- Multiple Eras
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 09/26/2004Updated: 09/26/2004Words: 89,188Chapters: 19Hits: 87,944
- Story Summary:
- SEQUEL TO STEALING HARRY.````Ten years ago, Lucius Malfoy got to Peter Pettigrew before Sirius could, and the universe changed. Sirius spent years watching from a distance, until one day, when Harry was eight, he took Harry from the Dursleys. After two years in hiding, Harry returned to the Wizarding world to attend Hogwarts, only to find himself once more at risk -- once more facing Peter Pettigrew, who would like nothing better than to see Harry dead in the service of resurrecting Voldemort. ````Follow Harry and his friends -- brave Neville, clever Padma, and shy Draco -- as they are caught up in the battle for dominance between the Order and the Death Eaters.
- Chapter Summary:
- SEQUEL TO STEALING HARRY.
- Author's Note:
- Thanks to my beta-reading braintrust: Heidi, Judy, Nny, and Tai for their grammar/style/continuity betas, Em for her Art!Betas and illustrations.
"Take the cloak," Harry said. "Go get Neville and Draco. You were right, he's gone after the stone -- "
"Sorry, Harry!" Padma said, distressed, as he shoved the cloak around her shoulders. She bolted up the stairs, and Harry eyed the dog fearfully. Another few steps and he'd be out of the safety of the stairs, but it did seem to be sleeping...
He padded, grateful now for the muffling socks over his shoes, down the stone steps carefully. The dog snorted. Harry bent and reached for the whistle. So far so good -- a little further --
The whistle, made of some kind of cheap tin, clattered against the step when he picked it up, and the dog woke with a start. Harry backpedaled desperately, and the dog's jaws -- all three of them -- clicked shut a bare six inches from his chest. He scrambled up the stairs to safety just as the other three returned and almost tripped on him.
"Snape's gone down there?" Draco asked, wide-eyed.
"Braver than I thought," Neville said. "We've got to do something -- warn someone -- "
"No-one's awake, and there's no time," Harry said. "We have to follow him."
"Follow him?" Padma demanded. "Are you insane?"
"Music puts the dog to sleep," Harry insisted.
"We can't stop him, he's a grown wizard!" Draco protested.
"He's Professor Snape," Neville added frantically.
"It'd be four against one," Harry said stubbornly. "Listen, I'm going. Follow me or don't."
He set his lips to the whistle and blew a sharp, shrill note. It wasn't very soothing, but the dog did stop snarling. It looked almost...surprised. Harry blew another one, clumsily, working his fingers at random on the stops. The dog tilted its heads and made a sort of querying noise.
"Let me," Padma said, as Harry whistled a third, even more dissonant note. She took the whistle from him and immediately began playing again; she wasn't much better, but at least it sounded a little like music.
As Padma played, the dog began to back away from the stairs, stumbling sleepily around the room. Harry advanced slowly, hearing the others follow, until he was almost all the way to the trapdoor. The dog finally threw itself down again, and began to snore. Padma, however, continued to play.
Harry lifted the trap and looked down into the utter, complete blackness.
"We'll have to jump," he said. "If Snape can do it, so can we."
He saw Draco's frightened face and Neville's desperate nod, and slid off the floor, down into darkness feet-first.
He landed with a soft thump, and almost laughed with relief.
"It's an easy landing!" he called up. "Come down!"
He heard Draco and Neville come down in the dark, and then the whistle stopped playing as Padma followed.
"Lumos," Harry muttered, and the end of his wand lit up the gloom.
"Argh!" Draco cried. "It's plants! They're moving!"
Padma let out a tiny shriek. They were indeed sitting on a giant plant, a tangle of vines that were even now reaching out to twine around her ankles -- they'd already got a firm grip on Harry and Neville.
"What is it?" Harry shouted, as one of them wrapped around his chest. "Oh bloody -- "
"Devil's Snare!" Padma yelled back. Their shouts had woken the dog, and in addition to the panic of being trapped by vicious life-threatening plants, the dog was now growling and thumping on the trap-door Padma had closed behind her.
"How do we kill it?" Draco demanded.
"Wait, I know this!" Neville shouted. "We have to light a fire!"
"It's got my wand!" Draco shouted.
"Mine's stuck," Harry gasped.
"Padma, you've got to do it," Neville urged. Padma gripped her wand so tightly it shook, and pointed it at the plant. Fire shot from the end of her wand, nearly singeing Harry's clothing, but it worked -- the plant began to withdraw and cringe away from the heat. As it did so the tangle of vines became looser and looser until Harry fell through, landing on much-harder-stone with a slight oof. Draco, fortunately, landed on Harry, and Padma was able to jump through and help Neville climb down the vines.
"Ow," Harry said.
"Sorry," Draco answered. "Anything broken?"
"Don't think so," Harry replied, accepting a hand to help him to his feet. He looked up as the vines began to twine their way shut again, over their heads. "Guess we have to go on now, don't we?"
"Or we might die here," Padma said.
"What?" Harry demanded. Padma pointed a shaking finger past him.
Professor Snape stood in the only doorway in the room.
"Oh bugger," Draco whispered.
"Children," Snape said slowly. He was staring directly at them, arms crossed over his chest. They stared back in terrified silence.
"We know what you're going to do!" Harry blurted, after a long moment. Snape lifted an eyebrow. "You're going to steal the Philosopher's Stone!"
"Remarkably well-informed and yet still incorrect," Snape sighed. He dropped his arms, and came into the dim room, rolling his eyes. "I'm going to speak quickly since I haven't much time. Someone else has gone in ahead of me and I am in pursuit. Do you understand?"
They nodded, eyes wide.
"Good. Now. I don't know what you were doing out of bed at this time of night and do not care, but you will stay put until the matter is resolved. You will not follow me and you will not cause trouble. Do you understand that?"
"We won't stay," Harry said.
"We'll help you," Neville added, then looked shocked at his own audacity.
"We'll follow you whether you want us to or not," Padma said desperately. It sounded as though she was less eager to follow than she was to escape the Devil's Snare.
"I could, of course, petrify the lot of you, but I prefer not to commit violence against students," Snape replied. "All evidence to the contrary."
"Then the Devil's Snare will get us," Harry pointed to where the plant was already reaching thin tendrils towards them, and Draco jumped back. "How dangerous could it be to go with you?"
Snape gave him a thin smile. "How dangerous, Harry? Do you know how many traps have been placed in front of the Stone's chamber? You've survived two by sheer idiot luck, but there are many more, I assure you. Don't believe me?"
He gestured through the doorway, and the children gathered around to peer through.
On the other side of a short corridor was a high-ceilinged room, filled with what looked like tiny, mechanical birds.
"Keys," Snape said succinctly. "One of them opens that door. Which one, and how to catch it -- HARRY!"
Harry had darted through the passage and picked up a broomstick lying near the entrance. He was aloft before Snape could stop him.
"I saw it!" he cried, as Snape shouted at him to come down at once. He had seen a silver key, matching the motif of the lock, with one slightly-bent wing. He darted after it, through all the other soaring keys, occasionally batting one away when it hit his face or chest. He heard Snape's shouts and the other childrens' cheers as he dodged through the mess of keys towards his goal. Almost there -- his fingers outstretched -- it was just like catching the Snitch --
His hand closed around the key and the wings beat fiercely against his palm as he descended, only to be grasped by the collar of his shirt the minute he touched the ground.
"If you ever -- " Snape began, shaking him like a puppy, but Neville and Padma caught his arm and he stopped, releasing Harry suddenly. Harry, terrified of the rage in the Potion Master's eyes, clutched the key tightly.
"Give me the key, Harry," Snape said coldly.
"You're welcome," Harry answered angrily, placing the key in his hand. Snape unlocked the door with a quick, violent movement, and threw it wide. At the same moment, the doorway back to the room with the Devil's Snare in it slammed shut.
"Go, then," Snape ordered, waving them through. "Clearly you can't be trusted with a broomstick in a room full of potential targets."
They trailed in, chastised, and Snape followed. Again the door slammed shut behind them. Before them stood a huge chessboard, lined with life-sized chess pieces, made of black and white stone.
"McGonagall," Snape said with a sigh. "Such a show-off."
"What do you mean?" Padma asked, turning to look at him. He gestured at the chessboard.
"Several professors were asked to build traps into the passageway to the Stone's chamber. Dumbledore felt it would be...fun," he said, with a slight sneer. "Flitwick, myself, McGonagall, Sprout, Quirrell -- plus that outrageously bad-tempered dog above, and a final puzzle Dumbledore built himself. We weren't told what the others were doing, but this," he said, "Reeks of Gryffindor showmanship."
Neville looked annoyed at this, but said nothing.
"What do we do now?" Harry asked.
"We do nothing," Snape replied. "You four will remain here, and I will play my way across the board. And when all this is quite finished, Harry, I will see to it that the four of you serve detentions for your entire second year."
Snape stepped forward, onto the board, and after careful consideration, took the place of a bishop, which left the board when he touched it. He waited patiently for white to move; nothing happened.
"Infuriating woman," Snape said, with feeling. "We all have to play."
Harry grinned at the others. "Where would you like us, Professor?" he called.
"Longbottom and Patil, rooks please -- no. Longbottom, take the end pawn in front of Miss Patil. Malfoy, queen-side knight. Harry..." Snape seemed to consider. "Here, next to me. The other knight."
As soon as the last piece had disappeared to the sidelines, replaced by Harry, a white pawn moved forward.
"Professor," Harry said hesitantly.
"Do you even play chess?"
Snape smiled slightly. "Your trust in me can clearly move molehills, Har -- "
He nearly stumbled then, as something seemed to strike him in the head; Harry moved towards him as he pressed one hand to his temple, over the old scar-marks Peter had left on his face.
"No, don't move now -- you'll forfeit," Snape gasped. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, breathing deeply. Down the line, the other three looked terribly frightened.
"What's happened?" Harry asked, hearing the terror in his own voice.
Snape didn't answer; instead he called out an order, and one of the black pawns moved forward. Snape's ragged breathing filled the air as the white players seemed to consider, but by the time white had made its move, he was recovering from whatever spasm had shaken him.
"Who are we chasing, anyhow?" Padma asked, as she stepped forward on Snape's command.
"Quiet, Patil," Snape answered.
He gave an order which sent one of the pawns into danger. A white Knight swung at the pawn and shattered it with his lance, breaking it into tiny pieces. All four children stared wide-eyed as the wrecked pawn disappeared. After that none of them spoke.
Finally there came a long pause in the game, during which Snape appeared to be thinking especially hard. Harry had been playing chess since he was eight, Padma since she was five; Neville knew how, but didn't enjoy it. Draco, never having had anyone to play with, hadn't learned until Hogwarts, but he'd proved an apt enough pupil and sometimes even managed to defeat Harry, if he focused hard enough.
"It's me," Draco said quietly.
"No," Snape replied sharply.
"You know it is. Sacrifice me and you'll have the king in two moves, it's the quickest way."
"I'm not going to let some fool invention of McGonagall's decapitate a student," Snape replied.
"I don't think it'll kill me," Draco said, uncertainly.
"Regardless -- Malfoy, don't you dare!"
But Draco had already moved on his own. A white rook, towering over him, thrust a stone out from its side and knocked him flat, violently.
"Draco!" Neville, heedless of Snape's order, stepped out of line to try and help his friend, and was tripped by a Knight, who thrust him violently back onto his square. There was a whimper of pain.
"Don't. Move." Snape's voice was like a whipcrack in the echoing chamber. Harry and Padma both nodded. "All right. Harry, forward, and take the bishop."
Harry stepped up to the white bishop and touched it; it turned at once and walked off the board.
"Doesn't seem fair, somehow," Padma murmured, staring at the two fallen boys -- Draco curled and huddling in the middle of the board, Neville gasping in pain over a deep cut on his leg.
"All right, Longbottom?" Snape called, as a white pawn moved forward in a desperate gambit to protect its king.
"All right, sir," Neville answered, though there were tears running down his cheeks. "Don't think I'm much good for walking."
"Serves you right. Miss Patil, four squares forward, please -- that's check and mate," Snape said, a trifle smugly. The white king toppled over backwards, shattering as he did so; the other pieces turned and walked off the board, vanishing into the darkness beyond it.
Snape immediately ran across the board, reaching Draco first; Harry and Padma bent over Neville, and Padma took one of Harry's shoe-socks, trying to stop the bleeding with it.
"Sorry it's not very hygenic," she said apologetically. Neville had buried his face in Harry's shirt, and was trembling.
"He's breathing -- I don't think he's hurt badly, merely unconscious," Snape said, bending over Draco. He picked him up, carefully, and carried him to where the other three were huddled. "I warned you it was dangerous," he said, laying Draco down next to Neville.
"I can heal your leg, but it will take time to repair itself. You'll be more of a hindrance than a help if we bring you along," he informed Neville, who nodded and braced himself. He whimpered a little when Snape's hands touched him, but after a moment he sagged with relief, and released his death grip on Harry's sleeve. The wound began, visibly but slowly, to heal itself.
"Patil, stay with them," he said. She gulped, and nodded. "If Malfoy comes round, keep him awake. Harry, come with me."
Harry rose obediently and followed Snape, picking his way over the rubble strewing the board. There was a door beyond the white king's square, and Snape ducked through it, walking swiftly down the long tunnel.
"Why did you bring me along?" Harry asked, voice hushed. Snape lifted a torch from the wall as he passed.
"Because if we die, they might be able to get free, and if I die you can at least send someone back for them," Snape replied.
"Who are we chasing? You said you thought you knew," Harry said, unwilling to ask what would happen if only he died.
"Quirrell," Snape said tightly.
"Professor Quirrell? But -- "
"I've known for some time that he's been after the stone," Snape said, pressing the back of his hand to his temple as he walked. "Mind the pit."
Harry jumped quickly around a deep hole in one side of the corridor.
"I should have gone to Dumbledore sooner, but I had no evidence. He would have laughed -- he would have called it bitterness."
"Quirrell has my job," Snape answered. "It's no secret among the faculty that I've sought the Dark Arts position several years running."
"Several years in a row?"
"It's cursed, didn't you know?"
"Then why would you want it?"
"Because I have a right to it!" Snape snarled, though he didn't stop walking. "And the board of governors refuses me, year after year. They suspect me."
"What does it matter? I consorted with the wrong type of person, and have since paid the price."
"Lucius Malfoy," Harry whispered. "You knew him."
"Knew him. Yes. That's one way to put it," Snape said, with a snort of wry laughter. "Young Mister Malfoy bears a striking resemblance to him. No self control, no sense of timing in the slightest."
"There wasn't any other way," Harry said. "I saw it too."
"I have been playing chess longer than you've been alive, Harry."
"There wasn't, though."
They emerged into a small room, and immediately both coughed and held their hands over their faces. A troll lay unconscious on the floor, snoring noisily.
"Quirrell's trap," Snape said, as Harry gagged and edged his way around the monster. The stench made his eyes water. "Brute force. Very much his way."
He gave a sharp tug on the door and shoved Harry through. When the door shut behind them Harry could finally breathe again, and he turned to see what new challenge awaited them.
"Ah," Snape said. "Almost over, then."
A row of bottles sat on a long table in front of them, from which hung a large sheet of paper with a poem on it in green ink. Purple fire roared up in the doorway behind them, and black flames in another one, beyond the table.
"This is my trap," Snape said, plucking up the smallest bottle as he spoke. "Unlike the unsubtle troll behind us, this relies on logic; something in short supply among wizards, as Longbottom proved. Drink," he said, holding it out to Harry. "Only half."
Harry stared at the potion for a moment, then sipped from the bottle. Snape upturned the rest into his own mouth as an icy sensation filled Harry.
"Walk quickly," Snape ordered, and Harry felt the Professor's hand on his shoulder as he stepped through the flame.
Remus woke from the dream with a yelp of panic, and almost fell off the bed. He caught himself on the nightstand, staggered upright, and stumbled into the bathroom, vomiting. Behind him, he heard Sirius call his name, sleepily.
"In here," he said, cupping his hand under the faucet and bringing the water to his mouth to rinse out the taste of bile. He became aware that he was still breathing heavily only when he saw Sirius in the mirror, resting a hand on his back between his shoulderblades.
"Are you all right?" Sirius asked softly. "Dinner not agree with you?"
"No -- " Remus drank another handful of water, then accepted the glass Sirius pressed into his hand, filling it as he spoke. "A nightmare. I didn't mean to wake you."
"A nightmare?" Sirius asked. "Or one of the dreams?"
Remus calmed himself, comforted by the warm weight of Sirius' hand on his back. After a minute's thought, he drank the water in the glass, and set it down so hard it cracked.
"Sorry," he mumbled. "Accident. Listen, we have to floo Dumbledore."
"Dumbledore?" Sirius asked.
"The dream. Something's gone wrong at Hogwarts. Harry's in danger."
"Danger? But it's -- "
"Sirius, please," Remus said, turning towards the doorway and almost falling. Sirius caught him under the arm, hauling him upright. "We have to tell someone. Now."
"All right, we'll go use Andromeda's floo. Tell me what you saw," Sirius said, as he helped Remus out into the bedroom and then through the living room, down the stairs to the flat on the floor below them.
"I didn't see it -- I was reading a letter -- from Dumbledore," Remus said. "It said that Harry'd been in an accident the night before -- that Peter had hurt him, and killed another student, that Harry was unconscious. Something's happening right now, tonight."
Sirius eased him into a chair, worry in every line of his face.
"I'm not hysterical," Remus insisted.
"I didn't say you were," Sirius replied, turning to light a flame in the empty fireplace. He threw a handful of floo powder into the fire and said, "Dumbledore" and then the old passcode, "Order Business," when it flared up slightly. He put his head into the fireplace and barked, "Dumbledore! Wake up!"
Remus, shakily, slid to the floor next to him, and joined him in the flame. He could see Dumbledore's bedchamber, dim and dark, and a figure sitting up on the bed.
"Who's that?" Dumbledore's voice, hoarse with sleep, called out.
"Sirius Black," Sirius called. "Remus is here too. He's had a dream."
Dumbledore rose and crouched on the hearthstones of his own fireplace. "A dream, my boy?"
"There isn't time to explain," Remus said. "Harry's in danger, possibly another student as well."
"Danger? At this time of night?"
"I don't know how, but he is," Remus insisted. "I'm coming through."
Dumbledore looked as though he were about to protest, but he sat back on his heels, giving them enough room to pass through the floo and onto his hearthstones. When they arrived, ash swirling around them, he stood and straightened the night-cap on his head.
"Now, what's all this about students in danger?" he asked.
"Something's happening. Tonight. Peter Pettigrew's involved somehow," Sirius said quickly.
"Ask Snape," Remus said. "He'll believe us. He can check the dormitory and see if Harry's in bed."
Dumbledore, dubiously, put his head back into the fireplace and called Snape's name. After a moment, he stepped back.
"He's not in his rooms or office," he said quietly. Sirius, at the end of his rope, grabbed the headmaster by the front of his sleeping-robes.
"Where's he taken him?" he demanded.
Dumbledore's eyes flicked down to the hands grasping his clothing, then back up at Sirius' face. Sirius released him, suddenly, as though he'd been burned.
"I do not know where Professor Snape is, but undoubtedly he has his own reasons for being absent," Dumbledore said. "I -- "
He paused, then, and a thoughtful look crossed his face.
"Come with me," he said.
They followed him as he fetched up a dressing-gown off a chair and padded barefoot into his circular office, where a peculiar tray, oblong and apparently made of dark wood, rested near his desk. He waved his hand over it, and a series of walls grew up from the tray, along with what looked like the remains of a smashed chessboard, a tiny flock of birds, and a small planter, among other things.
"For the past year we have been protecting, at the request of Nicolas Flamel -- "
"Your old partner?" Remus asked.
"Indeed. The Philosopher's Stone. He intended to destroy it at the summer solstice, and until that time we felt strict security measures were necessary. Devil's Snare, a charmed lock and key, a chessb -- "
Dumbledore stopped, and peered down at the chessboard. A trio of small, lifelike dolls were huddled on one off-centre square.
"Dear me," he murmured. "It looks as though several students have attempted to break through...come with me."
"I want to know -- "
"Do as I say, if you value your godson's life."
Sirius looked stricken, and allowed Dumbledore to lead them to a paneled wall. One of the paintings obediently swung open at his request to reveal a small cubbyhole containing a gold flask; he took it and stepped in front of the panel next to it, which drew back entirely.
They followed the headmaster down a spiral staircase that seemed to go on forever; they stopped, around the time Remus estimated they'd just passed ground level, and Dumbledore unlocked a door with a small, complicated key he produced from around his neck.
"It is as I feared," he said, when he opened the door.
On the other side of the flame, Harry found, was a wide staircase leading down to a large, echoing chamber. In the centre of the chamber stood a mirror and two men, examining it, one tall and one short. Before he could help himself, he'd sucked in a startled breath -- that was the mirror called Y N I T S E D, and he could see the rolling fog inside it from where he stood.
A hand clapped over his mouth as soon as he'd made the noise -- Snape's hand, as the professor came through the flame behind him. Too late, however; the taller man in front of the mirror had turned.
Professor Quirrell's arm shot out, wand pointed directly at Harry's forehead.
"Move and you die," he said. "You move, Snape, and the boy suffers."
"Let him go, Quirrell," Snape said. Harry's eyes were on the other figure, who was pressing his hands to the golden stand, as if exploring it -- leaving small smears of red wherever he touched, apparently ignoring the standoff going on nearby.
"So he can sound the alarm? I think not," Quirrell replied. "Besides, he'll be needed, eventually."
Snape's fingers tightened over Harry's mouth.
"Needed for what?" he demanded.
"Just a little spell you once interrupted," answered a horrible, rasping voice, the voice of the other man in the room, who straightened and turned around.
"Pettigrew," Snape breathed.