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June 25, 1992, 7:00 AM

Adam Clarke

I shifted in my bed, turning away from the beaming sunlight which was shining so bright that it penetrated my eyelids. And yet, even from this position, something didn’t feel right.

Probably nothing. I thought and cradled a rather fluffy pillow. Burying my face deeper into it, I realized that it smelled a lot like fresh lavender.

Come to think of it… I thought as my brain began to wake up and connect a few dots together. This bed is extremely comfortable as well. Reminds me of mine from Hogwarts.

My Hogwarts bed had been so comfortable in comparison to any other bed in which I had lain, both current and previous life, that it had been hell to sleep in the orphanage beds for the first night back.

But maybe I’m getting used to the feel of it? I thought and shifted around the bed, looking for the spot with the spring that would dig into my back.

I never found it.

My eyes opened as soon as that realization hit, and then proceeded to widen with what I saw.

“What…” I murmured before stopping to swallow, feeling my mouth go dry as I took my surroundings in. I was on a spacious, queen-sized bed with sheets as white as can be. The room’s walls were an egg-shell beige, giving the room a warm look. To my front, there was a dresser and vanity set, in which I saw my own reflection, staring back at me.

My eyes flitted away from the reflection, past the closed door and settled onto the source of light; a set of large windows framed by two tied drapes of deep burgundy, adding a mild, red tint to everything around them.

Outside, I could only see massive fields of green, and a medium sized pond which shimmered under the rising sun. The reflected sunlight hit my eyes, forcing me to turn away and scrunch them shut.

“Where am I…?” I said after a few moments. Thoughts of rest and sleep were far gone from my mind, instead replaced by wariness and fear.

My mind scrambled to make sense of current events. The last thing I remembered was going to sleep on my lumpen, uncomfortable bed, wishing I were already out of the orphanage.

Be careful what you wish for. I thought, anxiety mingling with amusement in equal measures and distracting me for a few seconds before I forced myself to focus.

I went through my pockets, looked over the stand beside my bed and realized that my ebony wand was nowhere to be found.

I ignored the mountain of anxiety, closed my eyes, took a deep breath to center myself, and opened them again.

Calm and collected, Zero. Stay focused. I thought to myself. You’re in an unfamiliar room, in an unfamiliar place. The first step is to get your bearings, and find a workable weapon to use.

I nodded to myself and, as quietly as I could manage, swung out of bed to begin searching the room for anything useful.

The drawers from within the stand and the dresser were filled with nothing but sheets, pillowcases, covers and the like.

There was no sign of my wand or anything I could make use of or fashion as a weapon. Gritting my teeth with mild frustration, I continued to search the room before giving up on step one and going to the window, instead.

If I can’t fight my way out of here, I can try to escape, instead. I thought. Step two.

A quick downwards glance, however, showed that an escape attempt would be tricky, as I seemed to be on the fourth floor of this house. More like a mansion, to be honest. Never seen a normal house this wide and large. This is crazy.

A drop from this height was sure to shatter everything from the waist down— that’s if I didn’t fall in a way that broke my neck or cracked my head like an egg.

If I had my wand, I would have been able to turn the ground into a more sponge-like surface or perhaps slowed my downward momentum so I’d be able to touch down without a scratch and run as fast as my legs could take me.

The sound of creaking wood interrupted my thoughts, and my head snapped towards the doorway. I realized it was coming out of there and recognized the sound for what it was: someone was about to pay me a special visit.

Shit. shit. I thought and looked around, my eyes flying wildly from one spot to the next. What should I do?

My eyes flew to the room’s door, as well as the window, a hasty plan formulating in the heat of my overwhelming desperation.

This is fucking stupid. I thought as I set things up.

“Wakey wakey…” I heard a man’s voice laughing as the sound of jingling keys was heard. Wasting no time, I flung the windows open, letting them bang loudly against the wooden walls of this structure.

“Wha—” The man from the other side said in bewilderment as he seemingly struggled to insert the key in the lock. I took advantage of his blundering and hid myself under the bed.

I had expected the bottom to be filthy as can be, but the wooden floor was spotless. Even in the homes of the most obsessive compulsive people, it was still possible to find a few imperfections in their work, due to them being humans.

To err was human, after all.

This, of course, meant that the floor I was prone on was cleaned with the Scouring Charm. It was possible that I was wrong about this, but coupling this with my missing wand seemed to paint a picture which was in keeping with my conclusion.

A Muggle wouldn’t have taken my wand from me, so this must mean that I was taken by a wizard. I thought, edging away from the light and keeping myself nestled in the darkness of the bed, beneath. Who, what, when, where and why?

I didn’t have time to ponder any of these questions when the door to the chamber finally swung open. I slowed my breathing and watched a pair of thin legs from my vantage point make their way into the room.

Judging from what I saw, this person was wearing a set of robes, confirming that I was indeed in a wizard’s residence.

I banished away any thought on who this could possibly be and what his motivations were. I had one objective here, and one objective alone:

Escape at any cost. I thought and drove all thoughts away, listening to the man intently as he rushed towards the open window.

“Did he jump!?” I heard the wild exclamation as he passed me by. I crawled out from under the bed, doing my best to be both silent and swift, and counted my lucky stars that the man hadn’t felt me coming, so distracted by his worry, he was.

The man bent over, looking down before turning his gaze left and right, checking to see if I was clinging onto the house railing, or perhaps attempting to climb to the roof before turning back inside.

He looked down at me with surprise that lasted long enough for me to kick him in the balls. Hard.

The wizard’s eyes bugged out as he fell down, letting go of his wand to clutch his family jewels. I snatched it before he could even react and felt a trickle of lukewarm energy coming from the wand.

Wincing at the damn-near rejection, I nevertheless pointed the magical focus at the man. “Silencio.

I felt the wand fight the spell for an instant before it conceded to my furious anger and indomitable will. The unnamed wizard opened his mouth and tried to call for help, only for nothing to happen.

The man lunged towards me, but nothing would’ve happened to me even if I hadn’t taken a few steps back, as he stopped mid-lunge to cradle his now-oversensitive groin. It would have been funny had this not have been a life or death situation.

I tapped my wand against the open door. “Colloportus.”

The door closed and locked itself with an audible click before I turned to the man who was finally starting to recover from his injury. He got up and rushed me again, hoping to bowl me over before I could get a spell out.

I dove to the left, nearly crashing into the dresser and instead tripping and falling onto the bed. I rolled to the other side and brought the stolen wand to bear. “Flipendo.

The Knockback Jinx crashed into the man as he went over the bend and laid him out on it, buying me enough time to cast another spell.

Petrificus Totalus.” I incanted, blasting the man with purple light and snapping his arms and legs together, freezing him on the spot.

The man’s eyes stared at me with panic as I turned him so that he was lying on his back.

“Now…” I said quietly as I approached the man’s face, pressing my wand against his neck. “I am in a very sour mood after waking up in a strange place I most definitely shouldn’t be in. So I’m going to ask you a series of questions, o kidnapper. Is that clear?”

The man didn’t answer, and I realized he was unable to move anything but his eyes.

“Move your eyes from left to right if it’s clear.”

The man did so.

“Good. Good.” I said, nodding slightly as I cast my next spell, hoping to keep the man’s limbs immobilized without rendering him unable to speak.

I moved my wand in a spiral and focused. “Odgovor.

The wand gave a feeble sputter of silver light before it died. I frowned and gave the man a look. “Your wand really doesn’t like me, you know. What the Hell is it made out of?”

This was ridiculous; I was supposed to have gained this wand’s allegiance through the impromptu fight, but it was still fighting me every step of the way. If this were Ollivander’s store, I imagined that this wand would be one he’d have snatched out of my hands before I even had the chance to wave it.

Maybe I needed to Disarm him or specifically kill him? I thought. Wand lore is fucking strange.

“No matter.” I said and opened the drawers, pulling out a few thick sheets. “The old-fashioned way, it is.”

It took a few minutes, but with the help of a few basic spells— Thank God this wand isn’t fighting me with those spells— I had the man hogtied and at my mercy. 

“Just to reiterate.” I said as I prepared to lift the Full-Body Bind Curse and the Silencing Charm from the man. “If you so much as do anything other than answer my questions in a low voice, I am going to cut your dick and balls off and shove them down your throat. “Are we clear? Left to right for yes.”

The man’s eyes widened at the threat before they went from left to right.

“All right.” I said and tapped my wand against his forehead. “Finite.

The first sound that came out of the man’s mouth was a shout.

“In here! He’s awake! He’s—” His voice cut away again when I cast the Silencing Charm on him, hoping that no one heard it.

“I warned you, didn’t I?” I said, eyes flashing with anger at the man’s frenzied attempt to escape his tight bindings. “I told you what would happen if you disobeyed me.”

“To be fair.” A voice said from behind me, and I froze on the spot for a moment before I swiveled to face it, jabbing my wand forward with a curse on my lips.

I didn’t get to finish the spell; instead, I was sent tumbling to the left, the stolen wand flying out of my hand as I slammed against the bottom of the stand, feeling a sharp pain lance through my back.

Groaning and feeling mildly disoriented, I turned my gaze up to see a tall, blonde man looking down at me.

“To be fair.” The man spoke again in a German accent, his striking blue eyes staring down at me as his aged, yet hearty face twisted into an expression of amusement. “Had he disobeyed me, he would have found the consequences to have been far worse than castration, young Mr. Clarke.”

I pushed myself up and kept my gaze trained on the man before me, even as I heard a commotion coming from the other side.

With a negligent wave of his wand, the door to the room opened, revealing a few more people who froze at the sight of the man before me. 

“Mr. Grindelwald!” One said, and my eyes widened at the name. “We heard—”

“Yes.” Gellert Grindelwald said, tilting his head slightly to their direction and giving them a small nod before focusing on me again. “Our new guest had a bit of a rude awakening, but everything is well in hand. You may go.”

“Of course, sir.” Another said and began to shoo everyone away, closing the door behind him and leaving me alone with Grindelwald— and the hogtied guy beside us.

“Ah, yes.” Gellert turned to the hogtied man and tapped his wand against the bindings, Vanishing them. Another wave, and the man could speak again.

“Thank you, Mr. Grindelwald. I canno—”

“Leave the room.” Grindelwald cut through the man’s gratitude, making his eyes widen with fear even as the man took the offered wand back. “To have been beaten by a child with no wand… It seems you are in need of further training, Mr. Hans. Report with our cadets to Mr. Rafiq in the afternoon.”

The man gulped and sounded like he had something to say, but forced it down. He left the room, giving Grindelwald a bow as he did so.

“Now…” Gellert said, turning his attention back onto me. “Mr. Adam Clarke. We meet at last.”

I didn’t say anything, instead staring at the man and trying to wrap my head around it all.

I was kidnapped by Gellert fucking Grindelwald. The thought ran through my mind over and over. What the Hell? Why?

My eyes flitted from the man to the exit again. Even now, despite the hopelessness of the situation, I was looking for a way out.

“Do not worry, Mr. Clarke.” Gellert said, opening his arms slightly as a sign that he was welcoming me here. “You are in no danger under my protection.”

“Your protection.” I said, confused by his choice of words. What was he on about?

“So he speaks.” Gellert said, a small smile playing at his lips— and that’s when I noticed it; the man looked a lot younger than what even the pictures in the Daily Prophet had shown. True, much like Sirius, the man would have improved his health after his stint in prison, but to regain color in his hair, among other things?

It could only be one thing. He has access to a Philosopher’s Stone?

“You are probably wondering why it is that I’ve brought you here, Mr. Clarke.” Gellert said, waving his wand and conjuring a set of chairs for us to sit on. He gestured towards the one beside me. “Please, sit.”

Seeing no other way out of this aside from engaging him, I did as he said, banishing the previous thoughts out of my mind.

“Very good.” Gellert said, taking a seat as well. He didn’t say anything for a moment, but he tried to meet my eyes. I focused my gaze on anywhere but there, unwilling to be attacked by Legilimency.

Then again… I thought. If I let him look into my eyes, I could just let the void destroy him.

I was about to look down into his eyes when I stopped, seeing the thread above him twirling like the flowing clothes of a belly dancer before freezing in place. I’d never seen a thread moving like that before.

“Interesting.” Gellert said, breaking through my thoughts as he pointed at the thin thread above him. “So, you can see this.”

My mind blanked at yet another earth shattering realization. They just keep coming, don’t they?

What’s next; did Grindelwald have access to the void, as well?

“Tell me.” He said, looking at me with a good deal more interest than he had before. “How is it that you’ve gained this ability to see the strings?”

“I…” I said, trying to find my footing again. “Something happened to me a few weeks ago.”

The man’s eyes brightened with a spark of recognition. “Ah yes, I heard tell of some events occurring at Albus’ school while he was facing me in battle. You were there?”

I opened my mouth before closing it.

“Seeing as your eye has turned white, like mine.” Grindelwald raised a finger to his own white, right eye. “I imagine that you must have been near the brink of death. You have seen the Lighthouse, then?”

First Voldemort, and now Grindelwald. I thought and nodded quietly.

“And since you are still alive, you must have brought yourself back, somehow.” Gellert continued, nodding to himself. “How intriguing, Mr. Clarke. Intriguing, indeed.”

“Is that why you brought me here?” I said, trying to change the subject. I wasn’t going to tell him a thing, no matter how peaceable and interested he looked. “To ask about the Lighthouse?”

Gellert shook his head, waving his wand before putting it away. A few seconds passed with nothing happening, and so I opened my mouth to speak.

“No.” He said, talking before I could. “I was intrigued by you, Mr. Clarke. I had first heard of you when I received a visit from an English Auror— Auror Hope, I believe?”

I fidgeted in place, recognizing the name. It belonged to the woman who had been leading the inquest at Hogwarts.

“I see the name has meaning to you.” Grindelwald said, giving a placid smile at my reaction. “Likely that she led the cohort of Aurors to inquire on what happened that fateful day.”

Was he talking about the events in which I killed an Auror by accident, or the clash I had with Quirrell? I kept my mouth shut. In either case, it would have been unwise to answer.

If he was hoping I was going to give him any information, he was sorely mistaken. Best to let him keep talking.

My patience paid off, as he resumed the conversation without digging any further.

“Of course, I had expected the student who had caused the death of an Auror to be a little… older.” He said, ignoring my tight-lipped demeanor. “This makes things all the more impressive— and that you did it using a Shield Charm, well… You could say I was intrigued.”

“You broke out of prison because I intrigued you?” The words came out without my say.

Grindelwald looked at me in a mixture of amusement and condescension. “Do not give yourself too much credit, Mr. Clarke. True, you intrigued me, but it was one of many reasons— I had been waiting for an opportune moment to enact my plans, and the news of a budding prodigy from Hogwarts seemed to spell the start of a new era; a perfect time to make my move.”

A few moments passed as I absorbed the man’s words. Had he always been planning to break out?

Perhaps he had been planning for a final hurrah in the original story, but Dumbledore’s death had broken him.

It felt so long ago now, but I still remembered Voldemort’s meeting with Grindelwald in the original story. To say that the man had been a shadow of his former self would have been an understatement. I doubted that shell of a man could have hurt an ant, let alone caused the sort of damage he’d done in this world.

He could deny it all he liked, but my existence had caused Grindelwald to do everything he did, even if I was just the straw that broke the camel’s back— or in this case, Grindelwald’s patience.

“The discovery that you possess an ability just like mine; that’s the… icing on the cake, as it were.” Grindelwald said, nodding once before getting up abruptly and moving to leave. “Come, Mr. Clarke. You must be hungry.”

I blinked at him once, twice, before making my decision.

I’ll play along with your game for now, Grindelwald. I thought, following him out of the room. But the first chance I get, I’m out of here.

Though, I could not deny that there was a part of me that was… intrigued by the man.

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