In November, Quidditch season begins. Harry’s first Quidditch match is against Slytherin, and he’s nervous that he has to prove his skill. He’s grateful to Hermione for her help with his homework, seeing as he’s spent so much time training lately. Hermione has become more relaxed about breaking rules: for instance, the day before Harry’s first Quidditch match, Hermione, Ron, and Harry sit in the freezing courtyard during a break, and she conjures a fire to keep them warm.
Harry continues to rely on his friends both for emotional and also practical support. His newfound friendship with Hermione is, again, based on the fact that she now understands Harry’s belief that sometimes it can be okay to break the rules if they are being broken for a good reason, like keeping them warm.
Snape enters the yard, limping. Even though he doesn’t see the fire, when he notices Harry’s book Quidditch Through the Ages, he sneers that library books are not to be taken outside the school. He takes five points from Gryffindor for the offense and confiscates the book from Harry, who is fuming because he knows that Snape just made up that rule.
Harry continues to think poorly of Snape because of his constant abuse of his power over Harry. In this instance, Snape goes so far as to makes up a rule (and an arbitrary one, at that) just so that Harry will get into trouble.
That evening, Harry wants to get his book back from Snape, thinking that he has no reason to be afraid of the teacher. When he goes down to the staffroom to find Snape, he peers through the door and sees Filch bandaging Snape’s bloody, mangled leg as they discuss the three-headed dog. Harry tries to close the door quietly, but Snape notices him and yells at him to get out.
In addition to associating Snape with power, Harry also starts to associate Snape with greed. This episode brings Harry to the conclusion that Snape is trying to steal whatever had been in Gringotts, and whatever the dog is now guarding.
Back in the common room, Harry relays what he saw to Ron and Hermione, concluding that Snape must have tried to steal whatever the three-headed dog was guarding on Halloween. Hermione argues that a teacher wouldn’t try to steal something from Dumbledore, but Ron says he “wouldn’t put anything past Snape.” Harry goes to sleep wondering again what the dog might be guarding.
Even though Harry views Snape as greedy and power-hungry, in this passage Harry falls victim to a desire of his own; he wants desperately to prove that Snape is up to something bad and to be the hero that prevents Snape from stealing what the dog is guarding.
The next morning, Harry feels terrible—he didn’t get much sleep, and he’s not hungry at breakfast. By eleven o’clock, the whole school is at the Quidditch field. Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Seamus have painted a Potter for President banner to surprise Harry. In the locker room, Wood gives a short motivational speech and then the team walks onto the field, where Madam Hooch is refereeing. When Harry sees the banner, he feels a little bit braver.
Friendship again becomes a crucial support system for Harry, as it allows him to muster up his courage for the match. This will be true throughout the rest of the book as well, as the friendship between the three protagonists helps Harry to be braver than he would be alone.
The game begins in a swirl of balls, brooms, and bats. Gryffindor pulls ahead early, and Harry flies way above everyone else, looking for the Snitch. But partway through the game, Harry feels his broom lurch under him, “as though the broom [is] trying to buck him off.” No one seems to have noticed it, until Hagrid, who is sitting with Ron and Hermione, points out that it seems like Harry’s lost control of his broom.
Harry’s jinxed broom is perhaps Voldemort’s first attempt at killing Harry, albeit indirectly. It seems that Voldemort believes that getting rid of Harry will prevent the same loss of power that Voldemort experienced when trying to kill Harry as a baby.
Harry’s broom starts to roll, causing Harry to dangle from it by one hand. The crowd gasps. Hermione grabs Hagrid’s binoculars and looks at the crowd. She sees Snape, who has his eyes “fixed on Harry” and is muttering something under his breath. Thinking that Snape is jinxing the broom, Hermione races to the row of seats behind Snape, accidentally knocking over Professor Quirrell in the process. She crouches behind Snape and casts a spell to set his robes on fire, thus breaking his focus. In the air, Harry is able to clamber back onto his broom.
Hermione again proves how vital her friendship is, and how crucial it is sometimes to break the rules. She wants to protect Harry from the jinx, even going so far as to light a teacher’s robes on fire in order to do so. This moment also carries a subtle but key detail, in that Hermione also knocks Professor Quirrell in the process of trying to stop Snape.
Harry speeds toward the ground and hits the field on all fours. His hand is clamped over his mouth as if he’s going to throw up. He coughs, and the Snitch falls into his hand, ending the game in confusion. Gryffindor wins 170 points to 60—the Gryffindors cheer the results.
Harry’s first Quidditch success may not go exactly as planned, but winning the game certainly helps him feel like he belongs both on the team and in Gryffindor, and helps to fuel his confidence in later games.
Later, Harry returns to Hagrid’s hut with Ron and Hermione for tea. Ron explains that Snape was the one jinxing the broom, but Hagrid is unconvinced. Harry reveals that he found out Snape tried to get past the three-headed dog, and that Snape’s trying to steal whatever it’s guarding. Hagrid is shocked that they know about “Fluffy” and argues that Snape wouldn’t try to steal what it’s guarding. He concludes by saying that the kids shouldn’t try to intervene, and that what the dog is guarding is strictly the business of Professor Dumbledore and Nicolas Flamel. The kids’ ears perk up at this new piece of information, and Hagrid realizes that he’s said too much.
Although dangerous desires will be explored more fully in the next chapter, Harry also exhibits a dangerous desire here. He wants desperately to prove that Snape is up to something, biased by his immediate dislike of the man, and this desire also biases Ron and Hermione.