17

I am basing this on the assumption that trolls in the Potterverse require at least somewhat regular eating. They are said to have a fondness for human flesh, and presumably creatures of that size don’t just exist on nothing.

When Harry and Hermione get past McGonagall’s protection of the Philosopher’s Stone (the chess set), they are met with Quirrell’s protection, a giant troll (thankfully knocked out).

So if we’re assuming that the troll has been in this dungeon-like place for the entire school year, ever since the Stone was moved there—then who has been feeding it?

The obvious answer would be Quirrell himself, since it was his protection—but that doesn’t add up, for at least three reasons:

  1. Quirrell had to do the whole hooded-stranger-with-a-dragon’s-egg tap-and-dance to figure out how to get past Fluffy, so obviously he wouldn’t have been regularly getting past him to feed the troll.

  2. When Quirrell does get to his troll on his way to the Stone, he injures the flying key charmed by Flitwick—if he’d been down there to feed the troll regularly, he would surely either have bent that key completely out of shape by now, or had a way to get to it more easily and safely.

  3. Quirrell is terrified of trolls, if you base your belief on his reaction to the troll on Halloween, where the mere presence of one in the dungeons is enough to send him fleeing to the Great Hall and faint from, ostensibly, fear. Not the kind of person you’d set to feed a troll in a distant, underground location.

Then again, one may wonder why Quirrell’s (faked) fear of trolls, including the theatrical faint in the Great Hall at Halloween, appears to be accepted by the staff (excluding Snape) to begin with. Presumably at least some of the staff—or at the very least Dumbledore himself—are aware that Quirrell has a ‘gift’ with trolls, and indeed managed to get one even bigger than the Halloween one into this dungeon-like place under the school. This must have happened long before Halloween, and it makes little sense to believe that he has enough bravado with trolls to get one into the protection rooms, but not enough to deal with one in the school dungeons. Either he’s scared witless of them, or he’s good with them.

Is there anything in the Potterverse (even non-canonical) that gives any indication of this?

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    There appear to be two questions here; What was the troll eating / why did the staff thing that Quirrell was genuinely scared about finding a troll in the dungeon? – Valorum Apr 13 '15 at 20:27
  • @Richard You're right, they are really two questions, though they are connected—one grew out of the other while I was typing it out. Let me flesh out the connection a bit more. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 13 '15 at 20:28
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    all it needed was a small table, that had a table mirroring it elsewhere, and the house elves could feed him – Himarm Apr 13 '15 at 20:35
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    "Quirrell is terrified of trolls" - no he isn't. "Certainly. I have a special gift with trolls -- you must have seen what I did to the one in the chamber back there?" - PS, Chapter 17, The man with two faces – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 20 '15 at 15:51
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    @DVK That’s why I added, “if you base your belief on his reaction to the troll on Halloween”. I know full well that Quirrell has a special affinity with trolls (the line you quote is the same one that I quote further down in the question). But that special gift (and the fact that he’s already openly used it to get the troll into the protective chamber) is exactly what contradicts his faked fear of them on Halloween and in general. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 20 '15 at 15:54
14

Regarding the first part of the question, the book "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" notes that trolls are not obligate human carnivores, indeed, they'll eat much anything as long as it's fresh meat;

Trolls eat raw flesh and are not fussy in their prey, which ranges from wild animals to humans.

Under the circumstance, it's reasonable to assume that the Hogwarts Kitchen Elves are providing Quirrell (or even the troll directly) with a ready supply of uncooked meat.


As to why it was believable that Quirrell would be scared of a "troll in the dungeon" can also be found in the same text:

Notable for its equally prodigious strength and stupidity, the troll is often violent and unpredictable.

Hagrid notes that Quirrell has become very jumpy since his return and is even scared of things of which he should be intimately familiar

‘Is he always that nervous?’ ‘Oh, yeah. Poor bloke. Brilliant mind. He was fine while he was studyin’ outta books but then he took a year off ter get some first-hand experience … They say he met vampires in the Black Forest and there was a nasty bit o’ trouble with a hag – never been the same since. Scared of the students, scared of his own subject – now, where’s me umbrella?’

  • I somehow completely neglected to think about the elves who would of course not have to go down there to feed the troll. (Since their magic is of a different branch from human magic, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to assume that the magical protections did not jam or otherwise prevent elven magic.) But I don't think the last bit of your answer holds up. It explains why anyone would be afraid of a troll, but not why Quirrell, who had procured and dealt with an even larger and more dangerous one himself just months earlier, would faint at the mere thought/sight of it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 13 '15 at 20:43
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    @JanusBahsJacquet, who would suspect p-p-poor s-stuttering professor quirrel? And not a great deal suspicious (that if he's scared why'd he bring in a troll as protection) because he's already known to be "scared of his own subject" – Mac Cooper Apr 14 '15 at 7:38
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    @MacCooper My point was more the other way around: if he’s so scared of everything that the presence of a troll downstairs is enough to make him actually faint, then how in the world did he manage to single-handedly capture an even larger one and lure/get it into the protection chamber? Seems to me it would have been a lot smarter of him to just not do the whole scared-of-everything act and simply pretend still to be the same Quirrell he was before his travels. He was quite unsuspicious, too—more so, I’d say, than a DADA teacher who’s scared witless of the dark arts. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 14 '15 at 9:13
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Quirrell could simply have kept up his act while setting up the troll - perhaps by offering several alternatives, or asking for Dumbledores aid, or straight-up refusing until his job was threatened. His peers know that he is at least competent, so if he brings in the troll while faking terror and self-doubt, I think it'd be a way to emphasise the (fake) cowardly aspect of his personality. Also note that having a "gift" with trolls is not a prerequisite for dealing with them; I highly doubt Quirrell ever showed that aspect of his skills to the staff. – DavidS Apr 14 '15 at 9:15
  • Since no other answers seem forthcoming to give a more consistent and satisfactory explanation to Quirrell’s personality, I’m going to accept this answer (and its comments) as being probably as likely as we are ever going to get to a real ‘explanation’. If nothing else, at least the elves do make a perfectly satisfactory explanation to the troll-feeding bit! – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 15 '15 at 11:42
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His first troll could have been younger and fully matured in the school. House elves feed everyone one more huge mouth isn't much to ask of them. as for lack of attention towards his actions on Halloween, he was attempting to make panic, witch works. A huge carnivorous troll is Suddenly in the school. With his past experience with trolls the other teachers might have assumed it to be a massive specimen if he had to openly warn his colleagues of the danger. Snapes was following orders and his gut feelings else he probably would be to. Also think of slughorn, when Ron is poisoned by a spiked bottle, a potions master for decades went blank. I.E. on the spot pressure makes most people fail, even experts. Also Dumbledore states he himself can be blind and make mistakes about people.

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