|SIYE Time:7:14 on 21st May 2018|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: When the Weasley wedding is attacked, Harry grabs the first hand that comes to mind - Ginny's. They find Voldemort has hidden his Horcruxes in plain sight out of some of Muggle history's most important artifacts. Now the pair go across the continent, risking capture by both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, to end the war.
Hitcount: Story Total: 29669; Chapter Total: 1662
Awards: View Trophy Room
Matilda leaned with her elbows onto the gleaming wooden surface. "The question is vat could Harry Potter possibly have to learn from Gellert Grindelwald. Unless you're here to kill him, in vich you would have no shortage of help vere you to ask."
"No, I'm going to kill Lord Voldemort," Harry responded, stone-faced. "But Grindelwald might have a solution to why Voldemort stays alive. We've figured out a lot of it, but there's still one piece."
"And vat makes you think Grindelwald will help you?"
"We have to try," Ginny resolved.
"Besides, if Dumbledore still came to visit him after all these years, all that anger and destruction, there has to be something still worth talking to," Harry added, more to himself than anyone else.
Matilda grimaced, but nodded. "But before I tell you vat I know — vich is not much — I vant you to hear vat that man really is. Then you can decide whether to call on him.
"Ve're in this place because of Gellert Grindelwald, but I'm sure Klaus already told you that. But he doesn't really know why. Grindelwald believed that magical people vere a… how you say?... evolution from Muggles, and that ve should take our rightful place as masters of this vorld. No more hiding. No more pretending. Many people vere attracted to that basic idea — including a young, naïve Matilda Strauss.
"But as more people believed in the idea, they also believed in him. He used that to his advantage. He vas a powerful vizard, but it vasn't his skills that gave him power. It vas his ability to pollute other people."
"Sounds familiar," Ginny said ruefully.
"Yes, but Voldemort dueled Dumbledore to a draw in the Ministry, remember?"
"So did you, in the graveyard," Ginny grinned. Harry shrugged.
"So, while the Muggles vere having the greatest var they've ever fought, Grindelwald took the opportunity to attack," Matilda continued. "Some say he vas even working with the German Muggle leader, perhaps the most evil man to ever live. They had… common interests. So ven the var ended, Germany lost and the country vas in ruins. Millions of people died. And everyone remembered seeing Grindelwald's vizards aiding the evil Muggles, rounding up and torturing others, so they blamed us as vell. All of us.
"Many vitches and vizards moved away. Some vent into hiding. The ones that could not leave, or did not vant to, vere moved here. As you can tell, they are still frightened of us. They need the valls and the guards to feel safe." Matilda's eyes were starting to dampen.
"Why haven't the other countries done anything?" Ginny asked.
"That is a question for your Ministry now, is it not?"
"I don't think you'll be getting anything from our Ministry anytime soon," Harry said. "Which is why you need to help us. Things wold be even worse when Voldemort takes more and more power. Britain won't be enough for him."
"I know, Herr Potter. I just vant you to know everything. I promised Dumbledore. He alvays vanted to protect you."
"Yeah, that was a bad habit of his," said Harry through narrowed eyes.
Matilda laughed. "One day, you vill grow to understand. Hopefully it is not ven you are as old as I am."
"Thank you, Matilda," Ginny said as she reached over to pat her on the shoulder.
The old woman clapped her hands together, shaking off the tension in the air. "Right. This is all I know, and it could be nothing. There is a… vat you call them?... house-elf! Yes. It comes once a veek to the grocer down the road, Maurice. Apparates. Gets some food. Same every veek. Then leaves. Doesn't say anything. But it's more food than a house-elf needs."
Ginny turned to Harry. "Grindelwald has to eat, right?"
He nodded. "And not even he can conjure food. So what day does the house-elf come to the grocer?"
"You're in luck, my friends. It should be there tomorrow. And, as you can see, I don't get many customers. I have two rooms available. Unless one vill do…"
Ginny thought back to her father's risk in letting them go this morning and felt that she should show some gratitude with modesty — for once. "Two will be fine," she responded, not terribly successful in wiping the disappointment from her voice. She couldn't help but notice that Harry waited for her response.
Matilda told Harry and Ginny that dinner would be served at 6:30 and to spend some time exploring the town. She couldn't help but smile when she came to the word "exploring", knowing there was very little to explore within the walls. They shook hands with Klaus and thanked him for his help. He wished them luck, jumped back into his taxi, and headed for the gate.
"So, what should we do?" Harry asked Ginny as they exited the front door.
She turned to him, her mouth twisted at the corner. "I have a really crazy idea."
"You know those kids we saw when we were coming in?" Harry nodded. "What about an impromptu session of Dumbledore's Army? With some new recruits?"
Harry beamed at her. "That's a fantastic idea! What should we teach them?"
"I don't know, professor," she replied through a grin. "They looked young, like they would be first-years. Something simple."
Ginny pouted. "I'll have you know, Herr Potter, that the bat-bogey hex is not simple. I haven't seen you do one yet."
He laughed. "No one's taught it to me."
"And no one will. I don't want it used against me."
They walked down the dusty sidewalk toward the gate, where the kids were still playing football in the distance. A chill was in the air that Harry and Ginny didn't remember from before. A mist wafted in from the nearby mountains, making the village seem to glow in spite of its condition. After some time with his hands in his pockets, Harry reached for Ginny's hand. Not because they were in danger and needed to run. Just because. She willed herself to keep her breathing leveled.
They came up to the group of children, three boys and a girl. The girl was taller and looked slightly older than the others. They all had blond, shaggy hair, blue eyes, and were red-faced from their game. Harry let go of Ginny's hand and made a woeful attempt to kick the ball when it went astray, only knocking it further down the road. They walked up to the group with Harry's shoulders sagging and Ginny shaking her head.
"I'm sorry about that. I'll get it." Harry pulled out his wand and pointed it down the road. "Accio football!" he called. The ball flew back towards him and bounced once. Ginny caught it with one hand.
"Just like a quaffle," she said with a wink. The three younger kids were still looking from where the ball was to where it came and back again with their eyes wide. The smallest pulled on the girl's robes and whispered something to her in German.
"He vants to know how you did that," she reported to Harry and Ginny.
Harry smiled at him. "Tell him that it's a very useful spell but it takes a lot of practice. If you like, we can teach you some others." The boy translated for the others and they all nodded with smiles on their faces.
"Well, I'm Harry and this is Ginny. We go — went — to a wizarding school in Britain called Hogwarts."
The girl smiled. "My name is Helene, and these are Hans, Michael, and Martin," she said as she put her hand on each head. "Martin is my brother and the others are cousins."
"It's nice to meet you all," Ginny said with a smile. "Do you have your wands with you?"
Helene pulled hers out but the others just shrugged. "Ve only have this one. Ve share it."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other with the same thought: when they get back, some Black family money will be going to Ollivander's Wand Shop. Anonymously, of course.
Harry rubbed his hands together. "Alright, what can you guys do?"
Helene looked down at the ground. "Ve're all pretty good with Lumos. I can do Levitation. That's about it," she mumbled.
"That's a great start!" Ginny exclaimed. "Those are some of the spells they taught us in our first year. Then we got older and we figured we needed to be able to protect ourselves, so Harry started a club to learn some other spells."
"Ginny helped," Harry was quick to point out.
"Anyway," Ginny turned to Harry with an eyebrow raised, "I'm thinking Protego and Expelliarmus? They're the first ones you taught us."
Harry nodded. "Let us show you how they work, then we can get into the incantations and wand movements." Helene relayed all this to the boys, who nodded.
Harry and Ginny stepped away from each other.
"Ready?" Harry called. Ginny nodded.
Ginny's wand flew out of her hand. She Summoned it back to her while the children applauded Harry's triumph.
"Try it again, Boy Who Lived!" Ginny called.
He called the spell again. This time, Ginny met it with Protego. The spell rebounded off the invisible shield and hit Harry's own wand, sending it spinning to the ground.
Starting with Helene, Harry brought each child aside and helped to guide their wand movements for Expelliarmus while Ginny served as a replacement for the dummies they used in the Room of Requirement during DA meetings. It only took about five tries for each student to send Ginny's wand flying away.
"A lot better than Neville!" Ginny called.
"Neville's doing just fine these days."
Then they switched roles, with Ginny trying to disarm Helene and the others while they tried to hold the Shielding Charm with Harry's guidance. That turned out to be much more of a challenge for the children and they were starting to become discouraged. Harry read their mood and Ginny came back to join them.
"You guys are doing great. Don't get yourselves down. Ginny is a very powerful witch with years of training. If you keep working on these, you can be just as good as her. Once you've mastered these, maybe we'll send you some others to try."
"Like what?" Helene asked.
"Oh. Well, there's lots. Hundreds…"
"No, I mean, can you show us? Ve can see vat magic is really like?"
Ginny turned to Harry with a mischievous grin. "We've never dueled, have we? You were always too busy teaching."
"No, we haven't. Do you think that's a good idea?" Right then, Harry realized he had said the wrong thing. Ginny turned on her heel, walked ten paces, and turned back.
"Fantastic," Harry muttered to himself.
He straightened toward Ginny and bowed. She curtsied condescendingly. The duel started as the class had, with disarming charms versus shields alternating between the combatants before Ginny threw a Stunner into Harry's already-weakened shield, knocking him to the ground. He spun out just before another red bolt slammed into the pavement.
Now the geometry had changed and Harry had a better angle, shooting multiple flashes of light at Ginny. It was her natural athletic ability and considerable speed that helped her dodge Harry's onslaught without even raising a shield.
"Reducto!" Ginny called, breaking the window of an abandoned shop and making Harry dive away from his superior defensive position. The children screamed. Ginny was momentarily distracted, enough to be hit with a Tickling Hex from Harry. She writhed in the middle of the street, uncontrollably laughing and using every swear word her brothers had ever taught her at the same time. Harry walked over to her with his hands up, called "Finite", and helped her to her feet. Her scowl could probably be felt all the way back in Britain. He sensed what would calm her down and took her hand again.
"You know, Voldemort doesn't usually use the Tickling Hex." Harry's observation was met with more swearing, some of which he reminded himself to ask her to explain later. He kissed Ginny on the top of the head. "Come on. Let's show them Reparo and get ready for supper."
When they returned, Harry helped Matilda prepare a simple but tasty meal of roast beef, potatoes, and a bottle of wine while Ginny cleaned herself up. She came down in pajamas and wet hair and still seemed a bit sullen all through dinner. Once the conversation inevitably turned to Voldemort and Grindelwald Matilda quickly excused herself, explaining that she needed to be up early to prepare for the breakfast rush. Harry and Ginny both assured her they would clean up dinner, but neither made a move toward the kitchen sink. She found herself staring at the single flame burning from the candlestick in the middle of the table. Harry studied her, finding himself firmly in the grey zone of their relationship — whatever that relationship may be.
"I'm sorry about the duel," he started softly. "But you would've been even more upset with me if I took it easy on you. I know you."
Ginny took a sharp inhale. "I'm not upset about the duel. Well, sort of. I'm not upset with you about it. I thought I did pretty wELL against the most powerful wizard in Britain."
"You were brilliant! I hadn't seen you fight since the Department of Mysteries. You've really changed. Grown up."
"I thought you noticed that a bit last year," she said with a grin. Harry turned red. "But no. I'm upset with myself for getting distracted. I could've held out longer but the kids screaming took my attention away. I can't let that happen again. You're right; Voldemort won't tickle."
Harry picked himself up, moved to the seat next to Ginny, and took her hand.
"You want to know something? I worry about the same thing in myself. I get distracted by you all the time. It's usually a good distraction. Very good, in fact. But at the wrong time, with the wrong person, it could be trouble."
"And you don't think that would've happened if Ron and Hermione were with you now?"
"It's not the same." They locked eyes for what seemed like hours before Harry broke the connection.
Ginny looked down at their clasped hands. "So we practice. Whenever we can. If we can get used to working together, I become less of a distraction during a battle. You wouldn't have to worry about me."
"I'll always worry about you." Ginny nodded and squeezed his hand.
They stared off into space for a while, trying to sort whatever was going on in the room. The silence became too awkward.
"Are you nervous about tomorrow?" Ginny asked.
Harry looked her in the eye again. "We don't even know what will happen. Could be a wild goose chase."
"Do you really believe that?" Harry wrenched his lips and shook his head. "What's he like now? Grindelwald, I mean. The books didn't say much in History of Magic."
"I talked to your Aunt Muriel and Elphias Doge a bit about those times at the wedding. Dumbledore's early life."
"I'm sorry if she said something offensive. Never mind. I'm sure she did."
Harry laughed. "She wasn't that bad. Remember, I was Cousin Barney from your dad's side of the family. Anyway, Grindelwald and Dumbledore were a lot closer than people realized. So when they had their split and then their duel, in a way they both lost. It sounded as if they expect Grindelwald to be a bitter, broken man locked up in his own prison with his former best friend the only one with the key."
Ginny nodded. "And that's who you hope we meet."
"Yeah. I think that version is a lot easier to talk to than the powerful dark wizard who wants one more fight with the Chosen One. But we have to be prepared for that, too. And I can't get over the fact that Dumbledore kept visiting him." Harry started rubbing his temples.
"Me neither. Was it just Dumbledore always seeing the good in people? What if Dumbledore sought him out for advice, like we are? They had to have talked about you. Grindelwald is probably even expecting you."
Harry sighed. "You're right. Even more reason why we need to be on our guard."
Ginny raised herself from her chair with a groan. "I guess I'll get started on the clearing up."
"Oh, don't worry about it, Gin. I'll get it. I'm going to stay up a little longer and read some more of the book. I want to at least seem like I know what I'm talking about tomorrow."
"You sure?" He waved her off. She circled back around and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Thank you," she whispered, then kissed him on the cheek, letting it linger just long enough not to be misconstrued.
"And, you know, if you want to tickle me all you have to do is ask," she told him with a breathy giggle before padding up the stairs.
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