Harry hesitated for a fraction of a second, then said, 'Lines.'
He knew long before he reached the end of his sentence that it was no good.
'Great,' said Harry distractedly; if he did not tell somebody soon, he would burst. 'Listen, Hermione, I was just up in Umbridge's office and she touched my arm . . .'
But she broke off; the morning post was arriving and, as usual, the Daily Prophet was soaring towards her in the beak of a screech owl, which landed perilously close to the sugar bowl and held out a leg. Hermione pushed a Knut into its leather pouch, took the newspaper, and scanned the front page critically as the owl took off.
'Good evening, Mr Potter.'
She moved over to her desk, sat down and bent over a stack of parchment that looked like essays for marking. Harry raised the sharp black quill, then realised what was missing.
Thursday passed in a haze of tiredness. Ron seemed very sleepy too, though Harry could not see why he should be. Harry's third detention passed in the same way as the previous two, except that after two hours the words 'I must not tell lies' did not fade from the back of Harry's hand, but remained scratched there, oozing droplets of blood. The pause in the pointed quills scratching made Professor Umbridge look up.
'I'm not laughing,' said Harry. Ron blinked. 'It's a brilliant idea! It'd be really cool if you got on the team! I've never seen you play Keeper, are you good?'
Something in her would-be casual voice made Harry think he might know who the uninvited spectators were, and sure enough, when they left the changing room for the bright sunlight of the pitch it was to a storm of catcalls and jeers from the Slytherin Quidditch team and assorted hangers-on, who were grouped halfway up the empty stands and whose voices echoed loudly around the stadium.
'I wish I was going to be there,' said Harry bitterly, as they set off together towards the common room.
What?' said Ron, looking alarmed. 'You didn't say - '
'Lucius Malfoy, I'll bet anything,' said Harry in a low, furious voice. 'He did recognise Sirius on the platform . . .'
The parchment was now dotted with drops of blood from the back of his hand, which was searing with pain. When he next looked up, night had fallen and the Quidditch pitch was no longer visible.
'Exactly the attitude I want, Harry' said Angelina approvingly soaring around them with the Quaffle under her arm and slowing to hover on the spot in front of her airborne team. 'OK, everyone, we're going to start with some passes just to warm up, the whole team please - '
Harry shrugged. He was quite as mystified by that as she was, though oddly it was not bothering him very much at the moment.
'You know what to do, Mr Potter,' said Umbridge, smiling sweetly at him.
Angelina swept her long braided hair out of her face and continued calmly, 'Spread out, then, and let's see what we can do . . .'
He had reached the top of the stairs, turned right and almost walked into Ron, who was lurking behind a statue of Lachlan the Lanky, clutching his broomstick. He gave a great leap of surprise when he saw Harry and attempted to hide his new Cleansweep Eleven behind his back.
Now, however, it looked totally unrecognisable. The surfaces had all been draped in lacy covers and cloths. There were several vases full of dried flowers, each one residing on its own doily, and on one of the walls was a collection of ornamental plates, each decorated with a large technicolour kitten wearing a different bow around its neck. These were so foul that Harry stared at them, transfixed, until Professor Umbridge spoke again.