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Chapter 18 : Grindelwald
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I gasped and stumbled backward in surprise and fear.
“Oh my God, what, what…” I managed, watching little Lucy Marin clutch her stomach and shake her head, expelling the last bit of blood from her mouth.
I felt dizzy.
“Okay, you…you stay here, I’m going to get help, I’ll be back, I promise!”
“The punch,” she whispered, looking up at me with bloodshot eyes. “It’s the punch.”
I ran through the dungeons back to Slughorn’s party. I probably looked a bit mad as I came bursting through the curtains at a flat out run, but I suppose it didn’t matter.
Another boy was just spooning some punch into his cup when I flew over to him and nearly knocked it out of his hand.
“Don’t drink that,” I said, snatching it away from him. I raised my voice and looked around the room, at the collection of students that was already looking at me rather oddly.
“Don’t touch the punch. Lucy is in the hall, she’s just been very sick. I think it got poisoned.”
The room was deadly silent until Slughorn gave a great gasp and shuffled behind his desk. He collected a few little vials and I led him back out into the hall where Lucy was collapsed against a wall, looking very horrific with bloodstains down her robes and adorning the corner of her mouth.
It was a right bit of chaos after that, when everyone poured out of Slughorn’s party after us and there were screams and gasps and whispers.
“Miss Harley, go fetch Madam Bellhurst,” Slughorn said to me in an urgent undertone, “This girl has been badly poisoned.”
I bolt of panic at the thought of poison in the school darted through me, before I nearly collapsed when I remembered Tom had been at the party as well, with that very same punch. I turned to seek him out through the crowd of students around Lucy, but couldn’t find him.
Slughorn was looking at me rather impatiently, and I had no choice but to set off at a sprint toward the hospital wing.
I never made it there though, because I nearly ran myself right into Dumbledore.
“Professor!” I squeaked, skidding to a halt. “Its, its Lucy Marin sir, she’s sick, Slughorn says she’s been poisoned, Lucy says it was the punch, where’s Madam Bellhurst?”
Dumbledore looked mildly alarmed at my hurried explanation. Instead of asking questions, as most teachers would have done, he simply flicked his wand, and sent a shimmering silver something flying off down the hall.
“I’ve alerted madam Bellhurst,” he said, in way of answering my curious stare. “Lead the way to Miss Marin, if you will.”
I brought Dumbledore back down to the dungeon, where he immediately squatted down next to Lucy, who had evidently thrown up again, but currently looked just pale and shaken against the stone wall.
Even though he wasn’t Madam Bellhurst, just having Dumbledore around gave me a feeling of comfort.
Dumbledore muttered to Lucy quietly while Slughorn tried to disperse the student onlookers. It was only after Dumbledore had gone in to see the punch that he instructed Slughorn to stop.
“I’d like to talk to a few of these students, Horace,” he said. “May I borrow your office?”
Slughorn looked confused, but nodded. To my surprise, Dumbledore turned to me and said,
“Miss Harley, if you please.”
I followed him into Slughorn’s office. He looked rather disturbed now, which was a very odd expression to see on Dumbledore’s face.
“You were informed correctly when Lucy said the punch was the cause of her sickness,” he said suddenly. “The punch has been turned to a dangerous toxin. If Lucy had had perhaps one more cup of it, she may have died.”
I silently took in the gravity of this statement. Dumbledore surveyed me.
“I do apologize, Miss Harley, but for good measure, may I see your wand?”
Not sure what he was getting to, I pulled my wand from my pocket and gave it to him. He muttered something, and a large, gray pair of antlers sprung from the tip of my wand.
Dumbledore nodded. “As I thought. Professor Slughorn will be punishing you for this, I take it?”
I frowned. What was going on? Antlers…the antlers I had given to McGonnagall? Why were they coming back out of my wand?
Slowly it dawned on me that he must be checking to make sure I hadn’t poisoned the punch. Half of me was deeply offended that he could even think I’d do it, half of me thought him right to be safe.
Dumbledore didn’t seem to expect an answer from me.
“Ah, very well then. You’re free to go, but please ask Tom to come in. I expect he was invited and is around here somewhere…”
I nodded dumbly, still wondering how Dumbledore had managed to make my wand regurgitate its last spell. How incriminating.
I exited the office to see Tom leaning against the wall nearby. Oddly enough, his face split into a smile when he saw me.
God, what a smile.
“Anna,” he said, and I heard the effort he was making to keep his voice down. “I’ve done it.”
“It was me. I poisoned the punch. And I did it without a spell, without anything. I simply pointed at it and thought it…my wand did it, it was like nothing I’ve done before…”
He trailed off, looking at me expectantly. Tom was excited about how he had poisoned the punch. I couldn’t tell what I was more horrified about—that Tom was the one who had done it and put everyone in terrible danger, or the fact that he was about to be caught.
Something clicked in my brain.
“Tom,” I hissed, “Dumbledore wants to see you. He, he saw what my wand last did. You’re in trouble—”
“Quick, light your wand!”
“Anna, why—” Tom began, looking annoyed, but I snatched his wand from him.
“Lumos,” I whispered, both watching the tip of his wand flare up and noting the strange feel of it beneath my fingers. I put the light out and handed it back to him.
“Go in to see Dumbledore. He’ll take your wand. Please, for the love of Merlin, don’t say anything about any of this!”
Tom looked at me for a moment as if I were stark raving mad. I widened my eyes at him, as if to plead with him that just this once, he trust me.
It worked, or at least, I hope it did. Tom gave me an almost imperceptible nod, then swept into the office.
Tom listened to me for once that night and saw that I had been right. Had it not been for my warning, Dumbledore would have found Tom guilty of poisoning Lucy Marin. I was unsure even then if I had been right in saving him, but when he gave me his little half smile and told me I was brilliant, I couldn’t bring myself to worry anymore. Dumbledore was sick with distress I think, about not knowing who had harmed his student. I made myself look him in the eye and lie to him when he asked me if I had seen anything.
It’s when a person defends another even in the face of punishment and danger, and even when that person is wrong, that they truly love them.
I was lying for him now; soon my entire life would become a knot of lies and stories and evasion.
And it was all for him.
February 1st, 1942
Snow was falling outside the window of the train—so much snow that my view of the outside world was nothing but a swirl of white and gray rushing past. Tom was across from me, reading and paying no attention to me whatsoever.
I fidgeted, wondering how much longer until we’d reach Brussels. I still could not believe that we had simply slipped out of the castle, down to Hogsmeade, and into the train station without anyone noticing. But I do suppose the enchantments and securities at Hogwarts were mostly for keeping people out, not students in.
The Portkey we’d gotten took us only to Paris, and we’d had to take a train the rest of the way. Who knew they also provided Portkeys at the station in Hogsmeade? It wasn’t the conductor’s job to babysit us, and so he said nothing about our being students, and definitely not allowed to be going to Europe.
We paid him and he said only, “I’d be careful down in Paris, you two. I never thought I’d say it, but the Muggles have gotten mighty crazy lately. They been noticin’ anyone out and about when they shouldn’ be.”
I only nodded. I knew all about what the Muggles were doing. I found it funny we were going to Belgium to help Grindelwald lead a siege on Brussels…perhaps we’d run into some German Muggles trying to do the same thing.
I spent the rest of the train ride split between wondering if I’d meet any Muggles and wondering what Grindelwald would be like.
Tom handed me a necklace, one with the funny eye symbol I had come to associate with Grindelwald. I slipped it around my neck but made sure to pull my red cloak over it.
“How far are we walking?” I asked, as we stepped out of the train onto the snow covered platform.
Tom didn’t answer me immediately, but instead took me by the elbow began to led me down the street. It was twilight; the sky was faintly purple beyond the buildings of the city, and the streetlamps had just been lit.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” he said eventually, his gloved hand still on my arm as if we were just a random Muggle couple out for a walk. We didn’t look too different from the real Muggles wandering about the streets, since they were all wearing long, cloak-like coats as well. I did receive a few stares from people, but I like to think it was because they liked my satin cloak.
Brussels was a pleasant sort of place I suppose, vaguely foreign, but nice all the same. Tom led us down a few more streets and eventually stopped in front of a stone apartment complex that didn’t look remarkable in the slightest. I was about to ask Tom how he even knew where we were going, but stopped as he turned toward me.
“I want you to enter with me as a wolf,” Tom said, adjusting his glove as if he were asking me to tea.
“You can transform back into yourself whenever you like, I just thought it’d be fun to give them a bit of a scare…and show them how valuable you are.”
I felt weird about pretending I was a dog, but I could see no practical reason why not. And I suppose it would be amusing to see people’s faces when I turned back into myself…I could be quite popular at parties with my talent, if it weren’t so damned illegal.
I felt my spine curve and my fur appear, then I was on all fours and swishing my tail as Tom knocked exactly four times on the door.
A slat just large enough for a person to see through appeared in the door, just like in the movies. A man behind the door said something quick and harsh in what I assumed to be the same language Arvid knew. Tom, to my surprise, responded in that same language, looking calm.
The man said something else, which caused Tom to frown and respond shortly.
The man behind the door switched to English.
“What you bring dog here for?” he asked, sounding rather pained with speaking the language, and sporting a heavy accent.
“Arvid said it wouldn’t be a problem. She’s quite intelligent and I find her useful in combat. I promise she won’t misbehave,” Tom said, patting me on the head for good measure.
I was torn between nuzzling into his warm hand and snapping at his fingers for treating me like a goddamned pet.
The man was silent for a few seconds, but eventually unbolted the door. Tom nodded politely and stepped over the threshold, snapping for me to join him. I followed him, not wanting to get thrown out for being a misbehaving canine.
I was going to kill him when we got home, I swear.
My first impression as we walked in was that we had just walked into a cabin in the heart of the city. An enormous fire grate adorned the back wall, complete with the head of a Hippogriff above the mantle. There were a few doorways leading to what looked like a kitchen, another room, and a stairway to the downstairs. There were furs all about the floor and thrown over chairs, and everyone was wearing them as well.
There were about a dozen people in the room, from whom we received a few curious stares.
“Who are you two?” a dark man in front of the fire asked. “From Britain are you? Why haven’t I seen you?”
“Yes, who are you? You look so very young,” said a witch with a rather French accent.
Just as Tom opened his mouth to fend off the questions, a deep voice came from the other room:
“Friends, friends! How very rude of you to interrogate our guest!”
A man followed the voice out of the room, and I was face to face with Gellert Grindelwald.
Well, face to snout I suppose.
“Please, sit down,” Grindelwald said, sweeping over to us. “What an honor it is to have guests from England make it here. How very good of you to come.”
Tom said he had the honor, and nodded his head in a submissive gesture.
Grindelwald shook his hand and patted me on the head. I tried to wag my tail and look like a good dog.
Gellert Grindelwald wasn’t how I’d thought he’d be. I mean, forgive me for thinking the man taking over Europe would be a bit more ill tempered. But Grindelwald welcomed Tom and offered us refreshments, as if we were here to join him in a game of gobstones.
He was rather old, I suppose, but I still couldn’t help but notice that he must have, at one time, been rather good looking. The blurry pictures in the paper didn’t capture his gold and gray streaked hair, or his lively, sparkling brown eyes.
Tom graciously accepted a Butterbeer and I growled quietly at him because I wanted one as well. More wizards would arrive sporadically, most of them just nodding around at the group and going downstairs. Clearly everyone knew each other much better than we did. I don’t know what Tom did to confound everyone at the Hogmeade hideout, but it better hold out, whatever it was.
Grindelwald lounged in a chair by the fire, politely engaging Tom in conversation every so often, so as not to leave him out.
“You’re so young, my friend, you simply must be a student at Hogwarts!”
Tom bowed his head. “Indeed I am.”
“Then you must know Dumbledore!”
“I do, sir. I can’t say we get along particularly well, but I do know him.”
There were little titters of laughter around the room and Grindelwald chuckled.
“Ah yes, Albus always did have a bit of a solemn streak I never myself possessed…but look, I’ve even Hogwarts students joining me now! What would Albus say?”
Everyone laughed at this and I shifted uncomfortably on the floor. Clearly Grindelwald knew Dumbledore as more than just a teacher at Hogwarts. And Grindelwald’s English was flawless…he was either British or had spent a great deal of time there.
There was a fair bit of chatter for a while. The place had an atmosphere of a friendly get together for drinks, not the preliminary to a hostile takeover. Tom absentmindedly ran his hand down my fur as he listened—I don’t know if he forgot I wasn’t a real dog, or if it was just a reflex to reach out and pet an animal when it was lying comfortably next to you.
Either way, it was really strange, and I felt a bit mortified for sort of enjoying it. Maybe when I was a wolf I would like things like being petted and playing fetch and raw meat. Or maybe I just liked it because it was the equivalent of Tom running his fingers through my hair and across my shoulders when I was in human form.
I began to consider the depressing thought that Tom might like me better as a wolf when a woman entered the room, draped in equal parts furs and diamonds. It took me a moment to recall where I’d seen her thick black hair and exotic face. The Hogsmeade hideout. The photograph I had repaired.
“Ah Katarina, my jewel. Is everything in order?” Grindelwald asked, gesturing the woman over to his side.
“It is,” she responded, her accent deeply foreign like many of the others here. “We can depart whenever you desire.”
Grindelwald kissed her lightly on the lips and said, “What would I do without you?”
“You would get along, I’m sure,” Katarina responded, smiling and pulling away prettily.
I wondered if her voice was naturally that smoky, or if she was doing it on purpose. I also couldn’t help but notice how very curvy she was beneath her simple black dress and fur scarf. The effect was of a sultry, confident woman that, despite the faint lines around her eyes and mouth, was attracting the notice of every male in the vicinity.
Naturally, I decided that now would be a good time to reclaim the attention of the room. I casually got up from my place on the floor and stretched, hopefully, as a dog would. No one paid a glance to me until I felt the split-second tugging that signaled I had just returned to human form.
Oh, and I was still in my red cloak. How very fitting for such a dramatic entrance!
There were gasps of surprise and one wizard actually dropped his drink at the sight of me, standing in the middle of the room where a wolf had just been. Katarina looked less than thrilled at my sudden appearance, and surveyed me with suspicious eyes.
I smiled, hoping I came off surer than I felt.
“Forgive me for not introducing myself earlier, but it was so very cold…the fur coat helps, you see,” I said, nodding my head at Grindelwald, who looked neither astonished nor frightened.
He looked at me with half a smile on his lips and a raised eyebrow. How very right Tom had been…it was a good choice to show off what was perhaps my most impressive talent.
“And who might you be, my dear?” Grindelwald asked, cocking his head to the side to study me.
“I’m Anne Harley,” I said. “It’s an honor to be here, sir.”
It was a bit more intimidating to face him as a human rather than a wolf. It struck me how incredibly peculiar this was; I was standing feet away from Gellert Grindelwald, the most notorious Dark wizard ever.
There had been a small outburst of titters and whispers at my name. I couldn’t possibly imagine why, but was spared the option of worrying too long.
“The honor is mine,” Grindelwald said, rising from his seat. He took my hand and kissed it. “One can only hope that pretty little head of yours holds more magic like you’ve just shown us.”
Tom cleared his throat loudly. “I assure you we’ve been training for quite some time in the hope of assisting you, sir.”
“Your hopes will soon be realized, my young friend. For it is time for us to depart,” Grindelwald announced. “Katarina, fetch the others. We shall leave for the embassy in a few short moments. Tonight, Belgium will fall to us.”
And so it did. I needn’t recount how we flooded the halls of the Magical Embassy in Brussels that night, or give an account of every poor soul I cursed or describe in detail the dead and bloody body of the Belgian Minister that lay at Grindelwald’s feet.
It was easier to take over a country than one might think. Once a country’s Minister is dead, it’s hard not to fall into submission to the man and army that had killed him. Grindlwald had Europe strangled with fear, and it seemed he would stop at nothing until he controlled it all.
It’s for the greater good, he had said, before blasting the ceiling apart with one mighty sweep of his wand, sending all hell raining down upon us.
It was hard not to watch him duel; it was hard not to respect him. Somehow I knew he was the enemy of the free world, and that we were really here to gain his trust only to betray him, but I still wanted him to like me. There was an undeniable aura of power he possessed that seemed to attract everything around him.
Or perhaps it was only I who had the weakness for power and could not tear myself away.
Because even as I sickened myself in my own cruelty in cursing and harming the innocent politicians trying futilely to escape us, I felt the power flowing in an uninterrupted charge from the tip of my wand to my very toes, and I didn’t want it to go away.
I liked being on the winning side. I liked watching my magic strike down my enemies. And I couldn’t help but wonder if someday, I’d be the one people looked up to and couldn’t help but admire.
It was a dream and a nightmare for me, this preoccupation with power I think I’ve always had. It had lain rather dormant before that night in Belgium when I discovered what I had become capable of. Maybe if I’d never been given the chance, I wouldn’t have ended up how I have. Maybe if Tom hadn’t been there to feed me lustful ideas of domination and glory, I wouldn’t have thought of them myself.
Yet alas, I’d been given just the life that would help me nurse my weakness with abandon.
Grindelwald had dismissed us.
Tom and I, covered in the ash and sweat and blood of battle, stood shaking—from the cold, leftover adrenaline, or something else, I don’t know—only about a block from where we had just helped Grindelwald lay waste to another country’s Ministry. The embassy lay in smoldering ruin, occasional licks of flame still sprouting and touching the sky with their orange fingers. I could still hear the shouts and whoops of Grindelwald’s most loyal supporters celebrating their latest victory.
The street we were on was quiet though, lit only by the flickering streetlights. The Muggles had not been awakened by the siege; our wars would forever be separate. Neither wizardkind nor the Muggles would ever know or care that another war was going on. It was only I who knew that.
“I won’t go any longer Tom,” I told him, half laughing at my jittering teeth and half utterly serious. “It’s so very cold and I’m tired. We must stop for a moment.”
He didn’t argue or comment about weakness as he normally would have done.
“Oh, Anna. I suppose you deserve to rest after what we’ve done tonight,” Tom said, pointing his wand at the remains of Belgium’s Ministry. “I doubt anyone else back at school can say they’ve had a weekend so eventful.”
I laughed nervously, clutching my cloak around me.
“But we’ve only a bit longer until we get to the station, we can’t stop now. We must learn to apparate anyway, this is ridiculous,” Tom continued, looking up into the night, which was producing a few fluffy snowflakes.
They landed in his black hair and looked wonderful there. He took off again, evidently unable to contain his energy. For once, he looked his age: grinning like a boy and walking with the most uncharacteristic spring.
I can only assume I looked rather the same. It was impossible to describe the high produced by winning a duel, by seeing how very good with magic we had both become. I felt as if I could have dueled anyone then, even Grindelwald himself.
“Tom wait,” I giggled, trotting to catch up with him and slipping on a patch of ice.
He laughed too, though it was his genuine laugh that I loved, not the one for the teachers or the cruel, mirthless one. It was the kind of laugh I don’t think he ever meant to produce, the kind he couldn’t help.
Tom caught my arm to keep me from falling and spun me into him, holding me in his arms like a lover would. I gasped in surprise, because Tom never did anything like this. I had never had him snatch me up in his arms before, and the crackle of electricity I felt snake down my body only made me regret this even more. His face was close enough to kiss, and for one breathless moment, I almost thought he was going to kiss me.
Instead he picked me up and spun me around—honestly, I’m not even lying, it was just like a perfect scene from a movie. I feared my heart was fluttering so fast it would stop as he set me down and said,
“Be careful, my Anna, I can’t have you hurting yourself now. You would be the person to escape unscathed from a warzone and then fall victim to the weather.”
“I, oh, yes…of course,” I stuttered, unable to form any thoughts due to the shock of Tom actually acting like a human being. And not only a normal human being, but a happy one. One that liked me.
Perhaps we should go into battle more often, if this is the effect it has on him.
I spent the next couple moments relearning how to breathe, because Tom had his hand on my wrist and was guiding me back toward the station so we could get home. It was so rare that he touch me other than to drag me somewhere or fix my technique for a spell, I rather had to get used to this.
It wasn’t like getting a hug from Joey. Oh, Joey. I had forgotten he existed all night. Perhaps he had been wondering where I was.
But when he held me in his arms and kissed me, I felt wonderful and warm and cherished. I felt safe. Having Joey hug me was like having a blanket around my shoulders.
But Tom? I could barely draw breath when he put his arms around me. He had certainly been warm, but I didn’t feel safe at all, I felt that only the slightest thing could pull him away from me, and I had better savor every second. All I could feel when Tom held me was a burning desire for him to pull me closer and never let go.
I had never before felt such a thing.
We had reached the station and Tom went to get our tickets. I was thinking that this could very possibly turn out to be a nice night for me when I heard the voice.
Something had been shouted at me in what sounded like German.
I turned to see a man in a uniform I had seen many times in the Muggle newspapers I smuggled into the house. He was one of the men at which I had funneled my rage over grandfather’s death. He was one of those men that belonged to Hitler, that crazy Muggle who thought he should rule the world.
The black symbol of Germany stood out on his chest like a bent spider. I couldn’t speak.
He switched to English: “Do you understand me, Fräulein? What are you doing wandering the streets at this time? You shouldn’t be out! Answer me!”
How dare he speak to me so? For all I knew, it could have been this very man that dropped the bomb that killed Grandpa and so many others. He was probably a murderer.
He stalked over to me and stood in front of me, hands on his hips. He was a great bit taller than me, and radiated a sense of self-importance.
“I ask you once more, what are you doing? And you’d better have a good answer.”
I couldn’t help but snarl.
“The day I answer you, I’ll be dead and cold in the ground, scum.”
He looked deeply affronted, and snatched me by the arm.
“Speak to me like that and I’ll see you thrown in jail.”
“Take your hands off me,” I whispered, for fear of shouting if I raised my voice. The effect of being so suddenly confronted with one of the men I had dreamt of exacting revenge on was more powerful than I had expected. I hated everything about him.
“I’ll put my hands wherever I want, and you’ll shut your mouth about it. You’re coming with me,” he said, and then he had one of those Muggle devices in his hand, those metal wands that killed people at a surprising rate despite being so primitive.
It was this that made me do it; I couldn’t stand the sight of it, I couldn’t bear seeing one of their weapons of metal and machine, those barbaric instruments of death and torture they used, those Muggles.
I had a better weapon than any of them though. I pulled my wand and before the man in front of me could even finish laughing, I pointed it at his chest.
It worked. I felt a current rush to my fingertips and through my wand and he crumpled to the ground in agony, his screams hurting my ears. And yet I didn’t stop. I couldn’t. The fury in my chest wouldn’t allow it, so I watched him curl upon himself like a child and raised my wand only higher.
My arm was shaking and I feared I would collapse with the exertion. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.
The curse broke with my concentration. I turned to see Tom behind me, his dark eyes expressionless as he took in the sobbing guard on the ground. He finally looked up at me, and I became conscious for the first time that I was crying too; wetness blurring my vision and beginning to run down my face though I tried to keep it back.
Tom said nothing, but knelt down next to the guard, the familiar silvery spell bursting from his wand as he muttered, “Obliviate.”
I stood there sniffing back the sobs I didn’t want, unsure if I hated myself or the guard more. Tom stood up and came back to my side. For a fleeting moment I wasn’t sure what he’d do. Would he be angry for my reckless use of magic? Would he congratulate me on finally being able to cast the spell I hadn’t been able to before?
He did neither. He simply took my hand again and pulled me toward the train. I went with him, the gravity of what I had done setting in.
I was no longer a failure at the Cruciatus Curse. At the moment I had done it, it was the only thing I could think to do, it was a natural extension of what I had been feeling. I had wanted to cause pain. I had wanted it more than anything.
I felt a bit sick on the way home. I tried not to think. I tried to act nonchalant, but I knew Tom saw through it. By the time I got back to Hogwarts, all I could do was thank God I was home safe, and that there was no one awake. I went to bed horrified and second guessing, the adrenaline and giddiness from dueling all wasted away.
I started to really think about everything: I had helped the most dangerous dark wizard take over an innocent country, and then tortured a man I didn’t know into near madness. I wasn’t sure what I was becoming.
Surely I would be none of it if it weren’t for Tom Riddle. I slept fitfully. But I dreamt of him.
A/N Hi everybody sorry this one took a bit longer than usual, but I've been busy :( I really hope you liked it and would love your opinions/predictions about anything from Grindelwald to Tom and Anna. I think I'm going to try something a little different in the next chapter with a bit of it from a different pov...!
I'm not sure yet, but if I like how it turns out and use it, I'll definitely need your feedback so please stay tuned haha
Thanks for reading and reviewing!
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