CoP 44

Conjoining of Paragons

Chapter 44: Poetry in Wisdom

By ACI100

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 Hope, as well as my betas 3CP, Luq707, Regress, and Thanos for their work on this story.

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November 9, 1943
The Great Hall
8:25 AM

Sun returned that next morning, glittering off a hundred golden plates and goblets until they shone like gemstones. Clouds still gathered at the edges of a pale blue sky, but they were white as snow and retreating fast.

Finally something to be happy about. Small as it might have been, he was grateful. I needed something.

Dolohov was absent from the table, as were both Mulciber and Lestrange. Harry glanced towards Emily, but her face was blank. I’d pity the three bastards if they didn’t deserve whatever she did to them. The monster from last night stirred inside his stomach and roared again. Harry ignored it.

“I hope we have this sort of weather in Hogsmeade next weekend,” said Emily.

Harry jumped in, realizing she was trying to divert the others’ attention away from the group’s missing members. “I’ll stay back at Hogwarts, if you’d like. Knowing my luck lately, that’d give you better odds.”

Emily sniffed. “Some sacrifices aren’t quite worth it.” Something passed across her face, but it was gone faster than he could place it. Weird, that.

A storm of brown and grey flecked the bright blue sky as several hundred owls flapped overhead. There were more here than Harry ever remembered in his own world. Everyone got the paper here, eager to learn what was happening in the war abroad.

A paper landed in front of Cassiopeia. Emily read it before Harry could lean over. Her expression darkened. “What is it?” he asked, leaning closer.

“Things have heated up since… the incident.” A phantom fist slammed hard into Harry’s stomach; she was talking about Henri Potter’s murder.

“What do you mean heated up?”

“See for yourself?” Emily shoved the paper towards him.


Oh, Merlin… Harry scanned the article. Britain had tripled their commitment to the ICW’s war against Grindelwald and Moon was formally requesting that Dumbledore leave his post at Hogwarts and personally lead their troops against Grindelwald. Things are happening so much faster here. Their final duel should still be a year and a half away.

“What do you think?” Elena asked Harry.

“What do you mean?”

“About Dumbledore. Do you think he’ll go?”

“No.” It was the easy answer, and not only due to hindsight. “Dumbledore’s too attached to Hogwarts.”

Rosier scowled. “Everyone has an excuse. If you ask me, I think Dumbledore’s a coward.”

“He’s analytical,” said Emily. “Dumbledore is a brilliant magician despite all his other flaws, but Grindelwald has been engaged in constant combat for at least half a decade. Dumbledore hasn’t specialized the same way.”

“So you don’t think he could win?” Dorea asked over her cup of tea.

Emily pursed her lips. “I never said that. It’s impossible to predict; I’ve only heard exaggerated tales about Grindelwald and have never seen Dumbledore duel, but he’s clever. It’s not impossible, but I think he understands the duel isn’t a foregone conclusion. The way Moon talks, it’s like Dumbledore is hiding from some guaranteed victory that doesn’t exist.”

“So you do think he’s afraid?”

“Who wouldn’t be? There is nothing worse than death.” Harry shivered but was unsure why. Perhaps it was because it reminded him of Voldemort, leeching off lesser men just to stay alive. Some things never change. “But I don’t think that’s his sole reason,” Emily went on.

“What other reason could he have?” asked Rosier. “Time has exhausted most of his excuses.”

“Grindelwald has yet to strike Britain. A rational person understands what that means — he is at least as wary of Dumbledore as Dumbledore is of him.”

The pieces connected inside Harry’s head. “So if Dumbledore leaves Hogwarts and goes after Grindelwald, there’s nothing stopping him from attacking Britain. He wouldn’t even have to beat Dumbledore, just avoid the fight and hit Britain before Dumbledore could get back.”

Emily smiled across the table. “Precisely.”

“Britain’s not helpless though, are we?” Elena’s voice cracked near the end. “Without Dumbledore, I mean.”

“France wasn’t helpless,” Rosier said darkly. “Neither was Poland, or Germany, or any of the other countries he helped take over.”

Emily twirled a stray lock of hair around her finger. “We’re stronger than all of those countries, but I doubt it would be enough. Grindelwald’s numbers seem endless and a man like him turns the tide. Some of the best have failed against him, and if Dumbledore isn’t in the picture, I doubt anyone in Britain can best him in single combat.”

She chose her words carefully. She hates Grindelwald; the single combat point is important to her. Does she think there’s another way? A trap, or something? Harry’s pulse quickened just thinking about it. Here’s hoping I never find out.

That evening…

Harry rubbed his temples, staring down at the faded pages of an ancient tome Dumbledore had recommended. It was the most complicated thing he had ever read and his head spun faster with each passing page.

His ward hummed and he looked up. The sky outside had grown dark during his readings. It was a clear night filled with moonlight that shone through the library’s towering windows. An owl hooted somewhere outside.

“That late, huh?” Harry asked when Emily walked around his table and took the seat across from him.

“It’s nearly ten,” she said. “I’ve just finished up my prefect rounds.”

“I lost track of time.”

Her lips quirked upwards. “I gathered.” She glanced down at the book. “How fascinating.”

“Dumbledore couldn’t have suggested me a drier book if he’d tried.”

“It looks dense.”

Harry snorted. “That’s like calling a mountain thick. A lot of interesting stuff’s in here, it’s just so much to get through.”

Her smile grew. “Welcome to forays into complex magic.”

“I guess you would know.” He drummed his fingers on the desk, staring out the window.

“You should start dedicating more of your research time to wards.”

“Probably,” he admitted. “It just feels so beyond me. I know the basics, but nothing that’s gonna keep out whoever’s after me.”

“You word that very carefully each time.” He nodded. “Can I assume you have suspicions beyond a group of school boys wanting to embarrass you?”

Harry looked around despite the ward. It’s Emily; I can trust her with this. She was a lot of things and he was too perceptive to miss many of them, but he did not think blabbermouth was among them. She’ll keep a secret — she cares too much not to.

“I think they’re working with Grindelwald.”

There was a short pause. “Someone has a high opinion of himself.”

“Nothing else makes sense. If they wanted to embarrass me, they should have just cursed me in the library. I never even noticed my wards being compromised. Instead they set up a trap.”

Emily ran a hand through her hair. “That attempt is odd. Immobilizing you is a very specific objective.”

How the hell do I word this next bit? It’s not like I can tell her that the timeline makes no sense. Guilt tore at him. I hate lying.

“I don’t think Grindelwald really wanted Henri Potter.” He grasped for words. “I think he wants something from me and just had my physical description, or something.”

Emily studied him. “You do look like a Potter, but what would he want with you? And how could he want something with you and not know who you are? If he knew anything about you, he would have known that going after Potter was useless.”

“I don’t know, but I followed Charlus and the ICW reps into an abandoned classroom and heard what they told him. They thought Henri had been interrogated.”

“That’s not abnormal.”


“There’s something more, isn’t there? A connection you’re not sharing.”

Harry hesitated. The beast coiled tightly inside his stomach. “Yes.”

“Something about your past.” He nodded, waiting for the questions. “I trust you,” she said instead.

Harry stared at her. His mind was slow to process. I’ve spent all year worried about her prying, and now she’s just trusting me? Merlin, I’ve broken this timeline. Thoughts like that had made him guilty these past two weeks, but not this time.

He cleared his throat. “I don’t know what they want, but I have a feeling it’s something. What I don’t understand is why Grindelwald is passing off work to schoolboys. It doesn’t feel like his style.”

“What if I told you Grindelwald might not be the one orchestrating things?” Didn’t she just say she trusted me? “Let me finish,” she said, holding up a hand. “I believe you, but not working directly for Grindelwald doesn’t disqualify them from doing his bidding.”

“You think there’s someone in the middle?”

“Something like that. I, at least, think it’s suspicious that Edward Nott seems to have vanished after graduating Hogwarts last year.”

Nott… he was Abraxas’s best friend. Harry had always suspected it had been him who tried cursing him following his duel against Malfoy, Burke, and Goyle, but he had never proven it.

“So what? You think Grindelwald told Nott about his plans, or something?”

“I highly doubt it. More likely Nott wants our heads and started feeding Grindelwald information that portrayed you or both of us as threats.”

Harry’s head spun. “Bastard.” It sounded exactly like the sort of thing Nott would do. “So what do we do then? It’s not like Dippet will believe any of it.”

Emily’s eyes glittered. “We discourage them strongly enough that Nott might actually have something to report.”

November 12, 1943
Albus Dumbledore’s Office
9:13 PM

A knight of stone raised its sword, leering down at Dumbledore, who calmly aimed his wand. A Blasting Curse slammed against the knight’s chest but deflected, slamming into a pre-erected ward. Three more Blasting Curses slammed against its chest. Harry felt his enchantment strain, but it held.

“Excellent.” Dumbledore vanished the construct with a wave of his wand. “This is excellent, Harry, you should be most proud.”

Harry smiled, wiping sweaty strands of hair back from his eyes. “Thank you, sir. I’ve had a good teacher.”

Dumbledore chuckled, but shook his head. “There is only so much an instructor can do. That frustrated me once, but I have learned that truth comes with its own set of beauties.”

Harry wasn’t so sure. Their work this year had been more intense than ever. Dumbledore had worked to break a bad habit of his and it had been an adjustment.

“There will not always be masses of stone to twist to your will. Sometimes you must create, and accept the fatigue. Efficiency is limiting when sought for efficiency’s sake. Remember that.”

Harry had always used transfiguration when dealing with vaster scales, but Dumbledore had a point. There were a plethora of materials at Hogwarts, but that would not always be true. Sometimes, he would be forced to conjure things from air.

If only breaking that habit had been the hard part. That had been enchanting.

“Your constructs are impressive, but what use are they if a single curse can destroy them?” Enchanting was probably the hardest thing he had ever done, but the basics were slowly starting to come. At least I can enchant against basic fire and Blasting Curses now.

“I think that will do for the night,” said Dumbledore. “You have done excellently, Harry. I cannot wait to see where this journey takes us.”

Harry offered a weak smile. “Sir, I wanted to ask a question. It’s not about Transfiguration.”

Dumbledore’s face aged. “I thought you might. Very well, ask.”

“That article in the Prophet — has the minister really asked you to leave?”

Dumbledore’s expression smoothed. “Leonard is a proud man who dislikes playing defence. Henri Potter’s death was a slight too far for him.”

“So he has asked you, then?”

“He has, yes.”

Silence hung between them. It’s Dumbledore, he won’t get mad about questions. “And will you go?”

“No.” His answer was short.

“Because you don’t want to leave Britain exposed?”

Dumbledore stroked his auburn beard. “I have a hundred reasons, that is but one of them.”

“How good is Grindelwald?” The question just slipped out. Dumbledore turned away, looking out his office window. I’ve gone too far. Harry opened his mouth to apologize, but Dumbledore spoke first.

“How I wish I could plead ignorance and tell you I’ve heard naught but rumours.”

Dumbledore turned back to him. His face was marred with an expression Harry couldn’t place. It almost looks like he’s in pain.

“I will not lie to you. Grindelwald is the single biggest threat our world has faced since Emeric the Evil, perhaps even before. If you will forgive my arrogance, I have only ever met two men who might be my magical equals. One of them is Nicholas Flamel, the famed alchemist and crafter of the Philosopher’s Stone. The other was a sixteen-year-old boy named Gellert Grindelwald.”

“What?” Shock drove the air from his lungs. “You knew Grindelwald?”

“It is not abnormal for people like us to connect. I knew him very well, but not for long. He has changed since then, but the talent was always there.”

That strained look remained on his face. There’s more here than people realize. Part of him doesn’t want to fight Grindelwald. “What was he like?”

“Cunning, obsessive, and brilliant. Charismatic beyond anyone I have ever met and with an unrivalled devotion to the things he held dear.”

Harry scratched the back of his neck. “That… doesn’t sound so bad.”

Dumbledore adjusted his spectacles, a sad smile on his lips. “Many of the most dangerous men aren’t so bad in their hearts. Light can be found, even in the darkest of places. Grindelwald is no exception.”

Harry’s head spun. “Are you saying he’s not evil?”

“Who am I to say what evil is?” Dumbledore shrugged his shoulders. “I believe that, in his heart, he believes his cause is righteous. For the greater good is more than just his motto, it is his mantra and the set of principles he lives by. The boy I knew would not kill for the sake of killing. Everything was purposeful and I doubt that has changed. Grindelwald is but another name on the long list of men who devoted their lives to causes that were morally beneath them.”

It reminded Harry of the way Dumbledore had talked about Tom Riddle. “It’s almost like you think he can be redeemed.”

“Anyone can be redeemed.”

Harry shook his head. “Sir… Grindelwald has killed thousands and his war has killed millions.”

“Could he not save millions of people or end his war?” Dumbledore spread his hands. “I believe that no one is past the point of redemption, though some step so far past a line it is unlikely they will ever turn back. Please understand that just because I say there is a way Grindelwald could redeem himself in my eyes does not mean I think it’s likely. So long as he believes his cause is right, he will never turn back, and he has been devoted to that cause for nearly fifty years. I don’t think his mind will be changed now.”

Harry’s pulse quickened and a sheen of sweat broke across his brow. Since you’re answering the harder questions. “What about Emily? You advised me to stop talking with her.”

“I advised you to exercise caution. I see disturbing patterns in Miss Riddle’s behaviour, but she is certainly not past redemption, nor is there evidence she needs redeeming.” Dumbledore drummed long fingers against his hip. “Don’t you see now why I warned you? Don’t you see why I advised caution?”

It hit him. “Grindelwald… she reminds you of him.”

“And you remind me of myself. I know how that friendship burned me, those scars remain even now. I would never wish that upon anyone.”

Merlin, this got deep. Harry met his mentor’s eyes. “Emily isn’t Grindelwald. She loathes him and everything he stands for. She will never become him.” Heat crawled beneath his skin and his eyes burned. Challenge me, I dare you.

Dumbledore offered that same sad smile. “I hope you’re right, Harry… I hope more strongly than you could ever know.”

Author’s Endnote:

A bit of a change in pace after the last few chapters. Next one is a big one.

Please read and review.

A heartfelt thank you is extended to my Mage-level patron, Cup, for her unwavering support.

PS: The next chapter will be posted in exactly two weeks. It will be released here for readers on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023. IT IS AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW FOR ANYONE WHO JOINS MY DISCORD SERVER, AS ARE CHAPTERS 46, 47, 48, 49, AND 50! Chapter 51 will also be made available to Discord members next Wednesday. THOSE WHO SIGN UP TO MY PATREON PAGE WILL GAIN IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO THE NEXT ELEVEN CHAPTERS!

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