Disclaimer: All characters so far except for David Mitchell, William Matthews, and anybody else that didn't appear in the Harry Potter books are the property of J.K. Rowling. I'm not her. Therefore, no cash is being made.

Description: Harry goes back after the final battle and decides to give things a shove in the direction he wants them to go. Now, this isn't a "Do-Over" fic per se, it's more of a "What the **** was that? Let's try that one again!" fic.

A/N: I feel like I owe my readers an explanation – I've been really busy between college and real life kicking me in the teeth, but that's not the only reason I haven't been writing. Aside from a massive writer's block on everything to do with Harry Potter, my girlfriend hooked me into writing a Pokemon story, of all things. I convinced her to post it on this website, and her penname is Ryelove, so she should be easy to find. Then I started writing one of my own, which can't be posted on this website because it's rather explicit. So, in between that, college, and my own independent work, I managed to get out another chapter for Murphy's Law.

This Chapter: Harry sets about undoing some of the damage that Dumbledore has done and David gets fleshed out more. In the meantime, it's time to wrap up first year.

Chapter 8

Harry drummed his fingers on the table, waiting for the inevitable.

"Something wrong, Harry?"

"I'd give it about seven seconds before I get a note from Dumbledore telling me to meet him in his office after dinner." Everyone held their breath for the next few moments until a note appeared in front of Harry's plate with a small flash of flame. "See?" He picked it up and read it aloud. "Mr. Potter, please come to my office at eight PM tonight. The gargoyle will let you in. Albus Dumbledore." He sighed and crumpled the parchment. "Well, might as well get my ducks in a row."


Harry strode up the stairs to Dumbledore's office, knocking at the door. He heard a "come in, Harry," and entered, shutting the door behind him. Don't be hostile, don't be hostile, don't be hostile…

"Thank you for coming, Harry."

Don't be hostile… "I didn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter, sir." Ah, bugger.

Fortunately, Dumbledore didn't seem to notice. "I asked you to be here tonight because I believe it is time to explain to you why you must return to your relatives during the summer."

"I guessed. There wasn't much reason you would have called me here otherwise, since I doubt you've figured out who sent you those socks."

Dumbledore looked startled. Harry celebrated silently at getting one over on the Headmaster. "That was you?"

"Well, the Weasley twins gave me a few pointers on the spells, but yes, the idea was mine."

"Well, that will be ten points to Gryffindor for superior spell work and innovation. And for giving a Headmaster a good present."

"Well, one can never have too many socks," Harry said, immediately feeling the need to wash his mouth out with soap. "Anyway, sir, you were saying?"

"Oh. Yes. Umm…lemon drop?"

"No thank you, sir. I'd like to know why you're going to try to make me go back to the Dursley's house this summer."

"It's for your own safety, Harry," Dumbledore said sagely, twinkling like mad.

"You'll have to do better than that, Professor."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, unless you can give me a good reason, I simply won't return to the Dursley's house this summer. Or any summer. Or ever."

"Harry, you must return to your relatives," Dumbledore said, starting to look slightly agitated. Harry gave himself a mental pat on the back for cracking his normally passive façade.

"No, I must eat. I must drink. I must from time to time play a practical joke on some unsuspecting sod who doesn't think they'll be targeted. There is no must concerning the Dursleys."

"Harry, as your magical guardian, I can compel you to return to your relatives."

"Well, you've got me there," Harry said, and Dumbledore seemed to relax. "Well, actually, you would have me there, if you were actually my magical guardian."

"I beg your pardon?" Dumbledore's face bore a look that seemed to say, 'how dare you question me?' Harry felt another mental probe slide off his Occlumency shields and remained impassive. Let the old man think it was a side effect of Voldemort's curse.

"You're not my guardian, Professor. The goblins told me that nobody had ever legally taken guardianship of me, and so you simply took over making the decisions in my life. People deferred to you, as you apparently believed that you were my guardian, and they believed what you said. However, you are not, have never been – and never will be – my magical guardian."

"Harry…" Dumbledore removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose, before donning them again. "When your mother sacrificed herself to save you from Lord Voldemort, she invoked ancient magic that shielded you from Voldemort's curse. That magic stays strong so long as you continue to return to the Dursley residence each summer."

"I fail to see how the two could possibly be related," Harry said, mildly surprised Dumbledore had given up that information that easily.

"They are, Harry. You'll simply have to trust me."

Harry sighed, and stood. "Professor, I'm sensing that you won't tell me this reason because you simply don't have one. And without one, I refuse to return to the Dursleys."


"And another thing," Harry went on, beginning to slowly pace the room. "If Voldemort's dead, why do I need protection? Surely, all his followers were rounded up?"

"We can never be sure," Dumbledore started. Harry cut him off.

"So why is everyone convinced that he's dead, then?" Harry shook his head. "Shoddy work, if someone assumes that. You ever hear the saying, 'no death without a body'?" He went to the door. "Good night, Headmaster."

Dumbledore waited until the boy left before sighing heavily and turning to the portraits. "Why can't that boy listen to me?"

"Simple," Phineas Black's portrait quipped, crossing his arms. "He's got some common sense."


Harry stepped off the last step at the base of the stairs leading to the Headmaster's office.

"So, how'd that go?" Harry jumped.

"Damnit, David! Enough of that! Quit sneaking up on me!"

David grinned. "Not until you learn some situational awareness. How'd it go?"

"I'm not going back to the Dursleys, that's for sure."

"Where will you go?" Hermione asked as they began walking back to the Gryffindor Tower.

"Well, I'm thinking that during the summer, I'll have a few talks with the goblins about having those properties that my parents owned warded and possibly put under the Fidelius, if we can find my mum's old notes. Since my parents died, the wards might have weakened or fallen. I think I might move around a bit, maybe check out which of the properties are nicest and which ones I'd want to hide out in." Harry gave Hermione a mischievous grin. "You never know when you'll need to go to ground after a prank gone horribly wrong."

"Too true," David mused.

"David?" Hermione asked, quirking an eyebrow. "When exactly have you needed to go to ground?"

"Erm…um…who we talking about?" David asked after a long moment. "How'd things go with Snape?"

"Oh, not well," Harry said, biting back a laugh. "He's searching for whoever sent him that soap bomb."

"Who's idea was the soap bomb anyway?" David asked.

"Mine," Harry said gloomily.

"Well, that fucking backfired, didn't it?"

"David! Language!" Hermione scowled at David.

"L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E," David rattled off, giving her a cheeky grin, "And I think that if people knew about his condition, he wouldn't get nearly as much trouble about being greasy. And if we had known, we wouldn't have done it."

"True…maybe that's the reason he's so rude," Hermione said, deep in thought.

David shook his head. "I doubt it."


"Well, I've met too many people who claimed to be rude for some reason or another. I came to the conclusion that many people are simply dicks."

"David!" Hermione said.

"Alright! They're just jerks. Happy?" David exhaled sharply through his nose. "My mother doesn't harass me about my language as much as you do!" Hermione stuck her tongue out at him.

"David, there's something I've been meaning to ask you," Hermione began.

"Twelve inches," David replied automatically.

"Erm…what?" The bushy-haired brunette bookworm asked, turning slightly pink.

"My wand," David said, as if it was obvious. "Twelve inches long, oak, core of dead babies. Sometimes I swap out the core for dragon heartstring. What did you think I was talking about?"

Harry snorted, while Hermione blushed. "Erm…nothing. That wasn't what I was going to ask you about, though."

"Well then, what were you going to ask me about?"

"Don't take this the wrong way, but what's an American doing in a British school?"

"In a nutshell? American schools blo-" he paused a moment looking pointedly at Hermione, "American schools are terrible. Ever since what-his-name took office back in 1992, the school systems haven't been able to do anything right."

"Weren't American Presidential elections around then held in 1989 and 1993?" Hermione asked.

"Yes, the Muggle ones. Magical American Presidential elections are held every four years, but there's no term limits and they're offset by two years from the Muggle ones, so things don't get mixed up. Last bit of common sense that Americans showed, in my opinion," David replied. He scratched his chin. "And as an American, I seem to have a unique perspective on the matter, don't'cha think?" Harry and Hermione sniggered. "Seriously, though, American schools haven't quite been the same. So when it turned out I was magical – my older brother isn't a wizard – my parents figured it was wiser to send me here instead of any of the schools in America."

"Why Hogwarts, though?" Harry asked, scratching his head. He'd actually been wondering this himself, since he knew David hadn't been there the first time around.

"Well, it's the best – and only – magical school in Britain. Australia was farther away, and I don't speak any foreign language well enough to go to a school that doesn't speak English."

"At any rate," Harry said, "I'm glad you're here. Who knows how things would have ended up had we not become friends." I do, and it was a crappy experience all around.


Harry was sitting in front of the fire later that night reading a book, when he felt a mental itch at the back of his mind.

"What did I forget…" he murmured, staring into the fire. A log crackled, sending up a tongue of flame, and Harry's eyes bugged out. "Oh, bollocks…"


"Oh dear," David said, looking at the baby dragon on the table.

"Hagrid," Hermione began desperately, "this thing-"

"His name's Norbert," Hagrid said stubbornly.

"Fine, Norbert. Norbert here could easily burn down your house."

"Nah, he won't," Hagrid chuckled as the baby dragon hiccupped sparks across his tea set. "Just needs a bi' o' raisin', is all."

"Hagrid, with a bit of raising," David said, keeping his distance, "Norbert over there will be big enough to eat most of the students. And while we might know that he won't, they might not." The boy pressed himself farther into the wall, trying to put more distance between him and the living flamethrower.

"Hagrid, you've got to get rid of it," Hermione pleaded.

"Him," Hagrid insisted.

"Him!" Hermione threw up her hands and giving a choked cry of frustration.

"We might not have to get rid of the dragon," Harry said. The entire time, he had been sitting in the corner, silently watching the proceedings.

"What are you talking about, Harry?" David asked incredulously.

"Well, I see two options. We either try to smuggle baby Norbert out of here, risking getting caught and breaking Hagrid's heart in the process, or…" Harry stroked his chin, silently cursing his prepubescent lack of facial hair. "We make Norbert here legitimate."

"Come again? Legitimate?" David asked. "How?"

"We make him no longer a secret and make it seem like he's supposed to be here," Harry said cryptically.

"But to do that, we'd need to…" Hermione trailed off and stared at Harry. "You're joking."

"Nope," Harry said. "We go to Dumbledore."

"Well, yeh best do it fast," Hagrid said darkly.

"Why?" Hermione asked. In response, Hagrid pointed, and they saw a flash of blond hair disappearing from the window.

"Oh, hell," Harry groaned. "Malfoy. Now it's a bloody race."


The trio dashed along the halls of Hogwarts, hoping to get to Dumbledore's office before Malfoy made it to Snape's. It was slow going – David kept tripping, having to run in a low crouch to keep from hoisting the Invisibility Cloak too high over the other two. They made a turn on the fifth floor, and David stumbled again, falling and cracking his head against the stone plinth a suit of armor stood on.

"Crap," Harry swore, flipping his friend onto his back. David stared at him, blinking hard and clutching his nose, a trickle of blood seeping out between his fingers. The boy tried to stand, but crumpled immediately. The sound of footsteps echoed down the hall, and Hermione looked out from under the Cloak, fear clear on her face. Harry wordlessly pointed at a door nearby, and Hermione ran through it, Harry dragging David through as Hermione quietly closed it.

"Help me," Harry grunted, struggling under the weight of the older boy. Hermione grabbed David's other arm and the two dragged their friend over to a corner, Harry grabbing the cloak and holding it up in front of them just as Filch opened the door.

The caretaker swept his lantern around the room, sweeping it over the trio. Harry closed his eyes and swallowed quietly, praying that Filch wouldn't see the tips of his fingers holding up the cloak.

Filch continued to look around the room, thankfully not moving from the door. Harry could hear his heart pounding in his ears, so loud that he was positive Filch could hear it.

Finally, the caretaker gave a disgruntled 'hmph' and closed the door, moving on down the hall. They could hear him grumbling to himself, as if he was upset that he hadn't caught anyone.

"Harry…" Hermione whispered.

"One second," Harry replied, examining David's head. Quickly, he healed the boy's nose, before Vanishing the bloody mess on his face and hands with a few quick spells.

"Thanks," David muttered, prodding his nose.

"Now, what's wrong, Hermione?" Harry asked, turning around.

"What is this thing?" Hermione asked, looking at the Mirror of Erised.

"Well, just a shot in the dark," David said, standing up and weaving slightly, "but I'd say a mirror." In the dark, both of them missed Harry's wince. He'd really intended to not encounter the Mirror at all this time around. He remembered how long he'd spent gazing wistfully at the images of his family.

"Thanks, David," Hermione said dryly. "I don't know what we'd do without you."

"Die, probably," David replied, walking over to the Mirror. "Is it just me, or are the words on the top backwards?"

"I show not your face but your hearts desire," Hermione read off. "Is that the most mysterious way they could say it?"

"I guess so," Harry said, almost afraid to look in the Mirror. "Why put that up there, though?"

Hermione looked in the Mirror and started. Spinning around, she looked behind her wildly, before turning back to the Mirror. "Guys?"


"Step over here a minute?" Hermione said shakily. The two stepped next to her. "Do you see me with lots of books?"

"No…" Harry said, staring at the Mirror. He saw himself as he was before his jump back, with Voldemort dead at his feet. Around him, he could see his friends, alive. In the background, Harry was sure he could see his family. "I see my family," the Boy-Who-Lived went on, choosing his words carefully. "I don't know why, but I do."

"David?" Hermione asked. "What do you see?" David didn't answer.

"This mirror shows what we truly desire," Harry said quietly.

"Interesting," Hermione said, reaching out and touching the Mirror.

"Guys?" David said. "I realize this is pretty damn interesting, but…"

"That's right!" Hermione yelped. "Hagrid! Let's go!"

"Back under the Cloak," Harry urged.

"Forget it," David replied, pointing his wand at his shoes. "Silencio. I'll stick to the shadows. Now, let's go!"


They finally reached Dumbledore's office, and Harry spoke to the gargoyle.

"Excuse me, but would you mind telling Professor Dumbledore that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and David Mitchell would like to see him?" The gargoyle stared at him for a moment, and Harry felt a bead of sweat trickle down his neck.

Finally, the gargoyle stepped to one side, and they hurried up the stairs. Harry knocked on the door, and they heard Dumbledore call "Come in, Harry." The three entered the office. "Is there something I can do for you, Harry? It is rather late." The Headmaster of Hogwarts was sipping at a cup of tea and working on some paperwork.

"Sir, we don't have much time," Harry spoke quickly. "Hagrid's got a baby dragon."

Dumbledore set down his quill and massaged his forehead. "Oh dear."

"Yeah, that's what I said," David muttered. Hermione elbowed him in the ribs.

"Anyway," Harry continued, "obviously, the dragon can't stay in his hut. That's a forest fire waiting to happen."

"What do you suggest?"

"Well, we came up with two options," Harry said. "We could either smuggle Norbert – the dragon – out of Hogwarts, possibly getting caught in the process, or we could make the dragon a part of the school."

"I see," Dumbledore murmured. "Why?"

"Why what?" Harry asked.

"Why should we make the dragon a part of the school?" Dumbledore asked. "I'm not rejecting your idea, merely questioning your reasoning."

"Well, as it is, Malfoy spotted the dragon in Hagrid's hut and is probably bringing Professor Snape here as we speak. Snape will-"

"Professor Snape," Dumbledore corrected.

"Right," Harry said dismissively. "Professor Snape will probably insist that you sack Hagrid for bringing such a dangerous creature in here."

"I wouldn't," Dumbledore said flatly.

"I know that you wouldn't," Harry said. "But it could cause trouble if he raised a stink about it. So, if we smuggled the dragon out, we run the risk of being caught and having to go through a lot of trouble to get it out and to find someplace to send it. But if we make the dragon, say, a protector of the school, a guardian of sorts, we not only avoid all that trouble-"

"But Hagrid is less likely to get something more dangerous," Dumbledore finished.

"Right," Harry continued. "Give the man a pet. Granted, a fire-breathing pet that'll be flying soon and will eat Hagrid's weight in raw meat, but a pet. All things considered, a dragon's probably better than a chimera or a nundu." And a hell of a lot better than a Blast-Ended Skrewt.

"I see," Dumbledore repeated, steepling his fingers.

"You don't even have to decide right now," Harry said desperately. "But when Professor Snape comes in here in a few moments, please, just tell him you knew about the dragon and that we've been working with him and you on this project." As Harry finished, there was a knock at the door, and the color drained from Hermione's face.

Wordlessly, Dumbledore pointed at the corner by Fawkes' perch, and the three quickly got under the Invisibility Cloak. David crouched, the hem of the cloak covering the tips of his trainers as he did.

"Come in," Dumbledore called as soon as they were safely invisible.

"Albus," Snape snarled as he entered the room, practically livid. "I hope you do realize what Hagrid has done now?" The younger man was far less red, having apparently soothed the irritation of his skin, and his usual level of greasiness was restored.

"Would you care to explain, Severus?" the Headmaster asked serenely.

"The oaf has a bloody dragon in his hut!" Snape snapped. "Not only that, but those three miscreants – Granger, Mitchell, and that arrogant snot Potter – are constantly out after hours, helping him raise it under your nose!"

"I know, Severus," Dumbledore said.

Snape apparently didn't hear him. "I want him sacked, and those three expelled immediately!"

"Severus," Dumbledore said, trying to get his Potion Master's attention.

"Unbelievable, that that bloody idiot would be stupid enough to bring a dragon into this school, and then have the gall to get those three brats to help him…"

"Severus," Dumbledore repeated.

"That arrogant child thinks he can deceive me! Well, he's wrong!"

"Severus," Dumbledore said once more, his tone beginning to grow more insistent.

"I'll have that punk out of this school by morning! He's just like his father, thinking he can break the rules whenever he –what do you mean, you know?" Harry bit down on the skin between his thumb and index finger, trying to keep from bursting out laughing at the look on Snape's face.

"I've known all along that Hagrid has a dragon," Dumbledore said. "I approved his getting it. I also approved Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Potter, and Ms. Granger working on the project with him."

"Why on earth would you bring a dragon into a school full of children, Albus?" Snape asked incredulously.

"Severus, you know as well as I do that the Dark is growing more powerful. We lost valuable allies in the last war. The Ministry is growing complacent. And I am no longer at my prime. He'd have three of his greatest targets in one place – you, who is now publicly known to have operated as a spy; myself, of course; and his greatest target of all."

"Potter," Snape spat.

Dumbledore nodded. "Your animosity towards young Harry's late father aside, the Dark Lord has a reason we both know of to go after him. If Voldemort were to hit Hogwarts with even a fraction of his former strength, we'd fold like wet parchment. Even without the werewolves, giants, and Dementors on his side as he had last time, there would be terrible loss of life."

"So the dragon is going to be…a guardian?" Snape asked, his mouth slightly open. Dumbledore nodded again. "Unbelievable. Albus, that's amazing. How on earth did you get your hands on a dragon?"

"Why don't we talk about it over lunch tomorrow?" Albus suggested. "It is rather late tonight, and the story is rather fascinating." Snape nodded, and stood to leave. "Oh, and Severus?"

"Hm?" Snape turned, his hand on the doorknob.

"I do expect Mr. Malfoy to be punished for being out of bed after hours," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling over his spectacles.

"I see," Snape replied quietly, leaving.

Dumbledore waited a moment, sipping idly at his tea. "You three still there?"

Harry pulled the Cloak off them. "Yes, Professor."

"Five points to Gryffindor, for daring and courage under stress," Dumbledore sipped his tea. "Maybe you three should have been in Hufflepuff. You do have extraordinary loyalty to Hagrid."

"Thank you, sir," Hermione said proudly.

"You can take five points too, sir," Harry joked, "for a masterful performance as Headmaster."

"That did go rather well, didn't it," Dumbledore mused thoughtfully.

"It did," Hermione said. "Anything else, sir?"

"What exactly were you three doing out that late?" Dumbledore asked.

"Seeing Hagrid," Harry said truthfully. Then he began to tell half-truths. "We didn't expect to come across the dragon and had to think about what to do. It got late, and by the time we decided to come to you, it was dark. Then it became a race when Malfoy decided he'd spy on us to try to get us in trouble, and we had to hurry up here."

Dumbledore nodded, accepting the story. "I see."

"Anything else, sir?" Harry asked as Hermione yawned widely.

"How'd he get the dragon egg?" Dumbledore asked.

"Um…well…er…" Harry stared at him a moment. "Who we talking about?"

Dumbledore gave him a knowing smile and pointed to the door. "Good night, you three."

"Goodnight, Professor," they echoed.

"Stay out of trouble!" He called as they exited the room.

"You know us," Harry called back over his shoulder.

"That's what worries me," Dumbledore muttered to himself, sipping his tea.


"So, Hagrid," Harry said, draining the last of his tea from the gallon-sized mug and hoping his bladder didn't explode, "we went to Dumbledore and told him the situation, and he's considering letting you keep Norbert." Hagrid whooped and pulled Harry into a hug, and Harry groaned as he felt his ribs creak. "Hagrid…air…need oxygen…" The gamekeeper set Harry down, and the Boy-Who-Lived took a deep breath, feeling his lungs re-inflate. "No guarantees yet, but we'll see. From what he told Snape, he's actually seriously considering it."

"Good," Hagrid said. "This place could do with a bit o' livenin' up."

"Speaking of livening up, Hagrid," David said curiously, "What's in the third-floor corridor?"

"I don't know," Hagrid said, speaking too quickly.

"Yes you do," Harry said, fighting a smile.

"Well, I do, but whatever's in there, it's safe behind Fluffy," Hagrid said confidently.

"Who's Fluffy?" Hermione asked.

"Er…I shouldn't have said that," Hagrid replied.

"But you did," Harry said, tugging at his sleeve. It was like trying to drag a circus tent. "Who's Fluffy?"

"Oh, fine…" Hagrid acquiesced. "He's m'dog."

"I thought Fang was your dog?"

"Just because there's only one man doesn't mean 'e can only have one dog," Hagrid shot back.

"True," Harry replied. "But what's he guarding?"

"I'm tellin' yeh, there's no need ter worry 'bout it," Hagrid said. "The Stone's perfectly safe."

"Stone?" Harry latched onto the word, feeling a rush of victory.



"Stone…stone…" Harry mumbled, flipping through various books. One had to keep up appearances, after all. It would be so much easier to just tell them, but that would lead to pressing questions that he wasn't quite ready to answer. "Any luck?"

"Nada," David said, closing his book. "I know of one, but it's supposed to be a myth."

"That's what I thought about magic, until about nine months ago," Harry said. "Spill it."

"Okay. Sparing you the fairy tale, there's supposed to be this artifact called the Resurrection Stone. Apparently, it can bring people back from the dead. However, it's never been found, and many people doubt it even exists."

"That's…interesting," Hermione said, setting a heavy book that Harry vaguely recognized down on the table. "But I have a better idea."

"Do tell," David said. "My idea was a bit on the ridiculous side."

"The Philosopher's Stone," Hermione said. "It not only can produce the Elixir of Life, which can extend your life without limits…"

"But it can also transmute any metal into gold," David finished. "Alchemists have been trying to figure it out for centuries, some even say millennia. However, the man that created one recently – well, relatively recently – was…what was his name…Faldwell? Flamel?"

"That's right, Nicolas Flamel," Hermione said. "You know your history."

"I know my treasure," David corrected. "Flamel's British, I know that."

"If I remember correctly," Harry recalled, "Flamel worked with Dumbledore. Not on the Philosopher's Stone, but they've worked together."

"How do you know that?" David asked

Harry fished in his pocket and pulled out a Chocolate Frog Card. "Says so on Dumbledore's card."

David quickly scanned the card's text. "Son of a gun. So it does. Dumbledore is particularly famous for a whole lot of bullcrap, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel."

"We need more information about this Stone, why it's here, what's guarding it," Harry said, suppressing a smile at David's summation of Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog card.

"Where do we go for that information?" Hermione asked. "We can't just ask Dumbledore. Or McGonagall. Or any of the rest of the staff. They'd go batty."

"Wait, wait," David said. "Let me guess. It starts with an H, and ends with a D."

"That's right," Harry said. "Put it all together, and it spells Hagrid."


"I'm not telling you any more than I already have," Hagrid said gruffly, only partially opening the door.

"Hagrid, it's alright, don't worry," Harry said.

"I'm not tellin' yeh anything more'n I already have!"

"You won't get in trouble!"

"No more!" Hagrid barked. After delivering this line, he began to shut the door. Harry slid his foot into the gap, and stepped on his own heel, leaving the shoe behind and bracing the heavy oak door open. If Hagrid didn't notice his foot there, they'd be calling him "Stumpy" for the rest of his Hogwarts career.

"We know about the Stone!" Harry said, loudly. "We know why it's here!" They heard Hagrid sigh, before he opened the door again.

"Alright, alright. Yeh best come in."


"But why bring the Stone here?" Harry asked. "Wouldn't wherever this Flamel character had it be safer than here?"

"Obviously not," Hermione said quietly. "I mean, if he moved it, he had to have had a reason for it, right?" Harry shrugged. "I mean, there's no place safer than Hogwarts."

"I can think of a few places," Harry muttered. "A safe deposit box in Geneva, maybe. Or the Moon. Neither of those places has inquisitive children or trolls running around, last time I checked."

"Having flashbacks?" David asked, managing a straight face.

"Got some serious post-traumatic stress disorder here," Harry let out an over-the-top sigh. "It's not every day a boy my age has to go into a girls' bathroom."

"That reminds me," David said, turning to Hermione. "Do all girls' bathrooms come standard with trolls?"

"Focus, boys," Hermione was obviously fighting a smile. "Now, who would want to steal the Stone?"

Harry stared at her. "Well, I think we can safely establish that Dumbledore isn't entirely convinced that Voldemort is dead." Hagrid cringed, but Harry ignored it. "Remember, he told me when he tried to convince me to go back to the Dursleys."

"I see," Hermione said slowly. "You figure he could be trying to get his hands on it?"

"Well, the man obviously didn't want to die, if he was willing to off a kid over it," David replied. "It's a safe bet that if he knew where it would be, he'd make a play for it."

"But how would he know it was here?" Harry asked, knowing the answer.

"Well, it's possible he has someone on the inside," David reasoned.

"Impossible!" Hagrid said. "Nobody at Hogwarts'd turn against Dumbledore."

"Hagrid, we can't rule out any possibilities," Harry said sadly. "I mean, people thought…" he paused and grimaced, "You-Know-Who, was dead, but Dumbledore obviously thinks otherwise. So it's possible that he still has people in Wizarding society."

Hagrid sighed. "Fine. But why does that have ter mean that the Stone's here?"

"Hagrid," Harry looked at him pointedly. "I was there when you emptied vault 713." Hagrid stammered for a moment.

"If Dumbledore is involved, it'll end up at Hogwarts eventually," Hermione added.

"So what do we do?" David asked. "What's the move?"

"Take it to Dumbledore," Harry said. "Maybe we can convince him to move it, if we hit him with our evidence."

"You really think you can talk him into moving it?" Hermione asked.

"I didn't say talk to him about our evidence," Harry said.

"Law of Physical Physics Applied?" David asked. Harry nodded.

"Law of What?" Hermione asked, curious.

"Law of Physical Physics Applied. Hit the sucker and see what happens," Harry said. "Like I said, I didn't say talk to him about our evidence." Hefting the heavy tome Hermione had set down, Harry judged the weight and nodded approvingly. "I said hit him with it."


"He's gone?" Harry echoed.

"Professor Dumbledore is a very great wizard, Potter, he has many demands on his time – "

"But this is important!"

"Something you have to say is more important than the Ministry of Magic, Potter?"

"Look," said Harry, throwing caution to the winds, "Professor — it's about the Philosopher's Stone —"

Whatever Professor McGonagall had expected, it wasn't that. The books she was carrying tumbled out of her arms, but she didn't pick them up.

"How do you know —?" she spluttered.

"Professor, I think that someone's going to try and steal the Stone. I've got to talk to Professor Dumbledore."

She eyed him with a mixture of shock and suspicion.

"Professor Dumbledore will be back tomorrow," she said finally. "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."

"Just like nobody could possibly survive a Killing Curse, right?" Harry shot back.

"Watch your tone, Mr. Potter!"

Harry growled and stormed off, Hermione and David apologizing and then following close behind.

"So, now what?" David asked as Harry finally stopped.

Harry took a slow breath. "We have to go in ourselves."

Hermione looked shocked. "But McGonagall said there was no way it could be stolen!"

Harry glared at her. "You mind if I think for myself?" Hermione looked hurt, and David frowned as he went on. "Look, Hermione, I'm sorry if I don't absolutely trust the teachers like you do. I don't have a whole hell of a lot of faith in humanity."

"Harry…I'm sorry…" As tears began to well up in Hermione's eyes, Harry realized his mistake.

"It's okay, Hermione," Harry said quietly. "I'm sorry I upset you."

"It's…it's alright, Harry," Hermione replied, wiping her eyes. "Why are you so sure he's going after it?"

"Call it a hunch," Harry replied, frustration clear on his face. Hermione and David thought it was from dealing with McGonagall, but Harry's tension this time stemmed from debating how much he could tell his friends. "Look, remember that article in the Prophet about the Gringotts robbery?" Hermione nodded. Harry quickly filled them in on the events of that day, focusing on the vault containing the small package that Hagrid had taken. "The only thing I could think of that would need to be 'safer at Hogwarts' is the Stone," Harry finished.

"I see," David said. "As little sense as that makes, it makes perfect sense."

Harry stared at him for a moment. "Right," the Boy-Who-Lived confirmed slowly.

"Well, then. What do we do?" Hermione asked.

Harry pushed the heel of his palm against his scar, feeling it prickle. "I'm not sure. One thing's for certain, though. We're going to have to deal with whatever protection the teachers have put on it."

"Well, we could ask," David said.

"Ask who?" Harry demanded scornfully. "McGonagall? She wasn't too thrilled that we even knew about it."

David sighed. "Look, Harry. There's a lot that you don't know about this place. Come with me."


Harry sat down, stunned. "I'm surprised I didn't notice this before," he murmured.

"What?" David asked, confused.

Harry shook his head. "Nothing." Mentally, he berated himself for almost giving away too much. "We need to gear up. Going to need some special tools for these."

"Well then," David said, scanning the list. "There's only one place to go."

Hermione blinked, looking between the two. Neither of them said anything, waiting as Hermione's blood pressure slowly rose. "You mind letting me in on the joke?" She finally snapped.

"The Gruesome Twosome," Harry said with a grin.


"Harry, Harry, Harry," Fred and/or George said, fiddling with a swatch of a strange, shiny material. "What can we do for you?"

"Some more of those remote-detonated fireworks, maybe?" George and/or Fred added, removing a jeweler's loop from his eye. "Those were a big hit."

"No, we've got something else in mind," Harry said, setting the list down on the table. "Can you do this?" As Fred and/or George looked at the list, Hermione tried to examine the material they had been working on. It wasn't easy, considering one of the twins was sitting on it.

"I find that question highly insulting," one of the redheads sniffed.

"Sorry, chum, should have known," Harry snickered. "How long?"

"I don't know," the second twin said. "This is a big job."

"Guys," David said. "This is kinda important."

"In that case, two hours," the second twin said, rolling up the list and looking at Hermione. "Can I help you with something, Granger?"

"Yeah," the brunette growled, tugging on the fabric. "What is this stuff?"

"Oh, that?" He replied, standing up. Hermione stumbled back, the material in her hands. "New project. Its material that stretches to several times its own size but that can retain its shape. Watch." Each twin took a firm grip on one end of the fabric and stepped back slowly, stretching the material out. "It gets harder after a certain amount of stretching," one of the twins called from across the room, "but it breathes well." Letting go, the material quickly zipped back to its original size.

Harry leaned over to David. "Is it just me, or did they just reinvent spandex?" The older boy shrugged.

"Well, we'll leave you to your work, boys," Harry said, dragging Hermione out of the room as David shut the door to the twins' workshop behind them.

"Think they're going to blow themselves up someday?" David muttered.

"Only question is how many people they'll take out in the explosion," Harry replied.


"Harry?" Harry looked up from the book he wasn't reading to spot Neville. "Got a moment?"

"Sure," Harry said, closing the book. He hadn't been able to read anyway. His stomach was churning, and it was a constant struggle to keep his hands from shaking. "What's on your mind, Nev?"

"What are you planning?" The boy said bluntly.



Harry surreptitiously glanced around. "Not the place, Neville. Come with me."

Within a minute, they were relatively safe in the first-years dormitory. "Alright. First off, how do you know?"

"It wasn't difficult," Neville said. "You sit there looking at the same page for two hours, David's polishing his wand – which he only does when he's nervous – and Hermione's a twitchy wreck. Something's up. Since none of you look sick, I'm assuming that you're planning instead of reacting to something. What's going on?"

Harry was silent for a moment. Again, he had underestimated the blonde boy. It was going to be a little more difficult to do so now – the boy had put on at least ten kilos since the start of the year, all of it muscle. The more noticeable difference was in his stature – whatever David had been doing to him to build his confidence, it was working.

Neville went on, taking Harry's contemplative silence for hesitation. "I'm not going to stop you. I want in."

That surprised him. "Really? Why? You don't even know what it is yet."

Neville sighed. "You guys were the first to take me seriously. The first to give me a chance. If you'll have me, I'd like to help out."

Harry thought for a moment, weighing the options. "Alright." In a few brief sentences, he spelled out the situation. Neville turned increasingly green, until Harry was sure he could have held the Slytherin colors up to the boy's face and had them match. "Still want to come?" Neville stared for a moment. "Nobody would blame you if you didn't want to." Neville shook for a moment, before steadying himself and nodding. "Alright then. Be down in the common room at midnight."


"Harry," George said, carrying a rucksack. "Here's the stuff you asked for."

"Oh good," Harry said, lifting the flap and peeking inside, before nodding affirmatively. "This'll do nicely. Thanks, mate."

"Harry," George said uncertainly. "That's some pretty powerful stuff you asked for. It's probably none of my business, but…if you need help, you know you can come to Fred and me for anything, right?"

Harry nodded with a grin. "Yeah, I know, George. Thanks, but this is something that we have to take care of on our own. Next time we have something like this come up, I'll give you guys a call, alright?"

George shuffled his feet for a moment. "Well, if you really need us, call us."

Harry sniggered. "Alright."

"Well, I'll see you around, Harry."

"Oh, George! Wait!" Harry pulled a small bag from his pocket, tossing it to George. "For parts and labor."

George hefted the bag, hearing the clink of metal. Undoing the tie, he looked inside, only for the bag to explode in his face, covering his head in flour.

"My, my, George," Harry tutted. "You might want to get that dandruff problem looked at."

George stared at him for a moment, before bursting out in laughter. "Alright, that was a good one."

Harry tossed him another bag, this from the other pocket. "This one's not rigged."

Again, the Weasley opened the bag, this time keep it at arm's length. His eyes widened. "Harry, there must be twenty Galleons in here!"


"So it's too bloody much, Harry!" He tried to push it back into Harry's hands, but it stuck to his palms.

"Tch, George," Harry said. "You should wash your hands after doing that. I'm definitely not taking that bag back now!"

"Harry, this isn't funny! You put a Sticking Charm on this!"

"That's right," Harry said. "And you'll never be able to get it off your hands unless you accept the money."

"Fine," George sighed.

Harry looked at him. "You realize that's twice I've pranked you in less than five minutes."

"Yes," George replied sullenly.

"Three times," Harry continued, never one to pass up playing 'poke the bear', "if you count my forcing you to take this money."

"Harry, you're pushing your luck."

"Just make sure the money goes to good use," Harry said. "And by good use I mean things that go boom." With that, the Boy-Who-Lived made a quick exit.


"Alright. We ready to go?" Harry whispered as Lee Jordan finally left.

"Almost," David said. "Suggestion?" Harry looked at him questioningly. "Before we head out, probably a good idea to drain the tank."

Harry blinked. "Better now than in the middle of it, right?"

"I'd probably better go too," Neville said.

Within a minute, Neville and Harry were standing at urinals.

"So…" Neville said. "Be awful strange if someone walked in right now."

"Yeah," Harry replied. "Two first-years, dressed all in black, revved up and ready for combat? That'd raise a few odd questions."

"You really think there's going to be combat?" Neville asked quietly.

Harry shrugged. "I'd rather expect it and be pleasantly surprised than not expect it and be caught unawares."

"I'd rather it didn't have to be either way," Neville mumbled.

"Such is not to be," Harry said, performing the shake and zipping up.

"Why us, though?" Neville asked. "Aren't there any seventh-years who could back us up on this?"

"Nev, if you were a seventh-year, would you take a trio of jumped-up Firsties and a third-year seriously?" Neville pondered that for a moment and shook his head. "That's what I thought. As for why us in particular…well, ours is not to wonder why, but I do so anyway. And really, would you trust anyone else to do this? Would you wish it on anyone else?"

"No," Neville said.

"That's what makes you a Gryffindor, Neville," Harry went on. "You're unwilling to put others through things you wouldn't do yourself. You're brave enough and strong enough to take on the challenges that we're going to face without faltering." Harry thought silently for a moment about how different this Neville was from the usually meek boy Hermione had had to put under a Full-Body Bind the first time this had happened.

Well, mucking up the timeline is what he came for, so if Neville became stronger because of it, so be it.

Five minutes later, the four were assembled again. "Alright. Now are we ready?"

"Not quite," David said, a bit of mirth in his voice.

"What now?" Neville asked.

"Since I don't feel like breaking my nose again," David said, tapping his shoes and whispering a quiet spell, "I'm going to try something out. I really hope it works."

"Breaking his nose?" Neville asked, looking to Harry.

"Don't ask," Harry said with a lopsided grin.

He pointed his wand at his chest and incanted, his eyes tightly shut. The others watched as color flowed across his body, until he matched the wall behind him.

"Is that a Bedazzling Hex?" Hermione asked.

"Yeah," David's voice came from the space where he used to be. "Is it working?" Harry tilted his head. He could see the outline of his friend, and could spot the slight distortion when he moved, but for someone who wasn't looking, he was as good as invisible.

"Not as good as an Invisibility Cloak," Harry said, pulling the item in question out, "but it'll do in a pinch."

"You have an Invisibility Cloak?" Neville asked, amazed.

"Was my dad's," Harry mumbled, throwing it over the three of them.

"Question, though," Hermione said as they moved out. "What happens if someone shines a light on us? Will we cast shadows?"

They stopped short.

"One in every crowd," Harry grumbled.


The three stopped short, and Harry fought the urge to curse out loud.

Sitting in front of the entrance to the corridor that led to Fluffy's chamber was Mrs. Norris, as if she had been expecting them.

Now what?Harry thought frantically. Can't stun her. Filch would…have kittens. Can't scare her away. He felt a puff of air against the cloak, and a light tap on his mental shields. Harry took a hold of the link, and heard David's voice.

I'm going to go make a noise nearby, and get her away from the door. Got it?

Got it. Make it big, but don't get caught.

Will do.

Less than a minute later, there was a series of crashes as a dozen suits of armor jumped off their plinths and started to move. Listening to the noise, Harry detected a faint rhythm as they hauled the door open.

"What was that?" Hermione gasped, letting a breath whoosh out. Harry released a breath of his own that he hadn't realized he'd been holding.

"David," he replied, as the door shut quietly.

"Yeah, that was me," the boy confirmed, still camouflaged. "Every suit of armor for two corridors is doing an Irish jig."

"Nice," Neville said. "One day they'll probably make some big production out of that."

Harry fought back a smile. Maybe I can get the trademark to Riverdance…


"That's a big dog," Neville said, staring at Fluffy. The dog was asleep, courtesy of the harp playing in the corner.

"I'd hate to see how they clean up after him," David said, canceling the Bedazzling Hex and circling around the massive canine. "There's no door back here, just more dog."

"That leaves either a concealed door or a hole in the floor," Hermione said.

"If it's concealed, we're out of luck," Harry said. "I wonder…"

"What?" Hermione asked. The harp stopped playing, and she paled.

"Neville, Hermione! Over here, now!" Harry hissed. The three first-years scurried in front of the three-headed dog as the heads began to wake up, hiding under the cloak. "When he rolls over, follow my lead! David, once we get him out of the way, see if there's a trapdoor and if you can get it open!"

"Gotcha," the American said, as the dog stood up, growling as its heads detected the scents of intruders.

Harry braced himself, before whipping the cloak off the three of them. "Who's a good boy?" He cooed, placing both hands on his knees. "You! Yes you are!" The dog hesitated, obviously confused. "Guys, help!"

Hermione snapped out of her shock first. "Who's a pretty puppy! Who's the cutest little doggie in all of Hogwarts?" Lowering her voice, she muttered, "I'm a cat person, but I'll go with this."

Neville quickly followed. "D'aww, such a cute guy, all fuzzy and…and…and fuzzy, and three-headed."

"Speak, boy!" Harry urged. "Speak!" The heads barked and howled, and Harry winced for a moment. "Good boy!" The dog leaned forward, its rear in the air and barked again, and Harry grimaced as his eardrums nearly ruptured. "Roll over, boy!" The dog threw itself to one side with a crash, exposing the trapdoor. "Good boy! David, go!" As David hauled open the trapdoor, Harry ran over, scratching the dog's belly. "Good boy! Guys, through the trapdoor!"

"Geronimo!" David shouted, hopping through.

"Navajo!" Hermione countered, following him down.

"Is this a Muggle thing?" Neville asked as he jumped.

"Good boy!" Harry continued, slowly backing away. "Now play dead!" The dog stiffened up, tongues lolling out of the side of its mouths. Harry backed up, before jumping through the trapdoor and landing on the squishy object he knew would be there.

"Harry?" David asked. "Two questions."


"First, how the hell did you know that would work?"

"I figured Hagrid would have given him some sort of obedience training," Harry replied, shifting.

"Okay. And my second question. Why can't I move?"

"Lumos!" Harry's wand lit, exposing the plant. "Shite."

"Harry…" Hermione was struggling. "What is this?"


"Devil's Snare," Neville said, lifting up his hand and watching as the vines wrapped around it. "Beautiful."

"That's nice and all, but how do we kill it?" David asked.

"You can't kill this thing!" Neville said, scandalized.

"Neville," David urged, as the plant began to wrap around his neck.

"This is a rare and endangered plant!"


"It's not right to just kill it!"


"Fire! And light!"

"Works for me," Harry grunted as a thick creeper tightened around his midsection. "Devil's Snare, meet my friend, Mr. Flamethrower. Incendio!" At his shouted incantation, a thick stream of fire issued from his wand, forcing the plant back. As the vines retreated from his arms, David threw Harry the backpack full of Fred and George's goodies, and Harry reached in one-handed, bringing out a small glass globe as he continued to flame the plant. "Eyes shut, everyone!" He ordered, rapping on the globe with the butt of his wand to activate it, before throwing the globe against the plant and squeezing his eyes shut.

The globe detonated with a bright flash of light and a wave of heat, and the plant shook in protest, before dropping the four onto the ground.

Harry hit the ground, rolling against the wall. "Everyone okay?"

Hermione groaned as Neville helped her up. "Nothing bruised but my dignity."


"I'm alright," the boy replied, face-down on the stone floor. "Broke my fall with my face."

"Walk it off. Let's get moving." They set off, and soon they heard a rustling sound.

"What on earth is…whoa." David was the first into the room, and he spotted the bird-like keys overhead.

"Birds?" Neville asked. "McGonagall's test?"

"Not birds," Harry whispered, just as in awe this time as he had been before. "Keys."

"You need a key for the lock over here," Hermione called, checking the door. "Big, old-fashioned, and silver."

"Well, there's brooms," Harry suggested.

"Harry," Neville said quietly. "I know you're a great flyer, and David's decent on a broom, but…Hermione and I aren't that good." Hermione nodded, and Harry shrugged.

"Alright, we'll do it the other way. Diffindo!" A key dropped to the ground, one wing missing. Harry snatched it up, pressing it next to the lock for a moment, before shaking his head and tossing it into the corner. "Nope. Next! Diffindo!"

After almost ten minutes of the four of them shooting down keys and checking them, Hermione held aloft the proper key. "I got it!"

"Good! Let's get a move on!" She shoved it into the door, unlocking it, before tossing the crippled key on top of the pile of wriggling one-winged keys.

"Chess? Are you kidding me?" Hermione asked. "What, did they expect Ron to be here?"

"He's good at chess?" Neville asked.

"It's all he does when he should be doing his homework," Hermione grumbled. "He has to have gotten good at it by now."

Harry fought back a smile. "I have an idea," Harry said, walking to the pieces on the other side and whispering to the king and queen, before scurrying back to their side and doing the same.

The four pieces quickly moved to the center and conferred for a minute, before all the pieces on the board moved aside.

"What'd you do?" Hermione asked.

"Suggested they swap spouses. I always thought the conflict in chess was over someone's wife."

David gaped at him for a moment, before turning to Hermione. "Did he just-"

"Break the game, yeah," Hermione answered quietly.

"Let's go, shall we?" Harry said.


"Oh, dear god," Hermione said, retching. "What is that thing?"

"I don't know," David said. "Is that…is that another troll?"

"I don't know," Neville said. "It's a lot bigger than the last one we saw. And I think its dead. Harry?" He turned and started. "Merlin! Harry! Where's your head?"

"I've got the Cloak wrapped around my face," Harry said, his voice muffled. "You think I'm going to throw up and die, like you people?" He opened the bag again, passing around gas masks. They quickly donned them, breathing in the soothing smell of rubber and charcoal filters.

"Let's go," Hermione muttered. "Before we pass out."

They entered the next chamber, ripping the gas masks off and breathing deep.

"What's left?" David asked, shaking his head, trying to clear it. "Potions?"

"Potions," Hermione confirmed, spotting the bottles on the table in the center of the room. She quickly scanned the scroll. "It's a logic puzzle," she said, sounding mildly amused and impressed. "Most wizards don't have a bit of logic. They'd be stuck in here forever."

"What do you mean, stuck?" Neville asked. "Couldn't they just…" he turned around to see the second set of flames. "Oh. Damn."

"I got a better idea," David said. "Eenie, meenie, minie, Accio!" He flicked his wand, and a Flame-Freezing Potion flew from the bag on Harry's back. David downed it, shivering. Gritting his teeth, he stuck his hands into the flames for a moment, before giving them a thumbs-up.

"Alright, everyone, bring it in," Harry said. The four closed together. "You guys have come with me this far, but I'm giving anyone who wants to drop out the opportunity. Once we get in there, we're facing Voldemort and whoever he brought with him. I strongly recommend you guys back out now."

Harry looked at David. The boy shook his head, giving him a quiet half-smile, half-smirk. He looked to the only female of the group. Hermione shook her head stubbornly, biting her lip. Harry looked to Neville, who seemed unsure. "Neville, nobody would think less of you. We've risked our lives just to come this far."

"Thanks, Harry," Neville said gratefully. "What do you want me to do, since I'm not going in there?"

"Go to Flitwick's office. Not McGonagall's, she'll flip out again. Tell him everything. Get help." Neville nodded, shaking hands with Harry and wishing him luck, before downing a Flame-Freezing Potion and stepping through the purple flames.

"You guys sure you want to do this?" Harry asked. "I mean, we could just stay here, and make sure he doesn't leave with the Stone. We wait for Neville to come back with some serious firepower, and let them take care of it."

"I'd rather he not get it, period," David asked. "What's to say he doesn't know we're out here, and isn't thinking about using it to make himself immortal right now?"

"Thanks for that wonderful thought," Hermione muttered.

"That's what I'm here for," David deadpanned, buffing his nails on his jacket.

"Seriously, though," Harry urged. "I'd rather not put you guys in danger. Or myself."

"Harry, shut up and let's go," Hermione said flatly.

The Boy-Who-Lived gave her a crooked grin. "Thanks, babe."

"In case the worst happens," David said quietly, "it's been fun, guys."

"Really?" Harry said. "Broken nose, life-threatening danger, constant danger of expulsion, life-threatening danger, constant danger of pranks by psychotic housemates, life-threatening danger, foreign country, life-threatening danger, hostile locals, life-threatening danger, messed up class system, life-threatening danger, bizarre environment, and life-threatening danger? That's fun to you?"

David nodded. "Lots of action, lots of chaos, and British accents. What more could a guy ask for?"

Harry grinned. "Let's go. The three strode through the flames.

A/N: Phew, finally got this hammered out. Thanks go to Grenouille, for beta-ing this impressively fast, considering how many corrections he made. Give him a hand, everyone. Now throw heavy objects at him because he needs to go finish More Than Familiar! Now dance! Dance for my amusement!

Then leave a review if the fancy strikes you.

- Lightning