Plenty of Time
Harry Potter's first night of being sixteen years old had not been a pleasant one. Unable to sleep, he had spent about five hours as a captive audience for Ron's usual snoring and sleep-talking. Although some of the things his best friend had muttered would have been very valuable to people like Fred and George, at some point around five in the morning, Harry decided he might as well go downstairs and wait for the rest of the Burrow to wake up and begin the day.
Padding silently into the kitchen, Harry surveyed the aftermath of yesterday's party. It had been supposedly a small affair, with a few people from Hogwarts and others from the Order of the Phoenix, but as was evident from the state of the kitchen, the small affair had turned into quite a big, decidedly noisier one. Plates and glasses took up nearly all the available space, as did wrapping paper, withered balloons and streamers. Furniture had been moved, Mr Weasley's records lay disorganised near the player, and the carpets in the living room looked as though they had seen better days.
He smiled; Strangely, a lot of his memories of the previous night seemed to involve Ginny in some way. She had rescued him from an awkward conversation with Lavender Brown, the primary topic of which had been his reasons for not continuing Divination next year.
"Hello, Lavender. How are you? Oh, good. You look nice in that top . . . Harry, have you met my brother, Bill?"
She had then roped him into helping her set up a betting pool among their friends as to who would be the next victim of Fred and George. Seamus had already spent a distressing two minutes as a flamingo, and Hermione had taken up residence near the kitchen in a bid to prevent the twins contaminating anything else with their merchandise.
"Whoops, seems like you're out of the running, Neville; Professor Lupin just left. Are you sure you want to do that, Ernie? You know nothing gets past Mad-Eye. Ron, can you go and get Hermione away from that door? She's putting the whole game in jeopardy."
Yes, Harry thought. He had had a very good time, indeed.
Harry poured himself a glass of water and wondered around, clearing up half-heartedly in a manner that only required moving things around to a place where they could be properly put away or disposed of. involved moving the mess into a more organised arrangement. When he had cleared a small-ish space on the table, he sat down and waited for the rest of the house to stir. Looking at his watch, he realised he might be in for a along wait; it was only quarter to six in the morning.
A sudden thought struck him, as sudden thoughts often did at six in the morning:. Sirius would have enjoyed the party just as much as Harry had. His godfather would have been egging Remus to stay longer. He would have been placing bets with the best of them. Perhaps he would have even joined Mr Weasley in bout of impromptu singing once they had gotten down to the furthest reaches of his record collection.
Suddenly, Harry felt somewhat guilty for having such a good time.
There was a soft stumbling behind him, and Harry jumped. He then berated himself for being stupid. It was probably only someone coming downstairs. There had once been a time, he remembered, when he hadn't started at the smallest sound.
Ginny appeared in the doorway, looking rather unsteady and dishevelled, squinting in the weak sunlight that streamed through the kitchen windows.
"Morning," Harry said, watching her carefully in case she fell over. Ginny did not answer, but waved a hand in his general direction. After manoeuvring the tricky obstacle course that was the mess in the kitchen, she reached the table and collapsed into a chair next to Harry.
"You all right?" he asked. Ginny planted her elbows on the table and her head between her hands.
"I reckon that eighth bottle of Butterbeer may have been a mistake," she admitted, and Harry tried not to snigger too loudly.
"Water?" Harry offered her his glass.
"Oh, you're a star," Ginny said gratefully, and promptly downed the entire contents. As she tilted her head back Harry caught himself watching that part of her neck where her chin ran down into her collar bone. That was odd, he thought, shaking his head slightly. Hastily, he put it down to being tired and sleep deprived. It was funny how, in the early hours of the morning, things such as the fact that she was Ron's little sister and also that she was going out with Dean Thomas, did not really seem to matter as much.
Putting down the glass, Ginny did some head-shaking herself and tossed him a smile.
"Good night last night?" She crooked an eyebrow cheekily. Harry looked away and made a vague noise, taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose to make it seem like he was busy doing something. He could feel Ginny staring at him, but she didn't say anything more on the subject. After a moment's silence she queried, "Are you hungry? I'm starved."
Harry put his glasses back on and nodded. "Yeah, same."
"OK," Ginny said, putting her hands flat on the table, "you find the pumpkin juice, and I'll find something to eat."
Harry had no problem locating the bottle with an orange label in one of the cold cupboards (kept so by Cooling Charms). However, he soon discovered that the bottle was empty.
"No more pumpkin juice left. Any luck?" he asked Ginny who was opening cupboards and rummaging through them.
"Not much more," she replied. "Looks like we'll have to go for groceries soon; there's nothing left after last night!" She closed one cupboard and opened another. "There're some gooseberries, but I think Mum might want those to make ice cream . . . Oh, hang on," she said, reaching in, "there's a bit of your birthday cake left."
"That was good," said Harry, coming to stand next to her.
"Um, it doesn't really look so good now," Ginny decided, inspecting the cake from all angles. "I think it's gone off. Sorry."
"Never mind then," Harry said as he watched her tip the cake into the bin.
"There's bread," Ginny told him. "We could always do some good old fashioned toast and tea."
"Fair enough. I don't think your mum would be too pleased if we started eating cake for breakfast."
"Too right, she'd have a fit," Ginny agreed, bringing out the bread and putting it on the counter. "Now, the question is: how are we going to toast it? You can do magic now, but . . ."
". . . I don't know any charms to toast bread," Harry shrugged apologetically. "At least, none that don't have a small chance of setting your house on fire."
Ginny folded her arms and tilted her head to the side. Harry leaned on the kitchen counter and pushed his glasses further up his nose. Both of them stared intently at the small loaf of brown, whole-grain bread sitting innocently before them, trying to think of a way to convert it into toast.
"I suppose there's nothing wrong with plain bread." Harry said after a while, but a moment later, Ginny had an idea.
"I've got it!" she exclaimed and without pausing to explain, she dived down onto her hands and knees and swung open the doors of a cabinet under the sink. "Right then," she said in a business-like tone and stuck her head in.
"What are you looking for?" Harry asked, squatting next to her.
"Toaster!" came Ginny's voice, and she crawled further in.
"You've got one?" asked Harry, surprised, as Ginny's knees crossed into the cupboard.
"Dad had one ages ago," Ginny said, her voice echoing from inside the cabinet. She was now about a yard into the dark space and Harry was beginning to wonder how big the inside of the cupboard really was. "He thought it was such a lark, making toast by putting slices of bread into a square machine. My brothers soon got fed up of waiting so long for their toast though and mum made him get rid of it. If it's going to be anywhere, it's going to be in here. Aha!"
Blowing dust out of her face, Ginny soon emerged backwards with an old toaster under her arm and Harry helped her haul it up next to the bread. They found a knife and cut four slices of bread, after which Ginny said "What now?"
"Well," said Harry, peering round the toaster, "first we have to plug it in."
"Nah." Ginny waved a hand dismissively. "Dad's tinkered about with it enough, it must work on its own."
"Yeah, you're probably right. In that case, we should just stick these in here . . ." He popped each slice into a slot, "and push this down."
Ginny blinked. "Is that it?"
"Yeah, now we wait for three minutes."
"Huh, that was easy."
Harry couldn't help laughing as they both sat down again. The toaster made a soft whirring sound and the odd pop, a small sign that it was no longer an ordinary Muggle toaster. Ginny got up to get plates, finding there were none clean after the previous nights celebrations. She busied herself washing a couple, and without anything to distract him, Harry was once again thinking of the party.
He thought of all the things that had made it so enjoyable, the very same things that his godfather could not have been there to experience. How long would it be, he wondered, until he was the one who wasn't able to attend life's party? If the prophecy was true, there was a fair chance that it would not be long at all.
Suddenly he found a mug of steaming tea in front of him and the youngest Weasley sitting beside him. Of course, seeing as he hadn't even noticed she was coming to sit next to him, it was even more unexpected when she fixed him with a shrewd gaze and asked him quite bluntly, "What's wrong?"
Harry looked down at the table. It wasn't just that he didn't quite know how to explain; he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to explain even if he could. Ginny was staring at him so he had to look at her, and it was clear by the look on her face that she wasn't going to speak before he did.
Well, Harry thought, it's worth a try. She had made him tea, after all, and if there was anyone who would understand, it was Ginny.
"I don't suppose you ever get the feeling that there's no time left?" he asked.
"Actually, I get it every night I have a Potions essay due the next morning," Ginny said, taking a sip of tea, "but somehow I don't think that's quite what you mean."
"No," Harry murmured. "I've just got this really terrible feeling that time's running out. I mean, you know . . . Sirius and Cedric and all those other people you hear about in the papers every day. Their time's already gone, finished . . . they're never coming back."
Ginny seemed about to say something, but Harry carried on, finding it hard to stop.
"I can't stop thinking about what would happen if any more of us died. There are so many things we'd never get to do or see or feel. Look at Sirius, he died so long before he should have. Twelve years in Azkaban, and then he gets murdered by the most appalling witch in existence. I wouldn't wish something like that on anyone. I mean, it just doesn't seem fair."
Just then he realised how ridiculous he must have sounded. Ginny had once again fallen silent and Harry ran his finger around the rim of his mug. "There just doesn't seem to be any time left."
Ginny looked as though she didn't quite understand, and was trying to fit what he had said in with everything else she knew. Of course she wouldn't understand, Harry thought, she didn't know anything about the prophecy and it was certainly better that way.
However, not knowing the whole story didn't stop her shifting her chair and pulling him into a hug. All of a sudden, scraping up all his feelings and laying them out in front of her seemed more than worth it.
Wondering what in the name of magic that pinching sensation was doing between his lungs, Harry hugged Ginny back. When she spoke, he could feel the buzz of her voice against his neck.
"You stupid twat," she muttered thickly, and Harry breathed a single laugh. Verbal abuse or not, it was still nice. "What are you doing? Why are you thinking about Sirius dying?"
She pulled away a bit with her arms on his shoulders so she could look him in the eye.
"I'll tell you how the rest of the world thinks of him. They think of him as being innocent (thanks to you). I'll tell you how You-Know-Who thinks of him. He thinks of him as that bastard who took a good few of his valuable Death Eaters with him.
"I remember him as someone who was on our side, who was good despite growing up with a family like his. And you should remember him as your godfather. You know, your dad's best friend, someone who went down fighting for all he was worth. However young he died and however many years he spent on that awful island, he did whatever he could to take care of you."
Harry supposed it was useless. All the things that had been filling his head were being pushed out by the combined effects of Ginny's words and arms as they each encircled him.
"It doesn't matter how much time you have. The only thing that matters is that you use however much you've got left to do what you think is best. What do you think you and Ron and Hermione have been doing since you were eleven, Harry? A lot more than most people, I'll tell you that.
"Besides," she added, "what are you worrying about? We've got plenty of time left. I know we have."
Harry didn't know what to say. Before he could think of something, there was a soft 'ding' to their left and four slices of toast leapt out of the toaster to land on the kitchen counter.
"There's the toast," Harry said with a small smile and Ginny laughed.
"Come on then," she said, getting up. "If you're going to live out the rest of your time, you should at least start with breakfast."
As they retrieved their toast and went in search of butter and jam, Harry decided he agreed completely with Ginny. He was a stupid twat. More importantly, he may have been The Boy Who Lived and she may have been going out with Dean, but just as she'd said: they had plenty of time.