Eternity in an Hour
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related items do not belong to me. Only the Story and its related original ideas and characters are mine. No copyright infringement intended.
Feedback: is always appreciated.
Notes: This is pure angst, but it had to be written. It came in a flash of inspiration and wouldn't let me alone. To be honest, I'm really sure what I think of it.
Huge thanks to Loriel Eris for the beta.
The first time it's not so much her life that flashes before her eyes, but her death. An instant in time distorted before her, so closely she can touch and taste and smell it. She stumbles, everything ending in that instant and she cannot escape, isn't even sure where to begin. Her hair fizzes in front of her eyes and she barely takes the time to push it away.
It's the silence that she notices first. It surrounds her and chokes her, but still she doesn't move. The eerie nothing pervades her thoughts, numbing everything, and all she can do is stare blindly ahead. She's not sure of anything but the haggard breaths ripping through her body.
It wasn't meant to end like this; gathering the dead, remembering those already gone, the gazes flickering over her as they find that extra body in the circle. Nothing is said. She's the only one left standing, what else is there to say?
Slowly her world is crumbling and she isn't sure what comes next, or what would come had her path not already been laid bare before her. Somehow, it's the uncertainty that makes it happen. No one follows her, because no one sees her leave. Their efforts lie elsewhere and their words sound hollow. They don't know. It wasn't theirs to watch, it was hers alone.
She closes her eyes for an instant, but even that's enough for the images to assault her. She sees him again; proud and strong and good and true. Everything he ever was to her she saw in that instant and she knows she will forever after. Realisation came too late for her to stop him and she's not sure she could have. She was more than a spectator, but the final battle wasn't hers to interfere with and in that last instant he was freefalling, eyes glazed and body beaten, but not quite broken. Even in death he stayed together, whilst her world fell apart in her hands.
She glances at them, feeling as if they should be stained red, calloused, and dirty, feeling as if they should show signs of the battle they fought so hard to win. She wonders if victory is always like this, always hollow and empty and painful. She wonders if it always ends without those who made it possible. She wonders if she'll ever think it was worth it.
Her hands are pale white, smooth, and clean. She wants to drag her nails through the mud.
There are footsteps echoing around her and she knows they've figured it out. Amongst the confusion and the pain of their surroundings it's easy to get lost along the way, she thinks that's what happened to her and wonders if this will fix things, help her to find herself again. But, as she clutches the small gold chain to her chest, she knows she'll never be found again. Not until that final moment.
She twists her hands.
The world blurs.
And, slowly, time begins to turn.
The second time everything's different. She watches hollowly as they scurry around her. She knows the end, knows who lives and who dies, but it's only the one that leads her to her goal. She wonders if that's selfish of her and if she should care that it is.
She walks a well worn path, a plan to follow even though she knows she already is, has, or will. A twig snaps to her left and she sees herself, mirrored in the haggardness of her own eyes. She wonders how many turns will take her there, how many times she'll watch this event.
She knows that future scholars, future historians would dream to walk as she is, detached from everything and watching history unfold in her wake. She finds that it doesn't tweak her interest as it should, as it always had. Learning had been her life. It hadn't saved her.
Uncertainty enters her steps when the glow of power surrounds her destination. It keeps her out where it once held her within. No, twice. She finds she's not certain of anything, because she isn't where she ought to be, she hasn't figure out how to be there yet and once again all she does is watch.
Magic surrounds her in various shades of colour and intent, but she ignores it. She wills herself onward, to the edge of that strange bubble, and watches.
She's nothing more than a spectator, but this final battle isn't hers to interfere with. Not yet. But in his last instant she sees him freefalling, eyes glazed and body beaten, but not quite broken. Even in death he stays together, whilst her world crumbles once more.
The fifth time, she wonders why she's here. The power in her hands, it could take her anywhere, anytime, and yet she feels inextricably drawn; powerless to stop it and powerless to stop herself from watching again and again.
She remembers being told once that time pulls at the fabric of your soul. She remembers being told to use it wisely. Power to live and watch and learn, but not to intervene; she remembers she's not supposed to be seen. But she knows it doesn't work that way, they always reach out to her.
She doesn't know how to tell them she's already gone.
The eighth time, she's barely pushed out of the way as a curse flies past her. The flash of blond hair that saved her life is gone. An irritated muttering, a fierce scowl, but still he saves her again, pushing her into the trees.
A moment later, she sees herself, walking numbly along that well worn path. She steps closer. A twig cracks beneath her feet and she sees that reflection of a moment, more than déjà vu, but less, because the sadness and pain in the eyes she sees echo with a sadness that's grown more numb with each turn.
This time she watches herself.
The eleventh time, as her cycle nears its end, she finds an empty room to end and begin again and she knows they're getting closer, knows that they worked it out more than even she had in the beginning. The approaching sound of footsteps, too many to count, is strangely calming as she slips inside time. Each turn brings her closer to the inevitable, closer to the end. She's weary and strangely elated. She wonders if maybe she did find part of herself along the way.
The seventeenth time, she walks right through them. Walks past the faces she knows she should recognise, but she's beyond that. The smallest part of her, the spark that once held her together, made her who she was, wonders how many of those bodies they find at the end were because of her.
The closest always go first; she thinks that's the way it has to be. The triangle broke a long time ago and she wonders if that's when she really started to fade away. He wasn't the strongest in many ways, she knows, but he was brave and kind and she remembers the love that remained long after soft kisses and gentle caresses became friendly hugs. She was left behind, they were both left behind. Now she's alone.
A commanding tone catches part of her attention, but it's all too brief and she remembers he was once bumbling and frightened of his own shadow. She also remembers him lying alone and still in that final walk back to the castle. He's silent now, so maybe that was her fault, but she doesn't look back at him. She remembers the boy, but it was the man who was once her friend and she won't watch him die as well.
There's a flash of pink hair that she remembers seeing the first time it ends, or perhaps that's where it began. She remembers it; a flicker of pink above a face still and peaceful, but death isn't meant to be that bright, she remembers thinking absently, and it had dulled into brown.
Too many friends, too many voices, and its then that she realises she is truly lost, because she finds she doesn't care.
There isn't enough of her left.
The final time, she thinks she should see fireworks. She thinks the battle between good and evil should not contain shades of grey. She knows it will never end without that charcoal. Perhaps that would be better.
She's barely a shadow, barely a breath on the wind. She watches the part she never saw the first time; that moment where they met, wands drawn, sky greying under taint of magic, wind billowing hair, clothing, catching words meant for them alone. She watches a silent battle, filled only with the spark of power and magic.
It's not her fight.
She sees a girl, a young woman, powerful and so sure. She sees the bubble cast, powering up and out over them and thrumming around her. She's inside it once again and the girl she watches is still whole. She wonders how she could do this to herself. Wonders how she ever wanted to take that essence and taint it with time. She knows it doesn't matter, because the decision's already made.
She's not sure where she finds the strength, isn't sure if seeing herself as she once was is what gives her that final burst of energy, but she leaps up catching them all off guard. Her wand is drawn, aimed; she's catching evil off guard, but it's his eyes she's looking at.
She's more than a spectator and in that final instant he's freefalling, eyes glazed and body beaten, but not quite broken. Even in death he stayed together and in hers she finds herself.