The Sugar Quill
Author: Mrs Weasley (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Later, Soon, Now  Chapter: Default
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Summary: Three internal monologues during the summer post-GOF - whose thoughts are they? (No prizes for guessing!)

I haven't stated whose POV each piece is from, but I think you will be able to spot the speakers fairly easily...

The title comes from the trio of songs, "Later, Soon, Now", in the musical "A Little Night Music" by Stephen Sondheim. This is not a song-fic as such, because I haven't used the themes of the songs, only the titles. (If you do know the music, though, isn't the cello music in "Later" amazing?)

Disclaimer: These characters belong to JK Rowling. "Later, Soon, Now" belongs to Stephen Sondheim. Not me.

Warning: Starts off fairly light-hearted, then gets dark. Very dark.

* * * * *

Later.

I'll have to do some thinking about the future, later.

Mum's always going on about the future. It's one of her little spiels she gives us every now and then - particularly during the summer when she's sorting out our stuff for Hogwarts. The theme goes - work hard, study for your exams, don't get into any trouble, think about your future...

OK, so the future's getting closer all the time. I realised that when Fred and George started worrying about what they were going to do after Hogwarts. I think running a joke shop is probably the perfect future for them - certainly can't see them working at the Ministry! They've only got one year left now, so they probably should be worrying about the future...and so will I...but later.

After all, my future is still three years away. It's true that Hermione's already panicking about the OWLs, but I can revise for them next spring, can't I? I'm not going to spend a whole year swotting and working in the library - like some people I could mention, because then I wouldn't have time for Quidditch, or hanging out with Harry, or playing chess, or...anything else.

When I've been alone, though, this summer, I've found myself wondering what sort of future any of us are going to have if Voldemort really does come back to power. He means business, that's obvious after what happened to Harry during the Third Task - and what happened to Cedric. Dumbledore seems to think that we'll all have to help in the fight against Voldemort, and my dad's been saying the same thing. I've heard the stories - I've seen the Dark Mark - I know what it was like when Voldemort had power before - I know Dumbledore's right and we should be preparing, organising ourselves, so we'll be ready when he comes back, later.

And if - when - we do defeat Voldemort - what happens then? I do wonder about that. Will all of us make it through to the other side? Where will I live? What can I do? I'd like to be an Auror, or play Quidditch - that would be cool, but with my luck I'll end up doing something much more ordinary. Whatever I'll end up doing, I sometimes imagine myself when I'm older, and I see myself visiting Fred and George's joke shop, maybe going to see Charlie in Rumania, hanging out with the dragon guys, maybe travelling the world, later. I can just imagine Mum complaining how empty The Burrow is now that we've all left home, and I can imagine us all coming back for huge family parties at Christmas, or Mum's birthday. Funny to think that later, most of us will probably be showing up with kids of our own. I can just picture Mum as a doting grandma...

I do wonder what Harry will do later, when all this Voldemort stuff is over. He really hates being famous - I hadn't realised till just lately how much he hates it. Maybe he'll become a recluse, or go off travelling...I wouldn't mind going with him, if he likes.

I can just picture what Hermione will do later. She's bound to get to the top of whatever career she wants. She could write books - or teach - or invent things - or maybe she'll do it all. When she starts talking about what she plans to do, she gets all fired up with enthusiasm, and her eyes start shining, and you feel as though anything's possible.

Maybe - maybe I should resolve to get down to some work. But I've got a whole year - plenty of time to swot up my subjects, work for OWLs, think of ways of defeating Voldemort. Maybe I should owl Hermione and tell her about my resolution. She's bound to have good ideas for everything - from a revision timetable to an anti-Dark Arts spell. Wonder if Mum would let her come and stay so she can help me. Wonder if she'd bring those blue dress robes. She looked good in them. I should really tell her that, she'd probably still like to hear it.

I'll tell her.

Later.

* * * * *

Soon.

There are going to be changes soon. I suppose it's inevitable that they will come. I'll be sixteen in September, although it seems like only yesterday that I was packing my trunk for my first term at Hogwarts.

I've been thinking back, this summer, about the good times and the bad times.

Bad times - well, I don't have to think back too far to shiver at certain memories. The events of last term have put my other troubles in perspective. No one - especially Harry, who's already been through so much - should have had to endure the nightmare he did in that graveyard - with Voldemort - and the Death Eaters - and Cedric -

The things I know about what happened to him are appalling, but I know he still hasn't told me everything - and listening to the story could never be half so dreadful as experiencing it.

I've woken up, some nights, sweating and thinking of those long, long minutes after Harry disappeared into the maze. We waited, and dreaded what might be happening - but the truth was far worse than our imaginings.

Compared with that day, other bad times don't seem so bad. My first weeks at Hogwarts when barely anyone spoke to me. The search for the Philosopher's Stone, seeing Ron knocked unconscious and Harry going alone to face who-knew-what. My second year when I ended up Petrified for weeks. None of those things seem very significant now. Not when I know that much worse things could have happened - and may happen again - soon.

But the good times at Hogwarts - friendship - learning - it's been like coming out of a chrysalis, stretching my wings, stretching my mind. I was a Muggle-born girl who knew so little about the magical world. Every year I've felt myself growing in power and knowledge. There's so much I want to do, and soon - in just a few short years - I'll be ready to go out there and do it. I've grown a lot more confident in myself, too - I've realised that academic achievement isn't quite everything.

If you had told me back in my first year that during my time at Hogwarts I was going to fly on a Hippogriff - face death with The Boy Who Lived - go to a ball with a Bulgarian Quidditch star - turn into a cat - make friends with an escaped convict - travel in time - I would have stared, and laughed in disbelief. Yet all those things have happened to me, and more is bound to happen, soon.

The danger is returning soon. We all know it. We sense the urgency in the air. If we get through it - when we get through it - I'm bursting with so many plans. I want to succeed. I want to discover new things. I want to protect the people I care about.

And - when I'm not planning how to change to world or fend off the Dark Arts - a part of me still insists on being fifteen-going-on-sixteen and fretting about whether the person I write about in my diary likes me in the same way I like him. I think he does, but I'm still waiting for him to say it, or show it, or just do something about it!

Perhaps he will.

Soon.

* * * * *

Now.

It's coming now. I can feel him getting closer all the time. Since the moment I left that graveyard, pulling Cedric's body behind me, I have never completely stepped out of the nightmare of that day.

By day, I push it into the background, but when I look in the mirror, I can see the shadow lurking at the back of my eyes; the wariness that never goes away and makes me look older.

At night, the nightmare is unleashed once more, and I can hear the sounds of that graveyard - the hisses and shrieks of the Death Eaters, baying for my blood like Voldemort's grotesque hounds. I can remember exactly how Wormtail screamed as he stared at the spurting stump of his wrist. And, in the moment before I wake and stare sweating into the darkness, I always see those red eyes...

Now, I know some of the things Dumbledore did not want to tell me, back in my first year. He was gentle with me, the eleven-year-old who had just seen Voldemort on the back of Quirrell's head. He spoke to me softly about my parents' death - he knew I wasn't ready for the whole truth - he did not say too much about the full horror that had been Voldemort and his Death Eaters, though he must have known even then that if Voldemort regained his strength, I would have to face...all this.

I lie here and wonder how many others will die before he and I come face to face for the last time. How many will die unmarked and unaware, like Cedric? How many others will die screaming in agony? What has he been doing since I left that graveyard? While I complete holiday essays about Transfiguration, does he occupy himself thinking of new ways to kill me?

My best comfort and my worst fears centre around my friends. Without them, I wouldn't be here now, and I am convinced I will need their help again if Voldemort is ever to be defeated. I know how lucky I am to have supporters like Ron and Hermione, Hagrid and Dumbledore, Sirius, Professor Lupin, all the Weasleys...I need them all, but I am afraid for them too. Even remembering Cedric's death is not as bad as imagining what might happen if Voldemort tries to hurt me by harming them.

Every day this summer, I have woken up and wondered; is this the day of reckoning? Has he chosen a date for our next meeting? When will we be face to face again? It could be today - or tomorrow - or three weeks from now - or three years from now - I have no way of telling. So I have to be ready every day.

I have to be ready.

Now.

THE END

* * * * *

 

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