Professor McGonagall stopped outside a classroom. She opened the door and poked
her head inside.
"Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood for a moment?"
Wood? thought Harry, bewildered; was Wood a cane she was going to use on him?
But Wood turned out to be a person, a burly fifth-year boy who came out of Flitwicles
class looking confused.
"Follow me, you two," said Professor McGonagall, and they marched on up the corridor,
Wood looking curiously at Harry.
Professor McGonagall pointed them into a classroom that was empty except for
Peeves, who was busy writing rude words on the blackboard.
"Out, Peeves!" she barked. Peeves threw the chalk into a bin, which clanged loudly,
and he swooped out cursing. Professor McGonagall slammed the door behind him and
turned to face the two boys.
"Potter, this is Oliver Wood. Wood — I've found you a Seeker."
Wood's expression changed from puzzlement to delight.
"Are you serious, Professor?"
"Absolutely," said Professor McGonagall crisply. "The boy's a natural. I've never
seen anything like it. Was that your first time on a broomstick, Potter?"
Harry nodded silently. He didn't have a clue what was going on, but he didn't
seem to be being expelled, and some of the feeling started coming back to his legs.
"He caught that thing in his hand after a fifty-foot dive," Professor McGonagall
told Wood. "Didn't even scratch himself. Charlie Weasley couldn't have done it."
Wood was now looking as though all his dreams had come true at once.
"Ever seen a game of Quidditch, Potter?" he asked excitedly.
"Wood's captain of the Gryffindor team," Professor McGonagall explained.
"He's just the build for a Seeker, too," said Wood, now walking around Harry
and staring at him. "Light — speedy — we'll have to get him a decent broom, Professor
— a Nimbus Two Thousand or a Cleansweep Seven, I'd say."
I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can't bend the first-year
rule. Heaven knows, we need a better team than last year. Flattened in that last
match by Slytherin, I couldn't look Severus Snape in the face for weeks...."
Professor McGonagall peered sternly over her glasses at Harry.
"I want to hear you're training hard, Potter, or I may change my mind about punishing
Then she suddenly smiled.
"Your father would have been proud," she said. "He was an excellent Quidditch
It was dinnertime. Harry had just finished telling Ron what had happened when
he'd left the grounds with Professor McGonagall. Ron had a piece of steak and kidney
pie halfway to his mouth, but he'd forgotten all about it.
"Seeker?" he said. "But first years never — you must be the youngest house player
in about a century, said Harry, shoveling pie into his mouth. He felt particularly
hungry after the excitement of the afternoon. "Wood told me."
Ron was so amazed, so impressed, he just sat and gaped at Harry.
"I start training next week," said Harry. "Only don't tell anyone, Wood wants
to keep it a secret."
Fred and George Weasley now came into the hall, spotted Harry, and hurried over.
"Well done," said George in a low voice. "Wood told us. We're on the team too
"I tell you, we're going to win that Quidditch cup for sure this year," said
Fred. "We haven't won since Charlie left, but this year's team is going to be brilliant.
You must be good, Harry, Wood was almost skipping when he told us."
"Anyway, we've got to go, Lee Jordan reckons he's found a new secret passageway
out of the school."
"Bet it's that one behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy that we found in our
first week. See you."
Fred and George had hardly disappeared when someone far less welcome turned up:
Malfoy, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.
"Having a last meal, Potter? When are you getting the train back to the Muggles?"
"You're a lot braver now that you're back on the ground and you've got your little
friends with you," said Harry coolly. There was of course nothing at all little
about Crabbe and Goyle, but as the High Table was full of teachers, neither of them
could do more than crack their knuckles and scowl.
"I'd take you on anytime on my own," said Malfoy. "Tonight, if you want. Wizard's
duel. Wands only — no contact. What's the matter? Never heard of a wizard's duel
before, I suppose?"
"Of course he has," said Ron, wheeling around. "I'm his second, who's yours?"
Malfoy looked at Crabbe and Goyle, sizing them up.
"Crabbe," he said. "Midnight all right? We'll meet you in the trophy room; that's
When Malfoy had gone, Ron and Harry looked at each other. "What is a wizard's
duel?" said Harry. "And what do you mean, you're my second?"
"Well, a second's there to take over if you die," said Ron casually, getting
started at last on his cold pie. Catching the look on Harry's face, he added quickly,
"But people only die in proper duels, you know, with real wizards. The most you
and Malfoy'll be able to do is send sparks at each other. Neither of you knows enough
magic to do any real damage. I bet he expected you to refuse, anyway."
"And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?"
"Throw it away and punch him on the nose," Ron suggested. "Excuse me."
They both looked up. It was Hermione Granger.
"Can't a person eat in peace in this place?" said Ron.
Hermione ignored him and spoke to Harry.
"I couldn't help overhearing what you and Malfoy were saying - — "
"Bet you could," Ron muttered.
"--and you mustn't go wandering around the school at night, think of the points
you'll lose Gryffindor if you're caught, and you're bound to be. It's really very
selfish of you."
"And it's really none of your business," said Harry.
"Good-bye," said Ron.
All the same, it wasn't what you'd call the perfect end to the day, Harry thought,
as he lay awake much later listening to Dean and Seamus falling asleep (Neville
wasn't back from the hospital wing). Ron had spent all evening giving him advice
such as "If he tries to curse you, you'd better dodge it, because I can't remember
how to block them." There was a very good chance they were going to get caught by
Filch or Mrs. Norris, and Harry felt he was pushing his luck, breaking another school
rule today. On the other hand, Malfoys sneering face kept looming up out of the
darkness — this was his big chance to beat Malfoy face-to-face. He couldn't miss
"Half-past eleven," Ron muttered at last, "we'd better go."
They pulled on their bathrobes, picked up their wands, and crept across the tower
room, down the spiral staircase, and into the Gryffindor common room. A few embers
were still glowing in the fireplace, turning all the armchairs into hunched black
shadows. They had almost reached the portrait hole when a voice spoke from the chair
nearest them, "I can't believe you're going to do this, Harry."
A lamp flickered on. It was Hermione Granger, wearing a pink bathrobe and a frown.
"You!" said Ron furiously. "Go back to bed!"
"I almost told your brother," Hermione snapped, "Percy — he's a prefect, he'd
put a stop to this."
Harry couldn't believe anyone could be so interfering.
"Come on," he said to Ron. He pushed open the portrait of the Fat Lady and climbed
through the hole.
Hermione wasn't going to give up that easily. She followed Ron through the portrait
hole, hissing at them like an angry goose.
"Don't you care about Gryffindor, do you only care about yourselves, I don't
want Slytherin to win the house cup, and you'll lose all the points I got from Professor
McGonagall for knowing about Switching Spells."
"Go away." "All right, but I warned you, you just remember what I said when you're
on the train home tomorrow, you're so - — "
But what they were, they didn't find out. Hermione had turned to the portrait
of the Fat Lady to get back inside and found herself facing an empty painting. The
Fat Lady had gone on a nighttime visit and Hermione was locked out of Gryffindor
"Now what am I going to do?" she asked shrilly.
"That's your problem," said Ron. "We've got to go, we 3 re going to be late."
They hadn't even reached the end of the corridor when Hermione caught up with
"I'm coming with you," she said.
"You are not."
"D'you think I'm going to stand out here and wait for Filch to catch me? If he
finds all three of us I'll tell him the truth, that I was trying to stop you, and
you can back me up."
"You've got some nerve - — " said Ron loudly.
"Shut up, both of you!" said Harry sharply. I heard something."
It was a sort of snuffling.
"Mrs. Norris?" breathed Ron, squinting through the dark.
It wasn't Mrs. Norris. It was Neville. He was curled up on the floor, fast asleep,
but jerked suddenly awake as they crept nearer.
"Thank goodness you found me! I've been out here for hours, I couldn't remember
the new password to get in to bed."
"Keep your voice down, Neville. The password's 'Pig snout' but it won't help
you now, the Fat Lady's gone off somewhere."
"How's your arm?" said Harry.
"Fine," said Neville, showing them. "Madam Pomfrey mended it in about a minute."
"Good — well, look, Neville, we've got to be somewhere, we'll see you later -
"Don't leave me!" said Neville, scrambling to his feet, "I don't want to stay
here alone, the Bloody Baron's been past twice already."
Ron looked at his watch and then glared furiously at Hermione and Neville.
"If either of you get us caught, I'll never rest until I've learned that Curse
of the Bogies Quirrell told us about, and used it on you.
Hermione opened her mouth, perhaps to tell Ron exactly how to use the Curse of
the Bogies, but Harry hissed at her to be quiet and beckoned them all forward.
They flitted along corridors striped with bars of moonlight from the high windows.
At every turn Harry expected to run into Filch or Mrs. Norris, but they were lucky.
They sped up a staircase to the third floor and tiptoed toward the trophy room.
Malfoy and Crabbe weren't there yet. The crystal trophy cases glimmered where
the moonlight caught them. Cups, shields, plates, and statues winked silver and
gold in the darkness. They edged along the walls, keeping their eyes on the doors
at either end of the room. Harry took out his wand in case Malfoy leapt in and started
at once. The minutes crept by.
"He's late, maybe he's chickened out," Ron whispered.
Then a noise in the next room made them jump. Harry had only just raised his
wand when they heard someone speak -and it wasn't Malfoy.
"Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner."
It was Filch speaking to Mrs. Norris. Horror-struck, Harry waved madly at the
other three to follow him as quickly as possible; they scurried silently toward
the door, away from Filch's voice. Neville's robes had barely whipped round the
corner when they heard Filch enter the trophy room.
"They're in here somewhere," they heard him mutter, "probably hiding."
"This way!" Harry mouthed to the others and, petrified, they began to creep down
a long gallery full of suits of armor. They could hear Filch getting nearer. Neville
suddenly let out a frightened squeak and broke into a run -he tripped, grabbed Ron
around the waist, and the pair of them toppled right into a suit of armor.
The clanging and crashing were enough to wake the whole castle.
"RUN!" Harry yelled, and the four of them sprinted down the gallery, not looking
back to see whether Filch was following — they swung around the doorpost and galloped
down one corridor then another, Harry in the lead, without any idea where they were
or where they were going — they ripped through a tapestry and found themselves in
a hidden passageway, hurtled along it and came out near their Charms classroom,
which they knew was miles from the trophy room.
"I think we've lost him," Harry panted, leaning against the cold wall and wiping
his forehead. Neville was bent double, wheezing and spluttering.
I — told -you," Hermione gasped, clutching at the stitch in her chest, "I — told
"We've got to get back to Gryffindor tower," said Ron, "quickly as possible."
"Malfoy tricked you," Hermione said to Harry. "You realize that, don't you? He
was never going to meet you — Filch knew someone was going to be in the trophy room,
Malfoy must have tipped him off."
Harry thought she was probably right, but he wasn't going to tell her that.
It wasn't going to be that simple. They hadn't gone more than a dozen paces when
a doorknob rattled and something came shooting out of a classroom in front of them.
It was Peeves. He caught sight of them and gave a squeal of delight.
"Shut up, Peeves — please — you'll get us thrown out."
"Wandering around at midnight, Ickle Firsties? Tut, tut, tut. Naughty, naughty,
you'll get caughty."