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Title: The Cabinet War Rooms
Written For: [ profile] hilarita, in the [ profile] sweetsaddiction Albus ficathon
Rating: a mild PG, for the unpleasantness of war
Characters: Albus and various others
Spoilers? Probably some for HBP, but nothing too major – this takes place 50 some years before, after all! Written pre-DH
Disclaimer: Anyone you recognize belongs to JKR. Except the real people. They belong to themselves. Or their estates, I suppose. Everyone else exists in my head and can only come out and play if I say so. I am not a Londoner myself, so I apologize for any and all errors. Any mistakes are mine and mine alone.
A/N: The middle of October, 1940, was one of the periods of heaviest bombing by the German air force on the city of London, and much of the area around Parliament was destroyed. The Leaky Cauldron, located on Charing Cross Road, just north of the government buildings, would surely have been effected by such devastation.

Second Author's Note: This story was remixed into Letters Sometimes Lie (the Famous Last Stand Remix) [Dumbledore, Grindelwald, 250 words, rated PG, no warnings] by [ profile] iambickilometer for Round 7 of [ profile] remixthedrabble

The windows rattled in their frames and the bottles rattled on their shelves above the bar. The air raid sirens were muffled through the layers of wards protecting the inn, but their piercing cry was enough to make the crowded room fall silent for a moment, before the patrons resumed their conversations in hushed tones.

In an out of the way corner of the bar, a tall man looked thoughtfully into his glass as he swirled the last of his drink around. He had never been one for divination and he doubted that the dregs of scotch would serve any better than tea leaves ever had.

“Lordy, what a long face.” The man looked up into the plump face of Jenny May. “What’s the matter, Albus?” she asked, and plunked down in the seat next to him.

“In my nearly hundred years, I thought I had come to terms with human behavior. But now I see that I was wrong, and I shudder at the depths to which people – both Muggle and Wizard – can sink.”

“Nearly a hund – Albus, your hundredth birthday is coming up, isn’t it?”

“Next week,” he admitted glumly.

“Naw, lad, don’t look so down. Why, I’ve turned 100 meself several times over and it hasn’t hurt me none.”

“Don’t you have customers to be serving?” Albus asked pointedly, looking down the crowded bar.

“Naw,” Jenny May waved him off absently. “My boy Tom is handing things just fine. He’ll take over this place for me someday,” she added proudly.

Albus Dumbledore looked at the cheerful face and twinkling eyes of the Leaky Cauldron’s proprietor. “Jenny May, don’t you ever take anything seriously? How can you be so blasted cheerful with all – all – this! Going on?”

The plump woman immediately sobered. “Because I have to be, lad. There’s enough sorrow and grumbling and fear and anger in the world as is. People come in here to get away from it for a little while, so I try to give them something to be cheerful about. And if I look cheerful, that goes a long way towards setting the atmosphere of this place. Now let me ask you one,” she said and the twinkle came back. “Don’t you have a House full of young’ins you’re supposed to be looking after? How is it that you’re here, drinking up my best scotch, rather than there?”

“I had business to take care of here. And the students are perfectly safe in the hands of their prefects. Besides, I hardly think Headmaster Dippet needs me there to help him run his school.”

“Would that ‘business’ have anything to with the rumors we hear of a German wizard who is has knowledge of things he shouldn’t?” Albus gave her a sharp look. “Don’t look so surprised, Albus, you may be the most powerful wizard we’ve seen in a donkey’s ‘ear – and don’t look at me like that either, it’s true whether you want to admit it or not – but I haven’t been running this inn since afore you were born without learning a thing or two. There’s a darkness coming, has been for nearly on 50 years. And it’s up to people like you to stop it.”

“Me? Why should I do it? I wouldn’t even know how to go about beginning, let alone leading this fight you would throw me into!”

Jenny May looked fondly at the man she had known for almost a century. “You’ll do it, lad, because there’s no way you could not. You weren’t Sorted into Gryffindor for nothing. Would it help you to know better who you’re fighting for – and along side?” She gave the tall man an appraising look. “Come with me,” she ordered.

Albus meekly stood and followed, having learned long ago that Jenny May Dodderidge would always get her own way in the end. Many looked down on her, the lowly proprietress of the Leaky Cauldron, but Albus knew better. Just because she had chosen to run the inn rather than serve in the ministry – a place to which she was entitled by both birth and skill – didn’t mean she wasn’t a powerful witch.

Casting a quick disillusion charm on the two of them, Jenny May set off down the street, her rotund form belying the speed at which she moved. It was only Albus’s longer legs that allowed him to keep up. Quickly, they moved through the shadows of the nearly deserted streets, until they reached the edge of St. James park. In the deep shadows of the trees Jenny May stopped.

“We’ll apparate to the roof of that building there,” she said, pointing to one of the large Muggle government buildings a few blocks down.

Albus nodded and together they vanished, reappeared with a pop a moment later. As soon as his vision cleared, he stifled a small gasp and gave a sharp glance towards his unconcerned companion – for they were not alone on the roof.

Their pop of apparition had obviously startled the third occupant of the roof, but his calm gaze showed that he was not unaccustomed to people randomly appearing out of thin air. He was not a small man, and solidly built; despite the obvious care-worn lines and dark circles under his eyes, that spoke clearly of too many sleepless nights, his round face gave him a boyish quality, and his eyes sparkled with life. He wore a Muggle suit and bowler, and held a fat cigar in his left hand. He reminded Albus of nothing so much as a friendly bulldog.

Jenny May stepped forward without hesitation and hugged this man. “Hello, lad. Up here for the view again, or running away from your guards?”

“Some of each,” he admitted in a gravelly voice. “I need to see what is being done to my city. The fact that it annoys them is just a bonus.”

Jenny May shook her head. “They’re just trying to keep you safe, you know. They need you – the world needs you too much to let you get blown to bits on a rooftop.”

The man shrugged philosophically and peered quizzically at Albus.

Jenny May waved him forward. “Albus, I’d like you to meet a dear friend of mine. I am honored to present Prime Minister of the Muggles, Winston Churchill. Winston, meet another dear friend of mine, and one of the best wizards I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, Albus Dumbledore.”

“Churchill,” Albus replied with a nod and an outstretched hand.

“Dumbledore.” Jenny May beamed as the two men shook hands.

“You are both standing against the darkness, lads, and two old lions like yourselves should have plenty to talk about.” And she vanished with a pop.

Albus sighed in exasperation. “First she calls us lads, and then she calls us old. Would she make up her mind?”

Churchill chuckled, a low rumbling sound. “We’ll always be lads to her, I believe. She hasn’t changed a bit in the 40 years that I’ve known her.”

“40 years? You’ve known of our world for that long?” Albus was surprised. He had assumed that knowledge of the wizarding world had been given to Churchill upon his election as Prime Minister.

The round man smiled an easy, open smile. “Oh yes. I was just a bright young lad, newly elected to the Commons. Got caught in a blasted storm and stumbled into the most remarkable pub just up on Charing Cross Road. . . Don’t think Jenny May has changed a whit since then. She looked after me then, and she looks after me now. Makes a special point to come see me a few times a week, when I can escape from my underground lair.”

“Oh” Albus raised an eyebrow, fascinated by the endless rumble of thoughts that was emerging from his companion.

“They’ve stuffed me down there,” Churchill explained with a vague wave of his hand downwards. “Basement of this building. Says they’ve got to protect Britain’s leadership. Trying to get us buried alive, I say. I need to see what’s going on, I need to know. I need to remember who we’re protecting. It’s not just about the boys over there fighting, or about that rat bastard Hitler, or even about Britain and France and Germany. It’s for the washerwoman who starts making her rounds here at dawn, the lads who creep out to play ball in the street for a few brief minutes, the business men who put on their top hat and go to work every day, just for a sense of normalcy in these un-normal times.” He shook his head impatiently. “Forgive me, I am pontificating again. An occupational hazard, I believe.”

“No forgiveness needed, sir. I believe I understand fully. We few strive against the darkness so that everyone else may continue their lives. And such a darkness it is. . .”

The two men stood together on the rooftop, a study in contrasts. One, tall and lithe, long hair more white than auburn now, wearing curious robes. The other, more traditionally dressed, was round wherever the first was thin, and held a cigar in hand. Smoke from it curled around the pair and drifted off to mix with the smoke from the fires all around them.

* * * * * * *

[Selections from War-Time Correspondence (H. Granger, editor, Diagon Press, 2045), the new volume of letters exchanged by the Muggle Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Albus Dumbledore, Order of Merlin First Class, Headmaster of Hogwarts. This volume was put together by Ms. Granger, Minister of Muggle Relations, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the conflict known by Muggles as World War II.]

19 October, 1940

My Dear Sir:

It was an honor and a privilege to make your acquaintance on the night of a week ago. I believe Jenny May was correct when she said we had much in common. As I mentioned to you then, we wizards have our own darkness to fight and, Merlin help me, I seem to be the one chosen to stand against him. It is not a position which I would have chosen , but there is little I can do now but go forward. I believe we may share sympathy, if nothing else.

I was saddened to learn of the direct hit that St. Paul’s took the other night, but relieved to learn that the damage was minor. She is a grand old building and a worthy symbol for both our worlds. May she withstand all such future attacks on her person!

If I may make so bold, I do hope we may continue this correspondence. Your replies may be sent by Tower Raven, they will know how to find me.

I eagerly await your reply, and I am ever,

Humbly your servant,

Albus Dumbledore
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

* * * * * * *

21 November, 1940

My Dear Sir:

I received your letter of the 16th and read it with a heavy heart. I can only imagine the choice you had to make. People on all sides clamor for sacrifice in a time of war, but how many of them truly know what that means? Not many, I’ll warrant.

Things progress here as close to normal as possible. The decision was made to shelter the students as much as possible from the War, so little news makes its way into our halls. Those of Muggle parentage have, I believe, a better sense of what this war means. Those from a Wizarding background seem to largely ignore it as “not their problem.” Unfortunately, this attitude prevails amongst adults as well as students. I fear this shall be our downfall some day. But, alas, what can one man do in the face of such great indifference?

Give my regards and affection to Jenny May when next you see her. Many happy returns (all be them a bit early) on your upcoming birthday.

I am yours, etc.

Albus Dumbledore

* * * * * * *

3 February, 1941

My Dear Churchill:

I rejoice and despair all at once with you. Your letter of the 31st was so full of hope that the Americans would finally begin aiding us in this conflict. I sincerely hope that this is borne out. Your address was both optimistic and put that much more pressure on the American government to follow through with this Lend-Lease plan. A very nice bit of politicking, if I do say so. And yes, you read that correctly – I was able to listen to your address! Several people at the WWN are sympathetic to my pleas that we not ignore what is going on around us and have begun broadcasting most of your speeches and other important news announcements. Many here are less than pleased with this turn of events, but no one has managed to put a stop to it yet.

I despair, though, at the events on the continent and in Africa. H seems to grow stronger with each passing day, and so too, does G. I begin to wonder if there is not a connection between our two darknesses. Any here would scoff at such a notion, saying that G would never associate himself with those who were not wizards, but given the depths to which he has already sunk, I do not believe anything could surprise me. To answer your question, no I have never met him. I know him by reputation only, and a goodly reputation it was until about ten years ago. Then the rumors began, foul insidious rumors, that spoke of blood and darkness and knowledge better left unearthed. Such knowledge had been buried for a reason. For years even I could not give credence to what was being said about him. And then the truth became so blinding (to me at least) that I could not ignore it any longer. Every whisper, every scandalous idea, proved true, and I knew that darkness once again was loosed on the land.

I beg your indulgence, for it seems to be my turn to pontificate. There is no one here to whom I can safely express these thoughts. I believe I must investigate this possible connection. I fear that will mean an extended trip to the continent (which my students will no doubt rejoice to learn of). I dare not put it off until summer holidays. I shall write upon my return and share all that I know. Keep the darkness at bay, my friend. I shall do what I can from the other side.

Yours etc.

A. Dumbledore

* * * * * * *

29 August, 1941


Our two problems are one. We must take down both, or all will fail. But there is hope – infighting begins already. Eastward push doomed to fail, as G wants.

Await my visit upon my return. The portrait will inform you.

Yours etc.,


* * * * * * *

[Editor’s note: At this point, all written correspondence between Sir Winston Churchill and Albus Dumbledore seems to have ceased. No letters, with a single exception, were found in either man’s papers, or anywhere else that has been determined.
Wizarding history informs us that Albus Dumbledore spent most of the years between 1941 to 1945 making frequent, and sometimes lengthy, trips to the continent. While there, he presumably spent time investigating Grindelwald’s movements, plans, and connections with the Muggle leader Adolf Hitler. The exact results of his investigations are not known, but there seems to have been a definite connection between the two German men.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill spent those same years guiding his country through the most difficult years of the War. While the air raids on Britain stopped in the middle of 1941, it was no until June of 1944 that any major progress was main against the Germans. With American help, British troops liberated France and began the push eastward that would eventually lead to Germany’s defeat.
While Grindelwald’s defeat at the hands of Dumbledore is widely known, the details of the encounter only came to light with the discovery of this last letter, written to Churchill. Albus Dumbledore’s words speak for themselves.
HJG, Editor. January 2045]

* * * * * * *

31 July, 1945

My Dear Winston:

It is over. All that remains is the tidying up, which, thank Merlin, we need to have no part in. It is over, my friend, and I fear I shall never be well again. Your Hitler is dead, by his own hand, and German resistance crumbled without him. Grindelwald is dead too, as no doubt shall be trumpeted all about the wizarding world in short order. Grindelwald is dead by my hand.

Have you ever killed someone, my friend? Looked into their eyes, hoping to find some shred of sanity, found none, and known you had no choice? I have never killed before, and I pray I never have to again. It has left a stain on my soul that not even my beloved phoenix can cleanse. A dear friend of mine once told me that death is nothing but the next great adventure. Does that still hold true, I wonder, when death is violently and prematurely given?

But enough of my philosophical musings. You wish to know what happened, and I shall tell you, in the hopes that unburdening my heart shall begin the healing process.

After the resounding defeats you and your allies had given the German army in the past year, H grew more and more dissatisfied with his alliance with G. This was, of course, G’s plan all along – extract the highest blood price from the people as he could and then step in and snatch Germany from the jaw of defeat and be glorified as his homeland’s savior.

After H’s suicide, though, G found things too chaotic for him to step in as planned. He had counted on having Berlin, but with it ringed in Soviet troops, with other Allied troops pressing hard from the west, that was not an option. So he fled.

I followed him into Poland. What I found there shocked me. I thought I had been hardened to the atrocities of war, to the horrors that one human could wreak upon another. I was wrong. I could never be prepared for what I saw.

I am sure by now you have heard of the Death Camps that have been found. Perhaps you have even see pictures of them. They are nothing compared to the reality.

A miasma of death hung over the place in an almost visible cloud. I slipped in among the captives to find G’s command house. The people there, they were barely human any more. Living skeletons, men, women, children alike. So many ways for them to be sacrificed, each one less humane than the next. And there was G, in the middle of it all, drinking in the blood magic that poured from every side of the camp. The sight will surely give me nightmares for the rest of my life.

Gender, age, background – none had meaning in this place. All who were there were there because either G or H had deemed them “unfit,” by whichever standards of “purity” he was using. Jews, gypsies, criminals; Muggle-born wizards, and those who came from blood not “pure” enough to suit G. They were all equally fit to die.

I found G in the command centre, a lap of luxury in the midst of death. I came upon him unaware. He was in rapt contemplation of. . . something. I dare not speculate what. It would have been a simple thing to kill him then, a quick spell or a knife in the back. Yet I did not. I wanted, no needed, to speak with him. I needed to find another solution besides death. There was too much death in that place already. I needed to believe that he could be redeemed. I needed to believe that there was still some good in him. That is my greatest failing, I fear. I hope and believe too much.

But when he turned on me, I knew that there was no hope. Oddly, he did not attack. He just looked at me with a feral grin and not a shred of sanity in his eyes. The blood magic had gotten to him at last.

We fought, I cannot call it a duel, for there was no formality as there should be in a proper wizard’s duel. We were simply two old men hurling raw power at each other in hopes of obliterating our opponent before we incinerated ourselves. More of a description than that I cannot give you. He was powerful, very powerful, and had a nearly unlimited power source to draw on, there at that Death Camp. His madness drove him beyond comprehension, and I spent much of the fight simply trying to stay alive.

I do not know now, nor, perhaps, will I ever know, whether he made a mistake or I got lucky. One moment he was driving me backwards with such ferocity that I was sure this time I was done for. Then suddenly I was pushing him back, through the shattered remains of the furniture, to a wall baring scorch marks as a testament to our battle. He showed now signs of sanity, or even comprehension, and I delivered a blast that paralyzed him. But even then, I kill him quickly and cleanly, a single knife through his heart. I killed him with my own hands, my friend, and I think his death took a little of me with him.

I am stained now, and do not feel as if I shall ever be clean again. Perhaps you can help me with that, old friend, as you have helped me with so much else? Soon, we must spend a quiet evening together, talking of nothing in particular. But for now, I must go deal with a celebration I have no wish to attend and be lauded for a hero that I am not. I shall be glad when this is done.

Give my love to Clementine and the children, when you see them next.

I am ever your friend and most humble servant,

Albus Dumbledore


Historical Notes: During the Blitz of London, Winston Churchill and his Cabinet did indeed meet in underground rooms beneath the Treasury building. (The Cabinet War Rooms) Churchill did also sneak up onto the roof to watch the fires on occasion – much to the annoyance of those trying to keep him safe! Much of my information was taken from the exceptionally complete timeline of Churchill’s life found at The Churchill Centre.


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