Albus wished for only one thing, one thing every night upon some distant and unreliable star. He wished he could regret it. He didn't wish for it to be erased from history or his memory, he didn't wish for it to have ended better, he wished only that now he could regret his actions which led to it. But it didn't matter how hard he tried, he couldn't.
No matter how hard he wished, Albus could not regret Gellert Grindelwald.
Furthermore he missed him. He often found himself hearing snippets of words which sounded like his name, a person using the same intonation he would have, saying something he would have agreed with, and once again Albus would be in his arms under a midsummer's sky in Godric's hollow.
He remembered how it started, how Albus had returned home from school with a sigh that afternoon, throwing his trunk regretfully into his room and wishing he didn't have to leave, that he could stay in Hogwarts and be the celebrated student, the genius, surrounded by other geniuses rather than having to put up with the mediocrities of his family. They were only three now, from five they had been broken. His good-for-nothing father had wasted in Azkaban, his mother was dead.
The remaining two were unexceptional, Aberforth- with whom Albus' relationship was precarious- and Ariana, who loved Aberforth more. Albus did not belong here, with the two of them. They deserved each other, Aberforth cared for Ariana and neither of them cared for their elder, whilst Albus was supposed to be doing his tour now with Elphias, exploring the world, sharing his talent! Instead, he was here in Godric's Hollow, taking care of a family which had never had need of him and still didn't.
He couldn't stay in his room any longer, not with all the reminders of the life he was supposed to be living right now. Casting a charm upon his things so that they may unpack themselves, he ducked out in search of escape.
He paused outside his mother's room for a moment, allowing a wave of remorse to crash over him. However begrudging he had felt about his return, it didn't mean he didn't miss her any less. She was not a perfect woman, in fact Albus had probably spent too much time magnifying her imperfections, but she had been his mother, the woman who raised him and kissed him better when he hurt himself and tucked him in when he thought he saw a werewolf under his bed. The compassion he prised in himself was not of his own making, but rather a trait inherited from her. What would she think now, of his reluctance to share it with his siblings? They had lost her too, all of them were hurting.
He moved on from the bedroom. He couldn't dwell upon the thought of his mother, it only threatened to depress him, an ongoing threat already from his being torn away from the promise of strange new lands and their replacement of Godric's Hollow.
He passed through the kitchen, swiping a hand along the countertop. His mother would have been here usually, cooking. She liked to hum sometimes, when she cooked. It was one of the few things they were certain Ariana liked, when she hummed. She also liked when Albus played piano, but he hadn't done that in a long time.
He still couldn't stand to look at her. She had stopped eating since their mother died, she would only take small portions when it was necessary, and only when Aberforth gave them to her. She grew gaunt and pale, dark rings forming beneath her eyes. She was even more withdrawn, would stare into the distance for longer periods of time, wouldn't react to things they said and did like she used to. She wouldn't cry either, not like she did when their father was sentenced, not like when he died. Sometimes tears would slip down her face but they would go un-wiped, she only got angry when they tried.
But he couldn't look at her for another reason. She had killed their mother. Kendra's death had been the outcome of one of Ariana's episodes, which was why it was so unnerving when she showed no remorse, only a deep mourning.
Just when he was running out of rooms to explore without running into Ariana in the living room, the doorbell rang. Relieved, Albus had gone to answer it.
"Bathilda!" he exclaimed as he threw open the door, a wide smile on his face as he was graced with the presence of a small part of Hogwarts, his true home.
"Albus, it is good to see you looking well. Are you alright?" she extended her hand and clutched Albus' arm, a gesture which made it suddenly very hard not to cry. When affronted with the sorrow of others it suddenly becomes much harder to forget your own, a reason why Albus had found it much harder to restrain tears at the funeral than he had in the days leading up to it.
"I'm fine," he insisted, taking her hand gently from his shoulder. "Would you like to come in?"
"Oh no, only I heard you were back and I wanted to say hello, to make sure you were handling everything alright?"
"Aberforth is handling everything," Albus confessed breathlessly, "he knows how to deal with Ariana far better then I do, and he's been sorting out all of mother's affairs. I must admit I'm finding myself to be increasingly useless." He shrugged.
"You are far from useless, Albus. They need you now, your brother and sister, even if you don't think so." Albus knew she was wrong, that they never really needed him, but he didn't say anything, he only invited her in.
"Oh no, I can't," she replied, "I only stopped by to see if you were in. My nephew is staying with me for the summer, I'm on my way to meet him now."
"Your nephew?" Albus inquired, "The one who goes to Durmstrang?"
"Went to Durmstrang," she corrected, rolling her eyes. "He was expelled last year." Albus cocked an eyebrow. Bathilda having a miscreant as a relative? The thought was almost comical.
"I would like to meet him," he said with a smile and Bathilda chuckled and shook her head.
"I'm afraid he might be a bad influence on you, Albus, I would hate to see what he can do with power such as yours," Albus smiled. How was he to know then the truth in Bathilda's words? How was he to know the boy would leave him with a lasting scar someplace most people couldn't see? A gash on his heart defacing the quarters of his sister and his love? So he insisted that he meet him, tonight even, and Bathilda consented with the promise of a home cooked meal.
Albus hadn't been apprehensive when he had arrived. He had enjoyed plenty of meals with Bathilda, both in and out of Hogwarts. Despite their age gap the two were good friends and intellectual equals. As such they had always had something to talk about, the source of much jealousy within his History of Magic classes when the two would get on so well.
But when a young and undeniably handsome boy opened the door to her house, Albus' palms began to sweat.
"You must be Albus," he said with a smile Albus could only describe as sly. Wiping his hands against his cloak for a moment he took the boy's hand and entered the house, replying as he unwrapped his scarf from around his neck- there was no need for him to dress up warmly and walk when he could just apparate to such places, but doing so was a custom Albus couldn't shake. Even in July the nights were cold in Godric's hollow.
"Yes, that's me. You're Bathilda's nephew I take it?" He helped Albus out of his coat and hung it up on the hatstand Bathilda never used.
"Gellert," he replied as Albus turned to face him, looking somewhat more presentable then he had before. "Gellert Grindelwald. Aunt Bathilda is waiting in the dining room," he said nothing more as he led Albus into the room he had visited hundreds of times before, with a table set for three this time rather than two.
"Albus, you're here!" she exclaimed, flicking her wand and ordering the food onto the table as she rose from her seat to greet him, kissing him lightly on the cheek and offering him the seat beside her, Gellert took the one opposite and she sat back down at the head.
"So tell me your plans for the summer, Albus," she insisted as he helped himself to some of her chicken and roast potatoes, "are you doing anything exciting?"
A flash of resentment crossed past Albus' face, one that would usually have gone unnoticed but which he had a feeling Gellert had caught.
"I was going to do the world tour with Elphias," he explained miserably, "but after my mother... I'm needed here, so I'll be staying here for the summer."
"Well then you will be with me," Gellert said smoothly, "I'm here all summer also." Suddenly all the summer brightened with the prospect. A summer with a boy so handsome and mysterious as Gellert meant more excuses to avoid Aberforth and Ariana.
"Wonderful," Albus smiled. "then we must get to know each other better. Tell me about yourself, Gellert." Albus held an insatiable curiosity. There is something about the beautiful that he found so incredibly alluring, it was the beautiful he could not resist, wether it was the beauty of a theory when it clicked in his head, the beauty of a personality, of grotesque kindness or compassion, but rarely was it the physical beauty. In its purest form the allure of physical beauty had always been a mystery to Albus, one of those most infuriating for it affected him directly and he could not understand it. All he knew was that this boy was beautiful.
Gellert sensed his admiration, sucked it out of the air and seemed to swell with it, he began to describe himself, his views in a way that seemed enviably open and yet was guarded. Truths were given but only in mismatched halves, it was the sort of measured conversation when one leaves knowing very little more than one knew when they arrived.
But eased by the boy's apparent openness, Albus spilled forth all that he was. Upon the table he laid his life's goals and aims, each positive and negative attribute he had, where he got them from. Gellert picked them up like trinkets and played with them, toyed with them, dissected one before putting it back down to examine another. Albus felt almost proud in the interest Gellert took in him, he glowed with the praise and the criticism, both equal displays of enough regard to even study.
Bathilda watched unsure about her feelings. She knew full well her nephew was dangerous, but their relationship fascinated her. The two were strong characters of the dark and light. There was always the threat of her nephew's darkness which was why she considered terminating the friendship, but there was also the prospect of Albus' light. Maybe, if they grew close enough, Albus could save Gellert from the world of darkness which awaited him.
But Bathilda hadn't counted on love. She hadn't seen it in Albus' eyes as the glistened in the candlelight, enthralled by his every word. Love made Albus weak, made him more prone to the dark. Albus didn't need the light if he could have Gellert instead.