Okay, so I have been wanting to write something in the Harry Potter fanfiction for awhile now. The problem with that is coming up with an idea that hasn't been done a thousand times already, better than I could possibly do it.

I can't exactly say for certain that this is an original idea, because very few, if any of those exist with as many talented fanfiction writers there are crafting their works in this particular universe. What I can say, however, is that it seems unique enough to me to catch my own attention and let me write all of this first chapter in a single sitting.

Let me know what you think, and if you'd like to see any more.

Disclaimer: Believe me, if I owned Harry Potter or any of the characters therein, I wouldn't be eating ramen for lunch. Okay, that's a damn lie, ramen is delicious. But it'd be gourmet ramen. Like, seventy-five cents a package, at least. But no, everything Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling and her people. I'm just taking a stroll through her playground, messing with her toys.

Chapter One

Daphne Greengrass was having a decidedly trying evening.

It had begun earlier that day, just after the History Of Magic exam that had finished out her first year of education at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She wasn't certain whether it was very appropriate, or exceedingly not that they had closed out the year with the exam for a subject which she had learned the least about in the actual class itself. The point remained that Binns was a joke, but her parents had ensured almost from birth that their eldest offspring and heir was well tutored in all subjects long before her actual wizarding education had begun. That included an extensive and thorough knowledge of the history of the magical world.

The illustrious position of heir to the Ancient and Most Noble House of Greengrass came with a not insubstantial amount of benefits. She never lacked for any material wealth, and the purity of her blood meant that she was destined to be a very powerful witch. Her political reach was likely limited only by her ambition.

In short, she had the entire world ahead of her.

That being said, there were a few prices to pay for such enjoyable assets. First and foremost among those was that she was expected to maintain as near to perfect marks as humanly possible. It was a condition that her father, Adelbrecht Greengrass, had stressed repeatedly throughout the year.

Not that Daphne's marks were lacking. She had remained near the top of her class throughout the year.

That, in a nutshell, was the problem. She had been near the top, but had never quite reached it. There was one student in their grade that consistently beat her in every academic category.

Hermione. Granger. The name boiled through Daphne's mind whenever she thought it, because it was Granger's fault that her father had threatened to take away her promised trip to Rome this summer. He had said that if she couldn't even outscore a muggle-born who had been a part of their world for less than a year, then she clearly wasn't trying hard enough.

With effort, Daphne had finally convinced her father to allow her to go if she could simply match Granger's marks. That had been a month earlier, and she had spent the rest of the time since cramming as much knowledge into her head as she could. She did little else other than study, so desperate was she to take this trip. Rome was going to be glorious, and it was just the escape she needed after this year.

When she wasn't studying, Daphne was glaring. She scowled with all she was worth at Granger's back, only to have the girl remain utterly oblivious throughout.

That was the most infuriating part. Daphne considered Granger to be her primary nemesis, her archenemy, while Granger herself seemed barely aware of her existence.

Finally, all that studying had been put to the test. Daphne had been confident throughout, but there was one subject which she was still tentative on. Her Defense Against The Dark Arts exam had included several questions that she was not one hundred percent confident about. So, nervous as she was about the outcome, she had decided to go and pay a visit to Professor Quirrel to see if the sorry excuse for a teacher could at least tell her whether she'd been right or not on those questions.

When she had approached the professor's office, loud voices from within had stayed her hand before she would have knocked. Standing there outside the office door with her hand raised, Daphne had tried to listen to enough to know whether it was safe to interrupt or not.

Unfortunately, every word that she had heard had convinced her that not only should she not knock, but that turning and running the other way was absolutely the best option.

There were two voices, and they seemed at first to be arguing. After a few words however, Daphne realized that one voice, the one she recognized as Quirrel's (though he wasn't stuttering), wasn't so much arguing as frantically apologizing. The second voice, unfamiliar as it was, still sent a chill through her pure-blood veins.

After only a few sentences, she had been able to pick out that Quirrel and his mysterious guest were planning to steal some kind of stone that Professor Dumbledore and the rest of the faculty had been protecting. Apparently this stone, whatever it was, held some incredible power.

The Defense against the Dark Arts professor had groveled to the other voice, begging forgiveness for his repeated failures while promising to kill anyone in the school who got in his way this time.

Hearing that, Daphne had taken a quick step back while gasping softly.

It had apparently not been a quiet enough gasp, because both voices within halted immediately. Fearful now, Daphne had turned to run. Unfortunately, before she had taken more than three steps, the door behind her had opened. She heard a muttered curse just before the stunning spell slammed into her back and knocked her sprawling and senseless.

Now, after who knew how long, the Greengrass heir was found herself tugged back to consciousness by two voices.

"Well? What do you see?"

"I see myself shaking hands with Dumbledore. I-I've won the house cup for Gryffindor."

The first was the treacherous professor. The second, however, was very obviously not the voice she had heard before. Instead, the voice was that of another.

"Potter." Daphne managed to get the name out while opening her eyes to see what was going on. She still felt groggy, but the effects of the spell that had struck her were fading. "He's evil."

Apparently Quirrel or his mystery guest had simply carted Daphne down to... wherever they were now and dumped her into a corner. Her wand was missing when her hand went to its pocket, not that she thought much of her chances against the DADA professor, let alone his companion, whoever and wherever they were.

But with Dumbledore's golden boy, the eponymous boy-who-lived here, then maybe between the two of them they would have had a chance. If she'd still had her wand.

For his part, Potter was staring at her. "Where did you come from? How did you get down here, D... Debbie?"

Merlin's blood, was he serious? "Daphne." She all but spat. Clearly Dumbledore's protege, and they all knew that's what the boy was, hadn't bothered to get to know who any of the Slytherin students outside of Malfoy and his oafs were. He probably thought they were all just like the great blonde prat, no matter any evidence to the contrary. Especially with Weasley muttering in his ear. Potter had probably been told something patently ridiculous, like that rumor that every dark wizard came from Slytherin.

Sure, because courage without reason, intelligence without compassion, and loyalty without common sense had never led to anything bad.

Not that Daphne was going to claim to be some self-sacrificing embodiment of light and good. But she thought Draco was just as much of a prick as anyone else. Which was what Potter and his ilk didn't seem to get. Very few people liked Draco. But the Malfoy family was powerful, especially within Slytherin house, which meant they had to humor the boy or risk bringing the not-insubstantial wrath of his father upon their own families.

But clearly the intricacies of politics had never occurred to the vaunted Harry Potter. He probably mentally pasted Draco's face over every Slytherin robe he saw.

"The boy lies."

Daphne and Harry both jumped at the sound of the voice, which seemed to have come from Quirrel himself, though the man hadn't actually moved his lips. Great, was their DADA teacher evil and a schizophrenic ventriloquist? Fan-bloody-tastic. What next, Dumbledore the mime?

"Potter!" Quirrel definitely spoke that time. "Get back here! Tell the truth, what did you see?"

Before Harry could speak, and while Daphne herself was still utterly baffled about what was happening, that strange voice spoke again. It still seemed to be coming from Quirrel. "Let me speak to him... face-to-face..."

Quirrel protested that, whoever it was, wasn't strong enough yet, calling him Master. While they argued, Daphne snuck a look at Potter and mouthed, 'What the hell?'. The Gryffindor boy just shook his head and started to take another step backward, motioning for her do the same.

"Potter." The voice came, again, not from Quirrel's mouth. "You will see what you have caused, what I have become."

Rooted in place, Daphne stared along with Harry while the man reached up and began to unwind the turban from his head. It was, to be quite honest, one of the last things that Daphne had expected the crazy teacher to do.

But hell, this whole night was turning out to be utter insanity anyway.

At least, Daphne had thought that she understood the term insanity. At least she had until Quirrel finished unwrapping his turban to reveal his bald head and then turned around away from them.

She screamed. It was a short, sudden shriek that burst forth before she could stop it. Hand covering her mouth, Daphne stared with wide eyes at the face that seemed to push its way out of the back of Quirrel's head. The... face was terrible, and ugly, with eyes that were a harsh red, and slits for a nose like that of a snake.

Okay honestly, with that kind of image, no wonder people thought Slytherins were evil. They made snake-person faces come out of the back of someone's head!

Potter looked just as shaken, and the snake-face thing spoke again. This time they could actually see the thin lips move when the face-thing spoke, and quite truthfully, Daphne had preferred when she had to imagine where the voice was coming from.

"Harry Potter... You see what I have become? Mere shadow and vapor. I have form only when I can share another's body. There have always been those who were willing to let me into their hearts and minds. The unicorn blood has strengthened me. You have seen my faithful Quirrel drinking it in the forest to nourish me. Now, with the Elixir of Life, I will create a new body, a better body. So why don't you give me... the Stone... in your pocket?"

Wait, stone, Elixir of Life? What was going on? Who was this—Daphne's blood ran cold. Wait. Enemy of Harry Potter, needed a new body... could this be... A whimper escaped the girl. While she had not been alive long enough to remember any of the Dark Lord's previous reign, she had certainly heard and read enough about it.

"Potter!" She hissed out of the side of her mouth. "Give him the stone." When Harry shook his head and took another step back, she stared incredulously. "Hecate's Teeth, Potter, you really think you can stop him?! I know everyone thinks you're going to be the second coming of Merlin himself, but you're not even twelve yet!"

"If he gets it," Harry said softly, his hand pressed deep into his pocket. "He'll come to power again. He'll kill a lot more people."

Her eyes rolled. "Oh and I'm sure a pair of muggle jeans and a boy who barely knows how to cast an unlock spell is a real insurmountable roadblock in that endeavor. Just survive now and let the adults handle it later."

The... the face-thing, because to call it anything else would terrify her too much, spoke again. "Listen to the girl, Harry Potter. Maybe you can both survive this. After all, I would much rather come back to kill you at the height of my power, and it will take some time for the body created by the Elixir to become viable. Years, perhaps. You could even progress far enough in your training to be vaguely less pathetic of a threat. Yes, I think that would be best."

Quirrel turned back to the two students, and Daphne sincerely hoped that he stayed turned around. Just thinking about that weird face-thing made bile rise in the back of her throat.

"Now give me the stone, boy." Quirrel demanded, lunging forward to grab Potter's arm before he could pull away. "Give it here!"

The moment that the professor's hand closed around Potter's bare arm, both of them screamed as though in agony. Daphne could see hot steam rising from the point of connection, and Quirrel almost immediately released the boy. Blisters were rising on his hand as Quirrel stared in disbelief.

"The boy burns me, Master!" Quirrel wailed. "My hands, I cannot hold him!"

"The girl." That evil voice snarled. "Kill the girl if you do not get the stone."

Then that wand was pointed at Daphne, and she found herself staring in frozen terror. "M-me? W-w-wait, I barely know him. I'm not a good hostage. He doesn't like any Slytherins."

"Too bad." Quirrel shrugged one shoulder. "You might have been useful alive then." His mouth opened, but before he could speak, he was interrupted.

"Wait!" Potter had dug the stone out of his pocket. "Wait, wait. Don't hurt her."

Daphne had to stare at the boy in a mixture of shock and confusion. What the hell was he doing? He'd been willing to die himself before handing the stone, but one threat toward her, a girl he didn't even know, and he was ready to capitulate?

"Drop it on the ground, boy." Quirrel hissed, the voice behind his head muttering in a mixture of agreement and anticipation.

Giving Daphne a sad look, Potter held the stone out, seemed to wait a moment, then abruptly threw it hard at the man's face. Quirrel flinched, and then Potter turned away, yelling for Daphne to run.

She ran, straight back toward the door, only to see black flames covering the doorway. She slowed then, only to hear Potter right on her heels shout for her to keep going.

Terrified of the fire, but even more frightened of what lay behind, Daphne ran straight for the flames. Just before she reached them, a the heavy weight of the boy on her heels crashed into her. She screamed, but Potter's arms wrapped tightly around her from behind as he tackled her forward through the flames. The boy had wrapped himself as much as he could around her slightly smaller form, covering her with his own body as they passed through the fire.

The scream of agony was terrible, deafening Daphne just before they landed hard on the floor in the room beyond. Potter couldn't stop screaming, and she had to struggle to get out from under the thrashing boy. His cries of pain were so awful that they distracted her from the painful burning sensation of her own face. She had been caught by the flames somewhat, but nowhere near what Potter had suffered.

Whirling around, Daphne stared back at the black flames they had just come through. The shadowy, insubstantial outline of Quirrel appeared on the other side. She tensed, watching with wide, terrified eyes. If he came through, what could she possibly do about it?

Nothing. There was nothing she could do. But the figure on the other side of the flames simply stood motionless for several moments, then turned and began to walk away.

When the figure didn't reappear, Daphne turned to what remained of her fellow student. She felt even more bile rise in her throat at the sight before her. The black flames had destroyed Potter's skin. His glasses lay broken several feet away, his hair had mostly been burnt off, and the smell... Her hand covering her mouth did little to muffle the scream tore its way through her ragged throat.

His eyes were on her, and he was trying to speak. Quickly, Daphne moved to him. "I-I'll get the healer, Potter-Harry. I'll get Pomfrey." She stammered uncertainly.

His blackened, charred face turned to her, and Daphne felt tears of sympathetic agony rise up as she saw how much even that little motion cost him. His mouth opened, and he was clearly trying to speak. She had to lean closer, whimpering as she did so, to hear him.

"Please." Harry's words were so soft, so pain-filled, that she could barely understand. "Don't... let him... kill... everyone.

The boy's words, to say nothing of his actions, made no sense. He was in indescribable agony, and he was worried about other people.

What kind of boy could be like that? And more importantly, what kind of boy could be like that and still be dying?

"Just-just shut up." She told him. "Shut up so you don't die, Gryffindor idiot."

That was it, wasn't it? He was going to die. The boy-who-lived was going to die. He was going to be gone, and the last person to talk to him, the last person to see him alive, wasn't his family or friends. No, the last person to talk to him was someone whose name he hadn't even known.

And yet, in spite of not knowing her name, he had risked his life-no he had spent his life, to save her, to make sure that the flames didn't kill her. He had literally wrapped himself around Daphne to use his body as a shield against the flames.

There was something heartbreakingly unfair about that.

"Promise!" It was clearly as close to a shout as he could get, his burned hand grasping toward her. "Don't... don't..." He was clearly losing himself, fading so quickly that Daphne was certain he wouldn't speak again. He did, however. "Don't... let him... come back..."

She hesitated, staring down at his pleading gaze. She was just a kid! Pure-blood heir or not, she was a kid! How was she supposed to stop HIM from rising again? As soon as people found out that not only was they-knew-who coming back, but that the-boy-who-lived was dead, they would panic. Like blind, startled sheep they'd completely fall apart. She had barely turned twelve, and even she knew that the adults were utterly terrified of that creature.

The only thing that had even slightly held the Wizarding World together was the knowledge that they-knew-who was beaten and destroyed by a single young boy. Harry Potter. To find out that the Dark Lord had come back and finished the job, and that their savior was now gone forever?

The world would shut down. People who would have fought back would give up, would surrender just because Harry Potter was gone. There would be no stopping the Dark Lord from doing anything he wanted to, from killing everyone and taking over the world.

But Mordred's Bones, she was a Slytherin. She was supposed to focus on keeping herself alive, on gaining her own power and manipulating the world into being what she thought it ought to be. She wasn't a Gryffindor or a Hufflepuff. Courage and loyalty only went so far before cunning was needed to stop things from falling apart.

Cunning... The thought came to Daphne even as Harry's gaze began to droop. He was trying, desperately, to keep staring at her pleadingly. But the pain, the agony, was getting to be too much. His body was shutting down, and there was nothing that she could do about that.

Everyone in the wizarding world would surrender, would give up, when they found out that Harry Potter had died.

If they found out.

"I promise." She said before he lost himself completely. "Harry Potter, do you hear me? I promise. He won't win. People won't give up. I won't let them. Not after what you did. Hear me? Listen to me, do you hear what I'm saying? I won't let people give up. I know you don't know me, I know you don't trust Slytherins, but we're not all bad. We're not. And we're not all on you-know-who's side. That's-Harry, listen to me. Listen, I'm not going to let him win. I won't. Say you understand. Tell me you hear me. Harry? Harry?"

Daphne had no idea how much of that he had heard, if any. But he wasn't listening anymore. He couldn't listen. He would never listen to anything else again.

The-boy-who-lived... hadn't.

He was gone.

People would be coming. They would be there soon, and then everyone would know that Harry Potter was dead.

Which meant that she had to move quickly if this was going to have any chance of working. Cringing as she reached out toward the body, Daphne felt around what was left of his pockets and gingerly brought out the wand that she had seen Harry use.

Praying that she had time, Daphne felt around in her own pockets. Quirrel had taken her wand, but he'd left the little folding mirror that she used to do her makeup. Looking at herself in it, she winced. In spite of Harry's efforts to shield her, her face had still been fairly badly burned. She could feel the pain distantly, though with everything that was happening, it wasn't yet difficult to ignore. Her face was bright red, covered in blisters and almost unrecognizable.

Good. It meant no one would recognize her at first glance. And even when her skin was healed by Pomfrey, it would take days before it was back to normal. By the time her skin had fully healed, she would be away from Hogwarts.

Raising Harry's borrowed wand to her own head, Daphne used one of the first spells she had ever memorized. It was a hair styling spell. She usually used it just to make minute changes, but this time, she had a much more drastic difference in mind.

She rid her head of almost all of her hair, reducing it to an unhealthy mop on top of her head. The sight of her poor, once glorious hair, reduced so much made her want to weep.

But there were far worse things to weep about, and she still had to move quickly.

Before long her hair was styled, or rather, unstyled, as near to what Harry's had been like as possible. Another spell from her beautification repertoire turned her hair from blonde to Potter's black. The same color change spell switched her Slytherin robes to the Gryffindor colors.

Finally, Daphne picked up Harry's broken glasses. Breathing out, still questioning what she was doing but unwilling to back off now after the promise she had made, she tapped his wand against them and said, "Oculus Reparo."

Glasses fixed, Daphne sat next to the body of Harry Potter and stared for awhile. Tears, of confusion, fear, and worse, blinded her after a few moments.

He had saved her. He had lost his life to save hers, in spite of not knowing her. Even in spite of clearly thinking little of Slytherins as a whole. Still, he had died to save her.

So the least she could do, right now, was make sure that people didn't find out. They needed the-boy-who-lived far more than they needed Daphne Greengrass.

For as long as it took, she would pretend to be him. She would take Potter's place and let everyone think that she was the one who had died. Then they would still have Harry Potter, they would still believe there was a chance to beat the Dark Lord.

Meanwhile she would use anything she could to find that stone again. If it could bring she-knew-who back, then maybe it could do the same for Harry Potter.

She would pretend to be Harry, all while finding a way to bring the real thing back to life. After what he had done, what he had suffered to save her, it was the least she could do.

Because cunning didn't mean heartless.

But there was still one more thing she had to do, one more thing that made her feel heartless. Carefully, gingerly, she took the barely recognizable body of Harry Potter, and pushed him back into the flames.

For this to work, the body had to be completely unrecognizable. It had to be burned beyond any identification beyond her own word.

The smell did make her throw up finally. Turning away from it, eyes blinded by her own tears, Daphne emptied her stomach onto the floor, sobbing uncontrollably as she did so.

She could stop. She should stop. No one would blame her. No one would even know what she had tried to do, what she had thought she had to do.

No one except herself. And the only person that Daphne Greengrass had ever felt she had to answer to was herself.

Once she was sure there was nothing left to identify, she tugged the body back out of the flames and left it so that she could fold herself into a little ball and cry.

Curled up there on the floor with her knees drawn to her chest, Daphne almost didn't hear the approaching voices until they had reached the room. Finally glancing over her shoulder to see figures approaching the purple flames that filled the opposite doorway, she knew it was time to see if this was going to work at all.

With shaking fingers, she opened the glasses and slid them onto her own face.

Wow, Harry had been all but blind, hadn't he? She could barely see through the things.

"Harry? Harry, my boy." The voice of Professor Dumbledore was as shaken as she had ever heard it. "The wards told me someone had died. I-oh no. No, what has happened?"

"Professor..." Daphne began softly, not looking at the old man. She kept her glasses-blurred gaze on the body in front of her.

"It was Professor Quirrel." Her voice was hollow, empty. She didn't even have to try to make it sound different than her own. Even she barely recognized it. "He had... he had you-know-who... on the back of his head. He wanted the stone. He took the stone. I couldn't stop him."

She felt a hand, old but strong, pull her by the arm and turn her away from the ruined body. Then her face was pressed against Dumbledore's robe, and he held her there. "Who?" He asked, his own voice full of regret and sorrow.

Eyes closed as she pressed her burned face against the Headmaster's beard, she spoke softly. "Daphne, Professor... I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Daphne Greengrass, Professor Quirrel killed her. He killed her and he took the Stone."