May 1940. Eight months since war broke out. Eight months since Hitler had invaded Poland and Britain, France, South Africa, Australia, News Zealand and Canada decided that they could not stand aside and let a tyrant take over the world. Shortly after, the Ministry's of Magic in these countries also declared war, as they were aware, thanks to a special ops team from Her Majesty's Wizarding Forces, that World War Two, was instigated in part by a wizard. Gellert Grindlewald.
Gellert Grindlewald. Albus snorted. How much of his life was going to be ruined by that man? First his heart (which took years to heal), his sister, relationship with his brother, and now Harry. Harry....
Harry had only been able to apparate or portkey back to England three times in the past eight months, each time his visit was cut short by more outbreaks of war. Things would settle down, then flare up as soon as Harry was out of the country. Life in Britain was still fairly normal,it was possible to believe that the war was just a figment of imagination. Especially in rural Scotland. However, newspaper images showed daily new attrocities committed by Grindlewald and his lackey, Adolf Hitler. Albus opened up his latest letter from Harry. Balthasar was a very busy bird. He'd had special advanced training at the Ministry as a covert communications owl and thus was fairly safe to send messages with. Harry's last message had come that morning.
May 17th, 1940
I still miss you like crazy. I'm sorry the last trip got cut short, hope Ari got her birthday present from me. A bit late, but the shops in Poland are not exactly great at the moment. My trip here has been concluded and I am leaving for France as soon as I post this letter. Will be joining up with the British Army in North France. The Germans have recently invaded Belgium and we need to push the twits back.
Enough about the war. Am hoping to wangle some more free time soon, and then we'll go out for a romantic dinner again. That's what's been keeping me going these last few eeks, thoughts of you and me, in the sunshine, having a picnic in the clearing in the forest near our house. Strawberries and cream, fresh bread and butter, a roast chicken....The food here has been pretty awful. Why hasn't some clever transfigurations Master figured out how to make transfigured food yet? If you have a spare minute, between teaching and looking after the twosome, get cracking on it!
Give Tom and Ari my love. Apologise again to Ari for missing her birthday. And tell Tom that emotional blackmail will not get him the Cleansweep 4. He only just got the 3 and it's good enough for a Hogwarts team. Maybe next year when he is a third year. And thank him for taking such good care of the snakes for me.
Well, I'd better be off, portkey's waiting. Wish I could say this war'll be over soon like some of the other chaps, but I know it won't. Unless something changes, the person who defeats Grindlewald isn't involved yet, and if I get my way, he wont be. He doesn't need that kind of pressure.
Love you heaps, thinking of you always,
Albus folded up the letter. It had been a week since the letter had been posted. He wondered where Harry was now...
"Fucking Germans!" Cori swore as he dodged another granade, flicking it away with his wand. "Dont they realise that I am a very important person and don't need to be covered in mud all the time!"
"Maybe the DO know your important, and figure that you've been missing out on beauty treatments. Mud masks are good for the skin!" Harry replied, laughing as he cast a shield over the nearest phalanx of soldiers, effectively saving their lives from the splatter of machine gun fire heading towards them. Humour, and comradeship were one of the ways that Harry and Cori remained upbeat. Though at present, there wasn't much to be upbeat about. They had just heard that the Belgium Ministry and King had surrended to the Germans, and were at present in retreat trying to get the army to safety. Not an easy task when you are being harried by machine guns, bombs and grenades. Airstrikes weren't helping either. Enemy snipers were shooting down any bird in the sky, Harry assumed it was so that messenger birds weren't able to contact other wizards for help. Harry, Cori and ten more pairs of wizards, both English and French, were the sole wizards in an army of about 350, 000. They spent most of their time shielding the soldiers, dismantling traps and keeping the enemy wizards at bay. Harry and Cori were by far the most effective, do in part to Harry's sheer amount of magical power and Cori's ruthless nature. But despite this, things were not looking good. It was a bloody retreat, and no one was quite sure how it was going to end. Not even Harry. He had lost track of the date and their whereabouts. Cori had been fishing for Harry to recall how things turned out, but Harry couldn't remember. He just knew that things were not looking good.
"Harry, Cori. Scouts report that there is a town ahead. It's a port town, there may be some boats so some of us can escape the slaughter. We also have heard that the German armies have halted for now. We may have a day or so respite." Varden, a French Hit wizard called out.
Harry was camped outside town in a tent with Cori. He wasn't sure where exactly he was, somewhere nearish Calaise by his reckoning. The German army had been relatively quiet the last day but he knew it wasn't going to last. Even now, he could hear the distant sounds of aeroplanes in the sky. He nudged Cori with his foot. "Up, dream boy. Time for us to go earn our keep. Bombers coming in."
Cori swiftly woke up, a habit he'd recently acquired. He and Harry rushed out of their tent and began a complex series of wand movements and incantations. Harry could feel the air around him crackle with the strength of the magic they cast out, trying to put up a shield to protect as many people as they could from the Luftwaffe. Booms, crashes and flashes of light lit up the skies as the bombs hit. Some cries could be heard, where shields had been weak or failed. Muggles couldn't see the magic, but Harry could, and he was dismayed to realise that some areas of the soldiers were not covered. He could see the area under the protection of Marie and Quincy flickering, not strong enough to keep out everything. He focused again on strengthening his own shield. He'd long since learnt that you can't save everyone. It felt like days, pouring his energy and magic intop the shield. His feet caked in mud as he drew magic from the very earth beneath him but at last it was over. Checking his watch, he realised that only an hour had passed. He grabbed Cori and they staggered over to the command tent, to see if there was anything they could do to help.
"Letters! They were dropping letters?" Cori stated, "Are they daft? The only thing paper is good for right now is toilet paper!"
"What did the letters say?" Harry asked.
The General handed one to Harry. He read, "British soldiers! Look at the map: it gives your true situation! Your troops are entirely surrounded — stop fighting! Put down your arms!"
"Hmm, where are we?" Harry asked quietly. He still was unsure as to where the army was. Somewhere in Europe was his idea at present.
"Dunkirk." General stated.
"Dunkirk!" Harry cried.
"What is it Harry. What do you know?" Cori demanded, having picked up on Harry's excitement.
"How do you guys feel about boats?" Harry asked slyly. He quickly explained his plan. While the generals organised the troops evacuation, Harry, Cori and half the other wizard teams would be at the harbour transfiguring boats. Hundreds and hundreds of boats.
"Do you really think this is going to work? This is insane. Some of these boats are little more than tug boats. How many people do you think will make it, half of the transfigurations will probably fail halfway over! And who will believe it? The average muggle isn't to know about magic, it's bad enough the Generals do!"
Harry shook his head. Cori was being unusually pigheaded. Maybe because he wasn't crash hot with transfiguration and instead of large ferries, he was only able to transfigure dainty little yachts.
"It'll work, and the muggles will be none the wiser, and in fact, this will be seen as an example of British bravery and daring. Enough to make history books, history books that a small boy might read in the future!"
Some of the wizards shook their heads. They were unsure if there would be a future for any of them and couldn't see anything worth writing about but Cori perked up. "History making is it. Well then, what shall we call the next yacht? I'm thinking The Lucky Devil!" And he began to whistle as he worked.
Hours later, watching as the last boat set off with its cargo of soldiers, Cori shot the tired Harry a grin. Harry pulled a stone out of his pocket and muttered, "Portus." The stone shimmered for a second and then solidified. Cori took hold of the stone as well. "Where's it set to?"
"Dover. Need to modify some memories so that they think they organised the rescue launch."
"And then where to?"
"Debrief, then off to get some strawberries."
"You probably don't want to know."
It was quite late. Albus had sat up by the fire after reading Ari a story and putting her to bed. He sipped on his cocoa and absent mindedly thought of going to bed. He pushed himself up from the chair and took his mug into the kitchen. Bobby had gone off to bed so Albus gave it a quick wash and rinse himself. Humming softly to himself, he washed.
"Bloody hell. Who moved the footstool?" a voice cursed. Albus dropped the mug, it shattered in the sink as he hurried into the living room. On the floor was a familiar stranger. His hair was long and tangled, his face adorned with week-long stubble and dressed in clothes that were dirty and in need of repair. His shoes were very muddy. Nontheless, Albus ran forward and scooped him into his arms.
"You've moved the footstool."
"Mmmn, I know. I've taken up sitting in your chair, so the footstool is with me."
"I think I squished the strawberries. There is a funny stain spreading on my hip."
"Strawberries? Oh, strawberries. Forget them. The important thing is your home. Take a bath, and come to bed. We'll discuss strawberries and everything else tomorrow."
Harry held Albus close, inhaling the lemony scent of him and stroking his long, slightly grey, auburn hair.
"Missed you too."
They walked together to the bathroom, content to be together again, for the moment.