'SNEAK'

Marietta Edgecombe acts as witness for the prosecution while revealing Hermione's handiwork

Extract from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By J.K. Rowling

There was a wait of several minutes, in which nobody looked at each other, then Harry heard the door open behind him. Umbridge moved past him into the room, gripping by the shoulder Cho’s curly-haired friend, Marietta, who was hiding her face in her hands.

‘Don’t be scared, dear, don’t be frightened,’ said Professor Umbridge softly, patting her on the back, ‘it’s quite all right, now. You have done the right thing. The Minister is very pleased with you. He’ll be telling your mother what a good girl you’ve been. Marietta’s mother, Minister,’ she added, looking up at Fudge, ‘is Madam Edgecombe from the Department of Magical Transportation, Floo Network office – she’s been helping us police the Hogwarts fires, you know.’

‘Jolly good, jolly good!’ said Fudge heartily. ‘Like mother, like daughter, eh? Well, come on, now, dear, look up, don’t be shy, let’s hear what you’ve got to – galloping gargoyles!’

As Marietta raised her head, Fudge leapt backwards in shock, nearly landing himself in the fire. He cursed, and stamped on the hem of his cloak which had started to smoke. Marietta gave a wail and pulled the neck of her robes right up to her eyes, but not before everyone had seen that her face was horribly disfigured by a series of close-set purple pustules that had spread across her nose and cheeks to form the word ‘SNEAK’.

‘Never mind the spots now, dear,’ said Umbridge impatiently, ‘just take your robes away from your mouth and tell the Minister –’

But Marietta gave another muffled wail and shook her head frantically.

‘Oh, very well, you silly girl, I’ll tell him,’ snapped Umbridge. She hitched her sickly smile back on to her face and said, ‘Well, Minister, Miss Edgecombe here came to my office shortly after dinner this evening and told me she had something she wanted to tell me. She said that if I proceeded to a secret room on the seventh floor, sometimes known as the Room of Requirement, I would find out something to my advantage. I questioned her a little further and she admitted that there was to be some kind of meeting there. Unfortunately, at that point this hex,’ she waved impatiently at Marietta’s concealed face, ‘came into operation and upon catching sight of her face in my mirror the girl became too distressed to tell me any more.’

‘Well, now,’ said Fudge, fixing Marietta with what he evidently imagined was a kind and fatherly look, ‘it is very brave of you, my dear, coming to tell Professor Umbridge. You did exactly the right thing. Now, will you tell me what happened at this meeting? What was its purpose? Who was there?’

But Marietta would not speak; she merely shook her head again, her eyes wide and fearful.

‘Haven’t we got a counter-jinx for this?’ Fudge asked Umbridge impatiently, gesturing at Marietta’s face. ‘So she can speak freely?’

‘I have not yet managed to find one,’ Umbridge admitted grudgingly, and Harry felt a surge of pride in Hermione’s jinxing ability. ‘But it doesn’t matter if she won’t speak, I can take up the story from here.

‘You will remember, Minister, that I sent you a report back in October that Potter had met a number of fellow students in the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade –’

‘And what is your evidence for that?’ cut in Professor McGonagall.

‘I have testimony from Willy Widdershins, Minerva, who happened to be in the bar at the time. He was heavily bandaged, it is true, but his hearing was quite unimpaired,’ said Umbridge smugly. ‘He heard every word Potter said and hastened straight to the school to report to me –’

‘Oh, so that’s why he wasn’t prosecuted for setting up all those regurgitating toilets!’ said Professor McGonagall, raising her eyebrows. ‘What an interesting insight into our justice system!'


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By J.K. Rowling