Chapter 1. Butterflies
For a week at age ten Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore's second favorite thing in the world was making his sister laugh.
His first favorite thing was, of course, learning about grand adventures. He loved books about dragons, and the books that his mother gave him about Merlin and King Arthur. Though he'd long since dismissed the stories his father had told him at bedtime, he sometimes found himself outside Ariana's bedroom door at night, listening to his father tell tale of the three brothers again. How wonderful he'd think, slipping into bed at night, to be so brave and journey so far, to meet death and best him, if only for a time.
In a year, he'd be going off to live in a castle, where he'd learn to do a great many things, and then he'd take his lessons and have great adventures of his own. He knew, with all the certainty in him, that he was bound for adventure, born to rise to heights of glory as surely as King Arthur.
In the meantime he'd make do with his second favorite thing in the world. It was far more fragile than his dreams anyway. Kendra Dumbledore had told Albus just that.
"Go play with Ariana and Aberforth. You know that extraordinary laughter of hers is like the winter snows; it'll be gone when its season's passed, as will Aberforth's little tricks. Your dreaming can wait, their growing won't," his mother scolded him, smiling.
"Take heed of your mother's words, Albus, the wisest of men do," Percival said, dusting himself off as he came in from fireplace.
"Yes father. Mother, do you think that I'll find them in the garden?" Albus asked, putting away the book he'd been reading. He'd wanted to go find his sister anyway, as he'd learned some particularly funny sounding words in his studies earlier that day.
"I think, dear one, that you may only find what you take the time to search for," Kendra Dumbledore replied with a wink, "Now off with you, leave your father and I to rest our old bones and marvel at how quietly our children play."
"Yes, Mother," Albus replied and hastened to don his shoes and check the back garden for his siblings. He knew that they were near the instant he opened the door. There were butterflies on every single flower and floating lazily on the wind with the sound of his little sister's giggles.
He found them near the hedges on the side of the house. Aberforth was tickling Ariana because even before her latest trick, since the day it had first appeared Ariana's laughter had been his most favorite thing in the world. Albus watched as they appeared inches from her wide opened mouth as she shrieked and shouted her joy, squirming as she alternated between reaching for the tiny flying things, and pushing at Aberforth's hands.
"Stop it, Abby! Albus, make him stop!" she yelled rolling over onto her stomach and getting caught up in her skirts as she tried to wiggle away. "You're gettin' me dirty!"
"A bit o' dirt's good for ya, when you're small, Father says," Aberforth argued, "right Albus? Even good for stuffy ol' school boys."
Though their father had said no such thing, and though he resented the crack on his study habits, Albus played along; grinning and coming to his knees next the pair.
"Just so, Ari, that's what he said," Albus confirmed as he reached down wiggling his fingers into his sister's sides, making more laughs and butterflies appear and fly through the air.
It'd started two days before, and it had been bubbles then. Ariana was taking her first steps toward becoming a brilliant little witch, her growing magical power creating things she loved from her laughter. She was delighted, because this newest development had gotten Albus to play with them more often than he had in a long while. She loved both of her older brothers, and felt special that she could impress them.
"But I'm gonna be a lady, an' ladies do n-" She tried again, gasping out words around fits of giggles.
"Not with just six years, you're not gonna be a lady," Albus teased, pulling back his hands and letting her breathe.
"Nor with ten, or twenty," Aberforth added. "Who'd play with me if ladies don't get dirty?"
Ariana just shook her head, her straight blond hair glinting gold in the sunlight as she pulled a hand from each of her brothers towards her to continue tickling her. They continued till both brothers' hands grew tired and then they ran about, playing an odd game of tag, where whoever Ariana caught up to had to tickle her.
They were so wrapped up in their game that none of them noticed the wide grey eyes that peered at them from the hedge, watching as she ran around, the occasional butterfly still popping out and settling in her hair or between her eyes when she lingered in one place for a moment. The grey eyes watched spellbound, though not literally so, until Percival Dumbledore came to the door and called his children inside for supper.
The boy who owned them left for supper after they went in. he could hardly believe what he'd seen, and his friends wouldn't believe it either, but they'd see. He'd show them.
In the cottage where the Dumbledore family lived, all was peaceful. Kendra brushed her daughter's hair, whispering quiet answers to her questions while Percival read aloud to them after dinner. Occasionally she reached over and stirred a potion to sell with others at the market. The markets were moving affairs located on temporary streets called Slant Ways. Diagon Ally was up and running but required money and time to keep a permanent shop. Kendra preferred the markets and did well there, bringing home a tidy sum for the potions she sold, more than enough to allow Percival to miss work and look after the children while she went off for the day.
When Percival finished reading, Kendra called Aberforth over to her and turned Ariana so that she faced her.
"To bed with you, my little pixy and gnome. Soon enough, you'll be a young lady and gentleman and off to learn at Hogwarts," she said, hugging them both to her chest.
"It will be years yet, Kendra, nearly half their lives," Percival said putting an arm around his first born son, "No sending my menagerie off before their time. It's bad enough we'll have to part with this clever kneazle in a year."
Aberforth and Ariana laughed at their brother's flushed face then, after a stern look from their father, they settled down and went to bed. Albus walked behind them, passing the door to his sister's small room and going to the room that he shared with his brother.
"I can't sleep, Albus," Aberforth whined after a time. "Tell me the story?"
Albus sighed, tired and wanting to get back to his book before his mother came and took the candle he was using for light.
"Aberforth…" he started, the 'no' audible in his tone.
"You can read your stupid book in your stupid castle next year. Please? Tell it."
"That's hardly the way to make me want to do it," Albus snipped, " but fine. There were once three brothers who were traveling along a lonely, winding road at midnight."
"No, not 'The Three brothers'," Aberforth snipped back, "'Grumble the Grubby Goat'."
"The three brothers is better," Albus argued, resuming the argument that had happened at bedtime nearly every night since they both spoke well enough to start it, this time though he had something he could use, " and I don't know all of 'Grumble the Grubby Goat'. If you want to hear about Grumble anyway, you can go ask Mother for the book. I'm certain it'd be no trouble to read it to you."
"The three brothers then," Aberforth replied defeated. He didn't relish the thought of going to bed with a sore bottom for getting up so soon after being told to go to sleep.
"I thought so," Albus replied smugly, " anyway, there were once three brothers…"
Kendra Dumbledore woke early the next morning and gathered together her potions and the cart she sold them from, all of the shrunk to pocket size, and with a prayer and a last thought of her children, she tossed some floo powder into the fire and stepped in, saying, "Leaky Cauldron".
Soon after she left, Percival rose, and after waking up Albus and setting him to work translating Historia Regum Britanniae, the first book to give a narrative account of the life of King Arthur, into English. When they'd woken and had breakfast, Aberforth and Ariana had been set to similarly educational tasks until after lunch when Albus did some pleasure reading while Aberforth and Ariana went outside to play.
Albus was reading a history text from his father's time at Hogwarts, occasionally he glanced out through the window in the trained way of older siblings, to be sure that his brother and sister were staying out of mischief. He saw his brother slip out the garden, but thought nothing of it. The neighbors kept a goat and Aberforth had always been fond of visiting him.
He'd been reading about some goblin war or another when he heard the shouting.
"Do it again, you bloody freak!"
A sentiment echoed loudly by similar sound voices.
Albus rushed to the door but his father beat him to it and pushed him back, slamming it in a clear order to stay inside. He ran to the window and gasped at the sight. Some of the bushes were on fire. His golden little sister was laying limp and bleeding on the ground as three boys kicked and stomped and beat at her.
"Ariana!" he shouted helplessly as his father roared, "GET AWAY FROM HER!"
They all stopped, backing away as Percival scooped Ariana into his arms, but a grey eyed boy all puffed up with self importance and the type of dark confidence that comes from fresh violence shouted back, " She's a freak. Set the hedge on fire without touching it, she did! "
"I'll show you a freak," he hissed in response.
Then Ariana whimpered in his arms and after a moment's thought, he whispered, "Imperio."
The boys turned and left without further comment.
Albus followed them with his eyes and found himself looking into blue eyes very much similar to his own, set in the horrified face of his brother, as he climbed through the gab they'd left in the hedge. He stood shaking like a leaf, a bruise forming on his cheek from where they'd hit him when he'd tried to stop them coming through.
Percival ran into the house. Carefully setting Ariana down on her bed, pulling out his wand and casting spells over her as her brothers watched from the door. Soon after, he stormed past them retrieving a potion from a high shelf in the kitchen and pressing it to Albus's left hand.
"Look after your sister, and give her this if she wakes up before I get back with your mother."
Then he apparated out with loud cracking noise.
For a moment Albus just stood. How had this happened? As if in a dream, he wandered outside again. "Stop" he whispered, not really speaking to anyone but feeling as though the word should be said. Anger and pain and worry were ravaging his heart, his control.
The flames in the bushes dissipated as though they'd been smothered. He looked around the grass. It looked strange at first, but then he realized. It wasn't the grass, not just that. He stared down at a hundred butterflies. They were so still; so loose. Butterflies are never loose. They always seem so tense, moving or just about to be. In the haze of his emotions, he went back to what he knew.
Albus bent down and picked a stone. It was an ordinary garden stone mind, the nearest river was further off than he could have managed then and Death, though his leavings were strewn about the yard, was absent. He turned it in his hand three times.
The butterflies rose like puppets on strings, but also not like them. They seemed sad and cold and wrong. The wrongness jarred him out of his own mind, or back into it. Again they fell and Albus dropped the stone. It was not the right one; could not bring back the butterflies.
A cry from in the house made him rush in and to his sister's side. Aberforth had gotten into the bed with her and was holding her, but Ariana seemed inconsolable.
"I don't know what to do, Albus! She just woke up and started crying and-"
"Father said to give her this," Albus told him, moving forward and uncorking the vial. With Aberforth's help he tipped the potion into her open mouth and she went back to sleep. Kendra and Percival came back soon after and Kendra with a better knowledge of potions, and a mother's love set out to finish healing her youngest child.
There was no joking that night, no bedtime stories. Albus and Aberforth went to bed without argument. Kendra and Percival went to bed as well, but Kendra couldn't make herself sleep while Ariana was still recovering from her injuries. She took her cutting board into Ariana's room and set about chopping some ingredients for potions and waiting for the light of day.
It was not long after midnight when Kendra Dumbledore looked up from a root that that she'd been peeling and met the eyes of her daughter for the first time since she'd sent her off to bed the night before.
"Mum," Ariana said weakly as Kendra came and picked her up.
"How's my pixie?" Kendra asked, yanking up Ariana's sleeves to check the bruising on her arms.
"No more butterflies," she whimpered. "No pixies. No lady."
"What Ari? What's wrong? Accio Candle," Kendra whispered. As the candle floated over to them, Ariana began to kick and scream.
"Stop! Stop freak!"
Kendra held the candle closer and in the light she saw something that made her gasp. Her daughter's blue eyes were half glazed over. Setting the candle aside she reached for her wand, intending to do a basic diagnostic spell to figure out what was wrong.
"No," Ariana said and Kendra's wand flew out of the room. Ariana, seeing what she'd done started screaming again.
"No pixie. No butterflies freak. No, no," the little girl murmured over and over and finally Kendra understood. Now sobbing herself, she ran out of Ariana's room, past Albus and Aberforth and into the arms of her husband.
"Percival did you hear? She can't bear it," she said, the pain in her voice evident. "She can't stand magic. What can we do? Percival, she is… We are…"
"I'll fix it," Percival said with answering pain and barely contained rage, "I'll fix them."
He pulled free of her arms and walked to the door.
"Keep the windows closed and stay inside," he said pulling his wand from the pocket of the robe he'd thrown on before leaving his room.
Albus and Aberforth ran to the window and Kendra came up behind them. Albus recognized the three boys the instant he saw them, staring blankly at his father in the moonlight. He didn't understand. Why had they come back?
He didn't think about it for long because soon the screaming started. Their cries and howls pierced the night like cold air through a cloak. The muggle boys fell to the ground writhing in pain and failing to crawl away.
"Come away from the window both of you, go to your room," Kendra said pulling them away, "cover your ears. I'm going to help your sister back to sleep then I'll join you. Don't come out until I say."
The brothers did as they were told, Albus grabbing the fairy tale book on the way. They huddled together; first just the two brothers on Albus's bed, then their mother, with Ariana in her spelled sleep on Aberforth's.
The two brothers and Kendra listened through doors and walls and hands over ears as the screams became the pops of aurors apparating in and as the pops became shouted spells and then footsteps and knocks on the bedroom door.
The boys, exhausted, fell asleep as knocks became questions, of aurors, of reporters.
Inside of a month they were spreading the news of Ariana's illness and Kendra was sitting down with her children to tell them something.
"Albus, Aberforth, Ariana, we're leaving Mould-on-the-Wold. We're going to a lovely place out in the countryside. It's called Godric's Hallow. There's plenty of history there and there'll even be room to keep a couple of goats," She told them. "It'll be a new start."
"No more butterflies?" Ariana asked before her brothers could comment, "No Hogwarts?"
Kendra bit her lip and searched for the words that could make the power she loved and the enemy that her daughter fought into two separate entities. Ariana looked so small and so scared, terrified still by the thought of doing magic.
"Perhaps my pix-" Kendra faltered, stopping herself from using the old pet name. "Perhaps."
Later, Albus looked up Godric's Hallow in a history book. His mom was right, there was plenty that had happened there besides the founder's birth, and that was no small thing.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, son of the muggle-torturing madman from Mould-on-Wold did not belong there, but his mother's word was law, so he supposed that it fell to him to become someone else. In a year he'd be going away to school, a school where everyone would know about what his father had done, but still a school; a place to learn and stepping stone to more. Maybe if he learned enough, he'd know how to make her laugh again. Maybe he could show her just the thing to make magic be thrilling and beautiful for her again. In some dark corner of his mind he hoped, most of all then, to learn to do the thing that would stop powerless, scared, worms from killing butterflies.
Hey, this is my first Harry Potter fic. I've got about 4 chapters and an epilogue planned. I love Harry Potter like whoa, and I'd have written something sooner if I felt I could do it well enough. I'm trying to make this totally canon compliant. I really hope you like it and I look forward to hearing what you think.