A/N: This is my new story, Thunderstorm. Just off the bat I'd like to make sure everybody understands that this is HP/Fem!TR - not slash, and no weird age differences. If you're looking for one of those, you've come to the wrong place, though I daresay you might enjoy this story as well.

This won't be stuck on hiatus like my other story, as I've got a much better idea of what I'm doing with it now. Chapter 2 is already written, it just needs to undergo editing, so you probably won't be waiting too long. If you want to get a peek at it sooner, it'll be in the Dark Lord Potter Work by Author section sooner than here, but it won't be as polished.

Reviews are appreciated but I won't hold out for them. That said, a free one-shot of your choice to anybody who spots the Name of Wind reference in here and reviews. Thanks for reading, and please enjoy!

The summer before my fifth year, my Hogwarts letter arrived with an added surprise: a Prefect's badge. Sirius faked a heart attack, berating me for not creating enough mischief. Remus was more sincere in his congratulations, though Sirius quickly got over himself and started pestering me with questions.

"How did you trick Snape into giving you the badge? Did you bribe him, blackmail him, or… influence him?" he asked, wagging his eyebrows.

I gave a brief chuckle, and then sighed. "Most of my friends are in Ravenclaw, Sirius. Snape knows I can keep the Slytherins in line without personal relationships getting in the way."

Sirius shut up after that.

A month later, I found myself riding the horseless carriages back up to the castle.

Upon hearing Quirrel's name announced as the new Defense Professor, I gave a silent sigh of relief. All my friends in Ravenclaw had nothing but good things to say about him as the Muggle Studies professor, so I had high hopes for him as a teacher after suffering the previous four years through one mediocrity after another.

My hopes were dashed as soon as the first lesson started and Quirrel turned out to be a stuttering wreck. His explanation of running into a nest of vampires was dubious, to say the least. No sane wizard would ever venture alone into a nest, and anybody halfway competent defense instructor would recognize the signs of such habitation from miles away. I sighed and opened the textbook, knowing I would be working on my own again this year.

The days whistled by, much like the previous years, except with the addition of my Prefect's duties. The monotony shattered explosively during the Halloween feast when Professor Quirrel tumbled in, screaming about a troll in the dungeons.

The Headmaster, in his infinite wisdom, ordered the Prefects to escort the rest of the students to their dormitories, while the staff would hunt down the troll. I spared a moment for incredulous disbelief before rushing over to the clumped Slytherin Prefects.

"I hope you lot aren't planning on actually going back to the common room," I remarked.

One of the sixth-year Prefects glared down his nose at me. "We aren't daft, Potter."

"Of course not," I retorted. "But there's clearly some sort of contagious insanity going around," nodding my head toward the staff table.

The rest of the Prefects murmured agreement and started discussing how to safely navigate the school, but I was no longer paying attention. Snape had gone missing, though he should have been with the rest of the teachers. I doubted he had gone after the troll by himself. While I thought he was capable of taking on the troll without help, it didn't seem like a risk he would take. Quirrel seemed to have gone missing as well, though I thought the likelihood of him seeking out the troll even lower.

The rest of the staff was still milling around the Great Hall, and I decided that something needed to be done. There were always people who didn't go the feast, in Slytherin more than any other house, and while the Common Room was safe, those wandering around the school would not be.

I slipped out of the Great Hall and padded toward the dungeons, casting various protective spells meant to hide my presence. Disillusioned, silenced, and de-scented, I fell into a more relaxed run. While trolls mainly hunted by sound, I didn't want to run the risk of anything slipping through.

Plans for taking down the troll flitted through my head, some discarded as soon as I thought of them. Troll hide was resistant to magic, nearly as much as class-5 magical creatures such as Giants, Dragons, and Nundus. While the fact that I could perform conjuration as a fifth-year was impressive, I doubted I could come up with anything large enough to harm the troll. I also had to take into account the possibility of other students getting in the way, so slinging powerful curses and hoping to land a lucky hit was out.

A few good ideas and the semblance of a plan had formed in my head by the time I stumbled across the reek indicative of trolls. I turned the corner to find a trail of destruction leading down the corridor, ending in a bathroom.

A bathroom from which I could hear terrified screams.

I raced down the corridor, heart pumping, and cast Fragmentation curses on the suits of armor on either side of the bathroom door, causing shards of metal to rain down. I knew I had to get the troll out of the bathroom for my plan to work, and realized that fire spells were my best bet. They would only serve as a minor irritation to the troll, but I hoped it would be enough to draw its attention away from whoever was trapped in the bathroom with it.

I rushed into the bathroom to see the troll systematically wrecking each stall with a giant club. Shooting off an overpowered Flagrate, causing the skin on its shoulder to blister, I jumped out of the way as it swung around and nearly splattered me over the wall with its club. I sent another blast of fire its way, cancelling my silencing charm, and I saw it zero in on my location as I backed out the door.

As I was successful in gaining its attention, I transfigured the water on the floor into oil and the metal shards littering the hallway into thick metal ropes. Complex animation was beyond my means, but my idea would do just as well, as long as the troll took my bait and stepped out into the hallway.

Pressing myself against the wall of the corridor, I let out a loud scream, and the troll lumbered out of the bathroom. Perfect.

I cast a Tangling hex on the metal ropes, causing them to lash out and wind around each other, along with the troll's legs. Combined with the slick, oiled floor, the troll lost its footing and fell, a resounding crash echoing in my ears as the testament to my success.

I let out a deep breath, flushed on the adrenaline high, and sent a Stinging hex at the troll's midsection. It did not stir at all, so I cancelled my Disillusionment and scentless charms and ran into the bathroom. A young, bushy-haired girl with tear tracks down her face stared up at me in amazement from the door, but before I could say anything I heard footsteps rushing down the hall.

Headmaster Dumbledore, followed by Professors McGonagall, Snape, and Quirrel, stopped and stared in various degrees of shock at the two of us and the unconscious troll.

After a few quick questions, the girl – a first-year named Hermione Granger – was ushered off to the hospital wing for a Calming Draught and a checkup by McGonagall. Quirrel seemed rather terrified of the troll, and he slipped off to parts unknown.

Assured of my relative well-being, Dumbledore and Snape led a more thorough interrogation of my actions right there in the hallway. I laid out the full story, and began expounding on my duties as a Prefect to keep the students safe, when the Headmaster waved off my defense.

"Nothing to worry about, my dear boy. You did save Miss Granger from a rather terrible fate, after all – I hardly think punishment is in order. Not many adults could have taken on a mountain troll on their own, let alone a fifth-year student. But my, how ingenious…" Dumbledore muttered, his eyes sweeping the scene. He turned his piercing gaze on me. "A Tangling hex on the ropes?"

I nodded, and I could swear I saw a smirk flit across Snape's face, but the Headmaster continued. "I think… twenty points to Slytherin are in order. Don't you agree, Professor Snape?"

Snape gave a short nod to Dumbledore, who walked off toward the troll, wand in hand.

My Head of House beckoned me closer, and I drew forward. His hand clamped down hard on my shoulder, and he leaned in toward me, hot breath wafting over my ear. "This was a very foolish thing you did, Potter," he said in a furious whisper. "Going after a troll without so much as a note? I'd expect that from a Gryffindor," he spat out. "Though, admittedly, you were successful in your endeavour. Do not go off on any more suicide missions in the future – I would be disappointed to have to clean your remains off the wall." He marched off, cloak billowing in his wake.

I stood there, bemused, and charmed my robes and trainers clean with an absent flick of my wand.

Quidditch season was approaching, and with it a furious practicing schedule courtesy of this year's captain, Marcus Flint. The only good thing I could say about him was that he was rather violent in his protection of the players on our team – off the pitch, of course.

As the first game – Slytherin vs. Gryffindor – approached, I ruminated on our chances. Fred and George Weasely were good, I thought, and outclassed our beaters. They had caused me no end of trouble last year, and they were likely even better now. Wood, their keeper and team captain, was also better than our keeper and as harsh a taskmaster as Flint during practice. Their chaser team of Bell, Spinnet, and Johnson was talented, but one was coming in from being a reserve last year. Our brutal tactics would shake her up, I hoped. I was hardly worried about their seeker – some no-name fourth-year they picked up this year; he wasn't nearly as good as I was. Playing against Charlie Weasely had been a challenge, but now apart from Fred and George I would have free run of the pitch.

Game day dawned bright and clear, and soon both teams were on the pitch.

"I want a nice, clean game, both of you," Madame Hooch said, ignoring the crushing handshake taking place between team captains. I smirked at Wood as he gave a slight wince.

And then we were off. The cold, biting air slid through my hair as I streaked upward on my Nimbus 2000, a gift from Sirius, and the sound of the crowd and commentator rolled across the pitch.

I set to work, circling the pitch and dodging the occasional bludger. I was in good form today, the flying smooth and easy. My predictions on their new chaser were correct, I thought, diving in to disrupt their formation. She had fumbled the ball already and Slytherin was leading 30-20 only ten minutes into the game.

As I was making another casual circle around the pitch, my broom gave a sudden lurch. What the hell? Another lurch. Holding on with one hand, I reached for my wand with my other hand as the broom continued to buck. I tapped the broom, attempting to engage the failsafe descent, but it continued to move out of my control. I started a frantic series of diagnostic spells, each coming up empty. As far as I could tell, there was nothing wrong with my broom – no malfunctioning charms, no foreign enchantments. The only thing that could be affecting it was external magic, and just like that the solution was obvious. I swept my wand in a loose circle around the broom, casting Finite spells as fast as I could. A second after my broom stopped trying to shake me off, I noticed the Snitch near the Gryffindor goalposts. I shot off like a rocket toward it, resulting in an anti-climactic catch with the other seeker trailing far behind.

I suppose I was lucky that there was some excitement elsewhere on the field during my brief cursebreaking adventure, as spellcasting was forbidden during Quidditch matches.

I was walking back to the castle when a tiny bundle of robes slammed into me from behind.

"Harry! You're alright!" Hermione shrieked, letting go of me in the process.

I looked down at her in bemusement. We had taken to sitting together in the library on occasion, forming a symbiotic pair. She would pester me with more advanced questions than her curriculum provided for and I would occasionally learn a new tidbit or recall something interesting that I had forgotten.

"Yes, I'm alright. What were we talking about?" I gave her a cheeky grin.

"Oh!" She drew back with a light blush. "Your broom was out of control until you swept your wand around it, and I think it was Professor Snape who cursed it! He was using a line-of-sight jinx!" rushed out in a single breath.

I stared at her. Professor Snape, who had spent the last five years treating me in as civil a manner as could be expected from him, had a sudden change of heart and decided to attempt to murder me during a Quidditch match, using such a traceable method? Right, I thought, as soon as he turned into a house-elf. More likely he was performing the counterspell. I would ask him about it as soon as I got out of the shower… after leaving a note in the dormitory, of course.

"Thanks," I said, giving her an absent nod. "I'll take care of this. Don't get yourself into any trouble."

Down in my dormitory, having taken a shower and changed, I set to writing the note I would leave on one of my roommate's drawers.

Off to Professor Snape's rooms. If not back by-

I cast a quick Tempus spell. 7:56.

- If not back by 9:00 pm contact Dumbledore immediately.

I set a timed invisibility spell on it, setting it to appear in an hour, along with a loud bang.

Having thus created my own insurance policy, I left the Slytherin Dungeons in search of my Head of House.

I found Professor Snape marking some papers in his office. He invited me to enter with a grunt, and I sat myself in front of his desk. Waiting a moment before I spoke, I chose my words with deliberation.

"Somebody came to me after the Quidditch game with an interesting story. They claimed that you were using a line-of-sight spell to curse my broom. I find this unlikely, and was hoping you had a more reasonable explanation," I said in a steady voice, keeping my eyes on Snape's nose and my mind on the delicious treacle tart I ate during dinner.

Snape scrutinized me for a moment, before turning to look at the door of his office. He stood up and started casting silent spells at the door. I shifted in my seat and palmed my wand from inside my robes.

Snape sat back down and turned to face me. "Listen carefully, Potter," he said in a slow, controlled tone. "Whoever told you that was partially correct. Somebody was using a line-of-sight curse, and I was using a counterspell which required the same. It is evident that you know of Legilimency, and equally clear that you do not know Occlumency. You will meet with me every Friday at this time to learn. In the meantime, avoid eye contact with anybody you do not explicitly trust." He dismissed with me a wave of his hand, and I left his classroom more suspicious than ever.

It turned out over the next few months that I was pants at Occlumency. By the time Christmas break rolled around, I could keep Snape out of my mind for a few seconds at most, and it took a serious effort to throw him out once he got in. By Easter, I could keep him out for ten seconds and managed to sporadically redirect him to harmless memories, though not in any consistent fashion and never for very long.

Professor Snape was irritated with the slow rate of progress, but grudgingly accepted that one could not be good at everything and kept his vocal displeasure to a minimum as long as there was progress.

By the end of May, Snape felt confident enough in my abilities to hold off a mental intruder to tell me who cursed my broom.

"It was Quirrel. After his first attempt was foiled by my counterspell and your illusion, he must have decided it was too risky to try again. Though why he tried in the first place is a mystery, given what he is after," Snape said.

"What is he after?" I questioned.

Snape gave me an irritated glare. "Surely you know that something is hidden in the school?"

Hidden in the school? "What?"

Lips thinned, Snape explained. "You read the Daily Prophet, correct? Surely you remember the failed Gringotts robbery just before the first term started? And surely you remember Dumbledore's warning at the beginning of the year?"

The pieces clicked, and I gave him a slow nod. "Funnily enough, when Dumbledore warned of a painful death, I took him at face value. I find it tends to be better for my sanity," I drawled. Still, the situation was clear. Quirrel had attempted to rob Gringotts and failed, and Dumbledore had placed whatever Quirrel was after in the forbidden third-floor corridor. "So what is it that the Headmaster is hiding on the third floor?"

"It is… unimportant," Snape said. "Either way, it does not explain why he tried to kill you. Be on your guard around him, and if you happen to see him loitering around the third-floor corridor, inform myself or the Headmaster as soon as you can."

I nodded, and Snape continued. "I believe it is time for our Occlumency lessons to come to an end. You have a sufficient grasp of the subject to protect your mind against him for enough time to distract him with a spell, and your OWLs are quickly approaching. I suggest you study hard."

And with that, I was dismissed.

The OWLs had come and gone, and I felt confident in at least seven Os: Defense, Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, Astronomy, Arithmancy, and Care of Magical Creatures. I thought I had done well in History and Herbology, but wasn't sure I had avoided enough mistakes in either written section to guarantee an O instead of an E.

It was on a warm, balmy day between OWLs and our departure from Hogwarts that Snape found me outside, his expression even darker than usual.

"Potter," he greeted me, his voice nearly a whisper. "Quirrel has sent Dumbledore off to the Ministry on a fool's errand and is going to make his move tonight. Meet me in the third-floor corridor just after curfew – I believe you have an Invisibility Cloak suited to the task."

He swept away without giving me a change to reply, leaving me in bewildered confusion. Why the hell did Snape want me along? I'll admit to a curiosity as to what was hidden there, as well as a tempered rage at Quirrel for trying to kill me, but what possible motive could Snape have for bringing me? Surely a staff member – Flitwick or McGonagall – would be more capable backup?

It turned out Snape was thinking along similar lines, I found out when I grabbed my Cloak and Map from the dormitory. Snape's and Flitwick's dots were standing still near the entrance to the third-floor corridor, while Quirrel's dot paced in his office.

I pulled the Cloak on and strode out of the dungeons, my eyes on the Map the whole way there.

As I neared Snape and Flitwick, I saw them engaged in a whispered conversation. Only a few meters away now, I slipped off my Cloak and pocketed it. Snape noticed me first, eyebrows drawing back in surprise.

"No perimeter charms? Sloppy," I commented.

An irritated scowl graced Snape's face. "There are perimeter charms. How did you cross them? I need to make sure Quirrel doesn't slip by us."

I gave him a slight frown. "I didn't do anything to avoid them. But I doubt Quirrel could slip by us anyways – I have a very handy map to keep an eye on him," I said, handing him the Map.

A blank look of surprise crossed Snape's face as he examined it, followed by a grim smile. "This will make out jobs easier," he drawled.

"Severus, are you sure this is wise? Harry is not yet of the age of majority, and-" Flitwick was cut off by a dismissive hand wave.

"Mr. Potter is a more capable defense student than any seventh-year at Hogwarts today. Now I suggest we apply Disillusionment and masking charms. Potter, a Silencing charm should be sufficient along with your cloak," Snape said.

I nodded and pulled my Cloak back on, cast a Silencing charm on myself, and watched Snape and Flitwick cast spell upon spell on themselves before finally disappearing.

We waiting in silence for some time before Quirrel strode down the hallway and entered the third-floor corridor, closing the door behind him.

I waited for Snape's directions, which came a few moments later as he reappeared, followed by Flitwick.

"Filius – you know what to do. Potter, follow our lead. If anything… unfortunate happens, there are brooms down there – take one and alert Minerva, then wait for Dumbledore to come back." With that, he billowed off towards the door, Flitwick and I following in his wake.

A tap of his wand opened the door, beyond which lay slumbering a giant, three-headed dog and a harp playing itself.

"Stunners on three," Snape whispered. "Verbally, and focus as much as possible – I do not want that thing to wake up at an inconvenient time."

"One, two, three, Stupefy!" three voices cried out in unison. Three bright red beams shot out of our wands and hit the dog, which seemed to slump even further into its sleep.

Snape strode forward and heaved open a trapdoor in front of the dog, which I had not noticed in my amazement at recognizing an actual Cerberus.

"I will go first, and when I yell 'jump', you will follow," he ordered, and jumped down without waiting for an answer.

Professor Flitwick and I shared an amused glance, and in the silence I heard only a muffled 'thump'. Some rustling sounds and a few seconds later, I heard him yell "Jump!" from what sounded like a great distance. Eyeing the trapdoor, I nodded to Flitwick and took a leap of faith, landing on something soft.

I attempted to stand up and immediately fell flat on my face, only to realize that I had landed on solid ground with a Cushioning spell. Scrambling out of the way for Flitwick, I shot a glare at Snape, who seemed to be smirking in the dim light.

Flitwick made his landing and stood up with much more grace than I had, recognizing the cushioned ground for what it was.

The three of us shared a look and went onward to the next room, only to find a room full of flying keys with several brooms nestled against the wall.

I surmised that only the proper key would open the door, and went to grab a broom, only to have both Snape and Flitwick follow me and grab brooms as well. I eyed them with a questioning glance.

"What I can do, I can also undo, Mr. Potter. We will need the brooms for the next room," Flitwick explained.

I nodded and we walked toward the locked door. Flitwick tapped the doorknob with his wand and murmured something, and the door swung outward.

The next room turned out to be home to a giant chess set. It seemed we were meant to play across, but I wasn't opposed to flying over it instead. The three of us did so with varying degrees of grace and landed on the other side, where Snape stopped us.

"The next room is Quirrel's – it is supposed to contain a troll, but I do not know what Quirrel has done with it, if anything. Be prepared," he warned.

I drew my wand, feeling confident. While the same trick would not work again a second time, given the lack of material, the three of us could take it down with massed spellfire. Concussion curses to the head would be the best bet, I thought.

Snape opened the door and slinked in on silent feet, with Flitwick and I following behind him. The overpowering smell of troll distracted me for only a second before I saw it lying unconscious on the ground.

I let out a sigh of relief, only to follow it up with a coughing fit caused by the rank stench. Clearing my throat, I followed Snape and Flitwick through the door into the next room, only to have a purple fire roar into existence behind me.

A black fire blocked the door in front of us, and to the side there was a table with a piece of parchment and seven bottles. A defense Snape designed, I guessed.

The Potions professor inspected two of the bottles, and then appeared to perform a switching spell with another bottle. With a sweep of his wand, the black flames blocking our passage dissolved.

One hand on the door and the other on his wand, Snape motioned us forward. "Be prepared for anything – including Unforgivables. Beyond stealing the stone, I have no idea what Quirrel's motivations may be."

He threw open the door and the three of us rushed in, wands blazing.

I led off with a standard stunner, while Snape shot off an advanced binding hex and Flitwick attempted a sensory-deprivation curse.

Quirrel had noticed our entrance, as he had already turned around and brought up a shield, though he staggered under the assault. Still, I'm not sure I could have blocked three spells like that even with advance warning, let alone when caught by surprise.

"Quirrel," Snape growled, "come in quietly and make this easy for yourself."

Quirrel was already moving, however, and had thrown a dark purple curse towards our group. I dodged to the side while launching a Banisher at him, only to recognize a moment later what Quirrel had used. It was a powerful Dark Arts Paralysis curse, which did not harm the victim by itself but was difficult and time-consuming to reverse.

So, he was playing for keeps. I launched a quick succession of Fragmentation hexes at the ground near his feet, only to have him deflect the shrapnel back at me.

Blocking it, I snarled in frustration. Chancing a quick glance over at Snape and Flitwick, I saw that they were having no better luck than I was, and they were using much more advanced spellwork as well. Quirrel seemed to be using deadly or crippling curses against them. So, he didn't consider me a threat. Well, I'd show him.

Pelting him with low-level jinxes and hexes to keep him busy, and to keep Snape and Flitwick in good shape as well, I searched my memory for something that might catch him off guard. A grim smile came to my face as I remembered a spell that I had stumbled upon in my research earlier this year. Cruor Laqueus – The Blood Noose – was by any meaning of the phrase Dark Arts, and blood magic to boot. It quite literally made a noose out of the caster's blood and placed it around the victim's neck. Difficult to block because the blood approached the enemy as a fine mist, it was also impossible to get off once it formed itself on the target without one seriously injuring themselves. It had no specific counter-curse as the blood was infused with the user's magic, which was also the reason it was so easy to cast and manipulate.

Casting a weak Notice-Me-Not charm on myself, I circled around to the side, slowing my breathing. Snape and Flitwick looked like they were tiring, but I hoped I could catch Quirrel by surprise. Anything stronger and Quirrel would be almost certain to notice me – powerful and talented wizards were almost never caught by common diversion tactics like Disillusionment, and it was clear that Quirrel fell into that category.

Having found a good position, I whispered the incantation and felt a slight lurch go through my body. I watched as a fine red mist shot out of my wand, speeding towards Quirrel. He noticed something wrong at the last second, but it was too late and I watched in triumph as a bright red noose formed around his neck. The curse was not deadly unless I wished it to be, and I very much looked forward to hearing the explanation for all of this.

I had only a moment to spare for shocked incredulity as I watched Quirrel shriek and his neck erupt in flames, when a wave of burning pain crashed into me and I slipped into unconsciousness.

"Madam Pomfrey! He's waking up!" a voice cried out.

I grumbled my annoyance, pushing my face back into the pillow. My entire body felt feverish and sweaty, and I felt as if I would much rather go back to sleep than deal with the waking world. Alas, it was not to be.

"Up, up, young man! If you are awake, that means that the potions have finished their work. We have some questions for you," the matron's voice insisted.

I grunted and leveraged myself up by my elbow. Looking blearily around, I mumbled my thanks when someone's hand placed my glasses onto my face.

I found myself looking up at Madam Pomfrey's stern glare and decided that I would much rather deal with Sirius, whose face carried an unusual expression of worry, than suffer an inquisition from the resident Healer.

"How are you feeling, young man?" she inquired, leaving me no room for escape.

"Bit feverish," I replied through a jaw-cracking yawn. "And tired. Guess something went wrong with the spell – wait, Professor Snape and Flitwick! And Quirrel! What happened to them?" I shot up, now fully awake.

"Professor Snape and Professor Flitwick are fine, Harry. The same cannot be said for poor Quirinus, who has departed us," answered a new voice. I found myself staring into Dumbledore's somber eyes. "And I day say your last spell was successful – though it suffered from an unusual side-effect that you could not have known about. I must admit to a certain curiosity, Harry, why you chose to use such a Dark spell."

I narrowed my eyes. Surely I wasn't being punished for defending my life, along with those of two other Professors? Even if I had used Dark Arts to do it. "I didn't mean to kill him. Is that 'side-effect' the reason for why he burned and whatever happened to me as well? What is it, exactly?" I asked, both in genuine curiosity and in an attempt to redirect the conversation.

The Headmaster sat down, looking tired. Sirius seemed quiet, and he was looking at me with an expression I'd never seen on him before. I didn't know what to make of it, until Dumbledore spoke.

"It seems, Harry, that Quirinus Quirrel was carrying a passenger. A shade of Voldemort, in fact. I have long suspected that your survival that Halloween night was due to your mother's ritualistic sacrifice of her life, bestowing you with a temporary immunity against Voldemort's magic. Some measure of that protection has survived to this day – it was, in fact, the basis of a very special set of blood wards I placed around your Aunt's house. The magic in your blood reacted violently when it came into contact with Voldemort's host, and since you were still connected to it by your spell, the backlash knocked you unconscious. Severus and Filius reported a certain amount of shock at seeing both the results of your spell and the escaping shade that emerged from Quirinius' turban. It confirmed my long-standing belief that Voldemort was not truly dead."

I stared at Dumbledore in shock. Voldemort was alive? And I had killed Quirrel because of some remnant of a blood magic protection that my mother had given me upon her death? It made my use of a blood magic spell rather ironic – and more fortunate than ever, since it had exposed the fact that Voldemort was not quite as dead as I would have liked.

I lay back against my pillow, numb. I needed to think, and Sirius and Dumbledore could wait.

"Come see me in my office when you are feeling better, Harry," Dumbledore told me, and then he left.

"I'll – I'll see you when you get home, kiddo," Sirius said in a gruff voice, and followed Dumbledore out of the hospital wing.

I didn't want to think about this right now. I would think about it tomorrow, and talk to Dumbledore. Right now, I just wanted to stop thinking. So I slept.

The next day, after I was kicked out of the hospital wing, I made my slow way to Dumbledore's office. I had woken up late and between eating breakfast and concentrating on not walking into walls, I had very little time to think about what Dumbledore had revealed to me yesterday. Not that I particularly wanted to, but it didn't seem like I would have much choice in the matter.

Standing in front of the gargoyles guarding Dumbledore's office, I realized with a mild shock that I had made my way to his office completely unaware of my surroundings. And now that I was there, I further realized that the Headmaster had neglected to give me the password to his office.

Shaking my head and breaking out of my stupor, I tapped the head of the left gargoyle with my wand. Beyond the ability of regular students to request a meeting with the headmaster through them, they were enchanted to allow Prefects to deliver urgent messages to the Headmaster without waiting for a response.

Riding up the stairs, I tried to get my mind in order. Running through the Occlumency exercises Snape had me practice calmed me only a little, but it was better than nothing.

Opening the door to his office, I stepped inside and stopped, staring at Dumbledore with a blank look. Had I just interrupted him in the process of… twiddling his thumbs?

"Ah, Harry!" he exclaimed, giving me a beaming smile. "Please, come in and have a seat!"

"Yes, sir," I replied as I sat down in the chair he had conjured in front of his desk.

"Lemon drop?" he offered.

I gave him an absent nod and took one. I suspected they were laced with a Calming Draught, but I didn't mind much. Could even help me get through this meeting, I mused.

As if life had just decided to take a giant dump on me, the magic in the room shifted like that night two years ago when I brought in Wormtail and the twinkle in the Headmaster's eyes vanished. Perhaps I would need another lemon drop.

"I am afraid, Harry, that there is something I need to tell you," Dumbledore said, and sighed.

"Your parents – and you – were not the target of a random attack by Voldemort. She came to your house that night intending to kill you for the threat she believed you posed; a threat born by prophecy."

And then he spelled it out for me – every last word.

My heart rising in my throat, I choked out, "The power she knows not – is that the protection my mother gave me?"

Dumbledore's aged face bore a slight frown as he gave a neutral hum. "Perhaps, perhaps, though I am uncertain. It would be… unwise to rely on it to protect you from anything other than physical contact, and even more so to try and make direct use of it through blood-based spells. If Voldemort managed to obtain some of your blood, she could use it for many a nefarious purpose, including using it as a tool for a potent resurrection ritual. Though, of course, that would be an exceptionally foolish way for her to go about it…" he murmured the last part.

I stared at him, confused and dismayed. The power I was supposed to have that Voldemort did not know of – it might have been my mother's protection, but Dumbledore wasn't sure. And if it wasn't, he didn't seem to have any alternatives in mind, either. Not only that, but it sounded as if Dumbledore thought that using my blood as a method of resurrection would somehow disadvantage Voldemort. I wasn't sure what he meant, but I was not about to donate my blood for experimentation.

Screw it all, my brain hurt. I'd think it over by myself then get some suggestions from Sirius, and perhaps Remus as well, who could provide a more level-headed commentary.

My throat felt inexplicably sore and I felt the signs of an impending headache. "Thank you, Headmaster. If that's all..?"

Dumbledore nodded, his keen gaze tracking me as I turned and left his office.