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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
— CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT The Missing Mirror—

I knew my brother, Potter. He learned secrecy at our mother’s knee. Secrets and lies, that’s how we grew up, and Albus ... he was a natural.

The old man’s eyes travelled to the painting of the girl over the mantelpiece. It was, now Harry looked around properly, the only picture in the room. There was no photograph of Albus Dumbledore, nor of anyone else.

‘Mr Dumbledore?’ said Hermione rather timidly. ‘Is that your sister? Ariana?’

‘Yes,’ said Aberforth tersely. ‘Been reading Rita Skeeter, have you, missy?’

Even by the rosy light of the fire it was clear that Hermione had turned red.

‘Elphias Doge mentioned her to us,’ said Harry, trying to spare Hermione.

‘That old berk,’ muttered Aberforth, taking another swig of mead. ‘Thought the sun shone out of my brother’s every orifice, he did. Well, so did plenty of people, you three included, by the looks of it.’

Harry kept quiet. He did not want to express the doubts and uncertainties about Dumbledore that had riddled him for months now. He had made his choice while he dug Dobby’s grave; he had decided to continue along the winding, dangerous path indicated for him by Albus Dumbledore, to accept that he had not been told everything that he wanted to know, but simply to trust. He had no desire to doubt again, he did not want to hear anything that would deflect him from his purpose. He met Aberforth’s gaze, which was so strikingly like his brother’s: the bright blue eyes gave the same impression that they were X-raying the object of their scrutiny, and Harry thought that Aberforth knew what he was thinking, and despised him for it.


He was always up in his bedroom when he was home, reading his books and counting his prizes, keeping up with his correspondence with “the most notable magical names of the day”,’ Aberforth sneered, ‘he didn’t want to be bothered with her. She liked me best. I could get her to eat when she wouldn’t do it for my mother, I could get her to calm down when she was in one of her rages, and when she was quiet, she used to help me feed the goats. 

‘Then, when she was fourteen ... see, I wasn’t there,’ said Aberforth. ‘If I’d been there, I could have calmed her down. She had one of her rages, and my mother wasn’t as young as she was,and ... it was an accident. Ariana couldn’t control it. But my mother was killed.’

Harry felt a horrible mixture of pity and repulsion; he did not want to hear any more, but Aberforth kept talking and Harry wondered how long it had been since he had spoken about this; whether, in fact, he had ever spoken about it.

‘So that put paid to Albus’s trip round the world with little Doge. The pair of ’em came home for my mother’s funeral and then Doge went off on his own, and Albus settled down as head of the family. Ha!’ Aberforth spat into the fire. ‘I’d have looked after her, I told him so, I didn’t care about school, I’d have stayed home and done it. He told me I had to finish my education and he’d take over from my mother. Bit of a comedown for Mr Brilliant, there’s no prizes for looking after your half-mad sister, stopping her blowing up the house every other day. But he did all right for a few weeks ... ’til he came.’

And now a positively dangerous look crept over Aberforth’s face.
Grindelwald. And at last, my brother had an equal to talk to, someone just as bright and talented as he was. And looking after Ariana took a back seat then, while they were hatching all their plans for a new wizarding order, and looking for Hallows, and whatever else it was they were so interested in. Grand plans for the benefit of all wizardkind, and if one young girl got neglected, what did that matter, when Albus was working for the greater good?

‘But after a few weeks of it, I’d had enough, I had. It was nearly time for me to go back to Hogwarts, so I told ’em, both of ’em, face to face, like I am to you, now,’ and Aberforth looked down at Harry, and it took little imagination to see him as a teenager, wiry and angry, confronting his elder brother. ‘I told him, you’d better give it up, now. You can’t move her, she’s in no fit state, you can’t take her with you, wherever it is you’re planning to go, when you’re making your clever speeches, trying to whip yourselves up a following. He didn’t like that,’ said Aberforth, and his eyes were briefly occluded by the firelight on the lenses of his glasses: they shone white and blind again. ‘Grindelwald didn’t like that at all. He got angry. He told me what a stupid little boy I was, trying to stand in the way of him and my brilliant brother ... didn’t I understand, my poor sister wouldn’t have to be hidden once they’d changed the world, and led the wizards out of hiding, and taught the Muggles their place?

‘And there was an argument ... and I pulled out my wand, and he pulled out his, and I had the Cruciatus Curse used on me by my brother’s best friend – and Albus was trying to stop him, and then all three of us were duelling, and the flashing lights and the bangs set her off, she couldn’t stand it –’

The colour was draining from Aberforth’s face as though he had suffered a mortal wound.

‘– and I think she wanted to help, but she didn’t really know what she was doing, and I don’t know which of us did it, it could have been any of us – and she was dead.’

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