Harry and his fellow Gryffindors, along with Draco and his fellow Slytherins, attend their first broom-flying lesson, instructed by Madam Hooch. While Madam Hooch is away from the flying field assisting Neville Longbottom (who broke a wrist falling off his broom on his first attempt), Draco steals Neville's Remembrall (a glass ball, the size of a large marble, which helps its owner remember all that she or he has to do). As Draco flies off with the Remembrall, Harry, in righteous anger, flies after him. The class is stunned to see Harry's natural flying ability-as is Professor McGonagall, who takes Harry aside. He thinks she will scold him for his unsupervised flying, but instead she introduces him to Oliver Wood, fifth-year student and captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and suggests to Wood that Harry play the position of Seeker (even though first-year students are not supposed to be allowed to play on Quidditch teams). McGonagall tells Harry that his father would have been proud, for he "was an excellent Quidditch player himself."
Draco challenges Harry to a "wizard's duel." With Ron serving as his "second," Harry-despite protests from Hermione, who then accompanies them-goes to the trophy room for his duel with Malfoy. Malfoy never shows, but the caretaker Filch and his cat Mrs. Norris do, to Harry's dismay. He, Ron, and Hermione elude Filch, but not without causing much commotion. Hermione points out that Malfoy tricked Harry, telling Filch that Harry would be in the trophy room that night after curfew. As they run from Peeves the Poltergeist, who is loudly announcing their transgression, they accidentally enter the forbidden corridor on the third floor, where they find a monstrous, three-headed dog. "They didn't stop running until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady on the seventh floor" to re-enter Gryffindor Tower. Hermione notes that the dog was standing on a trapdoor, and she presumes it is guarding something. As he goes to bed, Harry recalls that Hagrid had called Gringotts "the safest place in the world for something you wanted to hide-except perhaps Hogwarts. It looked as though Harry had found out where the grubby little package from vault seven hundred and thirteen was."
Harry's role on the Gryffindor Quidditch team-"Seeker"-can be taken as symbolic of his role throughout this and successive novels. Harry is seeking the truth: about Lord Voldemort, about his parents, and about his own identity. McGonagall's choice to overlook Harry's misdemeanor in flying class (however justified Harry may have been in pursuing Malfoy) in order to improve Gryffindor House's chances of winning the Quidditch Cup may raise questions for readers about the extent to which the charge often leveled against Harry-namely, that he receives special, preferential treatment because of who he is-is justified. Does such treatment of Harry help or hinder his acclimation to the wizard world? When should rules be "bent," as McGonagall says, and when should they be rigidly enforced? For example, would Harry have been as willing to meet Malfoy's challenge-and, as it happens, fall for Malfoy's trap-had he not already experienced a relaxation of the school rules for his benefit?