In Chapter 28, the D.A. members face the consequences of creating their group and Harry learns some information about Snape. Let’s go!
The very first thing we learn: Umbridge has been named as Headmistress of Hogwarts. What has everyone else in the school learned? That Dumbledore was able to escape Hogwarts even with Umbridge, Fudge, Percy and two Aurors trying to stop him. The other interesting thing is that Hogwarts itself doesn’t seem to happy about the change in leadership. The Head office has sealed itself and won’t open to Umbridge.
One thing that Umbridge has done out of spite (because that’s all she is) is recruiting students to help her keep an eye on the student body, and don’t you know who was smarmy enough to join up. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and a bunch of other Slytherins. They are now part of the Inquisitorial Squad. This means that they have authority from Umbridge to enforce rules and actually dock points from the Houses. Ernie Macmillan is particularly upset by this, but Malfoy was not bluffing. They watch as the House hourglasses change, all except Slytherin, which seems the same. Fred and George also comment on this situation.
“Anyway . . . we’ve decided we don’t care about getting into trouble anymore.”
“Have you ever?” asked Hermione.
“‘Course we have,” said George. “Never been expelled, have we?”
“We’ve always known where to draw the line,” said Fred.
“We might have put a toe across it occasionally,” said George.
“But we’ve always stopped short of causing real mayhem,” said Fred.
“But now?” said Ron tentatively.
“Well, now –” said George.
“– what with Dumbledore gone –” said Fred.
“– we reckon a bit of mayhem –” said George.
“– is exactly what our dear new Head deserves,” said Fred.
Yes!! Fred and George unleashed!! No longer restrained by any sort of obligation to appear to care about rules. This is going to be great. Fred announces that “phase one” is about to begin and it is in their best interest to head to the Great Hall so that they will have a clear alibi for when things go down. It’s really not a bad idea, guys.
Before they enter the Great Hall, Filch appears to summon Harry to Umbridge’s office. Filch is thrilled that they have a new Head. Umbridge is just the type of person Filch has always wanted in charge. He wants to be able to whip the students or to hang them by the ankles in his office. Umbridge has also indicated that she will get rid of Peeves, something Filch has wanted for ages. Actually, that one I can understand.
Harry enters Umbridge’s office and sits down. Umbridge smiles at him in that creepy, creepy way and asks him what he would like to drink. She is very insistent, so Harry agrees to a cup of tea, which he doesn’t drink at first until she mentions that he should drink. Personally, I wouldn’t ever drink anything this woman offers me, and Harry has a thought about Mad-Eye, who would have never, ever accepted a drink from this woman. He pretends to drink, but keeps his mouth tightly shut.
As soon as he drinks, Umbridge starts with her questions. The main thing she wants to know is where Dumbledore is. Harry answers that he has no idea, which is indeed the truth. Then Umbridge asks where Sirius Black is. She knows that Sirius had talked to Harry in the fire up in the common room, but thanks to Harry not drinking the truth potion that is undoubtedly mixed into the tea, he is able to answer that he doesn’t know where Sirius is. Thankfully, Umbridge is so confident in her trickery that she doesn’t suspect that Harry caught on.
“Very well, Potter, I will take your word for it this time, but be warned: The might of the Ministry stands behind me. All channels of communication in and out of this school are being monitored. A Floo Network Regulator is keeping watch over every fire in Hogwarts — except my own, of course. My Inquisitorial Squad is opening and reading all owl post entering and leaving the castle. And Mr. Filch is observing all secret passages in and out of the castle. If I find one shred of evidence . . .”
They are interrupted by a loud BOOM! I’ll get to that in a minute, but I have to wonder really quickly why Umbridge refused to have her own fireplace watched by the Floo Network Regulators. Did she want to be able to secretly communicate with someone? Who would that be? Or did she want Harry to hear that so that she could set him up for later? Questions that we may never know the answer to.
So back to the boom. Someone (or probably two identical someones) had set off a huge batch of magic fireworks. Not just normal fireworks. These are bouncing off walls, writing curse words in the air, and exploding all over the place. It’s absolutely brilliant. Umbridge tries to cast a Stupefy spell on one of them to try and take it out of commission, but instead, that makes it explode with even more force. Filch tries to bat at them with a broom, which only sets the broom on fire, while Harry takes off for a secret door he knows about behind a tapestry.
Which Fred and George are hiding behind. They are barely holding in their laughter. George says that if Umbridge tries to Vanish them, they will multiply tenfold. It’s sheer insanity all day long. The other teachers don’t seem to mind. Instead, they decide to lean into the craziness. Every time one of the fireworks ends up in their classroom, they summon Umbridge to deal with it.
The upshot of it all was that Professor Umbridge spent her first afternoon as headmistress running all over the school answering the summonses of the other teachers, none of whom seemed able to rid their rooms of the fireworks without her. When the final bell rang and the students were heading back to Gryffindor Tower with their bags, Harry saw, with immense satisfaction, a disheveled and soot-blackened Umbridge tottering, sweaty-faced from Professor Flitwick’s classroom.
“Thank you so much, Professor!” said Professor Flitwick in his squeaky little voice. “I could have got rid of the sparklers myself, of course, but I wasn’t sure whether I had the authority . . .“
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Bless Professor Flitwick! Just bless him!
Gryffindor celebrates that night in the common room. Fred and George introduce the fireworks as “Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-Bangs,” a new item that will be in their shop. Eventually. They used up all their stock for this particular incident, but you can always preorder! I am quite impressed by the twins’ business model. They’re quite good at this! What’s more, the celebratory air even has Hermione feeling rebellious enough to, get this, not do homework that night. Shocker!
Harry dozes off in his chair and has another dream about the corridor and the doors. He makes it through the first door into a circular room with lots of doors, then through another door into a room of rows and rows of shelves with weird glass balls. Harry tries to move forward, but wakes up when another firework explodes near him. He’s particularly worried since he has Occlumency lessons the next day.
The problem also is that Harry hasn’t been practicing at all, and he knows that Snape will be able to tell. The next day, Cho comes up to him to try and sort of apologize for Marietta giving them all up.
“She’s a lovely person really,” said Cho. “She just made a mistake –”
Harry looked at her incredulously.
“A lovely person who made a mistake? She sold us all out, including you!”
“Well . . . we all got away, didn’t we?” said Cho pleadingly. “You know, her mum works for the Ministry, it’s really difficult for her –”
“Ron’s dad works for the Ministry too!” Harry said furiously. “And in case you hadn’t noticed, he hasn’t got ‘sneak’ written across his face –“
That’s a fair point and it really makes me think less of Cho for trying to defend Marietta. Her friend almost got them all expelled. If Marietta had felt bad about the club, she could have just stopped coming and kept her mouth shut. The fact that they were able to get away, mostly, was pure luck. Cho makes a snide remark about Hermione’s trick with the jinxed parchment and the conversation pretty much falls apart there. I’m pretty sure Harry and Cho’s relationship, such as it was, is over now. And good riddance. He can do much better.
This means that Harry is already angry before he ever goes into Snape’s Occlumency lesson, which makes everything even worse. Right before they get started, Malfoy comes in. When he hears that Harry is in there for “Remedial Potions,” Malfoy is pretty darn happy about it. Malfoy is there to tell him that Montague, one of the Slytherin Inquisitorial Squad members that the twins had shoved into a vanishing cabinet, has reappeared inside a toilet and is very confused. Snape tells Harry that they will have his lesson the next night since Snape has to deal with this. Harry is quite pleased to hear this, obviously, and after Snape leaves with Malfoy, Harry really should have left too. But he didn’t.
Before each lesson, Snape has been removing memories from his head and storing them in Dumbledore’s Pensieve, which he is apparently borrowing. Obviously these are things that he doesn’t want Harry to accidentally see, so of course, Harry decides he wants to take a look. It would have been better for everyone if he hadn’t done this.
Snape’s memories. Harry sees Snape as a teenager sitting taking his O.W.L. tests, administered by Professor Flitwick. Wow, Flitwick has been there a while! Harry doesn’t pay much attention to Snape. He knows that if Snape is there, that means that his father, James Potter, is also there. He finds him instantly, since they do look so much alike. Harry also sees Sirius and Remus also sitting there, as well as Wormtail.
After the test is over, Harry follows them all out the doors. He sees Snape is walking away and worries that they will go in different directions, because since this is Snape’s memory, he won’t be able to follow the Marauders. They do seem to head in roughly the same direction, so Harry is able to listen into the Marauders’ conversation.
“Did you like question ten, Moony?” asked Sirius as they emerged into the entrance hall.
“Loved it,” said Lupin briskly. “‘Give five signs that identify the werewolf.’ Excellent question.”
“D’you think you managed to get all the signs?” said James in tones of mock concern.
“Think I did,” said Lupin seriously, as they joined the crowd thronging around the front doors eager to get out into the sunlit grounds. “One: He’s sitting in my chair. Two: He’s wearing my clothes. Three: His name’s Remus Lupin . . .”
James is acting goofy, playing with a Snitch that he had stolen. Sirius mentions that he is bored, and they soon see Snape not too far away. They immediately jump him, disarming him and then tormenting him. They are interrupted by a girl, Harry’s mother Lily Evans. She tells them off for attacking Snape after James flips Snape upside down in the air so that his robes fall down and show his underwear. They cast a few more jinxes before stopping. Snape, clearly embarrassed that he needed her help, calls her a Mudblood. That’s enough for Lilly to give up on him and leave, but not before James tries to ask her out on a date. Lilly clearly thinks he’s an arrogant jerk, which he is.
Before Harry can see too much more, the real adult Snape appears and pulls him out of the memory. To say that he’s angry is the biggest understatement in the history of understatements. He throws Harry across the floor and forbids him to tell anyone what he saw, and then tells him to get out and never come back. To be fair, I don’t see Harry ever telling anyone about this, even if Snape hadn’t known what Harry found. This memory is horrible and doesn’t exactly paint his father in a good light. Even to try and get revenge on Snape, I don’t think Harry would use this. He knows what it’s like to be bullied.
It also really hurts because this whole time, Snape has been saying that Harry’s father was a bad person, a supremely entitled brat, a rude and arrogant prick. Harry always denied this, assuming that Snape was just saying these things to hurt Harry, but now it looks like Snape was right all along.
See you next time for Chapter 29.