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In Chapter Six of Prisoner of Azkaban we have the following passage:

"Really, what has got into you all today?" said Professor McGonagall, turning back into herself with a faint pop, and staring around at them all. "Not that it matters, but that's the first time my transformation's not got applause from a class."

Everybody's heads turned toward Harry again, but nobody spoke. Then Hermione raised her hand.

"Please, Professor, we've just had our first Divination class, and we were reading the tea leaves, and –"

"Ah, of course," said Professor McGonagall, suddenly frowning.

"There is no need to say any more, Miss Granger. Tell me, which of you will be dying this year?"

Everyone stared at her.

"Me," said Harry, finally.

"I see," said Professor McGonagall, fixing Harry with her beady eyes. "Then you should know, Potter, that Sibyll Trelawney has predicted the death of one student a year since she arrived at this school. None of them has died yet. Seeing death omens is her favorite way of greeting a new class. If it were not for the fact that I never speak ill of my colleagues –"

As soon as Hermione mentions the Divination class McGonagall understands why everyone was too preoccupied to be impressed by her transformation. So if the same thing happens every year, why was this the first time that no one applauded the transformation? Surely this was not the first time ever that the first Divination class and the first Transfiguration class were back to back.

So why was it that specifically in Harry's year everyone was too overwhelmed to care about McGonagall's transformation, but in every other year the students (or at least one student) managed to focus on McGonagall's transformation enough to applaud it?

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    Surely this was not the first time ever that the first Divination class and the first Transfiguration class were back to back. Why so sure? Seems plausible to me. – Shamshiel Jul 19 at 10:00
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So why was it that specifically in Harry's year everyone was too overwhelmed to care about McGonagall's transformation?

You nailed it. It's Harry's year, both for the batch of students and the student picked for "you die this year". Harry's always in mortal trouble to begin with. That's why everyone is disturbed by Trelawney's prediction: it's believable.

Look at it this way: most Hogwarts students are, in the end, just students with no particular background, or at least none that is as publicly known (and impacting) as Harry's. When Trelawney predicts the death of John Smith, age 13, some people will get scared, some people will scoff off what the crazy-looking weirdo said. After all how do they even know Divination is a thing?

In Harry's case, remember that he's the Boy Who Lived, survived Voldemort in year one, survived Voldemort in year two, and at the beginning of the third school year, there's a criminal on his tail, who managed to escape the unescapable prison.

Point being, even if you're too rational to be convinced Divination is a real thing, it's not that far-fetched to believe that "Harry dies this year", and be worried about it. And if you're not worried about Harry, you can be worried for your own skin; after all, while Harry's enemies target him, there have been side victims in this conflict.

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    Also the timetables don't stay the same every year, so it's possible this was the first time there was the tea leaves lesson followed directly by the animagus lesson. – marcellothearcane Jul 19 at 13:26
  • It probably doesn't help that the previous year included students being attacked by a basilisk, petrified and trapped in the Hospital Wing all year. It was only by luck that none of them died, so the possibility probably seems more "real" to this year's students... – Chronocidal Jul 26 at 12:54

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