Grindelwald's finger touched the tip of Queenie's wand and lowered it.
In a daze, she allowed it. He said he meant her no harm, and she had no reason to doubt it – although she also could think of no reason why she would be here in the first place. Was it an accident that her hostess had happened upon her in such a state, or had she been lured here on purpose?
"You have a curse, don't you?" he asked.
Queenie was puzzled by the abrupt and unusual question. "A curse?"
Don't be coy, my dear.
She jumped, startled by the sound of his thought. She had never heard Grindelwald's thoughts before, and this one was clearly meant to be heard. "Oh, you mean... yeah." Her wand hand relaxed at her side, but she kept her grip firm. "I ain't never heard it called a curse, though. Most folks consider it a gift."
"Hmm. A gift you wouldn't mind giving back on occasion, I'm sure."
Queenie squinted. "How do you know about it, anyways?" It certainly wasn't something she advertised to strangers.
"I can feel it." Grindelwald lowered his chin and gave her the shadow of a smile. "It's not an altogether unpleasant sensation. Not at all."
His soft voice, and the hint of sensuality in his words, made Queenie take a closer look at him and admit that he was not so unpleasant, either. He was certainly not her type of man, but there was a surprising warmth about him that seemed incongruous with his stark appearance and his reputation for cruelty.
What a shame to waste it.
Queenie's eyes darted back to his. "Waste it?" she snapped, unsure why the thought put her edge.
"Forgive me," Grindelwald whispered. This time the smile held a trace of mischief. "That one slipped."
She doubted it, but she felt it would be impolite to push him on his private thoughts. She wasn't entirely sure why she felt the need to be polite to Gellert Grindelwald. She suddenly realized she had, in fact, stowed her wand without thinking about it. The room was just so comfortable after the rain and chaos outside... his voice so soothing...
"Shall we sit?" Grindelwald motioned gently, and Queenie eased herself into a wingback chair. He seated himself with a slight flourish on the sofa near her, his knees turned in her direction. With a swish of his wrist, the broken pieces of the teapot and teacup rearranged themselves, and once again the fragrant aroma of tea filled the lushly decorated drawing room. "Perhaps you would like more tea?"
Queenie agreed merely to have something to do with her hands.
"I have a curse, too," he said.
Again she caught his gaze, studying his mismatched eyes and then blushing at having done so conspicuously. She blew on her tea, the steam collecting under her nose. "You mean–" Try as she might, she couldn't keep an undertone of interest from creeping into her voice. "–the whole fugitive thing?"
Grindelwald's expression was grave. "I have been wrongfully accused of many things, it is true. And that does come with its own set of challenges. Fortunately, not everyone is so easily deceived and misled by rumours, by the slanderous press, by unproven allegations." He curled his hand over the arm of the sofa, his jaw tightening momentarily. "I am lucky to have those people on my side. In fact, sometimes such hardships are a blessing, are they not? When they show us who our true allies are."
Queenie idly swished her tea, watching the dregs swirl and once again feeling the sting of Tina's admonitions. How could her own sister have stood against her like that? Of course Tina made a good point. Tina always made points. That was her thing. But it wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair to be denied the freedom to love... and what would Tina know about that, anyway?
"No, my curse is much like yours," Grindelwald continued. "I was born with it. It was something I had no control over. Have no control over."
Queenie could read the flash of resentment in his eyes, a feeling she understood well. "What is it?"
Grindelwald fell silent, and she realized her eagerness had perhaps been rude. It was so much more difficult to converse with people she couldn't read. "I mean, if you don't wanna–"
"I have visions," he replied, matter-of-factly.
"Visions?" Her voice rose excitedly. "Like a for-real Seer?"
"I've heard about them. I thought Seers were usually..." She trailed off, her cheeks reddening again.
"Women?" Grindelwald smirked.
Queenie could not surpress a giggle. "Well, yeah." She didn't even know what she found so amusing. She noted more acutely his flamboyant attire, his somewhat effeminate carriage, and it struck her that it really was quite absurd to imagine him as a hardened criminal.
Grindelwald gave a small shrug. "There haven't been many known Seers. I suspect few of the true Seers – male or female – admit to having the curse. It comes with a fair amount of suspicion and ridicule, doesn't it?"
"Yeah." The smile faded from Queenie's lips. "I guess so." Come to think of it, though, she had heard rumours that Grindelwald was a Seer. She hadn't paid it much mind. It was one in a sea of rumours, so many of them so difficult to reconcile with the genteel, sympathetic, even alluring man in front of her. "You don't really keep quiet about it, though, do ya?"
"Ah," Grindelwald sighed, shifting marginally closer. "What would you do? What do you do? Say, when you hear a dangerous thought?"
Queenie didn't want to admit the truth. It sounded so lame. Yet it spilled from her lips as though by compulsion. "I tell my sister." In fact, she had often wondered if that was one reason Tina became an Auror. Queenie was ashamed to admit that she lacked the fortitude to take action. But she couldn't keep those things to herself, either. So her sister, always so driven to action, bore the burden of knowing things no one should.
"Ah yes, your sister. The Auror. And if she doesn't believe you?"
The idea was foreign to Queenie. Tina always believed her. Maybe because she always knew when Queenie was lying. Sometimes it was hard to tell who was the mind-reader.
"What would you do," Grindelwald continued, "if you had a vision of something so reprehensible... something so unspeakably violent... something so easily preventable, so entirely needless–" He broke off, his face twisting in disgust. After a moment, he collected himself. "Could you keep that to yourself?"
Queenie had no good answer.
"Could you live with yourself if you did, and it came to pass?" The smoothness of his voice was gone, replaced by a more husky, urgent tone. Queenie felt her blood rising instinctually to meet it. "In fact, I would put an even greater question to you, Queenie. How far would you be willing to go to prevent that atrocity from coming to pass?"
Queenie felt short of breath. She could focus on nothing but that one blue eye in front of her. "What did you see?"
Grindelwald didn't answer. Instead, in an immediate riot of blaring orange and bleak gray, of chaos so loud that it grew into a deafening monotony of silence, Queenie saw what he saw. His mind opened up to her, and the bodies.... She gagged. Trenches were dug deep as caverns, yet the burnt and bloodied and dismembered flesh rose like a mountain from their depths... and there, for a flash of a moment, a slack-jawed face shifted into view... one with round cheeks and a dark moustache... "STOP!"
The vision ceased at once, but Queenie grabbed at her hair, trembling. Hands gently circled her wrists, fingers urging her hands into his.
"Exactly!" Grindelwald cried. "It has to stop. More, my dear. It cannot be allowed to begin. It cannot. We must do everything, everything in our power." His voice was alight like a minister's now. "Your betrothed... he has seen these things before, hasnt he?"
Queenie nodded tearfully, frantically, eyes still squeezed shut.
"He wouldn't talk about it."
She shook her head.
"But you've seen what he's seen."
She let out a quiet sob.
Immediately, Grindelwald's voice was soft again. "I am sorry to tell you that what you have seen is but a whisper of the roar to come. And our power is so much greater! Our power is so far superior to this senseless carnage."
She could hear him take a deep breath.
"Please, my dear, I am sorry to have caused you such distress. Please...."
Slowly, Queenie opened her eyes. Could she truly be looking at their savior?
Grindelwald shook his head. "It doesn't have to come to pass. We can change it. All you want is to love. To be loved. To be free. To have a choice. We can create that world of choice and freedom together."
He urged her to stand, and she did, on shaky feet.
"Soon you will see."