Centaurs, Heads, and Cups, Oh My!

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Harry knows that the end is coming. Somehow or another, Harry will meet You-Know-Who again. You-Know-Who will try and get the Sorcerer’s Stone to come back.

And Harry doesn’t know if he will be able to stop Voldemort.

Centaur

Centaur

On the way, Harry has to go into the Forbidden Forest for detention. There, he sees something drinking unicorn blood. He also gets to see some centaur rivalry when Firenze carries Harry away because of danger in the forest. Bane rebukes Firenze for carrying a human on his back. Apparently it is against their pride or sacred laws to do so. Is Firenze an outcast? Or are the centaurs unwilling to bend their rules because of the situation? It seems like the centaurs have their own laws and values. The centaurs are star-gazers, seeking to gain truth from the heavens. Many centaurs told Hagrid “Mars is bright tonight…,” whatever that means. Do the centaurs sense that trouble is coming? Or are they like the fortune teller who makes random statements that don’t really make sense, acting like their meanings could change the world? Regardless, it is clear that centaurs are a real interesting bunch.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione travel down the trapdoor, where they find a series of tasks. Each task seems to match one of their specialties. Hermione gets a complex logic puzzle where she has to pick the right potion that will allow them to travel through fire and not get burned, meanwhile avoiding poison. Harry finds the key that others cannot while flying a broomstick. Finally, Ron has to play a complex game of chess.

Lord Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirre...

Lord Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head

Eventually, Harry gets to meet Voldemort. Only Voldemort isn’t the one Harry sees after the fire. Is it Snape?

No…it’s Professor Quirrell, the last person Harry would expect to see. Apparently, Quirrell had Voldemort’s face sticking out of the back of his head. Quite the fashion statement.

Harry escapes by getting the stone from the Mirror of Erised. How on each did that mirror get so far down below the castle? Perhaps Dumbledore has a reason to his madness. Harry just has to touch Professor Quirrell’s face, and Quirrell’s face and hands burn up in front of Harry. Wow! Harry has magical powers that he didn’t even know about! Or is there something else about Harry that he doesn’t even know about?

Well, it turns out that since Harry’s mother died for him, the sacrifice left a mark of protection on him that even Voldemort can’t touch. By saving Harry the first time, Lilly Potter continues to save Harry when someone tries to hurt him.

Talk about the power of a mother’s love. What a precious, precious act.

But Harry still has a question for Professor Dumbledore, something that he has been wondering for a while now. Why did Voldemort want to kill Harry in the first place? What made Harry so special? Why want to kill an infant?

Dumbledore as portrayed by the late Richard Ha...

Dumbledore as portrayed by the late Richard Harris in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alas, Dumbledore does not tell Harry the truth he so desperately craves. Dumbledore tells Harry the thing all kids hate to hear: You’ll hear it when you’re older. Ugh! Harry wants to hear it now! Harry wants to know why his parents had to die to save him. Harry has to live with the Dursleys because of Voldemort. And Dumbledore can’t even tell Harry why Voldemort tried to kill him! The injustice of it all!

But, what can Harry do? Dumbledore will not tell Harry for whatever reason. He says it’s for the best that Harry doesn’t know now. Harry cannot press Dumbledore. Harry trusts the wise, old man. Dumbledore has been nothing but good to Harry (except for leaving Harry with the Dursleys). Harry has to believe Dumbledore; therefore, Harry doesn’t press the issue.

The book ends with the customary end of the year feast with the House Cup being awarded. Slytherin, of course, has the points to get the Cup. But Dumbledore has a few tricks up his sleeve. Dumbledore gives 50 points each to Ron and Hermione, and 60 points to Harry. This creates a tie between Gryffindor and Slytherin in house points. Why couldn’t Dumbledore have given Harry just 10 more points? It’s not like Harry didn’t deserve it.

But then, Dumbledore does something no one was expecting. You see, Neville tried to stand up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione so they wouldn’t go out after hours. Neville didn’t stand up to people. That was a very unique and brave thing Neville did, standing up to his friends. And Dumbledore rewarded him for that. Dumbledore gave Neville 10 points, making Gryffindor win the House Cup. For the first time in Neville’s life, people actually applauded him. Neville hadn’t done anything for Gryffindor before. And Dumbledore gave Neville the last 10 points so that Gryffindor could win. What a heartwarming moment that was. The happiness Neville felt could put a smile on anyone’s face.

From left to right: Fiona Shaw as Aunt Petunia...

The Dursleys

But that moment quickly ended when Harry had to go back to the Dursleys for the summer. You can’t have everything in life.

However, there was a little twinkle of mischievousness at the end: The Dursleys don’t know Harry can’t practice magic outside of school.

This summer quickly turned from sad and pitiful to somewhat exciting.

© Amy Burney, Amy’s Fantastical Writings

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