This is a prequel I've written to the story More Like Two Different Coins. You don't need to read that first but there are quite a few chapters of it already those of you already having read the above story, then I hope you'll enjoy finally having the prequel showing just how the whole story began.
This chapter has been rewritten as of (10/2/13)
Chapter 1: The Dragon and the Chalice
For most of the wizards and witches at Hogwarts, it had been a normal day:
Snape took fifty points from Gryffindor.
McGonagall gave it back.
Myrtle annoyed anyone who entered the girls' toilets.
Draco called Hermione a mudblood.
Hermione nearly hexed him into oblivion.
But for Harry, it had been a day of unease. The school had always been flowing with a natural magic that was both exciting and protective, but today Harry felt something different. There was an extra layer of magic, not simply enchantments, but something pure and powerful, old and patient, and he was sure it was watching him.
After a day of looking over his shoulder, distracted, Harry realized he was not going to get any more answers by wandering the halls. It was supper-time, and he headed to the Great Hall, sitting down next to Hermione and Ron with a frown.
"Harry, where have you been?" Hermione wondered.
"Just…around." He muttered.
"Cheer up, Harry. Food's here!" Ron said with a grin.
"Ron, can't you see he's upset?" Hermione scolded. "Harry, what happened?"
Harry sighed. "It's…nothing, really. I just – does the school feel weird to you today?"
"Weird, how?" Hermione said with a smile.
"I don't know. I guess…it's like there's this…something just sitting in the air, waiting."
"Something like…magic?" Ron teased.
Hermione glared at Ron, who shrunk back a little in his seat, before turning toward Harry.
"Something other than what's normally there, Ron." He said.
"Could it be dark magic?" she wondered.
Harry shook his head. "I don't think so. I've felt dark magic. It's different."
They sat back a moment to let that sink in. Hermione was the first to break the silence.
"You said it's waiting. What do you think it's waiting for?"
"I don't know, exactly, but…well…this is going to sound a bit silly…"
Hermione glanced to him expectantly. "Go on then."
Harry blushed. "Me."
"How?" Hermione asked sincerely, not one to be sceptical after her first three years at Hogwarts.
"It's been almost following me all day. I can't explain it, but I just…know."
A worried look came over his friends' faces.
"I wonder if it has anything to do with those visions you've been having." Hermione thought aloud.
"I don't think so."
"I don't know, Harry, but I think you're right. The school has felt different today." She agreed.
Ron sighed. "I think you're both barking mad." He said, before digging in.
It was late when Harry came back from Hagrid's, with Ron and Hermione walking beside him. They turned down the corridor with the trophy case, and as they passed it, Harry froze. It was humming, almost singing.
"Harry?" Ron asked.
Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"I just want to check something." He explained. "You don't have to wait for me. I'll only be a minute."
"I don't know if that's a good idea…" Hermione began.
"It's fine, Hermione. I'm not in danger. I'll be fine."
There was an unsure sigh. "If you're sure."
Ron and Hermione's gaze met his own, searching for a lie, but both seemed happy he was telling the truth and reluctantly continued toward the common room.
When they were out of sight, Harry walked cautiously toward the cabinet. He placed his ear against the glass and noticed the sound coming from the far right. In that direction sat a beautiful golden chalice, and Harry wondered how he'd never noticed it before. He moved closer to the humming object and silently observed it with confusion and curiosity.
"What do you want from me?" He asked.
There was a sudden vision, a sharp flash of a cup, of fire, and of a sorceress in a red dress. Harry stumbled backwards. "What was that?"
He moved forward again. Another vision. Odd words, a spell, a man, dead against the altar. Sadness. Anger. Clouds, lightning, power.
These visions weren't like the others. He wasn't trapped; he didn't feel fear. He could feel everything the observer had. But who was the observer and why was Harry seeing through his eyes? And what connection did this observer have to the old magic hovering in the air? Harry shook his head nervously.
Harry. A voice whispered.
The boy wizard turned with alarm, seeing no one in the hallway.
"Ron?" he asked, unsure. "I said I'd be there in a few minutes."
Harry. It continued.
This was not like Voldemort's whispering, hissing voice.
"Ron, come on. It's not funny." Harry protested.
Harry jumped as he heard the same voice suddenly send another message.
How small you are for such a great destiny.
He flinched. That phrase hit a nerve. Harry turned around full circle, gathering some strange looks from a couple of Hufflepuff wizards, but found nothing and sighed.
"Losing it." He said, and made his way to the Gryffindor common room.
Harry was frustrated. Despite spending two days trying to hear the voice again and track it down, he was no further than he'd been when he stood in front of the trophy case the first time. Adding to his frustration was the lingering feeling that this was familiar somehow.
He'd wondered whether it was another basilisk but had quickly filed away that thought. The voice hadn't been coming from within the walls, but inside his head. Then Harry had considered telling Ron and Hermione but the idea made him unusually uneasy. Somehow, this was his to solve, and he couldn't shake the foreboding feeling that when he figured this out, his world was going to change…or crumble.
"Harry, you've been distracted for days now, ever since…" Hermione began. "I knew we shouldn't have left you. What happened in that corridor anyway?"
"Just a weird humming." He replied, and shifted. "Like I told you, Hermione, I just had a vision. Then it stopped. It was nothing."
"It's hardly nothing!" She exclaimed. "I can feel it too. Something's changing. Harry, don't keep this to yourself. Ron and I want to help."
Harry scrambled to his feet, facing the door.
"Harry?" Hermione asked, "What is it?"
Harry… The voice called. He'd checked everywhere…
Hermione folded her arms at the lack of responsiveness. "Harry Potter, you answer me right now or…"
Harry continued to look ahead with intense concentration.
Trolls guard my door. We must speak urgently, Harry Potter.
"Harry!" Hermione exclaimed.
He shook out of his trance, realizing Hermione had been trying to get his attention. "Sorry, what?"
Hermione sighed angrily, before storming out of the common room and up to her dorm. Harry couldn't muster up concern. He was so close to figuring out the puzzle. And the voice had sounded closer this time. Was it because he was on a higher floor?
Trolls guard my door. Trolls. Where had he seen trolls before? Surely the person or thing that was calling him couldn't be guarded by a real troll. The professors wouldn't have placed one there as a guard – too dangerous, and if one had found its way inside again, they would've made quick work of it and drove it off the grounds. Not only that, but if his theory was correct, how would a troll even get into one of the upper corridors?
Harry frowned. Then what did it mean? He was thinking in circles.
"Trolls." He said. "Where have I…"
Harry paused. During third year, in a secret excursion to the seventh floor with Ron to find and prank Filch, they'd been passing through the corridor and Ron had said "Look at that! Some stupid git is trying to teach trolls how to dance."
In an instant Harry was on his feet. He knew where to go. He left the common room and headed for the seventh floor with haste. Just as he'd thought, the troll tapestry hung in the same place it had been during third year. However, he turned to find a dilemma. The tapestry faced an empty wall. Harry stared it down with fervor.
Now what? He said trolls guard the door. What door?
There was laughter in Harry's head.
Think, young wizard. Think.
The voice was much louder, confirmation that he was, in fact, close to reaching his goal. Harry paced along the corridor, looking for signs of hidden cracks, worn plaster or indentations. After the third time of combing the walls, he was getting frustrated. Another sound analysis of the bottom of the wall suddenly revealed the appearance of a door. Harry readied his wand and opened it cautiously. A cave beckoned. He entered.
The voice was corporeal now. Harry glanced back with alarm as the door shut abruptly, but turned to face the cave once more. "What about Merlin?" he asked curiously.
There were a great many chuckles from a darkened figure sitting on a slab of rock.
"What's so funny?" He demanded.
"The room of requirement appears to those who have need of it, young wizard. It brings to you the things you require. You desired to find me."
"You were the one calling to me," Harry countered, "You said we needed to speak. Where are you anyway? Who are you?"
When an answer didn't come, Harry muttered, "Oh for Merlin's sake, can't you just answer me?"
The laughter began again and suddenly a great shadow came over him. Harry was stunned as a dragon sat before him, smiling.
"You're a dragon," He said with awe, "and you can talk."
"Remarkable. Your powers of observation have not changed."
There was a stab of annoyance at that, but it was quickly pushed aside by confusion. "Have we met?" He asked. The familiarity had hit him again.
"When?" Harry asked. "How?"
The dragon had no intention of answering this question.
"Two days ago, you discovered a cup in the showcase." He began.
"The Charms Award?" Harry asked, noting the dragon's avoidance of his question.
The dragon tsked. "The Cup of Life," He corrected.
Harry's eyes narrowed. "The vision I saw - I remember thinking that. Do you know why I'm seeing them?"
There was a smile. "Yes. They are not visions, but memories - your memories, young warlock."
"Wizard." Harry corrected. He was slightly uneasy now. "And I don't understand. How could they be my memories? They seemed old, centuries old. I wouldn't have been born!"
The dragon shook his head. "It is too early."
"Too early for what?"
The dragon sighed. "But the old religion has decided. I cannot argue with this. It will have to be time."
"Time for what?" Harry asked, frustrated at the dragon's cryptic words. "Just give me an answer!"
The dragon could hardly help but chuckle at the boy's frustration. "Leave this room." He instructed. "The door will disappear. You will need to walk three times past the wall that held it. Think of your question carefully. You will find the answers you seek."
The dragon leaned in, his face so close that Harry had to step backward.
"Make sure you are ready. Once you choose this path, there is no going back."
The dragon disappeared back into the shadows, leaving Harry to return to the common room baffled and worried.
Harry had let the dragon's words sit for over a day. His warnings and cryptic answers had frightened the boy, and rightfully so. Harry wondered if he really wanted to know what the dragon sought to tell him. But by the second day of thinking about it, Harry was starting to go mad with curiosity, and those memories continued to dance inside his head.
"My memories…" he thought. "How?"
He'd spent hours pondering that question, and the only conclusion he could reach was that he'd been someone else before being Harry. It was a tough pill to swallow. Harry wasn't even sure he believed in reincarnation, but there was no other explanation.
Unless, of course, the dragon was lying. Dragons were notorious for telling riddles, tricking men. What if they weren't his memories at all, and the dragon was trying to make him vulnerable to Voldemort?
He shook that thought away as soon as it came. That strange familiarity came back, and with it trust. Somehow, he knew he could trust the dragon.
With a sigh he realized he was back to square one. Harry decided he'd had enough. He needed to know what the memories meant, who they belonged to. He couldn't keep sitting here driving himself mad with speculation.
It was with determination he headed to the seventh floor corridor to take the dragon's advice. Harry paced past the wall where the door had been before, his thoughts racing. He focused on his questions. The dragon said I'd done this before. He said he knows me. How? What does the dragon want me to know? Whose memories are these?
He froze as a realization hit him, causing an uneasy feeling in his gut. The dragon's first word when Harry had entered the cave had been Merlin. A nervous chill went up his spine as another question entered his head.
How does this relate to Merlin?
Harry turned to see that the door had indeed appeared, as the dragon promised, and reluctantly moved to open it. Inside was the Room of Hidden Things. Harry blinked in confusion. How was he meant to get an answer in here?
He shuffled along, looking for something, anything that might give him a clue to answering his question. Nothing looked particularly suspicious or useful.
"Dragons." He muttered with frustration. "This would be a lot easier if I knew what I was looking for."
Harry suddenly found himself tripping over a rope strung across some tables. The rope stretched behind a particularly high bookshelf, one which wasn't exceptionally sturdy. The whole thing began to fall on top of the wizard and he ducked next to a tall chest of drawers. The bookshelf came to an abrupt stop at the top of the chest, and Harry sighed with relief, just as a pile of fifty heavy books came toppling over him.
With exasperation he tossed the books off of him, hating the dragon more with each moment – that was until it caught his eye. It was an odd leather bound book - older than many of the books in the library, and Harry wondered why it was in here of all places.
He felt compelled to touch it - to open it - and could feel its influence in his brain like a toxin. All the magic he'd felt in the past few days, he could feel it brimming from here.
Harry pulled back, knowing that whatever this was, it was dangerous magic, but he could not pull his gaze away from the old tome. Something about it made him think of an old friend, reminded him of simple beginnings. When the first droplet hit the floor, Harry realized he was crying, and wiped away the tears in amazement and fear.
He made a decision: he had to open the book and get some answers. His hand reached out to touch the cover just as tendrils of gold began to cover him gently. It was warm, calming, a relief.
The book opened and shot out a forceful golden wind, tossing Harry's hair out of his face. The golden tendrils of light continued to cover him, beginning to sink into his skin. Harry's mind was telling him to panic, but he couldn't bring himself to fight something that felt so right. He felt it curving underneath, sinking into his core and encircling the strands of already present magic. It spread out from the strands to fill the void, circling down further, hitting the core of the magic Harry held within: magic he hadn't tapped into, magic he hadn't even considered yet. And it exploded into little pinpricks of fire. Harry saw his world turn to golden haze before everything faded to black.