A/N I'm away on holiday next week, hence why this chapter is early. There's another reason though that certainly helped inspire the author in me to type faster. I'm going down to London at the end of this month with the sole purpose of visiting the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour and can't wait... That's the genius of Jo Rowling, she can make someone who is definitely old enough to know better feel like a seven year old on Christmas Eve.
You're My Density
Chapter 14 - How Not to Solve the Tasks
Minerva was ready to lose her temper at two of her first years. "You're not even supposed to know about the stone, and you-know-who is gone. There are also other safeguards protecting the stone..."
Having been given a simple task, Neville was not about to fail his best friends. It was actually his temper that snapped first. So much so, he didn't even realise he was saying the Dark Lord's name. "Ron and the others don't know anything about Voldemort, or any of these other safeguards. All they know is how to get past Fluffy. If the rest of these safeguards are as dangerous as that three-headed monster then they won't have to worry about Voldemort. Unless Harry and Hermione can get to them first, they're all going to be dead anyway!"
Parvati was now crying while their Head of House tried to find fault in a pyjama clad first year's logic. A cold shiver ran down her spine when Minerva discovered she couldn't. She only knew her own contribution to the stone's protection, not anyone else's. It dawned on the Hogwarts' Deputy that, the claims of you-know-who' return aside, six of her Gryffindor first years were currently facing deadly danger. This was the exact moment her floo activated, a very familiar head appearing in the flames.
"Minerva, I see you're still up..."
"Amelia? Why are you calling at this time of night?"
"I received a note from Harry Potter, he claims Voldemort is in Hogwarts."
"We both know he's gone..."
"So, Dumbledore didn't set a trap on the third floor - using the Philosopher's Stone as bait?"
Minerva had no answer for that, but Neville did.
"Madam Bones, Harry has an old map of his father's that shows everyone inside Hogwarts. If Harry says he's here, you can bank on it."
Parvati was sobbing now as she pleaded for help. "Some of our friends have gone down there too - they're all going to die..."
Minerva explained that outburst to the Head of the D.M.L.E. "Despite being warned to stay away, some of my first years have stumbled into this situation. I was just about to raise some of the senior staff and head there."
"Minerva, my department have received a call for help, this is now a matter for the D.M.L.E. By all means call your senior staff. Myself and as many aurors as I can get my hands on will be flooing into your office in about five minutes. I'll want to know just what traps we'll face while investigating this matter."
Minerva could only nod in agreement but Neville had one more thing to say. "Madam Bones, Harry must have spotted the rest of them heading off to the third floor on his map. He and Hermione have gone after them."
With a determined nod as an answer, Amelia's features hardened. "Five minutes, Minerva. We can be briefed as we head toward this corridor. Time is of the essence here."
As they approached the door leading to Fluffy, Hermione took the shrunken music box Dumbledore had given them from her pocket and resized it.
"You just happened to have that on you?"
After opening the lid to start the music playing, Hermione shrugged her shoulders. "Better to have it ready and not need it than to be left trying to sing a lullaby to a slobbering monster with three heads."
Once they entered the room itself, Harry agreed wholeheartedly with his intended. His voice was barely above a whisper, waking Fluffy would be a really bad idea. "Shit, no wonder Neville is terrified of this. Hagrid really has a serious monster complex, doesn't he."
"Hey, wait until you meet Aragog. A carnivorous spider about the size of a truck you told me. I thankfully never met the creature, and hope not to this time around either."
Sitting the playing music box down on the floor, hopefully to provide safe passage for the aurors too, both edged carefully around the sleeping beast before jumping through the hatch in the floor.
There was barely enough Devil's Snare left to halt their fall. They kept perfectly still while surveying the damage. "Must have been Seamus. He sets fire to things without even trying. It's amazing to see what damage he can cause when he actually means to set something alight."
Harry was soon proven right. As they dropped to the floor, Seamus was lying in a corner of the room. He'd not only roasted the Devil's Snare but himself as well. His robes were scorched and charred, his hair severely singed but his hands seemed to have taken the brunt of the damage. They were red, blistered and some of his fingers had skin missing. His right foot was also at such an angle that his ankle simply had to be broken. It appeared the other three had left him here and simply pushed on ahead.
He was shaking like a leaf and didn't seem to know they were there. Harry knew at once what the problem was. "Hermione, he's going into shock. What can we do?"
Knowing they simply had to help, Hermione was working out excuses for explaining the spells she was about to cast. "I watched Madam Pomfrey treat you on the quidditch pitch." A numbing charm was soon followed by vanishing the bones in his ankle.
"He'll need to have those burns treated in the infirmary but I can at least numb the pain for now." She again cast the numbing charm on each of his hands. Harry removed his robe, intending to cover the shivering boy but Hermione transfigured that robe into a warm blanket.
The lessening of pain and the comforting heat from the blanket saw Seamus begin to take notice of his surroundings, and who was helping him. "Harry, Hermione, what are you doing here? Ron will be raging if you get to the prize first."
"Seamus, Ron's a fucking idiot - and there is no prize. We've sent for the aurors and they should be here soon. Hermione and I need to try and catch these idiots, before Ron gets one of you killed. You hang in there and try to stay awake."
"I'm so tired..."
"You need to stay awake. Recite poetry or something..."
They left the room to the strains of 'a hundred green bottles hanging on the wall' assaulting their ears as it was tunelessly being sung in Seamus' thick Irish accent. While the terrible singing faded, it was soon replaced by the noise generated from hundreds of flying keys flapping their metallic wings. The particular key needed to open the door wasn't having a very good night. It had now been captured twice and both its delicate wings were showing signs of damage. It couldn't really gain much height or speed so was relying more on stealth. Unfortunately, it was now faced with one of the best seekers ever to grace Hogwarts.
Harry didn't even need to use one of the supplied brooms. The key was barely six feet off the ground. With a running jump, he was able to pluck it out of the air and stick it in the lock for the third time tonight.
They hurried along and soon came upon McGonagall's chess set - or what was left of it. There were bits of chessmen scattered everywhere, setting the scene of an epic battle. A casualty of that battle was lying in the middle of the chess board, preventing the game from resetting.
Hermione ran her wand along an unconscious Dean Thomas as Harry struggled with something.
"You told me that last time, Ron sacrificed himself so we could go on. What is so different this time?"
"Everything's different, Harry. Ron doesn't know anything about the stone, or that Voldemort's after it. Last time he did. We all also knew only one person had ever stopped Voldemort, you really had to go on. This time he's sure there is some sort of prize or treasure involved. In Ron's mind, that will wipe the slate for this year clean. He'll be the Gryffindor hero, Ron will want that - badly. Badly enough to ignore all the warnings and even get people injured. Dean has concussion, not much we can do for him."
Harry transfigured some of the rubble into a pillow and a blanket. They made Dean comfortable before continuing. Knowing what was in the next room, Hermione was tempted to cast a bubble head charm on each of them before entering. That charm though was way beyond the capabilities of a normal first year and there was a chance of being caught. They would have to make do with holding their breath, and of course their noses.
Opening the door to escape the smelly troll saw them facing an unexpected problem. Fortunately it was one Hermione recognised. "They're trapped in the potions room."
The overpowering smell of their current location saw them retreating back to the chess set to discuss this latest challenge. "When I left you in that room, the purple flames disappeared. Instead, I was left facing that shimmering silver curtain we both saw. I stood there until the curtain disappeared, showing me the empty room because you had gone through the black flames."
"So, if Ron and Lavender are trapped in there, we sit here and wait for the cavalry?" After thinking that suggestion over, the grimace on Hermione's face told Harry she didn't like it.
"Two things wrong with that, love. Voldemort might get fed up staring at the mirror, he would then walk right into them."
Seeing that as a distinct possibility, Harry asked what the other reason was.
"I think Ron's too stubborn to admit he's beaten. I think he'll do something really stupid..."
"Stupider than coming down here in the first place? He'd be hard pushed to beat that."
"It's Ron we're talking about here, he has a natural talent for it."
Not being able to argue with any of that, Harry came to the obvious conclusion. "So, we go on. Will we get burned entering the room?"
"I think it will let us enter, it's designed to stop anyone leaving. I'm going to cast the flame freezing charm on it - just to be extra sure."
With their plan made, and no time to waste, they headed back in and past the troll. Hermione was glad she could silently cast, it saved her having to open her mouth - or let go of her nose. They gained entrance to the potions room where a sobbing Lavender was lying curled up on the floor. Harry knelt down to see if she was alright while Hermione checked whether the puzzle was still the same.
A distraught Lavender grabbed Harry and held on like a limpet. "He left me here. I can't believe he left me here."
"I can't believe he solved the puzzle..."
Still holding onto Harry, Lavender provided information that shocked both of them. "He didn't, Hermione. Ron kept shuffling the bottles about, trying to work it out. He then decided the ones that were supposed to be poison must surely be just a bluff. He said Dumbledore would never allow anyone to be poisoned for a test. Ron began drinking from different flasks until one made him feel cold. He then said there wasn't enough potion for two and just bloody left me here."
Trying to get her head around this, Hermione figured out just how much trouble they were in. "Harry, Ron's mixed up all the bottles. I just don't know which is which. While we both know Dumbledore wouldn't use poison, Snape certainly would. I don't know which flasks Ron drank from either, but the chances are the clock's already ticking."
Getting Lavender to her feet, and releasing her arms from around him, Harry then put forward the decision they were now faced with. "So, do we go back and leave the prat - or forward and try to save him?"
It was Hermione's arms which now snaked around him. "You're a great wizard, Harry. You know what you have to do." A gentle kiss followed before Harry reached his decision.
Amelia and a dozen aurors flooed into the Deputy Headmistresses office, to find an argument already under way. Amelia was even more shocked to discover it was Augusta's grandson who was standing up to his Head of House. She had to admit, Neville made a good point.
"If we're not safe with you and the aurors, we won't be safe anywhere else in the castle. I can't go back and just sit there, knowing what my friends are facing..."
"Minerva, we need to move - now. You two, stay at the back and out of trouble..."
"I'm charged with these children's safety..."
"...and what about the children who are already down there? Move Minerva."
Amelia left no one in any doubt who was in charge here. Minerva may not like it but Amelia had a job to do - and children's lives were on the line. Getting briefed on what they would face as they headed for the third floor, Minerva's hurt feelings became less and less of an issue for the enraged head of law enforcement. Seeing the first guardian had her ready to explode, she just didn't want to wake the beast.
Amelia was about to order the children to remain outside this door when she caught sight of them jumping down the hatch.
Neville had seen Fluffy before, and awake too, he didn't stand and stare. He had also heard the next trap was Devil's Snare and knew exactly how to deal with that. Taking Parvati's hand, they jumped in and were soon caught by the Devil's Snare.
Holding Neville's hand gave Parvati the confidence to relax and not struggle as the plant tightened its grip. As she'd been assured, they soon slipped through and dropped to the ground. Parvati wasn't sure what to expect but someone sitting singing never entered her mind.
"Thirty eight green bottles, hanging on the... Neville? What are you doing here? Parvati, you too? You were so right to stay behind."
At that, Professor Sprout dropped to the floor. "Mister Longbottom, I would hate to have to stun one of my favourite students. Stay there while I deal with this." The herbology professor soon had the Devil's Snare gone, and even placed a cushioning charm on the floor. There were soon aurors dropping into the room, much to Seamus' relief.
"Harry told me the aurors would come, and I believed him. Ron took us on this useless glory hunt, and I stupidly believed him too. Never again."
McGonagall took one look at the fallen Gryffindor and her heart sank. This was turning out to be worse than she'd ever thought possible, and this was only the second trap. Pomona volunteered to stay with the three students while Filius promised to return with a few brooms to get the students to safety. Minerva had sent a patronus message to Hagrid before Amelia had arrived, asking him to come to the castle and remove Fluffy. The music should keep the animal sleeping for now.
The Deputy Headmistress pushed on. Filius quickly had them through the flying keys and, with great trepidation, she approached her own trap. Spotting another of her Gryffindors lying injured on the floor saw Minerva McGonagall in tears, and Amelia's control on her temper run out.
"This is supposed to be a school. I sent my niece here and expect her to be kept safe. My department will be holding a full investigation on this matter. Stuff like this in a school is bloody outrageous..."
Minerva didn't even hear Amelia, she was too busy sinking to her knees in relief when her scan showed Dean Thomas was only concussed. Amelia left the both of them there as she and her aurors pushed ahead.
"Lavender, we need to go forward. You'd be much safer staying here..."
The girl in question was now clinging needfully to the couple. "Don't leave me here. I was going crazy by myself, I can't stay here. I'll feel much safer with you two, and I want a chance to kick Ron Weasley in the nuts for leaving me here."
"That get's my vote, Harry, and she should be safe with us. How are we getting through the flames?"
Lifting the bottles off the wooden table and placing them on the floor, Harry took out his wand and began transfiguring the now empty table. Harry soon had the table morphed into a hollow rectangle, about five feet high, just over two feet wide and around a foot deep. When Harry transfigured the wood into steel, Hermione figured out what he was up to.
"Genius, love. We'll have to be careful and not touch the sides, they'll get hot."
Nodding, Harry asked if they were ready before levitating his rectangle into the black flames. Lavender stood in awe as the structure pierced the black flames, leaving the inside portion of the transfigured table free from the deadly fire. They now had a doorway out of here.
Stepping through the space, Harry then pulled on his invisibility cloak. Facing the potions room and holding the cloak open, he gestured for the girls to join him. Hermione stepped through and snuggled into his right side, leaving Lavender clinging to his left. Closing the cloak, Harry now had an arm around each girl and all three were invisible to anyone else in the room. The black flames died but Harry's improvised entrance stayed in place - ready for the next person to use it. Cautioning Lavender to remain silent, they quietly shuffled off.
It took only seconds for the trio to turn a corner and come upon a strange scene. A Professor Quirrell who no longer stuttered had a bound Ron held in front of an old mirror.
"Tell me what you see, boy."
Ron's nerves seemed to disappear as he studied the mirror. He actually began to smile. "I see me, and I look bloody good. I'm Quidditch Captain - and Head Boy. Dumbledore is just about to present me with the Quidditch Cup..."
"Stupid fool. The stone, tell me how to get the stone? I can see it but don't know how to get my hands on it."
"I don't know what you're talking about, I can't see any stone. Wow, Dumbledore's now giving me the House Cup..."
"Let me speak with the boy."
"Master, you're not strong enough."
"I have strength for this, do it."
As Quirrell began unwinding his turban, Harry's hand slid up and covered Lavender's mouth. She knew what Harry was doing yet didn't understand the reason why. That was until that turban came off, then both of her own hands joined Harry's, pressed over her mouth too. Harry took his hand away and carefully passed Lavender on to Hermione, it would soon be time for him to make an appearance.
The face that appeared out of the back of Quirrell's head absolutely terrified Ron. When those red eyes focused on him, and it spoke, Ron pissed himself.
"I see you know who I am. You can see what I've been reduced to. The stone held in that mirror can grant me a new body. Help me get that stone and I'll reward you greatly - you will also live beyond today. If you can't or won't help me, I will have no further use for you. Whether you live or die is now in your own hands."
Ron was again facing the mirror, and ready to say anything that would see him walk out of here. Then he had his brainwave. "I see the stone but someone else is holding it. It's Potter. Potter has the stone you want."
Only the fact he'd just pissed himself stopped Ron from doing so again as he heard his name called.
"Weasley, you are so full of shit!"
Ron and Voldemort turned to face a Harry Potter who was standing there with his wand in his hand. "Ah, Harry, I was hoping you could join us. So glad you didn't disappoint."
At that, Quirrell turned side on and a curse came Harry's way. A curse he easily shielded against. "It would seem Quirrell is a better teacher than I gave him credit for."
"Don't flatter yourself, I had a far better teacher."
"Ah yes, your little mudblood. What is it with you Potter men that you deliberately insult your proud and ancient heritage with filth like that."
After needlessly telling Lavender to stay quiet and remain under the cloak, Hermione slipped out to help Harry. "You're growing out the back of a walking dead man's head yet you insult my heritage - what arrogance! You seem to forget, Tom, both of us have muggle fathers."
The scream of rage from Voldemort at hearing that saw Quirrell spin and start firing curses at Hermione. This had Hermione moving and shielding before an overpowered expelliarmus shot from Harry at the person who would dare attack his intended.
A shocked Quirrell saw his wand ripped right out his hand, though his enraged master paid that loss no mind. "Kill the bitch. I want her dead. Strangle her with your bare hands if you have to. Make sure she never utters that foul name again."
Hermione was ready to drop the now unarmed possessed wizard when she spotted an enraged Harry rapidly bearing down on him. With all thoughts of magic forgotten, Harry tackled the much larger wizard to the floor. He was on Quirrell's back and landing vicious punches into Voldemort's face.
"You took my parents, you'll never touch her. Never, never, never..."
The screams from Riddle and Voldemort rang throughout the room as Harry's punches hit home - doing unbelievable damage to their intended target.
The anger amongst Amelia and her aurors built as they came upon the unconscious troll, pushing on they entered the potions room. It hadn't been designed for this and didn't know how to deal with so many people entering at once. As the purple and black flames burst into life, Harry's configured exit was still in place. Through this opening, they all heard the screams coming from the other room. Amelia was through the improvised doorway in seconds, closely followed by her aurors streaming behind their boss.
Amelia went over and immediately pulled Harry off the figure on the ground, her aurors keeping it covered with their wands. Even although the face and head was beginning to slowly disintegrate, all could easily discern who the face belonged to. If that identity was in any doubt, the verbal bile it was spouting offered confirmation.
"Potter, you and your mudblood will die under my wand. Lord Voldemort will return..."
Hermione dashed over and now had her arms protectively around Harry, a shocked Amelia releasing him into her care. Harry wasn't about to stand there quietly though.
"We'll still be waiting to kick your arse if you return, Tom. Now, do us all a favour and fuck off."
The room was packed with aurors, all standing there in awe of what they were witnessing. Here was the fabled boy-who-lived telling the supposedly deceased Dark Lord to fuck off. How in the name of Merlin were they supposed to write this one up.
Hermione was holding a trembling Harry tight and whispering in his ear. "I'm here, Harry. I'm never going to leave you. I'll always be here for you. I love you. Now however would be a good time for Prongs to make an appearance."
They'd kept up their practice all year but Harry hadn't quite managed a corporal patronus yet. With a dying scream of 'Potter', Voldemort's dark essence began to leave the dead body. That was enough provocation for Harry. With a cry of 'expecto patronum', Prongs shot out the tip of his wand.
The spectre of Voldemort was ready to attack the young couple when a golden glowing rack of antlers slammed into what was left of the Dark Lord. Those screams were drowned out by Harry shouting at him.
"You'll never get near me or mine. You hear me, Riddle? You're finished in Britain, no one wants you back. Even your supposed servants all deserted you. Get out of here - now." Prongs then slammed the dark spirit right into a wall, pushing it out the room, before returning to protect his caster.
It was then Harry noticed Albus Dumbledore had entered the room. "Good evening, Sir. You missed a hell of a party."
Grabbing his moment, Ron began to shout accusations. "Professor Dumbledore, I got here first. The treasure is rightfully mine. Potter turned up late and then killed Quirrell."
Figuring it was now safe, Lavender pulled the invisibility cloak off. "You're a liar, Weasley. A liar that nearly got all of us killed."
It looked as though Lavender was going to carry out her threat and violently introduce her foot to Ron's nuts when he suddenly collapsed to the floor. Ron was now shaking and beginning to foam at the mouth. Hermione offered an explanation that terrified Albus.
"Professor, Ron didn't solve the potion's logic puzzle. Ignoring the fact three of those flasks supposedly held poison, he just kept drinking until one made him feel cold."
It was now Dumbledore who felt his blood had just turned to ice. "Amelia, we all have questions here. Can we transfer everyone injured to the infirmary and then you'll get those answers in my office."
"No evasions, Albus. If I don't hear answers that satisfy me, you and a lot of your staff will be getting arrested tonight. I give you fair warning though, there's a lot to answer for."
Amelia had a dead Hogwarts professor, three seriously injured first year students and multiple irrefutable confirmed sighting of someone they thought to be dead for over a decade. No one was going to put a lid on this enquiry, she would have her answers. Two aurors were assigned to guard what was left of Quirrell's body. She'd sent a request for the department of mysteries to investigate how Voldemort came to be possessing a Hogwarts professor.
She'd also sent another four aurors to the Hogwarts infirmary. They would take statements from the injured students before anyone else could get a chance to talk to them. One of those four aurors soon showed up at the Headmaster's Office, with a couple of uninjured students in tow. Neville and Parvati burst into the office to be reunited with their friends.
Dumbledore soon had seats provided for all his students, the house elves supplying much needed mugs of hot chocolate. Amelia also sat while the rest of her aurors took up positions around the room. After what they had seen tonight, everyone meant business. "I think we should get the ball rolling by asking Mister Potter what was behind the letter he sent to me tonight, asking for help."
This was the first of questions Harry and Hermione had been preparing answers to for months, they were ready. Sipping his hot chocolate, Harry began his explanation. "I have a map that my father and his friends made of Hogwarts. This is no ordinary map though, it shows the position and name of everyone inside Hogwarts."
Hermione offered to hold his mug, allowing Harry to take out the map and activate it. "Ma'am, there is absolutely no way I could know the names of the aurors inside this room, far less where they would be standing. Please look at the map and tell me if its correct."
Having heard about this map from young Neville, she was prepared for this answer. Staring at the map however, Amelia was amazed to see everyone in the room named, and in the correct position. She swapped two of her aurors around and watched in awe as the map matched and displayed their movements exactly. "This is unbelievable, but how do we get from this to your cry for help?"
"We noticed that Professor Quirrell had two names beside his figure, the other being Tom Riddle." A sharp intake of breath from Dumbledore told everyone he knew who that was, Harry however continued with their carefully prepared explanation. Dumbledore would know it was a load of shit they were shovelling, but it was everyone else they would have to convince.
"With the big quidditch match coming up, Hermione and I were looking at the trophy cabinet. My father's name is listed there for wining the same trophy we play for on Saturday - or should that be tomorrow now. We noticed there was a Tom Marvolo Riddle who received a special award to the school - and wondered if this could be the same person."
Taking his mug back from Hermione, he then brought her into the tale. "If you'll excuse the pun, my Hermione hates riddles. She solved this particular one tonight." With a deep drink from his mug, Harry passed the explanation baton onto Hermione.
"I was doodling when I discovered something that sent shivers down my spine. If you rearrange the letters of Tom Marvolo Riddle, they spell I am Lord Voldemort."
The silence that followed was broken by Harry. "Yes, it would seem the magical community are terrified to say an anagram. Anyway, we wanted to tell the headmaster but he wasn't in the castle. When we noticed Quirrell/Riddle head toward the forbidden third floor corridor, that's when we sent for help."
Looking straight at Dumbledore, Hermione made sure he knew tonight's fiasco wasn't their fault. "We intended to stay in our dorm until Madam Bones and the aurors arrived, neither Harry nor I had any intention of getting involved."
Nodding, Harry continued. "As you can imagine, we were watching the map closely to monitor the situation. We couldn't believe it when the map showed a bunch of first years sneaking out of Gryffindor - and heading straight for the third floor corridor. I swore so loud I actually woke Neville. The three of us found Parvatti in a full body bind and lying on the common room floor. She and Neville then headed off to warn Professor McGonagall."
As if by magic, mentioning McGonagall's name saw her enter Dumbledore's office. This was not the Professor McGonagall they were used to seeing though, she appeared to be shaken to her very core.
"Albus, Mister Thomas and Mister Finnigan have injuries that Poppy is easily capable of dealing with. Poppy says Miss Granger's initial treatment of Finnigan could possibly have saved his life."
Hermione nipped any speculation over her own abilities in the bud. "When Harry was injured playing quidditch, I could only stand there helpless. I watched Madam Pomfrey closely and learned the first spells she used. I just did the exact same for Seamus."
Her Head of House was far too concerned with someone else however to worry about that. "It's Ronald Weasley we have the problem with. It would seem he drank the poison Severus prepared..."
With tears rolling down her cheeks, Lavender told everyone what had happened. "We were in that room with the flasks of potion and Ron hadn't a clue what to do next, neither did I. He kept saying that the traps we'd made it past must mean the treasure they protected was really something special. He desperately wanted that treasure, and was sure we were close. Ron was prepared to do anything to get his hands on it. He drank from the flasks until one made him feel cold. Ron drank from at least three, possibly four."
A horrified McGonagall then broke the terrible news. "Poppy has no idea what he ingested. Knowing Severus, it would be something of his own invention. Poppy has the boy in stasis but estimates we have no more than forty eight hours to produce an antidote before Mister Weasley is beyond our help."
Amelia had two of her aurors writing down everything that was said here and wanted to clear a couple of things up before questioning the staff. "Mister Potter, Miss Granger, could you describe how you got past these so-called traps?"
Looking at each other, Harry let Hermione answer. "Hagrid had let slip that Fluffy was his, and that music sent him right to sleep. We had a music box that I've been using to help teach Harry dancing, it soon had Fluffy snoring. You just have to relax and Devil's Snare will ignore you, Seamus had already burned most of it off anyway. After performing first aid on Seamus, we pushed on to the next test. The flying key had already been caught twice and could barely fly by the time we got there, Harry didn't even have to mount a broom. Dean lying injured in the middle of the chess board stopped that test from resetting, so we didn't have to face it. The troll was already down and Ron had wrecked the potions challenge. Harry simply transfigured the table to get us through the flames."
Shaking her head in sheer admiration of how well they had dealt with all of that, Amelia then asked Harry what spells he'd used on the possessed professor.
Calmly handing his wand over for inspection, without even being asked, Harry rhymed off exactly what he'd cast. "A shield charm, an expeliarmus and that is the first time I've managed the patronus. Hermione said that's what protected me when Snape attacked my mind, I've been practicing to see if I could cast it on purpose. I disarmed Quirrell but then Voldemort ordered him to kill Hermione with his bare hands. To be honest, I forgot all about magic and just tackled him to the ground. I was trying to punch his head off when you pulled me away. For some reason, my punches seemed to really affect him."
With Hermione and Lavender agreeing that's exactly what happened, and Harry's wand collaborating his story exactly, Amelia felt she now had the truth of the matter.
"Mister Potter, myself and a dozen of my aurors witnessed you stopping Voldemort tonight. For that, you will face no charges for what happened to the possessed Professor Quirrell. In fact, your country thanks you. I'm sure we'll make that more official once we get everything sorted."
Hermione was leaning against Harry and those words had the tension flowing out of both of them. They had pulled it off. Before they could implement stage two though, Amelia switched targets.
"Now, Albus and Minerva. I want to know exactly what in the name of Merlin was going on in that third floor corridor?"
Everyone in that room knew the question was really aimed at the headmaster, Albus didn't disappoint. "Amelia, I want it recorded that I am solely responsible for what happened down there. The staff were working under my orders, and could only guess at what the other members of staff involved had devised. I had heard whispers that Voldemort wasn't really gone. Not only that, he was trying to return..."
"Why am I just hearing this now?"
"When I say whispers, that's all it was. You couldn't even call it rumours. The whispers I heard were that his spirit was targeting my friend, Nicolas' stone. It was moved from Gringotts a matter of hours before someone made an attempt to steal it. These traps were set with the sole purpose of confirming whether he had returned..."
"...and what if he'd gotten his hands on that stone? A resurrected Voldemort with the power of immortality would have been the end of all of us."
Here Harry interrupted Amelia, trying to help the old wizard out. "Forgive me, ma'am, but Voldemort hadn't a clue how to get his hands on that stone. I'm assuming that was planned? Keep him there until you could confront him?"
When Albus nodded, Harry had more to say. "Hermione and I had figured that out. That's why we weren't going anywhere near that floor, there was no need to. If Ron hadn't dragged the rest of them down there, Madam Bones, her aurors and Professor Dumbledore would have dealt with the situation. We would all have been in bed by now, and you lot would have been breaking out the firewhisky."
This actually got a few laughs from a couple of the aurors, until Amelia silenced them with a glare. While delighted for the support, Albus again accepted responsibility for the children who had been injured tonight. After asking Amelia if she was finished questioning the students, Albus was about to send them off to bed when Harry played their final card of the night.
Reaching over to retrieve his map, Harry had something else to bring to their attention. "We actually thought Ron Weasley was possessed for a while. It seemed that everywhere he went, there were the same two people present. The funny thing is though, unlike Quirrell, the map showed them as two different people. When we saw them in separate places at the same time, we didn't know what to think. Look for yourselves. Someone called Peter Pettigrew is currently in the Gryffindor dorms, probably sleeping in Ron's bed."
The silence that caused was total, then all hell broke loose.