By the next morning, Harry and Ron look back on the midnight outing with the dog as an “excellent adventure.” Harry also tells Ron about the package the dog might be guarding, although they’re not sure what could be inside it. Neville seems completely uninterested in what the dog could be guarding, and Hermione refuses to speak to Harry and Ron.
The incident with the three-headed dog becomes an adventure that solidifies Ron and Harry’s friendship even further, as they are able to face a challenge together and come out of it relatively unscathed.
At breakfast, the owls flood the hall as usual, and a large, thin package is dropped in front of Harry. He opens the letter attached, which is from Professor McGonagall and says that he should not open the package at the table. It contains his new broomstick, and he is to meet Wood for practice that night at seven o’clock for his first training session.
The rewards for Harry’s rule-breaking at his first flying lesson continue, as McGonagall gives him a brand new, top of the line broomstick and breaks (or bends) the rules so that he can have it.
When Malfoy sees the package, he says that Harry will be in big trouble, as first years aren’t allowed to have brooms. When Professor Flitwick passes by, Malfoy complains to him, but Flitwick says that Professor McGonagall told him about the special circumstances. Harry tries not to laugh at Malfoy’s horror, and Harry says that it’s actually thanks to Malfoy that he’s got the broom.
Although Harry is largely pure of heart, there are a few circumstances in which he falls victim to some of the traits of the novel’s typically “bad” characters. In this instance, Harry enjoys having power over Malfoy and in making him jealous with the broom, in contrast with the power Malfoy had the night before in apparently tipping off Filch in an attempt to get Harry in trouble.
Harry and Ron return upstairs, and Hermione, who’s overheard their conversation, angrily quips, “I suppose you think that’s a reward for breaking rules?” Harry says that he thought she wasn’t speaking to them, and she marches away. When they get upstairs, Harry marvels over his new broom—a sleek, shiny Nimbus Two Thousand.
The ironic part of Hermione’s statement is that the broom is exactly that—"a reward for breaking rules.” Hermione, who is still adamantly on the side of following the rules, can’t bear to see the boys get positive reinforcement for what she sees as dangerous troublemaking tendencies.
That evening, Harry heads to the Quidditch field. Before Wood arrives, Harry eagerly mounts his broom, and is amazed at the ease with which he can control it as he swoops in and out of the three gold hoops at the edge of the field. Wood appears and comments excitedly on Harry’s skill.
Flying is a realm in which Harry feels entirely at ease. For a boy who is learning how to belong in a completely new world, flying provides Harry with a natural comfort.
Wood then teaches Harry the basics of Quidditch. Three players (Chasers) from each team try to throw a ball (the Quaffle) through one of the three hoops, while another player (the Keeper) defends it. Each score earns ten points. Two other players (Beaters) use bats to try to defend their team from two heavy balls (Bludgers), which are enchanted to try and attack players. The last player (the Seeker, Harry’s position) searches for a tiny ball called the Golden Snitch. The first Seeker to catch the Snitch ends the match and earns 150 points. As they practice, Wood grows more and more impressed with Harry.
Quidditch adds another dimension to Harry’s realization that being different isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the case of Quidditch, it actually makes Harry feel unique and talented. Being a Seeker is perhaps the most important position on the team, and it gives him the ability to be more than just a celebrity. During his Quidditch matches, Harry feels like he is fully taking his place in the world and living up to others’ expectations.
Harry grows very busy between school work and Quidditch practice, and he can hardly believe it when he realizes that two months have passed. “The castle [feels] more like home than Privet Drive ever had,” and Harry is more interested in his lessons, now that he has mastered the basics.
Harry’s sense of belonging only increases as time goes on. It is also notable that the more magic he learns, the more he feels at home—again reinforcing the correlation between magic and Harry’s feeling that he is at home.
On Halloween morning, Professor Flitwick teaches the students how to make objects fly, beginning with feathers. Harry and Seamus are paired up, and so are Ron and Hermione. When Ron waves his wand around and says the spell, Hermione pretentiously corrects him and says that he’s doing it all wrong. She demonstrates how it should be done, making the feather hover. Flitwick commends her, but Ron’s mood worsens.
Despite the fact that Ron is aggravated by Hermione’s attempt to teach him the proper way to perform the spell, her instruction in this scene will come in handy for Ron later in the chapter.
As Harry and Ron walk from the classroom, Ron says, “It’s no wonder no one can stand her,” referring to Hermione. Hermione, who has been walking behind them, pushes past them, starting to cry. Ron is uncomfortable, but stands by what he said, saying “she must’ve noticed she’s got no friends.” Hermione doesn’t show up for their next class, and in the afternoon Harry and Ron hear a rumor that she’s been crying in the girls’ bathroom all day.
Just as Harry needs love and friendship in order to feel protected, so too does Hermione—which is why Ron’s words cut so harshly. Hermione has yet to make the kind of deep friendship that Ron and Harry have, and as a result she feels vulnerable, unwanted, and unloved.
At dinner, decorations and a feast are laid out for Halloween. But just as the banquet begins, Professor Quirrell sprints into the hall in terror, gasping that there’s a troll in the dungeon. Quirrell faints. Chaos breaks out, and Dumbledore instructs prefects to lead students back to their dormitories. Harry and Ron start to follow Percy, but realize that Hermione doesn’t know about the troll. They hurry off to the girls’ bathroom.
Just like with Neville’s Remembrall, Harry doesn’t hesitate to break the rules when he knows that what he’s doing is right. Knowing that Hermione is in danger (and knowing that to some degree Ron caused this), he ignores Dumbledore’s instructions and seeks her out.
As Harry and Ron run to the bathroom, they see Snape heading to the third floor. But before they can figure out why, they see the troll at the end of the hall, peering into a door. It is twelve feet tall with a lumpy body and a small bald head, and it’s holding a massive wooden club. The troll enters the door, and Harry and Ron swiftly lock the door behind it. They are triumphant—until they realize that the doorway leads into the girls’ bathroom, where Hermione is hiding. They unlock the door and run inside.
Harry and Ron’s instinct to go after the troll, and to run inside the bathroom when they realize they’ve accidentally set the troll on Hermione, highlights their selfless nature. In the face of danger, they put others’ well-being in front of their own—a trait that they will carry with them throughout this book.
Hermione is pressed against a wall, the troll advancing on her. Ron hastily grabs a metal pipe and throws it at the troll; it roars and turns towards Ron. Harry then leaps up, grabbing the troll around its neck from behind, his wand going straight up one of the troll’s nostrils. The troll flails in pain as Harry clings on for dear life. Ron then uses the levitation spell—this time correctly—lifting the troll’s huge wooden club in the air and bringing it down onto the troll’s head. The troll sways forward and falls with a giant splat.
The defeat of the troll provides the first of many examples in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione are only able to overcome obstacles through their friendship because they work together. Harry tries to inhibit the troll’s movement, while Ron uses Hermione’s technique—which he previously balked at when she tried to teach him—to cast the levitation spell.
A moment later, Professor McGonagall, Snape, and Quirrell dash into the bathroom. McGonagall is livid, demanding to know what Harry, Ron, and Hermione were thinking. Hermione lies and says that she went looking for the troll because she thought she could deal with it on her own, and Harry and Ron bravely came to save her. Harry and Ron are shocked that Hermione is lying to a teacher.
This moment represents a crucial turning point for Hermione. Realizing how much Ron and Harry risked in order to save her life, Hermione finally sees the value in breaking the rules when necessary—and proves it by doing so herself. Hermione could easily have told the teachers the truth, but she chooses to lie so that she will get in trouble rather than Harry and Ron, which is also a gesture of friendship.
Professor McGonagall takes five points from Hermione for her “foolish” behavior and sends her back to her dorm. She then awards Harry and Ron five points each, but states that they were all very lucky. When Harry and Ron head back to their dorm, Ron acknowledges that it was nice of Hermione to get them out of trouble. When Harry and Ron see Hermione back in the common room, they all say a quick “thanks”—and from that moment on, the three are friends.
Once again, Harry is rewarded for rule-breaking because he did the right thing. In a way, so is Hermione; even though she loses points for Gryffindor by lying to a teacher, she also gains Harry and Ron’s friendship, which will prove invaluable to her in this book. The troll that they are able to overcome together creates a long-lasting bond and love between the three of them that becomes the central relationship throughout the rest of the series.