SPERLING is a German word for sparrow. there are others but that one is the cutest sounding. I am assuming Grindelwald is German. When you read it, those statements will make more sense. I solemnly swear. Man love ahead. Don't like get over it and leave.
Albus was brilliant. He had many a friend and correspondence always well liked by his peers. However few people mention the great Albus Dumbledore being tripped on the stairs in his beginning years at Hogwarts. Bullied by brutish Slytherins, Albus held his tongue. How could they understand? He was brilliant and they envied him as much as they feared him. They saw a weakness in his never fighting back. The taunts were innocent enough until they started to notice he never so much as look at a girl twice. Which wasn't entirely true, if she could keep up she was welcome company. But he never sought them out, never stole them off to dark corners of the grounds. As they got older those names grew worse and worse. No one else took them seriously but they really hurt poor Albus.
It was when he became Prefect they stopped completely. He punished them with the worst detentions he could muster. No one made fun of Albus to his face again. He did his best to be more popular, gathered friends and enemies alike. But he had the power to put them in their place. He had liked that.
He and Doge fancied to see the world together after leaving school. He and his best friend were to go to Greece to see and learn. Always to learn. Doge may have been slower than he but he was always attentive in their friendship. Doge had insisted to pay for the bulk of the trip out of his own pocket. Albus had inquired why and all he got was a radiant blush and a dismissive wave for his trouble.
But brilliant Albus could not have factored into his plans the death of his mother. It was a shock and it hurt and he fled home straight away… Doge went on as planned.
Doge left him to take care for his sister and brother alone.
Of course, he wrote every day, about the beauty of the Greek isles and the old temples and places of magic. In them he lamented Albus' absence. But all they did was prove Albus to be more alone. He had been abandoned; by his mother and closest friend, respectively. He was bitter, he was angry; his genius was going to such waste! Looking after his sister seemed like such a depressing undertaking with only the help of his bizarre little brother.
Then Bathilda sent him an owl, insisting he come to tea- she had a surprise, you see. Sweet Bathilda had always been kind and tried to help with Ariana as much as she could. He had vaguely wondered what surprise she could have. So, when three o'clock rolled around he had Aberforth watch Ariana and over to the old witch's home he went. She opened the door with a smile and a hug, ushering him into the sitting room, where he stopped dead. Bathilda went on as if the beautiful young man laying tea was a common occurrence in her house hold. "Albus deary, this is my nephew, Gellert Grindelwald. Gell, this is Albus Dumbledore. The young man I told you about." It was then that Gellert looked up from his task. At first he looked as surprised as Albus. But then, oh then he smiled and Albus couldn't stop a grin of his own. It was contagious.
"It is pleasant meeting you." His accent was thick and deep. German perhaps. He took his hand and shook it, gingerly, bowing his head so low his lips nearly touched Albus' hand. He blushed scarlet. "Bitte verzeihen Sie mir, my English is Scheiße."
He looked to Bathilda, flustered and she chuckled, translating patiently, "He said, Please forgive him, his English is... Not very good."
If he kept smiling so, he would forgive him anything.
Gell picked up English quickly. In less than a week he was conversing as if he'd spoken it must of his life, though the accent remained, heavy and exotic. In the few days that Albus had known him he'd become so enamored with him. He would have thought himself ill had he not been so elated; the grand ideas, the Hallows, Masters of Death itself. And oh, his was charming. His smiled like sunshine dancing off the lake, brilliant, and funny, and sweet. Oh, how sweet he was to him.
Albus wouldn't have known a romantic gesture had it smacked him over the head with a Bludger bat. That being said Gell was extremely open with little light touches; the small of his back, his fore arm, his shoulder, their thighs against each other as Albus read his notes aloud, the arm along the back of the sofa. These little things made Albus' head swim in a most unusual by highly pleasant way. It was the beginning of the second week when, as Albus fled her house to retrieve a forgotten bit of writing, Bathilda joked that Albus seemed to have fallen for Gell. Albus had closed the door and turned onto the street when he stopped dead.
Was that it? Was that the overwhelming warmth inside him that Gell induced?
Was he in love?
Once the thought was in his head he could not remove it. He tried rationalizing it, dismissing it as preposterous. But as their second week came to a close, Albus found himself gazing a little too long at Gell; his face, his eyes, his hands, his chest, even his feet seemed perfectly gaze-uponable. He was even making up such silly words. Albus had never been in love. He'd never even really thought about it. But Albus knew he couldn't resist Gell. In the end it was his mind that had won him, though the boy's beauty did not go unnoticed by Albus. He had become addicted to his voice, accustom to the gnawing anticipation in his gut when Gell was too close.
Truth be told Albus felt he was far too ordinary and bookish for Gell to notice. He had longish red hair and would often need to wear reading glasses. But in what seemed like no time, Gell's behavior changed slowly from friendly to almost tender. When Albus talked the first week, Gell paid attention and took notes, often asking for elaboration. Now he just kind of drifted off into his own world, and when Albus asked if he was listening, Gell would nod absently, as if distracted.
It happened week three. It was raining and Gell had been walking Albus home. They stood in the door way, panting and laughing as the rain hit the ground like a natural symphony. "Dance with me." He whispered and Albus laughed until Gell took his hand and pulled him back out into the downpour. He spun Albus around the front yard fast and lively. They came to a sudden halt and Albus bumped into Gell's chest.
"Sorry!" But he looked up at Gell's face. Something searching in his friends eyes made him uneasy.
"Sperling, you are too sweet looking." He said with a laugh. Albus cheeks turned a bright red, glaring.
"Good night, Gellert." Albus turned on his heels and marched to the door utterly embarrassed. He was just in the door as Gell grabbed his arm.
"No! No, no, I mean no offense." Albus turned. Gell ran his fingers through his wet curly hair nervously. "I am- how you say?- Doing it wrong?"
"I was trying to be-" he sighed and went to go, "Never mind. I will see you tomorrow-"
Gell stopped and turned back toward him. Albus stood on his toes and kissed him lightly before he could think twice. He didn't expect to be kissed back. But when he was, they stumbled into the sofa; where the plans had begun. It was almost fitting that this started their as well. The door swung shut on its own.
Stolen moments in his rooms and in Gell's, a month of bliss passed unnoticed. Albus fell in with Gell's ideas of an empire so easily. Truly believing that under their rule they would bring peace. It was truly for the greater good. Oh, how naïve he was. How hopelessly lost in those eyes he was, once so brilliant and moral, fallen so low when in love. Gell was so charming. "You are a firework, Sperling. Someday the world will watch you burn across the night. You will leave them in awe of your power and your beauty." Albus would blush and he'd chuckle. "They see it. They fear what you could be. What WE could be. And together they will not be able to stop us. Keine Angst. No fear. We are together."
Blind to the cruelty Gell was so prone to, perhaps because he was so tender towards him. It was like the most beautiful and vivid dream.
A dream that came to a grinding halt the night Ariana died. Aberforth was Stupefied in the corner when it happened. Albus merely stared at her in horror. Kneeling by her body, he collected her in his arms, appalled. Tears began in his eyes and Gell stumbled forward onto his knees, landing next to him with a thud. "Sperling." He whispered sadly, reaching for him. Albus shrugged it off. "Oh, sweet Sperling-"
Gell recalled his hand, simply gazing at him. He didn't seem able to find words. "But-"
"I said leave."
"You would give up all our plans? Because of this… Accident?"
"You're not even sorry she's dead." He hugged his little sister, tighter than he'd ever hugged her in life. It was then he realized how little Gellert thought of human life. His own saying, 'for the greater good', this was supposed to be the price you paid for peace and order. It was as if the veil had been lifted and he saw everything in a new clear light. It left him feeling bleak and empty. It wasn't worth this. Ariana was not worth it. Ariana was innocent. She shouldn't have had to die. She was INNOCENT. Suddenly, he saw how many innocent would be slaughtered to reach their goal and it turned him to ice. Thousands of Ariana's. "GO! I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN! YOU- YOU MURDERER!"
Gell stood; jaw clenched and tears in his eyes. "How are you so sure it was ME?" With that he was gone.
They didn't meet again until decades later. After Grindelwald had killed hundreds of people, Dumbledore could no longer ignore him and his evil deeds. It was actually a brilliant sunny summer day. Summers never were the same for Dumbledore after that. Now on this beautiful day, he stood facing his long ago friend and love. His heart heavy in his chest with memories. "Gellert."
Grindelwald smiled, "It has been so long, Sperling."
"Is something wrong?"
"Don't call me that. I'm not a sparrow anymore."
Grindelwald chuckled darkly, "No. You are the mighty Phoenix now, I suppose. I hate to tell you this but you will always be Sperling to me. I have made our dream real! Deny it all you want, you wanted it just as badly as I did. Look how I have proven you wrong." Dumbledore ignored the ache that the caused him. The warm breeze blew his hair in all directions. Grindelwald stared at him, "The truth is you only came to shut the people up. You only came to stop the noise so they'll leave you to continue mourning in peace. Ha! Mighty hero indeed."
Now he was angry. Fury from deep scars ran through his veins. "I couldn't go with you. Ariana's death showed me that. I hope it was everything you wanted. I hope it made you happy while it lasted."
Grindelwald seemed to deflate at that. "You came here for a duel. Let's stop with the talk." He pulled out his wand and so did Dumbledore. He needed to bring Grindelwald down. "You fear that it might have been you who killed your sister. I see it in your eyes. You were never able to hide things from me."
"I hope taunting me clears your conscience."
"It isn't too late to join me, Albus." He said that softer. "It's not too late to come with me. Together our power would be unbeatable! Unlimited. Together we can defy all that stand against us. Just you and me. The way we dreamed it." He raised his wand, "I have the first and most powerful Hallow!" Dumbledore stared at it thoughtfully.
"I knew you'd ask. And in truth, that is the offer I feared the most. I feared being given the chance. That you'd talk me out of this duel and into being your pet once more. You are right; together we could defy even the laws of magic." He shook his head, "I really hope you find peace where you're going." The battle raged on for an hour, Dumbledore cast the first charm, which Grindelwald repelled. It was chaos of flashing lights and colors. It didn't seem like any of Grindelwald's curses were sticking. In the end, all it took was an Expelliamus. The wand flew from Grindelwald's hand to Dumbledore's.
Grindelwald fell to his knees with a laugh, "You win. My life is yours."
Dumbledore shook his head, binding him with a spell. "You will be imprisoned in Nurmengard- your own prison. There you will die."
He laughed, staring into Albus' eyes. "You know? I am the master of manipulation, if you still have no clue. After all these years... She died protecting you from me. I hadn't meant to kill her, or even you, though you were my target. You're right, I wasn't sorry. There would have been no way to live with myself if I'd killed you..."
Dumbledore knew he wasn't lying. Yet somehow, after learning the truth, it didn't comfort him that it wasn't him.
"You were magnificent." He stared at the ground as Dumbledore felt tears slide down his cheeks. He wiped them away in time for the Ministry to come collect Grindelwald. He was not to be trusted in love; so he pledged a life without romance, a life with the love of another to come home to at night. He held the Elder Wand in his hand. He could be trusted with neither power nor love. They both made him foolish and only caused misery.
In the night before leaving to find the Horcrux, Albus stared over the grounds from the Astronomy tower. Summer was coming. How time flew, it was too late far too soon. There was so much left for him in this life. He wanted to see Harry grow old, have children, live long and healthy years. If he had ever had a grandson he would hope to have one like Harry Potter. Everything he wasn't.
Then thoughts of Grindelwald came to mind. How old he was compared to back then. His heart ached to see him but he dared not go. It was not the first time it had happened. Regret. So much he'd never know. Never do. A tear came to his eye but he smiled, as summer days spent on that couch came to mind. The conversation muted, so it wouldn't spoil the way Gellert glowed in his eyes. For a moment he wouldn't be ashamed. He did it for love and though it didn't justify it and it didn't change it, it lightened the load that had been placed on his shoulders. He had had nothing and everything to lose. Reflecting back on it... He couldn't determine if it had been worth it. Gellert had bewitched him; body and soul, even to the end. It proved nothing but he was human. Painfully so. More tears came as he resolved to not see Gellert. He wanted to remember him the way he was in his memory. Seventeen, wild, young, and free. He couldn't bring himself to imagine his one time friend now. He still loved him. After everything, deep in his heart he knew he did. That's why it pained him to think of him locked away, alone in a cell, wasting away to nothing. A part of him still loved him and always would. Until the day he died. He had heard the roomers of the screams of despair coming from Nurmengard, all the tales of Gellert's screams, as if his being were being twisted. Guards would approach and hear him muttering in German. About sparrow's and bodies and Hallows. Had his soul been attempting to repair itself? How was he still alive after going through something like that? With how damaged his soul must have been? He should have died. Those rumors had died down years ago but he thought on them now and his own soul ached.
The things he would say. The questions he would ask. So much left to die with him.
Over the years he'd been imprisoned in Nurmengard, the only thing Gellert had was his thoughts. The first were marked by fury, burning his heart to ash. He felt betrayed. It did not last. It was hard to keep angry when you were alone with it. It sat in the dark corners brooding and festering away. By year four, remorse had already begun to replace the anger he'd felt toward Albus and the truth slowly dawned on him. It had started out as manipulation. Albus was a brilliant researcher. He was clever and would be useful in his reign as absolute ruler… Then he began to know Albus. Sweet ever trusting, Albus. His kleine Sperling was a glimmer of light in his dark heart. It had nearly ruined his plans. If he had lost Albus that night would he have still… The people he'd killed, had they been someone's sparrow? Had their loved ones suffered so at the loss of them? Who had he been to take their lives? Letting that one sympathy into his heart opened the door for so many others as he began to waste away. It drove him to the brink of madness. As if his twisted soul was trying to straighten itself out and was straining under the pressure. He could still see his Sperling's face in his mind; trusting, loving and unguarded. He had not been worthy of such love. Love that had looked past his malice and seen the good in him, a love that had brought it out and into the light. How he must have damaged that heart, so unwilling to love another. Yet a part of him, the selfish part, was glad Albus never found another.
He thought what life might have been like had he just stayed in Godric's Hollow; Living life as academic hermits, making love in the garden at late hours, going for long walks by the lake, and growing old together. Perhaps together they could have defeated the Dark Lord when he arose. Together, they could have done wonders. It would have been a life to be proud of.
He longed to see him.
So much regret.
If he had never met Albus, he would not be feeling this way. If he had never known him... He would have been miserable indeed. He was ashamed, he'd cared about power more than Albus and that was unforgivable. He deserved no forgiveness. The day Dumbledore died he cried for the first time in many many years. All the time felt so… Wasted. And Sperling had thought the world was good. If it were, it would not let him die.
When Voldemort came, he felt sorry for him. So misguided, the fool. But Gellert did not suffer fools. He had nowhere near the brilliance of Albus. He scuffed the "Dark Lord" and it was fun to taunt him a bit though. Funny looking bastard that he was. Finally, he could die. How fortunate he had finally found release from his torment. So much the Dark Lord couldn't understand. He didn't know love and that saddened the old man. He hoped to see his Sperling again in the next life, if only for a moment. Just to see if he had waited for him at the cross roads of life and death.