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31 October 2008 @ 08:49 pm
A fic for you  

So, I have finished it. You can read it as a Halloween fic if you like, though it was originally not intended as such. The topic is kind of related, in any case.

Title: Mere Mortals
Pairing: Albus/Gellert
Rating: PG (maybe PG-13?) SFW
Word Count: ~1 300
Summary: Albus and Gellert have a discussion of immortality, but some things have unexpected repercussions.
Warnings: The theme of death, in case it wasn't obvious. Also, ancient Greeks and Romans. (It's not just implied Hadrian as I thought - more like implied Roman emperors. But you can leave me to my little preoccupation and just overlook those.)
Notes: We know both Albus and Gellert planned to master death once upon a time, but did they always agree on that count? This fic explores one of the possibilities. First part set early in their relationship.
Disclaimer: JKR's the creator. I own nothing and make no profit.


Mere Mortals


Yet another evening hunched over books, whispering tentative incantations, Gellert’s hair falling together with his, the shadows on yellowed paper flickering. The atmosphere of invoking ancient spells could be sacred, but it is summer and the air is heavy with heat, making the mood the perfect opposite of solemn Muggle cathedrals. Gellert’s breath ghosts over Albus’s face every now and then—and every time their eyes meet, the world tilts off its proper axis. Then they both return to the page, muttering softly each to himself, muttering together.

Tonight, Gellert’s hands are especially restless as they crawl over the table, the scattered notes, smooth out Gellert’s shirt, or idly twirl strands of his hair around one finger after another. Albus is on edge from the constant motion (more so than usual, that is—for whatever reason Gellert makes him feel both uncomfortable and achingly exhilarated), but he would be loath to say he minds. Just like he will not complain that their chairs are bumping into each other every other minute, making him wonder when he might find himself on the floor. And, again, he does not mind.

“Albus,” his friend addresses him finally, breaking their shared murmur of contemplation. “Your mind is elsewhere, I can tell.”

Albus is so taken aback that he simply stares before he manages to say anything. “Of course not. I was just going to say we had better—”

“Oh, come off it,” Gellert waves his hand. “If you were really working, you would already be suggesting something. You’re not paying attention to the books. You are paying attention to me.”

That is bold. “Why would I—what do you mean?”

“Never mind.” And now Gellert is smirking, but Albus is too annoyed with him to notice. They remain silent for a while, before Albus speaks up once more.

“I was going to ask you, in fact. Why do we need to be immortal? Why don’t we simply establish our rule and see to it that it is passed on?”

As soon as the question leaves him, he can sense Gellert’s impatience—no, annoyance. They have gone through the plan before, but much as Albus covets the Resurrection Stone, he cannot imagine living forever. Would it be even worth the trouble? Would he want to hover around for eternity, without a hope of rest at the end of it? Although, he has to admit, there would hardly be any end.

“Listen,” Gellert starts, visibly cautious and prepared to press his point. “Being immortal makes our plan perfect. For as long as we can be disposed of, as long as everything we’ve worked to accomplish can decay without us, how can we say we truly succeeded? Albus, don’t you see? All the empires that came to flourish under one man, only to be ruined by the next. Time is the last enemy we will need to conquer,” (he breathes out the word, softly, greedily) “and we will.”

It is a good argument, but Albus is not convinced. Rationally, he is—but there is something else, something that baffles and upsets him. He is sure that Gellert knows as well as he himself.

“Well, consider this.” Gellert’s eyes are alight, and it’s the kind of illumination Albus has only seen when they come up with a theory of particular ingenuity. “Point out one situation,” Gellert continues, “one situation when it is more advantageous to be mortal.”

There is no hesitation on Albus’s part this time. He says, “When your loved ones are.”

Interestingly enough, Gellert smiles victoriously, and it is a smile of such magnitude that Albus cannot shake off its image long after Gellert has resumed speaking. “But this is precisely what we can set right! You will always be able to bring them back. Not only once as you’ve imagined,” (here, Albus instinctively stiffens, wondering how Gellert could have guessed something he had never outright mentioned) “but as many times as you want if the effect of the Stone turns out to be temporary. We only need to find out how often, if necessary, the process needs repeating. We can test it out on others if you prefer.”

“Others?”

“Criminals, prisoners, whoever,” Gellert replies promptly, but Albus flashes him such a look that he refrains from elaborating. “At any rate, my friend, giving up our well-earned immortality is something we should not be so concerned about.” He fixes Albus with his gaze again, unrelenting, challenging. “Not now, at the very least.”

As always in such situations, Albus sees it best not to argue. Nevertheless, he is almost persuaded. He will give the matter some independent thought, over and over in the years to come, and act on his own conscience first of all. Gellert does have a point, though; he must give him that. “We’re not there yet.”

“No.” Eye contact again, more intense each time it occurs. “But we need not dwell on death. Death is only fear,” he looks at Albus pensively, “and fear is ignorance.” He clasps Albus’s hand.

Albus has a hard time willing his body not to shake. The mere fact that he is so quiet this evening, more of a listener than a speaker of equal potential, is strange in itself. But once again, Gellert has a point.

“The ancient Greeks had a ritual of death,” Gellert whispers, inching closer, but not close enough for Albus to really feel him yet.

“Yes, the Eleusinian Mysteries. I know.” It is hard to resist the image, or at least his own interpretation of the ritual, seeing as whatever transpired there was traditionally kept private by its participants. All the same, Albus can see it, has read about it and has wondered—even emperors bowing before death, embracing it, ruling it. It is a pity not to know what exactly took place. Like so many remarkable people, the first-hand witnesses are history, as unfathomable as can be to his time. Who can bring clarity now that they are gone, and with them their entire world?

Gellert does indeed have a point.

But Albus is aware of another element: the fear. Or humility, come to think of it. He can tell Gellert is transfixed with him now; he uses that to raise the objection, although it pains him to do so, “Gellert, we’re no Greeks.”

“Isn’t that sad, though,” Gellert counters, not even bothering to make it an inquiry. “But our way will be different.”

A different way, the Hallows—yes, it would be. Will be, if only they try hard enough. For the moment, Albus is at a loss for words, and he kisses Gellert’s lips in pious concession. They both must have known it would come to this.

Gellert leans in and grips Albus’s hand tighter.

*


Albus is staring out the window, staring off into space. Every now and then the glass is hit by tumbling leaves—red, orange, yellow, all of them entirely too bright for his mood. He cracks the window open for good measure, although it is evening and the current temperature is barely tolerable. The house is just too quiet with only him and Aberforth in it.

There he was, flirting with the thought of mastering death, and look what a result it has led to. The coldness outside is too appropriate. He is alone, more so than he has ever been, and he is guilty. It matters none whose spell dealt the killing blow; it is enough that he had allowed the original argument to escalate into a duel that could only spin out of control. With Ariana joining his family’s dead, Aberforth not speaking to him, and Gellert gone—Albus physically winces at the summary—it is no wonder the chill becomes him.

When your loved ones are mortal. Or, perhaps, when love itself is.

The idea of living forever with such knowledge makes him shudder, something even the enshrouding cold has until now failed to do. At the end of the day, Albus decides, there really is something to be said for being mortal.

 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
 
rising_lark: Grindeldorerising_lark on October 31st, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love the present tense! This is so good, and you can literally feel the tension between the two of them, and also between the two halves of Albus's personality: one that is enthralled with Gellert and the other that is his conscience. And I love that he's not entirely in Gellert's power after all, that he can shut him up with one fierce look. And the ending is just heartbreaking. <3
See you later, instigator: Albus/Gellert (by ushitora_icons)oudeteron on October 31st, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC)
Present tense is my pet. XD I'm so glad you picked up on the tension there - it's what I suppose must have been at play one time or another. I can imagine Albus being torn until he gave in completely... which wouldn't be so bad (for him) if Gellert had stayed. But I've always seen them as equal, so the look had to be there. Anyway, thank you!
Melmo: Forty-Line Staremustntgetmy on November 1st, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
I know you've written three entries today, but you'll have to forgive me for only reading one of them.

I really love the atmosphere you've put into the two scenes of this. The intimate scene with the books and Gellert's powerful speech, and then Albus's contemplation among the leaves - both very well executed. Gellert is really stand out in this fic, you can really see how he weaves himself around Albus, bending him to his ideals. Excellent, excellent fic!
See you later, instigator: Oscar Wilde (by plastic_clown)oudeteron on November 1st, 2008 09:59 am (UTC)
Forgive? I'm surprised no one's running away screaming yet.

I'm glad you picked up on the atmosphere! That is really the main contrast in this, even though it's no that long in terms of actual time. I'm relieved Gellert doesn't come off as too aggressive (but then again, he must have been persuasive to act like this). Thanks for your comment!
Melmo: Torresmustntgetmy on November 2nd, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
Normally I'd read all of them but I really need to make time to write a fifteen page paper on how the Cold War effected ride technology *sweatdrop*

Yeah, I figured canon-wise you couldn't really have it be that much time in between the wo scenes. There's also a definite seduction to Gellert's persuasion, which is of course necessary in an Albus/Gellert fic. Not at all!
See you later, instigator: Oscar Wilde (by plastic_clown)oudeteron on November 2nd, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
Hey, I really wouldn't want to sabotage your work!

I guess not, and autumn fit the second scene nicely. A cold evening makes a good contrast, at any rate. And yeah, seduction is Gellert's middle name. XD
Melmo: you know it's truemustntgetmy on November 2nd, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
I appreciate it :)

I really loved that autumn scene, especially since we were indoors for the first one. SRSLY! Gellert Seduction Grindelwald!
See you later, instigator: YTMT - kiss (by hyelle_narmo)oudeteron on November 2nd, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
^_^

That may be my bias showing through - summer heat gets to me even without being outside, but autumn? Must show it off! XD And it's Gellert Seduction Grindelwald, PhD, Dark Lord Extraordinaire. Um, sorry, it's late.
Melmo: all that skymustntgetmy on November 2nd, 2008 12:35 am (UTC)
Autumn is also perfect for its symbolism for the loss of Gellert and Ariana. BAHAHAHA. No problem, because that is pure pwnage.
See you later, instigator: Bad Education2oudeteron on November 2nd, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
Aw, yes. Or for finished business in general.
WHY THANK YOU. XD
Melmo: also known as the Maraudersmustntgetmy on November 2nd, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
Very true.
:DD
remeciel: Sirius Tattooremeciel on November 2nd, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
You’re not paying attention to the books. You are paying attention to me.”
That is bold.
This moment was indeed priceless. I love the natural flow of their dialogues, and Albus's inner thoughts - the very end of the fic is a very relevant reminding of the title. Oh, and I think I learnt two or three new words (I have no idea what enshrouding means in the first place. ;)

Actually, I'm more and more looking forward to the day you will be willing to write an NC-17 fic featuring Albus and Gellert. With your writing style now, I bet it's going to be wonderful.
See you later, instigator: YTMT - kiss (by hyelle_narmo)oudeteron on November 2nd, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
I'm always paranoid about dialogue, so I'm happy it worked for you here! Glad you liked the end. About the new words... um, didn't mean to show off. (The cold is just all around. XD)

It's not that I'm not willing - I'm just worried about making NC-17 rated stuff repetitive at the moment. Unlike with the R rating (which probably suits me best for sex scenes), here it's kind of expected for certain bits to show up, and I don't want to make it too mechanical. That's all there is to it, really. *facepalm*
remecielremeciel on November 2nd, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
Funny, isn't it - I've always been more at ease with writing dialogues when I was still a high-school student, and the narrative form is what I actually feared to write.

You're right. This is why I highly dislike what I drew for the 1st sex scene between Remus and Sirius the RS comic strip. Too much NC-17. Too many mistakes. I would have rather a lower rating; I'll carefully avoid anything that would be too repetitive.
See you later, instigator: Oscar Wilde (by plastic_clown)oudeteron on November 2nd, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Seems like we're exact opposites, even without the high school. XD

Wait, I don't recall what was so wrong with that part! Anyway, it could get repetitive now, but that was just the first scene. It shouldn't be that bad!
remecielremeciel on November 2nd, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
It's me being too pefectionnist again, I suppose. *g*
But I have such a great idea for the next sex scene that the 1st one seems obsolete for me.
See you later, instigator: Bad Education1 (by greeniefru)oudeteron on November 2nd, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC)
I can relate. XD
Ooh, do you now? I'm curious to see it!
Miss M.miss_morland on November 3rd, 2008 10:01 am (UTC)
Time is the last enemy we will need to conquer,” (he breathes out the word, softly, greedily) “and we will.”

This is so heartbreakingly ironic in light of the "Death is the last enemy" quote from the book... Lovely fic; I especially like how the last paragraphs tie everything together.
Miss M.miss_morland on November 3rd, 2008 10:03 am (UTC)
(On a lighter side note, I misread the cut as "Gellert, we are no geeks", which made me lol...")
See you later, instigator: Remus/Sirius Canon (by snow_blossoms)oudeteron on November 3rd, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Bwahaha. BUT THEY ARE! XD
Miss M.miss_morland on November 3rd, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
THEY SO ARE. (Which is one of the reasons why it's so funny.:-D)
See you later, instigator: YoshikiLoveoudeteron on November 3rd, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you picked up on that! I just think Gellert didn't have such an issue with death after all. Time would be far more limiting for him.