Nicolas Flamel (PS)
As per Albus Dumbledore's instructions (PS12), Harry Potter stops looking for the Mirror of Erised. He starts having dreams of Lily and James disappearing in flashes of green light while a high voice cackles. When Hermione Granger retuns from the holidays, she is scandalised at the thought of Harry wandering the school after hours, and disappointed that neither he nor Ron has discovered anything about Nicolas Flamel.
The Trio continues to skim books between classes; Harry does so less than the others, for Quidditch practice sessions are tougher than ever. The stakes are high: if Gryffindor beats Hufflepuff on the next match, they will lead the score in the House Championship for the first time in seven years. The team's moral worsens, however, when Oliver Wood announces that Severus Snape will be refereeing.
George Weasley is stupefied, and points out that Snape has never done so before. Harry is extremely worried, and actually fears for his life; when he mentions the bad news to Ron and Hermione, they immediately suggest that he pretend to be ill on the day of the match. Harry points out that there is no reserve Seeker.
At that moment, Neville Longbottom manages to enter the Gryffindor common room despite being hexed with a Leg-Locker Curse. Hermione performs the counter-curse, and Neville reveals that his state is the handiwork of Draco Malfoy, whom he met outside the library.
The boy refuses to obey Hermione's suggestion that he look for McGonagall, for fear of more trouble. Ron urges him to stand up to Malfoy, to which Neville replies, "There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that."
Harry interferes, giving Neville the last of the Chocolate Frogs that Hermione gave him for Christmas and saying, "You're worth twelve of Malfoy. The Sorting Hat chose you for Gryffindor, didn't it? And where's Malfoy? In stinking Slytherin."
Neville looks like he is about to cry. He announces that he is going to bed, and gives his Famous Wizard card to Harry.
The Philosopher's Stone
Harry almost dismisses the card when he sees that it is Dumbledore, the first one that he obtained (PS6). Just then, however, he notices that the information on the back of the card is where he has last seen a mention to Nicolas Flamel: "Professor Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood and his owk on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel".
Hermione excitedly hurries to the girls' dormitory and returns with a huge book, which she "got [out] of the library weeks ago for a bit of light reading". After searching for a bit, she finds the information she's been looking for:
The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The Stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal. There have been many reports of the Philosopher's Stone over the centuries, but the only Stone currently in existence belongs to Mr. Nicolas Flamel, the noted alchemist and opera-lover. Mr. Flamel, who celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight).
Hermione triumphantly concludes that the three-headed dog is guarding the Stone, and that Flamel asked Dumbledore to store it at Hogwarts because he knows someone is after it. Ron muses that it's logical that they were unable to find anything regarding Flamel in books such as A Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry; the man has been around for too long.
The next morning, while learning how to treat werewolf bites in Defence Against the Dark Arts, the Trio discusses what they would do with the gold, if they could obtain the Stone. Ron says he'd buy his own Quidditch team; Harry then remembers the upcoming match, and decides that he will play.
He grows more nervous as the match draws nearer. Harry starts running into Snape wherever he goes, and wonders whether the Potions master is following him. It doesn't seem possible for him to know that the students have found out about the Stone; but Harry often has the awful feeling that Snape can read minds.
Ron and Hermione sit by Neville at the stands, with their wands ready and visibly nervous, much to Longbottom's puzzlement. The two have been practicing the Leg-Locker Curse in secret, and are ready to use it against Snape if he behaves suspiciously.
Meanwhile, Wood pulls Harry aside to beg him to catch the Snitch before Snape has an oportunity to favour the Hufflepuff Quidditch team too much. Fred Weasley comments that Albus Dumbledore is among the spectators, and Harry is relieved—nothing will happen if the Headmaster himself is in attendance. He wonders whether that's the reason that Snape seems to be in a foul mood.
Draco Malfoy, along with Crabbe and Goyle, runs into Ron and Hermione at the stands. Draco taunts them, offering to take bets regarding how long Harry will manage to stay on his broomstick this time. The pair does not dignify them with an answer: Hermione is observing Harry, and Ron is scowling at Snape, who has just awarded Hufflepuff a penalty because George hit a Bludger in his direction.
Soon afterwards, Hufflepuff is awarded another penalty, for absolutely no reason.
"You know how I think they choose people for the Gryffindor team? It's people they feel sorry for. See, there's Potter, who's got no parents, then there's the Weasleys, who've got no money — you should be on the team, Longbottom, you've got no brains."
Neville blushes, and stammers that he's worth twenty of Draco. Without looking away from the game, Ron says, "You tell him, Neville."
Draco retorts, "Longbottom, if brains were gold you'd be poorer than Weasley, and that's saying something."
Ron is clearly already very tense, and snaps when Draco snarls another insult; the two start wrestling despite Hermione's warning that Harry has obviously seen something. The Gryffindor Seeker dives by Snape, and seconds later holds the Snitch up in triumph. The game is over, after less than five minutes.
Hermione happily hugs Parvati Patil, and the Gryffindors start invading the field in triumph. Snape looks furious, and Harry shudders; suddenly, a hand on his shoulder causes Harry to turn. Dumbledore smiles at him: "Well done," he says quietly. "Nice to see you haven't been brooding about that mirror ... been keeping busy ... excellent ..."
Snape bitterly spits on the ground.
The Gryffindors celebrate; Ron cheers despite his bad nosebleed. Harry goes to the broomshed to store his Nimbus Two Thousand. On the way there, he catches a glimpse of a figure with the familiar prowling walk of Severus Snape heading towards the Forbidden Forest, clearly not wishing to be seen.
Harry resolutely climbs back on his broomstick and speeds forward, hovering in circles above the Forest until he heard voices. He sits on a beech tree, in order to get a clearer view. Two wizards stand in a shadowy clearing: Snape and Quirrell.
"... d-don't know why you wanted t-t-to meet here of all p-places, Severus ..."
"Oh, I thought we'd keep this private. Students aren't supposed to know about the Philosopher's Stone, after all."
Quirrell mutters something.
"Have you found out how to get past that beast of Hagrid's yet?" Snape interrupts him.
"B-b-but Severus, I —"
"You don't want me as your enemy, Quirrell."
"I-I don-t know what you —"
"You know perfectly well what I mean."
An owl hoots loudly, nearly startling Harry into falling. The next thing he hears is the end of Snape's sentence: "— your little bit of hocus pocus. I'm waiting."
"B-but I d-d-don't —"
"Very well. We'll have another little chat soon, when you've had time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie."
Snape leaves, and Quirrell stays rooted to the spot.
Harry returns to the broomshed, and meets Ron and Hermione before he arrives at the Gryffindor Tower. Ron tells him that Neville tried to take on Crabbe and Goyle single-handedly (the boy is now out cold in the hospital wing, but Pomfrey says he'll be fine) and that Ron himself gave Draco a black eye.
Harry pulls the two to an empty room and reveals the conversation he's just overheard.
"So we were right," he says, "it is the Philosopher's Stone, and Snape's trying to force Quirrell to help him get it. He asked if he knew how to get past Fluffy — and he said something about Quirrell's "hocus pocus" — I reckon there are other things guarding the stone apart from Fluffy, loads of enchantments, probably, and Quirrell woul have done some anti-Dark Arts spell which Snape needs to break through —"
"So you mean the Stone's only safe as long as Quirrell stands up to Snape?" Hermione asks.
Ron concludes dismally, "It'll be gone by next Tuesday."
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