This is a very dark story.
Strong adult themes, language, torture, rape - het and slash, murder, abductions and slavery. It contains abuse, violence, prison and war scenes. Squeamish injuries, PTSD, drug use, infidelity and major and minor character deaths. War isn't pretty people!
Disclaimer. I'm not JKR, I don't own HP, and I'm not making profit out of this story. I do not endorse anything this fic portrays and it is only a word of fiction.
***Thank you so much to my betas MelodyPond77 and T3hWh1t3P4nth3r***
The full moon shone through the cloudy mist onto a forgotten church. It overlooked a Muggle town where its houses were filled with pinpricks of warm light which filtered through the ominous white mist that had all spread over the country, lasting many years. This mist had baffled the Muggle realm. Some blamed it on Global Warming, while others speculated that this mist had been caused by the terrorists (Muggles had christened them the Green Skulls) who have created havoc and destruction in Britain for the last twenty-eight years.
The church was in a bad state of disrepair: its stained glass windows shattered to pieces and its inside was filled with nesting birds and rats. An owl hooted in the church tower where once a magnificent bronze bell had hung in all its glory.
On the church's decaying roof there was an old wizard with a long white beard. He was wearing a dark travelling cloak and purple boots. He sat quietly on the ledge, as though this was a completely natural thing for him to do. He sucked on a sherbet lemon as he watched an owl glide past. It was certainly a strange sight for any Muggle to witness, let alone a wizard or witch. However, Albus Dumbledore wanted to experience a bird's eye view of the little town beneath.
But, this strange expedition had its purpose.
There was a small pop to his side. A wizard, tall like Dumbledore and just as old, sat beside him. This wizard wore a crimson cloak and magnificent embroidered blue robes. He pulled down his hood, sniffing the cold air. He had a silver goatee with a pointed moustache. His slick white hair was pulled into a ponytail. He took pride in his silvery appearance. His piercing grey eyes were bright like the stars hidden by the mist.
"Well… hello, Albus," started the wizard with the crimson cloak. "This certainly is not the place I would've expected to have a rendezvous. But alas…"
"Alas…" replied Dumbledore. He swung his feet a little over the edge, his robes fluttering in the breeze. "Would you like a sherbet lemon, Gellert?"
Gellert Grindelwald flicked his bushy eyebrows. His eyebrows were much bushier than Dumbledore had ever managed to procure in his lifetime. "So you still like them after all this time? Yes, I wouldn't mind one myself." The wizard smiled. He seemed to fondly remember an old memory from ages past. He helped himself to a sweet from the paper bag Dumbledore held out.
Just like the old days, thought Dumbledore, and how long ago those days were.
"You've cleaned up well, Gellert," Dumbledore noted, gazing inventively at the wizard's new look. Months before, Grindelwald had been a gaunt shell of a man tucked away in prison. "I do hope I have not exhausted you too much in your interesting exploits and adventures. I'm particularly amazed that you've managed to tear apart so many foundations in such a short period of time."
"Ahh yes, but I have to admit that my skills have rusted a little," he chortled, like it had been a fairly simple thing to do, destroying a Muggle village. Like his sixty years in prison had been a mere holiday.
Dumbledore frowned. "Yes, you are starting to gain Voldemort's attention now… but tell me, have you thought of any plans? Do not get carried away, Gellert, enjoying your freedom. I need your help to end this war! This is your chance to set your past wrongs right. You know what your true mission is."
Grindelwald looked aghast. "Of course I haven't forgotten!"
Dumbledore wasn't so sure about this.
"Why then? Why have you helped me escape the prison I had built, and why are you helping me to gain power?" he asked, looking at Dumbledore from the corner of his eyes.
Using Grindelwald had been a risk from the very first day. There was always a chance that he would gain power without helping The Order of the Phoenix. But he had to take a chance with his once best friend and admirer. Dumbledore was not the powerful wizard he used to be, and he was not the power whom Voldemort used to fear. He was weary and tired and he wanted nothing more than for the war that had lasted twenty-eight years to end.
Grindelwald sat completely expressionless, staring right ahead at the little town below them.
"It is because you wouldn't be of any use to me if you did not have power."
Grindelwald raised an eyebrow. "Really, is that all Albus? It seems to me I'm doing the Greater Good I was put in prison for."
He looked at Grindelwald grimly through his half-moon spectacles. "I did not ask you to terrorise Muggles, Gellert!" Dumbledore spat and Grindelwald visibly recoiled.
"It will not happen again, Albus. However, Lord Voldemort's followers need to notice that I too, seem to care about the purity of our world and thus get them interested in my little group."
Dumbledore pondered this for a moment. It was a horrible tactic, but he had to admit, it was one which will prove fruitful. "You must stay in England now… that is the only way Voldemort will realise the challenge you pose."
"I've already started to transfer all of my resources," he said curtly.
"Excellent!" stated Dumbledore, "and make sure you do not kill any Muggles."
Grindelwald sniffed loudly, but did not press further with the details. Instead, Dumbledore knew this wizard was itching to ask him something that had been on his mind since his escape.
"Albus, do you still have it?"
"Why is that such a concern to you?" He knew the wizard longed to see it again. Perhaps it would give him an edge if he had it within his grasp.
"I've heard rumours that - why - that you lost the wand to Tom Riddle."
Dumbledore did not answer for awhile. "I lost it just before Hogwarts closed."
Grindelwald's eyes lit up for a moment. "And you survived? This Riddle did not take over the school?"
"By chance I survived, yes. I kept him out of Hogwarts for as long as I could. But, by then the Muggle-borns were dwindling in numbers. They pulled out one by one. Then the Chamber of Secrets opened according to Voldemort's plan and the rest of them were tragically murdered by the basilisk that lived within its depths. I lost over one hundred students that bloody night." The shock of it still froze Dumbledore's heart.
There had been a rumour that the opening of the Chamber of Secrets had been Harry Potter's doing.
Dumbledore had not believed this at first, believing the boy when he had denied it, but since the tragic murder Harry had inflicted almost a year after Hogwarts closing, Dumbledore had to weigh up the evidence. Even though the boy had been imprisoned in Azkaban for four months now, a niggling feeling crept into Dumbledore's mind.
He knew there were still missing pieces to the Harry Potter puzzle. He wanted the truth on how his protégé had become so evil and bent, though Dumbledore knew that part of Harry Potter's downfall, if not, in fact all of it, had been his own fault. Fledgling Mages did have a habit of distorting their souls, if they absorbed the power around them to quickly. They all go through an involuntary Dark phase before their power is complete, but if they do not pass this phase they remain bent forever.
However, his investigations into the matter had been put on hold for now as he dealt with bigger things, and Gellert Grindelwald was one of those bigger things.
"Now Hogwarts is closed, the wards are down and Dark magic surrounds it. What most wizards don't know is that Voldemort had taken over the school soon after with the Elder Wand in hand. I wasn't there when it happened, I was recovering." I am still too weak to fight, since Tom nearly defeated me, Dumbledore thought, though he would never say it out loud, especially to Gellert. "Hogwarts is the Dark Lord's hiding place." He said this calmly, though the bitterness still seeped through every pore in his body.
Grindelwald fiddled with his goatee. "I knew that not all the truth about Hogwarts had made it out. The Ministry of Magic has an iron fist here. What else is there that I should know? Tell me more about life here? There are too many rumours in Europe and this mist, this dreadful Dementor driven mist, makes misery come to life."
Dumbledore nodded sullenly. "The British Ministry is a complete farce. They are too embroiled between themselves; morals and ethics have been destroyed in the last two decades in order to fight Voldemort.
"Rufus Scrimgeour has been the Minister for Magic for the last decade. He is ruthless in his capabilities, growing more paranoid by the day. He has his own elite Aurors to protect him. Thomas MacCloud, Head of the Auror department is very much a powerful yet merciless wizard, some say that he is imbalanced and cruel. Dolores Umbridge is the Senior Undersecretary and Head of Interrogation and the Prevention of Crime and Sedition squad. She abolished laws allowing Aurors to use the Unforgivables. She's given the Aurors power to search and violate people's privacy and to interrogate any way possible. They enjoy their power."
"My word, indeed… There are witch hunts. Say one word against the Ministry and they'll label you a Death Eater and they will cart you away to Azkaban. Then, they'll brainwash your family. If your family don't comply, they're imprisoned as well.
"In order to protect us, Scrimgeour says, we must change our ways. Match up to Voldemort with the same use of Dark magic. 'The only way we will win is to fight the Dark with the Dark.' Utter madness! I have since cut away most ties with them. I do not interfere with them. I have the Order now, with thousands of members and still growing. We are the Light against the weight of both enemies." Dumbledore waited for the wizard to digest his words. A winter breeze whooshed past them.
"Gellert, we must remain between the chaos here. You must remain between them: Between Voldemort and the Ministry."
"But you want me to destroy-"
"Destroy and ruin foundations, yes, kill no. You need to give Voldemort the right illusion."
"You've grown strange in your old years."
Dumbledore curved his lips into a thin smile. "Perhaps..."
"It has been like the last sixty years have been a wisp of smoke."
Dumbledore sighed. "The past is the past, and now times have grown more desperate."
"Yes, it seems so desperate that you had to pluck me out from the darkest of dungeons, eh?" Grindelwald chortled.
"I cannot battle him, Gellert." Dumbledore felt frail. "I cannot die until there is someone strong enough to fight him... stronger than me… working for the Light. I am half the man I was long ago."
"Now, now, you know that is utter nonsense!"
However Dumbledore looked away, as though it was shameful and humiliating to be talking about his power.
"Would you like me to kill him?"
Dumbledore frowned. "Please try to avoid it."
A wrinkled smile curled on Grindelwald's lips. "How interesting… after all the trouble he's caused thus far? Then why these far fetched ideas?"
"I'm worried that you do not have the skills to match up to Lord Voldemort. Besides that is not your job to do it."
"Oh I wasn't talking about that fellow, Dear Albus, I was talking about the boy!"
Pausing for a second or two, Dumbledore scratched the point of his crooked long nose. "First you will deal with your relocation on British soil—"
"There's something your not telling me about Harry Potter is there? Is he the boy who is meant to kill—?"
"There are plenty of things which you do not need to know about Harry Potter, besides the fact that he is a dangerous Death Eater in Azkaban. You will know more in time."
"Hmmm, yes, but what about the prophecy then?" Grindelwald pressed on, hungry for answers.
"What of it?" Dumbledore asked curtly.
"Is there more than one?"
"Our conversation should end here, Gellert." He stared into the wizard's grey eyes, remembering how much in common they had. Their youth together flooded back. Their fun and adventures, their thirst for power and answers. Dumbledore wanted to know how on earth Gellert knew that another prophecy existed!
Grindelwald looked disappointed. "Very well then, Albus, until the next time we meet." With a pop he vanished, leaving Albus alone on the church roof again.
Albus Dumbledore sighed, staring at the very spot Grindelwald had sat. He saw something glittering on a broken slate and snatched it up. Dumbledore chuckled to himself as his eyes raked over Grindelwald's gold calling card. A black 'G" was scrolled upon it. It swirled as though it were alive and writhing.
Satisfied with the evening's events and perhaps with a twinge of doubt twisting in his stomach, Dumbledore pocketed the calling card and pulled out a tattered old note from the same pocket. The note had looked as though it had been opened, folded, or flattened a thousand times. Dumbledore had read it often, making sure that before the fruition of whatever far fetched plan he had, the words in this note would always ground him firmly in reality. In neat handwriting scrolled across the piece of parchment were the words:
I did what you asked me to do, yet you betrayed me.
Dumbledore closed the letter he had treasured for long. He treasured the words for its meaning, for its silent threat. He traced out the boy's tear stains. The boy he had trained. He was the very boy who had fallen spectacularly from grace. Dumbledore knew his day would come. But until then, he had plenty of work to do.