Title: Letters in the Dead of Night Rating: NC-17 Pairing: Dumbledore/Grindelwald Disclaimer: I'd give the Harry Potter characters themselves as gifts if I could. Alas, they aren't mine. Summary: It was lucky that Bathilda had found that particular letter. The correspondence that followed had been far less innocent. Warnings: Smut. Author Notes: Thanks to my beta, T, for a wonderful job cleaning up the fic.
Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald were fast friends, but there always seemed to be something standing between them.
Personally, Gellert thought that anything that separated them should be dispatched as quickly and cleanly as possible so as not to draw unnecessary attention to them. Albus didn't seem to share that opinion. It therefore wasn't a huge surprise that the foremost thing dividing them was their differing ideas regarding 'necessary force'.
For the first week or so that they'd known each other, Albus had pestered Gellert with nightly owls inquiring into the tiniest nuances of what they'd discussed during the day. Gellert had assumed that Albus wanted to discover the flaws in his plans and rub his nose in them. He'd never met anyone as intelligent as Albus – or anyone even approaching his own cleverness, come to that. He couldn't imagine that two brilliant young men put in close contact could avoid becoming rivals. It was only a matter of time. But, to his great surprise, when Albus had unearthed what he considered to be the inherent problem, there had been no patronizing or crowing. Albus had only sent yet another simple missive explaining that Gellert's error had been in pushing his influence too far, too quickly, and that they would have to avoid such a trap in future. They would only use that amount of force which was necessary.
'They', he had written. The letter had suggested that Albus meant for both of them to pursue Gellert's dream of dominance over the Muggles. It was one thing for them to discuss, in the heat of the moment, travelling abroad and distributing their ideas. It was quite another to see the thought jotted down in Albus' neat hand, with the ink dried on parchment in a decidedly permanent manner.
There had never been anyone in his life who had been willing to stand beside Gellert and fight for his cause. He had never even had a friend before. He couldn't imagine why Albus sought to be his comrade rather than his opposition, but he was certainly intrigued.
When morning came, Gellert couldn't get to Albus' house soon enough. In his hurry he must have left the letter Albus had sent on his desk, where he'd been staring sightlessly at the parchment for hours, contemplating the letter's contents. He never did find the letter after that, though it seemed fairly obvious what had happened to it.
Gellert personally thought that his 'flaw' wasn't that at all. Albus simply couldn't see the bigger picture. He hadn't been at Durmstrang, where the value of 'practicality' was taught with as much zeal as the Dark Arts. There was no such limit as 'necessary force' there. Any amount of force might be necessary, depending on the circumstances.
For example, it was practical for Gellert to use a handy memory charm that would make his Aunt Bathilda forget what she'd read in the letter she'd obviously stolen from his room. That was until she rediscovered where she'd hidden the letter and reread it. It infuriated Gellert to no end that she'd taken it so easily from him and yet he – who was surely immeasurably more intelligent than her – was incapable of recovering it.
Gellert knew that he was brilliant. Everyone knew that he was brilliant. And everyone also knew that Gellert knew he was brilliant, for his level of genius tended to go hand in hand with a certain amount of cockiness. It was a heady thing, to think oneself unequalled. It did strange things to the size of one's head.
Gellert's particular brand of arrogance was a fact of life for all those who had met him. This perhaps explained the fact that the only true friend he'd ever been able to make was also the only person he'd ever met who was as intelligent as he was. Until he'd met Albus, Gellert had never considered the idea that anyone else's intellect could even rival his.
But intelligence, Gellert realised for the first time, didn't mean he could never act foolishly. It had been pure thoughtlessness on his behalf that had resulted in the letter not being out of sight and (more importantly) out of mind.
He had kept his most prized possessions behind ward after ward that he doubted Bathilda would be delusional enough to even attempt to break. It had been reckless to not take equal care of his correspondence with Albus.
Gellert had, of course, considered more permanent solutions to the problem of what Bathilda knew.
The most practical solution would be for him to pack up his things, Stupefy his great aunt and set fire to her house on the way out, with her still trapped inside. It would wrap everything up quite neatly, taking care of the letter as well as Bathilda herself.
No motive, no murder, as some of the older boys at Durmstrang had often said during his time there.
Gellert was not concerned about the possibility of discovery. He had ways of making sure the British Ministry found it to be an accident. He'd be seen as a victim. That way he wouldn't even have to leave immediately. He could wait until he was ready to make a clean getaway. Or rather, he could wait until Albus was ready and able to leave with him, for he already felt he'd overstayed his welcome in Godric's Hollow. Whatever the case, no one would have to suspect a thing.
Gellert had his bag half packed before he realised that it was a purely academic consideration, for someone would suspect.
Albus' naïve ideas about necessary force had prevented him from understanding that sometimes it was necessary to do things that were Dark or illegal in order to put certain plans into action. Albus seemed almost willing to set his principles of non-violence aside in the case of Muggles. Gellert knew, though, that this was due more to Albus' personal vendetta against the Muggles than any weakening of the basis of his morals. Since Bathilda was a witch (and a pureblood, at that), Gellert couldn't imagine Albus would be particularly willing to write her life off as an unavoidable loss.
Gellert had once thought that what Albus didn't know wouldn't hurt him. However, it hadn't taken him long to recognise that at the young age of seventeen, Albus Dumbledore seemed to know everything.
"Merlin-forsaken Legilimency," Gellert cursed spitefully as he threw the packed items back out onto the floor of his room.
Gellert had never needed to learn proper Occlumency until he'd met Albus. He'd never met a Legilimens strong enough to penetrate his natural mental defences. It wasn't a particularly common skill in Eastern Europe, after all. However, brute strength was never enough with Albus. Only a trained mind could keep him out.
That meant that, for now, Gellert had to cater to Albus's interpretation of what was necessary for the greater good. He couldn't take the chance of them having a huge falling out, should his friend discover that Gellert had killed someone.
He had no intention of leaving Godric's Hollow without Albus in tow. As a team they would be completely unstoppable. Who could ever hope to challenge them?
Gellert hated to rely on anyone, but he was slowly learning that Albus wouldn't betray his trust. And however powerful he was on his own, he could admit that having another equally powerful person on his side could only help.
That meant that he – they – would have to be long gone by the time Bathilda shared the stolen correspondence with the British Ministry, who would have no qualms about making a move against him. And against Albus as well, for he'd certainly been implicated in the stolen letter.
It wouldn't do to be arrested before they'd even begun to wage their war. Gellert knew with absolute certainty that they could easily break free were the Ministry to attempt to detain them, but it wouldn't do to show their hand too early. He and Albus had to have the element of surprise when finally launching their carefully constructed campaign on the wizarding world. It was the only way they could hope to succeed.
The second disparity between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald had initially been less obvious.
Gellert, with his vast deductive powers, had hardly failed to realise that there was something fundamentally different about the way Albus looked at him as opposed to the way he returned that look. He had, however, been quite puzzled about precisely how it was different.
Gellert soon found himself spending all his time at Albus' house. Bathilda could scarcely succeed in convincing him to return for dinner in the evenings. Albus always seemed disappointed when Gellert left at the end of the day. The letters sent late at night increased progressively in frequency.
It felt addictive to know that someone truly wanted his presence. Bathilda had taken him in without complaint, but she hadn't actually requested that he come to live in her house, nor would she be particularly sad if he left. In fact, when she finally rediscovered the secret letter, Gellert felt certain that she'd like nothing better than to see him out in the street, or perhaps behind bars in the British prison, Azkaban. Albus, on the other hand, obviously wanted him near. Gellert found it difficult to see why.
Things quickly became clear, though. He'd looked up from where he'd been scrawling his latest idea onto the rough timeline they'd been constructing to find Albus staring at him with a strange sort of intensity. It was a sort of hunger that Gellert had only ever felt for knowledge. Gellert was always fairly quick on the uptake. It didn't take him long to realise what it was Albus was craving. He was intrigued, of course, but he couldn't honestly say he'd ever really considered Albus that way before then. He was busy thinking about other things. More important things.
Gellert raised his eyebrows as if questioning whether Albus thought him more important than those plans. Albus stubbornly did not look away, his silent answer speaking loud and clear.
Gellert knew then that the nature of Albus' regard for him was very different to his own for Albus. He also found that he didn't really mind.
Gellert had never realised until that moment how well the colour blue could burn. Were it not for the way Albus purposely brushed their hands together when he took the quill from Gellert's grasp, he wouldn't have believed that that sort of fire could be directed at him. That it could be for him.
But, much like Albus' intentions to see out their plans at Gellert's side, Gellert was forced to believe it, for Albus put it into writing that night. And many nights after that, as well.
What I would do to you... If only we didn't need to worry about Aberforth and Ariana overhearing...
Gellert hadn't even needed the description of hands running over skin and fingers sifting through hair. Just the idea of what Albus might want to do with him mixed with the sight of those words written in Albus's handwriting – turned spiky and hurried as it did when he'd had a particularly brilliant idea and was near-frantic to get it down on parchment before it slipped away like a wisp of smoke – was enough to make Gellert trail a hand over his cock, eyebrows drawn together in concentration. If he tried, he could almost imagine Albus' hands on him in place of his own.
It was a feeling nearly as heady as truly using his magic to its capacity. It was nearly as heady as attacking his fellow students at Durmstrang when they'd tried to resist his efforts to change the school. But not quite. Nothing had ever been, or ever could be, as good as that.
It was lucky, really, that Bathilda had broken into his room when she had. The correspondence that had followed the letter which had gone missing had been comparatively far less innocent. The old bat would have probably keeled over from just the thought of what those letters contained.
Well, perhaps it wasn't so lucky after all, Gellert reflected bitterly. Death by scorchingly hot owl-sex would have been a very convenient solution to the problem that was Aunt Bathilda.
He couldn't tell Albus that one of his letters had fallen into the wrong hands. Even though they were friends, and were perhaps becoming something more, Gellert found that he'd been right. Two people as intelligent as they were couldn't help but always be subconsciously in competition. Every tiny action or word was designed to showcase their respective cleverness. Gellert couldn't bear for Albus to know that he'd done something so foolish. It was a matter of pride.
It was no wonder, though, that they called pride a deadly sin. It meant that he couldn't do more than hint that he wanted to leave soon. If Albus kept fobbing him off, someone was going to end up dead. Or at least very maimed. Perhaps Albus wouldn't be so moral about just maiming people, Gellert thought hopefully. It really was all for a good cause.
"I can't leave. Not yet," Albus continued to insist.
If only Gellert could convey the urgency of the situation to him.
"You can't spend your life in Godric's Hollow. You're so much better than that. The sooner we leave, the better," was the extent of what Gellert was willing to say. He whispered it, wary as always of being overheard by the other occupants of Albus' house. His charges, Gellert thought with a disdainful grimace.
They were undoubtedly yet another thing that constantly came between himself and Albus.
The girl wouldn't understand what she was hearing in the first place. But the boy… well, Gellert would have no qualms about the idea of a duel to the death in order to keep him quiet once and for all, if he did overhear, but he had a feeling Albus would be even more upset about the loss of his brother than he would be if Gellert disposed of his aunt.
As annoying as it was, Albus evidently cared about his family. Personally, Gellert thought that it was ridiculous for Albus to care for anyone but him, let alone an insane sister and a brother who seemed to never wash himself. But Gellert had repeatedly overheard Albus insisting Aberforth return to Hogwarts when the new school year arrived, looking out for Aberforth's future, as if the lout actually had one. Gellert had seethed at that, knowing who would have to look after the girl if Albus's younger brother were to leave to complete his education.
It didn't bode well for their grand plans at all. Nor did it bode well for them.
Even for Albus, Gellert was not prepared to sit around and wait two whole years while his brother finished his education.
Sure, taking over the world took a lot of sitting about and planning, not to mention a great deal of putting quill to parchment to record and amend those plans. However, Gellert was, after all, a genius. He'd been planning for years at Durmstrang, and he hardly needed yet another two years to perfect those plans, especially when he could bounce his ideas off Albus.
Gellert wanted to move on, but he didn't want to do it without Albus. It was their plan just as much as it was his.
The only way to resolve the situation, Gellert decided, was to make sure Albus realised who was the most deserving of his affection. Then he'd forget all about his family and do what was right. For the greater good.
Gellert licked his lips seductively. Albus seemed to be on the verge of blushing. He locked his jaw purposefully, as if he could stave off the rush of blood close to the surface of his skin by sheer will. Apparently he could. Gellert was impressed. Albus constantly impressed him.
Right at that moment, though, Gellert was more turned on than impressed. It was only natural, really, considering Albus had spent the last half hour talking about nothing but domination and bondage. Gellert chose to ignore the fact that the topic in question was Muggles, for that wasn't a particularly arousing thought at all.
Apparently self-conscious now, Albus stopped talking. For once, Gellert didn't mind. It wasn't battle plans he was hoping to draw out of Albus' mouth right then.
Ever since he'd realised precisely what Albus felt towards him, Gellert had been thinking about what it would be like to be with him. Or to be with anyone, at that. Being a genius didn't leave a lot of time for messing about behind closed doors.
But the idea was intriguing on an academic level. All the new things he could learn…
He had, of course, studied the topic as soon as it occurred to him. Gellert was hardly foolish enough to rush into things without fully understanding them, as many of the boys his age were prone to doing.
He was certain Albus would have done the same thing. Gellert imagined Albus hunched over a book reading about the best technique when it came to sucking a man's penis... warm, wet sucking... a swirling tongue over the head of his cock... the slightest hint of teeth over that thick vein that ran prominently down Gellert's length...
Gellert felt slightly breathless already. He licked his lips again.
Gellert was quick to drag Albus up to the master bedroom after that, though he didn't mention where he was taking him or why they were going there. Albus had never seemed particularly comfortable in his parents' old room – full of sentimentality and the sort of similar rubbish Albus was prone to bothering with, Gellert thought with a sigh – but none of the other wards in the house could compete when it came to sheer privacy.
Privacy was precisely what Gellert had decided they needed that fine morning.
The moment he had shut the door behind them and the silencing wards had kicked in, Gellert pushed Albus firmly back against the hard wood.
"Gellert," Albus whispered, eyes widening.
"Albus," Gellert replied, his voice suddenly sounding much less polished than was his usual.
Albus' eyes rolled back when their hips thrust together. Hard cock rutted against hard cock, both of which were still trapped uncomfortably within their robes.
"The others... Aberforth and... Ariana..."
"Can't hear us," Gellert replied easily. "Not in here."
Apparently it was that easy to convince Albus, for an arm encircled Gellert's lower back and pulled their bodies somehow even closer, causing Gellert's eyes to clench shut.
If only Albus was that compliant in all things.
Ideally they'd be getting naked now, but Gellert realised that this was nothing like masturbating. He couldn't start and stop as he liked until he was too close to the edge not to topple over it. He was already on edge, and stopping for anything (even the very necessary removal of their robes) seemed utterly impossible at that moment.
His hips moved of their own accord, slamming Albus back into the door.
Albus clutched at Gellert's robes for a moment, yanking on them as if hoping they'd just tear away and reveal the skin beneath. When that didn't work, he growled softly in frustration and then began pulling at his own clothing as if searching for the best way to shed his robes. He stopped intermittently, his fingers falling slack as he gasped at the sensation of Gellert's crotch hitting his own at a near perfect angle, and when Gellert's lips on the soft skin just beneath his ear, and then when Gellert's mouth finally closed over his own.
It was strange to think, after all the indecent letters they'd exchanged, that they'd never even kissed.
By the time Gellert pulled away, his breath coming too short for comfort, he discovered that Albus had found not the best way to remove his clothing, but rather the location of his wand.
One spell somehow Apparated his clothing to the corner. Albus' followed a few syllables later.
Gellert had never seen, nor heard about, any spell quite like it.
It was the hottest thing he'd even imagined that Albus had clearly created a spell just for this.
Gellert attacked Albus' lips with teeth once more, letting him know just how much he appreciated that effort.
Gellert spat on his hand – undignified, of course, but necessary, as no spell for lubrication was quite coming to his addled mind – and cupped his hand around the majority of the joined circumference of their cocks, his other forearm bracing against the door to steady them both. Albus's hand joined his and Gellert thrust forward into their entwined grips.
It felt even better without clothes on. Somehow, he hadn't thought anything could have felt better than that.
It didn't take either of them long to orgasm, though Gellert was proud to note that he lasted a good twenty seconds longer than Albus. Even this was, to some extent, a competition.
Albus might provide some of the best ideas, but clearly Gellert had superior staying power. At age seventeen, that was worth something.
His smugness was short-lived, though, for his knees chose that moment to give out from underneath him. Albus had to grab onto him and help them both over to the suddenly inviting looking bed, where they both collapsed.
Gellert ran a hand over Albus' naked chest, feeling the slight furriness of chest hair that promised to thicken over the next few years. He bent his head down and ran his tongue over the same spot. The skin there tasted of salty sweat and the slight rasp of short hair under his tongue felt strange, but not wholly bad.
Well, the whole experience, chest hair included, seemed to have confirmed that he didn't mind other boys at all. Not to mention proving that the hype about sex was clearly not as overrated as he'd initially thought. Genius or not, he clearly had to give up the higher brain functions more often, if it felt that good every time.
However, he didn't think he felt anything for Albus strong enough to put the sort of contented look at his face that he could see on Albus'.
Gellert shrugged. The idea hadn't been to fall in love with Albus, after all. The idea had been to show Albus who he should obviously choose when it came down to Gellert and his siblings. His brother and sister couldn't give him this. Or, at least, they'd better not, Gellert thought with a frown.
Gellert felt certain he'd come out the clear winner.
Even so, it couldn't hurt to remind Albus every now and then. Maybe once or twice a day, just to be sure. There was so much they still had to do, and there was so much to learn. There was nothing quite as arousing to Gellert as the thought of new knowledge.
Albus clearly had a similar thought.
"I figured out a new spell. For our letters."
The tone of his voice suggested exactly what sort of spell it was.
Gellert couldn't wait until that night.
The scrape on his window signalling that an owl was seeking entry into his room startled Gellert even though he'd been waiting for it from the moment he left Albus' house earlier in the evening. The owl ruffled its feathers importantly as though it had some concept of how eagerly anticipated its burden was.
When Gellert opened the roll of parchment, he found there was not, as he had expected, several feet worth of words that made Gellert want to Apparate across town into Albus' room and rip his clothes off right then and there. Rather, there was a single word written in green ink.
Gellert stared at it. It was Latin, he decided, and so it was undoubtedly the spell Albus had mentioned. Gellert frowned at it for a moment, unsure what Albus could have meant by sending him the spell in that way. He cast it on himself, but nothing happened. Then he tapped the parchment with his wand and repeated the spell, assuming it must be a revealing spell of some kind.
It was immediately obvious that the spell had worked, but it was clearly no simple revealing charm. Gellert felt as if the parchment was sucking him into itself through his wand, which was still connected to Albus' writing.
All at once Gellert was bombarded by sensation. He gasped. His back arched of its own accord and his head fell back for a moment before he forced himself to look down at the source of the feeling.
Albus looked up at him. The eye contact didn't break as Albus bobbed his head down over Gellert's cock once more, though Gellert's eyelids did threaten to fall closed.
If he didn't know better, Gellert would assume that Albus had somehow Apparated him straight into Albus' bedroom and shed Gellert's clothing all with one handy spell. Gellert did know better, though, for he was not the sort to miss obvious clues around him. Like the fact that Albus clearly had no need to breathe, for the delicious suction on his prick had continued for several minutes without pause. Or the fact that Gellert had actually lasted that long under such an onslaught without embarrassing himself.
It wasn't real. Whatever was happening, it was clearly all in Gellert's mind. It was some sort of simulation encouraged by the spell on the parchment that took the idea of owl-sex to an all new high. And because it was all in his mind, there were any number of benefits and possibilities laid out before him. There was certainly no chance of them being caught at it, so Albus' many denials to that tune could be overcome.
Albus Dumbledore was truly brilliant, Gellert decided with a sigh, clutching the other boy's hair and letting his head fall back, content to enjoy the ride now that he understood it.
He couldn't wait to see the other boy the next day and thank him properly.
"You were sent another of those letters last night, weren't you?" Bathilda asked over breakfast. Her voice was surprisingly cold. Gellert had never heard it sound quite like that before.
Gellert's grip on his fork tightened.
"Another of those letters?" he asked, forcing an innocent sounding tone into his voice. "They're just from Albus Dumbledore. I've been getting them for months."
Bathilda's eyes narrowed and the wrinkles that marked her aging face deepened, making her look even more displeased. "I know who sent them. And I know what's written in them."
Gellert very much doubted that his Aunt Bathilda could possibly even imagine what might be contained within the parchment that he'd remembered this time to hide behind his wards. He did, however, understand exactly what she was talking about.
She'd clearly found the stolen letter and discovered its contents again.
"So what?" he asked.
Bathilda drew her wand on him. "So, I think I must have known about that letter before, considering that it was hidden somewhere only I could have put it. I think you've been fiddling about with my memory as well as making horrid plans about Muggles, boy. There'll be no more of it. Not under my roof."
Gellert's nod was slow, and he didn't even realise at first that his head was moving. Then, however, he gave a few sharp, more easily discernable nods and rose from the dining table.
He eyed her wand. He was quick on the draw, but probably not enough so that he would be able to Obliviate her before she cursed him.
It didn't matter. It was about time that he took off, anyway.
"All right," he said. "I won't be under your roof, then."
Bathilda looked stunned.
What, had she expected him to deny it? Perhaps she'd thought that he'd apologise and promise not to do anything of the sort again. Him, apologise to her? The idea was laughable.
He swept up the stairs to his bedroom.
For the second time since Gellert's arrival at his great aunt's house, a swift packing spell had efficiently stowed away those few meagre possessions Gellert had brought with him after his expulsion from Durmstrang. His weathered-looking broomstick was shrunk down and tossed in with the rest of the assortment of scrawled papers and magical devices. He thought he heard something inside the trunk crunch unpleasantly, but it hardly mattered. Everything in there was junk, anyway. It was probably his old Remembrall, and what did he need with that? His memory was fine. It was better than fine.
With the exception of his inability to remember to hide away the letter that had made packing necessary in the first place, of course.
Gellert released the powerful locking spell on the bottom desk drawer and retrieved a stack of those letters he'd been much more careful in concealing from Aunt Bathilda. He laid the letters carefully on top of the mess inside his trunk and sealed it. Those letters were by far more important to him than the stray quills he'd shoved away for safekeeping.
Even though he planned to take Albus himself along with him, Gellert never wanted to forget the furtive notes Albus' owl had slipped through his window in the darkness.
He never wanted to forget that someone loved him, even though Gellert didn't really feel the same way in return. That wasn't the point. The point was that Albus truly cared about him, and Gellert deserved that after so long spent on his own, planning, as Albus had so rightly put it, for the 'greater good'.
He was saving the world from itself. Surely he was entitled to a reward for that?
Gellert shrunk his luggage down and cast a spell to activate the built-in featherlight charms on the trunk.
Today was the day, he thought, feeling suddenly dizzy with excitement. Today was the day that he and Albus could finally move on from Godric's Hollow and begin putting in action the plans they'd been making for months.
He wouldn't let anything stop them.
There were two things upon which Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald could never quite see eye to eye, no matter how close their friendship grew over the months they spent together. It was a combination of Gellert's inability to use only 'necessary force' and the fact that his love of knowledge and power far exceeded the feelings he had for Albus that led to their eventual separation.
It wouldn't last, though, Gellert promised himself. It couldn't. It was ridiculous to think that Albus could stay away from him for long.
"Stay," Albus had begged. "Come to the funeral. I need you there."
Gellert had, of course, shaken his head. Albus would be safe from the authorities. He was as much a victim of the circumstances as his sister. But Gellert... he had a record, and Bathilda knew his secret. They would blame it all on him. They would think he'd magically warped perfect Albus Dumbledore's mind, to make him write and think such things.
If only Gellert were capable of that. That would solve all his problems.
"Don't you love me enough to stay?"
Gellert had said nothing to that. He was, frankly, quite stunned that Albus would even ask such an inane question. When had Gellert ever acted as if he was in love with Albus the way Albus loved him?
His silence was apparently enough answer. Albus' face hardened and he turned away.
Gellert had impressive willpower, if he did say so himself. He used it not to call out after Albus as he left.
He didn't love Albus enough to stop him now, nor did he love Albus enough to stay there with him. But he wanted Albus enough that he couldn't bear the thought of continuing without him for long. It was their plan. It wouldn't be the same if Gellert had to do it alone.
And Albus was supposed to be there for him, damn it. He was his incentive.
Never mind, Gellert thought. He would just have to draw Albus back to him. When the news of Gellert's great feats reached Britain, he was sure Albus would come running, not wanting to miss out on the action. At the very least, it wouldn't be long before Albus sent him another of those letters so that they could be together even despite the physical distance between them.
Albus wouldn't stay away for long. Gellert would remind him what he was missing, whatever force might be necessary.