Categories > Books > Harry Potter > I, Alone
Chapter 19 – The Philosopher’s Stone
. . .
The Outsiders left the Dungeon in a group. It had been along and particularly grueling day for the lot of them. Fridays were a full day of potions with the Gryffindors. Professor Snape had lost little time in zeroing in on the Longbottom boy. True to form the young Gryff, hypersensitive to the Potions Master’s presence hovering over his shoulder, managed to melt his cauldron fifteen minutes into the first class. Thankfully there were spare cauldrons in the class room as Professor Snape was well accustomed to such accidents happening with the Longbottom scion.
Hermione was the first to speak as they reached the main floor of the castle. “Poor Neville. I know he is trying his hardest and all but I fear he might not get a passing mark if this continues.”
“If that is Longbottom’s best then he’ll certainly get atroll,” Blaise scoffed with a grin. The three witches hastily looked towards Harry, a slight tightening around the edges of the boy’s eyes was the only indication that he was recalling the troll from earlier that year. “Professor Snape might run out of cauldrons before the year is out at this rate.”
“He really doesn’t like you Gryff’s does he?” Tracey asked, directing her question toward Hermione.
“He seems to like to take points from us well enough,”Hermione replied, more than a bit miffed about the fact. “I think he badgers Neville simply because he is an easy target and it gives him a reason to deduct further points from our House when things go pear shaped.”
“It’s not fair,” Harry grumbled. Having been the recipient of mistreatment nearly his entire life he knew bullying when he saw it. He was all too familiar with how it felt to be looked down upon and told you were worthless. “Longbottom didn’t do anything wrong!” Harry added as he stormed past the entrance to the great hall and continued on towards the doors of the castle. The fact that it was Harry’s own Head of House that was doing the bullying only made the matter worse in his eyes.
“Life isn’t always fair, Harry,” Daphne offered, her words sounding lame even to her own ears. If it was you would never have had to go through the life that you have, she thought to herself. “Where are we going?” she asked as Harry hastened past the entrance to the great hall, the rest following his lead.
“Sorry,” Harry replied a bit sheepishly, only then realizing that the others may have wanted to go to the library or even the Slytherin common room. Doubtful Hermione would want to go there…or be well received if she did. “I need a bit of fresh air,” he explained. “I just don’t understand why Professor Snape has it out for Longbottom,” he added rhetorically.
Stepping through the entrance doors to the castle the small group was instantly surrounded by the frigid temperatures and cold winds of Scotland in late December. Overhead the sky was filled with dark grey clouds, while they were massive in nature; they threatened an equally massive storm. There was some concern that if it snowed heavily this evening that the Hogwarts Express may have some difficulties making it back to London the next day. If was for this reason that several of the professors would be aboard the train when it left tomorrow morning.
Harry took a deep breath, the cold air both biting as well as invigorating him at the same time. All five students paused and enjoyed the quietness of the winter air. In the distance was the Forbidden forest, looking even more frightening now that the leaves had fallen from most the tree branches. The cold air blowing through the forest caused the bare tree limbs to rub together. Harry imagined that it sounded much like the hands of askeleton would, were they rubbed together in such a fashion.
Black Lake was edged in ice. Nothing substantial, but enough to show that during the night the temperature dropped well below freezing. Looking at the lake Harry once more wondered about his friend Rin and hoped that she was doing well. There was a quiet calmness to the Highlands of Scotland during the winter months. To Harry it felt as if the entire world was holding its breath just waiting for spring. “You lot all packed up then?” he finally asked, breaking the comfortable silence.
“I’m not,” Tracey declared, only to receive a contemptuous glare from Daphne. “What? I’ll have plenty of time to pack in the morning,”she added, directing the defensive words towards her best friend. “The train doesn’t leave till 10 o’clock so there will be plenty of time.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to wait till the last second,”Daphne responded in a snarky tone. “You’re always rushing about and asking for my help just minutes before we have to leave. It is the same anytime we have to go someplace, Tracey,” the witch said, a bit exasperated by the top of conversation.
Blaise chuckled before adding his two knuts, “I’m with Tracey on this one. Plenty of time to pack in the morning,” he stated only to earn himself a harsh glare from the blonde Slytherin witch.
All heads turned and suddenly looked towards Hermione as she had as yet said anything. “Don’t look at me,” Hermione declared loudly upon seeing their questioning looks. “I had everything packed since yesterday.”
“Finally! Someone who understands!” Daphne stated as she stepped over and slipped her arm through Hermione’s as if to show a unified front in the face of the other two’s decision to put off packing till the last moment.
“What about you, mate?” Blaise quipped towards Harry. “I bet you’re waiting till tomorrow morning as well.”
Harry turned back and looked over the grounds of Hogwarts and the lake with the forest in the distance. “Actually, I’m staying here,” he finally told them. He had sent a letter to his relatives but like the previous one it had come back unopened. Truthfully he would rather remain at school than return to the Dursleys. Harry had felt ashamed that he wasn’t wanted and so had not mentioned that he was in fact not going home for the holidays.
All three witches gasped at his confession. “Harry, that’s terrible!” Hermione exclaimed.
“You should have said something, mate,” Blaise stated. “I’m sure I could have asked me mum for you to come and stay with us.”
“I’m sure anyone of us would have been more than happy to have you with us for the holidays,” Daphne told her friend sincerely. They probably didn’t even want him, she seethed inside thinking of Harry’s Muggle relatives.
“What are you going to do, Harry?” Tracey enquired, stepping closer to him and taking his hand in hers.
Harry turned at her touch and offered his friends a smile. “Thanks, but I’ll be fine. Professor Snape informed me that I’m actually the only member of our House that isn’t returning home for the holidays,” he told them. The other Outsiders looked on in concern, suddenly learning that their friend would be all alone. “Hey, for two weeks I’ll have the entire Slytherin House to myself!” he added with a bit of forced levity for their sake.
“But, Harry-“ Hermione started to say only to be cut off from the young wizard.
“I’ll be fine. Honestly,” Harry assured her and the others. Further discussion was cut off as they were all suddenly surrounds by large white flakes of snow that were falling from the sky.
“It’s snowing!” Tracey declared excitedly. The young witch loved it when it snowed, finding it to be very pretty.
“Can’t get anything past you, Davis!” Blaise quipped good naturedly with a grin on his face. To which Tracey stuck her tongue out at him, causing all of them to laugh.
“When I was a little girl,” Hermione said in a wistful tone as she help out a hand, allowing one of the large flakes to settle into it, “My mum said that when it snowed, an angel was crying. One tear for each person’s sorrow. As the teardrops fell to earth they froze making a snowflake. That’s why no two snowflakes are the same as no two person’s sorrow are exactly the same.”
“There must be a lot of sad people in the world for there to be this many snowflakes,” Blaise said as he looked around at all the falling snow.
“I imagine that everyone carries a bit of sorrow inside them,” Daphne offered as her worried eyes regarded Harry intently.
“So these are frozen tears?” Tracey asked before licking asnowflake from her palm. “They don’t taste salty.” Hermione simply shrugged to indicate it was just a story her mum had told to her when she was younger.
Harry stood there staring at the falling flakes with wide eyes. Once again he heard Rin’s words within his mind, ‘The Frozen Tears will come soon so I will not be able to get away. Look for me when the seasons once again change’. The Mergirl’s words finally made sense. She meant she wouldn’t be able to return till after winter! “I wonder what the Merfolk do during winter?” he ponder aloud without realizing it.
All of them turned and regarded the lake in the distance though it was Daphne that first spoke. “I don’t know but I doubt that the cold bothers them. They live at the bottom of the lake where it is always cold,”she explained.
“Yes, but if it is cold there it could become colder…perhaps even frostier during the winter,” Hermione offered, jumping in on what she saw as an intellectual discussion. “I read that some non-magical researches have stated that if you go deep enough the water temperature changes very little regardless of what the weather may be like above the water.”
“Speaking of cold, I can’t feel my toes!” Tracey whined, causing the others to chuckle. “How about we go to the great hall and see about some cocoa?” Everyone readily agreed as they were all sporting red noses and ear tips by then.
The others stepped back into the castle except for Harry who remained outside. “It really is beautiful,” he said softly as he watched the silent snow fall and begin to blanket the grounds. Turning back towards the castle and his waiting friends he was looking forward to the two weeks of peace and quiet that the holidays were sure to bring.
Harry made certain to be up and ready in the morning. While he himself wasn’t leaving the castle, he at least wanted to be there to see his other friends off. The young wizard was the first from his group to arrive at the great hall and take his normal seat towards the far end of the Slytherin table. He had learned that it was safer to be the first up in the morning as well as the last to sleep at night where his house mates were concerned.
Hermione was the first one from their group, after Harry, to make it to the great hall for breakfast. Harry watched her enter and look about. The young witch’s face split into a big grin as soon as her eyes fell on him. /I could get very use to that/, he thought to himself. He knew it wasn’t really any different from any other morning, not really. Hermione always gave him a smile when she joined him at the table. All the girls did for that matter. It was just really nice to actually be on the receiving end of a genuine smile. With a pain of regret the young boy realized this would be the last time he saw her smile till after the holidays.
“Good Morning, Hermione,” Harry offered with a welcoming smile as the young witch tucked in next to him. “Ready to go?”
“Honestly, Harry,” Hermione replied with a grin, “I’ve been ready for days, though I will admit it was a rather difficult decision on just which books to take with me as they wouldn’t all fit in my trunk apparently.” The young first-year began to fill her plate as she continued to chatter. “I was forced to leave some clothes here to make room for them all. Maybe I can talk dad into buying me a larger trunk?”
Harry couldn’t help but grin as he listened to Hermione. Leave it to her to take clothes out so that she has more room for books! “I heard they have these trunks for sale in Diagon Alley that are larger on the inside than they appear on the outside,” Harry offered as he started to load his plate with the amount of food Madam Pomfrey had instructed him to consume.
Hermione stopped in the middle of placing bacon on her plate and turned and gapped at the boy. “That’s brilliant! I wonder how they do that?” she asked aloud as she finished dropping the bacon on her plate.
“I’m no expert but if I had to hazard a guess I would say magic,” the young wizard deadpanned back.
“You prat!” Hermione exclaim, swatting his shoulder playfully but with a grin on her face. “I know they use magic! I meant which spell they were using,” she clarified.
“There is more than one spell to do that?” Harry enquired.
“Three actually,” Hermione answered.
“Why?” Harry asked in a surprised tone.
“It depends on what the purpose of the trunk, in this case, is for I guess,” Hermione told him, dropping into lecture mode. “There is one spell that simply enlarges the interior of the trunk. Another doesn’t actually increase the size of the trunk space but rather shrinks the items as you place them in it which allows you to store more items. Lastly there is a spell that is reported to make a pocket in some other dimension. Anything placed in the trunk is actually stored there rather than in the trunk itself.”
“Seems rather silly to have three spells that all do essentially the same thing,” Harry commented on before taking a bite of his eggs.
Hermione shrugged as she took a sip of her juice before answering. “Think of it this way, Harry. There are many different luggage makers in the world. They are essentially all making the same thing but each is different in a way that is specific to the manufacturer. Different witches and wizard make different spells to do essentially the same thing but with aslight difference. The concept is really not that different,” she concluded with before biting into her toast.
“Mornin, mate. Granger,” Blaise said as he tucked in across the table from the two already seated.
“Daphne and Tracey?” Hermione asked with an arched brow once she saw the wizard was alone.
Blaise started to fill his plate. “I suspect they will be abit late, if Daphne’s yells from the girl’s dormitory are any indication,” he answered her. “I got the impression that it was really Tracey that was running late though,” the Slytherin added with a grin.
True to what Blaise had said, the missing two witches arrived fifteen minutes later. Harry could clearly see the contemptuous glare on Daphne’s face as well as the apologetic one on Tracey’s. Harry waited till both had tucked in, Daphne next to him and Tracey next to Blaise, and had begun to eat before he said anything. “Anyone have anything special planned for the hols?”
“Same as last year,” Blaise answered first. “Mum always throws a Yule celebration for family and friends. Probably because she knows she will be out for New Year’s Eve.”
“I’ll be at Daphne’s,” Tracey offered as she set her filled plate before her and reached for a pitcher of juice.
“Assuming she gets everything packed and brought over before the hols are over with,” Daphne mumbled loud enough for all of them to hear.
“Her folks always have a small get together for Yule and then a big party for the new Year,” Tracey continued with as if the blonde witch hadn’t said anything.
“My mum believes that Yule should be spent with family,” Daphne jumped in to explain. “We’ve always kept it rather small with just immediate family. Father insists on having his friends and business associates over for New Year’s every year. The usual eat too much, drink too much, set off fireworks at midnight and hope nothing catches fire,” the girl stated with adismissive wave of her hand as if it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Harry smiled at the image her words called to mind. “I would love to see fireworks sometime,” he said before he knew it. Being with the Dursley’s he had never been allowed to attend any type of party unless it was Dudley’s birthday party. Even then it was mostly so he would do the cooking for everyone. Freaks were apparently not allowed to celebrate like normal people were.
The three witches exchanged looks, finding it hard to believe what Harry had just said. “You’ve never seen fireworks, Harry?” Hermione finally asked in a disbelieving tone of voice.
“Not yet, though I hope to one day,” Harry answered as he corralled the last of the eggs on his plate onto his fork and thus by missed the saddened looks that appeared on faces of his friends. “What about you, Hermione?” he asked just before placing the egg filled fork in his mouth.
Hermione quickly schooled her expression even though it pained her to think that her best friend had never experienced fireworks. “Christmas Eve it is just mum, dad and me,” she answered him with. “We each get to open one present before we go to bed. On Christmas Day we all go over to Gran’s house and all the family comes over. It’s rather a mad house actually,” she added with a warm smile at the thought of it.
“That sounds brilliant!” Harry exclaimed with a big smile and bright eyes. /When I have a family I want to do all of those/, he told himself as he thought about what his friends were going to do for the holidays. The young wizard hadn’t once been a part of the Dursley’s Christmas. Every year they went to Marge’s, Vernon’s sister’s house, leaving him at Privet Drive.
The Outsiders finished eating and just sat and chatted for awhile. Most of the students remained in the great hall. At ten o’clock Hagrid entered the great hall and announced that the carriages were outside to take them to the train station in Hogsmeade. Harry walked his friends out but came to an abrupt stop when he saw what was pulling the carriages. “What are those?” he asked in wonder as his eyes traversed the strange creature’s body.
“What’s what?” Daphne asked as she and the others looked towards where Harry was staring.
“It’s just the carriages that will take us to Hogsmeade, mate,” Blaise offered. “We didn’t get to see them when we first got here in September because we came across the lake on boats,” he reminded his friend.
“No, not the carriages. What is that pulling them?” Harry asked, still a bit distracted. The creatures were a sort of winged horse from what he could tell except they looked rather skeletal in nature. Their bones seemed to protrude from their skin and their heads looked more dragonish than like that of a horse. Unlike other winged horses, their wings were made from membrane instead of feathers. The closest creature’s black eyes appeared to be regarding him intently as it seemed to realize that Harry could see it and found that fact rather peculiar.
“Harry, there’s nothing pulling them,” Tracey offered as she looked to the others to make certain they didn’t see anything as well.
Harry ignored her words and instead approached the nearest one, holding out his hand to it. The creature stretched forth its neck and gave the offered hand a sniff before rubbing against it. Harry stepped closer and gently began to run his fingertips along the creatures jaw line, scratching it as he did so.
“Blimey, Harry! You can see ‘em,” the booming voice of Hagrid suddenly exclaimed from behind the small group.
“You mean there is actually something there?” Hermione enquired in a disbelieving tone of voice.
“Of course there is,” Hagrid replied. “Did you think though ruddy carriages moved by themselves?”
“This is a magical school after all,” Tracey quipped quickly.
Hagrid looked thoughtful for a moment then gave a nod of agreement before he continued. “They’re Thestrals, they are,” the half-giant announced.
“Why can’t we see them?” Daphne asked as she slowly stepped up next to Harry and reached out her hand. The young wizard grasped her wrist and guided it toward the invisible animal. The blonde-witch gasped when she suddenly felt something wet lick her fingers. “Eww,” she said softly when she realized what had happened. Beside her, Harry grinned at his friend’s discomfort.
“Well, on account of only those that ‘ave seen death can see‘em,” the grounds keeper explained to them.
“Then why can Harry see them?” Blaise enquired as he watched Tracey step up and reach out only to start petting whatever it was they couldn’t see.
Hagrid had to think for a long moment before he could answer the boy’s question. “I’m not rightly sure,” he finally admitted. “Maybe ‘cause he saw his mum and You-Know-Who die when he was a little tike and all?” Hagrid said only to trail off as it was such a sad thing, one that he really didn’t like to even think about it. Lily Potter had been a good friend to him when many others hadn’t been. Hagrid couldn’t have been happier when Lily had married James Potter. The love the two shared was so evident to anyone with half a brain to see. Their deaths had left the giant crying for weeks. “Ought not ta `ave said that,” he mumbled.
“What do they look like, Harry?” Hermione asked to distract the wizard from what Hagrid had said.
Harry, who hadn’t really heard anything other than what the name of the amazing creatures were, answered his friend after a long moment. “They’re kind of like winged horses with dragonish heads, though their skin is rather leathery. Hagrid, are they supposed to look like they’re half starved?”the boy asked turning his head to look at his large friend.
“That’s their normal look, Harry. Most folks think they look rather sinister or spooky,” Hagrid explained. “Given their appearance and the fact about just who can see them and all, folks ‘ave come to think of ‘em as the messengers of Death and all. Vastly misunderstood creatures, they are!”the half-giant added with a shake of his head.
“I think they’re amazing!” Harry declared, turning back to continue to scratch the Thestral’s jaw. The animal’s eyes drooped closed in apparent pleasure.
It wasn’t long before the others had to climb aboard a carriage to make their way to Hogsmeade. Harry, standing on the steps to the castle waved as the Thestral pulled carriage disappeared down the road. Hagrid walked beside them as it was his responsibility to make certain all the students were safely aboard the Hogwarts Express. With a sad sigh the young wizard turned about and entered the castle once they were all out of sight.
The remainder of the day passed rather uneventful for Harry. He returned to the great hall for lunch and then again in the evening for supper. The young wizard had busied himself during the afternoon with investigating the Slytherin common room, a luxury few had with so many students in it. There were surprisingly well stocked book shelves covering just about any subject currently taught at Hogwarts as well as a few that weren’t. He wondered if all the other House common rooms had them as well.
Just prior to the evening meal Harry’s Head of House, Professor Snape, stopped in to check on him. The young wizard was seated on the couch before the fire reading his potions book. “Mr. Potter, I see you are putting your free time to good use,” the Potions Master said approvingly upon finding him. “Clearly Greengrass and Davis have been a good influence on you.”
“What about Hermione?” Harry asked, setting the book down in his lap to look at his Head of House.
“The Gryffindor know it all?” Severus asked with a slightly arched brow.
Harry gave a quick nod. “She’s just as bright as Daphne or Tracey,” he stated in Hermione’s defense.
“She very well may be, however she is not Slytherin,” Snape drawled.
“You really don’t like Gryffindors I guess,” Harry stated in a mild tone trying to keep the disappointment out of his voice.
“They are our rivals, Potter. If we are to keep the House Cup we must beat them as well as the other houses,” Severus explained to the young wizard. “If we became friends with all of them we would be less inclined to beat them.”
“I understand that, Sir,” Harry replied in a thoughtful tone of voice. “I just can’t hate them or their house though. My father was a Gryffindor after all as was my mum.”
The vision of Lily Evans momentarily appeared before Severus’ eyes as he recalled his childhood friend who was also the woman he loved. “Your mother was perhaps an exception to the rule. She was a very capable witch.”
“Did you know her well, Sir?” Harry couldn’t help but ask.
Severus gazed at the boy for a long moment but only saw curiosity in Harry’s eyes. “I did. I was fortunate enough to call her afriend,” Severus finally replied with.
“Can you tell me about her?” Harry asked with a hopeful look. No one besides Hagrid had really ever told him much of anything about his parents. He had of course read about them in the library, however that was nothing compared to someone that had actually known them. “My father too,” Harry added only to see the teachers expression darken.
“I…did not know your father as well. That which I do know of him you would most likely not enjoy hearing,” Severus finally replied. “I’ll tell you about your mother at another time. Off to dinner with you!”Snape snapped a bit more harshly than he had intended. Even after all these years it still hurts, he realized as he thought of the red-headed witch that was Harry’s mother.
“Yes, Sir!” Harry exclaimed as he closed the book and jumped to his feet. The young wizard tucked the book under one arm and headed for the door only to pause upon reaching it. “Aren’t you coming, Sir?” Harry enquired of his Head of House.
“I’ll be along shortly,” Severus answered while making ashooing gesture. The first-year student nodded once before slipping out of the room. Sevres dropped heavily onto the couch and massaged the bridge of his nose. “What am I going to do, Lily?” he asked aloud of the empty room. “How can I keep him safe? Why does he have to look like your insufferable husband? I truly wish you were here, Lily,” he said with a sad sigh before rising to his feet and following after Harry.
Harry soon discovered that being the only member of his house at Hogwarts was rather boring. After sitting in every single seat in the common room there really wasn’t much else to do. By Sunday afternoon the young wizard gathered his assignments and made his way to the library. The next several days were spent doing his school work, a fact he was certain his friends would be impressed with.
“I’m not doing it because I know that they’ll be proud of me,” Harry told himself, thinking of the three witches that were currently missing from the library table he was seated at. He knew that Blaise would probably think he was mental for doing the work this early in the holiday break. “I’m doing it because I’m so incredibly bored!” he whined aloud to no one as there was no one there to hear him.
Harry, having been mostly alone, even when he was with the Dursleys, for the majority of his life didn’t really know what it was like to be lonely. Being by himself was just normal. He had never had friends or anyone that wanted anything to do with him till he had arrived at Hogwarts and met Tracey, Daphne and Hermione. Several times over the last two days he had found himself wanting to tell someone about a fact he had read only to look up and realize that there was no one there but himself. Somehow, being alone was no longer normal for the young wizard.
Wednesday morning dawned bright and sunny. At some point during the night it had snowed and the grounds outside were covered in several inches of the white powdery stuff. Harry awoke after a sound night’s sleep. Funny how easy that is to get when there is no one here to prank my bed, he idly thought as he lay in bed. Harry stretched lazily and only then discovered that there was an odd package at the foot of his bed.
The young wizard sat up and regarded the item in its odd wrapping paper. “Where did you come from?” he pondered aloud for a moment before reaching out and pulling the item into his lap. It must be for someone else, he reasoned as he had never gotten a present in his entire life. Present! That’s it, he thought, suddenly realizing that it was Christmas day today. The boy grinned as it was the first Christmas day in his life where he wouldn’t have to cook for himself or spend it home alone.
Harry saw a note had been affixed to the ribbon around the oddly wrapped package. “This should tell me who this is for,” he told himself. “I’ll just take a look and then move it to their bed where it belongs.” Pulling the note from the present he looked at it and his eyes grew larger as he read the words on it.
This belonged to your father, who left it in my care.
I believe it is time it was returned to its rightful owner.
Harry flipped the card over, wondering who it was from, but saw that there was no signature on the back side of the card either. With adismissive shrug the boy tore apart the wrapping and pulled out a rather large piece of cloth. It took him a moment to realize that the item in question was actually a cloak. Slipping from his bed he put the cloak on and then walked into the loo to have a look in the mirror. Seeing his disembodied head floating in mid-air was nearly enough to make him faint.
“Merlin’s Beard! What the bloody hell,” he exclaimed, hastily pulling the cloak off again, half expecting the rest of his body to be missing. The young man blew a sigh of relief when the missing portion of his anatomy appeared from beneath the cloak. Quickly he once again draped it over himself, this time including his head. “That’s brilliant!” he exclaimed excitedly as he looked in the mirror and could no longer see himself.
The thrilled wizard quickly made his way to the great hall, slipping the cloak on just prior to entering it. There were a handful of students from every house, except for his own. It appeared that the entire Weasley family had remained at Hogwarts for the holidays. The brothers all sat together, each wearing a matching sweater of a different color. Harry quickly found that sitting out of the way under his cloak and watching others eat was not all that much fun. Truthfully it was no different than what normally happened on a regular basis with the boy. Slipping from the room he removed his cloak, storing it in a large pocket in his robes before returning to the hall to eat his own meal.
Later that morning there was an impromptu snowball fight outside started by the Weasley twins which involved just about all of the students as well as a few staff members. Harry, standing in the castle doorway, watched and laughed as people were pummeled by the white balls of frozen water. The battle soon deteriorated into the students against the staff members. Professor Flitwick conjured several large snowmen and then charmed them so that they attacked the students relentlessly, eventually giving the victory to the staff.
After everyone had retired to the castle for some much needed cocoa and a hardy lunch the diminutive professor lead the students down to Black Lake. As they watched, the charm’s professor dipped his wand into the partially frozen water. The water instantly turned to solid ice and began to spread outwards rapidly. In the matter of just a few minutes there was a good size ice skating area complete with a frozen wall around its edge to keep people from falling in the lake. Harry discovered two things that afternoon. Firstly, he was absolutely pants at ice skating. Secondly, that falling down on your backside repeatedly on the ice hurts…a lot. It was a very tired and sore wizard that retired to his bed after the evening meal.
Harry awoke sometime in the middle of the night from anightmare with a gasp as he lunged to a sitting position in his bed with one hand flying to his brow. The scar on his head was hurting something terrible and was warm to the touch. The young wizard couldn’t recall what the dream had been about but the feeling of dread it carried persisted even now when he was awake. He tried to go back to sleep but the feeling that something was off only seemed to increase as he tossed and turned, unable to find a comfortable position.
Realizing that he probably wasn’t going to be able to fall back to sleep anytime soon, Harry threw off the covers and got up only to realize that it was exceptionally cold in the dorm room. Hastily he dressed before making his way out to the common room in the hopes that perhaps some reading would help settle him down. Finding a place before the fire, which had sprung to life as soon as he had entered the room, Harry cracked open the cover to Hogwarts: A History, one of Hermione’s personal favorites, and started to read.
The sense of unease continued to grow making the young wizard antsy. With a sigh of frustration Harry closed the book and set it aside on the couch before he got to his feet, unable to sit still any longer. The common room was dark. Shadows played across the walls and ceiling as the flames in the fireplace flickered through their dance. Harry eyed the shadows wearily, feeling as if he was being watched. Unable to take it anymore the boy returned to his room, grabbed his cloak and hastily left the Dungeons.
Wearing his newly acquired invisibility cloak, for that is what he guessed it to be, the restless wizard traversed the halls of the quiet castle. Given that it was the holidays and the majority of students were away from the school, there were no prefects or professors patrolling the corridors it seemed. Harry wandered the castle with no real destination in mind as he tried to understand the strange feeling he had as well as why his scar was suddenly hurting him so badly. He soon found himself stepping off the stairs and onto the landing of the third floor.
It was right here, Harry thought to himself as he turned and regarded the stairs he had just left. It has been nearly two month since I killed it and yet I can recall it just as if it was yesterday. I can still see its face just before its head disappeared. It was in fact the very place where Harry had killed the troll on All Hollow’s Eve. The young wizard still felt remorse as well as guilt for what happened that evening. He was glad that none of his friends had been injured but he couldn’t help but think that the troll’s life had been a heavy price to pay for their safety.
Harry was drawn from his thoughts by the sound of distant music. Turning his heard, Harry listened for a long moment before following the sound down the right hand corridor. The musical notes soon led him to adoor that was standing slightly ajar. Looking in the boy couldn’t believe his eyes for there, next to the large harp he had seen Professor Sinistra playing, was a slumbering three headed dog just as Hermione had said.
Harry’s sense of dread grew as he noticed that the trapdoor in the floor was open. The young boy slipped into the room and as quietly as possible approached the open trapdoor before peering in. Seeing nothing but darkness he glanced nervously towards the snoring beast before pointing his wand into the hatchway and saying “Lumos!” The spell did very little to penetrate the darkness below. Taking a firmer grip on his wand Harry decided to try something different. “Lumos Solem!” he intoned.
A narrow bright beam of light shot forth from the tip of his wand piercing the darkness below and revealing a wealth of vines that were all tangled together. As the beam struck the vines they withered and drew away from it as if in pain or burnt. Before long there was a rather wide opening revealing a stone floor just below the vines. Swallowing heavily and gathering what courage he had, the young Slytherin dropped through the hatch and fell through the hole down onto the stone floor, landing rather awkwardly and ending up in asprawling heap.
“I must be bloody mental,” he told himself as he stood up, brushed himself off, and made certain nothing was broken. It was at that moment that he realized that someone was truly after the stone and that he should have gone and gotten a Professor to handle the matter instead of jumping feet first, as it were, into the mess himself. “Little late now,” he said aloud, looking upwards through the hole which the vines that were rapidly closing once again now that the beam of light was gone.
Realizing that there was no way to go back, Harry turned and started to follow the corridor. It was fairly simple as there were no other doorways and the path was well lite, which he found to be rather strange. Why light the place up if it is meant to keep people out, he couldn’t help but wonder. The boy stopped in the doorway to a rather large chamber with a very high ceiling and several tall pillars. Spread upon the floor of the room was hundreds of keys, each with their own set of shimmering wings. The keys lay there, twitching every so often as if they had been stunned or knocked unconscious.
Spying a partially opened door across the chamber, Harry pulled his cloak tightly around him and made his way across the room, trying not to step on any of the keys that lay upon the floor as he did so. As he approached the door he could see that there was a rather large key with a bent wing wedged into the lock of the door. Being careful not to disturb it, Harry slipped through the opening and started down the passageway. He had only gone a few steps when the door behind him closed and the sound of the lock clicking into place seemed to echo down the hallway. No going back for sure now, he realized.
With a great deal of trepidation Harry carefully made his way down the corridor making as little noise as he possibly could. Upon reaching the opened archway at its end the young boy stopped and stared, unable to believe his eyes. Before him, spanning nearly the entire width of the room was the largest chessboard he had ever seen. It took a moment before Harry realized that standing on the board in the place of the king side bishop was atall cloaked figure. As soon as the boy’s eyes fell upon the person the burning in his scar flared painfully. Harry only just managed to cover his mouth to keep himself from gasping aloud due to it hurting so much.
The cloaked figure was in the middle of casting some charm or other, judging by the complex wand movements it was making. Harry hid in the shadows of the archway and watched as the figure seemed to try several different things, all to no avail. It wasn’t difficult to tell that the person was growing rather frustrated at not being able to do what it wanted to. Long minutes passed where the person just stood there deep in thought before they once again moved.
The wand in the person’s hand flew through several complicated patterns that were almost too fast for Harry to follow before it made several harsh slashing motions. Suddenly, before the boy’s astonished eyes, all the chess pieces began to float up into the air. They hovered there several feet above their places on the board before they all flew towards the center of the board and exploded on impact with one another.
Harry flinched from the load noise caused by the collision of pieces, and hastily covered his ears under the cloak. When he looked up again he saw that nothing remained of the chess figures but broken shards piled in the center of the board and scattered across its surface. The cloaked figure made its way around the remains and proceeded through the archway on the other side of the board. Harry, after a tense moment of indecisiveness, slipped out of his hiding spot and crossed the room. The first-year wizard skirted the entire chessboard itself as he made his way along the side of it instead. As he was about to enter the archway the mysterious stranger had gone through he heard several noises behind him. Turning to look back he saw that the chess figures were starting to reassemble themselves. I love magic, he couldn’t help but think as he hastened after the person he was following.
The short passageway lead into another room that reeked of astench he recalled all too well. Troll, the young boy thought with apainful stab in his chest. This must be where the troll that wandered into the school had been staying at. Harry quickly crossed the room, trying not to dwell on what had happened to its former inhabitant. For the moment he counted himself fortunate that there wasn’t another troll in the room to replace the previous one.
The adjacent corridor curved around slightly till suddenly the boy was halted by a wall of lavender flames the barred his path. Though the flames gave off no heat that Harry could feel he wasn’t keen on trying to step through them. Through the flickering flames he could see that the figure was standing before a table with several containers upon it. As the hidden wizard watched he saw the person lift one of the containers and drink from it. The cloaked individual then walked out of his field of view and a few seconds later the flames vanished.
Harry peeked around the edge of the doorway and saw to his relief that the room was empty. Off to the side of the room there was another archway through which he assumed the person after the stone had gone. With asigh of relief Harry entered the room only to have the same purplish flames spring to life behind him as well as before the archway he needed to go through. Left with little choice he hastened over to the small table and its many containers.
Harry regarded the various containers and it seemed that one of the bottle’s contents was slightly lower than the others but as he looked again it appeared once more to be the same as the others. The young wizard couldn’t say for certain if it had indeed been lower or if it had just appeared that way in the flickering light cast by the strange flames. Spotting a rolled piece of parchment lying on the table next to the bottles Harry picked it up and read it.
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
Second, different are those who stand at either end,
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
Neither dwarf nor giant hold death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left, and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.
Harry read the paper over once again. “This isn’t magic,” he realized with a start. “It’s logic!” One thing he had learned rather quickly when coming to the Wizarding world was that magicals, for whatever reason, weren’t very logical beings. He realized that any normal witch or wizard would have probably been stuck in the room forever. With a shrug Harry turned towards the bottles and puzzled his way through it once again before deciding that it was the small bottle that he needed to proceed through the flames at the end of the room. Throwing caution to the wind he grasped the bottle and drank down its contents before he could lose his nerve.
The young opened his eyes, having closed them to drink the foul tasting stuff, and hesitantly looked about. To his astonishment nothing had changed. Setting the small bottle down Harry walked over to the flames where he believed the other person had gone. “Maybe the potion protects me from the flames,” he pondered aloud. On the off chance he was wrong the boy removed his cloak and tucked it back into the large pocket in his robes. I would hate for that to get burned, he reasoned.
Gathering his courage once again Harry took a running start and leapt through the flames only to land on the other side of them unscathed. “Well that was a great deal easier than I thought it would be,” he admitted.
“Incarcerous!” Thin cords suddenly appeared and wrapped themselves around the boy, binding him securely. Unable to stand properly, Harry toppled over, landing on the floor with a muffle ‘umph’ as a gag had appeared in his mouth as well. “Did you really think that Icouldn’t sense someone following me, Potter?” Professor Quirrell enquired, stepping into the frightened boy’s field of view.
“Since you are so persistent I shall take you along so that you may watch as I take the stone out from under Dumbledore’s nose without him being any the wiser!” Quirinus told the bound boy with a chuckle. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher waved his wand, “Mobilicorpus,” he said and Harry felt his body rise from the floor and float suspended in midair.
The Professor made his way down the passageway with Harry’s floating body behind him. In short order they entered the room at the end of the corridor. “Well what have we here?” Quirrell asked curiously. Harry felt himself lowered to the ground. Once there he strained his neck to have a look past the professor only to see a very familiar mirror.
Quirrell stepped down several stairs into the room, Harry all but forgotten behind him, as he approached the mirror and regarded his image in it. “I see it! I see the stone,” the professor suddenly exclaimed. “Now how do I get it?” he asked himself thoughtfully. The man raised his wand and tried several summoning and fetching charms all to no avail. Several more minute passed with several other charms and jinxes rendering the same results and only frustrating the intelligent wizard further.
“Use the boy,” a raspy voice was suddenly heard to say in the room. As soon as Harry heard the voice, which seemed to emanate from everywhere at once, his scar throbbed and burned painfully. It was the same pain which had awoken him from his dream as well as when he had first spied the cloaked figure on the chessboard.
“Come here, Potter!” Quirrell called, dismissing the boy’s bindings with a wave of his wand. Harry got shakily to his feet and slowly made his way down the stairs as instructed. “Stand there before the mirror and tell me what you see,” the man ordered, pointing with his wand tip.
Harry stood before the mirror and saw the usual smoky surface for a moment and then suddenly he was looking at himself. Harry’s eyes grew larger as his reflection reached into its pocket and withdrew a reddish stone and held it up for him to see. Realizing instantly just what it was Harry turned away from the mirror and took a step to the side so that he wasn’t directly in front of it any longer.
“Well?” Quirrell snapped, “What did you see?”
“I…I saw myself, Sir,” Harry stammered. “I was seated in the library reading Hogwarts: A History,” he lied in what he hoped was aconvincing manner. The book had been the first thing to come to mind as he had just been reading it in the Slytherin common room before ending up where he was currently.
Quirrell paced several steps away from the mirror, pausing at the other end of the room with his back to the boy. To Harry is sounded as though he was carrying on a conversation with himself. Harry was suitably scared and had been ever since that voice had spoken. “Let me speak to him,” the voice, as if called forth by his thought of it, spoke once more.
“But Master you are not strong enough,” Harry heard Quirrell reply pleadingly.
“I am strong enough for this you fool!” the voice snapped back angrily. Harry watched as the professor reached up and slowly began to unwind his turban. The young wizard looked on in horror as the last of the cloth fell away to reveal a frightening face in the back of the professor’s head. The scar on Harry’s head felt as if it would burst into flames it hurt so badly. The young wizard, fearing for his life, tried to hide in the only place that he could. Harry dashed behind the mirror, certain that he didn’t want to see that face anymore. A low soft noise began to play within the young wizards ears as his pulse raced.
“Come here, boy!” the raspy voice ordered. “See what I, Lord Voldemort, have had to become since that night I visited your parent’s house in Godric’s Hallow. I have had to live as little more than a parasite, eking out an existence off of animals and others jut to remain alive!” Voldemort stated angrily.
Harry could feel himself panicking as he realized that he was facing the Dark Lord who had killed his parents when he was only a baby. Voldemort, the most feared evil wizard in hundreds of years was here in the very same room as he was. The soft low noise in the boy’s ears quickly grew into aroaring sound that he knew all too well. Spurred on by his own fear, Harry’s magic was once again threatening to break free of his control. For once the boy thought that it would be best not to fight it.
The wall not far from where Harry hide behind the mirror suddenly exploded sending stone shards flying as some spell hit it. “Get out here boy so that I might properly kill you,” bellowed the raspy voice that belonged to Voldemort.
Harry flinched both from the voice as well as the stray shards of stone that cut into his exposed skin. I have to prevent him from getting the stone, he told himself. But how? he asked himself before it suddenly came to him. The mirror! If I destroy the mirror he won’t be able to get the stone! Harry got to his feet from where he had been crouching down, placing both hands against the back of the Mirror of Erised he pushed with all the strength his eleven year old body could muster.
“Come now, Harry,” Voldemort’s voice said in a calm, almost conversational tone which was far different from its previous angry one. “It isn’t proper for a wizard to hide cowering like some filthy muggle. Step out and face your death like a man,” the Dark Lord urged the boy. “Your father, for all his failings, knew how act as a real wizard. He faced me properly before I ended his life for being a blood-traitor. Even your precious mudblood mother, Lily, died like a proper witch trying to save you,” Voldemort taunted the boy. “Did you know that she begged me to spare your life right up till the end? I’ll never forget the look on her face when I killed her,” he said smugly.
Harry pushed for all he was worth but it was no use. The mirror was far too heavy for him to move it. Anger flared within the small boy as he realized that he was helpless and there was nothing he could do. Voldemort’s words finally registered with the young wizard and only served to fuel his anger. Rage exploded within Harry, the likes of which he had never known before. Anger at what had happened to his parents. Anger at his inability to even save himself after everything his mum and dad had sacrificed to ensure he remained alive. Anger at the Dark Wizard who, as Harry saw it, was the cause of all the bad things that had happened in his life.
“What are you doing?” Voldemort asked curiously as the entire Mirror of Erised began to glow brightly. As the Dark Lord watched in horror the glass surface of the mirror began to bulge and twist irregularly. “Stop him you fool!” Voldemort order Quirrell, “Quickly before he destroys the mirror and the stone along with it!”
Even as the possessed professor turned back about to face the mirror he saw the glass of its surface transmute and spill out upon the floor. No longer was it the reflective glass of the mirror but rather it had been reduced to small grains of sand which settled into a heap about the base of the mirror’s feet. The frame of the large mirror flashed brightly suddenly and exploded into a million pieces, knocking Quirrell from his feet and sending him sailing across the room only to impact the distant wall.
Quirrell struggled to his feet, dazed and confused from the destruction of the mirror. Across the room he could see Harry still standing, unaffected by the explosion. “KILL THE BOY! KILL HIM NOW!” Voldemort’s strained voice cried out in furious anger at having lost the stone.
Harry stood untouched by the blast as his magic, now freed of his control, had apparently protected him from harm or injury. Dully he looked up as the older wizard climbed to his feet and then advanced upon him under the directions of the Dark Lord in his head. Unconsciously, more areflex than anything else, Harry’s hands shot up to ward off the attack, grasping both of Quirrell’s wrists in an effort to keep the man’s hands from him.
The Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor’s head shot back as a scream of excruciating pain left his lips at the boy’s touch. Harry watched in detached fascination as the man’s hands turned to ash. The ashing effect began to work its way up the man’s arms as the wizard continued to scream. Magic surged within the small boy and lashed out engulfing the professor much as it had the troll. A sudden burst of blue eldritch fire and the man’s body exploded, cutting off his tortured screams. Harry fell over backwards, his rouge magic once more protecting him from any projectile body parts that would have harmed him. Bet I get a detention and house points docked for breaking the mirror, was the boy’s last thought before darkness claimed him.
Harry awoke to the smell of clean sheets and the feel of alumpy mattress. /I’m becoming all too familiar with this place/, he reflected silently as he realized he was in the hospital wing at Hogwarts. Harry opened his eyes to see a blurry world. Reaching to the nightstand next to his bed he retrieved his glasses and slipped them on, amazed they weren’t broken.
“Welcome back, Mr. Potter,” said a masculine voice he didn’t recognize.
Harry’s head hastily looked over to his left and saw an old wizard seated in a chair regarding him with a warm friendly smile. The man had thinning white hair, a large nose and full cheeks set below brown eyes that sparkled as if they were privy to some grand joke that others were not. A rather long white goatee sprouted from the wizard’s chin and draped down the front of his modest robes. “I’m sorry, Sir, do I know you?” Harry asked, still a bit dazed and not yet fully awake.
The man grinned. “Not personally, lad,” he replied. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Alchemist, Nicolas Flamel. I asked Albus to allow me to have a word with you when you awoke,” the wizard explained.
In a rush the memories of what had happened with Professor Quirrell returned to Harry. The boy paled as he realized that he had probably destroyed the Philosopher’s Stone along with the mirror. “S…Sir, I think I may owe you an apology,” Harry started to say only to have his words waved away by the older wizard.
“Rubbish, my dear boy,” Nicolas told him. “If anything it is I who owe you a bit of thanks.”
“Thanks?” Harry asked, completely befuddled as to what thanks the man could possible owe him.
Nicolas just smiled as he played with his goatee absently. “Perenelle, my wife, has been after me for some time to destroy the stone. She believes that man was not meant to live as long as we have. She said that she’s only stayed with me all this time to keep me out of trouble,” the wizard admitted with a short bark of laughter. “I would be good and truly lost without her,” he added with a soft and loving expression gracing his features as he thought of his wife.
The alchemist seemed to shake himself slightly, pulling his mind back to the topic at hand. “Yes, so thank you for doing what I could not, or would not, bring myself to do,” he confessed. “When I first created the stone there was just so many mysteries to solve and things to see and do in life that I didn’t want it to end. There were a great many other things Ihadn’t counted on though, such as watching everyone you know grow old and die. It is a painful thing to do to have to bury your children and then their children and their children’s children. Never gets any easier,” said the alchemist with a deep sigh.
“It wasn’t before long that we sort of withdrew from the world and all those who knew us,” Nicolas continued with. “Far easier that then to continue to watch your loved ones populate burial mounds. I suppose at some point it went from seeing the wonders of the world to just seeing how long I could live. Living forever isn’t nearly all it’s cracked up to be young man,” Flamel told him in a serious tone.
“But what will you do now, Sir?” Harry asked. “Can’t you just make another one?” Harry couldn’t help but feel that is was his fault that the wizard and his wife would now die. If he had somehow managed to save the stone they could have continue on living just as they had for over six hundred years.
“Well actually,” Nicolas started with, looking slightly embarrassed, “I was a bit in my cups when I created that one and I don’t really recall how I did it. That will be our little secret though,” he staged whispered to the bed bound boy. “Can’t have the young ones thinking less of me now can I?” the old wizard asked with a hearty laugh.
“Well, I should probably let you get back to recovering. I’m sure the young lass who runs this place will be by in a tic to check on you. A bit of advice before I go, lad,” the man offered. “Try and enjoy life while you can. Even living as long as I have life is far too short to do otherwise. Find a good woman to share it with as that makes it all the better. Well, perhaps wait a bit longer before you do that part,” he added with a wink and a grin.
Harry looked at the foot of his bed for a long moment, his cheeks red as he thought over the wizard’s words. “Thank you, Sir,” he finally said, turning back to regard the alchemist only to see that he was by himself and the man was gone. Harry couldn’t help but wonder for a moment if he had in fact imagined it all. His thoughts were broken by the arrival of the school’s head nurse.
“Ah, Mr. Potter,” Poppy said as she bustled in, all business like. “Glad to see that you are with us once again.” Harry had to suppress agrin as he realized that the young lass Flamel had mentioned was the elder Mediwitch with him currently. “How are you feeling?” Poppy asked as she ran several scans over him with her wand.
“Tired. Sore. Hungry,” Harry replied. “About normal for me,” he added a bit cheekily before suddenly recalling the seriousness of all that had happened to him. Voldemort had very nearly succeeded in acquiring the stone and possibly returning to life. A man had died in the process, with the Flamels soon to follow after Professor Quirrell. “How long have I been here?” Harry asked, feeling like very little time at all had passed.
Poppy eyed the youthful boy who was quickly becoming one of her favorite students, even if he did spend far too much time under her care. “Five days,” she finally admitted to him only to witness him blanch at her words. “You once again managed to wear yourself to exhaustion,” she said in adisapproving tone of voice. “No sooner do we start to get your body’s energy built up then you go and use it all!”
“Sorry, Ma`am,” Harry replied a bit dazed by the news that he had been out for that long. “How did I get here?” he asked softly.
“Professor Dumbledore brought you here. You should rest abit,” Poppy directed him. “The Headmaster will be returning later today and Iam certain he will wish to speak with you.” The mediwitch watched as the young boy rolled over onto his side, closed his eyes and did as instructed after removing his glasses and setting them on the stand next to the bed. Why is it always him, Poppy thought to herself rhetorically with a sad shake of her head.
Harry waited till several minutes had passed after he heard Madam Pomfrey leave before he opened his eyes with a snap. In the darkness behind his eyelids he once again saw the grotesque image of Voldemort’s face protruding from the back of Professor Quirrell’s head. In his mind’s eye he watched as the teacher attacked him only to scream in pain as the very flesh where Harry touched turned to cinder and ash. Once more Harry watched as his own magic obliterated the man into nothing more than small pieces of the body Quirrell had once been.
“No two ways about it this time,” Harry whispered to himself. “I killed him.” He wasn’t some unknowing troll either who was bent on harming my friends. The young boy lay there and could find no way to justify his own actions. The Flamels will also now die because Icouldn’t control my magic and destroyed the stone, he realized as guilt set in for what he had done or failed to do. If I had just went and fetched aprofessor when I found the door open, none of this would have happened.
Harry’s thoughts turned towards his friends as they often did these days. “Little chance they’ll forgive me this time,” he whispered aloud, his words none the less painful for having uttered them. Little chance I’ll forgive myself, he admitted silently. It really would have been better had I never come to Hogwarts, he thought to himself miserably.
It was several hours before he was brought from his dark thoughts by a soft clearing of a throat. Harry rolled over onto his back, after putting on his glasses, only to see the Headmaster standing at the foot of his bed. The venerable wizard didn’t like the resigned expression upon the boy’s face when he got a good look at him. I have failed Lily and James yet again, Albus sadly realized.
“Madam Pomfrey assured me that you are well on the way to recovery,” Albus opened with, a small smile appearing on his features. “How do you feel, Harry?” he enquired only to receive a slight shrug from the boy in the bed. The aged wizard came around the bed and took a seat in the chair that Nicolas Flamel had sat in not all the long ago.
“I will get right to the point. As you and Professor Quirrell were the only two in the room with the stone, you’re the only one that knows what really occurred, Harry,” Albus said. “Can you tell me what happened? I know it might be painful but it is terribly important that you spare no detail.”
Harry regarded the Headmaster for several long moments as he wondered just how much the man knew already. The Headmaster had been the one to find him so he must know about the mirror as well as what remained of Professor Quirrell. The young boy finally sighed wearily, his eyes falling away from the wizard with him, too ashamed of his own actions. “It was Voldemort,” Harry confessed in a soft voice. “He was somehow in Professor Quirrell’s head.”
“You mean Quirrell could hear Voldemort?” Albus asked for clarification. “Could you?” he quickly amended, fearful for the boy and what this new development could mean.
“Yes. No,” Harry stammered a bit confused and out of sorts. “I mean that I could see Voldemort’s face. It was sticking out of the back of Professor Quirrell’s head when he removed his turban,” the young wizard managed to finally get out in a tone that was clearly distressed over the horrific ordeal he had been through. “He wanted to use me to get to the stone!” Harry told him only to recall once again in vivid detail the events which had transpired in the room beneath the castle.
“I followed him down to where the mirror was,” Harry retold his tale in a shallow tone, his eyes distant and filled with pain and remorse. “I foolishly thought that he didn’t know I was there, but he did. He knew all along. He captured me just as easily as a child picks up an ant,” Harry related in a disparaging tone of voice.
“As soon as I saw the mirror I knew, somehow, I knew what he was after. Standing there before it I saw myself holding the stone. I didn’t want it! I truly didn’t,” Harry stated firmly. “I knew if I got it then he would take it from me. I mean I’m just a firstie, what could I do against atrained wizard? So I made up a lie when he asked me what I saw in the mirror.”
Albus watched, listened and waited, not wishing to interrupt the boy now that Harry had finally started talking. It pained him to hear the fear and sorrow in Harry’s voice, especially as he knew there was nothing he could do to alleviate them for the lad. It grieved him all the more as he knew that he had a hand in how the lad’s life had turned out as well as that there would be more heartache and sorrow ahead of the young wizard before all was said and done.
“I tried to hide behind the mirror,” Harry continued. “Voldemort tried to get me to come out. He even threw a curse at the wall near me and said some terrible things about my mum,” the boy’s angst filled voice relayed. “I…I’m not sure what happened but I think that my magic once again slipped my control, Sir. I…I think I destroyed your mirror, Sir,” Harry stated as he looked up with large regret filled eyes.
Albus gazed deep into the emerald eyes before him, looking past the pain and the grief to the memories of the events that had taken place several days ago. The aged wizard watched in amazement as the school’s Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher’s hands and forearms turned to ash and fell away at the boy’s touch. The magical attack that blasted the professor into tiny pieces was horrific enough to knock the Headmaster from the boy’s mind.
“I didn’t mean to do it,” Harry said, assuming the shocked expression on the Headmaster’s face was due to the news of the destruction of the ancient mirror. “Then Professor Quirrell, at Voldemort’s direction, attacked me. I…I touched him,” Harry admitted with a ragged sob, “and he just sort of dissolved, Sir. My magic, just like with the troll, destroyed him. I…I killed Professor Quirrell,” Harry said with tears running down his face.
Albus, still shaken from what he had witness in Harry’s memories, reached out and placed a consoling hand on the boy’s shoulder, patting it gently in sympathy. “Do not borrow guilt where that is none, Harry. I fully suspect that Professor Quirrell was dead the moment he allowed Voldemort to possess him. It was a foregone conclusion of when, not if, his death would happen. I believe that he has also been the one killing the unicorns in the forest and drinking their blood. Unicorns are very pure magical creatures and their blood would be enough to sustain them both for atime. If anything you have afforded Professor Quirrell a far cleaner death than he would have received at the hands of his master.”
“Sir?” Harry asked, wiping tears from his cheeks. The professor’s words made a sort of sense to him though it did little to relieve the fact that he had killed the possessed man. “Why couldn’t Professor Quirrell get the stone from the mirror? He could see it there.”
“Ah yes, one of my more ingenious spells, if I do say some myself,” Albus replied with a small chuckle. “Only a person who wished for the stone but didn’t want to use it could actually obtain it.”
“Sir?” said Harry. “I’ve been thinking. Even if the stone is gone, Voldemort -. Well. I mean Voldemort is still going to continue to try and find other ways to return. I mean he hasn’t gone, has he?”
“No Harry, he has not. He is still out there someplace, perhaps looking for another body to share…not being truly alive he cannot be killed. I suspect his essence left Professor Quirrell to die; he shows just as little mercy for his followers as he does for his enemies,” Albus told Harry.
“But why me, Sir?” Harry enquired. “Why is Voldemort set on killing me?”
Dumbledore sighed very deeply. “Alas, that is one thing Icannot tell you, Harry. Not today. Not now. You will know one day,” the old wizard added seeing the boy about to object. “Put it from your mind for now, Harry. As much as I know you will hate to hear this, but when you are older…when you are ready, you will know.”
Harry realized it would do no good to argue with the man. For now all he could do was wait and hope to learn the truth one day when the Headmaster deemed him ready. “The Flamels?” Harry asked with a note of worry, suddenly recalling his earlier conversation with Nicolas. “Will they be alright, Sir?”
Albus’ expression returned to his usual grandfatherly demeanor as he regarded the boy for a moment before replying, “I had a long talk with Nicolas and his wife. We’ve both been after him for a long while now to destroy the stone. It’s power and temptation is too grate. They have enough Elixir remaining to set their affairs in order,” Albus assured him.
“But then they will die?” Harry asked, adding the ‘due to me’ silently in his head.
“Yes, they will die,” Albus confirmed with a small nod of his head. Seeing the saddened expression on the boy’s face he continued, “To one as young as you, I’m sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know the stone was not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all – the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
Harry lay back, truly at a loss for words. How could someone simply choose to die? I don’t think I would ever be brave enough to do such a thing, he thought to himself. The death of Professor Quirrell did not weigh as heavily upon his shoulder as it had before speaking with the Headmaster. “Thank you, Sir. I think I would like to rest now.”
“Very well, I shall leave you to it,” Albus said before standing. “I’m certain Madam Pomfrey was close to tossing me out anyways for overstaying my welcome. Rest well, Harry,” said Albus before taking his leave.
Harry lay there for a long time before sleep finally claimed him. He was willing to concede that perhaps he had done Quirrell a merciful favor; however, the Flamels were a different story. Their coming deaths weighed heavily upon his youthful conscience.
Sorry for the length of time since the last update. Towards the end of October I lost a very close and dear family member to ALS. It hit me rather hard and the Muse was in grieving along with myself. She has only just recently returned. I can’t promise any regular updates to this story as Iwill be traveling at the end of the month which will make it difficult to write at all. Additionally I have two other projects I’ve embarked on that will no doubt take a portion of my time.
I hope you enjoyed this new chapter as it brings to a close pretty much the important events of Harry’s first year at Hogwarts. There are still a few things to cover when the girls return for hols and classes resume. Summer break is still six months away after all.
I do greatly appreciate at you reading along and I hope you might be able to take a few moments to drop a review to let me know what you thought of the chapter, good or bad.
All characters within this story, unless otherwise stated are the sole property of J. K. Rowling the original writer of the Harry Potterseries.
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