He felt as though the memory of it was eating him from inside. He had been so sure his parents were wonderful people that he had never had the slightest difficulty in disbelieving the aspersions Snape cast on his father's character. Hadn't people like Hagrid and Sirius told Harry how wonderful his father had been? (Yeah, well, look what Sirius was like himself, said a nagging voice inside Harry's head . . . he was as bad, wasn't he?) Yes, he had once overheard Professor McGonagall saying that his father and Sirius had been troublemakers at school, but she had described them as forerunners of the Weasley twins, and Harry could not imagine Fred and George dangling someone upside-down for the fun of it . . . not unless they really loathed them . . . perhaps Malfoy or somebody who really deserved it .
'What sort of diversion is it?' asked Ron.
'I would also advise Transfiguration, because Aurors frequently need to Transfigure or Untransfigure in their work. And I ought to tell you now, Potter, that I do not accept students into my NEWT classes unless they have achieved "Exceeds Expectations" or higher at Ordinary Wizarding Level. I'd say you're averaging "Acceptable" at the moment, so you'll need to put in some good hard work before the exams to stand a chance of continuing. Then you ought to do Charms, always useful, and Potions. Yes, Potter, Potions,' she added, with the merest flicker of a smile. 'Poisons and antidotes are essential study for Aurors. And I must tell you that Professor Snape absolutely refuses to take students who get anything other than "Outstanding" in their OWLs, so - '
With the prospect of forcing entry into Umbridge's office ahead. Harry had never expected the day to be a restful one, but he had not reckoned on Hermione's almost continual attempts to dissuade him from what he was planning to do at five o'clock. For the first time ever, she was at least as inattentive to Professor Binns in
his own bat.' She sighed heavily. 'Anyway . . . a package just arrived, it's only just got through Umbridge's new screening process.'
'Dumbledore sacrificed himself to keep you in school, Harry!' whispered Hermione, raising her book to hide her face from
'I . . .'
'Pretty much,' said Harry, not looking at her.
'Leave him alone,' Lily repeated. She was looking at James with every sign of great dislike. 'What's he done to you?'
Loved it, said Lupin briskly. 'Give five signs that identify the werewolf. Excellent question.'
'Get out, get out, I don't want to see you in this office ever again!'
He had no desire at all to return to Gryffindor Tower so early, nor to tell Ron and Hermione what he had just seen. What was making Harry feel so horrified and unhappy was not being shouted at or having jars thrown at him; it was that he knew how it felt to be humiliated in the middle of a circle of onlookers, knew exactly how Snape had felt as his father had taunted him, and that judging from what he had just seen, his father had been every bit as arrogant as Snape had always told him.
'Were you?' said Professor McGonagall haughtily. 'Well, Potter,' she continued, as though there had been no interruption, if you are serious in this ambition, I would advise you to concentrate hard on bringing your Transfiguration and Potions up to scratch. I see Professor Flitwick has graded you between "Acceptable" and "Exceeds Expectations" for the last two years, so your Charmwork seems satisfactory. As for Defence Against the Dark Arts, your marks have been generally high, Professor Lupin in particular thought you - are you quite sure you wouldn't like a cough drop, Dolores?'
'Oh, hi,' said Harry, pulling his books towards him. 'How come you're not at practice?'
'Yeah, well, I don't blame you!' said Ron angrily, setting down his revision timetable. 'If it hadn't been for her . . .'
Behind him, the Impediment Jinx was wearing off. Snape was beginning to inch towards his fallen wand, spitting out soapsuds as he crawled.
'Easy,' said George.
'Oh, no, thank you very much,' said Umbridge, with that simpering laugh Harry hated so much. 'I just wondered whether I could make the teensiest interruption, Minerva?'
The silvery stuff within began to swirl very fast. Harry leaned forwards over it and saw that it had become transparent. He was, once again, looking down into a room as though through a circular window in the ceiling . . . in fact, unless he was much mistaken, he was looking down into the Great Hall.