A/N: I've had this kicking around my computer half-finished for almost a year-inspired by meldahlie's latest, I decided to polish it up and post it. As those of us in the northern hemisphere start our summer break, here's a story about what has got to be the worst ever summer friendship/romance.

In terms of intellect, you and I were equals, as perfect a match as any. The clash between our souls, however, was inevitable. As much as I tried to deny it then, as much as I wish it were not so now, the two of us had chosen very different paths. Before our roads diverted, cut apart by your misguided cruelty, my blind folly, and perhaps by destiny, we shared much. I count the measure of that fateful summer as a string of golden days, and many rainy ones as well, spent huddled indoors with only the boundless possibilities of each other's thoughts, before I knew the truth of you…

The clearing is one I know as peaceful, the only usual sounds a gust of wind through the trees, and my own even breathing. On any other day, I would sit with my picnic lunch beneath a tall, leafy elm, alone in the still and quiet. Maybe a book would be balanced on my lap, if that was how I chose to occupy myself in this forest nook, secluded from the crushing noise of the house that has never been home, only somewhere to escape. No movements would disturb my study, unless a wandering hedgehog happened to come along, trundling its plump spiky body over the clearing's mossy floor.

My back, today, is still propped against the elm's sturdy trunk, and the wicker picnic basket nudges my leg, its lid yawning open to reveal crumpled wrappers once containing cheese sandwiches. But I am not alone, and the sounds of silence, the movements of tranquility, are scattered by your voice, your widely gesticulating hands. I don't regret having brought you to my sanctuary. The sound of your voice does not soothe me, but rather excites. The musical cadence of your accent, the enthusiastic lilt your voice takes on when you speak of ancient treasures long since lost, when you speak of the future world you hope to create.

I have never spoken with anyone like I do with you. Elphias, for all his eager loyalty, all his kindness, does not appreciate the untapped stores of knowledge and power the world holds. With you, my mind is unfettered. Years of being the brightest in the room have trained me to keep my thoughts to myself, to bury them in books or letters exchanged with far-off geniuses. You are the first person anywhere near my age with whom I can fully express my ideas. The first friend I can have on an equal footing.

Our first conversations were blurs of chattering, the two of us staring into each other's faces, in your aunt's parlor, fortified with tea and biscuits. I'd watch your blue-gray eyes grow wider and wider as we spoke, our thoughts flowing smoothly, words overlapping. Both speaking, both listening, giddy in the discovery of each other, of shared fascinations, shared passions, shared knowledge of things most people have long forgotten.

In the clearing, under the elms' shade, I let you take control of the conversation, because for now I do not need to talk. It is enough to be here, listening to the passion of your words split the forest's quiet.

"…I think we should go after the wand before. I have heard so many rumors of its whereabouts, while the other Hallows seem to be lost. And of course, the wand is the most important. I am right. Yes?"

Though you speak English exceptionally for someone born in Budapest and schooled in northern Norway, there are still some odd quirks to your language structure. The most prominent of these, I have noticed, is the way you offer your theories up for my consideration. Instead of asking if I agree like an Englishman would, you state the correctness of your idea and then ask me to confirm.

I look up at your face, lit both with excitement and the soft, warm sunlight that permeates this little clearing. One lock of your curly golden hair falls across your forehead, hitting its apex right between your eyes. As if sensing the path of my eyes, you sweep it away impatiently.

"You're right," I say finally. Every word comes out heavy and measured, hanging in the uncomfortably small gap between us.

"Exactly." You tilt your head back, against the tree trunk, and address the pale blue sky.

"Once we have the wand, then we can make our first strike. You and I are powerful indeed without it, but to truly gain control we need a powerful…"

You pause, tilting your head to look at me, and appraise my face, your gaze uncharacteristically cool. I feel as if your eyes pierce straight to my soul, carefully sorting through all my private thoughts in a regimented manner that directly contradicts your restless speech.

"We need a powerful weapon, Albus. I am right."

This time, you do not ask for my approval. But slowly, reluctantly, I give it anyway.

"Yes. You're right."