The next day, it quickly becomes apparent what Voldemort was so happy about. The morning's ''Daily Prophet'' reports that some of Voldemort's most dangerous followers have escaped from Azkaban, including [[DarkActionGirl Bellatrix Lestrange]] and... okay, the rest are basically just {{Mooks}}. Still refusing to accept Voldemort's return, the Ministry has blamed the mass breakout on Sirius. Hermione notices another story in the paper about the death of Broderick Bode, the [[Recap/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenixC23ChristmasOnTheClosedWard St. Mungo's patient who received a plant]]. It turns out the plant was [[Recap/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStoneC16ThroughTheTrapdoor a Devil's Snare]], which strangled him to death. Hermione quickly deduces that Bode was murdered and, since the plant was sent anonymously, the killer can't be discovered. Ron then realizes that Bode was an Unspeakable. At this point, Hermione gets an idea and runs off, prompting Ron to {{Lampshade}} how she never tells them what she's about to do when she does that.

Over the next few days, the Azkaban breakout becomes the biggest topic of conversation among the students and many of them seem to be considering Harry's story now. Umbridge responds by tightening her grip on Hogwarts. The teachers are now banned from giving out any information which is not strictly related to their subjects. When Lee Jordan tries to pull ExactWords on Umbridge by pointing out that enforcing discipline has nothing to do with Defense Against the Dark Arts, he gets the same sort of WritingLines punishment as Harry. Hagrid is on probation now and everyone is sure that either he or Trelawney will be getting the sack soon. Meanwhile, Harry's Occlumency lessons are not going well. In fact, he's convinced that he's getting worse and his dreams about the Department of Mysteries door are continuing. Ron suggests that Snape could be working for Voldemort and weakening Harry on purpose, but Hermione points out that Snape always turns out to be innocent and Dumbledore does trust him.

Valentine's Day arrives. Hermione receives a letter at breakfast and tells Harry to meet her at the Three Broomsticks around midday. Ron goes off to Quidditch practice while Harry walks Cho down to Hogsmeade for their date. Cho observes how strange it is that ten Death Eaters are on the loose and there are no dementors in Hogsmeade, as there were when Sirius originally escaped. Harry thinks that this must mean the dementors really are outside Ministry control now. Cho takes Harry to Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop, which has a TastesLikeDiabetes theme and is filled with MakeOutKids. Harry obviously finds this awkward and uncomfortable. He then makes their date even more romantic by mentioning he has to meet Hermione in the Three Broomsticks later. Cho doesn't get that he and Hermione are LikeBrotherAndSister, but of course she doesn't explain why she's upset. Oh no, she acts manipulative in the way teenage girls like to do. This just confuses Harry and the date ends with Cho storming out of the tea shop.

With nothing else to do, Harry heads for the Three Broomsticks early. He sees Hagrid, who has some fresh injuries. Harry asks about them, but Hagrid denies anything is out of the ordinary and leaves the pub. Harry finds Hermione seated with Luna Lovegood and Rita Skeeter. Rita is now unemployed, following [[Recap/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFireC37TheBeginning the end of the previous book]]. It turns out Hermione wants Rita to interview Harry about Voldemort's return and print the (gasp!) truth. When Rita points out the ''Prophet'' would never print that, Hermione reveals the story will be published in ''The Quibbler''. Rita asks how much she'll be paid for this and Luna says her father doesn't pay anyone who contributes to his magazine. Rita is aghast. [[HypocriticalHumor Who on earth would want to write about random stuff without notability for free?]] Hermione brings up the little fact that she has, after all, blackmailed Rita and the interview begins.