A/N: Well, here's the final preview for my upcoming stories. And don't worry about the length of the prologue or how long it covers, I'm only doing it this long to cover some changes I've made in Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. Even then, the Second Year prologue will only cover up to Hermione's petrification. Enjoy, as the current votes are in favour of this story right now!

Thanks to the Basilisk

Prologue One: First Year

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Inside Madame Malkin's Robes for all Occasions, Harry James Potter was getting measured for his school robes when the pale blond next to him decided to strike up a conversation with him. "Hello, Hogwarts too?"

"Yes," Harry answered.

"My father's next door buying my books and mum's talking to Ollivander about wands. Then we're going to go look at brooms. I'm hoping to talk my father into buying me one. It's just so unfair that we can't have our own brooms this year, isn't it?"

"I wouldn't know. I don't think I've ever flown on a broom before."

The blond stared in shock. "Really? You don't have your own broom?"

"No."

"You've never played Quidditch?"

"No, never even seen it played."

"You haven't? Oh, you're in for a real treat then! All four houses have their own teams, I'm hoping to join next year. Do you know what house you're going to be in?"

"No," Harry said, feeling more stupid with everything the blond said, though he seemed quite friendly.

"Well, no one knows until they get there, but I'm fairly certain that I'll be in Slytherin, most of my family has gone there after all. Imagine being in Hufflepuff, I'd rather leave than be in that house."

"I wouldn't know."

The blond frowned, as though confused, until he spotted Hagrid. "Say, look at him!"

"That's Hagrid," Harry explained.

"Oh, I've heard of him. He's a servant, isn't he?"

"He's the gamekeeper," Harry responded.

"Isn't that servant's work?" the blond asked. "Besides, I've heard all sorts of terrible stories about him. He loves all kinds of monsters, trying to raise them as pets, and that he's a bit of a drunk and he sets his bed on fire trying to do magic."

"I think he's brilliant," Harry said, starting to not like the other boy.

"Really? Why? Wait, why's he here with you? Where are your parents?"

"They're dead," Harry said shortly.

"Oh, oh, I'm so sorry," the blond said, completely in shock. "Um, they were our kind, right?"

"They were a witch and wizard, if that's what you mean."

"Oh, good. My father doesn't want me mixing with muggleborns. He keeps saying that they don't belong. They don't know our ways and keep trying to change them, and that they should keep magic in the old families."

"Well, I might as well be a muggleborn," Harry answered in an angry hiss. "My parents may have had magic, but I was raised by muggles."

"HEY! I said that my father believes that, I never said that I do!" the blond said. "But you may want to get some everyday robes and some books on our culture so you can fit in better," he said, just as Madame Malkin finished. "See you at Hogwarts," the boy said with a smile.

"See you there," Harry responded. Hmm, that actually didn't go so bad. Maybe this could go better than he thought. As Madame Malkin finished, he decided to take the other boys' advice and ordered several everyday robes in different colours.

Sunday, September 1, 2002

Harry was sitting in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express with his first confirmed friend ever, Ron Weasley enjoying his first taste of magical sweets when another boy opened the door to their compartment and asked "Sorry, but have either of you seen a toad at all?"

Ron just shook his head, while Harry said "No, sorry, but I'm sure he'll turn up. Do you want some help?"

"No, a girl named Hermione is helping me out. Thanks though. Oh, my name's Neville Longbottom."

"Try asking a prefect for help, Neville. And my name's Harry, Harry Potter." For the first time since he rejoined the magical world, someone didn't immediately look at his forehead when he introduced himself. Neville just shook his hand before heading out.

Ron started making fun of the fact that Neville had a toad and was about to attempt to turn his rat yellow when a bushy-haired girl burst in asking "Have either of you seen a toad? A boy named Neville's lost one."

Ron immediately got after her saying that Neville had already been by there asking about the toad. Harry was shocked at the rudeness of the redhead, he seemed almost as mean as his bully of a cousin, Dudley and his gang of friends. She actually seemed quite nice to him, and just as eager as him to see magic, as she encouraged Ron to do the colour-changing spell. When it failed, she started talking again. "Are you sure that it's a real spell? Well, it's not very good, is it? Of course, I've only tried a few simple ones myself, but they've all worked for me." She then sat down in the compartment across from Harry and, pointing her wand at his glasses, said "For example, oculus reparo." Immediately the tape around the bridge of his glasses unwrapped, revealing only perfectly intact metal underneath. "That's better, isn't it? Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard—I've learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough—I'm Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"

"I'm Harry, Harry Potter, and I'd bet you'll be at the top of our class, Hermione. Thanks for fixing my glasses by the way. Oh, and this is my friend Ron Weasley," Harry said as he offered her his hand. As she shook it, he asked "By the way, would you mind if I borrow any spell books you bought that weren't on the list? The man that took me to Diagon Alley didn't let me get anything more than was on the list." Hermione quickly agreed while Ron just started at him in shock.

Once Hermione left to help Neville out more, Ron turned to Harry and asked "Why the bloody hell would you want more work, Harry? She's mental, that one."

Harry glared at him before saying "You do remember why I'm famous, right, Ron? Because some nut job decided to kill me and my parents, and Hagrid thinks he's still out there. If I don't learn to protect myself as soon as possible, what's going to happen the next time he comes after me?" Ron just shrugged before launching into a discussion on Quidditch.

Ron was still explaining Quidditch to Harry when the pale boy from Madame Malkin's showed up at their compartment. With him were two boys that looked like nothing more than hired muscle: thickset and extremely mean and stupid-looking. "You're Harry, aren't you? Harry Potter?" When Harry nodded, the boy introduced himself. "My name's Draco, Draco Malfoy. I wanted to apologize for what I said at Madame Malkins, it was extremely rude of me." The muscle on Draco's left harrumphed and Draco added "Oh, and these are Crabbe and Goyle." Ron sniggered and Draco turned to him and studied him. "I can guess who you are. Red hair, freckles, second-hand robes, and an air of greed, prejudice, and disloyalty. You must be Ron Weasley." He turned back to Harry and said "You'll find that there are some wizards are better to be around than others, I can help you with that."

The look in his eyes was so desperate, it almost looked like he was begging Harry to take his hand. But Ron was his friend, wasn't he? And Draco had insulted him. "I'm sorry, Draco, but I think I can tell the wrong sort for myself. Thanks for the offer, though."

Draco looked like someone had just killed his owl. "I hope so, Harry. I'd hate for what happened to your parents to happen to you. They trusted the wrong person and it cost them their lives. Oh, and before I go, here's a bit of advice, study up on Potions, would you?" Then, before Harry could ask what he meant, Draco left the compartment, while the muscles burst in and tried to take some of the sweets Harry had bought. However, Ron's pet rat Scabbers bit the larger one before he could take anything and both scampered off after Draco. Ron then started talking about how terrible the Malfoy family was (and being extremely rude about it, again,) but Harry just sat there wondering if he'd made a big mistake in not taking Draco Malfoy's hand.

"-So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!"

Harry watched as his friends were sorted. Robin Black, a boy he'd met on the boat ride to the castle was quickly sorted into Gryffindor (a shock to most of the students and staff,) while Hermione was eventually sorted into Gryffindor as well (after nearly five minutes sitting under it.) Neville also took a long time under the hat, but also eventually ended up in Gryffindor. Draco, as he had predicted, went quickly to Slytherin, and Harry was shocked when a pair of identical twins with the last name of Patil were split up, one to Ravenclaw while the other to Gryffindor. Then his name was called, and he obediently walked up to the stool and sat down while Professor McGonagall put the Sorting Hat on his head.

"Hmm," said a small voice in his ear. "Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting…So where shall I put you?"

Put me wherever you think best, Hat, Harry thought. If he was sorted into Slytherin, then maybe he could make it up to Draco. If not, well, who knows?

"Very polite, Mr Potter, and the name is Sherlock. I honestly don't know where to send you. Both Salazar and Godric would be proud to have you in their house, and you could be great in either. Rowena would have loved you as well, but not as much as those two. Your four friends that I've already sorted would accept you no matter where you went, and I can't even use your ancestry to decide. Your father's family was scattered throughout three of the four houses, and you have Slytherin blood on your mother's side, and she was a Gryffindor herself! So, where do you want to go?" Harry quickly thought of an answer and Sherlock said, "Very well, GRYFFINDOR! Good luck, Mr Potter. I shall watch your career with great interest."

Unnoticed by Harry or any of the other students, three professors were all staring at him. All three, Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick and Albus Dumbledore were very intrigued. Harry was the first hatstall in fifty years, and they should know, as Minerva and Filius were the hatstalls. Also, he was the longest hatstall in who knew how long, it had taken the Hat more than fifteen minutes to finally decide on Gryffindor, and all three were wondering what the other option was. Severus Snape was also curious, but as a Master Occlumens, he didn't stare at Harry. However, just because he didn't stare didn't mean that he wasn't just as curious as the others. Why did it take the spawn of James Charlus Potter and his beloved sister in all but blood took so long. Maybe he wasn't as bad as he had feared? Well, he'd see on Friday . . .

Friday, September 6, 2002

By the time Friday rolled around, Harry was quite looking forward to it. He had taken Draco's advice and studied his Potions texts hard, and even managed to convince Hermione to let him read her extras during breakfast (which they usually had together, being the only two Gryffindors to get up early. Based on his observations, Hermione was also quite friendless. At least Harry had Neville and Ron.) Also, Potions class was currently one of only two classes the Gryffindors had with the Slytherins, meaning Harry only saw Draco two times a week. Unfortunately he hadn't managed to sit close enough to Draco in DADA to talk to him, but he hoped that they could still build a friendship.

Unfortunately, Potions was in one of the coldest classrooms in the Dungeons, and one of the creepiest, with Professor Snape, Head of Slytherin House keeping several animal parts floating in jars. And because the Slytherin dorms were also in the Dungeons, they had gotten there first, keeping Harry away from Draco again, leaving Harry sitting with Neville, who was quickly becoming his best friend. (And he was a far better friend than Ron Weasley was. Neville was never rude to anyone else, and definitely never picked on people as he was typically the one being picked on, mostly because he was a bit of a klutz.)

After roll, Snape began his opening speech. "There will be little foolish wand waving and no silly incantations in this class. As such, I don't expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few who possess the predisposition, I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory and even put a stopper in death." He paused his speech and looked directly at Harry, who was clearly taking notes on the speech. "Then again maybe some of you have come to Hogwarts in possession of abilities so formidable that you feel confident enough to not pay attention!" Harry looked up at that as Snape shot a question at him. "Potter, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

Harry stared at him in shock. Did he really expect him to know the answer? But seeing as how the professor was still looking at him, he answered. "Umm, a good long sleep?"

Snape just barely managed to hide his smile at that. Harry sounded so much like Lily there! He even managed to look like her while saying it! "Very good, Mr Potter, even if you didn't name the potion. The proper name is the Draught of Living Death, which you Muggle-raised students may recognize from several stories. Now, where would you look if I asked you to find me a bezoar?"

Harry raised his left eyebrow at that, nearly making Snape gasp in shock. Another thing in common with Lily! "The stomach of a goat, sir."

"Not bad. What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

"Is there a difference?" Harry asked, genuinely curious.

Snape's smile actually got large enough for everyone to notice. "Very good, Mr Potter, ten points to Gryffindor. And just so all of you know, that particular plant also goes by the name of aconite." Snape then led them through the steps necessary to make the Boils Cure potion, and by the time the class ended almost two hours later, Snape pronounced Harry and Neville's potion the best he'd ever seen a pair of First Years make in his twelve years of teaching. Neville and Harry just grinned and high-fived each other. They had found their favourite class, at least for this year.

Thursday, September 20, 2002

Madame Hooch had just led Neville away after he broke his wrist when Draco picked up the Remembrall. "Look, It's that stupid thing Longbottom's Gran sent him." He took off on his broom and then called out, "Hey, Potter, what do you say to a game of catch?"

Harry was hurt by the use of his last name, and figuring he had better save Neville's ball, so he took a quick look around for teachers then took off after Draco. "Give it here, or I'll knock you off your broom!"

Draco looked hurt at that. "You wouldn't really do that, would you Harry?"

Harry stopped moving and looked at him in confusion. "I don't get you, Draco Malfoy. You act like you want to be my friend, yet you insult Ron, steal from Neville, and down there you called me 'Potter.' Why?"

"Harry, you can't trust that Weasley, and he's a real bully. My mother's family, we all have this 'sense' of people, a kind of empathy, we know who we can trust and who we can't. As for calling you by your last name, you're a Gryffindor and I'm a Slytherin, there are certain expectations of us, especially on me. If you had shaken my hand, or if we were in the same house, then we could act at least neutral to each other in public, but until we get to Third Year, it's too dangerous."

Harry decided to take his advice into consideration, but he was confused about one thing Draco had said. "Why? What happens in Third Year?"

"Simple, the worst blood supremacists of Slytherin will have graduated by then, robbing my father of his best spies and we should be able to defend ourselves from anyone else by then."

"That still doesn't explain why you stole the Remembrall, Draco."

Draco just smiled. "I already told you, I wanted to play catch with you. I'm more of a Chaser, but that position won't be open until our Fifth Year, while the Seeker position should be open next year. That's when we'll be able to play Quidditch, officially. Besides, it really is useless, and cheap, so no loss if it breaks. If it really means that much, then I can get him another one. Good choice with Longbottom by the way, he's a very loyal and courageous chap, he'll make a great friend. Anyway, most of my year mates don't mind if we're friends if you pass a few tests. You had one on Friday during Potions, which you passed. This is another, and you've passed. So, do you want some practice?" Harry shrugged, and they tossed the ball between them, until Draco accidentally threw it too hard, and Harry dived after it, catching it just seconds before it would have broken.

As a result of the catch, McGonagall quickly recruited Harry to the Gryffindor Quidditch team, captained by the Quidditch fanatic Oliver Wood, and Draco 'challenged' Harry to a duel. Harry knew he was supposed to reject the challenge, but Ron accepted for him, resulting in a midnight adventure that nearly got himself, Hermione, Weasley and Neville killed, and nearly destroying his and Hermione's friendship. Although, Hermione did say something that would bring a smile to everyone's faces for years to come. "Now I'm going to bed before any of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed. Or worse, expelled!"

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Over the next month, Harry tended to partner with Neville for Potions, which led to the duo quickly becoming one of the best students in the class, for Gryffindor in any case, especially with them meeting Draco on the sly to study between classes. He also managed to patch things up with Hermione, and in an attempt to get Ron Weasley off his back, he became friends with his prankster brothers, Fred and George (aka Gred and Forge, or Mischief and Mayhem respectively.) When they heard his plans, they quickly inducted him into their little group of pranksters called 'The New Marauders,' named after a foursome of pranksters that had made a map of Hogwarts that the Twins constantly used. Under the Marauder name of Bolt, Harry pranked Ron mercilessly whenever the youngest Weasley did things that would hurt Harry's friendship with anyone other than him. (Ron seemed to believe that he was the only one that could ever be Harry's friend at Hogwarts, and that belief had quickly worn Harry down to the point where he'd taken up Draco's favourite nickname for Ron-Weasel.) Then Halloween came.

Damn that Weasel! If he would just learn to keep his mouth shut, this wouldn't have happened! Harry was positively furious. They had just left Charms, where they had been practicing the levitation charm, Wingardium Leviosa. Harry, as usual, had paired up with Neville (who, oddly, seemed to get better results with Harry's wand than his own. Neville had finally explained at the end of class that he was using his father's wand instead of one that had chosen him. Harry then insisted on writing to Ollivander on Neville's behalf to get him his own wand.) What got Harry mad though was the fact that Hermione and Weasel had been paired up, and Weasel had insulted Hermione when she succeeded at the charm and he didn't.

To make matters worse, Hermione had been so upset about the insults that she had ran to one of the girl's loos and completely missed the Halloween feast, meaning she had also missed Quirrell's announcement that a troll had made it into the castle! While Percy Weasley was leading the Gryffindors to their dorm, Harry quickly snuck out of line and into a secret passage that he knew led to a corridor near the loo that Hermione was in. "Hey, Harry! Wait up!"

Harry turned and was surprised to see Neville following him. "What are you doing, Neville?"

"Funny, I was just about to ask you the same question."

"Hermione doesn't know about the troll. I was going to warn her about it."

Neville just grinned then. "Well then, I'd say you'd probably like some back-up, just in case the troll finds us or her, right? I'm coming with you, Harry, and there's nothing you can do to stop me." Harry smiled at the boy that was now without a doubt officially his best friend and together, the two of them raced down the passage. When they made it to the end of the passage, they quickly found the troll. "Oh, we got lucky."

"How's that, Nev?" Harry asked.

"That's a forest troll, the weakest and dumbest of the lot. I was worried that it might be a cave or mountain troll. The cave troll is the toughest and most magical-resistant troll, while the mountain troll is the smartest out there. This should actually be pretty easy."

"Okay then, have any ideas on how to get past it?" Harry asked. Unfortunately for the duo, the troll was between them and the girl's loo, and heading in Hermione's direction.

"First, we get it's attention, then . . . do you know the freezing wind charm? You cast that while I cast the water charm. I'm not sure I can cast the wind charm, but I know I can cast Aguamenti. That should allow you to slide beneath it to Hermione." Harry looked doubtful, but he agreed. Neville then cast several noise-making charms to get the trolls' attention. As soon as it had turned towards the Gryffindor boys, Neville cast the water charm.

Harry cast Avero Frigidaris as soon as the water had hit the floor and slid along the ice that had formed beneath the troll. As soon as he stopped sliding, he stood up and ran into the loo, stopping just outside the stalls. "Hermione! Are you in here?"

"Harry? What are you doing in here? You're a boy, if you get caught in here, you'll get into trouble!" Hermione said, her eyes still red from crying.

"Hermione, there's a troll outside! We need to get going, now!" Hermione panicked and ran into Harry's arms. Harry gave her a quick hug then led her outside. Outside, they found Neville casting spell after spell at the troll, none of which Harry or Hermione knew, and (thanks to their friendship and Harry's Ravenclaw-esque study of duelling spells) they were some of the most knowledgeable in their year. Harry, knowing of Neville's weakness with magic due to his father's wand, decided to duplicate the last spell that Neville cast. With a quick Ahreose Thaec, the roof of the corridor collapsed onto the trolls' head, instantly killing it.

"Neville, where did you learn that spell?" Harry asked, extremely impressed with the magic, though he was now fairly tired. He could just imagine how Neville was feeling.

"My family . . . passed down . . . Celtic magic," Neville gasped out. He was far from the most fit person under normal circumstances, but now, he looked worse than Harry did after the most gruelling of Oliver's practices. Neville looked Harry in the eye, and they silently agreed that they were going to start physically training their bodies so they could do more magic like this, on the off chance that it was needed. "Celtic magic is . . . somewhat easier to do and . . . more powerful than the Roman . . . magic we train with here, but . . . the trade-off is that it's . . . more difficult to learn, and it uses more power," Neville explained, finally starting to catch his breath.

A moment later, Professors McGonagall, Snape and Quirrell showed up in the corridor, shocked to see the three Firsties (and even more shocked to see Hermione still clinging to Harry.) Quirrell took one look at the troll, and sat down on some of the rubble, clutching his heart, not even trying to suppress the whimper he made at the sight of it. Snape looked like he was trying not to be impressed (and, Harry noticed, his leg was bleeding.) McGonagall on the other hand, looked like she was either terrified or furious, none of them could decide which. "What on earth were you thinking? You're lucky you weren't killed! Why aren't you in your dormitory?"

"It was my fault, Professor," Hermione spoke up.

"Oh, no you don't, Hermione! I'm not letting you take the fall for that jealous prat!" Harry interrupted. Turning to the professors, he explained "Earlier today, during Charms, Hermione attempted to help Ron Weasley with the spell we were learning, and when she managed to do the charm when he couldn't, he insulted her, saying that she was a nightmare and that it was easy to see why she had no friends. Hermione unfortunately heard and believed him, although I'm not sure why," he said, turning back to his friend and gave her another hug. "Hermione then ran to the loo back there to cry, and was there when Quirrell warned us about the troll."

"Harry realized that Hermione had missed the warning, and went after her. I noticed him leaving and decided to help them. While Harry got Hermione out of the loo, I kept the troll busy. Harry then finished it off when they got out of the loo," Neville finished, having caught his breath.

To their surprise, it was Snape who spoke first. "Well then, in that case, may I suggest twenty points from Mr Weasley and a weeks worth of detentions with me or Filch for insulting a fellow student, and nearly causing her death, while twenty points each to Mr Potter and Mr Longbottom." Turning to the trio of shocked Gryffindors, (Hermione still clinging to Harry,) he said "It's nigh on impossible for three First Years to take on a fully grown troll and live to tell the tale. That you three did it, let alone managing to kill it, and in defence of a fellow student with no thought of the glory that would come, speaks highly of your character and skill." Eventually, McGonagall let them go, but she awarded thirty points to Neville and Harry, instead of the twenty suggested by Snape. That night, Hermione and Harry never went to bed, as Hermione refused to leave Harry's side. They were found the next morning by their fellow Gryffindors, asleep on the couch next to the fire.

Night of Wednesday-Thursday, May 28-29, 2003

The rest of the year had been a wild ride of ups and downs, particularly when it came to their relationship with Draco. While Harry understood the need for Draco's act, he was genuinely worried that if he kept it up long enough, the mask would become Draco's actual face and he would lose his friend. Fortunately, Draco still managed to keep meeting the three friends on the sly for homework help. Also, when the Gryffindor trio started suspecting Snape of attempting to steal the Philosopher's Stone, Draco made very logical arguments for Quirrell being the actual would-be thief. He even managed to help them get rid of a Norwegian Ridgeback baby that Hagrid had won in a card game by pretending to try to get them in trouble when it became apparent that McGonagall would have caught them. And as Harry's friendship with Draco rose, so did his rivalry with Ron Weasley. It got so bad that the Weasel had taunted him about his catch at his first Quidditch match and the fact that he wasn't wanted at the Dursley's.

Hermione on the other hand proved to be inseparable from Harry after Halloween. When Harry was on the Quidditch pitch practicing with the team, Hermione was there, sitting in the stands with at least one book with her. Even when she was reading or working on their homework, she still managed to find time to cheer Harry on, no matter what. When Harry's broom was being hexed during his first Quidditch match, it was Hermione who set Snape and Quirrell on fire to save Harry. And when the time came to get rid of the dragon, it was Hermione who helped Harry carry it to the Astronomy Tower and send it off to Charlie Weasley, who worked with dragons in Romania. Unfortunately, the two were caught by Filch, and lost fifty points each when McGonagall found out about the incident. One odd thing (at least to Harry and Hermione,) was that when the Gryffindors found out, they started teasing the duo about it, the Twins most of all. Also, after that, the Twins were often seen carrying around a little notebook, always ready for when someone would come and whisper something to them before giving the infamous duo some amount of money.

Two weeks earlier, on May 21, the three friends had done their detention for being out after curfew in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid. He had requested them so that they could find a creature that was hunting unicorns and feeding on their blood. Harry and Draco had found the being about two hours into the detention, feeding off another unicorn. They had only just managed to escape the creature thanks to the timely intervention of a centaur named Firenze, who informed the two boys that the being was in fact the Dark Lord Voldemort.

Today, only a few hours ago, Harry managed to put the pieces they'd been gathering all year into a nearly complete picture. Voldemort had infiltrated the school somehow, and using either Snape or Quirrell, had figured out how to get past all the enchantments, including Fluffy the Cerberus, and had just sent a fake message to Dumbledore in order to lure him from the school, leaving Voldemort free to attempt to steal the Philosopher's Stone that night and regain his body. Harry had convinced Hermione and Neville that they had to go after the Stone themselves, unless they wanted Voldemort to return. That night, the three friends carefully snuck out of their dorm after Harry had convinced the house-elves in the kitchen to put a mild sleeping draught in every Gryffindor's food except for theirs.

They had nearly made it to the Third Floor corridor where Fluffy was kept when the trio when they ran across Peeves the Poltergeist. "Who's there?" he said suddenly as they climbed toward him. "Know you're there, even if I can't see you. Are you ghoulie or ghostie or wee student beastie? Should call Filch, I should, if something's a-creeping around unseen."

Hit by a burst of inspiration, Harry lowered his voice into a remarkable likeness of the Bloody Baron, ghost of Slytherin, and said "The Bloody Baron has his own reasons for being invisible, Peeves." Peeves nearly fell to the bottom of the tower and he immediately started offering apologies. "I have business here, Peeves. Stay away from this place tonight."
"I will, sir, I most certainly will," said Peeves, rising up in the air again. "Hope your business goes well, Baron, I'll not bother you. But your Bloodiness should know that someone else is there besides ol' Peevsie!" Then he scooted off without another word.

"What do you think he meant by that?" Harry asked, but neither of his fellow Gryffindors had any idea what the poltergeist meant. When they arrived at the corridor, he turned to his friends and said "If you want to go back, I won't blame you. You can take the cloak, I won't need it now."

"Don't be stupid," Neville said.

"We're coming," said Hermione. Harry beamed at their response, barely believing that he had friends that were so loyal. Was this what it meant to be a family?

"I'm not leaving either, Harry," an extremely familiar voice drawled. Harry's grin grew even bigger (if that was possible) at the sight of Draco Malfoy leaning against the opposite wall, coming out from his hiding place in the midst of the shadows. "I can think of no better way to prove myself loyal to you than this, Harry. The Weasel was right on the train about one thing, my father didn't need an excuse to join the Dark Lord, but I refuse to follow in his footsteps. I refuse to bow to anyone but the royal family, and that means I need to fight the Dark Lord."

"Glad to have you onboard, Draco," Harry smiled. He then opened the door, and they were surprised to find that Fluffy had already been put to sleep with an enchanted harp.

"There, that proves it! Uncle Sev would have never used a harp, he hates them! He would have used a cello to put the beast to sleep," Draco said as he renewed the charm on the harp. Harry had to admit that the Slytherin probably had a good point, as he would know more about the Potions Master's quirks, especially as Draco was his godson.

Together the four friends then lifted the Cerberus' paw of the trapdoor, and after a short debate, Harry leapt into the unknown. The emerald-eyed boy landed with a soft FLUMP onto what appeared to be some kind of plant. "Don't worry, it's safe! I've landed on a vine of some sort!"

The three friends then jumped in, one after the other, with Neville being the last, and being the last, he was also the first to notice the vines wrapping around his friends. "Harry, I thought you said this was safe! This is Devil's Snare! Now, let me think . . . light or fire! Everyone, cast Lumos or the flame charm!" Within five seconds, the foursome fell through to the actual bottom, only a few feet below the plant.

"Is it just me, or was that surprisingly easy?" Draco asked.

"Yeah, it was, but Devil's Snare can be extremely dangerous, despite the fact that it's a First Year plant. I'm not surprised that it was used as a defence," Neville answered.

The next task was just as easy, with charmed flying keys being the only barrier to get to the next room. Between Harry and Draco, the correct key was easily found and caught. The fourth task on the other hand was far more difficult. "Well, well, what do we have here? A chessboard! This should be fun," Draco said. He then went up to the chessmen and asked "Do we need to join you to move on?" The white king nodded, and Draco turned to the others. "Alright, I'm taking the kings' place, Hermione take my bishop, Harry, my knight, and Neville, my castle." As the game really got going, Draco noted "Damn, McGonagall is good, I haven't had a challenge like this in years."

Eventually, Harry started growing pessimistic about their chances. McGonagall had completely pinned Draco, while her king was fairly safe, and all of them were threatened. Then Draco pulled what Harry believed to be the stupidest move ever: "Queen to F5." While it put the black king in check, it also put their queen in danger from the black queen, and McGonagall instantly took the queen. "Perfect. Harry, take her." Harry then saw his strategy, and couldn't have been prouder of his Slytherin friend. He had sacrificed his queen to make her king immobile, and nothing could save him. McGonagall immediately attempted to recoup her losses by moving one of her pawns to H1 and promoting it to queen, but it was over. "Hermione to C3, take that knight, and checkmate." The black king acknowledged his defeat and his broadsword fell to the ground.

The next room held an enormous gray troll that Neville identified as a cave troll-the strongest and toughest of the species. There was something very queer about it though: the troll was already out cold, if it wasn't dead. "Yet more proof in favour of your godfather and against Quirrell, eh Draco?" Harry asked. They had just made it into the sixth room when a burst of fire cut them off from the troll room and whatever was ahead. "Great, what now?" Harry asked. Draco merely pointed at a table with seven bottles on it, and a riddle.

Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,

Two of us will help you, which ever you would find,

One among us seven will let you move ahead,

Another will transport the drinker back instead,

Two among our number hold only nettle wine,

Three of us are killers, waiting bidden in line.

Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,

To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:

First, however slyly the poison tries to hide

You will always find some on nettle wine's left side;

Second, different are those who stand at either end,

But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;

Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,

Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;

Fourth, the second left and the second on the right

Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

"Okay, that is definitely Uncle Sev! He absolutely loves logic problems! He's constantly saying that most wizards have no logic at all and gives me dozens of logic problems to make sure that I'm not one of them." Draco and Hermione then put their heads together and figured out that the smallest bottle would get them into the final chamber, while the rounded bottle at the right end would send them safely back.

"The only problem," Hermione said, "is that there's only enough for one person to drink in both bottles."

"That's no problem," Draco said. "Uncle Sev knows that some people would only go by how much is left in each before moving on, so he makes sure that they can't cheat like that by having only one swallow in each bottle. Listen, we split into two groups, one going forward, the other back. One person from each group swallows their bottle, and when the bottles refill, and they will, the other person drinks. It's as simple as that!"

They quickly decided that Harry and Draco would go on, while Hermione and Neville would go back. "You take her back, even if you have to stun her, understand Neville? I don't want to risk losing her," Harry said as Hermione and Draco took their drinks.

"You can count on me, Harry," Neville answered.

Hermione's lip trembled, and she suddenly dashed at Harry and threw her arms around him. "Hermione!"

"Harry — you're a great wizard, you know."

"I'm not as good as you," said Harry, very embarrassed, as she let go of him.

"Me!" said Hermione. "Books! And cleverness! There are more important things — friendship and bravery and love. Oh Harry —be careful!"

"Always," Harry answered, just before giving her a quick peck on the lips, and Neville dragged her away.

Draco turned to his best friend and said "You realize that at least a quarter of the school think you two are already dating, don't you?"

"Really? Well, I have to say that if I had to choose someone to spend the rest of my life with right now, it would probably be Hermione." Draco just smiled as the two walked through the other fire.

Sure enough, as soon as they stepped through, they found Quirinius Quirrell, standing in front of the Mirror of Erised. "I knew it."

"Mr Malfoy? Well now, this is a surprise. I expected Potter, but not you. But then again, you two always were clever students, truly deserving of the high scores I gave you in the final. But . . . you two are far too clever, and I cannot allow you to interfere tonight." And with a snap of his fingers, the two boys were bound with ropes that seemed to come from nowhere.

Despite the burning in his scar, Harry couldn't help but be impressed. "Wordless, wandless conjuring and binding? You have help, don't you? Your 'friend' is who made you beg a few days ago, isn't it?"

"As I said, far too clever for your own good, Mr Potter."

"And Snape was on to you the whole time, that's why he went to the Cerberus on Halloween, and why he confronted you after Harry's second Quidditch match."

"Yes he was, Mr Malfoy," said Quirrell idly, walking around the mirror to look at the back. "Halloween was a complete and total bloody disaster. Not only did I not get a chance to see the defences, but the dog didn't even manage to bite Snape's leg off and you killed my troll! And after the match, he was trying to find out how far I'd got. As you guessed, he suspected me all along. Tried to frighten me — as though he could, when I had the Dark Lord on my side…"

"The Dark Lord is here?!" Draco asked in a shrill voice, now on the edge of panic.

"He is with me wherever I go," said Quirrell quietly. "Now, how do I work this mirror? Is the Stone inside? Must I break the mirror? Help me, master!"

To Harry and Draco's sudden horror, a voice answered, and the voice seemed to come from Quirrell himself. "Ussse the boy... Ussse the boy..." It was a low, dry voice, dusty like a snake's hiss.

"Yes, that could work," Quirrell said, and he levitated Harry over, not even giving him the chance to refuse. "Now, tell me, what do you see?" He saw his reflection, pale and scared-looking at first. But a moment later, 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 its pocket — and as it did so, Harry felt something heavy drop into his real pocket. Somehow — incredibly —he'd gotten the Stone. "Well? What do you see?"

Harry blanked his mind, and thought of a believable lie, and decided to modify Draco's when he described what he was seeing the one time he saw the mirror after the Christmas holidays. "I'm sitting at the head table in the Great Hall . . . I'm the Headmaster, and Draco's replaced Snape as Potions teacher."

"Oh, get out of the way, Potter! At least I see the Stone when I look at it!"

Harry fell to the ground, but luckily, the fall knocked his wand loose, and it rolled into his hand. Gripping his wand, Harry decided to try out one of the Celtic spells Neville had taught him. "Aliesin," he whispered, and the ropes fell from around him.

Harry immediately got up to go free Draco, but he froze halfway there when the raspy voice spoke again. "He lies . . . he lies."

"Potter, tell me the truth! What did you see?" Quirrell shouted.

"Never, you bastard!" Harry shouted back.

"Let me ssspeak to him, faccce to faccce," the voice said again.

"Master, you are not strong enough yet."

"I have strength enough . . . for thisss." Frozen by curiosity, Harry watched as Quirrell unwrapped his turban, only to reveal a second face on the back of his head! The second face was bone-pale with the thinnest nose Harry had ever seen, only barely more than slits, and blood-red eyes, truly the face of evil. "Harry Potter, we meet again. You see what I've become? See what I must do to survive? Live off another as a mere parasite. Unicorn blood has sustained me for these past nine months, but it cannot give me a body of my own. However, there is something that can. Something that, conveniently enough, lies in your pocket. Why suffer a horrific death when you can join me and live? And Draco, your father already serves me, why not you as well?

"Never!" Harry shouted, while Draco shouted out "Not a chance!"

"Bravery. Your parents had it too, Harry. Your father put up a courageous fight, but your mother need not have died, she was trying to protect you. Speaking of them, tell me, Harry, would you like to see your mother and father again? Together, we can bring them back. All I ask is for something in return."

"You want this?" Harry asked, pulling the Stone out of his pocket. "Sorry, but you can't have it! Ackwele!" And with a burst of blue light, the only Philosopher's Stone in existence was destroyed.

"NO! Kill him!" Quirrell flew at Harry and grabbed his throat, planning on choking him, but his hand started smoking. Quirrell pulled back in horror as his hand turned to dust. "What is this magic?!"

"Fool! Curse him!" Quirrell raised his wand to do just that, but Harry quickly disarmed him with his favourite spell, Expelliarmus, and then raced up to him and grabbed his face, all despite the pain that threatened to split his forehead in two. Quirrell eventually pulled back in pain, and to the two boy's shock, Quirrell turned to stone, which then cracked, turned to dust, and then collapsed, leaving only his cloak behind.

Harry quickly turned away to release Draco, and he asked "How did you do that, Harry?"

"Don't ask me, all I did was touch him."

"Hmm, something for your girlfriend to research this sum-Harry, look out!" Harry turned, only to see Voldemort's wraith rising from Quirrell's ashes and rush towards him. Harry dodged to the side, but the wraith still passed through him, and Harry collapsed, his magical core completely exhausted. Draco attempted to rouse him every way he knew, but Harry remained unconscious, so he levitated his friend out of the room and, once he had reunited with the others, and the three of them took Harry to the Hospital Wing (although not before Draco hid himself in Harry's invisibility cloak.) However, he received a surprise when he made it to the chess room, in the form of Headmaster Dumbledore. "You see this, Headmaster? This is what happens when you put your other duties above that of this school! No wonder my father wants you sacked!" Dumbledore just stared after the Malfoy heir in shock as the blonde rushed past him.

Friday, June 6, 2003

When Harry woke up two days later, (completely recovered,) he found the Headmaster sitting at the foot of his bed. "Good morning, Harry. You have several tokens from your friends and admirers," he said, gesturing towards a mountain of sweets. "What happened between down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrell is a complete secret. So, naturally, the whole school knows. I believe your friends Misters Fred and George Weasley were responsible for trying to send you a toilet seat. No doubt they thought it would amuse you. Madam Pomfrey, however, felt it might not be very hygienic, and confiscated it." Harry just barely managed to cover his laugh at that. M&M would never change, and he hoped they never would. Although, come to think of it, hadn't they promised one to their little sister? "And it is June 6, if you're curious, we'll be having the Leaving Feast tonight. You're friends, Ms Granger and Mr Longbottom have been quite worried."

Harry almost asked about Draco, but then he remembered that it 'wasn't proper' for a Gryffindor and a Slytherin to be friends, and he had more pressing issues to ask about. But he'd have to give the blond his birthday present as soon as he left, as Draco was probably celebrating his thirteenth birthday right now. "Is Mr. Flamel upset about what I did to the Stone?"

"Ah, you know about Nicolas? Then you did go about it properly." Go about it properly? Bloody hell, was this all just a test? "Well, Nicolas and I had a little chat, and agreed it was best all around. They have just enough Elixir to set their affairs in order. But yes, he will die. Though it seems strange to one as young as you, to the Flamels, death is like going to bed after a very long day. After all, to the organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."

Okay, that was an odd idea, but Harry had other questions. "How is it that I got the Stone, sir?"

"Ah, you see, only a person who wanted to find the Stone, find it but not use it, would be able to get it. That is one of my more brilliant ideas. And between you and me, that is saying something." So, the old codger did have a weakness after all, besides his eccentricity: Dumbledore was proud.

"Does that mean, with the Stone gone that is, that Vol-, I mean You-Know-Who, can never come back?"

"First, call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself. But, I'm afraid there are ways in which he can return. But if he is delayed again and again, why, he may never return to power."

"Voldemort said that he only killed my mother because she tried to stop him from killing me. But why would he want to kill me in the first place?"

"Alas, this I cannot tell you. Not today. Not now. You will know, one day… put it from your mind for now, Harry. When you are older… I know you hate to hear this… when you are ready, you will know."

"And why can't I know now? This is the fourth time Voldemort's tried to kill me, and I don't know why!"

"It is far too large a burden to lay on such young shoulders, Harry. When you are older, I will tell you."

Harry glared at him for a full minute before asking, "Then why couldn't Professor Quirrell touch me?"

"It was because of your mother. She sacrificed herself for you, and if there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's leaves it's own mark." Harry immediately reached for his scar, but Dumbledore kept going. "This kind of mark cannot be seen. It lives in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good." Harry really doubted this, and decided to follow Draco's suggestion and have Hermione research it.

"And what about my invisibility cloak? Do you know who sent it?"

"Ah, your father left that in my possession just before they went into hiding and I thought you might like it. Your father mostly used it to sneak into the kitchens to steal food, unless of course, he was sneaking around the castle after curfew, as you and your friends like to do."

"One more question, is it possible that I could go home with one of my friends, or even stay here during summer?"

"You don't wish to go home?"

"GO home, sir? How can I go home when I AM home, professor? Privet Drive is nothing more than a prison, sir."

"But the Dursleys are your family, are they not? I'm certain they've missed you this year."

"Yeah, missed having their own bloody house-elf that they can order around. They hate me, Professor, they hate magic, why would they ever care about me?"

"Please, Harry, that is impossible. You are family, and I'm certain they love you, and you are going back home with them." Harry growled at that, the old man didn't even listen! But then he's an adult, why should he have expected any different? Dumbledore got up to leave, until he spotted one of Harry's gifts. "Ah, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. I was most unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit-flavoured one. And since then I'm afraid, I've lost my liking for them. But I think I could be safe with a nice chocolate." The Headmaster then popped a brown coloured bean in his mouth and started to chew before spitting it out with a disgusted look on his face. "Alas! Manure." Harry gave a most malicious grin at that. There was an unexpected vengeance for not answering his question about Voldemort and ignoring him.

That evening, Harry had just barely managed to convince Madame Pomphrey to let him go to the feast, but before they started, Dumbledore stood up and gave a speech. "Another year, gone. I hope your heads are a little fuller now then when they were when you arrived. Now, as I understand it, the House Cup needs awarding. And the points stand thus: in fourth place, Hufflepuff with 352 points. In third place, Gryffindor with 425 points. In second place, Ravenclaw with 426 points. And in first place, with 472 points, Slytherin House." Slytherin was naturally extremely pleased with themselves, and Harry raised his glass at Draco in a salute, something his friend noticed and Draco responded in kind.

But Dumbledore wasn't done. "Yes, well done, Slytherin. Well done, Slytherin. However, recent events must be taken into account. And I have a few last-minute points to award. To Mr Draco Malfoy, for loyalty, Gryffindor-worthy courage and the best played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, 83 points." Every Slytherin cheered at that, though they had no idea what Draco had done to earn the points. "To Miss Hermione Granger, for the cool use of logic in the face of fire, 40 points. To Mr Neville Longbottom, for loyalty and a superb knowledge of Herbology, 40 points. And finally, to Mr Harry Potter, for pure nerve and outstanding courage, 50 points. And now, if I've done my calculations correctly, we need a change in decoration. For the first time in Hogwarts history, Slytherin and Gryffindor tie for the House Cup." Despite the animosity most of the school held towards Slytherin, the entire school burst into cheers as the House flags split evenly between the red and gold Gryffindor lion, and the green and silver Slytherin serpent.

After a fun-filled trip back to London (complete with fireworks,) Harry and his friends promised to write each other, no matter what, even if it meant using the Muggle post. Harry just smiled at that, nothing could ruin the summer, not even the menagerie that passed for his relatives.

A/N: Just to make a few things clear, in this fic, Dumbledore has completely repented of his actions surrounding his early years with Gellert, but that has left him completely jaded when it comes to how families actually treat each other. Albus cannot believe that relatives can truly hate each other, even with the evidence of his own brother staring him in his face. That is why he doesn't believe Harry, and then there is his belief in the 'impenetrable blood wards.' The reason for Draco's extremely high points is that Dumbledore actually believes he was mis-sorted and therefore treats him like an honorary Gryffindor, so he allows Slytherin and Gryffindor to tie for the cup. But don't expect that to continue!

Second, Harry didn't discover the Mirror of Erised until after Christmas break, and both Neville and Draco went with him the second time. Neville, like Harry, saw his parents, whole and proud of him, while Draco saw himself as Minister of Magic, with his friends as the Department Heads. Both Gryffindors went back to the Mirror several times, despite Draco and Hermione's warnings, before Dumbledore stopped them.

The change with Snape came because, quite simply, he discovered that Harry was truly much more like Lily than James. Oh, he'll still make the occasional snide remark, but there will be much less hostility between the two of them in this reality.