Noting that Professor Quirrell is growing paler and thinner, Harry and Ron try to behave toward him in friendly and encouraging ways, assuming that he is all that stands between Snape and the Sorcerer's Stone. They and Hermione meet Hagrid in the library, where the gamekeeper is researching dragons. Hagrid has always wanted to own a dragon, but dragon possession is against wizard law. The students visit Hagrid in his hut and find, however, that he does indeed own a dragon egg-"a Norwegian Ridgeback. They're rare, them." He won the egg playing cards with a stranger. He tells the students that several of the professors-including, to their surprise, Professor Snape-performed enchantments to help protect the Stone. Harry assumes that Snape, having been involved in the Stone's protection, must know ways to steal it. Hagrid assures Harry that only he and Dumbledore know how to get past Fluffy.
One morning at breakfast, Hagrid sends word to his three young friends that the dragon egg is hatching. They visit Hagrid's hut during morning break and see the dragon. Unfortunately, Draco Malfoy-who overheard the students talking about Hagrid's new arrival-also sees the dragon; he spies through the gaps in Hagrid's curtains. Hagrid knows he cannot keep the dragon (whom he has named Norbert), but he also does not feel right setting the creature loose in the wild. Harry suggests that Charlie-Ron's brother, who is studying dragons in Romania-be given care of Norbert. Malfoy, however, manages to discover this news as well. As Harry and Hermione take Norbert, under cover of the Invisibility Cloak, to the tallest tower at Hogwarts one Saturday at midnight, when and where Charlie has arranged to collect the dragon, Malfoy tells Professor McGonagall about their clandestine activity. McGonagall disbelieves Malfoy and gives him detention. Charlie takes Norbert away successfully, but Harry and Hermione leave the Invisibility Cloak at the tower's top, and are met by Filch at its bottom.
Malfoy's antagonism toward Harry reaches its climax in this chapter (for the first novel, at any rate). Rowling displays her adeptness at plot construction by immediately following Harry and Hermione's victory over Malfoy with their apparent defeat when intercepted by Filch. This sudden reversal is characteristic of the heroic quest; in fact, J. R. R. Tolkien, in his analyses of myths and fairy tales, called it the "catastrophe"-the sudden and unexpected turn toward disaster. (Tolkien then went on to coin his own word, "eucatastrophe," to signify the opposite; namely, a sudden and unexpected turn toward good.) Readers should note that this "catastrophe" does not, however, form the climax of the plot as a whole. Fans of the entire series will appreciate the fact that this chapter also reinforces Hagrid's love of magical beasts, thus helping lay the foundation for his role in The Prisoner of Azkaban.