November 13th, 1891
“Do you know where your father went last night?” the questioner asked. He was a tall man with thinning blonde hair and a stern, serious face. Albus forced himself not to fidget.
“No,” he lied.
“Did you hear him leave?”
“Did he speak with you beforehand? Tell you anything about where or why he was going?” the interrogator continued.
Albus felt claustrophobic even in the spacious, empty room. Every breath seemed labored, yet he kept an appearance of calm. Albus was practicing to become an expert liar, even at such a young age. “No,” he replied. Albus let a hint of worry into his voice, trying to sound like the confused and ignorant child he was supposed to be. “Why? Why do you want to know about my father?”
The man considered him over horn-rimmed glasses. “You do not know what he has done?”
Albus shook his head.
“Your father attacked three muggle boys. He broke the law. Do you have any idea why he would do this?”
“No.” Answering with the truth would mean Ariana would be sent away, Albus’s mother had told him. They had to lie, for her. All of this for her. Even though it was because of her.
“Your father never expressed any violent tendencies?”
Albus managed not to flinch. “No.”
The man nodded and marked something down on a notepad. “Very well, thank you for being honest. Are your brother and sister available for questioning?”
Albus didn’t need to be told that it wasn’t a good idea for either of them to be put on the spot. Aberforth was a little too candid and Ariana was... well, Ariana. “I think my sister’s sleeping and my brother is pretty shaken up. Both of them are probably too young to understand what you are asking anyway,” he said.
The questioner’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I generally like to talk to every member of the family to make sure their stories match up. Sometimes the young ones are the most honest.”
Albus stood. “Please, sir. They are confused as it is. I’d... well, if you understand, I would rather like to not have to explain to them exactly what happened.” Albus laid it on thick. He looked at the older man pleadingly, trying his best to sound convincing. He was rather good at it.
After a hesitation, the man softened. “Alright. But if they mention anything, or think of anything, be sure to report it.”
Albus nodded quickly. “I will, sir!” he chirped obediently.
He moved for the door, passing into they foyer. Kendra stood up from her chair, looking anxious. The official nodded to her. “Best wishes, ma’m. The trial will take place on November 27th.”
Kendra nodded. “Thank you. Here, let me see you out...”
By the time she had returned, Albus had composed himself. His hands had stopped shaking from the concentration and stress of lying.
“What did he ask?” his mother inquired.
“Everything we expected him to,” Albus replied. “I convinced him not to talk to Aberforth and Ariana.”
Kendra’s eyes watered as she smiled, overwhelmed with emotion. “Oh, Albus, you are such a good son. With your father gone...” she choked up.
“Don’t worry, mother,” Albus replied comfortingly. “It will be fine.”
November 28th, 1891
Everything was regrettably not fine. Kendra sat at the kitchen table, eyes red and puffy from the tears. When she had returned the night before, it was easy enough to see that things hadn’t gone very well. Albus’s mother had been in no state to talk then, but now Albus broached the topic.
“What did they decide?” he asked.
Kendra dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief. “He was sentenced,” her voice broke, “to life in Azkaban.”
This news brought on a whole new round of tears. Albus took the news with a cold detachment. After seeing his father that night... Well, he couldn’t help but wonder whether or not he deserved it. Albus’s mother took his lack of emotion differently. She smiled fondly.
“Oh, bless you, you are too young to understand. In time, Albus...” she trailed off. “Go get your brother and sister and tell them to pack.”
“Pack?” Albus asked.
Kendra nodded. “We’re moving. My sister has found us a place nice and far away. Hopefully a good ways from this scandal.”
Albus’s heart dropped. He was supposed to start school the next year. “I’ll still be going to Hogwarts, right?”
She nodded absently. “Oh, yes. Now go pack.”
Albus headed up the stairs to find his brother and sister. He found Aberforth in his room, staring out the window. “We are moving, Aberforth. Mother wants you to pack.”
Aberforth didn’t reply for a moment. “This is because of Ariana, isn’t it?”
His brother turned around, a look in his eyes that went far past his meager years. “You blame her, don’t you?”
Slowly, Albus nodded.
“It’s not her fault!” Aberforth insisted. “She didn’t ask for this!”
“If she had listened to me when I told her to come inside-”
“She’s a child, Albus!”
“So are you!” Albus shouted in return.
Aberforth quieted and stared at his brother. Albus knew that was almost unfair to say, what with he himself being only ten years old, but he felt far more mature than his years. He had always felt that way. Reading at age four, writing not long after. He had always been ahead of the other kids. Always been superior. He may be young in years, but he was much wiser than he looked.
“It’s not her fault,” Aberforth said again, quieter. “She’s really sad about it. About everything.”
Albus didn’t reply. He couldn’t help but think that she was responsible for this entire situation. For making them move. For putting their father in prison. For ruining their lives. For putting the family in danger. For hurting those muggles, however inadvertently.
“Fine, then. You go help her pack. I will be in my room.”
Aberforth didn’t reply as Albus walked from the room to his own. He shut the door with a bang and sank to the floor, dropping his head in his hands. He blamed everyone right then. He blamed Ariana for starting this whole thing, his father for making it worse. He blamed Aberforth for defending them, and his mother for being too weak to do anything to help them. He blamed himself for not forcing Ariana back to the house and blamed the muggles for hurting her like they did.
Letting all his bottled up emotions loose, Albus sobbed unashamedly. He hated his life. He hated this scandal. He hated how everyone looked at him suspiciously when he’d walk to the store for milk. Albus hated his family, and himself. Perhaps by moving he could start over. Yes, a clean slate. That sounded nice.
Standing, Albus pulled his trunk out from his closet and began throwing clothes in haphazardly, tears still streaming down his face. When he’d emptied a whole drawer, he stopped and looked at the mess. This wasn’t him. Albus was neat, orderly. He would never shove clothes in a trunk with such chaos. What was he doing?
Almost in a daze, Albus took each piece of clothing out, folded it, and stacked it on the bed. When he had several neat rows, he moved them back to the trunk, placing them in the most strategic pattern so as to fit as many clothes as he could. This was Albus. Organized, proper, and most importantly - in control. Albus was in control. He thought back to that vow he made on the night of his father’s crime.
“I am in control,” Albus muttered to himself. He repeated, over and over, “I am in control.”
Albus started on the next drawer, keeping everything carefully folded. After finishing with his clothes, Albus moved on to other things. He wrapped and packed trinkets and baubles until he came to something strikingly familiar, yet oddly distant. It was a pair of cufflinks, large, gaudy, and engraved with the family crest. Percival had given them to Albus, saying that they had been passed down for five generations to the eldest son. It was supposed to be an honor to wear them and represent the family. Albus turned them over in his hand. He didn’t feel honored.
Looking from the cufflinks to the trunk and back, Albus frowned. He could take them. They were small, meaning they took up hardly any space. He could give them Aberforth, despite the breaking of tradition. Yet somehow, Albus didn’t feel right about doing that. He felt betrayed by his father, who trusted with so much. With far too much. Why had he taken him that night, scarred him for life? To prove a point about sticking up for family. If that was what family meant to the Dumbledore’s, Albus wasn’t having it. He casually tossed the links into the garbage, turning away without a second thought.
He was in control now.