Conjoining of Paragons
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots, and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to my editor Athena, as well as my other betas 3CP, Fezzik, Luq707, Raven, Regress, Thanos, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.
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September 2, 1943
Harry walked down an empty corridor, already regretting the badge gleaming on his chest. Tonight was Thursday, the night each week he’d met Charlus to practice duelling last year. Between his prefect duties and the Potter heir’s spot as Head Boy, finding time that worked for them both was proving difficult. Instead I’m stuck patrolling the castle, looking for students snogging in broom closets or something.
Part of him yearned to slip off and practice, or else sneak down to the Chamber of Secrets. Not on the first night. Hold it together. Harry fought a sigh. Had Slughorn really thought him best-suited for the job, or had he just thought it would help him one day?
Something moved behind him. Harry spun, reaching for his wand. Memories of duelling Abraxas in the corridors came to mind. Stupid! You should have paid more attention.
“Jumpy, are we?” asked Emily, hands empty and eyebrows raised.
Harry exhaled, lowering his wand. “Don’t do that, you might get cursed.”
Her lips twitched. “I’ll keep it in mind, but you don’t scare me.”
Harry hesitated. Sod it, she’s been a good friend since I started trusting her. “Maybe I should. I did win the duel.”
He held his breath, unsure how she would react. She laughed, a soft sound accentuated by the gleam in her eyes. “The real question isn’t what happened when we duelled, but whether you think it would end the same way if we duelled again.”
Harry suppressed a scowl. He remembered the frustration and the anger brought forth by that duel all too well. She had controlled its action until their wands connected. I’m probably still not good enough yet. “Hard to say,” he said. “If you fell for my master plan again, then maybe.”
“Did you ever research the effect after our duel?”
He shook his head. “You mentioned something about it last night. Something about how looking into that led you to the Elder Wand.”
“It’s hard not to stumble across the story when researching wand lore. There isn’t exactly much written.”
Harry pondered his next words. “Do you actually believe what you said last night about the wand and it being a myth?”
“I’m less confident than I implied, but yes. I don’t see how something so powerful wouldn’t leave a clear paper trail. The odds of it remaining so hidden must be infinitesimally small.”
“But you think it could exist?”
He waited, letting the pause hang. “It’s possible,” she admitted. “The Chamber of Secrets was a myth until we both found it last year. I would have expected someone to stumble across that too, but I doubt the wand would be safeguarded by Parseltongue.”
Harry glanced around the corridor and extended his senses, ensuring no one lurked out of sight. “If it does exist, do you think Grindelwald might actually have it?”
Her face twisted, her expression darkening. “If the wand really does exist — which I still think is unlikely — I’d say there’s a better than not chance that Grindelwald has it. Why?”
Harry swallowed a lump in his throat. “The thought of him has been bothering me more lately. I think it sunk in a bit when I went back to Diagon Alley.” Half of that was true. It’s not like I can tell her the real reason is because I realized how different this timeline is. If Grindelwald had the most powerful wand of all-time, was it possible he really could beat Dumbledore?
“Back to Diagon Alley?”
Oh, right… “I was there during the attack before my fourth year. It’s one of the things that motivated me to start duelling.”
Emily leant forward, eyes narrowed. Harry shivered. It was like that night she had cornered him; he felt like he was being stalked all over again. “How skillful were his men?”
Harry took a deep breath. “Not very. Slughorn dealt with a few of them by himself.”
“Better or worse than some of the people you duelled last year?”
Harry pondered, caught off guard by the question. “Not as good as you, and probably not as good as Cassiopeia or Dolohov, but definitely better than the rest.” Harry studied her face. “You really hate him.”
“I hate anyone who would risk our world the way he does. He must be stopped; our society and our freedom may depend on it.”
“The ICW getting to his bases sounds like a good sign.”
“Maybe. It’s impossible to say until we see what he does next.” Her expression smoothed. “You have patrol tonight, right?”
Does she just memorize everything? “Yeah, first time.”
“Would you like company? My homework is done but I slept too poorly last night to practice anything advanced.”
“Sure. I’m supposed to do the upper floors.” Harry started towards the stairs but jumped when he felt her light touch on his sleeve. “What?”
“There’s a faster way.” She turned towards the wall, etched with a hundred serpentine carvings that had faded with time. “Open.” She beckoned Harry inside the passage that had just appeared, smirking at his expression. “See? There are perks to trusting me.”
September 6, 1943
The Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom
A hush filled the classroom when the bell rang and it took Harry a moment to realize why. Oh, right, Merrythought retired last year. He cast his mind around, searching for anything he knew about their new professor. I know his name is Holmes. Someone had also mentioned something about him being an ex-auror.
Harry glanced around the room. Magical beasts snarled from inside weathered frames on one wall while, on another, charts depicted a variety of curses and their counters. Ex-auror checks out.
The classroom door opened and the man himself stepped inside, wearing plain black robes that matched his thinning hair. Harry watched the way he limped towards the desk. Ex-auror definitely checks out.
The professor stared out at them. “Curious, are you?” he asked, looking down at his bad leg. “Let’s get any questions out of the way.” The class sat in silence. “Well?”
“Did you really fight in the Great War?” asked Romulus Lestrange.
“And you were an auror?” Mariana asked.
Emily raised her hand. “How recently did you serve, Professor?”
A smile crept across Holms’s face. “That’s better. Those types of questions are what will give you real information. I served until about three years ago.”
“Have you ever crossed paths with Grindelwald or his men?”
“What was he like?” asked Mulciber.
“Can he really fight dozens of aurors at a time?”
“Depends who you believe.”
“What’s it like fighting in battles like that?” Rosier asked.
Students were exchanging looks, many of them frustrated. It’s some sort of test, and they’re not passing.
Emily leant forward, eyes wide and lips pursed. She wants something. “Can you tell us about it, sir? The war has been making some of us nervous.”
Holmes eyed her, clearly unfooled, but he answered anyway. “I won’t spend the class lecturing you about Grindelwald, his men, and what it’s like fighting them. There are plenty of reports you can read on that sort of thing, most of them are public. I’ll say this about the war, and then we’ll move on. I never had this limp before fighting that last battle against him and his men, and I planned on serving until the war ended, not teaching back home in a classroom.”
The class remained quiet. “Auror recruits are higher than ever and the force is grateful. I’m here to help prepare anyone who’s worried about the war, but I won’t sugar coat it and I won’t make fighting it sound appealing. The war is dangerous and people are dying fast. Grindelwald is a monster unlike anything the world has seen in centuries and he’s not slowing down. It will take an exceptional effort to end the war and Grindelwald will never concede so long as he is alive and free.”
The room’s temperature dropped, or so it felt. Having Holmes there was surreal. Harry looked around at his classmates, noticing how many faces were pale. They’re realizing this war might not end soon. It would be almost another two years unless something had changed since his arrival and Grindelwald, Dumbledore, or another major player accelerated their plans.
“I think that’s enough story time for now,” said Holmes, waving his wand and summoning the attendance. “I don’t like teaching without examples and explanations, so I’m sure you’ll learn more the longer this class goes.”
Harry pondered while Holmes read off names. Many of his classmates looked downtrodden, but he could not help but be excited. Merrythought had been a diligent teacher and had done well teaching them spells and how to duel, but Holmes was different. He was a man who had fought and survived the worst of the worst; there were things he could teach that no one else could.
September 10, 1943
Albus Dumbledore’s Office
“Ah, Harry, come in.” Dumbledore smiled as he crossed the threshold, beckoning to the chair across his desk. “How was your summer?” he asked once Harry had sat.
“It was good, Professor, at least once my friends recovered.”
“Ah, yes. How is their recovery coming along?”
“Good for the most part, but there are still some symptoms.” Harry swallowed bile in the back of his throat. “They sometimes still feel like they’re being tortured right before they fall asleep and things like that.”
“Cruelty leaves lasting scars,” said Dumbledore. “Some are easier to heal than others, but let us hope they make a full recovery.”
Harry chose his next words carefully. “How about you, sir? How was your summer?”
“Busy and not without stress. I count myself lucky to have returned this September.”
Harry’s pulse quickened. “Returned from where, sir?”
“Germany, if certain people had their way. It’s startling how many people I’ve never met who are willing to conscript me for a war I want no part of.”
Harry let out a short breath. “So they want you to fight Grindelwald?”
“And generally aid the allied forces, yes.”
“And you’re not interested.”
Dumbledore drummed his fingers on the desk, a far-away look in those deep, blue eyes. “I’m not so uninterested now as I was a year ago, but my place is here, not out fighting. I am a scholar, not an auror.”
If anyone knows more than Emily, it will be him. “Professor… have you heard the rumours about him?”
Dumbledore sighed. “You’ll have to be more specific, I’ve heard more rumours than I could ever hope to count.”
“They say he has the most powerful wand ever and that it’s what’s making him so dangerous.”
Dumbledore’s expression darkened, but only for a moment. “The Elder Wand,” he mused, voice odd. It’s almost like he sounds bitter. “If it exists at all, he may have it. Grindelwald has always shown an interest for ancient and obscure magic.”
“Can he be beaten if he has it?” Harry made himself look down at the desk. “Sorry, sir, I’ve just been getting more nervous with the rumours that he’ll move against Britain.”
“I grow less sure by the day that he’ll ever strike our shores. I was confident he would following his defeat in Stalingrad, but I’m less sure now.” Dumbledore adopted a gentle smile. “I wouldn’t stress, Harry. There are few places in the world more well-protected than Hogwarts. Grindelwald would have a very difficult time breaching the castle, with or without the Elder Wand.”
“What about my question, Professor? If you don’t mind?”
“Can he be beaten if he has the wand?”
“Oh yes, any man can fall. It is said Emeric the Evil once wielded that wand, along with Egbert the Egregious and a dozen other names you might recognize. All of them lost their power then died in the end, whether they really held the wand or not. Grindelwald is no different. It will take an extraordinary effort to beat a man of his skill, but it can be done. It will be hard, but there are always good men willing to do what is right instead of what is easy.”
I wonder if he thinks not fighting Grindelwald is right. It’s weird he waited so long; I never knew how bad things got during the war. “Thank you, sir.”
“It is my pleasure,” said Dumbledore, leaning back in his chair. “Now, I believe we met for a different purpose than discussing Grindelwald until my skin thins and my hair greys.”
“Right.” Harry had been surprised to receive the letter from Dumbledore asking if he wanted to continue their lessons. “I’m a bit confused about that, sir. I’m happy and grateful, but what else is there to learn? Isn’t it just applying the principles in different ways?”
“Oh, I think there’s still a thing or two,” said Dumbledore, eyes twinkling. “Now that we are no longer restricted by the confines of a curriculum, I think we can begin pursuing Transfiguration’s true beauty and hone in on the parts that most interest you.”
Harry grinned, unable to hold in excitement. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds like this might actually be a good year.
The tension grows with each passing chapter… 🙂
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