The Sugar Quill
Author: Auror Borealis (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Pensieve Vigils Keep  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Albus Dumbledore held a blue shard in his hand, regarding it with a strange expression that might have been sadness, might have been fond reminiscence, but was most likely a combination of both. The fragment was covered with a few stubborn dark stains and soil. A pattern that might have been fluffy white clouds adorned the outer surface of the fragment.

On the desk in Dumbledore's office there stood a basin, filled with an odd quicksilver that bore a passing resemblance to Dumbledore's long silver locks. The basin was covered with runes.

Dumbledore put the pottery piece aside with a sigh, then he peered into the Pensieve.

* * * *

A tall man, whose auburn hair has not yet reached the length at which tucking it into his belt would be possible, stands next to himself.

He waves a hand in front of the eyes that are exactly like his, but are not his, and the owner of those eyes blinks. He then gestures quickly with his wand, summoning a chair, and sits his double down. Producing a wooden ruler, whose measurements a Muggle would puzzle at, he taps the knee of his duplicate, and the lower leg jumps slightly.

Lest you wonder for his sanity, as Harry Potter will at a certain feast 46 years from now, I tell you that he has administered the tap on the knee and the wave over the eyes to the second 'self', the twin that stands (now sits) beside him, rather than the self he is.

"A thing which is not living, transfigured into a living beast or being, possesses basic instincts, locomotion, senses, and even reacts to stimuli…. But it has no will of its own." The professor turns to his class.

"Professor Dumbledore?" A student raises her hand.

"Yes?"

"Is it… alive?" She asks hesitantly, motioning at the second Albus Dumbledore, the seated one.

"He is alive, Yolanda, but he is like this pitcher." Dumbledore holds up a plain brown urn. "Whether or not a pitcher has a mind, a soul…. That I will leave to the philosophers."

Dumbledore points his wand at Dumbledore, who is suddenly replaced by a bright blue flowerpot.

"And now, class, I was considering assigning an essay on the ethics of inanimate-human transfiguration…." The class groans deeply, and protests are voiced in a babble. Dumbledore smiles and holds up a single finger.

"But," he says, eyes twinkling, "as I understand, there is a particularly exciting Quidditch match this weekend," he paused, "consider yourselves off the hook until next week."

Cheers erupt in the classroom, not quite loud enough to mask the sound of the magical tone used to announce the end of class periods, which is met with even more cheers. Last period on Friday!

Dumbledore, still smiling, watches the class exit - stampede, rather - from the room. He notices a wizard trying to fight the tide pouring out of the classroom and finally giving up, waiting for the doorway to clear.

The stranger is wearing a neon orange bowler hat, and equally loud yellow robes. His face is friendly-looking, with a toothy smile and flushed cheeks. He has a short black beard and mustache. The wizard removes his hat as he scuttles over to Dumbledore, revealing black hair that is cut somewhere between short and long.

"Pleased to meet you, Professor Dumbledore," the wizard cheerfully states, grinning and sticking out his hand, still holding the neon bowler hat, which Dumbledore takes with a smile (The hand, not the hat). "Fibbius Sham, Ministry 'o Magic Inspector, at yer service."

The inspector notices a copy of the Daily Prophet on Dumbledore's desk. "Right shame that is," says he, pointing at the headline.

GRINDELWALD STRIKES AGAIN

Michaelus Faradan Found Dead By Glacier Curse

Renowned Charm researcher Michaelus Faradan was found dead in his private laboratory Wednesday, a victim of the Glacier Curse, only known to be cast by the Dark wizard Grindelwald. Several of Faradan's spellbooks are missing, as is his current research into Electricity Charms. Remaining materials were all but destroyed by a variety of curses and hexes. The Ministry of Magic has no doubt that the culprit is no other than Grindelwald, infamous for murdering and plundering magical researchers. He has yet to give evidence of using any of the Unforgivable Curses, likely fearing a Dementor's Kiss sentence. "Like that's goin' a save 'im from the Dementors," a Hit Wizard on the scene commented. CONTINUED- PAGE 4

"Yes…. I knew him." Dumbledore looks up sharply at Mr. Sham and holds his eyes. "I am sure Grindelwald will be brought to justice."

Sham looks away. Judging from his expression, he hadn't known that Dumbledore had been acquainted with Faradan, and was rather sorry to have mentioned it. "I'll be lookin' in on classes and inspecting the school this week for the Ministry…. Still paranoid over that ah, unfortunate 'incident' three years ago, if you ask me. Jus' thought I'd tell you." Mr. Sham hands a piece of paper to Dumbledore, a rough schedule of his inspections. "Well, you need to see people and go places, I'll jus' let myself out, shall I?" The now nervous- looking inspector scuttles out of the room as hastily as the students.

Dumbledore looks after him, musing in his expression.

* * * *

The classroom leaves, gone like smoke in the wind, flying away in the whirling thoughts of the Pensieve. The room returns in a few moments, yet three days have passed. It is now Monday, in the month of May, 1945.

* * * *

"Transfiguring an inanimate object, or even a living creature, into an intelligent being is very difficult. Only the most skilled wizards are able to do it…. And even then, as you have seen, it is not a true being, but the basic aspects of that being. It is the attempted copying of a mind that makes such transfiguration so difficult. Beings, such as humans, merfolk, centaurs, and many others, have very complex minds and personalities when compared to, say, a puffskein." A number of students smile at this reference to the popular wizarding pet; many have encountered the docile puffskeins at some point in their lives.

"Of course, one can also imagine what the less scrupulous would do if Transfiguration of beings were so easy. I shudder to think what a Dark wizard could do with the ability to Transfigure objects into a slave army under the control of the Imperius Curse…" As Dumbledore says this, Mr. Sham, who was dozing quietly on a school desk in the back of the room, gives a start and almost inhales his orange bowler hat. A nearby student helpfully knocks the hat out of the inspector's mouth, which has the unfortunate side effect of increasing the volume of his snores….

"Quietus," Dumbledore says with a small smile, pointing his wand at Sham. "As I said, the power to change objects into animate bodies is a power easily abused in the wrong hands. Exactly how this power can be abused, you will explain using a half meter of parchment…" Dumbledore pauses while several students who hoped he had forgotten the assignment groan, and continues, "and congratulations for a most excellently played game against Ravenclaw…. Dear Professor Flitwick won't be able to live it down for months, I daresay…. Well, I'm sure he'll redeem himself at the Dueling Club." The Transfiguration professor glances toward the back of the room.

"Would someone be so kind as to wake dear Inspector Sham? He must have been up late filling out school reports for the Ministry…"

Jonas MacDonald leans over to tap the snoozing Sham, but the inspector starts awake in the nick of time. His hand blurs with incredible speed as it catches Jonas' own hand inches from the inspector's ear. Sham, now fully awake, smiles apologetically and releases Jonas, who leaves rather quickly.

* * * *

In the Daily Prophet that Fibbius Sham saw on Dumbledore's desk the Friday he arrived, there were a number of pictures. A wizard photograph on the fourth page showed a gutted house. In at least three places, gaping holes had been torn in the walls, and the windows had all been shattered. Smoke rose from the wreckage, some of it tinged a bright red.

Another showed the inside of Faradan's lab. A bookcase, now little more than a charred hunk of wood, rested against one wall. In the center of the photograph was a desk, presumably the work desk of the deceased wizard, encased in a jagged sheath of ice. The area around the chair had been carved out to recover Faradan's body. The desk surface was completely clear, save for a single sheet of paper. On it was written a single word, SURPRISE, presumably the last thing Faradan saw.

There were no pictures of Grindelwald. There were several words, however.

Little is known of the Dark wizard Grindelwald, save his operating method and motives. He hunts down wizards who have developed new spells, usually high profile or reputedly powerful researchers, kills them, and steals their work, usually 'modifying' it toward destructive ends. The pattern, however, was discovered too late for his first three victims. Now many wizards refuse to share their work publicly, for fear of discovery by Grindelwald. This precautionary measure, however, seems to make matters worse, as the Dark wizard somehow finds out anyway, and arrives before the Ministry can arrange a bodyguard.

No visual description of Grindelwald exists, furthering the paranoia of magical researchers. His only confirmed physical trait is size: Grindelwald is known to be unusually large, standing over two meters. Investigators reached this conclusion after observing doorframes broken at the top in several of his victim's abodes.

Grindelwald has claimed the lives of 11 wizards, including Mr. Faradan.

Any wizards developing new magic should contact the Ministry immediately to arrange Hit Wizard quick response teams.

* * * *

The classroom and the newspaper fade, the Pensieve's strange, swirling, silvery substance replacing them. Now it takes the observer somewhere else…

* * * *

Dumbledore had his hand on the handle of the door opening into his office and rooms on the fourth floor when he encountered Fibbius Sham during the last class period of Thursday.

"I'm doing a floor-by-floor shafety inspection, Professhor…. Would you mind ifh I took a quick look at your offish?" Mr. Sham said. He had just exited the adjacent classroom and had a quill clamped between his teeth and his loud bowler askew. In his arms was a collection of large, important- looking folders and papers, which seemed in grave danger of spilling out of his arms and onto the floor.

"Of course, Mr. Sham. If you have any questions, I shall do my best to answer them." Dumbledore opened the door.

The room the opened door revealed was very orderly. Light wooden panels made up the walls. The floor, composed of very old looking wood, nevertheless appeared quite sturdy, which the inspector noted on one of his papers. Several windows looked out on the Hogwarts grounds, giving an especially fine view of the lake. In the center of the room was a large wooden desk, on top of which the Inanimate-Intelligent Switching Ethics papers were neatly stacked. A corner housed a large cabinet with such things as matches, teacups, pincushions, and other materials for Transfiguration class. One of the pincushions attempts to escape when Sham opens the door…. Dumbledore, looking amused, rectifies the incomplete porcupine Transfiguration.

Sham, who doesn't appear to be very observant under the best of circumstances, is understandably shocked when Fawkes, Dumbledore's phoenix companion, alights on his shoulder. A cascade of papers flows out onto the floor as the inspector jumps several feet in the air.

"Jumpin' Jehosephat! Don't scare me like that! Ye should've warned me about your pet--"

"Friend." Dumbledore holds out his arm, and Fawkes flaps over to perch on it.

"Hmm?" Sham looks at Dumbledore curiously.

"Fawkes is my friend. I do not consider him a pet." There is no reprimand in Dumbledore's tone, yet Sham seems apologetic.

"Oh, 'a course. Sorry sir. Sorry, eh…." At this, Sham fairly bungles Fawkes' name, and I leave it to you to decide exactly how he did so.

Dumbledore merely corrects him with an amused smile. Mr. Sham changes the subject very quickly.

"Well, your office checks out safety-wise," the inspector pauses and using the quill once again clamped between his teeth, draws a large and squiggly check mark on a blank page. Immediately, much neater writing appears magically beneath it, spelling out 'Transfiguration office.' "But the Ministry is also interested in the ah, defensive measures of the school."

Dumbledore looks at him quizzically.

"Oh, ah… probably because 'o that, erm, 'incident' two years ago," Mr. Sham hurriedly adds.

"I have no defensive enchantments over my personal quarters, Fibbius." Dumbledore says simply.

"You… don't say." Mr. Sham seemed a bit more nervous than usual.

"No. You are aware, however, of the enchantments over the school?"

"Yes, Professor. Oh, but could you fill out this? Just documentation for the school-wide enchantments." Sham hands Dumbledore a blank piece of paper. "Thank you for your information and time." The inspector bowed himself out of the room - or attempted to. He tripped over his robes and landed in a shower of papers in the fourth floor hallway.

* * * *

Dumbledore lists the magics woven about the school on the paper that Sham gave him.

Anti - Apparition Field = Prevents all Apparating and Disapparating on Hogwarts grounds.

Illusion and Muggle - repelling Charms = all Muggles who happen across Hogwarts see only an aging castle in a state of extreme disrepair. In addition, they feel that going anywhere near the school is unsafe.

Unplottable - the Forbidden Forest and Hogwarts Lake have been made unplottable, as they are a centaur and merfolk reserve, respectively.

Underneath he describes the specific spells used to enchant the school. After five minutes, Dumbledore completes describing the school's magic. He opens his desk and finds the schedule that the inspector handed to him last Friday. According to the schedule, Mr. Sham is now "inspecting" (more likely napping, Dumbledore thinks with a grin) in Professor Hamry's Defense Against the Dark Arts class.

Dumbledore, paperwork in hand, heads for the third floor.

* * * *

"The Confundus Charm," Professor Hamry explains, "is reviewed by both Professor Flitwick and I. Though the Charm may possibly have practical application, it can be used by Dark wizards and mischief-makers alike to great effect." The gray-haired professor looks severely at certain students as she said this. "It works, put simply, by 'giving someone ideas.' The more complex the idea, the more difficult the Charm is to cast, as one must concentrate on the Confunding idea while uttering the incantation."

The professor pulls out her wand and points it at a student.

"Remember that the Confundus Charm only plants an idea in someone's mind,

not a command. I could Confund Mr. Sengor, here," she gestures with her wand at a nervous student, "into thinking homework was important, but that may or may not get him to do his homework." Professor Hamry shoots a disapproving look at Sengor while several students laugh, but calls for silence after a moment and favors the student with a kind smile. "Sorry I picked on you, Mr. Sengor, but you did set yourself up by not turning anything in for two weeks."

Hamry begins to pace. "You can generally tell if someone's Confunded by irrational behavior, though I doubt that would be much of a change for some of us, and a glazed look in the victim's eyes."

This is what Dumbledore hears as he comes down the hall and stands outside the classroom door, which is slightly ajar. At this point he decides it is as good a time as any to interrupt Hamry's class. He walks in as Hamry pauses. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, about to launch into another detail of the Confundus Charm, glances at the Transfiguration Professor.

"Well, good day, Professor Dumbledore. I must say that this is a bit of a surprise." Hamry is only slightly chagrined at having her class interrupted, but the students have no such misgivings whatsoever.

"Just stopping by to give Inspector Sham his paperwork, Professor. Where is Mr. Sham?" Dumbledore surveys the room and spots Fibbius at the back. "Ah, there you are."

The inspector snores gently, the orange bowler hat tipped to shade his face.

Dumbledore smiles knowingly and tucks the form on school enchantments into the large pile on Sham's desk. The inspector's arms twitch, as if he means to lunge forward, but Sham settles down again after a moment.

* * * *

At dinner that evening in the Great Hall, the discussion on the teacher's table revolved around the Dark wizard Grindelwald.

"I do hope they catch him soon," the timid and quiet Herbology Professor Grubb says.

"This is a most terrible business…." Her voice fades, as she cannot find the words to express herself more fully.

"Don't worry, Miriam, the Ministry's onto him now, they've got Hit Wizards and everything after him," Professor Flitwick says as he nibbles a dinner roll in a subdued fashion.

"Do you know," Professor Vitrius, the Potions master, pauses to swallow a lump of food, "I've heard that the Department of Mysteries is getting involved. My guess is the Unspeakables are trying to locate Grindelwald."

"What good will that do?" grumbles the gruff and pessimistic Professor Kettleburn. His magical wooden arm raises a glass of water halfheartedly.

"Unspeakables are highly trained special agents, Marcus, I should think you would know that. Why, they are practically alert in their sleep!" Vitrius exclaims.

"Don't get me wrong, Mabel, I want to see this maniac locked up at the very least as much as you do." Professor Kettleburn peered out from beneath singed eyebrows. "I just…. Well, you've seen what's happening. Twelve murders, and not so much as a shred of evidence pointing to who or where he is."

Vitrius, Grubb, Kettleburn, and Dumbledore (who is quietly eating his food and thinking) sit in silence for a few moments. That silence shatters upon the arrival of Professor Hamry, who has observed and disapproves of their melancholy attitude.

"Why the long faces, my fellows?" The four professors stare at Hamry and her bright green and cucumber shaped nose.

Professor Kettleburn is the first to crack. He struggles mightily, but a chortle escapes his widening grin. Vitrius pretends to have a coughing fit. Grubb barely manages to keep her lemon juice from erupting out of her nose. Dumbledore finally looks up from his soup and smiles.

"Well, I'm certainly glad you find me amusing," Hamry says, and her eyes twinkle. "Now, we're going to have a nice, cheerful discussion. Agreed?" The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor returned her nose to its normal coloration and shape as she smiled at the others, who nodded.

Hamry looks around. "I wonder where inspector Sham is? He looked like he needed some cheering up when he walked into my class this afternoon…. Very nervous, the poor man."

"How did he ever become an inspector, anyway? He doesn't look like he's very organized or very coordinated, for that matter." Professor Grubb smiles; probably remembering one of Sham's numerous mishaps.

"Well, if you ask me, he's a new recruit," Vitrius says. "Ministry had us lined up for yearly inspections for 5 years after the… the…."

"The opening of the Chamber of Secrets, Mabel." Dumbledore speaks for the first time. His eyes reflect sadness, but there is no hesitation or fear in his voice.

Vitrius is momentarily stunned, but continues, "Yes, after that the Ministry sent us the inspection schedule. Sent us an owl just two weeks ago. It seems the originally scheduled inspector was somehow detained, and they informed us of dear Fibbius' arrival. Must be a junior officer or something."

"Well, I hope this isn't his full-time job. Goodness, he sleeps half the time he's 'inspecting,' and the other half he's tripping over his own robes."

* * * *

The Great Hall disappears. The story now comes to a fork in the road. One path, Dumbledore remembers through the Pensieve. The tales of his colleagues carve the other path out of the forest that is existence. Their thoughts were added, by Dumbledore's request, to the Pensieve.

The Pensieve's mists are made visible for a moment, and then out of the silvery fog appears Dumbledore's quarters.

It is Saturday, a Hogsmeade weekend, and Dumbledore is the only teacher chaperone. Normally, the other teachers would accompany him, but everyone else was attending a staff meeting called by Fibbius Sham to review the inspection. The Transfiguration professor cannot find his wallet. What he does find is a messily scrawled note, complete with mangled spelling of Dumbledore's name:

Professor Dumbuldor:

Found your wallet in my papers. Must have picked it up with the forms I dropped. In my quarters under the Astronomy Tower.

Fibbius Sham, M.O.M. Inspector

The Transfiguration teacher scrutinized the note. Something strikes him as not quite right. It is nothing in particular, just a vague feeling, but still….

Dumbledore heads for the tallest tower.

He has pocketed his wand.

* * * *

The staff room is packed. Headmaster Dippet and all of the Professors, including Hamry, Kettleburn, Vitrius, Grubb and Flitwick, sit on one side of the long table. The other side is jam-packed with stacks of folders, files, and papers. The professors are chatting quietly with each other.

Fibbius Sham enters, carrying yet another large stack of paper. The room quiets and Headmaster Dippet speaks. "Good day, Inspector! Do you need help with--" Dippet never finishes that sentence.

The mild-mannered inspector drops the sheaf of papers suddenly, as is his wont. There is nothing clumsy, however, in the rapid movement that followed. Sham draws two wands that have been hidden under the stack and levels them with incredible speed at the Hogwarts staff. The startled professors only have time to grasp their wands, then-

"EXPELLIARMUS!" The room is bathed in a flash of red light, and several professors are blasted off their feet. A shower of wands lands at Sham's feet. The two he holds in his hands are still leveled menacingly at the staff, and those who are conscious stare in utter disbelief.

Sham has counted on the skill of the professors - on the fact that they would be fast enough to at least grab their wands, thus enabling him to disarm them.

When Sham speaks, his voice has none of its usual cheerfulness.

"No one is going anywhere."

* * * *

Dumbledore pushes the door open and enters Fibbius' makeshift quarters, just below the highest point of the castle, the Astronomy Tower. It is, as you might have guessed, drenched in papers. The inspector's cot lies in the corner of the room, the sheets tumbling messily to the floor and the pillow a bit crooked. A plain cloth wallet, electric blue, is perched on a small table directly in front of him.

The Transfiguration professor takes one step. This is when he notices the paper taped to the wall above the table. The one that reads 'SURPRISE.'

"Auster amplus." A deep gravelly voice speaks behind Dumbledore - behind the door. Of course!

"Aegis," Dumbledore says, just as the top half of the Astronomy Tower is smashed by a record gale. Huge stone blocks and countless papers tumble through the air around Dumbledore, they fly straight at him-

They bounce off an invisible force surrounding him. The mighty wind, with nothing to halt its progress, plows into the professor and carries him into the darkened sky, black clouds heavy with rain and portending conflict.

"VOLATUS!" Dumbledore shouts into the storm. Immediately, he levels out and hovers in place amid flying stone and howling wind. Though the wind whips mercilessly against his eyes, Dumbledore sees another figure rising from the rubble-a huge one.

At least two meters tall.

The Dark wizard halts across from Dumbledore, perhaps twenty feet away. It is a wonder how anyone could miss the man-thing that floats opposite Dumbledore. Besides Grindelwald's mammoth stature, he is dressed in black boots, a leather vest, pants, and gloves - certainly not normal wizard attire. Long, scraggly green strands of hair blow out from the Dark wizard's head. His eyes are shadowed under a large brow, and his teeth, filed to points, show in a hideous grin. Grindelwald looks rather like a forest troll wearing clothes.

The wind was abating, and Dumbledore can hear the Dark wizard shouting at him, in his asphalt voice.

"Excellent, Professor….. but I wouldn't expect any less from the alchemical mastermind, the wizard who discovered the twelve magical properties of Dragon's blood….." Grindelwald's smile widens. "Tell me where you keep your work, and you will die…… relatively quickly."

Dumbledore also smiled, his wand at the ready. "How does Fibbius fit into this?"

"Oh, is it a villain's exposition you want from me? Very well….. but you'll have to earn it. We duel. The longer you stay alive, the longer you hear my voice…." The Dark wizard's smile widened to an unnatural size. "I will be the last thing you ever hear, so you had best keep me talking!" Grindelwald laughed hysterically, then stopped with a suddenness that implied madness. "Bow," he said, "bow to your doom."

Dumbledore bows, but even as he does so he listens for Grindelwald to strike - the Dark wizard does not bow, but raises his wand and cries "Stupefy!"

"Fumus Speculum!" Dumbledore shouts. A flash of bright white light, and he is surrounded by Dumbledores. The professor finishes his bow in a dive as he casts the spell; the illusory Dumbledores speed in every direction and the flash has made it difficult to determine which way the real one went. Grindelwald's curse splits the air where the professor hovered moments before, its energy dissipating as it streaks away.

The voice of Grindelwald, magically enhanced, booms out. "I am a man of my word, Dumbledore, and you will have your explanation." The Dark wizard sounds rather pouty, but what amazes Dumbledore is that Grindelwald also sounds sincere - he really believes that he is a wizard of honor.

"Fibbius Sham is not a Ministry inspector, as you may have guessed, Dumbledore. His clumsiness and drowsiness are merely acts, to hide the truth. What I find most amusing about this situation is that Sham, an Unspeakable sent to watch over Albus Dumbledore, unwittingly has a hand in his destruction!"

On the word 'destruction,' Grindelwald blasts a fake Dumbledore out of the sky, the illusion dispelling in a puff of blue smoke.

* * * *

For the first few moments, the staff is still in a state of utter disbelief. Finally, Dippet chokes out, "Why?"

Sham looks at the Headmaster, and states as simply as if he were commenting on the weather, "Because one of you is the Dark wizard Grindelwald hiding under the effect of a Polyjuice Potion. His next target is your Transfiguration teacher, Dippet," Sham's voice takes on an edge, "if that is your real name."

"How can you be certain?" Professor Vitrius says after a moment of stunned silence.

"The Dark wizard would say something like that," Sham's eyes narrow as he says this, "but to answer your question, I am an Unspeakable, dispatched to protect Albus Dumbledore, as the Ministry believes he is the next target."

"I don't think that's what she means," begins Professor Kettleburn, "She wants to know how you're sure that one of us is 'Grindelwald hiding under a Polyjuice Potion.'"

The gruff professor looked at Sham skeptically.

"It… it just makes sense, ok?!" Sham's eyes look a bit glassy. "How else would you get into the school, Grindelwald?"

Professor Flitwick turns to the conscious staff, including Hamry, Kettleburn, Dippet, and Vitrius. "Confunded," he mouths.

"What are you trying to tell your accomplices, Grindelwald? I'm armed, so don't even think of trying anything…" Sham holds up the twin wands. He does look quite dangerous.

Flitwick sighs.

Vitrius motions to Hamry, gesturing at the crumpled form of Professor Grubb on the floor. "I don't think poor Miriam even had time to draw…. Never was any good at dueling."

* * * *

"I placed a Confundus Charm on the Unspeakable…. He now believes a member of your staff is me, disguised by a Polyjuice Potion. I broke into the school yesterday, using a Vanishing Spell…. And a few other tricks." Grindelwald curses down another Dumbledore, the false professor fading into more blue smoke.

"While the Unspeakable was deep in an enchanted sleep, I stole a paper with his handwriting on it," Grindelwald says as he lines up another Dumbledore with his wand and curses it. "I copied his handwriting to lure you to the Astronomy Tower."

A Dumbledore rises up in front of Grindelwald suddenly, wand at the ready. The Dark wizard reacts instantly, uttering an incantation. "CONGLACIO!"

A brilliant bolt of blue light lances through the Dumbledore, which turns out to be an illusion - the last one. A wave of cold so intense, the real Dumbledore can feel a chill 20 meters away. The curse stops only when it strikes the Divination Tower, instantly encasing it in a crystal-hard shell of bluish ice.

"Ferio!" The voice is not magically amplified, but it carries like a musical note…. Twin streaks of whitish yellow light thud into Grindelwald. The first hits him in the legs with such force that the Dark wizard flips over in the air. The second slams into the back of Grindelwald's head like a sledgehammer. He rights himself, and is obviously in quite bad pain, but smiles-a crazy smile, with a mad look in his eye. He sounds gleeful as he screams, "YES! A WORTHY OPPONENT!"

The Dark wizard wheels around, then looks down, to see Dumbledore diving away under the power of his flying spell. "FULGURIO!" Grindelwald smiles as he watches Dumbledore. There is a slight possibility of dodging his favorite curse, the Glacier - but this new one is impossible to avoid.

Dumbledore smells the ozone in the air, the odor of a thunderstorm, and realizes what is coming. He speaks an incantation breathlessly, ("Pertica Metallum") and even as he feels the conjured steel rod in his hand, there is a deafening thunderclap, a flash of light, his hand leaves the metal, and-

Electrical energy races down the metal that Dumbledore's hand recently vacated. The rod is blackened immediately, and Dumbledore can smell it frying, can feel the heat, his long hair stands on end, and it's over as quickly as it came, the charred metal dropping to the ground over 45 meters below.

Grindelwald, as you may guess, is beside himself with killing giddiness. His wand stays unerringly pointed at his most worthy foe, he shouts, "CONGLACIO!" Dumbledore hears the Dark wizard's giant voice, and counters with a Fire Sphere Charm: "Pyro Circumplico!" A smothering heat, and a wreath of flames surrounds Dumbledore, burning in midair.

Cold, an unimaginable freezing cold soaks the professor to his very bones, but the curse misses him. Dumbledore has an idea; while the short lived Fire Sphere putters out, he cries "Accio!" and flies toward Grindelwald.

* * * *

Fibbius Sham's dual wands wave menacingly at Flitwick, really at everyone. The Confunded and paranoid Unspeakable looked on the verge of doing something crazy. Someone returning to consciousness shifts on the floor, apparently unaware of the danger.

"I'm warning you," Sham said, his voice filled with a deadly calm. The professors look around, panicked, which the jumpy Sham saw as some sort of offensive action. "Stupefy!" he shouts, but at the same time a diminutive figure leaps up from the floor where she had been crouching and yells "Expelliarmus!" in a shrill voice, clutching - a wand.

Jets of red light blast from Sham's twin wands; one of them strikes the wall behind Headmaster Dippet, who shouts, the other hits Kettleburn in the arm - splintering the magic prosthetic construct. Meanwhile, a bolt from the wand of the witch hits Sham, who is already beginning a shield spell, full in the chest, rocking the Unspeakable backwards and causing the twin wands to soar across the room and bounce off opposite walls. The inspector/Unspeakable tripps over his own robes and hits his head on the wall behind him.

Those staff members still standing can only wonder at the sight of timid Professor Grubb holding her wand with both hands in front of her, eyes screwed tightly shut. One eye slowly peeks open, the other following. The Herbology Professor stares in even greater amazement than her colleagues had for her at the Unspeakable crumpled against the wall. Finally, she turns to regard her friends.

Noticing that everyone was staring at her, Miriam Grubb says the first thing that came to mind: "What?"

* * * *

Grindelwald sees the flames dissipate around Albus Dumbledore. The Transfiguration teacher will not escape this time - Grindelwald had never, ever used the Killing Curse. It was too easy, too simple - no challenge.

But, quite frankly, Albus Dumbledore is turning out to be more of a challenge than Grindelwald was prepared to handle.

The Dark wizard aims impeccably, his wand lines up, his eyes flash, he grins, and he savors the moment, the words on his lips, "AVADA KEDAVRA!" The green light streaks from the end of his wand, it strikes the foolish Transfiguration teacher in the chest, the light in the professor's eyes fades, Albus Dumbledore dies. Exquisite.

* * * *

This is the moment Albus Dumbledore has come to relive through the Pensieve. Flying above the Hogwarts of his memories, he watches the scene carefully, especially this climax. He is watching the eyes that are an exact copy of his own, even 50 years later…

He is searching those eyes, those dying eyes, for a definite flash of sentience, or perhaps the dull gleam confirming that the dying Dumbledore copy was already devoid of mind and spirit, simply a fleshy simulacra…

This is the moment….

And he is still not sure what he sees.

* * * *

A thought struggles in Grindelwald's mind: too easy. Too easy to kill the foe, to kill the Transfiguration teacher-

TRANSFIGURATION TEACHER! A blazing fire of awareness lights in the Dark wizard's mind.

Grindelwald wheels, there he is, Albus Dumbledore, his most worthy foe, and there are words already on his lips…. "Cuniculus!" And he reaches for his wand, but his hand is too small, getting smaller, he cannot grasp the wand with his-paw!

Albus Dumbledore casts a second spell, "Stupefy!" and swoops to catch the swooning body of Grindelwald, a body that is not Grindelwald's true form, a body that cannot do anyone harm (except maybe cabbage)-a small, brown rabbit.

Down on the ground, 40 meters below, a blue flowerpot with a cheery cloud pattern is shattered on the steps of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and a steady rain begins to fall.

* * * *

Albus Dumbledore surfaced from the Pensieve. He regarded the pottery shard on his desk, as he did earlier that eve, and remembered eyes that are the same intense color of blue…

His own eyes.

He remembered his own eyes staring back at him as the curse hit his double, and though the Pensieve shows him every detail, this is something he is never sure of: What did he - does he - see in those eyes? Was it only his imagination, or had a brief flicker of awareness, recognition, acceptance, been present there? Dumbledore did not know.

The aging Headmaster stood, and looked out the window onto the Hogwarts grounds. His reflection was in the glass; he searched its eyes, but found only searching. And then he saw that this memory is like an Erised… it will trap him should he brood on it. Perhaps he should be content in his uncertainty.

Dumbledore turned back to his desk and placed the shard in a dusty drawer. He almost collapsed in the soft chair, suddenly a very old man.

He smiled as he heard the phoenix song, and closed his eyes. Fawkes sung his friend to sleep.

 

EPILOGUE

Very few things can pierce the heart of the one who will become Lord Voldemort… one of them is fear.

It is as if one of the million shards of that broken flowerpot had lanced deep into the very soul of Tom Riddle… for perhaps the first time, he knew fear, not merely a subtle apprehension, but true horror.

The fear sparked a determination… he would be better. He would triumph where his peer had not, he would make the likes of Albus Dumbledore tremble…. Yet he himself trembled when he first heard the news that Grindelwald, the (then) greatest Dark wizard in history, had been defeated by a schoolteacher.

He told himself that he had trembled with rage. As Riddle's transformation progressed, he gained mastery over his body's responses to fear and other emotions… but that did not stop the small tremor in his mind when he thought of Albus Dumbledore… and Harry Potter.

 

 

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