AUTHOR'S NOTES: The song lyrics used here are from Gary Allen and from the soundtrack from 'The Lion King 2'.

And I hope no one got TOO attached to Camille…

5 Years Later

Camille stood outside in her bathrobe, watching the big, puffy snowflakes falling silently from the sky. It was quiet and the air felt crisp and pure… Everything was perfect… untouched…

Unlike her.

She'd gone to Aunt Leslie last week for a check-up and it hadn't been good news. The cancer was back and even with another round of chemo she had 4 good months at best. Her parents didn't know yet and Camille didn't know how to tell them that she was going to die.

She knew she should go inside… but she wanted to stay outside for a little while longer. 'This is my last winter,' she thought with unbelievable calmness. 'My last Christmas with my family.'

"Cam?" James came out of the house and stood next to his sister. "What are you doing out here?"

"Thinking…" Camille said, vaguely. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," James agreed, quickly. "It's also cold."

"Doesn't matter if it melts away," Camille added. "It always comes back…"

"Cam…" James said, a look of dawning comprehension on his face.

Camille smiled at her big brother. "Don't tell the others. Please? Not until after Christmas…"

"Camille, you can't hide this," James insisted, glancing up at the house. "If you're sick again…" Seeing the serene look on his sister's face, he felt numb and it wasn't because of the cold. "Oh, God…"

"Please don't tell Mum and Dad," Camille said again. "Let's all have a nice Christmas… before we have to deal with this."

"'This'?" James said, shocked by his sister's complacency. "You mean the fact that you're… Look, what did Aunt Leslie say?"

"Couple months… 6 if I'm lucky…" Camille replied. Taking her big brother's hand she said, "And I don't want to spend it on chemo… too sick to do anything…" James' head was spinning. Yes, Camille was a little tired lately… but… Pulling her into a hug, he couldn't believe that this would be Camille's last Christmas. "Promise me, James?"

When Camille's eyes met his, he sighed. "Okay, Cam… I won't tell the others… Unless I have to."

"Thank you," Camille said, smiling.

"Now let's go inside, okay?"

--

Christmas morning, Harry groggily limped into the kitchen and he stopped dead when he saw Camille making breakfast. "Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?"

"Morning, Daddy," Camille chirped, handing her father a mug of coffee. "Heavy cream and sugar… just the way you like it."

Harry wasn't an idiot. He knew what was going on right away. "Camille…"

"Don't say it, Dad," Camille warned. "Now go have a seat in the living room. I'm baking muffins and—"

Harry set his coffee mug down and held his daughter, looking into her gray eyes… God, she looked just like Luna… Addie and Gwen looked more like him, but Camille had her mother's eyes and blonde hair. "Camille… tell me the truth…"

Camille didn't answer… Instead she just gave her father a hug.

And Harry knew… wrapping his arms around her as tight as he could, he never wanted to let go. "Please tell me this is just a bad dream…"

"Daddy…" Camille said, quietly. When Harry's eyes met hers, she said, "Don't tell Mum?"

Tears filled Harry's eyes. "Don't tell her that you're…? Look, I'm sure there's some new treatment you can try…" Seeing the set look in his daughter's eyes, he said, "You have to keep fighting, honey… You can't just give up."

"Dad…" Camille said, and for the first time since she heard the news, she felt tears in her eyes. "Don't make this harder for me, please."

"How long?" Harry said, fighting a catch in his throat.

"Couple months… maybe a bit more…"

Harry hugged her again, crying openly now.

"Harry?" Luna asked from the bedroom.

"In the kitchen!" Harry called, wiping his eyes. Giving a nod to Camille, he grabbed his coffee and headed for the living room.

--

When Dudley, Leslie, Nicole, and Simon arrived for Christmas dinner, Harry pulled Leslie aside to talk.

"She told you, didn't she?" Leslie asked as she and Harry stood outside on the back porch.

Harry sighed. "How bad is it?"

"She's been sick for months now. She was doing a good job of hiding it but… She came to see me a few weeks ago. I ran the tests and… the leukemia is running rampant… Chemo would only buy her time," Leslie replied. "She's going to die, Harry… soon. You need to be ready for that."

"How am I supposed to be ready for this?" Harry asked. "Why didn't she…? She could have had more time!"

"Dad!" Cedric shouted, opening the back door. "Camille just collapsed!"

Harry wasn't far behind as he followed Leslie into the kitchen where James was kneeling next to Camille who was lying unconscious on the floor. "What happened?" Harry asked when he noticed the blood on Camille's face.

"Nosebleed," James replied. "Then she passed out."

Harry looked at everyone gathering around and then at Luna. "We need to get her to a hospital."

--

When Camille woke up she groaned when she heard beeping. She was hooked up to an IV and seeing the label on the bag she groaned when she recognized the medicine as chemotherapy drugs.

"Why didn't you tell us you're dying?" Addie asked from the doorway as she came in with Gwen. Both of them looked haggard and it was clear that they'd been crying.

Camille sighed. "Because there's nothing anyone can do about it."

"Your pain is our pain," Gwen said, sitting on Camille's left side as Addie sat on the right. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"I was going to," Camille said, weakly. "After Christmas." After a long pause she said, "I'm dying…" Tears filled her eyes and she started to cry.

Hugging Addie and Gwen, Camille couldn't do anything as the crushing reality finally hit her. After about 5 minutes, she let out a derisive laugh. "And I was worried about the two of you falling apart on me." Seeing that her sisters were trying to look hopeful and optimistic, Camille added, "I'm not going to get better."

Addie held her sister's hand and tried to hold on to the image of Camille alive and well.

Gwen gave a forced smile. "You're going to fight, Cam… You've got to fight…"

Camille shook her head and squeezed her sisters' hands. "I'm tired of fighting…"


April came on a stormy week and as Camille grew weaker, Harry, Luna, James, Addie, Gwen, and even Cedric maintained a constant vigil in Camille's room. Dudley, Petunia, and the Weasleys came by as well, making sure that there was always someone with her.

On a Wednesday night, Harry sat with Camille who was looking more worn than ever. She didn't have much time left and both of them knew it. Harry studied his daughter before asking, "Did you want to die?"

Camille slowly opened her eyes. "No… I didn't want to spend the rest of my life trying to fight the effects of chemo. I'm sorry, Daddy…"

Harry shook his head. "No… I'm sorry… This isn't what you wanted. And if I were in your shoes…"

"You'd look terrible in my shoes," Camille joked, smiling.

Harry chuckled. "Yeah… But I'd want to live as much as I could before…" Getting up from his chair he said, firmly, "We're taking you home."

Camille managed to sit up a bit more and smiled. "Thanks, Dad."

--

Once back in her own bed, Camille was starting to feel like it was the beginning of the end.

"Knock, knock…" James said as he came into the room and saw the IVs Camille was still attached to.

"How's Nicky?" Camille asked, smirking.

"He's well…" James replied, sitting on the edge of the bed. "How are you?"

"I feel run down all the time… Like my batteries are running down…" Seeing her brother's face, she added, "I'm dying…"

"Dad told us they took you off the chemo," James said.

"Too little… too late," Camille replied. Sitting up and hugging James, she said, "I love you."

"I love you too, Cami."

'Life ain't always beautiful

But I know I'll be fine

No, Life ain't always beautiful

But it's a beautiful rhyme


On what would have been the last day of Camille's 6th year at Hogwarts, the Potters, Weasleys, Malfoys, and Petunia gathered at a cemetery in Darby, England.

The sun was filtering through the clouds as Harry stood numbly with Luna and James while Addie, Gwen, and Cedric sat together, holding hands and praying for strength.

The last days had been Hell as Camille had grown weaker and weaker… finally slipping away early one morning.

Harry put a hand on Camille's coffin and said, "Camille wasn't like Adrienne or Gwen… She looked like her mother. And when she got sick… Somehow… I was always afraid that I would lose her…" Clearing his throat, Harry looked over at James who stepped forward.

"It's hokey…" James began. "But Cam's favorite thing was watching the rain… or the snow in winter. After she got sick when she was 11… she'd stand out on the porch for ages watching the snow or rain. She believed that it was the little things that were most important."

Addie nudged Gwen and the two of them got up before the crowd. "We… we wanted to do something f… for Cam… and we didn't really know what to say, so…"

"Cam liked 'The Lion King' when we were little," Gwen added. "And yesterday we…" She paused for a moment after a choked sob. "This was her favorite song from the sequel… So…"

Luna flicked her wand and the background music began playing as the two girls started singing.

"As you go through life you'll see

There is so much that we don't understand

And the only thing we know

Is things don't always go

The way we planned

"But you'll see every day

That we'll never turn away

When it seems all your dreams come undone

We will stand by your side

Filled with hope and filled with pride

"We are more than we are

We are one"

Last night, sitting in the bedroom the three of them had shared, Addie found an audio tape with the song on it and a message to each member of her family. "Addie…Gwen… I know our trio is now a pair… and I'm sorry. But I know that the two of you can go on without me. Play this song when I die… and any time you need to think of me. Dad…I love you. And I know you believe that if I had told you when I first relapsed that I'd still be alive. But I think we both know that I was on borrowed time ever since I was 11. Mum, try to help keep everyone together. Dad especially will need you. You've always been able to keep his spirits up. James, I'll miss you. You're my big brother and I won't deny that you've always been my favorite. I'm glad you and Nicholas are happy together. Cedric… try to keep out of trouble. And remember that I'll be with you always."

"Even those who are gone

Are with us as we go on

Your journey has only begun

"Tears of pain, tears of joy

One thing nothing can destroy

Is our pride deep inside

We are one"

Addie smiled as the clouds started to clear. It was like Camille was smiling down on everyone, telling them all that finally, she was okay.

THE END