This was such a curious question that Harry gaped at Dumbledore; it was almost as though he knew . . .
'Appears . . . to . . . have . . . poor . . . short . . . term . . . memory,' muttered Umbridge, loudly enough for everyone to hear her. Draco Malfoy looked as though Christmas had come a month early; Hermione, on the other hand, had turned scarlet with suppressed rage.
'We're not doing anything new?' said Zacharias Smith, in a disgruntled whisper loud enough to carry through the room. 'If I'd known that, I wouldn't have come.'
'What kept you?' he asked, as Harry sank into the armchair next to Hermione's.
Professor Umbridge had arrived. She was standing a few feet away from Harry, wearing her green hat and cloak again, her clipboard at the ready. Hagrid. who had never heard Umbridge's fake cough before, was gazing in some concern at the closest Thestral, evidently under the impression that it had made the sound.
Harry's heart sank like a stone, but Hagrid merely chuckled.
'We're all really sorry Harry didn't tell you, then,' said Fred loudly.
'Are you all right, Harry?' Hermione asked, peering at him over the tip of her quill.
- CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO -
'No, you go on,' he heard her say to her friend Marietta and his heart gave a jolt that seemed to take it into the region of his Adam's apple.
Most of the rest of the class were wearing expressions as confused and nervously expectant as Ron's and were still gazing everywhere but at the horse standing feet from them. There were only two other people who seemed to be able to see them: a stringy Slytherin boy standing just behind Goyle was watching the horse eating with an expression of great distaste on his face; and Neville, whose eyes were following the swishing progress of the long black tail.
Harry was saved the necessity of asking what Nargles are by the arrival of Angelina, Katie and Alicia. All three of them were breathless and looked very cold.
'I dunno if you got through to him,' said Ron a short while later when, having checked that the coast was clear, they walked back up to the castle through the thickening snow, leaving no trace behind them due to the Obliteration Charm Hermione was performing as they went.
'Well, I suppose it could have been worse,' she said. 'Are you going to see her again?'
Harry didn't answer. He was in a state of shock. Half of him wanted to tell Ron and Hermione what had just happened, but the other half wanted to take the secret with him to the grave.
'And what do you think of them?' she said, waving her stubby hand at the horses, who by now had stripped a great deal of the carcass down to bone.
Cho made a funny noise halfway between a sob and a laugh. She was even nearer to him now. He could have counted the freckles on her nose.
'Wet,' he said truthfully.
'It wasn't a nightmare,' said Harry quickly.