Title: From A Certain Point of View
Summary: "That's not fair," Harry said quietly. Because there's more than one way o look at what happened with Grindelwald and the Dumbledores, and maybe it wasn't all Albus' fault.
Setting: That scene in Deathly Hallows.
FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW
Harry listened to Aberforth pour out his story about Ariana, and Albus and Grindelwald, and the bitter, broken-hearted venom he used when talking about his brother. And when Aberforth paused, he spoke.
"That's not fair," Harry said quietly.
Aberforth glared at Harry angrily, but Harry didn't let him speak.
"He was sixteen years old, just a kid. He'd lost his mother and all his dreams in one go, and he had to provide for a family and look after a girl that even adults had trouble taking care of. He was grieving, and more alone than he'd ever been before in his life, and he fell in love for the first time, and finally, he had someone of has own. Can't you imagine what it was like for him, at all? He shouldn't have been in charge of the two of you in the first place, of course he did something stupid. He wasn't capable of looking after a family. He spent the rest of his life trying to make up for those mistakes, and I think he had to, for himself, but that doesn't mean he should have."
Aberforth was practically boiling over with rage, but all the same, there was a flicker of something disconcerted in his eyes.
"He was – we were his family –" he spat, so angry he couldn't get the words out.
Harry looked at him, and thought about the odd, eccentric, burdened and clever man he'd known.
"Only you didn't like him very much even before then, did you?" Harry mused, as he realised the truth.
His words seemed to cut through Aberforth's rage, and the man gaped for a moment.
"You never understood him, did you? And didn't try very hard, I bet. It was Ariana you were close to, not him. So when it was just the three of you, you and Ariana did your thing and left him out of it, as always, never stopping to think that maybe he needed something to cling to."
"I –" There was a look of growing resentful, baffled bewilderment on Aberforth's face, but Harry cut straight through his attempt to talk, continuing ruthlessly on, working things out as he went.
"Albus knew he wasn't wanted, and like I said, he was more alone than ever, and then he fell in love with Grindelwald, who actually valued him and understood him. Just as Albus had always longed for, but had never been able to get from you lot. He was responsible, though, so he tried to work out a way to juggle the job of looking after his siblings and doing what he wanted, and it all came falling down because he'd trusted the wrong person. Because you say that you were his family, but you never acted like you wanted him to be, did you? You never even thought about how he felt. Your only concern was for you and Ariana, and in the end he had to go to someone else, and that was what made everything go wrong in the end."
Harry finished and gazed at Aberforth. Ron and Hermione were staring between the two of them, Hermione looking as though she couldn't understand where this new insightful person had come from, Ron just astonished by all of it.
"He never wanted us, not clever enough for him," he started to say, but his own lack of conviction seemed to strike him halfway through, and he stopped.
Harry shook his head.
"I know that even you know that's not true," he said softly. He gazed at the man. "And I think it's about time you admitted it to yourself, don't you?"
There was silence in the room as Aberforth cried, tears sliding down his face as he shook noiselessly.
"We have a job to do, for everyone's sake," Harry said. "He might not have told me all the truth, but some things you can't deal with until you need to. I should know. And other things are private, no matter how much they should be said. Albus did care for me, but he knew that sometimes you need to do what is right instead of easy, or you lose everything. He knew that better than most. Will you help us do what we came here for?"
Aberforth didn't answer for a long time, staring at Harry as though he were seeing him for the first time, and he was someone else than he had thought.
He nodded his head, and walked to the portrait of Ariana.
"You know what to do," he said. his voice was swollen and wobbly with tears and regret.
Ariana smiled, and walked away, not out of her frame as portraits usually did, but down what seemed to be a long tunnel, until she disappeared into the darkness.
"There's only one way in, now," Aberforth said, his expression twisted. "You must know they've got all old secret passageways covered at both ends, Dementors all around the boundary walls, regular patrols inside the school from what my sources tell me. The place has never been so heavily guarded. How you expect to do anything once you get inside, with Snape in charge and the Carrows as his Deputies ... well, that's your lookout, isn't it? But… well. Good luck."
"Thank you." Harry nodded solemnly at him.
As a white dot moved down the tunnel, he turned and said one last thing.
"He never forgot, you know, he never moved on. That night… The night he died, he was forced to drink a potion that makes you relive horrible terrible things, and he thought he was back there with Grindelwald, watching him hurt you and Ariana. Whatever you might have made yourself believe… I think he would gladly have sacrificed anything, even his own life, to have undone it."
And then Neville was bursting out of the door that the portrait had become, and was greeting them, and Harry turned away to grin at his friend.
"Good to see you, Neville."