Christmas is coming.
The chapter begins in mid-December, when Hogwarts is covered in its first blanket of snow. The lake froze, and the Weasley twins find themselves in trouble for bewitching snowballs and using them to hit Professor Quirrell in the turban.
With the anticipation for the holidays growing, Malfoy, during a rather chilly Potions class, makes a jab at Harry about how he is not going home for the holidays because he is not wanted. However, it is revealed that Professor McGonagall had come around in weeks previous, making a list of Gryffindors who would not be journeying home, and Harry was the one to make the decision not to go back to Privet Drive.
Once Potions was finished, Ron and Harry run into Hagrid, who was hard at work carrying a large fir tree into the corridor. Ron asks Hagrid if he needed help, and following Hagrid’s refusal, Draco comes up behind the party and makes a jab at Ron and his family’s financial standings. Angered, Ron lunges at Draco, intent on causing him physical harm, when Snape appears and, despite Hagrid’s protests that Ron was provoked, takes five points from Gryffindor as fighting is not permitted. Smug with himself, Draco, and his posse of Crabbe and Goyle, leave the corridor, but not before pushing past the tree, scattering needles everywhere.
Following the altercation, Harry, Ron, and Hagrid make their way to the Great Hall, and the students take in the spectacle of the holiday decor. Harry, Ron, and Hagrid run into Hermione who suggests that the students head to the library. Hagrid prompts Hermione to tell him why they would be going to the library so close to the end of term, and Hermione responds with needing to go to research Nicolas Flamel. Harry chimes in with how Hagrid could save them from going if he would just tell them about Flamel, and after rejecting their inquiries, the trio are off to the library.
Once they arrive at the library, the trio continue to search for any mention of Flamel, but without a proper place to begin their search they were currently unsuccessful. Hermione takes out a list of subjects and titles that she decided to investigate, while Harry wandered to the Restricted Section. It is suggested that Harry had been wondering whether or not Flamel was included in one of the books shelved in the restricted section, buut without a specially signed note from a teacher, he was unable to confirm the suspicion. In a daze, Harry doesn’t realize Madam Pince, the librarian, had walked up behind him and is startled enough to flee once Pince makes herself known. After waiting out in the corridor, Harry is eventually re-antiquated with Ron and Hermione who tell him their search was fruitless.
When the term concludes, and the holiday’s begin, Harry and Ron are enjoying themselves enough that Flamel escapes their thoughts. The dormitories are quiet, save for them, and they spend their time playing wizard chess. It is told that wizard chess is the same as muggle chess except that the pieces acted as if they were alive, adding another layer to an already complex game.
On Christmas Eve, Harry heads to bed not expecting to wake to gifts, and yet, when Christmas Day arrives, Harry receives several presents. Picking up the first parcel, Harry rips into it to find a roughly cut flute from Hagrid. The second present is revealed to be a fifty-pence piece from Uncle Veron and Aunt Petunia. Ron is enamored by the foreign object and Harry tells him to keep it. The third gift, a hand-knitted emerald green sweater and fudge, was given to Harry by the Weasley parents. The fourth gift Harry received was a box of Chocolate Frogs from Hermione. The last gift, a rare invisibility cloak, was given to Harry by an unnamed sender.
Before Harry and Ron can test out the invisible properties of the cloak, Fred and George burst into the common room, and begin to talk to the younger boys about how each of them received a sweater. As the twins are pressuring Ron into wearing his Maroon sweater, Percy walks in and all the Weasley siblings begin taunting Percy about the ‘p’ emblazoned on his sweater, and how it is meant for prefect and not for Percy.
The Christmas merriment continues with a feast. Among the delectable food are a hundred roast turkeys, potatoes in various states of cooking, peas, gravey, and cranberry sauce. Flaming Christmas pudding followed the turkey, and Percy is said to have nearly broken his teeth as a silver sickle was included in his piece. Following the meal, Harry and the Weasley’s spent the afternoon having snowball fights, and when it was time to go to sleep, Harry lay awake, wondering about why his father would have an invisibilty cloak and who had returned it to Harry’s possession.
While thinking, Harry sits up and decides to use the cloak in order to get into the restricted section of the library. Once at the library Harry begins to pilfer through the books, and after opening one that produced a bloodcurdling shriek, Harry decides that its time to go. Harry does get turned around, and under the invisibility cloak, he runs into Snape conversing with Filch, who are talking about the disturbance in the restricted section, and Harry decides to go into an unknown classroom in order to evade capture.
Once in the room, Harry finds himself faced with an odd looking mirror, that eventually shows him a reflection of at least then others behind him. Harry looks over his shoulder, but no one is there. When he turns back, a woman and a man appear behind his reflection and Harry realizes he is looking at his parents. Both elated and surprised, Harry runs back to the common room to fetch Ron, but when the pair return to the room, Ron sees a reflection of himself in the mirror as head boy. As the boys argue as to whether or not the mirror shows the future, or was something sinister, they hear a noise and return to the common room with more questions than answers.
Over the next couple nights, Harry returns to the mirror, and on the third night Harry is greeted by Dumbledore sitting at a previously unoccupied desk. Dumbledore reveals to Harry that the mirror, formally called the Mirror of Erised, shows the looker their most desperate desire. Following the explanation, Dumbledore tells Harry that the mirror is to be moved to a new location, and before he goes to bed, Harry asks Dumbledore what he sees in the mirror. His response, socks.
The chapter ends with Harry returning to his bed, left to consider whether or not Dumbledore had been honest in his answer to Harry’s question.
In chapter twelve, The Mirror of Erised, there were quite a few illustrations that caught my eye.
First, Kay’s depiction of Ron was both comical and lovable. He doesn’t quite look like Rupert Grint, the actor who played Ron in the Potter films, but after seeing this illustration, I am glad Kay decided to put his own spin on the character.
I also quite liked the illustrations of the chess pieces that covered several pages in the chapter.
Lastly, the two illustrations depicting Harry’s first interaction with the Mirror of Erised and Harry and Dumbledore discussing the mirror’s magical properties. While they were both sad to look at, I find that their inclusion was necessary in order to get across the message of Harry’s longing for a normal life.
‘I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.’ Harry stared. ‘One can never have enough socks,’ said Dumbledore. ‘Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.’ – Albus Dumbledore
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