Canon Ending. This is the ending that future chapters will follow on from.
It was eleven o'clock that evening. The discussion of the tests had petered out again, with Mandy threatening to slug Hermione if she attempted to continue it; the hair advice for the evening had been dispensed, and the girls were finding comfortable positions on the communal bed. In short, the end of another evening of waiting for grades to come in.
Then Sibby suddenly appeared six inches in front of Harry's face. Sibby had been one of the elves delegated to guard the door on the third floor, so immediately they knew there was a problem.
"Mister Potter, sir?"
"Harry remembered Sibby's name! He..."
"Yes, I did. What is the message?"
"The professor who smells like bad garlic went through the door, sir."
With that, the students left to get Professors Sinistra and Trelawney, who were discussing their charges' performance so far. Students might not know their grades for seven days after tests were complete, but teachers certainly knew, and they had to gossip over something.
Harry stated, "Sibby said that Professor Quirrell went through the third-floor door. Apparently tonight's the night."
Both professors immediately ended their discussion to begin the pursuit.
With Dumbledore and most of their fellow professors untrustworthy, Sinistra and Trelawney sent Megan Jones to Hufflepuff, on the grounds that Professor Sprout would be likely to help, and that Tonks would be able to summon Aurors in case of an emergency, as she had begun working with them during weekends. Megan was the fastest runner, and was glad to do her part.
Unfortunately, on her way to Hufflepuff House, Megan ran into Freddie Urquhart. Urquhart was Slytherin's fifth-year prefect and in a foul mood already, due to the poor performance of the Quidditch team and his anxieties over his grades. In addition, his little brother Franklin, in first year, had broken his prize broom two days earlier during a tantrum. So when he saw a little girl with brown hair and an orange tie running through the halls, he was glad to have someone to take his frustrations out on.
"Stop, girl!" he yelled. Megan ignored him.
"I said Stop! I am a prefect!" he screamed. Megan continued to ignore him and ran through the twisted corridors. Freddie started to chase after her.
By the time Freddie had decided that his prefect status wasn't enough to convince Megan, she had a considerable head start. Slowly, Freddie began to catch up to her. Two hallways from the Hufflepuff entrance, he had a clear line of sight on Megan. He yelled "STOP!" one more time and stopped himself to fire a Stunner, but it was just barely too slow to reach Megan before she made the next turn.
When Megan reached the Hufflepuff entrance, she ddn't know the password or what to do, exactly. So she did what came naturally- namely, she started hollering for Tonks and Sprout, and made as much noise as possible.
Within the Badgers' House, a fourth-year named Cedric Diggory heard the commotion and walked over to the opening of the seventh-year girls' dormitory, ringing its bell and saying "Tonks, there's someone outside who wants to talk to you really bad."
Tonks emerged from the door a minute later in casual clothes, just in time for the voice from outside to abruptly stop. "Who was it, Cedric?" she asked.
"Don't know. But it sounded like a young girl, and she didn't seem to know the password. She was yelling for you or Sprout."
"Who do I know who would see me as an authority figure equal to Professor Sprout?" Tonks asked herself. To ask the question was to answer it- Harry or one of his friends. "I'll go outside to check this out," she told Cedric.
The voice had cut off because Urquhart, finally catching up with Megan, had cast another Stunner to silence the little girl. He was just about to pick her up and carry her away when the door opened to reveal Tonks.
"And what are you doing out here?" Francis inquired.
Tonks was no longer a prefect; she had resigned her position when she entered the Aurors' training program. She was still two years Urquhart's senior, though, and still right next to her own house.
"What are you doing with the girl, Urquhart? Why is she unconscious?"
"Because I stunned her. Isn't it obvious?"
"And why did you do that?"
"Because she was running through the halls making a racket!"
"And why was she doing that?" she said, starting to lose patience with this Slytherin kid.
"How the hell should I know? Why should I care?"
"Because maybe she needs help, and maybe you could help her! Was she yelling for me?"
"Maybe. So what?"
"Urquhart, if someone's trying to get my attention like this, don't you think it might be a good idea to find out why!? I don't think she's asking me out on a date!" By now, Tonks was getting quite incensed and her hair was starting to redden.
"I don't know, and I don't care! She has no right to-"
"Don't you think there's a reason-"
"Listen, bitch, all I need to know is that..."
That word 'bitch' was the last straw. Auror trainees are taught how to question suspects and witnesses. They are issued some equipment that they may find useful in certain situations and taught defensive spells.
They're also taught some self-defense techniques, which Tonks promptly demonstrated on the unfortunate Urquhart; a right to the jaw and a left knee to the groin sent Freddie to the floor, where a Stunner would keep him for a while.
Tonks Ennervated Megan, who explained the situation as briefly as she could. Upon understanding that Harry and the rest of House Harem were helping to guard something very important (and why would it be here?), she went back to her room to retrieve her equipment, namely her AurorPhone and her Combat Cloak.
The former allows an Auror to send brief messages to the Aurors' Headquarters when an emergency arose. Meanwhile, Combat Cloaks are thick, heavy floor-length cloaks made of dragon skin. They are cumbersome to move around in and ugly to look at, usually dyed black if the dragon in question hadn't been black-skinned. They have one purpose- protecting their wearers from all low- and medium-level spells and many high-level spells. (With one notable exception. No one had yet found a way to make Avada Kedavra any less lethal.)
Meanwhile, the other students had arrived at the third-floor door. Millicent remembered that Cerberi are susceptible to falling asleep when music is played, and a charmed harp was still sounding next to a trap door, in front of a sleeping three-headed dog.
Most of the students jumped down the trap door, along with Professor Sinistra. Trelawney and Susan stayed behind to keep an eye on the dog, the harp, and the escape route.
The students landed in the bower of a large and angry bush. Hermione Granger was the first to recognize it as Devil's Snare, and to cast Lumos to annoy it. The vines continued to grab and hold more students until each student who still had an arm free managed to cast Lumos and hold their wands close enough to shock the plant into releasing them.
The next room contained seemingly thousands of little flying bugs. It was Harry who first identified them as keys, but he couldn't tell which one would open the door at the far end. Su Li reasoned that since the lock was large, silvery, and old-looking, the key should also match those descriptions.
Four brooms were visible at the side of the room, identifiable as brooms that House Harem had received at Christmas and donated to the school. Harry and the starting Chasers pulled them down and began to fly on them, looking for the key.
It was Lisa Turpin who happened to see it first- the key was indeed large and silver-colored, and had a bent wing as if it had been stuffed into something. As soon as Lisa grasped it, however, the other keys stopped milling around and started to come after her.
What followed, according to Sinistra much later, was some of the finest acrobatic flying she had ever seen. Lisa and the other Chasers passed the key to each other, causing the stream of other keys to split up. They frequently criss-crossed each other's paths, causing many of the keys to collide and fall to the floor stunned. Finally, when the clouds of keys had been reduced to a manageable size, the students still on the ground cast spells to freeze the remaining keys in flight briefly, just long enough for Lisa to land and open the door and for everyone else to run through it. As it slammed shut, they heard many knocks against the door, as keys bounced off of it or embedded themselves in the wood.
Next came a room with a large, malodorous and unconscious troll. Su Li and Millicent were left to keep an eye on it while the other students and Sinistra went forward to a room with a huge chess set.
The Aurors had no more idea that the Philosopher's Stone was at Hogwarts than anyone else did. They had heard about the theft from Gringott's the previous July; with no other obvious leads, they followed up on that one. Amelia Bones immediately sent two of their own to Gringott's to inquire.
Two Aurors walking down Diagon Alley at eleven-thirty in the evening are an uncommon sight. Most of the few people still in the Alley cast their eyes toward the Aurors. One of them, the older, dark-haired one, loudly cast a Muffliato spell just as they were entering the bank to ensure that outsiders knew that the conversation they would soon have was not to be eavesdropped upon. It worked.
Within the bank, the Aurors called for Manager Gringott and were ushered into his office. While the various treaties between goblins and wizards meant that they couldn't force Gringott to divulge any records, they had two major arguments that they thought would combine to be convincing.
Gringott was as cagey as they had feared he would be. Yes, he said, there was an attempted robbery here on July the 31st last year. No, nothing was taken. The vault was registered to a married couple living in Devon. "Beyond that," said Gringott, "I cannot say more; I have already said more than I should."
The younger, blond Auror, Proudfoot, unveiled their first argument. "Mr. Gringott-" the thought of being called Mister made Gringott smile; too few goblins were given proper respect- "this is a matter that could be very important to your people as well as ours. No one wants to see You-Know-Who return; certainly you do not. You remember the terrible things that he did to some of your employees."
"I need no reminding of our history," Gringott responded coldly. "I do not see how exactly that this theft is related."
"You know what was in the vault, Gringott," said Auror Dawlish. "You know how it could be used."
"I have no idea what you are talking about."
At this point, Dawlish unveiled the second argument, which Gringott recognized instantly. It was, after all, a Bottomless Bag issued by his bank.
"Ten thousand if you can help us at all," Dawlish said flatly.
Dawlish revealed another bag. "Twenty thousand."
After several seconds of thought, Gringott spoke. "None of what I say leaves this room."
"Understood," both Aurors chorused.
"The item within the vault in question had been checked out about every two years since the 1940s. Where it had been before that, I neither know nor care."
The Aurors continued to listen; obviously, Gringott was going to reveal the truth his way or not at all.
"I saw Rubeus Hagrid holding something that could have answered to its description earlier that day. It also conforms to the description of the item I knew to be most often kept in the vault, about two inches across and colored red."
That was good enough for the Aurors to confirm their suspicions. They walked as rapidly as they could toward the exit, and as soon as they were outside Gringott's Anti-Apparation Wards, returned to the Ministry.
"Ever have a nightmare come true?" asked Dawlish.
"No, sir," said Proudfoot.
"Well, after tonight you can say that you have."
When the students and Sinistra tried to advance across the room, the pawns whipped out two swords each to prevent their further progress. It was obvious that they'd have to play their way across the room.
Sinistra didn't know how to play chess, but the Patil sisters did. Parvati circled around the board to the white pieces and replaced the queen's bishop.
"White resigns," she said.
"Pawn to Queen's four. White resigns."
"Reset the board." The pawn moved back to the second row.
"Vati, I think we have to play a real game. Come over here so I can make sure I have this right."
The two talked briefly, going over moves, apparently; the other students and Sinistra were a bit lost. Mandy stepped onto the board, only to see the white pawns display their steel again; she immediately stepped back.
Parvati returned carefully to the square occupied by the white queen's bishop.
"Pawn to King's Bishop three."
"Pawn to King's four," directed Padma, now replacing the black queen.
"Pawn to King's Knight four."
"Queen," said Padma, walking diagonally, "to King's...Rook...five," proclaimed Padma, reaching the square she had named.
The king dropped his sword, and the pawns dropped theirs. A door opened behind Parvati, who went through, closely followed by Sinistra and the other students.
Within the next room, there was nothing but a wooden table, a note, and seven potion bottles. Just as Susan, the last of the students, entered the room, a flame sprung up behind her, colored violet. Dark flame emerged to cover the door that had been on the opposite side of the room.
It did not take Hermione long to figure out the riddle, but there was only enough potion in the requisite bottle for one person to move forward. Harry's offer to take it was rejected. There was no need for him, the student most likely to be targeted, to make Quirrell's job easy.
So the students waited. The bottle filled with "return" potion was large enough for four students to drink from, and refilled when set back on the table. Harry, the Patils, and Lisa were sent back into the Chess Room, where they saw that the board had reset itself.
At that moment, Tonks led ten Aurors into the room from the other doorway. All were dressed in Combat Cloaks and carrying several other instruments none of the students recognized.
"Harry, what's going on down here?" asked Tonks.
"Quirrell's after... do they all know what's down here?" asked Harry, not quite trusting the troop of men and women in heavy cloaks.
"Yes, we do," answered a tall, bald black man with an earring. "We're here to save the Stone. Kingsley Shacklebolt, at your service. What can you tell us?"
"Beyond us, there's a room with seven bottles to send you onward or back." At that moment, Susan, Mandy, and Tracey entered from the door behind Harry.
"Who are they?" asked Mandy.
"They're Aurors. They're the good guys," responded a smiling Susan.
"Thank Merlin you're here!" called Tracey. "This place is really scaring me." Meanwhile, Kingsley and a young blonde woman named Hestia Jones were unknowingly replaying the game the Patils had just executed. The door opened again.
As that happened, Hermione and Professor Sinistra walked out, emptying the Bottle Room. The space behind the white pieces was getting a bit crowded.
"Do you know for sure that Quirrell is in there?" asked Auror Dawlish.
"Not for sure, but we haven't heard anything or seen anyone pass us, so where else could he be? Unless there is some other secret passage down here," said Tracey.
"We checked ourselves," Auror Savage replied, tapping the device on his shoulder. "No other passages exist. If anyone's down here, he must be past that room."
"Stand well back. We'll take care of this," Kingsley pronounced as the Aurors moved through the door into the Bottle Room.
Before its door could close, the door on the other side opened and Quirrell walked out.
This wasn't the nervous Quirrell that Harry and the Harem students remembered. This man was confident, indeed cocky. He was tightly gripping something with his right hand while his wand was out in his left.
"Stop in the name of the law!" called Kingsley in a deep voice.
"I think not, Aurors," taunted Quirrell. "I am a law unto myself now!" With that, he shook off his loosened turban, seemingly ignoring the stunning spells sent his way, and then turned around.
Harry would never forget that face- slits for a nose, cat-like eyes with red pupils, and a mouth like a cave.
"I see you, Harry," Lord Voldemort- for who else could he be?- hissed. "And you will soon be mine. Join me or die fighting me!"
"Those are not his only choices," Tonks said, hoping she sounded more brave than she felt. As the Aurors increased the power behind their spells, Tonks tried to move back to protect Harry.
The battle was a fierce one- Quirrell was no magical weakling to begin with, and sharing his body with Voldemort increased his power substantially- but no wizard can stand off ten Aurors for long. His mortal body critically wounded, a black smoke began to emerge from Quirrell's battered form.
"If I cannot have you in life," Voldemort wheezed, "I shall have you in spirit!" With that, Quirrell's body dropped lifeless to the ground as the spirit of Voldemort rushed toward Harry in the Chess Room.
"Fall back! Phalanx!" called Kingsley as the Aurors ran out of the room to try to provide Harry some protection with their bodies. The two in front of Harry collapsed, and Harry felt faint, but the spirit was incapable of more harm than that. It flew past Harry into the Troll Room beyond.
"What the hell is that?" Millicent screamed from the Troll Room.
"It's Voldemort, Millicent!" called Sinistra. "But he can't hurt us now. We're safe. I hope."
Quirrell's right hand held nothing but red powder, which the Aurors carefully collected. The two Aurors that had stood in front of Harry, Dawlish and a pony-tailed man named Williamson, were both sent to the hospital wing.
"Well, it looks like the Stone is gone," said Proudfoot in the Harem common room, the closest place that was even vaguely inviting and available. It was now three o'clock in the morning.
"What a waste. Why was it even here?" asked Shacklebolt. He shook his head.
"Obviously, the Flamels must have suspected something," Hermione deduced. "And obviously, there was something to be afraid of. But sending the Stone here put us all at risk, especially Harry."
Harry, meanwhile, was slowly sinking into guilt. Two of these Aurors were in the hospital, and all of the students and Professors had been at risk because of him. Slowly, he stood up.
"Listen, everyone. I just want to say-"
"That you don't think you're worth the help that we've given you," said Millicent.
"That you put all of us at risk," added Susan Bones.
"That you want the rest of us out of House Harem," chimed in Mandy Brocklehurst.
"And that you think you shouldn't see us again after the term is over," concluded Hermione. "Is that about right?"
"Well," Harry sheepishly said, "If you were hurt..."
"But none of us are," said Lisa. "They say that the two Aurors will be out of the hospital in a day or two."
"It's not like Voldemort would spare us if you were out of the way," reasoned Megan.
"And if we were in danger," said Professor Sinistra, her eyes shining, "it's no more than we would have faced anyway. I like to think my friends are worth a bit of risk."
"Really? You consider me a friend?" asked Harry.
"I think we all do by now," said Parvati. "We're all bonded. We're all in this together. And I don't think I'd have it any other way."
"But I see a long talk with Dumbledore in the near future," said Trelawney in her mistiest voice, producing the first chuckles of the evening, some of them from the Aurors who remembered her classes in the North Tower.
The talk with Dumbledore didn't occur during the remaining time before the students went home. The Harem students averaged just above an E mark overall, the highest of any set of first-years in more than five decades. No Harem student failed any course, and they had performed particularly well in Transfiguration, to McGonagall's obvious surprise.
No student from any house was held back, although for Ron Weasley, it was a very close-run thing- the Gryffindor boys in general had done very poorly- and it was rumored that it took a secret fire call from Lucius to keep Draco Malfoy and his bookends moving up. Of course, that couldn't be verified.
At the leaving feast, Hufflepuff and Harem were both punished for attacking Urquhart by the loss of fifty points each. However, Dumbledore awarded Harem four hundred and twenty-seven points for its actions, to move them into a tie with Ravenclaw for the House Cup, and Hufflepuff one hundred points for Tonks' "quick response that saved the lives of many of her fellow students." Dumbledore reasoned that, since he couldn't immediately discredit Harry's other authority figures, he needed to avoid discrediting himself, which punishing good deeds would swiftly do.
The train ride home was a merry one. Trelawney shared the results of Professor Vector's calculations about the charms on Harry's home, and said that Harry would have to stay for a quarter of the summer, or just under three weeks, for the charms to stay active. Sinistra promised to pick him up at the first possible moment, and the other students promised to have their parents visit him whenever they could. And on the morning of their departure, an invitation came that all of them promptly accepted, which would be on the day that Harry could leave Privet Drive.
When the Express arrived at King's Cross, Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley were all waiting for Harry when he and the Harem contingent got off the train.
"Let us know immediately if they do anything to harass you," said Trelawney. "If they do, I predict that they will be having trouble in their near future."
"You've got friends, Harry," said Hermione, giving Harry her telephone number. "Call this number in case of an emergency, and I dare say we'll help you."
"We do like you, Harry," said Padma. "We look forward to seeing you soon."
"Where will I spend the summer? After the time with the Dursleys, I mean," asked Harry.
"We'll set up a schedule. We'll let you know soon," said Sinistra. With that, she hugged him. In turn, each student and teacher hugged him before letting him run toward the Dursleys.
"You put the Tracking charm on him, right?" Trelawney asked in a low voice.
"I certainly did," said Sinistra. "Now Pomfrey can tell us if his health drops off in any way. In House Harem, we stick together, don't we?"
Smiling at that, the female members of House Harem dispersed, knowing they'd see each other soon.
Well, there it is. Descriptions of the summer will start with the next chapter.