Chapter 1: The beginning of the End
Harry stepped through the fire after swallowing the potion. Oh yes, using those fools to get through the stupid safeguards Dumbledore erected was a splendid idea. Why giving oneself the trouble when there are others you can use and sacrifice once their usefulness ended?
It was bad enough that he had to ensure that the hat sorted him into Gryffindor and not Slytherin where he really belonged. At that time, he had argued with that damned thing for over five minutes but it had been worth it in the end. Who would suspect him to be as far from the `Golden Boy´ Dumbledore wanted him to be as he possibly could when being sorted into the house of the brave foolish idiots and acting like that manipulative fool expected? Running after that stupid stone like a good dog was the best example for his acting but he hoped that he could use that to his advantage.
Oh would Dumbledore know the real Harry Potter he would be shocked to the core. The Dursleys made sure of that. No regards for the life of others, who learns that when being beaten regularly? No sense of what was right or wrong, well the only thing he learned that was bad was magic, and a master in adapting as to not being suspicious of anything. Yes, abuse rarely lead to something good at least it did not in his case.
He knew exactly what Dumbledore wanted. He wanted a nice little weapon that only asked upon the order to jump “how high” and “in which direction”. It was so obvious that one could laugh about it.
Who in Merlin’s name sends this giant oaf Hagrid to pick up a boy that has no bloody idea about the magical world? However, as if that wasn’t enough said oaf praised Gryffindor and especially Dumbledore as if he was Merlin reincarnated and to top this off he talked down everything Slytherin. Oh, and let us not forget the stone he picked up at Gringotts. That he did not announce it in the Prophet beforehand was everything, front page preferably. He did not doubt that Dumbledore would have done it would it have helped. Subtlety at its finest.
Nevertheless, if you thought that Hagrid was the epitome of subtlety you never met the Weasleys – fortunate for you. Shouting across the entire train station – the muggle part mind you not the magical one because that would be kind of failing the intention behind it – that they headed to Platform 9 ¾. They obviously never heard of the International Statute of Secrecy, but okay they are only purebloods living in the magical world 24/7 so why would they have heard about it – not to mention that the patriarch worked at the Ministry.
Once he then had his nice little and more importantly empty compartment at the train secured suddenly one of those redheads – Ron – stumbled in claiming that everywhere else was full. Who on earth believes that? A train capable of containing over a thousand students – not to mention that it probably can be expanded by magic – and it is full when there are only somewhere around eight hundred? Sure and he was a girl. After that, his unwelcome fellow passenger continued where that giant had left. Great Gryffindor and bad, bad Slytherin. They really should think about adding some gold to their hair, would be fitting. This only cemented his suspicion that something was amiss.
The final sign that it would be better pretending to be who they expected him to be was when Malfoy showed up – perhaps here adding some green to the hair colour and they both could be the house mascots. Harry did not doubted that Weasley would have ripped him apart should he have gotten the chance. Too bad that Harry could not accept the friendship offer right there and then. Luckily, however that changed a few days later. Weasley as always slept in and so Harry had the opportunity to sneak out of the Gryffindor tower to intercept Malfoy in the dungeons on his way to breakfast. He explained him everything about his reasoning, to say that Malfoy was astonished would have been an understatement. After that, Malfoy helped him wherever he could, subtle though – and yes, he knew the meaning of the word, kind of, well at least he was better than the others were. Their favourite game quickly became how to get as many points deducted from Gryffindor as possible without being suspicious.
The best opportunities they had in the potion classes. Harry loved Snape, his snarky wit…one of a kind. The best lesson was the first one however when Snape started to question him about potions and ingredients. Harry knew the answers very well because Draco supplied him with the books up to fifth year a few days prior and thanks to a minor case of insomnia, he read them all but decided to play stupid.
“Thought you wouldn’t open a book before coming, eh, Potter?” was the reply from Snape after he told him for the third time that he did not know the answer however, what followed the man did not anticipate.
“Surely would have done the trick but even if I did read the first year’s book how would I be supposed to know things we’re actual to learn in our fourth year, huh?” he had replied with a grin.
The glare Snape had shot him afterwards was totally worth the twenty points he lost for this not that he minded it anyway.
In the following lessons, he made it a habit of finding out what happens if you put an ingredient in the potion that did not belong there. Never with his own mind you, he wasn’t suicidal thank you very much, but his classmates found themselves in detention with Snape more often than not, not to mention with blown up cauldrons and a trip to the infirmary. With applied science always came risks, or not?
Then there was the opportunity at the flying lesson. Draco helping him with his mission grabbed Neville’s Remembrall and took off on the broom while the owner was on his way to the infirmary after finding out that flying without a broom is a particularly bad idea. Harry in a marvellous display of Gryffindorish stupidity followed the blond into the air on his own broom. Who cared for this stupid ball? All he had wanted was losing points and how better, than with going against orders? However, what did McGonagall do? She managed to get him on the Quidditch house team. Earning a medal for it would have been the icing on the cake but (un-?)fortunately he was spared it.
The next few weeks he then indulged himself in his little sport while meeting with the snakes as often as possible without rising suspicion, meaning mostly after curfew. He also managed to get into Snape’s good graces even if they continued their animosities in class. The man liked his snarky retorts, who would have thought that?
Time flew by and Halloween approached together with a full-grown mountain troll in the dungeons. Dumbledore in a display of incredible stupidity sent everyone to his or her dorms. One might think that as a headmaster he knows where the dorms of his school are located especially in this case the ones of Slytherin. Nevertheless, what did Mr. Merlin-reincarnated do? He sent the Slytherins into the dungeons right where the troll was said to be waiting. What could one do…Dumbledore’s word is law. Therefore, everyone was on the way to the dorms when someone – namely Ron – mentioned that a certain know-it-all – namely Hermione Granger – currently was hiding in a bathroom not knowing about the troll. Remorse? Unlikely with the animosities between those two but unfortunately for the redhead quite a few students knew that the know-it-all was there because of him. If you insult a person, you should do it out of earshot of said person or others…but hey, we are talking about Ron whose only content between his ears is a vacuum or Quidditch, he was not sure about that one yet.
Okay, back to the troll, here one has to differentiate. Did Harry care that a twelve feet tall mountain troll could kill one of his classmates? Definitely not! Did he care that he might lose a great source of knowledge? Unfortunately, yes! The problem with this situation? How did one as an eleven years old fist year student defeat a mountain troll without the troll killing him in the process? Send in the disposable pawns in first and lookout for an opportunity. Too bad that the professors were busy searching the dungeons – would have been a great opportunity to get rid of one or two.
Here lies the absurdity of the situation. Can someone see it? Yes, right! – Take twenty points for your house…oh wait, neither am I a professor, nor are you a student so never mind. What in the name of Merlin did the troll that was supposed to roam the dungeons do in the second floor girl’s bathroom? How did he even get there in not just five minutes without bumping into hordes of students on their way to their dorms? Through narrow corridors and staircases so twisted that only a child or small adult would have fit through? Certainly not and every other way was full with students.
Leaving this logical error aside Harry found himself in front of a grown mountain troll that was laying waste to the girl’s lavatory and was short before killing his main information source. Sure, the girl was bossy and always rubbed her vast knowledge under your nose but she was useful…for now. Who liked to search a huge library for hours only to find one small piece of information if you could ask her and get more information than you needed in the first place? So rescuing her was mandatory. As a good Slytherin, he sent his pawn – who in this case was Ron since the professors still didn’t figure out that the troll was NOT in the dungeons – in first to distract the troll. Who cares that Weasley might die, there were too many of them anyway. Harry planned that Weasley distracted the troll so that he could get Granger out but unfortunately, it did not go as planned and he ended up on the troll’s back. Luckily, Weasley finally had managed to get a spell right that a four-year old could do – he should really rethink his priorities and practise more – and knocked out the troll for good. Why Hermione did not draw her wand though was everyone’s guess.
The entire ordeal even earned them points instead of resulting in a heavy loss. Seriously, what was wrong with the teachers? Encouraging children to encounter dangerous beasts was the last thing a teacher should do…but hey, he was only a child so what did he know about that matter? Nothing as it seems. However, it appeared that Snape had had a little meeting with a certain three-headed dog.
Oh, this was another proof of Dumbledore’s manipulations and stupidity. Placing the certainly most vicious dog in a school full of children and then announcing at the welcoming feast that the corridor he placed said dog in was out of bounds. He even pointed out that everyone strolling that corridor would meet a painful death. Something as that cries for trouble…telling children not to do something most of the time ends up in exactly the opposite reaction. Here we are back to the encouragement of children to do dangerous things. But hey, who cares? Harry certainly not. He only met the beast because of a stupid stair that thought it funny to change direction just the moment he stepped on it. It looked as if someone wanted him to end up on the third floor where the dog was. Nevertheless, we do not want to be too conspiratorial, do we?
From conspiracy theories, back to hard facts. Time went on leading to the first Quidditch game of the year – Gryffindor vs. Slytherin. Suspiciously, during the game Quirrell decided that it would be a brilliant idea to kill him by cursing his broom. Why in Merlin’s name in the middle of a Quidditch game where everyone and their mother could see it? Why not on some deserted stair where he had no witnesses? Letting him trip over something so that he would fall down and break his neck and no one would be the wiser. However, no it had to be in full view of the entire school.
With the knowledge he had now, Harry seriously questioned whether Voldemort truly was a Slytherin. Subtlety was not his so much was obvious. On the other hand, he knew how to blame someone else so perhaps that equalled the lack of being subtle – you know the thing with not being caught for ones crimes.
Returning to the game his commitment with the troll paid out. Hermione saved him from a premature death despite targeting the wrong teacher. She really thought it was Snape and not Quirrell when she saw him muttering the counter spell – she always prides herself with being all-knowing but that certainly proved that she is not. Harry on the other hand knew who the real culprit was, that was the advantage of knowing the potions master. In the aftermath of the game the oaf Hagrid then dropped some hints about what the three headed dog `Fluffy´ was guarding. Harry certainly would never entrust delicate and secret information to the giant; he was a real blabbermouth. Telling him anything of importance, you would find it in the prophet right the next day.
The next incident then was Christmas when Harry received the invisibility cloak. `Your father left this in my possession before he died´ read the note. Wait, if this has been his father’s it became Harry’s a long time ago, but then why did the one who had it not return it earlier? He has been at Hogwarts for four month now, enough time to return what was his. Harry decided there and then that he would have to contact Gringotts. Who knows what else the old goat had that was rightfully his since he also had his vault key to begin with. A few days later, he asked Draco whether he could send a letter for him without detection. He did not trusted the school owls and Hedwig was far too eye-catching. To say that the response he received was disconcerting would be an understatement. Dumbledore took money from his trust vault. It was not much each time but over the years, it summed up to quite an astonishing amount. Despite that, Dumbledore had several objects that originally were stored in there. Fortunately, he had no means to enter the family vaults because that would be a disaster. Harry had to sort that out over the summer holidays since he could hardly correspond with Gringotts while being in Hogwarts without alerting Dumbledore.
The next weeks and months went by without any further problems. Harry only stumbled across a strange mirror that showed him his parents on one of his strolls through the castle but since he had never been very interested in them, he quickly left it behind. In his opinion, they deserved what they got. He only knew magic for about half a year now but even he learned that there were tons of methods for just fleeing from an enemy and his parents had been Aurors to begin with. Therefore, no love lost there.
Hermione though once again proved her value by finding out what the dog guarded – the Philosopher’s Stone. A stone that could turn metal into pure gold and produced an elixir that made you immortal. Sounded interesting but Harry saw no benefit in looking after it…at least not at that time. Mainly because he was under close scrutiny of Dumbledore and the two who called him their friend. Under the right circumstances on the other hand…who was he to let an opportunity slip?
What changed his mind was what happened a few weeks later. Hagrid suddenly owned a dragon after wishing for one for all his life. Harry did not think that this was a coincident. Especially when Hagrid mentioned under heavy questioning that he told the stranger from whom he got the dragon egg how to bypass Fluffy. That alarmed Harry. Funny that right at the same day when someone tried to get to the stone a certain Headmaster was suspiciously absent. An important owl from the ministry, sure. The man seemingly never left the castle all year but just that one particular day, he did and what was so important that he suddenly rushed out of the school?
Then there was his head of house Gryffindor, saying that `the stone is too well protected´ and `that no one could possibly steal it´. Sure…the stone’s protection was so good that a bunch of first year students was able to get through them, but wait Voldemort wasn’t a first year student so it was safe wasn’t it? Yes, sure and pigs could fly without the aid of magic.
However, he was not able to do anything against it and once again; Harry acted like the `Golden Boy´ he was expected to be going after the stone. Sacrificing one of his pawns in the process, he now entered the chamber where someone stood in front of a huge mirror.
“Ah, Professor Quirrell…or should I say Lord Voldemort?”