Harry doesn’t search for the Mirror of Erised again, but he starts to have nightmares about “his parents disappearing in a flash of green light” and a strange evil laugh. Then, just before the start of term, Hermione returns. She can’t believe that Harry was out of bed three nights in a row and still didn’t find out who Flamel is. Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to scanning books during their breaks.
Harry attempts to push his desires away, but family is a large pull for him. Fortunately, Harry is provided with a different kind of love and support in Ron and Hermione, who try to redirect Harry back into something more pressing and productive.
Quidditch practice also starts up again, and the team is excited: if the Gryffindors win their next match against Hufflepuff, they’ll overtake Slytherin in the House Championship. Harry trains harder than ever, finding that he has fewer nightmares when he does. However, when Wood reveals during one training session that Snape is refereeing the upcoming match, Harry worries that Snape could try to kill him again.
Harry’s devotion to Quidditch, which gives him a sense of purpose and belonging, also helps alleviate Harry’s longing for his family and the nightmares that consume him as a result.
Later that afternoon, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are in the common room, Neville returns with his legs invisibly bound together by a Leg-Locker Curse that Malfoy had set upon him. Hermione performs the counter-curse, and Ron tells Neville that he has to stand up to Malfoy, but Neville admits that he doesn’t feel “brave enough to be in Gryffindor.” Harry tries to comfort Neville, offering him a Chocolate Frog and saying that Neville is “worth twelve of Malfoy.”
Just as friends have helped Harry with his insecurities, Harry in turn provides support for Neville with his own insecurities: thinking that he’s not brave enough to be in Gryffindor. This moment foreshadows when Neville will be brave enough to stand up to Malfoy in the next chapter, as well as Harry, Ron, and Hermione themselves near the end of the novel.
Neville thanks Harry and gives him the card from the Chocolate Frog, knowing that he collects them. It’s the Dumbledore card again, but Harry notices something: Nicolas Flamel’s name. The card says that Dumbledore worked on alchemy with Nicolas Flamel. Hermione then gets a strike of inspiration: she pulls out a large book that she had checked out a few weeks earlier and reads that Flamel “is the only known maker of the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Here, friendship allows Harry, Ron, and Hermione together to discover who Nicolas Flamel is. Harry’s support for Neville leads him to a key clue about Flamel, which in turn leads Hermione to her own discovery. Thus, only together, through their friendship, is the trio able to continue unraveling the mystery behind what the dog is guarding.
Ron and Harry don’t know what the Sorcerer’s Stone is. Hermione explains that it transforms any metal into gold, and that it also produces the Elixir of Life, which makes the drinker immortal. The Stone currently belongs to Nicolas Flamel, who is 665 years old. They realize that this is what Fluffy must be guarding, and what Snape is trying to steal.
The revelations about what the Sorcerer’s Stone is immediately associate the Stone with power and greed, as it gives the person who has it the ability to defy death (perhaps the ultimate form of power) and gain infinite wealth. Thus, it becomes an immediate attraction to anyone who wants power and greed.
The day of the Quidditch match, Harry feels incredibly anxious. Hermione and Ron have secretly been practicing the Leg-Locker Curse to use on Snape if necessary. To add to the pressure, Wood tells Harry that they need him to catch the Snitch early on in the game—before Snape can favor Hufflepuff too much. Fred notes that the whole school is in the stands, including Dumbledore. This makes Harry feel relieved, as he knows that Snape wouldn’t try to hurt him with Dumbledore there.
It is notable that even when Harry believed that Snape might have tried to kill him at the last game, he still wants to play in this match because without him, his team would have to forfeit. The love of both Ron and Hermione as well as Dumbledore eases Harry’s mind, because he knows that they are there to protect him.
The game begins. Snape awards Hufflepuff early penalties for no reason as Harry looks for the Snitch “like a hawk.” Up in the stands, Malfoy makes fun of Harry, and then of Ron and Neville, who are sitting nearby. Neville stands up, and stutters that he’s “worth twelve of [Malfoy.]” Malfoy continues to taunt him, remarking on his lack of intelligence and Ron’s lack of money. Ron starts to wrestle with Malfoy.
Neville again benefits from the friendship that Harry, Ron, and Hermione have shown him. Their words earlier in the chapter allow Neville to stand up to Malfoy and discover his own form of courage, which also in turn helps him feel that he belongs with the Gryffindors.
Harry then makes a “spectacular dive,” after which he raises the Snitch in triumph. The stands erupt: no one can remember the Snitch being caught so quickly. Dumbledore congratulates Harry, saying it’s nice to see that he’s “keeping busy.” The Gryffindors lift Harry onto their shoulders victoriously, cheering his success. When Harry leaves the locker room alone some time later, he’s happier than he’s ever been. He has done something he can really be proud of, and is not just a famous name anymore.
Dumbledore’s remark that he’s glad Harry has been “keeping busy” is a reference to the Mirror of Erised. Instead, Harry has been pursuing a different, more tangible desire: the desire to prove himself through hard work and to feel that he belongs among the people he loves. It is notable that his success in Quidditch does not fuel any kind of ego; rather, it relieves him because he feels like he has finally done something to justify the fame that has already been afforded to him.
As Harry returns his broom to the broom shed, he notices a hooded figure walking toward the forbidden forest—Snape, sneaking around during dinner. Harry takes off on his broom and follows, climbing into a tree to watch. Snape is there, and so is Quirrell. Snape asks, threateningly, if Quirrell has found out how to get past Hagrid’s dog and get to the Sorcerer’s Stone yet. Snape concludes their conversation by saying that they will have another chat soon, when Quirrell has had time to “decide where [his] loyalties lie.”
Now that Harry has discovered what Fluffy is guarding, he feels even more emboldened to break the rules, knowing that it would be wrong to let someone he believes to be bad (even if that person is a teacher) get their hands on the Stone. Because of the Stone’s association with power, and because of power’s association with evil, Harry understands the importance of keeping it safe.
Harry returns to the castle, and Ron and Hermione meet him, asking where he’s been. They tell him everyone is waiting in the common room to have a party for him. Harry breathlessly tells them that Snape’s trying to steal the Stone, and trying to force Quirrell to help him get to it. They worry that the feeble, stuttering Professor Quirrell is the only thing standing between Snape and the Stone.
Again, Harry shows his humility and self-sacrificing nature. Instead of resting on his laurels and enjoying the party that has been set for him, he worries instead about the future danger that could be headed their way if Snape gets his hands on the Sorcerer’s Stone, and how they can work to prevent that outcome.