March 7, 1992, 7:00 AM, Ravenclaw Tower
I found Mira in the Common Room.
She was sitting on one of the couches, staring straight ahead into the fireplace.
I followed her gaze, watching as the golden flames danced around each other, locked in a strange, but satisfying embrace.
“G’morning, Adam.” Mira said, directing her eyes to me for a moment before shifting her attention back to the fire.
She lifted the cup in her hands to her face and took a sip. “Come. Sit.”
I didn’t say anything, moving down the stairs, past a few other early risers before taking my seat next to the girl.
A few seconds passed in silence before I glanced at her, but Mira seemed to only have eyes for the fire in front of her and the cup in her hands.
I took a short breath and forced myself to relax, joining in her activity. An early morning routine, huh.
Come to think of it, I did see her here in the mornings, every now and again. I watched the fire crackle and swirl for a while, almost losing myself in it.
This actually isn’t so bad. I thought, smiling. A good way to focus yourself— to get ready for the day ahead of you.
“Did you sleep well?” Mira asked, breaking her silence.
“Hmm?” I tore my gaze from the fire, feeling a little disoriented before her words registered. “Yeah. Slept very well.”
Alef Ard buzzed about my head, as if to say, ‘Yes, I did that!’
I found myself amused at the spirit’s antics. Yes, you did do that. Thank you, friend.
The spirit of Hogwarts buzzed again.
“That’s good.” Mira said, taking another sip from her mug. “I hope you don’t mind us just sitting here. It’s a bit of a tradition for me, at this point.”
“A tradition?” I repeated the word, wondering what she meant. Was it a tradition for her to sit here, or…?
Reading the expression on my face, Mira smiled. “Oh yes. Each and every member of the Goshawk family makes it a point to start the day off by sitting in front of the fire of the Ravenclaw Common Room.”
I nodded. “What if you weren’t sorted in Ravenclaw?”
Mira’s lips twitched as she turned her gaze back to the merry fire. “The other Common Rooms have fireplaces too, you know. Most of us Goshawks have been inducted to Ravenclaw, however.”
“Oh, okay. Fair enough.” I made a face of comprehension, shifting in my seat to make myself more comfortable. Nature vs nurture, eh? Probably both for her, considering what her grandmother does.
“I remember, when I was little, I would spend mornings like this with my parents and even my grandmother at times.” Mira took another sip. “Whenever she had time to visit, we would sit in front of the fire and drink hot chocolate.”
“Mmm…” I said. “That sounds nice.”
Mira winced and sent me an apologetic look. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think—”
“It’s fine.” I waved her apology away. “It really does sound nice. Mind if I do it from time to time, too?”
Mira opened her mouth and closed it, not knowing what to make of me. “The Common Room is free to everyone.”
I snorted. “Thanks.”
“Would you like some?” She lifted her cup. “It’s a coffee blend my mother made for me. Don’t quite know how to make it myself, yet. Mum’s keeping it secret, for some reason.”
I wondered why for a moment, before shaking the thought away.
“Coffee.” I said instead, sounding unsure. “I’ve never had it.”
In either life. I thought. The smell of coffee had never really appealed to me.
“Always try new things at least once, Adam.” Mira quoted, her eyes growing both mirthful and annoyed. “Great, now I’m sounding like my parents. Thank you for that.”
I had a feeling that she, in all actuality, wasn’t very thankful.
I chuckled and we fell into silence again.
It wasn’t until the students began to filter into the Common Room that Mira set her mug down before drawing her wand. She tapped it once against the cup and sent it flying up the stairs, out of sight.
I imagined it was back in her room, among her things.
“The Packing Charm?” I said, impressed. “Non-verbally, too.”
“It’s dead useful, you know.” Mira said, seeming a little bothered by my mention of it.
She eyed me for a moment. “You don’t find the so-called ‘Household Charms’ boring?”
“Boring?” I said, scoffing. “It’s like you said, dead useful. Magic is more than blasting things to bits or spewing fire all over the place.”
Unless your name is Seamus Finnigan. I thought, holding back a smirk. Then it is indeed about the pyrotechnics.
This seemed to be the right answer, because Mira gave me a smile, her eyes glittering in the firelight.
“Well said.” Mira stood and gestured for me to follow her. “Let’s go.”
I nodded and did so. Mira led me out of the Ravenclaw Dorms and down a floor. We passed a few doors, took a left, and from there, we moved until we stood in front of the first door to the right.
“Here we are.” Mira tapped her wand against the lock. The latch glowed with a golden sheen and the door unlocked, swinging open to reveal an empty classroom.
“Nice and quiet.” I said, hearing the slight echo of my voice coming off of the walls. “A bit on the remote side, though…”
“I don’t want anyone to interrupt our practice time.” Mira said, closing the door and locking it shut.
“And why’s that?” I said, keeping my voice cool as I moved to the opposite side of the room. “Embarrassed to be taught by a First Year?”
Mira laughed at that; her clear, pleasant voice filled the room for a few moments. “You are no First Year, Adam. Not anymore.”
I shook my head. “I suppose not. You ready?”
“Yes.” She moved to stand before me, wand at the ready. “P—”
“No.” I said, raising a hand. “Not quite yet.”
“Huh?” Mira lowered her wand, a note of confusion entering her voice. “I was just about to cast the spell.”
“We’ll get to that.” I waved it off. “First, explain to me what the spell does— what it’s for.”
The Prefect blinked, not knowing where I was going with this, but answered my question regardless. “Um, all right. It’s called the Shield Charm. Its incantation is ‘Protego’, and the wand motion is a vertical line upwards. It conjures up a shield to block incoming jinxes and physical objects—”
“Textbook answer. Okay.” I cut her off, starting to understand the problem a little more. “Have you been able to cast the spell?”
Mira, her face already in a frown due to my interruption, deepened her expression. “I have not. Every time I try, it just feels… wrong? It’s hard to explain.”
This was starting to sound more familiar by the second. “All right. Now, you can show me.”
“Okay.” She turned to the left and held her wand at the ready. “Protego!”
Her wand sputtered out a few wisps of silver before stopping.
Her pronunciation had been good, and the same went for her wand motion.
“Yeah.” I said.
Mira huffed, frustration spreading over her face. “I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
“Your pronunciation and wand motion are correct.” I said. “So it’s not that.”
“What is it, then?” Mira was getting more annoyed by the second.
“You lack resolve.” I said.
That caught her off guard. “What?”
“You’re casting the spell with no resolve.” I said again.
“I heard you, the first time.” She looked annoyed. “I’m asking what you meant by it.”
“Let’s circle back— and bear with me on this, Mira.” I said, noticing her souring mood. “What’s the Shield Charm intended for?”
Here, Mira’s face shifted into one of uncertainty.
“It’s not a trick question. Just say the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the words ‘Shield Charm’.” I made sure to reassure her.
“A spell… To defend myself?” She said, perplexed.
“Exactly.” I nodded. “I know it seems like an obvious answer, but that’s the correct one.”
She shook her head after a few seconds of furious thought. “I don’t understand.”
I let out an exhale and approached her. “Let’s try something different, then.”
“What do you…”
Before she could finish her statement, I threw a punch and stopped just a few inches away from her midsection.
It got the desired effect; Mira staggered back in surprise and fear, her arms raising to cover her stomach on instinct.
“Oi!” She said, her face turning angry as she banged against a desk on accident and held onto it to support herself. “Ow! What was that for!?”
She was trembling, I noted with a wince.
Oh. I thought. Shit. Nice going, Clarke.
“That…” I said, backing away and taking a seat to make sure that she felt a little safer. “Was a lesson. Didn’t go how I intended, but…”
“You tried to hit me!” She almost screamed again.
I nodded in confirmation, pushing through my own guilt. “Yes, I almost did. And what did you do in response?”
“I—” Mira said, ready to tear me a new one, and then stopped herself. Her eyes flickered from me, and then to her left hand, still hovering protectively over the spot I had almost struck.
“I see you’re starting to understand.” I said.
She turned back to me, the anger dissipating in an instant. From her wide eyes, I knew that I had her full and undivided attention. “I was trying to… defend myself.”
“Exactly.” I said in approval, nodding twice. “Your desire and intent were to stop my fist from striking you. In that same vein, that resolve is what you need to cast the Shield Charm.”
She nodded, still processing what I had just said.
“Watch.” I stepped off of the table, pointing my wand in front of me.
I could almost see the enemy standing before me, glowering. I wrapped my mind with the intent and desire to raise a shield made of the strongest steel.
“Protego!” I kept my voice clear and snapped my wand up. The translucent shield of white rose at once, covering my front with a half dome of energy.
I kept it up for a few seconds longer before ending the spell and turning to the shocked girl. “All it takes is for you to steel your resolve, Mira.”
It took Mira a few seconds to get ahold of herself. “Not even Professor Quirrell’s shield was this good!”
I stifled the urge to laugh. The turban wearing man had them all fooled so well that it was truly frightening.
If she knew that he was severely holding himself back in order to appear weaker than he actually is, well…
“Go for it.” I said, stowing my wand in my pocket. “Imagine someone is coming at you like I did. Or someone is trying to cast a jinx at you.”
“And defend myself.” Mira finished for me. “I’ll try.”
“Do or do not.” I replied. “There is no try.”
“That’s a boring movie.” Mira said, rolling her eyes at my look of surprise. “My dad took me to see Star Wars a few years ago. Didn’t appeal to me.”
I smiled a little. I knew a few people in my old life who would blanch in horror at such a blasphemous statement. “Go on, then.”
Mira smiled back before controlling her expression and drawing herself up. She closed her eyes for a few moments, imagining her foe in her mind’s eye.
She slashed her wand upwards, her eyes opening to show a ferocity I hadn’t expected from her. “Protego!”
A tall, but thin shield of translucent white appeared before the girl, taking the shape of a vertical rectangle.
Mira cried out with joy and admired her handiwork for a few moments before her Shield Charm dissipated into tiny wisps, fading away in seconds.
She took a deep breath; a sheen of sweat was forming on her forehead.
“Well done.” I said, clapping my hands together. “Very well done.”
Mira did not reply, instead staring at her wand for a few moments in pleasant surprise. Her expression morphed into a wide smile and she ran to me, embracing me in a tight hug.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!” Mira said, excited.
My nose was filled with the smell of coffee, rose, and a hint of sweat. I tried to push myself away, all too aware of the girl’s breasts rubbing against my face, but she held on tight. Nope. Hell no. We ain’t doing this.
“Woah, that’s a little too much appreciation, there.” I said, blushing a deep red. “Let go.”
Mira’s look went from happiness to pure mortification the instant she realized what exactly she had done.
She let go, watching as I took three, quick steps away. “Oh, Merlin! I’m so sorry, Adam. I was just so happy that—”
“It’s fine.” My reply was quick. “Let’s just get back to practice. Okay? Okay.”
“A-all right.” Mira grasped at the easy way out, embarrassment written all over her face.
It took half a dozen more minutes of trying until she was able to shake off the awkwardness and cast the spell once again.
All the while, I felt myself relax a little. I’m just going to pretend that never happened.
Alef Ard buzzed with excitement.
“Good. That’s enough for now.” I said on her fourth successful cast, thirty minutes in. “You’re getting the hang of this. You’ll master the spell in no time, at this rate.”
“Thanks, Adam.” Mira said, sending me an awkward smile. “Thank you for the help. Truly.”
I nodded back. “You’re welcome. It was the least I could do after you gave me those notes.”
The girl opened her mouth to say something further, before thinking better of it.
“Come on.” She said, moving towards the door. “We can probably still catch the tail end of breakfast time, if we hurry.”
“You go on ahead.” I waved her off, sending the girl a pleasant, but very much fake smile. “I’ll catch up.”
She smiled back, though it was a little strained. Mira unlocked the door and opened it, turning to me. “All right, Adam. See you.”
I waved at her in response, watching the girl close the door behind her.
I reached a hand up to my face. It had felt nice, and that alone was enough to make me cringe with self-disgust.
“I like her.” The voice of Helena Ravenclaw came from behind me, making me jump in place.
“Jesus—” I stumbled forward before turning to the ghost with a glare. “Stop doing that! You’re going to give me a heart attack if you keep this up.”
Helena smirked, sending me a knowing look. “I like the sound of that. Your ghost and I would have so much fun together.”
I saw her intense gaze and felt a chill creeping up my spine. She isn’t actually going to try and kill me, is she? Can ghosts even fuck?
That was one question I was happy to never find the answer to.
“Do forgive me for my flights of fancy, Zero…” Helena said, amused at my reaction. “I apologize, for I did not mean to cause you any distress.”
I nodded, not buying it for a second. “Yeah, I’m sure you didn’t.”
“With that said…” she continued, gesturing at the exit which Mira had just taken. “I approve of your courtship with Miss Goshawk.”
I didn’t answer immediately, instead just letting myself absorb the comment.
“…You approve of my what?”” I said, my voice rising in pitch at the sheer ridiculousness of what she had just said.
“It’s a good match, Zero.” Helena said, nodding. “I’ve watched her over the past few years— she is just like her mother and grandmother before her. Just as they were driven by the need to learn and seek out knowledge, so is she. She would make a great wife for you, you know.”
“Well, um…” I said, swallowing as I tried to string the words together. “Thank you for the, erm… advice. I’m a bit too old for her, though, Helena.”
“You are younger than she is.” Helena pointed out, floating beside me.
“You know what I mean.” I said, frustration and disgust coloring my tone. “I’m pushing forty, and she’s fifteen. A child, herself; it’s wrong in so many ways that I don’t even know where to begin.”
My body seemed to disagree with me. The girl’s warmth had been most welcome.
“Restarting your formative years does not make you more mature, Zero.” Helena argued back, dismissing my concerns with a wave of her hands. “If anything, it may make you less so.”
“Doesn’t change the fact that I was in my late twenties before I got here.” I said, shrugging. “Still way too old. Maybe in a few years, when she’s an actual adult, I’ll consider it.”
“I don’t see much of a difference between who she is now and who she’ll be in two years.” Helena said, pushing the issue with a shake of her head. “Uncle Godric got married when he was forty five— to a girl of fifteen, as well, come to think of it. The wedding was quite a lively ceremony.”
Alef Ard made a series of buzzes and pings.
“Alef says that it has witnessed many of the students copulating in its halls.” Helena smiled. “Even some of the professors. I can’t say it’s wrong.”
Oh God. I scrunched my eyes shut. This just keeps getting worse and worse, doesn’t it?
“Look.” I said with a shaky breath. “Kids can do it with each other, I don’t care.”
“Then what is the problem?” The ghost of Ravenclaw said. “You two are of an age— a physical one, at any rate.”
“I am not a child, Helena.” I snapped at her.
There was a long moment of silence, in which I collected myself.
“No matter what this physical body says my age is, even if you’re right about my maturity not increasing after re-experiencing my formative years…” I said. “That still makes me at least twenty-nine. Mira is a child.”
Helena didn’t say anything, and I saw that she was at least keeping an open mind.
I hid the grimace threatening to appear on my face, instead keeping my expression calm. “I… appreciate your concern, and I do have a good deal of respect for you, Helena. If you want, we can meet together later, and I’ll explain to you why my reaction to a suggestion such as this is so severe.”
Words like grooming came to mind; I had to shake off the disgust again.
“As you wish, Zero.” The daughter of Rowena acquiesced, looking displeased but nodding all the same. “I look forward to this discussion. Until then.”
I nodded and watched her glide away. She sent me one more look before entering through the stone wall.
I let out an exhale, shaking my head as I exited the classroom and moved to catch up with Mira. “People from the old times are mad.”
I found the Ravenclaw Perfect at the staircases, still waiting.
“Adam.” She acknowledged, gesturing at the missing stairway. “I’m afraid we’re in for a bit of a wait.”
“You mean you’ve been standing here this whole time?” I said, eyes widening with surprise.
“Yes.” Mira enthused. “This is the first time I’ve ever had to wait this long, though. I’m famished— oh, there it is. You’re a pretty good luck charm, Adam.”
“Thanks.” I said, narrowing my eyes in thought. You kept her here, Alef?
Alef Ard buzzed with happiness and joy, lingering at the left side of my mind in a way to get me to look at the girl in that direction.
Oh, of course the ancient spirit of the Castle is playing matchmaker, too. I kept this thought private, not wanting to hurt the little guy.
As a spirit, Alef Ard was innocent. It saw no problem with the copulation of those within its walls. If anything, the genius loci would consider the acts as a celebration of life.
Maybe when I’m a little older, buddy. I kept my thoughts gentle. For now, time to eat!
The spirit buzzed about in excitement. Through my own senses, the spirit had gained the indirect ability to perceive the world around me, the same way I did.
It was no wonder that it was trying to get me to pay attention to Mira.
A sensation-chasing, millennium old spirit of knowledge and life. I thought to myself as Mira and I made our way down the stairs towards the first floor.
“That’s better.” The girl said the moment we stepped off of the stairs. She grimaced. “I was afraid that we’d have to wait an equally long period of time on every staircase.”
“We’d end up spending half the day there.” I said. “I’d rather go through ten lectures with Binns than stand there all day.”
The door to the Great Hall was only a few steps away, now.
“I wouldn’t tempt fate if I were you.” Mira said, her eyes brightening the closer we got to the entrance.
She opened the door and held it open for me. “After you.”
I went inside, taking a few steps before stopping. All of the students were whispering among themselves, as if they had just discovered some terrible secret.
“What’s the matter?” Mira came in behind me. “You’ve stopped.”
I nodded towards all the kids. “Something’s up.”
I felt the tension in the air even as I made my way to the Ravenclaw table. Mira sent me a nod, hurrying ahead to join her group of friends and ask what was going on.
Reaching my usual spot, I took my seat. Tony grunted out some garbled greeting, his mouth full of food and his eyes glued to the paper to the side of his plate. I shrugged and piled some eggs and sausages for myself.
“Good morning, Tony. Su.” I smiled at the two and took a bite. Whatever was going on, I wasn’t going to let it ruin my first meal of the day. “Sleep well?”
Su snatched Tony’s paper, rolled it up and threw it over the table to me. I caught it, feeling curious. Was this what the tension in the air was about?
“Hey!” Tony cried out, food flying at her before he wiped his mouth clean. “I was reading that! You don’t just take a man’s paper in the morning.”
“You’ve read it four times already!” Su glared back, patting the food off of her before reaching for a tissue. “You should focus on eating anyway! Let Adam look at it, for now.”
Tony stuck his tongue out, in reply.
I stared down at the rolled up newspaper.
“Go on.” She said, and I nodded, unrolling the paper.
My eyes went wide at the headline. “Gellert Grindelwald… Escapes?”
Oh, dear. I thought. It’s going to be one of those days, isn’t it?
A quick look at the staff table showed that Dumbledore was not there; busy with the fallout, maybe?
I swallowed my food and took a quick drink, setting my meal aside for the moment. I stared at the calm face in the moving photo.
It was eerie.
Though the figure in the image looked old and a little disheveled, I could still see the gaze of a strong man. It stood in stark contrast to what I expected— a frail, withering corpse-like wraith, having given up in his long years in captivity.
Dumbledore’s death must have really gotten to him, in the books.
There was no sign of that wretch in this image.
I began to read. Gellert Grindelwald, the most notorious wizard blah blah— there we are: ‘a baffling escape in which the Castle Nurmengard was reduced to glass’. Did he straight up glass the place after escaping it? The amount of energy required to do that is… ridiculous. Has he just been playing possum for fifty years?
I read the article once more before setting it down. This was most unexpected. From all of my knowledge of Harry Potter canon and fanon, this was an eventuality I had never taken into consideration.
Though the story behind Grindelwald’s defeat was known far and wide, there were few details to quantify the man’s true capabilities— the two high-budget movies that seemed to have a casual disregard of the original canon came to mind.
Then again, is this place really the canon version of the story? I thought. Why would genius loci exist, if that’s the case? I only know of one or two universes in which that particular concept is real, and neither answer fills me with any confidence.
I shook the frightening thought away and focused on Grindelwald and what I knew about him. Sadly, it wasn’t much: he was skilled at magic, had a flair for the dramatic, was prone to giving self-righteous speeches, and was a wizard supremacist.
I think those are all the main points. I thought. And he had an obsession with Credence. Or Aurelius Dumbledore, if he even exists, anyway.
Common knowledge was just as useless; all that everyone seemed to say about Gellert was that his duel with Dumbledore was considered the craziest, most bad-ass wizard duel of all time— not in those specific words, mind you.
“—Adam.” Tony got my attention. “Adam!”
I jumped in my seat, fixing my eyes onto his. “What is it?”
“Oh.” I said and sent the paper towards him before focusing on my meal. “There you go.”
“Thanks.” Tony was about to re-read it, but paused for a second “What did you think about it?”
“What do I think?” I repeated the boy’s words, stabbing the sausage with a fork. “I think…”
I paused for a moment, realizing that I didn’t know what to say. “I have absolutely no idea.”
This changes everything.
I missed Professor Quirrell’s calculating look from the high table.