It was nearing the end of the semester, and the end of Harry's first year at Hogwarts. The teachers were really piling them with homework to make sure they got the basics down, for everything they would learn in the next six years would build upon what they had learned so far.
Harry was in the library, working on an essay for Professor Quirrell. The stuttering man wanted two feet of writing on the differences between hexes, jinxes, curses, and charms, and how to identify them. Quirrell would be testing their knowledge with four identical objects, and each student will have to sort out which is which.
Harry was halfway through an eloquent comparison of the differences between jinxes and curses, mostly based around the desired effects of the spell, when Daphne entered the Library and headed straight for his table.
That in itself wasn't that uncommon, but she was slightly out of breath, and apparently in a hurry to talk to him. Harry stared at her expectantly.
"I heard the most curious thing just now. We are not the only students who know about the you-know-what," Daphne said, looking around to make sure no one was listening in. "Granger and Weasley were talking about it, and they think someone is going to steal it."
"How are those two even friends?" Harry asked. Officially, Granger had gone after the troll in October because she thought she could handle it, but unofficially the whole school knew than Ron Weasley was making fun of her, and she ran off crying and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. "Granger should know better, yet she still lets Weasley drag her all over the place and nearly get themselves killed a half dozen times."
"Beats me," Daphne said with an unconcerned shrug. "I told Snape of course. Well, I didn't mention the Stone, so I told him that they were going to break into the corridor. So Snape is off escorting them to McGonagall for punishment, since Dumbledore is at a Wizengamot meeting."
That got Harry's attention. "So, Granger and Weasley think someone is stealing the you-know-what, and Dumbledore just happens to be out of the castle for the first time in months. Coincidence?"
Daphne frowned. "Well, we can always go to one of the other teachers if you think they're right."
"Granger is smart," Harry said reluctantly. "If you're sure you heard them properly, then we could always go to a teacher and voice our concerns."
"Well, if Dumbledore is gone, and Snape and McGonagall are handling Weasley and Granger, that doesn't leave many teachers I feel confident in. In fact, just Flitwick."
"And I know for a fact that today is Flitwick's weekly Hogsmeade visit."
"Damn," Daphne swore. "I wouldn't trust any older students either with the knowledge either. They might just try and take it for themselves."
"Well, that leaves us I suppose," Harry said with a curious glint in his eye. "Are you up for some thrilling heroics? Or should we just pretend like nothing is happening? I don't mind either way, but it might be the only time in our lives that we would ever see a Philosopher's Stone."
Daphne sighed. "So we're going to try and steal the Philosopher's Stone so someone else can't steal it… If I die because of this, I'm going to haunt you. But it could be fun. We might learn something too."
"No time like the present, let's go then."
This may have been the stupidest idea that they had ever done. But if they were honest with themselves, they were very curious as to what kind of traps were guarding the Stone. Perhaps that why they didn't try and rationalize too hard not looking for help.
Harry had taken to carrying his invisibility cloak on him after classes were finished, and he was thankful. It wasn't really needed though, since they didn't see a single person as they made their way towards the third floor corridor.
"I guess someone is going after it," Daphne remarked upon noticing the magic on the door was gone. "I will admit I was half hoping that it was still locked."
"I guess that means you were half hoping that it wasn't," Harry jibed. That got a mock punch from Daphne. "I did tell you that there was a Cerberus in the room, right?"
In answer, Daphne opened up the door and looked inside. "It's asleep. There's an enchanted harp playing music."
"Good to know for future reference, otherwise this would have been the shortest adventure ever," Harry remarked. "I was not looking forward to having to set the beast on fire."
Harry followed Daphne into the room, and was still quite wary of the sleeping beast. "Let's not linger too long."
The trap door was quite heavy, and it took both of them physically lifting it to open. Their levitation charms were just not strong enough, and he didn't know a stronger one. The trap door revealed a stone shaft going straight into the ground, smooth on all sides. Daphne conjured a ball of light and let it fall, which it did for about fifteen feet.
"I reckon we will need cushioning charms," Daphne stated. "You remember it right?"
Harry gave her a patronizing look and just jumped into the hole in response. Daphne jumped soon after, and the little light there was coming from the room above disappeared as the trap door closed itself.
They landed on something soft, though Harry was lucky that Daphne didn't land right on top of him. A boney girl falling from fifteen feet up would hurt quite a bit, Harry imagined.
They were both quick to light the ends of their wands with light, showing what they landed on. It was a huge plant, with thick vines and many huge leaves, and it was moving quite a lot, as if it were a living creature. They couldn't contemplate it for too long, as the vines started wrapping around them and pulling them into the plant.
Two shouts of "Incendio!" echoed through the air, as they both recognized the plant as Devil's Snare. It was a highly magical plant, and while it was resistant to fire, to a degree, it still feared it like any plant would, and the two students quickly fell through the vines and onto the hard stone floor below
"Bloody hell, that plant was huge," Harry said, stating the obvious.
"Trust professor Sprout to come up with a man eating plant to defend the Stone," Daphne stated.
"And to think, we're busy growing pansies and tulips, while there plants like that lurking in the shadows."
Looking back up at the plant, Harry couldn't help but make a snide comment. "Remind me why we came down here again, with no way back up?
"Because we're idiots?" Daphne said casually. "It was your idea anyways."
"My idea?" Harry said with disbelief. "You didn't have to tell me that someone was going after the Stone. I would have been quite content to not know, and just gone about on my day normally."
"Fine, whatever," Daphne said with a huff. "There's only one way to go."
The room with the Devil's snare sloped down, and a corridor brought them to a normal looking door. Harry had just been writing an essay about curse detection, and all his and Daphne's efforts showed that the door was normal.
Inside the next room sat a rack of brooms, and the sounds of a thousand wings caught Harry's attention as he looked up into the room. There was a large mass of flying keys, hovering in the air and out of reach, but they didn't look hostile.
The two students walked over to the door to examine it, again it was safe, but no amount of spellwork would unlock it.
"I guess we have to get the key," Harry said nonchalantly.
"The doorknob is ornate, tarnished silver, and it has a large keyhole. So look for a big silver key."
"That narrows it down to about… oh, I don't know, half of them?"
"You got a better idea?" Daphne shot back.
"Yeah, look at the one over there," Harry said, pointing. "It has a bent wing. Whoever was here first must have figured that was the right one."
"Well spotted," Daphne admitted. "I guess that means we have to fly. You want to herd or seek?"
"I'll seek," Harry decided.
The brooms were ancient models, old Comet 120's from the first World War. They were in decent enough condition, but that wasn't saying much.
Daphne and Harry took off into the air on the count of three, and Daphne immediately plowed through the keys, causing the one with the bent wing to flurry away. But as it had a bent wing, it didn't fly so well, and Daphne easily steered it towards Harry, who quickly caught it.
He dismounted and stuffed the key into the door as fast as he could, and as soon as Daphne was through with her broom, he slammed the door back shut. They could hear the remaining keys bouncing off the door trying to get at them, which caused them both to grin.
"Piece of cake," Harry said.
"I did all the hard work," Daphne replied.
"You're the one with the father and grandfather in the professional leagues. I'm just a poor muggle-raised boy."
The new corridor was wide and tall, and it absolutely reeked. In the center of the hallway, sprawled out, was a massive hill troll. If it was standing up, it would probably brush its head on the ceiling. There were sacks of food lining the walls, half of which were probably spoiled, but the real smell was coming from the troll, which was unconscious in a puddle of its own excrement.
Not wanting to get their clothes dirty, and thankful that they didn't have to fight the troll, they mounted their brooms and flew over the beast and went through the next door.
This room had a giant chess set in the middle of it; the checkered play area went wall to wall. It was one of the most impressive things Harry had ever seen, as each piece was life size. They could make out the door to the next room in between the large imposing figures of the black king and queen.
They could both see the debris from a previous chess match scattered throughout the room, and there was what looked like blood as well. Harry didn't fancy getting anywhere near large stone statues destroying each other with swords and lances.
Unfortunately, Harry was quite rubbish at chess.
"What do you reckon?" Harry asked Daphne.
She gave him an annoyed glare and just continued flying over the board and to the other door.
"You coming or what?" she called back.
The entered through the door and dismounted. The new room was small so there was no reason to fly, and as soon as they entered, flames shot up, covering both the entrance and exit.
"Whoever made that chess set wasn't too smart if you could just fly over it."
"Wizards aren't known for their logic," Daphne reminded him.
In front of them, on a pedestal, were several vials of varying size and shape. There was also a piece of parchment.
Picking up the piece of parchment, Harry read it completely before commenting. "That's ironic. It's a logic puzzle."
"Naturally," Daphne replied dryly as she began to read it.
"Logic states that a person would be attracted to trying to solve the puzzle in the room, but real logic states that we should try flame freezing charms."
"Thank you, Mr. Obvious," Daphne retorted.
Unfortunately, their luck didn't hold, and the flame freezing charm didn't do anything.
"It must be cursed fire. Very well then, let's do the puzzle."
They both read it once more, and went step by step, eliminating each potion, and narrowing down the list of possibilities. Eventually they both decided that the one all the way on the right was the correct one.
"It's not a lot," Harry said, picking up the vial and holding it up to the light of the fire.
"Whoever got here before had to have drunk this potion already," Daphne said.
"A self-refilling charm perhaps?" Harry asked.
"Could be the vial itself, but it's the same result. You want to drink it first, or me?"
"I'll go first," Harry said. He was curious as to how many traps were left, as they had gone through half a dozen already. Surely not every teacher had a defense set up. Harry couldn't imagine there being a history trap, or one involving muggle studies. Perhaps the next challenge involved changing a light bulb.
His shaking hands gave away how brave he was feeling as he downed the vial of foul tasting liquid. It was like ice was spreading through his body, but it didn't feel like poison. Not that he knew what poison felt like… but it didn't feel like he was dying.
Shrugging, Harry walked up to the fire ahead, and was quite glad to not catch on fire. He opened up the door and walked through.
Harry was happy to see that it was the final room. The room was round and shaped like an ancient amphitheater, with what looked like carved seats and a raised dais in the middle. Harry was surprised to see the Mirror of Erised in the middle, though Dumbledore had all but told him that it would be here.
Putting the broom down near the door, Harry took a few steps into the room to see who was there. He wasn't sure who he was expecting, but seeing exactly who it was that had gotten there first was shocking. The purple turban was a dead giveaway.
"Professor Quirrell!" Harry all but yelled. The man turned around quickly, wand out.
"Harry Potter?" Quirrell said in surprise. "Interesting… I was not expecting students."
In the few second for Harry to notice that the professor wasn't stuttering like usual, Daphne Greengrass entered the room and took her place next to Harry. She was quite surprised at the perpetrator as well.
Quirrell didn't seem perturbed by their presence at all, as if they were insignificant and beneath him. In part, that's because they were. They were first years. Well-read first years, perhaps, but still first years. He walked over to them, unafraid, and the students nervousness kept them from acting out.
Quirrell's hand reached up and hovered above Harry's scar. "Interesting…" the man said. "This is where the curse hit you… blessed by the Seven Sisters, perhaps? It's no matter though; the same mistake will not be made twice."
Harry had no clue what Quirrell was talking about, as the professor turned his back to them to gaze at the Mirror of Erised. "I see myself with the Stone, I'm presenting it to my master… but where is it? Trust Dumbledore to come up with something like this."
"Your master? Who do you serve?" Harry asked.
"A curious child, aren't you?" Quirrell said, turning back to the two students. They didn't dare cast any spells, for they didn't want Quirrell to attack them. By all appearances in class, he wasn't a particularly gifted wizard, but he was still an adult wizard, whereas Harry and Daphne weren't. "Who do you think I serve, boy? I serve the greatest Dark Lord to ever live! The Stone is key to his revival so he can walk amongst us once more! And then, Harry Potter, you shall see who my master is."
Harry didn't know what to say to that, but he had a really bad feeling about this. Daphne merely glared at the man, and the wheels in here head were spinning ideas quickly.
"He-who-must-not-be-named," Daphne said softly. "You are using Quirrell as a host to your spirit? Why not Snape - he's a loyal follower of yours, isn't he?"
"He's too close to Dumbledore," Quirrell said offhandedly, once again examining the mirror. "He has hounded me at every step. That troll on Halloween was mine, you know. I've always had a gift with them. It was a distraction, but Snape wasn't fooled… I knew then that I couldn't trust him with my secret. I discovered my master in Albania… he does not forgive mistakes easily. When I failed to steal the Stone from Gringotts, he decided he would have to keep a closer watch on me…"
"Enough, Quirrell…" a voice suddenly said. It sounded like it came from nowhere, and everywhere all at once.
It was starting to make sense for Harry now. He had seen Quirrell that very day in Diagon Alley.
"Should I break the Mirror, master?" Quirrell asked to the air. "Is it inside?"
Harry slowly edged to the left, hoping Quirrell wouldn't notice. He wanted to look into the mirror. He knew that if he saw the Stone… he knew that he wanted to get the Stone so Voldemort couldn't. That's all that mattered.
"Use the boy…" the disembodied voice said. "Use the boy…"
Quirrell turned around again, his wand out quickly. "Imperio!"
A feeling of lightheadedness overcame Harry, and he barely even noticed when Quirrell fired another spell at Daphne, which launched her high up and into the wall, hard. She crumpled to the ground, her wand clattering away and the broom flying in another direction. She groaned in pain, but didn't move.
"Look into the Mirror," a voice in the back of Harry's mind whispered to him. That's what Harry was going to do anyways. He walked in front of the Mirror and looked at the reflection.
It was of himself, pale and scared. A second later though, the reflection smiled at him. It put its hand into its pocket and pulled out a blood red stone. It winked and put the stone back in, and as it did so, Harry felt something heavy drop into his real pocket. Somehow, miraculously, he had gotten the Stone.
"Take it out," the voice in his head whispered. Harry's thoughts were heavy as if he were sedated, but much wished to look at the Stone, so he pulled it out as Quirrell looked on hungrily.
Harry held the stone firmly in his hand, as he beheld the legendary Philosopher's Stone. The Stone felt odd in his hand, as if it wasn't actually a stone. For all its mythical transmuting properties, it didn't feel all that magical, and having done a few rites and rituals and in the past year, he thought he would have felt something.
He inspected the stone closer, taking in the fine details. The Stone wasn't all that refined, and while at first he thought the stone was translucent; the color actually appeared opaque and muddy. It wasn't at all what he was expecting.
Although Harry had never even seen a picture of the Stone before, it just didn't look real. Something about it just screamed FAKE! To him.
Though the haze of his mind, Harry grasped on to one thought, and was able muster up one sentence. "I think this is just a replica."
Quirrell grabbed at the Stone, yanking it out of his hands. The professor waved his wand at it in a complex twirl, a spell Harry didn't recognized. The results weren't to Quirrell's liking as both he, and his master yelled out in anger simultaneously.
All of a sudden Quirrell's wand came up and pointed at Harry.
"Kill them!" the voice of Voldemort rang out. "Kill them both!"
Suddenly, Daphne sprung up from his fallen position, wand in hand, and fired a blinding beam of light at Quirrell, who quickly covered his face with his arm.
The hazy, greasy feeling that had overcome Harry's mind disappeared at once, and he stumbled backwards having regained full control of his body.
"Incendio!" Harry yelled, throwing a spout of flame at Quirrell, who had quickly dodged back after having been temporarily blinded.
"Glacias!" Daphne pointed her wand at the floor, and a small section of the ground turned to ice under Quirrell's feet. The professor had not been expecting it and fell to the ground. His turban came undone in the process, and as he retook is feet, Harry count see the back of his head.
Where there should have been hair, there was another face, small and deformed. It was the most terrifying and horrible face Harry had ever seen, pale white with red glaring eyes, and slits for nostrils, almost like a snakes.
Harry had no doubt that he was staring at Lord Voldemort. It was a horrible sight. But as Harry stood there staring, frozen in fear, Quirrell's, no, Voldemort's wand was in action, sending a wide net and a series of ropes at the two students.
Harry was quick to get back into motion though, and he used the levitating charm to catch the net in midair. Daphne threw her own fire at it, igniting it and causing Harry's levitation charm to fail.
Quirrell was very quick to vanish the net, doing so almost as soon as the net had left his control. His wand spun into motion again, spitting out black beams. Harry was quite sure that he didn't want to get hit by that.
As Harry dove off to the side, he put his arm on the carved stone. He wasn't one to just let his blood go to waste, and Daphne had warned him that if an enemy ever got a significant amount of his blood, bad things could happen.
So he flicked his blood at Quirrell, and right before it would have splattered on the Dark Lord's face, Harry whispered the final line to the Second Rite of Blood, a rite he hadn't actually performed before, causing his blood to ignite explosively.
The spell had surprised Quirrell enough to burn the man's face, but it would hardly stop the man. What it did do was attract the full attention of Quirrell and Voldemort. They had not expected Harry Potter to use magic like that, and they seemed to be reevaluating the young wizard in a new light.
The five seconds that Harry had bought was enough though, and they had momentarily forgotten about Daphne and didn't see her coming. She didn't use a spell. She took the Comet 120 and smashed it right over the Dark Lord's head, swinging it hard enough to snap the broom right in half.
Quirrell fell to his knees immediately, letting lose an agonizing scream. He wouldn't be defeated that easily though, and with an angry swish of his wand, he hurled Daphne into the wall once more, to try and gain some distance from the girl.
Harry saw that coming though, and he saved her with a well timed cushioning charm. Harry was quite certain that the force from the hurling hex would have broken her neck. The young wizard wasn't sure how much more he could do of this. His luck wouldn't hold out forever.
It didn't have to though.
The door to the room banged open once more. Three sets of eyes quickly turned towards the new intruder.
Albus Dumbledore strolled into the room, a look of anger on his face that hadn't been seen in many years. He didn't even so much as look at Harry and Daphne as he pointed his wand at Quirrell. Dumbledore's lips didn't even twitch as a lance of white magic shot from Dumbledore's equally white wand.
The beam of magic pieced right through the professor's body, causing him to collapse. Harry didn't see any blood, but it was quite clear that Quirrell was dead.
A loud agonizing hiss filled the air as black smoke rose from Quirrell's body. Dumbledore seemed to have been expecting this, and he began a low chant.
The headmaster was chanting low enough that Harry couldn't pick out any of the words, and the whole chant lasted maybe five seconds.
The inky smoke seemed to have collected itself, and it rushed towards the exit. Dumbledore would not allow that though, and he unleashed his magic, causing Lord Voldemort's wraith to freeze in place.
Then, with three deliberate wand motions, a blaze of orange steam came from Dumbledore's wand. The steam wafted over the dark wraith, and slowly began to eat at it. Whatever the magic was, it was working.
The angry his turned into a full out scream. Dumbledore's magic was dissolving Lord Voldemort's very being. The whole process took all of thirty seconds, and all that remained was an agonizing scream that seemed to echo with both Harry's and Daphne's head.
His wand still in attack position, Dumbledore waited a few extra seconds to make sure the magic was completed. Once he was finally satisfied, he lowered his wand and beheld the room.
"Mr. Potter, Miss Greengrass," Dumbledore said, looking at his two students. "Are either of you injured?"
"Just some bruises," Daphne said. She was lucky she didn't have any broken bones from the first time she had been launched into the wall. "Nothing life threatening."
Harry echoed her sentiments.
"That's good," Dumbledore said genuinely, as if he hadn't just smote a professor. "I trust you have now figured out the rest of the mystery, Harry."
"The Stone was never in danger," Harry said. "It was a fake the whole time."
"Indeed. The real Stone never left Nicholas Flamel's estate. If I had borrowed the real Stone, and something had happened to it… well, let's just say that Nicholas would have been most displeased," Dumbledore chuckled. "But for this trap to work, everyone had to believe it was the real Stone. I apologize for my deception, but I could not let my plans be jeopardized."
"So… Voldemort… is he gone for good?"
"Alas, only time will tell. I do not know what powers he held while he was a wraith, nor do I know what magic prevented his death in the first place, causing him to take that form. I destroyed his wraith, but there's no magic in the mortal realm to know if he has truly passed on."
"I think I understand. But how did you know to come?"
Dumbledore smiled at the two students. "Professor Snape contacted me with his concerns, after apprehending Mr. Weasley and Mrs. Granger. I imagine that if they managed to get here, it may very well have been them I'd be talking to. Both of them have had their suspicions that someone was after the Stone for some time… but that doesn't matter now. I think I must get you both to Madam Pomfrey, just to check you over. Here, take my hands and I'll take us there."
Daphne and Harry both took hold of the elderly wizard's hand, and the strangest feeling overcame him. It was like being sucked through a tube, and it was very disorientating. Flashes of color came from all directions, but the sensation disappeared as soon as it had begun.
"I didn't think anyone could apparate inside of Hogwarts," Daphne said, speaking up for the first time.
"That was apparition?" Harry asked.
"Indeed," Dumbledore said with a knowing look. "Being the Headmaster does have its perks."
Not five seconds after the three of them arrived, the matron of the hospital wing walked in.
"My word, Albus, you nearly have me a heart attack," the school's nurse said.
"My apologies, Poppy. I have two students here who need to be checked over. There was an incident tonight, which I will explain in the staff meeting later tonight."
Madam Pomfrey viewed the two students, before leading them over to separate beds. "Harry Potter," she said, looking at him. "I'm surprised it's taken you so long to come here. Your father barely made it a week before his first injury."
"You knew my father?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Certainly. He was trouble-maker from the very beginning. If it wasn't him or his friends up here in the hospital wing, it was the victim of one of their pranks."
"Sirius Black as well?"
"Yes, all four of them were frequent visitors. Your father, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew… It's hard to think about the events that tore them apart…"
The healer went on to say a few other things as she used her diagnostic spells on Harry. But he was too busy thinking about the summer coming up, the first summer without the Dursley's. A summer with Sirius Black…
It was going to be a great summer.
I've been trying to shy away from doing Author's notes, at least to explain in-story things, since everything the reader needs to know should be written into the story. That being said, I had several people note that Dumbledore is never as open about information as he was during the Mirror of Erised conversation, but I knew that Dumbledore didn't tell Harry everything, just enough to satiate a Ravenclaw's curiosity. The same can be said in the final conversation in this chapter. There is a lot Dumbledore isn't saying, but what that is, I won't say :)
This chapter marks the end of year one. I tried to go through the year as quick as possible, without it being a complete rehash. There's probably some continuity errors, and probably a lot of spelling and grammar errors. It's hard to make significant changes early on to keep the story interesting, but at the same time without screwing yourself over 4 years down the line by having diverged too much, where plotpoints seemed forced into the story by the author, rather than going with the flow. People know to expect the Chamber of Secrets in second year, and the triwizard tournament in the fourth, but its how you go about them that makes it interesting, and I hope I can achieve that.
I plan on continuing with story, but I am going to be doing the same thing I did with the first year, in that I finish writing the whole year first before I start posting. At least that's my plan as of right now, so it could be like a month before the next chapter (though the first chapter is already done - it covers part of the summer. The Midsummer festival is that last rite I'm actually going to cover in depth, then I can start focusing on a lot of the small details in wizarding tradition (there's more to it than just lighting a bonfire and saying a few words). I just didn't want to bog down the story too much with a lot of filler, so I tried to space it out. I didn't want this to be one of those stories where it spends 150,000 words just to cover first year. I will also note that I'm pretty much just taking a bunch of different ideas and throwing them together, my idea of wizarding holidays festivals and the like are not based on any one thing in particular, so I apologize if you feel like I've bastardized your religion, as that's not my intent.