Ariana was shaking, as she stood behind a door, listening to her brothers argue. Again.
"Albus! Don't think for a moment that I'll let you go though with your foolish plans! You promised Ariana-"
She flinched as she heard her name and took a step back. Her brothers, Albus and Aberforth, had been arguing a lot recently, but never about her. Not in front of her anyway. Don't panic, don't panic, she tried desperately to remember what Ab told her to do when she was scared, but she couldn't think properly. Sometimes just imagining her favourite brother talking to her would be enough to make her better, but hearing him shout her name like that, with so much anger, had broken down whatever calm she had and left her mind open to terrible memories. Her father's arrest. Her mother's death. Muggles.
"-ake her with you, wherever it is you're planning to go, making your clever little speeches trying to whip yourselves up a following!"
There was a loud roar of anger and Ariana fell to her knees.
"You STUPID boy! Stupid little fool! Don't you understand! We are doing this for her, so that she do-"
Ariana was shaking so much she was surprised that they couldn't hear her hiding behind the door. She hated Albus' new friend from the moment they met. She didn't get many chances to meet and talk to new people since moving to Godric's Hollow, so she was excited, so excited that even Aberforth's hesitation about the meeting faltered. He was tall and handsome and smiled at her, but it didn't feel right.
Even since the Muggle boys attacked her, the one part of her magic she could rely on was being able to sense vague thoughts and emotions around her. Aberforth always felt nothing but love, and occasionally a little worry for her. Albus loved her as well, but she knew he also felt pity and frustration towards her. What she felt from Gellert was so unfamiliar that it took a while to understand. There was no pity or fear, obviously no love, but no loathing either, as some witches and wizards felt towards the Dumbledore's squib child. She then followed his eyes that moved towards her brother even while he was talking to her. Then she understood. This boy wanted something from her brother, and he was going to use her to get it from him. She couldn't tell Albus what she felt then, but as soon as she could she went to Ab and told him what she felt. That was this morning.
"Crucio!" Ariana jerked her head up and tears started flowing as she heard her brother screaming in pain.
There was more shouting and then several loud bangs. Ariana tried to struggle onto her shaking legs. It was her fault, she should never have told Ab, they already argued so much, she should have just kept quiet. She gripped the door tightly, it was her fault, she had to stop them.
She opened the door to three young wizards sending spells at each other in a mad frenzy. Windows were cracked and furniture lay broken around their feet and Ariana stood rooted on the spot, helpless and unable to do anything. Her brothers hadn't noticed her yet, but her eyes met Gellert's and she felt it again, a wild determination. His eyes quickly found Aberforth and after deflecting a spell directed at him, he waved his wand, quick as lightning and shot a jet of red light, striking Aberforth in the chest stunning him instantly.
Whatever glued Ariana's foot to the floor disappeared at that moment and she was wailing and running towards her fallen brother.
"He's just stunned Albus, just stunned!" Gellert Grindelwald said quickly.
Ariana was crying so hard now, she felt like she couldn't breathe. She lifted her brother's head and tried to wake him up.
"How could you Gellert, how-" Albus glared at his friend, his wand still raised.
"He drew his wand first! I had to defend myself." Gellert said, with no hint of remorse.
Ariana felt someone walk behind her and lay a hand just above her brother's mouth. She heard a sigh of relief.
"He's going to be fine Ariana." The voice then hardened. "The Cruciatus curse, Gellert? On my brother?"
"I'm sorry. I was angry, I'm sorry Albus." he wasn't, Ariana thought. He wasn't sorry at all.
Ariana took a deep breath and chanced a look up at Albus and his friend. Al wouldn't lie to her, if he said Ab was going to be fine, she believed him. Albus held his wand firmly at Gellert, who had his wand pointing at the ground, away from the three Dumbledores, but his eyes remained unwavering, holding onto Albus' gaze.
"Albus." Gellert hesitated for a moment, then spoke again. "Where we are opposed, as we surely will be, this must be the basis of all our counterarguments."
"For the greater good." muttered the young wizard, briefly glancing at his unconscious brother.
Gellert's eyes flashed and he continued his attack. "This is your first and perhaps greatest opposition Albus, a trial you must overcome. You and me together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. On the battlefield, back to back, we can out-dual any and survive innumerable odds. In the great halls of our people, side-by-side, we can let out convictions be heard, and lead them down the right path. But this, this is your trial, a choice you must make. Stay here and be content looking after your family, or come with me, for them and so many others, and give them more than they could ever hope for. A world your sister doesn't have to shy away from, a world she can join..."
There was a long silence. Ariana had stopped crying, and was staring at the back of Albus' head, and repeated the words, 'please don't go', over and over again in her mind, but she couldn't make a noise. This was important, she could tell, a moment that would change everything beyond, and Gellert was right, this was a moment where only one young wizard had the right to decide. Albus Dumbledore took a deep breath.
"I... I can't leave her here with Aberforth, they're too young, and we cannot take them, he would never agree after you... Not after what happened here, and he still has school, and we can't separate them, Ariana couldn't..." Albus glanced back at her sister and was taken aback at her intent stare. He was about to speak again when he was interrupted by his friend.
"Albus Dumbledore, do you trust me?" Gellert asked quietly.
Breaking eye contact with his sister, he turned again to his friend and repeated the question in his head. A sad smile formed on his lips. "Yes. Gellert Grindelwald, I trust you."
"I promise I will not hurt them, just make them... remember things slightly differently." Albus took in a sharp breath and held it for a moment. He sighed and nodded. Gellert nodded back and turned his head towards Ariana. She started to panic again, and was about to open her mouth, beg her brother to stop this, to stay here together-
Bathilda Bagshot was busy in the kitchen, making some cauldron cakes for her nephew Gellert, well great-nephew if you wanted to be completely accurate, but that just made her sound so incredibly old. She glanced at the clock, he wouldn't be back for a few hours, he said the Dumbledores were inviting him over for dinner. She shook her head and tutted, those poor children, she thought, having to go through all that misery at their age, especially that young Ariana. The villagers thought her a squib, and Bathilda had also believed this before she actually got to know the family.
They were an unsocial sort and any attempts by her to befriend the new arrivals to Godric's Hollow were met only with doors slamming in her face. It was only when she read an article on trans-species transfiguration, by the eldest son Albus Dumbledore, that she managed to actually exchange two words with her neighbours. She send an owl to the Hogwarts student, which eventually turned into a sort of friendship between her and the whole Dumbledore clan. She had not been exactly close to the mother, Kendra, but she could positively say that there was no one in the village that knew her better, other than her own children.
Kendra was a formidable woman, proud and sharp eyed, despite the rumours concerning her husband and daughter. Bathilda had once seen Kendra and her daughter walking around her back yard in the middle of the night. When she mentioned this to Kendra, her cheeks paled a little and she crisply told Bathilda that her daughter was unwell and left it at that. Bathilda herself had no prejudices against squibs, but her social circles had included those that would relentlessly mock and jeer not only squibs, but Muggles, half-bloods, and 'less intelligent' magical creatures (she scoffed at this, if history had shown anything it was that some of these magical creatures could easily outsmart wizards and witches, in various bloody and violent ways. Perhaps if she were to write a book about this, people would be better informed.).
These people were all different, in terms of societal positions, wizarding powers and family backgrounds, but there was something, she couldn't quite explain in words, that these people had in common, and this one thing she had never seen in Kendra Dumbledore. There was also the fact that in the brief conversation about Ariana, when Kendra said her name, Bathilda could hear in her voice, a strong maternal love for her daughter. Even if she really was a squib, Kendra would not hide her away from all prying eyes and only let her out for midnight walks. That was what Bathilda thought anyway. She sighed, perhaps Gellert would get a chance to meet Ariana and maybe find out the truth. If they only asked for help she would be more than willing to give it to them.
Suddenly she heard a loud noise coming from outside, an explosion if she had to guess. She picked up her wand and rushed to the front door. Stepping outside, she saw several villagers already out, pointing towards a column of smoke rising a few houses away. That could be the Dumbledore house, she thought to herself. She quickly tapped the door with the wand, locking it, and started walking briskly towards the smoke. Had her nephew done something? She had been told of his expulsion from Durmstrang, and the reasons behind it, but she had always thought it was an exaggeration of the truth. If she had really thought he could be capable of the ruthlessness and cruelty his school had accused him with, she would never have allowed him to stay with her and she certainly would not have introduced him to Albus Dumbledore.
By the time she reached the house, the flames had already started to die down, but a large crowd had gathered in front. Mostly Muggles but she recognised a few witches and wizards amongst the crowd. She looked around carefully and reached into the pocket where she had placed her wand, she had to find out if there was anyone still in there. As she gripped her wand tightly, someone suddenly placed a hand on her shoulder and she turned quickly. It was a neighbour, an old witch with whom she was quite friendly with.
"Bathilda, keep your wand hidden. I already tried the detection charm, I couldn't sense anyone." blood drained from Bathilda's face at these words.
"Dead? They're all dead?" she moaned quietly.
"We don't know. They might have left before the explosion, although no one has seen anything. We've been around back to see if anyone managed to escape though there, but we can't seem to find anything. Someone said they saw your nephew with the Dumbledore boy earlier today, have they been by?"
"No... Gellert said they invited him for dinner." she looked at the broken house, small flames still clinging onto some parts and then looked at the buildings on either side. Nothing. No fire spreading, and no damage from the explosion. Whatever this was, it was definitely done with magic.
Bathilda turned to her friend, biting her lower lip.
"I'm going back home. If they managed to get out, Gellert might bring them there. I'll need to be there to make sure no one is hurt." before waiting for a reply Bathilda Bagshot turned and hurried back to her house. As she approached her home she quickly glanced around, everyone was still staring and discussing the explosion that happened moments ago. She produced her wand and with a quick jab, unlocked and opened the door and hurried inside. She heard a noise and called out, the reply was instant.
"Aunt Bathilda! We're in the kitchen, please hurry!" she ran through her house, wand out and ready. In the kitchen she hesitated only for a moment before rushing towards Aberforth.
"Merlin's Beard, what happened to the four of you? Is Ariana alright?" she glanced quickly at the unconscious girl while moving her wand slowly over the burns covering Aberforth's face. His eyes were closed, but he was still breathing, he was alive.
"Ariana is fine, Madam Bagshot, she just..." Albus glanced at Gellert as if unsure of what to say. Both the boys seem to have scorch mark on their clothes and small burns on their skin, but they would be fine for the moment.
"Gellert, the burn paste, quickly. Albus, please, tell me the truth so I can help you." she stared into his eyes until Gellert returned with the jar, which he opened and handed to his great aunt. Gellert then took his place next to Albus and nodded, encouraging his friend to speak. Albus sighed and the words poured out.
"Madam Bagshot, Ariana... Ariana was never a squib. That was just a rumour our mother tried to spread to hide the truth." one of her hands were spreading the orange paste onto Aberforth's face while the other, holding her wand, carefully removed the scorched robes from his upper body to reveal more burns. She didn't take her eyes off her patient but nodded and told Albus to continue.
"Ariana was... attacked, by Muggles, when they saw her using magic. This was why our father went to Azkaban, not because he held a belief of superiority over others, but because they attacked his six year old daughter." Bathilda looked up at this point and saw, Albus holding onto her sister, and believed everything that he was saying. She was beginning to understand.
"After the attack, Ariana... she became unstable, magically, I mean. When she became distressed or emotional, she would lash out with accidental magic. My parents realised that if the Ministry ever found out, she would be considered a violation of the Statute of Secrecy and be forced away to somewhere like St. Mungo's." Albus looked at his sister, carefully stroking her hair.
Bathilda stood up, she had done the best she could for Aberforth. She handed the burn healing paste to Gellert, telling him to use some on himself, then kneeled next to Albus and Ariana and carefully traced her wand above Ariana's head and body.
"So... Kendra's death?" at Bathilda's question, Albus closed his eyes and took in a long breath.
"Yes. Accidental magic. It wasn't her fault." he whispered. Bathilda shook her head in pity. No, it wasn't her fault, she agreed. Ariana seemed fine. No burns or other physical injuries. If she had indeed been the source of the magic, it was unlikely that she would have been affected, unless someone were to deflect it back towards her and she new these boys would never do that, not even to protect themselves. She was thinking very quickly now, her desire to help this family struck by tragedy had not diminished, but she wasn't sure what she could do. Kendra's death was a tragedy and there had certainly been questions surrounding the incident, but it had been one person and with a story backed by all her children, the Ministry never looked too much into it, allowing Kendra to take the blame for the accident. But now, a whole house destroyed, in front of Muggles no less, with no damage spreading an inch outside the property, they were bound to be suspicions. If someone had not already sent an owl to the Ministry of Magic, it was only a matter of time and then, Albus was right, they would take her and keep her there until the day she died.
"Aunt Bathilda, we need to leave." she just stared at her nephew, so he continued. "Albus is right, when they come they'll be here for Ariana, we can't let them take her away."
"Where... where will you go?" she bit let lower lip and looked at the four in her kitchen. The oldest amongst them was Albus, only eighteen. "What will you do?"
"Just get away from here for now and keep Ariana safe." Albus spoke up. He looked towards his brother, lying still and covered in a thick orange paste. "Madam Bagshot, could you look after Aberforth please? He only has a few more years at Hogwarts and I promise to send some money when we reach London, and more whenever we can. Even if he could come with us with those injuries, I would like to see him complete his education."
Bathilda looked at her nephew and his friend, their eyes unflinching while she tired to see if they would back down. She knew if anyone could look after Ariana it would be these two. Despite certain misgivings others had towards her nephew, these two boys had already surpassed their peers in many ways. She almost wanted to tell them to give Ariana up and let the healers take care of her, so that they could achieve greatness wherever they desired. But she knew better than to say it out loud, she could imagine the disappointment in their eyes if she even suggested it. No. They were still young and brilliant. They would overcome this trial and whatever else was thrown at them, and their names would eventually become known to the whole wizarding world. They still have time.
She made up her mind. "Gellert, go to your room and pack whatever you feel you should take. Quickly now." her nephew nodded and quickly left the kitchen. She told the other boy to stay and moved quickly to her room, where she removed a small pouch from a hidden compartment in her desk, with all the Galleons she could spare. She looked around her room trying to think of anything else that might help them, but just shook her head slightly and returned.
"Albus, here take this. All the money I can spare at the moment." Gellert ran in with his trunk ready to leave. Albus opened his mouth ready to argue with her, but she interrupted him. "No take it and don't argue, we don't have time. You don't need to send any money, I have enough to take care of myself and your brother, more than enough. Spend this and whatever else you have, looking after yourselves and your sister. Go to London, but don't visit Gringotts, just get whatever you think is essential and then move on to somewhere you won't draw much attention. I'll try and owl you when things have settled down a bit, but until then try to stay hidden."
Albus stared at her almost as if he wanted to say something and Gellert tensed slightly. Albus then just lowered his head and said a quiet thank you.
"You're welcome Albus. Now go. The floo powder is by the fireplace, Gellert you first." As Gellert Grindelwald vanished through the green flames that appeared in the fireplace, Albus Dumbledore, stood up and tried to hold his sister as physically close to him as possible. He grabbed a handful of the green powder and took a moment to look back towards his brother. He wasn't sure when they would see each other again. Even though they had never been that close, they still loved each other and to leave like this... Both his parents had given their lives for his sister and he tried to convince himself that they would understand, and agree with his decision to leave his brother behind. He tried not to even think about the Memory Charm they performed or the injuries inflicted on him when they blew up the house.
"Madam Bagshot, I'll find a way to help Ariana control her magic and I'll be back. Tell my brother that will you?" Albus Dumbledore's eyes were almost regretful.
Bathilda quickly reassured him. "I will make sure to tell him. If anyone can find a way it's you and Gellert."
"Thank you." Albus said sincerely to the kind old witch. The he turned slightly to his unconscious brother and whispered, "Forgive me Aberforth…"
He threw the floo powder into the fireplace and as the green flames rose wildly he spoke clearly, "Diagon Alley" and without looking back, holding his sister tightly, he stepped into the flames.