URL: http/sami. PG
Summary: It is 1863. The first time Albus Dumbledore fights against the dark and the last time he has a choice too.
Notes: Set before the series in 1863. I know the exact date that Dumbledore fights Grindelwald. This is the first time he does.
The snow fell like sugar shaken on a pastry as Albus Dumbledore trudged up the mountain, wrapped in furs, with a slightly bloody nose. Below eyes covered by goggles and just above a red scarf was a once fine straight nose now purple with red crusting lightly at the nostrils. Only his nose and goggles were visible under the most modern mountaineering equipment of the day. Though there was something odd about him besides the translucent bubble that surrounded his head. His feet didn't quite touch the snow.
The landscape was so pure; snow below and blue sky above. He was snowy white with the flakes glittering on his gear and on top of the bubble. Albus stopped and pulled a wand out of the thin bag on his hip. A soft whisper fell from his lips that was lost in the bubble. Then the ground shook. Two wooden carved pillars, where red painted goats frolicked and fought, rose from the snow. Stepping through, the bubble popped, and Albus was in a stone hall that was draped in blue tapestries with a thunder motif and had animal skulls on the exposed beams, staring at a seated fur robed figure at a long wood table.
"Lord Tanngrisnir, how is your health in this climate?" He asked after pulling down his scarf and shucking off his leather knapsack. Looking around the Norse hall, he said, "Quite an extreme way to avoid solicitors."
Tanngrisnir rose, pushing back his hood, his long face was smiling, and snapped his fingers. "I have no need for Leek's Pills or boiled toad, Master Dumbledore. I enjoy the solitude." A house elf in a leather jerkin appeared with a brass platter topped with cheeses and meats. "Eat, this grim business is too much for so young a wizard, comforts will be scarce soon." There was a deep stillness in Tanngrisnir that followed his words into the ear. Wisdom dripped from him, inspiring awe. Albus didn't feel young at twenty-three but his host's age surpassed Nicholas Flamel's, who was old when the first Quidditch game was played. He shed his outer mountaineering garb before he sat down and began to tuck in. "My brother, Tanngniost regretfully can not join us as he must tend to Jörmungand. But the darkling wizard's servant, Grindelwald is still a threat. He is your foe. His master may be trying to siege Hvergelmir but he has chosen another well, Mimir's." Tanngrisnir was sitting a crossed from him, wandlessly and soundlessly, conjuring a glowing indigo map.
"The well of knowledge and wisdom?" Albus asked, the cheese in his hand half eaten and ignored.
"Yes. Odin gave his eye for a drink and these wizards dare…" He lifted a skeletal hand and the map floated to Albus. Tanngrisnir was serene even as his young guest was horrified by the discussion. "If I did not trust my brother's judgment I would sent you away. You impressed him with your wand work and insight. He has the far-sight so I will not question him in this matter."
"Thank you. His esteem means much to me." Albus gestured to the map asking, "What is this of?" He felt weary and frightened but he knew that he was needed. That was of the most import. He had left Hogwarts and decided to travel. It was a delight to met Tanngniost in Denmark and he hoped only to speak to him but instead became his student. He had had no idea then what that would entail. Hogwarts was a Sunday promenade compared to Tanngniost's teaching. The three years of friendship and apprenticeship had turned the clever boy into a intelligent man. Though he did just break his nose running into a ice wall.
"It is the realm of Midgard. This is where I will wage war on Jörmungand. That wizard has much audacity; even his name is blasphemous."
Albus's eyes were wide and his mouth open as the glow shimmered on his features. "Asgard, Valhalla, the Hvergelmir…" He whispered, his hands ghosting over the map with reverence. His mind was awhirl with memorizing the fantastic map.
"Yes, I still feel awe as well. Midgard; built by the Gods for their dwelling where only the bravest warriors and most learned magicians may enter. He wishes to bring it all to an end."
"I still don't understand why I am needed. There must be many wizards of age and experience to assist in this endeavor." Albus said as he ran a hand though his matted and sweaty auburn hair. "Grindelwald is three score with magic oozing in evil at his disposal."
"Which is why you will have 'wizards of age and experience' with you. Master Crispin Cronk, Madame Laverne de Montmorency, and Master Alberic Gunnion will be your comrades when you face Grindelwald at the Well." Tanngrisnir said.
"Them?" The word sneaked past his lips and he wished he could take it back. Albus was constantly vexed by his words. Every time he considered himself clever, he proved himself wrong. His host raised an eyebrow and twisted his beard around his long forefinger as he looked at Albus. "I mean, they are quite old, and very…odd choices."
"So young." Tanngrisnir murmured. "Master Crispin has raised sphinxes, Madame de Montmorency is a potions expert, and Master Gunnion is capable of making a vicious booby trap. Alas, my young friend why do you question me or your master? Have you relied too much on information printed in your wizarding papers and denied your brain the ability to question?" Albus looked down at the uneaten piece of cheese in his hand. "There is an affliction running rampant through the wizarding world. A contentment and unwillingness to face their foes. They would rather chase a bird on a broom than save themselves. In days past wizards were at the front of every battle against the evil of their own kind. There are so few now that are willing to see it. Respect your allies, Albus, for there is a cloud rolling over the world. Jörmungand will not be the last evil you will have to fight." Tanngrisnir said this all in a calm low voice that conveyed so much disappointment that Albus wished he had lectured or ranted.
"Of course. You are right." Albus mumbled, ashamed and irritated with himself.
"Now, I will send you to Mimir's Well, Master Gunnion will enlighten you further. I must join my brother." Tanngrisnir said as he stood.
"Pardon?" Albus gasped. His mind was filled with euphoria that he would see the mythical worlds of the Norse Gods but he knew that there was the likelihood that he would die. He needed more time to prepare or find the necessity closet so he wouldn't embarrass himself. "But how… What… Why did I have to climb the mountain then?" Albus sighed. There were so many questions and that was the one he asked.
Tanngrisnir smiled. "I've never been the most obedient younger brother. I didn't believe that you would go on." He paused and snapped his fingers. The house elf appeared again with a cream colored woolen bag with a string of rune stones dangling from it. "This, with the supplies I requested that you bring, should suffice. Four wizards should be enough to bind Grindelwald. Do not worry, young wizard, clear your mind for this task."
Though Albus was having trouble with that because he still had a question, one that had plagued him since he met Tanngniost. If he were to die, then now was a good as any. "What are the Aesir and the Vanir Gods like?"
Tanngrisnir titled his head and his eyes were thoughtful. "Before I was granted the boon of man-shape, I helped pull Thor's chariot for eons and whenever he will need me, I will come. My devotion to the Gods is only matched by Tanngniost. But what are they are like? I could not tell you. The Gods, any God, are so…They are the Gods. I believe that is all anyone will ever know." Albus nodded and knew that his confusion was also Tanngrisnir's. "It is time."
He pulled back on his coat, then hoisted his knapsack on his back, before throwing the rune bag over his shoulder, lastly he had his wand at ready. Albus Dumbledore was ready to fight along side the Gods to stop Jörmungand from ending all the worlds before their time.
Albus never usually thought of himself as a novice or a moron but when he met the grim-faced, elderly team, his early comment was even more ridiculous. Madame de Montmorency was checking vials of brightly colored potions and powders that she pulled out of her high mauve turban. Mister Cronk was levitating, staring into the eyes of a sphinx. It was a sight that had his heart stop from wonder to see such a beast. The human head of it had eyes filled with wisdom while the tawny body radiated strength. There was a strange smell coming from a portly man in brown robes. He was the last of the party so he had to be Master Gunnion, the man who invented the dung bomb. As they worked on their various preparations they murmured strategies to each other.
"Greetings. I'm Albus Dumbledore." He said feeling awkward.
"Bonjour." Montmorency said looking at him through a red vial. "A new surprise. Monsieur Dumbledore, we have only minutes before Grindelwald will sense us. I believe as best strategy is randomness."
"Madame I beg to differ." Gunnion said, his muttonchops flapping in the breeze as he waved his wand around. Three burlap packages flew out of his hood and into his hand. "We should send the sphinx in first to shock before we deliver the bang."
The floating Crispin Cronk smiled grimly and let out a dark chuckle. "When we get there all our strategies will vanish. Dumbledore, prepare yourself." He added sharply.
"Er, are there any instructions from Tanngniost or Tanngrisnir that… I mean what do they want us to do besides take care of Grindelwald?"
"Has any of them ever given a straight order?" Cronk asked as he floated to the ground. "Just do as you're told."
"Follow us if you get confused." Montmorency said.
"Isn't this a thing for them to do?" He asked.
"Lad, through all the time, from my apprenticeship to this morning, I've known Tanngniost he has never shown any weakness. Ragnarok, may the fiend know the flames of Hell, has gotten all the Gods in a tiff. He has giants, both regular and mythical, behind him. They can't spare the God-power."
"Prepare, boy!" Cronk snapped.
Albus nodded, kneeling and setting his bag down so he could open it. With his wand in his mouth he pulled out a small ball of leaves and stuffed it in his mouth. It was eyebright, an antidote to any potions hitting his eyes. He already had potions strapped to his arm. And for a final protection, he wound the dangling rune stones around his wrist. The bags were charmed to come when called. There was nothing else to do.
Taking in his surroundings, he tried to clear his mind. There were pines trees towering over the sun dappled lawn. It seemed as if they were in an ideal fairy tale forest for even with the look of spring about there were summer flowers, large and lush, everywhere. But there was a hush, a tension in the area as if the very land was crying out. He could feel a strange crawling sensation across his skin, like muggy swamp air coming in from the left. Albus turned as did the rest and then stood. Murmuring to his baggage, he followed behind the golden sphinx as they walked toward Mimir's Well. It was time to fight.
Gunnion was beside him with his wand at ready. "Now, young man, I don't know why you were sent. It's a bloody shame too. But remember your training, we'll all get through this."
"Don't anyone get killed," Cronk said from his place at the front of the party. His craggy face furrowed and teeth bared in concentration. Montmorency looked at him crossly before saying 'adhaero' and pointing her wand at her monocle. "They only said that Grindelwald had to be taken in alive. Nothing about his minions."
The forest opened into a meadow and that meadow contained a gigantic head. It was startling to see a fully cognate, brown haired head yelling and cursing as three cloaked figures shot bright beams from their wands at it. The Sphinx started to chant as it loped forward, 'letum, mortis, letum." The figures turned and Albus saw them point their wands toward it. Crispin Cronk's arm was rigid as he held it toward the dark wizards and yelled, 'singultus.' The dashed black beam hit one of the figures, who screamed as he stretched upwards unnaturally. Madame de Montmorency threw a vial up and then swung her wand like a Beater's Bat sending the vial flying. It sizzled as it hit the grass. Gunnion ducked as a incantation that sounded unpleasantly like 'Viscus Expello' whizzed past them. There was only one spell he could think of, Expelliarmus.
The action was mindless and he soon stopped following the other's spells. He used the Engorgement Charm, Oppugno to send over conjured vicious dogs, and cast a Shield Charm over himself. The amount of smoke and lights made it impossible to see the ground. Albus tripped a good deal and had to stun a large snake. He hardly aimed, he just tried not to hit his comrades. He was thankful for his eyebright when Gunnion set fire to one of those burlap bags, it released a foul smelling grease that went for the face. This was nothing like the duels he had fought in school. The jolly Gunnion was the first to use a Forbidden Curse, Avada Kedavra. It hit one of the cloaked figures who toppled over. Albus had never seen anyone get killed before but he pushed that back and went forward knowing that he would be sick later.
"Pertingo Cretum," He yelled pointing toward one of the cloaks which grew swathing its owner in cloth. "Stupefy!" He rushed toward the figure murmuring, 'Contego' so he could check the stunned wizard's face. Pulling up the hood, he hissed, it wasn't Grindelwald, a swarthy Gallic looking man. Albus didn't feel the spell until it hit him and sent him tumbling back. Both his shields were down. It had to have been a Forbidden Curse to break his spell. The sounds of the fighting was dwarfed by the wail of the Sphinx when it died and the furious scream from Cronk.
He got up and rejoined the party that was circled around Grindelwald. Montmorency's turban was askew, Gunnion knelt on the ground hurling small bag with only half an ear, while Cronk was bellowed horrible spells. Albus had heard that some kind of a trance of clarity came over those in battle but he only felt sick. The once calm meadow was torn and burned up with the blood of the Sphinx and dark wizard soaked into its ground. Grindelwald stood untouched by the violence. His narrow face was grinning as his cloak swirled brushing against the chin of the giant disembodied head.
"Very impressive, yet doesn't bode well for the Norse Gods if they have to send mortals. What were they out of dwarfs?" Grindelwald asked. Albus turned his palms toward the dark wizard. There was a itch in the air. The power being raised was frightening. He was stalling.
"Impedimenta!" Albus yelled concentrating hard. Cronk was throwing off spells haphazardly sending Gunnion and Montmorency ducking for cover as they tried to shoot spells at Grindelwald. None of their magic was working. The power radiating off him was terrifying, what did he do to get such power? It felt like centipedes were crawling in his robes and vile oil gathering in his mouth. That much concentrate darkness…
"Crispin Cronk, I really expected more out of the Wizard Adventurer than this. Weeping over dead Sphinx? Don't fret, old man, the pain of grief will shortly be replaced by the pain of death." Grindelwald's voice was strained though the only sign of discontent was the tight lines around his mouth. Albus mumbled for his bag before vomiting in the grass. The power enclosing Grindelwald felt like a vise on his body. Gunnion was cursing at Cronk as the dry heaves wracked his body. What could they do? Tears stung at his eyes as he straightened. What could he do? That was when the cone of green shot up engulfing the dark wizard who screamed shrilly clawing at his face, the fat drops of blood hit the ground leaving holes in the turf. Grindelwald's curled hands scratched down his neck ripping the collar of his robe while marring his chest with red oozing gashes. Suddenly the ground opened up and he was gone. Albus, holding on to his bag, jumped in after him and cried the whole way down.
The trip down Mirmir's Well was one of agonizing pain with terror sprinkled on as a garnish. When he finally hit the ground his lips were stretched from screaming and he lay in a heap for a while. The lawn beneath him was soft; he didn't try to understand why there was grass under the ground. He was in the realm of the Norse Gods. It had not proved to be a joyous holiday so far. Standing shakily he mumbled for his bag to follow and started to walk in the tunnel. The walls were smooth loam with stalactites jutting from the ceiling. Limping, he followed the power flowing through the air. He could see Grindelwald waving his arms in front of a gray pile. Moving faster he saw that the pile was a heap of stones. Then he saw the wall close up as his body slammed it with a crunch that from the blood and pain he reckoned was his nose.
"Are you all they could send? A ragamuffin from a motley bunch of drooling grey beards?" Grindelwald asked. Albus was struggling to get to his feet but then had to hit the dirt again as gust of cool mist blew by his head. Blood was gushing from his nose. A dark wizard was close to being about the apocalypse. This was a brilliant time to have a need for the chamber pot.
'Impedimenta,' he thought aiming his wand at Grindelwald. The dark wizard only smiled and flicked his wand sending Albus careening toward the stalactites that spiked down from the tunnel ceiling.
"Mobilicorpus!" Albus screamed sending his body straight down to the floor. He rolled on his side gasping, desperate for air. Grindelwald had turned back around and was pointing his wand at what looked like a raven perched on a rough wooden board on the pile of rocks. His hoarse breathing mingled with the sharp crows coming from the bird left his quick murmur unnoticeable. "Petrificus Totalus."
Grindelwald's arms crashed to his sides. Albus knelt with his wand at ready. The dark wizard tipped over with a meaty thud, his wand's snap in his tense grip sounded throughout the tunnel. Albus stood mumbling for his bag, holding up the arm with the runes wound around the wrist horizontally in front of his chest. The raven grew silent watching his approach.
Albus jumped back and looked. He saw Gunnion and Montmorency hobbling down the tunnel. "What happened?" He asked turning toward them.
"Mon Dieu, child, look at yourself." Montmorency said.
Raising a sleeve and touching his chin, he realized how dusty and bloody he must look. Just noticing, he cringed at the gritty feeling of his face and tried to brush off the grime.
"Oh, Grindelwald is petrified." He said standing aside to show the prone robed figure. Saying it and knowing it was over made his shoulders relax and he sighed letting go of all the tension he could. Soon he could got to a chamber pot and maybe change his socks. "What prevented your coming?"
"More minions appeared." Gunnion said flapping a fat hand. "Ragtag they were. Hardly a scratched on any of us."
"Where's Mr. Cronk?"
"Guarding the prisoners." Gunnion said a little too brightly.
"He's with his sphinx," Montmorency murmured trying to straighten her turban. Her wrinkled eyes were slits until she raised her wand and bellowed, "Vers le bas!"
He looked behind him as he backed away and stared straight into the black eyes of Grindelwald.
Pain shot through him; paper cuts, potion burns, and broken bones felt like they happening all over. Albus twitched uncontrollably. His teeth chattered as every limb felt stretched out on the hottest day in the Sahara. He soon was past thinking as red hot agony ripped, thrashed, and tore through him. If death would end this, he was ready to die. The pain was too much. Then the anguish mellowed and only a dull throb remained.
Opening moist eyes he saw Montmorency's monocle staring back at him. "Where did he go?" He croaked pushing himself up with sensitive palms. "I should have stunned him."
"Vanished, my boy, tossed up a Portkey."
"Sneered and had a monologue, as well. Dirty trickster."
"Why did he leave?" Albus sputtered as dabbed his dusty, crusty face.
"Ah, almost a bébé," she sighed as he frowned.
Gunnion chuckled shortly. "Just the power the fiend used could have killed a another to wield it. Most wizards implode, son. He had come up against the Norse and lost. He was as dry as sand. There was nothing else to do but flee."
"Oh, does that mean I may go home?" The younger man asked dully.
Tanngniost was facing the wall as Albus walked in. It had only been hours since the fight with Grindelwald but after bathing and a short nap he believed he could face his teacher. If not there was always a door he could run out of. His mind had not processed what had happened in Midgard. He knew that they had failed to bring him in but at least the Well was made safe.
"Jörmungand is dead." His teacher said as he turned. His long brown face looked tired and his lean body was wilting as he held on to a cane. Albus sighed in relief. It was over. Now, he could return to his studies and laugh at himself for his vanity. Him, a warrior? "Don't not count your Kneazles before they are born, my pupil. You fought your fair share on this morn but this war isn't over. It isn't even begun. The battles, famines, and disasters we've faced is nothing. Vampires packs in the Hague? Nothing. Dark Wizards poisoning the Danube? Nothing. Assassination of the Minister of Italy? Nothing. This will be the war you die in."
"Pardon?" He asked. Dread settled in his stomach.
"You will be old, Albus. So don't not fret. Prepare and be vigilant for they will rely on you. Grindelwald is not yet in Hel's domain. Jörmungand's ideals are shared by many. They will not vanish in your lifetime." Raising a hand to his eyes, Tanngniost continued, "I wish… Ever since I met you in Roskilde and saw you fend off those trolls I've been impressed. You never surprise me as I expect the best from you. It is my trust in you that had lead me to this. Someone must guide him and the Wizarding World."
Albus felt the years pressing in on him. Tanngniost's eye could not err. He was trapped and would never be free. There was so much he wanted to do. Fighting the dark arts was only a minor concern. He needed to finish his book on the Mer people! He could hear the doors closing in his head while only one squeaked open. And there was no way he could refuse to go through it. He was needed.
Tanngniost turned back toward the wall before he spoke. "I have a gift that will help you along the way. A companion." His sharp whistle caused a house elf to appear with a wrinkled pink chick in a cloth lined box in it's hands. "He is a Phoenix." Albus took the box and stared at the wondrous creature. "I am truly sorry, Albus. For I set this into motion. I saw your future and chose for you. Happiness or glorious legend. The latter with all the isolation and grief was the path I arranged you feet upon. You would have become great in any life but I made you immortal. I am sorry, so very sorry, for that and because you will do the same to another. You feel his pain now and will feel mine then."
Albus felt fury race through him as he cradled the box in his arms. Looking down at the fragile bird, he felt just as helpless. It was his fate and there was no use fighting. He had no choice. Destiny was calling to him. There was a war to fight.