Christmas was coming. One morning in mid-December, Hogwarts woke to find itself covered in several feet of snow. The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban.
Now that, I would have liked to have seen!
No one could wait for the holidays to start. While the Gryffindor common room and the Great Hall had roaring fires, the drafty corridors had become icy and a bitter wind rattled the windows in the classrooms. Worst of all were Professor Snape’s classes down in the dungeons, where their breath rose in a mist before them and they kept as close as possible to their hot cauldrons.
This definitely got missed in the film; the idea that Hogwarts was a cold place to be unless you were in a room with a fireplace. No central heating, I guess. Hermoine used simple magic to create fires that could be carried around, why couldn’t this have been done throughout the castle? Or was there another purpose in keeping it as dank as it sounds?
Draco is still sending barbs Harry’s way, and as Christmas is approaching, that means needling Harry about not having a family to go home to at Christmas. The problem is, Harry is happy to be staying at Hogwarts and not have to go back to the Dursleys. The Weasley boys are all staying as well. Draco manages to bait Ron into a fight, just as Snape sees him. Even with Hagrid sticking up for Ron, it costs Gryffindor points.
“The library?” said Hagrid, following them out of the hall. “Just before the holidays? Bit keen, aren’t yeh?”
“Oh, we’re not working,” Harry told him brightly. “Ever since you mentioned Nicolas Flamel we’ve been trying to find out who he is.”
“You what?” Hagrid looked shocked. “Listen here — I’ve told yeh — drop it. It’s nothin’ to you what that dog’s guardin’.”
“We just want to know who Nicolas Flamel is, that’s all,” said Hermione.
“Unless you’d like to tell us and save us the trouble?” Harry added. “We must’ve been through hundreds of books already and we can’t find him anywhere — just give us a hint — I know I’ve read his name somewhere.”
“I’m sayin’ nothin’, said Hagrid flatly.
“Just have to find out for ourselves, then.” said Ron, and they left Hagrid looking disgruntled and hurried off to the library.
This exchange is missing from the film, and it shows that Hagrid was well aware of their continued curiosity about what was going on.
Harry wandered over to the Restricted Section. He had been wondering for a while if Flamel wasn’t somewhere in there.
Unfortunately, you needed a specially signed note from one of the teachers to look in any of the restricted books, and he knew he’d never get one. These were the books containing powerful Dark Magic never taught at Hogwarts, and only read by older students studying advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Good details are given about the Restricted Section. The films let us know that it is there, but not why it is there. If the books are generally off-limits, why would you have them in a school library? There is a purpose for some of the more advanced students.
Once the holidays had started, Ron and Harry were having too good a time to think much about Flamel. They had the dormitory to themselves and the common room was far emptier than usual, so they were able to get the good armchairs by the fire. They sat by the hour eating anything they could spear on a toasting fork — bread, English muffins, marshmallows — and plotting ways of getting Malfoy expelled, which were fun to talk about even if they wouldn’t work.
Again, it’s a lot of kids just being kids at Hogwarts, which I am enjoying very much. Ron and Harry pass the time playing Wizards Chess, which is new to Harry. The chess pieces shout directions at him, which is very confusing for him.
On Christmas Eve, Harry went to bed looking forward to the next day for the food and the fun, but not expecting any presents at all. When he woke early in the morning, however, the first thing he saw was a small pile of packages at the foot of his bed.
This scene plays out a lot the same in the film, except there is a gift from Hagrid, a small gift from the Dursleys (fifty pence) as well as a small gift from Hermoine. Everyone seems to be trying to make sure Harry gets something, and Harry is quite pleased. When he sees the invisibility cloak, he notes that he hasn’t seen the writing before that’s on the note. This seems to indicate it couldn’t be from any of the professors at the school (my original theory was McGonagall).
Harry enjoys the morning with all of the Weasley brothers in the Gryffindor common room. When they sit down to Christmas dinner, there are Wizard crackers all along the table. Harry has a good time with them as they explode much more forcefully than regular Christmas crackers do.
When Harry finally left the table, he was laden down with a stack of things out of the crackers, including a pack of nonexplodable, luminous balloons, a Grow-Your-Own-Warts kit, and his own new wizard chess set. The white mice had disappeared and Harry had a nasty feeling they were going to end up as Mrs. Norris’s Christmas dinner.
After an afternoon of fun, including snowball fights, Harry is lying awake while Ron is sleeping, and decides to try out the invisibility cloak. This plays out the same way as in the film, with only a few details missing as Harry tries to find a book about Nicolas Flamel in the Restricted Section. When he ends up in the room with the Mirror of Erised, he sees a while crowd of people standing with his parents; his ancestors. Of course he didn’t know what any of the Potters looked like, but you would have thought he’d seen some pictures of his mother’s family at his Aunt’s home.
Harry couldn’t eat. He had seen his parents and would be seeing them again tonight. He had almost forgotten about Flamel. It didn’t seem very important anymore. Who cared what the three headed dog was guarding? What did it matter if Snape stole it, really?
There is the real magic of the Mirror of Erised. Harry would get so lost in what it showed him that he would lose interest in anything else in life. Dumbledore tells Harry the same thing, essentially, in the movie, but it’s made clearer here in the book. He brings Ron to the mirror the following night, and Ron sees himself in it the way it’s depicted in the film. For Harry, the mirror has a much stronger pull, and Ron worries about him getting caught if he goes to it again.
“So — back again, Harry?”
Harry felt as though his insides had turned to ice. He looked behind him. Sitting on one of the desks by the wall was none other than Albus Dumbledore. Harry must have walked straight past him, so desperate to get to the mirror he hadn’t noticed him.
“I — I didn’t see you, sir.”
“Strange how nearsighted being invisible can make you,” said Dumbledore, and Harry was relieved to see that he was smiling.
Dumbledore also knows that Ron was there and what he saw.
“I don’t need a cloak to become invisible,” said Dumbledore gently. “Now, can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?”
Dumbledore apparently has some magical talent we aren’t aware of just yet.
“Sir — Professor Dumbledore? Can I ask you something?”
“Obviously, you’ve just done so,” Dumbledore smiled. “You may ask me one more thing, however.”
“What do you see when you look in the mirror?”
“I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.”
“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”
This is a great chapter and most of what’s important made it into the film. I do appreciate some of the details, though, that are missing and think it makes for a far richer story and develops the characters more.
Previous chapter (link): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone Chapter 11: Quidditch
Next chapter (link): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone Chapter 13: Nicholas Flamel