|[FIC] - 'A Piece of My Heart' [Round Three]
||[Jan. 28th, 2008|07:38 pm]
62days: The Albus/Gellert Fandom Challenge
Author: Lee West (westwardlee)|
Title: A Piece of My Heart
Pairing(s): Dumbledore/Grindelwald; Remus/Sirius
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Two men, two different times, two similar stories.
Prompt: 22. Sirius and Remus are a couple, and after Sirius goes to Azkaban Dumbledore tells Remus the story of his own lover who went bad.
Word Count: ~3,500
Warnings: Albus is eighteen and Gellert is sixteen.
Author's Notes: A million thanks to my betas, sabethea and stellastars.
1. November 1981
Remus looked at the two piles of various objects on the floor. He waved his wand at the much larger one and tied it with twine – Dumbledore should be arriving soon to collect it. He shook his head at the pitifully small pile next to it, containing all his belongings: a few pieces of clothing, several books, his old Muggle record player and his records.
He wondered if he really wanted to keep those things; where he was going, he wouldn’t have either space or need for them. Maybe it was better if he told Dumbledore to take the whole lot. The orphanage could probably use them.
With a brusque movement of his wand, the two piles became one. It was better like that. Remus wanted nothing that reminded him of his life with Sirius anyway. Why should he? It had been a happy life while it lasted, of course, but, in the end, Remus had been fooled by a pretty face, a brilliant mind and a happy smile. A façade. Because that was all that Sirius was, after all.
He looked at his watch. Almost two o'clock. Dumbledore was very punctual and should be there within a minute or so. Then maybe five minutes for the things to be collected and Remus could leave the flat forever, closing the door and leaving his memories behind.
He leant against the wall, deciding not to unpack a chair. Remus didn’t want to have to pack anything again, but more importantly he wanted Dumbledore to be in and out. The old man wouldn't be as keen to stay if he had to stand up, too.
He heard a sound outside the door and a discreet knock. Sighing, he pushed himself off the wall and walked the few steps to open the door to Dumbledore.
"Remus," Dumbledore said simply as greeting.
"Headmaster," Remus answered. He'd always called Dumbledore 'Headmaster,' since he was a scared eleven-year-old student. He had continued to do so when he and Dumbledore were colleagues in the Order, and probably would use the same appelation for the rest of his life, no matter how many times he'd been told to use 'Albus.'
A twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes confirmed that he had thought about that, too. Remus didn't show any reaction. Dumbledore looked around, at the huge pile of belongings. "This is a lot, Remus. I didn't know you both had amassed so much. I hope you're keeping your half."
"No, I'm not. I don't want anything from this flat," Remus answered angrily.
Dumbledore didn't answer, and, when the silence became too unbearable, Remus lifted his eyes to the old headmaster's face. He was taken aback by what he saw there – a look of compassion that conveyed something else, too. Something undecipherable.
Uneasily, Remus shuffled his feet; he wasn't sure if Dumbledore knew that he was more than a friend to Sirius. They had kept their relationship quiet since the very start, during their last year at school. They had come out to James, Lily and Peter only, but Remus felt that a few people in the Order suspected they weren't really roommates. Dumbledore especially sometimes looked at them with a knowing look, which had made Remus wonder. He mentioned it to Sirius once, but Sirius laughed at the idea. "Moony, Dumbledore is ancient. I bet you he doesn't even know what sex is any more."
Maybe he didn't. But right now his look was piercing through Remus. Feeling very uncomfortable under the gaze, Remus sighed and forced a smile. "Do you need help Banishing these, Headmaster?"
In answer, Dumbledore waved his hand and the huge pile disappeared. "I need to talk to you," he said.
"About what? If it's whether I noticed anything wrong with Sirius before he…did what he did, the Aurors have already asked and my answer is still the same: I didn't suspect anything at all."
"Oh, I know you hadn't. You would have told someone if you suspected him."
"So what do you want to talk about?"
"You and Sirius."
Remus drew a sharp breath. "What about Sirius and me?"
"About your relationship. I know how you're feeling."
Maybe it was the tone of pity in Dumbledore's voice. Maybe it was the shock of realizing that the old man in fact knew about him and Sirius. Maybe it was all the build up of emotions inside Remus since Halloween.
Or maybe it was the fact that nobody knew how Remus felt. Nobody knew what it was like to have lived with – and loved – a two-faced man. Remus turned angrily to Dumbledore. "I beg your pardon, Headmaster, but you don't know how I feel."
The blue eyes twinkled. "Oh, but I do. I know exactly what you're going through, Remus. And I want to tell you a story no-one else knows." Out of thin air, he conjured two cushy chairs. He sat on one and motioned for Remus to follow suit on the other.
Remus obeyed mechanically, out of a custom of doing whatever Dumbledore told him to. But he had to admit he was curious, too, about what the Headmaster would tell him.
2. Summer 1862
Albus disliked summers. He'd never been keen on them, but they had become worse after he started Hogwarts. Before, when he was a young lad in Mould-on-the-Wold, summers meant playing with his baby brother Aberforth, two boys free in the countryside while their mother tended to Ariana.
Albus hated that: he much preferred the busy days during the school year, when a tutor came in every day to teach him the basics of reading and maths. He was an exemplary student and often locked himself in his room doing extra work, despite Aberforth's pleading for playtime.
He turned deaf ears to his brother's appeals and snorted when Aberforth, knocking at the door, tried to convince Albus that he'd studied enough and he should come out and play. As far as Albus was concerned, that was exactly what he didn't want to do. He considered his brother to be a little more than a half-wit, who would never learn to read and write properly.
When he got upset with Aberforth, he used to tell him he'd amount to no more than a innkeeper when he grew up. That always made Aberforth cry and often earned Albus some lines. Which he didn't mind: he had very fine penmanship and lines meant more time locked in his bedroom.
But in the summer there were no excuses: Kendra insisted on the children being exposed to fresh air and sunlight, and Albus was only allowed to read when he went to bed. Otherwise, he had to be with his brother Aberforth. When the family moved to Godric's Hollow, after the terrible incident with his father, Kendra was even more adamant about the boys spending time together.
Nothing made Albus happier than to board the Hogwarts Express every September 1st, even after his pesky brother started school, too. Although they were both Gryffindors, Albus didn't have to spend much time with him.
On the last day of his seventh year, Albus packed his trunk, looking around the dormitory with fondness. This time, however, he wasn't upset about the summer: he wouldn't be home anyway. He and his good friend Elphias would start their grand world tour and, once they were done, Albus would stop home just briefly to see his family and then he would be moving to his own place. He would finally be on his own.
The two friends were at the Leaky Cauldron when the family owl arrived with the tragic news of his mother's death – and worse, by Ariana's hand, albeit accidentally . Elphias tried to convince Albus that he should at least go for a shorter tour, but Albus didn't really trust Aberforth with his little sister. And so, with a heavy heart, he let go of his dream and returned home. For yet another summer with his family.
He braced himself for an atrociously boring life. He would never put Ariana in St. Mungo's, so he would have to be there for her. He despaired, thinking that all those prizes, all the honors he had received had been for naught. Albus Dumbledore, the wizarding world's brightest star, would be stuck at Godric's Hollow.
His first couple of weeks were sheer misery, not because of the household chores – Aberforth took care of those gladly and Ariana seemed much happier in the company of the younger brother – but because life at Godric's Hollow was utterly devoid of any challenges for Albus's sharp mind. Life in the little town in the country revolved around the mundane. His mother had never made friends in Godric's Hollow, with the exception of Bathilda Bagshot, and the old historian was also the only person Albus could converse with. She had a lot of information and was quite brilliant in her field, but Albus wasn't very interested in history of magic. Still, old Bathilda was the only inhabitant of the village that could engage Albus in some intelligent conversation.
Then one day Bathilda stopped at the Dumbledores' with news: her grand-nephew, Gellert Grindelwald, was coming to Godric's Hollow. She mentioned that the young man had met with a spot of trouble at Durmstrang and had decided to spend some time with her. She was sure he and Albus would get along beautifully: her Gellert was a very clever young man, just like Albus.
Albus nodded noncommittally; he wasn't too enthusiastic about the idea. He already had two youngsters to baby-sit and, although Bathilda claimed her grand-nephew was brilliant, Albus knew she was prone to exaggerations. There was no way the young Grindelwald could be considered Albus's equal. Being two years younger, he would more likely be a friend for Aberforth than a companion for Albus.
But Bathilda had always been nice to his family, even when Kendra wouldn't give her the time of the day. So he agreed and, the next day, walked hesitantly to the door when he heard the knock.
And he saw, next to Bathilda, a handsome, almost angelic blond young man, with soft curls falling to his shoulders and baby blue eyes. Albus had never seen someone so pretty before and he couldn't stop staring. He hardly heard Bathilda's introduction, but stretched out his hand to the youth at his doorstep.
Gellert took Albus's hand, saying simply, in heavily accented English, "Pleased to make your acquaintance." But the glint in his eyes and the slight quirk at the corner of his mouth showed Albus that the young man in front of him was anything but angelic. He seemed full of life and Albus, without realizing why, just knew he had to spend as much time as he could with Bathilda's grandnephew, even if he turned out to be a total nincompoop.
It didn't take more than a few minutes, though, for Albus to realize that Gellert also possessed a sharp mind and was immensely interested in the history of Godric's Hollow. He started questioning Albus right away about Ignotus Peverell and Albus, who thought he knew a lot about the Peverell legend, nonetheless realized that he'd have to do some research to answer all of Gellert's questions.
From that moment on, the two young men spent many hours sitting under the elm tree, leafing through large tomes and engaging in deep discussions about magical theory and history.
Those were special times for Albus. He would notice a particularly interesting sentence in one of the compendia, and, putting his finger on the page, would read it out loud to Gellert. And then they would discuss the paragraph, sometimes a simple idea, a funny word turning into hours of discussion. They only stopped when Bathilda called Gellert for supper; Albus would then rush to the house he shared with his siblings, his stomach rumbling, reminding him that he hadn't eaten since breakfast, having spent his whole day in Gellert's company. At home, the smell of food cooked by Aberforth made Albus only slightly ashamed of leaving it all under his younger brother's care. He promised himself he would do better the next day – he would take care of Ariana, maybe even cook dinner for the family.
But the next day Gellert knocked at his door, bright and early. Sitting under the shade of the tree with Gellert, Albus watched as Aberforth went about the daily chores, milking the goats and fishing for their meals, little Ariana always by his side. He watched, but didn't offer to help. He reasoned that his brother preferred to do household chores anyway, and was quite good at them, whereas he, Albus, had so much in his brain, so much to share with an equal, so much to learn from him.
Albus was secretly hoping that Gellert would decide to go to Hogwarts for his final two years - he was unable to return to Durmstrang anyway. And Albus would have plenty of reasons to visit the school while Gellert was there, under the guise of checking on his brother.
September was still far away, but it loomed closer every day, and Albus couldn't stop thinking about what Gellert would do at the end of the summer – all he knew was that he couldn't be away from Gellert any more. He fretted that Gellert would decide to go back home forever, and then Albus would never see him again. Without Aberforth around to watch Ariana, Albus wouldn't be able to leave Godric's Hollow.
With a disgusted shrug, he remembered that he would have to milk the goats and trade the wonderful days under the tree for a slippery rock by the creek.
He dreamt of the opportunities if he didn’t have Ariana, but as soon as he thought about that possibility, he was ashamed: his poor sister was a victim herself. Being without her wasn't a thought he should nurture, and he only faltered when Gellert finally announced to him that he was done with magical education and wouldn't be going to any school in September.
"What will you do, then?" Albus asked, heart beating quickly and hands turning sweaty.
"I don't know. I was thinking about going on a world tour."
A world tour! The thing Albus most wanted to do and the one he had to give up. Now he didn’t mind, because, had he gone, he would never have met Gellert.
"That's brilliant," he said, feeling like an iron hand had clasped around his heart, thinking that he wouldn't see Gellert for a full year.
"Why don't you come with me?" Gellert asked excitedly. "It'll be fantastic! We'll be able to see so much – and learn so much together."
"I can't," Albus answered dejectedly. "Once Aberforth goes back to school, I must stay home and care for my sister."
"Your sister." It was more like an affirmation than a question. "What happened to her, after all?"
Albus had never told anyone about what had happened to Ariana. He doubted that even Bathilda knew the whole story. But this was Gellert. He knew he could trust his friend. "She was attacked by a gang of Muggle boys who saw her doing magic. They hurt her badly and, as a result, she can't control her magic any more." Ruefully, he continued, "And when my father decided to teach those hooligans a lesson, he was caught and sent to Azkaban."
"Muggles…" Gellert said with derision. "They really are the root of all evil, aren't they?"
Albus looked at Gellert in shock, but then the younger man continued, "If those Muggle boys hadn't attacked Ariana, she would be in school in September, your father would be free, and you could go on a tour with me."
Albus did try to counter that only a handful of Muggles had attacked his sister and there were bad apples among Muggles and wizards alike. But he looked at Gellert's baby blue eyes and saw the opportunity of a world tour with his friend go away. "Yes, I suppose you're right," he answered, albeit a little reluctantly.
From that day on, Gellert constantly harped on about the fact that Muggles were a nuisance and a threat to the wizarding world. It wasn't a subject that Albus liked, but he never refuted anything Gellert said; by then he was completely infatuated with the smiling blue-eyed boy.
It had been a shock for Albus to realize he was attracted to another man – or to anyone at all. He had spent most of his last years at Hogwarts finding excuses not to date any of his lovely classmates. He claimed he had to study whenever Elphias invited him to join him and a couple of ladies in a secluded corner of the castle. His friend teased him, saying he studied too much and he needed to have fun, but Albus was adamant about staying in the common room until Elphias came back, with feverish eyes and swollen lips. He would describe his escapades in great detail, while Albus watched him benevolently like an old uncle. He had a smile on his face, but his mind was far away. He couldn't even imagine what Elphias felt; actually, instead of being turned on by his friend's descriptions, Albus felt slightly sickened. He could neither see himself pressing his lips against a girl's nor understand why Elphias rejoiced when he described the softness of a woman's breast.
Now, when Gellert casually threw his arm over his shoulder, Albus finally understood the magic of it all. And he desired nothing more than touch his lips against Gellert's. When Gellert spoke softly close to his ears, it took Albus all his strength not to kiss his friend passionately.
It was wrong what he felt, he was sure of that. He should never feel this attraction to Gellert. Firstly he was another boy. Secondly, he was not of age. And thirdly – and most importantly – Albus was sure that Gellert didn't feel the same way. He felt dirty for desiring his friend, filthy for pleasuring himself at night, his hands creeping inside his pajama bottoms, his imagination playing games with him, making him believe that it was Gellert's hand and mouth touching him.
Until the day Gellert pulled him by the hand, leading him to a place hidden from view and kissed him. Albus, in shock, at first didn't know what to do, but Gellert, with his usual bright smile, whispered against Albus's mouth, "You want this, don't you? I know you want me. And you can have me. Whenever you want."
"But…" Albus was torn between desire and propriety. "But you're too young, Gellert."
Gellert pulled him closer, pressing his body against Albus's. With a snort, he said, "You won't be the first, Albus."
Throwing all caution to the wind, Albus succumbed, finally knowing happiness like never before.
3. November 1981
His eyes wide, Remus mumbled, "You…you and…Grindelwald?"
Albus nodded somberly. "So you can see that I know what you're going through."
"I didn't know you were gay."
"Of course not. It's not something I advertise. Same as you."
"But nobody knew? I mean, you and he were very public people."
"We were, as adults. But I never saw Gellert after that summer."
"What happened?" In Dumbledore's story, the two boys seemed very happy, and Remus was curious as to why they had split.
Dumbledore waved his hand dismissively. "There was an argument between Gellert and Aberforth; a few spells were cast and-" He seemed to ponder whether to say more. "And my poor sister, who couldn't control her magic, was hit. She died," he ended curtly.
"Whose spell killed her?" Remus asked, astonished.
"Nobody knows. As I said, several were cast. But Gellert ran away from our house as soon as she hit the floor. I only saw him again when I dueled him."
"In nineteen forty-five…"
"Right. When we were two old men. I resisted facing him for so long. I accompanied his ascent into power, I knew that what he was doing was wrong, but I…I just couldn't. Until he became too dangerous."
"You didn't duel to the death, though."
"Oh, I would never be able to hurt Gellert. It already broke my heart to send him to Nurmgard."
"But it was you or him."
"Right. And I couldn't let him win." He faced Remus. "I still loved him, but I loved the Gellert of my youth, the clever boy who felt he could rule the world. Not the madman who wanted to destroy it."
"Do you still-"
"Yes. As you will, too, for a long time, maybe forever."
"I don't want to, Headmaster. I don't want to love a murderer, a traitor."
"It's not our choice. Gellert took a big piece of my heart with him, wherever he went. It now resides in Nurmgard. I could never love again."
"Did you ever hate him? Because I want to hate Sirius."
"Oh, I fooled myself many times, thinking that I did. But just the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about how much I hated him proved to me that I couldn't forget him," Dumbledore said with a sad smile.
Jutting his chin up, Remus said, defiantly, "I will, Headmaster. I will forget Sirius. He's as good as dead for me. I won't make the same mistake as you."
Dumbledore didn't say anything. He stood up, Banished the chairs away and, with a short nod, left Remus and his denial alone.
Albus knew better.