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Their Finest Hour by Cassius Alcinder
Chapter 17 : The Battle of Nurmengard
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 4


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A cold wind filled the air as nighttime descended on the Black Forest, the last traces of sunlight departing from a place that was never very bright to begin with.  On the steep edge of a mountain, Albus Dumbledore concealed himself amongst the underbrush in a small clearing, overlooking the path below which led to Nurmengard.  The enormity of the task ahead seemed very clear as he looked down towards the dark, towering walls of stone which dominated the landscape.  The massive castle was surrounded by a desolate wasteland of dirt, having destroyed a large portion of what had once been a very vibrant forest.  Its imposing towers and sinister designs seemed to be the perfect reflection of the dark wizard who had constructed them. 

Aberforth sat a few yards away from his brother, and he was deeply focused on his own thoughts and not very talkative.  There was still a very awkward tension between the Dumbledore brothers, but Albus was pushing that to the back of his mind as he concentrated on the imminent battle.  Elphias Doge, Benny Hamilton, and Minerva McGonagall patietenly awaited Dumbledore’s instructions.  As of yet, they were the only wizards who had answered his call to arms. 

After breaking the unplottable charm and showing Dumbledore where to find Nurmengard, Sebastian Schwartz fled to seek refuge in England, where Dumbledore had personally assured him he could find the protection of the Ministry and a new identity.  Schwartz had also provided Dumbledore with a detailed map of the facility, which he meticulously studied.  It appeared that Nurmengard mainly consisted of two large towers, one of which was Grindelwald’s personal quarters, and the other of which was a well guarded prison for his opponents.  There was a large covered courtyard between the two towers, which was where Dumbledore anticipated the bulk of the fighting would take place.  There was also a second, smaller fortress under the command of General Heinrich Himmler that guarded the entrance to the path to Nurmengard.  Dumbledore had managed to bypass that fort to reach his current position, and his Muggle comrades were preparing to launch an assault of their own on that building.     

Dumbledore looked back at his small group of comrades.  He had no doubts at all about their courage, skill or dedication, but what he couldn’t help wondering was whether or not this very small group would have sufficient numbers to attack such a powerful foe.  As he scanned the sky, mindlessly looking for stars on this cloud covered night; he noticed a bright object that seemed to be rapidly approaching.  As it came closer, he was delighted to see a yellow carriage being pulled through the air by a team of flying horses.  The carriage flew lower and lower until it skidded to a stop on the mountainside, bumping and crashing along the uneven ground.  Unfazed by her rough landing, Olympe Maxime calmly stepped out of the carriage, followed by about fifteen other French wizards. 

“That was a very welcome sight, Olympe, your presence here is very much appreciated.” said Dumbledore, looking up to make eye contact as she towered over him. 

 “Albus, you helped free our country, it’s the least we could do.” she responded.

A succession of loud cracks then filled the air as Dumbledore turned to see a much unexpected sight; Vladimir Komissarov, the Russian Minister of Magic, had appeared, along with about twenty Eastern European wizards.  Throughout his political career and his time teaching at Durmstrang, Komissarov had developed something of a personal rivalry with Dumbledore, who did not approve of his penchant for the dark arts.  But now, the two bearded wizards were united by a common foe and prepared to march into battle together. 

Komissarov removed his thick wool overcoat as he greeted Dumbledore with a tense but firm handshake.  After giving into mounting pressure to join the resistance, Komissarov had succeeded in driving many of Grindelwald’s forces out of Russia, and now he wanted to help Dumbledore finish the job. 

Brief introductions were made as Dumbledore gathered his now much larger group of wizards around him to brief them on the current situation.  He was just beginning to speak when he was interrupted by the sudden appearance of one of the people he least expected to see. 

“Well Albus, we can’t have you go taking all the credit and the glory, we all know it was completely my doing that we even found this place.” said a very blustering Horace Slughorn.

Dumbledore couldn’t help but laugh, knowing that Slughorn’s revisionist history of the war was already being written.  He attempted to continue his talk when Slughorn interrupted again.

“So I’m assuming you have a plan, Albus.  I mean one does not simply walk into Nurmengard.”

Dumbledore smiled as he informed the gathered wizards, “The main entrance is lightly guarded; it appears Grindelwald has left it that way to set a trap for us.  And it is my intention to spring that trap.  So yes, Horace, we will simply walk into Nurmengard.”

Dumbledore further elaborated on the details of his plan as the multi-national gathering of wizards listened intently, preparing for an epic showdown. 

*****

Evans absentmindedly cleaned his rifle as he rehearsed the assault plan in his head for about the five hundredth time.  The soldiers weren’t sure just how useful they would be in a wizarding battle, but when it was learned that Heinrich Himmler and a regiment of Nazi SS troops were guarding a small fortress adjacent to Nurmengard, the mission seemed like a perfect fit for their unit.  As more and more of Europe was liberated from Nazi occupation, the news was slowly coming to light of the full scale of atrocities the regime had committed, and Evans was very anxious for the opportunity to apprehend the man who had personally planned so many of them.     

“It’s just like medieval times, lads, storming the castle,” he announced, in an attempt to break the tension.  As he eyed the stone fortress, he had completely lost track of just how many times he had recited the famous monologue from Shakespeare’s Henry V in his head. 

“Aye, back when the Scottish warrior poets bravely fought against English oppression,” said MacDonald with a grin. 

“Bloody rebels, always biting the hand that feeds them,” grumbled Bromhead.

“Well we had a rebellion of our own, and I think we Yanks are getting on just fine without you,” joked Spinelli. 

The broadly smiling Reynolds then chimed in, “And Australia didn’t even need a rebellion, we’re basically just an improved version of England anyway.”

The five men laughed, sharing a brief moment of levity before their serious battle, until they were interrupted by the approach of a platoon of Russian special operations troops marching in organized rows.  The formation came to a halt as its leader stepped forward to greet Evans.

“Good evening, I am Colonel Alexander Ivanov of the Soviet Red Army.”

“Lieutenant John Evans, Sir,” said Evans as he shook his outstretched hand, wondering what the exact protocol would be for dealing with a senior officer from another country. 

“Lieutenant, my orders are to place my unit at your disposal.  We will join the assault at the time and place of your choosing,” said Ivanov, as he and his men began to set up their equipment. 

“I don’t trust the Russians.  General Patton keeps saying we’re going to have to fight them next.” Spinelli whispered in Evans’ ear.

“Please, one war at a time.” responded Evans, who was very relieved to have the added manpower.  

The men struggled to make new acquaintances through the language and cultural barriers as they meticulously studied the plans of the fortress and moved into position for the assault.  Beneath the cover of nightfall, they crawled through the underbrush to the base of the fortress wall, where they waited in silence for the opportune moment to strike. 

Evans watched carefully as the lone sentry on duty made his rounds along the tops of the four walls.  The fortress was constructed like a medieval castle, with four high walls topped by battlements where the defending troops would man the balconies and have a protected position to fire down from.  A large courtyard was in the middle surrounding a protected keep, and a labyrinth of rooms and corridors were interspersed throughout the walls. 

When the sentry reached the furthest possible point on the opposite wall, Evans gave the signal, and the soldiers jumped into action.  They rose to their fate and quickly began to throw grappling hooks over the edges of the battlements.  Some were lucky enough to latch their hooks on the first try, others required a few more attempts, but within a minute or so, all the ropes were securely fastened and they could begin the daunting task of scaling the walls. 

Evans could already feel his hands beginning to blister as he tightly gripped the thick rope, digging his boots into the hard stone wall as he used the strength of his legs to propel himself upward.  He pressed his body closely against the wall, trying to present as small a target as possible in case a sentry suddenly appeared. 

“It’s just like rock climbing in the Outback!” exclaimed Reynolds, to which Evans was unable to muster a laugh. 

Finally, after an arduous climb, Evans lifted himself over the top of the battlement and onto the sturdy balcony.  As he stood up, all along the wall the soldiers were moving into position.  The hapless sentry, who was now fully aware of their prescence, sounded the alarm as a group of German soldiers began to form atop the opposite wall. 

Spats of gunfire were exchanged as the group of Allied soldiers advanced as a cohesive unit, driving back their hastily organized foes.  Evans personally led the charge as they moved from wall to wall, gaining ground from the Germans who attempted to maintain some semblance of organization as they fell back.  They moved much faster than expected and soon found themselves on the opposite wall. 

“Something isn’t right, that was far too easy.”  Bromhead called out as he ran to catch up to Evans. 

Evans paused; he knew that Bromhead was usually right, and he reproached himself for being so careless.  Evans and Bromhead then looked around for abnormalities, and they soon noticed the hastily hidden wires that were lining the wall. 

“Jump!” bellowed Evans, as he grabbed the startled MacDonald and leaped and tumbled into the courtyard below, staying close to the ground and attempting to find any type of cover they could.  Moments later, rubble and dust flew in every direction as the wall they had just been standing on was rocked by a large explosion. 

“It appears it was rigged,” called out Evans, in a typical English understatement. 

“It was a trap! Those bastards!” yelled the much blunter Spinelli. 

“Good thing we jumped in time, now where is Reynolds?” asked Bromhead

“I’m over here!” called out the Australian, as he picked himself up from a pile of rubble.

The Russian troops were a bit disarrayed, but it appeared that most of them had managed to survive the explosion as well.  Evans was relieved to have dodged this first obstacle, but there was definitely no time to rest.  The now fully alert German garrison came to life as they lined up on along the three intact walls, turning the courtyard below into a death trap. 

Evans dodged the hail of bullets that were raining down on them from all sides, watching helplessly as Colonel Ivanov and many other Russians fell. 

“We have to get to the keep!” Evans yelled, knowing that it would not be easy, but that anything was better than remaining where they were in the deadly crossfire. 

They charged across the open courtyard, pausing briefly along the way to exchange fire with the guards on the rooftops, until they kicked open the door and forced their way into the protected center of the fortress.  They charged through the entrance, and found themselves at the end of a long, dark corridor lined with medieval suits of armor.  Bullets loudly echoed through the stone walls as more and more Germans began to emerge.  The group fell back, wildly firing their weapons in a fighting retreat, until they reached a small closet and barricaded the door. 

With the courtyard now mostly clear, the German garrison began to pour into the keep as well, determined to apprehend whatever remained of the invaders. As ever increasing numbers of footsteps loudly echoed in the corridor outside, Evans began to realize the hopelessness of their situation.  There were five of them barricaded in the closet, with several dozen enemies outside and nowhere else to run.  They did not know what had become of their Russian allies, or if any of them were still in the fight.  Despite their dire situation, Evans couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of romanticism; after spending his school years reading heroic stories of British soldiers facing overwhelming odds in every faraway place from Cape Town to Kabul, here he was living one of his own. 

The men huddled together, clutching their rifles in the small, enclosed space, as a German officer called out in passable English, “Resistance is futile. Lay down you weapons and open the door.”

Evans looked around at the expressions of grim determination among his comrades, and their unspoken agreement was well understood; surrender was not an option.  As he searched for the perfect response, he remembered the story about the American General in Belgium who had answered a similar request with “Nuts” and was determined to top that.  He felt as if the spotlight of history shone on him, that this was his opportunity to add a quote for posterity to the great British lexicon.  The words of great Englishmen from Shakespeare to Tennyson to Kipling ran through his mind as he strained himself to find the perfect response. 

But before that response came, MacDonald yelled out, “Kiss my Scottish arse!”

Deciding that this answer sufficiently got their point across, the five men stood and gathered at the door, knowing what they had to do.  They didn’t have much hope for success, but their duty came first and foremost, and they were ready to fight to the last.  They ensured their rifles were fully loaded as they crowded around the entrance in anticipation.  They then yelled a loud battle cry as they kicked the door open and charged into the corridor, wildly firing their weapons in the direction of the massed group of Germans. 

The Germans, who had expected the group to surrender, were greatly taken aback by the sudden attack of the men running towards them, and they rapidly fell back, leaving their fallen comrades behind as they struggled to form an organized line. 

“That’s for Pearl Harbor, you assholes!” yelled Spinelli, aware of but not caring about the dubious historical accuracy of his statement. 

They charged forward as the guards fell back through the main corridor, getting closer and closer to Himmler’s headquarters room.  They covered each other as they leapfrogged each other’s positions, taking shelter behind the medieval suits of armor that lined the walls.  The SS troops continued to retreat until they ran out of room, forming a defensive position in front of the entrance to Himmler’s headquarters. 

Evans tossed his rifle aside as its bullets were completely spent, and began to open fire with his revolver.  He looked across at Bromhead, who acknowledged that he was in the same predicament.  They would soon be out of ammunition altogether.  As successful as their initial attack had been, it was now beginning to stall, and they were still outnumbered and outgunned.  It appeared that their final stand was soon approaching, and it was not likely to end well. 

Evans was just beginning to contemplate using one of the lances from the suits of armor as a weapon when a massive explosion rocked the corridor and the earth seemed to shake below them.  As the dust cleared, a quick succession of red lights filled the air, as the startled and scattered Germans were overcome by a flurry of stunning spells.  The men looked on in wonder as Minerva McGonagall calmly stepped through the cloud of dust where the wall had been.

“I thought you boys might need a hand.” she said nonchalantly.  She then made eye contact with MacDonald and leaped over the pile of rubble and into his arms.  They furiously snogged each other, completely forgetting their surroundings.   

Evans cleared his throat loudly as he attempted to get their attention.  “Excuse me; I really hate to interrupt a good bit of snogging, but Heinrich bloody Himmler is in the next room and it would be nice if we could capture him.”

Minerva’s eyes narrowed in determination as she regained her bearings.  “Let’s get that bastard.”

 With speed and skill that left the men looking on in awe, Minerva took out the door with an explosive charm, and then ran into the large room filled with maps, phone lines, and Nazi flags, where she knocked out the two hapless communications officers who had remained behind with stunning spells.  Completely caught off guard, Heinrich Himmler got up from his desk and attempted to flee, but he fell and lost his balance thanks to a well aimed jelly legs jinx.  When he finally pulled himself off the ground, he was met by Evans pointing a revolver at his face, and wisely decided to give up. 

“Winston Churchill sends his regards.” said Evans with a smile. 

Minerva conjured ropes to bind the dozens of stunned German soldiers, while Spinelli hastily began his report to headquarters, knowing full well that the official version of Himmler’s capture was going to be heavily changed.  While this was going on, the four men who had been together from the beginning shared hearty handshakes as they realized their role in the war was now over.  They had been through the most trying of times together and become closer than brothers.  Nothing was said, but nothing had to be; they were lucky to be alive, and relived that it might finally be all over. 

*****

Dumbledore stood at the forefront as the group of wizards walked together in a close formation; their shield charms forming a protective bubble as they approached the dark, sinister towers of Nurmengard.  It seemed as if their presence had not yet been observed as they snuck around the mountain pass and approached the drawbridge before the main entrance.  They could hear the faint echoes of gunfire in the distance, indicating that a Muggle battle was going on.  While they were concerned for the fate of the Muggle comrades, they forced themselves to focus on the very dangerous task at hand.    

Dumbledore pulled his hat tightly over his head as he shouted instructions to the group of wizards behind him.  “I don’t need to tell you what’s at stake here or how great the danger is.  Stay alert, stay together, and leave Grindelwald to me.”

 With a powerful swish of his wand, Dumbledore opened the castle’s drawbridge, which slammed to the ground, allowing them to safely cross the dark, murky waters of the moat.  He then focused his energy on another powerful spell, and the large wooden door to the front entrance slowly swung open.  The loud creaking noises made by its deliberate movements echoed through the night air as the wizards prepared themselves for what they might find inside. 

When the door was finally opened, Dumbledore motioned for the others to follow as he charged inside.  As they crossed the threshold into the cavernous hall of the castle with its towering walls of stone, bright sparks of every color imaginable illuminated the dimly lit room as they were seemingly bombarded on all sides by curses from Grindelwald’s dark wizards. 

The initial shock of the attack hit the group of wizards hard, and they were momentarily confused and disoriented as several of their colleagues fell and the attacks seemed to be coming from every possible direction.  However, Dumbledore maintained his calm demeanor under fire, and he was soon able to rally them into a cohesive fighting unit.  Aberforth and Slughorn ran towards the prison tower, planning to set loose a large group of prisoners who could aid in the fight.  Meanwhile, the rest of the group began to zero in on individual opponents with which to duel, while Dumbledore patiently scanned the room, looking for the dark wizard he had come here to confront. 

At the top of a large spiral staircase, Grindelwald stood on his balcony overlooking the hall below as he watched the events unfold.  This was the battle he had been waiting for, and he was ready for it.  Dumbledore would soon be dead, and with him, the opposition would be crushed.  Grindelwald paced the balcony, aiming the elder wand at the battle below.  He casually fired off a killing curse, and watched as a Russian wizard disappeared in a flash of green.  Laughing at their helplessness in the face of his power, he fired another curse, and another opponent fell.  He then recognized the figure of Elphias Doge joining the fight below and began to take aim, grinning at the prospect of eliminating Dumbledore’s closest ally.  But before he knew what hit him, the loud crack of an apparating foe appeared behind him, and a well placed jelly links jinx threw him off his balance. 

Grindelwald stood up to see Albus Dumbledore standing behind him, his seemingly collected demeanor a stark contrast to the surrounding chaos.

 “Good evening, Gellert,” said Dumbledore in a calm, commanding voice. 

Grindelwald grinned, “Albus Dumbledore, you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this.  This will be a day long remembered, the day of your final defeat.”

Grindelwald cast a killing curse which Dumbledore reacted to quickly, conjuring a small silver ball in mid air that seemed to absorb the force of the curse, which then exploded, shaking the balcony with its powerful concussion. 

Grindelwald laughed, “I figured killing you wouldn’t be that simple, but don’t worry, your time will come soon enough.”

“You quest for power has made you blind, and it will ultimately destroy you.” Dumbledore calmly responded. 

Grindelwald lunched another killing curse, sending green light flying in Dumbledore’s direction.  Thinking quickly, Dumbledore fired a curse at the chains supporting the iron chandelier that hung from the ceiling, causing the structure to drop.  The spell was timed perfectly, and the chandelier was shattered as it absorbed the impact of the killing curse.  Not giving up, Grindelwald tried one more time, but Dumbledore was able to transfigure a tapestry on the wall into a large rock, which bore the brunt of the curse. 

“Why must you so rudely destroy my decorations?” grumbled Grindelwald, as he cast a powerful batch of fiendfyre from his wand. 

With intense concentration, Dumbledore was able to conjure a protective bubble of water cascading from his wand, blocking the path of the powerful flames which tried to envelop him.  He strained hard; as it required every ounce of strength he possessed to maintain the charm.  As the flames began to die out, Dumbledore finally exhaled a great sigh of relief. 

Sensing the opportunity presented by Dumbledore’s momentarily weakness, Grindelwald exclaimed, “Expilliarmus!”

Dumbledore felt his wand fly out of his hand, and helplessly dove after it as it moved beyond his grasp, tumbling all the way down the large, spiral stairwell towards the raging battle in the hall below. 

Grindelwald let out a hearty laugh, “I expected better from you, Albus, you were almost as easy to kill as your sister.”

“So you killed her!” Dumbledore growled angrily. 

Grindelwald shrugged, “Maybe I did, maybe you did it yourself, we’ll never really know.  The important thing is that she was holding you back from greatness.  You could have joined me, Albus.  We could have ruled the world together, but you had to let your antiquated sense of morality get in the way.  It’s a pity you never learned.”

“Once again, you are demonstrating how little you truly understand,” said Dumbledore, the anger welling up within him. 

Despite not having a wand, Dumbledore lunged to attack Grindelwald, who turned and reacted quickly. 

“Crucio!” he exclaimed, as Dumbledore collapsed to the ground in intense pain.  “It’s a shame it had to end like this, Albus.  I was never planning to kill you, but you have left me with no other choice.  But of course, simply killing you will not satisfy me.  I want to humiliate you.  I want the whole world to know just how badly you failed.”

In the arrogance of his moment of glory, Grindelwald did notice the gleam of triumph beginning to form in Dumbledore’s eyes.  The main conclusion of Dumbledore’s years of research and study was that if Grindelwald had one weakness, it was pride.  And now, if all went according to plan, pride was about to be his downfall. 

“We’ll start out easy, Albus.  Let’s see how you handle this.” said Grindelwald, as he cast a series of charms that brought to life three suits of armor that adorned the walls, which then moved to attack Dumbledore. 

Dumbledore took off his hat, and to his great relief, looked down to see the ruby encrusted hilt of the sword of Gryffindor waiting for him inside.  Wielding the sword, he nimbly dodged the lumbering movements of the enchanted knights, quickly destroying them with well placed counter attacks. 

“Well done!” said Grindelwald with a sarcastic clap, as he prepared to cast his next challenge. 

To Dumbledore’s great relief, his pet phoenix, Fawkes, arrived just when he was needed most.  With Dumbledore’s encouragement, Fawkes flew straight at Grindelwald and flapped his wings wildly as he lunged towards his face, causing a great distraction to the dark wizard, who angrily tried to swat him away.  When Fawkes finally dropped to the ground in a flash of green light and ashes, Dumbledore was given the opportunity he desperately needed.  With Grindelwald distracted, he lunged forward, aiming carefully as he threw the sword of Gryffindor. 

The sword flipped end over end as it glided through the air as if its aim was magically enhanced.  Grindelwald didn’t see it coming until it was too late, and the sword struck his hand, drawing large amounts of blood as he released his grip on the Elder Wand.  Fawkes made one last motion in his dying fall, sweeping the wand out of Grindelwald’s grasp as it fell rapidly down the spiral staircase, just as Dumbledore’s wand had done moments before.  A great look of shock came across his face as he admonished himself for possibly wasting a golden opportunity.   

They then turned to face each other; the two most powerful wizards in the world, armed with nothing more than their own malice.  They charged at each other to engage in hand to hand combat, desperately thrashing their arms and gripping each other’s robes to try to gain the upper hand.  Finally, Grindelwald succeeded in landing a powerful body blow, and Dumbledore winced in pain as he felt his ribs fracture.  Grindelwald followed up on his advantage, landing a powerful punch to Dumbledore’s face which knocked him to the ground.

Grindelwald laughed as he towered over him, “See, even without wands you are no match for my power.”

Dumbledore spit out the blood that was forming in his mouth as he pulled himself up.  “It’s not over yet.”

Grindelwald laughed in disbelief, “You always were a stubborn one, but you will learn to accept your defeat.”

With a grim determination, Grindelwald dug his feet in and charged, preparing to lunge at Dumbledore with the force of his entire body weight.  Dumbledore focused, channeling all his remaining energy into the task at hand.  As Grindelwald closed in and launched himself in his direction, Dumbledore finally succeeding is disapparating, and appearing again directly behind his foe.  Grindelwald had lost his balance in the attempted tackle, and Dumbledore grabbed the back of his robes and tossed him towards the staircase, where he tumbled violently before coming to a stop. 

Dumbledore recovered the sword of Gryffindor and ran over to his prostrate foe on the staircase, holding the edge of the blade against his neck. 

“It’s over Gellert, but even know it is not too late to renounce the error of your ways,” said Dumbledore in a confident voice as he stood over him.

Grindelwald looked up with nothing but sheer anger in his eyes as he gritted his teeth, preparing to attack again. 

“Don’t try it.” Dumbledore warned to no avail, as Grindelwald lunged at his legs.  Dumbledore lost his grip on the sword as the two wizards tumbled down the long staircase, grappling with each other as they continuously rolled over, slamming into the cold hard stone. 

When they finally reached the bottom, they two bruised and bloodied men lay still on the floor, lacking the strength to get up and move.  Dumbledore’s vision was blurred after the dizziness of his tumbling fall, but he could not help but notice the two wands, lying undisturbed on the floor, about twenty feet from where he lay. 

Summoning every ounce of strength in his body, Dumbledore pulled himself up to a standing position, grimacing as every fiber of his being seemed to scream out in pain.  He painfully clutched his ribs as he limped towards the wands, struggling mightily to place one foot in front of the other.  He looked around the surrounding battle as walked, and noticed Benny Hamilton swaggering like the Western gunfighter he so resembled, having just added Franz Dietrich to the large pile of bodies surrounding him.  Meanwhile, Elphias Doge had brought down Landalfo Padovisi, and Vladimir Komissarov had defeated Yomuri Yomoto in epic duel of dark, eastern magic.  All around, it seemed as if his allies were gaining the upper hand in the conflict.

Dumbledore felt as if he did not have the strength to go on, but he forced himself to dig deeper, reminding himself just how much was at stake, and much would be lost if he failed.  Finally he reached the wands and bent over to pick them up.  He then turned to face Grindelwald, wielding his own wand in one hand and the Elder Wand in the other. 

Grindelwald had just begun to pick himself off the ground as he turned to face Dumbledore wielding the two wands, and his expression of triumph soon turned to one of defeat and reluctant acceptance of his fate. 

“Go on, kill me now, you know you want to.” he goaded Dumbledore. 

Dumbledore paused as he took in the sights of death and destruction all around him, wondering if it had all been worth it.  On the one hand, he was tempted to give in to his anger, but he reproached himself, remembering his obligation to be the better man. 

“There are fates worse than death, Gellert.” He calmly stated, as he cast a powerful stunning spell with both wands that sent the unconscious Grindelwald flying backwards. 

Having used up the last of his strength, Dumbledore collapsed to his knees, his vision going blurry as he began to lose track of the world around him.  Through the fog and confusion, Dumbledore recognized a familiar beard and pair of blue eyes as Aberforth anxiously ran towards him and helped him up.

“It’s over, Albus, we won!” said Aberforth excitedly, as he helped Albus lean on him for support. 

Albus could summon the strength to speak, but he was overcome with emotion as he and Aberforth embraced as brothers for the first time in many years, powerfully demonstrating that the forces of love had once again come out on top. 

The last pockets of resistance were all too willing to surrender when they learned of Grindelwald’s defeat, and Dumbledore basked in adulation as the other wizards crowded around to congratulate him.  Up until the end he had never been sure if he really had it in him, but now he had successfully confronted his deepest fears and vanquished his most powerful foe.  A battle for the ages was complete, and the wizarding world was safe and free once more. 

Aberforth gave his brother a hearty slap on the back as he happily informed him, “Albus, it’s time to go home.”

 
 


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