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

Adam Clarke

Unwind the knot here, pull over here… I thought, doing my best to ignore the small pressure building in the back of my shoulder as I continued with my task. With this, it should completely unravel…

After a light application of mental force, I pulled my wand gently back, twisting it around the ring as I continued to spool together the Curse which had been wound around it.

Okay, moment of truth. I thought and stopped for an instant before redoubling my concentration. I moved the spool downward— the only direction I hadn’t tried just yet, only to feel a strong, familiar tug from the center of the ring.

At once, I lost hold of the Curse, watching as the ring was once more ensnared within the Curse’s effect.

“Damn it. The same issue again…” I swore for the third time that day, placing my wand down against the table and huffing. I stared at the ring with a half-pleading expression. “Why isn’t this working? Is there something missing? Am I trying to run before I can walk?”

The ring did not provide me with any answers, and so I scoffed and got up, pacing in a circle for a few seconds before grabbing the book on Spellbreaking.

I flipped through the pages, much as I had before, but there was nothing of use. I sighed and placed it back on the desk.

The book did indeed have a few specialized spells for certain curses, but according to the author, I only really needed the one spell I had learned to begin with— the one that draws out the Curse and forces it to expend its energy in an attempt to overwhelm me.

He or she didn’t seem to be much of a fan of theoretical learning— at least, anything beyond the basics of ‘understand the curse which you are aiming to break’. This made things extra hard for me, seeing as I had no real frame of reference. 

I suppose I can’t blame him. I thought after a few moments of thought. I can’t expect one guy to have cataloged all Curses in existence as well as their weaknesses, no matter what family they’re from. No one is infallible.

So, where did that leave me exactly?

“Simple.” I murmured to myself. “I have to research the Curse in question, figure out how it works, maybe even learn to cast it.”

That made sense. The best way to undo something is to first learn how it was done, after all.

Hopefully the Black Library had something useful for me. I didn’t want to be forced to wait until the school year began before I could resume my extracurricular studies.

Granted… I thought as I turned my gaze towards the right, where a rolled up rug was placed up against the corner. I still have other projects to indulge in, if I can’t find anything. I won’t be bored.

And so it was, with a much lighter heart that I went to the library in search of a book on curses. Minutes passed, but I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for.

“I suppose that’s that.” I murmured. “I’ll give it one more search, and…”

“Adam!” Sirius’ voice came from the doorway, and I turned to see him enter the Library. “I thought I’d find you here.”

I nodded in greeting. “Sirius. Hi.”

The man stopped what he was about to say and shot me a grin before speaking again. “Hello. How are you doing?”

“I’m doing fine.” I answered and gestured at the Library. “Looking for a book on Curse breaking.”

“Oh?” Sirius said, smiling. “Looking to be a journeyman, when you graduate Hogwarts in a few years?”

That caught my off guard. “… Come again?”

“A journeyman Cursebreaker, kid.” Sirius clarified. “A job full of adventure, I was always told. Would have been my choice were it not for the, uh… Well, the war.”

He paused for a moment before shaking his head. “But that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I can’t recall any good books on Curse breaking here, but if you like, I can buy you some, next week.”

“No, no.” I said immediately. “You don’t have to waste the money, I—”

“The money’s not wasted, kid.” Sirius cut in gently, but firmly. He sighed as he moved further in the room, taking a seat and gesturing for me to join him.

I took one step to him before realizing I still had a book in my hand. I apologized and returned it quickly before joining the man.

“Listen.” He said. “I know me adopting you was a pretty sudden and random thing— you probably didn’t even expect me to say yes. I know that.”

I didn’t say anything as the man continued to speak his mind. “But I am now your, well… your new dad. And if you need anything, all you need to do is ask. Books, food, clothes, supplies… A nice little place for your Thestral companion to live in. You know that, right?”

“I do— I do.” I swallowed, not having expected the conversation to take this turn. “I uh… thank you. I mean, um…”

“So the unflappable Adam Clarke can still be wound up, huh.” Sirius said and laughed before giving me a gruff pat on the shoulder. “I’ll look into getting you some books on curse breaking— I believe Harry’s best mate’s brother works as one?”

“Yes.” I nodded. “Ron’s brother, Bill Weasley. Ron says he works for Gringotts.”

“Perfect.” Sirius said, bringing his hands together as if that settled the matter. “I’ll write to him, see what he recommends.”

That’s… actually a really good plan. I thought and smiled. “All right. Thank you…”

“You’re welcome, kid.” Sirius said as he got up and patted my shoulder before turning to leave.

Halfway there, he paused and palmed his face. “Right, almost forgot what I came in here to do. Adam.”

“Yes?” I asked, frowning in confusion.

“Remember Su’s mother?” Sirius said as he gained a bit of a smile.

How could I forget? I thought, bemused at the recollection of that meeting at the station. Yan had been a stunning lady with a presence you simply couldn’t take for granted. “… Yeah, I remember. Is she all right?”

“Oh, she’s fine.” Sirius said, waving off my sudden concern. “In good spirits from what I saw— she’s invited us all over to her place on Saturday.”

“Oh!” I said, opening my mouth slightly in understanding before continuing. “She did say she’d invite us when we saw her last, yeah. I remember.”

“That’s right.” Sirius said, pulling out a letter from his pocket and handing it to me.

My eyes widened at the ostentatiousness of it— I’d never seen parchment of such high quality, or with such a thick, rich texture. I ran my fingers over it for a few moments, looking at the broken wax seal depicting a Chinese dragon in flight.

I read through its contents quickly:

To the Most Ancient and Most Noble House of Black,

It is with great pleasure that I, Yan of the Li Family, invite you to a high-profile birthday celebration in honor of my daughter, Su Li. The celebration will take place on the nineteenth of August at two o’clock at Banquet Hall, located at Diagon Alley.

As a well-respected individual in our community, Su’s birthday is a day of significance, and this event promises to be one to remember. We have invited a select group of high-profile guests, in which you, and many other notable families have been included.

The dress code for the event is formal attire. This is a special occasion, and we want our guests to look their best.

Please RSVP by the thirteenth and let us know if you have any dietary restrictions or special requirements. We will do our best to accommodate your needs.

We look forward to celebrating this special occasion with you. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Yan Li

Li Family

“Uh…” I read through it again before handing it back to the man. “This doesn’t feel like your usual friendly get-together. Too official and fancy.”

“Indeed. It’s much more than that.” Sirius said, giving me a nod of approval. “Yan might work as a model, but the family she and her daughter Su are part of is very influential.”

“The Li Family.” I frowned at that. “Influential, and this party is…”

“Officially it’s for Su’s birthday.” Sirius said, sharing my expression. “Unofficially, from the way this thing is worded and the request for formalwear, I’m not sure… it’s definitely something political. I don’t know what kind of plans the Li family has with Britain— they’ve usually stayed out of the politics here.”

My mind whirled with outlandish theory after outlandish theory.

“Great. Just great…” I said, pushing my thoughts away for the moment. “Half tempted to not go now.”

“Normally, I’d be right there with you.” Sirius said. “We don’t really owe them anything— true, you’re friends with Su, but she’s a kid, and most likely doesn’t want to be part of something so boring.”

“True.” I said, though I had a feeling it wasn’t as simple as that. “But…?”

“But…” Sirius said, nodding. “Families like that can be truly uptight— and easy to offend on top of that— and I can’t believe I just said that. I sound just like my Grandfather, Arcturus.”

“Maybe there was something to your grandad’s method…” I searched his face for a few moments, trying to piece it all together. “You think that, if I choose not to come, the head of the family might decide that he doesn’t want his kids associating with us?”

Sirius absorbed my words before nodding. “Yes, exactly.”

I frowned. “So we have to go.”

“Well, we don’t have to go, obviously. No one can come here and force us to, after all.” Sirius said, running a hand through his long black locks. “Personally, I’d rather just stay here and not deal with any of that nonsense, but…”

“But…?” I repeated, not sure where he was going with this.

“Well, just think about it, kid.” Sirius said, placing his elbows on the desk as he leaned back. “After the things we dealt with in France, I don’t think that I can, with a clear conscience, just ignore formal events like these anymore; think of it this way: we could try to find out who’s with who, and maybe get an idea of what all groups there are and what they could be doing… People love to talk, especially after they get a little tipsy at parties. Someone will let something slip.”

“Information gathering so we don’t get caught off guard next time?”

“That’s exactly it.”

I took a deep breath as I considered the man’s words. They were not at all what I was expecting him to say— but then, people had surprised me before in the past.

To see Sirius being so proactive about things he would likely deem to be distasteful and beneath decent folk… It was a humbling experience.

“You know.” I said with a shake of my head. “Any other parent would have tried to keep their kids in the dark about something like this.”

Sirius gave a laugh at that.

“Maybe you’re right.” He said as he moved towards the window, staring outside as if he saw something no one else did. “Anyone else wouldn’t have held dueling practice sessions, or even bothered talking about the past war. But then, those would be regular, normal people.”

I chuckled. “I suppose you, Harry and I are anything but.”

“All too true, kid.” Sirius said. “You both may only be twelve, and yet you’ve seen things and dealt with situations men and women twice your age would cower from— more than twice. Not only that, you succeeded. After all that, how could I even consider keeping either of you remotely in the dark?”

“True… and it wouldn’t have worked even if you tried.” I said, drawing a laugh out of the older man.

“I suppose not.” Sirius conceded as he got up, taking the letter back. “So, still interested in going…?”

“Sure.” I said, half-suppressing a grimace. “I suppose we’ll need to get fitted for formal robes, right?”

“Yep.” Sirius said, a small grin on his face as he got up and moved towards the doorway. “We’ll need to go back to Diagon Alley to get all of that squared away. And, Adam?”


“About keeping secrets…” Sirius said, getting a light look of mischief in his eyes. “If you really wanted to practice your skill at Curse breaking on cursed objects, you could have just asked— who do you think built Reggie’s old hideaway in his room?”

And then he exited the library, leaving me alone with my thoughts.

I stared at where the man used to be for a few seconds before throwing my head back and laughing.

“Sirius Black, huh…” I said to myself in a low voice. “Coming here really was the best move— even if it was a half-assed, harebrained plan at the time.”

Smiling, I went back to looking for more books. I didn’t find anything useful, but that didn’t mar my good mood.


Same Time, Private Quarters, Phoenix’ Roost, England

Lord Voldemort

He stood before a cauldron, his tired hands gripping a long, twisted wand. His face was pinched and a little pale, his eyes red and snake-like as he peered into the bubbling contents of the cauldron.

Staring into its depths for another three seconds, he added a handful of crushed unicorn horn to the cauldron, watching as it dissolved and gave the potion a faint golden glow.

Next, he carefully measured out a few drops of snake venom, deadly enough that it could kill a man with a single drop. He stirred it into the potion, watching as it turned from gold to a sickly green.

But Voldemort was not done yet. He reached for a small vial of blood-red liquid and poured it into the cauldron, causing the potion to hiss and steam. This was dragon’s blood, the most powerful and dangerous ingredient of them all.

With a final flick of his wand, Voldemort stirred the potion clockwise three times, then counterclockwise five times, then clockwise again. He muttered a few words under his breath, his red eyes blazing with a mad, feverish intensity.

This potion, he knew, would grant him the gift of remaining in this body for just a little longer, allowing him to enact his plans with little to no issue.

But as the potion simmered and boiled, Voldemort knew that he could not afford to make any mistakes. One wrong move, one misplaced ingredient, and the potion could turn deadly, killing the host body instantly. He watched the cauldron carefully, his mind focused and alert, ready to act at a moment’s notice.

For Voldemort, this was not just a potion. It was a means to an end, a way to achieve the ultimate power and control. And he would stop at nothing to see his plan come to fruition.

It was then that the potion bubbled one final time before growing still as the empty night, its color shifting to a dark navy.

Voldemort took a small whiff from the cauldron, nodding to himself, though he didn’t look particularly pleased at his handiwork.

As much as can be hoped for with the level of ingredients I have access to. He thought to himself as he meticulously bottled it all up.

This batch of Potion should last him for two months— three if he rationed it correctly.

It will have to do, for now. Voldemort thought as he Vanished the contents of his cauldron before moving to the seemingly empty corner. 

A negligent wave of his wand and the air shimmered, revealing a small, closed cabinet.

Lord Voldemort opened it, revealing the bubbling cauldron within. He scrutinized it for more than a minute, feeling out the mixture’s magical energy with a deft, practiced hand that made sure the integrity of the Potion was not threatened at any time.

Even the most minor of mistakes would force the man to start anew. He couldn’t afford to let that happen, not when his plans were so close to coming to fruition.

Master.” His servant’s hiss came abruptly from the other side of the room. “Someone approaches!”

Voldemort nodded and gave his reply even as he closed the cabinet door, tapping his wand atop the furniture and making it disappear. “Calm yourself. It is likely to be a routine patrol, just passing by.”

He then reapplied the glamour over his eyes, hiding the blood-red irises from view.

Seconds passed and Voldemort heard people from outside stopping by his quarters. A moment later, there was a knock on his door.

So it’s not a routine patrol… Voldemort thought and tensed himself for a duel as he slowly moved towards the entrance. He felt Kersil slithering up his leg, winding her way around his arm even as he opened the door, revealing a wizard and a witch in the uniform of the guards of the order.

“Mr. Marco.” The witch said. “You have been summoned.”

“Summoned?” Voldemort repeated, affecting a sound of confusion. “Apologies, but what is going on?”

“Nothing to worry about.” The other guard said, giving him a nod and a smile. “I believe it’s something to do with your next assignment.”

“A new assignment…” Voldemort repeated again, making a show of scratching his chin before gesturing at himself. “May I have a minute to freshen up some?”

“Thirty seconds.” The man gave him a strained smile, closing the door behind him.

Back in the privacy of his own room, Voldemort allowed himself to lose his pleasant expression, replacing it with a sneer of disgust and annoyance for a few moments before he forcibly smoothed it over.

A new assignment… He thought to himself as he waved his wand over himself, tidying his clothes as well as he could while he pondered the new developments. It will keep me away from my brewing— especially at this critical stage.

He cast a glance towards the corner of the room, where the Felix Felicis Potion was simmering. Should he Vanish the Potion right now? It was possible that, after whatever meeting he would be attending, he wouldn’t be able to come back here.

No. He thought to himself. Considering the time of day, this seems like more of a routine assignment than something as sudden as my… test had been.

His mind made up, he went back to the door and opened it just as the guards were about to knock again.

“Ah, good.” The witch said with a nod. “Ready?”

“Please, lead the way.” Voldemort told them and on they went. They passed through the halls of the mansion, down the stairs and to the ground floor.

Where are they taking me? He thought in only slight confusion, though he continued to follow them. Shouldn’t we be going to the main office to meet with Grindelwald or one of his officials?

The answer, it turned out, was no; as Voldemort exited the mansion proper, he saw that Grindelwald, as well as his right hand Matthias Auer were at the center of the gardens, enjoying a cup of tea in the sun.

It was a bit of an oddity, but not an unbelievable one, Voldemort supposed— he’d dealt with many eccentric wizards and witches over the years. He followed the guards past the entrance of the garden, where he was greeted by Auer.

“Ah, Mr. Marco.” The man said as he got up to shake his hand. “Good to see you; I hope I haven’t interrupted your sleep, or anything.”

Voldemort shook his head, plastering on a pleasant smile. “It is no trouble; I was merely reading a good book. I can always return to it later, when the important work is done.”

“Of course, of course.” The words rolled out of Auer’s mouth like he’d been practicing them since the day he was born. “Now, as to why I’ve called you here… Mr. Grindelwald and I have been going over your record with us so far, and we are most impressed with what we’ve seen so far.”

Voldemort dipped his head with false gratitude. “You honor me.”

“The honor is ours, my friend. Please, lift your head.” Matthias said, and Voldemort did as he was asked. “Now, as for your next assignment, how do you feel about performing as one of Mr. Grindelwald’s guards?”

A guard? Voldemort felt a bit of surprise rush through him, making his next expression seem far more genuine than any other. “I… I had not expected such a posting.”

That didn’t seem like the right thing to say, because Matthias gained something of a strained look. “Ah, perhaps it is not what you wanted to hear?”

“Oh, of course not.” Voldemort made sure to quickly say before the man misunderstood. “Protecting the safety of Mr. Grindelwald— that is a high honor, indeed. I had simply assumed I would be undergoing several more missions to prove myself.”

That was, of course, a bald-faced lie. Gellert Grindelwald was one of the most powerful wizards on the planet, able to out-duel entire squadrons of wizards all on his own. A guard detail for him was a joke, plain and simple.

Still, appearances needed to be kept, and so the wizard required a force of guards. It seemed that ‘Marco’ would be joining their ranks soon.

“Oh, of that there is no doubt, Mr Marco.” Matthias said while Grindelwald continued to enjoy his tea, not at all paying attention to their conversation in the background. “We will, of course, still require you to go on missions now and again, but your main job would become that of honorable guard. Our Leader’s safety is of paramount concern, after all.”

Paramount concern, ha! Voldemort thought before speaking again. “Of course. When do I begin?”

Matthias nodded at his question as he threw a look towards the witch who had come to get him.

“This afternoon, or maybe tomorrow morning?” She suggested, to which Matthias smiled.

“Tomorrow morning is fine.” Matthias said and gave Voldemort a pat on the shoulder. “Should give you enough time to acclimate to your new change in position— perhaps even celebrate?”

Voldemort plastered a smile on his face and moved to shake the man’s hand. “Yes, that does indeed sound lovely. Thank you for the honor, Mr. Auer— truly.”

“Think nothing of it, Mr. Marco. You’ve certainly earned it.” Matthias said and gestured for Voldemort to leave. “I believe I’ve taken your time for long enough— go on.”

“Of course.” Voldemort said, giving the two men respectful nods. “Have a good day, Mr. Auer. Mr. Grindelwald.”

And then he left. Not twenty steps away from the two leaders, he was approached by the witch again.

“Meet me here tomorrow morning, and I’ll show you the ropes… guardsman.” She gave him a smile before turning away and going back to her post, leaving Voldemort alone.

He turned and walked away, considering the implications of all that had happened in the last few minutes. Tomorrow, he would assume the role of Grindelwald’s guard, a highly useless position in terms of necessity but incredibly useful to his needs.

Still, didn’t it seem that everything was going a little too right, for once? He knew that the guards had been on edge ever since they’d found dead snakes attempting to sneak into Grindelwald’s solar.

Was his addition to their ranks simply a result of that? Could the guards simply be feeling nervous about their numbers and request a new recruit or two? Voldemort cast his gaze towards Auer and Grindelwald, who seemed to be exchanging quiet words between each other.

Grindelwald hadn’t even bothered looking Voldemort’s way, which was strange to him. He could chalk it up to the man simply trying to enjoy a well earned rest in the afternoon sun, but Voldemort somehow doubted that this was anything but unintentional.

Could he be aware that I am one set to become a traitor? He thought to himself as he moved away, closer to the forested area. He passed the training field before stopping at a lone tree and sitting at its base while he cobbled together all he knew of the situation. My tracks have been well covered— the snakes dead, my skill sets as hidden as can be. And yet he seems to suspect me of… something.

If that was the case, however, why would he have promoted Voldemort to the role of guard? Wouldn’t the wiser course of action be to apprehend him, the first chance Grindelwald got?

Unless… He thought in a moment of realization. Unless he just doesn’t care about my actions? Impossible; there’s no way that can be right.

The thought was ridiculous beyond all measure, and yet it persisted despite all attempts to dissuade himself of any such notions.

He let out a light breath, staring up at the tree’s foliage, swaying gently in the wind. Whether he knows of my aims and is outright aiding me, or whether this is a stroke of unbelievably good fortune, I suppose it makes no difference. I will achieve my aims regardless.

And he would— no matter how many bodies he had to step over in his quest for immortality.

For he was the Dark Lord Voldemort, and he stood above the rest.

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