'I just wanted to say,' he mumbled, squinting at Harry's left knee, 'I believe you. And I've sent a copy of that magazine to me mam.'
Harry felt as though he had been pushed hard in the chest; he staggered several steps backwards, hit some of the shelves covering Snapes walls and heard something crack. Snape was shaking slightly, and was very white in the face.
'Oh, that won't be a problem,' said Dumbledore pleasantly. 'You see, I have already found us a new Divination teacher, and he will prefer lodgings on the ground floor.'
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.
'It was your home,' said Professor Umbridge, and Harry was revolted to see the enjoyment stretching her toadlike face as she watched Professor Trelawney sink, sobbing uncontrollably, on to one of her trunks, 'until an hour ago, when the Minister for Magic: countersigned your Order of Dismissal. Now kindly remove yourself from this Hall. You are embarrassing us.'
'Did you see anything unusual on your way down here, Potter?'
'Well,' he said. 'Well, well, well . . .'
'His attempt is not working?' Harry repeated blankly.
'But - what's Hagrid attempting to do?' said Harry nervously.
That would be mine,' said a deep voice.
It was the most unusual lesson Harry had ever attended. They did indeed burn sage and mallowsweet there on the classroom floor, and Firenze told them to look for certain shapes and symbols in the pungent fumes, but he seemed perfectly unconcerned that not one of them could see any of the signs he described, telling them that humans were hardly ever good at this, that it took centaurs years and years to become competent, and finished by telling them that it was foolish to put too much faith in such things, anyway, because even centaurs sometimes read them wrongly. He was nothing like any human teacher Harry had ever had. His priority did not seem to be to teach them what he knew, but rather to impress upon them that nothing, not even centaurs' knowledge, was foolproof.
Thank you, Harry Potter!' squeaked Dobby, and he streaked off. Harry glanced left and right, the others were all moving so fast he :aught only glimpses of flying heels at either end of the corridor before they vanished; he started to run right; there was a boys' bathroom up ahead, he could pretend he'd been in there all the time if he could just reach it - '
He was sorry to hear she had shed even more tears over it, but very glad they were on speaking terms again, and even more pleased when she gave him a swift kiss on the cheek and hurried off again. And unbelievably, no sooner had he arrived outside Transfiguration than something just as good happened: Seamus stepped out of the queue to face him.
Ron hastened to obey.
'Just that one,' lied Harry.
'Trip Jinx, Potter!' he said. 'Hey, Professor - PROFESSOR! I've got one!'
'You do know why we are here, don t you, Potter?' said Snape, in a low, dangerous voice. 'You do know why I am giving up my evenings to this tedious job?'
'Fizzing Whizzbee,' sang Umbridge; the stone gargoyle jumped aside, the wall behind split open, and they ascended the moving stone staircase. They reached the polished door with the griffin knocker, but Umbridge did not bother to knock, she strode straight inside, still holding tight to Harry.
'Centaurs are not the servants or playthings of humans,' said Firenze quietly. There was a pause, then Parvati raised her hand again.