Feb 17, 1992, 4:30 PM, Charms Classroom
I near-whistled as I looked down in appreciation at the notes Mira had so graciously given me.
These are better looking than anything I’ve ever produced. I thought, admiring just how neat and tidy the prefect’s penmanship was. She went in depth on these spells, too. Certainly more than what I expected a student would— even other Ravenclaws.
I smiled to myself, flipping through the pages. Maybe some students here actually did give it their all; other than Hermione, of course.
That particular girl, after all, was a force of nature. I was still reeling over the fact that I had been allowed to skip a year and she hadn’t.
Once again, I wondered why she hadn’t been asked to take her exams early.
Just what did I have that she didn’t? I considered that question as other students began to filter into the room, sending me curious looks.
I did not pay them any mind, so absorbed in my own thoughts, I was.
In the books, Hermione had always been an overachiever. Her grades were very good, and she always seemed to know things far beyond her level.
So, what did she lack?
The answer came to me in a flash. She studied as hard as I did, but it was my desire and insight that drove me to greater heights.
I shook my head, feeling a bit silly.
In hindsight, it made perfect sense: true, Hermione was awed by the world of magic and wanted to do well in school.
It was a laudable goal, and one I was aiming for, as well, but that seemed to be the extent of the bushy hated girl’s ambitions— other than wanting to make friends, of course.
She had no aim, no real sense of purpose to guide her. If anything, her desire to feel accepted among her peers was holding her back from her true potential as a witch.
Everything always seems to circle back to desire, eh? I mused. There’s nothing really there to spur her on.
For me, on the other hand, there was.
The canon knowledge doesn’t hurt, either. I thought. It’s gotten pretty obvious, at this point, that being able to play with magic like I do is not a common phenomenon. The only ones who I’m a hundred percent sure seem to be able to do it are Dumbledore, Snape and Voldemort.
Perhaps Bellatrix, or Moody as well?
I supposed that Shacklebolt and Tonks also had potential, come to think of it…
This early in the game. I thought, stifling the scoff. I’m not likely to see many of these players.
Someone took the seat beside me, slamming their book against the tabletop and startling me out of my musing.
Irritated, I turned to see one of my fellow Ravenclaws, who was looking at me with scornful, hazel eyes. I took in the freckles on her cheeks, the pressed lips, and the curly locks of reddish-blonde hair.
A Weasley reject? Was the only thought which coursed through my mind.
“Do you mind?” The girl turned her nose up as she spoke to me, gesturing to my other side. “That’s my friend’s spot.”
I stared at her for another second before checking my left and leaning back in my chair.
I recognized this one; Cho Chang.
She had a kinder face than her friend— though that didn’t take much. Cho stared at me with apologetic, black eyes, an expression of embarrassment building on her face.
So, if this is Chang… I thought, not looking back at the girl behind me.
That meant that the girl to my right was Cho’s best friend, Marietta Edgecombe.
“Chang and Edgecombe, right?” I said, wearing an amiable smile.
“Yes.” Chang said for both of them. “You’re Adam, right?”
I nodded, standing up and turning my gaze to the unpleasant one of the two.
“… What?” The girl said in annoyance. “What are you looking at?”
I ended up ignoring her, instead shifting my attention to Cho to give her a nod.
“Chang. Pleasure to meet you.”
I made my way to the open spot two rows ahead of the two girls, smirking to myself as I heard the angry mutters behind me.
That will likely come back to bite you, Clarke. My mind was kind enough to inform me. Deliberately antagonizing her like that…
Let it bite me, then. I thought back, taking my seat. I was tempted to just stay in my seat and tell her to piss off. This was my measured response.
Now that I was progressing with my studies and building my knowledge base and skill, I was less worried about the risk taken when angering another member of the student body.
With a Disillusionment Charm so advanced that it could only be beaten by invisibility cloaks, and a Shield Charm which had been able to withstand Quirrell’s vicious onslaughts, I was far beyond being intimidated by groups of children.
Draco Malfoy had seen my growing power firsthand, a while back. He hadn’t bothered me since.
I suppose it’s good that he fucked off to God knows where. I thought, suppressing the grimace. The less crap for me to deal with, the better.
I watched as Professor Flitwick entered, his face brimming with excitement.
He gave me a smile and a nod as his eyes landed on me, and I felt the tension in my shoulders release, if only a little.
“Good morning, class!” Flitwick said from the top of his podium.
The Ravenclaws and Slytherins returned the greeting with no enthusiasm.
Flitwick went on to take roll call, pausing for a moment to look onto me with pride.
As it had become tradition, by this point, I felt the eyes of the other students focusing on me, but I had grown much more comfortable with the situation over the past week.
The job I’d signed up for with Hagrid had reaffirmed itself as one of the best choices I had ever made.
It had been as dirty and miserable as I had expected it to be, of course: hours spent shoveling snow and dung, carrying supplies to and from the hut, taking care of the many animals the school had available, among other menial tasks.
The experience was illuminating, if a little bothersome.
I had hoped that, with spells such as the Herbivicus Charm and the Cutting Charm, I could learn to grow my own vegetable garden, as well as cultivate my own supply of magical herbs in the future.
Working with Hagrid crushed said hopes. As the big man had put it the other day, “Great spells fer growin’ and harvestin’ your own food, but don’t be putting it anywhere near potions ingredients— lest Perfessor Snape set his sights on yeh.”
I remembered laughing, even as I continued to shovel even more dung than before. Hagrid had laughed as well, though it had been strained; Snape was unpleasant to deal with when he was annoyed.
And I definitely don’t want that man to target me. I thought. Going for his personal supply was risky enough, as it is.
A little work? Yes, it was indeed hard on the body, but I had never been a stranger to getting my hands dirty, as it let me channel all of my pent up aggression in a safe way.
It was a hidden benefit, and one I considered as essential to maintaining a proper balance of mental health. Magic, nor not, humans had evolved to be active hunters and gatherers.
That’s why concepts like adventuring, exploring or traveling were always held in high regard; they appealed to our base nature.
Confining myself to the Castle, however big it was, was not something I wanted. I knew what happened to people who let themselves get trapped, whether it was in a cubicle, or a stringent schedule they could not escape.
Spoiler alert— it never ended well.
I would have eventually blown up from all the pressure and anxiety. I thought, rolling my right shoulder. If it weren’t for the work, as well as Absol’s presence, I think I would have been much worse off.
I supposed that, at the end of the day, I was still just as human as I had been before the reincarnation.
It was a comforting thought. I took a calming breath as Flitwick finished calling roll and began his lesson for the day.
“Today, my young friends, we will be learning the Disarming Charm!” Flitwick announced, much to the chagrin of everyone but me.
I leaned forward with an expectant look. This was a spell I had ignored in favor of the Severing Charm.
It could possibly come in handy. I thought. Great timing for it, too, considering…
I was going to execute the plan tonight. I had been putting it off long enough— especially knowing that I’d prepared for it as thoroughly as I could have.
At this point in time, any further independent study was, in reality, just me procrastinating and avoiding my problems.
Every day I wasted was one more day that Dumbledore would get closer to figuring out there was someone in the school who was able to emulate the magic of the Hallows.
To touch the magic of death and spread it to other creatures. I thought. The knowledge would likely shake any person to their core.
For a moment, I wondered how the old man would take the news if he ever figured things out.
Rather badly. I reckoned, watching as the Professor messed about with the stack of papers on his desk. “Just a moment, class…”
I shifted in my seat, flipping to the correct page in Mira’s notes.
I couldn’t deny that knowing Expelliarmus would only prove to be beneficial, though likely not for some time.
I won’t be using it tonight, if things go well. I justified it to myself. At best, it would be an extra spell in my toolbelt, just in case my stealthy approach fails. Even then, better to use a spell I had a good handle over against one I didn’t.
A wizard who fumbled his spells was easy pickings, after all.
“I barely even managed to cast the last spell. Now we have a new one…?” Edgecombe muttered from behind me, but I didn’t pay the girl any mind.
“Now, who can tell me what the Disarming Charm is used for?” Professor Flitwick asked, sweeping his gaze over the class. “Anyone?”
I raised my hand, noting that no one else had. Come on; this is a spell for fighting! Not one person but me?
“Mr. Clarke.” Flitwick nodded towards me. “Yes?”
“It’s a spell made to force whatever someone’s holding to fly out from their hand, sir.” I said. “A popular spell in the dueling circuit, if I remember right.”
“You do remember correctly, Mr. Clarke. Very good, indeed!” The Professor squeaked, his eyes shining with pride. “I see that you’re already adapting well to your new workload. Five points to Ravenclaw!”
I gave a tight smile, people’s looks washing over me like a cold breeze.
“Now, the trick to this spell is…” Flitwick began to explain, forcing everyone’s attention back to their quills and parchment.
I listened to the man as I took notes, often referencing Mira’s for comparison.
Quite the interesting spell, in all seriousness. I thought as I wrote down everything I could remember about the spell. At times, it snatches the wand out of people’s hands. Other times, it can send a person flying, much like a Banishing Charm would.
Blocking it was also something of a mystery, as well.
The Shield Charm was more than up to the task, to be sure, but in the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort had been able to reflect Harry’s Disarming Charm using his hand alone— a feat I was certainly far from achieving.
I continued to take notes as the Professor went in detail about the spell’s history.
Power output directly related to desire and intent. I wrote, biting my lower lip in thought. Conversely, resistance might be achieved in the same manner. If not, then possibly a specific counter-spell? Will need to research more in the future.
Soon after, Professor Flitwick split the class up into pairs for practice.
The other boy before me, a Ravenclaw by the name of Hobson, looked bored and a little annoyed. Having had a few classes with the boy, so far, I knew that was just the way he always looked.
His resting bitch face, as it were. I thought with a certain amusement.
“Which one of us goes first?” He asked.
I shrugged, snatched a pencil out of my case and held it out for him. “You can go first.”
Hobson gave me an odd look. “Aren’t you going to use your wand for this?”
I smiled a bit, eyes shifting with incredulity. “I’m not exactly keen on having my wand drop on the floor— why risk the damage?”
“Fair enough.” The boy’s eyes shined, looking a bit more enthused. He nodded and moved his wand in the necessary motion. “Expelliarmus!“
I felt a bit of a tug, but not much else.
“Um…” Hobson said, disappointed. “I guess it didn’t work.”
I shook my head. “No, I think you made it budge. Want to try again?”
“No, no.” The boy said, shaking his head and switching out his wand with a quill. “It’s your turn.”
Following my advice, huh? Sharp kid.
I smiled and drew my ebony wand, enjoying its comforting warmth.
Narrowing my eyes, I moved my wand in the b-like pattern, infusing the magic with the intent and desire to make the contents of his hand fly into my own. “Expelliarmus!”
The boy’s quill zoomed out of his grasp, before losing its momentum and falling onto the stone floor with slowness so deliberate that it felt like I was being taunted.
Damn. I was hoping it would fly to me. I thought even as the Professor clapped beside us, startling me.
“Well done, Mr. Clarke!” Professor Flitwick said, excited. “It seems I was right in supporting your accelerated learning. Take another five points to Ravenclaw!”
I blinked. “Thank you, sir.”
Flitwick only nodded before moving away to a pair of Slytherins.
“You know, Clarke.” Hobson said, shaking his head. “You don’t look particularly satisfied.”
It’s because I’m not. If I try that spell out tonight, I’m a goner for sure. I thought, plastering on a fake smile as I held up my pencil. “What can I say, Hobson— I’m a perfectionist. Ready?”
The practice resumed, and by the end of the class, I’d been able to get the feather to fly to my hand consistently, while Hobson managed to make the pencil fly out of my hand a few times.
It was decided: no Disarming Charm, tonight.
“Well done, everyone!” Flitwick said, looking pleased as everyone got ready to leave. “Don’t forget, I’ll require eight inches on the uses of the Disarming Charm by Monday. Mr. Clarke, a moment, if you please?”
I gave the diminutive man a nod.
“Thanks, Clarke.” Hobson gave me a pat on the shoulder as he passed me by. “For the help.”
“No problem.” I nodded. “I’ll see you later, Hobson.”
“Yeah.” He said, nodding back. “Later.”
I took my time to make my way to the Professor, waiting until he’d finished a chat with a trio of Slytherin girls.
“Ah. Mr. Clarke, come.” The man greeted me as the three students sent me curious looks. Flitwick turned to them. “Was there anything else, girls?”
The girl in the head, a short-haired blonde with black eyes, looked like she wanted to say more, but shook her head.
“No, sir. Have a good weekend.”
“A good weekend to you as well, dears.” Flitwick said with kind eyes. “Now, off you go!”
The girl nodded and led her posse out, but not before throwing me another look I couldn’t quite place.
What’s up with that? I stared into the three girls’ backs, uncomprehending.
“Mr. Clarke.” The Professor said, bringing my attention back to him. “I trust that you’re acclimating well to your new schedule?”
“Yes, Professor.” I nodded, thinking of the days of my old life when I’d switched schools. “It was a bit strange, getting used to all the sudden new faces, but it’s something I’ve dealt with for a very long time.”
“Oh, yes. Of course.” Flitwick said, looking a little uncomfortable as he came to his own conclusions. “I suppose you would meet many children at your home…”
The orphanage. I thought in amusement. As my home? Hell will freeze over before I consider that place anywhere near that fondly. It’s a stepping stone.
I supposed it was a fairer place to live than most. Her Bible thumping aside, the matron made sure to keep us fed and clothed, as well as provide the children with an education, however basic it was.
It was better than living with abusive parents, but to her, it was just a job with government-issued funding and benefits.
“There’s no need to worry about me, sir.” I said, trying to assure the man— I felt compelled to, for a strange reason. “No matter how unstable the world around me will get, I’ll always find my footing.”
Flitwick stared at me for a long moment, marvelling at my bold statement.
“I suppose you will, won’t you?” He said, a strange look in his eyes and a slow smile forming on his face. “Look at you. Already a Second Year and, judging from your stellar performance today, not likely to stop there…”
I didn’t answer immediately, unsure of what Professor Flitwick wanted to hear.
Was he afraid that I was progressing too fast?
If he knew of my mastery over the three spells I’d chosen to focus on, as well as how far I’ve already delved into magic in general, how would he react?
Should I tell him?
The war raging in my mind stopped dead as Flitwick continued. “I have received a letter from the Daily Prophet, asking for an interview with you, lad.”
“You…” I said, not having expected that. “What? An interview?”
“Yes.” He said. “A student ascending to the upper years is no common occurrence, as I’m sure you’ve already concluded.”
I nodded, eyes turning guarded. The stares I now received on a regular basis had confirmed as much.
“It doesn’t help that your examiners were quite… enthusiastic when speaking of you in their own interviews.” Flitwick added with a swish of his wand, bringing a folded copy of the Daily Prophet in front of me.
I took the paper and shrugged off my backpack, setting it down on the floor beside my feet.
“Page seven.” The Professor added helpfully.
I swallowed and flipped the pages until I reached the one in question. “Cleansweep and Comet to unveil their latest brooms to compete against the Nimbus, the Chudley Cannons lose yet again, Hollyhead Harpies Hail Harriet Hardyng…”
“Oh, my mistake. I always get the pages confused.” Flitwick said, laughing a little at his mishap. “Try page six.”
“I didn’t know you were such a Quidditch fan, sir.” I said, turning to the page before it. “Oh! There it is.”
I began to read.
THE RISING STAR OF HOGWARTS
Over the centuries, our world has seen the rise and fall of many great wizards and witches. Regarded with so much respect that their names were engraved into the foundations of Wizarding Society as we know it today, we are hard pressed to conceive of anyone being able to live up to their grandeur— their legend.
Hard pressed, but not impossible, for we have both been privileged and unfortunate to have a few giants walk among us: in our lifetime, we have been witness to the rise of two dark lords, as well as the rise of two great wizards to oppose them. The great wizards to which we are referring to are, of course, Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and known as the man who defeated the Dark Lord, Gellert Grindelwald, and Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in more recent years.
But, could a third name soon join their ranks?
Adam Clarke is a Muggleborn student, attending his very first year of Hogwarts. Raised in an orphanage, he joined our world less than six months ago. In those six months, he has already earned the right to be part of the Department of Magical Education’s accelerated learning program, and has already joined the Hogwarts Second Years at the time of publication of this article.
We, at the Daily Prophet, have had a chance to speak with the wizards and witches in charge of Clarke’s early examinations…
The more and more I read through it, the more I winced. Just what I need, right now.
“‘Displayed excellent, very high-level use of the Locomotor Charm’.” I quoted, not even trying to hide my discomfort. “‘A talent to behold’, ‘A powerful wizard in the making’, ‘We will be keeping a close eye on this one’.”
“Yes.” Flitwick confirmed with a nod. “And, according to the Prophet, they’ve received many requests for a follow-up article. Everyone wishes to know more about you, Mr. Clarke.”
Irritation crept up my neck, and I felt it tense almost painfully. I reached to rub the pressure away.
Fuck their wishes. They just put a massive target on my back for any purebloods who take issue with a mudblood being better than their kids. I wanted to say but held myself back.
Telling Flitwick this would serve no purpose but to alienate one of the few people who were on my side. Besides, maybe I was just overreacting, anyway.
Just in case, I’ll do this interview. I thought, deciding to hedge my bets. I need to own my public image; currently, all they know is that I’m a smart mudblood— a neutral impression to most, and an insult to the purebloods.
With an interview, however, I could improve this image to show myself as wanting to learn the traditions and be a member of the Wizarding World. It would never turn the extremists around, but it would at least buy me enough time so that, when push inevitably came to shove, I would be ready for them.
Threat mitigation 101. Appear friendly and they will underestimate you.
“I suppose I have to do this, then.” I said, nodding. “The interview, I mean.”
“Only if you want to, Mr. Clarke.” Professor Flitwick said, his voice insistent. “I could agree to the request, or I could just as well send a rejection back to the Prophet, if that is your wish.”
I stifled the scoff.
Though I did appreciate that Professor Flitwick was in my corner, I very well knew that a rejection was out of the question.
First impressions were very important: however false some people might have called them, the general population tended to hold onto first impressions, often defaulting to them, no matter how much the subject of their impression has changed over the years.
If the initial image I presented was that of an uncooperative, irritable and antisocial bookworm, then that would hinder me in the long run.
Just look at Lockhart; a complete incompetent, but still able to fool everyone because of how well he’s marketing himself. I thought. Already, I’ve heard mentions of him, here and there.
I nodded. “I would like to take the interview, sir— would you care to sit through it with me?”
Flitwick nodded after a moment, smiling. “Of course, Mr. Clarke. I was going to, regardless. It’s my duty as Head of House Ravenclaw to see to your safety, after all.”
I smiled back, reaching down to take my backpack. “Was there anything else, sir?”
The man shook his head, shooing me away. “Off you trot, and enjoy your weekend!”
“You too, sir.”
I stepped out of the classroom and made my way to the Library, adjusting the strap over my shoulder.
My feet carried me over the familiar path while I considered what had just been said to me.
Articles written about me, and an invitation to be interviewed— no wonder more and more people were starting to stare. The damn paper was comparing me to the great names of the generation.
Newspapers and their stupid need to exaggerate things for dramatic effect.
I paused mid-step, realizing that’s what had happened with those Second Year Slytherins. They were sizing me up, seeing if I matched whatever images the article had conjured up of me.
Now that you’re a known entity. Part of me thought. Many will seek to test you, to use you in some way— to make money or gain prestige; the list goes on.
I nodded to myself, turning a corner and wondering if I should have turned down the school’s offer to sit my exams early.
The benefits of remaining anonymous were obvious, to say the least. So, why had I taken the tests? Was it out of some childish need to be acknowledged?
Was there even a point to a quicker progression? I rather doubted that the Ministry of Magic would remove the Trace off of my wand if I graduated early.
Or, would they? It seemed unfair that I’d be forced to wait until the age of majority to use magic if I had graduated long before that and was ready to go out into the world.
I just needed to argue my case.
All the more reason to build up a positive image in the press. I thought, staring out into the still snowy courtyard. The Ministry was likely to be far more responsive to someone with good standing. Besides, I’m not particularly anonymous among the students, anyway. Eventually, people would learn just how capable I was.
I stopped for a moment to check my shoes and heard the abrupt noise of soles clacking against the stone corridor.
I tensed, but didn’t make any sudden moves as I tightened my shoelaces.
Someone’s following me. I thought, resuming my course to the Library. What now; a secret admirer?
Or, perhaps, it was someone who just so happened to be walking behind me. Was I being paranoid?
I decided to test this person, turning corner after corner without any rhyme or reason. The faint sound of clacking at the edge of my notice persisted, confirming that I wasn’t overreacting, at least.
Let’s see who it is. I thought, spying another turn up ahead.
I needed to time this just right.
Turning left, I drew my wand as soon as I exited my stalker’s line of sight and tapped it on myself.
The air swirled around me with stealthy purpose as I disappeared from view in an instant.
Truly, the best spell in my arsenal.
Now invisible, I moved to hug the wall and watched for the person to turn the corner.
Let’s see who you… are? I stared at the person before me in annoyance. What’s he doing here? More of the same nonsense? Does he have infinite free time? Piss off, already.
The boy stopped in place, staring in the direction I’d gone. His face was a caricature of confusion.
The two brutes aren’t with him, either. I noted, watching Draco Malfoy huff and go back the way he came. What’s he doing alone?
“What the fuck.” I mouthed, following him for a while to make sure that he hadn’t separated from his two thugs just to set some kind of trap.
But Malfoy kept walking around without aim, getting more and more frustrated as the seconds passed.
“Where is he?” I heard the mutter from the blonde boy.
He’s still looking for me. I realized, intrigue bubbling into my psyche with an insidious grip.
I considered revealing myself, but thought better of it. Who knew what the Hell this kid wanted? It could still be a trap, for all I knew.
I shook my head.
If he really wants to approach me. I thought, turning away from the increasingly lost and frustrated boy and resuming my previous course. Then he can do so without being a creepy stalker.
I had a busy schedule, after all.