"Slytherin in possession," Lee Jordan was saying, "Chaser Pucey ducks two Bludgers,
two Weasleys, and Chaser Bell, and speeds toward the -- wait a moment — was that
A murmur ran through the crowd as Adrian Pucey dropped the Quaffle, too busy
looking over his shoulder at the flash of gold that had passed his left ear.
Harry saw it. In a great rush of excitement he dived downward after the streak
of gold. Slytherin Seeker Terence Higgs had seen it, too. Neck and neck they hurtled
toward the Snitch -all the Chasers seemed to have forgotten what they were supposed
to be doing as they hung in midair to watch.
Harry was faster than Higgs — he could see the little round ball, wings fluttering,
darting up ahead — he put on an extra spurt of speed --
WHAM! A roar of rage echoed from the Gryffindors below — Marcus Flint had blocked
Harry on purpose, and Harry's broom spun off course, Harry holding on for dear life.
"Foul!" screamed the Gryffindors.
Madam Hooch spoke angrily to Flint and then ordered a free shot at the goal posts
for Gryffindor. But in all the confusion, of course, the Golden Snitch had disappeared
from sight again.
Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, "Send him off, ref! Red card!"
"What are you talking about, Dean?" said Ron.
"Red card!" said Dean furiously. "In soccer you get shown the red card and you're
out of the game!"
"But this isn't soccer, Dean," Ron reminded him.
Hagrid, however, was on Dean's side.
"They oughta change the rules. Flint coulda knocked Harry outta the air."
Lee Jordan was finding it difficult not to take sides.
"So — after that obvious and disgusting bit of cheating
"Jordan!" growled Professor McGonagall.
"I mean, after that open and revolting foul
'Jordan, I'm warning you - — "
"All right, all right. Flint nearly kills the Gryffindor Seeker, which could
happen to anyone, I'm sure, so a penalty to Gryffindor, taken by Spinner, who puts
it away, no trouble, and we continue play, Gryffindor still in possession."
It was as Harry dodged another Bludger, which went spinning dangerously past
his head, that it happened. His broom gave a sudden, frightening lurch. For a split
second, he thought he was going to fall. He gripped the broom tightly with both
his hands and knees. He'd never felt anything like that.
It happened again. It was as though the broom was trying to buck him off. But
Nimbus Two Thousands did not suddenly decide to buck their riders off. Harry tried
to turn back toward the Gryffindor goalposts
-- he had half a mind to ask Wood to call time-out — and then he realized that
his broom was completely out of his control. He couldn't turn it. He couldn't direct
it at all. It was zigzagging through the air, and every now and then making violent
swishing movements that almost unseated him.
Lee was still commentating.
"Slytherin in possession — Flint with the Quaffle — passes Spinnet -- passes
Bell — hit hard in the face by a Bludger, hope it broke his nose -- only joking,
Professor — Slytherins score — A no...
The Slytherins were cheering. No one seemed to have noticed that Harry's broom
was behaving strangely. It was carrying-him slowly higher, away from the game, jerking
and twitching as it went.
"Dunno what Harry thinks he's doing," Hagrid mumbled. He stared through his binoculars.
"If I didn' know better, I'd say he'd lost control of his broom... but he can't
Suddenly, people were pointing up at Harry all over the stands. His broom had
started to roll over and over, with him only just managing to hold on. Then the
whole crowd gasped. Harry's broom had given a wild jerk and Harry swung off it.
He was now dangling from it, holding on with only one hand.
"Did something happen to it when Flint blocked him?" Seamus whispered.
"Can't have," Hagrid said, his voice shaking. "Can't nothing interfere with a
broomstick except powerful Dark magic — no kid could do that to a Nimbus Two Thousand."
At these words, Hermione seized Hagrid's binoculars, but instead of looking up
at Harry, she started looking frantically at the crowd.
"What are you doing?" moaned Ron, gray-faced.
"I knew it," Hermione gasped, "Snape — look."
Ron grabbed the binoculars. Snape was in the middle of the stands opposite them.
He had his eyes fixed on Harry and was muttering nonstop under his breath.
"He's doing something — jinxing the broom," said Hermione.
"What should we do?"
"Leave it to me."
Before Ron could say another word, Hermione had disappeared. Ron turned the binoculars
back on Harry. His broom was vibrating so hard, it was almost impossible for him
to hang on much longer. The whole crowd was on its feet, watching, terrified, as
the Weasleys flew up to try and pull Harry safely onto one of their brooms, but
it was no good — every time they got near him, the broom would jump higher still.
They dropped lower and circled beneath him, obviously hoping to catch him if he
Flint seized the Quaffle and scored five times without anyone noticing.
"Come on, Hermione," Ron muttered desperately.
Hermione had fought her way across to the stand where Snape stood, and was now
racing along the row behind him; she didn't even stop to say sorry as she knocked
Professor Quirrell headfirst into the row in front. Reaching Snape, she crouched
down, pulled out her wand, and whispered a few, well-chosen words. Bright blue flames
shot from her wand onto the hem of Snape's robes.
It took perhaps thirty seconds for Snape to realize that he was on fire. A sudden
yelp told her she had done her job. Scooping the fire off him into a little jar
in her pocket, she scrambled back along the row -- Snape would never know what had
It was enough. Up in the air, Harry was suddenly able to clamber back on to his
"Neville, you can look!" Ron said. Neville had been sobbing into Hagrid's jacket
for the last five minutes.
Harry was speeding toward the ground when the crowd saw him clap his hand to
his mouth as though he was about to be sick — he hit the field on all fours — coughed
— and something gold fell into his hand.
"I've got the Snitch!" he shouted, waving it above his head, and the game ended
in complete confusion.
"He didn't catch it, he nearly swallowed it," Flint was still howling twenty
minutes later, but it made no difference — Harry hadn't broken any rules and Lee
Jordan was still happily shouting the results -- Gryffindor had won by one hundred
and seventy points to sixty. Harry heard none of this, though. He was being made
a cup of strong tea back in Hagrid's hut, with Ron and Hermione.
"It was Snape," Ron was explaining, "Hermione and I saw him. He was cursing your
broomstick, muttering, he wouldn't take his eyes off you."
"Rubbish," said Hagrid, who hadn't heard a word of what had gone on next to him
in the stands. "Why would Snape do somethin' like that?"
Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at one another, wondering what to tell him. Harry
decided on the truth.
"I found out something about him," he told Hagrid. "He tried to get past that
three-headed dog on Halloween. It bit him. We think he was trying to steal whatever
Hagrid dropped the teapot.
"How do you know about Fluffy?" he said.
"Yeah — he's mine — bought him off a Greek chappie I met in the pub las' year
— I lent him to Dumbledore to guard the
"Yes?" said Harry eagerly.
"Now, don't ask me anymore," said Hagrid gruffly. "That's top secret, that is."
"But Snape's trying to steal it."
"Rubbish," said Hagrid again. "Snape's a Hogwarts teacher, he'd do nothin' of
"So why did he just try and kill Harry?" cried Hermione.
The afternoon's events certainly seemed to have changed her mind about Snape.
I know a jinx when I see one, Hagrid, I've read all about them!
You've got to keep eye contact, and Snape wasn't blinking at all, I saw him!"
"I'm tellin' yeh, yer wrong!" said Hagrid hotly. "I don' know why Harry's broom
acted like that, but Snape wouldn' try an' kill a student! Now, listen to me, all
three of yeh — yer meddlin' in things that don' concern yeh. It's dangerous. You
forget that dog, an' you forget what it's guardin', that's between Professor Dumbledore
an' Nicolas Flamel - — "
"Aha!" said Harry, "so there's someone called Nicolas Flamel involved, is there?"
Hagrid looked furious with himself.
THE MIRROR OF ERISED
Christmas was coming. One morning in mid-December, Hogwarts woke to find itself
covered in several feet of snow. The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were
punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around,
bouncing off the back of his turban. The few owls that managed to battle their way
through the stormy sky to deliver mail had to be nursed back to health by Hagrid
before they could fly off again.
No one could wait for the holidays to start. While the Gryffindor common room
and the Great Hall had roaring fires, the drafty corridors had become icy and a
bitter wind rattled the windows in the classrooms. Worst of all were Professor Snape's
classes down in the dungeons, where their breath rose in a mist before them and
they kept as close as possible to their hot cauldrons.
"I do feel so sorry," said Draco Malfoy, one Potions class, "for all those people
who have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas because they're not wanted at home."
He was looking over at Harry as he spoke. Crabbe and Goyle chuckled. Harry, who
was measuring out powdered spine of lionfish, ignored them. Malfoy had been even
more unpleasant than usual since the Quidditch match. Disgusted that the Slytherins
had lost, he had tried to get everyone laughing at how a wide-mouthed tree frog
would be replacing Harry as Seeker next. Then he'd realized that nobody found this
funny, because they were all so impressed at the way Harry had managed to stay on
his bucking broomstick. So Malfoy, jealous and angry, had gone back to taunting
Harry about having no proper family.
It was true that Harry wasn't going back to Privet Drive for Christmas. Professor
McGonagall had come around the week before, making a list of students who would
be staying for the holidays, and Harry had signed up at once. He didn't feel sorry
for himself at all; this would probably be the best Christmas he'd ever had. Ron
and his brothers were staying, too, because Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were going to Romania
to visit Charlie.
When they left the dungeons at the end of Potions, they found a large fir tree
blocking the corridor ahead. Two enormous feet sticking out at the bottom and a
loud puffing sound told them that Hagrid was behind it.
"Hi, Hagrid, want any help?" Ron asked, sticking his head through the branches.
"Nah, I'm all right, thanks, Ron."
"Would you mind moving out of the way?" came Malfoys cold drawl from behind them.
"Are you trying to earn some extra money, Weasley? Hoping to be gamekeeper yourself
when you leave Hogwarts, I suppose — that hut of Hagrid's must seem like a palace
compared to what your family's used to."
Ron dived at Malfoy just as Snape came up the stairs.
Ron let go of the front of Malfoy's robes.
"He was provoked, Professor Snape," said Hagrid, sticking his huge hairy face
out from behind the tree. "Malfoy was insultin' his family."
"Be that as it may, fighting is against Hogwarts rules, Hagrid," said Snape silkily.
"Five points from Gryffindor, Weasley, and be grateful it isn't more. Move along,
all of you."
Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle pushed roughly past the tree, scattering needles everywhere
"I'll get him," said Ron, grinding his teeth at Malfoy's back, "one of these
days, I'll get him - — "
"I hate them both," said Harry, "Malfoy and Snape."
"Come on, cheer up, it's nearly Christmas," said Hagrid. "Tell yeh what, come
with me an' see the Great Hall, looks a treat."
So the three of them followed Hagrid and his tree off to -the Great Hall, where
Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick were busy with the Christmas decorations.
"Ah, Hagrid, the last tree — put it in the far corner, would you?"
The hall looked spectacular. Festoons of holly and mistletoe hung all around
the walls, and no less than twelve towering Christmas trees stood around the room,
some sparkling with tiny icicles, some glittering with hundreds of candles.
"How many days you got left until yer holidays?" Hagrid asked.
"Just one," said Hermione. "And that reminds me -Harry, Ron, we've got half an
hour before lunch, we should be in the library."
"Oh yeah, you're right," said Ron, tearing his eyes away from Professor Flitwick,
who had golden bubbles blossoming out of his wand and was trailing them over the
branches of the new tree.
"The library?" said Hagrid, following them out of the hall. "Just before the
holidays? Bit keen, aren't yeh?"
"Oh, we're not working," Harry told him brightly. "Ever since you mentioned Nicolas
Flamel we've been trying to find out who he is."
"You what?" Hagrid looked shocked. "Listen here — I've told yeh — drop it. It's
nothin' to you what that dog's guardin'."