Tic-Toc, Tic-Toc, Tic-Toc.
Tic-Toc, Tic-Toc, Tic-Toc.
I can feel it in my very bones.
That always there echo (Tic-Toc, Tic-Toc, Tic-Toc), resounding through bone and marrow... Mocking, taunting, just out of reach (You can hear me, but you'll never catch me, stop me!) always with that tic-toc'ing laugh.
Dumbledore once told me, one of those days when I was musing on ways to change the past, that trying to stop time is like catching water in your hands – trying to rewind, however, is like trying to use your feet to do the same. You might get a drop or two, but you'll never get the ocean.
At the time, I didn't really understand what he was trying to say, but now I do. As I sit at your bedside, having exhausted all possibilities of rewinding, stopping, slowing, and having not one of them work, I understand. Time and Fate are but fickle masters, never really exerting their powers, but never letting anyone cross the line.
I appear to have no choice but to watch you die a slow and painful death, for no cure has been found, and no matter the begging, pleading, bargaining or threathening I do, time does not seem to slow. I have prayed, for the first time since I was but a child, but the ailment just seems to be eating you, piece for piece, body and soul.
"Ron died, a few days ago." My voice sounded as tired as I felt. I felt my age, I felt old – I didn't look it. I looked my usual, fresh, twentyfive years. I'd been looking twentyfive for over a century – the perks of being a metamorphmagus. When a being is made up of Transfigurational magic, there isn't much that can damage it. I kept up a facade of age in public – no matter how adored a hero is, there will always be persecution if he doesn't age. "I thought he was too damned stupid to, actually. Visited his grave, yesterday. Asked if he remembers, us, them, Hogwarts, you. Told him what we said, day before yesterday – that we agreed he was too stupid to die. Guess we were wrong, huh?"
You wheezed a laugh – even that hurt more than it helped. You couldn't talk much – the sickness made sure of it. You'd been sick for years, now, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. The problem with being practically immortal, and extremely powerful to boot, is that your loved ones all disappear. They die, they tire, they just stop caring. You've held my heart for a hundred years – will for a hundred more, probably. It's not easy, finding love when you're a legend.
You look so old. The power of magic – keeping you young. However, when the ailment, this festering cancer took hold, it started with your magic. We didn't notice, at first – of course we didn't, why should we? A few more gray hairs, a few more wrinkles, a bit more unsteady hands. Then, you started being unable to perform some complicated magics – wards, and such. We didn't think much of that, either – even Dumbledore faltered when he grew old. But when even Accio and Scourgify became to much for you to manage...
I carefully took hold of your hand – they were looking sickly yellow, the stark white of the hospitals overhead lights casting shadows, making them seem frailer, more wrinkled than they possibly could be.
"Harry... Love. Not... long left... now." You drew a rattling breath. "Promise... me." You could barely get the words out between shudders and sighs, but I recognized the determine set of your eyebrows, watered down as it may be. "You... move... on. Don't refuse... happ'ness... just 'cause... o' me." I nodded, tears filling my eyes.
"I promise, Neville Frank Longbottom. I promise I will try, that I will remember the happy times, and not dwell upon the unchangeable. I promise you, love." I didn't want to do it – I wanted to swear to never forget, to never love another. But my dear Neville, you never could bear seeing anyone alone, you did all you could to make everyone happy.As soon as I'd said my part, a brief smile touched your lips, your eyes closed, and your face seemed to smooth out.
I tenderly laid his hands on his chest, and stood back. With a few careful movements, both with and without wand, he was dressed in battlerobes, the colour of flames. His wand lay beneath his folded hands. He looked wise, regal – just as he did before the cancer.
I stepped back, bowed a deep, smooth bow, and on the straightening, my back ever so slightly hunched, my hair grew, long and grey, a beard appeared just as long and grey, my hands turned gnarled and my skin wrinkled and blemished. I saluted him, a traditional Wizard's Honour – wand on heart.
The seemingly old man turned on his heels, left a room in which he'd been sitting for ten hours – he knew it'd be the last time. The nurses and healers stood by, a solemn hospital already mourning the death of a hero, one of the few left alive. The man stepped out into the bustling life of London, the ordinary inhabitants not seeing more than the obvious – a tired old man.
The very next day, a new stone appeared in Godric's Hollow, a bluish green, clashing horribly with the blueish black by its side, yet not looking out of place.
Neville Frank Longbottom-Potter
Hero, Lover, Husband.
Timid, Modest, Brave.
"For Time and Fate is but fickle masters,
and rewinding time is like catching the ocean."