Literatti: Fiction By Deslea
Deslea R. Judd
Pairing: Albus Dumbledore/Gellert Grindelwald
Word Count: 1500
Summary: The funeral marks the passing of many things. Ariana Dumbledore is only one. Two artworks.
More Fic: On AO3 or my fic site.
Feedback: Love the stuff. On AO3 or at deslea at deslea dot com.
The requiem how be sung
By you - by yours, the evil eye -
By yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocent that died
And died so young?
- Poems, Edgar Allen Poe
"He isn't coming to the funeral, Albus."
Aberforth says this as he chops onions. Since Ariana died, every bloody meal he makes has onions. It means he can sniffle with a degree of plausible deniability. Albus doesn't mind. Pretending it's the onions means he can pretend, just for a minute or two, that it isn't all his fault.
"People will ask questions," he protests, but weakly. He isn't sure if he wants Gellert there either.
"They might wonder, but they won't ask," Aberforth snaps. "He might be a bloody woman, but he isn't your wife."
Albus swallows the retort that springs to his lips. They've been dancing around each other these last few days, bickering over things that have never mattered so they don't have to deal with the thing that does.
It's probably a moot point anyway. As far as anyone is concerned, Gellert is already gone. Albus won't insult his brother's intelligence by saying so. Aberforth knows it's a lie.
If it is a lie, though, it is a temporary one. Gellert will be gone soon enough. He hasn't said so. He doesn't need to. They are in a holding pattern that cannot be sustained. The end is inevitable.
Aberforth comes out of the kitchen with two plates of steaming hot broth (with onions, of course). He gives Albus the biggest serve without comment. Albus grunts something that could be construed generously as thanks, even though he can't bear the smell of it. Gellert will get the lion's share tonight.
As if on cue, there is a creaking sound overhead, sound of a floorboard. Albus winces.
"Damn pipes," Aberforth grunts, though there was nothing metallic about the sound. "Should get them fixed." He slurps noisily on his soup.
Albus toys with his spoon, ladling it back and forth.
They sit like that for a while, then Aberforth snaps, "Fucking have some. I'm not going to cook if he's going to eat it all." Albus opens his mouth to reply, and Aberforth holds up his hand. "Save it. Just bloody eat something."
Meekly, Albus takes a mouthful of the soup, and finds to his surprise that he's hungry.
Aberforth watches him, brow puckered. Presently, he asks, "What are you going to do after the funeral?"
Albus peers at him over his glasses. Echoes, "Do?"
"Well, you couldn't wait to get out of here before."
He can't quite keep a sulky, petulant tone out of his voice. "You want me to go."
"Of course I bloody well do," Aberforth flares. "You think I want you to sit around here? Where I have to look at you?"
He supposes he should be angry, but all he can do is look away. All that defensiveness and fight got burned out of him the day Ariana died.
"I suppose you'll go with him," he sneers. "Got big plans, you two, and there's nothing's left to stand in your way."
"Of course I'm not!" Albus says hotly, and to his horror, there are tears burning his eyes. "We can't even look at each other!"
He clamps his mouth shut before his voice can betray him. His hands are shaking.
Aberforth's eyes widen a fraction, but then, tactfully, he looks away. "Sorry," he says gruffly after a beat. "I didn't know."
Minutes pass. The clock ticks and Albus eats in silence.
"I'm going to Hogwarts," he says into his soup after a while. "I owled Dippet yesterday. He replied straight back. I'm going to apprentice in Transfiguration."
Aberforth's head snaps up to attention. "Hogwarts?" he echoes in disbelief. "You're going to be a teacher?"
"Would you rather I took over the world?" Albus says coldly, looking him straight in the eye. There is a note of self-loathing in his voice that he had not intended for Aberforth to hear.
Aberforth's eyes narrow a little. He shrugs uneasily. Says with studied lightness, "Just surprised me, is all. I think it's a good idea." He rises, and nods at the bowl of broth, still half-full. "Take that upstairs before it gets cold. You can't dump the bastard on an empty stomach."
Albus takes this to mean, I fucking hate you but I still love you, and obeys.
"A teacher," Gellert sneers. "A fucking teacher."
He says this pressing his lips firmly to Albus', kissing away any attempt he might have made at a reply. Shoves him down on the bed and rips open his belt like he's preparing to do battle. Fucking it out is what they both do best, after all.
It's like being in a hard, grinding machine. Hard kisses. Hard hands. Hard cocks drilling into each other. They work each other over like hard taskmasters with slaves. The gruelling work of it brings him the release that pleasure no longer can.
"A teacher," Gellert snarls again, sinking his teeth into his shoulder, and Albus groans out his climax, arching, stiff, wringing it out like a punishment.
"A teacher," Albus agrees, turning his head away and looking out the little window above his bed when they're done.
Gellert's contempt is heavy in the air as darkness falls.
"Why?" Gellert whispers later, much later, when soft kisses have settled in place of hard ones.
Here in the dark, they don't have to look at one another. He doesn't have to see warring guilt and accusation, reflecting his own. It isn't the way it was, but it isn't what it's become either. It's limbo, kind of like them right now. It is a place of rest.
"You know why," he whispers, drinking in soft, sweet kisses and drowning in caresses that are feather-light and slow.
"Just come with me," Gellert pleads. "Let's just go and do what we said we would do."
Albus closes his eyes, hot tears seeping out from beneath his eyelids. "It would be bought with her blood," he mutters, but it is a lie. He knows it the moment Gellert's cock sinks home. Knows that he would live with Ariana's death to have this. He wouldn't spill her blood, not willingly, but he would barter it once spilled, oh yes. He loves Gellert more than he ever loved his sister, and that's something he has to live with every day.
What he cannot barter, will not barter, is his own self. The idea that he can be more than the man who (maybe) killed his sister. He loves that idea more than Gellert and Ariana combined. Loves it more than being warm and full. Loves it more - just - than soft sweet lips and fingertips coaxing him back to life.
He has sacrificed his sister on his journey to his higher self, and his brother too. Now he will sacrifice his other self. It is for the greater good.
He swallows the creeping thought that as always, everyone has to pay for the greater good but him.
"You shouldn't be here."
He says this after Ariana's funeral, his brow pressed hard to Gellert's, by the statue of her that marks her place of rest. The rest of the mourners have dispersed.
"I had to come," Gellert says. "I might have been the one who..."
They have never said it before, and he doesn't say it now. Just trails off, closing his eyes.
"It doesn't matter which of us did it," Albus says. "We're both guilty. And we're going to tear each other apart with it if we stay here."
Gellert says nothing. Just nods.
It is a comforting lie, smooth veneer over his abandonment of Gellert, but it is also completely and utterly true. When one of them feels guilty, the other assumes presumption of guilt. When one issues blame, the other assumes a defensive presumption of innocence. They rattle back and forth between innocence and guilt as their moods change, ricocheting blame for self and each other, and it's eating them both alive.
His decision may be for the greater good, but it is also a necessary evil. For both of them.
"You're leaving," Albus says at last, and it isn't a question.
Gellert nods. "Wars to fight, worlds to conquer. You know." He trails off awkwardly. His good humour is forced.
Albus doesn't want to hear any more conversation and awkwardness. He doesn't want to remember them like that.
"Shut up and kiss me," he mutters in a strangled voice, and with a sound of relief, Gellert does.
There is no resolution, no final word that puts it all to rest. Just kisses that peter out, and then, his eyes wet, his face working, Gellert abruptly Apparates away without saying goodbye.
There are no clean endings here, Albus thinks. Not for any of them.
For the greater good, he thinks, and it dawns on him that he has a price to pay, after all.