Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, is a young and abused Black boy with Asperger's syndrome, and is hated by his guardians, the Dursleys. A little over a week before his birthday, he discovers that he is also a wizard, and the Dursleys knew all along. Not only is he a wizard, but he's also famous in the wizarding world! An AU fanfic.
"Harry Potter and the Trouble With Neurotypicals"
By = Fayanora
Chapter 8: Fighting Voldemort
Note: Not mine. Fanfiction. No money made. Please do not sue.
Note two: My computer ate my first attempt at this chapter. Four or five hours of hard work, with me fully In The Zone, just lost to the aether. So I took that as a sign to go another way with it.
Despite the recklessness that his invisibility cloak seemed to inspire in him, and despite how well the Norbert mission went, Harry had second thoughts about going out again after Hagrid. The unicorn thing didn't really seem relevant to the Stone. Sure, it was a little coincidental, but it didn't seem relevant. So he was leaning very hard towards keeping his promise to Hermione.
However, he did talk about it with Antigone, Angela, and Danzia later, when they were working on helping Harry study for the end of year tests. He didn't think much of the conversation, as his mind was not really there, so he didn't notice his three Slytherin friends taking the mystery more seriously than he did.
Later, in their common room with privacy spells up so they could talk safely, the three Slytherin girls discussed the unicorn problem.
"Harry doesn't think it's relevant, of course, but that's a bit of a coincidence," said Antigone. "Unicorn blood has regenerative powers, I've read. Not many would want to risk it, since there's a curse that goes with it, but that's not far removed from the Philosopher's Stone in function."
"Do you think it might be You-Know-Who?"
"That's kind of a leap, Danzia. What makes you think that?"
"Well, his body was never found. Maybe he's really weak, maybe he's dying. Not sure how he's kept alive all these years if I'm right, but what if he's here now, using the unicorn blood until he gets what he really wants?"
She pondered her own words for a moment. "One conversation I had with Harry once, he said Hagrid figures Voldy-whatsit never died, just got really weak. Ever since I heard that, I kind of, well... I've been scared, since then, that he'd come back."
The others stared blankly, so she continued. "And now this whole Stone thing crops up. It's been safe for centuries, hasn't it? And now all of a sudden somebody is trying to steal it? You-Know-Who may be weak, but he's still going to be very knowledgeable. And Quirrell has been a bit stranger than he used to be, since he came back from his trip to wherever he went."
"Do you think he brought You-Know-Who back with him?"
"Let's just say it's something I've worried about recently. And now this whole unicorn thing... the man is a seriously dark wizard, he's probably not going to care about killing unicorns and drinking their blood, curse or no curse."
"I still think you guys are reaching. But, well... if there's any chance at all of a connection, maybe we should check it out."
The next night Antigone, Angela, and Danzia Disillusioned themselves and snuck out of the castle into the darkness towards Hagrid's hut. Luckily, he was there, crossbow in hand, so they followed him, silencing themselves as they went so Hagrid wouldn't hear them. It was difficult, not being able to see where they were going, since the moonlight was mostly obscured by the thick forest top-growth, but they managed. Fang, Hagrid's dog, kept looking back at them, and they silently berated themselves for not thinking about the dog.
They'd been out there for who knew how long before Hagrid stopped dead. They just narrowly avoided running into him, but somebody behind them ran into them, and they screamed. Hagrid spun around, aiming his crossbow in their direction. They ran, not having time to undo the spell.
"Harry, what're yeh doin out here?" Hagrid boomed, stopping them. They turned around, and sure enough there was Harry, his cloak falling off of him. He hemmed and hawed, then finally confessed that he had decided to see if the unicorn thing was relevant.
Antigone put a silencing ward up quickly. "Wish he'd told us he was going to go anyway."
"Was that you I ran into, Hagrid?"
"What? No, yeh didn' run inter me, Harry. Was that you screamin?"
"No. Sounded like some girls."
"Does that mean someone else is out here? Yeh don't think they have summat to do with this, do yeh?"
Antigone pulled her friends forward, undoing the Disillusionments. Hagrid and Harry both jumped.
Hagrid's eyes narrowed. "Bunch o' Slytherins out in the forest at night? What're yeh doin out here? You the ones killin the unicorns?"
"Relax, Hagrid, it's my friends. Remember? Antigone, Angela, and Danzia."
Hagrid squinted more, and Harry turned his wandlight on them. "Oh yeah," Hagrid said. "Hi there, Antigone. Blimey, I feel right foolish. Ain't seen you two yet, but Antigone an I go back a couple years. Anyway, you lot still ain't supposed to be out here. But it'd take too long ter get back now. Might as well come with me. I can keep yeh safe."
They did as he commanded, and helped him look. He showed them the unicorn blood, a bit like sticky mercury, but lighter, and they followed the path of the dying unicorn.
However, at one point the remaining unicorns stampeded between the kids and Hagrid, and they got so lost in the mass of panicking animals that they couldn't find Hagrid again. Not thinking terribly straight, Harry and his friends wandered off looking for the path of the wounded unicorn again, in hopes Hagrid would find them that way.
What they saw at the end of the path, however, made them go stock still. There was the unicorn, dead; something horrible, like a living cloak, bent over the unicorn, drinking its blood. The thing then looked up at them. Harry's scar began to burn like a red-hot poker was being held to it, and a headache unlike any other made him fall over in a daze.
"Harry, get up! That thing is coming this way!"
They were still struggling to get Harry back up when something jumped over the three of them; it was a beautiful albino centaur, nearly as white as the unicorn. The centaur reared, and the slithering cloak creature fled.
With the danger passed, the centaur approached them. "Harry Potter, you and your friends should not be out here. It is especially dangerous for you, Mister Potter."
"Thank you for saving me..." he trailed off, not knowing their savior's name.
"My name is Firenze. Come, you three; climb on my back. I will take you to safety."
The three of them climbed on Firenze's back and he trotted off.
"What was that thing you saved me from?"
Firenze opened his mouth to speak, but Danzia beat him to it. "Voldemort! That was Voldemort!"
"Wow," said Harry. "You said his name. I thought I was the only one who did that."
"Well, normally I don't, but I didn't want there to be any doubt."
As they rode to safety, Danzia explained why she thought it was Voldemort, and Firenze nodded.
"By the way," asked Antigone when Danzia had finished. "What pronouns should I use for you, Firenze?"
"Wow. Thank you very much for asking, instead of assuming. My people are almost always misgendered as male, given our anatomy and human assumptions. Especially vexing, as we do not understand this concept of 'gender.' It does not apply to us anyway; it is not possible to tell from looking at us which of us can bear foals."
"Oh. Really? So how do you... if it's not too personal a question... um..."
"That," Firenze explained, "is indeed personal. It is of nobody's concern unless two or more of us wish to produce foals. Those of us who can bear foals know who we are."
"Sorry," she said, embarrassed. "If it helps make up for it at all, I, uh... I rejected the gender assigned me at birth. With the aid of magic, I have come to fit my preferred gender."
"That was not necessary, but I appreciate the gesture all the same."
"So what pronouns should I use?"
"Use the feminine pronouns for me today, if you would. If we meet again, it may change."
Two more centaurs appeared in the forest ahead of them, looking angry. One had a chestnut body below the waist, the skin tone above the waist matching the fur perfectly. Though the beard and the hair atop the head were bright red. The other one was practically coal black all the way through, though that one's head hair and beard were even darker. The two centaurs were in such a temper over Firenze carrying them on her back that they didn't attempt to find out pronouns. They just quietly slipped off and watched the row.
Luckily, Hagrid showed up then. "Gallopin gargoyles, there yeh are. Come on, back to the castle with yeh. Get invisible, too. Sorry for the problem, Bane, Ronan, and Firenze. We'll be going."
"Yes," said Ronan. "Human foals should stay in the castle where they belong."
As they got out of range of the centaurs, Hagrid said, "Don't worry yerselves none about the centaurs; they'd never hurt foals--I mean kids."
"Hagrid, the unicorn is dead. Something was drinking its blood."
"It was You-Know-Who," exclaimed Danzia. “He's still alive, after a fashion. Barely alive, but still alive."
Hagrid turned white. "Well I hope this'll be a lesson to yeh, not to go out at night. Come on, we're almost there."
Under his cloak, Harry made it back to his dormitory. The girls, under their Disillusionment Charms, made it safely to theirs, too.
The next day, the six friends got together so Harry and the three Slytherin girls could relate the previous night's events to Ron and Hermione. Those who had seen Voldemort were terrified, trying to argue to the others that something needed to be done post-haste. Finally, they agreed that telling anyone yet was premature; Fluffy was still where he was supposed to be, awake and guarding his trapdoor (Harry had checked on his way back the night before).
With the stress of Voldemort possibly returning, Harry and the three Slytherin girls had a hard time focusing on the end-of-year tests. All that got them through it was checking every now and then on Fluffy. Quirrell and Snape remained unchanged, too, which helped.
Only after the last test was over did something finally clunk into place for Harry. In a hurry, he ran to Hagrid's, dragging Ron, Hermione, and Antigone behind him.
"What's the matter, Harry?"
"I just realized something. Who carries dragon eggs around with them if they're illegal? Isn't it odd that Hagrid's dream was to have a dragon, and a stranger comes by who just happens to have an egg?"
"Shit," said Antigone. "Now you mention that, it is pretty odd."
"Hagrid," Harry said, having nearly run into him right outside the hut's door, "the stranger who gave you the dragon egg, what did he look like?"
"No idea. Kept his hood up. Well," he said when they looked flabbergasted, "it's not unusual in The Hog's Head. Bit of a fashion, really."
They gently interrogated him some more, and it turned out that the stranger had gotten Hagrid drunk and coaxed the secret to getting past Fluffy out of him; play Fluffy music, and he goes right to sleep. As Hagrid was berating himself for telling them that, they were running off back toward the school.
"Harry, Harry, wait," Antigone begged. "Slow down!"
"I can't, Voldemo--"
"Listen, Harry, think about it, how long ago did Hagrid get Norbert? Weeks ago, right? So in all that time, the stone's still been safe."
"Well yeah," Danzia said. "But Dumbledore's been here this whole time. Knowing how to get past Fluffy is easy compared to how to get past Dumbledore, and You-Know-Who feared Dumbledore, even when he was fully powered."
"So you reckon that stone's still safe?" Ron asked. "You don't think he could have taken it out from under Dumbledore's nose?"
"No. Dumbledore always seems to know what's going on. There've been little clues in the last few years, that he knows pretty much everything going on in the school."
"Might have something to do with not needing a cloak to be invisible."
"Yeah, I guess that would tend to help. That and an air of mystery. Anyway, we should talk to him, tell him what we know."
They tried to tell Dumbledore, but McGonagall waylaid them, and they found out that Dumbledore had been called away on Ministry business. This panicked them into revealing what they knew, which shocked McGonagall. She assurred them the stone was safe, and told them to go outside.
Of course, they didn't. They tried going to the third floor corridor, but McGonagall had headed them off, and threatened them with detention if they came back, so they left for the MAC classroom, where they agreed they had to meet later, after everyone had gone to bed; McGonagall wasn't going to stop guarding that corridor until all students were in bed.
That night, they set out very carefully, and met at Fluffy's door.
"Oh, you have a flute!" Angela quietly exclaimed. "I can play that."
With Angela playing the flute, the rest of them moved Fluffy's massive paw from the trapdoor and opened it. One by one they jumped down into the unknown, followed at last by Angela.
They landed on something soft, something that began to try to strangle them at once. "Devil's Snare!" Hermione and Antigone exclaimed at once. "I'll start a fire," said Antigone.
"But there isn't any wood!"
Antigone cast fire before anyone could respond to that, and the plant let them slip onto the stone floor underneath.
"No wood?" teased Ron. "Honestly..."
From there, they went into a new room, filled with hundreds of glittery birds. They walked to the other door and tried it, but it was locked. Alohamora didn't work on it, and neither did a Reductor curse from Antigone.
"You're not the only one ahead of your years, Harry, Hermione," she said. "Pity it didn't work."
"Hey you lot," Ron called. "I found six brooms. Dunno why."
Harry squinted at the 'birds.' "Because those aren't birds, they're keys."
"Oh. Well in that case, we'll need a rusty, old fashioned key, like the handle."
"There!" Harry pointed.
"Harry, you have some really keen eyesight for someone who needs glasses."
They all climbed on the brooms, and spent several minutes trying to corner the key. Only the fact that it was wounded let them catch up to it in the end, wounding it more by pinning it to the wall. Then they flew back down and unlocked the door, tossing the key back as they left.
"That must have been Flitwick's," Danzia said. "First was Sprout's, of course. Unless Fluffy was the first? Anyway... what's this now?"
It was a giant chess set, with human-sized chess pieces made of stone, transfigured to be alive. They stood there, looking bored, until the six kids came in, at which point the pieces looked at them with interest.
"Oh shit," Ron said. "Yeah, I can do wizard's chess, but there's six of us. Dunno if I can protect all of you from harm. No idea how these guys will treat us."
Angela sighed. "Well, in that case, I can go back and use one of those brooms to see if I can go get Dumbledore."
"You giving up already?" Antigone asked.
Angela shrugged. "If I have to."
"No, no need for that yet." Ron stood there looking at the board, and then looking at his friends. "Harry needs to go. I need to be on the board, too. I think Hermione and Antigone can be on it too. Sorry, Danzia."
Danzia shrugged. "I'll live."
Harry took the place of a bishop, Antigone and Hermione took the rooks, and Ron was a knight, by Ron's decision. When they were in place, the others going back to the key room, the game began when white moved. Ron tested a hypothesis, and deliberately put a pawn in danger. The other pawn violently wrestled his pawn off the board and knocked it unconscious before returning to position.
"Well that answers that question," Ron said.
The next half hour (or was it an hour? It was hard to tell) was very tense, as Ron worked to win the giant chess game without endangering his friends. Somehow, he managed it, at least until the end.
"Yes," Ron said softly. "It's the only way. I've got to be taken."
"Isn't it obvious?" asked Antigone. "He's going to sacrifice himself."
"No, you can't!" cried Hermione.
"There's no other way! Do you want to stop You-Know-Who getting the Stone or not?"
Hermione went quiet then.
"Good. Now, here I go," he said.
He stepped forward, and the white queen pounced, dragging him away and knocking him out before returning to the right spot. At this, Harry went where Ron had told him, and checkmated the white king, who threw down his crown in defeat.
"Antigone, can you take Ron back to the key room with Danzia and Angela?" asked Harry.
"Sure thing, mate." The older girl was tall enough and, apparently, strong enough that she hoisted Ron up in a fireman's carry and hauled him back to the key room. When she came back, with assurances that the other two were taking care of Ron, the three of them continued on.
On the other side, they found a great stench and an even greater troll, already knocked out. They were all glad of that; they'd never fought a troll before, and had no idea what one had to do. So they continued on.
As soon as they crossed into the second-to-last room, purple fire rose up behind them, blocking their exit. The way forward was also blocked, but by black fire.
"Snape's," Harry said, pointing out the bottles. There was a rhyming riddle in a scroll there, too. The three of them read the riddle aloud. It basically said that three bottles were poison, one bottle would get you forward, and another would let you go back. The rest were harmless but useless.
"Don't look at me," Harry said. "I suck at riddles."
"Alright, we'll figure it out." The two girls proceeded to talk it out between them. Before long, they had it figured out: the smallest bottle let them go forward. Only...
"There's only enough for one. Harry, it'll have to be you."
"Wait, hold up," said Antigone. "Why him? If Moldywart is back there, the pain in Harry's scar is going to render him useless."
"Yeah, but I beat him once before."
"When you were a baby! And nobody knows how that happened!"
"Maybe I'll get lucky again. Maybe I've got some kind of protection against him?"
"You don't know that! And besides, I'm older than you."
"And we both know that if we were the same age, I'd far outstrip you in ability anyway. And that's almost true now."
"Listen, Antigone, I get what you're trying to do. You're worried about me, I know. Ideally, all three of us would go in there, but we can't. I'm the one with some weird connection with Voldemort. If nothing else, maybe the fact that he failed to kill me will buy me some time. Anyway, we don't have time to argue about it!"
Antigone slumped. "Fine. Hermione and I will go back to the chess room and keep watch, make sure Moldy doesn't get out. Or try, anyway."
"No, you two go find the others. Get Ron to the hospital wing, and contact Dumbledore, tell him what's going on. Gah! I can't believe I forgot to do that before!"
"Fine, fine," she said, and the two girls took the potion for going back. Harry took the one to go forward, and they parted ways. Harry paused a moment, then Disillusioned himself before he stepped through the black flames, his wand out, and saw... Quirrell. No Snape, just Quirrell.
The man was examining the Mirror of Erised in frustration, trying to figure out how to get the stone out of it, and hadn't noticed Harry come in. (It helped that Harry was Disillusioned.) But someone knew he was there, because a horrible voice, weak but terrifying, said, "The boy is in this room, Quirrell. He is Disillusioned."
Harry crept about stealthily, drawing on his experience stealing food at the Dursley's to be quiet as possible. Quirrell had turned around to face the exit, his wand out, looking around in confusion.
"To your right, fool!" the horrible voice said.
"Incarcerous," Quirrell shouted, Harry ducking the ropes, but making enough sound in the process that Quirrell tried again, and got Harry's left hand, rendering the Disillusionment Charm moot. Trying to run and sever the ropes at the same time earned Harry a cut arm, giving the man another means by which to track him.
"Protego!" The ropes from Quirrell's wand bounced off his shield charm.
"You are very clever, Harry," the horrible voice said. "But not clever enough! I will subdue you, and you will help me, or you will die!"
"Never!" He shot a Jelly-Legs Jinx at Quirrell, then Expelliarmus, successfully disarming Quirrell, the man's wand flying into Harry's hand.
"ENOUGH!" the horrible voice screeched in anger, and pain flooded through Harry's scar. He downed a pain-relief potion quickly, which helped, and used Incarcerous and a stunner on Quirrell.
"I'm familiar with pain, Voldemort! It's not going to stop me!"
"Pain? I have not caused you any pain yet, boy, but rest assurred, I will."
Somehow, the ropes around Quirrell came undone, and the man stood up and lunged at Harry. Harry ducked, wondering how they knew where he was, but it wasn't enough; he was caught, the wands wrested from his hands, and was soon tied up, the Disillusionment Charm broken, and Quirrell dragged him over to the mirror.
"Tell me what you see!" demanded Quirrell.
Harry looked at the Mirror, against his better judgment. He saw his reflection wink at him and drop the Stone in his pocket. Then he felt the lump of the stone there.
"I refuse to cooperate. I'll die before I let you get the Stone!"
"He knows!" the horrid voice of Voldemort said. "He knows!"
"Give it to me, Potter!"
"Go to Hell!"
"Let me face him."
"Master, you are not strong enough!"
"I have strength enough for this."
Quirrell unbound Harry. Without his wand, Harry was helpless. He watched as Quirrell unwrapped his purple turban, exposing a second face jutting out of the back of the man's head. He felt like he was going to be sick.
"You see what I've become? Living off another to survive. Unicorn blood has sustained me, but I need the Stone to rebuild my body. Give it to me, and I will reward you greatly, Harry."
"You killed my parents! You tried to kill me, when I was just a baby. I'll never join you! Go to Hell!"
Quirrell turned around and leapt forward, grabbing Harry. Without a wand, he was terrified about his prospects. Acting on instinct, he grabbed Quirrell's arm, trying to force it away. The skin on Quirrell's arm began to burn and bubble, causing the man pain; he let go of Harry and stared in disbelief and agony at his arms.
"What... what is this magic?"
"FOOL! GET THE STONE!!!"
Goaded on by his master, Quirrell tried again. Harry grabbed the man's face, and the same burning happened there. Quirrell could not touch him without burning. Harry grabbed the man's throat, and the burning spread there as well. Quirrell lay there gagging, dying, and as he did, Voldemort - little more than a ghost - came out of him. This Harry witnessed as the exhaustion took hold and he passed out.
He woke up later, a glint of gold over him. Someone had put his glasses on him, so he was able to make out the source of the gold, as the spectacles of Albus Dumbledore.
"Sir! The Stone, it was Quirrell! He might have it!"
"Relax, dear boy. Quirrell does not have the stone. He does not, in fact, even have his life anymore. He died a little bit ago. The Stone is safe."
"But who has it? Where---"
"Hush, please, before Madam Pompfrey kicks me out. The stone has been destroyed."
"Destroyed? But your friend Nicolas---"
"Ah, you know about Nicolas. Good. Harry, he and I discussed things, and we decided it was for the best that the stone was destroyed. Besides which, Nicolas and his wife have been alive so very long that they've grown tired of living. But they have enough elixir to set their affairs in order before they pass on."
"Yes, I know. It may seem incredible to one so young, but to those of us who are old, life grows tiresome eventually. Everything is still so very new for you, but after decades of life, things like eating several times a day can get dull."
Harry nodded. He and Dumbledore discussed a lot of other things after that, but Harry's attention got more and more distracted the longer they talked. He was distracted by something. Finally, he couldn't stand it anymore, and spoke.
"Sir? What about this summer? What are we doing this summer?"
Dumbledore looked suddenly grave. "I'm glad you mentioned that, Harry. I never got a chance, before, to personally apologize to you for how you grew up. I really am very sorry about all that, I thought I had a better estimation of your aunt and uncle's personalities than that. I was absolutely astonished and horrified to hear about what you've gone through."
Harry nodded mutely.
"Anyway, Harry... that issue is a little... complicated. You see, when your mother died, she left you the protection that you used against Quirrell, and that protection was strengthened when I tied it to certain ancient magics. In short, as long as you can call the place where your mother's blood relatives live home - in this case the Dursley's house, since you have no other blood relatives - the protection remains. You have to spend only a few weeks a year there to keep the protection going, but if you don't... then the protection goes away."
"That said, it is your choice whether or not to go back. But, because I feel the blood protection is necessary, I can offer you something that will make your stay with the Dursleys bearable. Obviously, they cannot be allowed to mistreat you or neglect you again."
"What is it you're offering?"
"I am offering to cast a number of spells on your family and their house, to ensure they cannot hurt you. One spell can grab them and prevent them from hitting you. Another can tie their tongues if they attempt to emotionally abuse you. And..." Dumbledore smiled. "I pulled a few strings at the ministry to let one of the school's house elves stay with you while you're there." He coughed once, then said in a commanding tone, "Netty."
A tiny, humanoid creature with giant floppy ears and eyes the size of dinnerplates appeared on the bed in front of Harry, making him jump. He'd never seen a house elf before; he tried not to stare, as he didn't want to be impolite.
"Harry, this is Netty the Hogwarts school house elf. She works in the kitchens here. If you accept my offer, she will be a sort of bodyguard for you at the Dursleys, and will ensure you get enough to eat, and that you are treated with civility."
Looking at the creature, who was wearing a tea towel as a toga, he had to suppress a giggle at the thought of how Aunt Petunia would react to this.
"So, what do you think of the offer?"
Harry smiled. "Well... I'd much rather not have to go there, but you're right; that blood protection saved my life, it might do so again. And I really want to see Aunt Petunia's reaction to Netty. I accept your offer."
"Good. Then I will meet you at the train station, and escort you to the Dursley house, where I will inform them of what I will be doing, and introduce Netty to them."
Harry laughed aloud at this. "Thanks."
"But first, formal introductions are in order. Netty, this is Harry Potter. He is the boy we discussed earlier, that you will be helping, if you are amenable to it."
In a squeaky little voice that he knew would grate on Petunia's nerves, Netty said, "Oh my, the famous Harry Potter! Netty is most honored to be helping the one who is defeating He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, she is indeed! Of course Netty will help Harry Potter, Professor Dumbledore sir! And Netty will gladly keeps your secrets and her silence as well, Harry Potter sir!"
"Nice to meet you, Netty," Harry said, holding out his hand for her to shake.
"Oh my! Harry Potter is treating house elves as equals? You is even greater than they is saying, Harry Potter sir!" She shook his hand excitedly.
This summer is going to be fun, Harry thought to himself.
"Well, Harry, I think that's all for now. Anyway, I'm sure you'll want to see your friends. As you can see, they have left you many tokens of their admiration. Netty, you may return to the kitchens for now, or pack any belongings you may require. We shall call you later when we've explained things to his family."
"Righty-o, Professor Dumbledore sir!" Netty said, disappearing with a small pop.
"Wait, sir, before you go, I have one more thing to ask."
"And what would that be, my dear boy?"
"You said rumors are flying about what happened down there. Are you planning on telling the school anything about it?"
"Well, I was planning on a little something, yes. You stopped Voldemort from returning; that's something worthy of recognition."
"Could you... could you not? Or, or downplay it or something? I don't like a fuss being made over me. I don't think I could handle the whole school like, cheering for me or something. The very thought is giving me some anxiety."
"Well I can't guarantee you anything, Harry; I have to put the rumors to bed somehow. And you wouldn't be the sole recipient of acclaim anyway. Six of your friends were involved, too."
"Six? But only five of my friends were down there with me."
"You're forgetting Neville Longbottom."
"Neville? He tried to stop us."
"It took a lot of bravery to stand up to his friends, Harry. He felt you were endangering Griffindor's good standing, it took a lot for him to defy you."
"I... suppose. Well, just..."
"Don't worry, Harry. I think you'll like my speech."
Harry nodded, still thinking. When his friends came into the room after Dumbledore left, he smiled. He smiled even more on noticing that Ron was being almost as friendly with Angela, Antigone, and Danzia as he was with Hermione and himself.
They discussed the events as much as they could before the matron demanded Harry needed more rest. Before they left, he asked Ron to retrieve something for him from his trunk. A few minutes later, Ron returned with the two-way mirror, and Harry began to tell Luna what had happened; she was grateful for this... she'd heard somewhere that Harry was in the hospital wing, but hadn't been able to come out to visit him.
Later that evening, Harry got to go to the leaving feast; apparently Dumbledore had requested he be allowed to attend. When they'd all eaten, Dumbledore stood up and got their attention.
"It is now time to announce the winner of the inter-house championship." He read off the points, and it turned out there was a tie between Griffindor and Slytherin. There was a lot of cheering, and also a lot of booing, at this.
"Well done to both Houses, well done. Of course, we must break the tie somehow, mustn't we? Or must we?"
The cheering and booing turned to mutterings, at this point.
Dumbledore sighed. "In my day, the four Houses were friends, and the rivalry was friendly. But ever since Voldemort came to be a student here in Hogwarts - yes, he was a student here once - ever since he came here, the Houses have been more divided than ever. Largely it is Griffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw against Slytherin, but there's not as much inter-House unity among the other three Houses as there should be, either. And so we find this competition has become... not as friendly as it should be."
Harry sat up straighter, wondering where Dumbledore was going with this.
"It is only fitting, therefore, that the boy who somehow survived Voldemort's killing curse should start healing that wound, bridging that divide. For young Harry Potter has, this year, done something that few others outside of Slytherin House have done since Voldemort poisoned this school with his influence: Harry made friends among the Slytherin students."
There was briefly a great uproar over this, before Dumbledore got the room to order with loud crackers from his wand.
"Thank you. Yes, young Harry Potter saw something that few if any of the rest of you seemed to see; that there are those in Slytherin who are good, honest, hard working people. Being in Slytherin does not make you evil, and Harry saw this. It is about time more of you saw this, too.
"I must also address the rumors of what happened between Harry and Professor Quirrell. This, here, is the truth: that the Philosopher's Stone, capable of giving the user immortality, was kept away from the hands of a greatly weakened, barely alive Voldemort, by Harry Potter and five of his friends. Three of whom are Slytherins."
Dumbledore waited a few minutes this time for the uproar to die down before continuing, pausing every now and then for the inevitable cheering."Griffindor student Ron Weasley defeated Professor McGonagall's giant chess set to help Harry beat Quirrell to the Stone. Griffindor Hermione Granger used logic to solve a puzzle toward the same end. Slytherin student Antigone Dreyfuss got them past the Devil's Snare and got help when it was needed, along with Slytherin student Danzia McCullough, and those two girls taught Harry and the others spells that helped them out, and helped Harry evade Quirrell long enough to stay alive.
"Also, Slytherin student Angela Whitechapel got them past the giant cerberus guarding the labyrinth's entrance, with some very nice flute playing.
"But we should also not overlook Neville Longbottom. Not knowing what was going on, and fearing they would get Griffindor into trouble, Neville stood up to his friends... a far greater challenge than standing up to your enemies."
Neville looked stunned. He'd rarely been praised for anything, and now the whole school was cheering him.
"It falls to the headmaster, when there is a tie, to break that tie. But, I have made another decision. I am letting the tie stand; Griffindor and Slytherin will both share in the win, this year, for their show of inter-House unity. And all of the students I have named in this speech will be rewarded with awards for Special Services to the School."
He clapped his hands, and suddenly there appeared hangings of both Griffindor and Slytherin. This was met with... well, there was some cheering, but mostly bewilderment, and talk of how weird Dumbledore was. But most did seem to get the point that he'd been trying to make. How well that point would stick, time would only tell.
As they boarded the train the next day for home, Hagrid stopped to give him a present; the photo album he had promised Harry. Harry, tears in his eyes, thanked Hagrid and hugged him before boarding.
Harry and his friends all got a compartment together, and Harry was glad to see that Ron was treating the three Slytherins no differently than he did Harry or Hermione. Closing the door, Harry began to tell them all about Dumbledore's plan for the Dursleys, which had everyone cracking up, stitches in their sides from laughing so hard.
"The best part," Harry said, "is that the Dursleys don't know I'm not allowed to use magic out of school!"
Harry was right, this was going to be a great summer.
End of book 1.
Note: Because the numbering system got so messed up, I am going to be posting the second book of this series as its own story, so it will have proper numbering. Stay tuned for a link, here, to the second book.
I actually copied the code straight from the AO3 version, and I forgot about this note when I did. So here on BigCloset, that note does not apply.
Note 2: Please leave feedback, I welcome your feedback! :-)
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