Pink Green Blue

Let the Times Roll by Scrivenshaft Winnershrk-bait

Rating: PG. Created: October 11th, 2005. Updated: October 11th, 2005. Read Reviews (8)
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not the owner of this fic.

Author Notes: Winner of BEST OVERALL of the July 2005 Scrivenshaft Challenge! Gosh. I am so thrilled! I wasn't sure how this would come out when I started writing it, but I'm really pleased with how it went and I hope you all enjoy reading it! :) Please let me know what you think!

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Let the Times Roll

By: Shrk-bait

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The winds that blow--

ask them, which leaf on the tree

will be next to go.

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It was common knowledge. No one really knew what circled about the head of Albus Dumbledore. Sometimes, neither did he.

On nights such as these, even the “greatest wizard of modern times” wrestled with the troubles of sleep. Apparently, there was so much to think about that, quite frankly, he hadn’t enough time during the day to think. Refusing to be cast aside, his thoughts instead decided to snatch away what comforting bit of rest the Headmaster usually cherished. They had the power to do such a thing and for that, Albus could not help but feel a twinge of resentment towards them. So, with a moan of frustration, he threw back the covers and tugged a woolen nightcap firmly over his head.

Dumbledore trudged across the room, grabbing his trademark half-moon sceptacles as he passed. In a seemingly practiced motion, he put them on, pushing the connecting rim up the bridge of his crooked nose with a quick tap. His hand then moved to the staircase’s railing, slightly supporting a body that had walked many a mile.

You see, Albus Dumbledore was no young boy. He had lived what many would consider a very full lifetime. Some would even say more than one lifetime, taking into account his age. His mind – a tangled mixture of genius peppered with dashes of lunacy – was just as sharp as it had ever been, but even he had to admit that his body was not as able as before. Aging was only natural, but that didn’t keep him from looking back fondly and secretly wishing to relive his days of simplicity and carelessness.

Sometimes he dreamed of distant memories from his early Hogwarts years. He remembered the ‘swish’ of his unblemished, newly-purchased wand and the itching desire for adventures beyond castle walls. And midnight raids of sweet stashes in his trunk and celebratory bottles of butterbeer after examinations. And laughter and friendships and magic.

But alas, he was too old to be plunging into carefree recollections and nostalgic visions of missed youth. He didn’t have the luxury. These days, who did?

It was a shame. His students were at the age when misleading hormones and silly mind games (perhaps a few career-determining exams as well) should have been the brunt of their problems, not Dark Lords trying to take over the world. It would’ve been nice to have a few years between the awkwardness of puberty and the life-threatening battles of good versus evil.

He reached for his wand. Fourteen inches, sturdy oak with a dragon heartstring core. He paused, poised to tap his head and transfer his thoughts into a trusty Pensieve for further examination. Something in the cupboard caught his eye, something he had not minded since his birthday many years ago when a colleague presented them to him as a gift. So, he put the wand down.

I haven’t seen these in ages, he muttered. Ahh, the powers of chance manifested in such seemingly insignificant objects.

Fawkes nudged his arm, perhaps as a silent question as to why the old man was up so late at night. Perhaps.

That’s right...chance, Dumbledore explained, fondly stroking the creature’s blood red plummage. Even the greatest witch or wizard is not exempt from the unpredictable effects of such intangible forces. It binds us all, doesn’t it, Fawkes?

He picked them up – a relatively untouched pair of wooden dice, the cube faces painted white with black dots. He held them fondly in his left palm, fingering the only major flaw, a small chip on the edge of the right one. Did that tiny nick in the wood make a difference in a man’s roll? Did it alter the outcome?

Carelessly, he let the dice roll from his hands. Maybe it was out of boyish wonder or perhaps it was simply natural instinct, but either way, he let them fall onto the desk. The sharp contact of wood on wood echoed hauntingly in the circular office. It was customary to inspect one’s roll. He pretended to do so thoughtlessly, though even he knew curiosity could not be an ignored factor.

Snake eyes, he scoffed bitterly. How fitting.

The roll that screamed death. It reeked of it. Nowadays, everything did. Even Hogwarts, the one place that everyone hoped would remain as carefree and neutral as ever. There was not one student unaffected by the events surrounding them. Lord Voldemort became an integral part of everyday speech. Dumbledore couldn’t wander around without hearing the sobriquet “You-Know-Who” make an appearance in hallway conversation. Each day, more troubling news materialized with the morning onslaught of owls. Students had grown to dread the sound of beating wings. The daily question was no longer “Who won the last Quidditch match?” or “Who has Myron Wagtail, lead singer of the Weird Sisters, been seen snogging last?”

Dumbledore’s face darkened with thought. The questions had become variations of: “How many Muggles were found slaughtered? Whose parents went missing last night? What’s the death count today?”

Death and bitter decay had melded into society – Wizarding and Muggle alike. It bound the two worlds. Death integrated itself into life and now, no magic spells or fancy muggle contraptions could separate the two.

It was no way to live, but they really had no say in the matter, did they?

Since Tom Riddle cast aside his name and opted to be known more infamously as the dreaded You-Know-Who (technically Lord Voldemort), the world was plunged into confusion. The tides had shifted and the winds were no longer as light as they used to be. They were heavy with change.

Everyone was thrown into the turmoil, quite unwilling and unready at the start. Some adapted, others never did. Either way, the troublesome events of the world had molded them all and how tragic that thought seemed to the old Headmaster. But there was no going back. They were in the age of warfare, torn between the dark and the light. And sometimes, having no real choice between the two.    

Often times, it was hard to tell who was “good,” who was “bad,” and who was simply too indecisive to remain loyal to either side. It was hard to be on a side. Half of the people you met were against you, quite a few were with you, and the rest were suspicious of everyone and anyone. Confusion – it came with the change.

Dumbledore was fortunate enough to have many good wizards and witches still loyal to him. They were ready, willing, determined, and terribly passionate. And, in comparision, very young. Sometimes he wondered if it was really wise to be leading such promising men and women to such terrible problems.

But they wanted it. He supposed the general sentiment was that if Voldemort was finished, things would be better for them all – their families, their children, their futures. Life was on the line; they all knew the harsh reality of fighting such a powerful force. 

He knew. He knew so well, and yet, didn’t give a damn if his own life was needed to help end it. It was thought of all the others that really made his weathered hands tremble. When one reached such an age as he had reached, death was only to be expected. No man lived forever and Dumbledore was beginning to wonder when he, himself would have his death announced in the Daily Prophet.

But it hadn’t been him. It had been James and Lily. It had been Frank and Alice. Dorcas and Benjy and Caradoc. The Bones and the Prewetts and the McKinnons. Cedric Diggory. It had been Sirius.

No, it had never been him. Not yet, at least.

If there was any way to change that, Dumbledore was willing. For a man of his years, it was easier to accept the idea of facing death having already lived. He had the pleasure of watching youngsters of enormous potential – who thought him to be a brilliantly crazy old wizard – somehow become brilliant themselves and finally understand the meaning behind Dumbledore’s insanity. Death was not so frightening when fearlessly taking it head on and having many satisfying years boxed away in memory, just in case.

But there was no way to alter the past. He continued to stand, while so much of the potential and youth and life of the future faded away. There was no control, no fairness, no choice. Knowing that was really beginning to weigh much heavier than thought of any Dark Lords or Grim Reapers.

Who would next challenge the Fates in a battle for life or death?

There were too many. The lists carried on – the list of those whose odds had not been so favorable, the list of those who had yet to stake their lives. Lists and lists and lists of faces scrolled through his mind.

All anyone could do was wait and see which list would have another name added by the end of the day. It was all a game of chance. Which faces would grace the newspaper pages next? It was all as simple and as complex as a roll of the dice.

He’d thought enough for one night. With a quick tap on his temple, he pulled out memories of former colleagues caught in the crossfire of a great war, innocent bystanders who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the very moment he first saw an eerie Dark Mark floating over a fallen household. He would sort through it all later.

Feeling slightly more clear-headed, Dumbledore moved to close the cabinet doors. Dice laying on the desk caught his eye. Dumbledore picked up the wooden cubes once again and jiggled them in his palm. One more toss, he insisted without realizing there was no one else in the room who had the voice to argue against him. Hearing the response of silence, he opened the cabinet door and gently threw the dice inside.

They quickly stopped bouncing about. Dare he look? What would it be? Who was next? What was next? Perhaps it was better to leave those sort of questions unanswered. It was, after all, just a matter of chance.

He clicked the cabinet closed and made his way to bed, hoping to cling to the bit of sleeping time he had remaining. The dice had not been looked at. No one had seen them, not even the great Albus Dumbledore. And that was the way it should be.

Sometimes it was better not to know.

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