THE JOURNEY FROM PLATFORM NINE AND THREE QUARTERS 5 ñòðàíèöà
“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 Chasers.”
“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 it?”
“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.
“Never at Hogwarts. We’ve had a couple of broken jaws but nothing worse than that. Now, the last member of the team is the Seeker. That’s you. And you don’t have to worry about the Quaffle or the Bludgers—”
“—unless they crack my head open.”
“Don’t worry, the Weasleys are more than a match for the Bludgers—I mean, they’re like a pair of human Bludgers themselves.”
Wood reached into the crate and took out the fourth and last ball. Compared with the Quaffle and the Bludgers, it was tiny, about the size of a large walnut. It was bright gold and had little fluttering silver wings.
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. You’ve got to weave in and out of the Chasers, Beaters, Bludgers, and Quaffle to get it before the other team’s Seeker, because whichever Seeker catches the Snitch wins his team an extra hundred and fifty points, so they nearly always win. That’s why Seekers get fouled so much. 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, they had to keep bringing on substitutes so the players could get some sleep.
“Well, that’s it—any questions?”
Harry shook his head. He understood what he had to do all right, it was doing it that was going to be the problem.
“We won’t practice with the Snitch yet,” said Wood, carefully shutting it back inside the crate, “it’s too dark, we might lose it. Let’s try you out with a few of these.”
He pulled a bag of ordinary golf balls out of his pocket and a few minutes later, he and Harry were up in the air, Wood throwing the golf balls as hard as he could in every direction for Harry to catch.
Harry didn’t miss a single one, and Wood was delighted. After half an hour, night had really fallen and they couldn’t carry on.
“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.”
Perhaps it was because he was now so busy, what with Quidditch practice three evenings a week on top of all his homework, but Harry could hardly believe it when he realized that he’d already been at Hogwarts two months. The castle felt more like home than Privet Drive ever had. His lessons, too, were becoming more and more interesting now that they had mastered the basics.
On Halloween morning they woke to the delicious smell of baking pumpkin wafting through the corridors. Even better, Professor Flitwick announced in Charms that he thought they were ready to start making objects fly, something they had all been dying to try since they’d seen him make Neville’s toad zoom around the classroom. Professor Flitwick put the class into pairs to practice. Harry’s partner was Seamus Finnigan (which was a relief, because Neville had been trying to catch his eye). Ron, however, was to be working with Hermione Granger. It was hard to tell whether Ron or Hermione was angrier about this. She hadn’t spoken to either of them since the day Harry’s broomstick had arrived.
“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—never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said ‘s’ instead of ‘f’ and found himself on the floor with a buffalo on his chest.”
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.
Ron, at the next table, wasn’t having much more luck.
he shouted, waving his long arms like a windmill.
“You’re saying it wrong,” Harry heard Hermione snap. “It’s Wing-
-sa, make the ‘gar’ nice and long.”
“You do it, then, if you’re so clever,” Ron snarled.
Hermione rolled up the sleeves of her gown, flicked her wand, and said,
Their feather rose off the desk and hovered about four feet above their heads.
“Oh, well done!” cried Professor Flitwick, clapping. “Everyone see here, Miss Granger’s done it!”
Ron was in a very bad mood by the end of the class.
“It’s no wonder no one can stand her,” he said to Harry as they pushed their way into the crowded corridor, “she’s a nightmare, honestly.”
Someone knocked into Harry as they hurried past him. It was Hermione. Harry caught a glimpse of her face—and was startled to see that she was in tears.
“I think she heard you.”
“So?” said Ron, but he looked a bit uncomfortable. “She must’ve noticed she’s got no friends.”
Hermione didn’t turn up for the next class and wasn’t seen all afternoon. On their way down to the Great Hall for the Halloween feast, Harry and Ron overheard Parvati Patil telling her friend Lavender that Hermione was crying in the girls’ bathroom and wanted to be left alone. Ron looked still more awkward at this, but a moment later they had entered the Great Hall, where the Halloween decorations put Hermione out of their minds.
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.
Harry was just helping himself to a baked potato when Professor Quirrell came sprinting into the hall, his turban askew and terror on his face. Everyone stared as he reached Professor Dumbledore’s chair, slumped against the table, and gasped, “Troll—in the dungeons—thought you ought to know.”
He then sank to the floor in a dead faint.
There was an uproar. It took several purple firecrackers exploding from the end of Professor Dumbledore’s wand to bring silence.
“Prefects,” he rumbled, “lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!”
Percy was in his element.
“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!”
“How could a troll get in?” Harry asked as they climbed the stairs.
“Don’t ask me, they’re supposed to be really stupid,” said Ron. “Maybe Peeves let it in for a Halloween joke.”
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.
“I’ve just thought—Hermione.”
“What about her?”
“She doesn’t know about the troll.”
Ron bit his lip.
“Oh, all right,” he snapped. “But Percy’d better not see us.”
Ducking down, they joined the Hufflepuffs going the other way, slipped down a deserted side corridor, and hurried off toward the girls’ bathroom. They had just turned the corner when they heard quick footsteps behind them.
“Percy!” hissed Ron, pulling Harry behind a large stone griffin.
Peering around it, however, they saw not Percy but Snape. He crossed the corridor and disappeared from view.
“What’s he doing?” Harry whispered. “Why isn’t he down in the dungeons with the rest of the teachers?”
Quietly as possible, they crept along the next corridor after Snape’s fading footsteps.
“He’s heading for the third floor,” Harry said, but Ron held up his hand.
“Can you smell something?”
Harry sniffed and a foul stench reached his nostrils, a mixture of old socks and the kind of public toilet no one seems to clean.
And then they heard it—a low grunting, and the shuffling footfalls of gigantic feet. Ron pointed—at the end of a passage to the left, something huge was moving toward them. They shrank into the shadows and watched as it emerged into a patch of moonlight.
It was a horrible sight. Twelve feet tall, its skin was a dull, granite gray, its great lumpy body like a boulder with its small bald head perched on top like a coconut. It had short legs thick as tree trunks with flat, horny feet. The smell coming from it was incredible. It was holding a huge wooden club, which dragged along the floor because its arms were so long.
The troll stopped next to a doorway and peered inside. It waggled its long ears, making up its tiny mind, then slouched slowly into the room.
“The keys in the lock,” Harry muttered. “We could lock it in.”
“Good idea,” said Ron nervously.
They edged toward the open door, mouths dry, praying the troll wasn’t about to come out of it. With one great leap, Harry managed to grab the key, slam the door, and lock it.
Flushed with their victory, they started to run back up the passage, but as they reached the corner they heard something that made their hearts stop—a high, petrified scream—and it was coming from the chamber they’d just chained up.
“Oh, no,” said Ron, pale as the Bloody Baron.
“It’s the girls’ bathroom!” Harry gasped.
they said together.
It was the last thing they wanted to do, but what choice did they have? Wheeling around, they sprinted back to the door and turned the key, fumbling in their panic. Harry pulled the door open and they ran inside.
Hermione Granger was shrinking against the wall opposite, looking as if she was about to faint. The troll was advancing on her, knocking the sinks off the walls as it went.
“Confuse it!” Harry said desperately to Ron, and, seizing a tap, he threw it as hard as he could against the wall.
The troll stopped a few feet from Hermione. It lumbered around, blinking stupidly, to see what had made the noise. Its mean little eyes saw Harry. It hesitated, then made for him instead, lifting its club as it went.
“Oy, pea brain!” yelled Ron from the other side of the chamber, and he threw a metal pipe at it. The troll didn’t even seem to notice the pipe hitting its shoulder, but it heard the yell and paused again, turning its ugly snout toward Ron instead, giving Harry time to run around it.
“Come on, run,
Harry yelled at Hermione, trying to pull her toward the door, but she couldn’t move, she was still flat against the wall, her mouth open with terror.
The shouting and the echoes seemed to be driving the troll berserk. It roared again and started toward Ron, who was nearest and had no way to escape.
Harry then did something that was both very brave and very stupid: He took a great running jump and managed to fasten his arms around the troll’s neck from behind. The troll couldn’t feel Harry hanging there, but even a troll will notice if you stick a long bit of wood up its nose, and Harry’s wand had still been in his hand when he’d jumped—it had gone straight up one of the troll’s nostrils.
Howling with pain, the troll twisted and flailed its club, with Harry clinging on for dear life; any second, the troll was going to rip him off or catch him a terrible blow with the club.
Hermione had sunk to the floor in fright; Ron pulled out his own wand—not knowing what he was going to do he heard himself cry the first spell that came into his head:
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 troll swayed on the spot and then fell flat on its face, with a thud that made the whole room tremble.
Harry got to his feet. He was shaking and out of breath. Ron was standing there with his wand still raised, staring at what he had done.
It was Hermione who spoke first.
“I don’t think so,” said Harry, “I think it’s just been knocked out.”
He bent down and pulled his wand out of the troll’s nose. It was covered in what looked like lumpy gray glue.
He wiped it on the troll’s trousers.
A sudden slamming and loud footsteps made the three of them look up. They hadn’t realized what a racket they had been making, but of course, someone downstairs must have heard the crashes and the troll’s roars. A moment later, Professor McGonagall had come bursting into the room, closely followed by Snape, with Quirrell bringing up the rear. Quirrell took one look at the troll, let out a faint whimper, and sat quickly down on a toilet, clutching his heart.
Snape bent over the troll. Professor McGonagall was looking at Ron and Harry. Harry had never seen her look so angry. Her lips were white. Hopes of winning fifty points for Gryffindor faded quickly from Harry’s mind.
“What on earth were you thinking of?” said Professor McGonagall, with cold fury in her voice. Harry looked at Ron, who was still standing with his wand in the air. “You’re lucky you weren’t killed. Why aren’t you in your dormitory?”
Snape gave Harry a swift, piercing look. Harry looked at the floor. He wished Ron would put his wand down.
Then a small voice came out of the shadows.
“Please, Professor McGonagall—they were looking for me.”
Hermione had managed to get to her feet at last.
“I went looking for the troll because I—I thought I could deal with it on my own—you know, because I’ve read all about them.”
Ron dropped his wand. Hermione Granger, telling a downright lie to a teacher?
“If they hadn’t found me, I’d be dead now. Harry stuck his wand up its nose and Ron knocked it out with its own club. They didn’t have time to come and fetch anyone. It was about to finish me off when they arrived.”
Harry and Ron tried to look as though this story wasn’t new to them.
“Well—in that case…” said Professor McGonagall, staring at the three of them, “Miss Granger, you foolish girl, how could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your own?”
Hermione hung her head. Harry was speechless. 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.
“Miss Granger, five points will be taken from Gryffindor for this,” said Professor McGonagall. “I’m very disappointed in you. If you’re not hurt at all, you’d better get off to Gryffindor tower. Students are finishing the feast in their houses.”
Professor McGonagall turned to Harry and Ron.
“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. Professor Dumbledore will be informed of this. You may go.”
They hurried out of the chamber and didn’t speak at all until they had climbed two floors up. It was a relief to be away from the smell of the troll, quite apart from anything else.
“We should have gotten more than ten points,” Ron grumbled.
“Five, you mean, once she’s taken off Hermione’s.”
“Good of her to get us out of trouble like that,” Ron admitted. “Mind you, we
“She might not have needed saving if we hadn’t locked the thing in with her,” Harry reminded him.
They had reached the portrait of the Fat Lady.
“Pig snout,” they said and entered.
The common room was packed and noisy. 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.
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.
As they entered November, the weather turned very cold. The mountains around the school became icy gray and the lake like chilled steel. Every morning the ground was covered in frost. Hagrid could be seen from the upstairs windows defrosting broomsticks on the Quidditch field, bundled up in a long moleskin overcoat, rabbit fur gloves, and enormous beaverskin boots.
The Quidditch season had begun. On Saturday, Harry would be playing in his first match after weeks of training: Gryffindor versus Slytherin. If Gryffindor won, they would move up into second place in the house championship.
Hardly anyone had seen Harry play because Wood had decided that, as their secret weapon, Harry should be kept, well, secret. But the news that he was playing Seeker had leaked out somehow, and Harry didn’t know which was worse—people telling him he’d be brilliant or people telling him they’d be running around underneath him holding a mattress.
It was really lucky that Harry now had Hermione as a friend. He didn’t know how he’d have gotten through all his homework without her, what with all the last minute Quidditch practice Wood was making them do. She had also lent him
Quidditch Through the Ages,
which turned out to be a very interesting read.
Harry learned that there were seven hundred ways of committing a Quidditch foul and that all of them had happened during a World Cup match in 1473; that Seekers were usually the smallest and fastest players, and that most serious Quidditch accidents seemed to happen to them; that although people rarely died playing Quidditch, referees had been known to vanish and turn up months later in the Sahara Desert.
Hermione had become a bit more relaxed about breaking rules since Harry and Ron had saved her from the mountain troll, and she was much nicer for it. The day before Harry’s first Quidditch match the three of them were out in the freezing courtyard during break, and she had conjured them up a bright blue fire that could be carried around in a jam jar. They were standing with their backs to it, getting warm, when Snape crossed the yard. Harry noticed at once that Snape was limping. Harry, Ron, and Hermione moved closer together to block the fire from view; they were sure it wouldn’t be allowed. Unfortunately, something about their guilty faces caught Snape’s eye. He limped over. He hadn’t seen the fire, but he seemed to be looking for a reason to tell them off anyway.
“What’s that you’ve got there, Potter?”
Quidditch Through the Ages.
Harry showed him.
“Library books are not to be taken outside the school,” said Snape. “Give it to me. Five points from Gryffindor.”
“He’s just made that rule up,” Harry muttered angrily as Snape limped away. “Wonder what’s wrong with his leg?”
“Dunno, but I hope it’s really hurting him,” said Ron bitterly.
The Gryffindor common room was very noisy that evening. Harry, Ron, and Hermione sat together next to a window. Hermione was checking Harry and Ron’s Charms homework for them. She would never let them copy (“How will you learn?”), but by asking her to read it through, they got the right answers anyway.
Harry felt restless. He wanted
Quidditch Through the Ages
back, to take his mind off his nerves about tomorrow. Why should he be afraid of Snape? Getting up, he told Ron and Hermione he was going to ask Snape if he could have it.
“Better you than me,” they said together, but Harry had an idea that Snape wouldn’t refuse if there were other teachers listening.
He made his way down to the staffroom and knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again. Nothing.
Perhaps Snape had left the book in there? It was worth a try. He pushed the door ajar and peered inside—and a horrible scene met his eyes.
Snape and Filch were inside, alone. Snape was holding his robes above his knees. One of his legs was bloody and mangled. Filch was handing Snape bandages.
“Blasted thing,” Snape was saying. “How are you supposed to keep your eyes on all three heads at once?”
Harry tried to shut the door quietly, but—
Snape’s face was twisted with fury as he dropped his robes quickly to hide his leg. Harry gulped.
“I just wondered if I could have my book back.”
Harry left, before Snape could take any more points from Gryffindor. He sprinted back upstairs.
“Did you get it?” Ron asked as Harry joined them. “What’s the matter?”
In a low whisper, Harry told them what he’d seen.
“You know what this means?” he finished breathlessly. “He tried to get past that three headed dog at Halloween! That’s where he was going when we saw him—he’s after whatever it’s guarding! And I’d bet my broomstick
let that troll in, to make a diversion!”
Hermione’s eyes were wide.
“No—he wouldn’t, she said. “I know he’s not very nice, but he wouldn’t try and steal something Dumbledore was keeping safe.”
“Honestly, Hermione, you think all teachers are saints or something,” snapped Ron. “I’m with Harry. I wouldn’t put anything past Snape. But what’s he after? What’s that dog guarding?”
Harry went to bed with his head buzzing with the same question. Neville was snoring loudly, but Harry couldn’t sleep. He tried to empty his mind—he needed to sleep, he had to, he had his first Quidditch match in a few hours—but the expression on Snape’s face when Harry had seen his leg wasn’t easy to forget.
The next morning dawned very bright and cold. The Great Hall was full of the delicious smell of fried sausages and the cheer ful chatter of everyone looking forward to a good Quidditch match.
“You’ve got to eat some breakfast.”
“I don’t want anything.”
“Just a bit of toast,” wheedled Hermione.
“I’m not hungry.”
Harry felt terrible. In an hour’s time he’d be walking onto the field.
“Harry, you need your strength,” said Seamus Finnigan. “Seekers are always the ones who get clobbered by the other team.”
“Thanks, Seamus,” said Harry, watching Seamus pile ketchup on his sausages.
By eleven o’clock the whole school seemed to be out in the stands around the Quidditch pitch. Many students had binoculars. The seats might be raised high in the air, but it was still difficult to see what was going on sometimes.
Ron and Hermione joined Neville, Seamus, and Dean the West Ham fan up in the top row. As a surprise for Harry, they had painted a large banner on one of the sheets Scabbers had ruined. It said
Potter for President,
and Dean, who was good at drawing, had done a large Gryffindor lion underneath. Then Hermione had performed a tricky little charm so that the paint flashed different colors.
Meanwhile, in the locker room, Harry and the rest of the team were changing into their scarlet Quidditch robes (Slytherin would be playing in green).
Wood cleared his throat for silence.
“Okay, men,” he said.
“And women,” said Chaser Angelina Johnson.
“And women,” Wood agreed. “This is it.”
“The big one,” said Fred Weasley.
“The one we’ve all been waiting for,” said George.
“We know Oliver’s speech by heart,” Fred told Harry, “we were on the team last year.”
“Shut up, you two,” said Wood. “This is the best team Gryffindor’s had in years. We’re going to win. I know it.”
He glared at them all as if to say, “Or else.”
“Right. It’s time. Good luck, all of you.”
Harry followed Fred and George out of the locker room and, hoping his knees weren’t going to give way, walked onto the field to loud cheers.
Madam Hooch was refereeing. She stood in the middle of the field waiting for the two teams, her broom in her hand.
“Now, I want a nice fair game, all of you,” she said, once they were all gathered around her. Harry noticed that she seemed to be speaking particularly to the Slytherin Captain, Marcus Flint, a sixth year. Harry thought Flint looked as if he had some troll blood in him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the fluttering banner high above, flashing Potter for President over the crowd. His heart skipped. He felt braver.
“Mount your brooms, please.”
Harry clambered onto his Nimbus Two Thousand.
Madam Hooch gave a loud blast on her silver whistle.
Fifteen brooms rose up, high, high into the air. They were off.
“And the Quaffle is taken immediately by Angelina Johnson of Gryffindor—what an excellent Chaser that girl is, and rather attractive, too—”
The Weasley twins’ friend, Lee Jordan, was doing the commentary for the match, closely watched by Professor McGonagall.
“And she’s really belting along up there, a neat pass to Alicia Spinnet, a good find of Oliver Wood’s, last year only a reserve—back to Johnson and—no, the Slytherins have taken the Quaffle, Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint gains the Quaffle and off he goes—Flint flying like an eagle up there—he’s going to sc—no, stopped by an excellent move by Gryffindor Keeper Wood and the Gryffindors take the Quaffle—that’s Chaser Katie Bell of Gryffindor there, nice dive around Flint, off up the field and—OUCH—that must have hurt, hit in the back of the head by a Bludger—Quaffle taken by the Slytherins—that’s Adrian Pucey speeding off toward the goal posts, but he’s blocked by a second Bludger—sent his way by Fred or George Weasley, can’t tell which—nice play by the Gryffindor Beater, anyway, and Johnson back in possession of the Quaffle, a clear field ahead and off she goes—she’s really flying—dodges a speeding Bludger—the goal posts are ahead—come on, now, Angelina—Keeper Bletchley dives—misses—GRYFFINDORS SCORE!”