Dolores Umbridge had been a Hufflepuff in her days at Hogwarts, but she rarely gives it any thought now in her pink, fuzzy office where she focuses on the task at hand. She perhaps likes the Slytherins best of the unruly, disrespectful lot she has taken charge of. They understand, at least on some level, what order is, and what might be required to maintain it. They had supported the agenda of the ministry and she had been able to reward them with house points and Quidditch practices and even positions of authority under her inquisitorial regime. She knows, however, what lurks behind their smug smiles and acquiescence. Readily as they had embraced the truth that He Who Must Not Be Named has not returned, many of them would gladly seize power under him. Or rather, under his auspices.

She is, of course, equipped to deal with such an eventuality.

* * *

It would have been an exaggeration to say that Draco Malfoy looked forward to Defence Against the Dark Arts, as he was no exception to the rule that found Professor Umbridge’s lessons duller than dirty dishwater and almost as useless. Neither did he enjoy her ridiculous jumpers, her syrupy voice or her saccharine manner, at least not when there were no Gryffindors about for her to torment with it—if he could have seen Potter bellowing at her on that first day of class, instead of merely hearing about it afterward, that would have been worth innumerable choruses of “Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge”. Nonetheless, he had appreciated in the past few weeks how very simple the professor made it for him to ingratiate himself with scarcely any effort; he knew this would be most useful to him in the future.

Pansy Parkinson, on the other hand—one would have thought she and Granger-Mudblood were twins separated at birth, to hear her caterwauling about “no practical experience” and how was she going to get enough O.W.L.s to show up her parents? Draco usually ignored her, although sometimes Goyle lent a sympathetic ear, or at least a reasonable approximation thereof, which was sufficient to shut her up for a time. He found them so occupied when, accompanied by Crabbe he entered the DADA classroom, Pansy’s voice low, but inexorably approaching the shriller tones which Draco despised.

“Dry up, Pansy,” he drawled, impatiently. With a few minutes remaining before class, the four of them were alone in the classroom with its bare desks and blank chalkboards.

She turned on him. “It’s your future too, Draco Malfoy, and I’d like to see what you mean to do with it when you can’t even figure out how to do the kind of jinxes that a lot of Hufflepuffs have managed.”

“Hufflepuffs are stupid,” Goyle contributed helpfully to the discussion at hand. Draco, who had not really expected this level of erudition from him, nonetheless ignored him.

“Bollocks. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t exactly expecting to learn the really important stuff here.”

“Well, I had thought—“

“That sort of thing they don’t teach at school,” Draco said grandly, “You don’t honestly think the Dark Lord would let his faithful loose if they don’t know enough to jinx a Hufflepuff, do you?”

“Hem, hem.”

Dolores Umbridge, standing in the doorway of the classroom, made her presence known before advancing on the four students. Pansy gasped, a strangled sound that was nearer to a shriek; Draco, who had been artfully lounging against a desk, nearly pitched forward into Crabbe. He didn’t know just what Umbridge had overheard or what she meant to do, but he had that sickening, sinking feeling of being trapped in just the situation one had most earnestly intended to avoid.

“Of course,” she said sweetly, “it is irrelevant to speculate what the person of whom you are speaking would do, since he is dead and the dead do not rise.”

“Of course,” Draco responded weakly. Crabbe and Goyle had both risen and found their places at his side, but he did not feel reassured by their presence.

Umbridge gazed appraisingly at the arrogant, pale, fearful face before her. Draco met that gaze as unflinchingly as he could manage, but in spite of his efforts, his eyes were truculent and twitchy.

“A detention, I think, Mr. Malfoy,” she said finally, “might serve to alleviate your concerns about a Dark wizard who simply is not out there and who certainly should not enter into your career deliberations. Tomorrow, in my office, at 5:00.” Draco nodded mutely. “These baseless allegations, tirelessly spread by that troublemaker Potter, are upsetting the entire school, frequently even distracting them from the very Defence curriculum prepared by the Ministry for everyone’s benefit, and I simply cannot allow that to happen.”

Draco was spared the necessity of grasping for a conciliatory response by the arrival of another group of fifth-year Slytherins, who ranged themselves about the classroom for another chapter of Basics for Beginners.

* * *

Draco found Umbridge’s office on the third floor, lingering for a moment before he knocked on it at precisely five o’ clock.

“Come in,” the voice inside trilled, and Draco steeled himself and let himself in. He wanted to gawk at the profoundly ugly posters depicting more-than-usually unattractive kittens, to say nothing of the lacy things that covered every horizontal surface, but he met her eyes behind her flowery desk instead.

“There isn’t any Dark Lord, really,” he blurted out. This wasn’t actually the suave speech he had been planning to make, but it was substantially similar.

“Of course there isn’t, Mr. Malfoy,” Professor Umbridge said, treacly, “That is a lie. A lie spread by that nasty attention-grabbing Potter boy, a lie which threatens this school.”

“I can see that, Professor.” Here, he was on familiar territory. Potter-bashing. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad. “Potter’s always been like that, a real menace to the school.”

“And has your own behaviour been any better, Mr, Malfoy?” Umbridge demanded, steepling her fingers and resting her chin thoughtfully on them. “Promoting the very same story to increase your prestige among your peer group!”


“Hem, hem.” Umbridge cut him off with one of her little coughs. “Now, I’ve no doubt that you’ll see the error of your ways. I want you to do some lines for me.”

Draco suppressed a sigh of mingled relief and irritation. He had a quill tucked into his robes, and he drew it out with a little flourish as he settled into the little table with its dreadful lacy tablecloth and its awkward, straight-backed chair. It was a nice, self-inking quill, although the nib was getting a little scratchy. Still, he could knock off some lines readily enough with it, get out of here, no harm done.

“I have my own quill for you to use,” Umbridge interpolated. The one she held out to him was slightly longer, nowhere near as full, and had a sharp, biting point on it. Draco looked at it dubiously and found a scrap of parchment to try it against before he started in on the blank sheet in front of him, sincerely doubting that it would compare to the lovely, flowing ink from his quill, just hoping that he wasn’t going to have to dip it himself, that’d take forever writing the stupid lines and he hadn’t actually had to do it in years and he might blot the parchment and be asked to do it again and—

The quill made a ruby scribble mark on the scrap of parchment, but Draco dropped it without looking and clutched his right hand in his left, woundedly. Professor Umbridge, he swore, was smirking at him.

“You’ll be writing the same thing as Potter, Mr. Malfoy, since you seem to suffer from the same vice of self-aggrandizement. I must not tell lies.”

“I must not tell lies,” Draco repeated numbly, staring at the angry red mark on the back of his pale hand as it healed over and dissipated.

“That’s it,” she said, with a perfectly poisonous smile, as she returned to shuffling the papers that littered her garish desk. She did not appear to be watching Draco, but he felt her eyes all the same.

He put the vicious quill to parchment and scribbled, quickly, I must not tell lies. The bloody scrawl made him shiver almost as much as the glittering wound on his hand, and when he brought the pointed nib to the dry, fleshy surface once again, it slowly traced neat, almost calligraphic lettering: I must not tell lies. Done slowly it hurt worse, but his fingers refused to move any faster. Professor Umbridge gathered a stack of essays out from underneath a teddy bear and began marking the top one.

Draco wanted to throw up; he wanted to crumple up the bloody parchment and pitch it at her, along with her venomous quill, and draft an owl to his father, who would appear post haste and put a stop to this. He suspected, however—well, to be perfectly frank, he knew—that his father would be furious that his son had carelessly aroused the suspicion and ire of this Umbridge woman by boasting, to no good purpose and with no good cause, about his connections with the Dark Lord. Lucius wanted his son to be bright, disarming, and of course, completely clueless, although Draco’s curiosity was as insatiable as his desire to command respect.

No, Draco was on his own, on his own in this sodding room with its kittens and its lace and him with tears puddling on the parchment because he hated pain, he really did, and it’d be one thing if there someone was inflicting it on him but it’s another entirely when he has to pick up the quill himself and keep writing. His hand kept healing over, but underneath it was red and raw and he could see the letters still when he stopped to try to surreptitiously wipe away the tears. Professor Umbridge flicked a glance in his direction and he tried to cover his eyes. She smiled, and made a beckoning gesture.

“Let me see.”

Draco offered her the bloody parchment, but she shook her head. “No, your hand.” Standing in front of her desk, he offered her his right hand, tentatively, for her appraisal. She swiftly caught it in her knobbly, beringed fingers, and he winced. “I’m glad to see I made an impression on you this afternoon, Mr. Malfoy,” she gloated, still with that smile, “I presume we will not have a repeat of this little encounter?”

“No. No, Professor Umbridge. Certainly not.” He stumbled back, groping for his bag.


* * *

Draco pulled the sleeve of his robes down over his hand as he walked back to his dormitory. He wrapped it in Crabbe’s tie, which became sodden with ink as he painfully wrote out his Potions homework.

He nearly hexed Pansy across the room when she asked him about the detention. He did hex Crabbe across the room when he asked him about the tie.

The marks on his hand faded.

The marks he observed on Potter’s hand stayed raw longer.

He never spoke to anyone about what had happened.

Return to Florilegium

Drop me an email

Visit my LiveJournal