Chapter no 16 – Through the Trap Door

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

In the years to come, Harry could never remember exactly how he managed his exam questions when he half believed Voldemort could barge in at any moment. But days passed and there was no doubt Fluffy was alive and well behind closed doors.

The air was very hot, especially in the large classroom where they worked on written tests. They were given a new feather pen specifically for the test, a pen that had been bewitched with the Anti-Nyontek spell.

They also practice exams. Professor Flitwick called them one by one into the classroom to test whether they could make a pineapple dance on the table. Professor McGonagall watched them turn mice into snuff boxes—a number was given according to how beautiful the snuff box was, but deducted if the box had whiskers. Snape was making them nervous, sticking around while they tried to remember how to make a Forgetting Potion.

Harry went about his tasks as best he could, trying to ignore the stabbing pain in his forehead, which had been bothering him since his trip to the Forest. Neville thought Harry was very nervous because of the exam because Harry couldn’t sleep, but the reality was that Harry had woken up many times because of his previous nightmares, only now the dreams were more terrifying.

because there was a hooded figure with blood dripping in his dream.

Maybe it was because they didn’t see what Harry saw in the Forest, or because they didn’t have the burning scar on their foreheads, but Ron and Hermione weren’t as worried as Harry was about the stone. Voldemort certainly scared them, but he didn’t come to them many times in their dreams, and they were too busy studying to have much time to worry about what Snape or some other evil wizard would do.

Their final exam was History of Magic. After an hour of answering questions about an eccentric wizard who invented a self-stirring cauldron, they’ll be free—free for a whole week of fun until their test results are announced. When the ghost of Professor Binns told them to put down their quills and roll up their parchment, Harry cheered along with the others.

“The test was easier than I thought,” said Hermione, as they joined the crowd of children out onto the sunlit field. “I don’t need to memorize the 1637 Book of Werewolf Traditions or the rebellion of Elfric the Zealous.”

Hermione enjoyed discussing her exam questions, but Ron said this gave her a headache, so they went to the lake and sat under a tree. The Weasley twins and Lee Jordan were tickling the antennae of a giant squid warming itself in the shallow water.

“No more studying,” Ron sighed happily, lying back on the grass. “Cheer up a bit, Harry, we’ve got a week before we find out we failed our exams. Now there’s no need to worry.”

Harry rubbed his forehead.

”I wonder what this means !” he said irritably. “My scar hurts all the time—it hurt before, but not as often as this.”

“Go to Madam Pomfrey,” Hermione suggested.

“I’m not sick,” said Harry. ”I think this is a warning… meaning there will be danger…”

Ron couldn’t be compromised, it was too hot.

“Harry, just relax. Hermione was right. The stone was safe as long as Dumbledore was around. Besides, we never had any proof that Snape had found a way

past Fluffy. His legs had almost fallen off once, he wasn’t in a rush to try again. And Neville was going to play Quidditch for the England team before Hagrid let Dumbledore down.”

Harry nodded, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something he had forgotten to do, something important. When he tried to explain this, Hermione said: “It’s just the effects of exams. Last night I woke up and was halfway through my Transfiguration notebook before I remembered the exam was over.”

Despite this, Harry was sure his troubled feelings had nothing to do with the exam. He watched as an owl flew toward school across the bright blue sky, its beak nipping at a letter. Hagrid was the only person who ever sent him a letter. Hagrid would never betray Dumbledore. Hagrid would never tell anyone how to get past Fluffy… never… but…

Suddenly Harry jumped up.

“Where are you going?” Ron asked sleepily.

“It just occurred to me,” said Harry. His face had turned pale. “We have to go see Hagrid now.”

“Why?” Hermione panted, trying to catch up to Harry.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit strange,” said Harry as he climbed the grassy slope, “that Hagrid is so desperate to have a dragon, and suddenly a stranger appears who happens to have a dragon’s egg in his pouch? How many people travel with dragon eggs, even though it is actually prohibited by wizard law? It’s a good thing they found Hagrid, right? Why didn’t I realize this before?”

“What do you mean?” Ron asked. But Harry, running across the field towards the edge of the Forest, did not answer.

Hagrid was sitting in an armchair outside his house. His trousers and shirt sleeves were rolled up and he was shelling peas which he then put into a large bowl.

“Hello,” he said, smiling. ”Finished the exam? Got time for a drink?” “There is,” said Ron, but Harry cut him off.

“No, we’re in a hurry. Hagrid, I have to ask you something. Do you remember the night you won Norbert? What was the stranger who played cards with you like?”

“Don’t know,” said Hagrid casually, “he won’t take off his hood.” Hagrid looked at the three of them in shock and he raised an eyebrow.

“It’s not so unusual, there’s a lot of strange people at the Hog’s Head—that’s the name of the drinking place in the village. It’s possible he’s a dragon trader, right? I never saw her face, she kept her veil on.”

Harry sat down next to the bowl of peas.

“What did you talk to him about? Did you mention Hogwarts?”

“Maybe,” said Hagrid frowning, trying to remember. “Yeah… he asked what I did, and I said I was the gamekeeper here… He asked a little about what creatures I kept… so I told him… and I said what I really wanted was dragons… and then… I don’t remember exactly, because he kept buying me drinks… Let me remember… yeah, then he said he had a dragon egg and we could play cards with the egg as a bet if I wanted… but he had to be sure I could take care of the dragon, he didn’t want the dragon egg to fall to a random house. So I say, after Fluffy, dragons are easy…”

“And does he—does he seem interested in Fluffy?” Harry asked, trying to keep his voice calm.

“Well—yeah—how many three-headed dogs have you met, even at Hogwarts? So I’m telling you, Fluffy is easy if you know how to calm her down. Just play music and he’ll fall asleep right away…”

Suddenly Hagrid looked frightened.

“I shouldn’t have told you!” Hagrid snapped. “Just forget what I just said! Hey—where are you guys going?”

Harry, Ron, and Hermione didn’t speak at all until they stopped in the Entrance Hall, which felt very cold and gloomy compared to the grounds outside.

“We have to see Dumbledore,” said Harry. “Hagrid told the stranger how to get past Fluffy, and whether it was Snape or Voldemort under the hood—it should be a simple matter, once he’d gotten Hagrid drunk. I just hope Dumbledore believes us. Florence might want to support us if Bane doesn’t forbid it. Where is Dumbledore’s office?”

They looked around, as if hoping to see a sign that would point them in the right direction. They had never been told where Dumbledore lived, and they had never met anyone who had ever been to Dumbledore’s residence.

“We have to…” Harry was just starting to say when suddenly a voice came from across the hall.

“What are you doing here?”

Professor McGonagall, carrying a stack of books.

“We want to see Professor Dumbledore,” said Hermione, rather boldly, Harry and Ron thought.

“Meet Professor Dumbledore?” Professor McGonagall repeated, as if it were a very strange thing. “Why?”

Harry swallowed hard—now what?

“It’s some kind of secret,” he said, then immediately regretted it, because Professor McGonagall’s nostrils flared.

“Professor Dumbledore left ten minutes ago,” he said coldly. “He received an urgent summons from the Ministry of Magic and flew straight to London.”

“He gone ?” Harry said in a panic. “Now?”

“Professor Dumbledore is a great wizard, Potter, he has a lot to do…” “But it’s important.”

“Something you want to convey more important than the Ministry of Magic, Potter?”

“You see,” said Harry, no longer hiding anything, “Professor

—this is about the Lucky Stone…”

I don’t know what Professor McGonagall expected, it certainly wasn’t that. The books he was carrying fell from his hands, but he did not pick them up.

“How do you know…?” he asked nervously.

“Professor, I think—I know —that Sn—someone will try to steal the stone. I must speak to Professor Dumbledore.”

Professor McGonagall looked at him with surprise and suspicion.

“Professor Dumbledore will be back tomorrow,” he said finally. “I don’t know how you guys knew about the stone, but don’t worry, no one can steal it, the protection is very tight.”

“But, Professor…”

“Potter, I know what I’m talking about,” he said simply. He bent down and collected his fallen books. “I suggest you all go back out and enjoy the sunshine.”

But they didn’t do that.

“Definitely tonight,” said Harry, once he was sure Professor McGonagall couldn’t hear him. “Snape will come through the trapdoor tonight. He had managed to find out everything he needed to and he had managed to get rid of Dumbledore. He was the one who sent the letter. “I’m sure the Ministry of Magic will be shocked once Dumbledore shows up.”

“But what can we…”

Hermione was flabbergasted. Harry and Ron turned around. There’s Snape. “Good afternoon,” he said smoothly.

They stared at him wide-eyed.

“You guys shouldn’t be inside on such a beautiful day,” he said with a strange smile.

“We just…” said Harry, not knowing what he was going to say.

“You should have been more careful,” said Snape. “Rumors like this, people will think you are going to do something. And it would be very risky for Gryffindor to lose even more points, right?”

Harry’s face flushed. They turned to leave, but Snape called them back.

“Remember, Potter – once again wandering around at night, I will personally see to it that you are expelled. Good afternoon.”

He walked towards the teacher’s room.

Descending the stone steps outside, Harry turned to his two friends. “Okay, this is what we’re going to do,” he whispered tensely. “One of us

had to spy on Snape—wait outside the staff room and follow him when he came out. Hermione, you’d better do it.”

“Why me?”

“Obviously why,” said Ron. “You can pretend you’re waiting for Professor Flitwick, right?” Ron raised his voice. “Oh, Professor Flitwick, I’m so worried, I think my answer to question fourteen b is wrong…”

“Oh, shut up,” said Hermione, but she agreed to spy on Snape.

“And we’d better stay out of the third floor corridor,” Harry told Ron. “Come on.”

But this part of the plan could not be implemented. Just as they reached the door that separated Fluffy from the rest of the school, Professor McGonagall appeared again, and this time she was furious.

“You guys think you’re harder to break than a set of magic spells!” he blurted out. ”Enough of this nonsense! If I hear you’re anywhere near here again, I’ll deduct another fifty points from Gryffindor! Yes, Weasley, from my own dorm!”

Harry and Ron returned to the common room. Harry had just said, “At least Hermione was watching Snape,” when the portrait of the Fat Lady swung open and Hermione entered.

“Sorry, Harry!” he wailed. “Snape came out and asked what I was doing, so I said I was waiting for Flitwick, and Snape came in for him. I had to rush away. I don’t know where Snape has gone.”

“What can be done then, right?” said Harry.

His two friends looked at him. Harry’s face was pale and his eyes were sparkling.

“I’m going there tonight and I’m going to try to get the stone first.”

“You are crazy!” Ron said.

“Don’t!” said Hermione. “After McGonagall and Snape threatened you like that? You will be expelled!”

“SO WHAT?” Harry shouted. “Don’t you understand? If Snape manages to get the stone, Voldemort will return! Haven’t you heard what happened when he tried to take power? There’s no more Hogwarts, so we can’t be expelled! He would tear it down, or turn it into a school for Dark Magic! Losing points doesn’t matter anymore, don’t you understand? Do you think he will let you and your family live in peace if Gryffindor wins the House Cup? If I was caught before I reached where the stone was kept, well, I would have to go back to the Dursleys and wait for Voldemort to find me there. That just means I’m delaying death for a bit, because I don’t want to cross over into Dark Magic! I’m going through the trapdoor tonight and whatever

you say, you won’t be able to stop me! Voldemort killed my parents, remember?”

He glared at them.

“You’re right, Harry,” said Hermione quietly.

“I’ll wear the Invisibility Cloak,” said Harry. “Fortunately the robe was returned to me.”

“But will the cloak cover the three of us?” Ron asked. ”Y-three of us?”

“Oh, sure, how could we let you go alone?”

“Of course not,” said Hermione firmly. “How do you think you can reach the stone place without us? I’d better look in my books, who knows if there’s anything useful…”

“But if we get caught, you two will be expelled too.”

“Not if I can help it,” said Hermione gravely. “Flitwick told me a secret, that I was getting one hundred and twelve percent in his lessons. They wouldn’t have let me out with such high grades.”

After dinner the three of them sat restlessly, separated from each other in the common room. Nothing disturbed them; none of the Gryffindors wanted to talk to Harry anymore anyway. Tonight was the first time Harry didn’t feel sad about it. Hermione skimmed through all the notes, hoping to find one of the magics they were trying to eradicate. Harry and Ron didn’t say much. Both of them thought about what they would do soon.

Slowly the room became empty as the children one by one went to sleep.

“Better get the cloak now,” muttered Ron, when finally Lee Jordan left, stretching and yawning. Harry ran upstairs, into their dark room. He pulled back his cloak and then he saw the flute a Christmas gift from Hagrid. He pocketed the flute to use on Fluffy—she didn’t feel like singing.

Harry ran back to the common room.

“We’d better wear his cloak here, and we make sure it covers the three of us—if Filch sees a piece of our leg walking alone…”

“What are you doing?” came a voice from the corner of the room. Neville appeared from behind the chair, holding Trevor the frog, who looked like he was just trying to escape.

“It’s all right, Neville,” said Harry quickly, hiding his cloak behind his back.

Neville looked at their guilty faces. “You’re going out again,” he commented.

“No, no, no,” said Hermione. “We won’t go out. Why don’t you go to sleep, Neville?”

Harry looked at the large clock that stood near the door. They couldn’t afford to waste any more time. Maybe Snape was playing music now to put Fluffy to sleep.

“You can’t go out,” said Neville, “you’ll be caught again.

Gryffindor will be even worse.”

“You don’t understand,” said Harry. “This is important.”

But Neville clearly steeled himself for reckless action.

“I won’t let you out,” he said as he hurried to stand in front of the painting hole. “I—I will fight you!”

” Neville ,” Ron exploded, “get out of that hole and don’t be stupid…”

“Don’t call me stupid!” said Neville. “I think you can no longer break the rules! And you are the ones who advise me to be brave against what is not right!”

“Yes, but not against us ,” said Ron desperately. “Neville, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Ron took a step forward and Neville dropped Trevor the frog who immediately jumped out of sight.

“Come on, then try hitting me!” said Neville, raising his fist. “I am ready!”

Harry turned to Hermione. “Do something,” he said in despair. Hermione stepped forward.

“Neville,” he said, “I’m sorry, I had to do this.” He raised his cane.

”Petrificus Totalus!” he exclaimed, pointing at Neville.

Neville’s arms closed to his sides. His legs were stuck together. His entire body went stiff, he staggered in place

stood up and then fell flat, stiff as a board.

Hermione ran to lay him on his back. Neville’s jaw was locked so he couldn’t speak. Only his eyes twitched, looking at them in horror.

“What did you do to him?” Harry whispered.

“The Perfect Body Binding Curse,” said Hermione miserably. “Oh, Neville, sorry-sorry-sorry.”

“We had to, Neville, there’s no time to explain,” said Harry. “You’ll understand later, Neville,” said Ron, when they

stepped over it and put on the Invisibility Cloak.

But leaving a motionless Neville lying on the floor didn’t bode well. Alarmed, to them the silhouette of the statue looked like Filch, all the wind rustling in the distance sounded like Peeves gliding down towards them.

At the foot of the first flight of stairs they saw Mrs Norris skulking near the top of the stairs.

“Oh, let’s kick him, just this once,” Ron whispered into Harry’s ear, but Harry shook his head. As they carefully climbed past it, Mrs Norris directed her flashlight-like eyes at them, but did nothing.

They didn’t meet anyone else until they arrived at the stairs leading to the third floor. Peeves was in the middle of the stairs, removing the carpet so that passers-by would trip.

“Who’s that?” he said suddenly as they climbed towards him. He narrowed his cruel black eyes. “I know you’re there, even though I can’t see you. Are you a ghost or a wayward student?”

Peeves floated up and looked at them.

“You have to call Filch, you have to, if there’s an invisible creature wandering around.”

Suddenly Harry got an idea.

“Peeves,” he said, in a hoarse whisper, “the Bloody Baron has his own reasons for not appearing.”

Peeves almost fell out of the air from the shock. But he managed to control himself and hovered about thirty inches from the stairs.

“I’m so sorry, Bloody One, Mr Baron, sir,” he said fawningly. “My fault, my fault—I didn’t see you—of course not, you didn’t

look—pardon Peevsie’s little joke, Sir.”

“I have business here, Peeves,” said Harry hoarsely. “Get far away from this place tonight.”

“Okay, sir, I’ll go,” said Peeves, floating up again. “Hopefully your affairs run smoothly, Baron. I won’t bother you.”

And he floated away. “Brilliant, Harry!” Ron whispered.

A few seconds later, they were outside the third floor corridor

—and the door was already ajar.

“Wow,” said Harry grimly. “Apparently Snape has gotten past Fluffy.”

Seeing the open door, the three realized what they were about to face. Under the cloak, Harry turned to his two friends.

“If you want to come back, I won’t blame you,” he said. “You can wear this robe, I don’t need it anymore.”

“Don’t be stupid,” said Ron.

“We’re coming,” said Hermione.

Harry pushed the door open.

When the door creaked, their ears caught the sound of a low growl. The dog’s three pairs of nostrils sniffed wildly at them, even though it couldn’t see them.

“What’s that on his leg?” whispered Hermione.

“It looks like a harp,” replied Ron. “Surely Snape left it there.”

“The dog must have woken up as soon as Snape stopped playing,” said Harry. “Well, now it’s our turn…”

Harry put Hagrid’s flute to his lips and blew into it. It couldn’t be called a song, but as soon as it heard the first note, the animal’s eyes began to dim. Harry barely dared to take a breath. Gradually, the dog’s growls died down—he staggered and crumpled on his knees, then collapsed to the floor, fast asleep.

“Keep playing,” Ron warned Harry as they emerged from under the robes and tiptoed towards the trapdoor. They can

felt the dog’s hot, smelly breath as they approached the giant heads.

“I think we’ll be able to open the door,” said Ron, looking over the dog’s back. “Want to come in first, Hermione?”


“Okay.” Ron gritted his teeth and carefully stepped over the dog’s legs. He bent down and pulled the rings on the trapdoor, which snapped up and opened.

“What can you see?” Hermione asked worriedly.

“Nothing—it’s just dark—no stairs down, we have to jump.”

Harry, still blowing his flute, waved at Ron and showed himself off.

“You want to go down first? Certain?” Ron asked. “I don’t know how deep it is. Give the flute to Hermione so she can keep the dog sleeping.”

Harry handed over his flute. In the few seconds without the flute blowing, the dog growled and moved, but as soon as Hermione began to blow, he fell back into a deep sleep.

Harry jumped over the dog and looked down through the trapdoor. The bottom is completely invisible.

He descended into the hole until he was only hanging on by the tips of his toes. Then he looked up at Ron and said: “If anything happens to me, don’t follow me. Go straight to the owl cage and send Hedwig to Dumbledore. Okay?”

“Okay,” Kata Ron.

“I’ll see you in a bit, hopefully…” And Harry let go of his grip. The cold, damp air hit him as he fell, deeper and deeper and…

BLUK. With a muffled thud, he landed on something soft. Harry sat up and felt around, his eyes not yet used to the dimness. He seemed to be sitting on some kind of plant.

“Safe!” he shouted at the postage-stamp-sized light that was the trapdoor. “The landing is soft, you can jump!”

Ron immediately followed. He landed on his back next to Harry. “What’s this?” were his first words.

“I don’t know, some kind of plant. I guess it’s here to stick the landing. Come on, Hermione!”

The sound of music in the distance stopped. There was a loud bark of dogs, but Hermione had already jumped. He landed on Harry’s other side.

“We must be thousands of meters below the school,” he said. “Luckily there’s this plant here,” said Ron.

“Profit?!” screamed Hermione. ”Look at you two!”

Hermione jumped and tried to make her way to the damp wall. He had to struggle because as soon as he landed, the plant immediately wrapped its snake-like tendrils around his ankles. Meanwhile, Harry and Ron, without realizing it, had their legs wrapped tightly around the long tendrils of the vines.

Hermione managed to free herself before the plant wrapped itself tightly around her. Now he looked in horror at his two friends who were struggling to remove the plant from their bodies, but the more they tried, the stronger the plant became.

”Stop moving!” Hermione ordered. “I know what it is—it’s Satan’s Snare!”

“Oh, I’m so glad we know the name of this plant, it’s really helpful,” sneered Ron as he tilted his body back, trying to stop the plant getting wrapped around his neck.

”Shut up, I’m trying to remember how to kill him!” said Hermione.

“Hurry up then, I can’t breathe!” said Harry breathlessly, struggling with the tendrils wrapped around his chest.

”Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare… What did Professor Sprout say?

This plant likes darkness and humidity…” “Then light a fire!” Harry choked.

“Yes—of course—but there’s no wood!” Hermione exclaimed, wringing her hands.


“Oh, right!” said Hermione, and she drew her wand. Shaking it, muttering something and managing to send a blue flame—the same one he’d used on Snape in the stadium—at the plant. In just a few seconds, both boys felt

the entanglement of the tendrils loosened as the plant shrank away in fear from the bright flame and warmth. Wriggling and waving, the plant released its entanglement and they managed to free themselves. “It’s a good thing you were paying attention in Herbology, Hermione,” said Harry as he joined her by the wall, wiping away the sweat

from his face.

“Yeah,” said Ron, “and it’s a good thing Harry didn’t panic in the crisis—’no wood,’ for heaven’s sake .”

“This way,” said Harry, pointing down a stone-paved passage that was the only way there.

The only sound they could hear, apart from their own footsteps, were the soft drops of water falling from the walls. The hallway went downhill, reminding Harry of Gringotts. His heart jolted as he remembered the dragons that were said to guard the vaults in the wizards’ bank. What if they met a dragon, a real grown dragon—Norbert alone would be very troublesome.…

“Did you hear anything?” Ron whispered.

Harry listened. A soft crunching and tinkling sound came from the front.

“You think it’s a ghost?”

”I dunno… sounds like wings to me.” “It was bright up ahead—I could see something moving.”

They reached the end of the hall and saw before them a brightly lit room, the ceiling arching high above them. The room was full of small birds that glittered like jewels, flying around the room. On the other side of the room was a heavy wooden door.

“Will they attack if we cross this room?” Ron said.

“Maybe,” said Harry. “I don’t think they’re fierce, but if they attack at the same time… well, there’s no other way… I want to run.”

Harry took a deep breath, covered his face with his arms and ran across the room. He thought the sharp beak and claws would tear him to shreds at any moment, but they didn’t. He arrived at the door safely. He pulled the door handle. The door was locked.

His two friends followed him. They pulled and pushed on the door, but it didn’t budge, not even when Hermione tried her Alohomora Charm.

“What now?” Ron said.

“These birds… they can’t be here just for decoration,” said Hermione.

They watched the birds flying overhead, sparkling

— sparkling ?

“They are not birds!” said Harry suddenly. “That’s the key ! Winged locks—look closely. That means…” Harry looked around the room while his two friends squinted at the cluster of keys. “Yes—look! Broom! We have to catch the key to that door!”

“But there are hundreds of keys!”

Ron studied the keyhole in the door.

“What we’re looking for is a large ancient key—probably silver, like the doorknob.”

They each grabbed a broom and yanked upwards, flying into the middle of the cluster of keys. They grabbed and snatched, but the enchanted keys slid and dived so fast, they were almost impossible to catch.

But it’s not in vain that Harry is the youngest Seeker of this century. He has a talent for seeing things that other people don’t see. After a few minutes of weaving through the swirls of rainbow feathers, he saw a large silver key whose wings were bent, as if it had been caught and roughly shoved into the keyhole.

“That one!” he shouted. “That big one—over there—no, that—the one with the bright blue wings—the feathers are matted on one side.”

Ron launched himself in the direction Harry was pointing, hitting the ceiling and nearly falling off his broom.

“We have to surround him!” Harry shouted, without taking his eyes off the key with the broken wing. “Ron, you come at him from above—Hermione, stay down and stop the key from going down—and I’ll try to catch him. Good. NOW!”

Ron dived, Hermione flashed, the key managed to evade them both and Harry launched after it. The key flew towards the wall, Harry leaned forward and there was a crunch

painful to the ears, pinning him against the wall with one hand. Ron and Hermione’s cheers echoed through the high-ceilinged room.

They landed quickly and Harry ran for the door, the key in his hand flailing in an attempt to get free. Harry put it in the hole and turned it—it worked. As soon as it clicked open, the key immediately flew out again, its shape even more messy now, after being caught twice.

“Ready?” Harry asked his two friends, his hands gripping the door handle. They nodded. The door opened.

The next room was so dark that they couldn’t see anything at all. But as soon as they stepped inside, light suddenly filled the room, revealing an astonishing sight.

They stood at the edge of a giant chessboard, behind black pieces, all of which were taller than them and carved from—apparently—black stone. Facing them, far across the room, were the white pieces. Harry, Ron, and Hermione trembled slightly—the white chess pieces had no faces.

”Now, what should we do?” Harry whispered.

“Explain?” said Ron. “We have to play to get to the other side of the room.”

Behind the white pieces they saw another door. “How?” Hermione asked worriedly.

“I think,” said Ron, “we should be chess pieces.”

Ron walked over to the black officer and reached out to touch his horse. Immediately the stone came to life. His horse pawed at the ground and the officer turned his helmeted head to look down at Ron.

“Do we—er—have to join you to get across?”

The black officer nodded. Ron turned to his two friends.

“This requires thinking…” he said. ”I think we should take the three black pieces…”

Harry and Hermione remained silent, watching Ron think. Finally Ron said, “No offense, but neither of you are very good at chess…”

“We’re not offended,” said Harry quickly. “Just tell us what to do.”

“Well, Harry, you take the minister’s place, and Hermione, you next to him, in the castle’s place.”

“How about you?”

“I’m going to be an officer,” said Ron.

The chess pieces apparently listened, because as soon as Ron said that, the officer, minister, and rook turned their backs on the white pieces and walked off the chess board, leaving three empty squares which Ron, Harry, and Hermione immediately occupied.

“White always goes first in chess,” said Ron, squinting across. ”Yeah… look…”

One white pawn moves forward two squares. Ron started aiming at the black pieces. They moved silently following his orders. Harry’s knees trembled. What if they lose?

“Harry, move diagonally four squares to the right.”

Their first blow came when the other black officer was taken prisoner. The white queen slams him to the floor and drags him off the board. The officer lay motionless, prone.

“It can’t be helped,” said Ron, looking shaken. “You’re free to take that minister captive, Hermione, come on.”

Every time one of their members lost, the white pieces showed no mercy. Soon a collection of limp black pieces slumped along the wall. Twice, Ron realized in time that Harry and Hermione were in danger. He himself darted to and fro across the board, capturing almost as many white pieces as he lost.

“We’re almost there,” Ron suddenly muttered. “Let me think—let me think…”

The white queen turned her blank face towards him.

“Yes…,” said Ron slowly, “it’s the only way… I have to be taken prisoner.” “NO!” Harry and Hermione squealed.

“That’s how chess is!” said Ron. “Something has to be sacrificed! I’ll step forward one square and the white queen will capture me—so you’re free to check the king, Harry!”


“Are you going to stop Snape or not?”


“If you don’t hurry, Snape will already have the stone!”

There’s no other choice. “Ready?” Ron exclaimed, his face pale but determined. “I surrender—don’t tarry once you’ve won.”

Ron stepped forward and the white queen pounced. She hit Ron hard on the head with her stone hand and Ron immediately fell to the floor—Hermione screamed but stayed in her quarters—the white queen dragged Ron aside. It looks like he passed out.

Trembling, Harry moved three spaces to the left.

The white king took off his crown and threw it at Harry’s feet. They’ve won. The chess pieces stepped aside and bowed, the path to the door now unimpeded. With a final desperate glance at Ron, Harry and Hermione ran through the door and arrived in the next hallway.

”What if he…?”

“He’ll be fine,” said Harry, trying to reassure himself. “What do you think is next?”

“We’re past Sprout’s creation—the Devil’s Snare, Flitwick must have enchanted the keys, McGonagall transfigured the chess pieces—bringing them to life, all that’s left is Quirrell’s spell, and Snape…”

They had arrived at the next door. ”Open now?” Harry whispered.

”Just open it.”

Harry pushed it open.

A disgusting smell hit their noses, making them both pull their robes to cover their noses. With watery eyes they saw, lying on the floor in front of them, a troll even larger than the mountain troll they had defeated, collapsed with a bloody lump on its head.

“I’m glad we don’t have to fight him,” whispered Harry, as they carefully stepped over one of his enormous legs. “Come on, hurry up, I can’t breathe.”

Harry opened the door to the next room, both of them barely daring to look at what awaited them – but there was nothing

it’s scary here, just a table with seven bottles of different shapes standing in a row.

“Snape’s handiwork,” said Harry. “What should we do?”

They stepped over the threshold and suddenly the fire roared behind them. Not ordinary fire, because the color is purple. At the same time, black flames ignited at the door leading to the next room. They are trapped.

“Look!” Hermione grabbed a roll of paper that was lying next to the bottles. Harry looked over Hermione’s shoulder to read along:

Danger is in front of you, while security is behind you ,

We’ll both help you, who knows which one you’ll find ,

One of the seven of us will lead you forward to the next room ,

Another makes its drinker return to its original place , Two of us are only filled with delicious wine ,

Three of us are murderers, hiding waiting for the right moment.

Choose, if you don’t want to be here sulking forever ,

To help you make your choice, we provide four pointers:

First, no matter how cunning the poison tries to hide ,

You will always find it next to the grapes on the left side; Second, those standing at each end contain other contents ,

But if you want to go forward, neither of you should play games;

Thirdly, as you can clearly see, all the bottles are different sizes , both the small ones and the giant ones contain death within them; Fourth, the second from the left and from the right ,

The content is the same, even though at first it seems different.

Hermione breathed a sigh of relief, and Harry was surprised to see her smile, because he didn’t want to smile at all.

“Brilliant,” said Hermione. “This isn’t magic—it’s logic—a puzzle. Many great wizards who have no logic at all, will be trapped

here forever.”

“So do we, right?”

“Of course not,” said Hermione. ”Everything we need is on this paper. Seven bottles: three of them poison; two wines, one will carry us safely through the black fire, and the other will carry us back through the purple fire.”

“But how do we know which one to drink?” ”Give me a minute.”

Hermione read the paper several times. Then he walked back and forth in front of the row of bottles, muttering to himself and pointing at the bottles. Finally he clapped.

“I know,” he said. “The smallest bottle will take us through the black fire—to the Philosopher’s Stone.”

Harry looked at the tiny little bottle.

“It only contains enough for one person,” he said. “Not even one sip.”

They looked at each other.

”Which one can take you through the purple flames?” Hermione pointed to a round bottle at the end of the row.

“You drink that one,” said Harry. “No, listen – go back and get Ron – get the broom from the flying key room, it can get you out of the trap door and past Fluffy too – go straight to the owl cage and send Hedwig to Dumbledore, we need her. I may be able to hold off Snape for a while, but I’m no match for him at all.”

“But, Harry—what if You-Know-Who was with him?”

“Well—I was lucky once, wasn’t I?” Harry said, pointing at his scar. “Who knows, I might get lucky again.”

Hermione’s lips trembled and suddenly she ran over to Harry and hugged him.


“Harry—you’re a great wizard.”

“I’m not as clever as you,” said Harry, very embarrassed, when Hermione let go.

“I!” said Hermione. “Books! And cleverness! There are many other important things—friendship and courage and—oh, Harry—careful,


“You drink first,” said Harry. “You’re sure which bottle is the right one, right?”

“Certainly,” said Hermione. He drank the contents of the round bottle, and he shuddered. ”Not poison?” Harry asked worriedly.

“No—but like ice.”

“Quickly, before the benefits wear off.” “Good luck—take care of yourself…” “GO!”

Hermione turned and stepped through the purple flames.

Harry took a deep breath and took the smallest bottle. He turned to face the black flames.

“I’m coming,” he said and finished the contents of the small bottle in one gulp.

It was as if ice was flowing through his body. He put the bottle back and stepped forward. He dared himself. He saw black flames licking his body, but he felt nothing. For a moment he could see nothing but black flames—the next thing he knew he was on the other side, in the final room.

There was someone else there already – but not Snape. Not even Voldemort.

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