This is just a...somewhat long piece on a character that interested me while reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Or rather, his mentality at the very end, along with some words from Dumbledore in the chapter "King's Cross" interested me.
Disclaimer: It all belongs to JK Rowling. I am nowhere near as talented.
Inside the Tallest Tower of Nurmengard:
It was a quiet night, so quiet that it made the few remaining strands of hair stand on the back of his neck. The old, emaciated figure chuckled hoarsely as he recalled his earlier thought – stopping abruptly when he was overcome by a bout of coughing – and did his best to wrap the thin, threadbare blanket around him in a more secure manner.
Quiet? It had always been quiet in here. That was what the Black Fortress was known for, was it not?
He shivered as the cold draft of wind blew in through the thin crack that was the window, unconsciously wondering if the idea of placing him in the topmost tower of the fortress was to ensure his death by the elements as opposed to by another Wizard.
Seeing how the threadbare blanket was not doing much to help him, the old man rose from the stone bench that made up his bed, wincing at the pain in his joints and at the tremors that shook his body as he slowly, very slowly made his way to the 'window'.
The corners of his aged, dry lips quirked upward as he took a moment to look down at himself, at the almost snow white skin with the clearly protruding bones that showed through the old and battered rags that remained of his robes.
He was nothing but an old man. A very frail, very old man.
"Who would have thought, hmm?" he mused aloud, his voice hoarse and scratchy to his ears. This was only to be expected for one needed to speak if one wanted to have a properly-functioning voice. All the speaking he had over the last…number of decades had been to himself - and that had mostly been in his head.
Shaking his head – and wincing as his thinning neck muscles protested most earnestly at the movement – he continued on his path towards the 'window'.
Wrinkled, aged hands ran across the black stone wall once he reached it, taking note of the all too familiar roughness and uneven nature of the stone. It almost seemed as though, in their haste to make sure he had some kind of opening for fresh air, the lovely people who occasionally brought him his food had not cared about the damage their spells would cast upon the stone.
Hmm, they must have used a variation of the Severing Charm; modified to cut through the thick, almost magic resistant rock, of course.
Who knew, maybe they had originally intended to make him a proper window, but the stubbornness and thickness of the rock had prevented it.
The idea amused him.
No. No, this thin, long slit in the uneven surface of the rock had ended up being bigger than what they had probably expected. After all, the point of this whole place was for him to suffer, was it not? Why bother about giving him windows if that was the case?
As he leaned heavily against the uneven rock to press his face against the thin, narrow slit in it, he shivered harshly when the cool night wind reached his weathered face. It certainly was cold, that night. What he would give for a thicker blanket and –
-ah, no, the point was for him to suffer, was it not? In which case having a thick, warm blanket would sort of defeat the purpose.
Suffer…hmm, was he suffering?
That depended on what the definition of 'suffering' was. If it had anything to do with plans for subjugation and control disappearing down the drain, yes, he was suffering.
Was the guilt gnawing at him from inside?
There certainly was something gnawing at him from inside, but he was not sure if it was guilt or if it was his food-deprived body devouring itself slowly, out of desperation?
Did he even have anything left inside him?
He would like to think that he did. But then again, how was he to know? He had never been too good with dealing with psychological issues. No, that had been...a different person entirely.
A different expression crossed his face swiftly; one that an onlooker might have called an expression of curiosity if they had been there…but then again, why would they have wanted to be there?
Narrowing his big grey eyes – now weakened with age – he braved the cold breeze in an attempt to gaze at the sky outside; at what he could see of the sky.
It was dark, yes, that much was rather obvious, but what caught his eye was the waning moon. Judging from the size of the thing – if his eyesight was as accurate as he thought it was, despite weakening with age – he guessed that it was three to four days after the full moon.
Someone had once told him that the moon's appearance in the night sky was somewhat like acquiring power.
Once the desired power was acquired, its' wielder grew tall, strong and proud, much like the full moon – though where the 'tall' part fit in he knew not. And yet, as was apparently inevitable, the desired power would somehow start to leak out…to fail its' wielder, who would in turn shrink and diminish slowly.
Like the phases of the moon.
Maybe he should have listened to that philosophy. If he had, he might not have been standing with his eyes peering through the slit in the rock and with his nose feeling as though it was going to freeze and then drop off.
The twinkling of a handful of stars, scattered about the night sky, caught his eye and unwittingly caused him to cringe.
They twinkled in much the same manner as a pair of…orbs. A pair of clear, light blue orbs, commonly referred to as eyes.
He wondered how he was; how life was treating him. When he had last seen him; many decades ago; he had been sporting a steadily growing beard, as well as long hair. He had found it amusing – and had told him so too – for he had never seen him as the type who would want to grow a beard.
Of course, he received no angered snarl or cold narrowing of eyes for the comment like he would have if he had been facing any other wizard. No, he had instead received a hearty chuckle, as blue eyes twinkled.
"It seems to be quite the famous trend amongst the Muggles – the men, of course – at the moment. I thought it would be good to try something different. In fact, if I find that this is agreeable to me, I might even leave it to grow to touch the tips of my toes! Ah, that would be an interesting sight to see…"
And of course, he did not hurl fury-backed curses at the man for having the gall to mock him by speaking in that manner. Oh no. He had just laughed dryly, shaking his head and yet gripping his prized wand tightly in his hands.
"Merlin's beard! You, my friend, have not changed over the years. Not one bit."
To which his 'friend's' reply had been; "You cannot know that. In any case, you, you, Gellert, have changed quite a bit…"
Had there been a touch of disappointment underneath the serious tone? Or had it been resentment; resentment for destroying the already fragile bonds that had held him and what remained of his family together?
Whatever it was, the outcome of that meeting had been…
…well, the outcome had landed him here, in the sole room at the top of the tallest tower of the Black Fortress, Nurmengard; where he was doomed to spend the rest of his life, in some sort of atonement for his sins.
If only things were that simple.
He had heard all about the newest…Dark Lord. The fellow went by the name of…Voldemort, if his age-addled mind was still functioning well. And from what he had gathered, this…Voldemort, Lord Voldemort as he apparently insisted on being called, was as bad as he had been in his prime.
If that was the case, then he was willing to admit that the man – yes, he was a man no matter how much he might try to emulate an immortal being – was talented.
There was a slight wry smile on his face. Talented he may be, but he was certainly foolish at the same time. If he had indeed done some of the things he was rumoured to have done; things that permanently changed his soul; then he certainly was a fool.
Perhaps even a bigger fool than he had been.
Yes, he had desired power, many, many years ago, but...he most certainly had not disfigured himself – in both body and soul – in the process.
Or was that because he was already disfigured? That was what his food-bringers thought.
Voldemort, he mused, eyes quickly taking in the waning moon and the twinkling stars against their dark backdrop, do not underestimate any man, even if...no, especially if he is old and has a long white beard that reaches the tips of his toes.
For you will meet the same end that I did, and I do not think I would like to share this small, cold, dreadful room with someone who is unable to feel what he is doing, Dark Lord though he may be.
The dawn of the next day found the frail, emaciated man standing with his face pressed against his slit of a window. Big, clear eyes stared outside but did not really notice the glorious day it seemed to be turning out to be.
No, he had other things on his mind.
After having been rudely roused by his 'food-bringers' a while ago he had grimaced inwardly when he felt the stiffness of his muscles, unconsciously wondering if that would teach him to avoid sleeping in a seated position on the floor with is back to an uneven surface of black rock.
The ever so kind, pure-hearted excuses for humans – not that he could blame them; he had destroyed their families when he was in his prime, if he could trust that they had been telling him the truth – had paused only to give him the news.
Yes, The News.
When The News had been flung harshly at him, they had sent him a number of last, disgusted looks before hurrying away, as though they did not want to witness him gloating over The News.
How wrong they were.
That brought him to the present, as he continued to stare blindly through the slit in the rock.
That was what he was; dead. In the name of Voldemort, by the hand of one who had long been suspected of being a supporter of the Dark Lord, but who he had trusted and taken in as a Professor at the school he governed.
His first thought had been that it was simply a fabricated tale made up by the vermin who occasionally brought him his food.
He would not have been...defeated in that manner. He knew exceptionally well about whom he should place his trust in, and thus, would not easily be betrayed.
An eerily cheerful voice in his head bade him to halt his next thoughts and focus, instead, on what he had just thought.
Ah. Of course. He did not know exceptionally well about whom he should place his trust in.
Why? Well, he had trusted him, had he not? Had they not become best friends, brothers even?
Yes, of course, he had not killed him, but he had still betrayed him. And the poor fool had been none the wiser, even though silly, uncivilized and uncultured Aberforth had been wary of him when he first set eyes on him.
What a pity that he had not listened to Aberforth.
Then again, it was not a pity. The ideas they had come up with had helped him greatly in his...rise to power and during the years where he ruled with an iron fist.
And then there was also the matter of feeling...comforted by the fact that he was the one who had defeated him in the end. He did not think he would have been able to bear the humiliation if some lesser wizard had been the one to bring him down.
That would have been embarrassing, to say the least. At least with him, he knew that...-well, it was time for him to swallow his pride-...he had been bested by the better wizard. He had always had slightly more skill that him.
And he was infinitely more skilful than Voldemort, he thought, a disgusted expression crossing his face, the temptation to delve into the Dark Arts was great, but he never gave in to it. That refusal on its own shows him to possess greater power than this little...upstart, Voldemort, boasts of having.
And it was then that the thought came to him; a thought that horrified and strangely pleased him at the same time.
He would come for it. If they were as similar as people say they were, he would search for it. Procuring it would mean, to him, that there was no one who would be able to wrestle the reins of power from him.
He would search high and low, look long and hard, and would inevitably be led here.
A cool breeze blew in through the slit in the rock, although this time it was rather refreshing.
If he had known of its current wielder, he would never have gotten a lackey to bring about his demise. How unfortunate for him, for he would be wasting time should he decide to visit the Black Fortress in hopes of an answer...or even a gift.
And he was willing to bet that he would not be too pleased about it either.
"I may be a frail old man," he mused quietly, "but I do know one thing; I will be ready for him when he comes. Nurmengard was meant to be a place for those like me to suffer...there is nothing he can do that will hurt me further."
So...had he suffered?
Had the guilt been gnawing at him inside?
Had he had anything left inside?
He was not sure of the answers to those questions, the very questions he asked himself on a daily basis – more out of a lack of anything else to do that out of an attempt to 'discover himself' or something stupid like that.
No, he was not sure about the answers to the three questions.
But he did know one thing.
He, Gellert Grindelwald, frequently wished that he was young again. He wished that he had attended Beauxbatons instead of Durmstrang. He wished that he had resisted the hypnotizing pull of the Dark Magic that called to him. He wished that he lived with his sometimes smothering but otherwise highly intelligent great-aunt. He wished sweet, vacant Ariana still lived in the small, well-kept cottage in Godric's Hollow.
And sometimes, he wished that he had not met seventeen year old Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. For the brief friendship between the two brightest young minds of their generation had resulted in some rather...horrific events and results.
It was, in hindsight, a joining of minds that should never have taken place.
Hmm...what was this? What was the term usually given to this...odd, out of place feeling...? It was not 'suffering', that he much he knew...but what was it-?
It is regret.
He smiled. He may not have 'suffered', but it appeared that he did have regrets. That ought to be good enough for Albus, who had pleaded with him to try and feel some remorse before he had been taken to Nurmengard.
Strange, he thought, why did you ask that of me, Albus?
Ah, that is something to think about on another day. But now, it is time to eat now, I think.
Er...right. This just popped into my head out of nowhere...and I really couldn't get anything done until I had gotten this typed out and thus out of my mind. I hope it made some sense whatsoever. Having said that, it was from the point of view of an emaciated, frail old man, who has been locked up for a long time.
Well, that's it from me here!
Hope you enjoyed that.