Chapter 27 The Centaur And The Sneak
‘I'll bet you wish you hadn't given up Divination now, don't you, Hermione?’ asked Parvati, smirking.
It was breakfast time, two days after the sacking of Professor Trelawney, and Parvati was curling her eyelashes around her wand and examining the effect in the back of her spoon. They were to have their first lesson with
Firenze that morning.
‘Not really,’ said Hermione indifferently, who was reading the Daily Prophet.‘I've never really liked horses.’
She turned a page of the newspaper and scanned its columns.
‘He's not a horse, he's a centaur!’ said Lavender, sounding shocked.
‘A gorgeous centaur ...’ sighed Parvati.
‘Either way, he's still got four legs,’ said Hermione coolly. ‘Anyway, I thought you two were all upset that Trelawney had gone?’
‘We are!’ Lavender assured her. ‘We went up to her office to see her; we took her some daffodils —not the honking ones that Sprout's got, nice ones.’
‘How is she?’ asked Harry.
‘Not very good, poor thing,’ said Lavender sympathetically. ‘She was crying and saying she'd rather leave the castle for ever than stay here where Umbridge is, and I don't blame her, Umbridge was horrible to her, wasn't she?’
‘I've got a feeling Umbridge has only just started being horrible,’ said Hermione darkly.
‘Impossible,’ said Ron, who was tucking into a large plate of eggs and bacon. ‘She can't get any worse than she's been already.’
‘You mark my words, she's going to want revenge on Dumbledore for appointing a new teacher without consulting her,’ said Hermione, closing the newspaper. ‘Especially another part-human. You saw the look on her face
when she saw Firenze.’
After breakfast Hermione departed for her Arithmancy class as Harry and Ron followed Parvati and Lavender into the Entrance Hall, heading for Divination.
‘Aren't we going up to North Tower?’ asked Ron, looking puzzled, as Parvati bypassed the marble staircase.
Parvati looked at him scornfully over her shoulder.
‘How d'you expect Firenze to climb that ladder? We're in classroom eleven now, it was on the noticeboard yesterday.’
Classroom eleven was on the ground floor along the corridor leading off the Entrance Hall from the opposite side to the Great Hall. Harry knew it was one of those classrooms that were never used regularly, and therefore had
the slightly neglected feeling of a cupboard or storeroom. When he entered it right behind Ron, and found himself in the middle of a forest clearing, he was therefore momentarily stunned.
The classroom floor had become springily mossy and trees were growing out of it; their leafy branches fanned across the ceiling and windows, so that the room was full of slanting shafts of soft, dappled, green light. The
students who had already arrived were sitting on the earthy floor with their backs resting against tree trunks or boulders, arms wrapped around their knees or folded tightly across their chests, and all looking rather nervous. In
the middle of the clearing, where there were no trees, stood Firenze.
‘Harry Potter,’ he said, holding out a hand when Harry entered.
‘Er—hi,’ said Harry, shaking hands with the centaur, who surveyed him unblinkingly through those astonishingly blue eyes but did not smile. ‘Er—good to see you,’
‘And you,’ said the centaur, inclining his white-blond head. ‘It was foretold that we would meet again.’
Harry noticed there was the shadow of a hoof-shaped bruise on Firenze's chest. As he turned to join the rest of the class on the ground, he saw they were all looking at him in awe, apparently deeply impressed that he was on
speaking terms with Firenze. whom they seemed to find intimidating.