June 26, 1992, 10:00 AM, Infirmary, Phoenix’ Roost, England
Wait out the initial wave, she said. I thought, feeling miserable in the Infirmary’s bed. It’ll only be a few hours, she said. I’ve never shaken like this in either life!
Still, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the soundness of the Healer’s advice. It felt better to let my body cope in its own natural way than it did by suppressing my own urge to shake.
Not that it felt good, either way.
Merely existing hurt me in ways I could not truly quantify as I was so addled by the pain. I blinked a few times before getting a sip of water, hoping for the life-giving liquid to help me relax in the bed a little, but it did not provide me with any comfort.
“Mr. Clarke.” The French-accented voice of the Healer came from my right, and I turned to see the woman in the robes of white and red, looking almost priest-like as she approached. “It’s time to administer the Potions.”
I took in her golden-white hair and the careful look in her eyes for a few moments before nodding.
I sighed, allowing her to take the cup in my hand and place it on my bedside. Her arm reached towards me again, grasping the back of my head in a firm grip as the other hand lifted a goblet to my lips. “Drink.”
I took a sip before coughing at the incredible dryness of the liquid— Alcohol, I realized. “This is alcoholic, Madame Durand.”
“Partly.” Healer Durand said without skipping a beat. “We are trying to relax your muscles here, Mr. Clarke, and our resources are somewhat limited, despite Mr. Grindelwald’s resounding victory.”
“I see…” I said, looking down the goblet. “What else is in it?”
“Some Calming Draught, as well.” Durand said, listing off a few more ingredients that went over my head before raising the goblet to my lips again. “Now, no more words. Drink.”
I grunted and drank the rest of the strange concoction, my eyes getting a little watery as I tasted the peppermint oil in the mixture. It took some time, but I finally had it all in my system.
I wiped my eyes even as the Healer continued to speak. “You’ve done well to drink it all in one go, Mr. Clarke.”
“Thanks.” I said, reaching for the water and stopping when the Healer began to tut.
“I would not recommend drinking anything to dilute the Potion I have only just administered.” Durand said, sighing as she noticed I was starting to get a little lightheaded. “Not that it matters, overmuch. You won’t be awake for much longer.”
“What do you…” I said, yawning. “Oh. Right, exhaustion…”
“Well reasoned.” Healer Durand said, placing her head on my forehead and giving it a little caress. Her blue eyes shined with almost silver light, and her next words felt weighty with magic. “Sleep now, Mr. Clarke…”
Something about this felt so strange and familiar, like I had seen something like this being done before. That’s when it hit me. “Veela…”
The last thing I saw before I lapsed into deep unconsciousness was the woman’s wide eyes, her face scrunching into an expression of surprise at my words.
Hours later, I woke up, feeling better than I had before. I moved to sit up and realized that I was only a little sore— far better than the world of pain I had prepared myself to experience after waking up.
Shaking like that for hours… I rather expected the muscle soreness to be beyond horrible. I thought, sighing as I leaned my head back into the comfortable pillows. I’m really glad that isn’t the case.
“So, you have finally awakened, Mr. Clarke.” Madam Durand said as she approached me, her blue eyes looking at me with some measure of interest. “A little slower than I’d anticipated, but I suppose I had used too much peppermint in that Calming Draught…”
“You’re a Veela.” I blurted out the first thing that came to mind and winced at her strange expression.
I saw her thread twist for a moment as she narrowed her eyes at me with suspicion. “And how have you come to this conclusion, Mr. Clarke?”
“I felt it.” I said, coming up with an explanation on the spot. “The compulsion. You used magic to get me to sleep.”
“…I may have.” She said, calming down as her eyes grew guarded. “But it could have simply been the Calming Draught in the mixture, or your exhaustion. How did you know?”
“I felt your power.” I repeated myself with a frown. “Like a force latching onto my own and holding it down.”
It would have been bad, had the woman wanted to do anything other than put me to sleep, but it was still a frightening thought to have. Here was a compulsion native to this woman that was much more subtle than the Imperius could ever hope to be.
“Impressive that you were able to sense that, Mr. Clarke.” She said, raising her finger. “But, let us not speak of such things any more. Now, how do you feel?”
I opened my mouth to say something further, but the look in her eyes held such dangerous promise that I stayed my lips.
Instead, I looked at her for a moment, and then at the agitated thread swirling above her before shrugging. “Maybe. I feel a lot better, though, if that helps.”
“I will be the judge of that.” She said, sending me a stern look as she drew her wand, a thin stick of white, far smaller than most wands I’ve laid my eyes on.
She moved it over my body in a smooth, almost snake-like pattern, and went quiet for a few moments.
“As you say, it seems that you are indeed recovering well from the ordeal.” Healer Durand said, breaking the silence. “You shall be fit by the end of the day.”
The end of the day? I blinked in surprise. That sounded a little too good to be true.
When Harry had been hit with the Cruciatus, he had displayed bad symptoms for several days, despite Snape’s own special concoctions and far better accommodations. And yet, this Healer was telling me that I would be fine in a day?
“Are you sure?” I said, raising my hands quickly when I saw the look of ire on her face. “I’ve read up on the Cruciatus and know someone who was subjected to it. It took him at least two days to be somewhat comfortable— and even far longer to recover fully. Yet, you’re saying it’s going to take less than one, for me.”
Madam Durand opened her mouth for a few seconds before closing it. “Indeed. There are many, erm… Facteurs? Factors, yes. Many factors that can contribute to a patient’s recovery time. The level of care, the time in which the treatment is administered, the strength of the wizard or witch casting the spell…”
“If it took your friend several days.” Madam Durand continued as if I hadn’t said anything. “Then the one who cast the spell upon them must have been very powerful, indeed…”
Snippets of my battle with Voldemort began to play out in my mind’s eye. Frighteningly powerful, so much so that he was almost able to annihilate my presence from my own psyche.
Voldemort was not one to take lightly; the only reason I had prevailed against him was because he’d been hampered and slowed down by outside forces at every turn.
I had no doubt that Alef Ard had been attacking his mind, as he was dueling both Snape and Flitwick simultaneously, and also playing with Harry as if he was just another peon.
Yes. I thought, frowning. Voldemort is indeed very powerful, but how does he compare to Grindelwald, I wonder?
The woman smiled, finding something amusing. “You are a very serious boy, you know.”
The nerve on her…!
“So I’m told.” I fired back, a red-hot rage entering my eyes as I leveled a glare at the woman. “I think you would be pretty serious if someone tried to torture you, too.”
Her nose crinkled at my attitude, and she opened her mouth to reply before another voice beat her to it.
“And he will be punished for it, make no mistake…” Rafiq’s voice came from the entrance of the Infirmary. I turned black and white eyes to see the man in question, making his way inside with an expression sitting on the fence between tiredness and anger.
“Mr. Rafiq.” I said in greeting as the man moved to stand by the other side of my bed.
“How is he?” He looked over me, towards the Healer.
“Mr. Clarke will be fine by the end of the day.” Madam Durand said, nodding to herself. “I would keep him here for tonight just to be sure, but there’s nothing wrong with him that necessitates a longer stay.”
“That is good news.” Rafiq said before turning his gaze to the bed occupied by a sleeping Nick. “And Mr. Guffries?”
She hesitated for a moment, looking between me and him. “Perhaps we should…”
“No.” Rafiq said in a blunt tone, looking at me with a hard, but not unkind gaze. “He should know what his actions have wrought— no matter how justified they may have been under the circumstances.”
“…” The woman looked at me again before turning to Rafiq with a nod. “Okay. The most minor of the injuries are a few scrapes I’ve already healed, but the true damage lay in his bones, crushed so badly that they are beyond normal repair.”
“I see.” Rafiq said, scratching his chin. “An attempt to do so would, I assume, cause great harm.”
“Indeed.” She said, her lips pressing into a thin line. “The fragmented bones would tear his limbs to shreds, and thus render them beyond any and all repair. No, I have had to resort to a different method; vanish the bones themselves before administering a large dose of Skele-Gro to regrow them in the correct location.”
Rafiq winced, shaking his head. “Terrible concoction; I have been forced to use it a few times in the past.”
Madam Durand made a polite noise, but said nothing further.
“How long do you believe it will take for him to recover back to full?” Rafiq said. “I would not have him waste any more time than he already has.”
The Healer made a thoughtful noise before giving her answer. “Three days; perhaps four, depending on the specific series of Potions I will need to administer. I do not wish to… stunt? Yes, that is the word; stunt. I don’t want to stunt his healing process, of course.”
“Of course.” Rafiq said, smiling a little at the woman’s strange enthusiasm for mastering the language. “Go and see to his needs, but do not make him too comfortable. A lesson needs to be taught to him about going too far on allies.”
“Yes, of course, sir.” Healer Durand said, bowing her head once before giving a quick look and heading towards Nick’s bed to get back to work.
A silence overtook the previous conversation, punctuated only by the footsteps and motions of the Healer on the other side of the Infirmary.
“You are likely wondering.” Rafiq broke the silence with carefully chosen words. “Why I did not stop the fool from casting the Cruciatus Curse on you.”
“The thought occurred.” I said, choosing my own words with equal care. “I didn’t know Grindelwald’s order allowed the use of the Cruciatus on their friends and allies.”
“Friends and allies?” Rafiq said, shaking his head with amusement. “Are you either of those things, Mr. Clarke?”
“You know— and I know you know— what I mean.” I said, not letting this one go. I didn’t care if he hit me with a hundred casts of that strange flaying spell of his.
I wasn’t playing games anymore.
“Of course.” Rafiq said, grumbling something I didn’t quite hear. “Forgive an old man for his amusements. One does what one can with such rampant boredom.”
I didn’t say anything in response, giving Rafiq an expectant look instead.
“It is, as you may have guessed it, not allowed for members of our order to use the Cruciatus on each other, unless it is for specific circumstances, such as teaching our members to withstand the curse in case of capture.” Rafiq said, explaining.
“Then…” I said, frowning in confusion. “Why?”
“Mr. Guffries is an arrogant fool.” Rafiq said as if it explained everything— and I supposed it did, in some fucked up way. “He believes himself to be above the rules, and has shown a tendency to punish his foes more severely than he ought to. I expected him to be rough with you, but to resort to an Unforgivable is not something I expected… He’d never used it before.”
“And yet… you didn’t stop him when he did.” I said, insisting on that fact.
“I did not.”
“…Why?” I said. “You just said it’s not allowed.”
“I have watched you for some time. I knew you would pay him back in kind.” Rafiq said, gesturing towards the still comatose fool. “And I daresay that you’ve taught him a lesson he won’t soon forget. Have you not?”
So I was used as a lesson for this douchebag prick. “Right…”
“And you also served as inspiration for our recruits.” Rafiq said, trying to give me a pat on the shoulder, but I shied away from his touch. “To see a boy of your age withstand one of the most horrible curses known to wizards and witches— and not only that, to have you stand up and lay your enemy low in the aftermath? It teaches them that a fight is only lost when they, themselves, forfeit. Not when the enemy has the upper hand.”
I opened my mouth to tell him that I wasn’t his teaching toy to wave around in front of his students but closed it.
“Still, it is a good thing.” Rafiq said, getting my attention again. “That you have been subjected to this curse in a non-hostile setting.”
“A good thing!?” I snarled, losing hold of my patience. “You have to be out of your mind—”
“Yes.” Rafiq insisted, his voice rising by an octave before he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
A moment later, he reached up and removed his hat, and whatever words I had prepared to tear into this cockwart died a sudden death, turning to ash in my mouth.
I saw the man’s bald head covered in horrific, badly healed cuts, pockmarks and burn scars that told me of a long time spent living in a period full of cruel, senseless torture.
“You…” I said, eyes wide as I remembered similar people from my previous life’s youth. My eyes moved down to his own, and I saw the same fire, the same thirst to prove one’s existence as I had seen in theirs.
“Indeed.” Rafiq said, his gaze intense and harsh as he moved to loom over me. “It is a good thing that you were subjected to it here for the first time, and not in the clutches of your enemies, where you are vulnerable to reveal many of your secrets, if not all.”
I didn’t say a thing even as he continued. “And make no mistake; child or not, they do not care. I have seen boys younger than yourself meet their end at the hands of the so-called benevolent Egyptian Ministry. And what they do to the girls of the suppressed families… That I refuse to say. It does not matter to them who you are, or where you are from; you are simply the enemy, there to be interrogated.”
I swallowed at the sight; I’d seen some messed up things, and waded through my own fair share of horrors, but I somehow still found myself surprised and shocked when faced with the human race’s savagery and bloodthirst.
Never underestimate humanity’s potential for malice. I thought, the half-remembered line echoing through my mind for a moment before Rafiq spoke again.
“These are the horrors I have faced since I was a young boy, myself.” Rafiq finished as he put his hat back on, covering the horrible scars again. “The only reason that keeps me going is knowing that there are wizards and witches in this world who believe in a cause greater than ourselves.”
“Like Grindelwald.” I said, and he saw the dubious look on my face.
“Yes.” Rafiq said. “Like Mr. Grindelwald.”
“Funny you say that.” I said, not acknowledging his correction. “Because I saw someone who looked really familiar before I had to fight against good old Nick over there.”
Rafiq’s mouth quirked into a half-smirk at that.
“I have seen the man you speak of, as well as his cohort enter the premises as well.” Rafiq acknowledged my statement with a nod. “What of it?”
“He’s part of a group of people who would see me tortured and killed.” I said, my voice firm as I made air quotations. “Being a ‘filthy Mudblood’, and all that.”
“‘Mudblood’.” Rafiq repeated the word with a shake of his head. “The British… Still as foolish as ever.”
“That’s who Grindelwald is allying himself with.” I said, glaring at the man’s warning look. “He openly treats with the scum controlling the government here, the same kind of people who would do to me what yours has done to you. What do you have to say about that?”
A moment of silence passed, and I was about to claim victory.
“I agree with you.” Rafiq said freely, surprising me and tearing through whatever I was about to say next. “They are scum. Of that, there can be no error. They are part of the corruption we fight against.”
“Then…?” I said, confused. “What? Why even talk to them? You just admitted that they can’t be trusted.”
“And yet…” A voice came from the entrance. “Their presence is one necessary to our order.”
I turned to see the man who was there to greet the Malfoys. I stared at him for a moment before speaking.
“You’re… Matthias, right?”
Matthias looked at me with a small smile. “Yes. Matthias Auer is my name. I would say that it’s a pleasure to meet you for the first time Mr. Clarke, but we have laid eyes on each other several times already.”
“Nice to meet you, too.” I said automatically, drawing a wider smile from the man.
This is Grindelwald’s right hand man. I thought as he moved away to confer with the Healer for a few moments before turning to me once again.
“Come; Mr. Grindelwald wishes to see you both.” Matthias said, nodding towards the blonde still looking over Nick. “Madam Durand assures me that you are well enough to move for now, though I of course will return you to the Infirmary, should the need arise.”
“Right.” I said, though I still had a hundred questions left in me.
Just what’s your endgame, Grindelwald? I thought as I got up and did my best to follow the two older men.
I imagined I would get some answers soon— though, with my luck, it was bound to raise far more questions in the process.