June 20, 1992, 8:59 AM, Hogwarts Express
The doors closed behind me as I boarded the train, and I took a short breath before nodding to myself. Back to the Orphanage.
I pursed my lips and made my way through the train, my trunk trailing behind me. I exchanged greetings with a few older Ravenclaws, passed quite a few compartments full of familiar faces before finding who I was looking for.
“Adam!” Su said, smiling and gesturing for me to come inside. “We saved you a seat.”
I gave a nod, entering the compartment to see a couple of Slytherins inside, as well. “Thanks, you two.”
I gave a nod of greeting to the two girls, who nodded back. I recognized one as one of the girls who used to hang out with Draco, early on.
Banishing such thoughts from my mind, I drew my wand and tapped it against my trunk, sending it flying into the luggage compartment above. Satisfied, I threw my sack in, waved my wand down, and the door closed.
“You know, you’re going to become very lazy if you keep this up.” Tony commented with a smile.
“Well.” Tony said, gesturing as he spoke. “You need to move your body, you know? Otherwise, you’ll just start to wither away.”
“You’re right.” I said, acknowledging the point. “I think, even though I’ve recovered, I’m still expecting my body to hurt— if that makes sense?”
Tony’s smile fell at that, and he lowered his head slightly. “Yeah, I guess I know what you mean. It did hurt to move around for a while after…”
“Yeah.” I said, ignoring how the two Slytherin girls started eyeing us with interest.
“What happened down there, anyway?” The brown haired girl cut into the conversation, leaning forward with curious eyes. She was given a light slap by her friend, causing her to recoil. “Hey!”
“Forgive my friend Tracey.” The other girl said, raising a hand to tuck a black lock behind her ear before gesturing to her friend. “She doesn’t know how to behave, yet.”
“Hey!” The brown-haired girl, Tracey, said with a deep frown. “I’m not a pet, you know.”
“Oh no.” The other girl said, turning her nose up. “Of course not.”
That got a smile out of Su and Tony. I resisted the urge to shake my head.
“Is everyone that curious about what happened?” I said.
Tracey looked at me as if I was stupid. “Well, yes? Our best students and teachers were injured, and there was something about a grand duel while Dumbledore was off fighting Grindelwald— you’d have to be daft to not be curious.”
“Everyone is dying to know what really happened.”
Ever the bloodthirsty fools, children are. I thought to myself. “Is that so… People weren’t satisfied by the articles in the Daily Prophet, I’m guessing?”
“Have you read them?” Tracey said, shaking her head.
“No.” I said. “But I wager Skeeter wove a fine tale for the masses to consume.”
The black haired girl rolled her eyes at the statement. “You sound like my father.”
“From that alone, I’m guessing that he’s a good man to emulate, then.”
That’s when the girl frowned. “Do you… not know who my father is?”
“…Should I?” I said, looking at her. “I mean, neither of you have introduced yourselves, so it’d be silly for me to know a thing about you.”
That was a bald-faced lie; the girl before me was Daphne Greengrass, and the girl beside her was Tracey Davis.
Greengrass was a familiar name to me from my days of reading tons of fanfiction that used the girl as a blank slate character— usually as a pairing for Harry. In this world, however, I had no idea who she truly was.
She, and her friend Tracey, were complete unknowns, but they never seemed to make any waves, content on following in the wake of others.
I assumed that they were consigned to the fate of being background characters.
That was, until the day that the Greengrass family offered to adopt me. After that happened, I gave the Greengrass name a little look-see, but wasn’t able to find anything substantial from old articles, as well as school records.
Good grades, nothing exceptional. I thought back on those records. But nothing to warrant them being a terrible threat.
With that said, it was possible that they had their fingers in other pies. A few cursory looks at the Daily Prophet over the course of the year had shown a trend.
The name of the girl’s father had almost driven me into hysterics with how ridiculous it was.
Albert Greengrass. I thought, resisting the urge to shake my head and laugh as the train jerked into motion, slowly building up speed as it took us out of Hogsmeade Station. What a name.
“This is Tracey Davis.” Greengrass said, bringing me back to reality. She gestured at her friend before her hand went back to herself, resting over her chest. “And I am Daphne Greengrass.”
“Adam Clarke.” I replied in kind, sharing a nod with the girl before continuing.
“Greengrass.” I said, pretending like the name was familiar to me. “I’ve heard that name before?”
“Yes.” I nodded. “That’s right; after I made the news a few times, I received letters— from families who wished to adopt me.”
“Oh!” Su said, eyes wide. “I remember that.”
“Me too.” Tony said.
“Yeah.” I said, gesturing at the Greengrass girl. “And I got one of those letters from your family.”
“So you have received my family’s invitation.” Daphne said. “I imagined that it was kept away from you.”
“Kept from me.” I repeated. “Why would that happen?”
Unless her family is up their necks into some nasty business… I thought, feeling wary.
Daphne shrugged. “Perhaps, knowing that you were already going to be adopted, it would be pointless to show you.”
She doesn’t sound very sure of that answer. I thought. What’s her family hiding?
I didn’t voice these thoughts out, of course. There was no need for me to draw her ire and turn her into an enemy.
“Well, you’re right.” I said. “It was a little pointless, since I’d already made my choice.”
“Who all invited you, anyway?” Tony asked, curiosity shining in his eyes.
“Well.” I turned my attention to Tony before stopping halfway and holding a finger up to Daphne. “The Greengrasses— Greengrass family? Clan?”
“House is the term, but my family isn’t a House.” Daphne said with a nod. “No one uses the term ‘Clan’ anymore.”
“Right.” I said, gathering myself. “Anyway. I got an invitation from the Greengrass family, one from the Goshawk family and a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head.”
“Wait.” Su said with wide eyes. “The Goshawk family? Mira?”
“Yep.” I said, nodding in confirmation. “Mira’s family. They sent me one, too.”
“Does Mira know?” Tony said and I replied with a shrug.
“I don’t really know.” I said, adjusting my position on my seat. “Probably not, though. Or she would have told me something.”
“Maybe she was embarrassed.” Tracey said.
“Could be.” I gave another shrug. “Professor Flitwick explained the process of those invitations to me— and honestly they sounded more like slavery contracts.”
“What?” Su said, her eyes widening. “Are you serious?”
I chanced a look towards Greengrass and noted that she was miffed.
Well, boo fucking hoo, princess. I thought savagely but kept my mouth shut.
“From the way it was explained to me.” I said. “It would place me in a position in which I’d be beholden to the whims of my guardian.”
There was a moment of silence before Tony talked.
“That just sounds like being part of a family.” He said. “Our parents decide things for us.”
“True.” I granted as much. “But it was said that I would have to complete tasks in response to the adoption. For example, the Goshawk family would likely have expected me to contribute to their Standard Book of Spells, among other things.”
“Oh…” Tony said.
“Surely they can’t force you?” Su said.
“Well, of course not.” I said with a smile. “I can’t be forced to do anything, but if I sign an agreement, I would like to honor it. And I’d rather not deal with that kind of pressure. Plus, like I said, it feels too much like slavery or indentured servitude.”
Said pressure would only be made worse by the family in question. I thought. Sirius, on the other hand, doesn’t give a crap about any of that.
“You shouldn’t really talk like that.” Tracey said in a small voice. “It’ll get you into trouble.”
I considered the girl’s words with a smile. “It might.”
“I wouldn’t take Tracey’s words lightly, Clarke.” Daphne added to the severe atmosphere. “Our traditions are important and a sacred part of our society. To tread upon them in this way…”
“Treading on them?” I said, repeating the words. “You misunderstand. I’m not treading on anyone’s traditions.”
“Then all you said about…” She stopped at my raised hand.
“How would you feel if I came to you and proceeded to impose my beliefs and values onto you?” I said. “Tried to make you do things you don’t agree with or believe in?”
Daphne turned quiet for a few moments before arguing again. “That’s different, though. This is our society.”
Oh, so it’s like that.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I’d heard this statement before in my previous life.
‘You come to our country, you live by our rules.’ Would be the statement I received, or variations thereof. I didn’t even necessarily disagree with the sentiment— my homeland from my previous life had been an obvious failure in terms of existing as a peaceful, respectful society.
This meant that its ways were not effective, and so I had acclimated to my new surroundings, while holding onto what I deemed to be truly good from the old.
This magical world was yet another new society I had joined, but one I deemed inferior to the modern one I’d come from. The muggle side of the world itself was still around thirty years behind the advancements and progress I’d witnessed.
The Wizarding World, even moreso.
“It is.” I ended up saying. “But— and I mean this with all due respect— it will take a long time for me to acclimate to this new society; even then, I highly doubt that I will ever be fully assimilated because of my parentage.”
Daphne pursed her lips, displeased but unable to gainsay me.
Being a Mudblood kind of leaves those doors closed, so she can’t possibly take the position that I have to assimilate even when I literally cannot.
The door opened abruptly, revealing the nice old lady with the trolley of snacks. “Anything from the trolley, dears?”
I eyed the contents of the trolley with a hungry gaze before making a request and getting up. “May I have three Chocolate Frogs?”
“Of course.” She gave a kind smile and fished out what I wanted from the depths of her cart. “That will be a Sickle and fifteen Knuts, dear.”
I fished into my pocket and gave the lady two Sickles, taking the chocolate frogs and the change. I turned to go back to my seat and had to shift to the left so I didn’t bowl Tracey over.
“Sorry!” She said.
“‘S fine.” I murmured and took a seat, handing Su and Tony a Chocolate Frog each while keeping one for myself.
“Not hungry.” Tony said, staring at his chocolate.
“Eat it later, then.” I said and opened mine up. The Chocolate Frog made a feeble attempt to escape but I caught it mid-leap before crunching down on its head. “I like killing these.”
“You know they’re not alive, right?”
“Hey, no.” I said, frowning. “Don’t ruin my murder fantasy, Tony.”
On the other side of the compartment, Daphne scoffed, though I could tell that she was trying not to smile as Tracey came back in and handed Daphne a liquorice wand.
A few minutes of quiet passed as I nibbled on my frog, my eyes turning to see the world displayed outside of the window. I watched the endless scenery of green until my eyes chanced upon a massive willow tree sitting comfortably besides a small pond.
That looks like a really nice place. I thought as I stared at it for as long as I could, before the train began to slowly turn away.
I remember first laying eyes on this very train I sat in, nearly a year ago. I had questioned so many things, back then; how the train worked, how it moved, but there was one question I never asked.
Why was it there, in the first place?
Considering the existence of Portkeys, the Floo, Apparition and brooms, it seemed a little strange that everyone was required to commute to Hogwarts by train. What if someone was born in Hogsmeade? Did they really have to go all the way to London just to board a train that takes them back to Hogsmeade?
Wizards. I thought, feeling incredulous. They can be absolutely insane, at times. Like I told Daphne just now, I’ll never be this nuts.
It was at that moment that I realized what I said, and winced. Hopefully, those words wouldn’t come back to haunt me in the future.
“On the previous note.” I said, breaking the silence and getting everyone’s attention again. “I lucked out with Sirius, honestly.”
“What do you mean?” Su said.
“Well.” I said. “He seemed like a genuinely good guy, and he probably won’t have any expectations of me, or anything like that.”
“But, he is a Black.” Daphne said between bites of her liquorice wand.
“So?” I said.
“House Black is a very old Pureblood family.” Tracey said, nodding. “And very traditional.”
A few passages describing Twelve Grimmauld Place came to mind. “I see. I’ll have to read up on them. House Black, huh?”
Ignoring the eyeroll and mutter of ‘Ravenclaws’ that came from Tracey, Daphne took over. “They are not a simple family, like the others. The House of Black is a Noble and Most Ancient one.”
You can almost feel the capitalization in those words. I thought and decided to ask her a question to feel her out. “And what does that mean? Noble and most ancient?”
Daphne blinked, not having expected it.
“It means…” Daphne said and paused. “It means that they’re a very old House; I’m not sure exactly how old they are, but I would say the House goes back a thousand years, or more.”
“A thousand years old.” Tony repeated. “That’s…”
“Like the British Royal family, then?” I said. “The House of Windsor can trace their lineage back at least a thousand years as well.”
“Yes.” Daphne said, though I saw her nose crinkle at the mention of the British Royalty.
Interesting reaction. I thought, but didn’t comment on it.
“Like them, the Black name commands a certain respect, even to this day.” Daphne finished. “And their last heir of the male line, Sirius Black, is to be your father. Considering your… parentage, are you not worried?”
I scoffed, sending the girl a smirk. “No. Sirius doesn’t care that I’m a Mudblood.”
Tracey choked on her food, while Daphne’s eyes widened at my use of the word.
“Adam!” Su said, sending me a frown of disapproval.
“What?” I said, shrugging while I kept my gaze on Daphne.
“You shouldn’t say that word.” Su said quietly, her words flying through the raised tension in the air and hitting my ears.
I didn’t answer immediately, content to have a staredown with Greengrass for a few moments longer before smiling and turning back to Su. “All right, I’ll try to use it less.”
“Not at all would be better.” Tony muttered, before looking at me. “Not that I think you’ll ever stop.”
“You know me.” I said. “The Adam train stops for no one.”
“But the Hogwarts Express will.” Tony said before grimacing. “It just happens to take all day, though.”
“…Want to play a game?” Tony said, perking everyone up within an instant.
He was met with a chorus of excited approval, the previous conversation completely forgotten by those involved.
Such was the power of fun.
4:30 PM, Platform 9 ¾, King’s Cross Station, London
“It was a pleasure sharing your compartment.” Daphne said, giving all three of us nods before she exited, followed by Tracey who did the same thing.
“Slytherins.” Tony muttered and I found that I agreed with him.
“They can be pretty ridiculous, at times.” I said as I fetched my things and followed my friends out of the train and into the increasingly large crowd standing outside.
In every direction, I saw kids embracing their parents with massive smiles on their faces, their gleeful, cheered voices combining together into a maelstrom of emotions that washed even my worst thoughts away.
I closed my right eye for a second, feeling overwhelmed by the sheer movement of everyone’s threads.
“Adam.” I heard Tony’s voice from beside me, bringing me back to reality. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah.” I said, play-wiping at my eye. “Got dirt in my eye, that’s all.”
“All right.” He said, but didn’t sound very convinced. He was about to say something else when he seemed to spot someone in the distance. “Mum!”
The boy bolted away, leaving myself and Su staring at him in bemusement. We followed him until we closed the gap and saw that he was already deep in the embrace of a tall brunette with a cherubic face and kind, blue eyes which raised at our approach.
“Are these your friends, Tony?” The woman said as the two parted.
“Yeah.” Tony said, almost tripping over himself as he took a step towards us. He gestured at Su, and then myself. “Mum, this is Su, and this is Adam.”
“Nice to meet you.” “Hello.” Su and I said.
The woman smiled as she took us both in, her eyes lingering on my own for a split second before she gathered herself. “It’s lovely to meet you two. I’m Amanda. Tony’s told us all about you, of course.”
“Oh?” Su said, surprised.
“Oh, yes.” I saw the woman’s eyes shine with mischievous mirth. “He can’t stop talking about you two, in fact.”
“Mum!” Tony said, his face gaining a light tinge of pink.
Amanda Goldstein gave a light giggle at that, and I felt a smile grace my face. “I’m only joking, of course.”
“Where’s dad?” Tony said, pushing past his embarrassment and looking up to his mother.
“Oh, he’s at work, love.” Amanda said, smiling. “But he should be home by the time we get back.”
“Oh!” Tony said, and I saw excitement kindle in his eyes for a few seconds before he turned to us. “I, uh…”
I smirked and held my fist out for him. He stared at it for a second before bumping it with his own.
“Next year.” Tony intoned in a solemn voice.
“Boys.” Su muttered.
“I heard that.” Tony said, turning to the girl with a smile.
“Good.” Su said, frowning at him. “I wasn’t trying to be quiet.”
And then she threw herself at the boy, hugging him tight.
“I, erm…” Tony said, patting her back a few times.
“Aww…” I said, drawing a glare from the boy.
“They’re so cute.” Amanda said in agreement.
“Mum!” The two disengaged so fast that I had to visibly repress the laughter that threatened to come out.
“Come along now, Tony.” Amanda said, her eyes alight with amusement as she turned to us one final time. “Thank you for taking care of my son. I’m glad he has such good friends.”
“He’s a great friend, too.” I said, and Tony’s glare softened before he smiled at us.
“See you soon!”
And we watched him go. I looked around, noting that the crowd was lessening in size as parents started leaving the station through its various exits.
“There you are!” Two voices called out from different directions, one familiar, and the other not; though, judging by Su’s reaction, I imagined it was familiar to her.
“Mum!” Su called out and ran to someone to my right. I would have followed her gaze, but I turned my attention to Harry, who was accompanied by a man who I assumed to be Sirius Black.
“Mr. Black?” I said, eyes wide with surprise. “Is that really you?”
“That’s what I thought, too.” Sirius Black said as he approached me, looking nothing like he had before. Gone were the rags, the grime and the emaciated figure— before me now stood a man in his prime.
Now that he was able to properly put weight on his legs, Sirius stood at six foot two. His hair, which had clung to him back then, was now a silky, lustrous black. His grey eyes met my own and widened in shock.
“Harry said that something happened to your eye.” Sirius said, stopping in front of me with a sad look upon his face, which turned more so at the sight of the burn scars on my hand. “And your hand… Caused by him.”
Somehow, I figured he wasn’t referring to Harry.
“Yeah.” Was all I could say in response.
“You faced him.” Sirius said. “And Harry did, too.”
“And you beat him.”
I frowned. “It’s a little more complicated than that, but sure.”
“I look forward to hearing the story, then.” Sirius said, wincing at his own realization. “In three weeks, anyway.”
I smiled at that. “They finally gave you a proper date?”
“Yes.” Sirius said, though his eyes flitted towards something behind me. “Three weeks and you’ll be out of that orphanage, kid— one way or the other.”
“That sounds…” I turned away from Sirius to see what he was looking at and had to stop myself from gaping.
Walking beside Su was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever laid my eyes on. With pale skin and silky black hair reaching down to her shoulders, the woman made her way to us, exchanging words with Su.
My eyes took in the way her hips moved in that beige pencil skirt and her red high heels before I forced myself to look up. I lingered for a moment on her tight, white blouse and then raised my eyes to her perfectly chiseled face, meeting her smoldering black eyes, which were now trained on us.
“…Gorgeous.” I finished lamely.
Holy shit, Su was not kidding when she said her mom was a model. I lowered my gaze to Su, who was totally oblivious to what was happening.
“You can say that again, kid.” Sirius said, patting me on the back before clearing his throat to get our attention. “Consider this your first lesson from me, boys. Stay cool.”
I swallowed and nodded.
“Right.” Harry said from beside me. I threw him a glance and realized that he was looking incredibly nervous. Poor kid didn’t know what was going to hit him.
It’s just Su’s mom. I told myself, pushing my own nervousness down and turning to meet her. How bad could it be?