"He gave us a double?"
Albus could understand Jack's surprise. It wasn't what Harold would normally assign to two single men, but then it was generally understood, if not spoken, that Albus was not an ordinary single man. Neither, he suspected, was Jack, although this wasn't really any concern of his. Albus had no interest in romance so soon after locking Gellert up, and even if he were, Jack was clearly too young for him, regardless of what he might say. Nonetheless, Harold's misunderstood assumption about his intentions was a little amusing.
However, he did not convey this amusement to Jack, who was leaning on the closed door, holding the bottle of mead that Albus had passed to him when he lost the room key in one of his many pockets. "It's just the time of year, Jack. They tend to do more business during the summer and I doubt there were many other rooms left. Besides, I asked for a room so that we could talk in private, not so that we had somewhere to sleep." Before Jack could ask any more questions he dumped his carpet bag on the bed and turned to look for some glasses, putting the conversation about the room to an end.
The room was small and cramped; there items it contained were limited to one bed, two armchairs, a tiny table beside them and a cupboard under a low bench from which Albus recovered some wine glasses. But it would do. Albus had wanted somewhere more private, and he doubted a third person would be able to fit in this room.
"Do all the folks around here call you 'Dumbledore'?" Jack asked, seating himself in an armchair and trying, with no success, to figure out how to open the bottle. "Isn't that a bit formal?"
"I think it comes with being a schoolteacher," Albus sat down opposite him in the other chair, placed the glasses on the table beside them and unstoppered the bottle with a neat flick of his wand. "Harold's not much younger than me, but I taught his children, and most of the younger adults around here."
"Do you mind that I call you Albus, then? Or should it be 'Dumbledore', or 'Professor'? Now there's something I've never been called before. And I've been called a lot of things. Hey, that's nice," he added, appreciatively, as he sampled the mead. "Much nicer than that awful brew we had before. More refined."
"Wizards cannot claim credit for the invention of mead, I'm afraid," said Albus, sampling his own. "I believe it's one of the oldest drinks known to man, or at least one of the oldest known to Britain. I'd like to think that we've just about perfected the art, though."
"It just goes to show that magic isn't everything, I suppose," Jack said, philosophically. "You haven't answered my question."
"There aren't many people that call me 'Albus' any more. I've become more used to Dumbledore. My old friend Elphias still uses my first name, as does my brother on the rare occasions that we speak, but most of the time I'm just 'Dumbledore'. Not all that many people in our society refer to each other by first names, you know. It's very symbolic. Of closeness, you see."
"Or stuffiness, perhaps," Jack snorted. "I notice you don't bother calling me 'Harkness' now that we're not in front of anyone else."
There was silence for a few moments as Albus mulled over the significance of that little lapse of his in calling the man by name. It was an odd thing to do. But then, he had learned that it didn't do one much good to dwell too much on the significance of things.
"You asked Harold to call you 'Jack', and you seem to prefer it – or perhaps I should call you Captain? At any rate, you are clearly a most unusual man, and if you prefer it then you may as well call me Albus." He peered at Jack over the half-moon glasses he had only recently taken to wearing. "Indeed, you seem like the sort of man who cannot be deterred from calling me whatever you want."
"Damn right, Alby. Okay, okay, Albus," Jack acquiesced when Albus fixed him with a glare. "And please call me Jack. Much as I like having a title, it doesn't mean all that much any more."
Albus wondered whether to question him about that; he was fairly taken with Muggles and knew a decent amount about their much larger and more formal military forces. It was puzzling that Jack should think his title meaningless. But he put that to the back of his mind as it may well be inappropriate to ask about the man's military connections when the Great War was still such a fresh memory for all of them.
"So, Jack," Albus began, swirling the remainder of mead in his glass before drinking it. That first glass had gone fast. "I may as well get straight to the point. It would appear, to the uneducated observer such as myself, that you can find yourself in a situation – such as an automobile accident – which would leave most men dead, and yet emerge unscathed. Why is that?"
Jack also drained his glass and refilled Albus' before his own. "It's pretty simple. I can't die."
"What do you mean, you can't die? Is it somehow impossible to damage your body?"
"Well, yeah, it is. I can be injured just as badly as the next man. I guess I didn't phrase that all that well. Maybe what I should say is, I can't stay dead. I die, sure. I've 'died' a fair few times now. But I always come back."
There were so many questions in Albus' head at that moment. He had suspected that this was the case but had buried the idea; it seemed ludicrous. After all, he and Gellert Grindlewald had searched the whole known world for ways to conquer death, but when even magic proved ultimately futile he had given up the thought that it would ever be possible for anyone. And yet he had seen this man survive an accident that should have killed him, and that same man was now saying that he couldn't die. It was both exhilarating and terrifying to see the old dream before him again.
Yet the only questions that he could force from his lips were the most childish ones, the things that he and Gellert had never asked way back when. What does it feel like? Does it hurt?
"Yeah, it hurts," he said, in an offhand manner, "But you get used to it." And then he laughed at the absurdity of the statement, and Albus did, too. "Not that there's been anyone else who ever had the chance to get used to dying. But the pain doesn't matter that much. The first time I died was the same as every other time. There's always pain – I hear you can die painlessly, but I've never done it. After all, if you're going to live forever, you may as well live dangerously. So there's pain, but it doesn't matter that much. You're more preoccupied with the fact that you're dying. You always know, somehow. You know when you're done for. I've been injured a hell of a lot of times, and let me tell you, the pain of an injury is no indication of how serious it is. Some of the most trivial injuries hurt the most. But when it's fatal, well, you just know somehow."
He paused to take a sip of mead, and observed that it really was remarkably good. He said nothing more for a few moments, just drinking, and while Albus knew that he could interrupt here, he sensed that Jack still had more to say.
"And then it's like falling asleep," he continued, at last. "Just like falling asleep. Almost. And just before I'm out for good and my mind goes completely blank, I'm alive again, and everything suddenly starts working."
"Amazing," Albus murmured.
"Is it really? With all the other amazing things you can do, I'd have thought immortality was pretty run-of-the-mill."
"On the contrary," Albus said, "Death is the last great mystery which nobody can conquer. It's well beyond the realms of magic, or at least of most people's magical ability. Sort of. I'm not explaining this very well, am I?"
"Is that because you don't understand it, or because you don't want to?" Jack asked before lifting a glass to his lips and closing his eyes as he sipped it.
Albus laughed at that. "Oh, I understand. I dare say I understand the limits of magic and death better than any other wizard. It's at the very core of our myths and our folklore, all of which has a truth at the heart of it which many spend their lives searching for. And then there's alchemy – it's not just a hobby for batty ancients, you know," he added, noting Jack's startled expression at the mention of the word. "An unusual and very difficult branch of magic which very few have made any achievements at, but very real and very powerful."
He didn't mention the attempts he had made for many years to replicate the success of Nicholas Flamel at creating the elixir of life. It was a project he had begun shortly after Ariana's death – after the spectacular separation from Gellert – and which had gone from a hobby to an obsession as Gellert Grindlewald grew into the dark wizard who was intent on murder and destruction and Albus desperately sought another way. He had abandoned the project when he resigned himself to the fact that Grindlewald had to be faced; it was hopeless, he had made virtually no progress and even if he did, he had been fooling himself all along in his belief that he could solve the problem with alchemy. Perhaps, in the unlikely event that he succeeded in creating the elixir, he could save people from death. But there was no way he could create it in large enough amounts to save everyone who fell in the dark wizard's path, and even if he could the most painful truth in the matter still had to be faced – no alchemy, no kind of magic, could change the fact that no matter how much he loved him, Gellert would still be a homicidal brute.
"Why?" Albus asked, before Jack could question him any further about magic and death. For most wizards it was little more than theory, or even fairytale, but for Albus it was the tragedy at the centre of his life and he was not going to discuss it with a stranger he had only just met, no matter how mysterious and fascinating he was. "Or perhaps the more appropriate word is 'how'. How is it that you came to be in this position of constantly evading death?"
"Oh, I don't evade death," was Jack's retort. "If you want to get all metaphorical about it then I just kind of cross his path every now and again. Sometimes I use death. Sometimes death is just like a door I have to break down to get to where I'm going next. Not in the usual sense, like when people talk about going to the next world or whatever, but there are some places you can't get to, and some things you can't do, without dying in the process. I go in, I die, and then I come out the other side again."
There was a question that was hiding at the back of Albus' mind, nagging to be asked, through all of this. He was aware that pain, in some cases, could be satisfying, pleasurable in a way. Pain could be addictive. If one could die again and again, could that possibly perform the same function? Did Jack like dying? Did he ever throw himself at Death? Did he want to die, to die and stay dead instead of this constant false rebirth?
But as much as Albus longed to ask those questions, he held back. This was not the time, and it was a distraction. He was getting off track. Jack may not evade death, but he was evading Albus' questions.
"But why? How? What made you 'immortal', if that's the right word?"
Jack was silent for a long moment, thinking. His face betrayed nothing of his thoughts. Albus began to think that he had forgotten the question, that his mind was it a completely different place and was wondering whether to interrupt him when Jack suddenly spoke up.
"Why the heck is my glass empty again? We sure are getting through this bottle fast."
He topped up Albus' glass and refilled his own, and Albus began to wonder whether the mead had been a bad idea. Should he be dulling his senses right now, on the verge of such a crucial discovery? Or was it perhaps better that he did forget it? He was sensing, already, the dangers of getting involved in more dissertations about death and its mysteries, when his life had already been ripped apart by it over the years. It was a fascination he should have learned to stay away from. But with every sip of mead, he knew, Jack would grow a little more amicable to talk, and despite his hesitations he could not bring himself to speak up and stop him.
"The first time I died, I stayed dead," Jack began. "It was… oh, this is so hard to explain. It was a long, long way in the future, something you probably can't imagine. We were fighting a truly hopeless battle against a completely terrifying enemy. My friends were… they were in the command centre, I suppose you could say, and I was on the front line. Worlds apart."
He paused, briefly, and Albus wondered who exactly those friends were for a moment, and why they were so far away from him. Why they had been separated like that. Or perhaps he was remembering the goodbyes.
"It was the last time I saw either of them, not that that matters," he said, too casually. "But the main thing is that I died. There wasn't a mark on me, which I think helped. It's hard to explain, but the Daleks – that's who we were fighting – they kill with this weapon, it's like a ray, like…"
"I understand completely." For a brief, insane moment, Albus was tempted to demonstrate what a curse looked like, but he banished the notion in horror. "The killing curse which wizards have at their disposal is much the same, I think."
"Daleks aren't magic," Jack said, almost automatically, and then laughed. "And Heaven help us if they are. There's a scary thought. Anyway, they killed me. I was a normal human being then, and I died, and I didn't come back. But Rose…" He stopped again, struggling with the explanation. "She… oh, I can't make you understand this, I just have to say it. She opened the heart of the TARDIS, and it looks like a machine but it's alive, and it's ancient and it's unbelievably powerful. And she took it inside her and she wanted to make things right but she didn't know how, and she wanted to bring me back but she did it all wrong. She fixed me too well. She fixed me forever."
He paused then and took a long drink. Albus was excited, but contained himself, told himself to let Jack talk, let him talk as long as he wanted and let him finish the story, if there was any more to say.
"Anyway, after that I was stuck on this damn satellite, and Rose and the Doctor – that's the other friend that we travelled with – they'd gone and nicked off and bloody well left me there. I used this thing," he pointed to his watch-like time-travel device, "To get me back to Earth, but I got all mixed up and ended up in the wrong time, and then the damn thing broke on me. So now I'm just hanging around waiting for the twenty-first century so I can chase down the Doctor again."
He sighed, suddenly, and drained the rest of his glass. He was, Albus acknowledged, drinking rather recklessly.
"I don't know whether I'll ever be any different, or if I'm stuck like this, but I know that if it can be fixed, the only person who can do it is the Doctor. So I guess until then I just have to stay stuck down here and continue to not die." He cracked a wry grin. "I just hope I don't start ageing as well. Imagine what a human would look like if he lived to be a thousand years old…"
So many questions. Far too many. What a treasure this man was, what a miracle! Albus had longed to be the master of death and here, in a sense was that master, right before his eyes. How utterly extraordinary. How he longed to find out more about him, to find out everything, to have each and every answer. And how strong the sense of danger, that this was something he should leave alone, that every time he went down this path of investigation it only ever lead to disaster. And in the midst of this blur of conflicts, blurred further by the mead that Jack kept his glass constantly full of, he finally let out one little comment.
"What do you want from me?" Jack asked, sharply. He placed the glass on a table and in an instant he was out of his chair, leaning threateningly over Albus. "You're asking too many questions. You're wondering whether this is magic, aren't you? You think that you can use me? Well don't ask me how it works, and don't think you can find out by locking me up and… and stripping me down and pulling me apart. Is that what you were thinking? Because if it was, you can forget it right now."
"Sit down, Jack," Albus said, in the best schoolteacher voice he could muster. To his relief, Jack complied. That was far too close for comfort, because Jack was completely right. After all the time he and Gellert had spent trying to cheat death, remembering how passionately he had wanted to and finding, finally, what looked like an answer, the thought had crossed his mind. He had wanted to know how this worked from the moment he had seen Jack sit up after he was hit by that car.
When Jack was pinning him to his chair, though, when Jack's face was inches from his own, Albus had wanted something quite different. In that brief moment, death was the furthest thing from his mind. Death was the past and the future, but right then Albus had been hopelessly rooted to the present.
"According to wizarding law," Albus said, doing his best to keep his voice firm, "My only concern ought to be that you, despite anything else which is peculiar about you, are a Muggle, and you have become aware of the existence of magic. The only thing I'm legally permitted to do to you is to erase your memory. There certainly won't be any locking you up and… er… pulling you apart."
Jack let out a derisive 'heh' at that. "Normally what I'd do to someone who found out about me is to erase their memories, too."
"I don't see much point in performing a memory charm on you," Albus continued. "You have no way to return to this world and there is so much about you that is unusual that you must be aware that speaking of things like this would just lead people to think that you're mad. But what about you, Jack? Do you want to make me forget?"
"Am I worth remembering?" he countered.
The air between them was thick with implications and unspoken thoughts. Jack poured the remainder of the mead into Albus' glass.
"My, we've gone through that quickly, haven't we?" he remarked.
"What were you people doing during the war?" Jack asked suddenly, seriously.
"Why do you ask?"
"Aside from the fact that London was right in the thick of it? We're in a magical pub in the middle of London. There were probably bombs dropping all around here at one time or another. I mean, come on, you can't have just ignored it like you seem to ignore everything else the world does without you."
"I can't speak for everyone in the wizarding world, but I can tell you that I was rather preoccupied with my own matters. Our world is hardly without its problems and we do have a fairly small population of trained people to deal with them!" Albus didn't like Jack's tone. Somewhere along they line he had gone from a friendly conversationalist to being suddenly antagonistic.
"Oh, I see," Jack said, with a hint of bitterness in his voice, "So you're so removed from the 'Muggles' that nothing that goes wrong out here even matters to you? You don't bother to fight? You can just sit there and watch while everything goes wrong in front of you, can you?"
The man was upset, Albus could see, and he wasn't making sense. "I told you, we had other things to take care of. Magic is extremely powerful and not everyone uses it for good. During that time there was a wizard who was extremely powerful and…" He faltered. He had almost said 'evil'. But he couldn't say that of Gellert. He just couldn't. "And he liked power. He liked exerting power. Particularly over other people. Including Muggles."
"Oh, sure. One wizard. Did he have armies running before him? Did he have whole nations under his control, terrified to squeak without his permission?"
If he'd known Jack was going to be like this he never would have bought the accursed mead. And damn it, he didn't want to talk about Gellert.
"I don't see why that's any concern of yours," he replied, coldly. "Grindlewald was a terror. He was a genius whom few wizards could have confronted and lived, and he created pain and misery as though it were an art form. I had to concentrate on stopping him!"
"Damn it, Albus, if you're so powerful, if magic is so powerful, then why didn't you and your buddies step in and do anything about all those people who died so senselessly in the bloody war? How can you pretend you're not a part of…"
"Stop it!" Albus commanded him, and this time Jack did stop at the teacherly command. His eyes were steely but his hands trembled on the arm rests, and he wondered what Jack made of that. "You have no idea what I had to do, or what I went through, and you are in no position to accuse me."
"Then tell me," said Jack, quietly fierce. "Tell me what you did then, Albus. Because if you're going to be asking me questions and tearing me apart to satisfy your damn obsession with death…"
"I told you, that's not going to happen."
"Whatever. If you've gone to all the trouble of buying me drinks and getting a room, if it's so damn important to you to find out what makes me the way I am, then I'm going to get some answers first. And damn it, Albus, I have to know how a bunch of people with so much power can be so self-absorbed that they can watch a war go on, a war that killed thousands of people all over the world, and do nothing. And how you can continue to sit by and do nothing as all kinds of other things happen, as the peace talks ruin the Middle East and the nuclear threat rises and Africa starves and…"
"Are you accusing me of things that haven't happened yet?" Albus asked, quietly. "You're right, you're absolutely right, inaction is tantamount to murder sometimes." He swallowed. "But isn't it dangerous to tell me about things that haven't happened? Especially like this? Because, er, I could do something wrong, couldn't I? Ruin history? We've only developed time travel recently but we know that the dangers are dreadful, it's very heavily restricted…"
"Just tell me why," Jack was immovable.
But he couldn't, he couldn't tell anyone that, he always knew that he'd never be able to tell anyone all about that. That was the whole point, wasn't it? That was why he had come here, to take his mind off it all, because it was torture to have Gellert on his mind all the time and never be able to tell anyone. The only thing to do was forget, wasn't it? Maybe Elphias was right. Elphias was right. He should forget, he should forget it all, forget the guilt instead of carrying it around with nobody to share it with, forget the shame and the lies, forget all about all those times that he and Gellert had spent in Godric's Hollow, in the study and in the graveyard and in the river and…
And forget the happiest memories he had, no matter how tainted they were? Those memories of his summer with Gellert had kept him alive in those horrible early years without Ariana, and had kept him alive in the months after Gellert had been arrested. To know that despite everything else he had done he had been happy once, even if it soon grew too twisted and horrible for words, if that happiness had cost him, in a way, the rest of his life… he couldn't forget that. And there was no way he could do away with the proof, in his memories, that while Gellert Grindlewald was sadistic and cruel, he was not a monster. He knew how to love.
Albus looked across at Jack. He wanted so much to trust this man. He knew that he couldn't trust him. A complete stranger, someone completely incomprehensible in a way, who physically made no sense, who seemed temperamental and unpredictable and sometimes dangerous. How could he possibly trust this man with his worst secrets?
Oh, sod it, he could erase his memory later if he had to.
"I am probably regarded, I think, as the most powerful wizard in England," he began, quietly. "It was known all along, I think, that I could defeat Grindlewald. He was a sick man, really. Perverted is perhaps a better word. He seemed so full of light at times, carefree and playful and childish…" he stopped himself. That was getting off track. "But he was twisted. He killed people and he tortured them, and not just wizards but Muggles, too. Sometimes it seemed as though there were a plan behind it all. Most of the time it didn't. He did have plans, he wanted to rule the world with an iron fist, because he thought that everyone else were idiots and they couldn't see how to do things right, and that he did."
"Grindlewald is a wizard who thinks he can make the world right by killing people horribly?" Jack's scepticism was actually tinged with amusement. How could someone that outraged not take this seriously? "Sounds more like a loony to me."
"Maybe he was. I was never really sure." Albus paused for a moment. "To not take action is wrong. To stand by and watch something evil take place, and make no move to stop it, is almost as bad as doing it yourself. It's wrong, so wrong. And I knew for a long time that I could stop Grindlewald. I always knew that. But I didn't. I held out as long as I could, busying myself with my work and with the school. I convinced myself, I think, that by teaching students to defend themselves and researching new techniques, I could somehow stop Grindlewald without actually having to face him."
"But that didn't work."
"No." There was something in the way Jack was staring at him that made Albus feel slightly uneasy, but he couldn't stop now. He was going to take this story to the end. "It didn't work. There came a point where I couldn't ignore it any longer, I had to do something. The body count was rising and I had to face up to the fact that I was responsible for it. I may as well have killed those people myself."
"That's a bit harsh," Jack murmured, but Albus ignored him. He stared at his hands and pressed on. The audience was irrelevant now. He just had to finish the story.
"So eventually I went out to meet him, a few months ago. And we fought, and I won. I knew I would. It didn't feel like much of a victory. But they all fussed over me back here and said how wonderful I was, and that's how I end up wandering around London in the middle of the night, somehow, because the entire wizarding world thinks that I'm a great hero and all I know is everything I've done wrong."
"But why?" Jack asked, again.
"Is that the only thing you can say?" Albus' tone was harsh, and he knew it. "We were… we had been… we were close. A long time ago. I didn't want to face him again. When my sister died it was because we were fighting… I always thought it was my fault… if I hadn't…" He had to stop himself and close his eyes for a moment to get his thoughts in order.
"Albus, you're not making sense."
"I don't know which one of us was responsible for her death," he said. "That was why I was scared. I didn't want to face him because I didn't want to know. Not that he knew either, it was stupid, it was just stupid, but I hoped it wasn't me, but even if it wasn't my spell I was still responsible, and I just don't want to believe that it was Gellert's fault either…"
"Albus." Jack was out of the chair, crouched in front of him, gripping his shoulders now. "You're still not making sense."
Oh, come on, Albus. You've told him everything else. Sort of.
"I loved him," he said, dully, not daring to look at Jack. "I loved him more than anything. He was most fascinating, most astounding person I've ever met. And it sounds so childish, but in his way he was the only person who ever really understood me or listened to me, and took me as I was. My mother and sister are dead. My father died in prison. My brother hates me. My best friend doesn't want to listen to anything that might spoil his perfect image of me. Gellert was the person I loved the most, and he was the last hope I had, and I deliberately flushed him out and beat him down and locked him up again. And so the story is complete, and I have no-one."
"Well," Jack said, dryly, "In that case, I can see why you didn't have time to stop the Second World War."
And then Jack kissed him.
Despite all the hints and warning signs that now seemed abundantly clear, Albus hadn't expected that.
"What exactly are you doing?" Albus asked, warily, when Jack finally pulled away.
"What's wrong? I got the impression it was kind of what you wanted," Jack said, with a cocky grin. He was still leaning over Albus, with his hands on the armrests not quite touching Albus' arms.
"I'm not complaining," he said, calmly, "But don't you think I'm a little old for you? My hair may still be red, but I am actually sixty-five, you know."
"Big deal," Jack's grin widened. "I'm over a hundred years old. Do you think I'm too old for you, Albus?"
"You're what?" Albus gaped. "How can you be so old? You don't look a day older than thirty!"
"I don't know. I think immortality has slowed my ageing just a little. Didn't I mention? When I zapped myself back to Earth, I actually ended up in the late nineteenth century. Around the time you were born, most likely."
Albus just blinked at him, which Jack took to be a good sign, so he kissed him again, and this time slipped an arm around his body for good measure.
"You know, this would probably be a lot easier if we moved to the bed," he told him.
"I don't think this is such a good idea, Jack."
"Why not?" Jack sat down on the edge of the bed – half a stride away – and starting to unlace his boots. "It might do you some good, Professor."
"It wouldn't be right," Albus argued. "I've only just met you. And even if you are older than I am, you look young, and you're free. You don't want to get caught up with me. I'm deceptive and secretive and I'm still in love with a murderer who I had to put in jail. Don't waste your time on someone like me."
"Pleasure is never a waste of time." There was a challenge in his eye. Or perhaps it was just that he had started unbuttoning his shirt.
Albus stood up and stretched an arm out as though to… he didn't really know. To tell him to stop. But he couldn't. Albus didn't think he was the sort of person who would do this sort of thing. Get involved with strangers. Especially not under the pretence of a professional interview. And yet this wasn't an ordinary stranger. This was the man who couldn't die, the man who moved through time, and the man who had coaxed him into telling those secrets which he thought he would never be able to tell anyone. Jack had listened, and he had not judged.
"Look, I know I'm not your Grindlewald," said Jack. "I know we've only just met. But I'm not a total stranger. You're a good man, despite what you think, and I like you. And hey, to you it might seem kind of… hasty… to get into bed with a man you just met."
He stood up placed an arm around Albus' waist, more forcefully this time, and then wriggled the other hand deftly under his robes. Clearly even a garment that had no discernable openings and which he had never seen before was no obstacle to Captain Jack Harkness.
"But damn, Albus, you need to cheer up. I'm not Gellert, and you don't love me. But I can make you happy, even if it's only for a while, and you need some happiness in your life other than the memories of a man who turned out to be a nutcase. I promise I won't turn into a homicidal maniac afterwards, either. So let's at least just have some fun tonight, and then even if you never want to see me again, even if you do decide that you have to erase my memories, at least you'll have one good one."
For a long moment, Albus stared into his eyes. From his pocket he drew the Elder Wand, the accursed memento of his duel with Gellert Grindlewald, the final betrayal of the people he loved, and with a brief flick, he extinguished all the light in the room. Then he dropped the wand unceremoniously on the seat of the armchair. He wasn't going to need it for a while.
"You did not shag Albus Dumbledore," Ianto said, with a look of dismay.
"I did so." Jack was sitting on Ianto's desk and had refused to move despite complaints that he was sitting on some important documents that Ianto needed for some very important work.
"He's not even real."
"Oh, come on, you love those books! I thought it was only fair to share my own personal experiences. But you clearly don't appreciate the value of such an exclusive tale from the world of Harry Potter."
"Because it's rubbish. And I don't like them that much." Ianto tried to surreptitiously shove a few papers over the copy of The Prisoner of Azkaban that was sitting on his desk, and Jack pretended not to notice.
"Yes you do. You read them all the time."
"I read a lot of things. And besides, I'm very busy. You should leave me alone to do my work."
"Tosh isn't ashamed of liking Harry Potter."
"Tosh is a girl."
Jack just snorted at that and slid off the edge of the desk. "Maybe I should go and tell her, then. I'm sure she'd appreciate hearing a Harry Potter story that nobody else has ever heard before."
"I don't even know why you'd want to," Ianto muttered a moment later.
Jack paused halfway through the doorway.
"I mean, even if he were real – which he's not – he's so… old."
"Not as old as me."
"You're just jealous."
"Well you should be, it was a damn good night."
"Oh, sod off. Besides, he wouldn't sleep with you, and he wasn't in love with Grindlewald. You made it all up. He's straight. Or asexual or something."
"Have you read Deathly Hallows, or are you just blind?"
"Go away! I'm busy!"
Jack shrugged and wandered reluctantly back to his own work. If Ianto didn't want to hear the rest of the story, that was his problem.