Not much to say except I did a little editing on the first two chapters. A few spelling mistakes caught my eye and I wanted to change somethings. Nothing major.

I plan to reach the end of the year in this chapter, however, I won't publish chapters longer than 15K, which seems excessive.

Please don't think Harry is a coward. Being terrified of social interactions is a common symptom in prisoners who experience long term isolation.

Because I like to discuss stuff I created a Forum for this story. You can ask me questions there.

Using the Ravenclaw people we don't know much of anything about I had to put together some basic dossiers on their personalities and families, I want to keep them separate unique characters so let me know how I did.

I think that is everything, let's make some Christmas.

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"He was the sort of person who stood on mountaintops during thunderstorms in wet copper armor shouting 'All the Gods are bastards.'"-Terry Pratchett

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When Harry told Hermione that he and Daphne had discovered what was being guarded under the Cerberus, she had been uncertain how to react. It certainly explained why none of the books she had examined yielded results. Nicolas Flamel had little business being in Important Modern Magical Discoveries nor A Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry. Of course, not knowing anything at all about what was in Dumbledore's package had made her task herculean.

She had been convinced she would have been able to find it, if only she'd had access to the restricted section of the library. Unfortunately, you needed a specially signed note from one of the teachers to look in any of the restricted books. These were the books containing powerful dark magics, never taught at Hogwarts. They were only read by older students studying advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Or just the Dark Arts.

He had once spotted a copy of The Mind, The Maze within and he, better than most, understood the need for legilimency to be controlled knowledge. Of course, he was also secretly proud of his talent and glad for its restricted nature at the school.

When the holidays actually began, Harry found himself saying goodbye to Tracey and Daphne. They would be spending their holidays together at the Davis' household. Daphne would also spend time with her sister at her home, before coming back at the start of next term. She was thrilled about that, even if she didn't say so.

She didn't need to when he could feel it coming off of her in waves.

He had been picking up Hermione's homesickness, too, as well as an anxiety to see her parents, for days now. She desperately wanted to suitably impress them with her new magical knowledge. It seemed to stem from a subconscious guilt that she had somehow de-railed her parents' lives with her magical nature, unless he was misreading her. He waved goodbye to both her and Neville as they boarded the express, finally leaving him all alone.

He was relieved he no longer need to put on an act, but he also knew he would miss them sorely. It was an unfamiliar feeling which he only recognized from his experiences in the minds of others. Especially Hermione and Daphne, who had both come to Hogwarts with people to miss.

From Harry's dorm, only Michael Corner had stayed at Hogwarts and he, like most other Ravenclaws, treated him with suspicion. Lisa Turpin seemed to have tried to defend him, but right now she was back home for the Holidays with her muggle parents. Su and Mandy had also returned home, making Michael and Harry the only first-year Ravenclaws left in the castle.

On Christmas Eve, Harry went to bed looking forward to the next day for the food and the fun, not expecting any presents at all. When he woke early in the morning, however, the first thing he saw was a small pile of packages at the foot of his bed. He was more than a little surprised, and found he couldn't barely speak.

"Merry Christmas, Michael," he managed, tone strictly polite to hide the strange sensation bubbling up in his chest.

The other boy returned his sentiment warily, like he was worried Harry would suddenly start summoning snakes if he didn't.

Harry received nothing from his Aunt and Uncle, which at least met his expectations. Hermione had gifted him a box of chocolate frogs. He enjoyed chocolate, so he opened one, catching the evasive thing with a seeker's reaction and taking its head off. A kindly looking old man stared back at him from the card, almost seeming to taunt him with the bold label 'Nicolas Flamel'.

Harry glared at it.

Neville, bless his soul, had gotten him a broom maintenance kit. Harry discovered that he quite enjoyed the smell of the broom polish. There were also some tools to help keep the straw together and help maintain some of the charms. All in all, fairly thoughtful.

Tracey got him a him a box of owl treats for Hedwig. He had started to suspect that Tracey was closer to his owl than she was to him. She always cooed softly at the bird and stroked her feathers whenever the chance arose. Hopefully, with one of her own, she would stop that.

Daphne had gotten him an Occlumency book. A note from her read that he would have to return it since it was part of her father's library, but he was pleased all the same. Occlumency wasn't his forte within the mind arts, but he was hardly going to tell her how often he touched her thoughts.

He placed Occlumency, A Comprehensive Guide in his trunk. He would study it later in more depth. He had currently reached a wall with his legilimency. He wanted to push deeper and perform the probing techniques that were discussed in The Mind, The Maze, but he wasn't certain who he should, or could, practice on. He supposed there were some moral quandaries to have as well.

He smiled at his gifts. It felt good, and he couldn't have dropped his grin if he wanted to.

He glanced down at the last package from the now diminished pile. He picked it up and held it in his hands. It was light, but fairly large. He opened it up.

Something fluid and silvery gray pooled on the floor like mercury. It lay in gleaming folds and, when he picked it up, it felt like water under his fingers. He picked it up to look closer, only to blink as his hand vanished. He almost gasped and dropped it, but he could still feel his fingers and the cloth against it. He was invisible. A note fluttered out of one of the shimmering folds of magical fabric.

Upon it, written in narrow, cursive writing he had never seen before, were the words:

Your father left this in my possession before he died.

It is time it was returned to you.

Use it well.

A Very Merry Christmas to you.

-Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

He should really use his initials.

It belonged to his father, and that made his caresses of the cloak that much more reverential.

After just holding this small piece of his legacy in his hands for a while, he folded it neatly and placed it in the bottom of his trunk. He didn't want to share it with anyone, not even with his friends, at least not yet. It felt… intimate.

Harry decided to make his way to the Great Hall. He turned a corner on the second floor and stepped onto a floating staircase. He heard a croak and looked to his left. There, riding a staircase upwards away from Harry, was Trevor. He stared at Neville's familiar until it was out of sight.

He managed to spot the Weasley twins dragging their prefect and first year brothers into the Great Hall. Percy Weasley had his arms trapped inside of sweater and, with no arms free, was at the mercy of the twins. He had Harry's sympathies. Following them in, Harry was met with an incredible sight.

Boats of gravy floated next to mountains of potatoes and hams. There must have been hundreds of roast turkeys and oceans of cranberry sauce across a single table. It made the Dursley's best holidays party look like a joke. There were stacks of wizard crackers everywhere there wasn't food, and every few moments one would explode with enough riotous fanfare to make Seamus Finnigan jealous. The twins were setting one off every time their older brother tried to speak, sending puffs of green and red smoke into the prefect's face and leaving white mice or doves skittering away.

Slightly unsanitary, but undeniably merry.

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled at him all the way from the high table. Harry reached out with his mind and sent all the gratitude he could muster for his father's cloak towards the old man's twinkling eyes. The old man nodded at him, sending a much more delicate and precise reply compared to Harry's clumsy attempt, an image of a young redheaded witch gazing up at a massive Christmas tree in wonder.


It was pretty much the best Christmas of all time.

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Harry stayed up that night running the cloak through his fingers again.

Use it well.

All of this wonderful castle was now his to explore. He could go wherever he pleased, but where? What should he see? The Great Hall again? The library? The restricted section! He'd had his eye on Breaking and Entering the Mind since he'd first seen it on one of those tantalizing shelves.

He made his way down to the stacks and found the library pitch-black and very eerie.

Let there be light.

He thought.


The Restricted Section was right at the back of the library. He stepped carefully over the cordon and walked to where he knew the book he wanted sat, just waiting for his perusal. Some he hadn't spotted before looked interesting. Rituals for the Desperate and Secrets of the Darkest Arts had gold and silver letters which seemed to coax him in. They both looked like they had been sitting in some dank, chamber somewhere for a long time before they were brought here. He eyed them both before moving deeper into the shelves. There it was, just past Tricks to Bewilder a Legilimens. He took it softly, ignoring the whispers which seemed to come from a blood-stained Curses to Terrify.

He opened it.

An Introduction to Pain

Not a particularly welcoming introduction section. Not at all what he wanted to do to his friends.

He took it anyway and departed the library, almost walking straight into Filch. He doubted that, had he collided with the caretaker, he would have remained undetected. He ducked past the man, almost gagging at the proximity and darted away. He ducked into a classroom once he thought he was far enough away and sighed in relief.

He attempted to clear his mind and relax, taking in his surroundings curiously. It was one of the unused classrooms. There were more than a few of those, since the magical population had declined since the founders' day. This room though, contained something special.

A wonderfully carved mirror with words etched across its arch that read: 'Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi'.

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Harry picked unenthusiastically at his food the next morning, exhausted. He had sat in front of the mirror all night, and when he finally dragged himself away it was all he could think about. He had determined the message in the backwards lettering, although personally, he firmly believed that the lettering should be mirrored. He returned that evening to have another look, telling himself that he had to be certain about what he had seen. It was nothing but a convenient excuse, and he knew it. He simply longed to see it again.

He pulled off his cloak and moved to stand in front of its gilded surface.

"Back again, Harry?" He knew immediately he was caught, and he turned slowly. Professor Dumbledore was sitting on a desk pushed up against the wall. Harry must have walked directly past him and never noticed. He'd been too focused on the mirror.

"I didn't see you, Headmaster."

Dumbledore hummed. "Strange, how near-sighted being invisible can make you," Harry was relieved to see a smile on the old man's face.

"So," said Dumbledore, slipping off the desk to sit on the floor with Harry, "you, like hundreds before you, have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised." His gaze shifted to Harry. "I expect you've realized by now what it does? It seems to have captured your interest even more than your new copy of Breaking and Entering the Mind."

Harry nodded, there was little point in lying. "You saw then?"

"I don't need a cloak to become invisible," Dumbledore informed him, typically mysterious. "Now, can you think what the Mirror of Erised shows us all?" A disillusionment charm then. Harry had only read about them and had never even considered attempting it. It was supposed to be incredibly complex.

"It shows us 'not our face, but our heart's desire', Sir."

Dumbledore nodded. "The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Not just our desires, which are often fleeting, it shows us our most desperate dreams. However, it provides us with neither truth, nor knowledge."

Harry disagreed immediately, and his face must have given his thoughts away because the headmaster raised an eyebrow and looked at him. "Oh? Something you know, Harry?"

Harry hesitated. "I didn't know I desired this, Sir."

Dumbledore considered that for a moment, before nodding. "Perhaps," he conceded gently, "I suppose, in that same vein, you would consider amortentia a useful tool for learning about oneself?" Upon seeing the boy's confusion, he elaborated. "A powerful love potion, Harry. One that produces obsession in those who drink it. It smells like only those scents which would touch us most deeply."

Harry tried to decipher what the headmaster meant, before nodding. "You could learn who you loved by smelling it, or at least how they smelled."

He wasn't sure if Dumbledore agreed. Which made him more than nervous. The silence seemed to stretch on before the wizened man spoke again.

"The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow, Harry, and I ask you not to go looking for it again. If you ever do run across it, you will now be prepared. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. Remember that. Now, why don't you put that admirable cloak back on and be off to bed?"

Harry stood up, having forgotten how cold and hard the floor was. He extended a hand to help his magical guardian to his feet.

"Can I ask you something, Sir?"

"Obviously, you've just done so." Harry stared at him, and Dumbledore smiled. "You may ask me one more thing, however."

"What do you see when you look in the mirror?"

"Myself?" Dumbledore didn't so much as glance at the Mirror. "I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks." Harry stared again, unable to believe that the greatest wizard in the world desired, above all other things in his nearly bi-centennial life, socks.

"And you, Harry?"

Harry glanced back at the mirror. He saw himself standing there, holding his wand as his eyes glowed with power, much like Dumbledore's had back at Privet Drive. His wand was bright, and a powerful spell seemed anxious to escape. There was a blue light glowing just off the tip, wreathed in swirling wisps of white caught in the orbit of the glowing end. He was strong, and taller than Harry was now. An adult. He had a billowing cloak and fine, neat robes. He was regal and eldritch power seemed to pour from the man in the mirror. This man wasn't afraid of anything, certainly not other people, why should he be? How could he possibly be? The man in the mirror could strip every thought, tear any memory, feel any emotion someone had ever had in an instant.

The man in the mirror was a great wizard, who never longed to be shut in a cupboard. He was happy, and not the slightest bit empty inside. This was the man Dumbledore had described, a man who could stare into the Mirror and see nothing but himself.

"A new set of robes, Sir."

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Dumbledore had convinced Harry not to go looking for the Mirror of Erised again, and for the rest of the Christmas holidays the invisibility cloak stayed folded at the bottom of his trunk. Harry wished he could forget what he'd seen in the mirror as easily, but he couldn't. He understood the warnings Dumbledore had given him much more clearly. It was addictive, and that made it dangerous.

He found himself pouring over his books on mind magic, committing little time to practicing other spells. He even sent a few mind probes digging through the head of Ron Weasley. The boy had earned it by thinking Harry was so evil, even if Harry hadn't known about such thoughts until he had already invaded the boy's mind.

Ernie Macmillan, who had called Harry the next Dark Lord, earned the headaches Harry's attention brought him in a much more direct manner.

Daphne was coming back the day before their next term started, and Harry debated with himself on sharing his revelations with the Mirror. Hermione would only scold him, and Neville would only be frightened by what Harry saw. And, though he cared about her, Tracey couldn't keep a secret even if you obliviated her. He elected to keep the cloak and his vision in the mirror to himself.

Harry would, at least, have the pleasure of returning the book to Daphne. He had already finished, and had discovered it mentioned a practice called augeomency. He found his casting was faster with this new knowledge on breathing and mind clearing exercises. He didn't know much about it, but resolved to discover more on the subject. He was already considering making another run to the library to find new material. He wanted something less… agonizing, than Breaking and Entering the Mind. He read Daphne as soon as he saw her, enjoying by proxy her happiness from the break.

"I finished the book you sent me, and figured you'd want it back as soon as possible." She just looked at him in shock as she accepted the book from him.

"How did you have time for that?"

"What else would I have been doing?"

[I should have known the only thing he got up to was studying.]

"How was your Christmas?" He asked, having missed her emotions. "Did you see your sister?"

"Astoria and I had a wonderful holiday. It was nice to see her again. She won't be coming for another two years, so she wanted to hear all about Hogwarts and the Boy-Who-Lived." She had a smirk on her face.

"Did you tell her you were friends with me?"

She shook her head with a smirk, "I told her you were a dangerous dark wizard."

He laughed at that.

Tracey thanked him profusely for her new owl. She had named it Silver and had already pawned some of the treats she bought for Hedwig to feed it. He handed her all of the ones he had left, and listened to her talk for almost an hour straight about Daphne's stay at her house.

"You know we had Daphne put the star on top of the tree. Since she was a guest and all, my mother insisted, and when she tried to put it on she almost fell and took the whole tree down with her. She wasn't hurt or anything like that, but she screamed a little and turned all red. She stayed embarrassed for at least four hours."

"Half an hour at the most," Daphne protested, ruining her case somewhat by turning pink.

Tracey gave her a confident smirk. "We timed it, me and Dad. My mother was so worried, but we just wondered how long it would take you to turn back."

"That's what you were doing?" Daphne looked shocked, she evidently remembered a time when that might have actually happened. She turned even darker red as Harry laughed, absorbing their feelings.

When Neville came back he was frantically looking for his toad, but it was already gone. Harry decided that he would try and keep an eye on it next time he saw it, not only to help, but to see what it did. Neville also thanked him for the cactus seeds.

"Have you tried to grow them yet?"

Neville shook his head. "I'm waiting until it gets warmer, you're supposed to plant them in the summer."

Hermione had missed the library deeply, but now she was reunited with her long-lost love and spent six hours the day before term started, inside. She was determined to take first in their class rankings for the entire year and not to finish behind him. He didn't know how she expected to do it while reading Famous Wizards of the Modern Era, but he didn't try to coax the bushy haired girl out of it.

His biggest surprise had been Lisa, who caught him in the common room at the end of the day.

"I just w-wanted to thank you for your present," she managed to stammered out, "e-e-even though I didn't get you anything." He noticed Terry Boot looking like he expected Harry to start cursing everyone in the room.

He smiled and nodded. "It was my pleasure, and don't worry about it, I'll see you in Charms tomorrow." They would continue to be partners until the end of the year, according to Professor Flitwick. He felt her relief, embarrassment and a combination of other odd emotions as he stepped past her to the boys' dormitory.

Terry Boot almost looked disappointed, and earned himself a headache for it.

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Quidditch was starting again, along with everything else. Harry dearly hoped that his second game of Quidditch would be more memorable than his first. He told Hermione as much and she hit his arm.

"I can't believe you are going to play again after what happened the first time!"

What could he say? He loved flying. He thought it was an awful lot like legilimency, allowing him to feel free and confident. He loved the rush of the crowd. The air became so thick with thier emotions that there was nothing empty anywhere. During a match, to his senses, the crowd bloomed like a setting sun. He compared it to Daphne's feelings on using charms to enchant, and Neville's feeling of success in Herbology, or even Hermione's feeling when she answered a teacher's question.

If they won their next match against Slytherin, the house of snakes would be knocked out of the Quidditch cup for the first time in seven years. The Slytherin team had a lot of their experienced players graduate the year before, so Harry had high hopes.

He did not envy the Gryffindors in their upcoming game against Hufflepuff. Snape was supposed to referee. He could only imagine that it would end in disaster for the lions. That was all very well, but he had another reason for not wanting Snape near him while he was playing Quidditch. When he had told Daphne that, she had hit his other arm.

Quidditch training had another upside, in that it helped Harry fall asleep, or, at the very least it prevented him from staying up all night reading Subtle Legilimency Techniques. His obsession had become somewhat dire; so much so, that all his friends had commented on it.

Even Lisa had said, "What happened to you? You must feel awful!" in Charms, before promptly turning pink. He couldn't exactly tell her that he was trying learn how to break into other people's minds. He thought she might react poorly to that. She suggested that he get more sleep when he told her it was just Quidditch training.

Daphne, Neville, Hermione and Tracey had disagreed. When he mentioned that it was Quidditch that was bothering him, they ran with it and had offered suggestions.

"Don't play," Tracey recommended.

"Say you're ill," Neville tried

"Pretend to break your leg," Hermione offered.

"Really break your leg." He took a step away from Daphne at that suggestion. "What? You don't think they would check?"

Less fortunately, the return to school and the resuming of classes also meant Malfoy was back. Once, Neville was almost thirty minutes late to a study session with Harry, eventually hopping over to their usual table in the library. Malfoy had used a Leg-Locker curse on Neville, and he must have hopped all the way there.

"He said he'd been looking for someone to practice that on," Neville informed him glumly.

Harry was furious that not one person had applied the counter curse on his friend. He was so angry, parseltongue had almost slipped into his speech when Harry told Neville he shouldn't worry.

"Malfoy is nothing but a pale shadow of his criminal father, and you're the spitting image of yours, a hero."

He performed the curse over and over on Neville after teaching him the counter curse so that it wouldn't happen again. He also taught Neville the knock-back hex, actually wanting to teach him the piercing hex. Neville had thought that might be a little extreme. Harry disagreed.

Malfoy reminded him too much of Dudley.

Daphne, who had never seen him angry, had left early during their practice that day. He was too angry to even bother reading her to find out why. It took him to the end of the day to calm down, but by that time he'd thought of a sufficient revenge.

Arrogant twat.

He, none too gently, took hold of the memory of cursing Neville and pushed some of that pain into Malfoy's head the next few times he saw the blond git. He aimed to form an association Pavlov would be proud of.

When you don't take the carrot, you get the stick.

Malfoy had needed several headache draughts from Madam Pomfrey to make it through the week.

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Harry didn't know whether he was imagining it or not, but he seemed to keep running into Professor Snape wherever he went. At times, he even wondered if Professor Snape might be following him, trying to catch him on his own. The man seemed somehow suspicious of him after Malfoy's pains and ever since their first lesson Harry suspected that the man also knew legilimency. He strongly considered warning his friends, but didn't know how he would explain his suspicions.

Potions lessons were becoming more bearable, though. His hours spent studying materials meant that he was more than able to improve on the recipes Professor Snape provided. Professor Snape seemed to have allowed a begrudging respect for his dedication.

Harry's probes were getting stronger, but they were still pitiful for finding particular memories. They seemed to only cause his targets pain, since he struggled to direct his way through other people's minds by sending impressions or emotions. However, memories he did receive were a now substantially longer and, sometimes came with brief moments of both sound and image rather than one or the other.

After Gryffindor's triumph over Hufflepuff in their game, seeing them play had made him more excited for his own upcoming match. Their flying foxes had run away with the score so much that Hufflepuff had no hope of keeping up. Even with Professor Snape calling questionable fouls, Gryffindor would be in the house cup.

On the day before his match Harry was walking to Charms, early, as he usually did, and Lisa decided to join him. She would sometimes come down from Ravenclaw tower with her friends, or when she wanted some advice before Charms, or any other class. Harry knew that it was just an excuse to talk to him; she would be too nervous otherwise. They were now able to talk more casually, and Harry found he didn't have to carry the quite as much. A relief, for somebody like him. She considered him a friend now, even if she never said so, and she was easily the most skittish out of the two of them.

"Michael Corner used the debate podiums last night with Terry Boot. He argued using historic examples that parseltongue isn't evil, and several wizards from the Gaunt family were never dangerous. Of course, someone pointed out that the Gaunt family tended to have a penchant for going mad. I thought that it was the exception rather than rule, though. I wonder if…" It was very Ravenclaw of them, and of her.

He looked to see why she had stopped talking.

There was a group of people huddled around something, all first years. Harry heard a voice stammering out.

"Y-y-your just a sh-sh-shadow of your f-father, a-a c-cr-riminal." It was Neville and Harry could imagine who he was talking to. Harry began to walk towards the huddling group of first years. Lisa looked at him, wide eyed, and followed behind, clutching her books close to her chest.

"How dare you speak about my father that way Longbottom, you filthy squib! Expelliarmus!" Harry recognized Neville's wand traveling through the air. Towards Malfoy's hand. Harry's ears roared. He reached across his chest and drew his wand from the robe pocket over his heart.

He held out his left hand and just like he had at the Dursleys used his magic to move something. He gave the wand an extra push and Neville's wand abruptly sped up, flying over Malfoy's outstretched hand and over his head. Everyone turned to follow its path straight into Harry's awaiting left hand.

"H-Harry." Neville sounded more than a little relieved.

Harry saw red. How dare Malfoy touch Harry's things?

"Hey Neville, having a good morning?" He asked with mock earnestness. His glare never wavered from Malfoy's smug face. "I just found this and I thought I'd return it to you." Lisa had stopped walking with him, taking a step to the side and gaping at him.

Malfoy sneered and opened his mouth. "Potter, coming to save your useless friend?"

Harry kept walking. "You're very brave with your little goons standing there." There was nothing little about Crabbe and Goyle, except the one thing that mattered; their magical talents, or rather lack thereof. His speech had warbled between English and Slytherin's noble tongue. It had the desirable effect of encouraging everyone watching to step away from him, forming a circle of bodies around him and Malfoy.

The blond began, "If you think-"

"Flippendo," Harry whispered. Though he desperately wanted to use the piercing hex praefigo, or the diffindo's more sinister twin lacero, or even the Puncturing curse compungo.

The spell hit Malfoy's chest and lifted him right off his feet. He was flung bodily down the corridor three meters, for a rough landing on his ass. He was wheezing hard and almost crying, prompting Crabbe and Goyle to step forward. Harry wanted to enter their minds and use some of the things he had learned, but he figured that Dumbledore would disapprove. Though tempting, the idea of Malfoy collapsing with blood running from his nose would only come back and bite him later.

"Petrificus totalus," he incanted at one, then, "Wingardium Leviosa." Goyle fell on his face immediately, while Crabbe floated upwards the moment he stepped forward to swing his fist at Harry.

Are these even wizards?

Harry stepped past the both of them and handed Neville his wand. "I'll see you in the library later, Neville." Neville was still staring at Malfoy gasping for breath. Harry turned back around to see Lisa looking at him, horrified.

And we had made so much progress.

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Harry's team was eying him warily on the Quidditch pitch the next day, the Slytherin team even more so. He briefly wondered who Daphne and Tracey would be cheering for.

He kicked off from the ground at the whistle and circled the pitch like a hawk. Slytherin's chaser game was better than their own, so Harry would occasionally dive bomb them to break up their formations and prevent them from putting too much pressure on the Ravenclaw goals, however, the score was steadily turning in Slytherin's favor.

They would be in trouble against Gryffindor, even if they won this game. The Gryffindor chasers were brilliant, and the Weasley twins were in a class of their own, communicating to each other and setting up shots with the bludgers with unbelievable intuition.

Luckily, Slytherin's beaters were not one half so well coordinated, and Harry found Ravenclaw's beaters were perfectly capable of keeping their team safe.

He spotted the snitch, diving through the Slytherin team one last time and seeing the Slytherin seeker, a small boy from third year, ignore Harry and continue looking for the snitch. In a flash of blue and bronze, Harry pivoted on his broom and held up the snitch proudly for all to see, grinning.

Someone had held onto their Potter for President banner and it waved furiously in the resulting cheer.

As he slowly rotated in place, taking in the applause, he spotted a fist fight breaking out in the stands near the Gryffindor section. Red and blond hair went down in a flurry of flailing limbs. If Malfoy chose someone else to antagonize, that was fine by Harry.

Not my problem.

After the incident with Malfoy, and once he could stop worrying about the impending Quidditch match, he had attempted to repair things with Lisa. It took a few days, but eventually she started following him to Charms again.

"Sorry about what happened with Malfoy," he told her. "It wasn't what I had in mind when I woke up that morning."

She gave him a nervous look.

"I think you're a good friend for helping Neville… it's just… if… parseltongue sounds creepy and, I… well… not that you're creepy… it's just…" He looked into her eyes and found what she was trying to say.

"I think I understand. It's just unnerving. It's unnatural." She was giving him an apologetic look. She didn't understand his ability, so it unsettled her a little.

He shrugged. He hardly cared about something like that. Still, the progress he had made at convincing most other students he wasn't going to hex them to death in their sleep had taken a huge step back.

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As term went on, Harry found himself being drawn to the idea of the Philospher's stone. He read a little about alchemy, and found that it was much like potions mixed with transfiguration. It was a means to make transmutations permanent, and creating the foundations of powerful magical substances. Unfortunately, he couldn't grasp the concepts all that well. A great deal of it was rooted in Arithmancy, something he couldn't take until third-year, so he was forced to put it on hold.

What he had found that captured him next, almost as much as his studies on the mind arts, was a text on spell creation in the library. He never knew wand movements had such a profound effect on different spells. He also learned why spell creation was so difficult. The objective was to create a spell that did something consistently. This was hard to do, as a creator modified the spell even as their own emotions and attitudes affected their casting. He resolved to try and make a spell at some point; all the greatest wizards did. He was certain that the silvery instruments in the Headmaster's office had no common enchantments, and that they were all likely created by the Headmaster himself.

Daphne was inordinately pleased with the way Harry had wiped the floor with Malfoy again. There must have been a great deal bad blood between them, or at least their families. If the comments on the train and her pleasure at his victories over the ponce weren't enough evidence, he could also feel her derision for the boy whenever he came up. Daphne was, however, becoming increasingly frustrated with her charms and enchantments. The snitch she had enchanted from his gift set wanted to be caught. It dove at people, and tried to get as close as physically possible. Once, when Harry was practicing some defensive spells with Neville, it nearly flew down the other boy's throat.

"I can get the quill to pull ink from the bottle and use it to write, but the ink always goes back into the bottle after a few minutes!" She was trying to make a quill that she would only need to dip into an inkwell once, that would continue to pull ink from that bottle to write with.

Harry didn't have the heart to explain to her the concept of muggle pens and ink cartridges.

"Well what spell are you using to summon the ink?"

"I wasn't summoning the ink, I was using a recall charm. We won't be using summoning spells until fourth year." She glanced down at her quill and the parchment she had scribbled on for tests.

Harry hummed thoughtfully as he looked it over. "I think you might have cast the charm a bit too well. Sure, the quill is recalling the ink, but when you connected the quill to a new bottle, I think the spell is then recalling the ink back to the original bottle."

Harry was worried about how she might 'fix it' this time. He didn't need to walk around covered in ink, and Daphne would almost certainly hex him if it went wrong. She had once come into potions completely drenched with ink when the quill squirted the entire bottle out like a rogue hose. Pansy Parkinson's giggling and mocking had driven Daphne spare, and he was sure that when Pansy fell down a flight of stairs later that day it was purely coincidence.

"What if we try and stick the ink on the parchment, just to see if I'm right."

They modified a new quill so that it would stick the ink to the parchment, but the recall spell just pulled the parchment into the inkwell with the ink, crumpling the parchment and spilling the bottle. Harry thought it was fairly amusing, but Daphne was glowering.

Eventually, they paired a finite with the recall charm to prevent the recall after the quill had written something. Daphne had been quite pleased, clapping her hands together and grinning excitedly. Harry was sure it was all the sweeter for her, because he was only one covered in ink by the end of it.

Similarly, Harry's successes in class often had other students in Ravenclaw asking for advice. Particularly in potions, where Harry's brews received unusually high marks for somebody outside Slytherin. When Michael overheard him explaining his success to Lisa, Michael had forced him to use the podiums one night to present.

"Professor Snape's teaching style is unorthodox because he isn't teaching us how to brew potions." Goldstein looked ready to walk away and Terry Boot had snorted. "All of the recipes that he gives us are inefficient in at least one major way."

"We're supposed to improve on them?" Mandy Brocklehurst caught on first.

Harry nodded. "If we can improve potions, then we can most certainly brew them. I suspect it prepares us and starts building the mindset for us to invent Potions on our own." Harry believed Professor Snape had invented at least a dozen throughout his career.

"Okay..." Goldstein looked more interested, and Harry even saw second year Cho Chang, one of the chasers for the team, and her friends listening to him. Evidently, they hadn't discovered the secret either. "So, for the Draught of Forgetfulness yesterday, what were we supposed to improve on?"

The potion used honey from French Thristran Bees, a magical creature known for its sting, and blue poppy flowers, which were much more mundane, but had connections to even mundane drugs. Harry thought carefully for a moment.

"You all spent your time juicing the leaves and separating the honey from the honey combs," he began.

"That is what the instructions said to do," Su Li countered.

"Yes, but then why did Professor Snape provide a filter?" He shot right back. "I dumped leaves and honeycomb's straight in and filtered them out at the end. I also could have reduced the temperature, to prevent the Honey from caramelizing, and I could have mashed the leaves before I put them in."

"So, we're trying to be more efficient with the recipes." Michael Corner said with understanding in his eyes. "What else does Professor Snape do?"

Harry paused, Su Li took the opportunity and left to get a parchment to write what he was saying down. He waited for her to return and be ready.

"Professor Snape seems to focus on extracting ingredients, at least for now. I imagine in the future there will be processes to improve, like cooking at a lower temperature, or if the text recommends six stirs try seven for its arithmetic properties. There could be other things as well but..." He trailed off.

Like adding a different ingredient.

Harry was loath to give up all the answers to his success to a group of people who seemed to scarcely like him, but seeing Lisa's wide eyes and smile made it worth it.

"So," said second year Marietta Edgecomb, one of Cho Chang's friends "we had to make a Flesh Sealing Tonic a few days ago, what should we have done there?" She didn't seem to be trying to stump him, but there was some challenge to her words.

A basic healing potion. What ingredients had restorative powers that would be used in such a potion? Harry paused to think for a moment.

"Well, it's not really fair because he hasn't see the recipe yet…" Lisa stammered out. He felt grateful for the loyal, if unnecessary, defense.

Terry Boot seemed eager to disagree. "He should have at least some idea, if he's so good."

Harry did have some idea; a basic study of rudimentary ingredients has served him well. "Did the recipe call for unicorn horn?"

Marietta shook her head. Terry Boot seemed to smell blood. Harry rubbed the fault in his jawbone.

"Gryphon claw then." It wasn't a question. "Was it powdered, diced or pickled?" He doubted the latter two, the talons of a gryphon were expensive. It was likely they only used a little, as a source of magical power rather than for its unique properties. Although, it did carry resilience to a potion, which would be greatly beneficial in this case.

"Powdered, right?" Marietta nodded, looking surprised. "With dittany seeds? He doubted such a weak potion contained the mature, powerful, and ludicrously expensive leaves which gave Essence of Dittany it's fantastic capabilities. It was damnably hard to grow, and only did so in a few Mediterranean and Caribbean Islands; or at least, magical dittany was that way. The muggle version was all too commonly sold to magical markets, illegally advertised as its miraculous counterpart.

"We were supposed to dice them," Cho informed him, clicking her teeth in irritation at apparently being misled.

There were more surprised looks at his ability to determine such a thing.

"I imagine that was difficult." They were small and round, and would have been difficult to cut. "You should have crushed them, to get as much juice as possible."

Terry Boot looked like he swallowed something sour, but the others seemed more accepting. He answered a few more questions, and soon after found his housemates sitting closer to him when he read in the common room, or during meals.

I should have known being knowledgeable would have won them over. I was approaching them the same way I did Daphne and Tracey.

Harry finally understood the difference between a Ravenclaw's wit and a Slytherin's cunning.

I should have just let them dissect me to study my talent.

While mostly joking, he was certain that the chance to study his talent would make any Ravenclaw jump at the opportunity.

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Spell creation was, Harry learned, an ambitious undertaking. He imagined something simple. A spell that would simply spin an object one hundred and eighty degrees. It wasn't complicated, it wasn't difficult to imagine happening and yet he still struggled.

Several texts he found suggested that an incantation may distract from the process of spell creation so he sat in silence.


He demanded as he flicked his wand at a chair.

There was no effect.


He tried a different wand movement. More of a jab then into a flicking motion.

The chair fell over unspectacular.

He supposed that it had technically rotated ninety degrees. Even if it was along the wrong axis, and had nothing to do with his spell.

He nearly growled in frustration but he attempted to calm himself. He used occlumency to reassert his authority over himself. It wasn't easy but after breathing and clearing his thoughts he found it was far easier to focus and to imagine what he wanted to have happen.


He ordered his power to obey his will. To flow into the world and manifest. He could see the chair spinning in his mind.

To his delight it did spin. Then it didn't stop. The chair rotated continuously, making a scraping noise against the floor without stopping.

"Finite." He invoked. The chair slowed to a stop and this time Harry couldn't help but growl.

His intent had slipped into just rotation but without the desire to stop or with limits. He had neglected certain aspects of the spell in favor of concentrating on the effects of different wand movements.

He gave a leftward swoosh of his wand that rotated the tip of his wand. It was a short and jerky movement and the chair slid all the way across the room at a pathetically slow pace, scraping against the floor, until it reached a desk and stopped immediately.

He rubbed a hand down his face in frustration.

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As winter turned to spring the lake defrosted, and Lee Jordan and the Weasley twins filled their time teasing and tickling the tentacles of the squid, occasionally lobbing toast in its direction. Tracey no longer wrote him, Daphne, Neville, and occasionally even Hermione, notes using her new owl, just for the sake of using it. Harry was glad that ended, but was worried about what might strike her fancy next.

With the warm weather came the end of the year exams, and a growing anxiety within Harry which had little to do with them. He was more concerned what he would do when the school-year ended. Where would he go? It had affected his sleep, and he found himself awake at nearly all hours with his scar prickling.

Despite that, he knew he had done very well in their exams – although the heat in the large classroom where they did written portions nearly drove him spare. The heat irritated him and made him restless, but not nearly so restless as Daphne. They had been given Cheat-Catch Quills for their exams, so she wasn't allowed to use her own. Tracey had been rather put out as well, as she had bothered Daphne to no end about receiving one until Daphne gave up and enchanted one for her.

Harry was confident that he did well on his theory exams, but knew Hermione would have him beat. However, Harry's practical went exceedingly well, and he even demonstrated a weak shield charm he had been practicing for credit, much to Professor Flitwick's delight, as well as a rudimentary inanimate-to-animate transfiguration for Professor McGonagall, who smiled at him and told him the display reminded her of his father.

Neville seemed to think Harry's behavior was just examination nerves, but Daphne disagreed. Harry had so far managed to dodge each attempt by Tracey to draw the truth out of him.

"Why are you so worried? you're at the top of the class. No one is going to score higher than you and you know it. You've even started practicing second year spells, and episkey and protego are even more complicated than that, and you do the both of them alright. Are you having nightmares? Are the other boys in Ravenclaw mean to you? Do you like the Ravenclaw dormitory? What color are the curtains in there? I bet they're all blue and bronze. Ugh, bronze. Silver is much prettier, don't you think? I think Slytherin had good taste with his colors but I suppose Ravenclaw was a bit of a nerd, so that's why her colors are all like that. Also, why don't you wear your glasses anymore? Hermione has been telling everyone that you have little pieces of stuff in your eye, is that true?"

Okay, so there really wasn't much dodging on his part. She distracted herself well enough on her own. Daphne was trickier, and her eyes often glinted with suspicion he knew he couldn't just throw off or divert.

The potions regiment the Headmaster put him on had finally ended, and halfway through their exams he woke up to find he no longer needed glasses. He was a fair bit taller, skinny, but not scrawny, and a scant few inches shorter than Ron Weasley, the tallest in their year.

Their very last exam was History of Magic. One hour of answering questions about batty old wizards who'd invented self-stirring cauldrons and they'd be free, free for a whole wonderful week until their exam results came out. When the ghost of Professor Binns told them to put down their quills and roll up their parchment, Harry couldn't help cheering with the rest. He should never have given up on finding a way to banish the spirit.

"That was far easier than I thought it would be," said Hermione as they joined the crowds flocking out onto the sunny grounds. "I needn't have learned about the 1637 Werewolf Code of Conduct, or the uprising of Elfric the Eager."

He gave her a long and suffering look, before glancing at the boy who was forced to share a common room with the girl. Harry, as much as he liked her and discussing theory with her, felt he got just enough of her to safely stomach from their time in the library; he could only imagine what it was like for Neville.

He decided to approach Professor McGonagall in her office in order to ask about speaking to the Headmaster, regarding his accommodations for the summer.

"Hello Professor, I was hoping you could help me, I wanted to talk to Professor Dumbledore."

"See Professor Dumbledore?" Professor McGonagall repeated, as though this was a very fishy thing to want to do. "Why?"

"I uh… well…" He swallowed. He was incredibly uncomfortable about talking about this and, for the first time all in a couple months, he wanted to be in his cupboard. He swallowed that down too. The wizard in the mirror didn't need that, and neither would he.

"He's my magical guardian, he told me he didn't want me to go back to my Aunt and Uncle and I wanted to talk to him about where I would be staying."

Professor McGonagall sighed, her eyes had pierced him before but now they flickered away from his face. "I did warn him about them, you know, your relatives. I was furious with him when I saw your letter at the start of term."

Harry had never been more uncomfortable in his life. He looked at her nervously.

"Professor Dumbledore left ten minutes ago," she informed him after a moment. "He received an urgent owl from the Ministry of Magic and flew off for London at once."

Flew? Could he not apparate?

"He's gone, then?" He asked sullenly.

"I'm afraid so, Professor Dumbledore is a very great wizard, Mr. Potter, he has many demands on his time, though I am sure he will make sure you are well taken care of. You needn't worry, Potter, you won't be returning to your family. Even if Professor Dumbledore would allow it, you can be sure that I most certainly would not."

He nodded. "When can we expect him back, if you don't mind me asking?" He said the last part quickly. He was always more nervous around those he couldn't read. "This has been bothering me lately, you see."

Professor McGonagall nodded and smiled at him.

"Did he leave for business with Nicolas Flamel? Is he moving the Stone? Or the Mirror?" Harry didn't realize he wanted to see the mirror so badly, and spoke without thinking.

Whatever Professor McGonagall had expected, it wasn't that. The books she was carrying tumbled out of her arms, but she didn't pick them up. "How do you know -?" She spluttered.


"Er- which one?"

She eyed him with a mixture of shock and suspicion. "Professor Dumbledore will be back tomorrow," she said with finality. "I don't know how you found out about the Stone, but rest assured, it is safe here in the castle." The last part seemed tagged on as an afterthought.

"You sound worried, Professor." Whoever had wanted it had been willing to break into Gringotts to get it, and that was supposedly no mean feat.

"Potter, I know what I'm talking about," she said shortly. She bent down and gathered up the fallen books. I suggest you go back outside and enjoy the sunshine."

Harry felt himself grow wary. If someone was going to try and steal it, they would do so while the Headmaster was away. Daphne joined him with Tracey as he approached the room where he usually practiced.

He was so deep in thought he ran right into Professor Snape.

"Oh, sorry professor, excuse me."

Professor Snape's eyes were cold and empty, but he no longer seemed to take satisfaction in tormenting Harry. There was something… something in him instead.

"You'll want to be more careful, Mr. Potter." Snape loomed over him.

"Yes professor." He nodded and turned to go practice some magic, but Snape called him back.

"Be warned, Potter - any more night-time wanderings and I will personally make sure you are punished. Good day to you."

Snape knew? Harry frequented the restricted section of the library, pouring over books on mind magic. He would finish one and return it and select a new one, occasionally he would take something for dark curses and other things, the Basics of Sacrificial Magic had been both interesting and enlightening.

"Night-time wanderings?" Daphne asked, eyebrows raised. "Is this why you aren't sleeping?"

It was, partly. He scrunched up his face; she wasn't going to let this go.

"I have an invisibility cloak. I used it to break into the restricted section."

Tracey gasped. "The restricted section?! Why would you do that?! What have you been learning? Is it dark? Will you show us? Ooh, I bet it's very dark. Are you very good at it, do you think? Can we see your cloak?"

I am fairly good at it, yes.

"I need you to not spread this one around, Tracey, okay? Please?" He had never asked her for anything before, and the unique request had her immediately agreeing. "Do you promise?" He asked earnestly.

"Of course, now what have you been learning? Can you show us?"

Harry shook his head.

"I can't show you, its abstract, alright?"

Tracey eventually conceded and left, after it became clear he wasn't going to talk about it.

"It's the mind arts, right? I know you're interested in them." Daphne was far more persistent, and was the only one who knew about that aspect of his studies.

[He will tell me.]

Harry couldn't argue with her confidence, but he severely doubted he would give her the full details.

"Yes, it is. It's not exactly something I can show off and it's fairly difficult. I suspect to master occlumency I would need someone to attempt legilimency on me repeatedly and practice enduring the assault." That, at least, was true, and it pushed her towards that branch of the mind arts. Misleading, but not false.

She nodded. "But you still want to learn."

He sighed. She really wasn't dropping it.

"I want to learn other aspects of it too. There's another aspect called legilimency I want to master in my life, and occlumency practices can help with casting to some extent. There's also a few even rarer practices."

Several, and they were all useful, being aided by occlumency to a large extent.

"What other practices?" She was getting more interested.

"Augeomency is the practice of using your magic to strengthen your mind, it's supposed to help with memory and recall, but it's just as difficult as the others."

Not to mention abstract.

"Do you think I could learn them?" He blanched at the thought of losing access to her emotions.

"I don't see why not, but I can hardly teach you." That was true, no white lies in there.

She smiled this time and nodded, thankfully accepting his words.

"Come on, you're going to show me how you did that shield." She demanded.

He agreed perhaps a little too readily.

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Harry picked himself up out of bed and grabbed his cloak and wand.

I need a new book… something on… counter curses.

He decided on a whim.

He marched down to find that Lisa was in the common room, waiting for him.

"You're going out again, aren't you?" She said.

Harry mentally cursed.

"I am." He confessed.

"Where do you go? You know we're worried about your sleep. Professor Flitwick even asked about it once." It seems he was not nearly as subtle as he wanted to be.

"I like to explore the castle, on my own time."

She frowned at him. "I-I think you s-should go to bed." He could feel her nervousness.

She really didn't want to stand up to him, as his friend.

[Please just go, just go back to bed.]

There was an image of blonde hair and blue eyes, she was biting her lip nervously.

"Daphne put you up to this." It wasn't a question, and it caught her off-guard. "She told you to try and keep me in."

"She's worried about you, we all are – your friends, that is." Ah, all of them then. They finally all got together. His own attempts at that could never be called successes.

It really couldn't have happened at a worse time.

He saw the memory better, they were all there, grouped together. Neville, Hermione, Tracey, Lisa and Michael Corner. Harry hadn't actually expected him.

"Michael and the other boys say that you are always awake any time they should happen to wake up! And Tracey said you have been wandering the castle at night!"

The gesture meant a shocking amount to him; them getting together just to help him. But it frightened him too, having them all meet together without him. Plus, he really wanted, or perhaps needed, to get to the third floor.

"Look Lisa, I'm alright, really. I am. You don't have to do this, okay?" That was evidently the wrong thing to say. The shy girl seemed shake her head, scrunching her hands up near her face.

Oh no she's going to start to cry.

He looked her in the eye. He had no idea how to comfort her. He reached into her head. Gently laying reassurance in her mind. He tried to calm her down, but it wasn't working. He failed to create the connection. He wanted to snarl, he had done it so easily to Malfoy on the train.

"Lisa, I just have trouble sleeping, it's not a big deal. I like to see the castle and I never get caught, do I?"

She sighed, and he could see her begin to relent.

"I appreciate this, you know? All of you getting together like this. It means a lot to me, but I'm okay. Really." Harry wasn't a psychologist, but he knew that probably wasn't entirely true. However, he was better. He rarely panicked in conversation and he hardly ever longed for his cupboard anymore. He had been happier here than the previous nine years combined.

"Fine. The others won't be happy though."

He felt relieved. "Thank you, Lisa." He nudged something that made her feel warm inside and she smiled.

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Harry supposed that was the first time he used his talents on a friend in a way that went beyond a simple invasion of privacy. Sure, he used them to find out what they wanted and make them content – which was a manipulation, certainly – but was never as forward as that.

He didn't meet anyone else until they reached the staircase up to the third floor. Peeves was bobbing halfway up, loosening the carpet so that people would trip.

"Who's there?" he asked suddenly as Harry climbed toward him. He narrowed his wicked black eyes. "Know you're there, even if I can't see you. Are you ghoulie or ghostie or wee student beastie?"

He rose up in the air and floated there, squinting at them.

"Should call Filch, I should, if something's a-creeping around unseen."

Harry had a sudden idea. "Peeves," he said, in a hoarse whisper, "the Bloody Baron has his own reasons for being invisible."

Peeves almost fell out of the air in shock. He caught himself in time and hovered about a foot off the stairs.

"So sorry, your bloodiness, Mr. Baron, Sir," he said greasily. "My mistake, my mistake, I didn't see you, of course I didn't, you're invisible, forgive old Peevsie his little joke, sir."

"I have business here, Peeves," croaked Harry. "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." And he scooted off.

"You are not the Bloody Baron." Harry heard from behind him. A voice like steel wool on metal spoke just above a whisper.

Harry whirled around to see a wand leveled at him. Holding the wand was a strong jawed man with a turban.

"Imperio." The voice came confident and cool, barely above a whisper and yet it brimmed with fire.

A soft influence in Harry's head grew. Harry felt as though he might float away. The world no longer concerned him. There was a voice though. It whispered.

Show yourself to me.

Harry removed the cloak with twitching and sporadic fingers.

He felt bile in his throat and he rushed back to Earth.

"Potter." The Professor said huskily. "Of all the students in all the castle, you would be here tonight?"

Harry shook his bindings. He was covered in strings and they pulled at his mind.

Fight back.

He demanded himself.

No sooner had he thought the words was there pain. He fell to his knees clasping his skull.

"The price of resistance, Mr. Potter." The Professor's words were amused. "As entertaining as this would be, I am in a bit of a rush. Avada-"


Harry heard a new voice. He heard it out loud, and he heard it in his head.

"Bring him. I want to show him. I want him to know."

"Come Potter." Quirrell bade.

Harry considered resistance and an odd creep of agony traced its way up his spine. A warning. Obedience would be enforced.

Harry followed the professor and as he did he felt a sense of pleasure wash over him. Euphoria at his conformity.

Harry stepped inside the third floor corridor after the Professor Quirrell. In a magnificent twist of magic the man summoned a beautiful silver harp. The Professor walked past the enchanted harp which he had bewitched to play a lullaby tune. It had evidently worked, because the enormous three-headed dog fell asleep. The great beast in the room really was impressive, and more than a little intimidating this close. He didn't gawk long, and quickly followed the man down.

He could hear the stuttering professor muttering to himself. The man had dropped down, so Harry cast spongify on his shoes to be safe before following. He fell past some plant which was writhing away from an orb of fire, it gleamed like the sun and Harry could feel the heat even as he fell past it.

He landed on the ground, cushioned by his shoes. Harry listened. A soft rustling and clinking seemed to be coming from up ahead, he could hear it over the Professor's mutterings. He pursued the man further in.

I'm going to die here.

Harry thought between the coaxing rushes of feeling that the imperious curse left him. They fell like waves on a beach; irresistible, undeniable, eternal.

They reached the end of the passageway and saw before them a brilliantly lit chamber, its ceiling arching high above them. It was full of small, jewel-bright birds, fluttering and tumbling all around the room. On the opposite side of the chamber was a heavy wooden door.

Quirrell nodded to himself. The Professor stood there, waving his wand and muttering. It took him a moment but eventually he determined the right key somehow and mounted the broom. He immobilized the keys with the freezing charm and flew up to it. He grabbed it, went over to the door, and opened it. Harry followed him through.

In the next room the man played an oversized game of chess to get through the room. It was fairly dramatic, as the pieces exploded when they died.

Harry felt the curse sag. Was it lifting? Could he run once it fell?

He clutched his skull as it was torn open by the mind magic. The spell had not actually faltered, it had been a trick. A reminder.

Was this the summit of mind magic?

In the next room there was a troll which died almost instantly at the end of the professor's wand. A flash of light almost too fast to see, fire the burned so hot Harry could feel it nearly ten meters away.

The next room had a table with seven differently shaped bottles. They stepped over the threshold, and immediately a fire sprang up behind them in the doorway. It wasn't ordinary fire either; it was purple. At the same instant, black flames shot up in the doorway leading onward. They were trapped.

Quirrell picked up a piece of paper and read off of it. He muttered to himself before stepping forward and drinking from the smallest bottle. The man walked through the flames and the door on the other side.

"Drink Potter." He demanded.


He took the last swallow from the small bottle, feeling ice rush through his veins. He stepped through the flames, then through the door.

"I thought Professor Snape would try to steal it. My friends told me he's the reason I fell from my broom. I assume it was you instead." Harry said out loud. He registered the first signs of panic but the curse on his mind swept such concerns away. Why should he worry when he was obeying his mast-

Harry nearly bit his tongue off as the thought almost crossed his mind. This man was not his master. Harry felt the lash of the man's whip against his mind for such noncompliant thoughts but Harry did not cry out.

He would not.

Anger sparked in Harry's chest and he felt a brush of cool air against him. The pain of the curse was little compared to the howling icy anger that Harry felt deep inside. The lashes died down to a whimpering irritation as Harry drew his magic into his mind.

He steeped himself in his frosty anger and he bided his time.

The man flicked his hand dismissively. "He was muttering the counter-curse to my own spell. A waste of effort, given that I shall kill you tonight. Imagine my surprise when I discovered you were practicing the mind arts, though. In time you may even break free of this spell."

"That was you, the first day in Defense." Harry had never placed the cause of the breach. "Your disguise worked. I didn't know where that came from. Did you let the troll in as well?"

"Certainly. I have a special gift with trolls, you must have seen what I did to the one in the chamber back there?"

It had actually been fairly impressive.

"Unfortunately, while everyone else was running around looking for it, Snape, who already suspected me, went straight to the third floor to head me off - and not only did my troll fail to maul you to death-"

What, you expect me to apologize?

"-that three-headed dog didn't even manage to bite Snape's leg off properly." That was another question answered.

"Now, wait quietly, Potter. I need to examine this fascinating mirror." It was only then, that Harry realized what was standing behind Quirrell. It was the Mirror of Erised.

Harry fell silent rather than risk Quirrell noticing that Harry was not tormented by the curse.

"This mirror is the key to finding the Stone," Quirrell murmured, tapping his way around the frame. "Trust Dumbledore to come up with something like this... but he's in London... I'll be far away by the time he gets back..." The man walked around the mirror and Harry watched him. The man seemed to think that he would be able to dispatch Harry at his leisure.

He's underestimating me.

It was good, though the man could probably kill him at a moment's notice. Harry didn't trust his shield to hold up against whatever Quirrell did to that troll.

Besides. Harry couldn't speak or risk his resistance being discovered and he was incapable of silent casting.

Even these thoughts now were risking the irritation, he felt it crawl around the base of his neck, sitting at the top of his spine, coiled like a serpent ready to strike. It was listening close to his thoughts.

It bit at him but he ignored it.

Quirrell came back out from behind the mirror and stared hungrily into it.

"I see the Stone... I'm presenting it to my master... but where is it?"

A master then? It seemed Quirrell's will was not his own.

That makes two of us.

Harry seethed.

"But I thought Snape hated me?" Harry said. It seemed that Quirrell's question counted as an invitation to speak.

"Oh, he does," said Quirrell casually, "heavens, yes. He was at Hogwarts with your father, didn't you know? They loathed each other, but he never wanted you dead."

"I don't understand..." the man muttered. "Is the Stone inside the mirror? Should I break it?"

Harry thought furiously.

It was hardly a fair contest. The man had greater magical knowledge and experience. He would likely discover the answer to the test first and he already had Harry under his thumb to a certain degree. Harry had no idea how far his new leash ran. How much give did he have? It seemed foolish to think that the imperius curse's effect couldn't be escalated further.

"What does this mirror do? How does it work? Help me, Master!" And to Harry's horror, a voice answered, and the voice seemed to come from Quirrell himself.

"Use the boy... Use the boy..."

Harry heard out loud and in his mind. The voice… it was like the noise that steel would make if it was alive then burned to death, yet soft. Like steel wool on copper.

Quirrell turned sharply towards Harry.

"Potter, come here."

Harry was compelled to stand in front of the mirror. He once again saw himself as a powerful wizard. The man was even greater now. This wizard had mastered Alchemy and held a red stone in his left hand. He was still regal, imperial and grand.

The man in the mirror laughed at Harry, imprisoned beneath the imperious curse. The man was his own emperor, he himself an entire empire.

"Well?" said Quirrell impatiently. "What do you see?"

"Myself, but stronger. I'm wiser and more powerful."

Quirrell cursed.

"You lie," he seethed, drawing his wand. Harry summoned a weak shield the man shattered with ease, and he flew to the ground, gasping.

"The boy… doesn't lie." The eerie voice made Quirrell freeze.

The high voice spoke again.

"Let me speak to him... face-to-face..."

"Master, you are not strong enough!"

"I have strength enough... for this..."

Petrified, Harry watched as Quirrell reached up and began to unwrap his turban. It fell away and Quirrell's head looked strangely small without it. Then he turned slowly on the spot. Harry would have screamed if he wasn't already trying to stay focused.

Where there should have been smooth skin on the back of Quirrell's head, there was instead a face; the most terrible face Harry had ever seen. It was chalk white, with glaring red eyes and slits for nostrils, like a snake.

The ice melted away inside him in horror.

"Harry Potter..." it whispered.

Harry tried to take crawl backwards, but he couldn't move.

"See what I have become?" the face said. "Mere shadow and vapor ... I have form only when I can share another's body... but there have always been those willing to let me into their hearts and minds. Unicorn blood has strengthened me, these past weeks… but I, the greatest wizard of all time, have been reduced to this half form."

Harry felt a trace of something against his mind. A boy in a bed beside Dumbledore, the memory floated to Harry's surface.

The fingers whispered softly in Harry's head.

"I see you, child." It seduced. "I had wished to kill you, but I have never wasted a resource. Especially not one that falls into my hands. And you are in my hands, Potter. Do not be afraid; clay doesn't fear its sculptor."

Harry broke the connection, summoning his strength and screaming. He tried to flee, springing to his feet to sprint towards the exit. He gestured and incanted with his wand to shatter the mirror in the hopes that it was necessary to get the stone. His bludgeoning hex bounced off the surface of the mirror instead, like, well, like it was reflected.

"Seize him." Voldemort commanded almost casually, and almost immediately Harry felt Quirrell's hand close on his wrist. At once, a needle-sharp pain seared across Harry's scar, and his head felt as though it was about to split in two. He screamed in agony and closed his eyes to the pain. To his surprise, Quirrell let go.

His eyes opened again, and spotted Quirrell hunched in pain, looking at his smoking fingers.

"Seize him. Seize him!" The Dark Lord commanded again, and Quirrell lunged,

knocking Harry clean off his feet and landing on top of him.

He could have used magic.

It seemed as though Quirrell was panicking, and if he was feeling as much pain as Harry, then the boy could relate.

"Master, I cannot hold him."

Quirrell's hands were bleeding profusely. They were scorched and the skin was swiftly blackening. Harry noticed this, and pressed his hands to the man's face. The man screamed and fell backwards to escape, but Harry pursued, grasping the man's cheeks and chin tightly in his hands. The man eventually stopped struggling, and Harry watched, barely conscious, as a black fluid streamed from his ears, eyes and mouth. It trailed upward before his dimming vision, formless.

Harry collapsed and rolled onto his back, darkness creeping into his vision, and then here was nothing.

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"Peace of mind for five minutes, that's what I crave." -Alanis Morissette

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Next time there will be summer and the first half of the second year.

Luna Lovegood Hype.

Because I like to discuss stuff I created a Forum for this story. You can ask me questions there.


Edited 4/5/18