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Harmless Quirrell

November 3, 1991, 9:30 AM, Great Hall

“I still can’t believe a troll actually made its way into the castle!” I heard an older Ravenclaw student say as Goldstein and I entered the Great Hall for breakfast.

“Come off it, it can’t have!” Another student disagreed. “Trolls aren’t even smart enough to talk, let alone breach through Hogwarts’ defenses!”

“Why else would Quirrell have—”

Quirrell’s likely to piss himself at the sight of a flobberworm.” The first student waved it off. “Besides, I’ve seen weirder things happen.”

“Like what?”

“Remember the time when we went to the Whomping Willow, and…” the two students’ voices faded as they moved away from us.

“It’s mad, I say!” Draco Malfoy cried from the Slytherin table as we passed him by. “Letting a troll slip by, right under all the Professors’ noses, too! I’ll be writing to my father about this. There will have to be some changes around here, just you see.”

Of course you will, Malfoy. I suppressed a snort as we finally reached our spot at the Ravenclaw table. I took my seat and helped myself to some eggs.

“Orange juice?” I asked, and the elves delivered. Smiling, I took a sip.

“What do you think about all this, Adam?” Goldstein said, playing with his own food.

“Hmm?” I speared through the bacon and took a bite, reveling in its crispy goodness. “About what?”

“The troll.” Tony looked annoyed for a moment. “What do you think?”

“Oh.” I said, wiping at my mouth. “I don’t really have an opinion, one way or the other. They caught it, didn’t they?”

“Well, yes…” Goldstein said, still sounding unsure.

“Yeah.” I nodded, as if it solved everything. “It rampaged around some bathroom, and the professors managed to subdue it somehow. You think anything can stand against the combined might of Professors Flitwick, McGonagall, Snape and Dumbledore?”

Goldstein’s worried look turned sheepish. “I guess, when you put it like that…”

“Don’t worry about it, Antho— I mean Tony.” I hastened to correct at the boy’s glare, smiling sheepishly. “Sorry, I’m not used to, um…”

“It’s okay.” Tony said quickly, before his eyebrows scrunched in confusion. “Wait, why Snape?”

“What do you mean?” I said.

“Snape’s scary sometimes, yeah.” Goldstein said, daring to throw a glance towards the Head table. “But he teaches Potions! I can understand Professor McGonagall at least, because Transfiguration is hard stuff. Even you have trouble with it, and you’re good at everything.”

Jesus, kid, twist the knife deeper, why don’tcha? I huffed, resisting the urge to wince.

My lack of stellar grades in Transfiguration was something that had been bugging me for some time. I did rather well at all other subjects. Defense Against the Dark Arts, Charms… Even Snape was giving me O-s!

However, in Transfiguration, I just couldn’t hack it. Sure, my theory was solid, and I clearly understood what I was supposed to do.

The problem was I couldn’t do it well.

And I couldn’t figure out why, for the life of me.

“You okay?” Goldstein’s words fell on deaf ears.

Maybe I needed to rethink my stance on Transfiguration? Perhaps a meeting with the good Professor would help me understand my weaknesses better, so I could work around them, in some way.

Tony snapped his fingers in front of my face. “Adam!”

“Huh?” I blinked out of my fugue state. “Tony? What is it?”

“You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?” I frowned.

“Thinking too much.” He looked exasperated.

I stared at the boy for a second. “Would you rather I not think at all?”

“No, of course not!” Tony huffed, smiling. “You’re impossible. I bet you don’t cause Granger this much grief.”

At that, I smirked. “You’d be surprised at what I’m capable of, young man.”

“You’re my age!”

If only you knew. I thought and waved his words away. “Details. Anyway, Professor Snape might teach Potions, but I’ve heard… from the older students, that he’s pretty good at Defense, too.”

“Oh.” Goldstein looked thoughtful. “Yeah, that makes sense.”

I nodded and turned back to my meal.

“Speaking of Granger…” Tony caught my attention again, nodding his head towards the Gryffindor table. “She seems pretty chummy with Potter, now.”

I turned my head in that direction to see that Goldstein was right.

Took his sweet time to apologize to her, Potter did. I thought. Better late than never, I guess.

The two were chatting animatedly between each other, while Weasley sat on the sideline, impaling his food like it wronged him, somehow.

More than that, he didn’t seem to have an appetite for anything, which meant a lot, considering this was the kid who could consume around his own body weight in food— in one sitting, mind you.

An exaggeration, but it was one that put a smile on my face. He’ll come around.

“Look at him.” Goldstein said, scowling. “Weasley. He’s just hanging around them like nothing happened.”

I guess he’s still sore about what happened.

Tony looked like he was ready to march over there and punch the redhead in the face again.

“Easy.” I placed my hand on his shoulder and pressed it down. “You don’t want to get another week in detention, do you?”

Tony huffed, shook my hand off and sank in his seat, his meal forgotten for the time being. “I hate it when you’re right.”

“So, all the time?” I smiled, not having been able to resist.

“Shut up, Clarke.” His words were harsh but the smile on his face belied his raised spirits.

I noticed our yearmates beginning to get up and took it as my cue to do the same.

I turned to Tony. “Coming with, or finishing up here?”

In response, Tony stuffed his face with toast and washed it down with juice.

“Nice Ron impression.” I laughed at the death glare he sent me, exiting the Great Hall with him hot on my heels.

He tried to throw insults my way, but with his mouth full, all I could hear was the muffled sound of impotent anger.

Music to my ears. I thought as we made our way to History class, the perfect period to plan out my next items of study.

We stuck with our fellow first years as we passed through the halls of Hogwarts.

“Months we’ve been here.” Tony said, his eyes fixed on our surroundings. “And this place is still brilliant.”

“Yeah.” I agreed, taking a moment to look at my surroundings. “It’s nothing like where I grew up. Square, concrete monstrosities; asphalt roads— the differences are like night and day.”

Tony hummed as we reached the class and took our usual seats at the back. I kept my eyes peeled for the door, watching as the Slytherin contingent came in and got seated.

Malfoy buffed his fingernails against his robe as he passed me by.

I shook my head at the overly obvious affectation— the old “pretend that he’s beneath you so you can make him angry” trick. Sometimes, I wished I was an adult, again.

At least, then, people’s insults would be more subtle.

“So what’ll you be working on, this time?” Tony said as he pulled out his various writing implements. “Solving world hunger?”

I snorted. Ever since I’d shown the boy some of my notes, he’d shaken his head and became prone to saying such things. “Nothing so crazy, there are just a few useful spells I’m reading up on.”

“Like what?”

“General purpose stuff.” Was my only answer.

“Oh come on.” He pleaded as Binns began his lecture in his usual droning voice. Already, a few students were fighting to stay awake. “You’ve got to give me something more than that!”

“Can’t talk.” I smirked as I stared down at my research journal. “Saving the world, one letter at a time.”

“Ugh.” And with that, Goldstein tried to pay attention to the lecture, leaving me alone with my thoughts. With Binns’ drone-like voice as the background, I began to write in my research journal/diary.

Or, at least, I tried to. Instead, I considered Goldstein’s offhand joke.

Solving world hunger, huh? I snorted. That’s something wizards have been able to do for a while, now. They’re just too blinded by their xenophobia to actually do anything about it. I shook my head. Better to just focus on myself, for now.

I turned the pages until I reached the Disillusionment Charm section.

I was able to activate the spell for twenty seconds. Considering this only took three days to accomplish, I’m astonished. I wrote down. The liquid aspect had been much more difficult, and the solid aspect even moreso. Perhaps I’m gaining an affinity to the magic, in question?

I scratched the back of my head. Maybe it’s nothing. I can’t help but worry that, if I become too good at one thing, I’ll stop progressing in another. Transfiguration has been getting harder.

I’m not sure whether it’s because of my inability to stop thinking of the material I’m changing as a set of molecules being re-arranged, or if I’m simply not good at Transfiguration.

I bit at the cap of my pen before writing some more. I suppose I may have to accept the possibility that I won’t be able to do some things? Maybe that’s why people specialize in certain fields and abhor others.

Neville’s grandmother was terrible at Charms, wasn’t she? And yet, she’d been considered powerful.

I nodded, mind made up. It could be the mental block, or it could be that I was not suited to Transfiguration— it didn’t matter. I would gain a working knowledge of the theory and do my best, regardless.

I wouldn’t avoid magic because the going got tough. Besides, there was a good possibility that I’d improve. It wasn’t as if I wasn’t even able to do transfigurations— I just couldn’t match Granger or Greengrass’ skill with the magic.

I nodded, the matter finally decided.

I turned the pages and opened up the battle section. There was much less content here, as I hadn’t really had the need for anything substantial; a few jinxes, some minor hexes. Something which the professors could easily reverse.

It would be hard to explain to Flitwick why I’d learned the Bonebreaker, or the Blasting Curse. I snorted. Just a little.

The spell I was currently interested in was the last in the list.

Protego. It was a spell considered to be standard issue, but I had some thoughts on it; how to change it, how to tweak it.

In my past life, I’d seen instances of this spell be used to defend against much more powerful magic than the base spell— and I’d also seen it used offensively.

I stared at the writing beneath the spell.

Variants increasing defense: Maxima, Horribilis, Totalum.

Other variants: Diabolica.

I frowned at the last one. A spell of blue flame that was able to detect the loyalty of those passing through it— I wasn’t even sure how it was even considered a Shield Charm. And yet, that’s what it had been classified as.

In a way, it ‘shields’ the user from betrayal. The thought occurred to me. I nodded, accepting the logic.

All of these variants were interesting, but I had other ideas in mind. I continued to write:

The Shield Charm is essentially an invisible or translucent shield that reflects spells and blocks physical objects. Conjurations rebound off of it. It can block most offensive spells with the exception of piercers, and the Unforgivables. It can also break after receiving a certain amount of damage.

So far, I’ve been able to conjure up a weak shield. Tested it by running into tables— it can take a solid hit before shattering.

Like with the Disillusionment Charm, it would be interesting to manipulate the Shield Charm. In this case, I wouldn’t bother changing the shield’s nature. A solid shield is, obviously, more useful than a liquid or gaseous shield. I stopped for a moment, deciding to ignore the Void aspect for now. Instead of changing the spell’s nature, I will see if I can change its shape.

I grinned. Something like this could be incredible to research.

The image of myself, twisting my wand and surrounding myself with a flurry of Protego shards came to mind. Untouchable, unstoppable.

It would make it a reality. I flipped open a book on defensive magic I’d borrowed from the Library and began to read through the Shield Charm’s section again.

I had to master the baseline spell before even thinking about going further with it, after all.

Some time later, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

“Class is over.” It was Tony, looking over my shoulder. “Reading up on the Shield Charm? Isn’t that a little advanced, even for you?”

“Won’t get anywhere by taking things slow.” Came the automatic response, but I closed the book and packed my things away regardless.

“Yeah.” Tony said, though he didn’t sound too sure of that. “Speaking of slow, we’ve got Quirrell next.”

I stifled a grimace as we left Binns behind and joined the remaining Ravenclaws.

“Hey, Clarke.” Came the greeting from Michael.

“Had a nice nap?” I smiled as we made our way to Defense.

One of the girls, Sue Li, dropped in a fit of giggles, prompting the rest of my yearmates to join in— with the exception of Boot, who was sending me a dirty look.

I ignored it, of course.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night.” Michael admitted sheepishly, a bit of red creeping into his cheeks.

“Oh.” I raised an apologetic hand. “Sorry.”

“No, no.” He quickly said. “It’s nothing.”

“Yeah, mind your own business, Clarke.” Boot cut in and walked faster, pulling Michael with him.

This kid will never let that go, huh?

I shrugged and turned my attention back to Tony.

“What’s his deal?” Tony asked.

“No idea.” I lied. “Probably woke up on the wrong side of bed.”

“Yeah…”

The next minute passed in companionable silence as we trailed behind the main group through the halls of Hogwarts.

“I don’t know why they even let Binns or Quirrell teach, here.” Tony said, his face scrunched up in revulsion. “Especially Quirrell. He’s supposed to be the one teaching us how to deal with curses and magical creatures, but he ran away from the troll!”

I shrugged. “I guess teaching from a book doesn’t necessarily mean you have experience.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’re right.” Anthony said, sending me a glare. “No, don’t you dare.”

I smiled. “What?”

“You’re going to say something about you being always right.”

“Hey, you said it, not me.” My grin only seemed to irritate him further.

“Prat.” He gave me a playful shove before our group stopped in front of the Defense classroom, joining the Hufflepuff contingent of First Years.

“Professor Quirrell not here yet?” I asked.

The Hufflepuffs shrugged. Macmillan answered for them. “Probably running away from more trolls.”

Everyone shared a laugh until one of the girls yelped. We turned to her, and followed her gaze to see Professor Quirrell making his way towards us.

The group was deathly quiet as the Professor opened the door with a wordless wave of his wand.

Something was off about the man today, but no one seemed to notice. I followed the herd, taking my usual spot at the back, with Tony sitting beside me.

I kept my eyes trained on him like a hawk. I watched his every move, still just as practiced but also somehow jerky, as if his body was resisting an imposed change, or perhaps a wound.

Had Fluffy taken a bite out of him, rather than how it should’ve been, with Snape? I frowned, shaking my head. No. I can’t use canon as a baseline for my assumptions. I’ve already changed things enough. Who knows what could have happened?

And yet, I couldn’t shake this strange, sinking feeling.

Goldstein poked my shoulder.

“What?” I asked.

“Is it just me, or is the smell of garlic even stronger than normal?” Goldstein asked.

I blinked, taking a stronger whiff of the air. “I usually don’t breathe so fully when coming in here, but…” I took another whiff, wincing. “Yes. you’re right.”

“I guess the troll scared him more than I thought.” Corner whispered to us. Tony scoffed at the mere thought, muttering about useless Defense teachers.

He didn’t notice the color drain from my face. The garlic, it had been Quirrell’s method of hiding the rot which festered in the back of his head. It wasn’t rocket science: a stronger smell meant that the ‘rot’ was growing stronger.

Voldemort was increasing in strength, somehow.

Was this the natural flow of the possession process? How did Harry not notice this, in the books? Or, had he been too busy with his new friendship, as well as his upcoming Quidditch match that he wouldn’t have noticed it?

I shook my head with more force, this time. I didn’t want anything to do with this crap. I just wanted to focus on my ultimate goal: magic.

Let Quirrell play his games with Snape and Dumbledore.

I was an unknown to them; just another nameless face among a sea of students. Anonymity was safety.

Just do what you normally do in these classes, Clarke. The cold part of me stated. What you were planning on doing, in the first place.

I nodded to myself, banishing thoughts of anything except the Shield Charm out of my mind.

“T-today, we will be s-s-speaking about th-the Knockback Jinx…” His stutter remained the same, and I felt myself relax ever-so-slightly. “P-please turn your book to p-page seventy th-three.”

Good, something I’ve already practiced and know how to do. Should let me focus on more important things.

I cracked open my Defense Against the Dark Arts book, navigated to page seventy three, and placed the one I’d borrowed from the Library on top, tuning the professor out and focusing all of my mind on the Shield Charm, instead.

The incantation was ‘Protego’, the wand motion— a vertical line.

“Protego.” I mouthed over and over, pulling my wand out and tracing a vertical line in the air. I stopped for a second, wondering what sort of intent I needed to project for the spell to work.

Protego. I protect. I frowned. The intent to simply protect was so vague it wasn’t even funny. Protection in what form?

Then again, maybe that was the point. The Shield Charm was supposed to be an all purpose, defensive spell. Keeping the intent to a vague concept like protection would make it easier to cast, after all.

That would present me with another problem. Turning a protective shield into a weapon would be a little annoying. It was true that you could kill with a shield— shields weren’t harmless, after all.

I was more afraid that the spell would fail if I shaped the shield into something offensive, instead.

And yet, Grindelwald managed to do it with his fire variant. I thought. What’s the secret?

I had the feeling that this was something I wouldn’t be able to solve in a few minutes. I’d need to think about it some mo—

“Mr. Clarke?” Quirrell’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts.

My head raised so quickly that I felt dizzy. “Yes, sir?”

“I asked you a qu-question.” Quirrell’s face twitched into a smile, though I could tell he was annoyed from the furrowing of his brow.

Think fast!

“Oh.” I looked down for a second, scratching the back of my head with a smile plastered on my face. “I’m sorry, Professor. I think I got lost in thought.”

My classmates were amused, from the looks of their concealed grins and smirks.

Not everyday that the ‘star pupil’ gets in trouble, I suppose. I thought, feeling very uncomfortable at all the attention I was getting.

“I see.” Professor Quirrell said with a nod. “F-five points from Ravenclaw. If I c-catch you again, it will be d-d-detention on Friday. Is that c-clear, Mr. Clarke?”

“Crystal clear, Professor.” I nodded. “I apologize again.”

He seemed to consider my expression.

“I sh-shall give you a chance to r-r-redeem yourself, as it were.” Quirrell gestured for me to come to the front of the classroom.

With a gulp, I stowed my wand in my pocket, got off of the chair and headed where he told me to.

Why am I so afraid? It’s just a stupid schoolteacher throwing his weight around! The logical thought came. I shouldn’t have been feeling afraid; there was no reason to.

Except, this was Voldemort I was dealing with. So, there really was reason to be afraid.

I took a deep breath, ignoring my fellow students’ stifled laughter.

“Good, g-good.” Quirrell smiled and turned to the class, not noticing my wince at the even stronger stench of garlic. This close, I could almost imagine the smell of the rot being covered up. “Now, if you c-can cast the Knockback Jinx s-s-successfully, I will give Ravenclaw House three of the five points I took away.”

I stared at him with wide eyes. That’s it?

“Yes, sir.” I pulled my wand back out. “What would you like for me to use it on?”

Quirrell waved his wand and wordlessly Summoned his chair over, showcasing his magical skill. I narrowed my eyes. Even though the kids all made fun of his apparent cowardice, this was the man who would kill unicorns, trolls, and people without a second thought.

Stay focused, Clarke.

“Th-this chair will do, Mr. Clarke.”

I nodded and took a breath. I traced my wand in the spell’s pattern and incanted. “Flipendo!”

My magic eagerly answered the call as blue light flew out of my wand, hitting the chair and causing it to scrape along the stone floor until it tipped over with a loud clatter of wood.

“S-splendid!” Quirrell said, though he didn’t really look surprised. “I see that y-you’ve been s-s-studying ahead, Mr. Clarke!”

“Yes, sir.” I nodded, hoping the noncommittal answer would be enough. The rest of the class merely looked disappointed that I had not been put in my place— with the exception of Tony, who was looking relieved.

“As p-promised.” Quirrell continued. “You will only l-l-lose two of the five points that I’d d-deducted from Ravenclaw House.”

“Thank you, sir.” I plastered a fake, grateful smile on my face, playing the part of the relieved student. “May I go back to my seat, now?”

The Professor eyed me one last time, before gesturing me away.

I gave one, final nod before scurrying back to my seat.

“Good job.” Corner smirked as I passed him by.

“Thanks.” I quickly whispered and took my seat back, getting a pat on the shoulder from Tony.

He looked like he wanted to say something, but I mouthed “later.” He accepted the delay with a nod.

I stowed the book on the Shield Charm into my bag, and followed the teacher’s lecture for the rest of the class, not wanting a repeat of the previous incident.

Luckily, the class had already been close to finishing, as it was only a single period of Defense, and so it had only been a dull twenty minutes before I was free for the rest of the day.

When the time came, the Professor stuttered out his homework request— ten inches on the Knockback Jinx; how to cast it, what its uses were, the works— before sending us on our way.

“Mr. Clarke!” He called out as I got to the classroom’s exit.

I froze in place, slowly turning around to see Quirrell standing by his desk.

“Would you m-mind staying for a moment?” Quirrell’s face twitched into a smile. “This won’t t-take long.”

It wasn’t a request, I realized immediately.

“O-of course, sir.” I said, turning to Tony, who was looking a little worried. “Wait for me? We can head to the Library or something, after.”

“All right.” Goldstein nodded and left the class with the others.

Quirrell waited until everyone was out before closing the door with a wave of his wand. I felt my breath quicken at the action.

Stay calm, Clarke. I thought. He probably just wants to scold you some more, teach you about paying attention in class and all that tripe. Besides, you’ve got Tony waiting outside, nothing to worry about.

Tony being outside didn’t mean jack squat, part of me realized. Quirrell could put me under the Imperius Curse and no one would have noticed. He could do whatever he liked, and use the Obliviation Charm after to erase my memory of the events, after the fact.

There were so many ways he could mess with me, and no one would be able to trace it back to him.

No reason he’d do something like that, though. I thought furiously. I’m just a background character.

“Am I in trouble, sir?” I forced the words out.

Quirrell continued to stare at me for a few seconds, as if he could not figure me out. “No, y-you are not, young man.”

I blinked, lifting my head up, though I didn’t meet his eyes. “Is something the matter, sir?”

“How far have you reached in your d-defense curriculum?” Professor Quirrell asked, his eyes turning sharp. “Your use of the Knockback Jinx was flawless.”

“I, um…” I stammered, unsure about the whole situation. The stench of garlic felt like it was pressing onto me from all sides. I felt like vomiting.

“You can be honest with me, lad.” Quirrell said, placing a hand on my shoulder.

“Um, I’ve finished it.”

“The chapter?” He pressed.

“The entire book.” I said, forcing myself to be calm. “I can do all of the spells.”

“Is that so?” Quirrell flicked his wrist, his wand flying into his hand. “Show me your Verdimillious Charm.”

Does he not realize that he’s no longer stuttering? I thought, grabbing my wand so hard that it hurt my hand. Gently, Clarke.

Part of me realized that, if I’d known any powerful, offensive spells, I could have ended Quirrell, right then and there. Another part of me scoffed at the thought.

The only reason Quirrell had died in the books was because Harry had some kind of plot armor.

Prophecy armor. My mind snarled. You don’t. You’re going to die here. Or worse, your mind will be subsumed by his will, and you’ll be forced to do old Tom’s bidding. You’ll be the puppet’s puppet.

“Well, Mr. Clarke?” Quirrell cut off my train of thought. “I should hope that you haven’t been lying to me…”

“Ah, no sir.” I laughed, feeling the nervousness bleed out of me slightly. “I haven’t. I haven’t lied, that is.”

“Very well. Show me your Verdimillious Charm, and the Smokescreen Spell, as well.”

I turned and faced the wall, glad to not be looking at the Professor.

With a slash of my wand, I spoke the incantation, injecting the spell with thoughts of fire. “Verdimillious Tria!”

Green sparks flew out of my wand and impacted against the wall, leaving little scorch marks behind.

Very well done. Strong enough to cause burns, I see.” He clapped his hands twice, from behind me. “And your Smokescreen Spell?”

I tilted my head to the side, wondering just what the hell was going on, before shaking my head. Just do the spells and he’ll let you go.

“All right.” I traced my wand in a spiral and focused my intent to the feeling of obfuscation and obscuration. “Fumos!”

Dark, gray smoke spewed out of my wand, quickly filling the room and obscuring me from Quirrell’s view. I had to bite down on the urge to bolt to the door, even as Quirrell clapped twice, once more.

Astounding.” Quirrell said, sounding impressed, once more. “I have seen Third Years who are having trouble with this spell, and yet, in a few short months, you outstrip them in ability. I can see why you’d be looking over the Shield Charm, instead of paying attention in class.”

I froze, at that. He knew?

You can still make a break for it. Just make a beeline for the door and book it to the Headmaster.

Before I could turn thought into reality, the smoke began to dissipate. I turned, watching the smoke converge around the tip of the Professor’s wand.

“Interesting spell, isn’t it?” Quirrell lazily flicked his wand, sending the condensed ball of smoke towards the window, which opened just enough to let it out before closing back with a loud click.

I said nothing, cold shivers coursing through my body.

“Yes, sir.” I forced the words out.

“I was going to assume you’ve had prior teaching, but I’d already heard from Professor Flitwick that you live in an orphanage, lad.” Quirrell said. “Is that correct?”

“Yes, sir.” I felt my breath shake.

Quirrell nodded, his face twitching into that fake, horrible smile. “Professor Flitwick has been singing your praises. It’s gratifying to see that you take your studies seriously— unlike others.” He’d muttered the last part, almost too low for me to hear.

He’s talking about Potter? Or just the general students? I wondered.

“I try my best, sir.” I decided to play the ‘earnest, hardworking student’ card, suppressing another shiver. “I know I have to catch up to everyone, and magic is just so amazing! A few months ago, I wouldn’t have even thought I was capable of such feats…”

Quirrell maintained his stare, as if he saw right through the act.

Of course. I realized. Voldemort’s done this song and dance countless times before. He’d recognize a fellow practitioner.

“I imagine life before Hogwarts must not have been pleasant for you.” Quirrell said, his words probing and careful.

“I…” I gulped, mastering myself. “Too many strange things happened around me, sir. You can imagine what our God-fearing matron was thinking.”

“Hm…” He looked confused for a moment, before his eyes widened in understanding. “Yes. I see. I see.”

That’s when I made the connection. Something had definitely been off about Quirrell, and this confirmed my suspicions. His mind was definitely linked to Voldemort’s somehow.

And they were in active communication.

I’d never even considered the possibility.

I need to leave.

“Is…” I tried. “Is that all, sir?”

“It is not.” He said. “To cure you of your inability to pay attention during my class, I see that I will have to assign you detention.”

I said nothing, and he took it as his cue to continue.

“Starting next week on Monday, you will attend detention with me— every Monday, until the end of the year.” Quirrell said. “Seeing as you’re not quite being challenged in my classes, I see no reason not to tutor you in the… finer aspects of magic.”

“I, um…” I had no idea what to say. “I see.”

“You may go, Mr. Clarke.”

I quickly nodded twice, and turned to leave. “Thank you, sir.”

“One more thing, Mr. Clarke.”

I froze, my hand on the door handle. I turned to the Professor. “Yes, sir?”

“I trust that you won’t be speaking of this to anyone?” Quirrell smiled, and I could feel the danger rolling off of him in waves. “You’re simply being punished for insolence, as far as anyone else is concerned. We wouldn’t want anyone thinking you’re getting special treatment, now would we?”

“Yes, sir.” I gave one final nod. “Good day.”

I left the classroom, closing the door behind me. I forced a smile on my face and joined up with Tony, who looked a little worried.

“What was that about?”

“It’s nothing, he gave me a few detentions.” I waved his words off, walking quickly. “Said it was to teach me to pay attention in class.”

“Wh-” Tony was confused as he struggled to match my pace. “Adam, wait!”

But I didn’t wait. With every step I took, I was closer to safety.

If that was true, then why are my hands shaking? I thought.

The answer was obvious. The thought that came next was the single most terrifying one I’d had— in both lives.

Voldemort is trying to recruit me.

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