A/N: Sorry for the delay. I have exams going on. I'm in 12th. Any Indians? You'll understand why that takes up time..
Its kind of equivalent to high school graduation, I suppose.
Anyway, I haven't proof-read this chapter, so I apologise for any mistakes in advance. hope you like it.
My work is also un-beta'ed
I am glad to hear you are well. I'm even more glad to hear that you are doing exceedingly well in your classes. I hope, though, that you remember the task I gave you and working towards doing it.
This Christmas you cannot come home. I have to travel abroad to meet some potential allies. I will be busy the entire month. I will see you during summer. I do regret that this has to be during the festivities but I do not have any other option. Lucius will be accompanying me so Draco will be staying with you during the winter break.
Study hard and make me proud.
Short and to the point. That was exactly something his Father would do. He was glad that his father had put a charm on the letter. Anyone other than Harry reading it, it would seem to be a short and rude letter by the caretaker of the orphanage telling him not to come there for Christmas. Harry was glad because it would seem someone had opened this letter before it reached him. Who it was became clear when-
"Mr. Riddle, the Headmaster would like to see you in his office after dinner at 8." Snape told him. Harry had not expected Dumbledore to start snooping into his students' letters. "Come to my office at 7." Harry knew that was meant only for him to hear as Snape's voice had dropped to a whisper.
"Yes sir." Snape nodded and stalked away.
"Come in, Harry."
Harry walked in, confused as to why he was asked to come here.
"Sit down." Snape still hadn't looked up from his grading.
"You know the Headmaster called for you. I'll tell you why. He has decided to keep a closer eye on you. He has certainly not missed the way the seating in the hall has changed. He thinks you are on your way to become the next Dark Lord."
Here, both of them snorted and Harry laughed so hard he fell of his chair. That explained reading his letter.
"Well, can't fault him on that one." Harry said.
"Though what I wanted to inform you about was that he does not want to repeat his mistakes by keeping you at the orphanage. I assume he wants to make alternative living arrangements for you. Be careful."
"I will be. Thank you for the warning."
"The password is pepper imps." His distaste for the password was clear.
"Pepper imps." Harry grimaced and rolled his eyes. What a password!
The gargoyle shifted and a moving staircase was revealed to Harry. Harry climbed up and on reaching the door, he moved to knock. Before he could, though-
"Come in, Mr. Riddle."
He turned the handle and walked in. He had to say he was impressed. The Headmaster's office was a circular room tastefully decorated with colours from all four houses, various trinkets that Harry was sure he had never seen before despite his Father's collection. The previous headmasters' and mistress' portraits hung on the wall.
"Ah, Mr. Riddle, I've been expecting you. Take a seat." Dumbledore gestured to one of the comfortable chairs in front of his desk. Harry sat down and waited patiently for Dumbledore to start talking.
"I hope you are adjusting well, Harry- May I call you Harry?"
"Of course, sir." As if there was any other response he could give. "Yes, I've been adjusting well. I've made a few friends in the house, sir."
"Good, good. I am glad to hear that. I heard from Professor McGonagall that you… ah… live in an orphanage? Nasty place, she said."
"I do, sir."
"How do you find it there?"
Harry paused here and contemplated his answer.
"Well… you see, sir… I've always been… um… different from them. It- it made them ha- not like me. That has caused a few problems here and there but nothing else."
"Well, Harry, how would you like to have a different accommodation for your summer?"
"That is a wonderful offer, sir. But I'm afraid I must decline. I already promised Draco I would spend the vacation with him. Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy have been kind enough to let me stay there the entire summer."
Harry watched Dumbledore carefully at this point. Though his facial expression did not change, his twinkle dimmed a little and for a fleeting moment he looked disappointed. But when he spoke, it was as if none of that ever happened.
"That is wonderful news, my boy. Well then it seems I don't have to take up any more of your time. Have a great Christmas, Harry. Happy holidays."
"Thank you, sir. Happy Christmas."
Harry decided, tonight, he would go down the trapdoor under the Cerberus. He wasn't any closer to finding out what tasks were in there than he was 3 months ago, when he first saw the beast. He knew there was philosophers stone was in there. How he came to know was a complete fluke.
A month after the Hallowe'en incident
Harry was walking around the grounds since he was bored, again, when he saw Weasley and Longbottom going to the gamekeeper's hut. Weasley had taken to following Longbottom around like a lost puppy, hoping to bask in some of his glory. Harry's curiosity getting better of him, he followed them at a respectable distance. He missed the first few exchanges but one thing caught his attention-
"… third floor corridor." So, they had a run-in with the beast. Typical.
"How do you know about Fluffy?"
Fluffy? That thing has a name? His thoughts were echoed by Weasley.
"O' course he does. 'E's mine. Bought him off a Greek chappie."
"What's he guarding? We saw a trapdoor." Harry snorted. Subtle.
"Well, that's not for you to know… it's between prof'ssor Dumbledore and Nicholas Flamel… I should not have said that…" Harry did not wait after that. He had vital information in his grasp. Nicholas Flamel… that name was familiar… where had he heard it? Yes! That's where.
Nicholas Flamel was the only known maker of the Philosopher's stone. That is something his Father would be interested in.
He had read everything there was to read on a Cerberus. He knew he had to use music to put the beast to sleep. Then his adventure.
Harry carried a harp with him, disillusioned like he was, walking stealthily towards the third floor, Draco, also disillusioned, following him- because, well, Harry couldn't walk out of the dorms silently it seems and it was better to have company.
"Are you sure about this, Harry?"
"If you ask that one more time Draco, I swear I will cruciate you."
Harry was not serious but Draco shut up all the same. He had asked the same question 5 times already.
When they reached the forbidden corridor, Harry unlocked the door and levitated the harp inside. Only after it started playing did he enter. The beast was fast asleep by then. Draco and Harry moved its paw aside and opened the trapdoor.
"I'm going to be an impulsive Gryffindor and jump down." Harry said, his self-preservation instinct warring with innate curiosity and need to fulfil the promise he made to his Father.
… And fell on something soft.
Though, being a Slytherin he immediately whispered, "Lumos." And he was glad he did. His fall was not cushioned by anything man-friendly. It was a Devil's Snare.
"Draco, jump down and light a fire immediately. It's a Devil's Snare down here."
"WHAT? What the- Wait, I'm coming."
Harry had lit a fire already. Combined with Draco's, the plant receded. Before they walked through the door into the next room, they heard a buzzing sound.
"What is that?" Draco asked.
"They sound like wings. Let's go in."
"Why do you need to do this? This is insane. I am seriously doubting that you actually got into Sly-"
He stopped when Harry's eyes flashed. Harry was pissed with his incessant questioning.
"You want to know why I'm doing this?" He hissed, almost slipping into Parseltongue. His magic crackling. Draco took an unconscious step back. "Well the I'll tell you. Father asked me to. That is reason enough, don't you think?"
Draco gulped when he heard Harry say Dark Lord asked him to. He shouldn't have questioned. He quickly apologised.
"I'm sorry, Harry."
"You should be." At times like this it showed that Harry was raised by the Dark Lord. His ego plummeted and reached the Heavens.
"If you don't object anymore, Draco, let's move forward, shall we?" his voice was mocking. He turned and opened the door. "They're keys. Look that's the door. We have to get the right key."
"There are hundreds of the them. How are we supposed to do it?"
"Fly." Saying it, he took off. His father had, of course, taught him that. Draco was used to this, the only reason he wasn't startled.
Harry was back down within a minute. He crossed over and opened the door.
Draco was quick to follow.
Seeing the next room, Harry was glad Draco was with him.
For all his talents, Harry failed miserably at chess. He never could strategize properly. Draco was better than him by leaps and bounds.
"Your forte, Draco."
The game was intense. Draco was ruthless, but then again so were the white pieces. But the game was over in just over 15 minutes, with the white king dropping his crown at Draco's feet.
They walked over the door, opened it and shut it again. The smell was horrible. And only so many things smelled that bad. One of them was-
"Trolls." They breathed.
"There is a troll inside. What are we going to do? How are we-"
"Draco, Draco, calm down. We have to think of something." Draco was going into full panic mode. Harry thought, he remembered reading about trolls.
They were incredibly stupid but easily angered. They also loved raw human flesh. If it was distracted enough, it would let them go past it. Harry levitated one of the chess pieces to him and started on basic transfiguration, making it look human complete with hair and few facial features. He animated the chess piece and sent it in the next room. Sure enough, they heard ripping. They tiptoed in the room and saw that the troll was distracted enough and raced their way towards the end of the room to the other door, opened it quickly and shut it tight when they slipped into the next one.
As soon as they did that though, a fire consumed it as it did their way forward. Looking around, they found a cabinet with potions and a parchment.
Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
One among us seven will let you move ahead,
Another will transport the drinker back instead,
Two among our number hold only nettle-wine,
Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line
Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore
To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
You will always find some on nettle wine's left side
Second, different are those who stand at either end
But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
Third as you see clearly, all are different size
Neither dwarf nor giant hold death in their insides;
Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.
Harry shook his head. Anyone who knew Severus or had half a brain would not be confused. At all. It was very easy. The smallest bottle will help him go forward. The round bottle at the end of the line at the right side would take him back. If he was correct, the bottles would have a refilling charm on them. He guessed it, since there was only enough for one person.
"I'll take the smallest one, it'll take me forward. Hopefully, it will refill. But if it does not, take the potion from the round bottle it is supposed to take you back."
"But… the troll?"
"Ah, so, I suppose you'll have to wait for me then."
"Okay, be careful."
"Draco-… don't worry. I will be."
He went in, expecting something challenging, wand drawn…
… It was a mirror.
A bloody mirror. How anticlimactic!
Harry moved forward but did not lower his defences. It was Dumbledore after all. He had more tricks up his sleeve than a muggle magician.
When Harry reached the mirror, when he first looked into it, he saw himself. But older. He was sitting next to his Father in a similar throne with Death Eaters kneeling at his feet.
'Does it show future?'
He wondered for a moment when he saw the inscription-
Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi
I show not your face but your heart's desire.
Harry was intrigued, this was the mirror of Erised. His father had searched for it, but never found one. And Dumbledore just had one lying around in a school full of children? There must be a reason. Was the stone in the mirror?
"Is that a mirror?" So, the bottles did refill.
"Yes. But it is the mirror of Erised."
"Is it really? They are really rare."
"I know. Now let me concentrate."
He looked again and concentrated on getting the stone for his Father. His reflection in the mirror winked at him and put a blood red stone in his pocket. Harry felt a weight in his pocket and realised he had the stone. What was the test?
Devil's Snare was Sprout's
Keys must have been charmed by Flitwick
Chess was transfigured by McGonagall
Troll… must have been Quirell. Hard to imagine that one.
Potions were Severus'. Obviously.
So, this… this was Dumbledore's… and that was it? A mirror? Harry shrugged. Not like he cared, he cared about getting the stone which he did get.
"What did you get? What was the task?"
"The task was getting this." Harry held up the stone.
"What is it?"
"The Philosopher's stone." Draco gasped.
"What the bloody hell is it doing in a school full of children? This can attract a lot of unwanted attention."
"I think that is exactly what Dumbledore wanted. I think he wanted to lure Father out using this. But let us talk about this later. Come on."
Harry went back to the potions room, followed by Draco.
"Here's what we will do. I'll go first, you follow me and use the conjunctivitis curse on it as its eyes are a weakness, okay?"
Harry gulped the potion from the round bottle and went through the purple fire.
Knowing he had only one chance, he quickly aimed his wand to the troll's eyes and shouted the curse. He heard Draco do it too, after coming through the fire. Both spells hit its mark and the troll howled with pain. Ignoring it, Harry and Draco carried on.
"Will we have to play our way back again?" Draco asked.
It seemed not when they moved forward but the chess pieces did not block them. Similarly, they went through the keys room. But came at a halt at the devil's snare. Draco had no idea how they would climb back up. But Harry did.
"Draco, hold on tight to me."
And he took off. Twisting a little, showing off that he could fly without a broom. When they came up from the trapdoor, the were relived to find the harp still playing. But still, without preamble, they went out the corridor, disillusioned, of course. They quickly went back to their dorms, where Harry put the stone in his trunk and put a parsel password. Assuring no one except his father and him could open it. They quickly shed their dressing-gowns and slid under their covers.
"That was awesome, Harry." Harry did not know what part Draco was referring to. But he said-
"I know." And they both drifted off to sleep, Harry thinking how the stone would a great Christmas present for his Father.
This is an early Yule present for you. Hope you like it.
This is wonderful. I knew you would not fail me. Happy Christmas. This package contains your present. You will find it useful.
Take care. I will see you in summer.
Anyone else seeing those letters would see Harry informing his caretaker how he won't be coming for summer either and the caretaker telling him how glad he was.
Harry's present included a rare book on parsel magic. Dark magic so advance that a person would be in Azkaban for thinking about it. The Dark Lord was going to start Harry's advance combat training in summer. Hence, the book. Harry was supposed to read it before summer. Harry was certainly glad. It would stave of some boredom he was suffering from.
Sometime in March
After he had stolen the stone, he had felt some tension running in the staff. Dumbledore looked both upset, desperate and a little mad- someone stole the stone under his nose after all. They must be really anxious about the stone thief. Harry mentally shrugged. It wasn't his concern.
He was walking towards Great Hall when he heard some noises-
"…know-it-all. Think you are so much better." It was Weasley. There was only one person he would call that. The Mudblood. Harry wanted to interfere. He didn't know why. He shouldn't care. He remembered what had happened the last time and forced himself to keep walking. The entire day he could think of nothing else. It disgusted him.
"Harry? Are you alright?" Draco was waving a hand in front of his face.
"Yes, yes, I am. Just thinking." Draco didn't look convinced but let it slide. Exams were soon approaching and they needed to revise. That is what the First Years were doing and so each of them went back to it, having looked up when Draco asked Harry.
Harry snorted at that. "Really, Draco? That was challenging for you?"
"No, but it was still so boring." Thus came back the whiny, spoilt Draco.
"Alright, if you say so."
But even Harry was glad the exams were over. He had noticed, as time passed, Dumbledore get even more desperate. It made him feel giddy that he was the one to do it. Dumbledore still hadn't found out. It was just wonderful.
They were sitting by the lake, when Harry saw her. He was still disgusted how much it bothered him when someone bothered her. So, he decided to take off some of his frustration.
"Look Draco. It's the Gryffindor mudblood. I'm bored. So watch."
He stood up and purposefully walked towards her. She had her head in her paper, muttering to herself and so didn't see when Harry walked into he, sending her and he books sprawling to the ground.
"Watch where you are going, mudblood." Her eyes flashed at that. Probably going to start a rant about the injustice. Ha! If only she knew. He was surprised when she just ignored him and started collecting her books. But he was not disappointed.
"You know, there are basic manners to help someone when you walk into them."
"Why in the world would you think I would help you? I don't want to get my hands dirty now, do I?" Here, her gaze faltered, her lip trembled and her eyes filled with water. But she just determinedly picked her books and raced away.
Harry, at that time, was filled with some twisted satisfaction and he felt much better. When he went back to his friends they were looking at him in shock, all except Draco, who knew how cruel Harry could get.
"You are going to fit in right with us." Theo clapped him on the back as they made place for him to sit.
Oh, they had no idea how wrong they were. Later on, they would have to fit in, according to his wishes.
Thank you for reading. I know Harry comes out a little too cruel at the end, but he did grow up with Voldemort.
Please review to let me know how it was. And what I should do to improve