A/N: Not much to say here... just one thing to Mona: Immerhin hingst du nicht auf einem Flughafen fest und Gott sei Dank ist diese blöde Aschewolke jetzt auch wieder weg. An meiner Schule hingen zwei Kollegen im Urlaub fest (und ich wohne ja auch noch fast an der dänischen Grenze) - einer auf Mallorca, eine andere in der Türkei. Einer der beiden ist erst zurück. ^^ Ich hoffe, dieser blöde Vulkan hört ganz schnell wieder auf so'n Mist zu machen. Zur Geschichte: Angebot steht immer noch. Wenn du was nicht verstehst, schick einfach ne pm und dann erkläre ich es dir, versprochen :)
But now, better go on reading the last chapter and then read the second, longer AN at the bottom! Thanks! :)
Chapter 42: Healing
Chapter 42: Healing
The sun was shining brightly down at him, as he was sitting at the lake. Small waves were running up and down the sandy bank. A slight breeze was rustling the leaves on the trees and if he concentrated closely, he could even imagine he could hear the insects in the grass or the Giant Squid splashing with the water. Sometimes, sometimes he could even imagine to hear the laughter of children in the background, but it really was just all in his imagination.
Harry Potter had no idea, how long he had been sitting there, on the bank of the lake. He had just woken up there suddenly and had sat up. He hadn't moved since. Time didn't seem to matter. The sun didn't rise or fall. There were no insects, no other animals, no other people. He was completely alone.
And he enjoyed the solitude. He didn't need to think. He just needed to simply be.
So, Harry was actually feeling a bit annoyed, when he suddenly heard the tell-tale sound of footsteps drawing nearer to where he was sitting. He didn't remove his eyes from the glassy surface of the lake, as whoever dared to disturb the silence settled down next to him.
Whoever it was didn't speak for a long time, but eventually that person's patience seemed to run thin, as he asked in a voice that was too familiar for Harry to ignore, "How long do you intend to sit out here?"
Harry whirled around, only to stare into the grinning and freckled face of his best friend. His dead best friend. "You're dead," Harry just blurted out.
Ronald Weasley threw his head back, laughing, "Says the one who's sitting at an imaginary lake that belongs to an imaginary Hogwarts."
"So... is this the afterlife?"
Ron shook his head. "I'm sorry, mate... but this isn't the afterlife, yet. I think you can call it in-between."
Harry frowned, again looking back towards the lake. "And this in-between looks like the Hogwarts grounds?"
"I guess it looks like whatever you want it to look like. I mean, I can't tell. I didn't get to stop here. I just went straight into the afterlife after Bella's Avada Kedavra hit me."
Harry swallowed hard. "So, you really are dead. And what are you doing here now?"
Shrugging, Ron replied, "We saw that you weren't going to move on and then we voted on who would come to you. I've won."
"We?" Harry asked, his voice thick.
Ron nodded. "Your parents, Sirius, Minerva, Neville, me and even Cedric. All the people close to you who you saw die. And they thought I was the best candidate for talking to you about the choice you have to make."
"If you want to come to the afterlife with me or if you want to go home."
Chuckling lightly, Harry replied, "That's not much of a choice."
"Not?" Ron raised his eyebrows.
"There's only one choice I can make, the easiest for everyone. I will come with you," Harry said decidedly.
"Are you really sure? I mean, why?" Ron appeared to be honestly confused now, as he looked at Harry with questioning eyes. "Why are you so eager to die?"
"Because," Harry explained, "even here I can feel it grow. What I didn't tell anyone, was the truth about the ritual I used to defeat Voldemort. With the ritual, I've absorbed all of his magic and it is going to overwhelm me someday, especially now that I have the magic of both Voldemorts in me."
"I know about the ritual. Ol' Godric himself told us," Ron waved him off. "We all know in the afterlife and you were really stupid Harry. But do you know what's even more stupid? It's giving up, taking the easy way out."
Harry looked at Ron sharply. "You have no idea what you're talking about."
"No?" Again, Ron's eyebrows rose so high that they almost disappeared behind his bangs. "Then let me tell you a story. You remember when I was almost late to return home in the other timeline because I ran into Trelawney? Well, do you want to know why exactly I was late? I walked past her, as I rounded a corner, and brushed her elbow by accident. And this must have set something in her off. Her eyes became distant and her voice sounded unlike her own, when she began to say something about the Knight's sacrifice in the battle against the Dark Lord."
"Another prophecy," Harry muttered, sounding defeated.
"Exactly. I realized what this meant, I knew that this meant I was going to sacrifice myself in the battle against Voldemort. But you know what? I didn't run away. I came to the Astronomy Tower and went home with you, knowing what would expect me."
"That was mighty stupid of you, mate."
Ron laughed again. "Well, we're Gryffindors, what do you expect? And now, I expect you to be a real Gryffindor and go home. Don't run away, Harry."
"But I'm not strong enough..."
"Do you need me to hit you again?" Ron threatened. "If you're already talking like this, you've already lost the battle before you've even started to fight. And you need to fight, Harry. Don't let him win! And, please, think of all the people you would leave behind. Hermione, Ginny... and please, Harry, don't make my mum lose another son. They all have already lost one of us – don't make them lose both of us."
Harry didn't say anything for a long time, pondering Ron's words. He was right, of course. Harry was running away. He had wanted to make the easy choice, not the right one. He wanted to take the coward's way out. And hurt all the people who loved him by doing this.
A few years ago, he had sworn to himself that, once Voldemort was defeated, he would finally have a normal life. With no Prophecy hanging over his head, there were so many things he could do now. He could even finally ask Ginny on a date.
But was he really strong enough for the normal life? Was he strong enough to do what Godric Gryffindor hadn't been able to do?
He looked at Ron and the expectant look on his face.
Well, there was only one way to find out.
"How do I get back?"
Ron grinned brightly, as he got up and offered Harry his hand to help him up. Harry took the hand and was pulled to his feet. Turning so that he was standing directly next to his best mate, he looked over the Hogwarts grounds. "You just have to go through the front gate. It's that easy. The way to the afterlife is through the front doors of Hogwarts."
Harry looked over his shoulder to the great doors to the castle, almost beckoning him inside into the Great Hall, where no doubt a delicious feast would await him. His parents were there, as was Sirius, but after he had met them in the past, Harry's desire to meet them wasn't as great as it would have been otherwise.
"Alright... I'm ready to go," he finally announced, looking back towards the front gates.
"Wise choice, mate," Ron told him with a smile on his face and the two young men hugged. "Take care, Harry. I'll be watching you and believe me, if you ever hurt my sister, I will personally return from the grave and kill you."
"I'm counting on it, mate," Harry replied grinning, as they let go of each other. Though he also felt tears well up in his eyes, as he turned away from Ron and walked towards the front gates with a determined stride. He didn't look back, knowing that if he did, he would waver. So, with his eyes straight ahead, Harry walked through the front gates and directly into a world of pain.
Everything was hurting. Truly everything, even his eyelids, as he tried to open them. He knew what that meant. It meant that he should have gone with Ron.
"Urgh," he groaned, as he once again tried to open his eyes. Everything was blurry through the small slits he had managed to pry open, but what he could see surprised him. This didn't seem to be the ceiling of the Hospital Wing and also the smell of the room was wrong somehow. It really smelled like hospital, which made his wish to just sink back into oblivion that much stronger.
However, just as he wanted to close his eyes again, he heard a click and something blue and red came through the door, followed by something black and brown. The blue and red blur stopped dead in its tracks, as its eyes fell on Harry, causing the second blur to walk right into its back.
"Harry!" the blue and red blur screeched, causing his ears to hurt. But finally, he knew who that blur was. Ginny. "You are awake. Finally!" A sob shook her body, as the black and brown blur hugged her comfortingly.
"Hush, Ginny... Everything is alright..." Harry also recognized this shaking voice. Hermione. "I'll go get a Healer... Why don't you stay with Harry?"
Harry assumed that Ginny had nodded, as she then walked around the bed and settled down on a chair next to him. Harry tried to raise his hand, to touch her cheek, but it didn't even lift an inch from the bed before it fell down again. His whole body groaned in protest at the movement. "How... long..." he wanted to say, but all that he could hear was an unidentifiable gurgle.
So, it was much more a miracle that Ginny seemed to understand what he wanted. "Five weeks, three days and fourteen hours. I've been here every day, waiting for you to wake up... and now... now you're finally awake..." Once again, sobs shook her body and Harry felt incredibly bad, unable to comfort her.
"It's alright... I'm okay... I'm just so happy that... you... you're back. The first few days, we thought we had lost you for sure. You wouldn't respond to anything, your magic acted up all the time... No one knew what was wrong with you. And then you just slipped away. Your body was still here, working, but your mind was gone... The Healers said that you'd most likely never wake up again."
Talking about this brought a fresh round of tears and before Ginny could recover, Hermione returned with a Healer and the Healer ushered both of them out of the room, while she wanted to examine Harry. Sometime during the Healer's quite lengthy examination, Harry drifted off again, but this time he was only sleeping.
As the days passed, Harry quickly realized that this recovery would take much longer than the one in the past timeline. He wasn't allowed to leave his bed for three more weeks, not even to go to the toilet, much to his annoyance and embarrassment. However, he also guessed that there wasn't a minute, when he was alone, although he sometimes wished he was. There always seemed to be someone with him, talking to him or just staying with him, when he didn't want to talk.
Two days after he had woken up, Molly and Arthur Weasley had come to visit him, and upon seeing them – he had finally been allowed to wear his glasses that morning – he had to swallow the guilt that suddenly arose. After all, their youngest son was dead because of him. He had apologized profusely for this, but Molly and Arthur didn't want to hear anything of it. They had only wished that Harry could have attended the funeral a few days after the battle, to say goodbye. Harry didn't have the heart to tell them that he already had said goodbye to Ron.
Hermione was another frequent visitor, coming everyday for a few hours to see how he was. Sometimes, Draco was with her, but over their times alone, Harry thought that their bond of friendship had grown even stronger. They talked a lot about their friendship with Ron, reminiscing about happy times and not so happy times, laughing together and crying together, helping each other to deal with the loss of their best friend. They also talked about the final battle and Harry admitted that it had been his intention to keep her out of it as much as possible and had therefore chosen to send her to Hogwarts to get the sword. After all, he hadn't known then that Dumbledore had brought the sword with him. Hermione was a bit irritated at first, but quickly forgave him.
The other person, who seemed to be there, whenever there wasn't a visitor, was Ginny. She was already there early in the morning and first left late in the night, when the Healers kicked her out of his room. Her presence was one of the few pleasant ones. She knew when he needed to talk or when he just needed silence. She never pushed or pressured him and maybe that's why, one day, when both Ginny and Hermione were in his room, he told them the full truth about the ritual. They were shocked, understandably, but promised to help Harry with whatever he needed. Hermione even exclaimed that she would search for a way to get Voldemort's magic out of Harry's body. Harry had said that this was impossible, but Hermione only retorted that nothing was impossible.
During the first few coherent days at St. Mungo's he also finally managed to weasel out of Remus – who had first been able to visit him then because of the full moon – what had happened to Voldemort. Apparently, he hadn't died, much to Harry's chagrin. But he had lost all his magic, being nothing more than a Muggle now, and the Wizengamot had sentenced him to a life sentence at Azkaban. Harry wondered, how he was faring there, but in the end decided that it didn't matter. He wouldn't be able to hurt anyone anymore.
Harry also got Remus to talk about the losses the Order had suffered during that night of the battle. Ron was, fortunately and miraculously, the only one who had died, but there had been grave injuries. Bill Weasley had been attacked by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback and, though it hadn't been a full moon, his face had been mangled badly. He would always bear the scars and a hunger for rare steak. Hagrid had lost his left arm due to a strong cutting curse, which would make his duties at Hogwarts a bit harder, but, as Hagrid had assured him during his visit, he didn't mind the challenge.
There were more injuries inside the Order of course, but those two, and Ron's death of course, where the ones that had hit Harry the hardest.
Sometimes, he spent hours a day just staring into space, not feeling, not thinking, and ignoring whoever might be with him at that moment. Because he knew that as soon as he began to think and to feel the despair would set it. And he wasn't strong enough for that yet. He didn't want to deal with it, yet.
One week after he had awoken, the Healers had finally allowed Albus Dumbledore to visit Harry. They had been scared that he would upset him, but quite the contrary had been the case. Harry and Dumbledore had spent a few pleasant hours with each other, talking about both important and unimportant things. Harry told him, too, about the ritual, and as the Headmaster offered his help and assured him with a smile that Harry, as long as he didn't give up fighting, should be able to beat it someday, Harry already felt a lot more confident.
While they had been talking about the ritual, Harry had also remembered to ask Dumbledore, why he had brought the sword, if he had known that he needed it.
"Well," Dumbledore had said. "Just as the alarm was raised and I wanted to leave my office, an envelope materialized on my desk. It bore my name written in my handwriting, so I couldn't ignore it. And its content was mostly interesting, explaining that this letter was indeed sent by me, but that this me was from another timeline – the timeline you were sent to. I read through it quickly and it gave an account of your life in the past and the final battle. I told myself in the letter that you needed the sword, so I took it with me."
"But how did your other self sent it to our time?" Harry had wanted to know.
"I explained in this letter that I used a variation of the spell Proferre Tempus, using one of your hairs so that it would know in which timeline to go. I had apparently worked on this spell for a long time." Dumbledore grinned at Harry. "But how I had done it is something I hadn't revealed in this letter. Unfortunately, because I'm most curious about the workings of this spell."
Harry grinned. He could imagine how curious Dumbledore was.
During those few hours with each other, they also shared things they had never shared with each other before and also discussed, how they would go from here. The public demanded a speech from Harry, but this was the furthest thing on Harry's mind. Reporters wanted to interview him, but again, this was something Harry didn't even want to think about. Dumbledore supported him in each and every one of these decisions.
Finally, on the morning after the fourth week of awareness had begun, Harry thought that it was high time to leave the bed. The Healers had said three weeks bed rest and they were over and honestly, he really wanted to get out of bed and move around. His whole body was itching to do something and if it was just walking.
So he swung his legs over the edge of the bed early in the morning, before someone had come to see him, and walked slowly and shakily to the bathroom in his room. He was really lucky to have gotten such a room – he didn't have to share it and he had his own bathroom, too, something not many people in St. Mungo's had.
After he had relieved himself and flushed the toilet, Harry washed his hands. He raised his head to look into the mirror, wanting to know how bad he really looked, and what he saw startled him. His green eyes were dull behind the glasses (contact lenses were still forbidden), his face still pale and his long hair matted. And he hated what he saw!
Frantically, Harry pulled open the drawers of the cabinet, until he finally found what he had been looking for. He grabbed the pair of scissors and began to cut off his hair, strand by strand. But once he was done, long black strands littering the floor and sink, it still wasn't enough.
This man in the mirror was a murderer, a killer! His body was so full with dark magic that he shouldn't be allowed to live!
With a cry, Harry's fist met the mirror. It shattered, shards burying itself in his fist, but he punched it again and again with the same fist and strength until almost nothing was left of the mirror image. Angry tears streaming down his face, Harry slid to the ground, his fist bleeding freely.
Let it bleed, he thought, as he looked at it numbly.
He didn't know how long he sat there, until he suddenly heard a gasp to his right. It was exhausting to lift his head, and he didn't need to, as Ginny's face appeared in his field of vision just a second later. "Oh Harry," she mumbled, taking Harry's hand into her own and regarding it with a wince. "What have you done?"
"It's not as bad as it looks."
Looking at him sharply, Ginny replied, "Let me be the judge of that." She then pulled out her wand and proceeded to clean the fist of even the tiniest shard that had found its way into the skin and flesh. When she was finished, she began mumbling a spell under her breath and moved her wand over the wound. Harry watched in fascination as the skin knitted back together. "You have to take better care of yourself..."
"I'm a killer, Ginny... I deserve pain..."
"Nonsense," Ginny snapped. "Stop wallowing in self-pity, Potter. Get a grip and get up!" She took his arm in a firm grip and pulled him up with surprising strength. Pulling him to the one remaining shard of the mirror still hanging on the wall, she asked, "What do you see?"
Harry didn't answer, trying not to look into what was left of the mirror. But Ginny left him no choice, as she took his chin into her hand and forced him to look at his mirror image.
"Then let me tell you, what I see. I see a man, who has gone through too much, but who has fought and come out of all of it victorious. I see a man, who has been strong enough to bear this burden and a man, who is strong enough to come out on top of everything fate might throw at him. Not a killer. Not someone, who deserves pain. I see you, Harry. I see you."
And then she kissed him and it was the best that had ever happened in his life until now. Better than finding out that he was a wizard and better than knowing that Voldemort would never bother him again. If he had to produce a Patronus now, it would be unstoppable.
Two months and one week after he had woken up, Harry was finally allowed to leave. Or rather, he had been bored out of his mind and had convinced the Healers to let him go. He couldn't wait to return to his flat in London, where he had his peace and quiet, his own bed and didn't have to eat hospital food any longer.
He hadn't told anyone that he was released that day, hoping to slip out of St. Mungo's without anyone realizing it, most of all the reporters. He hadn't even told his friends, so he was more than a bit surprised, when suddenly, a lot earlier in the morning than usual, Ginny slipped into the room.
"Hey," she greeted him with a light grin, skipping up to him and pecking him quickly on the lips.
They hadn't progressed much over the course of the past few weeks, not doing much more than kissing rather chastely. The kiss in the bathroom after Harry's breakdown had been passionate compared to what they had done afterwards. But Harry was a lot happier now, after having talked to Ginny about his worries and his feelings, something he had never done before. The breakdown had opened something in him, opened the floodgate and once he had started to talk after their amazing kiss, he just couldn't stop.
"Hey," he replied, surprised. "What are you doing here?"
She grinned. "A little bird told me that they finally release you today. And I... well, I wanted to show you something before you go home."
Since Harry had already finished packing the few things he'd had with him in the hospital, he just slung his backpack over his shoulder and took Ginny's hand. "Lead the way."
Making sure to look around every corner before they rounded it, snickering, to find out if maybe a reporter was waiting there, they eventually got out of the hospital unnoticed. It helped a bit that Ginny had hid part of her long red hair under a Muggle base cap and that Harry's hair was once again short and he was still wearing square black-rimmed glasses. The last time the reporters had seen Harry, he had still had long hair and contact lenses.
As Harry still hadn't returned to full strength, Ginny side-along Apparated him and Harry's stomach clenched, when he realized where they had arrived. They were standing in front of great iron wrought gates on a gravel path, In front of them were countless rows of graves.
"Come," Ginny said softly. "He's waiting..."
She tugged at his hand and Harry followed her along the rows and graves until they stopped in front of one grave with a maroon headstone. Despite the serious situation, Harry couldn't suppress a chuckle, "He would have hated that stone."
"I'm sure he would have."
Harry let go of Ginny's hand and took a step forward, kneeling in front of the headstone and tracing the words engraved there.
Ronald Bilius Weasley
1980 – 2001
Beloved son, loyal friend
We miss you
"Hey there, mate," he mumbled. "Sorry I didn't bring you any flowers, but Ginny kinda surprised me with this."
He hesitated for a moment, thinking about what he could say now without sounding stupid, until one thing that's been bothering him for a long time came to his mind.
"I know I should have told you before, and you would have probably told me to shove it, but I still have to say it: I'm sorry that I couldn't save you. I wished everyone could have gotten through this unscathed, but if it had to happen to anyone, I never would have wanted it to be you. But I know I can't change the past..."
Harry grinned wryly.
"Of all things this is something I've learned. Going back wouldn't change anything here." Another chuckle escaped his lips and wiped a stray tear away from his eyes. "Well, what I actually wanted to say is... goodbye, mate. I miss you. And say hello to everyone else up there. And tell them... tell them I made the right choice. And that I don't regret it anymore."
There was a smile on his face, when he got back to his feet. Ginny had kept her distance the whole time, giving him his privacy and he really appreciated that. "Thank you, Gin," he whispered, as he took her hand and squeezed it.
"You're welcome," Ginny replied with a soft smile.
Harry turned around to look once more at the headstone bearing his best friend's name, and then at the blue sky above him. The December sun was warming his skin and he smiled.
Everything wasn't alright yet. He still wasn't fully recovered and there were still hard days ahead of him. He would have to fight. But he had help, help from his friends, who had become his family over the past few years. And they would help him heal.
The other timeline, ten years after the time travellers have left
"Come on, mum! I'm going to miss the train, if we don't hurry!" a young black-haired boy with glasses yelled at his parents, as he pushed his trolley forwards. On top of his heavy-looking trunk was a cage with a snowy owl, who he had called Hedwig. She was a birthday present for his eleventh birthday from a good friend.
His parents were a few feet behind him, walking normally and grinning. The young red-haired girl holding onto her mother's hand was also tugging at it rather impatiently. "Why can't I go, too?" she asked, for what must be the hundred's time, according to the father, who was rolling his eyes.
"Because you're still too young, Rose," the mother said gently. "You have to wait two more years and then you can go, too, and you know that."
"Come on," the boy urged again. "I'm sure the others are all there already!"
Laughing, the parents and the boy's younger sister quickened their pace and joined their son. Soon they reached the barrier that separated them from the train and the son went first, followed by the mother with the girl and at last the father.
Steam billowed through the air, as they reached the other side of the barrier, and the young boy's face broke into a huge grin, as he spotted his friends standing not far away from them. "Ron! Drake!" he called them, running up to them laughing, almost as if he hadn't seen them in weeks. Actually, he had only seen them the day before.
"Harry!" they greeted him, also with big smiles on their face.
"Can you believe it's really happening?" Ron asked excitedly. "After all the stories Fred and George have told me, I can't wait to go to Hogwarts!"
"I know, it's weird, isn't it?"
"Ah, my favourite godson... there you finally are, Harry," Sirius suddenly appeared next to their group, pulling Harry into a hug.
Harry pushed away embarrassedly. "I'm your only godson, Sirius. And it's because of my parents that we are late. I was ready to go ages ago!"
"At exactly seven o'clock this morning," James Potter said grinning, as he greeted his best friend, ignoring the annoyed "DAD!" from his son.
Sirius laughed. "And I had to drag Drake out of his bed at eight o'clock and he hadn't even packed yet."
"That's because I'm not as vain as you are, Sirius," Draco Black, or better known as Drake among his friend and family, retorted. "I don't need much time to get ready."
Harry had known him and Ron all his life, though his parents had told him that Drake had not always lived with Sirius. He had lived with his mother, Narcissa Malfoy, after his father had been killed in the final battle against Voldemort, but unfortunately Narcissa had been killed as well, by a Death Eater who hadn't been captured back then, only a few months after Voldemort had been defeated by the mysterious wizard.
"Yeah, right... who needs one hour in the bathroom in the morning? You or me?" Sirius argued, ruffling Drake's short blond spikes, much to the boy's annoyance.
"Hey! Don't touch the hair!"
They laughed, and Harry looked around. Platform 9 ¾ was packed this morning, unsurprisingly with all the Hogwarts students returning to school today. A bright grin spread over his face, as he saw two more familiar faces. "Hey, Jocy! Sel! We're over here!" he waved at them.
Jocelyn Snape, who was starting her fourth year at Hogwarts this year, and her younger brother Selvyn, who would go to Hogwarts next year, came running up to them, followed by their parents Severus and Clara. The adults exchanged greetings, while the kids also began to talk excitedly with each other.
All too soon it was time for them to get on the train and after saying goodbye to their parents, the children went to look for an empty compartment, while Jocelyn went to find her friends. They found one quickly and settled down, opening the window to wave to their parents. Selvyn and Rose, who couldn't go with them yet, and Ginny Weasley, who was also still too young, but who was always very shy when Harry was around, waved after them, as the train began to move, but eventually, when they couldn't see the platform any longer, the three boys sat back down.
The witch with the trolley came and Harry and Drake bought a lot of sweets, sharing with Ron. They played several rounds of Exploding Snap and Ron once again tried to make acceptable chess players out of Harry and Drake. He was on his third attempt, when they suddenly heard a commotion outside. Curious, they got up and Harry opened the door, just in time to hear a voice hiss,
"Go home, mudblood!"
Standing with their backs to them, there were two boys the size of a gorilla. And with a sigh, Harry realized that he would recognize those backs anywhere. Motioning to Ron and Drake to take out their wands, they stepped into the corridor. "Hey, Crabbe, Goyle!" he said loudly, almost conversationally, getting the two boys' attention. Harry raised his wand and noticed his friends doing the same. "What's up?"
They warily looked at the wands, then at each other and back at the wands, apparently realizing that they were outnumbered and had no chance in a fight. "Nothing," Goyle grunted. "Just welcoming new students."
"Okay... you've said your hello. Now move on," Drake snarled.
After having exchanged one more look, they scampered away, finally revealing the person they had been bullying. It was a girl with long and bushy hair, sitting on the ground with her knees pulled up to her face. She was obviously a First Year, just like them. "Hey there..." Harry said gently, kneeling down next to her. "I'm Harry..."
"Hermione," the girl sniffled, looking up at her saviours. Suddenly her eyes went wide. "You're Harry Potter! I've read all about you. Voldemort came to your house the night he was killed!"
Harry grinned, amused. "That's true... Now, why don't you join me and my friends in our compartment? There are still some empty seats."
"I'd love to... But I promised a boy I'd help him find his toad."
Harry sighed, but exchanged a grin with his friends. "Trevor..." they said as one.
Hermione looked at them confused. "No, the boy's name is Neville."
"But the toad is called Trevor," Ron told her, suddenly blushing a deep red when Hermione's attention was on him.
"Why don't we help you look for the toad and then you and Neville can come to our compartment?" Harry suggested. "In the meantime, why don't you tell us more about yourself? You're Muggleborn, aren't you?"
And so the four First Years went on their first mission to find the missing toad Trevor together, all the while getting to know each other better and beginning to like each other.
Sometimes, you didn't need to fight a real troll to become friends.
A/N2: So, this is it. This was the last chapter of this story. Somehow, I'm sad to see it go, but otherwise I'm soooo happy that it's finally, finally finished! I don't know, how many of you have stayed with me since the very beginning, but those of you who did have seen me go through a big part of my life. I finished my apprenticeship, then I went to university and now, I'm at school learning how to be a real teacher. A lot has happened, many ups and downs, but through all of this I kept writing - more or less regularly - and I kept my promise that I'd finish my story! It's done, guys! It really is!
For those of you who are curious, I have a rough outline for a sequel on my harddrive, but I don't know when, or if I will ever get around to write it. For now, I'll have to finish some other projects as well, and maybe, maybe, I'll write it then. And maybe, if my mood strikes me and my muse cooperates as well, I might even write some outtakes, from other point of views for example. But I can't promise you anything, sorry.
At last, I want to thank you all for your support and reviews! Without you guys I probably would have lost a lot of my motivation sometime down the road, and each time I got a new review, I couldn't stop smiling! You are the best!