June 20, 1992, 8:30 AM, Hogsmeade Station
Tony, Su and Adam stepped off of the carriage, and Su deftly moved her right foot a little to the left, avoiding a small hole in the dirt road. She kept her eyes on the ground for a few moments until she found a decent enough footing, before hurrying towards her stored luggage.
She saw Tony floating his own trunk instead of letting Adam do it for them, and shrugged to herself, deciding to do the same thing. Can’t rely on Adam forever.
With a wave of her wand, she watched as her luggage floated up into the air. She focused, holding her wand up as she moved forward, keeping the trunk flying above her.
“Not bad, you two.” Adam made sure to say as they walked past the gates, into the station proper. “Not bad at all.”
Su frowned, part of her feeling like she was being patronized by her friend, and who could blame her?
She threw a glance to the trunk floating behind Adam with absolutely no issue, and her frown deepened. Adam wasn’t even focusing, and the magic was doing exactly what he wanted.
It was still a little crazy to her.
Even though Su had seen him make incredible strides with his spellcasting, it never ceased to amaze her just how well he could grasp the underlying concepts and make every spell his own.
She wished she had even a sliver of the boy’s talent. With only that small bit, she knew she could do great things. Su threw another glance, this time towards Tony suffering through making his own trunk follow him.
Maybe she shouldn’t have been feeling this way, but knowing that one of her friends was having the same difficulty that she did made her feel better.
“‘Not bad’, he says.” Tony said, rolling his eyes and sending the girl a smile. “While his own trunk floats behind him with no issue.”
“Oh.” Adam said, as if realizing what he just did. “I’m sorry, guys. I didn’t mean—”
“It’s fine.” Su said while Tony rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, don’t worry about it.” Tony said. “You just sometimes don’t realize what you sound like, even though we know you don’t mean anything by it.”
Adam gave a nervous laugh and scratched the back of his head, a small blush creeping up his cheeks. “Ah… Yeah, I guess so.”
Su smiled at the gesture, glad for the reminder that the boy was still as human as anyone else, though the smile dimmed a little at the sight of his white eye.
Even before she had properly been acquainted with the boy, he had always seemed strange, withdrawn. He was prone to bouts of brooding, and she assumed that the boy was just the moody sort.
She would have been lying if she hadn’t found him… interesting. Adam was a quiet, talented boy who was cute. She grimaced at such thoughts, now finding them to be unbearably juvenile.
I was being such a silly girl. She thought to herself. He would never look at me like that, not in a million years.
At first, it hurt to be around the boy. She wanted nothing more than to run away and hide forever. The heartbreak had been that intense.
It was close to Christmas that she had made the realization that everything would be all right.
Su had written to her mother then, feeling so confused and lost. Her mother’s answer had been fairly simple, but enlightening.
‘You have to grieve the lost opportunity, love. But, from what you’ve told me, this boy— Adam— he is a good friend to you, yes? Friendship is a rare thing, you know; like jade.’ Her mother had written back. ‘You should always cherish it. Move away from this negativity, because it won’t do anything but make you feel bad. You two are still friends, and from the sound of it, you seem to like being around him. So just be friends, and enjoy yourself.’
The advice had been exceedingly simple, so obvious that she should have thought of it, but she hadn’t. Su figured it was one of those ‘life lessons’ that people always seemed to talk about.
Maybe the most obvious answer is the correct one. She thought. More often than not, that seems to be the case.
“Oh!” Adam said, bringing Su out of her thoughts as he pointed towards the left. Su turned her eyes, seeing Hagrid speaking to Harry. “I’m going to say bye to Hagrid; I’ll catch up with you two, okay?”
And then he broke off from them, before they even had the chance to talk.
“Sur…” Tony trailed off, blinking at his friend’s unexpected departure. “Oh. He’s already gone.”
Su nodded, sighing to herself.
“He’s the same as ever.” Tony murmured in a low tone of voice, but Su managed to catch them.
Su’s mind shifted to the boy’s new appearance. Seeing his white eye and disfigured arm never ceased to make her feel a deep sadness for her friend. She knew that, if even she felt a little queasy at seeing the injuries, that the boy would have a terrible time with everyone around him from now on.
It wasn’t his fault; seeing that sort of thing put people on edge. She remembered the meeting with the aurors. That one man in the back— the one with the strange, spinning, false eye, and the peg leg— frightened her.
He looked more like a scarred and chipped bit of rock than a person. She’d later learned that his name was Alastor Moody, one of the wizards who fought the hardest against You-Know-Who and his followers.
Seems that everyone who goes up against that horrible man ends up getting hurt, or worse. Su thought, an intense sensation of worry gripping her heart tightly as she sent a look at Adam’s back. What happened the next time Adam tangled with that monster?
Would he lose a limb, next time? Would he be completely blinded? Worse burns? Crush his spine and become paralyzed?
She banished such thoughts away and steeled her voice. “Come on, Tony. Let’s find a place to sit before they’re all taken.”
She would do better. Whatever Adam faces next, he will not be alone.
Hermione saw me coming ages before the others did, but held her tongue, pretending to look at something else, instead.
No. I don’t want to deal with this right now. I thought.
“Hagrid!” I called out to the big man beside the small group.
Hermione finally moved her gaze back towards me, as well as the trunk floating behind me. She sent a frown my way, and I wondered just what was going on in the girl’s mind.
I knew I’d done something to rankle her in a big way, but it was hard to figure out with her doing her best to give me the silent treatment.
Still, I pushed such thoughts away and proceeded to exchange greetings with the large man standing beside Harry.
“Adam!” Hagrid called back. “I’ve been lookin’ for yeh.”
“You have?” I turned wide, mismatched eyes up to Hagrid, who laughed in reply.
“Yeh.” Hagrid said, nodding. “Do you have a moment?”
“Of course.” I graced the man with a smile. “Always have time for you, Hagrid.”
“Awright then.” Hagrid said, turning to the others. He gave Harry a pat on the back that nearly bowled him over, almost dropping the new album he was given. “Enjoy yer summer, ‘Arry! That goes for you two, as well!”
“Thank you, Hagrid.” Hermione said, ignoring my gaze as best she could before she turned and left. “See you next year!”
“What she said.” Ron said, grinning as he and Hermione turned to make their way inside the train.
“Bye Hagrid!” Harry added before he also joined them.
“I’ll miss ‘em.” Hagrid said.
“I will, too.” I said, before blinking. “Well, not Harry. I’ll likely be seeing him in a few weeks. And, Hermione… Uh…”
“Yeh think she doesn’t want ter be yer friend anymore.” Hagrid said. “Eh?”
The man had keen insight, and it never ceased to surprise me.
I sighed, nodding. “Right in one, Hagrid.”
The man exhaled and pressed his lips together for a few moments before letting out a sizable exhale. “Don’t judge her too harshly, kid.”
“Oh.” I said, shaking my head. “I’m not. I know why she’s like this— or, at least, I think I do.”
“And why.” He said, scratching his beard. “Do you think she’s bein’ short with yeh?”
“I kept an important secret from the group.” I said, sending a look to him. “I knew about the Philosopher’s Stone the moment they mentioned Flamel’s name to me.”
Hagrid’s cheeks colored into a rosy hue. “That’d be my mistake. They heard me say it.”
“I know.” I said, nodding. “They told me— you picked the Stone up from Gringotts and brought it to the Castle, yes? The same day the robbery attempt happened, in fact.”
Hagrid opened his mouth to answer, but I shook my head. “There’s no need to confirm or deny, Hagrid. But, like I said, I know why she’s upset with me.”
Hagrid sighed. “Yeh broke her trust.”
“Yes.” I said. “And I probably would again.”
“Yeh don’t think she had a good point?” Hagrid gave me a look of slight disapproval.
I opened my mouth and closed it, considering the man’s words.
“Maybe.” I said, looking down for a few seconds before shaking my head and pulling my sleeve down, revealing the burn scars. “Or maybe not. This is what happened to me when I was far better informed than they were— and far more competent.”
“Adam…” Hagrid trailed off but I didn’t let him continue.
“They’re— at best—” I stopped to quickly gather my thoughts before speaking again. “At a Second Year level in terms of dueling. They barely did a thing against the older kids. Harry managed to stop a few because he was just able to overpower them. When he fought someone far above his level, he got put under the Cruciatus. If the rest had followed him out of some misguided sense of duty, who knows how much worse it could have gone? They weren’t ready. Aren’t ready.”
“Yeh’re right.” Hagrid said.
“And more than that—” I stopped again, eyes widening at his words. “What?”
“Yeh’re right, Adam.” He said again, nodding with a look of sadness in his eyes. “They aren’t ready. Not yet.”
I swallowed and licked my lips, the nervous energy still roiling within me. “Thanks.”
“Yeh aren’t really ready, either.” Hagrid said. “True, yeh’ve learned a lot in a single year— done things I never could’ve imagined. Yeh act much older than your age, much older. But look at what happened to yeh, anyway.”
I closed my eyes and took a breath before opening them again. “Yeah. You’re right… I don’t know if I was right or wrong about keeping this from them.”
Hagrid didn’t answer.
“I know you’ve told me to stay the course.” I continued, frowning as I did my best to hold back my feelings. “And I’ve done that. ‘No more running’, I tell myself; but, while I’m not running from my problems, what am I running towards? What’s the right path that I have to stay on?”
The man’s eyes were wide as he took in my honest plea. I supposed he hadn’t expected me to come out and say things like that.
Hagrid shook his head. “I can’t decide that for yeh, kid. I wish I could; life would be much easier if the old could teach the young like tha’.”
“That’s how others have tried.” I said, referring to Quirrell and people in my previous life. “They try to impose their paths onto mine— like Hermione. I know why she’s angry, but I don’t want to change my behavior just to suit her needs, not when her life could be at stake.”
Silence at my words, and then…
“Compromise.” Hagrid said. “Yeh said they aren’t ready, right?”
I looked down, absorbing his words. “You’re saying I should teach them how to fight, so that I can feel comfortable sharing information with them?”
“That mind of yours, always so quick and sharp.” Hagrid said as he tilted his head from left to right. “Couldn’t hurt. A child who doesn’t understand how hot a fire is will get burned, sooner or lat’r.”
I tsk-ed at the thought. “And if they can understand just how far ahead I am from them— and how far ahead Quirrell was from me…”
“That’s the idea.” Hagrid said, smiling with pride.
“And you think she’ll accept this compromise?” I said, sounding dubious.
Hagrid laughed at that. “Yeh’re smart, Adam. Very smart.”
“But.” Hagrid said with a serious look. “Yeh’ve got a lot of learn, still, when it comes ter dealin’ with people. Hermione Granger is a reasonable one. She’ll listen to yeh if you’ve got somethin’ reasonable to say.”
I opened my mouth to answer, only to realize that he was absolutely correct.
“If you said that to anyone else, they’d probably be insulted.” I said, smiling. “I’ll trust your wisdom on this, then, old man.”
“‘Old man’, he says.” Hagrid said, shaking his head. “I’ve still got plenty of time before anyone can call me tha’.”
“Heh.” I laughed before my eyes widened a little. “Oh. What did you want to talk about?”
“Oh, nothin’ urgent.” Hagrid said, waving it off as the train began to make its call outs for people to finish boarding. “Jes’ that I’ll be takin’ care of Absol while yeh’re out o’ Hogwarts.”
“Oh.” I said, smiling. “Thank you, Hagrid. I figured you would, since I’d have nowhere to put her or the money to get her.”
“I’m sure Sirius could pay for her if yeh asked.”
“He could.” I said, acknowledging the point. “But maybe I should wait until I know the guy a little better before asking him for money— feels weird to ask him for that as soon as I see the guy.”
“Aye.” Hagrid said. “That’d be awkward.”
“What about— erm… Norbert?” I said.
“Aye, no need to worry ‘bout tha’.” Hagrid said and continued before I could open my mouth. “Dumbledore said he’d let me take care of it, for now.”
I frowned, not understanding the logic. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to get the dragon away from Hogwarts.
Then again. I thought with a hint of childish glee. Having a dragon on premises would be badass.
“Last call to board!” The conductor’s voice interrupted whatever I was going to say.
“Right.” I said, extending a hand. “Thank you, Hagrid. For all the help.”
The massive man dwarfed my hand with his own, grasping it gently. “‘Course. Same goes to you, kid. I’ll see you next year.”
“Yeah.” I swallowed the small lump in my throat and nodded, not trusting myself to speak any further. “See ya later.”
I turned and walked away, towards where I last saw Tony and Su entering the train. I went atop the small two-step ladder leading to the inside of the train before stopping and looking back.
My eyes swept over the area, taking in the Station, as well as Hagrid. He gave me a wave, and so I replied in kind, watching him turn and leave. My eyes moved upwards to the massive castle standing tall and proud in the far distance.
I stared at it for a long moment, going through past events in the blink of an eye.
“I will be back.” I murmured, lowering my head for a moment before giving the castle one last look and going in the train.
Moon’s Rest, Great Hall, Same Time…
It had been ten days since their grand victory, but the air at Moon’s Rest was still abundant with cheer and jubilation, Matthias thought as he made his way to the Great Hall, seeing his new comrades give him nods of respect as he passed them by.
Matthias felt pride well up in his chest at the gesture. He, the once lowliest of guards of Nurmengard— a job given to those the Austrian Ministry wanted to exile— had been the one to make all of this happen.
Look at me now, Asher. Matthias thought, his lips curling with anger at the thought of his former superior. Not so lowly now, am I?
He could not wait until he saw the man’s face, next they met. He didn’t know exactly when this would happen, but his companion, Gellert, told him that it would happen sometime, this summer.
With the mass escape of prisoners from Remords De L’Âme, and their unexpected victory over Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, and Gellert’s main rival, Matthias knew it was only a matter of time before their influence would overtake the Austrian Ministry.
Matthias smiled as he sat down on the table, nodding towards the new recruits.
“Mr. Auer.” One of the girls, a brunette by the name of Eleanor, greeted him with a French accent. “Will you be joining us?”
Matthias bowed his head for just the right amount at just the right height, keeping to the etiquette lessons that Gellert had imparted unto him over the last few months of their partnership. “Yes. There is much work to do, but I fear none of it can be done on an empty stomach.”
The group gave varying answers of agreement, with one of the men giving him a pat on the back.
“Of course.” Eleanor spoke, giving Matthias a rather odd smile as she tapped her wand against the plate of beef before her. The food flew over into his plate, and he had to stop himself from attacking the table with every fiber of his being. “Try this, Mr. Auer.”
“Matthias is fine.” He said, giving the lady a nod of thanks before he took his cutlery and began to eat the food slowly.
It went against his nature to behave in this manner. Oh, if I were alone, I would have torn this food apart within the time it’s taking for me to eat a single bite!
Still, he had to pace himself. He remembered Gellert’s words from a few months ago:
“Mind that you will need to learn to hold yourself well and appear to be in good standing, when the time comes.”
Matthias had agreed, then.
He hadn’t quite believed the words that had come out of the man’s mouth, though he really wanted to. It had been just the two of them in those days. Moon’s Rest had been barely holding on by a thread, and the two wizards were beset by enemies from all sides.
Things had been bleak, but Matthias had persevered, inspired by Mr. Grindelwald’s confidence— no, his certainty in the fact that they would succeed in their endeavors and climb the peak of the magical world with nothing but their will and determination.
And they had succeeded.
Moon’s Rest was now restored to its prime. He and Gellert had worked tirelessly to do this, and with their recent success at the prison in France, they had gained an assortment of powerful allies to occupy it.
This, in turn, had drawn members of the new generation to them— the ones who, like him, were disenfranchised and cast out by a society which didn’t want them there.
People like the lovely Miss Eleanor, here. Matthias thought as he made eye contact with her. She smiled at him again, though he felt that this one carried the promise of… something else happening later.
Matthias felt his pulse quicken as he swallowed his food down. He took a small sip of the wine before him.
There will be time for that later. Matthias thought to himself as he continued to eat and engage the new recruits in conversation, learning where they were from and why they had come here. But, for now, I still have a task to complete.
A few days ago, Mr. Grindelwald had begun the work on restoring Phoenix’s Roost; one of his hideaways in Great Britain.
Matthias wasn’t exactly sure why this was being done; the timing for this endeavor was a little strange, to be sure, but Gellert had the same certainty about this that he had with everything else.
Perhaps he is setting up his base as quickly as possible to counteract whatever Albus Dumbledore’s retaliatory move will be? He thought, remembering the article that the Daily Prophet had published only a few hours ago concerning events which occurred at Hogwarts. Perhaps make overtures to certain people who could help in discrediting the man?
If he were to be honest with himself, Matthias knew that he had no clue as to his benefactor’s true intentions. He wasn’t particularly gifted in any branch of magic except Charms, and he didn’t have any money to offer to their great cause.
All Matthias had was himself, but Gellert had believed in him, even then.
And so I will believe in you, Gellert Grindelwald. Matthias thought, feeling his soul come alight with passion as he set his utensils down beside the now-empty plate before him.
Wiping his mouth with a napkin, he got up and left, but not before exchanging goodbyes with the new recruits, and whispering something in Eleanor’s ear which made her smirk.
They would have their fun later, but for now…
There is more work to be done.