A/N: Thanks to St. Margarets who really encouraged me on this piece. It was inspired partly by her wonderful analysis of the Sleeping Princesses on the Symbolism Thread and partly by my recent obsession with the Five for Fighting song “A Hundred Years”.
To see the minutes how they run,
How many make the hour full complete;
How many hours bring about the day;
How many days will finish up the year;
How many years a mortal man may live.
- Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3
Ron at 12:00 A.M.
Ron propped his legs up into a second chair and sank deeper into the cushions. The sight before him was too delicious to disturb. Hermione had drifted off to sleep. She was curled up in the corner of the sofa, her O.W.L.’s study guide still open across her knees.
She was the most mysterious thing he had ever seen. He couldn’t help but notice her lips. Usually they were moving a million miles an hour, but now they were completely still, and they looked so soft. Perfect, really. He watched as they parted slightly and her breath eased in and out.
What was he thinking? Kissing Hermione, good grief. She would probably have a critique from some book she had read about the proper way to kiss. No Ron. You’re supposed to put your hand here, Ron. And turn your nose this way, Ron. And did you brush your teeth, Ron?
The whole scenario just made him want to make her shut the hell up. If she would just stop talking then he could run his fingers through her hair and taste her properly.
This was too weird - sitting here watching Hermione’s lips. He knew in the morning he would deny the fantasy. But for now, there was no one else was around. And somehow, here in the dim firelight, it felt not only safe, but perfectly natural.
The clock above the mantel struck midnight. Lucky thing he was a prefect and didn‘t have to worry about anyone else coming to check up on him. He could watch Hermione’s lips all night if he wanted. He thought maybe that was a very good idea.
Percy at 4:00 A.M.
Percy flipped over. He couldn’t sleep and he didn’t really want to. A summer storm pounded against the window of his tiny flat and in the distance there was a gentle roll of thunder. Next to him, Penelope’s body was safely curled, his greatest privilege and his greatest responsibility.
He wished he had a road map for how to navigate life. Everything was complicated. Everything except this. With her in his arms it was simple - no words, no thoughts or fears…only feelings, burning and quenching, like fire and rain.
Percy placed his head on her pillow. Two more hours until dawn. It was strange to hate the sun. His world was flipped. The light in the night and darkness in the day.
Penelope’s eyes fluttered open and she reached for him. “Is it morning?”
“Not yet,” he whispered, pulling her close. “Go back to sleep.”
She tucked her head under his chin, smiling slightly as she closed her eyes. He held her and watched the clock tick away every precious second.
James at 8:00 A.M.
The sun spilled through the curtains of the little cottage and James tried to be quiet as he removed his boots. Lily and Harry were asleep. He padded to the bedroom in his socks and stopped at the door.
They lay together, bathed in morning light, Harry’s tiny hand still clutched at Lily’s breast. James smiled. I’ll share her with you, mate. She’s the best gift I can give you.
He slid quietly down to the floor, praying that they wouldn‘t move. They were perfect. And Harry, he was a miracle. A miracle they had made with their love. He didn’t know how long he would live or if he could keep the darkness at bay, but somehow it didn’t matter. He’d made Harry with Lily. He had won.
Carefully James memorized the two of them together, willing time to stand still. This moment, forever. This was his eternity.
Arthur at 4:00 P.M.
Arthur popped into the kitchen of the Burrow and was surprised not to find Molly pulling out her pots and pans. True, she had not been expecting him but he felt a rush of panic. Where was she?
He moved into the parlor and sighed. She was sitting in her chair by the fire, fast asleep over her knitting. He covered her with a blanket and tiptoed back to the kitchen. Pouring himself a glass of milk, he sat at the long table and looked around. The chairs didn’t match. The paint was chipped. He had to fix that cabinet door.
On the wall a yellowed piece of paper showed nine simply drawn figures. Red crayon had marked each head with tufts of hair and happy smiles. Ginny had written ‘My Family’ in a childish scrawl above the picture and someone had enchanted the picture so that the figures waved happily. Strange that that enchantment had lasted so long. The picture must be almost ten years old.
Arthur sighed. How the years had flown. Seven children and now they were almost all grown. All so different, all so beautiful. He wished he could keep them protected, keep them little and safe, but he knew that couldn’t be. He had to cast them out into an imperfect world and let them try and fly.
Funny what this life had been. Not exactly what he had expected. He and Molly had laughed a lot over the past years. Sweet Molly Prewett, full of passion and laughter, and huge brown eyes that still made him catch his breath.
Tomorrow he would paint this kitchen. He had to get it ready for the time when Molly’s children all came home.
Albus at 11:50 P.M.
Albus Dumbledore closed the door on the tiny room where the Headmaster sleeps. He unbuttoned the dark velvet robe and pulled a striped cotton nightshirt from his wardrobe. The fire jumped a bit as the coverlet on his bed rose up and turned itself down. Slippers shuffled from beneath his wingback chair and a mug of hot chocolate appeared magically on his bedside table. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he sniffed at the steaming cup. He sipped, then licked his lips before returning the mug to the table, picking up instead a lone picture.
“Hello Lizzie,” he said.
The black and white picture showed a pretty blonde haired witch. She smiled and tipped her head as if she was listening.
Albus pulled a handkerchief from the pocket of the nightshirt. “Don’t move dear, You’re just getting a bit dusty, like me you know. There now. That’s better. Pretty as always, pretty as a picture.”
The picture sneezed.
“Bless you, dear.”
The handkerchief seemed to dissolve and he gently placed the frame back on the nightstand.
“I wish you could see the boy, Liz. Ah…maybe you do. We’ll have to see about that won’t we? At any rate, he’s a fine boy. Fifteen now and doing well. He’s a bit angry with me at the moment…yes. I’m trying to make him ready, you know, but it is…complex. What would you tell me to do, Lizzie? I know one thing you’d say…you’d say, ‘you’re not God, Albus.’ You’d be right too.” He sighed. “I really miss you Liz. I wish you were here to tell me I’m an old loon…Lizzie? Lizzie?
The picture was asleep.
Albus chuckled. “Ah my Lizzie, wise girl, you are…” He kicked off the slippers and slid down into the bed. The candles extinguished and the fire dimmed.
“I’ll be with you soon, dear one,” he murmured. “It’s not long now.”
The coverlet spread over him and tucked in at the sides.
Harry at dawn
Harry woke to a beam of reddish light dancing across his canopy. What time was it? It was way too early to be awake on a Saturday. The only sounds were Ron’s snores and the room felt heavy with the sleep of five teenage boys. It must be quite a sunrise to pierce the curtains in such a way. Harry sat up and quietly stole to the window seat. It was going to be a fine spring day. Already he could feel a warmth at the window and there was a smell of green summer in the air. He looked toward the forbidden forest, expecting to see a thestral soar above the trees, but nothing came. The forest looked still and peaceful.
Something was moving, though, not a thestral but a flash of brightness against the red sunrise. He had to look twice to make sure he saw it right. It was Ginny Weasley, flying around on a school broom at the crack of dawn. What did she think she was doing? He had half a mind to go wake up Ron so he could see this. But something held him back. She was having such fun.
He watched her for a moment and couldn’t help but smile. He knew what that felt like, to feel free like that. She twisted and curled through the air. She was a pretty good flyer. She held her arms out from the broom and sailed by, her eyes closed and her hair streaming against the crimson sky. She looked so alive.
There was something in Harry that had never erased the image of the little girl unconscious on the cold stone floor. But as he watched her flying in the sunrise, he realized he had to let go of that little girl. Ginny had become someone else, someone alive and fearless and…um…beautiful.
What do you know, little Ginny Weasley, looking beautiful. Harry laughed to himself and rested his chin in his hands. It was fun to watch Ginny fly, she looked so happy.
He felt happy too. The day was just beginning. He had all the time in the world.