Author's Note: I got the urge to write something about the relationship between Albus and Gellert after realizing the significance of those ten points Dumbledore gave to Neville in his first year. Then I was looking through my Grindeldore fanart collection and, well, I decided to start writing - yes, without the handy aid of DH and the HP-Lexicon. I'm not too happy with how it flows, but I have no clue over how to fix it. It's passable. I hope. Slightly different from canon in that no one witnesses the duel, but it just came out that way.
Reviews are muchly welcome and highly appreciated.
The title comes from Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (Jenseits von Gut und Böse), published in 1886. I'm pretty sure it translates as "what is done out of love" and belongs to the line "What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil." Suitably ambiguous and touching for Albus and Gellert's relationship. (I don't know German, so if anyone notices a mistake please let me know!)
Disclaimer: I do not own Gellert, Albus, Dippet, Charlus, Tom, Ariana, or Aberforth. I do own Harold Potter. (Figured there had to be a reason to name the poor kid Harry.) I own an iPod named Gellert- does that count? And my flash drive's name is Tom...
"It is bitter to lose a man to evil, before one loses him to death." -Mary Renault
"Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat." -Bill Musselman
Those two months of insanity had been brushed to the back of his mind for the following decades. Very rarely did Albus allow himself to think about sweet Ariana's confused face, or the face of the blond boy he'd shared dreams with. Unfortunately he could not avoid his brother as easily now that he'd decided to open a pub in Hogsmeade, but he'd done quite well so far.
Then he'd heard of the whispers from Eastern Europe, rumors of another rising Dark Lord. He'd grimaced only for a moment before changing the subject to something safer, something that wouldn't remind him of his past. In the thirty-odd years it had been since those months, he'd created an identity free of his family's past. Hardly anyone remembered who his father had been, and fewer yet that he'd spent years in Azkaban. Even fewer still knew of his younger sister.
Of his unforgivable sin.
Of the days he'd spent with another brilliant man, who had driven him beyond anything his teachers had ever seen before, who he'd dared to tell of his secret desires and who had suddenly, inexplicably, turned into the very bane of Albus' life just as quickly as he'd been the center of it.
And yet it was all coming back now. He'd known the moment he'd heard the slogan who was behind these murders. He'd known and feared. Not the Dark Lord– he was fairly certain that he'd be a fair match for Grindelwald, even if they hadn't seen each other since their teenage years. No, it was easy to stand up to an enemy.
It was much harder to stand up to someone you had loved.
But when Armando Dippet came racing into the staff lounge with news of another attack, this time one that was still in progress, one in a relatively close village that contained many wizarding families, Albus knew that he could no longer put off the inevitable. It was common knowledge who the most powerful wizards were, and he was the only person capable of halting this madness that he'd helped engender. Without a word, he'd sprinted out of the room, passing several surprised students along the way to the edge of the school's wards. Among them were Charlus and Harold Potter, being scolded by the Slytherin Head Boy for being out-of-bounds, sheepishly clutching an Invisibility Cloak. The Head Boy was fiddling with a dark ring on his finger, but Albus regrettably took no note of them, racing to the edge of the Forbidden Forest.
Before he Apparated, though, Albus hesitated. He knew that he could not kill the man he'd loved. He had no idea if Gellert retained such luxuries as mercy, but it was best to assume the worst.
If he was walking to his death, he could think of no one else he'd prefer to do it.
Comforted by that morbid thought, he turned and Disapparated with a quiet "pop!"
The village was completely in flames when he arrived, and he cast a Bubble-Head charm immediately, turning his head to take in the scene. Most of the villagers were putting up a good fight, but the sheer overwhelming numbers of Grindelwald's followers would surely defeat them in time.
At the head of the army was a head of blond.
Albus steeled himself and began sending powerful Concussive hexes at the fringe of the dark army. He was quickly noticed by the villagers, but it wasn't until he'd transfigured six soldiers into ravenous lions and set them on their own army that he'd caught Grindelwald's attention.
Suddenly he seemed to be in a sort of bubble: on all sides he was surrounded by fighting and fear and death, but all he could see were bright eyes and a familiar stride...
...followed by a raised wand. Out of sheer habit he formed a shield that harmlessly deflected the Disarming Charm that had been mockingly sent his way. It was the light that brought him back to reality, back to the fact that even if he still loved this man, he could no longer be oblivious to the destruction that followed in his path.
"I wondered when you would gather enough of your famed Gryffindor courage," Grindelwald-no, Gellert said lightly, as if they were just chatting over a game of chess like they'd used to. His accent was less noticeable now. "I was beginning to expect that you had forgotten about me."
"I could never forget you."
I could never forgive you.
"Nor I, you."
"Oh, really?" They were circling each other now, checking for obvious weaknesses, but also because neither was quite ready to cast the first curse.
"Your campaign slogan."
"Ah. I should have known-but then again, we were so close it hardly seemed like we were anything more than one person with two bodies."
"I suppose you're here to end it quickly," Gellert stated. "You always did try to do things quickly. You still haven't outgrown that bad habit."
"Nor you, yours."
They stopped circling at the same time before Apparating simultaneously.
It was a place that they both knew well: a meadow only about five miles from Godric's Hollow, far enough to avoid anyone but close enough that they could still make it home in time for supper. How they'd decided to both finish it there was unknown to anyone, except for the fact that this was where it had all started. It was only fitting that it would end there as well.
They both started in a flurry of bright lights and small explosions. Neither dared do anything more direct just yet, instead trying to frighten the other into submission.
"I understand why you hate me," Gellert said, stepping away from a spell that would have cost him his foot.
"You really don't," Albus said quietly, but Gellert heard him.
"I never intended for anything to go the way it did, Albus. I think I can speak for the both of us when I say that."
Albus narrowed his eyes and charged up his spells a bit more before sending a vicious volley.
"Your hatred for me is completely rational. I understood even at my young age that things would never be the same between us again." Gellert's eyes were steady on him, and Albus could not bring himself to meet them.
"But why did you abandon the cause?"
Albus deflected the hex that would have ruptured several minor internal organs. "I have never sought the same things you wished for. I have no desire to become a tyrant."
"Tyranny! They have no worth, Albus! Not even the small amounts of Muggleborns they produce can excuse the entire race. It's merely survival of the fittest."
"If they truly are no better than animals, why even bother hating them?" Albus countered. "I would not hate a cat."
"But you would hate a snake, because a snake can strike faster than a human can."
"Is that not then survival of the fittest?"
Grindelwald gritted his teeth, then smiled. "I have missed your mind, Albus. You always brought out the best in me. It's no wonder you became a Professor."
"And yet my first student is now a Dark Lord," Albus returned, his movements becoming slower until they were both standing only about five yards apart, wands upright and clenched in white fists.
"You were always there to reign me in," Gellert said softly. "If you joined me, we could still make those dreams a reality. You know I have made mistakes. Help me fix them."
At this, Albus had to swallow. Here he had the only man he'd ever loved, offering him everything he'd ever wanted, and to return to the life he'd planned when he was young.
"And yet I was there when Ariana died," he whispered. "If I cannot save my own sister, what good could I do for the world?"
"We can learn from our mistakes, Albus," Gellert was shouting, but something had passed at that point, and from then on Albus Dumbledore was only focused on defeating the man responsible for the death of hundreds, for provoking an international war spanning both Wizard and Muggle nations, and for the broken heart of the greatest wizard in the world.
The duel lasted for what felt like hours before Albus was struck with a nasty Dark curse he hadn't been able to recognize. With a hoarse cry he fell to the ground, his left knee in agonizing pain. Gellert easily Disarmed him, and slowly walked to the fallen man.
"I knew it would come to this," he whispered, and Albus ignored the pain to concentrate on the words. "I confess, Albus, that I had an unfair upper hand in this duel." He lifted his wand, turning it horizontal so that Albus could see it clearly. For a long moment the red-haired man gazed in confusion, but then his face turned to a mixture of mingled horror, longing, and regret.
"The Elder Wand," he choked. Gellert nodded.
"Gregorovitch had it," he whispered, almost tripping over the words as they fought to explain the jubilance he'd experienced. "I found it only months after I left England. No one knew. There was only one person I would have shared it with, but I had lost him. But now you know," he said, eyes shining. "I have found the first of the Hallows, Albus. I am determined to find the other two. Please, Albus," he pleaded, and Albus noticed with shock that the shining in Gellert's eyes were caused by tears. "I do not want to do this alone." He knelt down in the dirt beside his former lover. "I have missed you so much," he breathed, and then Albus was in a delirious haze from a mixture of pain and pleasure. His own eyes closed and wet with unshed tears; he let his hand grip Gellert's shoulder and then–
Gellert slumped to his side as Albus Dumbledore stared at the Elder Wand in his hand. "I truly am sorry, Gellert" he said quietly to the unconscious man. "But I, too, must think of the greater good."