Dumbledore stares at the photos that lie strewn on his desk. They are of two handsome, smiling, bright looking young boys, both dressed in Hogwarts robes. One of them, though, has a dull light in his eyes that Dumbledore cannot ignore. The other is still happy, still fresh looking.
He sighs and picks them up, studying each closely.
They are muggle photos, unlike every other portrait that sits in his office. They are special. For when they are not moving, he can see the similarities, and he can see them as if they are screaming and crying and running around him. They are one and the same, exactly the same, and yet, they are two different boys. They are so very similar and so very far apart.
Dumbledore rests his head in his hands as his eyes flicker from Tom Riddle to Gellert Grindelwald.
What had he done wrong? He could have saved Tom, he knew that. If only he had reached out, offered a hand. Even surrendering him to Azkaban would have been better than the horror he now created! He knew, he always knew, and yet, he did nothing about it. It's his fault.
And as for Gellert, he doesn’t know where to begin. In the photo, the young wizard’s eyes are handsome and full of happiness and content. He stands straight and tall, obviously proud, his wand drawn slightly. His hair is slicked back, his skin tan and smooth, and his smile wide and full of energy.
What had happened to the young Gryffindor, who looked so effortlessly handsome and humorous and smart? When had he left the angels and become a devil?
Dumbledore can’t ignore it- he never has, not really- but when he remembers the feeling that had coursed through his veins when he talked to his friend, the smile that came so naturally when the two laid eyes on one another, the intense passion that the two had shared……
He loves him. Still, to this day, Dumbledore realizes he has never forgotten, nor given up on, the Gryffindor he so admired. He knows that there was a point when Gellert had other plans, and didn’t tell the one that was considered his closest friend, but God, it was worth it. It was worth the pain and the horrors just for the spare blissful years.
He doesn’t want to say the words, because he knows they aren’t to be spoken. Even through the devastation, the crime, the hatred, the battles, and the sadness the rests within, a part of him still needs and loves and wants the innocent man. The one that he met on his first day at Hogwarts. The one who accompanied him on his first great adventure.
There is hate, oh yes, but there is also love.
“Oh, Gellert,” Dumbledore whispers, sitting back down on his chair, the photo almost touching the tip of his crooked nose, “what did you do? Where did it go wrong?”
Tears want to fall from Dumbledore’s distant blue eyes, but he pushes them back. It has been so long since he has cried.
He doesn’t want to give in. Not into the trap the Gellert Grindelwald so cleverly laid.
He brings his chapped lips close to the picture and slowly presses them down onto the face of the man he loved and despised.
“Why?” He asks one last time, his voice soaked with sadness.
He remembers when Gellert was his chain to the dock when the waters were rough. He remembers that Gellert was his soul and his heart combined. He remembers the crazy years the two shared, together.
He tucks the photo away, his sad eyes gazing at the other’s a final time before he walks away.
He doesn't need the picture.
He can remember the beautiful devil in his mind, and the young wizard burning in hell can most certainly recall the every feature of his effervescent angel.