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Harry stormed down the hall, Seamus, Dean and Ron struggling to keep up. He was angrier than he ever remembered being in his entire life. Dumbledore had simply dismissed everything he and his friends had toiled over for months! He hadn't even asked Harry about why he thought that Professor Snape was trying to get the Stone! He'd just sent them on their way like they were children (which they were-but that wasn't the point).
"Harry, wait up!" Dean said.
"Yeah!" Seamus gasped, doubling over when Harry paused, "You've got to slow down!"
Harry had stopped. He was breathing heavily as though he had just run a great distance. His friends gathered around them, all of them looking concerned. Harry found that he couldn't look any of them in the eyes. He felt as though he had disappointed them somehow.
"What do we do now?" Ron asked.
"We'll head back to the Common Room." Dean said firmly.
Harry nodded. There was nothing else for them to do now. Dumbledore had completely and utterly failed to deliver the justice Harry had thought he would. Harry hung his head and trailed after a newly empowered Dean and vaguely confused Ron and Seamus.
Harry glanced out of the hall window as they walked. A hooded figure came swiftly down the front steps of the castle. Clearly not wanting to be seen, it walked as fast as possible toward the forbidden forest. Harry narrowed his eyes. Even at this distance, he could make out the greasy black hair and distinctive limp. Snape.
"Harry, don't." Dean said, grabbing onto his arm, "Dumbledore said not to watch Snape anymore. He said he was trustworthy. Enough."
If he's so trustworthy, than why is he sneaking out of the Castle and heading towards the Forbidden Forrest?" Harry asked.
"I don't know mate, maybe something grows in there that he needs for his potions." Ron suggested.
"That's not true and you know it!" Harry snapped, "I'm going after him, even if you're too scared to come with me."
"Look, Harry," Ron said a little desperately, "I believe you, I really do-but this whole Snape thing has gone too far- I mean we took it all the way up to Dumbledore-let's stop this now before-"
"Before what?" Harry rounded on Ron. Ron held up his hands in surrender.
"Look, if you want to run off after Snape after Dumbledore told you to stop, than fine by me." Dean said. He was angry, Harry noticed, his hands were clenched into fists at his side, "But don't drag us into it-we're done." He turned on his heel and walked back towards the Castle. Seamus, who had said nothing during this entire argument, slunk after him. Ron hesitated.
"Well?" Harry said, "are you coming or not?"
"Yeah." Ron sighed, "I'm coming. I can't let you go alone."
Together, the two boys set off across the darkening grounds after Snape, weaving their way through the greenhouses so as not to be seen.
Suddenly, Snape broke into a run, disappearing into the tree line. The two boys trailed him as noiselessly and as quickly as possible.
Inside the forest, the trees were so thick Harry could barely keep Snape in his line of sight. He heard Ron whimper in fear as the trees slowly blocked out the light, but motioned for him to be quiet. They couldn't let Snape catch them. Harry had a feeling that detention would be the least of their worries if he did. Up a head of them, Harry heard Snape come to a sudden stop. He and Ron crept carefully toward a towering beech tree. In front of them, in a shadowy clearing, stood Snape, but, to Harry's surprise, he wasn't alone. Standing slightly further into the forest, with an air of someone caught red-handed doing something they shouldn't be, stood Professor Quirrell.
"What is he doing here?" Ron asked in a low voice. Harry shook his head. He had no idea what Professor Quirrell would be doing in the Forbidden Forrest at this hour. He had always seemed too nervous to so much as look in the direction of the dark-creature oasis.
Harry couldn't make out the look on Quirrell's face, but he was stuttering worse than ever. Harry strained to catch what they were saying.
"... d-don't know why you wanted t-t-to meet here of all p-places, Severus..."
"Oh, I thought we'd keep this private," said Snape, his voice icy. "Students aren't supposed to know about the Sorcerer's Stone, after all."
Harry and Ron looked at each other. Harry was excited. They were discussing the Sorcerer's Stone! He leaned forward. Quirrell was mumbling something. Snape interrupted him.
"B-b-but Severus, I -"
"You don't want me as your enemy, Quirrell," said Snape, taking a step toward him. Ron grabbed Harry's arm and was squeezing it very tightly.
"I-I don't know what you-"
"You know perfectly well what I mean."
"Harry-" Ron suddenly tugged at his sleeve, drowning out what Snape and Quirrell were saying, Harry shook him off and turned his attention back to the glade just in time to hear Snape say, "- your little bit of hocus-pocus. I'm waiting."
"B-but I d-d-don't -"
"Very well," Snape cut in. "We'll have another little chat soon, when you've had time to think things over and decided where your loyalties lie."
He threw his cloak over his head and strode out of the clearing. It was almost dark now, but Harry could see Quirrell, standing quite still as though he was petrified.
Ron tugged on his sleeve again, this time more urgently.
"What?" Harry hissed, turning his attention away from the petrified professor in the clearing. He looked in the direction that Ron was pointing and gasped.
Grazing just a few yards from them were two, snow white unicorns; a mother and her young. The moonlight glistened softly against their shiny pelts, sending what appeared to be sparkling droplets of dew in every direction.
They were beautiful, and Harry sat behind the tree, enchanted by them. The two unicorns moved past the hiding boys and into the glade. Harry's eyes followed them, and he noticed that he and Ron were not the only two that had noticed the unicorn's presence. Professor Quirrell was also looking at the two majestic creatures, his head cocked, almost as if he were curious.
It was sudden.
One moment, Professor Quirrell was standing, the next he was tearing into the adult unicorn's neck, with his teeth. All the air seemed to have been punched out of Harry's lungs. The young colt whinnied and tried to run, but in a sudden flash of green from Professor Quirrell's wand, it lay still and unmoving on the forest floor. The adult unicorn was still alive, kicking out as it too lay on the ground, pinned by Quirrell's weight on its neck. It was making terrible screeching groans that made the hair on the back of Harry's neck stand straight up. Professor Quirrell seemed to have melted into himself, his black cloak billowing around him, his turban askew.
He threw his wand aside and lunged again. With a sickening gurgle, the unicorn wheezed and lay still. An awful, slurping sound seemed to echo around the clearing and Harry realized, over the pounding of blood in his ears, that Professor Quirrell was drinking the beast's blood.
At that moment Ron let out what could only be described as a squeal. Professor Quirrell's head snapped up. His mouth dripping with silver blood, and he was breathing as though he had just run a mile. His eyes locked with Harry's. They were blood red.