Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone Read online

Page 13


Chapter 13 Nicholas Flamel

 

  Dumbledore had convinced Harry not to go looking for the Mirror of Erised again, and for the rest of the Christmas holidays the invisibility cloak stayed folded at the bottom of his trunk. Harry wished he could forget what he'd seen in the mirror as easily, but he couldn't. He started having nightmares. Over and over again he dreamed about his parents disappearing in a flash of green light, while a high voice cackled with laughter.

  "You see, Dumbledore was right, that mirror could drive you mad," said Ron, when Harry told him about these dreams.

  Hermione, who came back the day before term started, took a different view of things. She was torn between horror at the idea of Harry being out of bed, roaming the school three nights in a row ("If Filch had caught you!"), and disappointment that he hadn't at least found out who Nicolas Flamel was.

  They had almost given up hope of ever finding Flamel in a library book, even though Harry was still sure he'd read the name somewhere. Once term had started, they were back to skimming through books for ten minutes during their breaks. Harry had even less time than the other two, because Quidditch practice had started again.

  Wood was working the team harder than ever. Even the endless rain that had replaced the snow couldn't dampen his spirits. The Weasleys complained that Wood was becoming a fanatic, but Harry was on Wood's side. If they won their next match, against Hufflepuff, they would overtake Slytherin in the house championship for the first time in seven years. Quite apart from wanting to win, Harry found that he had fewer nightmares when he was tired out after training.

  Then, during one particularly wet and muddy practice session, Wood gave the team a bit of bad news. He'd just gotten very angry with the Weasleys, who kept dive-bombing each other and pretending to fall off their brooms.

  "Will you stop messing around!" he yelled. "That's exactly the sort of thing that'll lose us the match! Snape's refereeing this time, and he'll be looking for any excuse to knock points off Gryffindor!"

  George Weasley really did fall off his broom at these words.

  "Snape's refereeing?" he spluttered through a mouthful of mud. "When's he ever refereed a Quidditch match? He's not going to be fair if we might overtake Slytherin. "

  The rest of the team landed next to George to complain, too.

  "It's not my fault," said Wood. "We've just got to make sure we play a clean game, so Snape hasn't got an excuse to pick on us. "

  Which was all very well, thought Harry, but he had another reason for not wanting Snape near him while he was playing Quidditch. . .

  The rest of the team hung back to talk to one another as usual at the end of practice, but Harry headed straight back to the Gryffindor common room, where he found Ron and Hermione playing chess. Chess was the only thing Hermione ever lost at, something Harry and Ron thought was very good for her.

  "Don't talk to me for a moment," said Ron when Harry sat down next to him, "I need to concen -- " He caught sight of Harry's face.

  "What's the matter with you? You look terrible. "

  Speaking quietly so that no one else would hear, Harry told the other two about Snape's sudden, sinister desire to be a Quidditch referee.

  "Don't play," said Hermione at once.

  "Say you're ill," said Ron.

  "Pretend to break your leg," Hermione suggested.

  "Really break your leg," said Ron.

  "I can't," said Harry. "There isn't a reserve Seeker. If I back out, Gryffindor can't play at all. "

  At that moment Neville toppled into the common room. How he had managed to climb through the portrait hole was anyone's guess, because his legs had been stuck together with what they recognized at once as the Leg-Locker Curse. He must have had to bunny hop all the way up to Gryffindor tower.

  Everyone fell over laughing except Hermione, who leapt up and performed the countercurse. Neville's legs sprang apart and he got to his feet, trembling. "What happened?" Hermione asked him, leading him over to sit with Harry and Ron.

  "Malfoy," said Neville shakily. "I met him outside the library. He said he'd been looking for someone to practice that on. "

  "Go to Professor McGonagall!" Hermione urged Neville. "Report him!"

  Neville shook his head.

  "I don't want more trouble," he mumbled.

  "You've got to stand up to him, Neville!" said Ron. "He's used to walking all over people, but that's no reason to lie down in front of him and make it easier. "

  "There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that," Neville choked out.

  Harry felt in the pocket of his robes and pulled out a Chocolate Frog, the very last one from the box Hermione had given him for Christmas. He gave it to Neville, who looked as though he might cry.

  "You're worth twelve of Malfoy," Harry said. "The Sorting Hat chose you for Gryffindor, didn't it? And where's Malfoy? In stinking Slytherin. "

  Neville's lips twitched in a weak smile as he unwrapped the frog.

  "Thanks, Harry. . . I think I'll go to bed. . . D'you want the card, you collect them, don't you?"

  As Neville walked away, Harry looked at the Famous Wizard card.

  "Dumbledore again," he said, "He was the first one I ever--"

  He gasped. He stared at the back of the card. Then he looked up at Ron and Hermione.

  "I've found him!" he whispered. "I've found Flamel! I told you I'd read the name somewhere before, I read it on the train coming here -- listen to this: '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 work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel'!"

  Hermione jumped to her feet. She hadn't looked so excited since they'd gotten back the marks for their very first piece of homework.

  "Stay there!" she said, and she sprinted up the stairs to the girls' dormitories. Harry and Ron barely had time to exchange mystified looks before she was dashing back, an enormous old book in her arms.

  "I never thought to look in here!" she whispered excitedly. "I got this out of the library weeks ago for a bit of light reading. "

  "Light ?" said Ron, but Hermione told him to be quiet until she'd looked something up, and started flicking frantically through the pages, muttering to herself.

  At last she found what she was looking for.

  "I knew it! I knew it!"

  "Are we allowed to speak yet?" said Ron grumpily. Hermione ignored him.

  "Nicolas Flamel," she whispered dramatically, "is the only known maker of the Sorcerer's Stone!"

  This didn't have quite the effect she'd expected.

  "The what?" said Harry and Ron.

  "Oh, honestly, don't you two read? Look -- read that, there. "

  She pushed the book toward them, and Harry and Ron read:

  The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Sorcerer'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 Sorcerer'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).

  "See?" said Hermione, when Harry and Ron had finished. "The dog must be guarding Flamel's Sorcerer's Stone! I bet he asked Dumbledore to keep it safe for him, because they're friends and he knew someone was after it, that's why he wanted the Stone moved out of Gringotts!"

  "A stone that makes gold and stops you from ever dying!" said Harry. "No wonder Snape's after it! Anyone would want it. "

  "And no wonder we couldn't find Flamel in that Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry," said Ron. "He's not exactly recent if he's six hundred and