In Chapter 27, they get to know their new Divination teacher and see the end of their D.A. meetings. Let’s go!
Oh, the girls are so happy that Firenze is the new Divination teacher, particularly Parvati and Lavender. They think he is oh so handsome! They are still very sad for Professor Trelawney though, and brought her some flowers, which was very nice of them. Trelawney is very angry about how Umbridge treated her, and really, who can blame her. Hermione knows that this just the beginning.
“I’ve got a feeling Umbridge has only just started being horrible,” said Hermione darkly.
“Impossible,” said Ron, who was tucking into a large plate of eggs and bacon. “She can’t get any worse than she’s been already.”
“You mark my words, she’s going to want revenge on Dumbledore for appointing a new teacher without consulting her,” said Hermione, closing the newspaper. “Especially another part-human. You saw the look on her face when she saw Firenze . . .”
First things first: Ron, you should NEVER say things can’t get worse. That is just asking for trouble. Secondly, Hermione is absolutely right. Umbridge will want to get back at Dumbledore for defying her and making a fool of her in front of the school.
Harry, Ron, Parvati and Lavender head for their first Divination class with their new teacher. It’s in a new classroom (since Firenze wouldn’t be able to climb the ladder to Trelawney’s tower room). A classroom on the ground floor has been fixed up for him to resemble the forest. Firenze remembers meeting Harry back in Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, but the first thing Harry notices is a hoof-shaped bruise on Firenze’s chest.
Firenze welcomes the class to his classroom, set up to look like his natural habitat. He had originally wanted to hold class in the Forbidden Forest itself, but that is not an option since the herd of centaurs has banished him. They did not like the fact that he had agreed to work for Dumbledore. Seems that centaurs don’t think too highly of humans.
The lessons sound so beautiful and relaxing. Firenze makes it look like they are laying on the grass under the stars. As they watch the twinkling lights, Parvati starts telling Firenze what Trelawney had taught them about Astrology. Firenze has a different perspective.
“That,” said Firenze calmly, “is human nonsense.”
Parvati’s hand fell limply to her side.
“Trivial hurts, tiny human accidents,” said Firenze, as his hooves thudded over the mossy floor. “These are of no more significance than the scurryings of ants to the wide universe, and are unaffected by planetary movements.”
“Professor Trelawney –” began Parvati, in a hurt and indignant voice.
“– is a human,” said Firenze simply. “And is therefore blinkered and fettered by the limitations of your kind.”
Ouch. He’s blunt, that’s for sure. Parvati takes offense to this, as do several other students, but Firenze and the centaurs look at things in the long term. He tells them that sometimes it takes ten years to understand what the stars are telling them. He also tells them that humans are rarely good at this sort of thing, but even what the centaurs can learn is not a certainty. None of it is, and that’s kind of the point.
When the bell rings and the students get ready to leave, Firenze asks Harry to stay behind, and says that Ron can stay too. Firenze has a warning for Hagrid and wants Harry to give him the message. Whatever Hagrid is attempting, it isn’t working and he should abandon it. Otherwise, it could stir up a centaur battle, and no one wants that. He doesn’t give any hint as to exactly what Hagrid is attempting, but whatever it is, Hagrid should stop.
The problem is that now Umbridge is watching all of Hagrid’s lessons, and most likely Harry in particular, so Harry doesn’t have much of a chance to talk to Hagrid at all. He finally manages it, but Hagrid brushes off the warning. Harry is worried that now that Umbridge has sacked Trelawney, Hagrid is sure to be next, but Hagrid brushes that off as well and says that some things are more important than a job. He still won’t say what he is up to and he still looks pretty beat up, sporting two black eyes at the moment.
School in general is still stressful, leading up to their O.W.L. tests. Harry is living for their D.A. lessons, where they are finally working on Patronuses. A good idea, since Harry himself had been attacked by dementors. Cho’s Patronus is a swan, Hermione’s is an otter. Lavender, Neville and Seamus (at his first D.A. meeting) can still only produce silver vapor, but at least it’s a start.
They all stop when they see the door open and close by itself. It’s Dobby. He’s come to warn them that somehow, someway, Umbridge has found out where they are and is on her way. They all break out in a run for the door, Harry hoping that they will get away quickly. He is caught by a trip jinx, fired by Malfoy, and picked up by Umbridge, who leads him to Dumbledore’s office.
The office was full of people. Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk, his expression serene, the tips of his long fingers together. Professor McGonagall stood rigidly beside him, her face extremely tense. Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, was rocking backward and forward on his toes beside the fire, apparently immensely pleased with the situation. Kingsley Shacklebolt and a tough-looking wizard Harry did not recognize with very short, wiry hair were positioned on either side of the door like guards, and the freckled, bespectacled form of Percy Weasley hovered excitedly beside the wall, a quill and a heavy scroll of parchment in his hands, apparently poised to take notes.
The gang’s all here. This cannot be good. I really don’t know how Dumbledore can sit there so calmly. Fudge starts questioning Harry, asking him if he knows why he’s there. Harry starts to say yes, but then sees Dumbledore shake his head ever so slightly, and changes his answer to no. He doesn’t know why he’s there or what rules he supposedly broke. Umbridge says she will bring their “informant.” It’s Marietta, Cho’s friend from the D.A. meetings. Marietta is very distraught, not because she’s being questioned, but because her face has broken out with purple pustules spelling the word “sneak.” She had gone to Umbridge and ratted out the D.A., but once she started talking, her face broke out and she became to upset.
Fudge asks if there’s a counterjinx or something to fix it, so Marietta can calm down, but Umbridge grudgingly admits that they haven’t been able to fix it. Of course they haven’t! Hermione designed this! You think you can just undo something Hermione did? SHE’S SMARTER THAN YOU, DOLORES! This doesn’t completely deter Umbridge and she picks up the story.
She knows about the first meeting of the D.A. back in the Hog’s Head because someone else in the bar told her about it. She says that Harry’s purpose was to try and organize an illegal society, but Dumbledore stops her right there. At that time, Harry’s group, a simple Defense Against the Dark Arts study group, would not have been considered illegal because it was before the Ministry decree declaring groups as such. Any subsequent meetings would have been illegal, but they would need proof of other meetings occurring.
Umbridge claims that Marietta was there to confirm that, but Marietta is not talking. She seems terrified that anything she says will make her face look worse. Then, to Harry’s surprise, he feels something brush along side him, like a gust of air, and he sees Marietta shake her head no. Umbridge is taken aback.
“But there was a meeting tonight!” said Umbridge furiously. “There was a meeting, Miss Edgecombe, you told me about it, in the Room of Requirement! And Potter was the leader, was he not, Potter organized it, Potter — why are you shaking your head, girl?”
Well, usually when a person shakes their head,” said McGonagall coldly, “they mean ‘no.’ So unless Miss Edgecombe is using a form of sign language as yet unknown to humans –“
MINERVA MCGONAGALL GIVES ME LIFE!!!! I LOVE HER!!!!
Umbridge can’t stand being in this position of being ridiculed and starts shaking Marietta, but Kingsley stops her. Fudge continues the interrogation, talking about the meeting that night, the one they have definite proof of. Sadly, one of the Slytherins helping Umbridge found the list of names that they had all signed, implicating all the students involved. Fudge is immediately aghast that the name of the group is “Dumbledore’s Army.” Dumbledore immediately picks it up and says that yes, the group is his. He organized it, not Harry. He has been plotting against Fudge and Umbridge all along.
Harry tries to get him to stop, but Dumbledore has no interest in letting Harry take the blame. He also has no interest in getting arrested. He lets loose a silver streak of light, followed by another. Harry is pulled to the ground by McGonagall, who also protected Marietta. Whatever this spell was, it knocked out Fudge, Umbridge, Kingsley, the other Auror Dawlish, and Percy. Dumbledore says that he wished he hadn’t had to knock Kingsley out, but it would have looked suspicious if he hadn’t, and they need Kingsley to be able to stay at his post in the Ministry, for the Order’s sake.
Oh, and it was also Kingsley who quickly and quietly modified Marietta’s memory so that she couldn’t give them away. Before he leaves, Dumbledore tells Harry that he must learn Occlumency. It’s the most important thing. Before the others can wake up, Dumbledore grabs Fawkes’s tail and disappears. Fudge and Umbridge are both furious that he got away, but also baffled by how he did it. Fudge tells McGonagall that she had better watch herself and that she should send both students to bed immediately.
See you next time for Chapter 28!