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July 5, 1992, 8:00 AM, Phoenix’ Roost

Adam Clarke

“Clarke.” A few people nodded my way as I walked through the halls of the large mansion, making my way towards the mess hall to break my fast.

I rolled my neck a few times, smiling when I got a very satisfying pop for my trouble.

Last night… I thought, resisting the urge to transform my smile into a grin as I gave a few more people nods of greeting. Was pretty good.

It had been so long since I’d attended a party of that nature, over a decade even. Of course, everyone around me did their best to keep the alcohol away from me, seeing I was still twelve.

Except Diallo; the guy kept sneaking me some watered wine just to piss Wagner off. The number of times the woman caught the guy and tore into him…

Guy’s a fucking trooper. I thought as I stopped for a moment to stare out into the grounds.

It was a part of my morning routine; before going to the recruit training area, I would stand here for a little while and just let myself zone out. It was a long tradition I’d begun in my previous life, and don’t ask me why, but it seemed to help sharpen my mind for the day to come.

Not that there’ll be any training today. I thought with a half smirk before resuming my trip. I rather doubt that anyone is sober enough for that.

“Mr. Clarke!” I heard someone call out from behind me and stopped. I turned to see one of the officers, an old woman whose facial expression was permanently set in the likeness of someone who’d swallowed a lemon, walking over.


“Mr. Grindelwald has called for you.” Her voice was clipped as she turned and led the way without waiting for me to absorb her words. “Come.”

I frowned, a little annoyed at the fact that I would be missing breakfast, but followed her all the same. “Fine.”

The trip through the halls went in complete silence. I didn’t bother breaking it as we went up the long set of stairs, realizing that this lady likely would not take well to any attempts at small talk. Reminds me of me when I’m in a bad mood— but she gives off the impression that this is her baseline state. Can’t imagine being that miserable, twenty-four-seven.

Luckily, the episode of oppressive silence soon ended as we reached Grindelwald’s solar; the officer opened the door and began to speak. “Mr. Grindelwald, I’ve brought Mr. Clarke here, as requested.”

“Ah yes.” Gellert’s voice came from behind a stack of papers on the desk as we entered the premises. He looked up from the paper and gave the woman a nod of gratitude. “Thank you, Agnes. That will be all.”

The witch reciprocated with a nod of her own before turning and walking away without another word, closing the door behind her.

“Pleasant woman.” I said in the following silence.

“Oh, not at all.” Grindelwald said, his lips quirking with amusement as he shook his head. “But what she lacks in… people skills, she makes up for it with a brilliant, strategic mind. One of my best, in fact.”

“Is that so…” I said, keeping my voice light as I moved closer to his desk. “Why have you called me here?”

Grindelwald stopped what he was doing and actually looked at me. “Agitated?”

“Tends to happen when you’re hungry and missing breakfast.”

“I suppose it is to be expected.” Gellert said. “Perhaps I should have something brought over?”

I waved his words away, not wanting to complicate things. “I’ll just go grab something later. No big deal.”

“That’s the issue.” Grindelwald said, reaching for a folded up roll of parchment off to his right. He held it up to me, saying nothing else.

Eyes narrowing slightly, I took the offered bit of parchment and read it over:

Paperwork filed faster than expected. Sirius Black expected to arrive in the afternoon.

I read the words over again and nodded, folding the letter back and placing it on the table. “I see.”

“Indeed.” Grindelwald said, neither looking regretful nor excited. “Though there is still a decent window of time, it would be best not to waste it.”

I nodded, agreeing with the man’s logic. It would indeed be poor judgment if I fucked around and wasted valuable time; for all I know, Sirius could arrive a few hours early and realize something is off.

That was certainly a situation I wished to avoid.

I mean. Part of me argued. I know that I could always play the ‘hostage’ card, if push comes to shove, but would I really be able to hide the fact that I’ve grown to respect quite a few of the people here?

I thought of Elena, Diallo and Wagner. I thought of Amy and Vanessa. Hell, even that douchebag Guffries came to mind; much as I disliked him, the guy was a product of the trauma he endured— no matter how unjustified his actions were.

The fact of the matter was, he would have turned out completely normal had Lockhart not done what he did to the guy’s father.

“To that end, I have called you here.” Gellert continued, either not noticing or outright ignoring my inner monologue. “One final talk between us, as it were. Well, two things, actually.”

He tapped his index on some parchment a couple of times before steepling his fingers. “But we’ll get to this in a moment. Please, sit.”

I looked down at the parchment obscured by his arms for a few moments before giving up and turning my attention to the man himself as I took a seat in front of him.

He stared at me long enough to make it uncomfortable before he started speaking again. “I’m sure you remember a conversation we had nearly two weeks ago?”

My eyes narrowed as I searched my recent memories before nodding. He wouldn’t have brought me over to talk about anything else. “The threads of fate. Or, am I wrong?” 

Gellert shook his head. “Oh, no. You are most certainly right.”

“…” I pursed my lips, realizing that this was going to be a heavy topic. “So… What about them?”

“I’ve taken the liberty of examining my own memories and experience of the… Abyss, as you called it.” Grindelwald said, not breaking his gaze from me. “And I don’t believe that you are right.”

I tilted my head in confusion and leaned forward; my curiosity was now officially piqued. “What do you mean? Right about…”

“As you recall, you disagreed with me on the nature of the threads.” Gellert said. “You believe that they do not dictate our fate, but that we, as people, do; and that the threads shift in kind to accommodate our free will.”

I nodded, not knowing where he was going with this. “Go on.”

“And yet…” Grindelwald said, blinking slowly as his gaze drifted off to the right, the sign of someone going through their memories. “I saw something quite strange. Very strange, indeed.”

He went silent, placing his hands down on the table and saying nothing further.

“Well? What did you see?” I said, but the man only shook his head in response.

“I do not wish to say, but I recommend that you revisit your memories, Mr. Clarke.” Gellert said. “And watch closely. Very closely.”

Watch closely.” I repeated slowly, wondering why he wasn’t just answering my question. “Why the mystery? You know you could just tell me, right?”

Gellert smirked at that. “I don’t believe that I can. You, Adam Clarke, are a headstrong, young man. You believe your view of the world is the correct one, and anyone who challenges that is generally not seen in the best of light.”

“I…” I said before I was cut off by the man raising his hand. I closed my mouth, holding whatever sarcastic response I had back.

“My words are not meant as an offense or as an insult to your character.” Grindelwald said. “A person should have strong core values and beliefs, after all. That is the nature of humanity.”

I nodded, somewhat mollified by the man’s statement. “Best to find the answer on my own without any outside interference— is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

“That is it, exactly.” Grindelwald said in approval. “It would be pointless for me to tell you a single thing, for my words will be met with over-skepticism; a natural response. A wizard must question everything, even his existing beliefs; only then can he ever discern the true nature of the world around him.”

There was nothing I could say to refute that.

“I suppose you’re right about that.” I conceded the point. “I’ll revisit my memories, then. Don’t think I’ll find anything, but it wouldn’t hurt to give them a closer look.”

“Good.” Grindelwald said, giving me the first real smile since the meeting began. “Very good. Your perception is going to be tested, but I believe that you will look beyond yourself and see the forces at play in the background.”

That’s a very specific choice of words. I thought.

“Never took you for a philosopher.” I said, leaning back in my chair and relaxing as the atmosphere lightened.

“Over four decades in prison with nothing but books to read and one’s own thoughts to run wild… Well, you can see the result for yourself.” Grindelwald said.

“Why’d you never break out?” The question came out of my mouth before I could help myself. 

The man only shook his head in amusement and looked at me, as if to say: “do you really think I’m going to answer that?”

“Now.” He clapped his hands in a way reminiscent of Rafiq. “Onto our other business.”

My eyes flew towards the parchment sitting under his hands.

“Yes.” He said, placing his right hand upon the parchment and pushing it forward to me with deliberate slowness. “This… is for you.”

“All right.” I said, looking at it for another second before taking the document in hand. “And this is…?”

Grindelwald didn’t say a word, instead raising his mismatched eyes to meet my own.

Of course he isn’t saying a thing. I thought in mild annoyance, taking it in hand and reading through it. A contract… Basically a nondisclosure agreement, then?

I nodded to myself even as I continued to read. “So I’ll be agreeing not to ‘reveal’ any information I’ve gained from here to anyone; that seems a little too restrictive and vague. No?”

“Keep reading.”

I frowned and continued before nodding with a look of realization. “Oh; I see, a list of exceptions… fighting knowledge and so forth. Better.”

Grindelwald indulged me as I went over the document twice more before noticing something strange.

I focused my gaze on the piece of paper, unaware of Grindelwald’s building interest.

“This is…” I said, running my finger over the parchment and seeing a small line of reddish white trailing behind it. “Interesting.”

I looked up from the paper. “May I?”

Grindelwald nodded, gesturing with an open hand. “Of course.”

Reaching into my pocket, I slowly drew my wand and set the document down on the desk. Pressing it lightly atop the parchment, I began to focus my intent to reach into the parchment itself and suss out its secrets. Inspicere Empiricus.

My eyes unfocused as my brain was forced to accommodate the sudden influx of information.

A second later, I felt the strands tied to the paper come alive and latch onto me. Spikes of pain began to drive themselves into my head, the effect echoing across my nervous system for a split second before I flinched away, breaking the spell off.

“What…” I moved back into my seat, making space between me and the contract as if it was going to attack me without provocation.

There was a moment of pure quiet before Grindelwald broke the silence. “That… Was intriguing. Are you all right, Mr. Clarke?”

It took me a few seconds to register that he’d even spoken.

“I…” I said and stowed my wand away, feeling my hand quivering. “Never had that happen before. It was almost like… Almost like the Cruciatus. But weaker, more like an echo of it.”

“You would be correct.” Grindelwald said.

I absorbed his comment for a moment before my anger flared up. I glared at the man. “And you want me to sign this?”

“Don’t you think…” Grindelwald’s tone remained calm, though it gained a dangerous edge. “That the many wizards and witches who reside here deserve to have their identities protected?”

“I—” I said and closed my mouth for a few moments, his tone breaking through what I was about to say. I rallied myself together as I shook my head, warding off his argument. “You invited Malfoy and his cronies to your very doorstep; what stops them from saying anything to anyone and endangering you all?”

“You are laboring under the assumption that they haven’t signed similar pacts with us, and vice versa.”

I raised my finger to reply, only to lower it. I hadn’t expected a response like that.

“You are, of course, free to refuse to sign this contract. I will not force you to.” Grindelwald said, breaking the awkward silence and opening his arms as a show of peace. “However, your memories of this place will simply be removed, in response. I’m sure you are familiar with the existence of Memory Charms, at least?”

“I know they can be botched and lead to some horrible, long-term effects—  including but not limited to death.” I said, remembering my chat with Guffries the day before. “So I’m not really being given much of a choice, am I?”

“And what would you suggest, Mr. Clarke?” Grindelwald said.

“You know, you could just let me go.” I said, though I knew this wasn’t something I could hope to get.

Grindelwald only seemed amused by this. “Let you go…? I am quite old, and so I’m not familiar with what’s currently humorous for the youths of today— but that was not even remotely funny, Mr. Clarke.”

My ire rose some more. “You’re the one who brought me here against my will in the first place! And now you want to either wipe my memory or make me sign a contract that’ll put me under the Cruciatus?”

“You have read the contract.” Grindelwald said, looking at me like I was stupid. “Surely we are not asking for much? We wish to keep our identities, as well as our locations secret.”

I only glared at him in response, unwilling to concede.

“As I have told you earlier.” Grindelwald said. “You are indeed a headstrong young man, and unwilling to compromise on his beliefs. That sort of conviction is something I can respect.”

Then he stood, and the expression on his face turned into something I’d only seen him display on the papers— his game face. “But on this matter I’m the one who will not compromise.”

“You will only leave Phoenix’ Roost in one of two ways.” He pushed the paper back towards me before floating a quill over before me. “You either sign this contract, or I will remove the memories of your experiences, here and now. Make your choice, or it will be made for you.”

I bit down on my anger, realizing that this wasn’t something I could talk my way out of. I sighed, realizing what I had to do. I suppose it was always going to come to this.

“Fine.” I said, taking the quill in hand and reaching for the inkpot, only to be held back by the man’s raised hand.

“You will not need any ink.”

“A Blood Quill…?” I said, frowning. “A pact made with blood, then.”

“Indeed.” Was all Grindelwald said. “It will only hurt for a moment.”

“Right…” I said and stared down the paper one last time.

I could choose to be Obliviated. Part of me said. All memory of this place will be gone, and I can just keep living my life the way I want. All I’ll remember is a hazy blur of boredom from the orphanage.

If I did that, though, I would be blind to what was going on. I wouldn’t know that Lucius had allied himself with Grindelwald, or that he was the money behind the soon-to-be started Daily Herald. I’d forget about Amy, as well as Vanessa and her offer of inducting me into the ranks of her Clan.

Could I truly agree to having my memories wiped like that— even if there were no long-term, negative effects from the act?

No. I realized in the end as I wrote my name on the parchment, feeling an unpleasant and odd scratching sensation come over the back of my hand. I can’t. There’s too much to lose.

“You may not see it yet…” Grindelwald said, giving me a nod as he leveled his wand at me. “But you have made the right decision. Goodbye Mr. Clarke; when you wake, it will be in the orphanage again, but you will not be there for long.”

I nodded, staying silent. What else was there to say?


A jet of red light, and I was no more.


July 5, 1992, 1:00 PM, The Orphanage Of Pity, Warminster, England

Sirius Black

Dreary and bleak; these were the first thoughts that came to Sirius’ mind when he first laid his eyes upon this place.

Still. Sirius thought as he slowly made his way towards the front door, hearing the sound of children playing. This place produced someone like Adam, and he’s essentially the one who got me out of prison, so it can’t be all bad.

A small tremor passed through his body as Sirius recalled his long, seemingly endless days in Azkaban. The Dementors had laid him low, eating away at his happiness— bit by bit— until he was almost as unhinged and deranged as the other prisoners.

But he’d held on with everything he had.

He’d stayed strong, just like James and Lily had when their time had come. He fought back against it all, and knowing that he was innocent wasn’t something the Dementors could take away from him.

It gave him a certain measure of control in an otherwise chaotic, horrible situation.

However, even with all of that, Sirius knew that he likely wouldn’t have lasted for much longer. His hope had long since dwindled away, replaced by endless despair— he may have lasted for a couple more years, perhaps five.

I guess I’ll never know. He said, pushing such thoughts away and focusing on the present. Not that it matters. Clarke brought hope back into my life. I can right what went wrong, and give Harry the home he deserves.

The door to the orphanage opened, revealing a familiar face. It was the woman he’d seen on the day he’d gone to pick Harry up from Platform 9 ¾; Jasmine, her name was? He couldn’t remember.

“Ah, you’ve arrived.” The woman said, extending her hand.

Sirius took it and gave the woman an easy smile. “Sirius Black, at your service.”

He stifled the urge to smirk when he saw the woman doing her best to hide the blush that rose on her cheeks. Still got it.

“Jennifer Layton— we’ve met before, though I suppose it was a chaotic day.” She said. “Everyone just calls me Miss Jenny.”

So that’s her name. Sirius thought and gave her a nod. “Miss Jenny, it is.”

She smiled again before shaking her head and heading back to the door, gesturing for him to follow. “Adam is still preparing his things to go, but first, we’ll have to go through the formalities. Is that all right?”

Sirius nodded in response and went in after her. The door closed behind him, but Sirius ignored it, instead casting an eye over his surroundings. Figured it’d be nice on the inside at least. Doesn’t seem to be the case.

To be fair, there were a few motivational cartoon posters here and there, but the paint on the walls looked old and almost peeling in places. The furniture, he was convinced, was made in Dumbledore’s time, though they seemed sturdy enough, he supposed.

Jenny led the man up the stairs and down a few hallways until they reached a small office. “Here we are.”

Sirius gave the woman a polite smile as she held the door open for him. “Thank you.”

The room was something out of a bureaucratic nightmare. Tall filing cabinets lined all of the walls, and at the center of the room was a small desk that seemed to be struggling under the weight of a mountain of papers.

“Please, have a seat, Mr. Black.” Jenny said as she bustled about in the office, filing a few folders and opening the window to let the summer breeze in. “Apologies for the mess. There’s always so much to do…”

“It’s no problem.” Sirius said. “Never liked paperwork.”

“Never met anyone who does, either.” Jenny said, agreeing with him as she leafed through a drawer, and then another. 

“Didn’t know you took care of the kids and the paperwork.” He said, adjusting his position on the uncomfortable chair as he watched the woman fly from one side of the room to the other. “Must be exhausting.”

“It is.” She said, stopping what she was doing to send him a glance from the corner of her eye. “It really is. But the kids are worth it.”

Sirius exhaled. He hadn’t been a parent to Harry for very long, but even he had begun to realize just how profound the experience was. Taking care of someone else was never something he’d imagined himself he would be doing when he was younger, but now that he’d had close to a month living with Harry, he saw the appeal.

“Yes, I suppose they are.” Sirius said, keeping his voice quiet.

Whether the woman heard him or not, Sirius didn’t know, as she bustled around the office for half a minute longer before she finally sat herself down in front of him, a folder in her hands. “Again, apologies for the delay.”

“It’s fine.” Sirius waved her off again before looking around. “Adam doesn’t need to be here to do this?”

Jenny smiled and opened the folder, producing a piece of paper. “Verbal agreement is usually enough, but Adam’s made sure to sign the papers, as well. Though, he has asked one thing of you.”


“Normally, the children opt to retain their own surname at birth, but Adam wishes to take on the surname ‘Black’.” Jenny said, her expression morphing into an awkward one. “I hope that isn’t a problem.”

But Sirius only shook his head and smiled. “Sounds good, though… Adam Clarke has a better ring to it, don’t you think?”

A Muggleborn with the Black name. He thought with no small amount of amusement. That would certainly stir a few of the families up.

“Funny.” Jenny said, getting a strange look in her eyes. “Adam said the exact same thing…”

“Great minds think alike, after all.” Sirius said and got a laugh out of the woman, who slid the piece of paper over to him, as well as a pen.

“Just sign there, over the dotted line, Mr. Black. Yes, there exactly.”

Sirius signed his name with a flourish, before holding out the pen to her. Jenny shook her head, though. “You need to sign somewhere two more pages in, and again at the very last page.”

Sirius resisted the urge to groan and flipped through the pages, signing where she indicated before finally handing her back the paperwork.

Jenny went through it all with a critical eye, writing a few things here and there before going back to the first page and pressing a small stamp which said “APPROVED” on it.

“And here we are.” She said, splitting the papers into two sets, one of which she handed over to Sirius. “One we keep for ourselves, and this one for you, Mr. Black.”

“Perfect.” He said, holding the paper up. “And that’s everything?”

“Oh, no.” Jenny said, holding up the folder in her hands. “Adam’s medical records, birth certificate, among other things.”

“Oh, right.” Sirius said, doing his best not to feel awkward when Jenny gave him a strange look. Muggles seem to have the need to categorize every little thing, don’t they?

He supposed he couldn’t blame them for keeping track of whatever they could. Muggles were prone to all sorts of mild diseases that ended up turning deadly; it was a monument to their ingenuity that they’d managed to overcome this hurdle and thrive in an environment in which they could die at any moment.

He imagined there was a good reason for them to keep track of everything else, as well.

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts, and he turned to see the door open, revealing Adam Clarke.

“Adam, good.” Jenny said, nodding towards the boy. “You’ve arrived.”

Adam only nodded and took a few steps into the room. “Miss Jenny. Mr. Black.”

“Sirius is fine, kid.” Sirius said, sending him a teasing smile. “Didn’t I tell you this before?”

“You might have.” Adam said, smiling back as he stood by the man’s side. “Sirius, then.”

“You’ve come at a good time, Adam.” Jenny said, ignoring the byplay and holding out the folder towards Sirius. “I was just finishing up, here.”

“Oh.” Adam said, blinking as Sirius took the folder and placed the papers he’d just signed into it. “Okay. Um… Time to go, then…”

Sirius looked up from his folder to see that Adam seemed at a loss for words.

But Jenny just shook her head and moved around the table towards him, placing her hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I know I may have seemed very stern and boring to you and all of the other kids, but I want you to know that it has been a pleasure watching you grow to be a splendid young man.”

Adam’s eyes went wide at that, and he reeled back as if slapped. “I— you—”

Jenny smiled and gave the boy a hug, her eyes growing teary. “Grow up to be a wonderful man, all right?”

Adam stiffened and slowly hugged her back. “I—”

“And promise to come visit, won’t you?” Jenny cut him off again, doing her best not to burst into tears as she wiped her eyes.

Adam opened his mouth and closed it a few times before he got himself under control.

“I will. I promise.” Adam said. “Thank you.”

Sirius watched the two, staying quiet so that they could have their moment in peace. Eventually, Jenny spied him looking away and forced herself to break the embrace.

“Oh, dear me.” She said, laughing as she wiped a few more tears away. “I think I’ve kept you for long enough, the both of you.”

“It’s no problem.” Sirius immediately said.

“It’s— yeah, what he said.”

Jenny shook her head, though, and moved to the exit. “Come, I’ll see you off.”

Sirius shared a look with Adam and shrugged before the two followed her down. Adam looked a little surprised when many of the kids stopped what they were doing to tell him goodbye.

It was like the boy hadn’t expected them to care. Sirius filed that thought away as they finally exited the building a minute later.

“Miss Jenny…” Adam said. “I want to say that— that I’m sorry about—”

“None of that, Mister.” Jenny shook her head and sent him a stern look, which softened after a moment. “There’s nothing to forgive.”

She turned her eyes towards Sirius. “Take care of him, won’t you? He’s a special one.”

“Of course.” Sirius said, giving the woman a solemn look. “You have my word.”

She matched his gaze and nodded, finding his resolve to be worthy. “Then go— before I start crying again.”

Sirius and Adam watched the woman go back inside, neither wizard saying a thing. A moment after the door closed, Sirius turned to the boy beside him. “Ready to go?”

Adam looked at him for a second before staring at the orphanage again. “You know, when I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to get away from this place.”

“Second thoughts?” Sirius asked, feeling a little confused. “Can’t say I know how you feel; I was ecstatic to be away from my family.”

“Hm.” Adam acknowledged Sirius’ words before shaking his head. “No second thoughts, though. Maybe some regrets. I always thought Jenny was just all stick and no carrot.”

“She said she cares about the kids.” Sirius said, nodding. “And it’s true— could tell from how hard she was working in that office of hers.”

“Yeah…” Adam said slowly. “I guess you’re right… Maybe I’ll come visit when I’m older… Maybe.”

A few moments later, he finally tore his eyes away from his childhood home. “I’m ready. How are we going? Knight Bus, or…?”

Sirius said nothing, instead leading the boy away from the Orphanage, past a few houses and down an out-of-the-way, deserted looking road before stopping at the dead end and holding his arm out.

“Ever side-along-ed before?”

“No, but I heard it’s an absolute bitch.”

Sirius only laughed in response. Kid’s got a mouth on him. I like that.

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One Comment

  1. Tyler Tyler

    I really like this story. You have done a very good job with it, and all the characters feel like real people.
    That being said, I really dislike this ending for the capture arc. I know it is exactly what someone like Grindelwald would do, but I cannot see any reason Adam would agree to sign that contract over losing his memories of being here. Nothing he did and nothing he gained while at the Phoenix’ Rooste would have impacted his future, but signing that contract does. He goes from a victim to an accomplice with almost nothing to show for it. It goes against everything that he stood for in the first arc. It goes against the dream that he spoke of not 10 chapters ago: Freedom.
    This is a rope that Grindelwald will use to hang Adam. The Sword of Damocles that Grindelwald will use to control him. I can very much see the plot an arc or two away, where he will force Adam to join him or assist him because of this contract. I could see a kid falling for this, but not the age 40+ character we have spent 90 chapters getting to know.
    At the same time, the very fact that I am so upset about this decision is a testament to your writing skills and how drawn into the story I am. So, while I disagree with the character choice, I thank you for the amazing story you have written.

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