Albus Dumbledore could have been the craftiest wizard in the whole of Great Britain, if he wasn't being modest himself. He could have calculated every move & devised his plan like a clockwork.
Newt Scamander's Niffler bringing the Blood Pact's Vial to him, however, was not what he could have predicted.
The snoring Niffler on Newt's lap had yet to stir. Newt himself held on, evidently quiet & already retreating into the armchair in his office. Dumbledore knew that he was simply biding his time.
His thumb brushed through the etched words on the Vial—it was a new embellishment, carved in a precise flourish by Gellert Grindelwald himself.
Non est factum
"No." He declared. "I was once handicapped, Newt. But now, thanks to you," The Vial hovered above in languid twirls. "I stand a chance."
Despite a journey across the sea, familiar whiffs of his magic lingered still, permeating the air between them.
It felt comforting, welcoming even.
The flask of clear liquid bore an ominous glint in the moonlit room.
Here he was, in the Room of Requirement, yet another clandestine experiment for his crippled move against Grindelwald.
"Cheers." He downed it in one gulp.
Many claimed that Veritaserum tasted like it looked, almost indistinguishable from water. 'Almost' being the keyword—everything came afterwards would have made one regret for thinking so.
When the hell-blaze of untold truths had seared its ways down to his oesophagus, Dumbledore nearly retched—the dosage he took was thrice the recommended dosage for adult consumption. Everything became a dilated, burnt-out mess.
All the long hours of tinkering, examining... He thought he would already knew what he would see in the Mirror of Erised.
Except for this time, the Dark Wizard was behind him, no longer the young boy that made his way into his sleepless nights. Bespoke wears, polished fineries. He was charisma and power packaged in a collection of sharp edges.
Grindelwald's lips grazed his ear as he spoke.
"What is it that you seek for, Albus?"
Veritaserum gave him focus, pinpoint accuracy on unspeakable desires.
He did not relent.
"You." He choked back. "I want to go against you."
A satisfied hum. "Is that so?"
He willed himself to look into the mirror, square in the eyes. "No one deserves to go against you, besides me."
Grindelwald's deft fingers had already unbuttoned his suit and found their way to the Vial. Left, like how he had worn it.
He felt his breath hitched. "I need it to be safe, hidden away." Too real. "From the Ministry, from MACUSA, from your damned Army."
"Yes, from you, especially." He said. "Until I can destroy it."
In the mirror, Grindelwald's eyes softened, a glimpse of the young boy leaked through his hardened features. "You will fight me head-on, then."
Their promise already lying in his palm, silver and ivory under the moonlight.
He was devoid of control, his compulsions unrestrained.
Dumbledore would allow himself to stay true, for once.
"If you are destined to fall, let me be your downfall."
He felt the weight nestled in his pocket diminishing, then disappeared.
Non est factum
"It is not my deed." Dumbledore whispered. "You wish it hadn't happened, had you?"
His Gellert smiled, an upward curve of a scimitar.
"I wish it hadn't happened."