Pairing: Harry/Draco, but it's not the focus. Others if you really squint.
Warning(s): Dark-ish; minor character death.
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 6 x 200 = 1200 words
Summary: It ends tonight. Six connected double drabbles, a tea-stained doily, and a chance meeting. Porn is strictly implied. ;)
Note: Title is a lyric from Auld Lang Syne.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
"My love is like a red, red rose."
Ginny traces a haphazard pattern across a quilted doily. There is a tea stain on the doily. It's been there since the third year of the war. Ginny's fingertips avoid the stain as though on purpose. She tucks a stray lock of hair behind her ear and touches the edge of the doily again, lightly, lest it break and crumble in her hands.
Ginny's brother is smiling. He's always smiling these days, even when he sits near the window, watching the Muggles outside. His eyes are always sad when he does that, but still he smiles, even though he looks like he's about to cry. That's silly, because boys don't cry. Ginny doesn't remember when Percy first started smiling like that, but that's okay, because her love is like a red, red rose.
Neville's mum looks up from her brightly coloured wrappers, a question in her eyes.
"My love is like a red, red rose," Ginny assures her, nodding.
There are sixteen people here -- it's starting to get quite crowded -- but every one of them is alone.
It's past eleven o'clock on the closed ward, and visiting hours are over.
The fog wraps itself around everything, and it's impossible to see further than a few feet in any direction. Even Moody's magical eye is no help. He takes it out and shakes it, to little effect. Wherever Lord Voldemort goes, the Dementors follow, with their fog and their silence that turns to anxious whispers in the night.
Kingsley paces across the clammy stone bricks of the walkway. The fog hugs his powerful frame tight enough to break, but Kingsley doesn't seem to notice. He mutters something, but makes no effort to repeat it. Like the rest, he is only trying to remind himself that he's still alive.
Tonks looks like a harassed mother of four. She is wearing a hat in the shape of a fruit bowl. It covers all of her hair, but Tonks keeps adjusting it with a preoccupied face. A large rose broche adorns the collar of her pea coat. It gleams red in the dim lamplight, reminding everyone of why they have come.
There are five people here -- they wish there were more -- but every one of them is alone.
A howl pierces the fog, its sound at once delicate and grating.
The Dark Lord does not celebrate his birthday today. Tom Riddle died on Hallowe'en many years ago; it would not do to celebrate the birthday of a corpse. Besides, Tom Riddle had been a half-blood, unworthy of celebration. When this is all over, the Dark Lord will select an appropriately significant date to celebrate his birthday. Perhaps he will choose the boy's birth date... or perhaps, his death date.
Voldemort's snort of laughter is soft, and yet it echoes in the stone corners, mocking. He rises and steps over the snake's motionless tail. There is a statue in front of him, a woman with empty eyes and a stone rose in her hand. There is dried blood on the grey petals, but the Dark Lord does not remember to whom the blood belongs.
The howl is distant, but audible. "What's got Fenrir so excited, Nagini?"
The snake is silent. She has been peaky of late, her movements slower, her gaze lethargic. Nagini is an unusual animal, but she is mortal, like all else.
There are two creatures here -- a snake and an abomination -- but each of them is alone.
The walls shake. The hall's doors crumble into dust.
Fenrir Greyback is not excited; he is dying. His howl is not rage, no. He cannot rage; the pain is too great. The Wolfsbane Potion is quite harmless when a werewolf takes it whilst in human form. To a transformed werewolf, the potion means a world of anguish, especially if ingested. A particularly potent brew kills the beast.
Snape has spent the past six months carefully preparing for this night. Or so he's told the others. The Order types were quite adamant: no illegal magic. It's not "our way", they said. Snape sneers as he watches Greyback thrash about in the mud. Their way would have seen Snape filling every puddle in this cursed forest with Wolfsbane.
When cast with a clear mind, the Imperius Curse is strong enough to penetrate even a werewolf's natural barrier against magic. Snape made sure his mind was clear tonight. The rest was a matter of speed -- and now, time. Besides, there aren't any witnesses: Lupin is transforming harmlessly at Spinner's End, thanks to Wolfsbane.
Snape is alone. The Order's rose, too, must have its thorn.
Greyback gives a last strangled yelp and stills, his paws folded under him, his back forever arched.
Harry wishes he could say goodbye to more than just Malfoy, but time runs short. Malfoy's mouth is so close, and Harry turns aside. It's stupid, really, considering everything else, but...
"I'm not kissing you."
"Sure about that, Potty? It could be your last chance--"
Harry kisses him, and it's brilliant, and not enough. Harry never thought this would feel good with anyone except Ginny. But Ginny is not much more than a ghost, and there are no roses here, and there is no time, and Harry hopes he will remember this kiss when he dies.
If he dies. If.
He runs towards the doors without looking back. Malfoy can take care of himself -- of that, Harry is certain.
Moody is shouting for him to hurry up. Ron and Hermione are gone, and Harry is relieved: they must have left with Grawp, just as he told them to. Tonks drops her wand with a shout and rolls aside. Kingsley and Moody lift her up, there is a loud crack, and Harry is alone.
Voldemort stalks out, long cloak dragging in the ashes.
"So this is where it ends," he whispers, his inhuman face gleeful.
This isn't murder.
Rhoda Finnigan and her son are standing on the same corner where Rhoda met her husband six years ago. She doesn't remember how her husband died; she only remembers the funeral and the sea of roses. Sometimes, she recalls a burst of green light, but it's too dreamlike.
It calms Rhoda to be here this night, away from the clink of champagne glasses and pointless resolutions. Tipsy laughter dances through the air, and then the fog lifts. Rhoda blinks at the swinging lamp of the streetlight above.
A young man stumbles past her, holding a long, tapered stick in his hand -- one of those plastic horns, no doubt. His round glasses are askew beneath a messy black fringe. He seems to be looking for something, and Rhoda grips her son's hand.
The man ambles further down the street, and Rhoda sees another man -- tall, blond, dressed in black -- emerge from the shadows ahead. They disappear before Rhoda can blink, like magic.
Somewhere, a cannonade of bells is counting to twelve, almost mournfully. Rhoda is glad she's not alone. She puts her arm round her son's shoulders, pulls him close.
"Happy New Year, Seamus."
"Happy New Year, Mummy."
... aaaand Happy New Year, everybody! Be safe, be merry, and have lots of fun, whether you're partying it up, hanging out on LJ, or turning in early!
Much love, and I'll see you on the flip side.