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A Shift

March 17, 1992, 2:00 PM, Defense Against The Dark Arts Classroom

Quirinus Quirrell

Professor Quirrell stifled the urge to bristle at the students in the back with an ease borne from long practice.

“N-Now, that will be all f-for this class.” He forced the stutter, seeing the relieved faces of the Sixth Years before him. “D-don’t forget! Thirteen inches on th-the properties of the S-Stunning Charm.”

The look of relief among the students shifted to one of mild resignation. Quirrell, once again, had to suppress the scoff of derision which threatened to appear on his face.

These are the people we wish to rule over? Quirrell thought to himself. They are foolish children, to be sure, but those who are fully grown are much the same. They are without a care of the power they wield, but are instead obsessed with fame and wealth— mere trifles.

There were some times, Quirrell swore, that he struggled to even see them as his fellow humans.

They were all faceless, witless, and soulless to him.

They are like living husks wasting the very space they occupy. He thought to himself. It only grows worse with every successive generation. The vermin are breeding, and those exceptional few continue to dwindle, further and further.

One day, those special people would cease to exist. Perhaps it would not occur in his lifetime, but Quirrell knew that it was coming.

It was like a tidal wave; slow to build, but its momentum and impact was undeniable, and colossal. The merciless destroyer of civilization.

“Professor?” A female voice interrupted his momentary reverie, and he blinked, seeing Ophelia Scarlet, one of the more promising students, stand before him. “I was hoping to ask you a few questions.”

All of the other students had already left, leaving only the two of them. Quirrell gave her a closer look.

She was a Ravenclaw, like he had been, and seemed to have a genuine drive to succeed. Her talent was lacking, but she made up for it with sheer hard work. It was an admirable trait.

Once again, he cursed those who possessed a greater deal of natural talent, but no drive to do well.

Quirrell plastered a nervous smile onto his face. “Q-Questions, you say?”

The girl nodded once. “Yes, sir.”

“V-very well.” He said and out came the deluge; questions about the homework, about the useability of the Stunning Charm. She had even gone so far as to inquire on the nature of the next lesson.

“All in d-due time, Miss S-Scarlet.” He said, taking the time to keep his voice gentle. “Best to keep at a reasonable p-pace, yes? That way you will be able t-to retain the knowledge.”

“Yes, sir.” Ophelia nodded, a strained look forming upon her face. “It’s just that…”

“Hm?”

“Well…” She trailed off for a few moments before saying what was on her mind. “Seeing our first year, Clarke, do so well… It makes me want to do the same— give it my all, I mean.”

Professor Quirrell nodded with approval. “Of course. T-t-to wish to improve is a great quality to have. H-however, it is important t-to know your limits, Miss Scarlet.”

The girl frowned, likely taking his statement the wrong way. Perhaps he should set her mind at ease.

He held up a hand to forestall whatever she was going to say. “D-do not mistake me, Miss Scarlet. You h-h-have an admirable work ethic. You attempt to master your spellwork, truly.”

Ophelia absorbed the comment for a moment before replying; her face was still uncertain. “Then…”

His face shifted and he dropped the stutter altogether. “Talent is something that you are born with. While I consider myself to be an accomplished wizard, I would not place myself on, say, Professor Dumbledore’s level?”

Whether she noticed the lack of stutter or not, Quirrell hadn’t been able to tell. “I think I understand, sir. And Adam is the next coming of the Headmaster?”

He drew his wand from under the table and gave it a silent wave, closing the door and locking it without her noticing. “That remains to be seen, but he does possess both the talent and the drive to succeed. He will be an inspiration for many, as he seems to be for you; that alone will propel you to greater heights.”

“I see…” Ophelia said, nodding and looking like she was feeling better. “Thank you, Professor.”

“It was my pleasure.” He gave her a smile as she turned to leave. “Of course, there is one thing that can be done to make you better at magic.”

The girl stopped, and turned back to look at him with wide eyes. “There is?”

“Oh, yes.” He pointed his wand at her from under the table. “Imperio.”

He felt the energy of his brain flow down into his spine, and through his arm before shooting into the girl’s body. Quirrell felt her will crumble before his with an almost laughable ease.

Ophelia’s expression flattened at once. The spell went off without a hitch.

“Come and look me in the eyes.”

The girl obeyed, leaning forward on the desk so he could get a good look at her eyes, as well as her rather ample bosom.

Quirrell grimaced. Had he cast the spell wrong? “Just your eyes will do, my dear.”

She acquiesced and went back to normal.

Voldemort gave a cruel chuckle from the back of his mind. “She is… interested in you.

Quirrell got a look of shocked realization and disgust on his face. “Is that so?”

Indeed…” The face under the turban said. “She admires your ability to overcome adversity.”

Professor Quirrell nodded, sighing. “I suppose that makes it all the easier to control her.”

“Others are mere playthings to us, Quirinus.” Voldemort said. “Pawns in our game. We will use her as we see fit.”

Quirrell suppressed the urge to shiver.

“Oh, I will.” Quirrell said with a sharp tone. “In this world, there is nothing but power.”

Indeed.

“Now…” He stared at the girl for a little longer, trying to figure out the wording of his command.

With her infatuation, he realized he would need to be very specific, otherwise she would slant her given orders in a way to make things… Uncomfortable for the both of them— mostly for him.

Professor Quirrell may have joined forces with the most infamous Dark Wizard of all time, but he was still unwilling to cross certain lines.

It’s too heinous of an act.

These thoughts, he kept away from the Dark Lord.

Even tied as Quirrell was to the creature, Quirinus still found that he could keep certain thoughts away if he hid them under the old feelings of love and compassion that he once felt as a child. Voldemort refused to even look upon them, considering such thoughts worthless.

Good students are hard to come by and shouldn’t be treated with such callous disregard. He thought, slowly coming to a decision.

“After you leave this class, you will make no mention of this conversation to anyone.” Professor Quirrell instructed. “You will also make a greater effort to succeed in your studies— this includes resting your body well and eating well, also. I cannot have you break down in some misguided studying frenzy.”

“Yes, sir.” Ophelia said, her voice a monotone.

“No independent interpretation on your part.” He said after a quick suggestion from his Master. “You understand?”

“I understand, sir.” Ophelia said and repeated his orders down to the letter.

“Good, Ophelia.” He gave her a smile. “Very good. You may go.”

He watched her go and rolled his eyes at the intentional sway of the hips that Ophelia was making for him.

Perhaps, when he succeeded in this mission, and if the girl still harbored such feelings for him when she was a little older, he would pursue the matter.

His Master may have been a creature with no moral compass, but he decided that he would hold onto his own— however skewed it was— for as long as he could.

There is more to life than power.

oooo

Same Time, Unused Classroom…

Adam Clarke

Hermione’s voice rang from the side, followed by the sound of metal scraping over the stone floor.

I turned my head to see that the source was one of the desks.

A successful cast of the Knockback Jinx. I swallowed down the food before taking another bite. This bread is so good. I should ask if the elves would allow me to cook my own food, though.

I still remembered so many recipes from my previous life, and it would serve as a wonderful skill to resume practicing. I hadn’t cooked for myself in so long— and no, I didn’t count the occasional kitchen duty at the orphanage.

They just made us peel potatoes or apples— grunt work. I thought.

There wasn’t anything wrong with such a thing, per se, but it wasn’t the same as the real deal. Cooking was like an art, and I was curious to see what kind of dishes I was capable of making with a wand in my hand.

The perfect dough. I thought, my mouth beginning to water. Cakes, all sorts of desserts, bangers and mash— wait, no; steak and mash. That delectable cut of meat would be seasoned to perfection, every time.

“Adam?” Su said from my right, breaking through the haze around my mind.

I turned to her, a little disappointed at the interruption of my impromptu daydream. “What’s up?”

“Oh, nevermind.” Her face, which had been inquisitive, turned apologetic. “I didn’t mean to bother you.”

“No, no.” I made sure to say quickly. “Please, tell me. I was just thinking.”

“Oh.” Su said; her eyes brightened with earnest curiosity. “What were you thinking about?”

She’s such a cute kid. I thought.

“Steak.” I smiled, humoring her as I held up my food. “A nice, big, juicy cut of steak, and some mashed potatoes to go along with this bread.”

Su giggled. “They’ll probably serve some in the evening, you know…”

‘If you actually show up’ was left unsaid.

“I’ll come.” I assured her. “Today is my rest-day!”

“You rest-day?” She repeated.

“Yep. A day in which I do absolutely nothing.” I nodded. “That means no practice of any kind outside of class, and no research either.”

“Aw, I was going to ask for some help.” Su said, sending a look back to her work.

“Oh.” I said, feeling a little flat-footed. “Well, I’ll help you.”

“But you said—”

“That’s for higher level studies.” I waved her off. “Since I’ve already studied this stuff, then it’s okay.”

The logic didn’t seem to jive with the girl, but she shrugged. Good help which was offered freely wasn’t something anyone could reject out of hand, after all.

Least of all Su. I thought. She’s too nice for her own good. Gonna have to get her to grow a backbone. Can’t have her being walked all over, after all.

Figuring out how to get her to do that, however, was a mystery I wasn’t ready to tackle, just yet.

“Let’s see what you’ve got going on.” I said, taking another bite of my bread before setting it down and leaning over to her side. “Ah, the Mending Charm. One of the more complex Charms of the year.”

You thought it was complex?” Su said, her pitch rising with surprise.

I blinked at her tone and chuckled. “Su… Sure, I learn quickly, but I can recognize when something is difficult, you know.”

The girl looked a little pained at the light rebuke. “Oh, I’m sorry Adam. I didn’t mean to say it like that.”

“It’s okay.” I waved her apology away with a reassuring smile. “You didn’t do anything wrong— just caught me a little off guard, is all.”

I paused for a moment to make sure that she was all right before continuing. “Walk me through it. Can I see your notes there?”

“Yes.” Su said, placing her finger atop the block filled with her unique, tiny scrawl to show me which passage it was before handing me the parchment.

“I understand the theory, which states that the essence of the Mending Charm is to restore an object to its previous, unbroken state, making it like new again.” Su explained as I looked her notes over, nodding every few seconds. “I understand that I have to visualize the item as it was before and bring it back to that state, but I just can’t do it. My mind gets confused.”

I absorbed her words for a moment further before speaking. “All right. What have you tried this on?”

“Well I tried it in Professor Flitwick’s class, and it worked.” Su said, but continued before I could interject. “But when I try it on my own, it doesn’t.”

I tilted my head in slight confusion. “What did the Professor give you to fix?”

“A broken quill.”

I nodded, starting to get an idea of what was going on. “And what are you trying to mend outside of class?”

Here, Su went quiet.

“Su?”

She did not answer instantly. “I…”

Curiosity tingled at the back of my mind, but I kept my expression calm and inviting. “You can tell me. No one will know but us.”

The girl hesitated for a few seconds longer before blurting it out. “I broke a cup in the Common Room!”

“You broke a cup? Wait— Mira’s cup!” My eyes went wide with realization. “That was you!?”

“Yes…” Su hanged her head, flushing with shame and embarrassment. “I couldn’t fix it and then everyone saw it so I couldn’t say anything ‘cause I didn’t want to get in trouble and go to detention and—”

I raised my hand in reassurance. “Woah, easy there. It’s okay. Secret, remember?”

Su gave me quick nods, still very anxious.

“And I made Mira really angry, too.” Su deflated. “She’s really nice and sweet and I hurt her feelings.”

“Aw, it’s okay.” I patted the girl’s shoulder, trying to soothe her. “You know she repaired it then and there, right?”

“I know…” Su whined. “But I still feel really, really bad about it.”

I smiled a little.

“You’ll just have to make it up to her, then.” I said.

“What?” That seemed to catch the girl off guard. “What are you talking about, Adam?”

“Well, you feel bad, right?” I said. “Guilty about what happened, and it’s eating at you.”

Su nodded, and I continued. “Well, you get better at the Mending Charm, and then what you do is you get her a gift, come clean about what happened and say you’re sorry.”

“He’s right, Su.” Hermione backed me up, having been listening in on us the entire time. “Just say you’re sorry. Mira will understand.”

“And that’ll work?” Su asked, looking at me with eyes so wide it felt like we were imparting the secrets of the universe onto her.

“People are reasonable, you know?” I shook my head with amusement and poked her forehead.

“Ow!”

“Come on.” I said and got up, ignoring her brief flash of annoyance. “I know what the problem with your Mending Charm is.”

At that, Su followed me to the center of the room, rubbing her forehead a few more times. “You do?”

“Oh, yeah.” I drew my wand and Summoned a piece of parchment to me. A second later, I split it into two with a quick, “Diffindo!”

Holding both pieces in my hand. “So, in Professor Flitwick’s class, I’m guessing he had you fix things which were relatively simple. A clean cut onto a feather, for example. Or a bit of parchment split into two. Yes?”

Both Hermione and Su nodded.

I waved my wand over the pieces of parchment, placing the intent to restore them into the single, original piece on them. “Reparo.”

The two halves fused into a whole. I held the paper up. “Are you with me so far?”

“Yes.” Su said.

“Now, you broke Mira’s mug.” I ignored the girl’s wince. “And it went into many pieces— some you probably couldn’t even see. Multiple parts of the whole, broken at different angles, not equally sized— that is a lot to take in, to visualize.”

“So…” My fellow Ravenclaw reasoned. “What you’re saying is that— that I wasn’t ready?”

“Exactly.” I said. “You start out simple, and go up from there. So, for example…”

I made a small tear in the parchment. “Something like this. A very small tear. It’s still easy to visualize the whole because it still looks much the same. Once you can fix that, you make a bigger tear, fix that, and then make an even bigger tear… And so on.”

“That makes sense.” Hermione said, biting her lip. “I never thought of it like that…”

“That’s one of my rules.” I said, smiling. “‘Baby steps; never run before you can even walk or you’ll just end up hurting yourself’.”

“That’s really smart, Adam.” Su said, and Hermione nodded with her.

“Thanks.” I accepted the compliment and handed the parchment to Su. “Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

I went back to my seat and snatched my half-eaten piece of bread again. I relaxed in my chair and finished off the bread, closing my eyes and listening to the sound of Su and Hermione’s practice.

It was great to relax, to lose track of the time. I began to nod off.

“Oh!” Hermione said, bringing me back to the world of the living. “We’re supposed to meet with Harry, Ron and Tony.”

I groaned. I was just about to rest.

“Isn’t that in a few hours?” I said, blinking my eyes open.

“Adam, it’s been a few hours.” Hermione resisted the urge to palm her face, instead sending me a look of exasperated irritation. “Come on. Up you get!”

“What— hours?” I said. “I only just closed my eyes.”

Su only giggled. “You’ve been sleeping for a while, Adam. You snore, you know.”

Oh, great. I thought and muttered in low tones. “I snore even in this life?”

“What?”

“Nothing.” I got off of my chair and realized that, yes, I had indeed fallen asleep.

The stiffness I felt made all of that quite obvious. I began to stretch, working all of the kinks out.

“Ready.”

A few minutes later saw us exiting the Castle and walking onto the school grounds.

I pulled my scarf off and shoved it into one of my pockets, realizing that the weather was getting a little too warm for that.

“Aren’t you cold?” Hermione gave me a strange look. Beside her, Su nodded, shivering.

“Not really.” I said. “I’ve been working in worse weather for longer periods of time. I think I got used to it.”

The girls nodded, though I detected a flash of pity appearing on Hermione’s face for a moment.

I pretended not to see it, instead following the two girls to the Quidditch pitch, where Harry was likely finishing up his practice for the day.

I grimaced at the mere sight of this place. I wasn’t a fan of Quidditch. I found the sport to be uninteresting as a whole.

It was a shame it was the only one the school cared about. Volleyball, basketball, football, tennis— these sports were ignored by the majority of the student body, as well as the teachers.

Anti-Muggle sentiment was still strong here, despite all of the supposed progress that was being achieved.

My lip curled with disgust, but I managed to hide that expression before anyone was able to see it.

Of the few things in life that were able to get under my skin and make my blood boil, was hypocrisy.

The ‘good guys’, the Light side, whatever you wanted to call it, preached equality and the virtues of acceptance, but they still seemed to have a dim view of the Muggles and anything related to them.

The only one who ever seemed interested in the things they did had been Ron’s father, Arthur Weasley.

That man showed a genuine interest in the ins and outs of the non-magical population, however awkward his approach seemed to make others. That was, at least, somewhat respectable.

But, the others?

“There they are!” Su pointed ahead to where the Gryffindor Team was practicing.

I kept my eyes trained up to the sky as I continued to walk, watching as Harry worked through some seeker drills, maneuvering his broom like an expert.

I smiled at that. Doesn’t matter whether I think this sport is interesting or not. What I do think is that the kid knows how to fucking fly.

And so, I added the skill to my list of things to study, which was going to become as long as the peak of Mount Everest was high.

Learn to fly.

I smiled. That would be a doozy. But maybe if I…

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