This is a very dark story with some disturbing scenes. Bleak and very depressing all the way through. This fic is also about exploring relationships and characters as they battle through the horrors of war.
1: This fic has strong adult themes, non graphic torture, rape, murder and abductions. There is swearing, violence, prison and war scenes. PTSD, drug use, infidelity and major/minor character deaths.
2: Thanks to Brianna for Betaing my fic.
3: SHIPS: Jily, past Snily. Harry/Ginny, Harry/Bellatrix, Harry/Parvati, Harry/Ocs, Ron/Hermione. Various characters with OCs.
4: This story is written in the POV of several characters.
5: GENRE: Horror, drama, angst and mystery. If you're looking for a super!powered serial!killer I-hate-the-world-Harry who fights with magic swords, machine guns and shit, then this is the wrong fic for you.
6: Apologies in advance. The first half of the fic is slow building, as I wanted to focus on character and world building.
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 work of fiction.
On a small hill, the full moon shone through the mist onto a forgotten church. It overlooked a quaint Muggle town, where twinkling pinpricks of light filtered from house windows, giving the town life and warmth. On the other hand, the church was in darkness. Even though it seemed derelict, except for birds and rats, a Muggle looking up would've discovered a strange sight.
An old wizard with a long, white beard sat on the roof of the church, as though this was a completely natural thing to do. As a breeze hit his dangling legs, he sucked on a sherbet lemon and heard an owl hooting nearby.
It was certainly bizarre 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 odd 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 embroidered blue robes. He pulled down his hood and sniffed the cold night air. He had a silver goatee with a pointed moustache, and his slick white hair was pulled into a ponytail, while his grey eyes were bright, like the stars hidden by the mist.
"Well hello, Albus," started the wizard with the crimson cloak. "This certainly isn't the place I would've expected to have a rendezvous. But alas…"
"Alas…" replied Dumbledore. He swung his feet a little over the edge, momentarily lost for words.
The tension was thick. This was the first time he had spoken to the wizard since his escape from Nurmengard. "Would you like a sherbet lemon, Gellert?"
"So you still like them after all this time? Yes, I wouldn't mind one myself." The wizard smiled, before helping himself to a sweet from the paper bag.
Just like the old days, thought Dumbledore, and how long ago those days were.
"You've cleaned up well and you look fantastic." Months before, Grindelwald had been a gaunt shell of a man tucked away in prison. "I hope I haven't exhausted you too much, but you seem to be having a lot of adventures lately. I'm amazed that you've destroyed so many Muggle towns in such a short period of time."
"Ahh yes, though my skills have rusted," Grindelwald chortled, like it had been a fairly simple thing to do, destroying cities. Like his sixty years in prison had been a mere holiday.
"But you're starting to gain Voldemort's attention, which is what I wanted. However, Gellert, don't get too carried away enjoying your freedom. I need your help to end this war. 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. Why are you helping me to gain power?" He looked at Dumbledore from the corner of his eyes.
Using Grindelwald had been a risk from the very start. There was always a chance that he would gain power without helping the Order of the Phoenix. Dumbledore had to take a chance. He was not the powerful wizard he used to be, and not the power that Voldemort had once feared. He was weary, tired, and he wanted nothing more than for the war that has lasted twenty-eight years to end.
"It's because you wouldn't be of any use to me if you didn't have power."
"Is that all, Albus? It seems I'm doing the Greater Good I was put in prison for."
"However…" He grimly looked at Grindelwald through his half-moon spectacles. "I'm not asking you to terrorise Muggles and Muggleborns!"
Grindelwald curled his lip. "Yes, yes, I know, but 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."
He pondered this for a moment. It was a horrible tactic, though he had to admit, it was one which would prove fruitful. "You need to stay in England now… that's the only way Voldemort will realise the challenge you pose."
The crimson cloaked wizard spread out his arms, displaying a cheeky smile. "I am already here at your service. I've been hiding in Cork for days with my followers."
"Excellent! But make sure you don't kill Muggles and innocents."
Grindelwald sniffed loudly again, 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—?"
"Why are you interested in the Elder Wand again?"
"I've heard rumours that you lost the wand to Voldemort."
"I lost it at my defeat…"
Grindelwald's eyes lit up. "I've heard things, horrible things. Will you explain to me what's happened here and to Hogwarts?"
He sighed. "I kept Voldemort out of Hogwarts for as long as I could. But, by then the Muggleborns were dwindling in numbers. Then the Chamber of Secrets opened and the rest of them were murdered by the basilisk that lived there. I lost over one hundred students that night." The shock of it still froze Dumbledore's heart.
"Is it true that Harry Potter opened the Chamber of Secrets? My supporters have told me so."
"It wasn't the boy's doing."
He had believed Harry when he had denied it. However, since the boy had murdered his brother and maimed his sister, Dumbledore needed to weigh the evidence. Even though the boy had been imprisoned in Azkaban for months now, a niggling feeling crept into his 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 he knew that part of the boy'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 too quickly, or if they failed to progress through the first detrimental stage of their transformation.
His investigations into the matter had to be put on hold as he dealt with bigger things, and Gellert Grindelwald was one of those bigger things.
"Hogwarts is the Dark Lord's hiding place." He said this calmly, though the bitterness still seeped through every pore in his body. "Voldemort took over the school soon after the Chamber's opening."
Grindelwald fiddled with his goatee. "I knew that not all the truth about Hogwarts made it out. The Ministry of Magic has an iron fist here. What else should I know? Tell me more about life here? There are too many rumours in Europe and this mist—this dreadful Dementor mist has lasted decades. Did you know it's spreading to France?"
He nodded. "The mist has baffled the Muggles for years. Half the Muggles blame it on climate change. The other half think terrorists are causing it. Only their government knows the truth."
"The Death Eaters?" guessed Grindelwald.
"The Muggles call them the Green Skulls... Voldemort has been creating havoc and destruction for the Muggles for many years."
"Why hasn't the Ministry done anything about this?"
"The British Ministry have been helping. The Aurors and Muggle forces work together. But the Ministry have made sure this problem remains only a British problem and have refused help from abroad."
"Hasn't the Muggle government questioned this? I'd want help from the likes of the U.N."
"The Muggles do as the Ministry says. They're too scared of us, and the ramifications. They know it's very hard finding wizards. Yes Muggle warfare helps, but it cannot place a huge dent in Voldemort's army. They bounce right back. The United Kingdom is a powerful country with only a small problem, they tell the world. And the Ministry's agents in the U.N have pleaded for no help."
Grindelwald's brow furrowed. "But why doesn't your Ministry want help from our lot?"
"Because the Ministry itself is embroiled in corruption and paranoia… Morals, ethics and justice have all been destroyed..."
"Please explain why Rufus Scrimgeour been Minister for twenty-two years?" questioned Grindelwald.
"Rufus changed the election laws. No one dares question his tactics."
"And he's imbalanced from what I heard. He hides in the dark while he orders others around."
"Hmm, yes," agreed Dumbledore. "He is ruthless and paranoid ever since he watched his family get murdered twenty-four years ago. He believes the Ministry is his inheritance, and that the European nations want to takeover. Rufus ripped apart Ministry departments and disposed of all Heads who opposed him. He replaced them with people he could trust: cruel wizards and witches secretly thirsting for power, who catered to his every whim."
"My word, indeed… almost three decades can warp the way a nation thinks," said Dumbledore sadly.
"And the witch hunts?"
"Say one word against the Ministry and they'll label you a Death Eater. They will cart you away to Azkaban. Then, they'll brainwash your family. If your family don't comply, they're imprisoned as well."
"It's worse than I thought. When my supporters told me they were scared of the Ministry, I thought they were exaggerating."
Dumbledore nodded. "In order to protect us, Scrimgeour says, we must change our ways. Match up to Voldemort with the same use of Dark magic. I've cut most ties with them. I have the Order now, with thousands of members and still growing. We are the good against the weight of both enemies." He waited for the wizard to digest his words. A winter breeze whooshed past them.
"Gellert, we must remain between them. You must remain between Voldemort and the Ministry."
"But you want me to destroy—"
"I don't want you to kill and torture innocents. 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's like the last sixty years has been a wisp of smoke."
"The past is the past, and now times have grown more desperate."
"So desperate it seems that you had to pluck me out from the darkest of dungeons, eh?" Grindelwald chortled.
"I can't battle him." He felt so frail and so weak. "I can't die—won't die—until there is someone strong enough to fight him."
"Now, now, you know that is utter nonsense!"
Dumbledore looked away, as though it was shameful and humiliating to be talking about his lack of power.
"Would you like me to kill him?" Grindelwald asked.
"Please try to avoid it. It'll backfire on you."
"How interesting… after all the trouble he's caused?"
"I'm worried that you do not have the skills to match up to Lord Voldemort," he answered with a frown.
"Oh I wasn't talking about him. I was talking about the boy!"
Pausing for a second or two, Dumbledore scratched the point of his crooked long nose. "No."
"There's something you're not telling me about Harry Potter isn't there? Is he truly a Mage? Is he the boy who is meant to kill—?"
"There are plenty of things which you do not need to know about Harry Potter... Just wait."
"Hmmm, yes, but what about the prophecy then?" Grindelwald pressed on.
"What about it?" Dumbledore asked curtly.
"I know there's more than one."
"Our conversation should end here, Gellert." He wanted to know how on earth Gellert knew that.
He stared into the wizard's grey eyes, remembering how much they had in common. He remembered their youth together, their fun and adventures, their thirst for power and answers.
Grindelwald looked disappointed. "All right then, until the next time we meet." With a pop he vanished, leaving him alone on the church roof again.
Dumbledore sighed, staring at the very spot his old friend and enemy had sat. He saw something glittering on a broken slate and snatched it up. He chuckled to himself as his eyes raked over the 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 looked as though it had been opened, folded, or flattened a thousand times. Dumbledore 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.
I did what you asked me to do, but you still betrayed me.
Dumbledore closed the letter he had treasured for long. He treasured the words for their meaning, for their silent threat. He traced out the boy's tear stains, the boy he had trained and who had fallen spectacularly from grace.
He knew his day would come when he had to face Harry for what had truly happened. But until then, he had plenty of work to do.