“It’s not really a lie, is it? I do enjoy a good pair of wool socks.” Dumbledore’s eyes crinkled in gentle laughter but light did not shine within them.
Sorrow and memories surrounded him in statues of marble and fading letters. Bitter winds whipped his silver mane which flew wildly around his whithered face, dancing with fluffy flakes of falling snow. His usually strong stature sat slumped against the curved stone, feet splayed out on the dying grass in front of him.
“I hope you are resting well,” he spoke, words merely slipping from his lips--no emotion, no vindication. But what could he say to her? To them? How could he explain his wrongs and his past? How could he dare to ask forgiveness for what he had done?
For what he hadn’t done. Because saying he had neglected her was not enough to feed his guilt. He had been selfish. He had forgotten. But, more importantly, he had not cared. He had not mourned his mother. He had not loved his sister. He had not taken care of her. He had not been the brother and son he should have been.
He had killed her. Perhaps it was not he that cast the curse that took her life, but to him -- in his mind and regret -- he may as well have looked her straight in the eye, watched her shiver in fear and shock, before raising his wand to her chest, opening his mouth wide, and crying, “Avada Kedavra!”. It would always be his fault.
And quietly, he accepted his anguish.
He lived with it. Everyday, he lived with the ghosts that would not rest and the living that would not die. He lived with a past intent on becoming the present. He lived with a lie--a secret he did not want to have to keep. He lived with his shame locked up and hidden from the world. But even then, he lived and she did not.
“Can you not forgive me?” White wisps of breath rose from his lips and disappeared into the gray skies. The question he asked in vain--the answer one he had known for many years. He had known it the moment she died, the moment Aberforth’s fist crunched mercilessly against his nose, the moment judging whispers between funeral clothes reached his ears.
He knew. He could not forgive. And so, neither could she.
“Happy Birthday, little sister.” With what he believed to be all of his remaining strength, he lifted himself from the ground, brown grass and leaves crinkling beneath him as he let fourteen yellow roses fall from his fingers and onto her grave.
As Dumbledore passed through the rows of memories, a cloaked figure appeared just outside of the wrought-iron gates which swung dangerously in the wind. A long gray beard hung down to his waist and dull blue eyes peaked out from beneath his hood. In his hand he held fourteen yellow roses.
Their eyes met for less than a moment. One walked by the other and neither said a single word.