It’s funny looking back on the first book and remembering how much simpler Harry’s life was in his first year compared to later on. Alright, Lord Voldemort on the back of a teacher’s head aside…

Bless Harry. Although he definitely had to deal with heavier problems than most 11-year-olds (Muggle, wizard, or otherwise) his issues in Philosopher’s Stone looked pretty adorable in comparison to the stuff he had to deal with in later terms. Here are some of Harry’s cutest problems from his first year, long before the days of Lord Voldemort’s ascent, the rise of Death Eaters and the various future horrors that would devastate the wizarding world. Oh kid, you didn’t know how good you had it.

Worrying about a baby dragon called Norbert

Norbert makes the windows rattle

In Harry’s fourth year, the poor kid had to take on a horrendously huge Hungarian Horntail in his first Triwizard task. In his first year, Harry had to deal with a dragon too, except this one was a bit smaller, and went by the name of Norbert. Yes, thanks to winning a game of cards with some shady stranger at the Hog’s Head, Hagrid acquired the dragon egg that would eventually hatch into a li’l baby Norwegian Ridgeback.

Naturally, he bestowed this completely illegal information on to three 11-year-olds, who had to be the ones to tell Hagrid that having a pet dragon in a wooden house was the worst idea in the world. While Ron suffered a dragon bite that made his hand swell up to a suspiciously large size, it fell on Harry and Hermione to secretly escort Norbert out of the castle and take him (later found to be her) to the safety of Charlie Weasley’s mates. Er, Hagrid, shouldn’t you have sorted this out yourself rather than giving a dragon to a couple of kids?

Regardless, the secret smuggling of Norbert didn’t go to plan; Harry and Hermione were caught by McGonagall, and lost 150 house points for their troubles. Speaking of…

Losing 150 house points

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In Harry’s earlier years, before Voldemort got his groove back, Harry’s main concerns were Quidditch, homework and house points. Oh, and generally coming to terms with the fact he was a wizard, obviously. But after getting caught sneaking around Hogwarts after hours trying to smuggle out the aforementioned secret dragon, Harry, Hermione and Neville (who had been caught up in the mess) collectively lost Gryffindor 150 house points. This made them the disgrace of the school, with Gryffindor students, and even Ravenclaw and Hufflepuffs who were hoping for a non-Slytherin house victory, shunning them. Hermione was naturally distraught.

Sure, house points are fun, and winning the House Cup is cool, but considering this was the same year that Harry would find out that Lord Voldemort was on the back of one of his teachers’ heads, did it matter that much whose house colours were put up in the Great Hall at the end of the school year? Well, those were simpler times.

His ‘midnight duel’ with Malfoy

The Trophy Room

After another run-in with Draco Malfoy, Harry was challenged to a ‘wizard’s duel’ by the snooty Slytherin, with Ron offering to be his ‘second’ (meaning that if Harry died, Ron would take over…). Of course, it was all wizard schoolboy banter and no one died. Malfoy didn’t even turn up. If only Harry had known that years later, he would nearly kill Malfoy with a deadly curse called Sectumsempra. But this duel idea was cute at the time, guys.

Not knowing what you would get if you added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood

JKR Severus Snape illustration

So as you can see, most of Harry’s main problems in his first year were down to him not knowing much about being a wizard, thanks to the Dursleys trying to ‘stamp it out’ of him. Obviously, this wasn’t Harry’s fault, but his Potions professor, a certain Severus Snape, enjoyed taking advantage of his not-so-blissful ignorance during their first Potions lesson together.

‘Potter!’ said Snape suddenly. ‘What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?’
Powdered root of what to an infusion of what? Harry glanced at Ron, who looked as stumped as he was; Hermione’s hand had shot into the air.
‘I don’t know, sir,’ said Harry.
Snape’s lips curled into a sneer.
‘Tut, tut – fame clearly isn’t everything.’
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The class quickly turned into a quick-fire Potions round targeted specifically at Harry, and the questions weren’t even reasonable. What do you get if you add powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood, anyway? Just in case you ever need to know, you get the Draught of Living Death, but still – cheap shot at the poor kid. Of course, if Harry was left shaken by this first encounter, little did he know how complex this particular teacher-student relationship was going to get as the years rolled on.

Ah, the good old innocent days of Hogwarts.

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