Universe: Harry Potter, WWII era
"First time for this? For international carpet flights?"
Albus looked away from the ground flying past as they flew past it. "No, this is not my first long-distance flight. I confess, however, that I have never yet grown accustomed to them."
"I'll let you in on a little trick: when I get wherever I'm going, I pull off my boots and socks and let my feet be free. Looking forward to it helps me get through the flight."
Dumbledore thanked his fellow traveler and made plans to do just that. The man was right; the anticipation of letting his feet air out helped with the tension of flying high under someone else's control.
Working his way through the crowded throng of partiers in the tall building, Albus eventually found his lover, the only reason he'd left his rather important work and put up with the long flight.
"Gelly! How are you doing? It's been so long since we've seen each other!"
"It's good to see you, too, Al. I'm fine, thank you. Now if you'll excuse me, I have many other people I must talk to tonight."
Albus let himself be directed away, not revealing the hurt he felt at being brushed off. At least Gellert had a private office, suitable for resting for a few minutes after a long flight.
Albus let out a contented sigh as he put his bare feet up and flexed his toes. This was a good way to let the stress out.
But before he was half relaxed, an alarm began to screech and then an amplified voice bellowed, "Your attention, please! The building is under attack. All staff and guests are directed to come to the main lobby for your protection."
Greatly disturbed, Albus ran back the way he'd come from the welcome area, in such a hurry that he forgot to put on his boots. A last-minute bit of caution had him slow down and edge toward the last doorway.
Just as he'd feared! A handful of Death's Heads were holding all of the partiers at wand point. As the British wizard watched, aghast, the owner of the company was executed to the accompaniment of much grandstanding blather.
The next several hours passed in a blur. A painful blur. Albus played cat and mouse with the terrorists, leaving a bloody trail as his bare feet got sliced up from the broken glass that covered seemingly every square inch of every floor he ran across. He had ambushed his enemies, riddled them with spellfire,and protected hostages by transfiguring them into furniture. He'd even swung off the roof of the building and back in through a window, escaping one group's attack and taking another group by surprise, at the cost of more damage to his poor feet.
It didn't occur to him, not until long after, that he could have conjured or transfigured himself a pair of boots during the long hours of fighting. He could even have taken the boots from a dead Death's Head. Alas, Albus had been too caught up in the moment to have taken the time to protect his poor, poor feet.
At last all of the mooks were down and only Albus and Hans Gruberwald were left. It always came down to a boss fight at the end. Every single time, as if every conflict followed an unimaginative script.
"You could surrender now, Gruberwald, and make it easier on the both of us."
"No, no no no. You have been entirely too much of an annoyance to me, Albus Dumbledore."
Albus gasped. How could the terrorist possibly know his name?
"How could you possibly know my name? I've never met you in my life."
"Oh, no? You've already forgotten the many nights we spent together?"
Albus gasped again. "Gellert? Is it you?"
Hans Gruberwald laughed and then wiped his hand over his face, revealing the features that Albus knew and loved. "Yes, you fool! I had you all fooled! I put together this crack team right under the noses of everyone. And you wondered why I was too busy for you."
Albus had to ask. "You must tell me, Gellert. What is your goal here? Are you after terror? Taking over the country? Ruling the world?"
Hans — Gellert — shook his head. "My actions here today were simply a cover for my team to open the vault and empty out all the lovely gold and banknotes. Your actions here today were a complication but you did not stop me from getting the money."
"You want money? What kind of terrorists are you?"
Gellert chuckled. "Who said we were terrorists?"
Albus closed his eyes and bowed his head. This was too much. He barely heard when Gellert asked him to join him, something about großer geld.
No. It couldn't be. It would never happen, that Albus would become a common criminal. Waging a revolutionary campaign against a corrupt government so he could refashion a complacent society was something he could see himself doing. But not for mere money.
Gellert evidently tired of Albus's thought process. "I do regret you not joining me." He lifted his wand, the gnarled stick he'd taken to using.
But Albus was quicker. He'd always been quicker. He flicked his own wand up, shouting, "Expelliarmus!" Gellert's wand flew toward him as Gellert himself flew backward and down a conveniently open elevator shaft.
Albus limped forward on his shredded feet to confirm the death of his lover. "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker," he said tiredly.
As he staggered out of the building, Albus saw the trail of blood he was leaving behind. He vowed he would never be without socks again. Thick, comfortable socks, with cooling and deodorizing charms. Enchanted so they would be as tough as boots. And bright and colorful. Yes, Albus saw a mountain of socks in his future.