Between Supposed Lovers, Between Supposed Brothers
“So you did it, then.”
Albus looked away and nodded. He said nothing to his brother, who watched him from over the counter. He was wiping the counter but did not take his eyes off Albus.
“Finally,” said Aberforth. “You always knew you were the only one who could do it. Not only did you stop the reign of an evil wizard, you also showed the world, once again, what a great wizard you are. Good for you.”
Albus almost smiled. There was a hint of a grudging sort of approval hidden in Aberforth’s ironic tone. They hadn’t spoken in years. Not since… Well, no matter. It was over now. Perhaps the time had come when his brother could forgive him, even if he couldn’t forgive himself. But when Albus looked up Aberforth was once again looking away, and the thought faded.
He stood up to leave. “I suppose I’ll see you.”
“Perhaps,” Aberforth acknowledged. When Albus was halfway to the door, he added, “You’re growing old, Albus. Your beard’s turning grey.”
“I know,” said Albus and left The Hog’s Head.
The truth was that he wasn’t at all proud. He was angry. Not with Gellert; no, he could never be angry with Gellert. Even after all the wrong he had done, he could never hate him, and he knew he was a fool for it. He was angry with himself. Angry because he had let himself fall so heavily. By Merlin, to him Gellert Grindelwald was still the boy he had met that summer, with his smiling face so full of youth and laughter, with his beautiful blonde locks and his sparkling eyes. His ideas, which were so controversial and so alluring, had drawn him in, but in the end that wasn’t really it. It was the boy himself who made Albus believe his every word, believe that it was true, that it was all for the greater good.
“Gellert, please! We don’t have to do this…”
The other man laughed, his face still young, and Albus could see the boy he once knew, even though time had left its signs. “Of course we do!” he cried. “It was your choice, Albus, that you and I should be enemies. We could have been on the same side. Then no one could have stopped me.”
“Then perhaps it is better that we are not on the same side,” Albus said. His tone was resigned, and he looked weary. He felt like a man who had lost control of his fate.
He raised his wand; every second of what followed hurt him. And then there he was on the ground, beaten and defeated, his wand in Albus’ hand.
He walked back up to the school, glad of the fresh air. The last couple of days were just a blur in his mind, first with his so-called victory and then with the following speeches, ceremonies and the banquet held in his honour. He had smiled and nodded and made small talk with important people, all the while never letting go of the new wand in his pocket.
Nobody else knew that he now had the most powerful wand in history, and he intended to keep it that way. No one would know. And he would certainly never search for the rest of the Hallows. Look where it had brought Gellert…
Back then, vibrant and youthful, his friend had lured him in with the fascinating tales and they had planned out a glorious future. Together, the Masters of Death, with the entire world at their feet… And Albus had hoped. Oh, how he had hoped and wished that there could be more in that future! That when they were at last side by side, they would truly be together.
Albus had never known, before Gellert arrived, what it was like to be in love. After all, it had never happened before. He had never had much interest in women, and the thought of men had never really occurred to him. Besides, he had been too busy studying and being brilliant to really care about that sort of thing, he thought bitterly. How ambitious he had been! Human relations had come second. Somehow they didn’t really matter. Communication had never been his strongest suit in his youth.
It had been a shock for him, of course, to find himself in love with another boy. This was not the way it was supposed to be. Men fell in love with women, not other men… But it had happened all the same, and there had been nothing he could do but try to bury his feelings.
Had he ever acted upon them? There were half-memories, perhaps just dreams, of stolen kisses and tender words, of cool summer nights and hot breath on skin. Sometimes he found himself unable to decide whether any of them had really happened or not. He suspected they were just the imaginations of a frustrated eighteen-year-old.
Albus glanced sideways at his companion, who was intently scribbling on a piece of parchment. The blue eyes were narrowed in concentration. He had his blonde hair tied back with a leather thong and he bit the inside of his cheek as he wrote. Once in a while, he would stick out his tongue and wet his lips a little. Every time he did, something inside Albus would jump a little, making his heart speed up.
They were sitting in silence today. Gellert had wanted to work on his manifesto (all great thinkers need a manifesto, he had said), so Albus had sat down with him in Mrs Bagshot’s garden, with a new book he had ordered, ready to read through what Gellert had written if he wanted him to. He was writing the rough draft in Latin, so Albus would have no trouble understanding it.
The sun shone off Gellert’s hair, making it look like it glowed, and Albus vaguely thought that he looked like an angel. Apart from his face, which even now looked mischievous, the corners of his mouth turned up somewhat, as though he was silently laughing at what he was writing. His face was that of a little demon, but Albus loved it.
“I’m really glad you came here,” he said after a few moments.
Gellert looked up at him and grinned. Then he scribbled a few more words and said, “Read through this? I’m going to call the manifesto For the Greater Good.”
For the greater good…
So now Gellert was locked up for the greater good.
What a backward revolution it had been! For the last two centuries Muggles had been fighting for freedom and equality and the elimination of the differences in society. Albus and Gellert’s revolution had been the opposite in many ways. Equality had nothing to do with it and freedom even less so.
Then again, Gellert had done nothing for the greater good. That was, once again, his way of getting Albus to agree, and perhaps Albus’ way of justifying their plans to himself, making their intentions seem pure and good. He could have covered it up in any pretty words he pleased, though; it had still been a question of becoming the rulers of the universe through terror and mass genocide.
Albus’ hopes had never been fruitful. He could wish for the other’s love all he liked, and he dreamed of him at night, but the only memory he knew was real had happened a week before Gellert’s departure, and was just as painful as no love at all.
It was one o’clock in the morning. Albus stood in Bathilda Bagshot’s garden, looking up at the open window of Gellert’s bedroom. With a few useful spells for help, he climbed up the ivy vines and snuck inside.
The room was dark, but he could see the blonde head sleeping on the pillow in the moonlight coming in from the window. Asleep he looked so innocent; not at all like someone with plans for world domination, but like a normal (though exceptionally beautiful) teenage boy.
Albus couldn’t help himself, and leaned down to plant a chaste kiss on his lips. Gellert made a small sound and licked his lips, smiling a little.
Albus took one last look at him, before leaving once again through the window.
And then it had all been over, just like that. One long summer of planning and scheming and secrecy and neglect had come to nothing, and Gellert had left. A great divide had opened between them, and there was nothing there anymore.
Albus entered his office, tired and weary, and sat down at his desk. He buried his face in his hands and laughed a humourless laugh. Why was he joking himself in this manner? There had always been a schism, both between him and Gellert, and between him and Aberforth.
There had always been a schism because Gellert never returned his feelings. Their communication was flawed to begin with and Albus, like a fool, had tried to fix it, with false hopes that one day he would return those feelings.
And then there was Aberforth. His brother…
“You know you can’t do it! How are you going to take her with you? She’s damaged! Do you realise how much moving her around would disturb her?”
“You stupid little whelp! Don’t you see that this is for the good of everyone? Especially Ariana! She would no longer need to be locked up like an animal! She could be free! Look what those Muggles did to her!” Gellert looked dangerous. He had his wand in his hand. Albus cringed.
“Gellert, please let me handle him. Abe, you have to go back to school, and you’re not of age yet, I couldn’t leave you alone with her. I have no other choice than to take her with me!”
“No other choice?” Aberforth spat. “You could choose not to go! You could stay here and do what you’re supposed to do, and take care of your sister!”
“How dare you interrupt brilliance?”
“You shut your mouth! I thought Albus was bad before you showed up, but now he’s unbearable. I wish you’d just leave our family alone!” Aberforth raised his wand and pointed it threateningly at Gellert.
Gellert’s eyes darkened and he raised his wand in turn. “Crucio!” he growled.
Aberforth rose into the air, writhing and screaming.
“What are you doing? Leave him alone!” Albus cried frantically.
He grasped his wand, and aimed a spell at Gellert who, in his surprise, broke the curse. Aberforth fell back to the floor and scrambled for his wand, which he had dropped. His wand was once again aimed at Gellert, and Albus quickly pointed his wand at Aberforth, but saw out of the corner of his eye at the last second Gellert point his wand at him. He swerved around and blocked the spell. Then chaos ensued. Curses flew left, right and centre, and then a shrill scream cut through the ruckus.
The floor shook as Ariana entered the room and unleashed a burst of magic that rattled the walls and caused a window to smash.
“No! Get out!” Aberforth cried, but Ariana tried to run to his side. Her cheeks were wet with tears. Gellert found his opening and aimed another spell at Aberforth, who ducked down and shot one back, at the same time as Albus made another desperate attempt at stopping Gellert from hurting anyone. Ariana was in the middle of the room, trying to see Aberforth through the bright lights. Then she screamed again.
The world went still, as several beams of light flew through the air, one of them going straight at the heart of the terrified fourteen-year-old girl.
After a moment that felt like an eternity, Ariana lay on the floor, cold and pale. Aberforth cried out and dropped his wand, rushing to her side. With tears running down his cheeks he hugged her still form and wept in her hair.
Albus could only stare. Then he noticed movement beside him and saw Gellert, wide-eyed and afraid moving backwards out of the room. His face was white, and his perpetual grin was completely gone.
The sixteen-year-old looked up at him with his wide eyes and shook his head stiffly. Then he ran from the room.
After that, nothing had been the same. Albus had felt empty and incomplete, and his relationship with his brother had worsened greatly. Soon he had fallen into despair again. The brilliant future that had once lain before him, bright and inviting, had crumbled and turned to dust before his very eyes. A piece of him had fallen away and disappeared, and he had felt as though he was watching himself from a great distance. He didn’t fit in his own skin.
Aberforth had blamed him. Whom it had really been – whose curse had done it – none of the brothers ever knew, but in Aberforth’s mind it was Albus’ fault the argument had happened in the first place, his fault that Gellert was even there. And Albus knew it was true.
The cold silence that had followed, had lasted for several years and left Albus feeling absolutely miserable. In the end he had found some small comfort in teaching, and that had kept him alive, though he couldn’t help but feel like he was just hiding at Hogwarts.
However, his security hadn’t lasted forever. In the end he knew, just like Aberforth had said, that he was the only one who could do it; the only one who could stop the Dark Wizard Grindelwald, and he had done it.
Far more tired than he had ever been before in his life, Albus made his way through the door off the side of his office, into his bedroom. He laid down on his bed without taking off his clothes, and fell asleep almost at once.
Albus stood over the fallen figure of Gellert Grindelwald, the Elder Wand in his hand. He bowed down and pointed it at him.
“Are you going to kill me?” Gellert panted, no longer taunting, but afraid.
For the first time that night, Albus felt angry. “You stupid, silly bastard!” he spat. “How could I kill you?” He took a deep breath, all anger disappearing. “I loved you.”
The next day brought sunshine and a comfortable breeze from the east. Albus was welcomed into the Great Hall a hero, but couldn’t help wondering whether the next person to try and kill him was sitting somewhere in that hall. Whether he had earned himself more enemies than friends.
Still, perhaps it was time to bring the pieces of his life back together, to forget for a moment all those years of fear and pain and suffering. So when they cheered, he bowed gracefully, and when his students congratulated him, he smiled and beamed and appeared genuinely happy. But when it was all over, he couldn’t quite seem to be able to forget sparkling blue eyes, stolen glances and memories never quite lived between supposed lovers, or the regret and the cold silence between supposed brothers.