The Great Hall was loud with the chattering of its inhabitants, same as any other morning. However today instead of the usual gossip about classes and whatnot, the students were excitedly talking about what was now being called the Troll Incident.
The headmaster had told the students that after a thorough search no troll had been found within the castle; disregarding the two trolls that had been placed to protect the philosopher's stone since only the professors and the headmaster himself were aware of them.
So after the headmaster had dismissed the students back to their dormitories that night they had taken his word as truth while the troll had been put down as a result of Professor Quirrell's hallucinations from his time in Albania.
As the students exchanged ideas on how they would deal with a troll if they encountered them, Harry quietly ate his breakfast. As far as anyone knew he had been in his room for the entirety of that night and had completely missed the panic that had ensued in the Great Hall. A fact that Draco brought up once more as Harry attempted to finish his meal.
"I can't believe that you missed out last night. I tell you, a bloody troll in the castle! I bet you he'll be crying about vampires next."
Harry sighed as this was the second time Draco had brought up the troll incident; once last night after the Slytherins had made their way back into the dormitories and the blonde had seen him relaxing near the fireplace in the commons.
Although in reality Harry hadn't missed the troll at all and had actually been the one to exterminate the creature. However Harry didn't mention that, since the headmaster hadn't told the school what had really happened he didn't see the need to tell anyone otherwise. Especially if word got out that a troll was able to freely enter the castle he doubted that the school would stay open for long, or at the very least the headmaster wouldn't be able to keep his position.
"Just eat your breakfast, I'm not trying to be late for potions today."
With just those few words the blond shut up as he finally began eating his food, grumbling with each bite.
After a while the Great Hall began to quiet down as the students started to make their way to their respective classes. The Gryffindor and Slytherin first years in particular made their way to the dungeons where they shared double potions.
The green-eyed wizard took his seat at his potions station, after which he watched as his fellow Slytherins partnered up. Today Draco had partnered with Pansy as usual, and Tracey was seated next to Daphne, meaning that his partner for today would be Blaise. Though Blaise wasn't better at potions than Draco, Daphne, or himself, the stoic Slytherin was the fourth best in potions right after Draco, well at least fourth best in Slytherin.
While Harry had been expecting Blaise as he turned to glance at his right, he was met with an entirely surprising person in the form of a bushy brown haired girl clad in Gryffindor gold and red. Keeping the surprise off his face, he looked around and saw that his assumed partner had decided to pair up with another Slytherin.
Even though there weren't any rules that explicitly said that the students could only partner up with members of their own house, it was unexpected to see a Gryffindor partnered up with a Slytherin. More so when there was an even number of both Gryffindors and Slytherins, which meant it wasn't necessary to make pairs with members of differing houses.
"Not to be impolite, but is there a reason that you've chosen the seat next to me?"
The girl seemed surprised that Harry had questioned her action, but she answered nonetheless.
"I didn't get the chance to say it last night, so I wanted to make sure I was able to tell you today: Thanks for saving me last night."
Harry chuckled lightly, "Whatever do you mean?"
Hermione's eyes became wide with shock.
"What do you mean by 'Whatever do you mean?' I could have died last night if you hadn't killed that troll."
Thankfully as shocked as she was, she was able to keep her voice low ensuring that the conversation remained between the two.
"Hmm, I'm pretty sure that the troll was never found and that it had all been one of Professor Quirrell's delusions."
A grin appeared on Harry's face as he spoke,
"And as far as anyone is concerned I had been studying in my dorm during the whole debacle."
Hermione huffed out a breath in response, only to relax seconds later,
"Regardless, thank you. I probably wouldn't even still be alive if it weren't for you."
『«Life Debt» recognized. Hermione now has the «Life Debt» status』
Curious as to the notification, Harry took a second to use his «Examine III» on his potions partner.
『Name: Hermione Granger
Status: «Life Debt [Harry] »』
Harry wasn't too impressed with the girl's overall stats, as his own had been greater than hers when he had been at that level. However her INT was nothing to scoff at – being higher than the rest of their peers, magical and otherwise.
As useful as the information was, at the moment it wasn't really what he was looking for, and with another «Examine III» directed at her statuses he finally found what he sought,
『Status Name: Life Debt [Harry]
Details: A magical bond formed between Harry Potter and Hermione Granger through the selfless act of saving an individual's life. The individual must perform an action that benefits the savior in order to fulfill the Life Debt』
"Hmm… Well this could be troublesome."
"What could be troublesome, Harry?"
"Oh nothing, just thinking out loud."
With that, Harry quickly set his equipment out for the class, seeing as the potions master had just entered the room signifying that the class would now start.
After the awkward two periods of Potions and an even more awkward period of History of Magic immediately after, Harry was finally free of the Gryffindor that had attached herself to him. In the solitude of the library he settled himself at his usual table hidden behind several shelves near the back wall where he could continue his independent studies without any interruptions, or so he thought.
Harry looked up from his books to see the bushy haired girl that he had already spent most of the day with.
"Granger, what brings you to this part of the library?"
Harry knew that not many people, if any, ever came this deep into the library, as most preferred to stay near the entrance where the library was most spacious; the table he was sitting at was enclosed by shelves and hidden far back in a corner.
The girl gave him a small smile before responding.
"Just wanted to study without anyone interrupting."
Harry chuckled internally, as that was same reason that he himself was situated so far into the library though it seemed to have failed seeing as he was still interrupted anyway.
Nonetheless, he wasn't going to let the presence of the girl bother him and continued about his studying, slowly increasing his skills while he searched for more useful spells.
After reading new spells, a notification would appear like always indicating that he had learned a new spell.
『The skill «Bluebell Flames» has been learned』
For spells that he actually deemed useful, it was a welcome notification. However for something like the «Bluebell Flames» it was just a mere annoyance; with «Fireball» and «Incendio» under his belt and both at much higher levels and thus more powerful, «Bluebell Flames» was a side note at best, especially since it would start at level 1. But one learned to take the pros with the cons as the benefits overall were still greater, and at least he wouldn't be surprised to find that skill in his skill list later.
Most of the books that he had read would only once in a while provide new spells, albeit fairly useless ones since each book, while written by different authors, contained more or less the same spells. Each time Harry encountered a spell that he had already possessed it boosted its skill level just a little bit more, depending on what was written. In some cases it was more profitable to read about the same spell over and over again than practicing the spell.
Hours later found Harry in one of Hogwarts' several hundred empty classrooms where he was in the process of practicing his «Sectumsempra» with the intention of leveling up the new spell. A goal which was working as the spell improved at a faster rate than the original cutting skill since it used up more MP. However he knew that the accelerated growth would only last so long until the spell's level grew higher and consequently more difficult to improve. In regards to his newly upgraded skills – «Fireball II» and «Diffindo II» – although they had reset their levels it was just as difficult to increase their proficiency as it had been when they were high level grade I spells.
After what seemed to be hundreds upon hundreds of spells casted, he ended his session with each spell at level 5, with most of the time dedicated to both «Fireball II» and «Diffindo II» since they both took more effort to improve. Exhausted from practicing Harry used a wandless «Accio» to bring one of chairs towards him, which he promptly collapsed into.
『The skill «Telekinesis» has been learned』
『The skill «Accio» has been lost』
『The skill «Wingardium Leviosa» has been lost』
Quickly examining his skill list Harry saw that his skills had indeed swapped and «Accio» was nowhere to be seen in his skills list.
Harry scratched his head in confusion before he got up from his seat. Harry pointed his wand at another chair in the room and said,
The chair in question merely remained in the same position as though it were mocking him. After putting away his wand he instead held his hand towards the chair resorting to using wandless magic instead,
"Alright then, «Accio»"
With just the single incantation, he willed the chair to him in the same manner as the one that he had sat on earlier.
Not grasping the difference between using what he thought was his «Accio» skill wandlessly or not, he decided to check the skill description itself for the answer.
『Skill Name: «Telekinesis»
Skill Level: 1
MP Cost: 10
Details: The power to manipulate object with the mind』
Even the normally precise «Examine III» hadn't been much use here. Except it told him that objects could be moved with his mind, not a wand or hand as he had been trying to do. With this new information in hand he began to will the desk at the front of the room, using neither his hands nor wand, to move towards him.
Testing out the skill more he found that he could move the object he wanted up, down, left, right, or diagonally, as well as control multiple objects at once. The only caveat was that each additional object increased the MP drain by 5.
Although he could no longer use this particular skill with his wand, Harry could see the many benefits of «Telekinesis», one of which being that it was a ton of fun to use and made him wonder why he hadn't discovered it earlier. The thought reminded him that he had used «Accio» exclusively with his wand and made him realize that skills were different depending on whether it was used with a wand or wandlessly.
After playing with the new skill for a while, he suddenly dropped the objects that he was playing with having realized something,
"Hmm… if it works with this, then what about…"
With a face full of concentration Harry began attempting to prove his theory, interested in whether or not it would work. Using neither his wand nor his hands he focused on a single chair with a gaze so intense that one would expect the chair to explode at any moment.
With no warning whatsoever, the chair did in fact explode in a sudden fiery blaze, eliciting an excited shout from the black haired youth.
『The skill «Pyrokinesis» has been learned』
『The skill «Bluebell Flames» has been lost』
『The skill «Fireball II» has been lost』
『The skill «Fire Djinn's Arrow» has been lost』
『The skill «Incendio» has been lost』
"What? No wait! Cancel! Undo!" Despite Harry's attempts to cancel the loss of his previous skills, the skills seemed to have disappeared from his repertoire without hesitation.
Even though he had obtained «Telekinesis» from losing both «Accio» and «Wingardium Leviosa», it hadn't occurred to him that both were movement spells and that the new skill would replace any skill related to it. As such he lost all his fire spells in exchange for «Pyrokinesis». While the ability to manipulate fire freely and without using his hands or a wand was very appealing, the time and effort put into both his «Fireball II» and «Incendio» were lost to him now, which was a very depressing thought especially since he hadn't even had the chance to use either of them.
Harry skipped over trying to use the skills he previously had, since he knew the results would be the same from when he tried to use «Accio». Instead, from playing around and testing the limits of his new skill for manipulating fire, he found that perhaps his old skills were not so lost after all.
By creating a flame before forming it into a ball, he was able to create a similar effect to his «Fireball II» although it was less refined and slower to cast it. However now he could ignite objects from a distance, create walls of flame, create an effect similar to «Incendio», and create fire arrows similar in function to «Fire Djinn's Arrow». Unfortunately, in regards to the fire arrows, the ability to lock on to targets was fairly limited, as the arrows could lock on but only to an area not an individual object. Still, it was similar to firing an actual arrow, only one made of fire which didn't require a bow.
Another positive effect of the new discovery was that it applied to other elements as well.
Air resulted in «Aerokinesis», ice created «Cryokinesis», electricity formed «Electrokinesis», water spawned «Hydrokinesis», and earth made «Terrakinesis». Unlike fire, ice, electricity, and water, which Harry could now create freely from nothing, earth couldn't be similarly created and could only be deconstructed and reconstructed from the surrounding materials.
Fortunately he didn't have any spells categorized as ice, electricity, earth or water else he would have lost them, and with them the time and effort put into mastering each of the skills.
After a few hours the exhaustion of using up the majority of his MP in order to level up his newly acquired skills and losing his most beloved fire skills had caught up with him. With a few quick shortcuts, Harry had made his way back to the Slytherin dorms, where he could rest and restore his MP.
Several weeks passed by in a blur between normal classes and extracurricular classes afterwards followed by independent studies or training, leaving Harry's schedule filled to the brim. Yet his full schedule didn't isolate him from his fellow Slytherins or a certain Gryffindor, who had taken it upon herself to be his partner during nearly every class. She was only deterred when another Slytherin would take pity on him by partnering with him first.
The fact that a Gryffindor was partnering with a certain green-eyed Slytherin became common knowledge within Slytherin and surprisingly, not many Slytherins seemed to care; although there was rivalry between the two houses it was simply another tradition which behind closed doors meant nothing to the upper years. According to the prefects the most common colors that were found in broom closets were pairs of green and red. Apparently forbidden love between rivaling houses was the most romantic idea and most common as well. Not to mention how many wizarding children were actually conceived from parents of different houses.
While at first glance it seemed the two houses hated each other, if one were to take a closer look they would see that the two houses were more similar than they thought and with it inklings of close friendship could be glimpsed.
Although most of the students didn't care one way or another about the first year's relationship, a certain blonde was most irritated by the girl.
"Hey Harry, can you spare a moment?"
Harry looked up from his current work and saw that the person who had gotten his attention was the Malfoy heir. Oddly the blonde's voice was fairly quiet and polite, which could only mean that they would be speaking of private matters.
"Yeah. Just give me a second to clear this up."
Gathering his work along with his belongings Harry got up and led the blonde out of the common room.
After finding an unused and secluded classroom and warding it from noise from both sides, Harry sat himself in a chair in front of Draco and asked,
"What did you want to talk about?"
"Noble houses such as ours shouldn't lower our standings by mingling with those of lower births."
'Just like I suspected.'
It wasn't surprising that Draco had a problem with the muggleborn girl; he was the heir of house Malfoy after all.
"And why not?"
Although Harry wasn't immensely fond of the muggleborn he most certainly didn't hate her.
"Why? Because she's a muggleborn, which means that she's lesser than us."
"Hmm, is that so?"
"Of course it is."
Despite how polite the Malfoy acted in public even tolerating the presence of muggleborns, once in private he wasted no time in showing how really felt about muggleborns.
However this behavior extended to almost all purebloods especially in the older generation, since they came from a lineage of wizarding families; both light and dark families included. It wasn't any secret that Harry's own grandfather was not pleased by James's choice of a wife, even though they were a light family. Although light families generally advocated the rights of muggleborns, it was not due to a belief in equality but more out of a sense of pity at their poor treatment in the Wizarding World.
On the other hand Harry who was birthed from the conception of one pureblood wizard and one muggleborn witch, didn't attribute his skill to being of better blood since he was better than both purebloods and muggleborns alike for his age group; an opinion he shared with the blond.
"Then I highly doubt that Lord Malfoy would be pleased that you are not doing better than the muggleborn or a half-blood like myself in class. You know, your blood being better and all."
The words had trouble making their way from the blonde's lips and Harry could see the gears turning in Draco's head as he tried to make a counter argument.
Draco knew that Harry excelled in various skills far surpassing his own even if said green eyed boy was technically of a lesser birth than him. After several seconds Draco let out a sigh,
"Father is going to scold me for letting that muggleborn best me in any subject."
"You'll live." Was Harry's unsympathetic response.
The weeks had gone by fairly quickly and before most knew it, the holidays had arrived. With Christmas so close most students left to celebrate the holiday with their families leaving only a handful of students at the castle. One of those staying behind was Harry, although Draco had invited him to spend the holiday at Malfoy Manor which he had declined; Harry had other plans instead.
Said plans included exploring a certain door on the third floor, and the trapdoor that the Cerberus guarded.
Harry would have explored the room weeks ago, but with the mishap of losing his most powerful spells, he was forced to spend several weeks in order to improve his new skills. On a positive note, he felt that he was more prepared to explore the room now than when he had first planned to. Within the time that he had leveled his skill he had learned a skill that would help him stealthily move about the castle at night.
『Skill Name: «Disillusionment»
Skill Level: 10
MP Cost: 5
Details: Bewitches a target to act as a chameleon, taking the color and texture of that which is behind and around it』
With his «Disillusionment» and «Stealth» skills he could avoid being caught by the professors during their nightly rounds. Also, with each of his kinesis skills at level 15, he hoped any adversary he met wouldn't prove undefeatable.
Once the sun had gone down and the remaining students had retreated to their individual dorms, the green-eyed Slytherin made his way out of the dungeons unseen by the paintings that adorned the halls.
Three hallways and a flight of stairs later found Harry in front of the locked room on the third floor. Quietly Harry unlocked the door with the use of his «Alohomora II» and snuck into the room.
Even though he had known that there was a Cerberus in the room, it had only been on the map which had a dot labeled «Cerberus [Fluffy]» . Never having seen a Cerberus before Harry was surprised at how large the creature truly was. The troll had stood at nearly 15 feet tall, while the Cerberus stood at almost twice its height and triple its width. Its massive claws and exposed fangs glinted from the limited light in the dark room, and its black fur seemed to absorb the light around it; it was truly a beast to behold as its frightening form lived up to its namesake, the guardian of the underworld.
Staying safely out of its reach Harry took the time to bring up the beast's stats.
HP: 64,567/ 64,567
Abilities: «Heavy Fur» «Hellspawn»』
The moment he saw its level and health he gasped, signaling to the beast that he was in the room. In a flash the beast charged at him with claws extended and fangs bared, Harry only had a moment to react by forcibly throwing himself out of the way. While he had dodged the attack he was put into another predicament. Where before it had once been the Cerberus in front of him and the door to his back, it was now changed so that the Cerberus was between him and the only exit to the room. Even though Harry was quite confident in his skills, the level and health of the Cerberus was significantly off putting. In short Harry highly doubted that he could whittle away enough at its health before he ran out of magic.
Before he decided on a plan of attack Harry used his «Examine III» once more while he still could, since it had reacted on sound it hadn't seen through Harry's «Disillusionment». This time the skill showed details on the Cerberus's ability.
『Skill Name: «Heavy Fur»
Details: Reduces magical and physical damage by 50%』
『Skill Name: «Hellspawn»
Details: Immunity against fire based attacks』
With these new revelations Harry's chances of defeating the beast dropped significantly. However defeating it or not he still had to try something; at the very least try to escape the room.
Harry attempted to conjure a few ice arrows using his «Cryokinesis» only for the Cerberus to rush at the loud sounds of condensing ice forcing Harry to dodge yet another charge. The move put him now between the door and the Cerberus, but he dared not move, not trusting that he was fast enough to reach the door before the beast mauled him to death and devoured his lifeless corpse.
Each of the elements took time to form and with the speed of the beast being what it was, Harry didn't have any time to use any elements before the Cerberus would dash at him. It became a waiting game between the two, the beast that knew he was in the room and the wizard that knew that he couldn't escape.
Perhaps he could wait until the beast fell asleep, however looking at how feral the Cerberus was from the knowledge that its prey was in the room it didn't seem as though it would be falling asleep anytime soon. So, with only a half direct and half indirect tactic left, Harry began to counter while trying his best not to make a sound.
Since his movement was limited Harry used the freeform aspect of his skills and attempted to freeze the Cerberus to immobilize it in order to make a quick getaway, which immediately turned out to be a bad idea. Each time a part of the Cerberus was frozen over it would thrash about to break off the ice. Luckily none of the fragments were able to hit Harry since he could deflect them due to his power over the element, but the Cerberus's flailing was random and could result in the beast inadvertently crushing him underfoot.
This now meant that out of his six elements two were now eliminated; fire was ineffective against it from the get go. However, his attempts to electrify, blast with water and wind, and sink the Cerberus into the floor had done nothing other than enrage the beast further.
Nearly twenty minutes of testing his various elements only resulted in dealing around 5,000 points of damage and using up quarter of his total magic. With a twelfth of the Cerberus' health gone, but with three-fourths his magic left he could quadruple the total amount of damage dealt before his MP ran out; not enough to deal a decisive blow.
All in all his skills were devastatingly fast and powerful and would obliterate normal monsters like trolls, but faced against magically resistant and high HP monsters such as this one it wouldn't be enough. While Harry was safe from detection and harm since it couldn't find him, he couldn't do anything about defeating the Cerberus.
At times like this wished that he could use his «Apparition». Sadly though the castle had an «Anti-Apparition Ward» keeping him from just teleporting out.
As Harry thought about «Apparition» another thought occurred to him. The idea to simply use «Telekinesis» to quickly and silently move himself through the door. Since with «Telekinesis» he could control the speed that the object he had under his control it would be far faster than running and guarantied his escape. Harry smacked his forehead for forgetting his other non-combat skills.
Unfortunately the resounding smack drew the attention of the Cerberus that he had been beating on, which had left it irritated from the multiple annoying little attacks it had been unable to find the source of. It charged at the new sound with a righteous fury, only to crash into the wall as Harry whisked himself away as fast as he could.
Finally safe from the higher-level beast, Harry took a deep breath realizing that the promise of death that the headmaster had mentioned earlier was no joke. He wondered why the headmaster had the Cerberus there in the first place; if he couldn't do anything against it he couldn't imagine what would happen if another first year had encountered it instead. At that thought, a shiver ran up his spine knowing that anyone else would most likely be dead.
AN: Beta'd by Prince Mikhail