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Corrupted Souls

Chapter Text

Harry gasped. She felt pain convulse through her body, every fiber ignited. She screamed as she curled into a ball, tears running down her face. She continued exhaling shallow breaths. Minutes passed, but it felt like hours. The pain subsided.

Wearily, Harry sat up, noting she was relatively unscathed. She had cuts and bruises over her limbs, but she was still intact. Harry groaned, and stood up. She felt her legs wobble, but regained her balance.

She barely remembered how she got here. Her most recent memories were of the Final Battle. She could feel the death, the misery. It had all ended only a day ago. The dead were not even buried..

Harry didn’t want to think about that. She didn’t want to think about having to look into Colin’s lifeless eyes, or Molly’s sobs when she refused to let Fred’s body be taken away from the makeshift rows of dead in the Great Hall. Harry had to hold Ron tightly, his head resting on her shoulder.

She called out for Ron, then Hermione. No sign of them.

She remembered she had gone back to the Ministry to debrief Kingsley, and while he had been grateful for their efforts in their secret mission, the war was over and she could return to Hogwarts. It seems she was no longer needed anymore.

While Harry had always wished for a normal life, she realized that she didn’t know what normal was anymore.

She had left the office and was about to head for the Atrium when she decided to make a detour. She snuck into the Department of Mysteries, not exactly for old time’s sake, but she felt a pull, a compulsion.

Strangely, it seemed to be empty. She was surprised no one was there, she was sure she would have been caught by now. Then again, the Ministry has declared a holiday/temporary leave for restructuring, but she was sure that wouldn’t stop the Unspeakables.

She had wandered across the various rooms and stopped at the Time Room. They had left the shelves of empty Time Turners bare. Harry felt remorse for their actions in Fifth Year, but perhaps it was for the best they were destroyed. If only she had one now, she would have done things differently. Maybe she could have saved more lives.

She noticed something glinting from the corner of her eye. Behind her was a small hourglass. The sand was bright silver, and it shone with an eerie glow, whirring from the intensity of its own raw power.

Instinctively, Harry found herself drawn to the object. She reached out towards it, before stopping herself. Should she? Maybe she could try for a few hours.

Really she could go the day before, the day of the Battle. It wouldn’t be that big a jump. Slowly, she lifted the hourglass in her hands, examining the precision of the metal and glass. There were two rotating knobs on the top of each side with small tick marks chiseled into the metal. Unsure what those stood for, Harry left them alone. Who knows what could happen if she meddled too much with what looked like a prototype. Slowly, she turned the hourglass. Once, twice, three, then four times. Four hours might still be enough time.

Harry felt the pull. It was painful, tugging from the navel and almost turning her body inside out. She screamed, but heard no sound.

With her memory of the current situation fully restored, she tried to assess her bearings. She could tell she was in London, but it had changed. The cars were different, larger with rounded edges. People dressed differently too, dressed for women and suits and hats for men. It reminded Harry of those old movies Uncle Vernon used to watch on the Telly. She must have gone too far back.

Desperately, Harry rummaged through a bin and found a nearby newspaper.

173 Crushed While Trying to Enter Bethnal Green Tube Station

Harry’s hands shook as she flipped through the paper. She tried to ignore the date, even though that was exactly what she wanted to find out, but she didn’t want to know. After reading through Sports, Business, and Obituaries, she frowned.

March 3, 1943

It was the middle of World War II, and close to the end of the Grindelwald War. Harry was lucky to have Hermione full her in on the ins and outs that bit of history after the fiasco at the Lovegood house. She would have to get in contact with Dumbledore soon, perhaps he’d have some idea of what to do.

Harry paused, and thought about her situation. If Dumbledore was preoccupied with the War, he’d hardly have any time for her. Also, she wasn’t certain he would trust her, let alone believe her. He might just throw her in the Janus Thickney Ward, or worse, believe her and send her to the Department of Mysteries, never to be seen again.

Harry picked herself up, and threw away the newspaper. She assessed her situation. No money, no identity, and no contacts. To top it all off, her clothes were inappropriate for the time period. She glanced at her jeans and her jumper. It would have to do for now.

“Miss, are you alright?” A man asked. He was fairly young, but plainly dressed in pants, a shirt and suspenders. He looked like he might have worked at one of the nearby shops.

Harry jumped. She looked at the man suspiciously, wondering if he was going to attack. When he had not, she admitted she was a bit out of sorts.

“I’ve lost everything, and I’m at a bit of a loss about what to do next,” Harry confessed.

“Well, there’s a Red Cross nearby, I’m sure they can find you a change of clothes, and possibly some medical attention. Those cuts look nasty.”

The man supported her as she walked, despite Harry’s protests, and escorted her into the location where it looked like there were piles of clothes and shoes ready to be sorted.

“This is where I take my leave,” he nodded. “If you need anything, here’s my address. Not that I’ll be of any use.” He quickly scrawled something illegible on a scrap of paper he had in his pocket. Harry couldn’t read most of it, but it seemed to be in Clapham.

Harry gave a half-hearted smile. She responded, “Still, I’m grateful for your help Mr…”

“Tonks. But you can call me Tony,” the young man grinned.

Harry tried not to gasp. He did remind her a little of the former Auror in his ease and charm, but didn’t really look similar to her at all. Then again, who really knew what Tonks looked like. From her hazy memory, Harry thought he did look a little like her father (the son of the man standing in front of her), but the age difference made if difficult to place.

“Thank you Tony, I’ll keep that in mind.” Harry replied.

Once she received help, she changed into a worn, but clean dress and shoes. They fed her, and tended to her wounds. Seeing as she had nowhere to go, she volunteered as a nurse.

As the month went by, Harry wondered if she should contact Dumbledore. She felt that there was something vital that she should be remembering, but she wasn’t sure what.

It was around April she remembered. This was the year Tom Riddle would open the Chamber of Secrets.

She couldn’t go to Hogwarts. There were security measures to prevent strangers from entering. On her day off, Harry excused herself from work and headed to Diagon Alley.

It was strange, while Muggle London was tense, dotted with craters and filled with dread, Diagon Alley was bustling with life as if there wasn’t a war going on. It seemed they weren’t even under rationing. Harry made a mental note to pick up some butter, milk and other heavily rationed items before heading back, just to remember how they tasted.

She stopped by the Owlery, and with her last remaining sickles, sent a note to the Transfiguration professor

Tom Riddle is the Heir of Slytherin. The monster is a basilisk.

She did not bother signing it.

She hoped it would get to him on time and he could use the information to punish Riddle, even if it could be accused of being a poison pen.

Perhaps he wouldn’t, because Riddle was still considered a child, still possible for redemption. But there was already darkness in his heart, and a thirst for blood. Soon enough he would commit the murders in Little Hangleton and create his first Horcrux.

Unless…

She would have to stop him. But how?

Get the ring and the locket from the Gaunts. If she could rob Gringotts that would be easy enough. But what about the Riddles themselves? Tom was going to murder them out of anger and revenge anyway, and he was going to use the diary for his first Horcrux, so taking those items wouldn’t change anything.

Harry sighed. The only way to prevent Tom from killing the Riddles was to eliminate them first. But how would she be able to reach Little Hangleton undetected? She’d need an alibi.

As Harry walked back to her room at the boarding house, she passed a variety of posters, mostly propaganda for doing one’s bit. Harry usually ignored them, but one caught her eye.

Join the Womens’ Land Army!

The Riddles has a fairly large estate. She could pose as a Land Girl, stake out the area and devise some sort of plan when she got there.

But first, she was going to have to enlist.

Joining the Land Girls hadn’t been too difficult. While her recruitment officer asked why she didn’t want to remain in her nurse training, she didn’t push when Harry said she was tired of city life and get out to the country.

Initially, she was supposed to have been stationed in an estate near Birmingham, but a quick Imperius and she found the nearest posting to the Riddles. As Harry has suspected, their estate was an option, and she had the recruiter draft the required paperwork.

While on the train over, she folded over various plans in her head. Should she poison them? No, too obvious. Place the blame on someone else? She wouldn’t be able to live with that. Maybe follow Voldemort’s lead and a simple Killing Curse.

But could she, if the moment demanded it? She couldn’t even kill Bellatrix, one of the most vile people imaginable, how could she kill the Riddles? They were horrible people, but they were relatively innocent.

As the train rolled into the station, she realized she was going to have to formulate a plan later. As she and the other girls headed to the platform to meet their supervisor.

Harry’s duties were fairly simple. She was to help with the tractor, and milking the cows. It was hard work, waking up at dawn and spending the day outside. But while she was getting accustomed to farm life, she found her mind drifting.

She wondered if she would have time to sneak out and spy on the Riddles. She didn’t have much time, and she needed to be able to scope out the house.

Harry was sitting with the other girls for tea, a simple affair, but made the days bearable. While Harry tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, it was difficult not to get caught up in the chatter of her colleagues.

“Well I heard Margie went up to the Big House, the other day,” one of the girls, Charlotte, gossiped.

“Charlotte, you promised!” Margie replied indignantly.

Harry sipped her tea from her chipped enamel mug.

“How’d you get in?” She asked. “Must’ve been difficult.”

Margie blushed. “Well, no, it wasn’t.”

The other girls laughed.

“I forget you’re new, Harriet. You see, the head of the estate sometimes has his eye out for one of us, he’s not picky. He invites us over to the house, we have a few drinks, and see where it goes. It doesn’t last very long, but it’s nice to live it up a little.” Charlotte continued

“Honestly, it’s just nice sleeping in a proper bed,” added Sophie, another girl in their group.

“But he’s so old,” Harry gasped.

The other girls looked uneasy.

“Well,” Margie interrupted, “He’s not that old, and I’d say he’s still fairly handsome.”

“And he is very charming,” agreed Charlotte. “When it was over he even sent some money to my mam, really appreciated his kindness.”

Harry thought about it. While it was unorthodox, and really went against everything she stood for, this was her in. She was going to have to seduce Tom Riddle.

Chapter Text

It didn't take much effort to get to Mr. Riddle, or Mr. Riddle the younger as he was known in town. Word that there was a new girl in the troop was enough to capture his attention, and Harry hoped her 'newness' was enough of a draw to take her to the house rather than take her there in the barn.

Harry tugged at the cow's udders, watching as drops of milk slowly filled the bucket. The cow mooed in frustrastion.

"You and me both, girl," Harry replied sympathetically.

"Well, I see our new dairy girl is hard at work. Though I doubt your poor efforts aren't going to be appreciated."

The voice came from the barn door, it was smooth and clipped, in the Received Pronunciation style, similar to what Harry has heard in the films. She turned to the source of the voice, and almost did a double take.

Tom Riddle Sr. really did look like a double for his son, though he carried himself in a relaxed, yet bored demeanor. His hair was beginning to go grey at the temples, and he was immaculately dressed in a pale suit.

"Every bit counts, Mr. Riddle, I'm sure you're aware of that. And milk production is more about quality of feed rather than milking ability." Harry replied.

Riddle frowned. "Ah yes, can't be helped, I'm afraid. Most of our feed going to the war effort and all that." He walked over to the cow and tapped its hind. "But Duchess here has always been reliable, I'm sure she'll pull through." He patted the cow affectionately, and took a lingering look at Harry. She felt herself being judged as if she was a horse on auction.

"But I suppose it is true what they say about milkmaids, always the most beautiful girls on the farm," he purred.

"I suppose it had to do with their exposure to cowpox, it created a natural inoculation to smallpox, so they would have the clearest skin," Harry rambled, half-remembering the fact from her years in Muggle primary school.

Surprised, he laughed. "My, you are an odd duck. And you certainly don't sound like the type of girl who would join the Women's Land Army."

"How so?" Harry asked defensively.

"Well, your diction is far too good," he replied. "I suppose you've recently finished school?"

Harry nodded.

"Anywhere I would have heard of?" He asked.

"Doubtful," Harry dismissed. She stood up, ready to leave.

"Hang on, so I think I've got this. You obviously don't have any connections, or else you might have tried your hand some easier War effort activity, such as fundraising. But you sound well-educated, but possibly from a third-rate school. So, you must be an orphan, presumably with well-off parents or through the generosity of others received a scholarship."

Harry scowled. "Do you do this to every girl you meet, Mr. Riddle?"

"No, never. But I've never met someone as contradictory as you. And please, call me Tom. I've been watching you, you know."

"Is that so?" Harry asked, feigning disinterest. She grabbed her bucket, ready to leave. Mr. Riddle, Tom, grabbed her shoulder. She stopped, and she could feel Riddle's gaze examining her, undressing her.

"I say, has anyone ever told you that you have the most captivating eyes?" He asked, far too pleased with himself.

"I get that quite a lot, yes." Harry replied. She instinctively was about to frown, but offered a weak smile of her own. Nervously, she bit her lip.

He placed a stray hair of hers that had escaped from her braid behind her hair. His hand gently ran over the top of her head. "Have dinner with me, tonight at the house," he commanded. He seemed to assume it would work, since he gave her an easy smile.

"I'd get in trouble with my supervisor if I'm found out of bed," Harry answered.

"Oh, you will be back before then. I can assure you safe passage by nine o'clock. And if you're worried about curfew, I'll take care of it." Tom replied reassuringly. "Arrive at the servants' door, in the back. Our caretaker, Watson, will let you in. We're a bit short staffed these days."

Harry interjected, "I never said I was going to go."

Tom gave a knowing smile. "Well, the offer still stands, let's say six o'clock? I hope to see you there, Harriet." With that, he left. Harry briefly wondered how he knew her name, but assumed he must have been making inquiries about her for his latest conquest.

When she told the other girls about her invitation, they chattered and twittered. A night at Tom's was practically a right of passage, it seemed. Charlotte offered her curling iron, and Sofie offered her lipstick. While Harry only had the one dress from the Red Cross, the girls had done a fairly decent job of helping her look presentable. As Harry looked at her rolling curls and bright red lips, she could hardly believe she was the same girl who barely took note of her appearance at Hogwarts. She thanked her friends, and headed to the mansion.

As she stood at the door at the back of the large, black imposing manor, Harry took note of the entrances. Besides the main foyer and the servants' entrance, there was a door on the side across from the greenhouse, and a balcony on the third floor. There were three rows of windows, and what looked like a door leading onto the roof. Harry wished she had kept her Firebolt at hand, she could have had the option to fly to the roof, but now she would have to rely on entering the house with the Riddles' permission, or breaking in. Harry instinctively checked the secret pocket in her dress. She had sewn it her first week she had arrived unceremoniously in the past, and had used it to hide her wand and the Invisibility Cloak on her person at all times. She felt comfort knowing it was there. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door.

The caretaker, an old man Harry assumed was Watson, opened the door. "One of Mr. Tom's girls, I take it?"

Harry nodded.

"Right, come with me."

He led her towards a staircase by the kitchen, winding up two floors. As they silently walked the narrow hallway, Harry made a mental note. The house was a Victorian manor with the same system for the household staff. The servants' stairway led to every floor of the house, with a separate hallway leading to the rooms. This would prevent the servants from ever interacting with the master of the house and his family.

It was perfect for Tom to bring his girls, and for Harry to infiltrate.

When Watson stopped by Tom's room, he gave a hard tap at the door. Immediately, Tom opened it, greeting them both.

"Thank you, Watson, I'll take it from here. Hello darling, come in. You arrived just in time. Any later and the food would have gotten cold."

Watson nodded and headed back downstairs.

"You eat in your room?" Harry asked.

"In my study, but it's connected to my room. I find it's more enjoyable than having to spend time with the old mater and pater. I do love them, dearly, but sometimes they can be a bit much." Tom replied breezily. "You look lovely, by the way."

Harry gave a noncommittal noise, and they entered the room. It was spacious, with a large fireplace that was currently unused. The study and combined bedroom was decorated in the Art Deco style, with lavish leather chairs, glass lamps, and a sleek black table and matching desk. The room was covered in bookcases, and contained a polished wooden radio and a piano. Harry could see from the open door to the adjoining room that the bedroom was also spacious, with large windows, plush chairs, a wardrobe, and a circular bed.

Dinner was simple: soup and toast, with some cheese. The fact there was cheese was a luxury, and Harry knew she was supposed to be impressed.

"You seem to know so much about me, Tom. Tell me a little about yourself," Harry asked. Tom looked amused.

"You mean you don't know? Or are you asking me to retell my scandalous past?"

"Personally,I couldn't care less about that, it's old hat really. What does Tom Riddle care about? What makes him tick?"

Tom chuckled, and undid the top buttons on his shirt. "Well, that's certainly a first. It seems every girl wants to hear my tragic backstory of how I brought shame to my family and village. I suppose someone already told you."

"I'm vaguely aware of the details, but like I said, it's none of my business," She moved her chair closer to his, and she could smell his cologne, a mix of tobacco and vetiver.

"Oh?" Tom murmured. "Then what is?" He asked.

"You are," Harry answered, placing her hand on his face.

Immediately, Tom kissed her, passionately. He grabbed her hair and started to run his hand down her body, undoing the buttons on her dress. As it slid to the floor, he lifted her up and carried her to the bed. He undressed her, kissing her breasts, and moving his kisses down her body.

Despite herself, Harry found his touch electrifying, she exhaled and felt her body grow hot, pressure building inside of her. She started to undo his shirt and pulled down his pants, using her own mouth to pleasure him.

He seemed to enjoy it.

Harry wasn't a virgin, she had been intimate with other boys before. There was that disastrous relationship with Ron in Sixth Year, but it fell apart during the Horcrux hunt. Harry had just been too distant, pushing him away because she didn't want to accept her own feelings and because she knew Voldemort could sense them and use it against her. In the end, it was too much for him and he chose Hermione. When she saw them kiss after exiting the Chamber and destroying the Cup, she knew they were better together. She hadn't seen Ron so happy before.

Harry was caught out of her reverie when Tom insisted they go further. Eagerly, Harry obliged, feeling her arousal increase. As they moved together, their bodies entwined, Harry felt a rush of bliss as heat radiated from her, her face flushed. She let out a soft moan, and Tom quietly laughed. Tom was also sweating, his hair disheveled but still effortlessly elegant. She grabbed his shoulders and they continued, kissing each other in excitement and desperation.

When they finished, Tom held her tightly, and kissed her shoulder, his fingers idly playing with her now wild hair. Harry hoped he would have fallen asleep so she could explore the house, but no such luck. Perhaps this was a waste of time after all. Well, not a complete waste of time.

"I hope you will visit me again sometime soon," Tom whispered, kissing her lips.

Harry turned to face him. "I thought you weren't the type for repeat visits?" She grinned, teasing him.

"There's always a first for everything, Miss Evans," Tom replied, addressing Harry by her alias. "I find you fascinating, and I'd like to see where this goes."

"This? That's a rather quaint term for an affair."

"Call it what you like," Tom replied flippantly. "Anyway, I am a man of my word, I'll escort you back to your quarters."

"That's not necessary," Harry replied. "Besides, it would be quite embarrassing if you were caught."

"I could handle it," Tom chuckled.

"Well I couldn't, I'd be mortified," Harry joked. She dressed, and gave him a kiss.

"So I will see you again?" He insisted.

"Alea iacta est," Harry answered cryptically. Tom laughed, understanding immediately, but not realizing she wasn't joking.

"You know Latin? Not bad for a third-rate school," he muttered. "Come back sooner, rather than later. Maybe sometime this week?"

Harry agreed, leaving him to rest while she quietly departed the room. She took out the cloak and wandered about the house, mapping out the various passages mentally, and noting the layout of the floor plans. She had expected this would be her only visit, she wasn't sure how committed Tom was to seeing her again, but she was certain she could use his fleeting affections to her advantage. She still had to find a way to eliminate the Riddles without drawing attention to herself.

As she headed back to her quarters, she heard the siren go off. Harry quietly followed the other girls to the shelter, taking off her cloak and pretending she had been there the whole time. The other girls gave her sly grins, but kept her cover.

As the shelter rattled and the earth shook, Harry knew she had the perfect solution in front of her. She was going to have to target the Riddle House in an Air Raid. She felt the dust from the roof of the shelter fall onto her face, and she coughed. It could work, she would have to remove their blackout materials, or attract attention to the house.

As the bombing continued, Harry wondered where she could find phosphorescent paint.

Chapter Text

Harry was sitting on Tom’s bed, lounging in her knickers and a bath robe she stole from his closet. Tom was idly playing the piano, still partially undressed. He was humming to himself, and seemed to be in a good mood.

It had been a month since their first encounter, and somehow Tom was still interested in seeing Harry. Harry hadn’t minded, she now had free access to the house and could basically come and go as she pleased. More importantly, she had free access to the roof.

She had already made inquiries in town about the local black market dealers, and done her own investigation on local factories in the area that would produce phosphorescent paint. There was a place twenty miles away that produced light up paint for nighttime visibility for the military use, so Harry had to break in and steal it. It had been a bit of a bother getting to the factory undetected, she had to come up with an excuse of having to visit the doctor, then hitchhike to the factory and pretend to be one of the workers in the assembly plant. She waited until the foreman was writing his reports to ask to see him alone, hinting at her interest in him. (Apparently it was quite easy to get to some blokes with the offer of a workplace sex, he hadn’t even noticed she didn’t belong there!) Once she had him an inch away from her, she pulled out her wand and cast the Imperius. Minutes later, she had five shrunken buckets of paint in her pocket, and a rather confused foreman sitting on his desk with a report noting that any missing paint was thrown out due to contamination. Once she returned to her post, she hid the paint in the barn, since the only ones who would spend any length of time there was herself, and Duchess of course.

Harry thought about her plans as she played with her hair, the curls undoing into frizz. She turned over to the other side when she heard Tom stop playing the piano and walk back to the bed.

“I’m going to have to go soon, it’s well past curfew.” Harry said as he put his arms around her, kissing her lips, then moving down toward her neck.

“Just stay the night, darling. It’s already late enough. If you get up before morning you can start your chores and they’ll be none the wiser.” Tom urged.

“You know I can’t,” Harry replied as Tom continued kissing her, his hands moving across her body, groping her. “Tommy!” she squealed in protest, playfully swatting him. He laughed. (She had taken to calling him Tommy, and much to her disappointment he seemed to love it.)

He hugged her, and went down to his knees, his head resting on her stomach as he nuzzled her. “No, you can’t leave. I forbid it,” he replied playfully.

“Alright, I’ll stay, but we’re not going another round. I’m exhausted.” Harry acquiesced.

“Then we shall have to occupy ourselves some other way,” Tom answered, winking. He got up and twirled her around, causing Harry to wobble.

“I never was much of a dancer,” Harry huffed.

“That’s a shame, you have the build for it. How about music, do you play?” He asked, leading her to the piano.

As they sat down on the bench, Harry paused. To be honest, she had never been very musically inclined. However, she did remember Mrs. Figg had a piano, and while it was never tuned and gathered dust, she did remember one afternoon when the old woman had taught her the first and last piece she had ever learned.

“Well, I only know one, and it’s not very good,” Harry replied weakly.

“By all means,” Tom insisted. “And I can accompany you if you’d like.”

Uneasily, Harry began to play the simple exercise unevenly from memory, missing a few notes here and there. Suddenly, Tom recognized the melody.

“I know this one, it came out a few years back, didn’t it?” He started playing the other part of the piece, initially making Harry feel annoyed.

“You’re playing is marvelous, darling,” Tom stated reassuringly, causing Harry to blush. “Do you know the words, or should I sing along?”

Harry’s eyes widened. “There are words?”

“You don’t know them? Well, I guess I’ll sing along.” Tom replied.

As they continued to play the simple repetitive melody, Tom effortlessly sang along.

Heart and soul, I begged to be adored
Lost control, and tumbled overboard, gladly
That magic night we kissed
There in the moon mist

He continued to play, staring at Harry, who really tried to look away, not sure where he was going with this.

Oh! but your lips were thrilling, much too thrilling
Never before were mine so strangely willing

He seemed to pause after the lyric, but moved on.

But now I see, what one embrace can do
Look at me, it's got me loving you madly
That little kiss you stole
Held all my heart and soul

With that, he kissed her. Harry let him, but she could tell he wasn’t as passionate about the kiss as he was before, as if he was distracted. Did he suspect anything? Was she not holding her cover well? She needed to distract him.

“That’s a terrible song,” Harry concluded.

Tom smiled, “It’s certainly no Cole Porter, but it serves its purpose.” He gazed at her, lingering a bit longer than necessary, brows furrowed.

“Tommy, what’s wrong? Is everything alright?” Harry asked, feigning innocence.

“Sometimes I feel as if I don’t deserve someone so beautiful and good as you. Harriet, I don’t know what you see in me.” Tom muttered, causing Harry to jump.

“I see a good man, who deserves love,” Harry replied, trying to come up with a meaningless platitude she could think of off the top of her head. The last thing she needed was for him to suspect anything. Not now, when she was so close.

“How can you say that? You don’t even know me, Harriet. I have secrets. Deep secrets that I’m ashamed of, and you shouldn’t have to be privy to.” Tom confessed, his face darkening. It seemed he had been meaning to say this for a while, the words were bubbling out of him.

“Is this about your marriage, I know about that.” Harry replied, placing her hand on his knee trying to comfort him. “It doesn’t bother me at all.”

“You don’t know the truth.” Tom replied dramatically. “Anything those harpies gossip about in the village is nothing close to the truth.” His breathing was jagged. He stood up and started pacing.

“Well tell me the truth then, or don’t. I don’t care about your past Tom. We only need to focus on the present.” Harry replied, trying to sound sympathetic but feeling her patience wear thin. Harry got up from the bench and picked up her dress, getting ready to leave.

Tom stopped pacing and turned to face her. “Please don’t leave,” he pleaded. “Alright, I’ll tell you. But, don’t judge me. I couldn’t bear to see you hate me.” Harry tried to suppress the urge to roll her eyes.

As Tom recounted his marriage to Merope, he certainly added an emotional edge that wasn’t present in the memories Harry had seen in the Pensive. He told her of the existential horror of feeling intense, unwarranted passion and of the side effects. Constant fevers, palpitations, painful arousal. He went into detail about his disgust for his bride, and how even as he kissed her for the first time, he could feel his skin crawl and he recoiled from her breath.

By the time he finished discussing their wedding, he kept going, detailing their lovemaking much to Harry’s chagrin. From his accounts, every encounter was a nightmare. It wasn’t so much the physical discomfort, it was the powerlessness and the lack of control of one’s own body with full consciousness that something was horribly wrong.

“I don’t know how to say this, but she was a witch, some sort of succubus or something of the sort. She made me drink this foul concoction every morning, it smelled nice enough- the fireplace in my home, the field I liked to ride in, and wildflowers- but it tasted vile, and I saw her adding bits of her hair to it, so that certainly didn’t make it more palatable.” Tom rambled.

“And this drink, made you continue to love her?” Harry asked rhetorically.

“No,” Tom replied quietly. “It kept me obsessed with her, and tame. It wasn’t until one day, when she stopped the dosage that I came to my senses. Oh God, Harriet, it was awful. It was like lifting your head up from drowning, but with the terror of finding yourself still in the water. I had given up everything, my family, my life, for this horrible little creature. I couldn’t take it. The moment I started to feel like myself, I ran.”

“You did what you had to Tommy, no one would blame you,” Harry replied calmly.

“But that’s not all. She was pregnant. I knew she was expecting, but I wanted no part in that. The things I saw her do, it was like the work of the Devil. I couldn’t bear the thought of her carrying some monster like her, having to see it. Some hideous freak,” he spat.

Harry sighed. “Honestly, Tom. Are you hearing yourself? Love potions? Mind control? Magic? I’m sure we’ve all made decisions we’ve regretted but you don’t need to bring the Devil into it.”

“I know what I saw. Believe me or not, it’s true. But do you hate me, Harry? Can you forgive me?” He looked into her eyes, searching for some reassurance.

“The real question Tom is if you can forgive yourself.” Harry answered blandly.

“That’s what I’ve wondered for years. I’ve thought about the baby, what it might be doing, where they might be. I never heard from her again, and in some level, I’m relieved.”

“Then perhaps it’s for the best if we leave it at that,” Harry stated finally.

Tom looked at her suspiciously. “You wouldn’t happen to be my long-lost daughter I hope.”

Harry laughed. “I doubt it, I knew my parents and they were faithful to each other. Besides, who’s to say you didn’t have a son?”

Tom sighed in relief. “Fair enough. But it does take a weight off my shoulders, knowing you accept me, even after telling you my darkest secret.”

He kissed her, and held her in his arms for the rest of the evening. Harry frowned. She was going to have to paint the sign on the roof another day. It seems Tom was unwilling to let her slip away.

Harry needed to place the mark on the house, but she needed to make sure the Riddle House was going to be a target. If her plan was to be watertight, there needed to be documentation that the Germans wanted to hit the house.

Other than for going to Germany, she was going to have to intercept the spy radio signals and send a decoy message. It could work, Little Hangleton was nearby a munitions factory. If she could convince them to send a message tricking the Germans with the wrong coordinates, the heads at Whitehall would be none the wiser. It would be risky, but she would certainly have magic on her side.

Harry told her supervisor she was going to have to be gone for the day, once again for women’s troubles. Her supervisor eyed her suspiciously, but told her to be discrete.

“Second one of you lot heading out to the city to sort this out. I hope you’ve found a good one, last thing I need is one of you girls bleeding out. We don’t want the authorities getting involved,” she admonished. Harry thanked her profusely, and said discretion was her middle name.

She apparated to Buckinghamshire, clearly thinking of the large red brick mansion she had visited once on a trip in primary school. She stumbled onto the manicured grounds, she took in the sight of it. Bletchley Park, the hub of the codebreaking operations of British intelligence, and was one of the most vital, top-secret buildings in Muggle Britain. The machines they developed in order to help with decryption led to the world’s first digital programable computer. There were teams of codebreakers deciphering German messages, and around 8000 were women.

Harry adjusted her dress, now charmed to look like a more sober dress suit, and walked purposely towards the huts, the buildings added to the mansion that housed the intelligence operations. Harry made her way to Hut 6, which contained the decoding room.

Harry entered the dimly lit room and oppressively hot room. In front of her were rows of women on what looked typewriters. Harry stood for a moment, assessing her next move.

“What are you standing around for, haven’t you got an Enigma key?” asked a rather irritated woman. She had an elegant voice, well spoken and well dressed. She was presumably one of the Debs, as they were snidely referred to by their male counterparts.

“I’m afraid not, I’m new,” replied Harry.

“Well, come on then, we haven’t got all day.” The woman replied, motioning her to the giant machine standing in the room. It was larger than a person, and humming and moving. Harry briefly marveled at it before moving closer to the woman, who was busy looking at the ticker tape. Deftly, Harry took out her wand and cast the Imperius, quietly whispering her command in the woman’s ear. The sound of the Typex machines making it difficult for others to listen in, and their own activities distracting them from what they wouldn’t have understood.

Harry placed the cloak over herself, and waited as she saw the command go through. It was done. Now all she had to do was paint the signal and wait.

 

It wasn’t until another week later when Harry had the opportunity for an overnight visit with Tom. He asked her to arrive earlier than usual, and look presentable. Harry only had the one dress, so she made the most basic preparations.

When she arrived at the back entrance, Watson was waiting for her. “Follow me,” he stated curtly. Evidently, he had hunted some rabbits that were laying on the kitchen table, ready to be skinned and he was in a hurry.

Much to Harry’s surprise, they did not climb the stairs, but walked straight to the main dining hall.

“What’s going on?” Harry asked before finding the answer all too soon.

Mr. and Mrs. Riddle were standing at the dining table, their reproachful gaze boring into her. Tom was also present at the table, smiling sheepishly.

“Harriet, darling, these are my parents though I’m sure you’re aware of that.” Tom introduced the pair, and Mr. Riddle nodded, giving a harrumph. Mrs. Riddle gave her an icy glare.

“Lovely to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Riddle,” Harry replied confidently, giving a broad smile.

Mrs. Riddle seemed to ease up, but was still examining Harry with her eyes. “Well, she is a pretty thing, Tom. But she’s awfully young. Do sit down dear, we’re about to start supper.”

Dinner was a quiet affair. They ate some of the rabbit hunted earlier, along with potatoes. No one spoke a word.

It wasn’t until the sherry was poured that Tom spoke up. “Harriet, there is something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

“Must you say it now, I’d prefer if you told me in private,” Harry replied curtly.

“Now, now. There’s no need for you to be skulking about, dear. It won’t do for you to be popping in and out like some harlot,” replied Mrs. Riddle. “If anything needs to be said, it will be said in front of the family.

“Precisely,” Tom agreed. “And I would like for them to be present.” Tom pulled a small velvet box out of his pocket.

Oh no.

Tom opened the box, revealing a small Asscher cut Emerald ring. He stood up, bending down on his knee, barely hiding the discomfort it was causing his back.

This was too much. She couldn’t make her presence known. She had to leave no trace. If the Riddles died, she might be a suspect – it looked suspicious, former fiancée involved in effort sabotage their blackout. She hid her face with her hands, hoping to hide her terror.

“Harriet Evans, would you do the honor…”

“I can’t marry you, Tom.” Harry blurted.

Tom faltered. “Why not? What reason could you have?”

“I’m already engaged,” Harry lied. “He’s in the RAF, we’re going to marry once the war’s over. Oh Tommy, don’t be like that. Why can’t we just focus on the here and now? We don’t need to make things complicate with marriage.”

“I don’t see a ring on you,” Tom pouted.

“He couldn’t afford one, but it doesn’t matter. What we have now is great, but we’re going to have to go our separate ways soon. And let’s face it Tom, we have separate lives, I don’t belong here.”

“It seems the girl has more sense than I gave her credit for,” Mrs. Riddle added.

“Quite,” replied Mr. Riddle, occupying himself with the paper.

“But I could give you more, I could make you happier, Harriet. Don’t you see, you’re the only person who I’ve ever cared for. You’re the only one who I would want.” Tom pleaded.

“And I’m yours, always,” Harry replied, trying her hardest to sound sympathetic. “But I don’t need you to prove anything to me with big gestures. Time is so fleeting, lets just enjoy what we have and not look too deeply into it.”

Tom swallowed his pride, placed the box back in his pocket, and they spent the rest of the evening by the fire reading.

It seems Tom was not in the mood to ask her to stay the night, and escorted her back to her bunk. When she saw him return to the house, she followed behind while wearing the cloak. She stopped by the barn to pick up the paint, sending a silent prayer to whatever deity was around the cans had not been noticed or tampered with.

She carried two cans with her as she cast Alohomora and hoped Watson didn’t hear the door creak open. Silently, she climbed the stairs to the roof, undetected by the caretaker.

When she reached the roof, she popped open the tops of the paint, marveling at the bright glow of the phosphorescence. Of course, it was not as bright as modern glow-in-the-dark paint, which contained strontium aluminate, but Harry hoped the blackout conditions could make the glow look brighter.

Harry thought a moment of what she wanted to paint. A swastika? No, too vile, even if she was committing murder.

Then it hit her. What would be the symbol that would attract the most attention from the Germans, but would be so forbidden that it must be destroyed before the Muggle authorities find it painted on the house? Harry wondered if it would be too obvious, too much of a taunt.

It was ironic in a way, two of them were only a few meters apart.

With a sardonic grin, Harry took out her brush and painted a large symbol of the Deathly Hallows on the roof.

An hour later, she descended the stairs, discarding the empty paint cans in a coat closet. She noticed Watson was sleeping in the kitchen by the door. Quietly, she cast a Stunning Spell not to wake him, and cast a Floating Charm, picking up his body and carrying it out the door and safely to the barn.

She spent the evening taking a long quiet stroll back to her bunk and thought about the Greater Good. Did Dumbledore ever have any ethical dilemmas about murder when he and Grindelwald planned the bright world of Wizard supremacy of their youth? Would he have thought of the lengths he might have had to go through if Ariana hadn’t died?

Harry stumbled back into bed sometime around two in the morning, wrapping herself fitfully in her sheets.

As she closed her eyes, she felt the ground shake, the air crackling with the deafening sound of an explosion. The other girls started to scream as they saw fire blazing in the distance.

Chapter Text

Harry read the notice in the paper the next morning, but she didn’t need to do more than look out her window to know the truth.

There were no survivors.

The entire house had been reduced to rubble, the large buttresses crumbled onto the cracked marble floor, the banister splintered everywhere, broken glass glittering.

The police had closed off the property, but it didn’t stop the tenants and nearby villagers driving to see the spectacle as they pulled out the remains.

The bodies weren’t even whole, they were dismembered from the blast, burst and broken. The skin was red and peeling, smelling of burnt flesh as their corpses were in a perpetual scream. It was almost impossible to tell which one was which.

Harry kept her head down, unable to look at the destruction she had wrought. When she saw the confirmation she needed, she made her way to her rounds.


 

While the Riddles were dead, work continued. Harry couldn’t leave, not yet, so she maintained her cover as a Land Girl for the rest of Spring. She was going to have to plan her next move and keep an eye on the Gaunts. She could warn them of their wayward Heir, but they would be more likely to curse her than believe her. She wondered if they had seen her in town, and if she’d need to disguise herself.

Deciding she’d go for a simple disguise rather than go through the effort of obtaining Polyjuice, she charmed her dress to look similar to dress robes. Temporary fix, but looked elegant enough to the untrained eye. She decorated her hair in a braided updo similar to one she had seen some of the Slytherin girls wear at the Yule Ball. Gently, she applied a thin layer of lipstick on her finger, and tapped it over her lips and cheeks. She briefly examined herself in the mirror. Not the most presentable Pureblood, but she’d do. It’s not like she’d look any worse than they did.

As she wandered into the woods, she tried to remember any familiar objects from the Pensieve memory, maybe a tree or a knoll. She wandered deep into the woods before she finally found the Gaunt Shack. It was just as decrepit as she had seen in the memory, and unfortunately smelled worse in person. Taking a deep breath, she warily knocked on the door, hoping it wasn’t cursed.

“Morfin, get the door!” She heard a harsh voice from inside the hovel.

“Must be a Muggle, should be good for some fun. May I have some fun with it?”

“Yes, boy, do what you must.” The other man, presumably Marvolo replied exasperatedly.

As Morfin opened the door wand in hand, Harry quickly disarmed him. “Is that how you answer to a lady? I expected better from the Heir of the Ancient House of Gaunt,” Harry stated haughtily. She tried to imagine how Narcissa Malfoy would react in this situation and held her head high, back straight, nose in the air.

“And who might you be that you think you deserve to be received like a lady?” Morfin asked.

“I’m…Walburga Black,” Harry lied. “It should be obvious, everyone who’s in the proper sort of society knows who I am.”

“I’ve heard of the Black name, you may enter.” He motioned for her to enter. Worried about potential traps, Harry gingerly placed one foot over the threshold. Nothing happened, so she stepped inside.

The inside was also the same as in the memory, small and dirty, a cauldron stewing over a sooty stove a small table, a bed, and two chairs.

Marvolo was sitting at the table, hunched over some foul looking stew. He held the spoon up to his mouth, blowing on it as bits of broth flew onto the table.

“Who’s this?” He demanded.

“This is Walburga Black,” Morfin answered. “She has decided to pay a visit,” he sneered.

“Why would a Black want to come all the way out here?” Marvolo asked suspiciously.

“I’m sure I don’t need to remind you there is a war going on, and we old families need to work together to preserve our way of life. I’m aware the Gaunts haven’t wanted to get involved in politics, but it’s going to be unavoidable soon.”

“We want no part in this war, we have nothing to prove. We’ve been established in the Book of Geneaology centuries before you upstarts.” Marvolo scowled. “Now get out.”

“Not so fast, Lord Gaunt,” Harry addressed in the formal style, the old style. It made him look up from his stew.

“If you do not want to help us protect the legacy of the old ways, you must at least protect your own.” Harry urged.

“What do you mean by that?” Marvolo asked, his curiousity piqued.

“I have reason to believe that the Dark Lord is interested in claiming magical artifacts of great historical importance. One item in particular that belonged to the Great Salazar Slytherin himself.”

Both men stood still, barely breathing.

“Now, I’m sure we have nothing to worry about, I’ve heard its existence is just a rumor…”

“It’s not.” Morfin interrupted.

“I beg your pardon?” Harry asked innocently.

“It’s not a rumor, we have one heirloom, but the girl stole the other.” Morfin replied bitterly.

“Morfin, you cannot tell her that!.” Marvolo hissed. He walked up to his son and started hitting him aggressively, causing the other man to yelp.

“You can trust me, Lord Gaunt. I respect the power of the old ways, and I respect your right to protect what is your family’s. I am merely here to warn you. Hide what you have left, hide it well. The Dark Lord is coming and he will try to steal it, and worse, defile it.”

“Thank you for your warning, Lady Black. We will,” Marvolo gave her a small bow out of some long forgotten sense of politeness.

“Excellent,” she smiled. “Well, I best be off. It’s a long way back to town.”

“Why don’t you stay for supper?” asked Morfin. “It has been a long time since we had any proper company, especially not any ladies such as yourself.”

Harry giggled, and gave him a grin, inwardly trying not to gag. “I’m terribly sorry, but I must be off. My fiancé will be waiting for me,”

Morfin’s face fell, and Marvolo gave a grunt. “If you are still on the lookout for any prosepective matches, we are still on the market for a bride for my son,” he added.

Harry tried to give an understanding nod, “It’s so hard to find the right sort these days. I’m afraid my parents are only letting me marry within the family. Best way to retain our assests, whatever that means. Daddy’s always going on about that.” Harry prattled, letting their interest in her drop off.

As she left the hovel, she knew whatever protections the Gaunts were planning would be woefully inadequate, but it was going to have to do. The Stone would technicaly be safe, and that was one less problem to deal with. Now, she had to retrieve the Locket from Borgin and Burke’s, make sure the Cup never ended up in Tom’s hands, and possibly take the diadem from Tom after he stole it from Albania, or go to Albania herself and take it.

Harry stopped walking and almost wanted to slap herself. Did she really think that? Go into Albania in the middle of the war just to steal a tiara?

Well, she could possibly give it a try. Italy had recently pulled out, and the Germans were beginning to take control of the area. The British had some involvement with the resistance, but Harry really didn’t know too much about the history of the area.

She was going to have to make inquiries on how to smuggle her way out. The most convenient way would be via Portkey, she would need to find who to bribe in Knockturn Alley, and where to get the money for that.

But she was going to have to focus on that later.

 


 

Harry wasn’t sure if she wanted to attend the funeral. It was almost a week after the Riddles’ deaths, their solicitor had to come from London to manage the preparations.

It was a small turnout. The Riddles were very private people, and weren’t well liked by their tenants or the villagers. Harry and Watson exchanged glances, and he gave her a nod of acknowledgement.

After the service was over, a middle aged man in a neatly tailored suit approached Harry.

“Miss Evans, a moment of your time, I think we have some business to discuss,” he stated, giving her his card.

It was the solicitor, a Mr. Archibald Jones.

“I’m afraid you are mistaken, sir. I had no connection to the Riddles, just paying my respects,” Harry replied, her eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

“I had spoken to the younger Mr. Riddle a few days prior to his unfortunate demise, and he had discussed his nupitals in the near future. I’m sorry for your loss,” he replied sympathetically.

How much did this man know? Would he compromise her plans?

“Thank you for your concern. Will that be all, Mr. Jones?”

“Ah, yes. Well, I would have preferred to continue this discussion in my office, but I can see you’re busy with the Women’s Land Army, so I’ll finish what I have to say.” He motioned to the now empty graveyard. “I think we’re in a confidential enough location anyway,” he joked.

He coughed, then continued. “While you will not inherit the estate or any of Mr. Riddle’s holdings, since you never married him, he had placed a small annuity in your name of one thousand pounds a year.”

Harry’s eyes widened. Oh that was not good.

“I’m afraid I cannot accept that,” Harry replied. “It wouldn’t be right, taking a dead man’s money.”

The less the Riddles could be traced back to her, the better.

“But it has already been signed and documented. Please, consider it. You will live comfortably.”

Harry thought about it. She could use the money to travel to Albania, and she didn’t want to think about what favors she’d have to provide to get an illegal Portkey with no money to her name.

“Very well then, but I think it’s only fair you contact Mr. Riddle’s son, he should also be entitled to his share.”

Mr. Jones’s eyes widened in astonishment. “I wasn’t aware he had a son.”

“He was the product of a rather unwise marriage, but I think it was still legal. He has the same name as his father, and is currently abroad at school. He has a permanent address at Wool’s Orphanage in London. But I would prefer you didn’t mention my knowledge of him. Tom was very private about his son, and I’d like to respect his wishes.” Harry answered.

“Of course, Miss Evans. I will provide discretion. I’ll see what can be done about contacting young Master Riddle.”

Harry made her goodbyes, and went back to work.


 

Meanwhile, in Nurmengard Castle

Grindelwald was examining the view from his massive window overlooking the Alps. His mind was full of dark thoughts as the war had hurtled in a direction he hadn’t been particularly fond of. While it had been useful to use the Muggle War as a front for his own purposes, the Muggle leaders weren’t as obedient or compliant as he’d expected.

Worst of all, they were focusing more on their own goals. It almost disgusted him, the wholesale slaughter they were willing to casually inflict on each other over land or identity. Didn’t they all see they were all inferior to the Magicals?

And he was no closer to his true goal, conquering the Hallows and becoming Master of Death.

“My Lord, I have an urgent message for you,” one of his chief advisors, Vinda Rosier, stated carrying a telegram.

Grindelwald silently lifted his arm and she handed the message to him.

“It was from our Muggle forces, they were flying through England on a routine raid when they noticed our sigil painted on the roof of a building they were scheduled to attack.”

“Did they cancel the attack and search the building?” Grindelwald asked.

“Well, no. They followed through on their orders. It might have been a false lead, it turns out the building was just a house with a family inside. Some unimportant Muggles.” Rosier dismissed.

Grindelwald examined the telegram and thought about the reasoning behind the attack. An unimportant village called Little Hangleton. The decoys the British usually provided never involved the Magical front. It was almost as if the two weren’t even involved with the other. The Ministry cared too much about the Statute to work with the Muggles, and they had far too much pride. This was the work of someone outside the system. Someone who know the importance of the sigil.

Could it be a trap set out by Albus? No, not enough flair for one of Albus's traps. Or could it be a genuine sign?

“Perhaps it was for the best the evidence was destroyed. I think we should cancel any meetings we have with the Chancellor in the next few days. I think we will be paying a visit to the little Island.”

“But sir, do you really want to go to England? The risk will be far too great.” Vinda protested.

“I will be careful, Vinda. And Aurelius will be in charge while I’m gone. Something tells me this trip will be worth the risk.”

Chapter Text


 

Harry sat at her table in Knockturn Alley, nursing a beer.

She hadn’t had time to change after her duties, so she was the only witch in a cloak and muddy overalls. She found herself standing out a bit in the sea of mismatching gaudy robes that wizards and witches were fond of. She had made inquiries about who to contact for an illegal Portkey, and after some endeavors had managed to find someone. He was a gruff looking man, probably in his mid-60’s with dirty clothes and a scruffy beard.

He sat next to her at the table and gave a grunt of acknowledgement. “Alright?”

Harry nodded. “I take it everything is in order?”

The man grunted, “Do you have the money?”

Harry slid the bag of gold into his hand. “Two Hundred Galleons, as we agreed.”

It hadn’t been easy converting Muggle money into Galleons. The exchange rate was through the roof thanks to the war, and the Goblins created such a fuss when she tried to exchange such a large sum, even if it was over the span of a few weeks. The Pound was practically worthless, and they thought she was essentially stealing their gold by legal means. It was only when she agreed to exchange guineas that they could melt for metals that they even considered exchanging.

The man frowned, and picked up the bag, examining the contents.

“You leave tomorrow. You’re going to the drop off point in Dover, have you been there before?”

Harry shook her head.

“Right. Well, here are the coordinates, and then you’ll take your Portkey to your destination. Merlin knows why a young thing such as yourself would want to go to Albania in the middle of the war.”

“You can rest assured, sir, I can take care of myself.” Harry replied firmly.

He looked skeptical, but said nothing.

“But I would like to thank you, Mister…”

“Fletcher.”

“Really?” Harry asked. Could this man be Mundungus’s father? Perhaps he was a bit old, then again it was none of her business.

“You’ve heard of me?” He asked, pride puffing up in his chest.

“Only that you’re the best at what you do.” Harry joked. She hoped the Portkey would work, and that it didn’t leave anything behind.


 

Grindelwald found it was almost laughable how easy it was to cross back into England. The Ministry has so many gaps in their protections, it was so easy to enter and leave the country undetected. They never would have expected he would arrive not by magical means, but by boat.

As he Apparated from the cliffs of Dover to the area described in the telegram, he adjusted his bearings and held his wand tightly. He could feel the power of the Elder Wand surging through his veins as its true Master, and he could sense the other Hallows were near. This was the place, it emanated old magic.

As he examined the ruins of the charred mansion, Gridelwald paced around the property, looking for a sign. He saw the burnt remains of phosphorous paint hidden in the ruins, and muddy footsteps still visible in the remains of the wooden floorboards- small, from what looked to be rubber boots. Perhaps a child?

He placed a tracking charm of his own creation, a handy spell that identified any magical signatures in a five kilometer radius. He found three. Two in the same spot deep within the woods, and one closer to the fields of this burnt out estate. Perhaps the latter was a sentinel, he would avoid it until he had a better idea.

As he walked deeper into the woods, the pull of magic increased, he was getting closer. It must be the Stone.

He stopped when he reached a small hovel. Could the Stone possibly in here?

He blasted the door open and stepped inside.

Two men, hideous and weak, were cowering on the floor prostrate in front of him.

“My Lord!” The older man gasped. “What an honor it is to be in your presence. We were expecting you.”

Expecting him? Who could have known he was coming.

Grindelwald pointed his wand at the man’s face, watching him shake in terror. “Did Dumbledore warn you?” He growled.

The idiot’s face faltered in confusion. “Dumbledore? No, we would never associate with that Blood traitor.”

Grindelwald cast the Cruciatus. It wasn’t in the practice of doing so, but it felt necessary. He took little pleasure in watching the man writhe in pain, screaming as spittle came out his mouth.

“Do not insult Albus Dumbledore, he is worth more than either of you. If he did not warn you, who did?”

“Walburga Black, sir.” The other man, slightly younger and stupider than the one he tortured, replied. “She stopped by a few weeks ago and told us you were interested in our family ring. But you can’t have it, Dark Lord or not. That is Salazar Slytherin’s ring.”

The Blacks were on his side. He personally knew Pollux and was Walburga’s godfather, he named her. She certainly wouldn’t go out of her way to try to stop him. Someone was impersonating her, someone who didn’t want him to have the Stone.

“Where is it?” Grindelwald growled. “Tell me, Boy, you try my patience.”

“Under the floorboards,” croaked the older man, wheezing. But you’ll never be able to undo the curse we’ve placed on it,” he taunted.

Swiftly, Grindelwald lifted the floorboards with a wave of his wand, and threw them to the side hitting the two men as they screamed. He lifted the ring with a floating charm, and examined it careful not to touch.

“I see you’ve placed a Blood curse. Anyone who’s not of your Blood will undergo necrosis if they touch this.” Grindelwald surmised after examining the ring. “Impressive...I didn’t catch your name.”

“Gaunt, My Lord. We are one of the oldest Families, one of the few who keep the old ways,” the man replied.

“I assume that is your heir,” Grindelwald motioned to the other man, and he nodded.

Grindelwald lifted the heir up in the air, strangling him with a wave of his wand. “Undo the curse of Slytherin’s line will end in two minutes.”

“I can have other children,” Gaunt replied. “You will not be getting this ring.”

Grindelwald waved his wand again, allowing the curse to strengthen, tightening the air against the other man’s windpipe.

“Father, please,” he begs, his voice gasping.

Finally, Gaunt relented, grabbing the ring and a knife. He cut his thumb, allowing the blood to drip onto the ring, and started chanting in Parseltongue. Interesting.

The ring glowed in an eerie, dim light, then shook. As it returned to its original state, the man sighed. He lifted the ring up to Grindelwald.

“Here’s the last known artifact of Salazar Slytherin, fallen into undeserving hands,” Gaunt muttered. “Now give me my son.”

Grindelwald undid the curse, allowing the man to slump to the floor.

“You can have his body. I’m afraid you were too late.”

As Gaunt wailed, holding his son in his arms, Grindelwald cast the Killing Curse. It would be best to have no witnesses.


 

Harry had packed her limited possessions in a small blanket and checked her watch, she had a few hours before she was to depart for Dover. Perhaps she should check on the Gaunts. She wouldn’t bother trying to disguise herself again, she’d just spy on them while wearing the cloak.

She made her way to the house when she saw green light flashing through the windows. She took off her cloak, stuffing it into her pocket and ran in, wand out.

“Alright Tom, stop right there. It’s over!” Harry shouted. Her eyes widened when she saw that it was in fact, not Tom Riddle.

“Oh Merlin,” she gasped

“Worse, I’m afraid.”

Grindelwald was even more imposing in person than how he was described in textbooks. His manner was composed, yet chilling. He was smartly dressed in some combination of a suit and robes, his hair shockingly white and his eyes two different colors, brown and electric blue. Both staring down at Harry with an intent to kill.

Expelliarmus!” Harry shouted, ducking out of the way.

Grindelwald lifted his arm, missing the spell.

“That won’t work on me, Miss Black, or whatever your name really is. Imbolius

Harry rolled over, missing the spell. She continued to use the Disarming Charm - it had worked last time to defeat the last Master of the wand, and kept dodging. She ran out of the house, with Grindelwald following behind.

Desperate, she apparated to her point in Dover, stumbling as she landed in a somersault on the cliff, panting as she found herself inches from the edge.

“Still having trouble with apparition?” Fletcher asked. “It takes practice. Anyway, you’re early. Fancy a cuppa?”

He took out a grubby looking thermos and his wand. He tapped it open, allowing it to float, opening up on his own and pouring out a capful of lukewarm tea.

Hardy accepted it nervously, making sure it wasn’t drugged. “Why are you being so nice to me?” She asked suspiciously.

“Not sure really. Perhaps you remind me of my own girl. She’s a bit older than you of course. But it doesn’t seem right, seeing you out on your own. Now drink up.”

Seeing his insistence at her drinking the tea, Harry was sure it was drugged. She held it in her hands to keep her warm.


 

Grindelwald searched for the girl, but it was no use. She was gone. He was going to find her, find out how she knew about the Hallows, and why she wanted to stop him. He was going to have to get out of the country soon. He couldn’t be too close to Albus, the pact made it so that they could sense each other.

So why hadn’t he felt Albus’s presence? Had he broken the pact? He was going to have to train Aurelius harder.

Resigned, he lifted his wand, apparating to his rendezvous point in Dover.

“It’s time,” Fletcher announced. He took a disc out of his pocket and threw it on the floor. Slowly, the disc inflated and took the shape of a basket. “Step in.”

Harry placed her feet in the basket and took one last look out at the coast.

“The sea is calm tonight,” Harry stated sadly, thinking of the poem that shared its name with the beach.

“You’re a bit of a nutter, aren’t you? Well stay safe, try to keep yourself in one piece,” Fletcher replied. Perhaps that was his form of a farewell.

She noticed a figure in the distance, pushing a boat across the shore. Could it be? It was a man in a suit, his shocking white hair flashing in the moonlight. He was about to push to sea when he turned around, facing the cliff. Silently, he cast Lumos.

“We’ve been found!” Fletcher gasped.

“Quiet!” Harry hissed. “How long do we have before the Portkey activates?”

“Five minutes. Sorry love, looks like you’re on your own.” With that, he apparated away.

Harry watched in horror, standing still in her basket as she saw Grindelwald abandon his boat and lift his wand. With a snap, he was standing in front of her.

“The Ministry will know you are here, they can detect wand signatures.” Harry threatened.

Grindelwald laughed. “Your Ministry is a joke, and uses its deficiencies to hide its cowardice. Besides, I won’t be here very long.”

To her horror, he stepped into the basket. Their bodies only centimeters away, his breath warm on her neck as he wrapped one arm around her waist.

“Tell me, Girl, where are we going?” He asked, mischief in his voice. Playful, similar to a cat toying with his prey.

Harry felt as if the words were wooden, shuddering in fear, “Albania.”

With a pop, the basket was gone, and the sea continued to draw back and fling.










.








Chapter Text

When the Portkey stumbled into an empty field, Harry tripped out of the basket, falling on top of the most terrifying wizard of the twentieth century.

Grindelwald gently pushed her onto her side, and she groaned in pain from the journey. He slowly stood up, wiping the dirt off his robes. Harry remaining supine on the floor. This is it, she defeated Voldemort and failed in her journey to the past. If she had to die by Grindelwald’s hand, there could be worse ways to go.

She flinched as the wizard leaned over her and placed his hand around her wrist, checking her pulse.

“You’re perfectly fine, get up,” he ordered.

Harry groaned again and lifted herself up. She stared at him warily. “Was it not sporting to kill me on my back?”

“If I wanted you dead, that wouldn’t have bothered me,” he replied wryly.

“So, what do you want from me?” Harry asked.

“Hold on,” Grindelwald hushed. He quickly scanned the area with his wand. “All clear. Did you get coordinates on our destination?”

“A few kilometers away from Tirana,” Harry replied.

“Good. I don’t have as many of my men here, but since our Muggles recently reclaimed the territory, we should be able to travel unencumbered.” Grindelwald admitted, scanning for any potential resistance fighters. “I’d rather not get into a firefight if I can help it, so I’d like you to answer my questions. Promptly.”

“Your Muggles? How deep were you in with the Nazis?” Harry asked horrified.

“I’m asking the questions here. Why did you lead me to the Stone, then try to stop me? You went through quite a bit of effort on both accounts.”

“I’m not sure how you found out about that…”

“Your footprints are still visible in the ruins of that house, and I had a little chat with the Gaunts.”

Harry’s face paled as the blood drained from her cheeks. Harry tried to think of something to say, something that wouldn’t get her killed without giving away too much of her knowledge of the future. She hoped Grindelwald wasn’t a Legimens.

“I wanted the Stone to belong to someone who could value it,” Harry answered. “I needed to keep it away from someone who was going to inherit it naturally and was planning on defiling it.”
“And why did you choose me? There are plenty of other wizards looking for the truth the Hallows can bring.” Grindelwald asked, his interest visibly increasing.

“Because you are the greatest wizard that ever lived,” Harry replied simply.

“You’re lying.” He observed.

“That’s a personal opinion, if you would like me to provide an honest judgement, I’d need some assurance you won’t kill me afterwards.” Harry quipped.

Grindelwald laughed. “You are a very stupid girl, or reckless. You said this target, Tom I assume, was going to defile the Stone. I can’t imagine anyone could be able to defile an ancient artifact.”

“Oh, it’s possible,” Harry replied. “He doesn’t know the true power the Stone holds. Thinks the Hallows are a myth. He just sees its value as Slytherin’s trinket.”

Grindelwald scoffed. “Do you believe in its power?”

“Of course,” Harry replied firmly.

“Ah, a truthful answer. You are a believer. Well, Girl, would you like to see the power of the Stone for yourself?”

“I’ve heard the story. If one uses the Stone, one longs for Death.” Harry replied, remembering her own longing to reunite with her family after using it. It had been a comfort when she knew Death was a certainty but would be less comforting with a mission at hand.

Grindelwald eyed the her approvingly. “No family members, friends, loved ones you wish to see again? Famous figures? Anyone?”

“They would only be a shade, and they would only want me to join them,” Harry stated.

Grindelwald didn’t reply, idly turning the Stone in his hands. Once, twice, but stopped before the third.

“What is your name, Girl?”

“Harry.”

“Odd name, even for the English,” Grindelwald teased.

“It’s short for Harriet. It’s a Muggle name.” Grindelwald snorted, displeased at her condescension.

“I think I’ll wait, there might be a more auspicious occasion for its use,” he decided. He looked into Harry’s eyes, noticing the fear had disappeared completely when talking about the Stone. She had an aura about her, something he couldn’t quite place, a stillness that resonated with the Stone, and even with his wand. This ordinary girl was connected to the Hallows, and he needed to understand how if he was ever going to truly Master them rather than possess them.

“If that’s the end to your questions, I’ll take my leave,” Harry responded hoping Grindelwald would let her go. He did have a war to run after all.

“Did I say you could leave?” Grindelwald asked menacingly. “Where are you going? This is my territory after all, it is only polite I escort you to your destination.”

Harry felt the hair on her neck stand at end. “It is a private matter,” she replied sourly.

“You are not entitled to secrets anymore, my child. I think you forget yourself.” Grindelwald admonished, as if scolding a schoolgirl. He considered torturing her, just to put her in her place, but concluded the girl would lead him to her secrets willingly. He just needed the right leverage. “With my help, you will be out of here before the end of the week, maybe sooner. Without me, you will find yourself dead in a ditch at the mercy of any wandering soldiers who cross your path.”

“You’re pretending to give me the illusion of choice, I see.” Harry frowned. “Very well, I’m looking for the lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw. I have it on good authority it’s in the forests of Albania.”

Grindelwald had heard of the story of the diadem from his great-aunt Bathilda. Many had searched for it, none had succeeded. It was considered a myth. Then again, he was holding a myth in his hand.

“So, you seek wisdom? You certainly lack it, perhaps you might benefit from finding it,” Grindelwald chuckled.

Harry frowned. “I do not seek the diadem for myself. But that is neither here nor there.”

“Do you know the coordinates of this diadem?” Grindelwald asked, his voice laced with amusement. The look of confusion and anger on the girl’s face was enough to cause the terrifying Dark Lord to burst into laughter.

“So, let us examine the facts at hand: You decide you are going to find an artifact that has been missing for centuries without knowing exactly where it is, only that it is in the forests of Albania. You booked an illegal Portkey, for what I presume was a tidy sum, into enemy territory during an active insurgency and hoped you could just wander around until you find it?” Grindelwald laughed. “You certainly do need this diadem, even if you are retrieving it for someone else.” He paused. “Who are you retrieving it for? It isn’t Dumbledore is it?” He asked suspiciously.

Harry frowned. “Do you really think Albus Dumbledore would need it?”

“One can never be too wise, though Albus would have too much hubris to wear it. Though he would look marvelous. Would match it eyes,” Grindelwald murmured wistfully.

“It’s supposed to be hidden in a hollow, I was going to look for trees in the surrounding forest until I found it,” Harry replied stubbornly.

“Well, you shouldn’t look here. Around what period was the diadem hidden?” Grindelwald asked.

“Um, around the lifetime of the Founders, a few years before Ravenclaw’s death.” Harry replied, feeling self-conscious of how little she knew about the time period.

“Tenth century then. Just as I suspected. Well, this area wasn’t as significant during the time of the First Bulgarian Empire. I assume the person who stole the diadem was not going to go to Byzantine controlled territory- the Byzantines weren’t as friendly to the wizards at the time, so we should focus on the land that was part of the Kutmichevitsa, as the territory was known at the time.”

“Do you know the entire history of Albania?” Harry asked in surprise.

“I know a general history of most of my territory, knowing history keeps one from repeating the mistakes of others.” Grindelwald replied.

“What about Russia?” Harry asked. Grindelwald scowled.

“That was not my doing. The Muggles have a mind of their own when it comes to tactics.” Grindelwald grumbled. “But it is useful, since it distracts from my own battles.”

“I thought you were controlling the Muggles, telling them how to fight the war.”

“It is more of a symbiotic relationship. We give the Muggles the power to fight the war, allowing us to protect as many magicals as possible. When they have wiped out each other, the wizards will rise, reclaiming our place. Their society will be so devastated, we won’t even need the Statute of Secrecy, we can operate once more in the open.”

Harry couldn’t believe what she was hearing. That was Grindelwald’s plan? Somehow, it seemed more streamlined when she had to listen to it in History class. He was certainly given more credit afterwards for the general destruction of cities and people.

“And how do the Hallows fit into your plans?” Harry asked.

“By Mastering Death, we claim complete superiority over all beings, and bring about a Golden Age for magic to prosper.” Grindelwald answered triumphantly.

Harry was at a loss as to how to respond to that. She had assumed he was the saner Dark Lord. “Do you have any suggestions as to where to start?” she asked.

“The best choices would involve narrowing down to prominent areas of the time period such as Devol, Ballsh, and Berat. Devol is an option, the magical parts of the city had been hidden by a Fidelius, so it will be a bit of a challenge to find anything there. Ballsh might be an option, but I wouldn’t want to draw too much attention visiting the oil fields. Let’s start with Berat. It was fairly prominent with the magical community of the Middle Ages, and the Forests of Tomorr seem like the most likely spot. If your thief wanted to hide their treasure, where better than a den of giants?”

Harry let out a groan, “Giants?”

Chapter Text

It had taken a great deal of effort to reach the forests unscathed. While Grindelwald was correct, the area was German controlled, there were insurgents everywhere.

As soon as they had apparated to the outskirts of the forest, they were ambushed.

Bullets flew, whizzing by Harry’s ears as she cast blocking charms, dodging and ducking. Grindelwald stood tall and proud, blasting them with curses. The glint in his eyes indicating he was determined to kill all of them. Harry grabbed his free arm and dragged him behind her as they ran into the woods, the thicket increasing as they jumped over roots and fallen branches.

She could hear the insurgents screaming orders, their boots crunching the underbrush as they pursued them.

She felt a bullet whizz past her shoulder, and another blast a tree in front of her. They were getting close. Grindelwald continued to shoot curses, and she could see the dinstinctive green glow from the corner of her eye. Harry closed her eyes, hearing a stream in the distance. Knowing it was a risk, she envisioned it in her mind and lifted her wand.

With a pop, they landed by the side of the stream deep into the forest. The canopy was so dense, it was impossible to tell if it was morning or evening. The last curse shot out of Grindelwald’s wand and deep into the expanse of trees.

Harry groaned as she felt a deep gash in her arm. It seemed she had splinched herself badly.

Grindelwald frowned. He took off his jacket and ripped off one of the sleeves of his shirt. He retrieved a small vial from his coat pocket and dipped the fabric in the potion. In a fluid motion, he wrapped the makeshift bandage on Harry’s wound, causing her to yelp in pain.

“Quiet, they’ll hear you and your little stunt will have been for nothing,” Grindelwald whispered. He quickly scanned their surroundings, taking in every sight and sound. “We seem to be quite a ways from where we were. Do you know this part of the forest well?”

“Not at all, I just heard the stream and I imagined its source.” Harry replied, wincing in pain.

“Imagined? And you’ve never been here? I’m surprised we’re still in the same forest at all.” Grindelwald replied sourly. He raised his wand and it emitted a small blue light. “Yes, we’re still in the forest alright. Lucky for you your lack of specificity in your apparition meant we were taken to the point of highest magical resonance.”

“What does that mean?” Harry asked.

“That means this place has the highest level of magical activity. The most available potions ingredients, perhaps some wand trees, and more importantly magical lifeforms. And that doesn’t just mean witches and wizards. We’re in a veritable ecosystem of magical life.” Grindelwald replied respectfully, his inner academic briefly reemerging.

“So the giants?” Harry asked.

“Yes, this is the heart of giant country, we must be careful.” Grindelwald raised Harry up with her good hand and helped her regain her balance. Harry knew she could have used the cloak to easily pass through, but the less Grindelwald knew about its existence the better. If she needed to use it as a bargaining chip she would, but only as a last resort.

“Then we best be quick about this,” Harry agreed, letting go of his hand. “I’ll take the left side of the forest, you take the right. We’ll check for any trees with hollows and see if anything is inside.”

“Are you sure there will be anything there after all these centuries?” Grindelwald asked skeptically.

“Oh, I know it’s here, I’d be willing to wager my soul on it.” Harry replied wryly.

Grindelwald frowned. “That’s not something to say lightly. Either way, I’m not leaving you. We’re finding this blasted thing together or not at all. You can’t get away from me so easily.”

He grabbed her injured arm tightly, causing her to wince again.

They searched for hours, Harry casting Lumos and looking deep into the trees in vain. It seems most holes were too small for the diadem, but she still looked and stuck her arm inside. Of course she was left with some nasty bites from bowtruckles and a rather peevish marten.

“I don’t suppose you’re going to help me?” Harry asked in annoyance.

“You seem to be doing well on your own, my dear.” The Dark Lord smirked in amusement.

“I’m surprised you’re still here, isn’t this a waste of your time?” Harry asked, plunging her arm into another tree only to find nothing.

“I wouldn’t call it that. You’ve provided me with what I’ve been searching for so easily when I had been unable to trace it for decades, and you claim you want nothing to do with me. It’s a puzzle, and I aim to solve it.”

“As I’ve said before, it’s in out mutual interests. But that doesn’t mean by giving you the Stone I’m going to become a Nazi.” Harry plunged her arm into another tree and recoiled as she felt a nest of lizards crawling inside.

“I’m not a Nazi,” Grindelwald replied indignantly.

Harry laughed. “You most certainly are! Or have I ended up in another universe where the Third Reich never existed?”

“Nazis are Muggles. I’m beneath such political labels.” Grindelwald answered.

Harry looked at him in exasperation. “You obviously aren’t stupid, or you wouldn’t have gotten this far. If you’re in bed with the Nazis, you are one. You’re letting them use you by entwining your cause with theirs and promising them magic to win the war.”

“All empty promises. They can have the idea of a magical partnership, but I have the benefit of controlling them, and their destruction will plant the seeds for a brighter future for us all.”

“One where you are in supreme control.” Harry concluded. “You care just as much for the magicals as you do for the muggles, you don’t need to try your propaganda on me.”

Grindelwald’s eyes flashed with rage as he pointed the Elder Wand at her. Harry shook in fear, and closed her eyes. Hesitantly, she opened one, and noticed Grindelwald lower his wand.

“I can’t seem to kill you,” Grindelwald mumbled in half-repressed rage and terror. “It’s as if It won’t let me.” His hand shook as he gripped tightly to the wand. “What have you done?” he hissed.

“Nothing.” Harry replied, staring at the wand. It couldn’t know she had become the Master of Death, however briefly she held that title. It wasn’t as if the Hallows had omniscience.

Grindelwald took note of a herd of chamois drinking at the stream and shot a Killing Curse at the closest animal. Silently, it fell over, its body floating in the water.

“Was that necessary?” Harry asked.

“So it’s just you,” he muttered. Grindelwald was tense, his muscles tight and contracted, poised and ready to strike

Harry held her breath and waited. Grindelwald snarled, but blasted a nearby tree. Harry screamed as the splinters of wood flew everywhere, piercing her skin and clothes.

Harry opened her eyes, grateful a splinter had not gotten lodged in her cornea. Grindelwald looked a sight covered in floating bits of tree bark. He seemed to have clamed down, but she could tell his rage was simmering.

“Right. I think we’ll try one more tree and then…” Harry noticed the glint in the light in the remains of the blasted tree. “It can’t be.”

She ran over to the base of the shattered tree and grabbed at the reflective object. It was metallic, and as she held it up she knew she had it. “Yes!” Harry shouted.
Grindelwald strode over towards her and grabbed the diadem, examining it carefully. “Well I’ll be damned. It really is Ravenclaw’s.” He caressed the inscription, Orfanc begeondan eln sy mannes heáhlandrícan.

Harry snatched the diadem from his hand. “Now that we’ve gotten what we’ve came for let’s get out of here.”

Grindelwald was about to say something when the ground started to shake violently. Harry grabbed the base of the tree and Grindelwald grabbed onto her, his wand out and ready to attack.

“Is it an earthquake?” Harry shouted.

Suddenly, light burst from the sky as Harry shielded her eyes to the brightness. As she adjusted, she noticed that the trees were gone, pulled apart by their roots.

“Worse.” Muttered Grindelwald.

Harry looked up to see three incredibly large giants. Their grey skin shining in the sunlight, their dark matted hair covering their faces. Their mouths red with blood, headless chamois in their massive pudgy hands.

Harry remembered Grawp, and Hagrid was right, he was a runt. They were twice his size, and certainly did not look as friendly.

“Um, Hello.” Harry shouted, much to the giant’s confusion.

“Are you trying to converse with them?” Grindelwald asked angrily. “They’re more likely to pull your head off than understand you!”

“Oh shush,” Harry commanded. She frowned. Did giants speak Albanian or their own language? Either way, she didn’t know how to speak it. She gave herself a moment to breath, the giants stared at her curiously.

Harry pointed at the headless chamois in their hands. “Food! Me give you food.”

The giants looked at her in confusion. Harry sighed. She was going to have to think fast.

She cast her Patronus and as the silver stag galloped into the forest, the giants followed in awe their steps shaking they ground as they hurried towards it.

“Well that could have gone worse.” Grindelwald replied, frowning. “We better leave before they realise that wasn’t a real stag.” He grabbed her hand and dragged her away. “We shouldn’t risk apparating until your would heals. Lets get closer to the edge of the forest and set up camp for the night.”

They made it towards a clearing at the edge of the forest by nightfall, and they could see a village in the distance.

As they set up camp, Harry started a fire and opened a can of beans and some salt beef. Grindelwald conjured a pot out of a rock and cast Aguamenti. He took out what looked to be a pocket of herbs and placed it inside.

“Making a potion?” Harry asked as she added more kindling.

“Tea.” Grindelwald replied simply.

They ate their meal in silence, watching the sun set on a bright pink sky as the lights in the village started to ignite one by one. The embers of their fire were beginning to die, and the glow of their campfire was all that was keeping them warm. In the dim light, Harry thought the Dark Lord looked almost fae, ethereral and otherworldly in his appearance. The fire reflected in his eyes as he stared at it intently, and she would have given anything to know what he was thinking, what were his next plans.

He looked at their camp. “I see you didn’t pack a tent.”

“I don’t need one,” Harry replied simply, placing her blanket on the floor.

Grindelwald sighed and took off his outer jacket, transfiguring it into a basic tent. He placed two sticks to support it, and wrapped it with twine he transfigured. “Get in. And don’t make some protest over your pride, it’s going to get colder once it gets dark. Plus, I’m not keen on getting eaten by a lynx.”

Harry looked at the tent hesitantly, and heard the rustling of the woods. Nearby she could hear the screech of an unknown animal. She could sleep by herself unguarded. She was Harry Potter after all, but it would probably be safer with someone else nearby, even if that someone had tried to kill her only hours ago. Harry felt the chill of the night wind across her thin dress and shivered. Slowly, she walked up to the tent and climbed in.

“I see you had some sense after all.” He replied. He had taken off his shirt, and he was in his undershirt and pants. His outer clothes were neatly folded by the side of his makeshift bed.

Harry ducked and crawled into the tent by his side, turning her back towards him. “It is sensible to share this tent, but don’t get the wrong idea.”

“Rest assured, I can be quite the gentleman.” He replied, teasing her. He rested his hand on the shoulder of her injured arm, running his fingers over her bandage. “Do you need to change the linen?”

“I think it will be fine until morning,” Harry squeaked, unsure of this sudden change in Grindelwald’s manner.

He moved his hand up her shoulder and squeezed it, his hand running down her back while his thumb pressed into her shoulder blades, gently massaging them. “Oh come now, Harry. I’m sure we are past these formalities. You shouldn’t feel so self-concious around me. I’m sure you aren’t comfortable sleeping in that.”

“I don’t have any night clothes,” Harry replied tersely.

“You don’t need them,” he replied. Harry blushed, causing him to laugh.

“Oh you English are such prudes. However, if you chose to remain in your muddy clothes, it’s no concern of mine.”

Harry thought about it. If she kept on her dress, Grindelwald was likely to check her pockets and find the cloak. If she kept him distracted, maybe he wouldn’t have a chance.

Harry sat up and while still facing away from him, turned her head and smiled seductively. Slowly, she undid the buttons on her dress one by one. Sensually, she slid the dress off her shoulders and let it fall off of her, exposing her bare shoulders and her bra. She pulled the dress of and hastily crumpled it to the side, trying not to give it any importance as she focused her attention on the man in front of her.

He laughed. “Well, I see you’ve changed your mind.”

“I see you’ve changed yours,” Harry replied, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. She gently kissed him, squealing as he grabbed her tightly and pushed her down on the floor, kissing her passionately, his hands running down her body, pulling off her underwear.

“You intrigue me. I’m not sure what it is that made the Hallows chose you, but I’m not going to let you go. Also, I’d be remiss to say I don’t admire your beauty.” As his hands explored inside her, Harry gasped, then moaned in pleasure. He kissed her hungrily before kissing her neck, her stomach, and downward.

Harry had plenty of questions, but she couldn’t think of any of them as the evening progressed.

Chapter Text

When Harry woke up, she found herself alone in the tent. Panicking, she rushed over to her dress and checked the pockets. The cloak was still there, neatly folded as she had left it. Harry let out a sigh of relief and prepared herself for the day, sliding on her dress and a few cleaning charms. She briefly cast a contraception spell, just in case.

When she exited the tent, she saw Grindelwald pouring another cup of tea and examining the diadem. He turned to her and gave her a grin.

“Here I thought I’d have to use a Wiggenweld Potion on you if you didn’t wake up,” he greeted.

“Well if you administered it through a kiss, I wouldn’t mind,” she laughed, thinking of the magical origins behind the tale Muggles called Sleeping Beauty.

He offered her his tea, and she gingerly accepted it. It’s not like she could refuse it if it was poisoned. She took a sip. No, it was just Assam.

“Are you planning on using it?” Grindelwald asked.

“I’m not sure,” Harry replied. “Ravenclaw died subsequently after it was stolen, I wonder if there was any connection.”

“You think it could be sapping the user’s magic in exchange for wisdom? That’s an interesting theory. Though we can’t test it here, but we have the equipment back in Nurmengard.” Grindelwald stated. He tapped his wand on the diadem and watched it reverberate. “Hmm, it is absorbing the energy it’s exposed to. That’s a good start.”

“We? You’re not suggesting I go back with you?” Harry asked.

“My dear, I think we are well past the point of arguing about this. I do not stand for insubordination and it’s no longer charming,” his voice was steely and had an air of finality.

Harry’s breath was shallow, but she composed herself. “When do we leave?”

“Now.”

He extinguished the fire and with one fluid motion turned the transfigured camping materials back into rocks and twigs. The lifted his wand and pulled the tent off the ground, casting the counterspell to turn it back into his jacket, sliding the leather duster onto his arms.

He grabbed her hand and she tried to hide her pain from her injury. “When we get to the village, one of my contacts will be waiting for me. We will take a Portkey back to my castle, and you can get acquainted with the others. I’m sure Aurelius will adore you.”

“Aurelius?”

“Aurelius Dumbledore, I’m afraid he wasn’t well-known until recently, but he has made a name for himself these past few years.”

Aurelius Dumbledore? No one mentioned him before, even with the incident with Ariana. Something must have gone horribly wrong for him to never be spoken of. Harry took Grindelwald‘s hand and followed him on the cobblestone streets.

They walked down the hill and past the clearing, entering the quiet village. Normally, Harry could tell it would be bustling with activity but it was desolate. The doors and windows were tightly shut, and not a single chimney was active. It was as if every villager was hiding in their house.

Grindelwald and Harry strolled into the town square, which was picturesque- like something out of a travel brochure. The narrow white buildings with the wooden shutters looked like sentinels, merchant stalls were barren and boarded. A man in a trench coat apparated towards them and bowed.

“My Lord, we will depart shortly.” He placed a small figurine in Grindelwald’s hand, a ballet dancer, and it started to glow. The man gave a salute, evidently traveling back on his own.

Harry felt the tug of the Portkey as they tumbled onto the Persian carpet in the main sitting room of Nurmengard. The massive fireplace roaring behind them. In front of her, Harry could see the large window overlooking the Alps, next to her was a massive oak table covered in maps. Perhaps this was the war room, the inner sanctum.

“Admiring the view? It is singular in its beauty. No other residence is as high up to the summit, I’m afraid you’ll be hard pressed to find any neighbors who could withstand the mountain winds,” Grindelwald added, grinning as he casually reminded Harry she was his prisoner, not his guest.

A beautiful woman dressed in an immaculate suit strode into the room.

“Ah, Vinda! Good if you to show,” Grindelwald greeted the woman, gesturing to Harry, “This is Harry. She is one of our new recruits, I’ve personally selected her. Please let the House Elves know she will need a new room and a uniform, and perhaps a few dresses. She will be staying near my quarters.”

Vinda nodded, but her eyes narrowed as she examined the thin, disheveled girl. Harry glared back, but knew she probably did not look much of a threat. Grindelwald chuckled.

“Vinda will warm up to you soon enough if she finds you useful, and she will I’m sure of it,” he replied casually, leaving Harry with a pit of dread in her stomach.” He motioned for her to follow him.

As they made their way along the labyrinthine castle, Grindelwald made sure to note the certain steps that would lead to trap doors, and which traps meant certain death, as opposed to general maiming.

“Can’t have you die in your first week, though we should test out whether you are a Master eventually,” he shouted jovially.

Harry did not like the sound of that.

As they reached the end of a long corridor, Grindelwald took out his wand, carefully sneaking towards the door and gently knocking three times. Harry could hear the sound of screeching, or cracking wood and crumbling stone. Something was destroying the room.

“Aurelius? It’s me.” Grindelwald murmured gently from the door. Instantly, the commotion stopped and it was still on the other end of the door. With a few powerful footsteps, the door swung open, revealing a younger man with dark hair and sharp features. He glared at Grindelwald.

“Why did you leave me?” Aurelius demanded. It seems he was American, judging by the accent.

“You weren’t alone, Aurelius. You have Vinda, and Queenie,” Grindelwald replied gently, as if placating a child.

“You know I can’t stand either of them,” Aurelius mumbled. “And must you still call me Aurelius? I prefer Credence.”

“How can you reclaim your place as Aurelius Dumbledore if you can’t even bother to answer to the name?” Grindelwald snapped. “Have you been practicing communing the Phoenix?”

It seems they had forgotten Harry. She knew now would be the time to leave, but she wanted to hear this conversation.

“Yes, but he doesn’t want to come back to me. I can feel the connection with him, but he’s fickle. He comes back to me when I’m upset, but then he goes back to that man again.” Aurelius, or was it Credence, answered in frustration.

“I’m surprised Albus hasn’t found a way to keep him for good,” Grindelwald mused. He noticed Harry was still standing next to him, “Back to business, this young woman is Harry Evans, I found her in Albania, and she’s quite promising. I was thinking you could mentor her, train her while we prepare for the final stretch.” He had a gleam in his eye, and a menacing grin as he placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder, gripping it firmly. Harry winced in pain.

“You want me to babysit this girl? Isn’t that a bit beneath me as your second in command?” Credence asked peevishly.

“Consider it a refresher on your own training, Aurelius. I remember it was only sixteen years ago when you were practically untrained and I helped you control your Obscurus and hone your power. Why not return the favor to those in need?”

Credence looked at Harry doubtfully. “Have you ever attended any magic school, or had any training?” he asked.

Harry couldn’t possibly say she went to Hogwarts, there was no record of her. “No sir, I’m self-taught.” She lied.

“I figured as much,” Grindelwald interrupted, “Your spellwork was woefully inadequate, and your skill levels are inconsistent at best. No wonder you wanted to find the diadem.”

“What diadem?” asked Credence.

Grindelwald briefly filled Credence in on the events in Albania and England, he took great pride in mentioning the Stone and how close they were to their goals. Credence did not seem impressed.

“Will we be using Ravenclaw’s diadem in the upcoming battles?” Credence asked.

Grindelwald scowled. “We won’t need it, but I suppose it’s good to have some backup.” He pocketed the diadem, much to Harry’s chagrin. How was she going to steal it back?

Grindelwald turned to Credence, “I think I’ll will gather our council together and we will discuss our plans for the upcoming battles. I’m feeling bold, maybe we should try England again?”

The other man looked at him in frustration, “As if that worked last time. And you know the pact works just as much against you as it does him.”

“But there might not be a pact anymore.” Grindelwald replied in excitement. Credence’s brows furrowed in confusion, but Grindelwald did not elaborate instead he gave a nod goodbye, and told Harry to be a good girl, whatever that meant. Tosser.

“Why would he want to try England again? Last time was a disaster, even on the Nomaj side,” Credence muttered.

Harry knew Grindelwald probably just wanted to face Dumbledore again, but she wasn’t sure about the last part.

“What was he talking about, with the pact?” Harry asked.

Credence glowered at her. “That is strictly confidential, and cannot be uttered to anyone else outside of this room. To be honest, I don’t think you were supposed to hear that.”

“Grindelwald’s not the type to be careless with information, he wanted me to hear about it, or else he would have incapacitated me.” Harry deduced.

Credence didn’t bother arguing with her, deciding to change the subject. “Let’s get this over with. For the record, I think it’s a terrible idea, but I’m not going to have Gellert think I shirked my responsibilities to you by not teaching you. Get out your wand, let’s duel.”

He led Harry into his room which was sparse compared to the rest of the opulent castle. A four-poster bed, a chair, a book shelf and a desk. No pictures, no windows. It was evident all the furniture had been destroyed and repaired multiple times.

Credence didn’t give much of a warning before he started his attack. It seemed he enjoyed pelting Harry with spells. As Harry dodged, she had to give him credit, he was using a variety of types of spells- not just Dark curses, but jinxes, hexes, and even a few creative uses of Transfiguration and Conjuring. As Harry dodged a floating wave of needles, a sentient desk walking around trying to bludgeon her (suddenly transforming into a hungry tiger), and that familiar Purple spell she had seen Dolohov use on Hermione at the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. Likewise, Harry turned the needles into feathers, conjured the tiger back into a desk, and cast the familiar Avis to send birds to attack him. Casually, Credence sent a nonverbal spell, and the birds fell to the ground, dead.

“Not bad for a start, but I see you were reluctant to use Dark magic.” Credence observed.

“I don’t see the point in it when it comes to dueling. One can win without it.” Harry replied flippantly.

Credence frowned. “A bit late for that, isn’t it? You can’t refuse Dark Magic while throwing yourself at the Dark Lord.”

“And what do you mean by that?” Harry snapped.

“Oh don’t try to be coy with me. I know Gellert likes to collect pretty young things,” Credence laughed bitterly. “I bet you think you have the upper hand, don’t you? Getting him into bed. He's done that before with all of us, eventually he does get bored with that. But let's see why you're really here.”

Harry saw flashes from the night before, and knew that he was trying to use Legimency on her. She tried to block it, but even after her pitiful lessons, her Occulmency hadn’t improved. The most she could do was slightly push back, try to protect herself as he saw flashes of her life. Incoherent images.
Going backwards, first Albania, then the Guants. Flashes of her time with the Riddles, working on the farm, then further back to the Red Cross, the Ministry, and then the Final Battle.
Harry tried to block him from her mind, but she could only do so much, and it seems he was not sure what he wanted to see, using brute force to pry his way into her mind. Harry screamed. Under no circumstances could she let him know about that, who knows what ramifications it could have.

He saw her die, he saw her loved ones die. It was like living it all over again.

“Neville, kill the snake.”

Harry relived the moment when Voldemort’s last horcrux was destroyed, and felt her concious snap back, reeling from the sudden and violent disconnection.

Credence shook in horror, leaning against the stone wall and sliding down to the floor, curling himself into a ball. “Nagini…” he whispered. He tightly closed his eyes as tears ran down his face. Quickly, he wiped them and aggressively pointed his wand at Harry, casting a Body Bind.

“Why? Why would you kill her?” He demanded.

Harry looked at him angrily, he didn’t understand and couldn’t understand the sacrifices she went through. And she couldn’t tell Grindelwald she was from the future. She’d already changed too much.

“As you saw, I didn’t. Anyway, it was for the best. The state she was in wasn’t a peaceful exisistence. She was a host for a horcrux for a Dark wizard.” Harry answered venomously.

“That’s impossible. No living being could be a horcrux,” Credence replied angrily.

“I was one for sixteen years, it’s possible, but certainly not ideal,” Harry muttered wryly.

Credence’s hand wavered as he kept his wand pointed at her. They silently stared at each other for a moment, until he let out a sob and destroyed the bedpost – the canopy falling on top of her. Luckily, it missed, but Harry could see the dark specter forming. Still in a Body Bind, Harry was helpless as it destroyed the room – breaking the bed, wood splintering, feathers flying in the air. Harry wanted to scream as pieces of wood embedded in her skin, but she could not.

She could feel the destructive specter on her, ready to strike. Its dark energy hot and oppressive, a pure force of rage. Its black tendrils reaching her, ready to touch her.
As suddenly as it emerged, the black cloud retreated, moving back into Credence. He held his hands to his temples, the specter moving back inside his body. When it disappeared, he curled back into a ball, shaking. He took a few deep breaths, eyes closed. He stood up and undid Harry’s Body Bind, examining her for injuries. Harry moved her stiff limbs, trying to bring back their circulation.

“Nothing permanent, unfortunately,” he said tartly.

“What was that?” Harry asked, barely masking her terror

“That,” Credence replied as he cast healing charms for her cuts, “Is an Obscurus. Mine specifically. They happen to wizards and witches who have to repress their magic, hide who they are. Their magic can be manifested as a physical force and destroy anything it sees as a threat, in this case, you. You know, I haven’t had an episode in years and I have two in one day, what are the odds?”

He waved his wand and the splinters pulled themselves out of Harry, she bit her lip as she tried not to scream in pain. Credence seemed to grudgingly respect that. He helped her down onto the stone floor and they sat side by side, catching their breath.

“My aunt and uncle hated magic,” Harry replied. “They’d call me a freak and punish me when mine would manifest accidentally, I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like having to hide it.”

Credence paused and tried to hide his look of sympathy towards her. “Beatings?”

“Nothing too severe, my aunt once tried to hit a frying pan at my head,” Harry said dryly. “Mostly it was going to my cupboard without supper.”

“Cupboard?”

“I slept in a cupboard under the stairs until I was eleven.”

Credence laughed. “You’re joking.”

“I wish I was,” Harry replied sadly. She really didn’t want to talk about her past, and it seemed he didn’t want to either.

“So you can control it?” Harry asked. She remembered Ariana Dumbledore, and the ill-fated accident. Is that why Grindelwald wanted him, because of his past? And what about the Phoenix?

“Partially. Even after all this time it’s still difficult. Gellert has trained me in Occulmency, but that isn’t one of his stronger skills. Queenie helps me, but since she’s a natural Legimens its hard for her to explain how she does it. I guess it would be like explaining how to breathe.” Credence explained. “I guess you’ll meet Queenie later, she’s…different. Nice enough I guess. Not sure how she ended up with us, doesn’t really fit the mold. Did you know she’s in love with a Nomaj?”

“Nomaj? Is that a Muggle?” Harry asked.

He nodded. “You do have a lot to learn,” he replied sympathetically, patting her shoulder. Harry didn’t like that she was being condescended for not knowing what she assumed was an American term, but would take it over attempted murder. “It was all pretty new to me when I started too. I must have been around your age when Gellert told me I was a wizard.”

“Grindelwald told you that you were a wizard?” Harry asked skeptically.

Credence shrugged. “He found me, he found you. Gellert tends to find lost souls.” He was lost in thought, and Harry was about to interrupt when he grabbed her hand. “Did you know Nagini well, before she died?”

“Not that well. I’d once had a dream where we were connected, for a time I saw through her eyes, lived as her when she attacked the father of my best friend. He almost died. I hated it.” Harry replied bitterly.

Credence frowned. “Nagini doesn’t like to kill if she can help it. Did this man provoke her?”

“No, he was fighting against the wizard who used her as a Horcrux. That wizard ordered her to kill him. I guess that is how I was able to briefly see through her perspective, because of our shared bond.” Harry concluded. Now that she had time, for once, she could see the connections.

“That bastard,” Credence growled. “To make her do that, to force her into something so awful. Nagini loved her freedom more than anything else, I can’t imagine how it must have been for her to have to be an assassin for this…worm.”

“Well, I’d say she was more of a familiar, they were close,” Harry added reassuringly. Harry didn’t want to tell him about how she would eat Voldemort’s victims. It seemed too much even for her.

“Familiar? Did she even turn into her human form when you knew her?” Credence asked.

Harry paled. “Nagini was human?” she asked. Had she asked Neville to murder a person?

“Probably not by the point you knew her then. She was a maladictus. It’s a blood curse that turns a witch into an animal over time. But if you knew her as a snake, that means her permanent transformation has happened.”

He banged his head against the wall. “I thought I could find a cure, that I could get a chance to say goodbye.”

Harry wavered. Should she?

“It’s still not too late. There’s time.” Harry replied slowly, allowing the words to roll off her tongue.

“But I saw, in your mind…”

“It hasn’t happened yet. Not for a long while off.” Harry answered.

“How?”

“I’m from the future.”