Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone/Recap/C08 The Potions Master

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    Over the next few days, Harry is followed everywhere by whispers and stares. He is somewhat annoyed by the attention.

    Hogwarts turns out to be rather hard to navigate, as it is filled with Malevolent Architecture -- trick doors, staircases with vanishing steps, and rooms that periodically rearrange themselves. (By her own admission, J. K. Rowling was preemptively Hand Waving future instances of Geographic Flexibility. Boy, is this excuse useful for the films.) To continue to speak in video game terms, there are also some "bosses" to avoid. Peeves, the poltergeist introduced in the last chapter, pranks unsuspecting students. Argus Filch, the Crusty Caretaker, is a Child-Hater with a seemingly sentient pet cat named Mrs. Norris. It's mentioned in passing that Filch knows the secret passages of Hogwarts better than anyone, except maybe the Weasley twins. Gee, however do the twins manage that?

    Harry's classes, as we are introduced to them, consist of:

    • Astronomy: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Herbology: Taking care of exotic magical plants in the greenhouse.
    • History of Magic: Taught by Professor Binns, the only ghost teacher, who is an exceptionally boring lecturer.
    • Charms: Taught by Professor Flitwick, a cheerful little man.
    • Transfiguration: Professor McGonagall teaches it and it is one of the harder classes. She is quite a Stern Teacher.
    • Defense Against the Dark Arts: Professor Quirrell comes off as a jittery incompetent. The students don't quite buy his story about how he got his turban.

    On Friday morning, Harry and Ron learn that they have their first Potion class. Hagrid sends Harry an owl, inviting him to tea that afternoon. Harry accepts and sends a reply back with Hedwig.

    The Potions classroom is located in a creepy dungeon. Snape acts sinister and delivers an eloquent speech about how awesome potion-making is, ending with "if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach." He then singles Harry out and begins lobbing hard questions at him. Harry doesn't know any of the answers, of course, and can only repeatedly say that he doesn't know. Snape responds rudely and ignores Hermione's bobbing hand. Incidentally, one of Snape's questions is about bezoars -- they'll be important five books from now. Later in class, Neville screws up his potion and Snape pins the blame on Harry.

    Harry takes Ron with him when he goes to have tea with Hagrid, who lives in a cottage on the school grounds. They're greeted by Fang, Hagrid's Big Friendly Dog. Harry is convinced that Snape really hates him. Hagrid insists that Snape just hates everyone, but Harry gets the feeling that Hagrid isn't telling him something about Snape. Harry picks up a copy of the Daily Prophet and learns that someone broke into Gringotts on his birthday, but "the vault that was searched had in fact been emptied the same day." Harry wonders if the thieves were after the grubby package Hagrid took from vault seven hundred and thirteen.