Lance felt true excitement bubble up in him for the first time in many days. “Shiro, I want you do the honours.”
Shiro looked back at him, bashful. “Lance no. I’m sure the others would love to do it.”
Will, who had been standing behind Shiro, came forward and nudged him grinning. “Shiro on behalf of all of us, I can tell you that we want you to do this.”
Shiro still looked reluctant, a shy smile in his face. “Are you all really sure? I know this is special to all of you guys.”
Abigail looked at him, her eyes gentle. “That’s why we want you to do it Shiro. You’ve always taken care of us. You’re special to us too.”
Lance slung a hand over Shiro’s shoulder, affection clear in his face. “Hell yeah Shiro. You wielded the Gryffindor sword for god’s sake. You should definitely do this. For all of us.”
Shiro smiled at all of them, finally relenting. “Ok, here goes.”
The Fat Lady’s portrait was in front of them, the scene so familiar after so long.
The Fat Lady nodded at the password, beaming at all of them. “In you go dearies.”
The Gryffindor common room door opened, letting them all in after weeks of anguish and fighting.
Lance could see every one of their faces fighting to keep the tears in as they took in the familiar red and gold walls, glowing in warmth from the fireplace, their lion portrait looking back at them proudly.
Even after so many bad memories and difficulties they had to face, the place was still just like they remembered. Just like home.
Lance chuckled wetly, feeling the tears fall down uncontrolled. “Ah fuck it. Come on guys.”
Everyone burst into tears, falling into hug right in the entrance. Shiro crushed them all, sobbing like a baby.
“I’m so grateful to have spent my years at Hogwarts with you guys.”
Lance grinned at him, feeling overwhelmed. “Shiro you old man.”
They all laughed, feeling so happy and warm.
They were a family. They were a pride.
Keith thinks dealing with the aftermath of the war is the most complex feeling ever.
The infirmary is filled, buzzing with a thick layer of energy.
“Keith!” He looks over to see Pidge waving at him, sitting beside Jordyn, Olivia and Mika at Nigel’s bed.
Keith walks over to them, a small smile in his face. “Hey guys. How’s Nigel doing?”
Olivia perked up, looking at him, dark circle prominent in her eyes. But she was still smiling, her hand gently resting on Nigel’s and Mika’s. “He’s doing well. It was good thing we brought him in before too much blood loss. I have to thank you and Lance for that.”
Keith shook his head, trying not to think how close of a call I had been. “You really don’t have to Olivia. We couldn’t have done it without Abigail, Jordyn and Mika. They were the ones who really helped.” That was another close call too. He could clearly imagine what would have happened if they hadn’t been there and that was worse than not knowing.
Mika groaned, the chair creaking as she leaned back. “Please no. If she thanked us one more time I’ll probably hex myself. Just take the compliment Keith.”
Keith grinned at her. He could see that despite her protests, she was feeling a bit proud at the compliments. As she should be.
“Have you guys taken care of your injuries? You aren’t hiding any right?”
Pidge snorted from her place, throwing a disbelieving look at him. “Keith please. You’ve lost the right to ask the minute you said you were fine after jumping out a damn window. I swear to god you would have probably just crashed if Shiro and Krolia didn’t drag your ass to the hospital. Also, shouldn’t you still be in rest?”
Keith rolled his eyes at her, fond. “I really did rest Pidge. I don’t think I could’ve stayed up one more minute even if I wanted to.”
Pidge still looked suspiciously at him, but relented. “As long as you got enough rest.”
“Keith! Pidge!” They both turned around to see Allura running towards them, looking tired but still excited.
“Hey ‘lura. Please tell me you slept.” Allura stopped in front of them, smiling at Olivia, Jordyn and Mika too.
“I did Pidge. I’m pretty sure Coran would have slipped in a sleeping draught if I didn’t. I think we all did crash hard last night.”
She glanced at Keith, her smirk devious. “You were looking pretty comfortable Keith.”
Keith flushed, remembering crashing with Lance in the infirmary bed, not willing to let go of him. Still he wasn’t going to let her have this.
“I didn’t think you’d notice Allura, you were pretty preoccupied yourself.”
She rolled her eyes, her cheeks tinted red, probably remembering cuddling with Romelle. “Whatever.”
Pidge pretended to gag, looking away from them. “You couples are disgusting. I had a great time having a soft bed all to myself and not corrupting it like you heathens.”
They both grinned at that, Keith reaching over to ruffle her hair. “Aw don’t feel so bad Pidge. We can all cuddle if you’re feeling sad.”
Pidge batted his hand, backing away when Allura ambushed her for a hug. “Oh my god no! I shouldn’t have said anything. Oh no get away from me-”
Allura chuckled, retreating her hands. “Ok I actually wanted to talk to you guys. I think we’ve made a breakthrough.”
They both snapped their heads up, gaping at her in shock. “What? Wait what is it?”
Allura raised her hands trying to calm them down, but Keith could see the clear excitement in her eyes.
“Ok, ok, you know way before when I was telling we could look at this in a different perspective. I think we’ve been looking at this all wrong. We’ve been trying to wake them from outside, treating it like a coma but it’s not. The problem is inside.”
Keith felt like his chest was being crushed in anticipation. “This spell was specially made for half and non-pure blood students. It takes their experiences and makes it worse, the goal being to make them experience immense pain, essentially torture. That’s why we can’t treat it as an outside illness. You can’t find the cure outside because the cure is already inside them.”
Pidge let out an agitated breath, pushing up her glasses. “Ok Allura. This all sounds like a really great fairy tale ending but what does that actually mean? What is the cure?”
Allura took a deep breath, steeling herself. “The spell is made from their own amplified bad memories. We just have to look for the ones that would fight back.”
Keith looked back at her, pursing his lips. “Wouldn’t that put too much pressure on their minds? They’re already facing immense feelings. Won’t we just be making it worse?”
Allura nodded at him, looking more and more fervent. “Yes that is why we’ll need a moderator. Adam and Coran have teamed up to find a soothener. Kolivan is also helping them.”
Air rushed out of lungs, leaving him breathless. “It’s actually possible.”
Allura nodded, her eyes glassy, a helpless smile in her face. “It is.”
A chorus of light gasps escaped around them. Jordyn looked at them, her face cautiously hopeful. “You mean they’ll be able to get back once again.” Her voice wavered, disbelieving.
Allura beamed at them, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Yes. They will. You’ll see them once again.”
Jordyn suddenly got up and tackled her in a hug. “Oh my god.” They were all crying, feeling hope fill up in their chests.
It was actually possible.
Adam felt way too wound up to be in the Great Hall again. God the roller coaster of things that happened here.
But he did have to admit it was nice seeing everyone in the same place again.
Adam could practically feel the pure joy radiating out of Keith and Allura when Headmaster Alfor took the podium. Some of them actually burst into tears.
Alfor looked at all of them, the familial love he felt for them all clear in his face.
“I must say I have never been so happy to see you all here again. These few weeks have been the hardest we have ever faced and it has only reminded me what I miss most. Home. And the people who make it one.”
He looked around the gathered faces, everyone carrying a little bit of weariness in them from the war, but still glowing with warmth that cannot be contained.
Alfor looked back at Coran, Krolia and Kolivan who were standing behind him with an unreadable look. Adam noticed that all their faces were set with some underlying tension and hesitance. It was clearly visible in the crease of Alfor’s forehead, the twitch of Coran’s mouth, the set of Krolia’s jaw and the stoniness of Kolivan’s eyes.
Ah. It was shame.
Alfor took a deep breath. “We are all deeply ashamed to have not been beside your side when you needed it most. We had been fooled and distracted in thinking the problem was elsewhere, making us leave Hogwarts unwatched. And I sincerely apologize to every one of you who had to take upon the burden of responsibility in our absence.”
A murmur took up the Hall, some shocked at the apology, some angry and a little bitter.
Adam didn’t know how to feel about it. He knew he had the right to be angry at them but at this point he’d probably drive himself crazy if he thought about what could’ve happened. Though he appreciated the honest apology he knew it would take time for them to get through this.
The murmurs quietened when Alfor continued.
“I don’t know how much it counts when I say this, but just know that it’s truest thing I say when I tell you of how immensely proud I am of you. You have all stood up to fight when it was called for the most. You have stood up with everything you had against unthinkable forces, standing together in the darkest of times. ‘We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.’ You have all stood up for magic. You’ve stood up for Hogwarts.”
He looked at all of them, standing closer than ever.
“But most importantly, you have stood up for each other. When it mattered the most.”
Alfor’s eyes glimmered when he saw proud smiling faces looking back at him.
Adam thinks that’s the most meaningful thing of all.
The fact that they chose to fight for each other.
The fact that they fought together.
The fact that they did it.
They actually did it.