Harry headed down to Umbridge's office that night only reluctantly. Draco had offered to walk down with him on his way to the library, but didn't offer much encouragement.
"What do you think it'll be?" Harry asked, sounding resigned.
Draco shrugged. "Lines, maybe? I mean, what else could it be?"
"I guess lines wouldn't be so bad," Harry replied. "Still not fun, though."
"I'm pretty sure that nothing with Umbridge is fun," Draco replied. Harry nodded in fervent agreement. "This has to be a record or something. Someone getting a detention on the second day of classes," he clarified.
Harry shook his head with a wry grin. "Nope."
"No?" Draco asked in surprise. "Then who has? I don't even think the Weasley twins have managed to beat that."
"I did," Harry told him. "First year. My first day of Hogwarts, Snape gave me a detention."
"Am not," Harry replied with some amusement. "Come to think of it, he quickly changed it to a week of detentions."
"Wow," Draco breathed. "I can't believe you were still able to get along after that. I think I'd hold that grudge forever."
Harry shrugged. "Good thing I'm more forgiving, I guess."
Draco made a face. "Well, you're here. Tell me how it goes."
With a sigh, Harry replied, "I will. Wish me luck."
"Good luck," Draco responded.
Harry pushed open the door to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and headed for the back, where Umbridge's office was situated. He climbed the stairs to her door slowly, despite the fact that he was already very nearly late. Reaching the top, Harry raised his hand and knocked with trepidation.
"Come in," a high voice called.
Harry twisted the knob, stepped inside and was instantly taken aback. The stone walls were a garish pink, decorated with china plates on which cats slept or groomed themselves. A chorus of meows ran around the room almost like an echo. A very annoying echo. The carpets were pink and a small desk sat to the right of Umridge's larger one, both covered in a lacy pink cloth.
Professor Umbridge herself sat at her desk in a pink outfit, stirring pink sugar into a cup of tea which was, predictably, pink. She smiled and Harry cringed.
"Have a seat, dear," Umbridge said with a sickening sweetness, gesturing to the chair that sat in front of the smaller desk.
Harry dropped his bag on the floor and sat down. A piece of parchment floated over to him from a stack on her desk and Harry looked at it, resigned. Lines, it seemed, would be the object of his detention. That wasn't so bad, he supposed.
Umbridge stood up and walked over, handing Harry a black quill. "You will be doing lines today, Mr. Potter."
"I guessed as much," Harry muttered under his breath.
"Pardon?" she asked.
"I said, 'How much?'," he replied, louder.
Umbridge considered this. "Let's say, until it makes an impression."
Harry rolled the quill in his hands. "What am I to write? And you haven't given me any ink."
"Write 'I must not tell lies'," she said with relish. "And you shall not be needing ink."
Harry frowned, figuring that it must be one of the Never-Out quills that Flourish and Blotts sold. He could feel Umbridge's eyes on the back of his neck as he touched the quill to the parchment.
I must not tell lies.
The words came out in blood red ink. Harry had to resist the urge to dip the quill, for it didn't need it. As he started on the next line, his left hand began to tingle, then sting and then bite with pain. Harry stiffened but made no sound. He watched as the words were carved into his hand, in his own handwriting.
I must not tell lies.
Slowly, the cuts faded, healing over. Harry watched with bitter detachment and hesitated to put the quill to the parchment once more, for obvious reasons.
"Problem, Mr. Potter?" Umbridge asked from behind him.
Harry wanted to curse at her, to shout at her, but refrained. He wouldn't give her the satisfaction. Harry was sure that she wanted him to get angry, and he generally gave his best effort to do the exact opposite of what she wanted.
"Not at all," Harry replied. Umbridge walked past him to return to her desk, giving him a smug look as she did so. Harry met her eyes as a sort of challenge and wrote the line again, ignoring the pain that smarted in his hand. It would not do to appear weak in front of her, not now. Perhaps not ever.
By the time Harry escaped Umbridge's office, it was nearing ten o'clock. His hand stung badly, the skin raised into a line of welts. Only Harry would be able to make out what is was supposed to say, probably because he had written it out upwards of fifty times.
Even though the words were unreadable, the bright red line on Harry's hand stuck out, catching his eye every time he looked down. He would have to either put something on it or hide it. When he returned to the common room, Harry made for the stairs to the dorms right away, intent on getting the cream that he used for his scar for his hand.
"Harry!" Draco called, making Harry pause. "How'd it go?'
Harry shrugged. "As well as lines can go."
"Oh, that's all it was?" Draco asked. "I expected worse from her."
Harry simply shrugged again. "I'm going to bed. Goodnight."
Heading up the stairs, Harry felt a little bad for keeping this from his friends. He didn't want to seem weak and complaining would certainly make him so. Harry found the small jar of cream and spread some on his hand. Instantly, it felt better. Harry capped the tin and put it on his table, moving to get ready for bed.
As Harry lay in bed, staring at the curtains, he fell to thinking. He realized that Umbridge's vicious punishment didn't achieve the goal to which it was intended. Instead of turning Harry away from bad behavior, away from lying, it only made him hate Umbridge more. And somehow, in Harry's twisted mind, it only made him want to defy her more, punishment or not.
The next day, Harry woke with his scar hurting. He seemed to remember something about a bad dream, but couldn't quite pin it down. It had been dark, cold... Perhaps it was the graveyard yet again, Harry thought, dismissing it. The pain faded by the time Harry made it down to breakfast and he noticed that his hand was back to normal as well. That was encouraging.
The moment Harry sat down across from Hermione, he was surrounded on both sides by the Weasley twins.
"Mornin', Harry," the chorused.
"How are you?" George asked.
"Good? Good," Fred replied before Harry could.
"Hey, did you hear that Angelina's Quidditch captain this year? Tryouts are tomorrow."
"Yeah, McGonagall apparently thought we weren't up to the job again," Fred said, sounding a bit miffed.
"But that's okay anyway, because we have a real job to focus on now-"
"So do you, Harry."
"-and that's what we're here to talk to you about!" George finished with a grin.
Harry let out a breath, turning his head to look between the two of them. "Do you guys ever take a breath?"
"We've got increased lung capacity," Fred replied.
"Right, so what do you want to talk to me about?" Harry asked.
George glanced at his brother. "We hoped to borrow your mirror to talk to Sirius about how things are going. He's working on setting up the basic business stuff, you know-"
"-business cards, logo-"
"-premises, the name of the company dog-"
"Sorry? Name of the company dog?" Harry asked with a scowl.
The twins shared a glance and shrugged in unison. "Right now, I think we're going with Tom Foolery. Tom for short."
"Or just 'Foolery'," George put in.
Harry blinked. "Okay... Have you even come up with a name?"
"Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes," they said proudly.
Harry nodded in approval. "I like it. So you just need the mirror, then?"
Fred nodded. "If you don't mind. And we just wanted to run all this by you since you're bankrolling the whole deal."
Harry dug in his pack for the mirror, which he had taken to carrying with him after he mailed Rhea hers. He had no idea how long it would take, but figured he best have it on him in case she decided to call at some odd hour due to the time difference. "It all sounds fine to me. You guys pretty much have free reign, as far as I'm concerned."
They grinned. "Thanks, Harry," George said earnestly. A gleam of mischief sparkled in his eye, but Harry figured, that since it was one of the Weasley twins, it was really nothing to be overly concerned about.
Harry handed Fred the mirror. "Here. And, uh, if someone calls, don't answer it."
Fred looked at him quizzically. "Wasn't that the point? So that we could call Sirius and he could call us?"
Harry winced. "I mean, if someone other than Sirius calls."
"How can you tell who's calling?" George asked, looking the mirror over. "Does it come up with a name?"
"So we'll have to answer it-"
"-to see whether or not it's Sirius-
"-and to see whether or not we should have answered it in the first place," Fred finished.
Harry put his face in his hand. "Alright, just...nevermind."
"Well, thanks, Harry," George said.
Fred added, as he got up, "See you at tryouts."
Harry nodded as they left. Suddenly, it felt very quiet at the table as he sat across from Hermione, who had an amused look on her face.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Nothing," she said. A smile played on her lips. "Whose call are you waiting for, if not Sirius's?"
"No one's," Harry replied stubbornly.
Hermione grinned. "Uh huh."
Harry tried to force down his blush. "Oh, fine. I sent Rhea a mirror. I don't know if she's gotten it yet."
Hermione's smile widened. "You two are really cute, you know that?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "How can you say that? You've only met her once."
"I just know," Hermione said with a shrug. "You ought to bring her over here sometime."
Harry grunted in reply, feeling like this was a good time to start eating.
"So how was detention with Professor Umbridge?" Hermione asked conversationally. "I went to bed early last night; I didn't get a chance to talk to you."
Harry shrugged. "It was okay. Lines," he said. Changing the focus quickly, Harry continued, "You should see the inside of her office. It's hideous."
"Does that surprise you?" she asked.
"Not really," Harry replied. "There was so much pink that I wanted to vomit."
Hermione laughed. "That doesn't surprise me either." She picked at her food for a few minutes before getting to the point that was obviously on her mind. "Harry, you really ought to be careful not to provoke her."
Harry frowned. "You mean not stand up to her."
"Yes," Hermione insisted.
"But she's wrong, Hermione! You know that," Harry said firmly. "She won't acknowledge that Voldemort's back and that's going to get us all killed!"
"Yes, but you really don't want her as an enemy, Harry," Hermione told him. "I've been doing some reading up on her, in the paper and whatnot. She's really close to the minister; you don't want them against you."
"They already are," Harry said in a hard tone.
Hermione gave him a pleading look. "Just don't make it worse, okay?"
Harry drew in a breath. "I'm sorry, Hermione, but I can't promise that."