The Midnight Duel

chapter nine of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The first years’ flying lessons end dramatically when Harry confronts Malfoy in mid-air and, instead of being punished, is spotted by McGonagall and placed on the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Seeking revenge, Malfoy then lures Harry and Ron to the trophy room at midnight – and when Filch arrives instead, they run away and discover a three-headed dog in the forbidden corridor.

by Laura Freeman

No sooner were they out of earshot than Malfoy burst into laughter. “Did you see his face, the great lump?”


The Midnight Duel, by Keith James

“Give that here, Malfoy,” said Harry quietly. Everyone stopped talking to watch.


Harry v Draco, by NicoPony

“Give it here,” Harry called, “or I’ll knock you off that broom!” Harry knew, somehow, what to do. He leaned forward and grasped the broom tightly in both hands, and it shot toward Malfoy like a javelin.


Gryffindor's New Seeker, by Mudblood428

Professor McGonagall… suddenly smiled. “Your father would have been proud,” she said. “He was an excellent Quidditch player himself.”


Draco Malfoy, by Laura Freeman

“I’d take you anytime on my own,” said Malfoy. “Tonight, if you want. Wizard’s duel.”


Ron and Hermione first year, by Cambryn

“Don’t you care about Gryffindor, do you only care about yourselves, I don’t want Slytherin to win the house cup, and you’ll lose all the points I got from Professor McGonagall for knowing about Switching Spells.”

(by Cambryn)


Midnight Duel, by Hala Zabaneh

Harry hissed at her to be quiet and beckoned them all foward. They flitted along corridors… at every turn Harry expected to run into Filch or Mrs. Norris….


Halloweenish Filch, by salamandersoup

It was Filch speaking to Mrs. Norris. “Sniff around, my sweet, they might be lurking in a corner.”


Midnight Duel, by MioneBookworm

They weren’t in a room, as he had supposed. They were in a corridor. The forbidden corridor on the third floor.


Fluffy, by Laurence Peguy

And now they knew why it was forbidden.


about the chapter


The Wizarding World

In this chapter Hermione introduces us to the Alohomora charm for unlocking doors. It’s one I’ve always wondered about. If it’s basic enough for a first year to adequately perform, then why (aside from keeping out small children or Muggles) would wizards ever lock their doors in the first place? We’ll see a large number of locked doors over the years that can be unsealed with this simple spell. The only way I can make sense of it is to think of it as a social cue – it’s just accepted among wizards that one doesn’t unlock a locked door, even if you can. But it’s hard for me to imagine that other students wouldn’t have explored this forbidden corridor if this spell, and Dumbledore’s cryptic warning, are the only things keeping them out.

Life at Hogwarts

At first glance it seems funny that Neville was in the hospital wing late enough to get stuck in the hallway – after all, flying lessons were at 3:30 in the afternoon and he says Madam Pomfrey mended his broken wrist in “about a minute.” But we’ll see over and over with Madam Pomfrey that even after her patients are completely healed (at least physically), she almost always prescribes rest. It’s never really explained, but it seems that somehow the healing process for a witch or wizard takes longer than the few seconds it takes to place their bones back in the right order.

The Boy Who Lived

The morning after he found out he was a wizard, Harry woke up with the feeling that it had all been just a dream, too good to be true. It’s a feeling that he seems to have a hard time shaking for most of the year, as he spends a lot of time worrying that he might be expelled at any minute. To be fair, part of this is probably due to Hagrid’s expulsion, for which Harry has no adequate explanation (Hagrid seems like a decent guy…), and the casual way in which teachers like Hooch throw around the suggestion. But more than that, it’s probably just Harry adjusting to his new life, and getting used to the idea that this is where he really belongs. It will take him a while, but in time Harry will learn that he is exactly where he belongs – both in the wizarding world and in this unique moment in its history.

Something to Remember

Teasing out differences between Crabbe and Goyle is difficult (though fun, if you’re into that sort of thing. Okay, it’s just me). Anyway, here we get our first inkling that they’re not entirely interchangeable – given a choice between them as his second in a duel, Malfoy picks Crabbe. It won’t be the last time we see something that makes me suspect Crabbe may be the more powerful of the two.

The Final Word

“Once ever in the four books that are published I’ve sat down written something beginning to end and let it stand and that was in the chapter in the Philosopher’s Stone where Harry learns to fly. I remember vividly the afternoon, my daughter fell asleep I ran into the café on a beautifully sunny day, I sat down and I wrote that chapter from beginning to end and I think I changed two words and that’s very unusual for me.
–J.K. Rowling, July 2000

27 Responses to “The Midnight Duel”

  1. The picture of Filch is bloody terrifying. Just horrific. But extremely accuracte.

  2. Neville could just be there that late because he fogot his way back

  3. re: “Alohomora.” We see throughout the books that just because a spell exists, doesn’t mean that wizards and witches can do it. People seem to have their specialties. Hermione can do things others can’t. However, one expects that upperclassmen and teachers would be able to do “Alohomora” also. That must be why Dumbledore puts extra boundaries around Hogwarts in “Half=blood Prince,” and why apparition doesn’t work in Hogwarts. It’s too easy for wizards and witches to get in places, and hard for them to keep places secure.

  4. It does seem strange that Fred and George never got into the 3rd floor corridor if Alohomora is all it takes to open the door.

    I always assumed Neville got lost as well, but I like the Madam Pmfrey theory much better. After all, he would have been very upset, embarassed and shaken even after his wrist was healed, so Pomfrey would almost certainly have kept him there for a while.

    Something I always notice in this chapter is when Pansy says “Never thought you’d like fat little crybabies, Parvati.” (emphasis on “you’d). I think it implies that they knew eachother before Hogwarts.

  5. palantiriel, that’s an interesting point about Pansy – it’s certainly curious that she would say something like that to a fellow student she’s only known (and not well) for a week and a half. Maybe they met and talked on the Hogwarts Express?

    Of course it’s also possible Rowling just screwed this up. A few pages later Draco tells Harry and Ron that the trophy room is “always” unlocked, and I have no idea how he’d know that in his second week either….

  6. Perhaps Lucius Malfoy told Draco it waa always open? Although that does seem a strange thing to tell your son…
    And yes, I’ve always wondered that about Pansy.

  7. Pansy Parkinson is a notorious taunter. It’s basically what she lives to do it seems. This taunt to Parvati could have , in fact, been a backhanded compliment since we know the Patil twins are the best looking in their year, or are according to Seamus anyhow . She implies that Parvati is ‘slumming it’ when she could so obviously ‘do better’.

  8. Did anybody realize the irony of Fluffy being the guard here? He is based on Cerebrus, guardian of the Underworld in ancient mythologies. Yet here he is guarding something that gives eternal life. Coincidence?

  9. I wonder if the Fat Lady left her portrait after Harry, Ron, and Hermione exited the common room to inform Dumbledore that Harry was wandering around. And thus he learned they saw Fluffy. She sounds like one of the sources Dumbledore may have used to monitor Harry’s first year at Hogwarts.

    And from this chapter, I figured Parvati and Pansy grew up near each other, though Grrreg’s idea sounds possible too! Wish JKR would comment on this site and answer these theories! :D

  10. No, Sean, it’s probably not a coincidence. That’s awesome, I never thought of it that way. Thanks.

  11. I appreciate Keith James’s picture, not only for its richness of detail, but because he has bravely tackled the subject of the two unnamed Griffindor girls in Harry’s year.

  12. I also read Pansy Parkinson’s comment in the same manner as grrreg. Parvati is pretty and popular, and Pansy is astounded that someone with all that going for them would jeopardize her social credit to stand up for Neville. This also highlights again the differences between Slytherin and Gryffindor. Pansy as a Slytherin will taunt whoever necessary in order to build her status with the in-crowd, but Parvati as a Gryffindor isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right.

    I also love how Rowling establishes Hermione as a voice of reason right from the trio’s first adventure together. Although she comes across to us at first only as a bossy know-it-all, Hermione is right when she realizes that Malfoy has tricked Harry into going to the trophy room where he should be caught by Filch. Harry knows deep down she is right, even if he won’t admit it to her. This event foreshadows Hermione also being right about Harry being lured to the Ministry of Magic by Voldemort in Order of the Phoenix, and about the potential danger of journeying to Goderic’s Hollow in Deathly Hallows. Don’t we all wish that Harry would listen to Hermione more often… even if she can be a bit of a nag?

    Perhaps in further bit of foreshadowing (potentially to emphasize the future importance of his character), Harry, Ron and Hermione are accompanied on their first adventure oddly enough by Neville… who of course also joins them on the mission to the Department of Mysteries and in the final battle at Hogwarts.

  13. Did McGonagall teach Harry’s parents and the rest of the Marauders? She seems old, but not that much older than Snape…she couldn’t have gone to Hogwarts with them…could she?

  14. yraM, McGonagall did teach James and Lily – she says in OP15 that she has been teaching at Hogwarts 39 years as of December 1995, so she would have started there in 1956. James and Lily were born in 1960, according to DH.

    McGonagall also talks about having taught James, Sirius, and Pettigrew in the Three Broomsticks in PA10.

  15. In response to palanteriels comment about Fred and george, I think it would b really untwin like not to check put the locked room. Can’t you just see them sneaking in there with lee and seeing fluffy? They obviously didn’t get any farther but I wonder how Harry wouldn’t have heard them bragging about their encounter with fluffy in te commen room?

  16. It always Seemed strange that they were so desperate to protect the stone that they put that much protection around the stone that people could die trying to get it. And yet later in the series (even later that same book in the room with the flying keys) they showed spells that stop alohomora from working. But they did not put that spell on the door that leads to Fluffy.

  17. there was only one protection for the stone which was also not there always-the mirror of erised.
    if 3 1st yearers had got, why not anyone else?

  18. Ah Andrea… You made a little sad there. You’re right. When it comes to Hermione, she’s usually right. If Harry had listened to her Sirius would still be alive. He was my favorite character besides Snape at the time. I think they never listen to Hermione cuz y’know… MEN. Hermione has those finely honed instincts and she thinks things through a lot more than they do. To me she’s one of the most dangerous characters out the because she’s powerful and she’s SMART. Not just in the book sense that everyone assumes. Honestly, if she wasn’t so afraid of Harry half the time she would have had him well under control and a LOT of things would have turned out different.

  19. I agree that Hermione is a very smart witch, but, to be fair, there are times when she needs to open her mind a bit and listen to Harry! Think about DH and Harry’s looking into Voldy’s mind!! She should have thought about what he was seeing instead of trying to stop him from seeing.

  20. Someone, I don’t remember who had written a blog rant about this particular chapter, right at the beginning considering both Ron and Draco’s comments on flying – Draco, who has been flying for years and was narrowly missed by a Helicoptor and Ron who almost hit someone in a Hang glider.
    They argued that comments like these make the books shallow and not make sense, I wish i’d found this sight for them because you find the nuances of the book so well but the Author of that book had brought that section to my attention and I replied with; The book is written from Harry’s point of view, he grew up with muggles and knows what those two things are, since we don’t get a look at the situation in which the two were bragging about this feats, I just assumed Harry would have filled in the blanks from s description, especially from Draco because with Mr Weasley’s muggle obssession it’s quite possible that Ron would know and could even be considered a precursor to finding out about his muggle obession and if Draco actually did know what the Helicoptor was it begs the question; How? Curiosity rather than full on hate or Mr Malfoy teaching him to know his enemies?

  21. HentaiTenshi,

    I believe a lot of what holds Hermione back from trying to keep Harry under control is her extremely deep loyalty and respect toward him. Sure, she could probably out-duel him, or talk him into staying put if she really wanted to, but she also wants him to know that she will always stand by him, no matter what the cost. I think she knows that he’s going to do what he feels he needs to do, no matter what anyone says, and she isn’t about to abandon him when she could help and be there for him when he needs her. It all comes down to her connection with Harry and Ron, and that even though her common sense tells her otherwise, she’s ready to jump into any battle and face any danger alongside them. It’s really a huge part of what makes her a Gryffindor, wouldn’t you think?

  22. I love the fact that we see the brave Parvarti, who deserves to be in Gryffindor in this chapter. Most of the time I tend to think of her as just Lavenders gigglish side-kick.

  23. In regards to the door to the third floor corridor being too easy to open. Well we know that Dumbledore likes to let Harry discover things for himself. We also know that Dumbledore doesn’t need a cloak to become invisible. In my mind, Dumbledore lifted the enchantments on the door that night so Harry et al could get through and spark Harry’s curiosity. How did Dumbledore know that they were out that night? Well Roonil Wazlib answered that question. The Fat Lady left her portrait to inform Dumbledore Harry had taken a midnight stroll. Once they had left Fluffy, Dumbledore then reinstalled the enchantments. When it comes to the trio going through the trapdoor, Quirrell broke the enchantments on the door but didn’t know how to reinstall them so just casts the simple door locking spell leaving the trio capable of getting through.

    I also would bet that Dumbledore visited Hagrid the day before Harry and Ron in the previous chapter and took the newspaper cutting about the break in. He showed it to Hagrid (saying something like ‘if it wasn’t for you it would have been stolen, thank you’ etc) and ‘accidentally’ left it on Hagrid’s table. Whilst he was there he suggested that Hagrid invite Harry for tea. The next morning Harry receives the invite, visits Hagrid and sees the newspaper cutting. Just as Dumbledore had planned. He then makes it possible for Harry to see Fluffy and connect the dots. I think it would be fascinating to read the series from Dumbledore’s point of view.

    As a side note, I’m just watching J. K. Rowling on “Who Do You Think You Are?” and I’m tearing up a little along with her.

  24. I’m not sure if this has been asked or answered elsewhere on this site, but I’ve been wondering what happened to the first-years’ (or any other years’, come to that) flying lessons after this chapter. True, we only see things from Harry’s point of view, and he becomes part of the Gryffindor team right away, but flying lessons aren’t ever mentioned again that I’ve noticed – only Quidditch practice and matches. So is it only those who make it onto a Quidditch team who do any kind of sport at Hogwarts? Flying lessons just seem to disappear off the radar once Harry makes the team. Maybe I haven’t read this book thoroughly enough, but I’ve never worked out or heard an answer to this one. From what you say in your synopsis right at the top Josie, it sounds like the first-years maybe aren’t allowed any more lessons after this because of what happened with Harry and Draco – is that right?

  25. Palantiriel, I’ve often wondered about that Pansy-Parvati stuff too. It does seem like Pansy already knows Parvati well enough, considering that she was on a first-name basis with the latter. Weirdly enough, because doesn’t Pansy call other Gryffindors by their surnames?

    Funny how Neville leaves with only a broken wrist after his flying mishap… and I thought he just fell over twenty feet. Seriously, that’s pretty high. But I suppose, aren’t wizards more resilient than Muggles?

  26. Re Fat Lady being a snitch (albeit, for the good guys), Can’t find it right now but I remember in another book where Harry was under the invisibility cloak and waited for someone to enter before leaving the common room . Harry may have be onto her ways.

  27. I like the idea of The Fat Lady being a ‘spy’ for Dumbledore.. And I agree, it’s really odd if no other student had ever ventured to the 3rd floor corridor, especially the twins.. Even if they didn’t think it’s important enough for them to explore, wouldn’t the corridor can be seen in the Marauder’s Map? and, if it can, but they think it’s just another corridor, wouldn’t Fluffy has his(or her?) own spot?

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