Confronting the past
A/N: This story takes place right before the Chapter 32 of My Green Eyed Mystery. In fact, it was made to be IN the chapter. However, as I started to write about Albus´ childhood and past, it became too much fun for me and even gave birth to several characters. In the end, I´ve delved much deeper into it, than I originaly intended. So much in fact, that in the end, the pieces and scenes from it seemed unimportaint to the plot of My Green Eyed Mystery. However, it didn´t feel right to leave this part of the story hanging. I thought about it for a few days and luckily, I didn´t erase it from my computer. So I thought, that this story should be published separately, as a backstory to My Green Eyed Mystery. Its also an AU and bits and pieces of it will later on show in My Green Eyed Mystery, as the story will go on. I´ve also pretty much enjoyed to delve into several things that were only mentioned in the cannon. For instance Grindelwald´s reign and the reason, why would have been the most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time, if not for Voldemort. Or parts of Albus´ childhood, and of course, his relationship with Gellert Grindelwald - I´ve also changed bits and pieces of it, remaking it to my liking. Also, the incident with Ariana, or the Deathly Hallows, the latter of which especially, since in the My Green Eyed Mystery, the second Hallow is already destroyed and the trio can never be completed again. And I´ve added some characters, which Albus had come to know during his lifetime and several of them are not even alive anymore during Harry´s time. There will be a few peeks into the Noble Families´ circle of the early century too, so get ready to see a few old relatives of several characters.
Since Grindelwald´s fall coincides with the end of World War Two, I want to make it clear, that those two are not directly linked. Though there may be a few similarities, the Wizarding War was different, especially given Grindelwald´s ultimate goal.
Though it was originally meant to be a one-shot, the ideas were popping-out and so, it will have several chapters. They will be shorter, than in the Mystery though.
I hope, that you will like this story too, and that you´ll like my version of Albus´ history.
Confronting the past
The landscape looked particurally unpleasant during winter nights. The freezing chill coming from the sea was making any ammount of time spent outside seem like punishment. Overlooking the long, snow-covered fields, there was a tall, towering fort. It was jet-black and seemed to shine in the stormy, snowy December night.
Several hundred meters away from the enterance gate (a giant stone door, which on first sight gave the impression of making the fort impenetrable), a figure appeared out of thin air.
Wrapped in a traveling cloak, his famous long beard flying as the wind blew strongly, Albus Dumbledore looked around his surroundings, still somewhat astounded, that after all these years, he came here - of all places.
The idea would never even occur to him a few days ago. He was still surprised by his own decidion to return here. He was surprised even more, by the odd sence of calm he felt - when he realized, that he would HAVE to come here, he innitialy thought, that he would be shaking all-over from the very sight of the place.
A blast of icy wind from the sea had indeed made him shake, and he swiftly reached for his wand, performing a speedy, non-verbal Warming Charm on his clothes. As warmth spread all over his clothes, he took a small moment to look at the wand in his hand - the Elder Wand.
His eyes narrowing, as though to reaffirm his resolve, he placed the wand back inside his pocket and started to make his way towards the fort.
He knew, that he HAD to do this.
No, he WANTED to do this.
He knew as much, as the International Conference of Magical Theoreticians came to an end, half-a-day ago. Though it had not only been about magical theories, thistime around.
Thanks to the various changes that were occuring in his country, he was the sole attendant from England this year - it took all the support from the Noble families to get permission for him to travel abroad, curteousy of the new Reinforcement Act.
Many were of course asking endless questions about the current state of things at home - the Repopulation Act, the Reinforcement Act, the Death Eaters still running around the country and of course, the mysterious Masked Wizard.
He was of course very carefull, when answering those questions - the last he, and the opposition needed, was Fudge and his lot becoming even more paranoid, especially if something was to appear in the foreign newspapers.
Nevertheless, he enjoyed the Conference immensly, as always, but also he enjoyed the time with a few new faces there. For instance the Head of Mahoutokoro, who was very eager to finally meet him.
He smiled proudly, as he remembered that thistime, the two Heads of the world´s magical schools have gotten together, thanks to their respective students.
In fact... it came upon him, to smuggle and deliver the large package from the Slytherin Squad, as well as it came upon Yamishiro-sensei to deliver one (an equally large one) from his Seven Stars in exchange.
He felt an incredible ammount of pride, as the elderly japanese wizard told him, of his Slytherin students´ adventure in Japan, prior to their fifth-year at Hogwarts.
He really couldn´t blame Harry for not speaking much about it, at least not in complete detail - Lily (and now perhaps Ginny too) would no doubt be very furious with him, that the Snakies had placed themselves in so much danger, mostly on accord of their neverending curiousity.
He wasn´t able to surpress a boyish snicker even now - how much it reminded him of Harry´s grandfather Charlus, most prominently at this place, during the Nurmengard Trial.
- Flashback -
His talks with the three judges - one English, one French and one American - finally at an end, he swiftly excused himself and made to the sedond floor of the fort. As the two guards, shooting him looks of absolute respect, let him in, the first thing he saw were his ex-students - sons of the British Noble families and now, as many others, recodnized as heroes of the Allied Wizarding Army.
Caspar Crouch, Septimus Weasley, Harfang Longbottom and Charlus Potter.
The athmosphere there was quite pleasant. Though all of them being on guard-duty, the large ammount of guards inside the room were happily chatting. It was a scene, he very much liked - it almost made this war good for something.
The many people there - British, French, Italian, Spanish, Bulgarian, all of them. All were happily getting along, eagerly chatting - not a hint of the animosity, that prevailed since the end of the European Wizarding War, which ended more than twenty years ago. The four young nobles too, were happily chatting with one another.
"By tonight, it will be all over. I´m relieved."breathed Caspar, as he overlooked the second floor of Nurmengard Prision, in the centre of which, behind large conjured tables, and behind a giant cage, sat Gellert Grindelwald´s direct supporters - his Reichritter - enjoying the last meal before their final fate was to be decided.
"I know what you mean, Cas. After years of fighting, we can finally go home to our families."said Septimus with a bright smile, though the sides of his shoulders looked burnt and his face was dirtied with ashes.
"You bet. AND we´re heroes!"exclaimed Charlus happily, punching the air in happiness.
At the sound of his words, many Reichritter turned their heads toward him, fixing him looks filled with neverending hate.
He could easily guess why - Charlus had been responsible for few of their captures, on top of being a thorn in their sides for the last four years.
Charlus hadn´t even noticed them, while he turned to his best friend and clapped him on the shoulder.
"And YOU... you´ll finally get to see your little, first-born son."
Septimus beamed at the lot of them.
"About time too. The boy will turn four in January. I just hope it´ll be all right. I feel bad, about not being able to be there until now."he said, shaking his red-haired head sadly.
"Don´t worry. You´ll make up for the lost time."said Harfang gently, placing a hand on his brother-in-law´s shoulder.
"Yeah. And besides, what kid wouldn´t want a hero for a Dad - that kid will love you, mark my words."Charlus boomed with a large grin, giving his best friend a thumbs-up.
The entire british side of the guards around the room, as well as Harfang, and even Caspar, weren´t able to hide a laugh at Charlus´ enthusiasm. Some of the Reichritter didn´t even bother to hide their rage - Dragan Belic actually punched the table and looked positively murderous.
"Don´t be too happy about this hero-business, Charlus. As I understand it, we will also have a LOT of explaing to do, regarding our exploits."said Harfang, shuddering a bit - afterall, all of their wives were born in the Black family and were not exactly aprooving of all this.
Charlus at once fixed him a confused look.
"What do you mean? Its not like any of the details will ever reach home."
Harfang and Septimus quickly held in their laughs, while Caspar slapped his forehead and looked at Charlus in exaspiration.
"The war is OVER! The news of our exploits - in FULL detail mostly - have reached home. The Daily Prophet has already been printing like crazy and the news reached the Noble circle even sooner."
Charlus stiffened, while Harfang nodded and Septimus gestured to himself.
"Why, do you think, I look so burnt? Cedrella already sent me the Howler of a lifetime, for placing myself in so much danger."he said in explanation, shuddering at the very thought of his wife´s Howler.
"And... since our exploits have gained so much prestige... especially YOURS - Living Ghost..."said Harfang, using the nickname, Charlus had gained for himself with his exploits.
Charlus froze in place, color was instantly draining from his face, as he started to shake. Caspar smirked at him, as he folded his arms.
"I´m pretty sure, that you will stand your OWN trial, the moment you get home."
Charlus suddenly looked, as though he had just recieved a death penalty.
"D-D-Dorie... if she knows everything..."he whimpered piteously, no doubt already picturing her infamous predator-smile.
Septimus placed a hand on HIS shoulder thistime.
"Charlus, my dear friend... I´m afraid, that you are in for a trial, where Dorea will be the judge and jury."
"And EXECUTIONER!"moaned Charlus in pure and utter horror, gripping his messy, and now very long brown hair.
That made the Septimus and Harfang roar in laughter. Even Caspar wasn´t able to keep a straight face and HE too wasn´t able to help himself, dissolving into a fit of laughter.
As he was trying to catch his breath, he became aware, that this must be the first time he had truly laughed in a very, very long time. Inside the cage, the Reichritter fixed Charlus looks of sheer hate, save for one - the youngest one, who barely concealed his laugh.
Gellert Grindelwald´s second-in-command - Eisenfaust pounded his fist on the table so hard, that many people outside the cage actually drew their wands and were only half-a-second away from releasing a curse.
Charlus once again didn´t even register it. Instead, he was shaking like crazy, completly terrified at the thought of what his wife will do to him, for this long, and dangerous campaign.
- End of Flashback -
Like Charlus and his friends... like James and his friends... now he was watching, and hearing about the third generation of the Potter family and their friends.
But thistime around, he felt that his position was changing. He was, afterall 116 years old. He was very well aware, that he may not have all that much time left.
And with the events going on right now... he had come to a decidion.
The time has come.
Soon enough, he will have to pass on his mantle.
In the case of the Chosen One - he saw, that he may have been wrong. That it may have been wrong, to be making plans in his case like this.
Harry and the Slytherin Squad had showed him that.
All his planning wasn´t able to prevent Voldemort to return, during the Triwizard Tournament.
He thought for a moment to what Aberforth, in all his bluntness, had always pointed out as his greatest flaw.
"Your problem is, that you don´t believe, that someone could EVER do it better than YOU."
True, he realized that, especially now.
He saw, that troughout these years, he counted on Neville and tired to guide him.
In contrast the Slytherin Squad - Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini, Angus Lennox and Astoria Greengrass had made it trough, in their own way. Playing the cold-heatred Slytherin villains, while doing good and helping-out from the shadows.
It still amazed him.
And, if there was ONE good thing, that Fudge´s Repopulation Act did - at least in his eyes - it was, that it bridged the two sides together.
Neville´s side - Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Alice Potter, Ginny Weasley, the other Weasleys and an entire group of other Hogwarts students... and Harry´s side - the Slytherin Squad, members of the Vigilante Task Force, and the younger Slytherins like Marvolo Flint, Bertram Shafiq, Flora and Hestia Carrow.
The last time he saw bridging like that, in a much smaller merit was the time, before Voldemort´s first fall, when Severus Snape became the Order´s spy to save Lily Potter - him and the Marauders agreeing to a truce and establishing their friendship, going so far, that to his amazing surprise, James and Lily had named Severus as Harry´s godfather.
The bridging following the Repopulation Act had been a signal to him - a signal, that the times are changing, and changing for the better.
When Ginny, Susan and Luna (Luna as the first and the most open-minded) tried to make their arrangements work dispite their fiances being Slytherins, dispite all the prejudgice, and after a small while truly falling in love with them, he saw something he wished to see for a long time.
Nowadays, it was nothing uncommon to see Ronald Weasley and Draco Malfoy simply talking and joking, even seeing their Quiddich rivalry shortened into terms of mutual respect.
Or Astoria Greengrass with Hermione, Luna, Susan and Hannah, in spirited... um... what is that popular phrase nowadays... girl-talk.
Or even - something occuring as a result, since the young ones looked up to their older House-mates - Gryffindor and Slytherin students actually getting along for a change - or at the very least, trying to.
And quite like with the young ones, they were also able to exersize this over the older ones - their parents. Afterall, if you see Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy sit at one table together, you need no other evidence. In fact, he really had to pinch himself, to believe what he was seeing, when he came over to the Potter Cottage, during the last of James´ parties.
He now realized, that it was time to place his faith in the young ones.
Harry had showed him JUST that, when he, Aberforth and Naja saved his life in the Gaunt Shack, preventing him from placing the cursed Horcrux - the Resurection Stone, on his finger. Or, when he and Draco had come to inform him, that they have become the new members of the Junior Death Eaters, which were operating in the school, in their sixth-year.
But the biggest piece of evidence was shown to him on the day of Harry and Ginny´s wedding, following the battle with the Death Eaters that day.
"I don´t care, if you don´t like it, Al! I´m telling you, that there is a high chance, that Voldemort is still alive - alive in Neville´s scar! AND, with Fudge and Kellen having their way with our country, I say, it is time to unite. There - in my room, sit all of my friends, my family AND my new wife! And I trust each and every one of them! EVEN with my - with the Slytherin Squad´s greatest secret!"
Harry´s words had stirred something in him.
The strength, the resolve, the sheer and utter trust in those closest to him...
Save for the first one, he knew that HE didn´t have that... and it stirred sheer admiration in the boy.
Even more, he saw that that genuine trust was shared between the others, and that it enabled them to easily get past the Ministry´s tricks and control-attempts, not only repairing some of the arrangements of the Repopulation Act, but also gaining more power from themselves - as evidenced by Blaise´s act, that resulted the Potter family´s reinstitation in the Noble Top group, dispite Harry being a half-blood.
He now felt, that did not want to guide their hands anymore.
Rather... he wished to help and assist them.
And since, he agreed with Harry´s theory about Neville´s scar being Voldemort´s final Horcrux, he figured that might be the best place to start.
THAT was the reason, why he truly wanted to attend this year´s Conference.
THAT was why he searched for clues, consulting with other learned and renowed Magical Theoreticians.
However, there was one problem.
ALL of them, who attended the Conference were only theoreticians in the field - possesing only theoretical knowledge.
He was well aware, that he needed to ask someone, who had delved deep into the Dark Arts - AND used them.
Someone with incredible passion for them, someone who was a pioneer, a genius of the Darkest Art.
He knew, that there was only ONE person - only ONE in the world.
One, who had delved as far as Voldemort.
One, whom he had never wanted to meet again - mostly out of sheer pain he still felt in his heart.
The pain, he had hidden away from the world...
But not himself...
He knew himself, all-too well.
He knew, that coming here and meeting him again, would stirr a world of memories - memories he positively feared to relive.
But he knew, that he must.
If he is to help, he simply MUST!
He must stand before him once more.
He gulped, as he was very close to the giant door. For a small moment, he stopped and almost made a step back.
Quickly closing his eyes, he thought about everyone back home - his closest ones, his dearest friends.
Arthur and Molly, James and Lily, Remus and Nymphadora, Sirius and Amelia, Severus, Minerva, Horace, Filius, Pomona, Poppy, Hagrid, Elphias, Kingsley, and of course his little brother Ab...
All of the others, who are no longer here - Alastor, the McKinnons, Gideon and Fabian Prewett, Charlus and Dorea Potter... his oldest and dearest classmates...
His mother, father... his sweet, little sister...
Neville, Harry, Alice, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, the Weasley twins, the members of Dumbledore´s Army - those who look up to him, Luna, Susan, Angus, Blaise, Draco, cheeky little Torie...
In his mind, he could almost hear something like Fawkes´ song, filling him with courage, promting him to move forward and face his fear.
"You´re not alone, Al!"he suddenly remembered Harry saying, back in the Gaunt Shack.
His eyes snapped open.
Well did he remember, what the youngest Potter had said to him, as they looked over the destroyed Ressurection Stone - the first time he had EVER used his childhood name.
"As long as you have us, you are NEVER alone."
His face was set, he felt as though all of them were standing here with him, holding his back, as he set out to confront his past - in order to help the future.
Reaching into his robes, he pulled out the small cube, that the German Magie Kanzler had given him, as they returned to Germany from the Conference, before notifying the Nurmengard guard of his expected arrival.
Placing it into the small opening of the giant gate, the gate slowly started to open.
As the giant door began to slide open, he felt a similar sensation happen inside his mind.
The impenetrable walls he had built around his memories were coming down - much like the same, easy way Ginny had pulled down the walls around Harry´s heart.
As the door was opening and showing the enterance into Nurmengard, the first memory had come into being - as clear and accurate, as it would be in the Pensieve.
The memory of the night he had been here the last time - the final night of the Nurmengard Trial.
- Flashback -
The judges once more called for order.
The group of Reichritter were sitting on the bench, having heared their sentances. Some looked shrunken, others defiant and furious.
Each of their countrymen on the other hand - like the french for instance - looked very pleased indeed.
Many were ashamed and disgusted, that their home-country could EVER produce criminals of this level, and seemed to take it as their personal duty, to see that they pay for each and every crime, they have ever commited.
Only one was spared from the Death Penalty, and he could see, that Charlus was visibly relieved. He had fromed a small friendship with the youngest Reichritter during the war.
The youngest Reichritter, who was the same age as Charlus, had betrayed his Meister, surrendered and helped the Allied Wizarding Army, a few months before the end of the war. More so, he was the only one of the lot, who had assumed responsibility, and wished to make ammends for even some of the crimes he had not commited himself. The judges were extremly surprised, when he said, that there is a collective moral blame, that he does not wish to shrugg off.
Not a single preson in the trial had voiced any kind of protest, when he recieved 20 years of imprisionment, instead of the Death Penalty.
He even flashed a thankfull smile at Charlus, since it was widely known, that the young Potter had worked very hard to make sure, that his life would be spared.
"Your Grandmother will be very proud, when I tell her of this, Charlus. I must say... you´ve inherited her incredible kindness."he said to Charlus proudly, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Charlus turned to him, giving his ussual happy grin.
Charlus suddenly paused, as though remembering something, the smile sliding off his face and replaced by a look of sheer terror.
"But could you please talk with Dorie first? Please? Otherwise... I may not live trough MY trial."
He really had to surpress the urge to laugh.
"Of course, dear boy. I will gladly take on the role as your witness for Defence. However, it remains to be seen, whether we can win our case. In the least, I hope to soften your sentance and turn your Death Penalty into a penalty of 2 weeks, sleeping on the couch."he said with humor, and he heared Septimus and Harfang snicker beside him.
Charlus shook, giving out a small pityfull moan - afterall Dorea could be very stubborn in situations on this.
Just then, the main judge banged on the table again, calling for quiet.
"The trial with Die Reichritter is now over. NOW... now we come to the MAIN part of this process."
The entire courtyard tensed, even HE did, awaiting the innevitable.
"Bring him in."commanded another of the judges.
The cell on the side had opened and into the coutryard, flanked by two guards, both of which had their wands raised at their unarmed prisioner, stepped a tall, man. Dressed in deep-blue, stylishly cut robes, he was walking proudly. His thinning, still mostly blonde hair was tied in a ponytail in the back and his famous short goatee visible to all.
Most of the Reichritter at once stood up and raised their right hands into the air, simulating the gesture of raising their wands.
"Für den größeren Wohl"they roared, as one, once again seeing the man, they have sworn absolute loyality to.
The reaction of the crowd was immediate - Nurmengard almost shook in the wake of the roars of rage, disgust and hate.
"SILENCE!"roared all three judges.
"Der dunkle Meister - Gellert Grindelwald...you stand here today, for the first time... in the prision you YOURSELF had ordered to be constructed... in order to be judged of crimes, the likes of which have never been HEARED of in wizarding history!"
Gellert narrowed his eyes at the three judges, the moment he sat down on to the chair, that faced them.
"The sheer quantity of your crimes is one, that no court has EVER seen before! The most prominent of which are... conspiracy, the practice of the Dark Arts - in levels unheared of, founding and directing an illegal organization, fabricating war, torture, murder, mass-murder, attempts to overthrow The Statute of Secrecy, the overthrowing of SEVERAL Wizarding Governments, violation AND distruction of agreed magical country-boundaries, violation of SEVERAL magical peace-treaties, persecution of Muggles living in half-magical cities and villages, promition of anti-muggle views and opinions, AND FINALLY, attempted destruction of an entire city in an act of an ancient Dark Art ritual!"
Beside them they heared Harfang Longbottom whistle lowly.
"Talk about setting a world record in crime."
"One, that is not really likely to be surpassed anytime soon."said Caspar Crouch darkly, his eyes narowed.
"And those are just the ones we KNOW of."said Septimus Weasley.
"Imagine the crimes he must have commited on his rise to power. All for The Greater Good, of course."
He knew, painfully well, WHO was the first cassualty of Gellert Grindelwald´s ruthless ambition...
"Ari..."he thought, his heart once more almost bursting in sheer pain.
He remembered... in fact... he was still haunted by the events of that faithfull night in Godric´s Hollow.
Es tut mir sehr leit, Schatz... aber... Alles für den größeren Wohl!
Ari... Ari... please... hold on... please...
Al... don´t... don´t go... Al...
The memories of that night have almost turned into physical pain, as they always did, when he thought of them.
"Professor?"breathed Septimus, noticing the way he was gripping his arms and shaking.
Charlus, Harfang and even Caspar turned their sights away from the court and looked at him.
His eyes were locked on Gellert, his lower lip was shaking and before he could help himself, tears were running from his eyes.
THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU STUPID IDIOT!
My fault... all of it... all my fault.
He was only dimly aware of where he was anymore...
"Albus!"came a strong voice and he felt someone grip his arm.
The contact brought him back to reality, snapping him from his feelings of guilt. He looked around and saw, that all four of the young ones were looking at him in deep concern. He saw Charlus gripping his arm.
"Albus, its over now. The nightmare is finally over."he said soothingly.
"Thanks to you."added Harfang.
He nodded weakly, turning his sights back down on Gellert. He still couldn´t believe, that it actually went so far. The entire fort was now quiet.
Though the judges offered him the chance to say something to his defence, Gellert only sat there with his arms folded.
The three judges looked at one another and nodded.
"Very well. In that case, we shall now pass our judgement."
The three of them stood up, as did everyone in the courtyard, even the Reichritter. Only Gellert remained sitting on his chair, giving all the appearance of not wanting to be any part of what was going on.
"Gellert Grindelwald. You have been found guilty of each and every crime, the Wizarding Law recodnizes. While this ussually deserves only one thing - Death Penalty, this court recodnizes, that this is a special case. In wizarding history, there never was a wizard as evil, as foul, as ruthless as YOU! Which is why we have decided, that you deserve a special punishment. Though the world wishes your death, taking your life would be too merciful. Instead, we shall make sure, that you live a long life. A life of imprisionment inside this very fortress. You shall be confined inside the topmost cell of Nurmengard, where you will spend the rest of your life. Know, that when your time comes... this world - the world you tried so hard to destroy, will have healed, moved on and forgotten, that there ever was a Meister. That there ever was a wizard, called Gellert Grindelwald."
With a final bang on the table, Gellert´s fate had been decided.
As the people began to rise up from their chairs, Gellert raised his head and was obviously looking for someone in the crowd - HIM. Their eyes locked and he was launched all the way back to those careless summer days in Godric´s Hollow.
But thistime, as they held their gaze, even while other people were standing up and leaving, he felt a strange sensation. Charlus was right... it was over. It was as though a massive chapter of his life had reached its final words.
And a new one was to begin...
"I´m sorry, that it had to end this way, Gellert. But it HAD to end."he thought in his mind, knowing and feeling Gellert´s Legilimency powers probe it.
Before Gellert could reply in any way, he raised his Occlumency walls and repelled him.
Rising from his chair, he stood up and followed his young friends outside.
- End of Flashback -
Walking slowly trough the enterance hall of the fort, he noticed that though it was well-kept, nothing had changed here in 53 years.
He could easily find his way around.
He approached the nearby benches and sat down. The Kanzler had told him to wait for the guard to escort him to the topmost cell.
He wondered a bit...
How long would he have to wait. The place was not exactly comforting and even, in this silence... depressing.
He could already feel another memory rise up, clawing to the surface.
With a long side, he let it... didn´t fight it.
It was time to face his past.
Closing his eyes, he let the memory consume him, sending him back... all the way back, to a time when everything began.