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Coma.


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I drift through my days, each having no purpose, no significance in the scheme of anything. I was on an endless search for meaning, one that would lead nowhere. I had wanderlust in my bones, and all I wanted was to escape.
The longest day of my life began at  5:30, with me drowsily turning off my alarm clock, and immediately falling back asleep. Then, the sequence repeated itself five minutes later, then again another five minutes later, until my dad entered, tired of hearing the blaring alarms. He shook me awake saying, “So help me God, if I have to hear that phone make another noise……” he idly threatened, for the millionth time.
I pulled myself up, going through the motions, still mostly asleep. I made it to school without crashing the car, barely, as usual. Made it to class just as the bell rang, once again. Each period dragged on like an eternity, each forever seeming longer than the last, until the eighth block bell rang, and I was released, albeit temporarily, for lunch.
I trundled outside, my bag heavy on my shoulders, to sit in our usual spot under the young maple in the courtyard. My friends slowly collected around me, speaking the usual chatter about the usual things and the usual people. “So-and-so did this at the party at so-and-so’s house last night, people are saying he’s the new so-and-so! Isn’t that insane?!?!?! I mean, so-and-so’s been out of the picture since so-and-so broke up with him, is he back in the game now? I’d so date him, I hope he is…..” and on and on and on.
I love them all, but their mindless chatter really gets to me sometimes. They’re used to my surliness though and just ignore me as I pull a book from my bag and dive into it.
As usual, the lunch bell rang far too early (I swear its rigged, they say that each period is the same length but lunch goes by three times as fast as any other period, and chemistry drags on for at least twice as long as they claim its supposed to) and we headed off to our next classes. At least we were mostly through the day, and unlike my first six classes, where I was separated from anyone I knew, the next two were spent with Emma and Taylor, my two closest friends.
They were still chattering about the “insane” thing so-and-so had done at the party, so I put in my earbuds and turned on some Green Day. “Wake me up when September ends,” never failed to make me feel better. We made it to Trig, and I went to my usual spot in the corner of the room, as far away from the teacher, or the main representation of the evil, hellish subject that is Trigonometry, as humanely possible. Emma and Taylor joined me, now having moved on in their conversation to how everyone’s going to Kaylee’s graduation party next Saturday, and how everyone’s going to be there except them because their parents figured out their sleepover-at-each-other’s-houses scheme.
What I don’t understand is how people can use generalizations like “everyone.” I mean, I bet if I went around the room, less than 10% of people would have gotten an invite, let alone be attending. Things like that have always bothered me, and they just wouldn’t shut up. Still complaining like injured chicks flapping useless wings, I pulled out my earbuds, turned to them and said, “Stop. Just stop. Why does this s*** matter so much to you? Its one party, one of hundreds, and sure you got invited, which is great, I can’t claim that much, but you think you’ll be missed? No. You don’t matter to those people. We’re the bugs under their shoes, the gnats flying about their ears, only worth paying attention to when we’re being annoying. Sure, you guys are more like butterflies, and me more like a slug in their eyes, but do you think I give a s*** what they think?”
Rather proud of my outburst, I started to put my earbuds back in my ears, the teacher still fumbling about with the papers on her desk, when Emma looked at me and said, “You know Alex, you can be a truly awful person sometimes. Sometimes I wonder why we put up with you.”
She stopped me in my tracks, I hid the hurt in my eyes as best I could and said, “Why do you then?” in the most uncaring voice imaginable.
“Because I just can’t believe you’re really that cynical. That you really believe what you just said. That somewhere, inside, you care about the people around you instead of just yourself. But you’ve never shown anything to prove otherwise, and I think I’m done dealing with your s***,” she turned away and pretended to pay attention to what the teacher was now saying at the front of the class.
Taylor frowned slightly but didn’t object, and shifted just ever so slightly away from me, sealing my fate.
I was reeling inside, my face a cool collected mask. I put my earbuds back in, the teacher didn’t care so long as it wasn’t audible and I did-or pretended to do- my work, and turned on anything, just anything. Music was my refuge when books failed me, and in this case, it didn’t do its job. I couldn’t suppress the slightest intake of breath, nor the pool of moisture in my eyes. My control wasn’t unshakable after all.
I made it through the period, and having regained my composure, managed to ignore Emma and Taylor completely through the next period. I left AP government the second the bell rang, flying out the door and down the stairs and through the halls and past the cars and into the driver seat where i put my hands on the steering wheel and let my rigid control slip just enough to let two wandering tears slip past my nose.
I wiped them off angrily, and left the parking lot now completely pissed off. What an overreaction. I mean, I dealt with their shallow crap for years and years, waded through s*** music and crap books and bad boyfriends and useless heartbreak and never said anything. One comment, one loss of silence, and I'm condemned. “Screw ‘em,” I said, once again turning to my music for the comfort of oblivion.
I went home, fine-just-fine, picked up my brother from school, smilesmilesmile, got him to practice, made mindless chatter with the soccer moms, drove home, controlcontrol, made dinner for the four of us-no creativity today, chicken tenders it was-while my dad came home from work after picking up my little sister, Abigail. We all sat down at the table, which still feels so empty with that one spot at the head where my mother used to sit open, alls finefinefine, ate dinner, more mindless talk, then Freedom.
I went up to my bedroom, took a book off my shelf at random, and left to go anywhere. As I said, wanderlust was in my bones. I ended up at a small playground on the other side of town, the “not-so-good” side.
I finally pulled the smile from my face, relief flooding my body at the simple pleasure of that one act. I looked abjectly at the dejected playscape in front of me, its long abandonment reflecting my current state. Funny thing was, I had held onto being fine for long enough, that now that I had the freedom to fall apart, I no longer wanted to.
Instead I pulled the book from the depths of my bag, and opened it to the title page. The words, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” stared at me in the semi-darkness. I couldn’t keep a slight chuckle from escaping me.
I flipped through the worn pages, remembering each stain and rip, feeling the memories flood through my mind. This was one of those books that I’d read, then reread, then read again. It was one of those books that had encompassed my entire childhood, that had been a friend, a companion, a helper through hard times. That had made me laugh and cry and shout out in fear. The characters had been my best friends and worst enemies. This had been one of the books that had made me love books.
I turned to a random page, and began reading. “The enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall was dark and scattered with stars…..”
I was thrust back into a world of good and evil, magic, friendship, love and hate. I found myself growing disgustingly nostalgic, and tears began flowing from the corners of my eyes. “I wish I were there right now,” I wished aloud for the millionth time, wanting to be fighting the battle against evil alongside friends that had never failed me.
My eyesight swum and blurred, and when it cleared, it appeared as though the text had flown off the page and was swirling around me, wrapping me in a cocoon of words. The words blocked out the light and I closed my eyes to shut out the blinding dark, and when I opened them, I was standing in the middle of a dark room, the door was shut, muffling a cacophony of shouting and destruction.
I hesitantly moved to open it, when a jet of light burst through the wall beside me, throwing me to my knees and revealing the chaos of a battle underway. I coughed and squinted as rubble scattered into the room from the newly created hole, now even more hesitantly standing up to investigate my surroundings.
Despite being thrust into a completely unknown situation unexpectedly, I was feeling surprisingly calm, as if i was where I belonged, where i was meant to be.
I reached out to grasp the door handle, then pulled my hand back, suddenly filled with the desire to sit in the corner of the room in the darkness until I was sent back home by whatever magical force had brought me here. I felt the swirling cocoon once again, ready to bring me back to the dull, usualness of my home, ready to return me to a demanding family and absent friends and loneliness, my only comfort oblivion.
I rejected it, using all my strength of will to step forward into the fray.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I had entered the Battle of Hogwarts. I had been pulled into one of my favorite stories, allowed to be apart of one of my favorite memories. In short, I had been granted the most treasured wish of any loving reader.
Before i entered the battle completely, I looked around, absorbing my surroundings. I was in a small corridor, mostly empty though feeling as if filled to the brim as in front of me stood two death eaters cloaked in black battling furiously with a group of teenagers, who I recognized as Harry, Ron, Hermione, Percy, and Fred.
Oh no, I thought, recognizing the scene. I barely had time to prepare myself as the air around me exploded and I was sent flying backwards, slamming into the wall behind me. Blood dripped down my fingers but I kept my eyes closed, waiting for the piercing yell that would confirm my suspicions.
“No-no-no! No! Fred! No!” the scream echoed throughout the castle, its agony more heart wrenching than I could have possibly imagined. I stood and saw exactly what I expected, and longed not to see, three redheaded teenagers grouped around what used to be a wall, and now was just a blasted hole in the side of the castle.
In my mind, I cursed at J. K. Rowling for causing the agony I observed before me in Fred’s death, then questioned my sanity. I had entered a storybook, and didn’t freak out at all, no,  I was freaking out about one of the storybook characters dying. Good lord.
Despite the absolute silence of the moment, the battle fought on around them, and when nothing happened for the longest time, I got confused. Wasn’t Harry supposed to pull everyone back together and out of imminent danger?
I realized I had brought my purse with me on the journey and pulled out my copy of the Deathly Hallows. I had left off at exactly the point at which I had been brought into the story, right before Fred’s death. So conveniently the book was open to the correct page already. The group was still unmoving, confusingly.
“Blah blah blah blah,” I whispered to myself, “sadness blah blah - ah yes! ‘And then a body fell past the hole blown into the side of the school, and curses flew in at them from the darkness...’ thats it.”
No body had fallen past, so no curses had brought them out of their senses. I had a feeling that this was why I had been brought here, other than my wishing it. I had to fill in the gaps of the story, those little necessary placeholders, to ensure its continuity.
Upon this realization, I leapt up and ran down the corridor, to a conveniently place set of stairs at the end of the hall. I ran up the steps, praying to avoid any trick ones that would trap me as if I stepped in quick drying cement, and made it to the floor just above.
Luckily, it was abandoned, and i didn’t have to find out whether I was invisible to those in the story or not yet.
The hole in the wall had stretched up across this floor as well, making it easy to locate the place directly above where the group mourning Fred were kneeling.
As if she were placed just for me, the body of a young woman was lying on the ground next to the hole, killed by the blast. My gut twisted at the necessity of my next actions, and a sadness surged over me for the woman in front of me. I put my arms under hers and dragged her over to the edge of the hole, where I grimaced and apologized for my behavior, sincerely wishing this wasn’t my task.
I gently pushed her over the edge and watched her fall, the movement causing Death Eaters on the ground to shoot curses up at the hole, nearly striking the mourners and barely missing them, instead hitting the wall behind them.
As written, Harry shouted, “Get down!” and the group moved out of place, acting once again as they should. I turned, moving to go back downstairs and follow them in case of more trouble, but just as I did, a man in a black cloak turned the corner behind me, his black boots making loud clomping sounds on the marble floor.
He was wearing all black and his face was covered, leaving his identity a complete mystery. He didn’t look much like a Death Eater, but you never can know. He walked right passed me, and turned to the hole in the wall, seeming to be looking for something, he stood for a moment, keeping me frozen in fear, when he turned and looked right at me.
I stayed frozen in place, hoping i was invisible to him, when he said, “Who are you?”
I didn’t answer. He walked up to me, pulling off his mask, and said, “Did you push the woman off the ledge?”
Before i answered, I observed him, deciding what i would say. He had strong features, and deep blue-green eyes, the kind that always seemed to be questioning something. Everything about him bespoke innocence, and without consciously deciding to, I trusted him.
I nodded slightly, answering his question, wondering how in the hell he would’ve known to ask that.
“How did you know to do that?” he asked confused, “you would have to be from Outside…. Are you? Talk to me!”
I regained my voice and said, “Who am I? Who are you would be a much better question. You’re the creepy guy in all black that has come possibly to kill me and lob me off of castle walls. I’m just a small, young girl who poses no kind of threat that throws already dead people off of castle walls. There’s a big difference.”
“My name’s Justin,” he said, “But that’s all I can tell you until you tell me where you came from.”
“As you very well know by now, I’m not from here. I came from Outside,” I said, adopting his word for “the real world.” He was being rather annoying, I obviously didn’t belong, neither did he. You could tell in the they way he moved, the way he talked.
“Of course,” he backtracked, “But how did you know?”
“I entered just before Fred’s death and something was missing, which I used my book to figure out, and that led me here, to the woman that needed to fall to continue the story.”
“Ahhhhh,” he said, as silence fell. He looked behind us nervously, “We’ve got to get out of here,” he said, grabbing my hand and pulling me away from the hole.
“Whats going on?” I asked, pulling my hand from his grasp, “Who are you?”
“Not now,” he said, dodging my questioning gaze. He walked off down the corridor, expecting me to follow him. I sighed and did so, despite my extreme annoyance at complying.
He turned down the corridor, heading towards the stairs I had come upstairs on, and i caught up to him just as he took the first step down.
I put my hand on his shoulder saying, “If you expect me to follow you, then you’d better explain why.”
He sighed, checking his watch, and said, “We’re what I call ‘genies.’ You made a wish right? A wish to be here?” without waiting for confirmation he continued, “Then someone somewhere took pity on you and granted it and here you are. The same thing happened to me years ago, except it was with The Goblet of Fire. I’ve been here ever since, can’t seem to find a way out.
“It took me a while, much longer than it took you, but eventually I realized that I had to help the story along, there seems to be kinks and holes where there shouldn’t be and that’s our job, to fill them and send the characters on their way. My first job was bringing Harry’s firebolt outside the stadium so he could summon it. Otherwise, it never would’ve came and he would’ve been killed by the dragon and the story would’ve sputtered and died. Thats what we do, we resuscitate the story. We’re authors’ best friends.”
He paused, “Satisfied?”
I just stared, slightly overwhelmed. His intense blue-green eyes (i couldn’t decide which they were) looked directly into mine and I couldn’t think straight, nor could i look away.
“We’ve got to go,” he said, “I can hear Death Eaters coming.” He looked away and headed down the stairs with me following closely behind.
“You should pick up some robes to change into,” he continued, “So you look less conspicuous.”
We turned into an empty room and i pulled the robes off of a body on the ground, grimacing. “It’s really hard to remember that it isn’t real,” I said, pulling on the robes over my jeans and t-shirt.
“Are you sure that it isn’t? Sometimes i think that this is the real world, while the one of my memories is the fake one.” He closed the door as a group of people charged past, wands raised.
“So whats next?” I said, picking up my bag and the book, still open to the page with Fred’s death.
“Is that a copy of the book?” He asked intensely, a burning excitement coursing through him.
“Yes,” I said, “It’s how i knew that there was something wrong.”
“That’ll make thing so much easier! I’ve been relying on my memory and by following Harry around the clock. I was lucky I figured out the last one, but you beat me to it anyways.”
We sat down and flipped through the pages, deciding that right now, the trio was most likely heading towards the Shrieking Shack in pursuit of Voldemort.
We got up, and snuck down the hall, passing the stone tapestry and sliding down Hermione’s staircase turned to a slide. We found ourselves in the middle of absolute chaos. Professor McGonagall was hurling galloping desks at Death Eaters, while duels erupted around her, and meanwhile Peeves was whizzing around shooting Snargaluff pods at anything that moved.
Suddenly, we saw a fisful of pods land in mid air on something invisible. Justin and I looked at each other in immediate recognition. We ran into the middle of the chaos, and desperately tried to knock the thing off, knowing that if we didn’t Harry, Ron, and Hermione would go around the castle visible to all.
Somehow, despite all the Death Eaters around us, we knocked them off, just before Harry shouted “LET’S GO!” and the trio pelted off into the distance under the invisibility cloak, their ankles clearly showing below the cloak’s flapping edge.
We quickly left the center of the room and were in pursuit of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, when we overheard one of the portraits on the wall say, “I just shut Dumbledore’s study, convinced the gargoyle guarding it to change the password to ‘leftingsweasle.’ No one will guess that!” he gleefully continued, “Now no one will be able to break in, I mean the last password was ‘Dumbledore’ anyone could guess that and enter……” His voice drifted off into the distance as he followed the battle into the entrance hall.
I turned to Justin and pulled him into the nearest classroom. “Okay,” I said, excited and frightened as adrenaline pulsed through my veins, “One of us has to follow the three of them to make sure that they make it to the Whomping Willow and then the Shrieking Shack without any glitches. The other has to go wait by the gargoyle to Dumbledore’s office to try and convince it to change the password, or to hide and say the right password just as Harry tries to enter.”
“I think you should go to Dumbledore’s study,” I continued without a breath, “you know the castle far better than I, I would most likely get lost. I can make it to the willow from here though, I can see outside already.”
“O- Okay,” he said unsteadily, “Sounds good.” He turned to leave.
“Wait!” I said, “Can we die in here?” I asked, worriedly.
“I don’t know,” he said, “I wouldn’t risk it if I were you.” He turned again.
“Wait!” I said again, smiling at the deja vu, “Can we do magic?”
“Yes,” he said, smiling also, and pulling a wand from his back pocket, “You have to win a wand though, good luck.” He turned once again, and this time I let him walk away. I stayed in the room, pulling out the book once again, skimming ahead for what laid in store for the trio, and therefore what laid in store for me.
I shut the book, shoving it in my bag and swinging that over my shoulder. I left the room, walking near the walls of the hallway, searching for a wand I could steal. I heard someone running behind me, no it was a group of people. They passed me, grabbing my arm and pulling me along.
I turned to face my kidnappers, only to see Luna Lovegood, Seamus Finnegan, and Ernie MacMillan, all with looks of absolute terror on their faces. “Spiders,” Luna said, “Lots of them.” I could hear them coming, from both ends of the hall, preying on anything that stood in their way.
Everyone was fleeing, Death Eaters included. Everyone except Hagrid. He was in the middle of it all, they were swarming around him, he was being overrun.
Then, Grawp entered, his face a bloody mess, limping on his left leg, but still alive, his opponent face down in the mud. He didn’t really fit, only his chest and were actually in the hall, his legs kneeling outside still. He swung his massive head around, searching, “HAGGER?” he shouted. “HAGGER?” He finally spotted him in the midst of the swarm, and he began swiping his huge fists at spiders, throwing them around the room, saving Hagrid, but possibly killing everyone else.
I jumped out of the way as a the grandpa of all spiders flew against the wall right where I had been standing just a moment before.
I turned to look for Luna, Dean and Ernie, but they had disappeared outside, on their way to save Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the dementors.
I rushed after them, dodging flying spiders and curses and rubble all the way. As I was running, I saw Dolohov, Yaxley, and Fenrir Greyback darting outside after Luna, Dean, and Ernie. I ran outside after them, unsure what I was going to do.
I saw them hiding behind the fountain in the outer courtyard, Luna, Dean and Seamus far ahead rescuing Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the dementors, their silver patronuses a welcome light in the oppressive darkness.
I had to find a way to warn them, without being killed by the Death Eaters immediately afterwards. I stood for a moment, hesitating.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione headed off into the Whomping Willow while Luna, Dean, and Seamus returned to the courtyard, both escaping the enormous giant that had just exited the Forbidden Forest. Meanwhile, the Death Eaters were still hiding behind the fountain, waiting for their chance to attack.
I jumped out, unthinking, trying to catch their attention without alerting the Death Eaters. Luna glanced at me, and, seeing the fear in my eyes, immediately was on guard.
I held up my hands, showing my defenselessness, and pointed to the fountain. They reacted quickly, shooting consecutive stunning spells at the hidden enemy. The trios began to duel, and, my job done, I turned back to the Whomping Willow, where I knew Harry, Ron, and Hermione were watching Voldemort murder Snape, believing, incorrectly, that this would restore the Elder Wand’s power to him.
I was startled out of my thoughts as the giant thundered over in my direction, interrupting the duel for the moment and crushing the fountain under his massive feet. We all scattered after a few ineffective stunning spells were sent up towards him, and I made my way back to the Entrance Hall, where chaos still reigned.
Kingsley was still battling a hulking masked Death Eater, while Neville had appropriated the school greenhouses and was pitching various deadly plants at people, including Venomous Tentacula, which was currently trying its best to strangle its victim, a rather slight woman. Professor Flitwick was currently doing battle to yet another Death Eater, while Professor Trelawney was lobbing crystal balls at anything that moved.
Students flooded everywhere, whether they were escaping, fighting, gathering their friends-be them healthy or not-or just wandering around, as if confused. Even so, all of them were terrified beyond their years.
Then, interrupting the melee, Voldemort’s voice boomed over the castle. “You have fought valiantly.” the hall fell silent as we all registered his high, snakelike voice, “Lord Voldemort knows how to value bravery. Yet you have sustained heavy losses. If you continue to resist me, you will all die, one by one. I do not wish this to happen. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a loss and a waste. Lord Voldemort is merciful. I command my forces to retreat immediately.”
A sigh of relief echoed throughout the hall, though no one dropped their weapons, expecting a trick.
“You have one hour. Dispose of your dead with dignity. Treat your injured. I speak now, Harry Potter, directly to you. You have permitted your friends to die for you rather than face me yourself. I shall wait for one hour in the Forbidden Forest. If, at the end of that hour, you have not come to me, have not given yourself up, then battle recommences. This time, I shall enter the fray myself, Harry Potter, and I shall find you, and I shall punish every man, woman, and child who has tried to conceal you from me. One hour."
By the end of his speech, all the Death Eaters had disappeared from the hall. Everyone relaxed ever so slightly, at their absence, then immediately tensed at the task that was in front of them. People began to bring in the bodies, and a black cloud fell on everyone as the first screams of grief were heard.
I went up the stairs, towards the Great Hall, where I waited for Ron and Hermione to enter. Eventually they did, and I got up to follow Harry to Dumbledore’s office.
I wandered the halls after him, with this feeling of unreality following me. Here I was, in Hogwarts castle, walking after someone I considered a friend, and who had no idea I existed, and who I had had no idea existed until a few hours ago.
Weirdness at its epitome, I thought as I passed a broken picture frame containing a wizard nursing another back to health after an incident of extreme ripping.
Eventually, even though to keep up I was practically running, we made it to the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore’s study. There, in the semi-darkness, I could just make out justin hiding, ready to speak the password to let Harry in the study to listen to Snape’s memories.
Just as Harry shouted, “Dumbledore!” I could hear a whisper say, “leftingsweasle.”
Just after he departed up the spiral staircase, Justin left his hiding spot and I scared the crap out of him by leaving mine.
“Holy crap!” he shouted, and I smiled sadly, still affected by the sadness pouring from the Great Hall. It permeated every room of the castle, there was no escaping it. Justin felt it too, and he came over and gave me an awkward half-hug, in an attempt to comfort.
Despite the awkwardness, the effort was still appreciated, and it did make me feel a little better.
“Why does it still affect us so much?” I asked, “I mean, we both know its not real, we’ve both read the story, we both know it has a happy ending, and yet still we are sad for them during hardship, and happy during success. We still feel their emotions, even though they’re not real.”
“It’s because they feel real,” he said simply.
“Ahh well. Lets make sure they get their happy ending,” I said, pulling out the book and sitting down.
He sat down next to me, and we flipped through the well worn pages, of one of my favorite books.
“This looks well-loved,” he said jokingly as we flipped to a page that held a prominent coffee stain.
“In my defense,” I stated, “I have read it hundreds of times.”
“Thats exactly what I mean,” he said smiling, his blue-green eyes digging into mine, as if trying to uncover my secrets.
I looked away, saying, “Have you met anyone else in here? You know, from Outside?”
“Yes. One. Samantha.” he said, smiling at the memory.
“She was already here when I arrived, she’d entered when Harry was battling the basilisk. She was here for years, far longer than me. She left at the end of Harry’s sixth year, not that long ago really. Sam had been wanting to leave ever since she arrived, missing her family and friends like crazy. She had these crazy schemes to get out, convince a wizard to magic her out, fall in love, kill herself. She never did try the last one, thank God. One day, she just disappeared right in front of me. It was like she melted away……”
He looked wistful. “So you have no idea how to get back?” I said, worried.
“No.” he said sadly. “I just keep the story going and hope that one day I’ll figure it out like she did and melt away.”
“Okay,” I said, a new layer of depression adding onto the first. “So, first things first. We’ve got to get Harry into that forest,”
“Yes,” he said.
“So next he’s going to meet Neville in the Entrance Hall with Collin.” I said.
“Lets go then,” he said, and we stood up, onto the next thing.
He led me into the Entrance Hall, where we left for the grounds to find Neville, who was carefully carrying a woman inside with Percy Weasley, each avoiding her dead stare and desperately trying to maintain control of their roiling grief.
They passed us and entered the hall, putting her down among the hundreds of dead and returning to the grounds to pick up yet another body.
This time they came back with Collin, showing that Harry was about to appear.
We stayed in the background as Harry emerged, scared the crap out of Neville, and told him about the necessity of killing Nagini to destroy Voldemort.
We followed the invisible Harry as he made the difficult journey past Ginny and the dementors, and into the Forbidden Forest. I could hear him talking to the ghosts he summoned with the resurrection stone, but couldn’t see either him or his family, which made it difficult to follow.
We got to the dementors, then stopped, unable to pass by them without summoning a patronus, a feat we were both incapable of achieving. So instead we sat, and waited.
In the silence, I began to think. As I thought, I began to wish.
“Justin,” I said, breaking the quiet, “Do you think magical objects work at home?”
He was silent for a moment, then saw me glancing at the place where Harry had disappeared into the forest, where Aragog’s nest was, where the resurrection stone would soon be lying in the dirt.
“Who do you know thats died?” he said suddenly. I was taken aback, “How’d you know……” I said trailing off as he stared at the ground, peeling grass in his fingers.
“My mother died a few years ago,” I said, “Car accident. The world still feels empty without her.”
“I lost my dad when I was seven,” he said. “All I’ve thought about since I got here was ‘what if I could bring home the stone and bring him back?’ But I don't think it would work Alex. Even here, where magic reigns, it doesn’t really work. How could it at home where the most magical thing that happens is a computer surfing the internet, or a phone sending a message?
“Don’t try it, Alex. Just don’t.” he finished his speech and continued ripping the grass out of its home.
Despite his logic, hope still ravaged my body, and the temptation to run past the dementors into the Death Eater-infested hollow was nearly overwhelming.
But then I remember my mom, and her blanket refusal to let anything slide, to use the easy path. I realized how disappointed she’d be if i took the easy way out and brought her back. It would be lazy, a simple way to try and avoid pain that would end up backfiring. It would only hurt her. She’s gone, she shouldn’t be brought back.
I felt some sort of acceptance fill the void of pain that only oblivion could paper over before, and though I didn’t necessarily feel better, I didn’t feel worse either.
A few more minutes passed, then the dementors stirred. We both stood as we heard Voldemort’s voice boom over the forest, saying, “Harry Potter is dead.”
He said a very many other things, but I wasn’t really listening. Instead, I heard the sound of hundreds of people despairing. He’s not dead, I wanted to tell them, You’ll still get your happy ending.
In that moment, I thought, What am I doing? Why did I wish to be here? I need to live my life, not someone else’s version of a life. Whether I think this version would be better than mine is irrelevant. I got dealt a certain hand, and just because I didn’t get a royal flush, it doesn’t mean I should fold. I have to just play with what I have, and hope for the best.
In that moment, I felt the swirling around me as the darkness cocooned me once more. Justin looked up and I shouted through the swirling black, “To get home you have to accept the cards you were dealt!”
Then the blackness covered my face and I saw no more.

I opened my eyes to mechanical beeping and the smell of antiseptic and bandages. My eyelashes were stuck together, glued by too much sleep. I managed to open them though, and the first thing i saw was my father, looming over me, his eyebrows creased in worry.
“Whats - whats going on?” I coughed, my voice rough with disuse.
“You gave us quite the scare there honey,” he said. “You’ve been out for three days,”
“You were in a car accident,” a helpful nurse commented from the bed beside me, “we lost you to a coma for a little while.”
“I had the oddest of dreams,” I said remembering, “I had entered one of my favorite books.”
My dad held up The Deathly Hallows, “It wouldn’t happen to have been this one, would it?” I just smiled.
The nurse left the bed beside me to come check my vitals, revealing a boy with strong features and deep blue-green eyes.




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