Powerful Madmen

Or, Why You Should Never Assume That Your Brilliant, Charismatic Leader is in Full Control of His (Or Her, as the Case May Be) Mental Faculties, Because Everyone Knows That Anyone Who Works Hard to Reach a Position in Which He (Or She, Again as the Case May Be) Has to Deal With Whingeing, Arguing Minions, Some of Whom are Trying to Usurp His (or Her) Aforementioned Hard-Earned Position, All While Trying to Save/Rule [Insert Appropriate Verb] the World, was Mad to Begin With

[In order to appreciate the full impact of the following heading, and any similar ones later in this narrative, the reader should imagine the words appearing on the screen letter by letter, to a background of clicking noises such as a typewriter might produce, in a manner reminiscent of American B action movies. You know, the kind where the writers and producers are too busy being in love with the scene where the good guy kicks the asses of, like, eighty bad guys at once, dude, to worry about minor things like the plot.]

A SECRET HIDEOUT SOMEWHERE IN GERMANY*

"See, he's got all the right ideas," explained one of Grindelwald's more senior minions to her younger brother, who was a newly-recruited minion. "About killing the mudbloods and ruling the muggles, I mean. And he's got the power to do it. But that doesn't mean he's sane. Listen to what he's saying and you'll see what I mean.

The new minion pressed his ear to the door. His sister had taken him to spy on their leader, Gellert Grindelwald, so that he would know for certain what he was getting himself into, though he'd gotten a good idea when he'd heard the name of their secret organization. Grindelwald was supremely indecisive - except when it came to certain goals, like ruling the world or enslaving muggles - and terribly uncreative. The combination of these two traits had led to Grindelwald calling his group of followers The _. This led to trouble, of course, especially since three quarters of his minions called themselves either The Blank or just The, and a lot of the remaining quarter called it The - .

However, his sister was very thorough and conscientious and wanted to be sure her brother knew the mental status of their leader, which was why they were currently eavesdropping on Grindelwald. The dark wizard in question was muttering to himself as he read "Ye Olde Booke of Strange and Unusual Spells for the Aspiring Darke Wizard."

"Hmmm... a spell to cause sporadic toothaches, maybe? Or addiction to strange Muggle candies - no, he's already got that. Aha!" Grindelwald yelled this last bit so loudly that his two hidden minions jumped, nearly revealing themselves in the process. "Perfect! A spell which causes scarring in the form of the victim's current obsession. It's obvious that Dumbledore is obsessed with me, both because he wants to stop me and because of my dashing good looks. I'll hit him on the cheek with this spell. When people see it, they'll assume he worships me, to the point that he's willing to carve my face into his cheek. All his followers will lose confidence in him, and he won't be able to oppose me anymore! Oh, I'm so clever." Mercifully, at this point Grindelwald's monologue trailed off into mutters, punctuated by the occasional burst of maniacal laughter.

The hidden siblings exchanged glances. "Alright, I concede," admitted the junior minion without any prompting from his sister. "He's definitely insane."

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*Probably Germany. If I told you for sure I'd have to kill you, because if you stayed alive the location wouldn't be a secret anymore.

oOoOoOo

[The reader should be reminded that these words should be imagined scrolling across the screen they way they do in bad action movies.]

Meanwhile, in a Secret Hideout Somewhere in England*

"See, he's got all the right ideas," explained one of Albus Dumbledore's more senior min- er, followers to his younger sister, who was a newly-recruited follower. "About stopping Grindelwald and saving the muggles, I mean. And we don't want to discourage him from taking action now that he's finally decided to do something. But that doesn't mean he's sane. Just listen to him and you'll see what I mean."

The younger sister obediently conjured a glass, which she pressed to the door of Dumbledore's study. Her brother had taken her to spy on their fearless leader so that she'd know what she was getting herself into, although she already had a pretty good idea due to Dumbledore's reputation. He wasn't exactly known for his sanity, after all, and he offered those strange muggle sweets to nearly everyone he met. How could anyone, no matter how mad, eat so many jelly babies?

She shook her head sharply to pull herself back to the present and returned her attention to eavesdropping on Dumbledore. There was a sign on the door to his study informing people that he was planning war strategies and was not to be interrupted, but his mumbling didn't sound like war strategies to his newest minion. In fact, he sounded rather like that ginger who had been two years under her - was his name Waslib? She thought about it for a moment before deciding it was unimportant and once more returning her attention to Dumbledore, who seemed to be discussing the London Underground with himself, using different voices for the "two" people in the conversation, though both were obviously Dumbledore.

"Did you ever see something so ingenious?"

"No, I had no idea the muggles could do this. I've been defending them, of course, but mostly as a matter of principle, and also because of their sweets. But now I've discovered the London Underground, I'll never underestimate them again."

"How can they come up with this without using and Imagination Enhancing Potion? This is amazing! Wizards have never invented anything nearly as impressive as the London Underground."

"I agree, but I do have one question."

"Hmm?"

"Is there really such a thing as an Imagination Enhancing Potion?"

To her relief, Dumbledore's strange conversation dissolved into giggles at this point. The listening siblings exchanged looks. No words were needed. They know they agreed on the state of Dumbledore's sanity, or rather, insanity.

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*Probably in England. See above footnote for an explanation of why I can't tell you.

oOoOoOo

In the year 1945, Dumbledore and Grindelwald gathered their forces and met somewhere in Continental Europe for their final confrontation. As their respective minions battled, Dumbledore and Grindelwald stalked toward each other, eventually meeting in a convenient clearing in the center of the battle. They face one another for a few moments, wands outstretched dramatically. They waited, by unspoken agreement, for the surrounding fighters to stop their battle and watch what was sure to be a dramatic duel. Once there was silence, with all eyes on the powerful leaders, the impressive display of magical prowess began. Spell were flung back and forth at an amazing velocity, and a small bush which was unfortunate enough to be hit by a stray spell turned into a garden gnome and slunk away sullenly. Both men avoided being hit by any spells for several minutes, but that couldn't last forever. Dumbledore was hit first; upon seeing that, most of his minio- followers winced, and several covered their eyes in horror.* Dumbledore, who had been hit in the knee, stumbled and nearly fell over, but Grindelwald was too busy lamenting his failure to take advantage of this. After all, who cared if Dumbledore had a Gellert-shaped scar just above his left knee?

While Grindelwald mourned his lost chance, Dumbledore, who had recovered from his near-fall, stunned Grindelwald and conjured a prison-like cell around him. There was a moment of silence, with the people on the field so shocked by the quick end to the duel they didn't even think to cheer. As the surprise wore off, the tumultuous sound of rejoicing began raggedly. Some of Grindelwald's surviving minions, feeling confused, joined the celebrations, but they were subdued before they had a chance to steal the food which was being popped in by house elves.

Nobody gave much thought to the spell which had hit Dumbledore, not even the fearless leader himself, until much later that night. Once the party was over, Dumbledore's second-in-command questioned him about it.

"I've no idea," Dumbledore responded. "It doesn't seem to have had a lasting effect. Perhaps I ought to check, though." He pulled his robes up past his knees (his second-in-command winced and nearly looked away, before reminding herself sharply that she had fought in the war against Grindlewald and was not going to be beaten by Dumbledore's legs now) and examined the damage. It was not very extensive; in fact, all that was visible was some scarring made up of slightly strange lines and - were those words?

"What on earth!" exclaimed Dumbledore's second-in-command, who was a pureblood and knew very little about muggle culture.

"It's a map," responded Dumbledore, looking delighted but confused. "A map of the London Underground. Now, what kind of spell does that, and why would Gellert use it in a duel?"

His second-in-command shrugged, still confused about the scar, and unenlightened but what she considered a typically Dumbledorean cryptic non-answer - was a London Underground some sort of rebellion based in their capital? "We can only guess," she said. "We may never know."

Dumbledore looked thoughtful at this diagnosis and repeated the words to himself. "We can only guess. We may never know. Profound," he added. "I could use that." His second-in-command ignored this as a typically Dumbledore enigmatic sentence for which she'd never get an explanation.

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*The exception to this was one industrious couple who, cleverly, were using the distraction to stun many of Grindlewald's followers and Portkey them straight to prison.

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(A/N: Have you ever seen a map of the London Underground? It's quite a strange shape for a scar even if you leave off the words.)

(Additional A/N: I published this story two days ago, and since then thirty one people have read it. I haven't received a single review! Please, please let me know what you think, even if you think it's awful. We'll make a code, OK? A smiley face means you liked the story and a frowning face means you didn't. I'd love a longer review, but even that's enough.)