So J.K. Rowling's outed on of her characters, and of course I had to react accordingly with a fanfiction for it. (And the idea of what Dumbledore might have really seen in the mirror of Erised just wouldn't leave me alone until I'd written about it)
That said, if you have a problem with reading about relationships between people of the same gender, I suggest that you don't read this story; I have plenty of other stories, some of which contain relationships between people of opposite genders, so go read them if you want; whatever floats your boat…
Disclaimer: Some of the lines in this story are taken directly from Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone; those lines, these characters, and anything you recognize belongs to J.K. Rowling; all else is mine. :P
A Simple Question
"What do you see when you look in the mirror?"
The question was a simple one, and perhaps there should have been a simple answer. But Albus Dumbledore had been alive a very, very long time and had lived long enough to know that nothing was ever simple; not one thing. There was always something more to everything then what you saw on the surface. There was meaning and reasons behind ever little thing in the world.
Albus wishes thing were simple though; (it would be easier that way) But they aren't. Especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
Harry's own desire for his parents was easy to understand: the reason for it was his own bad family life, and his dreams of what a real family could be. It was a desire that stemmed from his own observances his friend's interactions with their families, and ultimately, Harry's desire was rooted in a longing to be a part of something that made sense in a world that seemed strange, new, and sometimes frightening and confusing. Harry's seemingly simple desire wasn't really simple at all, no matter how simple it seemed right then and there. But he was just eleven; he was a yet a child, and his life wasn't yet as complicated as it would be doomed to become when he was older; or perhaps it was that Harry didn't understand how complicated the world around him truly was… or that he wasn't yet old enough to understand the heart, and how dreadfully complicated it could make things. Ten years later, were he to stand in front of the mirror again, he'd probably find though that his desires and wishes weren't the same as the bright-eyed optimistic child that had stood before it so long ago… and that what he wanted in life wasn't so clear-cut anymore.
Albus Dumbledore knew that Harry's question had been innocent and that the boy didn't truly realize what memories, wishes, and long lost desires he made the old man remember—he was too young to realize that no simple answer could be given to his seemingly simple question… but Dumbledore wasn't about to break this innocent childhood notion that everything was simple: that everything would work out in the end, and that you could do anything, get anything that you wanted if you worked hard enough (after all, he'd thought that way too once upon time, hadn't he?).
For a child destined to grow up far too quickly in order to carry the hope's of their entire world on his shoulders, it'd be cruel to take even the smallest piece of the child that still remained within him.
So Dumbledore was quiet for a time as he stared contemplatively at the mirror, and the image inside that really should've been simple, but wasn't at all.
Blonde hair, and pointed features, and those hypnotic eyes—no, no, the boy in the mirror—Gellert Grindelwald, his best friend and future dark lord— and the relationship he had had with him had never been simple; not even when they had been young, and the desire had never been simple either; but then again love never was simple.
And seeing those eyes again brought back memories: memories of late nights spend talking about everything, and nights where they'd say nothing at all save for a whisper at odd moments ("Did you know that the Minister was thinking about writing up a new charms policy?" "Did you hear that they're trying to put flying carpets back on the market?" "Did you hear about what happened in Ireland last night…?) And he remembered how they'd simply lie out under the stars on the Dumbledore's roof. And he remembered laughing like he'd never laughed before, and feeling that he'd found an equal for once, and he remembered eating biscuits together on the lawn, and whispering their dreams to each in hushed secretive voices, as if anyone but the other were to over hear, their desires would fall like a crystal ball and shatter into a thousand pieces.
And he remembered looking into the other boy's eyes when he spoke of the future, and he remembered how he spoke so quickly and excitedly in his native tongue, and how his words had been intoxicating… and how he had lapped it all up, and accepted every single dream Gellert had, and had wanted to make those dreams a reality, just so his friend would be happy.
"Ich will die Welt verändern Albus;" He'd whisper, "Für das grössere gute."
"Du und ich Albus: Wir werden die Welt berichtigen."
And though he knew what the words meant now, he didn't back then, and yet he nodded fervently anyway, with eyes wide and excited, and his mind drunk with the ideas Grindelwald had planted within him.
Aberforth hadn't trusted Gellert from the start, but Albus hadn't cared—in the back of his mind he heard the gentle tones of a German voice whispering "Die Welt Albus, die Welt!" and instead of paying attention to Aberforth's disapproving glare, he'd think of the times he and Gellert had spent on the roof. Instead of listening to Abeforth harp about pointless things, and instead of thinking of Ariana's sad eyes, he remembered the one time (his happiest memory) when he'd been sitting on the roof in thin robes with sock-less feet , and how Gellert had given him his own socks since Albus' feet were cold. He remembered so clearly how the other boy had throw an arm lazily around his shoulders, and had throw a blanket across their laps, and whispered "Eines Tages (Someday)," and how he'd sighed, and squeezed his hand, "Eines Tages…"
And so many years later in an old unused classroom in England as Albus Dumbledore stood looking back on that moment with so much more understanding and so many more years of wisdom under his belt then he had had back then…he still did not understand what he friend had meant by "Someday." He also knew that he'd probably never know.
He sees that very boy in the mirror now with bare feet and a face flushed from the cold night air, hair ruffled by the wind, and lips curved ever so slightly into a smile. Albus swears as he stands there that he hears a familiar voice whispering "Someday."
Harry looks at his Headmaster expectantly, innocently, waiting for answers. And Dumbledore knows he doesn't really have to answer, and that if he does answer, he doesn't think that an eleven-year-old boy could understand the truth. And really, he could say a number of things that would all make reasonable sense, but instead he finds himself saying "I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks." And he smiled and added "One can never have enough socks."
And Harry looked a bit skeptical, but it seems as though he might understand; so Harry doesn't pry further, and simply leave the room silently after throwing his father's invisibility cloak over his shoulders.
Albus doesn't move for a time after however; he stared for a moment at the mirror, and he remembers a reckless soul full of wonderful and wretched ideas; an ambitious man who'd shared all of his dreams with him; a dark lord with hands covered in blood and eyes full of malice; and finally, a man being dragged away after being defeated with wide eyes that reminded him of the boy he'd once been, staring so intently back at him; and he sees all these things inside the boy in the mirror, and he knows the ending to Gellert Grindelwald's the story—and really, the memories of what happened (of what Gellert became) should've been enough to make him hate Grindelwald…
…but nothing is ever that simple.
"Auf Wiedersehen…Gilert." Albus whispers, and without another word, he leaves the room and the mirror, all the while followed by a voice in the back of his mind whispering "Someday, Someday…."
A single tear fell down the old Headmaster's face, but it was ignored, and he disappeared into the darkness of Hogwarts, trying to think about the future while trying desperately to for the moment at least, forget the past.
He finds that before he goes to sleep, he hears the echoes of "Someday" in his head anyway.
A/N: If I have any fluent German speakers reading this story, if you notice a mistake with the German I used in the story, please tell me and I'll correct it right away. I did my best, but… I might have managed to screw something up, so tell me if I did. :)
Translation Guide (For anyone who cares, but the translations aren't really vital to the understanding of the story):
"Ich will die Welt verändern Albus; Für das grössere gute.": I want to change the world Albus; for the greater good."
"Du und ich Albus: Wir werden die Welt berichtigen."" You and me Albus—we will make the world right.
"Auf Wiedersehen": Goodbye.
(Edit: Much Thanks to Chrisy Agitado, as well as other reviewers for the corrections on the German!)