'Sent? What do you mean, sent?'
'Fainting Fancies?' Harry suggested quietly.
'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.'
'Who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves?' enquired Professor Umbridge in a horribly honeyed voice.
'Mr-Potter-you-have-already-lost-your-house-ten-points-do-not-make-matters-worse-for-yourself,' 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.'
'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.
That's not on,' said Ron angrily. 'You're trying to trick them into picking up the hats. You're setting them free when they might not want to be free.'
'I repeat,' said Professor Umbridge, smiling in a very irritating fashion at Dean, 'do you expect to be attacked during my classes?'
'If he calls Hagrid a moron one more time . . .' said Harry through gritted teeth.
'Mimbulus mimbletonia,' said Hermione, before the Fat Lady could ask. The portrait swung open to reveal the hole behind it and the three of them scrambled through it.
'I want you to know, Potter,' he said in a loud, carrying voice, 'that it's not only weirdos who support you. I personally believe you one hundred per cent. My family have always stood firm behind Dumbledore, and so do I.'
Luna gave her a withering look and flounced away, radishes swinging madly. Parvati and Lavender were not the only ones hooting with laughter now.
The day had become cool and breezy, and as they walked down the sloping lawn towards Hagrid's cabin on the edge of the Forbidden Forest, they felt the occasional drop of rain on their faces. Professor Grubbly-Plank stood waiting for the class some ten yards from Hagrid's front door, a long trestle table in front of her laden with twigs. As Harry and Ron reached her, a loud shout of laughter sounded behind them; turning, they saw Draco Malfoy striding towards them, surrounded by his usual gang of Slytherin cronies. He had clearly just said something highly amusing, because Crabbe, Goyle, Pansy Parkinson and the rest continued to snigger heartily as they gathered around the trestle table and, judging by the way they all kept looking over at Harry, he was able to guess the subject of the joke without too much difficulty.
One by one, as though hit over the head with an invisible mallet, the first-years were slumping unconscious in their seats; some slid right on to the floor, others merely hung over the arms of their chairs, their tongues lolling out. Most of the people watching were laughing; Hermione, however, squared her shoulders and marched directly over to where Fred and George now stood with clipboards, closely observing the unconscious first-years. Ron rose halfway out of his chair, hovered uncertainly for a moment or two, then muttered to Harry, 'She's got it under control,' before sinking as low in his chair as his lanky frame permitted.
The following day dawned just as leaden and rainy as the previous one. Hagrid was still absent from the staff table at breakfast.
'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".'
'He wasn't dead,' said Harry angrily, 'but yeah, he's returned!'
'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?'