…Are Dust

The copper links gleamed across his knuckles in the rising sun, cutting into his fingers. 

It’s just pain. Part of the price. Harry tore his gaze away and stared out the kitchen window into the garden. 

‘Ready, Mon Amour?’ Fleur’s soft, warm fingers cupped his cheek, her arm resting on his shoulder.

He nodded. ‘I would ask you to come with—’

A soft tense laugh escaped her as she drew him around to face her. ‘You would only ask because you know I cannot.’ Fleur’s blue irises darkened a few hues. ‘You have to come back with that phoenix, mon Coeur. You cannot not come back again.’ Her heart shone in her eyes, huge and bright and soft, like the full moon hovering above the orchard blossom. ‘S’il te plaît.’

‘Whatever it takes,’ Harry murmured, slipping the copper necklace over his head. ‘Grindelwald is bound by his oath until I have the phoenix and he has his ritual. I’ll be careful.’

‘À bientôt.’ Fleur’s fingers fell away and she drew back.

‘For the Greater Good,’ he whispered.

But mostly for Katie. 

The kitchen vanished in a flash of golden flame and Harry dropped onto a smooth marble floor before a plain wooden desk and chair.

‘Willkommen.’ Grindelwald stood on the far side of the small room, staring out through the black iron bars of a window as tall as the Mirror of Erised, his arms folded behind his back. ‘This small turret was my prison for many years. A comfortable cage, I would say, but a cage nonetheless. And both bars and solitude wear at the soul like a file.’

‘But it’s not exactly Azkaban or Château d’Acier.’ Harry glanced around. ‘Far from it.’

Dark wooden shelves filled with multi-coloured leather-bound books rose up the walls from the grey marble on clawed lions’ feet to the narrow, tapering spire of the turret above. Thick, bright tapestries of cavorting magical creatures and a floating city of thin red-bricked towers hung either side of a small bed.

A shoe scraped the marble.

‘We need more than just bread and books to live.’ Grindelwald turned from the window. ‘I confess, though, I have always had a deep fondness for books, even after I left my old dreams behind and put down my pen for the wand. Much of Nurmengard once looked like this, but after I was defeated, this last room was all I was left. My collection of books was sold off across the world.’ A faint sad smile flitted across his face. ‘Such is the price of failure, I suppose.’

‘Do you have the phoenix?’ Harry asked.

‘Behind the tapestry of Constantinople.’ Grindelwald’s blue eyes flicked to the floating city upon the tapestry. ‘There is an alcove.’ He raised his left hand, spreading his fingers. ‘If I may?’

Harry nodded.

‘Danke.’ Grindelwald dipped his right hand inside his sharp, grey jacket, drawing his long thin wand out and flicking it at the tapestry. 

It folded up, baring smooth stone. 

‘A secret alcove…’

A flash of humour shone in Grindelwald’s blue eyes. ‘A secret alcove. It would be best, I thought, for our deal to remain known only to the two of us even after we part ways.’

‘Works for me,’ Harry said.

The stone melted back.

Fawkes sat in the small hollow in the wall caught in a cage of gleaming copper wires, his head buried beneath his crimson wings. 

Harry’s breath caught. The phoenix. Wordless yearning bubbled in his breast, swelling into a hot lump at the back of his throat. See, baby bird. See. You’re going to be just fine.

A low mournful note rose from Fawkes as he poked his head out from under his wing; a dark eye fixed on Harry and he let out a low hiss.

Still not forgiven, Fawkes? I suppose that’s fair. 

‘Will the magic last?’ Harry eyed the copper threads of Fawkes’s cage. ‘I’m not going to hand over this ritual design and it’s going to fall apart and let the phoenix flash off?’

‘Nein.’ Grindelwald gestured at the cage with his wand. ‘Bitte. By all means do check for yourself, Violette. I am not offended by your caution. I will check the design of this ritual too, of course.’

Harry strode across the marble floor, touching the tip of his wand to the threads and closing his eyes. Grindelwald’s magic thrummed through it like a heartbeat, washing along the wire in twisting, shifting ripples and bouncing back. 

I have no idea what that magic does, but it’s flowing all around this ball of copper threads and not going anywhere. He lifted the small glass marble from his pocket and stepped forward, placing it on the desk. 

‘Ingenious.’ Grindelwald lifted it up to the light between his finger and thumb. ‘Would you be so kind as to open it for me?’

Harry slid his wand from his sleeve and vanished the glass, flicking the runes up into a spinning pyramid of purple glyphs. ‘You will have to go over the design with your own magic,’ he said. ‘You don’t want my magic in your ritual.’ He gestured at the design. ‘And if there are any runes that have a slightly different association to you or feel strange in meaning, you should tweak them, too. It’s your interpretation of them that determines the ritual’s meaning.’

Grindelwald studied the structure with sharp blue eyes. ‘This is a most fascinating application of magic. Transmutation. Arithmantic and runic theory. Sacrificial loci. Blood magic mediums. All interwoven into one. Where did you learn such a thing, I wonder? I have not seen its like.’

‘I don’t think we have time for that,’ Harry replied, lifting Fawkes’s cage from the alcove.

‘Perhaps another time.’ Grindelwald swept the runes up into the turret’s spire. ‘I will have some to spare, I hope. For all the lessons I learnt here in this small room, I will leave behind to shed its lingering effect.’

‘That may well work.’

And if you forget your mistakes, you might repeat them. 

‘I see the gleam of hope in your eye, Violette.’ Grindelwald’s small sad smile hovered on his lips. ‘Do not trust to it. This bargain we made has run its course.’ His thin wand swept up to point at Harry’s heart. ‘My name has long been condemned to the list of those few evildoers who in the end worked naught but greater good. I wrote it there myself. And with the same hand and purpose, I must strike you from the page and invite into this place Death, that never quite welcome guest.’

Harry hardened his heart against the trickle of fear. ‘The last enemy.’

‘It is in our nature to fade to dust, Henri Dufort.’ A bright spark swelled at the tip of Grindelwald’s wand, curling into a lick of golden flame. ‘And if we could truly overcome our nature, none of that which I have done would need to have been done at all.’

Harry cupped the acorn pendant against his chest. ‘Argent.’

The bookshelves and tapestries hung still and stern as the grey marble floor. 

‘None can pass in or out of this room but by my own hand,’ Grindelwald said. ‘It is the only room in the world that could hold me even without a wand. Albus knew it well when he convinced me to imprison myself here rather than leave him to face the world alone.’

‘Then I guess I’ll just have to beat you and convince you to let me out.’ Fear churned in the pit of Harry’s stomach, a tight, taut writhing mass of ice cold coils. ‘I will not be stopped. It can’t happen.’ Desperate need burnt the fear free, seared everything away and sharpened his focus to a burning, screaming razor’s edge. ‘Dumbledore defeated you. I’ll do it again.’

‘But you are not he.’ The tiny amber fire dancing in the air at the tip of Grindelwald’s wand sank to the floor, spreading into a pool of flickering flames. ‘You are not Albus, my truest friend, whom I loved too dear to change even a little.’

Harry watched the golden fire eat through the bubble in eerie silence and flexed clammy fingers on his wand. ‘Fiendfyre? I thought hate was poison?’

‘I cannot cast that magic,’ Grindelwald said, glancing at the growing flames. ‘Nor any like it. I will not corrode my soul with its careless ruin. I bring change. To all and anything that must be changed to save our world of wonders from its death.’

He’s waiting for that fire to grow. Harry dragged his magic forth into a swirl of bright white sparks at the tip of his wand. And I’m probably not going to like it when it gets bigger.

Amber flames crept across the marble, consuming the chair behind the desk.

‘Fulminis,’ he whispered, squeezing his eyes shut. 

A fierce white flash stabbed through Harry’s eyelids; he re-opened them, sweeping the beam of lightning across the room. Bookshelves burst into splinters and showers of parchment scraps as he lashed it at the shadow of Grindelwald beyond the golden fire.

The amber flames swallowed it, dragging the crackling white arcs down into their midst, and swelled higher, rushing along the bright beam of lightning toward his wand.


Harry ripped his wand loose from the lightning and reached for the storm, the swirling, searing fury that burnt at the memory of those black veins sinking into Katie’s skin, and poured it forth, hurling a torrent of whispering crimson Fiendfyre at the golden fire. 

The hungry red tongues flooded over Grindelwald’s magic, but floundered, drowning in the bright amber glow of the fire and bleeding away as it spread over the marble floor. Scraps of parchment glowed and curled to ashes in the air above.

‘That which issues from the heart alone, will bend the hearts of others to your own…’ Grindelwald’s small smile returned, soft sadness beneath the sharp shadows in his blue eyes. ‘Ironic, I think, that it was seeking understanding of our foes in the muggle world which led me to the key to my endeavours.’ He flourished his wand above his head. ‘No matter what magic you seek to work, my will to change it is absolute. And nothing can defy the immutable law of change.’

A figure of bright amber flame rose from the golden fire, curling together from the flickering tongues; it burnt through the desk in a single step, searing it to dust and glowing embers as Grindelwald’s bright magic whirled into it.

‘Nothing lasts forever,’ Harry murmured, circling around the figure until his back hit the cold glass and iron bars of the window; he pressed the tip of his wand to it, but his magic washed back from it like water off rock.

Merde. He swallowed a stab of panic. But if nothing can defy the immutable law of change, then there is still one way out. 

The amber figure strode forward, trailing wisps of golden flame and a cape of smoke and embers. 

‘I do wish you had chosen to join us.’ Grindelwald stared up at the runes hovering in the spire. ‘We might have worked wonders together, you and I. Or, if nothing else, we may have managed what must be done a little more easily than I can achieve alone. But I have been warned not to take any risks with you, Violette.’

‘No risks is usually a good idea.’ Harry thrust out his hand, summoning the figure of flame toward him, and dived to his right, rolling to his knees. 

The golden fire splashed against the window, melting through it like boiling water through frost as the amber silhouette flowed back together and twisted to face him. He poured his magic into the air and leapt, catching his weight as he fell toward the distant forests of the mountainside below and sweeping himself toward a snow-crusted spur of rock.

Harry slammed into the cold snow, smashing the breath from his lungs. Time to go. He tightened his grasp on Fawkes’s cage and cupped the acorn pendant in his other hand. 

Fierce heat burst across his chest, searing his skin. 

Harry clawed the copper necklace off as it burst into golden flames, hurling it away and ripping the burning pieces of his robes free. 

Amber flames ate through the acorn pendant and into his wedding band; the soft silver glow wavered out as it melted away at the end of the slim chain. 

A sharp pain lanced through Harry’s heart as he ripped the glass orb of runes off and tucked it into his pocket. It will shine every moment I love you. Fleur’s words twisted like a knife between his ribs as he let the last piece of chain fall, watching it melt away into golden fire as it plummeted off the mountainside. Forever.

He wrenched at the wards, crushing them down and stepping onto the white pebbles before the veiled Mirror of Erised. Heat washed across his thumbnail.

‘Mon Amour.’ Fleur seized him in a tight embrace.

‘Almost there.’ Harry stuck Fawkes’s cage to the mirror and stared down at the weeping pink burns on his chest as the stinging, stabbing pain swelled. ‘But it came at a price.’

She tugged him around, her eyes darkening as she watched the burns close and fade to faint pink marks. ‘Your necklace…’

‘My ring,’ he whispered. ‘The one you gave me.’

Fleur cupped his cheek. ‘Katie first, mon Coeur.’ She lifted her necklace over her head and hung it on the willow tree. ‘So mine stays safe. It has your blood in it.’

Harry watched the ring sway against the willow bark. ‘I’m sorry,’ he murmured. ‘I should’ve left it here. Kept it safe. It’s just… I wanted to have a piece of you with me—’ he glanced away from her dark eyes ‘—even when I had to be away.’

She drew his face back to hers and rested her forehead on his, brushing the tip of her nose against his own. ‘It was meant for you to have always. So you could see it glowing whenever you began to fret or panic or fear and know that you were still mine and I was still yours.’ Fleur stared into his eyes, her irises softening back to blue. ‘It is a very small price to pay for the phoenix, mon Amour.’

‘Je sais,’ he whispered. ‘Je sais.’

But it still hurts. 

She pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. ‘The more it hurts to get…’

Harry took a deep breath and straightened up, sweeping the black silk back off the mirror. Fawkes let out a soft, sad trill, poking his neck through the copper wires to smear clear tears against the silver surface.

They trickled down the surface, winding past Katie’s outstretched arms and wiggling fingers, lingering where the striped socks hung off her feet.

‘It won’t work,’ he murmured, pressing his fingertips into the cold glass before his daughter’s beaming face. ‘Even if I take her out, Gabby’s magic won’t let your tears heal Katie. I’m sorry, but that’s not why we needed you here.’

Fawkes drew back and tucked his head under his wing.

Harry swept the tears off the mirror and trapped them in a conjured glass vial. ‘There. Just in case.’

Fleur took the vial, conjuring a small metal hook on the top of it and threading it onto the necklace hanging on the willow trunk beside her wedding band. ‘We have everything we need, mon Coeur.’

Almost everything. There’s still a price to be paid.

‘We just have to put it all together.’ Harry slipped his fingers through Fleur’s and pressed their hands against the Mirror of Erised. ‘You’re going to be just fine, baby bird. We promise.’

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One comment

  1. Now things are getting interesting because there are so many different ways this story can branch of to and so many different things that can happen. I have so many questions, is Harry going to turn himself into the Amber masked person or is it just simply Grindelward like Harry believes rn? is Fleur and Katrina gonna survive the ritual and if not how is it going play out in the long run ? And what’s going on with the other black heir which has been foreshadowed, there was also the foreshadowing of something related to Lestrange and how does all of this come together? It’s just too many things going on. Imo the next few chapters could really make or break this story and I am anxiously waiting to read them.

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