Oh gosh.... I love a well-written Albus/Gellert, and it is so hard to find one, at times. Thank you, thank you so much.
Nice work, especially the line: “I would die for this glorious madness.”
This was a very intriguing story, although initially I was slightly put off by you feeling it was necessary to tell us it was from Grindelwald’s POV. Your writing is good enough for us to realise that, if not straight away, pretty soon, particularly since you have given him such a strong Tom Riddle-esque but nevertheless distinctive voice. This is apparent from the It was crucial to be in her good books given the circumstances of my expulsion and the unfavourable situation at home. comment, as does his sarcasm in all wide-eyed and heartbreakingly sincere. . It’s very Machiavellian, seeing politeness as a method of manipulation rather than a common courtesy, as well as using sarcasm to entertain oneself whilst being subtle enough that the person you’re using to doesn’t notice. One thing I did wonder- Bathilda is an old woman in Harry’s day. Therefore I doubt she’d be an old woman in Grindelwald/ Dumbledore’s day- unless you mean Grindelwald’s great aunt is an ancestor of Bathilda Bagshot.
When you say “My father had passed out from Hogwarts” - I think you mean “finished Hogwarts”- passed out means losing consciousness.
I do like your description of how Grindelwald’s parents met. It is very romantic, possibly too romantic to have actually happened quite like that, but I think there is this quite English trait of wanting to fall in love with another country, which your sentence No man had ever sung the Himnusz, our anthem, with more passion and conviction than my late father. describes very well.
I love how grandiose and yet how very schoolboy his dreams are, all the more scary because we know that he, to some extent, accomplishes at least his dream of controlling Europe. I like the idea of Hungarian nationalism- nationalism is always very interesting, particularly within a Wizarding context as the view of the Wizarding world is quite insular although in the Muggle world Britain has always been more insular than countries on the continent.
I think there’s something very insightful about this paragraph: Five years ago, soldiers passing through the town had shown me how to gun down game. I had not liked the smoke or the blood a gun caused, so messy, but I had very much liked the sound of the report. It had scared away the birds and sent a shiver down even the hardiest man’s spine. Killing did not give one power over others, but fear did. And the gun’s report had stirred fear. It’s very specific and very precise.
I liked the parallelism between Grindelwald’s father going to a foreign land and falling in love with blue eyes and Grindelwald first noticing that Dumbledore had “the bluest eyes I had ever seen.” However when Grindelwald says “The teller’s blood in her had shown her broken cradles” I’m not sure what you mean. I mean it’s obviously a soothsaying method but it sounds intriguing and you don’t really expand on it. I’m not sure about your use of Islanders as a word for the English/ British. Do Hungarians call Brits that (out of interest are you Hungarian/ do you have Hungarian relatives?)? If they do then that’s my ignorance, but given there are islands geographically closer and, I’d guess, of more socio-economic/ political importance to Eastern Europe than Britain (which is a garbled way of saying there would be closer islands which Hungarians might refer to).
I liked your characterisation of Albus, particularly your descriptions of him as “Shy, then. How could someone so talented and aware of power be so shy?” which says as much about Grindelwald as it does about Dumbledore, as well as Albus, after not exactly punishing his brother’s bully, worrying if he’d done the right thing. I did like the reference to lemon drops :)
I think it’s an interesting characterisation of Albus as a “cynical soldier” because people caring for an invalid would feel like that. Albus opening up to Gellert was really well done. I did, however, love the way you had the balance between them and their exchange of influence, such as “However, I believe that fighting and dying in the name of borders someone else has made is idiotic” and ““I would die for this glorious madness.” as well as the subtle slide from a conversation between friends to the kiss.
At times this story does read slightly disjointedly. I know this is essentially snatched moments, and the way you refer to Gellert’s past is clever, but it does come across as disjointed. Nevertheless there are moments, such as the earlier part I quoted about the gun and killing and fear. But the moment of Albus and Gellert kissing was brilliant. It was by far my favourite part of the story. There was something about this boy, who you’d built up as powerful and intelligent being rendered utterly vulnerable by his love for Albus. That moment was very beautiful as was the powerful scene where Albus tells Gellert to leave, and his desperation for Gellert was just as clear as Gellert’s for Albus. I liked Gellert and Aberforth’s decision not to tell Albus, and yet the comment “His eyes turned bleak. Then he graced me with a weak, crooked smile and said quietly, “What right have I to avenge Ariana?” implies Albus knew he had done it. Albus kissing Gellert’s fingers was a beautiful gesture as well.
I’m intrigued that Gellert knew that Albus had died. Somehow I don’t think he would have. I do think Gellert’s view of their relationship is incorrect- it was more than patriotism that bound them together. I also think that the image comparing Gellert when faced with Voldemort and Ariana is slightly off, or at least needs more development. Ariana was completely helpless- and he is not helpless- as he points out he’s grown up and acknowledged his errors which Voldemort can not do. Like I said, I think this story is good but there are moments which are just okay and moments which are brilliant such as ”Voldemort knew nothing of the agony of two sets of fingers seeking each other through iron bars. He knew nothing of crooked, half-shy smiles and easy surrender and falling endlessly with another into that vibrant land of pain and belonging which the wise men called love”. I think you could expand on the conflict between their ideals, their love and Albus’ family more, but it’s still a good story with moments of genuine emotion and beauty. Alex.
Author's Response: Hello, Alex! Thank you for writing to me about the story! It's much appreciated. The interesting thing about the turn of the century politics during the time was the rise of the socio-political movements in different parts of the world. Grindelwald, young and passionate, would have been surrounded by nationalists whatever country on the Continent he had been born in. Britain itself was mostly insular, as you said, but to other nations that were dependent on/ruled by the Commonwealth Empire, which was the largest empire in modern history, anything that happened in Britain was important news. In my part of the world, yes, the term Islanders is commonly used among the older generation (Pre-WWII) to refer to the natives of UK. The hold of the Commonwealth Empire was still strong, it had tremendous influence during the time, and I daresay this is why they referred to this country in this manner despite there being other islands nearby. The term pass out - I admit that I'm in a quandary here. I thought it was officially used to mark the successful completion of a course/training. [http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/pass-out/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pass_out_(disambiguation)] I've seen the term used in formal correspondence in academia too, now that I think of it. Perhaps it is a regional quirk and not proper usage. I'll look into it. My knowledge of Hungary is entirely limited to the theatre. I wouldn't dare expand more on the subject of their conflicting ideals or their love though the ideas seem very intriguing. Writing them once was hard enough. Thank you again for writing to me about the story!
so sad but so beautiful... the part where gellert "surrenders" rather than allow the elder wand kill albus was so poignant and heartbreaking. i'm not typically a fan of same-sex pairing, but i think you just converted me there.
Author's Response: Hello again! I'm very happy to hear from you again. I hadn't intended to do a conversion, my apologies, but isn't it a grand thing to hear anyway? I'm thrilled! Very glad to hear that you liked the story and the part where Gellert surrenders is one of my favourites too.