Disclaimer: I think the saccharine character of DH's epilogue serves as ample proof that I own Harry Potter in no way, shape, or form. Quite a bit of this story is lifted verbatim from the British edition of PoA.
A/n:All of my acquaintances denounced me as Absurd when I claimed that there was Dumbledore/Grindelwald subtext in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... so you can imagine my elation on Friday when I found out that I was RIGHT ALL ALONG. This revelation is the easily the greatest thing since sliced bread. In fact, I think it blows sliced bread clear out of the water.
So, a celebratory crackfic.
No Dumbledore/Sliced Bread innuendo intended.
"I DON'T BELIEVE IT!" Hermione screamed.
Dumbledore let go of Grindelwald and turned his electric-blue gaze mildly in her direction. She was pointing at Dumbledore, wild-eyed. "You—you—"
"—you and him!"
"Miss Granger, calm yourself—"
"I didn't tell anyone!" Hermione shrieked. "I've been covering up for you!"
"An admirable intention, I'm sure, Miss Granger, but I really have nothing to—"
Harry could feel himself shaking, not with fear, but with a fresh wave of fury.
"I trusted you," he shouted at Dumbledore, his voice wavering out of control, "and all the time you've been his friend!"
"On the contrary," said Dumbledore, "I haven't been Gellert's friend for over a century now—actually, we had a bit of a nasty duel in 1945, hardly companionable behavior, I think you'll concede—but I am now. Let me explain..."
"No!" Hermione screamed, yet again. "Harry, don't trust him, he's been helping Grindelwald all along, he's got Nietzschian delusions of grandeur and wants to turn Europe into a pro-wizard fascist empire—and he's queer!"
There was a ringing silence. Everyone's eyes were now on Dumbledore (who looked remarkably calm, and was in fact in the process of unsticking a sherbet lemon), though Ron's gaze was distinctly nonplussed.
"Queer? What's that got to do with anything?" Ron said bemusedly. "Dumbledore's always been a bit on the batty side, why's that so—"
"I meant queer in the Biblical sense, Ronald!" snapped Hermione.
"She means that he bats with the other team's Beaters," hissed Harry out of the corner of his mouth.
"Since when has Dumbledore played Quid—oh." He blanched visibly. "Bloody hell."
"You seem to be laboring under a few misconceptions, Miss Granger," said Dumbledore, "grievous, though perhaps understandable, given the superfluity of circumstantial evidence. I have not been helping Gellert Grindelwald, and I certainly have no plans for establishing a pan-European totalitarian regime anytime in the near future." His eyes twinkled behind his half-moon glasses as he popped a sherbet lemon into his mouth. "But I won't deny that I am all kinds of queer."
Ron was so astonished that his knees gave out beneath him and hit the floor with a dull thud. Dumbledore made towards him, looking concerned, but Ron gasped, "Get away from me, poofter!"
Dumbledore shrugged. "Fair enough." He turned to Hermione and said, "How long have you known?"
Hermione's cheeks, already red from indignation, suddenly flushed a deep crimson. "I... was checking out some... additional reading from the Restricted Section," she blustered. "Purely clinical research, you know, for Muggle Studies. Wanted to get an idea of Wizarding... er, sexual practices, as contrasted with Muggle ones, as part of my term thesis on Wizarding-Muggle relations, that's all—"
"Perfectly understandable," agreed Dumbledore.
"And... and, well, the checkout card had your name on it. Seventy-two times."
"Ah. I think I know the tome you're referring to," said Dumbledore. "This Isn't Gay Porn, It's Purely Clinical Research For Muggle Studies by Hephaestos Browning?"
"Yes. That's the one."
"I thought so. I was rather fond of it during my school days. What did you think of it?"
"Oh! Well, it's not quite to the rigorous scholastic standards of Hogwarts, A History, certainly, but I did find it deeply informative in terms of—"
Harry thought the conversation was getting needlessly tangential, and decided that the quickest way to remedy this was by speaking in capital letters. "BUT WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH GRINDELWALD?"
Hermione, who had been discussing a literary concept with Dumbledore that seemed to involve a great deal of suggestive and complicated hand gestures, gave a start and turned towards Harry. "Well, Harry," she said, "Dumbledore and Grindelwald are—well, you know—together," she finished awkwardly. "In a non-platonic fashion."
"BUT HE'S THE EVIL OVERLORD WHO CAUSED WORLD WAR TWO!" objected Harry, his voice cracking with the sheer force of his pubescent rage. "HOW COULD YOU, DUMBLEDORE?!"
"For the love of Merlin, I didn't cause World War Two!" Grindelwald, who had been silently observing the unfolding drama from the corner of the room, cried suddenly and exasperatedly. "I was framed!"
"Framed?" exclaimed Hermione.
"Well, not so much framed as perpetually in the wrong place at the wrong time" amended Grindelwald. "I was searching the Continent for the Deathly Hallows—you wouldn't know about those, of course, but they're a bit like Chocolate Frogs cards, except when you collect them all you get to become Master of Death—and I kept accidentally Apparating into the middle of Nazi propaganda shoots! I'm simply terrible at targeted Disapparating! Albus will tell you!"
"It's true," confirmed Dumbledore. "Once he tried to Apparate from bed to the loo and ended up stark naked in the middle of my sister Ariana's bedroom. Poor girl had a brain aneurism and died on the spot. My brother Aberforth never did forgive either of us for that one—Gellert for the botched Disapparation, me for, er, being the one responsible his state of undress."
"We made up some cock-and-bull story about a three-way duel gone wrong because the truth just seemed so improbable," said Grindelwald. "But I was so ashamed about the mishap that I left England straightaway."
"We lost contact for years," said Dumbledore. "I thought he might have died. Then I saw the photographs—"
"—drew some erroneous conclusions—"
"—for which I am very sorry—"
"—and finally challenged me to a duel, which I accepted, of course, this being a matter of wounded honor and all—"
"—he had the Elder Wand by that point, but it didn't help him much—"
"—because I splinched myself when I Apparated in and left my wand hand in Budapest—"
"—which we reattached later, naturally—"
"—but not before imprisoning me in Nurmengard, which wasn't a prison, actually, just a summer house—"
"—Gellert has rather utilitarian tastes in architecture—"
"—but I finally managed to escape by growing out my hair and weaving it into rope—"
"—that's why it took fifty years for him to break out—"
"—you'd be surprised how much hair you need for just one rope—"
"—but in the end, he managed to evade capture long enough to reach Hogwarts and explain everything to me," finished Dumbledore at last. "We're perfectly reconciled, of course."
"But what about the letters?" demanded Hermione.
Dumbledore blinked politely. "Letters? What letters?"
"The letters you and Grindelwald sent each other that summer!" said Hermione. "I Timeturnered four years into the future while I was at Flourish & Blotts one day and read all about them in a book called The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore! They went on and on about the supremacy of wizardkind over Muggles and something called 'the greater good'—"
"Oh," said Grindelwald. "Those letters. They were Charmed."
"A simple Scrambling Charm," elaborated Dumbledore. "Designed to make the letter appear indecipherable to anyone other than the intended recipient."
"SO THEY WERE CODED LETTERS?"
"For God's sake, Harry, there's no more need to shout," Hermione declared irritably.
"SORRY. I CAN'T SEEM TO HELP MYSELF ONCE I GET IN CAPSLOCK MODE. PUT A QUIETUS ON ME, SEE IF THAT HELPS."
Hermione rolled her eyes and obliged.
"That's better," said Harry in rather less strident tones. "So they were coded letters?"
"Exactly," replied Dumbledore and Grindelwald in unison.
"Then what exactly does 'for the greater good' mean, out of code?" asked Ron, who seemed to have finally recovered from his initial shock enough to contribute to the conversation again.
"'Our Victorian-era genius boylove is so deliciously Wildesian that it cries out for a spinoff novel'," said Dumbledore.
There was a long silence.
"That's the gayest thing I've ever heard," announced Harry finally.
"Well," said Grindelwald sheepishly, "I did have it carved above the door of my summer house for a reason."
A/n: Well, that was therapeutic. Back to my busy life!