“Ah, look what we have here, Potter!” Draco said cheerfully on their first day back from the holidays.
“The mortals must have offered us a nice sacrifice of Longbottom,” said Nott maliciously.
“That’s a nice sacrifice?” Harry scoffed. “I wouldn’t touch that with a pike.” Crabbe and Goyle sniggered like idiots while Neville Longbottom awkwardly tried to hide himself behind his schoolbags.
With no warning, Draco drew his wand and pointed it at Neville. “Locomotor mortis!”
The Leg-Locker Curse hit Neville head on, and his legs snapped straight. He toppled to the ground, landed on his back, and rolled over furiously, trying to stand. Laughing, Harry and the other Slytherins stepped over him. “Pathetic,” he sighed.
“Look,” Harry told Draco during dinner. He pointed up towards Dumbledore, who was reading a just-arrived letter with a frown. “Something’s bugging him.”
“So?” snorted Draco. “It’s probably just a new Ministry law banning the storage of dangerous, valuable objects and three-headed dogs in schools full of children.”
Harry smiled weakly; it would be funny, were it not for the fact that Dumbledore actually kept highly dangerous objects and three headed dogs in a school filled with children. Children like himself.
The Headmaster frowned, stood up, whispered something to Professor McGonagall, and walked out of the Great Hall. “He’s leaving,” Harry whispered.
“You realize, I’m watching, right?” Draco pointed out. “Save the narrating for Crabbe and Goyle, will you.” Those two oafs were at the other end of the table eating… something. Harry thought it might have been a kidney pie; it also might have been a Hufflepuff.
“Quirrell’s going to make his move tonight,” Harry continued, ignoring Draco’s sarcasm. “Just look at him smirk.” Their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher certainly did look rather smug today.
“Just look at his glower,” Draco countered, redirecting Harry’s view towards Snape. “The Stone is safe.”
Snape’s eyes, usually cold, merciless, and mean, were really outdoing themselves today- had Harry been in Quirrell’s shoes, he would have been running for his life. But Quirrell sat there amicably chatting with Professor Sinistra, the Astronomy teacher, looking cheery and upbeat in a very ‘time to take over the world’ manner.
“See Potter, don’t worry about the Stone,” Draco said. “I trust Professor Snape; I don’t see why you don’t.”
Harry said nothing, but continued to eye Quirrell suspiciously.
“You’re out of bed, Potter,” Draco pointed out. It was 2 in the morning, and Harry, never a quiet waker, had accidentally woken up a few people as he got up.
“I’m going to the bathroom,” Harry lied. Draco had already said a thousand times that it would be idiocy to go try to save the Stone.
“Shut up Potter, you’re a terrible liar, let’s go,” Draco snapped, shaking his head as he went. “If you get me killed, I shall never forgive you.”
His heart feeling much lighter with the knowledge he wouldn’t be going after Quirrell alone, Harry followed after Draco, out of the Common Room, through the dungeons, and up 4 flights of stairs to Hogwarts’s banned 3rd floor corridor.
“You’re sure you want to come?” Harry asked, putting his hand to the door. He hoped he didn’t look as scared as he felt.
“Actually, I am sure,” Draco snapped. “I don’t want to come at all. I want to be down in my dormitory, sleeping in my bed, dreaming about Granger getting expelled. But no, here I am instead, following you on your noble self-righteous quest to save the Philosopher’s Stone from Professor Quirrell, who, for the record, couldn’t threaten the Wizarding World even if he did have unlimited gold and longevity.”
“Furthermore,” continued Draco, but he was cut off by the sound of harp-music. Harry had opened the door and slipped in to find Fluffy asleep, and the trap door opened. “That’s a big dog,” Draco muttered, inching past Fluffy.
“Excellent,” Harry whispered. “The dog is asleep.”
“Are you mental?” demanded Draco. “That means Quirrell is already down there, stealing the Stone.”
Harry, who hadn’t thought of that, said nothing. Instead, he peered down into the abyss below the trap door. “I’m going in,” he said, then stepped into the hole. He plummeted what felt like a dozen feet before landing on a soft cushion of some kind of plant. “It’s soft!” he yelled up to Draco.
“Excellent,” he drawled sarcastically. “I smell a trap.” Then he too jumped into the pile of vines.
Suddenly, Harry felt something tugging on his left arm- then his right- then his right trainer. At first, he thought they were snakes, but then he realized- “Draco, this plant is wrapping itself around us!”
“Well then make it stop!” Draco screamed, as the vines closed around his throat.
“I speak to snakes, not plants!” Harry yelled frantically.
“You speak to snakes?!” Draco demanded, gaping at this new detail about his best friend.
“Yeah, I set a boa constrictor at the zoo free once,” Harry told him proudly. “But this isn’t the time! What is this stuff?”
“I have no idea!” Draco cried, tugging desperately against the knotted vines around him.
“Incendio!” yelled a high-pitched, annoying voice from above. A fire exploded into being only inches away from Harry, and started spreading quickly. The plant hurriedly withdrew from that spot, allowing Draco and Harry to freefall downwards another couple feet onto a cold stone floor.
“Not to complain or anything,” muttered Draco, staring above at the burning, tangled mess above us, “but could you have picked a more dangerous way to free us? Lighting the plant on fire?!”
Surprised, Harry turned to him. “I didn’t light that plant on fire. I thought you did.”
“I did,” said Pansy Parkinson, landing in between Harry and Draco. Before Harry could demand what she was doing here, she answered: “I heard you two leaving the Common Room, so I thought I’d follow you. So what’re you doing?”
Harry and Draco shared a glance, then acted simultaneously. Raising his wand, Harry shouted “Petrificus Totalus!” as Draco said “Rictusempra!”
The Body-Bind Curse and the Tickling Charm both hit Pansy head on; she collapsed on the floor, rigid as a board, giggling all the way.
“Come on then,” said Harry, eager to continue on their way.
They made their way past a knocked out troll, caught an old silver key with wings, and played chess across a third room. When Harry asked Draco where he learned to play chess so well, Draco shrugged it off and told him “You don’t survive very long in British rich boy society without knowing how to play chess, ride a horse, or fence.”
Before Harry could ask Draco if he could do those other things, they found themselves in a room filled with bottles of potions and ringed with black flames. After Harry read the riddle that accompanied the potions, he said “I don’t get it, do you?”
Draco examined the potions for a long time before answering- “We should take this one,” he said finally. He was holding up the smallest bottle.
“How do you know?!” asked Harry- that riddle had stumped him.
“Wine has a smell to it, three are all the same colour, so they’re the poison, which leaves these two. One of them’s already been drunk from, meaning…”
“Meaning Quirrell is already in there,” said Harry.
“Yeah,” agreed Draco. “There’s not much potion left in here. Wait here while I go-”
“No,” refused Harry flatly. “This was my idea, not yours. I’ll go.” Draco looked at his best friend for a few moments before reluctantly nodding his head.
“Alright Potter. Good luck,” he said, patting Harry on the back. “Don’t get killed.”
Palms sweating, Harry drank the little bit of potion left in the tiny vial and hoped it was enough to get him through the black flames ahead. His body felt icy- he guessed it wouldn’t last very long. He stepped through the black flames.
Quirrell was staring at a mirror in a large circular room- he was so preoccupied, he didn’t notice Harry arrive. He aimed his wand at the small of Quirrell’s back and shouted “Petrificus Totalus!”
With lightning-like reflexes, Quirrell whipped around and conjured up a wall of shiny blue energy, which shattered Harry’s curse upon impact. He pointed his wand to blast Harry into oblivion, then realized who it was.
“You?!” he demanded angrily. “Potter?! You’re not supposed to be here. I was waiting for Snape!”
A hissing moan could be heard throughout the room, but Harry couldn’t identify the source. “Silence, Quirinus. This is even better. Let me face him. Myself.”
“Master, you are still too-” began Quirrell, but his body was visibly jolted by pain. Harry’s scar began to sear painfully as Quirrell’s hands, moving by themselves, unraveled his turban. Harry was surprised at how small his head looked without it.
He turned around slowly, facing away from Harry- and towards him. There was a gaunt, evil, ugly face on the back of Quirrell’s bald head, twisted into a nasty smile.
“You don’t think I’m too weak, do you Potter?” asked the second face.
“W-who are you?!” Harry stuttered, struggling to retain focus- his scar was really killing him.
“You don’t recognize me?!” it snarled. “You ruined me, scattered me to the four corners of the earth, but don’t recognize me?!”
“Voldemort,” Harry realized.
“Yes,” the Dark Lord hissed, pleased with the flinch that went along with hearing his name said aloud.
“Why are you here?” Harry asked, wondering what he would buy with unlimited gold- a fancier turban maybe?
“For immortal life, obviously!” snapped the face, clearly angry. “To think I was stopped by this imbecile! Quirrell! Kill him!”
Severus Snape descended quietly beneath the trap door. Tonight, he was sure, Quirrell would make his move to steal the stone. He landed gracefully, confused by the lack of Devil’s Snare around. Then he said Pansy Parkinson on the floor, stiff as a board and crying with tears. “Those two!” he realized, and sprinted off.
It was as he’d feared- the troll was knocked out, the room of keys was opened, the chess pieces were shattered into stone fragments, and Draco Malfoy was standing nervously by the table of potions. “Professor!” he yelled out, “Harry’s inside, he-”
Without waiting to listen to Draco, Snape pulled up two of the bottles- a purple one filled with the potion that would take someone backwards to the chess room, and a bottle of poison. He dumped one into the other, waited for the icy feeling, and sprinted through the black flames. Draco followed him in, but he barely noticed.
This time though, there was a surprise- Quirrell, turban off, was rolling around on the floor, wrestling with Harry Potter, both of whom were shrieking ungodly wails of pain. Potter’s scar was almost glowing with bright golden light, and Quirrell’s arms and everything Harry touched was being seared a bright shiny red. A faint hiss was crying out, “Kill him you fool, kill him!”
Snape’s blood ran cold when he heard that sound- it still terrified him after so many years, that voice. Without noticing it, he touched his right forearm.
Now there was a decision to be made- he’d come here to stop Quirrell, a despicable idiot, from acquiring the Philosopher’s Stone. But now he knew what was going on- it was his old master, trying to regain his power. Did he support him now, and once more sit at the Dark Lord’s right hand? Or did he reaffirm his decision of so many years ago, and punish the man who killed Lily Evans?
Pointing his wand and hoping he made the right decision, he shouted “Avada Kedavra!”
Harry’s head felt like it would split open, but he continued to grab Quirrell everywhere he could- his face, his hands, his wrists, his neck. Everywhere he touched, Quirrell burned, and he needed to keep Quirrell from getting away and cursing him. In the back, Voldemort was egging Quirrell on, telling his vessel to hurry up and kill. His anger was rising- Harry could feel the pain in his forehead intensifying.
The sound of Snape’s curse startled both combatants, who looked up in surprise. The jet of green light flew over Harry and blasted Quirrell back. He fell upon the ground, unmoving and dead. The room was quiet.
“Severus, what have you done?” moaned the faint voice of Lord Voldemort. A gaseous vapor was rising from Quirrell’s body, almost recognizable as the face of Lord Voldemort.
“Begone, oathbreaker,” Snape snapped, and blasted the vapors away with another curse. The shrieks of the Dark Lord as his essence was scattered into millions of pieces filled all of Hogwarts and the surrounding countryside with piercing, agonizing, noise.
“That was for Lily,” Snape whispered.
Then Harry passed out.
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