All characters belong to JKR
Prologue –You Say Goodbye, when I say Hello
You say yes, I say no, Oh no, Lennon/McCartney
You say stop,
And I say go, go, go…
You say goodbye, and I say hello.
There was something immensely satisfying in taking pen to paper, numbering paper, and then writing down a proper list. It didn't matter if the list was a list of things to do, a list of goals to set, or a shopping list. Any list gave Hermione Granger the same sense of wellbeing and satisfaction when she made them, and the same sense of accomplishment and achievement when she completed them.
'Lists' had always been a way for Hermione to set goals, cope with difficult tasks, and weed out small, trivial things from important ones. And no matter what, her favourite of all lists had always been a 'to do' list, because she always felt she had conquered a giant hurdle when she finished 'doing' her 'to do' lists, no matter how big or how small.
At least, that was her philosophy so far and it was how she felt earlier that day when she sat on the side of a bed at St. Mungo's hospital, a Muggle pen in her hand, two pieces of parchment on a table in front of her, and perhaps the most important list of her short life completed in front of her.
Her new list notwithstanding, Hermione felt as if today was the first day of the rest of her life. She'd just moved into a brand new flat, she'd just quit her old job, she just said goodbye to her two best friends, she'd just left St. Mungo's hospital, and most importantly, she had just made a vow to complete every task on the most important 'to do' list of her life.
Now, as she placed 'the list' on her tidy desk in her new flat, next to her Muggle pen, she read it once more, carefully. Should she change number three? Was number seven doable? Were twenty items too many to consider? No matter. She wasn't going to change it now. With a smile she walked out the door of her flat to take a walk, closing the door tightly, leaving her list on the desk behind her.
While she walked, she thought about how the day had begun ... it all started with THE LIST ...
(Earlier that day)
Sitting on the side of a bed at St. Mungo's hospital, with a Muggle pen in her hand and two pieces of parchment on a table in front of her, Hermione labeled her most recent 'to do' list as such: "Twenty things Hermione Granger wants to do before she turns twenty-seven." That was in six months. She sincerely hoped she wasn't aiming too high with twenty items, given the time frame. Sighing, she realized that she should probably number the first page with only sixteen numbers, and leave the last four items (numbers 17 – 20), for page two.
For one reason, she'd already told Harry and Ron about the list, but there were at least four items that she didn't want to share with them. The second reason was very simple – she didn't think she could accomplish these four items in the six months she had left to live.
Hermione Granger was going to die on her twenty-seventh birthday, on the 19th of September. This was an inevitable, unavoidable, foregone conclusion. She had been cursed with an ancient curse while on an assignment in South America during her job as an Unspeakable, as had two other who were part of her team. The other two had already died on their twenty-seventh birthdays, and she was the only one left.
Senior team member Alex McWhorter had only six weeks until his 27th birthday when they were cursed, and he died exactly on his birthday, December 4th. At the time of his death, they were all aware of the curse, but they thought it was a thing of fable, and it surely wouldn't come true. The fact that it came true was a harsh blow to Alex's young wife and two children.
Alison Gleason died on her 27th birthday, March 1st, three months after Alex. At the time of her death, several Curse Breakers and fellow Unspeakables were already working on finding a 'cure' for the curse. They didn't find it fast enough to give comfort to Alison's parents and four sisters.
That left the only remaining member from their team, Hermione Granger, alive. That also left her only six months to live.
Although every available Curse Breaker, Auror, Unspeakable, and even Healer at St. Mungo's had been assigned to find an anti-curse since the deaths of Alison and Alex, so far, none had been found. Therefore, Hermione decided something. She wasn't going to live the next six months as if she were dying. No. She was going to live them exactly as she should live them…as if she were living.
For that reason, as she sat in a bed at St. Mungo's making her 'to do' list, she also made two vows. One, this would be her very last list, ever. Two, she would do everything in her power to accomplish every single item or task on the list, no matter what. No matter how silly, how mundane, how scary, how depraved. She had six months to live, so she was going to make them count.
Numbering her first sheet of paper with numbers 1 through 16, right after she wrote the title, she then pushed it to the side, leaving it temporarily blank to concentrate on the second paper. Because really, the four items she wanted to put on it were the easiest, but also the four she knew she wouldn't be able to complete. Still, she wanted to write them down, even if this second list was never accomplished – it still mattered, if only for herself.
These four items were things that mattered secretly to most women, whether they ever admitted it or not. She wrote out the numbers - 17 through 20 - and then quickly jotted down the things that she now knew she would never have, but had always wanted.
17 – Have a child someday. I would like to have more than one, but I won't be selfish. One will do. 18 – Find a man who will love me for me, and whom I can love for him, and then be in love together. (How poetic.) 19 – Even though I'm not the sort to dream of 'dream weddings', I'd like to have the wedding of my dreams. (Autumn leaves, outside, perfect weather, etc.) 20 – Live to be a very old woman. (AKA - Find a cure for the curse that will supposedly kill me in six months, because really, who wants to die in six months?)
18 – Find a man who will love me for me, and whom I can love for him, and then be in love together. (How poetic.)
19 – Even though I'm not the sort to dream of 'dream weddings', I'd like to have the wedding of my dreams. (Autumn leaves, outside, perfect weather, etc.)
20 – Live to be a very old woman. (AKA - Find a cure for the curse that will supposedly kill me in six months, because really, who wants to die in six months?)Reading over the short list rapidly, she almost balled it in her fist and tossed it in the rubbish bin, but thought against it. Deciding to keep it, she folded this list and placed it inside the book by her leg. Just because the things on this list were unobtainable didn't mean she didn't want to keep the list. Besides, no one would ever see this list but her. She would make sure of that, because she didn't want a single person to ever feel sorry for her, or pity her because of her situation.
That's why she drew the parchment back out from the book and tapped it with her wand. The list would disappear on Sept 19th.
Just like her.
Next, she started writing the first part of the list, numbers 1 through 16, stopping and starting, removing certain items altogether, taking her time with some, others coming to her quickly. When she was done, she felt the supreme sense of contentment that she always felt when she had made a list of things to do. Now her life had order. Now she could go about with the task of living! She could only imagine how wonderful it would feel to tick off each item when she had completed them!
Biting her lip, she read the list a second time and laughed at a few of her items.
"What's so funny?" Harry asked from the other side of the room.
"You should see what I put down for number 14," she said with a smile. "It's just the funniest thing. If I can do nothing else but it, I'd be happy."
"How many things are on your list?" he asked, removing his glasses and rubbing his tired eyes with one hand.
With a smile still on her face, she looked up and started to answer, but then she saw how weary he looked. Not just weary, but exhausted and sad. Looking toward the window, she saw Ron. He looked much the same.
"Let's forget my list for now," she decided.
Twenty items on two pieces of parchment. If she had more time, she could probably think of twenty more items to put on her list. Nevertheless, she didn't have more time. She didn't have more time to add to her list, because Harry and Ron were both leaving for Peru tonight, and she didn't have more time to execute the things on her list either.
She glanced at the list one last time (two pages long), then placed the pages together, folding them in half, then in half again, and placed them inside her favourite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, and sat the book beside her leg on the bed. She pushed the table she was using away from the bed and smiled a sad, wistful smile. Goodness, she'd be happy to accomplish even half of the things on her list before she turned twenty-seven in six months.
However, in her heart of hearts she knew she'd never fulfill numbers 17 through 20, even if she had a year to finish her list. She might not fulfill those items even if she had a lifetime.
Except, she didn't have a lifetime. She only had six months.
She never imagined that her life would turn out like this. Never a 'live in a moment' type of person, she was a 'planner.' A maker of 'lists' and a planner of 'plans,' she was never one to live off the cuff, do anything spontaneous, or 'just because.' She always carefully planned and mapped out every course of her life, studying every aspect, every angle, and every solution. Each and every hour of every day was meticulously planned, thought out, and considered before it was lived.
In addition, she had always been a master list maker. She made pro/con lists before she bought something important or made an important decision. She made grocery lists before she went to the market, even if she only needed three items. She made lists of books she wanted to read before she went to the bookstore. She even made a list of items she wanted to pack for a vacation a week before the vacation. Then she would still pack two days early, only to double check her suitcase the night before, and the day of, and well…that was the way of things. Hermione Granger was a person who lived an orderly, list-filled life.
Well…No more. Every moment of every day had always been carefully planned up until now, but the next six months would be different. No longer would she be ruled by watches, calendars, or most importantly, by lists.
Wait that was a bit of a lie wasn't it. She was still ruled by one list, her 'to do' list and one calendar, exactly six months long.
No matter, as her new axiom was to live life to its fullest for the next six months and to complete as many things on her list as she could. Yes, she realized that her new mantra sounded eerily like her old one…speaking of lists, timelines, calendars. However, this time, although she was still being ruled by a list and calendar, it wasn't of her own choice. This list was different from any she had ever made before, and this new timeline wasn't of her own making. Fate was a fickle thing. Ironic, almost.
For the next six months, there was only one list that mattered, and it was 'The List.'
Finally, Harry, who had come to sit upon the other side of the bed asked, "Can I see the final list now?"
She handed him the book containing the list, but quickly drew out the second page. He opened the book; read the list once, made a funny sound deep in his throat when he was done, handed the list to Ron, then turned back to her. He smiled. She thought the smile seemed false, sad, almost forced.
Taking the book from his hand, she stuffed the second page of the list back inside the pages of the book. Brightly she said, "Remember Harry, you promised me you wouldn't be sad. It's your last night here with me, and that's of your own making, so let's not spoil that."
Standing from the bed, he mocked, "Remember Hermione, I'm a grown man, and you no longer get to boss me around and tell me what to do."
"Why ever not?" she teased. "I've been telling you what to do for most of our lives. I might as well tell you what to do for the remainder of mine. I might even put that on my list…Number 21: Boss Harry Potter around for the rest of my life, or for six months, whichever comes first."
That comment made her former boyfriend, Ron Weasley, flinch as he stood by a long window at the other end of the room. He too had read the list, but just barely. He skimmed over it once more as it dangled from his hand, made a smart comment, "This is stupid," then handed the list back to her, right before he went back to stare out the long window. He had been doing that for the last two hours.
Finally, he said for the tenth time that day, "There must be something that can be done!" He looked beseechingly toward Harry, not Hermione. "I mean, bloody hell, there must be something!"
"If there is," she began, answering for Harry, "I'm sure you two will find it. Goodness knows I've already wasted four months looking for the answer, and I'm not going to waste six more." She took the list from Ron's hand and slipped the parchment back inside the book for safekeeping.
Ron turned back toward the window, a stern look upon his face. Leaving the book on the bed, Hermione stood to join him. Standing beside him with her arm around his waist, she said softly, "The Healers, the Unspeakables, and the Curse Breakers, as well as you, Harry and I, have all tried to figure out a way to break this curse for the last few months. No one has come up with a solution so far, Ron. I think we have to face the facts. I have until my birthday on September 19th, and then my life is over."
"That gives me only six months more, and I don't want to squander a moment of it. I watched my mother and father both waste the last moments of their lives when they were dying, and I won't do that. I have a choice, where they didn't. It's not as if I'm sick, as they were. I'm well. I'm merely cursed. So I need to take advantage of the fact that I'm well, I'm healthy, and I have six good months to get in as much living as I can, and to do as much as I want to do. Please, try to understand."
She turned to face Harry, who was still at the opposite end of the room. "That's why I need my best friends here with me during my last six months. Please, don't go away. Don't go to Peru. We already looked for a way to break the curse and couldn't find anything. Stay here with me."
Harry glared at her, and then said, "No. You may have given up on finding a way to break this curse, but I haven't. You go on and live the next six months as if you don't have a care in the world. As if you don't have only have six months to live. Go on and complete your list, but Ron and I are going to South America. We're going back to that archeology site with Charlie and Bill, and we're going to find out just why you were cursed in the first place and how to break the curse."
He turned around and walked out of the small room.
Ron placed a hand on her arm to bring her attention back to him. "Let's get you out of St. Mungo's and into your new flat so that Harry and I can get on our way. He's anxious to go, that's all."
She smiled weakly. "And I'm anxious to start my list, which I can't do here at St. Mungo's, so you're right. Let's get me out of here and moved into my new flat. I have a list to complete."
Chapter One – Mean Mr. Mustard
Mean Mr. Mustard sleeps in the park, Lennon/McCartney
Shaves in the dark, trying to save paper,
Sleeps in a hole in the road,
Saving up to buy him some clothes,
Keeps a ten-bob note up his nose,
Such a mean old man.
A piece of white parchment lay on the top of the smooth, wooden desk, next to a row of Muggle pens and magical quills, just right to an antique inkwell. Folded into fourths, (folded over half, and then half again) it stood out on the otherwise neat desk in the corner of the woman's neat, but tiny fourth floor flat, at the top of the townhouse.
The man walking in front of the desk picked up the piece of white parchment and fingered the smooth paper over and over again while he contemplated whether or not he should read it, or place it back on the desk unopened. He opted to read it. First, he looked around the small room to be sure that no one was watching, even though he knew he was the only occupant in the room. The woman, who had just moved in that day, was at the Ministry saying goodbye to her two stupid best friends who were leaving for South America.
After ascertaining that he was, in fact, quite alone, he sat down in a chair adjacent to the neat desk where he found the private looking piece of parchment. He then unfolded it once, then twice, and slowly and surely, he read it.
He read it again.
It was a list. Not an ordinary list, such as a shopping list, a list of people to invite to a party, or a list of places one wished to visit on a holiday. It was a list of things to do, places to go, and things to accomplish. Beyond that, it was a list made by a woman whom the man held in high regard, although few knew of that fact, especially the woman.
This list had to be a joke. She had to know that either he or one of his friends might happen upon it and read it. That was why she wrote it. She wanted to have a good laugh at whatever poor sap read the damn thing.
But then again, she'd have no reason to know that he or any of the rest of them would be up here looking among her things. This had to be sincere, even if a few of the things on this list DID seem out of character for this woman. Still, he couldn't fathom why the woman would make such a superficial list. Surely she had already accomplished most of the sixteen things on this list entitled, "Twenty things Hermione Granger wants to do before she turns twenty-seven."
Wait. Twenty things? But there were only sixteen things on this list. He turned the piece of parchment over, but the backside was empty. At the bottom of the page, written in her tidy cursive were the words, 'go to page two.' Where the hell was page two?
The man looked all around the desk for 'page two,' but found nothing but some silly Muggle book, which was sitting under the list. He felt slightly bristled by the fact that he was reading an incomplete list, but shrugged and decided to read the list for the third time.
Twenty things Hermione Granger wants to do before she turns twenty-seven 1 – Play Quidditch with the boys during their Sunday afternoon game, even though I'm a terrible flyer, even though I hate the game, and even though I'm afraid of heights. (Yes, I want to have fun, too.) 2 – Learn to drive a Muggle motorbike. 3 – Learn to play poker, and then play at a wizard's gentleman's club and win, even if I have to cheat. 4 – Conquer my fear of clowns. (~shivers~ ugh – clowns) 5 – Learn to cook one really nice French meal, and then share it with someone important, someplace romantic. (The Eiffel Tower would do.) 6 – Swim with the sharks. 7 – Climb a mountain. 8 – Sing in front of an audience and then have an encore (ENCORE! ENCORE!) Or else if not sing, aim lower and learn to whistle. 9 – Have one of my short stories, poems or essays published. In other words, see my name in print. 10 – Be in a real wizard's duel, but for sport, not for life or limb (I've been in those enough in my life) and have FUN doing it! 11 – Find out what all those former Slytherins do at their exclusive and elusive 'Viper's Den' meetings, and then become the first female and the first Gryffindor to join, no matter how reprehensible or corrupt the club might be! 12 – Learn to waltz and then put it to practical use by dressing up in a ball gown and going out for a night of dancing, ala Audrey Hepburn… "I could have danced all night…" 13 – Become an Animagus. 14 – Give Lucius Malfoy a haircut without him knowing it. 15 – Get totally pissed for once in my life, without feeling sick or guilty about it. 16 – Walk around Hogwarts at night, quiet as a ghost. Explore every nook and cranny, and not get caught.
The list ended there, even though the last item was only number 16 out of 20. The man looked one last time for a second page, but he still couldn't find one.
1 – Play Quidditch with the boys during their Sunday afternoon game, even though I'm a terrible flyer, even though I hate the game, and even though I'm afraid of heights. (Yes, I want to have fun, too.)
2 – Learn to drive a Muggle motorbike.
3 – Learn to play poker, and then play at a wizard's gentleman's club and win, even if I have to cheat.
4 – Conquer my fear of clowns. (~shivers~ ugh – clowns)
5 – Learn to cook one really nice French meal, and then share it with someone important, someplace romantic. (The Eiffel Tower would do.)
6 – Swim with the sharks.
7 – Climb a mountain.
8 – Sing in front of an audience and then have an encore (ENCORE! ENCORE!) Or else if not sing, aim lower and learn to whistle.
9 – Have one of my short stories, poems or essays published. In other words, see my name in print.
10 – Be in a real wizard's duel, but for sport, not for life or limb (I've been in those enough in my life) and have FUN doing it!
11 – Find out what all those former Slytherins do at their exclusive and elusive 'Viper's Den' meetings, and then become the first female and the first Gryffindor to join, no matter how reprehensible or corrupt the club might be!
12 – Learn to waltz and then put it to practical use by dressing up in a ball gown and going out for a night of dancing, ala Audrey Hepburn… "I could have danced all night…"
13 – Become an Animagus.
14 – Give Lucius Malfoy a haircut without him knowing it.
15 – Get totally pissed for once in my life, without feeling sick or guilty about it.
16 – Walk around Hogwarts at night, quiet as a ghost. Explore every nook and cranny, and not get caught.
He started to put the list back where he found it, when he got a dastardly thought. According to this list, little Miss Know-it-all apparently already knew all about their secret club, the Viper's Den, so why shouldn't the members of the Viper's Den know all about this list? He would copy this list and take it to their next meeting. Most of the members of the club had been complaining of an endless array of ennui as of late, and had wanted something more to do with their time than the regular old business of women, drinking and gambling. This list of Granger's should snap them all right out of their tedium! It would give them all something to do, and it would help Granger as well.
It was a win-win situation. The members of the Viper's Den were going to help Hermione Granger complete her list of 16 (possibly 20) things before her 27th birthday, but she'd have to pay the price. Yes indeed, she'd have to pay the price, because a den of snakes never did anything for free.