Stepping through the door, Harry quickly took stock of the room. It was a large, circular area, with the floor dropping in height every five feet or so, leading down to a pit at the bottom. The pit was filled with a familiar swirling silver-blue mist, which Harry recognized as the same acid Snape had brewed, and Harry could see three specks of blood-red at the bottom of the pool. Although the surface of the acid only came to the second level, it reached out with numerous tentacles which wove through the air and through each other, filling most of the air up to the third level. Next to the door, there were three broom racks – one was empty, but the other two still held brooms – Harry recognized them as Cleansweep Sixes, just like the one Oliver Wood had.
The third broom was currently hovering over the pool of acid, slowly drifting in a circle. Adams, wrapped as always in his blue cloak, was sitting astride it, staring down at the pool of mist. After a moment, he flicked his wand, conjuring a small stone ball – when it fell into the mist, tendrils snatched it and tore it apart. Moments later, the stone ball had disappeared entirely.
“Interesting,” Adams mused to himself. “Based on mimbulus and acromantula venom, clearly. But what of the other ingredients?” He began casting at the pool, murmuring spells that caused flashes of light to bounce up from the surface of the acid. Meanwhile, Harry crept quietly over to the rack of brooms and took one down, mounting just as the Defense Professor spoke again. “Ah, quarandel flower! Elegant as always, Severus… the blood of the young will pass me by.” He glanced down at himself and chuckled dryly. “This body is too old, though. I sure there are some children breaking curfew, though, so little loss.” The broom turned, and suddenly stopped when he saw Harry flying towards him. “You.” Adams’ voice now held more hatred than Harry had ever felt from a person, second only to the loathing that had permeated the Restricted Section.
“Me,” Harry said, sounding braver than he felt. This was Professor Adams, who had been a renowned auror and had demonstrated his skill in Defense class. Even the advantage Harry would have over most people on a broom was negated – Adams had been a professor Quidditch player. In fact, there was only one thing he might do that might surprise the former Auror.
“Today, we’ll talk a little bit about magical shields,” Professor Adams said clearly and precisely as he paced across the front of the classroom. It was the day after Remus’s guest lecture, and Adams seemed determined to prove that he too he could teach theoretical Defense, not just give the practical lessons he had been doing since the beginning of the school year. “Most are too difficult and require too much magic for you to cast, but I’ll teach you the simplest shield at the end of the period. Now, who can name the most common magical shield… Abbott?”
Hannah Abbott put her hand down, saying, “Protego, the basic shield charm.”
“Correct, three points to Hufflepuff. Can anyone explain why it’s called the basic shield charm?”
“Because most other shield charms are variations on it,” said Justin Finch-Fletchley.
“Give an example, Finch-Fletchley.”
“Protego totallum, the strong shield charm. It takes much more power, but can block all spells.”
“All spells minus one,” Adams qualified, “but yes. Two points to Hufflepuff. What kinds of spells can a basic shield charm not block… Patil?”
“Um… really strong ones?”
“Not the answer I was looking for, but accurate, so one point to Gryffindor. Protego will allow many stronger spells, like colatus and obliviate, to pass right through, as well as breaking when exceptionally strong spells are cast at it. I’m looking for a different class of spells entirely. Potter, do you know?”
“Charms and transfigurations,” Harry guessed.
“Exactly, five points to Gryffindor.” Adams said with a faint smile. “Protego only protects against combat spells – jinxes, hexes, and curses, as long as they are not too strong for it. But transfigurations and charms are not combat spells, and thus pass through the basic shield charm. Protego totallum will block those as well, and doesn’t let the very strong spells through. So, most shield charms are limited to combat spells. There are various strengths and weaknesses to the different shield charms, but all share one common point of failure. Who knows what it is?”
Susan Bones raised her hand. “Solid objects.”
“Correct, five points to Hufflepuff. A solid object – a conjured and banished object, for example, will pass right through any shield charm. So, list ways to strike at an enemy through a basic shield charm.”
Everyone in the classroom began to call out ideas. “Disrupt their spells with aquamenti!”
“Summon something from behind them!”
“Cast lumos at their eyes!”
“Silence them so they can only cast wordlessly!”
“Banish something at them!”
“Repeat that, Weasley,” Professor Adams said over the din, quieting everyone instantly. “Say it again.”
Ron gulped. “Ah… tackle them.”
“Weasley is quite correct. The best way for a young wizard such at yourself to pass through a shield charm is to charge at your opponent physically. Knock their wand out of their hands if you can, but get inside the radius of their shield and you can strike easily. Most wizards will be quite surprised by a physical attack as well, so you’ll have the element of surprise on your side nearly every time. Now, let’s try the simple shield charm,” Adams said, drawing his wand. “It can only protect against jinxes and weak hexes, but that’s all you’re likely to be attacked with at this age. The incantation is oplindo, and the wand motion is like so…"
Harry turned his broomstick to point directly at the Professor and leaned forward, accelerating directly at him.
Adams’ eyes widened, just for a moment, before he dropped several feet down, out of Harry’s way. “You would touch me, me?” he sneered. Something seemed familiar to Harry about that sneer, but it was pushed from his mind by the professor’s net words. “I am no simple mage, foolish child, I am the Heir of Slytherin!”
“That’s a lie,” Harry snapped. “Voldemort was the Heir of Slytherin, and he’s dead now.”
Adams smiled coldly, beginning to chuckle, and within moments was laughing. “You don’t understand the power of Lord Voldemort, Potter,” he said a few moments later, after dodging another charge from Harry. “Power greater than any other wizard, great enough to conquer death itself! I am Voldemort, Potter!”
“You’re insane,” Harry snapped, charging again.
This time, Adams didn’t just dodge. He flicked his wand at Harry, sending a burst of blue light at him. Harry swerved around it and sent a petrificus totallus at the Defense professor, but missed.
Harry began flying circles around the professor, forcing him to turn around in order to keep an eye on Harry. After a few minutes of this, he closed his eyes and began hissing something, a strange and guttural sound.
“This body is not my own, free me from it. I would roam on my own, as vapor and shadow. Let me be free.” He opened his mouth, and a black, tar-colored smoke began to pour from him. More and more, a seemingly never-ending stream of dark mist emitted from Adams’ body, a familiar face forming as it stretched towards Harry.
The face of Voldemort.
The dark cloud of Voldemort’s soul, still pouring forth from Adams’ mouth, stretched towards Harry, who frantically pulled his broom short and did his best to stop. As though in slow motion, he saw two arm-like tendrils stretching towards him, leaning in to touch his face.
“I will take your body for my own,” Voldemort whispered in that same hissing tone. “I will lock you away within your own mind and rise to power anew. You will watch as I use your fame to create a new world, better than this one, and you will know, Harry Potter, that you have failed!“ The tendrils, now shaped properly like arms, stretched horribly and wrapped around Harry, cutting off his retreat, before grabbing his face.
But as those black, smoky hands touched Harry’s face, Harry felt heat where his skin touched Voldemort’s soul. The Dark Lord, however, seemed to feel actual pain – he screamed, and the smoke, bubbling and frothing where it touched Harry, immediately began to retract back into Adams’ body where it still billowed forth.
Acting on instinct, Harry chased Voldemort back to the body, slowing to a halt as it all reentered and the possessed professor began to rouse. He reached out and grasped Adams’ face, and it too began to burn and bubble.
Voldemort, within Adams’ body, opened his eyes to the same unbearable pain, and all he could do was reach up and try to push Harry away. But Harry’s grip was too strong, and he accomplished nothing but burning his hands again.
Harry watched, feeling an odd sense of detachment, as Adams’ face burned. Within moments it was nothing but a skull covered in a thin layer of muscle, as were the Dark Lord’s hands. He failed to notice, though, when Voldemort reached down into his robes to draw his wand. He didn’t realize the danger he was in until he felt a poke in his belly, and the burnt skull in front of him, somehow still alive, whispered from a hoarse throat.
There was a mighty boom, and Harry felt as though a troll had slammed him in the gut. He went flying across the room and landed on the platform, just as the door swung open. The last thing he saw before closing his eyes was Voldemort reaching into his robes and suddenly collapsing in upon himself, disappearing along with the rest of the world.
And then there was darkness.