Prior Incantato: In Harry Potter, a spell that can reveal the last spell performed by a particular wand. In other words — magic revisited.

Harry Potter

And we’re back! This week we tackle the next three chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which gives us our awesome first game of Quidditch, trolls, tricks and leviosas. At the end of Part 3, Harry had just been sorted into Gryffindor, where he found out that Snape hated him and all was not quite what it seemed at Hogwarts. What mysteries will he stumble upon next?

Chapter Nine: The Midnight Duel

One of the primary themes of this book, as I’ve mentioned before, is the idea that love is the greatest magic of all. So of course it only stands to reason that one of the first lessons Harry learns at Hogwarts is how to hate Draco Malfoy and his stupid blond face. Harry is not too pleased to learn that the one class he was really looking forward to, flying lessons, is going to be with Malfoy and the Slytherins. Which sounds like an awesome band name.

When they’re not listening to Draco talk about how he outruns helicopters on his broom, the rest of the gang is busy getting pumped for Quidditch season. Ron and Dean Thomas have a Quidditch Vs Soccer argument, and as always, soccer gets the short end of that stick. Ron can’t see what’s so exciting about a sport where nobody is allowed to fly… or anything else about soccer, I’m guessing.

Madam Hooch (doing my best not to comment on that name) shows up to start the flying lessons, and we learn that Draco is a bad mounter. Again, withholding comment. After everyone barely gets up in the air, Neville pulls a Gimli and tumbles straight off of his broom. Madam Turner and Hooch quickly takes him up to Madam Pomfrey to take care of his injuries. Leaving Malfoy to take Neville’s Remembrall.

And now we get our first true showdown between Harry and Malfoy, the first of many. It turns out that Harry is a natural at flying, something which gives Draco pause as he considers squaring off against the Boy Who Lived. Malfoy launches the Remembrall, and Harry must have pulled off a spectacular catch, because Professor McGonagall immediately wants to put him on the varsity squad when she sees it.

Assuming he’s in trouble, Harry is lead to meet Captain Wood of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. I admit, I laughed when Harry assumed “Wood” was in reference to McGonagall’s beating stick, which she was going to use to punish him. Much to his surprise, Harry is put on the Quidditch team — and learns that his dad was a Quidditch player as well.

Once he finds out that this is not in fact a weird magical equivalent to the movie Rudy and McGonagall didn’t just put Harry on the team because she feels sorry for him, Harry enjoys the fact that he’s the youngest Seeker in over a century. Furious that Harry isn’t in more trouble, Malfoy shows up to get his “oh snap” game going, and soon enough, everyone has agreed to a nice and friendly Wizard Duel to the death. At midnight. Seems appropriate enough.

Hermione lectures Harry about breaking the rules, but he doesn’t care, because he’s Harry mother-effing Potter, and he does what he wants like a wizard boss. Harry and Ron’s scheme of sneaking out into Hogwarts to fight Malfoy backfires when both Hermione and Neville get locked outside of the Gryffindor common room with them. It’s a way bigger posse than they’re supposed to bring, but that’s how Harry rolls. Don’t bring a quill to a wand fight.

As it turns out, Malfoy has totally Admiral Ackbar’ed the gang. They only realize that the Wizard Duel is no moon when it’s almost too late, and Filch is on the verge of catching them. They all run and hide on the forbidden floor, and Hermione alohomoras through a locked door in order to get them inside. This brings me to my theory that Hermione is actually a secret cat burglar, because what the heck, Hermione.

The door that they hide in is actually the secret chamber for a three-headed dog, and not the adorable kind. Everyone screams and runs away, but not before Harry notes that the dog is guarding something. Whatever could it be?

Chapter Ten: Halloween

Harry is still obsessing about what the dog was guarding, but nobody else even cares at this point. He’s jolted out of this newfound obsession when a Nimbus Two Thousand shows up. Harry is easily distracted by bright shiny objects, you see. He takes the broom to the practice field, where he, along with the reader, is given the basic rundown of Quidditch, which sounds like complete madness. Honestly, why do teams even try to score points? Just go get the Snitch to start the game.

The most important part of all of this section, though, is that for the first time, even though he doesn’t know it yet — Harry feels like he’s at home.

On Halloween, Flitwick shows them the wingardium leviosa spell, which Hermione totally sucks the fun out of with her proper technique and pronunciation. Ron insults Hermione when she’s in earshot and shows the first symptoms of foot-in-mouth disease, with which he’ll do battle for his entire adolescent life.

TrollPutting all of that behind them, they go down to the Great Hall and drown out the sounds of Hermione’s tears with food and fun, only to have Quirrell spoil the mood by announcing the presence of a troll on the school grounds. The Hogwarts staff panics faster than New York City officials in a tropical storm and everyone immediately goes bananas. In the midst of all the chaos, Harry spots Snape darting away to the forbidden floor. He also remembers that Hermione might be in trouble.

On their journey to find her, they hear the troll in one of the restrooms, and promptly lock Hermione in the bathroom to play 7 Minutes in King’s Cross Station with the beast. After realizing their error, they hop inside and tangle with the troll in order to save her. There’s a very succinct description of Harry here, who does “something that was both very brave and very stupid” when he jumps onto the troll’s back. That’s pretty much Harry in a nutshell up until about Book 7, I’d say.

It turns out that Professor Flitwick’s lame spell is actually useful for clubbing trolls like baby seals, because they manage to fight it off just in time for all the teachers to come in and find them. Quirrell is disturbed (as well he should be, considering his ploy failed), Snape is bloodied (qua?) and McGonagall awards them points for dumb luck. Hermione lies for the guys, which naturally makes them friends. Harry and Ron: the corrupters.

But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.


Yay friendship!

Chapter Eleven: Quidditch

It’s finally the start of Quidditch season! It’s like the NFL but with less tailgating and Bengals in handcuffs. Hermione helps Harry out with his school work now that things are getting nuts, and together with Ron, they’re forming a tightly knit group.

In fact, Snape hates their friendship so much that he gripes at Harry and takes his Quidditch Through the Ages book for no reason before limping away not-so-menacingly. Harry goes to get his book back from Snape and stumbles in on Snape showing Filch what’s under his robes. Chill dudes, it’s just a cut. Naturally, Snape freaks out on Harry and tells him to get out. Harry comes to the conclusion that Snape let the troll into the castle to create a diversion, and it’s at this point that Harry makes up his mind about Snape being the villain of this story — perhaps one of the main villains for the entire series. There’s no turning back from here on out, and Harry is committed to this course, even though he’s proven wrong time and time again. To be fair, Snape doesn’t make it easy on him.

The day of the first Quidditch match, Harry is all nerves. The whole school is abuzz to watch the youngest Seeker in a century playing his first game. There are even students with Potter for President posters. I imagine they look like the Barack Obama “Hope” posters. Campaign slogan: Yes We Confundus.

The game begins, and everything is off to a roaring start. Lee Jordan gives creative play-by-play of the situation, and I had honestly forgotten how entertaining these are. Harry is clearly targeted by the Slytherin players, but not before Harry’s broom is cursed and tries to throw him off the way a mechanical bull does to cougars. Hermione looks around the crowd, and seemingly spies Snape muttering the curse, his eyes fixed on Harry. The clever witch that she is, she moves around to Snape’s seat to set his robe on fire. The Potions Master tries to put the flames out, knocks over Quirrell and takes his eyes off Harry long enough for everything to get back to normal. Harry catches the Snitch in his mouth (an important tidbit to remember for The Deathly Hallows), and wins the game.

For the post-game celebration, they gather at Hagrid’s Hut, which sounds like a nice quaint little pub, and the trio dishes the dirt on all of their suspicions. Hagrid assures them (correctly) that Snape wouldn’t hurt a student, and accidentally opens his mouth about Nicolas Flamel. Now the young wizards have a name to investigate.

Random Observations:

  • In the Midnight Duel chapter, every student is addressed by their full name except for Neville, which must mean that Harry considers him a friend. Even Hermione is referred to in his POV as Hermione Granger, so she is clearly outside of the circle of Harry’s trust at that point. I mean, it was obvious that he didn’t much care for her, but I didn’t realize he identified with Neville so quickly.
  • Harry and Malfoy’s first confrontation happens on brooms, with Harry trying to get an object back from Malfoy. I said before that we’d be looking at how the books mirror one another. Here we get a mirror at a similar situation in The Deathly Hallows. Harry and Draco’s last showdown also involves brooms, as Draco tries to get an object back from Harry. That one ends in Harry saving Malfoy’s life, if you’ll recall.
  • I’m probably going to talk about Fred and George in every single one of these posts, but seriously, I love the description that Wood gives of them, referring to them as “human bludgers”. So to-the-point and perfect.
  • I’m curious just how much of the events we’re seeing here are chance, and how many of them are Dumbledore’s design. It’s cleverly timed that the fat lady just so happens to disappear, locking Harry and Co. out of the common room so that they end up finding the chamber with Fluffy and the trap door. We find out at the end of the story that Dumbledore was in fact urging Harry towards seeing just what was going on with the Sorcerer’s Stone, but the guy can’t be omniscient and can’t predict the future. So which factor was going on in this instance: chance or design?
  • I think it’s interesting that the chapter before the Mirror of Erised, where Harry first sees the shades of his family, is the chapter in which he should catch the Snitch in his mouth that later houses the Resurrection Stone — which allows Harry to see his family once more.


And this ends Part 4. And we are so very, very close to the Mirror of Erised. But it’ll have to wait until later this week. Enjoy folks, and please discuss your thoughts in the comments. I’ve loved the back and forth so far.

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