Chapter 1: The beginning of the End

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Harry stepped through the fire after swallowing the potion. Oh yes using those fools to get through the stupid safeguards Dumbledore erected had been a splendid idea. Why giving oneself the trouble when there are others you can use and sacrifice once their usefulness ended?

It had been bad enough that he had to ensure that the hat had sorted him into Gryffindor and not Slytherin where he really belonged. 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 had wanted him to be as he possibly could when having been sorted into the house of the brave foolish idiots and acting like that manipulative fool had expected? Running after that stupid stone like a good dog had been the best example for his acting but he had hoped that he could use that to his advantage.

Oh would Dumbledore have known the real Harry Potter he would have been shocked to the core. The Dursleys had made sure of that. No regards for the life of others, who learns that when having been beaten regularly? No sense of what was right or wrong, well the only thing he had learned that was bad is magic, and a master in adapting as to not being suspicious of anything. Yes abuse rarely lead to something good at least it had not in his case.

He had known exactly what Dumbledore had wanted. He had wanted a nice little weapon that only asked upon the order to jump “how high” and “in which direction”. It had been 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 had no idea about the magical world? However, had that not been enough said oaf had praised Gryffindor and especially Dumbledore as if he was Merlin reincarnated and to top this off he had talked down everything Slytherin. Oh and let us not forget the stone he had picked up at Gringotts. That he had not announced it in the Prophet beforehand had been everything, front page preferably. He had not doubted that Dumbledore would have done it would it have helped. Subtlety at its finest.

Nevertheless, if you thought that Hagrid had been the epitome of subtlety you never have met the Weasleys. Having shouted across the entire train station, the muggle part mind you not the magical one because that would have been kind of failing the intention behind it, that they have been heading to Platform 9 ¾. They obviously never have 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, had stumbled in claiming that everywhere else had been full. Who on earth believed that? A train capable of containing over one thousand students and it is full when there are only somewhere around eight hundred? Sure and he was a girl. After that, his unwelcome fellow passenger had 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 had only cemented his suspicion that something had been amiss.

The final sign that it would have been better pretending being who they had expected him to be had been when Malfoy had showed up (perhaps here adding some green to the hair colour and they both could be the house mascots). Harry had not doubted that Weasley would have ripped him apart should he have gotten the chance. Too bad that Harry could not have accepted the friendship offer right there and then. Luckily, that had changed a few days later. Weasley as always had slept in and so Harry had had the opportunity to sneak out of the Gryffindor tower to intercept Malfoy in the dungeons on his way to breakfast. He had explained him everything about his reasoning, to say that Malfoy had been astonished would have been an understatement. After that, Malfoy had helped him wherever he could, subtle though (and yes, he knew the meaning of the word, kind of, well at least he had been better than the others had). Their favourite game had been how to get as many points deducted from Gryffindor as possible without being suspicious.

The best opportunities they had had in the potion classes. Harry loved Snape. His snarky wit…one of a kind. The best lesson had been the first one however when Snape had started to question him about potions and ingredients. Harry had known the answers very well because Draco had supplied him with the books up to fifth year a few days prior and thanks to a minor case of insomnia, he had read them all but had decided to play stupid.

“Thought you wouldn’t open a book before coming, eh, Potter?” had been the reply from Snape after he had told him for the third time that he did not know the answer however, what followed the man had not anticipated.

“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 had totally been worth the twenty points he had lost for this not that he had minded it anyway.

In the following lessons, he had 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, he wasn’t suicidal thank you very much but his classmates had 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 there were always risks wasn’t there?

Then there had been the opportunity at the flying lesson. Draco having helped him with his mission had grabbed Neville’s Remembrall and had taken off on the broom while the owner had been on his way to the infirmary after finding out that flying without a broom had been a particularly bad idea. Harry in a marvellous display of Gryffindorish stupidity had followed the blond. Who cared for this stupid ball? All he had wanted was losing points and how better than with going against orders? However, what had McGonagall done? She had 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 had been spared it.

The next few weeks he had indulged himself in his little sport while having met with the snakes as often as possible without having risen suspicion, meaning mostly after curfew. He also had managed to get into Snape’s good graces even if they had continued their animosities in class. The man liked his snarky retorts, who would have thought that?

Time had flown by and Halloween had approached together with a full-grown mountain troll in the dungeons. Dumbledore in a display of incredible stupidity had sent everyone to his or her dorms. One might think that as a headmaster he knows where the dorms of his school were located especially in this case the ones of Slytherin. Nevertheless, what had Mr. Merlin-reincarnated done? Had sent the Slytherins into the dungeons right where the troll had been waiting. What could one do…Dumbledore’s word is law. Therefore, everyone had been on the way to the dorms when someone, namely Ron, had mentioned that a certain know-it-all, namely Hermione Granger, had currently been 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 had known 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 the ears was a vacuum or Quidditch he was not sure about that one yet.

Okay, back to the troll, here one had to differentiate. Had Harry cared that a classmate could have been killed by a twelve feet tall mountain troll? Definitely not. Had he cared that he might have lost 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 first and lookout for an opportunity. Too bad that the professors had been busy searching the dungeons.

Here had lied the absurdity of the situation. Can someone see it? Yes, right. What in the name of Merlin, had the troll that was supposed to roam the dungeons been doing in the second floor girl’s bathroom? How had he gotten there in not even five minutes without having bumped 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 had been full with students.

Leaving this logical error aside Harry had found himself in front of a grown mountain troll that had been laying waste to the girl’s lavatory and had been short before killing his main information source. Sure, the girl was bossy and always rubbed her vast knowledge under your nose but she had been 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 had been mandatory. As a good Slytherin, he had sent his pawn who in this case had been Ron, in first to distract the troll. Who cared that Weasley might have died, there were too many of them anyway. Harry had planned that Weasley distracted the troll so that he could have gotten Granger out but unfortunately, it had not gone as planned and he had ended up on the troll’s back. Luckily, Weasley finally had managed to get a spell right that four years old could do and had knocked out the troll for good. Why Hermione had not drawn her wand though had been everyone’s guess.

The entire ordeal had even earned them points instead of having resulted 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 he was only a child so what did he know about that matter? Nothing as it seemed. However, it appeared that Snape had had a little meeting with a certain three-headed dog.

Oh, this had been another proof of Dumbledore’s manipulations and stupidity. Having placed the certainly most vicious dog in a school full of children and then having announced at the welcoming feast that the corridor he had placed said dog in was out of bounds. He had even pointed out that everyone strolling that corridor would meet a painful death. That had cried for trouble…telling children not to do something most of the time ends in exactly the opposite. Here we were back to the encouragement of children to do dangerous things. But hey who cared? Harry certainly not. He only had met the beast because of a stupid stair that had thought it funny to change direction just the moment he had stepped on it. It had looked as if someone had wanted him to end up on the third floor where the dog had been. Nevertheless, we do not want to be too conspiratorial, do we?

From conspiracy theories, back to facts. Time went on having lead to the first Quidditch game of the year, Gryffindor vs. Slytherin. Suspiciously, during the game Quirrell had tried to kill him by cursing his broom. Why in Merlin’s name in the middle of a Quidditch game where everyone could see it and 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 have been the wiser. Though no it had to be in full view of the entire school.

With the knowledge he had now, Harry 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.

Returning to the game his commitment with the troll had paid out. Hermione had saved him from a premature death despite having targeted the wrong teacher. She thought it had been Snape and not Quirrell when she had seen him muttering the counter spell. Harry on the other hand had known who the real culprit was. That was the advantage of knowing the potions master. In the aftermath of the game the oaf Hagrid then had dropped some hints about what the three headed dog `Fluffy´ had been 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 had been Christmas when Harry had received the invisibility cloak. `Your father left this in my possession before he died´ had read the note. Wait, if this had been his father’s it had become Harry’s a long time ago, but then why had the one who had it not returned it earlier? He had been at Hogwarts for four month now, enough time to return what was his. Harry had decided there and then that he would have to contact Gringotts. Who knows what else the old goat had that had been rightfully his since he also had had his vault key to begin with. A few days later, he had asked Draco whether he could send a letter for him without detection. He had not trusted the school owls and Hedwig was far too eye-catching. To say that the response he had received had been disconcerting would have been an understatement. Dumbledore had taken money from his trust vault over the years. It had not been much each time but over the years, it had 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 have been 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 had gone by without any further problems. Harry had only stumbled across a strange mirror that had shown him his parents on one of his strolls through the castle but since he had not been very interested in them, he quickly had left it behind. In his opinion, they had deserved what they got. He only knew magic for about half a year now but even he had learned that there were tons of methods just fleeing from an enemy and his parents had been Aurors to begin with. Therefore, no love lost there.

Hermione though once again had 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 had seen no benefit in looking after it…at least not at that time. Mainly because he had been 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 had changed his mind was what had happened a few weeks later. Hagrid had suddenly owned a dragon after having wished for one for all his life. Harry had not thought that this was a coincident. Especially when Hagrid had mentioned under heavy questioning that he had told the stranger from whom he had gotten the dragon egg how to bypass Fluffy. That had alarmed Harry. Funny that right at that day when someone tried to get to the stone a certain Headmaster had been suspiciously absent. An important owl from the ministry, sure. The man seemingly had not left the castle all year but just that one particular day, he had and what was so important that he suddenly had rushed out of the school?

Then there had been 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 had been so good that a bunch of first year students had been 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 had not been able to do anything and once again; Harry had acted like the `Golden Boy´ he had been expected to be having gone after the stone. Having sacrificed 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?”

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