The days following the quidditch match went much the
same as they had the first time around for Harry and company. The
weather soon turned exceedingly cold, and by mid December, there was
several feet of snow covering all of Hogwarts.
The Weasley twins also once again took the snow as an indication that Quirrel's turban needed enchanted snowballs hitting it. They once again got into trouble, and didn't really care. Meanwhile Harry thought it was hilarious. If only he could see the look on Moldy Short's face as it was hit time and time again with the snowballs.
As Harry rolled upon the ground in laughter, unable to stop, his friends were wondering what was so funny. He couldn't tell them of course, so he just said that he thought the Weasley twins were hilarious. They obviously didn't quite believe him, but let it go.
During this time, most of the castle became cold, and nobody dawdled in the hallways which were the coldest parts of the castle. Harry, Neville, and Hermione spent most of their days in the warm, cozy library. While there they mainly studied,but they looked for information on a certain someone as well.
Yes Hermione was driving them a bit bonkers with her single or rather in this case dual minded determination to find the info that they wanted. Their main purpose was to study for the end of term exams.
Hermione had made up study schedules and they were all following them rather diligently. Harry knew that it wouldn't do to irritate Hermione while she was so stressed out over exams. Also, all of them studying together meant that Neville was doing much better in his classes, and Harry felt that he would do much better in exams this time around.
The other thing that they were researching was of course the illusive Nicholas Flamel. They spent whatever time they could, which was admittedly little, perusing the table of contents in books for any mention of the man.
Harry was still quite silent about the subject, and so they made no headway. It was frustrating Hermione. Neville too was beginning to get frustrated. Harry hated seeing them like this and decided that if they didn't figure out who he was by the time they had the last time, then he would point Hermione towards the correct book.
That settled, the rest of the days till the holidays passed quickly. The exams came and went, and they all did well even in potions though not as good as they should have due to Snape still being biased against Gryffindors.
Harry could tell as soon as Malfoy heard about how well Hermione had done. His face turned red and he glared in their direction. Harry just smiled and waved. He would leave well enough alone till the end of the year. After all, Hermione might have just been lucky, or at least that is what Malfoy might say. He would give Draco time to get used to the idea that maybe just maybe Hermione was smarter than him.
They also once again ran into Hagrid as he was bringing Christmas trees up to the great hall. They went along with him. The great hall was just as magical as Harry remembered it from his first Christmas at Hogwarts.
With permission from Professor McGonagall, they spent the rest of the day in the great hall helping with the trees. Harry and Neville had both wanted a break from the library and all it took was being told that she would learn some new spells to convince Hermione to stay. She wasn't in Ravenclaw for no reason after all.
So they passed the rest of a pleasant day in the great hall helping the teachers with the Christmas decorations. They learned the spell to transfigure things into Christmas baubles which they were able to pick up rather quickly to McGonagall's surprise and delight. They also had the elves bring up some popcorn and they strung some together by hand. By the time they were finished, the great hall looked grand. All and all, it was a splendid afternoon.
Harry once again signed up to stay at Hogwarts over the holidays, and Hermione and Neville did not. They felt rather bad about it, but Harry convinced them that he would be alright. The Weasleys would be there after all, and now that they and Ron were on friendly terms he wouldn't be all alone on Christmas. This was important because no one should be alone on Christmas.
So the day that the Hogwarts Express left for London and King's Cross station, the three friends said their goodbyes rather reluctantly. Harry waved to them even as the thestral drawn carriages went around a bend and out of sight. Harry sighed. He would miss them.
Harry had gotten so used to having his friends around once again. He feared he would have nightmares now that they were not around even if it was only for a few weeks. His fears were confirmed that very night.
“Harry we have got to go!” shouted a barely twenty four year Hermione Granger at a twenty three year old Harry Potter. “We must! Can't you see that?!”
“Hermione. Calm down.” said Harry.
“Calm down. Calm down! You want me to calm down when there are people out there right now dying by the thousands! This could be our chance Harry. There might be something there to help us. We are running out of time! If we don't find something soon then we will all be joining Ron...” and here she broke off sobbing.
A twenty three year old Neville Longbottom went to comfort here. They were all very much scarred both physically and emotionally. The loss of her boyfriend Ron had hit Hermione especially hard, and she was still hurting especially because it was only four months after Ron's death.
Harry sat in what was known as his war room in a cave not far from where Hogsmeade had once stood, it was in fact the same one that Sirius had once stayed in, which felt like forever ago. Hermione did have a point. Voldemort was only getting stronger everyday, and if there was something in the library that could help them, then they needed to find it now before any more people died. Harry came to his decision.
“Fine.” he said.
“What?” said Hermione still crying.
“I said fine. You are right. We need any advantage that we can get. Therefore, you can go but you won't be going alone.” stated Harry.
“Oh thank you Harry!” exclaimed Hermione.
“Neville will go with you. Unfortunately we cannot spare anyone else.” Harry continued. “You will get in and get out as quickly as possible you understand.”
“Yes Harry.” Both said. “We will be back before you realize we have left.” Hermione said.
They packed up and were soon on their way.
Twenty four hours later they still had not returned and Harry was worried. They should have been back hours ago. He decided that he had to check it out for himself.
He left his second of command in charge of the place, and then disillusioned himself. He then apparated a few blocks away from where the library stood or had once stood as he soon found out. As soon as he arrived, he heard a boom and saw smoke from the direction of the library.
He hurried there as fast as he could. As he arrived his heart crumbled. The building had collapsed and there was smoke filling the air. He quickly cast a bubble head charm and walked closer to the ruins. Just a few minutes later the smoke cleared and Harry's heart sunk once again.
There above what was left of the building was the dark mark floating in the air with its snake disappearing into the skull and coming back out again. Harry wanted nothing more to shout for his friends, but knew that death eaters might still be around, so he didn't.
Harry cast a spell to detect human presences, and found that there were none. While he was glad that there were no death eaters in the area, the results also meant that either Hermione and Neville were captured and taken away or that they were dead. Harry did not know which was worse.
He set upon the task of removing rubble to see if he could find what was left of his friends. It was just as the sun was setting that he found them, and he starting crying silently. They were indeed dead, and had fought very hard if the fifteen or so dead death eaters around them was any indication. He cried and cried for them.
And with that eleven year old Harry Potter woke up. He was crying just as vigorously as he had then. It took him a few minutes to remember where he was at. He was quite shaken. With the death of those two, his last close friends were gone.
He hadn't been the same since. He had fought even harder in their memories, but there was always a sadness that had hung about him. That had been the last time that he had cried in the previous timeline.
Harry knew that he would never be able to get back to sleep and so he very carefully made his way to the kitchens. He could have called for a house elf he knew, but he needed a walk to clear his head. After avoiding both Filch and Professor McGonagall, who were both patrolling near the entrance to the Hufflepuff common room, his head certainly was a bit clearer and he was soon tickling the pear to get into the kitchen.
Who he found shocked him a bit. As he entered, Professor Snape looked up from where he was sitting with a cup of tea. Their eyes met briefly.
“Potter.” Said Professor Snape. “What are you doing out of bed?”
“I just wanted a cup of hot chocolate professor.” explained Harry. “I just woke up from a nightmare, and I needed something to calm my nerves.”
“And you came here instead of the hospital wing why exactly?” asked the professor.
“Well.” said Harry hesitantly, “I didn't want to bother Madam Pomfrey sir.” said Harry. In actuality, Harry did not go to the hospital wing because he had had nightmares before and knew that calming draughts did not help him. He also did not feel like explaining as he was having to do now.
“Even so Mr. Potter, that is what Madam Pomfrey is there for. You should not feel bad about bothering her.” said Snape.
“Yes sir. I will keep that in mind.” replied Harry. The elves then came and brought him his requested mug of hot chocolate.
Curious Snape asked, “Do you have nightmares often Mr. Potter?”
“On occasion sir. Though none recently.” replied Harry truthfully.
“I see. Well just remember what I said about Madam Pomfrey the next time you have a nightmare Mr. Potter.” said the professor.
“Yes sir.” said Harry finishing his drink.
“Now Mr. Potter you will come with me and I will give you a calming draught.” said Snape.
Seeing from his continence that he would bare no arguments, Harry followed the professor to his office where he was given a vial of calming draught. Harry took the potion as the professor looked on. Harry then said good night to the professor and was turning to leave when he had an idea. Turning to the professor, he asked if it was OK if he got him a Christmas present.
Looking shocked all the while, he asked Harry if he was sure. Harry was, and so Professor Snape said that that was fine if he wanted too. Harry left with a smile on his face.
~~~~~~~~~~~~NTTMP~~~~~~~~~~~~ Christmas morning soon arrived. Harry was all alone in his dorm as everyone else from Hufflepuff had gone home. Harry didn't mind though. He was able to sleep in a bit, even on Christmas.
When he awoke, it was a bit shocking to see Christmas presents on the end of his bed. He had expected it but still. He had only been in this timeline for about five months and that things like Christmas were still celebrated still shocked him. He hadn't been able to celebrate Christmas since his sixth year.
He got the same flute from Hagrid, but that was one of only two presents that were the same. Instead of candy, Hermione had sent him a book about defense and he also got a book about plants from Neville. Harry was a little disappointed that he had gotten nothing from Mrs. Weasley, but that was to be expected seeing as he wasn't as close to Ron as he had been in the previous timeline.
The final gift was of course his father's invisibility cloak from Dumbledore with the same note enclosed. Harry packed the cloak carefully away. He didn't need to use it anymore seeing as he could make himself invisible just fine, but he was glad to have it anyway if only because it was his father's and a deathly hallow.
Supper came and was just as magnificent as Harry remembered. He enjoyed it immensely and seeing as he was the only Hufflepuff, he sat beside Ron at the Gryffindor table. He had fun pulling crackers and laughed when Dumbledore swapped his hat for a flowered bonnet once again.
He nodded to Snape when he looked at him. He had given Snape a copy of a very rare potions book that he had found in his parent's vault. He hoped that Snape had liked it. He was sure he did, even though he was giving him scrutinizing looks every so often. It was soon time for bed, and Harry escaped to his common room.
He was going to go to sleep when his mind drifted towards the mirror of Erised. Harry thought about it and decided that Dumbledore probably wanted him to go exploring which was why he had given Harry the cloak now instead of when he was older. He didn't want to get Dumbledore more suspicious, so he took the cloak to see the mirror of Erised.
It wasn't very hard to find the room, and once he did he rather reluctantly stepped in front of the mirror. In it he saw an older version of himself surrounded by his friends. It was obvious that Voldemort was defeated, and that they were happy.
Harry quickly left the room, and made his way back to the Hufflepuff common room. He vowed to never go back to the mirror, and to work as hard as he could to make what he saw in the mirror reality. He knew that he could only be able to if he worked for it. Nothing good would come from wasting away in front of the mirror, wishing for his dreams to come true. He was soon asleep.