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The many deaths of Harry Potter

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Unlike Gryffindors. Slytherins were content to wait for the best time to attack an enemy. Harry had to remind himself of that as they filed into the classroom under the watchful eye of the man who had Voldemort in his head.

The entire room reeked of garlic. There was an undertone of rot, a smell which had been barely noticeable the first time Harry had been killed by the man. It was stronger now, even if the scent of Garlic almost overpowered it.

Apparently, hosting Voldemort inside your head wasn't very healthy. Harry couldn't imagine the kind of violation it would be to have his worst enemy inside his head.

“ may address me as Professor Quirrell,” the man said as the last student took their seats. “A..and this is defense against the dark arts.”

The stutter had to be an affectation, doubtless to make the man seem less dangerous, just as the garlic had to be there to cover the smell.

Harry wondered if Voldemort's face was a little like having a zombie sewn to the back of your head. He wondered if Voldemort got sweaty inside that turban.

The idea that Voldemort might get sweat in his eyes and not be able to do anything about it made Harry smirk.

Quirrell had been ignoring him, but he glanced toward Harry who suddenly felt sudden pain radiating from his scar. The pain had begun just as Quirrell looked at him, and it receded when he looked away.

The man hadn't even touched his wand and he'd been able to cause pain without anyone noticing.

Harry made an effort afterward to avoid meeting his eye, even as the lesson proved to be less than inspiring. The man told a story about battling a zombie, but with his maddening stutter the story took twice as long as it should have. He told a nonsensical story about his turban, which none of the other students seemed skeptical about.

Slytherins were supposed to be cunning and suspicious. Harry liked to think that even if he'd never met Quirrell before he'd have been suspicious of him from the very beginning.

He was glad to get out of the classroom, hurrying out without his usual caution which was why he was caught by a spell. He felt his hair falling off his head even as the Gryffindors snickered.

The Slytherins smirked slightly as they passed by him, especially Draco Malfoy. Malfoy had looked offended at his speech the night before and had been more obvious about ignoring him than any of the other Slytherins.

Harry knew better than to rush to a lavatory to check his hair, not with Quirrell staring at him. Being alone would be bad for his health.

Hermione looked horrified, and she looked as though she was going to get up and walk across the room to talk to him, but Harry grimly shook his head. The last thing she needed was to associate herself with him in front of the entire school.

The only consolation was that his accidental magic tended to work very well on hair. Harry fully expected to have hair again by the next morning. In the meantime the breeze against his scalp felt different and interesting.

If the hair didn't return, he wondered if he might start wearing a turban like Quirrell as a way to mock the man.

The worst thing about it was the continual laughter from the Gryffindor table, with pointed glances at him.

The Slytherins didn't say anything. There were occasional glances and smirks, but nothing overt. Some of the Slytherins looked a little uncomfortable with the situation, while others seemed to take a grim delight in smirking where he could see it.

Harry tried to take note of which students fell into each category. The Slytherins who looked uncomfortable weren't just first years. If he was going to get help from anyone, even if it had to be in secret it would be from them.

He couldn't depend on any Gryffindor other than Hermione and Neville, and they were only first years. He could see how the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs viewed the Slytherins as well. They weren't as boisterous in their rejection as the Gryffindors, but they were suspicious.

Harry began to work out a plan. He wouldn't be able to do it on his own; learning only what was going to be taught in class was going to be too slow. He'd be no better than anyone else, and he was going to have to be better.

If he was going to stop the bullying, he had to be strong enough to make people stop.

Given his luck, Quirrell was going to repeatedly kill him, which meant that he couldn't even console himself with the thought that he only had to endure it for seven years.

He might be stuck here for eternity, repeating the same days over and over. Just because he would know when some attacks came didn't mean that other attacks wouldn't occur when the first attacks failed.

Learning to fight back was going to be his first challenge, one he intended to begin learning as quickly as he could.

Transfigurations that afternoon was a revelation. Watching McGonagall transform a desk into a pig and back again, Harry wondered if he'd be able to do something like that to defend himself.

Could you create trained attack pigs, or did they have to be just as stupid as untrained pigs?

Harry had once heard that wild boars were willing to eat people and that spears had to have cross pieces to prevent boars from forcing the spear through their body in attempt to get at the person who'd speared it.

He fantasized for a moment about an army of boars attacking Quirrell.

Unfortunately, it appeared that his army would have to wait for a long time. He wouldn't even be able to create attack gerbils, much less boars.

Instead they spent much of the session on a set of complicated notes. After that they tried to turn a match into a needle.

Only Blaise Zabini was able to make the slightest change in his needle despite a half hour of trying. Harry didn't even come close, and he felt frustrated by this. He was supposed to be some kind of chosen one, and that ought to have come with some benefits, like being a prodigy at magic.

Instead, he was muddling along with the rest of the class even as his enemies continued to plot against him.

His dreams of becoming some kind of wizarding wunderkind didn't seem to be panning out.

Still, of his classes so far charms and transfiguration seemed the most useful. Herbology might be useful once they learned about the more dangerous plants.

Harry suspected that potions might be quite useful, but that wasn't until Friday and flying class came first.

Fortunately, his hair had returned by Thursday morning, just as he had predicted. Malfoy looked almost disappointed.

That didn't stop the redhead, whose name was apparently Weasley from making some comments, along with two or three of the others, whose names he didn't know.

Hermione and Neville tried to give him encouraging smiles, but it wasn't enough to make up for their housemate's jibes.

The brooms looked old and ill used, and Harry wondered if someone had tampered with his broom. If they had there wasn't much he'd be able to do about it. He made sure to be the first one to pick a broom and he did so randomly.

At least Harry's broom leaped into his hand on the first try. When Harry saw that several of the Gryffindors had been less successful, he smirked at them, leading to angry expressions on their face.

He knew it wasn't wide to antagonize them, but at this point none of them knew any more magic than he did. It was the second years and up that he really had to worry about.

The smirk left his face as he saw Neville rising on his broom out of control. As Neville fell he wondered if that was the broom that had been intended for him.

If it had been, it wouldn't have been very effective as Neville was only left with a broken wrist.

Malfoy laughed the moment the professor dragged a crying Neville away, and some of the other Slytherins took part in mocking him.

Harry wasn't sure what to do about it; if he defended Neville he might be making it more difficult for Neville with his own Housemates. Joining in on the ridicule wouldn't seem right.

Keeping quiet was apparently the wrong thing to do as well, because Hermione was looking at him with a disappointed look.

It wasn't until Draco grabbed Neville's Remembrall that Harry decided he had to act. Neville had shown them the Remembrall, which he'd said was a gift from his grandmother. Harry couldn't see how useful it was considering that it didn't even tell you what you didn't remember, but he knew it was important.

“I could use one of those,” he said to Draco.

Draco sneered. “I'm sure you you need to be reminded that you don't have any friends.”

Harry leaned close and said in a low voice, “I think I'll tell everyone just how helpful my good friend Draco has been to buds that we are and all. I'll bet the upper years will be happy to hear about that when they write home to their parents.”

He smirked as Draco's face drained of color.

Being a pariah had it's uses.

Sullenly Malfoy handed the remembrall to Harry, who noted that it turned red the moment it touched his hand. Apparently he'd forgotten something, but he couldn't remember what.

“Apparently you do need a clue, almost as much as Longbottom,” Draco said. He smirked, although it looked forced. “Hope you remember whatever you've forgotten.”

Weasley acted outraged, going as far as to complain to the professor when she returned.

Harry mildly suggested that he had merely been holding it for Neville; from the expressions on the faces of everyone in the crowd, everyone but Hermione thought he was lying.

That was exactly the impression he was hoping to give.

Flying turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable, once he got over his suspicion that his broom was held together by spit and chewing gum.

The day was a success.

Harry only hoped that potions was as successful. Maybe he could learn to make potions that would give Voldemort boils or something.

The only thing that surprised him was that there hadn't been an attempt on his life in days. Harry worried that Voldemort was just waiting for him to let his guard down.

Finally, Friday came, and it was time for potions.

Although Snape was their head of house, Harry hadn't seen him at all in the week since he'd begun school, except at mealtimes where he sat with the other teachers. He'd have thought that the man would be more involved with his students, but maybe he preferred a hand's off approach.

He'd begun to get used to the chill of the dungeons, so the potions classroom didn't seem to bother him at all. Hermione and Neville sat next to him, but unfortunately a number of Gryffindors did so as well.

Snape swept into the room with flowing robes and Harry wondered if the man had theatrical training.

His speech about potions had the sense of being something that was well rehearsed, but Harry still couldn't help but be impressed. Stoppering death sounded like exactly the kind of thing he needed.

“Potter....” Snape asked. “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

“A way to fake your own death,” Harry said. “Or someone else's.”

He'd considered using a potion to fake his own death in the hopes that Voldemort and his cronies would give up looking for him, but Voldemort struck him as the kind who would destroy the body just to be safe. After all, a man who named himself flee from death had to be paranoid.

Snape stared at him for a moment, before asking “What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?”

“They are the same thing,” Harry said. “People think that wolfsbane is just poisonous to werewolves, but it's a pretty effective poison on it's own. If you take very much of it, you'll go numb and your chest will hurt, you'll throw up and you'll have diarrhea.”

For some reason, the Gryffindors around him looked uncomfortable.

“Planning to poison someone, Potter?” Snape asked, looking him directly in the eye.

Harry couldn't help but have a contemplative look on his face. He'd studied the poisons because he was expecting to be poisoned, but he wondered how hard it would be to get to Quirrel's food. It magically appeared from somewhere, but he'd read that food couldn't be created.

The question would be how to poison Quirrel without hurting anyone else.

Harry wondered why it hadn't occurred to him before. He'd never be safe as long as Quirrel was alive, but killing someone was a huge step. He wasn't sure he'd really want to kill someone, no matter how bad they were.

Maybe he could learn how to transfigure him into a doorstop. That way he wouldn't actually have to kill him, but it would get him out of the way.

Snape was looking disconcerted for some reason.

“Where would you look if I told you to find a bezoar?”

“In my pocket,” Harry said without thinking. He grimaced. He hadn't actually wanted anyone to know that he had one.

He pulled it out. “I think it's stupid not to have one. After all, you never know what people are going to put in your food.”

He glanced significantly at the Gryffindors. The Weasley boy had the grace to flush, even though the others didn't seem nearly as embarrassed.

“And if you lost yours?”

“At the apothecary, or the stomach of a goat if I couldn't just buy one.”

“What Potter didn't say was that asphodel and wormwood combine to form the Draught of Living Death. It is a powerful sleeping potion which is used for more than just attempting fraud. Monkshood and wolfsbane are also called aconite, and they are just as poisonous as Potter suggested. A bezoar will save you from most, but not all poisons.”

Snape was silent for a moment before he snapped, “Why isn't anyone writing this down?”

Harry was paired with Hermione for the practical portion of the potions class. Although he felt they were doing reasonably well with their potions, Snape criticized their potion just like he criticized everyone else's except Malfoy.

When Neville's cauldron melted, Harry was the first to react. The potion caused boils to erupt all over Neville's arms and legs, and it was melting some of the Gryffindors' shoes.

As Snape ranted about adding the porcupine quills before taking the cauldron off the fire, Harry began taking notes.

Potions could be dangerous, and apparently misbrewed potions could even become weapons.

If he could only find a way to bottle it, Harry would love to pour Neville's potion down Quirrel's back.

“Potter!” Snape said. “Take Longbottom to the hospital wing.”