A/N: Oh God, this is what boredom does to me. This is a collection of snapshots from Albus Dumbledore's life. The only warnings you need to know is it includes homosexuality (because he's gay) and it contains some bad language, especially thanks to Aberforth.
What really bothers me is, after Deathly Hallows, a very large portion of the HP fandom decided to hate Dumbledore. This bothers me because Albus Dumbledore is my favorite Harry Potter character, and maybe my favorite character of any fandom. Oh, there's no doubt Dumbledore messed up and did some very wrong things. However, I see him as a flawed, but innately good, human, and I think that's how JK Rowling intended him. I see him as very likeable, because he's a human who messed up and who, in his own words "despises" himself. He messed up and he knows it, and he was made a fool by love but he still believes in its goodness, and I find that very nice for some reason.
So, this is how I see Albus Dumbledore.
You should know I try to stick to canon as closely as possible. I want these stories to be as believable as possible. Now, this first chapter is meant to be funny, and hopefully it is.
This chapter was edited 10/9/18.
The idea of a teenage Dumbledore was simply odd, like trying to imagine a stupid Hermione or a friendly Blast-Ended Skrewt.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p. 21 (US)
Albus Dumbledore had known he wasn't normal since day one of his Hogwarts education. That is what happens when one can successfully cast every single spell found in The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1 on the first try.
But there were signs that Albus was abnormal even before he was eleven. He started reading at an early age. He devoured every book he could find. He became an expert on an assortment of magical disciplines and topics. He enjoyed reading more than the other neighborhood boys who all would rather play outdoors instead of reading or learning about magical inventions and discoveries. He knew that he was abnormally intelligent. But he did not know that he was powerful until he received a wand of his own.
Despite the fact that Albus knew he was abnormal in the departments of brains and magical ability, there were some places where Albus thought of himself as average.
For example, Albus liked to believe that he was average in social skills. He was not a popular student, but he did have a couple of close friends and a few close acquaintances. He was comfortable not being a genius in social skills. He also believed that he was average in appearance. Once puberty hit the girls around first and second year, he noticed that all of the girls became obsessed with their looks. They started experimenting with their hair, with make-up, and the like. Boys started caring about their appearances around third and fourth year, but in a different way. They were self-conscious about being tall and having a deep voice. They wanted to appear athletic even when they weren't. Albus was tall for his age and had a deep voice, but he didn't think he looked all that handsome. He wasn't self-conscious about it either, because he was happy with average.
But there was one area in which Albus was below average... or, at least, a late bloomer.
Elphias Doge first started talking about girls in their third year. He made those comments to him and not their other friend, a girl named Fallon Jones. Elphias' comments were mostly what Albus thought of as "school appropriate." But he had heard other comments in the boys' dormitory that were not really all that school appropriate. The other boys were all talking about girls. As if attuned to a mating season, the boys would start to focus more on girls than school during the spring time. Albus would see it, and hear it, but he never related.
When it came to opposite-sex attraction, Albus was below-average.
One time during Christmas (Christmas was always awkward at Godric's Hollow), his mother had tried to talk to him. She had asked him if he and Fallon were together. Albus had laughed and told his mother no.
Of course, Aberforth had heard the exchange, and he loudly said (with his mouth full of leftover mashed potatoes), "If Albus is gonna have a romantic relationship with anyone, it's gonna be with Elphias."
Albus was used to Aberforth teasing him and cracking jokes at his expense, but Albus had felt himself coloring immediately.
"How many girls have you been in a relationship with, Ab?" Albus had shot back.
"Zero, and that's still more than you 'cause that Slytherin Quidditch player I always catch you gawking at every match don't count."
"All right, that's enough - !" their mother had said angrily.
But it was too little, too late. Too humiliated to even point out his brother's poor grammar, Albus had left the living room to retreat into his bedroom. His mother had eventually come into his room to give him a talk about him just being a late bloomer, which was just a humiliating.
He told himself that when the time was right, some girl would be interested in him, and he would be attracted to her too. The opportunity just had never presented itself yet. No girl had ever shown any interest in him.
Albus had tried as hard as he could to forget that Christmas, but that was what was on his mind two nights before Hogwarts students were due to return home for Christmas break.
As sixteen-year-old Albus walked down the halls, he tried to think of other things. Tomorrow would be his last full day at Hogwarts until after New Year. Then it would be time to return home. It was late at night. He could not sleep. To be honest, he did not really want to go home in a couple days, because home always felt like a guilt trip. He loved his family, despite the fact that he wanted to throttle Aberforth sometimes. Yet having to look at Ariana and her daily struggles always made him feel awful. It was his fault Ariana had a mental breakdown that she still has not recovered from. It was his fault Ariana would never walk through the halls of Hogwarts for herself. Albus had been supposed to be watching her when those terrible Muggles snatched her and did those horrible things to her. He had become distracted and forgot about her...
It was an old wound, but Albus could still feel it when he was at home. He had tried to tell himself that he had only been ten years old at the time, not even old enough to go to Hogwarts, but the guilt inside him still squirmed every time he felt Ariana looking at him. Albus did not have the relationship Aberforth had with Ariana because he could not. A guilty conscious kept him from that. He knew that Ariana did not really blame him, but it felt like she did sometimes.
Albus stopped walking and squinted in the semi-darkness. He had heard footsteps.
Andrea Williams emerged from the darkness. She was in Gryffindor and in his year, but she was not a Prefect or a Head Girl, so she had no business wandering around the castle after hours.
"Hi Albus," she said softly, as if they were the best of friends. Despite the fact that it was now past midnight, she still had all of her make-up on, and it was looking flawless.
Albus blinked at her. "What are you doing wandering around at this time of night?"
"I could ask you the same thing," she said with a sheepish smile.
"I can't sleep, but I'm a Prefect and you aren't, so you really should go back to bed –"
Andrea rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, Albus," she said with a tilted head. "It's Christmas, after all."
Albus didn't know what Christmas had to do with breaking school rules, so he simply said, "Yes, but you really shouldn't be outside of the Gryffindor Common Room."
"Okay," she said, putting some of her dark brown hair behind her left ear. "Will you walk back with me?"
Albus blinked again, clueless. "Why?"
She grinned, her white teeth showing. Then she shrugged. "It's a little creepy around here late at night."
Albus could not make neither heads nor tails of this scenario and he was surveying her with great suspicion. If she found Hogwarts "creepy" at night, why was she roaming the halls by herself? But he was more eager to get rid of Andrea than try to understand her, so he reluctantly agreed to walk back with her to the Gryffindor Common Room.
Andrea walked close to him, way too close. Her right arm would brush against his, but when Albus moved further away from her, she moved in toward him. He was walking at risk of starting to run into the wall, so he eventually gave up.
"So," Andrea said, "what is it you do for fun? You spend a lot of time in empty classrooms; what is it you're doing?"
"Dragon blood," Albus muttered as Andrea's arm brushed against his again. "I am trying to find uses for the magical properties in dragon blood. Dragon blood is is extremely powerful, but surprisingly underutilized, so I am trying to discover new ways wizards and witches can benefit from it."
"Oh," said Andrea in what sounded like feigned interest. "That's interesting. How do wizards get dragon blood anyway?"
Albus could feel his brain clunking along very slowly. "I'm sorry?"
"They're really mean, dragons. How do you collect it?"
Albus tried to be kind; he tried to be understanding. He believed that it was important to be kind to everyone, and that there were all sorts of different people out there with their own unique sets of strengths and weaknesses, but the word stupid went blazing its way through his mind unwittingly.
"You stun them," Albus said as patiently as possible. "Multiple witches and wizards stun them at one time."
"Right," said Andrea, sounding as if she did not really care. Albus briefly wondered if she had slipped and smacked her head against something and was suffering from a concussion. Or perhaps she had been indulging in an alcoholic beverage this evening. This conversation made no sense whatsoever and she seemed very out-of-it. But of course, he couldn't think of a polite way to ask her if she had hit her head or had been drinking, so he changed the subject.
"Are you excited to go home for the holidays?" he said finally.
"Oh, yes," she said happily. "No more school work…." Then it seemed like she remembered who she was talking to. "I – I mean," she faltered, "I like, er, learning, but sometimes all the work stresses me out, you know?"
Albus couldn't really agree, but he did not want to be impolite. He just grunted and then opted for silence.
They had reached the Fat Lady. Andrea took a deep breath and spun on her heel so that she was facing him. She was close to him, far too close, and Albus felt like he was going to fall backward.
"You're really smart," she breathed as she drew closer to him still. He could feel her breath on his lips.
He felt like his brain had stopped working and time started to pass at half-speed. He did not fancy Andrea – he had never thought to himself that she was attractive or pretty, but he felt a rush of adrenaline spread through him. Maybe he could come to be attracted to Andrea – she was popular anyway, so she must have some good qualities. This was the moment that teenage boys everywhere waited for: a first kiss. What was Aberforth going to say?
He closed his eyes and stopped breathing altogether, but when Andrea pressed her soft lips against his, he felt… nothing. He was frozen. Andrea started to move her lips, but all he felt was a definite sense of anticlimax. Albus stepped backward and scowled.
"Don't do that," he said with a frown. He felt like he had just been cheated out of something that should have been wonderful. It was nothing like he had expected. He felt absolutely nothing for this girl, and it bothered him.
"What?" she said quizzically, looking puzzled.
Albus took in a breath and reminded himself to be nice. "I'm sorry, Andrea – truly. It's just… I don't have any feelings for you."
She stared at him. "You are saying you aren't attracted to me?" she said coolly.
"I'm sorry, but... no."
A fire lit in her eyes. "You can't turn me down – no one would ever turn me down! I'm the prettiest girl in this entire school! And you're ordinary-looking!"
Albus' temper flared. "I just did turn you down," he said shortly. "Now go to bed before I report you. Have a Merry Christmas."
Fuming and looking positively incredulous, Andrea shouted the password at the Fat Lady and stormed off to bed. Once the portrait closed, the Fat Lady began to laugh.
"Yes, very funny," Albus said angrily, yet he found himself smiling. The whole thing seemed funnier now that Albus was not facing Andrea's angry glare. "I am glad you are amused at my expense."
The next morning, as Albus sat with Elphias eating scrambled eggs, Elphias pointed out something Albus hadn't noticed.
"So, er, Albus?" said Elphias a little too animatedly for the early hour. Elphias had already had three cups of coffee and Albus was sure his caffeine addiction was going to give him a heart attack one day.
Albus grumbled to let his friend know he was listening.
"Why is every single girl looking at you with a furious expression?" Elphias asked.
Albus looked up to see a gaggle of Gryffindor girls looking at him coldly down the left of the table. They quickly turned away in disgust and one even shook her head.
"No idea," Albus lied promptly. He felt someone sit to his right and he looked over to see Fallon Jones. Her long honey-colored hair was behind her in a ponytail and she was grinning from ear to ear.
"Fallon, why is every girl in our House mad at Albus?" Elphias inquired.
Fallon laughed, looking gleeful. "Albus. Albus. Did Andrea Williams really kiss you last night in the hallway?"
"WHAT?" Elphias exclaimed so loudly that several people jumped. Some of the coffee he was holding spilled onto his arm.
"Elphias," Fallon said impatiently, "put the coffee down…. Good. Albus, did she? You have to tell me."
"Assaulted, more like," Albus said with a slight smile.
"Why don't any girls assault me?" Elphias demanded. He looked jealous and flabbergasted at the same time. "I can't even get a girl to sit next to me in Charms."
"So she's going around telling everyone how cruel I am that I did grab her and start kissing her back?" asked Albus.
"Yes, she is telling her sob story to any female that will listen," Fallon confirmed.
"And everyone is angry because I cannot not kiss a girl back? Because I should have no choice in the manner?"
"Well," Fallon said, "sort of. She is exaggerating a bit, I think. She's telling everyone that you pulled away and said she was too stupid for you."
Albus' fork clattered to his plate. "I never said that!" he said, outraged.
"I know," Fallon said. "Don't worry, I don't think every girl believes it. I certainly don't."
"I can't believe you didn't kiss her back," said Elphias grumpily. "She's the most attractive girl in all of Hogwarts. After you, of course, Fallon," he added kindly.
"Obviously, Elphias," Fallon said.
"I've been told," said Albus wearily. No longer hungry, he pushed his plate away from him.
The excitement of the ordeal was not over for Albus. Later that afternoon, Andrea cornered Albus again and announced she wanted to speak to him in private as loudly as she possibly could in order to draw as much attention to the exchange as possible.
"Of course," Albus agreed reluctantly, already feeling hot around the collar due to all of the eyes that were on him.
"Splendid," said Andrea.
As Albus unwittingly followed Andrea outside into the freezing cold, he was sure he saw Fallon give him a wink, while Elphias looked jealous. If Albus had been in a better mood, he might have found it funny.
Andrea quickly rounded on Albus and he found himself back up against the wall to one of the snow-capped greenhouses. He almost felt sorry for her, because she looked very tired and her eyes were red, as if she had been up crying all night. Then he remembered that she was spreading lies about him and that sympathy evaporated.
"Why are you not interested in me?" she demanded roughly.
Albus said nothing, his face becoming more and more flushed. He wished he could have said it was due to the biting cold and not embarrassment.
"I need to know, Albus," she said shrilly. "Of course, I have a couple ideas, but I need to know the truth."
Albus stared at her shoes, which had almost disappeared into the snow completely. The silence stretched on uncomfortably. "What – what are your 'ideas'?"
Andrea took in a deep breath. "I have two theories," she said after a deliberate and very dramatic pause. "The first one is that you're very afraid of intimacy."
He was trying so hard to keep a straight face. In an attempt not to burst out laughing, he furrowed his brow and pressed his lips together in apparent contemplation. "I see," he said after a moment when he felt in control enough to not laugh as soon as he opened his mouth. "What is the second one?"
She took another dramatic breath and said, "The second one is that you aren't even attracted to women at all… that you're… interested in men only. You know, an invert."
That took Albus by complete surprise. His look of fake contemplation broke and he suddenly looked very interested. "Do you think –?"
"Please tell me it's one of those two," she begged. "But listen, if it's not, if there's something wrong with me, if I was too forward, if I was too ugly last night, if you had an upset stomach, if anything, just please give me the truth."
But Albus didn't say anything for a long moment.
"Take as long as you need," she said, "but don't sugarcoat it."
"Oh," Albus said, jarred from his thoughts. He heard himself say, "Intimacy is very scary," but he felt disconnected from he entire scene, as if he was watching it unfold from above.
Andrea nodded in understanding. "Okay," she said. "I understand. You're an in- well, homosexual. Everything makes sense now."
"What?" yelped Albus. "That's not –"
"Don't worry," she said with a reassuring pat on his shoulder. "I'll just tell everyone you're scared of intimacy. Have a good Christmas."
Albus stared at her back as she walked away, open-mouthed and mortified. Eventually, he realized he was probably very close to developing the first stages of hypothermia, so he trekked his way through the snow back into the castle.
He walked around the castle numbly, speaking to no one.
Oh shit. Am I?
He thought back to Andrea's kiss. Her lips had been soft and perfect. He had enjoyed it a little bit, right? Maybe he just hadn't given it a chance? If he had kissed her back, if they had gotten into it more, could he have enjoyed it? Would he have wanted to take it further with her if she gave him the chance? How far would he have wanted to take it if she had pulled him into an abandoned classroom and locked the door, completely ready to give herself to him? He didn't think she would have ever gone that far, but if he had been given the chance, would he have wanted to take it?
He thought about the Slytherin boy that was on the Quidditch team that Aberforth had said he always liked staring at. Unfortunately, Albus knew who Aberforth was referring to. But Albus did not stare at him. It's just he was the captain of the team, so his eyes were drawn to him.
What if it had been that Slytherin Quidditch player who kissed him? He was even taller than Albus, his shoulders were broader than Albus', and if he had pulled Albus in close to him, Albus knew his chest would have felt strong against his. Would he have liked it then?
Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit.
Elphias said he wished Andrea had kissed him; he would've grabbed Andrea and kissed her back, but Albus didn't. And Albus knew Fallon had already kissed some Hufflepuff boy named Oliver last school year; she was normal. When Andrea, "the prettiest girl in the entire school," had kissed Albus, he had pulled away. Not only had he pulled away, he didn't enjoy it. At all.
You would have liked it if it was the Slytherin boy. You know, the one you always gawk at.
Mortified, Albus went to the Common Room and said nothing to anyone.
Later that night, Albus got out of bed, went out into the Common Room with a book, and sat on the couch in front of the fireplace. He had fallen asleep early, but was now wide awake. It was almost four in the morning and everyone had long retired to bed. Albus decided he would read until he felt tired enough to go back to sleep. He had three and half hours before he would have to get up and pack his belongings.
He read for nearly half an hour in peace before he heard someone shuffling from the girls' dormitory. His heart immediately hammered and his mind went wild. Maybe it would be Andrea. Maybe Albus could try his hardest to be a hormone-crazed heterosexual male and push her against the wall and snog her senseless, just to prove to himself that he was "normal." But it wasn't Andrea.
It was Fallon.
"Albus," she said quietly in surprise. "What're you doing up at this hour?"
"Can't sleep," he said quietly.
Fallon yawned and walked over to him. Her hair was a mess and she looked much paler without any make-up on. She sat down beside him.
"I can't sleep either," she confessed. "But no loss. I really love four o'clock in the morning."
They sat comfortably for a while in silence as Fallon watched the flames and Albus pretended to be reading his book.
"So," she said finally, "what did Andrea say yesterday?"
Albus was silent for a moment. He decided he felt comfortable enough to tell Fallon, so he did.
"- and then," he finished irritably, "she says, 'don't worry; I'll just tell everyone you're scared of intimacy,' and she walks away!"
Fallon scoffed. She did not have a taken-aback look on her face. Albus watched her carefully for signs of disgust or surprise, but he found none.
"Andrea is a moron," Fallon was telling him. "Seriously, Albus, just forget about it. Everyone will forget about it over break. She'll find another boy, though of course, not one as nice as you," she finished kindly.
"But," Albus said worriedly, "I don't want her telling everyone in the school that I'm 'scared of intimacy.' And what if there is something wrong with me?"
She smiled, a little too knowingly, her brown eyes warm. "What if you actually are afraid of intimacy? Or if you actually are homosexual? Who cares, Albus? If you are, we can cry about men together." She closed her eyes and shifted her weight a bit. Even though this conversation was a very serious one to Albus, Fallon seemed completely relaxed, and a smile was spreading across her face.
Fallon would not have been bothered if he had been kissing the Slytherin boy, and really kissing back. It was an acceptance that Albus had not been prepared for. He felt a lump forming in his throat. He blinked hard and returned to the safety of his book.
Albus was finally able to go back to sleep. He slept for another two hours and woke up in a good mood. This good mood was unfortunately squashed when he ran into Aberforth as he headed down to breakfast.
His little brother saw him and started laughing uncontrollably.
Albus scowled, Elphias was already holding a cup of coffee, and Fallon just smiled faintly.
"Sc-scared of intimacy," the thirteen-year-old managed. He laughed until he fell into a coughing fit.
Albus pushed past him, annoyed yet thankful that Andrea was telling everyone this "explanation" instead of the other. If Aberforth ever truly believed Albus was an invert, he'd never hear the end of it.
This thought made his stomach fill with anxiety again.
A/N: Reviews are my motivation, guys. Even if you want to argue with me about Dumbledore as a character, that's cool too. I wanna know what you think!