I seriously can't believe I'm hitting the "complete" button.
I don't even know what to say, except that I'm crying completely irrationally.
Happy New Year. I love you all.
31 December 1998
Luna & Xenophilius Lovegood
Luna dropped her rucksack in the cloak cupboard, yawning widely. She ran a hand through her shoulder-length hair; most of it had been badly singed in May—it seemed easier to just cut it off. Now she rather missed the length. Daddy put a warm hand on her shoulder, kissing her cheek.
"It's nice to be home, isn't it, Luna my love?" he asked, putting down his own bag and shrugging off his cloak. "Although I forget how dark it is here, this time of year. The sun hasn't even started rising."
Luna rubbed the back of her neck, blinking sleepily. "New Zealand might have some of the best magical creatures in the world," she told him, "But I'm glad to be back." Then she paused. Her father was looking at her strangely, as though he had never quite seen her properly before.
And then, Luna heard it, too. The cuckoo clock, the one her mother had made out of butterbeer corks and crystallized flowers, was just barely chiming out six o'clock.
"It's New Year's Eve," Xenophilius said. "Tomorrow will be—it's almost a new year, Luna."
Luna stepped forward and hugged him, closing her eyes. "Happy New Year, Daddy."
Narcissa & Draco Malfoy
"Mother? Are you all right?"
Narcissa sniffled and turned her back to the door, hastily wiping her cheeks, and shuffled the photograph she held into the stack of papers on the desk. She heard Draco step into the study, and faced him with a smile on her face. "Of course, darling. Did you need something?"
Draco frowned slightly. "Nothing. I wanted to tell you…a few friends and I are going out for drinks. I'll be back late."
"Oh—really?" she asked. "Your father and I were going to try to…stay in, today. London's sure to be…busy."
Draco went rigid, and with a stab of pain in her stomach, Narcissa saw him pull his left arm reflexively behind his back. "We won't be anywhere crowded," he said stiffly. "We'll be careful."
Narcissa came forward and hugged him briefly, kissing his cheek. "Of course you will, darling. Have a nice time." A lump swelled in her throat, but she smiled, and Draco left the room. Narcissa sniffled again and went back to the desk drawer she'd been cleaning out. A photograph she'd taken of Draco and Lucius, on Draco's first day of Hogwarts, still lay on top of the stack of papers.
Arthur & Molly Weasley
"Maybe I ought to go down," Molly murmured quietly, half-heartedly against Arthur's chest. They were curled up under the quilts, even though it was only nine o'clock. "Ginny might be worried."
"I already told them you were having a rest," Arthur told her softly, twisting a curl of her red hair around his finger. "Ginny wasn't worried. She wants you to feel better. We'll all have breakfast as a family tomorrow morning." He kissed the top of her head. "It'll be a new year, Mollywobbles. It'll be…we'll all be okay."
Molly squeezed Arthur closer, keeping her eyes shut tight; she just couldn't trust herself not to cry anymore. She had been doing so well, been getting along so much better—and the holidays just seemed to have taken away all the strength she had cultivated for so long. Today, she'd cried when she found the Christmas sweater she'd begun for Fred, and then hidden from herself.
Arthur's arm was warm and gentle, rubbing up and down her back, and he offered her his free hand. She took it, linking their fingers together. "We'll be all right," she whispered, more to herself than to Arthur. "We're going to be all right."
Harry Potter & Ginny Weasley
"Ouch!" Harry shouted, reeling off of Ginny's hard collision and heading for the ground. He touched down, dropping his broomstick and rubbing his arm. "That was a serious block," he said, as Ginny landed softly on the snow beside him, looking concerned.
"You're all right?" she asked.
"Yeah," he laughed, "Angelina's going to be impressed."
A corner of Ginny's mouth twitched. "I didn't mean to hurt you," she said seriously.
Harry frowned. "You didn't—I just—I'm fine, Gin." He reached out, wanting to touch her shoulder, but she bent suddenly and picked up his broom.
"You know what Ron's like," she said sheepishly, when she'd straightened up and returned it to him.
Harry smiled hesitantly. "You're all right, Ginny? You've been a little…" he trailed off.
Ginny narrowed her eyes, bristling defensively. "A little what?" she asked.
"Distant," Harry said honestly. "Just today—I just—you're all right, aren't you?"
Ginny closed her eyes; her hand gripping her broom tightened. "Harry…I…will you just fly with me?" she asked. "Please? I just want to fly, okay?"
Harry stared at her. Then, slowly (and she didn't pull back, this time), he took her hand. "I'll fly with you," he said. "Anywhere."
Percy & Charlie Weasley
"Darya's gone back to Romania?" Percy asked, turning a page of the Daily Prophet at the breakfast table. Charlie grunted; he was reviving slightly over a bowl of cornflakes, but he'd never been a very good morning person. "She was nice. You should bring her round again."
Charlie grunted, "Why're you up so early?"
"It's almost noon," Percy chuckled. "I'm going to St. Mungo's."
"Visiting your friend?" Charlie asked. "That Lucy girl?" Percy nodded. "That's too bad, spending New Year's Eve in the hospital. You should take her a bottle of Ogden's, Dad'll never miss it."
"She's not overage. She's sixteen," Percy said quietly, and Charlie looked up at last, his expression unsettled and upset. Percy looked away.
"Blimey, Perce, that's—I didn't know that," Charlie said. "I'm sorry."
Percy was silent for almost a minute; Lucy had been an unexpected friend in a time when he hadn't had anyone else to turn to. Her injury in the war had prevented her from returning to Hogwarts with the other Muggleborns, and Percy had never felt sorrier for anything in his life. He swallowed.
"All the more reason to take her a drink, right?" he asked at last, trying to smile.
Fleur & Bill Weasley
"Good morning," Fleur purred, as Bill opened his eyes. She was barely inches away from his face, and smiled when he beamed sleepily at her.
"Still on France time?" he asked, grinning.
She nodded. "And I 'ad a few things on my mind," she admitted, shrugging a bit. "I was theenking about ze talk we 'ad, last week."
Bill put a hand on her waist. "Fleur…no matter how long it takes, we'll have a baby. I'm not going anywhere. We'll keep trying, it's—"
"Bill," she interrupted, "Shut up."
"I was going to say," she went on, "zat I know we are going to 'ave a baby. But I theenk zat zere is something zat can 'elp us."
Bill lifted his eyebrows. "Oh?"
Fleur took a deep breath and laced her fingers into Bill's, bringing their hands together. "Tomorrow, we 'ave a new year. Tomorrow, we can leave all of ze—ze sadness, and ze pain we 'ave 'ad zis year. We can 'ave a new time togezzer. You understand me?"
"Nothing's going to make me happier," Bill said slowly, "than having a chance to start again together."
Fleur pressed closer, touching their foreheads together. "Bon anneé, chére."
George Weasley, Alicia Spinnet, Angelina Johnson, & Oliver Wood
"Go on," Angelina said encouragingly, her chin on his shoulder and her lips very close to George's missing ear. He didn't mind her looking at it, even (though she'd only done this once) allowing her to kiss the spot gently. Ever since Fred had gone, he felt more and more self-conscious about it, even around his own family. Now, Angelina was the only one he didn't turn his head from. Perhaps because she had scars, too.
"Let's go," he said decisively, starting up the icy walk to Oliver's front door.
Angelina yelped suddenly, and George spun round; she'd skidded on the ice, and having only one free arm, was flailing awkwardly, trying to get her balance. George hurried forward and caught her.
"Ouch, not the sling," she said gingerly, straightening herself up. She hugged her arm—severely clawed by Fenrir Greyback—close to her body. She'd had a final appointment for repair and renewal less than a week before, and so she was heavily bandaged, her arm immobilized in a sling. "Damn, that was stupid," she muttered through her teeth.
"Here," George said nervously, giving her his arm to hold onto with her good hand. "Just don't pull me down with you."
Angelina rolled her eyes. They reached the front step, and she knocked. Oliver appeared in the doorway; Alicia had evidently beaten them there. She was standing just behind him, still all bundled up in her winter clothes. Oliver grinned.
"George! Good to see you, mate!" he said happily, giving him a hug.
"Hey, Oliver," George said uncomfortably (Angelina patted his arm). "Thanks for coming with us."
"We wouldn't miss it," Alicia said genuinely, ducking under Oliver's arm to kiss George's cheek. Then she hugged Angelina. "Where are we going to go?"
All three of them looked at George, who shifted uncomfortably back and forth, his hands in his pockets. "Well…we'll have to go get the fireworks from the shop," he said. "And then I was thinking…maybe Yorkshire?"
Angelina frowned. "Yorkshire?"
George looked down at his feet. "When we were—maybe nine, Dad took us with him on a—like a weekend-long job, for work. We went to a Quidditch match."
Alicia blinked quickly.
"Fred hated it there," George added, and Angelina and Oliver laughed.
"All right," Oliver said, pulling the door shut behind him and tapping it with his wand. "Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, and then—somewhere in Yorkshire."
Crookshanks, Ron Weasley, & Hermione Granger
"Hermione? It's cold out here, sun's going down," Ron said, hugging his shoulders. Hermione was perched on a half-crumbled stone bench in the garden. The snow-covered Burrow was glowing orange in the setting sun, which had just barely peeked out from the thick, woolly clouds that had hovered all day long. "Oh, wow."
Hermione looked up, smiling faintly. "I found Crookshanks," she said unnecessarily. A large pile of overlong, fluffy orange hair was curled up in her lap, breathing gently. Crookshanks hadn't been groomed in so long that even the fur on his face was overgrown. For the first time, Ron thought he actually looked cuddly, and not as though he'd slammed face-first into a shut door.
Crookshanks didn't seem to mind the length from his year of stalking the garden gnomes; he stretched luxuriously and yawned, reminding Ron irresistibly of a grumpy-faced lion. He grinned and sat down on the bench beside Hermione. Crookshanks turned over in her lap, exposing his tummy for a rub. He was quite clean; Ron suspected that was his kneazle blood.
"No wonder Mum hasn't asked for a de-gnoming," Ron laughed.
Hermione smiled, stroking Crookshanks's belly. Ron reached out to do the same, but the cat hissed and batted his hand away, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. Hermione snorted. "Some things don't change."
Ron rubbed the back of his hand ruefully. "I thought we were friends, now," he said to Crookshanks, who gave another lazy yawn and rolled sideways off of Hermione's lap. He landed on his feet and went to lick a small pile of snow under a nearby bush.
Hermione put her arm around Ron's waist. "I'm glad he's happy here."
"I'm glad you're happy. I promise, Hermione—no more fighting, this year."
Hermione smiled. "Where would be the fun in that?"
Teddy Lupin & Andromeda Tonks
"That's Granny's good boy," Andromeda murmured, tucking Teddy's arms into his little sweater. It was bright blue and had a T on it, a Christmas gift from Molly Weasley. "You're so handsome, Teddy, so handsome…Harry's going to be so excited to see you—oh, yes, you know who I mean, don't you?"
For Teddy had just grinned, exposing his two little bottom teeth gleefully at the mention of Harry's name. Andromeda scooped him up from the changing table; he nestled his head comfortably on her neck, cooing softly to himself.
"Now, what do we say?" she asked, bringing Teddy close to the row of photographs that she, Harry, and Ginny had curated for the nursery. "What do we say, Teddy?" She picked up his little fist and waved it at the pictures. "Bye, Mummy. Bye Daddy. We'll see you later, Granddad. We'll see you all later."
The beaming faces in the four pictures—one of Dora, about thirteen years old, one of Remus, taken last Christmas, one of the pair of them, and an old one Andromeda had kept for years in a frame on her vanity, of Ted on their wedding day—waved back at Teddy, who giggled delightedly.
Hannah Abbott, Neville Longbottom, Susan Bones, & Ernie Macmillan
"So it's going all right? You and Neville?" Susan asked as she poured eggnog into the crystal glasses her mother had set out for the party. Their sitting room was buzzing with conversation; mostly her parents old friends, a few distant relatives here and there. It was fairly quiet. Once, this had been Aunt Amelia's favorite party of the whole year; Susan missed her the most on New Year's Eve.
Hannah turned pink, taking a glass and shooting a furtive look across the room at Neville and Ernie, who were deep in conversation beside the fireplace. "It's great. I haven't been this happy in a really long time," she confessed. "No offense. Ernie is a great boyfriend."
Susan beamed and took a sip of her own drink. "I know. I feel the same way."
Hannah grinned. "Shall we take them a drink?" she suggested. Together, they went to join the boys.
"What's in it?" Neville asked, taking the glass Hannah offered him.
"Ogden's and a little bit of butterbeer," the girls said together. Then they caught each other's eyes and laughed.
"It's my mum's recipe," Susan explained. "Hannah and I have been sneaking sips of it since we were about thirteen."
Ernie nearly inhaled his drink up his nose, he was laughing so much. He coughed and gasped, and Susan had to thump him hard on the back a few times. Hannah took the opportunity to turn to Neville.
"Around ten-thirty, Susan's parents are going to get tired and suggest we take the party out," she whispered in his ear. "Then we can go to the Leaky Cauldron."
Neville grinned. "Sounds good," he muttered back.
"Susan," Hannah said sharply, startling all of them. "What is that?"
Susan, who had been entwined in Ernie's arms, jumped and clapped a hand to her throat, but not before Hannah had lunged forward excitedly and caught the long chain that had slipped out of Susan's collar. Her eyes went wide.
Both Susan and Ernie were looking very red in the face. "We picked it out yesterday," Susan said. "We were going to tell you…probably over drinks, tonight."
Neville looked stunned. "You're—engaged?" he asked.
"That's the general idea," smiled Susan, tucking the ring on its chain back into her robes. "We won't be married until summer, maybe later, but…"
Hannah leapt at them again, seizing both in a hug. "I can't wait!"
"It's nearly midnight, Minerva, you'd best get in here!" Robert called from the cottage. "We've got some of that champagne you pretend you don't like."
Minerva didn't answer, but clutched the railing of her brother's garden fence a little tighter. She had had the most relaxing, most peaceful holiday she'd had in more than twenty-five years, and here she was, standing in a snow-covered radish patch, fighting back tears.
Her brothers and sisters-in-law were in the cottage, counting down the seconds to the New Year. Five more seconds, and there it would be…a fresh new chance, a new world…
She bit her lip hard to stop herself from sobbing, disbelieving that this could really, truly be; that she could have lived through all that her heart was insisting she had survived.
"…we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for days of auld lang syne…"
And somewhere off on the moor, bagpipes began to play, and Minerva smiled through her tears.