Disclaimer: Harry Potter, not mine. This story is a work of fiction, and any non-HP characters are OCs, and their names and adventures are purely a product of my imagination.
October 2009, Muggle London
There were tears.
They cried, all of them. They stumbled through the crowd like lost children, reaching for each other, holding on tightly, realizing that once they let go, the moment would pass at last. The years would slip away. It was over.
Daniyel had only a jumble of confused impressions from those last few hours. Nine years had passed, and before he knew it, before any of them knew it, the props had been packed, the cameras put away, and their robes finally cast aside. They had done it. The final scene at King's Cross, finished at last. The martini shot. How fitting, to end where it all began.
He heard his name and turned around. Ella and Robert stood behind him, smiling sadly, their eyes glassy.
"I can't believe it's over," Ella said in a choked voice. He barely heard her over the din of the crowd. The station echoed with a hundred conversations and footsteps, and muted applause, and metallic clanging as the crew broke down the lights. They hugged then, all three of them, as if by unspoken agreement. He couldn't begin to say who had initiated it. As he glanced up over their heads and gazed around the crowd, there wasn't a dry eye in sight.
He lowered his face, hiding it, as more and more people joined them, until their group hug pushed and pulled, and threatened to spill over the edge of the platform. He should say something, he thought, as people pressed in around them. They were like a second family, all of them. He should thank them. He was so thankful for it all. But he was terrified. Was he really leaving Hogwarts again? What in the world was he supposed to do now?
It was an open future. Wide open.
They found themselves faced with an infinite expanse of days that stretched out limitlessly before them. They were not entirely done with their responsibilities – not yet; there were still premieres to attend, at the very least. But there was an end now, very much in sight. Before they knew it, their seemingly boundless journey had neared the finish line at last, and the holds on them, so few and far between now, had left them somewhat untethered.
Perhaps they were searching for closure, all of them, when they found themselves on the roof of the Community Centre by Daniyel's house. It was Halloween again, and they had slipped back into their robes, because their opportunities for wearing them had suddenly become almost nonexistent. It was early afternoon, and the lot below them was empty. They could hear children making the rounds somewhere in the distance.
"Do you remember that Halloween with Harry?" Ella asked Robert softly as she gazed down at the empty parking lot below.
"Of course," he said. "It was bloody brilliant, wasn't it?"
"The one where you went trick-or-treating, you mean?" Daniyel said, amused. "The neighbors still won't let me live it down, you know. You two have no shame."
Ella and Robert laughed. It felt good to laugh, she thought. It felt brilliant.
"Shame is not a word in my repertoire," she admitted, drawing her hands around her knees, and leveling her gaze at Daniyel's street in the distance. The afternoon seemed to glisten in the sunlight, and for the first time in ages, she felt free.
Very soon, Hogwarts would be behind her. The whole world stretched out before her, and she saw an endless expanse of possibilities. She didn't know what was next, but she was ready to turn the page and start the next chapter of her life at last. She could do anything now, be anything. She could throw herself into work, into new projects. Or she could travel. She could even go to college, like Mrs. Stevens had suggested a lifetime ago. She certainly had all the qualifications for it now. Hell, she could even study calculus. She grinned. Maybe she would finally be able to leave Harry behind. Maybe here, today, three years to the Halloween they spent together, she could finally say goodbye to him.
"Harry and I went to that costume contest after," she said, as if she were simply continuing from her previous thought – as if their conversation had not gone off on a tangent, and she had not spent the last few minutes going through an emotional journey the length of a lifetime. It didn't make her heart clench painfully inside her chest anymore, when she spoke about him. She would say goodbye to Harry today. She could do it. "We lost, would you believe it? To some kids, dressed just like us."
Robert burst out laughing. "You did not."
Daniyel grinned too, shaking his head.
"We did," Ella said seriously. "And then… erm. And then, we climbed up here, to the roof."
She tore her eyes away from the bright landscape and glanced at the two boys sitting beside her, who looked back at her intently. But they didn't speak, didn't interrupt her. So she told them. Everything. Nearly.
Their eyes were filled with understanding, with support, and she smiled, because they were the best friends anyone could ever ask for. And even if their job was done, she knew they would never forget each other or drift apart. Even if they all left London, ended up on different continents, they would be connected, always. They weren't worlds apart, after all. There was no multiverse barrier between them.
"I'm glad it happened," she said. "I'm glad we helped bring him down. And I'm glad I got to know Harry."
"Me too," Robert said, nodding.
"Me too," Daniyel echoed, his voice so soft it almost faded into the wind. "I wouldn't give Hogwarts back for anything."
"Let's make a promise," Ella said. She stood up and glanced down at them as she slipped a hand into her robes and drew out her wand. She felt the pulse of magic run through it, through her, and it filled her with exhilaration and a sense of adventure. It had been three years, and she was at peace with herself at last. "Let's promise, on our magic, that no matter what happens, we'll never lose touch. I couldn't bear to lose either of you."
"All right," Daniyel said, stumbling to his feet as well. He reached into his pocket and drew out his own wand; the wood so pale it nearly glowed in the bright afternoon light. "As if you could ever get rid of me, but OK, let's promise."
They looked expectantly at Robert and he stood up to join them. "Well don't expect me to promise on a wand, but I do have this," he said, and casually drew out the sword Harry had Transfigured for him nearly three years past. Ella raised her eyebrows.
"That can't possibly be legal."
Daniyel let out an amused breath.
"Questionable," Robert admitted. "But it's Halloween!" He pulled it carefully free of its sheath. "The one day a year we can wear these outfits and carry wands from here on out. And, well, just think of this as a wand, but sharper."
Ella rolled her eyes. "Uh huh. But I dunno how you can carry that around. Doesn't it remind you of the battle?" It certainly reminded her of the battle as she glanced at its cruel, sharp edge. It shone brightly in the sun now, the blade untarnished.
Robert shrugged. "It's just a tool… like your wands. It actually reminds me more of Hogwarts. And Harry. It's the one thing I have from him."
She couldn't argue with that. Not at all. What did she even have from Harry, other than the lingering memory of his touch? She could hardly blame Robert for holding on to his one memento, even if it was likely to get them all arrested.
"So," Daniyel said, "how should we do this?"
"I guess we just, maybe, hold our wands together – and sword! – and promise we'll always stay close? No Unbreakable Vows or anything." She laughed nervously.
"You don't reckon we could make one by accident, I suppose?" Daniyel said, and she suspected he was only half joking.
"Well," she said slowly, "I don't think so… But if we do, I guess we're stuck with each other then."
"Sounds good to me," Robert said. "Friends until we die, or we just die if we stop being friends. Wouldn't have it any other way."
He carefully extended his sword into the circle between them.
"That's true!" Ella said brightly. "Me neither!"
She laid the tip of her wand against Robert's sword. Daniyel tapped his wand to hers.
"You two are my family," he said, smiling, "and I promise that'll never change."
"I promise we'll always be close," Ella said. "Even if we're not always together."
"Friends," Robert said. "Always."
"Always," Daniyel and Ella echoed in unison, smiling nostalgically.
They stood in a silent circle as a soft wind blew across their faces, ruffling their robes. Ella grinned at the two boys before her. She could feel her magic strumming within her, playing like a song upon her heart, and she let it out in a burst, not as force, but as pure feeling. They didn't need magic to hold them together – the magic of their friendship would do that. And she didn't need any special powers to see the future to know that Daniyel and Robert would always be in it. No matter what.
And Harry… She felt him then, so strongly that she could almost imagine he would be there, standing on the roof beside her, if only she turned around. The memories of him here were so powerful; she felt they could almost take form, if they wanted to. A world without Harry... She realized she didn't want it after all. She would carry him with her. In her heart. Always.
He wouldn't be her weakness, she decided. He would be her strength.
They turned away in unison, ready to descend the roof and embark on a new adventure at last. She was the only one who turned back.
She had seen it, just out of the corner of her eye. She paused, staring. How odd, she thought. The sun was shining so brilliantly overhead. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. She took a step back, and then another, until she was standing at the edge of the roof, looking down at the parking lot below.
"Ella?" Robert said. "Are you coming?"
She didn't answer. She stared, openmouthed. Her eyes shimmered.
"Ells?" Daniyel asked. "What's up?"
"I–" she said in a choked voice. "I see… snow."
He sounded confused. She heard the sound of their footsteps, barely audible over her breathing. She felt, rather than saw, them draw up beside her, one on either side.
"What…" Robert trailed off, his voice shocked.
She didn't need to ask if they had seen it. The snow. And the thatched roofs, which were coated in it – which had shimmered into being atop the blacktop of the parking lot. The snow fell gently onto a painfully familiar street spread out below them, which certainly had not been there ten minutes past, when she had gazed down in reminiscence. And in the center, she could see…
"The wings," Daniyel breathed.
He thought perhaps his heart had stopped. Perhaps he was dreaming. Hallucinating. Because he couldn't possibly be seeing Hogsmeade stretched out across the parking lot below.
Ella's mind was blank. Shocked. She couldn't reconcile what she was seeing. Had her wish traveled so far? Was it taunting her? Was it a mirage?
"Go," Robert said gently.
They turned to him, their eyes wide, their words caught in their throats. And Robert smiled back at them, because he had watched them suffer in silence for three long years – had watched them cry and pretend they weren't hurting, weren't carrying their pain around like an anchor that constantly threatened to drag them both down with it.
"Not without you," Ella said. She reached out, grasping at both of their hands. "Not without both of you."
Daniyel looked at them both, his eyes full of longing, his voice still lost somewhere within himself. He nodded silently, his hand squeezing Ella's.
"Together," Robert said. Because they had just promised. And he had no idea what would happen next… but he couldn't imagine not joining them on this adventure. He closed his hand around Ella's.
Hogsmeade was shimmering below them.
"Let's go home," Daniyel whispered, finally finding his voice.
Ella nodded, tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. She reached inside herself to feel the magic, which had been steadily gathering strength within her, threatening to burst out. It was calling out to the snowy village below. It was everywhere. And she knew, in that moment, that it would guide them. Keep them safe.
"Let's." And she let it burst free. It surrounded them, like a glowing light. It was both within her and around her.
Together, they took a single step forward, until the roof vanished from beneath them, and they were rushing toward the village below. And she knew that it would be all right. That they would find their way.
The world glowed momentarily white with a magical energy that felt indescribably familiar, like the embrace of long-forgotten friend. And then their feet touched down gently on the snowy ground. The shops of Hogsmeade stretched around them, warmth spilling out of their doorways in welcome. The tall wings of the memorial towered high overhead, disappearing into the sky.
Daniyel felt his heart thud painfully in his throat as his eyes trailed across the colorful windows of the shops, across the snow-covered wings. Hogsmeade… he hadn't thought he would ever see it again. His mouth was dry, his eyes wet.
But Ella did not have a glance to spare for the street. She turned; perhaps she sensed him behind her, waiting. Harry stood still, staring, his mouth open in surprise. He was not alone; she could sense the others around him. But her eyes saw nothing but green.
She was running before she found her feet. She was in his arms before she remembered moving.
"Ella!" he gasped.
She couldn't speak. There were no words. There were only his arms, around her, and his lips, pressed against her own, tinged with the taste of salt. And snow. Somehow, there was snow.
Daniyel darted after Ella and drew to a halt before Ron, Hermione, and Ginny, who were staring at him in shock.
"We're back!" he said, grinning. He didn't know how, or for how long, but it didn't matter, because they surrounded him. They said his name in surprise, in astonishment. And then Harry was there, and Ella, and Robert, and he knew, as he reached forward to hug them all, as Ginny flung her arms around him, that this was where he belonged – where he had always belonged.
Ella, who was grinning so widely that her face hurt, with Harry's hand grasped tightly in her own, could feel the magic singing inside her, rising to a crescendo. And she realized then that she had tapped into it at last, the very strength of her power. He was her strength, after all. And she knew, with absolute certainty, that she could tap into it again – that she had found the way, the path that connected them. And perhaps Dumbledore would have an explanation, or perhaps not, but she knew, with a certainty she could not quite explain, that as long as she loved him, loved Hogwarts, this path would never close.
She didn't have to say goodbye after all. Not to anyone.
And finally Robert – whose heart was soaring because he had never seen them all happier, and he had spent such a long time searching for their smiles – grinned in earnest as they all folded in on each other, stumbling under the combined weight of their embrace.
As he looked out over their heads at the snowy landscape of Hogsmeade, he thought he felt something stir somewhere deep within him – like happiness perhaps, but not quite. Something more concrete. A sense of… belonging. He couldn't see the sword that he had stuffed back into his pocket, but he thought that if he could, perhaps it would be glowing.
With the same soft light that had shimmered into being in the palms of his hands.
He smiled. They had wanted a new adventure… and it was never too late, to go to Hogwarts. Perhaps they'd find a new use for their school robes after all.
A/N: Thank you guys… so much. It's been beyond amazing to share this story with all of you. I wrote TP during one of the hardest moments in my life, and losing myself in this world and adventure has been the biggest silver lining. So thank you. Thank you for following, and liking, and leaving all those reviews that made me smile like an idiot, and most of all, just for reading. For sticking with it all through to the end. It means the world. Truly. :)
I hope you liked the ending. I always wanted Dan, Rob, and Ella to find their way back home to Hogwarts again, and ever since TP inadvertently became a love story, I wanted to give Harry and Ella their happy ending. (Fun fact, the original TP was a Hinny. Don't ask me how that worked. lol)
On a related note, I have been working on a sequel for this, and it's currently about 20 chapters in! :) I won't start posting it until it's complete, but if you want to know about it, feel free to follow TP, or me if it's easier, and I'll post something when it's up.
And again, if you guys are in need of more reading material, I do beta for Jill Klein, and I've also been doing back-end beta-ing for Malebron and Animalium. They all have wonderful stories, and you guys should definitely check them out!
Thank you all again. It's been amazing. Do leave a note if you can! :)