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August 19, 1992, 2:00 PM, Dining Hall, Dragon’s Gate, England

Adam Clarke

It wasn’t long until the Malfoys noticed our approach, and I could tell, even from this distance, that the thought of sitting next to us was not one they found appealing.

Still… I thought as I stifled the urge to smirk. The fact that we accepted to sit by them so easily puts the pressure on them to comply, lest they become labeled disturbers of the peace. It would invite others to look upon them unfavorably, and that’s something they can’t afford to do right now— not with the current geopolitical landscape of Europe.

Even as I had these thoughts, I knew that Lucius and Narcissa were having similar ones, judging by how their threads seemed to jitter in unabated annoyance. My mismatched eyes flitted a little to the right, where they met with Draco’s.

His face was set in stone, but I could tell that he was agitated without even needing to look at his thread; I could see it in his body language.

Considering our fairly long acquaintanceship, I imagined that the boy didn’t know how to even react in this situation.

It made sense; you generally couldn’t expect kids to be particularly good at this sort of thing, no matter how well they understood their family’s objectives.

Draco stared at me for a little longer before pointedly looking away.

I suppose that’s as good a reaction as can be expected. I thought. When in doubt, pretend the other party doesn’t exist. It allows him to avoid the topic of our acquaintanceship, and pulls him out of the conversation entirely.

It wasn’t something his parents could do, unfortunately. It would have been rather great if they just ignored us, but life always had other plans in mind.

“Here are your seats.” Tang’s voice interrupted my thoughts as she gestured at them. “The dinner will commence sometime after the Lady Su arrives. If there is anything you require, please feel free to request assistance from our attendants.”

I looked around, seeing many servants placed in various positions in the large room, and nodded as Sirius thanked the woman.

“Very good. I shall take my leave, then.” Tang said with a quick bow before she left, leaving us standing there for a few moments.

“She was pretty polite.” I broke the silence and took my seat, making sure not to sit directly next to Lucius. Who knew how he would react to the uppity Mudblood beside him?

I felt for my wand, tucked away in my robe, finding comfort and safety in the rush of warmth it gave. I should ask Sirius for a wand holster, or something. Maybe make one myself… Yeah. After my work on the treadmill is complete, I’ll make myself a wand holster.

“Cousin.” Sirius greeted Narcissa with a nod as the family got up to greet him. “I hadn’t expected to see you here.”

‘I probably wouldn’t have come if I had known’ was left unsaid, but she picked up on it anyway.

Narcissa, with her regal posture and piercing gaze, began to speak; her high voice was laced with subtle condescension. “Sirius Black… How delightful it is to see you gracing us with your presence tonight. It seems Azkaban did little to improve your manners.”

“What can I say, cousin?” Sirius, never one to back down from a challenge, flashed the woman a smile that seemed to make her thread jitter in a strange mixture of nostalgia and annoyance, though her facial expression remained as icy as ever. “I was always the white sheep of our family, wasn’t I? Speaking of manners, aren’t you going to introduce us?”

He might not like her, but he’s definitely enjoying this. I thought, fascinated, as Harry stared between the two in confusion and mild unease. Calling her cousin to drive her up the wall while playing her game; Sirius really can ham it up when he wants to, eh?

A ripple of tension swept through the immediate area as the other guests at the table caught wind of the underlying hostility. Undeterred, Narcissa’s lips curled into a slight smile, her eyes gleaming with cool pride as she gestured towards her husband and son.

“My husband, Lucius.” Narcissa said before grasping Draco’s shoulder lightly. “And my son, Draco, who shares a year with your boys.”

“Not both— Adam will be starting his Third Year, come September.” Sirius said, gesturing at me.

“Adam Black.” I introduced myself and bowed my head with just enough respect that was acceptable, but high enough that it showed that I did not regard them with any form of respect beyond that which is afforded to peers— and seeing as her family thought me inferior, I imagined it would rankle. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“And this is his brother, Harry Potter.” Sirius continued, nodding towards Harry.

“Hello.” Harry said, doing his best to seem polite despite his obvious look of wariness and mild disgust. “How do you do?”

Lucius’ eyes narrowed, but he seemed to keep his cool as he instead flashed us a thin, polite smile. “Mr. Potter and Mr. Clarke; we meet at last… I’ve heard much about you two over the course of the year.”

It took all of my self control not to swivel my eyes in Draco’s direction.

“Have you?” I said, affecting a look of confusion as the man took a step forward, holding his hand out for Harry to shake. Baffled, the boy took it without thinking.

“Lucius Malfoy.” He introduced himself, pulling Harry closer so he could get a better look at his scar. “Forgive me, Mr. Potter; your scar is legend. Surviving such a lethal curse— and at such a young age, no less… An incredible feat of magic, one could say.”

Harry stayed silent for a moment before pulling himself away, having had enough of that particular exchange. “If you say so.”

“And you, Mr. Adam.” Lucius said and turned his attention to me, specifically not using my last name.

I supposed this was his best way of denying the uppity Mudblood the satisfaction of gloating about being part of a Noble and Ancient pureblooded House. “Your name has been mentioned at the Ministry many a time; a gifted young mind such as your own tends to attract attention from all sorts of places.”

“I see.” I said, suppressing the urge to shiver at the man’s silky, yet somehow threatening words. “Well, the people’s tongues will always wag, won’t they? Most of the time, they don’t even know what they’re saying.”


“It’s quite the party, isn’t it?” Sirius said, gaining everyone’s attention as he swept his eyes over the large, opulent dining hall. “I must say, the ambiance here is quite impressive.”

I took the small reprieve to look at Draco, who seemed to be doing his best to avoid looking at me. Had he told them anything? After a few seconds of trying to get his attention, I decided to give up and let it go.

Whether or not the boy gave them any information on me didn’t matter in the end, I supposed. They were under a magical oath not to reveal anything about their visit.

Narcissa offered Sirius a false smile. “Of course, cousin. However, one can hardly expect anything less from a noble house like the Li Family. They, like many respectable families, value refinement and taste.”

“Indeed.” Lucius said with a cool expression, sharing a quick look with his wife. “Refinement is a quality one must appreciate. Although I can’t help but wonder if such appreciation is something that can be learned or if it requires a certain… pedigree.”

I saw him glance at me and realized that this was a barb aimed at me.

“The age-old question of nature versus nurture, is it?” I jumped in the conversation, surprising everyone listening in. “Could you be suggesting that only those born into long-standing Pureblood families can truly appreciate the finer things in Wizarding life?”

Lucius’ eyes glinted with the barest hints of malice and ill will. “Not at all, Mr. Adam. But one can argue that an acquired taste pales in comparison to a refined sensibility, which has been honed over the generations.”

“Hm.” I raised my hand to my chin as I considered his words. “An interesting viewpoint, to be sure.”

“Indeed it is, young man.” Narcissa said, her voice dripping with false sympathy as her eyes swept over my form with an arrogant, dismissive air. “It takes more than a name and a well tailored set of robes to truly appreciate all of the subtleties you’ll find in Pureblood society.”

Might as well shout, ‘you’re not one of us, you uppity little Mudblood!’, while you’re at it, eh? I thought, feeling a supreme amusement as I fixed the two Malfoy adults with a look one would give when indulging the antics of a child. “Indeed an interesting viewpoint, however quaint and shortsighted.”

“Oh?” Narcissa’s eyes flashed dangerously for such a short instant I thought I had imagined it. “And what do you mean by that, Mr. Adam?”

“‘Mr. Black’, if you please.” I corrected and smiled at the woman, seeing her thread twist in rage at the very sound of me saying that name. “As to your earlier statement, however, I believe that an acquired taste is superior to the alternative in every way, shape or form.”

“Is that so?” Lucius said, somehow managing to convey both a sense of curiosity and dismissiveness.

“Those born into wealth and good standing, for the most part, cannot appreciate the true value of said wealth, as well as their land and holdings.” I said, gesturing as I explained my own viewpoint. “I am not, of course, suggesting that they do not know how many Galleons and assets they may possess.”

I took a breath as I considered what to say next.

“However, those are just numbers on bits of parchment; they… do not reflect the reality of the matter. Ones born into such positions have never needed to sow the fields, reap the grains, so to speak.” I said. “They don’t run shops, or inns or any other establishment— not the day to day operations; they’ve never had the need to ‘dirty their hands’ with any form of labor… And so they have no understanding of the value of their holdings— no true understanding of what it took to get there.”

“Hmm.” Lucius said, sounding mildly surprised by my answer. I suppose he didn’t expect a kid to hit him with all of that. “I see the point you’re trying to make, Mr. Black.”

He called me Black? I thought, surprised as well.

“However.” He said, ignoring the way Narcissa looked at him. “Consider this, if you would. It is true that the wealthy man does not engage in the activities of the people working under him, but their work, while tedious and often taxing on both body and magic, is often fairly straightforward and simple, with easy to complete, but repetitive tasks.”

He waited just long enough to accentuate his next point.

“The holder of the estate, on the other hand, must work to manage his finances and holdings; it is most assuredly not a task to be taken lightly. There are quite a few factors to take into consideration, like the size and complexity of his operation; the legal and financial considerations he would need to keep in mind, lest he run afoul of the authorities; the need to resolve any possible conflicts between the workers underneath him; there are many more things to consider when one examines the life of the high born, but there is too much to cover for it to fit in a conversation such as this one. I would not claim things to be as simple as you put it.”

I opened my mouth and closed it as I absorbed the man’s argument.

He’s right. I thought. Not completely right, but there’s enough truth in there that he has me stumped.

I gave the man a hum and a nod, deciding to let him have this one. “I never looked at it that way. I don’t agree with everything you said, but you’ve given me much to think about, Mr. Malfoy. Thank you.”

“It is always good to see the next generation able to accept the words of wisdom offered by the previous.” An old lady commented from the opposite side of the table, though her tone was frosty, all the same. “No matter who the source is.”

I turned my gaze to the woman in question, finding something familiar about her. “I do my best to be as impartial as possible, Mrs…”

“Longbottom.” She said, her tone imperious. “Augusta Longbottom. A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Black and Mr. Potter.”

Of course. I thought as I truly looked at her. Wearing a set of fine robes with a vulture’s motif, she commanded a certain attention despite her advanced age. Deep wrinkles etched every inch of her skin, and yet she exuded the aura of a woman not to be trifled with. I should’ve guessed.

“Neville’s grandmother!” Harry recognized the name as he blurted the words out, his eyes slightly wide. He caught himself quickly enough after Sirius gave him a light tap. “Erm— I mean, nice to meet you, Ma’am.”

“Hmph. As I said, the feeling is mutual, Mr. Potter.” Augusta said, fixing the boy with a look that was a little warmer. “You look like your mother, you know.”

Harry hesitated for a moment, not having expected that. “I do? Everyone tells me I look like my dad…”

“Hm. Come a little closer, won’t you?” She said, though anyone here could tell it wasn’t a question or request, but a command. Harry complied, standing opposite of her as she leaned forward in her chair, studying his facial features.

“I definitely see Lily’s features in you, young man.” She said, nodding in satisfaction. “Though they are overpowered by your father’s, there is no mistaking it; the nose and eyes are hers.”

Harry swallowed and nodded. “I— erm— thank you. Is Neville here, too?”

“Oh, yes. Yes.” She said, her severe features softening as she gestured towards her right. I followed the direction, seeing a small group of kids just standing around and talking amongst each other. Neville was standing at the edge, doing his best not to stand out. “My boy went to speak to the other kids.”

Harry looked at Sirius, but the man was already smiling.

“Yeah, you can go.” Sirius said before looking at me. “Both of you.”

“Thanks.” Harry and I said, but I stopped to give Lucius Malfoy a look and a nod. “A pleasure speaking to you, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy. Draco.”

“The feeling is mutual.” Lucius said before patting his son on the shoulder. “Go on and join the other children, Draco.”

“Yes, Father.” Draco obeyed and got up instantly, moving to exchange a few whispered words with his mother before he joined us.

“Go on, kids.” Sirius said, his expression both eager and uneasy as we were about to leave him likely to exchange barbed words with everyone around him. “Have fun.”

With a last nod, we moved away from the table. I felt a great weight lift off of my shoulders with every step we took.

“That was tense.” I muttered.

“Tell me about it. Did you really have to pick a fight?” Harry said before giving me a light shove.

It seemed that Harry misjudged his strength, as his act almost sent me crashing into Draco.

“Woah! Watch it!” I hissed at the boy, who had the good sense to look sheepish. I turned to Draco with an apologetic look. “Sorry.”

Malfoy didn’t answer, so I left it at that. If he didn’t want to be seen talking to me in public, I wouldn’t begrudge him that. It’s obvious Draco values his family and its reputation above most other things.

“I was just curious about what he thought.” I said, turning my attention back to Harry’s question. “That’s all.”

There was something else, though, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Lucius had first been dismissive of me; what had changed his mind? It can’t have been our verbal exchange— else, he would be interested in anyone and everyone who showed a modicum of intelligence, despite their breeding.

Or maybe I’m being paranoid and it really is that simple. I thought to myself and drifted off to the left as Harry started talking to Neville while Draco stood close to the center of the group, not quite starting any conversations but looking like he’d been with them from the start. Of course, Malfoy Sr. would endeavor to keep competent individuals as friendly acquaintances at the very least.

No. This wasn’t paranoia on my part, because if Malfoy Sr. had preferred competence over blood, then he would have championed wizards and witches like Hermione.

I couldn’t accept that; I went over the conversation again, feeling like I was missing something important. We were introduced, Sirius and them started a pissing contest, but Lucius started treating me more seriously once he… got a good look at—

Of course! I thought in realization. He’s already met with Grindelwald. Maybe he’s drawing parallels between us because Grindelwald and I have such similar eyes, and I’m already known to have incredible talent, even if the papers only receive the downplayed version of events. It could even be possible that he saw me while he was coming to see Grindelwald. Or maybe Draco told him? No, he would have already used that against me, if that were the case.

It didn’t paint a pretty picture.

Still, I had to assume that the man now had a great suspicion about my potential, if not outright confirmation. That would explain why he was playing nice. However, would that even work for him, considering his allegiances?

Securing a pact of either mutual benefit or non-interference would ensure peace between us, to be sure, but Lucius wouldn’t go for something like that. No matter how talented and gifted I was, I was still a Mudblood, and one who was ‘besmirching the noble name of Black’, judging by Narcissa’s visceral reaction to insisting she use her birth name when addressing me.

More than that, I was just a kid with ‘potential’. Who knew if said potential would fade away in a few months?

Blood ancestry versus unrealized potential— it was a pointless gamble to take.

Then again, he had happily allied himself with Voldemort, who he must have known was the half-blood son of a woman from a family long since bereft of dignity, nobility or wealth, as well as a Muggle man. Lucius was likely smart enough to have done his research, after all— and he had the Diary, too.

That was part of the reason why he likely never sought out Voldemort after the man had lost against Harry. This, of course, still left me with the same question I had even before I’d spoken to the man: what was his damned endgame?

Was this a ploy to appear to be on cordial terms with me while he arranged to eventually have me killed before I reached my prime? Or was this something deeper, a far more elaborate—

“Black.” Draco’s voice pulled me out of my funk as I felt him subtly pull me behind a group of kids, hiding us from the view of his parents and Sirius. “We need to talk.”

So, you’re finally in the mood to chat. And not calling me Clarke, eh? I wondered. Draco is changing, and I’m not sure he’s even aware of it.

“I suppose we do, don’t we…?”

My eyes swept over our surroundings, my ears taking in the sheer cacophony of noise coming in from the kids beside us as well as the various conversations being had at the four long tables, with some guests engaging in lively conversation, occasionally peppered with forced, yet polite laughter.

It’s a shame we can’t.

“But is this really the time and place for it, Draco?” I said, giving our surroundings a meaningful glance as I felt the magic of the contract I signed stir my being. “Surely you’ve also made an agreement of nondisclosure when you visited… there, yes?”

I took a breath. That was close; the magic had almost attacked me when I’d thought about even offhand mentioning Phoenix’ Roost.

“I—” He said and tried to continue, only to realize that no sound was coming out of his mouth. His expression turned into one of frustration before he smoothed it over, considering his words carefully. “Fine. You’re right; but you’d better not keep me waiting. Clarke.”

“Getting demanding, are we?” I said, feeling amused but throwing the kid a bone. “But I suppose it’s important enough to feel some way over.”

“Right.” Draco said as his eyes flitted to the entrance, where he seemed to see someone he recognized. I followed his gaze, nodding in understanding; it was his two friends, Crabbe and Goyle, accompanied by their families.

“I have to go.” Draco turned so that he wasn’t directly looking at me, muttering to the side to look as inconspicuous as possible. “I can’t be seen too long with you.”

“Sure, just pretend I came to insult you or something.” I shrugged and began to move away, stopping behind him to say one last thing over his shoulder. “I hope your summer vacation has been good, Draco. See you in September… My new cousin.”

Aside from bristling, the boy didn’t even acknowledge my words, but that was just fine by me. A few seconds later, I wove my way through the small, yet chaotic crowd of wizarding children before finding Harry and Neville, happily chatting to each other.

“There you are.” Harry said as he greeted me. “I thought you were right behind me, and then you went and disappeared.”

“I got a little distracted.” I put Draco out of my mind and waved off Harry’s words before extending a hand to Neville. “Hey, Neville. How’ve you been?”

“Adam.” Neville said, taking my hand and giving it a weak shake. “I’ve been well. You?”

“Can’t complain.” I gave a noncommittal answer before flashing the boy a smile. “So, what have you been up to? Do anything fun?”

“Oh! Well, not all that much… Got some new plants to tinker with this summer— have you ever heard of Fluxweed?”

“Hmm… Yes.” I said, nodding as I recalled what information I had gathered on it. “An ingredient in Polyjuice Potion? Fairly advanced stuff. Both taught at least at the Sixth Year level, right?”

“Erm— Yes, it’s part of that.” Neville said, though he shook his head. “But, I was thinking of using it to make Focus Potion, instead.”

“Focus Potion.” I said, recognizing the term. “Yes, I’ve seen it mentioned a few times but haven’t studied it yet; it’s a Potion you learn to make in Fourth or Fifth Year, right?”

Of course, I knew exactly what it was. It had been one of the topics I’d been preparing to study before everything had gone the way it had in June. I was planning read up on it as soon as I was back at Hogwarts.

A Potion that increases your mental energy so you can cast spells far more efficiently and quickly? Yes, please!

“I believe it’s the Fifth Year.” Neville said.

“Huh.” I said with a nod. “Didn’t expect you to be interested in Potions, not after, uh…”

“Yeah.” Neville said, looking uncomfortable at the mere thought of Snape. I patted the boy’s shoulder, giving him a sympathetic look.

“Yeah, Snape is a right prick, isn’t he?” I said, hearing a few people around us choke down a bit of laughter. So, we have a few listeners, huh?

Neville’s eyes went wide. “I— I—”

Ah, crap, I broke him.

“You can say that again, kid.” A guy who looked to be in his Sixth or Seventh Year said, giving poor, skittish Neville a reprieve. “Snape seems to be the bane of everyone’s existence at Hogwarts— except the Slytherins of course— but I suppose he’s better than Binns, or every Defense professor we’ve ever had…”

There was a chorus of agreement.

“I suppose you’re right about that.” I admitted. “Mr…”

“Ravencroft.” The boy said, gaining a look of self importance. “Killian Ravencroft; I’ll be starting my Seventh Year in Hufflepuff, come September.”

I have no idea who this is. I thought but gave him a polite look regardless as I extended a hand, shaking it and gesturing at Harry beside. “Adam Black, and this is my brother, Harry Potter.”

“We know.” Killian said. “I’d say most of us have seen you two at some point or the other last year.”

“I haven’t.” A young kid who looked to be about ten said.

“Well… Yes, you haven’t been to Hogwarts yet, dummy.” Killian said with an eye roll. “You’ll have to forgive my little brother. He’ll be starting Hogwarts this year.”

“Right.” I said, already thoroughly bored with this conversation.

“Oh!” One of the kids said. “Something’s happening at the entrance.”

Seizing the generously provided lifeline, I walked past the group to stare at the commotion.

A hush fell over the grand chamber as the lights dimmed, revealing the procession of wizards and witches ahead. The sound of rhythmic drumming reverberated through the hall, accompanied by the delicate tinkling of handheld cymbals. Dressed in vibrant, intricately embroidered garments, the wizards and witches waved their wands around.

With a hiss, a majestic illusion of a Chinese Fireball was conjured up, roaring out a few gouts of flame harmlessly into the air. Its scarlet scales shimmered under the ballroom’s light. Its sinuous body twisted and turned with otherworldly grace, captivating the audience with every fluid motion.

The crowds parted from the procession, allowing them to make their way to the center square, where the Dragon spewed out another, long gout of flame, which crashed against the chandeliers and turned all of its crystals crimson for a few seconds.

For a moment, the light made me feel like I was at the Village Du Phantasime again, but then the Dragon disappeared. The lights of the ballroom returned to their softer, golden color, and the room broke out in appreciative applause.

I let out a sigh of relief, promising myself to have better self-control, next time this happened.

I couldn’t lose my cool every time some family felt the need to show off.

“Not a bad performance, huh?” Harry’s voice came from beside me, deceptively light. I turned to see the knowing, dim look in his eyes. I imagined my own were the same. “You good?”

I gave him a nod, plastering on a smirk as I reasserted further control over myself. “Yeah. Don’t worry about me. Wizards and their penchant for the dramatic.”

“You’re one to talk.” Harry snorted.

“Touché.” I said, turning my attention to the center of the procession, which was now heading from group to group to greet them. Most of the faces there were unfamiliar, but I did manage to recognize two.

Su, and her mother Yan, both wearing matching scaled dresses crafted from rich brocade and dyed as red as the Chinese Fireball’s scales had been— simple, and yet somehow overshadowing everyone else in the room. Yan, as I would have expected, wore the outfit like she’d been born to it, gliding through the grand hall with an almost preternatural grace. Su, on the other hand, was barely able to keep up with her mother, though she gave it her best shot.

“Wow.” One of the older boys said, with most unable to keep their eyes away from Su’s mom.

The girl beside the boy who’d spoken looked cross, and it took him a second to realize the minefield he’d willingly thrown himself headlong into.

Meanwhile, the other girls were gushing over how cute Su looked in her outfit, but I deliberately ignored them to the best of my ability.

Because I could tell that there was something more important to focus on. Su seemed annoyed, almost distressed over something.

She hid it very well, but I’d known the girl for almost a year, so I saw all the tells in her body language without even needing to look at her soul thread, which was rigid and incredibly tense.

She’s tired.

It was then that I felt a hand on my shoulder. Tensely, I turned to see—

“Hey, Adam.” Anthony Goldstein said, flashing me a smile. Behind him, two older people stood, smiling politely. “Sorry I’m late.”

“Tony?” I said in surprise, before smiling as I relaxed. “I was wondering where you were. Almost thought you weren’t invited.”

“Yeah, we were just late— my parents couldn’t come. Some urgent business, so I had to ask my relatives to get me.” Tony said, before looking a little sheepish and gesturing at the two relatives in question. “Oh right. Aunt Tina and Uncle Newt, this is Adam Clarke, my best friend. Adam, these are my Aunt Tina and Uncle Newt Scamander.”

It took all of the self control I had to not gape at what I’d just heard. I took a deep breath as I tried to find the words to say.

Scamander… I thought, quickly pulling myself together. Roll with it.

“Hello.” I said, moving forward to shake hands with them. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“The pleasure is ours.” Tina said, and I could immediately tell that she was the sort of person who was headstrong and got to the point. “Porpentina Scamander.”

“Newt Scamander.” Newt added, his voice soft yet possessing a strange weight I couldn’t ignore. “It’s nice to finally meet one of Tony’s friends. We’ve heard alot about you.”

The three’s clothes weren’t as ornate as a few others’ here, but then, not everyone had mountains of Galleons to waste. Still, Tony’s relatives carried themselves with the sort of calm one would have after having fought in many battles— I suppose it’s also hard to care about appearances when you reach that age; beyond caring about the politics, if they ever have.

I threw the boy a glance, and could tell by his somewhat helpless shrug that he was a little nervous.

“All horrible, frightening things, I hope?” I said, sending the boy a mischievous smile. “I deny all knowledge of any goodness when it concerns me.”

“Adam…” Tony said, but I ignored him in favor of seeing the somewhat amused reactions of his aunt and uncle. The boy ended up shrugging with a sigh. “Why did I even try?”

“That’s a question you’ll be asking yourself for many years to come— you and Harry.” I gestured at Harry, who was joining us with Neville. “My young grasshoppers.”

“You’re barely older than me— oh, hey Tony.” Harry said before looking at Tina and Newt. “Are these your relatives?”

“Yeah.” Tony said, and so started another round of introductions. I busied myself with watching Su’s procession continue from group to group, occasionally throwing glances at Tina and Newt.

During my time going through the old copies of the Daily Prophet, I had gotten a little curious and had gone further in the backlog, reading up on the events of the war involving Grindelwald. I’d only glossed over them, but one thing I did notice was those two’s names mentioned quite a few times, alongside other big names of that era.

Their threads seemed to grow agitated every time their gaze moved even close to my body; more specifically, my eyes. I resisted the urge to groan.

First Lucius, and now Newt and Porpentina? Were my eyes that much of a hint? I hadn’t even met Grindelwald when I’d gotten them.

They likely don’t suspect me of being an accomplice— if Draco wants to talk to me in September, that likely means he hasn’t told his father a thing. I thought and slowly calmed down while I continued to reason through the problem. As for Newt and Tina… they might know something if they keep staring at my eyes. I don’t know what it is they do know, and I probably can’t just up and ask them, either. It would clue them in on the fact that I’ve cottoned onto them. They may even make the connection between me and Grindelwald, however wild and unlikely.

Yep. It seemed that I would have to play things close to the vest— at least until I was back at Hogwarts. Tony and the others deserved to know the truth, but not here.

Not yet. I thought, seeing Su and her mother breaking away from their procession, making a beeline straight for us. Su’s face, which had been withdrawn and resigned for the past five minutes, shifted into a beaming smile, getting wider the closer she got.

“Tony! Adam!” Su said and ran past her mother, to the silent displeasure of her attendants. She crashed into us, wrapping each of our necks in a hug and pulling all three of us close. “I’m so glad you made it!”

“Su.” Tony protested, patting her back. “You’re choking me.”

I laughed at the boy’s predicament and gave Su a smile. “Happy Birthday, Su.”

Not yet.

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