June 20, 1992, 8:00 AM, Ravenclaw Dorms
In the privacy of my own room, I stared down at my hands for a few seconds before taking a boxer’s stance and throwing a few punches, an imaginary enemy constantly parrying my strikes.
I bobbed and weaved past my foe’s fictitious strikes before deciding to throw a light kick at it. It was a pitiful move that would have people laughing at me if they ever saw it, but it was successful— or, at least, I thought it was.
I think I’m finally back to normal. I thought, taking in as deep of a breath as I could manage.
I smiled when I realized that there was no more pain in my ribs.
Everything is good; my ribs, shoulder, the burns on my hand don’t sting anymore… I thought, slapping my fist against my open palm. “Back in business, baby!”
I let out a light laugh before moving towards the window and staring out into the open fields. My good humor turned sad. “It would be great if I could just stay here for the summer.”
A series of excited buzzes answered my words.
“Alef.” I said, surprised to hear the entity’s buzzing in my mind. “It’s been a while. How’s your new friend?”
A buzz, and then five in quick succession before a long buzz. I had no idea what he meant, but I imagined it was sad.
“I’m guessing you don’t want to be alone all summer?” I said, a soft smile gracing my face as Alef gave another long buzz. “Yeah, it’ll probably be a drag for you, but don’t worry. We’ll all be back in September. Right?”
A sad affirmative came from the downtrodden genius loci.
“And besides.” I said. “You’ll have Helena to keep you company, and there’s so much to do here, too; I’m sure the time will fly, you’ll see.”
“Of course, it will.” Another voice came to me; Helena Ravenclaw appeared through the window, floating into the room with a graceful smile. “Hello, my friend.”
“Helena.” I smiled back at the woman, taking her hand into my own and relishing in her softness and sheer warmth.
Helena glowed with happiness. “I’ll never get used to this feeling— this sudden vigor whenever we touch!”
“Yes. Something about it just feels right…” I said, nodding towards her as I kept holding on, watching her come alive with colors. “I’ll need to figure this out when I come back, next year.”
Sadness rushed into the woman’s expression, washing away her prior elation at seeing me. “Do you…”
And then she went quiet, looking down.
I grasped her hand with both of mine, getting her attention. “Hey. You can tell me.”
Her eyes met mine, and I could almost feel the wellspring of anguish from within Helena. She was at conflict with herself, confused. I supposed I couldn’t blame her. I’d never heard of a ghost regaining aspects of life, before.
I knew that poltergeists were spirits which could turn solid for the express purpose of causing havoc and mischief, but I’d never heard of a human ghost gaining any manner of solidity.
I’ve also never heard of people coming back from the dead and being reincarnated. I thought. This isn’t exactly canon. My very existence makes this an alternate universe of some sort, where the story is much the same, but the magic system is not. True, all of the general rules are still the same, but the things I’ve done… The things I’ve accomplished this year alone…
I’d created a Curse of Entropy.
I had inadvertently brought about the existence of a genius loci.
I’d devised my own spells, the most notable two being my Inspection and Riposte Charms. Then again, Odgovor— it’s evolved a lot over the past few months. Calling it a Riposte Charm barely begins to describe what the spell is capable of.
And, deep down, I knew it could do more. I felt it during my battle with Voldemort in the depths of my soul.
It had been almost unnoticeable, but I noticed it regardless. When I had finished the man off and sent him flying out of my body, mind and soul, I felt something shift in the energy my chains were composed of. For the briefest of moments, they had somehow become… more.
It was hard to explain.
I wasn’t sure what it was, exactly.
I wanted to say that it was the void, but I couldn’t confirm it for the life of me. I knew that this energy was linked to the void, to be sure, but then again, everything was linked to the void.
The void was everything and nothing all at once.
It was the most confusing energy I’d ever dealt with. How I was able to channel it into my Disillusionment Charm without killing myself in the process was a mystery.
It must have been a fluke. I should have been wiped out from existence.
I shook those thoughts away and focused on what’s important. I tightened my grip around Helena’s hand. “Helena. We’ll figure it out, that I can promise you. No matter how long it takes.”
“Yes.” Helena nodded, pinning me with an eagle-eyed stare. “We will. Together.”
I nodded. “Together.”
And then, I let go. “Hell, I’ll even start this summer. The Black Family home might have some books on the subject of death, ghosts and the like. Maybe I’ll find something there?”
Of course, I had no idea what I’d find at that place.
I was no longer sure if the infamous Black Family Library was a canon or fanon thing, but I imagined that it wasn’t exactly out of the question. Twelve Grimmauld Place did indeed have a study, which meant that there were at least a few books sequestered there.
Besides, people tended to keep very strange things in their possession, and not all of it was strictly legal. Take Arthur Weasley, for example; the man was Head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Department, but he owned something that, under his own laws, made him a criminal.
The Ford Anglia that could fly; sure, he wrote in a loophole that allowed him to own the damn monstrosity, but that just went to further my point.
If even the Ministry workers openly disregarded the rule of law, then I couldn’t begin to imagine what the actual ne’er do wells, the criminals and the corrupt families would be up to.
“You’re right.” Helena said. “We should be proactive this summer. I will look through the books in the Library, or perhaps ask Alef for aid in locating a suitable book for me.”
I nodded, pleased by the woman’s initiative.
I wasn’t sure if that would help with anything; if Alef knew something on the matter, he would have told us, wouldn’t he?
Unless he didn’t think it was important…
“It wouldn’t hurt.” I said, nodding in agreement. “Plus, having the Library all to yourself— sounds like a dream come true. No?”
“Spoken like a true member of my Mother’s House.” Helena smiled and gestured at my open, half-packed trunk. “Do you need any help packing, my friend?”
I nodded. “Sure. I could use the company. And Helena?”
“Yes?” She said, holding one of my shirts in her hands.
“For what?” Helena stopped what she was doing and looked at me with slight confusion.
“Being here.” I said, frowning as I realized that there was so much more I wanted to say.
“Of course.” Helena said, her eyes shining as she approached me, pressing her lips on my forehead. I froze at the gesture, not knowing how to react to it at all.
At least she understood, but I wasn’t sure whether that made me happy or deathly afraid for what the future would bring.
“Let’s pack, shall we?” She said and went back to her task of helping me.
I nodded, speechless for the first time in a while.
Twenty minutes later, I said my goodbyes to Helena and left my room. My trunk floated behind me, full of my wizarding clothes and books. I adjusted the strap on my shoulder, my pack full of my normal, Muggle wear.
It wouldn’t do to go back to the Orphanage while wearing robes. I thought, staring down at my scarred hand for a moment. They’ll already have enough questions about my eyes and arm. Coming back while wearing magic robes would make them think that I was the devil reincarnated or something crazy like that.
I imagined the matron would try to exorcize the demons out of me, if that were the case. It was funny, in a way, I thought as I moved down the stairs and into the large Ravenclaw Common Room.
I moved through the large chamber, hurried students not even giving me a glance as they went through the exit in droves. I realized that we would be boarding the train very soon.
Tony and Su were waiting for me by the fireplace, just as they said they would.
“Adam.” Su said, getting up. “You’ve finished up?”
“Yes.” I said unnecessarily, gesturing at the floating trunk behind me. “Was a little faster than I expected.”
I froze, realizing exactly what that sounded like, but the two other kids didn’t seem to notice.
Thank fucking God. I thought to anyone who could be possibly watching over me. Thank God they aren’t old enough to understand.
They would never let me live it down, were that the case.
“Just means you’re probably back to normal, eh?” Tony said, completely unaware of my thoughts.
He smiled for a few moments before sweeping his gaze over the entire room, the smile died a little. “I’m going to miss this place.”
Su and I said nothing in reply for a while, content to watch the other students scurrying around like headless chickens.
“Me too.” Su said.
“Same.” I added in, smiling. “But we’ll be back, soon enough.”
“Yeah.” Tony said, before looking at the two of us and taking a breath. “Ready to go?”
A series of nods followed his question, and we were off. I wasn’t sure whether it was intentional or not, but we kept our pace slow and unhurried.
I suppose the train won’t depart for another hour. I thought. Wouldn’t hurt to take it easy and just enjoy the sights while we can.
We moved through the halls of Hogwarts, and I listened to Tony and Su talk about the various spots we had fun at where we passed by.
“It took so long to get used to these stairs.” Tony said as we made our way down the moving staircases. “But now I can’t imagine not using them.”
Su sniffed. “Speak for yourself! I’m still scared of tripping on one of these again.”
I winced, feeling sorry for the girl. Before we’d become friends, she had tripped on one of these stairs, getting several bruises and a chipped tooth for her trouble.
Fixing that had been child’s play for Madam Pomfrey, but the experience itself was traumatic enough that the girl became guarded every time she used the stairs, here.
It’s a good thing. I supposed. The best way to learn about danger is to experience it firsthand, just enough to know that it doesn’t truly hurt you, but that far worse could have happened.
In this instance, a chipped tooth in exchange for learning to be more careful and mindful of your surroundings was a veritable bargain. It was curious, however, how absolutely no one had fallen off of the stairs and died.
It seemed a little strange.
I found it hard to believe that no child on Hogwarts Grounds had come into an accident of that nature. A few missteps was all it would take to get the job done, after all, and that wasn’t even counting suicides.
I suppose it’d be pretty hard to kill yourself when magical medicine can bounce you back from just about anything. I thought. You’d need to have your brain crushed into a paste or have your head cut off to make it stick, and I’m not particularly sure about the decapitation. Who knows; if they find you quick enough, they could possibly reattach the head, spine and nerves with magic.
It sounded far fetched, even to me, but not impossible, if the wizards and witches in question were skilled enough.
The fact that Voldemort was still alive without an actual body to anchor him lent a little more credibility to my own thoughts. In comparison, reattaching a severed head to a freshly decapitated person seemed a bit trite.
We stopped at the bridge leading up to the carriages and stared out at the Black Lake.
“I’m really going to miss it here.” Tony said to no one in particular.
“Yes.” I said, watching the tide exert its inexorable push and pull on the water. “It’s a shame we can’t even visit this place in the summer. We’d have a pretty great swim, maybe a picnic.”
My friends hummed in agreement as a small group of students passed us by, excitedly chatting about their summer plans.
The three of us listened to them for a few moments before sharing a look.
“What do you two have planned for the summer?” Su said as we resumed our walk.
“I’ve no clue.” Tony said. “I’m sure dad will want to hear all about Hogwarts— I’ve written a lot to him, but he’ll want to see all the neat little things I’ve learned.”
“But you can’t use magic outside of school…” Su said, frowning as we reached the carriages. The two Thestrals pulling this one looked at me for a second before nodding and staring straight ahead.
I blinked at the acknowledgement the creatures gave me, but got on the carriage, still half-listening to my two friends speak.
“That’s true…” Tony said. “I’m sure mum will have shown him some things, then.”
That had been something that was bothering me for quite a while. Tony’s last name, Goldstein; was it somehow related to Porpentina and Queenie?
It was a ridiculous thought. Tony had said on multiple occasions that his father was a Muggle. That meant that the family name Goldstein could just be a common name for jewish families.
“Oh!” Tony said. “That’s right. Aunt Tina said she’d be visiting for a few weeks.”
Aunt Tina? I thought, eyes widening at the name. “Oh? I’m sure your dad will enjoy having his sister around, then.”
I felt bad for fishing for information like this, but it couldn’t be helped. I couldn’t be direct in my line of questioning without compromising my strange level of knowledge on the matter.
Take the bait… I thought.
“…Oh!” Tony shook his head. “No, you’ve got it all wrong. Aunt Tina’s from my mum’s side of the family. She’s very old— as old as McGonagall, I think.”
I nodded, wincing a little as the carriage hit a bump. None of this made any sense. I needed to dig a little more.
Tony continued. “As for my dad— well, he was an orphan. Never knew his parents.”
Now that had been unexpected. An orphan? Still, there was no way he was related to Porpentina or Queenie. It had to be from the mother’s side of Anthony’s family; was she the Goldstein?
There was a moment of silence before Su spoke.
“I’m sorry, Tony.” Su said, looking sad.
“Me too.” I said, though my mind was whirring with a way to get him to reveal the information. “I shouldn’t have asked.”
“No, no.” Tony said. “It’s all right, Adam. I don’t mind telling you two. You’re my friends.”
Su smiled and took the boy’s hand in her own. “You’re my friend, too.”
The two looked at me.
“What’s a friend?” I said, pretending to look confused. I saw them roll their eyes as I extended a hand forward to make it a group handshake. “Just kidding. Friendship!”
“You really are quite strange, Adam.” Tony said. “Has anyone told you that?”
“A few times.” I said, getting an idea. “Man, I wish the orphanage gave me a name with ‘Gold’ in it, though. I suppose your dad lucked out.”
“Oh.” Tony said, shaking his head. “No, Goldstein isn’t his last name.”
I frowned, though I was cheering on the inside at my success. “Then…?”
“Smith.” Tony said. “Bartholomew Smith.”
I forgot all about my information gathering for a moment, blinking at the strangeness of having such a fancy first name coupled with a terrible last name.
“I know.” Tony said, seeing my incredulous look. “Whoever named him was not in their right mind.”
“You can say that again.” I said. “So, your mom’s name is Goldstein, and he took that as his own instead of the other way around?”
Bingo. I thought. So, Aunt Tina really is Porpentina?
I had no confirmation on the matter, but it all seemed to fit. Anthony Goldstein, the boy related to Porpentina and Queenie Goldstein— enemies of Grindelwald, who just so happens to have escaped prison and was breaking other wizards and witches out, increasing his power.
Just what were the odds I would have befriended the boy?
My white eye saw the string swirling around the boy, and I wondered whether the thread had always pushed him on this path to begin with.
This new sight of mine has created more questions than it answers. I thought, doing my best to not let my face scrunch into one of deep suspicion.
Grindelwald, Voldemort, the void, the strange energy infused into my chains, the threads I saw around people, the fact that one of my eyes now looked like a Thestral’s…
Too many questions, and the answers would likely continue to elude me for some time.
Que sera, sera. I decided, banishing the thoughts from my mind. There are many questions to answer, but there’s no reason to ruin this moment because of it. I’ll enjoy life in the moments I still can.
“That’s pretty wild.” I said, turning my attention to Su. “What about you, Su? What are your plans for the summer?”
Su smiled and began to speak.