AN: Hello! It's been a while. Thanks for all the words of encouragement even during the times when I was wondering if I'd ever get this chapter out. It's not perfect but hopefully my juices will start flowing again and I'll have more of this story out for ya'll soonish.

Chapter Five: Quidditch Craze

If there was one thing that Harry had learned for certain during his relatively short immersion in the wizarding world, it was to never say a bad thing about Quidditch. The first he had ever heard of it was while taking a jaunt through the village nearest his family home, getting familiar with the people that were apparently under his protection. He had been in cognito and had been ambling through the local hangout when his attention had been caught by an energetic conversation a group of lads were having, filled with active gesticulation and sound effects. From the violent movements and worked up tones, Harry had thought they were re-enacting the latest action movie, or whatever the magical equivalent was for a movie.

" — There he was," A wild-eyed young man had said, his copper hair out of place from his enthusiastic retelling. "Damn near five 'undred feet in the air — And this is while it's pourin' down like a coven o' hedgewitches summoned a ruddy flood — and he's jus' hangin' on with only one hand since the other's broken from that Bludger and the wind's too fierce for him to swing back up into his seat! The Gryfalcons' Beaters were circlin' below 'im and gettin' closer, thinkin' to catch him afore he falls, an' then — an' then, you know what he did? The daffy sod swung his legs back like he's about to try to mount about again — and let's go'a the bloody broom!"

Copper-top's friends made sounds of shock and awe. He nodded with vigour.

"I know, right? We all thought he had lost his grip at first but it turned out that mad hatter had seen the Snitch about to fly under 'im and made to catch it with a Suicide Drop. He dropped like a brick and caught the Snitch. He even landed on his feet on the back of the defensive Beater's broom! Most amazin' thing I've ever seen!"

Further eavesdropping and a touch of deductive reasoning later, Harry realised they were not discussing some excessively action-packed film but an actual sport. Hundreds of feet in the air? Clinging to safety by nothing more than a piece of wood? Metal cannonball like projectiles that were shot at other players by use of metal bats? It sounded like low-level guerrilla warfare and the most fun Harry had ever heard of. But there was one thing that bothered Harry . . . .

"The Snitch gets how many points?" he had exclaimed.

That was when carrot-top's crew finally noticed Harry's presence and then proceeded to berate him for snooping in on a private conversation. That, of course, didn't stop them from confirming the fact that catching the Snitch got 150 points.

A nondescript, dirty-blond boy snickered.

"Where've you been livin' to not know how much a Snitch is worth?"

"Never mind that," Harry countered. "Why does it get so many points? A team that doesn't catch the Snitch could only win if they get at least sixteen goals ahead of the other team — how likely is that to happen?"

"Likelier'n you'd think!" huffed the fiery redhead with offence, obviously the Quidditch expert amongst them. "Keepers got a rough job o' it, mindin' all three of 'em hoops, and if a player gets knocked out with no second to take their place, the team still hasta keep playin' even with tha' missin' position. I remember a game with the Cannons where all their players 'cept the one Seeker was taken out and Gregors still did his damnedest to find the Snitch. Silly sod didn't manage to win o' course but he put up a good show."

Harry considered that for a moment but eventually agreed that being required to continue playing even with missing players, thus increasing the chance of the opposite team to gain the upper hand, was indeed a suitable counter for having a ball be worth 150 points.

He shrugged.

"I suppose that makes sense. Quodpot's easier to understand though."

They rounded on him immediately, and by the looks he was given, one would have thought Harry had made intimations about rounding up their mothers from unseemly places of business and using them most disreputably. With a pack of howling teenagers bellowing after him as he gave chase, Harry swore to himself that he'd never again put down another person's sport, not even accidentally — the chances of being throttled were too high.

Thoughts of Quidditch was once more thrust upon Harry when it seemed the entirety of the first-years were in an uproar over the upcoming flying lessons. Even the cardboard cut-outs from Gryffindor were excited, albeit in their generic, pre-packaged way. Seeing them carry on was like watching a B-film set in an American high school, complete with lame one-liners and bleached teeth — it was incredibly unnerving.

That Malfoy snob that Harry had met at the robe shop — and then later once again when Harry was talking the brat's goons into purchasing pre-completed assignments — certainly did talk about flying a lot. He complained loudly about first years never getting on the House teams and told long, boastful stories that always seemed to end with him narrowly escaping Muggles in helicopters. Harry took in the tall tales with a grain of salt, thinking that if such accidents had actually happened as often as was bragged, Malfoy would have already been mowed down with air missiles for being an unidentified flying object.

Malfoy wasn't the only one, though: Ron Weasley would tell anyone who'd listen about the time he'd almost hit a hang glider on his brother Charlie's old broom. Harry granted this admission the same scepticism he gave Malfoy, wondering if wizards thought helicopters and hang gliders were the everyday means of travel for Muggles with how often they were mentioned. It was really getting ridiculous. The way Seamus Finnigan told it, he'd spent most of his childhood zooming around the countryside on his broomstick. While Harry was outlining the Gryffindor version of their Charms essay, Morag had told him that Leanne Runcorn from Hufflepuff had been going on about sneaking out when her parents were out to get practice in on her father's broom.

Everyone from wizarding families had talked about Quidditch constantly since the notices had been posted to the bulletin board. Flying, then Quidditch, Quidditch, and more Quidditch — it was like no other sport existed!

What about pegasus racing? What about duelling or beast wrestling? Hell, what about the other broom-related sports? Aingingein also consisted of flying, and there were balls to be thrown and flaming hoops as well! Quodpot was all the rage in the Americas, and Shuntbumps was jousting in the air. He'd admit that Swivenhodge and tennis were bastardised forms of each other, but broom racing was a thing; why was there no love? Harry was considering petitioning for school recognised teams for all of these other sports; Quidditch wasn't the only fun to be had and he was eager to be encouraged to dive-bomb someone with the intentions of spearing them with a lance.

Not all were eager for flying though. A few girls in Ravenclaw were scared of heights and were squirming at the thought of leaving the ground. Neville Longbottom, the boy with the forever missing toad — seriously, did he actually have one or was he just messing with them? — had never been on a broomstick in his life, because his grandmother had never let him near one. After watching the boy somehow trip over a tapestry — one that was still on the wall Harry felt she'd had good reason since Longbottom managed to have an extraordinary number of accidents even with both feet on the ground.

Hermione 'the face of evil' Granger was almost as nervous about flying as Longbottom was. Flying was something you couldn't learn by heart out of a book — not that she hadn't tried. At breakfast on Thursday, Harry saw a few of them actually fall asleep on her as she bored them all stupid with flying tips she'd gotten out of a library book. Longbottom was hanging on to her every word, desperate for anything that might help him hang on to his broomstick. Harry wondered why neither of them considered the most logical way of staying on one's broom: firmly grab hold of it — wrap yourself around it in a koala hold if you have to — and sodding don't let go.

The mandated day of the flying lesson for Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff was actually postponed to the heightened anxiety of the mentioned houses. Madam Hooch was put in the Hospital Wing after being knocked down a flight of stairs by a herd of second years fleeing from Peeves. Normally such a tumble wouldn't be a big deal but the flying instructor had bumped her head on the way down, and Madam Pomfrey wanted to keep her under observation since she was knocked unconscious.

As a means of not wasting more time than necessary, all the first years were assembled during what was supposed to be the Gryffindor/Slytherin lesson. All fifty-eight firsties were milling about the Transfiguration courtyard, waiting for the lesson to begin when Madam Hooch, back on her feet again, strode briskly toward them, a sixth-year Prefect nipping at her heels to assist her in keeping them in line.

"What are you all waiting for?" Madam Hooch barked, snapping them to attention. It was clear that she was agitated. "Everyone stand by a broom. Come on, hurry up."

The first years set upon the brooms. They were arranged in four rows with a wider space between the second and third row to make room for the pacing professor. The students organised themselves loosely by House, Ravenclaws beside the Slytherins, since this year's crop of Slytherins had already put themselves on hostile grounds with the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs. Harry stood next to a passable broom as he looked sideways at the haughty group on his left. He may gleefully take the money of the thicker ones but there was no denying that they were an unpleasant bunch. Such a shame; he was rather fond of the older ones he had met on the train.

"Stick out your right hand over your broom," called Madam Hooch when she saw everyone in place, "and say 'Up!'"

"UP!" everyone shouted.

Harry's broom jumped into his hand at once, but it was one of the few that did. A good lot of them did nothing more than twitch a bit though Kevin Entwhistle's did spring up and nail him in the forehead. Morag's did this strange sort of shimmy, rising half way before nose-diving back to the ground. Harry figured that the brooms were sort of like trained animals, responding to command but not when the trainers were uncertain themselves.

It took a few moments, but eventually, everyone had their broom in their hands (though Harry did see Stephan Cornfoot covertly picking up his broom by hand when he thought no one was looking). Madam Hooch then showed them how to mount their brooms without sliding off the end, and walked up and down the rows correcting their grips. Harry suppressed a smirk when he heard her saying that Malfoy had been holding his incorrectly.

"I've used this grip for years!" Malfoy protested, pinking up with indignity.

Madam Hooch was unimpressed.

"Then you've been doing it wrong for years. The correct hold is like this."

She demonstrated the correct grip and eventually nodded in approval when Malfoy bent his pride enough to mimic her. Straightening, she surveyed the class.

"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. On my whistle — three — two —"

Unfortunately, Longbottom was the jumpy sort and kicked off early. Terror blatant on his face, he shot straight up as a geyser went off underneath him

"Come back, boy!" Madam Hooch shouted, but it was no use, judging by the way he grappled and swerved, it was obvious that Longbottom had lost control of the broom.

Twelve feet — twenty feet — thirty feet off the ground! Harry saw the chubby boy's terrified face look down at the ground growing farther away from him, saw him gasp, slip sideways off the broom and —


Harry's wand was in his hand before he knew what he was doing. Longbottom was hovering in mid-air ten feet from the ground, his broom still rising higher and higher without him, an expression of stark relief on his face. When he saw who had him at wandpoint, gratitude made itself known in sobbed words of thanks. Harry slowly guided the boy down to the ground and released the spell when the other boy was at a safe dropping distance.

Longbottom flopped backwards and sucked in gasping breaths as those nearest to him huddled around him and Madam Hooch bustled over to look him over. From across the way, Harry saw Justin face-palm as his ducklings made cow-eyes at Harry. Oh, hell no. He was glad that Longbottom wasn't a grease-spot on the grass but now Harry was wishing he wasn't so widely acknowledged as some sort of messiah; that Jones girl looked like she wanted to extract a sample of his DNA 'for science.'

"A trip to the infirmary for a Calming Draught, I think," the hawk-eyed woman said, easing the boy up into a sitting position. "Come along, lad. You've had enough excitement today."

Pulling the boy to his feet, Madam Hooch pierced Harry with a look.

"Twenty points to Ravenclaw for quick thinking and saving a classmate from harm. Impressive reflexes, Potter." She then turned to address her assistant. "Ease them into the air, Beauregard. When they're ready, let them fly around for the rest of the class. I don't have to tell you to keep an eye out for mischief."

The sixth year boy nodded. As Madam Hooch ushered Longbottom away, he said, "Alright, you lot, let's try that kick off again. On my whistle!"

In between shooting awed looks at the discomfited Harry Potter, the crowd of first years re-adjusted themselves into position once more.

"Three — two — one —"


In sloppy unison, they kicked off from the ground, some doing well, some wavering a touch, and some outright failing. Harry made it into the air easily, smiling in encouragement at Morag who was one of the ones that were wavering.

"Of course you would make this look easy as well," Morag grumbled, a choke-hold on her broom. Her face was pale in contrast to Harry's face that was flushed with excitement.

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean," said Harry, smiling weakly, ignoring the looks being sent his way. Not good, not good, how to escape?

Morag eye-balled him.

"Let's not kid ourselves here. And what was that spell earlier? That sure wasn't the Hover Charm we learned."

"A precursor to the modern charm," Harry mumbled, surveying the grounds as they drifted. Justin was being coaxed up by Dean twenty feet below them, and some of the girls were playing tag. "Less precise, needing only a swish and jab, and costs more energy, almost thrice the amount. It was made obsolete in the late eighteenth century when a descendant of the spell-creator invented the variation that is currently standard."

"I don't remember reading that in the textbook," Morag frowned.

"It's in the appendix — I've already read the book through a few times."

Most of the class had made it into the air by this point except for a select handful. Among the few was Granger, her hair even bushier than usual from anxiety and embarrassment, jumping up and down ineffectively. She would have been best off with the small crowd surrounding the prefect who was attempting to instruct the stragglers, but she was a few yards back, being taunted by Malfoy and his cronies from mid-air.

Normally the Gryffindors would snap to attention, defending one of their own from insult, but the majority of them were out of earshot, careening about on the other side of the courtyard, and the couple on the ground were too absorbed by the prefect to notice. As it was, the students that did take notice — a handful of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws — were too intimidated by Malfoy's bullying to do anything to help poor Granger.

A desire to escape being stared at coupled with his sense of right and wrong propelled Harry toward the jeering bunch, despite his aversion toward Granger and her repelling ways.

"Need some help, Granger?" Harry asked, puttering forward at a plodding pace, pointedly ignoring her tormentors.

Granger had a look on her face that was torn between her usual expression of wanting to scold him for whatever reason and trying to hold back tears. Her eyes flicked from Harry who was floating there amicably and the green-robed crowd who was now scowling at Harry.

"Help?" she said as if she'd never heard of such a thing.

"Yes, help — it looks like you're having a bit of trouble getting off the ground."

"As if a filthy brown-noser that spews useless facts to make up for a lack of talent could use a broom anyway!" Malfoy scoffed, put out at being usurped.

His entourage sniggered their support.

"I'm sorry, Malfoy," Morag said, having bobbled after Harry. She rewarded the pointy blond an unimpressed look. "I didn't know that you were included in this conversation."

Malfoy flushed pink with indignation and sneered at Morag.

"And who was talking to you, MacDougal? Do your parents know you're associating with the wrong sort?"

"I'll be friends with whoever I want. I don't need anyone's permission, least of all yours!"

"Well, that's nice," Harry said, affecting a look of offence. "I'll admit to being a bit rough around the edges but I'd hardly call myself 'the wrong sort'."

Malfoy looked confused and it was Morag's turn to face-palm.

"He was talking about Granger."

"And here's where I know for certain this is all just a big misunderstanding," Harry replied blithely. "Malfoy has told us quite explicitly how respectable and well-known his family is — talking down about Granger would spit all over that. No one truly respectable would pick on others. Anyone with half a brain knows that true gentlemen never speak ill about a lady, that only insecure low-lives would bully others to compensate for personal failings. Talented, admirable people like the Malfoys don't belittle others, Morag." Harry wagged a reprimanding finger at his friend.

"Malfoy is cream of the crop, his family the best in Britain, he would let his accomplishments speak for themselves, he wouldn't degrade himself by talking big while riding on his father's coattails — the idea is just ridiculous!" With a pleasant smile, Harry addressed the other boy directly. "Isn't that right, Malfoy, old man?"

Morag swallowed a giggle at the blond's tight expression. Without a word further, Malfoy about-faced sharply and flew away before his posse even knew what was going on.

Harry watched the group of Slytherins, his head tilted to the side.

"Was it something I said?" When he didn't get a verbal answer, he looked to Granger who was still standing there, only now she was gaping at them. "As I was saying, you look like you need a bit of help."

"Yes," Granger eventually said, a curious expression Harry didn't comprehend on her face.

"Right, then. Instead of jumping, have you tried pushing away at the ground as if you were pushing away from the side of a swimming pool? That's about the same motion I used to get going."

"A fifty-five-foot dive!" Professor Flitwick yelped, leaping from his chair. His eyes widened and he clutched at his throat in shock. "Surely not! He'd be laid up in the Hospital Wing if that was so!"

Beauregard, the prefect that had attended the flying lessons, was quick to assure the disbelieving professor.

"It's true, sir! When I got all the first years in the air, a few of the boys were playing catch with some bauble and flying pretty high. Two of them knocked into each other and dropped the thing, and Potter shot after it. He caught it not ten feet from the ground and shot right back up without a hitch!"

"Merciful Merlin! Mr Potter!" The diminutive professor addressed Harry directly. "That was an extremely dangerous thing to do! What if you had broken your neck?"

Harry shuffled a bit in place, fidgeting with the shiny sphere in his hand.

"It didn't seem all that dangerous at the time and Neville would have been heart-broken if his Remembrall was destroyed — his gran sent it to him just this morning!"

"It's admirable that you care so, but I doubt Mr Longbottom would have felt any better if you had gotten hurt!"

"I say, sir," Beauregard said, looking eager. "The Quidditch team could really use someone with that kind of talent; Charlie Weasley couldn't have made such a catch! Was that your first time on a broom, Potter?"

Harry nodded hesitantly.

"He's got the build for a Seeker as well — light and speedy. I'd love to see him after some training what with him being such a natural at it!"

Professor Flitwick looked intrigued.

"I thought you planned on holding tryouts this Saturday?"

Beauregard nodded.

"I was, sir. The team needs a Seeker and two Chasers. I've got my eye on a pair that might do well as Chasers, but there weren't any promising Seekers that I knew of. With Potter, we might have a real shot at the Cup!"

Harry to join the Quidditch team? Harry was shocked. When he had been thinking about petitioning for other sports teams, he hadn't thought about joining the existing ones. He thought the Quidditch teams would be hugely exclusive in their line-up what with how manic wizards were about the sport. He was also a touch disappointed, he had really wanted to be a Beater.

Flitwick stroked his beard in a contemplative manner.

"It would do my heart some good to see Severus and Minerva's faces should Ravenclaw triumph. Those two go at it like cats and dogs over the Cup." He signed suddenly. "Unfortunately, first years are not allowed on the Quidditch teams. Any chance for Ravenclaw's victory will have to wait for next year at the earliest."

"Excuse me, sir," Harry said as Beauregard looked heavily disappointed. "I thought the rule was that first years were not allowed to have their own brooms with them. I don't remember reading anything that said explicitly that they weren't allowed on their House teams."

Beauregard perked and looked hopefully at Professor Flitwick. The professor pulled out a darkly-covered book and flicked through it briskly. Finding the section where rules applied to Quidditch teams were, the short man beamed when he found what he was looking for.

"You're absolutely right, Mr Potter! If you're fine with playing on a school broom, there's no reason at all for you not to be on the team!"

Beauregard's face fell a bit.

"The school brooms aren't exactly in peak condition — some of them are downright dangerous to be on. Surely we could get him a better one?"

"First years are not allowed their own brooms, Mr Beauregard," Flitwick reminded the crest-fallen prefect.

"That's alright," Harry chimed in, his mind churning out potential solutions to the problem. "I don't mind playing on a school broom, surely a few of them a perfectly fine to use. And maybe a better solution will come to us later?"

Harry had a letter to write.

Two nights later at dinner, Headmaster Dumbledore stood to make an announcement, a cheery mien making him glow with delight.

"I'm pleased to announce that earlier this evening, Hogwarts received an anonymous donation of twenty-eight new Nimbus Two Thousand brooms for the use of the House Quidditch teams."

Harry wasn't sure how he kept finding himself in these situations. The thing with the obstacle course was a complete fluke, as was the mess with that cerberus on the third floor. He'd admit that he'd flirted with adventure when his curiosity got the better of him the time with the forbidden corridor, but it wasn't as if he was actively looking for a chance to run for his life when he peeked through that door. What kind of idiot sought out deadly challenges? Certainly not the kind of idiot Harry was.

That didn't change the fact that he was currently gaping like a loon at the sight of a twelve-foot tall monstrosity lumbering its way down the corridor he had just about to turn into like it was out for an evening stroll.

It was Halloween and Harry had awoken from a nap to realise he was late for the Feast. The Feast that was compulsory. Leaping to his feet from the couch he had been sprawled out on, Harry stuffed the essays and worksheets he had finished into his bag and bolted from the quiet nook hidden under the base of a statue of the founders that he had claimed as his study room and den of deceit. Hoping to get to the Great Hall in the quickest way possible, he had made use of a secret stairway built into a pillar that Filch used to catch students unaware while making rounds.

Harry had been barrelling down the staircase, almost flying through the opening that was illusioned to look like a plain wall when armoured green legs the size of three of him stomped by, the ground quivering as it passed. He had fallen backwards onto his rear when he jerked back violently, covering his mouth with both hands instinctively as to not make any noise that could attract the attention of whatever that was.

What the hell was it? Why was it in the school? These were the questions Harry wanted to be answered as well as 'Is that BLOOD on its club?' and 'Oh, my god, oh, my god, why?'

Harry might have decided to camp out the rest of the night in that hidden alcove if it hadn't been for the sharp, girlish shriek that came from the direction that the beast had bumbled. Harry was many things, many of them uncomplimentary, and he wasn't ashamed to say that he was uninterested in risky ventures to the point of being outright slothful, but one thing he wasn't was a coward that let people get hurt right in front of him. Without further thought, Harry sprang from his hiding place and sprinted in the direction of the scream.

Streaking down the corridor, Harry saw a door flung wide open. Sounds of smashing and a student shouting in terror rung out. Wand clenched in hand, he sped through the open doorway.

It was a washroom. Stalls were crushed, wood and porcelain scattered every which way. Sinks were smashed, their pipes spraying water widely. In a dark corner under the last remaining sinks, Hermione Granger was cowering. The whatever it was was snarling, his club ploughing indiscriminately through whatever was in arms reach.

Harry levitated a chunk of porcelain and chucked it at the monster's back. It roared in outraged and began to turn.

"Granger, move!" Harry bellowed, flinging more broken pieces of something. Granger scrabbled to the side, taking shelter underneath an already destroyed stall, hiding out of sight.

The towering creature blinked stupidly with incomprehension at its small opponent before it rushed at Harry. The boy leapt backwards, shooting out a knock-back jinx, but it did no good; the spell might as well have been a breeze for all the good it did. A giant club was swung in his direction from above but he jumped to the side, missing certain death by a hair's breadth.

Club flying up again, Harry darted forward toward the thing, throwing its swing off-balance as it overshot and managing to get behind it. He caught up another piece of debris, a jagged side of wood this time, and sent it soaring with all the strength he had as the beast got itself turned around once more. Howling in pain, the thing staggered backwards as the spike impaled it through its side.

Granger gasped and squealed behind clenched hands but Harry didn't pause long enough to react beyond nailing the thing again with whatever he could get. Its club was flung up from its grasp as it staggered and Harry took the opportunity presented to him.

"Wingardium Leviosa!"

The club was caught mid-fall. Even as it was caterwauling in agony, the beast gaped at his floating club, not understanding how such a thing could happen. Harry jerked his wand down sharply, a satisfying crack cutting off the groans of pain. Without further fuss, the creature slumped to the ground, making the floor shake again with the weight of its fall.

Harry dropped to the ground as well, the relief of still being alive making his knees weak. He slumped against the loo wall and ran a shaking hand through his sweaty hair. The silence that followed was almost deafening.

It was Granger that finally broke the silence. Crawling out from her hiding place, tears still dripping from her face, she stuttered, "Is — is it . . . dead?"

Harry sucked in a breath before releasing it haltingly. He cast a weary eye to the still form not five feet away from them.

"I don't think so," he said. "That stab wound looks bad, but I think it's just unconscious."

Harry climbed to his feet, swaying slightly. He turned to Granger and offered a hand to help her stand.

"Let's go. We should tell the teachers, and I don't want to be here if that thing wakes up again."

Granger had just been eased onto her feet when a sudden slamming and loud footsteps made them jump and look up. They hadn't realised what a racket they had been making, but of course, someone downstairs must have heard the crashes and the troll's roars. A moment later, Professor McGonagall had come bursting into the room, closely followed by Snape, with Quirrell bringing up the rear.

Quirrell took one look at the troll, let out a whimper, and sat quickly down on a toilet, clutching his heart.

Snape immediately bent over the troll, taking it its state. Professor McGonagall was looking incredulously at Granger and Harry. Harry had never seen her look so angry; her lips were white.

"What on earth were you thinking?" said Professor McGonagall, with cold fury in her voice. "You're lucky you weren't killed! Why aren't you two in your dormitories?"

It was apparent to anyone who looked at her that Granger was in no state to answer questions. Seeing no reason not to, Harry said, "Excuse me, ma'am, but why would we need to be in our dormitories now? Isn't it still dinnertime?"

McGonagall's fury cooled to irritated confusion.

"Do you mean to tell me that you weren't in the Great Hall earlier? Where were you, then?"

"I fell asleep after finishing my homework, ma'am. I was in a room down the corridor from Ravenclaw Tower that my friends and I use to study. I saw I was late for the feast so I was going down immediately."

"How did all this happen, then?" Snape asked, his voice sharp and he cast a dark look over the bleeding beast.

"Well, I was coming down a set of stairs I found behind a hidden wall. That thing passed by me but it didn't see me, and I was going to wait until it was gone to go find a teacher, but I heard Granger scream and came running. She was in here, and the room was already pretty smashed up, so I distracted it a bit enough for her to find a better place to hide, and then I just kept flinging whatever I could get at it.

"It didn't react to a knock-back jinx, so I shot it with a plank of wood. It was in enough pain for me to knock it out with its own club, though Granger was a bit worried I might have killed it. Did I kill it, sir?" Harry said, tugging at the hem of his sleeve in worry.

McGonagall and Quirrell both looked to Snape for his answer but the hard-faced man shook his head.

"The pike is in deeply but it's merely unconscious."

McGonagall shook her head in distress.

"And why were you here, Miss Granger?"

Granger looked up miserably, her expression exhausted.

"I — I wasn't at the feast either. I've been feeling poorly since Charms so I've been in here since."

The Transfiguration professor breathed deeply from her nose.

"I don't think I have to tell you how extremely lucky the both of you are to still be alive. Are either of you hurt?"

The two looked to each other but shook their heads.

Harry said, "Granger might have gotten a bit scratched up from ducking under the rubble, but I'm okay beyond being a bit winded."

"I'm fine," Granger assured when McGonagall made to check her over. "A little dirty and wet but alright."

"You will be going to the Hospital Wing for shock treatment all the same. Madam Pomfrey would be furious if she didn't get the chance to look you over herself. Potter, ten points for quick thinking. Another twenty for saving another student from harm. Not many people could take down a fully-grown mountain troll and live to tell the tale! I trust you have things under control here?" The last statement was directed at Professor Snape, still prodding at the now identified troll.

The man in question nodded tersely.

McGonagall nodded jerkily. Ushering the two first-years out, she said, "Very well, then. Off to the Hospital Wing with the both of you."

AN: This story is cross-posted at AO3. Go there if you want a downloadable copy of this story.