In Chapter 26, the article is published. Oh boy. Let’s go!
I love that despite the seriousness of this whole situation, Luna isn’t sure when her dad will publish Harry’s interview. It might have to wait a bit.
Still, Harry doesn’t hold back. He tells Rita everything. His fellow Gryffindors are impressed and a little nervous about it, but Neville says it best: people need to know what Voldemort and his Death Eaters can do.
Hermione also interrogates Harry about his date with Cho once they see her enter the Great Hall. Harry tells her about what happened, and Hermione is rightly exasperated. She says that Harry shouldn’t have brought it up the way he did, but Harry doesn’t understand. Hermione had asked to meet, hadn’t she?
“You should have told her differently,” said Hermione, still with that maddeningly patient air. “You should have said it was really annoying, but I’d made you promise to come along to the Three Broomsticks, and you really didn’t want to go, you’d much rather spend the whole day with her, but unfortunately you though you really ought to meet me and would she please, please come along with you, and hopefully you’d be able to get away more quickly? And it might have been a good idea to mention how ugly you think I am too,” Hermione added as an afterthought.
“But I don’t think you’re ugly,” said Harry, bemused.
Basically, once Harry had mentioned Hermione, Cho started mentioning all the other boys in her life to make him feel jealous. Which didn’t work. It only made Harry confused (with Roger) and then sad/mad (with Cedric). He thinks she should have just asked if he liked her, but Hermione is right that girls don’t usually ask questions point blank like that. We hedge. Ron and Ginny show up, splattered in mud from Quidditch practice, and hear the end of this conversation. He suggests that Hermione right a book for boys to learn how to figure out what girls actually mean. That would only work if you could convince Ron or Harry to actually read a book, which since neither one of them have read Hogwarts: A History yet, clearly Hermione is not able to do.
Oh, and Quidditch is going terribly. After Ron and Ginny leave to get cleaned up, Fred and George come in and confirm how bad it is. They’ve been spying on practices and lament how bad the team will get trounced. Well, except for Ginny. Ginny is actually pretty good. How did she get so good? By breaking into the broom shed back home and borrowing her brothers’ brooms when they weren’t watching. She’s been practicing for years, a fact which George finds rather impressive.
Fred and George also mention that Quidditch was the main reason they had stayed at Hogwarts. Their new products are ready to roll, so why do they need their N.E.W.T. exams?
Their game against Hufflepuff is brutal, ending when Ginny catches the Snitch, so they only lose by ten points. Harry actually compliments her on it, which Ginny shrugs off.
“I was lucky,” she shrugged. “It wasn’t a very fast Snitch and Summerby’s got a cold, he sneezed and closed his eyes at exactly the wrong moment. Anyway, once you’re back on the team –”
“Ginny, I’ve got a lifelong ban.”
“You’re banned as long as Umbridge is in the school,” Ginny corrected him. “There’s a difference. Anyway, once you’re back, I think I’ll try out for Chaser. Angelina and Alicia are both leaving next year and I prefer goal-scoring to Seeking anyway.”
I really like this new, confident Ginny. She’s got skills and she’s not ashamed to say so. Ron is still feeling really bummed about all of this. That makes me sad. He should enjoy being on the Quidditch team, not feel like a complete loser. Fred and George even feel bad for him, so much so that they don’t even have the heart to tease him about it.
It also doesn’t help that during the match, Umbridge was sitting right in front of Harry and kept looking back at him and gloating. She is enjoying the fact that he has to watch his team lose.
That night, Harry has another dream about the door and the corridor, but this time the door is slightly open and he can see blue light coming from the other side of it. As he reaches for it, Ron snores really loud and wakes him up. Aw man, Ron!
The next morning, Harry gets some news. A bunch of news. Tons of news. His article in the Quibbler has been published and it is front page news. The other owls, dozens of them, are from readers. Luna comes over, quite pleased at how the article turned out. As far as the readers go, some are critical of Harry, but some believe him. They feel pretty good about it until Umbridge turns up and asks why he has so many letters. Harry has to explain what he did. After all, he won’t be able to keep this secret.
And he threw the copy of The Quibbler at her. She caught it and stared down at the cover. Her pale, doughy face turned an ugly, patchy violet.
“When did you do this?” she asked, her voice trembling slightly.
“Last Hogsmeade weekend,” said Harry.
“There will be no more Hogsmeade trips for you, Mr. Potter,” she whispered. “How you dare . . . how you could . . .” She took a deep breath. “I have tried again and again to teach you not to tell lies. The message, apparently, has still not sunk in. Fifty points from Gryffindor and another week’s worth of detentions.”
Even though he’s in trouble, I have to say it must have felt good knowing that he completely outsmarted her in this. His story is out there and there isn’t much she can do to stop it. Sure, she can punish him after the fact. Sure, she can try to ban The Quibbler from the school (which she does), but that will not stop people from reading it. In fact, as Hermione points out, banning copies at Hogwarts has only made sure that everyone will read it now. It’s also clear that more and more students are believing Harry’s story, and are taking action to make sure Umbridge can’t catch them with copies of the magazine.
I think my favorite part of this is how the teachers are reacting. They are not allowed to talk to their students about the article, thanks to Umbridge’s previous rule, but they have found other ways to express their feelings.
Professor Sprout awarded Gryffindor twenty points when Harry passed her a watering can; a beaming Professor Flitwick pressed a box of squeaking sugar mice on him at the end of Charms, said “Shh!” and hurried away; and Professor Trelawney broke into hysterical sobs during Divination and announced to the startled class, and a very disapproving Umbridge, that Harry was not going to suffer an early death after all, but would live to a ripe old age, become Minister of Magic, and have twelve children.
It’s not just the teachers either. Cho comes over to apologize to him and tells him that it was really brave to speak out the way he did. Another believer? Seamus. He knows Harry is telling the truth and even sent a copy of the magazine to his mom to try and convince her. The ones who aren’t particularly happy are the Slytherins. Harry knows why: he just named their dads as Death Eaters. Hermione is happy that the Slytherins can’t say one word about it, since to do so would be proof that they had read the article in the first place, which Umbridge has strictly forbidden. It’s perfect.
Harry’s dreams aren’t getting better though. After a celebration in the Gryffindor common room, he has a dream that night about where he is interrogating a man named Rookwood, who corrects him about how Bode (the guy who was killed by the potted Devils Snare) would not have been able to remove “it.” Harry’s voice sounds cold and cruel, not like his normal voice. He asks Rookwood to send Avery to him and when he turns towards a mirror, Harry sees Voldemort’s face staring back at him.
Harry wakes up screaming and tangled up in the bed curtains. Ron helps him out and is immediately scared that someone has been attacked again. They go over the dream and what they know. Rookwood is a Death Eater, one of the ones who escaped Azkaban. Bode had been put under the Imperius Curse to try and get something, which both boys guess is the weapon that Voldemort was supposedly looking for. They keep their voices down once Dean and Seamus come into the room, but Ron really wants Harry to go to Dumbledore. Harry still doesn’t want to tell anyone and blames the situation on his inability to learn Occlumency.
They tell Hermione the next day. As usual, she puts more pieces of this puzzle together than both boys do. They discuss the fact that Lucius Malfoy could easily have put Bode under the Imperius Curse since Malfoy has been skulking around the Ministry a lot lately.
“He was even hanging around that day I had my hearing,” said Harry. “In the — hang on . . .” he said slowly. “He was in the Department of Mysteries corridor that day! Your dad said he was probably trying to sneak down and find out what happened in my hearing, but what if –”
“Sturgus,” gasped Hermione, looking thunderstruck.
“Sorry?” said Ron, looking bewildered.
“Sturgis Podmore,” said Hermione, breathlessly. “Arrested for trying to get through a door. Lucius Malfoy got him too. I bet he did it the day you saw him there, Harry . . .”
Hermione also gets on Harry’s case about having the dream in the first place, since he should have been able to keep the dreams at bay with Occlumency. She makes him promise to practice a bit more.
He’s having a bad week, Harry is. He keeps getting bad grades, he worries about Hagrid getting fired, and he can’t stop thinking about that dream. He wants to talk to Sirius about it, but knows he can’t. He also knows that he can’t just hide his thoughts anymore, thanks to Snape and his Occlumency lessons. Snape sees the image of Harry’s dream about Rookwood and is furious that Harry hasn’t been able to get rid of the dreams after two months’ worth of lessons. Snape accuses Harry of liking having the dreams, that it makes him feel important.
“That is just as well, Potter,” said Snape coldly, “because you are neither special nor importan, and it is not up to you to find out what the Dark Lord is saying to his Death Eaters.”
“No — that’s your job, isn’t it?” Harry shot at him.
In fact, it is. But Snape doesn’t like being challenged like that, certainly not by Harry. They begin again, but this time Harry is able to keep Snape from seeing much, only hazy outlines. He is able to cast a Shield Charm, which causes the spell to reverse. Now Harry is seeing some of Snape’s memories, and Snape is too shocked to stop him. Harry sees Snape as a child watching his parents fight and as a teen getting teased about riding a broom before Snape finally pushes Harry out of his head. Although he admits that it is an improvement, Snape is not happy at ALL about Harry breaking into his head, and Harry knows the next volley will be worse.
Harry can’t defend himself this time. Snape sees the hallway, the door, the opening of the door into a circular room filled with blue-flamed candles and more doors — all things that Harry has been dreaming of. Snape is even angrier now, saying that Harry is obviously not working hard enough at stopping this. Harry comes back at him, asking why Snape calls Voldemort the “Dark Lord,” something he has only heard Death Eaters call him. Before their confrontation can go any further, they hear someone screaming and leave to check it out.
The screams are coming from the entrance hall, from Professor Trelawney in particular. It seems we now know which teacher is getting sacked first. She is shouting in protest that this can’t happen, she can’t leave. Hogwarts is her home and has been for sixteen years. Umbridge is there and is very nasty about it all.
“You didn’t realize this was coming? . . . Incapable though you are of predicting even tomorrow’s weather, you must surely have realized that your pitiful performance during my inspections, and lack of any improvement, would make it inevitable you would be sacked?”
It’s not so much that Umbridge is mean, although she is. She’s just so sadistic. She loves watching these people suffer under her authority, more than anything else. She revels in it. And I’m not trying to say that Trelawney is a good teacher by any means, but she doesn’t deserve this public shaming.
McGonagall goes to Trelawney to comfort her and promises her that she doesn’t need to leave Hogwarts. Umbridge immediately questions her how she can say that, but who’s authority, and turns out — it’s Dumbledore. Dumbledore arrives to say that yes, Umbridge has the right to fire a teacher, but she does not have the authority to banish Trelawney from the castle. He wants Trelawney to stay at Hogwarts as his guest.
Umbridge brings up the problem that what will happen once a new Divination teacher has been appointed and needs Trelawney’s rooms, but Dumbledore, smiling serenely the whole time, that this will not be a problem at all because the new teacher would prefer lodgings on the ground floor. But wait! Umbridge cites “Educational Decree Twenty-Two,” but Dumbledore points out that the wording of the decree says that the High Inquisitor can appoint a teacher only if the headmaster is unable to find one. And she won’t need to because Dumbledore has already taken care of that.
You can really see Dumbledore’s Wizangamot experience shining through here. He’d make an excellent lawyer.
The new Divination teacher? Firenze. A centaur. Exactly the type of person Umbridge would hate.
See you next time for Chapter 27!