Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Chapter Thirteen
Iiiiiiiiiit’s Saturday night! And you know what that means: while I recline under my couch-duvet with my cat and my partner and lightly snark on a Supernatural rewatch, I’m going to have a poke at the next chapter of Harry Potter and drink this large cup of chamomile tea and try not to let my cat spill it on me because she’s a bitch like that.
Anyway, we’re on the thirteenth chapter of Philosopher’s Stone (here’s where we left off last time), and we only have a few weeks left before it’s all over! I’m already looking for my next project, so if you have any ideas for books you’d like me to pick over for your reading pleasure, do let me know! We kick off this chapter with everyone returning from Christmas break, and Hermione hearing about Harry’s venturing into the Forbidden section at the library:
“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.”
Disappointment and anger: the only way to react to boys to keep them in line. Harry returns to Quidditch training, where Oliver Wood reveals that Snape will be refereeing their next match, much to Harry’s horror. This line has little to do with anything, but I’m going to put it in anyway because ugggh:
“Chess was the only thing Hermione ever lost at, something Harry and Ron thought was very good for her.”
GOD forbid Hermione SUCCEED conSISTENTLY. They saved her from a troll, aren’t they happy that she’s been humiliated enough? Anyway, Hermione and Ron offer some friendly advice on how to get out of the match:
““Pretend to break your leg,” Hermione suggested.
“Really break your leg,” said Ron.”
I will break his leg for him if he continues to suggest that Hermione needs to lose at things for her own “good”. Sorry, sorry, moving on. Neville arrives in the Gyffindor common room, after a long wait:
“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.”
Hermione: the only one who gives a shit about my adopted son and forever my bitch and queen. Neville reveals that Malfoy performed the curse on him. Harry gives Neville a chocolate frog to cheer him up, and Neville gives him the collectable card inside – it’s a Dumbledore special, which reveals that Nicholas Flamel is actually Dumbledore’s old alchemy partner.
“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.”
Honestly, distressingly relatable. I freelance for a living, and I get excited to read feedback from clients. Anyway, Hermione figures out that the Philosopher’s stone was made by Dumbledore and Flamel and is now under the guardianship of the three-headed dog in Hogwarts. It’s a bit of a clunky reveal, with the characters reading straight from a book that Hermione just happened to have on her, but we needed to get there for the plot to move forward so I’ll let it slide. Anyway, Harry has the crucial Quidditch match refereed by Snape on hand, so let’s get to that.
Hermione and Ron retreat to the stands, posed to take a swipe at Snape should he start pulling some shady shit, and Malfoy turns up to offer some light insults about how the Gryffindor house picks students for the Quidditch 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.”
You know,, you can make a lot of criticisms about the notions that Harry Potter as a series puts forward, but I really like the strenuous villainy of classism that’s depicted over the course of the series. Malfoy’s bad-guy-ness really comes from his inability to accept the worth of people of lower social or economic standing than himself, and while it’s not something that’s totally new for children’s literature – the rich bitch is hardly revolutionary – but combined with the pureblood commentary later in the series, it’s a solid throughline.
Anyway, Harry catches the Snitchin record time. He celebrates with the rest of the Gryffindor house, but notices that Snape has snuck off to the Forbidden Forest – with none other than professor Quirrel. Snape is threatening Quirrel and seems to be ordering him to get ahold of the Philosopher’s Stone. Quirrel reveals that he needs more time:
““Very well,” Snape cut in. “We’ll have another little chat soon, when you’ve had time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie.””
Now, Snape as a double agent (or a triple one, or whatever) is a recurring theme over the course of the books, and I suppose that so much of this series has been absorbed into the cultural hivemind that this almost feels hackneyed because we just know this debate so well. But, taking this story as a piece on its own, this is actually a pretty well-seeded plot point: the book has built up a lot of doubt around Snape but enough faith to make you second-guess that doubt, and that’s a complex juggling of villainy-anti-villainy to take on in a debut book.
Harry returns to Ron and Hermione, and lets them know what he overheard:
“So you mean the Stone’s only safe as long as Quirrell stands up to Snape?” said Hermione in alarm.
“It’ll be gone by next Tuesday,” said Ron.”
And with that grim spectre of doom hanging over us, the chapter closes out. This was a kind of oddly-paced, functional one, but from here on in all the pieces are in place and we’re into the third act, so strap in for the final hairpin turns – and let me know if there are any other books you want me to take a punt at for my next project.
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