Disclaimer: I am the All-Being, creator and undisputed master of the universe. I do, however, allow some of my creations to claim that they created certain characters and situations of their own.
The Greatest Wizard of the Age
The Greatest Wizard of the Age reflected on his long life. It had been a good one, filled with acclaim, awards, and accolades.
The heroic act that initially launched Dumbledore into the international spotlight was, of course, his hard-fought defeat of Dark Lord Grindelwald.
Albus cautiously walked down the corridor. He wondered how things had come to this. His boyhood friend, his very best special friend, Gellert Grindelwald, had taken their alcohol-inspired Design for a Better World and actually tried to do it! Now Albus was stuck trying to reason with him. Gellert wasn't a bad man, just a bit overenthusiastic and prone to haring off on one crazy scheme after another.
"Gellert? Gellert? Are you in here, Pookie-pie?"
There was no answer except his echo. Albus was glad. He hadn't meant to call out his pet name for Gellert where others might hear it, but it seemed like no harm done.
Proceeding further into the restored silence, Albus soon became aware of a foul smell. Worse than his brother after a hot date. Could it be inferi? Could Gellert have descended to such a depth? Or was it that large boy, the half-giant. What was his name, Rancid Haggis? Albus thought that his gas should be classified as the fourth unforgivable, but no one on the wizengamot seemed interested in raising the issue. Could he have joined Gellert's crusade after he'd been expelled?
No. No! It was Gellert and his dinner, both at least a week past their best-by date. Oh, and half a dozen other dead wizards who looked to have cursed each other to death in a power struggle, but they didn't matter except for the added smell.
Looking more closely, Albus saw that Gellert had died clutching his throat and had fallen face-first into a bowl of stew. He nodded sadly. Hasenpfeffer. The deadliest meal. All those little bones…
Noticing Gellert's wand on the floor where it must have dropped from lifeless fingers, Albus picked it up and gave it a melancholy swish. Gellert had never allowed him to handle it before, but Oh! the places this wand had been! He'd keep it as a, er, keepsake.
Hearing whispers come from nowhere, he spun abruptly, wand up, ready to deal with any threat. But there was nothing there…
No, no, no… Is the best I can do? I deserve so much better. Go and get into a fight with other wizards. Fight powerful wizards. The winner gets the wand. Go now and fight!
The whispers were coming from the wand! The wand was inspiring him to go out and prove himself in mighty duels. Truly this must be a powerful, ancient artifact, to carry such a subtle compulsion charm. This must be what had driven Gellert, dear Gellert, mad.
But Albus was strong! He was guided by an unwavering moral compass! He would keep this wand under his control and not allow it to corrupt lesser mortals.
A few minutes later, staggering out into the open, smoke-free air, Albus coughed and wiped his eyes. Honestly! Who left an ever-burning bowl of fire where someone could bump into it and knock it onto the robes of a dead wizard?
"It's Dumbledore. He survived!" "And look! He has Grindelwald's wand!" "Hurrah for Dumbledore!"
The Greatest Wizard of All Time had been recognized as a prodigy while still young. A century later, Griselda Marchbanks still raved about his masterful performance during NEWTs.
Excerpt from a Daily Prophet interview with Griselda Marchbanks, August 15, 1996
Daily Prophet: We've already discussed Harry Potter's amazing OWL results. Do any other students stick in your mind, over the hundred years you were examining them?
Griselda Marchbanks: Oh, my, yes. Albus Dumbledore. I'll never forget him.
DP: Can you tell us more? What was so special about Mr Dumbledore's test?
GM: The first time I laid my eyes on Albus Dumbledore was when he came in for his turn. Oh, he was so bashful and nervous. I was just a young thing myself, barely out of my thirties. And such a pretty thing! Here, I still have a photograph. Muggles had just learned how to make them. Mine was the last picture that camera ever took.
DP: Merlin give me strength! Here, here, take it back! Ah, we suppose that standards of beauty have changed over the years. Now, if we may return to Mr Dumbledore's exam?
GM: Yes, Albus was so nervous when he came in. Such a dashing figure of a young wizard. I rubbed his back a bit to relax him before he began his test. I thought, silly me, that being stiff would be a problem during testing. Oh, my, was I mistaken about that. It turns out that his stiffness was key to the Outstanding score I gave him. Why, that young man did things with his wand that I'd never seen before or since. When he'd finished his performance, the room looked as if it had been hit by a windstorm. The table had been flattened and our robes had been ripped off us and flung about. Even now it sets my heart a-flutter, recalling it. Afterward, dear Albus set the room to rights and repaired our clothing. That was how he earned the Honors annotation to his grade, showing grace under pressure as one of the other examiners knocked on the door.
DP: That's quite some story. Has the public ever heard it before?
GM: I've been telling nervous young wizards this tale for a hundred years. None has ever looked to the deeper meaning. Such a pity. Mature witches need attention, too.
Quirkiness is only to be expected in such a great wizard. Norms of behavior are only for the normal, after all.
It didn't take long after being granted every honor in the wizarding world that Albus began to feel a bit overwhelmed. It wasn't that he couldn't lead the wizengamot or represent Britain's interests in the ICW or bring up the next generation of magical children. It wasn't like that at all. He was a most extraordinary wizard, even he had to admit it, and on top of that he had a talking wand that no one else could hear.
No, the problem was all the people constantly looking to him for guidance. He couldn't blame them of course, but Albus simply didn't have the time to listen to everyone's problems and think through the complex issues and issue his pronouncements. There were teachers to fire! Delegates to befuddle! Socks to fondle!
He stumbled upon the perfect deterrent to the idly hapless. He'd give nonsensical answers to all questions. After word got around, he found that few indeed were the questions, just as he had planned.
His method provided an unexpected bonus: the more he baffled them with, er, bunkum, the more they thought he was dazzling them with brilliance. He was brilliant, there was no denying it, but he was gaining a reputation for depth and wisdom despite not answering a single question. He must be even more brilliant than he had realized!
But of course, some people deserved Albus's best advice, not the nonsense that was good enough for the common folk, those who were destined to be followers of natural-born leaders like Albus. The Minister for Magic was seen as a leader, and as such was one who deserved Albus's best advice.
Cornelius Fudge was a wonderful Minister for Magic. First among his virtues was that he was not a natural leader but had been thrust into a position to lead their part of the world. Because he was not up to the position he held, he turned to his betters for guidance. And who better to guide the Minister than the greatest wizard of the age?
Albus's ego wasn't above the additional burnishing it got from having the acknowledged leader of their world, the Minister for Magic, constantly asking for advice on matters from encouraging wizengamot members in voting the right way to how to removing honey smears from his best robes. True, Albus's knees were starting to feel the strain from all the time he spent on the floo, but it was worth it. Yes, Cornelius Fudge made everyone in the vicinity look good, at least by comparison, and Albus was not about to turn down any chance to make himself look even more impressive than he already was.
As Chief Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, Albus had not only direct, personal power but the opportunity to steer the entire world to a better, greater future.
Ever since his youth, Albus had had a vision of the greater glory of Wizarding kind. Yes, it had originally been mostly Gellert's vision, but Albus had grabbed it with both hands, just as he'd grabbed Gellert. After decades of hard work, unprecedented skill, and unequaled moral clarity, Albus had taken the helm of the world's steering committee.
It was unfortunate that ICW membership had started dropping shortly after he took its helm. Currently only England was a member. Albus had no worries, though. Once the rest of the world became enlightened enough to understand his Vision, they would be begging to rejoin.
Albus's reminiscences finally reached the capstone of a long life of steering events and people: Harry Potter.
Setting aside the event which made Harry famous to the whole world – and Albus still felt some regret for having told the tale in public, but it wasn't his fault that he got chatty after six or ten shots of firewhisky – the Greatest Wizard in the World had first recognized a possible equal at the end of the boy's first year at Hogwarts. Impossibly, he had effortlessly slid through a gauntlet of traps which would have stopped Albus himself dead in his tracks. True, one of the boy's companions had been lost along the way, but Albus well understood the regrettable necessity of sacrificing pawns in the pursuit of the Greater Good.
Of course, Harry had come to Albus's attention long before, thanks to the prophecy. And Albus regularly gave thanks for prophecies. Faced with a complex and inscrutable world, what could any right-thinking wizard do but flail around in confusion? That was where prophecies came in, giving guidance and direction to the eternally confused.
(Not that Albus was eternally confused. But even the Greatest Wizard of the Age got tired of figuring things out all the time and once in a while leaned on prophecy. Just a little.)
And so, once Harry was marked, Albus followed the guidance of the prophecy and made sure the boy's childhood would be as close to Tom Riddle's childhood as could be arranged. Deprivation, beatings, and indifferent adults? Check, check, and check. Harry and Voldemort were equals indeed. Albus only hoped that someday Harry would realize all he'd done for the boy, and would thank him properly.