June 10, 1992, 11:45 AM, Great Hall, Hogwarts
As soon as Dumbledore Disapparated from the castle grounds, I knew that all Hell was about to break loose.
It started with the whispers which broke out just as expected.
There was no need for me to listen to their nonsense drabbles; Dumbledore was most likely called upon to deal with Grindelwald. Everyone with half of a working brain gleaned that much from reading the news and getting the general feel of how the mainland was doing.
This meant that the Headmaster would indeed be away for an extended period of time— if he managed to come back at all. Grindelwald’s new capabilities had taken me off guard.
The sort of power required to absolutely annihilate Castle Nurmengard and leave nothing but a glassed crater— that’s not something to be scoffed at. I allowed myself the luxury of a few seconds of thought. I have to work on the assumption that Dumbledore isn’t coming back, and that Quirrell is going to make his move right now. That’s when I would do it.
McGonagall, of course, did her best to address the situation before the rumor mill got going. “Students, Professor Dumbledore has been called on by an international authority for aid, and so, I will be assuming control of the school as Acting Headmis—”
And that’s when it happened; a bright flash of light erupted in front of the teacher’s table, blinding us all.
Holy sh— was as far as my thoughts went when I felt a wave of concussive force slam into me with the power of a hefty kick, almost knocking me off of my seat. I held onto the wood with all of my limited strength, hooking my foot into the bottom of the table.
I sagged forward, exhaling as the exertion left me feeling winded and strained.
Moments later, I dared to open my eyes and saw the chaos among the students. It was complete bedlam. No one seemed hurt, but they were crying, shouting, and panicking.
I knew it; a distraction. I thought before focusing my senses on where Quirrell was supposed to be.
I felt my heart sink. Quirrell was no longer there. He was making his move, and likely expected me to report to him as soon as possible.
Oh, I’ll ‘report’ to him, all right. I thought with vicious intent. I had made a promise to make him wish he’d killed me when he had the chance, after all.
It would be a shame to break it. I felt someone press a hand on my shoulder and turned to see Tony.
“Are you all right?” He said as the three of us half-listened to what McGonagall was saying.
“I’m fine.” I said.
The Prefects started to get all of the students up, and I frowned, noticing something strange about the situation.
Where was Mira? I began looking through the throng of older students, but I found no sign of her.
Come to think of it, Ophelia isn’t here, either. I noted as Tony got my attention again.
“Are you sure?” He said, even as we pushed off of the table and began the slow march to Ravenclaw tower, the Prefects leading the way.
“I’m just thinking.” I said by way of explanation. Ophelia wasn’t there either. I know that Quirrell has been amassing a squadron of students, but he even managed to get to Mira? Then again, I suppose… If he got Ophelia to lure her in— yeah, nevermind.
It didn’t bode well, and more than that, it didn’t make much sense to me.
This sort of thing wasn’t outside the realm of possibility for Voldemort, but I knew that he generally had a dim view of wizards and witches who were under the age of seventeen.
That he would recruit them was surprising to me. Maybe Quirrell had a more noticeable effect on Voldemort’s psyche than initially anticipated.
If he can affect his boss’ M.O. so much, maybe he isn’t as far gone as one would expect? I thought before shaking my head. It matters little.
He was going down no matter what. At the end of the day, only one of us would remain. My mind made up, I broke off from the main Ravenclaw group.
“Adam!” Both Su and Tony said, following me and ignoring the cries of the Ravenclaw Prefects.
Damn it, damn it! Why are they following me? I thought as I hurried through the halls, Tony and Su right behind me. “Go back. Now.”
“And let you fight Snape all on your own?” Tony cut ahead of me, stopping me in my path. “I don’t think so.”
“Tony’s right, Adam.” Su joined him, sending me a displeased frown. “We can’t let you go alone.”
I shook my head, not feeling my usual patience. “You don’t know what you’re saying— you don’t even know what we’re up against.”
“I get that Snape is a fully-fledged wizard.” Tony said. “But how good can he really be?”
“It’s not just Snape that’s the issue.” I said, shaking my head, unwilling to drop the Quirrell truth bomb onto them just yet. “I’m not sure if you noticed, but there are other people missing. Prefects, some of the Sixth and Seventh Years— maybe even the Head Boy. I didn’t have enough time to check before we were carted off.”
“What are you saying, Adam?”
“I’m saying that we will basically be fighting an entire platoon of wizards and witches.” I said. “I don’t want you two anywhere near that.”
Tony glared, and I could tell that this one was for real. He didn’t often get mad, but it seemed like today was going to be one of those times.
“You think we can’t handle ourselves?” He said. “Is that it?”
But the anger of a child was not something that phased me. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. You two have learned a lot this year, but you know how to use spells— not how to fight with them.”
“And you do?” Tony took a step forward, getting in my face. “When did you achieve this fighting mastery?”
I kept my gaze neutral as I met his own, backing away and drawing my wand.
“What’re you…” He stared at me with uncomprehending, shocked eyes.
“Adam?” Su said, her expression turning distressed. “What are you doing?”
“You think you can fight?” I said, eyes flashing with something that made the both of them flinch. “Show me.”
“Adam…” Tony said, trying to talk, but I cut him off.
“Draw!” I barked out, making the two jump in place. “You think I’m playing games with you? Draw in the next three seconds, or I’ll knock you both flat! Three!”
“Two!” My eyes narrowed as I immersed myself in my fighting spirit.
“Fine!” Tony drew his wand and aimed it at me. “Expelliarmus!”
I took a step to the left, the jet of scarlet light flying by me and crashing against one of the windows, sending shards of glass flying everywhere. He cast another, and another, but they came nowhere close to hitting me.
His aim isn’t bad, but he is aiming where I am, not where I’ll be. I thought, critiquing his form. And he’s standing in place, making him vulnerable to any retaliation, such as…
I snapped my wand at him. Langlock.
“Expel—” The boy’s wand stuck to the roof of his mouth.
I shook my head when the boy gave me a furious look. “You telegraph your moves and you stand still for too long. That makes you easy pickings. I could have cut off an arm or a leg. I could have pierced your skull. I could have summoned those glass shards behind us to tear you apart.”
The two went pale as I listed the various ways I could have won the fight.
“Do you understand now?” I undid the spell on him and turned to fix the glass window behind me.
“Expelliarmus!” He and Su cried at once, and I leapt to the left, narrowly avoiding their spell as I smacked into the wall. I turned to them with real anger in my eyes, but the two held their ground, daring me to do anything.
The nerves on these little fuckers. I thought, a strange sense of annoyance and pride coming over me and washing away some of the anger. I began to laugh, making the two stop whatever spells they were about to cast.
“Fine.” I said, waving my wand and fixing the window with a quick. “Reparo!”
“You can come with me.” I said, surprising the both of them as I joined them. “You attacked me from behind. Maybe you do understand something.”
“You’re letting us come with you for… taking a cheap shot at you?” Tony said, bewildered even as I passed through the middle of them.
“Fighting is about getting the win at all costs, no matter how cheap this victory might turn out to be. I’m not here to play around and I don’t want you to duel people; I want you to fight.” I said and resumed my trip. I turned, seeing them standing still and staring at my back. “Well, are you coming or what!?”
The two followed. With any luck, they won’t die.
Alef Ard buzzed in my mind, sending encouragement and confidence through our mental link.
Alef. I thought. Don’t let Helena come help. I don’t want Voldemort seeing her with me. That’s one secret he doesn’t need to know about.
I got a few buzzes in confusion from the spirit of Hogwarts, but he acquiesced without much of a fight. He probably knew Tom Riddle better than almost anyone in the universe, considering a small part of the student was absorbed by the school’s spirit at some point or the other.
Not to mention the Horcrux in the Room of Hidden Things. I thought. Alef has likely, at the very least, given the damn thing a look or two.
“You hear that?” Su said as we ascended the stairs to the Third Floor.
I blinked and stepped off of the staircase and focused. Alef stopped all of the staircases for me, drawing sounds of confusion from Tony and Su, but I was able to hear it.
“No.” I said, pointing directly ahead at the closed door of the forbidden corridor. “Something’s going on in there.”
My steps were swift, but silent as I approached the door and listened in. Raised voices, various sounds of impact.
“There are people fighting in there.” I said, closing my eyes for a moment. I tried to think of a viable entry plan, but I couldn’t come up with anything better than ‘go in and fight’.
It’s a goddamn chokepoint. I thought. The minute we go in, they’ll all aim at us.
No. The sly voice disagreed. They’re busy fighting someone in there. Are they fighting Snape?
“Let’s go.” Tony said, but I stopped him before he could take a single step forward. “Hey, what are you doing?”
I gave him an incredulous look and poked the side of his head. “Think! We’re all Ravenclaws, aren’t we?”
“We need a plan.” Su said, agreeing with me.
“Fine.” Tony huffed to ease his agitation and nodded. “What’s the plan, then?”
“Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do…” I said and relayed the plan.
When I was done, I saw that the two did not seem pleased with their roles, but I didn’t care. They would either accept, or I would knock them out, here and now.
“Let me know when you’re ready.”
“Ready.” Both Tony and Su said.
“Let’s go, then.” I leveled my wand at the door.
A Few Minutes Earlier, Outside The Forbidden Third Floor Corridor…
“We made it.” Ron breathed out, somewhat tired after their sprint here.
“Maybe not yet.” Harry said, staring into the open doorway, which revealed something peculiar.
“What’s going on?” Hermione said, looking confused at the sight.
Harry shook his head and gulped, for inside the Third Floor Corridor, he watched as Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape exchanged spells with no less than nine other wizards and witches. Harry recognized one as the Gryffindor Prefect, and the others also seemed vaguely familiar.
“The missing Prefects!” Hermione caught on as well.
“Percy did say that one was missing.” Harry said, trying to make sense of what was going on.
“That’s a bit more than one, mate.” Ron said, gulping. “And there’s Snape— McGonagall, too? Are they both going for the Stone?”
Harry shook his head. “It can’t be. He must have tricked her.”
“And what are they doing?” Hermione pointed towards the assorted Fifth to Seventh Years exchanging spellfire with the two Professors and filling up the Third Floor Corridor with flashes of multicolor light.
“I don’t know.” Harry said, shaking his head in confusion. “Maybe he tricked them, too.”
He no longer felt confident about what was going on. Many thoughts went through his head at that moment. Maybe Snape wasn’t one of the bad guys? Were the students the ones truly after the Stone?
If Harry and his friends were able to figure the secret out, then others could conceivably do it, too.
“Harry.” Hermione pointed with a gasp, and Harry saw Minerva fall from a spell he didn’t recognize.
He felt the fear churning his stomach and gritted his teeth. Whether Snape had tricked everyone, whether the students were in on the scheme or whether they had a scheme of their own— Harry decided that it didn’t matter.
He had to stop this— whatever this was.
“Let’s go.” He said, diving headlong into the danger. “Expelliarmus!”
The scarlet jet of light flew in there and sent one of the Seventh Years flying into a few of his friends, knocking them all down on the ground.
“Severus!” Professor McGonagall said as Snape helped her up before he stared the three First Years down.
“What are you doing here?” Snape said, glaring at them. “Leave, immediately! This is no place for children.”
“We know about the Stone!” Harry said.
Snape stared into Harry’s eyes for a moment before scoffing and turning his wand against the Seventh Years. He managed to take two more down before the rest were able to put up a strong enough shield to stop his advance.
“Severus…!” Minerva said, getting the man’s attention for a moment. She pointed to the opening ahead and gave him a significant glance.
“Are you sure?”
And with that, Snape rushed past the group of enemies, ahead towards the room with the trap door.
“Snape!” Harry cried out, beginning to chase, but the group of older students closed their ranks, stopping his passage as they began to launch spells both theirs and Professor McGonagall’s way.
“Harry!” Hermione rushed towards McGonagall to help her in the fighting.
“We can’t let him go!” Harry cried in anger, but realized he couldn’t do a thing to get past them.
“Tarantallegra!” Ron cast a spell and managed to make one of the Fifth Years dance in place.
“Professor, are you all right?” Hermione asked, just as Professor McGonagall snapped her wand and transfigured a bit of the shrapnel left from the fighting into a large flock of birds. With another wave, the birds attacked the older students, harrying them and buying everyone a little bit of time.
“I am fine.” McGonagall said, though she kept a firm hand at her midsection, over her ribs. “You three need to leave.”
“We can’t leave you here!” Hermione cried in distress. “You’re hurt!”
“It will be alright, Miss Granger.” Professor McGonagall reassured the girl, though the dark spot of blood soaking her robe told her another story. “The wound is not very deep.”
She’s lying. Harry realized, forgetting about Snape in favor of the crisis unfolding. He sent another Disarming Charm before being forced to leap to the left, avoiding a curse which made the wall beside him explode, sending bits of shrapnel everywhere.
“Harry!” Ron cried and opened his mouth to cast a spell when a jet of scarlet light hit him, sending his wand flying away towards the exit. It was then that he realized that the door was already closed.
Had they locked it shut without him noticing?
“Incendio!” Hermione pointed her wand at the group, intent on setting them on fire, but one of the students was already prepared, dousing the lot of them in water and causing the room to fill with steam.
Still, their enemies continued to fling curse after curse through the resulting smokescreen, hoping to knock them out of the fighting.
Harry went horizontal, a sickly yellow curse washing over him. He started to crawl forward, towards McGonagall who was barely able to defend herself with the help of Hermione.
He sent a few Disarming Charms as he hurried his pace, feeling his skin tearing against the cold, stone floor of the castle. Harry ignored the pain and rolled to his left, a curse splashing against the spot where he had just been.
A few moments later, he had joined the group. The steam had pretty much dissipated by this point. Harry’s heart sank. Out of the nine initial students fighting them, only six stood— with two of the downed ones having been because of Snape.
All of this effort just to take down one person? Harry thought, the hopelessness of the situation beginning to dawn on him.
And then the unthinkable happened; Professor McGonagall fell again, unable to stand any longer.
“Professor!” Ron said, unable to do anything but hamper her fall so she didn’t hurt herself any more than she already had during the course of the impromptu fight. “Harry!”
“I know!” He said, getting to his feet as Hermione started casting faster and faster. “Take the Professor and go!”
They needed to get help, and fast. Maybe Professor Flitwick. He could help.
“I can’t just leave you—” Ron said but was interrupted by the same yellow, sickly spell striking Hermione, filling the air with the sound of a sickening snap.
Hermione wavered for a moment, and then she screamed.
Harry saw red. He flung Disarming Charm after Disarming Charm, lost in his anger and rage; to his astonishment, he sent two of their wands flying to him.
Emboldened, he moved to cast another spell, but felt something clip his right shoulder, sending a spike of agony rushing through his entire being.
Harry opened his eyes to see the same spell which had hit Hermione about to strike him in the head. He tried to move, but found that he couldn’t.
Is this how it ends?
Before his thought even finished, he saw a tall wall of translucent silver absorbing the enemy spells with ease.
“Look!” Ron said, pointing to the now-open exit. Harry turned his gaze there to see—
“I see I got here in time.” Adam said, his eyes shining with a little silver as they narrowed in anger. “Are you all right?”
Harry could have cried from the relief.