'How long have you been teaching at Hogwarts? Professor Umbridge asked.
And so they worked on while the sky outside the windows became steadily darker. Slowly, the crowd in the common room began to thin again. At half past eleven, Hermione wandered over to them, yawning.
I am sorry that I was unable to see more of you over the summer. It pains me to criticise our parents, but I am afraid I can no longer live under their roof while they remain mixed up with the dangerous crowd around Dumbledore. (If you are writing to Mother at any point, you might tell her that a certain Sturgis Podmore, who is a great friend of Dumbledore's, has recently been sent to Azkaban for trespass at the Ministry. Perhaps that will open their eyes to the kind of petty criminals with whom they are currently rubbing shoulders.) I count myself very lucky to have escaped the stigma of association with such people - the Minister really could not be more gracious to me - and I do hope, Ron, that you will not allow family ties to blind you to the misguided nature of our parents' beliefs and actions, either. I sincerely hope that, in time, they will realise how mistaken they were and I shall, of course, be ready to accept a full apology when that day comes.
Neither Harry nor Ron seemed to make much headway with their homework that night. Harry knew Ron was too preoccupied with how badly he had performed at Quidditch practice and he himself was having difficulty in getting the 'Gryffindor are losers' chant out of his head.
'No,' he said heavily, 'you know she won't let us.'
But Harry did not have to wait for Defence Against the Dark Arts to meet Professor Umbridge. He was pulling out his dream diary in a seat at the very back of the shadowy Divination room when Ron elbowed him in the ribs and, looking round, he saw Professor Umbridge emerging through the trapdoor in the floor. The class, which had been talking cheerily, fell silent at once. The abrupt fall in the noise level made Professor Trelawney, who had been wafting about handing out copies of The Dream Oracle, look round.
The Inner Eye does not See upon command!' she said in scandalised tones.
'Was he lousy?'
'Yeah, well, if you've just come over here to criticise - '
'What?' said Harry and Hermione together, staring at him.
- I'll know you're back to normal,' said Hermione. 'Harry, yours is OK except for this bit at the end, I think you must have misheard Professor Sinistra, Europa's covered in ice, not mice - 'Harry?'
'Come on, we've got to get this finished sometime before dawn,' he said briskly to Harry, pulling Professor Sinistra's essay back towards him.
'Excellent,' whispered Ron, as they sat down in their usual seats. 'Let's see Umbridge get what she deserves.'
Professor Trelawney scowled at her, arms crossed and shoulders hunched as though wishing to protect herself as much as possible from the indignity of the inspection. After a slight pause in which she seemed to decide that the question was not so offensive that she could reasonably ignore it, she said in a deeply resentful tone, 'Nearly sixteen years.'
'Wizengamot elders Griselda Marchbanks and Tiberius Ogden have resigned in protest at the introduction of the post of Inquisitor to Hogwarts.
Professor Umbridge made a note.
'Right then, everyone, listen closely - Dean Thomas, if you do that to the mouse again I shall put you in detention - most of you have now successfully Vanished your snails and even those who were left with a certain amount of shell have got the gist of the spell. Today, we shall be - '
'Yes,' said Professor Trelawney, holding her head a little higher.
'I've read that too. I've read the whole book.'