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Reformed, Returned and Really Trying (Harry Potter AU) (Complete)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Starfox5, Aug 25, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 1: Breakout
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Reformed, Returned, and Really Trying

    Disclaimer
    : I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters in the Harry Potter books or movies.

    Summary: AU. With Albus dead, there’s only one wizard left continue his fight. His oldest friend. His true love. There’s no better choice for defeating a Dark Lord bent on murdering all muggleborns than the one wizard who gathered them under his banner once before. True, things went a little out of hand, but Gellert Grindelwald has changed. Now, if only everyone else would realise this...

    I’d like to thank Pahan and InquisitorCOC for beta-reading.

    Cover:
    [​IMG]

    Chapter 1: Breakout

    Nurmengard, Magical Prussia, July 12th, 1997

    Contrary to what others might have thought, he had long ago accepted his fate. For his unforgivable sins, he deserved to die in prison, despised by everyone. The things he had done, in his rage, in his hubris… It had taken him a long time to accept that he had been wrong, and even longer to come to terms with his guilt, but he had done it. Too late, far too late, but he had managed. He hadn’t been able to do much but think. Think and remember.

    And, all things considered, things could have been worse. His cell was not large, and certainly not comfortable - he had designed the prison for his own enemies, after all - but it was tolerable. Not that he deserved it, but his friend had been more merciful than he had deserved.

    But his last, best friend was now dead. Murdered. The guards had told him. Not to taunt him, no - that sort of thing had stopped decades ago. Simply to tell him, so he wouldn’t expect a visit. And, maybe, so he’d finally let himself die, and this shameful chapter of history could be closed.

    Yet he wouldn’t. Couldn’t. With his friend gone, too many were left defenseless. Helpless. At the mercy of an enemy who might be worse than he had ever been. There was no one to replace his friend, no one to continue the fight, no one to stand for the cause they once had shared.

    No one but him.

    He knew the prison, better than anyone. He knew its weaknesses and its guards. He had been working on a way to escape, right after he had been imprisoned. And he had continued to work on it, even after he had accepted his fate - both because there was not much else to do than plan and think, and because to stay in prison while he might escape proved, to himself, that he had changed. Had become the man he should have been, and stayed, long ago.

    The man who might yet save his friend’s country, and maybe atone a tiny bit for his own sins. He wouldn’t be alone, he knew that. There were some of his old allies left. They hadn’t found everyone. And others still remembered him fondly. Old, like him, but still dangerous. They might be misguided, had been misled, just as he had lost his way, but they would still follow him, if he called them. When he called them.

    He stood up from where he had been sitting on his cot and faced the door to his cell. He had no wand, but that was no bar to magic. Not for someone who had studied magic as he had. And had had decades to hone his skill.

    For a moment, he hesitated. He could still stop. Wait until he died in this cell and was reunited with his friend.

    But no. He shook his head. How could he face him, knowing he could have saved his friends, but had chosen not to? Had chosen to do nothing?

    It was time to do what was right, not what was easy.

    When he had constructed the prison, decades ago, he had planned it out meticulously. Every cell was covered with spells that prohibited magical travel of all sorts, strengthened the walls and door to the point that a giant wouldn’t be able to scratch them, rendered extension charms inert and repelled anyone not keyed with blood into the main rune of the prison - which was not even near the cells - from stepping over the threshold no matter their form.

    And then he had added redundancies. Seven such layers covered each cell, connected with detection charms. As soon as even one protection was dispelled, the guards would be informed. No one, not even Albus, would be able to deal with the rest of the spells in the time until their arrival. And the guards had multiple ways to stop any escape attempt cold in the cell.

    However, even the best defence wasn’t perfect. Even a tightly-woven layer of spells could be unravelled if you knew how. And after decades of studying the spells - the only magic he could study in his cell, which provided a very effective focus - he knew every single flaw of the defences. And how to exploit them. How to fool the Detection Charms. How to use the Law of Similarity to turn the redundancies into weaknesses by disabling all spells that protected the door at once. And how to reverse the seal that connected the threshold to the main rune.

    It took a dozen spells to get through the door. It took just half that number to subdue the guards. And, after he had picked up their wands, just one spell to blow open the gates and leave the prison.

    After decades, Gellert Grindelwald was free again. And this time, he would make Albus proud!

    *****​

    No 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, Britain, July 15th, 1997

    Grindelwald Escapes Prison! Dark Lord At Large! Who Can Stop Him?

    Harry Potter threw the Daily Prophet to the floor, startling Hedwig, who barked and glared at him balefully for waking her up. “Sorry,” he said, with a sigh, “it’s not your fault. It’s just…” He sat down on his bed and closed his eyes. Dumbledore was dead. Murdered by Snape and Draco Malfoy. Voldemort would be making his move soon. And now, as if things weren’t bad enough, Dumbledore’s old enemy, Grindelwald, had escaped from Prison!

    “Probably just waited until Dumbledore died so no one could stop him,” Harry muttered. He picked up the newspaper again and continued reading the article. It wasn’t as if he had anything better to do since he had to stay in Privet Drive to recharge the blood wards. The protection on the house would fall on his birthday, according to Dumbledore, but every hour he spent inside them would strengthen his personal protection, which would outlast the wards.

    And with Voldemort out for his blood and Dumbledore dead, Harry needed all the help he could get.

    In response to this shocking news, the Duc d’Orléans has ordered the Ducal Guard to mobilise, to protect Magical France from foreign aggression - no matter its origin, as his spokeswitch told our correspondent. When asked whether or not the Duc suspected that Grindelwald had had help from elements loyal to him in Magical Prussia, she had the following to say:

    “While we are not accusing anyone at this time, it is no secret that Magical Prussia is rife with wizards and witches who have never stopped supporting Grindelwald - including influential members of Chancellor Steiner’s government.”

    Chancellor Steiner responded with the following statement:

    “The government of Magical Prussia had no part in Grindelwald’s escape. The muggleborn members of my cabinet have my full trust. Magical Prussia’s Feldjäger are doing what they can to arrest Grindelwald as we speak, but should any country try to use this as a pretext for invasion, we will defend our country with all our might.”

    The International Confederation of Wizards declined to comment, citing the need to gather more information first. Unofficially, though, usually well-informed sources claim that the ICW is more concerned with choosing a successor for the late Albus Dumbledore than with dealing with the wizard who brought Magical Europe to its knees in the past.

    Harry closed his eyes. This felt like Fudge all over again. The damage that idiot had done because he had been more concerned with his personal power and status than with the threat of a Dark Lord! Harry clenched his teeth. Why couldn’t those idiots have a little common sense? Instead of accusing each other, France and Prussia should be working together to stop Grindelwald before he started another war!

    He shook his head and dropped the newspaper on his desk. For all the serious implications of the escape, Harry had other problems to worry about. Namely, how he would escape Privet Drive before the wards fell and the Death Eaters stormed the place. The stupid Ministry had placed wards over the entire street that prevented all forms of magical travel - supposedly to keep him safe. He could try to sneak out of the house under his Cloak of Invisibility, of course, but if Voldemort was nearby and could sense him through his scar… Apparently, Dumbledore had had a plan, or so Remus had told him during the man’s latest shift as his guard, but no one in the Order had told him anything more than that.

    He clenched his teeth again and lay down on his bed. At least Ron and Hermione would visit soon. And the Order wasn’t aware of their plans.

    *****​

    Near Marienburg, Poland, July 15th, 1997

    The house hadn’t changed at all in the decades since Gellert Grindelwald had last visited. The same thatched roof, sturdy brick walls, and red shutters. The same wards, even - but then, Hans had never been a good Curse-Breaker. His talents lay elsewhere. But the important thing was that the house was inhabited.

    Gellert smiled and flicked his borrowed wand, sending a weak incendiary curse at the house. The wards flared as the curse harmlessly dissipated at the wardline. A few seconds later, the door was pushed open, and a robed man appeared, leading with his wand. “Verdammte Scheisse! Who dares…” His eyes widened.

    Gellert waved at him. There was his most faithful follower and closest friend. Well, among the ones still alive, anyway. A few decades older, slightly thicker around the middle, but still sharp and quick, from what he could see. “Hans.”

    Hans Balzer gaped, his lips moving without a sound escaping his mouth for a few seconds. “M-Meister Grindelwald!”

    “In the flesh,” Gellert said. “May I come in?”

    “Of course!” Hans flicked his wand, and the wards briefly flared again.

    Gellert stepped forward, feeling the tickling sensation as he passed through the wardline.

    Hans snapped his heels together and raised his wand in salute. “Meister!”

    Gellert raised his hand. “It’s good to see you. But aren’t you concerned that I might be an impostor?”

    Hans shook his head. “I know you too well, Meister! And who else but you would know about my home? You’re the first visitor since… you know.”

    Gellert inclined his head. “Indeed. But you seem surprised to see me. I would have thought news of my escape would have spread, at least in Prussia.” It had been decades, but he couldn’t have been forgotten already, could he? If his old followers didn’t know about his return, gathering them would be more difficult than he had anticipated.

    “Forgive me, Meister, but I don’t follow the news much… the way those vultures defamed you…” He shook his head. “I buy a Kurier when I visit a Biergarten, but I don’t do that very often. But… how did you escape?”

    Gellert smiled. “I built the prison - no one knows it better. But the real question you need to ask is: Why did I escape? And why did I come to you?”

    Hans blinked, then gasped. “You’re raising your banner again! We’ll finish what we started so many decades ago! We’ll conquer Magical Europe!” His scarred face twisted into a beaming smile as he swished his wand and summoned a chest. “I still have my old robes, of course! I would never part with them!” he said as he pulled out the leather coat of an officer in the Storm Wizards. “Finally, after so long, revenge will be ours!”

    Gellert coughed. “Well… in a manner of speaking. Let me explain...”

    *****​

    Chorin, Kreis Barnim, Brandenburg, Germany, July 16th, 1997

    Unlike Hans’s home, Katrina’s home certainly had changed, Gellert Grindelwald thought as he stared at the large house that had replaced the farm where the witch had been born. It looked very modern - in his opinion; not that he was aware of what was currently considered modern architecture. A few decades in prison will do that to a man.

    But no matter, he wasn’t there to look at buildings, but to recruit Katrina Kebel. While Hans had formed and trained his armies, Katrina had led them. After the deaths of Ulrich Meier, Rudolf Beckmann, and Gabriella Galinski, anyway. But she had done well all the same.

    He glanced to his side. Hans had his wand out and was far too tense. “Relax, Hans. We’re not about to fight.”

    “I’m your bodyguard, Meister.” Hans straightened, as he usually did when he protested an order without actually saying so.

    “And we’re visiting a friend. If I cannot trust Katrina, then our plan is doomed from the start.” He nodded at Hans and strode forward. He didn’t send a spell against the wards on the house - Katrina tended to prepare her positions thoroughly, and he doubted that her home was an exception. Instead, he cast an Amplifying Charm. “Katrina!” His voice rang over the courtyard.

    When a marker appeared floating on the field to his left, he turned towards it. Hans would guard his back. “Katrina?”

    The air shimmered, and his old friend appeared. She was wearing her old coat - and she hadn’t gained some weight; if anything, she had grown leaner, even if her hair was more silver than blonde. And she was staring at him with narrowed eyes, her wand aimed straight at his head. She was properly suspicious, as he had expected.

    “It’s me,” he said. “You’ve probably heard of my escape. And you certainly know Hans.” It wouldn’t be out of the question that some found a hair or two of him in his old cell. But Hans? That was very unlikely.

    “What did you tell me when you promoted me to lead your army?” she asked.

    He winced. “Officially, or unofficially?”

    She started to grin, but her wand didn’t move. “The truth, of course.”

    He sighed. “I said ‘Gottverdammte Scheisse! Katrina, Du bist dran!’” The official war diary entry, of course, wasn’t quite as profane and called it ‘Kebel taking over’.

    She beamed at him and saluted. “Meister Grindelwald! Katrina Kebel, reporting for duty!”

    He returned her salute with a smile. “I’m happy to see you in good health. As you can imagine, I haven’t broken out of Nurmengard just to do some sightseeing - I have a plan.”

    Her eyes lit up. “I knew it as soon as I heard of your escape, Meister!”

    He nodded. “But we need a few more wands.” Not that many, he thought - from what Albus had told him during his last visit, those ‘Death Eaters’ weren’t exactly the most skilled fighters. Ambushing a few children with double their number, yet failing to capture any of them? Pathetic!

    Katrina’s smile widened. “I have anticipated your need, Meister!” She took a deep breath, straining her coat in that familiar way, and Gellert suppressed a wince, suspecting what would be coming. “Kampfgruppe Kebel! Auf einem Glied, Sammlung!” she screamed, louder than many Amplifying Charms.

    And a dozen, no, two dozen wizards and witches wearing the leather coats of his Storm Wizards poured out of the house, snapping to attention in a line in front of Katrina. The witch turned towards him. “Kampfgruppe Kebel, reporting for duty!”

    “Very good, Katrina,” he replied, eyeing the group. They were younger than he had expected - some barely out of school. Others in their thirties and forties. “You’ve been recruiting.”

    “Yes,” she said. “The government pretends otherwise, but your support among the Prussians never faded! This is but one of our cells! We’ve got people in the government, even, poised to strike at your command! Say the word, and Prussia is yours!”

    “And then France will pay!” Hans said, before coughing. “I’m sorry, Meister. Reflex.”

    Gellert forced himself to keep smiling. Katrina meant well. But it was quite clear to him that he had escaped just in time to prevent her from repeating his mistake. But he couldn’t tell her that, not after such a display of loyalty. “That’s very impressive, Katrina, but we have a more important mission to accomplish first.”

    “Meister?” She looked slightly confused.

    “You’ve heard of the events in England, I assume. That ‘Dark Lord’ threatening to murder all muggleborns?”

    She gasped. “Of course! I understand - we need to stop that maniac!”

    He smiled. She got it. She, too, had changed in the last few decades. She knew that saving lives took priority over politics - politics in which he had no wish to get involved anyway any more.

    Katrina nodded with an eager expression. “Between your old foe’s death and this Dark Lord, Britain is weak - ripe for the taking! And if we squash those blood purists, not only will we have another country as a base, but muggleborns all over Europe will flock to your banner! Oh, it’s a plan worthy of you, Meister!”

    Gellert’s smile froze as two dozen wizards and witches cheered.

    Well, he could always clear this little misunderstanding up once they were in Britain. Prussia’s government should be happy, too, if he took the most militant muggleborns out of the country for a while. That would keep them out of trouble at the least.

    *****​

    No 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, Britain, July 18th, 1997

    “Your friends have arrived.”

    “Thank you, Aunt Petunia.” Harry Potter didn’t bother looking at his aunt as he stepped past her into the hallway. The Dursleys didn’t like him, and he didn’t like them, but they had settled for some sort of mutual tolerance. Of sorts. Knowing that their survival depended on the Order protecting and transporting them to a safe house was probably their main motivation, but Harry didn’t really care. He’d leave this house forever in less than two weeks, and good riddance!

    “Harry!”

    “Mate!”

    Hermione hugged him, hard, and Ron slapped him on the shoulder.

    “Let’s go to my room,” he told them. “How did you arrive?”

    “Took the muggle bus and walked the rest of the way disillusioned,” Hermione said.

    “I still think you should risk it and leave that way,” Ron said, as soon as the door closed. “Voldemort can’t be waiting around here all day.” He and Hermione sat down on the bed, leaving the chair at his desk for Harry.

    Harry shrugged. “I would take the chance, but Dumbledore had a plan, or so I’ve been told.”

    Hermione sniffed. “And he hasn’t even told you?”

    He shook his head. “He was barely able to stand at the end; he probably had too much else to do.”

    “Well, it better be a good plan,” she said. “The longer we wait, the more difficult it’ll be - the Death Eaters will be able to concentrate their forces as our window of opportunity shrinks.”

    Harry suppressed a huff. That was a rather clinical way to talk about a threat to his life - but she didn’t mean it like that, he knew. “I’ll always have my plan B,” he said.

    “Oh?”

    He grinned. “Grab my Cloak, grab my Firebolt, and run for it.” He had outflown a dragon, once.

    “Voldemort will be prepared for that,” Hermione said. “He knows what you did in the Tournament.”

    “I know. It’s still a decent alternative.” At least he wouldn’t die cowering in the house.

    She nodded and glanced at Ron, who cleared his throat, but didn’t say anything. Harry frowned but didn’t call him out on it. They had more important things to worry about.

    He cleared his throat. “So, the Horcruxes…”

    “Yes.” Hermione straightened. “We know he planned to make six Horcruxes. We have to assume that he achieved that. Two of them, the diary and the ring, were destroyed. One was stolen by a wizard named ‘R.A.B.’ - a Death Eater, as far as we know.”

    “Good luck tracking them down,” Ron said. “Many of them were never known.”

    She huffed. “We’ll have to keep a positive outlook. We’ll research that later. We know Voldemort was obsessed with the relics of the founders - Slytherin’s Locket, Hufflepuff’s Cup, something from Ravenclaw.”

    “And his snake,” Harry said. He hadn’t spent so many weekends trying to see through Voldemort’s eyes and then pouring his memories into Dumbledore’s Pensieve for analysis for nothing. “Dumbledore identified it as a Horcrux.” After checking with Hagrid if the half-giant had done some cross-breeding experiments with snakes.

    “I was getting to that,” Hermione said. “The snake isn’t much of a problem since it rarely seems to leave Voldemort’s side. So, if we have taken care of the other Horcruxes, we can destroy the snake when we make our attack on Voldemort.”

    His friend was rather blasé about attacking the worst Dark Lord Britain had ever seen, Harry thought. “So, what do we know about the relics’ locations?” he asked.

    Hermione winced. “Not very much. But,” she said, perking up, “I’ve been preparing for our trip. I secured a wizarding tent and enough supplies to last a decade! Food, water, books! We’ll be able to keep up with our studies for our N.E.W.T.s while we’re on our hunt!”

    Harry exchanged a glance with Ron. Maybe returning to Hogwarts wasn’t such a bad idea?

    *****​

    Hogwarts, July 23rd, 1997

    “Meister…”

    Gellert Grindelwald raised his hand, cutting off his friend. “I know, Hans. But this is something I have to do alone.”

    “But the defences… this is Hogwarts. The heart of Wizarding Britain. There will be guards - many guards.”

    “I know,” he repeated himself, looking ahead, at the white marble mausoleum. “But this is a personal matter.” He certainly couldn’t properly pay Albus’s grave his respects by having half a dozen Storm Wizards secure the site. That simply wasn’t done. “Trust me, I know what I am doing.”

    Hans nodded, if a little reluctantly, then turned to the Storm Wizards with them. “Alright, you lot! Fan out and secure this area - this is our rally spot. And be ready to attack as soon as I give the command!” He turned around again. “We’ll be at your side the very moment the slightest threat appears, Meister!”

    “Thank you, Hans.” That was probably the best he could expect, Gellert knew. He still sighed as he left the forest they had set up in.

    A few minutes later, he was standing inside the grave. There, in that marble sarcophagus, rested Albus Dumbledore. His greatest rival. His only love. His worst enemy as well. But above all, his best friend.

    He folded his hands as he stood there. “Albus. I wish we wouldn’t have to meet like this. I wish you were still alive, and I still in my cell. But what did you always say? If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. We have to make the best out of the cards we are dealt. Or something like that. I’ve come to continue your work, Albus. Fight your enemies, protect your friends - and the innocents. Just as you wanted, I know. I love you.” He wiped the tears from his eyes, remembering the good times with Albus. Their plans, their passion. Until that fateful… no, he didn’t want to remember that duel. “I’ll make you proud, I promise!”

    Taking a deep, shuddering breath, he turned to leave, then stopped. Albus had defeated him and taken the Elder Wand from him. But had he lost it? It would make sense - who wouldn’t take the wand? On the other hand, as far as he knew, Albus had been assassinated - struck down by a traitor in a cowardly attack. But the murderer had been forced to flee the site of the crime right after the deed. Maybe…

    He cleared his throat and cast a Supersensory Charm, then pointed his wand at the sarcophagus. “Accio Elder Wand!”

    He heard the sound of something hitting the lid of the Sarcophagus - on the inside - and his eyes widened. The Elder Wand had been buried with Albus! It wasn’t lost to the enemy, but here, waiting for him to recover it!

    He pointed his wand at the Sarcophagus. Albus would understand - hell, Albus had probably anticipated this! He had known Gellert better than Gellert himself, after all, as their duel had proven!

    And Albus certainly would want the Elder Wand to be used for good!

    *****​

    Diagon Alley, London, July 24th, 1997

    Gellert Grindelwald shook his head as he read this ‘Daily Prophet’. He had had his doubts when Albus had told him about this newspaper, and its questionable relationship with the truth - his friend had had a tendency to prefer an amusing anecdote to a true story - but his reading of today’s issue left no doubt. This newspaper was full of fantasies and lies.

    He never called himself a ‘Dark Lord’! And he certainly didn’t plan to ally himself with this ‘Voldemort’! Quite the contrary - he had always championed the muggleborn cause! All wizards were equal, after all, especially when compared to the poor muggles. But as Albus had taught him, the muggles were doing fine without magical oversight. He didn’t quite get why they were still waging war if they were doing fine, but Albus had assured him that the alternative was worse, so it was OK.

    And then these stories about Prussia and France being on the brink of war! He had taken his followers - the most eager, at least - with him to England, and he certainly hadn’t taken over Magical Prussia. If they truly feared him, then those two countries would ally with each other! Really, just because a few students - they certainly weren’t Storm Wizards! - were raising his banner as a lark in the Alte Strasse in Berlin! Some journalists would invent anything to sell their articles!

    He dropped the newspaper on the table and took another sip of his tea, savouring the taste. He hadn’t had decent tea in decades. Setting the cup down, he looked around. No sign of his quarry. But the two very conspicuously-inconspicuous wizards in the corner… Hans meant well, but just because Gellert had been defeated by the greatest wizard of his time in one duel didn’t mean that he needed an escort for every little mission! Especially since he had a perfect disguise thanks to a fake beard and dyed hair!

    Just as he was debating whether or not he should walk over to them and send them off, the witch he had been waiting for entered the café: Dolores Umbridge, a well-connected but not particularly skilled Ministry employee, according to Gellert’s information. Which came directly from Albus, and therefore was of the utmost accuracy. Thanks to Albus’s stories about the time that witch had taken over Hogwarts, Gellert knew everything he needed to know about Umbridge. Not that he needed to know anything other than that she knew where Harry Potter lived, and that no one would miss her. Albus had said so himself, during his last visit, when he had told Gellert how the witch had left Hogwarts.

    He grinned as he stood. He loved it when missions were simple and righteous!

    *****​

    No 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, Britain, July 25th, 1997

    Death Eater attack in Diagon Alley! Dolores Umbridge hospitalised!

    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving witch, Harry Potter thought as he read the article in today’s Daily Prophet. “Found obliviated in a side alley… traces of the Imperius Curse… Could barely remember her name, and didn’t know which year it was...”

    He shook his head. That didn’t sound like a Death Eater attack; those were usually either more brutal or less obvious. And why would a Death Eater attack Umbridge? Unless they thought that she was showing them up with her bigotry.

    Well, if that witch spent the rest of her life in St Mungo’s Janus Thickey Ward, he’d be happy. She certainly deserved it.

    The rest of the articles weren’t as uplifting, though. More Death Eater attacks, Ministry propaganda, and the international news… Apparently, Grindelwald was launching a coup in Magical Prussia. People rioting in the Alte Strasse, Berlin’s magical quarter. And the ICW was ‘concerned’.

    He dropped the newspaper, refilled Hedwig’s feeding bowl with a few more owl treats, and then went downstairs to the kitchen to check if the Dursleys had left him anything in the fridge when they left for their safe house.

    He was surprised that the fridge was actually half-full - Aunt Petunia probably hadn’t been able to use the remaining food to make sandwiches for Uncle Vernon and Dudley before the family had left to go into hiding. But Harry wouldn’t starve until the end of the month. At which point he would either be in The Burrow or dead.

    He was about to open one of the yoghurts meant for Dudley’s diet when he heard the doorbell. Narrowing his eyes, he drew his wand - he wasn’t expecting anyone. He stepped into the living room and peered through the gap between the curtains. An old man was standing in front of the door, frowning at the bell before ringing it again. He was wearing a black leather coat - quite unusual for the weather - and had short white hair as well as a well-groomed short beard.

    Harry hesitated. The wards were still up, so this couldn’t be a Death Eater. But he wasn’t from the neighbourhood. And he didn’t look like an acquaintance of his relatives. On the other hand, the Order guard hadn’t intervened.

    “Mr Potter? Are you at home?”

    So, the man was here for him. Harry took a deep breath and walked the few steps to the door, keeping his wand at his side, pointed at the floor. If the man tried anything, he’d get a faceful of curses.

    He opened the door with his left hand, just a gap. “Yes?”

    The old man beamed at him. “You are here! Great! I was afraid I had missed you.” He suddenly frowned. “I mean, you are Mr Potter, right? Harry Potter?”

    “Yes?”

    “Perfect! I’m Grindelwald. Gellert Grindelwald. I’ve come here for you.”

    What? Grindelwald? Here? Harry froze for a moment.

    “Albus told me so much about you!”

    What? Harry froze again.

    “Well, he told me more about you than he told me about his other students. To be frank, he mostly told me about your troubles with Voldemort. But that’s why I’m here! Since he’ll come after you, that’ll be the best opportunity to kill him!”

    “You’re here to kill Voldemort?” Harry blinked and resisted the urge to check if his ears were working. Maybe Grindelwald considered Voldemort his rival?

    “Well, I’m here to avenge Albus and save Britain from Voldemort. Killing this ‘Dark Lord’ and all of his followers and supporters seems to be the obvious course of action.” Grindelwald leaned forward. “By the way, may I come in? My men get a little nervous when I’m out in the open for too long.”

    “Your men?”

    “Old friends. And a few new friends. Veteran Storm Wizards, mostly. Did you know that there was a wizard spying on you? We’ve captured him.”

    “A spy?” Had they captured a Death Eater? Harry blinked. “Ah… the spy wouldn’t be a tall black wizard, by chance?”

    “Why yes. Do you know him? Have you fought him before? Was he involved in Albus’s murder, by chance?” The last question sounded more eager than Hermione talking about exploring the Black library.

    They had stunned Kingsley Shacklebolt. Harry cleared his throat. “I think you took out my bodyguard. One of Dumbledore’s friends.”

    “Oh.” Grindelwald grimaced. “That’s a little embarrassing!”

    Harry nodded.

    *****​

    Potter was a nice kid. Polite, friendly, calm - although he did make a bit of a fuss about that completely understandable mistake Gellert Grindelwald and his men had made. A grown wizard, hiding in the bushes outside Potter’s house, instead of staying inside? Who wouldn’t have thought that he was a spy?

    Potter’s house was nice, too - for a muggle home. Luxurious, even - water closet, central heating, television, electrical stove and ice box - of course, the Boy-Who-Lived would be of the upper class.

    “He’s not hurt, just stunned,” Hans said, pointing his wand at the wizard on the couch. “Nothing to it.”

    Potter seemed to disagree. “But you attacked him. That’ll be trouble. It’s going to be hard enough to explain your presence without having to explain that you stunned an Order member.”

    Ah! Gellert nodded. “That is true.” Albus’s followers would be a little jumpy, after losing their leader. And wounded pride made for difficult allies. “But it’s easily solved.”

    Potter looked at him. “How so?”

    Gellert smiled. “Like this.” He pointed his wand at the stunned wizard. “Obliviate!”

    “No!” Potter yelled.

    “What?” Gellert frowned. “He won’t remember getting stunned. Problem solved!”

    “But he’ll wonder how he ended up on my couch! Or unconscious in the bushes, if you plan to dump him outside!” The kid was shaking his head and working himself into a frenzy.

    Gellert smiled at him. That usually calmed down people. Unless they were prisoners - then they usually started to shake for some reason. Like that Umbridge witch. “That’s what the False-Memory Charm is for. He’ll remember letting us enter since we’re no danger to you or him.” He beamed at Potter, but the kid was still gaping at him.

    “Meister, perhaps we should have him remember allying with us? Wouldn’t that greatly facilitate our mission?” Hans asked.

    “What a wonderful suggestion!” Gellert smiled widely.

    “No, you can’t do that!” Potter exclaimed. “They’ll notice. And… Kingsley is not the leader of the Order. He couldn’t make that decision anyway!”

    “Oh. So, we’ll settle for him letting us enter since we don’t pose a threat.”

    It took a few more casts than Gellert had expected, and the guard - Shacklebolt - looked a little confused at the end, but after half a dozen tries he had stopped trying to curse them on sight. He also didn’t remember them any more, but that couldn’t be helped. Human brains, even wizard brains, didn’t handle so many Memory Charms that well, and Gellert was still adjusting to using the Elder Wand again, after decades, so he tended to overpower his spells. That wouldn't matter with most combat spells, but for memory modification... Fortunately, he had noticed that when obliviating Umbridge, and not when doing this to someone who had a use for their brain.

    Gellert still hoped that they didn’t have to do this with all of the Order members. That would be tedious.

    ******​

    No 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, Britain, July 26th, 1997

    When he heard the doorbell ring, Harry Potter closed his eyes. This was it. If he blew this, spells and curses would fly. And a number of Order members, not to mention his two best friends, would probably lose a few brain cells from an overdose of memory charms.

    He checked the door before opening. There was a crowd outside. Ron, Hermione, the twins, Fleur, Bill, Tonks, Remus, Mr Weasley, Mad-Eye, Hagrid and Fletcher. And Shacklebolt, who still looked a little confused. He took a deep breath and opened the door.

    “Hello.”

    “Harry!” Hermione hugged him again as the others greeted him.

    Harry cleared his throat. “Before you enter, there’s something important I need to tell you. A few important things.”

    “Can’t we do that inside?” Bill asked.

    “There’s someone inside,” Mad-Eye growled. “Wizard. Old one.”

    “Yes, I have a visitor. He’s an old friend of Dumbledore, and he has come to help me, us, fight Voldemort,” Harry said.

    “‘An old friend of Dumbledore’s?’ Now that Albus can’t confirm it? A likely story!” Moody sneered. Harry saw that the others were drawing their wands.

    “Are you being threatened?” Hermione whispered.

    “Is he under the Imperius Curse?” Fleur asked.

    “Harry is immune to the Imperius Curse!” Ron retorted.

    “I’m OK, I’m not under any spell,” Harry was quick to say. “And he is an old friend of Dumbledore. A foreigner.” He held his hands up. “Look, all I’m asking is that you don’t curse him, but let him talk. The wards didn’t stop him, so he’s not working for Voldemort.”

    His friends exchanged glances. Looks. Frowns. They took entirely too long for Harry’s taste, but they ended up agreeing.

    “Alright, come in. He’s in the living room.”

    He led them inside, hoping for the best. “Everyone, this is Gellert Grindelwald.”

    “Bloody Hell!” “Get away from him, Harry!” “Merlin’s Arse!” “Merlin’s Beard!” “Putain!” “Fleur!” “Get down, Harry!” “No!” “Children, get behind me!” “Don’t move!” “Harry?” “Buggering hell!” “Huh?”

    Harry winced, both from the ringing in his ears - Hermione had very strong lungs - and the fact that he found eleven wands pointed not quite at him, but close enough so that he was very likely to get hit should they start casting. But he was certain that a fight would break out if he moved.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, don’t worry,” he heard Grindelwald speak up behind him in a very chipper tone for someone staring down eleven wands. No, twelve wands; Shacklebolt had finally drawn his as well, though to Harry’s considerable concern, the Auror seemed slightly confused whether he should be aiming it at Harry or Grindelwald.

    All that didn’t seem to faze Grindelwald. “I’m here to help!” he went on, as if he were telling them that they had won the lottery. “Trust me, if I wished you harm, my Storm Wizards would have ambushed you outside!”

    That caused another commotion that nearly deafened Harry. But at least no spells were flying, and Hermione had stopped trying to tear his arm out of its socket in her attempts to drag him to the questionable safety of the hallway.

    *****​

    Gellert Grindelwald wondered - privately, of course - how Albus had restrained from using the Torture Curse on his followers if this was typical for their missions. It wasn’t as if this was a difficult decision - he was here to help them, and help them he would. If he had been here to hurt them, he would have done so already. He had double their number in Storm Wizards waiting nearby, after all!

    At least that had convinced the scarred Auror, but the rest… They had lost an hour just discussing and debating what should have been an obvious, easy decision! At least that was over with, and they could now proceed with Albus’s plan. Or they would, as soon as this very shady wizard finally got around to tell them about the plan, instead of assuring them that it was Albus’s plan.

    “So, we need some hair from Potter, for the Polyjuice Potion. Albus had it all planned out.”

    “Clever!” Gellert nodded, interrupting the wizard. It was a bit rude, but the man’s voice grated on his nerves, and he had understood the plan already. “We use a double of Harry Potter as a decoy, and then we ambush and massacre the Death Eaters when they attack the double!”

    It was a fine plan indeed - he was glad to see that Albus hadn’t lost his touch. The assembled members of Albus’s Order were staring at him, but they had done that the whole evening, so he was used to it. “But where is the prisoner we will imperius and use as a decoy?” Had they brought a portable dungeon and he had missed it? Did muggle houses have dungeons these days?

    “We don’t have a prisoner,” the scarred Auror said.

    Gellert blinked. “You don’t take prisoners?” Albus had certainly grown more radical in his old age, he thought, but then, if the Death Eaters were all magically protected from interrogation, it would make no sense to take them prisoners only to kill them afterwards without having anything to show for all the effort.

    “No. We currently do not have a prisoner,” the other Auror said. He sounded quite defensively - maybe he had had an interrogation go wrong? Such things happened.

    “I see.” Gellert nodded. “Do we have time to procure one? It doesn’t have to be a Death Eater, any other criminal will do.” If the decoy survived, they could pardon them for their crimes. That had worked very well for Gellert, in his day.

    Everyone turned towards the wizard who had relayed Albus’s plan.

    Gellert smiled. “A volunteer? Excellent!” Now he understood why Albus had chosen such an annoying man as his messenger. His old love always had had a knack for hitting two targets with a single curse. A criminal risking his life for the Greater Good in an attempt to find redemption for his crimes was something Albus would have loved!

    “Now wait a minute, governor…”

    Sometimes, a volunteer’s nerves had to be steadied, though. Gellert’s wand flicked, and the man - Fletcher or something - stopped talking. It was for the best, really - the man would be remembered as a hero, and Gellert wouldn’t be tempted to do something about his annoying voice and disgusting smell any more.

    *****​

    It was weird, seeing someone look like himself. Harry Potter couldn’t help staring at Fletcher. Did he really look like that? Well, without the slight drooling.

    “You’re now an honorary twin, Harry,” George - or Fred - said, clapping him on the shoulder.

    “Temporarily, though,” his brother added.

    “Cut the chatter!” Mad-Eye’s voice cut Harry’s protest off. “Everyone knows the plan? We fly with Fletcher until the Death Eaters attack. Then we split up, and Fletcher leads them into the ambush Grindelwald’s men have prepared while we disperse and meet back at The Burrow. Apparate as soon as you have left the area!”

    Leaving the fighting to Grindelwald and his followers seemed unfair to Harry - they were here to help him, after all - but Mad-Eye had said that since the Order and the Storm Wizards weren’t trained to fight at each other’s side, they’d end up killing each other by mistake - especially at night. That made sense - although Harry couldn’t help thinking that Mady-Eye didn’t want to get such training done.

    It didn’t matter, though - Grindelwald had agreed to the plan.

    “Everyone, mount up!” Mad-Eye commanded. “Potter, stick with me!”

    Harry, wearing unfamiliar robes with a hood, straddled his Firebolt - decoy or not, Fletcher wouldn’t get his greedy fingers on that broom! - and looked at Mad-Eye.

    “Go!”

    Harry kicked off and rose in the air. He didn’t spare a glance back at what others would call his childhood home; he was heartily sick of it. Instead, he focused on Mad-Eye, easily catching up to the old Auror and flying at his side. Like a wingman.

    They had barely left the garden behind the house when Harry’s scar started to hurt - Voldemort was near! “He’s here!” he yelled. “He’s coming!” He turned to fly away when he suddenly realised a flaw in the plan.

    Voldemort wouldn’t chase the decoy. The Dark Lord could sense him!

    Cursing his own stupidity, Harry threw his hood back and gripped his broom’s shaft with both hands. The ambush was waiting at the end of the street. Five hundred yards. He could do it.

    Then he pushed his broom and dived towards the street, easily overtaking Fletcher, as the Order and his friends split.

    “Potter!” he heard someone - Mad-Eye - scream, but he was already too far away to answer.

    Dark-robed wizards rose on brooms from two houses down the street. He rolled and flew even closer to the ground, his boots almost touching the asphalt. Curses flew by. His scar still hurt. He glanced over his shoulder, and his eyes widened. Voldemort was flying without a broom. And gaining!

    But speed wasn’t everything! Harry leaned forward until he was practically lying on the broom and steered left, taking a hard turn into Mrs Figg’s garden, then took a right, passing her house.

    A glance told him that Voldemort had fallen back a little, trying to keep up. Harry took another turn, back to the street. The Dark Lord was leading a dozen of his Death Eaters, all chasing him. Harry couldn’t see Fletcher at all.

    But there was the end of the street coming up. Just another hundred yards. He started weaving as curses shot past him, blowing up parts of the street. Fifty yards. He rolled, and a green curse missed him by inches. Then he shot over the crossing, pulled up, over the house there, then back down behind it.

    And behind him, the night sky lit up as two dozen curses flew towards the Death Eaters pursuing Harry. He heard screams, panicked screams, and grinned fiercely even as he urged the Firebolt on. Another street, and then he’d be outside the Anti-Apparition Wards.

    And his scar didn’t hurt any more.

    He passed the next crossing, drew his wand, and apparated.

    *****​
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  2. Darth.

    Darth. I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I LOVE YOU!!! WAKANDA PRUSSIA FOREVER!!

    Marienburg as part of Poland with Prussia still around? Heresy! I don't love you as much now :p

    Wait what? How is Brandenburg a part of Germany with a Prussia still around? Did the Habsburgs unite the German States instead of the Hohenzollerns? No but then Brandenburg would still be part of Berlin unless the Habsburgs conquered it from the Hohenzollerns....Did the Teutonic Knights form Prussia? So many questions....I would love background on this in the future.



    How I accidentally conquered Europe
    by Gellert Grindelwald

    How to introduce yourself as a notorious criminal
    by Gellert Grindelwald

    Mind Control: Tedious but Rewarding
    by Gellert Grindelwald

    How I halped Magical Britain!
    by Gellert Grindelwald

    Diplomacy 101
    by Gellert Grindelwald

    I am just awesome
    by Barney Stinson Gellert Grindelwald

    Cost Efficiency is important!
    by Gellert Grindelwald

    It's how you do it that counts!
    by Harry James Potter
     
  3. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    I use the muggle borders for locations that aren't entirely magical. Nurmengard doesn't appear on any muggle map - Marienburg does, though.

    Magical Prussia, though, doesn't care about what muggles think about borders - its territory doesn't conform to muggle countries. So, the same location would be in Magical Prussia and in Poland, Germany or even Russia - depending on whether an area that wasn't Prussian in 1692 became part of Magical Prussia afterwards.

    Magical Germany isn't united, but pretty much dominated by Magical Prussia (the alternatives would be a French hegemony, and no one wants that in Germany). The next biggest Magical country would be Bavaria.

    Those are great!
     
  4. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    Gods this story is great. Thank you. I love your Gellert.
     
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  5. alethiophile

    alethiophile Shadowed Philosopher Administrator

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    This is hilarious.

    Grindelwald being chipper and not quite understanding why everyone reacts to him so badly is great. And now I'm having hilarious visions of how the first war went...
     
  6. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    He was younger and might have been less crazy, then.
     
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  7. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    I can't wait to see the decrepit old man loudly reminiscing about the first time he saw "that sexy young man Albus, after he'd graduated Durmstrang and went to go visit his great aunt Bathilda Bagshot. Buns of pure steel that Albus had, buns of pure steel. Could crack walnut on them, why he remembers that one time they did that very thing in Fleamonts parents winter cottage. Oh Harry, Albus told me that room eventually became your nursery. Very sad what happened there. But oh the happy happy memories that were made in that room a hundred years ago."

    Happily chatting as he walks on, leaving all the kids behind him in frozen horror as they're unwillingly picturing it.
     
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  8. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Thanks! I'm glad you like it.

    He's a little out of touch.

    Oh, yes - Grindelwald's war was a very bloody affair.

    "Fleamont? My grandfather was named Fleamont?"
     
  9. Threadmarks: Chapter 2: Allies
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 2: Allies

    No 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, Britain, July 26th, 1997

    Gellert Grindelwald frowned when he saw the boy on the broom close in on the ambush site. That was Potter, and he shouldn’t have been there - he should have been safe. He sighed. Albus had told him about the boy’s recklessness - although he had called it bravery and heroism; Gellert should have anticipated this.

    Nevertheless, it didn’t really change the plan. The ambush could go as planned. The decoy would probably run a greater risk of getting hit in the crossfire - but he was expendable anyway. It took a lot for Albus to pick someone for such a dangerous role, after all.

    Potter passed overhead, and Gellert rose. “Storm Wizards!” he shouted, raising his wand and aiming it at the closest pursuer, before letting loose with a Cutting Curse. “Feuer!”

    Two dozen curses flew towards the approaching Death Eaters just as they were pulling up, surprised by his yell and curse, presenting easier targets. One Death Eater was neatly bisected, his upper half falling off while the lower half flew on with his broom until it crashed into a tree. Another disappeared in a cloud of blood, bone and meat fragments - Hans still loved that Blasting Curse. And one Death Eater burst into flames, screaming as he corkscrewed through the night sky as if he were a meteor, before slamming into the crossing.

    But Gellert’s own curse missed its target. Voldemort, who looked more snake than human, as Potter had told him - who would do that to himself? Gellert had seen Inferi which looked more attractive - was far quicker to react than his followers and had already been taking evasive action as Gellert had started to cast.

    Not bound by a broom’s limitations, the Dark Lord wheeled away, and Gellert’s Cutting Curse went wide. He sent a few more Curses after Voldemort, mixing dark and other curses - it was as good an opportunity to exercise his slightly rusty skills as any - and kept his enemy on the defensive, although the distance was too long to come even close to hitting the monstrous wizard. He was tempted to fill the air around his enemy with shrapnel by blowing up the street below, but that would cause too much ‘collateral damage’. And not the kind you could undo with a few Mending Charms. Of course, sometimes, you had to break a few eggs to make an omelette, even Albus understood that…

    But the Dark Lord pulled away before Gellert could decide one way or the other, fleeing with the remainder of his forces. He hadn’t even tried a counter-attack, knowing the futility of such an action. A wily foe indeed - no wonder Albus had had so much trouble with him.

    But now Gellert was here, to fix this.

    He turned to his Storm Wizards. “Good work, everyone! Gather the prisoners, treat the wounded, and mend what damage you can see. We’ll be moving out in five minutes!”

    That should avoid the Obliviators. The ICW got testy if you meddled with their tools, and they tended to overreact to every little thing as if you intended to break the Statute of Secrecy.

    He sighed. After all, you could always just blow up the entire area and blame a muggle bomb for it. Problem solved!

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, July 27th, 1997

    Gellert and his Storm Wizards arrived at the agreed rally spot in high spirits. A victorious battle tended to have that effect. Sure, not everything had gone according to plan. Voldemort had escaped, which was unfortunate. And Gellert had forgotten to tell his forces that they should take prisoners - a regrettable oversight, though he was a little rusty, and in the past, he had had special forces for such assignments. But overall, they had done well.

    He looked at the house where Potter and the others would be waiting. Another sign of Albus’s cunning - no one would suspect a cobbled-together building that looked as if it would implode if you dispelled the right charm of housing an army!

    Although, he added to himself with a slight frown as he approached it, the name gave the vast underground structures beneath it away. Sometimes Albus was a little too clever for his own good - not everyone would dismiss such a possibility as too obvious, after all.

    He politely tipped his wand and cast a little jinx to announce his arrival, and the door opened to reveal that grizzled old Auror with the paranoid streak.

    “You.”

    Gellert smiled - he was a guest here, after all. “Yes. We have successfully ambushed the enemy. Although their leader managed to escape, we killed over a dozen of them - we’re not quite certain how many since some of the parts got mixed up and we couldn’t linger.”

    Unfortunately, none of the remains had been in a condition to be repurposed as Inferi - no, wait, Albus had been quite clear about how that wasn’t acceptable. Gellert would have to respect that, even though it wasn’t as if corpses had feelings, and logically, the families of Death Eaters should be glad that their criminal relatives were redeeming themselves after death. But unfortunately, the British views of certain spells were rarely logical.

    The other man grunted. “Too bad.” He nodded at the door. “The rest’s waiting inside for the debriefing.”

    “Perfect.” Gellert smiled. “Could you send someone to direct my men to the entrance to the underground area so they can get some rest?”

    Why was the man staring at him as if he had said something wrong? Although it was hard to tell, with that spinning eye. Maybe those facilities were meant to be a secret? It wasn’t as if anyone had overheard them.

    *****​

    “...and we managed to disengage even though Potter broke formation.”

    Gellert Grindelwald glanced at the boy, who was sitting between his friends on the couch.

    Potter raised his chin. “I told you - Voldemort could sense my presence. I had to lead him into the ambush myself.”

    “Should have told us that before,” the old Auror grunted.

    Gellert was forced to agree. Albus wouldn’t have overlooked such a crucial detail if he had known about it. But still, everyone made mistakes, and it wasn’t as if anyone had come to harm over it. Even the decoy had survived the experience, although he would apparently be a resident of the local clinic’s spell damage ward for the foreseeable future.

    At least it would improve his hygiene.

    Everyone else had come through unscathed, or so Gellert had been told, although Potter had apparently almost been killed by his friends after his stunt according to Moody.

    Gellert would have to talk to them about that; he couldn’t let them make the same mistake he and Albus had made. Duels were not an appropriate response to an honest mistake.

    And he had to check if his Storm Wizards were comfortable in their tents - the Order still claimed that there weren’t any underground facilities to accommodate them.

    Gellert wondered what they were hiding there. They had to know that he wouldn’t judge them for some questionable supplies or installations. Needs must, and all that.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, July 27th, 1997

    Harry Potter woke up as if it was just any other morning at The Burrow. Well, he amended as he checked his watch, any other afternoon at The Burrow - he and everyone else involved in the Battle of Little Whinging had gone to bed far too late. Or too early in the morning.

    It wasn’t a normal day, though. He had left Privet Drive for good. He had fought Voldemort, again - sort of. Lured him and the Death Eaters into an ambush. An ambush executed by Grindelwald and his Storm Wizards. Which were, at the moment, once again the most feared dark wizards in Europe, if you could trust the press.

    Dark wizards with whom the Order was allied. And Harry was responsible for it. He had told them to listen to Grindelwald. He had stood between Grindelwald and his friends, preventing a fight. Granted, that had probably saved a number of his friends from nasty curses, but the fact remained: The Order had joined forced with Grindelwald’s Storm Wizards. They were even camping out in disillusioned tents on The Burrow’s lawn. Some of them were standing guard at the perimeter, as he had heard Hans order them around before he had fallen asleep.

    He wondered what the Prophet would make of this if they knew about it. Then he grimaced and hoped that the newspaper would never hear about this - he’d be labelled a dark wizard faster than anyone could cry ‘parselmouth’, and they would dig out every rumour about him that some idiot had made up at Hogwarts in the last six years.

    He looked over at the other bed in the room. It was empty. Was Ron up already? And Harry hadn’t noticed? He must have been more exhausted than he had thought. But it also meant that he had no excuse to stay in bed.

    Sighing, he got up and made his way to the bathroom. Might as well face the remainder of the day without looking like something Crookshanks brought home to drop at Hermione’s feet.

    A shower and a shave later, he felt better. They had dealt Voldemort a serious blow - he had lost over a dozen Death Eaters, and the Order hadn’t lost anyone but Fletcher, who had been of dubious loyalty or use anyway. That should… He blinked, losing the trail of his thoughts as he saw Ginny leaning against the frame of his door, waiting for him.

    “Hi,” she said, with a shy smile that seemed out of place on the girl’s face. She was wearing light house robes, he noticed. They looked good on her.

    “Good morning,” he said, then winced. “I mean, good afternoon.”

    She laughed at that. “I stayed up until you got here safely, but Mum sent me upstairs when she heard about Grindelwald coming here.”

    “Ah.” He nodded. “I didn’t call him, you know - he came to me.”

    “I heard. Mum wasn’t happy. She blew up at Dad, worse than when he supported Fred and George’s business plans. And I’m not allowed to leave the house as long as we’ve got ‘those people’ camping outside.”

    He winced. That must have been a terrible row. “I don’t think he could have done anything,” Harry said. “You don’t exactly turn down a wizard like him.”

    “Well, I don’t actually mind, you know?” she said, a grin starting to appear on her face as she stepped into his room and gestured for him to follow her.

    “What?” He blinked. Ginny didn’t mind being confined to the house for her own safety? She used to regularly hex Ron for trying to protect her! He followed her inside.

    She was grinning widely now. “No. Because it also means I’m not going back to Hogwarts this year.”

    “What?” he repeated himself.

    She tossed her head back, snorting. “Please - we’re working with the most feared and most wanted dark wizard of Europe. We’re even offering him shelter.”

    “Technically,” Harry said, “your mum didn’t let him inside the house.”

    She scoffed. “Doesn’t matter. Sooner or later, this will get out. And no matter who’s running Hogwarts, I won’t be safe there. The Ministry, the Death Eaters - everyone will come after us. The ICW, too, probably.”

    She was right, Harry realised. Associating - allying - with Grindelwald would turn anyone into an outlaw, hunted by all of Magical Europe. And he had just done that.

    “See? So, there’s no reason at all for me not to join you, Ron and Hermione in whatever you’re planning!”

    “What do you mean?” he tried to stall.

    She scowled at him. “Don’t treat me like an idiot! I’ve known Ron all my life, and he can’t keep a secret from me. And unless he’s planning to elope with Hermione, you three are planning something. I want in.”

    “Ah, well…” He closed his eyes. He couldn’t really lie to her either. He quickly cast a privacy spell.

    “Please, Ron’s been covering his room with those since puberty.”

    Harry didn’t have to know that. He cleared his throat. “Better safe than sorry. Anyway, yes, we’re planning something. Dumbledore left us an important mission.”

    She beamed at him. “Yes! I knew it!”

    “But I can’t speak for all of us if you can join us.” Ron would never go for it, he knew.

    She waved her hand. “No problem. Hermione will want me with you, so you’re not feeling left out. And Ron will agree sooner or later.”

    “What?” Left out?

    Her smile turned rather impish. “That’s the other thing I like about this whole alliance.” She stepped closer to him. “There’s no need to break up any more; it won’t keep me safe.”

    “Oh.”

    Before he could think of a more intelligent reply, she had wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, July 27th, 1997

    Standing in his command tent - the Order still refused to let him enter their underground complex - Gellert Grindelwald stared at Potter and his friends, whose number had grown by one when he hadn’t been looking, it seemed. Not that it mattered; what mattered was Potter’s outrageous demand.

    He glared at them. The two redheads swallowed, but none of them looked away. As bad as Albus had told him. He sighed. "Mister Potter! I understand that you wish to do your part in saving your country from Voldemort. I truly do - any wizard or witch worth their wand would feel the same. However, this will be a bloody war. And a war is no place for... students.”

    He almost said ‘children’, but Albus had said something about nothing worse than treating teenagers as children. Or had that been acting? Gellert didn’t really remember; he had never been interested in children. If Albus had wanted some, they could have adopted a couple. Old enough, of course, so they weren’t children any more.

    He raised his hand to forestall their protests. “Let me finish!” That shut them up - maybe there was something to the Glowering Eye Charm. “I've come to save Britain from Voldemort, and I certainly wouldn't be saving the country if I let the youngest generation, those who will have to rebuild the country after our inevitable victory, sacrifice themselves in battle when there are enough veterans around to shoulder that burden.” He smiled - Albus couldn’t have said it any better. “Do not be selfish; do not think of your personal desires. Think of Britain, and what it needs of you. Stay safe while we cleanse Britain of those stains on Albus's legacy.” He coughed. “Err... only those who do not surrender, of course."

    That should have settled the issue. He could see Potter wavering, and glancing at the redheaded witch. Maybe he should say something about repopulating the country? No, that could be mistaken. And he shouldn’t meddle with that love triangle.

    Before he could think of anything else to say, the other witch, the muggleborn with the bushy hair, took a step forward. She was wearing the same expression he usually saw on Katrina’s face, he noticed with surprise.

    She sounded like Katrina, too, as she started her speech. "Mr Grindelwald, you cannot exclude us!” She shook her head, her hair flying wildly. Yes, definitely a Katrina in the making. “Dumbledore personally gave us a mission of utmost importance for the war. There's a prophecy involved as well!"

    Albus had given them a mission? His friend who would have rather died than hurt a child? Gellert blinked. "He did?"

    "Yes. He even addressed us in his will."

    Ah, yes, the will. One of the Weasleys had brought it to The Burrow, explaining how the Minister was busy with international politics or something. As if a minister would act as a solicitor! Gellert had been hurt - a little - that he hadn’t been addressed, but that had been before he realised that Albus had left him the Elder Wand. “And there is a prophecy as well?”

    “Yes!” She nodded emphatically. “Harry has to face Voldemort. Again. And we’re not going to let him do this alone!” She grabbed the boy’s arm as if she feared he would try to run away. The other witch followed her example. Definitely a love-triangle, or… what was the word when there were four involved?

    Gellert shook his head. He had no reason nor desire to deal with teenage relationships. He had a mission. And, apparently, so had those kids. He smiled at them. “Well, I need to know more about this prophecy, and your mission, but if Albus decided to involve you, I certainly won’t turn you away.”

    They beamed at him.

    “That said,” he went on, “I would certainly not even think of letting half-trained teenagers fight at my side. Hans!”

    His old friend appeared in the tent’s entrance as if he had apparated. "Hier, Meister Grindelwald!"

    "You have four new recruits. Train them so they may fulfil Albus's last orders!"

    "Jawohl!"

    The witches beamed at him, but the boys seemed to display a little more sense. Ah, well - the dice had been cast. Besides, after all that Albus had told him, Gellert was certain that they would make fine Storm Wizards. Once Hans was done with them.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, July 28th, 1997

    Harry Potter was in hell, and it was all Hermione’s fault. If she hadn’t stood up to Grindelwald, he wouldn’t be dying here, in the soft mud, a few days before his seventeenth birthday...

    “Potter! Los, los! Auf! Es geht weiter! Du kannst dich ausruhen, wenn du tot bist, und keine Minute vorher!”

    Harry pushed himself up even though he wanted to keep lying in the mud. He didn’t know what exactly Hans was shouting - the man didn’t speak English - but he knew what the Storm Wizard meant. And he also knew that the man would hex him if he didn’t get up. No wonder the Storm Wizards were so feared - if they treated their own like this, they had to be even worse towards their enemies.

    “Los! Weiter so! Nicht aufgeben!” And the bloody Storm Wizard was running back and forth with them, making it look easy!

    The slap on Harry’s shoulder almost slammed him down into the mud again, but he managed to catch himself and stumbled on. He had… two or three laps around the pond left. Something like that. He must have lost count somewhere after ten.

    “Granger! Streng dich mehr an! Wenn du reden kannst, bist du zu langsam!”

    At least, Hermione was also suffering, Harry thought as he saw his friend trot ahead of him, or a lap behind, Ginny passing her. Her hair and face were smeared with mud, her clothes didn’t look any better, and her expression… actually, her expression was scary. As if she was about to murder someone. Harry hoped it would be Hans.

    “Weasley! Nicht du, der andere Weasley! Los, los! Das ist kein Kinderumzug! Renn!”

    Ron groaned as if he were dying, but Harry’s friend managed to force himself to run instead of plodding along, catching up with Harry.

    “Thought... Oliver... was…” Ron managed to spit out as he panted and huffed.

    “Yeah,” Harry answered. Oliver Wood had been a maniac, but even his training sessions hadn’t been as bad as this. And Ron was still running, slowly pulling away from Harry. What was wrong with him? Was he so afraid of getting hexed? It didn’t really hurt that much. Not compared to how his whole body was about to collapse!

    As he tried to catch up, Harry saw Ron glance to the side, towards Hermione. Of course! The stupid fool was trying to impress her. Harry would have laughed if he had had the breath to spare. He was a Seeker, not a runner!

    Then he saw Ginny ahead. The girl was struggling, her face redder than her hair, but she looked fierce. Unbending. Hot.

    Suddenly, Harry found that he had a little more left in him. Enough to pass his girlfriend without keeling over and dying, at least. And he forced himself to smile instead of grimacing as he passed her.

    And promptly regretted it once he was past her. Everything hurt. He was dying! Dying on his feet, in this mud. Voldemort would laugh when he heard about Harry’s ignoble end.

    But he kept running, plodding, setting one foot in front of the other. He passed that nice, secluded spot at the pond where he and Ginny had snogged and forced himself up the small slope leading to the Quidditch pitch.

    “Das Ganze halt!” Hans bellowed. “Halt!”

    Harry stopped, wheezing worse than Dumbledore during his last climb up the stairs of the Astronomy tower. Feeling worse, too, probably.

    “Das war erbärmlich! Morgen erwarte ich bessere Zeiten!” Hans glared at them. “Zehn Minuten Pause, dann geht’s weiter! Und dann sind auch eure Roben blitzblank sauber! Verstanden?”

    “Verstanden,” Hermione answered from her spot on the ground.

    “Gut. Zehn Minuten. Die Zeit läuft!”

    “What did he say?” Ron mumbled next to Harry.

    “We’ve got a ten-minute break. But we’ll need to clean ourselves up.”

    “Bloody hell!” Harry heard Ginny curse behind him.

    He wanted to tell her that she had insisted on joining them - how she had persuaded Ron he still didn’t know; his friend wasn’t talking - but he was too tired to waste his breath on that. He needed all the rest he could get.

    At least combat would be easy after a few weeks of this.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, July 28th, 1997

    Horcruxes! Six of them! Gellert had to restrain from cursing in the presence of the children in his tent. What maniac would split his soul, and not once, but six times? Hadn’t Voldemort read what had happened to Herpo the Foul? Probably not, if that fool had started as a teenager. Talk about precocious dark wizards. He turned his chuckle into a cough.

    But how could Albus expect three or four kids to hunt down six - no, four Horcruxes? Even the prophecy didn’t answer that; Albus must have taken his reasons into the grave.

    But he had had his reasons, Gellert knew that. Albus was a genius, not a gambler. He planned carefully, waiting until he was ready, then struck - that was how he had beaten Gellert, after all. Too bad he hadn’t left any information about his plans - but the will! “What did Albus leave you?” Gellert asked.

    “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” the girl - Granger - answered.

    “A Deluminator,” Weasley said.

    “A Golden Snitch,” Potter added. “The first I ever caught in a match.”

    “With his mouth,” Weasley said, chuckling.

    “Nothing for me,” the other Weasley said.

    “I see.” Gellert did indeed. “And the Ministry confiscated those items?”

    “They claim they have to check them for curses,” Granger said, scowling. “They just want to confiscate them under a pretext.”

    “Don’t worry.” Gellert smiled at them. “If Albus had wanted you to have those items, he would have given them to you before his death. Those are decoys - distractions for the corrupt Ministry.” That was Albus - cunning as a weasel.

    “But that means he didn’t leave us any information.” The girl pouted as if that was Gellert’s fault.

    He almost patted her head to reassure her that his friend had known what he was doing. “I’m certain that he did - but he’ll have ensured that the information will reach you when you need it.” That was how Gellert had received the Elder Wand.

    “Well, we have a lead on one Horcrux,” Weasley - the boy - said. They should really do something about all those Weasleys. Far too easy to mistake one for another. Two even were twins! “It was stolen by a wizard who signed his note with “R.A.B.”

    “Probably a defecting Death Eater,” Potter said.

    “Well reasoned.” Gellert nodded.

    “We also have some ideas about the other Horcruxes,” Granger spoke up again with an eager expression. “He left one Horcrux with Lucius Malfoy. He might have left another with Bellatrix Lestrange. Both were among his most trusted Death Eaters.”

    “And he was fixated on Hogwarts,” Potter cut in. “He could have hidden one there. Dumbledore said it would have appealed to his ego, to hide something right under the Headmaster’s nose.”

    Gellert rubbed his beard. That sounded logical. “Indeed. Of course, we don’t need to hunt down the Horcruxes.”

    “What?”

    “Hm?” He looked at the kids. “Oh, since we’re going to fight Voldemort anyway, we will simply capture him, and then tear the secrets of his Horcruxes from his mind and soul until he will beg for death, if need be.” Greta Galland, his most trusted torturer, hadn’t survived his defeat, but Gellert knew enough about the witch’s work to deal with any Dark Lord, if no one else was available.

    He noticed that all four of his visitors were gaping at him, and forced himself to smile. He had gone too far again, it seemed. “That’s only a last resort, of course. If we don’t find all Horcruxes. They still looked sceptical. “If we find one, we might even use a variant on the Protean Charm to track the others.”

    “Oh?” Granger perked up. “I didn’t know you could do that. I’ve used the charm as a means of communication when we were forming Dumbledore’s Army.”

    He nodded, glad for the distraction. “I’ve heard about that. Ingenious.” To hide a secret Kampfgruppe under the nose of that odious witch, ready to take over the school, and then get rid of the witch by using the centaurs as stooges… Albus had trained his students well.

    She beamed at him. Yes, definitely another Katrina.

    He wasn’t exactly certain if that was a good thing - Katrina was prone to go overboard, which was why she still in Prussia, gathering more recruits; she couldn’t start a lot of trouble that way. But Granger was Potter’s friend, so he could deal with her.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, July 31st, 1997

    Harry Potter smiled as he stretched out on his bed, staring at the ceiling. Today had been one of his better birthdays, despite the circumstances. He had received the usual mix of thoughtful, useful and useless gifts from Hermione, the Weasleys and the order, and the twins, respectively, Mrs Weasley had baked a great cake, and they’ve had an impromptu Quidditch match that lasted all afternoon. Mostly because neither Harry nor Ginny hadn’t been able to catch anything after Hans’s morning training, but you had to take the bad with the good.

    He still couldn’t really believe that Mrs Weasley was in favour of the torture that the Storm Wizard called ‘training’, but Ron had confirmed it. Apparently, she thought that the harder they trained, the less time and energy they would have left for getting into trouble.

    He sighed. She meant well, but he knew what the prophecy meant. And his friends wouldn’t let him face it alone. Although, Harry thought with a glance at the empty bed next to him, Ron really should have been back from his quick trip to the kitchen by now.

    As if his friend had heard him, the door opened. “There you a… Ginny?”

    She smiled at him and closed the door behind her. “In the flesh.” She was wearing her light house robes again, he noticed.

    “Have you seen Ron?” he asked, then bit his tongue. “I mean…” How did you ask your girlfriend what she was doing in your and her brother’s room at night?

    She didn’t frown - she smirked. “Ron’s not going to return for quite a while.” A flick of her wand locked the door.

    For a moment, Harry wondered what she meant. Then she took a step forward and pulled her robes open. He took a deep breath. “Err…” He licked his lips. It started to make sense. “Are you sure?” he asked, tearing his eyes off her chest and looking at her face.

    She nodded, if a little slowly, and pressed her lips together before she answered. “Yes. I’m sixteen. You’re seventeen. We might be dead in a few months. If Voldemort or his Death Eaters don’t kill us, Hans’s training will.” She chuckled at that, even if it sounded a little forced. She sat down on his bed, crossing her legs. Her bare legs.

    Harry once again had to force himself to focus on her face. And shift to his side. “Ah.”

    She looked at him, her hand trailing the edge of his mattress as she licked her lips again. “Do you want…?”

    Of course, he did. He took a deep breath. “Yes. If you’re sure.” He would pay for this tomorrow, but he didn’t care. Not now. Not with his girlfriend sitting on his bed, wearing nothing but thin, open robes.

    She smiled and pulled her robes off, letting them pool around her hips, before she leaned forward and started to kiss him.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 1st, 1997

    Harry was very glad that Hermione had acquired - she didn’t say how - a stock of Pepper-Up Potions. Without one, he would have fallen asleep half-way into Fleur and Bill’s wedding. Hans hadn’t let them skip their morning training, and since he hadn’t slept as much as he should have, courtesy of Ginny, he had barely managed to stay awake when he had taken a shower at noon before the first guests started to arrive.

    Not that the others had done much better, as far as he could tell. Ginny hadn’t slept any longer than Harry had, and both Ron and Hermione also looked rather tired. Suspiciously tired, in his opinion. At least it meant that Ron wouldn’t get angry at Harry for sleeping with his sister.

    “Come on, Harry, let’s dance!”

    Before he could say anything in response, Ginny had pulled him to his feet and dragged him towards the dance floor the Weasleys - or had that been the Delacours? - had placed in the centre of the main tent.

    It was crowded. Mostly Veela and Weasleys, or so it seemed, but he could see Hermione dancing with Krum as well as Remus and Tonks. And the twins with Alicia and Angelina. Ginny found them a spot, though, and he quickly found himself with her in his arms - and remembering last night.

    Although as they passed the main table, he noticed that Fleur’s parents didn’t look as happy as he would have expected. “Do the Delacours still not approve of Bill?” he whispered into Ginny’s ear. She was very close to her eldest brother, so she would know.

    “It’s not that,” she whispered back. “Fleur told them who’s guarding the wedding.”

    “Oh.” That would cause some unease, to say the least. A prominent family of the French Court, mingling with the Prussian wizard who had almost brought Magical France low fifty years ago? Yes, that wouldn’t go over well in Paris. He noticed Krum taking his seat, looking about as at ease as the Delacours. “Did someone tell Krum, too?”

    “I don’t think so. But Ron had a talk with him earlier.”

    “A talk?” Harry blinked. Oh. “Oh, I see.” Harry was certain that Hermione only had friendly feelings for her Yule Ball date, but Ron had a jealous streak. Well, no skin off Harry’s back. He had his girlfriend in his arms, and no ex-boyfriend of hers to worry about. Michael Corner and Dean Thomas weren’t international Quidditch Stars either. At least, Harry noticed, Luna’s father had no problems with their guests - the man was wearing Grindelwald’s sigil around his neck.

    When the next song ended, he bent forward and whispered. “Let’s go get some fresh air.”

    “Hm?” Ginny looked at him.

    “We could go to the pond,” he replied. That spot where they liked to snog.

    Her eyes widened briefly, and she smiled. “Oh, yes, good idea. Fresh air will do us good.”

    A few minutes later, they reached their spot near the pond. A nice place out of sight of the house, and anyone not running around the pond. And soft grass covering a slope that was just perfect to comfortably snogging.

    Or would have been - someone had started digging a hole into the slope. No, a tunnel. Harry stared at the opening, blinking.

    “What the hell? What’s going on here?” Ginny was more vocal.

    “Ah, Miss Weasley, Mr Potter.”

    Harry turned around, Grindelwald was fading into view. “Are you enjoying the wedding?” the old wizard asked.

    “Yes, we are,” Harry said, nodding.

    “Until we discovered this,” Ginny added. “What are you doing here?” Sometimes, Ginny was a little too Gryffindor, Harry thought.

    “Ah, we’re digging a tunnel,” Grindelwald explained.

    “A tunnel?” Harry said.

    “Yes, of course. After I found that there actually is no underground complex in place, despite the name of the location, I took it upon myself to rectify this.” Grindelwald beamed at them. “In a few days, the base will be much better protected, and we’ll have suitable facilities to handle prisoners.” He turned to the tunnel entrance. “This will be one of several entrances, to allow us the maximum flexibility when responding to an attack on the premises.

    “It’s not a base; it’s our home,” Ginny muttered.

    “And a home needs to be protected,” Grindelwald smoothly continued. “We’re still working on the best way to move the decoy house underground.”

    Harry cleared his throat. “Ah, have you discussed this with Mrs Weasley?”

    “I didn’t want to disturb her; she must be terribly busy with the wedding,” Grindelwald replied, smiling. “And I’m certain she’ll be happy to hear about the improvements we’re planning.”

    “You haven’t met Mum yet, have you?” Ginny said, then looked at Harry. “If she blames you, can we move to Grimmauld Place?”

    Harry hoped that she was joking.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 2nd, 1997

    Gellert Grindelwald frowned when he inspected the first floor of their new base. Mrs Weasley hadn’t been as appreciative of the base as he had expected - as if a few new caverns below the house would have any significant impact on its stability; everyone could see that it would rather fall apart than sink into the ground. Nevertheless, he had assured her that they wouldn’t excavate under the house.

    They would have to move the main rooms a little to the side as a result and move the location of the main entrance from the house to the shed. But his Storm Wizard Sappers knew their business and would adjust their plans accordingly. In a few days, this would be their first fortress in England. Let Voldemort attack them here - his Death Eaters would bleed themselves dry. Well, the wards would be a little weak at the start, but that couldn’t be helped without prisoners to use as sacrifices… He closed his eyes and winced. Another lapse. Blood magic was not right, no matter how much stronger sacrificial protections were. Although… Potter’s protections were based on a blood sacrifice as well. And Albus had been fine with them. Had even altered them, according to the boy. Wouldn’t that mean that using blood sacrifices to protect the base, and The Burrow, would be alright as well? He would have to give that some thought.

    Albus certainly would prefer it if his enemies died, instead of his friends. But he wouldn’t like sacrificing his enemies. He had been adamant about that when they had been making plans together. But that had been over seventy years ago. Magic had advanced in the meantime. Well, not in that area, but in general. That should count if one took a look at the bigger picture.

    He was still musing about this complex moral problem when he reached the decoy house’s back door and heard the commotion inside. Frowning, he entered. What had happened? Had Mr Weasley discovered that Mr Potter was sleeping with his sister, and denounced her as a homewrecker?

    No, it seemed the commotion was centred on that confused Auror, Mr Shacklebolt, on the couch.

    “The Ministry has fallen,” Gellert heard him stammer. “Scrimgeour is dead, as are his guards - those not turned by Voldemort. I managed to escape with Tonks before they got to us, but it was a near thing. They knew that we were Order members.”

    Well, anyone would have known that, Gellert thought - Shacklebolt was rather scatterbrained; not ideal for a spy. He shook his head. Albus probably took pity on the good man.

    “Yes,” Mr Weasley said - with some difficulties; his wife was trying to crush his ribs. “Fortunately, Percy and I were warned and made our escape as well.”

    “Snape,” Potter hissed. “He knows too many Order members!”

    “Snape?” Gellert frowned. “Albus’s murderer? He’ll pay. I mean, he’ll be brought to justice. With extreme prejudice!”

    “But the Ministry has fallen! This is a catastrophe!” Mrs Weasley exclaimed while hugging her husband.

    Many of the Order members seemed to share this assumption, Gellert noticed. He would have to correct this, before their morale plummeted. “The Ministry doesn’t really matter,” he said.

    “What?”

    Gellert nodded. “If it were important, Albus would have been Minister. It’s obvious that he didn’t consider the Ministry worth his time, and therefore losing the Ministry isn’t a setback at all - it’s an opportunity!” He smiled. “All our enemies will rally there, thinking that they have won - until we can take them out with one strike!” He nodded. “Fiendfyre should do the job.”

    “Fiendfyre?” That was Mrs Weasley again. She might be hard of hearing - no wonder, given how loudly she liked to discuss matters.

    “Yes, Fiendfyre,” Gellert repeated. “Since the Ministry is isolated, that should limit collateral damage.”

    “It’s in the middle of muggle London!” the young muggleborn witch - Granger, he really had to learn their names one of those days - exclaimed.

    “Right. I forgot about muggles. They didn’t matter fifty years ago.” The muggles were so busy killing each other, Gellert had been able to operate without any care for the Statute of Secrecy. As long as he killed any witnesses and then blew up the area. Speaking of… “We can still blame firebombs for Fiendfyre, can’t we?”

    “What?”

    “Firebombs. Those metal cylinders filled with flammable liquid that muggles like to drop on each other. They were all the rage in Prussia last time.” Wasn’t Granger a muggleborn? She should know these things. But judging by her flabbergasted expression, she didn’t. “I guess they don’t do that any more?” That would complicate things.

    “We can’t unleash Fiendfyre in London!” Granger yelled. Was she related to the Weasleys? She would certainly fit right in.

    “Well, I think you mean we shouldn’t,” he corrected her. “We most certainly can. But we shouldn’t.” Albus had said something about that, too. Gellert blinked. Perhaps... “Does anyone know if Albus has used Fiendfyre lately? No?”

    Apparently not. That would complicate matters. A little. Unless flooding the Ministry with poison gas and then setting Inferi on the survivors was also unacceptable for some reason or other.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 4th, 1997

    Grindelwald in Britain! Minister Scrimgeour Killed! New Minister Thicknesse calling for foreign aid to help combat this threat! Muggleborns under suspicion.

    Gellert Grindelwald stared at the headlines of the Daily Prophet. They made either too much sense or too little.

    Mr Potter was reading the articles with his friends. “The Duc d’Orléans is sending his Gendarmes Magiques to support Britain’s Ministry against Grindelwald and his Storm Wizards. Magical Poland has pledged their support as well. German countries are ‘deliberating over the issue’. Magical Prussia hasn’t commented yet.” He looked up and stared at Gellert as if that was Gellert’s fault. “Voldemort is trying to get half of Europe to do his killing for him!”

    “And they’re already talking about preemptively taking muggleborns into custody - ‘for their own protection’!” Granger added. “They’re claiming every muggleborn is a security risk, prone to join the Storm Wizards!”

    “Well, muggleborns did make up a disproportionately large part of my forces,” Gellert explained. “They were the most enthusiastic as well.” With most of the governments run by purebloods for purebloods, it was only natural that muggleborns would seek other opportunities to advance their lot in life. Like signing up with Gellert. “But this is an unexpected development.”

    “Really? Britain turning into Europe’s battlefield is ‘an unexpected development’?” Potter asked.

    Gellert nodded. “Yes, exactly. We never fought on British soil back in the war. Prussia, France, the smaller German states… Poland of course, to keep them off our backs… Scandinavia wasn’t really a battle, more a take-over; as soon as they heard about my plans for werewolf rights they were on board. But Britain? No. I guess it’s Britain’s turn.”

    “Britain’s turn,” Potter spat.

    “Well, I don’t think they planned it like that,” Gellert explained. “But this does complicate things.” Why couldn’t this Dark Lord have the courtesy to duel him so that they could get this over with? That was how you solved such conflicts. Albus had defeated Gellert, ending their war. Potter had defeated Voldemort, ending that civil war. But Voldemort had run from Gellert.

    And now half of Europe was coming to meddle in this conflict. He sighed. Why couldn’t they let him finish with Voldemort before overreacting like this? It wasn’t as if he were a threat to them! Albus liked to say that you should do what’s right, not what’s easy, but he didn’t mean that what was right shouldn’t be easy.

    Well, he had faced worse odds in his time. Viel Feind, viel Ehr, as the saying went.

    And once he had defeated Voldemort, explaining to the French that this was just a misunderstanding should be easy.

    *****​
     
  10. Darth.

    Darth. I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I honestly wish Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix had been about this lmao. They even named it Dumbledore's Army!

    A führerbunker for Mrs. Weasley? Seems appropriate tbh :D

    Snape...Snape...Seeeverus Snape.

    The height of fashion really. Couldn't turn up to a party without one.

    Truly. "We just took a wrong turn you see. We didn't mean to capture Paris. And Dunkirk was just a complete and total misunderstanding. We wanted to ask for directions, not destroy the army. Although considering we cleared out those Royalist rebels for you, you should be thanking us really. You're welcome by the way."
     
  11. Threadmarks: Chapter 3: Escalation
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 3: Escalation

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 7th, 1997

    Once more, Harry Potter was about to collapse in the mud. Or in the pond. It didn’t matter. Drowning was said to be painless, or something - Hermione had mentioned it after the second task in the tournament, but he hadn’t been paying attention. But if he stopped, Hans would get in his face again, and hex him. And mock him in German.

    And Harry really hated getting mocked. So he pushed on, running up the slope, to the Quidditch pitch, where their tormentor was waiting. Ron was right on his heels, Ginny trailing behind by about twenty yards, closely followed by Hermione.

    He reached the finishing line and slowed down from his plodding trot to a slow walk, gulping down air. He would have dropped the stupid weight stuck to the back of his robes as well, but Hans wouldn’t let them do that until the last of their group had arrived. Which usually, and today as well, was Hermione.

    “Na endlich. Wenn es nach mir ginge, würde ich euch weiter rennen lassen, bis ihr das Ganze in der halben Zeit und mit dem doppelten Gewicht schafft, aber Meister Grindelwald hat entschieden, dass ihr nun reif genug für die echte Kampfausbildung seid.” Hans glowered at them. “Das ist eine Ausnahme, da wir uns im Krieg befinden! Echte Sturmmagier machen nicht so schnell schlapp! Dreissig Minuten Pause, dann geht es weiter! Wegtreten!”

    Harry turned to Hermione as their torturer turned sharply and walked away.

    “We’re still too unfit for his taste, but Grindelwald decided that today, we’re starting combat training since we’re at war. Training starts in half an hour,” she translated.

    “Yes!” Harry smiled widely as he let himself fall down in the mud, on the weight on his back. Finally, they would be training for real! No more puking their guts out from running too long and too fast!

    An hour later, Harry was puking his guts out, right next to Hans’s polished boots. The man’s Bludgeoning Curse had hit him with more force than a Bludger.

    “Das war Scheisse! Wenn ich euch in den Krieg schicken würde, würde sich der Feind totlachen! Erbärmlich! Wo habt ihr Kämpfen gelernt, im Kindergarten? Wenn der Gegner seinen Zauberstab bewegt, müsst ihr bereits in Bewegung sein! Wer still steht, ist tot!” Hans flicked his wand, and Harry’s pain disappeared - mostly.

    Hermione’s slightly whimpering voice rang out from where she was on the ground, covered in boils. “We have to keep moving, or we’re dead.” Her translation likely skipped a lot of Hans’s cursing, but Harry got the gist of that anyway. He groaned as he pushed himself up, his stomach muscles protesting, and slowly stood up again. All he wanted was to hit the bastard hexing them once. Just one good hit.

    He clenched his teeth and raised his wand as he joined the rest of their group, facing Hans again.

    *****​

    “We’ll get him tomorrow! We just need a good plan of attack.” Hermione was standing in the middle of Ron’s room, a scowl on her face that Harry Potter didn’t want to see directed at him.

    “We outnumber him four to one.” Ginny sounded mad, too. He knew that tone. Since she was leaning against his legs, he patted her shoulder.

    “Yes, we do. And it didn’t help us that much,” Harry said.

    “Because we were tired from the damned run, and we weren’t coordinating,” Ron replied.

    “And that’s why we need a good plan of attack!” Hermione huffed and sat down on Ron’s bed.

    “We just need to dodge better,” Harry retorted. “If he can’t take us down as quickly as he did today, we can take him. Our aim is fine, and we know the right curses.”

    “It’s hard to keep moving as he wants us to when we already ran ten miles or so in the morning,” Hermione said.

    “That’s probably the point,” Ron said. “We need to build up our stamina. Like Quidditch players.”

    Hermione glared at him, and Harry suppressed a chuckle; their friend’s opinion of Quidditch was well-known. She didn’t snap at Ron, though, but leaned back until she was lying on his bed and sighed. “I know. But I don’t think we’ll have enough time. Voldemort took control of the Ministry almost a week ago. Thanks to Snape, he knows most of the Order - and he certainly knows that your family is fighting him.”

    “Yes. They tried to arrest Dad and Percy,” Ginny said.

    “So why hasn’t he struck at The Burrow?” Hermione asked. “It’s not as if the house’s hidden.”

    “His hold on the Ministry is shaky,” Ron said. “Dad’s mentioned it. He has chased away or arrested his known enemies, but a lot of Aurors won’t simply follow orders to attack us.”

    “And he hasn’t as many Death Eaters as he used to have,” Harry said, smiling grimly. The attack on Privet Drive had cost Voldemort dearly.

    “Yes,” Ron said. “He’ll need time to get everyone in line.”

    “How much time?” Hermione asked. “We’ll have to make plans.”

    Ron shrugged. “I don’t know. And I don’t think anyone knows.” He grinned. “Besides, we are ready to run. And thanks to Grindelwald, we have half a dozen escape tunnels too.”

    And two dozen Storm Wizards ready to fight whoever attacked The Burrow. Harry hoped they would be enough.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 8th, 1997

    Muggleborn traitors arrested! Ministry fighting Grindelwald’s spies!

    Gellert Grindelwald was slightly confused by the Daily Prophet’s headline. He wasn’t aware that he had spies in Britain. He wouldn’t it put past Katrina to recruit spies - she had done so before - but she would certainly inform him if she had done so in Britain so they could report to him. That would be far more efficient than routing all communications through Katrina. And why would anyone recruit an ice cream maker as a spy? Had the Death Eaters a craving for dessert?

    Britain certainly had changed a lot since his last visit. He slightly shook his head as he reached for the teapot. The same could be said for the food - Mrs Weasley’s breakfast was delicious; a far cry from what he had eaten when he had lived in Godric’s Hollow. And a few Doubling and Extension Charms ensured that all his Storm Wizards could enjoy the meal as well.

    “They’ve started,” he heard Mr Weasley say. The man was glowering at the newspaper.

    “What did they start?” Potter asked.

    “Their campaign against muggleborns,” the wizard explained, holding up the newspaper. “They’ve struck at the muggleborn business owners in Diagon Alley, claiming they were spies and Storm Wizard recruits.”

    Ah, so the Ministry was using lies to persecute muggleborns. That made more sense than ice cream making spies. And yet it didn’t make sense at all. “Don’t they realise that this will backfire?” he asked, his slightly raised voice drowning out the muttered comments from the Weasleys and Order members. “The last time the French did that, it drove their muggleborns into my arms.” Well, he didn’t think he had any use for an ice cream maker, other than in supply. Not that he was looking for more untrained wands. He wasn’t here to recruit an army but to defeat Voldemort and his followers. Which, as had become obvious, included the British Ministry of Magic. And Albus wouldn’t have liked it if Gellert used green muggleborns as curse fodder.

    At least Potter and his friends, lovers, or whatever their relationship actually was, Gellert still couldn’t tell, weren’t green recruits. According to Hans, they showed promise, which was high praise indeed from him. Not that Hans would go easy on them, of course. That would breed overconfidence and arrogance, both which were usually ingredients of a recipe for disaster. Gellert could attest to that. And he should probably focus less on the superb food when thinking.

    “We have to protect them!” Granger was all but yelling.

    Gellert had missed who she was talking about, but it was probably muggleborns. Or animals. Or house-elves. But no one had mentioned animals or elves, had they?

    “Well, we can’t exactly invade Diagon Alley and kick the Ministry forces out,” Potter’s friend, one of the Weasleys said.

    “Actually, we can,” Gellert remarked.

    The whole table, fell silent. That his Storm Wizards would not interrupt him was a given, but this was rare for the British here.

    “What do you mean?” Mr Weasley said.

    Was he hard of hearing? Or had he trouble understanding? Gellert explained: “According to what we know about the forces of the Ministry and the Death Eaters, we could successfully invade Diagon Alley.”

    The Storm Wizards alone would be enough, given the average skill of the Aurors and Hit-Wizards, and the Death Eaters certainly hadn’t measured up to their reputation. Voldemort probably hadn’t realised that using his crack forces for atrocities against civilians tended to dull their edge. That was what the second-line forces were for - that, and being used as curse-fodder. He frowned. He was doing it again. No atrocities!

    He cleared his throat, interrupting the invasion planning Potter’s friends had started. “But we shouldn’t invade Diagon Alley. Holding it would require more forces than we can spare, and we would be tied to a location that isn’t as defensible as our base here. Unless invading it will help us achieve our goal - the eradication of Voldemort and his Death Eaters - we should, therefore, not be doing this.”

    “But the muggleborns! We can’t let them get murdered!” Granger exclaimed.

    They certainly could. The longer their enemies were kept busy massacring muggleborns, the more time their own forces had to train and hunt down Voldemort. Although that was a strategically sound decision, Albus wouldn’t like it. Probably - he had complained a few times about the prices in Diagon Alley during his visits. Gellert shook his head. “Why would they remain and let themselves be massacred if they can just take a short trip to muggle London, where they’ll be safe?” Well, mostly safe - Albus had said the muggles hadn’t had a single year of peace since their duel, so they were probably still dropping bombs on each other. Whatever, the thing was, if people were too stupid to get out of the way of a curse they saw coming from miles away, they would probably drown when looking up at rain clouds.

    “They wouldn’t know. Most of them trust the Ministry,” one of Mr Weasley’s sons said.

    “So we tell them!” Granger was getting loud again. “Drop leaflets! Put up posters! We can’t just do nothing!”

    He was about to tell the girl that they were preparing and that they had to focus on their goal - which was the defeat of Voldemort - when the Weasleys jerked.

    “Someone’s at the front door,” Mr Weasley said, standing up.

    Gellert looked at Hans, but his friend had already sent four of the Storm Wizards to check the perimeter. Hans was on top of things, as usual. Gellert didn’t hear any curses or explosions after Mr Weasley had stepped out, so the visitor was probably friendly.

    “...and I heard that they are checking everyone’s ancestry! Arthur, they are hunting down muggleborns! And they are making up the most outrageous lies about you following Grindelwald!”

    That must be the visitor. Obviously a friend of Mr Weasley, and not too dumb - he had realised what the Ministry was doing. So, things were working themselves out, and there was no need to waste resources on covering Diagon Alley with posters and leaflets.

    “Ah, about that, Dirk, well…” Mr Weasley said as he opened the door to the extended living room.

    Gellert had to revise his estimation of the visitor’s intelligence. He looked rather dumb as he stared at the table where Gellert’s Storm Wizards were eating.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 9th, 1997

    Harry Potter sighed as he cast yet another Doubling Charm. He had long lost count of how many he had cast on that leaflet - the master copy, Hermione had called it. An hour of casting the charm was mind-numbingly boring, and his arm was getting tired from all the swishing. He was certain that they had enough leaflets to cover the entire Alley in them - twice over. But at least he would be done soon - even Hermione wouldn’t need more than that. He was tempted to go and ‘borrow’ a copy machine, but setting up a power source would be complicated, and Hermione wouldn’t like stealing from ‘poor muggles’ just so he could skip casting a spell.

    “Oh, the posters are done! Great!” he heard her exclaim behind the wall of leaflets separating them. “Well done, Ron!”

    “Oh, I just altered a Cannons poster, wasn’t really difficult.”

    “It’s perfect! Come here!”

    And now they were kissing, Harry knew. If only Ginny were here, instead of helping her mum in the kitchen! His girlfriend had claimed that she wanted to learn more about cooking, in case they still had to camp out in the wilderness, but Harry was certain that she simply didn’t want to spend a rare free afternoon - Hans was busy somewhere else - duplicating Hermione’s leaflets and posters.

    When he heard moaning, he gritted his teeth and pointed his wand at the wireless to adjust the volume; the last thing he wanted to hear was Hermione and Ron making out. A flick of his wand later, the Weird Sisters’ classic, ‘Rock n Roll Wizard’, drowned out the noise from his two friends.

    Harry would have preferred muggle music, but as far as wizarding music went, the Weird Sisters weren’t bad. Certainly better than Celestina Warbeck. If he had to listen to ‘A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love’ one more time...

    The song ended, and Wizarding Wireless Network News started.

    “Useless government propaganda again!” Hermione complained from behind the stacks.

    “Knowing what they are telling the population is useful,” Harry retorted, then focused on the news.

    “The Ministry just announced in a press statement that, after careful deliberation, Headmaster Dumbledore’s successor has been chosen. Severus Snape has been teaching at Hogwarts for close to twenty years, most notably as Potions master and last year as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He has been Head of House Slytherin for the same time and is expected to…”

    “Bloody hell!” Ron yelled. “That git?”

    Both Ron and Hermione joined Harry to sit closer to the wireless receiver.

    “It’s not like we were going back to school anyway,” Hermione said as she adjusted her robes with a flick of her wand.

    “But all the other poor students… a Death Eater as Headmaster!” Ron shook his head. “And you know how biased he is; Slytherin will win the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup forever!”

    His friend had a peculiar sense of priorities. “Could be worse,” Harry said. “Imagine if it were Malfoy.”

    Ron scoffed. “Snape is worse. He’s smart. We might need to break into Hogwarts for the Horcrux there, and that would be easier with Malfoy as Headmaster.”

    “No. Snape would still be the Defence teacher,” Harry retorted.

    “Shhh! I want to hear what they are saying!” Hermione hissed.

    “...have the first detachments of the French Gendarmes Magiques in Britain reached their full strength. They are expected to start operations against Grindelwald and his supporters, first among them the notorious traitors of the Weasley family, at once. All law-abiding wizards and witches are advised to report any sighting of those dangerous criminals who massacred an Auror patrol just last week and endangered the Statue of Secrecy by recklessly blowing up a muggle road to the Ministry.”

    Harry drew a hissing breath and glanced at Ron. His friend was pressing his lips together and gripping his wand so hard, his knuckles were white.

    “We expected this,” Hermione said, wrapping her arm around Ron’s shoulder.

    “Yes,” Ron said, taking a deep breath. “But I didn’t think it would be that bad. Reckless endangerment of the Statue of Secrecy?” He shook his head. “That’s a kissing offence.”

    “They want to kill us all anyway,” Hermione spat. “And we knew that they would stoop to any means, no matter how brutal or underhanded.” She snarled. “But they’ll reap what they sow. If they want a war, then we’ll give them a war! A war to the knife!”

    Harry suddenly remembered Ron’s comment from their first year - ‘brilliant, but scary’. His friend was really scary right now.

    *****​

    Gellert Grindelwald didn’t like to criticise Albus - he had proven himself the better wizard, in more ways than one, after all - but he couldn’t help noticing that Albus’s Order lacked a certain… sangfroid. Of course, not everyone could be as mad as the French, but he had expected better from the British. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t known what was coming. But they were standing in the extended living room, all but screaming at each other - and at the wireless, which wouldn’t do anyone any good.

    “We have to leave The Burrow. The Ministry will attack us,” Mrs Weasley said, loudly, as usual.

    “You mean, they’ll have the French attack us. You know how they are,” one of the twins replied. Since not even their mother could tell them apart, Gellert didn’t think he should even attempt to learn their names.

    “Hey!” That was the eldest son, the one who had married a French witch. Bill or Bob.

    “See? If they are willing to marry Bill, they make Gryffindors look bad!” the other twin said.

    So, Bill was it. Gellert had remembered it correctly. Arthur was the father, Bill the eldest son, Charlie the second son… ABC. Easy.

    “We’re not going to give up our home!” That was the youngest. The one involved with Potter. The female one involved with Potter.

    “Ginny, we cannot stand against the French and the Ministry and the Death Eaters,” Mr Weasley said.

    Ah, his cue! He was getting good at raising morale. Gellert shook his head. “I think that we can hold this base.” He preempted Granger’s question by continuing: “And I think we should hold it. Wars aren’t won by ceding important ground, but by taking it and holding it. Holding it, in this case. This is a defensible location. The enemy will bleed themselves dry against our defences.” Especially the French. De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace and so on. They certainly hadn’t changed in fifty years if they were invading Britain simply because of rumours of his presence. Of course, the rumours were actually correct, but still - rash as always. His Storm Wizards would cut them apart. Probably literally.

    “But are you certain?” Mrs Weasley asked.

    “Nothing in war is certain,” Gellert answered. “But our defences are strong, we are ready, and reinforcements from Prussia are on the way. We might have to sacrifice the decoy building, but the underground base should hold.”

    “This is not a decoy! This is our home!” Potter’s female Weasley protested.

    “If we cede the base, it’ll be destroyed anyway,” Gellert replied. He knew just the right curses to turn it into a trap, too. “But we won’t retreat without a fight! Those who ally themselves with Voldemort will be defeated!” Just as Albus had planned it. Lure them out in the open by offering them the Ministry, expose their allies abroad, and then take them out when they throw themselves against your defences. If only Albus had told him or anyone else about his plans. Gellert was reasonably certain that he knew what Albus had been thinking, but some doubt remained.

    He looked at the assembled Weasleys and Order members - actually, was anyone else present not a Weasley or a Storm Wizard, or both? Gellert didn’t think so. The French witch was married to Bob-Bill, which made her a Weasley, too - and smiled confidently. “Don’t lose heart! We’ll be surrounded by the cursed bodies of our enemies, should they dare to attack us here!” And they would. The French were like that. And the Ministry forces would probably insist on coming along just to save some face. Gellert reminded himself to see if they could get corpses usable for Inferis this time. Waste not, want not - Albus had often told him how he hated excesses.

    Strangely, the Weasleys didn’t seem to be less anxious after his declaration. And Albus had said all of them were sorted into Gryffindor for their bravery. Maybe the Sorting Hat had grown a little defective over the years? Some artefacts developed quirks after a few centuries. Like the Elder Wand - he kept feeling the urge to cast the Killing Curse when he used it in a fight. Which made training duels rather bothersome.

    “Meister Grindelwald!”

    That was Reinhart, one of his veterans. “Yes?”

    “Our reinforcements have arrived!” The man was beaming at him. “Two dozens! Half of them veterans!”

    That was great! Gellert hadn’t even known so many of his faithful followers were still alive. He smiled widely. More followers meant more power too, and that was always a good thing. That was how democracy worked, as Albus had told him.

    *****​

    London, Diagon Alley, August 9th, 1997

    From two thousand feet above the ground, Diagon Alley looked tiny. Especially compared to London. Doubly so at night, when Diagon Alley was a dimly lit section among a shining city. The most dangerous section, too - at least for people the Ministry had called out as traitors and supporters of Grindelwald. Like the Weasleys and muggleborns. They hadn’t called the Boy-Who-Lived a traitor yet, but Harry Potter was certain that that would happen soon enough.

    Sooner than expected, should anyone spot him wearing the leather coat of a Storm Wizard today. Harry still wasn’t quite certain how he should feel about that, but Hans had handed over the enchanted coat with such seriousness, only a suicidal fool would have refused the ‘honour’. And Harry wasn’t a fool.

    Although, he wasn’t quite so sure about his friends. Ron and Ginny were incensed about the Ministry’s accusations. And Hermione… well, she was on a crusade. She was so determined to strike at the Death Eaters, the Ministry and anyone else opposing her, the girl who hated flying was floating next to Harry on a borrowed broom.

    “I can’t see anything suspicious from up here,” she said. “But we’ll have to fly closer to the ground to drop the leaflets. I wish we had had more time to prepare better spells to distribute them, but lives are at stake! The truth has to get out!”

    She wasn’t wrong, but… “Mrs Weasley will kill us,” Harry said.

    “Only if we get caught,” Ron retorted.

    “And we won’t!” Ginny added. “We locked the doors from inside; if all goes well, Mum will think we’re having sex.”

    “And if she does check, we’ll say that we went out drinking in muggle London,” Hermione added.

    It was even true - if you considered a ten-minute visit to a pub so everyone would be describing the same bar ‘going drinking’.

    “Alright,” Hermione went on. “Harry goes first and takes Knockturn Alley. Then Ron takes Diagon Alley. Ginny and I will cover the largest side alleys - left and right, respectively. That way, we won’t accidentally collide with each other.”

    “Alright.” They had gone over the plan four times now.

    “Disillusion yourself, and go!”

    Harry slid under his Cloak of Invisibility and started to descend towards Knockturn Alley. Personally, he didn’t think that dropping leaflets there was necessary - those who lived there would already be avoiding the Aurors - but he knew better than to argue that with Hermione. And it wasn’t as if this was dangerous. He pulled up when he reached about a hundred feet, right over the end of the Alley, and pulled out the first stack of leaflets from the pocket Hermione had enchanted for him. A tap of his wand scattered them all over the area.

    He was already flying towards the next drop zone before the first leaflet hit the cobblestones below. Five minutes later, he was done and flying towards their rally spot above the tower of London, where he pulled off the Cloak - the night was dark enough so that no one would spot him in his black coat. A few minutes later, Ron joined him, followed by Ginny and, sounding and looking both happy and uncomfortable on her broom, Hermione.

    A moment later, they were back at The Burrow, nodding at the guards - Grindelwald had sanctioned the mission, and they wouldn’t be talking, or so Hermione had said - and floating in front of their rooms’ windows.

    “Doesn’t look like someone opened the door,” Hermione whispered. “The marker I placed on the lock is still there.”

    Harry glanced at Ron, then at Ginny. “I think we should go the extra length for our cover story,” he said. Ginny beamed at him.

    “What do you mean?” Hermione replied. “It doesn’t… Oh.” Harry was certain that she was blushing, though he couldn’t tell in the dim light. “Yes, we can’t allow ourselves to be lax about such matters,” she went on, sounding quite prim - but she was already opening the window and waving at Ron.

    Which meant Harry would take Ginny to Ron’s room.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 10th, 1997

    The enemy still hadn’t launched their attack. Gellert Grindelwald had expected better. From the French, at least - it was obvious that Voldemort was a coward and refused to meet him in a duel, and the less said about the Ministry forces, the better.

    He stood and walked to the large map stuck to the side of his command room - he had a proper command room now, that the base was close to finished - and studied the marked positions of his and the enemy’s forces. His forces were wonderfully concentrated, while the enemy’s were dispersed, as far as he knew. Potter’s night attack on Diagon Alley had, as expected, drawn even more attention and patrols to that area. Quite a success for dropping leaflets most would vanish without reading them.

    But that alone didn’t explain why no one had attacked The Burrow yet. Didn’t they know that the longer they waited, the stronger Gellert’s forces would grow? His Storm Wizards had doubled in numbers since his arrival in Britain. Were they counting on the French sending even more Gendarmes? Not with Prussia voicing their concern about this escalation every second day, and half of Germany mobilising their troops in case the French wanted to ‘support’ them. Granted, apart from Bavaria, the other German countries wouldn’t even be speedbumps for the French, but invading them would certainly cause Prussia to intervene, and with Scandinavia watching closely… No, he didn’t think that the French would send too many Gendarmes to Britain.

    Perhaps the British Ministry was keeping the French in the dark about the true power of Gellert’s forces? Voldemort had tried to portray the massacre of his Death Eaters as an ambush of Aurors, but the French were supposed to be too smart to fall for that; they had managed to stop him, after all. Maybe he should ask Bill’s wife to pass some information to her French relatives…

    “Meister Grindelwald!”

    He whirled around and faced the Storm Wizard who had just entered. “Are we under attack?” His wand appeared in his hand. Had the enemy finally decided to act and give battle? Would he be able to take the next step towards victory over Voldemort?

    “Ah, no, Meister Grindelwald. You have a visitor. A journalist.”

    A journalist?

    “She wants to do an interview, or so she said,” Karl - that was his name, Gellert was pretty certain - went on.

    An interview. It had been… when was the last time he had given an interview? 1942? Did it count if it was an assassination attempt by desperate Bavarian purebloods? Apropos… “I assume she has been searched.”

    “Yes. Hans took care of that personally.”

    Ah. Everything was alright, then. He nodded. “Very well. I will meet this journalist. What’s her name? It’s not Skeeter, is it?” He had a bone to pick with that witch.

    “No, Meister. It’s Lovegood. Luna Lovegood.”

    The blonde girl Karl led to his command room a few minutes later looked rather young for a journalist, in Gellert’s opinion.

    “Hello, Mister Grindelwald! Thank you very much for agreeing to give me an interview!” She beamed at him.

    She had obviously the right attitude, though - friendly and fearless. He nodded. “Hello. Please have a seat.” He conjured a comfortable armchair for her.

    She smiled. “Thank you. I hope it is not too heavy to carry.”

    He blinked, then decided to ignore that. As if he’d carry a seat if he could levitate it instead. He was a wizard, not a muggle! “For which newspaper are you working?”

    “I’m writing for The Quibbler. You may have heard of it.”

    The Quibbler. He nodded. “I have heard of it indeed, and only good things.” Albus had mentioned it once, saying that the Quibbler had a truly unique view of the world. Since it was apparent just how removed from reality the Daily Prophet’s articles were, that had to mean that The Quibbler was the only honourable newspaper - magazine - in Britain.

    Her smile grew even wider. “I’m so happy to hear that. Some people say the nastiest things about our magazine.”

    He sighed. “I can imagine. They say the nastiest things about me, too.” Many of them justified, of course. If only they would realise that he wasn’t the wizard who had conquered half of Europe any more. But then, this was his chance to tell the world - or at least Britain - that he had changed!

    “Oh. How tragic.”

    He nodded. “So, what do you wish to ask me?”

    “Ah!” She pulled out an oversized notepad. “I’ve prepared a list of questions our readers are dying to get answered.”

    “Not literally, I hope?” He quickly asked.

    She blinked, slowly, then shook her head. “No, not that I know of. How would that work, anyway?”

    “Well, there’s a blood magic ritual that allows you to ask the recently dead questions.” Limited questions, though - he had lost a number of prisoners before he had realised that killing them for the ritual was yielding less information than traditional torture.

    “That sounds rather inconvenient.”

    He nodded. “Bloody, too. But your questions?”

    She nodded with a very serious expression. Gellert prepared himself.

    “What’s your stance on the Snorkack controversy?”

    He had no idea what that was. He sighed. “I have to admit that I am not aware of that - I spent the last fifty years in prison.”

    “Ah!” She scribbled on her notebook. “That explains your ignorance of this important topic. It’s not your fault, though,” she added with a smile.

    “Thank you.” It was good to see a member of the press who was so understanding.

    “So… Is it true that you have enslaved the Boy-Who-Lived to gain the secret behind his defeat of the Dark Lord?”

    “What?” He shook his head. “That is completely wrong! I have come to Britain to save him from Voldemort - in accordance with Albus’s last wishes.”

    “Oh. You knew Albus Dumbledore?” She looked at him with wide eyes.

    Hs duel with Albus was world famous, so she probably meant on a personal level. He nodded. “He was my best friend, despite our… differences. But we grew closer again after those were settled.”

    “Oh.” She scribbled his answer down. “And he sent you to Britain to save Harry?”

    “Harry and everyone else that this so-called Dark Lord or his willing helpers threaten.” He scoffed. “And I’m not alone. Many of my old comrades have followed me, lending me their wands for this task. Together, we will crush Voldemort, his Death Eaters and anyone else who supports him!”

    “Does that include the Ministry?”

    He nodded sharply. “It definitely includes the Ministry. Their persecution of muggleborns makes it obvious that it is under Voldemort’s control.”

    “And this was Dumbledore’s plan as well?”

    “Most certainly. He arranged all of this. Albus was such an extraordinary man… I owe him so much. Without him, I would still be trying to conquer Europe for the Greater Good.”

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 11th, 1997

    Harry Potter was on his last lap around the pond, about to finish his morning run, when he noticed a blonde witch watching him. “Luna?”

    “Harry!” She waved. “And Ron, Ginny and Hermione!”

    For a moment, he slowed down. Then he saw Hans staring at him, and sped up again. “I’ll be right back!” he yelled as he ran up the slope.

    He couldn’t talk to Luna anyway if Hans hexed him into a puddle. And he would. The Prussian didn’t tolerate ‘disobedience’. Even so, Harry’s slowing down earned him twenty pushups. He was on his seventeenth when Luna arrived, cocking her head as she stared at him.

    “Are you trying to trick a Silver Mole into coming out during the day?”

    “No,” he answered. Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty.

    He rolled on his back, then sat up. “What are you doing here?”

    “Another interview?” Ginny asked.

    “No!” she beamed. “That was already printed. Look!” She held up a copy of The Quibbler - a special edition.

    Harry glanced at the headline and gaped.

    Dumbledore behind Grindelwald! Attack on the Ministry planned by Dumbledore according to Grindelwald!

    He reached for the magazine, but Hermione was quicker. She all but ripped it out of Luna’s hands.

    “The Aurors tried to arrest Daddy this morning!” Luna said, smiling widely.

    “What?”

    “Yes, for treason! Daddy is ecstatic!” She nodded, apparently happy.

    “What?” Harry repeated himself.

    “He always dreamed of being hunted by a corrupt government while he published the truth about their crimes and shady dealings! He’s been preparing his underground press for years! Only capturing a Snorkack could make him happier!”

    Harry glanced at Ginny, who smiled weakly. Hermione was still reading The Quibbler, with Ron reading over her shoulder. “That’s.... great I guess?” Harry said.

    “It is, isn’t it? He got to use our escape tunnel, too, while the Aurors fruitlessly searched our home!”

    “But what will you be doing?” Ginny asked. “If your home was ransacked.”

    “Oh, I’ll be an embedded journalist in Grindelwald’s crusade,” Luna chirped. “I’ve already prepared my robes, see?” She reached into her bag and pulled out a familiar-looking leather coat. It was nearly identical to the ones Harry and his friends wore, except for The Quibbler’s logo on the back where theirs showed Grindelwald’s symbol.

    Harry was about to tell her that this was a really bad idea - Hans would rip her apart for wearing a Storm Wizard coat - when he heard explosions in the distance. “The Ministry’s attacking!” he blurted out. “We need to get back!”

    “Oh, perfect timing!” Luna said, beaming. “I’ve just started, and there’s already a battle!”

    *****​

    “Meister Grindelwald! We’re under attack!”

    “I’ve noticed,” Gellert said as he strode into his command room. “Report!” he barked at Hans.

    “They’re focusing on the decoy building, trying to overwhelm the wards,” Hans said. “Magical travel has been blocked already.”

    That was to be expected. “Curse-Breakers?” Gellert asked. You needed specialists to take down wards, but they were very vulnerable while working.

    “We haven’t found them yet, Meister. A perimeter check is in progress!”

    He nodded. Curse-Breakers had to be close to deal with wards. But since the Weasleys had expanded the wards to cover a large area, the enemy might be able to finish taking the wards down before their Curse-Breakers were found.

    But he had been expecting such a situation. “Hans, take half our Storm Wizards and go out through the southern tunnel! Be ready to roll up their flank.”

    “Meister!” Hans saluted and rushed out.

    Gellert waited until Hans had gone before addressing the others in the room. “Take your positions. Be ready to fight as soon as the wards go down. You’ll be the anvil for Hans’s hammer.” He raised his wand. “I’ll be joining the Weasleys in the decoy house.”

    They would be the bait.

    *****​
     
  12. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    I do hope Molly moved all their belongings downstairs into the fortress.

    Also gods damn Luna, you're deliriously awesome, but that article could have been written better.
     
  13. Silvercrystal

    Silvercrystal "Dragon? Where! ... Oh you mean me"

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    But it wouldnt be Luna’s brand of Lunainescence if it wasn’t so on the nose :D
     
    Prince Charon and Starfox5 like this.
  14. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    That wasn't needed - she could carry everything in a shoebox according to Malfoy :p

    :p

    This Gellert and Luna have one thing in common: Both have a particular relationship with reality, influenced by the most important person in their lives (Albus resp. Xenophilus).
     
  15. Threadmarks: Chapter 4: Hogwarts
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 4: Hogwarts

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 11th, 1997

    Harry Potter was leading his friends towards The Burrow in a run - Apparition had been blocked by the attackers - when he noticed movement in the woods to his right side, less than a hundred yards away. “Take cover!” he yelled, dropping behind the next trunk left from some curse practice. He studied the woods, looking for enemies, when a yelp behind him made him whirl around, wand flashing. Had someone flanked them?

    No. Ginny had tackled Luna to the ground and was dragging her behind a rock. He should have remembered that Luna hadn’t been trained by Hans and wouldn’t know how to react! Harry clenched his teeth at his own stupidity as he turned his attention back to the treeline - and the wardline, he realised.

    “I’ve found them! Behind the large oak with the split trunk!” Hermione yelled - she had her Omnioculars out, Harry noticed. He took a closer look at the tree she indicated and saw a grey-robed wizard hiding behind it. And more movement nearby, in the undergrowth. More grey glimpses.

    Ministry Hit-Wizards.They weren’t disillusioned. Hans had said that on a real battlefield, using Disillusionment Charms was just an invitation for friendly fire, but on the approach, and in front of a wardline, that wasn’t a concern until a battle had started.

    The enemy was too far away for precise spellcasting. A little far even for Blasting Curses.

    “Down, Luna!”

    “But I have to see what’s going on!”

    “I said down! You’ll get cursed!”

    “The wards are still up; they can’t curse me.”

    “But I can curse you if you don’t stay behind cover!”

    “Cut the chatter!” Harry yelled over his shoulder. “As soon as the wards go down, we’ve got an enemy charge to deal with. Probably broom flyers, too,” he added.

    “Can’t see anything in the sky,” Ron yelled back. “Not even hints of shafts. They must be staying on the ground for now - or they are too afraid of attacking on brooms after Privet Drive.”

    Harry saw the air flicker in front of the trees. The wards were failing. And quickly. They were still far from the Burrow or the closest entrance to the underground base. They wouldn’t make it before the wards fell - especially Luna - and would end up caught in the open. Dead meat for the attackers, especially if they had support on brooms. And they couldn’t stay here either - even if they managed to keep broom riders at bay, they would be outflanked rapidly.

    He licked his lips. There was only one option. The enemy wouldn’t expect that. Not British Hit-Wizards, at least. He remembered what Napoleon had said according to Hermione: ‘The morale is to the physical as three is to one.’ Well, they’d find out of Napoleon was correct. “We charge them on three!” he yelled. “One!”

    “Me too?” Luna. Of course.

    “Two!”

    “Just follow me!” he heard Ginny yell.

    “Three!”

    Harry jumped up and started to run towards the wardline. Another, longer flicker of the wards briefly obscured his view of the trees behind it. And of the Hit-Wizards hiding there.

    Fifty yards. He sensed more than saw his friends form a line with him as he flicked his wand an sent a Blasting Curse towards the treeline, blowing up a tree and some bushes. Three more explosions followed, throwing up a cloud of dust. Another tree toppled.

    Forty yards. He started screaming, jumping over a fallen tree, and cast another Blasting Curse, together with his friends. The dust from the earlier blasts had barely started to settle, and more was thrown up. Was that a body?

    Thirty yards. His friends were screaming as well. Even Luna, though she sounded more like she was squealing. The next salvo of curses hit at the same time and decimated the treeline. Spells flew at them from the trees but splashed against the wards.

    Twenty yards. Another flicker, longer. A flash. And a crackling sound. The wards were down. And the treeline had disappeared in a cloud of smoke and dust.

    Ten yards. Curses flew at them through the smoke cloud - unaimed, not even coming close. Harry saw someone appear in the smoke. Grey robes. His Cutting Curse left a red line from hip to shoulder just as a Reductor Curse blew the witch’s head away. Another Hit-Wizard appeared, wand flashing towards Harry. His curse went wide. Harry’s Bludgeoning Curse smashed the wizard’s Shield Charm and doubled him over. His next Bludgeoning Curse hit the man’s head with a sickening crack. The Hit-Wizard fell.

    And Harry entered the cloud of smoke obscuring the treeline. Someone was yelling in front of him. “Hold the line! Hold the Line! Hold the LiARGH!” Harry saw a man on the ground as he closed with the trees, holding his bleeding stomach. The man raised his wand, but Harry was faster. His Cutting Curse sliced the man’s lower arm off.

    Harry tried to ignore the screaming as he dashed around the first trees which were still standing. Something moved to his side, and he raised his wand before he recognised the black robes. Ron! A curse missed him by inches, and he whirled around. Another curse splashed against his shield. There! A witch in grey robes, ducking behind a tree.

    Harry snarled and hit the tree with a Blasting Curse. It disappeared in a cloud of splinters that pelted his shield as he moved to flank the witch - only to find that her shield hadn’t stopped the splinters - the tree fragments had shredded her.

    “Merlin’s Beard!” he heard someone scream to his left. “They’re behind us!”

    “Stand and fight!” another. “Stand and Fight!”

    As he dashed from tree to tree, towards the location of those vices, he heard another one.
    “Attacke! Los! Los! Auf sie mit Gebrüll!” Hermione shouted.

    “Storm Wizards!”

    “God damn it, hold the line! Don’t panic!”

    Harry broke through a dense patch of underbrush and found himself in the middle of three Hit-Wizards. He flipped his wand to point at the ground and cast a Blasting Curse. The force of the explosion threw him back into the bushes and shattered his Shield Charm. Rolling to the side, he recast it, then dashed forward. Only one of the Hit-Wizard was still standing - and she was staggering. Harry flicked his wand, and the witch dropped hers. “Please! I surrender!”

    He hesitated a moment, then stunned her and turned right. There had to be more of the enemies still fighting. But he didn’t see any.

    There! No, that was Ron, covered with dirt and dust, but looking fine otherwise. And Harry heard Hermione a little away, still screaming German battle cries. Or curses. He couldn’t tell. But he knew that they needed to close ranks - they were isolated, and if the enemy managed to rally, they’d be overrun. But he had forgotten to declare a rally spot.

    Harry pointed his wand at his throat and cast an Amplifying Charm. “Kampfgruppe Potter, rally at the Snogging Spot! Rally at the Snogging Spot!”

    Ron snorted. “Snogging Spot?”

    Harry shrugged. “I’m sure the enemy won’t know where that is. Let’s go!”

    *****​

    Gellert Grindelwald glanced at the wardline as he walked from the shed to the decoy house. The wards would hold for a few more minutes at most. That couldn’t be helped - they covered too much ground to be strong enough to repel a determined attack. Another reason for doing away with the Statute of Secrecy - if they wouldn’t have to cover the Quidditch Pitch and the entire area between it and the house to hide from muggles, the Weasleys could have put up far stronger wards around The Burrow. No, Gellert reminded himself, he couldn’t blame the muggles for this. Albus had said so. So, if the muggles weren’t at fault, then it must be the fault of the British Ministry for Magic. If they hadn’t banned blood magic, then the Weasleys could have put up strong wards covering their entire property!

    He entered the building through the kitchen and found the Weasleys busy panicking, or something similar to that. Mr and Mrs Weasley were in the living room, yelling as far as he could tell, while their children and the French witch were casting spells at the doors and windows and walls.

    “You!” Mrs Weasley rounded on him. “Where are Ginny and Ron? Where are my children?”

    Those were the two Weasleys involved with Potter, Gellert knew. But where were they? Usually, they would be training at this time of the day, but they were in the middle of an attack, and Hans was leading half their forces to flank the enemy, so he wasn’t training them. Unless Hans was using the opportunity to let the kids get some combat experience. Ah, Hans - so thoughtful.

    “Where are they?”

    Gellert had the impression that telling the witch that her children were about to roll up the enemies outside would not help her focus on more important things, such as killing her enemies. It was very illogical, but witches tended to be emotional. Albus had agreed with him about that, in their youth. But he knew how to handle such a situation. “Don’t worry, Mrs Weasley, your children will be fine. We will hold the line here, and Hans will hit the enemy from behind. No one will escape to threaten your family.”

    “Where are they?”

    For some reason, Mrs Weasley suddenly reminded him of Katrina. Only that Katrina would never look at him like that. It wasn’t Gellert’s fault, anyway, that the kids weren’t where they should be - wherever that was; he wasn’t responsible for them; that was Hans’s job.

    Fortunately, the wards broke down just then, and he had an excuse to postpone further explanations. Namely, the need to kill French.

    A few steps took him to the front window while something - probably the roof - exploded above him. There! The French Gendarmes where charging across the field, coming straight at him. Like fifty years ago. They were even screaming the same battle cries - “Vive le Duc! Vive la France!”

    The left half of the living room blew up, but his Shield Charm easily deflected the force of the explosion. He hoped that the Weasleys hadn’t forgotten to shield themselves, but he couldn’t afford to worry about them. Not when three dozen French demanded his attention. He stepped out from the house - or what was left of it - and swung the Elder Wand in a wide arc, lines of fire whipping through the air - and cutting through the front rank of the French, Literally. He grinned as he conjured a concrete wall to absorb the surviving Gendarmes’ retaliation. Albus had never acknowledged that Gellert’s Fire-Cat-of-Nine-Tails Spell was superior to his Fire-Whip Spell. It was even more British, too.

    The concrete wall crumbled and Gellert replaced it - while disillusioning himself and falling back. Reckless the French might be, and brave to the point of stupidity, but - some rumours to the contrary - they weren’t actually stupid; they wouldn’t let a wall stop them for long.

    As expected, fire engulfed the entire wall, breaking over it and splashing on the ground behind it. And more Gendarmes were flanking the wall on both sides. Perfect. He flanked the flankers on his side - and had to suppress another urge to cast the Killing Curse. Ah well - he should have expected this. After fifty years in Albus’s hand, the poor wand must be starved for some dark curses. He was happy to oblige it - as long as the curses were tactically sound. Which the Killing Curse wasn’t right now.

    He flicked the Elder Wand and conjured a black cloud in the middle of the closest French. Their screams didn’t last long - when all of the moisture in one’s body was sucked out by a dark curse, people tended to die quickly. Or at least lose their voices quickly - they might actually last a little longer than that.

    He saw curses flash towards the French from the other side, and from the house. And behind him, Storm Wizards were taking up their positions along the base entrance. The anvil was forming. Good.

    He stopped a few more curses sent his ways with a conjured metal shield - they had spotted him quickly - and vanished the cloud with his next spell. It was near the house, and the Weasleys were close enough to French - one had even married one - that them charging into the cloud was a possibility. Accidentally killing your allies would be embarrassing.

    The sight of the desiccated corpses his curse had left gave even the French pause. Not for long, of course - they were stubborn like that. Most of the British wizards would have broken already. But just as they were rallying, Gellert saw something fly out of the upper floors of the decoy house, and several black clouds appeared on the battlefield.

    He blinked. Had Albus taught dark curses to his Order? That was more pragmatic than he had expected - Albus had always been on his case for using dark curses, despite their efficiency. Then he realised that those weren’t curses, but something else.

    The French, however, lacked his experience in the Dark Arts and faltered again.

    And that was when Hans hit them from behind and sealed their fate. Caught between what they mistakenly thought were more Dark Drought Clouds and two dozen charging Storm Wizards, the French broke. Some stayed and fought, others fled, most died anyway.

    Gellert smiled as he sent a Killing Curse at a fleeing Gendarme, hitting the witch in the back.

    It really felt like old times.

    *****​

    “Good work, Hans,” Gellert Grindelwald said, stepping over the bisected body of a Gendarme and around parts of the roof of the decoy house that had been blown this far. He glanced back at the remains of the house. Two and a half floors had survived the battle. And the Weasleys wanted to rebuild it. As stubborn as the French!

    “Meister Grindelwald!” Hans struck his heels together and stood at attention. “We just did our duty.”

    “How many casualties did we take?” Despite the perfect plan and setup, there always were some who simply were unlucky or stupid.

    “Two were killed when dealing with the flanking force of the enemy. One more when we attacked the main force. Half a dozen wounded.”

    “Two?” Gellert frowned. Hans’s force must have outnumbered the flankers of the enemy by a considerable margin. They should have wiped them out without trouble.

    “They ran ahead of our line.”

    “Ah.” That explained it. “Were they new recruits?” Veterans would have known better than to rush ahead. That wasn’t conductive to surviving a battle.

    “Yes.” Hans scowled. “Katrina didn’t train them well enough.”

    Gellert chuckled. It wouldn’t do to remind Hans that even his Storm Wizards sometimes were too French. Then he blinked. “That reminds me - where are Potter and his group?”

    Hans frowned. “They should have reported to the base. That are standing orders when under attack.”

    “Ah.” As Gellert had thought. Potter and his friends were… walking towards him from the northern flank? And there were five of them, not four. He turned to Hans. “You didn’t recruit another kid without telling me, did you?”

    “No, Meister Grindelwald!” Hans barked. He narrowed his eyes. “That’s the journalist, Meister.”

    Gellert squinted. Yes, the fifth figure looked like that charming young journalist. But why was she wearing the coat of a Storm Wizard? “We did forbid the ranks to bet their coats when gambling, didn’t we?”

    “Yes, Meister Grindelwald.”

    What was his policy about looting the dead, if they were his own, again? Waste not, want not was a good rule to live by, but did that count for journalists?

    He was still pondering that when Potter saluted. “Kampfgruppe Potter, reporting. We were caught in the open on our way back by a flanking force. We attacked and routed them when the wards fell.”

    So they hadn’t actually made it to the base. Gellert nodded, smiling. Another mystery solved. “Hans, tell Mrs Weasley that her children are safe.”

    “Hello, Mr Grindelwald!” The blonde journalist was waving at him.

    “Hello, Miss… Lovegood, was it?”

    She beamed at him. “Exactly!”

    “You seem to be wearing a Storm Wizard coat.”

    She nodded several times. “That’s because I’m an embedded journalist. And it’s not a Storm Wizard coat, look!” She turned around, and he saw that the symbol on the back wasn’t his sigil, but The Quibbler’s logo.

    He had no idea what an embedded journalist was, but everything seemed to be in order. “Very good, miss.” He nodded.

    “And I’ve brought you a personal copy of the special edition of The Quibbler with your interview!” She held out a slightly battered copy of a magazine to him. “It got a little damaged when Ginny tackled me, though,” she added with a pout and a glance at the female Weasley.

    He frowned at the redheaded girl. “No roughhousing in battle! There’s a time and place for that sort of thing, and it’s not when curses fly over the battlefield.” Really, he and Albus had never made such a spectacle. Of course, when they had met on the battlefield, they had been fighting each other, and they hadn’t been a couple any more, but the point still stood.

    The female Weasley was saying something about curses, but he wasn’t really listening. Of course, there were curses, and anyone sane would take cover, really. He was reading the magazine. Potter was saying something about Miss Lovegood being young and special - that much was obvious to anyone with a brain, so Gellert ignored the boy as well.

    Dumbledore behind Grindelwald! Attack on the Ministry planned by Dumbledore according to Grindelwald!

    Yes, he could already see from the headline alone that Miss Lovegood was one of the rare honest and professional journalists who wouldn’t twist his words to sell more issues!

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 12th, 1997

    “He’s crazy. You heard what he told Luna: She wrote exactly what he said!” Harry Potter shook his head as he paced in the tent serving as their new quarters until The Burrow was rebuilt. “He thinks Dumbledore is behind all of his actions!” He should have realised this long before yesterday. Sirius had been unstable after a mere ten years in prison, and Grindelwald had spent fifty in prison. Granted, he hadn’t had to deal with Dementors, but fifty years?

    He looked at Ginny, Hermione and Ron. Ginny was nodding. But his friends...

    Hermione cleared her throat, and Harry frowned. He knew the expression she wore right now. That was her face when she disagreed with him. “Well, is he really crazy?”

    “He thinks Dumbledore planned his breakout from prison! And wanted Voldemort to take over the Ministry!” Harry exclaimed. “How isn’t that crazy?”

    “As crazy as sending three students to hunt Voldemort’s Horcruxes?” Hermione countered. “Without any support? And what about the things he left us in his will? If he wanted us to have them, wouldn’t he have given them to us before he died so that the Ministry couldn’t confiscate them?”

    “And if he truly cared about saving the Ministry, wouldn’t he have become Minister long ago?” Ron was supporting his girlfriend, of course.

    Harry shook his head again. “There’s the prophecy. And my blood protection. I, we are the best choice for this mission.”

    “That doesn’t mean that he hadn’t wanted Grindelwald to come help us,” Hermione pointed out. She raised her chin. “I’ve researched him - he was a steadfast fighter for equality among wizards and witches. Even when all of Europe opposed him, he remained firmly committed to that policy. And he promoted rights for magical creatures, too!”

    Harry looked over the rim of his glasses at her. “He also as responsible for the greatest atrocities in Magical Europe since the Thirty Years War.”

    She pouted. “Well, yes, but he said that he had changed. That Dumbledore managed to reform him.”

    “I still don’t think Dumbledore wanted him to break out but didn’t tell him,” Harry said, sitting down at their table.

    “Mate, Dumbledore took how long to tell you about your protection and the prophecy?” Ron shook his head. “And do you remember our first year? This wouldn’t be Dumbledore’s craziest plan.”

    Harry pressed his lips together. His friends had a point, but still… “Doesn’t it bother you that we’re following a man who’s all but worshipping Dumbledore?”

    Ron shook his head. “Not at all.”

    “As long as he keeps fighting Voldemort and works towards toppling his regime, and save the muggleborns, I’m fine with that,” Hermione said. “Dumbledore was more than a little eccentric, and we followed him, didn’t we?”

    Even Ginny nodded.

    “And what alternative do we have?” Ron asked. “The Order’s not exactly helpful. Didn’t see anyone of them coming to save The Burrow.”

    “To be fair, they probably didn’t hear about this in time,” Hermione said.

    “And he didn’t save The Burrow either,” Ginny said. “It’s half-destroyed.”

    “Still, he and his Storm Wizards defeated first the Death Eaters, and now the Ministry forces and the French.” Ron shrugged. “Could do worse.”

    Harry sighed. He and his friends had also fought. And killed. He hadn’t really slept well, despite sharing the bed with Ginny for the entire night - since they had a tent for themselves, they didn’t have to worry about her parents checking up on them. But Ron and Hermione were right - there was no alternative to Grindelwald. Not with the French supporting the Ministry controlled by Voldemort.

    A chime sounded. That someone wanted to visit. Harry stepped up to the entrance. “Yes?”

    “It’s me! Can I come in?”

    Luna. Harry sighed, then tapped the flap with his wand, unsealing it.

    A moment later, Luna’s head appeared, sticking through the gap. She looked around, smiled, then entered. “Good! I didn’t want to barge in if you were having sex.”

    Harry gasped. “Luna!”

    “We wouldn’t have let you inside in that case,” Ginny said.

    “Well, better safe than sorry!” Luna held up a bundle of newspapers. “I brought news! And propaganda and lies! The very first issue of the underground edition of The Quibbler! And the Daily Prophet, in case you need more toilet paper.” She beamed as she spread the newspapers and magazines on the table.

    Harry took a glance at the Daily Prophet’s front page and winced.

    Boy-Who-Lived apprenticed to Grindelwald! French Gendarmes and British Hit-Wizards murdered by mudbloods and blood traitors!

    “They’re not really hiding their allegiance any more, are they?” Ron commented as Hermione started reading.

    “Of course not!” Luna said. “It would be pointless when The Underground Quibbler exposes it all!”

    Indeed, Harry noticed, The Quibbler’s title had changed. It now read ‘The Underground Quibbler - Voice of Freedom’. He was more concerned about the headline, though.

    Kampfgruppe Potter in action - Boy-Who-Lived leads Storm Wizards!

    And of course the picture beneath it, showing him and his friends taking cover behind rocks. With their Storm Wizard coats clearly visible.

    Luna beamed at him. “See? The Prophet will have to admit that you’re fully behind Grindelwald’s Crusade!”

    Harry forced himself to smile.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 14th, 1997

    “...and according to my contacts in the Corps, the Ministry has stopped all offensive actions and is focusing on protecting the Ministry itself, with minimal patrols in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.”

    Shacklebolt obviously was a wizard born for war, Gellert Grindelwald thought. When he first met the Auror, in Potter’s former home, he had been scatterbrained and easily confused - barely able to follow a conversation. Now, though, with war having broken out on British soil, he was focused, clear and concise in his report to the Order of the Phoenix. If only the man weren’t glaring at Gellert so much; it was as if he held a grudge against Gellert for some reason.

    And why was it the Order of the Phoenix? It should be the Order of the Weasleys, in Gellert’s opinion. He still hadn’t met many Order members who weren’t Weasleys. Albus probably had been hoping to expand the Order but hadn’t had the time to do so, or he would surely have named it the Order of the Weasleys. Gellert also suspected that there was a prophecy in play here as well - seven kids? That was a magical number! Of course, that was it! Albus had wanted to hide the fact that the Weasleys were crucial to his plans! The other Order members were camouflage!

    “With so many Hit-Wizards dead or captured, they are trying everything they can to recruit more, but that will take time. The Aurors have been called up to fulfil the missing Hit-Wizards duties, which has prevented them from conducting any more raids against muggleborns.”

    Useful camouflage, though, Gellert amended as Shacklebolt continued his report. That, too, was typical for Albus. His old love had been so efficient in everything he did!

    “Even less now, after a number of Auror patrols have been attacked in Knockturn Alley and even Diagon Alley,” the metamorphmagus with the weird name - who called their daughter ‘Tonks’? The poor witch must have had a horrible time at school - said. “This must be connected to the leaflets that urge the muggleborns to fight for their rights. Every few nights the Alleys are covered with them.”

    Hadn’t Potter’s other witch mentioned something about leaflets? Gellert dimly remembered her talking about warning the muggleborns or something. He had been busy planning the layout of his command room, so he hadn’t really been listening. In any case, leaflets weren’t really important.

    “What about the French?” The middle Weasley asked.

    Gellert hoped he hadn’t missed anything important. Probably not - meetings hadn’t changed in the last fifty years.

    “My sources didn’t hear anything concrete - they had not much contact to the Gendarmes,” Shacklebolt answered. “The Gendarmes are organised more like Hit-Wizards than Aurors.”

    Gellert nodded. Only the French would consider soldiers the best choice to enforce the law. Well, Magical Prussia did the same, but only because, for some unknown reason, they hadn’t rebuilt the Storm Wizards after Gellert’s defeat. Quite shortsighted, in his opinion - they wouldn’t have as much trouble with the French if they had a decent force of Storm Wizards.

    Mr Weasley spoke up. “I’ve been talking to some friends in the Ministry. The French are willing to send more Gendarmes, but only if they aren’t under the command of the Ministry. And the Ministry, of course, doesn’t want that.” He winced. “And both have appealed to the ICW for support.”

    Gellert scoffed. “The ICW won’t do anything unless the Statute of Secrecy is threatened.” And that wasn’t the case.

    Mr Weasley coughed. “They voiced their concern over the recent battle and the rising tensions between France and Prussia. Apparently, there’s a certain wariness towards, well, you.”

    “What?” Gellert shook his head. “Are they still going on about that? I’ve made my goals very very clear - I gave an interview, too - and they don’t include breaking the Statue of Secrecy!” He was a wizard of his word! And Albus wouldn’t have liked it if he broke the Statute.

    “They do not seem to put too much faith in that declaration,” the middle Weasley said.

    Gellert huffed. How was a wizard supposed to change if no one believed him? “In any case, the ICW is no concern. Even if they wanted to intervene, by the time they have sorted out who will actually do it, we’ll have finished Voldemort and the Ministry. Katrina informed me that recruitment in Prussia continues to rise and that many wizards and witches from the other German countries are joining our forces. Even some foreigners.”

    Strangely, though, the Order members didn’t seem to be pleased to hear such good news. They looked even worried, for some reason.

    “This could be bad,” Mr Weasley said. “If the Prussians fear a coup...”

    Ah, that. Gellert waved his hand. “Don’t worry. I’ve ordered Katrina to clear up things with Prussia. There won’t be any misunderstandings.” He could trust her - she wasn’t a witch to accept failure. He smiled widely. “And as soon as the latest batch of recruits has arrived and is settled in, we’ll be taking Hogwarts!”

    That didn’t seem to improve their mood either. You simply couldn’t please some people!

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, August 21st, 1997

    For being at war, things looked rather peaceful, in Harry Potter’s opinion. There hadn’t been any fights since the Battle of The Burrow. The Aurors and Hit-Wizards were supposedly rebuilding and recruiting, but so far, all they seemed to be doing was hiding in the Ministry with the rest of Voldemort’s supporters. And the French were still refusing to send more Gendarmes until the Ministry gave them carte blanche.

    Not that the Storm Wizards were doing much better - they were once again spending every day training under the not so tender attentions of Hans the Horrible. If not for the nightly visits to Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley, Harry would even feel bored.

    At least The Burrow had been rebuilt - just as it had been before, to Grindelwald’s vocal surprise. The Weasleys had even replaced their ghoul, the only casualty of the family during the Battle. Which meant that Ginny and Ron were swapping beds at night again. Everyone missed staying in a wizarding tent.

    He leaned back against the tree stump and looked at the Storm Wizards struggling on that slope he knew so well, shaking his head when he saw one of them collapse.

    “We’re actually not bad,” Ginny, leaning into his left side, said. “Not compared to them,” She pointed at the recruits. “No matter what Hans says.”

    Harry nodded. Of course, he had realised that they weren’t ‘hopeless slackers who couldn’t beat a flobberworm’, as Hermione had translated, when he and his friends had beaten the attacking Hit-Wizards. Killed them, he thought, wincing at the memories of the carnage. But it was one thing to fight a battle, and another to see new recruits doing much, much worse than he had done in their place.

    And to be able to call himself a veteran when talking to other Storm Wizards felt good, too.

    “There you are!”

    He looked up and saw Luna approaching them. The blonde witch had become a sort of honorary Storm Witch in the past week. This was partially thanks to Grindelwald’s obvious respect for her, and partially because she had spent the entire battle with a camera in hand, snapping pictures while curses flew by.

    Harry didn’t think that that was normal or healthy, but Luna claimed it was normal for war reporters, and since she was an embedded journalist at war, it was normal for her as well. And he knew better than to argue with Luna. Hermione had tried it and learned her lesson as well.

    “Here! The latest issue!” She pushed a magazine in his hand and one into Ginny’s. “With the recent influx of Prussian recruits, we have increased the number of copies again!” She beamed. “Mister Grindelwald said that it was a good way to teach them English! Even with all the free issues we’re dropping on Diagon Alley, we’re selling more than ever before!”

    Harry looked at the headline. “Magical Snake killed while trying to impersonate old witch?”

    Luna nodded. “There was an explosion in Godric’s Hollow. Daddy investigated and found the remains of several Death Eaters and one huge snake of a previously unknown species. He concluded that Voldemort had been trying to replace Mister Grindelwald’s great-aunt with the snake to lure him into a trap. One of the next issues will cover this new species’s habitat and life cycle. He’s calling it a Puppeteering Serpent.”

    Harry kept smiling and nodding, but it was obvious that this article was far removed from what had actually happened in Godric’s Hollow.

    *****​

    Hogsmeade, September 1st, 1997

    A secret tunnel that connected Hogwarts with the Honeydukes Sweetshop? Albus must have created that one personally! He had such a sweet tooth! Gellert Grindelwald chuckled as he followed Potter and his friends into the basement of the shop while Hans and his men took care of any witnesses with a barrage of Obliviations.

    “I still say we should have taken the passage in the Hog’s Head Inn. We wouldn’t have to obliviate half of Hogsmeade,” he heard Potter mutter.

    The boy wasn’t wrong. But the Hog’s Head Inn was owned and run by Albus’s brother. And Gellert knew that a wizard who hadn’t even found it in himself to forgive Albus - the man’s own brother and the greatest wizard and most noble soul Gellert had ever known - would be more trouble than a few dozen villagers. And contrary to most British wizards, Aberforth could wield his wand very competently. Not as well as Albus, of course. Not even close. But Gellert would rather deal with a squad of Aurors than Aberforth, and not because he still felt guilty about his most tragic mistake. If only he hadn’t lost his temper… Ariana wouldn’t have died, Aberforth would have found someone else to hate, probably a goat, Albus wouldn’t have been broken, they would have stayed together…

    “Meister Grindelwald?”

    Ah, he had been woolgathering in the middle of the tunnel. How embarrassing. “Sorry. I just went over the plan again,” Gellert lied.

    Potter nodded, even though the plan wasn’t really complicated. Sneak into Hogwarts through a secret passage - another sign that Albus had planned all of this. Why else wouldn’t he have closed off all of those passages? - hours before the first students arrived. Overpower the teachers and anyone else present - probably a few Aurors and Hit-Wizards - and take control of the school.

    Child’s play for a few dozen Storm Wizards.

    He reminded himself that he couldn’t afford to underestimate his enemies. They were facing Albus’s murderer. It might have been done by foul treachery, cursing Albus in the back when he already was at his weakest due to that ugly curse, but this Snape was obviously willing to do anything.

    It wouldn’t help him.

    “We’re here,” Potter whispered. “Third floor. No one is around.”

    “Open it,” Gellert ordered, “but let me pass first.” Potter knew the school, but Gellert was the more experienced wizard.

    Potter whispered the password - ‘Dissendium’; Gellert took note - and the wall in front of them changed into… a steep slide? Gellert frowned at the boy.

    “Ah… it’s easy to climb?”

    Gellert shook his head. Stepping foot into Albus’s school for the first time should have been an impressive gesture. Doing so by climbing up a slide wasn’t impressive. He blinked. Of course! Albus had arranged that to help Gellert stay humble right before he entered Hogwarts. He sighed with a smile. His love had been a genius indeed and had known him so well!

    Ignoring the whispering behind him, he quickly climbed up the slide with the help of a few transfigurations.

    He found himself in a deserted corridor - on the third floor, as Potter had told him. He couldn’t detect anyone nearby, nor any traps or curses. Behind him, Potter and his friends climbed out from under the ugly statue that hid the passage, followed by Hans and the rest of the Storm Wizards with him.

    Potter and his group bent over some parchment - a magical map of the school, an heirloom if Gellert had correctly understood the slightly chaotic explanation the group had given. The kid’s ancestors must have been teachers - why else would anyone create a magical map of a school?

    “McGonagall is in her quarters, same as Slughorn, Flitwick and Sprout,” Potter announced. “There are two Death Eaters - Alecto and Amycus Carrow; they were there when Dumbledore was murdered - in the Defence Teacher’s quarters. Vector is in the kitchens, with Sinistra. Filch is in the courtyard.” He sneered. “And Snape’s in the Headmaster’s office.”

    “Lead us there,” Gellert said, clenching his teeth. Albus’s murderer would pay!

    “I’ll show you the teachers quarters,” Potter’s muggleborn witch said.

    “And I’ll lead you to the kitchen,” the male Weasley offered.

    “I guess that leaves Filch for me,” the female Weasley sighed.

    The Storm Wizards split off, and Gellert followed Potter to some ugly Gargoyle. The statue moved to the side as soon as they approached it, and the boy stopped.

    “I haven’t given the password yet,” he whispered. “Something’s wrong.”

    A trap? Gellert looked around.

    “There’s no one near,” Potter said. “Snape’s alone in the office.”

    That didn’t mean anything. The stairs could be cursed and trapped. They probably were - Albus likely had defences in place. Gellert certainly would have had them, in his place. He looked up. It shouldn’t be too hard to blow a hole in the ceiling, and then into the walls.

    “Oh for heaven’s sake!” a voice sounded from the Gargoyle. “I’m coming down before you blow something up in your frantic haste, Potter.”

    “Snape,” Potter whispered. Gellert had suspected, but it was nice to have it confirmed. Cursing the wrong wizard would be embarrassing.

    Half a minute later, an ugly man with an uglier nose but elegant black robes appeared on the stairs. “Potter,” he spat, before turning to Geller. “Mr Grindelwald, I presume.” He seemed to ignore the two wands aimed at him.

    “And you’re Snape. Albus’s murderer,” Gellert said, surprising himself with his self-control. He wanted to curse this foul excuse for a human being who had murdered the greatest wizard he had ever known. But he couldn’t act rashly - it wouldn’t do to kill the man by mistake before he was begging to die.

    “Is that what Potter told you?” The man sneered. He was remarkably calm in Gellert’s presence. People who had angered him less were usually shaking in their boots when he laid eyes upon them. “I should have assumed that Potter was too much of a dunderhead to realise what happened.” He shook his head.

    “You murdered him! He begged for help, and you murdered him!” Potter snarled. “I was there! I saw everything!”

    The man had the gall to roll his eyes. “You saw what Albus wanted you to see. It was all his plan.”

    Gellert blinked. Of course, it was all Albus’s plan… normally. But his death? “Explain!”

    Instead of obeying, the man turned to Potter. “Watch if anyone approaches us. This cannot get out.”

    Gellert quickly cast a privacy charm. “Talk!” He was thinking of a few curses to help the man along, should he continue to stall. As if any reinforcements could go through two dozens of his Storm Wizards before he showed Snape the error of attempting such a transparent ploy.

    “Albus was dying from a curse - which Potter knew. He hadn’t much time left, and he knew it. And he was in terrible pain. So he orchestrated his death at my hand, to make the Dark Lord trust me. I was his spy among the Death Eaters. Since the first war.”

    Potter was gaping at the wizard. Gellert had more self-control. He slowly nodded. This made sense. That was exactly what Albus would do - even in death, he would strike a blow at his enemies. But… this was exactly what a clever murderer who had spied on Albus would say. “You will have to prove the truth of your words,” Gellert said.

    “If I weren’t a spy for the Order I would have trapped the ’secret tunnel’ you used to gain access to Hogwarts. I could have had it flooded, or buried.”

    Gellert inclined his head. “That may be right, but it’s no proof.” He pulled out a vial from his pocket.

    “Veritaserum?” Potter asked.

    “Yes,” Gellert confirmed.

    “That won’t help.” The boy shook his head. “He’s a master at Occlumency.”

    That was a complication, but not a real problem. “Then I guess we’ll have to soften you up a little to reduce your ability to withstand the serum,” Gellert said. “Fortunately, one of my specialists for such a task survived the purges after my defeat.”

    Snape’s eyes widened right before Gellert hit him with a Full Body-Bind Curse. He caught the man with a Levitation Charm on his robes and turned to Potter. “Please show me the way to the dungeons.” When Potter looked confused, Gellert added: “Albus didn’t get rid of the torture chamber, did he?” His love had been a little soft on kids, but surely he would have kept the necessity of extracting information from captured enemies in mind!

    Potter gaped again, then blinked and finally smiled. “Oh, no. Filch has an office full of torture instruments!”

    Gellert smiled as well. Of course, Albus would have foreseen this! And if Snape had been telling the truth, then a little torture would only help his cover.

    *****​
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  16. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    This is definitely in the top 20 of the Harry Potter stories already. Did Snape know how much danger he was in when Gellert called him Albus's murderer?
     
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  17. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    He didn't realise just how close he came to getting cursed right away, but was aware he was on very thin ice, so to speak.
     
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  18. kingtaso01

    kingtaso01 Know what you're doing yet?

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    I don't know if I like more Harry enabling Grindenwald madness or Grindenwald believing he's doing the correct thing.
     
  19. Darth.

    Darth. I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Ron's going to be pissed he missed this :D
     
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  20. RinKaihou

    RinKaihou Lolice Officer

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    I had thought the HP fandom was no longer producing good stuff since everything just seemed to be an inferior version of an earlier story, a canon redux, weird ass AUs or just plain bad.

    This proved me wrong. Wonder how Albus is reacting to this in the afterlife
     
  21. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    With a hand on his face, and a lot of "Oh dear Merlin's", and "No Harry, stop encouraging him."
     
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  22. Threadmarks: Chapter 5: Diagon Alley
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 5: Diagon Alley

    Hogwarts, September 1st, 1997

    “Snape really was Dumbledore’s spy?” Harry Potter stared at Grindelwald, wondering if he had misheard. That miserable git, working for Dumbledore? And even as a trusted spy?

    The old wizard nodded. “Apparently, he told us the truth - it was all Albus’s plan. Including his death.” He sighed. “If I had known that, I would have broken out sooner, much sooner, but that probably would have threatened Albus’s further plans. It all worked out in the end, anyway.”

    “Further plans?” Harry asked as he tried to peer through the gap in the door behind the wizard. Was that whimpering?

    “Yes. Thanks to Albus’s sacrifice, Snape has earned Voldemort’s full trust, and will be able to use this to give us the opportunity to finally deal with that pest.” Grindelwald smiled widely. “His escape from Hogwarts will help with that, too - he’s no longer stuck at the school.”

    “Ah.” Harry nodded. “We’re going to let him escape.”

    “Yes.” Grindelwald tilted his head. “Well, once he has recovered from the torture. Speaking of, could you show Gottlieb where the infirmary is? We ran out of potions during the interrogation, and Snape needs to be at least able to walk so his escape will look convincing.”

    Behind him, the door opened, and a Storm Wizard stepped out. “Ja. Although we don’t need Skele-Gro Potion - that would take too long to work anyway. A Pain-Relief Potion will be enough.”

    Harry definitely heard someone whimpering in the room behind them. And something about… Lily?

    Grindelwald nodded. “And his nose can only be improved by the treatment! To think Albus was forced to look at that ugly thing as he died…”

    “Ja.” Gottlieb nodded. “And he can regrow his teeth less crookedly, too. That might improve his chances with that witch he kept talking about. Ah, young love!”

    Harry winced. Snape was in love? That poor wi… Lily? He felt sick.

    “Oh, don’t worry about him,” Grindelwald said, patting Harry’s shoulder. “That’s the good thing about using muggle torture techniques - you can reverse everything you did, in case there was a mistake. Albus was, as usual, thinking ahead when he had this torture chamber constructed with only muggle devices and tools. Although we had to obliviate Albus’s torturer when we found out that he wasn’t in Albus’s confidence.”

    Harry forced himself to smile. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He coughed. “I think I’ll need to check with my friends.” And get away from this before he was dragged into ‘helping’ Snape. Or deal with Flich.

    “Of course.” Grindelwald beamed at him. “But don’t forget to talk to the other teachers. Once the Veritaserum’s effects wear off. You know them best, after all, and they’ll listen to you.”

    “Yes, Meister Grindelwald.” Harry saluted and made his escape, still fighting the urge to gag. Snape and his mother? Urk.

    *****​

    Who would have thought McGonagall could be so mellow? Harry Potter certainly hadn’t expected to find her curled up in her bed and humming a ditty. And all it took was a heavy dose of Veritaserum. And some catnip-laced whisky, apparently.

    “She’s still under the potion’s effects,” he said. “And drunk.”

    “We can see that,” Hermione said. “They really overdid it.”

    “She looks fine to me,” Luna said. “Much happier than usual.”

    “Well, they didn’t torture her. Unlike Snape,” Ron said, munching on a snack from the kitchen.

    “Please don’t mention Snape,” Harry said, shuddering. If he closed his eyes, he could still hear the man moan. Snape and Lily...

    “I’m glad he got some punishment!” Ginny hissed. “He might have been a spy, but he was a horrible teacher!”

    “Yes,” Hermione said, nodding emphatically. “He was unsuited to teaching children.” She sounded as if Snape deserved torture just for that.

    Well, to be honest, he probably did, Harry thought. The number of students he had tormented… He shook his head. “Let’s not talk about him any more. We’ve got more important things to worry about.”

    “We have?” Ron asked. “I thought Snape was the key to catching Voldemort.”

    “Yes, he is,” Harry said. “But that’s not something we can do anything about right now.”

    “You mean the…” Hermione quickly cast a privacy charm. “...Horcruxes?”

    “Yes.” Harry nodded. “Didn’t you say that one of them might be at Hogwarts?” They still had no idea who ‘R.A.B.’ was. Maybe he should have asked Snape about it, but it was too late for that now.

    Hermione nodded. “Yes. But we have no idea where it might be. Searching the school could take weeks - months, probably. If it were easy to find, Dumbledore would have found it. Although, of course, the very fact that Dumbledore didn’t find it limits the places in which it could be hidden. On the other hand, Hogwarts is both over a thousand years old and huge.” She sighed. “I do not think that we can spare the time for a thorough search. We really have more important things to do - things we can, and should, do.”

    “Like winning the war,” Ron chimed in.

    “And spreading the truth!” Luna added. “The full truth, and nothing but the truth! That’s the credo of The Underground Quibbler!”

    “Or - more urgent - informing the muggleborn students that Hogwarts is now open to them as it should be,” Hermione said.

    “Alright.” Harry didn’t mind any of that. Searching the castle sounded like a very frustrating and exhausting task. Even - or especially - if Hermione had a plan for it. “So, what do we do now?”

    Ginny pointed behind him. “I think we should be talking to her.”

    Harry turned around. McGonagall wasn’t under the effects of Veritaserum any more - she was glaring at him as if he were back in his first year and had just smuggled a dragon out of the castle.

    “Ah, Professor McGonagall. Good to see you.”

    The professor’s glare intensified.

    “I’ve cancelled the charm,” Hermione whispered behind him. “Try again.”

    Harry glared at her before smiling at the teacher. “Good to see you, Professor.”

    “I can’t say the same,” she replied, glaring at his chest. “I would have never expected to see this symbol again - much less see you wearing it, Mister Potter.”

    “Ah!” Harry cleared his throat. “You see, there’s a perfectly good explanation for this.”

    “Grindelwald is following Dumbledore’s orders. The Headmaster had planned all of this,” Hermione interjected.

    “What?” McGonagall gaped at them.

    “Haven’t you read The Underground Quibbler, Professor?” Luna pouted at McGonagall. “It’s all there! Straight from Grindelwald’s mouth in an exclusive interview!” She beamed. “He even publicly stated that The Quibbler was the finest newspaper in Britain!”

    “But…” McGonagall was shaking her head.

    “I know,” Harry said. “But would you have expected anything else from a wizard who planned his own murder so his spy would gain Voldemort’s trust?”

    “What? Severus was…”

    “I’m sorry, Professor,” Hermione cut off McGonagall. “Obliviate!” As the teacher blinked in the usual confused haze, Hermione glared at Harry. “That’s a secret! No one but us can know it!”

    Harry sighed. Now they had to start convincing the teacher again.

    *****​

    Staring out of the window of Albus’s office, Gellert Grindelwald sighed with relief when the tiny figure on the ground below finally managed to reach the forest across the field. It was a good thing that Snape was a spy and not a Storm Wizard - a few broken bones shouldn’t slow down anyone that much. Hans would have sent him straight back to training! It wasn’t as if petrifying two broken legs was that difficult, and Snape still had one good arm.

    Gellert blinked. Snape was left-handed, wasn’t he? He shrugged. Things had worked out in the end. And it was Snape’s own fault for not offering the use of Albus’s Pensieve straight away - not that Gellert would have accepted that as proof without verifying it; you could alter your own memories, after all. But it might have saved the man’s nose. If that ugly thing hadn’t been beyond saving from the start.

    Ah well, no harm done. Or no lasting harm done. He had personally verified the man’s loyalty to the cause - sometimes, people could hold unreasonable grudges over perfectly reasonable and necessary security measures such as torture. But Snape was fully committed to the defeat of Voldemort. Well, mostly so he could avenge his love who had been murdered by Voldemort, but that worked out to the same. And, seeing what crimes the man had committed before Albus had redeemed him, Gellert couldn’t help relating - a little - to him.

    He smiled. Albus’s cunning plan was back on track, even better than before, and his beloved school and his students were safe from Voldemort! Which reminded Gellert that he still had to tell the students the good news. They should be at the Sorting now - a quaint tradition Albus had told him about. It was an ingenious idea to have a student’s character judged right at the start of their education so that you knew on whom you had to keep an eye during their school years!

    He left Albus’s office - but he would surely return to bask once more in his love’s home - and made his way to the Great Hall, nodding at the two Storm Wizards guarding the side entrance. “Everything alright?”

    “Jawohl, Meister Grindelwald!” The witch in command saluted him. “The children are all inside, and the castle has been secured.”

    “Perfect!” He smiled and cast a quick Supersensory Charm - it wouldn’t do to interrupt the Sorting. Ah, the Scottish witch, Albus’s deputy, was talking. That meant that the Sorting was over already.

    Gellert opened the door and strode inside.

    “...there have been some changes to Hogwarts of which you aren’t yet aware. I can assure that, despite appearances, all of you are perfectly safe and the school’s running will not be affected. Now...” The witch trailed off as she glanced at him.

    Gellert waved at her. “Just go on. Act as if I’m not here.” That was the order he had given his Storm Wizards, after all - to stay out of sight. Albus had been quite vocal during his last visit about the disruptive effects the presence of Aurors on school grounds had on a student’s education.

    “Merlin’s arse! It’s Grindelwald!”

    “No!”

    “Help!”

    “Mummy!”

    “Please! Not me!”

    Gellert blinked as half the students made a run for the doors while the other half seemed frozen to their benches. He quickly flicked his wand and locked all doors before the students could hurt themselves in their panic; his Storm Wizards weren’t trained to deal with children. Well, not in ways of which Albus would have approved. He glanced at the staff table. Albus’s deputy was covering her face in her hands, and the other teachers didn’t seem to be willing to step up either. Ah, Albus! No wonder his love had always been so overworked if that was the support he had received from his staff.

    Gellert shook his head and cast a quick Amplifying Charm on himself. “Stop this!” As he had hoped, the children obeyed at once, freezing in place as his voice filled the hall. Well, with the exception of two in black and yellow robes who fainted at their table, but it was still a good result.

    “Children, children,” he went on, “there is no reason to panic. I’m not here to hurt anyone. Any student, that is,” he quickly added - Albus had been clear on the need of being honest with children. He glanced at the staff table, but they, too, seemed now frozen on their chairs. Had someone pranked the hall? Albus had mentioned some very amusing pranks. But then, why were half the students at the door?

    He focused on his speech again. “As anyone who has read The Underground Quibbler knows, I’m here because Albus - Dumbledore - wanted me to come and save you all from Voldemort’s hordes.” It was obvious that today’s youth didn’t read as much as they should - almost none of them seemed to have read that excellent newspaper. Well, that would change; he would see to it that enough copies for everyone would be delivered daily.

    They were staring at him, and none of them was smiling. Wait - there was one student who was smiling. But he was also rocking back and forth on the bench with his eyes closed and was humming to himself, so he probably wasn’t listening in the first place. Clearly, the students needed more reassurances.

    Gellert cleared his throat. “As I said, you have nothing to fear! My Storm Wizards have taken control of the school this morning and will be patrolling the castle, but while we will swiftly and brutally deal with any supporters of Voldemort or any other enemy who stands in the way of liberating all of Wizarding Britain from the yoke of the Dark Lord, neither you nor the school’s running will be affected by the war.” He smiled, then frowned. “With one exception. For the foreseeable future, we’ll be using Mr Filch’s torture chamber for interrogations.”

    Gellert didn’t understand why that set off another panicked attempt to flee the hall. But at least Potter and his group were on the ball - unlike the rather useless teachers - and were calming the students down. Well, stunned students were no longer throwing themselves against the massive wooden gates, so that was good enough, in Gellert’s opinion.

    *****​

    “Why hello Draco!” Harry Potter smiled at the trembling Slytherin before him. “As you can see, there have been some changes at Hogwarts - and not the changes you were hoping to see.”

    “P-Potter… You’ve joined G-Grindelwald?”

    “We all did,” Harry said. Really, you had to be stupid not to see it - all of his group were wearing the Storm Wizard coats. Well, Luna was wearing her Storm Journalist coat, but it was close enough. He shook his head. “Snape won’t be Headmaster. And neither will the Carrows be teaching here,” Harry went on. “They were executed for their crimes - after a thorough interrogation.”

    “P-please…” Draco was stammering and twitching, held by conjured ropes. “I didn’t mean to…”

    “Didn’t mean to smuggle Death Eaters into the School?” Harry tilted his head slightly. “Didn’t mean to help them murder Dumbledore?”

    “Didn’t mean to poison me?” Ron cut in. “Almost killed me, too.”

    “I didn’t want to! I had to! Or my parents would have been killed!” Draco yelled.

    Harry frowned. That sounded like a made-up excuse. On the other hand, he had been certain that Snape was a traitor, and that had been wrong. Well, Snape was a traitor - just not to Dumbledore.

    “He just admitted to poisoning Ron,” Ginny said. “And we know he let the Death Eaters into the school. And you all know about the diary in my first year. That’s enough.” She pointed her wand at Draco. “Let’s kill him!”

    If she was acting, then it was a very convincing act, Harry realised. And if she wasn’t, then she was scarier than he had thought.

    “We can’t kill him!” Hermione interjected. Draco smiled in relief. Until she continued. “We need to interrogate him first. He might have valuable information about Voldemort.”

    “I’ll tell you everything I know, but don’t kill me!” Draco pleaded as tears ran down his cheeks. “Please! They forced me to! Bellatrix tortured me until I learned Occlumency!”

    Harry cleared his throat. Death Eaters weren’t supposed to cry and beg for mercy. They also weren’t supposed to be in love with his mum, he reminded himself. And he knew how painful it was to learn Occlumency. “Well, time to get the Veritaserum, I guess,” he said. “If he truly was forced to do all this, I guess we can’t kill him.”

    “We most certainly can,” Luna piped up, and Draco whimpered, “but I guess you mean we shouldn’t?”

    Harry nodded. “Yes, we shouldn’t.” Ginny was really good at acting - she was scowling at him now. And Hermione was frowning as well. Harry continued: “But since he just told us that he knows Occlumency, I fear that we have to let a specialist interrogate him.”

    The smiles on the faces of his friends were even scarier than their scowls. Draco must have agreed with Harry since he seemed to have wet himself.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, September 2nd, 1997

    “This Draco Malfoy was forced to help murder Albus?” Gellert Grindelwald narrowed his eyes at Potter. That wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He wanted revenge for his friend’s death, no matter if Albus had arranged it himself! Killing the Carrows wasn’t enough; they hadn’t been more than spectators.

    The kid seemed to pale a little but nodded. “Yes, Meister Grindelwald. Gottlieb confirmed it. If he didn’t kill Dumbledore, his parents would have been killed. That’s why he joined the Death Eaters, too.”

    “His parents? Aren’t they Death Eaters?” Albus had mentioned an elder Malfoy, hadn’t he? Something about a basilisk. In any case, that would change things. You couldn’t be forced to do anything by threatening the lives of Death Eaters; anyone knew that. Or should.

    “His father, but not his mother,” Potter said, shrugging.

    Gellert frowned again. That complicated things. You couldn’t fault a wizard for protecting his mother. Albus had been very fond of his. The less said about Gellert’s, the better, but Aunt Bathilda had been nice as well. He blinked. He should really visit her. That his Storm Wizards had evacuated her showed how much he cared - and had resulted in dead Death Eaters - but nothing beat a personal visit. One of those days, he needed to find the time. But not now; exploring every nook and cranny of Albus’s home took up all his scarce spare time.

    He had to focus on the current problem, though. “He survived the interrogation, right?”

    “Yes.”

    Sometimes Gottlieb was too skilled for the Greater Good. Gellert sighed. “He isn’t likely to escape either?”

    “All his limbs are broken; he won’t be going anywhere.”

    “I see.” He didn’t, actually, but a leader always had to appear to be on top of things. Albus had known wonderfully cryptic remarks for such moments. “So he has suffered for his crimes, so to speak.”

    Potter nodded.

    Good. Still, as a Death Eater, he deserved death. But as a student, he shouldn’t be harmed. Now, it was entirely alright to harm him as a Death Eater and not as a student - Albus had excelled at that sort of sophistry - but killing him as a Death Eater would affect his student life as well, no way around that.

    He sighed again. Just for causing so much trouble the little pissant deserved to die… No, he had to remember he was talking about Albus’s student here. Hm. What would Albus do? His love had been fond of punishments that were not just just, but also wonderfully appropriate and taught the recipient a lesson. Like Gellert himself - being imprisoned in his own prison certainly had been appropriate. Well, the prisoner was a blood purist, so...

    “Let him heal without magic,” Gellert said. That would teach this Draco a lesson and keep him out of trouble. The new Ministry, whatever that would be once Voldemort was finally dead for good, could deal with him.

    Potter grinned. “Alright.” He saluted and left.

    That problem taken care of, Gellert could finally have his breakfast - Hans’s training was efficient, but it also resulted in Storm Wizards who got up far too early for a man who had spent too much time reminiscing in Albus’s office and quarters.

    As he rose, he had another thought. Maybe he could sit on Albus’s chair in the Great Hall?

    *****​

    Harry Potter smiled when he and his friends approached the entrance to the Gryffindor dorms. It felt like coming home. Privet Drive never felt like this, and while he loved staying at The Burrow, it wasn’t home - he was a guest there, no matter what Molly said. And it was now an armed camp where he was suffering daily torture called training under Hans. That didn’t help to make it feel like home.

    But the Gryffindor Tower was home, even though he wouldn’t be staying there any more. It was the first place he could remember that had felt like home to him. His smile grew when the painting swung open - without a password, even, which was a little weird but not overly so; the Fat Lady probably recognised them. There was the familiar sight of the Gryffindor common room, the red and gold decor, the comfortable chairs, the warm fire, and… the shrieking and trembling students?

    He blinked as Ron, Ginny and Hermione followed him through the door and took up positions at his side. “What’s going on?” he asked.

    The room fell silent though he could hear frantic steps on the two stairs. He repeated his question, looking at Neville.

    His friend swallowed, then took a step forward. “W-what do you want?”

    “We’re just visiting,” Harry replied. “Check up on how you’re doing.” There hadn’t been time for that yet, not with having to deal with Malfoy.

    “We aren’t doing anything,” Neville said. His hand was twitching, Harry noticed - though the wand was pointed at the ground.

    “Oh, for…” he heard Hermione sigh. “We’re not here to hurt you!” she snapped. “Haven’t you learned anything in the last few years? The Ministry and the Prophet are, as usual, lying about Harry!”

    “B-but… you’re wearing G-Grindelwald’s colours!” Neville stammered.

    “And you’ve stunned us!” Lavender added from behind him.

    “We saved you,” Hermione retorted. “You were trying to break out of the Great Hall while Storm Wizards were still securing the castle! What do you think would have happened if they had thought you were attacking them?”

    That sent a few students gasping and crying. “They’re going to kill us!” someone yelled, which caused more shrieking and crying.

    “No, we won’t!” Harry yelled, but they weren’t listening.

    A Cannonblast Spell from Ron shut them up, though. And sent Harry’s ears ringing. Nevertheless, he went on. “No one’s going to hurt you. Haven’t you heard what Grindelwald said? We’re here to fight the Death Eaters who have taken over the Ministry!”

    “But he’s a dark wizard!” Parvati said.

    “He was a dark wizard,” Harry corrected her. “He’s reformed in prison and is following Dumbledore’s plan to defeat Voldemort.” He ignored how that name caused a few more gasps. Gryffindors were supposed to be braver than that. But he could see how the students were affected by his words. Neville was starting to nod. Lavender wasn’t hiding behind Neville any more.

    “And even when he was a dark wizard, he did a lot for the muggleborns and magical creatures!” Hermione added with a broad smile that she probably thought was reassuring. “So, even at his worst, he wasn’t really that bad.”

    Harry could see that Neville was swallowing and Lavender was hiding behind him again. He refrained from glaring at Hermione and forced himself to smile. “Relax. As long as you’ll stay at Hogwarts, you’ll be safe.”

    That didn’t seem to reassure them, though.

    *****​

    “Hostages? Hostages?” Gellert Grindelwald bellowed as he threw the Daily Prophet on the staff table, toppling a carafe with pumpkin juice and splashing half its contents on the fat teacher next to him. “They claim I’ve taken the school hostage! How can they make up such a lie?” Hadn’t he told everyone that the students wouldn’t be harmed? That the school wouldn’t be affected? Why wouldn’t anyone believe him?

    He looked around, but neither the Storm Wizards standing guard at the entrance nor the teachers and students staring at him seemed to be able to answer his question.

    All but one. “That’s just the Daily Prophet! They lie all the time!” Miss Lovegood’s clear voice cut through the silence. “The Underground Quibbler’s telling the truth!”

    He nodded at the witch. “Exactly. But it beggars belief that people would fall for such obvious lies.” Obviously, Britain’s problems ran much deeper than the current trouble with Voldemort. He sighed and sat down - in Albus’s seat; his deputy had been nice enough to accede to his request. He huffed. Him, taking Albus’s students as hostages? How did they come up with this? He’d have to set that straight with another interview.

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, September 8th, 1997

    Those people at the Daily Prophet were hopeless! Even though Gellert Grindelwald had left Hogwarts, leaving only a few dozen Storm Wizards there to keep the school safe, and had returned to The Burrow, instead of staying in his love’s home, they kept making up lies about him holding the school hostage and torturing students. No matter how often Miss Lovegood’s excellent articles disproved those lies, those shameless hacks kept at it. Maybe he should pay them a visit and personally set things straight....

    “...and in light of the situation at Hogwarts, the Minister has caved and granted the Duc’s forces as well as their Polish allies full autonomy for their operations in Britain.”

    That was Shacklebolt, the spy. The meeting of the Order must have started, then. Gellert nodded, to show he was paying attention.

    “They’ve given them carte blanche,” the metamorphmagus with the weird name hissed. “They can do what they want, answering only to their superiors!”

    “They’ll abuse that to strike at muggleborns,” Granger added. “They won’t dare to face us in combat, but muggleborns hiding in their homes? They’ll pounce on them!”

    The French were actually more likely to seek battle with his Storm Wizards, Gellert knew that from experience. And the Poles were almost as bad - he remembered their gallant but suicidal stands during his first Eastern campaign. But since the French being more active would free the Ministry’s thugs to go after the muggleborns in Diagon Alley, which the Prophet kept calling out as his followers despite Gellert not recalling recruiting any of them, there was no need to correct the witch.

    Which didn’t stop the French wife of the eldest Weasley from protesting, of course. “Les Gendarmes Magiques would never do that! They’re misguided, but they wouldn’t hurt civilians! That’d be cowardly!”

    “If they believe the Ministry’s lies, they’ll think they’re fighting us while attacking muggleborns,” Potter replied.

    “We have to take Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley before that happens!” Granger exclaimed.

    Gellert shook his head. “No. We’ve just secured Hogwarts and Hogsmeade; we can’t take Diagon Alley without weakening our hold on either the school or The Burrow.” He had made that mistake in his first campaign against the Bavarians. That had been a costly mistake and a bloody mess. “Take and hold an objective, then reinforce your troops before attacking the next objective; that’s how you win a war.” Slowly, methodically, with overwhelming force. Of course, you needed overwhelming force for that, or you had to take risks, but thanks to Katrina’s efforts in Prussia, Gellert was fairly certain that he would soon be able to move to the next objective - whichever that would be.

    “Why exactly are the Polish helping the Ministry?” the other Weasley, the one with the burn wounds - Gellert had quickly decided not to be near the youth when he was brewing or cooking anything - asked.

    “They’re afraid of Prussia,” the French witch answered.

    Which was true, though it made no sense. Every wizard sent to Britain was one less wand defending Magical Poland. But no one had ever accused the Poles of being logical. Passionate and brave, yes. Sensible? No. They were Eastern French, in short. Most of them spoke French, too.

    Gellert cleared his throat. “In any case, neither the French nor the Poles will be ready for a battle. They’ll need time to set up.” And time to plan, though Gellert didn’t know if the French actually did that. Planning, that is - they seemed to be too fond of charges. “And the Dark Lord can’t show his face in public; he’s still a wanted wizard and he looks like a half-snake monster. The French would probably curse him on sight even if the Ministry had tried to whitewash him.” Which they hadn’t. Not that the coward would actually face Gellert in a duel like a civilised wizard anyway. He shook his head. “Nothing will happen for a week or two.”

    *****​

    The Burrow, Ottery St Catchpole, Devon, September 9th, 1997

    “A Levée en Masse? In Diagon Alley?” Gellert couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Why would the Ministry try that? It never works!” He should know - it hadn’t worked for the Poles against him, it hadn’t worked for the Bavarians - well, not for long - and calling every Prussian wizard and witch to rise and fight hadn’t worked for Prussia either, after Gellert’s defeat. Albus had been very clear about the waste of life that had caused.

    Potter coughed. “Ah, it’s not the Ministry. They are fighting for you.”

    “What? Why would they do that?” Gellert shook his head. That made no sense.

    “Well…” Granger grimaced, which didn’t do much for her looks. “They might be afraid of a Ministry attack and decided to strike first and take control of the Alley and the Ministry before the French arrive in force? At least that’s what I think probably happened.”

    “Damned fools,” Gellert muttered. “If they were afraid of an attack they should have left the Alley!”

    “Exactly!” Granger exclaimed, nodding several times. “They would have been safe in muggle London.”

    “In any case,” Potter spoke up, “they are fighting now. And we’ve got reports of French Gendarmes arriving to support the Ministry defenders.”

    “We have reports?” Gellert asked. “Who’s watching this debacle?” Had he another spy he didn’t know about?

    “Luna,” Potter said.

    “Ron and Ginny are with her,” Granger added.

    Oh, right. The brave little journalist would be doing her duty. Gellert sank into his chair. He had just finished a beautiful plan to lure the French into attacking The Burrow again by pretending to reinforce Hogwarts and Hogsmeade! They would have fallen for it, too. But now they would be massacring the civilians in the Alley, having fun, too, instead of falling for his deception.

    He was tempted to simply let the idiots attacking trained Gendarmes - the British Ministry Hit-Wizards were barely more dangerous than civilians, in his experience so far - get killed. That would teach them to mess up his plans! They might also take a few Gendarmes and a few more Hit-Wizards with them. A net gain for his cause.

    But Albus would be cross if Gellert used civilians as curse-fodder, even though it was their own fault. It wasn’t as if he had recruited them. Wasn’t there a law against impersonating someone’s followers without asking? What was next, copying his Storm Wizard coats? But Albus was simply too inflexible when it came to culling foolish civilians so they wouldn’t breed.

    He sighed. “It can’t be helped. Hans!”

    “Hier, Meister Grindelwald!”

    He nodded at his friend. “Gather the forces. Leave enough to hold the base against four dozen Gendarmes. We’ll have to save those idiots.”

    “Jawohl, Meister Grindelwald!”

    “Thank you!”

    Gellert had the sudden impression that if not for the desk between him and Granger, the witch would have hugged him. Well, witches were emotional, that wasn’t anything new. He was still glad she couldn’t act on that urge.

    He closed his eyes for a moment as Potter and Granger left his quarters. He would have to adjust all his plans. And they had been such beautifully complex plans. Albus would have been delighted.

    And all because some idiots decided to fight instead of to go into hiding. They were probably French immigrants. Or Weasleys.

    *****​

    Diagon Alley, London, September 9th, 1997

    “This is all your fault, you know,” Harry Potter said as he flew with Hermione towards the roof where they had left Ron, Ginny and Luna.

    “It’s not!” she retorted. “I urged them to go and hide!”

    Harry could see a few curses flashing in the distance, but their current route seemed safe. “Your leaflets said that the Ministry was currently weak but would attack as soon as they were reinforced by French and Polish forces.”

    “My leaflets? You duplicated most of them and dropped a third of them on the Alley, and I don’t remember you protesting!”

    He was tempted to tell her that resistance would have been pointless, but she was correct - he hadn’t said anything. “It’s still your fault,” he said. “It was your idea to start dropping leaflets, and you wrote them yourself.” He pulled ahead before she could answer. There were their friends. Safe and sound. Or as sound as Luna ever got.

    “Hi!” He greeted them as he dismounted. “What’s the situation? We’ll have Storm Wizards arriving in a few minutes.”

    Hermione was glaring at him as she landed, but didn’t interrupt as Ron reported. “There are more and more Gendarmes appearing, but so far, they have simply held the line in front of the Ministry entrance.”

    Harry looked ahead. Curses were flying back and forth at the entrance, but the lines seemed to have stabilised.

    “If all they wanted was to keep the Ministry safe, they would have sealed off the Entrance,” Hermione said. “The Ministry is not in Diagon Alley, after all, so it would be safe. They’ll be attacking soon.”

    Harry agreed with that. “But not from the front. They’ll flank the mob.”

    “They’re French,” Ron said.

    “That doesn’t mean they always charge straight ahead,” Harry replied. At least he thought they wouldn’t repeat the same mistake twice.

    “What are our orders?” Ginny asked.

    “Support the main force and attack targets of opportunity,” Harry answered.

    “Oh! We’ll need to attack the Daily Prophet!” Luna piped up. “It’s a target, and there’s an opportunity!”

    “I don’t think a newspaper is a suitable target in war,” Harry said.

    “Actually, control of the media is one of the priorities in any coup,” Hermione said. “And this is clearly a coup. Or a revolution, which works out the same.”

    Ron nodded. “Besides, the Daily Prophet certainly deserves to get razed to the ground, after what they wrote about us.”

    “We can only hope that Skeeter is hiding inside somewhere and gets fried, too,” Ginny added with a snarl.

    “Exactly,” Luna said. “We need to strike against that embarrassment for any honest journalist!”

    Harry’s training as a leader in the Storm Wizards had been rather perfunctory - basic tactics, how to give orders that didn’t confuse people, what curses to use on slacking or fleeing wizards under his command - but one lesson had stuck with him: Never give an order you know won’t be obeyed. And he was dead certain that telling his friends not to attack the Daily Prophet’s offices wouldn’t do any good.

    So he nodded. “Alright, but let’s wait until the main force arrives and serves as a distraction.”

    “It looks like they’ve arrived,” Luna said. “Oh, no, those are French attacking out of a side alley.”

    “What?” Harry stared at the Alley. There, in the middle, white robes were pouring out of a side alley, splitting up the mob. “We’ll have to hold them off until Grindelwald arrives!” he yelled, straddling his broom.

    “And then we raze the Daily Prophet!” Luna said as the others mounted their brooms.

    Harry didn’t waste his breath contradicting her. He urged his Firebolt forward. There were no brooms in the air, on either side, so they had an advantage. He banked left and rolled, then flew down into the Alley, sending two Blasting Curses at the French before pulling up, Corkscrewing as half a dozen curses missed him.

    More Blasting Curses hit the French as Ron and Ginny formed the next wave of attack. Harry glanced behind him. Where was Hermione? For a moment, he feared the worst, then he saw her on the roof overlooking the side alley’s entrance, casting. A second later, giant balls of fire started rolling down the alley.

    Harry winced as he saw white robes catch fire and heard the screams and wondered if he should have told Grindelwald not to let Hermione into Dumbledore’s private library. It probably wouldn’t have helped - Gellert thought that Albus’s wouldn’t have wanted his knowledge to fade.

    But the French had spotted Hermione, and she was forced to fall back as the forward part of the roof was engulfed in explosions, and the entire front of the house started to crumble.

    Harry led Ron and Ginny into another attack, hitting a group of French just as they were trying to cut off Hermione’s line of retreat. His Cutting Curses hit two, dropping them in pieces, and Ginny and Ron finished off the remaining two from behind as the French turned to send curses after Harry.

    He rolled and started to turn when he spotted several broom flyers headed his way. They weren’t wearing white robes, but blue ones. Polish Uhlans? They were among the best on brooms, or so he had heard.

    But he was the youngest Seeker in a century, he was riding a Firebolt and he had outflown a dragon!

    “Support Hermione!” he yelled at Ron and Ginny, then bared his teeth and turned to fly straight at the Poles, jinxing and rolling to throw off their aim.

    Curses flew past him, some missing by inches. One hit his shield and was deflected. Then he was close enough and flicked his wand out, hitting the leading Uhlan with a Blasting Curse right into his chest. The wizard blew up in a cloud of blood, gore and bone fragments, sending another Uhlan crashing into the ground as Harry banked, then dived towards the ground as the remaining three pounced on him.

    More curses went wide, two hitting his shield, shattering it, as he raced almost straight down, pulling up in the last second, rolling sideways to avoid smashing his feet into the cobblestones, before shooting up towards the closest roof.

    Something crashed behind him. He glanced back for a moment and saw that one of the Uhlans hadn’t been quick enough to pull up in time. The other two had levelled out earlier but had slowed down as a result.

    He grinned and performed an Immelmann turn, once more flying straight at them. They broke left, but he caught the trailing Uhlan with a Bludgeoning Curse that blew him off course and into the roof next to him. Harry was already turning to chase the last Uhlan when the broken body hit the street.

    That last enemy turned and twisted, trying to shake him, but Harry had the better broom and was the better flyer. It took him less than a minute get behind the Pole and hit him with a Piercing Curse in the back. The man rolled until he was hanging off his broom - stuck to the shaft, obviously - and continued flying straight forward until he crashed into a wall.

    Harry pulled up and took stock of the situation. Below him, Storm Wizards had caught the French in a pincer movement, routing them. More Storm Wizards were combing through the side alleys. And up ahead, Grindelwald was standing in a crater where the enemy lines had been, sending green Killing Curses at anything that moved.

    Harry swallowed and looked for his friends. Where could they… Of course! He pushed his broom forward flew toward the Daily Prophet’s offices. He found it easily - a column of thick smoke rose through its smashed roof.

    But where were the others?

    Luna appearing in the broken door, trailed by what looked like a shrunk printing press, answered his question.

    “Are you looting?” Harry asked as he landed next to her. He could see the others moving inside the building - there were several holes in the front.

    “Of course not!” Luna said. “I’m securing vital resources for the war effort!”

    Harry narrowed his eyes at her. “Hermione told you that, didn’t she?”

    Luna nodded happily.

    Harry hoped that that wouldn’t go into her next article. People would assume it was his idea, and ‘the Boy-Who-Plundered’ sounded even worse than ‘the Boy-Who-Lived’.

    *****​

    Gellert Grindelwald shook his head as he looked around the entrance. Or what his Blasting Curse had left of it. His spell had killed about a dozen Gendarmes, by his estimate - it was a little hard to tell, with most of them spread over the area in several pieces. About the same number had been killed by him and his Storm Wizards as they took the entrance. Probably the same number of Hit-Wizards and Aurors had been killed, but he wasn’t certain if they counted - some had thrown away their wands as soon as he had appeared, claiming they had been pressed into serving as Hit-Wizards.

    Well, victory was his in either case, and the exact numbers could be determined later. His Storm Wizards were already pouring through the magically extended entrance into the Ministry proper, which was somewhere else in muggle London, and he had no doubt that they would carry the day. Or rather, that the remaining Ministry forces would surrender quickly. Unlike the French, they wouldn’t fight to the death. Sensible, if a little cowardly. And it made for a slightly unsatisfying end as well - smashing a few French Gendarmes and British curse-fodder and see the rest surrender simply didn’t compare to executing a brilliant plan that ended in their entire force caught in a trap and decimated.

    He sighed. Not only did he have to worry about how to hold both the Alley and the Ministry with his current Storm Wizards, he hadn’t even been able to fight a pitched battle for this dubious victory!

    “There they are! Kill them!”

    “No! We surrendered!”

    “Kill the bastards!”

    “Murderers!”

    “Kill ‘em!”

    He turned towards the commotion that had interrupted his thoughts. Ah, the mob had finally caught up with his forces and was now about to lynch the prisoners! He nodded, then remembered that he had changed. He wasn’t supposed to let such atrocities happen, no matter if that would bind the civilians to his cause because they would face lethal retribution should he lose.

    He didn’t want them to follow him, anyway - they would probably mess up his next plans too! And Albus frowned on mob justice. He was all for proper, fair trials, even in cases where a quick Killing Curse would have saved a lot of trouble. Not that Gellert would complain - Albus’s principles had saved his life, too, after all.

    So he cleared his throat, and when that didn’t stop the mob, he blew up the side of the entrance which had still been standing. That stopped them in their tracks. A quick Amplifying Charm carried his words across the entire entrance without the need to yell. “Those are my prisoners. Anyone who kills them will suffer for a long time before I’ll grant them the mercy of death!”

    The mob quickly released the prisoners, not much worse for wear. Some even apologised on their knees - ah, the memories! Maybe he should be trying this next time he had to deal with children? It seemed far more effective than talking nicely.

    “Meister Grindelwald!”

    He turned. “Hans?”

    His friend saluted him. “The Ministry has surrendered! The day is ours!” Hans reached into the bag at his side and pulled out a severed head. “The Minister chose to fight to the death.”

    Gellert smiled, then remembered that Shacklebolt had said that the Minister was under the Imperius Curse. But then, Albus had said that that was a common defence of Death Eaters, so the Minister had probably been lying.

    There was no need to let such a minor detail ruin this day.

    *****​
     
  23. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Well, Harry can't do much against Grindelwald - and it's not as if Dumbledore's plans were always obviously logical :p

    Oh, yes.

    And a lot of "That's not what I meant!"
     
  24. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    The obliviation scene was hilarious, I mean, it all was, but that had a great callback to A Black Comedy and the house elf obliviation bit.
     
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  25. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    I never read A Black Comedy - it was meant to be a callback to the Shacklebolt Obliviation scene in chapter 1.
     
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  26. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    Right. Well. That changes now. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3401052/1/A-Black-Comedy Highly recommended, 12 out of 5 stars.

    EDIT: I'm sorry everyone that I just ruined his update speed, but since he's never read it, I think you all agree with me that it's deserved.
     
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  27. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    My understanding was that the story is basically Harry and Sirius doing what they want in a new world, playing everyone there for fools and amusing themselves in various ways. Is that true?

    Edit: Also, the update speed isn't affected either way - I wrote the story within a week in May, it has languished in beta-reading hell since then.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
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  28. steamrick

    steamrick Wisdom is in pursuit, but I'm faster!

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    I'm really enjoying this story :)

    Now if only people would start properly communicating :p
    But that would take half the fun out of it.

    I really do wonder if the French realized they were working with Voldemort or not. Maybe we'll find out at some point.
     
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  29. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    They didn't know - that's why Gellert said Voldemort couldn't show his face.
     
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  30. RichardWhereat

    RichardWhereat The Dawn Will Cum

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    Certainly how the story starts out, but there's a plot to it I'd rather not ruin.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
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