The serpent's mates

The six obstacles to the stone

Trigger warnings for violence, killing, potential PTSD and bigotry.

The serpent's mates

Chapter three

The six obstacles to the stone

When all five Slytherins, Hermione Granger, Pansy Parkinson, Astoria and Daphne Greengrass and Millicent Bulstrode rushed to the hall where Fluffy and the trapdoor were hidden, Hermione got the door open with her wand, they cautiously came in, expecting three snarling heads of a huge dog, but instead, got a surprise.

The three-headed dog was asleep. All three heads were resting on big paws on top of the wooden trapdoor.

Harp music flew through the air, filling all of the girls' ears.

They entered the room and closed the door behind them, staring at the big harp playing.

"Snape must have been the one to use that harp," Hermione said, "He must have enchanted it."

The three heads of the dogs snored, their breaths blasting the girls' hair around their heads as they stepped closer to the dog.

Hermione, Pansy, Astoria, Daphne and Millicent kneeled down in front of the dog, pushing the big heads and big paws away from the wooden trapdoor, and grabbed the black, metal handle of the trapdoor and pulled it, yanking the door open.

Down below, it was dark. So dark.

Hermione looked at the others. "Alright," she said, "Are you all sure about this?"

Daphne, Astoria, Millicent and Pansy all nodded.

"You kidding, Hermione?" Daphne said, "I think I'm offended that you still have doubts."

Hermione sighed, nodding, she then froze, frowning. "Hey," she said, suddenly hearing the silence, "Did it suddenly just get quiet? The harp stopped playing."

"But if it did," Pansy said, turning to the three-headed dog, "Then that means…,"

"Crap." Hermione grunted, "Jump inside!"

Astoria and Millicent jumped in first, then Daphne made sure Hermione jumped in next. Then Pansy jumped in and finally Daphne jumped in just when Fluffy began snarling at them.

One of Fluffy's giant heads rammed its way between the frame, head getting stuck as he snarled and barked at them.

The five girls flew down and landed on something. Something soft.

They each grunted as they landed, looking at each other, startled.

"What did we just land on?" Pansy asked, looking around.

To the girls' surprise, they had landed on top of a mass of what looked like…plants?

Suddenly, vines began wrapping around each of them.

"Whoa!" Daphne cried.

"Easy!" Hermione yelled, "It's Devil's Snare. The more we struggle-"

"The faster it'll kill us," Pansy said, as each vine wrapped around their necks.

"What do we do?" Hermione gasped, "We need sunlight, Devil's snare hates sunlight, but-"

"Are you a witch or not?!" Millicent demanded, her arms restrained by Devil's Snare, not allowing her to get to her wand, "Your arms are free, you can use your wand!"

Hermione's eyes widened. Right. She had forgotten. She pulled her wand out and summoned bright light.

"Lumos solem!" She yelled.

Light blasted all around them, and the Devil's Snare reacted instantly. It shriveled and retraced their vines from around all the girls, and the five of them slipped through the patches of vegetation and dropped down onto the floor below them, all of them crying out on impact.

They got up slowly. They each had bruises. Hermione had landed badly on her left hand, Millicent had landed badly on her right leg. Astoria and Pansy were the lucky ones as they had landed on their rears, though it still hurt for them. Daphne had landed on her right side, feeling bruised up. Incredibly bruised up. They got up and helped Millicent hobble across the hall to the next door.

"Do you hear that?" Pansy said, pressing her left ear to the door, hearing the fluttering of wings, "It sounds like wings."

They opened up the door and walked through, closing the door slowly.

There was a broom in front of them, just hovering there in midair.

They looked up. They saw multiple things flying around above them.

Keys. With wings.

"Flying keys?" Astoria asked.

"What is this?" Hermione asked.

"I don't know," Daphne said, and then looked up and saw another door, opposite of the room. She pulled out her wand and headed over to the door.

She pointed the wand at the door's lock and said, "Alohomora!"

Nothing happened.

Daphne turned to the others who all had a, "did you think it would be that easy?" look on their faces.

"Well, it was worth it, wasn't it?" Daphne asked.

Hermione groaned, "What are we going to do? There must be a thousand keys."

"We're probably looking for a small key," Pansy said, "Probably like the lock."

"There!" Daphne said, pointing at a fluttering key that seemed to be the flying equivalent of limping, "The one with the crooked wing!"

"So," Hermione said, "Who's the best at flying here? I know it isn't me."

"I can do it," Astoria said, going to the broom, straddling it, and as soon as she put her hands on the other end of the broom, everything escalated.

The keys all reacted at the same time, flying down, assaulting Astoria, flocking around her.

Daphne gasped, "Astoria!" She tried to run to the twin sister, but Hermione grabbed her arm, stopping her, as Astoria lifted up off the floor and began to fly through the air, chasing after the crooked winged key.

Astoria reached her hand out as she flew after the keys, reaching for the crooked winged key. Eventually, she was able to get her hand on the key and as she swooped around, being chased after still, she yelled, "Catch!"

She threw the key down to Hermione and the others. Daphne jumped up and caught the key that her sister threw down, and turned to the door, stuck the key into the keyhole and turned it.

The door unlocked, they pushed their way through and went in and Astoria swooped around the room again and swooped at the door and flew through it and Daphne closed the door behind them, and the attacking keys rammed into the closed door.

The five girls backed away from the door and they turned away from it, going into a new room. A very dark room. They could make out dark shapes in the room.

They went through, Hermione and Daphne helping Millicent limp across the room. "Is this a graveyard?" Hermione asked.

"I don't think so," Astoria said, stepping closer, noticing a marble floor that was checkered with black and white squares, "I think it might be a chessboard."

The lights in the room suddenly flickered on-lights, being a bunch of torches. And it proved Astoria's suspicion correct. This was a chessboard.

The five of them moved across the board, when the pieces in front of the back pieces suddenly moved, pulling out swords and crossing them, keeping the five girls from passing by.

The girls backed away. "Bloody hell," Pansy said.

Hermione looked at the others. "Are we going to have to play?" She asked, fearing the answer.

Pansy nodded. "I think so," she said.

Hermione shook her head, "No way," she said, "if it's as dangerous as actual wizard chess? Then no way." She turned to where Astoria had tossed the broom that Astoria had used. It was discarded by the opposite door. She said, "Everyone stay here!" She ran back to the opposite door, leaning down and picking up the broom and brought it over to the others and held it out. "We can use this," She said, nodding to the space above all the chess pieces, "We can fly over the pieces, use the accio spell to bring it back and the next person can fly over them and so on."

Astoria, Millicent and Pansy's eyes widened, obviously not having thought of that.

"Good idea!" Daphne said, grinning.

"Alright," Pansy said nervously, "I'll go first."

Pansy got on the broom and flew up, flying at the chess pieces and aiming to fly above them.

The queen, king and the other pieces raised their weapons, but Pansy was too fast, and she flew right over them, going past them and lowered down to the floor behind the chessboard.

Hermione and the others grinned.

"Alright," Hermione said, "Millicent, you should go next. Accio, broom!" She yelled, waving her wand.

The broom disappeared from Pansy's hands and ended up in Hermione's hands. She handed the broom to Millicent. Millicent got on the broom and started flying at the ceiling, to fly over the chess pieces.

Finally, all five of the girls got over the chess pieces and landed and dropped the broom onto the floor. Hermione, naturally was the worst flyer of the group, but she got over the chess pieces, and walked away from the chessboard with the others.

They walked and reached a new room.

There was a huge troll, unconscious, knocked out, up against a wall.

Pansy swallowed. "I'm glad we didn't have to fight that one," she said, "Glad that that one wasn't the one we ran into on Halloween."

Millicent nodded, chuckling, "Yeah."

They stepped over the large feet and then entered a room with a platform with a shelf full of vials.

They paused when they saw the ceiling of the room with the vials.

The ceiling again was high. They could fly over the table easily.

"What's the task here?" Millicent, frowning.

"Good question," Hermione said, stepping forward, allowing Daphne and Pansy to hold the limping girl up and walking forward.

As they got closer into the room, flames suddenly shot out from both sides of the room. One side of the flames black, the other on the other side, purple. The flames reached the ceiling, effectively trapping them inside.

Hermione's eyes widened. Okay, so maybe they wouldn't be able to fly over the table and get to the next room.

"Shit," Pansy said, "we're trapped."

Hermione noticed a scroll on the table, next to the vials. She picked it up and unrolled it, looking at its contents.

She read the riddle.

She read aloud, "Danger lies before you. While safety lies behind. 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 in line."

"Oh, great," Daphne grumbled, staring at the vials.

"So," Pansy said, "If we drink the wrong one, will be sent back to the chessboard, or die, or drink nasty wine."

Hermione kept reading, "Choose, unless you wish to stay here for evermore. 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 onwards, neither is your friend. Third: as you see clearly, all are different size. Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides. Fourth: the second left and the second on the right are twins once you taste them: though different at first sight."

"Great…," Daphne said.

"Okay," Hermione said, trying to ignore the heat from the flames, "I think we see a pattern here. Of what the professors were doing. They all put obstacles in our way. The three-headed dog was Hagrid's. And Professor Sprout must have enchanted the Devil's Snare. Flitwick must have enchanted all the keys."

Daphne nodded, "McGonagall must have enchanted the chess set."

"And here we have Snape's work," Pansy said, glaring hatefully at the vials.

"That leaves Quirrell's obstacle," Astoria said, "Great, so what do we do about this?" she gestured at the vials.

"Let me take care of it," Hermione said, looking down at the scroll again, "Okay, so," she smiled, "This isn't magic, it's logic. Everything we need is here on this paper. One will get us through the black flames. The other through the purple. Give me a minute." She read through the scroll's contents several times. Then she looked over the bottles and finally found the smallest one.

"This one," She said, pointing to the smallest bottle, "This will get us to the next room." She then pointed to the bottle on the furthest right-hand side, "That will get us back to where we came."

"Are you sure?" Daphne said, looking at the vial that Hermione said would move them forward, "There-Hermione, there's not enough for even two of us!"

"I know," Hermione said, nodding, "So, listen to me. You four? You take the vial that will take you back, and go get help. I'll take the potion that will help me go forward. And I'll find the stone, I promise."

Pansy and Daphne's eyes grew huge. Astoria shook her head, "No way! You shouldn't go alone!"

"But there's only enough for one of us," Hermione said, "Whoever drinks it, will be going in against Quirrell and maybe Voldemort too," Hermione ignored her friends' flinching, "-they'll be going in completely alone."

"Then it should be me," Daphne said insistently, "I'm the oldest. I'm not letting you go, Hermione."

Hermione sighed, snatching up the smallest vial. She didn't want to have to put Daphne to this, but, Hermione's life had told her nothing, except that she knew what it took to do the ruthless things to survive-and she didn't want Daphne or any of the others to live with that choice. If it came to killing Snape? Would the others be able to do it? She didn't know. But she didn't want them to have to find out.

She uncorked the bottle, dropping the scroll and brought the vial to her lips, gulping it down in seconds, before Daphne could lunge for her.

"No!" Daphne cried, rushing forward, but it was too late. Hermione had gulped down the liquid, allowing her passage through the flames ahead.

Hermione dropped the empty glass vial, allowing it to fall to the floor and it crashed, breaking into pieces.

"What if He's with Snape?" Millicent asked, whimpering.

Hermione nodded to them, "Then that's an even bigger reason for me to go in. The four of you need to live so that there's resistance against Voldemort."

She smiled as their eyes widened as she said Voldemort's name again, "Now drink that last vial," she pointed to the vial on the right end of the table, "Do it before I go off and possibly meet my death!"

Astoria whimpered and lunged forward, hugging Hermione, surprising the brunette. Daphne lunged forward and hugged her too. Millicent and Pansy came forward, Pansy supporting Millicent as they all hugged Hermione tightly.

They hugged for what felt like forever, then Hermione chuckled against them, trying to fight her tears, "You know, I should probably get moving, before the potion wears off."

She heard small peals of laughter against her, and Daphne nodded against her as she and the others parted from their friend.

"Alright," Millicent said, and Hermione pushed down the painful warmth in her chest when she saw the tears in the large girl's eyes, "But Hermione? Just be careful."

Hermione nodded. "I will be," she promised.

Daphne stepped forward, and picked up the potion on the right end of the table, uncorking it and began taking a small sip from it. She shuddered at the taste, then handed the vial to Astoria, who also took a small sip. The younger Greengrass sister shuddered as well, and handed the vial to Pansy.

When all four other girls had gulped down the contents of the last vial, they dropped it, letting it shatter to pieces, and they turned and walked close to the wall of purple flames, which led back to the way they came.

They looked back, just one last time at Hermione.

She smiled at them reassuringly.

Daphne looked pained and nodded and she turned and walked through the purple fire, and Pansy, Millicent and Astoria followed her out.

Hermione turned to the wall of black flames and sucked in a breath and rushed forward, going through the wall of black fire.

When she was on the other side, she reached stairs and thought to herself, pulling her wand out, at the ready, (I'm coming, Snape.)

She bolted down the stairs, getting ready for the last obstacle, prepared to see anything, and when she reached the bottom of the stairs, there were a lot of things she had been ready to see.

But not what she actually saw.

Her eyes widened when she saw who was standing in the middle of the room. It was not Snape.

It wasn't even Voldemort.

It was Quirrell.

Professor Quirrell stood in front of the mirror of Erised.

This was obviously where they had sent the mirror. But what…what was Quirrell doing here?

Quirrell turned around and faced her, looking as startled to see her as she was to see him.

"Ah," He said, "Ms. Granger. I'll admit, I didn't expect to see you here."

Hermione frowned, alarms suddenly going off. Where was his stutter? Where was his timid voice? Where was his twitching?

Her heart suddenly felt like ice hit it.

Who was it that had alerted the staff and everyone to there being a troll in the dungeon? Who was it that would have the last spell that was required to get to the Sorcerer's Stone? And wouldn't it be convenient if the person actually after the stone, put on a persona of helplessness and of being pathetic?

"YOU let the troll in," Hermione said, eyes wide with realization, "YOU tried to get the stone on Halloween. Snape was stopping you from getting it on Halloween! That's why he got bitten by Fluffy!"

Quirrell chuckled, smirking, "Very good. You really are bright, aren't you, girl? Too bright for your own good. It's really too bad. It wasn't you I was hoping would find me here. But Potter."

Hermione was startled. Quirrell had been expecting Harry Potter? Then again, that made sense. After all, didn't Voldemort feel like he needed to compensate for being made to look like a weakling next to a baby? And didn't he need to get rid of a loose end?

"Where IS Harry Potter right now?" Hermione asked curiously.

Quirrell scoffed, "Well, since he was too stupid to recognize the signs I sent him that I wanted him to reach here for me to finish him off, I presume safe in his room in Gryffindor Tower."

Hermione nodded. She supposed she could be grateful for that. At least he was safe. And at least he wasn't getting in her way.

That was a rather mean thought, but she couldn't help it. From what she had deduced over the year. Harry might have gotten lucky by surviving the death curse, but that was all he was. Lucky. Nothing else.

And stupidly brave, from some of the things she had heard about him and Ron's shenanigans.

But nothing else.

"And you," Hermione said, eyeing Quirrell, "You're the one that's working with Voldemort?"

Quirrell's eyes suddenly narrowed and he snarled, "You DARE speak his name! You don't even get to look at him, you mudblood shit!"

Hermione's jaw tightened, feeling like she had been slapped in the face.

She shouldn't have been surprised, though. After all, if he was working with Voldemort, then he had basically swallowed the Pureblood mania as so many of his followers had.

Quirrell raised his right hand and snapped it and ropes suddenly appeared and wrapped around Hermione, restraining her. Hermione hissed.

"Now, then," Quirrell said, turning to the mirror and inspecting it, "This mirror will help me find the stone." He checked the back of the mirror and walked back to the front. He stared into the mirror.

"I see what I desire. I see the stone," He said, "So, how do I get it to my master?"

Hermione struggled in the ropes as she said, "You're working for him? When did you meet him?"

She knew the answer to the first question, but she needed him distracted, so that she could work on freeing herself.

Quirrell chuckled, "I met him years ago. When I was a young man. When I was foolish and had unintelligible ideas about good or evil. There is no good or evil. There is only power. And those too weak to take it."

Hermione tried not to scoff at his nonsense, and as he talked she used her wand and spoke several different spells, aiming the wand at the ropes around her. Nothing happened. Again, she supposed she shouldn't have been surprised. After all, these spells down here were meant to stop the most powerful people from getting ahold of the stone. No mere first-year witch's spells would be able to free her.

He then eyed the mirror again, "How do I get the stone?"

Hermione struggled in the ropes and managed to fall to the left, but Quirrell didn't look at her.

Hermione then heard a voice, a whispery, almost papery voice.

The voice said, "Use the girl."

Hermione froze. Firstly, who said that? Secondly, what did that voice mean, 'use the girl?'

Suddenly, the ropes were off Hermione and she was free-or as free as she could be when faced with a fanatical bigot working for the most evil wizard in history.

"Come here, Granger," Quirrell ordered, "Look in the mirror and see what you see."

Hermione went over hesitantly, keeping her wand close and looked at the mirror. She had to lie. She knew that.

Whatever she saw? She had to lie.

She saw a frightened girl. That was all. She saw nothing. Then, something strange happened.

The Hermione in the mirror reached into her pocket and pulled out a big, shining scarlet stone. Then the Hermione in the mirror pocketed it again.

Hermione's eyes widened, and she felt something heavy in her right-hand pocket, up against her side. How? How had the stone come to her? She didn't know. But it had.

"Well?" She heard Quirrell ask her.

Her heart jump and she quickly lied, "I'm shaking hands with Dumbledore," she said, "I've won the house cup for Slytherin."

She heard Quirrell spit at her hatefully, "Should have known a mudblood would be useless!"

He pushed her backwards so that he was closer to the mirror.

The voice that had spoken before, spoke again, "She lies!"

Quirrell turned on Hermione, about to threaten her, when the voice talked again.

The voice said next, "Let me speak with her…,"

Quirrell spoke as Hermione tensed up at the random voice, "Master, you're not strong enough!"

"I'm strong enough for this," the voice answered.

Quirrell hesitantly reached up to his turban and slowly unwrapped it.

Hermione frowned, narrowing her eyes. She looked around the room. She saw no one else here except the two of them. So, where had that voice come from?

That answer was given to her a second later.

And it was a horrifying answer.

Hermione froze, blood turning to ice and her mouth dropped when she saw Quirrell turn around, Quirrell's own face, looking into the mirror, his back to Hermione, and there was a face on the back of his head.

A leering face on Quirrell's bald head, snickering at Hermione.

There were slits for nostrils and burning red eyes.

"Young witch," The voice whispered from that terrible mouth, "I'll admit, you were not the one I expected to see here. But no matter. Now, I'm sure you know who I am."

Hermione nodded, swallowing, trying to ignore the icy cold lump of fear in her gut. "Yes," she said, "I know. You're Voldemort."

"Yes," Voldemort chuckled, seeming to halt any anger Quirrell might have over Hermione using his master's name, "I am. You see what I have become? Become a parasite to survive. But there are always those who will let me into their hearts." His grin widened at the glare Hermione threw him. He continued, "I see, you are like me, aren't you? You're a survivor too, aren't you?"

Hermione sneered, "I'm nothing like you!"

Voldemort chuckled again, grinning, "Oh? I recognize the look of you, child. You might not be pureblood, but I suspect any wizard or witch would be foolish to underestimate you. You're a survivor, even if you deny it."

Hermione tried to ignore her growing unease. He couldn't know about what her life had been like. He couldn't know about Cromwell or her mother.

Shen then remembered something terrifying.

Voldemort had been a master Legilimency user.

He could enter peoples' minds and read their minds in seconds, without barely any effort.

Hermione quickly mentally erected a brick wall at the front of her mind, hoping that that would help, though she doubted it.

"Now, then," Voldemort said, "Why don't you give me the stone that's in your right-hand pocket?"

Hermione's eyes widened. Again, had he read her mind? She didn't know.

She really hoped he hadn't, but…

"No, way!" She snapped, gripping her wand tightly.

Voldemort still grinned at her. "Ah," he said, "Bravery. An admirable trait. But it will not help you for long. It's a fool's virtue. So many have shown their bravery to me, and it didn't matter at the end of it. I killed them. They were all too weak to join me. Courage takes people only so far. Surely you know this. After all, that's not a Gryffindor badge I see on your robes."

Hermione tensed. Her being Slytherin had nothing to do with it.

Voldemort then said, "I was in Slytherin too, you know. I'm sure you've seen signs of my old life before when I at one time lived here as a student. A time before my great power. You could have that power too, child. Being Slytherin, you should know that Dumbledore's delusions of good are lies. Dumbledore speaks with great intentions, but he is a fool. A hypocrite. You may be of muggle birth and blood, but if you were able to get here, you have great potential. Do not squander that potential. Join me."

"Never!" Hermione cried.

Finally, Voldemort lost his grin.

"Kill her!" He commanded Quirrell.

Quirrell walked backwards and Hermione gasped, raising her wand and aiming it at Quirrell.

She knew the words. She knew the words she had to say-had to.

She had read up on all kinds of advanced spells. So, she knew what spell was needed to kill someone.

But oh, she didn't want to.

"Please don't make me do this," she pleaded weakly.

She had pleaded, but Quirrell did not desist. When Quirrell was close, she unfortunately knew she had no choice.

"Avada Kedavra!" She yelled out, green firing out of the end of the wand.

The green blast shot out and hit Quirrell. Quirrell stiffened up and screamed, and slowly he collapsed.

Hermione whimpered, watching as Quirrell died in front of her.

And Voldemort?

She watched as a humanoid shape rose up from the dead body of Quirrell, and hovered above the corpse, and Hermione's heart stopped when she realized she was looking at Voldemort's essence leaving Quirrell.

He snarled at her and launched at her. Hermione tensed up, crying out and Voldemort blasted through her body, leaving the room and flying out of the room.

Before he disappeared out of the room, Hermione heard the chilling words that Voldemort said. He said, "We will see each other again, child."

Hermione turned, watching his essence disappear from the room.

She gasped, slowly turning and staring down at the dead body of the former professor.

She felt her eyes begin to sting again. She had just used the killing curse. She had just killed someone. It had been self-defense.

But still, she had killed someone.

She felt her throat go dry. How was she going to live with this? How was she going to tell her mother what she had done?

She stayed there, staring at the body. It was possible she could go back through the fire-and that the potion she had drunk could still work, but she wasn't going to try it. She stared at the body. She deserved to stay here, with her guilt.

Eventually, Dumbledore arrived and retrieved her from the room with the mirror. Daphne and Pansy were with him. As soon as they saw that Hermione was safe, they ran to her and hugged her tightly.

Hermione shook against them, fighting more tears.

She was brought to the hospital area and looked at. Her wrist was taken care of, as was Millicent's leg.

Everyone was talking.

Everyone knew what Hermione and the other girls had done.

So many Slytherins who were arrogant and were bigoted, stared at Hermione now with both respect, admiration and reverence. It was a lot for Hermione to deal with.

And Gryffindors and the other houses who saw Slytherin as a lowly house, stared at Hermione with shock and reverence.

Hermione didn't give the stone to Dumbledore. She kept it hidden in her pocket.

She didn't trust Voldemort, no. But she didn't trust Dumbledore, either.

She told Dumbledore that she didn't know where the stone was, and from what she could tell, he believed her.

It was the end of the year, and Hermione, Millicent, Pansy, Astoria and Daphne sat together at the feast for the end of the year. Hermione kept the Sorcerer's Stone close to her, stuffed in her pocket, along with her wand.

Hermione hadn't noticed how Malfoy was looking at her. The fear in his eyes, knowing what he knew now, that she had killed the body that Voldemort had been using-had essentially defeated Voldemort.

Hermione wasn't going to pretend that she didn't enjoy his fear.

She did.

What was interesting were Harry Potter and Weasley's reactions to her.

Weasley had kept going on and on around school about how it was mad that "Granger stopped Voldemort, and that she probably killed him to take the stone for herself." Hermione wasn't sure he was wrong. Because she wasn't going to tell anyone that she had the stone.

Potter looked at her with interest, respect, but also suspicion now.

It was time for the house cup to be announced.

Dumbledore stood up and said, "Given the current events, and that Slytherin already has the highest points of all the houses, the placement of the house cup should not be a surprise. But more points should be given. To all three Pansy Parkinson, Daphne Greengrass and Millicent Bulstrode, I award you fifty points for your bravery, for the risks you took to stop a great threat to the school."

Millicent, Pansy and Daphne both gaped, staring at the headmaster.

The whole Slytherin table roared with cheers and joy. Hermione grinned at her friends.

"And secondly!" Dumbledore said, "To Astoria Greengrass!" Astoria's eyes widened, listening as Dumbledore continued, "For skills in flying and getting what was needed to help your friends find the stone, thirty points!"

Daphne smiled at her sister, patting the younger girl's back.

"And finally!" Dumbledore said, "To Ms. Hermione Granger, for strong will, keeping a cool head, and brilliance, and doing what was needed for the witch and wizarding world, I appoint you eighty points."

Hermione's mouth dropped. That was what she got? For killing someone?

It was a bastard working for Voldemort, sure. But still…she had killed someone. She was a murderer.

The table around her cheered, and the flags above them all changed from the multi-designed Hogwarts flags, to the Slytherin flags.

Green flags with silver snakes on them hovered above all the tables as all the Slytherins shouted and cheered at their accomplishments.

Daphne grinned at Hermione and Hermione smiled back, hiding her unease. She had used an unforgivable curse. She had killed someone. And she was willingly withholding the Sorcerer's stone from everyone.

As she plastered a grin across her face and everyone at the table cheered, she felt the uneasy dread grow in her chest.

Later on, that day, when they were walking back to the trains with their luggage, Pansy whispered to her friends and pointed to people by the stairs of the train station. Dumbledore was standing there, talking with someone dressed in a black suit. It was an elderly looking man, but sturdy looking.

The man looked at them and started coming over to them.

"Who is that?" Hermione asked, frowning.

"That's Cornelius Fudge," Daphne said, sounding distrusting, "The Minister of the Ministry of Magic."

Hermione paused.

Cornelius Fudge stood in front of her, looking at her. "Hermione Granger," he said, "It's an honor to meet you, preventing Quirinus Quirrell from getting the Sorcerer's Stone." He offered his hand.

Hermione cautiously took it and allowed him to shake her hand.

"Thank you, sir," she said, then pulled her hand away, "You know that you're going to have to be careful now. Voldemort's out there again."

As soon as she said that, she knew she had made a mistake. Fudge froze up, looking pale. Hermione thought that it was because she had said Voldemort's name, but it wasn't that. Or at least, not just that. "That," he said weakly, "Is a misconception. He's gone. He will never come back. He's dead."

Hermione looked past Fudge to see Dumbledore. Dumbledore gave Hermione a sad look that said, "He's not willing to see the truth. He won't accept that Voldemort was a part of what happened."

Hermione tried not to snort. She looked at Fudge. "You know how I stopped Quirrell, don't you?"

Fudge nodded stiffly. "I do," he said, "The killing curse. And normally, that would be punishable. But given the circumstances? I will not have you brought into the Ministry."

"Well, that's good to hear," Hermione said, more relieved than she could say.

Fudge smiled. "You've done the witch and wizarding world a great service, Ms. Granger," he said, "I want you to remember that."

Hermione nodded. "Thank you sir," she said smiling, hiding her unease that she had over still having the Sorcerer's stone one her person.

Fudge nodded to her nodded to the other girls and walked away.

Hermione grumbled to the girls when he was out of earshot, "Alright, can we get out of here, please."

Pansy chuckled, smirking, "What's the matter, Granger? Don't like the attention?"

"Not if it's because of me killing someone," Hermione answered.

"It's alright, Mione," Daphne said, using the nickname that Daphne and the others occasionally used for her, "You had to. He was trying to kill you. And who knows how many people would have died if he had gotten the stone. Wherever that is now."

Hermione sighed as she walked with the others to the train. "I know," she said, getting onto the train after Millicent and Astoria, "But it still hurts to think about. I hope I don't have to do it again."

Hermione, Crookshanks, Pansy, Astoria, Daphne, Millicent and their respective familiars got onboard the train and as the train drove off, Hermione eyed Dumbledore on the train platform, till he was out of sight.

She had kept the Sorcerer's Stone or the Philosopher's Stone or whatever from him for a reason. Because she couldn't risk someone as manipulative as him getting his hands on the stone. She didn't know what he would want with it, but she didn't want to risk him grabbing the stone any more than she did Voldemort or Quirrell.

She turned to look at Millicent, listening to what she said, or half listening to what she said.

But silently, she was wondering what to do about the stone.

Should she try to find a way of destroying it? Or let her mother look at it to study it. To see if it could be used for good?

She didn't know.

Either way, it was in her custody now.

She also knew one thing. After this? If she wasn't on Voldemort's radar before, she certainly was now.

Author's note:

And so, ends Hermione's first year. And really, does anyone actually believe that Dumbledore doesn't know that Hermione has the stone? He knows. But he's playing his own game.