Disclaimer: I would just like to say that I hold no ill feelings toward J.K. Rowling on the long wait for Book Five in her brilliant series. I'm just having good fun with a silly scene I had in my head while checking and bagging groceries at work, and talking to friends on AOL Instant Messenger. In fact, I'm happy that Ms. Rowling is being careful about the book, and give her good tidings.

As such, I don't own her characters, and I do really believe that Voldemort is evil and don't sympathize with him. Really.

TWO YEARS OF LIMBO

aka "Waiting for Book Five"

Disclaimer: I would just like to say that I hold no ill feelings toward J.K. Rowling on the long wait for Book Five in her brilliant series. I'm just having good fun with a silly scene I had in my head while checking and bagging groceries at work, and talking to friends on AOL Instant Messenger. In fact, I'm happy that Ms. Rowling is being careful about the book, and give her good tidings.

As such, I don't own her characters, and I do really believe that Voldemort is evil and don't sympathize with him. Really.

~*~*~

It was the typical summer night for Harry Potter on number four, Privet Drive. In fact, it'd been the same typical summer night for two years, and Harry was tired of it. It was exhausting, the way he spent his holidays. It was always the same. The Dursleys treated him like total crap. He stayed locked up in his room, waiting for the thirty-first of July, when owls would arrive with his presents from his friends and a letter from Hogwarts.

Harry was used to this routine. It was how every book started. He had a miserable recap of a miserable summer, then bang, something exciting happened to put him back in the wizard world.

This was all fine and wonderful.

Harry didn't mind it.

If only he wasn't stuck like this for two whole years!

He was getting tired of staring at his blank walls and worrying about Voldemort, his friends, Sirius, and feeling guilty about Cedric Diggory. He would happily do this if there were some progress in it. But no, he was stuck in this miserable world, waiting for book five to come out.

Just like everyone else.

While Harry was thinking about all this, there was an odd sound outside his bedroom window. His heart leapt. Finally! Book five!

But what was the title? Why hadn't the Dursleys abused him a bit before something happened?

Harry watched, confused, as something that looked oddly like a contraption off of Batman shot through the window and embedded itself in the wall. Then he heard voices from outside. They sounded vaguely familiar, but as he'd had no contact with anyone but Hedwig for two years, he couldn't clearly recall to whom the two voices belonged.

More odd noises accompanied the arguing hisses, and then a red mop of hair popped into view.

Harry stared.

The gangly, freckled boy toppled into the room. He barely glanced at Harry. Instead, he popped his head back out the window.

"Hurry up! You're making enough noise to wake the dead!"

"Oh, really, Ron!" scoffed a familiar, bossy female voice. "You're the one shouting!"

A bushy brown head appeared, and the freckled boy pulled the girl inside. She dusted off her skirt and glanced around the bedroom. Her nose wrinkled in disgust.

"Honestly, Harry, I think you would have had time to clean your room."

Harry's mouth had dropped open.

"Hermione? Ron? What are you doing here?"

Ron shrugged and sat down, backwards, in Harry's chair.

"We were getting bored," he said, nodding to Hermione. "So we decided we'd come over here, mate."

"So, this isn't the beginning of the next book?"

Ron shook his head sadly. "'Fraid not."

Harry sighed. He looked to Hermione, who was petting Hedwig. "I suppose you've been busy doing all your schoolwork?"

"Oh, no. What am I supposed to do? The same essays for two whole years? I've revised them hundreds of times, but there's only so much I can do."

Harry's mouth dropped again.

Ron grinned. "You should have heard it, Harry! She actually said 'I'm bored with homework'!"

"No!"

"Yes!"

"Oh, shut up."

Harry and Ron grinned maniacally for several minutes.

"So, what have you two been doing?" Harry asked once he'd stopped grinning.

Ron and Hermione exchanged a grimace. Before either could speak, an odd noise brought their attention to the window. Another redhead popped over the windowsill.

"Ginny! What—you followed us!"

"Of course I did. I'm bloody bored, too."

Harry mechanically dropped his jaw as Ginny marched over and sat down beside him on the bed.

"Oh, come on," she said to him. "Read fanfiction."

Ron and Hermione groaned.

"That's what we've been doing," said Ron.

"Fanfiction?"

They all nodded slowly, wearing resigned expressions.

"These two years have been awful," said Hermione. "They weren't so bad at first. A lot of the readers saw how obvious it was that Ron and I were going to end up together."

"Sure, we had to tolerate some of the raunchy stuff," Ron shrugged, "but it wasn't that hard to deal with. But then it took some nasty turns."

"Oh no," said Harry. "Let me guess—they're still on about Hermione and me hooking up?"

"Well, there is that," Hermione admitted, looking rather sick. "But the ships have gotten worse. How would you like to be paired with Draco? Or Snape?"

"But I have!" Harry argued. "Draco, Snape, Dumbledore, Ron—sorry, mate, don't feel that way about you—Viktor, even Filch! I don't like boys!"

"You've been shipped with them, too?" Ron looked equally disgusted.

"I've also been paired with Fleur—"

"And that's bad?"

"Well, no, not really—"

Hermione and Ginny cleared their throats.

"Fleur's pretty, but I thought Goblet of Fire made it quite clear I didn't have any interest in her," Harry said quickly, eyeing the two girls uneasily.

"Unlike some people," Hermione hissed pointedly, glaring at Ron.

Ron ignored her. "Funny, Hermione, you're never put in a slash ship. Well, not as often as us," he amended as she opened her mouth to correct him.

"It's bad enough I get the professors!"

"But you like professors!"

"Not like that, you git!"

"LOCKHART!"

That shut Hermione up.

"Where were we?" said Ron.

"Ships."

"Right."

"So," said Harry. "Draco, you, Snape, Viktor, Dumbledore, Fleur . . . oh, there's Cho. I wouldn't complain. I mean, I did have a crush on her, but seriously. It just wouldn't feel right, what with Cedric and everything."

Hermione, having recovered from the reminder of her very silly crush, spoke up then. "What about Ginny?"

"Yeah," said Ginny, giving Harry a meaningful look. "What about me?"

Harry glanced nervously at Ron before giving Ginny a shy grin. "That's the only ship I like."

Ginny blushed.

"Oh no," Ron groaned. "Harry, have you even read some of the H/G fics? They can be revolting."

"You don't like it because you come across as the jerk brother," said Ginny. "What I hate is how OOC I can get."

"OOC?" Harry asked curiously.

"Out of character."

"Oh, yeah. Like you when slap me or—"

"Don't say it, Harry!"

Harry grinned sheepishly and turned very red.

Ron shook his head, disgusted.

"One ship I do like," said Hermione with a giggle, "is Dead Draco and Moaning Myrtle!"

They must have made quite a lot of noise laughing right then, because the locked door to Harry's room opened. They fell silent as all three Dursleys entered.

"Oh? Did the book start?" Uncle Vernon asked, looking rather hopeful.

"Sorry. No."

"Oh." Uncle Vernon seemed crestfallen. He looked around the sparse room. "Well, can we join you? Are these your friends?"

Harry was about to let his mouth drop open, but that was getting old. "Sure," he said instead. Perhaps even the Dursleys got tired of being nasty.

Harry introduced the Dursleys to his friends. All three of them smiled and nodded, although they did look a bit nervous in the company of another wizard and two witches. Ron and Hermione exchanged wide eyes, but no one was more shocked than Harry.

"So, what have you lot been talking about?" asked Uncle Vernon conversationally.

"Um, well, we were just talking about weird ships," Harry said slowly. He hadn't recovered quite yet.

Dudley let out a derisive snort.

"You think you've got it bad," he said, rolling his eyes. "What about us? Sure, no one's pairing us up funny, but at least you lot get to do something. We're stuck in limbo, cousin. If someone writes about us, it's just the same. We don't get to go on adventures. We only get two chapters or so in each book!"

"You had six in the first one," Hermione reminded him.

"Big deal," Dudley whined. "Harry's got the whole series going for him."

At that moment, the door opened and Draco Malfoy sauntered in. Harry and Ron leapt to their feet, wishing they had their wands, but since Book Five hadn't been published yet, they didn't.

"What are you here, Malfoy?" Harry demanded, calculating how many steps it would take to reach Malfoy and break his nose.

Draco smirked. "Hello, Potter."

"Who are you?" Uncle Vernon demanded.

"A slimy git," answered Ron, seemingly also calculating how many steps it'd take to reach Malfoy and break his nose. It would take two, if an arm was already swinging by the time Malfoy was reached. The added force of walking along with the swinging fist would possibly cause his skull to go back in his brain . . .

Draco scowled at Ron and sneered at Uncle Vernon. "I'm Harry's arch-nemesis."

"Oh, well, sit yourself down, then."

Draco did just that. Harry was about to protest or threaten him or break his nose, but then he figured, why not? Obviously, Malfoy was just as tired of being left hexed on the school train for two years as Harry was being locked up in his room and unable to use the toilet.

"Nice room, Potter. Quaint. If you like that sort of thing."

"Oh, shut up."

"Now, boy, we have a guest," Aunt Petunia scolded Harry. "Show some manners."

"Doesn't it bother you that Draco's a wizard?" said Harry.

The Dursleys glanced at Malfoy, each other, and shrugged indifferently.

"I'll get some more chairs," Petunia volunteered brightly. "It's been quite some time since we've had company!"

~*~*~

"That's a lovely garden you have there, Mrs. Dursley," Remus said graciously.

"Oh," gushed Aunt Petunia, "it's just a mere patch. And, please, call me Petunia."

"I think I'm getting a headache," Harry groaned, overhearing the conversation by the hedges.

"Is it your scar?" Ron asked hopefully.

"No."

"I wish it was," Hermione sighed wistfully. "That would mean the book was starting."

The trio gazed over the scene before them. Number four, Privet Drive had turned into a rather popular spot tonight. Just about everyone Harry knew (and many he didn't) had shown up. Aunt Petunia was delighted. She and Mrs. Weasley had gotten on quite well in the kitchen, even swapping recipe secrets.

A cheer went up from the drive, and Harry swiveled around to see Dumbledore and Uncle Vernon doing the electric slide.

Nothing would ever surprise Harry again.

Hermione suddenly let out a scream, which was echoed by everyone else, likewise, screaming.

Harry's heart lodged itself in his throat. I think the next book has just started, he thought wryly.

Standing in a formidable semi-circle were the Death Eaters. A stride in front of them was Voldemort, his snake-like red eyes sweeping the frozen witches and wizards around him. Then his piercing gaze fell on Harry, the evil face twisting into a pleasant, delighted smile.

"Harry! Where're the drinks, dear boy?"

Harry, shocked although he thought he'd never be again, pointed wordlessly to the bench that Professor McGonagall had transfigured into a bar.

"Ah! Lovely!"

The sea of copyrighted characters parted for the truly evil Dark Lord, who wore a giddy smile on his face.

"Oh, hello, Severus," Voldemort greeted the newly-elected barkeeper.

Snape looked ready to wet himself or drown a kitten, but managed to nod curtly. "What would you wish—"

"Oh, surprise me, old chap!"

Snape nodded stiffly and began to mix a drink. Voldemort leaned against the counter casually, his Death Eaters gathering around him and eyeing the liquor bottles hopefully. Harry prayed silently that Snape would poison Voldemort, but didn't hold out much hope. It wasn't as if Voldemort could resurrect himself at the end of the fourth book and die before the fifth one even hit the printing press.

Everyone watched as Snape passed the drink across the counter.

"Thanks, mate." Voldemort took a drink. He shuddered.

"Yes! Poisoned!" Ron whispered.

"Whoo! That's got quite a kick! I'll have another!"

A twitter of a murmur rippled through the yard. Voldemort had another shot, and then turned around, searching for someone.

"Ah, Potter! Good, good!"

Harry was frozen on the spot as The Very Essence of Evil stopped in front of him and clapped a hand on his shoulder.

"It's a bugger of a wait, isn't it?" said Voldemort, taking a swallow of his acid green drink.

"Guesso," Harry mumbled.

"You know, I've got it the worst. You see, dear boy, we all know I can't really kill you until the last book. I've been waiting, oh, some fifteen years to kill you. Just as I come back to power, I find myself stuck. Waiting to see how I'm supposed to become all-powerful again. I've got three years to wreck havoc, torture my enemies and my lackeys, and have you escape at least two more times.

"So, you see my agony, Harry," the Dark Lord sighed dismally.

"I think so . . ."

"I don't even know if I'll actually nick you in the end. Oh, I do know I'll die. Really die. I'm the bad guy. I always lose in the end. It'd be a small consolation if I took you down with me, Potter."

"Oh."

"So, this is already a bit depressing. Then we get this two-year nothingness! I sort of want to get this over and done with, if you know what I mean. I'm not the impatient sort. How many years did I wait patiently to find just the right opportunity to come back? I dare say, I'm about due, don't you think?"

Voldemort pierced Harry with his evil eyes, and Harry nodded quickly.

"Oh, yes, definitely."

"At least you agree with me."

"So . . . so, you're not going to kill me?"

The Dark Lord drained his drink.

"It'd be silly to do it before the last book, now, wouldn't it?"

"It'd be silly to kill me at all."

Voldemort nearly tipped backward with laughter.

"Let me get you a drink, dear boy!"

He snapped his fingers and immediately three Death Eaters appeared at his side. Voldemort ordered a drink for himself and one for Harry. When they stumbled off, Harry thought he'd continue with this line of conversation. When else to convince Voldemort not to kill him when he was under the influence of alcohol?

"Yes, it'd be silly to kill me," Harry went on earnestly. "I mean, I'm the hero. I've got to come out on top in the end. It wouldn't do for you to kill me and go on with your evil world domination plan, or whatever it is you plan on doing after killing me and becoming immortal."

Voldemort's shoulders sagged. "I suppose you're right, Harry." He sounded depressed. "I am the bad guy, aren't I?"

"Seems that way."

"So, I have to lose."

"Yeah."

"And you win."

"That's right."

"But why?"

"It's how it's always been."

"But what if I like to try new things?"

Harry paused before answering. This wasn't the time for the Dark Lord to be individualistic.

"I don't think you can. I mean, you can try new evil things, but that's about it."

"I do," he said brightly. "I'm different from the ordinary villain."

"How?" Harry asked doubtfully.

"Well . . . I don't just want to take over the world, I want to be immortal!" Voldemort beamed at Harry proudly. "Ordinary villains haven't tried for that!"

"Sure they have."

The Dark Lord's bubble burst. "Really?"

"Really."

"Well . . . I still say I'm not your typical, run-of-the-mill evil one," Voldemort pouted.

"But you are," Harry argued as their drinks arrived. "Hey, I'm not old enough to drink."

"Dear boy, I'm the bad guy. Laws have no meaning."

"Oh, right." Harry almost took a drink, but stopped. "See? That's a typical, run-of-the-mill bad guy trait."

"That doesn't mean anything!"

"Sure."

"It doesn't!"

"Face it, you're the typical, run-of-the-mill bad guy. You're going to die in the end. Even if you kill me, you'll still lose."

Voldemort crossed his arms and jutted out his chin.

"Look." Harry set down his drink and put his hands on his hips, as if scolding a temperamental toddler. "You completely fit the bad guy gig. You've got the thirst for power and evil—that's very important—the sarcasm and good lines, the joy for torturing innocent victims and your lackeys. And then you've got your sworn enemy, the thorn in your side, the hero that trips up your plans and is the embodiment of good and innocence. Me.

"So, you see, you're the stereotypical bad guy. You can't deny it. Best to accept it, mate."

Voldemort unfolded his arms, let them hang limply at his sides, and gave a great sigh of defeat. For a terrible moment, Harry felt guilty and sorry for the evil wizard who'd killed his parents. After all, Harry thought, I might have it rough for the next three books, but at least I'll come out on top. It had to be terribly depressing to know you'd lose after such hard work and careful planning.

At least I have something to look forward to and wonder about. Will I die tragically but heroically, or live happily ever after?

Harry gave Voldemort a sympathetic pat on the back. "I'm sorry, mate. You know, I've never looked at all this from your perspective."

Voldemort snorted. Then he finished off Harry's drink.

Harry wasn't sure what to do or say. Just as the moment was becoming awkward, Wormtail came bouncing up, flushed with excitement.

"Master!"

"What is it, you miserable whelk?" the Dark Lord muttered despondently.

Harry heard a new number striking up from Dudley's impressive and ridiculously expensive sound system, which had been relocated to the front drive. Oh, dear Merlin

"Oh, goodie!"

Harry was knocked backwards as Voldemort jumped up from the bar as the opening line to YMCA blasted through Privet Drive. He joined Ron and Hermione on the sidewalk and watched interestedly as Voldemort and his Death Eaters jovially jumped, swayed, and sang.

Harry smiled contentedly.

If Voldemort could find the courage to face his inevitable demise and still enjoy life, then Harry (and everyone else) could wait patiently for Book Five.

THE END