Remix: Letters Sometimes Lie (the Famous Last Stand Remix) [Dumbledore, Grindelwald, 250 words, rated PG, no warnings], by iambickilometer
Albus doesn't enjoy lying, but it is a heavily edited version of the truth that he sends to Churchill following the fall of Grindelwald. Horror at the act of murder, the dashed hope for a chance to redeem: these things he can relate. He spins a brief explanation, signs his name with one last sweep of the quill, and then lowers his shaking hand to the desk. Ink drips from the quill to the wood.
"You've found me at last, Albus," Gellert had said. "I'm impressed."
Back when they were younger they always tried to outdo each other. Golden boys of innovation, their teachers called them. Albus had lived for the moments when Gellert's eyes went wide, when he smiled like he hadn't meant to. They went too far, back then, planning for a brighter future. Darkness came instead, and it left them on either side of a widening gap of values.
Gellert smiled like that, when Albus pushed him back. His face froze like that when Albus snapped his neck, and it smiled at him until Albus looked away. Albus dreamed that night of the face of a friend, frozen still, like a Muggle photograph.
"It could have been different," Gellert had said. "This was your dream, too."
"Not this," Albus had replied. "Never this."
He killed with love. His hands still shake, but he smiles into the mirror when he passes it to send the letter, and in his face he sees the echoes of a younger man.