“So, you have come,” breathed the withering man curled up on a rotting bunk. “I thought you would one day. But your journey was pointless; I never had it.”
“You lie!” hissed the self-professed Dark Lord.
Gellert took immense satisfaction in uttering those words that he had been rehearsing in his cell, of the prison he himself built, for years, as well as the petulant reaction. He had followed any news he could on Voldemort’s exploits, clinging to whatever scraps of newsprint or stray echoes from the wireless that were available. It seemed as if this new regime might have been able to succeed where he did not, but no matter how appealing that might have sounded fifty years before, the lustre of it had been dulled by decades of thought. Thinking was about all he had to do in his lonely little universe, constructed by unfinished business and faded ideals.
But he knew something Voldemort didn’t, and just for a moment, Gellert felt a sense of power that he hadn’t known since that final curse was uttered from that fabled wand. He didn’t know about the Hallows. He sought one of the most powerful and extraordinary magical artefacts ever to have existed, yet he knew not of the final two. It was with relish that Gellert said, “Kill me then, Voldemort. I welcome death, but my death will not bring you what you seek.”
Scorn and derision crossed that snake-like visage, which told Gellert that he had been right. For a man who wanted everything, Voldemort knew nothing. “There is so much you do not understand,” he said, almost patronisingly.
Was it a death wish? Of course it was. Locked away from the world, far from any other feeling but helplessness for ages, Gellert knew that this was his last chance to earn himself a worthy death. He did not want to perish here, mouldering away into nothing, being kept alive by guards who weren’t even born when he had been imprisoned for his so-called crimes, guards who had never seen that hunger in their beloved Albus Dumbledore’s eyes, the Albus who wanted Muggles crushed to the nonentity that they were.
So much you do not understand,
Gellert’s mind echoed. Voldemort would never accept that Albus was far more like the enemy he so vehemently fought than anyone would have been comfortable with, but the latter had something that the former did not: patience. Albus had been willing to obtain the Hallows and to become a master of death, but Voldemort blundered about, killing anyone who stood in his way like the violent cretin that he was. He fancied himself the most powerful wizard, but in truth, even in death, Albus was far more powerful because he was apt at manipulation and subtlety, qualities that this impatient man, almost childlike in his inability to compromise, would never understand.
He would never even know that Gellert was manipulating him to his own end at that very moment. It would finally come full circle. He, Gellert, had brought out the lust for might in Albus, which had in turn landed him here in this miserable jail, unwittingly bringing Albus that power that he then professed to never want. He was the
most feared wizard by all who opposed him. Voldemort had seen to the end of Albus, but Albus had lain those clandestine traps and hatched the invisible schemes that would end this miserable excuse for a would-be conqueror.
And Gellert would still win, because he brought this all about. With the closest thing to a grin he could manage with his age-petrified face, he shouted, “Kill me, then! You will not win; you cannot win. That wand will never, ever be yours—”
” bellowed Voldemort, the cascade of green ending the feeble old man’s challenge and sealing the fate of an entire reich.