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Miles to Go Before I Sleep: Chapter 3

Title: Miles to Go Before I Sleep
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: K+

Summary: Harry could only watch as his world came crashing down around him. This wasn't a battle he could fight. There were no villains, no monsters; these things just happen. Marriages fail, people grow apart, and eventually we all die. But even old and crippled Harry wasn't going down without a fight.

Harry Potter - Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Chapter 3

It was unseasonably hot for a late autumn day and all Harry could do was glare hatefully at the sun from where he sat. The screams of the children as they played were beginning to give him a headache and the running commentary from Kreacher didn't help things any. The House-elf seemed very put out by the day's festivities and kept to the shadows, muttering about how inappropriate it was for "Miss Cissy" to run around in jeans. The day had barely begun and Harry was already tired. He should probably rest, but he wanted to stay for Lydia's birthday. The entire Weasley clan would be making an appearance and he refused to let them see how weak he really was.

Every year it seemed like more and more Weasleys just appeared out of thin air or sprung from the ground like spring flowers. Seeing so many young faces helped ease the sting that Harry felt at those who had passed on. Molly and Arthur and Percy had been dead for nearly twenty years now; their deaths were an old wound, nicely scarred over and rarely thought about. Percy's ex-wife Audrey hadn't bothered to appear for any Weasley family get-together since their divorce, much less now after his death, but their daughters were there. Lucy was chattering to Julia while her boy Henry clutched at her legs, begging incoherently for a sweet. Molly, whom the other Weasleys had always jokingly referred to as Junior to differentiate her from the Molly, was helping Lily in the kitchen. Bill had also passed on a few years ago, not long after the death of his daughter Dominique. It was always the hardest when someone so young died and the Weasleys had lost three who had perished before the age of 30: Dominique, Roxanne, and, of course, Fred.

It seemed as though George always had the worst luck when it came to losing the people he loved: first his twin and then his daughter. He was sitting in the shade with his wife and son; his smile was as wide and infectious as it had always been, but there was something different about his eyes. They were old and tired and wounded. Roxanne's death had been a horrible accident. She had been a professional Quidditch player, already famous even before stepping out onto the field as the niece of the great Ginny Potter, who had retired from Quidditch permanently just a few years before. It had been her first season when a Bludger broke the handle off one of her teammate's brooms. He spun wildly out of control and crashed into Roxanne, the broken handle piercing her side. She was dead before they had even gotten her safely to the ground. In a way it was better than what happened to Dominique because at least with Roxanne they had a body to bury. Dominique had gone to France to visit her grandparents and went out one night with a group of friends. She never returned. Her friends insisted that she had called it an early night and left the group around 10, but nothing else was heard from her. Bill had clung to the hope that maybe she had just run away for some reason, that she was still alive somewhere. It took him a long time to accept what had most likely happened.

And then there was Ginny.

It wasn't all tragedy, though. The good times had far outweighed the bad. The tragedies had blindsided them, but they would keep on going because that was what they needed to do. So life went.

Harry couldn't turn his head yet, but he could see Ron and Hermione walk into the garden from the corner of his eye. His cheek twitched, finally blooming into a lop-sided smile as they came up to stand next to him, grinning and with tears in their eyes. Harry had always found it odd that books and newspapers continued to publish the same old photographs of their teenage years, instead of how they looked now: old and wrinkled and overweight. He had met quite a few young people who were surprised to learn that he was still alive; they had never seen any picture of him older than the age of twenty-five, after all. It was like the world wanted to imagine them as immortal children, like Peter Pan. It was funny; when he looked into his friends' face he didn't see those terrified teenagers in their eyes staring back out at him. He just saw Ron and Hermione, as they were.

They came up beside him, summoning a pair of chairs so they could sit down. "Typical," Ron moaned good-naturedly, his bald head shining like a crown in the sun. "Here you are just lazing about while everyone else has to mind the kids."

Harry's hand twitched in an attempt to give his old friend the two-finger salute. He didn't quite succeed, but Ron picked up what he meant anyway and laughed.

Hermione leaned over to squeeze his arm as she settled into her seat. She opened her mouth to say something, but all she could get out was a strangled sigh and a self-deprecating laugh. She leaned over and kissed his cheek and Harry could feel the pain blooming in his chest as he felt the tears rolling down her face.


Hermione pulled away then, allowing Harry to see his youngest son for the first time in almost six months. Albus Severus stood a few feet away with a dark young man behind him, gamely trying to keep the fear and horror from his face but the stricken look in his eyes made Harry's heart go out. It only took a moment for Albus to suddenly lurch forward and wrap his hands awkwardly around his father. Harry wished he could raise his arms to hug him back.

Albus pulled away, nodding to his aunt and uncle as he straightened up. "I'm sorry I couldn't get here sooner, but I've made arrangements with the embassy so I'll be able to stay as long as you'll need me. James said you were healing, so that's good, yeah?"

Albus nodded again, as though just remembering that Harry couldn't reply. Then he gave a little jolt and gestured for his companion to step forward beside him. "This is Francesco Conti," Albus explained as the man gave a little wave at him. He was handsome, with dark brown skin and a strong jaw, and looked to be the same age as Harry's son. "He's a, um, friend of mine."

Francesco smiled and said in a thick accent, "It is a pleasure to meet you."

"We're going to go catch up with everyone, but we'll be back, okay?" Albus said it like he thought Harry was going to go somewhere. He wanted to tell his son to stop worrying, but even if he wasn't paralyzed he wouldn't have bothered to say it. He knew that it wouldn't do any good.

Albus and Francesco walked away towards Teddy and Victoire. The two were standing so close together that their shoulders brushed against each other with every step, their fingers touching.

Harry's eyebrows knitted together as he watched Albus with his companion.

Ron whistled lowly. "Well, I guess now we know why Al's never had himself a girlfriend. OW! Merlin, 'Mione, I didn't mean it in a bad way!"

Harry's cheek twitched again, pulling down in a half-frown before falling slack once more. Harry didn't care if Albus preferred men; he would continue to support him as he had always done. His children knew that. He and Ginny had both told them again and again that they would always love them no matter what. So why had Albus never told him? Why keep it a secret? It disturbed Harry to think that Albus felt the need to hide this from him. Lately, it seemed like he was failing all of his children in some way. They were all keeping secrets from him: James, Lily, and now Al. What had gone wrong?

Suddenly a sharp cry pierced the air. Harry watched as everyone stood up, their heads turning towards the source, and he desperately wished he could see what was going on. Then James walked into his field of vision, carrying a struggling Lydia as Lily trailed behind them, her hands on her stomach, trying desperately to soothe her daughter. "He said he would be here!" She howled, pushing against her uncle with her might and lashing out with her feet. James valiantly tried to hold on, but Lydia wasn't a little kid anymore that he could pick up and throw over his shoulder like he used to. "He's always lying! I hate him! I hope he never comes home!"

Matt started crying then, adding more fuel to Lydia's tirade. Harry's fingers jerked closed in a loose fist as he thought about his son-in-law's absence. Harry had spent most of his childhood wanting a family, and here Ethan was throwing his away. It enraged him. Lily was his daughter, these were his grandchildren; they deserved better than that.

Harry wasn't the only one to think so.

It was obvious that Kreacher had developed a fondness for Lydia. Something about the little girl reminded him of Narcissa Malfoy and although it displeased Harry it wasn't completely unexpected. Kreacher had confused him for Orion Black on occasion, after all, and with Lydia's long blonde hair he supposed it was only natural for Kreacher to associate her with Narcissa. As James tried to drag the howling girl inside, a sudden blast of magic sent him sprawling to the ground, allowing Lydia to slip free and run to her mother. "KEEP YOUR FILTHY BLOOD TRAITOR HANDS OFF OF HER!" Kreacher screamed as he rapidly Apparated in front of James. James looked up at the House-elf from where he laid but before his son could scramble to his feet he was blasted backwards with another powerful wave of magic.

"Merlin, I always said he was nutter!" Ron hissed as he ran towards the attack, his wand out.

Hermione was with him every step of the way. "Careful, Ron, he's sick! He doesn't understand that what he is doing is wrong."

They left Harry there to watch helplessly as Kreacher assaulted his oldest boy.

Albus and Victoire were already trying to subdue the crazed House-elf by the time Ron and Hermione jumped into the fray. Kreacher dodged their spells easily enough for such an old, pitiful creature and Harry was reminded of just how powerful House-elfs really were. "BLOOD TRAITORS!" He spat out above the rising din of crying children. "I HOPE THE DARK LORD KILLS YOU ALL!"

Then Kreacher's eyes fell upon Lydia, who was sobbing in her mother's side, her arms wrapped losely around her pregnant stomach. The sight of her made him recoil in horror and cower away from the wizards and witches he had just been attacking, allowing James to finally scramble up and pull out his wand. Before any of the others could catch him, Kreacher Apparated away with a flick of his fingers, leaving the Weasleys to stand there in awkward silence.

"He's not coming back here," Lily hissed, breaking the spell that had fallen over the party. "I don't care who takes him, but he is not coming back here." She then herded the still-crying Lydia and Matt inside.

"That House-elf is insane," James muttered as he rubbed his aching shoulder, Julia stroking his arm worryingly. "He shouldn't be around people."

"We'll take care of him for you," Ron said to Harry, before turning to Hermione. "So, where do you think he's gone? Back to the Burrow?"

"More probably Grimmauld Place," she answered.

"Let's go then before he runs out into the street and starts terrifying the Muggles."

The party ended after that. Albus came over to sit beside his father as the guests started to file out, quiet and subdued by what they had witnessed. "I will go and see if Lily needs any help," Francesco offered and he quickly slipped inside the house, leaving Harry alone with his son.

Albus looked at him, his mouth parted slightly as though he wanted to say something. But in the end all he did was lean over and hug him; a proper hug this time, tight and aching and no longer afraid that Harry would break.

The Flesh and the Spirit: Chapter 8

Title: The Flesh and the Spirit
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast
Rating: K+

Summary: This is madness! England is my home. I believe in the future of our Empire. I believe in the sanctity of the crown. I have done everything that is required of a good and proper Englishman. How could I be exiled to France? - A historical Cogsworth. Fifth in the "Letters to a Loved One" series.

Beauty and the Beast - The Flesh and the Spirit

The Flesh and the Spirit

Chapter 8

February 10, 1716

Dear Lord Denbigh,

I am aware that I am probably the last person in this world that you would wish to converse with. I know that my departure for France must have seemed as though I were in connection with the rebels, but believe me that is not true. I know that I have shamed this family, that my actions have cast doubt on your loyalty to the King, but I am still your grandson - commoner or not, exiled or not - and I hope that still means something to you.

There is a favor that I must ask of you. I have a friend who was involved with the rebels: John Howard, the son of the Duke of Norfolk. Though I suppose he is no longer the Duke's heir; his actions have no doubt removed him from the line of succession, whether by exile or imprisonment or, God forbid, death. He is the reason I am writing to you now. I have no right to ask this of you and you are no doubt already under suspicion because of me, but he is my friend and I must. I have heard no word from John since the old Pretender gave up the rebellion and sailed back to France some days ago. If you could find him for me and help him, in anyway that you can, I would be forever indebted to you.

He sent me letters throughout the rebellion. He told me how he and the Jacobites took Aberdeen, Iverness and Dundee in the early months of the revolt. In September, only a few days after the fighting begun, he described the failed attempt to take Edinburgh Castle. He and a party of one hundred Loyalists approached the castle in the dead of night, careful not to alert the guards to their presence. Their comrades who had been posing as guards inside the castle lowered a rope ladder for them, only to discover to their chagrin that the ladders were much too short. While John and the others were jumping up and down, trying in vain to reach the ladders, the real guards noticed something was wrong. They managed to flee before they were captured, and John had seemed so amused by the adventure, though I did not find it funny in the least.

When the tide began to turn in December, I started to receive fewer and fewer letters from him. I heard about the arrest of Sir William Wyndham, the leader of the English faction of Jacobites, and the Battle of Sheriffmuir. The last letter I have of him tells of King George's forces marching into Scotland with heavy artillery. He spoke of the sounds of canons firing at their heels as he and the other Jacobites fled deeper and deeper into the Scottish Highlands. To ward off the militia, the old Pretender and John's commander, the Earl of Mar, ordered that the villages they passed through be burned. He told me about how he had personally set fire to people's homes, leaving them without any means of shelter in the dead of winter. He seemed so contrite. I know that he has had a change of heart and that he regrets his rash actions. I am sure of it. I know that might not seem like much to you. His side lost, after all, of course you would think that he only regrets what happened only because he must now face the consequences, but it is more than that. You do not know him like I do. It would be a waste for him to spend the rest of his life locked away in some horrible prison. He is a good person, despite his faults.

I do not know if he survived the rebellion. He has not returned to France, at any rate, and so I know something terrible must have befallen him. He might have already been tried and executed, though I am sure I would have heard about that if it was true. He might be in prison, he might be in hiding somewhere in the Scottish wilds. I simply do not know. If you could find out what has happened to him I will be grateful.

Do tell Mother and Father not to worry. I have made something out of my life here in exile. France is not all bad, I suppose, though I miss England terribly. The French air seems to be very agreeable to Mary, at the very least, so you can give her well wishes to her kin as well.

If you wish never to hear from me again, I would not blame you. Just know that I never meant for any this to happen.


William Cogsworth, your grandson

The Hungry Ghosts: Chapter 1

Title: The Hungry Ghosts
Fandom: Sailor Moon
Rating: K+

Summary: Sailor Moon has used the Silver Crystal to bring back the dead before, but Chibiusa is about to learn that it is not as simple as the stories had made it seem. The young Soldier could only watch with growing horror as the dead continued to rise, twisted and wrong.

Sailor Moon - The Hungry Ghosts

The Hungry Ghosts

Chapter 1

Chibiusa giggled, her entire body twitching in an effort to keep as still as possible while her mother drew a line onto the doorframe just above her head. "One inch!" The queen proclaimed. Immediately the girl jumped away to examine the mark herself. There it was, just above the last one her mother had made a month prior. The sight was mesmerizing. Since her awakening as a Soldier, she was slowly growing out of the childish body she had been trapped in for centuries. Chibiusa ran her fingers across the mark, pride swelling at the physical proof of her growth.

"Do you want me to go get Papa and show off how much you've grown?" The queen asked, patting down the pink curls as she stood up.

She did. She wanted to show everybody. She wanted Papa and Puu to gush at her and say things like, "You're growing into quite the lady!" She wanted to go back in time and make Usagi take back all the teasing things she had said and meet up with Momoko so they compare heights. She was sure she was taller than the other girl now.

With a sudden jolt, Chibiusa realized that she could see Momoko. She would be all grown-up now, but it would still be her Momoko. Maybe she had been waiting all these years for Chibiusa to meet her in the past, so that they could visit each other again in the future. "Mama, I want to go out into the city today," Chibiusa announced, with all the expectation of a princess who was used to getting what she wanted.

"Do you want to go shopping?" Her mother asked. "We could do a little sightseeing, maybe catch a play. Or visit a museum." She said the last option with a lot less enthusiasm.

"No, I just want to visit a friend."

"And who do you know who lives outside the palace?" She teased.

"Momoko Momohara."

All of a sudden, the queen grew very quiet and still. She took her daughter's hands and gently led her over to the girl's bed, picking her up and placing her next to her on the pink lace covers. "Small Lady," the queen began. "Your friend Momoko lived over nine hundred years ago."

Chibiusa scowled up at her mother, trying to understand what the other woman was getting at. "So? You were alive nine hundred years ago too."

"Yes, but I'm not like other Earth people," the queen explained. "I am the daughter of the Moon, my lifespan is much longer than theirs, though even I am not immortal. Sweetheart, I'm sorry, but your friend died a long, long time ago."

Chibiusa felt her face grow red as the anger began to bubble up at those words. She could handle Momoko being a grown-up, but to be dead for hundreds and hundreds of years? Not even the ashes would survive that long. "And what about Papa?" Chibiusa demanded, desperate to cling to any flicker of hope. "He's a regular Earth man!"

"The King is my husband and because of that the Silver Crystal has extended his life to match mine, and do not forget that he has a Sailor Crystal of his own. It is a powerful thing, this Crystal." The long, white fingers of the queen brushed the brooch that was pinned to Chibiusa's chest. "It has done a lot for the Earth people. It has eradicated disease, old age, and has lengthened their lives by about hundred years. But we, you and me and the other Sailor Soldiers, are destined to live much, much longer."

"But..." Chibiusa stuttered out. "Why can't we make the Silver Crystal do what we wanted? If it can make Papa live for thousands of years, then it should be able to do that for everyone! And you were able to use the Silver Crystal to bring people back to life! Sailor Mars told me the story of Sailor Moon's fight with Queen Beryl, and how when the Soldiers died you brought them back-"

The queen held up her hand to cut her daughter off. She stood up, holding out her hands for the girl to take hold. "Come, there's something I want you to see." Hesitantly, Chibiusa clasped hold and followed her mother out of the palace.

Chibiusa curled up against her mother's side in the backseat of their large, private car. She pressed her face into the cool, white leather, nearly dozing as her mother ran her fingers through her pink curls. They had been driving for hours now. In the beginning, Chibiusa had passed the time with her nose against the window, watching as the commoners stopped to stand at attention, their hats off, in a show of respect to their Queen. But they had long left the city and were now travelling deeper and deeper into the country.

"Wake up, Small Lady, we're here."

Chibiusa grunted as her eyes wrenched open, unsure of when exactly she had fallen asleep. Their chauffer opened the door and helped the queen out of the car, with Chibiusa scrambling after them. As she climbed out she finally saw where exactly her mother had brought her. It was a graveyard. She had read about graveyards in stories and fairy tales, but she had never actually been to one. She had always imagined graveyards would be very scary indeed, but standing there in the bright sunlight, holding her mother's hand, she couldn't help but feel a little silly about her old fear. Especially after everything she had already lived through.

Her mother gave her a small smile, as though she knew exactly what Chibiusa was thinking, and led her down the little lane. They came to a stop in front of a large stone monument. She watched with mounting horror as the queen took incense from their chauffer and placed it before the headstone, bowing in respect. "Can you read the names on the monument, Small Lady?" The queen asked quietly.

"Kenji Tsukino, IkukoTsukino, Shingo Tsukino..." She knew these people. She had lived with them in the past. They were her family.

The queen nodded. "I've been taking care of this grave for the past seven hundred years. Believe me, Small Lady, when I say that if there was anyway to bring them back with the Silver Crystal I would have done it already. Come on, there is an onsen nearby that we used to visit as a family. We can spend the night there."

With one last lingering glance at her sleeping mother, Chibiusa quietly slipped away into the night.

She made her way quickly over the overgrown hills towards the little graveyard, her geta slipping on the wet leaves and nearly sending her tumbling down a few times. When she finally made it, she raced down the lane in search of her family's grave. The graveyard was suddenly a lot more frightening now that it was night and she was all alone, but she couldn't get scared now. She had a mission to complete. She was a Sailor Soldier and Sailor Soldiers did not get scared.

She stopped in front of the grave and clasped the brooch her mother had given her after the fight with Wiseman and her transformation into Sailor Chibi Moon. She didn't know if her plan would work; there was nothing but ashes and bits of bone left, after all. But she had to try.

She remembered the story Sailor Mars had told, the one where Sailor Moon had made a wish after her fight with Queen Beryl and brought back to life everyone who had died during the battle. Chibiusa closed her eyes and made her own wish.

Pillar of Salt: Chapter 1

Title: Pillar of Salt
Fandom: Babylon 5
Rating: K+

Summary: Londo Mollari looked back on his life, at all the mistakes and all the missed opportunities, and thought how wonderful it could have been even as his feet turned to salt.

Babylon 5 - Pillar of Salt

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;Collapse )