When he steps out of the ministry of magic and onto the cobbled old streets of London, Albus sighs. In times like these, in the aftermath of the destruction Grindelwald left behind, he wishes that magic did not exist. That the world consisted only of muggles.
He walks slowly, the buildings of London left and right are still whole, unaffected by what had happened. No muggle the wiser that wizards had fought a war in their midst.
He thinks of his sister; Ariana, the beautiful girl she had been, her smiles, when she still had wanted to learn magic. But those times are long gone. Ariana is dead, his brother denounced him and Gellert sits in the deepest cell Nurmengard could produce.
Were the world without magic, none of this would have happened. Ariana would not have been afraid of her own magic, his father would not be in Azkaban and maybe, just maybe, Gellert and him would still be dreaming about change.
But the world holds magic.
Sometimes he likes to think back to the days he spent with Gellert. The days filled with plans and dreams for the future, the days that were filled with feelings, hugs, kisses. And on those days he wishes that that softness had lasted, that he would be greeted by a loved one when he came home. But it had not.
Albus steps into a puddle left by the rain of last night. The water ripples, the sky distorted in the small waves. Dawn turns the water into a fiery orange just as he feels like the last drop of his past is drowning in flames.
They had been alike, Gellert and him. They had dreamed of revolution, had been bitter, thought their abilities wasted. Both of them had believed in the greater good and seemingly, even after his defeat as he sits in his cell in Nurmengard, Gellert still does. He admits that they wanted to be powerful and lead the wizarding world into a new age but then Ariana had happened. He still sees her face at night, twisted with anger as it had been when she had had one of her episodes, still hears her begging for them to stop followed by the abhorrent snap of her neck as she was hit.
Now, years later, he knows Aberforth had been right. Everything could have been avoided if he just had payed attention. Maybe Gellert had not been good for him. But feelings are irrational. Even if Gellert had cursed him with an unforgivable that day, even if everything shattered that day, sometimes he still yearns for what had been.
He regrets how he had been when he was young. If he had paid attention, he could have stopped it all, stopped Gellert. He could have stopped Gellert’s growing lust for power, could have stopped the destruction and its victims before it even had begun. He could have just killed Gellert that day. Or maybe he should have killed him before the blood pact when he still had a chance of coming out of it unscathed. But he did not and now he has to live with his choices.
He does not hate muggles anymore. Not to get him wrong, he still hates what those muggle children did to his sister but children can be cruel, all children can be cruel, wizard and muggle alike. He learned that during his time at Hogwarts.
The muggles had come far until now and he knows they will come up with so many more interesting things in his life time, he thinks as he enters his favorite candy shop. Muggles had invented the telephone, essentially their own floo network, just without the travel aspect. They are clever people, coming up with ways to travel wizards would never think of, with stories, with food, all those great things. Never mind the boulevard magazines hidden in a drawer in his office. He knows Minerva had seen them even though she still thinks she had been sneaky enough for him not to notice. The nosiness of cats.
He buys some bags of candy, each one different. These are the best things muggles invented: Candy. He loves muggle candies, be they orange, strawberry or lemon flavored. On days like these they are small drops of happiness he needs, small drops of sweetness in a bitter world.
He apparates from an alleyway, landing on the bridge leading up to Hogwarts' gates. Maybe the following generations would have a better future coming, a future without a war. He hopes that his students will not have to go through the same as him, hopes that they realize what they have before they lose it.
And on some days, when Albus thinks back, he still wishes magic did not exist.