Shadows flitted across the dimly lit living room walls, flickering every so often in sync with the candle placed on the small table next to the large armchair facing the door. Aberforth sat stiffly in silence, willing himself not to succumb to sleep upon the velvety soft arm chair. The grandfather clock chimed, signaling that it was two in the morning. Aberforth yawned heavily and made his way up the stairs to his room.
The next day was met by the light of late morning muffled by heavy blue curtains that adorned the windows of Aberforth’s room. Groggily, Aberforth rubbed his eyes and slowly drew himself out of bed, stretching his limbs whilst doing so. He pulled open the curtains and squinted for several seconds, attempting to adjust to the sudden bright light. Choosing to turn around instead, Aberforth grabbed the closest set of suitable clothing from his ebony dresser and quickly dressed; the lateness of the morning beginning to fully sink in.
Pictures of the family adorned the otherwise blank, pale wall. The first photo that could be seen at the top of the staircase was one of Kendra and Percival Dumbledore at their wedding; both husband and wife switched from gazing into one another’s eyes lovingly and smiling at the camera. The second was a family portrait consisted of a two year old Albus being held in Kendra’s arms while Percival had his arm around her. The last was another family portrait of Kendra, Percival, Albus at six, and Aberforth at the age of three. There was an empty space at the bottom of the staircase; at one point in time that space had been filled with the most recent family portrait, in which Ariana had been only four years old. When Percival Dumbledore had been imprisoned, Kendra had gotten rid of the portrait. There had always been a sneaking suspicion that Kendra secretly blamed Ariana for the fact that her husband had been sent to Azkaban.
Good riddance, Aberforth would think, if he spent a prolonged period of time thinking of his mother’s treatment of his poor younger sister. As Aberforth quickened his pace, attempting to avoid looking at the empty space in disgust, he was met with a disconcerting sight. Seated at the small circular table in the kitchen, were Ariana, Albus, and Gellert; all of whom were drinking tea or eating biscuits.
Aberforth narrowed his eyes unwelcoming at Gellert, who was talking animatedly to Albus. “Back in Durmstrang, I had this friend who claimed he was related to Antioch Pev-” Ariana cut Grindelwald off at the sight of Aberforth, greeting him happily; relief was evident upon her face.
“Aberforth! Won’t you come and sit with us?" Ariana suggested, gesturing to the chair between her and Gellert. Aberforth nodded, but did not say anything; he chose instead to glare distrustfully at Gellert.
“Up at last, are you?” Albus said, directing Aberforth’s attention to his brother. “I believe we had just been talking about responsibility and here you are waiting until midday to wake up.”
“I was waiting for you, last night. If I remember correctly you took no initiative to let Ariana or myself know that you would be gone throughout the night.” The tension between the two brothers was thick; at last Aberforth noticed that both Gellert and Ariana were watching the two with bemused expressions. Not wanting either party to know what Albus and he had been discussing, Aberforth motioned to the back door. “Perhaps we should have a quick talk outside.”
Aberforth stood and began to walk towards the door that lead outside from the kitchen, not waiting for any consent from Albus. As he began to push open the door, Aberforth glanced behind him to see that Albus was slowly getting up out of his chair, whilst exchanging a few words with Gellert. Once outside, he welcomed the warm summer air. Albus’s light steps could be heard, drawing closer to Aberforth, who had his back to the house. Aberforth gazed at the small patch of flowers and vegetables that Kendra and Ariana would tend to often; it had begun to wilt. “What’s all this fuss that you’re starting?” Albus’s voice disrupted the silence in irritation.
Aberforth slowly turned around to face his brother, who was just barely taller than himself. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you were the one who started this by complaining about my sleeping in.”
Aberforth drew himself up to his full height as Albus took a deep breath to calm his annoyance, “A good guardian ought to wake up before their child. I came home before Ariana woke up and I took care of her breakfast.”
“Which consisted of biscuits and tea,” Aberforth snorted. “I would hardly consider that an adequate breakfast”.
Albus folded his arms angrily, and looked down at his brother. “That’s better than what she would have gotten if I hadn’t come home. She wouldn’t have had any breakfast!”
“Are you insinuating that Ari cannot make her own breakfast? She is fourteen-”
“And mentally unstable!” Albus cut him off. “Aberforth, you seem to keep forgetting that our sister is not just any other adolescent girl; she needs much more attention than you can give her. You’re only a year older.” His voice softened as Aberforth calmed slightly.
“What happened last night?” Aberforth spoke, his voice still hard but holding less rage than before.
Albus’s face furrowed in confusion, “What do you mean? Are you talking about Gellert?” Aberforth nodded in confirmation. “I just… ended up staying at Bathilda’s house longer than I intended, and she offered to let me stay the night. She made the biscuits and insisted that I take them home with me.”
“And Gellert?” Aberforth asked, mistrust still in his light blue eyes.
“I invited him over. You don’t have a problem with that, do you?”
Aberforth stepped around his brother and began to make his way back towards the house whilst saying under his breath, “No more a problem than you becoming Ari’s guardian.” Aberforth did not know whether or not Albus heard him, but if he did then he chose to ignore it.
Once inside, Aberforth noted that Ariana was the only one still seated at the kitchen table, sipping her cup of tea quietly. “Where did he go?” Discontentment was heavy in Aberforth’s tone of voice.
Ariana did not look up at her brother, but instead chose to stare transfixed at her tea. “He left,” she muttered.
“I told him that I’d meet up with him later today,” Albus said from behind Aberforth. “I had this strange feeling that neither of you found him a desirable guest. I can guess who persuaded you to dislike him, Ari.”
Ariana looked behind Aberforth, at Albus in annoyance, “I can make my own decisions about people, thank you.”
Albus did not reply, but instead chose to brush past Aberforth roughly and walk away, presumably to his own room. “Just ignore him, Ari.” Aberforth said reassuringly to his younger sister and sat down next to her, taking a bite out of one of the many biscuits sitting on a plate at the center of the table.
AN- Hmm... It's still rather short, but it's longer than the last chapter. I think we'll be getting somewhere soon. So, I had a little trouble with this chapter, meaning I'd really appreciate it if I could get some feedback from you guys. You don't know how happy it'd make me, even if it is constructive. :)
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