Author's Note: Thanks so much for your patience for this last chapter. Last chapter... I'm in shock. I started writing this years ago and it's finally done. Sort of. Anyway, I'm quite rattled at the moment. I feel a little like crying, but I'll probably just go eat a bunch of cookies, drown myself in the Norton anthology of literary criticism, and forget all about it. Life goes on. Apparently, so does this story. 100+ chapters posted on fanfic. Dear God, I thought this story would never end. But that's probably my fault. Anyway, I don't own the song "The Call" by Regina Spektor. I shoved it in the story at the last moment because it felt like the right move and it seamlessly fit. I'm going to do my sad, soppy, love-dovey speech at the end of the chapter so just read. The chapter is super long- really more like two chapters- but I didn't have the heart to break it in half and I already promised this would be the last chapter. I'm not touching this puppy ever again. Anyway, now would be a good time to get a box of tissues if you're hormonal or just plain sensitive. Just sayin'...
AND NOW, FOR THE FINAL INSTALLATION OF THE REIGN OF KELLYN WOOD...
CHAPTER 91: All the Places You Will Go (Graduation), Part 4 or Abdication and Coronation
CHAPTER 91: All the Places You Will Go (Graduation), Part 4
Abdication and Coronation
Kellyn turned around and glanced at the source of the voice, her wavy brown hair flipping over her shoulder. Her hair had gotten quite long and Drew certainly liked it that way because it was quite fascinating the way she twisted it around. She was wearing a little blue dress that showed off her amazing legs and she was flitting in circles around him wearing heels that made her able to look him directly in the eye.
They were acting positively ridiculous together as they spied on students and their families, making snide comments to each other and laughing, shoving and being shoved by each other. Every time Drew nudged Kellyn, she would latch onto him, shouting that he was going to break her bloody ankle. He insisted her shoes were going to break her ankle (even though they made her legs look even more amazing than normal), but she didn't buy it and kept a hand on his shoulder or arm. She was animatedly recalling some memory from her time in Brazil as he gazed at her with amusement when she heard someone call out her old nickname and she turned around.
It was Adam Jones with the rest of the Puddlemere United Quidditch Team behind him.
"Adam!" she called out jovially, shooting a smile at him. Drew felt himself suddenly grow nervous as the team came closer.
"Why aren't you nervous?" he whispered in her ear.
"They're not scary people!" Kellyn insisted. Drew looked at the two Beaters—Jared Brongwyn and Bran Govannon—and thought otherwise… those men looked like they could break the Seeker, the wiry Delmont Tippenhoff, in half. "Besides, they love you already. We're one of them, Drew," she said and it somehow put him at ease. "Smile. No, that's a grimace," she elbowed him in the ribs. The team now stood directly in front of them and Drew was bursting with excitement and nervousness with how daunting and unapproachably close-knit they appeared. Kellyn's gaze was directly mostly at Adam, but then she flashed her trademark charming smile at the rest of the team and something changed in their demeanor.
Drew knew that look all too well. It was simply the effect that Kellyn had on people. At a distance, she could initially come off as a rather intimidating, super-confident, highly motivated, proud girl but when being introduced, but she would smile and one was suddenly filled with the desire to be her friend. These men were no different, except that instead of wanting to be her friends, they wanted to be her brothers.
Despite the fact that Kellyn already had a wise younger brother and a slightly over-bearing father, Kellyn had a penchant for collecting a bevy of men that would do most anything for her. Excluding himself, James Potter, Sam Malfoy, and Glen Huntington were the prominent trio in this group, but from the looks of it, she had gained a team that would do the job. The whole "tough guy act" on all their faces immediately dropped as she stood there smiling at them. It was almost a little awkward because no one was saying anything and she released one of her toddler giggles.
"Hello everyone," she chirped. "This is Drew," she said, grabbing his arm and shoving him in front of her. He turned around frantically to look at her but she had an encouraging smile on her face and her eyes were shining brightly with excitement.
"Erm, hello," Drew said softly. "This is Kellyn," he nodded to her and the team burst out in laughter, finding it strangely endearing that they introduced each other to the team.
"Adorable," said Brongwyn and Govannon in unison, grinning rather suspiciously (in Drew's opinion).
"Can we keep them?"
"Please?" they begged. Adam Jones sighed.
"Yes, we actually can keep them," he said, causing Brongwyn and Govannon to high five each other before holding out their hands to greet Drew and Kellyn. The team individually shook hands and introduced themselves, even though Drew knew their names by heart.
Adam Jones, with his curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes, was the Keeper and Captain of Puddlemere United and a strong, fatherly figure that the team obviously admired. Delmont Tippenhoff was the sinewy Seeker, known for his speedy witticisms and speed when chasing the Snitch. The burly duo of Beaters was Jared Brongwyn and Bran Govannon, who were so harmonious that they nearly finished each other's sentences and were both bolstered with rowdy, crass, and fun-loving personalities.
The three Chasers were Darren O'Riley, Audrey Perkins, and Sean Montgomery. Darren O'Riley, before Drew had come along, was Puddlemere's pet project/Golden Boy and the youngest member on the team. Sean Montgomery, during his first vacation after making starting lineup, had stumbled upon the kid flying in a secluded meadow and taking shots on a homemade hoop. Montgomery spent the rest of his vacation taking notes about the kid and telling Horatio Flannery that he had to come take a look at him. After much coaxing, they managed to get Darren O'Riley to sign onto their reserve team and after growing accustomed to playing on a team and reading other players, he quickly moved up the ranks and was promote to the starting team. Naturally, O'Riley's nickname from some of the fans became "The Kid" because of his young age and humble, boyish attitude. O'Riley and Montgomery were the youngest on the team and only a few years apart in age, so Audrey Perkins, the oldest member on the team, was sort of like their mother. However, there were very few matronly bones in Perkins' body—she just kept all the men in check with her female insight and intuition, and tried to prevent them from making general prats of themselves. She was very serious and all-business when it came to Quidditch, but seemed to have a soft spot for O'Riley and Montgomery.
It was quite hard to get in a word edgewise as they all rapidly talked together, but Kellyn didn't have the slightest trouble, already bolstered with a loud voice and used to the chaotic conversation.
"That was quite suave, Mr. Indovinello, all that guitar-playing and singing," Brongwyn nudged him.
"Yeah, do you think you could teach us your tricks? Because the girls were all positively swooning," added Govannon.
"Swooning!" Brongwyn repeated for emphasis.
"It is quite attractive," Kellyn grinned, looking at him mischievously. "Drew does make poor little third years fall in love with him all the time."
"I could teach you how to play the guitar," Drew suggested to the Beaters.
"Oh, we don't want to learn to play the guitar," Govannon scoffed.
"We just want to learn to fake it really well," Brongwyn nodded his head eagerly.
"We want your success," Govannon grinned.
"Success with third years?" Tippenhoff asked sarcastically. "I'm fairly positive that's illegal."
"I'm going to have to agree with Darren," Kellyn nodded her head. "I can call you that off the field, can't I, Darren?" He smiled and nodded his head. "Yeah, Jared, Bran—legality aside, you don't want to deal with third years. Ask Drew—they're nightmares."
"I want to hear Indovinello's horror stories about third years," Montgomery piped up.
"Me too!" O'Riley agreed. "Indo—Indivonelli—Invondinelli—Inelvidello?"
"I thought we practiced saying his name all through the ceremony?" Audrey Perkins asked dryly.
"Well… I forgot," O'Riley shuffled his feet in this grass. "It's a real mouthful."
"It's Italian," Kellyn added.
"Normally nicknames aren't given out until season actually starts, but I think we're going to have to make an exception," Perkins nodded her head.
"Then how do I already have a nickname?" Kellyn interjected.
"Because you're different, Dub," Adam Jones smiled at Kellyn.
"But Drew's a part of the Puddlemere family now, so really, he's not any different at all," she insisted petulantly.
"You can just call me Drew," he suggested sheepishly, seeing the team's amusement with Kellyn's indignation and in turn, Kellyn's annoyance that they found her amusing rather than taking her words seriously. Kellyn turned and looked at him with a bit of surprise at his suggestion and he could see her begin to ponder why she hadn't thought of that before.
"Dub and Drew," Adam nodded his head. "I like it."
"I like it too," Kellyn smiled. "Dub and Drew forever." Govannon and Brongwyn took that opportunity to coo in unison, but Kellyn was close enough to punch them both. While they protested that she had assaulted them, Tippenhoff was just about dying of laughter, Montgomery and O'Riley looked scared and worried that they were next, Audrey Perkins muttered that the Beaters had it coming, and Adam Jones slowly shook his head, murmuring that all he had asked was that they behave for ten minutes and was it really that hard?
"But she started it!" Brongwyn and Govannon answered Adam's question by accusatorially pointing at Kellyn.
"I did not, Adam!" she protested. "They were making fun of Drew's and my ace telepathic skills and brilliant friendship."
"I told you to not give them grief," Adam said deprecatingly to the Beaters.
"But we haven't even said anything sexual yet!" Govannon griped. At that comment, Drew turned bright red.
"You do realize that my father is within earshot," Kellyn asked with a poor attempt at an innocent smile.
"Can I meet your father? It would be a huge honor," Montgomery pleaded.
"Wait, no fair! If Sean gets to meet him, I want to meet him too!" O'Riley added.
"There is really nothing exciting about him," Kellyn spoke in a deadpan tone. "He wears an apron when cooking omelets."
"So, it wouldn't be weird if we went and introduced ourselves?" Montgomery asked hopefully.
"O'Riley, Montgomery, don't piss your pants. You only have one pair with you," Audrey Perkins said dryly. They began to protest but Perkins cut them off. "Just be patient. I swear, I work with toddlers…"
"It's alright," Kellyn insisted to the dejected Chasers. "Drew nearly pissed his pants when he met my father."
"I did not!" Drew protested, at last finding his voice amid the hubbub.
"Oh come off it, you were completely star struck," she scoffed
"Star struck is worlds away from pissing pants."
"You had a really goofy grin on your face for hours afterward."
"And your grin is different on an everyday basis how?"
"I'll have you know that people think my smile is quite infectious."
"With what disease?"
"Ha ha, you're so bloody clever."
"I try. Actually, I don't," he shrugged and he at last realized that the team had finally fallen silent to watch the duo. He had been nothing but polite and kind to the team, but around Kellyn he had let loose of his penchant for sarcastic, witty banter. Kellyn was looking quite pleased with herself for pulling him out of his shell and the team was staring at him in shock.
"I like him," Tippenhoff finally declared. "Montgomery, I'm in on the bet."
"There's a bet going?" Kellyn asked nervously. Adam shook his head in disbelief.
"You don't even want to know."
Helen Garvgaski needed to get away for awhile. Graduation was terrific, but a tad overwhelming and her thoughts were a thousand miles away from Hogwarts. Her thoughts, actually, were on the continent, where her internship—if she passed her N.E.W.T.s well enough—would take place. She had hoped to study ancient magical theory, history, and culture, a combination of general magical theory from Transfiguration, events from History of Magic, and writings written in Ancient Runes. It was her dream career and she knew that she wasn't exactly the type of person to settle down, let alone settle down in England. She was ready to get the hell out of there and travel the world, which she hadn't told Teegan yet.
Teegan was nice for the time being. He was just what she needed to cure her fear of relationships, but not serious enough by any means to get too attached to him. He was funny, charming, and full of life and energy, and having him around meant that there was always an adventure right around the corner. She needed to be able to smile, laugh, and feel carefree, not ancient, ruined, and sad. After everything, she deserved that.
She knew that she and Teegan weren't forever. They weren't like Andren and Amadi, who would probably end up getting married once they overcame their fear of labels. Teegan was good for her… for now. Honestly, she planned to end things by the end of the summer when she would (ideally) be going off to the continent. She didn't want to be in a long-distance relationship and Teegan would inevitably get stir-crazy; it would simply never work. But she was happy for now. She really was.
Which was why she felt the need to wander off a bit. She was slowly learning to be happy with herself, to forgive herself, to reconcile what she had done and move on. Sure, the psychological Healer helped a bit, but it was her own strength that got her through those difficult times. She was still very much an extroverted person, but she had learned to address her own feelings and needs. It was nice to get away sometimes and concentrate on what she had to do to be successful and satisfied rather than live the life of the party and not care about tomorrow. Well, that was fun too, but there was a balance that she needed to strive for. Albus understood that.
He walked toward her. His head was bowed, his dark hair a perpetual mess and vivid green eyes fixed on the ground. She fidgeted for a moment but then stood still, knowing that he had been seeking her out, patiently waiting for her to detach herself from the crowds so he could say his final words to her. He stopped in front of her and it seemed like words failed him for a moment before he said hello.
"Hey, Albus," Helen said warmly, feeling at ease by his familiar awkwardness. His eyes danced around before he looked at her.
"You look really nice," he at last managed to say.
"Thanks. You have no idea how hard it was to find a shade of red that didn't clash with my hair," she fingered the hem of her dress with a smile. Albus' eyes flicked up to her red hair.
"Lily laments about that all the time," Albus murmured softly. "Gryffindor colors are a real killer for gingers apparently." They were quiet for a moment before Albus spoke up again. "It's been awhile since we last talked."
"Yeah, it has, hasn't it?"
"Beginning of May," he provided a timeframe. "I said some things that I am not too proud of," he said honestly, not a scrap of wounded pride or anything in his voice. "I think I was a little bit callous at the time when I should have been more supportive of you."
"It's fine," Helen mumbled. "It was just your way of coping."
"It wasn't right."
"It happened and it's done," she countered. "And there is nothing to do but apologize and seeing how you have done that, then the only other thing for me to do is forgive you, which I have done before you even asked for it," she said dryly, even though the words seemed to make Albus very happy.
"Thanks," he said, running his hands through his hair. "That makes me feel a lot better," he exhaled. "I just didn't feel right having that conversation be our last. Because I know you have big, exciting plans and I don't want to ruin them by butting into your life," he said humbly.
"I think I may have before expressed or hinted that I couldn't handle being friends with you, but I'm in a lot better place and I think I could handle it," Helen said quite seriously. "However, I don't think you could handle it." Albus looked at her solemnly. "You have too big a heart, Albus, and you are far too selfless. I don't want you to forget about yourself and your big, exciting plans and if that means forgetting about me, then I'll be your number one supporter."
"Really?" Albus asked nervously. Helen nodded her head emphatically.
"Really really." He looked down, feeling a little embarrassed before he spoke up.
"But I can't forget you. You… no, I can't forget you. I won't forget you. You're beautiful. Nothing is ever going to change my feelings on that, but you deserve better," he said quickly. "I just want you to know that I sincerely hope that one day you can find true peace and happiness and someone who loves you so much that their world would be nothing without you."
"Oh, Albus," she whispered, his words making her heart ache.
"I owe it to you to be honest to you and to support you in any way possible," he concluded. She grabbed his hand, causing his shocked green eyes to meet her gaze.
"Everything is going to be fine," she said warmly, a bright smile on her face from finally believing those words. "A little patience and a lot of laughter and everything is going to be just fine. You just wait and see, Albus. Your hope for me is the same as my hope for you: make peace, find happiness, live, and love." A ghost of a smile lingered on Albus' lips as he glanced down at her hand pressed against his. Slowly, he pulled away and took a few steps back.
"Best wishes, Helen."
"You too, Albus."
And with that, Albus Potter shoved his hands in his pockets and walked away. Helen breathed easily and looked across the grounds. The world was wide and there was room to roam. They were both going to be just fine.
"You think that's her?" Ginny Potter asked her husband, Harry Potter.
"It must be her—red hair," he muttered, adjusting his glasses.
"She's quite pretty."
"My poor son."
"Don't start, Harry. Albus doesn't need a pity party. He's quite good at throwing those on his own. I do worry about him…"
"Ginny, don't start fretting now. James will know what you're worrying about and then he'll think that it's his brotherly duty to worry too, and then Albus will get angsty that we are walking around him on tiptoes, and Lily will grow solemn and then we'll be quite a pathetic looking family," Harry explained. "Besides, I was saying 'my poor son' because he has the Potter Curse." Ginny stared at him for a long moment and he could see her anger slowly building up.
"It took you over thirty years to inform me that there is a curse in your family?" she demanded.
"Ginny, it's not a bad curse, just a slight hiccup if you will…"
"Harry James Potter, I swear to Merlin that if you don't tell me about this curse this very instant, I will—"
"Red hair!" he blurt out.
"Red hair. Potters like gingers. My father married a ginger. I looked it up, and my father's father married a ginger. I married a ginger. So, a Potter has to marry a ginger," he explained. "And we can assume that James is going to marry Stella, and she's blonde, so it's up to Albus. And he obviously prefers red hair." Ginny took a moment to process this information before exclaiming:
"My poor son!"
"Don't start, Ginny. Albus doesn't need a pity party. He's quite good at throwing those on his own," Harry borrowed his wife's words. She looked at him crossly.
"Why did I marry you?"
"I thought it was because of my quiet lifestyle and ability to stay out of trouble," Harry shrugged.
"It must have been that," Ginny grinned at his sarcasm, wrapping an arm around her husband. "Speaking of 'ability to stay out of trouble,' have you seen Lily?"
Gulliver Dwight patted his robe pocket, making sure that the letter for Lily Luna Potter was firmly stowed there. He had just graduated Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was patiently waiting for his results on his N.E.W.T.s, and would hopefully receive the most prestigious potions internship at The Pewter Pot, Inc., the largest potion-making business in all of the European wizarding society. Mr. Draco Malfoy heavily backed the business, but the company turned out so many revolutionary potions and employed wizards and witches in The Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers that Gulliver could not back down from the opportunity. It didn't matter anymore if he was a Muggle-born; he could not be discriminated by his blood.
His days of playing in a teenage rock band were quite over. Sure, he would keep his bass guitar around for his own pleasure, but he was ready to move onto bigger and better things. The internship at The Pewter Pot, Inc. would certainly be "bigger and better", but he had applied to other potion businesses as a backup. He and Drew talked about getting a flat with Glen Huntington, whom Gulliver greatly admired and respected. Besides, Glen already knew about Kellyn and Drew, so that made managing their private lives a little bit easier.
But now, his mind was not really filled with summertime adventures or prominent internships or apartment hunting. Instead, he searched the crowd for Lily Potter, which was easier said than done, considering that it felt like there were a hundred gingers in the crowd. Actually, it was she who found him.
"Gulliver," she said quite forcefully with a clipped, formal tone. He turned around to see her standing there in a yellow dress, her chin stubbornly jutted up in the air, and her curly red hair fluttering in the wind.
"Oh, Lily, erm, hi, I mean, hello… are you well?" he asked, looking at her and then the ground, feeling for the letter in his robe pocket, putting his hands in his pants pocket, and then holding his hands behind his back. She, however, seemed completely unfrazzled.
"Quite well. And yourself?"
"Ace," was his strained reply.
"I'm glad to hear that," she smiled and his stomach did flip flops. "I just wanted to give you my congratulations."
"Oh, erm, thanks!" Gulliver nervously smiled at her. She seemed to gaze at him for a moment, her confidence faltering for a moment as she took him in. Lily blushed for a second, looked down, and spoke.
"Well, I ought to get back to my family," she said quietly.
"Oh yes, of course. Sorry to waste your time," he automatically apologized. She was about to turn and leave, but she stopped.
"You could never do that," she shook her head, her wide, innocent eyes peering up at his face. "Well, I still ought to go."
"Yes, right," Gulliver said and was about to watch her leave when he remembered the letter in his robes pocket. "Lily!" he called out and she stopped and turned around. He took a few confident steps toward her, then realized he was a bit close and took an awkward half-step back. She stood there, looking so hopeful and confused that it was too much and he fixed his eyes on the ground. "I… this is going to sound really dim. I suppose what I am trying to say… well, what I really should be saying is that I'm not too good with words. At all. And so… I don't know," he stammered. "Just… give me a moment?" he looked up to see her face for a moment and she slowly nodded her head. Gulliver sighed and fiddled with the cords around his neck before reaching into his robes pocket and pulled out the letter he had written to her just that morning.
They stood a foot apart but he could feel himself be pulled toward her. Maybe it was the way she was looking at him (because even though he couldn't see her, he could feel her) or maybe it was an accumulation of the conflicting emotions of the day, but taking a step forward or even taking a step back seemed impossible. They were silent as the buzz of the graduation crowd surrounded them. He turned the letter over and over in his hands before finally handing it to her.
"I wrote this… for you," he said. Her honey brown eyes looked up at him as she gently took the letter from his grasp. It was her turn to flip the letter over and over in her hands. "Don't open it now. Maybe tonight, or on the train tomorrow. But I want you to have it."
Now, there was no confusion or fear in her eyes but pure hope. They remained standing there for a few quiet moments before he gently reached out and took her hand. She seemed to be holding her breath as he pulled her hand upward and pressed his lips to her knuckles. He finally met her eyes as he did this, but she blushed and glanced away. He released her and both of her hands went to clutch the letter he had given her.
"I hope to see you later, Lily," he said genuinely, turned on his heel and left.
"Well, have you done the deed yet?" Kellyn asked James.
"No," he said quite grumpily. "Stella is still talking to friends and family. Why do girls have to talk so bloody much?"
"I'm not going to even try answering that question," Kellyn moaned. "Well, while you're waiting, why don't you talk with your family? I'm pretty sure every living relative is here."
"Except Lily. I can't find her for the life of me."
"Well, that's Lily for you. She's a social butterfly, probably just making her rounds."
"Is she friends with Dwight?"
"Dwight…?" Kellyn played dumb.
"Yeah, Gulliver Dwight: you know, Hufflepuff Keeper, plays the bass guitar, Drew's mate," James elaborated.
"Erm, I don't know. Why?" Kellyn asked cautiously.
"Because they're talking together."
"Oh, so you found her! That's great! You should be looking for Stella," Kellyn said quickly.
"But why are they talking?" James asked persistently, shaking off Kellyn's attempts to grab his arm and steer him away.
It was the kind of moment that was meant to be caught on film. Gulliver was fidgety and nervous, looking at the ground as he turned something over and over in his hands. Lily looked up at him, her red hair gently blowing behind her in the soft breeze. They stood almost awkwardly far apart but there was magnetism between them that made it feel like they were supposed to be closer, but had to remain at a distance. Kellyn knew exactly what was happening whereas James was quite oblivious to what had happened between the pair that year. Gulliver was saying his goodbyes. He slowly handed her a letter and they continued to stand there, Gulliver perhaps saying something to her. Then, he took her hand and brought it to his lips.
"Why, I ought to—"
"James, let's not do anything rash," Kellyn quickly jumped in front of him.
"He just kissed my baby sister—"
"—your baby sister's hand. Big difference."
"—and now thinks he can just walk away? No one gets to hurt my Lily," he said, pushing past Kellyn.
"What if I told you that he's trying to protect her? Would that make you feel better?" she asked and James stopped for a moment.
"You have thirty seconds to convince me otherwise before I teach him a lesson," James said sourly as he cracked his knuckles, looking at Gulliver murderously.
"Remember when Lily's date, Shane Fulbright, was sporting that lovely black eye the morning after Spring Ball and you asked Lily if she did it and she said no and then you asked her if he deserved it and she said yes and then you said to remind you to find and thank the bloke who did that?" Kellyn rambled in a single breath.
"Yes," James said warily.
"Well, if that holds true, then you're going to have to thank Gulliver Dwight," Kellyn winced. James looked angry before his jaw sprung open in shock and disbelief.
"Dwight? But he… he seems like… why would he do that?" James stammered. Kellyn shrugged.
"Ask him. Actually don't. He wouldn't want you to know that he was the one looking after her honor."
"He's a Hufflepuff. Hufflepuffs don't like fame, glory, or being in the spotlight. He doesn't need your acknowledgement or thanks. He probably just did it because it was the right thing to do," Kellyn explained. James thought about this information for a few seconds.
"So he's an honorable bloke, then?" James asked pensively.
"Very honorable," Kellyn nodded her head.
"So, I can't thank him?"
"No," Kellyn smiled, struck by how conflicted James was. "He knows that has done well by her. That's enough for him." James seemed lost in his thoughts for a moment.
"Well, then he's a decent bloke in my book," James said and Kellyn wished that Lily was there to hear him say that. "Oh, finally. Stella's been released from her family. Thanks for stopping me from beating up Dwight!" James waved to her and bounded off. Kellyn sighed. How did she get herself involved in this?
"At last," James Potter whispered in her ear after planting a kiss under her jaw, "I can finally have you all to myself."
"I wouldn't be so sure of that, James," Stella said with a smile. "Papa had some obscure uncle come over, but I think he's digging in the shrubbery for something. When he does emerge, however, I am quite obligated to converse with him." James didn't even bat an eye at this explanation.
"Well, can I have you all to myself for a little bit then?" he pleaded, his amber brown eyes glittering with mischief.
"Just a little bit," she said and he grabbed her hand and pulled her off toward the lake. His fingers were laced with hers and they walked in silence. Stella could tell by looking at him that he had something to say but was not quite ready to say it yet. He had been acting oddly that morning, but she figured he would come around eventually and confide in her when he was ready. He was almost ready—not quite—and so she let her mind turn toward her future career.
Unlike most everyone else, she hadn't been concerned about her N.E.W.T.s. They were done and there was no point in worrying about them. Besides, she didn't really need to pass them to keep her job: all she needed to do was write well, be an engaging interviewer, know how to do research, and work to deadline. It was the life of a journalist and seeing her mother's love for The Quibbler had made her realize that it was the only thing she ever wanted to do. Although she was known for having what some would call 'strange' opinions, she liked the objectivity of journalism and showing both sides of the story fairly. Honestly, her only inhibition with the job was that she saw how demanding some journalists could be toward the wizard celebrities—she didn't want to be the kind of journalist that her friend, Kellyn, hated.
Her mother had encouraged her to expand her horizons, which was why Stella had chosen to internship at The Daily Prophet for a year. The Prophet still fed the masses with stories pumped with sensationalism, but they were the major newspaper of English wizarding society and covered all the biggest news. Stella thought it was important to acknowledge their achievements and learn their skills before she established any real criticism of The Daily Prophet. James was hoping to secure a job in the Department of Magical Games and Sports in the Ministry of Magic, which she thought suited his playful and social temperament perfectly. They would certainly have time around their jobs for each other.
James suddenly stopped and Stella looked at him carefully. He seemed quite nervous for some reason, his hand fidgeting on the hem of his robe pocket.
"James, you have been acting quite oddly this morning. I thought I would wait for you to say what was bothering you, but now I think I should be a little concerned," she said seriously. James broke out in a grin.
"Nothing's bothering me," he assured her, giving her a quick kiss. "There was just something I wanted to ask you."
"James, are you…?" Stella began to ask nervously. James' eyes went wide.
"Oh, no. Not that. Merlin, Stella, I thought I told you that when I propose, you'll know. Besides, give me a bit of credit. My da proposed to my mum at her graduation. I'll be striving for a little more originality," he said jocularly although Stella knew that James was quite serious. "That, I promise to you," he winked and Stella felt like she was falling in love with him all over again. Wasn't he so charming? "Speaking of promises," he reached into his pocket, "I thought I would give you this." He pulled out a little black box and opened it. Inside the box was a simple silver ring and Stella forgot to breath. "This is a promise ring."
"What… what?" she stammered.
"It has our initials. It's symbolic. That's good, yeah?" James asked.
"Symbolism is l-lovely," Stella stuttered. "But what does it symbolize?"
"Oh, yes," James coughed, seeming to wind up for a speech. "You really are the most amazing person I have ever met. And I'm going to marry you for it one day. I, James Sirius Potter, promise to love you, Stella Ginevra Lovegood-Thomas, until the end of time itself. I know we're young, but my heart is fixed on loving you. I promise that one day I'm going to marry you, and I promise to respect you and love you and listen to your theories and hold you and love you… damn it, I said that twice… but I promise all those things to you and more. And so, I want you to have this ring so that you can remember my promises to you."
"Well, it's not like I'm going to forget them. I have a very good memory," Stella affirmed. James grinned before his eyebrows knitted together with worry.
"So will you accept my promises… symbolically?" He looked like a puppy dog waiting for a bone to be tossed to him and Stella laughed lightly.
"Yes, of course," she said, holding out her right hand. James gingerly slipped the ring on her finger and kissed her. When they parted, she held him close so their foreheads touched.
"I, Stella Ginevra Lovegood-Thomas, promise to love you, James Sirius Potter, until the end of time itself. You are the most amazing person I've ever met. And you know what? I'm going to marry you for it one day."
They kissed slowly and gently. The other side of the lake was quiet, the waves gently slapping the shore in a soothing rhythm. Stella wrapped her arms around James' lanky frame, looking back toward the thinning crowd of graduates and their parents. The afternoon was fading into evening, but the June sun was out and would not set for another few hours.
"We ought to go back and say goodbye to our parents," Stella murmured into his chest.
"They'll see us in 24 hours," James whispered back. "And we're only going to get this once." Stella looked up at the passionate man whose embrace felt like home and she silently agreed.
That evening, on Friday, June 18, 2023, the students and staff of Hogwarts gathered to celebrate the traditional end of the year feast. The Great Hall was decorated in Ravenclaw colors to mark their victory in winning the House Cup and the students sat with their Housemates. There was an exorbitant amount of food and McGonagall presented Drew, once again, with the Quidditch Cup, their House and class year now engraved on it, and she also gave the House Cup to Professor Tancierta, making the Ravenclaws cheer at their victory. Having won the Quidditch final and with their studious ways, they were shoe-ins for taking the House Cup that year, much to the chagrin of the competitive Gryffindors, who were at least hoping for the Quidditch Cup.
However, no one's mood was truly dampened. Not long after dinner, the 7th years were invited back to the Great Hall, which had been magically transformed in an hour, for their post-graduation all-night party. The tables were cleared aside and a small stage was erected. Sparklers replaced the candles and lit up the room with dancing light. There were snacks and bottles of pop and butterbeer, streamers hung everywhere, and a buzzing energy filled the air. The students all gathered in the room, not sure what was going on until McGonagall got up on stage and made an announcement.
"Well, students, I hope you are prepared to stay up all night long. We have many fun events planned for you this night and we expect it will be an evening that you will never forget. We are going to begin the festivities with a concert. I think the band can give their introductions best," she said with a wry smile. She walked off the stage, leaving all the students whispering until an invisibility charm was lifted, revealing the band.
"Oh my fucking Merlin," Kellyn murmured, seeing her favorite band of all time, The Raucous Ridgebacks, standing on the stage with guitars in hand.
"Greeting Hogwarts Class of '23! We're The Raucous Ridgebacks and it's our honor to make this night a little more memorable. And let's hit in a one two three four…"
The rest of the evening was a blur. There was music and screaming and dancing for what seemed like hours, and the band received two encores before they really had to be off. Kellyn managed to get the band to autograph her yearbook, stammering like an idiot the entire time, much to Drew's amusement.
"They knew my name Drew! They are pretty much the coolest, most awesome band in the world and they knew my name! This is the best day ever!" she was still saying long after the band left.
The yearbooks themselves turned out beautifully. Many of the pictures were taken by Kathleen, who was by far the best photographer at the school and like Stella, had snagged an internship at The Daily Prophet. Kellyn smiled as she flipped through the pages, remembering what was happening at the time that each picture was taken.
Near midnight, there was a small talent show to display some of the brighter lights of the Class of 2023. James Potter and Sam Malfoy kicked it off with a comedy skit called "Who's the Chaser?" which left the audience quite nearly incapacitated with laughter. The Keepers and Rebels jumped on stage to play a few songs. The great surprise was when Amadi and Sharon got on stage accompanied by Tigris Jordan and Libby Munin. Amadi had apparently taken hip-hop lessons most of her life and danced to Tigris Jordan's beats while Sharon had been classically trained in ballet and danced to Libby Munin playing the violin. It looked like they were having a dance-off, each trying to one-up the other until Tigris' and Libby's accompaniment began to blend together and Sharon's and Amadi's dance styles began to merge.
To finish the talent show, the Hogwarts staff had thought it appropriate to feature the Quidditch teams, which had been the most talented and equally skilled teams in years, according to the faculty. They had used Muggle film tricked out with a few spells to record all of the Quidditch matches and presented the highlights and best moves of the year to the students. Drew was enthralled and scowling because he thought that the film should have been available to the captains to supplement practices, but Kellyn reminded them that they won the Cup without the film, so there was no reason to be scowling.
Most of the early morning was spent on having caricatures drawn, games of Exploding Snap, Gobstones, and other board or card games. A few eyebrows were lost, but laughter and exploding noises rung out in the Great Hall, making the room lively and joyous. A very tense battle of wizard chess was played between the Houses. The floor of the Great Hall became a chess board and students dressed up in costumes to represent the pieces. They were strictly forbidden to physically harm the other students when a "piece" was taken, but between friends there was some innocent pushing and trash-talk. In the end, the Slytherins defeated the Ravenclaws for the title and everyone gorged themselves on dessert to celebrate.
Before they knew it, it was six o'clock in the morning and the students were instructed to go quickly and quietly to their dorms and grab some warm clothes, for they would be going out to the grounds on that cool, grey morning.
There was still fog out on Saturday, June 19, 2023 as the students plowed through the dew-covered grass, following the light out on the other side of the lake that turned out to be a bonfire. They huddled there for warmth as all the seventh years who owned and could play a guitar gently strummed their instruments. They sang songs that were normally sung at wizard graduations: songs about irreversible time turners and sailing off into the distance, songs about love, happiness, and looking toward the future while never forgetting the past. They held mugs of tea and coffee, rested their heads on the people they loved, and were served a hot breakfast as the sun slowly rose.
It was the most beautiful thing Kellyn had ever seen. She curled up next to Drew, who quietly strummed his guitar, with a cup of warm coffee in her hands and the embers of the bonfire still giving off heat. The fog lingered on the ground and the morning smelled fresh and crisp, promising a beautiful summer day. She looked around and saw her friends in similar comfortable positions. Although Kellyn was eager for the rest of her life to begin, she wondered how she could possibly leave this place behind. Soon, everyone was in tears with the same realization. It was really over.
They dragged their feet back to the dorms, where they were told that they had two hours to shower, pack, and meet at the docks. None had even bothered trying to sleep since they had saved their packing to do all at the last minute and everyone wanted a hot slower to warm up from being out on the grounds.
Around half past ten, the fog was beginning to clear and the early summer sun bid them farewell as the seventh years got into boats to sail across the lake. It was the same way they had arrived to the school all those years ago, except this time they could not fit as many people in the boats and instead of sailing toward the castle, they sailed away. Kellyn slipped her hand into Drew's, blinking back tears.
Soon, they were clambering out of the boats and there was hardly a dry eye in sight as they walked onto the platform of Hogsmeade Station, ready to board the Hogwarts Express for the very last time.
It started out as a feeling,
It started out as a feeling,
Which then grew into a hope,
Which then turned into a quiet thought,
Which then turned into a quiet word.
And then that word grew louder and louder
Until it was a battle cry:
I'll come back when you call me,
No need to say goodbye.
Kellyn stood transfixed on the platform looking back at the great old castle and trying to remember the year.
It started off with a letter and she bumped into a green-eyed boy on the train. She was Sorted into Ravenclaw, sucked at Transfiguration, met her enigmatic Quidditch captain, and made the team. She became inseparable from a group of Ravenclaw girls, was the muse for a rock band, and dated an impossibly charming Slytherin. She watched her friends fall in and out of love, struggle in their disappointments, and rejoice in their triumphs. She discovered the meaning of friendship, found a home, and learned beautiful magic. She went to a ball, mucked things up, broke her knee, broke it again, moved, and learned to heal in more than one way. She tumbled into love, found herself in the arms of someone who loved her back, and didn't plan on letting him go any time soon. It all happened in but ten short months—and her life had irrevocably changed.
Just because everything's changing
Doesn't mean it's never been this way before.
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war.
Pick a star on the dark horizon,
And follow the light:
You'll come back when it's over,
No need to say goodbye.
The train whistled for last call and Kellyn Wood found her feet stuck to the ground. How could she move when the best moments of her life had happened at this place? How could she leave when all of her fondest memories were there?
"Come on, Kellyn, it's time to go," Andrew Indovinello said to her softly. She turned toward him to take him in, standing tall and confident on the platform, no longer the scrawny, bookish first year she never had the pleasure to meet.
"Do you think we'll ever come back?" she whispered, imploring Drew for an answer. He considered her question very carefully.
Andrew Indovinello had the pleasure of seven full years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Like Kellyn, he had witnessed a great transformation in his fellow classmates and himself. Like her, he was terrified to leave behind such an impressionable place. However, unlike Kellyn, his mind was already on the future. At that moment, while looking at the girl he loved standing on the platform and looking at the castle where they had fallen in love, he made a few promises to himself:
Love her. Hold onto her. Marry her. Have children with her. And come back.
"Home is where the heart is," Drew whispered to Kellyn. "And I think a little bit of our hearts will always reside at Hogwarts. I do think we'll come back. Someway, somehow, we'll come back." He held her for a moment, already painting the picture of the future in his head.
Now we're back to the beginning.
It's just a feeling and no one knows yet.
But just because they can't feel it too,
Doesn't mean you have to forget.
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
Until they're before your eyes.
You'll come back when they call you,
No need to say goodbye.
-"The Call" by Regina Spektor
It was September 1, 2047, twenty-four years and a few odd months after that fateful day that Drew's vision became reality.
Drew pushed a trolley containing trunks, owls, and brooms, and his wife placed her hand on the nook of his arm, the gold ring on her left hand catching the late morning sunshine. Walking placidly next to him was a young girl, eleven years old, with her mother's spectacular hazel eyes and her father's curly auburn hair. Rambunctiously skipping alongside his wife was a young boy, eleven years old as well, also with his mother's eyes and his father's strong Italian features and tanned skin.
The moment went as quickly as it came. Soon, his little girl and boy were on the train, noses pressed to the glass as they frantically waved goodbye to their parents. Drew knew they would be just fine: they were blessed with quick minds and strong hearts, and would be as well loved at Hogwarts as their parents were. For a moment, he remembered himself as an eleven-year-old on the platform, not knowing what would come of his time at school and uncertain of the future. He recollected those idyllic days so near to his heart; even after twenty-four years, he could not forget. He could only hope that his children—a set of twins as opposite as they could come—would have the same luck as he did.
His wife pressed her hand into his, tears pooling up in her hazel eyes as she watched her two children leave for their own adventures at school.
"You were right," she whispered, choking back her tears. "You were always right: you always knew we would come back. Someway, somehow, we would come back. They're going back. Our children are going back," she smiled, letting a tear fall. Drew gently wiped it of her cheek. "I suppose, then, it is time for their reign," said Kellyn Indovinello, a ghost of a smile playing on her lips as the Hogwarts Express steadily chugged north.
Author's Note: Well...
I don't know what to say. I'm totally pulling a Gulliver.
As it turns out, I'm not too good with words. Funny, I'm a writer and I've discovered I can be rather inspirational and persuasive in speech, but when it comes to anything emotional, I'm a little challenged. And this story has become strangely emotional.
I began writing this story way back in 2006 (dear God, help us all) when I was but 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. The seventh book hadn't even come out yet and I had the story placed in America and hadn't even thought about the Potters. Then, the seventh book came out. I was so happy to hear that Hogwarts had remained open and re-worked the story and changed some of the characters to be JKR's second generation of Potters/Weasleys. Things didn't pick up until junior year when I decided that I was determined to finish the story before I was a senior. That didn't happen. Instead, life, SATs, and AP classes did. Over the summer before senior year, I became and updating maniac and told myself that I was going to finish the story before I went off to college. That didn't happen. I started my new life at UCSB and told myself that I would finish the story by Christmas. That didn't happen. After that, I tossed up my hands and said it would finish when it wanted to be done.
Apparently, it wanted to be done now.
It's the end of March 2011. I'm 19 years old, to be 20 in June, a 2nd year in college. So much has changed, including my writing.
I have to thank all my reviewers. I don't want to name anyone, lest I forget any of you, but you have all been insanely supportive and kind. Some of you have been with me since near the beginning and have watched me grow so much as a writer. Indeed, my writing has evolved so much since the beginning of the story. Oddly enough, by writing these characters, I have discovered more about myself than ever.
I couldn't have done this story without the support of all you awesome reviewers and my friends who helped me edit most of the chapters of this story. You all are amazing and I can't possibly thank you enough. I could go on and on about it-how you have showed me nothing but kindness, honesty, and enthusiasm, but I should hope you know how awesome you are. If you need me to break it down for you, leave a review (well, you ought to leave one anyway) telling me that you need an ego boost and I'll be happy to do the job.
Well, this story has 104 chapters by fanfic's count, 470,000+ words, 700+ reviews, 35,000+ hits, and about 60 favorites/alerts. I never thought I would gain such a great supporting audience for this story.
I feel like this is all over and I myself ought to be graduating onto the next part of my life, but this is not the case. This story will not rest until everything is neatly wrapped and tied up in a bow. So, there will be an epilogue.
Yes, an epilogue. If you want to call it that. But it's sort of a sequel in a way because it will chronicle what happened in those 24 years after Kellyn and Drew graduate. I've already begun writing it and it's going to be long, but I'm positively determined to finish writing it by mid-August, which is when I will leave to study abroad in Barcelona. What I plan on doing is writing out each character's story after graduation and then re-organizing everything in chronological order, and then posting it. So, you all are going to have to wait for it, but I hope it will be worth the wait. In order to catch the story once it's posting, I suggest you add me on Author Alerts. Also, I will try to add an extra chapter with a teaser onto this story when the epilogue is ready, so if you don't have this story on your alert, you should probably do that too, just to be sure.
In the meanwhile, you can read my Draco/Astoria fanfic, "On the Other Side." I know, that was a shameless plug. But it's a great story- much different than TROKW, but lovely in its own way.
But I digress.
The epilogue is tentatively titled "Platforms" because life is about arrivals and departures, but sometimes it's about waiting. Please, in your final reviews, tell me what you want to see happen: couples, offspring, proposals, particular pairings or characters, you name it. And if you are feeling bold, make some predictions. I love to read what's on your minds.
To conclude, I do have to thank you again. I honestly don't think I could thank you enough- my thanks are infinite.
With that, I suppose I should just shut up and go make myself try not to cry and eat cookies. Or a jar of Nutella. Both are acceptable coping mechanisms.
Um, I love you guys. You're awesome. Peace out. And review. Yeah, don't forget to do that.
With much love and appreciation,