June 10, 1992, 1:40 PM, Final Room, Hogwarts
Severus couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He’d known that the boy was odd and off-setting in the way that he dealt with the other students, as well as faculty, but he never would have expected this, of all things.
Learning what he just had… It didn’t compute, and more than that, it had come out of nowhere.
The boy just blurted his deepest secret out without much provocation.
He’s the one who killed the Auror, back then? Severus thought, incredulity seeping into his expression.
How would Clarke have made it to Diagon Alley, let alone— Severus half-remembered a conversation between himself and Hagrid concerning a Thestral familiar for the boy.
It’s certainly possible that he could have ridden the beast from the castle to Diagon Alley. Thestrals are smart creatures, and possessed of an excellent sense of direction. Severus mused. More than that, the boy had seemed exhausted during that time period, as well.
Everyone had dismissed the kid’s sickly, haggard appearance as the sign of the exhaustion he was likely feeling from all of that studying, but the pieces of the puzzle were starting to form a different picture altogether.
All of a sudden, many of Clarke’s strange behaviors were starting to make sense.
The unexpected hesitations— both subtle and overt— the long, thoughtful silences, the internal conflicts… Yes, Severus could see it now.
Adam had been hiding this secret, and who knows what else for months on end. That sort of thing weighed on a person, so it was no wonder that he always seemed off.
But still, to spill the beans in such an obvious way— perhaps Clarke wasn’t as smart as Severus gave him credit for?
No. There had to be something else at play, here.
Considering the familiarity with which Professor Quirrell and Clarke spoke, Severus supposed that it was likely the tension between the two that had driven Clarke this far.
Had Quirinus been controlling the lad, somehow?
If not with the Imperius Curse, perhaps through blackmail? Severus thought before nodding to himself mentally as he watched the two exchange words.
“Kill me?” Quirrell said, and Severus saw the cruel smile playing on his lips.
Severus’ own lip curled in disgust. He should have been the one who dealt the final blow to Quirrell. If only he’d been paying attention to the man’s snakes, he would have won.
How could he have predicted that Quirinus could speak to snakes of all things?
No. Severus shook the thought off. It hadn’t been Quirrell who had displayed this ability, no.
It was Voldemort.
He would never forget Voldemort’s cold voice, and Snape knew that he had heard it in this room.
Severus didn’t know where it was coming from exactly, but he knew that it belonged to the Dark Lord. Without a shadow of a doubt, he knew.
It was just like he remembered it.
Severus wished that he could still move. He did not want to entrust his fate to the child before him.
As talented as he was to be able to cast spells without vocalizing them, Severus did not think that Adam was capable of defeating Quirrell, even in the man’s current, weakened state.
He watched as Adam attacked Quirrell mid-phrase, but Quirinus merely side-stepped it before chastising his opponent and sighing.
“Very well. It seems you have chosen your side in this battle. On your head be it.” Quirrell said.
Clarke shook his head. “You’re misunderstanding the situation. I’m not choosing anyone’s side.”
“It’s very simple.” Clarke said, and Severus felt the boy release his hold over his anger. It was a roiling, choking feeling, seizing Severus in its grip for the few seconds Clarke allowed himself this leeway.
He had never felt such intense emotion from a child before.
“You thought you could control me, maybe try to mold me into a mirror image of yourself, perhaps? I guess we are similar in a few ways that you would think you could do such a thing.”
Severus’ breaths came out harsh as the two opponents exchanged their final words. He tried to gather himself as much as he could.
He knew that the paralytic aspect of the venom he’d been exposed to would be nullified with time, but he tried to force himself to move.
No good. He thought, hating on having to rely on a child to stay alive. Severus watched as the two wizards exchanged spells, launching the rubble from the previous duel at each other as the chamber lit with spellfire.
The boy was holding his own, and Severus knew that anyone below their Sixth Year of schooling stood no chance against him.
Even so, if this was the extent of his progress, then there was no way that Adam would be able to survive for long.
And there it is. He saw the boy fall backwards after he shielded against a jet of water. Clarke managed to roll out of the way of another spell before finally being caught in the final stage of Quirrell’s assault.
Severus tried hard to move, knowing that this was going to be the end if he didn’t—
Snape watched as a brilliant chain of silver erupted from Clarke’s wand, tearing through the jet of water and forcing Quirrell to dodge, lest he be skewered.
What the… Severus thought, his eyes focusing on the spell as Clarke stood up and re-cast it, this time around his arm.
Another chain wrapped around the boy’s limb, coalescing before his fist to form a buckler, of sorts.
It was incredible magic.
The fight before him intensified, and he saw the smile grazing Clarke’s face as his chains swirled and swung to collide with Quirrell’s barrage of spells, deflecting them harmlessly to the side.
Severus saw one spell in particular headed straight for his own head, but Adam’s chain moved to meet it, sending the attack up into the ceiling.
Snape breathed nice and slow, turning his gaze to the boy who’d saved his life once again in the last ten minutes, but it seemed as if Adam hadn’t even noticed, so busy he was fending his opponent off.
The Potions Professor hated feeling so helpless, but there was nothing he could do here.
He watched as Quirrell acclimated to this new spell and began to search for its weaknesses.
He watched Clarke begin to struggle against his teacher.
Still, the boy showed tenacity by forcing Quirrell to stop in his tracks.
“Enough.” Voldemort’s voice echoed in the chamber again, bringing a shiver down Severus’ spine. “You have played along with this child’s game for long enough, Quirinus. Kill him.”
“Of course, Master.”
And just like that, the tide of the battle turned, once again.
Severus felt each impact the powerful chains made with Quirrell’s overwhelming salvo of spells slow the boy down further and further.
The immobilized man now knew for sure just where the duel was headed.
Clarke, despite all of his power, ingenuity, talent and skill, would be dealt with within a few seconds, and he, Severus Snape, would be sharing his fate not long after.
Despite knowing this, Snape still gave a sharp inhale when he saw the Bone Breaking Curse collide with the boy’s foot. He still found himself awed and inspired as the boy continued to fight.
Even when Adam was half-blinded and thrown around like a cheap doll, he continued to fight and stand against his enemy.
That was until Quirrell pulled Clarke forward with an almost contemptuous cast of Incarcerous.
“And so it ends…” Severus could taste the disappointment within his enemy’s voice. “What a waste.”
Despite everything, Adam continued to struggle to move.
Severus was brought back to his days as a Death Eater, when he’d seen his former fellows slaughtering and torturing Muggles for fun.
He had watched those unfortunate, poor souls struggle. They had been full of spirit, and took every chance to escape or fight that they were given— not that it mattered, in the end.
No Muggle could effectively run from a wizard, after all. Still, it hadn’t stopped them from trying…
He’d even been forced to kill some of them.
Adam was displaying that same spirit, that selfsame instinct to survive at all costs, and Severus knew that the end was coming.
Snape frowned and tried to move again.
He couldn’t let Adam, a boy, be killed. That was what he was, in the end.
A child; no matter what he had done, he was not old enough to understand the true consequences of the actions he had taken, no matter how severe.
It’s not like I’m particularly innocent, either. He thought.
Severus did not wish to see the life leave Adam’s eyes, much like he’d seen with all of the victims he had not been able to save in the previous war.
Much like with her. Severus closed his eyes and focused his will. He could not be laid low here— not in this place, and certainly not with Voldemort so close by. Severus just needed to move, even if only just a little.
His hand twitched just as Quirrell spoke. “Very well, I will hear your final words, Mr. Clarke.”
Severus did his best to move his hand towards his wand, but it felt as if he were burdened, as if the entire Castle was wearing him down.
“The end is…” Clarke stopped and gave an alarmingly wet cough before he continued. “Only the beginning!”
Severus grasped his wand, and he saw something drop on Quirrell’s head, distracting him. Had a chunk of stone fallen from the ceiling?
Whatever it was, Snape supposed he didn’t care.
Now’s my chance! With all of his strength, Severus joined in Adam’s desperate struggle to survive, slashing his wand at Quirrell. Sectumsempra!
He watched his spell fly forward, lopping Quirinus’ wand hand off, just in time for Adam’s chain to fly true, piercing through Professor Quirrell’s forehead and ending his life in an instant.
Severus’ arm fell to his side and he sagged as he felt his entire body break out in a heavy sweat. He found himself panting for breath, but he was satisfied.
It’s finally over. He thought.
No sooner than he’d thought this, he heard a bone-chilling howl fill the chamber. Severus felt the shiver racing up his spine as he focused his tired eyes over Clarke, whose form was being enveloped by a thick vapor, black as night.
Quirrell’s corpse fell to the side, blood leaking out of his skull and forming a pool as he spasmed, his nerves firing out of the control of his now destroyed brain.
Adam twitched from within the cloud as it shrunk and entered through every pore of his skin.
Severus stared in shock at what he’d witnessed. Just what the blazes had he seen enter Clarke’s body?
It had come out of Quirrell’s body— Possession! Severus realized.
So that’s how Voldemort had been hiding this entire time. They had thought that the man was outside of the castle, biding his time as his minion did his bidding. In reality, Voldemort had been under their noses, this whole time!
Adam Clarke fell down to his side, writhing with an erratic and unnatural tempo. A few moments later, he stilled.
Severus kept his eye on the boy, twitching his hand in preparation for whatever he was about to face.
Feeling was returning to his limbs at a slow, but sure pace— far faster than he had any right to ask for, but Severus feared that, if the boy was successfully possessed by Voldemort, this wouldn’t be enough.
His fear came true a second later, when Clarke got back to his feet as if his leg wasn’t even broken. Adam opened his eyes, and Severus would have flinched if he could move.
The eyes that gazed upon him were red as blood. He could not see Adam anywhere, in there.
Voldemort had crushed the child, after all.
It’s over. Severus thought. I’ve failed.
“Severus…” Voldemort spoke in the child’s voice. “Why have you betrayed me?”
Snape’s mind whirred at a frantic pace, trying to figure out a way out of this situation.
“Have the old fool’s words finally turned you away from me?” Voldemort said, waving his wand. A moment later, he took a step forward. His leg had been restored.
Fully healed within a split second. Snape grit his teeth, cursing his bad fortune once again.
Voldemort gazed at his handiwork and smiled. “This way this magic flows so smoothly… Very impressive. This child’s potential is indeed staggering. Quirinus, the fool, was right about this one thing; it is indeed a waste to end this one’s life. The things he could have done— the things I could have taught him…”
Severus could only glare at the man he hated above almost anyone else, even James Potter.
“Oh, but where are my manners?” Adam’s face gave a pleasant smile as his possessed body walked towards Severus, staring down at him. “I await your answer, Severus. Why have you betrayed me? You, who have been loyal to me from the beginning? I understood your reticence in helping Quirinus with his assigned task, for you needed to keep yourself away from Dumbledore’s ever suspicious gaze, but I am before you now, my old friend. What say you?”
“I…” Severus said, still feeling weak from the prior exertion he’d subjected himself to. There was no way he’d be able to move in time, and even if he had, what could he do?
Severus cursed his weakness for the thousandth time that day.
“Still unable to move with any useful purpose, eh?” Voldemort watched Severus’ futile struggle with delight, the smile shifting into one of malice and twisting Adam’s face into a horrifying rictus. “I suppose my former servant did not hold back with his little Transfigurations. Now, you will tell me how to acquire the Stone.”
Severus could only glare in response, feeling Voldemort’s presence probing his mind’s defenses before withdrawing.
“I see that you have kept up your skills with Occlumency.” Voldemort said, pressing Adam’s wand against Severus’ forehead. “A little pain should loosen those admirable protections you have wrought around yourself. Cruci—”
Snape prepared himself for the agony which he had not felt for over a decade, but the pain never came.
Voldemort stood there, his mouth frozen in the last syllable of his spell.
His red eyes flew around with wild abandon, trying to locate something only they could see.
What was going on?
Severus stared at his hated foe with uncomprehending eyes. Had the Dark Lord finally lost his mind?
“Clarke.” Voldemort said, calming himself and staring down at the hand clenched around the ebony wand. “Even now, you continue to surprise me. I thought I had crushed your spirit, but you continue to resist, even if you are not aware of it. An admirable spirit, for one so young; but spirit alone is not enough to stop—”
Voldemort froze again, before reeling back, as if slapped.
“What—” He staggered backwards for a few steps before falling on his backside. Voldemort did not react to the fall, grabbing both sides of his head. “This is not… Clarke. What is this? This— outside…”
Severus swallowed and forced himself to move. This was going to be his one and only chance to kill Voldemort, once and for all.
He was not going to waste it, no matter the cost.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Clarke.” Severus muttered and slashed his wand at his enemy. “Sectumsempra!”
No matter the cost.
The bright blade burst forth, set to decapitate the boy and end his life in one swift stroke, but Voldemort’s eyes flashed and he deflected the spell mere instants before the blade was able to connect.
The Dark Cutting Curse flew to the side, tearing through Quirrell’s midsection before gouging into the earth and sending entrails and shards of stone flying every which way.
“A valiant effort, Snape.” Voldemort said, one hand on his head and the other pointed at the man as the rain of stone and viscera began to die down. “But I have run out of patience. Between your interference and whatever it is that is assaulting my mind— I have had enough.”
Severus stared down at his foe with hatred and not a small amount of fear.
A tidal wave of agony swept the man away, and Snape heard the sound of screaming. Moments later, he recognized them as his own.
Control yourself. Control yourself. Severus repeated to himself within his own mind even as he felt thousands of knives stabbing him in every crevice of his body. He can’t kill you, and he can’t torture you into insanity as long as he thinks that you know the secret to the mirror.
Severus could take the pain, for he was strong. At that moment, however, he found that he didn’t feel particularly strong.
The pain intensified, forcing him to move despite the paralysis, which was exhausting his worn out body even further than it already had been.
After an indeterminate amount of time, the torture subsided, and Severus found himself staring up at the ceiling. Voldemort loomed over the man, his wand pointed at the man’s forehead, once again.
“Dumbledore is not coming to save you, my friend.” Voldemort smiled his horrible smile, but Severus stared up ahead towards the ceiling, unwilling to even acknowledge his foe’s existence.
“This is your one and final chance, Severus.” Voldemort said, the smile disappearing as if it had never been there to begin with. “Answer my question, and your death will be swift: how do I acquire the Stone?”
Severus did not answer.
“Very well.” Voldemort said, nodding to himself as if he’d expected this. “Another few rounds, then.”
Severus readied himself for the oncoming torture. The first Cruciatus was always the weakest one— a taste of things to come. He did not know how much of it he could withstand, but he knew that he’d eventually break from such strain.
He would end up like Longbottom’s parents—
“Expelliarmus!” A boy cried out from the top of the stairs, and Voldemort found himself deflecting the magic, sending it crashing into the wall beside the Mirror of Erised.
Who… Snape turned his gaze to see a sight he had not expected.
It was Harry Potter.
Potter. Snape stared in bewilderment at the First Year child. He looked like he was barely moving, but he’d made it here?
“Harry Potter.” Voldemort said, his eyes widening with surprise and no small amount of annoyance. “You finally grace us all with your presence.”
“Adam…” Harry kept his wand trained at Voldemort. “What are you doing?”
“Potter.” Snape spat, and he saw the First Year Gryffindor turn his head to him. “That’s not… Adam. It’s… Him!”
“What?” Harry said, confused. “What do you mean?”
Oh, for the love of… Snape thought. If he could throttle the foolish child, he would have.
“I see.” A voice came from behind Potter, and Severus ripped his gaze from the boy to see a short man.
It was Professor Flitwick. If he could have still moved, Severus would have cried with relief.
The cavalry was here. Perhaps, all was not lost, after all.
Time and Place: Unknown
Consciousness came to me in small, light bursts; a sound here, a flash of light there. I tried to open my eyes, but I found that I couldn’t.
I tried to recall the last thing I had done, but my brain refused to comply, instead drawing me down into a tumultuous storm of general confusion.
Alarm and worry began its slow spread through my body. What was going on? I couldn’t move, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t remember what it was that I was doing.
An instant later, the fear subsided, and I found that I was able to move again.
How strange. I thought, but got no reply. I could not feel or hear Alef Ard and his expressive buzz, nor could I feel Absol’s presence in the far distance.
Things were becoming weirder and weirder with every passing moment. I would have even welcomed the sly voice’s presence at that point, and I hated that creature.
I focused on the sound of my breaths to calm myself down, before I finally opened my eyes, seeing the inky black sky above. A massive, strange, purple mockery of the Aurora Borealis swirled up ahead, snaking its way in the sky and drawing my attention to my surroundings.
It hadn’t just been the sky— I was surrounded by the blackness from all sides and saw more instances of the same purple aurora from above. My eyes fell down to the bright gray stone square I stood on. It was the only solid thing in this eerie place.
As if summoned by my realization, chunks of stone began to appear out of the aether, fusing with the square I stood on and forming a path for me to tread.
I blinked and took the first step, watching with amazement as more chunks of stone continued to appear before me, extending the path for me.
Where am I?