Broomsticks Creatures Quidditch


- Chapter 10

"Harry then did something that was both very brave and very stupid..."

PS10: Hallowe’en

Harry receives a Nimbus 2000 broom, learns the rules of Quidditch and begins to practice. On Hallowe’en Hermione masters levitation in Charms but the remarks of a jealous Ron send her in tears to the girls’ bathroom, where she is trapped with a troll. Harry and Ron run to her rescue and defeat the troll. Hermione tells a lie to keep them out of trouble, and the three become friends.

Calendar and Dates

The chapter begins on the morning of Friday, September 13. The broomstick arrives a week later, which we'll estimate as Thursday, September 19th. Why Thursday and not Friday? Elise, a Lexicon reader, reasons:

I'm a bit doubtful that the first half of this chapter would take place on Friday, September 20th. It seems the most obvious conclusion given the "after about a week" remark but, Harry and Ron go upstairs immediately after breakfast to stash the Nimbus in their dorm, then they go to class, then they have dinner, and only then they finally go unwrap the broomstick. But we know from Hagrid's note to Harry a few chapters back that Harry & co actually have Friday afternoons off, so why would they wait until after dinner? Especially since the narration states that Harry was very distracted in his classes that day because he was looking forward to it so much. I'd suggest Thursday, September 19th or the following Monday, September 23rd as likelier options, though given how little we know of Harry's timetable, both could be wrong.

Then we jump to Hallowe'en, October 31, to finish the chapter.

Interesting facts and notes

In the U.S. edition, the chapter title is "Halloween," while in the U.K. edition it's "Hallowe'en."

Hallowe'en marks a turning point in the story and in the lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as the three of them become friends.

Indeed, by the next morning...

Since we know that September 2 was a Monday, we know that the flying lesson on the Thursday of the second week took place on September 12. Malfoy has been trying to get Harry expelled, and upping the ante with each attempt. First they wrangled over the Remembrall on September 12. Malfoy was annoyed that Harry wasn't expelled, so he challenged Harry to a wizard's duel at dinner that evening with the intention of getting Harry into trouble for being out of bed after curfew. It was on the night of September 12, then, that Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville encountered Fluffy. This chapter opens the next morning, Friday the 13th.

...Harry and Ron thought that meeting the three-headed dog had been an excellent adventure, and they were quite keen to have another one.

Although Sirius will berate Harry several years later for not wanting to take risks, telling him that the danger would have been what made it fun for his father, we see here that Harry has plenty of that kind of adventurous spirit at this point in his life. In the coming years, Harry will start to realize the burden that has been placed upon him and will gain a wisdom and even maturity which his father never had.

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.

Is this evidence of cowardice on Neville's part? Rowling is intentionally leading us to think so. We see him stumble on his way up to be sorted and then rush away with the Hat still on his head. We hear him explain how he was thought by his family to be too non-magical to even attend Hogwarts. We see him searching high and low for Trevor and hear him described as the "toadless boy" on the train. Rowling will spend the next few books acquainting us with the nuanced depths of this endearing character with the use of small moments like these, but often they are designed to make us believe that he is merely a bumbler, a bit of comic relief. There is much more to Neville than meets the eye, however. The first big step in Neville's evolution is coming in chapter seventeen.

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.

The film fails to capture both how annoying Hermione is at this stage and how much Harry and Ron apparently dislike her. Rowling isn't cheating here, painting Hermione as a two-dimensional prop for the plot. Since we see the saga through Harry's eyes, on the surface it seems as if Hermione abruptly changes to becomes more likable, but this really isn't the case. Hermione's character doesn't really change all that much over the years - witness her constant chiding in book five, for example - but Harry and Ron learn to accept her for who she is and even to appreciate her warnings.

Just such a thing arrived in the post about a week later...

The broomstick arrived "about a week" after September 13. Exactly a week would be Friday the 20th. However, the text strongly suggests that Harry has class all day that day, so it wouldn't be a Friday -- he has Friday afternoon off. So we'll say it's Thursday the 19th. 

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.

In fact, this method of giving the Nimbus to Harry doesn't make sense, given the contents of the accompanying note; as mentioned in the text, it was an extremely conspicuous way of delivering the broomstick.

Harry ripped open the letter first, which was lucky, because it said:


It would have made more sense to send the note first, and hand the broomstick to Harry in private.

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.

Since the whole point of this gift is that Harry will be playing for Gryffindor in front of the whole school before the year is out, it's hard to imagine how one could avoid having everybody find out that Harry had a broomstick despite the first-year "no broomstick" rule.

Oliver Wood will meet you tonight on the Quidditch pitch at seven o'clock for your first training session.

The upcoming training session is the first time that the game is described fully for the reader, since Hagrid didn't try to explain the rules during the trip to Diagon Alley (PS5) and Ron's discussion of the game on the Hogwarts Express was only lightly summarized (PS6).

Professor M. McGonagall

So McGonagall herself bought Harry this broom? How often do heads of houses buy expensive brooms for their students, I wonder? On the other hand, it may be part of her job to see to it that the house team is outfitted, so there may very well be a budget to cover this. After all, Wood immediately informed McGonagall that Harry would need a broom when she pointed him out as a good candidate for Seeker. Surely he wasn't insisting that his head of house buy an expensive present for one of her students (although with Wood, you never can tell when it comes to Quidditch). He must have known that there were ways for McGonagall to make this happen.

"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."

So next year, when Draco joins the Slytherin team, he will make sure that his team has brooms which can beat this one.

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.

Notice that a Nimbus Two Thousand's handle is made out of a type of wand wood. In fact, James Potter's first wand was made of mahogany.

"Now, Quidditch is easy enough to understand, even if it's not too easy to play."

In fact, a Quidditch match might be considered to be three separate games that happen to be played at once, where each of the three types of balls constitutes a separate thread of play.

"There are seven players on each side. Three of them are called Chasers."

That is, three of the seven players on a single side are Chasers. Wood took out a bright red ball about the size of a football.
"This ball's called the Quaffle," said Wood.

In other words, a Quaffle is a round ball about the size of a soccer ball, with a diameter of 12 inches. It's a charmed object, but the enchantments are less obvious than those on the Snitch and the Bludgers (QA6).

"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 it?"

In fact, it's a bit more complicated than that once the two teams' Keepers are taken into consideration, but Harry is essentially correct.

"What's basketball?" said Wood curiously.

Wood's question suggests that he comes from a wizarding family, and that he doesn't take Muggle studies. However, it seems odd that Wood would have never heard of basketball, given that he pulls a bag of Muggle golf balls out of his pocket in a few minutes.

"Now, there's another player on each side who's called the Keeper - I'm Keeper for Gryffindor. I have to fly around the hoops and stop the other team from scoring."

In fact, the thread of play concerning the Quaffle is something like a cross between basketball and soccer, given the role of the Keeper. The Chasers and Keepers are concerned almost exclusively with the Quaffle, taking an interest in the Bludgers only to avoid being hit by them, and having nothing to do with the Snitch (see below).

He handed Harry a small club, a bit like a short baseball bat.

A Beater's bat is a magical object, but since the enchantments on it are concerned with making it strong enough to stand up to the punishment of working with the Bludgers (QA6), the effects of the magic are less obvious than those on the balls used in the game.

"These two are the Bludgers."
He showed Harry two identical balls, jet black and slightly smaller than the red Quaffle.

A Bludger is a round ball about two inches smaller around than a Quaffle, but made of iron rather than coloured leather (QA6).

"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."

The Bludgers may carry an enchantment to keep them within the boundaries of the pitch, but the nature of the enchantments that they definitely carry may make this unnecessary. For more discussion of the Bludgers, see (QA6).

"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.

Essentially, the Chasers and Keepers are following one thread of the game, concerned chiefly with the Quaffle, while the Beaters are following another thread of action, concerned chiefly with the Bludgers. The Quaffle-portion of the game is like an airborne-cross between basketball and soccer, while the Beater-portion of the game is more of an obstacle course crossed with a high-stakes version of tag. (A player really wouldn't want to be "it" - that is, hit by one of the Bludgers.)

"Er -- have the Bludgers ever killed anyone?"
"Never at Hogwarts. We've had a couple of broken jaws but nothing worse than that..."

Oh, just wait. In the next few years of play, Harry will sustain quite an impressive range of Quidditch injuries, including a smashed arm and a cracked skull from a bludger blow to the head.

"Don't worry, the Weasleys are more than a match for the Bludgers -- I mean, they're like a pair of human Bludgers themselves."

Interesting, since at this point the twins have only been on the team for one year and are a mere 13 years old. They must be amazingly good.

Wood reached into the crate and took out the fourth and last 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."

The Snitch is bewitched to stay within the boundaries of the pitch (QA4) and to evade capture as long as possible (QA6). However, as we shall see in various Quidditch practices and matches, this last enchantment is not simply the reverse of that on a Bludger; the Snitch does not simply avoid all the players on the field.

"...whichever Seeker catches the Snitch wins his team an extra hundred and fifty points, so they nearly always win.

So what's the point of the rest of the game, anyway? Some have argued that the game is so skewed toward the team which catches the Snitch that it's essentially unplayable. However, each Quidditch match must be seen as part of the larger Quidditch season. Standings depend not on number of wins and losses but on total accumulated points, as we see in the Daily Prophet's box scores (DP) and in the competition for house points at Hogwarts. Each goal adds vital points to the total for the team, even if that team fails to win a particular match.

That's why Seekers get fouled so much."

Naturally, since it makes more sense to let the opposing team have a chance at a ten-point penalty shot than the 150-point Snitch capture.

"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."

This is, of course, utterly ridiculous. If those two Seekers couldn't catch the Snitch in that much time, they must have been appalling indeed -- remember, a modern Snitch is bewitched to stay within the confines of the pitch. The score after weeks of play would be so high that the capture of the Snitch would have little effect on the outcome, and the point totals would put the two teams so far above the other teams in the league in accumulated points that they would automatically take first and second place that season, even though with such poor Seekers they wouldn't deserve it at all. However, it makes for a good throw-away bit of humor.

they had to keep bringing on substitutes so the players could get some sleep."

The rules of Quidditch state that "[i]n the case of injury [emphasis MLW's], no substitution of players will take place" (QA6). In the case mentioned by Oliver, the substitution was taking place because of the length of the match, not because of injuries, so the no-substitution rule does not seem to apply.

The whole question of substitute players bears exploration. Rowling leaves a lot of details unexplained about this aspect of Quidditch. When Malfoy was injured in book three, for example, Slytherin was allowed to postpone a match. When Harry was in the hospital wing at the end of this book, however, Gryffindor had to play without him...and without a substitute Seeker, apparently, which is very strange. Could it be that there are only seven players on any house team? It seems so, but there must be substitutes, even at Hogwarts, since Alicia Spinnet started out as a Gryffindor reserve player the previous year. When Harry captained the team in book six, he pulled in other players to replace Ron and even himself when necessary.

He pulled a bag of ordinary golf balls out of his pocket...

Here come the golf balls we mentioned earlier, even though Wood had no idea what basketball was. Okay, so maybe Wood didn't know what these Muggle balls were really for either.

"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 dragons."

Charlie left the team only a couple of months before this, which explains why Wood was so eager for a new Seeker. These lines bring up the entire problem of "last year's team" again. If Charlie was so good, and if the team included Wood and the Weasley twins (almost human bludgers, Wood says about them), why was the previous year's team so atrocious?

...Harry could hardly believe it when he realized that he'd already been at Hogwarts two months...

With this line, Rowling takes us from September 20 to Hallowe'en, the end of the first two months of the school year.

On Halloween morning...

The rest of the action of the chapter takes place on the day and night of Hallowe'en.

they woke to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin wafting through the corridors.

Baked, we learn in book four, by house-elves in the kitchens, which are far, far below Harry as he awakens in his dormitory. His bedroom is located at the top of Gryffindor tower which rises above the common room located on the seventh floor. Even if the tower is only a few stories tall, the kitchens, which are in the basement of the castle, are about a quarter of a mile away and separated by thick stone walls and floors. Either the pies are extremely aromatic or the smell is being magically wafted about the castle. After all, the startlingly pungent smell of the mountain troll that the trio are about to encounter doesn't carry anywhere near this far.

...Professor Flitwick announced in Charms that he thought they were ready to start making objects fly...

Although Flitwick is a good sport about being tossed around by mis-aimed Summoning and Banishing Charms, and dealing with the consequences of misdirected and botched charms generally, it's easy to see why he took the first-years through two months of mastering the basics before starting them on this charm. The choice of feathers as test objects is also very wise, since they can't hurt anyone if they're sent off course.

...something they had all been dying to try since they'd seen him make Neville's toad zoom around the classroom.

Apparently Neville is in the habit of carrying Trevor around with him during the school day rather than leaving him in Gryffindor Tower.

Levitating an object isn't really making it fly, however. Flitwick may have been able to make Trevor zoom around, but according to Quidditch Through the Ages, levitation is normally a matter of hovering rather than zooming. Perhaps Flitwick had actually been demonstrating either a Summoning or Banishment charm, not Levitation. At any rate, it's interesting that the first charm the students are assigned is levitation. It must be a fairly simple effect to achieve.

Professor Flitwick put the class into pairs to practice.

Why into pairs? What is the second person supposed to be doing? Why doesn't Flitwick just get enough feathers for everyone to practice at once? Maybe the second person is supposed to critique each other on things like wand movement and pronunciation. That's what Hermione was doing with Ron, certainly, but if that was the assignment it seems a bit nasty of him to hold it against her.

Harry's partner was Seamus Finnigan (which was a relief, because Neville had been trying to catch his eye).

How many things will change over the next four years. In Harry's fifth year, he and Seamus won't be on speaking terms for the winter term, and far from avoiding Neville, Harry will be his partner in nearly every DA lesson.

She hadn't spoken to either of them since the day Harry's broomstick had arrived.

Again, the film can't portray the magnitude of the animosity that existed between Hermione and the boys. She has ignored them completely for well over a month and they've preferred it that way.

"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

The first years are trying to learn the very basic components of magic here, and we're learning them right along with them. The wand motion is critical, as is the pronunciation of the spell words. As students gain N.E.W.T.-level proficiency, five years later, they begin to practice non-verbal spell casting (HBP) and even begin to do magic without using wands at all. This is yet another example of the care with which Rowling has created her world. The rules of magic are not only consistent throughout the books; they also progress in level along with the students.

...never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said 's' instead of 'f' and found himself on the floor with a buffalo on his chest."

I don't know about you, but I have tried to work out if there's a pun or a bit of word play in this odd sentence. If so, I can't find it.

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.

This is the one and only reference in the books to Seamus causing some sort of accident when attempting a magic spell. Neville, on the other hand, melts cauldrons left and right. For some inexplicable reason, Steve Kloves, the scriptwriter for the films, transferred all of Neville's bumbling to Seamus. Okay, so it does give the character of Seamus a running gag for us to remember him by, but it unfortunately drains Neville's character of a key component: his ineffectual magical ability. Neville finally comes in to his own in books five and six, but how will the films portray him blossoming from a lack of abilty they've never portrayed?

Ron, at the next table, wasn't having much more luck. "Wingardium Leviosa!" he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.

Failing at both the wand movement and, as we shall see in a moment, at the correct pronunciation of the spell words. Hermione's suggested pronunciation emphasizes the Latin way of saying things (although the Latin language doesn't use the letter W).

Hermione didn't turn up for the next class...

Almost unheard of, this. We know how deeply Hermione's feelings are hurt. She is never one to cut classes for any reason. Exhausted from using a Time-Turner, she fell asleep and missed a Charms class in her third year. On that occasion she worried terribly and went to apologize to Flitwick. Other than that, Hermione only misses classes under the most dire circumstances. In her second year, calamity befalls her twice. She misses a month of school while waiting for the effects of the Polyjuice Potion disaster to wear off, but she keeps up with her studies in the Hospital Wing. Later that year she misses a few weeks after being Petrified by the basilisk. It's possible that at the end of her second year, Hermione went to Professor McGonagall and begged for some help making up lost work, and perhaps it was this which prompted the use of the Time-Turner in year three.

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 banquet.

Most of the time, then, the food doesn't appear magically on the plates. We're never told how it normally arrives, although it's fair to say that the elves don't serve it up in person, since the kids don't even know that the elves exist until their third year. The Hallowe'en feast is a major event at Hogwarts, as we see here. Although Harry, Ron, and Hermione missed the feast in their second year because they attended Nick's Deathday Party, they did attend in the their third year. On that occasion, the Hogwarts ghosts provided the entertainment. In book four, the Hallowe'en Feast was the occasion for the Goblet of Fire's selection of the Three Champions. In books five and six, Hallowe'en was ignored. We can only assume that the feast was held as usual in those years.

The route taken by Percy to get the first years to the safety of the common room is strange indeed. One can only assume that Rowling wasn't making an effort to make the narration even generally follow the logic of Hogwarts castle. That's not going to stop us from making the attempt to interpret canon as literally as possible and guess the path. Let's follow Harry and Ron and see where they go...

"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!"

Percy is leading them out of the Great Hall. Presumably they go into the Entrance Hall at this point.

"How could a troll get in?" Harry asked as they climbed the stairs.

The stairs would refer to the marble staircase up to the first floor.

They passed different groups of people hurrying in different directions. As they jostled their way through a crowd of confused Hufflepuffs, Harry suddenly grabbed Ron's arm.

It's unlikely that people would be hurrying in different directions on the staircase itself, so they are probably on the first floor landing now. The Hufflepuffs are indeed confused if they're up there, since the entrance to their common room is through a door in the Entrance Hall. No wonder they're going in a different direction from Harry and Ron. Hopefully they're heading back down the stairs.

Ducking down, they joined the Hufflepuffs going the other way, slipped down a deserted side corridor, and hurried off toward the girls' bathroom.

We will learn in a few moments that the bathroom is most likely on the second or fourth floor, most likely the fourth. So are they already on the fourth floor at this point? It seems very unlikely that there would be Hufflepuffs so far from their common room, so maybe Harry and Ron are ducking out of the Gryffindor line on the first floor, following the Hufflepuffs back toward the marble staircase far enough to find a different corridor up toward the fourth floor. A literal reading of the text would suggest, however, that they met these confused Hufflepuffs on the fourth floor.

"Percy!" hissed Ron, pulling Harry behind a large stone griffin.

However they got there, Harry and Ron are now on the same floor as the bathroom. They hide behind the statue and watch Snape, not Percy, sneaking by, trying to head Quirrell off. This is, incidentally, one of the two references to griffins in the books. The other reference is to a carved griffin knocker on the door to Dumbledore's office. According to FB, Griffins are used to guard treasure.

"What's he doing?" Harry whispered. "Why isn't he down in the dungeons with the rest of the teachers?"

This might explain, actually, why the Hufflepuffs were several floors above their common room. The dungeons and basements might be considered too dangerous for students at the moment and they might be heading for some other room temporarily.

"He's heading for the third floor," Harry said, but Ron held up his hand.

The only way they could know this is if they weren't on the third floor themselves and if the route Snape is taking goes directly to the third floor. This makes is very likely that the bathroom is either on the second or fourth floor of Hogwarts. Since we know that the girls' bathroom on the second floor is out of order because of Myrtle, it is very likely that the bathroom Hermione hides in is on the fourth floor. More notes about this bathroom in the next entry...

...hurried off toward the girls' toilets... ('girls' bathroom' in the US edition)

There is apparently only one girls' bathroom that Hermione might be in, since Harry and Ron don't need to ask which one to go to, and as we've seen, it's very likely on the fourth floor. It's likely that there are different bathrooms for different groups of students. Here are the bathrooms we do know about:

  • We know that there is at least one other girls' bathroom available to all the students, that being the one which is out of order on the second floor.
  • We also know that there isn't a bathroom in Gryffindor tower or common rooms, since the students need to be escorted to the bathroom in their second year while the basilisk is terrorizing the school.
  • We also know that the Prefects and Quidditch Captains get their own special, very fancy bathrooms located on the fifth floor.
  • There is also a boys' bathroom on the sixth floor which Draco hides in, crying (HBP)

How did the troll get all the way up to the fourth floor? Can the teachers be that ineffective in protecting the students against just one troll? Sure, Quirrell could have placed the troll on a different floor than the dungeons, but why? His goal was to keep the teachers far away from the third floor so he could try to get at the Stone. Putting the troll on the fourth floor would have ruined that diversion entirely. So we can only conclude that the troll managed to escape the combined efforts of the entire teaching staff of Hogwarts and wander up four floors unnoticed to be flattened by two first year boys in a girls' toilet.

Harry then did something that was both very brave and very stupid

This phrase should be the motto on Harry's coat of arms. He spends half of his time doing things which are both very brave and, at least by conventional wisdom, very stupid.

Hermione had sunk to the floor in fright

Although Hermione quickly gains confidence and nerve through experiences with Harry and Ron, she still exhibits a tendency to freeze under pressure at the end of this book when she faces the Devil's Snare.

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 ceilings must be very high in Hogwarts bathrooms.

"Urgh -- troll bogies."

Just for the record, the term is 'boogers' in the US edition. Oh, the things you learn from reading Harry Potter books.

Quirrell took one look at the troll, let out a faint whimper, and sat quickly down on a toilet, clutching his heart.

This is all an act, along with the stuttering, designed to convince those around him that he's harmless and ineffectual. We see later that he handles trolls with ease.

Snape gave Harry a swift, piercing look. Harry looked at the floor.

Harry's got good instincts (even if they are mostly due to embarrassment and nerves); if Snape is trying Legilimency on Harry at this point, Harry has just made Snape's task more difficult by avoiding eye contact.

Hermione hung her head.

That is, Snape won't be able to meet her eyes either, although even Hermione won't appreciate the significance of that as a first-year.

Hermione was the last person to do anything against the rules, and here she was, pretending she had, to get them out of trouble. It was as if Snape had started handing out sweets.

Frankly, if Snape the poisons expert started doing that, I [MLW] would want to get them checked at a lab.

"Well, I still say you were lucky, but not many first years could have taken on a full-grown mountain troll. You each win Gryffindor five points...

Five points each for defeating a mountain troll and saving the life of a fellow student? McGonagall is harsh indeed! It isn't many chapters later that she takes away ten times that amount of points just for being out of bed after curfew. It's a wonder that Gryffindor ever wins the House Cup at this rate.

Everyone was eating the food that had been sent up. Hermione, however, stood alone by the door, waiting for them. There was a very embarrassed pause. Then, none of them looking at each other, they all said "Thanks," and hurried off to get plates.

So like Harry's friendship with Ron, Hermione's with both boys is sealed over food, but in a more formal setting (though still not as formal as an ordinary meal).

But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

This is a fine bit of character development. If you read the exchanges leading up to it, each of the children comes to this point in their own way, very naturally. Rowling has said that her editors suggested cutting the entire troll scene, but she fought for it staying in the book. She writes on her website:

"Hermione, bless her, is so very annoying in the early part of 'Philosopher's Stone' that I really felt it needed something (literally) huge to bring her together with Harry and Ron." (JKR)

Exceptional character moments

Hermione, who throughout her first eight weeks at Hogwarts had not managed to make any friends, according to Ron.

Hermione, pretending that she had gone looking for the troll to help the boys out of trouble.

Memorable lines

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.

Harry then did something that was both very brave and very stupid

Harry and Ron tried to look as though this story wasn't new to them.

Hermione was the last person to do anything against the rules, and here she was, pretending she had, to get them out of trouble. It was as if Snape had started handing out sweets.

There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

Words and phrases

Characters Introduced


Harry's permission to have a broomstick as a first-year is an early example of the special treatment that is continually afforded him throughout his Hogwarts years. With perspective, knowing that Dumbledore knows what is involved in Harry's destiny, these privileges make a certain amount of sense. To everyone else, though... it's understandable that many students--particularly Slytherins--resent this treatment of Harry. Not only is he permitted to play Quidditch as a first-year, but he is also given a top-of-the-line racing broom, when he would not ordinarily be allowed to have any broomstick yet. Dumbledore awards him a rather gratuitous sixty points (on top of fifty apiece to Ron and Hermione and later ten to Neville) to pull off a dramatic last-minute upset in the House Cup (from last place to first, at that).

People in Harry's life tend to have a strong reaction toward him, one way or the other. His parents' love drives them to give their lives for his, and then he spends ten years surrounded almost exclusively by neglect and resentment. He gets pulled back into the Wizarding World, where (depending on background) his peers either look to him with awe or contempt--often on a revolving basis, as he is often the subject of rumors and public scrutiny. It is no wonder that he forms such a strong bond with the friends who take the time to get to know him and then choose to stick by his side.

In chapter ten, Harry and Ron befriend Hermione, and the three are largely inseparable from the mountain troll on.


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From the Web

"Baruffio's Brain Elixir" from Wizards Unite World

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The Harry Potter Canon