Harry had never believed he would meet a boy he hated more thanDudley, but that was before he met Draco Malfoy. Still, first-yearGryffindors only had Potions with the Slytherins, so they didn'thave to put up with Malfoy much. Or at least, they didn't untilthey spotted a notice pinned up in the Gryffindor common room thatmade them all groan. Flying lessons would be starting on Thursday --and Gryffindor and Slytherin would be learning together. "Typical," said Harry darkly. "Just what I always wanted. Tomake a fool of myself on a broomstick in front of Malfoy." He had been looking forward to learning to fly more thananything else. "You don't know that you'll make a fool of yourself," said Ronreasonably. "Anyway, I know Malfoy's always going on about how goodhe is at Quidditch, but I bet that's all talk." Malfay certainly did talk about flying a lot. He complainedloudly about first years never getting on the house Quidditch teamsand told long, boastful stories that always seemed to end with himnarrowly escaping Muggles in helicopters. He wasn't the only one,though: the way Seamus Finnigan told it, he'd spent most of hischildhood zooming around the countryside on his broomstick. EvenRon would tell anyone who'd listen about the time he'd almost hit ahang glider on Charlie's old broom. Everyone from wizarding familiestalked about Quidditch constantly. Ron had already had a big argumentwith Dean Thomas, who shared their dormitory, about soccer. Roncouldn't see what was exciting about a game with only one ball whereno one was allowed to fly. Harry had caught Ron prodding Dean'sposter of West Ham soccer team, trying to make the players move. Neville had never been on a broomstick in his life, because hisgrandmother had never let him near one. Privately, Harry felt she'dhad good reason, because Neville managed to have an extraordinarynumber of accidents even with both feet on the ground. Hermione Granger was almost as nervous about flying as Nevillewas. This was something you couldn't learn by heart out of a book-- not that she hadn't tried. At breakfast on Thursday she boredthem all stupid with flying tips she'd gotten out of a librarybook called Quidditch Through the Ages. Neville was hanging on toher every word, desperate for anything that might help him hang onto his broomstick later, but everybody else was very pleased whenHermione's lecture was interrupted by the arrival of the mail. Harry hadn't had a single letter since Hagrid's note, somethingthat Malfoy had been quick to notice, of course. Malfoy's eagleowl was always bringing him packages of sweets from home, which heopened gloatingly at the Slytherin table. A barn owl brought Neville a small package from hisgrandmother. He opened it excitedly and showed them a glass ballthe size of a large marble, which seemed to be full of white smoke. "It's a Remembrall!" he explained. "Gran knows I forget things --this tells you if there's something you've forgotten to do. Look,you hold it tight like this and if it turns red -- oh..." His facefell, because the Remembrall had suddenly glowed scarlet, "You've forgotten something..." Neville was trying to remember what he'd forgotten when DracoMalfoy, who was passing the Gryffindor table, snatched the Remembrallout of his hand. Harry and Ron jumped to their feet. They were half hoping fora reason to fight Malfay, but Professor McGonagall, who could spottrouble quicker than any teacher in the school, was there in a flash. "What's going on?" "Malfoy's got my Remembrall, Professor." Scowling, Malfoy quickly dropped the Remembrall back on thetable. "Just looking," he said, and he sloped away with Crabbe andGoyle behind him. At three-thirty that afternoon, Harry, Ron, and the otherGryffindors hurried down the front steps onto the grounds for theirfirst flying lesson. It was a clear, breezy day, and the grassrippled under their feet as they marched down the sloping lawnstoward a smooth, flat lawn on the opposite side of the grounds to theforbidden forest, whose trees were swaying darkly in the distance. The Slytherins were already there, and so were twenty broomstickslying in neat lines on the ground. Harry had heard Fred and GeorgeWeasley complain about the school brooms, saying that some of themstarted to vibrate if you flew too high, or always flew slightlyto the left. Their teacher, Madam Hooch, arrived. She had short, gray hair,and yellow eyes like a hawk. "Well, what are you all waiting for?" she barked. "Everyonestand by a broomstick. Come on, hurry up." Harry glanced down at his broom. It was old and some of thetwigs stuck out at odd angles. "Stick out your right hand over your broom," called Madam Hoochat the front, "and say 'Up!"' "UPF everyone shouted. Harry's broom jumped into his hand at once, but it was oneof the few that did. Hermione Granger's had simply rolled overon the ground, and Neville's hadn't moved at all. Perhaps brooms,like horses, could tell when you were afraid, thought Harry; therewas a quaver in Neville's voice that said only too clearly that hewanted to keep his feet on the ground. Madam Hooch then showed them how to mount their brooms withoutsliding off the end, and walked up and down the rows correctingtheir grips. Harry and Ron were delighted when she told Malfoy he'dbeen doing it wrong for years. "Now, when I blow my whistle, you kick off from the ground,hard," said Madam Hooch. "Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet,and then come straight back down by leaning forward slightly. Onmy whistle -- three -- two --" But Neville, nervous and jumpy and frightened of being left onthe ground, pushed off hard before the whistle had touched MadamHooch's lips. "Come back, boy!" she shouted, but Neville was rising straight uplike a cork shot out of a bottle -- twelve feet -- twenty feet. Harrysaw his scared white face look down at the ground falling away,saw him gasp, slip sideways off the broom and -- WHAM -- a thud and a nasty crack and Neville lay facedown onthe grass in a heap. His broomstick was still rising higher andhigher, and started to drift lazily toward the forbidden forestand out of sight. Madam Hooch was bending over Neville, her face as white as his. "Broken wrist," Harry heard her mutter. "Come on, boy -- it'sall right, up you get.". She turned to the rest of the class. "None of you is to move while I take this boy to the hospitalwing! You leave those brooms where they are or you'll be out ofHogwarts before you can say 'Quidditch.' Come on, dear." Neville, his face tear-streaked, clutching his wrist, hobbledoff with Madam Hooch, who had her arm around him. No sooner were they out of earshot than Malfoy burst intolaughter. "Did you see his face, the great lump?" The other Slytherins joined in. "Shut up, Malfoy," snapped Parvati Patil. "Ooh, sticking up for Longbottom?" said Pansy Parkinson, ahard-faced Slytherin girl. "Never thought you'd like fat littlecrybabies, Parvati." "Look!" said Malfoy, darting forward and snatching something outof the grass. "It's that stupid thing Longbottom's gran sent him." The Remembrall glittered in the sun as he held it up. "Give that here, Malfoy," said Harry quietly. Everyone stoppedtalking to watch. Malfoy smiled nastily. "I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find --how about -- up a tree?" "Give it here!" Harry yelled, but Malfoy had leapt ontohis broomstick and taken off. He hadn't been lying, he could flywell. Hovering level with the topmost branches of an oak he called,"Come and get it, Potter!" Harry grabbed his broom. "No!" shouted Hermione Granger. "Madam Hooch told us not tomove -- you'll get us all into trouble." Harry ignored her. Blood was pounding in his ears. He mounted thebroom and kicked hard against the ground and up, up he soared; airrushed through his hair, and his robes whipped out behind him -andin a rush of fierce joy he realized he'd found something he could dowithout being taught -- this was easy, this was wonderful. He pulledhis broomstick up a little to take it even higher, and heard screamsand gasps of girls back on the ground and an admiring whoop from Ron. He turned his broomstick sharply to face Malfoy in midair. Malfoylooked stunned. "Give it here," Harry called, "or I'll knock you off thatbroom!" "Oh, yeah?" said Malfoy, trying to sneer, but lookingworried. Harry knew, somehow, what to do. He leaned forward and graspedthe broom tightly in both hands, and it shot toward Malfay like ajavelin. Malfoy only just got out of the way in time; Harry madea sharp about-face and held the broom steady. A few people belowwere clapping. "No Crabbe and Goyle up here to save your neck, Malfoy,"Harry called. The same thought seemed to have struck Malfoy. "Catch it if you can, then!" he shouted, and he threw the glassball high into the air and streaked back toward the ground. Harry saw, as though in slow motion, the ball rise up in theair and then start to fall. He leaned forward and pointed hisbroom handle down -- next second he was gathering speed in a steepdive, racing the ball -- wind whistled in his ears, mingled withthe screams of people watching -- he stretched out his hand -- afoot from the ground he caught it, just in time to pull his broomstraight, and he toppled gently onto the grass with the Remembrallclutched safely in his fist. "HARRY POTTER!" His heart sank faster than he'd just dived. Professor McGonagallwas running toward them. He got to his feet, trembling. "Never -- in all my time at Hogwarts --" Professor McGonagall was almost speechless with shock, and herglasses flashed furiously, "-- how dare you -- might have brokenyour neck --" "It wasn't his fault, Professor --" "Be quiet, Miss Patil "But Malfoy --" "That's enough, Mr. Weasley. Potter, follow me, now." Harry caught sight of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle's triumphantfaces as he left, walking numbly in Professor McGonagall's wake asshe strode toward the castle. He was going to be expelled, he justknew it. He wanted to say something to defend himself, but thereseemed to be something wrong with his voice. Professor McGonagallwas sweeping along without even looking at him; he had to jog tokeep up. Now he'd done it. He hadn't even lasted two weeks. He'dbe packing his bags in ten minutes. What would the Dursleys saywhen he turned up on the doorstep? Up the front steps, up the marble staircase inside, and stillProfessor McGonagall didn't say a word to him. She wrenched opendoors and marched along corridors with Harry trotting miserablybehind her. Maybe she was taking him to Dumbledore. He thought ofHagrid, expelled but allowed to stay on as gamekeeper. Perhaps hecould be Hagrid's assistant. His stomach twisted as he imaginedit, watching Ron and the others becoming wizards, while he stumpedaround the grounds carrying Hagrid's bag. Professor McGonagall stopped outside a classroom. She openedthe door and poked her head inside. "Excuse me, Professor Flitwick, could I borrow Wood fora moment?" Wood? thought Harry, bewildered; was Wood a cane she was goingto use on him? But Wood turned out to be a person, a burly fifth-year boy whocame out of Flitwicles class looking confused. "Follow me, you two," said Professor McGonagall, and theymarched on up the corridor, Wood looking curiously at Harry. "In here." Professor McGonagall pointed them into a classroom that was emptyexcept for Peeves, who was busy writing rude words on the blackboard. "Out, Peeves!" she barked. Peeves threw the chalk into abin, which clanged loudly, and he swooped out cursing. ProfessorMcGonagall slammed the door behind him and turned to face thetwo boys. "Potter, this is Oliver Wood. Wood -- I've found you a Seeker." Wood's expression changed from puzzlement to delight. "Are you serious, Professor?" "Absolutely," said Professor McGonagall crisply. "The boy'sa natural. I've never seen anything like it. Was that your firsttime on a broomstick, Potter?" Harry nodded silently. He didn't have a clue what was going on,but he didn't seem to be being expelled, and some of the feelingstarted coming back to his legs. "He caught that thing in his hand after a fifty-foot dive,"Professor McGonagall told Wood. "Didn't even scratch himself. CharlieWeasley couldn't have done it." Wood was now looking as though all his dreams had come trueat once. "Ever seen a game of Quidditch, Potter?" he asked excitedly. "Wood's captain of the Gryffindor team," Professor McGonagallexplained. "He's just the build for a Seeker, too," said Wood, now walkingaround Harry and staring at him. "Light -- speedy -- we'll haveto get him a decent broom, Professor -- a Nimbus Two Thousand ora Cleansweep Seven, I'd say." I shall speak to Professor Dumbledore and see if we can't bendthe first-year rule. Heaven knows, we need a better team than lastyear. Flattened in that last match by Slytherin, I couldn't lookSeverus Snape in the face for weeks...." Professor McGonagall peered sternly over her glasses at Harry. "I want to hear you're training hard, Potter, or I may changemy mind about punishing you." Then she suddenly smiled. "Your father would have been proud," she said. "He was anexcellent Quidditch player himself." "You're joking." It was dinnertime. Harry had just finished telling Ron what hadhappened when he'd left the grounds with Professor McGonagall. Ronhad a piece of steak and kidney pie halfway to his mouth, but he'dforgotten all about it. "Seeker?" he said. "But first years never -- you must be theyoungest house player in about a century, said Harry, shoveling pieinto his mouth. He felt particularly hungry after the excitementof the afternoon. "Wood told me." Ron was so amazed, so impressed, he just sat and gaped at Harry. "I start training next week," said Harry. "Only don't tellanyone, Wood wants to keep it a secret." Fred and George Weasley now came into the hall, spotted Harry,and hurried over. "Well done," said George in a low voice. "Wood told us. We'reon the team too -- Beaters." "I tell you, we're going to win that Quidditch cup for surethis year," said Fred. "We haven't won since Charlie left, butthis year's team is going to be brilliant. You must be good, Harry,Wood was almost skipping when he told us." "Anyway, we've got to go, Lee Jordan reckons he's found a newsecret passageway out of the school." "Bet it's that one behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy thatwe found in our first week. See you." Fred and George had hardly disappeared when someone far lesswelcome turned up: Malfoy, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle. "Having a last meal, Potter? When are you getting the trainback to the Muggles?" "You're a lot braver now that you're back on the ground andyou've got your little friends with you," said Harry coolly. Therewas of course nothing at all little about Crabbe and Goyle, but asthe High Table was full of teachers, neither of them could do morethan crack their knuckles and scowl. "I'd take you on anytime on my own," said Malfoy. "Tonight,if you want. Wizard's duel. Wands only -- no contact. What's thematter? Never heard of a wizard's duel before, I suppose?" "Of course he has," said Ron, wheeling around. "I'm his second,who's yours?" Malfoy looked at Crabbe and Goyle, sizing them up. "Crabbe," he said. "Midnight all right? We'll meet you in thetrophy room; that's always unlocked." When Malfoy had gone, Ron and Harry looked at each other. "Whatis a wizard's duel?" said Harry. "And what do you mean, you'remy second?" "Well, a second's there to take over if you die," said Roncasually, getting started at last on his cold pie. Catching thelook on Harry's face, he added quickly, "But people only diein proper duels, you know, with real wizards. The most you andMalfoy'll be able to do is send sparks at each other. Neither ofyou knows enough magic to do any real damage. I bet he expectedyou to refuse, anyway." "And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?" "Throw it away and punch him on the nose," Ron suggested. "Excuseme." They both looked up. It was Hermione Granger. "Can't a person eat in peace in this place?" said Ron. Hermione ignored him and spoke to Harry. "I couldn't help overhearing what you and Malfoy were saying --" "Bet you could," Ron muttered. "--and you mustn't go wandering around the school at night,think of the points you'll lose Gryffindor if you're caught, andyou're bound to be. It's really very selfish of you." "And it's really none of your business," said Harry. "Good-bye," said Ron. All the same, it wasn't what you'd call the perfect end to theday, Harry thought, as he lay awake much later listening to Deanand Seamus falling asleep (Neville wasn't back from the hospitalwing). Ron had spent all evening giving him advice such as "If hetries to curse you, you'd better dodge it, because I can't rememberhow to block them." There was a very good chance they were going toget caught by Filch or Mrs. Norris, and Harry felt he was pushinghis luck, breaking another school rule today. On the other hand,Malfoys sneering face kept looming up out of the darkness - thiswas his big chance to beat Malfoy face-to-face. He couldn't miss it. "Half-past eleven," Ron muttered at last, "we'd better go." They pulled on their bathrobes, picked up their wands, andcrept across the tower room, down the spiral staircase, and intothe Gryffindor common room. A few embers were still glowing in thefireplace, turning all the armchairs into hunched black shadows. Theyhad almost reached the portrait hole when a voice spoke from thechair nearest them, "I can't believe you're going to do this, Harry." A lamp flickered on. It was Hermione Granger, wearing a pinkbathrobe and a frown. "You!" said Ron furiously. "Go back to bed!" "I almost told your brother," Hermione snapped, "Percy --he's a prefect, he'd put a stop to this." Harry couldn't believe anyone could be so interfering. "Come on," he said to Ron. He pushed open the portrait of theFat Lady and climbed through the hole. Hermione wasn't going to give up that easily. She followed Ronthrough the portrait hole, hissing at them like an angry goose. "Don't you care about Gryffindor, do you only care aboutyourselves, I don't want Slytherin to win the house cup, and you'lllose all the points I got from Professor McGonagall for knowingabout Switching Spells." "Go away." "All right, but I warned you, you just remember whatI said when you're on the train home tomorrow, you're so --" But what they were, they didn't find out. Hermione had turned tothe portrait of the Fat Lady to get back inside and found herselffacing an empty painting. The Fat Lady had gone on a nighttimevisit and Hermione was locked out of Gryffindor tower. "Now what am I going to do?" she asked shrilly. "That's your problem," said Ron. "We've got to go, we 3 regoing to be late." They hadn't even reached the end of the corridor when Hermionecaught up with them. "I'm coming with you," she said. "You are not." "D'you think I'm going to stand out here and wait for Filchto catch me? If he finds all three of us I'll tell him the truth,that I was trying to stop you, and you can back me up." "You've got some nerve --" said Ron loudly. "Shut up, both of you!" said Harry sharply. I heard something." It was a sort of snuffling. "Mrs. Norris?" breathed Ron, squinting through the dark. It wasn't Mrs. Norris. It was Neville. He was curled up on thefloor, fast asleep, but jerked suddenly awake as they crept nearer. "Thank goodness you found me! I've been out here for hours,I couldn't remember the new password to get in to bed." "Keep your voice down, Neville. The password's 'Pig snout'but it won't help you now, the Fat Lady's gone off somewhere." "How's your arm?" said Harry. "Fine," said Neville, showing them. "Madam Pomfrey mended itin about a minute." "Good - well, look, Neville, we've got to be somewhere, we'llsee you later --" "Don't leave me!" said Neville, scrambling to his feet, "I don'twant to stay here alone, the Bloody Baron's been past twice already." Ron looked at his watch and then glared furiously at Hermioneand Neville. "If either of you get us caught, I'll never rest until I'velearned that Curse of the Bogies Quirrell told us about, and usedit on you. Hermione opened her mouth, perhaps to tell Ron exactly how touse the Curse of the Bogies, but Harry hissed at her to be quietand beckoned them all forward. They flitted along corridors striped with bars of moonlight fromthe high windows. At every turn Harry expected to run into Filchor Mrs. Norris, but they were lucky. They sped up a staircase tothe third floor and tiptoed toward the trophy room. Malfoy and Crabbe weren't there yet. The crystal trophy casesglimmered where the moonlight caught them. Cups, shields, plates,and statues winked silver and gold in the darkness. They edgedalong the walls, keeping their eyes on the doors at either endof the room. Harry took out his wand in case Malfoy leapt in andstarted at once. The minutes crept by. "He's late, maybe he's chickened out," Ron whispered. Then a noise in the next room made them jump. Harry had only justraised his wand when they heard someone speak -and it wasn't Malfoy. "Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner." It was Filch speaking to Mrs. Norris. Horror-struck, Harry wavedmadly at the other three to follow him as quickly as possible; theyscurried silently toward the door, away from Filch's voice. Neville'srobes had barely whipped round the corner when they heard Filchenter the trophy room. "They're in here somewhere," they heard him mutter, "probablyhiding." "This way!" Harry mouthed to the others and, petrified, theybegan to creep down a long gallery full of suits of armor. They couldhear Filch getting nearer. Neville suddenly let out a frightenedsqueak and broke into a run -he tripped, grabbed Ron around thewaist, and the pair of them toppled right into a suit of armor. The clanging and crashing were enough to wake the whole castle. "RUN!" Harry yelled, and the four of them sprinted down thegallery, not looking back to see whether Filch was following --they swung around the doorpost and galloped down one corridor thenanother, Harry in the lead, without any idea where they were orwhere they were going -- they ripped through a tapestry and foundthemselves in a hidden passageway, hurtled along it and came outnear their Charms classroom, which they knew was miles from thetrophy room. "I think we've lost him," Harry panted, leaning against thecold wall and wiping his forehead. Neville was bent double, wheezingand spluttering. I -- told -you," Hermione gasped, clutching at the stitch inher chest, "I -- told -- you." "We've got to get back to Gryffindor tower," said Ron, "quicklyas possible." "Malfoy tricked you," Hermione said to Harry. "You realize that,don't you? He was never going to meet you -- Filch knew someonewas going to be in the trophy room, Malfoy must have tipped him off." Harry thought she was probably right, but he wasn't going totell her that. "Let's go." It wasn't going to be that simple. They hadn't gone more thana dozen paces when a doorknob rattled and something came shootingout of a classroom in front of them. It was Peeves. He caught sight of them and gave a squealof delight. "Shut up, Peeves -- please -- you'll get us thrown out." Peeves cackled. "Wandering around at midnight, Ickle Firsties? Tut, tut,tut. Naughty, naughty, you'll get caughty." "Not if you don't give us away, Peeves, please." "Should tell Filch, I should," said Peeves in a saintly voice,but his eyes glittered wickedly. "It's for your own good, you know." "Get out of the way," snapped Ron, taking a swipe at Peevesthis was a big mistake. "STUDENTS OUT OF BED!" Peeves bellowed, "STUDENTS OUT OF BEDDOWN THE CHARMS CORRIDOR" Ducking under Peeves, they ran for their lives, right to the endof the corridor where they slammed into a door -- and it was locked. "This is it!" Ron moaned, as they pushed helplessly at the door,"We're done for! This is the end!" They could hear footsteps,Filch running as fast as he could toward Peeves's shouts. "Oh, move over," Hermione snarled. She grabbed Harry's wand,tapped the lock, and whispered, 'Alohomora!" The lock clicked and the door swung open -- they piled throughit, shut it quickly, and pressed their ears against it, listening. "Which way did they go, Peeves?" Filch was saying. "Quick,tell me." "Say 'please."' "Don't mess with me, Peeves, now where did they go?" "Shan't say nothing if you don't say please," said Peeves inhis annoying singsong voice. "All right -please." "NOTHING! Ha haaa! Told you I wouldn't say nothing if youdidn't say please! Ha ha! Haaaaaa!" And they heard the sound ofPeeves whooshing away and Filch cursing in rage. "He thinks this door is locked," Harry whispered. "I thinkwe'll be okay -- get off, Neville!" For Neville had been tuggingon the sleeve of Harry's bathrobe for the last minute. "What?" Harry turned around -- and saw, quite clearly, what. For amoment, he was sure he'd walked into a nightmare -- this was toomuch, on top of everything that had happened so far. They weren't in a room, as he had supposed. They were in acorridor. The forbidden corridor on the third floor. And now theyknew why it was forbidden. They were looking straight into the eyes of a monstrous dog,a dog that filled the whole space between ceiling and floor. It hadthree heads. Three pairs of rolling, mad eyes; three noses, twitching and quivering in their direction; three drooling mouths, salivahanging in slippery ropes from yellowish fangs. It was standing quite still, all six eyes staring at them,and Harry knew that the only reason they weren't already deadwas that their sudden appearance had taken it by surprise, but itwas quickly getting over that, there was no mistaking what thosethunderous growls meant. Harry groped for the doorknob -- between Filch and death,he'd take Filch. They fell backward -- Harry slammed the door shut, and they ran,they almost flew, back down the corridor. Filch must have hurriedoff to look for them somewhere else, because they didn't see himanywhere, but they hardly cared -- all they wanted to do was put asmuch space as possible between them and that monster. They didn'tstop running until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady onthe seventh floor. "Where on earth have you all been?" she asked, looking attheir bathrobes hanging off their shoulders and their flushed,sweaty faces. "Never mind that -- pig snout, pig snout," panted Harry, andthe portrait swung forward. They scrambled into the common roomand collapsed, trembling, into armchairs. It was a while before any of them said anything. Neville,indeed, looked as if he'd never speak again. "What do they think they're doing, keeping a thing like thatlocked up in a school?" said Ron finally. "If any dog needs exercise,that one does." Hermione had got both her breath and her bad temper backagain. "You don't use your eyes, any of you, do you?" shesnapped. "Didn't you see what it was standing on. "The floor?" Harry suggested. "I wasn't looking at its feet,I was too busy with its heads." "No, not the floor. It was standing on a trapdoor. It's obviouslyguarding something." She stood up, glaring at them. I hope you're pleased with yourselves. We could all have beenkilled -- or worse, expelled. Now, if you don't mind, I'm goingto bed." Ron stared after her, his mouth open. "No, we don't mind," he said. "You'd think we dragged her along,wouldn't you. But Hermione had given Harry something else to think about ashe climbed back into bed. The dog was guarding something.... Whathad Hagrid said? Gringotts was the safest place in the world forsomething you wanted to hide -- except perhaps Hogwarts. It looked as though Harry had found out where the grubby littiepackage from vault seven hundred and thirteen was.