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BONUS: Best Friends Buddy and Al

(Nighttime. A now middle-age Bud Caldwell is sneaking through a swamp, following what looks like large fireflies. As he goes past them they go out.)

(Eventually, he comes upon a small hill.)

"Caldwell? Buddy Caldwell?" Bud's head shot up, not only because of the mention of that name (which his Momma always warned him about) but also because of who spoke.

"I am Buddy as much as you are Al." The old bearded man stepped into view and for a moment the two just stared at each other.

"I was worried you wouldn't make it." Dumbledore spoke he motioned for Bud to sit down next to him.

"And I was worried I was seein' things once I saw that message..."

"You thought it was that it was my opponent, I take it?" Bud nodded. "Let's sit down then, we have a lot to discuss. Oh, uh, want some?" Dumbledore extended a box towards Bud.

"Are they jelly beans?"

"In a way. They're the Wizarding World equivalent, I suppose - Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, and they do mean every flavour."

"Which means...?"

"You could very well eat one that tastes like dog food or boogers, for that matter."

"Ew!" Bud made a grossed-out face.

"Don't worry, I've managed to remember what a few look like. Here, this one's chocolate." He gave it to Bud, who chewed it slowly.

"Never had a chocolate-flavored jelly bean before..."

"And I've never had a breakfast with coffee before, either."

"So...you actually come from England? This is what you really look like, not magically look like?"

Dumbledore blinked in surprise and his eyes twirled a little. "Noooo...That's the first I've ever heard anybody ask me that." He looked back at his companion and smiled.

"To answer your questions, yes, to both. I do come from England - lived there all my life - and though I could change form if I wanted to, I cannot."

"Why?"

"Because, technically," he leaned in conspiratorially, "I'm not allowed to do so in front of Muggles."

"Is that...what I am?"

"Those living in this world who cannot do magic. Muggles, or No-Maj, they mean the same thing. And we magicians - though we use terms 'witch' and 'wizard' - live among you, hiding in plain sight."

Bud sniffed. "That other guy sure didn't seem to think too highly of us non-magical folks. Who was he, anyway?"

Dumbledore looked down and away from Bud, who was starting to worry he said too much. But he eventually faced Bud again. "That man who attacked you was Gellert Grindelwald. He wanted to change our laws and have us live openly with Muggles and our powers but, in turn, we would...subjugate them."

A strange feeling came over Bud. "It sounds like Grindelwald and you know each other outside of all that."

"We do, did." Dumbledore cleared his throat and sounded like he was about to get emotional. "It's rather complicated, only because you have never interacted with any of us, but...You saved my life back there. Only fair that you know the whole story."

"But you must understand," he rubbed his eyes, "I've never told ANY of this story to ANYONE, not any of my friends or...family."

Admittedly Bud was starting to get a tad unnerved - being the first person told the full story of anything will do that to you! But his magical companion reached out and patted his shoulder to reassure him.

"This whole thing got started when I was a lot younger. I'm the eldest child out of two boys and one girl. This'll surprise you but when you're younger you are watched for signs of magic and if you're found to possess some, you are sent to a school to teach how to control it, among other subjects."

"Where are these schools?"

"Oh, all around the world! There's one here in America and I teach at Hogwarts, in Britain."

"But how could a child learn how to control it before then? Wouldn't they be seen?"

"They don't and that's what happened to us." Another sniff.

My little sister was caught by three boys doing magic and I'm sure it scared them. They tried to get her to duplicate it but she couldn't and...

"She was never the same after that, never did learn how to control it."

"Couldn't the schools help her?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "Those who don't have a good grasp are often put away somewhere so they won't harm others, magical or not. And there's no way you can just NOT contain it either, that would be deadly."

Bud was shocked. "Was that what happened to your sister, was she...put away?" Al shook his head again. "No. It was far worse."

"After that incident my father used HIS magic and injured the boys, which WAS against our rules and he was sent to a magical prison called Azkaban - no, you DON'T want to know anything more about that place." He said as Buddy's expression turned anxious. "My father never said why he attacked those boys, to protect my sister."

Soon after we moved into a small village and I went off to school, eventually joined by my younger brother. Mother would watch my sister and shun contact from nearly everyone outside our house. Then, in one of my sister's uncontrolled bursts, our mother was killed.

"I'm sorry."

"It was an accident, but...I didn't care about that at the time. All *I* cared about was now I wasn't going to be able to do anything notable of any sort other than stay in the village and watch over my brother and sister." There was some noticeable bitterness in Al's voice. "However, Grindelwald moved in soon afterwards."

"We were so alike, me and him, it was actually quite startling. We - yes, we - wanted to change our world so we could live openly and not have to hide our powers anymore. Even if this meant some would have to be sacrificed along the way."

"Then you -" Buddy sat up straighter, "you were just like that guy!"

"Yes." Al looked at him with his face resting in his hand. Silence.

"What changed?" came the firm question.

"To get the movement started, the two of us were going to look for magic artifacts we felt for sure would bring us victory. However, my younger brother finally...brought me back to reality. One, because he felt it was dangerous what we were both doing and two, we would have to take my sister, who was in no condition to go anywhere."

It got ugly after that. Me, him, and Grindelwald ending up in a three-way duel - yes, we have dueling - and my sister tried to help but she -

Al broke off suddenly and started to cry softly. Buddy put an arm around him and after a minute he continued. "He fled and I let him gather an army, while I hid. Away from the calls of action, the cries, because...I was afraid."

"Hey, there's no reason to be ashamed of that! I was so scared too -"

"Not that he would defeat me, although yes, that was also in the back of my mind." Al quickly cut in. "Bud, I don't know WHICH of us ended up...killing her -"

"And you were scared he would tell you?"

"Yes. Yes, I was. I am no different -"

"Of course you are! You've changed!" Bud shouted to Dumbledore's surprise. "We wouldn't be sitting here if you hadn't!"

Al didn't say anything. "I wouldn't have believed all people could live together either if I hadn't seen you fight back."

"I'm just sorry you almost got strangled in the process."

"I slept with a sack on me when I was a kid."

"A SACK?"

Many other topics would come up between the two - for instance Bud wanted to know if witches really rode brooms (yes, but so do wizards) and Dumbledore wanted to know about the workings of music players (Bud didn't know much other than the very basic) and the like. Sometimes the two would laugh at how alike their respective worlds were.

Eventually, the two sat in silence, a feeling coming over them both.

"This is the only time I'll see you, isn't it?" Bud finally asked aloud.

"In this lifetime, I'm afraid." Dumbledore sighed. "I wish you could write back, but..."

"We'll be caught."

"Precisely."

The two stood up. "Do you think...there'll be a time where you guys CAN show your powers and not have to worry?"

"I do." Bud noted how definite Al's tone was in later years. "And this time, I aim to fight for it in the right way. But you know what?"

"What?"

"I think that no matter how many friends I make, Muggle or Magical, I can say with certainty that Bud Caldwell is my very best friend."

"Really? 'Cause I was just thinking that about you, Al!"

The two laughed again, then they departed, each keeping their friendship close to their heart.


THE (REAL!) END