September 25, 1991, 12:30 PM, Hogwarts Library
It had been an exciting few weeks, I thought as I turned a page in Magical Theory.
It was a fascinating book— utterly wasted on eleven year olds, to be sure, but also essential to gain at least a simple understanding of how spells worked.
“To tamper with the deepest mysteries; the source of life, the essence of self.” I read the words in the book, remembering them from my old life.
Essence of self… The soul? A strange reference to Horcruxes, perhaps, or something more?
I thought back to the Wand-Lighting Charm, Lumos. People used it to act as a flashlight, but it seemed to have extra ghost and spirit repelling properties.
Had the creator accidentally delved into the realm of the… Essence of self? It would make sense, in a roundabout way.
I placed the book back onto the table and thought back to the days of early humanity. I thought of our struggle against the elements, against the darkness and terror of night itself.
The act of making fire was an important milestone for the human race. We challenged the night itself, the mere act of it previously thought to be impossible.
Night was all consuming and full of unseen, deadly creatures— but with fire, it was a matter of shining the light onto them.
Did the Wand-Lighting Charm do the same? Did the magic tap into the essence of self, read the roiling emotion— the intent to banish the darkness and all creatures related to it?
It was an intriguing thought, and potentially useful, besides.
I pulled my notepad out, opened it and began to write:
‘Adapt the use of Lumos to fight against spirits of all kinds, including Dementors. Research into Dementors and Patronus Charm.‘
For now, I thought as I put the pad away and turned my attention back to the book. Back to understanding Magical Theory.
Honestly, while intriguing, the book suffered from the same issues most textbooks did: incredibly dry, plodding material. It seemed that the author, Adalbert Waffling, lived up to his name. Bright, but prone to not making direct statements. Happy to just fill the text with speculation after speculation.
Then again, this particular field of magic wasn’t something explored by most people, due to a concept that Waffling called ‘The First Fundamental Law of Magic.’
It more or less stated that, the further you delved into the mysteries of magic, the worse the repercussions might be if you screwed up. It bore a striking resemblance to Newton’s Third Law of Motion: ‘for every action, there is a reaction.’
It made sense, though that didn’t necessarily mean it was proven, in any way. Still, this was a subject I was highly interested in delving in.
If I could figure out the secrets of magic itself…
A shiver went through me, both pleasurable and terrifying. Were these Tom Riddle’s thoughts when he was on the path of mastering his own magic?
Would I have been following the path he’d already trodden decades ago?
I frowned. I didn’t really care for the fate of the world. That wasn’t to say that my perfect Sunday involved kicking puppies and stealing candy from children, but I wouldn’t exactly be too bothered if a stranger happened to be on the wrong side of another’s wand in Knockturn Alley.
That was the way of the world, after all. Criminals were a resource that never ran out, purely by virtue of how easier it is to turn to crime than it is to eke out an honest living.
I put the book back on the table and sighed.
I was getting distracted again.
This was the most annoying part of physically being a child. My focus just wasn’t what it used to be in my adult years.
Perhaps it was the sheer amount of energy I seemed to have. Perhaps it was the hormonal imbalance all humans go through when they went through the maturation process.
Maybe it was even caused by my magic’s growth, as magic seemed entrenched in human emotions and was considered to be the ‘essence of self’. It was the source of life.
A combination of all these factors, most likely, I thought about the matter for a few moments. How would I be able to manipulate my focus— perhaps direct it?
The answer, of course, was painfully simple: goals.
I needed to set goals. True, the ultimate goal was to pursue the deepest mysteries magic had to offer, but I needed other things to do with my life.
A solid reason to hold onto. Root myself in.
Did I want to exist in this world, or did I want to live in it? Most people could only dream of getting a new lease on life, after all.
“Even the most prolific scientists had hobbies and lives…” I muttered to myself. Albert Einstein, for example, was said to enjoy hiking, biking and playing the violin.
And, believe me, I was no Einstein.
It was settled, then; goals, dreams, hobbies, the works. These were concepts and things I had to begin thinking about once more.
I nodded, grabbing my idea pad and simply writing a ‘G’ on the cover, before opening it and checking through the list of mysteries I could feasibly tackle at my current level.
Research on the Wand-Lighting Charm, as well as all manner of spirit creatures seemed the most appealing one, so far. Surprisingly enough, Potions was a close second.
I had half expected my Potions class to be some caricature, after having read the series, as well as the tons of fanfictions out there. However, aside from the occasional snide comment, the classes had gone off without a hitch.
Snape’s teaching manner did leave much to be desired, but he answered questions just fine, and was fair with his grades- at least, that was my own personal experience.
With Potter, I gathered it was another story entirely, from the rumors alone.
It wasn’t my problem, of course. As long as it didn’t directly affect me, I didn’t see the need to bother.
I wasn’t here to lecture people on how they should behave. Hell, if Dumbledore hadn’t been able to get through to Snape, then I highly doubted that I, some snot nosed Ravenclaw First Year who asked him one too many questions in class, could.
I snorted at the thought before putting all my books back in the bag. I adjusted the shoulder strap and lugged it with me, taking a step towards Madam Pince, before thinking better of it.
I’d run afoul of her, a week before; an underfed vulture with parchment-like skin, sunken teeth, a shriveled face and a hook nose, terrorizing the children. She cared more about the state of the books than the students learning them.
Way to nurture a good, learning environment.
With a shake of my head, I turned to search for the books, myself. I would need books related to spiritual creatures of all kinds, a book that describes the nature and effects of emotion based magic, and perhaps even something on spell manipulation.
Twenty minutes into the book hunt, and I had nothing. Well, there was one book dedicated entirely to troll herding— whatever that was. Amusing, but not overly useful to my current goal.
I was beginning to get frustrated as someone brushed past me, muttering an apology as they went. I turned to throw the person in question an annoyed glance, only for my eyes to widen in recognition.
It was Granger, slowly perusing the shelves in search of a book, as well. Though, from her posture and sluggish movements, I could tell she didn’t seem to be at a hundred percent.
This was odd, because she was always so ridiculously energetic while in the library— though, of course, quiet, or else Pince would let her displeasure be known. What had happened?
A few moments was all it took for me to nod in understanding. The answer was obvious to me, as it was something I’d dealt with in my previous life.
I’d immigrated to another country, and was excited about meeting the people, making new friends and the like— and that never ended up happening. I behaved, naturally, much like Hermione was now.
Maybe, she thought her studiousness wouldn’t have been rejected in a world of magic. I understood her logic, of course. It was magic, for God’s sake!
It was the ability to play with the rules of reality and bend them to your will, and the students were more interested in skipping class and playing Quidditch than exploring the limitations of what they could do.
“Granger, can you help me out?” The words came out of my mouth before I could even help myself.
Taking pity, Clarke? I thought to myself as the girl in question abruptly turned towards me, eyes wide with surprise— though, her expression quickly turned to caution when she recognized me.
Had the encounter at Platform Nine and Three Quarters affected her reaction to me this much? Embarrassing moments tended to do that, I guessed.
She must have been mortified.
“I don’t know… Madam Pince…” Hermione hesitated, but my friendly countenance seemed to change her mind. She took a step forward. “What do you need?”
I told her, and watched the gears whirring in her mind. Abruptly, she turned and left. I followed, amused at the interaction. This was exactly the sort of change I needed to make in myself— I needed that tunnel vision, that single minded determination.
It took a few minutes for the girl to find a book.
“I skimmed through this one on the first day.” Hermione whispered and handed me the book in question. It was old and quite worn.
“Charms Theory.” I read the title. No author noted. “It’s as good a place to start as any. Thank you, Granger.”
“…You’re welcome.” She frowned and looked down, suddenly awkward.
I stifled a wince. I was not the most empathetic of people, but Granger was outright hemorrhaging loneliness.
“Sit with me?” I offered.
The glowing smile that spread over her face just about made my heart melt for the earnest girl.
Damn it, Clarke. What are you getting yourself into?
September 27, 1991, 1:10 PM, Great Hall
“You can’t just hang out with Granger, Adam!” Boot said hotly after our Flying class. “You’re a Ravenclaw.”
“So?” I challenged as I sipped from my cup of water, eyes rolling at the boy’s outburst.
It had only been a few days since my meeting with Hermione, and Boot had taken offense to my canceling plans with him to hang out with the fuzzball of a girl, instead.
“She’s a Gryffindor.” Boot nodded, his case closed. Amusingly enough, a few of the other kids joined in the nodding, some even murmuring in agreement.
It hadn’t even been a month, and they’d already fallen into the tribal mentality?
“Lay off, Terry.” I cut in before anyone else could tell her to leave. “I like hanging out with her. We talk about a lot of things.”
“You?” Was his incredulous reply. “You never talk to anyone!”
“Not true.” I tried to project an air of innocence mixed in with the barest of hints of condescension. “I’m talking to you, right now.”
I suppressed a smile at the frustration on his face. It is so easy to needle children.
“That’s not what I— ugh, fine!” Boot huffed, took his book bag and left the Great Hall, throwing angry glares towards me every few feet.
“You’ve done it now, Clarke.” Corner sighed. “He’ll remember that.”
“Better that he does.” I gave an uncaring shrug. I didn’t need friends like that— ones that were controlling and demanded all of your time. True, he was an eleven year old kid, likely thinking he was losing his only friend.
He probably saw this as the end of the world. I snorted at the thought. Friends mostly came and went, in my life— with a few sticking around, happy to deal with my acerbic and often scathing nature.
I shook my head of any thoughts of friends from a past life. They were gone. In another universe, in another time. Maybe, someday, I would learn the methods of traveling back to my home world, but I rather doubted it would happen in the next five decades, let alone anytime soon.
I wouldn’t have been a good friend to Boot, anyway. Too obsessed with Quidditch, he was.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed flying on a broom well enough, and the concept of enchanting a broom to fly was fascinating. I could accomplish a lot with that sort of knowledge.
But, Quidditch? You couldn’t pay me to play, or even attend the matches.
I turned my head towards the Gryffindor table, where I saw Hermione hounding the second youngest Weasley over his atrocious table manners— I felt a little queasy, even from this distance.
Potter, on the other hand, seemed as happy as a clam at high tide. He looked a little tired— likely from his training with the Gryffindor Quidditch Captain— but he was positively glowing with energy, eating his food voraciously, but cleanly.
For a moment, the two of us exchanged glances just long enough for him to realize I was staring. He averted his gaze, breaking the staredown.
I looked elsewhere, deep in thought.
Potter was someone I used to be very conflicted over. I related with him on so many levels, but there had been many times when I was trying very hard to not rip my hair out while I was reading the series.
I’d made my peace with it long before I’d been reincarnated. He was a hero in the making, stunted by forces outside his control, but he eventually grit his teeth and got the job done.
So, I couldn’t fault him for wanting to enjoy himself while he still could. Hell, at the moment, he likely wasn’t even aware of the true dangers surrounding him.
What do I do about that? I thought, not for the first time, with a huff. Should I do anything?
Corner suggested I go patch things up with Boot, incorrectly assuming the little spat had been the source of the small outburst.
I didn’t acknowledge his statement as I left the Great Hall, absently heading towards the staircases.
Potter was an interesting sort of wizard. He coasted along his classes alongside his friend, Weasley, but his practical work was impressive— the sign of someone who learned from practice, not theory.
His passion was being stifled by his hanger-on, and there was likely nothing I could do about it.
A more important question was: did I want to do anything about it?
The more the days passed here, the harder it was for me to dismiss these people as just characters in a story. They certainly were characters from a book; I didn’t imagine reading Rowling’s works, after all.
However, they were also real.
They lived long, full lives. They weren’t some NPCs which followed rigid scripts. My many interactions and encounters with everyone had proven that beyond the shadow of any doubt.
Sure, Harry had seemingly followed the script and had been inducted into the Quidditch team just like in the books, but I highly doubted it was going to turn out any other way. The boy’s talent at flying was too obvious.
Still, I wondered what would have happened had I snatched Longbottom’s Remembrall just before Potter’s first Flying practice. Would it have changed anything?
Harry might have not made the Quidditch team, which would have saved him from Quirrell’s murder attempt, which would have removed any suspicion the trio had concerning Snape… But was that the case, truly?
Would it have changed canon, in any way? Or, did Magic itself, the source of life, the essence of everything, force the world to adhere to its desires?
Prophecy magic was real, after all. Trelawney was a bonafide seer, though the class she taught was beyond useless.
Were any changes I affected by simply being alive making any changes in the world at large? Or, was I going to live the rest of my days as some background character?
A chilling thought: perhaps I was one of the many background characters in the book series, and I was simply never mentioned. Rowling had ignored a good amount of characters, after all.
Any thoughts on Potter, prophecy magic, fate, my worth as an active agent in this world, and the seemingly inevitable Second War were thrown out of my mind when I heard the sound of expectant snickering ahead of me.
I turned tail and ran, ignoring the cries of dismay and calls to chase. “Get him!”
What a time to be without my meat shield. Boot and his overreactions…
I turned a corner, only to find myself face to face with an enormously fat, and pig-like boy. Crabbe.
His meaty hands grabbed onto my shoulders, and he began to crow. “I’ve got him!”
But, my wand was already out, held in front of his eyes.
“Lumos!” I cried, injecting all of my sudden fear into the spell. The wand tip lit like an ancient, fiery beacon. What few studies I’d made with Granger had given me enough of an understanding of the Wand-Lighting charm that I could use it to temporarily blind others.
Crabbe began to shriek, letting go of me in favor of furiously rubbing at his eyes. I ran past him, muttering a quick “Nox!” and reaching the staircases once again.
I got on, noting the faint sounds of displeasure and the scrapes and pitter patter of hurried footsteps. The Slytherins were giving chase.
I would have one shot at escaping this, I thought as the staircase moved to its next destination— the Seventh Floor.
I hadn’t sought out the Room of Requirement, just yet, and I cursed myself every second as I began to tire, with the portrait of Barnabas the Barmy being nowhere in sight.
I stared at the portrait for the barest of moments— a bizarre representation of a man attempting to teach Trolls how to dance the ballet— and swiftly walked back and forth three times.
“I want a place to hide.” I kept muttering, over and over, until the stone seemed to shimmer and melt, revealing a door, which I immediately entered, closing it behind me just in time for the sound of hurried footsteps reaching my ears.
I felt the air around me tingle as the door seemed to shimmer, its texture becoming that of the wall it was set in. I imagined it was completely hidden, on the other side.
I breathed through my nose as slowly as I could as the students’ footsteps got louder and louder, until I was sure they were all standing a few feet from me.
My heart rate quickened, but I maintained my current breathing, mentally admonishing myself for freaking out. This was the Room of Requirement. There was no way any of them knew it even existed, let alone how to operate it.
“Where is he?” One of them— Draco Malfoy, I realized— cried in dismay. Did this kid have a hard-on for me, or something? This was the sixth time this month he’d attempted to try and put the ‘uppity Mudblood’ in his place. “You said he came this way.”
“We all saw him go up the stairs, Malfoy.” Another Slytherin, an older student from the sound of it, said in annoyance. “He’s just too fast.”
“I didn’t pay you to make excuses, Bletchley.” Malfoy said derisively, though he didn’t disagree with what was said. “Whatever. Since we didn’t catch Clarke, we might as well deal with you.”
“What do you—” A familiar voice said before I heard the sound of a scuffle. “Let go of me!”
That voice— Terry Boot.
“Maybe this will teach you to lead us on a wild chase, Boot.” Malfoy said snidely. “Bletchley, would you care to do the honors?”
I could have leapt out of the room and taken them on, to stop Boot from getting hurt.
Why should I? The snarled thought came almost violently.
It was obvious what had happened here. Boot had just sold me out to Malfoy because of a childish tantrum.
He’s only a kid. Part of me said.
Fuck him. Another part dismissed. I have no place for traitors. If he would sell me out this easily, then I had no need for him.
“It would be my pleasure.” The older boy, Bletchley, said enthusiastically. “Hold still, Boot. Furnunculus!“
Boot cried out in mortification as the spell took hold.
The Pimple Jinx. I thought, staying quiet as the Slytherin boys began to laugh at Boot’s plight. There was the sound of a thud— Boot likely being thrown on the cold, stone floor.
The Slytherins had their fill of laughter, as Boot’s cries and hurried footsteps filled the halls.
“Did you see his face, the big lump?!” Malfoy crowed in glee. “That ought to teach him to mess with us.”
“What about the Mudblood, Draco?” Crabbe, I thought, said excitedly.
“Well, if you hadn’t let the filth go.” Bletchley threw in scathingly. “We would have gotten him, too. He’s escaped you, how many times?”
Five times. My mind supplied. I’d had to avoid them five times over the course of a month alone. This was the sixth. The first time, I was lucky enough to escape, and the other times, I’d made use of Ravenclaw as a herd amongst whom I could hide to avoid the unwanted attention from Malfoy and his cronies.
This time, I’d been lucky enough that I could reach the Room of Requirement and use it to hide from my would-have-been-tormenters.
“It doesn’t matter.” Bletchley’s voice cracked, and he hurriedly cleared his throat, sounding embarrassed. “We’ll get him sooner or later. He can’t run and hide forever.”
I closely listened to their receding footsteps, their carefree laughs, their mockery of Boot, until there was nothing left but the silence of Hogwarts Castle.
Still, I stayed hidden in the small space, not daring to exit the Room just yet. It may have sounded like they walked off, but there was the slight possibility that it was some kind of ruse, meant to make me feel safe and reveal myself, in some way.
‘He can’t run and hide forever.’ Bletchley had said.
He was right. It was only a matter of time until they caught me. It was obvious that there was no love lost between myself, and my House.
If Boot, my supposed friend, sold me out so easily, then there was no way that the other Ravenclaws would help me out— especially with Malfoy paying them to look the other way. They’d seemed perfectly fine with Lovegood’s bullying.
And so, in that cramped hiding space on the Seventh Floor, I quietly seethed in anger at the nuisance which was Draco Malfoy.
After an indeterminate amount of time spent tensely hiding, I exited the room and headed to the Library, a few new goals set in my mind.
Learn how to fight effectively with magic.
Teach Draco Malfoy a lesson he’ll never forget.
Strangely enough, Granger only seemed very mildly disapproving when I asked her to find the necessary books on the topic, though I caught her sending me a few curious looks.
It seems she’s as much a fan of Draco Malfoy as I am.