J.K.Rwling >> Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix (page 35)

Harry felt the blood surge to his head and heard a thumping noise in his ears. So he told 'evil, nasty, attention-seeking stories', did he?

She was watching him with her head slightly to one side, still smiling widely, as though she knew exactly what he was thinking and was waiting to see whether he would start shouting again. With a massive effort, Harry looked away from her, dropped his schoolbag beside the straight-backed chair and sat down.

There,' said Umbridge sweetly, 'we're getting better at controlling our temper already, aren't we? Now, you are going to be doing some lines for me, Mr Potter. No, not with your quill,' she added, as Harry bent down to open his bag. 'You're going to be using a rather special one of mine. Here you are.'

She handed him a long, thin black quill with an unusually sharp point.

'I want you to write, / must not tell lies,' she told him softly.

'How many times?' Harry asked, with a creditable imitation of politeness.

'Oh, as long as it takes for the message to sink in,' said Umbridge sweetly. 'Off you go.'

She moved over to her desk, sat down and bent over a stack of parchment that looked like essays for marking. Harry raised the sharp black quill, then realised what was missing.

'You haven't given me any ink,' he said.

'Oh, you won't need ink,' said Professor Umbridge, with the merest suggestion of a laugh in her voice.

Harry placed the point of the quill on the paper and wrote: / must not tell lies.

He let out a gasp of pain. The words had appeared on the parchment in what appeared to be shining red ink. At the same time, the words had appeared on the back of Harry's right hand, cut into his skin as though traced there by a scalpel - yet even as he stared at the shining cut, the skin healed over again, leaving the place where it had been slightly redder than before but quite smooth.

Harry looked round at Umbridge. She was watching him, her wide, toadlike mouth stretched in a smile.


'Nothing,' said Harry quietly.

He looked back at the parchment, placed the quill on it once more, wrote I must not tell lies, and felt the searing pain on the back of his hand for a second time; once again, the words had been cut into his skin; once again, they healed over seconds later.

And on it went. Again and again Harry wrote the words on the parchment in what he soon came to realise was not ink, but his own blood. And, again and again, the words were cut into the back of his hand, healed, and reappeared the next time he set quill to parchment.

Darkness fell outside Umbridge's window. Harry did not ask when he would be allowed to stop. He did not even check his watch. He knew she was watching him for signs of weakness and he was not going to show any, not even if he had to sit there all night, cutting open his own hand with this quill:

'Come here,' she said, after what seemed hours.

He stood up. His hand was stinging painfully. When he looked down at it he saw that the cut had healed, but that the skin there was red raw.

'Hand,' she said.

He extended it. She took it in her own. Harry repressed a shudder as she touched him with her thick, stubby fingers on which she wore a number of ugly old rings.

Tut, tut, I don't seem to have made much of an impression yet,' she said, smiling. 'Well, we'll just have to try again tomorrow evening, won't we? You may go.'

Harry left her office without a word. The school was quite deserted; it was surely past midnight. He walked slowly up the corridor, then, when he had turned the corner and was sure she would not hear him, broke into a run.

* * *

He had not had time to practise Vanishing Spells, had not written a single dream in his dream diary and had not finished the drawing of the Bowtruckle, nor had he written his essays. He skipped breakfast next morning to scribble down a couple of made-up dreams for Divination, their first lesson, and was surprised to find a dishevelled Ron keeping him company.

'How come you didn't do it last night?' Harry asked, as Ron stared wildly around the common room for inspiration. Ron, who had been fast asleep when Harry got back to the dormitory, muttered something about 'doing other stuff, bent low over his parchment and scrawled a few words.

That'll have to do,' he said, slamming the diary shut. 'I've said I dreamed I was buying a new pair of shoes, she can't make anything weird out of that, can she?'

They hurried off to North Tower together.

'How was detention with Umbridge, anyway? What did she make you do?'

Harry hesitated for a fraction of a second, then said, 'Lines.'

That's not too bad, then, eh?' said Ron.

'Nope,' said Harry.

'Hey - I forgot - did she let you off for Friday?'

'No,' said Harry.

Ron groaned sympathetically.

It was another bad day for Harry; he was one of the worst in Transfiguration, not having practised Vanishing Spells at all. He had to give up his lunch hour to complete the picture of the Bowtruckle and, meanwhile, Professors McGonagall, Grubbly-Plank and Sinistra gave them yet more homework, which he had no prospect of finishing that evening because of his second detention with Umbridge. To cap it all, Angelina Johnson tracked him down at dinner again and, on learning that he would not be able to attend Friday's Keeper tryouts, told him she was not at all impressed by his attitude and that she expected players who wished to remain on the team to put training before their other commitments.

'I'm in detention!' Harry yelled after her as she stalked away. 'D'you think I'd rather be stuck in a room with that old toad or playing Quidditch?'

'At least it's only lines,' said Hermione consolingly, as Harry sank back on to his bench and looked down at his steak and kidney pie, which he no longer fancied very much. 'It's not as if it's a dreadful punishment, really:"

Harry opened his mouth, closed it again and nodded. He was not really sure why he was not telling Ron and Hermione exactly what was happening in Umbridge's room: he only knew that he did not want to see their looks of horror; that would make the whole thing seem worse and therefore more difficult to face. He also felt dimly that this was between himself and Umbridge, a private battle of wills, and he was not going to give her the satisfaction of hearing that he had complained about it.

'I can't believe how much homework we've got,' said Ron miserably.

'Well, why didn't you do any last night?' Hermione asked him. 'Where were you, anyway?'

'I was: I fancied a walk,' said Ron shiftily.

Harry had the distinct impression that he was not alone in concealing things at the moment.

* * *

The second detention was just as bad as the previous one. The skin on the back of Harry's hand became irritated more quickly now and was soon red and inflamed. Harry thought it unlikely that it would keep healing as effectively for long. Soon the cut would remain etched into his hand and Umbridge would, perhaps, be satisfied. He let no gasp of pain escape him, however, and from the moment of entering the room to the moment of his dismissal, again past midnight, he said nothing but 'good evening' and 'goodnight'.

His homework situation, however, was now desperate, and when he returned to the Gryffindor common room he did not, though exhausted, go to bed, but opened his books and began Snape's moonstone essay. It was half past two by the time he had finished it. He knew he had done a poor job, but there was no help for it; unless he had something to give in he would be in detention with Snape next. He then dashed off answers to the questions Professor McGonagall had set them, cobbled together something on the proper handling of Bowtruckles for Professor Grubbly-Plank, and staggered up to bed, where he fell fully clothed on top of the covers and fell asleep immediately.

* * *

Thursday passed in a haze of tiredness. Ron seemed very sleepy too, though Harry could not see why he should be. Harry's third detention passed in the same way as the previous two, except that after two hours the words 'I must not tell lies' did not fade from the back of Harry's hand, but remained scratched there, oozing droplets of blood. The pause in the pointed quill's scratching made Professor Umbridge look up.

'Ah,' she said softly, moving around her desk to examine his hand herself. 'Good. That ought to serve as a reminder to you, oughtn't it? You may leave for tonight.'

'Do I still have to come back tomorrow?' said Harry picking up his schoolbag with his left hand rather than his smarting right one.

'Oh yes,' said Professor Umbridge, smiling as widely as before. 'Yes, I think we can etch the message a little deeper with another evening's work.'

Harry had never before considered the possibility that there might be another teacher in the world he hated more than Snape, but as he walked back towards Gryffindor Tower he had to admit he had found a strong contender. She's evil, he thought, as he climbed a staircase to the seventh floor, she's an evil, twisted, mad old-


He had reached the top of the stairs, turned right and almost walked into Ron, who was lurking behind a statue of Lachlan the Lanky, clutching his broomstick. He gave a great leap of surprise when he saw Harry and attempted to hide his new Cleansweep Eleven behind his back.

'What are you doing?'

'Er - nothing. What are you doing?'

Harry frowned at him.

'Come on, you can tell me! What are you hiding here for?'

'I'm - I'm hiding from Fred and George, if you must know,' said Ron. They just went past with a bunch of first-years, I bet they're testing stuff on them again. I mean, they can't do it in the common room now, can they, not with Hermione there.'

He was talking in a very fast, feverish way.

'But what have you got your broom for, you haven't been flying, have you?' Harry asked.

'I - well - well, OK, I'll tell you, but don't laugh, all right?' Ron said defensively, turning redder with every second. 'I - I thought I'd try out for Gryffindor Keeper now I've got a decent broom. There. Go on. Laugh.'

'I'm not laughing,' said Harry. Ron blinked. 'It's a brilliant idea! It'd be really cool if you got on the team! I've never seen you play Keeper, are you good?'

'I'm not bad,' said Ron, who looked immensely relieved at Harry's reaction. 'Charlie, Fred and George always made me Keep for them when they were training during the holidays.'

'So you've been practising tonight?'

'Every evening since Tuesday: just on my own, though. I've been trying to bewitch Quaffles to fly at me, but it hasn't been easy and I don't know how much use it'll be.' Ron looked nervous and anxious. 'Fred and George are going to laugh themselves stupid when I turn up for the tryouts. They haven't stopped taking the mickey out of me since I got made a prefect.'

'I wish I was going to be there,' said Harry bitterly, as they set off together towards the common room.

'Yeah, so do - Harry, what's that on the back of your hand?'

Harry, who had just scratched his nose with his free right hand, tried to hide it, but had as much success as Ron with his Cleansweep.

'It's just a cut - it's nothing - it's -'

But Ron had grabbed Harry's forearm and pulled the back of Harry's hand up level with his eyes. There was a pause, during which he stared at the words carved into the skin, then, looking sick, he released Harry.

'I thought you said she was just giving you lines?'

Harry hesitated, but after all, Ron had been honest with him, so he told Ron the truth about the hours he had been spending in Umbridge's office.

The old hag!' Ron said in a revolted whisper as they came to a halt in front of the Fat Lady, who was dozing peacefully with her head against her frame. 'She's sick! Go to McGonagall, say something!'

'No,' said Harry at once. 'I'm not giving her the satisfaction of knowing she's got to me.'

'Got to you? You can't let her get away with this!'

'I don't know how much power McGonagall's got over her,' said Harry.

'Dumbledore, then, tell Dumbledore!'

'No,' said Harry flatly.

'Why not?'

'He's got enough on his mind,' said Harry, but that was not the true reason. He was not going to go to Dumbledore for help when Dumbledore had not spoken to him once since June.

'Well, I reckon you should -' Ron began, but he was interrupted by the Fat Lady, who had been watching them sleepily and now burst out, 'Are you going to give me the password or will I have to stay awake all night waiting for you to finish your conversation?'

* * *

Friday dawned sullen and sodden as the rest of the week. Though Harry automatically glanced towards the staff table when he entered the Great Hall, it was without any real hope of seeing Hagrid, and he turned his mind immediately to his more pressing problems, such as the mountainous pile of homework he had to do and the prospect of yet another detention with Umbridge.

Two things sustained Harry that day. One was the thought that it was almost the weekend; the other was that, dreadful though his final detention with Umbridge was sure to be, he had a distant view of the Quidditch pitch from her window and might, with luck, be able to see something of Ron's tryout. These were rather feeble rays of light, it was true, but Harry was grateful for anything that might lighten his present darkness; he had never had a worse first week of term at Hogwarts.

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