Skip to content


September 1, 1992, 8:00 PM, Hogwarts Castle Entrance

Adam Clarke

As the Thestral-drawn carriage came to a gentle halt, I took a deep breath and stepped onto the stone path leading up to Hogwarts Castle, following the massive herd of students. The crisp air filled my lungs, carrying with it the scent of damp earth.

Autumn is coming. I thought, staring out at a few trees in the distance and noting that the leaves had already lost their very green shine. Soon, the forests would turn into a sea of yellows, oranges, reds and browns.

As I neared the majestic castle, I couldn’t help but be once again impressed by its sheer presence. Towering spires and intricately carved stone greeted me, displaying the craftsmanship of generations past. The castle’s walls looked worn and weathered, true, and yet they still stood strong after a millennia of history fraught with conflict.

And they will continue to stand.

The path led us all to the massive oak doors, adorned with intricate carvings depicting mythical creatures and symbols of wisdom. The doors were pushed open, revealing Professors Vector and Babbling.

Giving us a nod, they gestured for us to enter, with Professor Vector taking the lead. “A pleasure to see you all again— in you go!”

As I crossed the threshold into the Castle proper, I felt the pulsating energy emanating from within, the beating heart of Hogwarts. My skin tingled even as I smiled in fondness. Alef Ard. We meet again, my friend.

No answer came. I frowned and tried again.

Alef? I thought. Are you there?

Still no answer. I felt the barest hints of worry cross my mind before I finally heard a series of haphazard buzzes.

There you are. I thought, amused. I was a little worried there. Were you sleeping?

A single, positive buzz was my answer.

I suppose it must have been boring for you, not being able to talk to more than one person all summer. I thought, sending the entity my feelings of bereavement and affection. But I’m here now, my friend.

Alef let out a few happy buzzes before I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned and saw Harry, looking concerned and confused.

“What’s up?” I said, giving up on my conversation with Alef for the time being.

“I…” He said, staring at something above me intently for a moment before shaking his head. “It’s nothing. Just seeing things.”

“Um.” I said, frowning at the way he said it. He was looking above me— could he see the threads, too? “What did you see?”

Harry shook his head. “It’s nothing, just a yellow spark flying around your head— Maybe I stared into the Sun too long. Or maybe Peeves has already started with his tricks…”

“Huh.” I said, nodding along with what he said and giving the boy a pat on the back. “Maybe you’re just tired. It’s been a long day, after all. We still have quite a lot to go through, though; the Sorting, dinner, and finally, bed.”

“You make it sound like dinner is a chore.” Ron said, joining in the conversation.

“It is when it concerns you, Ronald. Not looking forward to a year of that again.” Hermione said, causing everyone around us to laugh.

“Hey!” He said, his face reddening slightly. “You’re all just jealous that I have a healthy appetite.”

“Sure, Ron. Whatever you say.” Dean Thomas said, and everyone laughed again.

I smiled, dismissing the incident as Harry’s tiredness before resuming my conversation with Alef. I missed you. And Helena, and Absol.

At that, Alef went into a series of excited buzzes; I didn’t know what he was saying exactly, but the feelings of fondness, delight and fun that he shared through our link told me all I needed to know.

I’m glad you all were able to be there for each other. I thought as we finally stopped in front of the doors leading to the Great Hall.

“Go ahead and take your seats, children.” Professor Vector said, though she raised her hand before Babbling could open the way forward. “And, welcome back to Hogwarts.”

Then, the doors opened.

As I entered the Great Hall, a rush of excitement and nostalgia washed over me. The grandeur of the room never failed to awe me with its expansive, open space and the enchanted ceiling above, reflecting the night sky sprinkled with stars. The long wooden tables stretched out before me, slowly filling with students chattering eagerly, their voices blending into a discordant, yet also somehow harmonious buzz.

“You know.” Tony said, looking up at the floating candles. “You would think, after seeing it for all of last year, that I’d get used to this place, but I haven’t.”

“I know the feeling.” Su said with a smile, but didn’t say anything more.

“Mm.” I said, nodding. “That’s a good thing, I think.”

“Let’s go sit down.” Tony said, passing by Corner, Boot and a few others to claim my spot at the table. Soon enough, everyone was seated and chatting away while waiting for the First Year students to get here.

“I’m so excited about the tournament.” “Me too.” “Has anyone confirmed the list of events, yet?” “No, but I did read the list of possible—” “That list is nonsense; Let me tell you what it’s going to be.”

Conversations continued in this fashion, but I ended up tuning them out for a while, instead reflecting on what Harry had seen.

A spark. I thought, frowning to myself. Did another student try to prank me? No, otherwise I would have noticed. Or would I have?

I nodded at something another student was saying, pretending to be listening in to move their conversation along and hopefully dissuade any questions directed my way, which allowed me to keep trying to figure out what had happened.

Alef buzzed in my mind’s eye, showing a similar looking spark. A flash of realization went through me. The spark is you?

A positive buzz.

Then… I moved my eyes slowly towards the Gryffindor table. Harry was laughing at something Ron said, his back turned to me. Harry can see you? Wait… Is he the new friend you told me about last year?

Another positive buzz, followed by a strong rush of happiness and belonging.

I took in a sharp breath. However many times Alef did it, the onslaught of emotion he always saw fit to blast my way never ceased to catch me off guard, so intense were the feelings. Su gave me a strange look, but I only shook my head and waved off her unspoken concern.

I couldn’t lose my cool in public like that. People already were intimidated by me because of my burns and mismatched eyes.

How can he see you? I thought in confusion. Is that even possible?

Alef let out a familiar series of buzzes— some time ago, I had taught him a few useful shorthands only the two of us could understand.

Come to the Room.’ He was saying.

All right. I thought and took a deep breath. This must be pretty important, if you need me in the Room to show me. Tonight?

Alef replied in the negative.

Oh, all right. I thought, relaxing even more. I supposed it wasn’t important enough to require an immediate meeting. No rush, then! Plenty of time.

“So what’d you do over the summer, Anthony?” Michael Corner said, drawing my attention away from my own thoughts.

“Oh, you know…” Tony said, shrugging. “Did some collecting, saw my relatives, didn’t do anything special.”

“And you, Su?” Corner turned his gaze to the girl.

“Mostly the same, really.” Su said, though she looked contrite. “Mum and I really didn’t get to do much over the summer.”

She huffed before turning to us. “And I wanted to invite you all to a get-together, too. Remember?”

Tony opened his mouth but Su interrupted him before he could say a word. “And no, my sham of a birthday party doesn’t count.”

The boy winced as I gave her a pat on the shoulder. “I’m sorry that happened; and yeah, I was looking forward to it, too. It would’ve been a welcome change from all the crap that happened in the summer.”

“Adam!” Su said, scandalized, but I only shrugged.

“Trust me.” I said, tone turning slightly dark. “If you’d been there, you would have said the same thing.”

Death and destruction always changed people by forcing them to immediately manage their rawest emotions, or get consumed by them. Things like swearing quickly became unimportant.

“Was it really that bad?” Terry Boot said, sounding both skeptical and intrigued.

“I won’t soon forget it.” I said as I regarded the boy with cool eyes. Was his curiosity so abundant that he actually pushed past his grudge against me? Or, was he finally calming down about what happened?

I couldn’t tell. His thread told me that he was agitated, true, but that didn’t necessarily tell me what his exact thoughts of me were.

“But you saved that girl, didn’t you?” A girl said a few seats away, her posse giggling in excitement at my supposed heroism.

I was about to say something when I realized that people’s eyes were on me. Sweeping my mismatched eyes over the rest of the table, I felt my hairs stand on end.

I bit down on my natural urge to find a corner and hide, instead making eye contact with the one who asked the question— a FourthYear girl who seemed to have her own little clique already.

“Harry was the one who saved her.” I made sure to correct her, shaking my head. “He went ahead and dueled with the scumbag who attacked her, subduing him before going to check over her. Hell, he then protected her from the criminal’s accomplices until I was able to come and help. He’s the real hero. If he hadn’t been there, then who knows what would have happened to that poor girl?”

I got a few nods in response, with the girls now looking towards Harry’s table, excitedly whispering amongst themselves about how he was a hero.

Ah, shit. I winced. Sorry, Harry.

“Glad that’s done.” Tony said in a low tone, looking a little weary. “I forgot how much people stare, sometimes.”

“It never stops getting annoying.” Su said, sighing. “I don’t know how you and Mum deal with it— I know you said you don’t let yourself get affected by it, but I just don’t understand.”

“It’s not that big of a deal. Everyone’s free to look wherever they like.” I shrugged at that, feeling my stomach gurgle in protest; the perfect chance to change the subject. “I should’ve had more to eat at lunch. I’m famished.”

“Tell me about it.” Tony said before looking alarmed. “No, don’t take it literally. Don’t do it—”

“Okay, Tony.” I said, smiling. “I’ll tell you all about it. Hunger is the enemy of all that is good and right. For you see, it begins with a strange feeling in your abdomen— a corruption of your satiety, if you will. Then, with cruelty and the utmost malice, it oozes outwards to your muscles, which start weakenin—”

“Shut up, Adam. Just please, shut up. No more.”

I laughed and raised my hands in surrender. “All right; easy.”

The doors to the Great Hall opened once more, revealing Professor McGonagall as well as a gaggle of kids standing behind her. Entering the Hall, she closed the door behind her before waving her wand.

At once, the light coming off of the candles dimmed slightly, allowing the night sky above to give an almost ethereal glow. I smiled at the theatrics as I watched her Summon a stool as well as the Sorting Hat.

She swept her gaze around the Great Hall, and everyone quieted. She’s always got presence, I’ll give her that.

McGonagall nodded once, satisfied with herself before walking towards the door and opening it. The Firsties began to walk into the room, looking scared, nervous and excited.

“Did we look like that?” Tony said, frowning.

“Probably worse.” I muttered back, smiling as I remembered something. “Didn’t Ron’s brothers tell him he had to wrestle a troll?”

A chortle came from the boy’s mouth. “That’s brilliant.”

Eventually, the children stood in a small group in front of McGonagall, who placed it on the stool. A moment passed, and the seam where its mouth would be opened.

The Hat began to sing:

Oh, listen closely, one and all,
To the Sorting Hat’s joyous call.
In Hogwarts’ halls, where dreams take flight,
We gather here, to share the light.

Through the ages, side by side,
Four Houses stand with strength and pride.

Gryffindor, brave and bold,
Hufflepuff, with hearts of gold.
Ravenclaw, wise and keen,
Slytherin, ambitious, yet serene.

But now the time has come anew,
To seek the bonds that bind us true.
Unity, our guiding star,
No matter which House we’re from, near or far.

For in our differences, we find strength,
Together we’ll go to any length.
The Sorting Hat’s decree is clear,
We’re stronger when we’re all held dear.

So let us cast away the walls,
That keep us trapped within our halls.
Embrace the friendships yet unknown,
Let unity be proudly shown.

No matter if you’re brave or kind,
Intelligence or cunning in your mind,
Let us unite, our voices blend,
In harmony, our spirits mend.

For Hogwarts thrives when we unite,
With open hearts, and minds alight.
Together we’ll face any test,
For unity will bring us our best.

So raise your voice, let it be heard,
Let kindness be your chosen word.
Let love and empathy be your guide,
In unity, we’ll all abide.

Oh, listen closely, one and all,
To the Sorting Hat’s united call.
In Hogwarts’ halls, where dreams take flight,
We stand as one, with all our might.

Whispers broke out among the students, but quickly died down at Professor McGonagall’s sharp look. I frowned; the Hat’s voice was still as amazing as ever. Its eloquence truly made me think the old artifact had to be sapient.

It couldn’t simply be an enchanted hat… Enchanted hats didn’t try to advise students.

“That was nothing like last year’s Sorting.” Su murmured. “D’you remember the song it sang, then?”

“No. I don’t recall.” I said, shaking my head as the kids started being called over by McGonagall.

“Gryffindor!” The Hat shouted, and the Gryffindors began to clap and clamor.

And so the Sorting continued, with a familiar blonde girl eventually coming over to the Ravenclaw table after her sorting. To say Luna Lovegood looked nervous was an understatement.

Taking pity on the poor kid, I waved her over, patting the seat beside me. “Over here, Luna.”

She perked up and took her seat. “Thank you.”

Her words seemed happy, but I could tell that it was all a front to hide her unease. A few seconds later, she seemed to calm down some as more and more students began to join us.

Eventually, it was over, and the Hat was moved aside, with Professor Dumbledore moving to stand before the podium.

“Welcome, welcome!” He called out, looking at all the young faces in the room. “To another year at Hogwarts! I’d like to say a few words, before we all become befuddled by our excellent feast. First, I’d like to welcome Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, who’s generously offered himself for the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher.”

Albus gestured to the man in question, who stood from his seat and gave a bow in response to the mostly female cheers and applause, before flashing them all a smile. I stared at him, not knowing what to think.

Guffries’ story came to mind again, filling me with anger. Here was a man who sought glory, completely disregarding the effect he had on others. He was utterly contemptible, and yet, something about him was not what I expected.

He’s not quite right… I thought as I tried to get a good look at his soul thread, but from this distance, it was too difficult to make it out, let alone examine it.

I’d have to wait until I was in a classroom with him to get a proper look-see.

“Good luck, Professor.” Professor Dumbledore said, raising his hand to quiet everyone down. “Now, I’m sure you all have heard about the upcoming tournament between the nations of the Wizarding World. Doubtless that you have many questions, and so, I would like to introduce you to the one who is overseeing the affairs of the tournament, Coordinator Wilda Griffiths.”

He gestured towards the witch in question, who stood and gave everyone a nod and a bow.

“Is that…” “One of the Chasers for the Holyhead Harpies!” “What’s she doing here?”

“Tomorrow morning.” He said as she sat back down. “Coordinator Griffiths will be addressing everyone on how to proceed if you’re interested in the tournament in any way, as well as any additional, unofficial activities. Be sure to attend. Now, onto a slightly more somber note: the reason for which this tournament is taking place.” 

If the room hadn’t been quiet before, it certainly was now.

“You may have heard or read about recent events in France, as well as others now occurring all over the world.” Dumbledore said, nodding as I felt a few eyes on me. “Indeed, there has been great upheaval in our world.”

“In his actions, Gellert Grindelwald has shown that he is, once again, not an opponent to be trifled with. The destruction and chaos left in his wake is proof enough.” He waited a moment to let his words sink in. “However, even in the darkest of moments, good wizards and witches show us the way forward; forming a unified front against the Dark is the ultimate point of this tournament. To gain an understanding and form lasting bonds with others born of different cultures and given different upbringings, that is what I hope many of you will accomplish over the course of the next few months.”

Dumbledore then smiled and shook his head.

“I believe in you— in all of us. And I also believe that I’ve made you wait long enough. So… Dig in.” The man said, and the tables were filled with all kinds of food.

I stared at him in silence as he stepped back from the podium, heading to his seat without another word.

Before I could even think about it, the room was at once consumed by both excited chatter and a food frenzy. Pushing the thoughts of the tournament away from my mind with a shake of my head, I piled a handful of roast chicken as well as potatoes, my mouth watering in anticipation.

“Isn’t that a little too much, Adam?” Su said, looking a little concerned. “You’ll be sick…”

“I need it to feed the evil gremlins inside of me.” I grinned at her, but only got a blank stare in response.

“Huh? Gremlins?” Su said, frowning in confusion. “Those aren’t real, are they? A myth the Muggles believe in.”

“Uh…” I hesitated before shaking my head. “Nevermind, bad joke.”

“It could be the nargles, you know, Adam.” Luna piped up. “They need food, too.”

I gave the girl a small smile. “Yeah, you could be right.”

“Oh, you know her?” Tony asked as he cleaned a bit of grease off of his hand.

I nodded, introducing her to the two as I tried to enjoy a well deserved dinner after such a long day.


Later that night, Ravenclaw Dorms, Hogwarts

Bathing the surroundings in a silvery glow, a half moon hung high in the heavens, casting its eerie, beautiful light upon the landscape. Its curved silhouette appeared to be a mischievous smile, heralding a year of unknowns.

I leaned closer to the window, my breath fogging up the glass slightly. The moon’s pale radiance cast elongated shadows upon the grounds below, transforming the familiar landscape into an otherworldly realm. The gnarled branches of the Forbidden Forest reached out like skeletal fingers, swaying in the strong breeze.

“I’m finally back.” I murmured, letting out a deep sigh and fogging up the glass even further. Frowning, I wiped it with the sleeve of my robe before staring out again, trying to reach for my bond with Absol.

She was sleeping, I realized. I frowned, feeling a little upset, but let it go. I would see her tomorrow when I had a free moment.


“I figured you would eventually pop by.” I said, feeling another presence behind me. I turned with a smile, seeing someone else I had dearly missed. “It’s good to see you.”

“Adam.” Helena Ravenclaw greeted me with a smile which spoke of hesitation and excitement.

Her luminous complexion shimmered with an otherworldly glow, casting a soft and radiant light on her delicate features. Her long, flowing hair cascaded around her like a waterfall of moonlit silver, shifting to a warm brown the closer she got to me. Her already radiant skin gained a hint of color, making her look almost alive again.

The woman gasped, forcing herself to be still as she tried to cope with the rush of feeling a form of life course through her again. “I— It is good to see… You as well.”

“Easy.” I said in concern, approaching her slowly. “Is this hurting you?”

“No, no.” She said, shaking her head quickly as she acclimated. “Only a few months have passed, and yet I’d already forgotten what it felt to be truly alive, even if I only had tastes of it.”

She murmured something then, and I picked up the word ‘deranged’ before she shook her head again.

“I have missed you, my friend.” Helena said, floating closer to me and enveloping me in a tight, warm hug.

“I…” I said, hugging her back. “I missed you too.”

“I’ve heard things over the summer when visitors come to the Castle.” Helena said. “You were in danger; in France.”

I pulled slightly away from her and nodded. “So much has happened, and it’s barely even been three months.”

“Tell me.” Helena said, and so I did.

I told her about my kidnapping, having to play nice with Grindelwald’s forces, participating in the Symphony of Blood, living with Sirius, Harry and Remus, and the events in France. I held nothing back.

And Helena listened to it all. She offered no unwanted words of advice, no complaints, no different point of view.

She just listened.

At the end of it all, I sagged, feeling drained. “And that’s all of it. Sorry, Helena; I didn’t mean to burden you with all of that.”

“You.” She said, her voice turning stern at what I had just said. “Are never a burden. Not to me. Not ever. You’ve done more for me than anyone has in nearly a thousand years. So don’t ever think that, all right?”

I gave her a crooked smile. “As you wish. What about you? What did you do in the summer?”

Smiling, Helena started telling me about her time. She spoke of the knowledge she was gaining by communicating with Alef, as well as her occasional nightly flights on Absol’s back.

“I truly am happy that you’re back, Adam.” Helena said again, and I saw an almost primal desperation in her eyes. Being away from me and having the life leached out of her must have been an awful experience.

I took her hand in my own and gave it a gentle squeeze, feeling its warmth. “I’m sorry I took so long to get here. It must have been painful.”

“It’s all right.” She said, shaking her head. “You’re back here now, and that’s all that matters.”

I smiled. With everything that was coming— tournaments, politics, maybe even war— it was nice to know that there was still good in this world.

“Yes.” I said. “It is.”

Published inUncategorized

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply