Breathing comes in pairs
Except for twice
One begins and one's goodbye
Enough for Now by The Fray
Releasing a breath of smoke, a tall man paced back and forth across the long, wood porch. He turned to his companion, who dropped his own cigarette, glaring up at the man in irritation. "Potter, if you don't relax this whole mission will be even more painful, ya moron." He rolled his eyes, lighting up another one.
Harry Potter scoffed, taking a long drag. "Wills, shut up, please? I'm forty-two years old for God's sake, and here I am, sitting in some shack dressed like some punk kid."
Wills perked up a bit, his eyebrows raised. "You're that old, really?" He raised the thin stick back to his lips, his curious expression never wavering.
Harry nodded mockingly, "I have proof too." He chuckled, reaching into his back pocket and removing a wallet, showing Wills the small collection of photos, all muggle, lodged inside. "That's my wife, godson and three kids, Ginny, Teddy, Jamie, Al and Lily."
"How old is your oldest?"
"Teddy's twenty-five, Jamie is sixteen Al's fifteen and Lily is thirteen. Teddy's in Special Forces too." Harry sat down on the steps Wills was perched on, sitting across from him. He took his wallet back, glancing down at his family one last time before burying the wallet back in its pocket.
"Yeah? How long have you've been with the unit?"
"Since I was about twenty-seven. They came to me, saying that now that I'd captured the majority of Britain's problems why not help the rest of the world?" Harry smirked. "And since then I've been doing this alongside my work as an Auror."
"What's your wife say about that?"
Harry chuckled. "That I'm absolutely insane and then she goes and joins right behind my back."
"Damn, that's a real woman there." Wills smirked, spitting out onto the wet sidewalk, where rain was still pummeling down loudly.
"Oh yeah, Ginny's something special." Harry nodded. "How old are you anyway, Wills?"
"Thirty-four." He grinned, leaning back further against the wood post behind him. "Been doing this for six years. Lived here in Virginia my whole life. How often they send you here to the states?"
"A lot. I swear they might as well make me a citizen, I even pick up on the accent which drives my family nuts."
"I bet…I know this is out of line, but, what do you really look like?" Wills sat up, drawing his knees up to his chest.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Don't you already know?"
"Well, you are Harry Potter," Wills shrugged. "But do you really have the natural black messy hair and green eyes?"
"I have messy black hair right now."
Rolling his eyes, Wills told him, "Yeah, but I can tell it's not natural."
Harry nodded. "It's not really, but this is actually how I've had my hair for years now." He ran a hand through his shorter, purposely messy hair.
"Yep, I stopped wearing my glasses when I joined the force, mostly at their request. It didn't really bother me when they asked me to. Then I just never put them back on."
"You know, you really don't look like you're in your forties."
"So I've been told. What's your guess?"
"I would have said early thirties. You're just starting to get that look in the face, ya know?"
Nodding, Harry played with the white, muddied shoelace of his trainers, or sneakers as they referred to them here. He felt kind of ridiculous to be dressing…well, like Teddy or James and Al would. He had always enjoyed the fact that his children were proud of the way he and Ginny dressed. In the words of Lily, they kept up a youthful style, unlike most parents. Ginny had been pleased with the comment, so he decided it must have been good, but this was more extreme than he was used to. He was undercover at the moment so his disguise consisted of black jeans, slightly baggy around the waist and they fell around his sneakers, getting wet in the rain. He had a black, zip-up jacket on, the hood pulled over his messy hair and his eyes were charmed to appear hazel, making him an insane copy of Jamie.
Wills let out a sigh, his eyes scanning the deserted street. Geoff Wills had just been introduced to Harry the day before and so far he had been the best partner forced on Harry all year. He was sharp and didn't say the usual stupid comments Harry frequently had to deal with. Wills had short blonde hair, though it was currently dyed a deep purple (his choice to use muggle hair dye) and he had shocking green eyes, a dark forest color, very different from Harry's emerald orbs. They could actually talk to one another which was rare for Harry, despite their conversations usually starting off a bit hostile, quickly winding down.
He knew he had been snapping a bit at Wills today, but all he could think about was what he had discovered the previous day, just before he had come to headquarters. Part of him wasn't as shocked as he had expected, but it didn't lessen the blow too much. He was just glad he had prepared himself mentally for it. He hoped Ron had filed the paperwork for him like he had requested.
"What time is it?" Wills broke the reverie.
Checking his watch, Harry smiled. "Quarter to eight."
"Yes." Wills threw a punch in the air. "We can leave soon. Any preference for dinner? I grew up around here, so I know all the good local places."
Harry shrugged, not caring much for food at the moment. "Anything you want. We need to come up with a plan for luring in Woody."
Wills waved a hand through the air. "I've been dealing with Woody's crap for years. Trust me, the moment Trucks opens his eyes and realizes he has one of his best agents and top commander chasing clouds, he'll call us back in."
His words hung in the air, not fazing Harry at all; he merely nodded, his eyes still watching the rain fall evenly. The neighborhood was far from nice, in a rather sore spot near the D.C. line. He had just arrived at headquarters the previous day, much to his dismay. He hated being called out during the holidays, not wanting to miss out on any time with his kids while they were home, even though they rarely stuck around the house, typically bouncing around England from friend to friend.
Wills stood up, brushing off his hands on his dark blue jeans, pulling them up a bit. He pulled the hood of his grey sweatshirt tighter around his neck, breathing in deeply. "Let's get out of here." He murmured, taking on a somber expression as he walked out into the downpour.
Harry followed him, analyzing Wills' odd personality, or personalities really. He was either extremely cocky and sharp or a bit depressing and reserved, more like Harry. He jumped between the personalities, occasionally being a joker, full of grins and chuckles. He was clearly moving into the reserved side of him, ready for his work to be done.
His thoughts breaking for a moment, Harry paused, his feet planted to the cracked, cement sidewalk. Cocking his head to the side, he struggled to sort through the sounds he was hearing, muffled heavily by the thunderous rain. Wills noticed his abrupt stop, his hand inching towards his back. "Wand or gun?" He questioned, just loud enough for Harry to hear over the rain.
Answering silently, Harry pulled the weapon from his back, checking to make sure it was loaded before sliding towards the patch of woods they were stopped at. He stepped into the dirt, ducking beneath a tree branch. "Where are you, mate?" He breathed, moving further into the trees, Wills silently following, his gun pointed to the ground.
They continued through the woods, raising their guns at every sound they heard through the rain. Harry was going to give up once his clothes were thoroughly soaked through, deciding he must of heard an animal and been mistaken. But a flash of color gave the target away.
"Duck!" He felt himself ripped down by Wills as several shots rang out, echoing through the trees. Harry shot back up the moment the last shot was fired, racing towards the source of the shots. He wove through trees, Wills hot on his feet. Soon he saw the same flash of color, only this time he raised his gun immediately and fired off three rounds, one of them meeting its target. The man fell down, his own gun flying out of his hand.
"Wills, get down." Harry growled.
"Get down!" He turned his back, shoving his partner down as a streamline of bullets shrieked through the air, sending Harry crashing down to the ground. He glanced up, finding himself face to face with Wills, who was trying to peering around Harry's head to fire a few well placed shots.
"Potter, are you all right?"
Harry opened his mouth to respond, but he felt a surge of darkness take over the rain muddled world and Wills upset face.
Harry's eyes cracked open, fighting the pull on them, the desire for more sleep. He could hear a familiar humming echoing through his eardrums, the sound of his own blood. His eyes were barely open, but he could make out the white walls around him: he was in his usual room at St. Mungo's. Pushing back a yawn, he sat up slightly in bed, looking at the man who was leaning on the table that hovered above the foot of his hospital bed. The man had a small amount of white hair, the top of his head completely bald. He wore a white Healer coat and was glaring at Harry fiercely.
"Twelve bullets to the back!" He shouted, slamming down the several inch thick file onto the table. "I spent two hours summoning the rounds out of a mass of torn muscles, ripped blood vessels, cracked ribs and swollen tissue!"
He walked around the bed to Harry's side as he yelled, not fazing Harry in the slightest. "Potter, I swear, you will be the death of me!"
Harry gingerly touched the side of his head, finding that spanning from above his ear to above his eye was a thick bandage. He winced at his own touch and he felt his hand pulled away forcefully by the healer. "Clark, are you done?" Harry questioned lazily.
Clark sighed, rolling his blue eyes. "I will never be able to retire, will I?"
"What do you mean?"
"You keep getting hurt!"
"I do not!"
"Harry, I have treated you at least twice a year since you were eighteen! I can't retire as long as you are out doing Merlin knows what all over the world." He began feeling along Harry's arms, where an IV was attached, murmuring spells as he went and his wand directing him.
"Me? How am I the one preventing your retirement?" Harry winced slightly at the burning sensation that came with Clark's touch.
"Because, you'll just call me out of retirement to treat you every time you get hurt, am I right?"
Harry gave him a crooked grin. "You know me too well, Clarky." He said cheekily.
"Well, you're just a boy, I can't leave you with any imbeciles that are slouching about here." Clark never smiled, just continued his examination.
"I'm in my forties and have a teenaged kids, I'm hardly a boy, Clark," Harry snorted.
"Yeah, don't insult him, he's Harry Potter." Harry grinned up at the voice of his friend who was leaning against the doorframe, chuckling.
Clark rolled his eyes. "Weasley, make yourself useful and hand me the boy's chart."
Ron sprang into motion, handing the chart to the healer who began reading over it silently. Harry groaned, "Clark, when will I be considered a man, and not a boy?"
Clark glanced up from the chart. "When you start looking like one."
"When you start getting wrinkles and grey hair, we'll change your status to man." He looked up at Ron. "This one is a man, see the receding hairline." He noted, leaving the room with Harry's chart, offering a sideways glance at Harry.
Chuckling at Ron who had grabbed the mirror from Harry's bed stand and was examining his hair, Harry beckoned him forward. "I know I have a few grey hairs, but I'm not losing it, am I?" Ron whimpered.
"Mate, sit down." Harry shifted uncomfortably, noticing he was shirtless due to the white bandaging that wrapped around his entire torso. "When's Ginny getting here?"
"They were all here for about an hour, and then they went home for dinner. They should be here soon actually."
"Well, I actually needed to talk to you about some other things." Harry stated, waving his hand at the door which shut immediately. "Did you get my new will?"
Ron nodded. "I put it in your file like you wanted. I read over it and saw what you had updated. Where are the letters you mentioned?"
"Hogwarts. That's all I'll say for now." Harry answered somberly, his eyes wandering. "I also needed to tell you something else, Ron. I haven't told Ginny yet, so it'll have to wait."
Ron's brow wrinkled, confusion washing over his features. "About what?"
Harry opened his mouth, but he didn't speak for several agonizing moments. "It's the reason I changed my will."
Trading in confusion for extreme worry and fear, Ron opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by the door opening. Harry grinned to see Ginny walk in with a small smile, Lily following her closely. Harry held his arms open for his wife as she came to hug him, placing a soft kiss on his lips.
"Daddy, you're going to get yourself killed one day." Lily shook her head as she hugged her father.
"Funny, you used to say the same thing when you were seven. Where are your brothers?"
Huffing, his daughter pointed to the doorway where James and Albus walked in. Both boys were now the same height as their father, all matching in their slightly skinny bodies and messy black hair. James had deep hazel eyes, making him a dead ringer for his grandfather without glasses. Albus had the signature green eyes and wore glass like Harry once did only his were much smaller and squarer unlike Harry's old round ones. They were both chuckling at the jar Jamie held.
"Boys, what is that?" Ginny asked, sitting down in the chair beside Harry's bed.
"The bullets Clark got out of Dad's back." Al took the jar from his brother, observing the slightly flattened cylinders that sat in the bottom of the water filled jar. Ron chuckled, hovering behind his nephews to look at the glass as well.
"Gimme that." Harry held out his hand for the jar.
Albus obliged, standing at his father's side. "Isn't that cool?"
"Wicked." Harry breathed, shaking up the glass slightly.
"Not wicked." Ginny said, her eyes daring one of them to contradict her.
Harry chuckled, handing the jar back to his son. He leaned over to Ginny as the three kids plus Ron hovered to the window with Jamie sitting on the window sill, all of them commenting on the number of bullets. Ginny was staring at Harry intently, knowing he had something to say.
"I'm sorry I didn't floo or phone you like I had promised." He murmured, grabbing her hand.
"I had a feeling you would wait to tell me in person, whether good or bad. Did you make it to headquarters in time?"
Harry nodded. "I took a portkey right after my appointment."
Ginny's expression darkened further. "I take it you'll tell me tonight?"
Harry didn't answer, just pressed a kiss to the back of her hand before turning to call his children and Ron back over. He noticed that for the rest of the day Ginny kept shooting sideways glances at him, but he ignored her, even when she questioned him when they were alone, packing up his bag to return back home.
Finally as the day wound down, with James and Albus at friends' homes for the night and Lily with her cousins until morning, Harry took in a breath as he sat in their bed, preparing himself to tell his wife. He had been thinking about it for days, even before he knew the results of his tests. He sighed, looking around the bedroom they had shared for the past twenty years. For so long he had never even considered living long enough to have this kind of a life. To be able to sleep alongside the woman he loved for over twenty years and raise three kids and have a wonderful godson. It still seemed unreal at times.
"Hey." Ginny appeared, coming out of their bathroom; she did a quick drying spell on her hair, the red locks coming alive. Harry watched as she pulled on one of his shirts and crawled into bed, snuggling up beside him.
"I hate nights like this." She murmured into his neck. "I always cry."
"That's because I always have bad news on nights like this." He sighed, adjusting their position so they were laying down, facing each other.
"So, you went to that wizard in Wales?"
Harry nodded. "He had the results of my tests." He whispered, running his hand through her hair.
He could see her pale face and moist eyes, so filled with a fear he hadn't seen in so many years. He hated seeing her like this, but it wasn't like he could hide this or even want to hide it. He became so absorbed in his thoughts he almost forgot where he was until Ginny pulled him back in.
"How long?" She asked, her voice barely a whisper.
"Ginny-" Harry pressed his forehead to hers.
She shook her head, asking him again, her voice stronger, though still strained. "Harry, how long?"
He bit down on his bottom lip. "A year, maybe a bit longer. I think I could pull off two…maybe." He pulled her closer, his arms tightening around her as if she was being ripped away from him.
She was silent, just staring into his eyes. Harry could remember exactly how Ginny had reacted to news such as this. While she was extremely strong, she still cried. He had held her while she cried after the Final Battle and when she sobbed when her father had been injured in the months following and when he had nearly been killed just a few years ago in a scuffle in Egypt.
But at this time she wasn't crying, which scared Harry greatly. Not because he thought she wasn't upset by the news, but because she was beyond tears. He held her even tighter, whispering in her ear gently. "It's okay, Ginny, I'm here right now. I love you."
He kissed her, knowing neither of them was going to get much sleep that night. It was one thing to tell Ginny he was going to enter battle knowing he may die, but another to tell her he had one year until he would simply stop living.