Things quickly fell back into its routine at Hogwarts. For the most part. I had decided that the dueling lessons would continue.
As motivation for the students, the best student of each year, or two if there was a tie, would receive person instruction from a Defence Professor.
Outside of Hogwarts however, there was a storm raging. For an entire week after the ending of the Chamber of Secrets, the Daily Prophet went all out on its attacks.
Dumbledore was attacked in the newspaper because of his inadequacy, then and now. The Board of Governors were raked through the coals over the attempted cover-up.
Lucius Malfoy in particular was a target. Then there's the Ministry. They were ridiculed and castigated in equal measure because of their bumbling response.
They were especially criticized over the arrest of Hagrid. Most former Hogwarts students had only good things to say about him. The fact that anyone was stupid enough to believe he was the Heir of Slytherin was also speculated about.
There was pressure on the Ministry by the public to pay Hagrid compensation for his wrongful imprisonment. To my bemusement, there was also calls for me to be rewarded for saving the school.
I had given an interview where I gave out my thoughts about that. I told the interviewer that I thought it was unnecessary. I saw it as my duty as Headmaster.
Unfortunately, many people have taken that as a sign of modesty and have grown more insistent. Dozens of letters are written to me daily. It makes me glad that I no longer have a class to teach.
I would never have been able to keep up correspondence otherwise. There was one silver lining to the whole madness of the week however.
On the Friday of the week after, the shipment of mature mandrakes finally arrived. I'd just come from delivering it to Snape when my floo chimed.
Surprisingly, it was Amelia Bones. She asked if she could come through. I lowered the wards around the fireplace and she stepped through.
Followed immediately by Alastair Moody and a cowled figure robed in grey. I arched a brow but didn't question it. " I take it the three of you are here to to talk about the object I gave you? "
Without giving them a chance to reply, I called upon an elf. After giving my request, he popped away. I motioned the three of them to take a seat.
It was the cowled figure that spoke next. " You are correct Headmaster. The remnants of the diary you sent us were saturated in dark magic. The darkest. You know what it was don't you? "
I nodded my head. " Bill Weasley, who used to be a Curse Breaker, told me. It answered a niggling question that was bothering me..."
I stopped then because a pot of tea and three plates of biscuits appeared. To my exasperation and of the other two, Moody proceeded to cast a battery of detection spells on the the tea and the biscuits.
Once satisfied, he fixed a cup to each of our preferences. I looked at Amelia Bones who in turn rolled her eyes. I snorted.
After taking a sip, I continued. " As you might not be aware, Bill and I are friends. We were in the same year at Hogwarts, though different Houses. "
" As a result, I'm close to the Weasley children. After school ended last year, I'd noticed that the youngest son seemed withdrawn. I decided to question him about it. It took some prodding, but eventually it all came out. "
" I was horrified by what I heard. It turns out that a troll entered the castle during Halloween. The Defence Professor at the time, ran into the Great Hall and shouted that it was in the dungeons "
" Naturally, there was pandemonium. The Headmaster sent all the students to their dorms. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley realised however that one of their Housemates was missing. "
" A first year girl, Hermione Granger. The other girls had gossiped about her crying in the toilet. They chose to rush to the bathroom and warn her of the troll. "
" Unfortunately for them, the troll found them. They were able to subdue the troll. With a stupid amount of luck admittedly. Harry distracted the troll while Ron levitated it's club and bashed it on its head. "
" Worse was still to come however. Through their interactions with Hagrid, with whom they were friendly, they found out about something extremely valuable being kept at Hogwarts. "
" As you will recall, there was a break-in at Gringotts last year. That item had been taken by Hagrid before the time however. Under Dumbledore's orders. "
" Turned out that item was the Philosopher's Stone. " I had to stop here because all three of them started in surprise. " Yes, my thoughts exactly. "
" Things all came to a head near the end of the year. Harry, Ron and Hermione had been connecting the dots of suspicious activities that had been occurring the entire year. "
" What nearly confirmed their suspicions however, was an incident that occurred during a late night detention the boys had. A detention that took place in the Forbidden Forest. "
Amelia Bones groaned then, pinching the bridge of her nose. I took a sip of tea and then continued. " It turns out that something had been attacking the unicorns in there. "
" On that night, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, yes, he was part of the detention as well, anyway they saw it. It was drinking the blood of a unicorn it had slain. "
" A figure in a dark robe. It tried to attack but a centaur arrived and drove it off. " I raised a hand then, to forestall any questions.
" Back to year's end however, they had discovered that Professor Dumbledore had left to go to the Ministry. He had received a message saying it's urgent. "
" The children were convinced that the Stone was in danger. They tried to inform Professor McGonagall, but she would hear none of it. "
" So naturally, they decided they had to deal with things themselves. The stone was protected in a multitude of ways. A number of the Professors contributed to it. "
" Judging by the fact that three first years were able to bypass them, I don't think highly of any of them. The first protection was a Cerebrus. Yes, you heard right. It was provided by Hagrid. "
This time, Moody groaned as well. The Unspeakable snorted. " The second protection was Devil's Snare. Very simplistic. First years had been taught how to deal with it. The third protection was a swarm of flying keys. There was a broom there. You had to fly up and find the correct key to open the door. "
" Yes, I find it ridiculous as well. Why put a broom there? This was the work of Professor Flitwick. For someone of his abilities, this was amateurish. "
" The fourth protection was a giant wizard's chess set. You had to play to get across. Fortunately for the three of them, Ron is a very accomplished player. Better than most adults. Why they didn't just fly over with the broom, I don't know though. "
" To win the game however, Ron had to sacrifice himself. His arm was broken and he was knocked unconscious. They had no choice but to go ahead however. "
" The fifth protection was supposed to be a troll. When they got there though, it had been killed. The penultimate protection was the cleverest so far. As soon as they entered the room it was in, black and purple flames cut them off in both directions. "
" To get through, they had to solve a logic puzzle. There were seven vials of potion. Five were poison and of the remaining two, one let you pass backwards and one let you go ahead. "
" The girl, Hermione figured it out. She went back to go and help Ron and to send an owl to Professor Dumbledore. Harry went ahead and saw the final protection. The Mirror of Erised. "
" He wasn't there alone however. Throughout the year, the trio had suspected Snape. I can see why they thought that, but there's much of him that they do not know. "
" It turns out that the person after the Philosopher's Stone was the Defence Professor, Quirrell. After quickly subduing Harry, he gazed upon the Mirror. I'm sure the three of you know what it does. "
" Naturally, he saw himself with the stone. This protection was the work of Professor Dumbledore though. Quirrell couldn't figure it out. That's when he made Harry look in the Mirror. "
" Turns out that the only way you can get the Stone out of the Mirror is if you want it, but don't want to use it. It appeared in his pocket. Quirrell didn't know that however. "
" When asked, Harry lied about what he saw. That's when the full, horrifying truth came out. Quirrell undid his turban then. It's then that Harry found out. "
" He was shocked, but he's only a child. A muggle raised one at that. He can't understand the full implications. You see, the Professor was possessed. "
" Willingly I might add. Possessed by You-Know-Who. " Dead silence fell in the room. The blood had drained from Amelia Bones' face. Moody was gritting his teeth, body tensed.
The Unspeakable's reaction was more telling. He was neither shocked nor horrified. He merely looked weary. After a few moments, the other two looked at the Unspeakable as well.
Who sighed. " Yes, we know You-Know-Who is likely still alive. You brought proof of it to me. That diary was not merely cursed. "
" Through running several tests, I was able to ascertain what it was. A Horcrux. Or in layman's terms, a soul shard receptacle. The darkest of magic. "
Moody let out out a curse then and started pacing. I stood up and walked to a cabinet. Inside I removed the bottle of muggle brandy that I kept.
I poured each of us a generous measure. Tellingly, Moody drank his all in one go, without even casting spells on it. This wasn't news to me to I savoured my drink.
Bones and Moody needed the drink however, as the Unspeakable went into full horrifying detail. I sighed internally. So it all begins.