Harry Potter Z: And the Sorcerer's Stone

See Chapter 1 and if anyone charges you to read this slip them a forgetfulness potion.


Chapter 8: A Killer Test
Harry expected Voldemort to make his move on the stone the next day and it wasn't until exams started that he realized how foolish that was. If Voldemort hadn't gone after the stone yet, it had to be because he was waiting on something or preparing in some way. The fact that Harry had just discovered it was him wouldn't affect that.

Unfortunately, without knowing where Voldemort was or when he was going to attack Harry didn't know what he could do. So he did what he had always done, he trained. He no longer let studying take over his mornings, he trained over the forbidden forest hoping to catch a glimpse of Voldemort. He practiced focusing on his remembered pain while still moving about normally and searched for Voldemort's distinctive energy as much as he could between studying for the imminent end of year tests.

He even spent the last night before the tests meditating on his bed searching for Voldemort. After a lot of work he was able to sense the filthy feeling of Voldemort's magical power, but it seemed cloaked and indistinct. No matter how hard Harry tried and how he relaxed his mind he just couldn't locate it.

Surprisingly no one interrupted his meditation that night. Not even Hermione had come up to insist he study. Harry learned on his way up to the shower after training the next morning that she had actually explained to most everyone what he was doing and insisted that no one disturb him. At least she'd explained what meditation was and why she thought he was doing it.

They took their written tests all together in a swelteringly hot room. They were each given anti-cheat quills that Harry wondered how they prevented cheating. Not that he would cheat. Not only would his mother be furious, but he didn't trust anyone to know the material as well as he did and didn't want to copy their mistakes.

They had practical tests as well. Flitwick took them into a room one at a time to see if they could charm a pineapple to tap-dance. McGonagall did the same thing only she wanted them to transfigure a rat into a snuffbox. She gave extra points if it was particularly pretty. Harry made his shiny gold with the kanji for health engraved in it.

Through it all Harry did his best to ignore the sharp burning pains from his scar. The first time he'd faced Voldemort just being near him had caused incredible pain in that scar catching him by surprise and nearly crippling him. Now Harry was determined to be able to withstand the pain and fight his birth parent's murderer effectively the next time they met. He looked at the tests as a way to train for that rematch, which he was secretly itching for.

Potions was an exceptionally tough practical exam. They all bent over their cauldrons silently trying to brew a forgetfulness potion while Snape breathed down their necks. No one dared say anything in front of him and fortunately Snape was completely quiet as well. But he seemed to be more vindictive about probing Harry's mind than ever. If he hadn't been ecstatic about the practice he was getting Harry might have been furious that the potions professor attacked him during the finals.

Their last exam was History of Magic. After an hour of answering questions about famous wizard inventors and politicians Harry was happy to place his quill down and roll up his test and he cheered with all of the rest of the students happy to be done with their exams.

Harry, Ron and Hermione fled the testing room immediately and joined the throng of students escaping the castle to laze about in the sun. Like usual Hermione wanted to go over the exam once they were done. Ron begged off claiming it would make him sick. Harry was just happy to see that Hermione was back to being herself. She hadn't wanted to review any of the exams since they started; she just immediately rushed off to study. It seemed that now that the end of year tests were over she was willing to relax, at least as much as she ever relaxed.

They were heading down toward the lake where Fred, George and their friend Lee Jordan were tickling one of the tentacles of the giant squid, which was sunning itself in the shallow portion of the lake.

Harry's lightning-bolt scar hurt again. He was ignoring it as best he could, but now that exams were over he didn't have them to concentrate on so he was reminded about Voldemort. Ron, who had stretched himself out on the grass muttering about no more studying, must have noticed, because he spoke up. "You could look more cheerful you know, Harry, we have a whole week before they tell us how bad we did."

"I'm not worried about that," Harry groused. He was confident in his performance on the tests despite the distraction his scar had provided. "I'm more worried about Voldemort waiting to steal the stone until after we leave. I probably won't know about anything that's happening in the wizarding world until I come back next year."

"Don't worry Harry," Ron said calmly. It was too hot for him to worry about anything other the nap he felt coming on. "You were right. Flamel asked Dumbledore to guard the stone, because he's the greatest wizard alive, Snape won't try anything with Dumbledore around. Besides he probably still hasn't found away around Fluffy. After his first try, I bet he won't be trying again until he has that figured out."

"I don't know," Harry said warily. "I just knew what exactly makes my scar hurt like this. Is it because Voldemort's nearby, is he attacking me? I just get the feeling that he's up to something."

"Well he can be up to something all he wants, but until he can get Hagrid to tell him how to get past Fluffy we're all safe." Ron declared happily and yawned. "Do you reckon that your muggle-dueling stuff would let you get past Fluffy?"

"You mean my Martial-Arts?" Harry asked.

"Yeah," Ron said sleepily, yawning again.

"Of course," Harry replied. "It would be pretty easy."

Hermione stood stiffly, too shocked to move. Ron who was beginning to drift off just smiled. "Yeah, just what you'd expect from someone who had a dragon for a pet," he said sleepily.

"Well he's not much of a pet anymore…" Harry trailed off. "I can't believe I missed it," Harry shouted. "Dragons! Come on we've got to talk to Hagrid."

Harry began to drag his friends toward Hagrid's hut. Hermione was still a little stiff, uncertain of what was going on and Ron was about as coordinated as a sack of potatoes having just been jarred out of his nearly sleeping state. Harry didn't seem to notice as he dragged both of them with him.

"Harry!" Hermione yelled as soon as she got her feet under her and could run behind Harry, but Harry didn't seem to answer. "Harry, what did you miss?"

She was louder that time and this time Harry answered her. "Don't you think it's suspicious that Hagrid has always wanted a dragon and someone just happened to have an egg with them even though they're illegal?"

"But Hagrid wouldn't…" Hermione couldn't believe that Hagrid would ever betray Dumbledore.

"Not on purpose I'm sure," Harry replied.

Ron just looked confused up until they found Hagrid sitting outside his house shelling peas. It was an impressive sight to see someone with such large hands deftly handling such small things.

It wasn't long before they'd gotten Hagrid to tell them the whole story about how he had gotten Norbert. The three students had been suspicious that the person that had given him the egg wouldn't let his cloak down, but Hagrid assured them that the Hog's Head where he had been was a very disreputable place and that was common for there. They'd played cards and the stranger had gotten Hagrid more and more drinks, but before he would part with the egg he had insisted Hagrid tell him about what creatures he'd taken care of. The shady character claimed he didn't want to give the egg to someone who couldn't take care of it. So Hagrid had confided in him that he'd taken care of a large three headed dog and didn't think a dragon would be a problem and eventually told the stranger that the secret to taking care any creature was knowing how to calm them which for Fluffy only required playing a bit of music and the giant dog would fall asleep.

Hagrid realized his mistake as soon as he'd told them, but Harry, Ron and Hermione had taken off running toward the school before he could do or say anything. The three of them rushed back into the castle intent on warning Dumbledore of the impending danger without even thinking about the fact that none of them had any idea where Dumbledore's office was.

They were stopped in a Hallway trying to figure out how they were going to find the head master when a stern voice asked them, "What are you three doing inside?"

Professor McGonagall was looking at them sternly over a pile of books in her arms.

"Please, professor," Hermione said sweetly. "We're looking for Professor Dumbledore."

"Looking for Professor Dumbledore," Professor McGonagall repeated, apparently not convinced. "Why?"

"We need to talk to him," Harry said.

"Professor Dumbledore received an urgent owl for the Ministry of Magic and flew off for London ten minutes ago."

When Professor McGonagall told him Dumbledore was gone, Harry suddenly realized what Voldemort was waiting for. He was so distracted he barely registered Professor McGonagall telling them that they could tell her whatever they needed to tell Dumbledore.

"Do you have a way of contacting him, Professor?" Harry asked quickly

"I told you Mr. Potter that you can tell me anything you need to tell the headmaster. I am your head of house." Professor McGonagall bristled.

"You need to contact him and tell him he needs to come back immediately," Harry commanded.

"I do, do I?" Professor McGonagall asked archly. "I suppose that you have something to say that is more important than the Ministry of Magic?"

"Who do you think I am, some schoolyard bully?" Harry asked angrily and Professor McGonagall winced. "Of course I have something to say that's more important than self self-aggrandizing, stuck-up bureaucrat that spills red ink whenever he realizes that he was never competent to do his job!"

"Well if it's so important you can't tell me then you'll have to wait and tell him tomorrow when he gets back," Professor McGonagall huffed.

Harry looked like he was trying to decide how to answer Professor McGonagall's last remark. But after a couple of moments he just started to walk off looking disappointed.

However, Hermione was not willing to give up so easily. "Please Professor, It's about the Philosopher's Stone," Hermione begged.

Professor McGonagall made a sound that sounded like the air being let out of a tire and dropped the books she was carrying. "How did you…" she spluttered.

"Professor, You-Know-Who is going to try and steal it, tonight," Hermione declared.

"I don't know how you found out about the Stone, but rest assured, no one can possibly steal it, it's too well protected."

"But Professor," Hermione said desperately. "He already knows how to get past…"

"Ms. Granger, I know what I'm talking about," McGonagall snapped, interrupting. "I suggest you all go back outside and enjoy the sunshine." She then bent down and began to gather up her books, showing clearly that she considered the conversation over.

Ron and Hermione didn't go outside. With a bit of running that fortunately none of the professors saw they caught up with Harry.

"Why didn't you stay and help us convince her?" Hermione demanded. "That was important and you just gave up!"

"Because I knew she wouldn't listen to us," Harry sighed. "And I didn't want to listen to her make up some degrading story about us and take away points so no one could accuse her of playing favorites."

"She wouldn't do that," Ron replied.

"Funny," Harry turned on Ron. "I seem to remember she accused us of bullying Neville and Malfoy even though Malfoy admitted to trying to get us in trouble and I told her exactly how found out what we were doing. Then she took 50 points from us each as opposed to the 20 she took from Malfoy."

Ron looked abashed. When you put it that way, apparently she would. Hermione also held her tongue. She hadn't realized that Harry was still so upset at Professor McGonagall. He hadn't mentioned it since he'd yelled at Percy the day after it happened.

"So," Harry turned back to Hermione after the silence had gotten uncomfortable. "What did she accuse us of?"

"What?" Hermione asked.

"How did Professor McGonagall say about us knowing about the stone?" Harry asked.

"She just said it was well protected," Hermione said uneasily.

Harry sighed, bracing himself. "How many points did we loose?"

"She didn't take any points," Ron interjected.

"Detention then?" Harry asked.

"No," Hermione answered. "She just told us to go outside."

Harry looked thoughtful at this. Hermione might have said something else, but they almost bumped into Snape as they turned the corner.

"Good afternoon," he said smoothly. His tone of voice made Harry feel as greasy as the man's hair. "You shouldn't be inside on a day like this," the Potions Professor smiled crookedly, as if he knew something they didn't.

"I was just going to get my flute," Harry replied. It was oddly enough the truth.

"Oh," Snape smirked. He didn't believe him for a second.

"Yeah, a friend made it for me, but I haven't had time to learn how to play it. And it seems like I'm going to need to know how." Harry smirked, please with himself. Snape wasn't the only one who knew things he shouldn't.

"You want to be more careful," Snape said. "Hanging around like this, people will think you're up to something. And Gryffindor really can't afford to lose any more points, can it?"

Harry frowned at the threat and began to walk back toward the dorms, Hermione and Ron following him. But Professor Snape wasn't through with them.

"Be warned, Potter," Snape called. "Any more nighttime wanderings and I will personally make sure you are expelled."

Harry turned back and decided to really throw down the gauntlet. "If you catch me in the halls tonight you won't be in any position to expel anyone." And with that he left ignoring the potions master.

Once they were in the common room Harry moved to go up to the boy's dorm and get his flute, but Ron stopped him. "Look Harry," he said. "We need to tail Snape and figure out a plan for how we're going to expose him when he goes after the stone. I think Hermione should try and watch Snape outside the Staff Room."

"Why me?" Hermione asked surprised.

But before Ron could answer Harry cut in. "That won't be necessary Ron."

"But Hermione can just say she was waiting for Professor Flitwick or one of the other Professors to ask about the tests. She always does, no one will suspect anything."

"We don't need to tail him," Harry said. "I can track him from here."

"How?" Ron and Hermione both asked.

"I told you I could sense people's magical energy right?" Ron and Hermione nodded at Harry. "Well, I'll be able to tell if anyone tries to get by Fluffy."

"Then how do we get to a teacher once they do?" Ron asked.

"We don't," Harry replied. "They won't believe us. Tonight I'm going to get past Fluffy and I'll be waiting for them. If they beat me to it, I'll just go in after them."

"You're mad!" Ron yelled.

"You Can't!" Hermione was just as loud. "You'll be expelled! Didn't you see how angry Professor McGonagall was? Didn't you hear what Professor Snape said? You're lucky he didn't take a million points for talking back to him like that!"

"So?" Harry yelled back. Fortunately the common room was empty with everyone outside. "I'm not doing this to win points for Gryffindor. I don't care about Gryffindor or being expelled. This is more important than that. If Voldemort get's his hands on that stone then things will be back to the way there were. Have you ever heard what it was like when he was terrorizing the world? People were scared to leave their homes and when they did leave they were scared that they'd find their family dead when they came back. My life is not so precious that I'm willing to live it knowing that I had a chance to stop that from happening again and did nothing."

"You're right," Hermione said meekly. "I'm sorry," her voice was even quieter.

"It's ok," Harry patted her on the shoulder. "I better start practicing with my flute. Hagrid would be sad if I hurt Fluffy."

"And I better start looking through my books," Hermione added. "There might be something useful,"

"It's alright Hermione," Harry told her. "I can do this by myself."

"No Harry, you were right. This is far more important than school," Hermine said then smirked at him. "Besides, worrying about Voldemort would really cut into my study time next year."

"Then I guess we'd better use the invisibility cloak. We don't want the teachers to stop us" Ron suggested.

"Look you two, you don't have to do this," Harry told them.

"Yeah, we do," Ron replied. "My life isn't so valuable either that I'd…Well I'm no good with words, but I'm not going to let you go alone."

"And wondering if anything I knew could have helped you isn't going to be good for my study-time either," Hermione said before turning and heading up the stairs

Harry sat there stunned for a moment, but he couldn't not let them come. Maybe he should learn to stop using such inspiring words. But he didn't have time to contemplate that. He needed to figure out how to play that flute.

The common room was filled with the off key sound of Harry's experimentation. By the time Dinner came around and students started coming back in Harry thought he could play something that he hoped would put Fluffy to sleep. He couldn't make it sound quite like what he imagined, but he found that by just concentrating on using rising and descending tones he could make a melancholy sounding melody.

After dinner the three of them sat alone in one corner of the common room. Hermione flipped desperately through her notes looking for anything that might help them get through the enchantments guarding the stone while Harry meditated extending his senses toward Fluffy's corridor.

Harry was about to tell Ron and Hermione that they were going to have to sneak out when Lee Jordan finally headed off to bed. Without prompting Harry went up to his dorm to grab his invisibility cloak and throw off his robes. Underneath Harry was wearing the bright Red fighting gi of the Turtle Hermit School with Piccolo's symbol on the back. He had asked Mr. Piccolo to transfigure his broken saiyan armor into the same thing Piccolo had given him in Yonzabit heights. It's what he wore to the cell games. Harry found it funny that he now thought of what Mr. Piccolo had done in terms of the magic he was learning. He would have to talk to Mr. Piccolo about it when he got back.

Slipping his wand behind his back into his belt Harry carried his flute and the invisibility cloak down the stairs. He was telling Ron and Hermione to get under the cloak when a voice from one of the corners of the common room interrupted.

"What are you doing?" Neville stepped out from behind one of the arm chairs. He was holding Trevor, his pet frog tightly in his hands.

Harry just looked Neville in the eyes while Ron stammered out a denial.

But Neville could see the guilty look in Ron's face. "You're going out again," he accused.

"Yes," Harry said over Hermione's no. "Someone found a way past the three headed dog in the third floor corridor. They're going to steal what he's guarding now that Dumbledore's gone."

"You can't go out," Neville sounded almost pleading, "You'll be caught again. Gryffindor will be in even more trouble."

"Then help us." Of all the things Harry could have said no one expected that. Ron and Hermione just looked at Harry shocked. It took a couple of moments before Neville recovered from the shocked, but then he screwed up his face and it looked like he was working up the nerve to do something.

"I won't let you do it," he said and jumped in front of the portrait hole. "I-I-I'll fight you." Neville raised his fists.

"Don't be an idiot Neville," Ron shouted.

"Don't you call me an idiot!" Neville shouted back.

"Ron," Harry snapped before Ron could retort. "He's right, don't call him an idiot. He's just doing what he believes is right. We should respect that."

"But this is important," Ron said.

Ignoring him, Harry turned to Neville. "I want you to know that I respect your bravery and conviction, but I'm sorry, I can't let you stop us this time." Harry crouched down into a fighting stance with his hands curled up into claws in front of him. "I hope we can still be friends after this," Harry said mournfully. "I will tell you everything when we get back if you want."

Before Harry could move to attack he heard Hermione's voice incant, "Petrificus Totalus," and a flash of light passed by him striking Neville. The spell made his legs snap together and glued his arms to his sides. Now as stiff as a board Neville wobbled and fell flat on his face.

"Why did you do that?" Harry asked Hermione who was already rushing over to Neville to turn him over.

"Oh, Neville, I'm so sorry," Hermione said, ignoring her violent friend.

"Why did you do that, Hermione?" Harry complained. "He deserved…"

"Deserved to be beat up?" Hermione hissed.

"No, the chance to prove he was brave enough to stay and fight for what he believed," Harry explained.

"Are you crazy?" Ron whispered. "You punched out a mountain troll. What were you going to do to Neville?"

"I wasn't going to hit him that hard," Harry said.

Neville's eyes were wide in shock and fear. Under Hermione's full body bind spell they were the only things he could moved. His jaw was locked shut so all he could do was make small squeaking noises.

"I think he'd proven that he was going to stay and fight well enough," Hermoine said reprovingly. "And he won't need to spend any time in the hospital wing this way. Now let's go."

Hermione apologized to Neville again and got up to leave out the portrait hole. Ron followed her with a quick "Sorry, mate," to Neville as he stepped over him.

"I hope that next time we can fight on the same side," Harry told Neville and then stepped out of the common room.

"We've got to hurry, whoever is after the stone is already ten minutes ahead of us." Harry told them as he threw his invisibility cloak over Ron and Hermione.

"But what about you?" Hermione's voice flittered through the air.

"I don't need a cloak to become invisible," Harry answered as his body faded from view.

"Harry, how did you…" Hermione's voice asked.

"No time to explain now, we've got to Hurry. Let's go." Harry's voice was coming from ahead of them, so Ron nudged Hermione to move forward.

"Harry? Where are you?" Ron asked after a few steps.

"Just ahead of you," his voice answered.

"But how will we stay together?" Hermione asked

"Don't worry, I'll be close. Don't worry, I can sense you," Harry replied.

But it was hard for Ron and Hermione not to worry, but they were glad they had when they ran across Peeves. They had just escaped past Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris when they found the poltergeist blocking the way at the top of a flight of stairs.

"Who's there?" Peeves called, squinting as he searched for them. "Know you're there, even if I can't see you. Are you ghoulie or ghostie or wee student beastie?"

Peeves floated up and searched some more, several times looking right at them. "Should call Filch, I should, if something's a'creeping around unseen."

Harry didn't have a lot of patience. They were already behind the thief he sensed. So Harry decided to find out if apparitions were immune to living energy. He formed a small blue-white ball of energy at the end of his fingertip. He made it as weak as he could. He didn't want to hurt the poltergeist too badly or damage the walls if it passed through him.

The glowing ball of light was the only thing the poltergeist could see. Not knowing what it was Peeves leaned in close to examine it. Harry was tempted to flick it between the apparition's eyes, but he didn't know what it would do so he aimed it at one of Peeves' legs and fired.

The small ball of light hit Peeves' leg and exploded leaving no visible sign of damage but Peeve's wailed anyway not used to anything being able to touch or hurt him. "What are you?" the poltergeist asked fearfully.

In answer Harry made a much large ball of light over his palm while concentrating as hard as he could on staying invisible. Peeves pointed his finger at the light threateningly and was about to start berating the glowing ball of energy when it emitted several more flashes striking the poltergeist. Peeves fled over the rail screaming about the monstrous demon that had attacked him.

Ron and Hermione stood gob-smacked until they heard Harry's voice from up ahead urging them on. A few seconds later they caught up to him at the door to Fluffy's corridor. Harry was visible and standing next to the open door.

"If you want to stop here you can go back," Harry told them. Behind him Fluffy was sniffing and growling. He couldn't see them outside the door, but he could smell them apparently.

"Don't be stupid," Ron said.

"We're coming with you," Hermione's firm almost growling tone of voice reminded him once again of his mother.

So, after nodding to his friends Harry pulled out his flute and began to play his melancholy melody. After a few seconds the growling and sniffling noises slowed and stopped. Harry stepped through the door in time to see the giant dog lying down and drifting off to sleep.

Hermione noticed a harp lying at the giant dog's feet that hadn't been there the first time they'd been there. Ron presumed Snape left it behind after getting past the dog.

The stench of the dog's breath filled their noses as they approached the trap door. Ron yanked it open. It was so dark down the hole that they couldn't see the bottom. And there was no way down, no stairs or ladder or rope or anything else they could use to descend safely down the shadowy depths.

While Ron and Hermione were still discussing how to get down Harry stopped playing and grabbed his friends around the waist. Then without further warning he jumped down the hole carrying his friends.

Hermione screamed and Ron cursed, both gripped Harry tightly. The fall was so long that the two managed to come to their senses before Harry used a burst of his ki to slow their fall and set them down gently on the spongy ground.

"Are you trying to get us killed mate?" Ron yelled.

"Harry," Hermione was breathless. "How did you…?" Hermione suddenly screamed and jumped back to the wall of the dark stone chamber they were in.

Ron and Harry looked at her as if she had gone mental. "What?" They asked.

"What?" Hermione screamed outraged. "Look at you!"

Harry looked down to see that the spongy floor was actually a huge plant with thousands of tangled vines that were slowly rapping themselves around him and Ron. Not wanting to find out what the plant would do to him after it pulled him down Harry pulled himself free, snapping the vines that had wrapped around him and jumped to the stone ledge Hermione was standing on. When he landed he saw Ron still being held by the vines and being pulled down on his knees

"Stop moving!" Hermione ordered. "I know what this is–it's Devil's Snare!"

"Oh, I'm so glad we know what it's called, that's a great help," Ron snarled as he continued to try and break free from the vines.

"Shut up, I'm trying to remember how to kill it!" Hermione shouted. 'Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare... what did Professor Sprout say…? It likes the dark and the damp!"

"Everyone close you're eyes!" Harry yelled as he placed his hands, fingers splayed beside his face. "Now!"

"Solar Flare!" Harry's voice was accompanied by a massive flash of light that Ron and Hermione could see through their eyelids. Ron felt the vines loosen around him, dropping him on his hands and knees, but he only managed to crawl a few feet before the vines started to wrap themselves around him again.

"Hermione, light a fire," Harry ordered.

"Yes…Of Course!" Hermione yelled, but suddenly panicked. "But there's no wood!"

Harry didn't wait anymore and began using a tightly focused beam of his energy from his palm to try cut through the vines and hopefully light them on fire. But the plant wouldn't light.

"HAVE YOU GONE MAD?" Ron screamed. "ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"

"Oh right," Hermione said blankly then whipped out her wand, muttered an incantation while waving it and sprayed a jet of blue flames around Ron. The plant immediately began to writhe and back away from the heat and light of the flames until finally Ron was able to sprint to the ledge next to Harry and Hermione.

"It's lucky you pay better attention in Herbology than I did Hermione," Harry said. "I don't think I even remember Professor Sprout even mentioning devil's snare."

"Yeah, and lucky Harry doesn't lose his head in a crisis…'there's no wood,' honestly," Ron muttered.

Holding his palm up, Harry formed a glowing ball of ki above his hand. Now able to see clearly Harry pointed toward the only exit, a tunnel. "This way," Harry said. He led them down a large stone tunnel until they came to a brightly lit chamber with a door at the end. The room had several brooms propped up on one side and it was filled with a swarm of shiny winged objects.

"Reckon they'll attack," Ron asked.

"Maybe," Harry before he ran toward the door, disappearing from Ron's view and appearing by the door. The flying objects didn't move, but the door was locked.

Harry tried to twist the handle, but it wouldn't budge even under his strength. Yelling he raised his power level, making his red uniform flutter for a second, and punched the door, trying to break it down. Splinters flaked off where Harry had hit the door, but with an incredible electric popping sound Harry was blasted back across the room and into the wall. His body made a squeaking sound as he slowly slid down the polished stone wall.

"Harry, are you all right?" Hermione squealed as she ran toward him.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Harry stood up and dusted himself off. Ron and Hermione stared at him slack jawed for a moment.

"Well, let's see how it likes this," Harry smirked and squatted down holding both his hands in front of him.

"Wait," Hermione yelled. "These birds must be here for a reason."

Harry lost his concentration. "They're not birds, their…" Harry looked up because he wasn't sure exactly what they were.

"Their keys," Ron shouted excitedly.

"We have to catch one," Hermione looked over at the brooms to the side, "but which one?"

"We're looking for a big, old-fashioned one…probably silver, like the handle," Ron said after looking at the door.

Figuring that he could still try to blow the door down later Harry grinned walked over to the brooms. Mounting one he shot straight up into the air. The flying keys flew away from him, but that wouldn't keep them from the youngest seeker in a century. Harry flew after them, diving into the middle of the swarm and scattering them all every which way.

Harry flew around the room at break neck speed until he finally spotted a large silver key with rumpled blue wings. It looked like it had been caught before. Speeding after it and barely avoiding two collisions with the wall Harry caught it and swooped down to the door next to his cheering friends.

Not wanting his friends to be zapped, Harry put the key in the lock himself. It worked; with a loud click the unlocked and the key flew off. Harry thought it looked angry with its feathers so ruffled.

The next room was pitch-black until they stepped into it. Then with a dazzling flash the room was filled with light revealing a larger than life size chess set. They stood just behind the black pieces.

Under Ron's direction they took the places of three of the black pieces. Harry a bishop, Hermione a rook and Ron took the place of a knight atop its black steed. Like normal wizard chess the game was brutal. The first victim was their other knight. The white queen smashed him onto the marble floor and dragged him off the board.

The queen took several more pieces from the board and a couple of times nearly took Harry and Hermione, but Ron came to the rescue each time. Moving all over the board on the knight's horse he took just as many defeated just as many pieces as the white queen had.

Being on the board with the pieces suddenly made chess come alive to Harry. Strangely, Harry could see things in the thick of things with the other pieces that he had never been able to from above them. It was all just a big fight. Harry thought he could see Ron's overall strategy. With his new understanding Harry wanted to try and help, but trusting Ron, kept silent.

Then Harry saw it. He could tell Ron had been contemplating the move for a while now. If Ron moved forward and to the right, he would put the king in check and the queen would have to take him and Harry could move to checkmate the king.

"Don't do it," Harry said.

"I have to," Ron seemed to steel himself for the task ahead.

"Have to what?" Hermione asked worriedly.

"If I let the queen take me, Harry will be able to checkmate the king," Ron replied. His voice was serene and Harry could tell that he had accepted the possible consequences of his actions.

"No," Hermione yelled.

"We can find another way," Harry said.

"Maybe, but we have to catch up to Snape," Ron said. "We don't have time."

"Wait, I can beat all the pieces at once," Harry said desperately. "We don't have to play by the rules. I can fight our way through."

But Ron's mind was made up. "Don't hang around once you've won," Ron said as he moved forward to meet his fate.

The queen didn't waste a moment once Ron had stopped moving. She knocked Ron right off the stone horse. But Harry didn't wait for her to drag Ron away and immediately ran to checkmate the king.

The white king bowed in defeat and threw his stone crown at Harry's feet. The other pieces bowed and scooted out of the way creating a path to the door to the next chamber.

Looking over at Ron, Harry could see him still breathing and feel his energy. Relieved, but still angry Harry stalked toward the door with Hermione on his heels.

"What if he's…" Hermione couldn't bring herself to say it.

"He's alive," Harry said through clenched teeth. Hermione could tell that he was worried. "And if anything happens to him I'll know."

After a short walk down another corridor they came to another door. Once they opened it they were assaulted by a terribly foul stench. And lying in the middle of the room was its source. A mountain troll even larger than the one Harry had defeated in the bathroom lie unconscious on the ground with blood matted on its head around an angry red bump on its bald head. Harry was upset; he could have used a good fight right at the moment.

The next room looked innocuous enough until they stepped in and a wall of purple flame rose up in the door way they had come in. There were black flames in the one in front. And in the middle was a table with seven glass vials on it along with a roll of parchment with their only clue to how to escape the locked room. The parchment read:

Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,

Two of us will help you, which ever you would find,

One among us seven will let you move ahead,

Another will transport the drinker back instead,

Two among our number hold only nettle wine,

Three of us are killers, waiting bidden in line.

Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,

To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:

First, however slyly the poison tries to hide

You will always find some on nettle wine's left side;

Second, different are those who stand at either end,

But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;

Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,

Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;

Fourth, the second left and the second on the right

Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

Hermione thought it was a brilliant strategy. Even with just their short stay in the wizarding world it was obvious that a great deal of wizards didn't have an ounce of logic in them at all, so this puzzle would stop them cold. But if it was Snape he sensed just ahead of them and this was indeed his trap, he'd have known exactly what potion to use.

Harry was sure he could solve the logic puzzle, but let Hermione do it. He trusted her and while she was solving the puzzle Harry was considering how to get past this trap. He was considering blasting a hole through the wall or over the door when Hermione announced she'd solved the puzzle.

The only problem was that there was barely even a swallow left of the potion they needed. Harry was about to offer to try and blast through, but stopped himself. "Hermione, do you know which potion will take you back?"

Hermione pointed at a round bottle at the right end of the line of potions.

"Take that one," Harry ordered. "If the troll is awake levitate its club and hit him or use your fire spell. Get Ron and use one of the brooms from the key room to fly back through the trap door. You should be able to get past Fluffy on the broom, but if you can't take this." Harry handed Hermione the flute. "Send Hedwig to Dumbledore and let him know what's happened and tell the teachers. If whoever's in there manages to get past me he'll be pretty banged up."

Hermione's lip trembled and she glomped onto Harry wrapping him tightly in her arms.

"It's all right," Harry said lightly squeezing her back. "I'm a warrior; I've been trained to fight since I was five years old. I won't loose easily."

"Harry," Hermione said uneasily, "You're a great wizard, you know."

"I don't know," Harry said dryly. "I don't seem to trust my magic. I'm going to have to learn to use it with my other skills. Ever since we got down here I've just used my energy. You and Ron figured out how to get past the door with the keys when I was about to try and blast it. Ron got us through the chess room when I just wanted to fight my way through it. And you solved this room's puzzle while I was trying to figure out where to put the new door."

Hermione giggled for a moment before stepping back. "Oh do be careful," she begged.

Harry smiled at her. "Don't worry. All I'll be doing in the next room is fighting, and I'm good at that. Now go and get Ron."

Hermione took a swallow from her bottle and shivered.

"All you all right," Harry asked.

"It's cold," she said.

"Then go before it wears off…Now!" Harry finally convinced Hermione to leave him. He took a moment to calm his mind before swallowing the last of his potion. Just like Hermione had said he felt cold, like ice water was running through his veins. Harry stepped through the fire. Like at platform nine and three quarters for a moment he couldn't see anything but the fire, but another step and he was in the final chamber with the person whose strange energy he'd been unable to recognize. And disappointingly it wasn't Snape or even Voldemort.

It was the last person he would have expected. Professor Quirrell stood examining a very familiar mirror in the middle of the chamber.

"I should have known," Harry said drawing Quirrell's attention.

"Oh," Quirrell said calmly turning toward Harry. "I wondered whether I'd be meeting you here, Potter."

"Really," Harry was surprised by this. "It was easy to figure out that whoever was after the stone would come her now that Dumbledore was gone, but how did you know I'd follow?"

"You're too nosy to live, Potter. Scurrying around the school on Halloween like that, for all I knew you'd seen me coming to look at what was guarding the Stone."

"I only saw Snape," Harry said while stalking around the room.

"Oh, and you thought he was after the stone," Quirrell sounded amused. "Yes, Severus does seem the type, doesn't he? So useful to have him swooping around like an overgrown bat. Next to him, who would suspect p-p-poor, st-stuttering P-Professor Quirrell?"

"His attacking me didn't help his establish his innocence," Harry responded

"No, no, no. I tried to kill you. Your friend Miss Granger accidentally knocked me over as she rushed to hex Snape at that Quidditch match. She broke my eye contact with you. Another few seconds and I'd have got you off that broom. I'd have managed it before then if Snape hadn't been muttering a countercurse, trying to save you."

"You do realize the fall wouldn't have bothered me right?" Harry grinned smugly.

"Don't worry, I won't be so easy on you this time," Quirrell snarled and snapped his fingers and ropes leapt out of the air at Harry. Harry stepped gently to the side easily in time to avoid the ropes, but they swung out and started to wrap around him. "Now, wait quietly, Potter. I need to examine this interesting mirror."

Quirrell turned back to the mirror and began muttering, completely ignoring Harry. Berating himself for being surprised by the ropes, Harry tested their strength. He stopped when he could feel them start to give without him needing to use more than a small fraction of his power. If Quirrell was willing to so easily dismiss him there was no need to let the professor know the magnitude of the mistake he was making until it was time to act.

Harry sat up casually, as if he didn't even notice the ropes wrapped around him. Before he acted he needed to know as much as he could and the whole situation with Snape was still bothering him.

"Then why did Snape act like he hated me?" Harry asked, still trying to get a grip on Snape's behavior.

"Oh he hates you," Quirrell still seemed distracted. "He was at Hogwarts with your father, didn't you know? They loathed each other. But he never wanted you dead. Why do you think he wanted to referee your second match?"

"I saw Snape threatening you after the match, didn't he want the stone?"

"No," Quirrell responded absently. "He'd been on to me since he caught me checking the stone's defenses on Halloween. He thought he could keep the stone from me. As if he could when I had Lord Voldemort on my side..."

Quirrell's voice faded and Harry could see the mirror working its spell on him entrancing the man with its images. "I see the Stone... I'm presenting it to my master... but where is it?" Quirrell began muttering to himself again.

"Funny," Harry chuckled. "You didn't seem so confident about you're master's protection a few days ago when Snape was threatening you. I heard you sobbing in the class room."

Quirrell jerked and looked scared. Harry suspected it was the first time he'd ever seen real fear on the man's face. "Sometimes," he hiccupped, "I find it hard to follow my master's instructions…he is a great wizard and I am weak…"

"Voldemort was with you…in the school?!" Harry yelled. He was certain he'd have been able to detect Voldemort if he came into the school. The idea that the most feared man in the wizarding world could be walking around the school without Harry sensing it bothered Harry greatly.

"He is with me wherever I go," Quirrell shuddered. "I met him when I traveled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it..."

Harry laughed interrupting Quirrell's monologue. "You fell for the power speech?" Harry laughed hysterically for a moment. "Look being feared doesn't make you powerful," Harry explained. "And working for a guy that is feared definitely doesn't make you powerful."

"Someone with as little magical training as you couldn't possibly comprehend the things my master showed me," Quirrell seethed.

"Maybe not," Harry admitted, "But power that isn't earned will fail you."

"Ignore the boy, focus on the mirror, he's trying to distract you," a voice shouted out of nowhere. Harry got worried; there was someone in the room that he could neither see or sense.

The voice terrified Quirrell. His eyes took on a crazed look and his face twitched. "Y-y-yes M-m-master," he stuttered. "I don't understand... is the Stone inside the mirror? Should I break it, master?"

"Go ahead," Harry called out, hoping to get a response from the unseen voice. "The mirror's just a distraction."

"The boy knows the mirror, use the boy," the voice sounded desperate and to Harry's shock seemed to be coming from Quirrell himself

"Yes," Quirrell said obediently. "Potter, come here."

Quirrell clapped his hand and the ropes disappeared. Harry casually got up, but it wasn't fast enough for Quirrell. "Come here, look in the mirror and tell me what you see," he yelled.

Hesitantly Harry looked into the mirror. He had wondered what he would see now that he had resolved his problem's accepting both of his families, but now he was worried that whatever it was might cause him even more anguish.

But when he looked into the mirror he didn't see his family or a group of strangers. He just saw himself dressed in his now dusty fighting uniform, just like a normal reflection. Then suddenly his reflection moved on its own. It winked at him and reached into one of his pockets pulling out a redish-orange sphere with a single red star on it and slipping it back in his pocket. And when it did Harry felt the ball drop into his pocket.

Harry was shocked. That wasn't the sorcerer's stone that was the one star dragon ball. Nicholas Flamel must have gathered all seven dragonballs and wished for eternal life and just claimed that he'd invented the sorcerer's stone. For a moment Harry was tempted to let Quirrell have the dragon ball, it was useless without the other six, but he didn't want to clue Voldemort in on another way he could be restored to live, especially while the four star ball was at home with his mum and currently defenseless baby brother. But his shock must have shown on his face. "What did you see," Quirrell demanded.

"I saw a girl," Harry tried to come up with something fast. Harry remembered Sirius' teasing. "She had red hair. And she fought so fiercely…" Harry shuddered at the supposed image. "She moves so gracefully yet viciously…it's the most beautiful…"

"He lies," Harry heard the voice yell again, but this time it was accompanied by the feeling of another presence prying into his mind. By now it was instinctive for Harry to react to mental intrusions by focusing on his painful memory. And when he did Quirrell collapsed to the ground screaming in pain along with the unseen voice.

Harry jumped back, and when the pressure in his mind eased, he released his painful memory. After a few moments of panting on the ground, Quirrell raised himself to his knees. "You were attacking me in potions," Harry accused. "I was so certain that at least was Snape."

"No," the invisible voice said. "If I had done it, I would have been prepared."

"Now, Let me speak to him... face-to-face..." The voice seemed to be talking to Quirrell.

"Master, you are not strong enough!" Quirrell simpered

"I have strength enough... for this..." The voice replied.

Quirrell bowed his head in submission and then began to unwrap his turban. Harry stepped back into a defensive stance, uncertain what was happening. When the wrapping was removed Quirrell's head looked strangely small. Once he turned around Harry could see why.

On the back of Quirrell's bald head was another face, a ghastly visage with glowing red eyes and slits where his nose should be. It spoke and Quirrell's energy started to change becoming more and more filthy feeling, just like Voldemort. "That was impressive, Harry Potter. You're defense against the mind arts was unconventional, but effective. I prize innovation…Join me,"

"You mean tell you how to find the stone," Harry said calmly.

"You know how to get it?" The face who could only be Voldemort sounded desperate and for the second time Harry felt an intruder in his mind.

Harry's response was the same and the face grimaced as Quirrell stumbled and screamed in agony. Quirrell looked to be still recovering when Voldemort spoke again, croaking angrily. "Don't be a fool—give me the stone! Better save your own life and join me! Or you'll meet the same end as your parents... They died begging me for mercy..."

"LIAR!" Harry screamed. Suddenly overcome by an instinctive desire to protect his parent's memory Harry became furious. And as his anger rose he began to call on his power.

"How touching..." Voldemort smiled evilly. "I've always valued bravery too... Yes, boy, your parents were brave... I killed your father first; and he put up a courageous fight... but your mother needn't have died... she was trying to protect you... Now give me the Stone, unless you want her to have died in vain."

"Then take it from me," Harry yelled calling on even more of his power.

"He has the stone," Voldemort yelled.

Before Quirrell could even turn around Harry leapt into the air and punched Voldemort's face. That was when the unexpected happened. A searing pain like in erupted in his scar making Harry feel like his head was being split open. The pain in his scar was more intense by far than it had ever been before. It caused Harry to lose focus and consequentially his power.

Quirrell screamed but only stumbled at the blow. Harry fell to the ground almost falling himself. Before Harry had recovered from the shock and could react his scar erupted again as he felt Quirrell's hands around his neck. He barely heard Quirrell shout, "Where is the stone?" before the pain started.

It took a moment for Harry to push aside the staggering pain despite his practice with his meditation. Quirrell was screaming, "Master, I cannot hold him—my hands—my hands!"

"Then kill him fool," Voldemort commanded.

Harry broke Quirrell's hold and jumped back. Quirrell did as well.

They staggered for a moment trying to push through the pain before Quirrell raised his hands again, presumably for something more fatal. Not waiting for Quirrell's attack Harry ran at him, yelling and raising his power he punched Quirrell.

Even expecting the pain that would accompany striking the possessed man Harry wasn't full ready for the pain. But this time Harry didn't lose all of his power. His punch sent Quirrell across the room.

Despite the pain induced fog the whole thing seemed like it happened in slow motion. Raising his power quickly again Harry sent a blast of energy at Quirrell's body, which was falling toward the ground after bouncing off the wall.

There was a loud crack and Harry was looking up through a blurry tunnel at a stern face crowned by dark Hair. "/Mother/" Harry said in Chinese.

"It's good to have you back with us Mr. Potter," a dry female voice answered in English.

"You're not my mother," Harry said groggily.

"No I'm not," Professor McGonagall said. "I'm surprised you would mistake me for her. You're mother had such beautiful red hair."

"Not, my birth mother, my real mother," Harry said.

"Real mother?"

"Yes, the woman that raised me," Harry took a moment to clarify.

"Oh, I hadn't realized you'd been adopted," McGonagall seemed embarrassed.

"You look a lot like her you know," Harry said. "You even act a bit like her and your stance and your walk is similar. You both walk with power and the efficiency of a fighter, but mother is a martial artist, she's more graceful." Harry didn't know why he was telling her this or even where he was.

"You are in the hospital wing," Professor McGonagall supplied when he started to look around. Harry was lying in a bed with bright white linen sheets next to a table full of cards and sweets.

"The sweets are from your admirers," McGonagall told him. "You even received a toilet seat, which Madam Pomfrey confiscated. I can't prove it, but I'm sure it came from Fred and George Weasley." Professor McGonagall made a show of putting her head in her hands and sighing. "Sometimes I don't know what those two are thinking?"

For some reason Harry wanted to stand up for the two read-heads who, despite their age gap had looked out for him until the point fiasco. "At the train platform their sister was distraught about being left behind. Their mother had been threatening them about blowing up toilets, so they offered to send a Hogwarts toilet seat to their sister to cheer her up." Harry explained. "I appreciate the gesture."

Professor McGonagall looked touched for a moment. Harry suspected that she'd spent a lot of time disciplining the two boys and had never had the chance to see the strength of their compassion, even if they hid it behind more jokes.

"Well their sister is on the books for next year," Professor McGonagall cleared her throat. "I will be quite put out if she doesn't make it into Gryffindor."

Harry was a little surprised. He'd never seen this side of his head of house. Looking around he spotted the sweats again. "But I didn't think anyone much cared for me right now," Harry said confused.

"The sorcerer's stone was supposed to be a secret, but after your antics somehow every one knows," Professor McGonagall looked annoyed about the matter. "If it was still being protected here I might be forced to take more points."

"So I missed, he got the stone," Harry seemed to deflate.

"No," McGonagall said quickly, but seemed hesitant to continue. "You shouldn't blame yourself," McGonagall said suddenly. "When you-know-who left Professor Quirrell's body he could no longer survive. But it's not your fault," McGonagall immediately began to say. "If you blame anyone you should blame him." McGonagall's tone left no doubt about which him she was referring too.

"No," Harry said. "Quirrell lusted for power, he let Voldemort convince him to forget right and wrong to pursue power. He let Voldemort into his heart before he ever let him into his body. That is why he was destroyed."

Professor McGonagall was impressed at the wisdom in Harry's voice, but she was distinctly uncomfortable discussing the fall of her now dead colleague. So she changed the subject to the first thing that came to mind. "Mr. Potter you really shouldn't use that name," she said reprovingly

"Professor McGonagall, the beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name," Harry sounded disappointed. "My family has been fighting people like Voldemort for years. People like him live in fear that someone or even everyone together will rise up against them and destroy them. It always happens eventually. It's human nature to fight for freedom. They depend on the power of fear to keep from being destroyed. By fearing to even say his name you are empowering Voldemort. Just by saying his name you weaken him by weakening people's fear of him, even if it's only your own."

Even more uncomfortable Professor McGonagall decided to get to the point of why she came. "I wanted to apologize to you…"

Harry just looked at her expectantly.

"Oh, Harry, I thought I might not get the chance," McGonagall grabbed his arm. It was the biggest display of emotion he'd ever seen from her. "You're right I was unfair to you. I was so angry that you had the audacity to claim that something you might be doing was more important than the school rules. When I calmed down I was very impressed by your courage and willingness to face the consequences of you actions, but I was so angry at the time that I threw it in your face. I'm sorry Mr. Potter it was unfair of me to punish you so severely."

Professor McGonagall's apology was heart-felt, but Harry didn't look satisfied. "Professor, I don't care about the punishment. I was serious when I said I wouldn't have broken the rules if I wasn't willing to face the consequences. But despite Malfoy admitting that he was out that night solely to get us in trouble, bullying us, you accused me and my friends of bullying not only Malfoy, but also Neville. And you refused to listen when I tried to explain what had happened you were so sure we were bullies. I have risked my life twice for the school this year and without any evidence you treated me like a bully. That's what upset me." Harry said.

The more Mr. Potter said the more impressed McGonagall became at the young man. "I'm afraid I've done you a disservice Mr. Potter. I'm sorry I misjudged you."

"Thank you," Harry said.

"Well it seems you've recently passed a very big test of character," Professor McGonagall stood up

"A killer test," Harry agreed

"Nearly dieing is not something to make light of Mr. Potter," McGonagall scolded. "And next time please leave the heroics to the adults." McGonagall tried to sound stern, but Harry thought he could hear the concern in her voice.

"Would Dumbledore have won?" Harry asked as Professor McGonagall started to leave.

"Of course," McGonagall turned around. "Dumbledore is the only one that he…that Voldemort ever feared." With that last statement Professor McGonagall left.

Harry sat there in his bed waiting for someone to tell him how long he had to stay. He had suspected Madam Pomfrey would have talked to him after Professor McGonagall left, but she hadn't. Harry was just getting up to look for her when a voice stopped him.

"Leaving so soon Harry?" It was Dumbledore.

"I was looking for Madam Pompfrey," Harry said.

"You are a better man than I then," Dumbledore's eyes twinkled in mirth. "I'm afraid even now I would have been looking to make good my escape."

Harry smiled wickedly. "Oh dear, I appear to be having a bad influence on you." Dumbledore said. "Madam Pomfrey will be upset if I don't remind you that it's important to make sure you allow your body to heal."

"Perhaps you should enjoy some of the sweets your admirers have sent you," Professor Dumbledore gestured to the table Harry covered in sweets." Dumbldore seemed to be trying to distract him from leaving. Harry just smiled at the comedy of it.

"Ah good," Dumbledore's eyes twinkled again. "If Madam Pomfrey found out that I had let you go, I might not be allowed to visit students in the hospital wing of my own school."

"How long have I been in here?" Harry asked.

"Two days," Dumbledore said dryly, the humor gone from his voice. "You gave me quite the scare there, for a while there I thought I was too late."

"But I thought that I…" Harry stopped himself. He wasn't sure if he wanted to explain his abilities to Professor Dumbledore.

But Dumbledore seemed to think that he was concerned over his hand in the fate of Professor Quirrell. "You did indeed defeat him, Harry, but the effort nearly killed you. When I first found you lying on the ground with the stone in your pocket for one terrible moment I thought it had."

"Professor McGonagall said the stone wasn't being kept here any longer, what happened to it?"

"It has been destroyed," Dumbledore said calmly.

"Destroyed?" Harry asked shocked. "Did you see it?"

Harry was apparently louder than he thought, because Dumbledore asked him to calm down. "No I didn't see it. I had a long talk with my friend Nicholas Flamel, the stone's creator. We all agreed that it was best that the stone be destroyed. He assures me that it is gone."

Sagging in his bed, Harry sighed in relief. If Flamel was sticking to his story about the stone and Dumbledore didn't see it destroyed, Flamel probably just got rid of the Dragonball. They were supposed to be indestructible, but they were created by Dende's magic so Harry was worried that they might be able to be destroyed by magic. The Dragonballs had been used too often to help save the world for Harry to allow them to be destroyed.

But another question popped into Harry's mind. "So did the sorcerer's stone make the Flamel's young or did they stay looking older?" Harry wondered if they'd asked for eternal life or just eternal youth.

Dumbledore looked concerned. "To one as young as you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but Nicolas and Perenelle are ready to pass on. To them it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all. The trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."

"I know," Harry said. "I do not fear death. I was just curious about exactly how the elixir worked."

"That is good Harry," Dumbledore smiled. He could see that Harry really didn't fear death. "The stone kept them from aging."

Harry smiled. Good wisher, Harry thought.

"I understand I have you to thank for convincing Professor McGonagall to use Voldemort's name," Dumbledore continued on. "I've been trying to convince her, and everyone else for that matter, to call him by his name for years. Hopefully she will continue to do so."

Harry smiled back at the headmaster. "I hope so too," he said. "But there are some things I've been trying to figure out, I was wondering if you knew the truth about them."

"The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing," Dumbledore sighed. "It should therefore be treated with great caution. However, I shall answer your questions unless I have a very good reason not to, in which case I beg you'll forgive me. I shall not, of course, lie."

"Do you know why Quirrell and I couldn't touch each other?" Harry asked.

Dumbledore looked up at the ceiling began to stroke his beard thoughtfully. "I know why Quirrell couldn't touch you…your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign... to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good."

"But when I touched him, my scar exploded in pain," Harry said angrily. "If it weren't for that Quirrell wouldn't have been a threat at all. That protection nearly got me killed."

"Oh," Dumbledore said archly. "You're quite confident I see." Dumbledore chuckled. "I cannot be certain, there has never been a scar quite like yours that I am aware of. But I suspect it marks a connection between you and Voldemort and when your mother's love reacted to Quirrell's evil touch it reacted to whatever lingers of the magic that Voldemort attempted to use to kill you."

"Is there a way to stop it or get rid of the scar?" Harry asked desperately.

"Alas, none I know of," Dumbledore said sadly.

"Voldemort told me that he didn't want to kill my mother, he only wanted me," Harry said. "Why was he after me when I was only a baby?"

"Alas, I cannot tell you. Not today. Not now. You will know, one day... put it from your mind for now, Harry. When you are older... I know you hate to hear this... when you are ready, you will know."

"But Voldemort is still out there isn't he? He could still come after me?" Harry wasn't quite willing to give up.

"Yes, Harry," Dumbledore replied. "He is still out there somewhere, perhaps looking for another body to share... not being truly alive, he cannot be killed. Nevertheless, Harry, while you may only have delayed his return to power, it will merely take someone else who is prepared to fight what seems a losing battle next time. And if he is delayed again, and again, why, he may never return to power."

Harry didn't appreciate secret's being kept from him, especially ones that could mean his life or death, but he could tell he wouldn't get more out of Professor Dumbledore than the old man was willing to tell. Giving up for now, Harry would be certain to ask the headmaster that question again some day, Harry asked another question. "Do you know who gave me my father's cloak?"

"Ah," Dumbledore smiled. "Your father happened to leave it in my possession, and I thought you might like it. Useful things... your father used it mainly for sneaking off to the kitchens to steal food when he was here."

"Quirrell told me Snape…"

"Professor Snape Harry," Dumbledore said mildly reprovingly.

Harry bristled at being asked to show respect for someone who had been attacking him all year. "Quirrell said he hated me, because he hated my father. Is that true?"

"Well, they did rather detest each other. Not unlike yourself and Mr. Malfoy. And then, your father did something Snape could never forgive."

"What?" Harry asked eagerly

"He saved his life."

Harry laughed out loud.

"Yes..." Dumbledore said wistfully. "Funny, the way people's minds work, isn't it? Professor Snape couldn't bear being in your father's debt...I do believe he worked so hard to protect you this year because he felt that would make him and your father even. Then he could go back to hating your father's memory in peace..."

"Yes," Harry agreed. Harry was about to thank Dumbledore, but one more thing popped into his head. "How did I get the stone out of the mirror? I never really figured that one out."

"Ah, now, I'm glad you asked me that," Dumbledore smiled. "It was one of my more brilliant ideas, and between you and me, that's saying something. You see, only one who wanted to find the Stone…find it, but not use it…would be able to get it; otherwise they'd just see themselves making gold or drinking Elixir of Life. My brain surprises even me sometimes..."

With that Dumbledore dismissed himself. He took one of Bettie Bott's Every Flavor Beans which turned out to be earwax.

Harry had to beg Madam Pomfrey to allow his friends to visit him. They wanted to hear about what happened after he got into the chamber with Quirrell, so he told them. He didn't hold anything back, so he ended up explaining how he could use his living energy to blast things and promised to show them if they could find a place to do it secretly when he got out.

Harry asked them how they faired when they left and it turned out that after waking up Ron, they didn't have any trouble getting out on the brooms. They met Dumbledore in the Entrance hall. He seemed to know that Harry had gone after Quirrell.

He told them everything Dumbledore and McGonagall had told him. It turned out that after speaking to Harry, Professor McGonagall had apologized to Ron and Hermoine as well.

"So the stone's gone? Flamel is just going to die?" Ron asked.

Harry grinned. "No, that's just what Dumbledore thinks." Harry looked side to side and closed his eyes to help him sense anyone who might be listening. Then he told them about the dragonballs and how once you found all seven you could summon the eternal dragon and make any wish you wanted and he explained that it sounded like the Flamel's asked for eternal youth, so they wouldn't die of natural causes.

"But Dumbledore…" Ron began.

"Ah, let him believe what makes him happy," Harry said. "Besides we don't want to risk Voldemort learning about them. And if he believes the stone is destroyed, he won't be looking for them."

Shortly after that Ron and Hermione were run out of the Hospital Wing having long exceeded the five minutes Madam Pomfrey had agreed to. But they weren't the only visitors Harry had during the two days he was forced to stay in bed.

Neville begged Madam Pomfrey for a few minutes to apologize to Harry. He told Harry that after having Harry stand up for him and call him brave he felt bad trying to stop him.

"You were standing up for what you believed was right. I respect that and like I said…hopefully next time we'll be able to fight on the same side. Look forward to it," Harry told the nearly crying boy.

When Hagrid visited he was crying so badly and so loudly that Harry didn't think he could have heard Madam Pomfrey trying to forbid him from visiting, nor would he have noticed if he'd walked over her. The gamekeeper blamed himself for all the danger Harry had been in. Harry tried to comfort him telling him that everything was all right and that Voldemort would have found a way to the stone even if he hadn't tricked him.

It turned out that Hagrid had a present for Harry. It was a beautiful leather photo album filled with magical moving pictures of his parents. Hagrid had spent the previous day owling all of his birth parents old friends for pictures so he could make it for him. Harry was touched.

After two days of lying around, Harry was finally released from the Hospital Wing. He would have to send Dumbledore a thank you note once he got home, because apparently he had ordered Madam Pomfrey to let him go against her will.

The great hall was filled with green and silver banners with big snakes to celebrate Slytherin's seventh house cup victory in a row. Ron had told Harry that since he was unconscious for the final match Ravenclaw had pounded Gryffindor leaving the House cup to Slytherin.

Everyone seemed to have gotten over their animosity toward Harry and had reverted to staring at him as he entered the great hall. Harry could hear his name being whispered all over the great hall. Fortunately, before Harry could die of embarrassment, Dumbledore arrived and the chatter died down as everyone waited for him to make his speech.

Dumbledore began with the same type of silliness he seemed to usually use when addressing the students. He announced the point spread, which was stood with Gryffindor in forth place with 312 points, Hufflepuff in third with 352 points, Ravenclaw in second 426 points and Slytherin in first place with 472 points.

The Slytherins cheered riotously. Harry tried to remember that he'd been willing to accept the consequences of his actions, but he did not want to see Malfoy reaping the rewards.

"Yes, Yes, well done, Slytherin," Dumbledore said loudly. "However, recent events must be taken into account."

The wind seemed to be taken out of the Slytherin's sails. "I have a few last minute points that need to be awarded."

"First, to Mr. Ronald Weasley…for nobility, conviction and sacrifice along with the best-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."

Gryffindor's cheering was uproarious. Everyone, but a very embarrassed Ron seemed to be making as much noise as they could.

"Second, to Miss Hermione Granger...for the staying calm in the face of terror and the use of cold logic in the face of fire, I award Gryffindor house fifty points."

Loud cheers filled the hall again as Gryffindor started to cheer. This time Hermione was silent as well with her head buried in her hands.

"Third, to Mr. Harry Potter." When Dumbledore paused the entire hall was quiet. "For pure nerve and outstanding courage, I award Gryffindor house sixty points."

Students at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables joined Gryffindor in the tumultuous noise of cheering students this time. Those that had added it up knew that Gryffindor and Slytherin were now tied.

Dumbledore raised his hand and waited for the din to die down. "There are all kinds of courage," Dumbledore said. "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, especially against overwhelming odds. But it takes a special kind of courage to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom."

The great hall erupted with cheering so loud that no one could hear anything else. Neville who had never before won Gryffindor a single point had just won them the house cup. Crowded by people hugging him and slapping him on the back, the boy couldn't hear a single word of their praise through the deafening noise.

"Which if my calculations are correct," Dumbledore barely managed to make himself heard over the storm of applause. "A change of decoration is in order." Dumbledore then clapped his hands and suddenly the giant banners all over the hall changed from green to red, now adorned with Gryffindor's golden lion. Harry laughed when he saw Snape's forced smile as he shook Professor McGonagall's hand. Fortunately the noise prevented the potions professor from hearing him.

As all such nights do, that happy evening came to an end. In all of the excitement Harry had forgotten that grades would be given out. They were the next day. Ron was surprised that he'd made very respectable grades. Harry had outstanding grades in every class except potions. Harry hardly felt it was fair and Snape's bias seemed terribly obvious to him, he hoped his mother would see it that way when she saw the report card with all of his grades on it. Only Hermione was surprised when they found out that Hermione had the best grades of anyone in their year. Even Neville did well, his incredible herbology grade made up for his terrible potions grade. The amazing thing was that even Crabbe and Goyle passed. Harry had hoped they'd the two dumb as a post gorilla's masquerading as boys would fail so he could see what Malfoy would do without his two cronies.

But soon everyone's wardrobes were emptied out into their trunks, some neater than others, and the students were all crowded in the entrance hall trying to get out. They were each handed a note reminding them not to use magic over the summer. Harry grinned when he got his; he knew he'd be doing it anyway. Hagrid took the first years back across the lake in the boats where they were crammed back onto the train.

The three friends whiled away their time talking and laughing with each other for the last time for the next two months. But eventually they had to doff the robes that they'd become so accustomed to for less outlandish vestments in preparation for their arrival at Kings Cross Station.

Once there they had to wait for in line to get off the platform. An elderly guard only let them out in twos and threes to keep from scaring the muggles with a large mass of students walking out of a solid wall. "You must come and stay this summer," Ron said as they approached the wall, "both of you…I'll send you an owl."

Harry smiled. "That would be great, just remember it takes a little while for an owl to get to where I live."

Harry, Ron and Hermione all left through the gateway into muggle London together. He, Ron, and Hermione passed through the gateway together. "There he is, Mom, there he is, look! Harry Potter!" Ron's little sister, Ginny squealed. "Look, Mom! I can see…"

"Be quiet, Ginny, and it's rude to point." Mrs. Weasley scolded her as they approached.

The youngest Weasley's voice wasn't just heard by Harry and his companions. It drew two more people who had been looking for Harry.

"Harry," Gohan, Harry's brother and Sirius, Harry's Godfather called. Harry introduced his friends to brother and his godfather. They were all shocked at how much Harry and Gohan looked alike.

"Well mum wanted us to come straight home," Gohan told everyone, much to Sirius' disappointment.

"All right then," Harry said guiding everyone into an empty waiting room.

"Well good bye everyone," Harry said before placing two fingers to his forehead and silently disappearing in a blur.

Mrs. Weasley stood there in shock, trying to speak, but nothing came out.

"Mum, he's Harry Potter," Ron said as if that explained everything.


The End of HPDBZ and the Sorcerers' Ball

Omake:

(Yes, I know I'm putting the traps out of order to facilitate the joke.)

"We've got to go back," Harry voice quavered as they stepped into the dank chamber.

"What about Snape?" Ron asked. "He's already ahead of us."

"We'll have to get him when he comes back. We can't go in there," Harry started to sweat.

"What—why?" Ron asked

"There's something terrible in here."

"What?" Ron and Hermione asked.

"There, I think I see it," Harry pointed into the gloom.

Ron and Hermione squinted into the darkness. "What? Behind the Rabbit?" Ron asked.

Harry was trembling now. "No, it is the rabbit."

"Harry," Hermione scolded, "This is no time for joking."

"Yeah, you got us all worked up," Ron whined.

"I'm serious," Harry told them.

"It's just a cute little bunny," Hermione gushed.

"That's no ordinary rabbit!" Harry said loudly.

"Really," Hermione looked at Harry disapprovingly.

"It's got incredible power, I've never felt anything like it," Harry sounded desperate.

"What can he do, nibble our bums?" Ron asked condescendingly.

"It could kill us, look at the bones—can you smell that there used to be a troll in here…" Harry looked around the room desperately. "Look at that stain on the wall." Harry pointed to their right.

"That's gross Harry," Hermione looked sick.

"It used to be a troll!" Harry sounded hysterical now.

"So?" Hermione couldn't see the point. "That cute little thing couldn't have done that, it must have been Snape."

"Snape isn't powerful enough to do that," Harry answered incredulously. "It had to be the rabbit!"

"Oh, please," Hermione said before she squatted down and started to call the rabbit over to them.

"No don't," Harry warned.

"Just shush you!" Hermione glared at Harry before going back to calling the rabbit over in a sugary sweet voice.

The rabbit-monster squeaked happily and began to hop over to Hermione. As it came closer they could see that it had brown fur, floppy ears and shiny gold cat like eyes.

Hermione picked the supposedly terrible beast up and began to coo at it while cuddling it up to her face. "Are you coming?" she asked the two boys as she walked toward the next door.

Ron looked stunned, but followed immediately, but Ron and Hermione were nearly to the door before Harry finally came out of his stupor and caught up to them.

"I told you that thing was dangerous," Harry smirked triumphantly at Hermione.

"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," Hermione huffed.

"Hermione," Harry was trying to sound patient and failing. "There used to be thirty-two giant stone chess pieces in here."

Ron stood nearly catatonic blubbering about the burnt black giant marble chessboard they were standing on and the beautiful chess pieces while Harry and Hermione argued.

"I don't see anything that could have been chess pieces," Hermione shook her head as if to look again

"Don't you see those piles of ash?" Harry pointed toward the far wall. "That's all that's left of them after that monster sitting on your head incinerated them."

" Ryo is too cute to be a monster and I'm sure she had nothing to do with those chess pieces you think you saw." Hermione sounded like she was addressing a child.

Reaching up to pet the rabbit on her head Hermione started cooing at it again. "You're so cute…yes you are…yes you are…"

Harry looked on morbidly. "It has a name?" he asked.

"Everyone needs a name," Hermione said indignantly. "And Ryo is just a harmless little bunny."

"She meowed like a cat, there was a bright flash of light and the pieces were disintigrated," Harry tried to explain again.

"Rabbits aren't supposed to meow," Ron squeaked out.

"Thank you for that amazing piece of information Mr. Expert Zoologist," Hermione yelled at the still apoplectic Ron before she turned on Harry. "She's just a rabbit!"

"She has the face and front legs of a cat." Harry said calmly. Too worn out to get worked up anymore.

"Ok, so she's a Cabbit," Hermione said as if the issue was now closed.

Harry just shook his head defeated. No longer to form coherent words anymore Ron just stood there making grunting noises.

"So do you think she'll let me do anything?" Harry asked as they stepped into the final room.

"Not the Rabbit!" Voldemort yelled from the back of Professor Quirrell's now turban-less head.

"She hasn't done anything," Hermione ignored everyone but Harry.

"She hasn't done anything?" Harry yelled. "I haven't done anything! That rabbit killed the troll, blasted the chess pieces and blew out the fire, we still don't know what those potions were for?"

"I'm sure she's not trying to steal your thunder." Hermione sighed. Boys could be so impossible some time.

"Confound it Potter," Voldemort screamed. "This is your fault for not killing me all the way last time!"

Seeing that everyone except the rabbit monster on the girl's head was ignoring him Voldemort began to swear profusely. Ron suddenly knew why Voldemort was the most feared dark wizard of all time. Only the most evil being in all creation could use language so foul.

"Hey, there's a lady present!" Ron yelled and drawing his wand cursed the foul evil the world had ever known with the same spell his mother had used on him every time she caught him swearing.

Harry and Hermione continued to argue, oblivious to the dark lord gagging at the taste of the lifebouy soap bubbling out of his mouth. They didn't seem to notice until the soap bubbling out of Voldemort's mouth had filled the chamber up to their ankles with soapy water and Voldemort lie face down in it. Apparently Mrs. Weasley's curse reacted to how foul your language was using more soap to clean the dirtier mouth. Who knew it would spell doom for the dark lord?

They walked back through the various traps sedately, their wet sneakers squeaking. They took brooms from the room with Flitwick's flying keys and flew over the devil's snare, which was now burned black. Hermione insisted she must have forgotten to put out her magical fire before they left on the way in.

When they got to Fluffy's corridor the giant three-headed dog just wimpered in a corner for some reason Hermione couldn't understand. They left the brooms just outside the door and walked back toward their common room, their adventure finally over.

Hermione was rubbing little Ryo between her ears as they walked through the entrance hall when the headmaster stormed into the castle. "What is that?" Professor Dumbledore demanded, staring at the terrible creature in Hermione's arms

"She's a cabbit," Hermione said defensively when Professor Dumbledore pointed his wand at Ryo.

"Don't eat the headmaster's wand, it's not a carrot," Hermione gently scolded her new pet after it had taken a couple of bites out of Dumbledor's wand.


Author's Note:

Thank you for reading my story. Most Importantly I intend to rite the sequels starting with Book II tentatively titled the Chamber's Secrets. Though, I will probably post the chapters serially as opposed to all at the same time as I did this one.

I quoted from the books extensively and without annotation just as I said I would. I however fear I may have done too much. Anyone that wishes to express their opinions about that and how tightly I followed the story, please do. As I mentioned the story will get progressively farther from the story with the most important change being the end of the next book. I will try not to take so much dialog from the original story next time.

If this story was too close to the original to be enjoyable, please let me know. I will be trying to diverge more next book and I hope to be able to add even more comedy, particularly with Yajorobi and Lockhart. I hope you will find it compelling enough to read, but if not as I said Book III will be the major turning point and I will start it with a Preface that includes the end of Book II that you will need to understand the major differences.

I hope I don't sound egotistical, but to any returning fans of Hinata's Story, it is NOT abandoned. I will be writing both stories simultaneously. No it shouldn't slow me down significantly. I started writing this story January of 07 and in truth it helped me get out of the slump I was in and get more writing. I find switching between the two helps me keep from getting burnt out of either story and has helped me write Hinata's story faster.