A Night at the Opera
July 31, 2011
Hermione Granger sat down in one of the chairs surrounding a small round table in one of the many small coffee shops in Las Vegas. At Hermione's suggestion, Ellen had taken her daughter and Minerva to the Starbucks location just down the Strip from the MGM Grand, just inside a small food court near Paris. As Hermione took her seat, Minerva and Ellen were retrieving their drinks from the counter.
"Is it really that bad?" Ellen asked as she sat down across from Hermione, taking stock of her daughters countenance.
"Huh?" Hermione asked. "What do you mean?"
"You're daydreaming again," Ellen informed her. "But with a scowl on your face. Something's bothering you. So what is it?"
"It's just... It's... It's nothing," Hermione said meekly.
"So basically it is but it isn't," Ellen said, quirking an eyebrow.
"No, it simply isn't."
"Simply nothing or the absence of something?" The knowing older woman asked carefully.
"The absence of something but it's nothing."
"That nothing is something of importance, then?"
At this Minerva cleared her throat, visibly confused at what had just taken place. Hermione was starting to turn faintly crimson and Ellen appeared triumphant.
"That is to say," Ellen explained, "that Hermione is waiting on Harry to make some sort of move."
"This holiday is nearly over, I was really hoping that he'd take the initiative"
"This trip was never intended for pleasure." Minerva began. "However I would remind you that Mr. Potter leaves everything of importance to the last moment. Including transfiguration homework." Hermione smiled, feeling faintly more hopeful, to Ellen's amusement.
"Only my daughter would be happy to be compared to homework!"
"Hey!" Hermione cried. "You make me sound like a walking book!"
"Well, I don't walk around spouting random facts," Ellen reminded her good-naturedly. "But I'm sorry, you do talk and wave a wand as well. However, I distinctly remember you doing just that when you came home for Christmas in your first year. You never could shut up about this fact or that bit of information about the magical world."
Hermione blushed brightly as her mother teased her.
"I hardly think she was happy about being compared to homework," Minerva cut in. "But my point still stands, Mr. Potter has a tendency to procrastinate on important tasks, and I am sure that this is no different."
"Why do you expect him to ask you out anyway?" Ellen asked, earning another blush from her daughter.
"Because he said he would," Hermione answered quietly, reaching for the drink her mother had bought her.
"Oh, did he now? And when did he tell you this?"
"The other day after Daddy stopped off in our room. The entire affair was kinda awkward and one thing led to another..."
"You didn't!" Ellen cried.
"What?" Hermione asked, confused. Suddenly though, it dawned on her. "No!" she denied vehemently. "We didn't! We just talked that's all! Honest!"
Minerva lifted an eyebrow. "'Stuff' is hardly an O level response to the question. I've come to expect much lengthier answers from you Ms. Granger."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Is it really important?" she asked, a pleading tone evident in her voice.
"No," Ellen replied. "But it is fascinating," she added with a smile.
"Then all the more reason not to answer you!" Hermione chirped.
Ellen shrugged. "Your loss. I guess you won't be getting any of my sage wisdom to help you out."
"Mother, in all honesty I'm kinda afraid of your 'sage wisdom.' If half of what Aunt Christine tells me is true, I'm not sure you'd be comfortable with me following your 'wisdom.'"
"What has she told you?" Ellen asked, eyes wide with panic.
Hermione's lips curled into an evil smirk. "That's between Aunt Christine and I. But my point still stands," she concluded authoritatively.
Minerva watched as mother and daughter continued to bicker back and forth as she reached for her drink and took another sip. This was one cat fight that she did not want to miss.
July 31, 2011
The Signature at MGM Grand, Room 814
Sixteen year old Harry Potter tucked his hotel key card into his pocket as he stepped through the door into the suite that he and his best friend Hermione shared. In celebration of his sixteenth birthday, Richard Granger had taken Harry and the others out for dinner at one of the many restaurants located inside the MGM Grand. In this case, as it was a celebratory meal, Richard had chosen to splurge, and had taken the group to the restaurant the bore the name of Emeril Lagasse, a name that did not come cheap.
Following the meal, Richard and Harry, with some quick glamour assistance from Minerva McGonagall, had retired to the casino for a few hands of blackjack. Harry had admitted to Richard that, following his loss at the poker tournament a few days before, he was apprehensive to try again, despite Richard's insistence to the contrary. In the end, they had compromised on blackjack, which Richard insisted on paying for, as it was Harry's birthday. And even though Hermione had wanted to stay with Harry, Ellen had suggested that she go upstairs and wait for him to return there.
For this involvement, Harry was grateful, as it meant he could collect his wits without having Hermione hover nearby as he did so. He was preparing to make a big change in their relationship, one that he could only hope would work out, and he wanted everything to be perfect.
Taking a deep breath as he stepped through the door, Harry was greeted by the sight of Hermione rifling through her suitcase, which was perched on the coffee table in front of his makeshift bed. From what Harry could tell, she appeared to be packing up her belongings, which made sense considering the fact that the group was scheduled to depart the next day. Harry's throat caught as he considered the possibility that she was nearly finished packing.
She smiled brightly when he approached and stepped back from her luggage, presenting him with a small, brightly wrapped package.
"Hey, I never did get to give you your birthday present."
Harry stared at the offered box quietly before taking it and placing it on the nearby counter. "Actually Hermione, there was something else I wanted from you for my birthday," he said.
"I can return that one if you don't like it, sorry for not asking," Hermione replied sullenly.
"No! I'm sure it's great!" he interjected quickly. Harry took a deep breath. It's now or never, he told himself. "It's just that I'd like for you to accompany me tonight for my present. You know... as my date?"
Harry stared at her as he felt his courage drain away. Gone was the disappointed face when he told her that the book she was sure to have bought him wasn't what he wanted, replaced with a look between confusion and surprise. Had she changed her mind from earlier?
"Where to?" she responded finally, albeit in a coy tone.
"Well… see… I recently came into a bit of money, as you're no doubt aware…" Hermione giggled at this. "And anyway, I happened to come across some tickets to go see that show Phantom over at The Venetian tonight-"
"What?" Hermione shrieked. "You got tickets to that! I've wanted to see that ever since we got here! I've wanted to see Phantom of the Opera ever since I was a little girl!"
"So did you want to go then?" Harry asked with smile.
"Are you kidding me? Of course I want to go! Lemme just go tell my mum and dad!" She bolted toward the door, and Harry barely had time to grab her arm as she passed by, rushing past in her excitement. "What?" she asked as he stopped her.
"They already know," he told her softly.
"You've already talked to them…"
"Yeah," he replied quietly. "And I was kinda hoping you'd want to go with me."
Hermione smiled as he released her arm. "I'd love to," she responded, matching his tone. "Do I need to wear anything special?"
Harry's nervousness began to evaporate upon hearing her response. Even though he hardly doubted that she would want to go with him, he was still nervous about the entire affair; he wanted the night to go perfectly. "Actually, from what I can tell, this is kinda a formal event, which is why I was nervous about you starting to pack already."
"You mean you want me to wear the dress?" she asked, picking up on what he had been hinting.
"Only if you want to," Harry replied sheepishly, even though that was what he wanted.
"I do," she said. "What time's the show?"
"Nine thirty," he said. "But I think we should leave a bit early… maybe about eight thirty or so, just to make sure that we get there in time and get our seats and-"
Hermione silenced Harry's rambling by pressing her index finger against his lips. "Sounds great, Harry," she said quietly. "I just need a bit of time to get ready, alright?" Harry nodded dumbly as Hermione withdrew her finger and picked up her bag before carrying it into her room.
Just shy of an hour later, the door to Hermione's room opened once more, and she stepped out, clad in the periwinkle dress that she had worn a few days before. Harry, sitting at the table in a pair of black slacks, a plain white dress shirt, and black jacket, leapt to his feet as she walked out. He took a deep breath as his eyes swept over her appreciatively, taking in her appearance.
"You look great," he breathed.
Hermione blushed prettily at his compliment. "Thanks," she whispered. "You don't look too bad yourself."
Harry chuckled nervously at her wording. "I think I'll take that as a compliment," he retorted. "I guess I'd rather look 'not bad' than just plain bad!"
She slapped him playfully for his joke. "Oh, knock it off!" she laughed. "It was a compliment! Just an awkward one, that's all!"
Harry's face grew serious at her last comment. "Oh, well, I didn't mean for this to be awkward…"
"Harry, no!" Hermione said firmly. "I was just making a joke! I never meant that you had made anything awkward, alright? Honestly, I've been wanting to see this show for a long time, so let's just enjoy ourselves tonight."
Harry nodded, a small smile once again growing on his face as he rose from his seat and opened the door for Hermione. However, as soon as they stepped into the hall, they were greeted by two familiar faces: Richard and Ellen, the latter of which was armed with a camera.
"Oh, no," Hermione groaned as the first flash went off.
"What?" her mother asked, lining up for another shot as Hermione turned her back to her and too cover against Harry's chest. "I just wanted a few pictures, that's all!"
"That's all?" Hermione cried. "Mother, you're embarrassing me!"
"Well, that's what we have children for, isn't it?" Ellen retorted.
"No! No it isn't!"
Ellen laughed softly. "Well, one day you'll see that I'm right," she added, taking in the sight of her daughter in Harry's arms and snapped another photo. "But just have fun tonight, you two. That's all I ask."
Harry looked to Richard whose face bore a small, sad smile. Yet he nodded curtly at Harry as Hermione detached herself from Harry's torso. Briefly making eye contact with Richard, Harry placed his hand on the small of Hermione's back and guided her away from her parents toward the elevators.
The two made the journey out of the MGM in companionable silence, neither willing to break the ice after the awkward encounter with Hermione's parents. Hermione waited on the sidewalk as Harry stepped into the street in front of the hotel to hail a taxi. A moment later, one of the distinctive yellow vehicles stopped in front of him. Harry opened the door for Hermione and took her hand as she climbed inside. Following behind her, Harry climbed into the back seat before giving the driver their destination.
The driver, glancing in his rear-view mirror, could instantly tell what the occasion was for the two teens. The fact that they were sitting so close together, yet neither was talking to the other, was a dead giveaway that the two were out for a nervous first date.
As the taxi stopped in the driveway of The Venetian, Harry stepped out and rushed around the cab to the driver's door to pay. He then opened the rear driver-side door and took Hermione's hand to help her out.
"Oh, honestly, Harry! I can get out of a car on my own!" Hermione laughed, hiding the blush that was creeping up her neck.
Harry reached behind his head and scratched his neck idly for the second time that night. "I just want to do this right," he explained, looking down slightly.
"Harry?" Hermione called, getting his attention as the two took off toward the building, "stop being so hard on yourself, alright? You are doing this right. So just have fun and stop second-guessing everything you do… please?"
"Alright," Harry replied, once again placing his hand on her back. He picked up his pace as the two made their way toward the theater, handing their tickets to the attendant just outside the door before stepping over the threshold.
Harry reached behind his head and scratched his neck idly for the second time that night. "I just want tonight to be perfect for you," he explained, looking down slightly.
"It is perfect Harry," she said before taking his hand. "Even without that stuff. Though I suppose it is every girl's dream to be treated as a right princess."
Harry blushed and led her by the hand towards the theatre, handing their tickets to the immaculately dressed attendant just outside the door before steeping over the threshold.
Once inside, Harry and Hermione were taken aback by the grandeur of the theater. The massive room was vaguely rectangular in shape, tapering down toward the front as it reached the stage. Either wall on the sides of the stage were taken up by nearly a dozen boxes for gallery seating, but were staged with artificial audience members. The overall color scheme was one of red and gold, as the plush crimson seats and draperies were offset against the rich gold pillars and accents that lined the walls. These intricately sculpted columns seemed to depict various mythological creatures, adding to the sense of wonder that permeated the room.
"It's like a Gryffindor's dream room," Harry observed as the pair stopped just inside the door.
"Uh-huh," Hermione agreed in shock.
"Well, except for that," Harry added, pointing up at the ceiling.
Whereas the rest of the room was roughly rectangular, the walls rose into a majestic sapphire dome, inlaid with gold accents. In the center of this dome, a great chandelier hung, lending an air of almost-Victorian elegance to the theater.
"Now that's a chandelier," Hermione observed, taking in the sight.
"Look out," Harry said, pulling Hermione to the side lightly as another pair of ticket-holders walked through the door, narrowly missing the teens. "Maybe we should get to our seats and enjoy it from there?" he suggested jokingly.
Hermione chuckled as she nodded, allowing Harry to lead her to their seats.
"On the mezzanine, Harry?" she asked, as the pair walked along the front of the raised seating area near the back of the theater.
"I just had to go for it," he explained as he gestured for her to take a seat in seat C36. He then took a seat to her left. "You were the one who had to explain to me what a mezzanine was the other day, so it only made sense. That, and the fact that I figured it would have a good view… looks like I was right about that."
"Yeah," she agreed, staring off into space.
Harry glanced down at his watch to find that there were still ten minutes before the show was scheduled to start, and watched as the theater continued to fill slowly.
"What is this, Harry?" Hermione asked quietly as the two sat, waiting.
"Wait… what?" he stammered, turning to face her nervously. "What do you mean?"
"This," she explained, gesturing between the two and then to the theater. "We don't usually do things like this, so I was just wondering…"
"This," she explained, gesturing between the two of them and then to the theatre. "Is this a 'tonight' sort of affair or.." she trailed off with a flush.
This, Harry realized, was it; the moment that could change everything. But that was what he was afraid of, and he couldn't bring himself to form a coherent response as a result.
"I… erm…" he stuttered, trying to piece together some semblance of an intelligent statement.
Hermione placed her hand on his, as they both rested on the armrest separating the pair. "Harry," she began, "I'm your best friend. You can tell me whatever you're thinking… you know that, right?"
Harry sighed. "I don't know that I want to be your best friend anymore," he mumbled.
"What do you mean, Harry?" she asked softly. "You don't want to be friends anymore or-"
"No!" Harry replied vehemently. "That's not what I meant at all!"
"That's what I thought," Hermione chuckled, before quickly quieting once more. "Or did you want to be something… more?"
"That's up to you," Harry answered. "But frankly I'd like that."
"So would I," she said, a broad smile growing on her face. At her response, a matching smile burst onto Harry's face, causing Hermione to laugh loudly before quickly covering her mouth in embarrassment. Harry laughed quietly at her outburst, just as the lights began to dim.
As the light faded and music began to swell, Hermione lifted the armrest between the two seats and scooted over, snuggled into his side for the show. When he wrapped his arm around her, Hermione was sure it would be the best show of her life.
July 31, 2011
Harry and Hermione stepped out of The Venetian and into the sweltering heat of the summer night. While Harry had originally planned on hailing another taxi to take them back to the MGM, he had promptly disposed of that idea as soon as the show had ended, deciding that it would be better for the pair to walk back to their hotel.
"Well?" Harry asked, taking her hand. "How was it?"
Hermione chuckled at his eager attitude. "Great!" she exclaimed as they passed Paris. "I mean, I didn't really know what to expect, since I had only heard about the show briefly, but it was just as good as all of the hype suggested! I mean, the music! And the whole chandelier thing! Oh, it was brilliant!"
"Glad you liked it!" Harry laughed as the pair walked.
"Of course I did! I had all that time to build up expectations in my head, and you went and blew them away!"
"What do you mean, 'I' blew them away? Don't you mean the show?"
Hermione shook her head. "No," she replied, "I meant you. I was waiting for this for a while… couldn't you tell? And frankly, it took you long enough to ask!"
Harry stuck his tongue out at her, eliciting another giggle.
"And the play was great too!" she reiterated.
Harry nodded silently. "Yeah," he agreed, "it wasn't bad… for an opera."
"Boys…" she groaned playfully, rolling her eyes.
"Well I would certainly hope so!" he cried as the pair entered the MGM. "I've got a certain image to maintain here! I have to do right by all the manly men around the world!"
"And you would lose your man card if you even hinted that you enjoyed it, right?" she joked.
"Exactly! See, I knew you'd understand!"
"Oh, I understand, alright," Hermione retorted. "I understand that those precious 'man laws' don't want you to be able to show any kind of deep emotion or anything like that, right?"
Harry, at a loss for words, did not answer but instead blushed brightly.
"You know I'm just joking right Harry?" Hermione asked. "I know you can show emotion, but I think it's kinda cute whenever you try to be the big, tough man."
"What do you mean 'try?'" Harry asked in faux bewilderment.
"'Do or do not. There is no try?'" Hermione quoted.
"Nevermind. I just know you have a softer side that's all. That's part of the reason why I like you as much as I do."
"And how much is that?"
Hermione paused for a moment as if considering his question. "Well," she began, "you're my boyfriend now, so I think that shows how much I like you."
"...your boyfriend?" he asked, "So that'd make you my girlfriend, right?" holding his breath in anticipation. However, Hermione saw this.
"You can breathe, Harry," she reassured him with a chuckle. "Because I'd love that."
"Really?" he asked hopefully as they boarded the elevator in the lobby of The Signature.
"Really," she confirmed. "Did you think I would say anything else? I just told you that you were my boyfriend. Wouldn't that automatically make me your girlfriend?"
"Well… I just wasn't sure..."
"Then you can put your fears to rest, Harry. I'd love to be your girlfriend." She squeezed his hand tightly and relished in the feeling of their interconnected fingers.
"Girlfriend," Harry muttered. "I have my first girlfriend."
"If you don't count Cho," Hermione reminded him.
"I don't count Cho," he replied as the elevator doors opened. "You're my first… and that's not gonna change."
She squeezed his hand once more, but he did not return the gesture. Instead, he released her hand and wrapped his left arm around her waist, pulling her tight to his side as the two walked down the hall to their room. Holding her close to his side, Harry fished around in his pocket for his room key before sliding it into the slot above the handle.
Opening the door, Harry pulled Hermione into the room, squeezing yet another giggle from her as he did so. However, as soon as they entered the room, Harry stopped short, causing Hermione to do so as well.
There, sitting on the sofa watching the television in the sitting area, were Richard and Ellen.
"Hey, you two," Ellen greeted the two newcomers.
"Um… hey," Harry replied, confused. "What're you two doing in here?"
Ellen shrugged. "Richard here thought it might be fun to come over and see how the other half live."
"Yeah," her husband agreed. "You two have a nice room over here."
"Daddy!" Hermione scolded. "Stop it!"
"What?" Richard asked innocently.
"Anyway, how was the show?" Ellen asked, changing the subject.
"Good," Harry and Hermione replied harmoniously.
"Great," Ellen responded with a nod. She then put her hand on her husband's leg to get his attention. "Well then, I think we're done here, don't you dear?" Richard grumbled his assent as the two stood from the sofa and moved toward the door. "Oh, and Hermione," Ellen added, "your belongings have been moved over to our room for the night."
"What?" Hermione cried in bewilderment.
But it was Richard who responded for his wife. "We just thought it might be nice to spend at least one night with you before we left tomorrow," he said with a twinkle in his eye.
"So we'll be waiting for you across the hall, alright?" Ellen added, giving her daughter a knowing smile. The elder Grangers then left the room, leaving Harry and Hermione alone once again.
"Parents," Hermione grumbled as she and Harry stepped into the hall just as Richard and Ellen closed their door.
"Hey, at least you have them," Harry opined nonchalantly. "They may embarrass you or make your life hard, but at least you know that they care about you."
"But you saw how transparent they were!"
"So?" Harry asked with a shrug. "Honestly, I can't say I disagree with them. I mean, if you had a daughter your age, would you let her stay the night with her new boyfriend? I wouldn't. Especially not one that looks so... well, like you."
"Such maturity," Hermione said sarcastically to hide her blush. "I'm sure you and Daddy get along swimmingly, don't you?"
"We've had our chats," Harry responded. "But yeah, we do see eye to eye on a few things. That's why he was so willing to let us go tonight."
"Speaking of which," Hermione began softly as she stepped between Harry and her parents' door, "I had a great time tonight. Thank you for taking me."
"Hey, the pleasure was all mine," he replied with equal softness. "I'll see you in the morning, alright?"
Hermione nodded, a small smile on her face as Harry turned back toward the door.
"Wait... how exactly is it that I look?" she asked as he moved to the door, referring to his earlier comment.
"Perfect," he answered honestly. "Simply perfect."
"Goodnight," she said quietly with a blush. "And I hope you liked my present Birthday Boy."
Harry gave a small smile as he looked down the hall to either side to see that they were, indeed, alone. In fact, the only sound aside from the padding of his feet against the plush carpet was the faint rumble of the ice machine down the hall.
But just as he reached the door, Harry felt Hermione tap him on the shoulder. He turned around just as she pressed her lips to his in a chaste kiss. Harry's nervousness rose as he allowed himself to melt into their first, short kiss.
But as soon as it had started, it was finished as Hermione pulled away with a shy grin on her face.
"You were going to forget," she explained. "First kiss, first date?" She looked up at him and smiled prettily. "Goodnight Harry," she said as she turned to the door to her parents' room.
Harry stood rooted to the floor as he watched her begin to walk away. That's it? he thought. That was more like my kiss with Cho... kinda boring. He stared after her for a split second before making up his mind. Oh to hell with it.
Instantly, he grabbed Hermione by the arm and spun her around to face him.
"Wha-" she squeaked.
But whatever she was about to ask was instantly silenced as Harry snaked his arm around her waist and lowered his face to hers. Their lips met in a soul-searing kiss as both of them forgot the rest of the world and instead reveled in what they both hoped would be but one of many similar kisses.
After an eternity, the two parted, panting lightly as they stared into each other's eyes. Both teens were grinning broadly as Harry finally released his grip on Hermione's waist.
"Goodnight, Hermione," he said simply before turning and entering his room.
As the door closed, Hermione was left alone in the hall. Standing there, dumbstruck, she unconsciously reached up and touched her lips, which were still tingling from the contact. Running her fingers along her lips, she traced the shape of the goofy grin that was still plastered on her face.
"Goodnight, Harry," she whispered.
Stealing Time: Post Mortem
"…what's past is prologue…" –The Tempest Act 2, Scene 1
Once again, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the end of another story. I must thank you all for your support through reviews and by giving me a bit of your valuable time by reading this story. Your support has made this entire endeavor worthwhile and has only served to spur me on when it comes to my writing. Thank you for that. Originally, I wrote a long author's note at the end of my first story, Harry Potter and the Divine Plan, which served to tie the whole story together and address a number of points that had not been discussed. I enjoyed baring the heart of that story so much that I felt that I should do it again.
In general I feel that the writing of this story went much smoother than my previous story. I have, over the course of three months, completed a story that took nearly eighteen months to write the first time. Part of this may be attributed to the fact that I was much more invested in this story, but it can also be credited to greater preparation and structure. Overall, this story was much tighter and much leaner than my first story, which helped to make it flow much better, at least in my eyes.
I originally had the idea for this story in the summer of 2010 when my brain suddenly seemed to explode with numerous story ideas. I began to find story inspiration everywhere, especially in the media. If I'm completely honest with you, this story idea has its roots in my 2010 trip to Las Vegas as well as in watching the Oceans movies. Those movies were my greatest inspiration and are proof that I began to find inspiration everywhere. Without getting too ahead of myself, we will see this phenomenon again later in this series.
At the same time as I had the idea for this story, I came up with several other story ideas, many of which are sitting in a separate file on my computer. As The Divine Plan was winding down, my energies began to shift to my next story. At one point I planned on abandoning my first story and simply moving on to writing this one instead. However, I persevered and finished that story. As I did so, I realized that I needed to push myself to the next level; I needed to challenge myself when it came to storytelling. My solution to this predicament was to conceive a long, detailed plot that dwarfed anything I had attempted before. However, the one thing that I wanted to avoid was a massive 500,000 word or longer beast, for fear that I would lose interest along the way. This had happened when I was writing The Divine Plan, as I started to grow bored after about twenty chapters. So it became my goal to prevent that from ever happening again. Therefore, I decided that it would be best to write a series, and as that idea gestated I realized that I could write a series using the story ideas that I already had. Thus, the Time series was born. While each of the four originally planned stories in this series began life as their own independent story idea, I was able to, with a few modifications, connect them together to form one massive story that, I feel, is much better than they would have been on their own.
Unfortunately, over the course of writing this story I, along with my beta inVale, decided that various plot elements were not entirely feasible. The worst part of this was that we realized this toward the end of writing Stealing Time. As a result some plot elements that I had teased during early chapters were discarded as the series was cut down from four stories to two. I will still do my best to tie up those plot elements as neatly as possible but I do apologize for any that I might miss. This series will, however, be better in the long run for that decision. In my note at the end of Killing Time, I hope to be able to detail the original plot for this series and reveal the cut portions of the plot.
Regarding the Queen songs, I have every intention to continue using those as chapter titles. However, it is quite difficult to do so, even though it is very rewarding. Over the course of this story, a few chapters changed names several times and one chapter was even added just for the sole purpose of using another song (and to bring the total number of chapters up to 21, which is purposeful due to the setting of Las Vegas). For example, chapter 4, which I ended up calling In Only Seven Days, was originally called One Vision as it dealt with the Order meeting and deciding that the group would travel to Vegas. Likewise, chapter 12 changed names a few times. While I originally settled on Son and Daughter, the chapter was, for no apparent reason, originally named A Kind of Magic before the title changed to Father to Son due to the conversation between Sirius and Harry.
Another note that I want to make is that the final chapter of both of the stories in this series will use album titles. We already saw that with this chapter, and as I have already laid out the chapter titles for the entirety of Killing Time, that will continue to be the case.
Writing Stealing Time has been some of the greatest fun I've had in a long time and I have you to thank, at least in part, for that. But while I was having my fun, I was also learning a great deal. If any of you reading this are planning or wanting to write in the future, please keep reading. When I initially started writing fiction I did not do any preparation; I simply jumped headfirst into writing and started to make my own mistakes. We learn the most by making our own mistakes but we can also learn from the mistakes of others, and learn from what they have learned. That is why I want to present the top lessons that I learned while writing this story, in the hopes that even one aspiring author will be able to learn at least something:
1. Your characters are your plot. As incomprehensible as that may sound, a story is nothing without its characters. You may have the greatest, most original story idea in the history of mankind. But if the characters are not there to support it, then the story will fall flat. I spent so much time developing the plot of this story in the wake of The Divine Plan that I left the characters by the wayside, at least according to a few reviews. That is something I hope to address in the future.
2. Don't lose the plot. I will admit that I have fallen victim to this problem before but I tried to rectify that situation in this story. Basically, I have read a large number of stories that seem to meander from chapter to chapter with few to no story-critical events occurring. While I have infinite respect for any person who decides to try their hand at writing a story, I have realized that every chapter needs to have a purpose. Even if it is only a small plot point every chapter needs to contribute to the overall story by keeping things moving along. As I said above, character development is key, but must be coupled with plot development, instead of just watching the characters stand around shooting the breeze.
3. Your outline is your best friend. As I mentioned in the post-mortem for The Divine Plan, I wrote that story without the aid of an outline. For this story I decided to try writing a complete outline before I ever started writing the story and that made the entire writing process much easier. What this does is it helps to organize your thoughts and helps you to not forget anything. When writing a long, novel-length story such as this one, it is extremely easy to forget a minor plot point that was supposed to have lasting implications later. That is what an outline helps with. However, that is not to say that you cannot change the story during the writing process, as I certainly did so as I continued to write this story. Invariably, as one writes, new ideas pop up that might sound great. So long as they are incorporated into the story organically, there is no problem deviating from the outline.
4. Different people have different tastes. As obvious as that sounds, no matter how good your story is, you will always receive negative reviews; that is the nature of life. But just because somebody doesn't like your story doesn't mean you have to change it to suit that one person's unique tastes. I was certainly tempted to do this as this story progressed, especially when a few reviewers claimed that the characters seem poorly realized or, in some cases, robotic. While that was hardly what I was trying to do, the fact that the vast majority of reviews for this story were glowing made me realize that not everyone has the same tastes. Even so, I was tempted to change the characterization of the characters in this story, in an attempt to suit everybody's needs. However, I quickly realized that I didn't know how to do that. In all honesty, I write these characters the way I know how and that is exactly how you should as well.
5. Try to keep a regular update schedule. While this may seem like common sense, giving yourself the extra pressure of maintaining a relatively consistent update schedule helps with the development of the story. If you are just casually writing and releasing chapters at random intervals, I have found (at least through my own experience), that your mind tends to wander away from the story. When this happens, potential plot problems are no longer solved, and the interest in the story starts to wane. That is certainly a situation I faced with The Divine Plan, and it caused me to nearly give up on the story. Now, this is not to say that everybody's productivity should be consistent. I realize that people have other things to do in their lives other than writing their masterpiece. However, that does not prevent consistent updates. For example, when I started this story, I wrote the first six or seven chapters before I even posted the first one; and that was after I finished my outline. This allowed me to have a buffer between the chapter I was currently writing and what was posted, just in case I ran into a few snags in the writing process. In fact, as I am writing this note, I have only just posted chapter 13 of this story.
While these lessons may not apply to everybody, they are what I have been able to take away from writing this story. I hope that there is somebody out there who may be able to take away something from them as well because, if there is even one person who can, it will make it all worthwhile to me. I also hope to be able to apply these lessons in my future writing endeavors.
Speaking of my future writing endeavors, I now want to talk about the sequel to this story. If you have read this far, it is likely that you might be looking for a few hints about where this series is going, so let's get started.
My guiding principle throughout this entire series is to write something original. I have seen too many stories on the Internet that tend to tell the same story in different words. Admittedly that is exactly what I did with The Divine Plan, when I literally thought to myself, "I can do that!" In the end I did… almost to a fault. While that story did have some unique and original elements, its entire premise was based in a time-tested, cliché plot that revolved around going back in time and starting over. As of right now, I have no plans to write another "do canon all over again" story. But if I do, somehow, incorporate time travel into a future story it will be used in another way, perhaps similar to PoA when Harry and Hermione go back in time to basically fill in the blanks and fill in any plot holes. As a result, I will try not to post a story whose premise I have seen before, and will use the words of novelist Thomas Berger, who asked, "Why do writers write? Because it isn't there."
Now that Stealing Time is complete, I am going to move on to its sequel: Killing Time. This story is planned to be a much darker affair than Stealing Time and will deal with some plot elements that I have not yet tackled. The story will be bigger and grander than in Stealing Time, dealing with a number of different story threads and the larger repercussions of those. My guiding question when developing the story of Killing Time was "why is Voldemort so bad?" Throughout canon, my impression of Voldemort was that he was little more than a mass murderer and was not really shown to be a true threat to the existence of the magical world. He seemed more like a terrorist than a true villain in my view. I want to explore that a bit more in Killing Time, which you should hopefully be reading in the next few weeks. However one thing that I do want to reiterate is the fact that Stealing Time is only the first part of this series. While I did tie up a number of loose ends as the story ended, there are still many more out there. This entire premise is the basis of the title I chose for this post-mortem. The plot for that story has also been reworked somewhat and has undergone extensive development between myself and inVale, who is also involved in the writing process. He was involved in the final chapters of this story as well, as both a beta and a sounding board. My thanks go out to him for all of his help, as well as to pathseekerme for her help in editing the chapters of this story and providing her assistance!
I also want to take a moment to talk about my writing future. I am not egotistical enough to think that I am a perfect writer by any stretch of the imagination. If you are reading this, it is possible that you have left me a review at one point or another, which means that I may have responded to you as well. If I have then you would know that I welcome constructive criticism; I want to know how my readers think that I can improve. However, constructive criticism must provide some direction as well. Saying what I am doing wrong without saying how to fix it is like giving a person a destination without giving them directions to get there; it just doesn't work. So, for instance, saying that I should characterize Harry or Hermione better does little to help me, as it does not say how I am mischaracterizing them. I welcome constructive criticism with open arms, as I want to improve as a writer. It just needs to be presented in the right way. So please leave me a review and let me know what you thought. I hope every one of you who read this chapter will do so.
And now it is time to tally up the scores for the guesses for the chapters in this story. First off, let me congratulate the following reviewers for correctly guessing the title for this chapter: MariusDarkwolf, luvsanime02, osc630, acam, and Kingswriter. Great job all of you! But now it is time to see who won for this story; who guessed the most chapters correctly as this story was written. This total includes the guesses for the epilogue, and all guesses through the posting of the final chapter:
Dora Penmoko: 2
inVale: 2 - Note from inVale: I would have gotten more if I was allowed to compete :p
Kyprioth's crow: 1
Chaotic Courtney: 1
Witty Eagle Proud Ravenclaw: 1
Chelle-Marie Mcgonagle: 1
So as we can see, luvsanime02 is the clear winner, having guessed 15 out of the 21 chapters correctly! Congratulations and well done! I want to thank all of you for participating in this little game, and I hope that it was at least a bit of fun for you. I also hope that all of you return for Killing Time, where we will be playing the same game again. With the sequel, the game will be somewhat harder, as I used a large number of well-known Queen songs in Stealing Time. However, that simply means that the game will be more rewarding. It looks as though luvsanime02 will be the person to beat going into Killing Time. So who among you is ready to beat them? I urge all of you to brush up on your Queen songs, as the next story will be posted soon. I have provided the hint for the first chapter of it below. But there is one other hint I can provide about the chapter titles in Killing Time: there will be plenty of "Queens."
Chapter Title Hint: Even though this story is finished, I want to give you a hint as to the title of the first chapter of Killing Time. I will use Queen songs throughout that story, as I have already planned that out. The first chapter of that story will be named after a song off of the Made in Heaven album, released in 1995. This song, originally written for Roger Taylor's band The Cross, was song by Freddie Mercury right around the Magic era. However, following his death, Queen added this song to the Made in Heaven album as a sort of commemoration of his life. Guesses for this chapter, even though they are in reviews for this story, will be reported when I post the next story, and will be included in the count at the end of Killing Time.
And so, my friends, we come to the end of Stealing Time. I must thank all of you once again for reading and reviewing. If you enjoyed this story or want an alert as to when Killing Time is posted, please add me to your Author Alert or Favorite Author list. At the same time, for all of you who have read this far, I ask you to please leave me a review. Tell me what you thought of this story, what needs to continue, and what I need to improve on. As I said in my post-mortem of The Divine Plan, if this is where you get off, thank you for riding. But as for the rest of you, I hope to see you again in the near future, as without you, my dear reader, none of this would be possible. So good night, good luck, and I'll see you soon.
What's this? It looks like a bit of the story tried to escape from the rest and hide after the credits. Well, we can't let that happen can we?
July 31, 2011
Harry creaked open the door to his room to find the wrapped present still on the counter. He hesitated for a moment before deciding she wouldn't mind. With a smile he unwrapped the gift neatly, just as she would, to find a handsome leather journal. On the first page he found her neat print print filling the lines.
I feel I shouldn't break my tradition of buying you books for every occasion. It's not because I feel you need the extra help, honest. Well, maybe just a bit. I know you can tell me anything but just in case, you can write it in here. I promise to call it a journal and not a 'diary' for your fragile masculine ego.
Harry smiled and flipped to the second page and was surprised to find that she had written on the second page as well. Her usual neat hand writing was marred by words scratched out and sentences re-written.
There is a simple irony in writing that you can tell me anything and then hiding my words inside this journal. But at least I hope they'll reach you eventually. I expected many things from this summer; I hoped to get in months of reading, relaxation and time with my parents. Instead I got you and this time with you has been something truly special. I hope you feel that way about it too.
Harry resisted the urge to rush out into the hall bang on her door; to drag her back out into the hallway and tell her the truth; that despite Dark Wizards, the company of Snape and Malfoy, and the confusion it brought to his life this summer holiday, the time he had spent with her had been the best of his life.
But he held back, realizing that that could wait. Instead he grabbed the nearby hotel pen, opened to a fresh page and began to write...
To Be Continued...