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Desire and Void

November 21, 1991, 11:00 AM, Room of Requirement

“Desire.” I said, tapping my fingers against the table I was hunched over. I stared down at the empty page, wondering how to tackle this concept.

I’d been meaning to go over it a while back, but there had been no free time.

With homework just about doubling as Christmas drew closer, I just wasn’t able to find the time to add the topic to my already lengthy list of existing pursuits.

It also didn’t help that this was one of the few things I didn’t really want to research.

If it was something I enjoyed, then maybe I would have taken time out of my sleep to do it.

As it stood, however, I continued to tap the table in a haphazard rendition of an old, upbeat song from my home world.

Granted, old from there was 2007, but we’re easily over a decade and a half away from that date. I sighed and wondered, not for the first time, just why I was sent here.

Someone who can pluck my soul from the empty void and place it here— what is their motive? I thought. The fact that they put me here implies that they understand my interests. It can’t have been a coincidence that I was sent here.

I nodded, my logic seemingly sound. I’d lived and breathed Harry Potter since the first time I’d laid eyes on the movies and books, until the day I’d died.

Finding myself in that world had been one of my few, true desires— an old and foolish child’s dream, buried under the harshness of reality.

And yet, my wish had been granted. My dream came true.

Wait. I thought, latching onto the sudden inspiration.

“Desire…” I began to write.

“Desire may be the strongest aspect of magic.” I said as the sound of pen scratching paper filled the air. “Children’s accidental magic is based on extreme desire, so strong that they invoke powerful magic without any training whatsoever.”

I paused for a moment to think, and then continued to write.

Hogwarts tries to teach discipline to students; develop and refine control over their desires. This is why most fail at spell casting early on.

They cannot visualize their desire in any useful way— the Levitation Charm is the best example: the students cannot figure out how to conceptualize the act of lifting the feather with your magic, and so the spell fails.

I leaned back in my chair, luxuriating in the perfect cushions provided by the Room of Requirement— yet another example of the monstrous power of desire— considering the implications of what I was writing.

It seemed an obvious truth, in hindsight; something I’d always known but never thought to give any sort of attention to.

That was the real reason my magic had been more effective than that of the other students.

They all tried very hard, of course, but still couldn’t match me.

At first, I’d attributed it solely to my extensive knowledge of canon, but I was swiftly realizing that my mental age had been a considerable factor, as well.

My desire, as it were, was much more refined and focused than theirs, seeing as they essentially were developing children with various confusing impulses, tumultuous growth cycles and enough energy to power half of the planet.

How they could focus themselves enough to pass was a miracle unto itself.

Or maybe the standards for passing are that low.

Still, it was no wonder Quirrell had sounded so amused at the end of our first detention. I’d been using desire to power my magic the whole time but acting like the very notion of it was sickening.

“I’m so stupid, sometimes.” I said out loud, putting the pen down and letting my thoughts wander to Quirrell.

Harmless Quirrell.

I stifled the reflexive scoff. The man was a vicious taskmaster, quick witted and had an acid tongue when the mood suited him— I supposed that having to pretend you’re a wimp and enduring everyone’s disrespect for every single day would do that to a guy.

The true reason behind his interest in my growth as a wizard was still a mystery to me, but it wasn’t like I minded the results.

The active spell practice sessions had been invaluable to me, a fount of knowledge freely given— none of the other students seemed even interested in such a thing, which was one of the things that truly made me scratch my head.

Put ‘school’ in front of anything and you’ll suck the happiness and soul right out of it. Part of me thought, and I nodded in agreement.

Magic was a wonder of the world, capable of turning your desire into reality, and school just made you want to avoid it at all costs. Even the Ravenclaws were averse to it, despite being part of the House of Learning.

Honestly, what were most of these wizards even doing here at Hogwarts? They only seemed to talk of magic when it concerned their homework.

My few interactions with the adults in Diagon Alley— with the exception of Ollivander, who seemed deeply infatuated with the topic of wandlore— seemed to show a lack of interest in magic, and more of an interest in money, of all things.

Having once been an adult, myself, I understood the importance of currency and security; having a roof over your head and food on your table were essential to gain the ability to pursue your interests and hobbies.

However, magic allowed you to live anywhere, and have as much food as you wanted, cooked in whichever way you liked.

So, why? Why did they intentionally limit themselves to whatever lot in life they were given?

They don’t live and breathe it— not like I do. I thought. It’s magic. The ones born to it take it for granted, and those who weren’t are quickly put in line by those who were.

It was a sad state of affairs, all things considered.

Was that why Voldemort was doing all this? Was he trying to return the wizards to their roots, to see past the gold, past their silly Ministry departments and to step into the world of magic?

I shook my head.

Voldemort was many things, but ‘visionary’ wasn’t one of them. His own pursuit of magic had been focused on his desire of achieving immortality, which was fueled by his fear of death.

I’d already died, so I already knew what lay beyond the veil: it was an endless expanse of nothing. There were no feelings, no thoughts, no sense of self, no space and no time. Nothing made sense. Everything made sense. It was everything and nothing at once.

The void, as I called it, was a place of contradictions which seemingly fused together in perfect harmony, despite logic dictating that they should be in never-ending conflict and disarray.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before opening them again.

Since I’m already in this mindset, I might as well do this now. I pushed off of the table, walked to the center of the room and opened my mouth. “Room, dummy.”

Ever obedient, the Room of Requirement conjured up a dummy right in front of me. I drew my wand and held it near the dummy’s head, hesitating. Strange. I lowered my wand, feeling a sudden tension take hold of my body.

What is this? I thought, a chill creeping up my spine. A warning, or just a random feeling at an inopportune time?

I frowned and collected myself again.

It doesn’t matter. I have a good handle on the gas aspect of the Disillusionment Charm. This is the only thing I haven’t tried, yet. My mind made up, I submerged it into the void.

Praetexo.” I tapped the ebony wand against the dummy’s head, wondering just what would happen.

Pieces of the dummy started to peel and flake off of the main body before dissipating into the air— no. There was no dust, or any sign of anything similar.

To my dawning horror, I realized that the dummy was being completely destroyed. I could feel it in the writhing of the magic in the air; I felt it deep in my bones.

“Holy…” I took a few steps back and watched as the dummy continued to be unmade. “What is this?”

The Room of Requirement seemed to shudder and writhe under the exposure, as if it was being attacked by something. I couldn’t let this experiment go on any longer.

I let the flow of the spell die out. Immediately, the Room calmed itself, and the dummy stopped its disintegration process— though it now missed a head and a sizable chunk of its torso.

Slowly, I approached the dummy, keeping my wand out in case of any unexpected events. Once I came within touching distance, I reached out to the dummy, wondering whether its head was hidden or actually destroyed as it seemed to have been.

Perhaps it was all a visual effect, a trick?

That idea went right out the window as my hand passed through air. The dummy’s head was well and truly gone.

“What the Hell..?”

I felt around the dummy’s torso, trying to understand what my spell had just done. The Room trembled with every touch, as if it was wounded and I was putting pressure… on… it…

Startled and somewhat horrified by the realization, I pulled my hand back and stared at the dummy again.

It was part of the Room, conjured or not. In a sense, it really was like I was picking at its wounds.

If I let that spell go on, would it have continued to eat at the Room, as well?

It was a chilling thought.

“What the Hell did I just create?” I finally blurted, hints of panic entering my tone and demeanor. “It’s supposed to be a Disillusionment Charm!”

I turned the chair to face the dummy and took a seat, feeling my knees go weak as I struggled to understand the gravity of what I’d just done.

I took a few moments to breathe and calm down before trying to look at all of this from a logical standpoint.

Think, Clarke; that’s what you’re good at. Disillusionment, solid state, fluid state, gaseous state. I wrapped my head around it all. Channeling the void ended up erasing it completely out of existence— the essence of absolute entropy.

It didn’t turn to gas. Its matter just… disappeared. I looked down for a moment, before focusing my gaze on the dummy. From my seat, I pointed my wand in its direction, and spoke an incantation. “Reparo!”

The Room trembled again, but nothing happened. The dummy remained headless and missing a chunk of its torso.

My gaze hardened.

An entropy from which there was no going back— “This is what the void really is heat death.”

If the previous thought had been chilling, then this one was downright glacial in comparison.

I’d seen the term bandied about in my previous life, one of the many disputed theories posited by scientists and academics much more experienced than I could ever have hoped to be, back then.

“The heat death…” I repeated. “Proton decay, absolute death of energy.”

It had turned a spell meant to hide something into one of slow, irreversible destruction.

In a sense, it hides whatever it affects by erasing it from existence.

I shuddered. What would have happened, had I used it on myself?

Would I have destroyed my own body and found myself waking up in the void, once again? Or, would it have kept going and eradicated my soul, as well?

I won’t be trying to find out. Part of me raged in both fear and anger, even as I forced myself to calmly stare at the dummy before me. “No more playing around with the void.”

A thought occurred. “Room. Restore the dummy.”

Nothing happened.

“…” I nodded. Not even the overwhelming power of desire could counteract the finality of heat death.

Then, I hesitated. “Room… Information on the void— uh, maybe they didn’t call it void like I do. Any spell similar to what I just tried on the dummy?”

A thin piece of parchment appeared at eye level in front of me, with two familiar words written in green:

AVADA KEDAVRA

“…I see.” I said, not really knowing what else I could possibly say.

I’d just created a curse which was kin with one of the worst curses of all time.

I needed a change of scenery: this was all starting to become a little too much.

With a rattling breath, I exited the chair, stowed my belongings away and exited the Room of Requirement, its doorway fading into the wall just as the door closed.

Is it just me, or was the Room as happy for me to leave as I was?

I shook such ridiculous thoughts away and continued to wander the seventh floor, my eyes roving over the various tapestries and paintings laid out in my vicinity.

I picked up the pace, feeling the walls closing in around me. I needed to go outside in the fresh air— to just recover from the horror I’d unleashed.

But someone stood in my path.

“I thought I’d find you here, Clar—” I shoved Malfoy out of my way and continued as if he wasn’t even there.

I heard the sound of his thud against the ground, and barely acknowledged the cry of pain and surprise.

“You’ll pay for that. Everte Statum!

Protego.” I didn’t break stride even as the shield appeared to cover my back, absorbing the spell with no issue.

If I’d been in any other mental state, I would have crowed on the inside. As it were, I just picked up the pace.

“Amazing.” “How’d he do that?”

Ignoring the surprised whispers of Draco’s group, I tore through them and made my way down the staircases, which seemed to align at just the perfect times for me to make my quickest route out of the castle.

Hogwarts really does want me to leave. I thought, feeling even worse.

I stared up into the vast, cloudy sky, but I felt no calmer than I had a few seconds ago.

Not even the late November chill was able to do anything save delay the inevitable.

The sense of dread which had been creeping up on me began to overwhelm me once again.

Seized by the need to keep moving, to get away from the castle and that dummy— no, from what I’d done to it— I broke into a run.

For a while, that was what my world became; a spirited, desperate flight from an all-encompassing dread, accentuated by a mish-mash of sights, smells, feelings, sound and taste which made absolutely no sense.

Eventually, my arms and legs gave out, and I fell face first into the cold, hard earth.

Groaning, I pushed myself off of the ground, feeling dizzy and nauseous.

Moments later, I lost my breakfast.

I stayed hunched over for a few moments longer, trying to keep myself from vomiting again.

Keep it together, Clarke! I thought viciously. Now isn’t the time to lose it. So you used a spell and it went wrong. Did you expect all of your endeavors to go swimmingly?

I gave a weak shake of the head.

I’d always kept my mind open to the idea that my experiments would eventually cross a line into dangerous territory, but I never expected that it would be over a botched spell over a wooden dummy.

Except the spell wasn’t botched. Another part of me countered. We created a Curse of Entropy. We should be proud.

Staring down at what used to be my breakfast, I struggled not to let loose again. “Proud, my arse.”

“Blimey, what’re yeh doing all the way out here?” I heard a loud voice call out.

Quickly, I turned to see a massive, bearded tank of a man looming over me.

It was Hagrid.

“Mr. Hagrid.” I greeted quickly, cringing at the taste of sick in my mouth.

The man’s eyes were on the ground beneath me, and then on my face.

By the resulting expression on his face, he quickly seemed to have gotten the gist of things. “Come on, lad. I’ll fix yeh up. Are ye good to walk?”

I blinked, having expected more questions out of the great big fella. I nodded in confirmation, feeling grateful for the lack of interrogation.

“All right. Let’s go.” Hagrid led the way, and I followed, eyes widening as my perception of my surroundings fully returned to me.

I’d been teetering on the edge of the Forbidden Forest, and I hadn’t even realized it.

Just how bad of a state was I in? I spat out the remaining sick in my mouth in an attempt to cleanse it.

It didn’t help much.

I instead focused on Hagrid’s form, following him with quick, but unsteady steps.

Thankfully, noticing my plight, the man slowed down for me without a word.

After an indeterminate amount of time spent walking along the edge of the forest, we eventually reached a rather large looking hut.

“This—” I stopped for a moment to gather my bearings. I couldn’t make it seem like I recognized the place. “Where are we?”

The man stopped to check on a few things by the front door before snatching a few pieces of firewood. “This is my home. I was just about to get a fire goin’. Tea?”

The logs are half as thick as my chest but look like twigs when he carries them.

Hagrid was a beast of a man.

“Tea would be much appreciated, thank you.” I said as he opened the door for me. Not that you would’ve taken no for an answer.

After finding me in that state, I rather doubted he’d have let me go unless I played along. Still, I supposed it could’ve been worse.

I walked past the threshold of his home, glancing at the various knickknacks strewn about the place, before finally laying my eyes on the massive bed off to the side.

Each leg is nearly four times as thick as my own. I looked at the man again, before the sound of a growl caught my attention.

Behind the couch, a large, black dog made itself known and took a few threatening steps forward.

“Down, Fang!”

I took a step back, even as the dog calmed itself and went back to sit by the fireplace.

“You’ll have to forgive Fang.” Hagrid stepped past me with a speed I hadn’t expected. “He’s not much for strangers, though he won’t bite yeh— great, ruddy coward, he is.”

I nodded, watching the man busy himself with starting a fire.

“Go on.” He said, waving towards a nearby chair without even looking my way. “Make yourself comfortable. Clarke, isn’t it?”

“I— yes.” I slowly took a seat, my confusion overriding my building lethargy for a moment. “You know my name?”

“Aye.” Hagrid said and stepped away from the lit fire, fanning it with a thin piece of tree bark. “Tend to pick up a few names when the perfessors get excited about new, bright students.”

That made a lot of sense— it was how Quirrell had set his sights on me, after all.

I nodded and stared at the flames, slowly relaxing in the cozy heat they provided.

Professor Flitwick really needed to keep his excitement in check. It was the source of much of my current troubles.

Will this be yet another problem for me to deal with?

I just didn’t feel up for it, at that moment.

“I won’t ask yeh what yeh were doing out there.” Hagrid said, putting the kettle over the fire before taking his place in his massive seat. “Just that yeh not put yourself in danger like that again.”

“Danger?” I repeated the word. Had it really been that bad?

“The Forest is ancient, lad.” Hagrid leaned back in his chair. “No one really knows whether it was here before Hogwarts Castle was built, or whether it was grown by wizards afterwards.”

He paused for a moment to stoke the fire, sending a few sparks in the air.

“What I do know is that it’s home to the meanest, scariest creatures out there—” Hagrid winced at his own words. “Don’t mean to frighten yeh, of course.”

“No, no— I understand.” I reassured him, finding the whole situation surreal. “Thank you for the help, Mr. Hagrid.”

“My door’s always open to those who need help— and just Hagrid will do fine.” The bearded man beamed at me, putting me at ease.

We both fell into a silence as he busied himself with the tea and fire while I tried to come to grips with what had happened.

That had been a panic attack, I realized after some thought. The pounding heartbeat, the palpitations, the nausea— it made perfect sense.

But, it also made no sense. Why did it happen?

I’d witnessed all manner of atrocities in my previous life, whether it was on video or in person— and my rebirth added to said experiences.

So, why did this curse affect me so?

I doubted it was the moral aspect of it— at least, I doubted it played a large part.

Sure, part of me recoiled at the thought of using a spell like that, but it was the same way I’d react to doing anything distasteful.

Just because it was distasteful didn’t mean I was adverse to doing it.

What could it be, then? I tried looking at things from a different angle. If it’s not the moral implications, then maybe it’s the act itself?

I sank further in my seat, feeling Fang sit next to my leg. Had it sensed my distress?

I reached down and petted its head before resuming my seat.

That spell was one of unmaking. I’d submerged myself in the void and channeled its power through me.

Maybe that was it? Channeling the void, using myself as a conduit? If that were the case, then it was no wonder I was feeling so perturbed by it all. I’d channeled pure death through my still living body.

That sounds impossible, not to mention stupid as all hell. Part of me immediately countered. Channeled death?

Silly as it sounded, it was the only available explanation I had for what happened.

My body’s hesitation before casting the spell, the effects it had on my body, the Room’s trembling, the permanence of the damage— all of this pointed to a single conclusion.

I’d created a spell which was arguably worse than even the worst of the Unforgivables— and I’d done it purely by accident.

Void will be firmly off-limits— at least until I can study this domain a lot more. I can’t risk having another episode like this again.

I nodded to myself, making up my mind even as Hagrid poured me a cup.

“Thank you, Mr.— I mean, Hagrid.” I said and brought the cup closer to my face. “Peppermint?”

“Aye.” Hagrid said, taking a long whiff of his own cup. “Should settle yer stomach right quick.”

I nodded and took a short sip, relaxing as the hot liquid made its way down my sore throat. I took another sip.

“Better?”

“Much. Thank you, Hagrid.”

The man beamed and we went back to drinking the tea in silence.

“Yeh hungry?” Hagrid said.

“…” I stared at him for a moment. “Even if I wasn’t, I should probably eat after that little episode— to settle my system.”

Hagrid looked at me, as if he couldn’t really figure me out.

I suppose someone my age would stubbornly refuse to eat. Came the thought. Then again, even someone my age wouldn’t be willing to eat. Maybe I’m just a weirdo?

I stayed deep in thought, even as Hagrid started up a pot of stew, filling his home with the delicious scent of food. I tried to think of nothing, or focus on the food, but a sole thought kept breaking through:

Who could reach into the void and pluck me out? Whose desire overpowered entropy itself?

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