Goodbye Chapter 2… Albus’s Woes

The Hogwarts grounds were silent as the older man made his way towards the forest. His silvery hair trailed behind him as he strode into the Forbidden Forest, with no apparent regard for his appearance. He wore a wide trailing cloak of a bright blue hue.

Albus Dumbledore stopped quite a distance into the forest, seemingly ignorant of his surroundings. He was lost in thought, disturbed by the nerve of the pupil he was most anxious to meet. Harry Potter had stunned him with a most personal question. Albus never thought someone would have the nerve to ask him what he saw in the Mirror of Erised. A most intriguing young boy, yet almost too bright and perceptive, he thought as he breathed in the scents of the forest.

What do I see when I look into the Mirror? He thought, shaking his head slightly. Even your brilliant self couldn’t answer a child who has also lost family.

Albus shook himself and made his way back out of the forest. He walked along the edge, seeing a light on in Hagrid’s hut. Albus, however, was not looking for Hagrid’s companionship and instead made his way down the road to Hogsmeade Village. The village was quiet except for a few passersby who came from the Three Broomsticks. Albus hestitated, then continued on with his walk, preferring to visit someone who was echoing in his thoughts.

Outside the door to the Hog’s Head, he hesitated again. What if his brother did not want to see him? But Albus straightened himself and entered into the dingy pub. There were only two guests: a cloaked stranger who sat by himself near the fire and a witch who made her way upstairs to her rooms. The barman, Aberforth,  Albus’s brother, stood glaring at Albus behind the bar, his blue eyes glittering with resentment. He was wiping a dirty mug with an even filthier rag.

Albus moved to the bar and sat down, conjuring up his own glass with a flick of his wand. “A firewhiskey if you please, my good man,” Albus said as if he was just another customer. He knew Aberforth would not discuss anything about Arianna or their mother, Kendra. Albus didn’t mind, though. He just wanted to be in the company of someone who knew exactly what he saw in the Mirror of Erised.

Aberforth grabbed a firewhiskey from beneath the bar and glared expectantly at Albus, who quickly handed over a gold galleon. Aberforth then poured the firewhiskey into Albus’s conjured glass. Behind Albus, the wizard by the fire stood, called a farewell out to Aberforth and left. For the most part the two brothers were alone.

Against the wall a clock was ticking. Albus stared at his firewhiskey but did not yet drink. He glanced up at Aberforth, who harrumphed and turned his back to Albus and went back to cleaning his glass.

“Aberforth,” Albus said quietly. His brother gave no indication that he heard Albus. “Aberforth. I was asked something today, something very personal.”

Aberforth remained silent, but he turned to face Albus, his eyes still narrowed.

“A very intriguing young boy asked me what I desired most, or rather, what I saw in the Mirror of Erised. Do you know what I told him?”

Aberforth blinked. “I doubt it was the truth,” he spat. He didn’t even try to hide the anger in his voice. Albus nodded his head gravely.

“No, it was not the truth. But do you know what I do see when I look in the Mirror?” Albus asked. He could feel tears well in his eyes, but he was well adept at holding them back.

Aberforth snorted. “Doesn’t matter, does it? They aren’t coming back, none of them.”

Albus nodded gravely once more. “I suppose you are right. But imagine, Arianna was so full of life. Do you have any idea how beautiful she could have been?”

“Don’t you dare talk about her!” Aberforth yelled. His gaze shot to a painting on the mantle of the fireplace of a young girl, Arianna. “You have no right to even speak of her to me,” he added quietly. “It’s your fault she’s gone. You and him.

Albus did not argue. He couldn’t tell Aberforth that he was feeling the exact same way. He had felt utterly helpless at the time, and even now, just looking back, he still felt powerless. He, Albus Dumbledore, the supposedly greatest wizard alive, and he felt helpless.

He shot down the firewhiskey and moved to leave. He paused as he approached the painting.

“I’m sorry,” he said, whether to Arianna or Aberforth, even Albus couldn’t tell. He felt the tears he had held back creep down his face.

“Sorry doesn’t bring back the dead,” Aberforth said cruelly before he made his way upstairs as a bell called him for assistance.

Dumbledore examined the painting for several moments. “I’m sorry I never got to say ‘goodbye’,” he said to Arianna’s painting. She smiled at him sadly but didn’t speak. Albus gravely shut his eyes and left the pub.

I thought I would gain some comfort, but instead, I only find more pain, he thought as he returned to his school. It was his home, his only place of comfort now. As he entered the grounds, even the breeze that blew across the trees seemed to whisper, Welcome home.

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~ by HelixRook on April 24, 2011.

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