Harry did not
understand how time had gone so fast. It had been weeks since he had
even thought about the stone. This was mainly due to the fact that
Quirrel did not go after the stone until the end of the year so Harry
figured he had time to come up with a plan.
Well, his time had run out. It was the day to go after the stone and he did not quite know how he would go about the task itself. The first time he had gone after the stone, it had been a rather rash decision on his, Hermione, and Ron's parts, albeit one that had turned out well enough in the end.
Now, he did not quite know how he wanted to go after the stone. Well, he knew how to get past all of the obstacles from the first time he beat them, and they would be much easier to defeat now but he didn't know what to do concerning his friends. He didn't know whether to take them along or not.
On the one hand, they were great friends and he didn't want to go without them. When he, Ron, and Hermione had gone after the stone the first time, it had been a great bonding experience albeit one rife with much pain and terror. On the other hand he didn't want to put his friends in danger. They could have died. Also, he would have to hold back a lot of his knowledge if they went with him.
The final reason that they shouldn't go with him is that he did not want Dumbledore to find out what he was up to. He didn't entirely trust the headmaster, and would rather he not know that he was there if he could help it. He planned on finding a different way forcefully evict Voldemort from Quirrel's body. Also, he would rather the stone not be destroyed. It was not really fair that the Flamels died because Dumbledore would use their stone as bait for Voldemort.
No. That decided it. He would go alone and make sure that he would not get hurt. After all, he was much older and wiser than he had been the first time that he had gone after the stone. He would just have to make it up to Hermione and Neville later, even if they didn't know what he was making up for.
It seemed to him as if the night would last forever. Hermione insisted that they talk over their exams till just a few minutes before curfew in the library. Harry knew that she had gotten little if anything wrong, and tried to explain to her that she did fine, but as per usual with Hermione, she would not listen and insisted on going over every question that she could remember.
After an agonizing few hours Harry was finally able to slip back into his common room. There were luckily very few people up and about. He figured that most of them would be enjoying their sleep after a few weeks of grueling exams. Therefore, Harry just slipped into his dorm room and donned his invisibility cloak and slipped right back out. The few sleepy people in the common room did not even notice when the entrance to the common room opened up without anyone visibly coming or going.
After applying charms to muffle his feet and his smell he made his way quickly to the out of bounds third floor corridor. He made it there without any trouble. The only person, be they alive or dead, that he saw was Professor Flitwick who was obviously walking around on his rounds. He was easily avoided.
Now as Harry stood in front of the door leading into the forbidden corridor, part of him could not help but remember what it was like to stand there the first time. Then, he did not know that he was standing on the precipice on the cliff that was what remained of his innocence. That day was the beginning of the first of his yearly adventures that the first time led to his death and the destruction of the world as he knew it.
As he stood there in the place it began he vowed once again that he would not let the same thing happen again. He would not let his friends die. And with that thought he shook off the remainder of his past and that which would no longer be the future and walked through the door.