The Sugar Quill
Author: Ashtur an'Vangan (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: This Clock  Chapter: Default
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This Clock

This Clock

Ashtur an’Vangan    

A/N: Thanks as always to Zsenya for her expert beta.

  I love this clock.  I hate this clock.  All I wanted was a simple cup of tea before I went off to bed.  Is that too much to ask?  I only looked at the clock out of habit, nothing more.   On any other clock, having two hands pointing up at this time of night would be nothing.  It is nearly midnight after all.  On this clock though, it’s another story.

  My babies.   How many times have the hands pointed up? How many times have they locked on “mortal peril?”  They’ve never stopped on “jail,” not even for Fred and George, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see that someday.  Why “mortal peril?”  My babies, they should be at school.  They should be safely up in Gryffindor Tower, sleeping soundly. 

  Sometimes I think this clock is a family curse.  I remember watching it as a little girl.  One moment Daddy would be at work, and then suddenly the arm would move to “home,” and I’d already have my arms out to hug him by the time he Apparated in the kitchen.  I didn’t even know what “mortal peril” was supposed to mean.  I saw the clock at “work” and “home” constantly, and it wasn’t all that strange to see Gideon and Fabian’s hands at “lost,” or “hospital.”  They were always so good at getting themselves into scrapes.  They would have liked the twins.  I’m sure when Mum and Dad died in that last outbreak of Dragon Pox it moved to “mortal peril,” but by that time I had already married Arthur, so I didn’t have to see it.

  After they died, the clock passed down to me.  I loved it even more than I had as a girl.  It was always a special moment to add a new hand (or two) to the clock face.  The same clock that had watched over my parents, and their parents, was now watching over my own family.  It told me when the kids were getting lost (the twins always had a talent for that), and it told me when Arthur was ready to come home.  It was always a comfort, a silent guardian over our happy home.  I wouldn’t have traded every Galleon the Malfoys have for this clock.

   The clock never had the chance to tell me that the Death Eaters had caught up with Gideon and Fabian.  They had taken their names off when I got it.  They said, “Oh, c’mon l’il sis, we don’t want you keeping tabs on us now, do we?”  The twins will never know it, but Gideon had the same silly grin that day that they have when they’re up to something.  After that, the clock became my security blanket.  It didn’t make much difference what I was doing.  I might be changing Ron, or cooking dinner, or just relaxing with a cup of tea.  No matter what was going on, if I could just look at the clock and see all of the hands anywhere but straight up, all was well.

  It’s amazing what you can get used to.  I still remember the first time that I saw the clock move to “mortal peril.”  Bill had just started his job with Gringotts.   I was just cooking dinner, shepherd’s pie I think, when I looked up at the clock.  Bill’s hand was pointing straight up, at “mortal peril.“   I don’t remember dropping the ham to the floor, but I did.  I just sat in this chair and stared at the clock.  I was still rooted in my place when Arthur came home.  He asked me what was wrong, but I just pointed at the clock.  Finally, thankfully, Bill’s hand slipped back to “work.”  I’m still not sure how Arthur kept me from Flooing Bill right away.  We finally got in touch with him that night.  He’d been down in some old tomb.  He didn’t think he’d been in a single bit of peril.  Just another day at work. 

  We got used to seeing his hand slide over to “mortal peril” after that.  After awhile, I didn’t even worry any more.   He was too good at his job, too careful.  Then, the same thing happened with Charlie.  I guess working with dragons is always a bit dangerous.  His hand never was at “work,” but always at “mortal peril.”  We got used to that too.

  Maybe we started to get too used to it.  I didn’t even blink  when I saw Fred and George’s hands move to “mortal peril.”   I just waited for the owl from school.  Sure enough, they had been out in the Forbidden Forest.  I was actually a little surprised.  It took them almost two weeks at Hogwarts to wander into forbidden territory.

  By the time Ron was at school, I was used to the hands pointing straight up.  Somewhere, deep down, I knew what “mortal peril” meant, but I just didn’t think about it any more.  Even at the end of Ron’s first year, when I got the owl with the information about Devil’s Snare and giant chess men, it didn’t really register. 

  That all changed in one night.  It was a night much like this one.  I was just getting a cup of tea when I saw that Ginny’s hand was now pointing up.    Even then I didn’t think much of it, not at first.   I actually sort of chuckled about it.  I wondered if Percy would feel left behind since he was the only one it had never happened to.  Then the owl came.  Then I remembered what “mortal peril” really means.  My baby, my little girl was gone… dead.   That night was such a blur.  I remember the sobs, the pain that seemed to drag my heart out of my chest.

  I remember the incredible relief, when Harry bought my little girl back to me.  Harry still doesn’t get it, what that meant to me.  But then I heard the story… Acromantula!  Both of my babies… in so much danger… I’ve never looked at the clock the same way again.

  It hasn’t gotten any better since then.  How could they let Dementors loose around the school?  Dementors!   Then we had a long, blessed year off.  A whole year, the only danger was from Bill’s and Charlie’s jobs.   Now, the danger won’t go away.  He is back, the nightmare that took my brothers, the nightmare that has made Harry an orphan and forced him to live with those monsters.  He’s already reached out to attack my family, nearly taking my Arthur from me. 

  The clock terrifies me now.   I used to look at it in the serene knowledge that it would tell me that all is well.  Now, I look and am always afraid. Always afraid that it will tell me my babies are in danger.

  The clock is moving…

  My babies… my babies are back at school.

  I love this clock. 

  I hate this clock.

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