September 2, 1991, 7:15 AM
I woke up the next day, feeling more comfortable than I had ever felt before.
Soft beds really make all the difference. I thought happily. I’d grown so used to the orphanage’s old and worn beds that I’d forgotten how good it could feel to just go to sleep.
Magic’s versatility never ceased to amaze, I thought as I stared around my dorm room. It was great that I got a room all to myself.
From the outside, it seemed to be the size of a small cupboard, but with the use of expansion charms, it became the size of a small room.
One day, I’d be able to weave such magic, too.
I went through my morning stretches- an old habit from my previous life- before my eyes found the wand on the nightstand.
With a smile, I took it gently, exulting in the warmth that spread from my fingertips into my body.
Breakfast was around eight, so I had some time to kill.
Moving a few of my robes in the trunk, I found the Charms Book, The Standard Book of Spells: Grade 1. I flipped through the pages, finally stopping at the one I was looking for.
I refreshed my memory by skimming through the pages, and put the book back into the trunk.
I held my wand aloft and focused. “Lumos.”
The wand gave a very short, weak burst of light.
It was barely there, but I’d managed it.
“Lumos.” I tried again, excited. The light came out stronger.
I tried a few more times, the light growing brighter and brighter as I got a feel for the spell. It would still sputter and die out on its own, though.
I frowned. Perhaps I needed to set some kind of duration? I thought the spell activated the light and kept it on until I used the counterspell, Nox.
“Interesting.” I muttered and prepared to try the spell again, focusing my intent on setting a timer. Fifteen seconds.
“Lumos.” The wand tip lit up. “One, two, three…”
When the count hit seven seconds, the light winked out of existence. I checked the book again, reading up on both it and the counterspell.
“They’re like ‘on/off’ buttons.” I said slowly, taking my wand and casting the spell, focusing my intent on the concept of an ‘on’ switch.
My wand lit up, and I began to count. Fifteen seconds passed with no issue; then, thirty; a minute. By the time it got to a minute and a half, I knew I’d succeeded at the spell.
It was time to try and extinguish the light.
“Nox.” I cast, picturing an ‘off’ switch in my mind. The light died out. Success!
There was a knock on the door, bringing me out of my celebratory reverie.
I blinked and opened it, wand still in hand.
“Clarke.” An older boy in Ravenclaw robes and a blue badge which said ‘PREFECT’ addressed me, his eyes curiously resting upon the wand in my hand. “Good, you’re awake. The others were still asleep. We leave for breakfast in ten. Meet me in the common room.”
With that, he turned and left.
That’s a little abrupt on his part, I thought. Then again, these are school kids who are still living in the old age.
I stared down at my wand, discarding the older boy’s abrupt and seemingly dismissive nature. It didn’t really matter how I was addressed by others, as long as no one tried to bully me.
I’d done that song and dance before in my old life, and the orphanage.
Placing the wand back on the nightstand, I made sure to wear my robes, marveling at the Ravenclaw colors. I wondered just how that worked, exactly.
Did Professor McGonagall cast the spell on me after the sorting? Or, perhaps, Dumbledore? He was the Transfiguration Professor before he’d become Headmaster.
Or, did Malkin enchant the robes to respond to the Sorting Hat’s cues? In concept, it would be a simple matter, wouldn’t it?
A spell that would trigger once, fully dependent on the Sorting process and the Hat’s audio proclamation- but what kind of magic would that take?
Why didn’t the robes change color during its song? Why didn’t it happen when it sorted someone else?
Hm, perhaps it was a mix of audio cues and proximity, which would go well with the process of needing to wear the hat to be sorted. Perhaps I hadn’t given Madam Malkin enough credit- I mean, she still used magic to fabricate clothing, but if she’d figured something like this out, then it was a very commendable achievement.
With that thought, I left my room, walking through the slightly tight corridor, down a spiral staircase and into the Ravenclaw common room.
I had expected it to have a library of its own, but it was just a basic lounging area. It made sense- why have two libraries in the school, one of which was only limited to a single group of students?
I didn’t think that kind of favoritism would sit well with the parents.
The Ravenclaw prefect who’d knocked on my door was already there. He was a fifth year, with a Middle Eastern look to him- I should know, having been one before.
I gave an amused look at the patchy fuzz growing on his face, remembering a time when I was proud of my facial hair, as well.
What was this fellow’s name, again? He’d introduced himself the night before.
“Bashir, right? Colton Bashir.” I tried to make sure. The boy gave me an unimpressed look, even as he nodded confirmation.
The two of us waited in silence for a minute longer until the rest of the students came over, looking a mix of frazzled and excited for their first day.
Bashir addressed us all, as another prefect joined him, a blonde girl whose name I’d forgotten. “Follow me, and make sure to remember the route. I don’t want to have to show you twice.”
The other kids around me grumbled at his attitude, but we all followed him, regardless. I kept my attention on our surroundings, taking note of the several landmarks that would help guide the way to the Great Hall when the time came for me to go off on my own.
As we took our places at the Ravenclaw table, Bashir the prefect told his fellow prefect- it turned out that her name was Mira Goshawk- to fetch the timetables.
She ended up making him do it, to our relief.
“I’m sorry about Colton.” Mira said apologetically, sending a glare at the back of the boy in question. “He’s very…”
“Pompous?” I supplied, much to the amusement of the kids around me. I had other, less savory words in mind, but I doubted they would be appreciated.
“That’s one way of putting it.” She replied diplomatically, suppressing the smile that threatened to show on her face. “If you need anything, you can just come to me, all right? I don’t know why Colton made prefect, he’s not suited to the role at all.”
The only reason I could think of was that the alternatives were that much worse. I shrugged. It wasn’t worth wasting time on, I thought as the ponce in question returned, timetables tucked under his arm.
“Your timetables, first years.” He said simply, placing the stack in front of Padma Patil. “Distribute it among your peers.”
While Padma distributed the schedules to us, Colton then handed two stacks to Mira, before turning and distributing the remaining stacks in his care. Mira muttered something unkind under her breath, gave us one final smile, and went to complete her duties.
I gave her a nod and turned my attention to my schedule.
“Double DADA, History of Magic, free period, Lunch, Charms, followed by Transfiguration and Astronomy.” I read off Monday’s schedule. “They’re not taking it easy on us, are they?”
“As expected from the world’s most respected school of magic.” A pompous kid, Goldstein if I remembered right, said.
I shrugged, placed the schedule in my bag, piled some food on my plate, and pulled out the school map I’d received the night before, reading through it as I helped myself to some eggs and bacon- marveling at the taste of the food once again.
This place was going to spoil me rotten, I thought as I charted the trip to the DADA classroom, as well as the one for History of Magic.
My thoughts came back to Goldstein’s statement of the school being the premier choice. I would be paying close attention to his face when he saw Quirrell’s ‘stuttering buffon’ act, and experienced the sheer boredom in Binns’ class.
I sent a guarded stare towards the turban wearing fellow, making sure not to look directly at him. Was he already possessed by Voldemort?
My thoughts turned conflicted again. Did I care about stopping Voldemort? As long as I didn’t make any waves, things would turn out mostly the same, wouldn’t they?
Harry would do his thing, survive death experience after death experience, and save the day at the end.
Or, would he?
Even acting like I’m an unthreatening nobody would have an effect on this world. The pebble had been cast over a decade ago, when I was reborn.
There was no real way to tell what was going to happen.
All I knew was that I, personally, had absolutely no interest in Voldemort’s blood crusade, or of the fight between good and evil. I just wanted to learn about and delve into the deepest secrets of magic.
Still, being born to an orphanage meant that I was Muggleborn. So, wouldn’t it have been prudent to ingratiate myself to the ‘good’ side, just for protection’s sake?
Maybe give the good guys the tools to quickly succeed against Voldemort and his pack of sadistic racist sycophants?
I snorted, not being able to maintain that line of thought any more. I had a stake in the situation, seeing as I was Muggleborn, but I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. There was no way in hell I’d stick my neck out for what was basically a bunch of strangers.
It didn’t matter that I felt kinship and admiration for Potter’s actions, sorrow for Black’s fate and all other sorts of unpleasant feelings.
I was a stranger to them, and they were strangers to me.
Knowing convenient things and cleverly hidden secrets, such as Black’s innocence, as well as the nature of Horcruxes would paint a target on my back, as well as generate suspicion in the ranks of the good side.
How else would I explain such detailed knowledge? What would Dumbledore do if I told him I knew everything about him, Grindelwald, Aberforth and Arianna? What about the Horcruxes, the Deathly Hallows, the Order of the Phoenix, the Prophecy, the need for Harry to die?
What would people think if I suddenly revealed that Black was in Azkaban without a trial, and that Pettigrew was alive?
No. It was better to try and stay out of things altogether, as no one would believe me, and I wasn’t exactly powerful enough to affect any meaningful change in any of those topics- at least, not without having myself yoked and made to fight whichever side enslaved me first.
With that thought in mind, I got up from the table, shouldered my bookbag and hauled ass to the DADA classroom, closely following the map.
Of course, it was at that moment that Peeves showed up, with a bucket in tow. I dove to the side as the Poltergeist cackled and drenched a few other students.
They all shouted and yelped in alarm, their shock shifting into anger and dismay.
I didn’t stick around, quickly turning a corner and standing outside of the DADA classroom. Quirrell wasn’t here yet- either on his way, or still in the Great Hall.
I sat down and racked my brain for the spell that would shoot gum at Peeves. Lupin had used it, but what was the incantation again?
“Wad.. Waddiwasi. That’s right.” I muttered to myself, pulling my wand out and wondering what to do next.
I didn’t remember what the wand motions were, if it had any.
With a mental shrug, I pointed it at the wall in front of me. “Waddiwasi.“
Nothing happened, as expected. I tried a few more times, with absolutely no progress. With a huff, I resolved to research this spell when I had the time to go to the Library- after History of Magic, I’d have a few hours of free time to do so.
It was decided, I thought as other kids began to stand near the classroom door, loudly chattering amongst each other. Mostly, they talked about how excited they were for their first class, and of the Harry Potter.
What a bunch of mindless sheep.
I’d wanted to read more about Potter, but Snape hadn’t bothered to get me any information on famous witches and wizards- I supposed it made sense. Why waste the money meant for school supplies to satisfy a student’s curiosity?
Maybe, if Flitwick had delivered me the letter, that day, I’d have had more luck on that front, but Snape? I was surprised he hadn’t just left me at Diagon Alley, stating that the ‘instructions are on your letter.’
I gave a light snort at the thought.
“What’s so funny?” Someone asked from my left. I turned to see Terry Boot. He was wide-eyed and curious.
I shot him a sidelong glance, shaking my head. “You wouldn’t understand.”
He made to say something in response, but Quirrell finally arrived, drawing everyone’s attention as he quickly went inside the classroom, with us following.
And so, for the next hour and a half, we were subjected to a classroom that smelled of garlic, and Quirrell’s s-s-s-stutters. How he managed to fool the entire school, I had no idea.
Didn’t anyone in the magical world have a stutter, or friends or relatives who stutter? Or, perhaps they were so entrenched in the dark age that they simply didn’t consider such things as important?
It was mind-boggling how wizards could be so exceedingly talented in fields of magic, but so extremely incompetent in the more mundane fields.
Then again, few people would likely notice the inconsistency of his stutter- Pomphrey, the nurse, being one of them… And the books had never mentioned any interactions between her and Quirrell. Maybe that was it.
Still, I thought as I half-listened to what he was saying, with DADA being useless, as well as the next class of History, I could classify the entire morning of Monday as ‘study time’.
And so, the remainder of the class, as well as the History of Magic class which followed it were spent surreptitiously researching the first year spells I’d be expected to have mastered by the end of the year.
Emboldened by my quick grasp of Lumos and Nox, I felt confident that I’d be able to get the practical aspect of wand-work complete.
Strangely, neither teacher had commented on my use of a fountain pen. Binns probably didn’t notice, and Quirrell most likely just didn’t care- he was a possessed thing living on borrowed time, after all.
Maybe that was just a fanon thing.
Hopefully, my luck would hold out, I thought as I exited the History of Magic class, ignoring Boot’s calls as well as the rest of Ravenclaw and Slytherins.
I had no time for socialization. I had a few hours, and I wanted to hit the Library up. I pulled out my trusty map and began my trek, noting that I had someone on my tail.
I gave a surreptitious look to the left, pretending to admire the portraits while, in reality, I was observing the people following me from the corner of my eye.
Slytherins. Three boys. One blonde with two brutes on either side. Malfoy and his goons.
I walked faster, but the three behind me matched my pace. Stifling a curse, I turned a corner and started to run, quickly taking another turn before they reached the first one.
“Where did the mudblood go?” A boy- probably Draco- said.
“I don’t know. Should we look?” Another asked.
“…We’ll catch him some other time. No mudblood is worth wasting this much time over.” Malfoy said. Their footsteps started to grow weaker and weaker.
I let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
That had been close.
What was the point of all that? It’s not like I’d had anything to do with the guy.
“Tch.” I shunted off the frustration into the void as soon as thoughts went back to Voldemort and the pureblood supremacists backing him.
They were being nuisances right from the get-go. It was a lucky thing that the Hat placed me in Ravenclaw, and not Slytherin. If they were so brazen so as to attack me on the first day of school, in broad daylight, who knew how bad it could have turned out if I’d been sorted in Slytherin?
Attacks from everyone in the dorms, the common room, the Slytherin table.
The threat, while in Ravenclaw, was mitigated. But, then again, Draco and his stooges had just attempted to line-of-sight me.
I frowned thoughtfully. The Ravenclaws also bullied Luna, hadn’t they? I would have to plan for that eventuality, as well.
My threat perception of Peeves was lessened drastically, all in under two minutes of walking.
I ended up going to the Library, but not only to figure out how to use Lupin’s spell, but to research adequate battle spells, as well.
Just in case.
“Present.” I raised my hand, before focusing my attention back on the book in front of me.
It was a few hours later that I was sitting in the Charms classroom, watching the diminutive Professor Flitwick go through roll call.
The time in the Library had been slightly fruitless in terms of finding jinxes. If I’d asked Pince, she’d likely have kicked me out on general principle.
Instead, I’d wandered aimlessly through the library, eventually giving up on the prospect. I was too keyed up by the previous encounter to try and get used to new surroundings.
I ended up pulling out the Standard Book of Spells: Grade 1 by Miranda Goshawks- I wondered if Mira was related to her- and reading up on whatever spells would be useful for me.
I ended up singling out two charms. The Softening Charm, Spongify, and the Cutting Charm, Diffindo. The ability to make things soft and bouncy would be invaluable.
I could simply cast the spell on people’s shoes and make a break for it. I wasn’t looking to kill anyone, after all. I highly doubted my Head of House, or the Headmaster would approve of such things.
Still, I bookmarked the Cutting Charm, in case of unavoidable situations, in which I needed to project aggression. I wasn’t an idiot; I knew that I looked fairly non-threatening. My body was only eleven years old, after all.
There was an excited squeak, and a thud. Ah, Flitwick had gone over Potter’s name. I shifted my gaze to see a skinny boy, with untidy black hair and green eyes which shifted in a mix of bemusement and irritation behind his glasses.
His eyes met mine. I snorted and nodded at the class spectacle, not really saying anything. Potter gave a small smile.
The moment didn’t last very long, with Flitwick climbing back to resume the roll call before starting off with the lesson.
Amusingly enough, the spell being taught was the Wand-Lighting Charm, Lumos. Flitwick was energetic, erudite and quite obviously a master at Charms, as well as the history behind it.
Apparently, this particular charm was able to repel ghosts, as well as a dog-like spirit called a Gytrash; I took notes, figuring that he could be testing us for any of this information at some point.
There was some interesting history surrounding the spell. It’d been invented by a witch named Levina Monkstanley in the eighteenth century. Not realizing the significant impact it would have on the wizarding community, she didn’t expect her coworkers at the Ministry to be surprised when she’d casually used it to find a quill in a dark, dusty area behind her desk.
It all fit with my previous assessment of wizards. They had the power to rewrite reality at their fingertips, and they didn’t even understand the sheer weight of it.
I raised my hand.
“Yes, Mr… Clarke, wasn’t it?” Professor Flitwick acknowledged.
I nodded to show that he’d been correct. “Did the inventor, Levina, know that her spell would be able to repel ghosts and Gytrashes, or was that just a lucky side effect?”
Flitwick’s eyes crinkled in delight as he gave me a genial smile. “What do you think? Take the spell’s effects into consideration.”
I considered the topic, my eyes unfocusing for a few moments as I tried to come up with an answer. “It’s a spell to make light, but it’s not fire.” Or a tungsten light bulb.
“Good, go on.” Professor Flitwick encouraged.
“Though, it’s still warm, so there is some kind of energy to it.” I frowned, before looking up. “Life energy?”
“Very close! Take one point for Ravenclaw, Mr. Clarke.” Professor Flitwick praised. “It is pure magic.”
Pure magic, as a substance. “Thank you, Professor.” I noted that down.
The theory continued in that way for the next few minutes as he went over the counterspell, Nox, and then he had us practicing.
I watched as the students around me attempted it, to little or no results. Weasley had been at it for a minute, getting progressively angrier. Longbottom produced a few sputters, which was probably a ridiculously good performance, considering his father’s incompatible wand.
Granger got it in one try, earning three points for Gryffindor.
“Mr. Clarke?” Professor Flitwick approached me.
“Yes, sir?” I turned to the man.
“I see you haven’t attempted to cast the spell, yet.” He pointed out kindly.
“Oh.” I blinked, smiling slightly. “I managed to do it this morning.”
“Oh?” Flitwick seemed intrigued, gesturing for me to try it.
I nodded, pulled the wand out of my robe, and cast the spell. “Lumos.”
The wand lit brightly, just as Granger’s had.
“Well done, Mr. Clarke!” Professor Flitwick said excitedly, which was a little confusing. Was it really such a big deal? “As you say you’ve tried it, I gather you’re also able to cast the Wand-Extinguishing Charm?”
I nodded once more, and cast the counterspell. “Nox.“
The light went out immediately.
“Very good!” Professor Flitwick gave a little clap. “Take another three points to Ravenclaw. I expect great things from you, here, Mr. Clarke.”
“Thank you, sir.” I accepted the praise, noting that Granger hadn’t been able to turn her spell off, just yet. His praise heaped on me seemed to light a fire under her, though.
I suppressed a snort and went back to watching the class.
“Clarke.” A girl to my right said- Padma, I realized. “How did you do it?”
“Um… Do you know anything about muggle technology?” I asked. Padma nodded, not sure where I was going with this.
“All right.” I said, relieved. “Think of it like an ‘on/off’ switch. ‘On’ for Lumos, ‘Off’ for Nox, with yourself as the ‘battery’.”
She looked off to the side as she processed that information, before focusing on her wand again. “All right. Lumos!“
Unlike her previous attempts, she got a few blinks of light out of it. It hadn’t been successful, but she’d made some good progress.
“Good work.” I gave a false smile, the one I used to reserve for nephews and nieces in my old life. “Keep at it, I’m sure you’ll have down by the end of class.”
She nodded, like she was barely listening to me, trying out the spell, again and again.
In almost no time at all, I found myself in the Transfiguration classroom, another period I shared with Gryffindors.
Professor McGonaggall was already there, sitting on the table in cat form. I stared at her as I took a seat in the middle, wondering just how complete the change was. Did she retain her human mind?
If so, how? The feline brain was much smaller than that of a human. How could she retain control of herself?
The obvious answer was ‘magic’. Yes, it was magic, but how did it work? Perhaps a sort-of adaptive expansion charm inside the skull to fit the brain, or maybe a repurposing of the nervous system. I added ‘Animagus’ to my quickly growing list of things to do.
Just what was the list, so far?
“Let’s see…” I muttered, pulling out a small notepad I’d nicked from the orphanage before I’d left. I mentally read off all the major points: Potions, Topic of the Tingle, Waddiwasi, Battle Magic, Lumos and its use against spirits, Animagus.
As expected, however, I couldn’t just learn Animagus off the bat. The professor had us transfiguring matchsticks into needles. I’d managed to get the substance silver and the end sharp, but it was still made of wood. Still, that’d earned me a point, at least.
Canon and fanon knowledge gave me a leg up, but not so much that I could simply breeze through everything.
Transfiguration, I realized, would be especially hard considering my knowledge of physics and chemistry. I was essentially rewriting an item’s molecular composition on a macro-scale.
I had two choices: run the transfigurations with the idea of molecular shifting firmly in mind, or I could abandon that thought process altogether, instead focusing on the conceptual changing of materials, for example: ‘wood’ to ‘metal’.
It was a hard choice, but one I probably needed to make quickly and early in my education.
There was also another issue.
I was also worried I’d accidentally split an atom in my attempts, if I went the physics/chemistry route. It was mind-boggling how no one ever had this issue- or perhaps, they simply didn’t know about all this extra information, and so never encountered it.
They likely focused more on the equation that McGonagall had provided. The Transformation formula; I would have to put that in my list, as well, I realized.
The topics continued to pile up, but it was fine- more than fine. I was honestly delighted. I loved to learn, even if I was likely putting way too much on plate, as it were.
Still, even with all the extra work I was subjecting myself to, I was fairly sure I’d be able to finish the first year curriculum around Christmas, perhaps even sooner, especially when I acclimated to my new accommodations.
I nodded to myself as the class ended, making sure to stick around the other Ravenclaws on the way to my Astronomy class. It was a class we shared with the Slytherins, and with Malfoy out and about…
The extra company seemed to please Boot, at least.
I wondered how he’d react if he knew I was planning on using him as a meatshield, should Slytherins decide to use me for target practice.
Probably not well. I thought, suppressing a grin.