Chapter 3 : Chapter 3: The Leaky Cauldron
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The storm continued to blow Gellert off his path as he passed over Northern France. It had taken him three days to fly through it.
He considered his situation. He was weak, his powers had not returned fully after his long imprisonment, and he hadn’t eaten properly for about three days, since the woeful breakfast Blagoy had given him on his final day in Nurmengard.
He slowed to a hover and rummaged through the pockets of the robes he had taken from Blagoy’s body. A few galleons lay at the bottom, along with a small Gringotts key. Gellert smiled; he now had access to at least some money.
He pondered for a moment. What was that pub called that he and Albus had frequently visited during Gellert’s time in England?
It took him a few moments to remember, and with a brief, skillful turn in mid-air, he disapparated.
Tom the barman looked up swiftly as a loud crack announced the arrival of a customer in his pub. An elderly but somehow powerful looking man in soaking blue robes, an old broomstick tucked under his arm, had appeared in the tavern. Tom grunted in greeting and went back to washing the glass in his hand. The man took in his surroundings and then strode up to the bar.
“A cup of tea and a full English, Mr…” The man asked. He wasn’t English, that was obvious.
“Tom.” Tom replied gruffly, setting down the man’s order and taking his money. “You’re not from round here are you?” he asked as he turned to place the money in the till. The man laughed.
“No, you could say that.” Gellert replied, his voice still hoarse from lack of use. “I’m Bulgarian. Name’s…” he paused. People would still remember his name; it would be wise to remain unnoticed. “Blagoy. I’m just visiting the country for a while” he finished. Tom clucked his tongue, seemingly amused. “Something funny?” Gellert asked, smiling. Tom picked up another glass and began polishing it.
“You could say that. It’s not the best time to be here.” He replied, deliberately vague. Gellert waited a moment to see if he would continue, before
“And why is that?” he asked, smiling, though he had a feeling he knew the answer.
“You know who, that’s why,” Tom snarled. “He’s taken over everything, the ministry, Hogwarts, most of the alley. I’d get out while you can, Blagoy.” Gellert shrugged.
“I have things to do. I’ll make sure to keep my nose clean. Out of interest, why don’t you use his name?” Gellert asked curiously through a mouthful of bacon. It’d been awhile since he’d eaten so well. Tom gave him a blank look, and then shook his head.
“Fear mainly, although there are rumours…” He paused and glanced around before continuing. “There are rumours he’s made the name taboo. They reason that anyone who uses it must be brave or mad enough to be his enemy,” Tom whispered. “They’ve nearly got a few members of the resistance because of it,” he added. Gellert nodded slowly, then opened his mouth to speak, but there was the crack of someone apparating, and Tom silenced him with a sharp glance.
Gellert turned slightly seat and saw a witch and a wizard looking around then inn. The witch had thick, shining dark hair, long eyelashes and heavily hooded eyes. Nevertheless, her face was slightly gaunt, as though she had aged significantly and was slowly reversing the process.
The wizard had long, wavy brown hair and a beard with thick eyebrows and a short, broad nose. His robes suggested he was from eastern Europe, like Gellert himself. He returned to his breakfast and absently dipped toast in his egg.
“Madam Lestrange" murmured Tom, nodding at the witch. She smiled pleasantly at Tom.
“Good morning.” She replied. Tom looked up at her, the surprise evident in her face. The pair disappeared out the back door of the inn. Gellert raised an eyebrow.
“I admit it’s been a long time since I’ve been to England, but surely it’s still customary to say good morning?” He asked curiously, the sarcasm barely evident in his voice. Tom gave a short, sharp laugh.
“Not from her.” He said bitterly. “That’s Bellatrix Lestrange, she’s You Know Who’s right hand witch. She’s brutal, and actually quite mad. If you want my advice, I’d stay away from her.” He added in a whisper. Gellert nodded and sipped his tea.
A poster behind the bar caught his eye. A young boy, around sixteen or seventeen, looked back at him. He had untidy black hair and round glasses over almond shaped eyes. The caption was “Undesirable Number One.”
“Who’s that then?” Gellert asked, nodding at the poster. Tom turned, then looked back at Grindelwald, astonishment in his eyes. “I’m not from round here, remember?” Gellert added coolly.
“Even so… I thought everyone knew him. It’s Harry Potter, you know the ‘Boy Who Lived’?” Tom said. He looked around. Only two other men were in the inn, and they were sat quietly in a corner, talking in low voices. Tom beckoned Gellert to lean in, and whispered “They say Potter is the only one who can bring You Know Who down. But nobody has a clue where he is. He’s been on the run for months. He’s sort of the symbol for all of the resistance to You know who.” Gellert nodded slowly.
“I've heard the tale of course,” he said quietly. “How Vold-You know who tried to kill him as a baby, and somehow failed. I’ve never seen him before though. We don’t hear much from England where I come from,” he continued. “Just the big things, like You Know Who coming back to power, Albus’ death,” he sighed, and Tom shook his head.
“Dumbledore was the one wizard You Know Who really feared. With him gone, a lot of the resistance just crumbled. Potter’s the last hope anyone has.” Tom paused, and looked at Gellert curiously. “Not many people called him Albus. Did you know him?” He asked casually. Gellert considered his response for a moment, then nodded.
“I met him in 1945, after his duel with Grindelwald. I was one of the Aurors who attacked Nurmengard that night, and I helped guard Grindelwald for years after. I retired about twenty years ago…I thought I should come and pay my respects to Albus. He was a good man,” Gellert lied, apprehension growing in his mind. Tom nodded and sighed again.
“He was a great man. He’s buried at Hogwarts I believe. It won’t be easy getting in there though, not with Snape as headmaster. If you do try, then good luck to you.” He added. Grindelwald smiled and drained his tea, rising as he did.
“Thank you Tom” he said, shaking Tom’s hand. “I have a few errands to run, and then I’ll decide what to do.” He picked up his broomstick and strode out the back door of the inn.
He hadn’t visited Diagon Alley in around a century, since he had been friends with Albus, but he still remembered how to enter. He tapped the brick with his wand and stepped into the alley. Most of the shops were boarded up, although a robes shop and a book shop still remained open.
He walked towards the towering white bank at the far end of the street, passing a colourful, ostentatious building that looked recently closed, called ‘Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.’ Gellert sneered. He hated joke shops.
He passed a man who was lying spread eagled on his back, stunned. Things were very different since his last visit. The man's eyes were opening slowly. Grindelwald stepped round him smartly and climbed the stairs into Gringotts. A security guard began to poke and prod him with a gold rod, much to Gellert’s annoyance. He shot the man a filthy look.
“Poke me that hard again and I will curse you into a thousand tiny pieces.” Gellert warned menacingly, glaring into the man’s eyes. The guard seemed to sense that he wasn’t joking, and allowed him through the large double doors, cowering slightly. As Gellert strode towards the top desk, he noticed a Goblin talking the two people he had seen in the Leaky Cauldron and another wizard down towards the vaults. ‘Best to avoid her, by the sounds of it’ he thought to himself as he reached the desk.
He looked up at the Goblin, who appeared not to have noticed him. Merlin he hated the little long fingered creatures, they repulsed him.
He cleared his throat loudly, in an attempt to make himself noticed. The goblin looked at him down his long nose, and scowled.
“Can I help you, Mr…” the goblin asked in an oily voice
“Stoyanov” Gellert prompted. “Blagoy Stoyanov. I’d like to make a withdrawal.” Gellert said quickly. Gringotts goblins did not often get fooled. They were almost as cunning as Gellert himself. The goblin surveyed him for a moment before replying.
“Very well. Do you have your vault key Mr Stoyanov? And your wand, for identification,” the goblin asked, his beady little eyes taking in every detail of Gellert. Grindelwald nodded and fished around in his pocket, withdrawing the tiny key and Blagoy's wand and handing them to the goblin.
He examined it for a moment, before returning it. “Everything seems to be in order Mr Stoyanov. Nagnuk!” He shouted at a small, white haired goblin, who waddled over. “Escort Mr Stoyanov to his vault, number 101. He wishes to make a withdrawal,” he ordered, the oily manner dropped as he addressed his understudy.
The goblin looked at Gellert. “I’ll need to take your broom, Mr Stoyanov. It’s the banks policy.” He said, holding out a grizzled hand. Gellert scowled, but handed the broom over.
“If you’ll follow me sir!” Nagnuk squeaked, and waddled off behind the desk. Soon, the two were blasting along the rails at breakneck speed. Gellert had never enjoyed the ride, and he didn’t start now. He sat in his seat, scowling all the way.
Goblins and a roller coaster was pretty much hell, although it beat all those years in Nurmengard. Just.
Finally, the cart came to a shuddering halt, outside vault 101. “Vault 101 Mr Stoyanov, your key please!” Nagnuk squeaked, apparently enthusiastic. Gellert handed him the key wordlessly-he felt rather ill after the ride. Nagnuk opened the vault door and allowed Gellert to sweep all of Blagoy’s gold into his pockets.
In total, there was around 150 galleons, which would serve Gellert until he could open either his or his aunt Bathilda’s vault. The goblin raised an eyebrow. “Going somewhere, sir?” He squeaked, suspicion obvious in his voice. Grindelwald glared at him.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business goblin.” He replied coldly. “Return me to the surface, it’s freezing down here. Nagnuk gave him a suspicious glance before returning to the cart. The door closed behind them, and Gellert stepped lightly onto the cart. Just as Nagnuk began to pull the levers that would set them off again, they both heard a distant roar. “What was that?” Gellert asked apprehensively. The goblin turned to him, grinning wickedly.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business, human.” Nagnuk replied, the squeak of his voice suddenly gone. Grindelwald glared at him. If he hadn’t needed the foul creature to return to the surface, he would have cursed it off the cart and into the abyss. The cart rattled along the track, passing two carts full of goblins and security carts.
“Something’s going on here…” Gellert muttered, clutching his wand inside his robes. The goblin merely cackled and urged the cart on faster, before bringing it to a violent, jerky stop. Gellert was flung forward, and nearly fell to the floor. The goblin cackled wickedly again.
As he picked himself up, Gellert noticed a man huddled in a corner, squeezed between two rocks. On closer inspection, Gellert realised it was the man he’d seen entering with Bellatrix and her companion.
He decided not to inform the goblins-any friend of Lestrange and Voldemort was no friend of his. Plus, he didn't really like the goblins either. He picked himself up and dusted down his robes. He looked at Nagnuk, who seemed to be daring him to respond to his insolent laughter. Grindelwald smiled at him instead. “Shall we?” he asked in a falsely polite voice. The goblin scowled at him and returned to entrance hall of the bank. Grindelwald, satisfied with this reaction, followed him, finding the goblin and his superior with the oily voice conversing.
They looked at Gellert as he entered.
“Mr Stoyanov, we must ask you to wait in the bank for a moment. There’s been an attempted robbery, and nobody is allowed to leave at the moment.” The goblin with the oily voice announced with a small smile. Grindelwald feigned a look of outrage-he’d technically broken in himself. Not that they could know that-he hoped.
“Why!” He demanded, his face flushed with colour. “I only went to my own vault, ask him!” he roared, pointing at Nagnuk.
“I’m sure you have, Mr Stoyanov. But it’s just a precaution. Please, just hold on for a moment.” The oily voiced goblin replied in an attempted soothing voice. Two guards appeared on either side of him, their wands drawn. Grindelwald kept a tight hold of his own, removing it unnoticed from the inside pocket of his robes. “Sit down, Mr Stoyanov. These guards will-“ But the goblin was cut off by another roar, this time it seemed much closer. Gellert noticed a fearful glance between the two goblins, before there was an almighty crash as a huge crater in the floor opened.
“PROTEGO!” Roared Grindelwald, drawing his wand in a flash, producing a powerful shield charm between him and the gaping hole in the floor. Several large chunks of stone were deflected by the charm. Then, too Gellert’s utter amazement, a large, pale white dragon climbed through the hole. Even more amazing, he saw three young people hanging off the dragon’s spikes, apparently unbeknownst to it. Two of the people were, strangely, dressed identical to Bellatrix and her companion, but looked totally different. Comprehension dawned on him suddenly; the two he had seen in the Leaky Cauldron were obviously disguised as Bellatrix and her companion. But if that was so, then who was the third person hanging on the dragon. Gellert realised as he turned around.
The shock of black hair and glasses were unmistakable; it was Potter.
The two guards either side of him had apparently noticed this as well, as they yelled and pointed their wands at him. Grindelwald thought fast; if Potter was the only one who could defeat Voldemort, it would be inconvenient if he died. Voldemort’s defeat was necessary in Grindelwald’s attempts to reacquire the Elder wand.
With a slash of his wand, he hit the guard to his right with a jet of purple fire, causing him to crumple to the floor, quite still. The guard to his left turned in horror and roared furiously at Gellert, and raised his wand.
“Avada Kedavra!” Gellert roared, and the green flash of light hit the guard in the chest, where he dropped like a stone. The two goblins gave an outraged cry and ran towards him. Grindelwald whirled to face them. “CONFRINGO!” He bellowed, slashing his wand downwards. The ground beneath the two goblins exploded, sending their battered bodies windmilling through the air.
At this point, there was a flash of light from the dragons back. It roared in pain and leapt up, shattering the glass dome in the middle of the ceiling. It forced it’s way out and took flight; the air hummed with each powerful wing stroke. It’s departure left Gellert to face the remaining goblins and guards.
Offensive spells began to rain towards him, and he was hard pressed to deal with all of them. He whirled around, ducking and diving, occasionally letting off his own spell. But it seemed the numbers would be too many.
Then he got an idea. “Locomotor desk!” he muttered, blocking three more curses with a flourish of his wand at the same time. The large desk the oily voiced goblin had hidden behind leapt forward, allowing Gellert to hide behind it.
He could feel curses thumping the solid wood- he didn’t have much time. He turned on the spot, trying to disapparate. But nothing happened- the goblins seemed to have wards preventing apparition inside the bank. Another curse hit the desk, and it shuddered, buckling slightly under the pressure of being hit with so many spells. Gellert had only seconds. “Accio silver arrow!” he yelled, and his broomstick burst from a cupboard to his right. It flew towards him and hovered gently at waist height. Gellert shot another blasting curse around the corner of the desk. The blue bolt of light shot across the hall and hit the wall just above the main entrance.
There was a huge blast as the wall exploded, and several members of the guard screamed in horror as it began to collapse. Grindelwald leapt onto the silver arrow and shot through the hole in the ceiling; the collapsing wall giving him time to escape. He watched as the front of the bank collapsed, sending shock waves across London. People in the alley below screamed and yelled.
But Gellert didn’t hear them. He disapparated with a loud crack, ready to move on with his plan.
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