"Not if you don't give us away, Peeves, please."
"Should tell Filch, I should," said Peeves in a saintly voice, but his eyes glittered
wickedly. "It's for your own good, you know."
"Get out of the way," snapped Ron, taking a swipe at Peeves this was a big mistake.
"STUDENTS OUT OF BED!" Peeves bellowed, "STUDENTS OUT OF BED DOWN THE CHARMS
Ducking under Peeves, they ran for their lives, right to the end of the corridor
where they slammed into a door — and it was locked.
"This is it!" Ron moaned, as they pushed helplessly at the door, "We're done
for! This is the end!" They could hear footsteps, Filch running as fast as he could
toward Peeves's shouts.
"Oh, move over," Hermione snarled. She grabbed Harry's wand, tapped the lock,
and whispered, 'Alohomora!"
The lock clicked and the door swung open — they piled through it, shut it quickly,
and pressed their ears against it, listening.
"Which way did they go, Peeves?" Filch was saying. "Quick, tell me."
"Don't mess with me, Peeves, now where did they go?"
"Shan't say nothing if you don't say please," said Peeves in his annoying singsong
"All right -please."
"NOTHING! Ha haaa! Told you I wouldn't say nothing if you didn't say please!
Ha ha! Haaaaaa!" And they heard the sound of Peeves whooshing away and Filch cursing
"He thinks this door is locked," Harry whispered. "I think we'll be okay -- get
off, Neville!" For Neville had been tugging on the sleeve of Harry's bathrobe for
the last minute. "What?"
Harry turned around — and saw, quite clearly, what. For a moment, he was sure
he'd walked into a nightmare — this was too much, on top of everything that had
happened so far.
They weren't in a room, as he had supposed. They were in a corridor. The forbidden
corridor on the third floor. And now they knew why it was forbidden.
They were looking straight into the eyes of a monstrous dog, a dog that filled
the whole space between ceiling and floor. It had three heads. Three pairs of rolling,
mad eyes; three noses, twitching
and quivering in their direction; three drooling mouths, saliva hanging in slippery
ropes from yellowish fangs.
It was standing quite still, all six eyes staring at them, and Harry knew that
the only reason they weren't already dead was that their sudden appearance had taken
it by surprise, but it was quickly getting over that, there was no mistaking what
those thunderous growls meant.
Harry groped for the doorknob — between Filch and death, he'd take Filch.
They fell backward — Harry slammed the door shut, and they ran, they almost flew,
back down the corridor. Filch must have hurried off to look for them somewhere else,
because they didn't see him anywhere, but they hardly cared — all they wanted to
do was put as much space as possible between them and that monster. They didn't
stop running until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady on the seventh floor.
"Where on earth have you all been?" she asked, looking at their bathrobes hanging
off their shoulders and their flushed, sweaty faces.
"Never mind that — pig snout, pig snout," panted Harry, and the portrait swung
forward. They scrambled into the common room and collapsed, trembling, into armchairs.
It was a while before any of them said anything. Neville, indeed, looked as if
he'd never speak again.
"What do they think they're doing, keeping a thing like that locked up in a school?"
said Ron finally. "If any dog needs exercise, that one does."
Hermione had got both her breath and her bad temper back again. "You don't use
your eyes, any of you, do you?" she snapped. "Didn't you see what it was standing
"The floor?" Harry suggested. "I wasn't looking at its feet, I was too busy with
"No, not the floor. It was standing on a trapdoor. It's obviously guarding something."
She stood up, glaring at them.
I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed -- or worse,
expelled. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to bed."
Ron stared after her, his mouth open.
"No, we don't mind," he said. "You'd think we dragged her along, wouldn't you.
But Hermione had given Harry something else to think about as he climbed back
into bed. The dog was guarding something.... What had Hagrid said? Gringotts was
the safest place in the world for something you wanted to hide — except perhaps
It looked as though Harry had found out where the grubby littie package from
vault seven hundred and thirteen was.
Malfoy couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that Harry and Ron were still at
Hogwarts the next day, looking tired but perfectly cheerful. Indeed, by the next
morning Harry and Ron thought that meeting the three-headed dog had been an excellent
adventure, and they were quite keen to have another one. In the meantime, Harry
filled Ron in about the package that seemed to have been moved from Gringotts to
Hogwarts, and they spent a lot of time wondering what could possibly need such heavy
protection. "It's either really valuable or really dangerous," said Ron. "Or both,"
But as all they knew for sure about the mysterious object was that it was about
two inches long, they didn't have much chance of guessing what it was without further
Neither Neville nor Hermione showed the slightest interest in what lay underneath
the dog and the trapdoor. All Neville cared about was never going near the dog again.
Hermione was now refusing to speak to Harry and Ron, but she was such a bossy
know-it-all that they saw this as an added bonus. All they really wanted now was
a way of getting back at Malfoy, and to their great delight, just such a thing arrived
in the mail about a week later.
As the owls flooded into the Great Hall as usual, everyone's attention was caught
at once by a long, thin package carried by six large screech owls. Harry was just
as interested as everyone else to see what was in this large parcel, and was amazed
when the owls soared down and dropped it right in front of him, knocking his bacon
to the floor. They had hardly fluttered out of the way when another owl dropped
a letter on top of the parcel.
Harry ripped open the letter first, which was lucky, because it said:
DO NOT OPEN THE PARCEL AT THE TABLE.
It contains your new Nimbus Two Thousand, but I don't want everybody knowing
you've got a broomstick or they'll all want one. Oliver Wood will meet you tonight
on the Quidditch field at seven o'clock for your first training session.
Harry had difficulty hiding his glee as he handed the note to Ron to read.
"A Nimbus Two Thousand!" Ron moaned enviously. "I've never even touched one."
They left the hall quickly, wanting to unwrap the broomstick in private before
their first class, but halfway across the entrance hall they found the way upstairs
barred by Crabbe and Goyle. Malfoy seized the package from Harry and felt it.
"That's a broomstick," he said, throwing it back to Harry with a mixture of jealousy
and spite on his face. "You'll be in for it this time, Potter, first years aren't
Ron couldn't resist it.
"It's not any old broomstick," he said, "it's a Nimbus Two Thousand. What did
you say you've got at home, Malfoy, a Comet Two Sixty?" Ron grinned at Harry. "Comets
look flashy, but they're not in the same league as the Nimbus."
"What would you know about it, Weasley, you couldn't afford half the handle,"
Malfoy snapped back. "I suppose you and your brothers have to save up twig by twig."
Before Ron could answer, Professor Flitwick appeared at Malfoy's elbow.
"Not arguing, I hope, boys?" he squeaked.
"Potter's been sent a broomstick, Professor," said Malfoy quickly.
"Yes, yes, that's right," said Professor Flitwick, beaming at Harry. "Professor
McGonagall told me all about the special circumstances, Potter. And what model is
"A Nimbus Two Thousand, sit," said Harry, fighting not to laugh at the look of
horror on Malfoy's face. "And it's really thanks to Malfoy here that I've got it,"
Harry and Ron headed upstairs, smothering their laughter at Malfoy's obvious
rage and confusion. "Well, it's true," Harry chortled as they reached the top of
the marble staircase, "If he hadn't stolen Neville's Remembrall I wouln't be on
"So I suppose you think that's a reward for breaking rules?" came an angry voice
from just behind them. Hermione was stomping up the stairs, looking disapprovingly
at the package in Harry's hand.
"I thought you weren't speaking to us?" said Harry.
"Yes, don't stop now," said Ron, "it's doing us so much good."
Hermione marched away with her nose in the air.
Harry had a lot of trouble keeping his mind on his lessons that day. It kept
wandering up to the dormitory where his new broomstick was lying under his bed,
or straying off to the Quidditch field where he'd be learning to play that night.
He bolted his dinner that evening without noticing what he was eating, and then
rushed upstairs with Ron to unwrap the Nimbus Two Thousand at last.
"Wow," Ron sighed, as the broomstick rolled onto Harry's bedspread.
Even Harry, who knew nothing about the different brooms, thought it looked wonderful.
Sleek and shiny, with a mahogany handle, it had a long tail of neat, straight twigs
and Nimbus Two Thousand written in gold near the top.
As seven o'clock drew nearer, Harry left the castle and set off in the dusk toward
the Quidditch field. Held never been inside the stadium before. Hundreds of seats
were raised in stands around the field so that the spectators were high enough to
see what was going on. At either end of the field were three golden poles with hoops
on the end. They reminded Harry of the little plastic sticks Muggle
children blew bubbles through, except that they were fifty feet high.
Too eager to fly again to wait for Wood, Harry mounted his broomstick and kicked
off from the ground. What a feeling — he swooped in and out of the goal posts and
then sped up and down the field. The Nimbus Two Thousand turned wherever he wanted
at his lightest touch.
"Hey, Potter, come down!'
Oliver Wood had arrived. fie was carrying a large wooden crate under his arm.
Harry landed next to him.
"Very nice," said Wood, his eyes glinting. "I see what McGonagall meant... you
really are a natural. I'm just going to teach you the rules this evening, then you'll
be joining team practice three times a week."
He opened the crate. Inside were four different-sized balls.
"Right," said Wood. "Now, Quidditch is easy enough to understand, even if it's
not too easy to play. There are seven players on each side. Three of them are called
"Three Chasers," Harry repeated, as Wood took out a bright red ball about the
size of a soccer ball.
"This ball's called the Quaffle," said Wood. "The Chasers throw the Quaffle to
each other and try and get it through one of the hoops to score a goal. Ten points
every time the Quaffle goes through one of the hoops. Follow me?"
"The Chasers throw the Quaffle and put it through the hoops to score," Harry
recited. "So — that's sort of like basketball on broomsticks with six hoops, isn't
"What's basketball?" said Wood curiously. "Never mind," said Harry quickly.
"Now, there's another player on each side who's called the Keeper -I'm Keeper
for Gryffindor. I have to fly around our hoops and stop the other team from scoring."
"Three Chasers, one Keeper," said Harry, who was determined to remember it all.
"And they play with the Quaffle. Okay, got that. So what are they for?" He pointed
at the three balls left inside the box.
"I'll show you now," said Wood. "Take this."
He handed Harry a small club, a bit like a short baseball bat.
"I'm going to show you what the Bludgers do," Wood said. "These two are the Bludgers."
He showed Harry two identical balls, jet black and slightly smaller than the
red Quaffle. Harry noticed that they seemed to be straining to escape the straps
holding them inside the box.
"Stand back," Wood warned Harry. He bent down and freed one of the Bludgers.
At once, the black ball rose high in the air and then pelted straight at Harry's
face. Harry swung at it with the bat to stop it from breaking his nose, and sent
it zigzagging away into the air — it zoomed around their heads and then shot at
Wood, who dived on top of it and managed to pin it to the ground.
"See?" Wood panted, forcing the struggling Bludger back into the crate and strapping
it down safely. "The Bludgers rocket around, trying to knock players off their brooms.
That's why you have two Beaters on each team — the Weasley twins are ours — it's
their job to protect their side from the Bludgers and try and knock them toward
the other team. So -- think you've got all that?"
"Three Chasers try and score with the Quaffle; the Keeper guards the goal posts;
the Beaters keep the Bludgers away from their team," Harry reeled off.
"Very good," said Wood.
"Er — have the Bludgers ever killed anyone?" Harry asked, hoping he sounded offhand.