A/N I do not own Harry Potter, or any of the characters within. I sincerely hope you know that by now. Also, I am aware that there were witnesses to Gellert Grindelwald's defeat in 1945, but I wanted to up the drama a little bit. Albus Dumbledore was always one of my favorite characters in the Harry Potter series. I hope you enjoy.
It was very late indeed and the whole of Hogwarts castle lay asleep in their beds, except for one person. The lanterns in Albus Dumbledore's study remained lit. The man himself was sitting at his desk, with his head bent forward and his eyes closed, as if he were sleeping. However he was wide awake this night. There, sitting on the desk sat a large, stone basin. Swirling around inside were these bluish/grayish wisps of smoke-like gasses. Suddenly he brought his head up and opened his eyes. Taking his wand in his left hand he brought it to his temple and quickly withdrew it bringing another wisp of smoke and putting it into the basin to join the others. The gas swirled faster and a miniature of a man's profile raised from the bowl. He was transparent and smoke-like just like the gas in the bowl. A deep, man's voice issued from the figure.
"You're a fool Albus." He rasped. "You don't know what you are doing! You will die, and for what? These muggles? These stupid, slow muggles? You're a fool Albus..." The voice began to echo "A fool..." Swirling around and around the figure retreated back inside the pensieve and the room was quiet once again.
"Oh Gellert..." Dumbledore sighed sadly, gripping the edge of the desk and closing his eyes again.
When his eyes closed, when he stopped talking, moving, whenever he sat still, he could feel the curse from the ring sitting on his left ring finger, coursing through his body. Like a slow poison, he could feel it going through his blood, his time was growing shorter, his life dimmer, and he could feel it. It already cost him his right hand, it wouldn't be long before it would cost him his entire body.
It was also during these times, his memories would rise up from deep within his brain and flood over. Some very good, happy memories, memories of his youth, memories of his time at Hogwarts. Birthdays. Christmases. Easters. Good feasts as Headmaster, Other memories were incredibly painful. Memories of his sister Ariana. Memories of his mother dying, the funeral, getting into a fight with his only brother Aberforth. Memories of the murders of all those good people during Voldemort's reign. This is what the pensieve sitting on the desk was for. Occasionally his mind would become too filled with all the memories of his long life, and he would extract it and examine it at a later time, from the safety of his study.
Opening his eyes again, he looked inside the pensive. He could see the tops of trees deep within. He took a deep breath to steady himself and allowed himself to fall...falling into the pensive, into a long distant memory in a long distant time.
He swiftly landed on his feet in the middle of a dense forest. It was daytime and the sun was shining brightly. He could see a man on the path, slightly ahead of him, nervously pacing back and forth. Albus glided over to where the man was. He was a younger version of himself. The year was 1945. He was sixty four then, with a thick layer of auburn hair on his head just beginning to whiten around the corners. His face was younger, and almost completely smooth with only the start of worry lines crinkling his forehead and around his eyes and mouth. His eyes were the same light, clear blue they are now, however they were still untouched with the wisdom that only old age brings. His beard was much shorter than it is now and auburn like his hair. His nose was just as crooked then as it was now. He touched his own nose as he looked at his younger counterpart pacing back and fourth. He was wearing a long dark purple cloak over set of black robes. A pair of black boots adorned his feet. The same boots that were on his feet now as a matter of fact, just less worn.
Suddenly, the younger version of himself moved forward on the path, moving with the air of someone determined to get whatever they have to do over with as soon as they can. Albus followed close behind. After about ten minutes of walking, they came to the edge of a clearing. The younger man stopped suddenly and took a very deep, steadying breath, clenching and unclenching his fists. Taking one more breath, he stepped into the clearing.
Another man stepped into the open area from the other side, joining Albus. He was wearing a black pair of pants and a black dress shirt, black boots and a thick black cloak. He had sandy hair with just a tinge of white going through it. His eyes were sparkling brown and clear, his skin was white porcelain without a single line or wrinkle. Albus' breath shortened in his chest as he beheld the man he hasn't seen in over twenty years. He was just as charming as he ever was, his eyes were just as intense and full of grand plans as they always were.
"Ahhhh Albus." The man greeted him genially, walking towards him. "You are looking well."
"Hello Gellert." the younger Dumbledore replied, taking a instinctive step closer to the other man. "You look..." He took another breath "Quite unchanged." The older Albus watched this exchange, trying to remain detached from his memory.
"I know why you are here Albus." Gellert started. Stepping even closer to Dumbledore, fully closing the gap between them. "You are here for this." He whispered reaching into his cloak and retrieved the unadorned wand that lay there. The Elder wand nearly quivered with power in his hand.
"You're wrong Gellert. I don't want the wand." He replied quietly, without taking his eyes off it.
Grindelwald started to laugh. "You never could fool me Albus. You have wanted this wand since the moment the thought entered your head."
"Things change." Dumbledore said softly. "I am no longer the power hungry man I was in my youth."
"Remember what we talked about Albus? All the things we discussed can come true. Our dream of a wizard dominated world can still come to fruition! I have the legendary Elder wand! If we unite the three Deathly Hallows we can subdue the entire world and rule it together! Think of it!"
"I know of the evil that wand has committed in your hand. I no longer wish to be part of it."
"The deaths of a few can lend itself towards the good of the entire world! You do not see Albus. Or at least, you saw once before. The suffering of a few worthless people can ultimately mean peace and the wizarding world in it's rightful place!"
"The end does not justify the means Gellert. The suffering of one is the suffering of thousands. I will not allow myself to be the cause of even one death to satisfy any sort of lingering desire for power."
"You were once." Gellert whispered cruelly. "Remember Ariana?" He whispered again, coming close enough to whisper in his ear. "Remember your sister? Do you really wish for her death to be in vain, my noble Albus Dumbledore?" As he pulled away he began to laugh mockingly at him, the younger Dumbledore's face flushed a furious red. His hands shook.
Watching all this, the older Dumbledore's eyes misted over, but he made no movement from his spot. He watched his younger self whip out his wand and point it at the sandy haired man's throat.
"How dare you?" He asked in a whisper, his voice trembling with anger. "How dare you mention my sister to me?"
Grindelwald blinked looking into Albus' crystal blue eyes which were filled with angry tears. He felt the cold wood of Albus' wand on his throat.
"Albus..." He whispered, this time not from anger, but from fright. "Albus...join me...we can rule this world together. We can rule the Deathly Hallows together." Dumbledore lowered his wand and backed off a few steps. "We can show the muggles and mudbloods and squibs who the real powerful men are." He continued looking most relieved that Dumbledore had lowered his wand.
"You are mad." Albus replied. "You have lost your wits. You have lost all sense of what is right and what is wrong. This is wrong. Do you not see?
"Mad am I?" Gellert asked, pointing his wand at Albus. "Stupefy!" He cried out, a red beam of light issuing from the Elder wand.
Albus easily dodged the spell; "Please Gellert! Please see reason!"
A sort of deranged madness was shining in the other Wizard's brown eyes as he cried out; "Locomotor Mortis!"
"Imedimenta!" Dumbledore replied, dodging the spell. Gellert's legs immediately froze and he fell over. "I don't want to fight you Gellert." Albus said, muttering the counter curse that would allow Grindelwald to use his legs. He scrambled to his feet.
"You will fight me Albus!" He screamed out. "Expelliar-"
"Expelliarmus!"Dumbledore yelled, sending Gellert flying backwards and his wand spinning out of his hand. He made no move to retrieve the ancient wand off the ground. He didn't want to even touch it. Instead he ran over to where Grindelwald is laying. "Gellert..." He said, touching him on the shoulder. "Please don't do this. You do not know what you are doing."
The other wizard stood up slowly and retrieved his wand laying on the ground. "Oh? With this wand, I am the greatest sorcerer in the world!! I do not know what I am doing?!? You're a fool Albus..It is you who don't know what you are doing! You will die, and for what reason? These muggles? These stupid, slow muggles?" He took a step closer to him. "Get up! Get up...and fight me! You're being noble I see. You were not so noble once. I remember you long ago...you would allow your own family to crumble and die. How...very...noble." He spat out, venom dripping from his tongue. He stood over the still crouching Dumbledore, pointing his wand at him. "Crucio!"
Instantly pain erupted all over his body. As if knives and thumbscrews were being forced into him. He screamed and fell to his knees, clutching his head in agony. It was as if time had almost completely stopped and each second was an eternity of blinding pain. Suddenly, the pain stopped. Albus looked up at Grindelwald who held his powerful wand up. He stood up and picked up his wand.
"See?" He asked, shaking a little bit. "There is mercy in even the coldest of hearts. Please see reason Gellert. Join us. Use that wand and that mind for good. I see you are good inside."
"Mercy...you think it was mercy that stayed my hand? You and your high ideals Albus. Think. This is nothing more than a game Dumbledore. I'm going to kill you. But first we must play the game. He raised his wand again. "Fight."
On and on the dueling continued, nonverbal spell after nonverbal spell were thrown at the other. The clearing almost looked like fireworks had erupted all the different colours of light as the duel went on. All the rocks around them had broken or exploded as the duel went on.Trees were splintered and cracking. Until finally, it grew very late and both men were sweating and panting. Albus lowered his wand.
"What is it Dumbledore? Don't tell me the great one is unable to defeat me!" Gellert taunted, raising his wand. "Stupefy!" He cried suddenly without warning.
"Protego!" The younger Albus cried quickly, instinctively. The stunning spell rebounded upon the caster and hit him square in the chest. A horrified look sprang to his eyes as he fell over backward.
As the silver haired Albus Dumbledore looked on, The young auburn haired Albus then fell to his knees and held his face in his hands, and wept bitterly. He wept for his sister, for his family that had completely crumbled and broken. He cried for his friend, once so good, now so twisted by darkness. He wept for lost youth, and lost innocence.
After a moment, he crawled forward towards his former friend who was laying motionless on the ground. He knelt and took a long look at the man he had once loved. He had coveted this man. He had confided in this man. He touched his face, brushing a wisp of blonde hair away from his forehead. Tears fell from his eyes as he did this. He touched his wrist, felt for a pulse. It was steady and strong. However, he put a lot of power into that rebound spell. Grindelwald would not would be reviving for at least eight hours. He picked up the Elder wand that was still clutched in his hand. He felt it vibrating slightly in his hand, almost as if it had a pulse. In that moment, Albus knew that the Elder Wand had passed on to a new master, and he must take it, and wield it, if even only to save people from the horrible evil this immensely powerful wand could commit in the wrong hands. He pocketed the wand and walked away from his enemy's still body, he would apparate directly to the Minister's office and sadly give the location of the body darkest wizard of the age.
He walked slowly towards the edge of the forest, past the older version of himself and out of the clearing without a single backwards glance. The older Albus took one last fleeting look at Grindelwald still laying on the ground and closed his eyes and left the pensieve. It would be the last time he indulged in this particular memory.
Once again, he sat at his desk and closed his eyes, trying to steady his breathing. It has been a long time since he had walked down that particular lane of memory. It was nearly morning now, and he would have set out in search of yet another horcrux that day. He felt very, very old in that moment. Very old and very tired. Slowly and stiffly, he stood and carefully put the penseieve back into the cupboard he had gotten it from. Albus then blew out the lantern and retired, where he knew sleep would not come. Not tonight. Tonight he would be haunted by those clear brown eyes.