After the Christmas holiday, the three friends have still not been able to discover any information about Nicolas Flamel, although Harry feels certain he has encountered the name before Hagrid revealed it. During Quidditch practice, Wood breaks the bad news that Professor Snape will be refereeing the upcoming match, something he has never done before. Harry is upset by the news-believing as he does that Snape hexed him during the last match-but feels compelled to play so that Gryffindor House can participate.
Harry eventually remembers where he first saw the name of Nicolas Flamel: on the Hogwarts Express on the back of a "Famous Wizard" trading card. Professor Dumbledore's card mentions that the headmaster is "particularly famous for his defeat of the dark wizard Grindelwald in 1945 . . . and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel." Hermione then reads from an old volume that Flamel "is the only known maker of the Sorcerer's Stone" (see Analysis for Chapter 11, above). The three friends conclude that "Fluffy" is guarding the Sorcerer's Stone, which Flamel must have asked Dumbledore to keep safe.
The Gryffindor team, thanks to Harry's skill as seeker, quickly wins the Quidditch match-and, apparently, much to referee Snape's dismay. Still, Harry feels happier than he ever has: "He'd really done something to be proud of now-no one could say he was just a famous name any more." As he is returning to the castle, Harry spots Professor Snape sneaking into the Forbidden Forest. He follows Snape on his broomstick, and sees Snape meeting with Professor Quirrell. The two are discussing how to get past "Fluffy." Snape warns Quirrell that he does not want Snape as his enemy, and suggests that Quirrell decide where his true loyalties lie. Harry relates this conversation to Hermione and Ron, who realize that if-as they assume-the Stone's safety depends upon Quirrell's ability to stand up to Snape, then-in Ron's words-"it'll be gone by next Tuesday."
Most readers will be able to relate to Harry's pride in his own accomplishment. In that honest, emotional reaction, Rowling captures adolescents' desire to be known for who they actually are, and not for who others think they should be. Developing this healthy confidence is an essential part of growing up. Readers might also, however, be well served by asking if Harry's dogged pursuit of Snape and what Harry perceives to be the truth about the Sorcerer's Stone represents overconfidence on his part. He and his friends leap to conclusions based on only partial, circumstantial evidence and fragments of overheard conversations, conclusions which readers will not know to be true or false until the novel's end. This chapter thus demonstrates Rowling's subtle but realistic portrayal of the developmental tasks of adolescence.
The casual reference to Flamel's love of opera probably derives from rumored, 18th-century sightings of Nicolas Flamel and his wife (who was really named Perenelle, as in Hermione's book) at the Paris Opera House-one of many examples throughout the Harry Potter novels of Rowling's humorous and innovative use of her research of history, mythology, and folklore.