The sky was grey. Tiny, perfect white flakes fell to earth. He held a hand out to catch one.
When it touched his palm, he shivered at its warmth. His eyes travelled to its source: a billowing smokestack. So like snow, from a distance.
He rubbed the ash between two fingers, smearing it across his thumb. Even expecting it, he retched at the scent of burning flesh in the air.
He scowled at the barbed wire fence below.
The guards fired upon his arrival.
"Lower your weapons." His German was pure, unaccented. "Can you not see I am like you?"
He stepped toward the ominous iron gates.
"Don't come any closer."
He raised his wand. Power coursed through it, buzzing frenetically. His thumb ran over the elderberries carved on its handle.
Moments later, the guards at the gate burned, their ash swirling into the air to join the remains of their victims.
It took one more spell to open the gates.
And then prisoners began swarming toward him, pleading with him in a dizzying array of languages.
"You come to rescue us?" one asked, in Polish.
"Not iyou/i," Gellert answered, sneering.
As the man fell to the ground, lifeless, Gellert told himself it was a mercy killing. These people looked dead already.
Another guard ran forward. He screamed as his gun exploded in his hands. Gellert killed him, too.
"Please," cried a young man- a boy, really - in an SS uniform. "Don't shoot!"
Gellert grabbed the youth by the wrist. "Bring me to her."
The wizard tightened his grip. "You know."
The young guard's fingers shook as he unlocked the door to the tiny, brick building. It took one word from Gellert to crack the boy's skull against the wall.
Inside, a girl sat shivering in a corner, though it was warm. In the center of the room, a blue light danced, conjured from nothing. Gellert's expression softened. "Raizel Goldstein?" he asked.
She looked up, eyes luminous and large.
"You are the daughter of Natan and Libke Goldstein?" His Yiddish was broken, tentative.
Her lip trembled. "They're dead. The soldiers..."
"I know," he answered. He held out a hand. "These people...they are frightened of us. Come," he said. "We go somewhere safe."
The child waited on the steps of Hogwarts Castle at dawn. Her clothing was threadbare, her body skeletal; her hair as thin as if she were an elderly woman. There was an envelope pinned to her dress, addressed in perfect, elegant calligraphy.
Headmaster Dippet frowned as he unpinned the note, trying each of the six languages he spoke without a glimmer of recognition from the child.
He led the child to the infirmary and sought out the Transfiguration Master.
"Albus? There's another one."
Albus didn't open the envelope. He opened a drawer, full of tiny envelopes just like it, all addressed identically.
"What does it say?" asked Armando Dippet.
"The children are safe; that's all that matters," said Albus Dumbledore.