31st October 1991
"She's mental, that girl. No wonder she hasn't got any friends- she drives them all away!" Ron remarked to Harry, as they were exiting the Charms classroom. Harry was about to chide him for his rudeness when he was bumped on his shoulder by a hurrying figure. A loud groan from Mark, who was behind them, clued Harry to the identity of the figure. It had been Hermione.
"I think she heard you," Harry said
"I think that she has heard that all her life," supplied Mark. "Why did you have to be so rude mate?"
Ron looked sufficiently embarrassed at this, but still tried to defend himself,
"So what? You're smart too but you don't rub it in our faces."
Mark just sighed, and silently shaking his head walked off towards the Great Hall.
Harry turned to Ron, and feeling brave proposed,
"I think you should apologise to her. I'll come with-" On seeing Ron's head shaking violently at this he added,
"No, listen. She was only trying to help, right? What if you had tried to help her with-uh- flying?"
At this Ron's face dropped. "Alright, Fine. I'll apologise to her in the next class. You're right, I was being a git."
Harry was satisfied at this and started walking with Ron. His friend could be extremely thoughtful sometimes, and flip to become thick at other times.
Harry's thoughts went to Hermione; if it weren't for the fact that he agreed to the point that Mark had made, he actually did think that it was her own fault.
The girl had been forced to partner up with Ron in Flitwick's class, and they had been working on the Levitation Charm. On listening to Ron mispronounce the spell, she had not been able to help herself.
"You're saying it incorrectly. Its Wing-gar -ium Levi-o-sa, so make the 'gar' nice and long."
'Ron may have been rude, but he wasn't exactly wrong,' he thought.
As they entered Transfiguration, Harry was surprised to see Hermione missing. The girl was usually the earliest in the class. He nudged his friend to sit on an empty seat and not with him, allowing Hermione to join Ron later, who gave a silent groan before proceeding to do so.
Harry was even more surprised when the girl didn't show up even after the class started. Mark was the last to enter along with Neville, evidently still munching on a roll, and sat beside Harry.
"As it is Hallowe'en today-" Professor McGonagall began, drawing Harry's attention towards her.
"-we will attempt to transfigure these pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns" she finished pointing towards a large pile of large orange pumpkins.
"Each pair will work on of these together, and I hope you have practised the spell for localised transformations that was taught last week."
"Are you finished, dear?" Molly Weasley asked her husband, who had insisted on decorating the house for Hallowe'en.
"Almost done, mum" Ginny replied instead of her father, who was muttering a spell to make the Jack-o-Lanterns float indefinitely. Her father was going to great lengths to ensure that everything was grand in their celebration this year, with conjured cobwebs and hanging bats, which were quite similar to the ones used in decorating the Hogwarts feast.
She realised that he was doing all this so that she wouldn't miss her brothers at home this year. He had also recruited her to help with decorating everything so that her mother couldn't recruit her to help in the kitchen.
"And that's done," he said, finished with the spell. He looked at one of the pumpkins, which had a very particular cut above its eyes, shaped in a vertical zigzag pattern. Turning towards his daughter, he said with a mischievous grin,
"Anyone in particular dear?"
Ginny blushed. Ever since her trip to King's Cross, she couldn't seem to forget the boy with the black hair and green eyes. Her family had always teased her about her small crush on the-boy-who-lived. Ok, big crush. Alright, massive crush, so much that she had imagined their wedding at the burrow, the Weasleys home.
She had actually forgotten that he was a real boy, so much that she'd failed to recognise him when he had asked her mum for the directions to get on to Platform nine-and-three-quarters. She had even tried to insist on coming aboard the Express to see him, which in hindsight was quite immature.
After coming home, she had almost forgotten him over the course of the month. That is until Ron's letter arrived. In it, he mentioned that he was now best friends with Harry Potter. Ginny had never felt more jealous of her brother.
"Come on now, dinner is ready," came her mother's voice to her rescue. Both father and daughter proceeded to the kitchen table.
"Ah Molly, it smells heavenly," Arthur said drawing long breaths of the warm kitchen air.
"It would have been ready sooner if I had someone's help," she said looking pointedly at Ginny, who shrunk under her gaze.
"She was helping me with the decorations," Arthur replied in a strong voice. He didn't understand why his wife insisted on Ginny doing chores which she did not like nor possess the skill for.
"I hope the boys are enjoying their feasts too," he said, trying to diffuse the tension.
"I hope Ron is not following in the twin's footsteps," Molly replied, serving her husband some of the stew, "Their marks last year were not something to be proud of"
As she began eating, Ginny thought about her brother. He certainly did not like to study. Knowing him, he would spend all his free time playing Chess or Exploding Snap.
The marks that they got at Hogwarts were actually just to ensure a minimum requirement; any actual grades that mattered were the OWL and NEWT scores. She had learned about this little-known titbit when Charlie was studying for his NEWTs during the summer.
Her father had told her about the grading system that muggle schools used, and the alphabetical scheme seemed more logical to her than the one the Ministry used: O for outstanding, E for Exceeds Expectations, A for Acceptable, P for Poor, D for Dreadful, and T for Troll.
She suddenly laughed, to the amusement of her parents. Her mind had pictured Ron in front of their mother, holding his OWL results, with all the scores as Troll.
"Troll- Troll in the dungeons- thought you ought to know."
Professor Quirrell then slumped against the high table, before sinking to the floor, clearly fainted. Moments ago, he had just come sprinting in the Great Hall, clearly in terror and ran towards Professor Dumbledore.
On hearing this, there was an uproar. The whole school was present in the Great Hall for the Hallowe'en feast, and the panic seemed to spread like wildfire. Harry suddenly saw Professor Dumbledore raise his wand and shoot purple firecrackers, which immediately silenced the Hall.
"Prefects, lead your Houses back to the dormitories immediately!" he rumbled.
Harry saw Percy take charge at once, rapidly organising the first year into a tight group before leading them towards the Gryffindor Tower. Harry wondered how a Troll could get in; weren't they supposed to be huge?
"Don't ask me, mate," Ron replied when he had voiced his question. "They're supposed to be really stupid. Maybe Peeves let it in," he offered as they walked. Ron suddenly stopped, staring dead-fixed towards their housemate Parvati Patil. Harry didn't realise it for a moment before it dawned on him.
"Hermione," they both said, almost at the same time. Ron added, with an embarrassed face,
"She doesn't know about the troll."
Parvati and Lavender Brown had been talking about how Hermione had been crying all day in the girl's bathroom and wanted to be left alone. Harry and Ron had overheard them, with Ron feeling more guiltier than ever; he hadn't meant to be mean to her.
"Come on then," Harry said grabbing his friend's arm. Ducking down, they started moving alongside the Hufflepuffs, then after a while slipping down a deserted corridor. They then hurried along the direction they knew the girl's bathroom was. They turned around a corner when quick footsteps seemed to follow them.
"Percy!" hissed Ron, pulling Harry behind a stone statue. However, it was not Percy but Snape, who crossed the corridor and disappeared from view.
"Where-" Harry whispered, "Why isn't he down in the dungeons with the other professors?"
"Should we follow?"
Harry nodded. Snape seemed to always act suspicious, and Harry did not like it. They followed the Potions Master, creeping along the corridor to avoid being detected
"He's headed for the third floor," observed Harry. Ron, however, was not paying attention.
"Do you smell that?"
Harry sniffed, and after a moment smelled a foul stench of rotten dirty laundry. Before he could comment, he heard a low grunting, alongside shuffling footfalls of gigantic feet.
Ron's face registered shock, and he pointed towards the end of the passage. It was unnecessary, for Harry was already staring at the twelve-foot tall troll, currently illuminated by a patch of moonlight.
He could make out the dull grey skin on the lumpy body and the small bald head, standing atop thick short legs with flat horny feet. The troll had long arms, with which it was dragging a huge wooden club along the floor.
By the time they had fully absorbed that the troll was here and not in the dungeons, the troll had entered into a room.
"Ron, do you think that door will hold? The key's in the lock," Harry muttered
"Good idea," came the nervous reply.
They edged towards the open doorway, hoping dearly that the troll would not come out of it. Once they reached it, Harry leapt and grabbed the key, slamming the door. He turned the key quickly locking it.
Happy at their success, they started running back up when they heard a high, petrified scream coming from behind the locked room. It belonged to a girl.
"Please don't tell me we locked the troll in with Hermione," Ron said, turning to his friend.
"We locked the troll in with Hermione"
They immediately ran back to the door, opened it and rushed inside. Hermione was shrinking against the wall opposite, trembling with fear. The troll was advancing on her slowly, its club knocking the sinks off the walls.
"We need to distract it," Harry said to Ron, picking up a fallen tap before throwing it hard against the wall.
The troll stopped, evidently confused by the sudden source of the noise. Lumbering around for a few moments it turned, noticing Harry near the doorway. Aiming for its new target, the troll moved towards Harry, lifting the club to strike.
"Oi pea brain!" came the loud voice of Ron from the other side of the bathroom. The boy threw a metal pipe at the troll, who did not notice the piece of plumbing attacking its person. It did, however, register the yell, pausing to search for the new target.
Seizing the opportunity, Harry ran around the troll and started pulling Hermione towards the door. She, however, seemed to be in shock and refused to budge from her place.
Suddenly he heard the troll roar, then saw it charge towards Ron, cornering him in the bathroom. 'Shit,' he thought, then did the first thing that came to his mind; he took a great running leap and managed to jump onto the back of the troll, fastening his hands around its head.
His hand had still been carrying his wand, and Harry used the opportunity to jab it straight into one of the troll's huge nostrils. Sufficiently injured, the troll cried in pain, twisting around, its arm flailing the club it held. Harry hanged on to dear life and hoped the troll wouldn't hit him or rip him off.
Hermione gave another shriek at this, sinking to the floor in fright. Ron pulled out his wand, and suddenly struck with inspiration, yelled
He had pronounced the spell correctly, and magic obeyed. The club that was in the troll's hand flew into the air. Ron aimed it just over its head, then let it fall. It dropped with a sickening crack onto its owner's head, who swayed for a moment.
Harry realised the imminent fall of the troll and gave it a nudge forward before pulling his wand out; it fell flat on its face, making the floor of the room tremble. There was a stunned silence in the room for a few minutes.
"Is it - is it dead?" Hermione seemed to have found her voice.
"I don't think so," said Harry, "Just knocked out, I reckon." Looking at the wand in his hand, he began wiping it on the troll's trousers.
There were loud footsteps heard, and a moment later, Professor McGonagall came bursting into the room, followed closely by Snape and then Quirrell. Quirrell became queasy at the sight of the troll and settled down on a nearby toilet. Snape bent over to check the troll.
"What on earth were you thinking of?" said Professor McGonagall in a furious voice. "It's sheer luck you aren't dead. Why are you not in your dormitories?"
Snape was looking calculatedly at first Harry, then Ron. Hermione suddenly spoke, so far unnoticed by the teachers.
"Please professor, they came looking for me." Hermione had managed to stand up by now, though she was still trembling a little.
"I- I went looking for the troll because I - I thought I could deal with them on my own - since - since I had read all about them"
Ron looked gobsmacked. Harry agreed with his assessment. Hermione Granger, telling a downright lie to a teacher?
"If they had not found me, I - " she continued, a shiver passing through her. "Harry and Ron tried to distract it at first. They - It didn't work. So Harry stuck his wand up its nose, and Ron managed to knock it out with its own club. It was about to finish me, professor. If they had waited to find someone - " she left her sentence hanging.
Harry and Ron tried to act as if this was not news to them. Professor McGonagall looked at them both for a moment, before turning back to Hermione.
"Miss Granger, how in the world could you think of tackling a mountain troll on your own? Fifteen points will be taken from Gryffindor for this," she said, clearly disappointed. "If you're not hurt, you'd better head to Gryffindor Tower. Students are finishing the feasts in their Houses."
Nodding with her head down in shame, Hermione left without a word.
Professor McGonagall turned to the boys.
"Not many first-years could have taken on a full-grown mountain troll. You each win Gryffindor fifteen points. For sheer dumb luck," She motioned them to leave.
They walked back to Gryffindor tower in silence. When they neared the entrance Ron spoke,
"It was good of her to get us out of trouble like that." Harry nodded. Ron continued,
"Though we should have gotten more than thirty points. Fifteen once you take off Hermione's"
Harry couldn't help but snort at that. "Pig snout," he spoke the password to the portrait of the Fat Lady, which guarded the entrance to their common room.
The students were busy talking and eating the food that had been sent up for them, barely noticing their entrance. Hermione, however, was standing near the door, clearly waiting for them. The three of them just stood in embarrassed silence. Finally, still avoiding each other's eyes, they broke the pause.
"Thanks," they all said then hurried of to get plates, silently thanking the troll that had made them a new friend.