Professor Trelawney was staring into the teacup, rotating it counterclockwise. "The falcon my dear, you have a deadly enemy." "But everyone knows that," said Hermione in a loud whisper. Professor Trelawney stared at her. "Well, they do," said Hermione. "Everybody knows about Harry and You-Know-Who." Harry and Ron stared at her with a mixture of amazement and admiration. They had never heard Hermione speak to a teacher like that before. Professor Trelawney chose not to reply. She lowered her huge eyes to Harry's cup again and continued to turn it. "The club an attack. Dear, dear, this is not a happy cup ." "I thought it was a bowler hat," said Ron sheepishly. "The skull danger in your path, my dear." Everyone was staring, transfixed, at Professor Trelawney, who gave the cup a final turn, gasped, and then screamed. There was another tinkle of breaking china; Neville had smashed his second cup.
This passage takes place in Chapter Six, during Harry, Ron, and Hermione's first Divination class. Professor Trelawney, a psychic who is really somewhat of a quack, instantly turns on Harry as the possessor of the world's most ill- appearing future. She finds the deadly enemy, danger, and ultimately the Grim, which is especially frightening because Harry believes at this point that he has already seen it, with its form of the black dog representing death. This passage touches on a fear of certain elements of the future that plague Harry, but more importantly, this passage belies the very idea that the future can be understood and predicted. Hermione is the only one in the class who directly challenges the professor, and she is an appropriate person to do this because she, with her magic-time-turner for fitting so many classes into her day, realizes the complexity of time and the capacity for one event to encompass many possibilities in any given instant. As if to drive in further the inconsistency of predicting the future, we hear a sound of breaking china as soon as Professor Trelawney screams; but the natural assumption that she had dropped her cup in alarm is overturned by Rowling's placement of Neville as the instigator of the event. Even in small moments such as these, we are taught not to assume things about a future that we have not yet seen.