Chapter 1: First Year

A/N

I know what you're thinking, another one already?

I will be completing the first three years of Hogwarts in a chapter each. From there, the pace will slow down to my usual level of detail. For now, enjoy it for what it is.

Also, the first two chapters of my own original work are available o for free, so please do check them out and leave a comment on there and the third will be available tomorrow for patrons.

TBR

The hustle and bustle of Kings' cross station had proven to be rather irksome to navigate. Nonetheless, he'd managed it without being hindered too much. It had been an odd experience, one that had found him bumping into an array of people; magical folk clearly, failing to blend in with the muggles around them. It had taken much effort to not laugh in the face of a man wearing a sundress, his eyes widening in realisation as he had knocked into the young man and spotted the scar sat prominently on his upper brow.

Taking the initiative, Harry had hurried away, not wanting to be accosted nor seen with a man dressed so peculiarly. Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time such an engagement had happened. Ollivander had not been lying when he said that he would be recognised. Several times over the summer, whilst spending time in the alley, such a thing had happened. Random strangers would offer him a bow, and others, more brazen, would shake his hand and offer their gratitude for something he had no memory of. It irritated him greatly. He didn't like being the centre of attention. A life of isolation had always left him on the fringes of people's thoughts, and he found he didn't much care for it now. He much preferred to be left alone. Being left alone meant that he was safe.

These interactions had served only to pique his curiosity further as to what Ollivander had alluded to, and during the past month, he had learnt just why he was famous, though such reasons left a bitter taste in his mouth.

According to what he had learnt through a book and some very old newspapers he had managed to obtain, his fame stemmed from the fact that he had survived the killing curse courtesy of a Dark Lord. What kind of name was Voldemort anyway?

According to the book, his mother and father, James and Lily Potter had been killed during the attack by the same man, and as such, he had been tucked safely away with his relatives with no knowledge about them or who they were.

Tom had been a great comfort to him over the past weeks, had encouraged him not to focus on what was past and to look forward. The man that had killed his parents was gone and was not worth dwelling on. Tom had been furious on his behalf, and strangely apologetic when Harry had broached the subject with him, reiterating that even though he was all but alone, Tom would always be there, would help him where his parents no longer could.

The thought brought a smile to his face as he found an empty compartment on the Hogwarts Express, closed the door behind him and pulled down the blind to ensure his privacy.

"Do you not think it wise to meet some peers of your own age?" Tom asked for the dozenth time.

"No," Harry muttered. "They are children, Tom. They are naïve. I don't have time for games."

He heard the voice sigh in his head.

It had been a point of contention between the two. Tom wanted Harry to make friends, but Harry had no interest in doing so. As far as he was concerned, he was alone, and he was better off alone. He had no intention of being impolite, he just did not want to form close bonds with anyone. He had other things he wanted to focus on.

The goblin in the bank had unwittingly inspired the boy to want to restore his family wealth. He didn't know how he was going to go about it, but a good start would be completing his schooling to the best of his ability. Doing so would give him options and he needed all the options he could get.

"I will respect your decision, Harry."

The boy nodded as he removed one of the books on Transfiguration he had obtained from Knockturn Alley. He found he had indeed inherited his father's talent for the branch of magic, that along with his mother's love and gift of charms. He had yet to brew a potion but had taken an interest in his books on the subject. He was looking forward to seeing if he had been equally blessed as his mother in the practice.

Defence Against the Dark Arts was another subject he was in anticipation of, the revelation that a Dark Lord had already come for him igniting a passion for the subject. He had readily digested the required reading of the subject and two others he had purchased, one of which had left him confused. Tom assured him that he would understand it more when he was older and had emotionally matured. He had even promised to hep him with that subject citing that he was quite the expert in it himself.

Astronomy had little that appealed to him and neither did History of Magic. The only useful thing he had gotten from that subject was a name for his owl, Hedwig. He found that the name suited the bird and she'd readily agreed. She was a smart owl and he found he enjoyed her company over the summer.

In all, he was looking forward to starting his time at the school, ready to apply himself to his studies. Tom had urged him to do so also, had encouraged him to take full advantage of being at such a highly regarded educational establishment. To him, there was no better way to begin accumulating his options, and with Tom guiding him, he would ensure that there were many to choose from.

He was pulled from his thoughts by a knocking on the door before it was pulled open without invitation. He frowned at the rat-faced blonde boy that entered, seemingly escorted by two much bigger ones.

"I heard that Harry Potter is on the train, is that you?" he demanded.

"Careful, Harry," Tom advised. "His appearance leaves me with no doubt of his family. Humble him but do so respectfully. The name Potter carries more weight now than ever."

"My apologies, I thought that it was customary to wait until being bid to enter. What is the point of knocking if you don't abide by simple etiquette?" he asked.

The boy stared at him dumbly.

"Never mind," Harry sighed. "Why don't you go out and we will try again?"

Without waiting for a reply, Harry ushered the trio out of the room and closed the door before taking a seat and waiting patiently. After a moment, the boy seemed to shake himself from his stupor before knocking once more and waiting.

"Come in," Harry called politely after a brief pause. The door opened and the boy entered again, this time a little more cautiously.

"I'm looking for Harry Potter," he stated, still somewhat shocked at how the previous encounter had developed.

"Well, you've found him, my good man," Harry announced cheerily as he stood and offered the boy his hand. "This is the part where you introduce yourself," he added in a whisper, startling the boy.

"Malfoy, D-Draco Malfoy," the boy stuttered before composing himself. "These two are Crabbe and Goyle."

"Just Crabbe and Goyle?" Harry pressed.

"Vincent and Gregory," one of the boys grunted.

"It's nice to meet you all," Harry offered with a bow. "What can I do for you gentleman today?"

"Erm, I just wanted to introduce myself," Draco replied weakly.

"You've done so and I am pleased you did," Harry returned. "I do, however, have reading to do. I don't mean to be rude and cut our conversation short."

"No, no, of course, I understand," Draco responded.

"We have seven years at school, I'm sure we will meet again. I look forward to getting to know you all better."

Draco merely nodded as he left the compartment, a bemused look adorning his features.

With them gone, Harry slammed the door shut with a scowl firmly in place as he heard Tom chuckling in his mind.

"That was very well done, Harry," he complimented. "The Malfoys are a very influential family. You would do well to not provoke their ire."

"Smarmy git," Harry muttered.

"All of them are. Be careful around them, be polite and courteous and you will be left alone. If Draco is anything like his other family members, the novelty of you will wear off quickly."

"Did you know them?"

"I…have come across them."

"And Crabbe and Goyle?"

"Inconsequential."

Harry nodded as he took his seat for the third time to continue his studies, the beautiful English countryside passing him by outside the window as he did so. He managed a couple of hours of respite from interruptions before the door was flung open again, this time by a bushy-haired girl with prominent front teeth.

"I'm looking for a toad, a boy named Neville has lost one," she stated, her eyes darting around the interior of the small room.

"No toad here," Harry sighed.

The girl deigned him with a look before her eyes widened.

"You're Harry Potter!"

The high-pitched tone of her voice prickled him, and he was about to offer a rebuke when Tom's voice spoke, stilling his tongue.

"Calmly, Harry. We do not want to make enemies with the wrong people."

"Correct," he clarified, "and you are?"

"I'm Hermione Granger," the girl introduced herself.

"A mud…muggleborn," Tom explained.

"Well, Miss Granger, as you can see there is no toad here. I would advise the boy to keep a closer eye on his pet. There are many owls at Hogwarts that would enjoy it as a meal."

The girl flushed as she nodded.

"I'm sorry for disturbing you," she offered quietly, noting his irritation.

She was readying herself to leave when Harry took pity on her. It must be difficult for her, being away from her parents in a strange, new world.

"Why don't you take a seat, Hermione," he offered. "I doubt a toad will be able to get very far on a train."

She nodded gratefully as she sat, though her posture was stiff.

"I apologise if I was short with you. I've been disturbed one too many times today and I took it out on the wrong person."

"It's okay," she replied with a tight smile.

"No, it isn't," Harry sighed. "Is this your first time away from your parents?"

The girl nodded sadly.

"For you too?" she asked, her eyes widening as she realised her mistake. "I'm so sorry."

Harry waved her off easily.

"It's fine. I don't really remember them," he explained with a frown. "I grew up with my muggle relatives, so we are in a similar position I suppose."

"Will you miss them?"

Harry snorted.

"Only if they lose a lot of weight and I try to curse them blindfolded," he responded.

"Excuse me?"

"Nothing," Harry dismissed with a shake of his head. "You'll be able to write to them though. There are school owls you can use, but if you prefer, I have one of my own you can borrow. She's a snowy named Hedwig. Feel free to use her if you need to."

"Thank you," Hermione replied gratefully as she stood. "It was nice meeting you, Harry."

"You too," the boy responded as he stood and offered her a slight bow.

She closed the door behind her with a gentle click and Harry settled into his chair once more, praying that there would be no more intrusions.

"Why did you take pity on her, Harry?"

"Because she's alone, Tom. She's scared, alone and she doesn't want to be. I remember that feeling. No one ever came for me, Tom. I didn't want her to be like me."

"I was under the impression that you liked being alone."

"It's all I've ever known."

Silence fell for a few moments before he received a response.

"You have me, Harry," Tom reminded him.

Harry nodded.

"I have you."

Thankfully, the rest of the journey passed pleasantly enough, and without further incident. When the train arrived in Hogsmeade, Harry exited to the sound of a booming voice calling across the platform.

"Firs' years this way."

Harry complied and found himself stood in front of the largest man he had ever seen. He made Uncle Vernon look like a toddler in comparison. The man had a beard so thick that his eyes were barely visible beneath it.

"You a firs' year?" the giant asked, getting a nod in response from the boy. "In one of the boa's there," he instructed, nodding in the direction of the lake behind him. "Wait, hold up. Thas' never little 'Arry. I've not seen ya since you was a nipper, no bigger than my 'and."

"I must have been a big baby," Harry commented, earning a chuckle from the man.

"Ya won't remember me I spose. The name's Hagrid. I knew ya ma' and dad."

"Well, it's nice to meet you again, Hagrid," Harry returned, accepting the offered paw he called an appendage.

"Sorry, 'Arry," Hagrid offered as a crying girl approached, "Work to do. Feel free to visit when ya get a chance."

Harry nodded and made his way over to the boats. Joining two others in the rear of one, he waited to be transported to the school, the chill of the September evening making him shiver. Carefully, he drew his wand and cast a Warming Charm on himself, one that Tom insisted would be useful during the colder months he would spend in Scotland.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't see you there," a girl with red hair and freckles greeted. "I'm Susan Bones."

"A very important family, Harry. Her aunt works within the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, or did once, perhaps that has changed."

Harry offered the girl an easy smile.

"Harry Potter," he introduced himself.

"Nice to meet you, Harry," the girl replied happily. "This is Hannah Abbott," she added, gesturing to a blonde girl styled in pigtails next to her.

"Are you really Harry Potter?" the other girl asked shyly.

"Well, if I'm not, I've been lied to my entire life," he returned with a grin.

The girl giggled; a sound that made him flinch slightly. He didn't much like giggling. It reminded him of when Dudley was younger and would do it, though he would also snort like the pig he was.

The trio fell into a comfortable silence as the boat glided across the surface of the water and the castle slowly came into view as they rounded the corner.

"Tha's Hogwarts," Hagrid announced. "Beautiful, ain't she?"

Harry couldn't help but agree with the sentiment. The castle was indeed a sight to behold. It was much bigger than he had expected, appearing more so with each of the lights visible through the windows indicating a room in the building.

It drew closer until the boat he was in hit the bank with a gentle thump. After climbing out and helping his fellow passengers do the same, he followed along with the rest of the first-year students, led by the giant man clutching a lantern to light their path. As he reached the front door, he crashed his meaty fist against it three times and waited.

After only a slight pause, it opened to reveal an aging witch, her formerly red hair tied in a tight bun and a pair of thinly framed glasses perched atop her nose.

"I've got the firs' years, professor," Hagrid explained.

"Thank you, Hagrid," the woman replied tightly. Immediately, Harry got the impression she was not someone to cross.

She gestured for the nervous group to follow her and they soon found themselves within the large entrance hall. Once they had settled, her gaze swept over them before she gave a slight nod.

"My name is Professor McGonagall. I am the deputy head of the school and the instructor of transfiguration, also, the head of Gryffindor House," she introduced herself. "Shortly, you will be called into the hall where you will be sorted into your respective houses. These houses are, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. You will reside with the rest of your house during your years here. Good work and behaviour will earn house points whereas poor behaviour and performance will lose them. At the end of the year, the house with the most points will be awarded the house cup. Any questions?"

A very nervous redhead raised a trembling hand.

"How will we be sorted?" he asked. "My older brother told me I'd have to wrestle a troll, naked."

The woman pursed her lips in displeasure as the students sniggered.

"I can assure you, Mr. Weasley, that the removal of your clothes will not be required."

The boy nodded as the woman turned and opened the large doors behind her, revealing an even larger room full of students sat across four tables, each one seemingly for one house.

Harry followed the rest of his peers into the room, his eyes being drawn immediately to the ceiling that depicted the night sky.

"It is enchanted," Tom explained. "An incredible feat of magic yet to be replicated anywhere else."

Harry nodded his appreciation as the group came to a halt in front of another table, this one full of adults that could only be the rest of the professors. Harry caught Hagrid giving him a friendly wave and he returned the gesture with an appreciative nod.

"When I call your name, you will step forward and place the sorting hat upon your head. When your house is announced, you will join them at their table," McGonagall explained. "Hannah Abbott."

The blonde stumbled as she climbed the steps before taking a seat on the stool. Professor McGonagall rested the hat on her crown and the hall fell silent.

"HUFFLEPUFF," the hat announced after only a few seconds.

The table of students clad in black and yellow cheered and clapped for the girl as she took a seat amongst them.

"Susan Bones," McGonagall called next.

She too was sorted into the house of the badger and Harry waited eagerly for his own turn, pausing as a concerning thought crossed his mind.

"Worry not, Harry. The hat can only read the traits you possess. It will not be able to sense my presence. Remember, I am you and you are me," Tom soothed.

Harry nodded and was pulled from his thoughts in time to see Hermione join the Gryffindor table.

The sorting continued very much the same until the second of a set of twin girls with the name Patil was sorted into Gryffindor, her sister having gone to Ravenclaw before her.

"Harry Potter," McGonagall called.

A cacophony of whispering followed him as he approached the stool, the sound of it grating on his nerves considerably. Thankfully, it ceased when he felt the hat fall gently on to his head.

"Ahh, Mr, Potter. A very keen mind if I do say so myself. I see that you are ambitious, an admirable trait, but no. Your ambition has found no purpose yet. Hmm, you lack loyalty, Mr. Potter, certainly not Helga's house for you. Well, you can be a cunning one when needed, excellent. You have all required to be one of Salazar's. You could certainly be great there. Well, well, well, knowledge is power? It certainly is. Yes, you have a thirst for it and have acquired much already. A strong mind, courage in spades and one who wishes to be able to make his years here fruitful. Greatness awaits you, Mr. Potter, but are you ready for it? We will see."

"RAVENCLAW," the hat announced.

The house of blue and bronze erupted in cheers as he removed the hat and sat amongst the other first years that had been sorted here previously.

"Well done," Tom congratulated. "You will do well in Ravenclaw."

Harry nodded his appreciation and clapped politely throughout the rest of the ceremony. When the last name had been called and the redhead that had asked about wrestling a troll had been sorted into Gryffindor, a man in purple robes with a long white beard stood to address the room.

"That is Dumbledore," Tom muttered. "Be very careful around him, Harry. He is not as benevolent as he appears."

"What about the one with the black hair and big nose?" Harry whispered as the table filled with a plethora of dishes. He helped himself to a pile of chicken and potatoes having not eaten since breakfast.

"His name is Severus Snape," Tom informed him as he tucked into his meal. "An excellent potioneer," he added thoughtfully.

"He doesn't seem to like me much," Harry muttered.

"Hmm, best be cautious of him also. Do not make eye contact with either if you can help it."

"The Mind Arts?"

"Indeed, both Master Legilimens. Severus is exceedingly gifted in Occlumency also."

Harry nodded his understanding. Tom had warned him of those with the ability to delve into his mind at a whim, and it was not something he wanted to experience. Since he had been eight, Tom had been instructing him in Occlumency to prevent such attacks, but he was far from being able to repel a master practitioner. It would take another several years at least before he would even be close.

"Do not worry, Harry. I can help keep your mind safe."

The boy breathed a sigh of relief as he helped himself to some treacle tart and put his concerns to the back of his mind.

Soon enough, the plates along with the food vanished from the tables and Dumbledore stood again, holding up a hand for silence.

"Now that we have eaten our fill, it is time for some beginning of term announcements," he revealed. "Mr Filch has asked me to remind you that there should be no casting of spells between lessons and that the list of banned items has been updated. This can be found attached to his office door," he finished, his eyes gazing towards a particularly amused set of redheaded twins seated at the Gryffindor table.

"Also, the Forbidden Forest, is just that. Students are prohibited from entering unless they are accompanied by Hagrid or during Care of Magical Creatures lesson with Professor Kettleburn. And finally, the third-floor corridor is off limits to anyone that does not wish to die a most painful death."

A smattering of whispering ensued at the final declaration, many uncertain as to whether the man was trying to be humorous or was indeed serious in his instruction.

"Now, I do believe that it is time for you all to go to bed. Pip pip," he concluded.

Harry stood with the rest of his house and followed the prefect that had come to collect them from the hall and up three flights of moving stairs. They were led through a series of corridors, and eventually, they came to a rather strange door without a handle.

"Welcome to the entrance to the Ravenclaw common room," the prefect, a rather bland, mousey-haired girl announced. "To enter, one must simply answer a riddle. It changes each time and will only present one to a member of our house."

She waited for a moment until a rather alluring voice spoke.

"I am not alive, but I grow. I don't have lungs, but I need air. I have no mouth, but I must be fed. What am I?"

Harry frowned at the riddle. It was not a particularly difficult one to decipher.

"Any guesses?" the prefect asked.

"It's fire," Harry sighed when no other offered one.

The door popped open with a click as the prefect nodded appreciatively at his deductive skills.

"Very good, Potter. Come along, I will show you around."

Again, Harry followed at the rear of the pack into a large circular room where the older students were milling around, some reading and others catching up with their fellow students after some time away.

"This is the common room where you will likely always find an older student. If you get lost or require assistance, we are all usually happy to help, but do not try to disturb the fifth and seventh years if possible. They are preparing for exams at the end of the year. Any questions so far?"

When none raised their hands, the girl continued.

"Upstairs, we have the girl's rooms and the boys on the other side. We are traditionally the smallest in number with a large tower. We can therefore offer single accommodation. For those of you that wish to share a room, discuss it with Professor Flitwick and he will make the arrangements."

Harry breathed a sigh of relief. The thing he had been dreading was sharing a room with others. He'd never even had a bedroom of his own, let alone had to share the small space he did occupy.

"Your timetables will be given to you during breakfast, which starts from six am and finishes at eight. Now, if there aren't any questions, I will show you to your rooms."

Again, no questions were asked, and Harry found himself led up a set of stairs whilst each student was shown to their room. The girls were first and then it was his turn along with the three other boys that had been sorted into the house.

"Boot, Goldstein, Macmillan and Potter," the girl called, pointing to a different door with each name called. "Should you need anything, the Head boy can be found at the end of the corridor," she explained before taking her leave.

Harry merely shook his head. He was tired and wanted nothing more than to climb into his bed. He pushed open his own door and closed it behind him, locking it with a tap of his wand before taking in the room that would be his own for the next seven years.

It was more spacious than he had been expecting, complete with only a large fourposter bed, desk and some empty bookshelves that he would undoubtedly fill during his time here. Thankfully, his trunk had been placed at the bottom of the red and he retrieved some pyjamas from it so that he could change.

It had been quite a surreal day for the boy, but one he had endured with as much respect and politeness as he could muster. It had been trying for him, but he believed he had comported himself well.

"Goodnight, Tom," he whispered as he climbed into his sheets, revelling in in the comfort of the plush mattress.

"Goodnight, Harry," Tom returned warmly, "A brand new journey awaits you. From the morning, we will be pushing you further than we have yet."

Harry could only nod his acknowledgement before sleep took him, the events of the day having all but left him exhausted.

(BREAK)

Being an early riser saw him in the Great Hall amongst the first bunch to enter, mostly consisting of Slytherin's and others within his own house. Not having met any of them, he took a seat close to the staff table and helped himself to some scrambled eggs and toast, propping open his Transfiguration book when his plate had been filled. So lost in it he became, he did not notice the room fill up around him, not until a cough pulled him from his reading.

"I just wanted to welcome you to Ravenclaw, Mr. Potter," a very diminutive man greeted him. "I'm you head of house, Professor Flitwick. If you have any issues or need any assistance, my office is open until ten pm."

"Thank you, professor. I will bear that in mind," Harry replied with a nod.

"My pleasure," the little man squeaked. "This is your timetable, do ask for help if you become lost. The castle can be rather daunting for new students."

Harry accepted the piece of parchment offered and gave the man a smile.

"I will," he assured him.

The man returned the gesture before taking his leave to carry out his duties and Harry turned his attention once more back to his book.

"Where were you?" a voice broke into his thoughts. "We waited for you to get up."

Harry frowned as he was met with the sight of his fellow first year Ravenclaw boys looking at him expectantly from the other side of the table.

"I wake up early," he shrugged.

"Oh," the boy exclaimed. "I'm Michael Corner by the way and this is Terry Boot and Anthony Goldstein," he introduced the others.

Harry gave each of them a respectful nod.

"The Boots and Goldsteins are prominent members of the Wizengamot. These boys could be allies for you in the years to come."

"It's nice to meet you all," he replied. "How're you finding all of this?"

Michael's face lit up with excitement.

"It's amazing," he declared.

"I've visited on several occasions. My father insisted I know my way around the castle before coming here," Anthony interjected smugly.

Harry immediately took a disliking to the boy. He was pompous and rubbed him the wrong way with his self-importance.

"It's alright," Terry shrugged.

"Well, since you already know your way around, Anthony, perhaps you can lead us all to the dungeons. We have potions first," Harry informed him.

"I-I can do that," the responded nervously.

Unsurprisingly, the boy did seem to know his way around, something that only made the grin he wore even more smug. They arrived at the classroom with time to spare and Harry removed his book from his bag along with his potions kit.

After only being inside the room for a few minutes, the door opened with a loud bang and a darkly dressed man entered, the very same one that had been scrutinising him from afar the night before.

"If you even attempt to use that wand it will cost you more points than you will ever gain," he warned one of the Hufflepuff boys who appeared as though he was preparing to cast a spell. "Well, put it away," the man barked.

The boy almost jumped out of skin as he hurried to pocket his wand. The professor ignored this and swept his gaze across the room.

"There will be no foolish wand waving in this room. You are here to learn the art of brewing, a practice that takes patience, skill and resilience. If you have all three, there may be hope for you. If you lack even one, you are doomed to failure," he warned. "I can teach you to bottle fame, brew glory and even put a stop to death."

Harry found he disliked the man, but he could certainly respect the command he held over his class. Not a sound could be heard as he glided around the room introducing his chosen topic more dramatically than he likely had intended.

"Potter," he called suddenly. "What would I get if I added asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

Harry frowned. He had no idea what the answer was.

"That is a question for fifth years," Tom seethed. "We will show him, Harry. The answer is The Draught of the Living Death. It is a sleeping potion."

"Well?" the professor prompted irritably.

"A sleeping potion, professor. I believe it is called The Draught of the Living Death."

The man's eyes widened briefly before he scowled.

"Indeed," he conceded, his voice laced with suspicion.

"And where would you look if I were to instruct you to fetch a bezoar?"

This, Harry did know. Tom had drilled him extensively on poisons and antidotes when he was nine. He had been fearful that the Dursleys might try and use it on him.

"It is found in the stomach of a goat. It can counter most basic poisons and some less common."

The man nodded thoughtfully.

"Very good," he praised reluctantly. "And finally, what is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

"They are both the same, better known as aconite, a poison that cannot be countered using a bezoar."

A ghost of a smirk appeared briefly on the man's face before he composed himself.

"Well, why are you all not writing this down?"

Harry breathed a sigh of relief.

"He may not like you, Harry, but he respects good work. I'm pleased you are remembering my teachings. Two out of three difficult questions is not bad at all," Tom praised.

"I still needed your help," he muttered.

"Shut up, Potter," Snape barked, having heard his voice.

Harry shook his head and got to work on the potion they would be brewing. It was a rather simple recipe and he managed to complete it with little issue. By the end of the lesson, he had a rather well-made Boil Cure.

Snape held it up to the light as he shook the phial, looking for any imperfections in his brew.

"It is a passable attempt," he commented before turning sharply away and dismissing the class with another unnecessarily loud command.

"Thank merlin," Harry sighed.

"He truly wishes to dislike you. Do not give him further cause, Harry."

Harry huffed. He didn't know what he had done to cause such dislike in the man, but he truly didn't care. If Snape wanted to be a git, he would just have to keep producing good results so that he had no reason to.

Putting the unpleasant professor to the back of his mind, he headed towards the transfiguration classroom on the fourth floor, another lesson he would be sharing with the Hufflepuffs.

"Bloody hell, Harry," Michael puffed out when the three boys caught up with him. "How did you know all that?"

"Reading," Harry answered with a shrug.

Michael frowned but was prevented from pressing him further when Anthony piped up.

"I thought Justin was going to wet himself when Snape told him off," he snorted. "What a baby."

"I can't imagine you being braver," Terry commented. "I'd bet you actually would."

"I would not," Anthony denied.

"You would," Terry countered.

Harry simply shook his head, leaving them behind as he entered the classroom and took a seat near the back. The three boys decided that they would sit with him, much to his chagrin. He ignored them as best he could whilst he waited for Professor McGonagall.

Much to his surprise, a cat that had been perched on the edge of the desk sprung to the floor, changing into the woman mid-air. Her feat of magic earned her a round of applause and she smiled tightly at them.

"Transfiguration is amongst the most difficult branches of magic to learn, let alone master," she began her introduction. "Here, you will learn inanimate, to animate transfiguration." She demonstrated this by turning her desk into a large pig and then back again. "Conjuration," she continued, flicking her wand and creating a chair seemingly from nothing, "and many other forms of the practice. Be warned, it is as difficult as it is dangerous. Any caught acting foolishly will leave, never to return."

A few of the students fidgeted nervously in their chairs. The woman was not as loud as Snape, but she didn't need to be. Her presence was commanding enough.

"You will turn to page three in your books and attempt to transfigure a matchstick into a needle," she instructed, a wave of her wand providing each student with what they required.

"That's easy," Anthony declared before waving his wand and muttering the incantation.

The match remained as it had been and both Michael and Terry laughed.

"Yes, easy," Terry mocked.

"Well, why don't you do it if you're so good?" Anthony bit back.

Terry shrugged and followed the other boys' example, his results proving to be no better.

"See," Anthony returned.

Michael too struggled to get any change, and as a result, neither of the boys had managed it by the time the professor came to check on them.

"It's too hard, professor," Anthony whined.

"It takes practice, Mr Goldstein," the woman insisted. "If you spent less time mocking one another and helping, you may very well see improvements in your work."

Anthony's ears flushed red as he nodded.

"Potter? Have you managed it?"

Harry shook his head.

"Just as we discussed, Harry. Show just enough that you are above them," Tom reminded him.

"Go ahead," the woman encouraged.

Harry drew his wand and mumbled the incantation whilst waving his wand over the matchstick.

"Very good, Potter," the woman praised. "Excellent for a first try."

"It didn't work," Harry sighed, pointing to his now metal matchstick.

"You managed the most difficult part," Professor McGonagall countered.

Harry shook his head as he took Michael's and placed it in front of him.

"It doesn't feel right when I say the word. It feels like something is blocking me."

It was the truth, mostly. Harry had tried to work different spells using wand movements and incantations, but the way Tom had taught him prevented it from happening.

"What do you mean, Potter?"

"It feels easier when I do it like this," he explained.

Without uttering a word, he simply pointed his wand at the matchstick, focused on his intention, and it changed into a perfect needle as his magic escaped through his wand in a controlled wave.

Professor McGonagall's eyebrows almost disappeared into her hairline at the demonstration. She composed herself by clearing her throat with a cough.

"Is it this way only for transfiguration?" she asked.

Harry shook his head.

"Is something wrong, professor?"

"No," she assured him, "there is nothing wrong at all, Mr Potter. You simply have what is known as an instinctual grasp on magic. It means you have enough control over it and your intent to get the results you desire without the need of incantations and wand motions. It is rather astounding that you achieved such a thing at your age. We don't begin working on it here until sixth year."

"Oh," Harry mumbled.

"It is not something to be despondent about," she chided. "I expect that it will serve to benefit you considerably. Have you tried any other spells?"

Harry nodded.

"I can do charms, some defence spells and other transfigurations."

The professor hummed appreciatively.

"I simply believed that you had inherited your father's talent for this subject. He was a nuisance, but the best I ever taught," she finished with a sigh.

"I wouldn't know, professor."

"Of course," she replied apologetically. "Do feel free to seek me out if you wish to learn of him. He was an excellent student and I had him in my office often enough that I have a few stories to share let me tell you."

"Thank you, professor," Harry returned sincerely.

"For now, however, I would like to see what it is you can do. I will check in with the rest of the class and return shortly."

Harry nodded as she left.

"I think she likes you," Anthony chuckled when the woman had was out of earshot.

"He's good at transfiguration," Terry defended him. "My dad said that not many people are. Good for you, Harry."

"Thanks, Terry," Harry replied gratefully.

"Excellent, Harry," Tom praised.

True to her word, McGonagall did return and somewhat put him through his paces by having him demonstrate much of the first-year curriculum and even a few second-year spells. She had praised him for the standard of his work, but said nothing more on the matter, and by the end of the day, he was spent and could do little more than crawl into his bed after dinner.

"It will get easier," Tom assured him. "The more you use your magic, the more stamina you will have. It is something we will work on. Remember, the hard work will pay off."

(BREAK)

The end of the first week of teaching had arrived and Albus Dumbledore had gathered all members of staff in his office for a meeting. It was something he did every year to get an idea of how well the students were doing and if there were any causes of concern that need to be raised. His position kept him busy, sometimes busier than he would have liked. This meant that he didn't often get to spend time with the students and relied heavily on his staff to bring anything needed to his attention.

"Thank you for joining me," he greeted them all over his half-moon spectacles. He had cleared a space in the room for a table large enough to seat them all. He sat at the head so that he could see each one of them with ease and he would not miss any input from those less talkative. "Do we have any pressing concerns amongst our returning students?"

In anticipation of an answer, he dipped his quill into a nearby inkpot, ready to take any necessary notes.

"The Weasley twins are already causing havoc, Albus," Minerva sighed. "Three times I have had to have them in my office. Something must be done about them."

Dumbledore nodded as his quill scratched against the parchment. The twins were bright enough, when they found something they wished to learn.

"I will have a word with them," he promised. "Anything else?"

He received a series of headshakes in response.

"Excellent. How are our first-years fairing? Any concerns?"

"Longbottom," Minerva huffed. "The boy is barely scraping an acceptable level of work. I don't know what Augusta has done to the boy, but he is terrified of everything, even his own wand."

Dumbledore sighed as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"Frank was very much the same when he arrived. Augusta places too much pressure on her charges. I will request that she comes in for a meeting. Would you like to be there, Minerva?"

The woman nodded and Dumbledore took down another note.

"Any other concerns?"

"Not a concern, as such," Filius broke in, "but I do feel it prudent that we discuss Mr. Potter. He is not mixing well with other students. There has been no unpleasantness," he added when Dumbledore appeared to be concerned, "but when he is not in lessons, he isolates himself away from the others. He does not seek out companionship and is barely tolerant of others that force their company on him."

"That is concerning," the headmaster mused aloud. "Has anyone else noticed this?"

"I think it is something we all have, Albus," Minerva answered. "I do not know what to do. Clearly, he wants to be left alone."

"I don't think him isolating himself is a good thing," Dumbledore sighed.

"Something we only have ourselves to blame for, Albus. It was us that placed him there with those awful people."

"Because it is where he is safest, Minerva," the man reminded her.

"It has done him no good. Merlin Albus, both James and Lily were outgoing, social people. I see nothing of either of them in him. The boy is a damned shell."

"I too was against the idea of the boy being placed there," Severus broke in, surprising the older man. "I would hazard that his life has been rather unpleasant."

"That is a rather rash assumption to make, Severus," Filius squeaked.

Snape shrugged uncaringly.

"I will monitor the situation and pay a visit to them if necessary," Dumbledore assured them. "How is he other than the apparent issues?"

"He is brilliant, Albus," Minerva answered before anyone else could. "He is already casting his spells non-verbally and with intent. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes."

"Truly?" the headmaster questioned, a concerned frown marring his features.

"I would agree with Minerva's assessment. The boy is a natural at charms, theory as well as practical," Filius interjected.

"Is there any reason to believe that this is not a natural ability?"

"None whatsoever," the charms master replied.

"No," Minerva concurred. "He managed a partial transfiguration using an incantation. I genuinely believe that he is naturally inclined towards intent-based magic."

"Do you think that it is possible that Petunia told him of his heritage?" Dumbledore questioned Severus.

The man curled his lip in distaste.

"The woman is spiteful, jealous and petty. She would do all she can to ensure he didn't find out. Perhaps something happened and he worked it out for himself."

Dumbledore frowned. Such a thing reminded him of a different boy he had visited many years ago. Tom Riddle had been able to utilise his magic before he knew he was a wizard. Perhaps Harry had done the same. He would need to keep a close eye on him for any further worrying signs.

"What do you think of him, Severus?"

"He is quiet, Albus. He has so far demonstrated the brilliance of his mother without the expected arrogance of his father."

"High praise indeed coming from yourself," Dumbledore replied with a smile.

"It is early days, yet," the man grumbled.

"I would ask that you all keep an eye on him for the time being. I will have a discussion with Harry if needed."

"What do we do about him in classes, Albus? His is excelling at a rapid rate and I am reluctant to slow him down. I do not want him to disengage from the subject," Minerva enquired.

"I am of a similar position," Filius added.

Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully, his mind wandering to the many things regarding the boy.

"Nurture him," he decided, "and keep me informed of his progress."

The two professors readily agreed to the request.

Dumbledore soon brought the meeting to a close and sat behind his desk once he had cleared away the conjured tables and chairs, his mind occupied by thoughts of Harry Potter.

He had not expected the boy to have a good life with his relatives, but his personality was rather troubling. At worst, he would have expected a meek boy, perhaps lacking confidence and in need of a few friends to brighten him up. He had not expected a rather brilliant introvert.

He sighed as he rubbed his eyes tiredly. He would watch him as best he could and perhaps pay a visit to the Dursleys if required. Harry had given him no reason to do so thus far. Yes, he wasn't what any of his staff had expected, but he hadn't done anything wrong. On the contrary, he had proven to be respectful and dedicated to his studies. The older man couldn't help but wonder if he would be so concerned if it were any other student. It was unlikely he would. Many a student of a similar disposition had passed through these halls during his many years here and only one had taken a path that should not have been tread. So long as Harry showed no signs of following in Tom's footsteps, he had no reason to worry.

(BREAK)

Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he put the cork in his phial, completing the last lesson of term. Tomorrow morning, the majority of the students would be leaving the castle to return to their families for Christmas, something that he was looking forward to, not returning to the Dursleys, of course, but he would have less people to deal with only a daily basis for a couple of weeks.

His first few months of school had flown by in a blur of lessons, studying under Tom and discovering a love of flying. Ever since his first lesson, he had taken to borrowing a school broom from time to time to practice. It had come as naturally to him as anything ever had and he found it to be an excellent way of relieving stress and to have a few moments to himself when his workload was piling up. Both McGonagall and Flitwick had taken it upon themselves to push him, though their efforts paled in comparison to how much a taskmaster Tom had become.

During the evenings and even on weekends, the man would set him goals to complete, whether it would be completing a mixture of charms and transfigurations in an allotted time, or even providing new spells for him to learn. It took its toll on the boy, but he was certainly feeling the benefit.

"One day, you may come across a wizard more powerful than yourself. If you can be faster than him, and accurate, then you can be victorious," Tom had explained.

Harry took each lesson to heart, always trying to better himself under the guidance of the man and the professors he had at his disposal, and only three months in, he was already showing signs of improvement.

Little else had happened around the school other than on Halloween. Harry frowned at the memory and shook his head.

It was during dinner that Professor Quirrell had entered the great hall and announced that a troll had entered the castle and was currently in the dungeons. The cowardly man had then proceeded to faint on the spot, bringing him down considerably in Harry's estimation.

The stuttering man was a rather poor teacher and Harry struggled to glean anything from his lessons with the incessant speech impediment. Just being around the man combined with the overpowering stench of garlic within his room had begun to induce headaches and the incident with the troll had proven to be the final straw. Harry had decided he was learning nothing, and he was tired of the pounding in his head. Once this term was over, he would no longer attend the classes. His time would be spent better working with Tom who could teach him much more. Surprisingly, Tom had agreed. He did not like the idea of Harry wasting his time there.

"A defence professor that cannot handle a simple troll. The man is an embarrassment," he had declared.

Fortunately, the troll had been subdued by the professors before it could bring lasting harm to anyone. Hermione Granger had spent a few days in the hospital wing after receiving minor wounds from it, but the professors had arrived in time to prevent further issue.

Harry had made to sure to visit the girl whom he shared so few classes with and gifted her with some chocolate and a card wishing her a speedy recovery. She had been pleased to see him and the two whiled away a few hours discussing their experiences of school thus far. She explained that she had become friends with Neville Longbottom, a shy boy in her house and that being away from her parents was not as daunting she she'd expected.

Harry was pleased for her, pleased that she would not be forced to endure her school years as lonely as she might have had she not made a friend. She again had thanked him for allowing her to use Hedwig and he had left her to sleep of the remainder of the trauma she had suffered.

"It seems that you have made a friend," Tom had commented.

"No, not a friend, just an acquaintance," Harry countered.

When bid to do so, he exited the dungeons and returned to his room where he studied and worked under the tutelage for a few hours. Come morning, he would likely have the entire tower to himself and he could enjoy some time in his own company and without fear of being intruded upon by those who sought his company.

(BREAK)

The past few days leading up to Christmas Day had been bliss. Not a single Ravenclaw had remained within the castle and very few students in other houses had elected to stay either. It had given him much time to relax, go for an occasional fly and work on his magic. There was little more he could ask for from life than the peace he'd had.

Pulling himself from the warmth of his sheets, he was surprised by the small pile of gifts at the foot of the bed. He'd purchased a few gifts for the boys in his house and one for Hermione himself, but he had not expected to receive anything. He hadn't before and had no reason to believe this year would be any different.

He picked up one of them and tentatively unwrapped it, revealing a book on advanced transfiguration and a note from Terry Boot. He found himself smiling unwittingly as he shook his head. He had purchased a book on potions for the boy. He too had managed to prove to Snape that he was not an inept, lost cause when it came to the art and he had began dedicating himself to it. Often, he would consult Harry on the homework they had been given to complete and the two would share notes.

Anthony had gifted him with a variety of sweets and Michael, a model broom that began flying above his head upon being opened. The sentiment brought another smile to his lips as he opened the next gift, this one courtesy of Hermione. She had given him a copy of Hogwarts: A History and a bag of owl treats that he hoped were for Hedwig.

He knew that she had a penchant for spending a considerable amount of money on books, so it had made sense send her a voucher for Flourish and Blots.

Coming to the last gift, he couldn't fathom who it could be from. It was neatly wrapped in purple paper with a scribbled note attached.

"Your father left this in my possession before he died. It is time it was returned to you. Use it well," he muttered as he tore open the package.

A large, silvery piece of cloth slipped through his fingers and pooled on the floor in front of him. He retrieved it with a frown wandering what on earth it could.

"I believe that it is an invisibility cloak, Quite the valuable commodity," Tom commented. "Though, it makes no sense. If it did indeed once belong to your father, that would make it around twelve-years-old at the very least."

"Do they not last that long?"

"No, usually five years at best. If this truly belonged to your father, Harry, then it is an exceptional artefact and one you should hold on to."

Harry nodded. He did not know who had sent the cloak, but if it was his father's, it was the best gift he would likely ever receive.

"We will have uses for it in the future," Tom spoke. "For now, best put it away. If it was gifted to you from someone within these walls, they will be expecting you to use it the first chance you get. Give it a few weeks and then I will be able to give you a gift of my own also."

Harry couldn't agree more. Until he knew where the cloak came from or until a reasonable enough time had passed, he wouldn't risk using it. He didn't know if any type of spell or curse had been put on it, and he wasn't far enough into his studies to look for such things. Curses and spells were intricate things and not something that should be messed around with lightly. Tom had been very firm when informing him of that.

Opening the presents had sapped any appetite he may have had, so he decided to skip breakfast. Instead, he headed to the owlery with the bag of treats he had received and spent some time with Hedwig whilst contemplating how much his life had changed over the past few months.

He had no complaints about being at Hogwarts really. He had his own room, was fed three times a day and had access to an exhaustive number of books in the library. The one thing that did play on his mind more often was the fate of his parents. It was hard to not think about them when most of the professors spoke so highly of them often. Flitwick and McGonagall would often mention each of them, pointing out how proud they would be of him.

Harry, however, didn't know how to take it. When he had been at Privet Drive, the Potters had been a taboo subject. The one time he'd had the audacity to ask his aunt about her sister, he had been hit with a frying pan and he hadn't asked again.

"It is okay to think of them, Harry."

"There's no point dwelling on the past, Tom," he countered. "They're gone. What do I have to gain from knowing about them? Memories from other people are not good enough and it would only make me miss what I never had." He shook his head. "No, best let them rest. I'm here and they're not. It's just me, Tom. It will always be just me."

"Us, Harry," the voice corrected.

Harry said nothing as he fed his owl a few treats whilst she perched herself on his shoulder. He couldn't be certain how long he remained in the tower, but it wasn't until his stomach growled loudly that he headed back inside and towards the Great Hall to see what was on offer for lunch.

When he arrived, it was to find that three of the house tables had been set aside leaving only one in the middle.

"Ah, Harry," Dumbledore greeted him, "do please join us."

Harry took a seat opposite a group of redheads who had evidently decided to stay at school for the holidays with a couple of other students dotted around. Around him were a few members of staff he recognised including Professors McGonagall, Snape and Flitwick. Another member of staff he didn't know was there also, a woman with glasses so thick that they made her eyes bulge comically.

He ignored the way she stared at him as he helped himself to some potatoes, vegetables and chicken before placing the plate down and sliding his wand from its' holster and into his hand. Casually, he set about eating same carrots, leaving a hand free under the table.

Living with Dursleys had given him a keen eye for trouble, and the redheaded twins opposite were clearly cooking something up. He couldn't certain just what it was, but it was brewing.

In his periphery, he saw one of them unsubtly load a sprout onto a spoon before it was aimed in his direction and the cutlery used like a catapult to launch it in his direction.

Reacting quickly, he gave his wand a wave, stilling the projectile only an inch or so from his face.

"George!" the elder of the four chastised.

"Oi, I'm George," the seemingly innocent twin corrected.

Harry merely tilted his head slightly at the dripping green before shaking it in amusement.

"I appreciate the offer, but I don't like sprouts," he declared before giving his wand a flick and propelling it back towards the offending boy.

So shocked at the turn of events, the redhead did not even move, and the sprout hit him in the middle of the forehead with a wet, dull thud, leaving a smear of gravy behind as the vegetable landed back on his plate.

"Bloody hell," the youngest of the four swore.

Harry shrugged as he replaced the wand in his holster and continued to enjoy his meal, the odd silence broken by an irate Professor McGonagall.

"That will be a week of detention, Weasley," she seethed. "If any other food finds itself with the ability to fly, I will make it a month."

The boy was aghast, his mouth gaping at the rather severe punishment.

"I think Weasley was trying to introduce himself," Harry broke in. "I believe that he does not have the social skills to do so without throwing food like a common ape. I think a simple lesson in manners would be much more effective."

"A lesson in manners?" McGonagall asked with a slight frown.

"Of course, allow me to demonstrate."

Harry wiped his mouth with a napkin before standing and approaching the confused redhead. Upon doing so, he offered the boy his hand along with a polite smile.

"Hello, Weasley, I'm Harry Potter, I'm pleased to make your acquaintance," he introduced himself. The boy looked between his three siblings in disbelief before Harry sighed and leaned forward. "This is the part where you stand up, shake my hand and tell me your name."

Weasley stood almost mechanically and returned the gesture, grasping the younger's hand in his own.

"I'm George Weasley. It's nice to meet you, Harry."

Harry nodded his approval as the other twin stood.

"I'm Fred," he announced offering a hand that Harry accepted. "This is our older brother Percy and little Ronniekins."

"Just Ron," the youngest of the four growled, his ears reddening in embarrassment.

"How many of you are there?" Harry questioned.

"Seven," Fred answered proudly. "Bill and Charlie have already graduated, and Ginny will be starting next year."

"I bet your mother has her hands full with you. Probably just you two," he added, nodding towards each twin in turn.

"You flatter us," Fred replied with an elaborate bow, a large grin plastered across his face.

Harry sighed, wishing he hadn't engaged them as he had.

"Well, my dinner is getting cold and I would like to finish it. It was nice meeting you all," he said with a more composed bow of his own. "Oh, and Weasley?"

"What?" Fred asked.

"Your posture is terrible. Your poor mother would have a fit if she saw you slouch like that. Allow me to help."

With a flick of his wand, the underwear of the boy tightened uncomfortably, causing him to yelp as the fabric was pulled taut in a northern direction, straightening him.

"I don't think any punishment is necessary, professor," Harry argued as he retook his seat. "As you can see, just a small lesson was all he needed."

A ghost of a smile pulled at the corners of the woman's mouth as she nodded her agreement.

"I believe you are right. I will, however, have to take five points from Ravenclaw for using magic during dinner and then give you ten for assisting a professor."

"And another ten for excellent application of magic," Dumbledore added with a chuckle of amusement.

Harry offered the man a nod before finishing his meal and returning to the empty tower.

He had around another week of having it to himself and he wanted to take full advantage of it. That meant lots of practice under the mentorship of Tom and likely a considerable amount of reading.

It was the kind of thing he lived for; his goals ever-present in the back of his mind. He was pleased with the start he'd made and wished to go on with the same dedication. He would continue with the same dedication.

(BREAK)

Alas, the serenity of the castle did indeed come to an end with the returning students and life returned to normal at Hogwarts. Again, Harry found himself in a comfortable routine of attending his classes, minus defence, working with Tom during the evenings and managing a fly on one of the school brooms.

It was in mid-February that Tom felt is safe to use the cloak for the first time and had drilled Harry on some basic detection charms. Having practiced and cast them successfully, the cloak was deemed safe to use and absent of anything that could be detrimental. Tom had assured him that anything that could be deemed sinister would have alerted the wards. The charms he had learnt would only be able to identify things such as tracking charms and other spells of a similar nature.

It was only because of this that Harry found himself beneath the cloak for the first time and making his way towards the Seventh Floor, a part of the castle he seldom visited.

"What I am about to show you must be kept a secret, Harry. It will be a space reserved only for you. If word of it were to get out, then it would be lost to us."

Harry nodded his understanding.

"I want you to pass this expanse of wall three times, back and forth, whilst thinking about a room where you can practice magic."

Harry found the request odd, but complied, nonetheless. He passed the stretch of wall until a door materialised within the stonework, stilling him in shock.

"Go inside, quickly," Tom urged.

Harry entered to find himself in what could only be described as a large chamber. A set of what appeared to be mannequins lined the wall the furthest away and there was a desk with bookshelves lining one of the walls.

"What is this place?" he asked in awe.

"A very special room, Harry. I happened upon it during my fifth year as a student. I experimented with it for a while and discovered that it could become almost anything I needed. As far as I am aware, it is one of the best kept secrets within the castle, and as it is not in use, I can safely say it remains that way."

"It's amazing,"

"It is," Tom agreed, "and I am passing it on to you. This is where we will be completing our training from now on. I had intended on showing it to you much later, but the cloak has made it possible sooner."

"Thank you," Harry whispered as he walked towards the bookshelves to get a closer look.

"Do not thank me, yet," Tom chuckled. "This simply means that I will be working you harder now that we have the facilities to do so."

Harry nodded. The additional hard work would be worth it so long as this room was available to him.

(BREAK)

The end of the school year was drawing near and Harry was not relishing the thought of returning to his relatives. For the first time in his life, he had been free, he ad a bed of his own and was able to practice his magic. Daily visits to the alley would not be the same and he could admit that he would simply miss being here.

"You could always find a hotel to stay in," Tom suggested.

"No," Harry declined. "I will not squander money for a little comfort. I will stay with the Dursleys and keep them in line when necessary."

Harry had his reasons for wanting to return to the muggles, none he had spoken out loud. It was a personal thing to him, even if it did sound foolish in his own mind.

He'd had a trying evening in his room. Tom was working him harder than ever on his speed and accuracy drills and the effort left him rather exhausted. It was, however, proving to be a boon. His spell work was beginning to show signs of considerable improvement and Tom had promised there was much, much more to come.

He found himself descending the stairs that led to the fifth floor when he found himself accosted by the defence professor, seemingly lying in wait for him. He sighed knowing that the man had finally caught up with him. Harry had been avoiding this conversation since the new year and had done so successfully until now.

"A w-word, P-Potter," he requested as he gestured for the boy to follow him.

Already, his head was pounding from the thought of the impending conversation with the man and the overwhelming stench of garlic only made matters worse. He didn't know it was possible that a person could have such an unpleasant effect, but this one did. His head throbbed dully as he took a seat within the room at the behest of the strangely dressed professor.

"I w-wished t-to ask just why y-you have n-not attended m-my l-lessons?"

Harry shrugged.

"No offense, professor, the garlic gives me unbearable headaches. I have been using the time to study the subject."

The man nodded as he frowned unhappily.

"Careful, Harry," Tom warned. "There has always been something very odd about him. During your absence from his classes, it has gotten stronger. This man is very dangerous. Calmly, you need to get away from him."

Harry swallowed deeply as he stood.

"Again, you have my apologies professor. Perhaps you'll allow me a couple of days to revise and then you can test me?"

Quirrell's eyes narrowed before a benign smile formed as he nodded happily.

"V-very w-well, P-Potter."

Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he made his way to the door, only to be caught short by the sound of a wheezing voice.

"Stop him," it demanded.

Before he could even turn around, he felt something impact against his back and he taken by the darkness, the sound of Tom shouting furiously inside his mind.

He couldn't be certain how long he was out for, but he woke in an unfamiliar room, shivering from the cold on the floor.

"Thank Merlin," Tom whispered. "Do not move, Harry. Whatever is happening here cannot be good. Stay still and let it pass."

The boy flinched as Quirrell shouted in frustration and he slammed his eyes shut tightly. It was an awful feeling; the same one he had felt growing up during the early years of being at the Dursleys. He was scared, vulnerable and with no one seemingly to help him. It was a feeling he detested, and he vowed that if he were to survive whatever was happening to him, he would not allow himself to feel such away again.

"I am trying, Master. The mirror will not yield the stone," Quirrell growled.

"Then use the boy, he is awake," the unseen person chided.

"Please, just stay calm, Harry," Tom pleaded. "Do as you are asked. I will think of something."

Harry felt himself be hoisted from the ground and the room spun uncomfortably. When his vison cleared, he saw that Quirrell remained in front of an odd mirror which he must have been speaking of as he levitated Harry towards him, his head pounding more the closer he got.

"Look in the mirror, Potter. What do you see?"

Harry did as he was bid, surprised by the reflection that stared back at him. It was undoubtedly him, but older by what couldn't be more than half-a-dozen-years. Around him floated a shadowy figure, absent of a discernible face. His expression was one of resolve, though he looked happier and healthier than he had felt with a determined gleam in his eye, his mirror self, exuding strength and confidence. The figure nodded towards him expectantly.

"What do you see?" Quirrell pressed.

"I see myself, happy and healthy. Strong enough to handle whatever life throws at me."

The disembodied voice laughed mockingly causing Harry to cringe at the sound.

"He speaks the truth," it spoke after a moment. "I wish to meet the boy."

"No, master, you are not strong enough. Without the stone this will all be for nothing."

"SILENCE," the voice shouted. "Do as I command."

Quirrell's lip trembled as he unwound the turban on his head before turning his back towards Harry. The sight that met him was horrifying. Instead of a head of hair or a simple shaved patch of skin, he was met with the visage of another protruding from the back of the professor's head.

"Harry Potter," the voice greeted him in a laboured whisper. "For ten years I have waited for this moment, waited to look upon the boy thought to be my downfall."

"Harry, you need to run," Tom frantically instructed. "Please, just run away. Now is not the time to confront him."

"Voldemort," Harry whispered in recognition, the very same man thought to have perished the night he had murdered his parents.

"It is I, Harry," the face confirmed. "Not quite as dead as the world believes."

"Not quite alive either," Harry bit back.

"Very true," Voldemort conceded, "but it is only a matter of time before I have a body of my own. You, however, will not live to see such a thing. Kill him," he instructed.

"Run, Harry," Tom screamed in his mind.

The boy bolted as quickly as he legs would allow, only for him to fall victim to a hex as he scrambled up the stairs and towards the only door in the room. He tried again, this time stopped as he reached it by a wall of flame erupting in front of him, blocking his path.

He turned, panicked, and with no way to escape.

"What do I do?" he whispered.

"You must fight back, Harry. With whatever you have, you must fight back," Tom sobbed.

Flicking his wand in his hand, he was at a loss on what move to make. Firing spells at a target was one thing, but a real fight was something else entirely.

"Anything, Harry. Just do something."

Harry nodded and flicked his wand towards the approaching man, his heart sinking soon after as his effort was batted aside carelessly.

"You cannot stand against the might of my master," Quirrell shrieked as he closed in.

"Again, Harry."

The boy wanted nothing more than for the man to get away from him, for it to hurt for what he was trying to do to him. With another desperate flick of his wand, a bolt of pink careened from the tip. Quirrell was but a few feet away when he cast, leaving him with no time to defend himself as the spell cleaved through his elbow, severing the arm to the ground with his wand still clutched in the hand.

The professor screamed in a mixture of agony and fury as he launched himself at Harry, the boy shocked into stillness by what he had done. He felt his throat tighten under the squeeze of the man who continued to scream. Desperately, he clawed at the hand choking him and his nose was assaulted with the smell of burning flesh.

Quirrell released his grip as he stepped back, the hand Harry had grabbed crumbling into ashes. All he could do was stare dumbly at the appendage as it burnt away.

"Get him, Harry. End him before he tries to end you again," Tom hissed furiously.

Without thinking, Harry launched himself at the man, grabbing his face and eliciting another bloodcurdling scream, the disembodied voice joining his own as for flesh was scorched away.

"Get him," Voldemort screamed.

Once more, Quirrell tried to launch himself at Harry but was stopped in his tracks as a spell impacted against him and propelled him across the length of the room and into the wall on the other side. Quirrell hit the ground with a sickening crunch and remained there unmoving.

Harry turned to see Albus Dumbledore entering the room with his wand in hand, his eyes alight with a fury none would expect from such a seemingly gentle man. The boy shuddered as he felt the magic rolling off him, it was almost suffocating being around such power. Evidently, his reputation as an excellent sorcerer was well-earnt and Harry couldn't help but lament at how weak he was in comparison.

"One day, Harry," Tom whispered tiredly.

Harry's attention was pulled to the form of Quirrell once more as a scream of fury sounded and a ghostly figure rose from within the man and charged towards the headmaster. The attack, however, was prevented by the appearance of a translucent golden wall, and as the spectre ricocheted off it, it launched through the ceiling, vanishing with a final shriek.

With the ordeal over, Harry's knees buckled, and he fell to them trembling, the contents of his stomach escaping him as he vomited from the rush of battle. He felt a hand rub his back gently as he gasped for air, his emotions whirring, and his body exhausted from the efforts.

"You have my apologies, Harry," Dumbledore spoke. "You should never have been put in such a position. Had I not been away from the castle, I can assure you that you would not have been."

Harry could only nod in response as he attempted to calm his breathing.

"I feel that it would be prudent to get you some medical attention, just to ensure that you have not suffered any lasting effects from the events of this night."

Harry again felt himself lifted from the ground, this time much more gently under the warmer magic of the headmaster.

(BREAK)

He didn't remember closing his eyes, but when they opened next, he found himself enveloped in warmth, the sheets wrapped around him an unfamiliar, different to the blue he was used to.

"How long was I out?" he asked as he spotted Dumbledore sat by the bed, his eyes full of concern.

"Only a few hours, Harry," the man replied. "How are you feeling?"

"Just tired," harry answered truthfully.

Dumbledore nodded.

"Fortunately, you have not suffered anything further than a bout of exhaustion. Understandable given the circumstances."

Harry released a deep breath of relief.

"He's not gone, is he?"

Dumbledore shook his head.

"No, I do not believe so."

Harry felt his heart sunk. He didn't know why Voldemort wanted him dead, but that didn't matter. It was the fact that someone so powerful was coming for him that bothered him so.

"He's going to come for me again."

"I will do all I can to prevent that, Harry," the old man assured him, "but, he will try and may one day succeed. Voldemort, is a very gifted wizard and will resort to any means to get what he wants."

Harry accepted the words with a slight huff.

"Think on it no further," the headmaster encouraged. "You are safe, Harry."

"For now."

"Yes, for now," Dumbledore agreed with a smile. "Perhaps you could satisfy my curiosity on an unrelated matter?"

Harry shrugged in response, happy to no longer discuss the Dark Lord vying for his blood.

"When did you become aware that you are a wizard?"

"When I was seven, I suppose," he answered truthfully. "I managed to apparate away from my cousin and his friends when they tried to beat me up. I knew there was something different about me."

"That is an extraordinary piece of magic for one so young, Harry," Dumbledore praised. "An attempt such as that could have proven most unpleasant."

Harry offered another shrug and Dumbledore sighed.

"It does explain why your magic works the way it does, I suppose," he continued thoughtfully. "You had a need and your magic reacted. I suppose it has made it more inclined towards your intent. I must caution you, however, intent can be interpreted differently depending on your emotion and how vague you are with it."

"I didn't mean to cut his arm off," Harry replied honestly.

"No, but your magic interpreted it that way," Dumbledore countered. "Worry not, Harry. There are things that we can do to prevent such thing happening."

"Like what?"

"I will send a book to you during the summer. It will be a set of spells that I wish for you to learn the theory of, ones that will be useful in situations you need to defend yourself with. I can assure you, they are exceedingly useful and will negate the need to remove limbs. They are some personal favourites of my own. Given the reports I am receiving of your most excellent progress, it will be a challenge for you."

That sounded rather useful to Harry. Expanding his spell repertoire was something that he and Tom would be working on. Anything else Dumbledore could add to that would be a boon.

"Thank you, professor."

The man nodded as he stood.

"I believe that what happened this evening should be kept between ourselves, Harry. Not because I think people shouldn't know, but because I do not want the wrong people to. If they were to hear of this, it could prove to be disastrous to my efforts of putting an end to Voldemort."

"I agree," Harry replied.

"Please, do enjoy your summer, Harry. I expect both Professors McGonagall and Flitwick will be looking to push you harder next year."

Harry nodded as he sunk back into the mattress, his thoughts firmly on what had happened with Quirrell and Voldemort in that room.

"I'm sorry, Harry," the voice of Tom spoke sullenly. "I have failed you."

"No," Harry disagreed. "I would have died in there if you hadn't have helped me."

"It wasn't enough."

"Then we must be better for the next time."

"We will be," Tom vowed. "With him coming for you, things will need to change. I need you to trust me, Harry. I would never do anything to harm you, but there are things we need to begin preparing for."

"I trust you, Tom."

"Good. I thought that there were things that would need to wait, but time is against us. He is coming for you, Harry. Are you willing to do what it takes to put an end to him?"

Harry remembered the feeling of helplessness, the vulnerability and the fear. He never wanted to feel it again, to feel so weak. The fact that this man had murdered his parents only served to steel his resolve.

"I am."

"Then rest. We have a new goal to focus on, Harry. Dark times may lay ahead of you, but you will emerge the victor, that I can promise you."

A/N

As always, please do follow, favourite and review. It is much appreciated and thank you for the continued donations still coming in. Without you all, I would be up the creek without a paddle as the saying goes. Information of that can be found on my profile.

TBR