'Well, better expelled and able to defend yourselves than sitting safely in school without a clue,' said Sirius.
'Wands away, please.'
'We could try the Fever Fudge,' George muttered, 'no one's seen that yet - '
There was another pause in which Crookshanks, mewing, attempted to paw Sirius's head, and Ron fiddled with a hole in the hearthrug.
He had no idea how he was going to see the Snitch in this weather; he was having enough difficulty seeing the one Bludger with which they were practising; a minute into the practice it almost unseated him and he had to use the Sloth Grip Roll to avoid it. Unfortunately, Angelina did not see this. In fact, she did not appear to be able to see anything; none of them had a clue what the others were doing. The wind was picking up; even at a distance Harry could hear the swishing, pounding sounds of the rain pummelling the surface of the lake.
Harry sat quite still, staring at his feet, allowing his mind and his memory to relax in the aftermath of the pain.
'No marks again, then, Potter,' said Snape maliciously, emptying Harry's cauldron with a wave of his wand. 'You will write me an essay on the correct composition of this potion, indicating how and why you went wrong, to be handed in next lesson, do you understand?'
'Never mind spots, the idiots can't come over here now, it'll look really suspicious - sit down!' she mouthed to Ernie and Hannah, gesturing frantically to them to rejoin the Hufflepuff table. 'Later! We'll - talk - to - you - later!'
Harry looked down; he was indeed squeezing his bullfrog so tightly its eyes were popping; he replaced it hastily upon the desk.
She turned away, walked over to Pansy Parkinson and began questioning her about the lessons. Snape looked round at Harry and their eyes met for a second. Harry hastily dropped his gaze to his potion, which was now congealing foully and giving off a. strong smell of burned rubber.
'Is this what it was about last time?' said Ron in a hushed voice. 'When your scar hurt in Umbridge's office? You-Know-Who was angry?'
'No, they can't have done, because I put a jinx on that piece of parchment we all signed,' said Hermione grimly. 'Believe me, if anyone's run off and told Umbridge, we'll know exactly who they are and they will really regret it.'
First, Fred would take a bite out of the orange end of a chew, at which he would vomit spectacularly into a bucket they had placed in front of them. Then he would force down the purple end of the chew, at which the vomiting would immediately cease. Lee Jordan, who was assisting the demonstration, was lazily Vanishing the vomit at regular intervals with the same Vanishing Spell Snape kept using on Harry's potions.
And he told them what Professor McGonagall had said. To his surprise, neither of the others looked shocked. On the contrary, they exchanged significant looks.
'Yes,' said Snape quietly, barely moving his lips. He looked very angry.
He jabbed at the bullfrog so hard he poked it in the eye: the frog gave a deafening croak and leapt off the desk.
'Hmm,' said Professor Grubbly-Plank, her pipe waggling slightly as she talked. 'Looks like something's attacked her. Can't think what would have done it, though. Thestrals will sometimes go for birds, of course, but Hagrid's got the Hogwarts Thestrals well-trained not to touch owls.'
There were people listening in that pub. And let's face it, we don't know how many of the people who turned up we can trust . . . any of them could have run off and told Umbridge . . .'
'What?' said Harry, looking from Ron to Hermione and back again.