Chapter 1

Harry Potter is not what Dumbledore expected. The first years file into the Great Hall, all fidgeting nervously or hiding behind laughably transparent facades of bravado. He scans them for the tell-tale head of wild black hair and finds it next to a blonde girl who looks slightly green as her eyes flit over the sea of watching students. The boy in question is apparently oblivious to all the attention as he gesticulates wildly, trying to convey some sort of point, emerald eyes fixed earnestly on the distracted girl.

Dumbledore's lips twitch, trying not to smile, when Harry tugs impatiently on the blonde girl's arm to regain her attention. They go on like this, only pausing respectfully to listen to the Sorting Hat's song, until McGonagall calls out, "Perks, Sally-Anne," and Harry nods encouragingly to the girl who is so pale Dumbledore worries she might faint. Instead she musters a sickly looking smile for her new friend and steps forward.

"HUFFLEPUFF!" the hat shouts and then it is Harry's turn.

He is the complete opposite to Sally-Anne as he strides towards the hat with anticipation glinting in his green eyes and confidence ringing in every step. Dumbledore hears Snape growl, "Arrogant. Just like his father," but the old man only smiles, relieved that his fears were unfounded.

Harry's sorting is the longest yet but finally the Hat shouts, "GRYFFINDOR!" and Harry beams hugely, tipping the hat to the roars of approval from the red and gold table. As he makes his way down the hall Dumbledore sees him catch Sally-Anne's eye and wink at the small girl who grins back, looking very much relieved to be surrounded by her new housemates and finally out of the spotlight.

Harry Potter is exactly what Snape expected. He dices his lacewings with careless ease, chattering on all the while to a stoic Theodore Nott. An arrogant, disrespectful and naturally talented troublemaker, just like his father.

"Silence, Potter," Snape barks with undisguised vitriol.

"Yes Professor," Harry says, rolling his green eyes good-naturedly in a gesture so familiar to Snape that suddenly he can't breathe. "...Professor?" Harry says enquiringly and Snape realises he's been caught staring.

"It's nothing," Snape says harshly.

"Alright," Harry says, giving him an uncertain smile – Lily's smile – before turning back to his potion.

The rest of the lesson passes in a blur. Snape can't keep his eyes away from Harry, though he hides it better now, seeing Lily in the elegant tilt of his wrist as he stirs his potion, his quick mood swings – going from mock outrage to exaggerated sulking to uproarious laughter in seconds – and in the effortless way he draws spans the divide between his own house – Lily's house – and Snape's old one.

It is certainly the most boisterous class the dungeon has seen in years. It is probably also the least amount of points Gryffindor has lost in one of his classes. If they had ever had a class with him before, there is no question that they would have known Snape was not himself. As it was...

"I should have known the twins were lying about Snape being a horrible git after the Sorting Hat," he hears Ronald Weasley complain as the first years leave the classroom. When the last of them are gone Snape shuts the door with a wave of his wand and sits down heavily, looking at his shaking hands with detached fascination. He lets out a slow breath and closes his eyes.

Harry Potter is not what Snape expected.

The twins are sitting facing one another on the armrests of a squishy chair tucked in the back corner of the common room, furthest away from the fire. Their fiery orange heads are bent together over several rolls of paper and open books which they reference every now and then as they debate enthusiastically in hushed whispers.

"Excuse me," Harry says.

The twins whip around in surprise, hastily shoving their work behind them as they tumble off the armchair and stand side by side before it to shield it from sight. "Harry Potter," one of them says grandly.

"To what do we owe the honour?" the other finishes.

"Er, well, I heard that we're not allowed to use magic during the summer holidays and, um, I was wondering if you two knew a way to get around that?" the first year says somewhat sheepishly.

"Not even been here a week-"

"And already breaking rules?"

"We're so proud!"

"Unfortunately," and here they grimace in unison.

"We don't in fact know-"

"A way to get around that particular rule."

"Oh," Harry says disappointedly. "Do you know anyone that does then? Or anything about how I could find a way to do it?"

"We can't say that's something-"

"We've had a chance to explore just yet-"

"If you do discover anything-"

"We'd be most interested to hear about it though."

Harry shrugs, "Of course. I'm definitely going to give it a crack; it's no trouble to keep you updated."

"Excellent!" they beam.

"Sorry we couldn't be more help-"

"But please don't let that deter you-"

"From the glorious path of the rule-breaker-"

"And feel free to come to us-"

"If you ever need help hexing a Slytherin-"

"Obtaining banned goods at reasonable prices-"

"Or even pranking our prat of a brother – either of them."

"Right," Harry says with a grin. "I'll definitely be taking you up on that."

"Interesting chap, that one," Fred says to his twin as Harry wanders off.

"Not what we imagined the Saviour to be," George says thoughtfully.

"Thought he'd be taller," Fred agrees.

It starts as an ordinary day. Harry waltzes into the Great Hall in the morning to find Ron staring at the front page of the Daily Prophet and plops down in the seat next to him.

"Morning Ron. What's the news?" he says cheerfully, helping himself to some bacon.

Ron doesn't say anything.

"Ron?" Harry says. The redhead still doesn't respond so Harry turns to ask someone what's up with him only to find the Great Hall nearly empty. He looks up at the clock above the doors and grimaces, "Hey Ron, we've got to go to class. Oi, Ron, did you hear me?" Frowning, he plucks the newspaper from Ron's numb fingers.

In big, bold letters the headline reads: SIRIUS BLACK SPOTTED IN ENGLAND! He flips through the rest of the paper – pausing at an article that reads: BREAK IN AT GRINGOTTS! – and then tosses it onto the table.

"Huh," Harry says. He stands up and grabs a piece of toast, "Hey Ron, you know transfiguration started five minutes ago, right?"

That gets Ron's attention. "Wha—oh crap!"

They run, and make it to the transfiguration classroom within two minutes. Ron bursts through the door first, white-faced and with apologies already spilling from his lips. Harry follows somewhat more decorously, ready to back him up with the impish smile and cheeky excuses that he knows reminds McGonagall of his father, who was apparently a favourite.

But before they can perform this much-refined routine, the stern professor gives Harry an understanding look and says, "Get to your seats, boys. Quickly, now. You've disturbed the class quite enough already."

Harry blinks – that was about the last reaction he was expecting – but Ron tugs on his arm and they hurriedly slink into the closest desks, trying not to draw attention to themselves, while their classmates shamelessly turn around in their seats to stare at Harry with expressions ranging from curiosity to pity.

When McGonagall finally regains control of the class, Harry turns to Ron and hisses, "What was all that about?"

It's Oliver Wood's first year as Quiddich captain and while he's determined to whip the Gryffindor team into the best shape they can get, he's not expecting anything amazing. Nearly half their players left last year and while he's got faith in his ability as both Keeper and Captain, he knows he's no coach. Still, he'll do his best.

The day of tryouts dawns and Wood is jittery with anticipation. When Angelina informs him there's a first year trying out for the team his is slightly sceptical. When he hears it is Harry Potter he worries that the boy will try to use his status to get a place. When he sees him outfly the competition by miles on an old Comet 220 borrowed from the school broom shed he is ecstatic.

Aside from the seeker, they've got two new chasers – Alicia Spinnet, who was a reserve the previous year, and a second year called Katie Bell. They've got the raw talent, now all they just need the training. And Wood is determined to provide it.

Hermione is thrilled to find that there is a first year (and in Gryffindor no less!) who spends almost as much time as she does in library. She thinks that perhaps this is her second chance to be friends with Harry Potter who looked rather put off when she informed him on the train that she had read all about him. When she reflects on it she thinks that she would be mildly disturbed to learn someone had read all about her too.

Determined not to botch up this fortuitous opportunity, Hermione decides to observe Harry before approaching him. She learns (by checking the books he leaves behind) that he is studying a combination of ancient runes, Magical Law, enchanting, binding, wards and advanced magical detection. Feeling slightly inadequate in light of his broad and highly ambitious self-study topics, Hermione quickly reads up on everything she can find on all of these subjects.

After a month she reluctantly decides that perhaps she set herself too high a goal and settles for a basic grounding in each of these topics. It takes another month before she can say she has successfully reached this point. Another two weeks is spent dithering over how to approach him. Eventually she decides on—

"Excuse me, I was just translating these runes," and Hermione shoves a book under his nose, "But this one," she stabs her finger at the offending rune, "Has me completely stumped. You wouldn't happen to recognise it would you?"

"Um," Harry says slowly as he looks at her rather uncomprehendingly, "Ancient Runes only starts in third year so you'd be best off trying one of the older students."

"Ah. Right," Hermione says and flees the library, completely mortified.

Later that day Harry will come up to her and say, "Hermione, I'm trying to... uh, that is, I'm working on this project that involves runes but I don't know a single thing about—"

"I'd love to help!"

Ron isn't surprised by the giant pile of Christmas presents that Harry receives. Harry is friends with everyone; Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, even Slytherin (although they seem to be warily polite rather than friendly towards him) and not just the first years, a healthy amount of second years and even a few third years are on good terms with him. Granted, they probably only got him presents because he's the Boy Who Lived but they wouldn't have gone that far without having any relationship with him. So no, Ron is not surprised.

Harry on the other hand wakes up slowly, blinking his eyes several times to clear them of sleep and then yawning contentedly. He stretches and then sits up and Ron sees the exact moment he registers that the presents at the foot of his bed are for him because his jaw drops and his eyes bug and he makes a noise that Ron can't even begin to decipher.

"Merry Christmas Harry," the redhead says dryly, much more coherent than his friend having woken a good half hour earlier.

"I-I got presents!" Harry says sounding stunned. "Would you look at that? I got a whole pile of 'em! Oh, Merry Christmas to you too Ron," he adds belatedly. "Oh. Oh. Presents! I didn't get anyone presents!"

"Er, are you alright, Harry? Is this some weird muggle thing?"

Harry laughs, "Not exactly. More of a Dursley thing. I celebrate Christmas by cleaning up after them and cooking special Christmas meals for them... Ah, what am I doing? I'm a terrible friend. Everyone's been so nice and I didn't even think of buying them presents."

"Don't worry about it," Ron says through a mouthful of chocolate frog that he got from one of his brothers, "Just explain; they'll understand." Harry still looks guilty so he says, "Or make sure you get us really awesome birthday presents to make up for it."

Hagrid knows (all too well) the laws about owning dragons, which is why he doesn't tell anyone when he acquires a dragon egg. It's only bad luck that Harry Potter never knocks when he comes to visit.

"Hagrid!" Harry calls exuberantly as he bounces in the door, "There you are! I haven't seen you around much lately so I thought I'd—is that a dragon egg?"

"Ah," says Hagrid, fiddling nervously with his beard, "That's er..."

"Wicked," Harry breathes, crouching over the fire to get a better look.


Harry doesn't appear to notice his surprise, "What kind is it?"

"A Norwegian Ridgeback. They're rare, them."

"That is so awesome! When's it going to hatch? Have you fireproofed your house yet? Do you even get to keep it? I thought they were illegal – how'd you get it?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down there Harry. To answer your questions, let's see, I won it las' night in a card game down in the village. It'll hatch in a week or two, I 'spect. I've bin doin' a some readin'," he holds up the book he was looking at when Harry burst in, "Got this outta the library – Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Profit – it's a bit outta date, o' course, but it's all in here. Keep the egg in the fire, 'cause their mothers breathe on I 'em, see, an' when it hatches, feed it on a bucket o' brandy mixed with chicken blood every half hour. I haven't found the proper fireproofin' spells yet, but that's next on me list."

"I'll help!" Harry volunteers immediately. "But you can't possibly keep it here if you don't want anybody finding out – no one else knows do they? It's too suspicious suddenly shutting your house up like this," he bites his lip, "I might be able to cast an illusion on the egg that'll hide it for now but I have no idea what you're going to do once it hatches. How soon would you be able to move him into the Forbidden Forest?"

Hagrid beams at him, not bothering to mention that Harry is the only one that visits him.

"George, Fred!" Harry calls. "Wait up!"

The twins stop and turn, one of them beaming hugely and the other looking slightly put out.

"Harry!" exclaims the happy twin, "No one ever puts my name first. It sounds excellent; we should make a trend of it!"

"It sounds stupid," Fred disagrees crossly, "Now what do you want?"

"Er, just a spot of advice."

"Need help getting out of the Common Room after curfew without setting off the detection charms?" George says with a grin.

"How did you hear about that?" Harry asks, astonished.

"We have ears everywhere, my good friend," Fred tells him, apparently over his mood.

"Right, I should have known. Well yes, I have had a bit of," Harry clears his throat, "Difficulty with that."

"Not a problem, not a problem at all!"

"There are a few ways to go about it-"

"You can leave through a window-"

"But since you don't own a broomstick that might not be the best idea-"

"What we'd advise are a few simple spells-"

"We'll teach them to you-"

"You'll need to learn to recognise the different detection wards too, so you know which one to use-"

"There are a number of them all around the castle-"

"But fear not-"

"We'll have you ready to sneak all around Hogwarts in no time at all!"

"Thanks guys. I knew I could count on you!"

"But of course!"

"And while we're on the topic of avoiding detection-"

"How goes your little project?"

"Oh that. No, I've put it on hold for now. It's bound to be years before I can pull it off and I've been working on a couple other things lately."

"Anything of interest?"

"Illusions mostly. Let me know if you ever need one; I've become a bit of an expert, especially in anchoring them and recently I've been working on layering – it's awfully useful if you're trying to hide something moving or of a magical nature."

The twins' eyes positively gleam.

There are a lot of ways Sirius Black has imagined meeting his godson. Stumbling on him slowly backing away from a trio of dog-sized acromantulas deep in the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night is not one of them.

"What the-? Harry?" Sirius says.

The boy jumps and turns at the sound of his name, which the large spiders take advantage of to launch their attack. Easily blasting them away with a swish of his wand Sirius says, "What are you doing here? Nevermind that, we need to get out of here before some of their friends hear the commotion and decide to join the party."

Twenty minutes later they are in a small, abandoned house at the edge of Hogsmeade that Sirius has requisitioned for the time being.

"Seriously, what were you doing in the Forbidden Forest all alone?" he says, sitting the boy down at the kitchen table and handing him a warm butterbeer. "Don't you know how dangerous that is?"

Harry snorts, "Well, yeah, running into a bunch of acromantulas sort of gave that one away. Thanks for saving me and all that, but who are you?" He raises an eyebrow at the man and makes a point of suspiciously sniffing his butterbeer but ruins the effect by accidentally inhaling some of the foam through his nose and then trying to discretely sneeze to the side.

"Sirius Black, your godfather."

Harry freezes, a disturbingly large and very fake smile suddenly pasted on his face. "Ah ha, look at the time – way, way, way past curfew, I really need to be getting back to school now, got an early morning tomorrow, you know, and pleasedon'thurtme!"

Sirius does his best not to laugh his godson huddles in his chair, his arms protectively wrapped around his head. "Before you have a heart attack there are a couple things you should probably know. For one, I never betrayed your parents. I didn't kill anyone either, well actually I did," Harry whimpers and curls tighter in on himself, "But they were all Death Eaters."

Harry peers at him cautiously, "So... ah...?"

Neville watches Harry whistling a cheery tune as he goes about his morning routine with an unusual bounce in his step.

"What's put you in such a good mood?" he says hesitantly.

"Can you keep a secret?"

Neville nods, "Of course, Harry."

"You've got to swear not to tell anyone – on your honour."

"I won't. Honest."

"Alright." Harry's serious disposition melts away and he beams. "I met my godfather last night."

"But – what, how?"

"I ran into him in the Forbidden Forest. Just like that. Imagine! What are the chances?" And Harry skips out the room, humming cheerily.

Neville hurriedly trots out after him, "You-you snuck out!" he hisses, carefully keeping his voice low enough that no one in the Common Room can hear him. "Into the Forest!"

"You're missing the point, Nev," Harry says as he hops out the portrait hole, "I met my godfather. Me! The boy with no family! Well there's the Dursleys, but they hardly count. And I got real family now! I mean granted he's not by blood but who cares?"

"Wait a second... Your godfather's Sirius Black!"

"Yep!" Harry agrees cheerfully. "He's awesome. He's got this motorbike that he enchanted to fly and he travels all over the world doing bounty hunting and curse breaking and consulting and professional duelling..."

"But he's a Death Eater! He was the Great Traitor of the Light!"

"Oh no," Harry says airily, waving it away with his hand, "That was all this huge misunderstanding. You know the story of how my parents used the Fidelius Charm, right? Well about two years after they went into hiding Sirius was ambushed and barely made it out so they decided to change Secret Keepers 'cause no one holds up under Voldemort's torture and it wasn't the first time he'd nearly been caught. They didn't tell anyone so the new Secret Keeper wouldn't be a target like Sirius but that person was the real traitor."

"Well why didn't he just say so?" Neville says cautiously.

Harry frowns, his good mood wilting away, "He never got a trial and someone must have tampered with his memory because he thought he found me dead with my parents so when he escaped he thought he had nothing left in England and just left. But he came back as soon as he heard about me and now he's trying to track down the real traitor so he can clear his name and then I'll be able to live with him instead of the Dursleys."

"Wow," Neville says solemnly.

Harry Potter is not what Mrs. Norris expected. She catches him sneaking out of the castle smuggling what smells like alcohol and raw meat, and hisses in triumph. She's been catching hints of him out after curfew for weeks now but this is the first time she's seen him in person.

Harry huffs in surprise when he sees her. It's not a reaction she's unused to.

"Well hello there pretty lady," he says.

Mrs. Norris blinks. That most definitely is a reaction she's unused to.

Harry crouches down and holds out his hand towards her, "You must be Mrs. Norris. I'm Harry Potter but you, lovely girl, can call me Harry."

His voice is friendly and soothing but Mrs. Norris approaches cautiously, wary of a trick.

"May I pat you?" Harry says once Mrs. Norris has sniffed his fingers. She looks at him unblinkingly and Harry says, "Or is that too forward? We've only just met, after all. You must get that a lot with the thick, beautiful coat you have."

Mrs. Norris ducks her head, giving him permission, and he strokes her gently and scratches the sensitive area behind her ears. Before she realises it she is purring from the heavenly sensation. Filch is a devoted follower but his bony fingers are uncomfortable at best.

"There's not a Mr. Norris I should be jealous of, is there?" Harry says, rubbing her belly now. Mrs. Norris mewls and Harry chuckles. "Don't think he's scared me away because nothing could convince me to stay away from such a gorgeous cat but I really do have to go now. I've got another beauty I've got to visit tonight but she's not nearly as lovely as you when it comes to temperament so I can't be late."

He stands up with a regretful sigh, "It was a pleasure Mrs. Norris."

Mrs. Norris meows plaintively, still lying with her stomach bared, hoping he'll go back to his wonderful massage but he is already gone.

"Tully, my fair elf maiden! How are you today? Not underworked, I hope."

"Oh Master Harry Potter, sir! You is always being too kind to Tully. Tully is feeling very honoured by your attentions! Would you be wanting some treacle tart before afternoon classes Master Potter?" Tully asks, whisking Harry into the kitchens and serving him a generous slice of the aforementioned tart along with a large dollop of cream on the side.

"Just Harry please Tully. And I'm going on a picnic again; could I get the usual if it's not too much trouble?"

"Oh!" Tully says, "Nothing is too much trouble for the Great Wizard Harry Potter. We is having enough food for two grown men ready in a moment, sir!"

Tully gossips cheerfully to him as she works, telling him the latest scandals of the castle from a house elf's perspective and Harry carefully notes which pieces of news he can use against his schoolmates either as blackmail or teasing material. In no time at all she is done and bundling it all up.

"You're the best Tully," Harry says with a charming grin as the house elf hands him a picnic basket brimming with enough food to feed five. "Thanks so much."

Tully looks so grateful she might cry so Harry hastily says his farewells and flees the kitchens – he has no idea how to handle crying from anyone, let alone an overemotional house elf.

Other the overemotional and overly subservientness of the elves which Harry is only just getting used to, the kitchens have been a godsend ever since Fred and George showed him them almost a month ago. Sirius has unequivocally banned him from going into the Forbidden Forest alone – even after he explained he'd done it numerous times before and only a wrong turn had him running into the acromantulas that night – so three nights a week his godfather escorts him to the part of the forest where Hagrid keeps Norbert and they have a midnight picnic and catch up on each others' lives while feeding and playing with the now three month old dragon. Thinking of his godfather still brings a silly grin to Harry's face. He's absolutely overjoyed that he's got real family now – family who cares and who will take him away from the Dursleys.

"Hullo there Ernst, mind letting me through?" Harry says to the portrait of a rather dreary looking man.

Ernst looks at him mournfully and says, "Young people these days. Always in such a rush. You should slow down and take the time to look around you; never know what you might be missing."

"Sure Ernst, I'll do that one of these days alright."

"They all say that, but that day never seems to come around until too late," Ernst says gloomily and swings open to reveal a narrow flight of stairs.

Surprisingly, instead of opening into a corridor near the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room as it usually does on a Thursday, Harry ends up in a classroom he doesn't recognise that is empty save for a large, ornate mirror.

Glancing at it, Harry double takes when he sees his reflection gesturing wildly at him. Seeing that he has Harry's attention the boy in the mirror holds up a blood-red stone and puts it in his pocket very meaningfully. A sudden weight in his own pocket makes Harry check it only to find the same blood-red stone. Shrugging, he returns it to his pocket. It's not the kind of thing he expects from a mirror but it's far from the strangest thing that's happened to him since entering the wizarding world.

Harry goes back the way he came and complains, "Ernst, mate, I think you've got the passage going the wrong way."

Ernst blinks slowly and says, "Hogwarts' passageways never go the wrong way."

"Right," Harry says, "I'll just go the long way then shall I?"

Quirrell tears down the wards on the third floor corridor with all the delicacy of a manticore in a china shop. He's not planning on sticking around any longer so subtlety is not an issue. That doesn't mean he doesn't notice he isn't the first to have passed them. Interesting.

The rest of the defences are passed with equal ease until he reaches the Mirror. Damn. Typical Dumbledore. But if there was a way to put the stone in there, surely he can reverse engineer it and avoid having to play the old headmaster's stupid games.

Unfortunately that will take time he doesn't have.

Quirrell taps the Mirror, charming it featherweight, and carries it out with him. Due to its heavy enchantments he doesn't dare cast any more invasive magic than that. The students and teachers alike give him strange looks as he makes his way out of the school but they don't question him seeing as he looks like he knows what he's doing. Fools.

He makes it as far as the Great Hall before the wards ripple and Quirrell knows Dumbledore is back.

Not a moment later the doors to the hall burst open and Dumbledore strides in, the stars on his indigo robes glittering almost as angrily as his eyes.

"Quirinus Quirrell," Dumbledore thunders.

"Albus Dumbledore," Quirrell says neutrally. "This is rather unfortunate."

Then the air around Quirrell vibrates with magic and Dumbledore raises his wand and waves it to no visible effect but the malicious aura that appeared with Quirrell's magic dissipates and Quirrell slumps to the ground. The Mirror falls on top of him, the featherweight charm breaking with its caster's death, and half crushes his body.

Dumbledore doesn't look pleased.

"Mr. Weasley," the old man says to Percy who is sitting at the Gryffindor table looking rather dumbfounded, "Would you please fetch Professor McGonagall for me?"

Percy swallows the mouthful of potato he had been chewing before dinner was interrupted. "O-Of course, Headmaster. At once."

The end of the year arrives rather abruptly. Harry is half way through a number of projects – none school related – and is rather miffed he has to stop them for the summer. He's not nearly as distraught as Hermione though, who looks as though she might cry (making him fidget nervously and prepare to run) as she closes her books for the last of their study sessions before returning home.

Sirius still hasn't found any leads on who his parents changed their secret keeper to so he has to return to the Dursleys and although his godfather offered to abscond with him illegally, at eleven years old he's not quite ready for life on the run from the law. He's received numerous offers to visit friends over the summer though and has promised to organise it with his relatives as soon as he can speak to them so he's not planning spending much time at Privet Drive anyway.

Gryffindor wins the House Cup, largely due to their victory in the Quiddich Cup and Harry becomes somewhat of a hero in his house along with the rest of the team. Exams pass easily and Harry isn't very concerned by them; he's always been more interested in learning how to do useful things with his magic rather than excelling in class.

Quirrell's reign as Defence teacher ends rather mysteriously with his disappearance after a strange confrontation with the Headmaster including, according to the stories, a large, ornate mirror. All the older years assure him that this is an annual occurrence – the Defence teacher having to leave, not the public confrontation involving a mirror.

"I'm sorry my friend," Dumbledore says as he sweeps down the hall. "The stone had already been removed from the mirror by the time I arrived. As Voldemort fled in the form of a spirit we may comfort ourselves with the fact that he could not have taken it with him but I am at loss to discern its location. I'm sure it has not left Hogwarts grounds; perhaps once the students have left we will have more success searching—hello there Harry."

Harry blinks and looks up from the windowsill where is lazing in the sun and taking advantage of the last few hours he's able to use magic by practising transfiguration. A teacup becomes a small stone statue becomes a mouse becomes a snuffbox. "Hello sir." His eyes flick curiously to the old man next to Dumbledore, although beside the positively ancient headmaster it isn't really fair to call him old. Harry would place him at about fifty but it was always rather difficult to tell with magical people.

"This is my friend Nicholas Flamel. Nicholas, this is young Harry Potter. Harry, shouldn't you be getting down to the train now? You wouldn't want to miss it and be stuck at Hogwarts for the whole summer now, would you?" he says, blue eyes twinkling merrily.

"Perish the thought!" Harry says, not quite sure if he is being sarcastic or not. "I'll just be off then sir. Have a good holiday!"

As he trots off he thinks that something about the stone and mirror rings a bell but after a moment's reflection fails to recall what exactly sounds so familiar he forgets all about it.