Draco Malfoy Harry Potter
Alternate Universe General
The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
Philosopher's Stone Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 09/14/2003
Updated: 02/26/2004
Words: 94,331
Chapters: 19
Hits: 159,287

They Shook Hands : Year One (Original Version)


Story Summary:
Suppose Draco Malfoy introduced himself before he started acting like an ass. What if he had asked Harry's name before insulting Hagrid? A friendly handshake in Madam Malkin's leads to an alternate but realistic universe which is eerily like the canon, featuring a cast of first year Slytherins as you've never seen them: normal children. Join Harry Potter and his new friends as they discover their magical talents and help him to explore the world that has been kept from him these past ten years.

Chapter 12 - Christmas Time

Chapter Summary:
It's Christmas time! Professor Snape teaches his young charges how to cope with the cold. Ron Weasley finds out one of Harry's secrets. What will he do about it? Harry gets Christmas presents for the first time, and he makes a startling discovery.

They Shook Hands : Year One

An alternate (but realistic!) universe Harry Potter fic
by Dethryl

Chapter Twelve - Christmas Time

Christmas was coming. One morning in mid-December, the young Slytherins made their way to the Astronomy Tower to find the battlements covered with several feet of snow that had fallen in the night. Goyle employed his fire spells to melt a clear path. The lake had frozen solid, and the snow-covered hill beckoned all the students, who were waiting for the weekend.

The roaring fires in both the Slytherin common room and their individual dormitories made the House a cozy haven of light and warmth. Elsewhere, only the Great Hall was remotely comfortable. In the rest of the drafty castle, the corridors were ice-cold, and the bitter wind constantly rattled the classroom windows. Though the dungeons were made of stone and held the winter chill, the walls were solid, and neither snow nor wind could penetrate.

In Professor Snape's classroom, the Slytherins watched with wide smirks as the shivering Gryffindors huddled close to their hot cauldrons. On the first day of December, he'd met them in the common room after dinner to teach them the Self-Warming Charm, something he said would be essential for them to know. He'd worked with them patiently, not leaving until even Pansy, the worst student at Charms, had mastered the spell: "Concalesco Ipse!"

No one could wait for the holidays to start. Harry was looking forward to taking a break from school. When Professor Snape had come around to inquire if any students would be staying at school over the holidays, Harry had been glad to explain that though he wasn't staying at school, he certainly wasn't going back to his awful Muggle relatives.

"Oh no, Mister Potter?" Snape asked curiously. "Where then, may I ask, do you plan to go?

"Draco's father has invited me to the Manor, sir," Harry said happily. Master Malfoy had sent a very polite invitation making it clear that he approved of the boys' friendship.

Professor Snape, though, frowned slightly. "I'm afraid it's not as simple as all that, Mister Potter," he said.

"What's the problem, sir?" Draco asked, as Harry's heart leapt into his throat. He desperately did not want to see his so-called family.

"To go anywhere other than home, the school must receive a notification of permission from a parent or guardian," Snape explained. "I advise you to write a letter home and ask for such permission, Mister Potter. Otherwise, the Headmaster will not allow it."

Harry's hopes fell. While the Dursleys would no doubt be glad to be rid of him for the holiday, there was no way they would give him leave to go home with another boy. They would not sign any such permission, just out of spite.

Draco must have seen Harry's disappointment on his face. "Chin up, Harry. We'll go write that letter and get it sent off."

"You don't understand," he despaired, and told Draco what he feared would happen.

Sure enough, Arlette brought back a letter from the Dursleys written in Uncle Vernon's own hand in blue ink on blue-lined white paper. It forbid him to associate with any of his fellow 'freaks' and explicitly instructed the Headmaster to not let Harry leave the school grounds. When Harry read the letter, he crumpled it into a ball and bounced it off the floor of the Hall. Scowling up his face, he felt like he wanted to cry.

He stomped out of the Hall and headed for class. He was furious at the Dursleys and wished he had taken the opportunity to hex them before the start of school. Those miserable Muggles weren't his parents; they weren't even wizards. They had no right to tell him who he could and couldn't be friends with, where he could and couldn't go. It just wasn't fair.

His friends walked along with him. Nobody said anything; they all knew it must have been bad news. None of them noticed that Harry's drama and subsequent furious exit had all been observed by a pair of cool blue eyes, which were glinting maliciously.

The owner of those eyes waited until the Slytherin table was empty and crouched down to retrieve the crumpled ball of paper that Potter had, in his anger, discarded to the floor. A pair of large hands carefully smoothed out the letter. A grin to match the glint in those cool blue eyes spread across his face. He tucked the letter away in a pocket. It would come in very handy, of that he had no doubts.

* * *

"I do feel so sorry," Weasley said loudly as he walked past the Slytherin table the next morning at breakfast, "for all those people who have to stay at Hogwarts because they aren't wanted at home."

Harry felt like someone had stabbed him with a knife. Draco jumped to his feet and turned around to see Weasley standing there. "What did you say, Weasley?" Draco demanded in a low, dangerous voice, absent the drawl he used when addressing Gryffindors. His left hand drifted near his wand.

Weasley had been even more irritating since the Quidditch match. He'd been disgusted that Gryffindor had lost so spectacularly and had tried to make people laugh by saying that a large-mouthed bass would soon be replacing Harry as Seeker. This made no one laugh except himself, because everyone was impressed with the way that Harry had managed to stay on his out-of-control broomstick. Jealous and bitter, now Weasley had found something better to taunt Harry about.

"I think you heard me just fine," Weasley said, a nasty smile on his face. He turned and walked off, leaving a fuming Draco to comfort Harry, who was near tears.

"I'll get him for that," Draco spat, his usual calm demeanor long since fled. "He's one to talk, that bastard. He might have a proper family, but they're all crowded together in one room."

Harry didn't say anything. Weasley's words had cut too deep.

The girls arrived at that point, and Harry immediately became the center of attention. When Draco and Tim had filled them in, they too were thirsty for revenge. Blaise put her arm around Harry, letting him burrow his face into her shoulder.

"We don't let this go," she said in an iron voice. "And I want to hex him myself."

"We're all going to get a turn," Draco seethed. "And then he's lucky if I don't use my Potions knife to slit his throat. How dare he?"

"How did he find out?" Millie asked, looking fit to be tied. Her hands were shaking and clenched spasmodically. She looked like she wanted to hit someone.

"He must have found the letter," Tim said, cursing.

"Language!" Pansy reprimanded him.

"Go throw yourself off the battlements," he snarled back at her.

"I just want to go back to bed," Harry said, his voice muffled against Blaise's shoulder.

Jenna took his hand. "Harry, I know you don't want to face him right now, but you've got to go to Potions. Professor Snape won't let him get away with anything. I'll see if I can't say something to him before class."

Harry allowed himself to be led back down into the dungeons. He half-heartedly spoke the Self-Warming Charm with the others. He was numb, not feeling much of anything. He sat listlessly at his station with Blaise while Jenna and Draco knocked on Snape's office door and went inside.

The Gryffindors arrived, Professor Snape came out of his office, and the lesson began. They set to work on the Hair-Raising Potion. Harry didn't pay any attention to what he was doing. He did only what Blaise told him to do. Several times Professor Snape passed by their work station, and he appraised Harry with a long gaze, though he said nothing.

Longbottom and Weasley were at a work station together. The pair had worked in tandem ever since the other Gryffindors had realized that they were both hopelessly inept at Potions and that the rest of them stood a better chance of earning good marks by not being anywhere near either one of them. They lost Gryffindor many points, but that would have happened regardless.

Today, the pair managed to screw up even more than normal, and Weasley's cauldron began to lose its shape, melting and deforming. As the bubbling blue potion seeped out of the melting cauldron and down onto the floor, Snape finally snapped.

"Idiots!" he thundered at them. They were both trying to wipe hot potion off of themselves, and out of their hair, which was curling up into tight spirals like a poodle's.

"I have never in my entire career as a teacher seen a pair of students more incompetant than you two! Even your worthless, practical joker brothers, Weasley, have at least some idea of how to properly brew a potion. I'm disgusted by the both of you! Twenty points from Gryffindor for gross incompetence!"

"Sir-" Weasley began. Longbottom was cowering in fear.

"And detention!" Snape shouted him down. "You will remain after class and scour out every student's cauldron with a toothbrush! Be thankful it's not your own brush you'll be using."

Weasley was glaring daggers across the room at the Slytherins. He clearly suspected that they'd had something to do with this situation. Longbottom had melted plenty of cauldrons before; he himself had screwed up dozens of potions before, but neither of them had ever gotten detention for it. Weasley fumed, but that was all he could do; he had no proof.

* * *

Harry didn't go up to lunch with his friends; he crawled into bed and tried to forget about what a horrible day it had been. It was bad enough that the Muggles were interfering in his life, but now Weasley knew about his home life and would spread it all across the school. Why had he been so stupid as to leave the letter lying around? Why hadn't he torn it up or burned it or something?

His friends came back from lunch and attempted to jolly him into some semblence of good spirits, but they were unsuccessful. He would have been quite content to spend the weekend in bed as well, but Draco hauled him out of bed in the early evening.

"Professor Snape is in the common room," he told Harry. "He wants to know if you want to stay here at school over the holiday."

Harry nodded and tried to turn over and go back to sleep. "Harry, you've got to sign the list yourself. Snape said to bring you."

Grumbling, Harry got to his feet and pulled on his dressing gown. He followed Draco out to the common room where Professor Snape was seated in a chair by the fire.

"Sir," he said politely.

Snape appraised him with a cool eye. "You look horrible, Misterr Potter. Surely Weasley's words can't have upset you that much."

"I'll be staying here at school, sir." Harry's voice was lifeless. He didn't want to talk about it.

Snape presented him with the list, and he scrawled his name on it with the quill that Draco handed to him. Then Draco took the list and penned his own name neatly below it.

Snape raised an eyebrow. "Mister Malfoy?" he questioned.

"I'm not leaving him here by himself," Draco said firmly. "That just wouldn't be proper."

The parchment was rolled up and disappeared into Snape's sleeve. "As you wish, Mister Malfoy. Good evening to you all."

"Sir," they said in response.

"Draco, your father is going to have kittens when he finds out about this," Pansy warned him. She had been working on her Potions homework nearby.

"I don't care," Draco snapped. "Let him have a fit. I told Harry that he'd be spending Christmas with me, and I mean to keep my promise. If Father doesn't like that, he can sod off."

Draco's kind gesture sliced right through Harry's melancholy. Who cared what that gutter snipe Weasley thought? At least Harry had friends who cared enough to stick by him. Professor McGonagall had told them that while at Hogwarts, their House would be as their family. The hell with the Dursleys; Slytherin was all the family he needed.

"Bugger Weasley," he said. "And thank you, Draco." He put his hand on his friend's shoulder and squeezed slightly. "You're a true friend."

Draco grinned at him. "You're not so bad yourself."

When they went up to dinner, the Great Hall looked fantastic. Festoons of holly and mistletoe hung all around the walls, and a full dozen Christmas trees stood around the room. Some of the trees sparkled with tiny icicles; others glittered with hundreds of candles. Another tree was decorated with thousands of golden bubbles.

"Wizards are a bit more creative at holiday decorations," Harry said as they sat down.

"What do Muggles decorate with?" Millie asked curiously. None of them except Harry knew the slightest thing about living like a Muggle.

"They've got all sorts of ugly plastic stuff," Harry told her. "Useless, gaudy, and tacky, every bit of it."

"Trumpery?" Blaise asked, for she knew many words.

"If you say so," Harry laughed.

"What's plastic?" Tim asked, confused.

Harry thought about it for a minute. "It's, er- it's," he couldn't find a good way to explain it. "It's a Muggle thing," he finally settled on. "Don't worry about it."

"A Muggle thing," Pansy sniffed. "That says quite enough."

"So are you looking forward to the holiday?" That was Abraham, and he sat down with them. They wouldn't be seeing him for several weeks, and Harry knew that he would miss the older boy who had guided them and looked out for them. He'd miss Jessica too, who always had a smile and a kind word for any of them.

Harry was indeed looking forward to the holiday. Though he had been denied his first choice of visiting Malfoy Manor by the Dursleys, at least he wouldn't be forced to see those horrible Muggles. The Christmas feast at Hogwarts was likely to be a thousand times better than anything he ate at Privet Drive.

With no classes or schoolwork to occupy him, Harry thought he might devote some time to trying to find out who Nicholas Flamel was. The library would be open during the break, so he could roam at will amongst the stacks. Maybe one of his friends would be able to find out from their parents. With nothing vital to do, the mystery was sure to grate on him.

Everyone left the next morning. The first years had a bit of an emotional parting. Every girl hugged both Harry and Draco, the only two who were remaining at the school. Millie had hesitated to hug, and Harry saw her start to offer her hand to shake, but she set her jaw and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing the breath out of him. Tim, Crabbe, and Goyle all shook hands, and Harry feared he might never write with a quill again, so strong were the bigger boys' grips. After breakfast, Harry and Draco were all alone in Slytherin House.

Draco's brother Elan had been flabbergasted when he'd been informed that Draco would not be going home to the Manor. They had a rousing row at breakfast, which was greatly entertaining to everyone else. Finally, sensing that Draco would not budge, Elan gave up and said that he'd not be defending Draco's actions to Father.

They sat by the fire talking long into the night, and when they rose, the sun was already well up in the sky. With nothing else to do, by day they searched the library for information on Nicholas Flamel. The library was as unyielding of information as Hagrid had been, but still they kept at it, browsing the stacks, leafing through any book that looked promising. By night, they shared stories and spent hours talking about nothing at all.

On Christmas Eve, Harry went to bed looking forward to the feast the next day. He wasn't expecting a visit from St. Nicholas, nor did he expect any presents. He'd never gotten presents before, so when he woke in the morning to find a pile of brightly-wrapped packages at the foot of his bed, he was very shocked. Looking at the tags, he saw that they were from his friends and their parents. It brought a tear to his eye.

"Happy Christmas, Harry," mumbled Draco, who was rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

Harry scrambled out of bed and pulled on his dressing gown. "You too, Happy Christmas. Great Scot, I've got presents!"

Draco was yawning. "Of course you got presents. Did you think we'd all forget about you?"

Harry felt his cheeks burning. "I've never gotten presents before," he said in a low voice.

"What?" Draco asked, still yawning. "What'd you say?"

"I said I've never gotten presents before," Harry spoke up, his cheeks still flushed.

Draco stared at him. "Those bastards!" he exclaimed, and Harry knew he meant the Dursleys. "Well bugger them, open your presents."

Harry picked up the top parcel. It was a decent sized box wrapped in shiny silver foil. The tag was from Jenna's parents. He tore it open to find several tins of polish and a polishing cloth. The note inside said, "For broom and wand." He smiled. A practical gift, but very suitable.

His next parcel was wrapped in shiny green foil, and it was from Tim's parents. Inside was a tooled leather wand sheath. The intricate designs ensnared the eyes. He put it with his robes immediately.

The next package was from Goyle's mum and dad and contained a fine set of Gobstones. That was excellent, now he wouldn't have to borrow a set if he wanted to play. Draco immediately challenged him to a game after breakfast.

Crabbe's parents had given him a pair of matched raven-feather quills and an inkwell filled with silver ink. He didn't know that he'd ever have cause to use the ink, but the quills were very nice.

Pansy and her parents had bought him a subscription to the Daily Prophet. He'd mentioned several times that he ought to get the paper, and now he was saved the trouble.

Crabbe and Goyle had jointly bought him a cardboard box and filled it with candy. There were Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Fizzing Whizbees, and other things he'd never heard of before. Even the snack trolley on the Hogwarts Express didn't have most of this stuff. He nibbled on a sugar quill.

From the Zabinis and Bulstrodes, there were a dozen boxes of new clothes. Harry looked down at his tatty hand-me-downs and flushed red.

"They could have been a bit more subtle about that," Draco commented, looking up from his own presents.

"These rags," Harry said, absolutely disgusted with them. He immediately pulled them off and donned some of his new trousers.

"The green shirt with that," Draco said absently, lost in the design work of a polished, wooden wand case.

When Harry had dressed himself properly, he looked in the full-length mirror. "Very nice," it told him. "What a smart-dressed young man, you are. Now if only you could do something about that hair..."

"I can't believe this pile of clothes," Harry exclaimed. "This must have been all so expensive! It's too much!"

"Did you forget that Millie's mother is a fashion designer?" Draco asked, finally tearing himself away from the wand case. "It was probably nothing for her to get all that. She's good friends with Missus Zabini too." He held up one of the tags. "See? And I bet Blaise helped out with choosing most of this."

Harry picked up a letter, in a Muggle envelope. There was no parcel attatched to it. Inside the envelope was a note. He unfolded it and began to read.

We received your message and enclose your Christmas present. From Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Taped to the note was a fifty-pence coin.

"That's friendly," Harry said as he showed the note to Draco.

"What's this?" Draco asked, peering at the coin.

"Muggle money," Harry told him. "And not all that much of it, either. You couldn't even buy two sweets with that."

"Stingy bastards, aren't they? Still, it's rather interesting to look at." Draco was a bit fascinated by the coin.

"Keep it then," Harry said, laughing. "Happy Christmas, Draco."

"Happy Christmas, Harry."

There was only one parcel left. Harry picked it up and noted that it felt very light. He tore the paper off. Something fluid and silvery grey went sliding to the floor where it lay in gleaming folds. Draco looked stunned.

"What is it?" Harry asked, picking it up. It felt strange to the touch, like water had been woven into the fabric.

"That's an invisibility cloak," Draco said in awe. "They're really valuable, take forever to make. They're expensive and rare. What's the note say?"

"Note?" Sure enough, a note had come with the cloak and fallen to the floor. Harry seized it. It was written in a narrow, loopy script that he'd never seen before.

Your father left this in my possession before he died. It's time
it was returned to you. Use it well.

A Very Happy Christmas to you.

There was no signature. Harry stared at the note. Draco had picked up the cloak and pulled it around his shoulders.

"Woo, I'm a floating head!" he said. True enough, it seemed as though his head was floating there in mid-air. The rest of his body was invisible. "Father's got one of these, but I've never even been allowed to touch it," Draco said wistfully. "You sure are lucky." He pulled the hood up over his head, and he vanished from sight completely.

Harry felt very strange as he stared at the note. "Harry, what's wrong?" Draco asked, pulling off the cloak.

"Nothing," he replied. Who had sent it? Had it really belonged to his father? What did the note mean? "C'mon, let's have a shower and get up to the feast."

Harry had never in his life seen such a Christmas dinner. A hundred fat, roast turkeys; mountains of roasted potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes; platters of chipolatas; tureens of buttered peas; silver boats of thick, rich gravy; cranberry sauce -- and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table.

The wizard crackers were fantastic party favours that were nothing like the feeble Muggle ones that Harry was used to. Draco invited him to pull the first with him, and it didn't just pop, it went off with a blast like a cannon and engulfed them in a cloud of blue smoke. Instead of cheap plastic toys and flimsy paper hats, inside was a pirate captain's hat.

Flaming Christmas puddings followed the turkey. One of the Ravenclaw boys they were sitting with (if not for Harry and Draco, the Slytherin table would be empty) nearly swallowed a silver Sickle that was hiding in his slice. Harry watched disapprovingly as, up at the High Table, Hagrid got redder and redder in the face and kept calling for more wine. Then, to his amazement, he kissed Professor McGonagall on the cheek, and she giggled and blushed like a young girl.

During pudding, a large eagle owl came swooping in and landed right on the table. It was not Arlette.

"There's no letter," Harry said, very confused.

Draco was grinning broadly. "That's my present. Well, me and my folks' anyway. You're always borrowing my owl, I figured you needed one of your own."

Harry was truly touched by this thoughtful gift. "Thank you, Draco. She's wonderful."

"He," Draco corrected. "He doesn't have a name; that's your job. Come up with something good, will you?"

Harry promised that he would do just that. When they finally left the table, he was laden down with his new owl and a stack of toys from the wizard crackers. He was now the proud owner of a Grow-Your-Own-Warts kit, a pack of non-explodable, luminous balloons, and sixteen marble figures that Draco told him was a complete set of wizard chess pieces.

The Weasley clan had remained at school for the holiday. Neither Harry nor Draco had said anything about it, preferring to just avoid Weasley altogether, but now Harry tugged on Draco's sleeve as they left the Hall.

"Let's wait for him," he said. It was obvious who he meant. "I've got a couple of things I want to say to that prat." Harry was still angry over the way Weasley had taunted him about his parents' deaths.

"Hey, Weasel," Harry sneered as the red-headed boy headed for the stairs. Weasley stopped and turned around. He was alone.

"Well, looks like a couple of snakes are braving the sunlight," Weasley sneered back, just as obnoxiously. "Shouldn't you be underground eating live mice or something?"

"Shouldn't you be not here?" Draco asked in his drawl.

"Yes, what's the matter, Weasley? Got no proper family that wants you at home?" Harry threw Weasley's own words back in his face. "And what is that ridiculous thing you're wearing?"

Weasley was wearing a lumpy, hand-knitted maroon jumper. It was quite possibly the ugliest thing Harry had ever seen, though he would have taken it over his old rags any day. Weasley flushed red.

"Shut up, Potter," was all he said, before turning away and heading up the marble stairs.

They went outside to go sledding, sliding down the hill onto the lake over and over, until their legs had turned to rubber, and their cheeks were rosy with the cold. Dinner was a casual affair of turkey sandwiches, crumpets, trifle, and Christmas cake. Back in the common room, they sipped hot chocolate, and Draco began teaching Harry how to play wizard chess.

That night, after Draco had fallen asleep, Harry sat in bed, wide awake. He couldn't sleep. He still wondered who had sent him the invisibility cloak. He pulled it out and held onto it. It was smoother than silk, light as air. This had belonged to his father. Forget how rare they were, forget how costly; it had been his father's.

He had to try it out. Now. He slipped out of bed and pulled it around his shoulders. Where he should have seen his legs, he saw only moonlit shadows. It was a queer feeling.

The note had said, Use it well.

An invisibility cloak was used to become invisible. He started with realization. The whole of Hogwarts was open to him in this cloak! Excitement flooded through him as he stood there in darkness and silence. He could go anywhere with this cloak, anywhere at all, and Filch would never know.

Draco mumbled something in his sleep. Should Harry wake him? No, he decided. Not the first time; not with this cloak that had belonged to his father. This time, the first time, he wanted to go alone.

He quietly left the room and walked down the corridor to the common room. He bolted across the room and out through the stone wall. Where should he go? He didn't know. He walked randomly, as silent as a ghost. He saw a few of the ghosts out and about, but he said nothing to them.

He was near the library now. It was pitch-black through the doors and very eerie. He looked in at the tall bookshelves that held so much knowledge but hadn't helped them discover the answers they needed. Flamel's name was nowhere to be found in Great Wizards of the Twentieth Century, or Notable Magical Names of Our Time; he was also missing from Important Modern Magical Discoveries, and A Study of Recent Developments in Wizardry. And those were only a few of the tomes the library held amongst the thousands and thousands of books.

Harry had been wondering for a time if they might ever find Flamel's name in the library. They dared not ask for help. In the library proper, it seemed a fruitless task. That last phrase jangled around in his head. The library proper...

Was it possible that information on Flamel was in the Restricted Section? He'd never looked there; you needed a specially signed note from a teacher to even look in any of the restricted books. He knew he'd never get one, because these were books that contained powerful Dark Magic never taught at Hogwarts, and only read by older students studying Advanced Defense.

As soon as the idea occurred to him, he knew it must be correct. In his mind, he could picture the velvet rope that warded off the forbidden books at the back of the library. Did he dare? He was invisible. He grabbed for a lantern and lit the wick with a quick charm.

"Who's there?" came a voice. Filch! He'd seen the light! Harry dropped the lantern and ran. He might be invisible, but a floating lantern was enough to make even Filch suspicious, and he'd probably wake the Headmaster.

Filch's footsteps drew near, and Harry almost ran into him. He could see the caretaker's pale, wild eyes searching in the darkness, but they glided right over Harry. He ran, as silently as he could manage.

He came to a sudden halt near a tall suit of armour. He had been so busy getting away from Filch, that he hadn't paid any attention to where he was going. It was like the night of the duel all over again. The darkness made it impossible for him to tell where he was. There was a suit of armour near the kitchens, he knew, but he was at least five floors above there.

"Glad I found you, Professor. Professor Snape asked me to let him know if anyone was wandering around at night, but you'll do just as well. It seems someone's out of bed and tried to get into the library. I found this lantern dropped on the floor, and the wick was still burning. I've no doubt he ran for fear of his life."

Harry felt the blood drain out of his face. Wherever he was, Filch must know a shortcut, because his soft, greasy voice was getting nearer. To his complete shock, it was Professor Quirrell's stuttering voice that answered, "L-lantern? L-library? P-p-probably an older s-student t-t-trying to raid the-the-the Restricted S-s-section. I t-tell them they're n-n-not ready, but t-t-they are y-young and think they are im-im-im-immortal."

Quirrell? Sure enough, the Professor and Filch came around the corner, as Harry stood rooted to his spot. They couldn't see him, of course, but it was a narrow corridor, and if they came much closer to him, they'd crash into him for sure. He wasn't immaterial, after all.

"We'll catch 'em, oh yes, we'll catch 'em. Hang 'em up in the dungeons and let 'em have a good screamin' we will, oh yes."

He backed away as quickly and quietly as he could. He could see a door ajar to his left. It would have to do. He squeezed through it, thankful for being skinny, and eased the door shut behind him after they'd walked by. He listened to their footsteps fade away. That had been too close for comfort.

The room looked like an unused classroom, of which there were dozens around the school. The dark shapes of desks and chairs were piled against the walls, and there was an upturned wastepaper basket. None of that mattered when he saw the highly unusual object in the room. It looked out of place, as though it were just here because there was nowhere else to put it.

It was a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling, with an ornate gold frame, standing on two clawed feet. There was an inscription carved around the top: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.

Now that Filch and Quirrell had walked away, his panic was fading, and his natural curiosity was growing. What was this mirror? Why was it here? He stepped closer, wanting to look at himself from under the cloak. He stood in front of it and gasped.

He saw...

to be continued...