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September 2, 1992, 8:30 AM, Great Hall, Hogwarts

Harry Potter

Harry sat at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, enjoying his breakfast alongside Ron and Hermione. The hall was filled with the buzz of chatter as students from all four Houses gathered for their morning meal.

Biting into his extra crispy strip of bacon, he felt someone elbow his side lightly, irritating him.

Turning, he saw Ron, who was nodding somewhere off ahead. Harry frowned and followed the boy’s gaze; he noticed a Gryffindor Prefect making his way through the crowd.

The Prefect, looking like he woke up on the wrong side of bed, had a stack of parchment in his hand, each roll containing a course schedule for the new academic year.

Handing half of the stack to another Prefect, they began distributing the schedules among the student body.

When the time came for them, Harry and the others eagerly accepted the parchment from the Prefect’s outstretched hand. The schedule was neatly written with the Hogwarts crest at the top, listing each subject, the respective professor’s name, and the classroom location.

Unrolling the parchment, Harry’s eyes scanned the schedule: Charms, Transfiguration, History— Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts on the same day? He couldn’t help but feel a twinge of unease at what awaited him there.

“Thanks…” Harry made sure to say before he forgot, his eyes still fixed on the schedule. “I don’t see anything about tournament practice, or anything here.”

“I believe that will be addressed by the Coordinator, Potter.” The Prefect said, not at all sure of the veracity of his words. “That’s the feeling I got from Professor McGonagall, anyway. More importantly, I’m looking forward to my first Defense class; a Wizard of Professor Lockhart’s caliber would certainly have much to teach us.”

Harry raised an eyebrow at the mention of their newly appointed Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. He remembered the previous year when their Defense professor turned out to be the treacherous Professor Quirrell, harboring Lord Voldemort on the back of his head.

In his mind’s eye, he saw the man’s bisected corpse on the ground. He quickly banished the past sight away and hoped for a more stable and trustworthy teacher this time.

“Yeah.” Harry agreed with a nod, folding the schedule neatly and tucking it into his bag. “Hopefully we’ll actually learn something this year. Thanks again.”

The Prefect smiled, satisfied with Harry’s response. “No problem, Harry.”

With that, the older boy bid Harry farewell and continued on his way, distributing schedules to other students in need. Harry turned his attention back to the table, the aroma of breakfast tempting him once more.

“Think he’ll be any good?” Ron said in between bites as Harry finished his bacon and helped himself to some bread. “Lockhart, I mean.”

“Disgusting…” Harry heard Hermione’s murmur from his other side and suppressed the urge to smirk before the girl directed her attention to Ron. “Have you read his book yet?”

“Which one?” Ron said, rolling his eyes. “Mum wouldn’t shut up about that tripe all summer long!”

“No, our assigned Defense Against the Dark Arts book!” Hermione said, unwilling to let the boy change the subject. “Surely you’ve at least glanced at it?”

Ron shrugged. “Why would I?”

Before Hermione could blow up at the boy, Harry raised his hands, unwilling to be caught in the middle of this particular storm. “I have.”

“And?” Ron said, interested in what Harry had to say.

“If he teaches anything like in his book, then we might actually have a good go of it, this year.” Harry said begrudgingly before frowning thoughtfully. “Adam said as much, too, come to think of it.”

“See?” Hermione said as Harry resumed his meal. “I’m sure it all will go well.”

“We’ll see.” Ron said, not quite as enthusiastic as his friend.

“May I have your attention please?” Professor McGonagall’s voice came from the podium, and they turned their gazes to her.

McGonagall stood there for a few seconds, staring down any and all who still had the audacity to speak as she attempted to relay news to all of the students.

“What do you think this is about?” Ron whispered to him.

“Tournament?” Harry murmured back, only to be lightly swatted by Hermione.

“Quiet.” She said, and both boys did as she bid, though they rolled their eyes at the girl’s antics.

“Good morning, students.” Professor McGonagall said, taking in everyone’s anticipatory gazes. “I have an important announcement to make concerning the tournament. As you may know, the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup has been canceled.”

“In its place…” McGonagall said, throwing a stern look towards those who were still talking and quieting them instantly. “Hogwarts will be host to the United Wizarding League— part of which will be a Quidditch Tournament between the schools. To that end, we at Hogwarts have requested the aid of a noted Quidditch professional, to serve as Coordinator. Please welcome Coordinator Griffiths!”

The students erupted into applause, showing their enthusiasm and support for the new Coordinator, with Harry and Ron joining them. Griffiths smiled appreciatively, acknowledging their warm reception as she stepped up to the podium.

“Thank you, Professor McGonagall, and thank you, students.” She said, her voice carrying across the hall. “I am most thrilled and humbled to be a part of the League.”

She paused for a moment, as if trying to collect herself, before speaking again. “This tournament is an unprecedented one— merely to witness it, let alone participate in it, is a great honor. Those who take part will be leaving their mark on our world, make no mistake.”

Excited whispers broke out as Griffiths continued to speak. “Whether you are entering as a Duelist, or a Quidditch player, or even wish to take part in the additional competitions we will be organizing, is of little concern. Now is the time to make your mark. Who’s with me?”

A roar met her words. Harry realized a few seconds later that he was shouting with the crowd as well before smiling. He couldn’t help it; he was just that excited.

“Good, good!” Griffiths said, and everyone quieted again. “Now! Let us begin with what everyone wants: Quidditch.”

Harry leaned forward in his chair, his action mirrored by most of the students.

“Quidditch Tryouts will be held next week on Tuesday.” She said, giving a slight nod to Professor McGonagall beside her. “Not to worry, Professor McGonagall has assured me that it will not conflict with your schedule, as it will be a free day.”

“As for the Dueling tryouts.” Griffiths said over the whispers. “Those will be held at the end of the month, which should give you enough time to prepare for them. Remember, you will be going up against the best and brightest of each school, so be sure to give it your all.”

She paused for a moment to take a breath before continuing. “We have also drafted a list of competitions outside of what’s required for the Tournament itself; it is in the process of being posted in all of your Common Rooms, as well as the Entrance Hall. Please take a look at it when you have time. If you feel you have suggestions for further competitions, my door is always open. Now—”

“When do the other schools arrive?” One of the Gryffindor Seventh Years interrupted her.

“Mr. Addison.” Professor McGonagall said sharply, making the boy shrink away, but Griffiths only shook her head in amusement.

“If I may answer the question, Professor?” Griffiths asked McGonagall, who gave her a terse nod in reply. With a smile, she continued. “Thank you. The foreign students will be arriving in the beginning-to-middle of October. Accommodations have been made for them. The Tournament itself will begin in earnest on November the First. Does anyone have any other questions?”

No one said a word in reply, though there were quite a few shakes of the head.

“Then, by all means, enjoy your first day back!” Griffiths said, giving everyone a smile. “I look forward to seeing you all at tryouts.”

And then, the two stepped back to the staff table, leaving the rest of the Great Hall to break out in excited chatter once again. Harry and Ron looked at each other, barely able to contain their excitement.

“Potter.” The familiar voice of his Quidditch Captain, Oliver Wood, interrupted whatever the two were about to say to each other. Harry turned in his seat, seeing the older boy there. “Tell me you’ve got free time this week.”

“Oh.” Harry said, fumbling as he reached into his bag and pulled out his schedule, reading through it quickly. “Um… Thursday, I think. Yeah, I’m free then. We have a half-day.”

“Good. Very good.” Wood gave Harry the smile— the one which heralded suffering and misery. “You’ll be joining the team for Quidditch practice, then.”

Harry threw glances to where the rest of the team was, seeing the excited and somewhat annoyed looks on their faces. Katie, especially, looked put off. Fred made eye contact with Harry before nudging George; the two smirked, nodding at Wood.

Unaware of all of this, Wood turned his gaze to Ron, scrutinizing him for an instant. “You too, Weasley. We’ll see what that mind’s capable of before the tryouts.”

And then the captain left, leaving the two boys speechless in his wake.

“Thursday.” Ron finally said, though his excitement gave way to a sense of worry. “I—”


“What if… Erm…” Ron said, looking unsure. “What if I’m no good?”

“I highly doubt that, Ron.” Harry said with a laugh. “If you’re bad at Quidditch strategy, then there’s no hope for anyone.”

“…Thanks, Harry.” Ron said after a long moment before turning his gaze to the remaining bacon on Harry’s plate. “You going to eat that?”

“Boys.” Came Hermione’s irritated murmur from beside him.

Harry only laughed.


September 2, 1992, 4:00 PM, Potions Classroom, Hogwarts

Adam Clarke

I stared down at the pink mixture with a critical eye before nodding and killing the heat from below my pewter cauldron. My eyes moved to the side, checking through the instructions again.

Done that, and that… I went through the list as I reached for the toasted dragonfly thoraxes, doing my best not to squirm as I held the insect body part in my hand. Potions can be just disgusting.

After the fourth thorax, the Potion began to change color. I cracked one in two and added the first half, watching as it turned orange. I set the other half aside.

Next is… I thought and checked the instructions. One flying seahorse.

And so I continued in this manner, keeping a careful eye on the slight aura of power enveloping the concoction I was creating. With every additional ingredient, I watched as it increased in intensity, almost like the energy itself was being coaxed out of some unseen shell.

Magic truly was strange, I thought.

“You have twenty minutes remaining.” Professor Snape’s ominous declaration stirred a few of the students into a bit of a frenzy, but I only nodded to myself, unwilling to hurry the process.

The brewing would end when it ends; this, I knew. And so I proceeded with my task. This was quite the odd Potion, if I were to be honest. I had to alternate between adding flying seahorses and dragonfly thoraxes at least three times!

Who came up with this? How did anyone think to reach that point?

They must have tested each stage of the Potion on volunteers. I thought to myself as I added more flying seahorses and turning the flame beneath the cauldron back on. Or just Muggles, I suppose. I doubt Wizards cared all that much about Muggles in the old days. Must’ve been gruesome, really.

Minutes passed before the Potion turned a bright shade of green. I pulled the cauldron off of the fire, placing it on a mat before killing the flame. I stared at the swirling fumes coming off of my Girding Potion for a single moment before collecting a few vials of the substance, keeping some for myself while saving one for Snape’s evaluation.

“Ten minutes.” Professor Snape said even as I approached his desk.

The man’s dark eyes took me in, though they avoided my own— a reminder of what had happened the last time he’d attempted to peer into my mind. His thread twisted in agitation and, dare I even say it, some fear.

His face, however, betrayed none of this.

I suppressed the urge to wince.

“Mr. Black.” Professor Snape said as he turned his gaze down at the vial of green in my hands. Taking it from me, he inspected the Potion for a few moments before nodding very slightly. “An adequate brewing. Seven inches on the possible uses of Girding Potion, as well as possible alternative ingredients that would work just as well.”

“Yes, sir.” I said and turned to go back to go and clean my workstation.

“And, Mr. Black.” He said, making me stop and pay attention to him again. “A word, after class, concerning your progress.”

Frowning, I nodded and went back to my station. I disposed of the remaining Potion, considering the possibilities.

What’s there to consider? I thought to myself as I put everything away, watching the other students go and turn in their own Potions. He’s been waiting all summer for that followup meeting of ours.

I sighed; I supposed him letting what happened between us go would have been too much to hope for.

I continued to stand there, my heart beating with a mix of anticipation and nervousness.

As the seconds ticked by, my gaze darted around the room, observing the other students hurriedly packing their bags and shuffling towards the exit. I could feel the weight of their gazes on me, curious and expectant, likely thinking that I was in trouble or something.

Still, I maintained my composure, leaning against my workstation like I didn’t have a care in the world.

Snape moved about the classroom, his footsteps muffled against the stone floor as he passed by every station, making sure that it was all clean and proper. A few times, I could almost feel his gaze sent in my direction, but I didn’t rise to the bait.

The seconds stretched into minutes, and I could feel the pressure building within me. I clutched the strap of my bag tightly, my fingers digging into the fabric. Finally, the last student exited the room, their footsteps fading away.

A few moments passed before Severus went and closed the door, locking it with a wave of his wand. His expression remained inscrutable, his black eyes revealing nothing.

With a nod, Snape turned away, disappearing into his office. I followed, entering a surprisingly spacious room. The air was heavy with the scent of old parchment and something acrid, like the residue of potions long brewed and forgotten.

The lighting was as dim as the classroom. A long, ancient desk dominated the center of the room, its polished surface marred with a few scratches, the sign of cauldrons being moved atop its surface. Quills and parchments were neatly organized to the side, the sign of a desk which had not yet succumbed to the teacher’s curse of grading homework. The desk’s edges were adorned with silver instruments, gleaming in the faint light like the fangs of a serpent ready to strike.

This office truly was Severus Snape in a nutshell.

“Dangerous secrets.” Professor Snape said, gaining my attention and setting the tone for this conversation. “Are ones which can crush even the strongest of souls.”

I absorbed his words, letting him continue. I suppose this was long overdue.

“I have kept this secret of yours, Adam Clarke, or Black, or whatever a creature like yourself addresses itself as.” Snape said. “Because of a single reason.”

A creature like myself. I thought before shaking my head. “And that reason is Lily Potter. Strange way to refer to me as, though: ‘a creature like myself’, Professor?”

“Do not attempt to deceive me.” The man’s eyes flashed with a sort of furious anger. “I have seen the depths of your mind. You are no child, so spare me the charades.”

“Spare you the charades— ridiculous.” I scoffed, leaning forward in my chair. “Perhaps I am the monster you perceive me to be, but… perhaps you saw something your mind could not truly fathom. Like I told you before, you weren’t meant to understand my void. Hell, I barely understand it all myself, and I’m steeped in it.”

“…What do you mean?” He said, eyes narrowing as I hesitated to answer. “It is difficult to trust one such as you if you refuse to even cooperate at the most basic level.”

“But I am cooperating.” I said.

“Prove it.” Snape leaned forward, glaring.

I shook my head at that.

“I can’t. You’re well accomplished in the art of Occlumency.” I said, giving him a nod and a respectful gesture. “That much is true. However, when it comes to the defense the soul, you truly have no idea.”

“The soul.” Snape repeated. “Explain.”

“You’re right about one thing, Snape.” I said, eyes flashing with a mixture of disdain and anger at being ordered around. “I am not some hatchling here to be ordered around by you. Being forced to be one again and being fully cognizant through the entirety of my formative years, well… I can think of a few words to describe it. Maddening. Tiresome. Boring. Humbling. To think of the sheer amount of effort needed to learn how to walk and speak again— you would not understand unless it happened to you. Still, a second chance at life was appreciated.”

“A second chance…” Snape repeated, latching onto those words. “You claim to simply be a person given a second chance?”

“That’s exactly what I am.” I said, smiling slightly as I sent him a look. “Stop me if this sounds familiar: ‘I wish I was reborn, and didn’t make the same mistakes I did growing up. I wish I studied more, held onto my friendships better, and—”

I stopped at Snape’s raised hand and shook my head. “I see you get it.”

“And, assuming I even believe this ridiculous tale, why yourself? Why are you so special?”

“That’s a question I’ve been asking myself for twelve years.” I said, shrugging. “When I find an answer, I’ll let you know.”

“I see.” Severus said, though I imagined he likely didn’t. “And your high aptitude at magic? Your knowledge of hidden, dangerous secrets?”

“You wouldn’t understand even if I explained it to you.”

“Try me.”

“…” I stared at his agitated thread for a moment before shaking my head. “You still think I’m some kind of monster, huh? A Demon from another plane inhabiting this child’s body.”

“You haven’t given me cause to consider otherwise.” Snape said. “And even if you weren’t some creature from the beyond, I’ve known men and women as vile and as malevolent as Demons.”

“Then I won’t waste time trying to explain anything about myself.” I shot back with a shrug. “You were saying I wasn’t willing to cooperate, earlier; well, allow me to turn your words right back at you, Severus Snape.”

“Clarke…” The man’s tone turned almost threatening as he gripped the wand sitting atop the table.

The meaning was clear.

I did the same, ready to unleash all I’d learned in the summer upon him.

Still, he did not attack, so I did not either.

“It’s like you said, secrets are pretty dangerous if left in the wrong hands.” I said, trying to defuse the situation before it could deteriorate even further. “Your mind may be adequately shielded against most Legilimens, but with people like me, it’s different.”

Snape lowered his wand very slightly. I felt relief even as he spoke. “Different, how?”

I exhaled and tried to gather my thoughts. “I’ve been able to glean much off of people’s souls. Emotions, impressions, states of mind, and I know I’m barely scratching the surface of what’s possible. Occlumency doesn’t shield you from me, at all— your soul’s bare as a field in winter.”

I tapped my left eye. “I know what it is you feel as you feel it. I can see it— and I know for a fact that at least Voldemort does.”

“Do not say his name.”

“The Taboo hasn’t been in effect since Harry laid him low.” I replied with a shrug. “I’ll worry about that if he ever manages to come back.”

Snape did not answer, leaving us in silence for a long moment before I spoke again.

“The point is that the information locked within my mind is extremely important, and I can’t tell you because you can’t hide it from the big players— you’re not equipped to do it, and you never will be. So, let’s just stick to what you only need to know. Yeah?”

Snape stared at me for a few seconds before lowering his wand and making a show of relaxing in his chair again. His dark eyes burned with controlled need. “Lily Potter, then. You claim you can bring her back.”

I resisted the urge to shiver at the man’s single-mindedness, instead inhaling and giving him a nod.

“I know how to summon her soul to this plane, yes.” I said. “Of course, true resurrection isn’t something I can do— at least, as I am now. But it is possible to bring her soul back, at the very least.”

‘At least’.” The man narrowed his eyes on me. “You speak as though it’s a simple matter, as though you understand the requirements and power a venture of this sort may take. Bringing back the dead is dangerous and goes against the natural order of things.”

“And so do I.” I shot back.

Snape was quiet even as I continued to speak. “Have you read the Tales of Beedle the Bard?

That got a reaction. He reeled as if insulted by my suggestion. “Children’s tales?”

“Yes.” I said, undeterred. “Specifically the story concerning the three brothers.”

“I’m familiar with it.” Snape said, his lip curling as he delved into his memories. Strangely enough, his soul thread seemed to ease up. Perhaps this was a fond memory for him. “Three brothers, traveling along a lonely, winding road at twilight, reached a deep treacherous river where anyone who attempted to swim or wade would drown. Learned in the magical arts, the brothers conjured a bridge with their wands and proceeded to cross…”

He stopped, recalling the rest of the story in his mind.

“So you know how the story goes.” I said, nodding. “Anything in there sound familiar?”

“Do not patronize me, Clarke. The second brother and the Stone of Resurrection.” Severus said, glaring. “Besides, that is just a legend. Even if it were real, it wouldn’t bring back the person as they were in life. It would only provide a pale imitation, a shadow of their former self— as you well know, the second brother committed suicide.”

“And yet, even a shadow can give you the closure you seek.” I said, letting my words hang in the air. “Is that not what you want? Or do you wish to speak to her one last time before you…”

Snape grew silent for a long time, and I wondered if I crossed a line somewhere. His soul thread seemed to alternate between a deep longing and abject fear.

“The Stone— you know where it is.” Snape said finally. “You wouldn’t dangle it in front of me if you didn’t.”

“That’s right.” I said, nodding. “I know its location, but safe to say that it’s being guarded by very powerful and potent Dark enchantments. Acquiring it alone may incur a hefty cost if we aren’t ready.”

“Of course it will.” The man said with no small measure of sarcasm before shaking his head. “Very well. I will consider your words carefully. You may go.”

“Not going to ask where?” I said, a little surprised.

“I doubt you would tell me if asked, and…” Snape said before his thread started writhing in a soulful pain. “I do not wish to enter your mind again to find out. Never again.”

“A fair assumption, all things considered.” I said, keeping my face straight as I turned away from him, adjusting the strap of my bag. “Good afternoon, Professor.”

And then I left. He did not see me off, or say anything at all.

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