A/N: This is for Season 5 Round 3 of The Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. I'm Chaser 1 for the Caerphilly Catapults. My prompt this time was to write about the Truth leading to a death OR write about a Dare saving someone's life. I chose the latter. These were my three optional prompts:
4. (song) "Sunrise" – Our Last Night
8. (flavor) cinnamon
11. (emotion) regret
AU I'VE PUT ALBUS IN GRYFFINDOR DON'T SHOOT ME. *whispers* The dynamics worked better that way. */whispers*
YE OLDE TRIGGER WARNING This fic talks about suicide. If this will upset you, please don't read it.
Albus Severus Potter, Head Boy, was in something of a foul mood as he paroled the corridors one night in late November. He had had a generally rotten day. He'd been handed back one of the worst marks he'd gotten in nearly seven years of Hogwarts, in Defense Against the Dark Arts, no less! He had sat down to dinner in the Great Hall with his two best friends, Rose and Scorpius, filled with righteous indignation and ready to vent about it, too. But before he could speak, Rose, Head Girl, had begged him to take her night patrol so she could go to bed early. He knew his cousin had trouble sleeping when the winds picked up, as they had for the past week, so as frustrating as her request was, he couldn't very well say "no." He'd grudgingly agreed, and before anyone could ask him anything else, he'd jumped into the account of what had happened when Professor Pincer handed back their papers on dementor encounters.
"And then he said that I didn't give sources for half the things I said, and I was like, 'Uh, yeah, because my source was my dad?'"
"Well, Al," said Scorpius, "He's kind of right. I mean, I've heard quite a bit of what happened to your dad during his time at Hogwarts, but those were really isolated events. There was a greater force at play. I don't think you can call the dementors' behavior typical in those situations. Especially when they surrounded Sirius Black – I mean, there's never been another case of someone escaping from Azkaban. There's never been another case of someone being wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban."
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean that what my dad said wasn't true!" Albus protested, "Just because it's not typical dementor behavior, that doesn't make it inapplicable to the prompt. Besides, I mentioned all the things he said in class. The scenario was the only difference."
"The scenario was half the point," said Rose, tiredly, "We were supposed to write a paper on a dementor encounter from start to finish. That meant that we had to know in what kind of situation we could expect to encounter a dementor."
"And I gave a real-life example of a dementor encounter! What's the problem?"
"It's real," Rose said, rubbing her forehead, "but it's not realistic! I based my encounter completely on the textbook chapter on Azkaban."
"Well, fine! What did you get out of 100, if you're so clever?"
"A 95, Albus," she snapped, "I received the highest mark in the class."
"Well, that's all right for you, then!" he shouted, "Just like your mum, aren't you?"
"Albus!" Scorpius hissed, putting his arm around Rose, who had hiccupped loudly, a sound which generally meant she was going to start crying.
Albus didn't care just then. "What? It's true!"
Rose hiccupped again, turning her head into Scorpius' shoulder.
"Look, mate," he said, "I'm taking Rose to get a sleeping draught from Madam Pomfrey. Could you make sure she got to bed before you go on patrol?"
"Yeah, all right," Albus told him sharply, turning back to his food.
When he went back to the Gryffindor common room, he first glanced around to make sure Rose hadn't ended up asleep on some couch or other, just like he'd promised. Not seeing her, he sat down at a table in the corner to do his homework before he went on patrol. He flipped through his bag and noticed his Charms homework first, but he was used to doing that with Rose, so he shoved it back in. Next, he found his History of Magic textbook, and the bookmark in the chapter he was supposed to read. He picked it up, deciding that doing reading homework while you were grumpy was a better idea than doing anything else.
The clock struck nine. Albus had been reading the same page for five minutes. He slammed the textbook closed and stuffed it in his bag, stomping up to deposit the bag in his dormitory before heading out into the corridors.
And that is how Albus Severus Potter came to be at the top of the Astronomy Tower at about 9:45. He was still angry, and he was looking for someone to punish for being out past curfew. If he hadn't been so determined to find someone, he might not have heard the sniffles of a younger student on the Astronomy Tower. If Rose had been on duty that night, she might have been too short to see the messy blonde hair of the boy huddled against the wall. She might have passed right by him.
But Albus was tall enough to see the sandy head shaking; he heard the boy crying, and he went out to see who it was, if only to scold him, and tell him to go back to his dormitory and go to bed.
That was, indeed, Albus' intention, but as he began to approach the boy with a stern look on his face, the boy crawled away from him, showing his green robes and Slytherin insignia. The boy backed all the way up to the railing at the edge of the Astronomy Tower.
"What are you doing?" Albus asked, recognizing the answer as the boy lifted himself up to sit on the railing, his back to the night, and lean towards infinity.
On instinct, Albus lunged forward and tackled the smaller boy to the ground. The boy did not resist, and Albus dragged him away from the railing. Albus was no longer in a foul mood. His heart was pounding. He had just saved a life.
Still holding the boy's shoulders, Albus held him at arm's length. "What's your name?"
"Gilbert Greengrass," the boy mumbled.
The boy nodded, his tear-streaked face swollen and red, making it hard to tell how old he was. It didn't particularly matter, though. Albus could find that out later.
"Hi, Gilbert. My name is Albus."
Gilbert's head snapped up.
Albus waited a moment to see if Gilbert would say anything. Finally, Albus asked, "Will you come to the kitchens with me and have some apple cider? You must be freezing up here."
Gilbert tried to pull away, but Albus held him fast. "Come on," he said, "You're not in trouble. I just want to talk to you."
"Please don't tell Professor Slughorn!" Gilbert blurted, going tense again.
"I'm not going to tell Professor Slughorn. I'm not going to tell anyone," Albus told him, then added, "Unless you decide you want me to..." He was thinking on his feet. He had to gain the boy's trust, but not say anything he would regret later. He couldn't promise that he would take care of whatever it was that had made Gilbert so desperate he would want to jump off of the Astronomy Tower, but he did feel responsible for the boy.
Gilbert grimaced and shook his head, looking on the verge of tears again.
"That's okay, Gilbert. Will you come with me and have some apple cider?" Albus repeated the offer.
This time Gilbert nodded, and Albus let him go, his hand hovering behind Gilbert's back as he stood up. But Gilbert did not look back towards the railing. He hung his head, and they walked downstairs.
It was a long walk, but Albus didn't dare speak, in case they were found by someone else on night patrol.
However, as Gilbert stiffened up again, Albus turned and gave him an encouraging smile. It didn't put the boy totally at ease, but he relaxed a bit, and that's all that was needed.
They reached the kitchen without being discovered, and entered through the still-life portrait. Most of the house-elves were asleep, but the few closest to the portrait stirred, then jumped up to ask what they needed. Albus asked for a draught of hot apple cider for Gilbert and himself, and thanked the elves who helped them, before taking the draughts over to a table in the corner meant for private meals.
Albus carefully set the mugs down, then beckoned Gilbert to sit across from him at the table.
Albus took a sip of the sweet cinnamon cider. Before he could speak, Gilbert asked timidly, "Are you named after Albus Dumbledore?"
"Yes," Albus told him.
"And are you like him?"
Albus frowned. "What do you mean, 'like him'?"
"Are you…" Gilbert hesitated, "Are you… gay?"
Albus' heart stopped for a moment. Was this why the boy had tried to kill himself? He'd always heard of discrimination against gay people in the Muggle world, but he'd never dreamed there was such prejudice still in the Wizarding world.
"Yes. Are you? Is that why you were on the Astronomy tower?"
Gilbert nodded, his eyes sparkling with unshed tears. "People tease me…and hex me…and my parents don't love me…"
Suddenly, every horrible thing that had happened to Gilbert since coming out to his friends and family came pouring out of his mouth. It was quite a bit to take in, for Albus. He was incredibly sad that wizards and witches could ever make someone feel that bad about themselves. He was scared that he wouldn't know what to say to Gilbert. But most of all, he was angry, and determined.
"…that I'll never be happy, that I can never be happy because I'm a freak." Gilbert burst into tears.
Albus reached across the table and grasped Gilbert's hands, which were finally starting to warm up from the cider and the heat of the kitchen. "That's not true!" he said, "Don't you ever think that for one second!"
Gilbert looked up at him. "Are you happy?" he challenged Albus.
"Yes." Albus grimaced, thinking of his earlier bad mood, "Most of the time. I have friends and a family who love me, anyway. Listen, what are you doing for Christmas?"
Gilbert looked confused. "My parents… they said I should stay at Hogwarts this Christmas."
"Oh, no you don't!" said Albus, "You're coming home with me! You're meeting my family, and my friends, and you will know now and forever that people care about you."
"But…it's Christmas! It's supposed to be about family. I—I'm not—"
"Oh, yes you are!" Albus held out a hand and declared, "Welcome to the Weasley clan, Gil!"
Gilbert, bewildered, shook the hand offered to him, starting to smile. Then his face fell again. "What do I do until then? When you're not around?"
"But we will be. My friends and I are all over Hogwarts! C'mon, I'll introduce you to everyone tomorrow at dinner – find us at the Gryffindor table! We won't let anyone hurt you anymore.
"But, Gil," he said, very seriously, "If you ever again feel like you did tonight, I dare you to be happier for it. I dare you to smile. And together, we're going to make things better."
Albus crossed his heart. "I won't go to my grave until a difference is made," he said solemnly, "Now, are you ready to go to bed?"
Gilbert looked down at his empty mug. "Yeah," he said. He was still tear-stained, and the smile on his face was small, but it was real.
Full of despair inside a darkness
Self conscious and scared, held prisoner of war
Running out of air, buried in a sadness
Want a way out of this paralyzing world
"Gil!" the shout the next morning made Gilbert jump and look around fearfully. He found a red-haired Gryffindor girl bounding toward him. "My name's Lily. My brother Albus told me about you."
When the night is cold and you feel like no one knows
What it's like to be the only one buried in this hold
You can make it to the sunrise.
Gil may have been awestruck the first time he met Harry Potter, but soon he felt like one of the family. He went to sleep with a real, wide smile on his face, that night, full of Quidditch stories from Ginny and tales of Harry's childhood showing him he wasn't alone.
Searching for a way to escape the madness
A dire need for change as we fight for better days
The hurt and the pain cut deep like a razor blade
Holding in a cry for love, abandoned and afraid.
Gilbert woke on Christmas morning, and found, among the other gifts under the tree, a few hastily-wrapped presents for him. One contained a knitted sweater with a "G" on it.
When the night is cold and you feel like no one knows
What it's like to be the only one buried in this hole
You can make it to the sunrise.
Gil found a young girl on the Astronomy tower one night when he was on patrol in his seventh year. It was nowhere near the area of the castle he was responsible for, but he always checked it. He took her down to the kitchens, and dared her to live.
I won't go to my grave until a difference is made.