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The Inquest

June 16, 1992, 9:00 AM, Great Hall

Adam Clarke

Then, I would deal with whatever would come.

Not five minutes after I thought this, I was approached by Professor Flitwick. “Mr. Clarke. It does me good to see you up and about.”

I set down my food and turned to address the man. “Hello, Professor.”

I ignored the way his eyes flickered towards my right eye’s off-putting appearance.

I guess I’m going to have to get used to people doing that. I thought and continued to speak. “I’m doing much better. How are you, sir? I imagine that you had a rough go of it, as well.”

His wounds had almost completely faded away, but I imagined I could still see the faint lines marking the cuts and scratches on his hands and face.

“I suppose I did.” Flitwick said, giving me a solemn nod before he continued. “Though I wished to give you the time and space to recover from what happened, I’m afraid that there is something that we have to do, today. All of us here.”

“Even us?” Su said, pointing at herself and then Tony.

“Yes, you, as well.” Professor Flitwick confirmed. “You two are required, as well as many of the Prefects from the other Houses, and so on.”

“Oh?” I said, frowning with trepidation and a small hint of interest. “What’s going on?”

“I will inform you as we walk.” Flitwick said, turned and began to move. “We will fetch the other students, first.”

I wiped my mouth with a napkin before I pushed off of the table, following the man without hesitation. Su and Tony follow suit.

“Just one thing.” I called out to the man.

He didn’t look back. “Yes, Mr. Clarke?”

“Could you slow down?” I said, doing my best to keep my breathing slow and even. “I’m not at a hundred percent yet, sir.”

Flitwick stopped, turned his head and gave me an apologetic look. “Of course, Mr. Clarke.”

“Thank you, Professor.” I said, continuing to follow him as he moved at a much slower pace this time.

“What do you think this is about, Adam?” Su said, sounding a little worried as Flitwick stopped by Mira and began chatting with her and the girl next to her. After a moment, I realized that it was Ophelia.

After a few moments of watching Flitwick talk to them, they turned their gazes towards us, their expressions a mix of confusion and fear.

“They’re gathering us all up.” Su said. “Look towards Harry, Ron and Hermione.”

I turned my gaze towards the Gryffindor table, noticing the same thing that was happening here. The students began to whisper as I also noticed it happen at the other tables, as well. “Everyone involved in the recent incident. They’re gathering us all; you’re right.”

“For what, do you reckon?” Tony said as Flitwick rejoined us, with Ophelia, Mira and a few other Ravenclaws.

“Come, children.” Flitwick said and led the way, making sure to stay slow in his gait. We all followed.

“What is this about, Professor?” Mira was the first to say when we exited the premises of the Great Hall.

“Best we wait a little until the other Professors join us.” Flitwick said. “And then we’ll explain the matter to everyone. There is no need to worry; none of you are in trouble.”

Everyone present nodded, though they didn’t seem particularly calmed by it.

The seconds continued to pass as more students started to file out of the Great Hall. They looked at Professor Flitwick, at the present Prefects, and then at me. Their eyes lingered on my white eye before I met theirs, forcing them to look away uncomfortably.

I resisted the urge to scoff as I saw Harry, Ron and Hermione come out of the Great Hall, accompanied by Percy Weasley and a few others. Had he been part of the Prefect group who attacked us? Perhaps he had already been downed by the time I got there, and I never noticed?

It had been a chaotic scene, that much I remembered. Aside from Mira and Ophelia, however, I hadn’t recognized the majority of them.

But now that I see them all gathered… Yeah. I thought. These three, I tied up in chains and bled a Stunning Charm through the links to subdue them.

The three Gryffindor First Years gravitated towards us, though Hermione seemed to be loath to even come close to me. I frowned at that.

I guess she hasn’t gotten over it yet. Figures. I thought and addressed the three. “Hello, Harry, Hermione, Ron.”

“Any idea why they called us, mate?” Ron said, his voice taking on a note of confusion as a few more students began to file out.

“They gathered all of the students who were part of what happened on the Third Floor corridor.” Hermione said, not looking at me. “I think that they want to question everyone about what happened.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. They already questioned all of us.” Harry said, with Tony and Su nodding in agreement.

Then it came to me.

I shook my head. “The teachers aren’t the ones who want to question us.”

“Huh?” Ron said, turning his head to me before his eyes widened. “You mean…”

Before I could say anything further, Professor Flitwick cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. “Children?”

Everyone quieted at once, turning their gaze to the diminutive man. Standing beside him were also Professors Snape, McGonagall and Sprout.

“If you would, Professor McGonagall.” Flitwick said, deferring to her.

“Thank you, Professor Flitwick.” McGonagall said, before turning her attention to the rest of us. “I’m sure many of you are curious as to why we’ve brought you all here. You see—”

She stopped for a moment before glaring towards the doors of the Great Hall.

We all turned our heads to see the remaining student body approaching the doorway to stare at us in some attempt to figure out what’s going on.

Professor Snape stalked past us all towards the doors, forcing a few of the students in the Great Hall to stumble backwards as he spelled the doors shut. He turned to McGonagall and gave her a nod.

She nodded back before clearing her throat, getting everyone’s attention again. “As I was saying before the interruption, you’re all aware of the incident which took place in this school on June the Tenth.”

People’s reactions were varied; there were some nods, some winces, and even some flinches. Ophelia looked the worst off, I realized. The girl was shivering, despite Mira’s words of comfort.

I stepped towards the girl and stood by her as well. She looked at me, giving a weak whimper of surprise, but I only looked back, with eyes as calm as still water.

I gave her a nod in support before turning my head back to the Professor, who hadn’t noticed the interaction at all.

“Though Professor Dumbledore had already provided them with the information on what happened, it seems that…” Professor McGonagall said, her lips pursing with displeasure. “The Ministry wishes to conduct its own investigation on the matter. And so, they have requested to meet with any and all who were involved.”

It didn’t take someone observant to feel the contempt bleeding off of McGonagall.

“Why?” One of the Slytherin Prefects said. “We already told you everything, Professors.”

“What’s another questioning going to accomplish?” Another student said in agreement, and I saw the general mood of the kids sour at the prospect of yet another session of nonsense.

Ophelia began to mutter to herself. Even as close as I was, I wasn’t able to hear much more than, “not again…”

I frowned and gave her a pat on the shoulder as Professor Sprout cleared her throat, getting everyone’s attention.

“That’s enough, children.” The witch said, frowning. “We cannot refuse a summons from the Ministry, especially not when they have good cause to investigate. A man has died, and you all were injured in the process, so please try to treat this situation with a little more seriousness.”

“I see.” I muttered to myself as Professor Sprout continued to explain that we would have to be interrogated one-by-one by the Ministry officials in a designated room. “So that’s what they’re going for, huh?”

“What is it, Adam?” Mira said, keeping her voice quiet, even as Sprout began to get us to follow her. “Why are they doing this?”

“Maybe I’m wrong.” I said to hedge my bets as we made our way through the halls. “But… Considering recent news with the prison break in France, the Ministry might be wanting to appear as if it’s doing something— to settle the population down.”

Ophelia didn’t say anything, but I could tell that, even in her distraught state, the gears in her head were turning. She grimaced just as Mira began to reach her own conclusion.

“This is…” Mira said, eyes unfocusing for a moment before they turned angry. “Really? They’re putting us through this again just to look good in the papers!?”

I let her statement hang in the air for a moment, noticing a few of the other students were listening in.

“That’s my guess.” I said, shrugging. “Why else would they call us forward to give the exact same testimonies we already have? They want to maintain an image of strength in the face of another country’s instability.”

“It can’t be that.” Mira said, shaking her head. “They wouldn’t do something so cruel.”

“As if people in power have ever cared about anyone but themselves.” I said, shaking my head and moving away from Mira to join Tony and the others. I stopped and fell in step with Ophelia to give her a few words of encouragement. “You can do this, okay?”

She didn’t give any sort of reaction to those words, and so I shrugged and moved away again. I did what I could.

“What were you talking about?” Tony asked as I approached. “Do they know why this is happening?”

I shook my head before sharing my own suspicions with the group.

“They wouldn’t do something so…” Hermione said, and it was the first time she looked at me since our fight. “So…”

“People are motivated primarily by self-interest.” I said, shaking my head at the girl’s naiveté. “There are no exceptions. Even myself.”

“Yes.” Hermione glared. “So you admit it.”

“What about it, Hermione?” I said. “I will always go for what I want. Is that really so bad?”

“You…” She said, her voice dropping. “You lied to us.”

“I did.” I said. “And had I told the truth, you’d probably be corpses, or worse.”

“You don’t know that.” Harry said, backing his friend up on this.

“Maybe not for sure.” I said, looking at Harry. “But I know you. You’ll jump headlong into danger without even a thought as to what will happen to you. No one in their right mind would have told any of you a thing.”

Hermione’s glare turned worse and I felt a light elbow to the side.

“Ow.” I said, turning to see an annoyed Tony. “What?”

“You realize she just wants you to apologize, right?” Tony said.

“I’m well aware.” I said. “But here’s the thing.”

I turned my gaze back to Hermione. “I don’t apologize when I’m right. If you can’t deal with it, that’s your problem. Not mine.”

Without waiting for a reply, I hurried my pace, falling in step with Professor Flitwick.

He looked at me for a few moments, realizing my tense state, and said only a few words.

“You will probably regret that decision, Mr. Clarke.” He said, and I knew what he was referring to.

“You’re probably right, sir.” I said, sighing before my eyes turned as hard as steel. “But I can’t envision a world in which I would have done anything differently.”

Flitwick stared at me some more before nodding. “I suppose not. You have always stayed true to yourself, even if it ends up causing you grief.”

“Oh yes.” Filius continued, smiling at my curious look. “I have been keeping a closer eye on you, Mr. Clarke— ever since Christmas, in fact.”

I blinked and looked down for a moment. “Is that so…”

“I won’t pretend to know exactly what you all were talking about, but I do know a thing or two about making enemies.” Professor Flitwick said. “The fewer of them you have, the better.”

“True.” I said. “I’ll keep your words in mind, Professor.”

“That’s all I ask.”

The conversation ended there, and we all moved through the halls, up the stairs to the Fourth Floor, before we were led to one of the unused classrooms.

At its entrance stood two tall men wearing the red robes of the Aurors. They stared at us with expressionless, hard faces, as if daring us to try and cross them.

Setting the tone pretty hard, aren’t they?

The two men shared a look before raising a hand. Everyone stopped and stared at them while the one on the left murmured something to the one on the right.

The Auror on the right entered through the door, revealing several more Aurors inside, as well as a person who seemed to stand out among the sea of red. It was a woman with blonde hair, set in elaborate, rigid curls which framed a face with a heavy jaw. She turned her gaze towards the Auror entering, and I saw her jeweled spectacles and drawn on eyebrows for a single moment before the door closed again.

“Wait here, please.” The remaining Auror said.

Was that who I think it was? I thought and felt my teeth gritting. I took a deep breath and centered myself. Suspicions confirmed, at least.

“Did you see who was in there?” One of the Slytherins said. “Rita Skeeter!”

A series of murmurs spread through the students.

“Why is she here?” “Is this going to be on the Prophet?”

“That’s enough.” Severus Snape said, his expression promising liberal punishment to anyone who decided to go against his orders. “You will behave yourselves as respected members of this prestigious school. Is that clear?”

Everyone quieted down, but that only served to charge the air with anticipation and energy. I could tell from their faces that the students were doing their best to rein themselves in.

Five minutes passed, and the tension continued to build. The remaining Auror kept his face as impassive as he could, though he did almost flinch away from Snape when the man had spoken, earlier.

Some kind of history? I thought before giving a mental shrug. Not that it really matters.

The door finally opened, revealing the Auror from before. He left it open, revealing the stern faces on the other side, as well as the expectant one off in a corner.

Rita Skeeter, hit-piece-wonder of the Daily Prophet, herself, stared at us all with thinly veiled hunger in her eyes. They settled on me for a few seconds, and then on Harry Potter.

“Sorry for the wait.” The man said, his voice as pleasant as can be. “Now, as you may have been informed by your Professors, we are merely conducting an investigation on behalf of the public. Something happened in these halls during the events of June the Tenth, and we plan on getting to the bottom of this.”

I resisted the urge to scoff. It was like this guy was reading straight from a script. Ministry lapdog.

“Now, when I call your name, you will go in and answer my colleague’s questions to the best of your ability.”

“Alone?” One of the Prefects said, feeling a little intimidated by the amount of people inside, judging by his widened eyes.

“Your respective Head of House will accompany you, of course.” Professor McGonagall said as the man opened his mouth. He frowned at the woman, who sent a dangerous look back.

No. I realized; she was looking straight at the people inside.

“Will that be a problem, Miss Hope?” McGonagall said towards the Auror at the head of the large table.

“Of course not, Professor.” Auror Hope said, agreeing instantly, looking like she had almost stumbled over her words. “I— In fact, that would be preferred.”

A series of nods followed this statement.

I scoffed. Looks like McGonagall still puts the fear of God in these people, long after they’re gone. I suppose she can be pretty scary when provoked.

It was a little funny, all things considered, and a much needed moment of levity for me. As with everything, however, it was not going to last.

“Let us begin, then?” The Auror from before said, injecting himself into the conversation.

Professor McGonagall nodded. “Very well.”

“We’ll start with the older students and work our way down.” The Auror said, before beginning to list off the first name— A Seventh Year Hufflepuff girl that couldn’t have possibly been part of the group I fought. Could there have been altercations, elsewhere?

That was something I’d never considered. Just how many people did Quirrell draw into this fiasco?

I watched her go inside, the Auror closing the door behind her and leaving us all in the hallway. I took a breath before moving off to the side and sitting down on the stone floor.

“Adam?” Su said, moving towards me. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing is.” I said, smiling up at the girl. “But if they’re going to interview us, one by one, then we’re going to be here a while, I think.”

“Firstie’s got a point.” Another student said, and that was all that was needed to get everyone forming groups and sitting down in various parts of the hall.

None of the teachers or Aurors said a word or did anything to stop us.

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