Nicolas Flamel

chapter thirteen of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry and Hermione figure out that Fluffy is guarding the Philosopher’s Stone, and after Harry grabs the Snitch in a very brief Quidditch match, he flies into the Forbidden Forest and overhears Snape threatening Quirrell over his learning how to get past Fluffy.

Neville Longbottom, by Jeni Malament

“There’s no need to tell me I’m not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy’s already done that,” Neville choked out.


Hermione 1st Year, by lberghol

“I never thought to look in here!” she whispered excitedly. ” I got this out of the library weeks ago for a bit of light reading.”


Harry and Snape, by glockgal

Up in the air, Snape turned on his broomstick just in time to see something scarlet shoot past him, missing him by inches.


Nicholas Flamel, by NicoPony

Below, in a shadowy clearing, stood Snape, but he wasn’t alone. Quirrell was there, too.


Nicholas Flamel, by Keith James

“You don’t want me as your enemy, Quirrell.”


about the chapter


Regardless of how much you already know about the outcome of this book or the series in general, the air of mystery Rowling writes into this chapter in particular is brilliant. Almost everything that happens could be taken several different ways, from Snape’s desire to referee the Quidditch match, to his spitting on the ground at its conclusion, to his conversation with Quirrell in the forest (not to mention the part of the conversation Harry misses thanks to an owl hooting!). What is Snape up to refereeing, and confronting Quirrell? And how involved is Dumbledore in watching over all of this? There are some pieces to this puzzle that Harry (and we) don’t yet have, and still others that we never will. It’s fascinating to think about.

The Wizarding World

In the “old book” Hermione pulls out, Nicolas Flamel is described as having “celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year.” Which means we have to wonder, what year is the book talking about? Not many books would date themselves so conspicuously – instead it seems probable to me that the book magically updates its information every year (which is a pretty cool little trick if you’re an author). This would also be interesting, because it would mean that this year – as the Philosopher’s Stone is being threatened – Flamel is turning the big six-six-six.

The Boy Who Lived

Another moment that tells us a lot about the character of Harry and his friends is when Neville comes into the common room with his legs locked together. Hermione, the only one not to laugh at him, immediately performs the counter-curse and asks what happened; Ron laughs at first, then somewhat insensitively urges Neville to have more of a spine; and Harry also laughs, but then offers Neville comfort in the form of his last chocolate frog, and reminds him that someone important – the Sorting Hat – absolutely thought he was brave enough to be a Gryffindor. We’re learning more and more about the types of people these kids will grow up to become.

The Final Word

“Nicolas Flamel is a historical character. Flamel lived in France in the fourteenth century and is supposed to have discovered how to make a philosopher’s stone. There are mentions of sightings of him through the centuries because he was supposed to have gained immortality. There are still streets named after Flamel and his wife Perenelle in Paris.”–J.K. Rowling, (May 2005)

24 Responses to “Nicolas Flamel”

  1. *in response to the analysis in this chapter “boy who lived”.
    the Nevile reaction-character analysis of Hermione and Harry are pretty spot on but… not so much for Ron.
    Ron did changed for the better in future books- I think Ron is the one that is alarmed when Neville says he got his scars by antagonizing the Carrows and says “there is a right time for things like this and times when is not”..

    the rest of the project is looking great

  2. Very interesting point you brought up about Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s reactions to Neville being jinxed. I agree with Emily but at the time this was a good analysis of their characters. Ron did change a lot in the last book.

  3. What I’ve always wondered was if Nicholas Flamel is 665 and Dumbeldore at the time was about 108 then Nicholas Flamel should have already been about 575 so how can he have survived for the 500 odd years waiting for Dumbledore to arrive

  4. Danielle, thanks for posting! I think the idea is that Flamel developed the Philospher’s Stone on his own, long before Dumbledore was around. Once Dumbledore was around and began corresponding with notable people like Bathilda Bagshot, etc., Flamel was included in this group – and that the pair of them only began working together later on (on other things).

  5. Referring back to the discussion on character revelations in this chapter, I think it’s important to note what a big impact Harry’s kind words had on Neville. Harry comforts Neville after the leg-locking incident by telling him: “You’re worth twelve of Malfoy.” And despite all the many things Neville forgets, he internalizes what Harry said. How many of us will repeat the compliments we receive from people we admire and respect over and over in our heads? And so Neville uses Harry’s words as a come back a few pages later when Malfoy taunts him at the Quidditch match: “I’m worth twelve of you, Malfoy.” And perhaps also remembering what Harry told him about being sorted for Gryffindor, Neville even gathers enough courage a few moments later to join in the fray when Ron attacks Malfoy. This is just the first glimmer of the bravery Neville will display in the years to come… and it seems to be prompted quite a bit by Harry’s encouragement.

    As for Nicolas Flamel, I love how Rowling generously empowers her young readers to uncover the identity of this mystery man before our heroes can work it out. More than once, we are given the clue that Harry is sure that he has read about Flamel somewhere before, and all the reader has to do is flip back to chapter six to find the answer. Poor Harry, of course, doesn’t have the luxury of rereading about his journey on the train, and has to wait until he gets a second Chocolate Frog card of Dumbledore.

  6. Rowling was very clever in this chapter. At this point, a new reader does not yet know her style, that you should never trust what she seems to be telling you. I know when I read it for the first time it didn’t even occur to me to suspect that Snape may not be the villain. I thought we knew that, that it had been established, and so was genuinely taken aback at the ending. Jo sets up this character as a sleezeball so that when we hear the conversation with Quirrel we, like Harry, make assumptions about its meaning.

    With regard to his Flamel’s age, I don’t think the books update themselves because in the ‘about the Author’ section of Fantastic Beasts it says that that particular copy is the fifty-second edition. Why have editions if you can have a book update itself? Unless it’s only numbers that update.

    I agree with your assessment of Harry and Hermione but while Ron can be extremely insensitive I never regarded him as being so in that scene. He was only trying to encourage Neville to stand up for himself, which he did at the match. So perhaps Neville took Ron’s words to heart too.

  7. I love what you said about Neville Andrea, about him remembering the compliment from Harry when there are so many other things he always forgets (such as the common room password…) I really do love Neville.

  8. re: Flamel’s age.

    I never noticed the math, but if we assume Flamel is 666 in PS it’s safe to assume that’s the age he dies at, since the stone will be destroyed at the end of the year.

    666 indeed!!

  9. Just rereading this chapter today, and noticed something odd right at the forest scene.
    Harry watches Snape hit the forrest at a run.

    since when does snape run?!?! haha soo weird

  10. Is Ron’s ‘insensitivity’ to Neville really all that surprising considering his own personal background, growing up with five older brothers?

  11. Actually, the comment about Nicholas Flamel being 666 that year seems a happy coincidance. Nicholas Flamel was a famous European alchemist, and the year the book was written, he would have been 666 had he still actually been alive.

  12. Julia, that’s fascinating! I never thought to check that but it makes total sense….

  13. I think Josie’s thoughts on how Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s reactions to Neville being cursed being a depiction of how they are later in life is extremely accurate. Even with Ron. Because Ron, even in book seven, can be extremely blunt and insensitive, even when his heart is in the right place. Harry, of course, lets his emotions out freely, and then helps or encourages those that need it. Hermione is always the quick and decisive one, and always the one who can think of a needed spell the fastest and use it correctly. Then, once all is said and done, she asks the questions of “what happened?” and the like.

    elizabethauthor, I don’t believe Mike was trying to say that every single book in the Hogwarts library updates itself year-by-year, merely just the book that they read the excerpt out of. And Mike, before I read that little historical fact about how Flamel would actually have had just turned 665 if he were still alive when PS was published, I thought the book may have just been old, and the information inside wasn’t completely accurate to the date that they were reading it on. But now that I know about the history, I am also wondering how it keeps up with its information. The only thing I can really think of was your own idea, that there is some sort of magical influence on the book that updates its date information every year. Unless elizabethauthor is correct, and this is just that year’s edition of the book. Though, it does seem like an odd book to keep coming out with new editions every year…

  14. I absolutely love all of Keith James’ art work, it has so much detail and depth to it.

  15. Certainly the 665-666 thing is interesting to applaud as yet another of JKR’s subtle references. It’s just a shame that “666” is apparently a mistranslation from the original 616. Perhaps, on the other hand, the prevalence of the mistranslation is what gives it its power, rather than the original meaning.

  16. I commented in a previous chapter about just how much I think Dumbledore was manipulating events behind the scenes. I think that it is very interesting that it is Dumbledore’s chocolate frog card that gives the trio the information they need. I know Dumbledore wouldn’t have been behind that but I still like the fact that they get the info because of him.

  17. Sorry, I don’t mean to be annoying, but isn’t the name of this chapter and the name of the character spelled “Nicolas”, not “Nicholas”? :)
    Love the site, I’m currently reading the books in English for the first time and following the chapter by chapter section here. Stunning work, Josie!

    (Moderated for language)

  18. Ha! You’re right, of course, Amanda. Thanks for pointing it out. Clearly I wasn’t paying close enough attention. :)

  19. No worries, Josie – I watched the movie recently as part of my back-to-Harry Potter-journey and they spelled it wrong there, too. I paused to look when Hermione reads about him in her giant book. So if Warner Brothers can’t spell it, I’m sure you’re excused ;)

  20. Ha! That’s funny. Makes me feel a little bit better about it, at least. :)

  21. That portrait by glockgal caught my attention! It’s certainly spot-on! Love it! :)

    Snape refereeing high up in a broomstick brought unbidden images to my mind, particularly one of “a scrawny boy trying to ride a bucking broomstick”. No wonder his once-in-a-lifetime refereeing task was a memorable one for me. :)

    I never even knew before that Nicolas Flamel was actually a real historical figure. Thanks to this site, now I do. ;)

  22. I would actually be inclined to believe that all of the books in the Hogwarts library would automatically update themselves to keep their information up to date, and that the edition number would update its self as well to allow the information to referenced correctly. I don’t have the books in front of me at the moment so i can’t give specific examples but for the most part all of the library books the trio use for research over the years seem to be quite old. Not to mention that Harry uses Snapes old potions book and apart from Snape’s notes it seems to be the same as Hermione’s copy which she had purchased just that year. I find it hard to believe that there wouldn’t have been any relevant innovations in the potions field since snape was in school

  23. I started re-reading the books just to follow them chapter by chapter with the illustrations, and I noticed something very important in this chapter.
    *Spoiler* if you haven’t read book five!!!
    There is a passage on page 221 in the American Edition: “Could Snape possibly know they’d found out about the [Philosopher’s] Stone? Harry didn’t see how he could – yet he sometimes had the horrible feeling that Snape could read minds.”
    Harry really should’ve learned Occlumency back in his first year!

  24. Several things –
    1 I never realized Flamel was a real person, or that the idea of the stone was a true story.

    2 I firmly believe that Snape was watching out for Harry and was suspicious of Quirrel (however, I didn’t believe this when I first read the book).

    3 Being a former (although still marked) Death Eater, wouldn’t Snape feel the presence of his former master? Also, why wasn’t Voldemort suspicious of Snape? Yes, Snape portrayed himself as “the bad guy”, but it was Snape that cast the counter curse to the spell Quirrel/Voldemort cast on Harry during the match in am earlier chapter. One should assume LV knew Snape’s magical signature…alternatively, one could also assume that LV was so weak, he failed to recognize it.

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