Harry Potter, Self-Insert @15redstones
Elemental Experimentation

Author's Note: I'm really sorry that it took this long to write this chapter. I was pretty busy studying for my chemistry exam.

Christmas was nice. Lots of presents were given and received, mostly books regarding friends from Ravenclaw.

Hermione gave me a VHS of Back to the Future II with a note asking about my 2015. I'm not quite comfortable sharing too much information though, I have absolutely no idea how I'd even begin explaining the entire "fictional universe" issue. So I summed it up as "no flying cars, but Biff was spot on".

Unfortunately I didn't get the electron microscope that I asked Sirius to buy me the day before, but I did get an ever-full water bottle, which could be useful.

I had also sent Dumbledre some socks and Snape a copy of John D. Clark's Ignition!, a history of the most volatile chemicals known to mugglekind.

Fred and George got books about economics and I got pranked in return (no details, sorry, very embarrassing).

And that was pretty much it. No mysterious packages with powerful artefacts and unsigned notes. And no penny from the Dursleys. They must've forgotten me.

-HP-HP-HP-

A day later, we were surprised with Albus Dumbledore rushing out of our Floo. So he noticed that something was missing. Took long enough.

"Merry Christmas, Sirius, always good to see you again, can I see Harry?"

"I'm here. Hello, Professor! Did anything happen?"

Dumbledore cast a complicated looking privacy spell. Or at least I think that that's what he did.

"Harry, the Philosopher's Stone is gone. Did you have anything to do with it?", Dumbledore asked calmly. (Yes, calmly. Not shouting at me or anything like that.)

"Short answer, yes, and it's safe. But before you say anything, just hear me out: You had it guarded by a cerberus, which any muggle proficient in mythology knows are vulnerable to music, a plant that anyone with basic herbology knowledge knows is vulnerable to fire and any muggle with a blowtorch could bypass, a locked door with the key in the same room which any muggle with lockpicks could get through, a game of chess that any muggle computer could easily defeat nowadays, a troll which any muggle with a gun could kill, and a riddle that anyone with basic logic could pass. I'm sorry, but given the fact that a well equipped muggle could get through the entire thing in ten minutes, I just couldn't not do anything about it. Not when our entire plan was based on Quirrel not getting through."

Dumbledore sighed.

"The first traps weren't supposed to be secure, they were supposed to slow down Voldemort so I could catch him. The final chamber was supposed to be impenetrable. Of course, I had not considered the possibility of an elf who is not one of the Hogwarts elves apparating in. Despite that unfortunate oversight on my side, it was highly irresponsible of you to just make off with the Stone instead of telling me about the security flaw you found."

"Look, I know it wasn't ideal, but I think the problem was that you didn't tell me about the entire plan. You just told me that it was secure, and initially I took your word for it, but when I tested it what I found wasn't what I expected. If I had known that the previous tasks were supposed to delay only, then I'd have known that the house elf apparition was the only real flaw, but because I didn't know that I assumed that the entire thing was just bad security all the way through, I assumed that fixing that would be a big project that would take a lot of time and that we should do after the holidays, and so I decided to move the bait into my own secure location. And, well, when I found out just what it was I had there I couldn't not want to spend the holidays examining it. That's just the Ravenclaw curiosity in me. I'm sorry for not telling you, I wanted to send an owl earlier but didn't know what to say."

"Maybe you could have begun by telling me where you put the Stone."

Wait a moment!

"What was the first thing I said when I entered your office?"

"You asked if you were in trouble for leaving the Dursleys. And while I appreciate the caution, that wasn't really necessary. I have taken steps to make it impossible for anyone to impersonate me through polyjuice."

"Good to know. Kreacher, please tell Professor Dumbledore here the secret. Correct Horse Battery Staple."

Kreacher appeared, spent a minute casting elf magic on me, then repeated the procedure on Dumbledore, who watched with curiosity.

"Okay, Kreacher does not think Young Master Harry is being coerced, and Kreacher cannot detect anything suspicious on anyone present, so Kreacher is allowed to say it. Harry James Potter's Secret Room is the third room on the right in the basement of Number 12, Grimmauld Place."

"A Fidelius?"

"Of course. Sirius knows how to cast it. It was a bit tricky to get it to work properly using an elf as secret keeper, but with him under strict orders to not tell people unless I ask him to it should be pretty safe."

Actually I've had that room for quite some time, just in case I needed to hide something.

While we walked downstairs to the lab room, I mentioned some of the things I had found out.

"By the way, I did make some interesting observations. Take a look at this."

"What is it?"

"An X-ray image of the Stone. Did you know it has a hexagonal internal crystal structure that can't be seen from the outside? Fascinating, isn't it? If you could contact Nicholas Flamel, I'd prefer to give the Stone back in person after we're done with using it as bait and show him all the things I found out."

That seemed to have awakened the researcher in Dumbledore.

"Original research in alchemy, at age eleven…", he muttered, studying the pictures. "You know, I did some research on the Stone when I was young, well, not as young as you but when I first worked with Nicholas."

"Did you make gold? Did you find the curse?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "I made one twentieth of an ounce, once, against Perenelle's warning, and suffered for weeks for it. My hands got injured, as if burned from the inside, my hair fell out and I got so sick I couldn't think straight from the headache, I learnt my lesson and never tried again. Nicholas said he had it similar but worse when he first experimented with it, and if not for the Elixir he'd have died."

That sounds even worse than how Hermione said the book described it. And why did the Elixir cure the symptoms? I had assumed the effects were only the anti aging that Flamel reported.

"Hm, I made 100 milligrams and I feel just fine."

"You did what?"

I showed Dumbledore my timer-triggered lead dispenser.

"Interesting. You had a machine perform the transmutation. I did not think of that. And no curse on you?"

"No. It does seem like we have one hint: Distance plays a role. If you're not there, you don't get cursed. Since it's an unintentional side-effect and not an intelligently designed curse it was unlikely that it'd have a sophisticated targeting system capable of finding out who built the mechanism."

"I hope you didn't curse a random muggle walking by, Harry. You are in the middle of London."

Shit. I never even thought of that.

"Uh, I hope not. If that had happened, someone could have used it to find out that the Stone is here, so the Fidelius should have prevented it, right?"

If the curse targets the closest person, then it might actually be a pretty interesting "Power he knows not" against Voldemort: Fill a bigger-on-the-inside bag with as much lead as possible, add the Philosopher's Stone on a timing mechanism, owl the bag to your enemy and you have what's effectively a curse-timebomb. Since the strength of the gold curse scales with how much gold you make and a few small flakes are enough to make someone sick, a few kilos should be more than enough to ensure Voldemort has a very, very bad day. It'd require you to mail the Philosopher's Stone to him though, so not very practical. Unless Flamel has a way of producing more Stones? Maybe you could put a curse-bomb on a missile delivery system, or portkey it in…

That particularly dark train of thought got interrupted when Hermione came rushing into my lab.

"Merry Christmas, Miss Granger."

"Eep! Professor Dumbledore!"

Oh right, I don't think she's ever actually met him, besides seeing him at the teacher's table. Casually talking to one of the world's most powerful wizards takes some getting used to.

"Hermione, he's here because he found out about me borrowing the Stone."

Hermione processed that for a moment and clarified: "For the record, Professor, I never approved of Harry's 'borrowing'. I just helped translating French, and tried to stop Harry from cursing himself with it."

Oh, that treasonous backstabbing witch, when did she get that good at lying with a straight face? She approved of my heist the moment she laid eyes on Flamel's book! And to use air quotes… I'm impressed. I'll get back at her for that later.

"Did you get the pictures developed?"

She nodded, but her expression dropped. "They're all useless. The entire film got ruined. The Christmas pictures, the experiment, everything. It's all completely fogged over. You did use proper shielding when you did the X-rays, right?"

I'm pretty sure that Hermione's parents' camera wasn't even there when I X-rayed the Stone, so that can't have been the cause of it.

On the other hand….

Fogged film. Nausea. Hair loss.

Anti-aging has to include repairing faulty DNA. It also happens to cure these symptoms.

No detectable curse.

Lead to gold. One element into another. Flamel's book never mentioned anything about which isotopes.

It can't be that simple, can it? Surely someone would have thought of this before me? Unless nobody worked on this since…?

"Professor Dumbledore, when you worked with Flamel and did your own experiments, that was before you were busy with the whole Grindelwald war situation, right?"

"Indeed, it was back in the early 30s. After the war I was busy with politics and running Hogwarts, I did not have much time for research."

Before WW2. Before anyone knew the symptoms of radiation poisoning. Maybe even before neutrons were discovered, I'm not that sure on my history of physics. I used to rely on Wikipedia instead of memorization for that kind of thing.

"...where the heck am I going to get a Geiger counter in the middle of the holidays?"

-HP-HP-HP-

Answer: In the Department of Physics of the Imperial College in London. They've got an entire cabinet full of Geiger counters and dosimeters right here. Even some of the fancy ones that can tell you exactly which kind of radiation you're dealing with. Since there's almost nobody here over the holidays nobody should notice if I borrow one until I can buy my own unit, right?

Even if someone notices, I doubt the security cameras here can see through Death's invisibility cloak.

"Kreacher, if you could please take me home?"

Crack.

I'm starting to worry that Hermione might have a point. This "borrowing" might become a bad habit for me.

-HP-HP-HP-

Tick.

Tick.

Tick tick tick ticktickticktick beep BEEP BEEP BEEP!

Theory confirmed. The gold is radioactive. Low energy beta, but a lot of it, and that just from this tiny amount.

"I think you should contact the Flamels. There's no way they won't be interested in this."

-HP-HP-HP-

Tchieeeew… Bang!

After Fred had ignited it, the rocket sped up and exploded in the night sky in a burst of colours.

"Wow, those muggle fireworks pack a punch!"

"But they don't last as long as Filibuster's", George commented.

"And they're not as safe", I mentioned.

"Dad would cherish them, though. He loves the things muggles invent. Too bad he's still in Romania with Charlie."

I nodded. "Too many wizards dismiss everything that doesn't use magic. Even though that means ignoring what 99.9% of the world's creative minds come up with."

"Could you think of anything in specific that we could use?" Fred asked eagerly, the "for pranking someone" heavily implied.

"I'll tell you if I think of something."

"Happy new year!", George said. "May it have as much mischief and madness as the previous one!"

Let's hope it won't be directed in my direction.

-HP-HP-HP-

"Experiment number four. Zero point one grams of lead-206. Everyone behind the line? Three, two one, transmutation."

Dumbledore waved his wand, the tiny ball of lead dropped on the Stone, flashed and changed color to a shimmering gold.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Multiple devices on the table next to the Stone started beeping loudly, but the one next to us stayed quiet.

After the Flamels had arrived and been briefed on the nature of the curse, it had taken them and Dumbledore less than a day to invent a completely new kind of shield charm capable of blocking all radiation except visible light. With that in place and multiple (legitimately bought!) dosimeters the experiments were somewhat safe to conduct.

And of course it took them less than a week to come up with a way to separate lead into different isotopes.

"We didn't get neutrons this time", Nicholas Flamel found, examining the neutron dosimeter. "Resulting gold still beta radioactive."

Me and Hermione watched Dumbledore levitate the gold ball into a bottle while Perenelle ran spells on the Stone and Nicholas checked the readings from the other dosimeters.

"It's weird how fast you get used to having the three best alchemists in the world in your basement doing nuclear science."

"Yeah. It's pretty fascinating. Both the Stone and seeing how they work on it."

"You do realize that they probably won't allow us to get filthy rich with it?"

-HP-HP-HP-

"So, here are the results", Nicholas pointed at the transfigured blackboard. "Natural lead and isotope 207 and 208 cause a burst of neutrons. 206 and 204 do not. They all produce gold that is beta-radioactive. Interestingly, the gold produced from 204 is only about a third as radioactive as all the other gold."

"Who does not know, the isotopes so, their power sees, and properties," I murmured.

Dumbledore raised his eyebrow and asked: "Is that from Goethe?"

"Yes, I prefer the original version of Faust, the translation really butchered it, but Wer sie nicht kennte, die Isotope doesn't rhyme. I thought it'd be a thematically appropriate quote."

Nicholas grunted. "Oh, don't remind me of how that gross misrepresentation of Johann's achievements. Deals with the devil, what nonsense!"

Perenelle interjected: "Calm down, mon mari. He's just a writer who's been dead for one hundred and fifty years. Anyways", she addressed all of us Stone experimenters, "while you did experiments six to ten, I traveled home and got an old sample of gold from 1650. It's not radioactive. Not any more."

That's interesting. "But it is still gold?", I asked. "Not decayed into some other element?"

"According to all known alchemical charms, it is still magically inert gold. Slightly heavier than expected. About 130 Trithemius."

"19.5 grams per cubic centimeter in the modern muggle system", Dumbledore converted, knowing that I prefered metric. "The samples are too small to get more exact measurements."

"Do you happen to know the density of normal gold?", I silently asked Hermione with a glance.

"Here", she sent me a recollection of the entire periodic table, with atomic weight and electronegativity values. Because of course she has that memorized.

"Hm, gold has only one stable isotope, Au-197 at 19.3 g/cm³. Their old gold appears to be stable, but heavier, without magic."

"That is interesting. Here's a memory of the isotope map around that area. None of the other gold isotopes match what we've got."

"The different lead isotopes behaving differently is interesting.

Lead-206 is three protons, six neutrons above gold-197.

That divides by three, and it results in three times as much radiation as lead-204."

"One proton, two neutrons, tritium.

Tritium is a radioactive species with a half-life of 12.32 years, emitting weak beta radiation.

That matches what we detected from the radioactive gold."

"And 204 is three protons, four neutrons above gold, which means one tritium and two protons and two neutrons left, either helium or two deuterium, not radioactive.

Pb-204 →(Stone)→ Au-197 + 2D + 1T

Pb-206 →(Stone)→ Au-197 + 3T"

(I really thought the last part not as text, but as a more general idea and put it in front of my occlumency barriers for Hermione to read but that's not possible to put into writing.)

"You think the Stone splits the lead into gold and hydrogen isotopes?"

"Would be a plausible explanation for the radiation, any why the gold itself doesn't decay. And heavier lead would result in some hydrogen-4, which I've never heard of, so it probably instantly decays, producing the neutron radiation we've seen.

Pb-207 →(Stone)→ Au-197 + 2T + 1H-4→ (decay)→ Au-197 + 3T + 1n

Pb-208 →(Stone)→ Au-197 + 1T + 2H-4→ (decay)→ Au-197 + 3T + 2n"

"How would the hydrogen stay in the gold? Isn't it a gas"

"I vaguely remember an article I read in 2016 about metallic hydrogen created in a muggle lab. Maybe it's some sort of stable alloy of gold and metallic heavy radioactive hydrogen?"

"Possible. So Flamel invented controlled nuclear fission without realizing it?"

And my "curse bomb" idea was just a very impractical version of a plain old neutron bomb.

The entire thought conversation had taken maybe five seconds, after which we exclaimed in perfect synchronization:
"Eureka!"

-HP-HP-HP-

"So let me get this straight", Snape said with a bewildered expression, sitting next to me at Dumbledore's desk, "despite all the protections that most of the Hogwarts staff helped create - or should I say most of the old staff, given the recent influx of new hires - despite all of that, Potter here managed to break in and steal the Philosopher's Stone in less than an hour, then made a major breakthrough in Alchemy by combining it with muggle nuclear science, and spent most of the holidays with none other than Albus Dumbledore and the Flamels messing around in his basement?"

"Yep, that sums it up. Although Professor Dumbledore's protection took most of the time. Your riddle took less than two minutes to break through, sorry. And to be honest, the breakthrough wasn't that special, anyone with a basic A-level understanding of post-WW2 physics could've done it after realizing that not every invisible danger is inherently magical. Oh, and Hermione deserves some credit too."

"Indeed. Harry's and Hermione Granger's discoveries are quite obvious in hindsight. We did confirm their theories, but after that we had to move the Stone back into the castle before the end of the holidays, now with increased security."

No house elf apparition any more, the safe replaced with the mirror of Erised, and the troll room replaced with a small challenge of my own creation. Basically a door that opens when you answer some riddles, just like the Ravenclaw entrance, but it's random trivia that nobody knows by heart. So once you get there you have to go back, look it up in the library, and return, only to get the next riddle which requires another research trip. Each trip to the library also requires the intruder to go through all the previous challenges again, multiplying the stall time of the previous rooms instead of just adding on to it, and increasing risk of getting detected.

"While you were gone playing mad scientists, I kept an eye on Quirrel. He spent most of the Holidays in Hogsmeade. I saw him going to the Hog's head a few times, doing some shady business. Apart from that he wasn't up to anything extraordinary, I did not see him getting close to the forbidden corridor, and now he's back to normal. He still carries the Dark Lord, I checked."

"Any new ideas on how we could destroy him?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "Unfortunately, I was quite occupied with our alchemical work."

Looks like it's time to get back to the main quest then. How do I get rid of my immortal enemy?

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