Professor Albus Dumbledore was enjoying a cup of tea, reading the The Daily Prophet, and not thinking about his ex-boyfriend’s impending war.
It was very simple. He usually scanned the headlines for Transfiguration spell developments and then flipped to the comic strips - the long-running comic Little Morgana recycled its punchlines only a handful of times.
That was when Fawkes rustled by, his wings flapping. The newspaper pages flipped over.
NOTED HISTORIAN BATHILDA BAGSHOT PLANS TO AUCTION OFF HER BOOKS, PAPERS, AND ARTIFACTS.
“Fuck,” Albus said.
“Professor?” said the little first year standing outside his office. He was holding onto last night’s homework.
Albus fired up Gellert Grindelwald’s Floo contact. He had obtained access for important national security reasons, threatening it out of former students who had become Grindelwald sympathizers.
“For the last time,” Gellert said, his face flashing in front of the fire, blond hair alight, blue eyes glimmering, “stop fire-calling me drunk. I’ve changed it twice already.”
Albus coughed. “I’m not sloshed, Gellert. We have a mutual problem. The fate of the wizarding world hangs in the balance. Society is at risk and the innocence of youth is, alas, no longer innocent.”
“Of course society is at risk,” Gellert said. “I know you’ve been busy reading Little Morgana, but if you bothered to fully read the newspapers, you would know that I’ve gathered a network of loyal followers. I’ve successfully cowed politicians and trained an important weapon. It’s a very impressive--monumental--enormous-- operation.”
He eyed Albus, hoping for a reaction.
“Your Aunt Bathilda,” Albus went on, ignoring the monologue, “is auctioning off her possessions at Piper’s Place tomorrow. Among her things is our letters.”
Albus continued: “In your haste to leave the country after the--disaster--you left behind the letters I sent you.”
“I hardly approve of our private correspondence leaking to the media,” Gellert said. “But it would be satisfying for your true nature to be revealed to the public. You’ve shared my idealogy and goals about the Muggles and the Hallows, Albus…”
“Stop thinking about world domination and prejudiced ideology for once,” Albus said with a frown. “It wasn’t only my letters. I left your letters at Professor Bagshot’s place in a fit; I couldn’t bring myself to destroy them. They’re all pressed between the pages of her copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.”
Here was the thing: Gellert Grindelwald, ever since he was young, was a talented artist. It was an extension of his abilities as a Seer.
He would emerge from prophetic dreams and visions, images flashing through his head, and he would put them onto parchment. His quill scribbling back and forth to sketch.
Sixteen-year-old Gellert Grindelwald had also drawn explicit pictures of himself and his boyfriend.
“Fuck,” Gellert said. “What in Freyja’s name were you thinking?”
Albus crossed his arms. “I wasn’t thinking. I was heartbroken because my sister was killed and you ran off. I was hardly strategizing over the integrity of both our future reputations.”
“Well, you’re the one in Britain, Albus,” Gellert said. “Tell Aunt Hilda to pull the damned book! Use your considerable influence to reserve it ahead of time.”
“I’ve already made an attempt,” Albus said. “I didn’t bother your aunt because she would discover the letters. I don’t wish to subject her to our epistolary dalliances - she’s your aunt, for Morgana’s sake.
“As for the auction house, I’m flattered that you think so much of me, but Britain’s wealthy bigoted purebloods have recently expressed an interest in the Deathly Hallows myth. Because someone is wearing a certain symbol and parading around Europe terrorizing Muggles. Professor Bagshot’s edition is a rare and valuable commodity, and Piper’s Place won’t pull the item for Merlin himself.
“We have to be discreet and careful. That leaves only one thing to do--”
“Set the auction house on fire,” Gellert said. “I see. I’ll contact my followers in Britain.”
“No. You will not authorize a terrorist attack to destroy our love letters.”
“Because it’s dangerous and people might die,” Albus said.
“My old art was juvenile! Nothing was anatomically correct. I’ll become a laughingstock.”
“And there is the fact that it would become known you’ve consorted with the enemy, yes,” Albus said dryly. “Gellert, the book has to be covertly stolen.”
“Fine. No fires. Fine.” Gellert was silent for a moment. “I have the perfect weapon for this little heist of ours.”
After the New York fiasco, Gellert Grindelwald managed to kidnap and capture Credence Barebone. He patiently trained him to control his Obscurus powers.
Credence was still traumatized and cried too much, but Gellert had a storm of destruction by his side that he had yet to unleash upon the world.
As an Obscurial, Credence could turn himself into a cloud of any size. He could sneak in and out of buildings. He was fast and efficient, at least when he wasn’t crying.
Gellert gave him his first mission.
“You sent an Obscurial to recover our letters? That boy from New York? What have you been doing to that poor boy--?”
“If you’re wondering, I haven’t fucked him.”
“I was thinking no such thing. I’ve heard he has an atrocious haircut anyway.” Albus tossed his head, flowing auburn locks tumbling over his shoulders. He might have started drinking firewhiskey, his usual practice whenever he fire-called Gellert.
“Hmmph. I made him grow it out.”
Credence rushed toward England, his Obscurus form billowing across the sky. He was nothing but a nearly transparent wisp of grey, flying like he was free.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, he thought, as the wind whistled past him. They shall mount up with wings as eagles.
“It’s irritating. There’s no point in using Legilimency on him, because all he thinks of are tortured Bible verses. Every single hour of every single minute of the day. He’s in so much pain or whatever.”
“I don’t want to talk about him, Gellert.”
“What do you want to talk about instead? That young magizoologist of yours? Tousled hair, green eyes, and freckles?” Gellert had started drinking, too. It was good strong German beer.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not, Credence thought. Darkness, that’s what he was. Without light. Without hope.
“There is nothing between myself and Newt Scamander. When he was younger, I felt sorry for him. He was almost expelled for conducting an experiment at school. He reminded me of you.”
“Ha. Then that’s exactly why you’ve fucked him.”
“Please stop being vulgar, Gellert.”
“Oh, I’m vulgar? I drew explicit sketches of our cocks touching, but you wrote rather filthy letters yourself. Remember that little fantasy of yours about fucking underneath the Invisibility Cloak in public?”
(When Albus Dumbledore borrowed James Potter’s Invisibility Cloak, he might have daydreamed for a couple seconds what could have been. Then he made sure to thoroughly Scourgify the thing.)
Credence spent an hour digging through the auction’s lots. There were staves and amulets; bones and vases; cups and paintings.
And there were so many books. He knew he needed to find only one.
Eventually, he found it: The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
He flipped through it, and there was a thin stack of parchment stuck between the pages.
“You must not, under any circumstances, read the enclosed confidential documents,” Lord Grindelwald had told Credence imperiously. “Bring them back to me at once.”
Credence thought of the times when ‘Mr. Graves’ presented himself as a priest-like figure and made Credence tell him ‘confessions.’ Of a certain nature. Making him vulnerable and exploitable, seductive meetings in alleyways that ended with Credence begging ‘Mr. Graves’ to--
Never mind. Anyway, he started reading the letters.
“Oh. Ohh. Is that even possible?”
Credence supposed Lord Grindelwald’s wand did look rather long and sturdy.
Credence returned to Lord Grindelwald’s fortress, leaving the stack of letters outside Grindelwald’s quarters.
He went to his cell, laid down on his cot, his eyes tightly shut and his hands gripped into fists.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine, Credence recited. Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
Someone coughed. Lord Grindelwald was by the cell door, bleary-eyed, still drunk. Evidently, he realized that Credence was back.
“For fuck’s sake. Get better wank material, Barebone,” Grindelwald said curtly. “You always jerk off to the Song of Songs.”
Gellert never did destroy the letters. He hid them in Nurmengard, and they were often his late night reading when he was eventually locked up as a prisoner.
Meanwhile, Albus woke up with a blinding hangover and realized that Gellert had changed his Floo connection access code again.