Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

The Coldest Summer
By Silver Sailor Ganymede

I.

For the second time in his life things were not working out in the way that Albus Dumbledore had planned. The first time, when his father had been carted off to Azkaban for having used the cruciatus curse on those hideous muggles (whom he thought had deserved all the punishment they got) had infuriated and saddened him, but not proved to be a hindrance to his plans as a whole. This time, however…

Albus shook his head in disgust as he continued to walk back to his home in Godric's Hollow. He had apparated to a point a couple of miles away from the village itself, wanting to give himself time to think about all that had transpired that morning; he didn't want to go into that blasted house to face his inept brother and incapable sister just yet, as he knew that something – or even someone was very likely to get cursed if he did. No, he thought as he kicked at a rock in his path, he needed time to think about this, needed time to absorb the fact that everything he had wanted, everything he had been working towards since childhood had suddenly been stopped dead in its tracks and wouldn't begin again for an indefinite amount of time.

He had been trying to escape the tiny, dead little village that was Godric's Hollow ever since they'd been forced to move there. He could make no connections there, with the possible exception of Bathilda Bagshot, whom he already knew rather well, and it was no use to Albus to be stuck in a place where he could not influence anything that was going on in the wider wizarding world. Through no fault of his own (no lack of intelligence, talent or hard work) his future had been completely and utterly ruined.

Just hours ago he had been sitting in the Leaky Cauldron with Elphias Doge and they had been planning the very final details of their long-anticipated grand tour of all the important wizarding places in the world (or at the very least a large portion of them) when Albus had received owl-post saying that his mother was dead and that he had to go back to Godric's Hollow immediately as he was now the sole guardian of his younger siblings. In Albus' mind there was nothing worse that could have happened – now he was stuck in the absolute middle of nowhere with a brother who was almost an idiot and a sister who was effectively a squib. No, life could not get any worse for Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

It was a beautiful summer's day, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and there wasn't a single cloud in the sky, and yet Albus didn't encounter a soul as he made his way into Godric's Hollow proper. The fact that there was no one around even in such fine weather confirmed his belief that Godric's Hollow was not the best place for an ambitious, talented young man such as himself to end up.

It was then that he noted, with no small amount of surprise that there was someone sitting in the front garden of Bathilda Bagshot's house – someone whom he had never seen before in his life. The person in question was a young man, probably around his own age, Albus thought, and he was undeniably the most beautiful thing that Albus had ever laid eyes on. Gold ringlets had escaped from the loose ponytail he had tied at the nape of his neck, and he had the most astonishing violet eyes – violet eyes that were glaring straight up at Albus.

The boy nodded in acknowledgement to Albus then turned back to the book he had been reading previously. Albus noted that it was in some foreign tongue – Mermish, perhaps? But no, if it were Mermish then he would have been able to read it.

Albus turned away and carried on back to his house – yes, it was his now, wasn't it? Everything his parents had owned belonged to him now: then again that wasn't saying much. His house quickly loomed into sight and Albus repressed a shudder. He had been hoping that he would never have to come back here again, yet here he was, only seventeen-years-old and already tied down to a family he didn't want and a place he despised through no choice nor fault of his own.

He took and deep breath and slammed the door open, chucking his cloak unceremoniously onto a hook in the hallway as he did so. He strode into the living room, still deeply irritated by the fact that he was being made to stay here of all places, then he noticed a figure curled up on the sofa and his annoyance deepened.

Of course Aberforth would be here, he thought to himself; he does live here after all. That did not mean that Albus was at all pleased to see his brother though; in fact far from it. In Albus' mind Aberforth was as stupid as he was brilliant, and looked set to receive a set of straight Ts for his O. W. Ls later in the summer.

"Albus," Aberforth sighed in relief. "Thank goodness you're back. I… I can't handle her on my own. She's completely out of control, completely!" It was then that Albus noticed that his younger brother was deathly pale and looked absolutely terrified. He heard a loud crash from one of the nearby rooms and realised what was going on; their sister was having another one of those fits where her magic couldn't be controlled.

He shuddered in disgust. At least those filthy muggles had paid for what they had done to her – though he was of the opinion that his father should have put more strength into the curse, that he should have driven them completely insane just like they did to his poor sister.

"Is it because of mother?" Albus asked, sitting himself down on a chair opposite the one where his brother was huddled up.

Aberforth shook his head and ran his hands through his hair. "She's the reason mother's dead, Albus," he choked out at last, unable to keep the tears from falling from his eyes. "She killed her. Our sister killed our own mother, damn it!"

The crashes from the other room suddenly appeared even louder as Aberforth began to sob and Albus felt his blood grow cold. He had always realised that his sister's magic was completely out of control, but he'd never considered that she could actually kill someone, let alone their mother.

Suddenly the crashes stopped and all Albus could hear was Aberforth sobbing on the sofa beside him. Ariana's magic had finally warn itself out. Albus sighed in relief; he wasn't going to have to drug her today, as she had probably warn herself out so much that she wouldn't even wake up again for another week.

"How long as she been like this for?" Albus asked his brother.

"Three days," Aberforth spat, trying to dry his face on the sleeve of his robes but failing because more tears tell as soon as he did so.

Three whole days. That was the worst outburst that Albus had ever heard of; his sister was becoming more and more unstable as time went on. He couldn't deal with this, he honestly couldn't. He had planned to be in southern France by this time today, and instead he found himself at home with his idiot brother and his insane sister – and now he found out that his sister was actually the cause of their mother's death. How did anyone expect him to deal with that?

"I'll be in my room," Albus said shortly and headed upstairs, away from his siblings. He needed time alone to let all this sink in; it was too much to comprehend at once, even for him.

It was the summer of 1899 and Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore really was certain that there was no way in which life could get any worse than it already was.