November 8, 1991, 6:30 PM, Great Hall
“Adam?” Tony said from my right. “Are you okay? You haven’t said a word since Potions, and you haven’t eaten a thing.”
“You said that two hours ago. And then you went quiet.”
I winced. “I’m sorry, Tony. It’s just that my mind’s been elsewhere.”
“It’s not that bad, you know.” He said, patting me on the shoulder as I played with my food some more. “I got detention, too— or don’t you remember?”
“That’s different.” I said. “You spent yours with Professor Flitwick. I’m..”
“Oh, come on.” Tony said, voicing rising along with his incredulity. “You’re worried about detention with Quirrell? He’s harmless.”
If only you knew, kid. I sighed and forced myself to eat. “I guess you’re right.”
“Well, I’m going to head to the dorms.” Goldstein said, patting me on the shoulder again before getting up. “See you later.”
“Yeah.” I swallowed and did my best to enjoy the meal. “Later.”
I slowed down, savoring every last bit of meat, vegetable, and grain. I still had some time before I had to report to the Defense Classroom.
I hadn’t gotten much of anything done after Quirrell had assigned me detention— well, aside from practicing my Shield Charm almost religiously.
Something had definitely been strange about the way he was acting. His stuttering persona had dropped completely, and it was as if he didn’t even notice it happened.
Perhaps, as Voldemort’s interest took on a more pronounced role, he ended up subsuming Quirrell’s ego? Just how did something like that even work?
Or, was it that Quirrell simply did not care that I could go to Dumbledore or the teachers over this? Who’d believe a child over a respected teacher, right?
What makes you think that he’s even aware that we’re onto him? The thought came suddenly, but it seemed ridiculous.
Was it, though? That gave me pause.
What had stopped the man from casting the Imperius and solving the problem? Why had he revealed himself, in the first place?
I racked my mind, trying to figure out this guy’s reasoning. I needed to think about this properly.
Best time to do it, just before meeting him, huh?
Could it really be as simple as a passing interest he’d found in a no-name orphan?
I supposed our backstories were quite similar. We’d both been raised in orphanages, where the strong survive and the weak get crushed into dust.
Adults looked at you and only saw how well you might look on a family picture whilst on a picnic or a holiday at the beach. We were a simple talking piece for visitors— getting a child from an orphanage was akin to a point of prestige for the wealthy.
Rescuing a child from a horrible environment would sway even the hardest of men, and thaw the coldest of hearts— useful in business negotiations and improving your PR.
I’d seen plenty of couples that behaved like this, both in this life and the previous.
They pretended that they cared about helping the poor children, but they all turned out to be of the same rotten stock.
I scoffed, pushing these thoughts, as well as the anger associated with them, away.
It didn’t matter whether I got adopted or not, in the end.
Even when I hadn’t known that magic existed, I had a bright future ahead of me.
My sheer knowledge and willingness to learn even more would have cemented my position as a child genius, with scholarships being offered left and right.
With magic, on the other hand, I was able to do anything— be anything.
I’d have food and board at Hogwarts Castle for seven years, and after that…
The possibilities were near endless.
Devising ways to sustain myself required very little money when magic was involved; I could just find a spot in the middle of nowhere, put some wards down, build a house and grow my own food supply.
It was obviously more complex than I was making it sound, and it would take quite a bit of effort, on my part. However, with magic and a knowledge of Herbology, I didn’t see how that would have been an issue.
That wasn’t even considering the various ways I could have simply made money in the muggle world— either honestly or dishonestly.
Maybe that’s why Voldemort’s interested in you. My mind supplied, a chill coursing through me. A gifted student whose unscrupulous nature is hidden beneath a veneer of civility and politeness. Remind you of anyone?
I frowned. I’m nothing like that. I care about those close to me, I’m not a sociopath. And he…
Voldemort was… well, Voldemort!
He was the big bad. When you thought of unfettered evil, Voldemort was one of the prime candidates.
But he wasn’t just unfettered evil, no.
It was more than that. His plans, while convoluted, had been impactful. He had the patience, the will and the presence of mind to see things through. Everything he’d done ever since he discovered his powers had been calculated and well thought out.
His only two weaknesses were his obsession with enemies he considered threats and his underestimation of the ones he considered beneath him.
He’d been on a roll before he’d grown obsessive and fearful of everything around him. Voldemort had gotten an impressive handle over his magic— the level I hoped I’d reach, someday.
Perhaps even further beyond. I thought as I speared a tomato with my fork.
He’d been so careful in covering his tracks that only Dumbledore had been able to figure out that there had been something wrong with him, in the first place.
In his youth, Riddle had charmed most of the teachers, and he’d done the same even after school, from what knowledge I could recall of the series.
He’d formed his own group, using the members’ prejudices and hatred to his own ends. I very much doubted that he cared about purity of blood as a cause— only how useful its influential supporters would have been to him.
All things considered, he had been on the cusp of achieving a perfect coup d’état when he caught wind of the Prophecy involving Potter.
Born as the seventh month dies…
That had been, in my not so humble opinion, the moment Voldemort lost. It wasn’t when he’d attacked the Potters. It wasn’t when Harry defeated him several times over in the books, no.
It was when the Prophecy’s words had reached his ears.
But, how did any of this help me?
“His sights are on Dumbledore, Snape.” I murmured to myself.
“Did you say something, Adam?” Padma Patil asked, brow furrowed.
I shook my head. “Just thinking out loud, sorry.”
She nodded and went back to her dinner, leaving me to my thoughts once again.
Quirrell is wary of Snape and Dumbledore. I thought. Maybe Potter, though unlikely. He’s showing interest in me, but he hasn’t wiped my memory or used the Imperius on me. At least, I’m assuming he didn’t.
That last one was a chilling thought, but I chose to ignore it for the time being. Figuring my next move out was a more productive endeavor.
So, three conclusions: one, he’s got no access to Legilimency. Two, I managed to avoid his eyes this entire time, and he has no reason to read my mind. And three… He couldn’t use Legilimency on me. I went through the list. Three sounds ridiculous, two and one could be true. There has to be a reason he didn’t use Obliviate on me. I can’t see any other way he wouldn’t have caught on to my nature. Unless my mind really couldn’t be penetrated?
I snorted at the very idea.
The Sorting Hat wouldn’t have been able to sort me, if that were the case.
Much as I would have loved to have ultra super special powers beyond the baseline ability to use magic, it had to be that Voldemort simply couldn’t use Legilimency in his current state.
Sits on the mind easier than the thought of being memory wiped or mind controlled and not even knowing about it. The thought naturally came.
I felt a tug at my sleeve and turned to see Sue Li.
“Adam…” She asked, looking a little concerned. “Aren’t you going to be late to your detention?”
I tugged at my other sleeve and looked at my wristwatch— a relatively new find from the Room of Hidden Things.
Damn it all, she was right. At this rate, I’d get into even more trouble than I was already in.
Time to face the music, I guess. I stifled a sigh, got off the table and gave her a nod of gratitude. “Yeah, you’re right. Thanks Sue.”
“You’re welcome!” She smiled at me again before turning to her giggling gaggle of girlfriends.
What was that abou— Oh… I winced at the realization and quickly made my way out of there. Nope. Nope. We are not doing this, right now. God Almighty, I think a detention with Voldemort is actually more palatable than dealing with a pre-teen girl’s crush!
It was too early for this! I’d never been interested in anyone when I was that age.
Why me? Is it because I’m acting much more maturely than I should be?
Distracted as I was by my momentary horror, I didn’t notice the person in front of me until I’d crashed into her.
“Hello, Ad— Hey!” I collided with the girl and she fell down with a cry.
“Oh, crap.” I said, looking down to see an annoyed Hermione Granger. “Hermione! I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Obviously.” She glared back, her bushy brown mane of hair making her look like a fierce little thing. “Watch where you’re going, Adam.”
I winced and extended a hand, which she took eagerly.
“Sorry again.” I said as she fussed over her robes. “Is there anything you wanted? I’m going to be late to my detention.”
That seemed to deflate her. “Oh. I didn’t know.”
“It’s fine.” I waved it off. “So?”
Hermione’s posture changed and she fidgeted, as if unsure of what she wanted to say. “Um… Well, I just wanted to say… thank you.”
I blinked, feeling confused. “For what?”
She winced, composing herself quickly afterwards. “For helping me with things.”
“You’re… Welcome?” I returned. “That’s what friends are for, you know?”
“Friends?” She repeated the word. It seemed to have struck a chord within her. “We’re friends?”
“Funny how that happens, right?” I smiled, but it came out strained with awkwardness— not that she seemed to notice. “You hang out with someone and keep doing that, eventually it leads to friendship.”
She scoffed and glared again. “Prat.”
The smile on her face told a completely different story.
“Look.” I said and started moving past her. “This is a good moment and all, but I really will miss my detention at this rate. See you at the Library tomorrow?”
“Of course.” Hermione nodded as I made some distance between us. “Can I bring people with me?”
I stopped mid-step, looked at her and went back to my path. “Bring whoever you want. Later!”
Is she bringing who I think she is? I pinched the bridge of my nose. One headache at a time, Clarke. Hopefully my current one won’t get me killed, tonight.
The walk to the third floor Defense classroom was almost like a death march. Every step I took was heavier than the one preceding it, with nothing but the steadily growing darkness and the silence of the Castle pressing in on me from all sides.
Eventually, after what felt like an age, but was probably ten minutes, I found myself before Professor Quirrell’s door.
I stared at it and knocked before I could lose my nerve.
A moment passed. No answer.
Is he not in? I wondered if I could make my escape, pretend that he hadn’t been there when I came—
Nevermind. I sighed, before centering myself and steeling my resolve. I can do this.
I opened the door, wincing at the creak it gave as it swung open. Quirrell sat at his desk, his eyes roving over assignments he was making until I made my entrance.
He placed his quill down.
“Ah.” Quirrell rose to greet me, pulling out a pocket watch. “Mr. Clarke. You’ve arrived— just in the nick of time, in fact.”
“I’m sorry, Professor.” I said, closing the door behind me. “I was held up.”
He waved it away, instead choosing to look at me. “No matter, no matter. Come in.”
I nodded and walked further into the classroom, my apprehension bleeding into my demeanor.
“What will I be doing for this detention, sir?” I asked, hoping my voice wasn’t as shaky as I felt at that moment.
“You won’t be writing lines, if that’s what you’re wondering, lad.” Professor Quirrell didn’t seem to have noticed my nervousness, or he’d simply ignored it. “You are here to learn, and your current classes don’t seem very challenging to you. Is that right?”
“You could say that, sir.” I said, keeping my voice neutral. “But that’s why I try to read up on different spells to learn. I meant no offense, or disrespect.”
“None was taken, child.” He smiled a smile that was meant to set me at ease, but only managed to make me gnash my teeth. “Still, we have to remedy this issue.”
“I’ll pay attention in class, I swear—”
Quirrell raised his hand and I shut my mouth.
“You’ve been practicing your Shield Charm, I assume?” He said, waving his wand.
I forced myself not to flinch as his spell sent all of the desks and chairs to the sides of the classroom.
“Show me.” Quirrell said, looking at me expectantly.
I nodded, pulling out my wand.
Taking deep breaths, I banished my feelings of fear and trepidation. I drew in my will to protect and invoked the spell.
“Protego!” I felt the rush of power wash over me as the white, translucent shield appeared.
I smiled. Five days ago, this shield could have barely withstood a running impact against a table. Now, it could likely take more than ten times that onslaught and still keep going.
“Impressive.” Quirrell’s voice came from in front of me, bringing me back to my situation. He pointed his wand at the shield. “Let’s test it out, shall we?”
He jabbed his wand, saying nothing. The blue spell slammed against my shield, sending out a brilliant flash of blue, but not much else.
“Hmm…” Quirrell said before launching into a salvo of spells I could barely follow.
With each successive hit, the shield began to crack. I felt my grasp on the spell break, until finally, a beam of purple light pierced through, shattering the shield entirely and leaving only broken shards in its wake.
I turned to look behind me.
It had been too fast for me to follow, but the purple spell had missed my head by a hair’s breadth, drilling a hole into the far wall behind me— even after it had to contend with my shield!
“A truly impressive showing for a barely trained First Year with no prior tutoring.” Quirrell’s voice snapped my attention back to him. He was smiling that awful smile again, as if he hadn’t just tried to kill me.
I was tempted to say something to him for that, but I wisely kept my trap shut.
His smile grew wider, and he held his wand at the ready. “Again.”
And so it went, for a while. He would order me to manifest my shield, and then he would break it down in short order.
After the sixth time, he spoke again.
“Your shields are getting weaker.” Quirrell commented, an eyebrow raised in challenge. “Are you giving up?”
“No.” I ground out, determined to see this through until I could no longer stand. “I am not.”
I closed my eyes for a few moments as I steeled my resolve further.
Focus your will, Clarke. I took a deep breath. A strong, hard shield.
“Protego!” The shield appeared once more, weighty and stout.
And then the onslaught came again, and my shield was eventually shattered, though, this time, it seemed to take longer than before. I fell to one knee, unable to stand any longer.
“You are full of surprises, Mr. Clarke.” Quirrell said, ignoring my current state. “That was certainly a more powerful Shield Charm you’ve shown.”
“Thank you…” I panted and got back to my feet with great difficulty. My body had long since broken into a sweat, making me shiver as the air felt like it dropped by a dozen degrees.
“My…” He said, looking disappointed for a moment. “I seem to have pushed you too far. I suppose, what with your age…”
Quirrell waved his wand, Summoning two chairs over. “Sit.”
What now? I let out a shaky breath and took the right seat while he got the left. I exulted in the relief, feeling as if all the stress of the week was leaving me in that one moment.
Quirrell waved his wand again, bringing me back to reality.
I watched with both envy and apprehension as a table, complete with a kettle and cups flew over, settling between the two of us.
He held the kettle up with his wand. “Tea? It’d warm you right up.”
My eyes narrowed. Poison? Truth serum? “No, thank you Professor. Tea doesn’t agree with me.”
He raised an eyebrow in very slight surprise. “A pity. You might have enjoyed this brew.”
I watched while he poured himself a cup, with two sugars, a hint of honey and milk.
He took a sip, relaxing minutely into his seat.
This is so surreal. I thought. He basically beat me into submission— I almost died from that one spell— and he’s just sitting there like nothing happened.
“The last spell, it was an impressive shield, you know.” Quirrell said after a few sips. “Truly remarkable.”
Is he messing with me? I barely improved.
“Thank you, sir.” I replied, not knowing anything positive to say.
“Might I interest you in some biscuits?” He gestured at the table. “Exerting yourself like that, it must have exhausted you.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but I just came from the Great Hall.” I said automatically. “They had the most delightful pot roast.”
A flash of annoyance crossed his face, but it was soon replaced with his smile.
“You are one hard to please student.” He said, twirling his wand with one hand while holding the teacup in the other. “I suppose manners were not something they covered in the orphanage, were they?”
I suppressed a shiver and gave a helpless shrug as the silence slowly choked me.
“Are you aware, young Mr. Clarke—” he finally broke it. “—that there are full grown adult wizards and witches who cannot conjure up even the simplest of Shield Charms? Nowhere near the one you’ve just displayed.”
“I didn’t know that, no.” I lied. “I’ll admit that it was tough to learn. Isn’t this spell taught in the Fifth Year of Hogwarts?”
“Oh, yes.” Quirrell said, his smile growing strained. “Not that any students have managed it, yet. There are a few Seventh Years who’ve displayed some proficiency in it— but they were nowhere near your level with it. How long have you been studying the spell?”
I felt a rush of pride, at that. Being able to outperform people who were supposed to be four years ahead of me was gratifying, to say the least. “Around a week.”
Quirrell made a noise of impressed understanding.
“You see, then, how remarkable it truly is that one such as yourself can cast this spell.” Quirrell said. “Tell me, what is your method?”
I hesitated, before shrugging mentally. It wasn’t as if the information was something he didn’t already know.
“Well.” I cleared my throat. “I did the wand motion, focused my will on protecting myself, and spoke the incantation to cast the spell.”
Quirrell leaned forward, placing his half empty cup on the table. “Interesting choice of words, young Mr. Clarke. Your will to protect, is it?”
I frowned in sudden realization. He’s testing me.
“Yes, sir.” I said, wondering if I should keep going down this rabbit hole.
Would I be able to pull myself out if I went too deep?
I had no answer, even as Quirrell gestured for me to keep going. “Elaborate.”
“Well, intent is key in all magic. I focus it through willpower.” I went through my reasoning.
“And not desire?” Quirrell asked, his smile changing into something far more pleasant than the previously frightening one. “It could be argued that intent can be found from desire.”
I considered his words, looking down for a moment. “I guess willpower and desire are linked in terms of intent, in some fashion? Desire, it seems to me, can be unreliable— even detrimental at times.”
“Mmm?” Quirrell dipped a biscuit into his tea and leaned back once again. “How so?”
“Desire is linked to emotions.” I said, placing my hand on my chest. “In other words, the heart. Feelings.”
I shook my head. “No. I’d rather use my willpower. I set my goal in my mind and manifest it in the real world. In the case of a Shield Charm, the goal is to stop other curses from hurting me.”
Quirrell set his empty cup down, wiped at his mouth and spoke. “And, if your emotions could be the source of more powerful magic?”
The memory of Dumbledore speaking of the power of love rose to mind. Harry keeping dementors at bay in order to save his Godfather’s life was another scene that was burned into my memory.
“True, emotions may add a great deal of power to certain spells.” I allowed, not meeting the other man’s eyes. “But I’d rather have something reliable that will grow steadily in power as my intent is refined than something that’s extremely powerful one moment and painfully weak, the next.
Quirrell clapped once, smiling. “I must admit, I am impressed. Your knowledge is extensive for one so young. Your… peers don’t show as much promise.”
“It’s magic.” I blurted. “Why wouldn’t I learn everything I can about it?”
I closed my mouth, wondering if I’d said too much.
Quirrell didn’t say anything for a while, and I wondered if he’d grown bored of his game.
“I couldn’t have said it better, myself, Mr. Clarke.” Quirrell said. “Your dedication, your fascination with magic… Tell me: what is your goal? What do you want?“
For a moment, I thought to lie. But, from the way he was looking at me, I could tell that, Legilimency or not, he’d be able to tell if I was lying.
The truth it is.
“I want to master magic.” I said. “All magic. I want to know all there is to know.”
I want to understand why I was reincarnated. I mentally added.
Quirrell stared at me in response, his expression unreadable.
I wondered if he was looking at me and seeing a younger version of himself— or someone similar enough that it wouldn’t matter.
“A worthy goal.” Quirrell said, pulling his wand out and sending his tea set back to his office.
He stood, with me following suit. “That will be all, for now.”
“Sir?” I said, thrown off by the abruptness of his dismissal.
“It is getting late.” Quirrell pulled his watch out and showed it to me.
An hour had already passed.
Has it really been that long?
“I will see you in detention next week, Mr. Clarke.” Quirrell put the classroom back to normal with a wave of his wand. “You may go.”
I nodded and went for the door.
“And, Mr. Clarke?”
I stopped and turned. “Yes, sir?”
“Intent.” He said the word as if it amused him. “Is your will and desire given form. It is not one or the other, Mr. Clarke— but a balance of the two. You master that, and none but the most difficult of obstacles will hinder you.”
My eyes unfocused as I processed the information. “I see… thank you, Professor. Good night.”
And with that, I left the classroom, closing the door behind me.
It all felt so… odd.
“So surreal.” I muttered to myself as I started slowly making my way back to the Ravenclaw dorms. “Why is he helping me?”
Silence was my answer.