It wasn’t that Harry didn’t want to help the bloke, it was that he’d promised his fathers that he would take good care of their store when they went on vacation for the first time in almost two decades. Sure, they’d taken him on various trips, but they hadn’t taken time just for themselves since they’d adopted him when he was barely a year old.
And the Philosopher’s Stone was one of the rarest items in the whole store. It was so precious that Albus had even combined it with the Mirror of Erised to ensure that only someone truly worthy could acquire and purchase it.
So far, only Albus and Harry could remove the stone - even Gellert had difficulty resisting the temptation. Not that Harry blamed him. It had been created through the sacrifice of thousands of human souls, after all. It sounded positively delicious. But Harry had no interest in immortality or heaps of gold. He’d live long enough as it was, and he’d much rather earn his own gold, thank you very much.
“It would be the right thing to do,” Harry mused. “Papa taught me all about morality.”
Quirrell nodded eagerly.
“But Father taught me better.”
Quirrell let out a sob.
“It’s not that I don’t sympathize with your position, you understand. It’s just that you’re not the right one to own the stone.” He winced at the expression on the man’s face. “Though you might want to figure something out sooner rather than later,” he continued, eyeing the bags under Quirrell’s eyes and the way his hands trembled. “I don’t think you have much time left.”
“You seem to know a lot about demons,” A voice hissed from behind Quirrell.
Harry blinked. “Oh, well, I had a good education, I suppose.”
“Turn around, Quirrell. I wish to speak with him.”
“M-Master…” The man unwound his turban, then turned, revealing a serpentine face protruding from his skull.
Harry tried not to cringe. It looked… uncomfortable. For both of them. “Lord Voldemort,” Harry tilted his head. Because there were only two serpent demons in existence, and one of them would never leave his realm. “Quite the feat, finding your way to the human realm. I’m impressed, I won’t lie. Not many demons make it this far.”
“You know who I am? Then you know that I am no lowly demon,” the spirit hissed.
“No,” Harry’s lips quirked. “No, you are not.”
“You look familiar, human. What is your name?”
Harry blinked. “Name’s Harry. Pleasure to meet you.”
The demon eyed him. “There is something about you,” he murmured. “Have we met before?”
Harry shrugged. “I’m pretty sure I’d remember if we had. Hard to forget a presence like yours.”
Voldemort preened, a smug smirk twisting his lips. “Indeed, I am the most powerful of demons,” he agreed.
Harry nodded with an appropriate amount of awe.
“And yet, you do not seem afraid…”
“Oh, well, you’re not stealing my life force, and I haven’t made any deals with you, so I’m not too worried. Not that you’re not fearsome and scary and all,” he added hastily when the demon narrowed its eyes. “It’s just that, well, I’m just Harry. I run a shop and - er, that’s about it. There’s nothing particularly interesting about me.” Great job, Just Harry. Not suspicious at all.
The demon chuckled. “So you say,” he murmured.
Harry swallowed a little nervously, but did not let his expression give himself away.
“Very well, I will leave you be for now. Quirrell, I do suggest you hurry with your efforts. Time is running out.”
The man whimpered as he redid his turban and scurried from the shop.
Harry sighed as he watched them go. Lord Voldemort, now in the human realm. He ruffled his hair in exasperation. Honestly, he’d been doing such a good job keeping his head down, just as he’d been taught. The less people knew about him, the easier it would be to slip under the radar.
It wasn’t that he needed to hide, per se. It was just… easier. Calmer. And while he didn’t mind a little bit of chaos and destruction every now and then, mostly he wanted to simply enjoy his life.
Of course it was just his luck that Lord Voldemort of all demons came waltzing into the shop, demanding the one item he couldn’t sell. His papa and father leave on their first trip and then this happens? They were going to smother him when they returned…
He supposed he could just let the poor man have the stone, but he also wanted his fathers to be able to trust him to run the store properly. If he just handed out items like they were candy, they’d be very disappointed in him. Just the thought of his Papa’s disappointed expression made his insides curdle. The man may be an angel, but he manipulated like the very best of demons. Father’s destructive anger was far easier to face.
Perhaps, Harry thought a little desperately, Quirrell would simply look elsewhere and they would forget about the stone altogether. Lord Voldemort could easily form a body for himself, as powerful as he was. The demon was just tormenting the poor soul - probably for his own entertainment. So it wasn’t like Harry was making an enemy of the demon or anything.
But if Quirrell was desperate enough - and he probably was, considering he probably only had a few weeks of life left - then he might try and steal it. Which meant Harry needed extra security measures. Papa had never put many up, believing in the goodness of people to keep the shop safe. Father had added a few of his own but was far better at breaking wards than raising them.
Harry groaned and rubbed his face. Why couldn’t everything just stay nice and simple?
Harry woke to the sound of three dogs barking and a shrill scream. He got up with a sigh and grabbed his robe, donning it over his book-patterned pyjamas (a gift from Hermione). He crept downstairs and through the door into the store, then watched in resignation as Fluffy snapped at the ankle of a fleeing Quirrell.
“D’you think I should hire a troll to guard the shop?” Harry asked, scratching the back of his head as he sank down onto the couch in his living room. “I promised Hagrid I’d have Fluffy home by the end of the week, but I’ve had two attempts at robbery so far. Eventually the thief is going to figure out how to get past him.”
“Ron got a Troll on his history exam,” George snickered from where he was sitting next to Fred. “You could just hire him.”
“I’ve got some plants you could use,” Neville offered.
Harry shifted uncomfortably, trying not to think about the last one Neville had shown him. “Does it shoot sap?” He hedged.
“Oh, no, it’ll strangle any intruder, though.”
“Er - maybe I’ll pass. It’s not like I want to kill them…”
Neville shrugged unconcernedly.
“You can’t kill a demon, Harry, only exorcise them back to their realm.” Hermione frowned. “You should know that.”
“I do,” Harry defended. “But he’s riding on the back of some poor bloke’s head.”
“Like a parasite?” she wrinkled her nose.
“Yeah, it’s a little awkward.” He sighed, closing his eyes and leaning back onto the couch.
Neville’s shears snipped away in the background.
“You alright there, mate? Looking a little peaky.” Ron squinted at Harry.
“Just tired,” Harry waved a hand.
“You sure? Maybe you need to eat.”
“Not everyone has an endless stomach like you, Ron.”
“It’s a gift,” Ron nodded sagely.
“But really,” Hermione frowned, “When was the last time you ate?”
Harry blinked. “Macnair.”
“Mate, that was a month ago!”
“I’ve been eating human food…”
“That’s not the same! You’ll get sick if you go for too long without,” Hermione scolded. “You need to take proper care of yourself. What would your fathers say if they saw you neglecting your health like this?”
Harry winced. “You won’t tell them, will you?”
“Not if you keep yourself properly fed.”
“Alright,” he sighed. “I’ll check out the prison tomorrow night. I’m too tired to go out right now.”
Hermione pursed her lips. “I don’t like you hunting such dangerous prey. What if you get hurt?”
Harry shrugged. “Their souls are the most corrupted.” He grinned, his teeth suddenly a little sharper. “They taste the best.”
Hermione rolled her eyes.
“I’ll go as backup,” Ron said, patting her shoulder and winking at Harry.
She nodded reluctantly.
“I can give you a plant to bring along for protection,” Neville offered, finally looking up from his pruning.
Harry eyed the snapping leaves warily. “I think I’ll be alright. Might forget it there if I’m not careful…”
“Alright,” Neville nodded, stroking the plant and avoiding its teeth with disturbing ease.
“Thanks anyway,” Harry said, not wanting to sound ungrateful.
Neville waved him off.
“So,” Hermione picked back up. “What are you going to do about your thief?”
“He’s not my thief, he’s just a thief.”
“I dunno, he’s really only after your store…”
Harry sighed. “I guess you’re right. Maybe I’ll set up some traps or something. Uncle Sev taught me how to make this poison. I could mix that with a redirection spell on the mirror…”
“I thought you didn’t want to kill him?” Fred quirked a brow.
“Oh,” Harry paused. “Right.”
“You’ll think of something,” George assured him.
“I hope so,” Harry said. Though really, if Lord Voldemort actually wanted Quirrell to steal the stone, Harry doubted there was much he could do. He’d just have to hope that Lord Voldemort really was just playing with his victim and did not truly care.