evandar: (Company of Wolves)
Title: Said the Spider
Author: Evandar
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama
Pairing: Gellert Grindelwald/Harry Potter
Warnings: Timetravel, Master of Death!Harry, Seer!Grindelwald, Manipulation
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and am making no profit from this story.
Summary: Gellert is nothing like the horror that was Voldemort; Grindelwald is a symptom of the same social disease, but his is a slow and subtle kind of terror. He’s a spider at the centre of a web of futures, plucking at strings to see how the flies begin to panic in their binds. Harry thinks that he’s beautiful.
Author's Notes: Written for [personal profile] hprarefest. Thanks, as ever, go to S for agreeing to be my beta once more and for whipping this piece into shape – any remaining errors are entirely my own. Thanks also go to R for continuing her dedicated work as a sounding board and for reminding me that I’m still allowed to have fun.

It’s one thing, he thinks, to see a person’s picture in a book or on a mantelpiece, but something entirely different to see them in person. None of the pictures he saw did justice to just how brilliantly blue Gellert Grindelwald’s eyes are, and he’s sure that he only recognised him because Grindelwald’s face is one that – even if rendered in sepia-tones – cannot be forgotten. He’s devastating - and for all that his golden curls and charming smiles might have reminding Harry a little of Lockhart, there’s something about him that’s a little too…sharp.

He feels himself smile in response as Grindelwald slips closer through the crowd. Excitement thrills down his spine and his heartbeat quickens and dangerdangerdanger races through his mind. This Dark Lord is nothing like the one he came back to try and stop. This Dark Lord is –

He doesn’t know. Not really. He’s the beloved nephew of the Wizarding World’s most famous historian; the former lover of Albus Dumbledore; a man who believes that ‘Magic is Might’ and that his actions are ‘for the greater good’ and that his innate intelligence and magical power should grant him the right to the Hallows. But he’s also the man sidling up to Harry in a dingy bar, looking for all the world like he’s on the pull instead of out for world domination.

Harry leans back on his bar stool as Grindelwald slides in next to him. A sickle flashes between the Dark Lord’s fingers, and moments later Harry finds himself presented with a pint of pale, frothy ale.

He blinks. He’d always associated dark wizards with brandy or red wine; drinks that would gleam in sinister firelight. That Grindelwald is a beer drinker is somehow startling and it knocks him, ever so slightly, off balance. Worst of all, he knows that his surprise has been noticed: Grindelwald’s eyes glitter and his smile widens ever so slightly. He looks, for a moment, like he could swallow Harry whole.

“Ah, but I am German,” he says ever so quietly, and with just the barest trace of an accent. Harry glimpses the tip of his wand – dark and unassuming – poking out from under his right cuff as he flicks his hand and feels wards settle into place around them. Grindelwald’s magic sparks against his own, and the warning mantra in his brain grows louder. “But then,” Grindelwald continues idly, “it is not so good to be saying as much in a crowd. The Great War is lingering in the mind, is it not?”

“I suppose,” Harry says. He’s amazed his voice doesn’t shake with nerves.

Grindelwald is calm, almost cocky; he’s traversing London’s bars and buying drinks for strangers, and even as the news from Europe grows more and more worrying, he’s not in the slightest bit interested in hiding what he is. He has a confidence in his power that Voldemort seemed to lack. It’s…terrifying. Magnetic. And if Harry wasn’t so bloody paranoid about the way Grindelwald had locked on to him as soon as he entered, he might have found room to be impressed by it.

As it is…

“You’re very confident, using magic like that around a stranger,” he says after a moment. “In a Muggle pub.”

“I have no reason to hide.” Grindelwald shrugs and takes a sip of his beer. It leaves a trace of foam on his upper lip that he licks away. Harry swallows. There’s a gap between Grindelwald’s confidence that the people around them aren’t a threat and the quiet way he confessed to being German that doesn’t quite match up, but for all that he’s contradictory, Harry is – for a moment – more interested in the way his tongue traces his full upper lip.

“You didn’t have much of a reason to approach me either,” he says. “No offense.” He doesn’t mean that in the slightest and Grindelwald seems to know it, judging by his soft laugh. Harry sips his drink and wonders, helplessly, if Grindelwald has ever laughed like that while killing someone. He probably has.

“A wizard such as yourself is something of a curiosity,” Grindelwald says. “So much power…and so sudden an arrival. Forgive me my curiosity. As soon as I Saw you, I knew I would have to meet you.”

There’s something in the way that he stresses the word Saw that makes Harry’s stomach sink. Gellert Grindelwald, a Seer. Somehow, Rita Skeeter had left that part out of her expose on his dalliances with Dumbledore. Although, if Grindelwald can see the future then it really does raise the question as to why he lost – not that he plans on asking. Not that he plans on sticking around much longer. If Grindelwald is interested in him, then it might be best to give up on waiting around London for Tom Riddle to be born and to move to darkest Siberia for a while instead. He’s sick to death of fucking prophecies. And Dark Lords, even if the one standing next to him at the moment is astonishingly pretty to look at.

“Sorry,” he says, “but I don’t have much faith in Divination.”

“Neither do I,” Grindelwald replies. He shrugs again. “And yet. What dreams I have speak of times that may or may not come. I See futures unfolding in a web around me – some bad, some good, some long and some short and yet. What should happen? A skull with green eyes, marked with my symbol, tears through that web of life and time as if it is no more inconvenient than that of a garden spider.”

“Your symbol,” Harry says dully. He thinks of Krum’s anger at Fleur’s wedding and the way Dumbledore signed his love letters so very long ago. “It’s not really your symbol, though, is it? You’ve not mastered them.”

Nor will he.

“Nor will I,” Grindelwald says, and Harry jumps because he could have sworn that he hadn’t said that part out loud. “They are not, I am thinking, meant to be separated once they are united. And it is not wise to dwell too long on dreams and forget to live – every Seer knows as much. The Hallows are beyond me now.”

He doesn’t look in the slightest bit disappointed by that, which is odd given that Harry had been led to believe that Grindelwald’s obsession with the Elder Wand was near all-consuming.

“So…why are you here?” he asks.

“Because I can be,” Grindelwald replies. He looks over at Harry, eyes full of deadly laughter and his lips twisted into the most delightful smile that Harry almost wants to kiss him. He certainly wants to know if there’s any Veela in Grindelwald’s ancestry because this…this isn’t natural. He wants to reach out and touch and to run away all at once and he can barely breathe from the intensity of Grindelwald’s smile aimed right at him.

“Because the world is cruel and we are lonely men,” Grindelwald continues as if he’s oblivious to Harry’s discomfort. “Because you have torn through countless destinies and changed our world forever. Because it should be the goal of every wizard who studies the dark magics to pay court to Death at least once.” He laughs brightly. “Should there be a reason?”

Gellert is, ultimately, nothing like he had ever imagined. While he fits every description Harry was ever given, it is only in the abstract: he is somehow more than any of them. He is personable and charming and he slips under Harry’s skin. He buys him beers and tells him anecdotes that leave him spluttering with laughter – he’d never thought a Dark Lord could have a sense of humour.

And dark, he is. He’s wicked and cruel and Harry knows it – he knows - but he’s the kind of man you could forgive even as he slit your throat. He’s nothing like the horror that was Voldemort; Grindelwald is a symptom of the same social disease, but his is a slow and subtle kind of terror. He’s a spider at the centre of a web of futures, plucking at strings to see how the flies begin to panic in their binds.

He is beautiful.

The cemetery at Godric’s Hollow is, definitely, one of their more disturbing meeting places. Just down the street is the Dumbledore cottage, where Harry’s parents are going to die in fifty-seven years. The plot where they will be buried is still empty, but he lays a wreath of white roses over it anyway. Gellert watches, but doesn’t comment. He has the hood of his cloak raised over his bright curls and there’s a furrow between his eyebrows as if he doesn’t understand how Harry can grieve for people who haven’t been born yet.

Honestly, Harry’s not entirely sure either. Sometimes he thinks that one of the futures Gellert claims he destroyed must be his own; he feels untethered, drifting through a history he didn’t mean to travel to.

“You never did tell me of your world,” Gellert says once he’s straightened up. He’s perched on the tomb of Ignotus Peverell, his fingers digging into the carving of the Hallows. For all that he acts as if he’s accepted their loss, Harry doesn’t trust him enough to believe it.

“There’s not much to tell,” Harry says. “My parents died and I was raised by Muggles, and I was killed when I was seventeen by a Dark Lord far more frightening than you ever managed to be.”

Gellert makes a displeased noise and rolls his eyes. “I am a revolutionary,” he says. “One that happens to be a dark wizard. There is a difference.”

“Not in the history books, there wasn’t,” Harry replies – though Skeeter’s book stretches the definition and Harry didn’t read about Grindelwald in any others. He wasn’t aiming for this time, after all. He should have accounted for Potter Luck in his equations.

Gellert waves a hand, uncaring. “History is written by the victors, and that history is quite gone. Your fault, I should say.” He grins up at Harry, unrepentant, and stretches out his hand. “There is hope that in this new world of ours the authors might get it right.”

Harry snorts. He doubts it. Gellert is beyond words, and he’s pretty sure that he defies all definition now too. A time-travelling, Dark Lord-slaying, Master of Death with an unhealthy fixation on the way that Gellert “I’m a revolutionary” Grindelwald smiles. No, no matter what they do or who comes out the victor, there is no way that the truth of it will ever be realised in print.

He takes Gellert’s hand anyway, and lets himself be reeled in closer until he’s wedged between Gellert’s thighs and the Dark Lord is peering up at him with an expression that’s halfway between triumph and delight. Harry shivers, fear trickling down his spine, because that expression can’t mean anything good and –

And this is the same trap that Dumbledore once fell into. The same spider, just with a slightly altered web.

Gellert leans up even as he tugs Harry down. His smiling mouth is warm and soft and his grip on Harry’s hand is hard enough to hurt. Harry slides his free hand under Gellert’s hood to tangle in his curls and pull him closer and tries to forget why this is a terrible, terrible idea because quite honestly? He’s not sure he cares anymore. Because the longer he spends in this time, in Gellert’s company, the more he’s sure that his good intentions for coming here no longer matter. He cradles the back of Gellert’s head and slips his tongue into his mouth, chasing the poison that is Gellert’s very existence. Gellert is grinning into their kiss, wild and uncontrolled, and Harry knows that he is caught.

He knows it and yet he tries not to notice the way Gellert is still digging his fingers into that wretched symbol, so hard that his fingernails have turned white from the pressure. He doesn’t want to think that Gellert might just have mastered Death after all.
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