An Alternate Chain of Events

Chapter 12 - The Philosopher's Stone

Hello! This is the penultimate chapter of this volume but i have started work on the next part! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter Twelve – The Philosopher's Stone

"We'd better put the Cloak on here, and make sure that it covers all three of us – if Filch spots one of our feet wandering along on its own –"

"What are you doing?" said a voice from the corner of the room. Neville appeared from behind an armchair, clutching Trevor the toad, who looked as though he'd been making another bid for freedom.

"Nothing, Neville, nothing," said Harry, hurriedly putting the Cloak behind his back.

Neville stared at their guilty faces.

"You're going out again," he said.

"No, no, no," said Hermione. "No, we're not. Why don't you go to bed, Neville?"

Harry looked at the grandfather clock by the door. They couldn't afford to waste any more time, Snape might even now be playing Fluffy to sleep.

"You can't go out," said Neville, "you'll be caught again, Gryffindor will be in even more trouble."

"You don't understand," said Harry, "this is important."

Harry turned to Hermione.

"Do something," he said desperately.

Hermione stepped forward.

"Neville," she said, "I'm really, really sorry about this."

(J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)

Sirius and Emilia arrived outside James and Lily's cottage. It was pitch black and all the lights were off.

"JAMES!" Sirius banged on the door. "LILY! JAMES!"

"Sirius, it's one in the morning, keep your voice down." She couldn't admit to him that one of her concerns was her husband hearing his voice.

Sirius was taking no notice. He was just about to blast the door off when James opened it. His hair was even more ruffled than usual and he didn't have his glasses on.

"It's one in the morning." James yawned, but Sirius pushed past him into the house and Emilia followed. "What's going on with you two?"

"That's not important right now." Sirius waved his concern away. "I just got this letter from Harry."

James snatched the parchment out of his hands, shouting "LILY!" She came running in just as James had finished the note.

Sirius,

I don't have much time to write. Snape is going to steal the Philosopher's Stone hidden in the castle and only Ron, Hermione and me can stop him. Dumbledore isn't at the school and this is his best chance.

If something was to happen to us, I just needed you to know that it was Snape that was responsible. You need to get him before he can use it. I just know he's dangerous.

Sorry I didn't tell you this before.

Tell mum and dad I love them.

Harry.

"What is he doing?" James shouted. "In the time that message has taken to get here he could be-"

"Don't say that." Lily stopped him urgently. "We need to go to Hogwarts now. Sirius can you send a message to Dumbledore?" Lily waved her wand to summon her clothes and they were out of the door in minutes.

"I'll stay here and wait for news." Sirius called as they disappeared into thin air. "You should go home to your husband."

Emilia shook her head. Sirius was as white as a sheet and pacing. "I'm not leaving you. I'm not leaving you ever again." She held his hand and then went to make them both a cup of tea. She'd deal with Caius in the morning.

Emilia looked into the dark sky as she waited for the kettle to boil. She could just make out a dark shape approaching the window.

"Sirius!" She called. "There's an owl!"

He sprinted into the kitchen and caught the letter. "If this is from Lily and James it was bloody quick." Sirius's dark eyes scanned the page, and his face visibly relaxed.

"Is it from Lily and James?"

"No." Sirius smiled in relief. "It's Dumbledore. The kids are ok."

He sat down at the kitchen table, suddenly very tired. It'd been quite an eventful night.

Lily and James apparated into the dark, empty streets of Hogsmeade and sprinted up the lane to the school. To their great surprise Hagrid was waiting for them at the gate.

"Professor Dumbledore told me yeh'd be coming." Hagrid unlatched the gate. "Harry's fine."

They were out of breath from their run, Lily felt like she could have collapsed under her relief.

"What on earth happened?" James asked, clutching a stitch in his side. "What's all this about the Philosopher's Stone?"

If it hadn't have been dark, they would have seen Hagrid blushing crimson. "Well yeh see, Harry, Ron and Hermione figured out that the Philosopher's Stone was being kept in the castle, and they thought tha' Professor Snape was trying to get it."

The events over the last few months were sliding into place in James's head as they followed Hagrid up to the school.

"Harry thought that Severus was trying to steal the Stone?" Lily asked in amazement. "It's not true is it, Hagrid?"

"Nah." Hagrid shook his head. "It was Quirrell who was after it."

"What?" James said in surprise. "Harry said he was, well, a bit pathetic."

"Dumbledore'll be able to tell yehs more." Hagrid said. "All I know is tha' Harry stopped Quirrell before he could get it and he's in the hospital wing unconscious." Hagrid felt riddled with guilt. "This is all my fault. I let slip about Flamel when they found Fluffy."

"Fluffy?" James asked, he had a sinking suspicion that this wouldn't be a bunny rabbit.

"It's a long story yeh see." Hagrid told them everything on their way up to Dumbledore's office: how the kids found the three headed dog, how they figured out what it was guarding and how they'd been convinced all year that Snape was after it despite Hagrid telling them that it was ridiculous. By the end of the story Hagrid was sobbing, saying it was all his fault and that he'd understand if they never wanted anything to do with him again.

"Oh Hagrid, it's not your fault." Lily consoled him. "You told him to stop. I just can't believe that he didn't tell us anything about this!"

"He asked me before he went back after Easter why I hated Snape so much." James admitted. "This must have been why."

They opened the doors into the Entrance Hall and walked up the main staircase.

"He's a good lad." Hagrid said gruffly. "Brave, like. He and his friends, they, helped me out of a tigh' spot a few weeks back."

"Yes. He told me about that one." James smiled knowingly at Hagrid, who looked decidedly embarrassed.

"Well, he's had quite the first year, hasn't he?" Lily sighed. "I just don't understand why he didn't tell us?"

"Would you have believed him? I wouldn't have." James said fairly. "And he was right."

As they neared Dumbledore's office paintings started to wave to James in acknowledgement. Now they weren't paralysed with fear about Harry, they could appreciate they were back in the wonderfully familiar Hogwarts.

"Sugar Quill." Hagrid said when they reached Dumbledore's office, and James and Lily stepped on the spiral staircase.

"Thank you Hagrid." Lily said, as the friendly giant faded from their view.

James knocked twice on Dumbledore's office.

"Come in." Dumbledore watched as the couple made their way into the office. "I would say good evening, or perhaps it is morning at this hour, but I fear my tidings are grave."

The relief they'd temporarily felt in Hagrid's company quickly evaporated. "Is Harry seriously injured?" Lily jabbered. "I'm a trained healer, I should go to see him there may be something I can do."

"Lily, Lily." Dumbledore replied quickly. "My sincerest apologies. I did not mean to frighten you. Harry will be fine; he is currently unconscious in the hospital wing. He has only superficial damage, Madam Pomfrey is completely confident that he will make a full recovery." Dumbledore said earnestly. "Please take a seat." Dumbledore waved his wand and transfigured the two straight-backed wooden chairs in front of his desk into a squashy floral two-seated couch. "We may as well be comfortable at this late hour."

James and Lily did as they were requested. The sofa was exceptionally comfortable. "What happened Albus?" James asked wearily.

"As, no doubt, Hagrid will have told you, it was our own Professor Quirrell who attempted to steal the Stone. What Hagrid, nor anyone else apart from Harry, doesn't know is that he was doing so on the orders of Lord Voldemort." Dumbledore recounted Voldemort's place in Quirrell's body and how he had attempted to force Harry to steal the Stone for him.

"Harry fought him off?" Lily said faintly. She felt sick. Even though she knew Harry was alive, the idea of that monster in the vicinity of her son made the bile rise in her throat. She could feel her whole body shaking.

"He did. He did marvellously."

James felt as though his brain had stopped working. This was their biggest fear, it was what they'd been fighting against ever since Harry was born. It was all starting again and they hadn't even known. "Is he back?"

"No." Dumbledore said. "Harry has thwarted him for now. But I fear that time is nearing us." Dumbledore observed Lily and James, their faces were a mixture of terror and pride. "Harry's done exceedingly well."

"Here, here!" Various portraits from around the room cheered.

"He's not your average eleven year old." Dumbledore added.

"No," Lily sighed. "He's certainly not."

"He thought it was Snape." James told Dumbledore. "He was so suspicious of him! I don't know why I didn't see that Harry was up to something."

"Severus has been doing his best to protect Harry all year." Dumbledore looked directly at James. "His attitude towards Harry is more a reflection on his feelings towards yourself, James. Harry does look extraordinarily like you."

Lily looked at Dumbledore who gave her a small smile. Her old friend still cared for her, and he had tried to save her son, this meant more to Lily than she would ever be able to make James understand.

"When can we see Harry?" Lily asked.

"I will notify you the moment he is conscious." Dumbledore said. "As that may be a while, I suggest you two get some rest. I have sent a message to Madam Rosmerta and she will be delighted to receive you. Harry may take a day or so to come back around, but I can assure you that he is under excellent care."

"Thank you Albus." Lily hugged the venerable old man. "For everything."

"We're very grateful." James shook his hand. "I'm sorry if I've been abrupt this last year."

"It was perfectly understandable, and may I say your instincts were particularly acute." Dumbledore gave James a twinkling smile. "If I may, I would like to talk to Harry. I am sure he'll have questions and ones that must be answered to an acceptable degree."

"So we're not going to tell him yet?" Lily checked.

"I think it would be wise not too. Let him remain a child a little longer. The time will present itself in due course."

The Potters agreed. They were so tired they felt as though they could barely stand. At the bottom of the spiral staircase, Lily started towards the Entrance Hall but James held her back. "Come on, I know a shortcut."

It took Harry three days to come around. James and Lily had stayed in Hogsmeade and sat with him every day. On the third day they took a long walk around the Hogwarts grounds before Madam Pomfrey would permit them into the hospital wing.

They saw the giant squid lift a tentacle out of the black lake and splash a group of teenagers sat on the grass bank.

"They could be us fourteen years ago." Lily nodded to the group now drying their robes with their wands.

"Fourteen years." James whistled. "It's been nice being back here, hasn't it?"

"Standing over our unconscious child everyday has been wonderful, it's almost like we're on holiday isn't it?"

James laughed. "You know what I mean. Being back in the castle, it's like going home after spending years away."

"I understand." Lily smiled. They walked hand in hand past Hagrid's cabin and came just out of the Whomping Willow's danger zone.

James's grin spread across his face. "Lil, do you fancy-"

"No."

"Oh come on, no one would find out! We could get there and back really quickly."

"Still no."

"Lily Evans never breaks the rules." He taunted.

"Shut up Potter."

They both laughed, and James put his arm round her shoulders as they made their way up to the great castle.

Severus Snape exited the castle as Lily and James walked towards it. Snape's whole body twitched as he frantically looked for a way to avoid contact with them, but there was nowhere to escape to. He was stuck. He could feel his palms start to sweat, and it had nothing to do with the warm day, he tried to wipe them on his black robes. He must stay composed.

The Potters spotted Snape when they were meters away from him.

"Behave." Lily muttered, she grasped James's hand as a way of keeping him from doing something stupid.

"Severus." Lily said warmly. "It's been such a long time."

Snape didn't understand why she had to look at him like that. She was so full of warmth and welcome but not love. Snape could love her for the rest of his existence and she'd never feel the same way, and yet he could never stop loving her or saving her.

"Lily." Snape inclined his head and he allowed the corners of his mouth to slip into a half smile.

"Thank you." James said earnestly. "Dumbledore told us that you've been watching out for Harry. We're very grateful." James held out his hand but Snape didn't take it. He just nodded and passed them as he continued into the grounds.

"He's still a git," said James, as soon as Snape was out of earshot.

Lily watched Snape walk across the grass and she was filled with regret. "He's just a very misunderstood person."

They'd barely made it into the castle before a silver phoenix with Dumbledore's voice carried the message, "he's awake."

"It's about time," said James, and they wandered up to the hospital wing.

Ron and Hermione were loitering outside the closed doors of the hospital wing. Dumbledore had told them that he would like a word with Harry before anyone else saw him and they had agreed to wait outside.

Although both were covered in cuts and scratches, they had not stayed in the hospital wing more than a night. When they were released they had been summoned to see Dumbledore. Hermione was certain that they were going to be expelled.

"We broke about a thousand school rules," she had hissed to Ron as Professor McGonagall had led them to Dumbledore.

"We helped save the stone from Quirrell." Ron hissed back. "He probably wants to give us a medal."

"I don't think that's quite likely, Weasley." McGonagall said curtly. Hermione looked stricken but Ron saw that McGonagall was smiling.

Both children were awed as they sat opposite Dumbledore in his circular office.

"I'm pleased to see that you are both doing well." He had said, eyes twinkling. He didn't seem remotely annoyed, Hermione felt herself relax. "Harry remains unconscious, but not to worry, he'll back with us soon enough." Dumbledore surveyed them both from behind his half moon spectacles. "I would like to reinforce that your actions were extremely dangerous, and all of you could have been killed." Both Ron and Hermione looked at their laps, unable to meet his eyes. "But without your bravery and skill, a very powerful object would have fallen into the wrong hands." They looked up in humble surprise. "On behalf of the wizarding community, I would like to thank you both heartily. And perhaps, to remind you to exercise caution with courage in the future."

Neither of them had expected such a warm response from their headmaster. Dumbledore's words were more precious to them than a mountain of gold.

"I hope Harry's alright." Hermione said anxiously, pacing outside the hospital wing door.

"Dumbledore has already told us that he's fine." Ron said in an exasperated voice.

"I just wish we could see him. Then we could tell him what happened."

"Dumbledore will do that." Ron replied. "Calm down Hermione, everything is going to be fine now."

They heard footsteps approaching them followed by voices.

"- I just mean that I don't think I've ever been in there without being in trouble." A man's voice said. "I half expected a detention and a lecture about how I'm wasting my potential."

"Sometimes I swear your mental age stopped at sixteen." A woman's voice answered.

"I think yours started at thirty-five."

"I did not act middle aged at school!"

"You never got a single detention."

"I did!" The woman said indignantly.

"Oh yes, that one in fifth year." The man replied sardonically. "I forgot that you were quite the rebel."

"And you wonder why we didn't get along at school?" The woman said as they turned the corner and came into view of Ron and Hermione.

Hermione was startled for a moment. It was a red haired woman holding hands with a much taller version of Harry. As the pair came closer Hermione noticed that although the man had the same messy black hair and glasses, he did not have a scar on his forehead, and that Harry's green eyes belonged to the red haired woman. These must be his parents.

"Hello Ron." James said jovially.

"Hello." Ron said nervously. "This is Hermione."

"Hello," Lily smiled. "It's nice to meet you, we've heard a lot about you from Harry."

"We're his mum and dad by the way." James added.

"You three have had quite the adventure." Lily said, watching them both look at their shoes. "Are you alright?"

"We're fine." Ron said quickly and before he could say anything else Hermione cut in.

"We're so sorry. We know we shouldn't have done it and that it was really dangerous, and we're sorry that Harry is still in the hospital wing."

"Hermione," Lily said kindly. "You don't need to apologise. We know that you two didn't exactly lead Harry there kicking and screaming. It was very brave of you all. We're just thankful you're alright."

"You're not mad?" Ron said in surprise.

"We're relieved." Lily said honestly.

"And a bit impressed." James added. Lily gave him a look which plainly said don't encourage them! "Not that you should pull these stunts every week or anything."

Lily snorted with laughter. "Just be careful in future."

"You're not going to tell our mums though, are you?" Ron checked.

"I can't guarantee Dumbledore won't have already written to them," James replied. "But I have a feeling your dad may have intercepted it."

Ron looked up in relief. "Thank you!"

At that moment, Dumbledore stepped out of the double doors. Ron and Hermione told them they'd visit Harry later and left for dinner.

"He's perfectly fine." Dumbledore reassured Lily and James. "I have told him about Voldemort and Quirrell. I must admit, he did a remarkable detective's job with this whole process."

"Those three are going to be a lot of trouble." James grinned.

"It would certainly seem like it so far." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "I won't delay you anymore, Harry's expecting you."

Harry was sat up in bed. He was aching and disorientated from being asleep for so long, but otherwise he was in remarkable health considering his ordeal. When his parents walked into the hospital wing their faces were unreadable. He wasn't sure how much trouble he'd be in and wasn't that anxious to find out. Dumbledore hadn't given anything away either, he had just told Harry it would be better to get it over with.

"So, how are you?" Harry ventured as Lily and James pulled up chairs.

"Not bad." James nodded.

"Can't complain." Lily agreed.

"I'm sorry?" Harry ventured again and to his relief he saw the corners of their mouths twitching. "I know it was dangerous and stupid and risky, but I was right and the only reason I didn't tell you was because I thought that you wouldn't believe me."

"Well you were wrong about Professor Snape." Lily pointed out.

"But that was the only part." Harry argued. "And in my defence he's horrible enough to be working for Voldemort." Lily and James didn't respond to that comment. "I'm sorry I worried you, but I'm not sorry for what I did."

"You shouldn't be." Lily said quietly.

"It was extremely brave." James added. "Ridiculously stupid and suicidal, but very brave."

"You're not angry?" Harry checked to make sure.

"How can we be angry?" Lily smiled. "But in the future if you could not do things like that we'd really, really, appreciate it."

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