"Never at Hogwarts. We've had a couple of broken jaws but nothing worse than
that. Now, the last member of the team is the
Seeker. That's you. And you don't have to worry about the Quaffle or the Bludgers
unless they crack my head open."
"Don't worry, the Weasleys are more than a match for the Bludgers — I mean, they're
like a pair of human Bludgers themselves."
Wood reached into the crate and took out the fourth and last ball. Compared with
the Quaffle and the Bludgers, it was tiny, about the size of a large walnut. It
was bright gold and had little fluttering silver wings.
"This," said Wood, "is the Golden Snitch, and it's the most important ball of
the lot. It's very hard to catch because it's so fast and difficult to see. It's
the Seeker's job to catch it. You've got to weave in and out of the Chasers, Beaters,
Bludgers, and Quaffle to get it before the other team's Seeker, because whichever
Seeker catches the Snitch wins his team an extra hundred and fifty points, so they
nearly always win. That's why Seekers get fouled so much. A game of Quidditch
only ends when the Snitch is caught, so it can go on for ages -- I think the record
is three months, they had to keep bringing on substitutes so the players could get
some sleep. "Well, that's it — any questions?"
Harry shook his head. He understood what he had to do all right, it was doing
it that was going to be the problem.
"We won't practice with the Snitch yet," said Wood, carefully shutting it back
inside the crate, "it's too dark, we might lose it. Let's try you out with a few
He pulled a bag of ordinary golf balls out of his pocket and a few minutes later,
he and Harry were up in the air, Wood throwing the golf balls as hard as he could
in every direction for Harry to catch.
Harry didn't miss a single one, and Wood was delighted. After half an hour, night
had really fallen and they couldn't carry on.
"That Quidditch cup'll have our name on it this year," said Wood happily as they
trudged back up to the castle. "I wouldn't be surprised if you turn out better than
Charlie Weasley, and he could have played for England if he hadn't gone off chasing
Perhaps it was because he was now so busy, what with Quidditch practice three
evenings a week on top of all his homework, but Harry could hardly believe it when
he realized that he'd already been at Hogwarts two months. The castle felt more
like home than Privet Drive ever had. His lessons, too, were becoming more and more
interesting now that they had mastered the basics.
On Halloween morning they woke to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin wafting
through the corridors. Even better, Professor Flitwick announced in Charms that
he thought they were ready to start making objects fly, something they had all been
dying to try since they'd seen him make Neville's toad zoom around the classroom.
Professor Flitwick put the class into pairs to practice. Harry's partner was Seamus
Finnigan (which was a relief, because Neville had been trying to catch his eye).
Ron, however, was to be working with Hermione Granger. It was hard to tell whether
Ron or Hermione was angrier about this. She hadn't spoken to either of them since
the day Harry's broomstick had arrived.
"Now, don't forget that nice wrist movement we've been practicing!" squeaked
Professor Flitwick, perched on top of his pile of books as usual. "Swish and flick,
remember, swish and flick. And saying the magic words properly is very important,
too — never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said 's' instead of 'f' and found himself
on the floor with a buffalo on his chest."
It was very difficult. Harry and Seamus swished and flicked, but the feather
they were supposed to be sending skyward just lay on the desktop. Seamus got so
impatient that he prodded it with his wand and set fire to it — Harry had to put
it out with his hat.
Ron, at the next table, wasn't having much more luck.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.
"You're saying it wrong," Harry heard Hermione snap. "It's Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa,
make the 'gar' nice and long."
"You do it, then, if you're so clever," Ron snarled.
Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand, and said, "Wingardium
Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads.
"Oh, well done!" cried Professor Flitwick, clapping. "Everyone see here, Miss
Granger's done it!"
Ron was in a very bad mood by the end of the class. "It's no wonder no one can
stand her," he said to Harry as they pushed their way into the crowded corridor,
"she's a nightmare, honestly. "
Someone knocked into Harry as they hurried past him. It was Hermione. Harry caught
a glimpse of her face — and was startled to see that she was in tears.
"I think she heard you."
"So?" said Ron, but he looked a bit uncomfortable. "She must've noticed she's
got no friends."
Hermione didn't turn up for the next class and wasn't seen all afternoon. On
their way down to the Great Hall for the Halloween feast, Harry and Ron overheard
Parvati Patil telling her friend Lavender that Hermione was crying in the girls'
bathroom and wanted to be left alone. Ron looked still more awkward at this, but
a moment later they had entered the Great Hall, where the Halloween decorations
put Hermione out of their minds.
A thousand live bats fluttered from the walls and ceiling while a thousand more
swooped over the tables in low black clouds, making the candles in the pumpkins
stutter. The feast appeared suddenly on the golden plates, as it had at the start-of-term
Harry was just helping himself to a baked potato when Professor Quirrell came
sprinting into the hall, his turban askew and terror on his face. Everyone stared
as he reached Professor Dumbledore's chair, slumped against the table, and gasped,
"Troll — in the dungeons — thought you ought to know."
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
There was an uproar. It took several purple firecrackers exploding from the end
of Professor Dumbledore's wand to bring silence.
"Prefects," he rumbled, "lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!"
Percy was in his element.
"Follow me! Stick together, first years! No need to fear the troll if you follow
my orders! Stay close behind me, now. Make way, first years coming through! Excuse
me, I'm a prefect!"
"How could a troll get in?" Harry asked as they climbed the stairs.
"Don't ask me, they're supposed to be really stupid," said Ron. "Maybe Peeves
let it in for a Halloween joke."
They passed different groups of people hurrying in different directions. As they
jostled their way through a crowd of confused Hufflepuffs, Harry suddenly grabbed
"I've just thought — Hermione."
"What about her?"
"She doesn't know about the troll."
Ron bit his lip.
"Oh, all right," he snapped. "But Percy'd better not see us."
Ducking down, they joined the Hufflepuffs going the other way, slipped down a
deserted side corridor, and hurried off toward the girls' bathroom. They had just
turned the corner when they heard quick footsteps behind them.
"Percy!" hissed Ron, pulling Harry behind a large stone griffin.
Peering around it, however, they saw not Percy but Snape. He crossed the corridor
and disappeared from view.
"What's he doing?" Harry whispered. "Why isn't he down in the dungeons with the
rest of the teachers?"
Quietly as possible, they crept along the next corridor after Snape's fading
"He's heading for the third floor," Harry said, but Ron held up his hand.
"Can you smell something?"
Harry sniffed and a foul stench reached his nostrils, a mixture of old socks
and the kind of public toilet no one seems to clean.
And then they heard it — a low grunting, and the shuffling footfalls of gigantic
feet. Ron pointed — at the end of a passage to the left, something huge was moving
toward them. They shrank into the shadows and watched as it emerged into a patch
It was a horrible sight. Twelve feet tall, its skin was a dull, granite gray,
its great lumpy body like a boulder with its small bald head perched on top like
a coconut. It had short legs thick as tree trunks with flat, horny feet. The smell
coming from it was incredible. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged
along the floor because its arms were so long.
The troll stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It waggled its long ears,
making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly into the room.
"The keys in the lock," Harry muttered. "We could lock it in."
"Good idea," said Ron nervously.
They edged toward the open door, mouths dry, praying the troll wasn't about to
come out of it. With one great leap, Harry managed to grab the key, slam the door,
and lock it.
Flushed with their victory, they started to run back up the passage, but as they
reached the corner they heard something that made their hearts stop — a high, petrified
scream — and it was coming from the chamber they'd just chained up.
"Oh, no," said Ron, pale as the Bloody Baron.
"It's the girls' bathroom!" Harry gasped.
"Hermione!" they said together.
It was the last thing they wanted to do, but what choice did they have? Wheeling
around, they sprinted back to the door and turned the key, fumbling in their panic.
Harry pulled the door open and they ran inside.
Hermione Granger was shrinking against the wall opposite, looking as if she was
about to faint. The troll was advancing on her, knocking the sinks off the walls
as it went.
"Confuse it!" Harry said desperately to Ron, and, seizing a tap, he threw it
as hard as he could against the wall.
The troll stopped a few feet from Hermione. It lumbered around, blinking stupidly,
to see what had made the noise. Its mean little eyes saw Harry. It hesitated, then
made for him instead, lifting its club as it went.
"Oy, pea-brain!" yelled Ron from the other side of the chamber, and he threw
a metal pipe at it. The troll didn't even seem to notice the pipe hitting its shoulder,
but it heard the yell and paused again, turning its ugly snout toward Ron instead,
giving Harry time to run around it.
"Come on, run, run!" Harry yelled at Hermione, trying to pull her toward the
door, but she couldn't move, she was still flat against the wall, her mouth open
The shouting and the echoes seemed to be driving the troll berserk. It roared
again and started toward Ron, who was nearest and had no way to escape.
Harry then did something that was both very brave and very stupid: He took a
great running jump and managed to fasten his arms around the troll's neck from behind.
The troll couldn't feel Harry hanging there, but even a troll will notice if you
stick a long bit of wood up its nose, and Harry's wand had still been in his hand
when he'd jumped — it had gone straight up one of the troll's nostrils.
Howling with pain, the troll twisted and flailed its club, with Harry clinging
on for dear life; any second, the troll was going to rip him off or catch him a
terrible blow with the club.
Hermione had sunk to the floor in fright; Ron pulled out his own wand -- not
knowing what he was going to do he heard himself cry the first spell that came into
his head: "Wingardium Leviosa!"
The club flew suddenly out of the troll's hand, rose high, high up into the air,
turned slowly over — and dropped, with a sickening crack, onto its owner's head.
The troll swayed on the spot and then fell flat on its face, with a thud that made
the whole room tremble.
Harry got to his feet. He was shaking and out of breath. Ron was standing there
with his wand still raised, staring at what he had done.
It was Hermione who spoke first.
"Is it — dead?"
I don't think so," said Harry, I think it's just been knocked out."
He bent down and pulled his wand out of the troll's nose. It was covered in what
looked like lumpy gray glue.
"Urgh — troll boogers."
He wiped it on the troll's trousers.
A sudden slamming and loud footsteps made the three of them look up. They hadn't
realized what a racket they had been making, but of course, someone downstairs must
have heard the crashes and the troll's roars. A moment later, Professor McGonagall
had come bursting into the room, closely followed by Snape, with Quirrell bringing
up the rear. Quirrell took one look at the troll, let out a faint whimper, and sat
quickly down on a toilet, clutching his heart.
Snape bent over the troll. Professor McGonagall was looking at Ron and Harry.
Harry had never seen her look so angry. Her lips were white. Hopes of winning fifty
points for Gryffindor faded quickly from Harry's mind.
"What on earth were you thinking of?" said Professor McGonagall, with cold fury
in her voice. Harry looked at Ron, who was still standing with his wand in the air.
"You're lucky you weren't killed. Why aren't you in your dormitory?"
Snape gave Harry a swift, piercing look. Harry looked at the floor. He wished
Ron would put his wand down.
Then a small voice came out of the shadows.
"Please, Professor McGonagall — they were looking for me."
Hermione had managed to get to her feet at last.
I went looking for the troll because I — I thought I could deal with it on my
own — you know, because I've read all about them."