Arriving back at the front gates of Nurmengard felt like breaking through the surface of an ocean of sound. Vienna had been so loud, Albus was still shocked how used he had become to silence. First in Gellert's pretty little house in Vienna which wasn't safe anymore due to the trace of the metal bands that first time, afterwards Prague with its golden glow that somehow swallowed all noises, then being kidnapped, the cell. Nurmengard was by far the most comfortable of those silent places.
It clung to the mountain side as no castle built without magic would have ever been able to, its pointy turrets, ragged roofs and walls adorned with something akin to battlements giving it the look of a much older castle. It was the manifestation of Gellert's complicated, beautiful soul.
They walked up the pathway to the front portal embedded in an outer wall hand in hand, silent, but slightly smiling, both of them. Albus simply didn't know where to start. He wanted to try and recite one of Tchaikovsky's masterpieces on a piano despite the fact that he hadn't touched one since that mad summer of 1899, Gellert was the piano virtuoso, not him. Always had been.
“That," Albus finally said quietly, “was simply breathtaking. Thank you for tonight, Gellert. It's been a while that I didn't end Christmas Eve with a whole bottle of some good old wine all on my own."
“I dare say I relate to that, my dear."
Snow covered both sides of the small park, piled up as high as their heads. The fountain in the exact middle of that pathway just before two stairs led up to the front portal in an elegant slope was still and frozen, a figurine of... Heavens, was that their blood pact, enlarged a dozenfold?
“Ah, well. I told you whom I built my castle for. Don't dwell on it, we don't want that to get to your head, do we?"
Without thinking about it at all, Albus stepped in front of him and kissed him so deeply, he could feel the tingling response all the way to his fingertips. They were so incredibly well matched, every kiss, every deeper touch literally sent sparks flying and he loved how little Gellert gave to control in these moments. A small whimper escaped him, probably in surprise, and glided off into a low rumble that left them both panting. Albus fixed him firmly right where they stood, in front of that fountain that made him slightly uncomfortable and too flustered for a 40 years old man at the same time. Their eyes locked, the wonder of them fitting so perfectly into each other's gaps and hollow shards passed between them unspoken.
“You're impossible", Albus stated fondly and utterly failed at keeping all his adoration out of those two little words. He shouldn't be this in love with a murderer, a revolutionist, the most powerful wizard of Europe, and yet, he was. Oh, heavens, he was. Never to be saved from falling again, he was ruined for anybody else. Had been since that summer of twenty years past, if he was entirely honest with himself.
Softly, as if he didn't want to disturb the moment, Gellert covered his fingers tightly clasped into the black collar with his own and placed Albus' left hand on his right sided upper arm. Their free hands intertwined almost as an afterthought.
Violins and celli were still ringing in his ears, the drums beating, beating to the rhythm of his heart. Oh, but to dance to one of those immortal waltzes in a large ballroom, surrounded by people swishing and floating all around them and yet unseeing, unseen -
Gellert twirled him around in front of that absolutely misplaced fountain and for once, Albus didn't bother to shut his mind anxiously again.
“To see you glow like you did in that stuffy theater brings me decidedly more joy than watching the next year falling into my castle while already half-way drunk at least."
“Half-way?" Albus echoed with a quiet sort of amusement that made Gellert lower his head a bit.
“Well. You're right in that, of course. Although I wouldn't mind a good glass of portwine now."
They stumbled and he caught them both reflexively, only just managing to keep Albus from being dusted in snow from head to toe. A second of silence and they were snorting with laughter. It was bloody freezing up here, long after dusk already and every now and then, a sharp wind rushed through the mountains with a howling sound. They probably should have minded more.
“And music," Albus pleaded, still lying very firmly in Gellert's arms as if he had never belonged anywhere else. The flush covering his aristocratic cheeks was gorgeous and the illusion over his eyes long faded.
“Had I known before how starved you are for culture, as obviously Hogwarts knows nothing of the sorts, I would have taken you out for a night much sooner. Remember how you mocked me for my fascination of Mozart's masterpieces when we were young?"
“Vividly", he said, crunching his face and simply letting himself be tugged alone to the castle portal. An owl of stone far above it hooted softly and took off into the night.
The king was home.