The source of the madness

A short glimpse of the Grindelwald war, and two of its heroes. Characters belong to Rowling.

A bomb flared up and illuminated the clouded sky, the crevade for a moment drowning the ever-repeating noise of the machine-guns. Who had dropped the bomb, their own side or the enemy, the muddy, terrified men in the trenches did not know or care for. If the bomb hit them they would still be dead, no matter who it once had been intended for. One group was attempting an advance towards a trench hold by, presumably, the enemy. The machine-gun greeted them, and only two men managed to reach the muddy men they were aiming for. They were finished off with the bayonets of their enemies, but not before one of them had managed to throw a grenade down the trench.

A small hill, not very far from the trench where the bodies of the soldiers in this very moment was torn to pieces by the exploding grenade, gave a slight vantage point over the endless battlefield. A spectator standing there could see miles and miles of mud, barbed wire, wreck of destroyed muggle war machines and the bodies of the men who had been sent to fight in the war, for glory, for their country, for freedom, or for any other reason which here, in the mud, seemed as far away as the moon. An old man stood on the hill, dressed in torn, mud splashed robes and a hat with burnt marks. In his hand he hold a wand, shining with an intense, white light. The man was crying.

"Stop it!" he shouted, tears streaming down his face and his beard. He pointed with the wand towards one of the nearby trenches, and the men there were astonished to realize that the machine-gun they operated, without any warning or explanation, suddenly jammed.

"Stop the fighting," the man yelled again, to everyone and no one. A bomb that just was released from one of the airplanes circling high above, failed to release its trigger and fell to the ground without doing any harm. A group of soldiers that just had made the jump up from their trench to advance towards their enemy and, most certainly, their death, felt an invisible force driving them back.

"You'll kill yourself. You'll all die!" he cried, and all around him the machines of war ceased to carry out their intended, deadly, function, forming a small bubble of respite in the battle-field. But outside that small refuge, the slaughter continued with undiminished strength. The old man sank to the ground and started to sob uncontrollable.

A shape tore itself from the clouds in the sky and speeded down towards the hill, taking form and substance as it came closer. It was not one of the bombs or small fighters that was such a common sight for the soldiers. It was a man, younger then the old man who cried on the hill, but dressed in the same fashion. His hair and beard was ginger, and he rode a broomstick. In his hand he held a wand, glowing blue. He landed on the hill and leant down next to the crying man.

"Nicolas!" he panted, his voice worried. "Are you hurt?" The old man seemed to recognize the voice of the newcomer. He looked up and met his eyes, and such was the grief and emptiness in them that the younger man involuntarely tore away.

"They're dying, Albus," he sobbed. "The muggles. They kill each other by thousands a day, and the madness is only getting worse. These machines they make get more and deadlier as we speak. They keep sending even more of their young to die here. There's no stopping it."

The young man put a hand on the shoulder of the older, talking with soothing voice.

"It'll stop, Nicolas. War can't last forever, you of all people should now that. Right now thousands of wise men and women are talking reason to their leaders. Soon they will come to their senses again." Nicolas shook his head.

"You're young, Albus, and haven't seen what I've seen. They will go on and on, and if they stop fighting it'll only be to invent yet deadlier machines or to find out new excuses for the next war... My whole life has been filled by war, Albus. Filled by it! I thought the last one was bad... and the one in the colonies... but this one is the worst yet... Those moving fortresses they have build... or that poisoned air... or the bombs... they'll kill each other before they know it..." He rushed to his feet and pointed his wand straight at the sky, a white beam shooting from it. "YOU'LL KILL EACH OTHER, DID YOU HEAR THAT? YOU'LL HAVE TO STOP!" he screamed. High up in the air, over the clouds, the terrified pilots of the bomber that hoovered there suddenly realized that the plane's engines had ceased to work. Albus grabbed the arm of his friend as gently as he could and forced him too look into his eyes again.

"That's no use, Nicolas," he said urgently. "They're too many. We can't stop it here." He saw the eyes of the old man filling with tears again, and quickly went on. "We'll have to go to the source of the madness, Nicolas. We'll have to stop Grindelwald. And I think I know a way..."

Talking softly to the old man, Albus managed to calm him down enough for him to agree on going on. They sat on the broomstick, Albus steering, Nicolas sitting behind him and clinging to his robe, and together they disappeared up in the sky. The fight that for a moment had been interrupted by the old wizard flared up again, as violent and vicious that it seemed to have never been stopped at all.

There were a number of muggle soldiers who had seen the strange events taking place, seen an old man with a stick command machine guns and tanks and bombs to interrupt their tasks, seen the flying broomstick and understood that magic exists not only in fairy tales. Perhaps some of them would have spread the tale, investigated further and maybe, in the end, had discovered just how close their world was to destruction, just because of one single, mad wizard. But when the next day came, they were all dead.