Harry Potter/Hunger Games

The Things Albus Dumbledore Cannot Say

Albus Dumbledore is old and has many secrets he can't tell the boy and the girl who sit in front of him, about to enter the arena a second time. He cannot tell them that the girl's District, Gryffindor, used to be called Virginia and be known for more than cave-ins and starvation. He cannot tell them that there used to be other occasions to bring out the fiddles besides funerals. He certainly cannot say that bravery didn't used to be synonymous with suicide, that Gryffindor used to be the most favored part of America.

He cannot tell Harry that his mother and father's names were Lily and James. That his parents weren't Malfoys at all but Potters—freedom fighters in the Dark Days. He cannot tell him that although Harry was raised in Slytherin, Harry has chosen Gryffindor, because life is about choices, and the moment he kissed the girl from Gryffindor he made his.

He cannot tell them that he hasn't felt anything in sixty years, since he came out of the first arena, but he feels something now, watching the dark-haired boy hold the red head's hand like he won't let anything happen to her. The girl, Ginny, laying her head on the boy's shoulder, more to comfort him than herself. Her eyes gleam sharp as fire-agate.

He cannot tell him what he feels knowing that he's sending the only children he ever cared about to war.

To die.

He cannot tell him that he and Voldemort Snow were sure that they were going to rule the world together. They were brothers, not of blood, but of brain. Knights and princes in the imaginary worlds they created.

Then Albus's little sister was reaped in the very first Hunger Games, and Albus faced nose-to-nose the choice between right and easy.

He still remembers his little sister's shiny new shoes made of fish skin because they couldn't afford leather, and the little tears that fell on them as she sniffled her way up to the platform. Everything about Prim was tiny, and that was enough to convince Albus he couldn't let her go.

He remembers being proud and terrified and feeling that things were different, now that he really was going to protect Prim in the arena. He was going to be a hero. He was even a little excited that he was going to die for something. There was no greater adventure than death, and he knew he would die a hero's death, protecting his little sister.

Unfortunately, he didn't.

Dumbledore feels his age acutely.

Many terrible things happened to Albus Dumbledore in the arena, things he cannot—will not- tell the children. All that matters in the end he failed and his sister is dead, and Voldemort never understood why Dumbledore regretted winning, never understood why Dumbledore refused to talk to him ever again.

But no-he cannot tell his mentees any of this.

Instead, he pats them on the shoulder with his darkened hand (because even Immortality Drugs have side-effects) and says, "Dark and difficult times lie ahead, but just remember who the real enemy is."

When the victors of the Hunger Games stand on Reeta Skeeter's interview stage, facing Hogwarts, and together they raise their hands, in unison, he knows they listened.

Afterwards the lights are off and even Rita has given up spinning this one for the capitol, the blonde girl from the blue-water district, Ravenclaw, comes up to him and presses a small, silver box shaped like a bird into his hand.

"Neville gave it to me," she lies matter a factly. She cannot tell him the real place she found it, because some wounds are even too fresh for her to be honest about.

"Thank you very much, Luna. I thought this was long lost," he says kindly. Because the capitol has taken many things from him, but they will never take his compassion. Apparently they can't take his sister either. For here is her token, her one item she took to remind her of home.

Luna gives him an odd look, one almost of disappointment. "I thought you knew that things are never truly lost." Disappointment morphs into confusion. "You told me that."

He gives a weak smile. "So I did. Thank you for reminding me."

She smiles so wide and bright, that Dumbledore can almost forget that she has lost just as much as he.

He turns his attention to the box, hunger to hear the melody again coursing through him.

Then mockingjay music-box begins to sing.

It's not until the hammers stop dancing over the miniature strings that Albus realizes he's crying.

Luna's tiny hand brushes over his hunched shoulder in comfort, and his lips bow upward into a smile.

It's a smile that holds every color of his life.

A rainbow from tears.