: Neither the universe created by JK Rowling nor the Buffy/Angel universe created by Joss Whedon belong to me. Also, there are a handful of direct quotes in this story taken out of context and corrupted to suit my own purposes, as are the characters. Summary
: “I saw you coming, my lovely. The moon showed me. It told me to come into the twentieth century…will you come with me?” New Year’s Eve 1899—Drusilla finds Albus Dumbledore in a pub. Author’s Note
: I apologize for how out of place/time, some of the expressions I use in the dialogue probably are. I was born more than a century after Dumbledore, and on a different continent (and I’m too lazy to research), so I just wrote whatever idioms/slang I felt like using. Also, this is part of Challenge 5598, if anyone is interested.
Albus Dumbledore? The kid who’s skills with a wand
my aunt Marshybum hasn’t shut her gob about since 1897? Go on then—tell us something mind-numbingly intelligent to copy down for future generations.”
Albus took a moment to give the request the serious consideration it was due.
“Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!" he proclaimed, after the moment had passed.
“Ooh! Hear that, Ed? A right genius, this one. You’ve got to be a genius to be that level of insane. Merlin, look at him, grinning like he’s just solved world hunger.”
“Oh, give the lad a break, would ya? He’s obviously three sheets to the wind—”
“Exactly my point! Ed, talented youngster or not, he’s got dodgy kit. He could go on some drunken murdering rampage, s’all I’m saying—”
“Silence!” A slender, dark haired young woman shouted in an authoritative voice, hands on hips. Everyone in the room obeyed—perhaps on account of her imperious bearing—and waited expectantly.
“The Knight of Pentacles mourns the loss of his page. His banquet’s been spoilt, poisoned
,” she announced, with a distressed moan. And with that, everyone turned back to their own business, except one man…
“Well, that’s just wonderful, innit? Another for the loonies! Must be related; madness runs in his family, you know. I heard…”
Albus tuned the rude man out, and stared into his seventh shot of firewhiskey. He harbored no desire to listen to what complete strangers were saying about his family these days; he had come here to forget, after all. Was that too much to ask, to be allowed the peace of oblivion for just one night?
“Such pretty fire,” the strange brunette woman breathed into his ear, bringing him out of his thoughts once again. She was standing very close—too close, not that he was in any state to care at the moment—and staring at him as if the mere sight of his face dazzled her.
It occurred to him that the woman was rather dazzling herself; there was something mesmerizing—penetrating—about her eyes. Not that he fancied female eyes; or any other part of the female anatomy, for that matter, even if it could be described as ‘penetrating’…...if I did, Ariana might still be alive...
“I saw you coming, my lovely. The moon showed me. It told me to come into the twentieth century…will you come with me?”
Albus smiled at her and allowed himself to be guided to a more secluded table, vaguely registering a mutter of “damn seers” as they passed the booths. He liked the way she talked.
The cadence felt…familiar; maybe it was because she reminded him so much of Ariana, his beautiful, fragile baby sister…albeit with dark hair like his mother’s and an age that, by her appearance, was closer to his own…but he felt comfortable with her—at home—in a way he had not felt since before his mother’s death.
Once the two of them were safely ensconced in a corner, the woman leaned close to him again, and murmured, “Don’t mind them—they’ve no eye for embers. But I see you, dear heart; the flames flicker around you, sparks frolicking like fairies.”
“Do they?” He felt nothing but idle curiosity and slight giddiness at the odd observation; the image she presented cheered him.
“Oh yes, my flame. ‘Tis a marvel they’ve yet to consume you. But the tears will come.”
The giddiness died. As did any curiosity. He did not want to hear this.
“Tears have already come.”
“Not these—these will come with a song. You deserve them, you know.”
Oh, yes, he knew, although he wished he didn’t. He deserved tears, he deserved his brother’s hatred and the world’s suspicion—What have I done?
His mind shouted and then observed with irony that he was too much of a coward to even face Gellert because he so feared being able to answer that question with finality…
“…run and catch, run and catch, the lamb is caught in the blackberry patch…”
The voice was soft, but the words startled him. He knew that song…
“Where did you learn that?”
He had always assumed his mother made that song up—none of his friends knew it, and he had never found a reference to it anywhere, not that he’d looked particularly hard. Why would he bother? It was just a song, and it made sense that no one had heard it; his mother was muggleborn, after all…
“Mummy sang it to us…it was Daddy’s favorite.”
“So did mine…I mean, my mother…”
He looked at her, again noticing how much she resembled both his mother and his sister. Yes, his mother had been a muggleborn, and all her relatives in Romania had died over a year ago, but she had distant relatives in England too; she had lost touch with them years ago, when he was a small child, but surely some of them were still alive. Could it be possible…?
“Would you tell me about your family?”
She did not hesitate.
“They used to eat cake, and eggs, and honey, until Daddy came and ripped their throats out.”
The grisly turn in the conversation likely would have given an average eighteen year old pause, but Albus, being exceptionally above average and more than slightly drunk, was undeterred.
“Your father was a violent man, too? Mine attacked three teenagers, once—though he refrained from doing any permanent damage…physically, at least. But I wish he had
ripped their throats out; there was so much screaming
He had never told anyone that before, never confided anything about the day of his father’s arrest, and definitely never vocalized anything so violent. He was rather surprised at how easy it was to say, and how much better he felt afterwards.
“Oh, yes, so much screaming, such succulent screaming: sweet as a serenade, my sisters’ screams...”
It was then Albus knew that the woman beside him was even more like Ariana than he had already guessed—that she was both damaged and dangerous—but instead of stopping his confession, it spurred him on. He told her of the frenzy and confusion of the day that forever altered his life, acts of violence upon violence: his mother crying, angry and afraid; his father stalking out of the house in a silent fury; his ten year old self, following in his father’s wake, wondering what had happened; watching his father torture boys who, young Albus noted, were only a few years older than himself; being scared of his own father for the first time in his life and just standing there, numb, as the aurors and healers and reporters arrived; being escorted home by an auror and then seeing bloody bandages on the kitchen table…
“…I found out later that they—that they—that she was raped
He’d never spoken that word before: not in reference to his sister; not in reference to anyone. The unpleasantness of it hung in the air over their table, evoking an inner reaction similar to how he felt upon leaving Azkaban, after the yearly visit to his father.I am my own personal dementor
, his mind mused humorlessly. Escape really is futile.
“I know,” the woman cooed. “Miss Edith cried for her, as Miss Edith cries for me…she clings to the past, so that I can attend to the future. But you must encompass both.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“The stars like you. They say you sing to them. And they sing to me.”
The two of them sat together for a while longer, humming in harmony, until Albus discovered he was in danger of passing out in public, and decided to head home to do so in private. “It was a pleasure to meet you,” he told his companion, and found that he meant it. As he stumbled to his feet, Drusilla favored him with a smile.
“Farewell, my flame. The tears will sing to you soon enough, and your heart will rise from the ashes.”
Her eyes followed him to the exit; then she sashayed back to the bar and spoke to the patron who had been badgering Albus before her arrival.
“You were right about the rampage, dearie. But it’s you who will be drunk.”
When the aurors came to question Albus the next day about a deranged vampire massacring an entire pub (explaining that he had been seen exiting the pub mere minutes before the atrocity occurred), he could only weakly insist that he barely remembered anything of the previous night, but he had woken up with the taste of firewhiskey in his mouth, humming a muggle lullaby he had not sung in years, and recalling a fading dream about flaming fairies...