By: Firefury Amahira

Disclaimer: I do not own Danny Phantom. Butch Hartman does. I would never dream of making money off his work, this is but one fanatic's homage. So please don't sic the rabid lawyer hordes upon me, there's not much for them to sue out of me.

Author's Note: This story is based on my poem Lament, which you can find with my other fanfiction. It covers the same story as the poem, but reads as a proper story rather than an epic poem.

Prologue - The End

"In those silent shades of grey

I will find a place

To escape the endless night

To find a new sun"

-"The Magic of the Wizard's Dream" - Rhapsody

"Are you sure about this, Valerie?" Paulina asked me for the eighth time today. "I mean, what if it's a trap?"

I sighed, checking my equipment over one more time. "After everything we've survived, if these ghosts wanted me dead, they wouldn't be celebrating."

It still seemed surreal, knowing that it was over. No more running, no more hiding, no more dreading the nightmare, looking out into the ruins and wondering just where HE was. Even knowing he was gone, I still find myself always alert, checking all around me for trouble. After everything that had happened, who could blame me? Those instincts were what had kept me alive these past ten years.

"But why would they invite you? You hunt ghosts!" The Latina persisted, handing me one of the large ecto guns which I slung over my shoulder.

"How should I know?" I snapped, growing impatient with her. "That big ghost with all the armor said something about some kind of truce. I guess when Phantom wasn't raising hell here, he was doing it in the ghosts' world or something."

There weren't many of us left, and few of them came to see me off. Paulina, Kwan, Star, a handful of other people I'd known back in high school, and several of the people I'd worked with after ghost hunting became a necessary skill of survival instead of just a hobby. And all because of HIM.

I hopped aboard my jet sled and lifted off to a chorus of cheers and well-wishes. Much as I didn't want to go to Wisconsin and see Vlad Masters again, he was my ticket to what was undoubtedly the strangest party I'd ever been invited to. I wasn't even sure why I had agreed to attend, given my rather well-known hatred for all things ghostly. I guess maybe that last battle had shaken me up more than I wanted to admit. I still had a hard time wrapping my mind around it. If Danny, Sam, and Tucker had truly traveled through time from the past, and that monster followed them back and was finally beaten... shouldn't the now have changed? If the past changed, wouldn't the future change too? Thinking about the implications of time travel gave me a headache. There was only the here and now, as I shot over the blasted plains and the shattered ruins toward the old hermit's castle. Or what little remained of the once-massive structure, at least.

With the stress and trauma of that last battle over with, I was left trying to come to terms with feelings I had forcibly ignored all these years. How I'd felt about Danny all those years ago, the terrible things I said to him, the last time we spoke before he died. I couldn't help but feel that in some small way, the creation of that monster was my fault. If I hadn't acted the way I did when he came to me for comfort, maybe he would never have gone to Wisconsin. Maybe he would have recovered from his grief. Maybe none of this would have happened. Maybe, maybe, maybe. There was no way now to know. Danny was dead, Amity Park destroyed twice over, the survivors left to pick up the pieces of shattered lives and to rebuild a broken society.

And me? I had a party to attend. Where I would be the only living person in the room. I smiled without humor as I made my way toward Vlad's place. I suppose it would be considered witty to think I would be the life of the party, but the merit of such wit had been lost years ago in the desperate fighting. I still wasn't certain why I had accepted that big ghost's invitation. Perhaps out of guilt- it was my rash actions regarding Danny that had led to his death and the creation of that cruel shadow of him, Dan. Some sort of atonement, taking those first baby steps away from the hatred and anger that had sustained me all these years toward some sort of understanding. After all, Danny had walked a fine line between the human world and the ghost world, and if I cared about him, the least I could do to honor his memory was to try and learn.

No matter how much I learn though, and how much Amity Park recovers, I would never be able to leave behind the guilt and pain of these past ten years. Those horrific events will never be far from my thoughts, the images haunting my nightmares like ghosts themselves.