Not that Albus complained about the kisses and cuddles in the middle of the night, or the regained companionship, but as a patient, Gellert was an absolute nightmare.
The bed wasn’t comfortable (it was), the food lacked taste (it didn’t), or he was bored (alright, Albus could give him that one).
So, after ten days of non-stopping complaining, Madam Pomfrey finally got sick of him and did what Albus expected was what he wanted from the start.
Gellert still had to spend most of the day in bed. But it was his bed, in his quiet room, eating the food he liked. Even though the curse really did a number on him, he started walking again after some time, pacing slowly around his room, and Albus was glad to see that his poor decisions might not leave such a scar in the end.
On a calm Thursday, when Albus thought Gellert was asleep, he looked up to find him leaning against the door:
“Technically, it’d be good afternoon”
“Whatever” He smiled. He walked into the office coming to stand behind Albus “Marking?”
“Close, class planning.”
“Hm.” He rested his head on Albus’ shoulder, looping his arms around him.
Albus didn’t even try to hide his smile. He liked this newfound, or rather, re-found intimacy. It was nice to not have boundaries. Outside, Albus’ only connection to Gellert was a good-hearted wish to see him rehabilitated. But in here… it was them against the world, and all that that entailed.
There was a small tap on the window.
Gellert planted a chaste kiss on his cheek and moved to let in a barn owl with a letter:
“Isn’t mail delivered at breakfast?”
“Supposedly.” Albus removed the envelope and he gulped when he saw the ministry seal, “Someone wanted to keep things in the dark.”
He opened the letter and Gellert came to stand and read over his shoulder.
“It’s a trial motion. They’re asking you to testify against me?!”
“No… They’re charging me of conspiring with you.”
Gellert skimmed his eyes over the missive. He caught only a few sentences, but they were enough to get the message across: conspiracy, harbouring a fugitive, unlawful use of magic, obstruction of justice. Those bastards.
“That’s out of context. It makes it seem like you took the binding away and let me roam free, and then I used magic to hurt people. The only reason I even used magic was to save lives, and at the cost of my own safety! Where is that written.?”
Before Albus could answer, someone knocked on the door.
“Expecting someone?” Gellert asked.
“I never am. Come in.”
In came McGonagall, gripping an official-looking piece of parchment hard enough to rip it:
“Do any of you care to explain what this is? Why on Merlin’s name would I be asked to testify against both of you?”
“Ah,” said Albus, “They certainly don’t waste any time.”
“I mean, I understand his part,” she pointed at Gellert, “no offense...”
“… but what do you have to do with it?”
“I enabled him, apparently.” Albus spoke from behind joint fingers.
“You- you- Well, that’s just bloody stupid.”
“I’m glad we agree on something.” Gellert huffed.
“We have to do something.” She looked between the two of them, “Albus, you are the best thing that ever happened to this school, and damn me for saying this, but Grindelwald, the children like you. You two can’t leave, especially not at the same time.”
“Unfortunately, Minerva. You can’t. The ministry wants you on their side, and you can’t say no to them. I don’t want you to get in trouble.” Albus took her and in his. “Thank you for everything you did, but we need to fix this ourselves.”
She seemed to want to protest but ended up nodding.
As soon as McGonagall closed the door, Gellert propped himself on the desk and looked down at Albus, who had leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes with a frustrated sigh.
“You do realise there’s no fixing this, yes?” he warned, lips pursed.
“I’m afraid so, yes.”
“You’re not as naïve as I thought.”
“When it comes to you, I always am.” Albus’ lips curled into a small smile
Gellert jumped up, knocking down some quills in the process:
“That’s it. “
“Whatever are you talking about, Gellert?”
“Naïve. That’s it.”
Albus looked up at him:
“Oh, come on Albus, this has nothing to do with the attack. The ministry hated when you brought me here, that “rescue” was the opportunity they wanted. There’s no way I’m walking out of this, and since you’re not exactly the ministry’s favourite person, I doubt you can without significant effort, unless you tell them I played you. I tricked you into letting me walk around.”
“I doubt that will keep you out of Nurmengard.”
“No, but it’ll keep you out for sure.”
“No. I told you I wanted to make amends. I took so much from you. Either accidentally or on purpose, I spent the last forty years hurting you. And you never gave up on me. It’s my turn to give.” Gellert sat on his lap, back resting on the arm of the chair. He cupped his cheek and pulled him in for a kiss.
It was horrible.
Horrible in the way it felt like a goodbye. The kind of kiss a soldier would give if he knew he was marching to his last battle. The kind of kiss that Gellert gave when he feared the world would collapse on him at last.
They pulled apart and Gellert was close enough for Albus to see stubborn tears in his eyes:
“Just promise you’ll visit.”
Albus pulled him back to him and Gellert nestled his head on the crook of his neck. They stayed like that for a while.
Twenty years of war. Thirty more of pain. All for a few months together. That hardly seemed fair. Now, with Gellert in his arms, everything seemed so easy: they could run. Disappear from the world.
No. Albus would not visit Gellert in the ruins of his empire. He would not watch him march, bound and beaten, to the room that would one day become his tomb. Albus Dumbledore was prised as the most powerful wizard alive, and he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to use that power to save the man he loved.