The first term that Harry ever spends at Hogwarts comes at the bottom of our rankings, mainly because Harry mostly just has a great time and has the opportunity to enjoy the school of magic. Where do we even begin? Harry meets his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, he gets sorted into Gryffindor, he rides a broomstick for the first time, plays Seeker in his first ever Quidditch match and he’s given the rare and extremely useful Invisibility Cloak. He’s introduced to Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, Defence Against the Dark Arts and much more, as well as plenty of ghosts.
Not to mention he sees his parents faces for the first time reflected in the Mirror of Erised. On the adventure-side, he attempts to duel Draco Malfoy, only to find himself wandering the corridors at night pursued by Filch and coming face to face with a giant three-headed dog. Oh yes, and don’t forget that he, Ron and Hermione take on a twelve-foot mountain troll. Now that’s a house cup-winning first term!
Whilst still on the Hogwarts Express, Harry is invited to the Slug Club, but on leaving tries to spy on Malfoy and ends up getting attacked by him and trapped in a carriage under the Invisibility Cloak. Eeesh! Not a great start. With Snape appointed as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Harry takes Potions and acquires a copy of Advanced Potion-Making belonging to someone called the Half-Blood Prince, which helps him win a bottle of Felix Felicis. Harry begins private lessons with Dumbledore and they travel into memories of Tom Riddle’s childhood, whilst Harry also captains the Gryffindor Quidditch team.
On the way back from a trip to Hogsmeade, Katie Bell is cursed by a necklace and Harry is convinced Malfoy is to blame. On the romance side, Harry tries to quell his feelings for Ginny Weasley, and Ron gets together with Lavender, which causes a rift with Hermione. Harry asks Luna to Slughorn’s Christmas party, whilst Hermione attends with Cormac to annoy Ron. There’s plenty of drama inside the party, but outside of it, Harry overhears a conversation between Snape and Malfoy that makes him even more suspicious of Draco. Harry and Ron spend Christmas at the Burrow, but it is interrupted by the Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour attempting to recruit the Chosen One’s help.
By the time Harry boards the Hogwarts Express in his third year, he already knows that mass-murderer and Azkaban escapee Sirius Black is out to get him. Things get even more grim when Dementors board the Hogwarts Express and Harry passes out with screaming in his ears. On the more light-hearted side, Professor Lupin joins the Hogwarts teaching staff and the third years tackle Boggarts – Neville’s Boggart Snape in his grandmother’s clothes is a real highlight. Within the same term, Sirius Black breaks into Gryffindor Tower and Harry falls off his broomstick in a Quidditch match against Hufflepuff after Dementors come to the game, his Nimbus Two Thousand shattered beyond repair.
Fred and George Weasley give Harry the magnificent Marauder’s Map and he sneaks into Hogsmeade, only to find out that his parents and Black were friends at Hogwarts, he betrayed them as their Secret Keeper and he is also Harry’s godfather. Things seem to be looking up at Christmas when Harry receives a Firebolt as an anonymous present but Hermione tells McGonagall and it’s confiscated almost immediately. What a term!
Harry starts the first term of his second year with an absolutely bang – straight into the Whomping Willow after he and Ron fly a car to Hogwarts. Not long after this he, Ron and Hermione attend Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday party – an adventure in itself – and on the way back to the common room they’re falsely accused by Filch of petrifying Mrs Norris. Throughout the first term the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets grips the school, and Harry becomes the centre of the intrigue after speaking Parseltongue at the disastrous duelling club run by Gilderoy Lockhart.
Let’s not forget that during this term Ron also ends up vomiting slugs, a rogue Bludger breaks Harry’s arm, and Lockhart makes all his bones disappear. This extremely eventful term is topped off with the Golden Trio brewing up Polyjuice Potion in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, and Hermione getting a tail. Phew. What a term!
At the start of term feast in his third year, Dumbledore announces that the Triwizard Tournament will be held at Hogwarts. As if that isn’t enough excitement, the distinguished and terrifying Dark-wizard-catcher, Mad-Eye Moody interrupts the feast by his late arrival – and it isn’t long until he Transfigures Malfoy into a ferret and causes controversy by showing students the Unforgiveable Curses. The delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang arrive and cause quite a stir, but nowhere near as much as Harry does when his names come out of the Goblet of Fire. Harry becomes the fourth champion, and he and Ron fall out until Harry demonstrates just how “not fun” the tournament is when he faces a Hungarian Horntail dragon in the First Task.
Rita Skeeter is already making a nuisance of herself in the first term, along with Hagrid’s Blast-Ended Skrewts. The Weasley twins lighten the mood with their Canary Creams, but things get fraught with the announcement of the Yule Ball. Harry is turned down by Cho Chang, but Hermione surprises everyone by turning up with Viktor Krum, not least Ron…
And top of our rankings is Harry’s first term in his fifth year. The Hogwarts Express journey in Harry’s fifth year has him meeting Luna Lovegood, as well as the Thestrals pulling the carriages up to the castle. At the start of term feast the Sorting Hat sings a new song about division, and Dolores Umbridge makes clear she’ll be meddling at Hogwarts. Umbridge and Harry soon clash when he insists that Lord Voldemort has returned and he has a detention with a quill that cuts ‘I will not tell lies’ into the back of his hand. As Umbridge is made Hogwarts High Inquisitor, Hermione encourages Harry to fight back and Dumbledore’s Army is formed – though group gatherings are banned soon afterwards meaning the meetings must take place in secret in the Room of Requirement. Hedwig is attacked, Fred and George try out their Skiving Snackboxes, and Ron makes it onto the Gryffindor Quidditch team as Keeper, to Slytherin choruses of ‘Weasley is our King’.
Harry has is first kiss with Cho Chang, but continues to be plagued by dreams of long corridors and locked doors, until he sees Arthur Weasley attacked and dreams begin to shade into reality. Dumbledore still won’t look at Harry, and he goes with the Weasleys to Grimmauld Place for Christmas, which includes a visit to St Mungo’s hospital… Now that is a first term to write home about!