining the future and one that may very probably be tested in your OWL. Not, of course, that I believe examination passes or failures are of the remotest importance when it comes to the sacred art of divination. If you have the Seeing Eye, certificates and grades matter very little. However, the Headmaster likes you to sit the examination, so:'

Her voice trailed away delicately, leaving them all in no doubt that Professor Trelawney considered her subject above such sordid matters as examinations.

Turn, please, to the introduction and read what Imago has to say on the matter of dream interpretation. Then, divide into pairs. Use The Dream Oracle to interpret each others most recent dreams. Carry on.'

The one good thing to be said for this lesson was that it was not a double period. By the time they had all finished reading the introduction of the book, they had barely ten minutes left for dream interpretation. At the table next to Harry and Ron, Dean had paired up with Neville, who immediately embarked on a long-winded explanation of a nightmare involving a pair of giant scissors wearing his grandmother's best hat; Harry and Ron merely looked at each other glumly.

'I never remember my dreams,' said Ron, 'you say one.'

'You must remember one of them,' said Harry impatiently.

He was not going to share his dreams with anyone. He knew perfectly well what his regular nightmare about a graveyard meant, he did not need Ron or Professor Trelawney or the stupid Dream Oracle to tell him.

'Well, I dreamed I was playing Quidditch the other night,' said Ron, screwing up his face in an effort to remember. 'What d'you reckon that means?'

'Probably that you're going to be eaten by a giant marshmallow or something,' said Harry, turning the pages of The Dream Oracle without interest. It was very dull work looking up bits of dreams in the Oracle and Harry was not cheered up when Professor Trelawney set them the task of keeping a dream diary for a month as homework. When the bell went, he and Ron led the way back down the ladder, Ron grumbling loudly.

'D'you realise how much homework we've got already? Binns set us a foot-and-a-half-long essay on giant wars, Snape wants a foot on the use of moonstones, and now we've got a month's dream diary from Trelawney! Fred and George weren't wrong about OWL year, were they? That Umbridge woman had better not give us any:"

When they entered the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom they found Professor Umbridge already seated at the teacher's desk, wearing the fluffy pink cardigan of the night before and the black velvet bow on top of her head. Harry was again reminded forcibly of a large fly perched unwisely on top of an even larger toad.

The class was quiet as it entered the room; Professor Umbridge was, as yet, an unknown quantity and nobody knew how strict a disciplinarian she was likely to be.

'Well, good afternoon!' she said, when finally the whole class had sat down.

A few people mumbled 'good afternoon' in reply.

Tut, tut,' said Professor Umbridge. 'That won't do, now, will it? I should like you, please, to reply "Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge". One more time, please. Good afternoon, class!'

'Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge,' they chanted back at her.

There, now,' said Professor Umbridge sweetly. That wasn't too difficult, was it? Wands away and quills out, please.'

Many of the class exchanged gloomy looks; the order 'wands away' had never yet been followed by a lesson they had found interesting. Harry shoved his wand back inside his bag and pulled out quill, ink and parchment. Professor Umbridge opened her handbag, extracted her own wand, which was an unusually short one, and tapped the blackboard sharply with it; words appeared on the board at once:

Defence Against the Dark Arts A Return to Basic Principles

'Well now, your teaching in this subject has been rather disrupted and fragmented, hasn't it?' stated Professor Umbridge, turning to face the class with her hands clasped neatly in front of her. The constant changing of teachers, many of whom do not seem to have followed any Ministry-approved curriculum, has unfortunately resulted in your being far below the standard we would expect to see in your OWL year.

'You will be pleased to know, however, that these problems are now to be rectified. We will be following a carefully structured, theory-centred, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic this year. Copy down the following, please.'

She rapped the blackboard again; the first message vanished and was replaced by the 'Course Aims'.

. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.

. Learning to recognise situations in which defensive magic can legally be used.

. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for practical use.

For a couple of minutes the room was full of the sound of scratching quills on parchment. When everyone had copied down Professor Umbridge's three course aims she asked, 'Has everybody got a copy of Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard?'

There was a dull murmur of assent throughout the class.

'I think we'll try that again,' said Professor Umbridge. 'When I ask you a question, I should like you to reply, "Yes, Professor Umbridge", or "No, Professor Umbridge". So: has everyone got a copy of Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard?'

'Yes, Professor Umbridge,' rang through the room.

'Good,' said Professor Umbridge. 'I should like you to turn to page five and read "Chapter One, Basics for Beginners". There will be no need to talk.'

Professor Umbridge left the blackboard and settled herself in the chair behind the teacher's desk, observing them all closely with those pouchy toad's eyes. Harry turned to page five of his copy of Defensive Magical Theory and started to read.

It was desperately dull, quite as bad as listening to Professor Binns. He felt his concentration sliding away from him; he had soon read the same line half a dozen times without taking in more than the first few words. Several silent minutes passed. Next to him, Ron was absent-mindedly turning his quill over and over in his fingers, staring at the same spot on the page. Harry looked right and received a surprise to shake him out of his torpor. Hermione had not even opened her copy of Defensive Magical Theory. She was staring fixedly at Professor Umbridge with her hand in the air.

Harry could not remember Hermione ever neglecting to read when instructed to, or indeed resisting the temptation to open any book that came under her nose. He looked at her enquiringly, but she merely shook her head slightly to indicate that she was not about to answer questions, and continued to stare at Professor Umbridge, who was looking just as resolutely in another direction.

After several more minutes had passed, however, Harry was not the only one watching Hermione. The chapter they had been instructed to read was so tedious that more and more people were choosing to watch Hermione's mute attempt to catch Professor Umbridge's eye rather than struggle on with 'Basics for Beginners'.

When more than half the class were staring at Hermione rather than at their books, Professor Umbridge seemed to decide that she could ignore the situation no longer.

'Did you want to ask something about the chapter, dear?' she asked Hermione, as though she had only just noticed her.

'Not about the chapter, no,' said Hermione.

'Well, we're reading just now,' said Professor Umbridge, showing her small pointed teeth. 'If you have other queries we can deal with them at the end of class.'

'I've got a query about your course aims,' said Hermione.

Professor Umbridge raised her eyebrows.

'And your name is?'

'Hermione Granger,' said Hermione.

'Well, Miss Granger, I think the course aims are perfectly clear if you read them through carefully' said Professor Umbridge in a voice of determined sweetness.

'Well, I don't,' said Hermione bluntly. There's nothing written up there about using defensive spells.'

There was a short silence in which many members of the class turned their heads to frown at the three course aims still written on the blackboard.

'Using defensive spells?' Professor Umbridge repeated with a little laugh. 'Why, I can't imagine any situation arising in my classroom that would require you to use a defensive spell, Miss Granger. You surely aren't expecting to be attacked during class?'

'We're not going to use magic?' Ron exclaimed loudly.

'Students raise their hands when they wish to speak in my class, Mr-?'

'Weasley,' said Ron, thrusting his hand into the air.

Professor Umbridge, smiling still more widely, turned her back on him. Harry and Hermione immediately raised their hands too. Professor Umbridge's pouchy eyes lingered on Harry for a moment before she addressed Hermione.

'Yes, Miss Granger? You wanted to ask something else?'

'Yes,' said Hermione. 'Surely the whole point of Defence Against the Dark Arts is to practise defensive spells?'

'Are you a Ministry-trained educational expert, Miss Granger?' asked Professor Umbridge, in her falsely sweet voice.

'No, but -'

'Well then, I'm afraid you are not qualified to decide what the "whole point" of any class is. Wizards much older and cleverer than you have devised our new programme of study. You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way -'

'What use is that?' said Harry loudly. 'If we're going to be attacked, it won't be in a -'

'Hand, Mr Potter!' sang Professor Umbridge.

Harry thrust his fist in the air. Again, Professor Umbridge promptly turned away from him, but now several other people had their hands up, too.

'And your name is?' Professor Umbridge said to Dean.

'Dean Thomas.'

'Well, Mr Thomas?'

'Well, it's like Harry said, isn't it?' said Dean. 'If we're going to be attacked, it won't be risk free.'

'I repeat,' said Professor Umbridge, smiling in a very irritating fashion at Dean, 'do you expect to be attacked during my classes?'

'No, but -'

Professor Umbridge talked over him. 'I do not wish to criticise the way things have been run in this school,' she said, an unconvincing smile stretching her wide mouth, 'but you have been exposed to some very irresponsible wizards in this class, very irresponsible indeed - not to mention,' she gave a nasty little laugh, 'extremely dangerous half-breeds.'

'If you mean Professor Lupin,' piped up Dean angrily, 'he was the best we ever -'

Title: Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix
Author: J.K.Rwling
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