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Title: The Prisoner's Remorse (1/2)
Author: miss_morland
Recipient: Community
Characters/Pairings: Remus Lupin, Gellert Grindelwald (with implied Remus/Sirius and Dumbledore/Grindelwald)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings (highlight to view): Angst, mind-fuck.
Wordcount: ~ 14 000 words
Summary: After Sirius Black's betrayal, Professor Dumbledore finds work for Remus Lupin as a prison guard in Nurmengard, where there are quite a few things to be learned.
Author's Notes: I'm glad you picked this prompt, mctabby, as I've been wanting to write this story for a long time -- I hope you'll enjoy the result. Many thanks to my beta reader, who knows how much I appreciate her help. <3



I.

The portraits all seemed to be asleep -- at least, they did not look up when Remus entered the room, for which he was grateful, even if Dumbledore probably had stressed the need for their discretion. The Headmaster himself was standing by the window; when the door opened, he turned around sharply.

"My dear Remus," he said, crossing the floor to shake hands. "Do come in. Sit down."

The November morning was still dark outside the windows. Remus sat down in front of Dumbledore's desk, keeping his eyes downcast. He did not long for this conversation at all, did not care to hear Dumbledore's condolences. But there was nothing else for him to do.

Dumbledore sat down as well, his elbows on the table, fingertips lightly resting against one another. Memories of other, earlier, conversations came unbidden to his mind, and Remus shuddered, curling his hands to keep them from shaking.

"I am sorry," Dumbledore said, breaking the silence at last. Remus nodded. He'd expected as much.

"It's a terrible thing, indeed, that something so wonderful as Voldemort's downfall should demand such terrible sacrifices." Dumbledore inclined his head. "Nevertheless, those of us who survived must do what we can to restore order, and to keep similar horrors from happening in the future."

Remus nodded again, wondering -- not for the first time -- what Dumbledore could possibly want. For once, there were no important tasks at hand, and even if there had been one, Remus didn't feel up to it. He was a survivor, yes, but that was all he was; even his self-respect, what little he'd had, was taken from him.

Perhaps he'd been summoned so as to make sure he wouldn't do anything. Remus felt his mouth curling at the thought. It wasn't as if he'd never thought of it -- of course he had, now more than ever -- but sixteen years of being cursed had made him surprisingly good at clinging to his own existence, no matter how pitiful. He was a survivor, if not anything else. The Headmaster need not be afraid.

Dumbledore cleared his throat.

"I trust you have heard of Gellert Grindelwald?"

Surprised, Remus looked up. "Of course."

"Then you will know, I am sure, of his reign of terror, which not only lasted for several years, but which also changed the face of wizarding Europe forever." There was a hint of steel in the Headmaster's voice, and his smile was harder than usual.

"I was summoned to duel him -- nobody else was up for the task, if you will excuse my speaking bluntly -- and thanks to luck and a skill that was slightly greater than his, I was able to bring him down. Still, the damage could not be wholly undone, as you well can imagine -- the chaos was too great. It took decades to re-establish balance in most of the countries who'd been involved. If we are lucky, we may still be able to restore Britain from the damage inflicted upon her by Voldemort, but the scars Grindelwald left will never truly fade."

"I see," Remus said, although he wasn't sure he did. He hesitated a little, then added, "Grindelwald's been in prison for almost forty years, hasn't he?"

"He has," Dumbledore answered. "The prison he himself built, at that. It is a sinister building, as is to be expected, and desolate; the nearest village is over forty miles away." He paused, peering at Remus over the rim of his glasses, almost as if he was hesitating -- but that didn't seem likely at all. "But the scenery is rather breath-taking."

Remus said nothing.

"You will forgive me," Dumbledore said, "if I say that your prospects at the moments seem rather bleak. Your work for the Order has been invaluable; unfortunately, I'm unable to offer you the pension you would have in a proper army." A pause. "I understand that you have been supported for the last two years?"

His knuckles went white. With an effort he uncurled his hands, slowly. "Yes."

"I'm sorry," Dumbledore said again, in a simple tone that neither belied nor confirmed his words. "It is a harsh world indeed, that leaves its heroes to rot in the dust."

There was a silence for a few minutes. Morning light was starting to seep into the office, falling directly onto Remus's boots, rendering visible every mark and stain.

"To put it simply," Dumbledore finally went on, "you are unemployed, without any means to get by financially. There isn't much to be done about this, at least not now -- my influence can only go so far, I'm afraid -- not in Britain, at any rate..." Another pause. "As it happens, my contacts abroad tell me there is a post available as a prison guard in Nurmengard at the moment; one of the guards is taking some months off due to personal problems."

Dumbledore looked him straight in the eye. "I would like to offer you my assistance in procuring the post, should you be interested."

"Me?"

Remus blinked, feeling a wild urge to laugh. Of all the things Dumbledore could have proposed, the idea that he should go abroad to spend time around an imprisoned ex-dictator seemed the most ludicrous; still, the blue eyes staring into his own were completely serious.

He licked his lips, hesitantly. "I have absolutely no experience doing that kind of work."

Dumbledore waved a dismissive hand. "You will learn quickly enough."

"I don't speak..." He frowned, trying to remember the prison's location. "...German?"

"It is an international prison," Dumbledore said. "They all know English."

He folded his hands on the table, leaning forward. "It is a steady job, Remus. You will be handsomely paid for a year -- if you are careful with the money, it will sustain you for quite a bit of time after your tenure. There is nobody there who knows you, nobody to remind you of the past. Think of it as a chance to get away for a time, to clear your mind."

Remus felt his mouth curl again, twisting into a bitter smile. "And what about my -- condition?"

"It should be easy enough to make some arrangements for that," Dumbledore said, waving his hand again. "I will speak to them."

The prospect was still strange, but not wholly unappealing -- at least, it wasn't more unappealing than the thought of staying here, trapped in the landscape of memories. "I'm not sure..."

"If the thought of being so close to Grindelwald troubles you..." Dumbledore paused. "The reports I have received, tells me that he is thoroughly subdued. After having spent forty years as a prisoner, I can't imagine he'd be giving you any sort of problems."

It was the implication of cowardice, more than anything else, that settled the matter. Remus raised his chin defiantly. "I'll do it."

"Splendid," Dumbledore said, leaning back in his chair. The morning light hit his half-moon spectacles, making it impossible to see his eyes. "Splendid. I will write to them straight away."

As he was about to leave, Remus hesitated in front of the door. "Tell me, Headmaster... Why are you so invested in this?"

He hadn't really expected an answer, at least not a straight-forward one. Therefore, it came as a surprise when Dumbledore, who'd risen to bid him farewell, took off his glasses, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "There is some amount of personal feeling attached, one might say."

Remus waited.

"I chose not to kill him, back then," Dumbledore said. "I wanted to spare him, so I made sure he was locked up in his own prison -- not only as a sort of contrapasso, a punishment fitting the crime, but also to give him a chance to repent. I refused to believe a single person could be capable of so much evil, without also being able to regret it." Putting his glasses back on, he sighed. "I suppose I'd like to hear, from someone I trust, whether or not I was right."

A strange shudder ran through Remus then, although he couldn't say why. Nodding silently in response, he opened the door to leave.


II.

Desolate, Dumbledore had called it, and that was true: high up in the mountains, just below the tree line, the prison loomed, a stern and lonely fortress.

Although he'd seen photographs of the building, Remus wouldn't have expected it to be so beautiful in real life: black and towering, indeed, but with tall glass windows on every surface, elegant columns and slender lines, so unlike the harshness of Azkaban that it took his breath away for a moment.

But that beauty only rendered it more sinister, as if the prison itself was mocking the countless souls who'd perished within its walls, and Remus shuddered, picking up his suitcase from where he'd sat it down and starting to walk.

The Portkey had taken him to a spot just outside the prison gate. He wondered briefly about the absence of protective wards, before remembering that most of them had been taken down some years ago -- the prison's board had decided that there was no longer any risk of being attacked by any of Grindelwald's old followers. Only the Muggle-repelling charms remained; he felt them as a chill to his skin as he walked through the gate.

Once past the gate, the lane led straight to the entrance about a hundred metres away; above the entrance, Remus could see the outline of weathered letters, which he knew must be Grindelwald's old motto, 'For the Greater Good'. The prison looked even more intimidating up close, and he clenched his teeth, bowing his head and walking determinedly on.

Someone had come out to greet him. When he drew closer, he saw that it was a woman, tall and thin, wearing brown robes, her hair in a bun. Her face, as she descended to shake his hand, was friendly, but strict.

"You must be Mr. Lupin," she said. "Welcome. I am Mrs. Anna Schultz, head governess of this place."

She seemed to be in her sixties, which meant that she must have been young during Grindelwald's regime. As she turned to walk inside, Remus noticed that her gait was a little uneven, even though she walked briskly otherwise.

The hall was smaller than the formidable doors would suggest. Mrs. Schultz lead the way down a hallway to the left, the clicking of shoes the only sounds audible between the thick, white-painted walls.

"My office," she said at last, stopping to open a broad door.

It was strange, almost surreal, to think that Grindelwald himself must have been to this room when visiting the prison at the height of his powers -- although not as strange, of course, as the fact that the man himself was somewhere in the very same building... But that part was almost unfathomable, and Remus had so far avoided thinking too much about it.

Now, as he accepted a seat in front of the large oak desk behind which Mrs. Schultz was taking place, he could not help finding the thought fascinating.

"I have received a letter from Albus Dumbledore," Mrs. Schultz said, giving a flick of her wand. A drawer opened promptly, a piece of parchment soaring up into her outstretched hand. "He assures me you are most diligent."

Remus forced himself to smile. "I try my best."

"No experience from this kind of work?"

"I'm afraid not."

She nodded, grimly. "I hope you will not mind my saying this, Mr. Lupin, but I am a little concerned. You seem quite young to be dealing with such a responsibility."

"Well," Remus said tentatively, "I was under the impression that the security level isn't what it once was."

"Very true," said Mrs. Schultz. "As I am sure you know, Nurmengard has been reserved for war prisoners ever since '45, Gellert Grindelwald himself being the most note-worthy of these. But the others have passed away throughout the years, and Grindelwald is our one remaining charge; given his age and general loss of magical ability ever since his downfall, we do not consider him much of a threat anymore. However..."

She paused, biting her lip, before looking him straight in the eye. "Mr. Lupin, our prisoner has always been a man of great charisma. Even now, in his reduced state, he has a way with people... It is hard to explain, so let me just say this: I would warn against becoming too friendly with him, no matter how harmless he may seem."

The look on her face was grave, as if she thought he'd hand over his wand to Grindelwald at a mere kindly word, along with a Portkey and all of his Galleons. Perhaps he should be offended, Remus thought. Sure enough, he might be young and impressionable -- and not the best judge of character, when it came to that... Suddenly he couldn't help wondering how much, exactly, Dumbledore had told her. The idea made him shudder.

He cleared his throat. "I understand, Mrs. Schultz."

"Good."

She handed him another piece of parchment -- a map of the prison, with a list of the daily routines attached to it. "This will be useful," she said.

Then she proceeded to inform him of his duties. He was to deliver the prisoner his meals and to take the dishes away, to bring him the newspaper and his mail – “We read every letter he receives, of course, not that there are too many of them” -- and to check in on him after lights had gone out.

"We allow him to order books," she explained, "and he gets a delivery every other month. The adjacent cell has been put to use as his personal library, and he spends most of his time there; it will be you who lock him in and out. Any questions?"

Remus hesitated, then shook his head.

"Good," Mrs. Schultz said again. "I will show you your room, and then we will take a tour around the prison, if you are not too tired."

They did as she said: first ascending a flight of stairs, at the end of which were his rooms -- small, but neat; it was far better than some of the other places he'd lived in -- where he put away his suitcase. After that, she showed him around the prison, starting with the kitchen, where he'd be taking his meals along with the other employees.

"The cook and the kitchen assistant have left for the day," she said as they made their way through more white-painted hallways. "They live in the village nearby, Apparating from outside the prison gates every night."

"You are the only one who lives here, then?" Remus asked. "Apart from the prisoner, I mean."

She gave a nod, then smiled, tight-lipped. "And now you."

When they stopped in front of an iron-clad door at the end of a long hallway, the goose-bumps on his arms told him what was coming.

For the first time, Mrs. Schultz hesitated. "I'm sorry," she said at length. "This is... I have been informed of your -- predicament."

He steeled himself.

"The village Healer comes once a month," Mrs. Schultz went on. "I have changed the schedule so that he will come the day after the full moon; the kitchen assistant will perform your duties while you recover. We will all do our best to accommodate you. That said, the safety of the villagers comes first."

She turned to tap the door with her wand -- wordlessly, unless her Alohomora was too silent for him to hear. The door slid open without a sound.

"This," she waved into the dark room at the other side, "is a cell intended for... prisoners with special ailments. It is padded, as you can see. I have read about the ferocity of werewolves during transformation --" Here she shuddered, almost imperceptibly. "-- but I think this room is safe for you to rip apart. We will restore it later, if necessary. As for the door, it will be secured by the most powerful charms available." She looked almost apologetic.

Remus, however, felt only relief. He'd expected worse -- quite a bit worse, although he hadn't dared think too much about it, and the fact that she'd taken so much care to arrange matters for him, filled his throat with a lump of strange gratitude.

"Thank you," he said earnestly. Then, trying to lighten the mood a little, he added, "One would almost think you were used to having werewolves around!"

The grim smile appeared again on Mrs. Schultz's face. "Almost," she said as they started to walk back down the hallway, "but not quite, although this prison has seen werewolves before, back in Grindelwald's days. Some of them were in his service."

Remus clamped his mouth shut.

When they'd entered the ground floor once more, he couldn't help asking, "You have a cook and a kitchen assistant -- no house elves, then?"

"House elves are easily swayed," Mrs. Schultz said. "They are not fit to work in prisons."

"What about Dementors?" Remus ventured, at which she looked genuinely shocked: "Dementors? Heavens, no! Who on Earth would want such creatures around?"

"No," Remus murmured. The large photograph of Azkaban covering most of The Daily Prophet's front page passed through his mind, uninvited. "I've just heard that sometimes they're used in prisons. As.. as guards."

"That seems highly unethical." Mrs Schultz shook her head. "How can you expect the prisoners to reform, if their souls are sucked out of them?"

She proceeded by asking him if he wanted any supper, which he gladly accepted. The cook had left their evening meal in the kitchen; Mrs. Schultz brought it to his room for him while he 'freshened up a bit after the journey'. After that, she bid him good night and took her leave.

The sun had set long ago, leaving the small room dark. Remus ate by candlelight, not bothering to cast any lightening charms; then he went to bed, stretching out under the cold duvet and resting his head on his arms.

He would be sleeping under the same roof as Gellert Grindelwald. Somewhere in the house, the former tyrant of Europe lay resting on his bed, just like Remus himself was. How utterly surreal.

He lay still for some minutes; then, deciding he wouldn't be able to sleep for a while, Remus lit his wand with a muttered 'Lumos', before bending to retrieve a book from his suitcase. It was a monograph on the Grindelwald years, borrowed as part of the few preparations he'd made before going. A fifty pages in, he'd learned quite a bit about the background for Grindelwald's rise, but the man was still a riddle -- the very man he'd be meeting tomorrow, whom he was going to bring meals and lock in and out of a prison cell.

Remus read a few more pages, then flipped aimlessly through the book until he stumbled over some photographs. Some of them he'd seen before, but never really studied -- the famous one of Grindelwald giving a speech, for instance. He gazed at the man in it, at his handsome features, his golden hair, the look in his eyes as he raised his arms to calm the audience, his smile as they, apparently, refused to stop applauding...

This was the man who had squished Europe under his iron heel.

This was the man who had been brought down only by Albus Dumbledore's luck and slightly greater skill.

This was the man he'd be bringing hot soup and coffee for the next twelve months.

Surreal.

He stared at the photograph some more seconds; then, suddenly exhausted, he flipped over on his back, muttering, "Nox."

And the night came, heavy all around him. He closed his eyes, the lack of noise reminding him that he was not in London anymore. He'd left London and gone abroad, exiled himself in a prison far from home. The irony of it did not pass him by; he swallowed a few times, allowing the hatred, already so familiar, to settle deep in his stomach, as he thought about other prisons, prisons which kept Dementors, prisons where nobody got reformed because their soul was gone, never to come back -- if they had ever had a soul in the first place...

Memories from the last two -- no, five -- no, nine years started to steal into his mind, relentless in their treacherous brightness. Against them he had no defence, and so he curled up on his side, squeezing his eyes shut, his hands fisting in the duvet.

"I hate you," Remus whispered into the darkness. "I hate you and everything you ever did."

The tears, held back for so long, came quickly after that, forcing their way under tightly-shut lids; he stifled his gasps in the pillow, feeling his body shake with rage and grief.

"I hate you," he whispered again, when the sobs had subsided a little. "I hate you, and I hope you'll rot a thousand times all over."


III.

Morning found him groggy and sore. He rose at seven, then made his way down to the kitchens where the cook, an elderly woman reminiscent of Mrs. Pomfrey, greeted him cordially. After the breakfast and a cup of strong coffee, his mood was considerably improved.

He was about to start a new job, which would secure him financially for a long time, especially since there was nothing around for him to spend his money on. He was going to meet one of history's greatest, if also most dangerous, wizards. The moon wouldn't be full for another two weeks, the sun was shining, and England was far away -- for the first time in what felt like forever, Remus felt a glimmer of hope approaching his heart.

Mrs Schultz met him in the hallway outside her office. Together, they made their way up a staircase, and another, and a third, until they reached the top of the tower, where she turned to him: "Are you ready?"

He nodded, his heart hammering with excitement and nervousness.

She led him to a door at the right near the hallway's end, then tapped it with her wand, wordlessly, like the day before. The door opened inwards.

"Good morning," said Mrs Schultz. "This is Mr. Remus Lupin, your new guard. I am sure Daniel will have told you about him."

"Yes, I remember," came a voice from somewhere behind the door. "Thank you, Mrs. Schultz, and let me commend your English, by the way."

She waved for Remus to come in, and he stepped into the cell hesitantly.

The first feeling that struck him was some sort of bizarre disappointment: he'd expected some formidable physical presence, some sort of towering villain, some sort of extraordinariness -- anything but the old man sitting in an armchair by the window, regarding him with a small smile.

Then, feeling stupid, he turned to Mrs Schultz, who was watching him with intent eyes. She'd told him the passwords he'd need in order to secure the cell, and a note was placed safely in his pocket lest he forget them; there was really no reason why he couldn't handle this. She seemed to think so as well, for after a long moment, she gave a nod, then turned and left silently, leaving Remus and the old man alone.

He stood there for a moment, trying to reconcile the image of the man he'd seen on the photographs with the sight in front of him. Yes, he could find traces of that man if he searched closely -- the nose was still straight, the eyes still dark and vivid -- but the golden hair had turned almost white, and the once-handsome face was now thin and drained, creased from wrinkles.

"I'm sorry for not standing up," Grindelwald suddenly said. "My arthritis is bad in the morning, especially this time of year, and I am out of my potion."

"Don't think of it," said Remus awkwardly, jolted back to reality by this sudden reminder of what normally constituted good manners. Deciding it could do no harm, he crossed the floor to shake the old man's outstretched hand. The grip was dry, and surprisingly firm.

"Have a seat," Grindelwald said, motioning to a wooden chair nearby. Remus sat down, looking around: despite the size, which was not much to talk about, the cell was not horrible. The chairs they were sitting on and a bed, a shelf, and a wardrobe, a table with some newspapers on it -- he'd seen worse places, and even lived in some of them. Still, he supposed he wouldn't have chosen to spend forty years there.

Then again, what sort of choice did an overthrown tyrant possibly have? At least he'd been allowed to keep his soul, for what it was worth...

Grindelwald's slightly hoarse voice interrupted his thoughts.

"You've come from Britain, I take it?" He sounded casual, as if the two of them were tourists staying at the same hotel. "Did you have a nice journey?"

"Yes, thank you." Remus glanced about the cell again.

Grindelwald followed his gaze. "Alas, this room is too small to receive guests in, properly speaking. But still." He smiled; the expression was unexpectedly warm. "I could be worse off, couldn't I?"

So similar was this to what he'd been thinking just a moment earlier that Remus had to make an effort not to start. "I suppose so."

"Well, then," Grindelwald said, folding his hands over his knees. "I hear there has been a solution to the trouble you have had in England for some years now -- finally got rid of that young Voldemort, have you? My congratulations."

Much like he had back in Dumbledore's office, Remus felt a sudden, hysterical urge to laugh -- indeed, he was not prepared for this absurdity... How could he be? But he swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and replied with a steady voice, "It has taken its toll upon everyone, but yes, we're finally rid of him." He paused. "He won't be going to prison, though."

Grindelwald merely laughed; the sound was dry and brittle, like fallen leaves. "Yes, I've read that he died while trying to kill an infant. An infant! The ways of Fate are unpredictable, I have always said." He smiled again, his dark eyes unreadable. "How is that old vanquisher of mine, Albus Dumbledore? I expect he played quite a part in this struggle?"

"Quite." Remus felt strangely self-conscious, as if there were something almost inappropriate in discussing Dumbledore with this man. "He's very much admired."

"Of course," Grindelwald said. "Of course. But then again, he's always been most admirable."

For the first time, there was a hint of bitterness in his voice. Remus noted it with some relief; Grindelwald's nonchalance when talking about the man who'd imprisoned him for life had been somewhat unsettling.

"Not that it matters, of course," Grindelwald continued. "Admiration will only do so much. In the end, it all comes down to power, doesn't it?" He smiled again; this time, his eyes seemed even darker. "Are you afraid of me?"

Taken aback, Remus blinked. "I -- no."

"You'd do well not to be," Grindelwald said. "But I think you are. I can see it in your eyes: doubtless, you believe everything you have been told about me. You should know, then, that more than half of it is lies, and not even that which used to be true is necessarily so, not any longer. Powerful, they called me -- but that was before they took my wand, making sure that everyone who'd ever approved of my ideas was killed or sufficiently intimidated.

"You see, Mr. Lupin -- or may I call you Remus?"

Remus hesitated for a moment, then nodded.

"You see, Remus, that the old man in front of you is completely alone and quite at your mercy." Grindelwald's smile widened a little. "I am now nothing more than a shell of what I once was, like a toothless old lion at a circus, free for the spectators to scorn or pity at will -- domesticated, like a tamed wolf."

Remus stiffened, barely daring to breathe. Had they told him --?

No, that was impossible. Of course they hadn't. Of course they wouldn't.

"And so," Grindelwald said, "I'm not the fearsome killer I once was, according to your history books -- which, of course, aren't that reliable, anyway." He snorted. "There are those who make me out to be some sort of blood-thirsty monster massacring the wizarding populations of Europe for fun. Have you ever heard anything that absurd?"

"Well," Remus said, not really knowing what to answer.

"The winner is always the one to tell the history," Grindelwald said, leaning back in his chair. "Always. This is why, my dear Remus, school children nowadays do not learn about the wizards and witches who suffered in silence, unable to learn how to control their magic, because their parents couldn't afford sending them to Durmstrang; nor do they learn about the thousands who swarmed to the new wizarding communities I made sure were founded. Instead, they learn about how that evil proponent of change, Gellert Grindelwald, was brought down by the righteous and the just."

The irony in the last words was sharp enough to cut.

"The righteous and the just," Remus repeated. "You mean -- Professor Dumbledore?"

"Among others." Grindelwald shrugged. "He was not the only one, despite whatever he has let you think."

Remus frowned. "But he was the one to finally defeat you?"

Grindelwald raised an eyebrow. "So the stories say."

"How?" Remus asked, intrigued against his will. "You had your army, your fortress, your powers... There's not really any reason he should have won. What gave him the final upper hand?"

A silence followed his words. Grindelwald was still leaning back in his chair, dark eyes scanning Remus's face thoughtfully. At last he said, "That's a long story, I'm afraid, and one that will have to wait for another day when the temptation of a prospective round of chess is not so strong. Now..." He pulled a board from the nearby shelf and smiled. "May I interest you in a game?"


IV.

Nurmengard,
20th December

Dear Headmaster,

I have now been here for almost three weeks, and am settling into my routines quite nicely. You will be pleased to know that all has gone well so far.

Grindelwald does, indeed, seem harmless -- if anything, I think he's lonely, and in need of someone to talk to. He isn't unpleasant in any way, despite being what he is; yet Mrs Schultz warned me against befriending him. Between her warnings and yours, there's no chance I'll be doing anything of the sort!

You wanted to know if he repents. I honestly can't say. Our conversations so far have been pretty mundane, but he did mention something about the history books getting it wrong, what with telling about all the horrid things he did and keeping silent about the good ones. Make of that what you will.

As for myself, I'm as well as I could be right now. Full moon last week was bearable.

Mrs Schultz sends her regards. I like her, even if we haven't had much to do with each other; she reminds me a tiny bit of Professor McGonagall. Please give her my best, and to the other teachers, as well.

Merry Christmas, in case I don't send another owl before then!

Kind regards,
Remus


Hogwarts,
23th December

Dear Remus,

I am glad to hear that you are doing well. Of course, I suspected as much already.

It also reassures me to hear that you are aware of the importance of remaining detached. Some things cannot be said too often, however, so allow me to stress it once more: be wary of anything Grindelwald tells you. With or without a wand, he has always been a shrewd manipulator.

Give my best to Mrs Schultz -- may the two of you have a very merry Christmas. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are in need of my help.

Yours sincerely,
Albus Dumbledore



It was, Remus supposed, not entirely correct that his conversations with Grindelwald had been mundane -- there was nothing mundane about the man whatsoever. Still, it had been surprisingly easy to get used to him, to the degree that Remus had to remind himself that he was not talking to someone's kindly grand-uncle.

But it was true that he'd settled into his routines. They, too, were surprisingly easy to get used to.

The game of chess that first morning had been followed by others, which Grindelwald never failed to win. Yet he made a point of explaining his strategy afterwards, telling Remus how this move should always be followed by that move, how this action would lead to that reaction. He always looked proud whenever Remus made a successful move, following his advice -- and then he'd do something completely unexpected, and Remus would lose another castle.

Remus did not mind these sessions. It wasn't as if he himself had other things to do; besides, he liked improving, even if he lost every time. It had been like that back at Hogwarts, those times when James had tempted him into a round -- and if he could never play chess with loyal, reckless James again, he could at least do something that not even James would ever have thought to do, such as honing his chess skills with the aid of an imprisoned Dark wizard.

Christmas came and went, perfectly uneventful, followed by New Year. Remus made the prisoner's habits his own, for there was nothing else for him to do, and so long days were spent playing chess, or staring out the window -- the view was magnificent, the stern landscape covered in snow.

He'd been there for almost two months when he got a message from Mrs. Schultz one morning, telling him to pick up a parcel in the prison's owlery. The parcel in question was large and square, but perfectly normal, not revealing anything as Remus performed the mandatory checks for curses and Dark spells.

Innocent as the parcel seemed, he was still obliged to open it, but when the paper fell away, it revealed nothing but books -- the regular delivery, he supposed, rebundling the parcel and making his way to the tower, stopping on his way to fetch Grindelwald's breakfast.

Grindelwald himself was awake and alert, greeting Remus with a smile, waving away his food and picking up the parcel of books. "Good morning, my friend. Let's see if the library has been able to meet my requests this time, shall we?" He started to pull the strings of the parcel, but stopped, turning back to Remus. "Would you mind...?"

"Of course," Remus said a little self-consciously, pointing his wand at the parcel. It was strange, how he almost felt guilty for using magic around this man, irrational as it was. The paper fell away, as it had earlier in the owlery; this time, Remus took a closer look at the titles.

"Muggle philosophy?" he asked, surprised.

"Yes," Grindelwald said, picking up a volume and squinting at it, then snorting in annoyance. "Habermas, at that. Although I did ask for Heidegger, for the fourth time. How difficult can it be?"

"But..." Remus wasn't sure how to ask. He cleared his throat. "I thought you were... I thought you were fighting Muggles, back then?"

Grindelwald raised an eyebrow. "And?"

When Remus didn't say anything, he snorted again, but it sounded friendlier this time. Rising from his chair, he made his way over to the door, then turned to look at Remus. "Let me into the other cell, won't you? And bring the books, please."

Although Grindelwald often spent long hours there, Remus hadn't been into the other cell -- the 'book cell', as he thought of it -- more than once or twice, and then only to let Grindelwald in or out. Now it struck him how neat it was, how tidy: a clean desk and two chairs, books neatly lined up on shelves. Some of them belonged to the library, he knew; others were bought during recent years, and some looked ancient.

Remus placed the books on the desk, then waited as Grindelwald walked over to a small closet next to the old books to retrieve what looked like reading glasses. Having found them, he paused in front of the books, a nostalgic look passing over his features.

"They took most of my books, along with the rest of my possessions," Grindelwald said, running a finger over a leather-bound volume nearby. "But in their ignorance, they mistook me for a single-minded megalomaniac -- the sort of wizard who labours over his spell-books with little thought for anything that cannot serve his immediate goals. They did not realise that other qualities than magic made me the man I was."

"Such as?" The words were out before Remus even noticed.

"Passion," Grindelwald said, turning and walking back to the desk. "Intellect. Curiosity. Observation. Reading. Asking. Not believing everything I was told. In short, all the virtues which seem so underestimated in our modern wizarding societies, where obedience and tradition are valued above anything. These Muggle thinkers --" He tapped his fingers on one of the books. "They ask. They consider. They question. I believe our kind has much to learn from them."

Such words were indeed rich, coming from a Muggle-hating ex-dictator, Remus thought. But he didn't say anything.

While Grindelwald took a seat and opened one of the books, Remus wandered a little about the room, studying the shelves. The books seemed to be sorted by subject, as well as by genre, and most of the names were unfamiliar to him.

A black, thin book without a title on its spine piqued his curiosity; he took it out, then almost dropped it in astonishment.

It was a book of photographs in black and white -- a wizarding book, for the men in the photographs were moving. Otherwise, it would have been hard to tell, as they wore neither robes nor Muggle clothing.

Remus stared at the photographs, feeling his cheeks flush. For a long time, he'd tried to forget, but the memories of pleasure had proved themselves unyielding: he could wake up in the middle of the night, panting and sweating from a dream in which he was still back in London, before. The pictures made him ache shamefully, yet he was unable to put the book away.

"Pretty, aren't they?"

Grindelwald was looking up from his book, his smile a little too knowing. "Of course, I haven't had a look for years. Such things are of little interest to me nowadays."

Remus slammed the book shut, then put it back on the shelf, willing his movements to be calm. Agitated as he might be, there was absolutely no reason to show his feelings in front of Grindelwald.

"Hm," he said, walking over to sit on the other chair. His hands were sweaty; he wiped them on his robes. "No witches?"

"Are you surprised?" Grindelwald asked. Then he smiled. "Indeed, you are. I must say I am a little baffled myself -- I would have expected those history books of yours to seize upon every opportunity to display my so-called perversions."

"Maybe I haven't read the right books," Remus muttered, and Grindelwald laughed: "Quite possible. I never made any attempts to hide it myself, though."

He took off his reading glasses, fixing Remus with a steady gaze which, bizarrely, reminded him of Professor Dumbledore. "Have you ever thought of how even small things -- events, actions, occurrences -- may shape history?"

"Yes," Remus said quietly, thinking of Godric's Hollow.

Grindelwald nodded. "Most people fail to see this. They think everything happens due to some external force -- fate, perhaps -- and that the rules they live by, are set in stone. They don't understand that every journey begins with one step."

He leaned back in his chair, still holding Remus's gaze.

"It is so easy. You are young and full of ideas. You seek to make friends -- and when you find someone who will understand, you tell them about these ideas. They are intrigued. You start to meet regularly. You make more friends, more people who are bright and passionate, just like you are. Before you know it, a movement is founded, and you find yourself a leader -- and after some years, your movement has grown, and so has your power; your old friends are dead, perhaps, while the new ones are too many and too young to be your friends -- instead, they are your loyal soldiers who will give their blood for you and the ideas which you represent."

The room fell silent between thick stone walls. Grindelwald smiled.

"Young people are a race of their own, aren't they? Capable of anything they set their mind to, so honest, so eager, so devoted. Some even more so than others. I always had a soft spot for the passionate ones..."

He sighed, closing his eyes for a moment.

"Anyone can be a soldier; following orders is all it takes. But to believe in those orders, not out of blind obedience, but out of an understanding of the logic behind them -- well, that's something else entirely. I welcomed into my army anyone prepared to make the sacrifices necessary for the greater good; I welcomed into my bed only those who understood what their sacrifice meant. And they were always more eye-catching than the others, as well. I truly believe there is a connection between beauty and intelligence..."

Grindelwald's voice grew fainter, more wistful, as the words faded into silence. Then, opening his eyes and catching the look on Remus's face, he gave a dry laugh.

"Oh, don't look so shocked. What did it matter? I never forced my attentions on anyone, neither did I grant my lovers any undue favours -- it was all about pleasure, mine and theirs, nothing else. Really, dear boy, being as young as you are, I would have expected you to be less prudish."

"It isn't that," Remus said, almost defensively. Truth be told, the thought of the wrinkled old man before him bringing anyone to bed, let alone good-looking youths, was absurd, almost obscene -- he tried, for a moment, to picture it, without luck.

Then he remembered the photographs, the smiling face, the golden hair.

"No?" Grindelwald said. "Perhaps you find it hard to believe I could ever have seduced anyone. Oh, there's no need to protest," he went on, raising his hand, "I should have thought so too, if I were you, seeing me as I am now."

He paused.

"But you did not know me as I was fifty years ago, Remus. The photographs will show you my looks, which most people found fair, but they will not show the essence of what I was: a man about to take over the world, a man whom nobody could resist, a man who knew he could have whatever he wanted -- and not only that, but also a man who knew what pleasures a man's body has to offer."

As he spoke, his eyes grew vivid and his face gained colour -- all of a sudden, he seemed younger. Remus held his breath, listening.

"Common people don't think much of it; for them, it's something furtive, something filthy. They do not and will never appreciate what levels of unparalleled joy a man can offer -- when the hardness of his body meets yours; when you take him; when you, in turn, let him inside... Such divine pleasures, condemned by this foolish, grotesque world!"

He sighed again; then suddenly looked Remus straight in the eye. "But of course, you know all of this already."

Remus's mouth fell open, before closing again -- he was not quite sure what he'd expected to hear, but that was definitely not it. "I have slept with women," he heard himself say stupidly, his mind racing.

"I'm sure you have," Grindelwald smirked. "And enjoyed it as well, I can imagine...? But the one who holds your heart is not a woman."

Racing was not quite the word -- his mind was positively reeling right now. Remus drew his breath, willing his gaze to remain where it was, rooted firmly in Grindelwald's own.

"I'm afraid you don't know much about me, then."

"Very true -- and a statement which goes both ways," Grindelwald said. He sounded almost rueful, this time, even as the corners of his mouth twitched into a half-smile; once again, he was the old prisoner, nothing more.


V.

Nurmengard,
20th January

Dear Headmaster,

I write to give you my news as promised, although there is not much to tell. Little has changed since my last letter; the work is easy, and the prisoner doesn't trouble me. I don't even mind the prison's remoteness -- actually, it feels good to be this far away from people, to be honest. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Best wishes,
Remus



He put down his pen and rubbed his face, squinting at the window, where he could see his own reflection. The night was dark outside, and stormy, snowflakes whirling about in unrelenting winds.

The letter was not dishonest -- not entirely. The bit about the prison's remoteness was true enough; it was a relief not having to be around people who'd known him before. Even Mrs Schultz's stern, quiet gaze did not disturb him.

But the prisoner...

After the morning in the book cell, Grindelwald had been less talkative than usual. Maybe he was too engrossed in his still-unread books, maybe his reminiscing had brought about some attack of melancholia, or maybe he was simply growing tired of talking to Remus -- it was hard to tell.

Nor did it matter, as far as Remus was concerned. Snippets from their conversation were still roaming about in his mind; he could lie for hours after he'd gone to bed, staring into the darkness and pondering.

Of course, you know all of this already.

Was it that obvious?

Of course, you know all of this already.

Some people were able to tell that sort of thing right away, even when there were no outward signs; at least, so he'd heard... But Grindelwald had seemed so sure.

You know all of this already...

A week passed like that, filled with restless thoughts and unsuccessful attempts at chasing the questions from his mind. As Grindelwald had put a stop to their chess sessions, whether temporary or not, Remus spent most of his days in his own rooms, leaving them only when duty called. The book he'd brought with him had been finished long ago, so he was currently reading a Muggle story Mrs. Schultz had lent him about some man who found himself transformed into an insect. It was unsettling, to say the least, as well as hitting a little too close to home; yet he had difficulties putting it away.

When he did not read, he walked about, pausing now and then to stare out of the window, where the beauty of the snow-clad valley met his eye.

Then one night, he had a dream: he was lying on a cold stone floor, slowly waking to darkness. A chill ran through the air; it grew stronger, colder... Then, all of a sudden, he knew there was a Dementor approaching; it was just around the corner, although he couldn't see it yet, and he tried to get on his feet, but there were invisible hands holding him down, and soon the thing would come into view, would bend down, would take its hood off...

Remus woke up, shivering and short of breath. When he'd calmed down a little, he started to realise he was angry -- with himself, with Grindelwald, with the full moon, which was only a few nights away, with the world in general. Damn it, he thought, furious. Damn it all.

That morning, he did not leave after he'd delivered the breakfast tray.

Grindelwald was sitting in his usual chair, calm and impeccable -- despite his arthritis and his lack of magic, he never needed help to perform his morning toilette. Now he was smiling, as if he knew exactly what bothered Remus. "What can I do for you today?"

"I want to know," Remus said, raising his chin. "What you said a week ago, about me -- do you remember?" He swallowed, unable to keep the anger out of his voice. "What were you playing at?"

If Grindelwald was disturbed by his tone, he did not show it. "Sit down," he said gently, pointing to the other chair. After a moment's hesitation, Remus complied.

"Remus," Grindelwald said, leaning over the table to look into his eyes. "Listen to me. I have known many people in my life, which is considerably longer than yours -- I have learned something about the human heart. What I see in you is a young man who is so used to hiding himself and his very nature, that the mere possibility of someone recognising that nature may be enough to break him." He paused. "Am I not right?"

Remus felt as if someone had punched him. Those words -- they reminded him such of something he'd been told once, something that had been followed by other words, more passionate and fierce...

"I think I am." The softness of Grindelwald's voice was so unexpected that Remus blinked; once again, he had to remind himself of what the man was. "I have seen this in others. I know what to look for. In your case..." He paused again, then shrugged. "It is nothing more than I can see in your eyes: your heart, stout as it is, has been hurt one time too many; you hate yourself for ever having been so foolish as to fall in love. Your feelings are covered up, yes, but that very cover is quite revealing on its own, you see."

Remus bit his lip, unable to rid himself of an unpleasant feeling of being exposed. Grindelwald's next words, however, made his jaw drop.

"I suppose it is no wonder, considering your curse."

"You..." Remus gaped. His hand moved to his wand, instinctively. "You know about that?"

"Guesswork, mostly," Grindelwald shrugged. "Every month after your arrival, you have been absent on the day following full moon -- sick, they tell me. It could have been a coincidence, of course, but your reaction tells me otherwise."

Thrusting his hands into his pockets to keep them from shaking, Remus tried to think. Only logic, then -- and guesswork. Of course. After all, he'd known, both from what he'd learned and from his own experience, that Grindelwald's powers had not only lain in his magic, but also in his intelligence.

"I thought..." He hesitated, searching for the right words. "I thought there was some foul play going on. I've heard about that -- some sort of spell that lets you read people's minds..."

For the first time, Grindelwald looked taken aback. "What do you mean -- you have heard about that one? Do you not know it?"

"No," Remus said, some secret part of him relishing Grindelwald's surprise. "We don't learn that sort of thing at Hogwarts."

Grindelwald leaned forward in his chair, seemingly lost in thought, his eyes distant. "That fool," he whispered, quietly. Then, shaking his head, he fixed his dark stare on Remus.

"The magic you are talking about is called Legilimency -- it is a highly complex technique, the mastering of which may take years of practice. Are you telling me they never taught you this?"

"Never," Remus said, feeling oddly defensive. "We do not study Dark magic at Hogwarts, as I said."

"It isn't Dark magic," Grindelwald said, a hint of impatience in his voice. "Like most things, its inherent nature is neither good nor evil -- if one wishes to employ such simplistic terms -- it is something which may be used for whatever purpose, and only a fool would not consider it an important skill to possess."

"But it's mind-reading, isn't it?" Remus asked.

"Put simply -- yes," Grindelwald said. "That's one way of looking at it, although the mind is far too complicated a thing to simply read as one would a book, as I trust you will understand."

"And it's..." He almost couldn't believe he was about to ask this. "It's difficult to learn?"

"Quite," Grindelwald answered -- again, smiling as if he knew exactly what Remus was thinking. "Nothing that can't be overcome with practice, however."

The thought was wild, yet strangely comforting, and Remus couldn't put it away, not now that it had come to stay. Unethical, perhaps, and ripe with dangers, but still so very tempting: it would not protect him from logic and guesswork, but maybe, just maybe, if he ever fell in love again, he'd be able to look and see and know.

Concluded in Part 2

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
eeyore9990
Oct. 12th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
I didn't have a chance when I read earlier, but I wanted to let you know this was absolutely fantastic. I loved the slow steady pace of it and the characters were brilliantly portrayed. I LOVE that you explored where the hell Remus disappeared to after the first war (that really bugs the hell out of me) and really, just... ah. Yes, I loved this.

Rec'd on today's quibbler_report. Excellent work!
miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:01 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I agree about wanting to know more about Remus's whereabouts after Voldemort's downfall, but on the bright side, it's nice to have a lot of possibilities... And I like this one. *g* I'm so glad you enjoyed the fic!
kellychambliss
Oct. 12th, 2009 01:48 am (UTC)
Wow -- this is fabulous so far. So well-written, so taut, so atmospheric. You do such a fine job of making Grindelwald both compelling and mysterious. One simply doesn't know how to take him: he's so plausible, which is no doubt what you intended. And you pull it off so well.

Remus is wonderful, too (reading Kafka -- god, just thing for a depressive loner /g/), and the ambiguity about Dumbledore.

Impressive.

Can't wait for the next part. . .
miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:03 am (UTC)
Well, at least he wasn't reading 'Crime and Punishment'. :-P

I'm happy you liked this first part! Grindelwald is so much fun to write...
paulamcg
Oct. 13th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
From the very beginning I enjoy and admire this story so much that at first I can’t resist taking notes while reading (even though I normally refrain from long comments to anonymous writers). First of all I’m in awe when in only a few brief paragraphs – while keeping us firmly in the current concrete situation – you let us share Remus’s post-Halloween-1981 feelings, and at the same time efficiently proceed to the story about his work at Nurmengard.

This line is a fine example of how an excellent writer doesn’t need to tell us where the viewpoint character is looking or not looking, and what then happens, but instead takes us right there with him: to perceive what he does as the moments move us forward: Morning light was starting to seep into the office, falling directly onto Remus's boots, rendering visible every mark and stain.

Dumbledore’s introduction of the place and the character we’ll visit makes the journey offered by this story irresistible at once. And what he adds before we leave the office increases the intrigue just at the right moment. The first scene is just an enviably excellent and breathtakingly enthralling opening for your story. It makes me happy anew that I’ve remained devoted to Remus fic.

The continuaton confirms that I can trust you as a writer. It’s like magic how the easy flow of your writing makes me more and more fascinated – even while taking me through another office scene, and more scenes which are basically about two characters talking while sitting in a room.

The hints at Sirius are just perfect – quite enough, and I find it realistic that Remus wouldn’t let more to the foreground of his mind.

I’m startled by the weirdly surprising – actually quite natural – idea that there can be an ethical prison in the HP world, and that Nurmengard is one!

Your Remus’s voice – I’m startled to notice when reading his thoughts about how surreal it is to be under the same roof with the former tyrant – is wonderful, so convincingly him as a young man!

And the night came... I assume he knows by now too well: this is how nights come to him, bringing the relentless bright memories. His feelings are conveyed as so real, so palpable when you describe the position in which he tries to fall asleep and how he talks to himself.

In the morning scene again I particularly love the clarity of that paragraph in which you tell us how Remus sees his situation.

What Grindelwald says about parents who couldn’t afford Durmstrang and the new communities he founded... is thought-provoking (and in the end, I suppose also wonderful that you don’t give us more details on the basis of which to determine any historical truth).

At this point, at the latest, I have to confess that I wish I’d written this story – or that at least what I’ve written about Remus’s life after 1981 didn’t contradict this.

And when Grindelwald talks about questioning, and about pleasure... the way he talks – the charisma you’ve given him – turns what we get to share with Remus into exciting events even though we are confined in a room. Your characters don’t do much (physically), they don’t even talk much about concrete individual acts. This whole piece of writing seems to celebrate the power of words as such: conversations on abstract notions – what is said and how it’s said – set our minds like Remus’s reeling.
miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:15 am (UTC)
Wow, it's a treat to get such a long and insightful comment -- thank you so much! *is happy*

more scenes which are basically about two characters talking while sitting in a room.

Hee. I remember thinking, 'Haha, I'm finally writing something with a plot!' -- and then I realised that compared to a truly plot-heavy fic, this is rather... introspective. But if that doesn't stop the story from being interesting, I'm glad. *g*

The hints at Sirius are just perfect – quite enough, and I find it realistic that Remus wouldn’t let more to the foreground of his mind.

I'm so glad you thought so! I love Remus/Sirius, but I figured it wouldn't be necessary to be explicit about the pairing here.

I’m startled by the weirdly surprising – actually quite natural – idea that there can be an ethical prison in the HP world, and that Nurmengard is one!

Well, Grindelwald seems to be quite sane when we meet him in DH, so I thought the prison can't be too bad, otherwise he wouldn't have survived fifty years with his sanity intact... I'm not sure what it was like back when he was in charge, mind.

Your Remus’s voice (...) is wonderful, so convincingly him as a young man!

OK, this really made me happy, because I wasn't at all certain about writing from his POV (although I love his character) -- it's something I hadn't attempted before, but this story just demanded it. I'm so glad you think his voice sounds true!
paulamcg
Nov. 11th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. It’s so good to know that my feedback has been received with joy. It’s also a lovely coincidence that I got to see and admire your very short prose just before this reveal. (I remember seeing you earlier on kellychambliss’s journal.)

Oh, it’s hard to believe that this is the first time you write Remus’s voice. And I’m so happy that someone who writes this kind of excellent and fascinating stuff is a fan of Remus/Sirius! I love (reading and writing) stories about Sirius-loving Remus in which the slash is not explicit.

I’ve recced your story here. And now I’ll be looking forward to reading more by you.
miss_morland
Nov. 12th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
I really appreciated your comment (and I remember having received similarly thoughtful feedback from you on another story of mine, so I was very glad to know you enjoyed this one as well)!

I've always loved Remus/Sirius, ever since I first read Prisoner of Azkaban -- that is to say, since well before I knew about fandom or slash. :-) It's one of my favourite pairings ever.

Thank you so much for the rec! That's so very kind of you.
paulamcg
Nov. 12th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reminding me that you are the author of that excellent femmeslash piece. But have you actually written any (other) Remus/Sirius fics?

I realised that Remus and Sirius had been lovers only in September 2003 when I started writing my fanfic. Still, that was almost a year before I found out that I wasn’t the only one shipping them!

I’d be happy to friend you, and you’re welcome to friend me back.
miss_morland
Nov. 12th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, I've written this one: http://miss-morland.livejournal.com/38856.html

It's adult-rated, but not particularly graphic/smutty (at least not in my opinion *g*)... I do prefer post-Hogwarts R/S in general.
paulamcg
Nov. 12th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
You’ve now managed to tempt me to read NC-17... I suppose I must thank you for that, as well as for friending me.

I do prefer post-Hogwarts R/S in general. So do I, particularly post-Azkaban and lost-years fic.
(Deleted comment)
miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:20 am (UTC)
Thanks -- I hope the second part did not disappoint!

I also like the librarian who keeps sending him Habermas instead of Heidegger.

That was actually an in-joke to myself, because I used to confuse the two of them with each other when I was younger (because of their names, you understand). *g* I'd make a horrible librarian.
(Deleted comment)
miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
I think I've said this before, but I absolutely love your ability to spot details. &hearts
sor_bet
Oct. 19th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
This story is amazing. It feels so canon, as if JKR had written a HP book for grownups. :-) The characterization is fantastic, it's got such a dark suspenseful feel to it, even though everyone is behaving so calmly, and I can totally SEE everything -- you've done a really good job of painting the scenes and the people.

I can't wait to read the next part, but I'll admit -- I'm really worried about Remus....
miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:22 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! 'Dark suspenseful feel' was pretty much what I was aiming for. :-) I'm glad you found the descriptions vivid!
vegablack62
Oct. 23rd, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
I love your seductive, entralling Gryndewald. Reading this I was reminded of much of what I've heard about tyrants -- Musolini instituting pensions and relieveing poverty, how charmin and likeable reporters found Pol Pot even after they knew his history.

Interesting story that makes me want to move on.
miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:27 am (UTC)
Personal charisma is very useful for despots, I think... I'm glad you liked this Grindelwald!
vegablack62
Nov. 10th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
When I read my comment I couldn't understand what I meant by move on. I think I must have meant read the next section. I loved the story. I hope you understood.

I loved your portrayal of Voldemort.
miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
I figured that's what you meant. *g*
kennahijja
Nov. 8th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
Ah, I saved the proper reading of this almost for last, just because I was so excited about it :).

It's absolutely stunning! I *love* your Remus voice which feels just right, cautious, dry, and a thin sheet of calm over a sort of pain that needs to be shoved back to almost the unconscious to be bearable.

This almost broke my heart:

"I hate you," Remus whispered into the darkness. "I hate you and everything you ever did."

The tears, held back for so long, came quickly after that, forcing their way under tightly-shut lids; he stifled his gasps in the pillow, feeling his body shake with rage and grief.

"I hate you," he whispered again, when the sobs had subsided a little. "I hate you, and I hope you'll rot a thousand times all over."


Grindelwald... whoa, he makes the shivers creep all over me, because he's so... effective at drawing Remus into his web... the chess games, the friendliness, the Muggle philosophy and his admiration for questioning established 'truths', the hints that history is written by the victors, the portent silence on the question how Dumbledore managed to defeat him...

And omg, the way he looks right *into* Remus, at his sexuality and being a werewolf, and then dangles Legilimency like a carrot and Remus is too intrigued to refuse because he sees it as a way never to be betrayed/hurt again... I can't express how much I adore characterisation and dialogue here!




miss_morland
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:33 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! Such a lovely review. :-D

a thin sheet of calm over a sort of pain that needs to be shoved back to almost the unconscious to be bearable.

That's such a marvellous way of putting it -- it's exactly how I've always felt about Remus's character, also when writing this.

And I'm so glad you liked this vision of old!Grindelwald -- he's just so incredibly much fun to write!

I remember reading fan theories and speculations (before DH came out) about how Lupin might be a Legilimens, based on some scenes from PoA and OotP, and I've always liked that idea... And he'd have to learn it somewhere, after all. *g*
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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