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The Pretender
Gellert G. & Harry P. & Hermione G. - Words: 72,577 - Rated: T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 49 - Reviews: 200 - Updated: 11-02-2019 - Published: 23-11-2018 - Complete - by NeverBeyondRedemption (FFN)

New Fic, not proof read but my PC is about to pack up and I dont want to lose it. Tell me what you think.

It had all come to nothing.

Well, not nothing exactly. They were so close, then Snape's memories had revealed that Harry was the last Horcrux. It certainly explained a lot; his unnatural connection with the dark wizard, how he had been able to find the other Horcruxes so easily and how he seemed to share some of Voldemort's abilities.

So the only way to kill Voldemort would be to kill Harry, yet Harry was the only one who could kill Voldemort, which left them in an unfortunate catch twenty-two.

There were, as Hermione had realised in her research after they had lost the Sword of Gryffindor, very few ways to kill a Horcrux, but it only now occurred to her that there may be another solution. Transfer was after all a very different concept to destruction, after all if one could transfer their soul once, could it be transferred again?

Hermione's knowledge of soul magic was limited to the single paragraph she'd been able to find in the library at Grimmauld Place. The two hours that Voldemort had granted them as a reprieve would never be enough to find anything else, even if she knew where to look.

Both boys were looking at her hopefully, she'd never failed to come up with an answer before.

Instead of answering, she turned and made her way down to the great hall. With more time to look around, she recognized for the first time just how devastating the battle had been. What looked like acid burns pitted the walls, several statues had been blasted to dust and one of the portraits tried to put out her smouldering frame with a painted curtain.

Further down into the castle, entire walls had been reduced to rubble and every window blown out. Everything was deserted, but she could hear wailing from somewhere on the ground floor.

She had to take several secret passages to reach the entrance hall; the grand staircase had been petrified. These remained mostly untouched, although she had cast a bubble head charm to make it through the thick smoke filling the one on the third floor.

She found the order of the phoenix in the great hall, or what remained of them. Bodies were lined up in rows along the floor, some moving, some wailing and others ominously still. The survivors huddled around their loved ones, praying or mourning. Flitwick and Madam Pomfrey fretted between patients, assisted by anyone who knew healing spells. Hermione was quick to report to the medi-witch and was delegated to transfiguring bricks into bandages.

It was a moderately tricky task, but once she had found the similarity to focus on, quickly became monotonous. Her mind quickly returned to how to remove the Horcrux from Harry. If only someone was familiar with the magic, Dumbledore seemed to be aware of it, possibly from his darker days with Grindelwald, if only she could ask him.

It hit her like a tonne of bricks.

She dropped her transfigured bandages and apparated away with a crack.

She'd only ever seen Nurmengard in pictures, but they did nothing to capture the reality of the massive fortress. The anti-apparition wards had fallen long before, so Hermione could apparate in short hops from the location of the photos to the front gate.

The doors were ajar, the entrance a tall dark slit in the black stones. Rusted braziers stood cold and empty to either side of the doorway. She illuminated her wand and stepped into the prison.

It was surprisingly simple to find her way to the highest cell. There was an obviously used set of stairs and corridors and so long as she didn't deviate from them, she could make her way steadily upwards without getting lost. It stood to reason that someone had to have been delivering food to the imprisoned Dark Wizard.

When the wards tickled her skin, she knew she was close. Cold blue light flickered from under the doorway in front of her. She paused to brace herself before turning the handle and swinging the door open.

The cell was lit by icy blue fire in brackets on the walls. It was cruelly bright after the darkness of the rest of the castle. Bars separated her from the room's only occupant, who stood facing her, hands raised defensively.

He was young.

That was her first observation. The wizard that faced her bore the same distinctive features as Grindelwald, but couldn't be more than thirty. His icy blond hair was long around his face and almost unrecognisable under a thick layer of dirt but there was no mistaking his oddly coloured eyes. Although his robe was torn and dirty, it had obviously once been well made and the symbol of the hallows was still emblazoned faintly on one shoulder.

'Who are you?' He croaked, his voice hoarse enough to almost disguise his accent.

'Grindelwald?' Hermione asked doubtingly.

'I am. Who are you?' The wizard pressed.

'I'm Hermione. We need your help to defeat Voldemort.'

'Very well, but I want my freedom in exchange.' Grindelwald lounged back against the window seat, his expression one of amusement.

'I am not a fool enough to let you loose on the world again. Help us and I will bring you clean clothes, a proper bed, books to read.' She regarded him as coolly as she could manage, trying not to show how afraid she was talking to one of the most powerful dark wizards of all time.

'Dark Magic can have the most unusual side effects, Miss Granger.' He finally said, Hermione was sure she had never told him her last name. 'This cell is warded against it, I have not touched it since that duel.' Here he paused and looked out the window. 'Yet it is my brother that I miss the most.'

'Albus was my brother – blood sworn. I was convinced he had betrayed me, I realise now that my betrayal was the greater.' The dark wizard finally turned back to face her, approaching the bars so that his odd eyes shone in the light of her wand. 'I will help you, in exchange for an audience with my brother.'

'Voldemort murdered him last year.' Hermione finally whispered. Although she knew intellectually that the man before her was evil, the way his young face crumpled at this made her heart ache for him. He stumbled backwards, catching himself on the wall.

'How?' He croaked.

'He was assassinated by death eaters whilst trying to protect his students.' The Slytherin streak in Hermione knew immediately that she had him. His eyes seemed to flash with a dark fury, and he jerked forwards, grabbing the bars between them.

'Let me out and I'll avenge my brother's death.' He wasn't begging, in fact, Hermione got the distinct impression that he would simply blast his way out of the cell even without a wand if she didn't agree to help him. 'On my magic, my wand is yours if it means destroying the man that killed my brother.'

She nodded and Grindelwald stepped away from the cage as she opened the door.

'Swear it again.' She ordered, surprised when the dark wizard took the wrist she offered. Likewise, his magic reached out and she had to choke down nausea as it mingled with hers. It was twisting darkness, tainted with the sickly sweetness of death, a poison to her pure magical core.

'On my magic, my wand is yours if I can take my revenge on Albus' murderer.' He intoned, staring straight into her eyes. A coil of Hermione's bright magic manifested like a shackle around his wrist and he grimaced as the glow sank into his skin.

'We don't have much time.' She told him honestly once the magic faded. 'I'll explain everything on the way.'

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