Harry Potter and his New Beginning

Chapter 15: The Day Approaches...

Hello my loyal readers!

I know you have been waiting long for this chapter and I apologise for it taking so long. It feels like it was only a few weeks ago when I posted the last chapter, but then life gets away from you, you turn around twice and you realise its been about nine months! Again, I apologise!

I have recently started a Masters course at Durham University, which has restricted my time somewhat, but I wanted to get this chapter finished and to you before I got too busy! I will start working on the next chapter ASAP and I promise you it will not take as long to post as this one did!

I thank you for your patience and the many kind messages and reviews I received asking me to continue writing!

Anyway, I will stop waffling and let you read what you came to read!

Without further ado, I give you Chapter 15: The Day Approaches...

"Holy hell, Potter!" Oliver Wood exclaimed as he watched Harry pull out of a sheer dive onto the Quidditch pitch. "Where on earth did you learn to fly like that?!"

True to his promise made after the first Gryffindor game of the year, Oliver had dragged Harry down to the Quidditch pitch (not unwillingly) in the first weekend after Christmas so he could see his skill on a broom for himself. Though Harry tried to keep his skills garnered from five years of flying in the school games on the down low, he couldn't resist showing off a little bit to his old Quidditch Captain.

If it meant he could be a part of the Quidditch team again, he would flaunt his skill a little.

For the past hour, Wood had been running him through try-outs for every position on the team (including his own) to see what level Harry was at. It quickly became apparent to the Gryffindor Team Captain that Harry could play Chaser and Keeper fairly well and Beater extremely well. However, when it came to Seeker, Harry took to it like a duck to water…

…for obvious reasons.

At that moment, for example, he had just pulled off the Wronski Feint, one of the most difficult moves for a seeker to do, sending Wood into an excited frenzy. As he returned to a stable cruising height, Harry glanced down at Wood to see the wizard jumping around with a face like he was spitting hot quaffles.

"That was INCREDIBLE!" Wood laughed amazedly as Harry returned to the ground. "And you're telling me that you've never flown before this year?" Harry nodded happily.

"Yeah," he replied with a grin, "I was raised in the muggle world, so I never got the chance to learn." Wood shook his head in wonder.

"Bloody incredible," he muttered to himself, holding his forehead, "God, I wish I'd found you at the beginning of the year." He sighed tiredly. Harry frowned, a cold feeling settling in his stomach.

"Why?" Harry asked confusedly. "What's up?" Oliver shook his head.

"I already have all the spots on the team filled," he explained sadly, "and I can't and won't kick any of them off the team mid-season for no reason! None of them have done anything wrong and they are all playing fine," he sighed again, "just not well enough to get us the trophy." Harry looked downcast and slumped slightly.

"Oh," he said quietly, before adding hopefully, "well, what about next year?" Wood smiled and nodded.

"Next year, for sure," he agreed, "I'll run try-outs next year and bring you in as our new seeker," a sly look grew across his face, "as long as you play then like you did today." Harry grinned and nodded.

"You bet I will!" He replied.

After helping Oliver pack away the equipment, the two said their goodbyes and Harry walked over to the stands to meet his one spectator. As he approached what was the Gryffindor stand in game time, Hermione stood waiting next by the entrance, a smile on her face. Harry smiled back warmly and placed a kiss on her lips as he reached her.

"So how did it go?" She asked him, frowning slightly when his smile faded. "What's wrong, Harry?"

"Oliver couldn't have me on the team this year," Harry explained sadly, "said it was unfair to kick off another player mid-season when they've done nothing wrong. He's right, of course, but…" Hermione nodded sympathetically.

"You're disappointed." She finished for him and he nodded. "Well, what about the team next year?" The wizard brightened noticeably.

"I'll have to go through try-outs," Harry began, "but as long as I play like I did today, the place is mine!" Hermione beamed and pulled him into a hug.

"That's great!" She exclaimed. "I mean, I already knew you'd do well, but, you know…" he laughed and nodded.

"Yeah," he replied, before a look of thought grew across his face, "I should make use of the pitch to practice while I'm at school. Hmm, I'll need to get a broom…" Hermione laughed musically at his enthusiasm.

"What, starting practicing for next year already?" She questioned playfully. "And here I thought I was the one who liked to get started early!" Harry blushed in embarrassment and she laughed. "And you used to mock me for revising for the next year's exams well in advance!" He grinned and softly punched her shoulder teasingly.

"But it's Quidditch Hermione!" He exclaimed, sounding eerily like an old red headed friend of theirs. "It's much more important than school!"

They both shared a laugh before walking back up to the castle, walking hand in hand. After a few minutes of walking, however, Hermione sniffed a few times rather theatrically and wrinkled her nose at Harry.

"You, Mister Potter, need a shower," she announced, commenting on his athlete's stink. He quirked an eyebrow amusedly at the implication behind her statement.

"Is that an invitation, Miss Granger?" He questioned smoothly, giving her a wolfish grin. She blushed bright red in reply and he laughed.

However, a few seconds later, a large jet of water hit him in face and ended his laughter prematurely. As the spell ended, he shook his head and looked down at his utterly drenched and soaking body. His gaze soon snapped up, looking at her incredulously.

"Yes it was an invitation, Mister Potter," she said grinning, "and I'm glad to give you a good wash. Was your shower satisfactory?" Harry chuckled at her reply, before grinning evilly and drawing his own wand. Her eyes widened. "No! No, no, don't you dare." She said dangerously, though it was spoiled somewhat by a small smile curling at the edges of her mouth. Harry grinned at her, eyes sparkling mischievously.

"But Miss Granger," he protested teasingly, "I must return the favour!"

One quick spell later and Hermione squealed as she too was drenched in cold water. Shaking off the excess droplets, she narrowed a playful glare at Harry and brandished her wand once more. And so, their leisurely walk up to the castle turned into a feverish run as they took turns soaking each other on the way.

Needless to say, when they reached the common room, they were drenched to the bone.

The first few months of Harry and Hermione's second 1992 flew by in a blur. Events, classes, people, conversations all merged together as they shot by. This was mostly because, for the first time since they had travelled to the past, there wasn't much happening.

That isn't to say there weren't certain events occurring in this time that required attention, but nothing which the duo's reaction to had not been discussed and planned many months in advance. In fact, the last of their planning for the reliving of first year had been finished during the Christmas holidays, in their spare moments.

And so, events which had been significant in the original timeline, such as the first Quidditch match of the year between Hufflepuff and Gryffindor and the duo's discovery of Norbert the dragon, passed by with little marking them as special to the rest of the population of the school. Only Harry and Hermione knew the truth.

Originally, in the first game of 1992 Snape had offered to referee the game in lieu of Madam Hooch in order that he could protect Harry from another attempt on his life, as had happened in his first Quidditch game of the year. Interestingly, however, despite the fact Harry was not on the Quidditch team, in the new timeline Snape had yet again chosen to referee. For what reason he did this, Harry and Hermione couldn't be sure.

However, Harry did notice Snape occasionally glance up to the stands where he was sitting, with a flicker of…concern, perhaps? Maybe the reason was the same. He had been attacked late last year at a Quidditch game after all.

A far more significant event in the beginning of 1992 was Harry, Hermione and Ron's discovery of Hagrid's acquirement of a dragon egg and its subsequent hatching into Norbert (or Norberta, as they later came to discover) the dragon. They dealt with the dragon much in the same way they had originally, by contacting the dragon keepers at the reserve in Romania and organising a night time pickup of the infant dragon. However, this time around Harry and Hermione used a far greater degree of caution and subtlety in doing so.

"Hagrid, you know we're right," Hermione said, not unkindly, to the tearful giant, "you simply can't keep him here."

"He's a dragon, Hagrid," Harry chipped in, "and even if you manage to tame him, you won't be able to hide him. Once he gets big enough and word gets out, the Ministry will arrest you for illegal ownership."

Hagrid sniffed loudly, pulling a tea-towel sized handkerchief from one of his many pockets and blew his nose noisily. The gentle giant looked down at baby Norbert sadly, as the young dragon crooned up at him affectionately and bumped its head into one of his large fingers.

"Yer…yer right'," Hagrid sobbed as he scratched the head of the young dragon, which let out a nose of contentment, "he can't stay 'ere." His eyes grew wide with panic. "B-but wha' if the Ministry find out abou' 'im? They-they migh' kill 'im!"

"It's alright Hagrid," Harry said reassuringly, calming the man, "we've thought of that."

"We contacted the dragon reserve in Romania," Hermione continued, "and they have agreed to take Norbert. Better yet, they will help us sneak him out of the country without anyone knowing but us." Hagrid's eyes widened and a big, beaming smile grew across his face.

"Yeh…yeh did?" He asked in amazement, before sweeping the duo up in one of his crushing hugs. "Yer bleedin' brilliant, you two! Thank yer so much!" Harry and Hermione grinned as the giant seemingly tried his best to break their bones, hugging him back.

"Don't worry about it Hagrid," Harry said with a smile, "what are friends for?" Hagrid smiled happily and dried his eyes on his handkerchief.

"Thank yer, you two!" He said again unnecessarily, as he stuffed his hankie away. "So when are they comin' to take 'im?" The smiles left Harry and Hermione's faces.

"Tonight," Hermione said softly, wincing when she saw his smile fade, "we're sorry Hagrid, we know you wanted to spend time with Norbert, but if he is going to get out of here safely it needs to be done as soon as possible." Hagrid sniffed again, but he nodded.

"Yer right' 'ermione," he said sadly, "are yeh gonna take 'im now?" They nodded and he sighed tiredly. "Alrigh'…well lemme get you a cage," as he went to turn away, he looked back to Norbert and smiled tearfully, "goodbye Norbie…I'll…" he sniffed, "…miss yeh."

Turning away to the back of his hut, so absorbed in his sadness at saying goodbye to his baby Norbert, Hagrid didn't see when a white spell hit his back, nor was he aware when his mind blanked and his eyes turned glassy. Harry sighed and shook his head.

"I hate using that spell," Harry sighed, before looking to Hagrid, who had not moved, "I've removed his memories of Norberta, Hermione, right up to when he won the egg." Hermione nodded in understanding.

"Alright Harry," she began softly, "and I know you do. But you know what Hagrid will do, don't you? He will go down to the Three Broomsticks, get drunk and tell anyone who listens about having to give up his dragon." Harry nodded.

"I know," he said sadly, "but it seems unfair to remove his memories of Norberta. Hagrid really cared about her."

"It's for the best," Hermione said, pulling Harry into a warm hug. She held him for a few seconds, before pulling away and casting a sleeping spell on the infant dragon, who swayed on her feet for a second before lying down and falling asleep. "There we go. She should be fine to be transported now." Harry nodded before turning back to Hagrid.

"Hagrid," Harry commanded, "you will go to bed and sleep until tomorrow with no memory of what has transpired tonight." The zombie like Hagrid gave no response but simply shuffled to his bed and collapsing onto it, beginning to snore almost immediately.

With that done, Harry extinguished the fire and all of the lamps while Hermione carefully placed Norberta into the cage Hagrid had been going to retrieve. Ducking underneath Harry's cloak, the duo left the cabin, locking it behind them and heading off into the castle.

Unlike the original timeline, they had not written to Charlie Weasley regarding the young dragon, mostly due to the fact that they were unsure where the rest of the Weasley family stood in regards to the recent bad blood between their families. Instead, Harry decided to contact Director Ragnok at Gringotts, who in turn provided a group of wizard agents who would meet them outside Hogsmeade. They would smuggle Norberta out of the country and to the dragon reserve in Romania.

Quickly, Harry and Hermione made it through the castle, using the Marauder's Map to avoid Filch, Mrs Norris and several teachers and prefects who happened to be patrolling, soon standing outside the statue of Gregory the Smarmy. Carefully slipping inside the hidden passage, they swiftly made their way through to its end.

According to Fred and George (from a conversation Harry had with them in the original timeline) they had discovered this passage in their first week at Hogwarts, before 'liberating' the Marauder's Map from Filch's office. The tunnel in question led to Hogsmeade, just as the passage behind the One-Eyed Witch statue did.

However, this tunnel led to the outskirts of the village, along the road the students walked to and from the castle. This was why it had never seen much use by Harry when he snuck to Hogsmeade in the previous timeline. It still required him to walk along the road into the village where he might have been spotted, unlike the One-Eyed Witch which took him straight into Honeydukes, one of the shops he most often visited.

Soon Harry and Hermione reached the end of the passageway and emerged into the frigid Scottish night air. It didn't take them long to spot the small group of people stood on the outskirts of the village, trying not to draw attention. Approaching invisibly, they made note of the Gringotts emblems on their uniforms. They were certain they were the right people, but just in case, they had their wands ready. Just before they revealed themselves, Harry grinned at Hermione before whispering.

"We're here."

The five men jumped visibly and drew their wands in panic, before Harry and Hermione unveiled themselves, chuckling at their reactions. The men quickly calmed down and stared in shock at the item which had allowed them to get so close.

"Is that an invisibility cloak?" One of the wizards asked in amazement. "Merlin, I've never seen one before!"

"I'm going to ignore the joke there," Harry laughed quietly, "are you the people from Gringotts?" They nodded.

"Yeah," another one replied, "and it take it you are the Bank's important client with a…" he paused, looking around, "shall we say, sensitive package?" Harry nodded.

"That's right," he said, holding the cage out in front of him, "here she is." The men stared at the cage for a few seconds before their eyes widened.

"Holy shit," one exclaimed, "is that a…"

"Shut the hell up!" Another hissed angrily, glaring at the one who had spoken. "Do you want us to get caught?" The wizard turned pale and shrunk into himself. "Sorry about that Sir, he's new." Harry nodded in understanding.

"It's alright," he replied, handing the wizard the cage holding the sleeping Norberta, "she is under a sleeping spell but it might need re-casting at some point." The wizard nodded, taking a hold of the cage.

"Understood," he replied, looking down at the creature. "By the way, the Director told me to wish you the best and to thank you for trusting him with such a…delicate matter." Harry grinned and nodded.

"Very well," he replied, "I'll be sure to thank him in my next letter." The wizard nodded before the small group gathered together and quickly vanished in the tell-tale blue flash of a portkey. "Well," Harry said after a moment, "at least that's one problem dealt with."

"Yes," Hermione said worriedly, "but I hope Norberta will get there ok." Harry smiled before draping the cloak over the two of them and beginning the journey back to the castle.

"She will be fine Hermione," Harry replied reassuringly, "Ragnok wouldn't have sent them if they didn't know what they were doing. Norberta will be in Romania by tomorrow, safe and sound, around fellow dragons." Hermione nodded leant her head on his shoulder before they walked through the passage to the castle in silence.

And so, time passed rather quickly. There was no immediate crisis to be dealt with and so Harry and Hermione fell into a comfortable rhythm as the days went by. The only matter which remained on their thoughts was the Philosopher's Stone. Riddle and Quirrell were still biding their time, making no move to try and secure the stone, and so, to their surprise, was the mystery thief. The duo received an occasional report from Lady Hogwarts regarding the man's activities, but they never had much information. The man was clearly a very well-practiced individual, never leaving anything that could give them any information.

Whilst he was in the castle the man was a ghost.

However, for the time being, the stone was safe. Both parties were evidently waiting for a window of opportunity to present itself before acting. A window that Harry and Hermione knew would come on the 4th of June. The day that Albus Dumbledore, the one wizard people feared and respected more than any other, left the school to fly to the Ministry of Magic.

It had only been coming back to the past that had shown Harry how so many of his adventures had been caused by ridiculous and seemingly spontaneous events. Why would a wizard, so supposedly intelligent and well versed in magic, decide to fly all the way to London on a broomstick? The duo knew from personal experience in their original fifth year that the journey took a great many hours and was not comfortable.

Dumbledore had an active floo (the only active floo which allowed floo travel outside the castle) in his office, but even if that failed, he could have easily walked to Hogsmeade and used one of theirs. Furthermore, he could have easily apparated or made a portkey to the Ministry or at least to Diagon Alley.

And what was the terribly important matter that would drag the Chief Warlock down to London at the very early hours of the morning? They had been told afterwards that it had been a false message luring the Headmaster from the castle, but what could have possibly been written to encourage him to leave so urgently? The answer? Nothing. There was nothing that would have fooled the man into taking such a stupid action. It should never have happened and had Dumbledore been truly innocent in the affair it wouldn't have.

It was amazing how ludicrous the entire thing was.

It struck Harry, when he thought back to it, how much it stank of a setup. Looking at it now from his mentally older (and far more cynical) mind, it could be nothing else but a test for Harry. Perhaps making sure that he was progressing as the Headmaster wanted? Becoming the type of person who would willingly sacrifice his life for others?

Even the tasks had been constructed due to the Headmaster's observations of him and his friends. There was a task for each one of his friends that Dumbledore thought might come with him: Hermione, Ron, and Neville. Fluffy's weakness had been discovered in their questioning of Hagrid, gaining them passage. The devil's snare was a test for Neville, a wizard proficient at Herbology, who would have deduced what it was instantly. The room of keys was a test for Harry, due to his being seeker. The chessboard was the perfect test for Ron to defeat, being one of the few things he was truly good at. The puzzle with the potions and the fire was perfect for Hermione, who excelled with logic puzzles. Harry had even been introduced to the mirror of Erised, which would coincidentally be in the final room and contain the stone that Harry had been lured into wanting to protect.

The troll room was the only one that had not been chosen specifically, because it would have been impossible for Dumbledore to change it without Quirrell and subsequently Riddle, becoming aware of his plans. However, he no doubt assumed that since Harry had already defeated a troll on Halloween, a second wouldn't be too difficult.

However, Harry and Hermione knew that it no longer mattered. The carefully constructed path they were meant to follow to lead them into saving the stone had been broken. So many things had not gone as Dumbledore had planned and he had evidently been unable to reconstruct them in time.

Dumbledore, for his part, had been extremely quiet since Christmas. There had been no more attempts to place Harry back under his control, nor had he attempted to communicate with him. Other than occasionally glancing at Harry with an expression of curiosity, worry and anger during feasts, there was no sign of any activity.

Neville, Draco and Susan thought this might mean he had given up on controlling Harry.

Harry and Hermione knew better.

No, the old wizard was biding his time, just like Riddle and the thief. Dumbledore was awaiting an opportunity to regain control and they knew it. He was not a man to give up at the first difficulty. At the moment, he was no doubt working on damage control. They had thrown a lot at him with knowledge Harry's abuse, the sealing of the Potter will and other irregularities going public. He needed to stay quiet, let the storm blow over, before trying again. They had at least bought themselves some time.

Time they needed to use well. The knowledge imparted to them by Amanda, Death and Mania, regarding the chaotic timeline had shown Harry and Hermione that soon, their advantage would be gone. The timeline was beginning to change far beyond the boundaries of the original. They needed to act.

Harry and Hermione had already agreed to use the summer retrieving as many of the horcruxes outside Hogwarts as they could, before their knowledge became useless. They would retrieve the diadem before the end of the year and smuggle it out of the castle to be destroyed by the Goblins. However, this was not the only change the duo had decided upon.

The time had come to begin training for the war that was on the horizon. While Harry and Hermione were a good deal ahead of their friends in their magical knowledge and combat skills, they were still nowhere near ready. If they were to have a chance against Riddle without the help of Dumbledore or the Order, they would need to begin to train.

And so, three weeks after they had started back at school, Harry and Hermione asked their three friends to meet them that evening in the Room of Requirement. It was time for them to revisit their fifth year's greatest triumph.

Harry and Hermione arrived at the seventh floor corridor early, as they had planned, and after making sure that there was no one nearby who shouldn't be with the Marauder's Map, Hermione paced before the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy and summoned the Room of Requirement. They quickly went inside and studied the map together, waiting for their friends to arrive.

Soon, they were able to pick up the three dots heading towards them from three different locations. Susan was the first to arrive, entering the room surreptitiously while making sure that she wasn't followed. Neville appeared second, knocking on the door quietly before entering. Draco meanwhile had been forced to take a detour, since he was being trailed, as they could all see on the map, by the three Slytherins Nott, Crabbe, and Goyle.

They were not being subtle.

Draco led the three of them on a merry goose chase around the castle, much to the amusement of his friends watching on the Marauder's Map. Eventually, Draco was able to evade his pursuers by hiding in a broom cupboard until they had passed by. And so it was about ten minutes after he had left the Slytherin common room, Draco arrived in the Room, red faced and tired.

"Sorry I took so long," he said panted, "had to ditch some unwanted baggage."

"It's alright," Susan giggled, "we saw." She pointed at the map and Draco's eyes widened before he laughed.

"Well I'm glad I could entertain you Susan," he chuckled, before looking at the map with interest, "so where did they end up?"

Nott, Crabbe and Goyle had actually stopped their pursuit outside the abandoned girl's bathroom on the third floor, perhaps wondering if Draco had taken refuge inside. After Theo had tentatively entered the room, his pseudo bodyguards in tow, they quickly exited again upon being confronted with Moaning Myrtle.

The five friends didn't know what was said but by the way the three of them were running off down the corridor, it was clear that Myrtle had given them a dose of her infamous charm. Watching the three Slytherins race back to their common room gave them all a good laugh, before they remembered why in fact they were there.

"So Harry," Neville began, speaking for the three of them, "why did you want us to meet you?"

Harry threw a brief glance at Hermione, who smiled at him encouragingly, making him smile back in return. With a deep breath, a look of confidence grew across Harry's face and he grinned at his three friends.

"Do you remember, in my memories," he said, not directly answering his question, "the group called the DA?" They all nodded, slightly confused.

"Yeah," Susan replied, "that was the group you started to help teach us how to fight and defend ourselves properly." Neville nodded.

"When that Umbridge woman wouldn't teach us anything useful," Neville added, showing his distaste for a woman he knew only from Harry's future memories.

"Exactly!" Harry exclaimed. "Well, Hermione and I had a talk and we decided that since we have brought you in on our secret…"

"…that we should start training you how to fight now." Hermione finished.

Neville, Susan and Draco's eyes widened in shock, before their faces became excited and their smiles grew. For them, this signified another step in Harry and Hermione coming to rely on them in an official capacity.

As the duo stood, Harry and Hermione had all their memories they had accumulated over their previous life, plus their experiences in beginning their wartime preparations early in this new timeline. They were rather formidable and could easily hold their own in a battle against a decent number of death eaters.

The three of them, meanwhile, were only first years. They had no magical combat knowledge to speak of – in order for them to be able to help Harry and Hermione in the future that had to change. It seemed that they had decided that time was now.

"Great!" Neville exclaimed, his excitement showing. "What are you gonna teach us?" The duo grinned.

"Everything." Was Harry's simple reply. "Everything we know and more, once we get to grips with it ourselves." His face turned grim. "We need to be ready. In our fifth year, after the DA, we were all able to hold our own against the death eaters in the ministry. But we still struggled. Some of us were injured…and Sirius paid the price for that." A brief haunted look came over Harry but he bounced back quickly. "Not this time. This time…we are going to be ready." Hermione nodded.

"We will train in secret," she said, taking over, "here in the ROR. No one, and I mean no one that we don't trust is to know about the DA. In the future, we will probably bring more people in on the DA, once we are certain about them…"

"…such as the Twins," Harry added, receiving a nod from Hermione.

Despite some members of the Weasley family's duplicity, Harry was certain that Fred and George could be trusted. However, Harry and Hermione had agreed to focus on their three friends first, getting them up to speed, before moving on and including others into their small circle of trusted allies.

"…but for the time being," Hermione continued, "it will be just us. Ok?" Neville and Susan nodded but Draco looked hesitant.

"Are…are you sure you want me here?" He asked Harry unsurely. "I mean…I wasn't a part of this last time…" Harry shook his head.

"No you weren't," he agreed, "but you are now." He walked over and put a hand on Draco's shoulder. "You are one of us now Draco," he said seriously, before grinning, "whether you like it or not!" Draco chuckled and his smile came back.

"So," Susan said after Draco had been reassured, "when do we start?" Harry and Hermione grinned and drew their wands.

"Right about…now!" Harry laughed. "Get your wands out and let's get going!" The trio quickly pulled out their wands and stood ready. "Hmm, what should we start with?" He muttered, looking to Hermione.

"Protego?" She replied with a shrug. Harry nodded.

"Protego!" He said in agreement.

The duo walked further into the ROR, silently asking the room to change to a suitable spell casting area. The walls and floor were covered with bright purple cushioned mats and there were dummy targets lined up on the far wall. There was even a basic duelling arena, though they would not be needing that just yet.

"Right," Harry began, getting into his stride, "the Protego Charm is one of the most basic shield spells, but also one of the most useful. It is capable of deflecting minor jinxes and curses but is also capable of stopping some more of the nastier dark curses that you will encounter fighting death eaters." Hermione took over seamlessly.

"The strength of the spell depends on the magical strength of the caster," Hermione continued, "the amount of magic pushed into the spell, the variation of the spell used, and the strength of the spell it is being used to protect you from." Harry nodded.

"Now," Harry taking his turn, "while this spell does require a wand movement and incantation for beginners, as you become more adept at casting the spell, you will be able to disregard the wand movement entirely and, as you become more advanced at its usage, you may even be able to cast it silently."

"The wand movement for the spell," Hermione said, holding up her own wand, "is a downward slash, like so," she proceeded to demonstrate, "and the incantation is pro-TAY-goh. Alright?" The three nodded. Harry smiled and turned to Hermione.

"If Hermione is willing," Harry began, "she will show you how to accurately cast the spell, while I throw an offensive spell at her." Hermione nodded in agreement.

That set the tone for the subsequent DA sessions to follow. A crash course in basic combat magic, taking their three friends though a fighting magical's bread and butter spells. Despite the need to learn as much as they could as quickly as they could, Harry and Hermione remained aware of the fact that they were all first years.

There was a reason why Hogwarts staggers the learning of spells.

As they grew older, their magic would grow stronger, the most significant changes in power coming during puberty. Harry and Hermione had the minds of seventeen and eighteen year olds, but their bodies were only eleven and twelve. While they had the knowledge to cast higher power level spells, such as the Patronus, they would not be able to keep casting them effectively for long.

They were powerful for their age, but not that powerful.

So Harry and Hermione would stagger all their learning in the DA over the next few years to prevent any injuries or magical exhaustion. If either occurred, then they would have to go to Madam Pomfrey and that would raise questions. Their greatest ally was secrecy. At least for the moment anyway.

And so as the days, weeks and months rolled by, Draco, Neville and Susan learned more than they would have in DADA for two years. Still only basic combat spells, but they were beginning to dip their toes into more advanced spellwork. But as they continued to learn, the year was drawing ever closer to the event Harry and Hermione had been waiting for.

And so it was that on Sunday 31st May, three very different, yet oddly similar conversations were taking place in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, completely unaware of each other. Events were moving to a close and the slow tedium of the year was at an end.

After a hard few hours training in the Room of Requirement, the five friends lounged together in the Gryffindor common room. As they chatted quietly and warmed themselves in front of the fire, Harry, deep in thought, suddenly shivered with no explanation, drawing the attention of those who were sat around him.

"Harry," Susan began, giving the wizard a look of concern, "are you alright? You look rather preoccupied." He snapped out of his thoughts and smiled at her worrying, letting out a quiet chuckle.

"I'm alright Susan," Harry said after a moment, "but thanks for asking." He received a look from the four of them that told Harry they clearly didn't buy it. He sighed in reply. "Look, I'm just…a bit worried about next week."

"What's next week?" Neville asked confusedly.

"It's the first week in June," Harry replied grimly, "and on Thursday Quirrell goes after the stone. Well, at least, he did." Neville, Susan and Draco's eyes widened and they made similar 'oh' expressions.

"Do you think it will happen the same way?" Draco asked curiously. "I mean, what about this new thief that Lady Hogwarts told you about?" Harry glanced at Hermione and they shared a look of anxiety.

"I honestly don't know if or how it will change," Harry replied quietly, "but I am fairly sure it will happen on Thursday. I just have…" he paused, "I don't know, a feeling." He shivered again involuntarily. "When Dumbledore leaves the castle, they will make their move." Harry looked up again at Hermione. "But I wonder…who will get there first? Riddle, the thief, or us?" Hermione shook her head.

"I don't know," she replied, moving to sit down on the same chair as him, "but I do know we have done all we could, without risking changing too much." She sighed and leant into Harry, who wrapped his arms around her. "Let us hope that the chaos will not affect the event too much." Harry nodded and they all fell silent in contemplation.

Meanwhile, in another part of the castle, a wizard moved swiftly through the school. Stalking down the corridor to his classroom, Professor Quirinus Quirrell threw paranoid glances left and right, making sure no one was nearby. His eyes narrowed and he became silent and unmoving, listening for the sounds of breathing or soft footfalls on the stone flagged floor.

He could not be disturbed this night by anyone.

The wizard relished any opportunity to drop the terrified, timid and trembling demeanour he had crafted as a disguise. It disgusted him to act like such a fool, but he knew it was necessary. If any of the students or staff saw him acting in such an uncharacteristic manner, it would raise questions and suspicions that could prove disastrous.

Not now. Not now his master was so close to his rebirth.

After a few minutes, Quirrell was satisfied that he was alone and would remain that way, and so he swept into his classroom, sealing the door behind him and casting a plethora of secrecy and anti-surveillance charms. Standing still for a moment in silence, he then began to unwrap his purple turban, carefully allowing the material to fall to the ground.

"Master?" Quirrell called, relinquishing a semblance of control of his body.

"The time is coming Quirinus," Voldemort hissed from his position on the back of Quirrell's head, "all preparations have been made for the beginning of my rebirth. Once we have the Philosopher's Stone, I will be able to restore my old form and regain my power."

"Yes my lord," Quirrell replied excitedly, "and the war against the filth and blood traitors will begin again!" Voldemort chuckled quietly to himself, hearing the eagerness in his servant's voice.

"In time Quirinus," he whispered softly, "in time. And you, my faithful servant, will be well rewarded for your service to your lord." A feeling of glee and pride surged up in Quirrell's chest and a smile bloomed on his face.

"Thank you my lord," the wizard exclaimed, "you are too generous!"

"I reward those who serve me well, Quirinus," the dark lord hissed, "remember that. We make our move on the stone this coming Thursday. Soon the world will be reminded why they still fear my name!"

The chamber was filled with a disturbingly chilling laugh, making Quirrell let out an irrepressible shiver. The sound, however, did not penetrate the walls of the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom, and so the residents of the castle slept on.

Elsewhere that night, on the chilly grounds of the castle, the other prospective thief was stood staring up at the towering grey battlements of Hogwarts, a wide smile growing beneath the mask covering his face. It wouldn't be long now. He could almost hear it, calling out to him from within the castle. The greatest prize in existence!

The Philosopher's Stone…the master thief's Holy Grail…

"So close," he murmured excitedly in a gravelly cockney burr, "we're so close I can almost grasp it!" His hand reached out and closed around nothing but air. His hand dropped back to his side and he chuckled. "Not long now."

The cloaked figure remained silent for a moment, staring up at the castle, before a quiet buzz from his pocket drew him out of his reverie. He quickly produced a small mirror and held it up in front of his face, watching as a familiar face appeared on its surface.

"Hello Grey," came a young sounding, light southern English accented voice, "are you still 'casing the joint', as they say in your parlance?"

"Of course," came the cheerful retort, "I never do a job half arsed, you know that." The person in the mirror nodded.

"Yes, yes, I know," he replied with a smile, "forgive me for being curious."

"S'alright," Grey replied, "was there something you wanted?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact," the person said, "I just wanted to check how the new gear was working out. Any complaints?" Grey scoffed.

"Are you kidding me?" He asked rhetorically, looking over his armour and tools. "This lot makes my old gear look like shite!" A quiet laugh came from the mirror.

"I'm glad you like it," he said with a grin, "just try not to damage it, alright?" Grey rolled his eyes.

"As if I would!" He exclaimed, feigning insult. "I'm still impressed you're actually trusting me with this lot." The individual in the mirror let out a murmur of agreement.

"Yes, well…just take it as…an investment in my faith that you will succeed." The person replied after a moment of thought. "If you pull this off, we will be set for life!" Grey grinned.

"If?" He asked amusedly.

"Things could still go wrong," he warned, grim faced, "luck might not be on our side. You did say you thought someone else might be after the stone, after all."

"I'm almost certain of it." Grey replied, losing some of his excitement. "I'm not the only one who has been casing the corridor." Quick as a flash, the smile reappeared. "But you forget Partner, Lady Luck is ALWAYS on my side," Grey replied confidently, "trust me – come this Thursday, the stone will be ours and long gone from here." The smile returned on the face of the person on the mirror.

"I hope you're right…Partner."

With that, the image in the mirror faded away till all that was left was a reflection of Grey's masked face. Returning the item to his pocket, he took another good, long look up at the castle walls, a smile growing across his face.

"You can't protect it anymore Dumbledore," he muttered, "the Philosopher's Stone will be in my hands come Thursday…I swear it!"

The masked man let out a deep, throaty laugh, safe in the knowledge that no one could hear him or see him. With one last forlorn and hopeful look to the fortress, he aimed his hand at the ground and was swallowed up by the earth. Grey would be back very soon.

Three groups were going after the stone.

The first wanted to use its power for evil. The second wanted it for profit. The third only wanted to protect it from the other two. And so, as Harry climbed into his bed that night and began to fall asleep, one thought came to the forefront of his mind.

'I have a bad feeling about Thursday.'

And there we are! Chapter 15!

I honestly can't believe I've gotten this far with this story! It's inching forwards slowly but surely!

I published this story three years ago and I still haven't reached the end of first year yet! That will be coming in the next...two chapters, maybe? Yes, two chapters should take us to the end of the year!

Then I have to decide whether to mark this story as complete and start another one continuing on, or just continue on from this one!

Anyway, I'll stop waffling again! Thanks for reading! Again, I appreciate all reviews, constructive criticism, and all that jazz!

This is the Quill, signing off!