Story Notes: Thanks to Rachel_Marie for being such a great beta!
Albus knew who it was even before he heard the knock on the door. He also knew why he was here. It had been inevitable really, ever since it had happened. He had known that this time would come. He was by the door the instant he heard the knock. The last thing he wanted was for his brother to answer it, especially after all that had happened.
His expectation was confirmed when he opened the door to see Gellert standing there. For a moment the two stood in silence. So much had passed between them that Albus couldn’t possibly imagine him not being here anymore, not sending him notes in the middle of the night, not planning for their new, perfect world. But everything had changed and they both knew that it was over; they could never have the future they wanted.
Because Albus’ sister was dead and even though no one would ever know who had sent that final curse, it was impossible for things to stay as they were. This is why Gellert had come here today. He had had come to say goodbye and much as it hurt, Albus knew there would be no way to stop him.
The silence between the two stretched out, widening the cavernous gap that had already been created between them. The comfortable friendship had disappeared, the easy atmosphere between the two had evaporated and all that was left was awkwardness. Arianna’s shadow hung over them, refusing to let them forget or move on.
Wordlessly Albus stepped to one side, allowing him to enter. He led Gellert through to the sitting room. It all seemed so formal. Usually they would have wasted no time in running up to his bedroom to continue working on whatever scheme they were developing. Today, however there was no scheming, no talk of their utopia, no discussion of all that they would do `for the greater good`.
Once they were both sitting Gellert cleared his throat. “I’m leaving, Albus.”
“I know,” Albus responded quietly.
“I have to go. There’s nothing worth staying for, I’ve found out everything this place can teach me.”
Albus felt like he had been punched in the stomach. How could Gellert say there was nothing to stay for? Had their friendship meant nothing to him – the whole time he was here was his sole purpose simply to find out about the Hallows. Was Albus simply an extra in Gellert’s grand adventure?
When Albus said nothing Gellert spoke again. “I’m not leaving because of what happened – it wasn’t my fault.” Albus looked at him and saw the slightest hint of desperation in his eyes, something which had never been there before. It was almost as if his friend was seeking a final bit of acceptance from him. Albus wanted to laugh. If only Gellert knew that he could do anything and Albus would still forgive him, still be there for him.
Albus really didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t quite believe this would be their last meeting. There was so much he wanted to say, so much he was still so unsure of. He needed to tell Gellert how he felt. For so long he had hidden from his feelings, unable to face up to what they meant, but now that he had finally accepted and understood, it was too late. Suddenly words seemed so inadequate; nothing he could say would sum up the enormity of what he felt.
He didn’t want this, he had never wanted it. He had lain awake, night after night, trying to convince himself that he was wrong, that he didn’t really feel this way. But it was no use; he knew deep inside that his feelings were real. He just didn’t know how to express them, or if he even should. After all, it wasn’t exactly normal, even for a wizard.
Albus knew he had to do it now. For so long he had been waiting, hoping, longing for the chance, but it had never come and even if it had he wasn’t sure he would have been brave enough to take it. Now, though, it didn’t matter. They would never see each other again and if he was rejected then it wouldn’t matter. At least he would know that he had tried.
Albus felt his heart thumping in his chest and could hear his breathing growing louder. His feelings were screaming to escape him and it was all he could not to shout out. His friend was looking at him, still waiting for him to speak. But Albus did not speak. He couldn’t. Instead, he leaned in and closed his eyes, and in an instant he felt his lips meet with Gellert’s.
For the flicker of a second he felt his action reciprocated and in that second he felt like nothing could go wrong. He was happy, it didn’t matter what had happened, it didn’t matter that Gellert was leaving. He would follow him anywhere if it meant they could be together and keep this feeling alive.
But then, as quickly as it had come, the feeling vanished and he was pushed roughly away. Albus looked back into the other boy’s eyes, but this time all he saw was hatred, pure and utter hatred, piercing his own bright blue ones. With that one look, Albus knew he had made a terrible mistake in showing how he felt. He thought this was what they both wanted but it was suddenly clear that his feelings had only been one-sided.
He tried to find something to say, some way of explaining away what just happened. But there was nothing to say because for the first time Albus had shown himself, how he truly was and he didn’t know how to fix that. He had kept it hidden for so long and he knew he would never find the courage to show it again.
Everything was finally over. He had finally exposed the thoughts which had been torturing him for so long and it hadn’t worked.
He was vaguely aware of Gellert standing up and walking to the door. He paused before he reached it and turned back.
“Goodbye, Albus.” There was no trace of warmth in his voice, no hint that they had once been friends. It was a cold, indifferent goodbye, the kind associated with a casual acquaintance, someone you barely knew. Albus felt the goodbye summed up everything about their relationship. They had never really known or properly understood each other and now, thanks to one foolish mistake, they never would.
Albus heard the slam of the front door and he knew that the searing pain he felt ripping his insides in two wasn’t the pain associated with losing a friend. It was the pain of a heart that had been completely and thoroughly broken; leaving only splinters to beat painfully inside his chest.
He didn’t know how long he sat there alone, in silence. But when at last he was able to think again he made a promise himself. He promised he would never allow his heart to be treated in such a way again. If this was love, then he wanted no part of it.
Chapter Endnotes: Like all authors I love reviews so if you enjoyed this (or even if you didn't) I would love to hear from you.