Harry nodded, but stopped quickly, because it made his head hurt. Then he said,
"Sir, there are some other things I'd like to know, if you can tell me... things
I want to know the truth about...."
"The truth." Dumbledore sighed. "It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should
therefore be treated with great caution. However, I shall answer your questions
unless I have a very good reason not to, in which case I beg you'll forgive me.
I shall not, of course, lie."
"Well... Voldemort said that he only killed my mother because she tried to stop
him from killing me. But why would he want to kill me in the first place?"
Dumbledore sighed very deeply this time.
"Alas, the first thing you ask me, I cannot tell you. Not today. Not now. You
will know, one day... put it from your mind for now, Harry. When you are older...
I know you hate to hear this... when you are ready, you will know."
And Harry knew it would be no good to argue.
"But why couldn't Quirrell touch me?"
"Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand,
it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves
its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign... to have been loved so deeply, even
though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It
is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his
soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch
a person marked by something so good."
Dumbledore now became very interested in a bird out on the windowsill, which
gave Harry time to dry his eyes on the sheet. When he had found his voice again,
Harry said, "And the invisibility cloak — do you know who sent it to me?"
"Ah — your father happened to leave it in my possession, and I thought you might
like it." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "Useful things... your father used it mainly
for sneaking off to the kitchens to steal food when he was here."
"And there's something else..."
"Quirrell said Snape - — "
"Professor Snape, Harry." "Yes, him — Quirrell said he hates me because he hated
my father. Is that true?"
"Well, they did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy.
And then, your father did something Snape could never forgive."
"He saved his life."
"Yes..." said Dumbledore dreamily. "Funny, the way people's minds work, isn't
it? Professor Snape couldn't bear being in your father's debt.... I do believe he
worked so hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and
your father even. Then he could go back to hating your father's memory in peace...."
Harry tried to understand this but it made his head pound, so he stopped.
"And sir, there's one more thing..."
"Just the one?"
"How did I get the Stone out of the mirror?"
"Ah, now, I'm glad you asked me that. It was one of my more brilliant ideas,
and between you and me, that's saying something. You see, only one who wanted to
find the Stone — find it, but not use it — would be able to get it, otherwise they'd
just see themselves making gold or drinking Elixir of Life. My brain surprises even
me sometimes.... Now, enough questions. I suggest you make a start on these sweets.
Ah! Bettie Bott's Every Flavor Beans! I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come
across a vomitflavored one, and since then I'm afraid I've rather lost my liking
for them — but I think I'll be safe with a nice toffee, don't you?"
He smiled and popped the golden-brown bean into his mouth. Then he choked and
said, "Alas! Ear wax!"
Madam Pomfrey, the nurse, was a nice woman, but very strict.
"Just five minutes," Harry pleaded.
"You let Professor Dumbledore in..."
"Well, of course, that was the headmaster, quite different. You need rest."
"I am resting, look, lying down and everything. Oh, go on, Madam Pomfrey..."
"Oh, very well," she said. "But five minutes only."
And she let Ron and Hermione in.
Hermione looked ready to fling her arms around him again, but Harry was glad
she held herself in as his head was still very sore.
"Oh, Harry, we were sure you were going to — Dumbledore was so worried - — "
"The whole school's talking about it," said Ron. "What really happened?"
It was one of those rare occasions when the true story is even more strange and
exciting than the wild rumors. Harry told them everything: Quirrell; the mirror;
the Stone; and Voldemort. Ron and Hermione were a very good audience; they gasped
in all the right places, and when Harry told them what was under Quirrell's turban,
Hermione screamed out loud.
"So the Stone's gone?" said Ron finally. "Flamel's just going to die?"
"That's what I said, but Dumbledore thinks that — what was it? — 'to the well-organized
mind, death is but the next great adventure.
"I always said he was off his rocker," said Ron, looking quite impressed at how
crazy his hero was.
"So what happened to you two?" said Harry.
"Well, I got back all right," said Hermione. "I brought Ron round -- that took
a while — and we were dashing up to the owlery to contact Dumbledore when we met
him in the entrance hall — he already knew — he just said, 'Harry's gone after him,
hasn't he?' and hurtled off to the third floor."
"D'you think he meant you to do it?" said Ron. "Sending you your father's cloak
"Well, " Hermione exploded, "if he did — I mean to say that's terrible -- you
could have been killed."
"No, it isn't," said Harry thoughtfully. "He's a funny man, Dumbledore. I think
he sort of wanted to give me a chance. I think he knows more or less everything
that goes on here, you know. I reckon he had a pretty good idea we were going to
try, and instead of stopping us, he just taught us enough to help. I don't think
it was an accident he let me find out how the mirror worked. It's almost like he
thought I had the right to face Voldemort if I could...."
"Yeah, Dumbledore's off his rocker, all right," said Ron proudly. "Listen, you've
got to be up for the end-of-year feast tomorrow. The points are all in and Slytherin
won, of course — you missed the last Quidditch match, we were steamrollered by Ravenclaw
without you — but the food'll be good."
At that moment, Madam Pomfrey bustled over.
"You've had nearly fifteen minutes, now OUT" she said firmly.
After a good night's sleep, Harry felt nearly back to normal.
I want to go to the feast," he told Madam Pomfrey as she straightened his many
candy boxes. I can, can't I?"
"Professor Dumbledore says you are to be allowed to go," she said stiffily, as
though in her opinion Professor Dumbledore didn't realize how risky feasts could
be. "And you have another visitor."
"Oh, good," said Harry. "Who is it?"
Hagrid sidled through the door as he spoke. As usual when he was indoors, Hagrid
looked too big to be allowed. He sat down next to Harry, took one look at him, and
burst into tears.
"It's — all — my — ruddy — fault!" he sobbed, his face in his hands. I told the
evil git how ter get past Fluffy! I told him! It was the only thing he didn't know,
an' I told him! Yeh could've died! All fer a dragon egg! I'll never drink again!
I should be chucked out an' made ter live as a Muggle!"
"Hagrid!" said Harry, shocked to see Hagrid shaking with grief and remorse, great
tears leaking down into his beard. "Hagrid, he'd have found out somehow, this is
Voldemort we're talking about, he'd have found out even if you hadn't told him."
"Yeh could've died!" sobbed Hagrid. "An' don' say the name!"
"VOLDEMORT!" Harry bellowed, and Hagrid was so shocked, he stopped crying. "I've
met him and I'm calling him by his name. Please cheer up, Hagrid, we saved the Stone,
it's gone, he can't use it. Have a Chocolate Frog, I've got loads...."
Hagrid wiped his nose on the back of his hand and said, "That reminds me. I've
got yeh a present."
"It's not a stoat sandwich, is it?" said Harry anxiously, and at last Hagrid
gave a weak chuckle. "Nah. Dumbledore gave me the day off yesterday ter fix it.
'Course, he shoulda sacked me instead — anyway, got yeh this..."
It seemed to be a handsome, leather-covered book. Harry opened it curiously.
It was full of wizard photographs. Smiling and waving at him from every page were
his mother and father.
"Sent owls off ter all yer parents' old school friends, askin' fer photos...
knew yeh didn' have any... d'yeh like it?"
Harry couldn't speak, but Hagrid understood.
Harry made his way down to the end-of-year feast alone that night. He had been
held up by Madam Pomfrey's fussing about, insisting on giving him one last checkup,
so the Great Hall was already full. It was decked out in the Slytherin colors of
green and silver to celebrate Slytherin's winning the house cup for the seventh
year in a row. A huge banner showing the Slytherin serpent covered the wall behind
the High Table.
When Harry walked in there was a sudden hush, and then everybody started talking
loudly at once. He slipped into a seat between Ron and Hermione at the Gryffindor
table and tried to ignore the fact that people were standing up to look at him.
Fortunately, Dumbledore arrived moments later. The babble died away.
"Another year gone!" Dumbledore said cheerfully. "And I must trouble you with
an old man's wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast.
What a year it has been! Hopefully your heads are all a little fuller than they
were... you have the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year
"Now, as I understand it, the house cup here needs awarding, and the points stand
thus: In fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third,
Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty-two; Ravenclaw has four hundred and twenty-six
and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy-two."
A storm of cheering and stamping broke out from the Slytherin table. Harry could
see Draco Malfoy banging his goblet on the table. It was a sickening sight.
"Yes, Yes, well done, Slytherin," said Dumbledore. "However, recent events must
be taken into account."
The room went very still. The Slytherins' smiles faded a little.
"Ahem," said Dumbledore. "I have a few last-minute points to dish out. Let me
"First — to Mr. Ronald Weasley..."
Ron went purple in the face; he looked like a radish with a bad sunburn.
"... for the best-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award
Gryffindor house fifty points."
Gryffindor cheers nearly raised the bewitched ceiling; the stars overhead seemed
to quiver. Percy could be heard telling the other prefects, "My brother, you know!
My youngest brother! Got past McGonagall's giant chess set!"
At last there was silence again.
"Second — to Miss Hermione Granger... for the use of cool logic in the face of
fire, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."
Hermione buried her face in her arms; Harry strongly suspected she had burst
into tears. Gryffindors up and down the table were beside themselves — they were
a hundred points up. "Third — to Mr. Harry Potter..." said Dumbledore. The room
went deadly quiet for pure nerve and outstanding courage, I award Gryffindor house
The din was deafening. Those who could add up while yelling themselves hoarse
knew that Gryffindor now had four hundred and seventy-two points -- exactly the
same as Slytherin. They had tied for the house cup — if only Dumbledore had given
Harry just one more point.
Dumbledore raised his hand. The room gradually fell silent.
"There are all kinds of courage," said Dumbledore, smiling. "It takes a great
deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our
friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom."
Someone standing outside the Great Hall might well have thought some sort of
explosion had taken place, so loud was the noise that erupted from the Gryffindor
table. Harry, Ron, and Hermione stood up to yell and cheer as Neville, white with
shock, disappeared under a pile of people hugging him. He had never won so much
as a point for Gryffindor before. Harry, still cheering, nudged Ron in the ribs
and pointed at Malfoy, who couldn't have looked more stunned and horrified if he'd
just had the Body-Bind Curse put on him.
"Which means, Dumbledore called over the storm of applause, for even Ravenclaw
and Hufflepuff were celebrating the downfall of Slytherin, "we need a little change
He clapped his hands. In an instant, the green hangings became scarlet and the
silver became gold; the huge Slytherin serpent vanished and a towering Gryffindor
lion took its place. Snape was shaking Professor McGonagall's hand, with a horrible,
forced smile. He caught Harry's eye and Harry knew at once that Snape's feelings
toward him hadn't changed one jot. This didn't worry Harry. It seemed as though
life would be back to normal next year, or as normal as it ever was at Hogwarts.
It was the best evening of Harry's life, better than winning at Quidditch, or
Christmas, or knocking out mountain trolls... he would never, ever forget tonight.