LAST TIME

"Thank you." Harry dug into his pouch and removed two potion vials as Madame Maxime went out of the room, Mathéo standing guard. "Madame Flamel, please drink this."

"I am calm." She pushed away the vial. "I do not need a calming draught."

"Please, for me." Harry said. "Because if you do not, I will make you drink it."

She glared at him. "Potter—"

"Madame Flamel." Harry glared back. "Drink"

She pursed her lips and uncorked the vial, drinking it. Her eyes closed and she sighed.

Harry drank a pepper-up potion and steam billowed out of his ears.

"You stay here please. I will talk to Professor McGonagall and Sirius." Harry said. "Please don't run away this time. Professor Dumbledore asked me to take care of you. Please don't make this harder for me."

"I will try not to," she nodded.

"Thank you."


Ch.77 The Greater Good

14th April 1996

Finland

Snow drifted through the sky, settling on the dark spires that rose above the snowy cliffs. Clouds rumbled over the castle, dark blurs flitting between them.

"Herr Grindelwald, our ally approaches."

Grindelwald smiled, tucking a hand in the pocket of his waistcoat, the silver ring on his finger glinting.

The dark blurs descended in columns of black fog which writhed and faded away, revealing the Death Eaters clad in black robes and silver masks. A pair of red eyes shone next to Grindelwald as a bone-white face appeared, the fog settling around him, forming a black robe.

"Guten Tag." Grindelwald smiled. "Lovely day, isn't it?"

Voldemort sneered. "I thought we were here to win your castles back, not exchange pleasantries, Lord Grindelwald."

"A man more inclined to work than his fellow men." Grindelwald sighed. "The folly of youth today."

"You really sound like the old man, Dumbledore." A high voice had Grindelwald turning.

Snowflakes sunk into her raven locks, her hooded violet eyes glaring at Grindelwald unflinchingly behind an etched silver mask.

"I am an old man too, dear Bellatrix." Grindelwald smiled. "And it was me whom Albus learned this from, not the other way round. Now, Herr Voldemort. Are you and your men ready?"

"They are." Voldemort dipped his head. "Augustus, Dolohov?"

The two men in silver masks stepped forward, drawing their wands from their robes.

"Help my men take down the wards on this castle." Grindelwald removed a silver pocket watch from his waistcoat. "We should be prepared for resistance as always."

"Bella?"

"My Lord?" The witch knelt at Voldemort's feet.

"Help Lord Grindelwald's knights to take over the castle once the wards are down."

"As you wish, my lord." She kissed the hem of Voldemort's robes, joining the group of witches and wizards waiting on the side with their wands drawn.

"How many castles did you have?" Voldemort's red eyes latched onto the shimmering wards as they began to unravel.

"Several." Grindelwald closed his eyes. "So many that I barely remember the number. Each and every place I conquered, I had either built or enchanted a castle as a relic and a place for my followers. But once I was defeated, the ministries and the ICW seized them all." A ripple of magic melted the snow at Grindelwald's feet. "Locked them away because they were too scared of the wrong person. Too short-sighted."

The snow around his feet turned to steam, drifting away.

"I heard they even sold some of them to the muggles." A smirk curled up on Voldemort's lips. "Or more appropriately, gifted them to them after stripping all traces of magic from them."

Grindelwald opened his eyes, the clouds over them darkening. The cold melted away, and the winds picked up, rustling through Grindelwald's cloak. The snow swirled around the mountain.

"I will take them back. I will set the world right." A wand slipped into Grindelwald's hand.

A brilliant flash of light tore through the air and hit the shimmering wards with a tremendous bang. The mountain trembled, snow sliding off it, crashing down toward the muggle villages below.

Voldemort drew his own white wand, a frown creasing his bald forehead. "I expected Aurors here by now, since the wards are down."

"Oh, they have their security in place." Grindelwald's eyes hardened like shards of ice.

A loud roar shook the mountain and three big blurs flew out of the castle, casting a shadow over the two dark lords.

"Dragons." Voldemort tilted his head. "Kill them!"

"No," Grindelwald flicked his wand, erecting a massive shield as a spiked, black dragon breathed fire at his followers. "Stun them! Subdue them!"

Voldemort watched as the flames licked the silver shield and faded away without harming any of the followers. Stunners arced toward the dragons as a silver dragon swooped down toward the assembled knights, its claws glinting in the sun.

"Help me subdue one, Herr Voldemort," Grindelwald shot a brilliant beam of crimson at the third, dark green-scaled dragon, which wobbled in the air. "My men cannot take all three of them."

The dragon flapped its wings, gusts of winds ripping past their robes, as it regained control.

"I didn't take you for someone who spares out of mercy." Voldemort slashed his wand and the dragon was sent hurtling back in the air, narrowly avoiding the towers of the castle.

"You are too short-sighted, my British friend." Another stunner hit the dragon in its face and the beast dropped, its claws digging into the mountain's side. "We get three free dragons with this."

Grindelwald flicked his wand, and the snow around the mountain rose, forming chains of which ice wrapped around the dragon, trapping it. The dragon roared, struggling against the chains, breathing fire at them.

The chains remained sturdy and unmelting.

"Now." Grindelwald said.

Two beams of brilliant crimson hit the dragon in the side and the beast slumped against the chains, stunned.

"I must admit, you make some interesting strategies." Voldemort turned to the remaining two dragons. One of them— a silver Swedish Short-Snout was airborne, breathing blue flames at a huge wall of steel alit with runes.

The black dragon was on the ground, its spiked tail screeching against the ground leaving a trail of sparks as it breathed fire.

Flashes of crimson lit the air as stunners streaked toward the dragons. Fire welled in the black dragon's throat, only to die out in a puff of black smoke as the dragon slumped onto the ground.

The Knights and Bellatrix immediately turned to the airborne dragon, shooting stunners at the creature. The dragon twisted out of their way, flying circles around the tower, rising higher and higher.

"It is going to attack." Voldemort said. "Swedish Short-Snouts are cunning. They will lure their prey into a false sense of security before snatching them up and devouring them."

"Then we attack it before it does." Grindelwald removed a long spear from his robes. "I suppose you don't need a broom to fly?"

Black smoke curled around Voldemort, wrapping around his waist. In a dark blur, he shot upward, Grindelwald following him.

The air grew colder and thinner, the castle below a dark patch among the snow capped mountains. Snow froze around Grindelwald's hair as he drifted through the sky, looking around for the dragon.

"I cannot see the beast." Voldemort's voice rang as the clouds darkened, his white face peeking out of it.

Grindelwald spun his spear, and the clouds parted with a gust of wind.

Immediately, blue flames shot toward the two of them, the head of the silver dragon emerging from the darkness.

A golden shield extended from Grindelwald's spear, swallowing the flames as a stunner struck the dragon in its face. The dragon fell, spiraling toward the ground before flapping its wings. Flashes of crimson soared upward, most missing the beast, disappearing into the sky above.

Voldemort slashed his wand and the dragon was thrown downward, Grindelwald's stunner missing it.

The death eaters and knights below shot more stunners, taking down the beast which crashed into the castle's walls.

Grindelwald smiled triumphantly, floating back to the ground, prodding the dragon with the butt of his spear.

With a flick of his wand, the bricks of the castle flew back into place.

"So, it is done?" Voldemort appeared next to him, the black fog settling into his robes. "The first castle has fallen back into your grasp?"

"It has." Grindelwald nodded. "There might be traps inside but there are no men. The ICW has abandoned most of the castles, focusing on the protection of the schools and ministries that Perenelle Flamel had warded. And wonderfully at that. I can still feel the traces of her magic on these walls, covering mine."

"So what next?" Voldemort asked. "I want to be done with this so you can keep your word."

Grindelwald sighed. "Patience, Herr Voldemort. Britain will be yours as I promised when we shook hands on our partnership. We will liberate the magical world as we dreamed. The time for Britain will come. First, we must do what we can."

Grindelwald clapped his hands and one of his men appeared next to him with a snap.

"Secure the dragons and bring in an expert on them. Let the curse-breaker look over this castle as you all secure it. Herr Voldemort and I will go and secure the rest of my old strongholds."

"What are we taking next?"

"My favorite." Grindelwald's eyes glinted sharper than the tip of the spear he held. "My old cage and what was once the ICW's most guarded place. Nurmengard."


14th April 1996

Grimmauld Place, London

Soft footsteps echoed through the silent halls of Grimmauld as Fleur walked down the stairs, her silver blonde hair hanging loosely around her face.

"Bonjour." A soft voice had Fleur's eyes snapping open.

Sharp blue eyes glinted above the rim of a steaming tea cup as the lady sitting at the table watched her silently. Her brunette hair was tied in a tight bun, a golden stick sprouting from it unlike Fleur's loose hair.

"Bonjour." Fleur straightened, brushing her hair out of her face. "Bonjour, Madame Flamel. I am Fleur Delacour… I studied at Beauxbatons."

Perenelle nodded, keeping her tea cup down. "I am aware. I saw you and your family come in during the meeting yesterday."

"I am sorry for what happened to your husband." Fleur shifted. "I didn't know you were staying here."

"Albus insisted." Perenelle's blue eyes turned sharper, her lips tugging upward. "And so did your boyfriend, apparently."

"Oh," Fleur said. "Harry told me about the fight but not the fact that you were staying here."

"It must've slipped my mind." Harry appeared through the kitchen door and Fleur jumped. "Morning, Madame Flamel. I hope you haven't had any trouble staying here."

"For the first time in years I have woken up to quietness instead of a loud crash or a boom." Perenelle chuckled sadly, stared at the cup in her hand. "Nicholas used to wake up early to do his experiments. He always said that early morning was the best time to think. But he was clumsy— and many of his experiments blew up until he perfected them."

A tear slipped down Perenelle's cheek. Fleur conjured a handkerchief and handed it to her.

"Thank you dear." Perenelle dabbed her eyes. "I am sorry, it's just been hard."

"It's understandable." Harry walked around the kitchen, tapping the kettle with his wand. "You lost your husband whom you had been together with for the past six centuries. How can it be easy?"

"I am still sorry for going off on you." Perenelle shifted. "I wasn't thinking straight. I don't blame you for his death, dear boy."

"All is forgiven." Harry waved her off. "This is war, Madame Flamel. You're not the first victim of it and you are not going to be the last."

"Oui." Fleur's eyes darkened, faint flames licking her fingers. "I worry about papa every day. I worry about Harry. About Gabby and my mother. I wish I could end it all."

"Grindelwald is out of your league." Perenelle closed her eyes. "He was out of my league. Had it not been for both Harry and Albus coming to our rescue, even I would've been dead… which might have been better, perhaps."

"No." Harry cut in, his voice sharper than the sword of Gryffindor. "Had you died, we would've never known what exactly Grindelwald stole. We wouldn't have known of his plans. You being alive will save a lot of lives."

"What is being done about it?" Perenelle asked. "About Grindelwald's old strongholds and the other places since he hasn't attacked yet as you predicted?"

"The ICW decided that most of the old castles weren't worth protecting as the ministries and the schools were." Harry ran a hand through his hair. "They've left traps, hoping Grindelwald would be caught in it."

"He won't." Perenelle scoffed. "He won't be Gellert Grindelwald if he was caught in traps placed by ministries."

"What we can hope for then is that a few of his men would be caught in those traps." Harry shrugged. "I've heard they have even put dragons in a few places to attack as soon as the wards go down."

"What about Nurmengard?" Fleur asked. "It was his main castle, non?"

"There is not much left to protect there." Harry's voice turned grim. "The ICW war wizards and the inmates are already with Grindelwald and Voldemort… or dead. The prison is effectively empty and abandoned, no more useful than Azkaban is."

"You can't let him retake that castle." Perenelle exclaimed. "It was—"

"Madame Flamel, protecting the castle was a waste of money, time, and lives." Harry shook his head. "Yes, its every brick is drowned in Grindelwald's magic. It is perhaps one of the greatest magical castles made in modern day. But it serves no purpose now. Even if Grindelwald retakes it… there is nothing we can do."

"Potter, the castle is the only thing capable of holding someone like Albus or you." Perenelle said. "Destroy it."

"I do not think he will bother imprisoning Dumbledore or me." Harry said darkly. "He won't make the mistake Dumbledore made."

Fleur looked away while Perenelle stared into her empty tea cup.

"He isn't wrong." A gruff voice called from the doorway, followed by the thunk of the wooden leg. Moody's magical eye roved around the room. "Potter, tell your elf to prepare us some bloody breakfast."

Moody dropped into the seat beside Perenelle, removing his wand from his cloak.

"Put that wand back in your cloak before you find it rammed up your rear, boy." Perenelle's eyes flashed.

"What is he doing?" Fleur whispered to Harry as Moody raised his wand toward Perenelle's neck.

"How do I know—"

"When I first saw you, you had been hit by an ever-bleeding curse in the back." Perenelle cut him off. "You had lost a lot of blood. When you woke up, you nearly hexed Dorea Black."

Moody leaned back and nodded. "You all should be doing this. Constant vigilance!"

Fleur's eyebrows rose and she tossed her hair over her shoulder.

"Unlike you, Moody, I can sense magic." Harry grinned. "And this is a house warded by Dumbledore and me in addition to all those ancient Blacks. You cannot get in if you have hostile intentions."

"The wards are very powerful." Perenelle agreed. "I have seen better but they're good. And dangerous. But… so were the wards on our house."

"They held Grindelwald and his followers at bay for several minutes until we arrived." Harry said. "And they would've held for longer too, had I not told you to drop them. But there were problems. For starters, your house was in the middle of nowhere and you were battling outside the walls. This house is in the middle of London. Not to mention, they'd have to breach both the wards and the door to get in. That is, if they get through the Fidelius— something held by Dumbledore of all people."

"That's ten times the trouble." Perenelle nodded. "All things considered, this is a very safe house."

"We could use someone like you in the Order, you know?" Harry said. "Maybe even at Hogwarts. I am not continuing next year."

"You are not?" Fleur turned to him.

"I would be concentrating on the legion more." Harry sipped his tea. "Also, I do not want the curse on the position to get me. Not until I can find what's causing it anyway."

"Wait, there's a curse?" Fleur's eyes widened.

"It is said there is." Harry said as a plate filled with buttered toasts, eggs, and slices of apple appeared in front of everyone. "It usually takes a year to strike. It struck Umbridge early."

"Such a curse would take a lot of power." Moody grunted. "But in the past twenty years or more, no defense professor has stayed at the school for more than a year. Something always happens. It is said it doesn't hit the good professors that bad but the bad ones?"

"Umbridge was so bad that the curse didn't let her stay for more than a few months and ended up in her being kissed by a dementor." Harry nodded. "Remus just got outed as a werewolf and he resigned but Lockhart got obliviated through his own actions and is now in Saint Mungo's permanent damage ward."

"But it has never been proven that the curse exists." Moody said.

"I cannot feel any magic creeping up on me either." Harry nodded. "Neither has Dumbledore. It may be that we are actually good but I'd rather not risk it. Not with the war going on."

"If either of you die, all hope will be lost." Perenelle nodded. "With Grindelwald and Voldemort together, you must be very careful."

"The term is still a good few months away." Harry glanced at the clock. "I must get going. I have a third year class in an hour and I need to get ready for them."

"What are you teaching them?" Moody asked. "Curses and shields?"

"I covered a few basic spells in all my classes." Harry drained his cup of tea. "A shield, Expelliarmus, the basic stunner, Expulso… They won't be taking down death eaters by any means. But if they are attacked, they won't go down without a fight if they have a wand."

"Decent." Moody spread marmalade on his toast. "Teach them to attack at the feet rather than the torsos. A blasting curse at the feet means you are going to be injured unless you apparate away or shield. It is not ideal but if it saves your life…"

"Yeah," Harry nodded. "I shall get ready now. You three have fun."

"I am going to sleep soon." Moody yawned. "Long night at the ministry and I have to go back in the evening."

"Did something happen?" Harry frowned, glancing at the map.

"Skirmishes in Knockturn Alley." The scars on Moody's face rippled as he scowled. "And there was a Death Eater snatching. Two shopkeepers are missing and their shops were burned down under the dark mark."

"Right." Harry sighed. "Nothing of much concern, I'd say."

"Still, bad news." Moody grumbled. "People are scared shitless. They always are."

Harry nodded, glancing at Fleur. "Alright, I am going to go and get ready. Fleur, do you want me to talk to Dumbledore to let you sit with the seventh years?"

"Non, I can study on my own." Fleur said. "Plus our lectures have almost come to an end at Beauxbatons. Only two weeks of lectures were remaining until we went for self-studies for our NEWTS."

"If you need help, just ask." Harry shrugged. "I can get you any professor you want from Hogwarts. Or someone here will help you."

"What I need to do is finish my mastery in charms." Fleur told him. "Madame Forestier cannot teach me any longer and I have nearly a year of the course remaining. If you can put in a word with master Flitwick…"

"I can teach you, if you'd accept." Perenelle offered softly. "I am not as good as my husband was but I have a mastery in charms myself. I am a Grand Sorcerer."

Fleur's eyes widened and lit up.

"Well, why don't you two talk out the details? I will get going." Harry said. "Good day, fellas."


3rd May 1996

Hogwarts Castle

Waves of the great lake washed across the rocks, leaving them bright and shiny. Hedwig's soft trills rang as she flew around in circles over the lake.

"Well, this is grim and all." Susan's voice cut over the sound of waves. "Grindelwald is rampaging through the continent like a herd of hippogriffs."

A piece of newspaper with Grindelwald's smiling face drifted into the water, sinking beneath the waves and disappearing.

It was a cutting from the morning's newspaper. Shortly after the attack on the Flamel Chateau, Grindelwald and Voldemort had teamed up to reacquire several of Grindelwald's old strongholds across northern Europe.

The castle in Finland was the first to go, followed by Nurmengard the very same day. And they hadn't stopped there, going around the continent— Italy, Estonia, Romania, Macedonia… resulting in twelve out of twenty-nine strongholds falling back into Grindelwald's hands.

They had tried for three more— The Montesi Castle in Italy, the Durmstrang Castle, and the Cesky Sternberk Castle in Czech. The first two had been rebuffed, with heavy casualties on both sides.

But the Cesky Sternberk Castle in Czech was a whole different story. It had seen one of the worst fights in the world, with the Czech ministry bringing in the muggle military to attack Grindelwald and Voldemort.

How they had done it was beyond Harry's comprehension. They had blatantly broken the statute. The only people aware of the magical world were supposed to be the heads of the state— prime ministers and presidents. Not the military.

But the Czech ministry had done it— either through cooperation or as Dumbledore suspected, the Imperius.

Of course, it wouldn't matter considering what had happened in the end.

A few of Grindelwald's men had perished, being caught unprepared to face a muggle army. But once they were aware, between Grindelwald and Voldemort it resulted in a complete, utter slaughter.

Both Fiendfyre and Ignis Diabolica had been unleashed, reducing muggles, magicals, tanks, and the castle itself to nothing but ashes.

Rumor was that about eighty-percent of Czech's Auror force had been killed on that day alongside a battalion of muggle soldiers.

All for not even ten of Grindelwald's men.

All the effort hadn't even been worth the number.

"Twelve castles in two weeks with casualties running in hundreds." Harry muttered. "And we are sitting on our arses doing nothing."

"Why aren't they raiding the castles?" Susan frowned. "You know where they are. You can do the same thing Grindelwald did."

"If we do that, we will be struck in a loop." Harry said. "If they wanted the castles, they would've secured them by any and all means possible. They didn't. The castles are nothing but a place for Grindelwald and his followers to stay. By winning them back, we win nothing. They are simply not worth the risk until we know for sure that attacking one will be a considerable blow to him and his forces."

"Like your grandfather and the Dragon Legion storming the Nurmengard castle?" Susan's eyebrows formed a deep vee. "They freed a lot of Grindelwald's opposers and killed a handful of his followers."

"Yes." Harry nodded. "And it benefited them greatly. Right now the castles are practically empty. There are no people there. There's nothing Grindelwald holds dear or deems important. It is just an empty castle. We don't even know if he has done anything other than rework the wards around them."

"But once it becomes… more, you will go and attack it?" Susan bit her lip.

"If it leads to disrupting Grindelwald's operations, yes." Harry nodded. "Right now we are playing defense, Susan. Half the world is still in shock, so to speak. They're distributing pamphlets on how to protect yourself if your house is attacked."

"Like the one we received from the British ministry? Run, hide, call the Aurors."

"Yes." Harry nodded.

"It was bullshit."

"Not necessarily if you've a place to hide within your home." Harry flicked a stone into the water. "A room with heavily reinforced and enchanted walls that could withstand Fiendfyre. Hiding under the bed will result in you being turned to ashes before you know it."

"So like a panic room. We have one of those." Susan nodded. "At Bones Manor. But now we live with you."

Harry hummed, watching a tentacle of the giant squid break the surface of the lake before disappearing.

"Harry, what do you think about us hunting the Death Eaters down?" Susan asked after a few moments. "We know a few of them. Between you, Daphne, Fleur, and I…"

"It could be a slaughter?" Harry gave her a thin smile. "Then how'd we be any different than the Death Eaters? Killing in battle, when you know the other person is going to kill you is one thing. Killing in cold blood?"

"Auntie Amelia says that in war you've to make tough choices, Harry." Susan's eyes darkened. "If you don't, they'll walk all over you and your family."

Harry sighed. "Then tell me this, Susan. Are you ready to bestow the same fate on another child that the Death Eaters gave you. To orphan them because their parents opposed us?"

Susan flinched.

"It seems right at first glance." Harry continued. "To be the bringers of justice. To give the Death Eaters a taste of their own medicine. You're right. Between us all, it will be a slaughter. Yes, in war, tough choices need to be made. We are already killing them on the battlefield if they appear. We will be raiding their strongholds in the future."

"See? I get your point, Harry." Susan grimaced. "I can say things like this because I've never killed a human being. Werewolf, yes. But it was a beast about to kill a child."

"Killing to protect is easy… easier." Harry amended. "You can justify it. Even to yourself and to the court. But going to a house, tearing away its wards and breaking in to kill a parent? That's a whole different thing. The child, despite the crimes of their parents, is innocent."

"Then we capture them." Susan said. "We can do that too, can't we? Capture them and have them tried at the ministry."

"That's a better idea." Harry nodded. "Gather intel and capture Death Eaters. Maybe even set a trail to lead them into a trap. But… we'd be doing it illegally. Not that anyone will actually dare to move against me but—"

"Who says we have to let them know it is us?" Susan smirked. "Masks work well enough. Tie them in ropes and leave them in the ministry atrium with the dark marks on display."

"That's brilliant."

"No one will know." Susan nodded. "We can use polyjuice or transfiguration to hide our faces."

"Simplicity itself." Harry smiled. "And I believe we will have an adult willing to help already. A powerful and very capable witch who just lost a lot to Grindelwald."

"Tonks?" Susan frowned.

"No." Harry shook his head. "Perenelle Flamel."


AND… DONE! Hope you all liked the chapter!

A huge thanks to Mughil for betaing this chapter.

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DaSalvatore: Do you encode every single detail in your house? Like, to the bare basics, say an account number of your bank, which you've encoded in code so that no one except for you will ever be able to figure out what it is? I know it is not the best example, but there is nothing else I can think of to demonstrate it. Also, ward schemes are nothing but a schematic of how wards are layered on top of one another and what securities are in place. So, it is basically the passcode to a place.

Plums: If you want a non-challenging villain which is taken out in a cartoonish manner without any real plan, see megamind. Also, Grindelwald is god-like. He singlehandedly cause WW2 in canon lore and terrorized the whole magical world. A single freaking dark lord whom no one could stop until it all came down to him and Dumbledore. Also, he has had 50 years to plan this. He ain't a shit-head like Voldemort is.

FlawedBauthor: You really should read ANs. I am not monetizing fanfiction. I am monetizing time. So it is pretty legal and has been in practice since more than a decade. All I put there, comes here eventually… in a timespan of several months but yeah. Also, you have read this for free for years and I have never seen you appreciate it once.
Just because you don't want to or can't do it, doesn't mean I am
begging so be more mindful of your words please. Also, by your logic, it means every freaking service company, or every single person begs. Because what do they do? Give their time and effort in exchange for money. That's what I am doing.

Harrison23: As you say in the last scene here, soon. Also, yes. The last few chapters were focused on the Titans of magic and the war itself.

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