This chapter is so chock-full of goodness, I almost don't know where to start! Almost.
One of the things that makes this chapter so wonderful, is that this is when we really get to see Rowling's genius for storytelling. By the time I read Philosopher's Stone for the first time, I'd read enough mysteries to know that the "bad guy" probably wouldn't be Snape, but I certainly wasn't expecting Quirrel! However, as Harry looks back at all the clues he had through the year, you quickly realize that sure enough, Rowling had been telling you who it was all along. Of course, by the second reading it's blatantly obvious and you don't know how you could have missed it! This ability of Rowling's to turn a sentence into a major plot development will continue throughout the series, but here's where we see it for the first time.
As interesting as the mystery is, for me it's everything that comes after the confrontation with Voldemort that I truly love. This is due, in large part, to Rowling's other forte, world building. You see, while I love the story of Good vs. Evil, it's the characters and places that keep me coming back, making the denouements some of my favorite parts of the series. All the worry and angst is over, and we just get to hang out with our friends in a magic castle. Who wouldn't want that?
This is also the point where I fall head over heels in love with Dumbledore. The way he talks to Harry, treating him like an adult (or so it seems at this point, of course knowing what we know from Order of the Phoenix, he could have done just a bit more) and promising not to lie is very endearing. Although, I will say, this time through I noticed the line "I do believe [Snape] worked so hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and your father even." and can't help but think that, at the very least, that wasn't the whole truth. Dumbledore knows how Snape felt about Lily and must realize that's a much stronger reason for Snape to want to keep Harry alive. I also wonder if Dumbledore is already grooming Harry for his future in light of the prophecy when he tells him "...death is but the next great adventure."
Dumbledore then solidifies his place in my heart by making sure that it's Neville's points that put Gryffindor over the edge for the House Championship. I'm getting all verklempt again just thinking about it.
There are so many other little moments to love in this chapter, the callback to the toilet seat joke, Dumbledore eating the jelly bean, the photo album Hagrid makes for Harry to name a few, that it would be impossible for me to mention them all here, so I'm going to ask you to do it. Is there something you love about this chapter you think I forgot? A way of looking at this chapter I might not have thought about? Share your ideas in the comments!