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July 31, 1992, 7:10 PM, Adam’s Room, Twelve Grimmauld Place, England

Harry Potter

“Harry!” Sirius’ voice came from the stairs as he approached. “Time for— huh? Harry? Where are you?”

Besides Harry, Adam only rolled his eyes. “We’re over here, old man! The other room.” 

There were a few moments of silence before Sirius popped his head in through the door.

“Old? I take offense to that.” Sirius affected a look of condescension as he spoke down to the boy. “I’ll have you know that I’m in the springtime of my youth!”

“That’s what they all say.” Adam said, waving the man’s words away, but the way he did it made Harry feel a little confused.

It was a bit of a jerky motion, like Adam was apprehensive about what he was doing or saying. Harry looked towards Sirius and understood fairly quickly. He supposed that Sirius never had the chance to live out his ‘springtime’, as he had called it.

Too busy being tortured by Dementors. Harry thought darkly for a moment.

Harry gave a mental shake of the head. Adam never failed to surprise him with how thoughtlessly reckless and callous he could be one moment and then be the exact opposite the next, able to measure the exact impact of his words and proceed carefully and with tact from then on out.

Adam was a boy of contradictions, he thought; and he wasn’t alone in such thinking. Over the course of the past year, he’d seen many people literally or figuratively scratch their heads as they attempted to solve the puzzle of who Adam Clarke was.

It was hard to get a read on him: he could be kind and generous one moment, but cold and calculating the next. At times, he could be incredibly outgoing and sociable. He had a rather unorthodox way of charming people with his wit and intelligence, making friends as he went along; but then, there were moments when he would withdraw into himself, retreating into his own thoughts and shutting out the world around him.

He was capable of great empathy and deep compassion, often going out of his own way to help those in need. Yet, at other times, he could be ruthless and uncaring, willing to do whatever it took to get ahead, trampling on the very same people he had helped. Harry remembered the boy’s attitude during the attack at the Village du Phantasime, a bit over a week ago.

He could almost still smell the smoke, the sensations of heat and the feeling of choking lingering just at the edge of his senses and memory.

“What are you even doing here?” Sirius’ words pulled Harry out of his funk while the man looked around the bedroom as if seeing it for the first time. His eyes roved over the various scribblings and diagrams on the many parchment notes and books scattered around Adam’s room.

“Trying to build a treadmill.” Adam said simply, before scratching the back of his head. “Erm, it’s a Muggle device that you can—”

“I’ve been to a Muggle gym before, kid.” Sirius cut him off before chuckling. “I know what a treadmill is.”

“Oh.” Adam said, smiling a little. “Yeah. Making that.”

“You know this is a bedroom, right?” Sirius said, a little amused. “Supposed to sleep in it or have fun, not…”

Sirius stared at the various notes for a few seconds longer before shaking his head with a smile. “Ravenclaws… Well, it’s time for dinner, but if you need any help with your project I’m always here, all right?”

“…I’ll keep that in mind.” Adam said, returning the nod. “Thanks.”

“Sure. Ready, Harry?” Sirius said, turning to the other boy.

“Yeah.” Harry said, his expression switching to something very mischievous as he turned a faux innocent look at Adam. “Come on, Adam. Let’s roll!

“Oh for the love of Christ…” Adam muttered under his own breath, but it was still loud enough for Sirius to pick up. He glowered at the boy. “You’re lucky it’s your birthday, Potter. Otherwise I’d have punched you into next week.”

Harry only smirked in response, causing Sirius to laugh.

“I sense a funny story there.” Sirius said, eyes glinting with anticipation. “You’ll have to tell me about it over dinner.”

Adam sighed and Harry’s smirk widened. “Sure thing, Sirius.”

“There’s just one thing.”

Harry’s smirk faded a little in the wake of his curiosity.


“One of your professors— McGonagall— is here. She came to wish you a happy birthday.” Sirius said, his voice turning a little strange. “I know we said we’d do a birthday for just us as a family but, well…”

“McGonagall?” Adam asked, to which Sirius nodded. “Huh.”

“I don’t mind if Professor McGonagall’s here.” Harry said, nodding to himself. “As long as she doesn’t try to make me do extra homework.”

Sirius laughed at that, ruffling Harry’s hair.

“Hey!” Harry protested but Sirius laughed even harder.

“Don’t worry.” He said. “I’ll make sure she doesn’t.”

“No, no; he definitely needs more homework.” Adam said, drawing Harry’s ire. “Maybe I should ask her—”

“You’d better not, or I swear, Clarke…”

“What? You didn’t want to write about the transformation formula for the hundredth time?” Adam said in between futile attempts at tidying up his room. “McGonagall’s heart will be broken.”

Sirius rolled his eyes as he moved to the exit. “You’ve got five minutes, kids. Otherwise the food will start to get cold.”

“You could just use a spell to keep it warm.” Adam said.

“It’s the principle of the matter! Now hurry up!” Sirius’ voice came from the stairs and his footsteps gradually grew weaker, leaving the two boys in relative silence.

Just what was his Head of House doing here? Was she truly here to wish him a happy birthday?

It was true that he thought she was nice under her stern exterior— she’d shown him as much when she got him the Nimbus, but also when she had done her best to protect them on June the Tenth.

Still, to show up unannounced on his birthday? Something about all of this was fishy.

“Wonder what she’s doing here.” Adam commented idly as he joined a few of his notes together before placing them on the small stack beside him.

“I do too.” Harry said and shrugged. “Maybe she just wanted to tell me happy birthday in person?”

Even as he said it, he realized just how ridiculous it sounded. Professor McGonagall had never been invested in his personal life, or even shown a modicum of interest, for that matter. There had to be another reason that she was here.

But what?

“Maybe.” Adam, for his credit, didn’t call him out on it. He got to his feet, dusting himself off. “Ready?”

“Hope the cake is good.” Harry said as the two boys exited the room.

“Who said anything about cake?”

“Oh, please.” Harry rolled his eyes and started walking down the stairs, followed by his new brother. “No one ate anything at lunch— and I saw flour everywhere in the kitchen the other day. I’m not stupid.”

It was then that he realized his mistake. Harry opened his mouth to head Adam off but it was far too late.

“Hi ‘not stupid’!” Adam said. “Nice to meet—”

“I swear to Merlin, Adam.” Harry glared up at the boy as they continued their way down.

“—what?” Adam said, grinning with supreme self-satisfaction. “Come on. You can’t blame me for that.”

“Low hanging fruit, Adam.” Harry said. “Low hanging fruit.”

“Why work hard at irritating you when the simple method is far quicker?” Adam said, prompting Harry to shake his head as they reached the bottom. “Hello, Professor.”

Harry turned his head away from Adam and looked ahead to see Professor McGonagall, looking quite different from what he’d expected. He had never seen the woman wear anything but robes before.

He was honestly surprised she could even dress in Muggle wear. The suit was a bit dated, but then old people always had a strange sense of fashion. No one would ask too many questions, or even give her a second look, for that matter.

“Mr. Clarke.” Minerva McGonagall greeted the boy as the two walked over to her. She turned her eyes to Harry. “Mr. Potter. I’m glad to see you two looking well.”

Harry blinked. He couldn’t place it, but there was something off about the way she said it— not to mention the way she was looking at them. Harry sent a quick glance to Sirius who was standing beside her, but the man shook his head minutely, as if to tell him not to comment on it.

“Thank you, Professor.” Harry said, shaking her hand. “I hope your holidays have gone well.”

At that, the woman smiled a little— a strange expression he only rarely saw at school. “They have. Still are; thank you for asking, Mr. Potter. And, happy birthday.”

“Thank you, Professor.” Harry said again, giving her an awkward, but genuine smile. “Will you be joining us for dinner?”

That seemed to catch the woman off-guard. “I— well, I imagine you’d like to spend time with your family…”

“Nonsense. You are family.” Sirius cut off whatever she was about to say, drawing the woman’s attention as he turned to Adam. “Mind setting up a spot for the Professor, kid? There’s still a bit of time before Remus comes down.”

“Not at all.” Adam said in a seemingly nonchalant tone, but Harry knew better. Adam was studying the two, even as he went into the dining room to complete his task.

“I’ll go and help him.” Harry said quickly, following the boy and leaving the two adults to talk for a bit.

“What do you—” Harry said and stopped as he approached the dining table, immediately struck by the sight of an abundance of mouth-watering dishes laid out before him— his favorites. The table was covered in a pristine white tablecloth, with a warm, inviting glow emanating from the candles placed at its center.

They didn’t hold back at all for my birthday. He thought and made a mental note to thank everyone again before moving his attention back to Adam.

“What do you think that was about?” Harry said as soon as he caught up to Adam. “The Professor’s acting a little…”

“Strange, yes.” Adam said even as he reached into the cabinet and pulled another plate as well as some utensils. “But it seems obvious why she’s here.”


“You saw her too, didn’t you?” Adam said.

“She looked a little off…” Harry said. “I don’t know; I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who saw it.”

“She doesn’t look like she’s had a good night’s sleep in months— and looks a little thinner too.” Adam said as he placed the plates on a free spot at the table near his own before leaning on the table. “But it’s hard to tell— maybe that’s what she normally looks like and her robes hide it?”

Harry frowned.

No, he’s right. Harry thought as he recalled the woman’s appearance near the end of the year, before the attack. Even then she had looked like she was grappling with something, but Harry had just assumed that it was the stress from dealing with the end-of-year exams.

He knew he would have been mortified to be forced to grade paper after paper after paper… But what if it was something else?

Nonsense. You are family.” Sirius’ words echoed in his mind, and Harry spoke. “You don’t think she’s guilty over—”

Harry paused, not sure if he should continue that thought.

“Guilty over Sirius and you?” Adam said, easily able to discern his intent. “You’re probably right. What else could—”

And then the boy clammed up, nodding quickly to the other side of the dining room where Harry saw Sirius, Remus and Professor McGonagall enter. The two boys shared a look; they’d continue the conversation later when they had a little more privacy.

Until then, Harry was determined to enjoy his birthday.


Adam Clarke

Kid’s getting smarter. I thought as we watched the adults walk into the room, chatting amiably. He’s able to pick up on the smallest of hints better and better.

It was almost eerie how Harry could quickly sum up a situation if he put his mind to it. I made a mental note to introduce him to a few problem solving games in the future.

My eyes found McGonagall’s even as she slowly made her way to me. Quickly, she averted her gaze, unable to look me in the eyes. Above her, her soul thread twisted itself up before calming down as she asserted control over herself.

Hm. I thought as I gave the woman a pleasant smile and moved her chair back for her so she could sit. So it’s not just them she feels guilty about, but myself as well?

“Here you go, Professor.” I said and got a grateful nod in return.

“Thank you, Mr. Clarke.”

“You’re welcome, Professor.” I said and added. “You can call me Adam if you like. Sirius said you’re a friend of the family— be weird if you kept calling me by my last name.”

Minerva stared at me for a long moment, her stern nature warring with the emotions in her heart, before nodding. “Very well. Adam.”

I nodded and went to my seat. “Professor.”

“Why not call her by her name—” Harry said as he went to sit by me, but stopped at my raised hand. “What?”

I pointed to the head of the table. “Go there. That’s your spot tonight.”


I smiled a little. “Birthday boy sits at the head of the table. Tradition.”

“Tradition?” Harry said, a little confused by my actions. “You did this at the Orphanage?”

“Yes.” I said, and that wasn’t even a lie. It hadn’t been something the Orphanage did before I suggested the idea when I was… I believe I was three?

Jenny was the one handling all the celebrations, at the time. I had insisted the birthday boy, an older kid who was eleven, sit at the head of the table. Jenny had been all for it, and continued this tradition every time she could.

I need to meet her again. I thought, making a promise to myself. I don’t know how or when, but I will see her again, to thank her for looking out for me.

I knew I shouldn’t have been thinking like that; in my head, I knew that she had done so gladly and didn’t require my gratitude— she’d even said as much the last time I saw her. Still, I needed to do this; my soul demanded it.

Harry, unaware of my inner thoughts, moved towards the head of the table and sat down, looking at us all with the sort of awkwardness one would expect from a kid who’d never had his birthday celebrated so openly.

As he settled into the chair, he fidgeted nervously with the edges of his shirt, trying to shake off the feeling of self-consciousness that seemed to take hold of him. Despite his discomfort, however, he flashed a bright smile at us.

It was one which spoke of happiness and belonging, and I couldn’t have been more glad for the kid— his first birthday with family.

“Let’s eat.” Sirius said simply, and so we began.

I snatched up a bit of salad and sliced off a piece of the beautifully browned roast chicken, placing them on my plate and feeling my mouth water with anticipation. Kreacher had truly gone above and beyond the call of duty when I’d requested his help in cooking all of this for the family.

He had been cranky and annoyed about it since it was the ‘dirty half blood’s birthday’ he was preparing for, but I could tell that his heart wasn’t in his insults anymore. My talks with him were clearly beginning to bear fruit.

That and the fact I promised to destroy Voldemort’s soul thread from Slytherin’s Locket. I thought as I bit into the chicken, savoring both the taste and texture of the crisp, perfectly seasoned skin as it gave way to the tender, juicy flesh beneath.

“Mmm.” I made a small noise of approval, closing my eyes as I did mental cartwheels. “This chicken is amazing.”

“I have to agree.” Remus said, looking as pleased as I felt. “You made this?”

I shook my head and dabbed at my mouth with a tissue. “I helped— Kreacher did most of the work. I’m definitely learning a lot though.”

“You wish to learn how to cook, Mr… Adam?” Minerva said, quickly correcting herself at the end.

“Yes, Professor.” I lied, knowing I couldn’t say that I’d known how to cook in my previous life. “Looks like fun. Plus, it seems like magical cooking is a good exercise of object animation and control.”


“Spells for ingredient preparation, cleaning utensils…” I stopped talking to bite into some more of the chicken, luxuriating in the savory flavors for a moment before continuing. “All of these would require active mental control— it’d be good practice.”

“That much is true.” Minerva said with approval before nodding and returning to her meal. And so the minutes passed as we all engaged in small, but pleasant talk. Professor McGonagall seemed to relax more and more as the meal went on, which was a good sign.

Though, I could still tell that she wasn’t still at a hundred percent; her soul thread still twisted for a split second every time she turned her gaze to any of us. I imagined such deep seated regret took time to truly go away— if it ever did.

In the canon, she had never seemed particularly close to Sirius and the others, but I was more than convinced at this point that this world was different from the one portrayed in the books I’d read in my past life.

It made sense, after all. Rowling had written a series of tomes meant for younger minds, and she had never been able to truly explore each facet of each individual’s life. Perhaps Minerva McGonagall had truly felt that way in the books but it was never expanded upon because it didn’t seem important to the general plot?

I supposed it made sense— the old books were quintessentially high-school Dramas, peppered generously with Mystery and the setting just happened to be whimsical Fantasy.

But this… This was real life. Every person sitting in this room had a deeper, far richer backstory than a hundred books could convey— let alone seven.

That, however, opened up the avenue to different thoughts.

What should I do? I thought. Will the events of the Chamber of Secrets even happen this year? The overall political climate of Europe and Britain is different than it was in canon.

Would Lucius even try to sneak the Diary Horcrux to Hogwarts through Ginny Weasley? 

Considering that Harry was living here with me and Sirius, he wouldn’t be present for the confrontation between Draco and Ron at Diagon alley, which would prompt Lucius to show his face and make his bid— not that Draco would start a confrontation in the first place.

The boy had changed.

It hadn’t been much of a change, of course, but I had planted the seed of doubt in his mind. Unlike Sirius, who had rejected the ideals of the family he was born into as soon as he understood how wrong they were, Draco exemplified them, even if he didn’t fully agree with them deep down.

There was another reason for Lucius not to move as canon would have dictated otherwise; with the current danger brewing in the mainland, as well as Harry’s name and mine put in the papers after the attack on the Village du Phantasime, it wouldn’t make sense to release a dark artifact to the school and have it closed— it would hamper the ability of the general populace to fight back against the threat Grindelwald posed.

Then again, Lucius was a pretty slippery guy, all things considered.

Maybe he truly was throwing his lot in with Grindelwald? I had first considered the possibility that his visit to Phoenix’ Roost to be a simple ploy to destabilize the order of Magical Britain any way he could, but perhaps his actions were part of some grander plan involving seizing control over the country?

If so, what could the details be? Maybe I could subtly exchange information with Draco next year… Hopefully he’s in a talking mood.

I was brought out of my thoughts when I saw Sirius get up and pull out his wand. Before long,  the cake Sirius and I had done our best to make floated through the dining room doors. With another wave of his wand, lit candles appeared over it, spinning in a spiral as the cake set itself in front of Harry.

It wasn’t anything special— just a simple chocolate cake without any frills or elaborate decorations. The boy’s green eyes moved between the birthday message and us, the smile on his face radiant enough to banish away all the worries I had before.

The world could wait just one more day.

“Happy birthday to you…”

Just one more day.

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