Disclaimer – Everything you recognise belongs to JKR. All the rest is simply me playing in her sandbox.
The Cupboard Under the Stairs
Harry woke slowly, content in the feeling that he'd just had the best sleep that he'd ever had. He breathed in deeply, before frowning slightly at the feeling of hunger that was slowly growing in the pit of his stomach. With a stretch, he reached out for his glasses, only to find that the set of drawers that sat beside his four poster bed was missing.
Opening his eyes, he looked around. Wherever he was was definitely not the Gryffindor dormitories. Two large white screens sat either side of the narrow bed. A bright square of light above his head could only be a window. Anything further away than that was lost for the moment in the midst of blurriness.
Finding a small cluttered table on the opposite side of the bed from what he was used to, Harry peered at it until a comforting shape made him smile. Putting his glasses on caused a massive gasp to escape. The small table was filled with cards of all sizes and colours, all expressing the sentiments that he 'Get Well Soon'. Indeed, the cards weren't confined to the small table. The overflow cascaded across the window sill and some even looked to be stuck to the wall as well.
Two more small tables at the foot of his bed caught his attention. But these didn't hold cards. No, these tables were piled high with Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, Honeydukes Chocolate bars, Chocolate Frogs, and other delights that Harry had didn't know the names of. A couple of tiny posies of flowers had managed to survive in amongst the mountain of sugary sweets.
"Tokens from your many admirers," a wispy voice announced.
Harry looked up to find Headmaster Dumbledore beaming at him. He was rocking slightly on his feet, his hands clasped behind his back.
"Sir?" Harry asked, confused.
"The sweets and chocolates are from your fellow students, all wishing you a speedy recovery after what happened in the Entrance Hall. Alas, that recovery seems to have taken longer than we all would have liked," Professor Dumbledore explained.
And with that, it all came rushing back. The duel between Snape and Quirrel. Voldemort's face. Hermione and Neville nearly being blasted. Professor McGonagall falling. The floor under Snape exploding. The searing pain in his back when he jumped at the two girls. Him, trying to stop Quirrel / Voldemort by grabbing hold of their faces.
"How long have I been here?" he asked, picking just one of the many questions floating around in his mind.
"Three days," Professor Dumbledore replied. "Tonight, we have our Leaving Feast before tomorrow the Hogwarts Express is boarded to mark the beginning of the summer holidays."
Harry's eyes widened at the thought of being unconscious for three days. It was no wonder that he was feeling hungry.
"What happened, Sir? What was Quirrel trying to steal? And was that really Voldemort's face in the back of Quirrel's head?" Harry blurted.
"Well, considering that I only arrived after you had already dealt with the problem, quite nicely, too, I might add, although you did put yourself at some unnecessary risk, I dare say that you know almost as much about what happened in the Entrance Hall as I do," Professor Dumbledore replied, his eyes twinkling as he gazed at Harry.
Harry roughly shook his head. "I know that I saw what happened, Sir, but I don't know why."
"Ah, as to that, well, I think that that calls for some speculation on my part."
Stepping forward, Professor Dumbledore raised his wand and twirled it, creating a plush red lounge chair that he sank into. Then, steepling his hands, he looked at Harry over the top of his half-moon glasses.
"Now, in order to answer your other questions, perhaps it would be best to combine them into some semblance of order. It would seem that some time in his travels, Professor Quirrel encountered Lord Voldemort, or at least, what is left of Lord Voldemort and was unfortunately, possessed." Here he paused to peer more intently at Harry. "I must say that you are taking the fact that Lord Voldemort is still alive better than most, Harry."
Harry shrugged. "I guess that's because I just talked to Lord Voldemort."
"Indeed, indeed. Well, to cut a long story short, Lord Voldemort found out that I was keeping a little something that belongs to a friend of mine here in the Castle."
"A stone, Sir?" Harry asked.
"A Philosopher's Stone, Harry," Professor Dumbledore clarified and Harry could have sworn that he looked somewhat disgruntled that he had to do so.
"Why would he want to steal a Philosopher's Stone, Sir?" Harry asked.
"Well, my boy, one of the curious properties of a Philosopher's Stone is its ability to make a person immortal."
Harry nodded, immediately understanding why that would appeal to the greatest Dark Lord in centuries.
"So, Snape really was trying to stop Quirrel from stealing it?" Harry asked.
"Professor Snape, Harry, and, yes, he was. From what I understand, that duel was something to behold," Professor Dumbledore replied.
"Guess I did the right thing trying to distract Quirrel, then," Harry muttered, then, in a louder voice, "he looked like he was hurt pretty bad. Is he alright?"
"Professor Snape suffered a great many injuries but I am quite happy to announce that he, like you, will finally be able to leave the Hospital Wing today. Professor McGonagall also suffered no lasting damage," Professor Dumbledore smiled.
Once again, Harry nodded, thinking hard. Finally, he decided to simply ask. "Why has Sn … Professor Snape been so hard on me all year?"
"I'm sure that you've been told this more than once, but you resemble your father extremely. Except for your eyes. Your eyes are simply Lily's. But it is in the way that you look like your father that has been the problem for Professor Snape, I believe. You see, once, many years ago, your father and Professor Snape attended Hogwarts together and their … relationship was adversarial, to put it mildly."
"They hated each other, didn't they?" Harry asked, trying to understand what he was being told.
"In a word, yes," Professor Dumbledore replied. "There are other factors, of course, but that will do to be going on with, I think."
"Yes, Sir," Harry replied, then, another question popped into his mind. "I didn't kill Voldemort did I?"
"Your touch was able to hurt him, simply because of the power of the love that your mother left in your blood. But kill him, no, I'm afraid not, Harry. Lord Voldemort is still out there somewhere. He'll be forced to bide his time but I believe that we will see him again," Professor Dumbledore stated.
"Why did he try to kill me when I was a baby?" Harry asked.
Professor Dumbledore stared at Harry a long time over his half-moon spectacles before answering. "That, I am afraid, will be a story for another time. When you're older, I think." Here, he raised a hand as if to stop any protests that Harry might make.
"Now, I think that my time here is about to be curtailed," Professor Dumbledore stated as he suddenly rose from his chair before vanishing it.
At that moment, Madam Pomfrey bustled around the curtains and began muttering as she started waving her wand up and down Harry's body.
When Harry next looked up, Professor Dumbledore was gone. In his place, a dark haired man paused as he walked past the end of the bed. Harry's eyes met the deep black eyes of Professor Snape before the potions master gave a single nod and walked off.
"Flip over, Mister Potter, so that I can check the cut on your back," Madam Pomfrey ordered, bringing his attention back to her.
After a quick, queer look to work out what she meant, Harry complied. His pyjama shirt was pulled up for a minute before being flipped back down.
"That looks good, Mister Potter. I'm sure that the scar will fade over time, but it's clean and clear without infection. Now, I'll have a tray brought to you and once you've eaten everything on your plate and I've checked you over once again, I'll let you leave."
"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey," Harry smiled.
With a nod, she bustled off. His tray, when it arrived, was brought to him by the two people he'd been longing to see since he woke up, along with one unexpected visitor.
"Hermione! Neville! Hagrid!" he exclaimed happily.
"Oh, Harry, It's s' good ta see ya awake!" Hagrid near blubblered, "when I saw ya after wha' happened …"
"Yeah, mate, great to see you up and about again," Neville agreed.
Hermione, on the other hand, seemed to think that words just wouldn't be enough. Instead, she flung herself at Harry's bed and wrapped her arms around him in a bone-crushing hug.
Harry froze, unsure what to do. The closest that he could ever remember coming to being hugged before was when he was teaching Hermione to fly. And at least then she was behind him and he didn't need to do anything. Finally, he brought one hand up to gently rest on her back. Immediately, Hermione's hold on him intensified.
"Oh, Harry, I was so scared for you," she said from somewhere near his neck.
"It's alright, Hermione. Madam Pomfrey fixed me right up," he said.
He was incredibly thankful that Hermione's bushy hair hid him from view. He was sure that both Neville and Hagrid would be snickering at him. And just when he was starting to get used to the feeling, Hermione released him and sat up.
"Ah, Harry, I can' stay long. Gotta finish me packing," Hagrid said.
"Packing? Are you going somewhere?" Harry asked.
A shy smile broke out on Hagrid's face. "Yeah, Professor McGonagall got me a new job. Gonna be workin' with dragons, I am."
"Hagrid, that's brilliant," Harry beamed. "You've always loved dragons."
"And I'll get to see Norbert, again. That's where I'm goin'. To the dragon reserve in Romania to work with Charlie Weasley," Hagrid explained. "O' course, Professor Dumbledore wasn' happy. Wanted me to stay, he did, but said he understood. Great man, Professor Dumbledore is, great man."
"We'll miss you, Hagrid," Harry told his biggest friend.
"Yeah, well, don't want ya to forget me, do I? So, I made this for ya," he said, thrusting a package at Harry.
"Thanks, Hagrid," Harry replied, taking the messily wrapped bundle.
Carefully so that he wouldn't rip the paper, Harry untied the package to reveal a red velvet book. Opening it, he gasped and felt his eyes start to water. There, just inside the front cover, was a picture of his parents, laughing and waving up to him.
"That was on their wedding day," Hagrid told him. "Knew ya didn't have any real pictures of 'em, even with that littl' book tha' you've been puttin' together. So, I sent away to all your parents' old friends askin' for pictures and put it together for ya."
In a shot, Harry had climbed up to stand on his bed and wrapped his arms as high around Hagrid as he could reach.
"Thank you, Hagrid, I love it."
"That's good, Harry. I'm glad," he smiled back. "Look, I better get going. I'll see you three at the feast, later, alrigh'?"
"Okay, Hagrid, see you then," Harry replied and watched as Hagrid lumbered back around the partitions.
Once he was gone, Harry flopped back down on the bed where Hermione immediately grabbed hold of his hand.
"So, what's been happening in the castle the last couple of days?" Harry asked, desperately trying to ignore his hand.
Harry, with Hermione on his right and Neville on his left, had barely entered the Great Hall when a pair of green-trimmed Slytherin girls ran at him.
"Harry, you're alright! We were so worried," Daphne Greengrass said quickly, reaching out a hand to touch his.
Harry paused as he considered the two. Daphne and Tracey Davis were first year Slytherins. He had a number of classes with them, but before today, he couldn't ever remember talking to them, let alone the two of them approaching him. He knew that his 'Boy-Who-Lived' fame was all over the school and after what he'd done to Quirrel, it was back in full force, but for two Slytherins to show such concern just didn't make sense.
"You don't remember, do you?" Tracey gasped, one hand covering her mouth in her shock after he hadn't responded.
Harry shook his head.
"The two girls you saved from that cutting curse that Quirrel shot out. That was us," Daphne told him.
It was as though a light suddenly popped on in his brain. "That was you?"
The two girls smiled. "That was us," Daphne stated. "We saw the cut on your back. How you managed to get back up after that and face Quirrel again was amazing."
"You had blood pouring down your back," Tracey agreed. "It was horrible."
"We know that that should have been us. We both owe you a massive debt. If there's ever anything that you need, you come to us, okay?" Daphne said, once more reaching out to touch his hand.
"Um, okay, sure," Harry replied, not sure what to think. "I'm glad that you two didn't get hurt or anything."
With a last smile, the two Slytherins turned and walked away to their House table.
"That was weird," Harry commented as the three of them walked towards Gryffindor table.
"Not really," Neville replied, and then, seeing the confusion in both of his friend's eyes, he elaborated. "Wizard's debts are pretty important. If you save someone's life, then they owe you a similar debt. In most Ancient and Noble families, a life debt like that one that Daphne and Tracey owe you would only be settled by a betrothal."
Harry stared. "WHAT?"
"Shh, Harry," Hermione admonished, then, turning to Neville, "is that why Daphne kept touching Harry?"
Neville shrugged. "Probably. But don't worry, only the Heads of the Houses can make those sorts of contracts and as you won't be Head of Potter House until you come of age, then Lord Greengrass and Lord Davis won't have any way to try to marry their daughters off to you."
"That's archaic!" Hermione announced, repulsed.
Shaking his head at this strange new facet of the wizard world, Harry took his seat. Suddenly, his head jerked up and he grinned evilly at Hermione.
"Hey, Hermione, if I remember correctly, I saved your life by battling a troll. Shouldn't that mean that you owe me a life debt, too?"
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. "I guess so."
"So, does that me we're betrothed now?" he asked innocently, causing Neville to nearly fall off his seat in laughter.
"No it does not. Prat," Hermione replied, swatting him on the shoulder, "and if you even think about saying anything like that to my parents …"
Her threat, though, was cut off by Professor Dumbledore standing up to the podium in front of the school.
"Thank you, everyone. Another year over and I hope that our brains are all a little fuller with not just knowledge, but also wisdom. Now, as I understand it, there's one last point to hand out before we announce this year's winner of the House Cup.
"To Mister Harry Potter, for having the courage and nerve to put his life in danger for not only his fellow classmates and teachers, but also for what is right, I award one hundred points."
A massive stomping of feet, clapping of hands and whistles broke out across the hall, but nowhere as loud as that which came from Gryffindor Table.
Professor Dumbledore put up his hands for silence and, once he had everyone's attention once more, he continued.
"Those well-deserved points, however, were not enough to put Gryffindor House in front of this year's winner, for the eighth time in a row, Slytherin House."
As Slytherin House Table went wild with their win, Professor Dumbledore clapped his hands and waved them across the hall, causing massive green and silver banners adorned with the Slytherin serpent to appear all along the walls.
"Yes, yes, congratulations, Slytherin. A well-deserved win," Professor Dumbledore clapped. "Now, on with the feast."
"Next year, it'll be Gryffindor's year," Harry stated firmly as the table nearly groaned under all of the delicious food that suddenly appeared on it.
Harry, Hermione and Neville enjoyed a quiet trip back to London aboard the Hogwarts Express. They'd managed to get a compartment to themselves and, while they had a constant stream of visitors for the first half of the trip, it was just the three of them for the most part.
All of their friends from the study group had popped in to wish them well for the holidays, as had Fred and George Weasley and, somewhat unsurprisingly, Daphne and Tracey. The rest of the Slytherin contingent was still in party mode which meant that they weren't subjected to Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle sticking their noses in where they weren't wanted.
Even through the chaos that was a couple of hundred students disembarking from the train, the three friends managed to stick together. Once their trunks were loaded onto a trolley each, their first stop was near the apparition point on the station.
"Hello, Neville," Madam Longbottom greeted her grandson.
"Hi, Gram!" Neville beamed.
"Mister Potter, Miss Granger," Madam Longbottom inclined her head. "I trust your year went well."
"Yes, thank you," Hermione replied.
"It's nice to see you again, ma'am," said Harry.
"Well, have a great holiday, guys. I'll send you an owl in a couple of days," Neville said.
"You too, Neville," said Harry.
Hermione threw herself at Neville to give him a quick hug. "Have a great summer, Neville."
And then it was just the two of them.
Together they waited their turn to scurry through the invisible barrier that separated the magical world of Platform Nine and Three Quarters from the muggle side of King's Cross Station. Within moments of stepping through, they located two small groups waiting quietly out of the way.
"Look, Mum, there he is, there he is! Harry Potter!" a high pitched squeak spun them around.
There they found Fred and George, Percy and Ron, along with a dumpy red-headed woman and a small, red-headed girl.
"Hello, there, Harry," the woman said. "I'm Molly Wesley. And you must be Hermione."
Harry and Hermione glanced at each other before nodding. "Hi, Mrs Weasley, it's nice to meet you."
"Have a great summer, you two," said Fred.
"Make sure you get into lots of trouble," continued George.
A whack on the back of his head from his mother saw him change his tune. "I mean, make sure that you don't do anything we wouldn't do."
A second whack changed his advice once more. "Be good, you two."
"Thanks again for the jumper and fudge," Harry said after grinning madly at George.
"Oh, you're welcome, Harry," Mrs Weasley smiled, one hand wrapped around her to where Ginny was now hiding.
"Well, we better go, our parents are waiting," Hermione managed to excuse them.
As Harry drew closer to the three Dursleys, his face fell. He could see that his uncle was already annoyed and impatient. The red in his face was growing and his tapping foot was going a mile a minute. Aunt Petunia was looking around nervously. Behind them, Dudley was huddled against the wall, both hands clamped behind him.
"Harry, you have to come meet my mum," Hermione said, grabbing hold of his sleeve.
"I don't know if there's time, Hermione," he replied quietly, "my Aunt and Uncle are waiting."
"Please, Harry, just for a minute. There's something that I want to give you," she pleaded.
With a sigh and a nervous glance at the Dursleys, he nodded.
Hermione beamed at him and took off on a bee-line for a small, slim woman who looked like an older version of her daughter. Her hair was long and wavy, giving him the impression that it once was just as bushy as Hermione's. The instant that she saw her daughter, her face lit up with a smile identical to the one that Hermione currently wore.
"Hi Mum! It's so good to see you again. This is my best friend, Harry," she introduced.
"Darling, I've missed you so much," Mrs Granger said, giving her daughter a hug before releasing her to shake Harry's hand. "It's so nice to finally meet you, Harry."
"Hi, Mrs Granger," he replied, glancing back to the fuming Dursleys.
"I know that you have to go, Harry, but I wanted to give you this," Hermione said as she plucked a rather big package that had been resting between her mother's feet.
Harry obediently took the heavy item from his friend while frowning in confusion at her. "What's this for?"
"Let's just say it's an early birthday present, okay?" Hermione beamed at him. "Open it later."
Knowing that it was never wise to argue with her, Harry simply nodded. "Okay, thanks, Hermione. Look, I'd better go."
"I know. Have a great holiday, Harry," Hermione said, before jumping in to give him a quick hug.
"You too, Hermione."
With a last wave, Harry turned to push his trolley towards his Aunt and Uncle.
"Still got that ruddy bird, then?" Uncle Vernon frowned before focussing on the package that Harry had placed on top of his trunk. "What's that?"
"An early birthday present from my best friend," he replied.
A grunt signalled Uncle Vernon's non-interest. "Well, come on, then."
The holidays had barely begun and already Harry's only thought was for ten weeks from now when, instead of pushing his trolley out of King's Cross Station, he'd be pushing it back in, ready to return to the Castle and his friends.
A/N – And there you have it, the final chapter of The Cupboard Under the Stairs and the end of Harry and Hermione's first year at Hogwarts. I really hope that you all enjoyed it. Thank you so much for all of the favourites and follows and reviews, they all helped immensely in motivating me to keep writing.
Since today also happens to be my birthday, my present to you is not only this chapter, but also the very first chapter of the continuing story of Harry and Hermione's time at Hogwarts. Hermione's Book Nook chronicles their second year. For those who would like to see what happens next, head on over and check it out.
I'll also add in a reminder that I plan to follow this story through the years and there have been aspects set up in The Cupboard Under theStairs that will come to fruition either in Hermione's Book Nook or even in a subsequent year. This is a story that's in for the long haul and not everything will get resolved quickly. I know that this first year has contained a lot of similar aspects to JKR's story, but the further down the track time progresses, the more things will change (and there's a couple of big important ones in the very first chapters of Hermione's Book Nook).
See you all then.
NB – If you liked this story, check out my profile page where you can find all of my FanFiction stories. Also there is a link to my Facebook page and my website where you will find all of my original stories as well.