.. five thing Ariana Dumbledore never got to say …
i. She woke up in the middle of the night, ripped from her dreams by the tears coursing down her cheeks. She cried out, sobbing, wanting one of her brothers here. Shaking, she wrapped her arms around her legs and let her hair fall over her face, blocking out the pale moonlight shining through her window.
"Are you all right, Ari?" Abe's hushed voice breaks through the darkness. She screamed when he put a hand on her back, and he jerked away, properly chastised for his actions. "Do you need anything?"
I need Albus, she cried in her mind, salty tears falling into her open mouth. Why does he never come?
"Al," she choked out, the words tearing her throat. Aberforth frowned at her.
"You want Albus?" he asked, incredulous. She sobbed louder, nodding her head, her nightgown becoming damp from her crying. She didn't even know why she was crying; only that it was bad, horribly, terribly bad.
She heard Abe leave the room, heard him slip into Al's room, the one next to hers. There was a whispered conversation, and then the soft pad of feet down the carpeted hall. She looked up, hoping for Al's tall, powerful, protective form there.
It was Abe standing in the doorway. "I'm sorry Ari," he told her softly, coming to sit beside her on the bed. "Albus can't come right now." She notices how he hesitates, choosing words carefully. A shadow passed over the wall, and she screamed again. Abe wrapped his arms around her, shielding her, but it wasn't enough.
She could hear Al in the next room, the quiet scratches of quill on parchment, and he doesn't want her, he never did, writing letters was more important then her—
I hate you.
ii. Every other morning, Abe went out for a stretch of time, leaving her alone with Al, which she secretly enjoyed because Al let her play the enchanted radio up loud and didn't care; but still, she was curious about where her brother went. After all, their neighborhood was only so big, and she had vague memories of running all across it in the summertime, but those were blurry and pointless to think about.
"Me too?" she asked him one morning as he slipped on his cloak, inherited from Al and slightly moth eaten from its long stay in the closet during spring.
Abe looked up at her, raising his eyebrows. "You want to come?" His auburn hair that was cut short, unlike his brother's, was shining with the light coming through the kitchen window. She nodded and took another bite of her eggs, wondering idly if Al had made some tea the day before. "I don't know, Ari. Are you sure you're up to it?"
"Yes, yes," she assured him, thinking of how wonderful it would be to get out of the house.
"Yes, yes, what?" Al entered the kitchen, looking sleepy, and sat down across from her at the table with a large yawn
"She wants to go out with me," Abe said to him. She watched as Al's brow furrowed, and she realized that this was the defining moment—for no matter how much Al and Abe argued, Al got final say on everything.
"Are you sure she can handle it?" Al asked, looking doubtfully at Abe. She wanted desperately to know what they were talking about, but kept quiet, knowing that if she questioned them they would change their minds and not let her go.
For a few minutes her brothers tossed around words she didn't understand—"Long time grief" "needs some closure" "what's the bloody harm?" That last one she was pretty sure was what Al liked to call inappropriate.
"Fine," Al finally gave in, sighing and standing up. He made to pour himself a cup of tea, and she held out her cup to him as Abe looked on triumphantly
"Tea, Al?" she said, and he poured some obligingly. She smiled at the warm liquid and had taken only one small sip when Abe ordered her to go get dressed. Pouting, but still curious about where Abe intended to go, she bid her tea a sad goodbye and went to put on her dress.
"Bye bird!" she called, waving to the speck in the distance and feeling the wind whip around her. "Bye-bye!" Abe tugged on her arm, making her look ahead again.
"Stop that," he told her. "You leave the birds alone, Ari."
"Nice birds." She saw several flocking on the small empty space of grass near the end of the street and smiled, pointing at them.
"I know they're nice. But leave them alone." She frowned, trying to find her brother's logic, and eventually decided it wasn't worth it and returned to watching the birds.
"Almost there?" she asked Abe, taking his hand in hers.
"Almost." He tilted his chin towards the empty space where she had seen birds gathering earlier. "That's where we're going." She broke into a grin and let go of Abe's hand, twirling around in the middle of the street.
"You like it outside, don't you?" he asked her, obviously amused. She nodded vigorously and twirled again, her long yellow dress rising around her. Her hair spun around as well, dancing in the wind, and she laughed.
"Here we are," Abe said softly, stopping her movement with a hand on her shoulder. She stared at where he had paused, and now saw that it was not an empty space of grass, but littered with small rounded stones. She looked up at her brother, wanting explanation.
"This is a graveyard," he told her, walking across the brown grass, crunching leaves beneath him. She followed with smaller, quieter steps, all the happiness drained out of her. "Mama is buried here, Ariana."
"Mama?" She felt an odd flutter in her stomach, thinking of Mama. She hadn't seen her in such a long time. But why was she buried?
"Yes." Aberforth stopped once more, in front of a small marker. He bent down and traced his fingers along the words, reading them out loud to his sister. "'Kendra Dumbledore. Loving wife and mother. Died tragically in May.'"
She didn't understand why the words were making her so sad. She whimpered and blinked back tears as Abe sat in front of the marker, looking solemn. She hated this.
Bending down, she sat beside Abe, leaning against him. He wrapped an arm loosely around her, protecting her from the fierce wind. She lent forward and traced the letters on the marker, barely comprehending them.
I miss you so much, Mama. Please come home.
iii. It was cold, even for the summertime. Abe was out with the goats, and she would have gone with him but for the fact that earlier that morning she had coaxed Al into agreeing to read to her later, and she was intent on him taking up on that promise. She had bid Abe a sweet goodbye as he lit a fire in the grate before leaving, and Al had come down several minutes later to write a few letters (to people Abe told her were "very, very important and other such things"), looking vaguely surprised to see her. Now, he was deep into his writing, occasionally pausing to tap his wand to the inkwell and refill it, as she stared into the fire, her eyelids becoming heavier with each passing moment.
"Ari. Ari, are you read for bed?" She blinked her eyes open, rubbing them blearily. Al's tall, gangly form was poised over her, and she shifted on the sofa.
"Read, Al," she reminded him. Al gave a noisy sigh.
"Must I tonight, Ari?" he asked wearily. She nodded her head up at him.
"Read, please?" she said, her eyes going wide and unblinking. Albus, uncomfortable with his own eyes staring up at him, looked away and remembered his promise over breakfast that morning to read to her. He should have known that Ariana did not let of something she wanted.
"Fine." He settled down beside her on the sofa, and felt a flash of warmth as she nestled into his side, laying her chin on his shoulder. Briefly, he admired her innocence before asking her what she wanted him to read.
"Book," she answered, tugging from the floor her copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. It was well worn, as she had got it as a gift from her mother when she was young, and she handed it to Al. He flipped open to a random page and began to read, his words first rushed and then becoming slower and softer as the story progressed. She listened quietly, liking the tale and the fact that she had her brother reading to her.
It was nearly pitch black outside when Al finally closed the book, careful not to tear the binding any more than it already was. "There you are. Ready to go to bed now?" he asked, standing up and stretching. She nodded and allowed him to help her up, and grabbed her book before Al led her to her bedroom.
"Good night." Al kissed her forehead, and she smiled sleepily as she lay down in bed. She was still holding her book, and with special care sat it on her bedside table, the moonlight shining across the cover and binding.
The side read The Tales of Beedle the Bard and she knew it. But she only knew it because Al and Abe had told her so. The thought unsettled her for some reason—why did they know what it said and she didn't?
Even though she was desperately tired, she stayed awake for an hour more, staring at the side of her book, uncomprehending.
I wish I knew how to read.
iiii. It was a sunny summer day when Gellert came to watch her.
She didn't mind. After all, she liked Gellert, though she made him explain several times over why she was staying with someone other than one of her brothers for the first time in months: it had been obvious for a while that Abe needed new robes, as his were dreadfully threadbare, but he detested going out for any reason other than to feed the goats, and kept putting off going into Diagon Alley. Al, using surprisingly parental force, had decided that he needed some new ones now. Although Al had been terribly embarrassed to ask his friend to look after his little sister, she had watched Gellert happily agree to spend the day with her as her elder brothers shopped for some of Abe's new clothing.
Gellert was, she admitted, very good company. He didn't spend every moment with her, and yet he didn't ignore her either. It was a strange mix, as she lived with both of the extremes, and found the middle ground odd,
It was early in the afternoon, and she had long since grown bored of lying on the sitting room floor, playing with Margarine, her kitten, and staring out the wide open window. With an irritated sigh and a sense of resentment, she finally resorted to actually doing what Al had told her to do—fold laundry.
Absently, she tossed one of her nightgowns to the side, deciding to take it to her bedroom later. She frowned down at her piles of folded clothing; they were folded crooked, sleeves and collars sticking out, and they looked a right mess. But, she reasoned, they were going to be unfolded in order to be worn, anyway, so it was all right.
"Oh," she sighed, looking at the laundry basket still filled to the brim with clothes smelling faintly of lavender. It was going to take her ages to finish folding all of this.
"How are you doing, liebling?" Gellert's voice came from the doorway, and she swung around. Her long hair was half tied back with a ribbon that Al had twined in it, naturally having much nimbler fingers than Abe, and it fell across her shoulder in her haste. She brushed it back irritably.
"Good," she answered, casting a forlorn look at the piles of clothes still needing to be folded. Gellert laughed and came to sit on the sofa, in front of which she sat with her legs crossed, the laundry basket thrown haphazardly onto the side table, where it was balanced precariously on the edge. He took it and sat it at his feet, slightly beside her, and smiled.
"I will help you. This is all right?" She smiled back at him, brilliantly, and leaned back against his legs. The folding went much more quickly with both of them at it, and Gellert entertained her with occasional stories from when he had lived in Germany. The sun shoe through the large window, warming her side, and making her comfortably sleepy against Gellert as she rhythmically folded clothing. His words fell around her, intermingled with English and German, phrases and words she didn't know, but it didn't matter, because they were told just for her.
Gellert, you make me so happy.
iv. The morning of her fourteenth birthday, she woke up early as usual, with the light of dawn still fresh in the sky. She padded softly down the hallway, her hair tangled and falling down her back, her nightgown a rumpled mess. The sitting room was her first stop, to open the blinds of the huge window and let the rays of barely-there sunshine have a chance to spill into the room. It took her a minute longer to open the actual window, due mostly in part to her tiny frame, but she managed it eventually and was rewarded with a cool breeze to accompany the sun.
The kitchen was next. She hoped that Al and Abe would wake soon, because while she was perfectly capable of making toast and tea by herself, she felt justified in asking Al to make some pancakes. After all, it was her birthday.
"Happy birthday, Ari!" was what greeted her as she entered the kitchen. Her eyebrows, as Al's often did, rose up as she found her brothers already milling about the kitchen, and the smell of food thick in the air. They were never up for at least another hour—what was going on?"
"Sleep?" was what she asked, completely ignoring one of Abe's principal rules and perching herself on the edge of the kitchen counter. He chose to ignore this, for which she was thankful, and answered, "We wanted to wish you a happy birthday, Ariana. And make you some breakfast."
"That's right," Al said, using his wand to stir what looked like batter. She hadn't seen him this relaxed looking in a very long time, she realized, and it made her heart ache.
"Thank you," she said modestly, remembering manners drilled into her head by Al.
"Would you like your present?" Abe asked, grinning impishly, and she quirked her lips.
"Al?" She turned to her elder brother, wanting to know if it was all right having her present, and he wiped his hands on a tea towel.
"Sure thing, Ari. Come here." To her surprise, he went and sat down beside Abe at the kitchen table. It had been ages since they had gone so long without exchanging a snappish word, and she felt very pleased indeed—and she hadn't even got her present yet!
"Here," Al said, raising his wand, which she could see was still sticky from being dipped in batter, and waved it subtly under the table. He reached to the floor and withdrew a small box, wrapped in the paper that she had admired sitting in Al's closet once before, a brilliant, shining green, and she felt a swell of joy that he had remembered how much she liked it.
"Go on, open it," Abe urged, sliding the box across the table to her. She slid her fingers beneath the carefully sealed edges of paper and popped it up, allowing her to easily slide out the actual box. The lid was easy enough to open, and she reached a hand inside, feeling around, still with no clue what could be inside.
"Oh—" What she withdrew had a tiny sapphire. It also had a small golden chain that pooled into her hand softly, and she stared up at her brothers in wonder. Abe had a silly grin on his face, and Al stood up, coming around behind her and taking the necklace from her hand.
"We figured that every girl needs to have a nice necklace," he explained, hooking the chain around her neck, against which it felt cool and smooth. "And Aberforth found in when we went shopping that day you stayed with Gellert. Do you like it?"
"Pretty," she said quietly, fingering the sapphire, which glinted deep blue, and pierced her eyes in an oddly hypnotic way. "Pretty." Unable to help herself, she ran over to the other side of the table and threw her arms around her brothers, who seemed uncomfortable for a moment before she felt them relax and hug her back. The scent of pancake batter swam through the air, and her new necklace swung like a pendulum through the air.
I love you, Al. I love you, Abe.