Scarpnotes for
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Chapter Summary and Analysis - Part Two

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Well she's done it again! The longest book yet, and children lined up around the block at midnight to buy it as soon as it was released. Filled to the brim with new people, more places than we dared to imagine, and troubles - more than we can stand. It continued, faithfully, the Harry Potter saga with "authority," as though this might not be fiction at all, but a narrative history lesson. Characters blossomed more fully in our minds; and places, we've only heard mentioned, expanded full screen into our imaginations. The subject matter is darker: the rise of tyranny and fall of freedom; child abuse; death. The children are growing up; and, unfortunately, so is the "evil" in the books. Therein, as they say, lies the rub.

If I'm perfectly honest, however, this is the first of J K Rowling's books that I can only cautiously recommend to parents, with a disclaimer. Never mind my predilection toward revulsion of all tyrants coming to power (Nazi's, Viet Cong, Hussain) that I have come by honestly through all-too-personal relation to war. Rowling's depiction of Harry's "child abuse" took such center stage with me, that it was difficult to stay focused on what I'm sure she would rather have the reader be thinking about. Those parents who have enjoyed reading books about "Harry" to their younger children, should probably READ THE BOOK FIRST - if for no other reason than to decide before-hand how they will explain or discuss it with them. Yes, I understand the need to "move the plot along" and focus on Harry's extraction of the "prophecy"; but, in this day and age when the "abuse card" is played in children's literature it demands handling in certain critical ways, and with proper "resolution." Both of which, I found a bit lacking, if one is to consider this "children's" literature.

Teens, on the other hand, seem to be finding the book's action somewhat entertaining. In many aspects, the plot-line for "Order" is similar to Orwell's "Animal Farm," frequently required reading in many U.S. high schools. And certainly most teens either know about or have even experienced some form of bullying or abuse in their lives - all to many times in the school setting. What IS needed today, is mentoring on what actually to "expect" from healthy relationships with parents, teachers and other adults; and, how to obtain that type of relationship one way or the other. The closure provided in this book was inadequate. Perhaps the tyrant's will "get it" in a later book …. We can only hope!

5 - Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
Pages: 870

Percy and Padfoot
Awakening first, Harry took parchment and quill to the common room to write a letter to Sirius. He noticed that all of Hermione's hats had disappeared and wondered if the elves had really been set free. In code, Harry told Sirius about his scar hurting, Umbridge and missing Hagrid. Just as others were stirring upstairs, he made for the Owlry. Mrs. Norris, rubbed against his ankle on her way to "tattle" on him to Filtch. After sending Hedwig to "snuffles," he saw the leathery, winged horse like creature fly up out of the trees for a moment just as Cho Chang came unexpectedly through the door. Harry could do nothing but stammer and make small talk; but, she said that the whole school had heard about how he had stood up to Umbridge. Just as his nerve was returning Filtch burst through the door out of breath and accused him of sending a letter to order dung bombs. He refused to reveal his "source of information." At breakfast Hermione was giving him her usual harassment about doing homework instead of practicing Quidditch when she was cut short by an article in the Daily Prophet. It said that Sturgis Podmore had been arrested and sent to Azkaban when he was caught trying to get through a security door in the Ministry and then refused to speak in his own defense. They all believed that it was a frame-up by the ministry against someone in the Order. Another article said that the Prophet had received a tip from a "reliable source" that Sirius was hiding in London. They believed that it was Lucius Malfoy who had spotted Sirius on the train platform. Despite Hermione's threats about not helping them with their homework, Harry just had to fly and help Ron get ready for their first team practice. He saved most of the goals Harry hit at him and was getting better as they took a break for lunch. At practice Ron had to endure the teasing from Fred and George as well as the harassment from Malfoy's group of Slytherin's. He began making mistakes and was corrected many times by Angelina until he accidentally hit Katie Bell in the nose making it bleed. Fred gave her the wrong end of his nose-bleed nougat and made it bleed worse. So, fortunately for Ron, practice had to be cancelled while Katie went to the hospital wing. Hermione further insulted Ron by assuming right off that their "bad practice" was due to Ron and he walked off in a huff.

They accomplished little on their homework that night so Sunday was spent inside struggling on it while Hermione relaxed by the fire. At nearly midnight she came over and criticized several of their errors. Ron told her he "didn’t have time to listen to a sermon," just as Hermes, Percy's screech owl, came to their windowsill with a letter for him. He read Percy's letter in disgust then gave it to Harry for them to read. He complimented Ron on becoming prefect then insulted his parents, demeaned Dumbledore and maligned that "unbalanced, violent Harry." He claimed that Harry only got off in his hearing by a "technicality" and plead with Ron to trust the "delightful" Umbridge because "Dumbledore's regime at Hogwarts may soon be over" as per the upcoming article in tomorrow's Prophet. He counseled Ron to "sever ties with Harry" so Ron tore the letter into small pieces before throwing it into the fire. Hermione finally agreed to "look over" their homework but made them promise to "never leave homework this late again." Awaiting Hermione's corrections, Harry caught sight of Sirius' head in the fireplace. Sirius said that he had been checking every hour to talk with Harry about his letter. He said that Harry's scar probably didn't have anything to do with Umbridge but was related to Voldemort having an emotion. He did agree, however, that Umbridge was "a nasty piece of work" and revealed that it was her who had "drafted a nasty piece of legislation two years ago which had made it impossible for Lupin (werewolf's) to get a job." She "loathes part humans and campaigned to have mer-people rounded up and tagged." Sirius wasn't surprised that Umbridge wouldn't let them use magic because "Fudge doesn't want you trained in combat" which is what he thinks Dumbledore is doing at the school in order to "seize power" away from him. Madame Maxime said that she got separated from Hagrid on the way home and no one knew why he was delayed. When Sirius suggested that he meet them on their next Hogsmead weekend they all exclaimed "NO," that was too risky and "Malfoy had recognized him." Sirius told Harry that he "was less like your father than I thought. The risk would've been what made it fun for James." He had to depart as he heard Kreacher coming down the stairs.

The Hogwarts High Inquisitor
The next morning the Daily Prophet announced that Umbridge had been appointed the first ever Hogwarts High Inquisitor by Fudge "to give the ministry an unprecedented level of control at the school." The article quoted Percy extensively who said that educational decree 22 had allowed Fudge to appoint Umbridge when Dumbledore couldn't find a candidate for the DADA teaching post. Percy demeaned Dumbledore for "falling standards" and "eccentric decisions" but Umbridge had the power now, with decree 23, to inspect her fellow teachers. Two Wizengamot elders resigned over the "disgusting attempt to discredit Albus Dumbledore." Snape had given Harry a "D" (dreadful) on his Moonstone essay and he made extra effort to turn in an adequate potion at the end of the lesson. Ron was happy that he had gotten a "P" (poor). George reminded them that the lowest grade was "T" for Troll. Umbridge was fairly benign when she inspected Flitwick in Charms because he treated her like a guest. Trelawney, however, was another matter. Umbridge was intrusive, and clearly intent on firing her with her mocking questions and demands. Trelawney answered that she had been appointed 16 years ago by Dumbledore then predicted that Umbridge was "in grave danger." As was her usual practice, Umbridge wasted the DADA class time by having them read the book. Hermione claimed that she had already read the whole book so Umbridge tried to trip her up by asking a question from the last chapter. Hermione answered correctly, however, she voiced that she disagreed with the authors conclusion. Umbridge berated her and took five points away for making pointless interruptions. Despite being warned to keep his cool, Harry asked "why?" Then, when Umbridge commended Quirrell, Harry voiced that there "was just that minor drawback of having Lord Voldemort sticking out of the back of his head." After the "loudest silence" he had ever heard, Umbridge sleekly pronounced another weeks worth of detentions on him.

The cut on Harry's hand had barely healed and by the next morning it was bleeding again. Angelina tore into him as well over Quidditch and McGonagall took an additional five points from him because "detentions don't appear to have any effect on you." Later in Transfiguration class Umbridge intruded with her usual "hem, hem" which McGonagall didn't tolerate well and openly put her in her place for her rudeness. After that Umbridge stayed in her corner writing notes with a self-satisfied grin on her face. At the end of the class McGonagall answered her that she had been teaching for "thirty-nine years this December;" and, when Umbridge said she would have her evaluation shortly, replied "I can hardly wait." Harry was miffed that, after McGonagall's display of brusqueness, she would have the temerity to lecture him for loosing his temper. Still later in the day, Umbridge showed up again in Care of Magical creatures class. Grubbly-Plank tolerated her interruptions but didn't provide her with any antagonisms about Hogwarts or Dumbledore for which she sought. Nor could she answer Umbridge's interrogations about Hagrid's whereabouts. She asked about injuries in the class and Malfoy anxiously told about his Hippogriff slashes. When Harry offered that it had only been "because he was too stupid to listen to what Hagrid had told him," Umbridge gave Harry another day in detention. When Harry returned from detention after midnight his hand was bleeding profusely through the scarf he had tied around it. Hermione was there with a bowl of yellow pickled murtlap tentacles to soak his hand in and relieve the pain. He still irrationally refused to tell McGonagall about the abuse saying "she'd go ballistic" and "Umbridge would just pass another decree." Hermione called her "awful" and said "we've got to do something about her" leading up to suggesting that they take their DADA education into their own hands and Harry should be the teacher. Not taking it as a compliment, he shot into a tirade that they didn't "have a clue" about what his previous encounters with DADA had cost him, nor the sheer luck which had saved him. "You don't know what it's like… you've never had to face him. You think it's just memorizing a bunch of spells and throwing them at him like you're in class. The whole time you know there's nothing between you and dying except your own brain or guts… like you can think straight when you know you're about a second from being murdered or tortured or watching your friends die… and you two sit there acting like I'm a clever little boy to be alive, like Diggory was stupid… you just don't get it! That would have been me if Voldemort hadn't needed me!" Hermione merely said "that's why we need you" and asked him to "think about it" before she nonchalantly went up to bed. Harry dreamed, again, of long corridors and locked doors and awakened with his scar prickling.

In the Hog's Head
Two weeks went by without Hermione mentioning Harry and DADA in the same breath. His detentions were finally over and the words were permanently etched on the back of his hand. Finally Hermione gingerly brought it up and to her surprise Harry didn't fly off the handle again. He had actually subconsciously been brooding on the idea and even planning lessons so he merely said "I dunno." She tried to convince him by mentioning that Viktor Krum had been impressed by him, which then made Ron annoyed. When she asked again, Harry said "just you and Ron, yeah?" She then let it slip that she thought he ought to teach anyone who wants to learn, that he might be surprised how many want to, and she had already told a "couple" of people to meet them in Hogsmead. Harry finally agreed but was worried about Sirius bounding up the streets unexpectedly, having been shut up in his house with only the lunatic elf to keep him company. Filtch gave Harry an extra sniff (for dung bombs) during his search and Harry's explanation of why he did it was very interesting to Hermione. She led them to the Hogs Head Bar which was dirty, old, "a bit dodgy" and where she thought "they wouldn't be overheard." The barman looked strangely familiar and smelled of goats; and, there were people in hoods, one covered in dirty bandages and a heavily veiled witch. Twenty-five students showed up to Harry's consternation but he realized many were there just wanting to hear his story. Zacharias Smith's aggressive demand to hear evidence and details produced an equally aggressive response from Harry who told him that he wasn't going to talk about "how Voldemort kills someone" and "if that's all you want you can get out." Susan Bones defused the tirade somewhat by asking about Harry's ability to produce a corporeal patronus. Then Terry Boot's question about killing a Basilisk with Gryffindor's sword, and Neville's about saving the Sorcerers Stone, made Harry start to minimize his accomplishments until Michael Corner reminded that he avoided the dragon all by himself. Zacharias Smith made more caustic comments, until Fred and George said they would stick a long metal instrument "into any part of your body." Hermione argued with Luna over the existence of a mythical creature until Ginny did a convincing "Hem, Hem" imitation of Umbridge which brought the meeting back to order. They decided meetings should be once a week, shouldn't interfere with anyone's Quidditch practice and Harry would have to find a place to hold it and tell them all of the first meeting. Hermione brought out a parchment which she had prepared for them to sign attesting that they agreed "not to tell Umbridge or anyone what we're up to." Zacharias and a few others refused, at first, until the whole group shamed each other into signing. Cho's friend, Marietta, didn't look happy as Cho looked at Harry on the way out. Talking about Zacharias, and others they didn't like, it was obvious Hermione's insistence that they "let anyone who wants to come" had backfired. Ron found out that Michael Corner's group wouldn't have been there at all if he wasn't going out with Ginny, and became indignant. Hermione told them that Ginny still liked, but had "given up on, Harry" months ago, causing Harry to realize that was why Ginny was now talking in front of him. Hermione flustered Ron by telling him not to "harp on about it" and flummoxed Harry by observing how Cho "couldn't keep her eyes off you."

Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four
The rest of the weekend Harry and Ron caught up on their homework (again) and Harry actually felt happy because he had many good things in his mind to reverie about. They, along with Hermione (already caught up on homework and still knitting house elf-freeing hats) went to lounge under the beech tree at the edge of the lake. The happiness was short lived, however, as Umbridge had put up a new sign in the common room stating that educational decree number 24 had disbanded ALL school clubs and organizations (including Quidditch teams) of three or more members until she, herself, had officially allowed it! Ron and Harry saw the notice and tried to go up the girl's staircase to tell Hermione but they were loudly expelled with a loud klaxon-like sound and staircase transfiguring into a slide. Annoyed that the girls could come into the boys dormitory any time they liked, Ron called it "unfair" until Hermione explained that it was an "old fashioned" rule made because the founders felt girls were more "trustworthy." They knew the new decree couldn't have been just a coincidence but couldn't figure out who would have tattled because Hermione explained she had put a magical hex on the signup paper that would "make Eloise Midgen's acne look like a couple of cute freckles." Now, more than ever, they were determined to continue with the DADA meeting, if they could find a place. Hedwig appeared late at the History of Magic class window with a letter but her wing was injured. Feigning illness, Harry was excused from class and took Hedwig to find Grubbly-Plank. He met both her and McGonagall in the staff room. They felt that she had been attacked but couldn't determine who, or what, would have done it. The letter, Harry offered, had come "from London" and McGonagall understood that it had been from "Number 12 Grimmauld Place" so reminded him that all "channels of communication in and out of Hogwarts may be being watched." The letter merely said "today, the same place."

They overheard Malfoy loudly telling his chums that the Slytherin team had received immediate approval but that the Gryffindor may not be allowed to keep playing; and, that his "father had the influence in the ministry and said that soon Harry would be carted off to St Mungo's and the magical brain addled ward." A split second later Harry was nearly knocked over by Neville who was charging Malfoy with his fists flailing. Harry grabbed Neville and drug him backward, Neville still struggling as Snape appeared and summarily took ten points from Gryffindor for their fighting. No one but Harry knew that Neville's outburst had been because of his parents being in St Mungo's for what the Death Eaters had done to them. Umbridge was in Snape's class to examine him and seemed disappointed that the class was so advanced. She told him to take the "strengthening solution" out of the syllabus before questioning him about his desire for the DADA position. With increasing anger he informed her that he had been "teaching for 14 years" was appointed by Dumbledore and she would have to ask the headmaster why he didn't get the DADA position." Because Harry was paying more attention to Snape's interrogation his potion congealed with a foul smell. Snape again vanished his whole potion and claimed he got "zero marks" even though there were several others which looked even worse than Harry's. As usual, Hermione nagged him not to skive off Divination in order to do Snape's punishment essay so he was in class for the results of Trelawney's "inspection" from Umbridge. With tears in her eyes she muttered that her "sixteen years of service had gone unnoticed" with unfounded accusations. Harry told Hermione that she and Umbridge "had something in common, they both thought Trelawney was a fraud." In DADA class Umbridge continued her "non-teaching" and had them sit and read from their books.

When they heard that Umbridge hadn't approved the Gryffindor Quidditch team yet they believed it was just another ploy getting her jolly's by holding something over their heads. Waiting for Sirius' appearance they were regaled by Fred and George demonstrating their new Skiving Snack Box invention: Puking Pastilles. Miserable that they weren't technically doing anything wrong so she couldn't do anything to stop them, Hermione was annoyed to see that they were so successful and earning money. When everyone had gone to bed Sirius finally appeared in the fireplace as before. He told Hermione that she had a lot to learn because the Three Broomsticks, being more crowded, would have been harder to be overheard, and Mundungus Fletcher had been the witch under the veil keeping an eye on them. He said he was sworn to pass on a message from Ron's mother telling him NOT to participate in any DADA group; and, advising Harry and Hermione to do the same although accepting she had no authority over them. When Harry asked him what he thought, Sirius replied that he thought it "was an excellent idea" and that "neither his father nor he would have lain down and taken orders from an old hag like Umbridge!" He reminded Harry that last year they had "evidence that someone inside Hogwarts was trying to kill you" and that "this year we know that there's someone outside Hogwarts who'd like to kill us all" so "learning defense is a good idea!" When Hermione voice opposition he replied "better expelled and able to defend yourselves than sitting safely in school without a clue." He wasn't able to help them find a location for the meeting. Their conversation was interrupted by an alarmed look on Sirius' face as he turned sideways to look at the wall of the fireplace before vanishing. They gasped as they "saw a hand appearing amongst the flames, groping as though to catch hold of something: a stubby, short-fingered hand covered in ugly old-fashioned rings…"

Dumbledore's Army
The three talked about Umbridge and Sirius during Charms class where Hermione effortlessly performed "silencio" on her crow, Ron just poked his frog in the eye and Harry blew his up so it whistled. But before they were done they agreed that Umbridge had been reading Harry's mail. She probably had Filtch in on it by tipping him off that he was ordering dung bombs. They knew they couldn't see Sirius like that again but didn't know how to warn him. Angelina came bursting in with good news that, after she had appealed to McGonagall who went to Dumbledore, Umbridge had finally allowed Gryffindor to play Quidditch. While they nonchalantly ignored Peeves' spitting ink pellets, Hermione wondered aloud if, "now that Sirius thought it was a good idea" they should go through with the DADA group. When Harry became indignant, she asked if he "ever wondered if Sirius was becoming a bit reckless" having been cooped up like he is. The torrents of rain didn't stop by time of Quidditch practice so that they were soaked within minutes. Taking a short break in the changing room they overheard Fred and George talking about using one of their skiving snack boxes to get out of practice. They had been working on developing Fever Fudge but hadn't been able to reverse the side effects of "boils all over your backside." So they were flying… injured. Angelina came back in and told them to use the impervius charm on their glasses so they could learn to tough it out in the rain. After a disgruntling hour of not being able to see anything practice ended. While changing Harry's scar unexpectedly seared with pain; and, although he made up an excuse for his cry of pain, Ron asked him what was up with his scar after the others had gone. It was then that Harry realized he could tell what Voldemort was feeling when it hurt. "He was feeling angry" now, was "in a towering temper" and "wants something done and it's not happening fast enough." "last time," in Umbridge's office, Harry said, "it was because he was really pleased thinking something good was going to happen." "And before that, back at Grimmauld Place," he said, "he was furious." In wonderment Ron told him that he could "take over for Trelawney" because he was "reading Voldemort's mind!" Harry realized that he was just "reading his mood" as Dumbledore had intimated last year, only now that he was back, the feelings were stronger. Harry, again, carelessly ignored Ron's advice to inform Dumbledore and changed the subject back to their potions homework. After midnight Harry was the only one left in the common room and was dozing off. While reading that scurvy-grass, lovage, and sneezewort would produce confusion and befuddlement he slipped into a dream of walking along an endless corridor and nearly touching the door at its end, which he desired badly to open. But then it was interrupted by Dobby returning Hedwig from being healed.

Dobby's ears were sticking out from beneath what looked like every hat that Hermione had ever knitted. On his feet were innumerable socks and around his neck several scarves. To Harry's question, Dobby answered that "none of the other house-elves will clean Gryffindor tower anymore" because "they finds the… hats and socks hidden everywhere… insulting." He was taking some for Winky too because she is still drinking a lot. With a stroke of inspiration Harry asked Dobby if there were a place that 28 students could practice DADA without Umbridge knowing. The elf beamed as he described the "Room of Requirement" that is sometimes there and sometimes not. "A person can only enter," he said, "when they have real need of it… when it appears it is always equipped fro the seeker's needs." Dobby said he had used it to hide Winky when she was drunk and Filtch has found extra cleaning supplies there. Harry remembered Dumbledore telling him about finding a room full of chamber pots when he needed them. Dobby told Harry how to get into it whenever he needed by walking past it three times thinking hard about what you need. The next day, when Angelina cancelled practice because of the hail storm, Harry told her the first meeting of their club would be at "8 o'clock on the 7th floor across from the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy being clubbed by the trolls." True-to-form Hermione voiced opposition of any room found by the unsafe Dobby.

Harry used the Marauders Map to see that Filtch, Mrs. Norris and Umbridge were out of the way before they opened the room to find it full of everything they could ever need to study DADA. Hermione was ecstatic about the hundreds of leather bound books. Everyone was astonished by the room. As Harry started, Hermione interrupted by suggesting that they elect a leader and Harry should be it… "just to make it official." They she interrupted again to suggest they have a name for the group. They all settled on the Defense Association (D.A.) but it was changed to mean "Dumbledore's Army." When Harry said he wanted to start with the basics and mentioned Expelliarmus Zacharias Smith ridiculed him until Harry said: "I've used it against Voldemort," which put him in his place. They divided into pairs. Neville was odd-man-out and had to partner with Harry. Fred and George kept surreptitiously jinxing Zacharias behind his back. There was a lot of shoddy spell work and most couldn't even do the basics. Neville was excited that he finally accomplished it. As Harry walked around the room he found that Cho was disobeying her parents prohibitions against antagonizing Umbridge but that Luna's father supported their meeting. They had to hurriedly exit when Harry realized that it was already ten past nine, their curfew. While Ron and Hermione argued all the way back to their tower Harry was in reverie about how Cho had told him that he made her nervous by watching her.

The Lion and the Serpent
With the secret of DA inside him, Harry felt he could even smile a little now when he looked into Umbridge's evil bulging eyes. The meetings were successful for even Colin and Neville were accomplishing things they hadn't done before and Hermione had devised a communication system using magical coins. She had placed a highly advanced protean charm on fake galleons that got hot as the writing on them changed to match the "master" coin that Harry changed with the next meeting date and time. The N.E.W.T. level charm made her need to explain that the sorting hat had deliberated putting her into Ravenclaw to assuage their disbelief. And "Yes," she admitted aside to Harry, "I got the idea" from the Dark Mark Voldemort uses; but, I didn't want to use our skin. "I like it better this way," was all Harry said. Approaching the first match with Slytherin, Quidditch became the schools obsession. Practices increased, Ron really improved, Fred and George considered admitting he was their brother, McGonagall assigned less homework and Snape turned a blind eye to the Slytherin's open attacks on team members. There was snow on the mountains the day of the game and Ron was nearly as white with an attack of anxiety. He had never overcome his fear of ridicule and the Slytherin's now had magical badges, in the shape of crowns, which said "Weasley is our king." They used them to match their song they loudly sang about him being "born in a bin" and "letting the Quaffle in," among other things. Luna made a hat like a lion's head which actually roared when Gryffindor made a goal. Any confidence that Ron had evaporated. Even the good luck kiss Hermione gave him didn't hold for long and he missed goal after goal until the score was 40 to 10 for Slytherin and they were singing louder than ever. Harry spotted the snitch a split second before Malfoy, chased it neck and neck, then grabbed it as Malfoy's fingers scratched at the back of his hand and he was hit in the back by a bludger from Crabbe. Harry survived the high speed tumble from his broom but was then barraged by unrelenting "sour-grapes" sarcasm from Malfoy. Harry restrained George, and three others restrained Fred, while Malfoy insulted the Weasley home, and parents; but, unconsciously let him go when Malfoy said the Weasley's "pig-sty" was like Harry's own dead parents. Without thinking, they were both pummeling Malfoy, Madame Hooch was jinxing them away and Crabbe was cackling in the background.

The two were marched to McGonagall's office and had just begun receiving a tongue-lashing and detentions from her when the increasingly familiar "hem, hem" of Umbridge interrupted saying she thought McGonagall might like help with "a little more authority." When McGonagall first put her in her place then had to, again, tell her that it "wasn't her opinion that mattered," Umbridge whipped out another "decree" from Fudge. She cited that, after McGonagall had over-rode her decision not to allow Gryffindor to play by going to Dumbledore, she had Fudge give her the power to "strip students of their privileges" to make her more powerful than "just common teachers." She read the decree which gave her "supreme authority" over all punishments including over-riding those of other professors. "So," she said, "I will have to ban these two from playing Quidditch ever again… ever again… lifelong ban…." Then, as an afterthought, she banned Fred as well, and confiscated all of their broomsticks into her office so they could not even fly again, before leaving the office with a satisfied grin. Angelina and the team were devastated over the unfairness, especially since they heard the Slytherin's gloating that Crabbe had only received "lines" for punishment. Fred accepted his absentia punishment stoically saying "I would have pounded the little scumbag to a pulp if you three hadn't been holding me back." Exasperatedly everyone began going up to bed leaving Harry, Hermione and the snitch, that he had kept in his hand, flying around the common room. Ron, who had been absent since the game, finally came through the portrait hole covered with snow, and advised that: he had been out walking, and had decided that playing Quidditch was a mistake and that he was going to resign. Hermione then recounted the whole story and, while Harry and Ron were commiserating, she walked to the window and noticed that Hagrid was back.

Hagrid's Tale
Harry sprinted to the dormitory for his invisibility cloak and map and they were out to Hagrid's hut in a flash. He said he had only been home "three seconds" and let them. Hermione involuntarily screamed when she saw how bloody and bruised he was but he claimed "it's nuthin'" before he slapped a raw-bloody, green-tinged piece of dragon meat on his face with obvious relief. They had to pry the fact that he had been to the giants out of him at first; but, he got warmed up and told them the whole story. He and "Olympe- Madame Maxime to you" set off to find the Giants under Dumbledore's orders after term ended. Using stealth, they threw their ministry spy off their trail and didn't use magic so as not to attract notice of Death Eaters who were probably there too. Where there had once been hundreds of tribes of them, they found the last group of about 80 in the mountains led by their Gurg, the chief, Karkus. They "are not meant to be bunched together like that," Hagrid said, so they have been slowly killing themselves off. As Dumbledore had instructed them, they waited till morning then boldly walked down the mountainside to the giants camp holding their gift up high and looking only at the Gurg. They gave the Gurg a branch of Gubraithian Fire which Dumbledore had bewitched to burn evermore and said it was a gift from "Albus Dumbledore who sends respectful greetings- and wanted him to talk to his messenger when he returns tomorrow with another gift." Dumbledore had said to take it slow, build their confidence and show the giants that they could be trusted. Giants hate magic, when it's used on them, Hagrid said, and "overload em' with information an' they'll kill yeh jus' to simplify things." The next day they gave Karkus a goblin-made, indestructible, battle helmet and sat for awhile and talked to those who could speak English. Karkus had heard that Dumbledore had argued against killing of the last giants in Britain and agreed to hear them again the next day, but things went wrong. A fight broke out amongst the giants and the next morning Karkus's head was lying on the bottom of the lake; and, they had to speak with the new Gurg, Golgomath, a massive, black-haired (and teeth) giant wearing a necklace of human-looking bones. When Hagrid gave him the roll of dragon skin as a gift, Golgomath had two of his mates grab Hagrid by the feet into the air. Madame Maxime was just able to save Hagrid by using magic but that prevented them from ever coming back. They watched from a cave as Golgomath spoke with some Death Eaters, led by McNair.

By night, Hagrid and Maxime went looking in caves for giants who were being beat up by Golgomath. They began teaching a wounded group of seven until Golgomath raided the caves one night and the giants that survived would no longer speak to them. So, they didn't convince any giants to come to Dumbledore's side but "perhaps," he said, "some of 'em will remember" were friendly and get tired of Golgomath. Hermione asked Hagrid if he had found his mother. "She died years ago," he said, "they told me." Just as Harry was beginning to demand knowing how Hagrid had been "beaten up" Umbridge came knocking at the door. The three hid under the invisibility cloak while she tried to interrogate Hagrid about where he had been. She wasn't convinced that the voices she heard had only been Hagrid talking to Fang and that he knew nothing about the three sets of footprints leading through the snow to the cabin but not going away. She was even less convinced that his cuts and bruises were from "tripping" or that he had been away to the seaside for his health "an' a bit o' fresh air." Frustrated, she said that she would "tell the minister" about his late arrival and be inspecting his class. She said that "the minister is determined to weed out unsatisfactory teachers" before leaving. The three tried to convince Hagrid that he should not do anything in his Care of Creatures class that would upset Umbridge. He ignored them and said that he had save something special for their O.W.L. year then had them leave. Hermione said that she would go back the next day and try and convince him. "I'll plan his lessons for him, if I have to," she said, "I don't care if she throws out Trelawney but she's not taking Hagrid."

The Eye of the Snake
Hermione tramped through the snow the next day to Hagrid's cabin but he wasn't there at first. He came out of the forest thirty minutes later claiming that he had "a surprised for them" in there. When she got back, she told Harry and Ron that she had tried to explain about Umbridge "but he just doesn’t get it!" Tuesday, worrying about how Malfoy and others would treat him in front of Umbridge, they traipsed into the forest with Hagrid for their lesson. His bruises and cuts didn't look like they were healing and he carried half a dead cow over his shoulder. Hagrid said that he was "probably the on'y person in Britain who's managed ter train 'em," that he'd been "savin' 'em for their fifth year" and that they were "really rare." All the Malfoy could say was a fearful "what prefers the dark…?" Hagrid put his head back and called "them" with a screech like a bird and Harry finally saw the black, dragon-faced, winged horses emerge from the forest. Hagrid explained that they were Thestral's which could only been seen by people who had seen death-- like Harry, Neville and a skinny Slytherin boy. The male named Tenebrus began Hogwarts herd with five females, they pulled the carriages and Dumbledore rode them on long journeys because, with their amazing sense of direction, riders merely had to tell them where they wanted to go. True to form, Umbridge interrupted the class with her "hem, hem" then proceeded to "railroad" Hagrid with her rude interruptions, evil misrepresentations and blatant lies which she didn't even have the courtesy to keep silent. She vocalized what she wrote on her clipboard to the amusement of the Slytherin's so that Hagrid could hear. Hermione called her an awful, twisted, vicious, foul, lying, evil hag who was "continuing her thing about half-breeds all over again" and trying to make Hagrid appear like "some kind of dim-witted troll, just because he had a giantess for a mother." She told Harry that she "wished she could see them" until he brought her to reality by asking "do you?" When Malfoy came up behind them to taunt them some more, Hermione just reminded everyone to "ignore him" as she used her wand to produce hot air and melt a path for them to the greenhouses. For their last DA meeting before Christmas, Dobby had decorated the room of requirement with a banner: "Have A Very Harry Christmas," which luckily Harry spotted and removed before the other members arrived. Angelina said Harry had been replaced as seeker by Ginny Weasley. Everyone, including Neville, had really improved and could do impediment jinx's and stunning spells. Cho, thrilled Harry by holding back after the meeting to talk to him. However, she pretty much just cried and wanted to talk about Cedric. When he tried to leave, she told him that he was a "good teacher" and "really liked him" then maneuvered him under the mistletoe to kiss him.

Delayed by Cho for 30 minutes, he returned to the common room flummoxed; but, Hermione seemed to already know that Cho had "cornered him" and kissed him. He underwent ribbing from Ron when he said that Cho was crying; but, Hermione revealed that she "spends half her time crying these days." She explained Cho's conflicted feelings about Harry and Cedric to them and suggested Harry "see her again." When Ron started in again, she observed that "Harry's liked her for ages" and only distracted Ron by admitting that the letter she was writing was to Viktor Krum. Ron obsessed about Viktor all the way into the dormitory and into bed. Harry dozed into an unusual dream involving Cho which was interrupted by an even more odd "vision" about being a snake going down a long corridor, seeing a drowsy man in front of a door, and biting him three times with his long fangs. Blood was spurting on the floor and his scar was burning hot as he awoke with a scream. He saw that Ron was standing over him then retched over the side of the bed in pain. In panic he tried to make Ron understand that his dad had been attacked. Neville went for help and when McGonagall arrived she merely said "I believe you… were going to see the headmaster."

St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
Harry was so anxiously confused about experiencing the event in the "first person" (as though he was the snake) that he was gratefully relieved not to be put through a grilling before getting to see Dumbledore. McGonagall merely said "Weasley, you ought to come too." Silently they went through the corridors and, using the password, they were allowed through the wall - guarded by the gargoyles, onto the upwardly moving stone staircases - like an escalator, and found themselves outside the polished oak door of the headmasters office. When McGonagall knocked, the sound of conversation inside the office abruptly stopped and the door opened of its own accord. Harry took issue of how McGonagall was presenting it to Dumbledore so was allowed to tell the story himself. Without looking directly at Harry, Dumbledore only asked from what viewpoint he saw the scene. When Harry replied "the snakes" Dumbledore stood so quickly it made him jump. Dumbledore immediately dispatched Everard and Dilys, two of the former headmasters in the paintings (who had been feigning sleep), to go to their other portraits and raise the alarm. He then awoke Fawkes and sent it in a flash of fire to keep a lookout for Umbridge and give them a warning; before, he retrieved a fragile silver instrument onto his desk and started it clinking and puffing smoke. The smoke turned into a writhing snake to which Dumbledore muttered to himself "naturally, naturally… but in essence divided." It then immediately split into two snakes intertwining on each other and with a grim look of satisfaction Dumbledore tapped it with his wand to shut it off. Everard returned from the ministry with word that Mr. Weasley had been found by the watchman and taken to St. Mungo's Hospital. Dilys returned shortly afterward saying that he had arrived at the hospital and "looked bad." Dumbledore sent McGonagall to retrieve the other Weasley children then retrieved an old kettle and, tapping it with his wand, muttered Portus. He was able to "awaken" Phineas Nigellus in his portrait and, with some shaming from Armando Dippet about how the portraits were honor-bound to give service to the present headmaster of Hogwarts, had him go to his other portrait in Sirius' house and advise that he would be having visitors. When the Weasley children arrived, Dumbledore didn't have opportunity to explain before a flash of flame left a single golden feather floating in the office. Umbridge "knows you are out of your beds" he said as he dispatched McGonagall to "head her off." They all touched the kettle port-key. As Dumbledore counted "one, two…" Harry caught his eye for a fleeting second and his scar burned as though it had newly burst open along with a powerful hatred and desire to strike at the old man before him. "…Three," Dumbledore finished and they were jerked into a whirl of colors before crashing into the ground in Sirius' basement kitchen. They heard Kreachur mutter "the blood traitor brats are back again" as he exited the door at Sirius' command.

Fred and George were very angry and demanded Harry tell them everything. Then they said "we don't give a damn about the Order" when Sirius tried to convince them not to rush right over to the hospital. "That's why you aren't in the Order," he told them, "your parents understand that there are things worth dying for!" Ginny was the one to talk some calm into them and they all sat lost in their own thoughts until Fawkes transmitted a message from Mrs. Weasley saying that their dad was "still alive" and they were to stay where they were until she sent more news. Finally, in the early morning she arrived with news that he was going to be alright. Despite trying to avoid it, Harry was hugged by Mrs. Weasley who was effusive with gratitude. He asked to speak, alone, to Sirius and recounted everything including how he "was the snake and his flash of intense anger toward Dumbledore." Sirius downplayed any significance telling him that his worries must just be because he needed sleep. Everyone went up to sleep except that Harry deliberately kept himself uncomfortable so he wouldn't fall asleep and run the risk of "becoming the snake again" and biting Ron or someone. Tonks and Mad-Eye arrived to escort them through London to the hospital. Tonks mused at Harry that it "probably wasn't prophecy" that he was doing, "it was more like the present… odd, but useful." Outside an old-fashioned red brick building, which was "closed for refurbishment," Tonks spoke through the window to an ugly mannequin who nodded and beckoned them forward. They all just stepped through the glass and found themselves in a crowded reception area full of witches and wizards, some with gruesome disfigurements, who were surrounding a plump witch at a desk answering inquires. Ron told Harry that the people in the green robes with an emblem were NOT doctors but "healers." They passed a large portrait of Dilys Derwent who had been a healer before she became Headmistress at Hogwarts (1741-1768). She seemed to count the group and gave Harry a wink before leaving her portrait, probably to inform Dumbledore. They read a sign describing the contents of each of the building's six floors while a wheezy old man told the information witch that he was "there to see Broderick Bode." Then the witch told them that Mr. Weasley had been placed in the Dai Llewellyn ward for "dangerous, serious bites." Mr. Weasley was in a ward with a woman who wouldn't tell anyone what bit her and a man bitten by a werewolf. He said that he felt fine except that when they take the bandages off his wounds keep bleeding so there must have been poison in the fangs. When Fred and George got too nosey, Mr. Weasley tried to change the subject by saying that Willy Widdershin had been behind the muggle-baiting regurgitating toilets and had been arrested but "for some reason had gotten off." The kids had to leave so the adults could speak in private; but, Fred and George had brought some pairs of their "extendable ears" which they slipped under the door. They all were listening and overheard: "couldn't find the snake… HE must have sent it on ahead… Dumbledore has been waiting for Harry to see something like this… there's something funny about the Potter kid… Dumbledore seemed worried about Harry… of course he's worried, the boy is seeing things from inside Voldemort's snake… Potter doesn't realize what that means, but if Voldemort is possessing him…." Harry pulled out the extendable ear only to see that all those around him… were looking fearful!

Christmas on the Closed Ward
Left now to his own thoughts, Harry thought he understood why Dumbledore had painstakingly avoided even making eye contact with him all this time. It made sense to him, now, that everyone was thinking he could be taken over by Voldemort who was looking for something that he didn't have last time… a weapon… HIM! He felt contaminated and unclean and, agreeing with Mrs. Weasley's solicitous comment about "not looking well," he went alone up to his room. Nothing seemed to make sense to him except that he was putting everyone in danger by being there so he began packing which inflicted on him an insulting conversation with Phineas Nigellus from inside his portrait on the wall. "Running away are we? I thought Gryffindor's were supposed to be brave… oh, this is no cowardly flight, you are being noble." He gave Harry a terse message from Dumbledore: "stay there," which threw him into a not-unreasonable tantrum. "Dementor's… stay put, let the grown-ups sort it out; we won't tell you anything... because your little brain couldn't handle it!" he expelled. Nigellus couldn't resist another chance for a backhanded observation to put Harry in his place. "That's why I loathed teaching… students convinced that they are right about everything," he challenged. "Have you even considered, you poor puffed-up popinjay, that there might be a reason the Headmaster is not confiding every detail of his plans to you? Have you never pauses, while feeling hard-done-by, to note that following Dumbledore's advice has never led you into harm? No, you are quite sure you alone recognize danger, you alone are clever enough to realize what the Dark Lord is planning." He then strolled into his frame and out of sight. He sat sulking on his bed until unintentionally drifting into a dream of going down the dark corridor again reaching a black door which he couldn't open to get what he desperately wanted on the other side… a prize beyond his dreams. Ron's voice from a distance startled him awake with "dinners ready but you can stay in bed if you want." Convinced that Ron wouldn't come in because he was afraid of him he decided he would "not inflict his company on any of them" and turned on his side to sleep. In the middle of the night he awakened to find Ron sleeping deeply in the other bed and Nigellus back in his portrait "keeping watch" on him. In addition to aching with hunger he felt unclean and thought he might be better off at Privet Drive. The next day he sat in solitude in the drawing room while everyone hung Christmas decorations. He again ignored Mrs. Weasley's calling his name up the stairs around lunch time.

That evening he heard the doorbell ring and Mrs. Black's portrait start screaming. A few moments later Hermione banged on his door demanding that he come out. She said Umbridge was livid that they had disappeared right under her nose and took him back to his room where Ron and Ginny had sandwiches. They badgered him into blurting out that they had been avoiding him because he was possessed. Ginny called that stupid because she was the only person he knew who actually knew what it felt like to be possessed. He had to admit that he had never "blacked out" for periods of time and that he never actually physically left his bedroom during the "dream." He swelled with relief to realize that he was not the weapon after all. They exchanged Christmas gifts and he received a defensive DADA book from Sirius and Lupin for his D.A. activities. Sirius was ebullient to have company for the holidays and went about singing. Characteristically, Hermione made a present for Kreacher; but, no one had seen the elf since Sirius told him to "get out" of the kitchen. Harry had to enlighten Sirius that house elves can leave the house if they want to, because Dobby did. They had to leave the present in his "nest" under the boiler in the closet along with all the other "trinkets" that Kreacher had "rescued" from Sirius's purge of the house, including a photo of Bellatrix Lestrange. Percy sent his present back without a note or query about his father, which made his mother cry. Mundungus and Tonks showed up to escort them to the hospital where they found Mr. Weasley feeling well and sitting up in bed reading. His response to his wife's query about why his bandages had been changed a day early made the rest of them want to go get some tea. "What do you mean, stitches?" she wailed at him as they left the room. They were waylaid in the stairwell of the closed ward by none other than their old professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, who was forcing some autographs on them until the healer found them. She took them inside as she finished distributing Christmas gifts. As she delivered a small ugly plant with tentacles to Bode, she told them that he was making real progress and beginning to talk- a language that no one knew. They also unexpectedly ran into Neville and his grandmother who were visiting his parents. When Ron seemed surprised and asked Neville if they were his parents down at the end of the room, his grandmother chastised Neville for "being ashamed" of them. She didn't seem to listen when Neville weakly responded that he "wasn't ashamed" and almost haughtily exclaimed that they had been tortured into insanity by Voldemort's followers. They were interrupted by Mrs. Longbottom who had come to absentmindedly give Neville a gum wrapper. His grandmother told him to throw it away but Neville folded it and put it in his pocket as a precious gift. As the Longbottom's left the others stood dumfounded and said they "never knew." "I did," Harry told them, "that's what Bellatrix Lestrange got sent to Azkaban for."

Sirius found Kreacher in the attic covered with dust. He said he had been looking for "treasures" but Harry thought the elf seemed in a better mood afterward, with less mutterings. Sirius gave way to "fits of the sullens" as the vacation drew to a end. For the first time in his life Harry wasn't looking forward to returning to Hogwarts and submitting to the tyranny of Dolores Umbridge. In fact, had it not been for the D.A. he would have begged Sirius to let him stay. Then Snape came to have a word with Harry and inform him that Dumbledore wanted him to teach Harry "Occlumency" (blocking of the mind) to prevent "Legilimency" (ability to extract feelings and memories from another person's mind). Snape was his usual arrogant, abusive self, basically calling Sirius a coward and Sirius asked how he was doing as Lucius Malfoy's "lap dog." The argument escalated into a duel which was timely interrupted by the return home of Mr. Weasley. As he was leaving back to school, Sirius gave Harry a package the size of a paperback book and said it was a way of letting him know if Snape was giving him a hard time. Harry feigned agreement but decided he would never use it. As Tonks and Mad-eye led them away, Sirius gave Harry a one armed hug and said "look after yourself." Tonks held up her wand arm and BANG the night bus appeared. Then, with another BANG, it was gone, back to Hogwarts. Lupin, who had accompanied them, took Harry aside and said that "they all, including Sirius" wanted him to learn Occlumency so he "could protect himself." And Snape, he said, was a superb Occlumens. He spent most of the first day back dreading the evening and Snape's private lesson. He was supposed to tell anyone who asked that he was having "remedial potion lessons," and, of course, it was Zacharias Smith! He did meet Cho in the hall and fumbled with embarrassment as she manipulated an invitation to go with him on the Valentine's Hogsmead visit.

When he appeared for his lesson he noticed Dumbledore's Pensieve on Snape's desk. Snape used the opportunity to verbally abuse and malign Harry, forcing him to call him "professor" or "sir" instead of answering Harry's questions. He explained that time, distance and eye-contact was important to Legilimency and it wasn't the same as "reading minds." "Voldemort,: he said, almost always knows if someone is lying." He said that there was some kind of connection forged between Harry and Voldemort; and, when his mind was vulnerable (like being asleep or relaxed) Harry was sharing Voldemort's thoughts and emotions. Harry asked why Dumbledore wanted it stopped because "it had been useful." A long time in answering, Snape finally said that Voldemort hadn't known of Harry's ability until recently and that he had "visited the snake because that was where Voldemort was at the time." Snape refused to say how they knew that Voldemort was aware; but, that Voldemort could use it in reverse and "might make him do things." Snape withdrew three of his own memories into the Pensieve for safe keeping then told Harry to "get ready." He merely told Harry to use his wand in any way he could think of to resist the curse then pointed his wand and said "Legilimens." Harry immediately began seeing image after image in his mind like vivid flickering film. At five he saw Dudley with a new bike and he was jealous; at nine a bulldog chased him up a tree with the Dursley's laughing; the sorting hat told him he would do well in Slytherin; Hermione was in the hospital wing; Dementor's were chasing him; and, Cho was getting close to him under the mistletoe. With that, a voice said "NO" in his head and he found himself on the floor; but, Snape was rubbing his wrist from a stinging hex Harry had used unintentionally. Snape had seen the dog and other flashes and insisted they go again. He belittled him for "not clearing his mind" and "not letting go of emotion" but didn't tell him how before he said "Legilimens" again. Harry was fighting a black dragon, watching his mother in the Mirror of Erised, seeing Cedric's blank eyes… NOOOO he shouted and was on his knees again. Snape's ridicule only got more intense and told him that he would find himself easy prey for the Dark Lord because he was a "fool who wore his heart proudly on his sleeve," and "wallowed in sad memories, allowing themselves to be provoked so easily." Again, before Harry was ready, he called Legilimens and Harry's mind began swimming with Uncle Vernon nailing the letterbox shut, Dementor's drifting across the lake toward him, running down the corridor with Mr. Weasley toward the black door expecting to go through it but Mr. Weasley led him off to the left down the stairs… I KNOW! I KNOW! He cried and was on the floor again with his scar prickling unpleasantly but Snape had lifted the curse himself without Harry's resistance. Harry asked "what's in the department of mysteries" which unsettled Snape. Instead of answering he said that he wanted Harry back again next Wednesday and he was to practice clearing his mind of emotion before sleep every night. He made a beeline to tell Hermione and Ron that "the weapon" Voldemort wanted was in the Department of Mysteries. Hermione said "of course" it made sense because it was probably the door Sturgis Podmore was trying to get through. Back at the common room seeking quiet, all they found was shrieks of laughter as Fred and George demonstrated their new "headless hats." When you put them on your head disappears down to your neck- which, as Hermione said, is "a good bit of magic." Feeling sick, he couldn't do any homework; but, going up to bed his scar pain was so severe "he thought someone had sliced into the top of his head." He heard maniacal laughter then told Ron that Voldemort was "really happy about something that he has been hoping for happening." He felt that Snape's Legilimency had weakened his minds resistance instead of strengthening it.

The Beetle at Bay
Harry had only until the Daily Prophet was delivered the next day to find out why Voldemort was so happy. Ten prisoners, all former death eaters, had escaped from Azkaban and the Dementor's had defected. Of course, Fudge blamed it all on complicity from Sirius Black. The paper also announced that Broderick Bode had been strangled to death in the hospital by a plant, Devil's Snare, which had been a Christmas gift. Harry remembered that he had met Bode outside the Department of Mysteries on the day of his hearing. Hermione jumped up and ran to send a letter without telling anyone what she was doing. In passing, Hagrid told them that he had been placed on probation by Umbridge. By the next morning Umbridge had passed another decree (#26) which banned any teacher from telling students anything that wasn't related to their subjects they were paid to teach. Some students considered it a joke until Lee Jordan tried to use it against Umbridge herself when she told Fred and George off for something unrelated to the dark arts (which she was paid to teach) and got razor quill detention. Harry recommended essence of murtlap for his bleeding. Instead of humbling Umbridge the breakout intensified her efforts to bring every aspect of life at Hogwarts under her personal control. She began nearly constant harassment of Hagrid and Trelawney, determined to achieve a sacking as soon as possible. The Death Eaters escape brought new life and intensity into the efforts of the D.A.- especially Neville! A change came over him in concentration and indifference to injuries and he was second, only to Hermione, in mastering the shield charm. Since Snape started meddling with his mind, his "reception" of Voldemort's moods escalated in frequency until his scar hardly ever stopped hurting. He felt like he was some sort of "aerial" tuned into Voldemort and he dreamed of the dark corridor and door every night. Unbelievable amounts of homework, secret D.A. meetings and Snape lessons made the time fairly scream by, until February 14th when he had his date with Cho in Hogsmead. At the last second, Hermione asked him to come to a meeting with her in the three broomsticks around noon and he could bring Cho with him if he must. Cho maneuvered him into Madame Puddifoots tea shop, all decorated with frills and bows reminding him of Umbridge's office. It seemed like she was expecting Harry to act like Roger Davies who was sitting at the table next to them and snogging his girlfriend non-stop. When he finally asked her to come with him to the three broomsticks, Cho seemed cold and began talking about how Cedric had brought her last year. She wouldn't stop talking about Cedric and burst into tears when he told her that he didn't want to talk about it. She eventually stormed out with everyone looking at them.

He met Hagrid in the pub and he wasn't much different than Cho. He refused to tell Harry where he was getting all the new bruises and with a tear in his eye tried to commiserate with him about both being orphans and about it "making a difference having a decent family" and that "families make a difference." To his surprise Hermione, Luna and Rita Skeeter were all sitting together at a table. Skeeter began her usual condescending gossip-mongering about Harry until Hermione put her in her place threatening to "call the deal off." The "deal," it turned out, was for her to write a "real, truthful" article about Harry which would be published by Luna's father in the Quibbler. She claimed that "it would never sell" because that not what people want to hear and finally admitted that Fudge had been "leaning on the Daily Prophet." With more arm twisting about revealing she was an unregistered animagus, Skeeter finally agreed to write the article and Harry gave her an interview with names, places and dates.

Seen and Unforeseen
Harry was ruminating about his interview with Skeeter when Cho walked into the dining hall and set with her back to him. Hermione noticed and asked about it, then exasperatedly chided him for his lack of "dating" skills. She explained how Cho had tried to make him jealous for his mentioning Hermione and how she was conflicted between her attraction to Harry and Cedric. Everyone, except Hermione who thought Quidditch caused unnecessary tension between the houses, was depressed at the dismal performance of the Gryffindor replacements. Then, to end the argument about it, she capped it off with "at least my happiness doesn't depend on Ron's goalkeeping ability." The game was mercifully short, 22 minutes, and only a 10-point loss due to Ginny's face-saving capture of the Snitch ending the game ended 240 to 230, Hufflepuff's favor. In Harry's misery Ginny reminded him that he was only banned for as long as Umbridge was in the school- which implied her faith that it wouldn't be long. Ron was in the corner "miserating" about his 14 missed saves and the fact that Angelina wouldn't let him resign. That night Harry's dream about the dark hallway and locked door changed. As he approached the door he just "knew" that he would make it through. It was ajar and he saw a faint blue light through the crack. As he put his hand out to open it, he was awakened by Ron's snoring… aaagh!

Next days, breakfast Owls brought him several puzzling letters until Luna told them that the Quibbler article had come out. "Harry Potter speaks out at last" it said. Everyone helped open the letters because Harry wasn't going to touch them. Some were for him and others against. Umbridge snuck up behind them and in her sickenly, falsely sweet, girlish voice demanded to know what was going on… so Harry told her. She blew up at him and pronounced another sentence on him of "permanent ban from Hogsmead, and week of detention." She also immediately issued another "Educational Decree" (27) prohibiting anyone from possessing or reading the Quibbler magazine-- which, of course, saw to it that everyone in school DID read it, but in secret. It made Umbridge a laughing-stock of the school and actually turned most of the school in Harry's favor- even Seamus. And of course, the names that Harry mentioned caused discussion and threats from Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle and Theodore Nott- all Slytherin's. The ensuing party in the Gryffindor common room made Harry exhausted by the time everyone had gone to bed. He undressed, fell asleep almost immediately, and dreamed about Voldemort being told, by the escaped Death Eater Rockwood, that Avery had misinformed him of how "the weapon" could be obtained. "That," he said, "is why Bode fought Malfoy's imperious curse so much, because he knew he could not have obtained it." Voldemort thanked Rockwood and said "send Avery to me." Alone, he turned and saw himself in the age-spotted mirror on the wall. A face whiter than a skull with red slits for eyes looked back at him! He screamed "NOOOO" which woke him up with Ron trying to extricate him from his bed-curtains. The next morning he told Hermione about it and understood that Malfoy had imperioused Bode while he was at the ministry during his trial, they had killed him because he was going to talk when he recovered, and had attempted to do the same thing to Sturgis Podmore but failed. Harry refused to tell Dumbledore about it because he felt guilty over not being able to use Occlumency as instructed. Even the back-of-his-mind wasn’t' the secure place it had once been because of Snape's Legilimency incursions.

Snape began his usual berating and demanded an explanation of Harry's Rockwood vision. "it is not your job to find out what Voldemort is telling his Death Eaters," Snape told him. Harry had had enough and shot back "no, that's your job, isn't it!" Taken back, Snape finally responded "yes, it is." But, the next time Snape attempted Legilimens, Harry was able to counteract it and at first saw Dementor's then Snape's face in front of him so he called "protego". Suddenly Harry began seeing Snape's memories! He saw the young Snape crying as his parents fought, all alone in his bedroom and a girl laughing at him while mounting a bucking broomstick. Snape said "enough" and Harry flew backwards into the wall. Snape called it "an improvement" then insisted they go again before Harry was ready. He was running along the corridor, reached the door, found it ajar and it flew open revealing a black-floored circular room lit with blue-flamed candles and many more doors all around. "Potter," Snape interrupted then began calling him "lazy and sloppy" and an easy prey for the "Dark Lord"… but Harry retaliated using Snape's own silky voiced techniques. "I've only heard Death Eaters call him that… why do you do it?" Before Snape could answer a woman screamed up in the entrance hall. They ran to see Trelawney crying in front of Umbridge who was sacking her. McGonagall attempted to comfort her by saying that she wouldn't have to leave Hogwarts but Umbridge challenged her authority to give that assurance. Dumbledore arrived to state that it was "under his authority" because Umbridge may sack someone but couldn't tell them to leave. Her face swelled to even more toad-like when Dumbledore surprised her that he had already found and appointed a new Divination teacher… Firenze, the centaur.

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