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Part One

Cobalt robes swept along marble floors. Boot steps echoed off stone walls. He adjusted his cranberry-colored tie, tucking it down into place. He walked at ease as if he were the only person in the world who mattered. Other students in the corridor quickly moved aside at his passing and he barely made it seem like he noticed they were there. In fact, he did notice them. He noticed everything and everyone. He rounded the corner, dodging the younger student who nearly ran into his side with ease before continuing on his path as if nothing happened. He folded his hands behind his back as he slowed, coming to a stop in front of a large wooden door. He watched the creature on the door, a carving of a Thunderbird, blink at him before the door swung open. Quietly, he stepped inside, and the door closed behind him. 

The room in front of him was comprised of polished marble on the floors and on the walls. Pillars framed the window which overlooked the mountain outside. A sea of green shone in the daylight. Bookshelves stood opposite the window, with tomes of every kind in every language. In the center of the room was a large mahogany desk covered in papers. Some were in stacks and other loose in every direction around the desk. Behind the desk, a woman sat. She had magnificently long brunet hair which would have touched the floor if it weren't braided. She had amber colored eyes which shone against her bronze skin and were framed by her high cheekbones. The woman folded her hands upon seeing him enter the room. 

"Ah, Mr. Black." She greeted with a warm smile.

"You wanted to see me, Headmistress?" 

"Sit, please." She gestured to the cranberry colored chair in front of the desk. He sat down, carefully folding himself into the chair. 

"May I call you Hadrian?" She asked after a moment of silence between them. 

"Yes, Headmistress," Hadrian answered, wondering not for the first time why she called him here. 

"Would you like some tea, Hadrian? Or maybe some coffee?" The woman stood with an unsurprising grace and moved toward the drinks stirring themselves in the back of the room. 

"Tea please." Hadrian accepted the cup she handed him, and they sat in silence for a few moments more while they sipped their drinks. Hadrian set his on the desk in front of him and rested his hands on the armrests of the chair. 

"I suppose there is no longer any need to delay what I'm going to tell you." Hadrian watched his headmistress with curiosity. "Do you know of the Triwizard Tournament, Hadrian?"

"Of course," Hadrian answered. 

"Yes, I thought you might. You are at the top of your classes." The woman paused. "As you know, the Triwizard Tournament was classically a competition between Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, and Hogwarts. It was disbanded long ago due to the sheer number of injuries and ultimately fatalities the tournament inflicted upon those who entered." The woman paused again, and Hadrian nodded for her to continue. "It has been reinstated." 

Hadrian blinked at her. "Forgive me but why are you telling me? That's a tournament for Beauxbatons, Durmstrang, and Hogwarts. The reinstatement doesn't affect us." 

"Oh, but it does. The reinstatement of it was conditional on the fact that it will no longer be a Triwizard Tournament. It will be a healthy competition between wizarding schools. Most wizarding schools have agreed already. Unfortunately, Ilvermorny was one of them."

"A healthy competition between wizarding schools?" Hadrian couldn't believe what he was hearing. The tournament reinstated and Ilvermorny included. "What other schools are involved?"

"The original three, of course, Ilvermorny, Castelbruxo, Mahoutokuro, and Uagadou. The rest have vehemently refused to allow their students to compete in any and all competition that could possibly kill them and I am inclined to agree. However, there is not much that I can do. The Board is in control of the overall decisions regarding the school." The last words were spoken with bitter disgust.

There was a long silence between the two of them. A storm brewed inside Hadrian's mind, but he was careful not to let it show. He kept his face a cool mask, tapping his fingers on the armrest of the chair as he thought. 

Reinstating the tournament. Ilvermorny participating. 

"Whose idea was it? To reinstate the tournament, I mean." Hadrian asked carefully. 

"You know the answer to that question, Hadrian."

Voldemort.

Hadrian nodded, still careful to not let his face betray him. 

There was no way Voldemort could know he was alive. They had been so careful upon fleeing all those years ago. Everyone thought Harry Potter was dead and buried in a grave in Godric's Hollow. Perhaps it was inevitable that the tournament would be reinstated. 

"Why are you telling me, Headmistress?" Hadrian asked, looking out the window at the expanse of green. 

His question was met with silence for a long moment before he heard a sigh. "Because you will be going to Hogwarts for the tournament." 


Hadrian shrugged out of the cobalt robes, carefully folding them onto the chair in his room. Next to them, he placed his cranberry tie. He hated the color scheme of Ilvermorny with a passion. He never understood the blue and red combination from the moment they handed him the abominations. He moved to the wardrobe in the corner of the room and opened it slightly, avoiding looking at himself in the mirror. He grabbed a cranberry colored suit, sliding it on and completed the ensemble with a cobalt tie. The school never minded what a student wore as long as the colors were still blue and red. 

Hadrian vaguely remembered the one day he won a bet due to the school's inane rules about colors. 

I was still in blue and red.

You were in nothing but paint and a loincloth.

Blue and red paint and a blue and red loincloth. It's well within the rules.

Remus hadn't been too happy with him to receive the letter from Headmistress Nyah about Hadrian's antics. He still had the Howler.

Sirius, however, thought it was fantastic. He'd never heard a Howler that meant howling with laughter. 

Hadrian smiled, adjusting his tie around his neck. He finally looked in the mirror. Vibrant emerald eyes blinked back at him. His normally wild black hair had been tamed slightly. His jaw flexed as he glanced at the picture pinned to the mirror of the wardrobe. James and Lily Potter. 

Hadrian never knew them. He knew he looked a lot like James, he could see it in his own reflection. He also knew he had his mother's eyes. As he got older though, some of the features that reminded his caretakers so much of the friends they once knew seemed to fade. Harry's frame grew stronger than that of his father and his eyes grew brighter than that of his mother. Time had hardened him in a way that hadn't yet hardened James and Lily. For being an auror, there was still a light to James's eyes. For fighting in a war, there was still a kindness radiating from Lily's soul. 

Kindness had its place, but radiation of it was weakness. Or maybe it was an excellent mask. Hadrian hadn't yet decided. 

He tucked his wand into the holder on his forearm and shut the wardrobe door. Looking around the room, he decided he didn't need anything else before finally leaving, locking the door behind him with a wave of his hand. 

On the way toward the dining hall, he was quickly joined. Her blonde hair bounced with every step and her lapis lazuli eyes sparkled against the cobalt dress she wore. A cranberry belt wrapped around her waist and at the center was a single gold Gordian knot. Her cranberry shoes tapped on the floor as she walked next to him, not saying a word as she easily wrapped her arm through his. 

They walked side by side into the dining hall, easily finding seats at an empty, round wooden table. The dining hall had yet to fill as they were among the first arrivals. Round, wooden tables scattered the dining hall. Above them hung banners which held the crests of all four houses; Thunderbird, Pukwudgie, Wampus, and Horned Serpent. The walls lining the hall were granite leading to a large open window which overlooked an expanse of red spruce and balsam fir trees. It almost looked as if it were possible to fall off the edge of the world from their mountaintop. 

More students filed into the dining all in various combinations of blue and cranberry. Hadrian watched them with disinterest while the girl played with a loose thread on his sleeve. Normally he would have dealt with the thread, however, it seemed to entertain her, so he let it be.

"What did Headmistress want?" She asked finally.

"I have a feeling you will find out soon, Cordelia." 

Cordelia blinked at him before vanishing the thread off his sleeve. She then leaned her hand on her palm and fluttered her long eyelashes at him with a sly grin on her face. 

"Or, you could just tell me now."

"Or, you could just wait," Hadrian answered, leaning on his palm while facing her. 

"But I don't want to wait." She wined, pouting at him. 

"What are you pouting about now?" A new voice asked. 

"Hadrian won't tell me why Headmistress Nyah dragged him into her office today," Cordelia informed Nicholas, the owner of the new voice. The boy sat down on Hadrian's other side, propping up his arm on the back of Hadrian's chair while crossing one ankle over the other. 

"Maybe she was confessing her undying love for him."

Cordelia rolled her eyes. 

"Well, it's not completely out of the question," Nicholas said, gesturing to Hadrian. "A qualification for being a professor here is loving the Golden Boy."

"You're confusing which of us is golden," Hadrian muttered, looking at the blond next to him. 

"It is true. You do envy my lovely hair." Nicholas ran a hand through his hair, separating the strands so it looked slightly wild. "I think you just have a thing for blonds." 

Hadrian pushed the other away from him and the other boy cackled. 

More students filtered in and before long the headmistress followed. Her blue gown had cranberry folds which seemed to move strangely like fire. However, the headmistress's attire was never what interested people the most about her. On her bare, left shoulder was a large Thunderbird tattoo. The tattoo was incredibly lifelike as every student in the school had seen a Thunderbird due to the house. The silvery bird had a cloud design which branched into sunbeams. However, as if the tattoo itself weren't interesting enough, every now and then the bird would take flight across the headmistress's back as if it were flying across the sky. The first time Hadrian saw the tattoo in a different place he thought he'd imagined it. Then he saw it move. He watched the eyes twitch, he watched the beak of the bird open and the claws stretch. Then the bird moved as if it were alive and it settled somewhere else. It amazed him every time.

The headmistress swept the front of the room and turned to face her students. Next to her, the various professors stood, branching out on either side. The students fell silent, gazing up at their headmistress.

"Good evening students," She called. 

"Good evening Headmistress." 

"I'm certain you're wondering why I've gathered you all here as this is not one of our usual feasts." The students shifted. "I have an announcement." She paused, looking out over her students. "As you know, the Triwizard Tournament was a tournament between Beauxbatons, Hogwarts, and Durmstrang for many years. The tournament has been reinstated and we have been invited to join."

Chaos.


"He couldn't know about Harry, could he?" Sirius asked, pace through their flat, or was it an apartment? They were in America after all. Yet still, he kept wanting to call things by their names as they were back home. Fries were chips, apartment was a flat. Of course, their accents were never questioned. In fact, people seemed to love them. Everywhere Sirius and Remus went, people seemed to adore their British accent. Even Harry had written about how people at school commented on his accent. 

"No, he couldn't have. No one even knows he's alive except for us. As far as Voldemort knows, the prophecy is dead. 'Neither can live while the other survives.' Well, he thinks he's the only one who survived." 

Sirius rubbed his chin, not taking comfort in Remus's words. 

"Harry said Nyah all but assured him he would be one of the students to go. There has to be something we can do. We have to stop this."

Remus sighed, watching Sirius pace along the edge of the bed. 

"We can't," Remus answered, rubbing his forehead. 

"Why not?" Sirius exclaimed. 

"It will look more suspicious if we pull Harry out now than if we let him go." 

Sirius stopped pacing abruptly and then let out a heavy sigh. "You're right of course."

"We have to trust Harry to figure it out. He's a smart boy, I know he can. And that's only if he is chosen. He might not be." 

Sirius crawled into the bed next to Remus. "We'll have to be prepared if he is chosen though."

"We've always been prepared, Sirius."

"I don't know why I ever worry with you around," Sirius commented, lying on his back.

"Because you have nothing better to do," Remus answered, looking back toward the book he'd abandoned at the beginning of Sirius's tirade. A pillow suddenly darkened his view. Remus grabbed the feathery projectile and threw it back at Sirius. "You child."


Hadrian tapped his wand against his thigh. Faster, faster, faster. He was finally alone in his room after what seemed like days of pure bombardment. Since the announcement of the tournament, which had officially been named International Magical Cooperation, he hadn't been able to sleep. It seemed like the word InMaCo was on everyone's lips. Names were being said day after day as to who would be the champion Ilvermorny would put forth. 

Nicholas DeBeque.

Cordelia Fyneman.

Alexander MacDaniel.

Hadrian Black. 

He hated it. He knew there was a push for him to go, but he didn't want the eternal glory that was promised at the end of the tournament. 

He stood and ventured to the window, pressing his face against the cool glass, hoping it would calm the storm in his mind. But there was a storm brewing outside as well and the wind whistled past the window. It was haunting to hear the howling of the wind. 

Hadrian turned away from the window and lied down on his bed, wishing for the sweet release from reality that sleep promised.

That night he dreamed of a vast countryside and a stone castle next to a lake. 

Chapter Text

Sixteen Years Ago:

Sirius nearly collapsed as he looked at James's body. His best friend's eyes were empty, those gorgeous hazel eyes. Sirius hesitantly stretched out a shaky hand to touch James's face, feeling cold skin under his touch. His head fell, and he cried. He pulled James's body into his arms and lamented the death of his best friend. James didn't move. There was no sudden jump, there was no shout of 'surprise!' or an 'I fooled you!' as tears streamed down Sirius's face. James's body was limp in Sirius's grasp. 

"Oh James. I am so sorry." He lowered his friend's body back to the ground, wiping his face clean with his hand. There was thud upstairs. 

Harry. Lily. Sirius drew his wand and carefully stepped over his friend's body. Wand in front of him, he moved silently until he came to Harry's bedroom. The door was ajar, and he could see fire red hair on the floor. A gasp escaped his mouth, he couldn't help it. James was dead. Lily was dead. Harry. Oh, Harry! The door suddenly opened, and Sirius raised his wand only to be confronted with the half-giant, Hagrid. Sirius breathed a sigh of relief, seeing Hagrid and more importantly the boy in Hagrid's arms. Harry squirmed, trying to get away from the likely firm grasp he was being held in. 

"Sirius! You scared me." Hagrid breathed, a nervous smile crossing his face. 

"Hagrid." Sirius looked at Harry and took a step closer. "Give him to me Hagrid." He reached toward his godson, but Hagrid pulled away.

"Can't do that Sirius. Dumbledore asked me to get 'em. Told me it was important." Hagrid was clearly nervous, shifting from foot to foot.

"He's my godson Hagrid. Please give him to me." Sirius was trying hard to be calm, but he knew he sounded frantic. "Please."

"Sirius I can't. Dumbledore-"

"Dumbledore doesn't have to know," Sirius said quickly. "You could tell him that Harry wasn't here when you got here. You could tell him Harry was dead. You could tell him anything you wanted."

"'m not very good at lying." Hagrid shifted from foot to foot, but it looked like he was considering Sirius's words. "'Specially not to Dumbledore. Great man Dumbledore." 

"He is!" Sirius said quickly, trying anything to placate Hagrid. "But think of Harry's safety. The fewer people who know he lived the better." Sirius watched Hagrid's face before letting out a heavy sigh. "Please Hagrid."

Hagrid looked at him for a long time. "You'll take good care of him?" Sirius nodded vigorously. Hagrid waited for a second longer, searching Sirius's face as if he were searching for any hint of a lie. Finally, after what felt like forever, Hagrid placed Harry in Sirius's arms. He then passed Sirius and lumbered down the stairs, disappearing completely. 

Sirius heaved a sigh of relief, bouncing Harry in his arms. "What am I going to do with you now?" The child looked up at him with bright green eyes before reaching up to touch his hair. Sirius leaned into Harry's hand, feeling nothing but comfort at the sheer relief his godson had lived. It took him a moment to realize Harry was bleeding. 

"Harry!" He exclaimed. The child in his arms started, wide eyes staring at him with alarm. Sirius tried every healing spell he could think of, but the lightning bolt cut on Harry's forehead would not heal, instead, it just bled. Sirius huffed. "What happened to you?" He looked at the hole in the ceiling of the house, blasted outward by something powerful. 

Sirius's eyes followed the carnage of the room until they landed on Lily Potter, her vibrant red hair strewn across the floor. He pulled Harry closer to him, feeling tears again prickling at his eyes. 

"James. Lily." Sirius breathed. "I'm so sorry. I should have... If it were me." Sirius felt anger boiling inside him. Peter. This was all Peter's fault. Voldemort wouldn't have found them if Peter didn't tell him where they were. They were protected under the Fidelius Charm and Pettigrew had been their secret keeper. Sirius shifted from side to side, keeping Harry tucked tightly against his chest. At least Harry was alive. But how was Harry alive?

Sirius didn't have much time to dwell because suddenly — CRACK. 

Sirius's wand was in his hand once again and he pulled Harry tightly against his chest. He couldn't risk fighting with Harry in his arms though, what if a stray curse hit Harry? Carefully, he set Harry in his crib and covered him before he maneuvered his way down the stairs. The front door had been left open by Hagrid, so Sirius could see whoever was in front of the Potter house. Severus Snape. 

Sirius swallowed his pride and ran outside, hands up and stopped his former rival and enemy from entering the house. 

"Stop! You don't want to go in there." 

"Move out of my way, Black."

"Seriously, Snape. You don't want to go in there." Sirius kept moving in front of Snape, who kept trying to dodge him. 

"I said move out of my way, Black." Snape was clearly getting angrier at Sirius's attempt at keeping him from entering the Potter house. 

"Snape." The other man wasn't listening. "Snape." Sirius tried again. "Snape!" He kept pushing. "Severus stop!" That got Snape's attention. Sirius had never used Snape's first name, not really. It had always been twisted in a cruel way. Snivellus. But now it was not twisted with malice, there was no malice here. 

"She's dead, Snape." Sirius's voice was soft. "He killed her." 

A slew of emotions crossed Snape's eyes including pure horror. Sirius could see Snape's legs about to give out from under him and he caught the other man when he fell. 

"I'm sorry," Sirius said and he was earnest. He knew that Snape had feelings for Lily and he'd been there when Snape let himself slip and he'd called her a Mudblood. He'd seen the horror in Snape's eyes and the pain in Lily's. They'd been friends since the pair entered Hogwarts and it was James Potter who tore them apart. But James and Lily were meant to be, their Patronuses showed as much. But Snape had never stopped loving Lily. War had torn them apart. Snape joined the Death Eaters and Lily the Order of the Phoenix. 

He could hear Snape crying, his hand grasping at Sirius's arm. Sirius just held him, not knowing what to say. Eventually, Snape seemed to realize the situation he was in and he pushed himself away from Sirius. 

Sirius looked at Snape, eyeing him carefully. They were on opposite sides, but Snape loved Lily, could he count on that to help with her son?

"I know I don't deserve to ask for your help, but I need it." Sirius looked at Snape for a long period. 

"What do you want from me?" Snape sounded broken. 

"Harry lived. Lily's son. I know I don't deserve to ask for your help. I know James and I were awful people. We've all done horrible things and I am sorry for what I've done. But please don't let our past dictate what happens to a child. He's just a child. Please help me protect him." 

Snape looked at him for a long period of time. Sirius could feel his hope waning. Snape wasn't going to help him, he didn't know why he bothered to ask. 

"What do you want to do?" 

It took everything in Sirius's body to not hug the thin frame of Severus Snape in front of him. 

"I want to fake Harry's death." 

Snape raised an eyebrow. "How?" 

"We need to create a fake body for him to make the world think he died in Voldemort's attack."  Snape hissed at Sirius saying Voldemort's name outright. "Sorry." Sirius looked at Snape hesitantly, but Snape nodded for him to continue. "Then I'll take Harry and get him out of the country. And then you—" Sirius trailed off.

"I'll?" Snape prompted. 

"You'll lie. To everyone. To Him. To anyone who asks. He will know you came here to see if he killed Lily tonight." Sirius's voice cracked slightly at Lily's name. "You're going to lie. Anyone who asks you will hear from you directly that Harry Potter is dead." 

Snape nodded, looking at Sirius. "All right."

"I'll let you go first," Sirius said, turning himself to the side slightly. Snape nodded, but he stopped just inside the entrance. Sirius followed Snape's line of sight until he once again saw James's body. 

"I'm sorry," Snape said quietly. Sirius only nodded, swallowing hard before glancing up the stairs. 

"After you."

He followed Snape up the stairs until they reached Harry's bedroom. Snape immediately knelt next to Lily's body while Sirius picked up Harry again. There was silence for a long time until Snape stood, looking over at Harry. Harry blinked back at him. 

"He has her eyes," Snape said quietly. Sirius nodded, looking at his godson's vibrant green eyes. 

"Time to get to work," Sirius said.

It was a few hours later when Snape and Sirius stepped outside the Potter house. Harry was asleep in Sirius's arms and Sirius tucked him into his jacket further. 

"I can keep you updated on Harry if you'd like." Sirius looked over at Snape. Snape turned to him and studied him. 

"Yes, I would appreciate that." Sirius nodded before looking over at his flying bike. It was likely his favorite thing, but it was useful when he couldn't apparate with an infant. 

"Be seeing you, Severus." Sirius started toward the bike. 

"Take care of him...Sirius." Snape's voice was barely above a whisper, but Sirius could hear it. He nodded before straddling the bike and adjusting Harry again, making certain the child was comfortable. 

He flew, not quite certain where he was going. Behind him, he heard the distinct crack of apparition. 

He found himself landing in front of the flat of Remus Lupin. He knocked on the door which flew open before he even finished the second knock. 

"Sirius!" Remus's amber eyes were wide. 

"Remus." Sirius breathed, relief and another emotion he couldn't quite place building in his throat. "I need your help."


Six Years Ago:

The Dark Lord returned. Do not let Harry return to England. He doesn't know of Harry's survival. But I don't know if it can stay that way.

-Severus

Sirius practically threw the letter across the room along with the copy of the Daily Prophet that came with it. Voldemort returned. He was back. Harry was in danger. 

"What is it?" Remus asked, hearing the fist Sirius slammed into the desk. 

"Voldemort's back," Sirius said, handing the letter and paper to Remus as he stood, moving to the window. Remus was completely silent as he read the lines over and over. 

"I thought after all these years..." Remus trailed off, looking up at Sirius. 

"Me too." Sirius finally turned around to look at Remus. 

"Uncle Remus? Sirius?" Harry's wild black hair was the first thing to come into view followed by his thin frame. The boy rubbed his eyes then blinked at them with wide green eyes. "Is something wrong? I heard a noise." 

"No. No, my dear boy, nothing's wrong." Sirius sighed as he walked over to the eleven-year-old. Harry tucked his head into Sirius's side as he came closer, sighing slightly into the hug. "I didn't mean to wake you." 

"I couldn't sleep," Harry said, shyly. 

"What's wrong, Harry?" Remus asked, patting the bed next to him. Harry bounded across the room and jumped on the bed next to Remus, tucking himself into Remus's side. 

"I'm nervous to start school," Harry muttered. "What if no one likes me? What if they make fun of my scar?" 

"Oh, Harry." Sirius knelt down in front of the boy. Sometimes he looked so much like James and it made his heart ache, but here the boy reminded him so much of Lily. "They will love you. And if they don't that's their problem." Harry blinked at him. 

"And what's most important is that we love you." Remus reminded Harry. 

Harry smiled wrapping one small arm around Remus's arm and the other reached out toward Sirius. Sirius let himself be dragged forward by the small boy until he was sitting on the bed next to him. "I love you guys too." 

"Harry," Sirius said after a long moment of silence. "Speaking of school, there is something I need to remind you of."

"My name," Harry answered, his voice suddenly becoming very firm even for a child. "Hadrian Black." Remus and Sirius had decided that it would be much easier to explain Harry's looks by saying he was Sirius's son. They had the same black hair and Harry's wild hair could be easily dismissed by seeing Sirius. They also decided they could dismiss their accents by saying they were an unknown and relatively ignored branch of the Black family who moved to America to avoid persecution under Voldemort's reign out of fear of how a homosexual pair would be perceived. 

"Very good Harry." Remus picked up Harry and tucked him under one arm. "Now it's time for bed." 


Now:

Sirius sighed as he tapped his quill on the parchment in front of him. He didn't know what to write and it was tearing him apart. He knew he should just write the facts, there was nothing more to write. But something was nagging him. Maybe it was the memory of the letter he'd gotten all those years ago. 

Do not let Harry return to England.

Now there was no choice. Harry had to return to England. Remus was right. It would look more suspicious if Harry was suddenly given an excuse to not go. He was among the best in his class. It would be expected and nearly demanded that he go. Sirius sighed and finally dipped the quill in the inkwell. Here goes nothing. 

Severus,

I know you are aware of the reinstatement of the Triwizard Tournament. And I know you're aware of the inclusion of several other wizarding schools including Ilvermorny. There is no good way to tell you what I am about to and therefore I might as well just say it. Due to the inclusion of Ilvermorny, Harry will be among the students going to Hogwarts for the tournament. 

Harry will be returning to England. 

I know we will be included among the parents if he is chosen as the champion for the school. However, in case he is chosen or if he isn't, I need you to watch him. He is very smart, but he has never faced anything as strong as Voldemort. 

Please protect him, Severus.

-Sirius

Chapter Text

Hadrian's fists repeatedly contacted the punching bag in front of him. He hadn't bothered to wrap his hands, so his knuckles had started to become bloody the more he worked out the tension in his body. He could heal his hands in an instant or he could get someone in the Pukwudgie house to do it for him. They were good healers as they trained for that their whole lives. Hadrian grunted as his fists hit the bag again and again. He was frustrated, to say the least, about the impending doom of the InMaCo tournament. 

"What did that bag ever do to you, Black?" A voice asked as Hadrian punched again before heaving a sigh and stopping the swaying of the bag. It was bolted to the ceiling and the floor, so it wasn't going far. Hadrian turned and looked at the other boy who had spoken. Among his many classmates, Carlos was one of the few who bothered him the least. The boy spoke with a Spanish accent which meant he rolled his R's every time he spoke and had girls swooning. He had a tendency to strut because of this but he was actually incredibly humble. He wore his heritage like a badge of honor and often brought back things with him from his holidays and breaks. Hadrian had learned a lot from Carlos, things he probably wouldn't have learned elsewhere. The uniqueness of the student body at Ilvermorny was something Hadrian admired. There were students from several cultures mixed together. 

"The bag didn't do anything." Hadrian finally answered, looking down at his bloodied hands. 

"It's the tournament then," Carlos said, following Hadrian's gaze toward his hands. 

"Yes." 

"You're worried that you'll be chosen?" Carlos asked, coming closer and reaching toward Hadrian's hands. With a swift wave of his wand, the blood was gone, and the wounds began to close. 

"Yes and no." Hadrian flexed his hands, turning them over. "Thank you."

"What is it then?"

Hadrian sighed and sat on the nearest bench. It amazed him sometimes how much Ilvermorny looked like the non-magic world. 

"I think the tournament is dangerous." And it was true, Hadrian did think the tournament was dangerous. However, Carlos would think Hadrian meant the tasks presented in the tournament were what Hadrian was talking about and that was only part of Hadrian's worry. But he also worried about the ever-looming presence of Voldemort whose shadow had followed him since he was an infant. He doesn't know I'm alive. Hadrian reassured himself. 

"The tournament is dangerous, Hadrian." Carlos sat next to him. "That's why there are qualifications for going." Hadrian's quizzical look was enough to keep Carlos talking. "I take it you didn't see the posting this morning. There's a list of qualifications for the students to even go to Hogwarts. Headmistress Nyah isn't taking any chances."

Hadrian gritted his teeth. "You meet the qualifications, don't you?"

"Yes." There was a pause. "The primary qualification is being sixteen or over." Carlos had just turned sixteen over the summer. The boy was in the year below him but an absolutely brilliant healer. His ability to remove poisons from the body had been unparalleled since his third year. 

"They want you to go because you're a healer," Hadrian said a hint of relief rushing over him. 

"I believe so," Carlos answered, eyeing Hadrian. 

"It makes sense," Hadrian stood to pace. "Nyah would want to send her own healers for minor things rather than trust the healers there. There would be no choice if it was something major but if she could keep the Ilvermorny champion away from the influence of others as much as possible, she could ensure their relative safety." 

"By the influence of others," Carlos started and immediately Hadrian noticed his slip, "You mean Voldemort?" 

"And his followers." Hadrian attempted to keep his voice as nonchalant as possible. Carlos was watching him. "You know as well as I do that America and all its magical entities, MACUSA and Ilvermorny, have been relatively neutral if not even opposed to Voldemort's reign. Unlike Durmstrang where a Death Eater is the Headmaster, there's no affiliation with Voldemort here and he's not as pompous as Grindelwald to try and expand his reach to America before he's even tried for the rest of Europe." 

"You sound like you've thought of this before." And Hadrian had, several times. He'd studied what Voldemort had done but so little information had gotten to him after Voldemort truly took power. He suspected that Voldemort had been in power long before it was announced, that the takeover had been silent and deadly after the death of the Potters. Hadrian didn't answer Carlos's question though, instead, he just hummed, looking at the ground under his feet. 

"He came after your family, didn't he?" Hadrian winced. "I've suspected it for a while." Carlos leaned forward onto his folded hands which were propped on his knees. "Same-sex partners raising a child in the Dark Lord's England?" Carlos hummed. "Doesn't sound like a good time." Hadrian let out the breath he didn't realize he'd been holding. 

"No, no it doesn't." Hadrian looked at Carlos and deep brown eyes blinked back at him. "I need to clean up before class." 

He left before the Pukwudgie boy could say much more.


Cordelia hovered in the air, her eyes closed. Hadrian watched her, his head propped on books on the desk in front of him. He admired the girl's ability to focus for long periods of time as she was able to keep herself floating with a variation of Wingardium Leviosa. She had been sitting on the ground with her legs crossed when she suddenly lifted up, hovering perfectly in the air for as long as she kept her concentration. It had been five minutes since she started, and Hadrian idly wondered how long she would continue. It wasn't until Nicholas entered the room that he worried she would land on her backside with a hard crash. He was proven right when the other boy waggled his eyebrows at her before throwing something at Cordelia's shoulder. Cordelia landed with a hard thump and her lapis lazuli eyes opened, the blue and gold sparkling violently as she searched for just who had caused her mishap. Nicholas broke into a fit of laughter until a wordless Bombarda sent him flying into the wall. 

"Is that how you want to play it?" Nicholas asked, brushing off his cobalt robes. 

"You made me lose my concentration." Cordelia retorted. "That was wandless!"

"Fine then!" Nicholas threw off his robe, quite dramatically Hadrian noted, and the pair aimed their wands at each other. Hadrian was vaguely glad this was an empty classroom for this rather normal occurrence between his friends. 

Hexes and charms flew between the two, bouncing off the desks and chairs in the room. A stray spell flew toward Hadrian and rebounded off the shield he'd thought to put up at the beginning of their little duel. Hadrian hadn't moved an inch so neither of them had seen, or heard, him do it. But it was that that stopped his friends. 

"Done so soon?" Hadrian faked looking at a watch on his wrist. 

"I didn't even hear you say Protego," Cordelia muttered bitterly. 

"It's not like it would have mattered if I had because you were too busy trying to eviscerate Nicholas to notice." 

"Well it's not like you can't help but pay attention to me when I'm in the room anyway so ignoring Hadrian here in my wonderful presence is excused." Nicholas took a mock bow. 

"It's a wonder your ego fits through the doorway," Hadrian said with an eye-roll.

"Magic, honey," Nicholas answered like it was the simplest thing in the world. 

"Just because you have it doesn't mean you should use it for everything." 

"Are we certain we're talking about magic and nothing something else now?" Nicholas waggled his eyebrows at Hadrian who grabbed the front of Nicholas's robes and pulled the taller boy down to eye level. 

"Darling if I wanted to, I would have by now." Then he pushed the taller boy away and wrapped an arm around Cordelia's waist. "As it is you're just too pretty for me." 

Nicholas took a moment to recover from his initial shook to take the ego boost Hadrian had given him, puffing himself up like a peacock. "You're damn right I'm too pretty for you." Nicholas moved onto Cordelia's other side. "But Cordelia on the other hand. We'd make the perfect couple don't you think?" 

Hadrian listened to Nicholas and Cordelia bicker absently, mostly ignoring their conversation. 

As they continued their way down the hall, papers flew in front of them in the shape of owls, hovering directly in front of their faces. There was one for each of them. Hadrian stretched out his hand and the owl landed in it, unfolding as it did. 

Mr. Hadrian Black,

You are hereby cordially invited to join the delegation of students selected to attend the InMaCo tournament at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You imbibe all the traits we cultivate in our student body, intelligence, strength, grace under pressure, and most importantly the ability to think and react under duress. 

Thank you for your dedication to your school,

Headmistress Nyah

Hadrian looked over at Nicholas and Cordelia whom he knew had gotten the same note he had. 

"Invited my ass," Nicholas grumbled. 

"Cordially invited." Cordelia corrected.

"It doesn't matter!" Nicholas exclaimed, waving the invitation in his hand. "It doesn't matter how nicely they put it. We have no choice but to go. If we don't we'll look like cowards. If we act overly excited we look like bloodthirsty beasts. There is no satiating them." 

Hadrian watched as his normally cool and collected friend lost control of his abilities. His perfect pale blond hair started to darken, changing into a shade of crimson red. 

"Nicholas." Hadrian's voice was low, but it caught his friend's attention. Hadrian glanced up at Nicholas's hair and he heard Nicholas let out a slew of curses before it was back to its original pale blond color. Hadrian and Cordelia were the only ones in the school who knew of Nicholas's metamorphmagus abilities. His parents had been worried about people attempting to use Nicholas and Hadrian was inclined to agree. While they were mostly friendly as students, there was no telling how ruthless they'd be as adults. It was one of many closely guarded secrets Hadrian kept. 

Nicholas nodded to Hadrian, a silent thanks, before they started on their way again, this time in total silence. 

"Do you know when we leave?" Cordelia asked, finally breaking the tense silence. 

"I overheard a professor say that we'd be taken there in a week," Nicholas answered. 

"Sneaking out again after curfew?" Cordelia teased. 

"Oh, like you've never done it." Nicholas huffed. 


Hadrian stared at the carriage in front of him. It was an absolute abomination. The carriage was blue and cranberry with a large, gold Gordian knot on the door. Thestrals stomped the ground in front of the carriage, huffing air out of their noses. Most students, Hadrian knew, couldn't see the thestrals, but he could. It surprised him at first that he could see the large horse-like creatures when he first crossed their path. Their ivory eyes appeared to bore into his soul and it unnerved him as a child. Now, he was slightly more comfortable. Their leathery wings and domineering stature was still intimidating upon first glance. The thestrals he could tolerate. But the abomination they were traveling to the tournament in was an eyesore and Hadrian loathed it. 

"Why can't we for once arrive somewhere without broadcasting to everyone our school colors?" Cordelia lamented from his side. 

"Apparently not." 

"I would like to arrive someplace without letting everyone know that we are in fact the Americans." Hadrian snorted. 

Inside was much nicer than the outside, much to Hadrian's delight. The walls were decorated with marble, much like the inside of the school and marble floors lead them to their individual rooms. Lanterns adorned the walls, letting soft light grace the various weaving corridors that branched in every direction. The different houses went their various ways, separating themselves as they were told. Hadrian stopped in front of the Thunderbird branch and turned to Cordelia. 

"I suppose this is where we part my friend." Hadrian gave her a slight hug. 

"I'll be seeing you." Cordelia tucked her face into his shoulder briefly before bounding down the hall. 

Hadrian walked further down the hall until he saw Nicholas. The blond waved at him, a small smile coming across his face. Hadrian returned the gesture before the other disappeared into a room. Hadrian turned away from the other Wampus rooms and continued down the corridor. 

The Horned Serpent rooms were the last ones and Hadrian was internally glad for it. There was mostly secluded with the Pukwudgies serving as a barrier between the loud Wampus and Thunderbird houses. The two houses were always at odds, despite how much they secretly adored each other. Hadrian nodded to another student as they passed each other before he settled in the room with his name on the door. His belongings were already in place and he shut the door behind him with a soft click. 

He breathed a sigh of relief at the momentary lack of others in his immediate vicinity. His relief was short lived though as he immediately grabbed a piece of parchment and started writing a letter to Sirius, informing of their departure from Ilvermorny that morning. 

He gave the letter to his owl who cooed softly before her large wings opened. The pharaoh eagle owl took flight out of the carriage the moment it lifted off the ground. Hadrian watched the golden and black spotted owl until it disappeared from sight. 

Now, he was more alone than ever. 

Chapter Text

Hadrian should not have been surprised at the dining hall in the carriage. Of course there would be a dining hall in their journey across the pond, why wouldn't there be? Hadrian followed his fellow students through the buffet provided by the carriage before ultimately settling at an empty table. Thunderbird salt and pepper shakers stared at him and before he waved one over, letting it salt his meal before he waved it away again. The shaker settled back on the table, its eyes moving it every direction until someone else appeared for it to help. Hadrian tapped his fingers impatiently while he waited for his friends to join him. He didn't want to be rude by eating before they were there, but he also hated waiting. Idly, he thought about the oddity that was politeness while he looked out the window. 

Hadrian had chosen a table closest to the large window overlooking the back of the carriage. Below him, deep blue ocean danced under the moonlight. He could vaguely make out the outline of a whale in the distance when he heard the thump of a plate on the table, drawing his attention back into the carriage. Carlos was the first person to sit down. Hadrian took a moment while the other was sitting in his chair to evaluate him. His chocolate colored hair was kept perfectly in place by either magic or gel, Hadrian couldn't tell. He had a thin face and a strong chin which emphasized the strength in the rest of his body. He never used it though, Hadrian noticed. His look was completely contradictory to his personality, a warrior on the outside but a teddy bear on the inside. Carlos looked up at him and Hadrian was met with two different colored eyes, one a deep brown and the other a brilliant grey.

Cordelia sat down next, her hair bouncing with every step she took. Cordelia's brilliant colored eyes lit up as she saw Hadrian, bounding over to his side and sitting on the seat next to him. Nicholas sat down on Hadrian's other side, stretching himself out similar to a cat. Hadrian repressed the urge to roll his eyes, afraid something would pop at the sheer force of the action. The last unoccupied seat at the table was filled by Alexander MacDaniel. The boy rarely ever made an appearance but somehow, he was talking into taking a trip halfway across the planet for something he would not participate in. Hadrian could see it in the boy's amber eyes, he didn't want to be here anymore than Hadrian did. 

The group sat in silence for a long time, Hadrian watching every one of them carefully. Alexander had a shaggy head of dirty blond hair which he consistently pulled out of his face. Cordelia had apparently noted Alexander's behavior too, because she produced a large, yellow string from the pocket of her cranberry dress. 

"Go ahead," Alexander mumbled, straightening himself and dabbing his face with his napkin. Cordelia's face lit up and she started to pull Alexander's hair out of his face until it was braided back similarly to the one she had in her hair. However, the string that was holding Alexander's hair back began to fade until it appeared that there was nothing in his hair. 

"You charmed a hairpiece?" Nicholas asked attempting to fill his voice with pure snark but failing miserably as his amazement was clearly visible. 

"Yes!" Cordelia exclaimed, turning to reveal her own hairpiece. Hers hadn't vanished though, it was obvious and somehow Cordelia had twisted it into a Gordian knot. 

"Keeping with the school theme I see," Hadrian huffed. 

"I know you hate the school colors but what would you have them be?" Carlos asked. 

"Anything but blue and cranberry." 

"But Hadrian you look so pretty in blue and cranberry." Cordelia batted her eyes at her friend. 

"We've long since proven that but that is not the point." Hadrian waved a hand dismissively. 

Cordelia had been in the class when Hadrian pulled his loincloth stunt in their fifth year. Hadrian remembered the charm's class perfectly. Cordelia's face had turned as red as the robes she'd been wearing that day. Hadrian had also very dramatically draped himself over her desk. Cordelia and the girl next to her had not stopped staring at the enchanted serpent painted on his chest when he'd done that. She had given him a suggestion in hindsight that he had wished he'd thought off. She thought of putting a Gordian knot bow on the large serpent and Hadrian had cursed in six languages for not doing that. 

He didn't think Cordelia had ever truly forgiven him for the loincloth incident. 

Nicholas, however, had only resented the fact that he had not been there to see it. 

"Then what is the point?" Carlos asked, holding his fork in the hand he used to prop his chin up. 

"The point is that blue and cranberry together is an abomination to anyone with good taste and should not have been a color scheme." They'd all heard Hadrian rant before about the color scheme of the school and were more than willing to push him to rant again. "I honestly cannot fathom why they thought it would be a good idea to put a warm color and a cool color together as what they would demand to the students of Ilvermorny show the school. Yeah, yeah," Hadrian waved his hand, silencing already silent protests, "I know the story of favorite colors and pies but that is not an acceptable enough reason to put students in blue, gold, and red for seven years." 

Outside, lightning flashed and thunder cracked, and Hadrian's friends had various grins on their faces. 

"What would you have it be then?" Nicholas asked.

"Maybe something that fit each house rather than universal colors. Or no houses and then a universal color. Hogwarts has house colors and Beauxbatons has no color, except for white. Or have you seen the Mahoutokoro robes? They change color for pink to gold if you're high achieving in your classes and into white if you participate in illegal activity." Hadrian waved down at his cranberry tux with a cobalt tie, "This abomination is outlandish and should be burned in Fiendfyre at the earliest opportunity." 

"I didn't know you felt so strongly about our dress code, Hadrian." Hadrian turned to see Headmistress Nyah standing directly behind him. Despite how much he loathed the dress, he had to admit that she wore it with class. Her black dress had gold, blue, and cranberry folds interlaced within it. 

"Really?" Hadrian asked, raising an eyebrow. "I thought my loincloth stunt was enough to get that point across." Her amber eyes glistened in the soft glow of the lanterns. 

"Indeed." That was all she said as she swept around the table, her thunderbird tattoo staring at Hadrian as she went. 

"How can you get away with talking to her like that?" Nicholas asked, and Hadrian noticed the combined sigh of relief the table let out. 

Nyah Nightwalker had been at the top of her class when she attended Ilvermorny. She was a rarity among the Ilvermorny students as she had been given the honor of choosing her house, much like the former head of MACUSA, Seraphina Picquery, whose face Hadrian had seen every day in the Horned Serpent common room. Unlike her predecessor, Nyah did not choose Horned Serpent but instead choose Thunderbird. Hadrian had admired the woman since the moment he met her and had an opportunity to speak with her every year since he arrived at Ilvermorny. She intimidated everyone she came in contact with because not only was she magically powerful, but she was also the youngest headmaster of Ilvermorny since the school's creation. Among her many mysteries, was her thunderbird tattoo which no one knew how she acquired it, nor would she say. 

"I treat her like a human," Hadrian answered simply, shrugging his shoulders. 

Not long after dinner, Hadrian found himself being led by Cordelia toward a different wing of the carriage. Idly he thought about how much he loved magic as he, Nicholas, and Cordelia were crammed into what felt like a club atmosphere. They'd lost Carlos and Alexander along the way, each citing their own reasons for not wanting to join them. 

"When did this get here?" Hadrian asked over the loud thrum of music. "I doubt the professors would put it in."

"They didn't," Cordelia answered, grinning mischievously at him, "But it's like the one back home."

Soon, the three of them were swept onto the dance floor. Neon lights with no apparent source danced around their heads and music thrummed, shaking the very walls of the room. 

"Privacy wards." Nicholas said in Hadrian's ear, waving his finger around, "To keep the noise to ourselves." 

Hadrian felt the music under his skin as various shades of blue and cranberry clothed students huddled together on the dance floor, swaying in various directions with the beat. He wasn't certain how long he danced, but he could feel the tension leave his body the longer he stayed. He certainly slept well that night. 


Hadrian looked out the window as they started to approach the countryside, headed towards Hogwarts. He felt the wards around the school shudder as the carriage passed through, the magic making the hair on his arms stand on end. The carriage circled the behemoth castle that was Hogwarts. In the lake, a large, rustic boat sat its mast waving in the wind. The thestrals began their descent toward the ground and the carriage landed with a loud thud on the grass. Hadrian could see another carriage out the window, a brilliant white one with massive Abraxan horses at the front. The horses pawed at the ground, clearly agitated by the arrival of the new carriage. 

"We aren't supposed to leave until all the schools arrive," Alexander said, appearing at his side. 

"There are four schools here, including Hogwarts, and three are still yet to arrive." Hadrian looked away from the window and toward the boy next to him, "How long do they expect us to wait?"

"Forever if we have to." Hadrian sighed, realizing Alexander wasn't exaggerating. If any of the schools could avoid participating, they would save for maybe Durmstrang. 

Hadrian turned back toward the other Horned Serpent rooms. "It's not like it matters anyone. No one else is awake." 

"Party too hard last night?" Alexander asked.

"No." Hadrian leaned his head back against the wall next to the window. "No one is awake at six in the morning, Alexander. Except for you apparently." 

"And you." He could feel the weight of Alexander's eyes on him as the other boy studied him. "Why are you up so early?"

Hadrian let out a breath, feeling as if he would deflate at any moment, "I'm not quite sure it matters."

"Of course it does," Alexander reached out a hand to touch Hadrian's arm but then withdrew, "But I understand if you don't want to say more." 

"I can't explain it, Alexander." 

Hadrian turned to look at the other boy who was still studying him. They were silent for a few moments before Hadrian looked away, breaking the gaze he was unaware he'd been holding. 

"But onto a different subject. Breakfast?" Hadrian gestured out in front of him, noting the smile in Alexander's eyes. Hadrian's cobalt robes billowed behind him as they made their way to the dining hall. 


They waited for hours before another school arrived on Hogwarts grounds. Castelobruxo was the next to arrive, a carriage covered in vines and pulled by Hippogriffs. Their large beaks looked like they could easily bite off Hadrian's hand if he got too close. He vaguely remembered their Magizoology class with Hippogriffs and remembered the need to bow before approaching. Though he did wonder how exactly they managed to use such creatures to pull a carriage. They seemed like they wouldn't do well being lashed together for too long. 

Mahoutokoro was next, arriving in a carriage pulled by giant storm petrels. During Hadrian's research on each school he would be spending the next year with, he found that giant storm petrels were what transported the students to and from the school every day if they so pleased. The carriage shimmered in and out of view as though it didn't exist, as if it were a figment of Hadrian's imagination. Upon the arrival of the Mahoutokoro, his classmates had begun to "ooh" and "aah" at the sight of the carriage. 

Uagadou was the last to arrive. The air seemed to shimmer and suddenly the students appeared as if they had been there, on the lawn of Hogwarts, the whole time. 

Hadrian watched as, at the moment of Uagadou's arrival, the boat in the lake had begun to open. Students, clad in brown wool, marched down toward the front of Hogwarts in perfect unison. On the other side of the Ilvermorny carriage, students had begun to flow out of the Beauxbaton carriage, the sky blue making the look like a waterfall as they spilled out of the entryway to the carriage. Mahoutokoro students left their carriage with, descending on the lawn of Hogwarts in their soft pink uniforms, with one or two dressed in gold among them. Castelobruxo's students were next, their bright green robes nearly blending in with the vibrant grass below their feet. Hadrian vaguely noticed a few of the Castelobruxo students weren't wearing shoes. Finally, the students of Ilvermorny began to pour out of their carriage, blue and cranberry alternating until everyone joined the other five schools on the step of Hogwarts castle. 

Silence filled the tense afternoon air. These schools had rarely ever come together, their students rarely ever seeing each other until after their departure from their educational career. Now, they were gathered together on what was very much not mutual territory. In front of them, doors swung open, revealing a tall woman in emerald robes. A pointed emerald had with a rounded rim sat on her head and she swept through the grounds with incredible, near cat-like, grace. 

"Welcome to Hogwarts." 


Hadrian's eyes scanned the various teachers at the table in front of him. He noted the woman who had greeted them was sitting in a large, golden chair at the front of the room. Everyone was incredibly close together. Even with the limited number of students each school had sent, there was still every student from Hogwarts in addition to the students from the other six wizarding schools. They were packed very tightly together at the four, long tables in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. The students from the various schools were invited to sit wherever they saw fit. He noted the Beauxbaton students and their high regard for the headmistress, Madame Maxine, as they didn't sit until she did. Next to Madame Maxine was Headmistress Nyah. They seemed to be engaged animatedly in conversation with the headmaster of Castelobruxo who sat on Madame Maxine's other side. 

Hadrian kept looking until his eyes came to rest on one man. He was exactly as Sirius had described him, tall and thin with black hair and a high nose, as if everything and everyone were beneath him. His dark eyes flitted to Hadrian for a moment and recognition burned bright in them, but it was gone as quickly as it had come. He turned to continue his conversation with the man on his right. Hadrian followed the conversation his eyes landing on the other man. At that moment, the lightning bolt scar, which had never been a problem before, began to burn. 

Chapter Text

Hadrian burst out of the doors, falling on his knees on the grass outside Hogwarts. It felt like he couldn't breathe like the very air had been sucked out of his lungs. He knew Voldemort was in charge of Magical Britain, he had known that for quite some time. But he didn't know that coming to the tournament would put him right under the man's nose for the duration of the time. It was the only thing that made sense. His scar had never been a problem before now. Hadrian had reasoned it out a long time ago. No one had ever survived a Killing Curse and dark curses left marks. Some part of Voldemort himself must have been left that night. There was no other explanation for the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. Voldemort must have tried to kill him but failed for some reason. He must have thought he succeeded though, there was no reason for Voldemort to believe otherwise. The only people who knew Harry Potter was alive were Sirius, Remus, Severus Snape, and Rubeus Hagrid. According to Severus, Hagrid had gone missing that night after Sirius had talked to him in Godric's Hollow. No one, not even in the Order, had seen or heard from him in sixteen years. Severus had also suspected that Dumbledore still believed the Potter heir to be alive, especially with the suspicious disappearances of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, but Severus had never been able to confirm his theory. 

Years had gone by without a sighting of Harry Potter, Sirius Black, or Remus Lupin. Voldemort had taken over and his reign began. Severus's letters contained little information and Hadrian hadn't been able to gather much as it was difficult to obtain the Daily Prophet in America. Sirius had once speculated that Severus's communications were being monitored and that everything Severus sent was being evaluated. It would explain how he had not been able to warn them about this. This was dangerous. 

Hadrian ran his hands through his hair, making it fall out of its semi-tamed form. He was in more danger just being near the castle than he was his entire life. He had to focus. His first step would be to talk to Severus. The man clearly knew who he was and could give him some insight into the Voldemort. Hadrian straightened himself, standing and waving his hand absently over the grass stains on his pants. Behind him, he could hear someone exit the castle. 

"You left in quite a rush." Hadrian turned to face the person who joined him. 

"I wasn't feeling well." 

Hadrian recognized the woman. She had greeted the six schools upon their arrival to Hogwarts, she was the Hogwarts Headmistress. Her emerald robes slid along the grass as she walked closer to Hadrian, her green eyes focusing on him. 

"Is something wrong?" 

"Nothing." He straightened himself, folding his hands behind his back. "I'm so sorry, Headmistress, but I seem to have forgotten your name." 

She eyed him for a moment, her eyes searching his as if she were looking for something. Hadrian stood perfectly still, watching her back. 

"McGonagall," She said at last, "My name is Headmistress Minerva McGonagall." 

Hadrian gave a slight bow, "Pleased to meet you, Headmistress McGonagall. I am Hadrian Black." 

The woman pursed her lips for a moment. "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Black." 

They stood in silence for a moment before the woman looked around, eyeing the grounds. "It's a lovely night, don't you think?" 

"Yes, ma'am. It is." Hadrian wondered what exactly the woman was up to, he could practically see the thoughts in her head. 

"Would you like to join me for a stroll?" 

Hadrian felt himself freeze. Some part of him wanted to, for some reason. He didn't know why, but he liked this woman. Maybe it was her demeanor. There was another part of him, however, that made him hesitate. 

"I should be getting back. Perhaps some other time." 

"Perhaps." 

He gave a slight bow, feeling a loose hair fall across his face. He remembered running his hands through it, silently reminding himself to fix it before returning to his classmates. She nodded her head at him and he turned to leave, retracing his steps back toward the Great Hall. Hadrian sat back down between Cordelia and Nicholas, his friends eyeing him but saying nothing. He knew, however, he would get questioned later about his need to excuse himself earlier. The meal continued as it had changed from dinner to desert while Hadrian had been outside. He noted the Hogwarts Headmistress return to her chair, receiving nods from every professor except for Voldemort. 

He wasn't as Hadrian had pictured him. Hadrian wasn't certain what Voldemort would look like, but the man he was wasn't the one he'd had nightmares about. The one he'd seen in his dreams had skin like a snake but it was pale white, like death. His eyes had been blood red slits. He'd had no nose and no hair. He really did look like someone had tried a Polyjuice potion of a snake and it had gone horribly wrong. He moved like a snake, his black robes swaying with every movement. It was as hypnotic as it was frightening. 

This man, however, looked completely human. He had brown hair and royal blue eyes. His skin was light but not the same deathly pale as the monster of Hadrian's nightmares. He was clearly tall, still about the same height as the "man" Hadrian had dreamed of so many times. The man looked younger than the other professors at the table with him and briefly, Hadrian wondered if he'd made a mistake. Maybe it wasn't Voldemort. But his scar was still burning. 

He was distracted from studying the man by someone who suddenly swept up in front of the mass of students. This man had long, white blond hair. His blue eyes pierced everyone in the room. The students quieted down and Hadrian leaned over to the boy in front of him. 

"Who's that?" 

The red-headed boy turned and looked at him, "That's the Minister of Magic, Corban Yaxley." 

Hadrian nodded as the whispering in the room died down. 

"Welcome, one and all to the Tournament of International Magical Cooperation." People began to applaud. Yaxley gave a smile which Hadrian though looked forced as he waited for everyone to settle down. "As you know, the students who are joining us here were sent because they are the best and brightest from their respective schools. We must all band together to form a cohesive environment where everyone can learn from each other and spread ideas that can go on to better the lives of wizards and witches around the world. This tournament is meant to foster friendly competition between our seven schools. Each school will put forth a champion who will be put to the test in a series of trials, each of which will cater to the strengths of every school here today." At that moment, Hadrian had never been happier that he had spent time researching the other schools. He knew their curriculums, he knew their strengths. All he had to do was avoid being champion. "You will be given the chance to earn eternal glory." A large object was brought forward with invisible hands. Hadrian could feel himself and everyone around him crane their necks in attempt to see what exactly was under the sheet in front of them. "One must only enter their name in," Yaxley paused before waving his hand. The sheet flew off the object dramatically. "The Goblet of Fire." Blue flames ignited out of the massive, crystal goblet. "If anyone wishes to enter the tournament, one must only write their name upon a piece of parchment and throw it in the fire. As you know, no one below the age of seventeen or who will not reach their majority during the time of the tournament is allowed to enter." With a flick of his wand, Yaxley drew an age line around the goblet. "As of this moment, the InMaCo Tournament has begun."


Hadrian roamed through Hogwarts, his cranberry robes very out of place in the hard stone of the castle. He knew there would be a blend of classes if Hogwarts offered the class as well. This meant most of his classes would be taught by Hogwarts professors. One of the first things he had ever learned was how one of the founders of Ilvermorny had longed to be a Hogwarts student and therefore had modeled Ilvermorny after Hogwarts as much as possible. 

Hadrian adjusted the Horned Serpent clip on his tie, which hissed at him. 

"Oh hush you," Hadrian muttered before he turned to look at a portrait on the wall. The portrait waved at him and he waved back before the girl giggled and moved into the frame beside hers. Hadrian felt a smile pull at the edge of his lips. They didn't have moving portraits in Ilvermorny, all theirs were still. The portrait of Seraphina Picquery stared at him, unmoving for years in the Horned Serpent Common Room. Hadrian continued on his path toward the class, wary of the moving staircases. He idly wondered what brilliant person's idea it was to make the staircases move. How many adventures were people put on because the staircase led them to some foreign room?

His classes moved fairly quickly and his friends appeared and disappeared throughout the day as they had different schedules than he did. Hadrian was eternally grateful when the day finally came to an end, but it seemed as though the excitement wasn't over. The tables had been rearranged at dinner, allowing for more seating space for everyone. However, it meant that everyone was scattered around, save for the Hogwarts students. This proved to be a problem.

Hadrian found Alexander, his eyes darting everywhere and filled with panic. 

"Alexander," Hadrian approached the other boy carefully.

"Hadrian." Alexander's voice shook.

"You need to breathe." 

"I can't Hadrian." Alexander's voice was frantic. "It's loud, they're all so loud. It has been all day. Normally, I can handle it because everyone thinks in the same language. Even with Carlos who goes between English and Spanish. Or some of the others who go back and forth between English and their native languages, I can handle it. But this, I can't handle it. There are too many languages. It's so loud, Hadrian." Alexander had begun to shake and around him, the air had begun to crackle. 

"Alexander!" Hadrian grabbed the boy's arms, focusing his attention on Hadrian and away from everyone else in the room. "Focus on me, what do you hear?" 

Amber eyes focused on emerald. For a moment, nothing was said. "Nothing. I hear nothing." The boy let out a sigh of relief. "Like always." 

"Good," Hadrian let out the breath he'd been holding. "Focus on that. Don't focus on them." 

Alexander nodded then suddenly panic filled his eyes once again and he pulled Hadrian out of the Great Hall. 

"You know?" He demanded once they were alone. 

"Yes," Hadrian answered, leaning against the nearest wall and rubbing his temple. He could still feel Alexander pushing at the barriers of his mind and it was giving him a headache. 

"How long?" Alexander demanded. 

"Since first year," Hadrian answered. 

"You've known about me since first year and you haven't said a thing?" Hadrian didn't answer. "Why?"

Hadrian sighed, "I didn't think you'd want me to." 

Alexander nodded. "Does anyone else know about me?" 

"Not that I know of. Maybe Headmistress Nyah."

Alexander sighed. "Good, that's good. Hadrian," Hadrian nodded for him to go on, "You have to promise not to tell anyone that I'm a Legilmens."

"I promise." Hadrian stood straighter, "Feeling better?"

"Much."


Hadrian thought he was able to successfully avoid the mysterious professor after a near completion of his second day at Hogwarts. Severus had managed to slip a note to him during Potions to see him later that day and Hadrian had repressed the sigh of relief that had overcome him. He was entering his final class, Defense. It was called Defense in Ilvermorny too. It was Hadrian's best class. Of course, he had top marks in all his classes, but Defense was the one he personally felt he excelled at. Defense, at Ilvermorny, combined both magical and No-Mag defense. Before the students were allowed to practice magic, they had to learn how to defend themselves from non-magical attackers. Hadrian had been a scrawny child and could not throw a punch to save his life. As time had gone on, however, Hadrian had gotten stronger. He continued to practice No-Mag defense on top of magical Defense. Where before he had been scrawny, he was now lean muscle. Headmistress Nyah had offered to keep the classes that weren't being offered at Hogwarts going for the students who wanted them, so Hadrian still kept his non-magical training going. 

The students settled in the classroom. It was the largest classroom, next to the Transfiguration class, he'd been in by far at Hogwarts. The windows opened to an overlook of the lake where the Durmstrang boat rested. Hadrian noted how many students were in the class. The Defense class had students from every school except for Mahoutokoro. Hadrian was seated next to Cordelia and a student from Uagadou. 

The student turned to look at him, eyeing him. Her long, black hair fell in waves down her back. Her piercing chocolate eyes roamed over him as if she were figuring out if he were worthy of talking to. He stared forward for a while, wondering whether or not she would keep staring or eventually talk to him. 

"Hello," She said after a long moment. 

Hadrian turned, "Hello."

"I am Gaea."

"I'm Hadrian." 

"Forgive me, your accent does not sound American but you dress in American colors?" She cocked her head at him.

"My family is from England initially so I grew up around people with an English accent."

She nodded at him. "I grew up around a lot of English people too."

Hadrian felt a catch in his throat but he couldn't say anything more because above them a door opened and the man Hadrian had seen before stepped out. 

"Welcome to Defense. I am your professor, Thomas Gaunt."

Chapter Text

"Line up first years!" The professor barked at them. Hadrian lined up with the other students. All the houses were together for Physical today which was rare, or so he was told. The older students told him that it wasn't often that all the houses were put together but apparently, this was one of the occurrences that happened with every year. Hadrian was surrounded by other Horned Serpent students. The house next to him was the Pukwudgie house together the two houses formed a line. The line across from them was made of the Thunderbird and Wampus house first years and the two rows faced each other. Across from him, a blond boy stared at him with curious eyes. He knew the other boy's eyes were focused on the lightning bolt scar on his forehead which Hadrian quickly moved to cover with his hair. 

"At your feet," The professor began, distracting every student including the blond across from him, "You will see staffs at your feet and the person directly across from you is your partner. Pick up your staff and move with your partner until you are in your own space. Do not do anything more until I tell you." Hadrian bent, grabbing the staff in his hand and testing its weight. The wood was smooth in his hand as he rolled it from side to side. The blond approached him, his eyes glancing over to a corner yet unclaimed. Hadrian nodded and followed the taller boy there. They stood in complete silence as the professor made certain everyone had a partner. Their professor was an incredibly muscled man. Currently, he was not wearing a shirt which allowed his arm, chest, and ab muscles to be more exposed than the students had previously seen. His pale skin gleamed in the torchlight of the room. He wore loose-fitting pants with a shimmering band around the waist. The professor, Professor Zane, also held a staff but his he held behind his back. 

"I have enlisted the help of another today to instruct you during this lesson. This will only happen today." Hadrian had to restrain himself from letting his jaw drop as the headmistress moved into the room. She wore a tank top and same pants as their Physical professor. She greeted the students, turning and smiling at all of them to make certain they were all noticed. It was when she turned her back to Hadrian that he noticed her Thunderbird tattoo. The eyes twitched and focused on him for a moment and suddenly the bird moved, flying across her back and onto her left shoulder. A chorus of wonder and gasps echoed from the students and was quickly shut down by the glare of the Physical professor. 

"Do exactly as we do," Professor Zane said, "We will do something and then you will mimic it." 

Headmistress Nyah joined him in the center of the room with a staff of her own. The two held the staffs behind their back and bowed to each other, low but keeping their eyes on their opponents. They waited and the students around them mimicked their actions. Hadrian found it difficult to hold the large staff behind his back as he bowed to the blond in front of him and the other boy bowed back, neither bowing as low as the professors had. Next, the professors moved into a stance, their feet shoulder width apart and their backs facing opposite directions with their staffs held firmly in their hands. 

"When you get into this position hold it. Headmistress Nyah and I will be around to adjust your stance." 

Hadrian and the blond obeyed and Hadrian felt himself swaying slightly as he tried to keep himself balanced. It was Headmistress Nyah who approached the two of them. She went to the blond first, making the other boy pull his hands further apart on the staff. Then she came to Hadrian. 

"Back straighter," She ordered, though her voice was kind. "There you go. Chin up. Keep your abs in tight and remember to breathe. Separate your hands just a bit. Good. Does that feel better?" Hadrian nodded, noting the difference and committing it to memory. 

Headmistress Nyah and Professor Zane returned to the front and again took their stances, for every move they made, the students mimicked. For every hard clash that the professors' staffs made, there were soft taps echoing around the room. After what felt like an eternity and Hadrian's body was covered in a thin layer of sweat, the professors let them move out of their stances and ordered the students to line up around the edge of the room. In the center, Headmistress Nyah and Professor Zane faced each other again, their staffs firmly behind their backs. 

The two bowed to each other as low as earlier before the snapped into their stances, quick as snakes. Their bodies were ridged and their faces were hard. Gone was the earlier lightheartedness that had ebbed from the headmistress and seemingly from the Physical professor, though none of the students knew it at the time. Both stood, carefully examining each other before suddenly, the staffs collided. The clash was deafening and echoed off the walls of the room like thunder. The professors lashed at each other, staff on staff and staff on bone. Professor Zane moved like a cat as he stalked around the headmistress, looking for any drop in her guard. Headmistress Nyah watched him also evaluating his guard when suddenly, she let out a yell, enough to make Professor Zane drop his guard on one side. The headmistress took the opening striking a deftly as a snake. The fight between the two raged as the staffs continued to collide. Hadrian couldn't help but compare Nyah's movements to that of fire with how she danced with every motion. If she was fire, then Zane was water, ebbing and dancing to counter her. The fight ended when Nyah ducked his attack at her head and sweeping at his feet. Nyah's foot pinned his hand and her staff was aimed at his throat. Her breathing was hard and for a moment, the two stayed in that position. Then, the headmistress stepped back and offered her hand to the fallen professor who took it gratefully, accepting his defeat. 

Applause erupted from around the room as the two professors bowed to the students. 

"Here soon, you will be able to fight like that," Headmistress Nyah said, "But for now, you need to learn the basics. I look forward to seeing your training progress."

The days in Physical passed slowly. Hadrian's other classes weren't nearly as exciting as Physical. Ilvermorny's curriculum was interesting. In his younger years, Remus and Sirius had told him about the Hogwarts curriculum and how the students started in magic classes from the beginning. In Ilvermorny however, the first year was learning about No-Mag classes. There were chemistry classes and biology classes, history classes (Magical and No-Mag) and even Physical. It was only after the break and in the second half of their first year could they start on the magical. Hadrian remembered feeling incredibly disappointed at the idea when he heard it. Now, however, he was glad the curriculum was set up that way. He was slowly building up the ability to fight with a staff, his movements becoming more fluid as the time went on. Their first real fight was coming up and Hadrian was determined not to lose. 

Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. Hadrian had been paired with a red-haired Thunderbird boy who clearly took the sport beyond the sport. For eleven the boy was massive and not very light on his feet. He was strong though and it didn't take him long to knock Hadrian down, ending the fight and giving Hadrian a lovely bruise on the side of his face. Most of the time, people would have gone to the Hospital Wing for treatment, but Hadrian didn't. He wanted the bruise to remind him to do better next time. 

The next time, he did. Hadrian was paired with the blond who he had been paired with during the first class. The blond had yet to lose a fight as he was quick and agile. Even the red-headed Thunderbird had fallen to the blond. Hadrian bowed to him and the other bowed back before they entered their stances. The fight was over nearly as quickly as it began. The blond had been relying on his agility to win the fight and did not think to guard himself completely. A quick snap to his ribs and a sweep of his feet was all it took for Hadrian to overtake the blond in the fight and the other went down quickly. Hadrian pinned him and the other accepted defeat. He offered the other his hand to help him up which was accepted with a large grin. 

Later, the blond approached him. 

"That was good. I didn't expect that." 

"You're a great fighter," Hadrian said. "I honestly didn't think I would win."

"I'm Nicholas." The blond stuck his hand out to Hadrian who shook it willingly. 

"Hadrian."

"Don't worry, Hadrian. You'll beat the rest of them yet." 


Nicholas was sitting on the other side of Cordelia when the Defense teacher entered the room. He could see Hadrian tense at the very sight of the professor. Why Hadrian felt threatened by the man, he wasn't certain. However, if Hadrian felt the man in front of them was a threat, he would trust the other's instincts. Hadrian had done more for him in the few years they had known each other than he could ever say. His ability could have easily been exploited by people before he was of age to choose for himself. Now, he was seventeen and his ability had stayed a secret because Hadrian had made it so. He owed Hadrian. He turned his eyes to the professor at the front of the room, determined to figure out just what exactly made the man a threat to Hadrian Black and how he could keep his best friend from him. 

The man was definitely handsome, Nicholas could admit that. He was tall with dark brown hair and deep blue eyes. His hair was pinned perfectly in place with no a stray strand out of order. The man wore dress pants and a neat, white shirt which Nicholas could tell had many of the girls, and in fact some of the boys, in the room swooning, including Cordelia at his side. He looked fairly innocuous, just a standard handsome professor. But something had Hadrian twitching. His friend's body was tense and there was a muscle in his jaw twitching, meaning the other was grinding his teeth. Nicholas knew that look. Hadrian often ground his teeth when he had a problem he couldn't quite figure out. He had seen it with certain assignments and he had seen it with opponents in Physical. Nicholas studied the other professor closer as he started to lecture. His voice was deep and smooth like honey met velvet. 

"I need a volunteer pair." The professor's eyes swept over the room and landed firmly on Cordelia for a moment, but it was Hadrian who spoke. 

"Professor," Professor Gaunt's eyes snapped to him, "I'll volunteer." 

"Excellent." The professor turned to look at the other students, skimming over the others in blue and cranberry robes. Finally, he picked a boy from Durmstrang. The boy looked like he could crush Hadrian with his thumb. He was much taller and broader and the way he lumbered forward made Nicholas glad Hadrian had volunteered for Cordelia. Cordelia was an excellent dueler and Nicholas well knew. But Hadrian was better. The Durmstrang boy looked at Hadrian and muttered something that Nicholas couldn't understand, but no doubt Hadrian could. 

Hadrian had always been incredibly smart, living up to the Horned Serpent house quite well. He took extra classes beyond that of what was required, even taking classes well into the summer. The No-Mag classes the school offered in the first half of first-year could be continued over the summer, with the exception of Physical, if the students so wished. Hadrian eagerly jumped at the chance and continued his studies well into the summer, often writing Nicholas about a new fact he learned among other things in their letters. Hadrian also dove into the study of languages, making a point to learn as much as possible. He was among the smartest in the school for a reason. 

Now, his vibrant green eyes narrowed at the Durmstrang boy. 

"I trust you've been taught how to duel, yes?" Gaunt didn't wait for them to answer the question. "First you bow." He prompted. 

Hadrian barely bowed and the Durmstrang boy mirrored him. 

There was complete silence in the room as everything seemed to still. The Durmstrang boy sent out a spell but it hit the vibrant shield Hadrian projected. The boy was about to complain when his body suddenly flew across the room and his wand landed in Hadrian's outstretched hand. 

Hadrian cocked his head at the boy, twirling the other's wand through his fingers as he stood. 

Nicholas knew the look that was flashing through Hadrian's eyes. He had seen it a few times and it was the reason people tended to shy away from Hadrian. Nicholas coughed into his sleeve, drawing Hadrian's attention away from the boy. Hadrian absently handed the wand to the professor before striding to his seat, giving Nicholas a nod on the way. 

Hadrian vanished completely after class, so quickly Nicholas barely saw the other pack up. 

"What did he say to make Hadrian so angry?" He asked Cordelia. If anyone was as well versed in the language, or as close to it, as Hadrian, it was Cordelia. But the girl just looked at him with her lapis lazuli eyes and shook her head. 

"You don't want to know." 

Chapter Text

Hadrian finished making the figure in the bed look vaguely like a sleeping form of himself. If someone peeked in, in the dark it would look enough like him to fool them. He disillusioned himself and put on a few silencing charms as well as a few others to make himself fully inconspicuous. He was not here to be noticed. He slipped out of the carriage and toward the castle. The other carriages and transports for the schools were in various states of preparation for the night. Some were completely dark and some were dimming for sleep. The castle in front of him was mostly dark save for two of the towers and some light shining from the lake. Hadrian suspected the lights were from the dormitories for the various houses. Hadrian knew all about the houses. Gryffindor housed the brave, Slytherin the ambitious and cunning, Hufflepuff the loyal, and Ravenclaw the intelligent. However, it was different than Ilvermorny. In Hogwarts, it was about what people valued the most. In Ilvermorny it was about your most innate traits and personality. If Hadrian had attended Hogwarts, he would have been a Slytherin, he knew it with every fiber of his being. Maybe if he had attended as Harry, he would have been in another house, but as Hadrian, he was a Slytherin. 

Hadrian followed the steps on the paper Severus had given him, down into the dungeons where Potions had been earlier in the day but instead of stopping at the door he had earlier, he ventured to the one beyond it, obscured by the shadows. Hadrian knocked twice and waited. The door cracked opened and light flooded the hall. Hadrian stepped in, not bothering to take off his concealments until the door closed behind him. He locked privacy wards into place around the room, atop ones that were already there. Only once he was certain they were semi-safe did Hadrian remove his concealments. Snape stared at him for a moment. It was the first time the two of them had really met face to face, without other students in their paths. They were silent for a moment, both evaluating the other. 

"Hello, Severus," Hadrian said, finally breaking the silence.

"Hello, Harry." Severus's voice was clipped and there was an emotion in it that Hadrian couldn't quite place. 

"It's the eyes, isn't it?" Hadrian asked after a moment. "I can glamour them if that would make it easier. Or maybe the hair." 

Severus didn't answer but instead narrowed his eyes. For a long moment, they stared at each other again. 

"So you're a triple agent." Hadrian turned away from Severus to evaluate the man's private quarters. Books of various kinds lined shelves on the walls and potions ingredients were meticulously organized in rows on tables and shelves near them. Cauldrons were stacked, meticulously cleaned and maintained, and placed in the corners not otherwise occupied by books and potion ingredients. "First a Death Eater, then a member of the Order of the Phoenix, then in the Harry Potter is dead protection group," Hadrian smirked. "Your life is on the line just talking to me." Hadrian turned to face the man again. "So, why do it?"

"Your life was in danger because of me," Severus answered plainly. Severus looked at Hadrian evenly. 

"Because you relayed the piece of the prophecy you heard to Voldemort." Hadrian supplied. "I know. I read the letters. Or the pertinent ones anyway." He ran a hand through his hair. "Sirius was furious at first. It took Remus talking sense into him for him to finally realize. You lost something that day too. You didn't have to tell Dumbledore that you overheard part of the prophecy. You didn't have to tell him that Voldemort thought it was Lily's son. You could have just begged him to spare her life. You could have even gone with him and immobilized her and let her husband and child die. Yet here you stand, guarding the secret of the child who lived because of your love for his mother." 

Hadrian eyed the man in front of him. "You and I both know I can't be in this competition. Everyone expects me to. It would put my whole life under evaluation and it would crumble. My secret would be exposed and you along with me." 

"I am willing to die for my mistakes." Severus finally moved from his position by the door. "I'm willing to die for what I believe in."

"Are you?" Hadrian asked. 

"You are alive because of me, at great risk to my own life. If I were not willing to die, you would not be here." 

Silence fell between the two.

"You say you are willing to die for the things you believe in," Hadrian began, "What is it you suppose I believe in?" 

"Revenge," Severus answered simply. 

Hadrian smiled. 


"Tell me what you know of the possible respective champions from the various schools." 

"From our own, we have a few-" A wave of a hand cut the man off. 

"I don't want to hear about the Hogwarts champion. I want to hear about the other six. There are six other schools and we are in a very delicate balance here. Tell me of the other possibilities our noble school might face."

The man shifted on his feet and shuffled the papers in his hands. "Uagadou has several brilliant students and several of them are reported to be Animagi. Anyone of their students, should they volunteer, could very well become champion."

"What do you mean, should they volunteer?" 

"They are a naturally cautious school and a small one at that. There is much speculation that most of their students won't volunteer for the tournament. They are incredibly gifted students and well versed in wandless magic. They would be naturals for the tournament, however, they are hesitant. It was a surprise that they agreed to come at all. There is further speculation that they allowed students to come merely to see the environment of other schools rather than to participate in the tournament."

The other hummed. "And what of the rest?"

"Mahoutokoro has the smallest student body of all the schools and thus sent the smallest delegation. They refuse to do anything with Dark Magic or anything they consider remotely against their laws. I would not be surprised if one or two of the handful of students they sent volunteered for the tournament. Students who dabble in anything against the wizarding laws are immediately found out and expelled from the school and are therefore weeded out quickly. Those are likely the ones who would have been more likely to participate and thus their participation, in general, might be minimal."

"They have been absent from several joint classes, yes?"

"Yes, my Lord."

Voldemort hummed. "And the rest?" He prompted again.

"Castelobruxo will likely participate and they have several promising students. Due to the location of their school, they are not likely to be daunted by the challenges of the tournament."

Voldemort tapped his chin and the blond in front of him shifted, waiting patiently for his lord to let him continue. 

"What of the other three?"

"Beauxbatons will definitely participate as the previous tournaments have shamed their schools with constant losses to Hogwarts. Their students are incredibly bright including the younger sister of Fleur Delacour."

"The French undersecretary?" Voldemort questioned.

"Yes, my Lord." 

Voldemort hummed and waved his hand for the other to continue. 

"Durmstrang will certainly participate as well. Karkaroff will not disappoint you, my Lord. I know he has already started looking for the finest among his students and only allowing them to put their names forward." 

"And what of Ilvermorny?"

The other repressed a sigh. "The Americans are difficult. Several of the students clearly do not what to participate but it is widely known that it is expected by their peers that they should put their names forth. There a quite a few promising students among them."

"Name a few," Voldemort demanded. 

The man shuffled his papers around again, this time pulling the Ilvermorny papers to the top of his stack. "Nicholas DeBeque, Cordelia Fyneman. Hadrian Black."

"Black." Voldemort cut the other off. "Is he related to our dear Bella and Narcissa?"

"I do not know, my Lord." His head bent in remorse.

Voldemort only hummed in response. "That is all. You may go."

"Yes, my Lord." 

Voldemort waited until the door closed when he reflected on the boy from earlier in the day. Hadrian Black. The boy had gotten so angry at the other. He remembered himself feeling the same way when he was young. The boy's face hadn't changed but his eyes had. There was a wicked gleam in them as he stared down the Durmstrang boy. Voldemort himself had been called a number of names in his youth, both in the orphanage and at Hogwarts before learned his true parentage. Eventually, he let the names roll off him.

He would have to watch the boy more closely and see if there was more to him than just a pretty face and the Black name. He did get the same look Bellatrix got when she saw something new to play with, maybe they were related.


Hadrian stretched before gripping the staff in hand. Nicholas was across from him and they were in the sun on the Black Lake of Hogwarts. The two of them had the brilliant idea of fighting on the lake, Hadrian knew probably wasn't all that smart, but it sounded incredibly fun. They had managed to find a few planks and make them hover on the surface of the water. Nicholas and he both had their shirts off and old wore their pants. Neither wore shoes, knowing that at least one of them would end up in the lake below them. At one point, Nicholas swore he saw a giant squid which only made Hadrian want to do this fight more. People had started to gather on the bank of the lake as Hadrian and Nicholas began setting everything up and the crowd grew larger as they drifted outward. The sun gleamed off the water and reflected into their eyes. It would make fighting more of a challenge but Hadrian knew it was worth it. 

"Why do you want to do this again?" Nicholas asked. 

"Because," Hadrian explained for the third time, "At least one of us is likely to get in the tournament. We need to be in the best shape for it."

Nicholas snorted. "I think you really just wanted to swim in the lake and this was the best excuse you could come up with for it." 

"Maybe that too." Hadrian looked around them at the dark water. "Who knows what all is in this lake. Wouldn't it be interesting to explore?"

"You can explore it, I would like to stay dry."

"Some warrior you are." Hadrian teased.

"If you wanted the adventurer you should have gotten Cordelia up here." 

"Oh, I see," Hadrian taunted, "You're afraid of some water." He used his staff to splash Nicholas. 

"Hey!" Nicholas exclaimed. The crowd at the lakeshore had grown, even attracting some professors as well as students from the other schools. Hadrian could see Headmistress Nyah as the planks slowly turned.

"Come on then." A sly smile crossed Hadrian's face. 

"Fuck you," Nicholas muttered. 

"If that's what you wanted you should have gotten Cordelia up here," Hadrian answered before bowing lowly to Nicholas. 

Nicholas's face stuttered for a second before he returned the bow and then the two snapped into their stances. Hadrian twirled the staff around one of his wrists, goading Nicholas into an attack. Nicholas took it and Hadrian quickly deposited his friend into the water.

"I thought this was supposed to be a fight," Hadrian asked as his friend's head bobbed to the surface. 

"I hate you," Nicholas answered, wiping his face off. Hadrian offered a hand to the other but Nicholas used it to pull Hadrian into the water with him. The two wrestled under the water's surface until the need for air drove them upward and they were laughing. Their laughter was coupled with laughter from the shore and Hadrian waved to the crowd that had gathered. He could see Headmistress Nyah shaking her head but there was a smile on her face. Hadrian blew the crowd a kiss as he gripped the nearby planks for support. 

"Ham," Nicholas commented. 

"If I were hamming it up I would have kissed you," Hadrian answered before he started to swim back to the shore, staff in hand. 

Chapter Text

Hadrian reached the shore and a hand extended out to him to help pull him up. He followed the hand to its owner, seeing it to be the Defense professor. Ice ran through his veins making him colder than the lake he was currently in. He couldn't refuse the professor without making it obvious something was wrong. So, he took his hand. The professor hauled him up with surprising strength and suddenly they were face to face. The man summoned a towel and handed it to Hadrian. There was something in those royal blue eyes as they focused on Hadrian. Hadrian took the towel gratefully, neither saying a word. Nicholas had come ashore at this point, huffing and puffing dramatically. The crowd had begun to swarm them but Hadrian's attention was completely consumed by the man in front of him. 

"That was impressive, Mr. Black," The professor said. 

"Thank you, Professor," Hadrian answered, wiping the water off his chest and neck. Professor Gaunt's eyes followed the movement for a moment before returning to Hadrian's face. 

"Considering entering the tournament?" Gaunt asked. "You seem to be highly skilled. The tournament would be the perfect place to put them to the test."

"I have thought about it, Professor." It was not a lie. For a moment, no matter how brief, Hadrian thought of entering his name. When he and Severus discussed the tournament among other things the night prior, he reminded Hadrian that all he needed to do was not put his name into the Goblet of Fire and he would not be nominated for the tournament. However, everyone was expecting him to nominate himself and if he wasn't the Ilvermorny's champion, someone else would be. Not nominating himself would mean that someone else would put their life at risk. For a brief moment, Hadrian felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that someone would put their life at risk because Hadrian didn't want to face Voldemort. Remus and Sirius had taken him out of the country to eliminate any possibility of fighting Voldemort. Hadrian's own need for revenge had been fostered in secret, but he wanted to face Voldemort on his own time. He didn't expect to suddenly be face to face with the man now. Severus had confirmed Hadrian's suspicion that Tom Gaunt was Lord Voldemort. 

The professor hummed in response, pulling Hadrian out of his thoughts and back to the situation at hand. Hadrian wrapped the towel around his neck and chest, well aware of the many stares he and the professor were getting during their conversation. 

"Thank you for the towel, Professor." 

Nyah had joined them at this point, placing herself directly at Hadrian's shoulder. 

"Headmistress," Hadrian greeting, bowing his head slightly. 

"Hello, Hadrian." She greeted in return. "I would like to speak with you and Mr. DeBeque." She turned to Gaunt. "Pardon the interruption. But I will be needing my students."

"Of course," Gaunt smiled at her. "And what fine students you have." 

He turned on his heal and left, the Hogwarts students parting to make way for him, pushing the other school's students away with them. Hadrian and Nicholas followed Headmistress Nyah back toward the Ilvermorny carriage. They didn't stop there, however. The three walked passed it and toward the forest further passed where any of the carriages and transports were. They stopped just at the edge. Nyah looked at the forest, her eyes scanning over it. The forest looked dark and oppressive as they stood at the edge of it. 

"Listen," She told them, either one stepping up to her sides, "What do you hear?"

Hadrian took a deep breath, calming himself before blowing it out. Then he listened to the forest in front of him. It seemed to ebb with magic, thrumming from the inside out. Wind whistled through the treetops and a slight breeze ran along the forest floor, making bristles and leaves crinkle and crunch. In the distance, wolves howled and stomping could be heard, cracking and crashing over fallen branches. Whoops and hollers could be heard, just faintly, confirming centaurs in the forest. Hadrian couldn't tell much else beyond that the forest was brimming with life, both Light and Dark, begging for some to come closer and be swallowed by its mysteries.

"Life," Hadrian answered finally. "Creatures, both Light and Dark. The whistle of the wind through the trees."

Nyah hummed. "This is the Forbidden Forest. It is entirely likely one of the challenges will be in there or mimic something like it." She turned around, facing where they had just come from. The crowd had dispersed, each going back to their respective schools and activities. Only the Ilvermorny students remained, Cordelia and Alexander among them, patiently waiting for Nicholas, Hadrian, and their Headmistress to return. 

"What do you know of the other schools?" Nyah asked. 

"Castelobruxo lives near a forest much like this," Hadrian answered immediately. "They live in the Brazilian rainforest and are constantly surrounded by various kinds of mischievous creatures and spirits. It's said that when a previous Headmaster of Hogwarts, Dippet I believe, once complained of a poltergeist in Hogwarts to the Headmaster of Castelobruxo, she offered to send some of the spirits that guard the school to Forbidden Forest so Hogwarts can experience what trouble really is."

"What else?" Nyah asked. 

"The school specializes in Magizoology and Herbology. A task such as one in the forest would be a perfect test that favors the school's strengths." Hadrian turned to look at his headmistress. "You think there will be seven tasks." 

"Seven?" Nicholas exclaimed. He had been uncharacteristically quiet, listening to the exchange between Hadrian and Nyah. "How would that work? There are normally only three."

"There are normally only three schools participating," Nyah said, her voice incredibly lacking emotion. "Yet now there are seven. Seven schools, seven tasks."

"Each task designed to test the strengths of each school." Hadrian could feel the eyes of the other two on him. "It wouldn't mean that it would necessarily favor that school." Hadrian's mind was reeling. 

"I know you don't want to participate, Hadrian," Nyah said, her voice soft. Nicholas didn't react as if the news shocked him. Many people did not want to participate and the fact that Hadrian was among them apparently did not surprise his best friend. "But I am afraid you might be the best person for it." 

Nicholas let out a long sigh. "She's right, Hadrian. You've studied every school, you know what everyone is good at. You will have the best advantage to what the task will be compared to the others. It will give you the best chance to survive."

"You could also argue that is why I am the best for sitting on the side. I could help whoever is champion by studying the other schools more. I can help them without the stress of the competition. It would divide the work."

"The champion has to be able to think quickly on their feet, which everyone knows you can do best. You're at the top of your classes, the best dueler and fighter." Nicholas protested. "Hadrian, you are the school's best chance," Nicholas let out a sigh. "Not just to win, but for the champion to live." 

"You have a week to think about it," Nyah said, resting her hand on Hadrian's bare arm. Her hand was surprisingly warm, or maybe Hadrian was colder than he realized. "The names are drawn a week from today." 

Hadrian nodded. "I will think about it, I promise."

Nyah nodded. Hadrian would think about it. He would take into account every aspect of the competition. He would weigh every detail. He needed to see if Severus had a Floo that was unmonitored that he could use to firecall Sirius and Remus. He would need their opinions on this too. Nyah started back toward the carriages but Hadrian stayed perfectly still. Nicholas stayed with him, watching his friend. 

"You can't enter this competition," Hadrian said after a long moment. Nicholas didn't answer but he did blink at Hadrian. Hadrian finally looked at him. "Nicholas," He said softly, "You can't. Promise me you won't enter this competition. You and I both know why." 

Nicholas looked back toward Nyah who was completely out of earshot at this point. "No one knows about my metamorphmagus abilities. Just you and Cordelia."

"And it has to stay that way," Hadrian answered firmly. "This competition will pull a person in every direction. If you enter, it will wear you down to the bone. You won't be able to hide. Hear in Britain metamorphmaguses are accepted, even coveted. But back home," Hadrian ran a hand through his hair. "Until you are able to enter MACUSA where you can use your ability safely, you cannot reveal it. Do you understand me?" Nicholas swallowed thickly. "Promise me, Nicholas."

"I promise, Hadrian." 

"Come on," Hadrian gestured back toward the carriages. "Cordelia is getting anxious. I can already tell."

Nicholas nodded but said nothing. 

The rest of the day passed slowly until Hadrian was able to finally find his way to Severus's door. Severus seemed to be expecting him because one knock on the door and it swung open quickly. 

"What were you thinking with that spectacle in the lake?" Severus demanded. 

"I was thinking that I have a lot of pent up energy in that carriage and I needed to let some out. I didn't expect Gaunt to end up there as well." 

"All you've done is make yourself a target. He'll be sniffing around you more. You've piqued his interest. He's like a niffler. Once he has his eye on something he covets it. He will covet you. Young, powerful, smart, strong. You are everything he desires in a follower and you have put it all on display for him to want more." Severus's voice was low but it radiated anger.

"Then you're really not going to like what I have to say next."

"No," Severus stated as if he had the final said in Hadrian's actions. Hadrian had just finished explaining the conversation with Nyah earlier and his current debate when Severus cut him off. "No. Absolutely not. You are not throwing yourself into this competition."

"And what if someone else is chosen and I didn't put my name in, knowing I could have possibly stopped it. What if they die? Their blood is on my hands." 

"That is a risk you have to take," Severus's black eyes were gleaming. 

"What if I could have stopped it?" 

"And what if you are chosen?" Severus demanded. "You become the champion and your whole life is put under inspection. Questions will be asked, ones you can't answer. He will figure it out, he's not a stupid man. And when he does every one of your friends is at risk. Everyone you care about is at risk. Because you had a sudden urge to play hero." Severus pinned him under his gaze. "Your friends will be slaughtered and they won't even know why. They won't be dying for Harry Potter, they'll be dying for Hadrian Black. And it won't just be them. Sirius, Remus, me. Instead of having one person's blood on your hands you will have everyone you care about's blood on your hands. Can you handle that?" 

Hadrian stuttered slightly. 

"This is what happens when you care about. You knew you were embarking on a revenge mission, even if you didn't want to let Remus and Sirius know, you knew. You knew and you choose to care about people. Everyone you choose to care about is another life you put at risk." Severus huffed. "They won't know why they will be dragged from their bed, they won't know why they will be tortured. They only know that Hadrian Black made an enemy of Lord Voldemort. Their loyalty to you will get them killed."

"Like your loyalty to Voldemort killed my mother?" Hadrian spat back.

"Exactly." 

"The champion could die. I know how to react quickly. I'm fast and smart. The competition could break a lesser student."

"Think about it," Severus demanded, "If a student died there would be international outrage. It doesn't matter from which school. The Dark Lord may be strong but he cannot handle the full might that would be brought upon him. He would have both continents of South America and Africa, several countries, the entire might of the United States. He would crumble. Letting a student die is not a smart move." 

"Everyone is expecting me to enter." Hadrian started again.

"Then they will be disappointed." Severus's voice held a finality to it. "You wanted my advice, there it is." Severus crossed his arm. 

"Thank you, Severus." Was all Hadrian could say before he walked passed the man, leaving the room completely. 

He walked through the halls of Hogwarts, heading back toward the carriage, the conversation with Severus running circles in his mind. Severus, for his blatancy, had told Hadrian the risks of entering and it was something Hadrian needed to consider. He was so wrapped in thought, he didn't notice the figure step out of the shadows to block his path. The figure blocked him suddenly and Hadrian halted, panic rushing through his veins but his face was still as stone. He knew the curfew had not taken hold yet, but he didn't want to risk being caught too close to it. 

"Hello, Mr. Black." Hadrian recognized the voice immediately.

"Hello, Professor Gaunt."

"Might I ask what you are doing wandering around Hogwarts so late in the evening." He could barely see the professor in the darkness with the torchlight illuminating only half of the man's face.

"I had read and heard a number of things about Hogwarts over the years such as rumors of mysterious passageways. I was curious and wanted to explore it." Hadrian lied smoothly. The professor studied him. He could feel the weight of the other's gaze on him. 

"Have you thought any more about whether or not you have decided to enter the competition?" Gaunt asked casually.

"Forgive me, Professor, but why does my possible entry in the competition interest you so much?" It was the second time today that Gaunt had asked him about it and it made Hadrian wonder if there was more than curiosity. Perhaps, Voldemort was looking to recruit him. Hadrian studied the man in front of him. If he didn't know any better, he would never guess that the man who stood before him was the ruler of magical Britain. The man was handsome; tall with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes that nearly looked black in the darkness. His deep brown hair was held perfectly in place atop his head and his clothing was completely neat, not so much as a hair on it. The man was powerful, anyone could tell, but he hid his true power well enough that even Hadrian had briefly thought he had been mistaken when he thought the man was Voldemort. However, when the man's attention focused on him a little too much, like now, his scar began to ache just ever so lightly. 

"You would be a great champion for your school, I believe. I have seen a number of your peers in my class and throughout the school, as well as the students from the other schools. I think it would give the other schools a bit more of a challenge if you were to enter."

"Shouldn't you want Hogwarts to win though Professor?" 

"I want the most interesting person to win," Gaunt said, stepping slightly closer to Hadrian. "I look forward to seeing you in class tomorrow, Hadrian."

With that, Gaunt walked away, disappearing around the corner, leaving Hadrian's heart fluttering slightly for no apparent reason. 

Chapter Text

Cordelia wandered through the carriage toward her room. The others had vanished at some point or another throughout the night and Hadrian hadn't been seen in hours. Nevertheless, she was tired and couldn't wait up for him any longer. Hadrian would find his own way back, he always did. Cordelia reached for the handle to her door when she felt the crackle of magic around her door. Her wand slid out of its holster and she turned the handle, sliding into the room deftly. Behind her, the door slammed and she let out a curse as she felt privacy wards snap into place behind her. At the same time, her hand, wand still grasped firmly in it, jolted upward and was pinned to the door behind her causing the curse to bounce harmlessly off the ceiling. Hadrian slipped out of the shadows, agile as ever, a slight smile gracing his lips. 

"Easy." He whispered. "I'm not here to hurt you." 

Cordelia's heart pounded in her ears but her panic abated at his friendly face. His blazing emerald eyes and wild barely tamed raven hair calmed her. She let out a heavy sigh before gesturing to her hand, still stuck to the door.

"Are you going to let me go or just leave me here all night?"

"That depends," Hadrian answered, lowering himself onto her bed across the room and throwing his legs out in front of him. He looked strangely at ease compared to the tone of voice he was using. 

"On?" Cordelia prompted with a huff. She wasn't too pleased with the idea of being stuck to this door for a while, especially with her wand hand currently being the one trapped. 

"On your answer to my next few questions." Hadrian picked up the feather boa currently across the chair at the foot of Cordelia's bed. The boa was a combination of cranberry and blue twisting around each other like snakes. Hadrian raised an eyebrow at Cordelia before placing the boa back on the chair. Cordelia eyed her friend, knowing Hadrian would ask the questions in his own time. The seconds ticked by into minutes and those minutes stretched into what felt like an eternity. Cordelia twitched against the door, wondering if Hadrian would ever ask or if she would have to start answering questions without knowing what they were. Finally, Hadrian's eyes slid to hers after he had seemingly evaluated everything in the room. 

"Have you entered your name?" 

The question caused Cordelia to twitch. "No." 

"Are you going to?" Hadrian's eyes were fixed on her with a blazing intensity. 

"I've thought about it."

"Are you going to?" He repeated, his voice completely devoid of emotion.

"I don't know." Her voice was barely a whisper. The charm holding her released and her arm dropped to her side. She looked down at her arm, rubbing the soreness in her shoulder for a moment, before looking back to Hadrian. He hadn't moved an inch since he'd sat on her bed but his lips had pressed into a thin line. Cordelia knew exactly why he was so worried. She took a step closer and Hadrian's eyes seemed to focus on her, as though he hadn't really been looking at her a moment before. 

"Hadrian," She began but he cut her off.

"You can't enter." His voice was firm and held a finality he rarely ever had. Hadrian tended to refrain from telling other people what to do, with few exceptions. He even hated when professors had him demonstrate in class. He tried not to let it show, but Cordelia had been around him long enough to know that. So, the firm demand caught her off guard. 

"Hadrian, please. Just let me-"

"No." He cut her off again. "Please, Cordelia. Just trust me. I don't care if I have to get on my knees and beg. You cannot enter." 

Hadrian stood in that moment, coming closer to her then. He grasped her hands in his and for once she felt so small. Hadrian had never been an incredibly tall boy, but what he lacked in height he made up for in wit, speed, and cunning. But Hadrian knew everyone's secrets and at this moment, she knew it was hers he was fighting so vehemently to hide. 

"Cordelia," He began, his voice dropping to barely above a whisper, "If you enter and if you are chosen, you will die. Not because of the tournament," He waved off any meek protest she could possibly come up with, "But because of who you are."

Cordelia opened her mouth to try to come up with something, anything, to fight his pleas, to argue for her entering the tournament. But then she looked into his eyes. His emerald eyes, which had always been so strong and vibrant, held just a slight tinge of a broken heart and a desperate plea. She knew at that moment that she couldn't fight him anymore, especially if it meant so much to him that she didn't enter. 

"All right. I won't." 

Hadrian pulled her forward, wrapping on arm around her waist and the other cradling her neck and gripping her in a tight hug. She buried her face into his shoulder and let out a sigh, letting the dream of the tournament leave with the breath she exhaled. They stood there for a long moment before Hadrian pulled away again, the sense of urgency once again having returned to his eyes. 

"Where is it?" 

Cordelia bit her lip for a moment, wondering if she should tell him the truth. Almost as if he could see the thoughts churning in her mind, his brow furrowed. 

"Cordelia," His voice was softer, "I know you. I know you would never have left it." 

She let out a sigh. Why did she ever become friends with someone like Hadrian? She walked over to the wardrobe on the other side of the room. Hadrian followed, a step behind her. She was no stranger to having Hadrian in her room and honestly, it didn't really bother her when she opened the wardrobe to let Hadrian see the wide array of clothing inside. 

"My god, did you bring everything you own?" Hadrian asked, grabbing at the nearest flowing skirt he could grasp.

"No," Cordelia huffed, sticking her chin out. "This is my tournament wardrobe." 

"You have a wardrobe specifically for the tournament?" Hadrian asked, looking over the various outfits that threatened to explode from the wardrobe in front of them. 

"You don't?" She asked, kneeling down to the bottom of the wardrobe. Hadrian kneeled next to her.

"You have enough shoes to make every octopus in the world happy." Hadrian lifted a pair of cranberry heals with Thunderbirds spanning across the heals. 

"Any shoes but those." She grabbed the left shoe out of Hadrian's hand and pulled the base of the heal off, revealing a spike hidden inside. Hadrian nodded appreciatively.

"I always wondered where girls hid their knives." She knew he was joking as she herself had pulled more than a few knives on Hadrian during training sessions. However, she wondered if Hadrian was briefly considering heals for his next stunt now and the idea made her smile. 

She turned to the side of the wardrobe and tapped it three times with her wand. A small rectangle started to glow before the panel vanished revealing an empty space. She blinked in surprise, reaching into the space for what should have been occupying it. Next to her, Hadrian tensed feeling her anxiety spike. 

"It's gone. The wand. The wand's gone, Hadrian!"


"Point me." 

Hadrian followed the direction his wand pointed him until it lead him to Nicholas's room. He wasn't surprised his friend was currently in his room, in fact, he was glad that's where he was. It saved Hadrian trouble in tracking the other down. Hadrian knocked on the door, once then twice then a third time when the first two failed to gain an answer. He was nearing the point of entering the room forcefully when the door opened to a disheveled Nicholas. His hair was chaotic, strewn in various directions and he was only wearing a pair of blue pants. His eyes focused on Hadrian with a bored look, but his body blocked the room behind him. 

"Sorry to disturb you and your bedmate who you're not so cleverly hiding back there, but it's urgent." 

Nicholas huffed and looked over his shoulder to the other person in the room who Hadrian couldn't see. There was a groan, distinctly male, which echoed from the room. 

"No need for them to leave. But I do need you." Hadrian looked pointedly at Nicholas.

"I'm currently in the middle of something." Nicholas dragged his tongue across his lower lip dramatically. "Unless you'd like to come in and help." He cocked a smile. "You know, speed things along." 

Hadrian pursed his lips before rolling his eyes. "Just hurry up. And meet me in Cordelia's room. And tell Carlos he can stay in there if he likes. Shouldn't take you too long." 

With that, Hadrian turned on his heal heading back toward Cordelia's room but not before hearing, "How did he-" Cut off by the sound of the door shutting dramatically.

Hadrian chuckled to himself and went back to Cordelia's room. Cordelia paced back and forth across the room. Hadrian knew she would wear a path into the floor if he didn't snap her out of it. 

"Are you sure Nicholas and I are the only ones who know?" He asked. Cordelia's eyes shot to his before she gave him a solemn nod.

"I only told Nicholas and you figured it out to the point where I had to tell you. But no one else knows. At least I don't think."

"There might be one other person," Hadrian said with a sigh, rubbing his eyes with his palms. So many secrets and most of them were not his to share. 

"Who?" Cordelia demanded. He could hear her stop moving and he knew without seeing her that her eyes were fixated on him. 

"I can't tell you," He could see the fight rearing in her eyes and her mouth opened, "But maybe they can." Cordelia's mouth clicked shut. "Nicholas is slightly held up but he will be along in a moment. You stay here. I'm going to go see if I can find our other outlier."

"Where else am I going to go?" Cordelia muttered bitterly as Hadrian left her room once again. Instead of heading toward the Wampus rooms, he instead headed back toward the Horned Serpent rooms but not toward his own. He stopped briefly outside his door, gathering his breath for a moment before walking down the hall slightly, passed the window he had stopped at a few days earlier, and to another door. He could see a light coming from the cracks around the edges suggesting its inhabitant was currently inside. He raised his hand and knocked, the door opening after the first rap on the hard wood. 

"Hello, Alexander. May I come in?"


The wand was nothing special, at least he didn't think so. It had just appeared on his desk, shimmering in gold light earlier that day between classes. Voldemort looked down at the wand, twirling it between his fingers. He had a perfectly good wand of his own. In fact, he rather enjoyed his Yew wand. There was a deep connection between the phoenix feather wand and himself which he had never felt with any other wand, including the one he was currently examining in front of him. The question was, what exactly was this wand in front of him? The wand had appeared after his mixed Defense class, after the students had filtered out of the room. He remembered perfectly. 

He remembered the strong, powerful Ilvermorny boy whom everyone seemed to think would be their champion. He remembered watching him leave. He remembered watching those familiar, calculating emerald eyes. There about the boy made him feel like he had seen him before, somewhere yet Voldemort could not place it. He remembered walking into his office after the lesson and sitting at his desk. He remembered Nagini slithering up his chair and his chest and wrapping around him before his desk was bathed in a halo of golden light and the wand was there. He even remembered Nagini's startled hiss at the wand's sudden appearance. Yet he did not know who this wand belonged to nor why it was suddenly here with him. 

Voldemort twirled the wand in his hand. "Curious." With a sigh, he resolved to take it to Olivander before standing to leave to the edge of Hogwarts grounds. Officially, he was not the headmaster of Hogwarts, therefore he did not have the privileges allowed to the headmasters and headmistresses of the school, among them being able to apparate from anywhere in the castle. There were times when apparition was allowed within Hogwarts, though he was attempting to blend in as a professor and the less suspicion he aroused the better. 

Voldemort strode down the stairs toward the grand entrance of the castle when he felt the rush of magic over his skin. Someone was out after curfew. With a sigh, he put on the mask of a professor and followed the magic toward its source, able to identify its owner the closer he came. 

Hadrian Black. 

The doors to the Great Hall moved ever so slightly but nothing appeared and as Voldemort waited, the magic washed over his skin again. Just what was Mr. Black doing?

He weighed his options. He could expose a student for being out after curfew or let it go and use it as leverage later on. He walked toward the edge of the balcony, wand all but forgotten in his grasp, as he watched where he thought Hadrian's footsteps should appear in the grass as his weight bent it with his step. But none appeared. It didn't appear at all as though Hadrian had walked at all. A lesser wizard might not have ever noticed the other there. It wasn't until Voldemort noticed the opening of the Ilvermorny carriage that he knew Hadrian had crossed the grass and was no longer in the castle. 

Voldemort entered the Great Hall and walked toward the Goblet. It looked relatively unharmed and there were no enchantments that he could detect. It was highly unlikely that anyone, even someone as powerful as Hadrian, could have done anything it without him being able to detect it. Voldemort resigned himself to staying at the castle that night, focusing instead on the young Ilvermorny student who intrigued him more than a wand. 

Chapter Text

Hadrian knelt in front of a massive, snakewood tree. The tree twisted and wound its way toward the sky, its branches twined together like snakes. He had heard about the tree in his first days on at the school when he was introduced to the story of Isolt Sayre, but he wanted to see the tree for himself. The wind whistled through the branches, making a hissing noise as it went through the leaves. Hadrian reached up and touched the emerald green leaves. The roots twisted their way through the ground and across the earth much like snakes slithering away from a central source. If he was quiet enough, it was almost as if the tree itself were hissing and whispering to him. Hadrian moved his hand from the leaves to the large trunk of the tree, feeling the thrum of magic under his fingers. He pulled his hand away as he heard a rustling in the leaves near him. From the leaves, a massive snake emerged. Hadrian moved out of the way, letting the snake pass in front of him. 

"Sorry," Hadrian muttered idly, knowing the snake couldn't hear or understand him. 

"Thanks." The snake answered with a prolonged 's' at the end of the word.  

"A-any time," Hadrian stuttered watching the snake slither away. The snake stopped suddenly and turned back toward him, raising its head to look at Hadrian further. 

"A speaker. There has not been a speaker here since-" The snake was cut off by the sudden rustle of leaves and heavy footsteps behind Hadrian. Hadrian looked to see where the footsteps were coming from to see a girl running toward the tree. When Harry turned back toward the snake, it was gone. 

Hadrian stood, brushing the leaves off his cranberry pants when the girl was suddenly right in front of him. Hadrian looked at her. She had brilliant blonde hair and vibrant blue eyes with gold specks all around them. For a moment, Hadrian couldn't help himself, he stared at her and she stared right back. Her vibrant blue dress swayed at her sides as she played with the ends of it. 

"Hi!" She greeted cheerily after a long moment. 

"Hi," Hadrian answered, much more reserved than her. 

"What are you doing out here?" She asked, looking around Hadrian at the ground around him as if another person would materialize from the foliage around them. 

"I was-" Hadrian gestured to the tree behind him. 

"You came to look at the tree!" She exclaimed, jumping forward and grasping his hand. "Me too." Hadrian was taken aback by her sudden excitement as she twirled him to face the tree again. 

"Isn't it beautiful?" Her voice was filled with awe as she looked at the tree in front of them. "It was grown from a wand; did you know that?"

"Yes," Hadrian answered. 

"Of course you did. They said so just earlier this week." The girl folded her hands behind her back and shifted up and down on the balls of her feet. For a long moment, they were silent but Hadrian thought she might want to say more. His suspicions were soon confirmed. "It's so quiet out here. Don't you think?"

"I like the quiet," Hadrian rubbed the back of his neck. 

"Oh." She tugged at the edge of her dress. "I can-"

"You don't have to go," Hadrian said quickly, not wanting to be rude. The girl grinned widely at him. 

"What house did you get into?" She asked him. 

"Horned Serpent." Hadrian rubbed the back of his neck for a second. "And you?"

"Thunderbird." The girl beamed at him. Hadrian smiled back, unable to stop himself. The two stood in silence for a moment longer as the wind continued to whistle around them. 

"I'm Cordelia."  She said eventually, clearly uncomfortable with the silence. 

"Hadrian." 

"Hadrian," She repeated before cocking her head at him in a nearly bird-like way. "You know what, Hadrian?" Hadrian shrugged. She moved next to him before looping her arm through his. "I think you and I are going to be the best of friends." 


 

They all knew the story, the story of Isolt Sayre.

Sayre had been one of the founders of Ilvermorny, if not the most crucial founder of the American wizarding school. Vibrant blue the students were forced to wear was from her desire to be in Ravenclaw at Hogwarts when she was a child. As a child, she had been tormented by her aunt, both her captor and the murderer of her parents, until she finally fled with her aunt's wand and the only remaining piece of her mother she had, a golden Gordian Knot. There was more to the story, of course, but the story eventually culminated in Gormlaith finding her wayward niece and enchanting her and her husband, James, into a deep slumber. Ultimately, Gormlaith's downfall came from her utilizing her ability on the stolen wand, forcing it into slumber as well. The wands of the other, nearby wizards, however, were awoken by the Parseltongue spoken by the witch and alerted their owners with a humming. The battle between the two young wizards and Gormlaith raged until James and Isolt were eventually woken by the sheer terror of their infant daughter. The fighting raged until a rather grumpy Pukwudgie saved the day. Gormlaith shattered due to her Dark magic and the venom on the Pukwudgie's arrow. They buried the wand that Gormlaith had silenced and it grew into a magnificent tree on the grounds of Ilvermorny.

Hadrian retold the story, or what his fellow classmates knew of the story to them as they were gathered in Cordelia's room. 

"But there's more," Hadrian said, pacing back and forth in front of the door.

Every now and then, he would let his magic out to probe the privacy wards he had placed around the room. He was certain no one could hear them or even get close to the room without the five occupants inside knowing, but he was ever worried. This was a time for secrets to be released, once they were out they could never be put away again. Cordelia sat with her legs crossed on her bed and next to her sat Nicholas who was sprawled in nearly every direction across the bed. On Nicholas's other side was Carlos who folded himself neatly as if he were in a classroom. In a chair next to the bed was Alexander and he appeared as if he were trying to shrink into the chair he sat on. The four of them were watching Hadrian patiently as he paced around the room, his arms folded behind his back but every now and then flailing to one side or another to emphasize a point. 

"Those wands stayed within the family. Two of Isolt and James's children went on to have children. Those lines both went on to sire magical children and much like others in their familial line, they could speak Parseltongue as well. The line continued and has still continued today." Hadrian glanced at Cordelia, who gave a terse nod for Hadrian to continue.

"Wait, you're saying there are actual Parselmouths from Isolt's side alive?" Carlos asked, moving forward on the bed. 

"I don't know, Carlos. Does Cordelia look alive to you?" Hadrian watched Carlos's eyes widen and his head turn rather comically toward Cordelia. However, the more Carlos looked, the more the look on his face changed. 

"No one else looks surprised. I'm the last to find this out aren't I?" 

"Yes," Hadrian answered simply. "Well, the last in this room anyway and the last person who is going to be told." Hadrian pinned Carlos with a stare. 

"I promise I won't say anything. I already told you that. But-" Carlos's voice trailed off. 

"But how do you know?" Nicholas demanded, turning to Alexander. "I know because Cordelia told me. And no doubt Hadrian knows because he's a secret magnet. So, how do you know?"

Instead of answering, Alexander turned to Hadrian, a plea in his eyes, one Hadrian could understand. 

"R-remember how you promised to keep an open mind?" Alexander started, his voice breaking. The other three nodded. Alexander swallowed thickly before turning back to Hadrian again and opening his mouth helplessly. 

"Alexander is a natural Legilimens," Hadrian said simply.

"A nat-" Nicholas cut himself off. "So, you've known this whole time. About her. About me." Nicholas's eyes started to fill with terror. 

"Wait, what about you?" Carlos asked, "There's still more I don't know?" Carlos looked like he would implode. 

"I'm a metamorphmagus." Nicholas practically whispered. To everyone's surprise, Carlos laughed, loudly. 

"And I thought you changing your hair pink when we're together was just you multitasking." He teased.

"You two are together?" Cordelia exclaimed suddenly after her long, self-imposed silence. Conversation filled the room and Hadrian rubbed at his temples. The noise seemed to get increasingly louder until he felt like it was his turn to explode.

"Enough!" Silence fell across the room. "While this spiritual cleansing of who's having sex with who and who has what ability is all very good for the soul it doesn't change the fact that Slytherin's wand is gone." Tense silence filled the space between the four of them. "Don't you get it? Cordelia's life is in danger the longer that wand is out of our hands." Hadrian looked at Alexander, then Carlos, then Nicholas, and then finally Cordelia. He willed them to see the dangers that were present, the ones he was stating and the ones he couldn't. 

If Voldemort looks into Cordelia his search will lead to me and if he finds who I am, they are all in danger. 

Hadrian turned away from them and scrubbed his hands over his face. He shouldn't have come. His presence here was putting them all in danger more so than this tournament ever could. They could be tortured just for knowing him and there would be nothing the other countries could do. Harry Potter, though presumed dead, was born in Godric's Hollow and would be under the control of whoever was in control of the British Ministry of Magic. There would be nothing MACUSA could do to save him and his friends would be equally punished for aiding a fugitive. Sirius and Remus would be discovered and Severus especially would be ruined and punished. Hadrian's very presence was a delicate balance on a tightrope, one wrong step and he was falling and no one could catch him.

"How is Slytherin's wand even here? And how does it put Cordelia's life in danger?" Carlos asked.

"Someone dug it up. It appeared on my mother's bedside when she was at Ilvermorny." Cordelia told him. "As for the other question-" She trailed off and Hadrian knew her eyes were resting on his back. 

"Gormlaith's last name. Do you know it?" Hadrian asked. He turned back around, finally at the others in the room. They shook their heads, even Cordelia. 

"I'm not surprised, it's been forgotten over time. It took even me some digging to find it, buried in a long-forgotten book in the dark recesses of the library." Hadrian waved his hand as if that would emphasize his point more. "Slytherin's wand will go to his heirs. And we just brought it across the ocean from one heir to another." Hadrian muttered bitterly. 

"What do you mean?" Cordelia asked, getting up off her bed. "Hadrian, do you know where the wand is?" 

Hadrian looked at her through his eyelashes. "Gormlaith's last name was Gaunt." 

Chapter Text

Hadrian tied the loincloth around his waist, making certain there was no chance it would fall off. It was enchanted, he knew this, however, he was wearing nothing under it and if it fell he would be completely exposed. Testing the limits of the dress code was one thing, indecent exposure was another. He looked carefully at his reflection in the mirror before he waved his wand over the body paint sitting on his desk. As he watched, the outline of a blue and cranberry horned serpent appeared on his chest, wrapping down one of his legs. The image shaped itself perfectly, covering most of his body with the massive snake. A little magic added the final touch as the serpent began to move, shifting over his skin. He had to admit that it tickled slightly. Finally, he added some blue and cranberry to the tips of his wild, raven hair. 

After, he cast a disillusionment charm on himself, concealing himself as he walked through the halls of Ilvermorny. Student after student, professor after professor glanced over him as he walked. He couldn't help the sigh of relief that fell from his lips as he slipped in behind another student into the charm's classroom. He stood in the back of the room, careful to avoid colliding with another student as they filled in. Eventually, every seat was filled except for his own. The professor glanced over the room, eyes sliding right past Hadrian.

"Where is Mr. Black? Has anyone seen him?"

"Why I'm right here, professor," Hadrian said, pulling the disillusionment charm off himself as he did.  Gasps echoed around the room as Hadrian strode forward, the serpent twisting and twirling over his body. "Something wrong?" He asked, draping himself over a very red-faced Cordelia's desk. 

The professor spluttered for a moment, eyes darting everywhere in an attempt to avoid looking directly at Hadrian. "Mr. Black! You are out of dress code!"

"Out of dress code?" Hadrian asked innocently. "But I am wearing cranberry and blue." He rolled off Cordelia's desk and onto her lap, careful not to land too harshly as he did. "Am I not, my friend?" 

Cordelia, however, was having none of Hadrian's antics and quickly pushed him off her, muttering soft curses in Parseltongue only Hadrian could hear as she did. Rather than let himself be dissuaded, he moved to her desk partner, placing a knee on the desk in front of the other girl. 

"Tell me, am I not wearing school colors?" The serpent at that moment decided to twist its massive body down Hadrian's, its head resting on Hadrian's leg, staring directly at the current focus of Hadrian's attention.

"Y-yes." She stuttered, staring at the snake.

"Mr. Black!" The professor yelled, calling attention back to himself. Hadrian dropped off the desk and moved toward the professor, attempting an air of innocence. 

"Yes, sir?"

"Detention. And both Headmistress Nyah and your parents will know if this little stunt."

Hadrian sighed. Remus would be furious. 

Later, he found himself in Nyah's office, the headmistress eyeing him coolly. 

"Mr. Black," She started after the long silence began to make Hadrian itch. "I'm not sure whether to be insulted or impressed."

"I would prefer impressed," Hadrian answered, his lips twitching.

"Indeed." She cocked her head at him. "Have a cookie, Mr. Black."

"I'm sorry?"

The headmistress pushed a container of blue-colored cookies toward him. "Have a cookie." She repeated.

He took one, taking a bite under her watchful eye. Cranberry. He couldn't help it, Hadrian laughed.


It was like a lightbulb switched on above Nicholas' head, and Hadrian could see the moment it happened. 

"That's why you kept her from dueling that day."

"Yes."

"She and Gaunt are related." Nicholas paused, his eyes searching Hadrian's face. "You don't trust him."

Hadrian laughed. It was a cynical, cold laugh. "That would be an understatement."

"That's why you don't want me to enter the tournament? Because of Gaunt?" Cordelia asked, her hand gripping his arm firmly. Hadrian didn't answer, waiting for her to put more pieces together. He wanted so desperately to share his secret. He had lived so long isolated within himself but at the same time, he knew his isolation spared them. "Who is he, Hadrian?"

"I can't answer that," Hadrian said softly, lowering his head.

"Goddamnit, Hadrian!" She hissed, the Parseltongue echoing around the room. "You have all our secrets and you can't even bother sharing one of your own."

Cordelia turned away from him, thinking he hadn't understood a word she said. The others in the room had near comical expressions ranging from horror to curiosity. Alexander was the most interesting as Hadrian wondered how he would react if Cordelia started thinking in Parseltongue.

"You want a secret?" Hadrian asked, cocking his head at his friend. Cordelia turned back to him, ready to huff out a frustrated answer when she paused, her lapis lazuli eyes widening. 

"You son of a bitch," Cordelia began before she was screaming at him. "You could speak Parseltongue this whole time and you never told me? You let me think I was alone? That I was the freak? You-you!" She threw something at him that Hadrian thought was a knife as he ducked it. "Why?" She demanded.

"Because my secrets could kill you." He walked closer to her, gently placing a hand on her arm. "I never wanted to lie to you. I never wanted to keep things from you. But mostly, I never meant to find people I care about." He moved his hand from her arm to under her chin. "And I do care." His eyes drifted to the others in the room. "I care about all of you and I am so sorry." He dropped his head. "I've put you all in terrible danger because of it. But I can't tell you anything more."

"You're not a fugitive are you?" Nicholas asked, attempting to lighten the mood.

"Yes," Hadrian answered, watching Nicholas' jaw drop. "But technically I am dead."


Hadrian was alone when Voldemort, or rather Thomas Gaunt, found him. He knew he looked like a professor out on an evening stroll, but the younger man twitched as he came near. Silence fell over the two of them as Hadrian looked out over the Black Lake in front of them and he looked over Hadrian. He was remarkably tense for someone so young, and not for the first time did Voldemort wonder how he had come to be. Hadrian was sitting on the grass with the lake water lapping at his bare feet when the professor neared. Eventually, Voldemort lowered himself next to the Ilvermorny student, careful to avoid the water that threatened to ruin his shoes.

"I don't suppose you would like to tell me why you're out after curfew?" He asked as they both looked out at the water, rippling in the slight breeze.

"Is it true there's a squid in that lake?" Hadrian asked, his voice quiet as he avoided the question with one of his own.

"Yes," Voldemort answered, though the oddity of the question made him wonder. Hadrian didn't answer though, instead, he folded himself up, looking even smaller than he already did. "There are a few strange things around this castle."

"A poltergeist?" Hadrian asked, sounding amused.

"Yes. And the forest has unicorns." 

Hadrian finally turned to face him at that. "Unicorns?"

Voldemort hummed.

"This place is interesting," Hadrian said quietly.

Voldemort turned to him as he watched a bracelet around the boy's wrist move. The snake-like shape twisted, shifting from a bracelet into a ring as it wrapped itself around his middle finger. Hadrian lifted his hand, his thumb running over the serpent's body.

"My friend gave this to me for my birthday one year. It likes to change shapes. Sometimes it's a bracelet, a ring, a Gordian Knot shaped snake tie clip."

"Tell me about your school, Hadrian."

He heard the young man sigh and wondered if he would refuse him but after a moment, he began to speak.

"The castle is built into the side of a mountain and surrounded by red spruce and balsam fir trees. In the spring, you can hear them sing as the wind whistles through it, shifting them from side to side. The grounds are expansive, with a massive snakewood tree that shimmers in the moonlight. I could see it sometimes if I looked out my window just right. Sometimes, the moonlight would make the entire mountain look like it was an ocean with massive green whales swaying in its waters. During the winter, everything is covered in a world of white that makes even the darkest nights bright. During the spring and fall, you can hear birds chirping everywhere you go. On one floor, there's a balcony that overlooks the rest of the castle and you can see the entire valley below. It feels like you're above everything else, like nothing can touch you." Voldemort could see the sad smile on the boy's lips as he spoke. After a moment, Hadrian cleared his throat. "Everything is made of wood and marble with the various house symbols carved into them. Thunderbird, Pukwudgie, Wampus, and Horned Serpent."

"I take it by the snake you are a Horned Serpent?" Voldemort asked though he knew the answer to his question already.

"Yes." Hadrian let the silence fall between them once more as the darkness around them seemed more pleasant than it had when he first arrived.

"I was a Slytherin when I went here," Voldemort gestured to the castle behind them.

"Another snake."

"Indeed."

I could take the boy right here. He would vanish into the night and no one would know until the morning. Voldemort thought as he eyed the younger. But instead, he readied himself to stand, thinking better and rather enjoying the possibility of watching the boy enter the tournament.

"You should return to your carriage. Best not be caught out after curfew."

"But I am caught," The other said, his blazing emerald eyes gazing at him in confusion.

Voldemort caught his chin between his thumb and index finger, fixing the other's gaze on him. He was idly amused by the lack of fear in the other's eyes as he leaned forward.

"Not quite yet." Voldemort stood swiftly and made his way back to the castle, leaving the younger snake staring after him in the darkness.

Chapter Text

"Tell me about Hogwarts. About what's happened in my home since I left."

Severus turned his eyes to the young man lounging lazily across one of the many desks in his private office. The dungeons were mostly unoccupied leaving room for Severus to take over several rooms to serve as his office and living space. Now, Harry Potter, fugitive and walking corpse, was laying on a desk in one of the few places Severus called his own, one leg kicking back and forth while he twirled his wand between his fingers, his head pillowed on his non-occupied arm. Severus had been focused on grading students' papers, an incredibly mundane but relatively safe task when his walking heart attack burst through the door. 

It was only in his appearance that Hadrian Black could ever be discovered to be Harry Potter. Physically, he looked incredibly like his father, except he was shorter and covered in more lean muscle than his father had ever achieved. His eyes were that of his mother, the same vibrant emerald that Severus had grown up admiring and now reminded him of his ultimate failure. Physically, Hadrian Black was the child of James Potter and Lily Evans, the man he hated and the woman he loved. Mentally, however, he was somehow different yet identical to both his parents. It was clear that Hadrian was smart almost terrifyingly so. He was also apparently unafraid to flaunt himself. Sirius had sent him a letter only a couple of years ago detailing how Hadrian had earned himself detention for wearing a loincloth and nothing else to class. Severus was equally impressed and horrified, and could see the smears on the paper where Sirius had no doubt broke into fits of laughter while writing.

Severus put his quill down and folded his hands.

"It was not long after you were taken from the country that the Dark Lord regained control. Not everyone was spared during that time, as you may suspect, but there was less death than you might have imagined." Severus withdrew a small, black notebook from his desk and held it out for the other to take. Hadrian practically rolled off the desk as he stood to grab it, sitting in the chair across from Severus and flipping through the pages. Severus knew what was in the book. News clippings, writings, information he had kept over the years to eventually give to the young man sitting before him now when he inevitably came asking questions.

"There were days at first when there was no sign of the Dark Lord, and people began to imagine that he was gone. Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius' cousin, thought better though. The Longbottoms were her target, resulting in the madness of Frank and Alice Longbottom and the death of their son, Neville. When the prophecy first came to light, there were two possibilities of children it could refer to. You were one of them and the other was Neville Longbottom who was born only a day before you. After her stunt, Bellatrix was imprisoned. It seemed that would be the end of the Dark Lord's reign. 

"Until Bellatrix and her accomplices were broken out of Azkaban. The Death Eaters rallied and quickly those who were associated with the Order of the Phoenix were hunted down. Most of the members of the Order are now dead or missing, presumed to be in hiding. The children of the Order members were taken away. The older ones were placed in housing and the younger ones were given places with loyal families. Since then, Muggleborn children have also been handed off to the loyal families or housed and taken care of by the 'rehabilitated' Order member's older children."

Severus watched for a reaction to cross Hadrian's face; horror, fear, disgust. But none came. Instead, he continued to flip through the pages of the book Severus had given him, reading it as if it were one of his schoolbooks and not a detailing of the last sixteen years.

"Why? What was his reasoning?" Hadrian asked after a long silence.

"He claimed enough magical blood had been spilled."

Hadrian snarled at that, finally revealing his true feelings. "He believes two infants are dead because of him along with countless adults and several others left orphaned and suddenly he cares about the magical blood spilled." He closed the book, dropping it with a dull thud on Severus' desk. "The children, where are they now?"

"Most of them are here at Hogwarts." Severus answered eyeing Hadrian's twitching. "A few have aged out of the curriculum already. No doubt you have heard of the Weasleys?" Hadrian nodded. "Their oldest children; Bill, Charlie, and Percy, were placed in the housing. Their twins, Fred and George, and their youngest Ronald were placed with families. You met Ronald Weasley."

"I have?"

"The redheaded boy you spoke with briefly on your first night."

Severus watched the understanding click behind Hadrian's eyes.

"What families were they placed with?"

"Fred and George were given to the Lestranges." Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, memories flooding through him. "It was a terrible choice. The Weasleys are normally Gryffindors by nature, brave to a fault and wild. No doubt those two would have caused a fair amount of trouble, not unlike your father and Sirius." Hadrian nodded his understanding before he continued. "However, under Bellatrix's tutelage, they were far worse, taking after Bellatrix in the worst ways. They were Slytherins, which shocked most. Some of their pranks could have turned deadly and after leaving Hogwarts, they have continued to work with Bellatrix in her work for the Dark Lord."

Severus paused, letting the younger absorb the information before continuing. "Ronald, however, was placed with the Malfoys. The Malfoys have one son, Draco, whom you share a potions lesson with, and two wards. Ronald and a Muggleborn named Hermione Granger."

"Malfoy," Hadrian said after a long moment, his voice devoid of any emotion. "As in Lucius Malfoy. The liaison between Voldemort and the Ministry of Magic."

"Yes."

Hadrian said nothing more on the subject, but Severus could see ideas forming behind his emerald eyes which seemed to be looking right through him.

"And where do the loyalties of the children of the Order lie?"

"I don't know," Severus answered. "From a young age, they are taught Occlumency, as the Dark Lord is a master Legilimens."

"As are you," Hadrian said, his eyes completely focusing on him now.

"I am. Though that is not information I readily share." He leaned forward on his desk.

"You don't hide as well as you think," Hadrian said, mirroring him.

Severus hummed, studying the boy in front of him. "And what of your ability to hide?"

"You're asking about the tournament." Hadrian huffed, standing up and moving away from him.

"Yes, I am. Last we spoke, you were thinking of entering. I doubt you have changed your mind since then."

"No," Hadrian answered standing with his back to Severus and pretending to be occupied with the ingredients on the shelf across the room.

"I think you have made up your mind about the tournament." Severus hedged, hoping the younger would finally break.

"I wish everyone would stop asking me about this damned tournament. You, Nyah, my friends, Gaunt. Voldemort. Whoever he is."

"I ask because the Dark Lord is watching your every move," Severus stood and moved closer to the other. "And you will incur his curiosity more if you enter."

Hadrian sighed loudly, his hand slapping down the on the table next to him before he rather dramatically turned to face Severus. "The only reason he's remotely interested in me is because of this." Hadrian swept his wild, raven hair aside to reveal the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. Severus had seen the wound, briefly, when Hadrian was Harry Potter, an infant escaping the carnage and horror of his near death. That was sixteen years ago, however. And yet the scar still showed on his forehead as if it were recently healed. "Magic, especially dark magic, leaves traces." 


Hadrian ran his fingertips over the spines of the various books that littered the shelves. He wasn't completely interested in the books he was walking by currently, however; the feel of the books gave him a sense of nostalgia. His mother and father had walked the halls he was currently treading. Sirius and his father played Quidditch here. Remus had read in this library. His hands touched where theirs once had. He found himself drifting where he knew his family had spent the better part of their teenage years, growing and learning. 

His hand dropped from the books to open the gate to the Restricted Section, stepping inside as it creaked and letting it shut behind him. There weren't many who found themselves in this section of the library, Hadrian noted. Most were in the main area, under the watchful eye of the librarian. She had tracked Hadrian's movements from the moment he entered, staring him down as a warning to not even so much as look at a book the wrong way or breathe too loudly. 

He walked through the shelves his eyes scanning from book to book until he finally found the one he wanted. 

Secrets of the Darkest Art.

Hadrian took the book off the shelf, carefully, before finding a corner in the library to settle himself into. For the longest time, Hadrian had a fear that ran around his mind. However, Ilvermorny, while there were classes that taught about dark magic, did not allow students any way to access information about the subject within the school grounds. He studied on his own time, learning as much as he could but he could never find the answer he was looking for. He had long since speculated that some part of Voldemort had been left behind that night in Godric's Hollow. Too often he dreamed of a man with snake-like pale skin and blood-red eyes. Upon seeing him the first day, his scar burned which had never happened to Hadrian in his life. He once asked Sirius and Remus about the origin of his scar, and while they told him the truth, most of what they could tell him was limited to speculation. However, the burning question Hadrian still had was what made Voldemort so volatile that a backfiring curse would leave part of himself stuck to whatever was left living in the room. And more importantly, what was left.

Hadrian assumed that his ability to speak to snakes came from his connection to Voldemort, as the Potter line was predominately Gryffindor. However, that did not answer the question of whether or not it was just Voldemort's magic that latched itself onto an infant Harry Potter, or something much worse.

He rarely ever thought of himself as Harry Potter. Harry Potter was dangerous, a fugitive with a megalomaniacal mass murderer hunting his parents and himself, even as an infant. Hadrian Black, however, was Ilvermorny's favorite son with a chaotic streak a mile wide. However, it was Harry Potter who lead him here, and Hadrian Black who would finish it.

Hadrian opened the book, scanning the table of contents before finally finding what he had been searching for. 

Horcruxes.

Hadrian had never once felt nauseated while reading about dark magic. He had felt nauseated the first time he was hit on the head a little too hard. He felt nauseated the first time he drank too much alcohol. He felt nauseated when he accidentally walked in on Remus and Sirius making out in the kitchen. But never before by dark magic. That was until he read about horcruxes.

It took all his willpower to not launch the book across the room or to turn and vomit. 

His feelings of nausea were soon pushed to the edge, though, when another appeared, leaning idly on against the shelf next to him.

"Some light reading?" Gaunt looked down at him, crossing his arms in front of his chest. "A word of advice, if you're going to study dark magic you should do it somewhere a little less public. You never know who could come stumbling upon you. And we wouldn't want someone to get the wrong impression of you now would we?"

Hadrian could feel his stomach clenching as he launched himself upward, thrusting the book into Gaunt's hands, and pushing past him at a near run, only to hear icy, cold laughter echo after him.

Chapter Text

Cordelia had to admit that she was still angry with Hadrian for playing his cards so close to his chest. Though some part of her understood. Parseltongue wasn't common in the wizarding world, no matter where you were. The ability originated with Salazar Slytherin's family, though he was the most famous of them. However, she had been alone with the ability for her whole life, unable to talk to even her parents about it. Yet Hadrian knew and he understood. Every time she muttered anything in parseltongue he understood from the very moment they met. She wondered if his fathers knew, if they were more accepting than her own family when her ability began to manifest. However, it brought up one more concern. Parseltongue was familial, staying within the families and while others had the ability, they died out long before Hadrian came along. So how did he have it?

The thoughts spiraled through her mind before they were suddenly ground to a halt. It was time to draw names for the tournament. True to her word, Cordelia had not entered her name, but she hadn't spoken with Hadrian in days and didn't know if he had. None of them had spoken since that night in her room, other than Nicholas and Carlos. Cordelia was certain there were tears the first time Nicholas kissed Carlos publicly, leaving many heartbroken in their wake. It was such an absentminded thing she wasn't sure if Nicholas even knew until he was confronted with a group of his heartbroken admirers. 

She knew Nicholas wouldn't enter his name, there was too much at risk for him as well. Carlos also likely abstained from entering his name as he wasn't a fighter in any capacity. Alexander hadn't wanted to come in the first place, making his entry highly unlikely. Which left herself and Hadrian and since she hadn't entered her name, it was only Hadrian. There had been no big spectacle to tell her that Hadrian had entered his name, so if he had it was completely on his own time. She vaguely remembered that Hadrian disappeared briefly on the night before their talk in her room. At the time no one knew where he was and he had been the last to return to her room. It made her wonder if he had entered his name then when no one was watching.

Now, they were in Hogwarts' Great Hall with all seven schools crammed together. Hadrian stood at the back of the room, far away from where his friends gathered at the Lion table. He was tense, his arms crossed in front of his chest and watching everything that occurred in the room. Mostly, his eyes kept sliding back to Gaunt who was sitting comfortably at the head of the room, chatting rather cordially with the potion's professor next to him. Hadrian had been strangely absent during the meal, only sliding in as they prepared for the names to be drawn. No matter how angry she was, she couldn't let her friend be alone. Cordelia stood, careful to avoid bumping into anyone in the tightly packed hall, moving toward her friend.

She leaned against the wall next to him feeling the weight of his emerald eyes on her. However, she continued looking forward.

"You said you hadn't meant to care for any of us," She whispered, watching as the Goblet of Fire moved to the center of the room, its blue flames flickering ominously in the distance.

"Yes," Hadrian answered, his eyes leaving her and facing forward again.

"You said your secrets could kill us."

"Yes," He answered again.

"You don't have to tell me," She said finally, as the hall began to quiet around them. "But there is one thing that I want to know." She knew Hadrian's silence was her cue. "Do your secrets have to do with Gaunt too?" 

Hadrian let out a breath, his body tensing more next to her. "Yes," He said quietly.

"Does he know that?" 

"No."

Cordelia nodded slightly watching as the Corbin Yaxley, the Minister of Magic, walked forward. Today his long blond hair was pulled neatly behind his head, making him look far more sinister than he already appeared. The man had a gravely, low voice which made her shiver as he spoke. 

"Welcome all." The man greeted, his cold eyes scanning the hall. "My Lord and I welcome you to the InMaCo Tournament. Eternal glory awaits those lucky seven who are drawn tonight, forever cementing themselves as champions of their respective schools. Represent yourselves and your home well children. Before we begin drawing names, I would like to announce the judges for the tournament." Several people stepped forward, Headmistress Nyah among them. "The Headmasters for our seven illustrious schools! High Master Igor Karkaroff of Durmstrang. Headmistress Madame Maxine. Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. Headmaster José Dourado of Castelobruxo. Master Sato of Mahoutokoro. Headmaster Tyrus of Uagadou. Headmistress Nyah of Ilvermorny." Each professor greeting the cheering crowd in some way most with humble nods or bows except for Karkaroff who threw his arms outward, receiving a loud yell from Durmstrang. "As well, Representative Lucius Malfoy." A man with long, bleach blond hair stepped forward. He looked more refined than the other standing next to him, his face carefully closed off as the clunk of his snake cane could be heard echoing on the ground.

Yaxley clapped his hands together. "And without further ado, I give you Headmistress Minerva McGonagall to draw the names of our champions!"

The clapping that followed was loud with the Gryffindors banging loudly on the table they sat at. It took one look for the Headmistress to silence the school and the others followed suit quickly. Cordelia could see the moment of hesitation the headmistress had before she approached the goblet. She touched the object carefully before backing away. Cordelia felt herself holding her breath as the sapphire flames changed into a crimson red as the first piece of paper was spat out of the fire. It floated downward into the headmistress's outstretched hand.

"The champion for Durmstrang is," She unfolded the paper, reading it before announcing. "Aleksi Draganov."

The Durmstrangs cheered loudly, banging on the surfaces near them making them sound loud and menacing. Cordelia recognized the champion immediately as he stood, first making his way to Igor Karkaroff, his headmaster, before moving toward McGonagall and giving her a slight bow. He was the one who had taunted Hadrian during their first Defense lesson at Hogwarts.

Wouldn't you do better handling a different wand?

Hadrian, the child of two men, hadn't taken too kindly to the insinuation and defeated the Durmstrang boy easily. Now, they were likely pitted against each other again.

"The champion for Beauxbatons is Gabrielle Delacour." The Beauxbatons cheered loudly as a small blonde girl approached the front.

"The French Undersecretary is her older sister," Hadrian muttered softly as he too watched the younger girl disappear behind the same door as the Durmstrang champion.

"They're playing a very fine line here," Cordelia answered as the door shut softly. The champions would have to be watched closely, especially with the younger sister of the French undersecretary now participating in the tournament.

"The champion for Uagadou is Gaea Abara."

"Spirit of the Earth," Hadrian whispered as his eyes followed the newest champion. Cordelia briefly recognized her as well, also from their first day in Defense.

Mahoutokoro was next, followed by Castelobruxo. The Mahoutorkoro champion was a small girl named Althea and the Castelobruxo champion was a tanned, lean muscled girl named Maria. Then it was Ilvermorny's turn. Cordelia's heart pounded in her chest as she watched the paper fly into the air and float down. Subconsciously, she reached out and gripped Hadrian's arm, knowing somewhere in her that the name on that paper was his.

"The champion for Ilvermorny is," A heartbeat, two. "Hadrian Black."

Simultaneously, she and Hadrian let out a breath before he reached and squeezed her hand. Then he was walking away, and Cordelia's empty hand drifted to her side. Hadrian too disappeared into the unknown as the final champion was set to be called.

"And finally, the champion for Hogwarts is," Crimson flames released the final paper and for a moment, Cordelia could see sadness light the headmistress' eyes. "Ronald Weasley."


Hadrian could see the anger in Severus' eyes as he passed the professor's table. He knew he would get an earful later after the chaos had settled. However, from Gaunt next to him, there was nothing but pure approval. Gaunt bowed his head, acknowledging Hadrian as he passed. He gave a small nod before walking through the door the other champions had entered before him. The door shut behind him and he let out a breath. For the first time, fear ran through his veins, icy and daunting. He shook himself internally before proceeding down the stairs into a small room.

The other champions were milling around, none of them speaking with the others. Eyes followed Hadrian as he walked closer to the fire, throwing the paper with his name in. 

"Shouldn't you keep that?" The Beauxbaton's champion asked, her high voice thick with her French accent.

"The Goblet of Fire constitutes a binding magical contract," Hadrian said as the paper burned, the name Hadrian Black crumbling to ash. "No paper can change that."

Behind him, he could hear cheering as the last champion was chosen and the door opened once more. Down the stairs came the redhead Hadrian had talked to on his first day in Hogwarts castle. Ronald Weasley. Hadrian wracked his brain, thinking of every bit of information had been told about the Weasley family.

They were pure-bloods, considered blood traitors as they never had the bias against Muggles and Muggleborns that ran deeply through the other British pure-bloods. The Weasleys were staples of the house of Gryffindor and a mostly Light line. Except for the grandmother of the boy joining the crowd now. Cedrella Weasley was born Cedrella Black. The Blacks were often affiliated with Dark magic, making the Weasley line go either way from that point on. He supposed that's why the Weasley twins, Fred and George, could get along so well with their surrogate mother, Bellatrix Lestrange. It also meant that every Weasley was related to Sirius, Harry Potter's godfather and Hadrian Black's father. 

Remus and Sirius had both changed their names upon entering America, deciding to keep the Black name only because it commanded respect and shielded them from too much inquiry. Atlas and Orion Black, respectively, raised their son Hadrian under the guise of the Black name. Remus and Sirius had always been secretly proud of their new names. Atlas held the world on his shoulders, a feeling Remus constantly battled with. Orion was the name of a mighty hunter, in love with the moon. Hadrian, however, had been more of a play on words as his name meant "dark hair" or "of the dark." And now the dark was being forced into the light.

It was a few more moments in the awkward silence that surrounded them after Ronald's arrival before the heads of the various schools ventured down the stairs, joining their respective champions. Hadrian ventured toward Nyah; approval heavy in her eyes.

"I know you do not do this lightly," She began, putting a hand on his shoulder. "But no one else could."

Yaxley joined them soon, drawing everyone's attention to himself. Nyah moved behind Hadrian, her hand still clasped on his shoulder.

"Congratulations, champions!" Yaxley's eyes drifted over each of them. "You have been chosen to represent your respective schools. I trust you will take this seriously, and bring pride to your schools and your families." His eyes landed on the Weasley boy who nodded stiffly. "In one week we will have the Weighing of the Wands. It's been done since the tournament's inception, nothing to worry yourselves over. And a week from that, our first task." Yaxley produced seven papers, one for each of them, handing them out to each champion with Hadrian last. "Study your clues carefully, as failing to do so could mean your death." His eyes landed on Hadrian, something sinister sparkling within them. "Good luck."

 

Chapter Text

Fifteen Years Ago

She knew she was caught. She should have left when she when he said to. And now she was here. Wherever here was.

Minerva couldn't see anything, nor could she move. She felt her body float through the air, not touching the ground nor sky and for a moment, she remembered her time playing Quidditch, and the rush she felt being in between. Now, however, her levitation was not her choice. She struggled against her bindings until the skin around her wrists was raw and bloody, but she struggled still. A blindfold covered her eyes as she moved through her world of darkness. After nearly an eternity, she felt herself lowering onto the floor, her knees pressing against the hard ground. 

When the blindfold was removed, she blinked into the harsh light around her, attempting to focus on the figure whose outline she could see before her. As her eyes adjusted, she could see more and more until the realization struck her like lightning. 

Crimson eyes stared at her before moving to kneel in front of her. Deathly pale, snake-like skin shone in the light of the small dungeon as the eyes of the creature before her examined her. This was not Tom Riddle, not the boy she had known and hated in her youth. No. This was Voldemort. The mask he made for himself had become his very face as he examined her closely. 

"My dear Minerva," He said, his voice high and sharp like glass. "I do believe you are in luck."

"I'll never help you," She spat, watching those blood-red eyes light up in amusement. 

"No?" Voldemort asked, running a cold finger over her cheek. "Not even to save your beloved?" He grasped her face, turning it to the side. Elphinstone, her husband, floated next to her, his eyes lit up with pure terror. "You should have run, Minerva." Voldemort purred, his high voice making her shiver.

"As it is," Voldemort released her, "I require your help."

Without turning to face the monster before her, she felt her defiance boil in her veins. "I. Will. Not. Help. You."

"Pity," Voldemort murmured.

I'm sorry. She thought right before a sickening green light engulfed Elphinstone, and his lifeless body dropped to the ground, horror still on his face. She turned away, pushing down the sob she felt rise within her.

"He has a family doesn't he?" Voldemort asked feigning curiosity. "And you do as well. Some adorable little nieces and nephews." Suddenly, he was before her again, this deadly white wand pointing under her chin, forcing her face to rise to meet his again. "How many must die for your defiance? I will not be as kind to them as I was to your dear late husband." Voldemort leaned in next to her ear, his voice quiet. "Do you know what children's screams sound like?"

Minerva swallowed thickly as the faces of her nieces and nephews flashed through her mind. She saw her brothers. She saw her family. She saw her in-laws. She heard screams that weren't there, children begging for mercy. Some part of her wondered if Voldemort had entered her mind, planting the terrified screams deep into her conscious, so she would never forget them. Eventually, she let out a sigh.

"What do you want from me?" 

Voldemort moved away, bring his deadly Yew wand away from her and settling into a chair across the room.

"If you think I'm going to ask you to give up your precious Dumbledore, I'm not." He ran his fingers over his wand, a constant reminder of the danger she faced. "I know he fled and clearly he left his favorite protege behind. No, my dear, I will not ask you for something you would rather die than give." Voldemort's eyes once again landed on her. "What I want, is you to do your job."

"My job?" Minerva asked. 

Voldemort threw his arms outward, gesturing to something that wasn't there. "You have risen quite high in your position at Hogwarts. Transfiguration professor, head of Gryffindor house, and Deputy Headmistress. Congratulations on your recent appointment." Voldemort leaned forward. "Though I would like to raise your station."

"You want me to become Headmistress of Hogwarts." Minerva finished, her mind whirring.

"Very good. I knew you were incredibly smart." 

"Is that not a position you want to be filled by your Death Eaters?" She spat. To her surprise, Voldemort laughed.

"No. They are," He paused, pressing a finger to his thin lips as he thought. "Not qualified. Between you and me," He shifted closer to her as if to tell her a secret, "They can be quite idiotic and ill-tempered. Not fitting traits to be headmaster. But you," Voldemort clapped his hands together. "You will do nicely. And you will behave. Or the ones you love will pay the price."

Minerva swallowed, not answering the threat placed before her.

"You may take her away now," Voldemort said, his voice louder than before. Two Death Eaters came into the room, their faces obscured by masks. The lifted her by her arms, placing her rather gently on her feet and began to remove her from the room. "Oh, Minerva, one last thing." The Death Eaters stopped and she was forced to face Voldemort once more. "I will be requiring a position for myself. Perhaps Defense Against the Dark Arts professor."


Six Years Ago

"Ollivander. Thank you for coming." Sirius grasped the hand of the man before him, homesickness running through his veins. "Did you bring them?"

Ollivander nodded slightly, opening the bag at his side. "It leads to my shop." He looked around the rather simple home he was in. "Severus Snape was very clear." 

Sirius let out a sigh of relief. Snape surely had made certain Ollivander's presence was disguised as anything other than what it was. Sirius lead the wandmaker into the main room of the small flat — apartment — they were living in. No doubt the wandmaker knew who he was, he remembered everything. However, it was unlikely he had been told the whole story of Sirius and Remus' fleeing to America. Ollivander looked around the small space, a sad smile on his face. 

"Where is this special case I was sent to see?" The wandmaker asked, sitting on the chair Sirius gestured to for him. 

"Hadrian," Sirius called softly. An eleven-year-old Harry Potter entered the room. His wild black hair enhanced his bright green eyes. Sirius held out his arm, gesturing for the boy to come closer. "Come meet Ollivander."

Harry — Hadrian — moved closer, fidgeting with the sleeves of his shirt as he moved into Sirius' grasp. 

"Ollivander, meet Hadrian Black. My son."

Ollivander's knowing eyes scanned the boy and for a moment, Sirius worried he would know who he truly was. However, the wandmaker nodded, extending his hand to the younger. "It's a pleasure to meet you, young Mr. Black."

Harry shook his hand and Sirius could see the tension leave his body as the worry left him. 

"Would you like to begin?" The wandmaker asked. 

Harry nodded furiously, his eyes following the wandmaker's movements with curiosity.

Ollivander produced two long, slim boxes from the bag at his side and set them on the table before him. He removed one wand, running his fingers over it lightly before he looked to the younger. 

"Willow. Eleven inches. Dragonheart string." He offered the wand to Harry, who grasped it gently as if he might break it. "Well," He prompted. "Give it a wave." 

Harry nodded slightly, looking at the wand for a long moment before he waved it. Across the room, a glass shattered. Harry jumped slightly, panic lighting his eyes. 

"I'm sorry." He muttered, turning to Sirius. 

"It's all right." Sirius withdrew his wand, waving it over the shattered glass as it repaired itself. "See? No harm done."

Harry nodded again, placing the wand on the table before him.

"Perhaps, this one. Mahogany. Twelve inches. Unicorn hair." Harry took the wand and repeated what he had done before only to this time have the mirror the wall nearest to them shatter. "No, no. Definitely not." Harry put the wand down, bending his head slightly. "No matter!"

Wand after wand piled onto the table between Harry and Ollivander as Sirius repaired various objects which shattered or exploded around their small living space.

"I wonder," Ollivander muttered to himself as he withdrew a dusty box. Gently, he blew the dust off before opening it and revealing a wand. "Holly. Eleven inches. Phoenix feather."

Ollivander gently handed the wand to Harry and within seconds of touching it, wind began to blow and the room itself began to warm. 

"Curious," Ollivander said, his eyes focused on the wand. 

"I'm sorry," Harry began, shifting the wand in his hand. "What's curious?"

Ollivander took a deep breath, leaning forward slightly. "I remember every wand I've ever sold. It just so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather resides in your wand gave another feather. Just one other." The wandmaker's eyes lifted to Harry's face. "It is curious that you should be destined for this wand when its brother gave you that scar." 

The wandmaker then turned to Sirius as horror ran through his veins. "There is no need to worry Mr. Black. I will never reveal your secret."


Now

Hadrian presented his wand to the wandmaker before him. He remembered Ollivander down to the way his eyes evaluated everything from behind his glasses. However, Ollivander did not recognize him. Days after Hadrian had received a wand, Sirius had gotten a letter in the mail from Severus, only a few words written on it.

He will remember nothing.

True to his word, Severus had removed the memories from the wandmaker's mind. Yet, Hadrian knew there was still some danger before him. Ollivander had made the wand.

I remember every wand I've ever sold. Its brother gave you that scar.

Hadrian's wand was the brother of Voldemort's both of which were made by the wandmaker now before him. Ollivander's eyes lit up slightly at the wand before they turned to Hadrian. "Stubborn are we, Mr. Black," The wandmaker asked, turning his eyes back to the wand. "Champion of hard-fought victories and perseverance. Interestingly, it was believed that Holly could repel lightning." Ollivander waved the wand slightly and the chair nearest to him exploded. Quickly, he repaired the chair and nodded in satisfaction at the wand, before offering it back to Hadrian. "Perhaps you have been reborn." The wandmaker paused. "Do not worry. I will say nothing." Ollivander's voice was nearly a whisper as he spoke. Hadrian took his wand back, feeling the anxiety at having it held by someone else ebb away. 

"Thank you, Mr. Ollivander." Hadrian murmured before moving away.

Hadrian knew blood-red eyes were following him as he turned around.

Today was the first day he had come into contact with Voldemort as he had dreamt of him. Crimson eyes, pale, snake-like skin; and a terrifying, powerful presence. Voldemort's entry into the room had been quiet. Hadrian knew initially because he felt his scar prickle slightly. Upon the Dark Lord's entry, however, the room — which had been filled with the noise of people talking and various bits of furniture exploding — grew deathly silent. As Hadrian moved away from the wandmaker, crimson eyes settled on him and fear ran hot through his veins.

"Mr. Black," A high voice said as the snake-like man came closer. "I've heard nothing but good things about you. Your professors and classmates are more than impressed with you." Hadrian didn't answer. "I suppose we will need to see if you live up to your reputation."

"I plan to." Hadrian quipped, unable to stop himself.

Voldemort smiled, making Hadrian's heart freeze in his chest.

"I look forward to it."

 

 

Chapter Text

"Mr. Black, would you stay behind for a moment?"

Hadrian sighed before nodding to his friends to go ahead of him. Nicholas and Cordelia eyed the professor behind Hadrian. Fortunately, the two of them were talking to him again. Unfortunately, they were not the only ones. A look of disgust briefly crossed Cordelia's face as she looked at the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor behind him before the two of them nodded.

"We'll wait outside," She said her eyes searching Hadrian's face for any message he was trying to convey.

"That won't be necessary. He'll be along shortly." Gaunt said. 

"It's all right," Hadrian muttered. 

The two of them gave slightly distressed looks that would have been comical in any other situation. Soon, the door opened and closed, leaving Hadrian alone with Gaunt behind him. He turned to look at the professor. He looked nothing like his eviler half. Hadrian suspected a glamour. But which is his real face?

Gaunt was looking down at a copy of the Daily Prophet in front of him, not bothering to look up at Hadrian.

"Hadrian Black is a curious and mysterious boy from Ilvermorny. Raised in America by British men, Hadrian has retained the class and composure of his roots." Gaunt threw the paper down in front of him, finally looking up at Hadrian. "Rita Skeeter is never that nice. Tell me, what did you do?"

"I did nothing," Hadrian answered honestly, though the other raised an eyebrow.

"Really? No blackmailing our lovely Ms. Skeeter?"

Hadrian shook his head. "I suspect Voldemort is involved."

Gaunt leaned forward, his face betraying nothing. "And what makes you think that?"

Hadrian shrugged, pretending to look around the room as he answered the question. "He was there. He talked to her before I was ever interviewed."

Gaunt folded his hand. "And why would the Dark Lord care about your interview?"

Referring to yourself in the third person. Classy. Hadrian thought. "Oh, he wouldn't."

Gaunt raised an eyebrow again. 

"He cares about international relations. It would be problematic if a student from another school was insulted, it could raise tensions between the countries." Gaunt hummed in response. "Have you ever talked to Rita Skeeter?" Hadrian hedged, hoping he could make the other break.

"I've had my fair share." Gaunt examined him. "Have you figured out the first clue yet?"

"No." Hadrian lied.

"I find that hard to believe, Mr. Black." Gaunt leaned back in his chair, attempting nonchalance to hide his curiosity. But Hadrian knew he was curious. "You're far too intelligent to wait until the last moment to figure out your clue."

"Suppose I had figured it out," Hadrian began, mirroring Gaunt's posture as he leaned against another table. "Why would you care?"

Gaunt smiled, reminding Hadrian wildly of a cat baring its teeth. "I told you before. I want the most interesting champion to win."

"I'm sure there are more interesting champions than me." Hadrian looked away from the professor. "What about your own champion, Ronald Weasley?"

Gaunt laughed, much to Hadrian's surprise. "Mr. Weasley is a gifted wizard, I will give him that. He's very fluid in his motions, having harnessed magic his whole life." Gaunt waved his hand dismissively. "However, he lacks the will to apply himself."

"Clearly not," Hadrian challenged, watching Gaunt out of the corner of his eye. "He entered his name, did he not?"

Gaunt nodded, ceding the point. "Indeed."

Hadrian pushed himself off the desk behind him. "Is that all, professor?"

"No," Gaunt answered, standing as he did. "I'm curious if you've figured out the big surprise of the tournament."

"Surprise?" Hadrian asked. Gaunt moved around his desk, coming closer to Hadrian. 

"Yes," Gaunt lowered his voice, circling Hadrian. "You've never considered there would be more to it than seven schools competing? Come now, Hadrian." Gaunt was behind him now and leaned in so he was next to Hadrian's ear. "You're smarter than that. Think."

Hadrian's mind flew, thinking of any possible addition that could heighten the intensity of the tournament. Suddenly, his mind came screeching to a halt. Hadrian turned, coming face to face with Gaunt. They were too close but now, Hadrian's mind was focused on something else.

"Elimination," Hadrian said, his voice quieter than he meant. "A school will be eliminated each round."

"Very good," Gaunt purred.

"But that doesn't make sense. There are seven tasks."

"Are there? Who said that?" Gaunt's eyes lit up with a menacing and playful look.

"There's six," Hadrian said. "The last task has two schools. Winner takes all."

"Good boy," Gaunt said.

Hadrian's mind was whirring. The competition was heightened to a degree he never imagined. It was one thing to compete against six other schools. It was another to compete when they were fighting for limited spots. It encouraged unfair play.

"That's not common knowledge." Gaunt leaned forward, nearly closing the small distance between himself and Hadrian. "Best keep it to yourself."

Hadrian swallowed thickly, giving a single nod.

"May I go now, professor?"

Gaunt looked him over, his eyes trailing down Hadrian's body before meeting his again. "You may."

Hadrian turned quickly, leaving the room. He knew Nicholas and Cordelia were close as he moved down the stairs. They didn't say anything, only falling perfectly in step with Hadrian. They moved through the castle, joined by Alexander and Carlos until they were all outside the massive doors.

"We have a problem," Hadrian muttered as they made their way to the carriage. 


"Did you know?" Hadrian directed the question to the potion's professor who was somewhere behind him. It took everything Hadrian had not to confront the professor immediately, demanding if he knew about the additional twist to the tournament. However, their relationship was unknown and had to remain that way, for everyone's sakes.

"No. I was not involved in planning the tournament. I was only given a list of potions to brew." Severus had been brewing since before Hadrian had burst into the room and had barely glanced at him since.

"Potions?" Hadrian asked, moving closer.

"Yes," Severus pushed the list toward him.

"Healing potions. Pepperup Potions. Poison antidotes. Bruise removal paste? I've never heard of that one."

"Fred and George Weasley invented it." Severus grabbed the list away from Hadrian. "What is the first task?"

This time it was Hadrian's turn reveal a piece of paper. He set it down between himself and the potion's professor.

"I seek to guard. I'm known to hoard. Once we meet, you'll never be bored." Hadrian began to recite, rolling his eyes at the riddle they were given. "My breath is hot; my body is cold. Tell me what you will soon behold. Seven will enter and one will win. The prize you seek, I guard on a whim." Hadrian paused, running his hand over the back of his neck. "It's a dragon. Hot breath is fire. Cold body, some type of reptile. Guarding and hoarding. Muggle stories have dragons hoarding gold."

"Seven will enter and one will win," Severus repeated, his eyes searching Hadrian.

"Yes," Hadrian turned from the professor. "The dragon is guarding something. And I'm guessing it's a race to see who can get it first." Hadrian sighed. "This is why I didn't see the elimination part of the competition. How will they eliminate amongst six losers?"

"Time, magic, there are a million ways to judge the competition." Hadrian could practically hear the thoughts running through the professor's mind. "The prize guarantees that one school will not be eliminated. The rest will likely be ranked by the judges and the lowest overall will be eliminated."

"Eight judges, six schools to judge. And each time there will be less and less. Until there are two."

"Until there are two," Severus repeated, his voice mirroring the dread Hadrian was feeling.

"If I lose, I disappoint my school, my classmates. If I win, I draw Voldemort's attention more."

"I did warn you of the dangers of entering the tournament."

"I know, I know." Hadrian huffed; his mind tired of juggling the weight of several lives on his shoulders. He was always at risk, but before it was just Sirius, Remus, and Severus. Now Hadrian had to protect them and Cordelia, Nicholas, Carlos, and Alexander. The four of them had been seen with Hadrian and if he became a target again, so would they. Hadrian rubbed the back of his neck, attempting to release the tension he felt building there. "Why is McGonagall the headmistress of Hogwarts?" He asked suddenly, a terrifying thought entering his mind. "Wouldn't he want a Death Eater in that post?"

"She was chosen because of her place in the school before the Dark Lord's rise. She was already the Deputy Headmistress."

"But wasn't she loyal to Dumbledore?" Hadrian pressed, the thought becoming ever more present in his mind.

"Yes," Severus let out a sigh. "However, her husband was murdered, by the Dark Lord. He also threatened her husband's living family as well as her own."

Hadrian's heart froze, his terrible thought becoming reality.

"Do you see the danger now? Do you see the terrible fate you have brought upon others if you fail? If you are discovered?"

"What do I do?" Hadrian asked.

"Don't get caught."


Hadrian sighed as he stood in the massive tent. Outside, he could hear the yells of seven schools, all shouting the names of their champions. The tent shook with the banging of hands and feet on the stadium it was attached to. Idly, his mind wondered how they fit all seven schools together.

The other champions milled about, expressions varying from nonchalance to terrified. Hadrian hoped he was doing a fair enough job to keep the emotions off his face. As he paced around the tent, his scar began tingling, pain shooting through him swiftly. Voldemort.

Hadrian turned as the same snake-like man entered, no longer wearing Gaunt's face. Crimson eyes scanned the other six champions before finally resting on Hadrian. A menacing smile passed across the other's face before his gaze was torn away by the entrance of Yaxley.

"Gather around champions," Yaxley said in the quietest voice Hadrian had heard the man produce since he set eyes on the man. "I trust you all have studied your clues well and are prepared for the task ahead." Yaxley didn't wait for an answer and continued speaking. "In the center of the arena is a single golden egg. Whoever retrieves the egg will be our winner. The rest will be judged and ranked. And the lowest will no longer compete in the competition." Hadrian could feel crimson eyes on him, watching his reaction. Hadrian managed a worried look before Yaxley continued again. "As you may have deduced, you all will be entering together." He gave them a stern look. "No damage must come to any of you before you enter the arena. There is plenty of time to compete within the task itself, not before." 

Various nods answered his unspoken warning. "Very good." Yaxley clapped his hands. "Each champion has their own starting point. Please see yourselves there." He gestured behind him to seven tunnels which lead to the arena.

The champions separated, each moving down their respective entrances. Silence suddenly settled around Hadrian and all he could hear was the thundering of his heart.

"At the sound of the canon," Yaxley's voice echoed around the area. "The first task will start." Cheers echoed around everywhere as Hadrian moved closer to the entrance, daylight directly in front of him. "Welcome to the tournament!" 

A canon thundered and Hadrian's heart stopped.

 

Chapter Text

“Six tasks,” Hadrian said, quietly. “One school eliminated each round.”

“The different schools will be tested in each task; I have no doubt,” Nicholas answered, running his hand over his chin. They were sitting in Cordelia's room, just the three of them. Alexander had dismissed himself early, his head consistently pounding from the sheer number of voices bombarding him constantly. Carlos had left to get food, knowing the three of them wouldn't leave before they had solved the newest puzzle before them.

“The first task is a dragon. That tests Castelobruxo,” Hadrian said with a sigh.

“I thought the task that would challenge them would be in the forest,” Cordelia said, eyeing Hadrian. “I thought their school was surrounded by a haunted forest.”

“It is,” Hadrian answered. “But I don’t think we can eliminate the possibility of a task in the forest.”

“A dragon, the forest.” Nicholas began. “What else?”

“There will probably be a task involving flying or Quidditch. Mahoutokoro produces some of the best Quidditch players.”

“What tests Ilvermorny?” Cordelia asked, thoughts flying behind her eyes as she thought of many different possibilities.

“I don’t know,” Nicholas answered. “We’re similar to Hogwarts in so many ways.”

“Seeing in the dark,” Hadrian said at the same time.

“What?” His friends asked in unison.

“We can see outside the castle because of our magic. But to everyone else, Ilvermorny looks like its surrounded by a cloud, buried in the fog. We can see in the dark.”

"But what's in the dark?"

"Anything. Everything." Hadrian ran his hand over his forehead. "I have a feeling there will be dementors."


 The arena was massive. The stands lifted high into the air and Hadrian could see the dome shape of the protection spell that separated the arena from the surrounding stands. The arena was covered in rocks with alcoves scattered all over. Mountains of rock and crevasses littered the arena, providing hiding spots, and traps. The terrain just made for a more dangerous adventure. One misstep and someone was dragon food. Various spectators shifted in their seats, attempting to get a look at the seven champions entering. Each of them entered from separate parts of the arena. Seven entrances, seven champions.

One winner.

The barrier shimmered as various champions entered, each one looking around with thinly veiled fear. Hadrian, however, stood just outside the barrier, watching the other six. He knew where they were, he knew where the spectators were, but where was the dragon? He surveyed the other champions. Across the arena, he saw Ronald Weasley. His red hair shone in the sunlight. The colors of his house, red and gold, glittered on his uniform which was perfectly fitted to his tall, lean form. To his left was the Beauxbatons’ champion. Her long silvery hair was tied neatly behind her head and her blue eyes shone against her sky-colored uniform. To her left was the Mahoutokoro champion. The white uniform stood out against night-black hair. Between her and Hadrian was Gaea, the Uagadou champion. On the other side of Hadrian was the Castelobruxo champion. Her uniform reminded Hadrian of a forest, shimmering in the sun. The green changed, varying with the light it was under. Between her and the Weasley boy was the Durmstrang champion. His deep brown eyes looked nearly black against his light brown uniform, the Durmstrang crest stretched across his chest.

Hadrian’s uniform was not cranberry and blue, much to his delight. Instead, it was black with a large horned serpent wrapping around the length of his body. The Ilvermorny crest stood proudly on his sleeve, with each house twined together.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of having a uniform made for you before you were chosen,” Nyah told him. “I made certain to avoid our colors as much as possible.”

Hadrian could tell the moment the Weasley boy laid eyes on the prize in the middle of the arena. He watched as the other stepped deeper into the arena, completely fixated on whatever was in the center. Until a massive tail slammed down directly in front of him. A roar shook the arena, as the tail began moved as well as the much larger dragon it was attached to.

The dragon came into view. Its skin shimmered in the sunlight, like a field of diamonds and sunflowers. Spikes ran the length of its body and leathery wings sat firmly against its back. Orange eyes and a massive maw, complete with dangerously sharp teeth, focused on the redhead across the arena from him. Hadrian saw his chance as he leaped out of the entrance, moving behind the nearest rock.

The dragon roared again and he knew it breathed fire. He could feel the heat from across the arena. Based on the lack of screaming, Hadrian knew the redhead avoided a fiery fate. Hadrian moved around the rock, careful to watch where he stepped. The others were moving too, each making their way toward the center of the arena. Hadrian skimmed along the edge of the crevasse, watching as the dragon roared angrily at a space behind a rock. The champions nearest to him were the French champion and the Uagadou champion. Both glanced between the dragon and each other, deciding if it was worth the run to the prize.

Humans. A voice muttered. Delicious humans. I can smell you.

The dragon began to move, its fiery orange eyes searching the arena.

Let me rip you. Let me kill you. A massive forked tongue tasted the air and suddenly, Hadrian understood.

Voldemort could speak Parseltongue. The dragon was a reptile, close to snakes in relation. Voldemort could control the dragon.

Which meant Hadrian could too.

The dragon’s eyes scanned the arena, moving over rock after rock as it smelled, searching for its prey. Hadrian moved closer to the center, following the shallow crevasse he had found until it reached its end. The dragon neared, so close he could almost feel its breath on the back of his neck. He looked up, into the stands, searching the faces of the spectators. They would follow the dragon, the largest and most demanding thing in the arena, and Hadrian would follow them.

A massive roar shook the ground as suddenly he heard stomping. The dragon found new prey and began zeroing in on its food. Hadrian heard the crackle of fire as the dragon attempted a second shot at new prey. Hadrian looked at the spectators who were watching somewhere on the other side of the arena from him.

He took the opportunity, jumping out from the space he hid and began running. Time seemed to slow as he ran hearing a roar somewhere in the distance before he jumped behind another rock. Adrenaline raced through his veins and his heart thundered in his chest, as loud as the dragon.

I have seen you, Raven. And I will feast on your bones. The dragon cooed, the echo of its stomps growing louder.

Hadrian turned his head, meaning to look at the crowd before he saw someone else run. The French champion.

Brave but foolish human. You are mine now.

Hadrian’s heart pounded in his head as he watched the other champion freeze, the loud pounding of massive feet nearing closer and closer.

It was dumb. An idiotic split-second decision. He knew it and he could see it as if he were having an out of body experience. He watched himself as he began to move. He saw himself leap forward, first knocking the French champion out of the way then as he made his own protection spell. The dragon bounced off as if it were a ball hitting a wall.

The dragon roared angrily. Hadrian stood between the French champion and the dragon; orange eyes pinned only on him.

Hadrian’s next actions were completely guided by instinct as a rope flew from his wand, wrapping around the dragon’s neck. Somewhere behind him, he heard a scream, but the adrenaline made him unable to care. It was partially magic, partially a leap off the rock nearest to him that caused him to fly through the air, landing on the neck of the dragon.

I will free you. He whispered to the dragon as it began to shake him off. But I want that prize.

And why would I make a deal with you? The dragon hissed in return.

Because I know what you want. More than a cheap meal.

And what is that?

Freedom.

The dragon stilled for a moment, turning to look at the chain around one of its hind legs.

Freedom. It echoed wistfully.

Hadrian released the rope from his wand, grabbing it with his free hand.

“Relashio!” The chain groaned and clunked onto the ground and the dragon roared triumphantly, spreading its massive wings, and began to take flight.

We had a deal. Hadrian growled.

And I will honor it.

The dragon flew straight into the air, just below the shield before diving straight down. Below them, six champions ran toward the prize Hadrian could now see in the center. A box. It was simple and wooden but inside it likely held something far greater.

I do so hope you are as quick as you seem, little raven.

The dragon neared the ground, coming closer and closer to it before its massive body flipped. Hadrian could barely hold on as the dragon sped forward upside down. Hadrian reached as the two passed over the box, his fingers closing around the chain around it just as another champion lunged. The dragon twisted and Hadrian dragged the box out of the grasp of the other. The dragon roared and began its ascent.

Freedom, human. We had a deal. The dragon repeated his words back to him as they neared the shield.

“Evanesce.” The barrier was strong and Hadrian fought against it as they neared. Hadrian yelled though it wasn’t a spell. Light flew from his wand and bashed the barrier and the dragon echoed with a roar of its own, fire blasting upward. The shield broke into a shower of sparks and Hadrian and the dragon flew upward into the sky.

Exhilaration coupled with fear ran through Hadrian’s body as they ascended, higher and higher into the air. He could see everything. The arena below him, the castle in the distance, the massive lake that spanned below him.

Never fear, human. I am no fool. The dragon assured him.

The dragon began to drop, its wings opening wide as it drifted toward the ground, landing harshly. Hadrian slid off its neck, dropping to the ground with a thud.

You are brave. But foolish. I will not harm you, but your bravery will likely result in your death.

The dragon opened its massive wings once again and flew upward, sunflowers and diamonds glittering in the sky, moving further and further away.

The dragon had left Hadrian outside the arena. There was deafening silence around him as the breeze ran through his catastrophically wild hair. Any moment now, the spectators and professors in the stands would realize where he was. They would follow him. But for now, he was alone for the first time in forever.

It didn’t last.

A pop echoed around him and simultaneously, his scar began to prickle. Voldemort neared him.

“Congratulations,” The man said. He waved his hand over the box and the chain fell off with a soft clink. He jutted his chin forward, gesturing to what Hadrian held in his hands. “Open it.”

Hadrian opened the box, forcing his eyes from Voldemort to its contents. A small, golden egg sat in the center, decorated with snakes twisting and turning around it.

“The winner receives a head start on the next clue.” Voldemort reached out and ran his fingers over the egg. “I was going to open it for whoever won my little competition.” His crimson eyes drifted up to Hadrian, their gazes locking. “However, seeing as how you speak Parseltongue, I don’t particularly feel the need. Do you?”

Chapter Text

Hadrian tossed the small egg back and for between his hands, the object becoming a cold streak as it flew. He had opened it already, listening to the seductive hissing that echoed from within before it snapped closed once again. He paced around his small room, egg bouncing from hand to hand. Now and then, he would stop and re-read the letter sitting on his small desk. His owl, Cleopatra, stared at him with large orange-red eyes. She had recently returned, a letter from Sirius in tow. She would jump on Hadrian's shoulder as he paced before getting annoyed with his constant movements and returning to her perch next to his bed. Her round eyes followed the egg with great curiosity until it started hissing again, causing her to puff her feathers out, reminding him more of a cat than an owl. 

He set the egg down and turned to the letter, picking it up and examining it once again.

Hadrian,

Your father and I will be journeying with the President of MACUSA to see you during the rest of your tasks. We heard it was a wonderful show and looking forward to speaking with you about it.

Sincerely,

Your father.

He could always tell who wrote the letters to him and this time, it had been Remus. He was much more formal in his letter writing that Sirius had ever achieved and the seriousness of the man himself leaked into his writing. He picked discarded the letter for the egg and once again began tossing it back and forth. Silence settled in around him as he paced, interrupted only by the occasional cooing from his owl. Eventually, he gave up pacing, deciding instead to fall rather unceremoniously onto his bed. He looked up at the owl above his head, offering the egg to her.

"What do you think of this?" The owl leaned forward as if to inspect it before backing away and again fluffing her feathers. "That's what I thought." He dropped the egg onto the pillow next to him. "Things are becoming more and more dangerous." He scrubbed his hands down his face. "He knows I'm a parselmouth. If I'm not careful, he'll figure out the rest and then the last sixteen years have been for nothing." 

Hadrian had said nothing to Severus, Sirius, or Remus in regards to Voldemort's discovery of his ability. He had learned at a young age to keep the ability to himself when he accidentally set a large boa on the unsuspecting occupants of the zoo as a child. The snake was incredibly grateful but Remus and Sirius were not amused. 

Talking to snakes isn't common. Even for wizards. Remus told him.

Since then he kept the ability to himself, only revealing it to Cordelia and the others. And then there was Voldemort. He should have been more careful during the task; he should have used a silencing charm to keep spectators from hearing the dragon's hiss. Of course, they would hear it, it was a dragon. Hadrian, however, had been too wrapped up in the adrenaline of the tournament at the time to think, and it cost him a dear secret. However, it seemed that Voldemort was content not to share it as he had yet to be confronted by anyone else about it.

A knock echoed around his room as his thoughts continued to run around his mind. 

"Come in," He called, not bothering to stand from his bed.

Cordelia shuffled her way into the room, greeted by a coo from the owl above Hadrian's head. 

"I see you've been sulking all day."

Hadrian rolled his eyes. "I haven't been sulking."

"No," Cordelia said, walking further into the room and staring intently at the floor. "Just pacing." Her eyes turned back to him. "You'll wear a hole through the floor at this rate." 

Hadrian groaned. "Then you figure this thing out." He grabbed the egg from the pillow and tossed it to her. She caught it easily just as it opened again and began hissing.

Don't look. Don't let me taste. Run away with haste. For I am the one who haunts the halls. I see everything and live within the walls. To win, you must pass. To pass, you must be fast.

Hadrian covered his eyes with an arm as Cordelia listed before the egg shut itself again.

"Well it's a snake of some kind," Cordelia said. Hadrian could picture her standing with one hand on her hip, the other holding the egg aloft as she examined it.

"Figured that," Hadrian muttered.

"For I am the one that haunts the halls," She repeated. "This has to do with Hogwarts. What do you know about its history?"

Hadrian pushed himself upward onto his elbows as Cordelia dropped onto the bed next to him, her feet propped up near his torso.

"It's considered one of the, if not the oldest, wizarding school in existence. Founded by four friends and incredibly gifted witches and wizards. Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin." The two briefly made eye contact before Hadrian continued. "While three of them wanted to teach everyone who had magic, Slytherin thought the school should be more selective. It was rumored he built a secret chamber in the castle before he left, home to a monster. Throughout the years there have been many deaths and disappearances around the castle including students seemingly dying for no reason." Hadrian pushed himself upward and rested an arm against the other's feet. 

"Armando Dippet was the headmaster when Voldemort was in school, known then as Tom Riddle. Dumbledore followed him and after Voldemort's second rise, McGonagall followed."

"And Tom Riddle is Voldemort who is posing as a Defense Professor named Tom Gaunt?" Cordelia asked.

"Yes," Hadrian sighed. "From what I was able to find, the Gaunts were the last of the Slytherin line here. There's your family, of course, but I couldn't find any record of them. I think Gormlaith is to thank for that. Somehow Isolt Sayre's whole line was erased from the Slytherin family. Fortunately, that makes you less of a target. But we still need to be careful."

Cordelia was silent for a moment. "Did you enter this tournament to keep attention off of me?" Her voice was quiet when she finally spoke and she was looking everywhere but at him.

"Partially," He answered.

Cordelia said nothing but instead rearranged herself on the bed, tucking herself against Hadrian's side. He wrapped an arm around her, letting her rest her head on his shoulder. He pressed a soft kiss against her head before sitting back, the two of them lying in complete silence.

It felt like hours passed before Cordelia spoke again. "You said Slytherin left a monster in Hogwarts castle," She began. "When did Riddle attend school?" 

"About 60 years ago," Hadrian answered.

"Were there any deaths then?" 

"About 55 years ago there a girl named Myrtle Warren died in the first-floor girl's lavatory. Tom Riddle was awarded for special services to the school for apprehending the person and discovering the monster."

"What was it?" 

Hadrian shrugged as best he could. "Supposedly an acromantula."

"But you don't believe that?"

"I don't believe anything about the story." He could feel Cordelia's eyes on him. "I don't believe who supposedly killed her and I don't believe an acromantula did the deed. They're notorious for not letting anything go to waste. And her body was completely intact. It was like she was-" He stopped abruptly.

"It was like she was what?" Cordelia pressed.

"Come with me," Hadrian was already pushing himself off the bed and dragging the other with him before he could finish speaking.

"Where are we going?" She demanded as he pulled her along.

They left the carriage and ventured up to Hogwarts castle. Hadrian did his best to avoid the various students milling about before he stopped at the first-floor girl's bathroom. With a glance back and forth, he pushed his way inside, dragging his captive with him.

"This is the girl's bathroom," Cordelia muttered. "You can't be in here."

"No one ever comes in here," Hadrian said absently as he began searching the room.

"Why?" 

"Because-" He cut himself off abruptly again as he noticed the ghost watching them from a nearby stall.

"Because of me," She muttered bitterly.

"You're Myrtle Warren, aren't you?" Cordelia asked, moving around Hadrian. The ghost nodded slightly, her eyes jumping back and forth between the two of them. 

"Have you come to laugh at me? Taunt me?" She demanded.

"No," Hadrian answered. "I just want to ask you a question."

The ghost began to float out of her stall, coming closer to the two of them. "Question?"

"I just wanted to ask you how you died." The question felt incredibly awkward but the ghost didn't seem to mind.

"It was there," She pointed to the stall she had just left. "I was hiding because Olive Hornby was teasing me about my glasses. I was crying." She floated closer to the stall. "Then I heard whispering. It sounded like a made-up language. It was a boy speaking." She heaved a sigh. "I hoped the door to tell him to 'go away.'" She paused and turned back to Hadrian and Cordelia. "And then I died."

"Just like that?" Hadrian asked.

"I just remember seeing a pair of great big yellow eyes," She raised a finger. "Over there. By that sink."

"Thank you, Myrtle," Hadrian said, moving further into the bathroom to evaluate the sink she had pointed out to him. Just below the handle, an engraved snake sat, hissing at anything that dared near. "This is it," Hadrian turned back to Cordelia.

"The monster in the chamber. It's a snake." Cordelia moved closer, looking at the sink Hadrian was standing next to.

"A snake that can only be controlled by the heir of Slytherin and kills those who make eye contact with it." She said with a huff. Silence fell between them for a short moment as she stood straight again.

"A basilisk," The comment was made in unison as horror crossed Cordelia's face.

"A thousand-year-old basilisk," Hadrian said, looking at the sink again.

"Hadrian," Cordelia's voice was filled with terror. "What are you going to do?"

Chapter Text

It only took a look to know that Gaunt wanted him to stay behind after class. He nodded to Cordelia and Nicholas, both of whom were skeptical about leaving Hadrian alone with Gaunt. He waited for the class to empty before setting his bag on top of the table and moving closer to the professor. Not for the first time, Hadrian was struck at how different he and his alter ego were. Hadrian moved the nearest chair to a better position, feigning nonchalance as he sat. Gaunt gathered the papers on his desk before finally raising his eyes to Hadrian.

"That was an impressive performance in the first task."

Hadrian hummed.

"It was a risky move, freeing the dragon like that." Gaunt folded his hands. "It could have killed you. Or any of us for that matter."

"But it didn't," Hadrian said.

"How did you know it wouldn't?" Gaunt asked, leaning forward. He was trying to catch Hadrian, make him slip and reveal his Parseltongue.

Voldemort was already aware of Hadrian's ability, but Gaunt was supposedly unaware of Hadrian's ability. Gaunt didn't know that Hadrian knew he was Voldemort which left Hadrian with a choice to make. He could reveal his ability to Voldemort as the professor and turn the table back on him. He could easily let it slip that he knew who the professor was and force his mask off as he was trying to do to Hadrian. Or he could play dumb and find some other reason that would excuse his actions during the task. Either option had the potential of backfiring on him. Gaunt could easily reveal himself as Voldemort with the latter option and paint Hadrian as a liar. The former option had no less risk in that Hadrian would then have to come up with some excuse to explain how he knew Gaunt and Voldemort were the same person.

"It was a chained animal," Hadrian answered finally. "All they really want is to be free. Given the choice between trying to eat likely unsatisfying meals or freedom to eat whatever and go wherever it wanted, of course, it would choose freedom."

This time it was Gaunt's turn to hum his response and Hadrian could see the thoughts flying behind his dark eyes. He knew the other had the same internal debate he just had with himself. Reveal to Hadrian that he knew his secret, or continue to play along.

"Indeed," He said eventually and Hadrian let out the breath he didn't realize he was holding.

Both were waiting for the other to make a move and Hadrian had a feeling they could wait for an eternity if need be.

"Is there anything else, Professor?" Hadrian asked.

"Have you figured out your next clue? The remaining five received theirs two days after you. That's a two-day head start to figure out what is awaiting you next and the next task is at the end of the week."

Hadrian opened his mouth to answer but the look in Gaunt's eyes make him reconsider answering. Again, he came to the same conclusion he had before. Gaunt was trying to get him to slip. The clue was in Parseltongue for him, and likely him alone. The others had probably heard their clues in their respective languages which would have happened when Voldemort opened the egg for them. But Voldemort didn't open the clue for Hadrian.

However, seeing as how you speak Parseltongue, I don’t particularly feel the need. Do you?

"It's been difficult," Hadrian said instead.

"The Dark Lord would not make it easy."

"No," Hadrian conceded. "Nothing about this is meant to be easy."

The pair fell into silence as Gaunt studied him. Hadrian shifted from foot to foot, unease starting to settle in him.

"Can I go now, Professor?" He asked finally, growing increasingly tired of Gaunt's dark stare.

"Yes," Gaunt answered, waving his hand dismissively.

As Hadrian left, he silently cursed himself again for being so reckless in the tournament. He maneuvered through the castle, stealing a glance at the door to the first-floor girl's bathroom as he went. He knew the next task included a basilisk, but where would it be? They couldn't fit everyone in the chamber where the basilisk slept and there was a risk to the audience. Eye contact meant death with the beast. 

Maybe it's a trick. Some part of Hadrian's mind whispered. Maybe the basilisk is a red herring. 

Hadrian was too lost in thought to pay attention to where he was walking which naturally resulted in him running directly into another person. Hadrian opened his mouth to apologize as the other did the same and finally he noticed whom he had run into.

Ronald Weasley.

The two stood awkwardly for a moment after giving their apologies before Hadrian stuck out his hand.

"Hadrian Black."

"I'm Ron. Ron Weasley."

Their hands shook and Hadrian offered a smile.

"It's nice to meet you, Ron, officially."

The two, or any of the other champions for that matter, didn't talk before the weighing of the wands or the first task. They all knew the risks of what they were doing and the competition between them was increased dramatically when the elimination aspect had been revealed.

Castelobruxo had suffered the first elimination. Hogwarts was in second, putting Ron immediately behind Hadrian. Ron's courage in being the first to face the dragon had earned him his second-place spot and now he was standing with the person who was his main challenger. Mahoutokoro had won third as it was their champion who Hadrian had ripped the clue from as he flew overhead. Uagadou earned fourth. Gaea, their champion, had dragged the French champion out of the way after Hadrian practically tackled her to the ground to avoid the dragon. Durmstrang was fifth as their champion had fought the dragon before Hadrian had ever gotten the chance. Hadrian didn't know it at the time, but when he had felt the heat of the dragon's fire in the arena, the dragon had burned the Durmstrang champion. The result was a massive scar down the length of his right arm that not even magic could fix. The French champion was last, only losing points for freezing under the dragon's oncoming onslaught.

Ron smiled at Hadrian. "You too." The redhead paused for a moment before speaking again. "Have you spoken with any of the other champions?"

"Not recently. I spoke with Gaea briefly before the tournament even began and I had a less than cordial encounter with the Durmstrang champion."

Ron looked back and forth briefly before grabbing Hadrian by the arm and dragging him into a more secluded area.

"Look," He began his eyes focused intently on Hadrian. "I know I shouldn't be telling you this, but I think the next task is different." Ron looked around anxiously before continuing. "I overheard one of the other champions say their clue told them there would be a manticore. But mine said there would be an acromantula. Someone else heard another champion say there would be dementors." The other sighed. "I don't think we're competing in the same places or against the same things."

"We each have our own creature." Hadrian's mind flew as he spoke. He was the only one facing the basilisk, and he would be completely unaware of what the others were doing. He ran his hand through his hair as he thought. It was a two-part race. They would have to avoid death by their respective creatures and beat the others to the prize at the end.

He turned back to the other champion, seeing fear fill the other's eyes. He studied him for a moment before finally speaking again. He was afraid of spiders. Hadrian could see it plainly as he continued to study Ron. But he was clearly brave in other ways, taking a risk that could hurt him and help Hadrian.

"Arania Exumai," Hadrian said, deciding to repay the favor. "Remember that."

He was gone before the other could answer.

Hadrian was incredibly glad to return to his room as the day ended. Thoughts ran through his mind constantly, but one was of relief. He was the only one facing the basilisk, and while there would likely be some form of monitoring, the spectators wouldn't be watching only him. He would be, for all intents and purposes, alone. A plan began to form itself as Hadrian continued to think. 

A knock on his door barely interrupted his thoughts as he called for the other to enter. Hadrian paced, an unconscious action, as Nicholas entered. The blond stared at him for a moment before stopping his pacing with his own body. 

"I could hear you thinking in my room," Nicholas said as their eyes met.

"Well, there's a lot in this world to contemplate."

"Like a thousand-year-old killer snake?" Nicholas asked. "Cordelia told me. But if I had to bet, I would bet on this snake over a thousand-year-old one any day." Nicholas grasped Hadrian's shoulder. 

"Thanks," Hadrian muttered.

"Now come," Nicholas tugged on his arm. "No more thinking for the night."

"Nicholas I-" But the other was not easily dissuaded as he dragged Hadrian behind him and into the hidden room of the carriage.

"No more thinking!" Nicholas commanded over the loud, thrumming music. 

A drink, likely containing alcohol, was shoved into his hand as Cordelia passed. Hadrian sighed, realizing he wouldn't be able to slip away easily. So, he decided to embrace it. He downed the drink quickly before letting himself get pulled onto the dance floor. Cordelia spun in Hadrian's grasp as Nicholas and Carlos danced somewhere nearby. He could feel the music pounding in his chest in place of his heart as he danced. He and Cordelia moved their way around the floor and he could feel the smile beginning to pull at his lips.


Hadrian stood at the entrance to the unknown.

Next to him was Ron and on his other side was the French champion, Gabrielle. The other champions stood at their respective entrances with the Uagadou champion directly behind him. The Durmstrang champion had sneered at him, running into him with his shoulder as they entered the small area. Six entrances lead were arranged in a circle in an otherwise unimpressive room. The walls looked like they were made of concrete with wooden doors embedded into them. Above the door, the school of each champion was carved into the concrete, signifying their respective entrances. Somewhere above them were the spectators, looking down into the pit where their champions stood.

Hadrian glanced up briefly, locking eyes with his friends. Alexander gave him an encouraging nod which Hadrian returned, hoping his face didn't betray the fear sitting like a rock in his gut. Somewhere else in the arena sat the President of MACUSA and with her, Sirius and Remus. The three of them had barely gotten a chance to speak in private before the second task. Sirius looked strangely like him, as the glamour he wore made himself look more like Hadrian's father. Remus, however, looked nothing like his normal self. Greying hair was replaced with dark brown and his normally thin form looked healthier. His jaw was sharper, making his look fiercer. If Hadrian didn't know any better, he would never have known the man was Remus Lupin.

Hadrian's thoughts ran off of their own accord and idly he appreciated the irony of his uniform, the snake wrapped around his body, as he was about to face a massive snake that could kill him with a bite.

"At the sound of the canon, you may enter your tasks." Yaxley's voice echoed through the small pit they were in. "Good luck champions."

As the canon echoed, Hadrian opened the small wooden door, briefly meeting eyes with the Hogwarts' champion. The other mouthed good luck before stepping through his door. Hadrian sighed and stepped into the darkness that awaited him.

 

Chapter Text

The door clicked shut behind him, engulfing Hadrian in complete darkness. He reached out tentatively to either side, finding cold stone walls just within his reach. He reached up as well, feeling the ceiling not far above his head. He had a better sense of the space he was in and as he stood, his eyes began to adjust and his ears began to hear every little sound present in the hall. At the end of the hall, a light sat in the distance, flickering in the distance. Water dripped elsewhere, trickling down the wall and Hadrian could barely make out the sound of something moving over the hard stone floor. The basilisk.

He stepped carefully forward, listening to the sound of his feet on the stone floor. If he moved slowly, he could avoid making a sound, but slow wasn't going to win this competition. So instead, he popped himself up on the balls of his feet, stepping lightly as he went. Part of him worried that his pounding heart would give him away. He controlled his breath, stepping lightly toward the light at the end of the hall. If he were caught where he was, the basilisk would kill him easily. He continued forward, feeling along the wall to his left to guide him. Water continued to drip and grew louder as Hadrian neared.

One foot after the other, Hadrian moved through the hall, always keeping his hand on the left wall, partially for balance. He moved toward the light until he found a lantern illuminating the space around him. He was met with a wall and two halls varying in different directions. He had to make a choice, left or right. His head whipped back and forth between the two before deciding to continue following the path to the left. As he continued, he heard the dripping noise increase but the light faded behind him. Darker and darker. Drip, drip, drip.

He continued further down his path until he was met by a wall that forced him to the right. He followed as realization dawned on him more and more. He was in a maze. Elsewhere in the maze, he was being stalked by the basilisk and at the center was whatever he needed to end his task. 

Basilisks have an excellent sense of smell and hearing. Like most snakes, it could smell even minute smells though it could track across long distances. It could detect the slightest sounds and its ability to hunt was unparalleled. While it did not rely heavily on its sense of sight, it could paralyze if eye contact was made by proxy — reflection, through something else — and could kill with direct eye contact. The serpent itself has been known to grow over sixty feet long. It also had a powerful bite, with venom that worked through the body incredibly quickly. The basilisk venom was known to cause excruciating pain within seconds and death within minutes. The only antidote known was phoenix tears, and Hadrian silently bemoaned his distinct lack of a phoenix. Interestingly, the basilisk is the mortal enemy of spiders, which can sense the snake from long distances. The most well-known of basilisk breading was a dark wizard hatching a chicken egg under a toad. It was also described as having horns, leaving many to speculate that the basilisk is distantly related to the snake which Hadrian's house was named for, the Horned Serpent.

Hadrian let the knowledge about the beast he was set to face flow through his mind, reassessing his strategy. Idly, he wondered if he could still die by making eye contact with the serpent in the dark. He wouldn't know and while the snake would know he was there, it likely couldn't see him.

Araniasortia.

From his wand and created by his silent spell, a spider bound, landing lightly on the floor in front of him.

Lumos arania.

The still paused spider began to glow with soft light and Hadrian was incredibly glad he used it as the spider began to speed ahead of him. He followed, watching as the spider twisted and turned through the maze of stone walls around him. Together the two sped deeper and deeper into their stone imprisonment, past lantern after lantern.

Drip, drip, drip.

The sound of dripping water grew ever louder and he could feel excitement boil within him. The drip was toward the center of the maze, where Hadrian hoped the prize of the maze was. 

Drip, drip, drip.

The hall suddenly dropped both Hadrian and the spider into an open chamber. The chamber itself was circular and the walls of the room shot upward and several paths emptied themselves into the chamber. Overhead, a chandelier sat, illuminating the room. In the center, another box sat, like in the first task, and was surrounded by water. Hadrian marveled at the creation in front of him and the maze he entered from, wondering where he was and how it was anywhere near Hogwarts. He stepped further into the chamber and suddenly the spider turned, running back into the tunnel Hadrian had entered from. Whispers started entering the chamber and the sound of scales sliding over the floor suddenly increased, a sound Hadrian couldn't hear over the dripping of the water.

I can smell you. I can hear your heart thundering in your chest. My meal. I will find you.

The basilisk.

Hadrian's eyes dropped the ground immediately, listening as the snake continued forward. The basilisk was likely incredibly fast and also much larger than him. Hadrian had to decide if he wanted to risk if he should run into the center and attempt for the prize or if he should run back into the maze. Unfortunately, the basilisk decided for him as suddenly its voice echoed around him.

Found you.

Hadrian took off running, entering the nearest maze entrance. The basilisk following and he could hear the growling and hissing of the massive snake behind him. He wasn't worried about sound now, instead, he just ran.

Hadrian collided with walls, bouncing off them and further into the maze. The dripping noise receded as his heartbeat began to fill his sense. Fear ran through his veins. He pushed further and further into the stone imprisonment. The sounds of the snake began to fade as Hadrian lost it in a series of twists and turns. He racked his brain, thinking of any way he could fight the basilisk. There was speculation that if the basilisk saw its reflection, it could kill itself. It was also thought the call of a rooster could kill it. But while he could conjure spiders or even other snakes, Hadrian was lacking a way to attain a rooster. As he continued running through the twisting maze, his foot kicked a loose rock, causing him to stop in his tracks. His breathing was heavy as he turned and picked the rock off the ground. A plan formed. He began running again, bouncing off walls, and eventually began again following the sound of the dripping.

Hadrian once again launched himself into the chamber, running through the water but ignoring the box. The basilisk was on him quickly, having turned around somehow in the maze. Hadrian shut his eyes tightly and gripped his wand. With a yell, he lashed out blindly. The basilisk, almost on top of him, screamed in pain. Hadrian opened his eyes to see that he had succeeded. The basilisk screamed and whipped its head from side to side, a large gash across its eyes and blood pouring from the wounds. The snake was blind. Hadrian ran again, causing the basilisk to focus on him. He neared one maze entrance and threw the rock down the tunnel. It crashed and rolled on the stones and Hadrian ran into the entrance of a different tunnel, holding his breath.

The snake followed the crashing and rolling, disappearing into the tunnel. Hadrian stepped out carefully, again on the balls of his feet. He moved toward the box and was only stopped by the water in the center. The sounds of the snake neared once again, speaking eerily about his smell. He decided to risk it, and began running through the water. It was further in the center than he realized and suddenly the basilisk reappeared. Hadrian and the massive serpent raced. Hadrian's pulse pounded as he wrapped himself around the box. He felt a pull at his naval as he heard the snap of a powerful and massive jaw by him.

He landed on the floor of the small room where he entered the maze with a loud crash and as he landed, he began to scream, pain ripping through his body.

A fang was lodged into his empty arm.

The basilisk bit him.

Chapter Text

Sirius sat among the crowd. Some of these people he grew up with, some of these people he was related to. After Harry had entered his task, silence began to seep in around them. It gave him time to look at them. The members of the Order were gone, driven underground or dead. What was left were Death Eaters and those who refused to pick a side. He and Remus, the only members of the Order he knew were alive, were hidden amongst the delegation sent from America. The President of MACUSA sat just above him, looking over all. Remus sat at his side and on his other side was the Headmistress of Ilvermorny. Part of him felt hatred toward her, for letting Harry participate in such a task. The rest of him, however, hated himself for not teaching Harry to hold back his skills as Hadrian, making himself the prime candidate for the school's champion.

Not far off, Voldemort sat. He was exactly as Harry had described after one of the many nightmares that woke him up in the night. Deathly pale skin, scales gleaming in the light, blood-red eyes, and a snake-like nose. The distinct blond hair at Voldemort's side belonged to none other than Lucius Malfoy. His nose was turned up at everything, staring down at everyone below him as if they didn't matter. Sirius' cousin, Narcissa, sat on Lucius' other side. Her face was pinched as if she smelled something sour. On Voldemort's other side was Bellatrix, Narcissa's sister and another cousin of Sirius. Below them, children, Harry's age and older, sat. Brilliant red hair, blond, and curly brown sat next to one another. He suspected he knew who the children were. Arthur and Molly Weasley were members of the Order before Voldemort's rise. Though they were not active in the way James and Sirius were, they still did their best with their numerous children. Bill, Charlie, and Percy were the oldest of their children. Sirius remembered when Molly had twin boys — Fred and George — who were likely the identical boys sitting before him now. Then they had Ronald, who Sirius was quickly realizing was the Hogwarts' champion. He had also heard that his cousin had a son, Draco Malfoy. He was the blond sitting with the others. Sirius didn't know who the girl with the bushy, brown hair was, but he could feel dread in his stomach.

Quiet conversation echoed around them as Sirius pulled his attention away from the life he left.

"Hadrian is quite the exceptional young man," Nyah said suddenly from his side.

"He is," Sirius answered, forcing himself back into the character he had to play. For his sake, for Remus' sake, for Harry's sake. "I just wish he wasn't competing to prolong his death."

"I agree," Nyah answered curtly. "But he will live. The others might not have."

"You have an incredible amount of faith in the tournament."

"No," Nyah's amber eyes flitted to Voldemort briefly. "But I have faith in Hadrian."

Sirius nodded, not feeling the need to say anything more.

Time went on slowly, conversation ebbing and flowing as seconds ticked by. Eventually, silence filled around them once again, as they all waited for the champions to return.

Suddenly, the air seemed to move and Harry was dropped quite dramatically onto the floor. It seemed as though the entirety of Ilvermorny moved at once, a cheer frozen on their lips. Then he screamed.

Chaos.

Harry's scream of pain was echoed by screams of despair from Ilvermorny as people pushed forward against the barrier separating them from the champions. Harry pulled a long, curved tooth from his arm, tossing it aside and gripping the bloody wound. As suddenly as the screaming started, Sirius watched him begin to fade, screams dying on his lips. His eyes began to flutter as he was fighting to keep them open.

Sirius turned, ready to expose himself to yell for Severus when he noticed Voldemort was standing too, staring down at Harry with an odd look on his face.

"Severus," The man hissed with an icy voice. 

Sirius watched as Severus practically leapt into the arena. He held a vile in his hand, filled with a clear liquid. 

"Stop fighting me," Severus muttered as Sirius and Remus pushed their way forward, crashing into the barrier which separated them from Harry. Harry's eyes flitted to them while Sirius pounded against the barrier. Remus gripped his other wrist, hoping to hold him back from doing anything stupid. 

Severus dropped the liquid on Harry's wound, and he watched as Harry stopped fighting. The wound began to heal itself, the blood drying on his arm. Harry lied there for a moment, breathing heavily as he seemed to attempt to pull himself together. Severus inspected him before again, Harry pushed him away, stronger now. He pushed himself upward, grasping the fang he removed from his arm. Harry was on his knees, holding the fang in one hand and the portkey in the other. Harry threw his arms out to his sides.


Severus pulled him back from the brink and Hadrian watched as the wound on his arm closed. Phoenix tears. He knew the moment the wound began to heal. There was only one thing that could heal a wound with basilisk venom and somehow, Severus had phoenix tears. He heard the man breathe a sigh of relief and the screaming around him began to subside. His eyes drifted from Severus to his wound before up to Sirius and Remus. Sirius' face was twisted in despair and he watched as it slowly fade, relief replacing it. Remus' face was stoic, keeping his emotions in check.

Hadrian reached out and gripped the basilisk fang in his hand, forcing Severus away from him. He gripped the box, likely holding his clue within its confines, and forced himself up onto his knees. Exhaustion threatened to pull him under, but anger forced him to stay upright.

He threw his arms outward, his eyes finding blood-red ones. Voldemort stared at him with a strange look on his face, almost amused.

"Are you not entertained?" Hadrian yelled. He used the last of his strength to push himself to his feet. "Is this not what you want? Children on the brink of death? Is this what entertains you? Is this what satisfies you?" He began spinning, looking at everyone in the room. "Is this what curbs your bloodlust?" Hadrian threw the box with the clue against the stone wall, shattering it. "My death is for your entertainment? Are you entertained yet?"

He stormed out of the pit, following the path that lead to the castle. His anger began to boil away, exhaustion taking its place. He knew the others were there when they joined him, but he couldn't hear them. Darkness swam before his eyes, the effect of the venom and eventually the tears beginning to take their toll. 

He made his way out of the castle, eventually collapsing onto the grass.


To say he was entertained by the boy was an understatement. Hadrian's confrontation with the crowd was exactly what he wanted out of him. He wanted to see him crack, he wanted the anger to boil from within the boy. It was delicious. He could feel the power of his words as he yelled, drawing shame from those who sat watching him. As the boy left, rather dramatically, he followed. He seemed unaware of his presence, though he did make more notice of his friends. That was until he reached the front of the castle. He collapsed on the grass, his black hair and uniform standing out against the green.

Voldemort moved toward Hadrian's worried friends as they shook him.

"It's the venom and its antidote." They jumped at the sound of his voice. "There's nothing to worry yourselves with." Voldemort knelt as they backed away, all but one. A girl with lapis lazuli eyes who gently stroked Hadrian's hair, but stared at him with malice. "He will be all right." Something about the girl felt familiar. He couldn't place it. But it caused him to focus on her more. "He will need to be taken to the Hospital Wing, however."

"No," The girl's voice was harsh. "We have our own healers." She nodded to a boy near them. "We will take care of him. Not you."

"Very well." Voldemort looked down at Hadrian eyeing his form. "Quite brave." He hummed before leaving them to tend to their friend.

Chapter Text

Hadrian blinked awake. Only a candle illuminated the room he was in. He was disoriented at first, unaware of where he was. He blinked into the darkness, letting his eyes adjust. The candle next to him flickered, illuminating another person just next to his bed. He pushed himself upward, leaning on his elbows in the bed. Next to him, propped rather lazily in a chair, was Gaunt, reading a book in the candlelight.

"You're awake," He said, without lifting his eyes from the pages.

"What are you doing here?" Hadrian asked, restraining the disdain in his voice. 

"That was brave of you," Gaunt's eyes still wandered the page, "Challenging the Dark Lord like that."

Hadrian didn't answer but instead stared at Gaunt. He took his chance to finally study him, up close. Gaunt's chestnut hair curled atop his head, held neatly in place. His jaw and cheekbones were sharp, framing sharp eyes. He read with such intensity that Hadrian idly wondered if the book had holes in it. Eventually, he lifted his dark eyes from his book and stared back.

"You don't value your life much, do you?"

"Maybe I just don't value the game much," Hadrian answered.

"What game?" Gaunt set his book down, giving his full attention to the other.

"This game. Living and dying for entertainment. Being a pawn for the amusement of the sick and twisted."

"Your school agreed to it along with many others." Gaunt paused. "As did you, by participating."

"I agreed because anyone else would have died. And they're not going to die for-"

"For what? Or who?" Gaunt pressed, leaning forward.

You. Hadrian thought though he didn't say it. He wouldn't let his anger get the best of him. "For Voldemort."

"For Voldemort," Gaunt repeated, amusement thick in his voice. "And you think Voldemort cruel? Sick and twisted, as you put it?"

Hadrian didn't answer. 

Gaunt started picking at the blanket covering him. "Very brave indeed." Gaunt's eyes locked with his, and Hadrian unexpectedly felt his heart quicken. "The world needs more bravery." He leaned forward. "What do you want, Hadrian?"

Revenge. He thought. "To live." He answered.

"I want you to live as well." Gaunt was closer now, practically leaning onto the bed.

Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort. His mind screamed, but Gaunt's dark eyes held his gaze.

"What do you really want?"

"Why do you think I want more?" Hadrian asked, swallowing thickly.

"Everyone wants more."

"What if I say I don't?" 

"I'd call you a liar." Gaunt continued leaning forward. "Are you a liar, Hadrian?" His voice dropped to a whisper now that he was incredibly close to Hadrian.

"Yes," Hadrian breathed.

Gaunt smiled. It was a wicked, terrifying smile that held many secrets and terrifying thoughts behind it.

Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort.

He was so close; Hadrian could see the small flecks of gold in his eyes. 

"What do you really want?" Hadrian asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

"You know what I want." Gaunt's voice was low and gravely. But he pushed himself away, grabbing his book as he stood. "I'm glad you survived the venom. And that you woke from the antidote. The game would be incredibly boring without you."


Cordelia snuck out of her room, making her way toward the infirmary within the carriage. The rest of the carriage had fallen asleep hours ago, but still, she waited to be sure. She tiptoed as she walked, trying not to wake the others when a figure passed in front of the light. Cordelia hid in the shadows, wondering who else was awake at this hour. A tall man walked toward the front of the carriage, pausing just briefly to look back over his shoulder.

Dark eyes flashed in the dim lamplight and a snake-like smile spread over a handsome face.

Gaunt.

He opened the door of the carriage and stepped out into the night. Cordelia ran, not caring if anyone heard her. She burst into the infirmary, finding Hadrian sitting up in bed looking relatively unharmed. He stared at the blanket on his bed as if it puzzled him until he heard her practically crash into the room. His emerald eyes looked up at her first with confusion, then with relief. He pushed himself upward and she launched herself at him, suddenly wrapped in strong arms. She buried her face into his shoulder while he tightened his grip on her.

"I'm sorry I scared you." He whispered into her hair.

"I know." She answered. 

He pulled her more into his lap, hoping to make her more comfortable. She curled around him as he dropped himself back on the pillow. He gently stroked her hair as they lied there, wrapped in each other's arms. A candle flickered next to Hadrian's bed, illuminating half his face.

"I thought I lost you," She whispered.

"I'm hard to kill," Hadrian said. "Trust me."

"I do."

Hadrian pulled the blanket out from under her and wrapped it around them both. Cordelia rested her head on his shoulder.

"I hope you don't mind if I fall asleep," Hadrian said under a muffled yawn. 

"Sleep. We can talk in the morning." Cordelia shifted herself on the bed, realizing that Hadrian wasn't letting her go.

"Gaunt was here," Hadrian whispered, his voice filled with exhaustion. 

"Gaunt?" She asked.

"He wanted something."

Cordelia thought for a moment. "What did he want?"

But Hadrian didn't answer. Instead, his deep breathing was her only answer, signifying he had fallen asleep. Cordelia curled further into his grasp and closed her eyes, falling asleep too. 

When she woke, she had rolled to the other side with Hadrian's arm hanging over her waist. He was breathing softly behind her. She gently lifted his arm and set it down on the bed. She pushed herself from the bed and rubbed at her eyes. Hadrian rolled onto the spot she once occupied. He looked much younger without the ever-present worry on his face. He rested his head on the arm he tore the fang from, a perfect circular scar visible in the light of the morning. She stretched before running her fingers over the scar. The day before ran through her mind. Hadrian falling through the air. Pulling the fang out of his arm. His screams. The look on Voldemort's face. Hadrian's speech. Hadrian's fall. The way Voldemort focused on her. 

"You're thinking too loud." 

Her eyes flew to his face. He peaked at her from under wild hair, which fell across his face. He reached up and gently took her hand before bringing it to his lips, kissing it lightly.

"You're so sweet." She said. "But you're also the pot calling the kettle black."

"It's my job to think loudly," He pushed himself up on his newly scarred arm. "Not yours."

"And why do you have to bear the weight of the world?" 

"So, you don't have to." He pulled her closer before kissing her forehead. "Come. I suspect we have a long day ahead of us. And my impulses have brought about hardship for the future."

The two of them stood. Hadrian swayed slightly. She moved around the bed and lifted his arm around her shoulders. They said nothing as they walked to his room, far from the infirmary. The others were stirring in their own rooms as Hadrian pushed the door open to his and pulled her inside with him. He dropped his arm from her shoulders as she shut the door. But he didn't move. Instead, he stared at something on his bed. Cordelia turned to see what he was looking at, finding a simple wood box placed in the middle of his bed. He didn't look at her as he neared it, picking it up carefully as though it might hurt him.

He opened it and suddenly a hissing filled the room.

Come and seek us, come and find us. An hour long you'll have to look, to find that which is most precious and we took. Come and seek us, come and find us. For safekeeping, we have stolen that which matters most. Remember to breathe, if you can.

It was a music box, Cordelia realized, enchanted to sing when opened.

"It's you." Hadrian still had his back to her. He put the box down.

"What's me?"

"That which is most precious," He said. "It's you." He turned and sat on the bed. "You were my first friend. Nicholas and Carlos and Alexander followed, but you were first. I was alone until I met you. And then I found I shared a secret with you even when you didn't know it. I entered this tournament for you. I'd rather die than watch you die instead."

Cordelia moved closer to him.

"It's love, but it's not." 

"I know what it is Hadrian." She pushed the box out of the way and sat next to him. "I have loved you for years. But I'd rather marry Nicholas."

Hadrian laughed, loudly. He pulled her close to him. "I better be your maid of honor."

"Don't worry, you will be."

Hadrian dressed quickly and Cordelia looked around his room. Hadrian was always very private and idly Cordelia wondered how many people had been in his room. She had, a few times, but mostly it was to drag Hadrian out of it or to solve whatever puzzle he busied himself with. Everything was neatly in place, with his owl watching over everything. Her round eyes blinked at her as she continued to look around.

She heard him move closer to her as she looked at a picture of him with his fathers.

"Last night you said Gaunt was with you."

"He was." She could feel his breath on her neck.

"What did he want?"

"Me."

Chapter Text

Sirius walked hand-in-hand with Remus as Hadrian idly pointed out various aspects of the castle to them. Various facts about the castle tumbled from Hadrian's mouth, but he knew his fathers were more occupied with their nostalgia than the barrage of facts he had accumulated over years of study. Still, he pointed out various things, never letting the ever-growing cloud of sadness behind him slow him down. Part of him knew it would happen. Remus and Sirius had grown close with Harry's parents, long before he ever became Hadrian. He lead them toward the Great Hall as students milled about and professors kept a watchful eye. Hadrian idly pointed out the suits of armor decorating their path when someone abruptly entered his. His eyes moved from the artwork to the professor blocking his path.

Gaunt's handsome face twisted into a smile. His dark eyes focused on Hadrian and the rest of the world seemed to melt away.

"It's nice to see you on your feet. I was worried." Gaunt folded his hands behind his back.

"I doubt you were worried for me," Hadrian answered, attempting to push past him. Gaunt, however, stepped in his path.

"Then what would I be worried about?"

"Being bored," Hadrian answered. 

"While I admit the tournament would be less interesting without you, I told you once already I want the most interesting person to win." Gaunt stepped closer. "And you know I already find you interesting." His eyes searched Hadrian's before looking over his shoulder. "These must be your fathers." Gaunt gracefully moved around him to greet Sirius and Remus. "Professor Thomas Gaunt." He extended a hand.

"Orion," Sirius answered, glancing from Gaunt to Hadrian. "This is my husband Atlas." 

"Professor Gaunt is the Defense Professor at Hogwarts." Hadrian caught Sirius' eye and a silent exchange passed between them. 

"Your son is quite an exceptional young man."

"Thank you," Remus answered curtly. Hadrian knew something about Gaunt was bothering Remus, but the worst of it would never cross his mind. Unknowingly, Sirius and Remus were face to face with the man who killed their best friends. 

"Come," Gaunt gestured to them. "Walk with me. Someone who knows Hogwarts should be your guide." Gaunt's eyes flitted to Hadrian and a small, sly smile crossed his face. Hadrian, in return, smiled back. 

"My apologies, Professor. But I haven't seen my fathers in some time and seeing as how they might watch me die, I think it's best I spent all the time with them I can."

Gaunt's attention turned away from Sirius and Remus, what little he gave them. He focused completely on Hadrian, stepping closer to him.

"And what makes you think you're allowed to die?"

Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort.

Hadrian smirked. "I'm the only one who decides what I'm allowed to do."

"Indeed." Gaunt's eyes flitted between Hadrian's before something over Hadrian's shoulder caught his attention. "Headmistress." He greeted. Hadrian turned, following Gaunt's greeting to Professor McGonagall. 

The Hogwarts' headmistress stepped down from the stairs she was on and moved closer to the group unwitting gathering in the hall. 

"Professor Gaunt." McGonagall tipped her head in greeting. "Mr. Black." She greeted Hadrian.

"Professor." Hadrian greeted. 

McGonagall looked toward Remus and Sirius. "Might I steal you away from Professor Gaunt and have a word with the three of you?"

Remus and Sirius nodded, though they both were tense. They followed McGonagall but Hadrian didn't move. Instead, he turned to Gaunt, whose eyes found him once again.

"Professor."

"Hadrian."

He quickly caught up with the others, leaving Gaunt smirking after him. 

They were silent the whole way to the Headmistress' office. Hadrian's eyes flitted around, looking at the various portraits and statues along the way. It wasn't until the door shut behind Hadrian that anyone spoke. 

"What were you thinking coming here?" McGonagall's voice was sharp, causing Hadrian to jump. Her eyes flitted between Sirius and Remus. "It's bad enough you let him come here." She gestured to Hadrian. "Spitting image of his father. Then you two show up. You're lucky Bellatrix and Narcissa didn't recognize you." She threw a hand toward Sirius. "You kept him safe all these years and now-" She paused. "And now you throw yourself into this tournament and right under the nose of him."

"But Professor," Hadrian said before he could stop himself. "He doesn't have a nose."

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Sirius attempt to hold back a laugh and Remus shook his head.

"Spitting image of his father!" McGonagall huffed before moving behind her desk. "You know very well what I mean. I saw how you ran that first night in the Great Hall. I did follow you."

"Gaunt," Hadrian said, and McGonagall confirmed. 

"Yes. He is Gaunt."

"I know."

"Are you saying that V-" The look on McGonagall's face stopped Sirius from completing the word. "That You-Know-Who is Gaunt? That Gaunt is You-Know-Who? And you know?" Sirius gestured to Hadrian. 

"Of course, I know. Severus knows."

"Severus?" McGonagall asked.

"Why did you stop him from saying his name?"

McGonagall blinked at Hadrian with his sudden change of direction.

"You stopped him from saying V-" McGonagall glared at him. "Why?"

"There's a Taboo on the name. It was meant to track down any Order members. The Order members were notorious for being unafraid of his name which allowed them to be tracked down via a Taboo." McGonagall said.

"And why are you working with him?" Hadrian asked, purposely sounding nonchalant. McGonagall evaluated him. "Well, you were a member of the Order yourself, were you not? Dumbledore appointed you to your position himself. So why are you working with him?'

McGonagall sighed. "I'm not. Not willingly." Hadrian moved closer; his curiosity piqued. "He killed the man I loved in front of me and threatened the rest of my family." She sighed. As she spoke, Remus and Sirius both moved closer. "Once I thought I heard news of Dumbledore. I tried to warn him, tried to get a message to him. But he stopped me. He found the Muggle boy I once loved. He tortured him and returned him to me in pieces."

"Then you understand why I never said anything to you, or anyone, that I knew who Gaunt was." Hadrian moved away from her desk to evaluate the room. "I have too many people I care about. Too many lives at stake if I make one wrong move."

"You could have told us," Remus said, his voice calmer than Hadrian knew he felt.

Hadrian didn't answer, knowing it wouldn't be productive. Instead, he sighed. 

"I have a task to prepare for." He turned and left before anyone could stop him. 

He rubbed his hand over his face and felt his arm being pulled away from his face as he did. 

"You didn't seem too happy about being dragged away by the Headmistress." Gaunt was next to him yet again. Together, they walked through the castle.

Hadrian huffed. "That's one way to put it."

"Might I ask what you talked about?" Gaunt seemed nonchalant, but Hadrian knew what he was trying to do. He didn't trust McGonagall. 

"She said she was meeting with all the champion's parents. Being the Headmistress of the host school, she said it was the right thing to do." 

Gaunt hummed and as Hadrian tried to turn away to leave, he caught him. "Keep your casual face and come with me." Gaunt's voice didn't change, but his posture did. 

Hadrian followed as the other lead him through the castle until they were in the Defense classroom. Gaunt shut the door behind him and as he moved past Hadrian, their shoulders brushed. 

"The next task is coming up," Gaunt said, no longer looking at him.

"What do you want?" Hadrian asked, unwilling to play the game they had been. 

"I want you to tell me what you've been hiding."

"Why do you care?" Hadrian folded his arms across his chest.

"I find you interesting Hadrian." Gaunt wound his way back to him. "But I know there are secrets in that brilliant head of yours." Gaunt leveled him. "I want to know them."

"Why? You have hundreds of students here. Why focus on me?"

Voldemort. Voldemort. Voldemort.

"Because you remind me of someone." Gaunt caught his chin.

Hadrian's heart pounded in his chest. He tried to back away but Gaunt moved with him. His back collided with the door behind him and Gaunt's other hand pressed against the door, trapping him. Dark eyes searched him as fear and something else he didn't want to evaluate raced through his veins. 

"I'll admit," Gaunt's voice was low. "I haven't been this interested in someone in quite some time. I'm fascinated."

Gaunt's mouth descended on his before Hadrian knew what was happening. He reacted, though not in the way he thought. His arms wrapped around the man, pulling him closer before he could stop himself. The kiss was consuming, drawing every breath from Hadrian's body. When he finally released him, Gaunt's eyes were blown wide with lust. Hadrian's senses seemed to return to him and he pushed himself away.

"What are you doing?" He demanded. Gaunt offered a terrifying smile before he finally moved away from the door and toward his desk. 

"Testing a theory." Hadrian moved toward the door, his hand on the handle, hoping to escape before Gaunt's voice caught him once again. "You know who I am, don't you, Hadrian?"

Hadrian turned slightly, looking over his shoulder at the man now sitting behind his desk.

"Voldemort."

Chapter Text

Hadrian paced along the length of his room. Cordelia and Nicholas occupied his bed and chair respectively, while Hadrian continued along his well-worn path. The clue sat on his desk, untouched since the day Hadrian had figured out the clue to the third task. He would have to find Cordelia in the Black Lake and return to the surface before any of the other champions.

He learned from Ron that the Mahoutokoro champion had been the eliminated champion, returning last after a battle with a Sphinx.

The fewer champions there were to compete, the worse the tasks would become. While he studied everything he could about the lake, there was still much unknown about the lake. Gaunt has confirmed the existence of the squid, and his research had led him to conclude that there were merpeople as well. But what else hid under the surface remained to be seen. Hadrian and Nicholas both spent a moment in the lake, but that was only a moment and near the surface. Anything he experienced would pale in comparison to the depths of the lake.

But the third task was far from his mind in this moment. Idly, he rubbed the scar on his arm as he paced. He knew both his friends followed the movement, but he could hardly bring himself to care. There were more important things than lakes and tournaments.

“So, tell me again,” Nicholas began. “Gaunt just kissed you?”

“He said he was testing a theory.” Hadrian continued his pacing. His blue robes billowed behind him with every step, flaring outward at his every turn.

“What theory?” Cordelia asked.

Hadrian sighed. It was the very question that plagued him for days. He thought back to the moment, everything that led up to it, everything that followed. He remembered his own, inexplicable reaction to Gaunt’s kiss, the need he felt to pull the man closer. Does he know who I am? The thought plagued him more than anything. Thomas Gaunt was Voldemort and Hadrian Black was Harry Potter. As far as he knew, he held all the pieces and all his opponent knew was that he was aware of the other’s identity. But there were more secrets and more identities hidden in the depths of Hadrian’s mind. He lingered over the moment before the thoughts finally clicked in his mind.

He wanted to know if I would react to his kiss. He wanted to know if I lusted for him.

An idea began to form in his mind. A terrible, brilliant idea.

Nicholas looked at his watch. "I should go find Carlos. He'll want to know about this, and check on you again."

Hadrian nodded, only half listening. Thoughts swirled around his mind as pieces formed and put themselves into place. The door opened and closed before Cordelia dragged him from his thoughts. 

"The theory he was testing, it was to see if you wanted him like he wanted you, wasn't it?" Hadrian said nothing, which she took as a confirmation. "What exactly happened during that kiss?" 

He sighed. "I wish I could explain. I wish I could tell you what went on in that moment but not even I know." He ran a hand through his hair. "It was like I was drawn to him. Like something else took over." 

Cordelia nodded. "Well, he is a good looking man. If you trusted him, that is."

Hadrian rolled his eyes. "He's-" But he cut himself off. The taboo, Cordelia's relationship to him, the danger everyone he cared about was in. It all rushed at him at once, stopping him. "He's not a good man," Hadrian said finally. 

Cordelia merely hummed.


Hadrian stood at the edge of the lake. The depths taunted him as Cordelia was down there, somewhere. The water rippled slightly in the breeze but Hadrian turned his eyes away. Instead, he found Voldemort who was watching him intently. Hadrian scanned the crowd before his eyes returned to the man. He offered a wink and a slight smirk before the cannon went off and Hadrian plunged into the depths. 

The water was freezing, almost taking away his ability to think. Almost. He cast the Bubble Head Charm, allowing him to breathe, before casting a warming charm over his skin. Next, he lit the water in front of him, illuminating his way, and his alone. He began swimming, pushing further into the lake. The lake was dark, his light the only thing standing between him and the pitch black around him. He felt the water move through his hair and over his skin as he swam before pausing in front of a large patch of kelp. The lake was too small for an ocean plant, meaning it was placed here and something wanted it. Carefully, he began to weave his way through. Creatures skittered past him in the brush and his heart began to race. He pushed forward, coming out the other side rather explosively. He continued forward, swimming in darkness.

Creatures of all shapes and sizes rushed around him. He continued forward knowing that somewhere, Cordelia sat and her time was running out. 

The lake bottom began to slope and he followed it only to come across a massive squid in its depths. 

The squid eyed him, its massive tentacles flitting in every direction. He took a chance, moving closer to the squid. It watched him in an almost human way.

"Do you know where they're keeping them?" Hadrian asked. 

The squid sat still for a moment before one of its massive tentacles pointed in the direction he was going. 

"Thank you!" He called as he kicked forward, feeling the eyes of the squid follow him. 

A shape began to form in the distance and as he moved closer, he began to make out the shape of a castle. Merpeople. He thought. He continued forward as other shapes began to form. Bodies. Five of them, one for each champion. He finally reached them, scanning over their faces. He recognized two. Cordelia, the person he was set to rescue, and a blond boy with sharp features. Draco Malfoy, the son of Ron's captors. Quickly, he slashed the rope tied to Cordelia's foot and wrapped one of his arms through hers before he looked again at the other faces. None of the other champions had arrived yet, and though there would be precautions in place in case one of the champions failed, for a long moment he pondered. Should he wait, and make certain they were all saved, or continue on?

He turned and looked at Cordelia, wondering what she would advise. 

Movement in the distance secured his answer as he pushed toward the surface, hauling Cordelia with him. As he ascended, he felt the weight of Cordelia more and more, the buoyancy of the water having less and less affect. He broke the surface, gasping for air and Cordelia along with him. She clung to him, fear apparent in her eyes. 

"I have you." He whispered against her ear. "I have you."

"Don't let me go." She whispered back, her breathing becoming more and more even. Together they pushed toward the dock and held her in front of him as people offered their hands to help her up. He pulled himself upward as another broke the surface. 

The Durmstrang champion threw his fist in the air as a younger girl clung to him.

"That's his sister," Cordelia whispered in his ear.

"Did some digging on the other champions did you?" Hadrian asked, idly amused.

"Of course. I had to know who you were competing against."

Hadrian smiled as Nicholas, Carlos, and Alexander descended on them. Ron came up next, his arm draped over the back of Draco Malfoy. Draco waved at the crowd and Hadrian moved to help the two up. Draco's grey eyes scanned him skeptically before he took Hadrian's hand. Hadrian hauled him upward and Ron after him. Gabrielle appeared not long after and he began to realize this was the first task in which he could see the rankings as they formed. 

Hadrian was certain after the announced the rankings, and the elimination of the Uagadou champion, Gaea; they would be free to go. However, Voldemort himself stood and a silence fell over the crowd. 

"The remainder of the champions will receive their clues for the next task. However, all champions will be present for the next event. Not a task, no." He paused, his crimson eyes scanning over everyone. "Our next task will be the Yule Ball! Choose your companion's wisely, champions." Voldemort's eyes landed on Hadrian. "You will be the first to dance."

Hadrian repressed a grin. Perfect.

Chapter Text

Hadrian walked across the grounds. Snow had begun to fall, painting the entire castle white. He looked up, seeing towers and bridges cloaked in the white blanket of snow. In the distance, the mountains and hills curved effortlessly, snow caking the rock faces. It made him ache for home. In another lifetime, this would be his home. He would have grown up wandering the halls of Hogwarts, likely breaking rules and earning more than his fair share of detentions, but it would have been at Hogwarts. In this life, though, he grew up at Ilvermorny. The sea of green that surrounded the Ilvermorny Castle and in the winter, the green and white stood out against the brilliant blue of the sky; that was his home. His heart ached for it. For the rolling hills and brilliant trees. He wanted the snakewood and its twisting and turning branches.

The snow crunched underfoot as he walked. He continued along the length of the lake, watching the surface ripple as various creatures moved through its waters.

He knew he stood out against the snow, anyone needing to find him merely had to look for cranberry in a sea of white and they would find him. But for the most part, he was left alone. His owl dove in and out of the trees across the lake, coming back to him every now and then to check on him. Small Bluebell Flames spun around him, warming him in the cold.

“You look awfully lonely out here.”

Hadrian didn’t turn to address the speaker but kept looking out over the lake. “I like the quiet.”

“Oh, I can leave.”

“No.” Hadrian finally looked at Alexander. “You seem like you could use the quiet too.”

The other nodded. “There’s so many voices, so many languages. It gets overwhelming. But you’re so still. Quiet. I never hear your thoughts; I’m never overwhelmed by what must be a storm brewing in your mind.”

Hadrian smiled slightly. “I taught myself Occlumency early in my life. Can’t let everyone know all my secrets.”

Alexander studies him. “Yes.” He said after a moment. “It’s your secrets that worry me.” He followed Hadrian’s gaze over the lake. “You’re going to get us all killed.”

Hadrian sighed. But rather than answer, he turned and continued along the length of the lake. Alexander followed him and together they walked further away from the castle. Cleopatra hooted, flying circles over his head. They continued through the snow in silence, the frozen water crunching under their feet. Alexander fell in step easily next to Hadrian as they walked. The castle became ever smaller behind them as they moved further and further from its looming shadow and the shadows of those within.

"You're right. My secrets could kill you. I could get you killed." Hadrian and Alexander were far from the castle, and prying ears, as they continued along the massive lake. Hadrian put a ward around them after they stopped, the two facing each other in the falling snow. "I'm not here for a tournament, or for glory. I'm here for revenge. And you're going to help me get it. You all are."

"How am I going to help you? What do you want from me?" Alexander eyed him warily.

"I want you to tell me what you've heard so far. The secrets of the castle and those within. And then," Hadrian paused. "I want you to run when I tell you to and not a moment sooner."


Hadrian stood in front of a large, blank wall on the seventh floor of Hogwarts castle. To him, it made no sense. Every other wall in the castle was covered from top to bottom in pictures, except this one. He touched the wall, letting his fingers drift over the surface. He had read stories of a room within the castle, a room where things were hidden and the room itself along with them. The students and professors thought about it, Alexander confirmed as much. Hadrian thought about the room behind the wall, of his need to enter. His pacing was not for nothing as he turned for the fourth time and the wall began to shift into a door. He grinned and pushed his way through the fully formed door. He entered and the door shut behind him, sealing him inside.

Stacks rose toward the ceiling, filled with odd trinkets and knickknacks and furniture. He could barely see the top of their tops. He walked into the room, wary of each step he took. 

"There's something hidden within the walls of Hogwarts," Alexander said. "Something that scares everyone who knows about it. But I don't know what it is. It's as if the very object was erased from their minds."

Hadrian walked deeper into the maze of the room, examining the objects around him. He paused at a large cabinet, reaching out and letting his fingers graze over its surface before pulling his hand back quickly.

"A vanishing cabinet." He whispered. He had heard of them; he knew their existence and their uses. But this one was hidden away within the depths of Hogwarts. It was useless here. He turned away from it, letting out a sigh when a whisper drew him. Quiet whispers beckoned him and he followed. Through the winding stacks, he eventually found the source. The box itself was innate. There was nothing outwardly special about it. It was a plain wooden box and nothing about it would cause anyone to give it a second glance. Anyone, except Hadrian. The whispering continued, beckoning him to open the box.

He obeyed.

Within the box, a small crown set with a deep sapphire jewel in the center. The whispering grew louder and Hadrian felt himself reaching for it. Louder and louder the whispers grew, and closer and closer Hadrian's fingers came until flesh met metal.

His scar exploded. He felt himself fall to the ground, pain ripping through him, but something else as well.

Well, well. A voice whispered; a high, snake-like voice. This is quite interesting.

Hadrian gasped as his body turned of its own accord.

He cannot see you, but I can. I can see your heart, your soul, your mind. I know who you are, Harry Potter.

His emotions spun as fear ripped through him, followed by darkness.

When he awoke, he found himself still clutching the other horcrux in his hand. It hissed and whispered, though lower than before and much more soothing. The horcrux wanted out, it wanted freedom. And it wanted to expose him. 

Hadrian pushed himself upward, forcing his body to move. He quickly shoved the horcrux back into its box and ran from the castle. He pushed past other students, who called for him, asking where he had been. But he kept running and he ran until he was safely within the confines of his room.

He pulled apart his belongs, throwing objects here and there until he finally found the safest place he could. He warded it as much as he could. Then he covered it, warding even the coverings. It took only a little magic to put his room back in order before he collapsed on his bed, sleep overtaking him.


Hadrian stood in front of the other champions with Cordelia at his side. His dress robes were an emerald green and hers were silver. Together they were the colors of the Hogwarts' Slytherin house, and Hadrian laughed at the irony of the situation. They were snakes, hiding in plain sight. One of Slytherin's heirs and a Slytherin heir horcrux. Since Hadrian was currently leading in the tournament, he would be the first to enter. Ron was immediately behind him. Hadrian had met Ron's date briefly, a Muggleborn named Hermione. She had been given to the Malfoys, much as Ron himself had. Both were raised under the Malfoy roof and Draco, the Malfoy heir, was raised with them. Hadrian briefly prodded their minds, looking for where their loyalties lied. Having a spy within the Malfoy house could help him immensely, as Voldemort was not the only person Hadrian wanted for revenge. 

Their minds were carefully blocked, but not fully. Emotions still slipped through the cracks. Contempt, anger, hatred. These emotions he could use. They felt no love toward their captors, but what would they think of him? 

The doors began to open and Hadrian forced himself back into the moment. He offered his arm and Cordelia took it. She stood regally, her blonde hair braided behind her head and make-up accentuating her lapis lazuli eyes. Her arm was wrapped carefully through his. They walked in step as they began to move into the Great Hall. The hall was decorated in silver and white with a massive tree in the background, covered in ornaments. Snowflakes fell from the ceiling, dusting the shoulders of all inside, only to vanish the next instant. Nyah was dressed in a long blue gown, which revealed her Thunderbird tattoo. Hadrian and Cordelia turned and stopped, near Nyah. He offered a slight bow to their headmistress before he focused his eyes on Cordelia again.

The other champions littered the dance floor around them and together, they moved toward their partners. Hadrian wrapped Cordelia in his arms, and she grasped him tightly.

"I still say this would have been more entertaining with Nicholas," Cordelia muttered as they started their dance. 

"Perhaps, but then who would you and Carlos dance with?" He placed his hands under her arms, lifting her gently before he brought her back to the ground and they spun. 

They danced in silence as more and more joined them on the floor, bodies twisting and turning and lifted into the air. The song shifted, from one to another, and as the dance continued, Cordelia was ripped from his arms, and replaced with another. 

Gaunt grinned at him as they lost themselves within the dancing crowd. His outfit was simplistic compared to the extravagance of the clothing around him. He wore black pants and a neatly tucked in black shirt. The two of them fought for control of the dance, spinning this way and that to force the other into submission. Everyone else seemed to fade away, as Hadrian and Gaunt locked themselves into a duel for dominance. Their eyes were locked together as much as their bodies. They spun and spun and spun right off the dance floor and away from the rest of the world. They were alone in the hall and Gaunt forced him against the wall, gripping one of his hands and pinning it to the wall while the other gripped one of his hips. His dark eyes were blazing as he stared at Hadrian, his breath heavy against Hadrian's cheek.

"There he is," Hadrian whispered. He leaned his head forward until his lips were close to the other's. "But which face is your real one?" 

"Would you like to know?" Gaunt asked, his voice low and husky.

"Yes," Hadrian whispered.

Gaunt's mouth crashed into his and Hadrian pulled him closer. He felt the pull of apparition and suddenly he felt something else collide with his back. A wooden door. They hadn't gone far; he could see as he looked over Gaunt's shoulder that they were still within the confines of the castle. Gaunt's teeth and lips dragged over his neck and he shuddered.

The door behind him was pushed open and Hadrian through it. The other guided him until he felt the edge of a bed hit the back of his knees. Together, they collapsed onto the rather cushioned surface behind him. Gaunt ground against him as Hadrian wrapped a leg around the other's waist. They turned, fighting again for dominance as they had on the dance floor. Their bodies ground together in another dance. A dance that was getting far too difficult with clothing on. Gaunt, however, saw that as less than a problem as his hands tore away Hadrian's clothing. Strands of fabric fell to the floor as Hadrian's chest was exposed to the air. Hadrian was far less violent, pulling Gaunt's black shirt over his head. Teeth found flesh as they continued their less than graceful dance against one another, ever fighting for control. They pulled at the other's pants, freeing themselves only to be trapped by the other. And still, they fought. 

Hadrian sunk his teeth into Gaunt's shoulder, listening to the moan that followed and he knew then and there that his plan was working. They continued to move against one another, neither yielding control, though Gaunt tried to make him. He grasped Hadrian in his hand, pumping as he did. 

"Give in and I'll give you more." He whispered.

But Hadrian merely smiled. He pushed the man onto his back and grinding against him. Their lips crashed together again as their bodies followed suit. They ground against each other, taking pleasure in their fight. Gaunt's nails ran down Hadrian's back as again, Hadrian's teeth sunk into the man's flesh. They moaned in unison as the pleasure built between them. The friction of skin on skin drove him mad until it drove them both over the edge. Hadrian gasped, his body falling against Gaunt's. Both breathed heavily as pleasure began to fade. Hadrian took several steadying breaths, before pushing himself off the bed. 

He quickly fixed his clothes and cleaned himself before dressing. On the bed behind him, Gaunt sat up, watching his every move.

"That was fun," Hadrian said, putting himself back together. Gaunt raised an eyebrow. "Let's do it again some time."

And Hadrian left the room. He found himself in the Defense classroom and began walking toward the front of the castle. Cordelia met him along the way and together, they left the castle and the ball behind.

"So?" Cordelia prompted. "Did it work?"

"Perfectly," Hadrian answered with a smirk.

Chapter Text

Voldemort strolled through the castle, a wand twirling between his fingers. If Ollivander was to be believed, this wand once belonged to Salazar Slytherin himself. He twirled it between his fingers. It was snakewood with a basilisk horn core. The wand itself was inactive. The last known owner of the wand was Isolt Sayre, the niece of Gormlaith Gaunt. He was vaguely aware of the story, having read up on it before the arrival of the students from the school Isolt had founded. He knew that Gormlaith inactivated the wand when she attacked her niece. The wand itself had been buried on the campus and where it was thought to have achieved its final resting place. Yet here it was, across the ocean and in his hands. 

He continued his walk, passing various portraits as he went. He knew exactly where he was headed, a place he had found when he was still a student. Hidden within the depths of the castle were the portraits of the founders. The four of them bickered constantly but were quiet for long enough when someone approached to speak with them. He stood back for a moment, watching and listening as Slytherin and Gryffindor argued. As a student, Voldemort had found the place when hiding from his Slytherin counterparts. Everyone, himself included, had thought him Muggleborn which had not pleased the others within his house. It wasn't until his fourth year that he learned about his true family. But until then, he would often hide here, with the portraits of the founders. They told him the secrets of Hogwarts, including where to find the Room of Requirement. 

It was Rowena who first noticed him, her eyes locking with his. The rest noticed not long after, walking between portraits to see who was there. Voldemort entered the small area, leaning against the only unused wall. It was a curved room with a small window. Rowena and Helena sat on either side of the window. Salazar was on the wall next to Rowena and directly across from him and next to Helena was Godric. The curvature of the room allowed them all to look at whoever entered, and allowed that person to see them all. His eyes ran over each of them before finally resting on Slytherin himself. Voldemort's hands were folded behind his back, hiding the wand as well.

"Very few people know where we are," Rowena said, eyeing him. 

"And here I am." Voldemort threw his arms out to the sides, revealing the wand. The movement was planned, calculated, and four pairs of eyes followed it. He brought the wand in closer, running it through his fingers. "Does this look familiar?"

"Yes," Salazar answered before pulling an identical wand from his robes. "It's mine."

So, the old man wasn't lying. Voldemort thought.

"It was passed down to my children. And their children after that. I never knew what became of the wand." Salazar continued as he stroked his long, white beard. "I assumed it still belonged to my heirs until one appeared without it." Grey eyes narrowed at him. "Until you appeared without it. And without my locket." Voldemort's eyes dropped to the locket hanging around the man's neck. "Or my ring." Salazar continued, running his fingers over the black stone sitting firmly on his finger. 

"I found two of them. The locket and the ring. They're safe." Voldemort held the wand up to examine. "But your wand." He rolled it between his fingers. "It was taken to America, or the New World as it was then called. Your heirs fought each other and the wand was made inactive. It was buried and grew a snakewood tree."

The grounds are expansive, with a massive snakewood tree that shimmers in the moonlight. Hadrian had unknowingly confirmed the fate of the wand during his reminiscing of the place he called home.

"And now you have found my wand," Salazar said.

"No," Voldemort answered, still focused on the wand. "No, the wand found me."

"Found you?" Rowena asked. 

"It appeared in my office one day. In a glow of golden light and then it was there." His eyes finally turned to Salazar. "Why?"

"That is an intriguing question." He continued to stroke his beard. "If what you say is true, and the wand was made inactive and buried, then someone must have dug it up. But why it didn't come to you afterward is the interesting part." Salazar's grey eyes focused on him intently.

"There's another heir," Godric said, his voice taut. His green eyes focused on Voldemort who was immediately reminded of another pair of green eyes and the way they looked when he was focused or heavy with pleasure. Godric continued speaking. "It is the only logical answer. If the wand didn't come to an heir, it's because it was with another. There is another heir of Slytherin." He turned toward Salazar and the two of them locked eyes.

Voldemort knew there would be no further conversation with the portraits. The moment Godric and Salazar focused on one another, it was as if the rest of the world melted away. Eventually, they would bicker again, but always before there was a sadness that filled the space between them. Voldemort slipped from the room unnoticed. 

It was after dark and the castle was readying for sleep. As he walked, the moon shone through the windows, lighting the world as the snow shone under it. Stars twinkled in the sky and the slight murmur of portraits echoed softly within the stone halls. He strode through the castle, passing Severus along the way. The man bowed slightly before continuing onward along his patrol. It was customary for professors to patrol the castle at night to ensure there were no students out of bed. Voldemort continued along his path as he moved through the lower levels of the castle, toward the Great Hall. Tomorrow, the students who wanted to leave for home would and the castle would empty. As he neared the Great Hall, he could hear the echo of voices. Intrigued, he followed them to their source. 

Hadrian walked through the snow, arm in arm with the girl with lapis lazuli eyes. Both were dressed unusually from their normal attire. Hadrian wore all black, his shirt neatly tucked in under his black jacket. The girl wore a thick, silver dress over high silver boots. They were locked in intense conversation. Neither noticed him at first which allowed him to near as close as he dared. It wasn't a surprise to him that Hadrian noticed him first. In the middle of his sentence, he stopped abruptly, emerald eyes settling on Voldemort. The girl looked puzzled until her eyes followed his only to harden at the very sight of him. 

Voldemort opened his mouth to speak when the wand in his hand began to glow again. Slowly, it pulled itself from his grasp and moved through the air. The golden glow illuminated the snow until it landed right in the hand of the girl was the lapis lazuli eyes.


"I'm going to take a walk." Hadrian declared to no one in particular. He stood, brushing himself off before turning toward Cordelia. "Come with me." He offered his arm. She rolled her eyes and took it. He lead them from the room and then from the carriage altogether. The snow crunched underfoot as they walked. They were silent for a time before Hadrian finally broke the silence.

"What do you know of taboos?" He asked. 

"Taboos?" Cordelia asked and he nodded. "I know they're meant to track anyone who says a particular word. I don't know how they are made though. The magic is incredibly complex and it takes a skilled witch or wizard to even get it to work. It's mind magic too, taking one's intent into account as they say it. For instance, if I were to just say the name Hadrian, and the taboo was on your name, it wouldn't recognize it. But if I say Hadrian referring to you, then the taboo would recognize it. Why?"

"I don't think taboos work here or outside of the country. There's a taboo on the Dark Lord's name." The two shared a knowing and mischievous look as they continued along their path. "I've said Voldemort both back home and here and yet, no one had come to investigate."

"I understand why it wouldn't work at home. But why not here?"

"Because Voldemort is here."

Much to her credit, Cordelia didn't stop walking. The likelihood that they were being watched meant that they need to be wary of every step they took. 

"Where is he? Or who is he?" 

Hadrian opened his mouth to answer only to shut it and stop abruptly. A movement in the shadows caught his attention and he followed it only to find the very person he was talking about standing not far from them. Cordelia gave him a curious look and followed his gaze, her face hardening as she saw what he did. Gaunt stepped closer, the formation of a thought ready on his lips when the wand he was holding began to glow. Fear ran through Hadrian's veins as it lifted into the air and moved toward Cordelia. It was the most terrifying seconds of his life as the wand landed directly in her hand. 

"Gaunt," Hadrian muttered, anger apparent in his voice. 

"Well, well. What do we have here?" Gaunt strolled casually toward them as Hadrian moved protectively in front of Cordelia.

"Cordi, run. And don't stop no matter what." His eyes were fixed on the man in front of him. Cordelia gripped his arm in protest. "Go!" He could hear her footsteps retreat. She likely wouldn't be gone long; she would get help and drag several others into the mix with him.

"So, that's the secret you've been protecting. Your friend is another heir of Slytherin." Gaunt moved forward. "My relative," Gaunt whispered in his ear. 

"What do you want?" Hadrian growled. 

"I was rather disappointed in your dismissal the other night."

"That's what you want?" Hadrian demanded. "Sex?" Gaunt's eyes flitted down his body. "Sex in exchange for my friend's life?" Anger rushed through him. 

"Not exactly. There's only one price I am willing to accept for her."

"And what is that?" Hadrian demanded.

"You."

Chapter Text

Cordelia ran into the carriage, her heart thundering in her ears as she searched frantically. Nicholas, Carlos, and Alexander were sitting by the fire. Nicholas and Carlos were curled into each other and Alexander continuous through what looked like berries into the fire, causing it to pop every time. The moment she laid eyes on them, Alexander's eyes shot to hers. Memories flooded to the forefront of her mind and she knew he could see them. He jumped to his feet, causing the other two to react. Two pairs of eyes searched wildly before finding her.

"Hadrian." She whispered. 

That was all it took. The other two were out of their seats and together the four of them ran back to where she had left Hadrian. Over and over her mind told her she shouldn't have left him alone. A thousand horrible scenarios passed in front of her eyes as they ran up the hill. They found Hadrian and Gaunt standing incredibly close, locked in an obviously tense conversation. Hadrian stood stiffly, not budging as Gaunt moved too close to him. Then suddenly, Gaunt's eyes flashed to them and she could swear for a moment they were blood red. Then the same snake-like smile she had seen before spread across his face. It made her freeze in her tracks as he pulled away from Hadrian slightly.

"Well, well. Here are the knights in shining armor, come to rescue their prince." He raised his voice so the four of them could hear it. Hadrian whipped around to see them, panic briefly flashing across his emerald eyes.

"Leave them out of this." He growled as he turned to face Gaunt once again. 

"Oh, I didn't drag them into it." Gaunt moved next to Hadrian, facing the four of them. "You were the careless one. You didn't keep them safe enough. And now, this works out perfectly for me."

Hadrian put himself between them and Gaunt, his wand drawn. "If you even think about touching them-" He let the threat fade, but his voice stated his intention.

Gaunt, however, was determined to push. "What will you do?" Again, he moved close to Hadrian. "If I touch them, what will you do?"

"I will kill you." Hadrian was seething with anger. Cordelia could practically feel it where she stood.  

"Oh, I don't think so." Gaunt's hand shot to Hadrian's chin, gripping him tightly. Cordelia drew her wand, fear for Hadrian feeling like ice in her veins. "And you," Gaunt's eyes landed on her. "Don't even think about following us. If he disobeys, you will die. And if you disobey," Gaunt's eyes focused on Hadrian intently. "Well, I must say I am rather creative."

A cloud of what looked like black dust appeared around them, swirling thickly, and suddenly Gaunt and Hadrian were gone. Cordelia ran to the spot they previously occupied, some irrational part of her thinking they might still be there. But there was nothing. No sign that Hadrian or Gaunt had even been there. She turned, finding various looks of horror on her friends' faces. Her knees gave out and she fell to the ground. 

"Hadrian!" She felt herself yell. "Hadrian!"


Sirius sat almost too still. He, Remus, and Hadrian's friends were inside McGonagall's office as words flew around them. But for some reason, none seemed to reach Sirius. Instead, he could only see Hadrian's face as both an infant and as the man he had grown into and wonder if he would ever see it again. Voldemort was notorious for taking people who were never seen again. It happened during his rise to power and had continued well into his reign. And now Hadrian had joined the ranks. Remus reached over and squeezed his hand, pulling him from his thoughts. Sirius blinked into the room around him, finally seeing the others in it. Emotions ranged from distressed to contemplative as they wondered how to get Hadrian back.

"This is all my fault," One of Hadrian's friends whispered. Her name was Cordelia if he remembered correctly. She stared at the floor in front of her, tears rolling down her cheeks.

"This is not your fault." Another of Hadrian's friends, a tall blond boy, answered. He wrapped an arm around her in an attempt to comfort her.

"Yes, it was." She wiped the tears from her cheeks, finally lifting her eyes to meet everyone else's. "He was protecting me." She hiccupped slightly. "He never would have entered the tournament if-" She cut herself off. "He never would have been taken if-" Her tears resumed and she buried her face in her hands. "He's my best friend." She said around tears and hiccups. 

"Cordelia," The blond said. "It is not your fault. He knew exactly what he was getting into." He raised her face. "He chose this. And now we need to help him."

"Why would you think this is your fault at all? Why would he protect you?" Remus asked, voicing the question that now ran circles around Sirius' mind. 

Cordelia looked at her friends around her, meeting each of their eyes with an unspoken question. 

"They're Hadrian's fathers." Another said, his accent causing him to roll his R's. "But-" His eyes shot to McGonagall.

"You can trust her," Sirius said, knowing their hesitation. 

"Did Hadrian?" The third boy with them asked. He seemed timider than the rest of them but his eyes were filled to the brim with secret knowledge. 

"I don't know," McGonagall answered. "But I have known Hadrian's family for years." Her eyes flitted to Sirius and Remus for a moment. "And I have never betrayed their trust."

Before anyone could respond, the door flew open and Severus strode in. His cloak billowed around him and his dark eyes scanned the room. 

"Ah, Severus." McGonagall greeted. "Thank you for coming."

"You summoned me." His voice was clipped, wary. He looked at Sirius, a question plan on his face. Who knew what?

"What are you doing here?" Cordelia demanded, her blue and gold eyes hardening. She stared at Severus and for a moment, Sirius thought the other man would shrink under her gaze. But he turned and held it. "You're the potion's professor. Or is this another of Hadrian's secrets." She threw her hands upwards. "He's kept all these secrets for everyone and now he's gone."

"What do you mean, he's gone?" Severus asked, his voice betraying his panic.

"Gaunt took him." The blond boy said.

"Voldemort," Cordelia practically growled. "Voldemort took him."

"What?" The three boys asked in surprise.

"Hadrian told me. Though I didn't really realize it until just now." She ran a hand through her own blonde hair, pulling it over one shoulder and braiding the ends of it. "Before," She swallowed thickly. "Before everything happened. He was telling me about the taboo and how it didn't work here because he was here. He said he'd said the name and no one had come after him. I asked him who Voldemort was and then Gaunt appeared. But he said Gaunt. I saw him and Hadrian wasn't addressing him, so why did he say Gaunt unless he was answering my question."

"Well, that would explain his distrust of the man." The boy with the accent said.

Sirius racked his brain to remember the rest of Hadrian's friends' names. There was Alexander, Nicholas, and Carlos. The boy with the accent, that must be Carlos. His eyes flitted between the other two, the blond and the timid boy with too much knowledge behind his eyes. The latter's eyes met his and for a moment he seemed lost in thought.

"Alexander." He pointed to himself. "Nicholas." He pointed to the blond. "Carlos." He pointed to the boy with the accent. Sirius nodded.

"That's nice," Remus' answered irritably. "But that does not answer my question." Sirius could tell the Wolf was getting the better of him as his amber eyes leveled Hadrian's friends, focusing on Cordelia in particular. "What was he protecting? What secret?"

Cordelia's eyes ran over everyone else in the room; McGonagall, Sirius, Remus, and eventually Severus. Eventually, she again turned to her friends. 

"It's all right," Alexander said. "They just want to help him," His eyes turned to Severus. "I don't know about him though."

"And who are you to question where my loyalties lie?" Severus demanded.

Cordelia leveled him once again. "Don't talk to him like that."

"As much fun as this is, watching you two argue, Hadrian is still missing. Taken." Remus slammed his hand down on the table. "If you know anything, you need to tell us. Hadrian's life is at risk."

"He won't kill him," Nicholas said though he didn't sound overly optimistic.

"What makes you so sure?" Sirius asked.

"He threatened to kill us," Nicholas pointed to the three others and himself. "But he threatened to torture Hadrian. He wants him alive."

A tense silence fell between them for a minute. It was so palpable, someone could have cut it with a knife, which Cordelia's sigh acted as.

"He was protecting my secret." She crossed her arms, not looking at anyone. "You all know the stories of the foundings of Hogwarts and Ilvermorny?" Several heads nodded. "Well, the found of Ilvermorny had children, children who were descended from Salazar Slytherin, one of the Hogwarts founders, as she was. The family line continued well into today. My family." She paused. "I am another heir of Slytherin."

"Gaunt's cousin," Nicholas said, squeezing Cordelia's shoulder. "Hadrian knew, as he tends to know all our secrets. And he was worried what Gaunt would do if he discovered another heir."

"Foolish boy." Severus breathed. Hadrian's friends looked at him. "He purposely caught the Dark Lord's attention to protect you and, in the process endangered, several more people, himself most of all." Severus turned to Sirius and Remus. "You two need to leave the country." Sirius and Remus both started to protest but Severus waved a hand dismissively. "You know as well as I do that if he folds, you two will die. You need to leave."

"I'm not leaving without him." Sirius practically yelled.

"Yes, you are." Severus countered. "Ilvermorny will never know he is gone unless the Dark Lord wants war with another country, perhaps several. If other countries can't be certain their champions are safe, they will withdraw from the fragile peace that's currently in place. Thousands will die. I doubt the boy will crack easily and furthermore I doubt the Dark Lord will actually do anything to him. The only ones who will know he is gone are the people within this room. No one else can know. You two will return to America. You will stay there. I will find Hadrian. And in the meantime, no one will say anything. To anyone."


Hadrian landed with a thump onto the dead grass. His eyes rolled in his head for a moment before they opened, seeing a bright sky above him. He pushed himself upward, dusting himself off. He tried to orient the world around him as everything seemed to spin. He knew he was at Hogwarts; he could see the massive structure not far from him, but everything else seemed upside down.

"Hadrian!" Someone yelled and suddenly he had a face full of blonde hair. 

"Cordelia," He whispered wrapping his arms around her.

"Where were you? What happened?" She demanded, pulling away to look at him. "What did he do to you?"

Hadrian opened his mouth to answer but shut it again. 

"How long was I gone?" He asked.

"Two weeks."

Chapter Text

Part Two

The pair landed in the dungeon basement of the Malfoy Manor. Voldemort knew the manor well, having spent much time there as he put himself back together and at the beginning of his take over. Hadrian's head rolled to one side. The boy had been easy to incapacitate. For all his magic and apparent ability, he didn't put up much a fight when the sleeping spell was cast on him. Voldemort studied the boy now that the two of them were away from everything and everyone. He looked younger in his sleep, less weight on his shoulders. His black, wild hair spread across the floor and Voldemort was immediately reminded of someone else. It was an eternity ago it felt like, but he had seen another with the same wild hair spread across a floor. The eyes were different though. Where had he seen those eyes before?

Hadrian was, in every sense of the word, an enigma to him. He could not explain the strange draw he felt toward the boy. Of course, he would inspire curiosity from anyone as one of the Malfoy wards had also taken an interest in him. But this draw went beyond interest. He turned his head this way and that, trying to identify what exactly about this boy drew him so. Was it the defiance he constantly had in his eyes? Was it the power he radiated? Was it the sheer arrogance that drove him onto the lake those months ago and into the tournament later? He knelt next to the boy, carefully pushing his hair up. A scar in the shape of a lightning bolt sat perfectly in the center of his forehead. It was healed, but it looked fresh, as though the injury which caused it was mere weeks before. Voldemort had seen the scar during their little tryst. In a way, Hadrian reminded himself when he was younger. The boy was intelligent and Voldemort had always prided himself on his intelligence. Neither were particularly fond of following the rules. And the curiosity they drew. Voldemort's curiosity pushed him, urging him to study that peculiar scar more. 

It wasn't an ordinary scar. Nothing he could think of made a scar quite like that. His mind brought him back to all those months ago, when he had found Hadrian studying Dark Magic in the library. He felt the need to tease the boy then, he had always seemed to favor Light magic but was familiar with the darkness. Familiar, but not of it. His eyes focused on the scar again, wondering what Dark Magic might have made it. Slowly, he reached a hand out in his attempt to study the scar further. His fingertips grazed it when suddenly it felt as though he had been run over by a hippogriff. The air was sucked from his lungs and something, something not human, lashed out at him. Hadrian also reacted, his body twisting and his eyes shooting open, pain evident in their emerald depths. Voldemort drew his hand away, choosing instead to grip the boy by the chin once more.

"What are you?" He demanded. 

Hadrian tore himself from his grasp, his breath still heavy from pain. He didn't answer as he pulled himself away from Voldemort. He cocked his head, watching the boy's feeble attempt to escape until his back collided with a cold, stone wall. 

"If you won't answer," Voldemort said as he stood, "I suppose I will just have to find the answers for myself." 

In two strides he was upon Hadrian again, dropping next to the boy and trapping him against the wall. Hadrian struggled weakly in his grasp, the effects of the sleeping spell lingering still. There were several ways to force answers from people, several ways to draw memories even from behind walls as strong as Hadrian's. But he wanted something much more poetic. He dropped his head, pressing his lips against Hadrian's. In the boy's surprise, he slipped into his mind easily. Hadrian fought him, but it was useless. He easily tore his way through the younger's mind until he found one memory in particular. 

He walked through the shelves his eyes scanning from book to book until he finally found the one he wanted. 

Secrets of the Darkest Art.

Hadrian took the book off the shelf, carefully, before finding a corner in the library to settle himself into. For the longest time, Hadrian had a fear that ran around his mind. However, Ilvermorny, while there were classes that taught about dark magic, did not allow students any way to access information about the subject within the school grounds. He studied on his own time, learning as much as he could but he could never find the answer he was looking for. He had long since speculated that some part of Voldemort had been left behind that night in Godric's Hollow. Too often he dreamed of a man with snake-like pale skin and blood-red eyes. Upon seeing him the first day, his scar burned which had never happened to Hadrian in his life. He once asked Sirius and Remus about the origin of his scar, and while they told him the truth, most of what they could tell him was limited to speculation. However, the burning question Hadrian still had was what made Voldemort so volatile that a backfiring curse would leave part of himself stuck to whatever was left living in the room. And more importantly, what was left.

Hadrian opened the book, scanning the table of contents before finally finding what he had been searching for. 

Horcruxes.

Hadrian had never once felt nauseated while reading about dark magic. He had felt nauseated the first time he was hit on the head a little too hard. He felt nauseated the first time he drank too much alcohol. He felt nauseated when he accidentally walked in on Remus and Sirius making out in the kitchen. But never before by dark magic. That was until he read about horcruxes.

Horcruxes. The word echoed through Voldemort as he pulled himself from the memory. The boy knew about horcruxes. He knew about him. There was only one explanation. He dove further into the boy's mind, memories flying past him. Hadrian continued to fight until he suddenly stilled. He knew immediately he wasn't exactly within Hadrian's mind anymore. The mind he had been exploring wasn't as dark, wasn't as prickly. Hadrian had a different feel than this. This felt disjointed, wrong. Sometimes, the boy's mind would seep through, creating a strange hybrid of calm and chaos. But then his mind would fade away, and it was the same strange prickly, darkness. Voldemort pushed into it more, feeling little push back as he did. While Hadrian fought, this was silent, almost welcoming. He prodded it, wondering who in the boy's life was strong enough to place an extra mind within his own. And why did this feel so incredibly familiar?

As he looked around, he was suddenly met with a pair of blood-red eyes. Around the eyes, a figure began to take shape, a figure he more than recognized. It was like staring in a mirror. Pale skin, blood-red eyes, a snake-like nose, and a forked tongue greeted him. 

"How is this possible? How are you here?" He asked his mirror. The mirror cocked its head.

"You know. And the boy knows too." The mirror tapped his fingers on his chin before his form began to change. Slowly, Voldemort began to morph into Hadrian. His body shrunk, skin darkened, hair and a nose appeared, and blood-red eyes became emerald. "Though I am not quite complete." The Hadrian mirror looked down at himself. "I am both of you, yet neither."

Horcruxes.

The word seemed to echo around him as the mirror changed yet again, becoming a demonic-looking hybrid of Hadrian and Voldemort. 

"The boy's a horcrux. A living horcrux. How is that possible?"

"You're smart enough to figure that out." The horcrux paused. "You and your madness."

Voldemort pulled himself from the boy's mind. Hadrian slumped against the wall, apparently unconscious and breathing heavily. He stood and grabbed the candle that lit the dungeon, taking it with him as he left, shutting the door behind him, abandoning Hadrian to the darkness.

Wild black hair, emerald eyes, and demonic hybrid faces ran through his mind as he moved to the study he occupied whenever staying at Malfoy Manor. 

You're smart enough to figure that out. The horcrux had told him. 

Voldemort sat in front of the fire, looking at his hands. It was quite some time ago that he had dawned the look that the horcrux displayed. It was easy to inspire awe and fear with a terrifying form, less so when he looked incredibly like his Muggle father, though that did have its uses too. He thought again about his tryst with Hadrian, Hadrian who would never have touched him with a ten-foot pole if he actually looked like that.

Thoughts swirled around his mind more as he tried to identify why that wild hair was suddenly haunting him. Why those emerald eyes seemed so familiar, beyond Hadrian himself. 

Soon, the Malfoy heir and wards would arrive. None could know about the boy locked in the dungeon of their home. If word leaked that he had kidnapped the Ilvermorny champion, there would be war. As his thoughts drifted, thinking about the children who would soon occupy the manor, he found himself thinking of the Order. Ronald Weasley's family had been members, along with the cousin of Bellatrix and Narcissa. Sirius Black. He was an odd one for his family. He idly remembering the information about the Black family, their proclivity toward dark magic, Black's younger brother Regulus. Regulus had suffered dearly for betraying him and his older brother was nowhere to be found. Peter Pettigrew, a friend of Sirius Black, was the ultimate reason he had defeated the prophecy. Wormtail and Black shared a friend, a friend who Wormtail ultimately betrayed, James Potter.

Potter.

His wandering mind brought back memories from a lifetime ago as suddenly he remembered where he had seen that wild hair before. James Potter had the same wild hair and his wife, Lily Potter, had the same emerald eyes.

Realization struck him like lightning. 

The boy was Harry Potter.

He flew out of the chair and apparated into the dungeon. The boy blinked into the darkness, hearing only the pop but not seeing who it brought. Voldemort was on him quickly, grasping his throat and hauling him upward. 

"How are you alive?" He demanded. Hadrian-Harry clawed at his hand, attempting to get away. It was useless, of course. "How are you alive?" He demanded again.

Emerald eyes met his with a hard determination. "Fuck you." He spat.

Rage boiled within him as he forced himself back into the boy's mind rather viciously. He tore through it, picking it apart piece by piece until the boy fell into unconsciousness. Day after day he returned with the same question and day after day Hadrian had the same answer. A week went by, then two. Students would be returning, and both he and Hadrian were expected back at the castle, lest a war begin. 

Maybe I should let it. He thought as he again tore apart Hadrian's mind. The boy screamed and writhed under his questioning, but never once did his resolve falter. Amongst the other enigmas of Harry Potter, AKA Hadrian Black, was a corner of his mind, separate from the horcrux, that he could not enter. Over and over he tried and yet he failed. He could feel the thrumming of secrets within it, perhaps even the secret to the boy's survival, but he could not draw anything from it. The boy put all his willpower in keeping it from him, which just made Voldemort want it more.

As he tore himself from the boy's mind once more, he sighed. He would not give up, but perhaps the boy needed to be broken more before he would reveal his secrets.

He knew when it was morning as he heard the departure of the Malfoys and their wards. He grabbed Hadrian who slumped against the wall. It was easy enough to rebuild his mind, though there would always be some damage from Voldemort's tirade. He took Hadrian from the dungeon, dropping him less than gracefully on the lawn of Hogwarts before he returned to the Defense classroom and began readying himself for the day.

Chapter Text

Hadrian stared at the ivory wall in front of him. Something was wrong, though he had no idea what. The wall, unfortunately, didn't have any answers but still, he stared, wondering what exactly had happened. Where had those two weeks gone? And where was he? He closed his eyes, searching his mind for memories of what occurred. He would find himself thinking about the moment Voldemort took him. He tried to push forward, into his missing moments, but winced. Pain ripped through him, as intense as the basilisk venom. A hand gripped his arm and he pulled himself from his thoughts. He blinked, once again seeing the wall in front of him. The world seemed to move out of focus for a moment and then refocused just as quickly. He turned to find Nicholas staring at him with a silent question evident on his face. He shook his head, turning back toward the wall once again. Everything was disjointed. He would find himself disconnecting from reality easier than he ever had before. It was natural for one to be lost in thought now and then, but for Hadrian, it was as though he had to force himself back into reality. He blinked slowly at the wall in front of him, trying again to force himself to remember.

Remember. Remember. Remember.

He once again found the memory of Voldemort taking him. He remembered crimson eyes and the pull of apparition, and then darkness. And pain. He let out a sigh and turned to look out the window. It was a beautiful view. It reminded him of home. The lush flowing green, the sea of white around it. He stood, ignoring the sudden silence behind him, and moved toward the window. He rested his hands on the windowsill, leaning his aching head on the cold glass. Conversation resumed behind him as he closed his eyes for the third time, this time to enjoy the cold. He let the world behind him drift away, finding himself somewhere in between.

Remember. Remember. Remember.

As he forced himself back into reality, the voices behind him grew louder. He didn't know exactly what the others were saying, but he did know it wasn't helping the ever-constant dull ache in his mind. He pulled himself away from the window and turned around, facing the others in the room. McGonagall stood behind her desk; her eyes fixed on Severus. Scattered around the room at different points were Alexander, Cordelia, Carlos, and Nicholas. He could also see the vague outline of Sirius' head peeking out from the fire. McGonagall and Severus continued to argue, their voices growing louder and louder.

"We don't know what he knows. What he managed to get from the boy." Severus gestured toward him.

"So, you suggest that we all just run and hide as if that is a viable solution," McGonagall answered. 

His frustration began to grow. They were talking about him as though he weren't there. As if he couldn't help. Of course, some part of him whispered that he was as much help as the rest of them, he knew as much as they did. But a much louder part knew it was he who faced Voldemort and returned. 

Remember. Remember. Remember.

Voices grew louder. His head ached. Crimson eyes flashed before his own.

Remember. Remember. Remember.

Voices, pain, crimson eyes.

Remember. Remember. Remember.

Voices, pain, crimson eyes.

Remember. Remember. Remem-

"Enough!" Hadrian's yell was accompanied by the shattering of glass.

Across the room, one of the doors to the many glass cabinets had shattered as Hadrian's magic flew out of control. He let out a sigh, his frustration subsiding as he stared at the shattered glass. 

"None of this is helping." He said softly.

He pulled out his wand and repaired the glass before walking from the room. He didn't know where he was going, only that every moment he spent in that room was torture. He was moving automatically, so much so that he once again drifted from reality. It was as though his body was moving of its own accord and his mind was elsewhere, though he didn't know where. When he forced himself back, he found himself leaning against another window in some distant tower. The cool air of the tower was soothing on his head in addition to the cold window. He let out a sigh into the silence around him. He sat down on the edge of the windowsill, staring outward at the countryside.

The day passed and Hadrian didn't move. Meals and classes went by without Hadrian's present. He watched as the sun drifted overhead and eventually set in the distance, followed by the appearance of stars and the moon which accompanied them. It was well into the night before Hadrian finally forced himself upward. His body ached from the stillness. Stiffly, he walked down the stairs, forcing himself to stay focused as he did. As he reached the front of the castle, he noticed the eerie silence that surrounded him. It wasn't the normal quietness of nighttime. This was too still as though the air itself had been frozen in place.

He evaluated the space around him. It was darker than normal and not even the shadows stirred.

How are you alive?

Fuck you.

The words seemed to echo around him. He turned, trying to find the source. Again, the words echoed, though softer. Over and over the echo appeared and he tried to follow it in the darkness. Softer and softer until Hadrian collided with a wall near him. The wall seemed colder than normal, the room smelled earthier than it should, the darkness was too dark. He tried to move but it was as though he was paralyzed, stuck in place. Pain ripped through him, and he let out a silent scream. His legs gave out from under him and he crashed to the floor, darkness overtaking him. 

When he awoke, he found himself in his own bed in the Ilvermorny carriage. He sat up quickly, looking around him frantically.

How did he get here?

A dull, throbbing ache coursed through him and he fell backward, the world spinning around him. He stared at the ceiling above him, waiting for it to stop swirling. A soft knock at the door caught his attention. He rolled from the bed, landing on the floor on all fours. It took every ounce of energy he had to push himself upward and shuffle toward his door. He leaned against the wall next to it as he opened it. Nyah stood on the other side, a plate of food steaming in her hands.

"You look like Hell." She said and Hadrian laughed at her bluntness, only to wince at the action. 

Nyah moved forward, wrapping an arm under one of Hadrian's and helping him return to the bed. He sat down and blinked up at her in curiosity.

"I was told you weren't in class yesterday or the day before. Nor did anyone see you eat." She set the food down next to him. "When you didn't arrive at breakfast yet again I started to worry." She looked him over. "Are you all right, Hadrian?" 

"I don't know," He whispered. 

Nyah stayed with him while he picked over the food she brought. He could see her smile slightly when he finished the treacle tart as it had always been his favorite. Eventually, he gave up trying to force himself to eat and set the plate off to the side. Nyah looked him over once more, a dissatisfied look in her eyes.

"What are you feeling?" She asked. 

"Pain mostly," Hadrian answered. He looked down at himself, turning his arms this way and that. "I feel disconnected. My body from my mind. My mind from reality. I don't feel," He paused. "Anchored."

Nyah nodded before standing. "Come with me."

He followed obediently, bracing himself along the walls as he did. They wound through the carriage until they were outside a simple door. Nyah pushed her way in and as he followed, he suddenly found himself back in the No-Mag Defense classroom. He remembered the first time he ever saw Nyah fight, all those years ago against Professor Zane. He remembered every time he had fought since, eventually building his own body. He remembered his own fight with Nicholas before the tournament as they hovered over the Black Lake. He remembered the way his mind would seem to blank during a fight and his body acted on its own. 

Nyah shrugged off the shawl she was wearing. The thunderbird tattoo twitched before soaring across her back and resting on the opposite arm.

"I didn't get my tattoo by choice," She said quietly. Hadrian watched as she moved across the room toward where the staffs were kept. "It's more of a magical brand." She grabbed a staff in each hand. "The story of it is quite long and insignificant at the moment." She turned to face him. "But when I first got it, I felt unattached. From myself, from the world. Nothing seemed right to me anymore. Zane and I were friends at the time and I remember him helping me." She threw the staff at Hadrian's feet. "What I remember helping me most was finding a way to feel my own body again. Remembering how to move it. Building myself back up one bit at a time." She held her staff behind her back. "When you first arrived at Ilvermorny, your fathers told me the truth of your identity. Not because they trusted me. But because I would need to keep you safe." She nodded her head toward the staff at Hadrian's feet. He bent to pick it up and Nyah neared. He steadied himself as best he could, attempting to replicate the form he was taught so many years ago.

"Who are you?" Nyah asked.

"Hadrian Black?" It was more of a question than a statement. 

Nyah's staff swung outward, tapping him on the thigh before he could stop it. He winced as she reset herself and circled him.

"Who are you?" She asked again.

"Hadrian Black," He answered weakly. Was he? Or was he Harry Potter? He thought of Gaunt and Voldemort, of how one was the mask and one was reality. Was Hadrian or Harry his reality?

Again, the staff swung outward, this time clipping his shin. He winced once more and readied his staff.

"Who are you?" She asked once more.

"Harry Potter." He answered, though still weakly.

For a third time, the staff swung outward and he attempted to block it, but it bounced off his arm with a thwap. 

"Who are you?" She asked, emphasizing each word.

"Harry Potter."

Thwap.

"Who are you?"

He could feel each spot her staff contacted. She questioned him and every time he answered with either Hadrian Black or Harry Potter and every time she still hit him.

"Who are you?"

He stopped thinking. Instead, he focused on his body. Every movement he made, every place Nyah's staff hit. More and more it seemed to come into focus. He could feel the movement in his limbs. He could feel his fingers curling around the staff. He could feel his feet bracing himself against the ground. He could feel his eyes following Nyah's movements. He could feel the magic coursing under his skin.

"Who are you?"

"I am Hadrian Black." He answered, but not from his mind this time. He swung, blocking Nyah's staff. "And I am Harry Potter."

Chapter Text

The morning air was cold. A dense fog settled around Hogwarts castle and condensed water dripped from stone and brick. Within the castle, flames flickered, illuminating the waking of the people within the massive stone structure. Carriages and boats stirred in tandem as all greeted the dim morning around them. Within the cranberry and blue carriage and through twisting passages was the No-Mag Defense room. Staffs, knives, and swords lined ivory walls. A black punching bag swayed slightly in one corner, bolted to floor and ceiling. Sky blue mats stretched the length of the floor and in the center was none other than Hadrian Black.

Hadrian wore only a pair of grey sweat pants. His feet and chest were bare and his hair unkempt. The scar of the basilisk fang stood out against his forearm matched only by the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. He moved swiftly through the space around him, feeling every movement but not thinking about it. He could feel the mat under his feet, he could feel his muscles stretch and contract as he moved, he could feel his magic pulsing under his skin. He was slowly rebuilding himself, piece by piece. It was an aggravatingly slow process. Nyah had given him a reprieve from his classes as he repaired himself, body and mind. 

Slow movements became coupled with thoughts as he once again reached for memories unavailable to him. He dragged a foot along the mat as he brought himself back to the night of his kidnapping. He could see Voldemort in front of him, dark eyes becoming crimson. Slowly, he pushed forward, feeling his torso turn as he thought. Darkness. His thoughts were met with darkness. He entered it as he lifted one arm and pushed the heel of his hand of the other forward. For once, he didn't fight the darkness. He realized his constant return could only mean one thing; it was important. He twisted swiftly, lunging forward on one leg. His magic pulsed as he moved, ebbing and flowing with his movements. The darkness surrounded him and he let out a slow breath. 

"What are you?" A voice demanded. Voldemort's voice.

"If you won't answer," Voldemort said, "I suppose I will just have to find the answers for myself."

He could feel the pain of his mind being ripped apart as though a tornado tore through his mind. 

"The boy's a horcrux. A living horcrux. How is that possible?" Voldemort's voice echoed within his mind.

"You're smart enough to figure that out." Another voice said. "You and your madness."

Hadrian's eyes shot open and his knees gave out from under him. 

He knew. Voldemort knew. 

He could feel his heart rate quicken in his chest and his breathing followed. Panic raced through him.

Why wasn't he dead? Why wasn't everyone he knew dead? What did Voldemort want?

He pushed himself upward, feeling his legs shake under him. He walked through the carriage until his hand pressed against his door. He entered the room, shutting the door behind him with a soft click. He moved across the room, dropping to one knee. Hidden, deep within the confines of the room, was the horcrux. Once it was revealed, he pulled it into his hands, examining it. The diadem looked innocent enough in his grasp. He knew what he had to do and everything within him told him to do it. He set the horcrux back down, next to the basilisk fang that nearly killed him.

Hadrian moved across the room and grasped the clue to the next task. The fourth task was a week away and he was the furthest behind. Castelobruxo, Mahoutokoro, and Beauxbatons were eliminated. Gaea, the Uagadou champion, had earned her spot by her mastery of wandless magic within the depths of the lake. That left Hogwarts, Durmstrang, Uagadou, and Ilvermorny. Ron, Alexi, Gaea, and him. He turned toward the clue, opening it. Instead of the same whispering voice he was used to, a map appeared before him. As he watched, various landmarks began appearing, the words bleeding onto the page like running ink. In the center was an 'X' which Hadrian decided with the goal. In the corner of the page, the final word appeared, cementing Hadrian's guess.

The Forbidden Forest.

He sighed. He was too tired for this. Too tired to continue being pushed to his emotional and physical limit. He had nearly died twice because of this tournament. Once with the basilisk and again when the tournament brought him to Voldemort. He dropped to the floor, leaning against the wall behind him. He would still find himself drifting out of reality and only now did he know why. Voldemort had torn apart his mind and done a horrible job putting it back together. Hadrian couldn't compete like this, he would die.

With tremendous effort, he stood, put on a shirt and shoes, and ventured toward the awakening castle. As he walked, he forced himself to think, to keep away from that nothingness that beckoned him. He needed to figure out how to keep everyone he cared about safe. Remus and Sirius had returned to America, with great reluctance he was told. Severus could likely hide as he had for sixteen years. That left Cordelia, Nicholas, Carlos, and Alexander. Alexander already knew that he would receive a signal to run and Cordelia was vaguely aware of the plan he had formed around a month ago. He would have to figure out a way to warn the other two, to get them all out of the castle. But first, he had to fix himself. 

He reached his goal and knocked on the door in front of him. A fully dressed and ready Severus Snape greeted him with a wary look.

"I need your help."


When he returned to his room, a package sat in the center of his bed. Unease settled in him as he approached it. The packaging was red and gold colored with a note settled firmly on top. He reached out and touched it hesitantly, feeling it give under his hand. He let it his fingers drift over the packaging as his magic reached out, looking for any sign of danger. Nothing answered but part of Hadrian still felt unease. He wasn't a curse-breaker and the subtlest of curses could hide from him. He finally reached for the note. The outside was addressed to H. He picked it up, opening the note to read.

Your father left this in my possession before he died. It's time it was returned to you.

Use it well.

The note fell from his fingers. His father's? Whatever was in the package on his bed was his father's? James? He had only ever been told stories about his father, memories that Remus and Sirius could conjure when grief loosened its hold on their hearts. But never had he touched anything James had touched. His mind seemed to empty except for the singular focus of the mystery within red and gold wrapping. He picked up the package and pulled apart the wrapping. A cloak flowed into his grasp. It was silvery in appearance and lighter than any cloak he had worn previously. He dropped the packaging and examined the cloak closely. There was nothing outwardly interesting about it. It was a simple, silver cloak. Perhaps his father had fancied the color silver and had let someone borrow it before his death. Hadrian moved toward the full-length mirror in his room before opening the cloak and swinging it around his shoulders. The cloak flowed and as it came together around his body, it and he vanished. 

Hadrian's jaw dropped. He opened the cloak and his body appeared once more before closing it again. He could see the room behind him reflected in the mirror. He turned, feeling the cloak move with him and nothing was revealed. Staring in the mirror again, he opened it and pulled it upward, draping it over his head. As he watched, he disappeared, and only the room itself appeared to exist. It was an invisibility cloak he thought as he pulled it off. But it belonged to his father and still worked. He clutched the cloak in his hands. Normal invisibility cloaks wore off eventually. Even the best didn't last more than fifteen years. 

This wasn't just any invisibility cloak. This was the invisibility cloak. Death's cloak. 

He was holding Death's cloak in his hand. Which meant every myth about the Deathly Hallows he had read was real. And he was holding the final Hallow. The Cloak of Invisibility. The cloak itself was hundreds if not around a thousand years old and still made everything within it vanish. He knew the cloak was resistant to all manners of spells, charms, jinxes, and hexes. The wearer was not, but the cloak would remain intact no matter the damage the wearer incurred. 

His hand tightened around the cloak. 

He could use this. 

Severus helped stabilize his mind, though there was still plenty of work for Hadrian to do. But now he had an advantage. He a cloak that, as far as he knew, only one other person knew about and they appeared to be helping him. He couldn't lose the advantage of the cloak by using it during the tournament. No. He had to use it when he escaped Hogwarts, a task which seemed near impossible to him. But now...

But now.

Hope flickered within him, deep inside his heart. 

Voldemort didn't own him yet.

Chapter Text

Hadrian stretched. In front of him was the Black Lake, a task undertaken and conquered. But to his left, in the distance, was the next daunting task. The Forbidden Forest of Hogwarts was known for the various creatures that roamed it, from unicorns to werewolves. Not that werewolves bothered Hadrian; he had grown up with one. No, that's not what worried him. It was the centaurs. Voldemort's regime hadn't been kind to "half breeds" in general. Werewolves were often used as enforcers, especially one community lead by Fenrir Greyback. The centaurs had their territory restricted, chief among them the Forbidden Forest. And now Hadrian and three others were plunging headfirst into it. It was dangerous, but then again so was the rest of the tournament, so why was he at all surprised?

He turned and began walking toward the forest. The closest he had come was what felt like a lifetime ago with Nyah and Nicholas. Since then, other things had occupied his mind. As he neared, he could see a rustling in the trees but he didn't think much of it. Students were scattered here and there, enjoying an uncharacteristically warm day. Idly, Hadrian thought that someone else had the same idea as he noticed another approaching the forest, hesitant curiosity brimming from the other. Both walked closer to the tree line and while she watched the trees, studied them, Hadrian studied her. From a distance, all he could appreciate was brown, bushy hair. 

The rustling in the trees grew louder as the sound of thousands of feet pounded the ground. The other students fell silent. The sound grew louder. Branches and twigs snapped; leaves rustled ominously. It wasn't walking, Hadrian realized as the sound grew ever louder. It was skittering. Like the sound of-

Massive spiders the size of dogs and larger bust through the trees. People screaming and Hadrian let out a sigh. 

He drew his wand and ran toward the girl closest to the forest. 

"Arania Exumai!" He yelled. A brilliant white light shot from his wand at the nearest spider, shoving it backward and away from her. 

Hadrian ran closer and the girl turned to him, anger plastered across her face. 

"I could have handled that myself," She huffed.

"Oh, I have no doubt." Hadrian recognized her immediately. Around them, the spiders began to recede into the forest from which they came. It was an odd thing, to see so many acromantulas suddenly run from the forest only to return just as quickly. Hadrian moved closer to the forest before turning around and facing the girl. "So, Hermione, care to join me on an adventure?"

Hermione Granger was one of the wards for the Malfoy family. She and Ron Weasley were taken from families at a young age and placed into the Malfoy's care. Ron's brothers had grown up with Narcissa Malfoy's sister, Bellatrix Lestrange. All things considered, Hermione and Ron had grown up incredibly well rounded. While Hadrian had yet to meet Fred and George, he had heard stories. They were practically legendary around Hogwarts for their pranks, and legendary further among Death Eaters for their tricks turned deadly. Most of the Malfoys, including Bellatrix's wards, had found themselves in Slytherin. The Malfoy family, along with the Blacks, were a notoriously Slytherin family. The exception had come from Ron and Hermione, both of whom had found themselves in Gryffindor. It reminded Hadrian oddly of Sirius.

Naturally, Hermione would be skeptical of Hadrian. He was Ron's competition and what better way to play mind games than to use Hermione. But, as those brown eyes searched his, he knew her hesitations were wavering. If Hadrian had to pick someone other than himself to win the tournament, it would be Ron Weasley. Not for the pride of the Malfoy family, but more because Ron was different. He wasn't the typical backhanded Slytherin. He wasn't like the Malfoys. Though he tried to blend in, and he did a fabulous job, he slipped; when he warned Hadrian. And now, Hadrian wondered how much the Malfoy's had rubbed off on Hermione. 

The witch drew her wand and nodded to Hadrian. He grinned. Together they stepped into the forest.

It was almost as though the world vanished behind them the moment they stepped in. Silence settled around them like a heavy blanket. In tandem, wandlights lit the dim in front of them. From outside the forest, you could hear the rustling of leaves, the running of various creatures. But inside, nothing. They ventured further into the forest, both ready for anything. The acromantula tracks were the most obvious, and fresh. Hadrian followed them with Hermione on his heals.

They walked further into the forest, eventually finding a trail of small spiders walking in a line. Hadrian held out his wand toward them, a silent question to Hermione. She moved next to him, following his look until she too found the spiders.

"Acromantulas. They're running from something." She said softly.

"The basilisk," Hadrian answered. "Spiders flee from it. But it was out weeks ago. They shouldn't be sensing it still."

"Unless it never went back to sleep," Hermione answered.

Hadrian huffed. A thousand-year-old snake with a need for vengeance, still awake in the castle. Just one more thing on the ever-growing list of trouble he had incurred since coming to Hogwarts. The pair continued forward and the spiders grew in size. They crawled through logs, over leaves and vines until they began approaching a massive pit.

"Every one has a leader, the center of the nest," Hermione whispered in his ear. "I think we've found it."

"Hagrid?" A gravelly voice whispered. "Is that you?"

Hagrid?

"Are you back my friend?"

Back?

Thoughts ran through Hadrian's mind at the rate of a train. Hagrid. Back. Missing.

"'Ello, Aragog." A gruff voice answered. 

To their right, a mountain of a man entered the clearing. He had a massive beard accompanied by bushy hair. The half-giant sat down in the middle of the clearing in the pit, opening a rucksack.

"There's someone else here." The voice whispered. Crashing echoed throughout the clearing as the largest acromantula Hadrian had ever seen came into view. 

He and Hermione jumped as snapping echoed behind them and two smaller ones rushed forward, pushing them back into the pit.

"What're you doin' here?" Hagrid asked.

Hadrian turned slowly. Their eyes met and Hagrid's face paled.

"You shouldn't be here."

"I know," Hadrian answered.

"I mean you shouldn't be at Hogwarts." Panic rose in Hagrid's voice.

"I know," Hadrian said again.

"You look just like-" Before Hagrid could finish, Hadrian silently stunned Hermione. Her body dropped quickly but Hadrian caught her before she could hit the ground.

He lied her down gently. "It's Hadrian now, Hagrid." He said as he gently brushed her hair off her face. She wouldn't know it was Hadrian who stunned her. But she couldn't hear this. She lived with Death Eaters. "Who I am isn't widely known."

"You've grown up so much since the last time I saw you. You were no bigger than a bowtruckle," Hagrid grinned.

"You last saw me when I was a year old," Hadrian answered with a laugh.

"What're you doing here, Harry?" Hagrid asked, his eyes focused intently on Hadrian.

"I don't know if you've heard, but there's a tournament up at the castle. The next task is in the forest. What are you doing here? If they find you, they'll kill you. Voldemort is in the castle." The words came out in a rush with the million things he wanted to say. Among them, an unspoken 'thank you' for giving him to Sirius as a baby. Hadrian had often thought about the alternatives, all of which sent him to live with his magic hating aunt and uncle. Or dead.

"Look, you need to get out of here. At least for the next few days." Hadrian pleaded. "The tournament is in two days. They'll be patrolling the forest."

Much to his surprise, Hagrid shrugged. "I've been here my whole life. Hogwarts is my home."

"Hagrid is well protected here." The same gravelly voice said. Hadrian looked around Hagrid at the beady eyes of the spider. 

"We should be going. If either of us are gone for too long, people will notice."

Hagrid nodded but Hadrian could see the tears in his eyes. Gently, Hadrian picked up Hermione, cradling her in his arms. She was easy enough to lift. Hadrian turned away from Hagrid, aware of the thousands of eyes on him as he left the pit. As he moved away, Hadrian whispered a 'thank you' before leaving the nest of the acromantulas completely.

Hadrian set Hermione down at the edge of the forest, just before returning to the view of Hogwarts. It only took a couple of minutes for Hermione to come to herself. She blinked at him kneeling on one knee in front of her. She opened and closed her mouth, the question dying on her lips. Hadrian guessed she decided she didn't want to know and instead looked around them.

"Where are we?"

"Right at the edge of the forest." Hadrian pointed toward Hogwarts between the trees. "We should probably go. Though it won't stop the several schools from thinking we snuck away to the forest for a snog. Maybe a shag." 

She glared at him. "I wouldn't do that."

Hadrian grinned. "You sure? Am I not pretty enough for you?" He reached up and ran a hand through his hair. "Or is my hair not the right color?"

Her glare deepened. 

"I see," Hadrian said with a nod. He stood and offered her a hand. She took it and dusted herself off. "Give Ron my love," Hadrian said before waving suggestively. He winked as he turned away, feeling a glare on the back of his head.

It didn't take long for him to run into Carlos.

"A brief make-out session?" Carlos asked, looking over his shoulder where no doubt Hermione was leaving the forest, a glare still fixated on Hadrian.

"No." He moved past Carlos who followed him. "A brief exploration. She was there for the same reason I am. She was studying the forest for the upcoming task." He glanced over his shoulder to see how far away she was before he said in a lowered voice, "She's a ward of the Malfoy's like Ron."

Carlos nodded. "Find anything interesting?"

"Acromantulas mostly," Hadrian answered with a shrug.

"Mostly?" Carlos asked.

"Mostly."


Ron practically dragged Hermione behind him as searched the castle. Hermione huffed behind him before he stopped suddenly, her body colliding with his. Across the lawn of Hogwarts was Hadrian and his array of friends. The five of them were clearly in a deep conversation with bluebells circling them. Ron watched them for a moment with Hermione staring over his shoulder.

"What are we doing?" She asked. 

Ron turned and grasped Hermione's hands. "Do you trust me?" 

"I trust you." She said firmly. "But him?" She looked toward Hadrian. Ron followed her gaze and shook his head.

"I trust him."

"Why? What makes you think he's at all trustworthy? He's your competition. Nothing about him makes me think he's-" Hermione cut herself off.

"Then just trust me." He held one of her hands in his as he walked toward Hadrian.

It was one of Hadrian's friends who noticed them first. He cleared his throat, making the entire group fall silent. Hadrian turned to face him; emerald eyes focused on him. 

"Hello, Ron." He greeted. "Hello, Hermione. What can we do for you?" 

Ron hesitated for a moment as he searched Hadrian's eyes. Eventually, he stepped forward. "I know you're planning on leaving Hogwarts."

Hadrian didn't even blink. "Oh? What makes you think that?"

"I've seen you casing the castle. You've walked everywhere which can only mean you were trying to figure a way out." Ron stepped closer. "I want you to take us with you."

Hadrian glanced over his shoulder at his friends. A series of faces answered Hadrian before he turned back to Ron.

"Not just us!" Ron said quickly. "Draco too."

Hadrian raised an eyebrow.

Ron stepped closer still. He and Hadrian were so close he could feel Hadrian's breath on his cheek. "The Dark Lord is going to kill him."

Hadrian looked over Ron's shoulder at Hermione. Ron and Hermione's hands were still interlaced and Hadrian dragged Ron into the center of his circle of friends, Hermione followed. 

"Tell me everything."

Chapter Text

November 30th, Sixteen Years Ago

Lucius watched as a darkness slithered into the room. It was darkness given life and as he watched, slightly horrified, it moved into the cabinet with his father's keepsakes. The door opened and the darkness coiled itself around a diary. All he knew of the diary was that his father had prized it. It was dark magic, of some kind, but beyond that, he knew nothing else about it. But the darkness curled around it like a snake and suddenly the two fell off the shelf. He backed away, fear humming in his veins. As he continued to watch, afraid to look but afraid to turn away, a hand appeared and slapped down on the floor. Another followed and a body pulled itself from the darkness. Pale skin, curled brown hair, and a thin muscled — naked — body pulled itself free. The darkness receded into the diary and the man on the floor gasped. 

He pushed himself upward, muscles flexing with the movement. His eyes — dark eyes — roamed the room, finally falling on Lucius.

"Lucius." He purred. "You're looking a little red there." The man stood. "Like something you see?"

He turned away as a thousand thoughts chased each other around his mind.

The man laughed. "Don't you recognize me?" He could hear the curiosity in the man's voice. "Don't you recognize your master?" The voice changed to a hiss as he spoke and suddenly Lucius's heart stopped.

"My lord." 

"Fetch me something to wear."

Lucius rushed from the room and grabbed the nearest thing he could, a black robe. He nearly bowled over Narcissa as he returned. He handed the robe to Voldemort without looking until the other man strode past him. 

"You never knew what was in this, did you?" Voldemort asked over his shoulder as he held the diary up for Lucius to see. "You were never curious?"

Lucius shook his head slightly. 

"Pity." Voldemort turned it over in his hands before handing it to Lucius over his shoulder. "Keep it safe. It's still of value."

"Yes, my lord."

The book hummed with magic in his hands. Something incredibly dark still lurked inside.

"Put it away somewhere safe, then come join me." Voldemort stepped out the door of Malfoy Manor. "We have work to do."


Two Weeks Ago

"You failed me, Lucius." Voldemort paced.

"My Lord, I-" Voldemort cut him off with a glare.

"You failed." Any protest Lucius has was quickly cut off.

"I sent you to be certain the Potter boy died. And now I have proof he is alive!" Voldemort continued his pacing along the carpet, his hands folded behind his back.

They were in Lucius' study inside Malfoy Manor. A few stories below, in the dungeon, was Harry Potter himself unbeknownst to Lucius. Also unbeknownst to Lucius — and Voldemort — their conversation wasn't entirely private. Just outside the door, Ron stood, a disillusionment charm hiding him in the shadows. He could hear every movement within the room; every step and every breath. He knew just by Lucius talking that the man had bowed his head in regret. He also knew the Dark Lord was angry. Angry about someone named Potter and a task Lucius had failed. Ron inched closer to the door, as close as he dared, while he listened.

"My Lord, no one could have survived a killing curse. And the roof of the child's nursery was blown off. There was a corpse in the bed. A child's corpse. I was certain he was dead." Lucius protested.

Voldemort hissed in frustration. "He's not! And you're failure could well institute my downfall. And if I fall, you all fall too." Lucius was silent and Voldemort continued pacing. "Should you fail me again, there will be a price."

Ron could almost see the fear that was likely written on Lucius' face.

"Oh no, my dear Lucius. It's not you, I will kill. But you have a lovely young son. The last true heir to the Malfoy line." Voldemort paused there and Ron swallowed thickly. 

He didn't stay there to find out more. The Dark Lord was going to kill Draco all because of this Potter person.


Now

Ron practically word vomited everything he had overheard during the break. How Lucius had failed, how Draco was now in danger, how Voldemort learned of Lucius' failure to find this Potter. To his credit, Hadrian listened intently until Ron finished before nodding his head slightly. Ron could see his thoughts dammed behind emerald eyes. Hadrian glanced at his friends, one at a time, before letting out a sigh. 

"You're right. We have to take you with us."

"Are you insane?" The girl asked before grasping Hadrian by the arm and pulling him away.

Ron vaguely recognized her from the previous task and the Yule Ball before it. The two whispered intently as hand gestures accompanied what was likely a heated argument. The girl crossed her arms and huffed while Hadrian stared. Her head turned toward Ron and Hermione before turning back to Hadrian and throwing her hands up in frustration. She said something else before Hadrian nodded, clearly satisfied. He moved back to Ron and Hermione and opened his mouth to speak. But Ron cut him off.

"You know the fourth task already happened right?" Hadrian's jaw shut with an audible click. "When the acromantulas attacked, we all were in the right place to follow them. You found something in the forest right? Something only you were meant to find. The next clue is supposed to show up soon."

Hadrian huffed. "Giving us a task without us even knowing about it. I should have guessed."

"The task wasn't to bring something back from the forest. It was to walk in and survive. You found something, something you needed. And you had to survive getting out."

Hadrian cocked his head. "If that was the task that was too easy." Hadrian ran a hand through his hair, suddenly making it look wild. "Unless," He paused.

"Unless?" One of Hadrian's friends pressed. 

But Hadrian stayed silent for a moment before looking over Ron's shoulder at Hermione. "You didn't tell him?"

Ron looked over his shoulder as Hermione pursed her lips. Hadrian studied her for a moment before turning back to Ron. Ron looked back and forth between them before settling his eyes on Hadrian again.

"What did you find in there?" He asked.

"Closure," Hadrian answered curtly. "But it's not what I found, but what I lead someone else to." He rubbed the back of his neck. "This game is getting more and more dangerous." He said, though mostly to himself. He stood silently for a moment before he let out a breath and lifted his head once again. His eyes looked blank, then he blinked and the thousands of thoughts returned. "Here's what we're going to do."

"We're not leaving until the last task." Hadrian shooed Ron and Hermione aside and with a flippant wave of his hand, a parchment appeared in midair. Ink seemed to flood onto the parchment, dispursing into lines and circles until an arena appeared, complete with stands. "Draco, Hermione, and Cordelia will be sitting here." He pointed to one of the spectator boxes. "Voldemort will be there too." Ron flinched but Hadrian ignored it. 

"How do you know we'll be there?" The girl, Cordelia — Ron thought — asked. 

"Because Ron and I will make it to the final task. We'll be the final two competitors. Draco and Hermione will be there because Ron will be in the tournament." Hadrian's eyes met Ron's. "Looks like you and I are in this together now." He winked before returning to the parchment. "And you know exactly why you'll be there." He said to Cordelia who nodded briefly. "Hermione and Cordelia will leave with Draco. I'll leave with Ron. You three," He nodded to his other friends. "Will leave the arena before the task ends and leave from there."

"It's a lovely plan, but there's one problem." Hermione locked eyes with Hadrian. "How are we leaving?"

Hadrian nodded. "I'm still working on that. I know how to get Ron and me out but-" He paused. "I'll figure out how to get the rest of us out before then." Hadrian and Hermione studied each other for a moment. "Make certain you have everything you need by the last task. Your belongings, Ron's, Draco's. There won't be time to go back and you won't be returning to Malfoy Manor any time soon." Hermione nodded in a way that told Ron she was already planning on doing that. Hadrian turned to Cordelia. "He'll be focusing on me. After everything, I've made sure that no one else in that arena will have his attention. Just me."

"What are you going to do?" She asked.

"For now? I'm going to stir up some trouble." He grinned; mischief hidden deep in his eyes. He turned back to the rest of them. "We can't meet as a group again. The five of us," He nodded to his friends. "Are used to being seen together. But this has to be a secret. You and Hermione can't be around the lot of us." He rubbed his chin. "If there's something that needs to be said, find me and only me."

Hadrian turned and began moving toward the castle before anyone could answer.

"What do you suppose he's up to?" Ron asked.

"Poking a snake," Cordelia muttered bitterly.

Chapter Text

Voldemort twirled a quill between his fingers. He was sitting at his desk in the Defense Classroom. The room was eerily silent compared to the deadly glares radiating from across the table where Hadr-Harry sat. Those emerald eyes seared with hatred and something else, hidden much deeper within. The boy had known who he was, perhaps since he had first stepped foot in Hogwarts, and yet Voldemort distinctly remembered a very heated night they shared. Perhaps he's not as morally strict as his parents. Voldemort thought. Part of him wondered what Hadrian had to gain from this game between them. What was Hadrian's ultimate goal?

He tried to remind himself over and over that the boy with the wild hair and Killing Curse colored eyes across from him was in fact, Harry Potter. A child he tried to kill. A child he had wanted to kill. But the more he studied the boy, the more he began to notice differences between Harry Potter and Hadrian Black. He didn't have the same defined morality that his parents had and likely would have belonged to Harry Potter. Hadrian Black was morally promiscuous, picking and choosing his morals based on the situation he was in. Harry Potter, likely, would have been a fully light wizard, never reaching into or contemplating the dark. Hadrian Black had few reservations about the dark. Harry Potter would have been the type to pursue justice, and Hadrian Black was the type to pursue revenge.

Gryffindor and Slytherin. Harry Potter and Hadrian Black. Both two sides of the same coin, but very different outlooks on life.

Hadrian's glare continued. The boy hadn't stopped since the moment he stormed into the room, those emerald eyes pinning him. He had quite ungraciously dropped into the chair across from him and stared over the desk with hatred. He would never admit that he was amused by the boy's antics. Hadrian enjoyed the game as much as he did, maybe even more. Why else would he so willingly play? 

The boy was a million secrets wrapped in an athletic form. He was slowly tearing those secrets free and it gave him a great amount of pleasure. First, his cousin standing proud at Hadrian's side. Another heir of Slytherin. Hadrian seemed to attraction Slytherin's heirs like a magnet. Then his hidden identity. What more was hidden behind emerald eyes?

It was a good ten minutes before either of them spoke.

"Are you planning on glaring me into eternity?" Voldemort asked nonchalantly. "Because if so, I'm going to return to grading assignments."

Hadrian rolled his eyes. "You tricked me."

"Which time?"

Hadrian snorted, though Voldemort wasn't sure he was aware of the action. "I should have suspected that you'd have a task which we didn't know was a task. Clever. And a lack of foresight on my part. But what I didn't expect was that my task was to lead you to an innocent person."

Voldemort smirked slightly. Hadrian hadn't noticed that he was being watched, through a most unexpected proxy. Hermione Granger, the Muggleborn the Malfoys had so kindly taken in, had a beautiful necklace given to her during the holidays from an anonymous source. Through sheer serendipity, it was Ms. Granger who was Hadrian's companion into the forest. Hadrian had smartly knocked his companion unconscious after finding Hagrid, but it wasn't enough to knock out the necklace. Voldemort heard everything.

He remembered Rubeus Hagrid, the half-giant in his year at Hogwarts. They were in different houses, Hagrid a Gryffindor while he was a Slytherin. Poor Hagrid had been the target of his own attempt to throw Dumbledore off his trail. The half-giant was expelled from Hogwarts and forbidden to ever use magic again. Though Dumbledore had a soft spot for the man, letting him stay at Hogwarts as the gamekeeper. That was until sixteen years ago when Hagrid had seemingly vanished off the face of the Earth along with nearly every other member of the Order. But he hadn't. He was right under Voldemort's nose the whole time, in the layer of that damned acromantula.

"Innocent is a point of view, Harry." He watched something flicker behind Hadrian's eyes, but otherwise, the boy barely reacted to his real name. He decided to press it further. "Or do you prefer Hadrian?"

"Do you prefer Gaunt or Voldemort?" Hadrian challenged in return.

Perhaps it wasn't Harry and Hadrian who were two sides of the same coin, but rather Hadrian and himself. A push in the right direction and Hadrian would become him. Snakes in masks. Intriguing.

Voldemort leaned forward on his desk. The boy was so irritated, he would be so much fun to play with. So, he decided to have some fun. "I'm merely wondering what to call you during sex."

Hadrian's face reddened briefly. The redness, however, was quickly chased away by an annoyed look. "I really don't care what you call me." Now, it was Hadrian's turn to lean forward. "But I am curious about something."

Voldemort raised an eyebrow. "Do tell."

"Why haven't you told anyone else?"

He was unexpectedly taken aback by the question.

"Have you told anyone else? Who I am, who you are?"

"only told one person. Twice in fact." He couldn't help but notice the way the boy accentuated the word "I." More knew, but Hadrian wasn't the one who told them. Voldemort pressed further with a raise of an eyebrow. He knew who it was, but he wanted to hear Hadrian say it. "Cordelia."

"Yes, my dear cousin. Understandable that you would tell her. She is, after all, family." Hadrian winced. Cordelia was a touchy subject. Maybe it was all his friends, but he could be certain that pressing about his cousin would bring out Hadrian's anger. "Perhaps I have been pursuing the wrong Ilvermorny student." Hadrian twitched. "Maybe I should offer her a place at my side, among loving family."

Hadrian jumped from his chair and slammed his hands on the desk. Tables and chairs overturned as Hadrian's magic lashed out, but his eyes were focused completely on him. "Don't even think about touching her." He hissed.

Voldemort surveyed the damage that Hadrian's magic had done before looking back at Hadrian seething across the desk. He stood and walked around the desk. Hadrian straightened as he neared and soon they were inches apart. 

"I like you angry." He whispered. 

He could hear Hadrian's breath hitch. After all that the boy had been through at his hand — the murder of his parents, Voldemort's rampage through his mind — he was still inexplicably attracted to him. He could push and force Hadrian in the right direction, eventually turning the boy just as dark as he was. Though the boy would probably resent him for it. Or, he could pull him along using Hadrian's attraction against him. However, Hadrian was clever enough to notice any direction Voldemort would try to maneuver him in. He should just let the boy be. He had no reason to suspect that Hadrian would do anything to him. He had his chances and had yet to take one.

Hadrian's eyes flicked back and forth between his own. For a brief moment, he saw a strange emptiness to those eyes. Hadrian's mind wasn't completely intact. It was his fault with his own lack of tact, but it was interesting to watch Hadrian battle back from the confines of his mind.

The two stood nearly touching as minutes ticked by before Hadrian pulled himself away.

The boy said nothing as he walked toward the door, laying his hand on the handle before Voldemort spoke again.

"And Hadrian," He kept his voice light. "Do tell my cousin she is invited to sit with me for the rest of the tournament. I'm sure she'll want a better view of her best friend." He couldn't see Hadrian's face to know his reaction, but he imagined that delicious anger flickering across it once again before Hadrian left the room.


"And Hadrian," Every nerve in his body lit on fire at once. Here it comes. He thought. The moment he was waiting for. "Do tell my cousin she is invited to sit with me for the rest of the tournament." 

And there it was.

Hadrian smirked as he continued to face the door. For a dark lord, Gaunt was incredibly predictable. He thought that in keeping Cordelia close, he was keeping Hadrian closer. Hadrian anticipated this, he wanted this. Cordelia was right where she should be, under Gaunt's unsuspecting nose.

Hadrian left the room, attempting to keep his calm until he was far enough away. But internally, he was downright giddy. He knew what Voldemort would do the moment he tried to push him about Cordelia. While Hadrian's reaction had been mostly genuine, he had carefully hidden his triumph. He had bated the man and Voldemort took it. Cordelia was right where she should be for the last task. All he needed was to figure out how her, Hermione, and Draco were leaving Hogwarts. Carlos, Alexander, and Nicholas were another issue. How was he going to escape with six people from Hogwarts Castle in addition to himself and Ron? He knew Ron and himself could escape out of wherever the last task was being held, but leaving the anti-apparition wards of Hogwarts would prove difficult without risking being caught. He rubbed the back of his neck as he thought. There had to be a way. 

Maybe they all could fly out. But he didn't know how the newcomers — Ron, Hermione, and Draco — were on brooms. Maybe thestrals? Had anyone other than him seen death? There would be no way for them to meet up until they were out of stands and he and Ron were away from the task. But having them wait was too risky. The longer they stayed at Hogwarts, the more likely they were to be caught.

He automatically navigated the moving staircases of Hogwarts until he collided with another body. He looked upward, feeling himself blink slowly as he tried to comprehend what happened. The person he collided with turned and looked him over before realization flickered through their eyes. They lifted a finger, first to their lips to silence whatever apology Hadrian was about to say before using the same finger to point to the figures walking toward them in the distance.

There were three. One was a woman, dressed in black leather which fit her form a little too well. Her long, curly black hair was tied neatly behind her head. Hadrian could barely make out a streak of white through it. Her eyes were wild and chaotic and she exuded dark energy. Most avoided her eyes as she passed, her head high. Of all the characteristics that could have given away Bellatrix Lestrange, it was her hair that struck Hadrian. Sirius had the same, wild curly hair. It was why Hadrian was able to masquerade as his son. Hadrian looked at the two following her. Red-headed twins. Both were dressed in all black suits, carrying themselves with the same pride that Bellatrix carried herself with. The Weasley twins, Fred and George. 

They were Ron's older brothers who had been given to Bellatrix. Their little brother had been given to Bellatrix's sister, Narcissa. And now they were here. In time for the last three tasks of the tournament which heavily featured their little brother and Bellatrix's adopted nephew.

Conversation resumed as soon as the three of them were out of sight. People chattered excitedly or anxiously about the arrival of Bellatrix and her notorious twin wards. The crowd dispersed as people speculated about the arrival of the trio. Hadrian swallowed thickly as a knot began to form in his stomach. This was becoming ever more complicated.

It was some hours later before Hadrian saw the twins again. Their red hair shone brightly in the sunset as he trudged back toward the carriage he was currently calling home. He noticed them before they noticed Hadrian, but the moment they did, they made a beeline for him.  Hadrian stood still to let them approach before a quick gesture told him to follow. He huffed but obeyed. 

They moved away from any other students before Fred and George both rounded on him.

"Hello, Hadrian. I'm Fred. This is George." The other nodded. 

"Fred. George." Hadrian greeted.

"Might I ask what you plan on doing with our little brother?" George asked.

"Doing?" Hadrian returned, playing dumb.

"You two were seen together yesterday. And at least once before that." Fred said, examining his nails.

"He's a competitor in the same tournament. Why shouldn't we talk?" Hadrian asked, folding his hands behind his back.

"Are we cheating, Hadrian Black?" George asked him, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

"Cheating?" Hadrian asked, attempting flabbergasted. "I would never."

Fred hummed. "Then you want something else." He paused. "Or are you planning something else?"

Hadrian shrugged.

"Ron told us that you helped him early in the tournament. Gave him a spell to beat an acromantula." George said with a yawn.

"Our little brother is so deathly afraid of spiders. It was kind of you to help him." Fred said.

"Your point is?" Hadrian hedged.

"Our point is you helped him," Fred began.

"And now we'll help you." George finished.

Fred produced a piece of parchment from his jacket and, simultaneously, George removed his wand from his sleeve. George pressed the wand to the parchment.

"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."

The moment he finished, words began to flood onto the page. 

"Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present; THE MARAUDER'S MAP."

He stared for a long moment at the names on the page. Moony, Padfoot, and Prongs. Remus, Sirius, and his father, James. He had heard stories about the Marauder's Map but never expected it to fall into his hands. Especially not this way.

"The secret to our success." Fred's eyes gleamed with mischief. 

"We've decided your needs are greater than ours. How often will we need to sneak around Hogwarts?" George winked.

"Good luck, Hadrian Black."

And they were gone. Walking away before Hadrian could truly comprehend what had happened. But he knew one thing. 

He had a way out.

Chapter Text

Nicholas looked around the dark room. The only place illuminated with the center of the arena, a pit amongst the stands. The pit was lit by lanterns, the only light in the otherwise dark stadium. The students of every school were in the stands and the champions who were knocked out of the tournament sat among them, always wearing their tournament garb. Castelobruxo, Mahoutokoro, Uagadou, and Beauxbatons' students sat silent. Currently, the Durmstrang champion was in the area, the first of four to compete. Hadrian had figured out his clue quickly for the fifth task and he and Ron had been training in the days leading up to it to ensure they would be the final two in the sixth task. He didn't know where Hadrian and Ron were or if they could see what was currently happening, but it seemed that their training was ultimately beneficial.

The Durmstrang champion stood with his wand held high as another boggart slid forward, its form twisting and turning until it shaped into someone Nicholas didn't know. The boggart's eyes looked at Alexi was malice as it hissed and spat words Nicholas couldn't understand. The Durmstrang champion turned only to face yet another boggart who continued to spit at him. When the champion turned again, Nicholas could see fear in his eyes.

He didn't know whether or not to be sadistically happy or feel empathy for the boy from Durmstrang. He hadn't forgotten the tension between the boy and Hadrian after their first Defense class. However, as far as foes go, Alexi was lower on the list. While there was some tension between them before the first task, after the task, Alexi had returned to the open arms of his classmates with a brand new battle scar. He seemed calmer after that, not once making a snide comment to Hadrian or attacking him when they were near each other. It was as though they had all but forgotten one another.

Alexi shifted again as the voice grew louder and more menacing. Louder and louder, meaner and meaner. The attempted the Boggart-Banishing spell, but the more he tried, the worse they became. Nicholas recognized one face, the headmaster of Durmstrang, Igor Karkaroff. Sneers followed what were likely harsh words until one of the boggarts reached out and pushed the boy to the ground. He seemed frozen in terror, unable to move as the boggarts bared down on him. Nicholas' heart raced. Wasn't someone going to do something?

He felt himself beginning to stand, his wand slipping into his hand when a shout echoed across the arena.

"Riddikulus!"

The boggarts jumped back, each wearing more and more obscene clothing than the one before it. Nicholas searched the crowd for the caster. A girl jumped the railing of the arena, landing gracefully on her feet with her wand at the ready. Alexi's little sister. She ran toward him, gently touching his shoulder as he lied curled into a ball on the floor. He twitched slightly as she whispered comforting words. Eventually, he raised his head, looking at her quizzically before reaching out to touch her arm. Behind her was the Durmstrang headmaster who, gently, reached down and helped the champion up. He let the boy lean most of his weight against him as he helped him out of the arena. The three disappeared as Nicholas looked to Cordelia. She shook her head slightly.

As far as people who were confronted with their fears, Cordelia was amongst them. She was sitting next to Voldemort and surrounded by Death Eaters. Voldemort would lean down and whisper something to her, making her twitch in one way or another. He grinned sadistically before returning to whatever conversation previously occupied him. She sat stiffly, almost as though she were a statue. Next to her were the twin wards of Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix herself sat behind Cordelia and frequently engaged in conversations with Voldemort. Neither of the twins spoke to Cordelia, but instead intently watched the tournament in front of them. Nicholas saw one huff in exasperation before handing, what was likely the bargain of a bet, to his brother. 

Various conversations around the arena died down as the next champion entered. Ron. 

His wand was already out and Nicholas could see him swallow thickly. The cabinet containing one of the boggarts opened and it sprang free, shifting and changing into a massive spider. Another container burst open and a second boggart followed suit. A third and fourth repeated the pattern until Ron was surrounded by massive spiders. He could hear the Hogwarts champion whimper slightly before muttering.

"Spiders. Why couldn't it be butterflies?" 

He raised his wand as the spiders snapped at him with their pinchers, edging closer and closer.

"Riddikulus!" The first spider snapped and suddenly fell to the ground. It struggled to stand but all of its legs were settled nicely into roller skates. Giggles echoed from the crowd as the spider repeatedly tried to stand and fell again and again. Ron repeated his action until all the spiders were collapsing quite comically. Ron laughed slightly before the boggarts changed again and returned to their respective containers. He sighed in relief before quickly leaving the arena. Nicholas could almost hear the pounding of his heart.

Voldemort again turned and said something to Cordelia as Nicholas looked over. As he turned away, her eyes met his and she mouthed a word. Bored.

It was Hadrian's turn next. 

Hadrian strode into the arena, looking calmer than either of the champions who preceded him. He stood in the center; his arms folded behind his back as the noise in the arena settled down once again. The cabinet in front of him rattled and for the third time, a boggart sprung forward. It twisted and shifted until suddenly, there were two Hadrian's in the arena. One with emerald eyes, one with crimson red.

Out of the corner of his eye, Nicholas could see Voldemort shift forward in his seat. 

Another Hadrian appeared and the two began circling the one in the center, whispering as their red eyes fixed on their target.

"You're afraid." One whispered.

"Afraid of the truth seeing the light of day." The other continued.

"Afraid of what you could become."

"Afraid you have betrayed the memories of the dead."

Hadrian stood still as they circled like hawks circling prey.

"Afraid of yourself."

Hadrian yawned slightly before raising his wand over his shoulder and aiming it at the clone behind him. Its clothes shifted and suddenly, there was Hadrian in the middle of the arena in a bright pink, two-piece swimsuit. Nicholas laughed, not because he was seeing Hadrian in the swimsuit, but because it seemed like something his best friend might do. The other shifted as Hadrian pointed his wand at it and suddenly it was dressed in a long, flowing dress with a horrible wig. 

"Fetching," Hadrian said as he examined his other-selves. 

Hadrian then turned and faced Voldemort. His eyes fixated on the man as he bent at the waist in a low bow before straightening himself and whipping his wand quickly. A breeze brushed over Nicholas as the room darkened completely. When the lanterns were lit once again, Hadrian was gone.


"Well, he is certainly focused on you now," Ron muttered as Hadrian returned. 

Hadrian nodded briefly but said nothing as he passed him. They were in the final task now.

Hadrian had seen Alexi compete; he heard everything the boggarts spat. Alexi wouldn't be in the tournament anymore, but his last task bothered Hadrian. As Ron left to compete for himself, Hadrian approached the Durmstrang champion. His face was pale and his skin covered in a thin layer of sweat. His sister sat next to the bed, stroking his hair. Karkaroff had left not long before, needing to be present for the rest of the tournament. Hadrian reached into his pocket and Alexi's sister focused her wand on him. Hadrian knew she was right to be worried after all the two of them were competitors in the same competition. But Hadrian felt no animosity toward him. 

He locked eyes with the girl as he slowly withdrew a bar of chocolate from his robes. He kept it for his own competition against the boggarts but he didn't need it all. Hadrian broke off a piece before holding it out for Alexi to take.

"Here, eat this." The boy hesitated. Hadrian nodded reassuringly. "It's all right. It's chocolate."

The boy reached out with a shaky hand and took it before his eyes met Hadrian's again. "Thank you."

Hadrian nodded before returning to the lookout he had been standing by before. He was in time to watch the nearest spider fall on its skates.

Now it was only he and Ron, right where they should be.

The headmasters of the various schools joined them with Voldemort right behind them. 

The man first addressed Karkaroff and Alexi. "I applaud you for coming so far. You should be proud. But this is the final task for you." 

Alexi nodded slowly and the two of them left. Voldemort turned to Hadrian and Ron.

"Congratulations champions. You have made it to the last task. Your final task will take place a week from now." From his robes, Voldemort withdrew two notes and handed one to each of them. The duo took them with sideways glances at one another. "We shall see how you both are." Voldemort nodded to McGonagall and Nyah before turning to leave, pausing, and turning back to Hadrian. "Mr. Black. I believe your Defense professor was looking for you."

Crimson eyes sparkled with humor, as though he and Hadrian shared an inside joke.

"I'm certain he can wait a little longer," Hadrian said, smiling innocently after.

Voldemort raised an eyebrow. "What makes you think that?"

"I would not want to be rude to you, my Lord." 

Next to him, Ron tensed slightly and Nyah placed a hand on his shoulder, warning him that he was pushing too far.

Voldemort laughed, high and cold. "Indeed."

Voldemort left as Nyah pulled slightly, dragging him in the other direction. When they were far enough away, she sighed loudly.

"I know you have a need to challenge authority every now and then, but that man wants you dead. Pushing him is dangerous, Hadrian."

"I know what I'm doing."

"Do you?" Nyah asked, glancing at him. 

"Yes." Hadrian paused before stopping and looking at his headmistress. She stopped as well, her eyes evaluating him. "But I need to know something." She stayed silent, letting him continue to speak. "After the last task, will everyone be safe?"

Nyah nodded slightly. "Yes. No one can risk hurting Ilvermorny students without risking war with their parents and an entire country with them."

Hadrian nodded and started walking again.

"Where are you going?" Nyah asked.

Hadrian paused for a moment. "I have a Defense professor to speak with."

Hadrian didn't bother changing out of his tournament robes before trotting up to the Defense classroom. He paused outside the door for a moment before letting out a breath and opening it. Initially, the room appeared empty as though he had beat the other there. He stepped for inside the door but the moment he did, he felt a hand grasp the front of his shirt and pull him further into the room. The door slammed behind him and Hadrian was forced back against the door. Gaunt suddenly flooded his vision.

"You're insolent." Gaunt hissed.

"You're obvious." Hadrian returned. 

He was expecting a fight. He was expecting anger at his rudeness. He was expecting a million things. 

But what he got was Gaunt's lips crashing into his own. Surprise ran through him.

This man constantly boggled him. He tried to kill Hadrian as a child only to find him incredibly interesting as an adult. He was incredibly angry when he found out Hadrian Black was Harry Potter and yet here he was kissing him yet again.

There's no harm in indulging a little. A small part of him whispered. You'll be away soon. You can savor this.

The small part of him grew louder and louder until he found himself wanting to give in. One of his hands slid around Gaunt's waist, pulling the man closer. Gaunt hummed as Hadrian returned his kiss.

Indulge a little.

Their bodies ground together as they continued to kiss. Gaunt's other hand wrapped around him, holding Hadrian close. Hadrian pushed against Gaunt's body, pushing him back into the room until Gaunt collided with a table. He could feel Gaunt move onto the table as he kissed Hadrian's neck. He followed the other, straddling him and resting his knees on the table. Gaunt's other hand released Hadrian's shirt only to run through his hair. The man's teeth dug into the flesh at the base of his neck, causing him to jump slightly, his hips jerking forward. The other moaned slightly and let his tongue trail over Hadrian's collar bone. 

He didn't know what happened, but suddenly he didn't feel as though he was in his own body. He felt as though he were being straddled and when his eyes opened, he saw himself. His lips were parted and his hair wild. His eyes opened and he could see his own emerald eyes. Flashes ran through his mind, mostly Hadrian's body, exposed by the boggarts during the task. He saw his own eyes scan his other body. Fetching. He saw himself look upward; his eyes locked with Voldemort's as he bowed. He could feel the emotions that ran through the other at the moment, lust being chief among them.

As suddenly the experience began, it ended and Gaunt was pulling him closer for another kiss. Gaunt shifted his hips upward, causing him and Hadrian to grind against each other. The friction made his breath catch in his throat. The other noticed and moved again. 

What a sight it must have been if anyone had walked in on them at that moment. They ground against each other, desperately grasping at the other while they kissed. 

Gaunt stood, lifting Hadrian with surprising ease. He wrapped his legs around the other's waist and the next thing he knew, Hadrian and Gaunt were falling against a very familiar bed. Only this time felt different. Clothes flew off, scattering across the floor. Their bodies ground together, skin against skin. Hadrian kissed down Gaunt's neck before sinking his teeth into the other's shoulder. The moan he let out excited him further. The other rolled them making Hadrian settle quite nicely above him. His nails ran down his back, making Hadrian arch against him.

"Tell me what you want, Hadrian." Gaunt's voice was husky as he reached up and pushed Hadrian's wild hair out of his face.

What did he want? It made him pause. For the longest time, he wanted revenge; revenge for his parents and for everyone Voldemort had tortured, tormented, and killed over the years. And yet here he was, naked and straddling the man he had wanted revenge against. Did he want revenge or did he want Gaunt? Or did he want both? Was it selfish to want him? Or was it something else?

"You're thinking too much," Gaunt whispered as his lips brushed over Hadrian's neck.

"What do you want?" Hadrian asked.

"I've already told you what I want. I've told you a few times. I want you."

Chapter Text

Bellatrix strode through the castle. The task ended a few hours ago and since then, her Lord had vanished. Some in the room heard him tell the Ilvermorny champion that the "Defense teacher" was looking for him. The Ilvermorny champion seemed to be a clever boy and incredibly talented too. She could understand her Lord's interest in him. He would make a valuable Death Eater and an American one. He would be the foothold needed to expand into new countries. And with the connections made during the tournament, he and Ron could persuade others and they could persuade their friends and the Dark Lord's takeover would be complete. He would rule the world with Bellatrix at his side. 

She stood outside the Defense classroom, readying herself to meet her Lord. They had spoken briefly before the tournament but he was distracted during it. She straightened herself. She was one of a privileged few who knew what her Lord's true face looked like. Some thought he was disguised at the homely Defense professor, that the angelic face he adorned was the mask. He was in fact, that Defense professor, using his real face to lure people to him and eventually turn them to him. The other face, the mask, was meant to inspire fear, to keep the masses in line. And it worked fabulously.

She pushed the door open and stepped inside the classroom. It was empty and dark. The desks were in their normal positions except for a slightly crooked one. Part of her wondered how her Lord was able to retire to his rooms with the desk crooked. She straightened the desk, idly thinking of how he would thank her. Possibly. She moved through the room, inspecting it until she reached the bottom of the stairs that lead first to the Dark Lord's office and then his bedroom. She looked up the stairs to see a massive snake being to descend. Nagini. The snake only wandered around the castle during the night. She was massive and venomous and terrified most of the students. Bellatrix almost felt bad for her. She was often locked in the Dark Lord's office with little attention, but she did have a massive fireplace. Bellatrix watched the snake slither past her before she placed a foot on the lowest step. That was when she heard the noise.

It almost sounded like a moan.

Perhaps it was a groan of pain. Her Lord was torturing someone. Maybe he would even let her join.

She stepped up another step and heard it again. The moan. 

Another step and another sound. This sounded like the squeak of furniture. 

It had to be him standing from the desk he was leaning on. Wasn't it?

She continued up the stairs before she pushed the door to her Lord's office open. Normally she would be very careful to not anger him but she was curious. But then again, everyone knows what happened to the curious cat. 

The office was empty with a crackling fire. She pushed further into the room and looked at the door which lead to his bedroom. 

Perhaps he was doing something for himself. He was always rather tense.

She withheld a snicker. If he needed to let off some frustration she was more than happy to help. She placed a hand on the door when she heard a moan again. The door was easy to open as she attempted utter silence. He would murder her if she was disrupting something like the thoughts running through her head. Or maybe not. He wasn't exactly a prude. She remembered the story of his return and immediately began to tease Lucius while he stood naked in the man's office.

Maybe he wouldn't kill her, but ask her to join, or worse watch.

It took her eyes a second to adjust to the darkness. Another moan escaped from it as she blinked into the room. When her eyes adjusted, horror rushed through her. 

The first thing she saw was the pale skin of a surprisingly muscular back. One half of his body was covered in the blankets of the bed and the other half seemed to be wrapped in another pair of arms. She couldn't see his face, but she could see the other's. His face was exposed with one hand grasping his neck. The first person she saw, who she was now realizing was her Lord, had his face buried against the exposed skin on the other side. Their bodies ground together as another realization dawned on her. The other was the Ilvermorny student. Hadrian Black. Their bodies turned so she couldn't see them and she withheld a sob as she watched her Lord kiss him. They were so wrapped in each other that neither noticed her as she backed out of the room and silently closed the door. She tiptoed from the office before she was far enough away that neither would hear her run.


Hadrian moaned as Gaunt pushed further into him. He had one leg wrapped around the other's body as his nails dug into Gaunt's back. Gaunt was relentless, finding new ways to force the moans from him. A kiss on the neck, a soft bite, placing his fingers in just the right spot. Even how he held him was enough to drive Hadrian nuts. For a dark lord, he was surprisingly insistent on the more intimate aspects of sex. No matter how often he would kiss or bite other parts of him, his lips would always find Hadrian's again. Not that he minded. Gaunt rolled them so he was on top of Hadrian once again. He lifted Hadrian's other leg so it too was wrapped around his waist. He thrust his hips forward and Hadrian couldn't stop the moan that escaped him. 

Above him, Gaunt grinned in satisfaction and continued thrusting, hitting the same spot over and over. Hadrian's back arched as Gaunt lowered himself once again. Their lips met and one of Hadrian's hands dragged up the other's back to fist in his perfect, chestnut hair. Unfortunately for him, his hair hadn't exactly kept its put together state as Hadrian's hands had found their way through it several times. He couldn't help but think the other looked better with the sex hair. 

More and more their bodies moved against each other until one of Gaunt's hands slid down Hadrian's chest and gripped him. He gasped as Gaunt began to pump in time with his thrusting. One of the few things he prided himself on was his stamina, but Gaunt was undoing him so easily. He didn't think he'd last much longer. He thought for certain Gaunt would undo him completely when the other stopped all motions and withdrew from him. His eyes blinked open only to see Gaunt grinning above him. 

"Don't think I'm finished with you so easily." Gaunt kissed him once again before that same mouth began to kiss down his body.

He nipped and licked as he went before his dark eyes flicked back to Hadrian's face. He winked and, while still keeping his eyes on Hadrian, took his erection into his mouth. It took Hadrian everything he had not to thrust upward as the other continued his task to undo Hadrian completely. He was an expert and Hadrian felt his eyes sliding shut again as pleasure once again dragged him under. 

Just as he was on the edge again, Gaunt stopped again and kissed back up Hadrian's body. He whimpered before the other caught his mouth again. 

"Just imagine how our first time could have been if you had just given in then." Gaunt hummed as he kissed Hadrian's forehead. "I'm making up for lost time."

"You're torturing me is what you're doing," Hadrian muttered as he came back to himself, no longer on the edge but aching all over for a release he was constantly being denied.

Gaunt laughed and cupped Hadrian's cheek. "Like I said, lost time."

He kissed him again, a surprisingly tender kiss. Hadrian felt as though he were going to drown.


He pulled away from Hadrian and the other blinked up at him. He looked so vulnerable. If he had a heart, it might break. 

Maybe you do. Some secret part of him whispered. What is your draw to the boy otherwise?

Hadrian was all heart. He felt things more deeply than anyone Voldemort knew and it seemed to be rubbing off on him. Normally when he coveted someone, it was for a different reason. He wanted their loyalty, he wanted them to bend to his will and then enforce his vision of the world. It worked for a while and he felt nothing. Until this emerald-eyed boy barreled into his life with a mind for revenge and incredible power running through his veins. He would be lying if he said he only wanted the boy for the same reasons he wanted everyone else. That had been true at first. He wanted the boy's power. He wanted him by his side to rule. What a valuable asset he would have been. Hadrian already seemed to inspire loyalty, fierce loyalty, from his friends. Imagine what he could have done with legions of followers. But now he wanted the boy for something more. He wanted Hadrian. 

He had been on the other side of that want for a long time when he was younger and again when he returned to his former body. Bellatrix lusted after him in either form, desperate to please and gain his attention. He never felt the same. He never felt anything, though he had indulged a few now and then. Men. Women. It hadn't mattered. He wanted the pleasure not the person on the other side. It was the only time he had felt something. 

But for some inexplicable reason, Hadrian made him feel. He should hate it and if it were anyone else, he might. But he was inexplicably drawn to Hadrian. Of course, it wasn't inexplicable. They were bound by something more than lust. Fate. Souls. Minds. And now in bodies.

He lowered himself down to Hadrian again, their lips connecting again. He could feel Hadrian sink in and he wanted to join him. Maybe he should.

Hadrian grasped at him, pulling him closer. He didn't even know if he knew he was doing it. But he gave in either way.

Sex was fairly simple if you thought about it. But there was nothing simple about this. Nothing simple about Hadrian and nothing simple about himself. 

He sunk against Hadrian, pushing inside him once again. The other hummed. He was determined to have more. He thrust more, feeling Hadrian rock against him. His hands came around his shoulder and Voldemort cradled Hadrian's head before resting his head on the other's shoulder. Their bodies rocked together as they grasped at one another, seeming to want to pull each other closer. 

More. More. More. A part of him demanded and he gave in.

Hadrian kissed his shoulder — such a tender and thoughtless act — but it brought a moan from deep within him. Hadrian continued and more moans left his lips. He kissed until he reached his neck where he mimicked what Voldemort himself had done earlier. He nipped at his neck and he couldn't help his reaction. His hips thrust again, making Hadrian moan into his neck. Simultaneously, they pulled away from each other and their eyes locked.

"Keep your eyes open," He felt himself saying as he stared into those emerald depths.

More and more the thrust and Hadrian's hands dug into his back. He could feel his pleasure building along with Hadrian's. He let it. 

More. More. More.

Hadrian came undone first. His eyes slid shut as pleasure caused his body to shake. It was the sight of Hadrian coming undone under him that made him follow suit. He collapsed forward afterward, absently waving his hand to clean them both up.

Hadrian breathed heavily under him but he didn't let him go. They stayed tangled together as the minutes ticked by. Eventually, Voldemort rolled away, expecting Hadrian to jump up and leave immediately as he had the last time. But he didn't. Instead, he stared at the ceiling as though it had answers to a million questions running through his brain. 

"You can stay," He said. "Not a good idea for one of the final two champions to be caught after curfew."

Hadrian nodded before closing his eyes. Eventually, his breathing evened out and soft snores came from him.

Voldemort followed not long after. A strange feeling of peace settled in him as he drifted.

When he woke up the following morning, Hadrian was curled into him, his head resting on his chest. He was still asleep and he looked years younger than normal. He stayed still for a few minutes until Hadrian began to stir. His breathing changed and a moment later his eyes blinked open. His face turned upward and their eyes met. Panic.

Voldemort chuckled. "Morning, sunshine. Comfortable?"

Hadrian launched himself upward until he was sitting on the edge of the other side of the bed. He should be offended but instead, he found the dark purple blotch on Hadrian's neck far too entertaining. He sat up and threw his legs over the edge of the bed before he felt a burn in his back. He turned and watched as Hadrian approached a mirror his hand touching the purple mark Voldemort had left on him. He chuckled as he grabbed a pair of slacks and pulled them on.

"What are you laughing at?" Hadrian demanded behind him as he heard the movement of fabric. "You don't look much better." 

He turned to raise an eyebrow as Hadrian buttoned his shirt.

"Guess you can't see your back," Hadrian smirked.

He moved toward the full-length mirror and stood so he could see. Nail marks stretched the length of his back. He laughed again. 

"You're rougher during sex than I previously thought." Voldemort picked up one of Hadrian's shoes and waved it at him. Hadrian huffed as he walked over, about to grab it before Voldemort pulled it out of the way, making Hadrian's hand fall on his bicep. "I would have thought you were much more vanilla."

"Give me my shoe." He demanded.

"As you wish." 

Hadrian huffed again as he finished readying himself. "I have to go. People will worry." He pushed past Voldemort, his hand brushing along the bare skin of his abdomen.

"No kiss goodbye?" Voldemort asked, feeling the inexplicable need to tease the boy. He followed Hadrian out of the bedroom into the office where a pot of tea was readying itself. He grabbed the cup as Hadrian placed a hand on the door handle, ready to leave. "I'll see you later, sunshine." He teased. 

Hadrian turned to glare at him as he raised the cup to his mouth, winking before taking a drink. Hadrian left.


He stormed through the castle.

Sunshine.

The word ran around his mind, but mostly the tender way Gaunt said it. The teasing way. 

He groaned as he left the massive doors and trudged through the cold morning air. It was helped clear the fog in his mind. He needed a shower and a fifty-foot pole to keep between him and Gaunt. 

Him and Voldemort.

Hadrian practically slammed the door behind him before he moved to the mirror on the other side of his room. The mark stood out against his skin and he groaned again before slamming his fist into the wall next to the mirror. He was angry at himself. At Gaunt. At his life that lead him to revenge and then into the man's bed.

He looked at himself in the mirror, emerald eyes meeting emerald eyes.

"What are you doing, Hadrian?"

Chapter Text

Hadrian tapped his fingers on the table in front of him. Any minute now the others would begin arriving. He had found a way to tell each of them to meet him, including subtly slipping Ron a note while he ran shoulder to shoulder into him. To anyone else, it would look like competitors riling each other up before the final task instead of Hadrian's sleight of hand. One by one, he let each of the potential escapees know where to meet him and one by one, they began to show. Nicholas and Carlos were first, followed by Cordelia, then Alexander. Ron and Hermione came last, filtering into the empty spots around the table. Hadrian didn't stop drumming his fingers until the conversation eventually silenced. 

He stood and produced the Marauder's Map from his jacket. He placed it on the table between them. 

"This," He pointed to a passageway, labeled by the map. "Is how we're leaving Hogwarts. The passage leads to Honeyduke's cellar. You'll make your way into Hogsmeade, outside the anti-apparition wards around the castle. Nicholas, Alexander, and Carlos will leave during the tournament. You'll slip away without anyone seeing and use a disillusionment charm to move through the castle. Cordelia, Hermione, and Draco will slip away when I distract Voldemort." Ron winced but Hadrian ignored it. "You will also need to use a disillusionment charm. The chaos should be enough to distract from the three of you disappearing. And Ron and I will vanish from right under their noses." He looked at Ron. "How do you feel about flying?"

"Love it," Ron muttered.

"Good. You and I are flying out of the castle initially. There's only one problem," Hadrian looked at the others in the room. "Where do we meet after we leave?"

"The Forest of Dean." Hermione answered, staring intently at the map as she did. She must have known others were looking at her because she raised her head slowly to look at them in return.

"Why there?" Hadrian asked out of curiosity. 

"I just know." She held his gaze, challenging him to question her. But he didn't.

"All right. The Forest of Dean. Is there a specific spot or should we all just land in the forest and scream for one another until we find each other or something worse?"

"Wye Valley. It's in the forest. It's filled with bluebells. The flower." She explained to the others who seemed at awe with the idea of a forest of floating fireballs. "The Muggles won't be there yet to explore it. It's still early spring. We can meet there and decide what to do after."

"Great. Any questions?" Hadrian began folding up the map before resting his hands on the table.

"Just one," Alexander said as he eyed Hadrian. "Are you insane? We'll never pull this off."

"Do you remember what I told you a couple of months ago?" Hadrian asked. "When I tell you to run, you run. I will get us all out of this. This will succeed."

"How are you so sure?"

"Because I have to be." Silence fell between them before Hadrian spoke again. "Does Draco know about this? Does he know you're planning on stealing him away from his castle and lord?"

"Draco was the first person I told about the Dark Lord's plan to kill him. I told him I'd find a way out. A way for all of us to get out." He reached over and squeezed Hermione's hand. "This is that way."

He hummed and looked at them at each of them. "You're leaving your families. The people who raised you. The people who love you. This is your chance to back out. No one would think lesser of you if you decided to stay. To feign ignorance." But no one said anything. No one backed down. Each of their eyes met his and he could see their determination within. Hadrian nodded. "Very well." He ran a hand through his hair. "The last task is tomorrow. You should pack and rest." A couple at a time, they stood. "Nicholas. Stay a second."

The blond nodded as he gently kissed Carlos' hand before the other left the room. "What's wrong?"

Hadrian turned to the fire behind him. "Wrong? Nothing. I just need a favor."

"That doesn't sound promising." He could see Nicholas fold his arms out of the corner of his eye.

"I need you to carry my belongings before we get out of Hogwarts."

Nicholas laughed. He threw his head back and laughed, shaking his whole body. Hadrian raised an eyebrow.

"That's not at all what I thought you were going to say." He wiped a tear from his eye as he giggled.

"What did you think I was going to ask?"

"Oh, I thought you were going all noble hero about to turn dark side. 'Nicholas I need you to kill me if this need for revenge consumes me.'" Nicholas gave his best Hadrian impression.

"I don't talk like that." Hadrian huffed.

"Keep telling yourself that." Nicholas winked before patting Hadrian on the shoulder. "Don't worry. We'll keep you human."

Hadrian nodded. Eventually, he heard the distinct click of a door. He was alone.

His whole plan was coming together, with a few modifications, but there was one complication he didn't expect. Voldemort himself. Gaunt to be specific. It was hard for him to continue to put Gaunt and Voldemort in the same column, much like Hadrian and Harry. Deep down he knew he and his alter ego were the same, but Hadrian and Harry never felt like the same person. Even when he accepted that part of himself, Harry, he couldn't quite rectify the two. Just like Gaunt and Voldemort. In his mind, Voldemort was the monster who murdered his parents and tried to murder Harry Potter. But Gaunt. He didn't even know what Gaunt was to him. Boyfriend? A friend with benefits? A friend in general?

Could he leave him?

Hadrian pushed himself from the table he was leaning on and walked out of the Room of Requirement. It was night and the castle was already starting to cool. He could hear his footsteps echo from stone walls. He sighed, letting his fingers run across the walls and doors he came across. Harry Potter would have attended this school. He would have been friends with Ron and Hermione, maybe even Ron's older brothers. He would have played Quidditch for Gryffindor. He and Severus probably would have hated each other and he would have caused all kinds of trouble. He would marry a girl he met at school; they would go on to have three kids. He would love her, and them. He and Ron would stay friends for a lifetime and Ron would marry Hermione. 

A hand grasped his outstretched wrist, spinning him until he was face to face with the other.

But that life belonged to Harry Potter.

Gaunt grinned at him. "Hello, sunshine." Gaunt reeled him in closer until they were chest to chest. "How are you feeling about tomorrow?"

Hadrian swallowed. "Nervous. I don't know how this is all going to end."

"Who says it has to?" Gaunt asked, cocking his head. "The tournament will. But you can stay. You're seventeen. You can make your own choices. Win the tournament. And stay." Hadrian felt himself moving closer. "Stay with me."

He swallowed thickly as he looked into Gaunt's eyes. Was this Voldemort?

"For now," Gaunt said, his voice dropping an octave. "How about a good luck kiss?"

It's a goodbye kiss. He thought as he let himself drift closer to Gaunt. 

The man wrapped him tightly in his arms to pull him closer as their kiss grew more heated. Hadrian didn't want to let go. Letting go meant everything would change and he wanted to live in this moment. He wanted everything that this moment promised. 

But faces of the dead swam before his eyes. Red hair and emerald eyes. Black hair and hazel eyes. Red hair of people he didn't know, dark hair and grey eyes, a boy with a herbology book. 

Gaunt pulled away slightly, pushing Hadrian's hair back and cupping the back of his head. "I suppose I should let you go." He pulled away with a sigh. "I will be awake for a little longer. And I do have an awfully big bed." The teasing note in his voice was back. "I'll leave it up to you, sunshine."

He left and Hadrian felt more confused than ever. 

The next morning he stood outside the arena. The fact that he knew exactly what the last task looked like weeks ahead of time should have bothered him. It didn't. Ron stood at his side, bouncing as nervously as he did. They would exchange glances back and forth while the others in the room chattered amongst themselves. The arena in front of them reminded him much of the Roman Colosseum. The structure stood high with rows and rows of stands for spectators to sit in. The place where the Roman Emperor would have sat was where Cordelia, Hermione, and Draco currently sat with a space left for Voldemort. As the Death Eaters entered the arena, Bellatrix glared daggers at him and some part of him worried about how many maniacs he would have on his tail with his escape. Should he even join his friends? Wouldn't it be safer if he left them and drew the fire away?

It was the appearance of Gaunt as Voldemort that strangely reassured him. The man with the snake-like face and pale skin with blood-red eyes. Hadrian stared at him and Voldemort stared back before he spoke.

"Congratulations champions. Welcome to the final task." He held up a small, golden ball that reminded Hadrian wildly of a snitch. On the side was an engraving of a cup. "The first one to catch the real prize wins. Be warned, there are several. Grab the wrong one and you will be frozen momentarily. I would advise against it." He gestured to one side. "The Hogwarts champion, Mr. Ron Weasley, will enter from over there." Voldemort turned to him. "The Ilvermorny champion, Hadrian Black, will enter from the other side." He gestured to the other side. "Do you need me to show you?" He asked in a low voice.

"I think I can find it for myself. Thanks."

He trudged toward the entrance, shifting the shirt of his tournament clothes. He planned everything down to the last detail, except for how uncomfortable it would be to have the two objects he did pressed against the skin of his stomach.

He took in a deep breath as he reached the door to the arena. A broom sat next to the door, beckoning him to take it. He grasped the handle just as the doors swung open of their own accord. 

The last task began.

Hadrian straddled the broom and shot from the entrance. He found Ron easily and the two danced upward into the heavens. 

"Stay close!" Hadrian yelled over the wind. 

"We have to find that snitch! We have to draw this out!" Ron yelled. 

Nicholas, Alexander, and Carlos were counting on them.

Hadrian searched the mass they were about to fly into. A thousand golden snitches hovered around them, buzzing like bees. Next to him, Ron grabbed one and he watched as the other's body froze as though he had been struck by electricity. Ron began to fall from the sky and Hadrian's heart pounded. 

No one is dying today.

He whipped out his wand and aimed. "ARRESTO MOMENTO!"

Ron and his broom froze inches from the ground before landing with a thud. Ron stood a moment later, brushing himself off and nodding to Hadrian. He climbed back on his broom and shot back upward. Hadrian circled the buzzing mass as he watched three figures leave the stands and disappear seconds later. He still needed to delay. Hadrian and Ron zipped through the snitches before they seemed to shift their shape, reminding him of birds migrating. The snitches moved closer together and then suddenly rushed at Hadrian and Ron. The two shot out of the way, dividing the mass in two different directions. Higher and higher they climbed with their buzzing masses until both flipped end over end and dove back downward. He could feel the wind rush through his hair and over his body as he shot closer to the ground. Ron pulled up and swerved away before he did. He kept going before pulling the nose of his broom up quickly. Behind him, a thousand pats hit the ground as the snitches slammed into the grass below him. 

He arched back upward, seeing one snitch by itself. Ron spotted it at the same time. They raced. Closer, closer, closer.

Hadrian's hand closed around it first just as a massive bang echoed around the arena. People began to cheer as Hadrian flew toward the ground. He landed with Ron next to him before he looked up at Voldemort in his emperor's box.

A million things happened at once. Realization flashed through Voldemort's eyes, followed quickly by panic.

Hadrian pulled the objects from his shirt as he knelt on the ground. One, a diadem with a sapphire placed perfectly in the center of a massive raven, and the other the basilisk fang. Voldemort's eyes were locked with his as Hadrian aimed his wand upward, his other hand inches away from the diadem on the ground. Sparks shot upward, exploding in the air like fireworks and words glittered in the sky.

I am Harry Potter.

At the same time heard Voldemort yell, though he didn't know what.

"Fuck you," Hadrian whispered before his hand came crashing down against the horcrux. 

It screamed and exploded, a black mass echoing from it.

Hadrian pulled his Invisibility Cloak over himself and Ron as madness erupted around them. Spells flew in various directions and he briefly saw Hermione incapacitate Bellatrix before she, Cordelia, and a blond who Hadrian assumed was Draco disappeared. Hadrian pulled Ron onto the broom with him as a shield covered where the two of them previously stood. Alexi, the Durmstrang champion, stood with his wand extended and panting heavily.

"Go!" He yelled, his eyes frantically searching the emptiness. "Go! I'll hold them off!"

Hadrian kicked off the ground and he and Ron ascended into the sky.

Chapter Text

Part Three

Hadrian and Ron landed rather dramatically on the hard bed of blue flowers in front of them. Hadrian rolled to one side, his cloak moving with him. He groaned slightly before pushing himself upward. As far as injuries go, the broken arm he incurred upon landing was lower on the list. He pulled the cloak into a ball and cradled his arm against him before standing, only to come face to face with four wands. Hermione, Draco, Ron, and Cordelia had their wands pointed at his chest, each with different facial expressions. Cordelia looked pained, Hermione looked justified, Draco looked terrified, but Ron. Ron looked betrayed. Nicholas, Alexander, and Carlos rushed toward them, ready to interfere. Hadrian held up his good arm, a steadying hand holding them back.

"You're Harry Potter?" Cordelia said, her voice strained. 

"I am," Hadrian said, his voice level.

"Our whole lives you've been the enemy," Draco muttered, his wand twitching in his hand. 

"We trusted you," Ron said.

"I knew there was something wrong about you," Hermione twisted her hand, readying herself to cast any number of spells.

Hadrian pulled back his hair, revealing the lightning bolt scar on his forehead while looking Hermione in the eyes. "I've survived a killing curse once. Do you really want to try again?" He turned to Draco and Ron. "I pulled you out from the claws of a man who would have killed you and slept like a baby that night." His eyes flitted between the four of them. "Look at yourselves. You put your hopes and faith in someone deranged and twisted and yet you turn on me when my skeletons aren't as pretty as yours." His lip curled. "I should have left you to the wolves."

They stood in silence for a minute. Hadrian could practically here the seven pounding hearts of the people around him before Cordelia finally lowered her wand.

"Do you expect us to go on trusting you? After you've lied to us from the very beginning?" She demanded.

"Do you want to hear the whole story? Or are you going to kill me?" He asked.

"Speak," Draco commanded, his wand still pointed at Harry's heart.

Hadrian sighed before looking at Hermione. "I know you have a tent in there. We should find somewhere to camp. Set up protections and such."

"Why should we listen to anything you have to say?" Ron demanded, hurt still thick in his voice.

"Because they've seen you with me. You're marked now. All of you. Go off on your own, see how long you last." Hadrian snapped. "Or you can stick with me. And the prices on your heads go away."

"A price we have because of you!" Cordelia yelled.

"I gave you a chance to get out." Hadrian returned, his voice rising. "I warned the four of you," He waved his good hand at Nicholas, Carlos, Alexander, and Cordelia. "I told you I was wanted. I told you I was dead. I practically spelled out my name to you that night." He turned to Ron, Hermione, and Draco. "And if I hadn't gotten you out of there, Draco would be dead and you two along with him." He then turned to Cordelia specifically. "And you. You saw how he looked at you. How long do you think the great Dark Lord would have let his cousin live?"

Draco's eyes flitted to Cordelia and he began backing away, slowly.

"Oh right! I'm not the only one with secrets here!" He waved his good arm about. "So, let's get them all out in the open." He pointed at Nicholas, "Metamorphmagus." He pointed to Alexander. "Legilimens." He pointed at Hermione. "Muggleborn." He pointed to Ron. "Son of a blood traitor." He pointed to Cordelia. "The Dark Lord's fucking cousin!" He threw his hand up. "And I'm the one who knows how to kill him."

Hermione's wand dropped instantly. "You can kill him?"

Hadrian smirked. "Did you think I was out of plans?"

Hadrian had a wand trained on him while the others set up the tent and spelled the little grove they found themselves in. It was about a two-hour walk from the Bluebell field they landed in. Hadrian repaired his arm along the way before wrapping it in a sling. Currently, he was sitting on a rock while Carlos watched him. Of all the people he expected to watch him, it wasn't kind-hearted Carlos. But that was probably what made him the best. Hadrian had stepped on every set of toes possible to force them to this point, with only Carlos left untouched by his tirade. Anyone else would have killed him if he breathed wrong, but Carlos was the least fazed. 

Once the tent was set up, Carlos pushed the tip of his wand into Hadrian's upper back, spurring him forward and through the tent's entrance. Hadrian dropped into a car at one end of the table in the center of the tent. Carlos sat closest to him, a human shield to keep the others away from him. Cordelia sat at the far end of the table refusing to look Hadrian in the eye.

"Speak," Draco commanded again, reminding Hadrian incredibly of his father.

"Woof," Hadrian smirked, earning him a sting on his good arm. "Fine, fine." He huffed. "The Dark Lord has one weakness. His fear. He's afraid of death."

"How do you know this?" Hermione demanded.

"I have a way of finding out people's secrets. Did you think I couldn't find his?" Hadrian shrugged nonchalantly. "He created something, something in hopes of making him immortal." He leaned against the table, his eyes finding Hermione's. "A horcrux." She swallowed thickly and he knew she understood. "I don't know how many he made, but I know there are at least three. I've already destroyed one. But the rest and how many others. I don't know." He pulled the basilisk fang from his shirt and placed it on the table in front of him. "The basilisk venom can kill them. But the biggest task now is finding the rest before he finds me."

"Why? Why would he find you? Other than you killing a piece of him?" Hermione asked.

"'Neither can live while the other survives.'" He quoted. "He came for me because of a prophecy. One that said I would be his downfall. That neither of us could live while the other does. Either I kill him or he kills me."

An uncomfortable silence filled the room before Carlos let out a loud sigh. "Well, I believe him."

"You do?" Cordelia huffed.

"I do too." Nicholas chimed in. 

"So do I," Alexander said, his voice stronger than normal.

"As do I," Hermione said, earning her a shocked look from Ron and Draco. "I do." She said again. "He could have lied. Denied he was Harry Potter and said it was only for show, to distract the Dark Lord, something he said he would do. But he didn't. He told us the truth." Her eyes met his. "I saw that thing when it exploded after you stabbed it. That wasn't natural."

"It was a piece of his soul," Hadrian confirmed. "He split it. And the only way to kill him is to destroy them."

"You said you know about three of them," Draco hedged, leaning forward. His wand had been stowed away several minutes before. 

"The diadem, which I destroyed; the snake, and one other."

"Nagini will be impossible to kill," Ron said with a shudder.

"Not impossible." Hadrian huffed. "Just very, very difficult."

The rest of the day was spent in awkward silence as Hadrian was glared at by nearly everyone else who occupied the tent. He went about his business though, acting as if everything were normal. He even volunteered to be the first to watch for the night. The others eventually drifted off to sleep. Silence filled the world around him. The stars shone through the trees with the faint glow of the moon illuminating the world around him. There were no crickets, no breeze, no sound other than the soft snores behind him and the sound of his thrumming heart.

Eventually, he stood from the mouth of the tent and moved away. When he was far enough from the others so they couldn't hear him, he let down the wall between him and his emotions. Tears flowed freely and he collapsed on to one knee. He was barely able to breathe as the sadness and grief of the day sat on his chest, overwhelming him. His frustration at his friends turning on him, the pain of his broken arm, the frustration at being watched every moment, was nothing compared to the pain he felt at leaving Gaunt. It was like tearing a piece of himself out and shoving it away.

Far away.


Nicholas felt the weight of Carlos's head on his chest. Cordelia had taken over for Hadrian on watch and he trudged back inside looking half dead. He collapsed onto an empty bed, the only one separate from everyone else, before falling asleep. Nicholas had woken up when Hadrian and Cordelia walked past one another, the chill of their relationship making the whole tent freeze. Nicholas tightened his grip on Carlos before falling back asleep.

The next time he woke, light was barely creeping in through the fabric of the tent. Across from him, Hadrian began to stir before sitting upright in his bed. He moved mechanically as he sat up and pushed himself off the bed. He grabbed a piece of paper and a quill and began writing frantically. His eyes were glazed over, as though he were possessed. Nicholas woke up Carlos and pointed to Hadrian standing still at the table except for his frantically writing hand. Carlos moved silently and woke up Alexander in the bunk under them. Alexander grabbed Cordelia from outside who then woke up the other three. They silently approached Hadrian who had written halfway down the paper.

"I don't think he knows what he's doing," Nicholas said as he looked at his friend. He wasn't mad at Hadrian anymore. He had been at first. But the night had let him think. Hadrian had kept his secret until the last minute when he knew he could trust the others even when they didn't trust him. They backed him into a corner and he fought his way out. The more he thought about it, the more he started to see things the way Hadrian did. He was hunted his whole life and nearly killed as an infant. He could barely sleep without looking over his shoulder and then he was thrown at his near murderer's feet. 

"What's he writing?" Draco asked, peering over the table to try to look.

As Hadrian finished the rest of the paper before he blinked slowly at the page then lifted his head to blink slowly at the rest of them.

"Remember how I said I didn't know how many horcruxes there were? Now I do."

He turned the page so everyone could see. Scribbled across were lines and lines of the same words.

Diary. Locket. Cup. Diadem. Ring. Nagini. Hadrian Black.

Diary. Locket. Cup. Diadem. Ring. Nagini. Harry Potter.

Diary. Locket. Cup. Diadem. Ring. Nagini. Hadrian-

"You're the last horcrux." Carlos murmured.

"Yes," Hadrian confirmed.