At breakfast the next morning, Ron reads their schedules. They have Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures with the Slytherins, and Divination in the afternoon. When Ron comments that Hermione is eating, she says that there are better ways to protest. Harry scans the mail owls, doesn't see Hedwig, and is preoccupied all through Herbology. At the start of Care of Magical Creatures, Hagrid greets the class with their first creature: baby Blast-Ended Skrewts. They look like deformed lobsters that shoot sparks out of their rear ends. Harry, Ron, and Hermione defend them to Malfoy, who thinks they're nasty.
Hermione's comment that there are better ways to protest suggests that she's already been researching different movements from history and will choose to draw on elements of them as she moves forward to fight for house-elf rights. However, it's important to keep in mind that the novel hasn't yet shared any history of protest or organization with the reader. This suggests that Hermione will draw on Muggle histories of protest, which will be foreign to the Wizarding world.
At lunch, Hermione eats quickly and then races to the library. Harry and Ron head for North Tower and Divination. To start the class, Professor Trelawney tells Harry that she sees difficult times ahead for him. Ron rolls his eyes as Trelawney explains how to read the future in the stars and planets, but Harry loses himself wondering if there's more to Trelawney than he's given her credit for. He snaps back to attention when she tries to insist that his bad fortune means that he must've been born under Saturn in midwinter. Harry was born in July. She gives the class blank charts to fill in the position of the planets at the time of their birth. Ron makes a rude joke about Uranus and Trelawney hears him. She assigns lots of homework because of this.
Once again, when Harry wonders whether he should give Trelawney another chance and take her seriously, it shows that he's beginning to consider the perspectives of others as he figures out where he stands in his world. However, when Trelawney so poorly makes the prediction about Harry's birth month, it instead shows Harry that he shouldn't trust her and that she's a fraud, thereby making him feel justified (and Ron as well) in being rude and short with her.
As students wait in the entrance hall for dinner, Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle wave a copy of the Daily Prophet at Ron, say that Mr. Weasley is in the paper, and reads part of a Rita Skeeter article out loud. Skeeter gives an incorrect first name for Mr. Weasley and suggests that he stepped out of line to help Moody. Malfoy insults Mrs. Weasley's weight in the accompanying photo, which Harry returns by insulting Malfoy's mother. As Harry turns away, Malfoy shoots a curse at the back of his head.
This article of Rita Skeeter's again shows the reader that anything Skeeter writes shouldn't be taken seriously, given that she can't even get names correct. It's also important to see how Malfoy weaponizes Skeeter's article to torment Ron--going forward, this will help illustrate how Skeeter mobilizes individuals to make her articles even more dangerous.
Before Harry can draw his wand, Moody comes down the stairs and shouts at Malfoy. Harry turns to see that there's a white ferret where Malfoy was. After checking that Harry is okay, Moody levitates the ferret and bounces it up and down, reprimanding Malfoy for behaving like a coward. As she comes down the stairs, McGonagall asks incredulously if the ferret is a student and yells at Moody for using Transfiguration as punishment. At this, Moody turns Malfoy back into a human. He angrily says that he'll speak to Snape about Malfoy's behavior. Ron deems this the best moment of his life. Hermione again eats quickly and runs to the library, and Fred takes her place. He and George had a lesson with Moody earlier and they say that he's an impressive teacher.
Knowing that this isn't actually Moody and is instead Barty Crouch, a Death Eater who loathes other Death Eaters who avoided Azkaban, gives this scene more meaning: Lucius Malfoy avoided Azkaban, meaning that he's one of Barty Crouch's targets and doing this to Malfoy is a way for Barty Crouch to get revenge. This shows how Barty Crouch as Moody uses his station to abuse his power completely, even beyond orchestrating Harry's performance in the Triwizard Tournament later. Again, this shows that being evil and cruel is a choice, not a set state of being.