No one really concentrated. That was the key issue; when he’d heard the art of sword-smithing took two decades to learn, and a lifetime to master, he’d decided to really apply himself. Studying metallurgy – muggle and magical – basic muggle chemistry, advanced transfigurations and the arcane muggle study of thermodynamics had been exhilarating. Thrilling in a way he’d rarely experienced since that unfortunate incident at Durmstrang.

Sadly, once the preparations had been made, the actual practice needed a paltry five months. Six, when he’d turned to Nippon-steel in desperation.

The man rose to his feet, striding to a window. Muggle clothing allowed a confident stride, commanding heels clicking against solid stone floor. It was strange, how muggles reacted in different ways to certain spells. Officially, no experimentation was allowed – yet the fools thinking they held power rarely exercised it. All it had taken was a single odd reaction, and his focus had a new direction.

“Message from Berlin,” a nameless individual faded into view, his features obscured by the protective enchantments in the quartz crystal. “It’s entitled urgent.”

He ground his teeth. Everything from the arrogant muggle was urgent. From advice on attacking Britain – an endeavor he’d discouraged, to the battles through Ukraine, down to what color shoes? The muggle was insane. But that was his fault, partially.

“Send it through.” There was no point in thinking on the past, He had taught that lesson well. How many messages had been sent? How many apologies? All refused, burned, re-directed. And their talks had gone so well, the only mind capable of matching his own. In truth, he still missed those talks. Debating the finer points of runic interpretations had advanced his comprehension by leaps and bounds, just talking!

A small box glowed red. The man paused before the window, watching carefully as colors cycled through the spectrum until a neutral green remained in place for over fifteen seconds. Assassination through muggle means would be an interesting learning experience, but waste precious hours curing. Yet it appeared the muggle respected him enough to refrain from testing him – refreshing.

The paper square opened in his hand, unfolding like a chrysanthemum. Ah, this was from the other muggle, the Japanese leader.

Perusing its contents took a bare heartbeat. Contemplating the intended meaning, as well as the accidental, stretched his imagination for another heartbeat.

The man took up a brush; manners took minimal effort for the rewards provided. Addressing someone in their native tongue gave a mark of respect any could recognize. The strands of his brush glided across rice-paper, a medium kept on his desk for that very purpose.

Finished, the man blew gently on the ink, then waved a hand over the paper, finishing the charm. Wandless magics were incredibly potent, difficult to control. Naturally, he’d needed to master that aspect as well. The recipient of his genius folded into a paper crane, the result of another wandless charm, flying back into the box. Its recipient would know whom had sent the message, when the crane flew out of its matching partner across the planet. No signature was needed.

Back to contemplation then.

German vehicles, the muggle equivalent of dragons, soared past his window – a step to the right gave him a ground-based view of their armored carriages. There were so many variants, almost as if some twisted mind had copied wizarding tactics. Perhaps that german muggle was actually a squib? The blood tests had displayed negative results, but what other ways could the man see thestrals, resist the Imperius, and react so oddly to compulsion charms? Then there was that empathic legilmancy the man constantly emanated.

He shook his head. Even he would have trouble entrancing a full square filled with muggles. The lack of magical ability rendered more effort on the part of the caster; he could do it, but only through great effort. Yet young Hitler had grown from a fragmentary group to a powerful leader, decimating all opponents in a miasma of charm, arrogance, and misconstrued logic.

And the muggles loved it.

Another shift brought his map into view, the massive construct filling an entire wall. Portions of it matched the table at its side, tiny figures moving along random paths, some stopping others starting, all behaving in ways he’d expected. The armies of Germany were occupying France, although their feeble defense had barely been worth calling a battle. Dunkirk hadn’t quite behaved as expected, but the end result had seen the continent under control.

Russia – despite his warnings – now deployed a full million muggles in the field. Their magical counterparts had not been subjugated under communism, retaining the organization and full training of Russian Battle Wizards. Had young Hitler misunderstood the warning? Generals Winter and Cold were a formidable duo, approaching their third century, yet as hale as their ninth decade. Certain bloodlines carried gifts; longevity was a treasured benefit of a rare few.

“Did he think I would journey with his armies?” He wondered aloud. “Yes, I could crush them. But that would leave the north front open to the Danish, and the Italians still have teeth.”

Left unspoken was His approach. The man that had once been a friend, a companion, a like-minded genius. No one could stand His techniques; His brother came close in pure power, but no one could match Him for genius-level intellect.

Well, except himself. They’d dueled once, and the two had not been able to defeat him. Now, he had the Deathstick, the Mortis Alium. No one could defeat the Elder Wand in open battle; legends suggested otherwise, but those few exceptions had all been written by the victor. He knew better than to believe such obvious chicanery.

“Albus Dumbledore,” the name trailed off his tongue. Once they were friends. Now they were enemies.

“Sir,” the crystal faded to life once more. “New report coming in from France, Champagne district.”

Gellart Grindlewald accepted the report, ignoring safety precautions. ‘New Report’ indicated a personal update. ‘Coming in’ held significance that only five people knew. ‘District’ was the safe-sign for intact security. Wasting time after so many precautions only gave entropy a chance – something he had no intent of doing.

The paper gave statistics, lists of figures recorded. Romans had ruled the world with bits of paper, he could at least keep track of the entire front with them.

“Hmmm,” the numbers told a story different from what the muggle records indicated. “Albus, you sly dog. How many of my men have you been confounding? So much for the moral high ground.”

His gaze slid lower, and the smile grew smaller. “Five divisions removed. Fifteen miles lost, and two crack Assault squads captured. Captured?

Only one man possessed the requisite knowledge to cancel his self-immolation enchantments. No one captured his soldiers. They fought until death, and after death rose again to fight. Inferi, zombies, automatons – the words for the same thing were endless. But it seemed Albus had finally snapped. Good. An angry foe was a man without complete control, a fallacy of the more emotional Light Side practitioners.

“So it begins.” Grindlewald began searching his map. With Albus on the field, they would meet in battle sooner or later – with planning, the field would be his to choose, not His. People so rarely took the time to concentrate.

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