"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.
They had indeed been searching books for Flamel's name ever since Hagrid had
let it slip, because how else were they going to find out what Snape was trying
to steal? The trouble was, it was very hard to know where to begin, not knowing
what Flamel might have done to get himself into a book. He wasn't in Great Wizards
of the Twentieth Century, or Notable Magical Names of Our Time; he was missing,
too, from Important Modern Magical Discoveries, and A Study of Recent Developments
in Wizardry. And then, of course, there was the sheer size of the library; tens
of thousands of books; thousands of shelves; hundreds of narrow rows.
Hermione took out a list of subjects and titles she had decided to search while
Ron strode off down a row of books and started pulling them off the shelves at random.
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
"What are you looking for, boy?"
"Nothing," said Harry.
Madam Pince the librarian brandished a feather duster at him.
"You'd better get out, then. Go on — out!"
Wishing he'd been a bit quicker at thinking up some story, Harry left the library.
He, Ron, and Hermione had already agreed they'd better not ask Madam Pince where
they could find Flamel. They were sure she'd be able to tell them, but they couldn't
risk Snape hearing what they were up to.
Harry waited outside in the corridor to see if the other two had found anything,
but he wasn't very hopeful. They had been looking for two weeks, after A, but as
they only had odd moments between lessons it wasn't surprising they'd found nothing.
What they really needed was a nice long search without Madam Pince breathing down
Five minutes later, Ron and Hermione joined him, shaking their heads. They went
off to lunch.
"You will keep looking while I'm away, won't you?" said Hermione. "And send me
an owl if you find anything."
"And you could ask your parents if they know who Flamel is," said Ron. "It'd
be safe to ask them."
"Very safe, as they're both dentists," said Hermione.
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.
Ron also started teaching Harry wizard chess. This was exactly like Muggle chess
except that the figures were alive, which made it a lot like directing troops in
battle. Ron's set was very old and battered. Like everything else he owned, it had
once belonged to someone else in his family — in this case, his grandfather. However,
old chessmen weren't a drawback at all. Ron knew them so well he never had trouble
getting them to do what he wanted.
Harry played with chessmen Seamus Finnigan had lent him, and they didn't trust
him at all. He wasn't a very good player yet and they kept shouting different bits
of advice at him, which was confusing. "Don't send me there, can't you see his knight?
Send him, we can afford to lose 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.
"Merry Christmas," said Ron sleepily as Harry scrambled out of bed and pulled
on his bathrobe.
"You, too," said Harry. "Will you look at this? I've got some presents!"
"What did you expect, turnips?" said Ron, turning to his own pile, which was
a lot bigger than Harry's.
Harry picked up the top parcel. It was wrapped in thick brown paper and scrawled
across it was To Harry, from Hagrid. Inside was a roughly cut wooden flute. Hagrid
had obviously whittled it himself. Harry blew it -- it sounded a bit like an owl.
A second, very small parcel contained a note.
We received your message and enclose your Christmas present. From Uncle Vernon
and Aunt Petunia. Taped to the note was a fifty-pence piece.
"That's friendly," said Harry.
Ron was fascinated by the fifty pence.
"Weird!" he said, 'NMat a shape! This is money?"
"You can keep it," said Harry, laughing at how pleased Ron was. "Hagrid and my
aunt and uncle — so who sent these?"
"I think I know who that one's from," said Ron, turning a bit pink and pointing
to a very lumpy parcel. "My mom. I told her you didn't expect any presents and —
oh, no," he groaned, "she's made you a Weasley sweater."
Harry had torn open the parcel to find a thick, hand-knitted sweater in emerald
green and a large box of homemade fudge.
"Every year she makes us a sweater," said Ron, unwrapping his own, "and mine's
"That's really nice of her," said Harry, trying the fudge, which was very tasty.
His next present also contained candy — a large box of Chocolate Frogs from Hermione.
This only left one parcel. Harry picked it up and felt it. It was very light.
He unwrapped it.
Something fluid and silvery gray went slithering to the floor where it lay in
gleaming folds. Ron gasped.
"I've heard of those," he said in a hushed voice, dropping the box of Every Flavor
Beans he'd gotten from Hermione. "If that's what I think it is — they're really
rare, and really valuable."
"What is it?"
Harry picked the shining, silvery cloth off the floor. It was strange to the
touch, like water woven into material.
"It's an invisibility cloak," said Ron, a look of awe on his face. "I'm sure
it is — try it on."
Harry threw the cloak around his shoulders and Ron gave a yell.
"It is! Look down!"
Harry looked down at his feet, but they were gone. He dashed to the mirror. Sure
enough, his reflection looked back at him, just his head suspended in midair, his
body completely invisible. He pulled the cloak over his head and his reflection
"There's a note!" said Ron suddenly. "A note fell out of it!"
Harry pulled off the cloak and seized the letter. Written in narrow, loopy writing
he had never seen before were the following words: Your father left this in my possession
before he died. It is time it was returned to you. Use it well.
A Very Merry Christmas to you.
There was no signature. Harry stared at the note. Ron was admiring the cloak.
"I'd give anything for one of these," he said. "Anything. What's the matter?"
"Nothing," said Harry. He felt very strange. Who had sent the cloak? Had it really
once belonged to his father?
Before he could say or think anything else, the dormitory door was flung open
and Fred and George Weasley bounded in. Harry stuffed the cloak quickly out of sight.
He didn't feel like sharing it with anyone else yet.
"Hey, look — Harry's got a Weasley sweater, too!"
Fred and George were wearing blue sweaters, one with a large yellow F on it,
the other a G.
"Harry's is better than ours, though," said Fred, holding up Harry's sweater.
"She obviously makes more of an effort if you're not family."
"Why aren't you wearing yours, Ron?" George demanded. "Come on, get it on, they're
lovely and warm."
"I hate maroon," Ron moaned halfheartedly as he pulled it over his head.
"You haven't got a letter on yours," George observed. "I suppose she thinks you
don't forget your name. But we're not stupid — we know we're called Gred and Forge."
"What's all th is noise.
Percy Weasley stuck his head through the door, looking disapproving. He had clearly
gotten halfway through unwrapping his presents as he, too, carried a lumpy sweater
over his arm, which
"P for prefect! Get it on, Percy, come on, we're all wearing ours, even Harry
"I — don't — want said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the sweater over his
head, knocking his glasses askew.
"And you're not sitting with the prefects today, either," said
George. "Christmas is a time for family."
They frog-marched Percy from the room, his arms pinned to his side by his sweater.
Harry had never in all his life had such a Christmas dinner. A hundred fat, roast
turkeys; mountains of roast and boiled potatoes; platters of chipolatas; tureens
of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce — and stacks
of wizard crackers every few feet along the table. These fantastic party favors
were nothing like the feeble Muggle ones the Dursleys usually bought, with their
little plastic toys and their flimsy paper hats inside. Harry pulled a wizard cracker
with Fred and it didn't just bang, it went off with a blast like a cannon and engulfed
them all in a cloud of blue smoke, while from the inside exploded a rear admiral's
hat and several live, white mice. Up at the High Table, Dumbledore had swapped his
pointed wizard's hat for a flowered bonnet, and was chuckling merrily at a joke
Professor Flitwick had just read him.
Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. Percy nearly broke his teeth
on a silver sickle embedded in his slice. Harry watched Hagrid getting redder and
redder in the face as he called for more wine, finally kissing Professor McGonagall
on the cheek, who, to Harry's amazement, giggled and blushed, her top hat lopsided.
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.
Harry and the Weasleys spent a happy afternoon having a furious snowball fight
on the grounds. Then, cold, wet, and gasping for breath, they returned to the fire
in the Gryffindor common room, where Harry broke in his new chess set by losing
spectacularly to Ron. He suspected he wouldn't have lost so badly if Percy hadn't
tried to help him so much.
After a meal of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake, everyone
felt too full and sleepy to do much before bed except sit and watch Percy chase
Fred and George all over Gryffindor tower because they'd stolen his prefect badge.
It had been Harry's best Christmas day ever. Yet something had been nagging at
the back of his mind all day. Not until he climbed into bed was he free to think
about it: the invisibility cloak and whoever had sent it.
Ron, full of turkey and cake and with nothing mysterious to bother him, fell
asleep almost as soon as he'd drawn the curtains of his four-poster. Harry leaned
over the side of his own bed and pulled the cloak out from under it.
His father's... this had been his father's. He let the material flow over his
hands, smoother than silk, light as air. Use it well, the note had said.
He had to try it, now. He slipped out of bed and wrapped the cloak around himself.
Looking down at his legs, he saw only moonlight and shadows. It was a very funny
Use it well.
Suddenly, Harry felt wide-awake. The whole of Hogwarts was open to him in this
cloak. Excitement flooded through him as he stood there in the dark and silence.
He could go anywhere in this, anywhere, and Filch would never know.
Ron grunted in his sleep. Should Harry wake him? Something held him back -- his
father's cloak — he felt that this time — the first time — he wanted to use it alone.
He crept out of the dormitory, down the stairs, across the common room, and climbed
through the portrait hole.
"Who's there?" squawked the Fat Lady. Harry said nothing. He walked quickly down
Where should he go? He stopped, his heart racing, and thought. And then it came
to him. The Restricted Section in the library. He'd be able to read as long as he
liked, as long as it took to find out who Flamel was. He set off, drawing the invisibility
cloak tight around him as he walked.
The library was pitch-black and very eerie. Harry lit a lamp to see his way along
the rows of books. The lamp looked as if it was floating along in midair, and even
though Harry could feel his arm supporting it, the sight gave him the creeps.
The Restricted Section was right at the back of the library. Step ping carefully
over the rope that separated these books from the rest of the library, he held up
his lamp to read the titles.
They didn't tell him much. Their peeling, faded gold letters spelled words in
languages Harry couldn't understand. Some had no title at all. One book had a dark
stain on it that looked horribly like blood. The hairs on the back of Harry's neck
prickled. Maybe he was imagining it, maybe not, but he thought a faint whispering
was coming from the books, as though they knew someone was there who shouldn't be.