Exams, of course, were a stressful time. The theory, he could handle. He knew his textbooks inside and out, he could brew a perfect pepperup potion, and he knew every minutia of how to transfigure a match into a pin. The issue came in the practical exams. He was this close to using his sorcery, but he promised himself it wouldn't come to that. Hermione was running at 400 percent capacity, and Harry just knew that saying anything to her may end in the loss of a finger. Or a hand. Or the entire arm. Only Ron had the stones to try and calm her down. To his credit, he did manage to convince her that sleep was just as important than studying. After all, you can't take a test if you die from exhaustion.
Also, it didn't help that Hermione, who had read her christmas present front to back four times, was now bugging him for more information on sorcery.
"It has to have some root in common magic!" she protested from her place in one of the Gryffindor Common Room's chairs.
"I'm telling you, it doesn't!" Harry sighed, rubbing his forehead.
He'd stayed up late last night trying to cast verdimillious, with no luck. Not even a tiny spark came from the wand tip. This spell was supposed to be easy, dammit!
"But it's magic! It has to be connected!" she argued as she plonked a massive book on the table in front of him.
Harry groaned. Why couldn't she understand that not everything fit into her world-view? You can't always read a bloody book and get every answer to the universe from them! Although to be fair, the library at Kamar-Taj might come pretty close...
"Look, Hermione, I've studied this for three years." he ground out, frustrated, "I've thought about what you're thinking about now. I'm only the second person in recorded history who studied both!"
"Really?" her eyes shined with wonder, "Who was the first?"
"Myrlin." he answered, and tried to budge the book (bloody hell it was heavy!), "He studied under The Ancient One, who also trained Stephen."
Hermione's eyes lit up.
"Merlin? Who is The Ancient One? Maybe he knows how it's connected! Could you get him to meet me?" she questioned in her usual rapid-fire rage.
Harry sighed again. One tracked bloody mind, she had.
"One, The Ancient One is a woman." Harry answered, biting back a scathing reply, "And two, she's dead."
"Oh," Hermione said, looking a little disappointed. "I'm sorry,"
"It's okay, I never met her. Stephen took me in afterwards." Harry smiled as he said this, his mind going to the day he was rescued from the Dursleys.
At least she recognised when she'd blundered. Sometimes. He returned his attention to his casting. A deep breath was taken, calming him minutely. His wand was brandished in front of him and his face screwed up in tight concentration.
"Verdimillious!" he shouted, waving his wand in perfect movements, focusing with all his might…
And produced nothing.
He threw his wand to the other side of the empty common room, where it landed with a soft thump on the carpet.
"Have you tried talking to Dumbledore?" Ron offered, "He might know something about it."
"Well, no, but I don't really want people to know about it. I've already crossed a line telling you two." Harry stated before he pulled his wand back to him with a quick whip of orange light, "Look at that. That was intermediate sorcery, I learned that after 18 months of study, practice and meditation. So why the hell is making a whip out of the energies of the multiverse easier than making green bloody SPARKS?!" he shouted the last part of his tirade and then proceeded to groan into a nearby pillow.
"You'll figure it out, mate. If you can kill a troll, you can work this." Ron stated as he patted Harry on the back, nodding sagely.
"Thanks, mate." he said with a smile, taking a sip of his chai (multiverse bless the House elves!), "I can't believe we killed a troll!"
"You killed a troll, don't make me an accomplice, thank you very much." Hermione huffed as she crossed her arms, mock-pouting.
"You helped!" Harry argued with a smirk, "You were roasting the hell out of that thing with your little Human Torch spell. Bloody impressive wandwork from both of- THAT'S IT!"
Harry punched the air, grinning like a loon.
"Harry?" Hermione gasped, surprised.
"What's it?" Ron raised an eyebrow.
"Wands!" was the unhelpful answer from Harry until he spoke again, "Ollivander could tell I was a sorcerer when I got my wand! If anyone's going to know something, why wouldn't it be the guy who makes wands?"
Harry slipped his Sling Ring onto his finger and began forming the circle.
"You can't go now, Harry!" Hermione chided, "It's half past 8 and you're in school! If you get seen in Hogsmeade, you'll get expelled!"
"Yeah, just owl him." Ron added, "I'm sure he'll be more than happy to answer that for you.
The sparks of orange left his fingertips, dissipating into nothing. A sigh escaped Harry as his shoulders sagged a little.
"Yeah, you're right." he muttered, walking up to his dorm to compose the letter, "Thanks for the advice. I'll think I'll do that."
Harry got a pleasant surprise a few days later. While eating his bacon pancakes (so sweet, so salty, so delicious), Hedwig dropped a letter on his head. Opening it, he was delighted to see that the wax seal held the logo of Ollivanders. Abandoning his breakfast to Hedwig, he opened it and began to read.
I was pleased to receive your letter, hoping that perhaps I may have found an apprentice of wandlore. However, the nature of your request intrigued me more so than said hope.
I must say that I know little of your discipline, only what I was told by the Ancient One, rest her soul. From what I can gather, it would seem that you are indeed only the second person in recorded history to study both arts. I believe Merlin had the opposite issue to you, but as he is not available to answer your query, I shall do my best to speculate.
Magic and sorcery are dissimilar in all respects. From the way the spells are cast to their origins. I believe that you may have trained yourself in the 'wrong' discipline. Picture it as such; you are ambidextrous, yet have written your whole life using your right hand. You then decide that you wish to use your left. You have the capability, of course, but you shall struggle far more than when you originally learned to write. Perhaps you are attempting to apply sorceric techniques to your wandwork, effectively harnessing the energy of infinite dimensions to cast spells. This will never work. The core of a wand comes from a magical creature, and is therefore in tune with magic, a very different type of energy from what you are familiar with. Of course, that is a crude explanation that I came up with to explain it to both you and myself, as I said I am no expert. Nonetheless, I hope I have been some assistance.
Finishing the letter, Harry stared at the words in contemplation. So… he'd been using the wrong type of magic? It made sense, he supposed. Now he knew what to look for, he could give it a better go. He wolfed down his bacon and jogged back to the common room.
With the end of the year fast approaching, Harry felt a shift in the air. He wasn't quite sure how to explain it or why he was suddenly feeling rather anxious, but he knew something was up. As he went through the day, the young Sorcerer was still unable to pinpoint what was making him so jittery. However, in DADA, he was given his answer.
Quirrell was giving him every dirty look under the sun, and also appeared to be in a hurry of some sort, but Harry couldn't figure out for the life of him as to why. Maybe his suspicions were right, and he was trying to get past that massive dog? Speaking of which, Harry had an appointment with someone who loved them-self a dangerous animal.
"Hagrid, what do you know about the Cerberus?" he asked, hoping he sounded off-the-cuff and laid back.
He bit down on a rock cake. As tough as they were, they tasted really good once you got through the outer layer. He assumed that the outside served as a mini insulator of sorts, though only the giant man seemed to be able to bite through it. As it was, Harry himself was reduced to letting Hermione cast a charm on it to make the shell more edible without running the risk of breaking his teeth.
"Cerberus? Crikey, now there's a beast and an 'alf! Not like they are in the myths, mind ye. Just massive hounds, only they got three heads. They love their music and barley cake. Give 'em either and they'll pop right off to sleep," Hagrid smiled, almost reminiscing.
Oh yeah, he definitely knew something about that Cerberus. Not only that, but he seemed to have a history with it, which was precisely the reason for his visit. Harry wouldn't be surprised if the bloody thing was Hagrid's to begin with, considering the way he had taken to Norbert. What's a Cerberus to that?
"Bet you'd like one, wouldn't you?" Ron piped up, in the middle of casting softening charms on the cake.
"What'd I need a Cerberus for?" he asked, idly scratching his beard.
"I dunno, they're still a kind of guard dog, aren't they?" Harry replied simply, hoping that he was hitting the right buttons to get the giant of a man to spill the beans, "And Hogwarts has lots of things that probably need guarding."
By the way Hagrid was nervously shifting, it seemed that he had. Beady eyes looked to and fro, as if trying to find a way out of their current conversation. He allowed a few moments to pass, for the silence to rise up and permeate the air and smother them. Then, like a wolf to the rabbit, Harry closed in on his prey.
"So what's its name?"
"Eh?" came Hagrid's reply to Harry's question.
"The Cerberus you have." the small Sorcerer elaborated slowly, as if talking to a child, "What is its name? I assume it has one, because Norbert was named right off the bat as soon as he was hatched."
Harry's softened rock cake laid on his plate, untouched. Green eyes bored into Hagrid, wide and inquisitive and just a smidgen calculating. A few seconds of silence passed as Hagrid looked to the three children, all of whom has serious looks on their faces. The groundskeeper let out a great sigh that made the hut rumble a bit (though that might have just been because Hagrid had chosen that exact moment to plop down onto a giant chair) and Harry knew that he had done it.
"Fluffy." was the tired answer, "'is name is Fluffy,"
Harry burst into raucous laughter. "Fluffy? You named the guard of hell's gates Fluffy?"
"I named a dragon 'Norbert', di'n I? I don't like them aggressive names," Hagrid smiled wistfully, clearly remembering his baby dragon.
"Speaking of Norbert, how'd you get a dragon egg? They're regulated, aren't they?"
"Won 'im off a bloke in the pub. Got a weird feelin' off of 'im, but you get that with most people in the Hog's Head.
But don't ask me what he's guarding, yeh hear? That's just between Dumbledore and Nicolas Flamel."
Flamel? What did an alchemist have to do with something a Cerberus needed to guard? Sure, they're known to make powerful artifacts but what kind of magical item would be so importa-
Harry stood up abruptly (which wasn't easy, considering his legs had been dangling a few feet in the air due to the sheer size of Hagrid's chairs, he ended up standing on top of the large wooden seat), a grim look on his face. His mind was a whirlwind, but he did recall thanking Hagrid for the tea and rock cakes, one of which he had in his hand as he hopped off the chair. The voices of Ron and Hermione filtered through his ears as they said goodbye to Hagrid as well, the giant man clearly confused by the actions of the three students.
The walk back to the castle was done so in silence. Once they were in the privacy of an empty corridor, however, Harry let his thoughts out.
"We have to find Dumbledore," he said, guiding them to the headmaster's office.
"Why? He won't tell us anything about Flamel if Hagrid won't," Hermione protested, slightly out of breath.
"It's the philosopher's stone!" Harry gasped, grabbing Ron and Hermione, who went from worried to surprised and confused in an instant.
"The what?" Hermione asked, incredulous.
"The philosopher's stone? That's a bedtime story!" Ron protested.
"Nicholas Flamel is an alchemist," Harry told them, his eyes wide in a kind of frenzy, "the best alchemist. There was a book on alchemy in the sanctum library, and he was mentioned. I don't remember the specifics, but it definitely said something about the philosopher's stone. That's what Fluffy's guarding! It has to be."
"Okay," Hermione said slowly, thinking it over. "If it's being guarded, surely Dumbledore knows about it. Why do we need to tell him?"
"Surely Dumbledore knows about what?" a clipped voice said from behind them.
"Professor McGonnagall? We need to speak to Professor Dumbledore." Harry burst out, eyes frenzied.
"Professor Dumbledore is away on urgent business at the ministry. I am your head of house, Mr Potter. Anything you have to say, you can say to me, I'm sure I can be of assistance." McGonagall said.
The colour drained from Harry's face. Hermione's slowly followed suit.
"Oh my god," he mumbled.
"I think the stone's going to be taken." he explained, hands shaking slightly.
"I beg your pardon?" McGonagall looked shocked.
"The philosopher's stone!" Hermione babbled, "If Headmaster Dumbledore's away, then the stone would be practically defenseless! Why would he be gone tonight of all times unless…"
Suddenly, a chill ran down Harry's spine as his mind connected the dots.
"It's going to be taken tonight."
"This is a bad idea." Hermione quietly grumbled under the Invisibility Cloak, "I know that no one believed us about the Stone being in danger, but what can we do against Snape if he wants to get it?"
"Snape?" Harry asked in confusion, "What does this have to do with Snape? Quirrell's the one trying to get the Stone."
"Quirrell?!" was the unanimous gasp as they turned another corner, careful to keep their voice low so as to not attract attention to themselves.
The third floor corridor was just up ahead, and the trio had made it all the way here without too much in the way (though there was a brief moment where they thought that they were going to be discovered by Peeves, but the poltergeist had not seemed to notice them) of impedance.
"Yes, Quirrell." Harry sighed out exasperatedly, "He's already tried to kill me multiple times, and he's been extra twitchy today. Haven't you noticed?"
Hermione opened her mouth to say something, narrowed her eyes, then closed her mouth again. Ron's expression had turned calculating before nodding slowly. Neither was able to say anything more, as they had reached the door that contained Fluffy. A quick Alohomora later, and the trio was staring up at a snoozing three-headed dog.
Well, it had been snoozing before they had entered. The door to the room opened inwards, which usually was a good thing as having a door that opens outward would run the risk of a drooling Cerberus romping around the castle. Unfortunately in the way of the inward swinging door had been a harp, which crashed to the ground once the door opened. Harry winced at the noise, before his stomach dropped as the rumble of the Cerberus grew.
"Oh no..." Harry moaned.
Hermione stifled a scream as the first head opened its eyes groggily.
"What do we do?" Ron asked, pressing himself up to the door and taking out his wand.
"Barley cake!" Harry burst out, making a second head wake up,"Hagrid said Barley cake puts them to sleep. That and… music! We need music!"
Harry slipped his sling ring on, hoping to grab the flute Hagrid gave him for christmas.
"LOOK OUT!" Ron yelled, tackling Harry to the ground just as Fluffy's rightmost head snapped at where he was not half a millisecond before.
Hermione began casting every spell she could think of. She levitated spells into its eyes, put blue fire on the floor, but nothing she did seemed to have any effect.
"Hermione, stop! You're making it angry!" Harry protested.
Hermione rolled her eyes and gritted her teeth before shouting at the young Sorcerer.
"Then play some bloody music so we can get out of here!"
Harry knew he was going to regret this. He took a deep breath in and clamped his eyes shut.
"We're no strangers to love…"
Fluffy suddenly stopped attacking, all 3 heads cocking to the side as they stared at the young sorcerer.
"Are you serious?!" Hermione groaned, shuffling towards him and Ron.
"I panicked!" He protested, yelping when Fluffy began barking again.
"Don't stop!" Ron shouted.
"Uhh, you know the rules, and so do Iiiii!" Fluffy's eyelids drooped, "A full commitment's what I'm thinkin' of…" Harry gestured wildly to the trapdoor that had become free from under the… admittedly kind of cute looking giant monster, "You wouldn't get this from any other guy!"
Ron pulled the trapdoor open, then gulped. "Geronimo, I suppose."
"Iiii, just wanna tell you how I'm feeling…" Harry mimed diving, trying to break Hermione out of her Acrophobic stupor, "Gotta make you understand," she clamped her eyes shut and leapt down into the dark.
Harry was left alone with the cerberus, who was now dozing peacefully. He gave it a nice pet on the middle head, then jumped.
"Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you! Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you!"
Harry stopped singing when he felt himself fall onto what felt like a sponge filled with maple syrup.
"Well, I reckon that went well enough!" he flashed Hermione a grin, who just sighed.
"Rick Astley? Out of all the millions of songs that exist, you sang Rick Astley?" She groaned.
"Hey, it worked, didn't it?" He tried to give her a thumbs up, but encountered resistance.
"Umm, guys?" Ron whimpered, "Don't be alarmed, but I think this stuff's trying to eat us!"
Harry looked over at him, and was shocked to see that black tendrils of root and foliage had wrapped around his best friend.
"Ron!" he reached for Dragonfang, but his hand was pulled back by the plant.
Hermione had a look on her face that Harry and Ron knew all too well. She was thinking hard.
"Devil's snare! This is Devil's snare! We have to rela- no, that's not it, that's chrysanthemum constrictors, Umm, Devil's snare, Devil's snare, it loves the damp and dark…"
"Fire! Need… Fire!" Harry had the displeasure of trying to speak while devil's snare was wrapping around his throat.
"Well, yes, but there's no wood!"
"Wood? Wood?! ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?!" Ron yelled, before being pulled down so only his head was visible.
Hermione paused, turned red, then struggled to take out her wand, casting her penchant blue flames. The Devil's snare leapt away from them, and they dropped six feet to the hard, cold floor. Harry coughed harshly.
"Hermione, I love you to bits, but if my cause of death is 'Shrubbery', I am going to haunt you forever," Harry pulled off his torn and tattered robes, brushed off his tunic, and sighed.
"'There's no wood'. Remind me never to ask you what your favourite colour is, you'd be weighing the options till the sun exploded," Ron smirked, clapping her on the back affectionately.
"Well, it worked, didn't it?" she sniffed, rather proud of herself. "Besides, my favourite colour is Indigo,"
"If you two are done flirting, I think I've figured out the next thing," Harry smirked as the two of them blushed, "Those are all keys, flying up there. See how they shine? They're either keys with wings, or Hummingbirds made of glass, and I don't see how that would help defend immortality in a bottle."
Ron stroked his chin, staring at the keys critically.
"How are we going to get them?" He looked over to Hermione, who was standing next to a few brooms.
"These could help, but I'd, um, I'd rather…" she looked nervous.
"It'll be alright, Hermione, it's not that high up. Besides, we have to stop Snape!"
Meanwhile, Harry was performing an intricate hand movement, creating a large ball that trapped all the keys.
"Got them," he said simply, plucking out an old key that had a broken wing, "It's probably this one. Looks like it's been squished by an evil hand."
He tossed it to Hermione, who tried it. The door swung open, creaking slightly as it did. It revealed a giant Wizarding chess board, each piece towering over the children, stone cold and majestic. After a few seconds of taking in the sight, Harry and Hermione slowly turned to Ron, who looked as if Christmas had come twice.
"MY TIME HAS COME!" was the redhead's excited shout as he gleefully surveyed the gargantuan board, "We have to play to get across! Harry, you be the Bishop! Hermione, you take Rook!"
As the two friends quickly took their places (the pieces being replaced smoothly walking off the board to the area near the door with the winged keys), Harry turned around.
"What are you going to be, Ron?"
"Knight!" the redhead replied with a grin, getting up upon the black stone horse that the other knight had vacated. "Okay, let's see who's losing today," he cracked his knuckles and grinned.
Ron, who had challenged even Dumbledore and come out on top in the last year, got mate in 7 moves, only losing a bishop and 2 pawns.
"Well, that was fun. Wish it was more of a challenge, though," Ron frowned.
"Really? You would have liked to risk getting stabbed by a giant sword wielded by an unreasonably angry chess piece?" Harry smirked, hi-fiving Ron. "Bloody great game, mate. That's twice you saved our necks tonight,"
"Yes, well done, Ron," Hermione smiled at him. "Now, let's see what's next," She pushed the door open, revealing a huge, hulking troll, motionless on the floor. Harry instinctively whipped Dragonfang in front of him, in sync with Ron and Hermione raising their wands. His heart beat at a hundred miles an hour, blood pumping in his ears. He heard Ron's deep intakes of breath next to him, and Hermione's shuffles on his other side. "I think… I think Sn- whoever it is… already beat it,"
They nodded in unison, and headed for the next room.
"A riddle?" Harry exclaimed, disbelieving that anyone would be this stupid.
"Well, yes, most wizards don't have an ounce of logic in them, no offense Ron," Hermione explained.
"None taken until then!" he crossed his arms.
"Yeah, but a riddle? Really? 1, if its a teacher, they're probably smart enough to figure it out, and 2, WHY A RIDDLE?!" Harry was still wrapping his mind around the stupidity of the situation.
"Well it could be You-Know-Who," Ron piped up.
"Who's Who? Doctor Who?"
"I clearly don't,"
"He who must not be named?"
"Well how do I know who he is if he's not named?"
"No! You-know-who! The Dark Lord!"
"That's what I want to know!"
"BOYS!" Hermione screeched, causing the two of them to cover their ears. "I am trying to THINK!" she returned to her 'I am thinking hard about something but I don't have my books' look.
"I mean V-vol… y'know?" Ron whispered.
"Oh! Voldemort!" Ron flinched, and Hermione glared. "Sorry. What about him?"
"Well, my dad always said that there's almost nothing that could stop him if he wanted something. Only Dumbledore could beat him. Maybe these were just meant to stall until Dumbledore found out. The only thing he's afraid of is Dumbledore. And Death," he explained, his face contorted in a mixture of fear and admiration.
"Well, yeah, anyone with 4th grade education in french could tell you that,"
"'Voldemort', don't, translates roughly to 'flight from death'," Harry snickered, Ron quickly following.
"Really? Flight from death? That's like if I called myself 'spider man'!" he and Ron laughed, thinking of dumb names for each other.
"The stab runner!"
"I'VE GOT IT!" Hermione shouted in rejoice.
"Really?" the two boys said in unison.
"Yes, really! This potion here lets us through that fire back there, and this one lets us through that one at the front," she peered into this second bottle, looking somewhat disheartened. "It looks like there's only enough for one of us, though…"
Harry took a deep breath in. He knew what had to be done, he just wished he didn't have to. "Alright, give me that one," he winced as the two of them began to protest. "Look, we can't all go through. Whoever it is, they'll probably try and kill us. With my sorcery, I at least stand a chance. You two need to find Dumbledore as quickly as you can, and get him down here. With a healthy dose of luck, I should still be alive when he turns up," he unsheathed Dragonfang, set his jaw, grit his teeth, and took the potion. "And hey, if its Voldemort, maybe he'll be scared of me. He couldn't kill me as a baby, right?"
Ron stepped up to his best friend, and pulled him into a hug. "You come back, mate. If you die in there, I swear I'm gonna kill you," Harry could feel the emotion in Ron's voice.
"I will, mate. I promise," Harry felt Ron let go, only to be crushed by an even tighter hug from Hermione.
"You're a great wizard, Harry," she mumbled.
"No I'm not! Green bloody sparks, remember?" he chuckled, patting her on the back.
"There's a big difference between being good and being great,"
"Either way, you're better than I am," he retorted.
"Books? Cleverness? I hid in a toilet while you killed a troll!" she argued, finally letting go.
Harry brushed off his tunic, wiped his slightly wet eyes, and drank the potion. He ignored the sudden chill he felt, and smiled at his friends. "See you on the other side," he croaked, and stepped through the flames. Everything went dark.
"I knew it!" Harry yelled, before he could stop himself.
A surprised Professor Quirrell spun around, waving his wand as he did so. Magical light arced from the tip and Harry was suddenly wrapped in coils of what looked like silver. He landed on the ground from the force of the spell with a huff. Briefly he tugged at the bonds, but the silver (no, it's too light to be silver…) coils were as strong as ever.
"Don't bother trying to escape, Potter!" sneered the man, and Harry flinched at the revulsion with which Quirrell spat his name out, "That metal is nigh unbreakable. I found it in Africa on my travels. It took a while before I could learn to summon it, but-"
"Yeah, honestly, I don't really care." Harry interrupted, rolling his eyes, "I'm just here to stop you from getting the stone."
A flash of annoyance crossed the Professor's face at being interrupted, a hint of rage simmering beneath his eyes before something shifted as if he had a sudden thought.
"Ah yes, I thought as much." Quirrell said with a smirk, "A simple child such as you would obviously not see the value in eternal life."
"I see the value in a finite life," Harry retorted, his mind thinking of ways to get out of this mess, "But let's not get into a metaphysical debate on the reason we're here-" he gasped as the coils tightened around him, forcing the air out of his lungs.
"You would do well to remember your place, Potter. I will deal with you in a moment," Quirrell sneered out before turning to face the mirror again.
"Like-gah! Like you've been trying to all year?" Harry gasped out, fighting the constriction as best he could.
Quirrell turned back, an eyebrow raised. "So you knew? I thought you may have suspected Snape,"
Harry snorted, or at least tried to.
"Friends… thought… Snape… I… thought… you."
"Hmm, impressive, I suppose. Regardless, I have more improtant thigns to consider," he turned back to… the mirror of Erised? "This mirror is intriguing. I see myself with the stone in my hand, yet I cannot reach it…" the man spoke in reverence, stroking the glass with careful fingers, as if trying to coax it.
Harry snickered, loving to see Quirrell struggle with the mirror, then smiled wistfully as his vision refocused, returning him to his paradise.
"All I desire is the stone, but it's just out of reach. I cannot, I will not fail my master!"
"Use the boy!" a strange, raspy voice hissed, and something triggered in Harry's mind.
He remembered screaming, disgusting high pitched laughter, and a green flash of light. Harry tensed, and slipped Dragonfang into his tunic sleeve.
"Potter!" Quirrell snapped, and his bonds opened, flinging him to the floor, right in front of the mirror, "Look in the mirror, what do you see?"
Harry gazed into his perfect world, and smiled. His mother smiled back. His father flipped over her back, stunning another faceless villain. Stephen and Wong conjured Sling portals, the enemy attacks redirecting back to their originators. He blinked, his eyes beginning to sting, and smiled wider as he saw Ron and Hermione flinging curses and hexes at their enemies by his side.
"I see my family, and myself, fighting an army of monsters." Harry whispered, just loud enough for them to hear.
Dumbledore was right. It felt wrong to share something so immensely personal. The reflection in the glass was for him and him alone to cherish in the idle moments of his thoughts. It's not like Quirrell would understand or care anyways.
"He liessss!" the odd voice hissed.
"Alright, alright, not actual monsters, I was being metaphorical, okay?" Harry snapped out, the retort more out of habit than anything else.
Harry would've rolled his eyes, but was too engrossed in his dream, his Tantalus fruit, his unreachable star, to look away for even a moment. His mother's smile made his heart warm as she ducked, letting him take down the next faceless enemy. His father had a cocky smirk as the two of them tag-teamed the horde with their magic, tao mandala and wand spells creating a beautiful shower of multicolored sparks.
"Do you see anything else?" Quirrell hissed as his wand dug into Harry's neck.
Harry gulped, and looked for more minor details. His scar was gone, he had a glowing gold and green eye hanging from his neck, and there was a red stone sticking out of his pocket.
"I, uh, don't have my scar, I guess?"
"Anything else?" Harry's hand slid into his pocket, half-expecting the stone to be there. When his hand remained empty, he rolled his eyes.
"Uhh, not really, no,"
"Let me speak to him!" the voice hissed again.
After some protest, Quirrell began to unwrap his turban and turned around. The grey, sneering face of Lord Voldemort sat on the back of his teacher's head. Harry vomited at the sight.
"My goodness, thank you for the kind welcome, Harry," Voldemort sneered out as he rolled his eyes before launching into his devious villain monologue, "Yes, it is I, Lord Voldemort. Do you see what you have reduced me to, boy? A bodiless wraith, confined to this host. But this will be so no longer once I have the Stone. I know that you've seen something in there, now give it to me!"
Harry could not react fast enough, and Quirrell's wand returned to its place on the young Sorcerer's neck. Now that he knew that he was against the bastard that killed his parents, sorcery was even more out of the question. What if it led Voldemort to Kamar Taj? To Stephen? While dealing with the likes of Mordo, would they be able to fend him off?
Once again Harry was in front of the Mirror of Desire, wide eyes watching his beautiful dream play out before him. What was some ruddy stone compared to that? What was immortality? And yet, he knew that at some point the two faced (literally) wizard holding him at wandpoint was going to figure out how to get the stone out of the mirror. This couldn't happen. It would jeopardize everything Harry already had and loved.
"Well, Harry?" the raspy voice of Quirrell's head parasite hissed out, "Look into the mirror and reveal its secrets. Give me the Stone and I will be sure to award you your heart's greatest desire."
The lights of sorcery and spellfire flickered across the glass, reflected in almost watering green eyes. The people in the image smiled at him, proud, determined, loving, loyal. They danced and spun and fought as a single unit, the amalgam of sorcery and Wizarding magic. His scarless reflection looked overjoyed, content, happy beyond compare. Voldemort's words echoed in his mind.
Heart's greatest desire…
It was already in front of him. Made impossible by the very man who spoke those words.
Something cracked in Harry's mind. What had once been a trancelike euphoria had suddenly become an overwhelming sea of rage and anger. His fists balled up as he stared into the mirror. Defiance and pain was clear on his face, though it couldn't be seen by the wizard behind him, who saw whatever warped dream he had in mind. His eyes were wide, tears falling from his face because there was only one way to end this, to make sure this man couldn't take any more from him.
And it was by destroying the one way Voldemort could get to the Stone.
His mother then turned to him in the reflection, her red hair flying in the wind and her green eyes (his eyes) boring into his soul. His father did the same, then the reflections of Stephen, of Wong, of Ron and Hermione. Their eyes were all on him as they fought together. Harry's own reflection, however, wore a similar expression to what Harry himself had (though the other Harry lacked the anger, the sorrow), staring down an enemy from afar. Both of their fists raised, a true mirror image of each other. Lily Potter gave a small, sad smile, and a soft nod.
"I'm sorry, Mum." Harry whispered to the beautiful reflection, tears streaming down his face. He flicked his wrist, returning his trusty relic to his hand.
Voldemort and Quirrell heard those words, but this time it was they who moved too slowly. By the time they registered enough information to move, Dragonfang had already collided with the mirror's surface.
"NO!" they screamed in unison.
The blast that followed knocked both of them off their feet as shards large and small embedded themselves into the walls. Some of the shards had cut into his skin, but it appeared that Quirrell had been the least lucky, blood pouring out from what was obviously a nicked artery, his wand on the other end of the room. Harry watched from his crumpled state as the man who had tried to kill him bled to death in front of him, unable to move from the gruesome sight. Something mistlike rose from Quirrell's still form, a smoke with hateful red eyes. It passed through Harry, screaming of his vengeance and his anger of losing the Philosopher's Stone, sending a shudder through his body as the wraith's malicious energy pulsed within him for a moment and draining what little was left of his own energy.
Tired green eyes watched it flee the scene before taking note of the amount of damage in the room. Quirrell was laying in a large red puddle, surrounded by shards of various sized glass. Groaning, Harry turned to regard the shattered remains of his beautiful dream. There was a shard close to him that was around the size of his hand, laying there like he was, broken and still. A surge of emotion overcame him as he stared at the shard, willing himself to gather some more energy… just enough to…
A quaking hand reached out toward the shard, grasping it carefully as Harry brought it back to him. One sharp side nicked a bit of his finger, but it wasn't a deep enough wound to distract the young Sorcerer. Light flickered from within the shard, and curiously he bought it to his face (which was somehow even more exhausting than just picking it up), peering into it.
There, on the other side of the glass, were his parents along with his Sorcerer guardians and his friends, all fighting invisible enemies from the shadows of the room. This time there was no Harry in the reflection, as they all turned to regard him with their expressions of joy and love and pride. Tears poured from his face again, but this time it was in relief and elation. His beautiful dream had not been broken, no. They had just come closer to him, his Tantalus fruit closer to his reach. Careful hands pocketed the shard, his desire to keep this piece of heaven safe overriding the need to peer into it any longer.
Good thing, too, because the last remnants of his energy was spent and Harry could only lie there as the ground reverberated with the pounding of footsteps. As his eyes closed, he saw a blurry figure pick him up.
"What… took you… so…"
So… what do you guys think? I for one am really happy with how this went down. I just thought that since Harry is powered up in some respects, these trials would be easier for the team
And really? A riddle?
Well, I have a riddle for you: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
Whoever has my favourite/ the right answer, gets screamed about in the next chapter.
I'd just like to say thank you all for your kind and critical reviews. I appreciate them all. To the people who send me challenges and suggestions for fics, thanks for thinking that I'd be good enough to do them, but I'm only going to focus on Master Potter for now. I barely have enough time to write this one, hence why Oni has had her fingerprints all over this for the last few updates.
The ones I've been sent so far look great, and I think that you guys should have a crack at writing them, but I'm not a fan of the universes they're set in, sorry.
Please forgive my attempts at humour, I'm trying to teach myself how to be funny for my other projects.
Well, that's all for now. Year 1 concludes in the next chapter, and from there we can start with the next arc; Summer in New York! Fitting, since I may be moving to the concrete jungle next year! Bye y'all!