a/n: Oh my God. I haven't posted in such. a. fucking. long. time. But then, the other day, I was reading the fic I wrote from Gellert's point of view (contradiction), and... I honestly didn't like it. And was overcome with the desire to write another. Hence the birth of this story, and the realization that I've really, seriously missed writing HP fic- along with all of my friends in this fandom. But I hope you do enjoy this!


Stars, hide your fires!

Let not light see my black and deep desires.

Macbeth, 1.4

*

Ariana Dumbledore, Gellert Grindelwald knows, stands five foot tall on the dot in her bare feet, which is the way her feet always are. Her hair is halfway between wavy and curly, and the tips of her fingers are always warm. She cannot cast a spell to save her life; her words are jagged pieces of what, once upon a time, would have been full sentences, as lengthy and intricate as those he himself spouts with ease and frequency. She screams when her bathwater is too warm. When she gets angry enough, sparks of magic will fly from her palms, electrifying the air, and her gaze goes blank. It is enough to make her pass out in the midst of her rage.

Gellert Grindelwald never loses consciousness. Screaming would indicate fear, and he has none. His fingers, hands, and entire body in general are always cold. He has no time to measure himself, because his days are filled with reading and writing and translating, all of the things that Ariana simply cannot do.

But this is what she does do: she spins in lazy circles to the music Albus puts on the radio to distract her. She will fling open the curtains to lay, catlike, in the square of warm sunlight the window provides. She grins like a little girl when Gellert speaks in German, then tries to repeat it and descends into babbling.

She is, in his opinion, the very best kind of person— the kind that is deliciously easy to manipulate.

And yet.

He finds that the tips of her fingers leave spots of heat on his hand when she grasps it in greeting. He can estimate his own height by the fact that the crown of her head is level with his collarbone, and learns to expect the hug she gives him before he leaves and before Albus pries her away. He also learns she takes her bathwater so cold that when she enters the sitting room afterwards, wrapped in a towel and asking in stilted words for Albus to find her nightgown, goose pimples dot her shoulders and bare arms.

Albus tells him she was attacked in the summertime.

*

She wanders aimlessly into the sitting room at midnight, wide awake. Albus snores on the sofa, fallen into slumber just moments ago.

"Nighttime," she says, bypassing Gellert where he sits on the loveseat to peer between the curtains. "Like it."

The curtains are thin, slivers of moonlight not-quite-catching on the floor, and the room is steeped in almost-black but for the flickering candle on the table between he and Albus. "Why?" he asks her, leaning back to study her silhouette. Her hair reaches the gentle indents of her waist; silver light illuminates a portion of her lips, and he finds that he cannot stop staring.

Ariana lets her shoulders rise and fall. "Dark. Nice. Light… hurts. Hurts my eyes."

It is as close to a full sentence as she's ever gotten. Albus, stretched on the couch, shifts and mumbles; Gellert presses a finger to his mouth.

"Quieter," he whispers. He thinks that a blush may tinge her cheeks, but she turns away from the window, descending fully into shadows, before he can tell for certain. One way or another, however, she drifts back over to him, smoothly as a ghost and suddenly as a memory.

"Like me," she says, obliging him with her lowered tone. He begins to ask for her meaning, but is thrown into silence when one curious, slender hand slips through his hair. "Round. Circle. It…"

"Curly?" he suggests, wondering how all of these specific words got scattered from her mind, leaving only the most basic behind, the debris of a world-altering explosion.

Maybe any other woman would have taken heed of the way he tilted his head back, carefully sliding her hand even closer to his face, forehead, cheek, lips. But Gellert realizes, in one slow-burning thought, when Ariana only pulls away: This is not in her vocabulary. No, not this nighttime touching and fingers on faces and quiet voices so her brother won't wake up. Never this. She is familiar only with kisses on the cheek from Aberforth, on the crown of her head from Albus; all she knows of intimacy is someone wringing her hair dry after a bath, remembering to butter her toast, to call her Ari.

"Goodnight, sleep tight," she murmurs, repetition of Aberforth's daily words as he tucks her in. She steps away from the loveseat, nightgown fluttering around her ankles, candle casting an eerie glow around the outline of her face. "Goodnight, Al," she adds, louder, casting her eyes over to her sleeping brother.

She is halfway down the hall when Albus wakes with a start.

*

The next morning, bright sunlight pouring through her window seems to have erased all memory of their conversation the night before (if one can really call it a conversation). Ariana has tied up her own hair with clumsy fingers, and the lopsided ponytail brushes against the skin of her pale arm.

Albus puts the radio on for her, a distraction, because they need to work on translating ancient ruins— clues to the Hollows, but Gellert finds that all he wants to do is watch her revolve in her own slow dance. Delicate buttons on her nightgown climb to her throat, modest and proper, the billowing cotton keeping her from getting too hot.

(he hates those buttons, wants to rip them out, rip them with his hands and his teeth and let them scatter on the floor and let her dance with her gown hanging open in the light)

Albus scowls at the words he's made, asks Gellert if he thinks it correct. By the time he's finished checking, the ended song has left the air cold and silent and Ariana has gone.

*

He has taken to sleeping over night after night, though he isn't sure why. It makes Albus happy, of course, and they get more work done on the Hollows. Easier all around, though Aberforth grumbles and goes to his goats.

Ariana is poring over a book when he knocks on her open bedroom door. It's always open— easier for her brother to reach her, if she should have a night terror. Albus and Aberforth have once again fallen asleep, and it's a strange thing that both of them are the ones who love the night. He because it cloaks him more easily; she, he does not know.

But he would like to find out.

"What have you got?" he asks, leaning against the head of her bed. She sits against it, above the blankets, legs curled up to her the book in her lap and neck cocked so that the slightest movement would bring her hair in contact with his thigh.

"Love and soul," she answers. He laughs, thinks yes you have. A quick scanning of the pages reveals it to be a child's version of Psyche and Eros.

"That's right," he tells her. "Love and soul."

She shifts, flipping the page and staring up at him. "Happy ending, Abe said."

It is so much easier, Gellert sees, for her to use other's words instead of her own. "It does have a happy ending."

A smile breaks over her face, and he thinks of a new star forming from the wreckage of an old one. "I want, too."

Magical lamps dot her room, bring out the red glints of her hair. From their positions, she almost seems to glow. "You want a happy ending?" And before he can plan a way for it to happen, Ariana sighs, leans against his leg, cheek on the rough texture of his trousers.

What other woman, he wonders, would do that?

"Yes, please," she says, because Aberforth has taught her to add 'please' whenever she wants anything and he supposes that she thinks perhaps it will work for such non-corporeal items. This is at once so heart-lifting and so heart-breaking that, helplessly, swung there by a force that could change lifetimes, his fingers run along her jaw line, the sweet curve of her cheek. She raises her head, eyes half-lidded not in an attempt at seduction; only true tiredness.

Gellert has no way of knowing that this is a moment he will hold on to, so many decades and one downfall later, locked in a dark dank cell that smells of rotting flesh and deadened emotion. For now all he knows is that when he lets his thumb brush her lip, it feels made of silk; that he is so very close to leaning down and seeing if sleeping beauties are always awakened by a kiss.

(she will not awaken never awaken she will be wrapped forever in her trappings of madness and there is no way he can save this beautiful insane soul with this beautiful insane magic coiled within her)

He is desperate to know what lies beyond her skin, to see what that electric magic she has tastes like when he runs his hands over her until she turns inside out. But she is pulling back and she is tugging blankets over her and she is smiling and saying goodnight, goodnight, sleep tight and she is too damned innocent to ever be burdened with the touch of his tossed out, thrown away, worthless mouth.

And so he walks out of her bedroom, the feel of her lips still embedded on his skin.

*

The next evening, she has a night terror. Before Aberforth can calm her every book in her bedroom is set aflame by the sheer will of magic she possesses in the midst of her horrified, shrieking fear.

Psyche and Eros burns to blackened ashes.

If he could bottle her power, he would do it in a heartbeat.

(This is what Gellert tells himself.)

*

Gellert Grindelwald has been observing, as of late.

Ariana Dumbledore has long-fingered hands. Her eyes are blue enough to drown in, and she rubs at her collarbone when she is nervous.

Someone, this constitutes an explanation as to why, hours after she is in bed, he presses Albus to the desk in the sitting room using only his hips— because this boy's long fingers have just been gripping his quill and this boy's blue eyes have just been staring at an equations and this boy is just now rubbing at his collarbone. And so what if one of them should be a woman and Albus' hair is the wrong color and his skin has too many freckles and he is much too tall—

This is all Gellert can afford to have.

(and he is taking every inch he can get)