Alone TogetherPosted by prof_trevelyan on 2007.11.05 at 00:49
Date: November 7th, 1994
Aurelius opened the front door, framing a familiar tall figure against the cold November sunset. “Good evening, Albus” he said with a curt nod. “Do come inside.”
Dumbledore stepped inside the high-ceilinged hall, as the door whispered shut behind him. “Thank you for the invitation, Aurelius.” Dumbledore studied him carefully “I am sorry to hear of your loss.”
Aurelius simply nodded again. “I thought we could take tea in the library, please, follow me.” He began to walk down the hall, with a painful, awkward limp, leaning heavily on an ornate cane.
The house was palpably empty, silence seemed to suffuse the place, muffling the noise that the two men made, and the air had a sterile feel to it. As Aurelius turned back to Dumbledore to usher him into the library, a grimace of pain was fading from his face. The two men stepped inside the library, which contained well-ordered shelves stacked with books, scrolls and the odd engraved tablet. A fire roared in the grate, but did little to relieve the lifeless feel of the house.
“Take a seat” Aurelius gestured to a table set with tea things, and a selection of cakes, “Do help yourself. There is a rather fine bakery down in the village.” He limped over to the fire, where a copper kettle floated somewhat incongruously above the flames, out of place in the ornate fireplace. Taking the kettle he returned and filled the porcelain teapot. “No house-elf”, he explained, sitting awkwardly, “I spend so little time here, and they’d only interfere with the self-cleaning spells I have to preserve my collection.” He gestured around him.
Taking an appreciative bite from an éclair, Dumbledore glanced over his glasses at Aurelius. “Again, I was sorry to hear about Erika. And your leg, is there nothing…?”
“It will be fine.” Aurelius spoke with finality. “I will get used to it. Some marks cannot be so easily removed – others merely shouldn’t.”
“Kingsley spoke to me. He said he had conducted the interview with you after the incident.” His tone was soft, but with iron beneath it. “He was not convinced that you had told him everything, but then he is a very suspicious man.”
“I thought he was one of yours. Very astute.” Aurelius fell back into silence, pouring tea for both of them. He stirred his, sipping delicately before continuing. “I know that we have not always seen eye-to-eye, Albus, but I thought that I could count on you to understand my position.”
“I think that when people share the similarities we do, the differences can sometimes prove problematic.” Dumbledore’s tone was diplomatic as he added a sugar-lump to his tea. “But I suspect this is not the matter you wished to discuss. Continue.”
“I witnessed your duel against Grindelwald, Albus.” He held up a hand to forestall the questions he suspected would not come anyway. “I know, you almost certainly didn’t see me but… there I was. I saw you, Albus, when they took him away. Your eyes – despite your power, you’ve never quite taught them to lie, have you? And I knew.” Aurelius watched him over the rim of his cup.
Both men’s faces seemed to become more tellingly impassive as they regarded each other. Not from macho posturing, or a desire to save face. The silence spoke of obsessions, secrets, and a lifetime of being in control. Aurelius’ voice broke it again like a rumble of thunder on a still evening.
“It is so difficult, to confront it. To see what you always should have seen there, is it not? I loved her so much. She could be so tender, so gentle, but…” A shudder passed over Aurelius as his memory darkened. “We shared so much. And then… I know how Daedalus must have felt, seeing his son fall from the sky.”
“It is, Aurelius. It was then, and still is today.” Dumbledore placed his cup on the table. “We cannot escape the consequences of our actions. It takes great conviction to follow one’s own path through life. The more dangerous the path, the greater the risk.”
“Ah, hubris. I cannot forget what we shared. She took no joy in it. No pleasure. I do not know if that makes it better or worse. As for myself… As great as my loss has been, it still does not shake my resolve, my beliefs.” His lips curled into what could have been described as a smile if there were any warmth or happiness to it. “Conviction.” He snorted, and looked down at his hands. “‘Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds…’ A mistranslation, of course, but still such relevance for those of us who be as Vishnu.”
“I suppose that there was no Death-Eater?” The tone was innocent, but could not disguise the implication.
“There was not. Whatever else… no. You must understand, Albus, I never intended for it to end like this, even at the end. It was not my intent even then.”
Dumbledore nodded. “I understand. I think that you should start from the beginning…”
((OOC: Also, in the interests of breathing a bit of life back into this, stuck up a role-call post here, in case anyone reading this isn't watching the OOC journal, please post if you're still around ;-) ))