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August 1, 1992, 10:00 AM, Adam’s Room, Twelve Grimmauld Place, London

Adam Clarke

I rubbed at my eyes, feeling tired just looking at the thick, leather bound tome before me.

It was one Kreacher had directed me to find in the Black library. At first, I was a little worried I’d get called out for consulting it, but then I realized that Remus and Sirius would have likely made sure that anything in there was acceptable for Harry and I to read.

I traced my fingers over the bold, emblazoned letters of the book, reading the title out loud.

Breach Into The Unknown. No author.” I said, gaining a small smile. “Sounds more like I’m going exploring— ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’.”

Still, I knew I had the right article: having skimmed its contents beforehand, I knew that the book was filled with detailed descriptions of various curses, how they worked, and the methods used to break them. There were chapters on everything from breaking simple jinxes to complex spells that had been passed down through generations of dark wizards.

But it was the introduction that truly piqued my interest.

“The art of Curse Breaking is one mired in paradox; simple in theory, exceedingly complex in practice.” I murmured as I read through it.

It is with the greatest of care that I commit this knowledge to parchment. Any fool descendant of my House of Black who does not heed the many warnings within my codex will find that their lifespan is not as long as their inflated ego makes them believe. I read, entranced by the words of who could only be one of Sirius’ ancestors, one which happened to be the patriarch, no less. It was strange, then, that he hadn’t written his name down on the cover.

A Black who doesn’t fit the mold? I thought. I suppose it happens in all families.

“The first rule is the most important one.” I continued reading, shaking the previous thoughts away. “Understanding. Once a wizard gains a true understanding of something, they gain power over said thing. It is an obvious truth, often overlooked due to its seeming simplicity.”

“Herein lies the problem. Just what is understanding?” I smiled a little at the impromptu lesson in philosophy. “What does it entail? Do we truly understand a simple levitation spell if we do not know every aspect of its creation? It matters little if a person is able to cast said spell.”

I stopped for a moment before speaking to myself. “Heh. Reminds me of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Application is different from analysis, evaluation and creation, after all…”

To think that this ancient member of House Black subscribed to similar philosophical theories that the Muggles practice now…

Great minds, I guess. To say nothing of the irony. I thought in amusement, turning the page to read some more. “Curses are the culmination of human emotion channeled into spells— or what is being referred to more and more as ‘Dark Magic’. A silly, overly simplistic description for a deep and varied branch of powerful magic; it is, however, understandable as to why the name has stuck.”

I paused for a moment, considering the man’s words.

Dark Magic was a seriously misunderstood branch of magic, that much I agreed on. It was most certainly not all sunshine and rainbows, of course, but the lengths at which the Ministry seemed to go to censor information in the original plotline— sending innocent people to prison, refusing to go through due process, engaging in a smear campaign against a fifteen year old boy, and subsequently sabotaging the education of said fifteen year old boy’s peers…

None of these filled me with any sort of confidence as to their ability to gauge what is actually dangerous magic, versus what they personally approve of.

It’s like if I went ahead and made a blanket sweep ban on bananas. I thought, shaking my head with a scoff. Just cause they aren’t something I like. I’m sure I could come up with any number of convenient reasonings for why the ban exists, and people would eat it up.

They truly would; no matter what era I was in, no matter which world I was sent to, people were always the same: willing to believe anything if it allows them to be nice and comfortable in their little bubbles.

Just because I was living with wizards didn’t change this truth; if anything, it seemed to have reinforced it, since wizards and witches lived in literal bubbles: pockets of their— our. I corrected myself— civilization peppered across the world, hidden from the view of the Muggles.

As I understood the discussion pertaining to the Dark Arts, the main argument advocating for government censorship was as follows: Dark Magic’s sole purpose was to cause harm to others, whether wizard, goblin or any manner of creature.

Spells like the Cruciatus, Imperius and the Killing Curses came to mind, but also others, such as the Bone-Breaking Curse, the Entrail-Expelling Curse, and so on. All of these spells had one purpose.

It was a compelling argument to most people.

‘What possible use could you have for a Killing Curse?’ I could already imagine someone arguing. I shook my head.

To me, such a thing was ridiculous. The early years of my previous life were fraught with a peril the likes of which most civilized people would not be able to fathom unless they experienced it themselves, but that was the whole problem, wasn’t it?

The people making the rules were ‘civilized’. I laughed. As if there is such a thing. Liars and hypocrites all around.

It all made sense if you looked at them in such a light. What did I mean by this?

Think about it. Just how far back did recorded history go? A bit over five thousand years, if I remembered right? One of the earliest instances of recorded written history, at least as far as I could recall, was of the Mesopotamian people.

Its history had been roughly recorded more or less around 3500 BCE, alongside other civilizations such as the Early Dynasties of Egypt and Sumeria.

To put that number into perspective, the human race has been around for millions of years. True, we had the ability to communicate amongst one another and use logic in our thought processes, but we were— still are— primarily instinct-driven creatures.

As a people, we were born to hunt, eat, drink, piss, shit and fuck. We were born to kill so that we could survive, whether it was animals for food, or other humans for territorial disputes. Our entire history was one defined by hardship, struggle and strife.

Ancient humans developed new skills, made new discoveries and pioneered entire fields in response to society’s needs, passing these advancements along to our children so that they could ensure the optimal continuance of our race.

And yet, somewhere along the line, these very same humans convinced themselves that they were above their base nature, going so far as to shun it outright.

It was an exercise in foolishness. Humans, at their core, were the apex predators of planet Earth; magical humans, even moreso.

I wasn’t saying that society hadn’t made any significant strides, either. Obviously, I didn’t believe that a full reversion to our base nature was the answer to society’s problems.

No, that would be an unmitigated disaster. I thought, shaking my head. The society we had all built as a collective was a monstrous, wonderful thing which had allowed people like myself to thrive for a time.

Oh, yes. I knew that, were I to have been born in any of the previous eras, I would not have fared well at all— at least I assumed so. It was somewhat hypocritical of me to make this claim, but that fact did not take away from the reality.

The existing bodies of government, magical or not, were so obsessed with appearing moral and righteous that they engaged in ridiculous bans. For example, the muggle world often instituted bans on weapons based solely on how ‘scary’ they looked.

The Wizarding world also partook in such silly shenanigans: why were flying carpets illegal, for example? I remembered a small tidbit from the books which mentioned that, and I had confirmed it early in my first year here. Under penalty of a large fee, wizards and witches were expressly forbidden from enchanting carpets to fly, as they were considered a ‘Muggle Artefact’.

Why was that? Was riding a carpet truly dangerous? Why were we, then, allowed to ride brooms? Were brooms not an incredibly common item in a Muggle’s household? In fact, they were far more likely to be using brooms to sweep areas than they were handling their carpets.

I shook my head in annoyance. Inconsistencies within people’s logic never failed to get under my skin.

Back to the matter at hand.

So, how could I possibly justify the use of a Killing Curse? I examined the criteria necessary to cast the spell in the first place.

What exactly did I need to do to be able to cast such a spell? For one, power; it was a spell which needed considerable magical power to invoke. I imagined that wouldn’t be a problem for me, considering my existing ability with my Riposte Charm, Odgovor.

So, I had the available power for it.

What else? I needed the intent to kill; the logical next step. One cannot cast the Killing Curse if one does not intend to use it to kill another. Considering I had already killed a few people not a week ago, I had no doubt that I possessed the killing instinct required for such a spell.

In theory, if I pointed my wand at something and said the words, I would be able to cast a Killing Curse. Just what exactly made it a Dark Spell, then?

It kills people. The more ‘civilized’ part of me argued. That’s wrong. That sort of thing can’t possibly be justified.

But can’t it? I thought back, tilting my head as I took a breath. Can’t it be? What if I’m killing people to protect others? A spell which breaches all others and instantly kills whoever it hits— why waste time casting ten different spells in an attempt to break someone’s shield when I can simply break through it as well as end the other person in one stroke? How is it different from decapitating someone, or splitting them in two, any other magic?

I remembered Alef’s words to me from almost a year ago, in which he compared the Killing Curse to my void-infused Disillusionment Charm. Had that been Dark Magic, as well?

With a sigh and a shake of the head, I banished all of these thoughts out of my head before focusing on the book again. The void was something I planned to tackle when I had the space and privacy to handle it. I wouldn’t dare even think about it under Sirius’ roof.

Better to just focus on the task at hand. I thought and continued to read through the book, going through the first chapter carefully as it listed a few simple curses and the methods used to break them.

“Kreacher.” I said, and the elf responded with a pop.

“Master called?”

“Yes.” I said, lifting the book and showing it to the elf in question. “I just finished the first chapter, and I was wondering if any of the artifacts you stored in my room had curses which are easy to break. You would know all about them, since you probably saw many of them being enchanted in the first place.”

Kreacher stared at me for a moment, a strange look welling forth in his eyes before he nodded. “Yes, Master. I will bring it to you immediately.”

I barely had the time to open my mouth before a small box appeared on my desk.

“Hm?” I said, looking at it closely but making sure to keep my hands well away from it. “What’s this?”

“An old jewelry box, Master.” Kreacher said, shaking his head as if to say he was unsure. “Kreacher believes it holds an old family ring, though it has been many years since Kreacher has had the right to see what’s inside. The contents could have been changed.”

“I see… Though, a ring?” I said, feeling intrigued. Was this some sort of Black family signet straight out of fanon? “What does it do?”

Kreacher looked at me askance. “‘What does it do?’ Master asks, but Kreacher is confused.”

“Oh.” I winced and shook my head. “Don’t worry about it, Kreacher. I imagined everything in this house is enchanted to do something, like automatically cast a shield or blast fire… or just anything, really.”

“It is possible.” Kreacher said, nodding to himself. “Our great family has amassed many such trinkets, capable of channeling magical power to benefit their wielder.”

“Huh.” I said and looked at the box with even more interest. “So all I have to do is break the curse on whatever’s on the box?”

“Yes, Master.” Kreacher said, nodding with approval at my initiative. “Will that be all, Master? I was aiding the ingrate-Master before I had to disappear.”

I winced again. “I’m sorry, Kreacher. Yeah, go ahead and get back to Sirius. I’m just going to start with a few diagnostic spells.”

“Very good. Call for me if you are in trouble, Master. Kreacher does not wish to see you die horribly.” Kreacher said and disappeared before I could get another word in.

“Heh.” I smiled. “He likes me.”

A few moments passed before I grew serious again, casting my mismatched eyes down on the box to get a better look at it.

The small box of mahogany sat elegantly on my desk, its rich reddish-brown hues catching the light in a subtle yet alluring way. The box, while old, was meticulously crafted, with each groove and curve of its surface demonstrating the skilled handiwork of its maker.

What truly caught my eye, however, were the intricate green patterns that were inlaid into the box’s surface. Delicate and precise, they formed a series of interlocking geometric shapes that seemed to dance and shift with the light. Each pattern was bordered by a thin line of gleaming gold, adding a touch of luxury and refinement to the overall design.

I couldn’t help but wonder about its history. Who had owned it before? What secrets did it hold within its confines? Could it be as simple as a measly ring— a token of affection kept out of the wrong hands by way of a Curse?

It seemed a little ridiculous, but then the House of Black was one of such insanity that I didn’t put it past them. Looking at it a little more closely, I saw a very faint hum of power, moving along the box’s outer perimeter like a film of cotton.

“Appears to be harmless— energy looks almost fluffy, even.” I muttered to myself with a shake of the head. “But I suppose that’s what the trap is all about, huh.”

I drew my wand and held it a few feet away from the box, immersing myself in cautious, explorative curiosity. Inspicere Empiricus.

Teeth appeared in my mind’s eye, stained red with blood as they chomped and bit at anything that moved close enough to them. I opened my eyes with a start, staring at the box in a new light.

“I see.” I murmured as I stood, circling the box a few times. “So it’s like the Monster Book of Monsters, then? I suppose you would be called the Monster Box.”

In response, the Monster Box vibrated for a second, causing me to blink. “Huh.”

Sentient enough to respond to verbal communication. I thought incredulously. Wizards. I swear. But how do I open you?

I continued to go over my mental findings. It didn’t appear to have some kind of calming weakness like the Monster Book of Monsters did; I couldn’t just stroke its spine or anything. Still, the Blacks would not cast a Curse on something to have it never be opened again— unless it was some kind of muggle-bait trap they kept out of some sort of sick sense of amusement?

I suppressed the urge to sigh. That was a perfectly believable explanation; for all I knew, there could be nothing in the box. Maybe I should simply destroy—

No. There has to be another way. I thought. I had to learn how to safely break Curses without destroying the host body. How else would I be able to save Harry?

I sure as Hell wasn’t going to have Voldemort cast the Killing Curse on him, I’ll tell you that.

I wasn’t certain if that method would even work in this timeline; as far as I knew, it was never confirmed whether the Killing Curse failed to kill Harry along with the Horcrux in his scar because Voldemort had used the Elder Wand— which didn’t see him as its master— or because it only had one thing to kill.

Not the sort of thing I’d want to test, either. I thought. How would I even spin that, anyway? ‘Yeah, Harry, just gonna need you to stand still for a second, there we go— AVADA KEDAVRA!’

I snorted. That ridiculous hypothetical might actually work, come to think of it; the surprise attack, not the method of removing the Horcrux in Harry’s head.

I cast my inspection spell again, eyes fluttering with the same influx of information and imagery as before before opening the tome on Curse Breaking again to go through a few specific pages that seemed similar.

I nodded to myself. “A reactionary curse based on…”

Trailing off and keeping my wand at the ready, I moved my free hand closer and closer to the box. Once it got within five inches of the box, it stirred awake, opening its ‘maw’ to reveal a set of razor sharp teeth. Its contents were hidden by an obfuscation spell, showing nothing but blackness and adding to the box’s frightening nature.

Immobulus. The spell instantly flew out of my wand with a flash of blue, freezing the box mid-lunge, just as it was about to chomp down on my pinky. I moved quickly backwards, staring at the half-open box in a sort of visceral shock.

“Thing would’ve bit my finger off at the knuckle.” I said, exhaling slowly as the mild panic began to seep out of my body. Another wave of my wand and the box was forced shut with a solid, conjured chain. “Definitely not a warning bite for sure.”

I approached the box with a frown. If a Muggle had to deal with something like this, he or she would be lucky if all that happened was the loss of a single finger; either that, or they’d have some ridiculous reflexes, I supposed.

Someone caught unaware, however… This thing could potentially kill them, if they weren’t able to escape in time. Suddenly, I had a little more respect for what Arthur Weasley did for a living— stupid laws aside, of course.

I summoned one of my belts and tied it along the box to supplement the chain, feeling the box writhe and growl in my grasp. And then, I began to stroke it, hoping to find any sort of soft spot.

No such luck.

“I suppose it wouldn’t have been that easy.” I said and placed it back on the table before drawing my wand again. I practiced the motion shown to me in the book, focusing my will and intent on my desire to liberate the box from what ailed it.

And then, I hovered my wand over the box itself.

Libera.” I incanted slowly as I felt magic answer my call, rushing through my arm and into the ebony wand. “Maledictum!

A haze of silver slowly sputtered out of it, slowly enveloping the now-thrashing box. I shivered even as I felt my mind brush up against the curse.

I felt its composition, a twisted thread of toxic magic tied up in elaborate, tight knots. Reaching out, I closed my eyes and attempted to mentally reach to begin unwinding one at random.

The strings stirred in my mind’s eye, coalescing to form a monstrous albino canine with blood stained teeth.

It snarled and charged at me with no warning.

I dodged to the left, narrowly avoiding its snapping, drool-filled jaws with an inarticulate cry of panic. The dog-like thing was quick, however, and it came at me again, fangs bared and ready to rip my throat out.

This time, I dove to the right, rolling on the ground to avoid the attack.

Big mistake; barely a moment later, I was nearly face to face with the beast, and I knew that I was in trouble.

And so I did the first thing that came to mind. I kicked it in the face, hard.

It gave a little help and stumbled backwards, a little dazed.

Now’s my chance!

With a thought, my chains burst forth from my body and crashed against the creature, rolling it around the ground without mercy before wrapping around every limb.

“Easy, old yeller.” I said with a grim look as I pulled the creature back to me. “I’ve got to take you out back, I’m afraid.”

The dog continued to snarl at me, even as the chains tightened over it. Chain Coffin!

The astral air filled with squishes and cracks, as well as pitiful whines of agony before dying out suddenly.

The summoned creature shuddered once and was unmade, shifting back to the strings I had seen before. They weren’t as tight as they had been a minute earlier, but I could tell that they still required some work.

And so the meticulous process of unwinding each thread began. It was still tedious and annoying, but I had patience and time.

A little here. A little there. I thought, teasing the threads apart until it completely unraveled.

I stared at the string for a single moment before it flashed a bright green. A second later, I opened my eyes, realizing I was back in the real world.

I had fallen down, and judging from the general feeling of stiffness and the drool going down the side of my face, I’d been in that position for a while.

“What the Hell…” I said and slowly got back to my feet, surprised at just what happened. My eyes beheld the box again, and I slowly moved my hand over towards it.

It did not move or make a single sound. I grasped it in my hand, and it did not growl or thrash like before. Had the Curse been lifted?

A quick check with my analysis spell found no magic on it. I could even see it with my own two eyes— the small fluffy film of magic was gone. I removed the chain and belt which were keeping it shut and slowly opened the Monster Box up, ready to throw it away at the slightest chance of trouble.

The box opened with no trouble, revealing its contents. “Huh. So there really is a ring inside.”

I closed the box before placing it back on the table with a frown. The book had never said anything about me engaging in a fucking mental battle against the Curse.

It was then that I realized that the book itself was glowing.

“What now?” I said and opened it, realizing the glow was coming from the same page with the incantation— specifically from a spot in the book which had been left empty.

Before my very eyes, words began to form. The new passage said:

And so you show some promise, distant descendant of mine. You must be wondering as to why the information of the battle you just partook in was not revealed to you. The reason is simple— it is different for every person and thus cannot be prepared for in any way, shape or form. You have pitted your own essence against that of the curse and have defeated it. Had you failed, this book would have disappeared, only to be found again by the next Black, or Merlin forbid, outside wizard who wishes to learn the art of Spellbreaking. As things stand, however, congratulations.

I frowned at the words before me. Had the book only appeared in the Black Library when I asked for it, or had Kreacher known to direct me to it specifically? Magic truly worked in mysterious ways.

“Spellbreaking, huh?” I said to no one in particular, feeling excited.

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