The holidays over, a new term at Hogwarts began. Upon returning to school and his dormitory, Harry discovered a parcel lying on his bed, his name written on an attached tag. He opened it curiously and something fluid and silvery gray went slithering to the bed; where it lay in gleaming folds.
Harry picked the shining, silvery cloth up. It was strange to the touch, like water woven into material. He shook it out and came to the realization that it was a cloak. As he did so, a note fell out of the folds of material.
Seeing this, he picked it up and read it. The note was written in narrow, loopy writing that struck an absent chord in his memory.
Your father left this in my possession before he died.
It is time it was returned to you.
Use it well.
A Very Happy Christmas to you.
He stared in wonderment at the note for a moment, before throwing the cloak around his shoulders and moving over to the mirror that stood on the back of the door. Instantly, he gasped- his body had disappeared!
He pulled the cloak over his head and his reflection vanished completely. Smirking deviously, he opened the door and snuck down the tunnel to the common room. The room was empty but for his friends, who he slipped over to and threw off the cloak. "BOO!"
The four jumped and Hannah screamed. Hermione, seeing Harry, jumped up and cuffed him around the ear for scaring her. This resulted in her chasing him around the room when he fled. Eventually, he gave in and flopped onto the floor.
"How did you do that?"
His eyes gleamed with mischief. "It's a cloak that makes you invisible-"
Hermione interjected. "You mean an invisibility cloak?"
"That's what I said! It was on my bed. The note said that it belonged to my Dad. Just think of all the stuff we can do with this combined withthe map."
"Who gave it to you? Those things are expensive!" questioned Susan.
"They're really rare too!" added Hannah.
"I dunno. It didn't say."
"Another mystery then."
Soon after term started, Susan began to teach her friends occulemency.
They had to first learn to meditate, relaxing and clearing their minds. From that state they would then have to organise their thoughts and build mental barriers by visualising themselves inside their minds. These barriers would protect them from any mental attacks. Also, when they reached a high level of skill, they would be able to direct an attacker into a false memory to mislead them.
It was hard going. Harry in particular had difficulty in suppressing and calming his emotions. His attempts to clear his mind only resulted in his thoughts multiplying. In turn this frustrated him, making a calm and clear mind completely unachievable.
Hermione was, predictably, the first to succeed; moving on to the second stage in early March. Cedric had cracked it by the end of the month and Hannah managed a few days later. As Harry was still struggling, Hermione consulted her books for an alternate method. He first tried Yoga which... well, let's just say that it didn't go very well.
He then attempted Zen meditation, (focusing on an unanswerable question) which didn't work either as he kept trying to answer the question, which rather defeated the point.
By May he was beginning to lose hope of ever getting it but he still persisted in trying. Next of the list was Tai Chi which, miraculously, worked! Harry's joy jolted him out of his meditation and he ran from the dorms to the common room, grinning from ear to ear as he shouted. "I did it! I did it! I did it!"
All eyes turned to Harry as he rushed into the room, most turning away again as he flopped onto the floor beside Hermione's chair, blushing from the attention.
"You did what?" asked Cedric, snickering at Harry's embarrassment. This earned him a playful shove from the boy in question as he replied. "I got into my mindscape thingy. Although... My subconscious is weird."
"I'd really rather not say to be honest. It'sembarrassing."
"Aw c'mon Harry. You can't say something like that and then just leave us hanging here."
Harry huffed. "Fine. Promise you won't laugh."
"We promise. Don't we girls."
The three girls nodded. "Yep."
Harry looked at his feet and mumbled in embarrassment. "My mindscape thingy is kinda Hermione's charm bracelet."
"What!" exclaimed his four friends, falling about in mirth.
Harry scowled at them. "You promised that you wouldn't laugh!"
They sobered, the occasional giggle still escaping and Hermione spoke incredulously. "Seriously? This isn't a prank?"
"No; I swear!"
"Then that's just weird Hero."
Harry scowled at her and pointedly flounced off to go and work on his protections. As he left, the other four again collapsed with laughter.
A few days later Susan received a call on the mirror that she had gotten for Christmas from her Aunt, concerning Hermione's enquiry at Christmas. At breakfast that day, she relayed the information to her friends. "Auntie says she's had a bit of a problem getting ahold of the trial transcript for you."
"Apparently the archive room is in a complete mess. Instead of filing everything in order people have just been dumping them in piles. And this has been going on for years! Anyway, she's given the task of sorting it out as an assignment to one of the trainees. She's in charge of the 'mission' and all the other aurors who Auntie's mad at have to help her out. It's likely to take months and months though."
Harry sighed. "Oh well. I guess we just have to wait then."
The months went by, encompassing the birthdays of both Susan and Hannah in February and April (Cedric's was in late September) until the end of year exams were upon them, Susan, Cedric and Hannah being introduced to Hermione's patented (and just a bit fanatic) revision schedules.
However, they managed to survive both revision and exams and were currently in their beds on one of the last days of the school term. Harry couldn't sleep, for some reason feeling a growing sense of unexplained dread.
After tossing and turning for what felt like hours, he got up and headed out of the common room, intending to go for a jog around the corridors to try and calm his thoughts. In his frustration, he took neither his invisibility cloak nor the marauders map. He also failed to notice Hermione, who was sat reading in a corner of the common room.
The worried girl (she had noticed his mood) got up, resolving to follow him. Being sensible, and not wanting Harry to know that she had followed him, she slipped into the first year boys dorm and took both map and cloak from Harry's trunk. She then followed him, noting absently that Professor Quirrel seemed to be patrolling and that Harry was in danger of being caught.
As she walked in the direction that Harry had gone in, her prediction came true, Harry and the Professor's dots meeting on the third floor. The pair then began moving at a slower pace and soon Hermione had caught up with them.
It took all of her willpower to restrain a shocked gasp- Harry was unconscious and being dragged along by the DADA Professor! She froze, unable to move as she saw Quirrel open the door to the third floor corridor, use a harp to send the dog to sleep and jump into the trapdoor, taking Harry with him.
Hermione regained her senses and fled, running as fast as her legs would carry her back to the common room. There, in a panic, she woke Susan, Hannah and Cedric and hurriedly told them what she had seen. Cedric then took charge, sending Susan to find a Professor, as he and the other two girls went after Harry.
Susan sprinted to Professor Sprout's office, her mind whirring with worry. She hammered on the door, hopping from one foot to another as she waited anxiously. After a few moments the door opened to reveal the Professor, looking sleepy.
"Miss Bones? Whatever is the matter?"
Susan's reply came out in a frantic jumble. "It's Harry Professor! The others have gone after him! Down the trapdoor! Professor Quirrel's got him!"
"Are you trying to tell me that Professor Quirrel has forcibly taken Mr Potter down the trapdoor in the third floor corridor and your three friends have gone after him?"
Susan nodded hysterically. "You have to help him professor!"
Looking worried, the Professor went back into her quarters and over to the floo. Susan waited anxiously and a few minutes later Professors McGonagall, Flitwick and Snape had tumbled out of it. "What's the emergency Pomona?"
"Quinius has apparently gone after the Stone, taking an unconscious Mr Potter with him. Mr Diggory, Miss Abbott and Miss Granger have gone after them."
"Foolish children." Muttered Snape. "We'd better go and find Hagrid. Unless one of you knows how to get past that damn dog?"
Susan piped up. "It goes to sleep if you play some music."
All four teachers turned to stare at her, Snape leaning towards her menacingly, speaking with a dangerous lilt to his voice. "And just how would you know that Miss Bones?"
To her credit, Susan didn't miss a beat, replying innocently as she hastily brought up her occulemency shields to full strength. "Hermione said that she saw it go straight to sleep after Quirrel played a harp."
They set off for the trapdoor at a brisk pace, Susan explaining how Hermione had known that. The four teachers then headed down the trapdoor, leaving Susan safe outside the door, keeping Fluffy asleep with a charm that Professor Flitwick had quickly taught her.
Hermione, Cedric and Hannah ran full pelt to the third floor corridor, Cedric using a music charm to send Fluffy to sleep as they jumped into the trapdoor. Upon landing, Hannah recognised the Devils Snare immediately and dispelled it with a cry of. "Incendio!"
Warily, wands out, they headed down the corridor ahead of them, coming to a halt as they entered the next room and relaxing slightly as it appeared to be empty but for hundreds of glittering winged keys and a couple of broomsticks leaning on the wall.
Hermione strode over to the heavy wooden door and tugged at it. "It's locked. We must have to find the key."
Hannah grinned weakly at Cedric. "Well Ced, I think I speak for both of us when I say that you're in charge of this one."
Cedric grabbed a broom, eyes scanning the air as he mused aloud. "Presumably Quirrel had to catch it to get through so we probably want one with a bent wing." A while later he spotted one that matched this description and tore off after it, catching it and shoving it into the lock, opening the door.
In the next room, which they entered warily, they found themselves standing on the edge of a huge chessboard, behind the black chessmen, which were all taller than they were and carved from what looked like black stone. Facing them, way across the chamber, were the white pieces, a door visible behind them.
Hermione groaned. "Great. Chess. We're going to have to play our way across aren't we?" The black piece beside her came to life, making her jump, and nodded. She turned to her two friends. "Please tell me that one of you is good at chess because I'm worse than terrible at it."
Both looked worried. "I'm alright." Said Hannah
"Me too, I wouldn't say that I'm brilliant though." Added Cedric. "Oh well, nothing else for it I guess. Hermione, you be the Queen, I'll be a rook and Hannah you be a Knight or a Bishop." The two girls nodded and they all got into place on the board.
It didn't go particularly well to begin with but, between them, Cedric and Hannah managed to keep themselves, Hermione and their King out of danger. After a while, they even started to win!
Cedric bit his lip and spoke quietly. "It's the only way. I've got to be taken."
"No!" cried Hermione, as Hannah snorted.
"Liar. There's another way of achieving the same aim and it's much more sensible." With that, she moved forward, Cedric blanching and echoing Hermione's cry. Both winced as Hannah was knocked unconscious by the opposing Knight and dragged to the side of the board.
With a heavy heart, Cedric moved to the side, checkmating the King so that it threw down it's crown, the door ahead swinging open. The remaining two friends dashed to Hannah's side, Cedric picking her up in his arms and checking her pulse. They breathed a sigh of relief as they found it to be steady. "You little idiot cousin. Loyal, noble, self-sacrificing idiot. I'm going to kill you when you wake up you know."
"You were about to do the same thing for her."
"I know. But that's fine; that's me."
Hermione smiled affectionately (or at least she tried to). "Hypocrite."
"I know." He turned serious again. "I aint leaving her behind."
"What makes you think that I was going to? Put her over your shoulder so you can still use your wand. I'll go in front."
They entered the next room, holding their noses in disgust at the smell that reached them. Carefully, they circumnavigated the huge and unconscious troll, hurrying guardedly into the next room.
Before them was a table with seven differently shaped bottles standing on it in a line. They stepped over the threshold, and immediately a fire sprang up behind them in the doorway. It wasn't ordinary fire either; it was purple. At the same instant, black flames shot up in the doorway leading onward. They were trapped.
"Look!" Hermione seized a roll of paper lying next to the bottles. Cedric looked over her shoulder to read it:
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.
"Good job you're here." Said Cedric wryly. "I doubt I'd ever solve that."
"A lot of the greatest wizards haven't got an ounce of logic; they'd be stuck in here forever." Replied Hermione. "Right. There's seven bottles: three are poison; two are wine; one will get us safely through the black fire, and one will get us back through the purple. Give me a minute."
Hermione read the paper several times. Then she walked up and down the line of bottles, muttering to herself and pointing at them. At last, she clapped her hands.
"Got it," she said. "The smallest bottle will get us through the black fire - presumably towards Harry." She bit her lip anxiously. "But I don't think there's enough there for both of us."
A voice sounded behind them, causing them to jump and whirl around, wands poised. "Correct Miss Granger. If you'd kindly hand that over please." The four heads of House stood there, Professor Snape having spoken. Hermione quickly obeyed, watching as the Professor pulled a larger vial from his robes and each Professor took a mouthful before stepping through the flames.
Sternly, Professor McGonagall told them. "Stay here. We will deal with this."
They waited and, what seemed like an age (but was actually only a few minutes) later, the Professors emerged. Professor Sprout was carrying an unconscious Harry in her arms and Professor Snape was levitating an unmoving Professor Quirrel.
"Harry! Is he alright?"
"He's fine Miss Granger. Just magically exhausted. Merlin only knows what happened in there."
Harry woke with a start, backpedalling rapidly until his surroundings registered in his brain and he calmed. The sight of the familiar white hospital wing relaxed him, as did the sight of his best friend, asleep in the chair beside his bed. The sight of the Hogwarts Headmaster standing at the foot of his bed, however, caused him to become more alert.
"Good afternoon, Harry," said Dumbledore.
Harry stared at him. "What happened?"
"That, my dear boy" At this Harry winced imperceptibly. "Is what I was hoping that you could tell me."
Harry frowned, trying to remember. Then it hit him and he turned a mixture of white and green. "Oh God… I killed him. I-"
His voice broke and Dumbledore cut in. "No you did not. Quinius Quirrel, the young muggle studies professor, died the night he was corrupted and possessed by Lord Voldemort."
Harry nodded, that made sense. "But… I don't understand how I did it."
"Why don't you tell me what happened."
Harry came to slowly, struggling as he tried to figure out where he was and what had happened. The realization came with a jolt as he took notice of his surroundings- he was tied up in a small room and could see Professor Quirrel in front of what was unmistakably the Mirror of Erised. 'Uh-Oh.' He thought. 'He's stunned me and taken me somewhere. This can't be good.'
"Where is it?" cried the frustrated (and evil) Professor. "I see myself presenting the Stone to my master. But where is it?"He cursed under his breath. "I don't understand... is the Stone inside the mirror?Should I break it?What does this mirror do? How does it work? Help me, Master!"
Harry shivered as a decidedly creepy voice emanated from Quirrel's turban. "Use the boy...Use the boy..."
The ropes fell of him as Quirrel snapped. "Potter, come here and tell me what you see."
Harry walked over, slowly and unwillingly, as he desperately tried to reinforce his weak occulemency shields. As he walked his mind screamed 'Not good, not good, not good!'
Hesitantly, Harry looked into the mirror and saw his family all smiling and waving at him. Mirror Hermione grabbed his attention, mouthing something at him that he couldn't make out; what was it?
Quirrel cut into his thoughts, demanding "What do you see boy?"
"I… I'm shaking hands with Dumbledore," he invented wildly; "We've won the House cup."
Quirrel impatiently shoved harry out of the way, just as Harry realised what mirror Hermione was trying to tell him- We're coming. 'Oh God, Hermione's coming after me. Please let her have gone to get help. Please let her not be coming alone.'
And then there was that voice again, as Harry edged towards the door, feeling a probe blast through his shields to access his thoughts. "He Lies... Let me speak with him; face-to-face."
"But master, you are not strong enough!"
"Do not presume to know my strength, weakling. I am strong enough for this."
Harry watched in horror as Quirrel unwrapped the turban from his head and it fell away. Quirrell's head looked strangely small without it. Then he turned slowly on the spot.
Harry would have screamed, but he couldn't make a sound. Where there should have been a back to Quirrell's head, there was a face, the most terrible face Harry had ever seen. It was chalk white with glaring red eyes and slits for nostrils, like a snake.
"Harry Potter..." it whispered.
Harry tried to take a step backward but his legs wouldn't move.
"See what I have become?"the face said. "Mere shadow and vapor ... I have form only when I can share another's body... but there have always been those willing to let me into their hearts and minds... Unicorn blood has strengthened me, these past weeks... and once I have the Elixir of Life, I will be able to create a body of my own..."
"No!" cried Harry.
"Don't be a fool," snarled the face. "Better save your own life and join me than to stand against me... or you'll meet the same end as your parents... They died begging me for mercy..."
"LIAR!" Harry shouted suddenly.
Quirrell was walking backward at him, so that Voldemort could still see him. The evil face was now smiling."How touching..." it hissed."I always value bravery...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..."
Harry then did something very reckless, charging at Qirreelmort and knocking him- them?- to the floor, as he fled towards the door. Voldemortscreamed "SEIZE HIM!" and the next second, Harry felt Quirrell's hand close on his wrist. At once, a needle-sharp pain seared across Harry's scar; his head felt as though it was about to split in two; he yelled, struggling with all his might, and to his surprise, Quirrell let go of him. The pain in his head lessened—he looked around wildly to see where Quirrell had gone, and saw him hunched in pain, looking at his fingers—they were blistering before his eyes.
"Seize him! SEIZE HIM!" shrieked Voldemortagain, and Quirrell lunged, knocking Harry clean off his feet, landing on top of him, both hands around Harry's neck—Harry's scar was almost blinding him with pain, yet he could see Quirrell howling in agony.
"Master, I cannot hold him—my hands—my hands!"
And Quirrell, though pinning Harry to the ground with his knees, let go of his neck and stared, bewildered, at his own palms—Harry could see they looked burned, raw, red, and shiny.
"Then kill him, fool, and be done!" screeched Voldemort.
Quirrell raised his hand to perform a deadly curse,but Harry, by instinct, reached up and grabbed Quirrell's face—
"AAAARGH!"Quirrell rolled off him, his face blistering, too,and then Harry knew: Quirrell couldn't touch his bare skin, not without suffering terrible pain—his only chance was to keep hold of Quirrell, keep him in enough pain to stop him from doing a curse. He prayed with all his might that whatever help Hermione had (hopefully) secured would arrive soon.
Harry jumped to his feet, caught Quirrell by the arm, and hung on as tight as he could. Quirrell screamed and tried to throw Harry off—the pain in Harry's head was building—he couldn't see—he could only hear Quirrell's terrible shrieks and Voldemort'syells of, "KILL HIM! KILL HIM!"as he fell into blackness and knew no more.
"So why couldn't Quirrell touch me?"
"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. It is upon this protection that the blood wards that keep you safe at Number 4 Privet Drive are based upon and they one reason that you were placed there with your Aunt."
Harry frowned in confusion. "I'm sorry Headmaster but, where?"
"You don't know your own address my boy? Number 4 Privet Drive, little Whinging, Surrey?"
Harry shook his head. "I've lived in a lot of places but I don't remember ever living in Surrey. These ward thingies must move with me though because I've never been attacked or anything. And Mum's my second cousin once removed, not my aunt." He changed the subject, asking. "Why does Voldemort want to kill me anyway?"
Dumbledore sighed very deeply, looking slightly shell-shocked. "Alas, I cannot tell you that. 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."
Harry scowled darkly as the Headmaster left the Hospital wing and looked over at Hermione, who had been faking sleep for the last 5 minutes. She jumped from the chair, hugging him tight. "I was so worried! Don't you dare do that to me ever again Harry James Potter!"
He hugged her back. "I'll try Mione. Thanks for getting help."
Harry was released from the Hospital the next day, Madam Pomfrey pronouncing him fit to attend the feast. He was greeted with great enthusiasm by the many Hufflepuffs who had noticed him missing and been worried about him, following the wild rumours that had flown around the school.
The hall was decorated in Hufflepuff yellow and black and the badgers were celebrating their first win of the House Cup in decades. (Ravenclaw won the Quidditch Cup.) "It's all thanks to you two you know." Said Andy to Harry and Hermione.
Both looked at him in blatant disbelief. "Don't be stupid."
"It's true! Have you not seen how many points the two of you earn in classes on your own?"
"He's right you know." Interjected Cedric.
"It's why we don't win the cup that often." Continued Andy. "The people who earn lots of points like you two generally go to Ravenclaw. Slytherin have the blatant favouritism of Snape on their side and it's generally them who give the ravens a run for their money. The Gryffindors are good at the whole 'saving people' bravado but they generally get the pranksters who lose all the points as well. We just stay in the background and work. We don't stand out so we don't get that many points. If we do win it's generally because we've won the Quidditch cup."
As those in the vicinity thought on the seventh year's words, Dumbledore stood up to speak. "Another year gone!" He said cheerfully. "And I must trouble you with an old man's wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast. What a year it has been! Hopefully your heads are all a little fuller than they were... you have the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year starts... Now, as I understand it, the house cup here needs awarding, and the points stand thus: In fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third, Ravenclaw, with three hundred and ninety-seven; Slytherin has four hundred and twenty-six and Hufflepuff, four hundred and seventy-two. Congratulations Hufflepuff!"
The table broke out in wild cheers, the other Houses applauding politely. It was a good night.
In the morning they received their exam results (no one was surprised to see that Harry and Hermione had the joint best grades of their year.) and headed home for the summer.