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Butterfly

October 31, 1991, 12:30 PM, Room of Requirement

Praetexo!” I whispered and tapped the wand on the top of my head, feeling the effects of the spell take hold. I waited a few seconds, before nodding and moving to stand in front of the nearby mirror.

Nothing but a very faint, watery shimmer in the air when standing still. I moved slowly, noting as the shimmer grew stronger. I frowned.

It had been like this for a week. The same weak shimmer that strengthened when I began to move.

I canceled the spell and approached the mirror, staring at my own face. I took in my expression of annoyance and let out an explosive breath, fogging up the mirror and hiding my reflection.

“Why can’t I go completely invisible?” I turned away from the mirror, the annoyance building again. I’d mastered the wand movement, the incantation and the intent.

What was I missing?

“There shouldn’t be any reason I’m messing this up!”

I raged for a few more moments before getting myself under control.

Focus, Clarke.

I narrowed my eyes in thought. I need to write this down.

I sat down at the table in the corner, so generously provided by this amazing room— it never ceased to amaze— before reaching into my backpack and pulling my pencil case and notebook out.

A few seconds later, and I was scrawling notes.

I paused. “This needs to be step by step.”

Beginning step is the intent. Next step is the wand motion and incantation to help settle the intent as well as channel the magic in the correct way.

I stopped. This was all just one step, if I really thought about it.

Intent. It kept coming back to intent.

So, just what was intent? I lifted the pen from the paper and considered the question.

“Intent. Intent. Intent.” I kept repeating. I’d tried adjusting the power flow, but my intent was another story. True, I’d shifted the meaning and improved immensely— the book never mentioned anything beyond achieving a chameleon-like camouflage.

I leaned back in my seat and pondered the implications.

If I had to describe what I looked like under the camouflage, the closest thing would have been that I was covered in a layer of water.

Yes, that was it: I’d used the feeling of being covered by something slimy and adapted it into my actual intent to hide. Instead of a solid camouflage, I’d instead used a liquid one.

Solid to liquid… I raised my hand to my mouth and bit into my fingernail— a nervous habit of mine that I couldn’t quite shake, even in this world.

That, in itself, raised a few questions: were habits something enforced by the body, or the soul?

Stick to one issue at a time, Clarke. I thought and made a note at the start of the notebook before going back to my earlier train of thought.

“Solid is the chameleon appearance.” I wrote down. “The books stop there, but seeing as how I was able to reach a higher stage, the limits of this spell haven’t been charted.”

The limits either hadn’t been charted, or they had, but were kept secret.

The next stage was water— “A strange, watery shimmer… Well, a little more viscous than water, but still obviously a liquid.”

Logically speaking, the next step was to reach a gaseous state, wasn’t it? It would only make sense. However, it made me pause.

What was the limit? Assuming I reached a gaseous state, would that be considered perfect invisibility? Or, was there an even higher state of effectiveness?

I nodded down at the paper. “I have to reach the gaseous state before considering going any further.”

I pushed myself off the table and retrieved my wand, before standing in front of the mirror once more. I focused my will and intent and cast the Disillusionment Charm, watching myself disappear under the shimmering effect of water.

Looking at it now, I didn’t even understand how I’d never seen the logic behind it all. Dividing it into natural states of matter made so much sense.

With a wave, I undid the Charm and stared at myself. “Focused intent. Gaseous camouflage. I want to hide. I want to be unseen.”

I closed my eyes, trying to change my mindset. I didn’t want the feeling of liquid around me, but I wanted the feeling of gas. No, that wasn’t right.

I breathed slowly, paying attention to the air as it left my lungs. “Think… What is the most insignificant thing?”

Solids were heavy and quite inflexible.

Liquids were still heavy, though their density was much lower, which allowed for much better manipulation and flexibility. Still, they could not be compressed.

Gas was light, compressible, and easy to manage.

I realized, however, that there was something else, even… I didn’t think the term “lighter” applied, but if I was right…

The Void in which I slept after I’d died, and before I’d been reborn…

A scary thought, indeed.

I felt my pulse quicken.

I opened my eyes and stared at my reflection again. I was already going over unknown territory with liquids and possibly gas. Should I just skip that step and go even further?

I looked into my own eyes.

“No.” I decided. Though this research was what drove me, I wasn’t going to try this. At least, not yet: I had to do this right.

“I’m not ready for… that.” I took a deep breath and closed my eyes again, tapping the wand atop my head and focusing my will to form a gaseous camouflage. “Praetexo!”

I felt a cold vapor caress my skin, turning it slightly moist as it covered my entire body. Once the sensation ended, I opened my eyes.

I couldn’t see any— no, I saw it. I was visible, but only just barely. “So, this is the gaseous form.”

I moved myself around, watching the air around my form distort heavily, before the spell dissipated into nothing, revealing me once again.

I blinked; that had been much harder to maintain than the previous ones. Further proof that I’m not ready to try anything further.

Nodding again, I went back to my notebook and began to write.

The intent is key. This spell actually functions on different levels, as it were. I say ‘levels’, but that’s actually a concept defined by myself to make it easier for me to understand.

Obviously the actual number of levels between each ‘level’ is infinite, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m keeping it to three levels— possibly four.

The first level: solid camouflage. The basic Disillusionment Charm taught in the book. My body takes on the texture of whatever’s behind me. Easy to see in the light, but works decently in the darkness.

The second level: water camouflage. I’d discovered this with a little tinkering of intent. My body is covered by a sort of liquid which takes on the texture of what’s behind me. It goes a step further and hides my specific contours. With the first level, I can still tell what kind of clothes I’m wearing, even if they look like whatever’s behind them. It’s easy to spot. With the liquid form, it’s much less noticeable.

The third level: gaseous camouflage. Still in the early stage, I couldn’t hold it for longer than five seconds. I become almost completely invisible; No contours, no shimmer of water. However, the air around me distorts, much like with heat.

Possible fourth level: Void. Will master the third level before even considering this possible route.

With that, I put down my pen and leaned back against the chair, letting out a loud sigh.

“At this rate, I’ll be running out of ink long before the end of the first year.” I opened my pencil case and counted fifteen ink cartridges. If I’d only been doing my homework, I probably would’ve had no trouble, whatsoever.

I looked around the Room of Requirement. The Room of Hidden things probably had a lot of ink to write with— school kids lost their supplies all the time, after all.

Certainly, a useful place. Still, assuming I found a decent supply of ink, in there, I had to figure out how to get it in the cartridges. Otherwise, it would have been pointless.

The Levitation Charm only worked with solid objects. It’d fail with water. I remembered that Dumbledore was able to work a spell by using the water from the Ministry of Magic’s fountain, but would that work with ink?

Something to research, at the very least. I penned a note on another page, before gathering my things.

Wait. I stopped and reopened the notebook, writing something else down: The Switching Spell. A fourth year spell taught in Transfiguration Class.

Yes, that would have to be my first avenue of research. My stomach twitched uncomfortably, interrupting my train of thought.

“I should probably get something to eat, huh?”

With that, I took my things and vacated the Room of Requirement. I watched the door fade into the stone wall around it, still marveling at the magic I was seeing.

This was the proof I was looking for. The door was completely gone. I placed my hand against the stone wall. Absolutely gone. It was possible to apply something like this to my Disillusionment Charm.

With a nod, I adjusted the shoulder strap on my backpack and made my way to the Great Hall, my ebony wand held in a reverse grip, pressed against my wrist to hide it from view.

Using the Disillusionment Charm at this time of day to hide was impossible— not that I needed it anymore.

The Slytherins were otherwise occupied with in-House matters.

Matters I created. I thought in amusement.

I remembered seeing Malfoy’s furious demeanor, as well as that of Nott the day after my plan.

I’d been right on the money with that stunt, but once hadn’t been enough to stop them. A few of the upper years were getting paid off by Draco to harass me.

Most notably among them were Bletchley, a few of his friends, and Marcus Flint.

In response, I’d undertaken several more trips and had sown discord among Bletchley’s circle, as well as Marcus Flint’s.

I had expected those trips to be harder, as I was dealing with more experienced wizards, but I’d overestimated the older students.

My own adult bias was at play; I had assumed they’d be more aware of themselves and their surroundings.

Sadly, they were as susceptible as the younger students. It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise: the oldest student in the castle was over two decades younger than my mental age, after all.

I shook my head. At the end of the day, I’d basically thrown a wrench in the cogs that made the Slytherin unit what it was.

For the time being, they wouldn’t bother me for quite a while— at least, until they dealt with issues closer to home.

In an ideal scenario, the more level headed members would seize the moment and take however much control they could get their hands on.

Realistically, however, they’d probably do nothing. Kids, while quick on the uptake and energetic, had a tendency to follow the pack.

It took strong egos to assume leadership roles, I mused as I went down the stairs from the seventh floor.

Followers who aspired to be leaders would always be a step behind, in that sense.

It wasn’t that they were stupid— far from it. Leadership, however, was not solely an intelligence based role.

Reaching the top spot required a brazen demeanor, as well as a certain charisma to balance it out.

It got me thinking, by the time I reached the third floor. How the fuck had Tom Riddle convinced the Slytherins of his time to join his cause?

Shouldn’t they have rejected him out of hand for being a Mudblood?

I paused in my steps. This was a question I’d pondered before I’d been reincarnated. A strange glitch in Rowling’s plot logic. An oddity that didn’t really bear much thinking: it was a mistake, an inconsistency, but unimportant because it was fiction.

Except, this was no longer fiction to me. This was real. Even the most innocuous of questions could lead to unknown paths.

I resumed my walk, joining up with my fellow Ravenclaws a few minutes later.

“All right, Adam?” Goldstein greeted and sidled up to me with a friendly smile. “I couldn’t find you earlier.”

How to answer…

“I like to exercise in the morning.” I decided to go with the truth. Of course, I left out that I did this exercise in the Room of Requirement. “Sorry, Anthony.”

Part of me genuinely meant that. For all his clumsiness and clinging, I had to admit that the kid had grown on me.

Unlike Boot, who’d quickly faded out of my notice, I could tell that Goldstein was an earnest young lad— the kind who tried their best to make friends, only to find that they’re being ignored.

He just reminds me of myself, when I was his age. I thought. That’s all.

“S’all right.” Anthony waved the apology off, before turning to be in excitement. “It’s Halloween, today! Can you believe we’ve almost been here for two months? It feels like yesterday that we started.”

I chuckled. “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

Or when you’re developing and tweaking spells to help you learn to fight better, as well as for the sake of learning.

Speaking of battling… I had an idea today, involving the Shield Charm. A powerful spell, capable of shrugging off most curses like it was nothing.

What if I could… Bah, a ridiculous thought. I shook it off in time to answer Goldstein’s question. “Yes, I finished the Charms homework.”

“Oh! Um…” Here, he looked a little lost. “Can I, erm… Take a look?”

“You want to copy off me?” I snorted in amusement. It was something I did with my group of friends when I was growing up, in my previous life. We had each other’s backs on homework.

“No!” He said a little louder, drawing the gaze of several of the older students. “I mean, no. I just want to compare to see if I got anything wrong.”

“Sure.”

“I mean it’s okay if you don’t— what?”

“I said yes.” I chuckled as we entered the Great Hall. “You can.”

Seating myself at the Ravenclaw table, I helped myself to some bread, potatoes and sausage. “Hmm… Orange juice?”

A cup of orange juice appeared beside my plate.

I smiled. “Thank you.”

“Who are you talking to?” Goldstein sounded confused, before pointing at the glass of orange juice. “And, how’d that get there? I thought the school only serves pumpkin juice.”

“Don’t call that awful stuff juice. It’s gross.” I made a face. “Pineapple or orange juice, or I don’t want it.”

“I like apple juice.” Goldstein said, just as a cup of apple juice appeared before him. “It’s— oh, brilliant! How?”

“House Elves prepare our meals. They’re listening.” I replied, taking a few bites of the sausage.

“What’s a House Elf?” Came the expected question.

“I would’ve thought your mom or dad would’ve told you about them.” I shrugged and continued. “House Elves are magical creatures, pretty small— nothing like the elves we’ve seen in books or movies. They serve wizards.”

Goldstein stared at his cup of apple juice before taking a sip. “This is amazing. I’ve been forcing myself to drink pumpkin juice all this time.”

I winced. “I don’t envy you, at all.”

“You could’ve told me about this, earlier!” He pouted.

“You never asked.” I replied, getting a little defensive. “I thought you knew!”

He huffed for a moment, before seemingly letting it go. “Fine. Sorry.”

I snorted and dug into my bag, pulling out a roll of parchment. “Here’s the homework.”

He glanced at me as he was taking a large gulp of the juice, nodding into the cup and getting his chin wet in the process. I watched him get annoyed and place the cup down before wiping his face clean.

What an amusing kid.

I continued my lunch, answering whatever questions he had as he was reading through the roll of parchment.

“Isn’t it too simple?”

“That’s the point.” I replied, looking at the boy askance. “We’re eleven. The professors are not expecting us to do anything mental.”

“Yeah…” Goldstein handed my homework back to me. “You’re probably right.”

“‘Course. I’m right about everything.” I gave the boy a flippant smirk.

He smiled back, a small fire lighting in his eyes. “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

The rest of the lunch period was spent in a companionable silence. Before I knew it, we were already seated in the Charms classroom, handing in our assignments to Professor Flitwick.

“Very good, children!” The short man smiled at all of us. “I trust you’ve had a good day so far?”

There was a weak chorus of “yes”-es going around.

“Splendid!” He exclaimed, almost falling off his podium again. “Now, today we will be going over the Levitation Charm…”

I smiled at the man’s enthusiasm, even as I glanced towards Granger. Today was the day.

“As you may have been able to notice.” Professor Flitwick got my attention again. “I’ve put feathers in front of each student. Your task, for the next few classes, is to successfully cast the Levitation Charm.”

As he continued to explain the use of the Levitation Charm, I thought about the spell’s applications.

Simply put, it was some form of Telekinesis, though heavily limited. Objects were levitated very slowly. And, as the Professor was explaining just then, the spell worked only on solid objects. You could not levitate liquid or gas. Also, you could not levitate people, either.

This brought me to the next, logical question: how was Voldemort capable of flight?

I added another item to the list.

I snorted. The list of things to study just kept growing and growing. I smiled and put the notebook away. I watched the Professor continue to explain the intricacies of the spell’s history, before gesturing for us to begin, while reminding us to swish and flick.

Wingardium Leviosa.” I made the necessary wand motion, spoke the words and focused my intent. The feather floated around with ease.

“Well done, Mr. Clarke!” Flitwick squeaked in excitement. “I take it you’ve practiced this spell already?”

“Of course, sir.” I gave a smile and a nod.

“As I thought.” Flitwick smiled back. “Five points to Ravenclaw, for an exemplary work ethic. You would all do well to learn from Mr. Clarke. Now, keep going!”

I stifled a wince as I brought the feather down and canceled the spell. Did he want the others to target me?

I sighed and turned to Goldstein. “You good?”

“I think so.” He frowned in concentration and made the wand motion. “Wingardium Leviosa.”

The feather twitched, but otherwise remained immobile.

“Ugh.” Anthony groaned in dismay. “It’s not working.”

“It twitched.” I pointed out. “You must be doing something right. Try again.”

I kept my eyes firmly on his casting, as well as the feather.

Wingardium Leviosa.” It twitched again, a little stronger this time.

“Hm…” I took a deep breath. “Your wand motion and pronunciation seem fine. Tell me what you’re thinking when you cast the spell.”

“What I’m thinking?” Anthony repeated. “Um… That I want it to fly around?”

“Oh, I see.” I nodded to him. “Try imagining that you’re lifting it with your hand.”

Anthony frowned for a moment, before nodding. “All right. Here goes. Wingardium Leviosa.

The feather rose a few inches before falling back down.

“Yes!” Goldstein cheered. “I did it. Thanks, Adam.”

“No problem, Anthony.” I replied, waving it off.

“Tony.” He answered.

“Huh?” I turned to him.

“You can call me Tony.” Anthony— Tony— repeated with an insistent nod.

I shrugged. “Tony, it is.”

There was a commotion from the Gryffindor’s side. Ah, Granger looked annoyed at something Weasley said. That had been happening more often, as of late.

“You do it then, if you’re so clever!” Weasley said condescendingly. “Go on!”

Granger levitated her feather with no effort. I should know, I’m the one she’d practiced it with a week before.

She smiled at me. I nodded back, a placid expression on my face as Flitwick began to heap praise upon the girl.

I saw the envy and anger quickly form on Weasley’s face and knew what that would lead to.

What do I do about it? I asked myself. This day has been a long time coming. The girl’s bathroom. The troll. Potter and Weasley saving Granger. Do I interfere? Do I do anything?

Do I care? Another part sneered.

The thoughts continued to roil inside my head, even as I prepared to exit the class with the others.

“Mr. Clarke? Can you stay behind for a moment?” Professor Flitwick called me over.

“…Of course, Professor.” I gave a significant glance to the door, wondering just what kind of inconvenient timing this was. I looked at Tony. “Meet you at the Library?”

“Count on it.” Tony nodded and left the class with the others.

I turned to the short man. “You wanted to speak to me, sir?”

“Oh, yes! Have a seat, Mr. Clarke.” Flitwick waved his wand and Summoned a chair over. I sat down without a word.

“Do you know which spell I just used?” The Professor asked, a smile on his face as he took a seat atop his podium.

“The Summoning Charm, sir.” Was my answer.

“Correct! You do read ahead, don’t you?” Flitwick asked.

“It’s magic, sir.” I replied with, confusion settling on my face. “I’d be a fool not to. Plus, once I saw Professor Snape use it on my acceptance letter, I knew I had to learn it.”

“Learn it, my boy?” Professor Flitwick raised his eyebrows. “You’re saying you’re able to perform the Summoning Charm? It’s a Fourth Year spell.”

I nodded and pulled out my wand. “Anything in particular I can cast the spell on?”

Professor Flitwick grew excited and pointed off to the side. I turned to see a shelf stacked with small pillows. “I keep these specifically for Summoning Charm practice as well as the Banishing Charm. Perhaps a few others.”

“All right.” I nodded and pointed my wand towards the topmost pillow, an ugly lime-green monstrosity. I focused my intent and spoke the word: “Accio.”

The pillow smoothly flew into my hand. I displayed it to the Professor.

“Incredible!” Flitwick gushed. “A Fourth Year spell in your first year of schooling? My, my… I would have asked if you had received tutoring prior to your time in Hogwarts, but…”

Orphan.

I returned the pillow back to its shelf, not giving him a reply.

“That was indelicate of me.” Flitwick replied. I turned, seeing the man look bummed out at his blunder. “I apologize.”

“It’s the truth.” I shrugged it off. “But if it eases your mind… apology accepted, sir.”

Professor Flitwick nodded in acknowledgment, though he sent me a thoughtful frown. “I’ll admit, I didn’t call you here to ask about your prowess with magic so far above your year.”

“…Sir?” I asked, feeling a little unsure.

“Ah, don’t fret.” He raised his hands to placate me. “You are not in trouble. As you know, I am the Head of Ravenclaw House, and it’s my duty to see that my First Years are acclimating very well.”

Tell that to Luna. I immediately thought, but said nothing on the matter.

I nodded, urging him without words to proceed.

He smiled. “You’ve obviously acclimated well to the scholastic side of things; the other Professors find you to be a delight.”

I held back a snort. He definitely had to be buttering me up. I basically slept in History of Magic, and paid absolutely no attention in Defense Against the Dark Arts.

And, however much canon information I had on the series, I doubted I was anything more than decent at Transfiguration.

“Thank you, sir.” I had an idea where he was going with this.

“You’re welcome.” Professor Flitwick, before seemingly changing the topic. “You are getting along well with your peers?”

And, there it is. I thought. I’d been careful not to show it. I’d been careful not to head towards the Room of Requirement too often, lest I get this exact sort of attention.

And yet, I still drew unnecessary attention.

Annoying.

“Oh, yes, sir. We all get along famously. Tony and I— I mean Anthony and I— spend a lot of time together now.”

He smiled at my correction.

“That’s good to hear.” The Professor opened his mouth to say something else when Padma Patil burst through the door.

“Professor!” Patil cried, looking distressed. “You need to come, quickly!”

Outside of the office, we could hear the sound of a scuffle. A fight?

“Sorry I have to end this conversation on a bad note, lad.” Flitwick apologized quickly before hopping off the podium.

“It’s fine.” I replied, but he was already halfway out.

I followed the man out of the classroom and into the hallways, where a crowd of children stood, hiding whatever was ahead from view.

Seeing the Professor, the group immediately parted, revealing Weasley and Tony rolling together on the stone floor. A fight?

Holy—

“What is the meaning of this!” Professor Flitwick yelled, the sound completely alien to me.

This is the first time in two months that I’ve heard him raise his voice, let alone yell like that.

The two boys froze while on the ground, turning wide eyes towards the Professor. The surprise on their faces quickly turned into dismay and mortification.

Potter, who was standing with the crowd, looked relieved that the entire debacle was over, though he shot Weasley a nervous, if guilty glance.

Tony and Weasley immediately parted, each speaking over the other in an attempt to get their own story across. Professor Flitwick waved his wand, and both were silent.

Silencing Charm.

“One at a time.” He dispelled the charm and turned to Ron. “Mr. Weasley.”

“He hit me, out of nowhere, Professor!” Weasley claimed instantly.

“You insulted Adam!” Tony turned furiously. “Called him an arrogant loser! And insulted Granger, too!”

So that’s what happened, huh. First time another kid in school stood up for me.

My heart lightened at that. Tony— he really was an earnest boy, huh?

Professor Flitwick threw me a quick glance before taking a step forward, addressing both boys.

“Mr. Goldstein. A week’s worth of detentions. We do not assault students here, for whatever reason.” Flitwick said curtly.

“But…” Tony shook his head. “Yes, Professor.”

“Good.” Flitwick turned to Ron, who was too busy trying to hide a smug grin. “As for you, Mr. Weasley. A week’s detention, as well.”

“But, I didn’t start the fight!” Weasley immediately protested.

“You did not.” Professor Flitwick replied. “However, your behavior leaves much to be desired, young man. A week’s worth of detention. Now, let’s get you boys to the Hospital Wing, and make sure you haven’t hurt yourselves.”

He turned to the crowd surrounding us. “You’re going to miss your classes, children. Go on!”

“Sir, I…” Tony hesitated.

“One week’s worth of detention, Mr. Goldstein.” Professor Flitwick repeated.

“No, no! It’s not that.” Tony quickly corrected himself as the crowd dispersed, leaving Flitwick, Tony, Weasley, Potter and myself in the hallway. “It’s that I have to return a book to the Library, and I don’t want to get Madam Pince angry with me, sir.”

“Ah, yes.” Flitwick’s tone gained a certain level of amusement. “Not someone to offend, Madam Pince is.”

“I’ll take it back.” I offered immediately.

“A splendid idea!” Professor Flitwick accepted, and motioned for Tony to hand me the book. It took a few seconds for him to dig it out of his pack.

“I’ll return it, don’t worry.” I took the book from his hands. “Thanks for looking out for me, Tony.”

We shared a smile, despite the tense situation.

“Come along, boys.” Flitwick said before walking away— Weasley and Goldstein quickly following him.

I turned to Potter, who gave me an uncomfortable look.

“I should go…” He said, sounding awkward.

“Arrogant loser, huh?” I said before he could leave. “Do I really give off that impression?”

Harry flinched. “I— no, you don’t! Ron is just…”

Was he feeling bad about betraying his only friend?

Maybe I shouldn’t give him shit for what Weasley did.

At this stage in life, Potter had mostly known neglect from his guardians, and bullying from his cousin’s circle of friends.

“What about Granger?” I decided to continue. “I don’t know what he said about her, but it probably wasn’t nice, either.”

Here, he looked even more uncomfortable.

“You know what the worst thing in the world is, Potter?” I stowed Tony’s book in my backpack before shouldering it once again.

He didn’t answer immediately. “What?”

“A bully.” I told him. “Is that what you want to become?”

His eyes flashed with suppressed anger and his body language turned hostile. “Never.”

Those eyes…

I almost took a step back. There was a fire in those eyes.

This kid is intense. Not surprising, considering who he is…

“I believe you.” I said, trying to defuse the situation. “You don’t seem like the sort of person who hurts others for fun.”

That seemed to appease him, judging by his now relaxed stance.

“I’ll apologize to her.” He declared, finally understanding what I was getting at.

“That’d be for the best, yeah.” I turned and walked away. “See you around.”

“…Right.” I heard the other boy say before I turned a corner and made my way to the moving staircases. My destination: Hogwarts Library.

I waited as the staircase slowly spun towards me, my mind working at a mile a minute. Was I not a background character, as I initially thought?

I began to feel silly. Of course, I couldn’t be a background character. Someone in the background would never be able to have this much influence in the story. On some level, I’d intuitively known this.

Hell, I could have probably taken a knife to any main character just to prove that point. The books would have most assuredly covered an event as important as that.

I shook the thought away. My own prowess with magic had already changed Weasley’s behavior— if only minutely. He had two focuses for his feelings of inadequacy, now: Hermione, and myself.

I hadn’t even planned on interfering with events, content with ensuring my own safety, as well as exploring all of the secrets magic had to offer. I was hoping to ride out these few years until I was able to leave Hogwarts Castle and travel the world in search of its true mysteries.

However, even when I did nothing, things radically changed. Tony was never supposed to get in a fight with Weasley. The two were never supposed to get sent to the Hospital Wing.

I felt my breath quicken as I went down the stairs, quickly catching the second set, as well. I ran through the scenario. Potter alone against a troll would possibly lead to both himself, and Granger dying.

How long until Pomphrey would have sent the boys back out? Quickly enough for the Halloween evening feast?

What the hell am I doing? I stopped myself from freaking out. Breathe, Clarke. Why am I interfering?

Face it, you enjoy the fuzzball’s company. Another part of me said. Plus, can you really forgive yourself if a troll kills her, when you know you could’ve saved her?

I didn’t answer that question. I’d said, before, that I wouldn’t have cared if someone found themselves on the business end of another’s wand in Knockturn Alley, and that was still true, at least.

It wasn’t my job to police the nation.

But Granger— Hermione, I corrected myself quietly— had been hanging around me for a while now. Was I comfortable with just letting her die?

Forget the fact that she was an integral character to the plot.

At the end of the day, it was just a little girl, and I’d be damned if I let her die.

A few minutes later, I was standing before Madam Pince as she looked over Goldstein’s borrowed book.

“You didn’t borrow this tome, Mr. Clarke.” She looked at me, eyes heavy with suspicion.

“I did not.” I confirmed without missing a beat. “Tony— Anthony Goldstein— had to go to the Hospital Wing. I’m returning the book for him.”

She absorbed the words. “Thoughtful boy. Very well.”

Then, she walked away, book in hand.

Did she just compliment someone?

That had been a first.

This day, so far, was proving to be very strange. Rowling’s obsession with weird events on Halloween might have been the root cause of this.

Spying a familiar, fuzzy head of hair in the Library’s corner, I stopped. What was Granger doing, here? Wasn’t she supposed to be in one of the bathrooms?

Hermione hadn’t noticed me, just yet. She was hunched over, one of the notebooks I’d lended her open in front of her. And, yet, she wasn’t writing in it.

She was barely even moving, her shoulders hunched together and— She’s crying, isn’t she? Fuck.

Hermione hadn’t gone to the bathroom, but she’d come to the Library, instead. There was only one reason for that: me.

I’d upended canon events without even trying.

It reminded me of a book I’d read in my previous life: ‘The things that really change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.’*

No matter what I did, or didn’t do, I was going to affect things, whether I liked it or not.

I stared at the quietly sobbing girl for another instant, my mind made up.

I was going to do whatever I wanted, regardless of whatever the outcome was going to be. And, what I currently wanted to do was comfort the girl who’d wormed her way into my good graces, despite being a pushy, annoying little know-it-all brat.

The canon can go fuck itself. This is my life, now.

I walked towards the girl, placed my hand at her shoulder and gave her a hug. She quickly hugged me back, her sobbing intensifying— yet still quiet. Even now, she was following the rules of the Library.

What a strange child.

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