The Wolves of Paris


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It was not uncommon for Charlus to be summoned to his father's study, but the man doing so was quite unusual when they had already spent much of the day together in the Wizengamot chambers.

Either something of great importance had arisen in the few hours since Charlus had seen him, or his father wished to put him to the test on one of the duties he would one day be expected to fulfil.

He entered the room to find the Lord Potter scratching away with his quill, likely penning a missive to one of many of his associates.

Charlus waited patiently until the wax seal was affixed to the note and placed on a small pile of others that had been recently written.

William looked tired, his expression almost unreadable when he finally looked up and took note of his presence.

"Sit down, son," he instructed.

Charlus did so, wondering why he had been sent for.

"It has been brought to my attention that you were seen in Diagon Alley with Miss Black and that you were rather…friendly towards one another."

That had been weeks ago now, and though Charlus had not forgotten his impromptu outing with Dorea, he hadn't thought such a trivial thing would cause issue with his father.

"I was with her," he confirmed unabashedly.

William sighed, his jaw tightening, but not in anger. If anything, the man was concerned.

"Meeting with her without mine or the permission of Lord Black was a risky thing to do, Charlus," he pointed out. "For the two of you to spend time together in such a way is not proper. Dancing at a public even where I was present is one thing, but this is problematic."

"It was not planned," Charlus defended. "We bumped into each other, and she asked if I would escort her whilst she shopped. Would it not have been improper for me to deny her?"

William eyed his son speculatively.

"It would," he agreed, "but from what I have been told, the two of you were quite familiar with one another."

"What I do and who I see has bugger all to do with anyone else," Charlus returned heatedly.

William shook his head.

"That is where you are wrong," he countered. "When there are two families as prominent as ours and the Blacks, it becomes everyone's business. It shouldn't be. You are quite right, but it is. You must understand the significance of this."

"I helped her with her shopping, nothing more."

William nodded his understanding, and he offered his son a sympathetic smile.

"You are infatuated with her," he said simply. "I could see when the two of you were dancing that you were smitten, but it is beyond that now, isn't it?"

Charlus deflated as he nodded.

"There has never been a union between our two families, and for good reason," William reminded him. "Our politics are too different, our beliefs not in line with those of the other. The reason there hasn't been a union is because there is nothing to be gained from one another from such a thing. Do you understand, Charlus?"

The younger Potter frowned.

"A match with her is just not possible," William continued with a sigh. "Even if I were to give you my blessing, Lord Black never would. I'm sorry, son, but that is the truth."

Charlus felt his chest tighten at his father's words.

"I tried to ignore what I was feeling for her," he assured him. "For the past two years I've tried, but I can't. There is no other that I would even consider marrying. I'm sorry, but that is how I feel."

He expected to meet his father's gaze and see irritation, or even disappointment staring back at him, but what he saw was the ghost of a smirk tugging at his lips.

"I was against the very idea of marriage for a very long time. I knew your mother from a young age, I even cared for her greatly, but when the discussion of us being wed begun between our parents, I resisted for as long as I could. There were other prospective brides, and it wasn't until your grandfather on your mother's side grew tired of waiting for me to accept and all but withdrew the offer that I went through with it," William explained. "It wasn't that I didn't love your mother, it was that I was scared of such a big commitment. I didn't want to let her down and felt that I would. Does that make sense?"

"Not really," Charlus answered honestly.

William chuckled.

"You have grown to be a fine man, Charlus, and the thing I am most proud of. I have no doubt that you will be a better one than me before it is your time to become Lord of our family, but you must remember, what you do now will follow you for the rest of your days."

"I don't see what this has to do with me and Dorea."

"Well, there will be those that will never understand, and those that will even be offended that you did not consider their daughters to be your bride, Lords that have been allies of ours for generations."

"And if they are true allies, then they shouldn't question my decision on who I marry," Charlus returned evenly.

William nodded thoughtfully for a moment before snorting.

"I was given the chance to marry for love, and it would be wrong for me to not give you the same opportunity. If you can somehow convince Lord Black to offer you his blessing to marry his daughter without sacrifice to our standing, you will have my blessing also. I do not see how it can be done, but you deserve the chance at the very least."

"Really?" Charlus asked disbelievingly.

"Yes," William replied, "but there will be no sneaking around, and you must have the permission of Lord Black. If you are unsuccessful in your efforts, you will consider another bride. I already have several offers from Lords who await my response, and you will explain this to your mother."

Charlus grimaced at the thought.

Angelica would have him married tomorrow if she had her way.

"Can we not just elope?" he tried.

William laughed as he shook his head.

"You have my terms, Charlus, and I wish you luck," he said sincerely. "You may well make history if you manage it, and perhaps provoke the ire of more than a few on both sides of the political spectrum. You'd best be prepared for the fallout that could come."

Charlus could only nod in reply.

He felt better for speaking of his feelings for Dorea, but the task ahead of him was a daunting one, and the likelihood of achieving it was low.

Still, he held on to the thread of hope that a miracle may happen.

He had meant what he said to his father.

If he couldn't marry Dorea, then there was no other he wished to.


He watched as Dorea pushed her food around her plate with her fork, her mind miles away from the kitchen within Grimmauld Place. It had been this way for weeks now, and Arcturus had wondered what could have his sister so distracted, but the truth of the matter had been made known to him by Lord Selwyn in his typical mocking tone only this morning.

"Bloody hell," he grumbled.

"What is it?" Dorea asked quietly.

Arcturus met her stare, and he felt his irritation evaporate.

It had always been him that had been there for her, had looked after her when their mother had passed, and their father didn't care enough to do so.

He had made a promise that he would do all he could to make her happy, that he would never see her married to the vermin that her father would match her with.

None of them were good enough for her, but her choice in prospective spouse just wasn't possible.

"You know it can't happen, don't you?"

"What do you mean?"

"You and Potter," Arcturus sighed.

Dorea's eyes widened before they filed with tears, and she stood suddenly.

"I know," she choked.

Before Arcturus could speak, she fled from the room, and the Black heir deflated.

He did not relish upsetting his sister, but it was best that she accepted the truth before she allowed whatever fantasies she had conjured to take over completely.

Throughout the years they had spent together at Hogwarts, Arcturus had come to respect Potter, and was even grateful for what he and Evans had done for Dorea during their sixth year.

The respect he felt, however, did not mean offering Dorea's hand in marriage, not that such an offer would be accepted by Lord Potter.

To see Dorea happy and safe, Arcturus would give every Knut in the Black vault, but in this instant, even the sum of the family wealth would not be enough.

Gold to the Potters, was as it was for the Blacks. It was something both had in vast quantities and would not even be a talking point were a discussion regarding marriage between the families to take place.

No, it was the principles that each family held, and though Lord Potter had always been respectful towards Orion Black, it would be a stretch at best to claim they were on good terms.

"What a fucking mess," he grumbled.

It was not only the relationship between the Potters and Blacks that complicated matters, but the choices of his father and siblings.

With their decision to support Grindelwald, it would appear to others that the Blacks were attempting to tie the Potters in to their allegiance, and that would only create further problems.

Arcturus shook his head.

There were simply too many things against them for even a glimmer of hope that Dorea might just get what she wants.


Minerva's eyes scanned the magnificent map that Harry had loaned her, still in awe at the creation she had in her possession. With this piece of parchment, she could see all the known rooms in Hogwarts, the secret passages that she had not known existed, and every last person within the grounds.

The magic used to create it was spectacular, and though she didn't know who Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs were, she was grateful for the work they had put into this.

With a satisfied nod, she located the boy she had been keeping a close eye on. As had become his habit this year, he was in his dormitory, his compulsion to explore the castle having seemingly been curbed for the time being.

Not that Minerva expected it to last.

Tom Riddle was indeed a clever boy and would know that he was being watched carefully by Dumbledore and the headmaster.

As far as she knew, he had been on his best behaviour since returning to Hogwarts in September for his second year, but she would not forget the truth of the nature she saw within him the night she had followed him, nor the incident with the Hufflepuff girl that had left her quite badly hurt.

Riddle had denied any involvement, of course, but she did not believe him. He was undoubtedly a cruel boy, and cruel only for the sake of it.

Content that he would remain within the dungeons for the rest of the night, she cleared the map with a tap of her wand.

"Mischief Managed."

Minerva shuddered to think what mischief could be accomplished if those inclined to causing it were to obtain the map. The Professor would be run ragged, and Mr Pringle would be at his wits end, a thought that brought a smirk to her lips.

She had always been a good student, and not one to find herself on the wrong side of the professors here, but Mr Pringle did not like anyone as a rule, not even the students that caused him no bother.

Pushing thoughts of the grumpy caretaker aside, she retrieved the letter her parents had sent her the previous morning.

Since the Christmas holidays, they had taken to writing to her at least once a week. She suspected her father really was trying to make things right with her, but also that he quite enjoyed the company of her owl who would return with a full stomach after each trip home and spending longer than necessary away from the castle.

Minerva didn't mind. She was just pleased that there seemed to be an improvement in the relationship between her and her parents, and between themselves in turn.

Her father was insistent that she brought home some Firewhiskey during her next visit, but Minerva suspected that he would regret his decision.

She had checked with Tiberius that it was safe for him to drink and having been ensured by Lord Ogden that her father would suffer no adverse effects, she would relent.

Still, Firewhiskey was not for the faint at heart. Not even Harry could find any enjoyment in it.

She smiled at the thought of the man that had helped bring the McGonagalls closer together and wondered where he was.

She had received a letter from him only a week ago explaining that he would be in France, but as was his way, he had not gone into detail about what he would be doing.

She would bet a month's salary that it was nothing safe, and though it wasn't unusual for her to not hear from him for much longer periods, it didn't stop her worrying.

Harry would always be a worry for her so long as continued what he was doing.

Minerva shook her head.

She couldn't envision him giving up what he did.

She understood to an extent that the turbulent life he had always led attracted him to his career of choice, but there was more to it than that.

Perhaps one day he would continue the story he had begun telling her all those months ago in The Three Broomsticks, and perhaps then she would better understand why he felt the need to put himself in such danger when it seemed so unnecessary to others.


The smell of baking pastries filled his nose as he walked the streets of Paris, the air sweet, but the mood of the French sour and sombre. For once, he had not neglected to bring his translation pin, and had spent day after day here listening in to conversations, learning of what had been occurring across the continent.

Of course, it was the Germans that had the locals so concerned.

With having been busy pursuing Eleanor Summerbee, Harry had not been keeping abreast of the happenings in the problematic country, but it seemed that things had taken a turn for the worst.

"They're even now burning their businesses down."

"It just happened overnight. Windows broken, thugs stopping any customers from entering. They've even got signs up encouraging others to not mix with them."

Those had been only a few worried whispers he had overheard, and it took only a perusal of a few newspapers to learn the truth.

He may not be able to read French, but the accompanying pictures spoke a thousand words apiece.

Once more, the Jews were being persecuted, and it was more than labour camps they needed to be concerned with now.

What he had seen during his first visit to Germany haunted him still, and there was nothing he could do about it, especially with the Supreme Mugwump taking the stance he was.

"Prick," he muttered, sipping his coffee.

The man would be a problem in the future, but for now, he was Federov's problem to focus on.

Harry had more pressing business to attend to, and only a matter of hours to complete it before they struck again.

For the past year, the people of Paris had been stalked in the night by what Harry learned to be a particularly vicious pair of werewolves, twin brothers from Romania.

Dorin and Danut Balan were already wanted in their native land for a spate of attacks, but for reasons only known to them, they had come to France to continue their spree of violence.

The muggle community was in uproar. Not just by the ferocity of the attacks, but the lack of bodies to be found where pools of blood had been discovered.

They were creating their own pack, and Harry needed to find them before it grew any further out of control.

Having investigated the scenes of the attacks for himself, he felt that he was close.

Transformed werewolves did not have the clarity of mind to care about trails of blood, and though each attack had happened in different parts of the city, they all led towards one landmark.

He looked upon Notre Dame cathedral, wondering just where almost two dozen werewolves could be concealed within.

The place was frequented too often to hope to slip by any guard undetected, and the French aurors had combed the area themselves.

Usually, Harry would leave them to their work, but the Balans were particularly dangerous men, and they had asked for assistance from the ICW.

What Harry would find within the famed building, he knew not, but he was ready to put an end to the terror that had gripped the city.

The Germans would still be of concern, but at the very least, they need not tread their own streets in fear any longer.

Drawing closer, he could feel their presence, a tang of blood mingling with the sweetness of the nearby patisseries, faint but unmistakable.

They were here, but the cathedral was full of tourists.

He would need to wait for it to close before acting and doing so would leave little time before the full moon was upon them.

Still, he had little choice.

With his close brush with the ire of the representatives of the ICW, he needed to be careful, if only to keep attention away from himself whilst he carried out his work.

It would not do to find himself unduly interrupted when he was in the field.

To that end, he had vowed to keep his head down, capture his criminals, and move on before his presence was noted.

Besides there was little more he could do until Federov was ready to make moves of his own, and Harry needed to focus on the task at hand.

It wasn't until the sun had already begun to set that the cathedral bade farewell to the last of the tourists for the day, and it was an on-edge Hit-Wizard that watched as the guards went about their work to close the building down for the night.

By the time they had finished and took their leave, he had only a matter of minutes of daylight left before he would likely stumble upon a dozen or so feral beasts baying for blood.

He remembered his encounter with a transformed Remus Lupin at the end of his third year, not fondly, and the thought of confronting an entire pack of werewolves was more than a little unnerving.

Already, with how long it had taken for the cathedral to empty, it felt that such a thing was inevitable.

"Bollocks," he grumbled, unlocking one of the front doors with a tap of his wand.

Much to his relief, he was familiar with the building, not intimately, but enough to know the few possible places a pack of werewolves could hide.

Carefully, he navigated his way around, frowning when he saw nor felt any sign of them.

No, they had to be here.

The trails of blood led to the cathedral.

Harry paused at the thought.

The trails of blood may have led here, but that didn't mean the Balans had need to remain here.

Although they had not been easy to track, the task in doing so had not been made impossible.

The Balans had been bitten when they were children, they had lived with their condition for decades. In that time, they must have come to know the mind of the other side of them, somewhat at least.

"If not here, then where?" he murmured, catching a whiff of the same blood that seemingly filled the air outside.

He couldn't be certain if he was truly smelling blood or if it was the magic within it he could feel. What Harry did know, however, was that the scent was getting stronger, and was coming from what appeared to be a utility cupboard he had just passed.

Placing his palm against the door, he closed his eyes.

They had been here recently, the part of him that had taken to warning him of danger flaring as he made contact with the door, but it was faint.

With a sigh, he pushed it open and was greeted by the sight of mops, buckets, and a variety of other cleaning implements. There were no people within as suspected, just a small piece of fabric that had snagged on the corner of a shelf that housed bottles of cleaning solution.

The fabric was smeared with blood, but there was another smell wafting from it, one Harry recognised immediately.

"The catacombs!"

He felt foolish that he had believed for even a moment the Balans could conceal so many within the cathedral without being detected. They had merely used it as a decoy to travel to where they were hiding.

The catacombs were a warren of tunnels, many inaccessible to men, and many more not having been officially explored.

The Balans were wizards, however, and could get to places the muggles could not.

With a shake of his head, he apparated away, chastising himself for not considering the approach he had been met with.

At this time of day, the catacombs too were closed to the public. This didn't mean that Harry's task would be any easier, but should he be fortunate, there need not be anymore civilian casualties, or others forced to join the twins against their will.

Already, he could feel the impending fight brewing.

With only a nod to himself, he held his wand poised as he entered the dark tunnels, not wanting to giveaway his presence so soon. There was only one way out, and tonight, that would be through him.

Harry had no intention of letting a single one of them escape, and as the sounds from outside grew ever-fainter, he braced himself for what was to come.

He pushed aside the thoughts that most of those he would face were recently innocent muggles who were only acting according to their nature.

Still, what he was going to do weighed heavily on him, and he knew it would for some time to come. He, however, could not risk trying to save them. It would only put himself and the citizens of Paris in danger.

"You're too late," a gravelly, mocking tone called from ahead.

With a deep frown marring his features, Harry rounded the next bend to be greeted by the sight of an odd blue barrier that partially illuminated the tunnel.

It was translucent, and on the other side he could see several people on the ground, in the throes of their transformation, but there was one that remained standing, a wicked grin pulled over his stained.

"Gellert said one of you would show yourselves eventually."

"Well, then why isn't he here himself?" Harry replied, his grip tightening around his wand.

The man before him laughed, the sound a mixture between a growl and a wheeze.

"Do you truly believe you are so important to him?"

Harry smirked in response.

"Maybe after tonight he will think so."

The man's laughter stopped, and he eyed Harry speculatively.

"You believe that you are capable of preventing more than two dozen werewolves from carrying out the will of their master?"

"I suppose there is only one way to find out."

Before the man could offer a rebuttal, Harry lashed out with his wand, a thick, black tendril of magic extending from the tip and snapping against the barrier.

It had no effect, and the man laughed at his efforts.

"You'll have to do better than that," he goaded.

Harry snorted as he twirled his wand, a bolt of golden flames that crackled against the surface escaping, a spell he did not know, but one that spewed from his wand, nonetheless.

It was as though his wand had read his intentions and acted on his behalf.

At first, it appeared as though he had been unsuccessful once more, but after a moment, the barrier began to crack like ice.

"Impossible," the man whispered in shock. "NO!"

With a groan, it collapsed, the resulting shockwave sending Harry back a few feet.

Another crack followed shortly after, but this was one of disapparation.

Grindelwald's follower, whomever he was, had fled, but there was still the matter of the werewolves to tend to, and the beasts announced their freedom with a collective howl.

Seeing an entire pack of werewolves bounding towards him, teeth bared and snarling, whilst he was confined in a space he couldn't move from was not something Harry would remember fondly.

Of course, he could apparate away, or even behind them, but that would only allow them to carry out their orders to continue adding to their numbers.

As unnerving as what he faced was, he would rather this than try pursuing them through the streets outside where he had no hope of keeping up with them all.

No, he had to make his stand against them here, and his attack needed to be swift, and deadly.

He backpedalled as he reached into his pocket and began dropping silver sickles as he did so until the musty smell of the catacombs gave way to the fresh air.

Not a few seconds later, the first of the werewolves rounded the corner, and Harry took the one chance he had to deprive them of their lust for blood.

With a wave of his wand, the growling and snarling was replaced with howls of agony, his coins having transfigured into spikes, stabbing into the feet, knees, and thighs of the wolves, leaving them trapped and in considerable pain.

Ensuring that none had avoided his work, he released a deep breath before approaching the two that led them.

Harry had no doubt that these were the Balans.

Even in wolf form, they were identical, with only a scar that ran from the corner of Dorin's eye to his cheek that separated them.

Already, Harry knew what must be done.

He could perhaps wait until sunrise and attempt to bring the men in, but he was not inclined to do so, not when reinforcements for the werewolves could arrive at any moment.

With Grindelwald's odd man having vanished, there was no telling how long Harry had to carry out his work.

Besides, Dorin and Danut Balan had destroyed the lives of many, and for that, he felt no guilt for putting an end to them.

The beasts continued to whine pathetically as he summoned a few of the spikes that had not pierced through the werewolves' legs, and with some transfiguration work, a silver longsword was soon in his hands.

Wasting no more time, he approached Dorin, the wolf snarling and snapping, but unable to avoid his fate.

With nothing to say, Harry removed his head with two swings of the sword, provoking Danut into a frenzy of howling and clawing the air only inches from his face.

With a shake of his head, Harry delivered the same blows to the other twin, and when Danut's head joined his brother's on the ground, he turned his attention to the other werewolves, they too doing all they could to reach him.

Their efforts proved to be fruitless, and as he looked upon them, Harry realised that as much as each of them were victims, they too were now mindless beasts in their current state.

If there was anything he could do to save them, he would have, even if it was only out of respect for Remus.

He was in no position to do so.

It would be hours before they would revert to their human form, and he still would be unable to ease their suffering.

There was no cure for what ailed them, and their future was bleak. Were they to live, it would be an existence of misery, one where they were hunted, and could even harm those they cared for.

No. It was kinder to them, to the Parisians, and to any other they may happen across in the future to put an end to their misery.

Releasing a deep breath, Harry bagged the heads of the Balans to prove that they were no longer a threat and offered the rest of the pack a look of sympathy.

With only a flick of his wand, the howls were silenced as the spikes lengthened, putting an end to their misery as their skulls were pierced.

"What a waste," Harry murmured sadly as he retrieved the bag that carried his morbid harvest.

At least the twins would be able to be identified, a thought that brought him little comfort.

Not wanting to look at the grotesque sight he knew that would greet him, he apparated away to conduct the final part of his business.


Gellert was enjoying his evening meal when Perseus's Beastmaster arrived, sweating, breathless, and his teeth and fingernails as yellow as ever. The mere sight of the man was enough to any off their meal, and his smell was none too pleasant either.

So much so, that Gellert's nose wrinkled.

"What is it?" Perseus asked, unfazed by the musty smell that filled the room upon the man's entrance.


The disgust Gellert felt all but vanished at the first mention in months of the man his followers whispered about as they went about their business.

None would admit it, but they feared The Serpent, and the Beastmaster was no different. He had seemed so sure of himself when Gellert had met him when Perseus had introduced them what seemed so long ago.

Now, however, he was a pale, trembling mess.

"What happened?"

The grimy man shook his head in disbelief.

"My defences… he tore through them like they were nothing."

"Your defences?" Gellert pressed.

The man nodded severely.

"My wards are designed to keep even dragons penned in, to withstand their fire. I do not know what he did, but they're gone."

Gellert frowned.

He knew little of warding against creatures, but if something was created to keep dragons at bay, it should be able to withstand spell fire.

"Are you sure he did not dismantle the ward? Is it possible that he knew what he faced?"

The Beastmaster shook his head.

"To dismantle that ward would take several minutes for a team that are trained to do it. I do not know what he did, but it fell in seconds."

The man was in awe, and a little fearful at what had transpired, and Gellert knew he had to investigate it for himself.

"You will take us there," he commanded, gesturing for Perseus, Cassiopeia, and Gaulitier to join him.

The Beastmaster nodded worriedly.

"We need to go to the entrance of the catacombs in Paris."

Retrieving a long peppermill an Italian associate had gifted him from the table, he turned it into a portkey.

"We must be vigilant," he instructed. "We do not know if he is still there."

"I'll prick the bastard's balls for him if he is!" Gaulitier declared.

Gellert ignored the German's brash words as he took hold of the peppermill, activating the portkey when the rest of his companions had followed suit.

When they arrived, the first thing he noticed was the unmissable smell of blood, and when he turned his gaze towards where it was coming from, his nostrils flared.

"A waste of life," he murmured.

As far as he could see into the tunnel, the bodies of the werewolves were upright, skewered on spikes like meat from a butcher.

The two at the front were missing their heads, and even those that had accompanied him could find no words to speak on what they saw.

The silence remained for several moments as Gellert inspected the work of The Serpent. When he was done, he shook his head and vanished the transfigured spikes before reducing the corpses to ash with a gout of blue flames.

"So simple, yet so effective," he declared.

It was clever magic that had been used to best the werewolves, and though he knew it already, it was clear The Serpent knew his craft well.

It would take a cool head to attempt something like this, a calculated approach, and precise casting.

The removal of the heads had not been smooth, but it need not have been.

The werewolves were trapped, and the prospect of being caught in the act required fast, not accurate work.

"He slaughtered them," the Beastmaster said sadly.

"He did," Gellert agreed. "Eliminating an entire pack of werewolves is a commendable feat."

He was reluctantly impressed once more by the efficiency and work, but not as much as he was angry.

Once more, his work was being interfered with. Gellert had been hoping that by the time war would break out, he would have the largest werewolf pack in the world.

Now, the work would have to begin all over again, but somewhere not so close to where The Serpent operated.

His jaw clenched at the temerity of the man.

"Why would he take their heads?" Perseus asked.

"To claim their bounty, of course," Gellert replied. "They were wanted men, and these are who he came for."

"Bloody hell."

Gellert hummed.

"You will send for Weber," he instructed. "I want The Serpent found as a priority. Hans, you will ready your men. I want you primed to respond any time he makes an appearance."

Gaulitier smirked as he nodded almost hungrily.

"Shall I kill him?"

"No. I want the word spread that none are to engage him in any form. The moment his presence is made known, I wish to be informed immediately. I will deal with him myself."

With his commands given, Gellert apparated away and returned to his study where he began consulting his maps.

The Serpent had been gone for months, and a part of him thought that perhaps he had been killed or had even thought better of his chosen path.

Evidently not, and Gellert could not allow his transgression to continue.

No, he would need to be dealt with accordingly before he could do any more damage than he already had.


It was not often that one of the very few people the Flamels welcomed in their home arrived unannounced. Albus had done it recently when he'd needed to vent his fears about his former friend, but Harry had not done it before.

Not until now at least.

For a moment, Nicholas took in his appearance, his deflated posture, the unblinking eyes, and the same lost expression he'd had the very first time he'd met the boy a little over three years ago.

Whatever Harry was feeling was not something he could hide.

What had happened, Nicholas could only guess, but it was important to Harry, and had upset him considerably.

"Would you like to come through to the library?" the alchemist asked.

Harry nodded and followed him through the halls of the home. Perenelle was currently attending to her plants in one of the greenhouses, so they would have time before she returned to the house.

"What happened?" Nicholas pressed gently.

Harry released a deep breath.

"I was hunting a pair of werewolves here in France. They were wanted in Romania but had arrived here months ago and had been turning local muggles to build a pack."

Nicholas nodded his understanding and waited for Harry to continue.

"I found them, but not until tonight, and I was put in a position where I had to either kill the entire pack or let them live and they be forced to work for Grindelwald. When I found them, they were already transforming, and someone who worked for him was there to make sure they were released to attack the city."

"I see," Nicholas sighed. "What decision did you make?"

"I killed them," Harry answered candidly. "Grindelwald's man fled, and I didn't know if he would come back with reinforcements. I couldn't wait for them to change back, and I couldn't risk them being used by him."

Nicholas placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"Then it seems to me that you might the right decision."

"Did I?"

Nicholas nodded.

"What else could you have done, Harry? If you would have waited, you could have put yourself in danger. If you would have tried to transport them whilst they were in their beast form, you would have been in danger. You made the right decision," Nicholas reiterated. "It was an unpleasant one, but I believe the right one. Do you feel guilty for the ones that were turned against their will?"

"I do," Harry confirmed sadly. "Maybe it is because I knew a werewolf once and I saw how much he suffered because of his condition. He was a kind man, a coward in many ways, but I considered him a friend. I also saw him as a wolf, and there was nothing of the man I knew within the creature. What if I killed kind people tonight who were innocent but not in control of that other part of them?"

Nicholas empathised with the boy and gave his shoulder a squeeze before releasing it.

"Were any of them in their human form when you killed them?"

Harry shook his head.

"Then it was not kind and innocent people you killed, but beasts that would have harmed others without thought. You saved more lives than you took, Harry, and that is what you must focus on. I have lived through many wars, and I have seen great men have to make decisions that mean death for some, but life for many more. If you insist on fighting Grindelwald, there will be more of these choices to make. Of that, I have no doubt. Regardless of how good a wizard you are or will grow to be, you cannot save everyone, Harry. No one can."

"I know," Harry murmured.

"If what you say is coming indeed does then you must understand that," Nicholas said firmly. "These choices are not easy ones, but so long as you know that you made the right one, then you must not allow them to weigh you down. If you feel that there are things to atone for, then do so in whatever way helps, but do not dwell on things too long, Harry. A heavy conscience will be to your own detriment when it causes you to hesitate when you must be certain."

Harry nodded thoughtfully, and Nicholas felt that he was getting through to him before a despondent look washed over him.

"He has the wand."

"The wand?"

"The Elder wand," Harry clarified. "He took it from Gregorovitch."

"And that concerns you," Nicholas stated.

Harry shook his head.

"Not as much as it should," he replied. "He has it, and I know that it is a powerful artefact, as are the cloak and stone, but it is not unbeatable as the legends say. Gregorovitch himself confirmed that Grindelwald took it from him and there was nothing he could do about it. I think there is more to the wand than is known."

"Undoubtedly," Nicholas agreed. "What are your thoughts on it?"

"I think that the wand can either recognise a stronger wizard than the one that holds it and that it can choose to allow the user to be defeated or that it cannot be wielded in the way it is intended unless it is held by someone it was created for."

"The Peverells, or someone with their blood," Nicholas said thoughtfully. "It is only a theory, but you might be right. What makes you think that?"

Harry said nothing for a moment as he removed the chain around his neck that the Gaunt family ring was looped on.

"What do you feel when you hold this?" he asked.

Nicholas accepted the relic and frowned as he weighed it up in his palm.

"I can feel something, but no more than I would from any other magical artefact of its age."

"So, you do not feel the cold emanating from it, almost like the magic is speaking to you?"

Nicholas shook his head.

"What does it say?" he questioned curiously.

"It doesn't speak with words, but it wants me to use it. The cloak is the same, but I never noticed it before because that was how it always felt."

"My, that is interesting," Nicholas whispered. "The magic of the Hallows is calling to you."

"I think so. I do not know what it means, but I am related to the Peverells. My ancestor owned the cloak," Harry reminded him.

"Indeed," Nicholas muttered. "Perhaps they recognise your blood, or your magic, or both."

Harry shrugged as Nicholas handed him the ring back.

"Do you wish to obtain the wand?"

"I don't have much use for it," Harry replied honestly. "Gregorovitch checked my wand and he said that my bond with it is deep. Even tonight, it felt as though it helped me when I needed it. I don't think even the Elder wand could match my own."

"So, you do not wish to possess it to use it, but to return it to your family where it belongs."

Harry nodded.

"That's it."

"But to do so, you must defeat Grindelwald."

"Or wait until he is defeated."

A smirk tugged at the corner of Nicholas's lips.

"Or that," he acknowledged as Harry stood, though he did not believe Harry would wait for that moment.

One way or another, the two of them would meet. With everything that Harry was doing, a confrontation between them was all but inevitable.

"You're leaving?"

"I should," Harry responded. "Thank you, Nick, for everything."

"You're very welcome. You know that we are here any time you need," he offered sincerely.

With a nod and grateful smile, the young man was gone, and Nicholas remained in his library a little longer.

Harry was a good boy, and what had happened this evening would weigh him down for a while yet, but Nicholas had no doubt that he would emerge from the other side of his grief no worse for wear.

He had met several Hit-Wizards throughout his many centuries of life, but none like Harry Potter, and no other man that he had more faith in to achieve what few others could.

Harry was different, but in a way that made Nicholas believe that the dark days ahead already had a silver lining, a glimpse of a bright horizon that the young man would lead the world to.