Harry gets a late Christmas present and decides to test it out.
[*To all of you who are still wondering when the whole "Hermione Thing" is going to work itself out: relatively soon. Wait and see. It will take a few more chapters, but I promise it will happen. Please continue to be patient. I want this to come as a nasty shock for her and her friends, which means it has to go on for a little longer. (Sometimes I worry about how sadistic I am).
"What is it?" Hermione asked, eying the object Harry was examining in his hands. It looked like silken blanket, dark red with strange designs sown into it. The object had arrived in the morning mail, along with a note requesting it be opened "in private."
"I think it's a Cloak of Invisibility," Daphne said. "I've heard of them, but never seen one before; they're very difficult to make and don't last very long, so there aren't very many of them around."
"So this one probably doesn't work anymore?" the brunette asked. "The note says it was your father's, and it's been in . . . whoever's possession for ten years, at least."
"My Mum said Dad used to have an Invisibility Cloak that was centuries old," Harry said, staring into the fabric. "It was some kind of family heirloom; no one knew where it came from or how it still worked, but it did." The young wizard sighed as he continued to feel the cloak; he thought he could feel his father through it. "Maybe, I should try it on?" he mused.
"You're going to put on a cloak given to you by someone you don't know?" Daphne asked. "Harry, aren't you the one who usually calls me reckless?"
"I'm certain it's all right," Hermione said, causing the others to turn to her. "I mean . . . wouldn't the school's wards have stopped it if it was anything really dangerous?"
"I guess," Harry said, not really sure how the school's magical defenses worked.
". . . It makes sense, I suppose," Daphne admitted, although she was secretly feeling the solid wall behind her while screaming in her mind, Is this a dream? What in Merlin's name is going on here? How am I the cautious one?
"Anyway, I think I know how to use it," Harry said. The others looked at him. "We know Voldemort's somewhere on the Grounds, and we know that there's a Philosopher's Stone hidden beneath the trap door in the third floor corridor . . ."
"Harry . . ." Hermione asked. "What are you suggesting?"
"Surveillance," he answered. "I don't feel safe letting Voldemort do whatever he wants near something that valuable."
"The Stone's protected," the Gryffindor witch pointed out.
"But we're talking about one of the most powerful Dark wizards of all time," Daphne mused. "I doubt a giant, three-headed dog would really impress him very much."
"But, what can Harry do?" Hermione asked.
"I can watch the door," Harry pointed out. "I don't expect I can win a real fight, but . . . some weird things have been going on this year. The Troll getting in, my broom getting jinxed,"—that was the only conclusion anyone had been able to come up with regarding Harry's strange experience during Quidditch—"Someone in the school is responsible for those, and I want to find out who it is and if they want the Stone."
"You think Voldemort might have an agent inside the school?" Hermione asked.
"Maybe," Harry shrugged. "Anyway, it would make me feel better to have a look around . . ."
One Week later, Harry was starting to think his grand plan to catch the troublemaker in the act was going bust. An older person might have known that the odds of seeing anything were slim to none, but, while Magicals developed faster than Muggles physically and emotionally, Harry was still only eleven years old and only had and eleven-year-old's experiences to work with. As such, he had spent a number of hours each night for the past seven days wandering about the hallways (he had very quickly grown bored with simply watching Fluffy's door) under his father's Cloak trying to find evidence of someone working some manner of mischief.
It was at the point where if nothing happened in the next night or two, Harry was going to throw this idea in the can and go back to the drawing board; his fiancé and best friend were already urging him to do so, anyway.
Then it happened. Harry saw a figure creep through the corridors, a small one (though bigger than Professor Flitwick), probably a student. Whoever it was had a cloak pulled up around their face, so Harry couldn't see who it was. For a moment, he debated following the person: the figure was headed away from the corridor, and he somehow doubted that Voldemort would shrink himself down to sneak into the castle. Ultimately, Harry's own curiosity got the better of him and he followed the cloaked figure down the hall.
It was a good thing he had decided so quickly; he only just managed to catch sight of the mystery person disappearing into one of the classrooms. Harry hurried after . . . only to mentally curse himself when he realized that he had forgotten something incredibly important: a Cloak of Invisibility does not stop people from noticing when doors swing open . . . apparently on their own.
"Who's there?" the figure asked, whipping out her—the voice was definitely a girl's—wand and pointing it in the direction of the door.
Harry hesitated for a moment. On one hand, he could use the disarming spell Severus had taught him—having an experienced duelist as an adopted uncle had a lot of perks—but that seemed like the wrong foot to start off on. Instead, he pulled off the Cloak (but kept his wand hidden in his hand). "Sorry," he said. "I don't want to hurt you."
"Potter?" the girl asked, lowering her wand. "What are you doing here?"
"Tracey?" Harry asked. The girl pulled down her hood, and Harry saw it was indeed Tracey Davis, another First-Year Slytherin. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
Tracey fiddled with her wand. Standing a little shorter than Hermione or Daphne, she was a brunette, but darker than Hermione, and (unlike his friend's long, bushy mane), her hair was strait, and was cut to chin-length. She had dark brown eyes that were trying not to look at Harry, and her pale cheeks darkened. "I'm waiting for someone," she said. "It doesn't matter. Why did you follow me?"
"I—"Harry started, but stopped when the sound of footsteps began to approach the door.
"Tracey?" a new voice asked. "Are you here—[/huh!" The newcomer gasped as she stepped into the room and saw Harry. "Who are you?" she asked. "What are you doing here?"
"Susan Bones?" Harry asked. It was indeed the heir of the Bones family. Harry hadn't had much contact with her, but he had seen her in the halls and classrooms plenty of times over the past few months. Susan was actually easy to recognize; she had strawberry-blond hair and (although all wizards and witches started to develop faster than their Muggle counterparts) her hips and bust were larger than most of her year-mates'.
"Harry Potter?" she asked. "Why are you here?" she turned to Tracey. "Did you—?"
"No!" Tracey interjected. 'I had no idea . . . What are you doing here, Potter?" she asked, turning back to Harry.
Harry shrugged. "I was looking for suspicious people," he answered. "A lot of weird stuff's happened this year: the Troll getting in, my broom going crazy at the Quidditch match, the unicorns dying in the Forest," Malfoy had complained about being made to chase after something that could kill unicorns, so the whole school knew about that, "and I want to know who or what's doing it."
"And, you expect to find it by hiding in an Invisibility Cloak and wandering the corridors late at night?" Tracey responded, her arms crossed and one eyebrow raised.
Harry blushed. "I was about to give up when I saw you," he replied.
"What would you have done?" Susan asked. "Even the teachers don't know how to deal with whatever's in the Forest, and you're just a First Year!"
Harry blushed. Why do girls have to be so smart? "I know. I'm not planning to fight it."
"Then what were you planning to do, Potter?" Tracey inquired.
". . . I don't know; spy on them," Harry said. Tracey snorted, and Susan . . . tried to pick her jaw off the floor. "Look, I know it's not the best idea," he said, "but I can't just sit back and let whoever this is keep messing with us like this! People could get really hurt if someone doesn't do something. My mother taught me that if you have the power to help others you have the responsibility to, and with this Cloak I can do something!" Few who knew her would have guessed Lily was a Marvel Comics fan, but Spider-man's noble struggle and the fact that the X-men were victims of discrimination and witch-hunts had given their stories a certain appeal to her. "So, mind telling me why you're here? You don't have to, but . . ."
Susan sighed. "Well, fair's fair, I suppose. Tracey asked me to come here tonight to meet with her to discuss . . . something."
Tracey growled. "Something personal; none of your business, Potter."
"Tracey!" Susan exclaimed. "There's no need for you to be so—"
"It's all right," Harry interrupted. "I told you; you don't have to tell me why you're here. I don't think either of you are behind this, so—"
"Meow," a tiny, inhuman voice called out in the halls.
All three students became statues. No, they weren't statues; they froze like ancient fish trapped in ice. They barely breathed, made no sound, until they heard a sour, old voice call out, "That's right, Mrs. Norris, lead me to them. I know there's some trouble-making brats out and about tonight."
Then, all three of the out and about students turned towards each other and mouthed a single word: Filch!
They blinked rapidly, turning to one another, still not speaking. What could they say? What could they do? If they crept out, Filch would see them for sure. They could probably outrun him, but the old caretaker would interview the portraits and the ghosts in the morning. One of the odd facets of Hogwarts was that neither of these groups would reveal curfew-breakers to the faculty . . . unless asked to. Then, there was no escape . . .
Unless they didn't see you, Harry realized. Quickly, he bent down and scooped up the Cloak. Stay here, he mouthed to the girls. Then, he wrapped the Cloak around himself and ran out of the room, stomping very loudly.
"There's one! After him!" Filch's voice cried. Mrs. Norris hissed as the pair gave chase.
As Filch's voice grew fainter and fainter, both girls were left to ponder one elusive, troubling question, Why did he do that?
Harry ran down the hall. He was no longer stomping; he was sure that Tracey and Susan had gotten away by now. Now, he was trying to save himself.
That was easier said than done. Filch may have been old, but Harry couldn't shake him or Mrs. Norris, who's nose was probably what was keeping the caretaker on his trail. Sometimes Harry thought he'd lost them, only to hear them again coming from a different direction. Filch's knowledge of the secret passageways as well as the layout of the Castle evened the odds somewhat. In fact, Harry wasn't sure if he even had a chance of escape.
Maybe he didn't. He turned down one corner and heard Filch's voice at the end of the hall, "Got him now! Mrs. Norris, keep him from turning back!" The cat's voice echoed from behind him.
Harry almost tripped over his own feet as he stopped. He was trapped. He had no chance of sneaking past Mrs. Norris, and he couldn't hurt the cat; even stunning her made him feel queasy. Spinning around, he dashed down another corridor and took the first door to his right.
Harry groaned. He was in a classroom; now he was really trapped! But then he saw something, something very strange indeed. Standing in the middle of the dusty, unused classroom was a large mirror . . .
Author's Notes: I really hope Harry doesn't seem too dense for going on this little adventure. Like I said earlier, he may be mentally maturing faster than a Muggle boy (which I shamelessly admit is a plot-device to allow me to write about Harry and company having sex sooner as opposed to later), but he's still young, and young people aren't so much dumb as they are inexperienced.
[*Besides, Harry has a "saving-people-thing," which I think Lily's choice in comics has only aided rather than caused.