Disclaimer: © 2006 harmony bites. This is an amateur non-profit work, and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by J.K.Rowling or any other lawful holder.
Thanks to Djinn for her beta!
Even dead, Albus isn't finished proving her blind and making her feel her age.
She was in her twenties when Albus found her first touch of grey. He mentioned it to her with that infernal twinkle in his eyes, and she denied it indignantly, only to have him pluck it and display the silver thread to her. She grasped then that someday she would be old.
For years, she stood frozen. Had she believed that if she didn't change, she wouldn't grow old? Being a witch can allow you to fool yourself. Magical folk often remain in stasis for decades until nature remembers their existence and limns their body with ice all at once.
It was that way with Albus. When she first met him at eleven years of age, he was her Transfiguration teacher, and he was already near one hundred. But he still retained a gorgeous thatch of flaming red hair that had yet to fade even to ginger with a sprinkling of silver. The man who would become the silver sage with a ready lemon drop waited for her early frost. Despite his great head start, they grew old together.
She didn't have a crush on Albus in her girlhood. No, she had wasted her true youth on a charming man with dark hair and eyes and even darker ambitions. And having been fooled once by an enigma, she pinned her course and heart on a man she was sure was of the light and the light only, of clear blue eyes, and lamb-white hair, and of her own House rather than a pit of snakes.
She looks down at her hands that crinkle like old parchment shot through with ropey veins of blue, and wonders what it would be like to be as young as Harry Potter again. To have that assuredness, that sense of faith and righteousness that you could put an unwavering trust in a man and not have that man change on you.
But really, she can hardly blame naïveté on an unlined face and hands. She thought better of Albus, too. Albus wouldn't do this. Albus was too noble to leave her without warning to deal with youth. With minds too young to grasp when they'd been manipulated and too high-spirited to stop and reflect. He couldn't possibly arrange things so that a younger man, who'd had too much darkness in his life, would be forced to use an Unforgivable.
This is a mistake. The spell must have been miscast. This portrait is just a likeness of Albus that moves and speaks with his voice but truly doesn't have more than two dimensions. She is not hearing this. Not hearing that Albus knew he was dying for months and did not trust her with it. That he left her to hate Severus without preparing her to hate him, instead.
As she does now. As she realizes that she is far too old to forgive the unforgivable--a broken trust.