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Nicolas Flamel

- Chapter 13
PS13: Nicolas Flamel

Harry learns that Professor Snape will referee the next Quidditch match, Nicolas Flamel is found, Gryffindor wins over Hufflepuff when Harry grabs the Snitch after only five minutes. Harry follows Snape into the Forbidden Forest where he meets Quirrell and they speak of the Philosopher’s Stone.

Calendar and Dates

The action of this chapter covers the time from three days after Christmas through the month of February, and the first half of the chapter takes place on unspecified days. The Quidditch match then falls on Saturday, 22 February.

Interesting facts and notes

for the rest of the Christmas holidays the invisibility cloak stayed folded at the bottom of his trunk

We know that this chapter begins the day after the last chapter, which was the 27th of December.

who came back the day before term started

Presumably, Christmas break would last until after New Year's day. We can't say for sure when Hermione returned, but it would most likely be January 2 or 3, 1992. I realize that it's utterly futile to look at a real calendar of 1992 and guess from that, but I'll do it anyway. In 1992, New Year's Day was on a Wednesday. Hermione would have returned to Hogwarts on Thursday or Friday, the 2nd or 3rd, and classes would resume on the 6th, which would be Monday.

If they won their next match, against Hufflepuff, they would overtake Slytherin in the house championship for the first time in seven years.

Let's analyze this for a moment. What this actually says is that they have not even been ahead of Slytherin in the scoring for seven years. Is Harry referring to seven school years? This seems likely.

Here's a list of the years, with Charlie Weasley's school years added to it:

  • 1991-1992
    Gryffindor will be ahead of Slytherin for the first time in seven years
  • 1990-1991
    the sixth year, Charlie's last year at Hogwarts
  • 1989-1990
    the fifth year, Charlie is a sixth year
  • 1988-1989
    the fourth year, Charlie is a fifth year
  • 1987-1988
    the third year, Charlie is a fourth year
  • 1986-1987
    the second year, Charlie is a third year
  • 1985-1986
    the first year. Charlie is a second year, meaning that this is the first year that he can be on the team
  • 1984-1985
    someone other than Slytherin wins the House Championship

If this is correct, Charlie never won the House Championship. This really doesn't make sense, though, since we're told in PA15:

Gryffindor hadn't won the Quidditch Cup since the legendary Charlie Weasley (Ron's second oldest brother) had been seeker.

One of these passages has to be wrong.

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

Things are definitely not as they seem. Snape actually wants to referee to protect Harry. One can't help but wonder how he convinced Hooch to let him take over that position. On the other hand, Hooch was such an inept referee that in the Slytherin vs. Gryffindor match, she allowed Flint to score five times illegally.

"Really break your leg," said Ron.

Possibly Ron is joking, but on the other hand, since broken bones can be mended in "about a minute," what's the big deal?

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

And yet, when he was in the hospital wing at the end of the year, Gryffindor did indeed play. In book six, we see Harry pulling reserve players from those who tried out but didn't make it, so there's no reason why they couldn't do that here. Harry probably doesn't realize the procedures.

He must have had to bunny hop all the way up to Gryffindor tower...
"Malfoy," said Neville shakily. "I met him outside the library..."

Malfoy cursed Neville outside the library, which is on the fourth floor. Neville had to hop all the way up three floors to the seventh floor. Poor kid.

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

How very wrong Malfoy is. This is the Neville who fought (and was wounded) in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries and the Battle of the Tower, after all. Malfoy, as we will see in a few chapters, ran in terror when faced with dangers in the Forest.

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.

Does Harry know that chocolate has the power to counter misery and depression? Probably not. As it is, Harry instinctively does exactly the right thing for Neville... and exactly the right thing to further the plot of the story.

"You're worth twelve of Malfoy," Harry said.

One of my favorite lines in this book, especially when Neville quotes it back at Malfoy in the stands.

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?"

Neville collects the cards himself by their fifth year. He, Ginny, and Harry swap cards aboard the Hogwarts Express in OP10.

Mr. Flamel, who celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year,

Since the year is currently 1991, this means that Flamel in the Potter mythos was born in 1325 or thereabouts. But does this "old book" show Flamel's age in relative terms like that? Last year compared to what, the year the book was published? That seems highly unlikely. This being the wizarding world, the only logical explanation is that the text changes to be correct no matter when you read it. This would also be true for the note that his wife is currently 658 years old and even for the fact that they live in Devon.

The real Nicolas Flamel, incidentally, was born in approximately 1330 (the exact year is uncertain). He died in 1418.

Nicolas Flamel

enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight).

Devon is in south-west Britain. The Burrow is almost certainly located in Devon. The real Flamel was married to a woman named Perenelle in 1370. She died in 1397.

He's not exactly recent if he's six hundred and sixty-five, is he?"

Well, no, and he's 666 now, not 665.

The idea of overtaking Slytherin in the house championship was wonderful, no one had done it for seven years, but would they be allowed to, with such a biased referee?

Another reference to the fact that Slytherin has won for the past seven years, in spite of the fact that "Gryffindor hadn't won the Quidditch Cup since the legendary Charlie Weasley (Ron's second oldest brother) had been Seeker."

yet he sometimes had the horrible feeling that Snape could read minds

He can, as Harry learns in his fifth year. Whether Snape is actually trying to use Legilimency on Harry in this case is open to debate. There doesn't really seem to be be anything he'd be needing to know from Harry.

Harry knew, when they wished him good luck outside the changing rooms next afternoon...

The House Quidditch games in chapter eleven started at 11 am. In subsequent books she stuck with this time. However, in this one instance she moves the game to later afternoon for no other reason than that she wants Harry to encounter Snape and Quirrell in the forest at dusk right after the match.

Ron and Hermione, meanwhile, had found a place in the stands next to Neville, who couldn't understand why they looked so grim and worried, or why they had both brought their wands to the match.

We've just switched out of Harry's point of view again. With the exception of the previous Quidditch match in chapter eleven, this happens a couple of other times in the series, but every other time we are far away from Harry, either in place or in time. For example, we visit Little Hangleton fifty years ago at the beginning of book four. These are the only times that we actually leave Harry in the middle of "his" story and follow someone else.

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"Now, don't forget, it's Locomotor Mortis," Hermione muttered...

I've always been a bit confused about the etymology of this phrase. It's Latin, of course, but the meaning of the words is problematic. I talked with Clint Hagen of the Lexicon staff, who is a Latin expert, for his take. Here's what he had to say:

I've always thought that one was strange.

locus = place
motor > moveo (4th ppt "motus") = move

(hence "locomotion", "locomotive")

"mortis" is "of death" or (much less often) "of a corpse"

There's the English word "locomotor", which means "One who or something which has locomotive power." (OED) Hence the condition "locomotor ataxy", "inability to co-ordinate the voluntary movements, constitutional unsteadiness in the use of legs, arms, etc."(OED).

I wonder if locomotor mortis would stop other types of movement besides legs? But I guess that's how I read that - it's a "dead-leg", so to speak. Your "locomotor" is dead.

Perhaps that was why Snape was looking so angry as the teams marched onto the field, something that Ron noticed, too.

We're back with Ron and Hermione now. Snape awarded Hufflepuff another penalty for no reason at all...

Can he really get away with this, when championships are on the line?

Up in the air, Snape turned on his broomstick just in time to see something scarlet shoot past him, missing him by inches...

Another point of view, this time Snape's.

"Ron! Ron! Where are you? The game's over! Harry's won! We've won! Gryffindor is in the lead!" shrieked Hermione, dancing up and down on her seat and hugging Parvati Patil in the row in front.

Back to the stands, this time through Hermione's point of view. After all, Ron is a bit busy...

Harry jumped off his broom, a foot from the ground.

And back to Harry.

Harry left the locker room alone some time later, to take his Nimbus Two Thousand back to the broomshed.

So typically a student's own personal broom is stored in the broomshed along with the school brooms. When Harry gets a Firebolt in his third year, he keeps it in his room.

The evening air had never smelled so sweet.

Evening? Yep. This is why Jo changed the time of the she could place Harry out on the lawn at dusk.

He walked over the damp grass, reliving the last hour in his head, which was a happy blur: Gryffindors running to lift him onto their shoulders; Ron and Hermione in the distance, jumping up and down, Ron cheering through a heavy nosebleed.

So the match not only happened in the afternoon, it happened in the very late afternoon. Good thing the match only lasted ten minutes, since an hour after it started, the sun was setting.

Harry had reached the shed. He leaned against the wooden door and looked up at Hogwarts, with its windows glowing red in the setting sun.

So from the broomshed, we can see the sun shining on the windows of the castle. The broomshed must be somewhat to the west, then. When we look at the map Jo drew of Hogwarts and grounds, we see that the pitch is indeed to the north west of the castle.

Harry jumped back on his Nimbus Two Thousand and took off. Gliding silently over the castle he saw Snape enter the forest at a run. He followed.

Harry enters the forbidden forest for the first time here. He doesn't go in very far, but he's definitely in the forest.

"You know perfectly well what I mean."

This passage is cleverly written so that we think we know what Snape means too. We are being hoodwinked, though. The hooting owl is an obvious trick to keep us from hearing something, but the rest of the conversation is very well constructed by Rowling to lead us, along with Harry, to incorrect conclusions.

Fred and George stole some cakes and stuff from the kitchens.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione learn in book four that stealing food from the kitchens isn't really a very big challenge. The house-elves thrust food into your hands the moment they think you want something.

Memorable lines

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.

"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."

Harry and Ron barely had time to exchange mystified looks before [Hermione] 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."

"We won! You won! We won!" shouted Ron, thumping Harry on the back. "And I gave Malfoy a black eye, and Neville tried to take on Crabbe and Goyle single-handed! He's still out cold but Madam Pomfrey says he'll be all right - talk about showing Slytherin!"

Characters Introduced


Related images:

      Hand holding the golden snitch.  This picture shows a quidditch match.    Professor Severus Snape looking at a book. 
Lexicon timeline of Quidditch

Lists on the Lexicon: Quidditch

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Tags: brave discoveries fight friendship Gryffindor-Slytherin rivalry nervous overheard worry

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The Harry Potter Canon