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Test And Talk


September 28, 1992, 9:00 AM, Entrance Hall, Hogwarts

Adam Clarke

The following day, with a determined stride, I made my way to the lectern stationed in front of the tournament poster.

A sense of anticipation had settled in my chest. This was it; once I committed to this, there was no going back.

As I approached the lectern, a stern-looking wizard greeted me. He held a quill and a parchment, ready to record the information of aspiring participants.

"Name?" The Ministry appointee asked, his voice crisp and businesslike.

"Adam Black." I replied, speaking clearly and confidently as I watched him pen my name on the parchment. "I would like to enter the older category, please."

The man paused briefly before looking up at me with a curious glint in his eye. "Mr. Black, given your request to enter the higher age category, we have a standard protocol. We offer the option of a skills assessment to ensure that participants are prepared for the challenges of that category. Alternatively, you may have a member of your school's faculty vouch for your readiness. Which would you prefer?"

Maybe I should have spoken to Professor Flitwick before coming here. I thought for a moment before shaking the thought away.

I felt rather intrigued by the prospect of a test, and so I responded. "I'd like to take the skills assessment, please."

The Ministry appointee nodded in acknowledgment, a subtle smile playing on his lips. "Very well. Auror Lucrecia! Make yourself known."

The film of magic I'd seen to the far left cleared away, revealing a brown haired witch who looked to be in her thirties.

"Yes, sir." She said in a low tone.

"Take Mr. Black to our designated examination room, please."

"Of course." Lucrecia said before throwing me a look. "This way, Mr. Black."

I nodded and, with a sense of excitement building within me, followed her out of the Entrance Hall, ignoring the looks and whispers of the students who were watching me. She led me up a flight of stairs and a few hallways down until we reached what I supposed was the designated area.

"Nervous?" She said as she opened the door, revealing a large room. I would have called it completely bare if it were not for the long, red carpet stretching from one side of the room to the other.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't." I said, taking a few steps inside. "A dueling chamber?"

It was only a few moments until I noticed a large Disillusionment Charm covering the side of the room. I stared at it for a moment longer before Miss Lucrecia answered my question, grabbing my attention.

"Just so." She said. "What better way to test you for the dueling tournament than a duel?"

"Right." I said. "And you will be testing me?"

"No." A male voice said as the film of magic receded from the side, revealing two familiar people: Mad-Eye Moody, and Tonks. "I will."

"..." I didn't bother pretending to jump in fright at their appearance, but I did send a look of surprise towards Tonks. I hadn't expected to see her there. "Tonks."

"Wotcher, Adam." Tonks said, smiling a little. "You don't look too surprised to see us."

"He noticed us hiding the moment he stepped into this room. Pretty impressive for someone who's not even halfway done with his schooling." Moody said, nodding as he stepped forward. "Adam Black, is it now? It was Clarke the last time I saw you."

"Yes, sir." I said, giving him a respectful nod. "The wonders of adoption."

"Hmph." He said, his magical eye swiveling every which way.

"Doesn't that make you dizzy?"

"You get used to it." Moody smirked. "The nausea in the first few weeks, though…"

"Say no more."

"I see you three know each other?" Lucrecia said, feeling a little left out.

"Adam's part of my family." Tonks said, which made me feel warm. Of course, the feeling of annoyance came when she dared to ruffle my hair, but I didn't voice it out, knowing that she'd begin baby-talking me the moment I did.

"I've met the lad once before." Moody said, shaking his head at his own memory. "During a series of incompetent student interrogations that should never have happened in the first place."

"Sir!" Lucrecia said, sounding aghast at Moody's rough words.

"Don't worry; I made sure the room was private before you even walked in."

"That's not the point…" Lucrecia said, sending a small glance towards me. "We mustn't speak of the Ministry in this way. Not in front of the students."

Moody only shrugged at that, not looking particularly concerned or chastised.

"Now, Mr. Black." Lucrecia kept going, trying to keep everyone on track before we got distracted again. "I will require you to undergo a quick test; is that all right?"

I stared at her for a moment before nodding and moving Tonks' hand from the top of my head. "All right."

"Honestly, I don't see the point." Tonks said before Lucrecia could continue.

"What do you mean, trainee?" Lucrecia said, turning a stern look upon the younger woman. "Explain."

"Adam was there with me during the events in France in the summer." Tonks said. "I watched him fight by my side— he saved my life…"

Lucrecia opened her mouth to say something before closing it and looking towards Moody. "Is this true?"

"Oh yes." Moody said, nodding seriously. "He even killed a few of those Dark Wizards."

I flinched at the way he said it, but kept my peace on the matter. Now was not the time to speak of such things.

"Well…" Lucrecia said, frowning as she turned her gaze to me. "Still, rules are rules."

"I understand." I said, nodding. "What must I do?"

"Like I said…" Moody said before Lucrecia could say anything. "You will duel against me."

I turned my gaze to Moody for a moment before looking at Lucrecia. She only shook her head, shrugging helplessly.

I suppose I could always reject this test and have Flitwick vouch for me instead? I thought for a moment before pushing the thought away. Then again… Fighting against Moody might be intriguing.

"Why not?" I said, smiling a little as I went to the other side of the room, setting my bookbag down before coming back.

"That's the spirit." Moody said before taking his position at the one end of the room.

As I moved to my designated spot on the dueling floor, opposite of the man, my senses went on high alert.

Before I could fully prepare myself, I caught a glimpse of a flash of dirty yellow light hurtling toward me. Instinct kicked in, and I reacted without conscious thought. I dove forward, narrowly avoiding the spell, and felt a powerful impact against the wall behind me. A resounding crack echoed through the room as a hole appeared in the stone.

"Good!" Alastor barked as I scrambled to my feet, viciously cleaving one of his spells in two before being forced to roll to the side again. "Great reaction time!"

"Alastor!" Lucrecia said, her voice turning shrill as I tried to fend off his unexpected wave of assault. "You will cease this! The boy wasn't prepared for the test!"

"Danger." Alastor growled, his voice filled with unwavering, stern conviction. "Will never wait for you to be ready. Constant vigilance!"

The dueling rug beneath my feet felt electrified as Alastor Moody wasted no time, sending spell after spell hurtling towards me with ruthless precision. Each burst of magic crackled through the air, leaving trails of vivid color in their wake.

I raised my wand in a defensive stance, desperately blocking and deflecting Moody's spells with lightning-fast movements. His demeanor had become nothing short of vicious, and he didn't hold back in taunting me.

"Pathetic! Is defense all you're capable of?" He snarled, his voice dripping with contempt. "Where are those chains of yours?"

I remained resolute, refusing to give in to his provocations even as he sent another barrage towards me.

Stronger. Stronger! I focused my will even as I slashed my wand upward. Protego!

A wall of translucent light arose, creating a shimmering barrier that barely withstood the force of Moody's next attacks. His curses came relentlessly, a merciless assault that left me gasping for breath.

Moody paused for a moment, and then a searing jet of orange light soared towards me.

The spell crashed against my shield with explosive force, showering the room in a blinding display of sparks and dust. The strain in my arm was excruciating as I struggled to maintain the shield, the pressure of Moody's savage onslaught pushing me backwards until I tripped and fell on my backside.

"Not bad, lad." Moody said, banishing the smoke and dust away as he watched me get up, shield still in effect. "You've at least shown you can protect yourself, but is that all you can do?"

I rolled my shoulder in an attempt to alleviate the pain, even as Tonks stepped forward.

"Sir, isn't this a little much? I mean…" Tonks said before Alastor sent a glare towards her. She stopped immediately shutting her mouth as she sent me a helpless stare, as if to say: 'well, I tried'.

Summoning every ounce of my resolve, I took a shuddering breath and transitioned from defense to offense.

You want a fight? I thought, stoking and focusing my newfound anger until it was ready to be used as fodder for my magic. I'll give you a fight.

With a savage flick of my wand, I unleashed a torrent of spells, each imbued with a dangerous fervor.

Moody deflected them with brutal efficiency, but I pressed on, determined to seize any opportunity.

"My, my… Taking lessons from Black senior, eh?" Moody said, even as he launched his own assault my way, forcing me to shield and parry for a few moments. "I recognize these patterns. I taught them to him."

Ignoring the revelation, I grit my teeth and pushed through, trying to catch the man unawares as I resumed the attack. Focus.

Abandoning defense entirely, I cast spell after spell after spell at the man. It was a relentless, calculated assault, designed to keep him on the defensive and distract him from my true intention.

Flashes of multicolor light filled the room once more. Amidst the flurry of spells, I subtly moved one spell into position behind him, hiding it with a Disillusionment Charm. It was a delicate, almost imperceptible maneuver, hidden within the chaos of the dueling exchange.

Moody, with his unyielding stance, deflected and countered my spells with ease. His attention remained firmly fixed on the spells coming at him from the front, completely unaware of the hidden threat slowly creeping up behind him.

As the seconds ticked by, my hidden spell inched closer to its target, an unseen serpent ready to strike. It was a high-stakes gamble that could shift the tide of the duel.

I maintained my assault, all the while keeping a vigilant eye on the concealed spell's progress. This was a game of wits and strategy, a battle not just of power but of cunning and deception.

Moody, still focused on the spells in front of him, remained oblivious to the danger lurking just behind. My heart raced as the hidden spell drew nearer, and I knew that the moment of truth was fast approaching.

The hidden spell was almost upon Moody when his eye swiveled to look directly behind him.

"Nice try!"

With a swift, practiced movement, he lobbed the spell back towards me, and I had to dive to the side to evade my own attack.

Just as Moody seemed to regain control of the situation, a pair of glowing chains suddenly swung down from above, catching him by surprise. For a fraction of a second, his grizzled features contorted in astonishment.

Quick as lightning, Moody reacted. With a slash of his wand, he forced my wand hand to jerk to the right, disorienting me and sending the chains I had conjured spiraling towards the dueling rug. The chains slammed into the floor with a deafening crack, leaving deep fissures in their wake.

Despite his momentary surprise, Moody's reflexes and experience allowed him to regain his composure swiftly.

He locked his mismatched eyes onto mine once more. Even though my assault had failed, I couldn't help but feel a glimmer of hope. I believed I was beginning to see a pattern in Moody's dueling style, a way to anticipate his movements and strategies.

I steadied my wand and prepared for the next onslaught, determined to prove my newfound insight.

However, to my surprise, Moody began to stand down. His posture relaxed, and he lowered his wand, causing my own to falter in response. I watched him cautiously, bewildered by this unexpected turn of events.

Moody's grizzled voice broke the silence. "You pass."

Confusion coursed through me.

"Pass?" I echoed, unable to hide the bewilderment in my voice. "What? But we barely—"

Moody interrupted me with a curt nod. "That's enough. You've demonstrated what I needed to see."

"And what's that?"

"Exemplary spellwork, a solid grasp of tactics. That dual-pronged attack, for example." Moody said, nodding towards Tonks. "If you'd tried that against my trainee, here…"

"I would've stopped it." Tonks said, though from the look on her face, she didn't look too sure.

"Maybe you could have." Moody shrugged, his now calm demeanor a far cry from the sheer beast I had just faced in battle. "You've been in a grand total of one real battle, though, so maybe not. We will remedy this, given time."

Ignoring the shiver going through the woman, Moody turned his good eye back to me. "I expected you to use your chains for the entire fight, but you only did at the end. Why?"

I stared at him for a moment before nodding. "I was advised not to rely on one single spell."

"Good advice." Moody said, nodding.

"I don't understand how I passed, though?" I said, feeling confused. "I lost."

That drew a laugh from the man. "Lad, if you can win against me, there's no point for you to even bother with this tournament."

I exhaled. "Good point, I suppose. Then…?"

"I wanted to see if you would still fight, even if you were soundly beaten." He said. "I wanted to see your resolve for myself."

"My resolve…" I repeated the words, looking at the man in a newfound respect. "And your conclusion?"

"You passed, didn't you?" Moody said, scoffing and waving me away. "Now, off with you. Auror Lucrecia will be sure to inform the school of your passing performance, and I'm sure this little stunt has delayed the proceedings quite a bit."

Lucrecia, who'd been annoyed before the fight had begun, now shook her head. It seemed that the battle she'd just witnessed had struck a chord within her. "It will be fine. We prepared for the possibility of delays."

"Right…" I said, nodding even as I turned to awkwardly go get my pack. To my surprise, it was already flying towards me. Catching it by reflex, I stumbled backwards, though I was stopped by Tonks' steadying hand on my shoulder.

I looked up at her, seeing the young woman's smile.

"Come on." She said, throwing a look over her shoulder to Alastor. "I'm taking my break now, if you don't mind."

"Now, see here—" Auror Lucrecia started before a raised hand from Moody stopped her.

"Go on, then."

And with that, we were out of the room.

"Charming woman." I said once the door closed behind us.

"You don't know the half of it." Tonks said, letting out a grunt of exasperation once we were clear enough. "Regulations this, rules that. She's an absolute bore."

"Well, you're part of the police force now…" I said, shrugging. "You guys are the ones who enforce the rules— it's your job."

"True." Tonks said, though she didn't look too happy about it. "I just thought there'd be more action and not… ugh, forms to fill out and reports to write."

Ah yes, paperwork. I thought, smiling to myself. The true multiversal evil.

"Yeah, I'm glad I have a few years before I have to worry about that." I said and got swatted on my shoulder for my trouble. Flinching at the sudden painful contact, I brushed her hand away. "That hurt, you know."

"Are you all right?" Gone was the playful attitude. "Did you hurt yourself?"

"I may have pulled a muscle." I said, stopping to roll my shoulder a few times to make sure. I shook my head. "No, it's rolling around fine, maybe it's just a bruise I guess."

"Want me to heal it for you?"


A spell later, and we were on our way once more.

"So, about Moody…" She said.

"You told him about me, I'm guessing?"

"That's the odd part." Tonks said, shaking her head. "He seemed to know about you and Harry even before I told him about what happened."

"What do you mean?"

"He didn't look surprised." Tonks explained, though she shook her head. "Then again, he never really looks surprised, does he?"

"I suppose not." I said, frowning. "I'm sure he's seen much crazier things in your line of work."

"Still, something about it rubs me the wrong way—" Tonks said, sighing. "How could he know the specifics? I thought the Ministry kept those secret."

"From the public, maybe." I said, shrugging. "I'm sure the man has friends there."

"Moody doesn't have friends, just associates, but I take your meaning." Tonks said, and we shared a laugh for a moment before she went quiet again. After a few moments of thought, she broached another topic. "So… How are you feeling?"


"It's been a while, Adam." She said softly. "Since the attack in France, I mean. How have you been?"

I hesitated, my gaze falling to the stone floor. "I've been fine. Really."

Tonks studied me closely, her expression showing her genuine concern. She knew better than to accept a simple answer from someone who had been through what I had. "Are you sure about that?"

I met her gaze, and for a moment, I felt the walls I had built around my emotions waver.

"I won't pretend I'm hunky dory, but I've been dealing with it." I admitted, my voice carrying a trace of vulnerability. "It's not easy."

Tonks placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder. "You don't have to go through it alone, you know. We're all here for you. It's the least I can do."

She laughed at my grimace before cuffing the back of my head. "Yeah, I know. You're bad at this mushy stuff, so I'll stop."

"You have my gratitude."

"And Harry?" She said, moving onto the next topic. "What about him?"

"He's doing a lot better." I said. "He's been working hard, throwing himself into Quidditch training as much as he can."

But as I spoke, a shadow of worry crossed my face.

"Almost to an unhealthy level, though." I added with a hint of concern. "I think he's doing it because he doesn't want to just sit still."

"I suppose that's normal. Then again…" Tonks regarded me thoughtfully. "He might be trying to keep up with you, too."

"What do you mean?" I said, considering her words. "Keep up with me? Like in dueling?"

Tonks shook her head though. "In any way he can, I think. I've seen the two of you together— he looks up to you, you know."

I opened my mouth to answer before closing it, lips pursing together. On some level, I knew that Harry felt like that, but it wasn't something I ever actually acknowledged.

A moment later, I got my thoughts in order.

"What do I do?" I said, frowning. "I don't want him to just push himself until he breaks."

Much as I understood how important Harry was for the overall plot, he was still a twelve year old boy, at the end of the day.

'The boy must die'. The words from a half-remembered movie came to mind, and I tore them to pieces. Not while I'm here.

I wasn't stupid; I knew that, regardless of what I did, Harry would find some way to get into trouble; the events of June spoke for themselves, in that regard.

"You may have to remind him." Tonks said, keeping her tone gentle as she spoke. "That he isn't alone anymore, just like you aren't."


"Want to get something to eat?" Tonks said after a few moments of awkward silence. "I'm honestly famished."

But I shook my head. "I've been needing to find a quiet spot to hole up in, maybe read or something."

Tonks rolled her eyes at that.

"Of course you would, Adam." She said before ruffling my hair again, a mischievous grin on her face. "You little bookworm, you."

"Guilty as charged." I said, smirking back before shaking my head and sending her a small smile."

"We'll catch up later, then." Tonks said as she turned to leave. "I'll tell you and Harry when I'm off if you feel like meeting up."

"You got it!" I said as she started to make distance. "Enjoy your lunch."

I watched her disappear behind a corner and stood there for a few moments. It was strange. I'd only truly known the woman for less than a few weeks, but now we were close.

Funny how a life-and-death situation puts people together. I thought, though I was not smiling.

Now alone in the quiet corridor, I suddenly heard a familiar series of buzzes in my head, like the gentle hum of a distant conversation. It was Alef Ard, trying to communicate with me once again.

Hey, Alef. How're you doing today? I wondered silently.

Alef's buzzing took on a slow, gentle rhythm.

I frowned; while I couldn't quite decipher the specific meaning behind the buzzes, I had learned to sense Alef's general mood and emotions.

This time, Alef's presence seemed tinged with a hint of loneliness.

Lonely? I thought.

The response, as always, was a series of buzzing pulses that carried the essence of Alef's emotions more than specific words or thoughts.

I'm sorry, friend. I thought, sending my feelings of affection to the genius loci. I've been so wrapped up in this tournament that I didn't have time to come see you much. I'll come now.

The sensations in my mind seemed to soften, conveying a sense of appreciation for my concern.

I made my way through the winding corridors of Hogwarts, my footsteps echoing in the silence. The journey to the Room of Requirement, while lengthy and annoying, had become both familiar and calming.

Curiously, there was already a door there, though I thought nothing of it. I knew Alef could do as he pleased, regardless of my own commands to the Room.

Entering the room, I stopped in surprise. I was not alone.

Harry was already there, waiting for me.

Huh? I thought for a moment, putting the pieces together in realization.

Alef had tricked me into coming here— were you even lonely?

Alef gave a vehement buzz in the negative. The spirited little guy seemed rather pleased with his deception, even. I wanted to be annoyed, but couldn't find it in me; something about Alef's answer was so adorable that I just couldn't be mad at him.

"Adam." Harry said, smiling a little. "Good of you to come."

"Very funny." I said, sarcasm dripping with every word as I made my way inside. My initial annoyance at being manipulated quickly gave way to curiosity about what Harry wanted.

"Tonks is here, you know." I said. "I just talked to her. She's looking for you."

"She is?" Harry said, looking slightly surprised at the mention of Tonks but pulled himself together with a shake of his head. "I'll talk to her later; I think it's time we had that chat."

So much for keeping him out of harm's way. I thought in exasperation as I took in Harry's determined expression. Then again, this is Harry Potter. Trouble finds him.

The decision was never in my hands, it seemed.

"Yes, it's about that time, I suppose."


More secrets, eh?


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