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When Harry arrives at the mirror, Quirrell and his passenger stand before it, frustrated. Given the nature of the spell explained by Dumbledore, they were seemingly doomed to remain frustrated indefinitely, or perhaps until Dumbledore turned up.

Harry's arrival seems, superficially, to make the situation much worse. His intense curiosity about the stone leads to its delivery to his pocket, from which Q/V might, theoretically, have extracted it by force if they had the wit to avoid directly touching Harry.

So, were the adults correct all along that 'our heros' were meddling outside their competence?

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    What you need to remember is that Voldemort is an insanely powerful wizard. The fact that he has been momentarily thwarted doesn't mean that he can't steal the mirror or wouldn't have eventually worked out how to get the stone out of it. Note that Fred and George (for example) were able to guess the phrase to work the Marauder's Map through trial and error.
    – Valorum
    Feb 7 at 13:17
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    Yes, I think Harry and co certainly didn't help anything. Dumbledore had the situation well in hand - the mirror was the true barrier to the stone, and Dumbledore arrives back from London as Harry is grappling with Quirrel, well before he'd have been able to get the stone. As to why Dumbledore lets them go after it in the first place, we just have Harry's surmise that he wanted to give Harry a chance to face Voldemort.
    – Showsni
    Feb 7 at 14:11

1 Answer 1

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By arriving at the scene, Harry certainly made a very clear pathway for extracting the stone from the mirror. We can't know for sure what might have happened had Harry not been there. Perhaps the mirror would have prevented Voldemort from getting the stone altogether -- Dumbledore seemed to think it was effective protection -- or perhaps not. Voldemort can be very determined, after all.

To answer the title question, though: yes, Harry and co. did save the day: Voldemort did not get the stone, and in fact, was set back a few paces, directly as a result of the actions of Harry and friends. But also yes: they very nearly did lose the day. Things could have gone badly if Harry never had a chance to discover the effect his own skin could have on Quirrell.

As to the final question - "were the adults correct all along that 'our heros' were meddling outside their competence?" - it's worthwhile to point out that perhaps not all adults held this view. Dumbledore, in particular, might have specifically intended Harry to get to the final showdown. As we see Harry ruminating at the end of the book:

"D'you think he meant you to do it?" said Ron. "Sending you your father's Cloak and everything?"

"Well," Hermione exploded, if he did – I mean to say – that's terrible – you could have been killed."

"No, it isn't," said Harry thoughtfully. "He's a funny man, Dumbledore. I think he sort of wanted to give me a chance. I think he knows more or less everything that goes on here, you know. I reckon he had a pretty good idea we were going to try, and instead of stopping us, he just taught us enough to help. I don't think it was an accident he let me find out how the mirror worked. It's almost like he thought I had the right to face Voldemort if I could...."

This vaguely resembles Dumbledore's own words when he later on reveals information to Severus Snape in the Deathly Hallows:

"We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength," said Dumbledore, his eyes still tight shut.

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    Dumbledore, of course, has little or no compunction about employing child soldiers against his former pupil-turned-rival.
    – Valorum
    Feb 7 at 18:42
  • It's important to note that saving the Philosopher's Stone was only part of the victory. Unmasking Quirrell, and removing Voldemort from a host that gave him access to Hogwart's, was of great value.
    – tbrookside
    Feb 7 at 19:22
  • @tbrookside If we agree with Harry that Dumbledore knows everything that goes on there, then Harry didn't reveal anything and didn't do anything that Dumbledore couldn't have done himself. If Quirrell had used magic instead of muggle methods, Voldemort would have the stone and Harry would be dead.
    – RalfFriedl
    Feb 9 at 8:35
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    @RalfFriedl Nothing about the plot of Philosopher's Stone makes any sense, at all, if we start assuming that Dumbledore knew all along that Voldemort was on the back of Quirrell's head. It all becomes absurd in a way that no "Harry was being trained all along!" argument can redeem.
    – tbrookside
    Feb 9 at 13:39

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