'Hermione,' said Ron sharply, 'if you want to know what grades we got, ask.'
'Ron - '
Determined not to give Snape an excuse to tail him this lesson, Harry read and reread every line of instructions on the blackboard at least three times before acting on them. His Strengthening Solution was not precisely the clear turquoise shade of Hermione's but it was at least blue rather than pink, like Neville's, and he delivered a flask of it to Snape's desk at the end of the lesson with a feeling of mingled defiance and relief.
Professor Trelawney scowled at her, arms crossed and shoulders hunched as though wishing to protect herself as much as possible from the indignity of the inspection. After a slight pause in which she seemed to decide that the question was not so offensive that she could reasonably ignore it, she said in a deeply resentful tone, 'Nearly sixteen years.'
Ron unrolled the scroll and began to read. The further clown the parchment his eyes travelled, the more pronounced became his scowl. When he had finished reading, he looked disgusted. He thrust the letter at Harry and Hermione, who leaned towards each other to read it together:
Hermione was pointing to the nearest window. Harry and Ron both looked over. A handsome screech owl was standing on the windowsill, gazing into the room at Ron.
'It doesn't matter, pick any of them.' said Harry, chancing a glance behind him. Professor Umbridge was now standing at Professor Trelawney's shoulder making notes while the Divination teacher questioned Neville about his dream diary.
Harry made a non-committal noise in his throat.
'I think another week's detentions would do you some good, Mr Potter,' said Umbridge sleekly.
It may be that you are afraid to sever ties with Potter - I know that he can be unbalanced and, for all I know, violent - but if you have any worries about this, or have spotted anything else in Potter's behaviour that is troubling you, I urge you to speak to Dolores Umbridge, a truly delightful woman who I know will be only too happy to advise you.
'Good afternoon, Professor Trelawney,' said Professor Umbridge with her wide smile. "You received my note, I trust? Giving the time and date of your inspection?'
'You disagree?' she repeated.
But Professor Umbridge was not inspecting their History of Magic lesson, which was just as dull as the previous Monday, nor was she in Snape's dungeon when they arrived for double Potions, where Harry's moonstone essay was handed back to him with a large, spiky black 'D' scrawled in an upper corner.
There was a tiny pop, and the place where Sirius's head had been was flickering flame once more.
'You lot had an inspected lesson yet?' Fred asked them.
'Ah . . .' said Sirius, 'well, he was supposed to be back by now, no one's sure what's happened to him.' Then, seeing their stricken faces, he added quickly, 'But Dumbledore's not worried, so don't you three get yourselves in a state; I'm sure Hagrid's fine.'
'I doubt it,' said Sirius. 'I know her by reputation and I'm sure she's no Death Eater - '
'Well, now he's back it's bound to hurt more often,' said Sirius.