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Festival Of Fire

July 23, 1992, 3:00 PM, Village du Phantasime, France

Adam Clarke

Heaven. This was heaven.

I took a deep breath and relaxed myself further, letting the water’s tide slowly carry me back to the beach. I opened my eyes and stared up at the blue sky, losing myself in its sheer breadth, vastness and beauty.

This was what freedom was supposed to be; not a single care in the world.

I sighed again in pure bliss. “This is the life… Just me and the calm waves—”

“Look out below!”

Oh for fuck’s— was all I was able to think when I saw yet another massive tidal wave about to swallow me. Immediately, I took a deep breath and kept myself relaxed, even as the wave crashed over me and flung me like a ragdoll.

I weathered the onslaught until I felt my body press against the soft sand of the beach before pressing my hands against the ground and lifting myself up out of the water.

Opening my eyes, I stared down at the wet sand for a moment and then sent a withering look towards Tonks, who was— as she’d been the past ten times she’d done this over the course of a few days— sitting on the beach, wand in hand and an impish smile on her face.

“You just can’t let me have twenty minutes, can you?” I said and tilted my head to both sides to get the water out of my ears. “Just twenty minutes of peace.”

“Nope.” Tonks said and adjusted her seating position, bringing my attention down to her— No. I know what you’re doing. It won’t work.

Just because Harry broke into stammers every time she did this didn’t mean that I would. I got to my feet and moved to the woman, placing my sandy fingers into her hair, spreading the wet sand through it.

“Hey!” She said and recoiled, sending a glare. “I just got dry!”

I scoffed and sent her a smirk of my own. “Not anymore! How about that, huh?”

“You want to go, kid?” Tonks got to her feet, dwarfing me with ease and glaring down with black eyes. The sun shone through her now red hair, giving the woman an almost ominous appearance.

Still, I’d faced the likes of Quirrell, Voldemort, Vanessa, and others. I was not backing down.

“Oh, I’m ready when you are.” I said, giving her a nasty smile. “Nymphadora.”

“Why you little—”

“Now, now, kids.” Andromeda’s voice came from the side, and we turned to see the beautiful, bikini-clad woman eyeing us with mild amusement from behind her sunglasses. “Play nice.”

She picked up her wand and waved it at me. Instantly, I felt myself dry up, and gave the woman a nod of thanks, which she acknowledged with a smile.

“No dueling on the beach— Adam isn’t allowed to use magic out of school, anyway. You shouldn’t be bullying him with the waterworks, Nymphadora.”

Tonks’ hair turned even redder again at the name, but instead she huffed. “Fine.”

She turned to look at me. “We will be having that duel though. You’ve earned a good arse kicking… or two.”

“The same can be said to you.” I said, snorting in amusement before pointing at Harry, who was a ways away from all the chaos ensuing. “Why don’t you get out of my hair? Go bully him, for a change.”

Tonks gave me an incredulous look. “Are you serious? Just look at him.”

And so I did.

Harry’s eyes were intense with focus as he moved around with careful, light steps. He bent down, dunked his hand into his bucket of water and swept it slowly around the fortress of sand he had built, carefully compacting the sand and strengthening the foundation of the entire structure.

He’s as happy as a clam. I thought as my face gained a small smile. “Yeah. I guess I understand that.”

“He’s been working on his castle all day.” Tonks said, shrugging and looking uncomfortable. “Why would I ruin that?”

“And yet you’re completely fine with giving me trouble.” I said, sending her an unimpressed look. “Hypocrisy in action.”

“You deserve it.” Tonks shot back with an uncaring shrug. “Someone needs to teach you to keep that smart mouth of yours in check.”

“Hmph.” I said and looked away, flexing my hands as the sand covering them started to make my skin uncomfortable. “And you think that someone is you.”

“Who else?” Tonks said and pointed at Sirius, who was busy building a little village next to Harry’s fortress. “Him?”

I laughed at that, shaking my head before my look turned serious.

“No.” I said in a quieter voice, staring at Harry and Sirius as they chatted with each other while they worked on their individual creations.

It was a scene I’d imagined so many times in my previous life— one I’d read in fanfictions, or thought of writing up myself when I was still a writer— but to see it happen with my very own eyes, well…

I felt humbled.

This is an event that many I knew would have killed to see, or make happen. I thought, my gaze turning more and more intense the longer I looked at them. Sirius and Harry, together and happy; the family which never got the chance to be formed in the books— and I’m the cause for it.

“—dam? Adam?” Tonks’ voice brought me back to reality. “Adam.”

I shook my thoughts away and looked at her. “Sorry, I got a little lost in thought. What were you saying, Tonks?”

Tonks stared at me for a second longer before saying something. “Are… Are you all right, kid?”

“Yes.” I said, blinking in confusion. “Why?”

“You’re… um. You’re crying.” Tonks said, looking very awkward.

“Huh?” I said and raised my hand to my face. My fingers came off wet, I realized.

Well… I thought, resisting the urge to wince. This is awkward.

“Don’t worry about it.” I said, shaking my head and waving it off as I made to go to my beach spot to get some alone time. “I’m going to have a bit of a lie down.”

“But—” She grabbed my arm.

Don’t.” I turned to her with eyes so fierce that they almost glowed; I closed my eyes and took a breath. “I—”

Nymphadora?” Andromeda’s voice came again, sharp this time. “Why don’t you go and see what your father’s doing?”

“But…” Tonks said but wilted at the steely look in her mother’s eyes.

The statement had been worded as a question, but Andromeda’s tone told me that it was anything but.

Tonks looked at me for another moment, before turning to her mother and nodding. “All right. See you, Adam.”

“See ya.” I said back as I watched her walk away, my voice a little weak.

What the Hell is up with me?

“You’ll have to forgive my daughter, Adam.” Andromeda said, getting my attention. “She doesn’t know when to quit, sometimes.”

“…” I didn’t say anything for a moment, before shaking my head with a sigh. “She means well.”

“That, she does.” Andromeda smiled at my response. “You are a very thoughtful boy.”

“Thank you. I think.” I said. “I should let you get back to relaxing, Mrs. Tonks…”

“Oh, it’s fine.” Andromeda said. She had already sat up and was gesturing to the spot beside her. “Come. Sit with me.”

I wanted to say no, but the warm look in her eyes made me reconsider. “All right.”

And so I walked over and took my place beside her, surreptitiously wiping the wetness from my cheeks as I did so..

Time passed with neither of us saying a word. We stared ahead at the open sea and sky, seeing the occasional few wizards and witches enjoying the day like we were. I felt myself get lost in the sounds of the waves crashing against the shore, the light cries of joy in the distance and the feeling of the salty sea breeze against my skin.

Through it all, Andromeda didn’t say a word. Minutes passed before either of us spoke again.

“I…” I said, feeling compelled to speak for some reason. I looked at her, and she turned her warm gaze to me again.

“Yes?” Andromeda said, her voice still soft and inviting.

“I don’t know.” I said, looking uncomfortable. “Thank you.”

“What a strange boy.” Andromeda said, shaking her head and smiling. “Thanking me? It is I who should be thanking you, Adam.”

I frowned. “What do you mean?”

“You’ve done something incredible for my cousin, you know.” Andromeda said and raised her hand before I could say anything. “Even I had believed that he had gone Dark just like the rest of my family. All of us failed him— you did not.”

She went quiet for a moment before scoffing. “Just a boy who was curious about the past. You saw what none of us did.”

I knew the truth though. I’ve spent the better part of my lifetime obsessing about the Harry Potter books. I thought, feeling guilty for not having done anything sooner. My frown turned deeper, but I didn’t say anything for a while.

Eventually, I did find the words to say. “It’s not your fault.”

“Isn’t it?” Andromeda said, giving me a wry smile.

“It isn’t.” I said again. “How could you have known what really happened? You weren’t there. And from what I’ve read and what people have told me, those were really unsettling times.”

“…Unsettling would be one way to put them, yes.” Andromeda said, shaking her head. “But that’s neither here nor there.”

“Point is, it wasn’t your fault.” I reiterated, my tone insistent.

“Sirius said much the same.” Andromeda said. “When I first saw him after he’d been released.”

“He’s right.” I insisted.

“I suppose he is.” Andromeda said, focusing on me. “And so are you. Still, I owe you a debt of gratitude.”

I shook my head. “You owe me noth—”

Before I could finish, I felt myself be pulled into a crushing hug by the woman. I tried to push away from her, but instead felt myself relax in her embrace.

“No. I owe you much, Adam.” She whispered. “You’ve helped get part of my family back. Thank you.

“I—” I gulped. “…You’re welcome. Can… Can you let go? Can’t breathe.”

And so she did. I backed away slowly, not wanting to provoke the woman into another hug. I hadn’t realized she was so emotional.

“If there’s anything you need, you can come to me, Adam.” Andromeda said in a tone that brooked no argument. “Okay?”

“Okay.” I said quietly. I didn’t know what else to say.

“Good!” She said and leaned back in her chair with a smile. “Go on then, enjoy your beachtime before my daughter arrives to terrorize you again.”

“Right.” I nodded, got up and moved a few paces towards my beach spot before stopping and turning to head towards Harry.

“Adam?” Harry saw me long before I showed up.

“Need help?” I said.

Harry’s grin told me all I needed to know.

“I need to build a… I mean dig! I want to dig a moat!”

“You got it, boss.” I grinned and went to work.


A Few Hours Later, Restaurant du Garreau, Village du Phantasime, France

Harry Potter

“And here are your orders, messieurs.” The waitress smiled as she placed two identical dishes in front of Harry and Adam, accidentally revealing a good bit of her cleavage to Harry. The next moment, she placed two bottles of butterbeer in front of them. “Enjoy!”

Blushing, Harry gave her a shy nod and a murmured ‘thank you’, hoping she wouldn’t have noticed.

Adam, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be particularly bothered.

“Merci!” The boy chirped happily, solely focused on the dish before his mismatched eyes. “This looks great. Aren’t you glad I convinced you to get this?”

Harry turned his eyes to his own steaming bowl and couldn’t help but agree. “Yeah.”

Boeuf Bourguignon— can never go wrong with beef, Harry.” Adam said, happy to take a whiff of his meal before taking his spoon and beginning to eat.

Harry saw how the boy relaxed after his first bite and started eating as well. The next few minutes were spent in a blur of food consumption as Harry demolished his bowl with the voracious appetite of a blood-crazed school of piranhas.

Eventually, the two leaned back in their chairs, truly sated. Harry considered popping open his bottle of butterbeer but decided against it; he had already consumed far too much, and was bloated.

Instead, he took a moment to stare outside of the window, seeing all the banners and decorations finally being put up to herald the beginning of the summer festival.

“Um… Sirius?” Harry called out to a few seats beside him, where Sirius was enjoying a fine cut of steak. The man stopped and turned his head to his Godson.

“Yeah, kid?” Sirius said, holding the piece of meat up with his fork— he was barely able to keep his eyes off of it.

Harry suppressed the urge to smile at that. “Oh, I was just wondering what the name of this festival was again. I kind of forgot.”

Sirius opened his mouth to respond but it was Tonks who beat him to it. “It’s called, um… ‘Foire du Feu’.”

“Oh.” Harry said, trying and failing to repeat the words. “What’s it mean?”

“Fire festival.” Adam replied without thinking. “Or, festival of fire, I suppose.”

Harry frowned. “Adam, you know French?”

“Oui, Monsieur.” Adam said, nodding as he wiped his mouth with a napkin. Then, he gave an over-the-top: “Hon hon! Bonjour!”

Harry rolled his eyes, prompting the boy to laugh. “But yes, I know some French.”

“How much French?” Tonks asked.

“Enough.” Adam replied and said nothing more, cutting off that particular line of questioning.

Harry frowned at that. He’d known the two had some kind of friction ever since he’d used her name to annoy her, but this was getting a little ridiculous.

No reason to be so cold to her. Harry thought, but didn’t say anything out loud. Or maybe there was a good reason and I don’t know it?

Adam had looked a little off when he’d come to help Harry with the sand fortress earlier. Harry shook off the thoughts with a mental shrug when he heard the loud cheers of the people outside.

“Looks like the festival has begun.” Ted said as he enjoyed a plate of… Harry thought it was called ‘bouillabaisse’?

He would have ordered it, but it had fish in it, and Harry had had enough fish in the past few days since coming to this small retreat. That’s why he’d gone with Adam’s suggestion.

He got off of his chair with a quick nod to everyone before moving closer to the clear window and staring outside.

What had been a remotely quiet street an hour ago had turned into a veritable chaotic mishmash of workers, tourists and multicolor lights. He saw many of the familiar games he’d grown up seeing on commercials as a young child— whack-a-mole, throwing darts, and the like— but also many magical ones which he could scarcely describe.

He wanted to go and try his hand at them all.

He turned towards the table everyone was sitting at and felt his heart lurch when he saw that most of them weren’t even halfway done with their meals.

“Um…” Harry approached the table awkwardly. “Can I go?”

“May.” Adam corrected automatically.

Harry sent Adam a nonplussed look before turning to Sirius.

“Oh, yeah!” Sirius said absently. “Go on, have fun, Harry. Want a bit of money for the games?”

“Sirius.” Andromeda said, looking exasperated. “You have to go with him.”

Sirius stopped his eating, looking mortified at the thought of leaving his precious food. “But…”

The sight was so comical that Harry would have laughed. “No, it’s okay. I can wait a bit.”

“Nonsense!” Ted said, gesturing at his daughter who hadn’t been paying attention to them until now. “Nymphadora can chaperone for a while until we all finish our meals. Is that all right, sweetie?”

Tonks almost automatically said no, until she realized that all eyes were on her, including her mother’s. She deflated in her seat, her hair turning black for a moment before she forced the color back to pink.

“All right.” She said, and it was the most defeated voice Harry had heard in a while.

“Thank you, honey!”

Tonks didn’t even bother acknowledging with an answer. Instead, she got up and dragged both Harry and Adam out, much to the second’s protests.

“Woah, I didn’t say anything about wanting to play. Let go!”

“Tough luck, Clarke.”

“And why am I being dragged?” Harry couldn’t help but ask.

“Just felt like it.”

Harry only laughed at that.

Eventually, after much annoyed muttering from Adam, Tonks finally let them go outside of the restaurant, away from the prying eyes and ears of their respective families.

“Listen.” She said. “I didn’t really feel up to playing babysitter tonight. Was hoping I’d get a chance to explore the festival at my own pace. So I’m sorry if I’m a little miffed.”

“It’s fine.” Harry reassured her immediately. “We’ll just do what you want first— right, Adam?”

Adam looked startled for a moment before he gave a jerky nod. “Yeah, sure.”

“Well…” Tonks still didn’t really sound convinced, but Harry knew he’d done the job.

“Promise we won’t get in the way.“ Harry said, with Adam nodding beside him.

The young woman looked between the two before sighing and leading the way. “Come along, then.”

The next few dozen minutes flew in a blur as the trio explored every corner in the festival. They quickly got lost in the lights and sounds of the event, the sheer energy exuded by the workers, music and crowd suffusing into their being and making them feel alive in ways they scarcely imagined. True to his promise, Harry let Tonks choose the first few attractions.

It seemed, however, that all she’d really wanted was to get some cotton candy.

Harry was a little confused by that— what was the point of her being all dramatic earlier, then?

“I know what you’re thinking.” Tonks said as she continued to happily bite into her bit of confectionery. “I was just giving my parents a hard time, that’s all.”

“Oh.” Harry said, confused. “Why?”

“‘Cause I’m an adult now, you know?” She said, her hair shifting colors uncontrollably for a moment before going back to pink. “They still think I’m their little girl who just… babysits the other kids or whatever. I don’t know, maybe if they’d just lay off or something…”

Harry didn’t know how to respond to that. He couldn’t really relate.

Adam, on the other hand, wasn’t even listening. He was busy trying his hardest to whack the mole. He’d been at it for the past five minutes with absolutely no luck.

“Damn it!” Adam cried as he barely missed the mole again. His club struck the sturdy frame with a thud and a mild clang before he pulled it back and leaned on it. “I can’t do it.”

“That is a shame, monsieur.” The sleazy looking man behind the counter said with a shark-like smile. “Would you like to try again? That’ll be another—”

“No.” Adam said, cutting him off with a glare. “You’ve just about taken half my money.”

“That’s true.” The man chuckled. “Well, monsieur, how about this—”

“Not interested.” Adam interrupted the man again before he could make his next pitch and walked away. The two watched the baffled, annoyed expression of the salesman before turning and following Adam; it took a while to catch up to the boy, as a small group of boys and girls blocked their path. Eventually, however, they reached him.

Adam stood in front of a large sign which said:



6:30 PM



“Huh.” Adam said, checking the big, bold letters with a look of interest.

“What’s it say?” Harry said, making a small guess. “Magic, something?”

“Magic of the Sun and Moon.” Adam replied before turning around and seeing a town’s clock in the distance. “Ten minutes left. We could probably still make it.”

“I don’t know…” Tonks said. “Seems a little expensive.”

“I’ll pay you back.” Adam said.

“Rich boy, are we?”

“No, that’s Sirius.” Adam smirked before shaking his head. “Oh, come on. What’s the point of a festival if you don’t do everything?”

“Yeah!” Harry added, getting excited as well. “Let’s do it.”

Tonks looked up, wondering what divine being or deity cursed her with this fate. Then, she sighed. “All right. Fine.”


“But this is the last thing I’m doing with you two tonight!” Tonks said, cutting the boy mid-cheers. “After this, we’re going to find my parents and Sirius. ‘Kay?”

“Sure!” But Harry’s cheer was not something that could be quelled so easily.

No, something truly bad needed to happen for that…

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