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Derailed Fate

“So, what do your people think about the idea of building a theme park?” I asked Gornuk the Goblin as we exited the cart and began our trek back to Gringotts proper.

“Theme park?” Gornuk asked, his eyes squinting at me in suspicion.

“Yes, like a…” I stopped for a moment. “An amusement park. A large area in which you have multiple rides and attractions, games of chance, places to eat… wouldn’t it be quite the profitable venture? Especially for fast cart rides— you already know all there is to know about safety procedures and all that.”

Gornuk looked like he wanted to say something, but closed his mouth and gave me a sour look.

I frowned at that. Had I offended the creature? “Did I say something wrong? If so, I apologize.”

Gornuk regarded me for a few moments before nodding. “Perhaps you should learn more of your people’s history, young wizard.”

“My people’s history…” I repeated the Goblin’s words, getting a bad feeling even as I said it. “Ugh. Let me guess, there’s legislation that limits Goblin movements and places to set up shop.”

Judging by Gornuk’s following suppressed reaction of anger, I guessed right.

“I will read up on it.” I promised, and the words seemed to calm the creature down as we entered the large, shiny marble halls of the bank once again.

The rest of the trip went in silence as I pondered the Goblin’s response. I’d completed two years’ worth of tests in my First Year at Hogwarts, and History had been my weakest subject by far, for a very simple reason: Professor Binns killed the joy of learning.

His class was one I did my homework in— I never bothered to listen to anything he said. Instead, I checked the haphazard notes of my fellow students, cross-checked them with my assigned books and studied from there.

It was a true shame. People were disconnected and outsourced from their pasts now more than ever before. Most folks probably couldn’t tell you how something as simple as the food on their table was made nowadays; they just bought it from the grocer, or something equally silly.

They knew, on some base level, that crops had to be grown and harvested for them to have bread, fruits and veggies; or that animals had to be raised, milked and killed for them to have assorted meats and dairy on their table. However, they didn’t understand the sheer level of effort that sort of thing takes, even with magic.

Most wizards and witches were more like the denizens of Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley than the pioneering traveler. They picked a trade and mastered it at the expense of most of their other skills, and so they did not dedicate much interest towards other fields of study. Of those, History of Magic was usually the first one to be dropped and subsequently forgotten. 

And so, all that remained of those glorious old days was a collection of dilapidated buildings, mismanaged items and lots of dust-covered, fraying books which no one bothered to read out of a misplaced disgust brought forth by a teacher who should have been dismissed the moment he died— and probably back when he was still alive, as well. It was an open secret that the History of Magic class was considered by and large to be the free or nap period, and it was a shame.

Here was a chance to teach wizards to connect with the past of a world long gone, where people lived in vastly different circumstances than we could ever imagine. The battles, the politics, the everyday lives of those people— all of it was there, waiting for anyone to discover it. I thought, a hint of melancholy entering my thoughts. The struggles and triumphs of people not so different from myself, completely forgotten.

It was a sobering thought.

Death and time had nearly erased their very existence; now, they were only remembered by the half-assed notes of kids trying to pass their History courses with the bare minimum effort required. It was a travesty.

The saddest part was that, as these very same kids got old and died, they would also be reduced to footnotes— if they were even mentioned at all— in the next generation’s textbooks.

Such was the reality of the world. You live, you die, and then you are forgotten as your very existence is eroded by the passage of time, like waves on a beach washing your footprints away— the last physical traces of you ever being there.

Except I had lived, died, and come back. I was different.

I had been on this Earth for twelve years now, and I still had no idea why it was that I was brought here. All I knew was that it had something to do with the void and the Abyss.

Why? I asked, knowing that no answer would be provided to me.

I took a breath and gave Gornuk a nod as he disengaged from us, going back to what he was working on before.

“Let’s go.” Sirius said, leading the way along with Remus and Harry. I followed them from behind, allowing myself to be lost in my own little mental world for just a little while longer.

Exiting the bank, I felt the warm air of Diagon Alley brush up against my skin, pulling me out of my reverie.  I looked to see my three companions standing a few feet ahead, talking amongst each other.

“—maybe the Quidditch Shop first?” Sirius said. “Or maybe new robes?”

“Robes sound good.” Remus said, and gestured for me to come closer. “Then the bookstore?”

“All right.” Sirius said and gestured towards me. “Adam. Don’t fall behind.”

I nodded and matched their steps, moving to be alongside Harry as we walked through the crowds of wizards and witches going about their daily business.

It was certainly a sight to behold; with merchants shouting their slogans while displaying their wares and customers haggling for the best price. Diagon Alley had that specific nearly medieval charm, its cobblestone road accentuated by the brightly colored stalls that lined both sides of the street, each one offering a unique and exotic item.

“The Big Book Of Insults!” One peddler shouted over the rest, surrounded by a group of kids in their mid-teens. “Simply tap your wand against it, and the book will come to life and—”

“Sheep-biting, idle-headed, muddy-mettled buffoon!” The book screamed at the kids, who only laughed in return. I realized I was also smiling as we passed by.

As I continued down the street, I couldn’t help but feel the magic in the air. The energy of the market was infectious, and I found myself swept up in the good vibe of the lively scene. Everywhere I looked, there was something new to discover, from the various, mysterious trinkets on display to the tantalizing smell of food wafting through the air.

“We’ll definitely be grabbing some food later.” Sirius promised, and I saw that he, too, was looking quite hungry despite having eaten a few hours past. He gestured at Madam Malkin’s storefront ahead. “But, for now…”

“I’ll go and check a few things over at the… woodworking shop.” Remus said and left. We waved goodbye before entering the store proper.

Madam Malkin was working over a few students who looked like they were about to start their fifth year, so we waited. Luckily, she was almost done with them, and bid us to come over.

Getting fitted for new robes was exactly the same process as last year. Madam Malkin made some idle chatter here and there to make the time pass a little more smoothly. It was a testament to her professionalism that we were done in no-time at all.

Of course, sometimes she slipped, sneaking a few looks at my mismatched eyes and burnt arm, as well as Harry’s lightning bolt scar. My new brother didn’t seem to notice— or, if he had, he hid it well.

What a pair we make, huh. I thought to myself after the fitting was done, and Galleons were exchanged. Exiting the shop, I let out a light sigh. I suppose it’s better than last year, where she was looking at me like I was some kind of pathetic charity case.

“What next?” Harry said, stretching in the open air and sending a smile, which I returned.

Sirius checked the list of things we would need and gestured towards the Apothecary. My smile dimmed at the sight of that place. Unbidden, echoes of the past flashed before my mind.

A cold dark night, two opponents. A dragon-shaped vial colored a deep crimson.

I can see you now.” “Thieves, good at sneaking around like rats— but dueling?

A pool of blood beneath a struggling man.


I could feel the phantom pain over my shoulder. I could almost smell the blood of the man I killed. Auror Turner’s life had been taken by me, and all because I had been insistent on acquiring Dragon’s Blood from here.

It had been both senseless and pointless— a mistake. I hadn’t been skilled enough for the operation to be smooth.

“Adam?” Harry’s voice came from a few paces ahead of me. He looked confused. “Coming?”

“Y-Yeah.” I said and followed him. “Sorry. Got lost in thought.”

“Right.” Harry said as we entered the shop proper.

It was the exact same as I remembered from that night— nothing had changed. Everything was in its previous place. My eyes went to the door; that had been the only thing that was replaced, I realized.

I took a breath to try and calm myself down, but found myself grimacing at the wall of smells assaulting my nose. The air was thick with them, each smell more potent than the last. The sharp, tangy scent of ginger root mixed with the sweet, earthy aroma of mandrake root, creating a heady combination that made my head spin. The acrid, bitter smell of belladonna hung in the air like a fog, making my eyes water.

The shelves were lined with jars of powdered moonstone, vials of unicorn blood, and sacks of many different substances I couldn’t identify, each one adding its own unique scent to the mix. I refused to look anywhere near the direction of the singular table to the side, stocked full of Dragon’s Blood.

Taking another breath, I quickly acclimated and moved towards Sirius, who was holding two different pieces of parchment.

“Want me to get my year’s stuff while you do Harry’s?” I asked the man, hoping he didn’t notice my hurry to get out of here.

“Oh.” Sirius said, giving me a look. “You sure?”

“Oh, yeah.” I said, nodding in affirmation as he handed me the list. I looked it over quickly before nodding at the man. “No problem.”

Sirius looked at me for another second before nodding. “Harry, help him.”

“All right.” Harry agreed easily, and off we went to collect the supplies I would need for my third year’s curriculum.

“Think you should get the Fourth Year supply, too?” Harry said halfway through the process, laughing to himself.

I placed a few empty vials in my basket before looking towards Harry askance, trying to keep a tight lid on my emotions. “The thought crossed my mind, but no. No guarantee I’ll pass the exams, so no point in wasting money, right?”

I just want to get out of here as quickly as possible.

“‘No guarantee’, he says.” Harry rolled his eyes but didn’t push the issue. Another ten minutes, and we were done with our task. We moved towards the store’s clerk, standing aside as we waited for Sirius to finish up.

“Need some help, dearies?” The woman behind the desk addressed us after she was done ringing up the previous customers. “Waiting for your parents?”

“Yes.” I said, pointing towards Sirius, who was still gathering supplies. “I think he’s almost done, though.”

“Well, why don’t I start with what you’ve got, and then we’ll continue with him when he gets here?”

I nodded, happy to expedite the process as fast as possible. The lady worked diligently, and I felt my tension slowly ease as Sirius came as soon as she was done, adding his own products to the tally. She rattled off numbers as she added everything together, before taking Sirius’ money.

I did my best to make it look like I didn’t want to hurry out of there, but judging from the looks the two gave me, I realized that they hadn’t bought it. Did they suspect?

No, no. I thought, giving a mental shake of the head. They probably just thought I don’t like the smell— that’s probably it.

If they asked, that would serve as a good lie, since it was basically true; I didn’t like the smell of the place, after all.

Not that they would ask. I thought, realizing that I was being overly paranoid. Only two other people knew what really happened here. One was at Hogwarts, and the other was probably still holed up at Phoenix’ Roost.

Everything is fine. Calm down, Zero.

Taking another deep breath, I gathered myself and began to speak. “So, where to, next?”

“Well, I was thinking we’d meet up with Remus before having some lunch?” Sirius said, black eyes flickering towards a few of the restaurants in the area.

And so it was that we linked back up with Remus. We exchanged a few words, asking what he got from the woodworker, but Remus seemed to be doing his best to change the topic.

Strange. I thought, watching the man’s nervousness. Did something happen?

Judging by how his thread writhed and twisted, I imagined that he was likely doing something completely different.

But what? I thought, but then shook my head. It wasn’t my business what the man did in his spare time.

We picked one of the restaurants at random and went inside.

I felt my mouth water as I smelled the aroma of roasting meats and savory stews, mingling with the scent of freshly baked bread and buttery mashed potatoes. I could hear the clatter of plates and silverware as diners enjoyed their meals, punctuated by the occasional burst of laughter and lively conversation.

The server quickly took our orders before he found us a table and had us seated, but the liveliness of the place died down a tad once the people saw us.

“My word, it’s Harry Potter!” One of them said, pointing at the boy beside me, and the people began whispering amongst themselves.

Irritated, I pointed at him.

“My word! It’s… What’s your name?” I said mockingly; the guy gulped and raised his hands in surrender.

“I— I’m—” He stammered out a response and went quiet as he tried to get his words together.

“Well, whoever you are.” I continued unbidden. “It’s rude to point at people, but I’m sure you knew that before you made a mockery of yourself.”

My mismatched eyes swept over the rest of the crowd, seeing them avert their gaze sheepishly. Well, at least they all looked chastised enough. It was then that I realized that Sirius was also glaring at them, joined by Remus, who was giving them an unimpressed look.

The waitstaff, to their credit, immediately went to work by providing the customers with music, to get their mind off of what happened. Soon, things had gone back to normal.

“Adam…” Harry said from beside me as we took our seats; he gave me an awkward look. “You didn’t have to do that.”

I only shrugged in response. This would probably come back to bite me in the ass later, but I just couldn’t find it in me to care.

“Best they learn now, as early as possible.” I ended up saying. “They should know better.”

“He did the right thing.” Sirius added, giving me a nod from the other side of the table. “We’re not circus attractions, Harry.”

“I guess.” Harry said in response, before shaking his head in an attempt to push his own thoughts out. “So, Adam. Will you ever be getting a broom?”

It was the weakest topic shift I’d ever seen in my life, but I smiled and let Harry have it. “I’m not that good a flier. You know that.”

“Could’ve fooled me, what with Absol.” Harry said, smirking as the food slowly began to filter into the table.

“That’s different.” I said, shaking my head. “Absol is my friend. She’s not a broom.”

“I’ve yet to meet this Thestral of yours, kid.” Sirius said as we started to dig in. “We have room for her in the house, you know. You could have asked me to get her for you.”

I looked at him for a moment, hesitating on my answer.

“I know.” I said and tried to stall, biting into my welsh rarebit. I enjoyed the crunch of the toast and the gooey goodness of the cheese as my mind cobbled together an answer. “But she’s probably better off in the open fields and surrounded by nature— not some boring old house, even if we could probably expand the space and make it look and feel like a forest.”

Plus it costs money and resources to house her, and I don’t want to impose. Was left unsaid, but Sirius seemed to pick up on that as well, and so he nodded, letting the subject drop for now. The man was smarter than most people gave him credit for.

The rest of the lunch passed by fairly quickly. Before long, we found ourselves sitting back in our chairs, satisfied.

“That was good.” Remus said.

A chorus of hums followed Remus’ statement. I luxuriated in the feeling of fullness for a few minutes longer, listening to the group continue to chat, chipping in when asked but mostly content to just watch them with a small smile.

Soon, however, it was time to move on.

“Come on. Still lots to do today.” Sirius said as he pulled a few Galleons out of his pouch and moved towards the server who had greeted us at the door. We followed him as the two exchanged farewells, the woman whispering something that made Sirius smile.

“Still got it.” He said to himself, causing me to roll my eyes.

Noticing this, Sirius smirked. “What’s so funny, kid?”

“Nothing.” I said, shaking my head as we exited the restaurant. “So, what’s next?”

“…” Sirius stared at me for a second before scoffing in amusement and gestured to the left, in the general direction of Flourish and Blotts. “Books.”

I nodded and reached into my pocket, pulling out the same bit of parchment that Sirius had given me and reading through its contents. My eyes skipped over the majority of the list, stopping at a singular item.

Warding Off the Shadows: Gilderoy Lockhart’s Illuminating Insights by… Gilderoy Lockhart. Right. Who would’ve thought…?” I read the title. I had half-expected his name to pop out, as I hadn’t done that much to change the timeline drastically, but I was still surprised to see this fraud’s name on the list.

Though, what I hadn’t expected was that he would only assign a single book, one that didn’t look anything like the titles that I had been familiar with from the canon.

“I’ve had a look at it a while back— it looked quite promising.” Remus said, patting my shoulder.


I turned to look up at him, blindsided by that remark. “Really?”

Remus nodded, dumbfounding me as we entered the bookstore. The canon Professor of Third Year, agreed by all to be the best teacher the students had ever gotten, saying something good about Lockhart, arguably the most incompetent of the lot?

Were the fop’s books so convincing that even experts like Remus got tricked?

Lockhart killed my father.” Guffries’ words came back to me as I made my way through the bookshop, gathering all I would need for my Third Year of schooling. “They never say what happens to someone’s brain after a Memory Charm is used, do they?”

I shook the words away as I walked into another aisle, quickly finding the book in question.

Warding Off the Shadows.” I read the title slowly and began to flip through the surprisingly short book. It was nothing like I’d expected.

It’s just a bunch of spells with incantations and examples of practical use— more like a user manual than an autobiography or a tall tale. No crazy stories, nothing. I thought as I stopped at a page at random, reading through it. Remus was right. This is actually useful. I can’t even…

What the Hell was going on?

Could I actually be dealing with a competent Lockhart? The implications alone… Is this because of me? I know I’ve changed things, but how the heck would that have changed Lockhart’s baseline personality?

Had I altered fate’s flow with my existence? Was this meant to happen? Was Grindelwald right about me being free from the binding of Fate in this world? That didn’t make sense, though; how would that affect Gilderoy Lockhart— once again, a man I’d never met or interacted with? It just didn’t compute with me.

There was no reason for him to act in any other way than he had in canon, as I had not affected his life in the slightest. The man was a world traveler, going to faraway places like Thailand and Australia to chronicle his adventures— just how would my actions in Britain affect him?

Even Grindelwald’s actions had been mostly limited to Europe.

Just what the Hell was going on? It was then that I had a thought I’d been trying to avoid.

Could it be that I’ve been in an alternate universe from the beginning? I thought, feeling a chill crawl up my spine. Or maybe my actions are affecting the past?

Honestly, the second thought was utterly ridiculous, but the fact that I couldn’t reject it as impossible kept it in the back of my mind. The first thought was the one that made more sense; I wracked my brain, trying to remember as much as possible.

Quirrell hadn’t been quite what I expected, either. Hagrid had also possessed unknown depths which had surprised me; the same applied for quite a few people, but I had initially chalked it up to them simply being themselves— their personalities not being completely shown in the books simply because it wasn’t expedient to do so.

But, could it be that some people were completely different than what one would normally expect?

It was then that I heard a voice from behind me.


I froze, my apprehension washing away in the wake of the sense of familiarity I felt. I know that voice.

I turned to see someone I hadn’t expected to see— but then again, I should have. A bookstore was exactly the sort of place she would frequent. Thoughts of Fate, Gilderoy Lockhart and Gellert Grindelwald were swept away, filed for later pondering.

Instead, I focused my attention on the girl standing nervously before me.

She’d gotten a little taller and her brown hair was as thick and bushy as ever, but it was the same old Hermione Granger. Her large brown eyes were marred with indecision and fear as she took a step forward to me.

The last time we spoke, she had been furious with me, and I had completely ignored her wishes, dismissing every single concern she had. It was not one of my best moments, I had to admit.

What could I possibly say to that?

“Hermione…” I said, feeling my throat clog up as I tried to swallow down my sudden nervousness. What could I possibly say to her now?

It was as if there was a massive gulf between us— one of my own making. I couldn’t just say I was sorry and things would go back to normal, would they?

Awkwardly, I raised a hand. “…Hey.”

She took one look at my hand, and then at me. A long moment passed, and I wondered if I’d said the wrong thing yet again.

“Hermione, I—”

My vision disappeared under a massive, bushy brown sea of curls as the girl collided with me, nearly dropping us both to the ground from the impact. I felt the breath escape my body, even as the girl shook against me.

“I’m sorry!” She said, her voice muffled by my chest. I felt my shirt get wet— she was crying. “I’m sorry.”

Damn. I thought and hugged her back. “Hermione… I’m sorry, too.”

I patted her back, and she only shook more in response. This wasn’t what I expected to be doing when I stepped into Flourish and Blotts, but I supposed the world worked in mysterious ways.

“It’s okay.” I said as Harry came into view. “It’s going to be okay.”

Grindelwald, Lockhart, Voldemort, or the state of the timeline— none of it mattered, as long as I stayed true to myself and kept on the path I chose.

“It’s going to be okay.” I said again.

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