In 1991, Quirrell is ordered to attack Harry directly. As a result, the Boy-Who-Lived will never be alone in the fight again.
Slipping and stumbling, they followed Hagrid down what seemed to be a steep, narrow path. It was so dark on either side of them that Harry thought there must be thick trees there. Nobody spoke much. Neville, the boy who kept losing his toad, sniffed once or twice.
"Yeh'll get yer firs' sight o' Hogwarts in a sec," Hagrid called over his shoulder, "jus' round this bend here."
There was a loud "Oooooh!"
The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.
"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry and Ron were followed into their boat by Neville and Hermione.
"Everyone in?" shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. "Right then- FORWARD!" (1)
Quirinus Quirrell glanced up as the half-giant's bellow rang over the lake, the first time his attention had left the wand in his hands in over three hours. Wincing at the volume, even from so far away, he gave the wand one last polish with the bit of cloth and rose from the mossy boulder.
Given the job that wand had to perform, it had best be in good condition. If something went wrong, it would most likely cost him his life, and perhaps his soul.
Intently watching the small boats as they set off across the lake, he waited behind a tree for the tiny craft to come in range.
:do not fail me, my servant... the consequences would not be...pleasant...:
Quirrell shuddered, bowing his head to acknowledge the hissing of his Master's voice. Though it shook, he raised his wand to point at the boats, using the tree to steady his aim.
:there... he is there... strike!:
Ignoring the diminutive voice that screamed in protest inside of him, dismissing it as insignificant, the professor said the incantation quietly, almost reflectively.
And the Blasting Curse raced across the still water.
The tension was almost palpable, as the boats traveled at a snail's pace over the lake, and Harry wondered if that was part of the tradition. A quite unnecessary part, considering he'd never been as keyed up as he was now.
But then, what would you expect? He was going to learn /magic/, in a place where no one hated him because of Dudley's gang. It was the fulfillment of all his dreams and wild fantasies, the perfect chance to prove he wasn't the worthless little orphan his family had belittled for ten years.
Unable to stop a smile from spreading over his face, Harry glanced around at the other occupants of the undersized boat.
He still wasn't entirely sure to make of Ron. No one had ever offered to be his friend before; the Harry Hunters had made sure of that. But earlier, when together they stood up against that other boy, Malfoy, it felt... right.
Harry could most definitely get used to that feeling.
As for the other two... Hermione seemed nice, if a little intimidating. And Neville reminded him of himself, before Hagrid came and tumbled his monotonous, despised life down the drain. Timid, unsure, as though he expected everyone he met to somehow ridicule him...
Okay, so Neville still reminded Harry of himself. Even if the boy wasn't going to admit it out loud.
The smile turned a bit rueful at the turn his thoughts had taken, as he looked out over the side of the skiff at the dark, tranquil water. The passage of the modest fleet barely disturbed the surface of the lake, and Harry leaned over farther to get a better view of the moon's unruffled reflection.
Those few inches were all that allowed him to see the sudden flash of violet light, a radiant burst glimmering off the water's almost perfect mirror. Surprised, Harry jerked back even as he glanced up, a cry escaping his lips.
The other children in the boat turned towards him at the sound, their own eyes widening at the unexpected sight. Even as the light rushed towards them, Harry turned away, searching for the man who had saved him from everything else. "/Hagrid/!"
But it was already too late. With a heart-rending /crash/, the Blasting Curse hit the little craft, upending it and sending its occupants flying.
As Harry broke the surface of the lake, his last thought before the descending boat struck his head was a despairing wish that the Dursleys had let him learn to swim.
Not that it would have done him any good anyway, as the Boy-Who-Lived surrendered to the deep darkness of insensibility.
(1) This passage comes directly from J.K. Rowling's /Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone/.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, or the concepts based off of Dean Koontz's /Hideaway/.