Chapter 1 - Hero
"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer."
Quirrell smirked maliciously as he led the mountain troll into the castle. It had been ridiculously easy to lure the dumb creature to the empty dungeons of Hogwarts. Absentmindedly, he wondered if Dumbledore truly deserved his magnificent reputation. The Headmaster was oblivious to Quirrell's intentions regarding the coveted Philosopher's stone, but Quirrell wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Quirrell vaguely remembered a time where he taught that filthy subject, Muggle Studies. He honestly had no idea what he was thinking. He was a Pureblood, and he should've acted accordingly. Muggles were scum, plain and simple. Dumbledore, Muggle-loving fool he was, had managed to convince him that Muggles were harmless and deserved to know about magic. Thankfully, his master showed him the error of his ways.
Quirrell was happy to serve the Dark Lord. When he first encountered the wraith in the forests of Albania, he had been scared witless. But the Dark Lord was unlike what Dumbledore had described. His master wasn't cruel or vicious like he was portrayed. No, his master had a tongue of honey, wit, and superior knowledge. He explained his side to Quirrell, and Quirrell found it made sense. Why should the worlds mix and bring about the next Salem Witch Trials? No, total separation was a must.
Still, they were outnumbered. Annihilating the threat truly seemed the only way to make sure the world became a safer place for Purebloods. The filth needed to stay out, and Quirrell agreed whole-heartedly. He was tired of teaching mudbloods. They were unworthy to learn magic, unworthy to learn about a world that they did not belong in.
It was then and there, in that forest in Albania, that Quirrell decided he would willingly serve his Lord in an attempt to see that vision come true; a world ruled by the best, the Purebloods, and filth completely eradicated. He closed his eyes temporarily, a cruel smirk on his lips as he imagined what such a world would like.
The troll let out a growl, the sound deep and guttural. Quirrell immediately snapped his eyes towards the creature. It looked at him stupidly and Quirrell sneered. Just a few more feet and then he could leave to try going down that trap door. He wasn't sure exactly how competent the other traps were, but knew his would be the easiest. Really, it was quite lucky that he had such a knack for handling trolls.
Determination seared through his veins. He had failed his Lord once, in Gringotts, and he won't do it again. He would get the Philosopher's stone and bring his Lord back to power, and be rewarded greatly.
"Make haste," came a raspy whisper from underneath his turban.
"Yes, my Lord," Quirrell immediately replied, his tone one of respect. He carefully set the troll free and hurried to leave before the troll spotted him and decided to make things difficult. In his haste, Quirrell underestimated the aggression the troll had. Just as he was almost at the other end of the hallway, the troll let out a horrifying roar. Quirrell spun around, wand in hand, and gasped as the troll ran at him with surprising speed.
That moment of hesitation allowed the troll to swing its club, hitting Quirrell's skull with a sickening crack. Quirrell slammed into the wall before sliding down, a dazed expression on his face. The troll regarded him for a long time, trying to determine if Quirrell was still an enemy without frying its tiny brain. It seemed to go on forever, and Quirrell felt his strength draining away. The troll finally left him, wandering down the hall and disappearing around a corner.
Quirrell couldn't move. He lay still in a pool of his blood, that horrified and dazed expression glued on his face. He couldn't think. All he could do was feel his blood dribbling out of the wound on his head with a frightening speed. He tried to move something and whimpered as his arm protested viciously. It broke when he slammed into the wall. Everything was starting to get fuzzy.
"Fool," the Dark Lord rasped.
"Master?" Quirrell whimpered.
"You've proven yourself useless, Quirrell," the Dark Lord said silkily.
Quirrell's blood ran cold. It began to dawn on him just what his Lord had implied. "M-My Lord, p-p-please," he begged, his words starting to slur as his world began to blacken.
His Lord laughed, a cruel and vicious sound that Quirrell couldn't quite remember hearing, before his nerve endings erupted. He screamed as his Lord separated from the back of his head-painfully.
Just as his world darkened completely, Quirrell wondered if he'd made the right choice to follow the bodiless Dark Lord.
Meanwhile, in the Great Hall, the Hallowe'en feast was a success. Laughter and talking was abuzz and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Everyone except a small black-haired boy with startlingly green eyes.
Harry glanced up and down the Gryffindor table, trying to find the bushy haired witch Ron had upset earlier. Ever since he had seen her run off crying, his stomach continuously twisted rather unpleasantly. While he hadn't been the one to hurt her feelings, he also hadn't said anything in her defense, and that was almost just as bad.
It reminded him of his time at Privet Drive when he didn't have any friends. Dudley would always say something cruel and vicious, and though not everybody made fun of him, the people that were quiet hurt him perhaps moreso. He had looked at them hopefully, begging with his eyes for just a little kindness. In the end, they ignored him and turned the other cheek to his suffering.
Harry hadn't realized he became one of those people until he saw Hermione Granger crying and running off alone while he just stood there like an idiot.
His stomach churned unpleasantly. He'd been so happy to be whisked away from his dull and unwanted existence at the Dursleys that he'd begun to lose himself. And while having everybody know his name and want to be his friend was more than a little disconcerting, it was also vastly different and somewhat heart-warming. He'd gone from being an orphaned freak who lived in a cupboard to a big-time celebrity that everybody (well, almost everybody) wanted to know. Sure, he didn't want the fame and was uncomfortable with it, but having people actually interested in wanting to be his friend made him happy. Harry hadn't realized he was acting differently, and felt deeply ashamed.
"Um, Neville? Have you seen Hermione?"
Neville paused to swallow his food. "Nobody's seen her since after Charms. Parvati Patil said she's been crying in the girl's lavatory all afternoon."
His gut lurched again.
Ron looked somewhat awkward. "Well, serves her right," he grumbled petulantly.
Harry scowled. "It's partly your fault she's in there, so you have no right to say anything!"
Ron's jaw dropped. "But she's a nightmare!" he exclaimed in an attempt to defend himself.
"She was trying to help! Yeah, she went about it the wrong way, but that didn't mean you had to be such a rude prat." Harry stood before Ron had the chance to reply. "I have to go."
Harry was all too aware of the eyes that followed him as he left. He hadn't meant to snap at Ron. The redhead certainly lacked tact, but he was also Harry's first friend. He'd made Harry feel like a normal boy on the train as they talked about what to expect at Hogwarts and how nervous they were about the sorting. What Ron had said about Hermione was wrong, though, and now Hermione was in a lavatory somewhere crying because of his harsh words and everybody else's silence.
Harry knew how hard it was to fit in. Dudley had made sure that Harry felt like an outsider, and that everybody would avoid him if they knew what was good for them. Many nights after he'd cried himself to sleep in his cupboard, Harry swore that he would try to make friends with the loners. He didn't want anybody else to feel the intense loneliness he suffered. Nearly three months into term and he already broke his vow.
Harry shook those thoughts from his head and sighed as he finally reached the lavatory by the Charms room. He hesitated briefly before knocking on the door. Nobody answered, and Harry gulped somewhat nervously. Screwing his eyes shut and putting a hand over them (just in case), Harry opened the door and walked into the girl's lavatory. He could hear someone sniffling.
"Hermione?" he asked cautiously.
There was a pause before the sniffling continued. "What do you want?"
Harry felt a little relieved that he hadn't walked in on a different girl. "A-Are you okay? Parvati said you'd been here all afternoon."
Another sniffle. "What does it matter? I thought I was a nightmare."
Harry winced. "Ron can be a bit…dense. He was a bit embarrassed and acted like a prat."
Hermione snorted. "I was only trying to help," she said, feeling a tad defensive. "He didn't have to be so abrasive in saying he didn't need it!"
"I know that. Ron knows that, too. He's a good friend when you get to know him, but he's a bit insensitive. He really didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
Hermione finally came out of the stall. Her bushy hair was all over the place, not unlike Harry's own nest of hair, and her eyes were red and puffy. She regarded him with hesitation. "You shouldn't apologize for other people," she said softly. "You didn't do anything."
Harry winced. "In a way, doing nothing is worse," he replied. "I used to be bullied at my old school. I know what it feels like."
Hermione looked skeptical. "You were bullied?"
"I grew up with Muggles, remember?" Harry grimaced. "It's hard to go to a Muggle school and have all these weird things happen that you can't possibly hope to explain. I was the weird kid that nobody wanted to be around, and was bullied for it. But one thing I noticed was that while not everybody picked on me, I always hoped that the ones who noticed what was going on would maybe stop the bullies. And it always hurt just as much when all they did was look away."
Hermione remained silent for a while, but her eyes were misty with both tears and bad memories. "It is hard," she whispered, sniffling, "and I don't know how to fit in here any better than in the Muggle world."
Harry nodded in agreement. "Ron helped me do that, and I'm sure he won't mind helping you. After he's apologized for being such a prat and all."
Hermione let out a watery giggle. "How are you so sure he will?"
"Because," Harry said, "when I left to find you, he already looked pretty guilty. He'll apologize, definitely."
Hermione gave him a shy smile. "Thank you for finding me, Harry. You didn't have to."
"Yes, I did," Harry said, his voice surprisingly firm. He took in a deep breath before sticking out his hand. "Friends?"
Hermione looked surprised before she beamed. Harry flushed. She had a really pretty smile, even if her eyes were still puffy and her face was all blotchy. She took his hand and shook it. "Friends," she concluded.
Harry smiled shyly and opened his mouth to speak when a repulsive odor hit his nostrils. It smelt like old socks and the bathroom at the Dursleys after Dudley and Uncle Vernon both finished digesting curry. He turned towards Hermione and saw her eyes wide with fear. Turning his head in the direction she was looking at, Harry froze.
In the doorway was an extremely ugly thing. It had to be at the very least ten feet tall with grey skin. Its body was somewhat lumpy, and its feet looked like every podiatrist's nightmare. It stared at them with great confusion, and it seemed like time itself stopped. The thing was clearly assessing them, a process that looked painful (kind of like when Dudley tried to demonstrate anything similar to a mathematical skill).
Before he could think of a way to leave the lavatory, which would've been hard with the thing covering the entrance, the thing roared viciously and charged at them. With an amazing amount of skill that Harry didn't know he had, he managed to push Hermione out of harm's way and narrowly evaded the club the thing had swung. The club crashed into the stalls, thoroughly demolishing them. The thing confusedly looked at the damage for a few moments.
Harry took that chance to grab Hermione and dash towards the entrance. They quickly locked the door, panting heavily.
"What was that?" Harry gasped.
"A troll," Hermione whispered fearfully. "They're incredibly stupid, but they're also really powerful. Come on; we should tell the Headmaster."
Nodding in agreement, Harry ran alongside Hermione. It was barely a moment later when they heard a large bang as the troll broke through the lavatory doors. Hermione whimpered in fear, running just a bit faster. Glancing over his shoulder, Harry's heart skipped a beat. The troll had spotted them. By the looks of it, the troll ran a great deal faster and would catch up in no time.
His heart was pounding in his ears. Harry had never felt so afraid in all of his life. Not even when Uncle Vernon's face turned purple after the Headmistress of his old school said he appeared on the roof of the school kitchens, or when Ripper chased him up that tree, or when Dudley tripped him into the street and he was nearly hit by a car. He could hear Hermione sobbing next to him, no doubt just as afraid if not moreso. Adrenaline was the only thing keeping them running, but Hermione was beginning to sort of slow down. It occurred to Harry that she might have never had to run so fast or for so long before.
He glanced around his shoulder again. The toll was closer, snarling as lumpy grey blobs of snot dangled out of its nose. And then, when he thought it couldn't get any worse, Hermione tripped. She crashed onto the floor, hard, and seemed a bit disoriented. She turned over when she heard the troll roar again, this time more fiercely, and she trembled as her face drained of all remaining color.
Harry didn't even need to think about it. He turned around, his wand out and pointed it at the troll, wishing with all of his might that he could protect his new friend. A misty shield came out of his wand's tip. The troll glanced at it and, growing angrier, swung its heavy club at it. The shield instantly fell, but not before the club sort of backfired. As soon as it had hit the shield, it seemed to change its course and planted itself in the troll's gut.
The troll screamed its pain and fury, stumbling backwards as the club dropped to the ground with a loud thud.
Harry quickly turned to the still trembling Hermione. "Go," he said as he picked her up, his wand still out and trained on the troll. "Get help; hurry!"
Hermione looked at him with surprise and fear. "B-But, you-"
"I can obviously distract it better than you. Please, Hermione, get Professor Dumbledore!" Harry cried.
Hermione nodded her head and took off, still somewhat slow but with renewed determination. The troll finally seemed to collect itself and it snarled furiously at Harry. Harry felt his inside tremble and was surprised he hadn't wet himself yet. Gulping, he swung his wand again, wishing for that shield to pop up again.
Despair and fear took over. Harry glanced at his wand in horror, and the troll grabbed him and picked him up. Its grip was strong, and Harry felt his breathing constrict. He screamed as something in his body popped and pain exploded all over his abdomen. His lung seemed to be filling with liquid. He coughed and tasted something metallic. He didn't need to look at it to know what it was.
He was going to die.
Harry Potter, from unwanted freak to boy celebrity, was going to die. He hadn't even made it half-way through term. He wouldn't get to play at his first Quidditch match. He wouldn't get to do a lot of things, now.
Something bubbled inside of Harry. He didn't know exactly what it was, but he desperately tried to bring forth that sensation. He wished with all of his might, prayed silently, hoped that beyond anything, he would not die by the troll's hand. Hallowe'en really was a cursed night.
It hit him in that moment that he would die the same night as his parents-just ten years later.
The sensation inside of him grew as the troll brought him closer, probably to eat him or something, and it exploded before the troll could take a chomp out of him. The troll screeched as painful looking boils erupted onto his face and hands. It threw Harry, who hit his head on the wall quite hard.
Harry watched, dazed and confused, as the troll brought its hands to its face and seemed to wipe off its skin. He shook with pain and terror as he coughed again, more blood dribbling out of his mouth. The troll looked at him again and directed its pain and anger at the bleeding boy. It brought up its fists, and Harry instinctively threw his arms up in an effort to protect himself.
The additional pain never came. Harry chanced a look and gasped. Another shield was conjured, this one stronger than the last. The troll's fists banged against it uselessly, and only seemed to make it angrier. Harry felt himself draining. Sweat developed on his brow and he panted with the exertion. He was growing weaker-he could feel it.
Just a little longer, he thought even as his vision blurred. Hermione would be there soon with the Headmaster and would save him; he knew she would. Just a bit longer.
While Harry was fighting for his life, Hermione was running as fast as she could to the Great Hall. She cursed herself viciously for being so weak, for having fallen and making Harry stay behind. She sobbed, remembering the bone-deep terror that the troll had almost gotten her. It would have killed her if Harry hadn't stepped in. She couldn't let him down. She had to get help; she owed him her life.
The doors to the Great Hall had never looked so welcoming before, not even when she walked through them the first time. Without another thought, she slammed the doors open, gaining the attention of every single person in the Hall. They stared at her silently as she gasped and tried to catch her breath.
She continued to run towards the Head Table where many professors, Dumbledore included, stood up in worry.
"Professor," she gasped, panting heavily. "Troll! Bathroom - Harry - kill him - help!"
Professor Dumbledore seemed appropriately alarmed. "What did you say Miss Granger?"
Hermione wailed like a wounded cat. "I was in… lavatory and Harry came… but there was a troll… almost killed us, but Harry… and we got away, but it… escaped lavatory and then… almost hit me with… club, but Harry jumped in front… and this shield thing came from his wand… and he told me to come get help! Please, sir! He could be… dead right now and… oh, it's all my fault!"
Professor Dumbledore looked grim as he quickly sprung around the table. Professors McGonagall and Snape followed. Noise erupted in the Hall, as well as a good deal of screaming. "SILENCE!" All noise stopped, except for Hermione's sobs. Dumbledore began delegating orders. "Pomona, make sure nobody leaves the Hall. Poppy, Filius, come with me. Severus, go to the Hospital Wing and get the potions ready. Miss Granger, where did you leave Harry?"
Hermione grabbed his hand and tried to drag him out of the Hall, but Professor McGonagall stopped her. "Miss Granger, we cannot allow you to endanger yourself. Please, where did you leave Mister Potter? Speak quickly."
"The Charms hallway," Hermione sobbed.
"Thank you," Professor Dumbledore said grimly. "Stay here. Pomona, would you…?"
Professor Sprout nodded and led Hermione into a chair, waving her wand at the distraught girl. Hermione's eyes drooped and before she knew it, she was asleep.
Dumbledore led the others to the Charms hallway, moving surprisingly quick for an elderly man. They could hear the troll snarling, and ran even faster. When they got there, McGonagall gasped in alarm.
Harry's shield was still holding, but he looked a frightful sight. He was sweating heavily, his arms shaking badly. Blood splattered on the front of his shirt and down his chin. His eyes were drooping, but he kept muttering something under his breath.
The troll didn't look so good either. It had severe damage to its face and hands. McGonagall's hand went to her mouth as the stench of boiled troll flesh hit her superior smell.
Flitwick and Dumbledore wasted no time in blasting the troll away from the injured boy. Their dual attack captured the troll's attention and before it could even think to defend itself, it was incapacitated-permanently.
Madame Pomfrey was already at Harry's side with McGonagall. She was waving her wand over the trembling boy frantically, muttering spells in an attempt to reverse as much damage as she could so they could safely bring Harry to the Hospital Wing.
"How bad is it, Poppy?" Dumbledore asked, his eyes transfixed on the blood Harry was covered in.
Madame Pomfrey continued with her wandwork. It wasn't until a few moments later that she cast spells to aid in moving Harry. "Stupefy. Mobilicorpus." She spoke as she walked briskly towards the Hospital Wing. McGonagall and Dumbledore followed her as Flitwick stood behind to dispose of the troll's corpse. "It's not good, Albus. He has three broken ribs, two of which pierced his lung, and a nasty concussion. That's not what I'm really worried about, though."
Icy dread washed over the elderly man. "What is it?" Dumbledore asked in a near whisper.
Madame Pomfrey looked at him solemnly. "He has the worst case of magical exhaustion I've ever seen. At his age, Albus, I… Albus, I'm not sure if I can repair the damage done to his core. He might have lost his ability to perform magic."
"No," McGonagall whispered in horror. "Oh, no, not Lily and James' boy!"
Dumbledore said nothing as he stared at the small boy with great regret in his eyes. The brisk trip to the Hospital Wing was silent as he began to contemplate all that had happened. Dumbledore swallowed thickly before saying quietly, "Minerva, go back to the Great Hall. All students are to be taken to their dormitories at once except for Miss Granger; she is to be brought here so she can be properly treated."
McGonagall nodded sharply before leaving. Dumbledore and Madame Pomfrey reached the Hospital Wing shortly after, the latter barking out potions for Snape to deliver. The greasy haired professor paled ever-so-slightly at the blood, but quickly and efficiently began passing the medi-witch the proper potions.
Madame Pomfrey worked hard and diligently on Harry, fixing his broken ribs and repairing the damage done to his lung. In the time it took to repair everything, it was well into the evening and Hermione had been brought into the Hospital Wing. The young witch was given a Calming Draught and remained sleeping.
The next day, Hermione woke up slowly and completely unaware of her surroundings. She was confused for a few moments before yesterday night's events hit her and she let out a whimper. She trembled slightly and looked around, half-expecting a snarling troll to come after her. Instead, she noticed she was in what looked like a medical area. There were other beds, each looking crisp and undisturbed. The portraits were awake and talking amongst themselves.
"Awake already, young lady?"
Hermione squeaked and turned towards a stern looking matron, clearly frightened. The woman had grey hair pulled away from her face in a bun. Her warm brown eyes crinkled welcomingly, though her lips were pulled in a tight, worried line.
"Where am I?" Hermione asked quietly.
Madame Pomfrey gave her a small smile. "The Hospital Wing, dear. How are you feeling?"
"I…" Hermione bit her lip to try to stop her eyes from tearing. "I don't…"
Madame Pomfrey watched her before nodding in understanding and walking to a potions cabinet. She handed Hermione a small bottle. "It's a Calming Draught, Miss Granger. After the events of last night, it does not surprise me in the least that you're traumatized."
Hermione shakily held the draught up to her lips. It took her a few tries to successfully drink the potion. She immediately felt calmer, like the tight knot inside of her was finally gone, though the tears still trickled out of her eyes.
"I was going to die," she whispered, her eyes wide as she stared at the wall. "If Harry hadn't been… I would've died…"
Madame Pomfrey nodded her head sadly. "I'm terribly sorry this happened to you, Miss Granger. These kinds of occurrences don't frequently happen and the Headmaster is looking into it. Why, the last time we had any kind of security issue was about fifty years ago."
Hermione wiped her tears away. "Where's Harry? He's not… Is he okay?"
Madame Pomfrey's eyes dimmed. "While the physical damage done to him has been healed, the magical damage was…extensive. I'm sorry to tell you this, but Mister Potter is in a coma."
Hermione froze and stared at Madame Pomfrey in disbelief. "A coma? But… I mean, how could he be… why?"
Madame Pomfrey sighed and sat next to Hermione. "Mister Potter used a lot of magic protecting himself last night, Miss Granger. In short, his magical core, which is still developing, could not take the strain. His body is in a coma until his magic can repair itself to a level where he can function with something as simple as everyday tasks."
The words echoed in her head. Hermione's heart was heavy, and her bottom lip quivered. "C-Can I see him? Please?"
The matron paused thoughtfully before she nodded her head. "It must be brief, Miss Granger. He needs peace and quiet to heal, and you yourself have been through a terrible ordeal. I'd like for you to remain in the infirmary for just a bit longer to be sure that you won't have another panic attack."
Hermione nodded her head absentmindedly, still somewhat shocked at what Madame Pomfrey had said. Harry was in a coma? She barely stopped the strangled sound that wanted to escape at the news. Oh, this was all her fault. Maybe if she'd ran faster, or hadn't been in that lavatory at all, then maybe Harry would be perfectly fine right now.
She followed the matron stiffly, her hands clenched tightly. Harry was in a private section of the Hospital Wing. He looked somewhat peaceful, lying in the bed that seemed to swallow him. Hermione never noticed how thin he was. She swallowed thickly; even with his slightly smaller build, he was able to protect her from death.
Hermione walked forward and clasped his hand in hers like it were a lifeline. She tried hard to keep her tears at bay; it didn't do any good crying. Her tears would not awaken Harry from a coma. She waited until Madame Pomfrey left before she began to speak.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, bowing her head. "I'm so sorry, Harry. If I hadn't been there, none of this would have happened."
Harry's hand was a little warm in hers. A little calloused and almost delicate-looking, but Hermione remembered the power he'd wielded last night. He had effortlessly summoned a shield and saved her life. Granted, it didn't last, but the fact that he summoned one at all was astonishingly.
No, Harry Potter was not delicate. He was resilient, and brave, and younger than her. He had persevered where she faltered. He was stronger than her, and yet here he was, in a coma because of overusing his magic.
Probably on that shield, Hermione thought. She looked at him sadly, wanting more than anything for him to wake up. So she could thank him, apologize for endangering his life, anything.
She'd give anything for him to wake up.
Her gut twisted into knots, producing a tingly sensation that traveled throughout her body. Hermione felt sick to her stomach. The tingly sensation spread to her head, and Hermione sighed.
"I'm sorry," she repeated sadly. "I owe you my life, Harry, and I'd do anything for you to wake up right now."
She bent down to brush her lips against Harry's hand.
Madame Pomfrey, who walked in as Hermione was saying her goodbyes, gasped and cried, "Miss Granger, don't!"
It was too late. Hermione's lips connected with the smooth skin of Harry's hand, and the tingly sensation began to travel out of her. Her eyes widened and she tried to pull away, but she couldn't. She was getting tired, feeling weaker. Time flew slowly as the sensation buzzed quicker and quicker and her eyes grew heavier and heavier.
It was finally done. Hermione gasped loudly as she collapsed on the ground, thoroughly drained and exhausted. The last thing she remembered was Madame Pomfrey yelling for someone named Tippy to get the Headmaster.
Then her world went dark.Document created with wvWare/wvWare version 1.2.7