Harry looked up at Ron.
'How was practice?' asked Hermione rather coolly half an hour later, as Harry and Ron climbed through the portrait hole into the Gryffindor common room.
Ron laughed but Hermione looked upset.
Harry could not help giving her a faint smile and could have sworn he received one in return.
'No,' said Harry, ignoring Hermione's affronted look at being cut off in her defence of Kreacher. 'She's not letting us use magic at all!'
'I did it last time,' Ron protested, 'it's your turn, you tell me one.'
'Yeah,' said Ron, rubbing slightly bloodshot eyes and throwing his fifth spoiled bit of parchment into the fire beside them. 'Listen . . . shall we just ask Hermione if we can have a look at what she's done?'
' "That's how Dolores Umbridge came to be appointed to the teaching staff at Hogwarts," said Weasley last night. "Dumbledore couldn't find anyone so the Minister put in Umbridge, and of course, she's been an immediate success - " '
'Hem, hem,' said Professor Umbridge.
'I'm going to get started on some homework,' said Ron angrily and stomped off to the staircase to the boys' dormitories and vanished from sight. Hermione turned to Harry.
'So you haven't had any news about Hagrid, either?'
'I got a "P",' said Ron, ladling soup into his bowl. 'Happy?'
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.
'No,' said Hermione at once. 'Have you?'
She was humming and smiling to herself when they entered the room. Harry and Ron told Hermione, who had been in Arithmancy, exactly what had happened in Divination while they all took out their copies of Defensive Magical Theory, but before Hermione could ask any questions Professor Umbridge had called them all to order and silence fell.
'It is this last function that the Ministry has now formalised with the passing of Educational Decree Number Twenty-three, which creates the new position of Hogwarts High Inquisitor.
'Are you telling me,' she said, lowering her voice so that the group of curious Ravenclaws behind them could not hear, that after the warning I gave you last Monday you lost your temper in Professor Umbridge's class again?'
'What for?' said Harry angrily.
'Hem, hem,' said Professor Umbridge, employing the same silly little cough she had used to interrupt Dumbledore on the first night of term. Professor McGonagall ignored her. Seamus handed back Harry's essay; Harry took it without looking at him and saw, to his relief, that he had managed an 'A'.