"I'm disgusted," said Professor McGonagall. "Four students out of bed in one
night! I've never heard of such a thing before! You, Miss Granger, I thought you
had more sense. As for you, Mr. Potter, I thought Gryffindor meant more to you than
this. All three of you will receive detentions -- yes, you too, Mr. Longbottom,
nothing gives you the right to walk around school at night, especially these days,
it's very dangerous — and fifty points will be taken from Gryffindor."
"Fifty?" Harry gasped — they would lose the lead, the lead he'd won in the last
"Fifty points each," said Professor McGonagall, breathing heavily through her
long, pointed nose.
"Professor — please
"You can't - — "
"Don't tell me what I can and can't do, Potter. Now get back to bed, all of you.
I've never been more ashamed of Gryffindor students."
A hundred and fifty points lost. That put Gryffindor in last place. In one night,
they'd ruined any chance Gryffindor had had for the house cup. Harry felt as though
the bottom had dropped out of his stomach. How could they ever make up for this?
Harry didn't sleep all night. He could hear Neville sobbing into his pillow for
what seemed like hours. Harry couldn't think of anything to say to comfort him.
He knew Neville, like himself, was dreading the dawn. What would happen when the
rest of Gryffindor found out what they'd done?
At first, Gryffindors passing the giant hourglasses that recorded the house points
the next day thought there'd been a mistake. How could they suddenly have a hundred
and fifty points fewer than yesterday? And then the story started to spread: Harry
Potter, the famous Harry Potter, their hero of two Quidditch matches, had lo st
them all those points, him and a couple of other stupid first years.
From being one of the most popular and admired people at the school, Harry was
suddenly the most hated. Even Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs turned on him, because
everyone had been longing to see Slytherin lose the house cup. Everywhere Harry
went, people pointed and didn't trouble to lower their voices as they insulted him.
Slytherins, on the other hand, clapped as he walked past them, whistling and cheering,
"Thanks Potter, we owe you one!"
Only Ron stood by him.
"They'll all forget this in a few weeks. Fred and George have lost loads of points
in all the time they've been here, and people still like them."
"They've never lost a hundred and fifty points in one go, though, have they?"
said Harry miserably.
"Well — no," Ron admitted.
It was a bit late to repair the damage, but Harry swore to himself not to meddle
in things that weren't his business from now on. He'd had it with sneaking around
and spying. He felt so ashamed of himself that he went to Wood and offered to resign
from the Quidditch team.
"Resign?" Wood thundered. "What good'll that do? How are we going to get any
points back if we can't win at Quidditch?"
But even Quidditch had lost its fun. The rest of the team wouldn't speak to Harry
during practice, and if they had to speak about him, they called him "the Seeker."
Hermione and Neville were suffering, too. They didn't have as bad a time as Harry,
because they weren't as well-known, but nobody would speak to them, either. Hermione
had stopped drawing attention to herself in class, keeping her head down and working
Harry was almost glad that the exams weren't far away. All the studying he had
to do kept his mind off his misery. He, Ron, and Hermione kept to themselves, working
late into the night, trying to remember the ingredients in complicated potions,
learn charms and spells by heart, memorize the dates of magical discoveries and
Then, about a week before the exams were due to start, Harry's new resolution
not to interfere in anything that didn't concern him was put to an unexpected test.
Walking back from the library on his own one afternoon, he heard somebody whimpering
from a classroom up ahead. As he drew closer, he heard Quirrell's voice.
"No — no — not again, please - — "
It sounded as though someone was threatening him. Harry moved closer.
"All right — all right - — " he heard Quirrell sob.
Next second, Quirrell came hurrying out of the classroom straightening his turban.
He was pale and looked as though he was about to cry. He strode out of sight; Harry
didn't think Quirrell had even noticed him. He waited until Quirrell's footsteps
had disappeared, then peered into the classroom. It was empty, but a door stood
ajar at the other end. Harry was halfway toward it before he remembered what he'd
promised himself about not meddling.
All the same, he'd have gambled twelve Sorcerer's Stones that Snape had just
left the room, and from what Harry had just heard, Snape would be walking with a
new spring in his step — Quirrell seemed to have given in at last.
Harry went back to the library, where Hermione was testing Ron on Astronomy.
Harry told them what he'd heard.
"Snape's done it, then!" said Ron. "If Quirrell's told him how to break his Anti-Dark
Force spell - — "
"There's still Fluffy, though," said Hermione.
"Maybe Snape's found out how to get past him without asking Hagrid," said Ron,
looking up at the thousands of books surrounding them. "I bet there's a book somewhere
in here telling you how to get past a giant three-headed dog. So what do we do,
The light of adventure was kindling again in Ron's eyes, but Hermione answered
before Harry could.
"Go to Dumbledore. That's what we should have done ages ago. If we try anything
ourselves we'll be thrown out for sure."
"But we've got no proof!" said Harry. "Quirrell's too scared to back us up. Snape's
only got to say he doesn't know how the troll got in at Halloween and that he was
nowhere near the third floor — who do you think they'll believe, him or us? It's
not exactly a secret we hate him, Dumbledore'll think we made it up to get him sacked.
Filch wouldn't help us if his life depended on it, he's too friendly with Snape,
and the more students get thrown out, the better, he'll think. And don't forget,
we're not supposed to know about the Stone or Fluffy. That'll take a lot of explaining."
Hermione looked convinced, but Ron didn't.
"If we just do a bit of poking around - — "
"No," said Harry flatly, "we've done enough poking around."
He pulled a map of Jupiter toward him and started to learn the names of its moons.
The following morning, notes were delivered to Harry, Hermione, and Neville at
the breakfast table. They were all the same:
Your detention will take place at eleven o'clock tonight. Meet Mr. Filch in the
Professor McGonagall Harry had forgotten they still had detentions to do in the
furor over the points they'd lost. He half expected Hermione to complain that this
was a whole night of studying lost, but she didn't say a word. Like Harry, she felt
they deserved what they'd got.
At eleven o'clock that night, they said good-bye to Ron in the common room and
went down to the entrance hall with Neville. Filch was already there — and so was
Malfoy. Harry had also forgotten that Malfoy had gotten a detention, too.
"Follow me," said Filch, lighting a lamp and leading them outside.
I bet you'll think twice about breaking a school rule again, won't you, eh?"
he said, leering at them. "Oh yes... hard work and pain are the best teachers if
you ask me.... It's just a pity they let the old punishments die out... hang you
by your wrists from the ceiling for a few days, I've got the chains still in my
office, keep 'em well oiled in case they're ever needed.... Right, off we go, and
don't think of running off, now, it'll be worse for you if you do."
They marched off across the dark grounds. Neville kept sniffing. Harry wondered
what their punishment was going to be. It must be something really horrible, or
Filch wouldn't be sounding so delighted.
The moon was bright, but clouds scudding across it kept throwing them into darkness.
Ahead, Harry could see the lighted windows of Hagrid's hut. Then they heard a distant
"Is that you, Filch? Hurry up, I want ter get started."
Harry's heart rose; if they were going to be working with Hagrid it wouldn't
be so bad. His relief must have showed in his -face, because Filch said, "I suppose
you think you'll be enjoying yourself with that oaf? Well, think again, boy — it's
into the forest you're going and I'm much mistaken if you'll all come out in one
At this, Neville let out a little moan, and Malfoy stopped dead in his tracks.
"The forest?" he repeated, and he didn't sound quite as cool as usual. "We can't
go in there at night — there's all sorts of things in there -- werewolves, I heard."
Neville clutched the sleeve of Harry's robe and made a choking noise.
"That's your problem, isn't it?" said Filch, his voice cracking with glee. "Should've
thought of them werewolves before you got in trouble, shouldn't you?"
Hagrid came striding toward them out of the dark, Fang at his heel. He was carrying
his large crossbow, and a quiver of arrows hung over his shoulder.
"Abou' time," he said. "I bin waitin' fer half an hour already. All right, Harry,
"I shouldn't be too friendly to them, Hagrid," said Filch coldly, they're here
to be punished, after all."
"That's why yer late, is it?" said Hagrid, frowning at Filch. "Bin lecturin'
them, eh? 'Snot your place ter do that. Yeh've done yer bit, I'll take over from
"I'll be back at dawn," said Filch, "for what's left of them," he added nastily,
and he turned and started back toward the castle, his lamp bobbing away in the darkness.
Malfoy now turned to Hagrid.
"I'm not going in that forest, he said, and Harry was pleased to hear the note
of panic in his voice.
"Yeh are if yeh want ter stay at Hogwarts," said Hagrid fiercely. "Yeh've done
wrong an' now yehve got ter pay fer it."
"But this is servant stuff, it's not for students to do. I thought we'd be copying
lines or something, if my father knew I was doing this, he'd
tell yer that's how it is at Hogwarts," Hagrid growled. "Copyin' lines! What
good's that ter anyone? Yeh'll do summat useful or Yeh'll get out. If yeh think
yer father'd rather you were expelled, then get back off ter the castle an' pack.
Malfoy didn't move. He looked at Hagrid furiously, but then dropped his gaze.
"Right then," said Hagrid, "now, listen carefully, 'cause it's dangerous what
we're gonna do tonight, an' I don' want no one takin' risks. Follow me over here
He led them to the very edge of the forest. Holding his lamp up high, he pointed
down a narrow, winding earth track that disappeared into the thick black trees.
A light breeze lifted their hair as they looked into the forest.
"Look there," said Hagrid, "see that stuff shinin' on the ground? Silvery stuff?
That's unicorn blood. There's a unicorn in there bin hurt badly by summat. This
is the second time in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We're gonna try an'
find the poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery."
"And what if whatever hurt the unicorn finds us first?" said Malfoy, unable to
keep the fear out of his voice.
"There's nothin' that lives in the forest that'll hurt yeh if yer with me or
Fang," said Hagrid. "An' keep ter the path. Right, now, we're gonna split inter
two parties an' follow the trail in diffrent directions. There's blood all over
the place, it must've bin staggerin' around since last night at least."
"I want Fang," said Malfoy quickly, looking at Fang's long teeth.
"All right, but I warn yeh, he's a coward," said Hagrid. " So me, Harry, an'
Hermione'll go one way an' Draco, Neville, an' Fang'll go the other. Now, if any
of us finds the unicorn, we'll send up green sparks, right? Get yer wands out an'
practice now — that's it — an' if anyone gets in trouble, send up red sparks, an'
we'll all come an' find yeh — so, be careful — let's go."
The forest was black and silent. A little way into it they reached a fork in
the earth path, and Harry, Hermione, and Hagrid took the left path while Malfoy,
Neville, and Fang took the right.
They walked in silence, their eyes on the ground. Every now and then a ray of
moonlight through the branches above lit a spot of silver-blue blood on the fallen
Harry saw that Hagrid looked very worried.
"Could a werewolf be killing the unicorns?" Harry asked.
"Not fast enough," said Hagrid. "It's not easy ter catch a unicorn, they're powerful
magic creatures. I never knew one ter be hurt before."
They walked past a mossy tree stump. Harry could hear running water; there must
be a stream somewhere close by. There were still spots of unicorn blood here and
there along the winding path.
"You all right, Hermione?" Hagrid whispered. "Don' worry, it can't've gone far
if it's this badly hurt, an' then we'll be able ter — GET BEHIND THAT TREE!"
Hagrid seized Harry and Hermione and hoisted them off the path behind a towering
oak. He pulled out an arrow and fitted it into his crossbow, raising it, ready to
fire. The three of them listened. Something was slithering over dead leaves nearby:
it sounded like a cloak trailing along the ground. Hagrid was squinting up the dark
path, but after a few seconds, the sound faded away.