“I need a place to hide this portrait”, “I need a place to hide this portrait”, “I need a place to hide this portrait.”
As he walked to and fro, waiting for the door to appear he just had one thing on his mind- he needed to hide her portrait, desperately, from everyone, especially him… He who always complained, he who always underestimated their relationship. The one who never understood what he thought, what he felt.. They say the right thing-blood relations in itself are not necessary, it’s what they do and what others say and do in front of them. And Thank God for that.. He did not want to be like him.. He did enjoy the fame, he did enjoy the way things came to him, and thoughts came to him. It was as if he was born with so much of extraterrestrial information and wisdom and knowledge. He was glad that he was unique in that way! And look at him, his brother… He doubted he could even read… Why did he have to be a blot? And then, since his dad had been to the unspeakable place, he’d turned hostile… He just didn’t like it, me being the ‘head’ of the family.’ He used to tell himself. Jealousy is the word… Who said their sister loved him more? She definitely liked me more. It’s just that he never left her side, never, ever. Even when she had to be left alone, he insisted on following her around… Whereas he just would be there for her when she needed him the most.. They were alike in that way-they never publicly displayed their affection… But wasn’t it better to just be like that… Live like best friends, rather than like love struck teenagers?
Oh, how he hated Aberforth! Why did he have to come in between?! He did feel bad for him; he was not all that mature. But, it was time to be. If not, then when? And now he was denying the portrait? How could he? Albus had spent many nights magicking it into what it was… A talking, thinking portrait of his sister.. A kind of a two way mirror.. He could talk to his sister sitting at Hogwarts… And now Aberforth had found out about it-he wanted the portrait, to talk to Ariana! As if! He’ll again start off with why Ariana should never talk to him… How all he cared for ever, was himself, and for fame and being great! Why did Aberforth have to make his life more miserable!
And then, he heard a faint pop, or maybe imagined it! He’d always love Godric Gryffindor for the idea of the Room. He opened his eyes and set his eyes onto the clean, polished door, there. Finally, away from Aberforth! He quickly searched for room around the pile of books and all those years of wasted stuff… Somebody had left a dead bird in a cage around, sad! And, finally, he found an empty wall… Not far away from the entrance, but not easy to find either! He was glad that Ariana had a place in Hogwarts, finally… not in the real sense, but literally.
“Thank you, Albus. Thank you. I’m happy I have a place at Hogwarts now… I never thought I might ever be able to…” came a sweet, baby-ish voice from within the portrait. “No, Ariana… Please don’t thank me… I love having you around… I love it, knowing you are safe, knowing mother is fine. Take care of her, for me, please?”
“Albus listen, I need to see some place, some place outside this pile of books, some place, where I can see other people… I know it is difficult for you, given my, er, condition… But please, Albus?”, I can’t promise, sister, but I’ll try… I’ll try my best to do something. How’s mother?”
“Wow, Albus, wow. That is brilliant magic you’ve done! I can’t believe I can actually walk up to Hogsmaede… This is like, a full Hogwarts experience!”
“Ariana, listen, I’m going for a world tour! It’s all decided! Isn’t that great? I am going to take you around the world… And that too, without you having to feel tired!” “That’s great, Al. Thanks a lot. I’m so happy I have you for a brother, and not just that idiot who tries to treat me like I’m his favorite goat!”
“Ariana? Ariana? Are you here? Please don’t go off from here as well! Please, please talk to me… Please Ariana… Please, be here… I don’t want to lose you forever! Sister, please?!” As he closed his eyes, desperately trying to remember if he knew the magic well and he performed it on his sister’s portrait-the magic they use on the headmasters and headmistresses of Hogwarts’ portrait. He prayed that magic worked on her portrait, or else he’ll never hear her sweet, baby-ish voice ever. It was his fault, entirely… He shouldn’t have let Gallert stay, not let Gallert fight, not let Gallert fool him… How could Gallert do that do him when he loved him so! They had a future together! They were going to get rid of all the evil!!! And Aberforth! How could Aberforth fight? He was never good at dueling! Hell, he didn’t even know how to read!!! Why did this happen to him? His life was set! He’d go for the tour and then change the world, change the world and make it better for all the weaker men, the Muggles and wizards could coexist and it would be a beautiful world! And now, he lost his mother, befriended a person claiming to change from a notorious mass murderer, and later found that he was being used, and now he lost his sister, the only one he ever truly loved, before Gallert! He wished, he prayed Ariana would open her mouth and speak something! “Albus? Albus? Is that you? Oh my God Albus, don’t cry… I promised I’ll be here for you, don’t worry!”, “Ariana!!! You’re there… I thought I lost you forever. Thanks a lot, and I’m sorry… I’m sorry I… I killed-“ “No, Albus, it wasn’t you… I tried coming in between… I could sense Gallert having a murderous rage, I think he wanted to kill you, I didn’t want you to be wasted like that, and if you died, the world will be one great wizard less, so I came in between and took his curse. I am not important, not as important as you are, Albus. You’ll do good to the world, you should do good to the world.” “You did that? You took the curse for me? But why? And you aren’t important? You mean the world to me! You mean the world, everything inside and outside it, to me. And if you wouldn’t be here… now, I can’t think what I’d have done! If you’d have left me…” “Do you think that the dead who we love ever truly leave us Albus? And oh, Albus, I feel good now… I won’t do any more mistakes; I won’t lose my temper anymore. I’ll be more stable than any time before, Albus. Believe me; I belong here more than I’d ever belong with the mortal world.”
“Albus, take up a job here, please? And did you know Aberforth shifted to Hogsmaede, he’s a bartender at the shop you’ve put me in. I avoid going there as far as possible, and I doubt he knows about my portrait; for how long I do not know!” “Really? That’s funny, I doubt he can do much with it… I’ll be surprised if he sells one butterbeer, even!! And I know that teaching here is what I want to do, eventually… That’s something I’m sure about… But I have some job to do” His face darkened as he said that, as it always did when he thought of it. He knew it-he would either die, in which case, he’d be with his sister and mother and father. Or he’d kill him, which is revenge… The revenge which he wanted to take since he saw that green burst of light for the first time, since he saw those brown eyes turn cold, dead. “What job, Albus?” “I am going to kill him, he who killed you, he who tore our family apart into shreds, in such a way that it can’t be undone. I’m taking revenge against Gallert. I am going to kill him, Araina!” “Albus, NO! I don’t want you to become what he was, I don’t want you to be a murderer, I don’t want you to be a person who carries the burden of taking away a life, not if you can afford it! Not for me.” “Then what, what should I do, Ariana? Should I let him roam free, killing people, tearing off families, stealing away lives?” “No, Albus, I don’t want you to kill him, not for me, do something, take away his wand, take away his freedom. Lock him up at Numengard, but don’t kill him!”
“Ariana, I met a boy, today. He… he reminded me of Gallert. When I told him, about him being a wizard, he was so happy. He was happy he was special, extraordinary, powerful. He was happy he could do great things. He could even speak to snakes. I found out, he is a descendant of Slytherin.”
“Tom Riddle opened the chamber of secrets, Ariana! I don’t know what do we do about the boy! He’s heading the wrong way… I can’t help this!!! We can’t have another Gallert. We cant afford to, Araina! I’m scared of this boy’s future. I really am. I’m going to keep an eye on him. Extraordinary, even among the wizards…”
“Albus, are you there? I heard people talking, I heard Aberforth… Did you?” “Yes, and guess what was his biggest weapon? The Elder Wand! He used the elder wand, from all these times… And I thought we were friends! Oh, I’m so sorry, Ariana…” “It’s okay, Albus, there is nothing wrong, nothing to be sorry about. If you hadn’t known him, you’d never have known things about him. If he hadn’t killed me, you’d never look around for him, for the revenge. You’d have never killed Gallert!!! I’m happy, you are proving your worth, brother!” “That isn’t anything, the thing bothering me is, Tom. He’s doing random, weird things. He has taken up a job in Borgin and Burkes. I am worried, Ariana.”
“Tom Riddle, he’s doing everything… Everything in his power, extraordinary, which is, to remain immortal. To not to die. He’s gathering people, who call themselves The Death Eaters. This is war. War between immortality and mortality. Between nature and magic.” “I don’t know what this means, Albus. But I’m sure you have an idea? I’m sure you can do something against him? You defeated Gallert, didn’t you? He’s still alive, I assume?” “Alive? He still breathes, and thinks. But alive? I think not. Not yet.”
“He came for a job, today… For a job as defence against the dark arts… I wonder, but, of course… He wants control.. He wants total control over the wizarding world.” “Albus, I heard someone come in here. They were searching for a place to hide something. That person, was no ordinary kid, I could feel it. A professor, maybe… I’m not sure, but that person searched for a place, it’s the first time somebody passed my portrait. And, I don’t know where he went. I think Riddle hid something in this castle, I don’t know, am not sure if it was him. “ “He came in here? I’ll look around later, but, I won’t find it if he intended to hide it.” “I think he didn’t know anybody knew of the room anymore.”
“Ariana, it’s great news!!! Finally, somebody to match with Tom’s power. I told you this, didn’t i? Sybill Trelawney made a prophecy… According to the prophecy a child is to be born with the powers, to parents who have defied him, thrice. That’s the Longbottoms and the Potters…” “That’s actually great, but what is the thing that’s bothering you? You don’t seem as happy, Albus.” “It’s just… Severus overheard the prophecy. By this time Tom must have heard about it, and must be on the verge of killing them, both set of parents and the kids.” “NO! He wouldn’t… he..he would. Albus, please make them safe.”
“He’s hunting down the Potters. I cautioned the order. They are all into protecting them.” “Why, the Potters? Why not the Longbottoms?” “He must have made the connection. He must have seen the obvious mistake of going by the blood-line. Though, with parents like that, young Harry Potter is sure to be a brilliant wizard.”
“Are you okay? You seem devastated” “He hunted them down. He killed them. Harry survives.” “What? How did that happen? How did he get past the fedlius charm? And how did Harry survive?” “Sirius Black. He turned traitor. He was leaking information. And as to Harry, Lilly Potter came in between. Tom didn’t think of the ancient protecting charm. Tom cannot touch him, anymore. Just like Gallert couldn’t touch me. I’m sure that changes a lot of things. I do see a tiny ray of hope, now. But he surely can’t be gone. He’ll be back. Tom will be back. Till then, Harry is to be with his Muggle relatives.” “Why Muggles? Is that Lily’s sister’s side? Is the thing like mother used to say?” “Yes, pretty much. He needs to be protected by The Death Eaters. For now, I need to go and meet Severus.”
“Severus. I can’t believe this boy. He has a soft spot for Lilly, like I told you. And today, I saw him. He was more devastated than I was. He has promised me to take care of Harry. He’ll soon be joining as Potions master.”
“How’s young Harry?” “Oh, I’ve heard a lot from the teachers. They swear he’s a great wizard. Very modest.” “How’s Severus taking it?” “He tries to not bother. He told me he’s not great. But I didn’t need legimency to see right through him. I’m sure they’ll get along. Harry’s safety is his priority, no matter what!”
“Albus, what happened to your hand?” “It’s nothing. It’s nothing.” “Oh, you’ve got a ring on. Show it to me.” He thought about it. He thought about the odds of lying to Ariana. He deducted that it was useless-he couldn’t lie to her. She would never buy it. He showed him the ring. She’d find out how desperate he was to have her back. She’d told him how at home she was in the world she was in. She’d told him she never wants to come back to life. She’d told him not to bring back the Hallows. But he was desperate. He’d lost her to death. Death had not shied away from taking away the purest of lives. “Albus!”, she gasped. She had a horrified look in her eyes. That look, he wanted to die before he saw it again. “Albus! Haven’t I told you? I’m happy here? I do not want to be alive again.” “You’re right Ariana. But it’s okay! You might not want to come to this world. But I’m about to. I’ll be there within a year.” “Albus, don’t pretend. Pretence is not what you can do. I’ve known you more than that to take it in. I’ve known you across the worlds. You may be the great Professor Dumbledore to the world. But to me, you’re still my older brother.” “Sorry, sister, but I’m fine. A bit scared, but I’m okay. I’ve had enough of great things in life. I’ve been able to talk to you! It’s okay. If I weren’t, I would be no different from Gallert, or Tom.” He paused, thinking it over. So this is no pretence, eh? It can’t be, if he could say that to her-if he could say that to her, and her believing in him. He did have a long life, he’d taught great witches and wizards. He’d known some and inspired some. Many believed in him, many would rather die than let him die. But death is always an old friend, who leaves you, but comes back to visit the people who love you, and people whom you love. He’d seen death countless number of times. And always wished it was him… He’d tried not to be scared of it, to be a master of death, but he’d had enough experiences to say that they were useless. Nobody’s a master of death; no ordinary human can be that. Death chooses its own master. And masters of death aren’t afraid of death. Death, now has given him a chance. Death had given him a privilege to change the world, to let through information before it came on to meet him. He knew he’d have to stir it in Harry, son of James and Lily, godson of Sirius and protégé of Severus, all great, brave people. Harry was their last and only hope. He had to believe in him. He did believe in him. He was proud of this little boy wizard who carried enormous responsibilities on his shoulder since before he was born. Responsibilities with power and knowledge. He was proud of this boy who lived, lived beyond the ordinary, loved beyond the ordinary, yet so grounded. “ “It is time, Ariana, to let go”, he said, as he sighed, “Time to let our little friend know what he’s facing, and to let our brave friend know what he’s got to do. It’s time to do the last thing, to pass on information.” As he said that, both the siblings had tears in their eyes. “For the greater good, brother. Do what’s best.” “Araina, before I… I need to do something for me-talk to Aberforth, Harry will come to him, tell him to show them the passage to the room. Help them.”
“It’s you, Ariana? You’ve been here all along? And you never once came to me? It’s one of Albus’ plans, right? You know I cared for you more than he ever did.”, said Aberforth. “Aberforth, that’s enough. You’ve always been jealous of him. You can’t say anything to me, no matter what you tell the others. I’ve heard you talking to others about Albus. And here, I’ve come to ask you for help-one last time- you are to let Potter through, if he asks for help, you are to protect him, as and when possible, no matter how ridiculous he sounds. You are to do that, not for Albus, but for me. If you do that, I’ll forgive you, for saying those nasty things about him. If you don’t, I’ll never visit your portrait, ever.”
That was the last time Ariana spoke. Soon after, her brother died. She stopped talking after that. She believed that the portrait, her portrait was made by Albus so that he could talk to her. She made sure that through this portrait, the only person she would talk to was her brother, the brother who loved her, and cared for her till his last moment. When Harry told Aberforth what happened to Albus in the cave, she felt a sun shine through her. She was glad that this brilliant wizard was her brother. And later, she saw the many generation of Hogwarts students pass her by. Many remembering her as their parents’ savior-the one who let their parents through, on the fateful day of the battle. Moreover, she was happy when the Potters and the Weasleys pointed at her portrait and remembered it as the gateway to their parents on that fateful day. She was glad she was of use. She was glad she had a place in Hogwarts, forevermore.