"I'm very glad to haf both of you in the Tunnels of Walpurgis. It is been so very long since ve haf had the pleasure of haffing such distinguished guests as the English Ministry of Magic diplomats in our humble caves," he said continuing to smile, "If you vill be so kind as to follow me. Your host is vaiting for your arrival."
They followed him down the dark tunnel into a chamber deep in the underground. They went through this chamber and into another slightly bigger chamber.
"Please, vait here," said their guide.
The door behind them shut.
"After all, it is not as if you can go anywhear anyway," he said another smile creeping about his lips. A door in the other side of the chamber opened and he went through it. It promptly shut behind him.
The walls in this chamber, unlike the rocky wet walls of the tunnels they had come through, were cement and gave a very sterile feeling even with the dim artificial lighting. There were a dozen or so small, one inch round holes in the top of the walls of the chamber and a looking glass in one side of it.
"One-sided mirrors," Albus said to himself.
Minerva had been feeling extremely uneasy up until this point. Now she felt her suspicions were true and that they were doomed to death. She felt numb and cold. In a moment of silent hysteria, she felt like taking out her wand and cursing everything until the walls around her crumbled and crushed her. At least she would die at her own hands, she reasoned.
"No, that's crazy talk," she thought to herself, "there must be a rational reason for all this. Albus must trust them, so we cannot be in danger, at least no danger that we cannot get out of."
But then she thought of how far underground they were and how they were not dealing with muggles and that the chamber was probably safe-guarded against magic that would allow them to escape. A pang of fear went through her stomach and she felt like vomiting. But she was determined not to show her fear. She steeled her stomach and raised her chin a bit, resolutely gripping her wand in her pocket.
Suddenly, not fifteen minutes later, the door that their guide disappeared out of opened again.
"Good evening, dear Albus," said the man that walked though the door.
A muscle in Albus' cheek twitched, "Gellert,"
"How lovely for you to visit me in my caves. Do you like them?" he said opening his arms wide as if motioning them to look about.
"A bit drafty," said Albus stiffly.
Grindelwald shook his head, "True. They are not so comfortable as I would like them to be. Certainly not so comfortable as your very own Hogwarts is it?"
"And you could do with some better decorating," Albus added with the same stiffness.
Grindelwald laughed, "For all your brilliance, you always were the joker. Tell me, how's your brother?"
"As far as I know, he is doing well,"
Grindelwald smiled, relishing the power he was gaining over his old friend, "So you have not talked to him then in a long time?"
The muscle jerked again. Minerva knew he was pulling all the right strings in Albus' heart and that if they were not careful, it could end very badly for all of them. She reached out and gently touched her husband's arm.
Grindelwald noticed this subtle movement and his smile broadened, "And who is this lovely lady with you Albus?"
"This is Minerva McGonagall, a co-worker and friend," Albus said with sudden composure.
"But surely she is too beautiful to be merely a co-worker. No one would trust such beauty with you, my dear friend," he said with falsely honeyed voice. Minerva's nails dug slightly into the arm she was supposed to be comforting.
Grindelwald laughed, "To what honor do I owe this visit of such esteemed company?"
"We were suddenly made aware of the vivacity of several of our colleagues that were supposed dead," Albus said with an assumed air of nonchalant, taking out the same form letter that Poppy had clutched in her hands.
Grindelwald looked at him with a serious expression, "So they sent you then, eh? To do their dirty work. I wasn't aware of so many people knowing about our relationship."
"They don't," Albus shrugged, "I volunteered."
"You volunteered? Couldn't wait then to see how well your old friend was doing, then?"
"Or how poor," Albus said calmly.
Grindelwald's eyes narrowed, "So, which of your prisoners did you volunteer to fetch?"
"All of them," Albus answered evenly.
"All of them?" he said incredulously, "Surely not all two hundred and fifty seven of them?"
"And how will you get them out without being seen by the muggles?"
"What do you care of them, Gellert? Why the sudden concern for them? If they are to be soon ruled by we wizards, should they not get used to seeing many of them in the commonplace?" Albus said with a sarcastic undertone.
"Ah, touché, dear friend," amused with the spouting of his own doctrine, "that, they should. Why, then, should I entrust you with so many valuable prisoners?"
"Because I have something that belongs to you that you desperately want and need," Albus said.
Grindelwald's eyebrows raised, "And what would that be?"
"Well, for starters, there's this," Albus said producing his wand from his pocket.
Grindelwald's eyes flickered for a second then returned to is unconcerned expression, "What would I want with that?"
"Oh, I'm sure you recognize it, Gellert."
"I don't need that anymore. I am powerful enough by my own means. That old stick means nothing to me," Grindelwald lied.
"Perhaps not, but surely you do not object to having your own lost prisoners, back?"
Grindelwald sneered, "What? Along with the impurities only about twenty or so purebloods, most of them of little consequence at that? Is that really reasonable? Surely you can offer something better than that."
His eyes were still on the wand in Albus' hand.
Albus sighed. He was hoping that the ministry had offered something better and less dangerous to bargain with but they had not.
He opened the trunk, "We offer you security. We offer no surveillance in your own country. We offer no interferences. We offer freedom of reparations to England. We offer freedom in the form of treaties."
Grindelwald laughed, "I could have all that without little pieces of paper assuring so much. But I must say, it is rather delightful to have such easy power at my fancy," he said rubbing his hands, "Let us talk then. So what do you want for all of this?"
"All of them,"
"Surely not. Half of them. We don't want the half-bloods and practically muggles you people claim as valuables, anyway," Grindelwald said with a wave of his hand.
Albus shook his head, "All of them."
"And you promise me all that you have offered?"
"Even the wand?"
"I thought you had no attachment to the wand," said Albus.
"'Tis of merely sentimental value," Grindelwald said, "To remember the good old days of childish tomfoolery."
"The theft of such a wand is hardly tomfoolery, Gellert," Albus said pointedly.
"Indeed," Grindelwald said, his expression darkening, "It is not. You are right then, to show you that I have no true desire for it, you may keep your wand since you and your helpless self seem to need it more than I do. And you shall have your prisoners."
"All of them?"
"Even the ones I deem valuable, but be warned you are receiving damaged goods," said with an odd, hard tone, "Believe me, they are honestly becoming more of a burden than of any use anyway. Thus sending the letters. I figured I could get something out of all of these poor souls' meaningless existences while getting a bit out of it myself."
Grindelwald called for one of his lieutenants and told him to bring up the prisoners.
"All two hundred fifty seven,"
"Two hundred fifty-three now,"
"Oh, is that right?"
"Four have died in the past two weeks."
"You don't say. Well, bring up those who are still alive, even if they are half dead."
He left to follow out his commands.
"I am sorry, but it is now down to two hundred fifty-three now," Grindelwald said lightly.
Albus scowled, "How can you treat men like dogs?"
Grindelwald looked up at him, unrifled, "how can you treat dogs like men? Now, let us see those treaties."
"These treaties were for a full two hundred and fifty-seven men, Gellert, you've fallen on your half of the deal," Albus said angrily.
Grindelwald shrugged, "I hardly think you are in the position to make such demands, Albus. You see these holes? We are currently standing in one of the most ingenious devices of the twentieth century. A flip of the switch and you would be dead in less than six minutes, your body hidden in the forest," he said maliciously, "Besides, there were a full four hundred prisoners when the Great War ended. You can see how the numbers have dwindled."
"You cur," Albus fumed.
"Albus," Minerva said gently, knowing that his anger may cause them the entire mission if it was not kept in check.
" 'Albus' indeed. I'd watch that temper if I were you, Dumbledore, we wouldn't want either party going back on their word," Grindelwald mused, "Now about those treaties,"
"I should refuse," Albus said.
"You should," agreed Grindelwald, "But it appears you have no choice since you can make no better bargainings. These weren't drawn up by you were they?"
"No," said Albus contemptuously.
"Then you could have no fear of ruining your pristine reputation then can you?"
"Hardly," replied Albus with more than a twinge of sarcasm as he watched Grindelwald mull over then treaties.
"I'll bet you're thrilled that all of this wasn't made public. Can you imagine the headlines?" Grindelwald said continuing to jab at Albus.
Albus said nothing but clenched his teeth.
"Ha! These are already signed and made ready by your terrific government. You English are more foolish than I thought," Grindelwald continued with a chuckle.
He signed them with the same flourish that appeared on the form letters.
"You're quite lucky you know, I am a gracious host. I have provided a way for you to go back to your home country with your damaged goods. Now that I have the jurisdiction, I will make the orders to plant several portkeys all over Europe and allow you a quick way to get back to your country," Grindelwald said beaming.
Soon a soldier arrived at the door.
"They are ready," he announced.
"Alright then, there's simply no time to lose, here, take a hold of this," Grindelwald said, offering them the skull that was placed on the ground in front of them.
Minerva looked at it revolted.
"I'm afraid it is what you think it is," Grindelwald said seeing her repulsion with the object in front of them, "Come on then, who knows how long it will take to set up another one."
"But what about our prisoners?"
"This will take you to them," he said pointing again.
"Come on now, there's no time. Thank you dear friend for coming back to visit me. You will have to come again some time and bring this charming girl with you," he said pushing them.
"I have a feeling we will," said Albus hotly.
"Good bye now," Grindelwald said with a final push towards the skull.
"I have a feeling you're trying to get rid of us,"
"Of course not, I would love to stand around chatting, but you know portkeys,"
"How do we know that you'll keep up your end?"
"It's a matter of trust, dear Albus,"
"But, you see, I don't trust you," retorted Albus.
"Then I will come with you, at least to the sight of your prisoners," Grindelwald said clapping his shoulder.
"Aren't you a gracious host," said Albus skeptically.
"I told you I was," said Grindelwald grinning.
Together they touched the skull and were sucked into oblivion.