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July 18, 1992, 4:00 PM, Adam’s Room, Grimmauld Place, London

Adam Clarke

I stared down at my half-done homework with a vacant stare. For the past ten minutes, I’d been doing this, waiting for something to happen— anything.

But there was nothing but the ambient noises of Grimmauld Place, the creaks and groans of doors opening and floors being walked upon, and the vibrations felt from said movements as well.

Still, I remained motionless for another minute before I huffed and pushed off of the table.

It’s just homework. I thought in annoyance as I sent a hesitant look to the parchment and pen on the table. It shouldn’t be bothering me, and I’m basically halfway there.

I couldn’t keep going, though. A strange dread seized me every time I took the pen in hand, sending feelings of revulsion and apprehension through my body.

Fucking Hell. I thought, taking a step forward before freezing and taking a step back. It was just a Boggart. That wasn’t real. What I saw wasn’t real— and even if it were, I beat it, didn’t I?

My words were logical and concise, but a large part of me dismissed them outright. Logic had no place in the realm of emotion, after all. The body, soul— they did as they pleased, irrespective of what the mind’s rational explanations were.

Sirius and the others didn’t see it, but the damn thing was weaving strings left, right and center. I thought. Severing, mutilating them even.

It was even taking the severed parts and recombining them into a mockery of the soul— a patchwork of strings so vile that I could almost smell and taste it even now. Had they even been real?

Is that really who I’m going to become? I thought. And why am I so disgusted by it?

The very thought sent another wave of shivers down my body. Words like ‘sacrilege’, ‘violation’ and ‘desecration’ kept coming to mind, but I banished them, not at all willing to face these thoughts.

And yet my mind continued to bombard me with other images. I saw Auror Turner’s dead visage, followed by Quirrell’s.

I killed them. I thought. Turner never deserved to die, did he? And Quirrell— he could have been saved, no matter how many times I try to justify what happened.

Was the Boggart’s assessment of me correct? Would I eventually stray from my path in my pursuit of magic and kill everyone I held dear to me?

No. I don’t want to think about this right now. I thought and, before I knew it, I was already moving down the stairs, hoping to cure the stress I had with a bit of spell practice— or perhaps some more of that chocolate that Remus had given us.

I nodded to myself; the chocolate sounded like the better choice here. I passed by Harry with a weak wave before finally reaching the basement again and snatching the bar of chocolate off of the shelf before me.

I stared at it for a moment before breaking a square off, taking a small bite and closing my eyes as a wave of sweet, pure bliss swept over my body. Mmm, that’s the stuff.

Time passed as I got settled in, consuming a good chunk of the bar in record time and leaving my fingers and mouth messy.

Think I had a little too much this time… I thought, though I chuckled with no small amount of mirth as I leaned back in my chair, feeling content. Heh, whatever. ‘Twas worth it.

I would likely get sick within the next few hours, but I didn’t care. I needed that.

After what I’d seen… I shook my head and tried to focus on another aspect of the event.

Just how had Harry and the others not seen the strings? They didn’t react… I thought again, staring at my dirty hand for a few moments as I pondered the mystery. Or, had they seen them and I missed the signs?

I shook my head; they would have said or done something, were that the case. Then again, perhaps one of them was just waiting for the opportune moment to broach the subject with me?

It was hard to tell; though I’d been here for a while, I was mostly left to my devices. I imagined the two men were still a little leery of me. I might have been part of this family now, but I was still essentially a stranger to them.

Harry, bless that kid’s soul, at least knew how I functioned.

He could tell when I wanted to hang out, and when I definitely wanted to be alone. I supposed a school year of dealing with me would do that to anyone. I smiled a little at that before going to wash my hands and mouth at the sink.

Halfway through, I caught Kreacher peeking at me from his den. Startled, the poor elf quickly shrank away. How odd…

I dried my hands and made my way to his den, making sure to announce myself as I entered.

“Kreacher?” I said, finding the elf quickly hiding something beneath what seemed to be an old, black robe. I tilted my head in curiosity. “What are you doing?”

“Kreacher was only looking to see who was down here.” Kreacher said, affixing me with a glare. “He did not mean for Mudblood Master to see him.”

I rolled my eyes and sat down by the entrance, giving him enough space to run out if he wished and trying to show him for the hundredth time that week that I did not intend him any harm.

“I’m sure you didn’t.” I said, snorting. “And yet, I saw you trying to hide something. What is it?”

“Kreacher…” Kreacher said through gritted teeth, doing his best to resist the command. “Noth—nothi—”

I thought that, after he’d spilled his beans to me, that he would be a little nicer. That didn’t seem to be the case.

Fine, we’ll play it your way. I thought with no small amount of impatience. “Show me, Kreacher.”

Kreacher didn’t say anything for a long moment before he very slowly followed my command, doing his best to resist it as his hand went underneath the robe. A moment later, he pulled out a necklace.

No. I thought. A locket.

Even before he showed it to me, I knew what I was going to see. It was a heavy looking locket made out of gold.

“Ah, I think I know who this locket belonged to.” I said as the House Elf looked like he was ready to either bawl or rage— probably both. “You were hiding this?”

“Yes.” He forced the words out.

“From Sirius and everyone here?”

“Yes.” Kreacher said again, raising his hand to beat himself.

“No.” I said, shaking my head. “You are forbidden from striking or hurting yourself in any way when you are in my presence, Kreacher.”

Kreacher’s hand lowered a few inches before he looked at me with confused eyes.

“Is that understood?” I said, smiling a little when the diminutive being nodded in confirmation. “Good, good.”

I shifted a bit and produced the remainder of the chocolate bar before breaking a piece off and holding it out to him. “Here. You must be stressed— have some chocolate, Kreacher.”

“Mudblood Master gives Kreacher food?” Kreacher said, eyes widening a little.

“Yes, the… Mudblood Master does.” I said, resisting the urge to roll my eyes. “Now, go on. I’ll hold that locket for you while you eat.”

Before Kreacher could even react, I’d already swiped the locket from his hand, exchanging it with the chocolate and getting settled in. Kreacher stared at me with wide, fearful eyes until I sent him a look.

A moment later, he was eating the chocolate, though he continued to peek at me as I examined the locket.

“So this is the locket you were talking about before…” I said again, raising up to eye level to inspect it a little more closely. I noted the elaborate swirls and curls left on the metal of the locket, and the stylized, snake-like ‘S’, inlaid with green, glittering stones. “The mark of Salazar Slytherin, himself?”

Now standing beside me, Kreacher gave a nervous, jerky nod.

Did he think that I was going to run away with this? He still doesn’t trust me, huh?

My eyes went back to the artifact in question, narrowing at the severed soul thread which coiled around it like a serpent ready to strike. With good reason, I suppose. So that’s what a Horcrux’ soul-thread looks like, then?

It was exactly like the strings that the Boggart version of myself had shown me. So much for avoiding the issue, huh?

I ignored that thought in favor of studying the thread further. It continued to swirl around the locket itself, seemingly unaware of the world around it.

“I see why you’ve kept this hidden, Kreacher.” I said quietly, as if the mere sound of my voice would awaken this monstrosity. “It is possessed by a living being. I can see it…”

“…See it, Mudblood Master?” Kreacher said, sounding supremely confused.

“Something coils around it.” I explained slowly, black and white eyes narrowing. “Like a snake ready to strike. A foul existence both corrupting and protecting this artifact. Both disgusting and mesmerizing…”

Yes… I thought, feeling the urge to put it around my neck. It wishes to be worn.

I tried to set my hand down, but instead I brought it closer to my face, unable to resist the urge to gaze upon it with more scrutiny. My hand almost started to move to place the necklace on my neck, but I forced myself to stop.

No. I mentally snarled, holding the soul’s influence back with my own as my anger arose. Your soul-brother already tried that shit, asshole. You’re not getting me.

I lowered my hand as Kreacher’s eyes went wide with surprise, and then anger. “Him.

I turned to look at the House Elf for a moment.

Totally unaware of what had happened, huh? I thought before giving him a nod. “You are likely right, Kreacher. No one else would do something so… ridiculous.”

Taking a priceless, historical artifact and turning it into your own little trophy— textbook narcissism. Voldemort really is a cunt, isn’t he?

My shoulders shook with mirth for a few moments before I resumed.

Worse than that, it has to be destroyed, and I don’t know of any ways of doing that without also ruining the base item. I added, staring down at the damned thing with no small amount of annoyance. Basilisk venom, or Gryffindor’s sword which imbibes said venom, or Fiendfyre. Maybe the Killing Curse, or possibly a Dementor?

I shook my head. Gryffindor’s sword hadn’t even been exposed to Basilisk venom in this timeline, and I doubted it ever would; would it be able to destroy a Horcrux on its own?

I don’t know. I thought, staring at the wall in front of me in silence. I would need to find Basilisk venom, and I sure as hell am not going to step foot in that fucking Chamber. Maybe… Would it be possible to imbue the sword with a Killing Curse instead? Or Fiendfyre… Wait, no, stupid idea. I could just use the curses themselves.

Or, if I really put my mind to it, maybe my void-infused Disillusionment Charm? None of these methods would keep the items untouched, however.

Still, I should at least try to keep the items intact, no? It would be a good idea to look into it as soon as possible.

For now, however. I thought as I gave the House-Elf his locket back. I don’t think I can get anything done here.

“Here you go.” I said.

“Master?” Kreacher said in confusion, taking the locket and holding it close to his chest. It was the first time he hadn’t called me a Mudblood. I ignored it and kept going.

“Regulus gave you the order to destroy it, didn’t he?” I said and saw the House Elf nod. “Well, I’ll help you.”

Kreacher’s eyes widened in shock, before he gave me a look of doubt. “Kreacher thanks Master, but not even Master Regulus could—”

And there he stopped again, getting emotional at the thought of the death of his former Master and friend.

“No, he couldn’t do it.” I said, tapping my index just below my right eye. “But this eye of mine— it lets me see things, Kreacher. Maybe I don’t know how to destroy this thing right now, but I’ve all the time in the world to learn. Right?”

Kreacher nodded, though he looked very doubtful.

“Until then.” I said, giving the old House Elf a solemn look. “I charge you to continue your duty to Regulus and keep this safe, while we look for a way to destroy it.”

I held my hand out. “Deal?”

Kreacher stared at my hand, and then at me for a few moments before taking my hand and giving it a feeble squeeze. “Kreacher accepts, Master Adam.”

Satisfaction came to me, then, washing away all previous doubts about the future. The Boggart’s words were just that— words. I didn’t need to define my future by them.

“‘Adam’ will do just fine, Kreacher.” I smiled softly.


8:00 PM, Dining Room, Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire, England

Draco Malfoy

“You all right, Draco?” Vincent’s voice came from beside him, piercing through the lively, festive voices in the background.

Draco blinked and turned his gaze towards his friend. “‘M fine. Why?”

Vincent only shrugged in response. “You just seem a little distracted, that’s all.”

Draco opened his mouth to reply, but realized that he didn’t have anything to say to that. The boy was right, after all; Draco was distracted.

He’d been distracted for quite some time. Ever since he’d seen Clarke at Grindelwald’s establishment, he’d been confused. Wasn’t the boy supposed to be on Dumbledore’s side?

If so, what was he doing fraternizing with Dumbledore’s enemies?

Just what is he playing at? Draco thought, but banished the thoughts away. It wouldn’t do for others to see the gloomy mood he was in.

Instead, he plastered on the self-important, arrogant smile that people expected of him and spoke. “Oh, I was just thinking of how I’m going to make the team when term rolls around.”

On his other side, Gregory grinned. “No doubt, Draco. The Slytherins will win the Quidditch Cup this year, what with you on the roster.”

Draco nodded, happy that his friends had such confidence in him. He put Clarke out of his mind for now, deciding to try and enjoy himself.

“It should be brilliant.” Draco said, already imagining the roars of triumph he’d hear when he beat his future foes into the dust. “The other teams won’t stand a chance.”

The three continued their amiable chat as Draco’s eyes took in his surroundings. His parents had outdone themselves. Great decorative banners of green, silver and black hung off of the walls and ceiling, illuminated by two large, crystal chandeliers.

Beneath them were a series of long tables filled with all manner of luxurious foods, imported from all over the globe. The best for our guests, after all.

“The wait is killing me.” Vince said, throwing a glance at all the succulent food on the table. “I’m hungry.”

Draco had to agree with him, though he didn’t voice it out loud. “I can go check to see if they’ll want to start soon.”

Gregory snorted at that, drawing the attention of the two boys. “Small chance of that; look at them.”

And so Draco and Vincent followed the boy’s nod. They stared at all the adults mingling, chatting and laughing.

Draco knew that none of their emotions were genuine. It was all an elaborate game, really; all of those in attendance were people who could, in one way or another, be of benefit— or were possible future rivals— to his family.

All of them, without exception, were here to make a good impression on his parents, or further the good impression they’d already made in the past.

Depending on how the interactions went, favors, items and money would soon exchange hands; not at the party, of course.

Draco highly doubted that any of the exchanges were legal. Still, he had to admit that Gregory was right; the adults had once again got carried away in their endless games of socializing and politicking, forgetting that their children wanted to eat.

“He’s right, you know.” Greengrass’ voice came from a short distance away. “We won’t eat for another twenty minutes, at least.”

Draco turned his gaze to the girl, his eyes sweeping over her light blue dress and her well-kept long hair for a second before focusing back on the crowd at large. “Maybe I should—”

He stopped, seeing his mother beckoning him over.

Great timing. He thought, sending his mother a genuine smile and getting off of his chair. He took a moment to adjust his robes before addressing the kids at the table— the children of many notable wizards and witches, some of whom he couldn’t remember their names.

“I’ll go see if they’re ready.” He said, and quickly added at everyone’s rising look of panic. “I’ll be discreet, of course.”

He almost laughed at the relief on their faces. Draco intimately knew the consequences of appearing improper at formal settings such as these.

“G’luck, Draco.” Was the last thing he heard from Vince before he walked away, moving through the gathered people on his way to his mother.

He plastered a smile on his face as he shook hands with various witches and wizards, managing to avoid being knocked over to the ground by a very boisterous Fudge, who’d gotten a little deep into his drink.

Soon, he found himself standing before his mother. Clad in a lightly glittering, silver dress, and with her long, blonde hair braided to perfection, she looked radiant. Beside the woman was another; Daphne’s mother, Olivia Greengrass. Living up to her family name, she wore a flowing dress of green velvet which hugged her curves nicely.

“Mrs. Greengrass.” He greeted the woman with a nod of respect before turning to his mother. “Mother.”

“Draco.” Narcissa’s pale blue eyes met his and crinkled with happiness.

“You called for me?”

“Yes, Draco.” His mother said. “Your father and I wish to make a toast, and we would like you to be standing with us when the time comes.”

Draco nodded, unable to help the feeling of curiosity welling up within him, but his mother only smiled in response.

“It’s a surprise, Draco.” Narcissa said, sharing a look of amusement with Olivia. “And don’t worry— we will all eat, after.”

Draco hid the wince threatening to break over his face as best as he could, but Olivia laughed. “Oh, there’s no need to worry, Mr. Malfoy. We can all see the children are growing rather anxious.”

“Willful, they all are.” Narcissa agreed, and the two shared a look of commiseration. A moment later Narcissa gave her a nod and turned to Draco. “Come, my son.”

“Yes, Mother.”

He followed her through the crowd again, exchanging greetings, curtsies and pleasantries with the various attendees before he finally found himself on a small platform which was raised higher than the rest of the floor.

His father, Lucius, was already there, waiting.

“Good.” Lucius said with a nod to his family. “Good, you’ve made it. I trust that everything is well in hand?”

“Of course, husband.” Narcissa said, eyes narrowing. “It was a pleasure to host such a wonderful gathering. I trust that your own meeting was good?”

Lucius let a very light smirk cross his face, inclining his head very minutely. “Of course. Come, we have an announcement to make. The Minister is almost here.”

A meeting? Draco thought, but kept it to himself. Who was he meeting with? And why?

There was no time to ponder any further, because Minister Fudge had arrived.

“Cornelius.” Lucius said by way of greeting.

“Ah, Lucius!” Fudge said, shaking hands with the man before doing the same with Narcissa and Draco. “Narcissa, and young Draco! A pleasure, a pleasure.”

This is the fifth time he’s told me that. Draco thought in annoyance but plastered a smile on his face and gave one of the most influential men of Wizarding Britain a nod in return, shaking his hand. “The pleasure is all mine, Minister.”

Fudge took his clammy, sweat covered hand away, and Draco had to stifle the urge to rub his hand against his dress robe. It wouldn’t be proper to do so.

Once this whole thing is over, I’m going to need to throw this dress robe out and bathe for an hour. No, two hours. Draco vowed to himself, even as his father moved him into position. He schooled his expression into something polite and pleasant— the expected face of the scion of a Pureblood family.

Lucius drew his wand and gave it a light wave, levitating a glass and small spoon and tapping it several times to quiet the crowd down. “Your attention please, everyone! Thank you.”

He turned towards the Minister and gave him a nod. “Minister. You have the floor.”

“Thank you, Lucius.” Fudge said before turning to the assembled crowd with a wide smile. “I’m sure you’re all wondering why this dinner has been hosted with such short notice. I, for one, was barely able to prepare my dress robes in time!”

A wave of polite laughter met the man’s words; Draco had to stop himself from grimacing. Slimy politician.

“Yes, yes. But, there is a reason.” He gave a short chuckle before his face turned serious. “We have an announcement to make!”

He waited a few seconds, letting everyone lean forward in anticipation of whatever it was he was going to reveal.

“As you all know.” Fudge began. “The attack on the French wizard prison, Remords De L’Âme, has left our European allies reeling.”

He observed how a few of the people were murmuring before speaking over them. “The events were of such proportions and gravity that they have even affected us here on the Isles. To that end, we have decided to aid the Europeans in their attempts to quell this threat.

Applause met the man’s words, and Draco’s eyes widened for a split second before he forced himself to give a wide smile, just as the cameras in front of him flashed.

That was close. Draco thought, keeping the smile on his face even as he considered what he was hearing. Our country is entering the war, and the people seem to be supportive?

“Some will question this decision, of course.” Fudge raised his hand, quelling the crowd’s enthusiasm for a short time. “Know that I do not make it lightly, my friends. I may not have been alive during the days of Grindelwald’s first war, but my father certainly was.”

There was a series of murmurs and nods at that.

“Yes.” Fudge said, nodding. “My father, Titus Fudge— I see many of you still remember him— he valiantly fought in the war against Grindelwald, and he was left with many wounds, which he eventually succumbed to.”

He dipped his head in respect to his father for a moment before looking towards everyone again. “We have all had members of our families taken from us in that war, and others besides. Do not worry, however. We will offer the other nations support: our resources, our ability to heal them. I will not, however, send a member of this esteemed nation to fight another’s battle.”

Applause once again met his words, but Fudge still wasn’t done.

“But it is not all doom and gloom, of course.” Cornelius said, a smile blooming on his face. “To commemorate this unprecedented cooperation between the nations, we have decided to host a dueling tournament! One to be held between the schools. Ours, and our allies!”

This time, Draco’s applause was genuine.

A tournament! He thought in excitement, his eyes searching for his friends off to the far side. They looked as excited as he felt. Now that’ll be something to look forward to!

If only Draco knew just what the future had in store… He would have cursed himself and his stupidity.

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