Over breakfast the next morning, Harry and Ron try to figure out what could be inside the mysterious package and why it would need such heavy protection. During their discussion, the mail arrives, along with a large package for Harry. It is Harry’s new broomstick, a Nimbus Two Thousand, along with a note from Professor McGonagall that urges him to keep the news quiet, since first-year students are not typically allowed to have broomsticks. Malfoy sees the package and, realizing what it is, tries to turn Harry in to Professor Flitwick to be punished. Much to Malfoy’s dismay, Professor Flitwick merely praises Harry’s flying skill and congratulates him on being appointed to the Gryffindor team. Harry thanks Malfoy; if it had not been for his attempt to steal Neville’s Remembrall, Harry would never have gotten on the Gryffindor team.
Later that day, Harry has his first Quidditch practice with Wood and the rest of the Gryffindor team. Wood explains the rules to him: each team has three Chasers, one Keeper, two Beaters, and one Seeker. The Chasers score points by throwing the Quaffle through one of three rings on the opposing team’s side, while the Keeper prevents the other team from scoring in the Gryffindor rings. The Seeker’s job is to catch the Golden Snitch, a tiny winged ball that gives an additional one hundred and fifty points to whichever team catches it. During the practice, Harry catches every ball that Wood throws at him. The rest of the team is extremely impressed, and Harry is thrilled that his first few days at Hogwarts are going so well.
After two months, Harry finally feels comfortable as a student at Hogwarts. He spends all of his time in classes, at Quidditch practice, or studying magic. During one particularly interesting Charms class, the first-year students practice a levitating spell by trying to make feathers fly. Ron struggles with his spell pronunciation and is irritated by Hermione’s success: she is the only student who is able to make her feather fly. He makes a nasty comment about her to Harry, and, overhearing him, Hermione runs off crying.
At the Halloween banquet, Professor Quirrell frantically interrupts the feast and informs Dumbledore that a troll is loose in the dungeons. All of the students are ushered out of the dining hall to stay in their houses while the teachers locate the troll. Realizing that Hermione missed the warning about the troll, Harry and Ron decide to leave the group and find her. On their way down the corridor, Harry and Ron inadvertently come across the troll and decide to lock it in the girl’s bathroom. As they leave the corridor, congratulating themselves on their quick thinking, they hear a loud scream and discover that they have accidentally locked Hermione in the bathroom with the troll.
Harry and Ron run back into the bathroom and attack the troll: Harry jumps on top of it and sticks his wand up its nose, while Ron tries to distract it by throwing metal pipes at it. In a final desperate attempt to disable the troll, Ron uses the levitation spell from Charms class and manages to knock out the troll with its own club. A few minutes later, Professors McGonagall, Snape, and Quirrell find the three students in the destroyed bathroom, and Professor McGonagall scolds Harry and Ron ferociously. Hermione lies and tells her that she left the group so that she could fight the troll on her own and Harry and Ron came to save her. Professor McGonagall docks Hermione five points and then gives Harry and Ron five points for their bravery. At this point, Harry, Ron, and Hermione become good friends.
Quidditch season begins in November, and Harry is even more swamped with classes and Quidditch practices. His position on the Gryffindor team is still officially a secret, but Harry discovers that secrets” do not mean much at Hogwarts: nearly everyone already knows that he is playing Seeker. Harry’s friendship with Hermione is particularly beneficial during this busy time as she helps him complete his school assignments. She also lends him a book entitled “Quidditch through the Ages” in order to prepare for the first Quidditch match against Slytherin.
Unfortunately, Professor Snape confiscates the book from Harry the night before the match. Harry decides to go to Snape’s office to get the book back and sees Snape lifting his robes above his knees and examining his bloody leg. When Snape sees Harry, he screams at him to leave and Harry runs out. As Harry runs back to Ron and Hermione in the Gryffindor common room, he concludes that Snape must have injured his leg in a run-in with the three-headed dog.
It is the day of the first big Quidditch match, and Harry is overcome with both excitement and anxiety. As the game begins, the Gryffindor team is leading and Harry has already almost caught the Snitch. Suddenly, Harry’s Nimbus Two Thousand begins to fly out of control, jerking and nearly throwing him off. Hermione and Ron are terrified for Harry’s safety, and Hermione realizes that Harry’s broom is being jinxed by powerful dark magic. She sees Snape staring at Harry while muttering under his breath and suspects that he is the one jinxing the broom. Hermione sneaks over to Snape and sets his robes on fire. Suddenly, the jinx is broken, and Harry is able to regain control of his broom. Seconds later, he sees the Snitch and catches it in his mouth, winning the match for Gryffindor.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to Hagrid’s cottage after the match for some tea. Ron and Hermione tell Hagrid about Snape jinxing Harry’s broom, but Hagrid is unconvinced. He asks them why they think Snape would try to kill Harry, and Harry tells Hagrid about Snape’s leg and the three-headed dog in the third-floor corridor. Hagrid lets slip that he is the owner of the three-legged dog, Fluffy, and that Fluffy is guarding a secret known only to Dumbledore and Nicolas Flamel.
The episode with the troll on Halloween is the first time that Hermione becomes a full-fledged member of the group. Before this point in the text, Hermione is described solely as an obnoxious know-it-all, and the reader cannot help but agree with Ron’s negative view of her. When Hermione runs away crying after hearing Ron make fun of her, the reader gets a first glimpse into her character; instead of the over-eager student that irritates her classmates, the reader is introduced to an extremely insecure and lonely girl. Suddenly it seems as if Ron’s judgment of her has been too harsh.
Yet, it is not until Hermione brashly takes full responsibility for the episode with the troll that Rowling provides the reader with a true sense of her courage and sheer grit. Hermione does not help Ron and Harry knock out the troll in the girl’s bathroom; she is too terrified even to run away, let alone use her magic to subdue the troll. Still, she is able to recognize the bravery that Harry and Ron display in rescuing her and realize that the three students will receive a lesser punishment if she lies to Professor McGonagall and takes all of the blame.
Significantly, it is this moment of falsehood that truly establishes the friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione. At this point in the narrative, Harry and Ron have already demonstrated a sort of cavalier attitude toward the rules at Hogwarts. Although they do not break rules for the sake of breaking them, neither Harry nor Ron shies away from occasional disobedience. When Hermione lies to the teachers in order to save Harry and Ron from consequences, she reveals that she follows the same causal principle as Harry: break the rules only when the ends justify the means. Hermione’s concept of this causal justification does vary from that of Harry and Ron, but even so, it shows Harry, Ron, and the reader that Hermione has more to offer in the context of the narrative.
In some ways, a friendship based on a lie would not seem to be an appropriate element of a novel for young adults. In fact, Harry and Ron do not become friends with Hermione simply because she lies to the teachers for them. Her lie highlights the importance of being loyal to friends; even though Hermione is not close to Harry and Ron at this point, she is still loyal to them in the face of institutional consequences. This idea of friendship and loyalty is a crucial theme of the narrative, particularly when it comes to the challenges that the three friends must face in the final few chapters of the novel.
During the first Quidditch game of the season, Rowling takes the opportunity to create a clear distinction between good and evil for the first time in the narrative. Although Malfoy and the other members of Slytherin House have demonstrated unpleasant and malevolent natures, none of them have used truly dark magic against Harry. When Harry’s broom is jinxed by dark magic, it becomes clear that there are larger forces at work than merely the match between the two teams; Harry is in opposition with a more powerful opponent, and one who remains identified until the final chapter of the book.
Notably, Harry’s first inclination is that Snape is the source of this mysterious dark magic, an assumption that is based on rather sketchy evidence. Snape is certainly a likely candidate for the role of the antagonist/villain in the narrative, particularly because of his mistreatment of Harry during Potion’s class. Still, the quantification of Snape as a villain is too obvious and rather unfair of Harry and his friends. In Rowling’s world, there are not absolutes of good and evil: every character has elements of both, even though some are more sympathetic than others.