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Ramifications

Feb 20, 1992, 5:45 PM, Near Hagrid’s Home

The air was full of the sound of metal scraping against the frozen ground and the stench of manure as I went about my work.

It wasn’t a smell I particularly liked, but the benefits that came with this job far outweighed the negatives.

Hagrid stood over yonder, drawing the thestrals to him with a sack of rabbits. Its bottom was soaked through with blood, which dripped slowly into the snow beneath the man’s feet, dyeing it a bright crimson.

With a final grunt, I transferred the last of it to the wheelbarrow and set the shovel to the side.

I wiped the sweat beading on my forehead and grimaced, feeling my shirt cling to my clammy skin. I resisted the urge to draw my wand.

I needed to be at least fifteen feet away from the… material if I wanted to get dry and cleaned up.

It was annoying, but necessary.

And so, I walked the short distance, cast a few spells and went back to the wheelbarrow.

“Need help, Adam?” Hagrid said, sending a quick glance my way.

“No, I’ve got it.” I said, smirking to myself. “Besides, this is good exercise.”

“Aye!” Hagrid thundered in agreement, startling the poor thestrals who had been slowly filtering into the clearing. “Nothing like some exercise to get you feeling alive.”

Oh, how right you are… I thought. But not for the reasons you think.

Absol broke off from her group, bumping against me in greeting.

“Hey, girl.” I caressed her head, smiling when she crooned in pleasure. “Missed me, huh?”

Her only response was to raise her head so I’d scratch her neck.

I rolled my eyes and did what she wanted. What a spoiled princess.

Eventually, I stopped, much to Absol’s dismay.

“Sorry, Absol.” I said, gesturing towards the wheelbarrow and the shovel off to the side. “I’ve some work to do.”

She moved towards the wheelbarrow, likely in an attempt to push it forward for me.

“No, girl.” I said with a laugh. “I have to do it, myself.”

The exercise was important.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned from dealing with Alef Ard, it’s that powerful magic can potentially cause deep exhaustion to set in. I thought, watching my companion turn her beak up at me and trot off to her herd. I’ll need to get stronger and gain more stamina, and it’ll have to be done the old fashioned way. There are no shortcuts.

At least. I amended, recalling one of the passages I’d read during my search for Strong Blood. No shortcuts that won’t cause me to die earlier than I can afford to.

Becoming an adult more quickly was something I was a hundred percent behind, but not at the cost of my own lifespan.

I was going to get there, anyway. There was no real hurry.

“You’ve still got time to make it up to ‘er, Adam.” Hagrid said, standing in the middle of the thestral feeding frenzy as he threw the rabbits in all directions.

“I’m sure she’ll forgive me, in time.” Was my dry response.

The large man was about to reply, but drew his hand back as one of the taller thestrals tried to snap at it. “Back! Wait your turn!”

The thestral stood to its full height, doing its best to intimidate Hagrid, but the man was more exasperated than anything at this display.

“We do this every time.” Hagrid said, maintaining his composure. “You think I’m going to give up now? When will yeh ever learn— too stubborn fer your own good.”

It was a few seconds later that the standoff ended with the thestral backing down and getting a few hares for his trouble.

I shook my head at the exchange before going back to work. Wheeling my cargo to the greenhouses and back was a short affair; ten minutes to get there, another ten minutes for the return trip.

All in all, it wasn’t a long walk, but it was very hard on the body.

And that, in turn, is good for me. I thought to myself as I reached the greenhouses and deposited the cargo at the usual spot. The more I do this, the stronger I get and the more magic this body can handle.

The logic behind this wasn’t as sound as I would have liked, though. In the books and movies, Voldemort’s new body had looked more like a living corpse than a healthy human being.

He wouldn’t have had much stamina, but he had been throwing Unforgivables around like candy— and that was just after he’d been resurrected.

A living corpse… sound familiar?

I shook the thought away before it could take hold.

Maybe… I thought, instead. The body Voldemort created for himself was spawned from flesh, bone and blood, but magic played a fairly large part as well. It would make sense that it would be an ideal conduit for spells. Stamina would no longer be a factor.

There was no real way to tell. I frowned as another thought occurred.

Voldemort is here at the Castle. I thought. Stuck to the back of Quirrell’s head, to be sure, but here nonetheless. Why isn’t he kidnapping Harry and enacting his resurrection ritual?

It wouldn’t have even been that hard, all things considered.

If I had to do it, I would have stunned the boy, taken him to a secure location, slipped him some Draught of Living Death so he didn’t escape while I got everything together for the ritual.

Bone of the father, flesh of the servant, blood of the enemy. I thought. That plan took me all of twenty seconds to come up with. True, it would need some tweaking to fit the situation, and I was likely underestimating the difficulty of the task, as well as the response that such an action would cause; I was sure, however, that it could be done.

This raised the following question: why wasn’t Quirrell doing this?

Was the body created by the Philosopher’s Stone that much better than what Voldemort could achieve with the dark resurrection ritual?

I considered the possibilities as the thestral grounds came into view in the distance. Just a few minutes and I would be there.

There could be several reasons. I thought, stopping for a few moments and observing the light trail of smoke ahead: a sign of Hagrid preparing some food for the both of us. 

The body created by the stone is better, maybe even purer, in a way. It would be a product of magic, and magic alone; an ideal conduit.

This was probably the best reason, considering that was the conclusion I reached from analyzing Professor Quirrell’s actions and decisions on the matter.

It was also possible that the dark ritual had some hitherto unknown, negative effect— aside from the whole ‘no nose, red eyes and looking like a pasty, bony corpse’ thing.

I supposed it made some sense. The rudimentary body that Voldemort had in the fourth book was made with unicorn blood and snake venom; one ingredient involved hunting unicorns, which was an affront to and desecration of magic, and the other was antithetical to life.

Using the Stone, instead, would have minimized the risk to his person— whatever was left of himself that could be passed off as a person, anyway.

I took a short breath and looked at the wheelbarrow with consternation before I moved to finish the last leg of the trip. Aside from the Philosopher’s Stone being destroyed, he also went for the ritual because he wanted to negate Lily’s sacrificial magic, though he doesn’t know about it, right now. If he did, it might affect his decision-making process.

Two birds with one stone, I realized. But, even with this, I still felt that Voldemort would have preferred the use of the Stone over the ritual.

Maybe I needed to look into the Philosopher’s Stone with a little more close scrutiny, if only to satisfy my curiosity.

I would need to keep an eye on Harry, as well. If Voldemort decided to say ‘fuck it’ and kidnap the boy for the ritual, then it would just interfere with my goals.

It had nothing to do with the fact that I liked the kid. Nope.

I parked the wheelbarrow in its usual spot and stood in place for a few moments, taking deep breaths and stretching so my muscles cramped as little as possible, the next day.

Off to the side, Hagrid was waiting nearby, a campfire crackling with merry and cheer up at a large cooking pot.

I smiled, the expected rich scent of cooked meat, as well as rosemary and basil reaching my nose and making my mouth water with anticipation.

“It’s almost done.” Hagrid said, looking up from his quarry. “You’re lookin’ famished, Adam. Yeh didn’t eat today, did you?”

“Ate like a pig, actually!” I was quick to say, speaking more at the sight of his dubious expression. “I promise. Breakfast and lunch. My stomach’s just been feeling like a bottomless pit lately. I hope I don’t start getting fat.”

Hagrid eyed me for a second longer before accepting my words with a guilty shrug. “Maybe I’ve been overworkin’ yeh.”

He really hadn’t. In fact, I was the one who’d volunteered for the hard labor aspects of the job, in the first place.

If Hagrid had his way, I’d be helping him with the flobberworms, instead of all of this.

I suppressed a shiver. I wasn’t afraid of the slimy creatures, so to speak. If push came to shove, I would grit my teeth and just do what I needed to.

Doesn’t mean I want to be anywhere near those fucking things.

Still, my request for hard labor was a move that both baffled and impressed the large man in equal measure.

I suppose meeting people who are actually willing to put in the hard work is a rare thing for him? I gave a mental shrug before returning to the conversation.

“I don’t think so. I feel fine.” I said, before relenting a little. “But I’ll take it a little easier, just in case. Can’t start building muscle if I’m too busy tearing myself apart.”

Not unless I brew Wiggenweld on the regular. I thought. Which… isn’t a bad idea, all things considered. I’ll add that to the list.

Hagrid chuckled as he continued to stir the pot. “Well, this’ll put some muscle on those bones fer sure.”

“Yeah.” I said, sitting down opposite of him and letting the fire warm me up.

My eyes focused on the bubbling concoction before going to Hagrid, who was pulling a sack from his moleskin coat.

“Flour.” He said, producing the white powder from the large pouch and adding it to the mixture before stirring again. “It should thicken the stew right up— give it some heart.”

“It’s brilliant.” I said.

The sound of hooves pressing into the snow came from behind. I scoffed, knowing who it was without even needing to look.

Absol curled herself around me, her warmth a most welcome addition.

I sent Hagrid an ‘I told you so’ look, to which he just shook his head. I lost myself in the flames and the bubbling stew for a while before I started talking again.

“So, why here?” I said, looking up at Hagrid.

“Hmm?” He looked up as well. “‘Fraid I didn’t hear that, Adam. What’d yeh say?”

“Why here?” I repeated, pausing to swallow. “Not that I’m complaining, of course, but we could have the food indoors, at your home.”

Hagrid didn’t answer immediately.

“Aye, we could.” He allowed with a nod. “We definitely could. But this place… it has a special meaning to me.”

I swept my gaze across the open land around us. There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary here, aside from the faint tingling sensation of a spell infused into the ground of the small area. I had just assumed it was to stave off the cold in some way, or perhaps to keep the area maintained.

“Doesn’t look very special, does it?” Hagrid chuckled and continued to stir, his usually jovial face gaining a shade of gloom. “But it is to me.”

I blinked. So this spot has sentimental value to him.

I looked around again, this time with a much more intent gaze, before turning to Hagrid. “Tell me.”

Hagrid ran his hand through his great big bushy beard as he considered my request. This was a side I’d never seen of the man before. He was normally so open, carefree and sharing, but this seemed to be something he was pretty closed up on.

He must hold this place very near and dear to his heart. I thought.

“All righ’. I’ll tell yeh.” He decided, nodding. “I was once a student at Hogwarts, jus’ like you.”

I didn’t say anything, and he took it as a sign to continue.

“After…” Hagrid hesitated as he chose his words with care. “Well, after something bad happened, I couldn’t remain a student any more, but Professor Dumbledore vouched fer me and kept me from bein’ punished.”

I nodded; he was talking about the Chamber of Secrets incident— in which Riddle had framed him.

“And don’t ask me what happened, Adam.” Hagrid added with some force.

“Perish the thought.” I said, raising my hands to reassure him. “That’s very kind of the Headmaster, though.”

At that, the large man nodded. “Great man, Dumbledore.”

I found myself agreeing. The old man could have just left Hagrid to be devoured by the bloodthirsty sharks circling him.

When you observe that a man seeks the affection of those who can do nothing for him, but for whom he must do everything, you know that he is not seeking himself, but that pure benevolence sways his heart.* I recalled the old quote from somewhere.

Hagrid would have been around thirteen years old when he’d been expelled, I reckoned. He presented no obvious benefits or uses for anyone, but Dumbledore had ensured that the boy— one that he didn’t know or necessarily trust— had the means to make a new life for himself.

Perhaps some of his motivation could have been attributed to feeling guilt over what had happened, but that would only go so far.

Letting Hagrid live on Hogwarts Grounds and continue his studies in secret was far beyond the actions of someone driven by such feelings.

“Right, where was I?” Hagrid brought the both of us back to reality. “I was to be trained as the new Keeper of the Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, so that I could assist— and eventually replace— old Ogg.”

Hagrid took a stick and re-arranged the coals of the fire so that the heat was away from the pot.

“It was a very difficult change fer me.” Hagrid said. He grabbed a few bowls and spoons, one of a regular size and another, much larger one.

He filled the contents of the normal-sized one and handed it to me before doing the same for his own. “Here you go.”

“Thanks, Hagrid.” I nodded and took a whiff of the steam coming off of the hot meal. “This smells great— as usual.”

The man smiled a little, staring down at his own bowl. “Aye, and it should. Old Ogg taught me this recipe, yeh see.”

I nodded, blowing air over the surface of the soup to cool it.

Hagrid moved the coals further away from the pot and placed the hot end of the stick in the snow, filling the air with the sound of hissing for a few seconds. I waited until he took his seat, once again, before taking my first spoonful.

I shivered in pleasure, the sheer comforting heat of the food permeating through my body and reinvigorating me. The meat had been cooked just right— solid enough to bite into, but soft enough to melt right in my mouth.

“Mm.” I said, scooping a spoonful of veggies and breathing in the stew’s bouquet before taking another bite. “Very nice. I can feel the spices really coming through on this one. You said your old teacher taught you to make this?”

“Aye. Good man, Ogg.” Hagrid said in between spoonfuls. “He taught me everything I needed ter know about being Keeper at Hogwarts. In fact, he liked to have his meals around here, right after working with the thestrals.”

I swallowed down my food and looked around our campsite again. That would mean this spot has been in use for… over forty-nine years? Probably more, considering how long this Ogg fellow’s been working for.

The place was very well maintained.

The tingle I’d been feeling in this spot— it was a spell borne from years of Hagrid’s emotional investment.

This was a place of refuge in an otherwise wild area, created by decades of Hagrid’s passive magic, which was infused with the desire to feel safe and protected.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if his teacher also contributed to this place’s magic, in some way.

An unknown and invisible wonder. I thought. How many of these places are scattered throughout this world?

“And you’ve had meals here, ever since?” I said, wanting to keep the conversation going. I snatched a small piece of cooked meat and held it up for Absol, who snatched it up, warbling with delight.

“Aye.” Hagrid smiled a little at this. “I remember the first time I had this stew. Smelled great, tasted better. It took me ages to get it just the way old Ogg would make it.”

I smiled back with encouragement, before taking another spoonful of the stew. “Well I think he’d have nothing but praise for how it all turned out, then.”

“Maybe.” Hagrid allowed, staring into the flames for a moment. “I’d like ter think that.”

We stayed that way for a while, content to eat and enjoy each other’s company.

He turned his gaze to me. “Yer a good lad, Clarke. Stick to yer path and there’s no tellin’ what you’ll be able to do, in the future.”

I frowned at him for a moment, before looking into the flames. It was the second time he’d said these words to me. Had Ogg given him a similar speech in the past?

If you knew what I had done, you would not be saying any of what you just did. I thought, frowning deeper into the flames. I killed a man in cold blood. I’m already far beyond this road that you seem to have in mind for me, Hagrid.

Pursuing magic was my chosen path, but that meant that I would eventually have to let go of things like friendship and attachment. So, what was I doing making friends with Tony, Su, Hermione, Harry, Ron and Hagrid?

Does it? I thought. Does it really mean that I have to let go of the people I’ve begun to hold dear?

“Maybe we got a little bit too serious.” Hagrid said, laughing a little.

I am grateful to have you as a friend, Hagrid. I snuck a glance towards him. I just hope you’ll stay that way, in the future.

“You’re right. Let’s talk about something else.” I smiled, content to let my thoughts lie for the moment and to enjoy the great meal given to me. “I want to hear more about the animals you’ve dealt with over the years.”

Hagrid smiled back and began to speak. “Might take a while, then, lad… Well, you see—”

oooo

Feb 23, 1992, 6:30 PM, Room of Requirement…

I stood in the middle of the training area provided by the Room, staring down at a pig’s flank, which was hanging from the ceiling.

The elves had been only too happy to share it with me, no questions asked.

Note to self. I thought, looking at that delectable cut of meat. Recreate the recipes of my old life— as soon as I get Hagrid’s super secret stew recipe. That thing is next level.

I shook my head and brought my focus back to the matter at hand. It was time to try and figure out what the Hell had happened that night at Diagon Alley.

How had it all gone wrong? The days before, I had sat down and theorized to my heart’s content.

To my dismay, it only served to muddy the waters. I couldn’t reach any useful conclusions.

A Disillusioned, Cutting Shield Charm had somehow killed a man. Had I infused the spell with the void, somehow? Had the man simply been too weak to handle the shock of the wound? Had the Healers been too incompetent to figure out what was going on before it was too late?

There were many more questions, some good, most silly, but I wiped them all from my mind.

“The best way to know is to test it out in a controlled environment.” I said, out loud.

“That would be best, yes.” Helena Ravenclaw said from her position to the side.

She’d been floating there the whole time, watching me with unblinking eyes.

I can’t tell what she wants from me. I threw her a short, sidelong glance, unable to make eye contact for too long. Dead people are something else. Creepy as Hell.

A mote of bright purple appeared before me, buzzing about with happiness as it swirled around my form.

“Alef Ard.” I addressed the entity. “Are you sure you’re okay with me possibly using the void here? I could just go to the Forbidden Forest, or something.”

The buzzing speck began to rapidly change color, going from purple to green, blue, red, pink, yellow and back to purple.

I blinked at the light show before turning to Helena for the translation.

“‘Since you’re using the spell on a piece of flesh instead of the Room, everything should be fine.'” Helena relayed. “I want to see this heavily rumored Dark Magic for myself. The students— and even some of the teachers— won’t stop harping on about it.”

“Really?” I said more than asked. I had underestimated the impact that my actions would have.

I suppose I should have expected something like this. I thought. An unknown variant of the Shield Charm that can kill people; a mysterious, seemingly meaningless and low-value theft… It’s bound to get eyes turning and heads scratching.

“Can’t be helped.” I took a deep breath and drew my wand. I got ready to cast, stopping for a moment as Helena floated to my side.

I turned to look at her. “What is it?”

“Nothing.” The beautiful woman gave a little mysterious smile. “I just wanted a… closer look.”

I don’t like the vibes coming from her. She can’t be thinking of that, can she? I thought, curling my toes under my shoes and resisting the urge to run for my life. She’s born from a thousand-year old era, where things like age of marriage and consent were more of a really weak guideline than an actual rule.

“Right.” I said, counting myself lucky that she was a ghost, and therefore could not affect me in any appreciable way. “Shall we?”

“By all means…” I had to admit, though, that Helena had an alluring smile. That she had many suitors in life did not surprise me.

I closed my eyes, clearing my mind of all outside distractions. There was nothing but the target in front of me.

I could almost see the Auror, looking upon me with mockery and contempt.

My enemy. I opened my eyes and pointed my wand forward. “Protego!” 

Helena made a sound of surprise as not one, but two shields appeared— a large one in front of me, and a small one behind me— but I ignored it, linking my left hand with the large portion, just like I had done that night.

I submerged myself in the desperation, the fear I’d felt and held the tip of my wand over the second shield shard.

Three spells. I thought. “Praetexo!”

The shard disappeared from view, though I could still see it with my mind’s eye.

I spun my wand in a circle, envisioning an edge as sharp as I could imagine. “Protego Confindo!”

I nodded to myself and turned my gaze to the target ahead of me. “Depulso!”

The shard flew true, cutting a diagonal, clean, and deep gash into the mass of flesh before striking the ceiling and drawing a massive line from the target until a few inches before the end of the room.

I stared at the damage for a few moments before approaching my target. The chunk of flesh was barely holding itself together, cut more than halfway through.

A few more seconds and it would fully separate, I realized and held the bottom of the meat to stop it from tearing any further.

“Prodigious spell work.” Helena said, approaching as well. “I’ve never seen anything like this. You’ve combined four spells into one.”

“Yes.” I gave an absent nod as I examined the wound for any signs of dark magic. “The Disillusioned-Shield-Cutting-Shard Charm.”

“Such a poor naming sense.” The ghost added, looking disappointed. “And you were doing so well…”

I ignored her words in favor of examining the wound. “I don’t feel any void in this— Alef Ard would have reacted to it, too.”

Alef Ard buzzed in reply.

“‘No yucky death power’— you are correct, Zero.” Ravenclaw said in confirmation, somehow keeping her face straight as she relayed the spirit’s words.

“Then…” I said, holding my wand over the large cut and closing my eyes. “Inspicere Empiricus.”

I felt my eyes moving quickly as I processed the information. There was something there, lingering and coating various parts of the wound, freely changing shape to intercept the various threads of my inspection spell.

It gave off a sense of protection and attack.

“I see.” I said, opening my eyes. With a quick spell, I transferred the piece of meat from its hanging place to the table outside of the practice area.

I moved to sit in front of it, but Alef Ard buzzed again, turning my attention to the black throne appearing from my right.

“Thank you.” I sat down on the large, comfortable chair, looking ahead as I pondered the results.

Seconds passed before the silence was broken.

“You’ve found your answer, I take it?”

I threw Helena a glance before looking ahead once more. “Yes. The Shield Charm blocks out any and all magic with the exception of the Killing Curse. Somehow, traces of it split off and ended up covering the wound, combining together to overpower whatever magic tries to affect the area.”

“Meaning that…” the ghost considered my words for a moment. “It will also block any spells of Healing.”

I nodded. “That’s right. That also means that the Auror died by my hand. I’m the one who killed him, and I hadn’t even meant to.”

Silence overtook the air around us. I raised my ebony wand to my face and stared at it.

I didn’t feel a thing.

I wasn’t sure whether that was bad or good.

The silence continued to stretch, providing no answers.

oooo

Same Time, Nurmengard Castle…

He stared at the walls of his cell, before moving his attention back to the book in his hands. He turned the page, enjoying the noise it made. It was the only sound that he had any real control over in this forbidding place.

Stone floors, a hard bed, a threadbare blanket; it had been his home, his prison, for nearly half a century by that point. He sent a short, disinterested glance outside of his narrow window, before focusing back on the book in his hands.

It was some treatise on Muggle engineering. His wardens did not allow him the pleasure of reading books relating to magic, but they were more than happy to share these Muggle books with him.

Likely, they consider it to be funny. He smiled slightly. They thought they were making him suffer through unbearable indignities, but he had grown to enjoy these books.

Muggle science was interesting in ways that he would have never considered before.

The Muggles can be quite brilliant, given the chance.

He never would have believed he would ever think anything like this, decades ago. How times have changed.

He stood and paced around the cell, book still within his firm grasp. It was part of his routine to stay active. He knew what happened to those who let themselves waste away in their cells, and refused to go down like that.

He was too strong for that.

Once done, the man sat back down at his bed, poring over the pages of the book, despite having read and understood it from cover to cover twice over. He wouldn’t get a new one for at least a week.

The man couldn’t wait until then. A new book would be much appreciated.

A sharp set of raps at his cell door startled him out of his reverie.

He turned his gaze to the exit in confusion. Was he imagining things?

The next set of knocks answered that question for him.

“Grindelwald.” A female voice came from the other side of the door, muffled before the metal slot opened with a tortured groan. “I have some questions for you.”

Gellert Grindelwald, the second most infamous Dark Lord in recent history, set his book down and stood, taking slow steps towards the woman.

“That’s far enough.” She said, her voice full of authority and aggression, but Gellert could sense the fear behind it as clear as day. “They warned me about you.”

Gellert smiled, though it did not reach his eyes. “And what does an English Auror want from me?”

He suppressed the wince that threatened to appear on his wizened face. The slight rasp in his voice was something he hated above all else.

“You… how’d you know I’m an Auror?”

He did not deign her stupid question with an answer. “What are you here for?”

The Auror stared at him for another moment before nodding to herself. “I’m Auror Hope, and I have some questions for you.”

“So you’ve said.” Gellert said, quickly growing bored of the situation. “Out with it, then. I don’t have all day.”

“…” She looked like she was getting annoyed. “There has been an incident at Diagon Alley, involving a robbery at the Apothecary.”

“Is that so…” Gellert said. “Fascinating tale, but what does that have to do with me? I do not receive much news here. Surely you are not here to accuse me of petty theft?”

“This is pointless.” Another voice said from the side. “We wasted so much time just to get the authorization to come here—”

“That’s enough.” Hope silenced the man with a gaze before turning to Grindelwald again. “We have reason to believe that this person was a student of yours.”

Gellert blinked. All of his… former acolytes were either dead or had long since forsaken him.

Still, this was the most interesting thing that had happened in the past eleven years— aside from the story about the toddler who’d somehow killed a Dark Lord more infamous than him.

Must not be a particularly competent wizard, to have been laid low by a child. Gellert thought with some amusement.

“A student of mine, you say?” Gellert said. “And why would you think this?”

“We believe that he or she is using some Dark variant of the Shield Charm.”

Grindelwald nodded, realizing that this was why they were seeking him out. “And you’re here to question me on my knowledge of said Charm.”

“Precisely.”

He took a moment to ponder her request.

“There would, of course, be benefits to you.” Auror Hope added.

That settled it for the man. Having more things to do with his time was payment enough in his eyes. And if he could get some more information on this new player, all the better.

“Very well, Auror Hope.” Gellert said. “Ask your questions.”

As he answered the woman’s questions, he began to put the pieces together for himself.

It’s an interesting mystery. He thought as Auror Hope left with a satisfied look upon her face.

And so she should be. Grindelwald thought. He’d just given them enough information to keep them busy for at least a few months— not that they’d find anything. Aurors were foolish, quick to attack and slow to consider the clues and breadcrumbs laid at their feet.

For example, this mystery theft.

Dragon’s Blood had been taken, for a value of fifty Galleons. It was theorized that the culprit did not take more because they were caught too early in their crime, but the reasoning seemed flimsy at best.

He decided to focus on what they knew. Assuming the stores and Ministry procedures remained more or less the same, Gellert knew that there were at least five other locations that the thief could have frequented, which either had lower prices for Dragon’s Blood, or no Auror patrols.

The target was poorly chosen; this indicated that the culprit lacked knowledge of the Wizarding World. This was either a crime commited by a very stupid person, or someone who was inexperienced in such things.

And, considering the level of intelligence, dedication and study required to achieve a spell of this magnitude, as well as the presence of mind to cast it with any success in a charged situation like a duel to the death— this just couldn’t be anyone stupid.

Conclusion: it’s a young wizard or witch. Grindelwald thought. Interesting. Very interesting indeed.

He hadn’t felt so alive in years. Perhaps I should take a trip to the British Isles, soon. It has been far too long.

Gellert stared at the walls of his cell and nodded. He wondered what his old friend thought of this new player on the board.

oooo

*: Quote by Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers”.

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