I was dreaming when I wrote this;
Forgive me if it goes astray.
But when I woke up this morning
Coulda sworn it was Judgment Day.
Harry Potter sat alone in his London flat, a half-empty bottle of Firewhisky and a glass at his side, staring into the last embers of his dying fire. There had been another battle that day, this one in a small Muggle village in Scotland, just north of Edinburgh. Harry and his best friend Ron were in the Auror training program, but with the war in its final, deadly throes, the fact that they were in training actually meant very little. Harry and Ron fought beside Aurors and Order members as equals, rather than apprentices, and for Ron, the stakes were as high as for the others. For Harry, they were higher.
Harry had fought too many battles to count since he had graduated from Hogwarts in June, only a few months before. In every one of them, he had expected to see Lord Voldemort, powerful, arrogant, and ready to defeat Harry, ensuring that the prophecy made nearly two decades prior would be fulfilled in his favor.
Battle after battle had been waged, with victories won and defeats suffered by both sides, and Harry had fought fiercely in every one. He was ready for the Final Battle. Armed with the deadly, ancient magic that would send the spirit of Tom Riddle finally and irrevocably through the veil, Harry had only to wait until the time came and he got his last chance to defeat the Dark Lord.
Surprisingly, Lord Voldemort had never shown himself at the sites of the battles, instead sending his armies of Death Eaters and Dark creatures to wreak their destruction while he remained in his hidden stronghold, issuing orders, but Harry and the others knew, especially now, that it would not be long before Voldemort sought Harry out. Today, in an unknown farming village, the final barrier between the Dark Lord and the Boy-Who-Lived had come down. One hundred seventy-five Muggles had been killed, 5 Aurors, and two Order members – George Weasley…and Albus Dumbledore.
The sky was all purple
There were people running everywhere
Trying to run from the destruction
You know I didn’t even care.
The world had gone into slow motion as Albus Dumbledore had died defending a Muggle family from more than twenty Death Eaters. Concentrating on blocking a powerful curse meant for the youngest child, Dumbledore had been unable to raise a shield strong enough to deflect the seven killing curses sent towards him from as many different directions. He had been the greatest wizard of the age, but he had still been human, still been mortal.
The power that resided in the old Headmaster had never been so evident than when, after being hit by the killing curses, Dumbledore had remained alive for a few moments, long enough to look straight at Harry, who had been barreling towards him and stopped still at his defeat, and had uttered his final words in the dying surge of a life force more powerful than that of any other person on Earth..
“Remember why,” he had said before he sank to the ground, his deep blue eyes open and empty, their twinkle lost forever.
Harry had continued fighting mechanically, throwing powerful hexes and conjuring equally powerful shields over himself and his friends. He had fought over to the unsuspecting Death Eaters who were too busy crowing over Dumbledore’s defeat to notice the aura of power that surrounded Harry as he bound them and left them to be taken by the Aurors. He had fought as George Weasley became the fifth Weasley to die in battle, and when the battle finally ended and the remaining Death Eaters and Dark creatures had fled or been captured, Harry had done his duty in the aftermath. He had snapped the wands of the prisoners, and he had attended to the dead. It had been he who gingerly lifted up the Headmaster, who felt lighter and frailer than Harry would have imagined possible, and taken him back to St. Mungo’s, where his body would be prepared for burial.
Harry had done what he had to do, but his heart felt wooden, and the final words of the Headmaster echoed in his head as he worked.
Cuz they say two thousand zero zero party over
Oops, out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999
As Harry slowly drank his second glass of Firewhisky, his hand shaking as he brought it to his lips, he thought for the thousandth time of Dumbledore’s words. He knew what the old Headmaster had meant. Knowing the despair that his death would certainly cause for Harry, he had used his last remaining breath, a breath no other wizard could have taken, to remind Harry of why they were fighting, why so many had given their lives.
Harry could easily recite the reasons for which they fought. They sacrificed so much so that others would not have to lose what they, themselves, had lost, so that countless families could live normal lives, not fearfully, but in peace. They fought for those they loved, for those they had lost, for those they had never met, and for those that had yet to be born.
How many times had Harry himself said those very words to people who were fast losing hope? Tonight, however, even though he could recite the words, he could no longer feel them in his heart.
A familiar tapping interrupted Harry’s dark thoughts, and he got up slightly unsteadily to let Hedwig in through his lounge window. She had gone off hunting the previous night, but now she had a letter clutched in her beak rather than the mouthful of dead animal Harry had been expecting.
He felt as though he had been doused with ice water as he immediately recognized the spindly handwriting of Albus Dumbledore.
I have instructed Fawkes to see that you receive this letter following my death. Yes, Harry, I am aware, as I sit alone in my office tonight, that my soul will not remain tethered to this body much longer. I am old, Harry, and I have made myself ready.
Do not forget what I told you in your first year as you lay in the hospital wing, having escaped Voldemort for the second of so many times to come…to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. I look forward to seeing those that I have lost in my lifetime on the other side of the veil, Harry. My only regret comes in the fact that I must leave you behind to fight the battle of the age alone.
Upon my death, the final battle of the war will be forthcoming. You are ready, Harry.
Before that final battle, gather your friends to you and remember why we are fighting this war. The power of your love and loyalty to your friends, and theirs to you, will be your greatest strength, for it is a force which Voldemort can neither understand nor harness for himself. This is not a time for mourning, but a time for strengthening, a time for readiness. Do not lose sight of life, Harry, and dedicate your struggle not to those you have lost, but to those who are still living.
As always, my best regards,
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Harry placed the letter gingerly alongside his forgotten glass. The memorial services for Dumbledore, George Weasley, and the five Aurors who had died in the battle would be held on December 29, 1999, two days after their deaths.
Tears ran down Harry’s face as he made the decision to do as Dumbledore had requested and gather his friends, and he knew that it would have to be soon. The old Headmaster, as always, had known exactly what Harry and the rest needed, and right now, they needed to be together.
I was dreaming when I wrote this
So sue me if it goes too fast
But life is just a party
And parties weren’t meant to last.
New Year’s Eve 1999 found Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny sitting close together in the lounge of Harry’s flat, various drinks in their hands. They had begun the night with a toast to the lost. Harry kept the mead and the whisky flowing as they had drunk to Molly and Arthur Weasley, Sirius Black, Minerva McGonagall, Bill Weasley, Remus Lupin, Mundungus Fletcher, Percy Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, George Weasley, and, of course, Albus Dumbledore.
As they finished the toast, Harry had looked around at the people he loved the most. Taking a deep breath, he began, “I got a letter from Professor Dumbledore the night of his death. He had written it two days before the battle, and he knew that it would be his last.”
Tears choking her voice, Ginny said hoarsely, “How?”
Hermione finally smiled a little bit. “Ginny, I learned long ago to stop asking how Professor Dumbledore knew the things that he knew.”
“What did the letter say, Harry?” Ron asked.
“He said that the final battle will come soon after his death,” Harry began, and Ginny gasped slightly as her grip on Harry’s hand tightened. The final battle was Ginny’s greatest fear, for she knew that within it was the possibility that she would lose not only the man that she loved, but the life they had planned together. “It’s OK, Ginny,” Harry comforted her automatically. “I’m ready for it. But that wasn’t the main point of the letter. We all knew that the battle was coming.”
“What else did he say?” Hermione asked.
“He wanted us to gather together, and as he put it, ‘remember why we are fighting.’” Harry didn’t tell the others about Dumbledore’s last words on the field of battle. For some reason, he felt that they were meant to be between Master and Student, between himself and his mentor.
“Voldemort killed our family,” Ron spat, his voice powerfully laced with grief rage.
“He wanted us to fight for the living, not the dead,” Harry continued, his heart aching with pain at the thought of so many lost. This was easier said than done. “He told me once that vengeance and rage are easy emotions to master in dark times, but hope, and love, and loyalty are the powers that will win this war. That is what we have, and what the enemy does not.” His voice grew stronger as he spoke.
“You’re right, Harry,” Ginny said softly, and she swiped gently at the tears running freely down her own face as Ron wiped fiercely at his. Only four of the nine Weasleys remained, and Ron, Ginny, Charlie and Fred felt the loss of their parents and their brothers so acutely that they all wondered how they would get out of bed each morning.
Ron stood suddenly, swaying slightly from the amount of alcohol he had already consumed. He raised his glass defiantly. “To the living and to the dead,” he said, choking only a bit on his words.
”To the living and to the dead,” the others repeated, and all of them, even Hermione (who did not usually approve of drinking), raised their glasses and drank deeply.
War is all around us
My mind says prepare to fight
So if I gotta die
I’m gonna listen to my body tonight.
They say two thousand zero zero, party over
Oops out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.
Harry stood as well, pulling Ginny up and close to him. He buried his face in her sweet-smelling hair, murmuring, “I love you, Ginevra Weasley.” She wrapped her arms around him and held him fiercely in a hug that rivaled on of her mother’s. Next to them, Ron had also pulled Hermione into an embrace, and for a few moments, they all stood silently, arms wrapped around one another, thinking of the future and praying for each other’s lives.
As Harry lowered his head to kiss Ginny, she suddenly giggled softly. “Do you remember our first kiss, Harry?”
For the first time in many days, Harry actually smiled. “How could I forget?” he asked softly, nuzzling her neck, their skins hot from the alcohol and the fire.
“How could any of us forget?” Ron asked rather loudly, taking another gulp of mead. “She started snogging you right in the middle of the common room!”
“Only because you announced to the whole of Gryffindor house that I still fancied him!” Ginny exclaimed.
“I wasn’t saying that you should go neck with him in front of everyone!” Ron retorted.
“Oh, please, Ron, you practically dared me to!” Ginny sipped her wine and grinned wickedly.
Hermione spoke up. “Ginny, it wasn’t exactly like you didn’t want to, was it?” She giggled rather tipsily. Hermione had had less to drink than the rest of them, but she appeared to have a much lower tolerance for the alcohol.
“Oh, we weren’t nearly as bad as you two!” Harry defended. “Head Boy and Girl, indeed. Exactly how many of your ‘patrols’ included a particular broom cupboard?”
Hermione blushed, but Ron grinned broadly, setting his glass on the hearth. “Best nights of my life,” he said as he pulled Hermione to him and began to kiss her.
“To the kitchen, then?” Harry muttered to Ginny, and she nodded her agreement.
Lemme tell you something
If you didn’t come to party
Don’t bother knocking on my door
I’ve got a lion in my pocket
And baby, he’s ready to roar.
“Harry, I’m afraid,” Ginny said when they were alone, the mirth disappearing from her face. “I can’t help it.”
Harry put his arms around her tenderly and whispered, “I’m afraid too, Ginny. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.” He pulled away from her and gently pushed her chin upwards so she was looking directly in his eyes. “Do you know what keeps me going, though?”
She shook her head, her eyes wide.
“This,” Harry answered as he kissed her. “And that,” he continued, motioning towards the closed door, behind which they assumed Ron and Hermione were still having some “alone time.”
“What do mean, Harry?” Ginny asked softly.
“I mean that what keeps me going is knowing that once this thing is over and done, we get to have our own futures. We get to get married, have families. And it’s not just for us, Ginny. It is for everyone else out there in the world, both wizarding and Muggle, that is doing the same thing we are right now, just being together, loving one another.” With that, Harry stopped talking and kissed Ginny with every bit of the passion he felt for her.
For the first time, Ginny did not protest as he picked her up and carried her into his bedroom, right past Ron and Hermione, who were lying together on his sofa, holding one another.
As Harry and Ginny snuggled close on his bed and held each other tightly, kissing as if it would be for the last time, he couldn’t help but think of how few and far between these precious moments had become. With Ginny completing her last year at Hogwarts and Harry so deeply involved in the war, they were only able to snatch moments together during school holidays, when he had visited her once in Hogsmeade, and a couple of times at the school when he had come to meet with Dumbledore. She was everything to him, and as he held her tightly, restraining himself from going further than he should, he vowed that when it was over – when he had ended this, once and for all – he would spend every moment he could in her arms, and give her all of the love he held in his heart.
An hour after midnight on January 1, 2000, Harry and Ginny finally fell asleep, comforted by their closeness, and knowing the end was near.
Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb
We could all die any day
But before I’ll let that happen,
I’ll dance my life away.
Early in the first morning of the New Year, Harry Potter awoke suddenly, his scar burning with a concentrated intensity that told him the time had come. Rising carefully so he would not wake Ginny, Harry pulled on his robes, took his wand from the bedside table, and walked out of his flat, his face burning with determination.
They say two thousand zero zero, party over,
Oops, out of time…